Day 373!

Word of the Day: Spain

Hello Everyone!

I am sorry I haven’t blogged in quite awhile. I’ve been so busy. LOL…

Anyway we celebrated Tim’s 1 year anniversary with Aramco on August 17th while we were in Spain for 23 days. We can’t believe it’s been a year already. So much has happened and we are learning so much. We are very grateful for this opportunity.

I went to Lake Como Italy with some girl friends July 15 – 25. It was a blast! I highly recommend visiting Italy.

We also will be in Houston in October and November as Tim has training at the corporate office. We are excited for that as well because it gives us the opportunity to travel within the U.S. We will hopefully be in Denver in November. Fingers crossed!

It has been so hot here. 104 – 108 degrees all week. Humidity is very high as well. The weather was perfect in Spain. We were happy to be staying on a beach. The weather in Spain was very warm but no humidity and a slight breeze from the ocean. Muy bueno!

We stayed at the southern most point of Spain so we could visit Rock of Gibralter, Cadiz, El Puerto de Santa Maria, Seville. We also saw cities on the side of mountains that were so quaint and beautiful.

I will attach pictures.

Miss you all!
Love,
Flying Jay Hawk aka Minister of the Interior aka Melinda

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Day 206!

Wednesday
March 12, 2014

Word of the Day: Shamal (wind storm)

Definition: A shamal [شمال, north] is a northwesterly wind blowing over Iraq and the Persian Gulf states (including Saudi Arabia and Kuwait), often strong during the day, but decreasing at night.[1] This weather effect occurs anywhere from once to several times a year, mostly in summer but sometimes in winter.[1] The resulting wind typically creates large sandstorms that impact Iraq, most sand having been picked up from Jordan and Syria.

Need I say more? Staying in and catching up on my blog. Lucky you!

Short and sweet though.

We are doing great and having fun planning our trips that start in May. We are coming back in May for Courtney’s graduation! Yeah…we are so proud of her! We are looking forward to seeing everyone we can. We leave Saudi May 13th, fly from Bahrain to Dubai, Dubai to NY, stay for one night and two days there and then to Denver. Tim will head back to Saudi (unfortunately) on the 23rd and then I go to Cabo with friends and then back to Denver until June 11th. Yippee!!

Anyway, we are having fun and learning lots.

Miss you all,
Flying Jay Hawk aka MELinda aka Minister of the INterior

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Day 181!

Word of the Day: Celebration!

Hello Everyone!

I am behind AGAIN! ;0)

It is our 6 month anniversary today as we arrived at 10:00 p.m. here in Saudi Arabia. I recall being exhausted due to a very long flight! I couldn’t wait to get to our home and go to bed. Anyway, we are doing fine and missing everyone so much!

As I reflect on the last 6 months I have realized how blessed we are living in the US, however, this is a wonderful experience and I am embracing the differences and learning to let go of things I can’t control. This is good for myself and Tim. In the US our customer service is so much better and we also get things done promptly, quickly and efficiently. Everything here is “Insha allah” (God Willing). I am a bottabingbottaboom kinda gal! UGH!!!!!!!! Help me. lol…

Anyway, since my last blog Tim has been working his normal shift work and still trying to get a sleep rythym. That is tough. I feel bad for him but it could change one day and that will be great! In the meantime, we just focus on the monthly apology and move on. lol…

We went to a retirement party the other night. Our friends Donna and Mike are retiring after 27 years. They raised their family here. They are very excited and yet somewhat reluctant as this is all they know. All their friends are here now and saying good bye or even see you later is difficult. But, they will retire in Florida and keep a home in Houston as well for now. They will continue to travel and I kept reassuring Donna that she will have friends to visit and travel with regularly. They are such a sweet couple. I told them, “You can’t leave!” All the fun people are leaving! ;0) When its time, its time.

I have been enjoying golf league on Tuesdays, the golf clinics on Thursday and tennis on Sundays and Mondays. Of course lessons and practice in between. I am volunteering to work the registration table for our upcoming golf tournament. It is the CEO cup. Should be lots of fun. I will participate in the next tournament.

My car is a lot of fun and perfect for the camp. Thanks Tim!! He has been so good to me. I am very lucky to have such a great husband. ;0)

He and I played tennis for a while today. Since he is a lefty, it throws me off. Even though he hasn’t played as long as me the mere fact that he has such a different approach to hitting either makes me laugh or run for cover! Ha…once he gets his serves down he will be a force to be reckoned with. ;0)

I am now the Nominations Director for AWEP. Yikes! I have been reading over applications and calling and emailing people to step up and be President, VP or Secretary as the current one’s are retiring. Voting will end in May which is good because I will be gone a lot once May hits. Then they will probably nominate me for the Director of Activities. I don’t know if I want the responsibility? We are up to 75 members now. If you don’t know what AWEP is, it is a philanthropic association. It is 20 years old. An American XPAT started it. It grew to over 500 member but as years have gone by it has declined a bit. Because the population of XPATs are declining. I think the ratio is 18% XPATs and 82% Saudi. Tim thinks it will change though. He thinks the 18% will grow due to expansion. I hope so!

AWEP stands for American Women of the Eastern Province. It is here to also be a safe haven for Americans. We raise money for good causes. We always have at least 3 causes that we support. It is fun and I like that we get together to help others. Especially women and children!

Tim is off the next two days! I am so happy and so is he.

I am going to post random pictures for your viewing pleasure.

Take care,
Flying Jay Hawk aka MELinda aka Minister of the Interior

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Day 125 – 165!

Wednesday
January 29, 2014

Word of the Day! Fun

I do NOT know where to begin…

Grab a drink and a comfortable seat and maybe some tissues because I hope to make you laugh and maybe even cry!

First of all Happy New Year everybody! I hope everyone had a great holiday. We sure did! We were blessed to have Courtney here with us. I only wish Krystyna could have been here with us too! Courtney arrived on the 24th of December and we showed her around Aramco and Saudi Arabia, Bahrain. Put her into culture shock! Ha…no she is so worldly! I am proud of the fact that she can go anywhere and feel comfortable. Maybe too comfortable?! ;0) Just before she arrived here in Saudi she had visited Prague and Poland. She has a friend going to school in Poland so she was able to hang out with her. I am so glad she has the ability to see the world.

Anyway, we left on the 27th and headed to Dubai and we stayed at the worlds tallest hotel, JW Marriott Marquis and could see the worlds tallest building, Al Burj Kalifa. We saw fireworks from the top of our building. You could see Al Burj Kalifa’s fireworks coming off of their building all the way up and down the sides of it and then they had at least a mile or two of fireworks coming out of the ocean. It was the largest firework show I have ever seen! The World Book of Records was there to see it and I believe Dubai made it into the book, AGAIN. What an experience! Then we took a Sand Dune Safari out in the Red Sands of the dessert. That was a lot of fun. We were picked up at the hotel in a Toyota land cruiser and taken to the dessert where they drove through the dunes of red sand for several kilometers until we came to a meeting place where all the 4 wheel drivers meet and we hopped out of the car for photos to be taken and then back into the land cruiser to continue the 4 wheeling. We arrived at a fort where we could ride camels and eat dinner. We sat on the ground on pillows at a low table and ate our dinner. There were also vendors selling art, scarves, henna. Courtney and I had henna painted on our hands. That was really neat to watch. There was a belly dancer and a man that dances only by spinning in circles in his dress. Forgive me but I can’t remember the story about him or his dress or style of dancing as I was too busy wondering why on God’s green earth you would want to do that?! Ha…it made me sick just watching. ;0) He was amazing and I applauded him but I kept thinking, no wonder he is so skinny. He probably gets sick after every performance!

Riding the camel was hilarious! Courtney and I never laughed so hard. We both thought at one point that we were going to be thrown off because of how the camels get up and down. I don’t have the picture to post but Tim took it with Courtney’s camera. I can’t believe he was able to get such a timely photo. Lol…Every time Courtney and I look at that picture I about pee my pants! ha, ha, ha. It looked like a was shot in the back because I had arched my back and arms out to the side with this look of nice knowing you on my face. ha…gosh I hope I can find that picture to post. Courtney, if you are reading this please post it.

There is something I keep forgetting to share with you all. Call to prayer. As I type I am listening to it right now. It is on a speaker that goes out to all of Saudi Arabia/Aramco. It happens 5 times per day. I don’t know what they are saying but it is sometimes aminous. sp? But we also hear the church bells chime at the American Consolate everyday too. We also have the fighter jets make their rounds usually 3 times per day but in the last few days it has been a lot more than 3 times per day. Some of them were really low…so low I could tell their glass tops were not over the pilots. They must have been performing exercises of some kind? Anyway, it is a noisy place here sometimes but at least it is not boring! I know we are being protected too.

Back to the trip. So as we finished getting Henna painted on our hands. Courtney and I walk over to look at some art and this local guy wants to sell us scarves. He looks at me and he looks at Courtney and he says to me, Mum, “I will give you 12 camels if you let me marry your daughter.” I said…What? HELL NO! There are not enough camels on this earth you could give me to marry my daughter! gggggggrrrrrrrrrrrr…roar…all I could think about was the fire coming out of my ears, nose and eyes! I stopped myself at that point because I was about to say something else that wasn’t so nice! Then Tim says, (we all know Tim don’t we) if you give me 12 goats too you can have her. ggggggggggggrrrrrrrrrrrrr…I smacked him on the arm and said Tim whats wrong with you?! He says I’m just kidding. Meanwhile Courtney is just standing there with her chin on the ground. Ha….she is now in therapy for life! Just kidding Courtney. I am sure learning to have a sense of humor around here. More so than I already had. I am really learning to embrace the culture out here even though I don’t understand it sometimes. I realize they probably don’t understand me either.

The next day we go to walk the beaches in Dubai and we see a guy promoting Sea Wings. It is a company that provides sea planes to fly people over Dubai for a tour. After quite a long conversation with the man we decided to do it. So we made the reservation and came back the next day. It was worth every penny. I would do it again! It was the smoothest landing I have ever experienced. The pilot is from Australia. They only hire the best pilots. We were up there for an hour and were able to see everything. The Palm which is the Palm tree shaped land in the ocean that they are building residential homes. They are in the process of creating another one as well. Dubai is booming! It is clean and hardly any crime. They take pride in that and it shows.

The shopping was amazing as well. We went to two famous malls. Emirates Mall where the indoor ski resort is. We did not ski as it was too crowded. But it is just like a ski resort with a lodge and fireplaces, hot cocoa and kids running around in their ski gear.

Meanwhile, I forget it is Tim’s and my 24th wedding anniversary! Ha…usually its the man that forgets. ;0) So as we are standing in a golf shop, he says to me Oh, by the way, Happy Anniversary. I said What? Today? OMG. How did I do that? I am so sorry. Happy Anniversary to you too. He says which golf clubs do you want? Again, I say What? No way. I am not worthy! wink wink…needless to say I received my new clubs. Pings no less. I love them! I am a better golfer now. NOT!! He is so good to me. Sometimes I can’t believe our life now. It is truly magical at times. I feel so blessed. The only thing that would make this complete is to have all my loved ones with me too! I miss you all so much. Sometimes I don’t think its worth it to be so far away but then I realize what a wonderful opportunity this is and I snap out of it. But I would love to share it with you all.

We left Dubai on Jan. 4th and headed to Bahrain. We stayed there for one night and two days at The Ritz Carlton. We enjoyed walking around the property and dined at Trader Vic’s. A very popular restaurant here! We looked for sea shells and went jet skiing on the Persian Gulf. This time I stayed on my jet ski. Courtney did very well and of course Tim was showing off!

We arrived back in Saudi at Aramco on the 4th and it rained for two days straight. It was nice though as it only rains here maybe twice per year. Tim and Courtney love to bond by watching the Harry Potter Movies so we downloaded them off of Amazon and they and sometimes me watched all 6 or 7 of them. Help me!! I can’t sit that long. They had fun.

We took Courtney to the airport on the 11th of January. It was raining! Again, strange. Therefore, NOONE knows how to drive in the rain out here! OH WAIT…NOONE knows how to drive here AT ALL. Ha…we had a driver take us to the airport in Dammam. We prefer the airport in Bahrain but Courtney had to fly into Dammam according to her Visa. But next time she can come in through Bahrian. Dammam’s airport isn’t bad it is just different. She made it as far as NY and got stuck there due to freezing conditions. She was able to see her cousin, Marissa. I am so glad for that! I am also glad that they found her bags as one of them was a suitcase full of gifts we bought people. whew.

Once January hit things have just been crazy! Let me try to sum it up for you.
1. I have been promoted to Nominations Chair for AWEP. (which means I have to find a new President for AWEP) WHAT?????
2. I got a Porsche Boxster S, used of course. Convetible, of course. GREAT price I might add! And more new friends too. ;0)
3. I am now the Activities Director for the Golf Club. (now I have to plan a Valentine’s party in 2 weeks) HELP!!
4. Tim’s BIrthday celebration was last night, a week night so low key but fun. We had about 12 people. I kept it small! (difficult to do)
5. I took on fostering dogs and helping find homes. Oh my! What was I thinking? It is a great thing to do here. I get my dog fix.
6. I found him an excellent home!

Let me expound on the dog for a minute. Tim and I had to take him to a vet in Dammam to get him neutered. 3o minutes away. Crappy roads, no street signs, VERY strict on women being covered up. NEED I SAY MORE…got lost. We were 2 hours late. When we arrived the dog was car sick, we saw a camel dying of dehydration, a farmer brought in his sick sheep and another farmer brought in his female lamb who had given birth to a still birth baby in the back of his truck. Stupid me got too close and said what is that? Then I realized what it was and I about got sick as well. Let me ask you this…When do you see that when YOU go to the vet?? Huh? Then, Tim and I go to get lunch somewhere while we wait for the dog to get neutered and shots and some saudi guys yell out their window in arabic, slut. I was covered up from neck to toe but because I am clearly american and not covering my head, I am a slut. Anyway, sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never harm me. right?! I chalked it up to a joke or lack of education.

7. Singles Tennis League is high gear
8. Golf League is in high gear.
9. I do not get to play doubles tennis league because I am golfing on Tuesdays now.
10. I finally got a beautiful dining room table from Pottery Barn. Love it and can now have people over.
11. Book club has started and Bunco.
12. I found out I am going to be a GREAT AUNT! Woo hoo…congrats to my beautiful niece and nephew (Katy and Mike).

Note to self:

DO NOT over book myself! aaaaaahhhhhhhhh…yesterday was so jam packed. I slept like a baby last night! Luckily I had the forthright not to plan a darn thing today. ;0)

Good news too. I will be gone a lot come May. So excited!!

In May I come home to Colorado for Courtney’s graduation, then Cabo for our friends 40th bday (you know who you are, Ken) ;0),
June back to Saudi to prepare to meet my sister MK in Italy in July. Come back for Repat from mid August – mid September, come back to Saudi and pack and go to Houston for two months October and November, Tim has training and I will visit my bro then head to Colorado or somewhere else. yippee! Then December I should be here in Saudi. But, I would love to go to Germany or Switzerland for Christmas. ;0) I think I am pushing the envelope here!

Love you guys!
Flying Jay Hawk aka MELinda aka Minister of the Interior

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Day 124!

Thursday
December 19, 2013

Word of the Day: Celebration!

I have a full day! Tennis at 9:30 with Desta, Golf at 1:00 and party at 4:30. Ahhhh…

Yasmin’s kids are back! They are a Pakistani family that have lived here for 18 years. Her kids were raised here and went to boarding schools. They went to University in the states and are very Americanized. They are a fun family! She had 3 boys. Two are married and one is not. They all live in the states. Khan and Yasmin love it here but miss their hometown of Texas and Louisianna. Yasmin had a tent from Pakistan permanently built in her back yard. It is gorgeous! I only took one picture last night because I was so busy meeting people. I need to remember to keep my phone on me so I can take more pictures. I did get one! I will get more of the tent because I will be over there again for ladies events. The people were fun and it was really nice to meet the kids who are back from college. It made me so excited to see Courtney on the 24th!!

I finally came home about 11 p.m. and tried to wait up for Tim but it didn’t happen! I fell asleep with the light on, glasses on my face and phone in my hand. Ha…I had intentions of calling Tim to ask him where he was because he usually is home about 10:15ish.

Fun day!

Love,
Flying Jay Hawk aka MELinda aka Minister of the Interior

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Day 123!

Wednesday
December 18, 2013

Word of the Day: Spontaneity

I love spontaneity!

I was suppose to have coffee with Carolina. My friend from tennis. She and her family are going to Spain for Christmas and we wanted to see each other before we all go our separate ways. Somehow it didn’t work out. She had an offer to go shopping in the morning while I had a tennis lesson with Desta then we would meet up in the afternoon to play tennis. But…instead Tim and I had to pick up our car. The dealership added keyless entry and ordered us a new seatbelt for the back seat. The seat belt was not retracting. Things always take longer here to do. But, we are learning to plan better around going places or at least letting people know where we are going and when we THINK we may be back. I also had promised Corinne since she did not have her car today that I would take her to her appointment on camp. We barely made it back in time to do that! I don’t like it if I tell someone that I will do something and then I don’t or can’t help.

Corinne and Santiago finally received their shipment from the states. They shipped some of their home items to Saudi. It takes up to 4 months to receive a shipment. You are not guaranteed the shape your furniture will be in by the time it reaches here. I am sooooo glad we didn’t ship anything. They had quite a bit of damage! They hope to get items repaired or replaced but that could also take months. They had water damage for some reason. I stopped by to see her house and what they brought to Saudi and I was amazed how much they had. Since we took cash in lieu of shipping we have been able to buy new and what we want to fit the life style here. Having said that I don’t like some of the furniture as it is quite gaudi (goddy) Xpats refer to it as Saudi Gaudi! lol…some of it is very unique though. I do like some of the art.

I am enjoying the evenings here. The weather is cooler and more enjoyable for golf and tennis. Night time golf here is very popular and I must say the course is lit very well.

Flying Jay Hawk aka MELinda aka Minister of the Interior

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Day 122!

Tuesday
December 17, 2013

Word of the Day: Eyes

So Corinne, Meghan and I went to run errands today! We had Meghan’s driver, Manu take us to Khobar to pick up some items and then we went to Al Rishad Mall to see Dr. Jerry to get our eyes checked. My eyes have changed and not for the better. I am not used to the idea of going to the mall to see an Eye Doctor but that is the way it goes. This doctor was recommended to us so we are trusting in him. My eyes did change! Not much but enough to get my readers lens replaced. I am NOT a candidate for lasik which is too bad because I can get that done for $20 US. We headed home just in time for my dishwasher to be replaced. One of the things I love about being here is all I have to do is call 939 from our home phone and they will replace and fix anything. We don’t have to take care of the maintenance. It is similar to living in an apartment. But better! I almost feel useless. Ha…I don’t clean, I don’t fix things but I do cook from time to time. I could hire a cook but really don’t need to do that. I enjoy cooking and so does Tim. I am enjoying life out here!

See the attached silly pictures of Meghan and I wearing the funny eye glasses that test our vision.

By the way, Meghan is one of my tennis partners!

One week until Courtney arrives!! Woo hoo…

Flying Jay Hawk aka MELinda aka Minister of the Interior

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Day 121!

Monday
December 16, 2013

Word of the Day: Busy!

Tim had to take our car into the dealership to get some items added and the back seatbelt fixed. Meanwhile I went to meet Lazzat and Sawsan and Rita for breakfast at El Chico’s at the Golf Course. I play tennis with Lazzat and she wanted us to get together so I could meet Sawsan. She is from Iraq but lives in Canada primarily. Her husband works here. She is gone a lot. She would rather be with her son in Canada or in London travelling. She is very interesting. We talked about Iraq quite a bit. I am very intrigued with the new friends I am making. ;0)

When I came home I had a package on my front door step. I was soooooo excited! It was from Mom and MK! They sent me the nicest gift! See picture.

I took Tim to work at 2:00 then I ran over to Melissa’s house to get some Christmas items, came home for my outdoor furniture cover delivery, showered and went to Christmas Bunco party! Whew…what a fun group of girls they are! I need to get pictures of these people. They are crazy! LOL…but I love it.

I won a beautiful lantern. If you are not familiar with Bunco it is 3 tables of 4 ladies. You partner up with the one across from you and you roll the dice. You start with one’s (only rolling one’s and counting how many times), until someone rings the bell stating that they have achieved 21 points. Then the hostess would say everybody pass your Christmas gift to the left. I had been eyeballing the lantern the whole nite. Finally at the last table I got a Bunco. So I got to pick the one I wanted. So I took the lantern from a gal and gave her the gift I had which was the one she brought. Ha…oh well! mmmmwwwwwaaaaaa….

Anyway, all’s fair in love and war! Hee, hee…

Flying Jay Hawk aka MELinda aka Minister of the Interior

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Day 120!

Sunday
December 15, 2013

Word of the Day: Paint

Meghan and I went shopping in Khobar and Al Rishad Mall. Our intentions were to get our eyes checked but the doctor was not in. ho hum…so we decided to go back Tuesday. We had a great time shopping. She showed me a few places I had not seen in Khobar that have great bread. Not that we need to eat more bread!! Holy bread man. This country eats ALOT of bread. No wonder Diabetes is so prevalent here. All they eat is sugar and bread. They love sweets and coffee! Tea too but mostly coffee.

The painters came to paint today and I had the two bathrooms painted and the hallway plus Courtney’s bedroom. It looks great! Can’t wait to see her. I will paint other rooms as time goes by but I am not in a hurry.

Check out the pictures!

Flying Jay Hawk aka MELinda aka Minister of the Interior

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Day 119!

Saturday
December 14, 2013

Word of the Day: Men!

Ha…Tim and Santiago wanted to go to the Aramco Harley Davidson and Car Show. It was all day from 8 – 5 p.m. It actually was really neat to see all the people come out to show their collector items. They came from all over the Saudi area. They only ride in large groups outside the compound due to such horrible drivers on the road. In fact, Xpats usually just stay on the compound.

I will post some pictures for you. Pictures are worth 1000 words. There were bands and food, vendors selling items. Tim saw a fat boy harley he wants now because it matches his SRT. MEN!!!!!! ;0)

Enjoy the pictures!

Flying Jay Hawk aka MELinda aka Minister of the Interior

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