Mooving!! Mooving!! Mooving!!

I am actually singing a song about moving while typing this post. Yes, we are moving again! The life of an expat in the Middle East is all about moving. Growing up in the UAE for 25 years, we have moved 8 times. Nothing is permanent. You can own property if you have the money, but people who have money here are only a small percentage. Everyone else is a paycheck to paycheck kind of employee.

Anyway, like I said, we are moving again. I didn’t even get a chance to blog about our current apartment and we are moving again. I hate moving. Packing and sorting and figuring out if you should throw away stuff because your next apartment is smaller.

Apartment choices in Doha is very limited for small time expats like us. With a small paycheck, we always opt to renting just a room, or even just a bedspace. We would rather save a chunk of our salary than spend half of it on rent. With the kind of budget that we have, most of the choices we have are old buildings, old villas or really small space- always ending up in cramped living quarters.

Oh well, we are moving again and I have no choice. Although it does present a whole range of new possibilities, packing and getting things ready with two kids under three is another challenge.

Oh well…

Garrets Popcorn: One of the things I miss about Dubai

I have been living in Doha for over a year now and we have pretty much settled in. The kids are regulars at the play area at the McDonalds near our place and also at the Pediatric Emergency Unit of Hamad Hospital which is also near our place. I have to add though that being a regular at McD’s and the emergency unit is no way related. My kids are usually sick because of the bad weather and some virus that’s going around. So don’t troll me Please!

Anyway, as much as I love Doha, there are certain things you can’t find here that are accessible in my previous home which is Dubai. And the number one item on that long list is Garrets popcorn.

Oh how I missed my bag of Garrets! So when Chubb Hubb went to Dubai for the Eid, I made sure he got me a bag. And it was such a pleasant surprise when he came back with TWO BUCKETS!!! My brother sent me one and two of my really good friends sent me one. WOOHOO! This mommy just did imaginary cartwheels.

Pecan Caramel Crisp from Garrets
Pecan Caramel Crisp from Garrets

So the bucket of Chicago mix was the first to go and now the Caramel Crisp is also almost over… I think it’s about time I find out who will be traveling to Dubai so that I can secure some space in their luggage for my bucket of Garrets…

Chicago Mix from Garrets
Garret Mix

No Bake Layered Nutella Cheesecake

Since I have been on a cooking high the past few months, I was also doing a lot of desserts- from perfecting my cheesecake (still a LOOOONG way to go) and making my own ice cream.

This no bake cheesecake with a layer of nutella and oreo crust was a total goner the minute I served it.

My kids are going to be fat.

Happy and fat.

Recipe to be posted once I have perfected it. :)

 

No Bake Nutella Cheesecake
No Bake Nutella Cheesecake

 

Bacon stuffed Rosemary Chicken Thighs on a bed of Arugula

Been cooking a lot lately.

I realized that being a mom with a toddler that is always hungry, you have to cook all the time. During my pre-children days, I only cooked when there was nothing to eat. Now, if I don’t cook, my daughter would throw a hissy fit out of hunger. I don’t usually tolerate Aria’s hissy fits, but if I know it is my fault, I can’t blame her. It is my job anyway to provide her meals. oh well… Motherhood 101.

I am such a noob.

This isn’t really a recipe post. Just wanted to post something… But this meal was gooooooood.

Bacon stuffed Rosemary Chicken Thighs on a bed of Arugula leaves
Bacon stuffed Rosemary Chicken Thighs on a bed of Arugula leaves

 

Dear Dad, it’s becoming clear to me now…

Been going through a lot in the personal issues department lately so I decided to put off writing about happy stuff for a while, til I found my momentum and until i established what I really want to be writing about.

A few years ago, my dad retired prematurely by his own choice and left Dubai (his home for more than two decades) to live in the Philippines. I was a bit resentful about the move because I was hoping my kids would  grow to an age where they would have memories of their grandparents. I knew though that the distance was not going to make that possible and since we were expats, and expats were (most of the time) paid according to the color of their skin, I was very, very resigned to starting a life away from my parents. We couldn’t afford to be too extravagant with traveling to the Philippines during all the breaks that we have. It would be more practical to send the money that spend it there.

My dad has been diabetic since he turned 40. His health has always been on a very gradual decline because of work related stress, family related stress (induced by 3 stubborn and hard headed kids), and poor eating habits. There are so many unhealthy food within reach in the UAE that it is no wonder that most of the population are overweight and diabetic (including me?!).

Lately, his memory has not been at its peak. He has started forgetting names, and even events in his life. For someone who hasn’t even reached 60, my dad has started being too forgetful.

A few months ago, after his trip to visit us here in Qatar and my older brother’s family in the UAE, his health was in such a state that we couldn’t ignore it anymore. Even he knew he had to get himself checked… When he did, after numerous procedures and tests, they found a completely blocked vein and two partially blocked ones. He was a timebomb waiting to explode.

My dad is still young. I still want him around.

Now I understand why he retired early.

He knew he wasn’t in the best of shape. His memory was failing him constantly. He couldn’t work properly because his mind was always blank or he couldnt remember things he needed to do. He wanted to save face.

I understand now Dad, you went because you had to go.

I hope you take care of yourself Dad. I still want you around. Even if there is the big distance between us, we can still be constantly connected by technology. I still want my kids to have memories with you Dad. The ones where they realize they love you and want you in their life… the way I feel about you.

QIFF 2015, a world of endless opportunities for your mouth

There are so many opportunities for trying out so many different things at the recently concluded Qatar International Food Festival at the Museum of Islamic Art, Doha, that going there for just half a day is not enough.

If life were under different circumstances, I would have gone all the days. Maybe next year.

But for now, I will just share some of the things I tried and experienced at this year’s event.

The first class dining in the sky by Qatar Airways at the QIFF 2015
The first class dining in the sky by Qatar Airways
Yalla Natural's stall encouraging everyone to grow their own vegetables at the QIFF 2015
Yalla Natural’s stall encouraging everyone to grow their own vegetables. Whih is one of my fave since I am a very frustrated gardener #blackthumb
Mr Taco Mexican Food stall at the QIFF 2015
Mr Taco Mexican Food stall at the QIFF 2015. I was in the mood for churros. I found theirs a bit dry but it was ok. Loved their tamarindo juice though.
an Indian guy making bangles at the Royal Tandoor stall at the QIFF 2015
While waiting for our butter chicken we watched the Indian guy making bangles at the Royal Tandoor stall at the QIFF 2015
live cooking demo at the QIFF 2015
ofcourse, we didnt miss the opportunity to watch a live demo. Chef was from Sheraton in Turkey. The beef dish reminded us of the pinoy dish “kalderetang baka”. i wanted to try the aubergines in bechamel sauce though but we didn’t get the chance. it got devoured the second it was offered to the public… boofreakinghoo!

Fireworks at the Qatar International Food Festival 2015 (QIFF2015) Doha Qatar Fireworks at the Qatar International Food Festival 2015 (QIFF2015) Doha Qatar

Fireworks at the Qatar International Food Festival 2015 (QIFF2015) Doha QatarHopefully next year my kids would be bigger and they won’t be sick. and we’ll have a grand time at the QIFF 2016… And we’ll be more prepared for parking. :)

A day in the life of…

I like food. So when I found out that they had a festival for food in Doha, I knew I had to go and be there.

We decided to visit the second day because we were busy on the first day. The Chubby Hubby planned to meet us there from work and I brought the two kids with me from home. We didn’t expect these festivals to be so popular (Doha newbie here) because when we got there, it took 40 minutes to make the u-turn going to the venue. Chubby Hubby complained that he couldn’t find parking and that the organizers were turning cars away to go park somewhere else. So he tried to find parking outside the Museum of Islamic Art vicinity and found himself in a lot of competition with other QIFF attendees.

Meanwhile, the kids and I after being stuck in the cab for 40 minutes at that U-turn, decided to get down and just cross the street. I forgot that I was going to cross the street with a two year old and a little boy strapped to my body. Not to mention the baby bag and Aria’s backpack (which always ends up on my back). We managed though but the area where the event was being held was quite a walk from the entrance too and it didn’t take long until Aria started insisting I carry her.

At this point, I called the Chubby Hubby and asked where he was, to which he replies in an annoyed tone that he is still looking for parking.

It’s already been an hour and I haven’t sampled any food yet at the festival, which was taking its toll on me. But I was determined not to go home until I had experienced at least something with food. So I told the Chubby Hubby that I will be walking around with the kiddos to check the place out.

So I held Aria’s hand and navigated through the different stalls, looking at all the scrumptious looking food, salivating at every corner. I didn’t have enough cash with me at the time and I was saving up for something I felt I had to have. So I was being a stingy woman while I searched for that one thing I had to have in my mouth.

My daughter was thrilled to be outdoors but got bored and tired with all the walking. She would occasionally ask me to carry her to which I would reply that I can’t because I was already carrying Marcus. My little boy was already fast asleep while strapped to me and was snoring a bit.

We have been wandering for about 40 minutes when i decided to give the Chubby hubby another call to which he gave me the same annoyed answer. I concede and tell him that I’ll go and find him and that we could just go home. I was tired too because I haven’t eaten anything.

So I told my daughter that we are going to find her dad. She follows me for a few steps and then stops and insists that I carry her. I say ‘no’ and tell her why. She starts her tantrums. I walk away. She cries louder. People walking by ask if they can help me by carrying her. I politely decline because I know Aria will throw a fit if a stranger will carry her. She cries. I carry her. With Marcus strapped to me. In other words, I start carrying both my kids at the same time. One 15 Kg kid and another 8 kg kid.

I walk for a few minutes and put Aria down. She wants to be carried. She cries. I walk away. And the cycle repeats.

Marcus, bless his heart, was calm throughout the ordeal.

We finally reach the car about 10 minutes away from the park gates. I had both kids in my arms hoping the Chubby Hubby sees that I too had struggles of my own. But when we got closer, his car was empty. I put a distressed Aria down and checked my phone.

4 missed calls. MAAAAAN!

I immediately called back, and Chubby Hubby answers that he is inside and that he’s been trying to call me. I say, ok, I’ll go to him. Aria insists again to be carried.

SO I carry both kids back to the park.

Well, I had some good and not so great food that night. We stayed to watch the fireworks along the very beautiful Westbay skyline.

When we got home, my baby girl had a slight fever. I gave her some medicine and put her to bed and when I got back I saw her in convulsions. Seeing my daughter like that is the most terrifying thing  in my life. I called the Chubby Hubby. Aria loses consciousness and I was afraid to check so I asked him to bring her to the hospital. Tried to be as calm as I could but kept playing worst case scenarios in my head. I was in my jammies as I left Marcus with a dear friend and rushed after Aria and Chubby Hubby to the closest hospital (which was thankfully just a few doors away from our building). They, however, turned us away and sent us the Hamad Pediatric Emergency Center a few blocks away.

At the Emergency Center, they did tests to rule out as many infections as possible. We stayed till the wee hours of the morning and found out that she only had an ear infection and that her seizure was caused by her high fever. Apparently febrile convulsions are common in children from 6 months to 6 years. They happen without doing any damage to a child’s brain. Even though the doctor kept telling me that it is normal, it is still a scary sight. He gives me tips on how to handle the episodes and some medicine and sends us home. Thank God for health cards in this country! I wonder what it would be like if the same thing happened to us if we were in the Philippines.

She was fine earlier that day. I immediately felt guilty for putting my daughter through that just because I wanted so bad to be a part of the QIFF and had to be there.

We got home around 3 am. I didn’t sleep well and kept checking on Aria. She looked fine. As a matter of fact, she started snoring.

I whispered a prayer of thanks as I held her that early morning.

the art of getting by without much

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