Monday, March 19, 2012

Our New Sandbox

i must preface this post with the following.....

We are SO thankful for our Villa/home!  i literally cried happy tears when it was confirmed days before our move that we had secured this place.  Really!  It was the one place we viewed in October where we felt it would be a perfect fit for our family for the next few years.  And getting our shipment from home after 2 months in this desert is like Christmas in March!  We opened boxes with anticipation of what's inside.  Sleeping in our own bed with our own sheets and pillows is the epitome of cozy comfort.  Everything showed up in one piece and we had fabulous movers that unpacked each box, assembled all furniture and even hung our clothes in the closets (not necessarily the correct ones mind you).  Yes, it sounds all very fairytale~ish but that is pretty much where the sidewalk ends.  Literally!

With that said, this "glass is half full" sort of girl was at her wits end this week.  If a move from one city to another is exhausting then settling in half way across the world is excruciatingly painful!  i am not ready to throw in the towel and purchase my one way ticket back home yet but there was much weariness this week.   

Reader Beware:  Venting ahead!

First of all, we had to start off the week by saying goodbye to some wonderful people that not only gave us expectational service for the past 2 months but have also become our friends.  Although we can visit them anytime, it isn't the same as having them downstairs and bumping into them in the elevators.

To ease the goodbyes, we were anticipating the excitement as a family of moving into our new home.  It wasn't long before we learned to take deep breaths and repeat the expat mantra.
  "Welcome to Dubai..."  
(The meaning is all in the tone.  It is said with a sigh and no enthusiasm.)  

My first chore in the villa was tiding up the dead gecko.

Really, this should have been no big deal, but keep in mind that typically you clean a house BEFORE you move in which for us means BEFORE our shipment arrived which would concurrently mean i have not one single cleaning supply in my possession.  i simply resolve to call a cleaning service to help me out.  After 10 phone calls of broken English, i discover there are numerous cleaning services happy to come and assist me but i must have all the supplies on hand.  OK, no problem... i can do that.  i set off to navigate the numerous isle of cleaning products at one of the local hypermarts.  However, the type of cleaning that needs to be done here is not typical of that which i am use to.  Besides dead geckos there is sand constantly piling up under my door.  Every. Day.

After an hour of shopping, my cart is filled with a new vacuum that greatly resembles the shop vac we left at home to suck out gold fish and small toys from the back seat of the car, copious amounts of sponges, 2 different mops, toilet brushes, dust pans and 8 different cleaning products, 6 of which i have never seen before.  Once the cleaning lady arrives i proudly show her my newly acquired goods.  She surveys my arsenal and tries to explain to me in broken English that what she really needs to adequately clean my house is not in my stockpile.  She nevertheless gives me one head side nod and says, "No problem" which really translates.  "Another poor housewife that isn't allowed to work and can't even buy the right cleaning products.  i will do my best to rescue her."

Then there are appliances.  In the past when we have moved, any new appliance purchase is an exciting endeavor.  From picking out the perfect item to using it for the first time.  Shiny new appliances make a mundane activity suddenly seem enjoyable.  It could be all the new buttons and lights or just thinking the new and improved model MUST be doing a much better job than the older version.  Well, thanks to this little plug and a change in something called voltage we had got to purchase all new appliances.

From stove/oven dishwasher, dryer, washer, coffee maker, blender, toaster,  mixer... you get the idea, we had to get it all.  First off trying to decide what to get is overwhelming, because let me tell you they all do things they don't do in the US.  We didn't even know what questions to ask while purchasing.  My first load of dishes came out dirtier than they started.  i now know i should ask about the salt i need to balance the hard water and the special rinsing product to help the dishes dry in addition to the detergent needed to clean.

Every bathroom, kitchen and laundry room has this handy dandy little drain, right where i always want to step.  i can't even tell you how many times i have kicked that annoying little cover off.  i figured out after my 5th load of laundry WHY i so desperately need this by my dryer!  You see, my brand new dryer doesn't completely dry, yet is extremely high maintenance.  It has 3 separate compartments to be cleaned out after every other load.  The lint screen (i totally have THAT down), a second lint barrel that looks a lot like a pool filter which has to be removed, taken outside and hosed off.  (Make mental note to buy hose at store next time.)  And a third container which must be pulled out and drained.  Apparently this is the water that has been sucked out of my freshly washed clothes and needs to be disposed of.  

If i were a good consumer, i would sort through all the manuals, set aside the Arabic directions, and attempt to read the broken English directions to minimize my frustration.  However, being the the competent "housewife" that i am, i like to think i am able to use my new blender and make a cup of coffee without reading a manual.  When after a few minutes later i am almost reduced to tears, i surrender, sort through the 4 inch stack of manuals to find out how to make something blend, toast, wash, or cook.  

i was so happy one day to pull out my rice steamer from home.  The oldest appliance in my kitchen and suddenly my favorite!  i could hardly wait to use it!  i knew EXACTLY how to cook rice in it.  i plugged it into the transformer (because i know it needs additional voltage help) only to find out i burned out both my steamer and the transformer because the wattage was too high!  

i have to remember buy drinking water at the store... i live in the desert!  When i forget, that is a problem.

i also have to remember i now have the latest manual garbage disposal.  My eco~conscience compost collector which must be carried into the car, driven to school and disposed of at the kiddo's compost pile in the school garden.  

This place is a complete dichotomy and at times i have a hard time wrapping my mind around the fact that i can locate an ATM that dispenses gold...

But i have to do my hair in a storage closet because there is not outlet within 25 feet of any bathroom.  Outlet and light in storage closet makes way more sense than in the bathroom.  (Seriously!  i cannot make this stuff up!)

Sometimes when i am supposed to be searching out solutions for our villa issues, i find this and escape inside.  

It may sound ridiculous but it is the one place in Dubai where i know EXACTLY what to expect.  i know how to pronounce every item on the menu,  i know what my order will taste like before i get it.  They always speak the English i can understand AND even if i don't have cash they will still serve me because they take credit card!  It is a nice little reprieve but as i drain my drink, i know i have to go back out into the world because they won't let me stay there forever.  

Needless to say, by the end of this week i was feeling exhausted and a complete failure.  All the things i used to be able to do to care for my family, i was suddenly incompetent in.  i couldn't make dinner or clean the house.  i couldn't find the clothes the movers put away and i couldn't wash the dirty clothes i could find.  New friends didn't always recognize me because i was sporting the "i am not spending time in the storage room" hair do and my kids were late to school as we try to learn new short cuts.  It was hard.  i was grumpy, impatient and annoyed.  i don't do well with chaos and clutter and that was all i was surrounded by.    

How timely was this weeks women's Bible study.

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self control."
Galatians 5:22-26

It's all the things that would make this world a lovely and perfect place if we could just live these qualities out on a daily basis.  But unfortunately it's not in us naturally.  Oh, i am all about self control until i burned myself with the water that is turned up too high in the kitchen while the water in my master bath is cold.  You should have seen how patient i was with my kids and husband this week when they asked me where thing were.  i perfected a great pout when i realized i'd have to hire someone to hang all my pictures onto the concrete walls.  As for kindness, i'm pretty sure the only person i showed kindness to was the delivery guy who brought us our pizza.  

It didn't take long before i realized i was allowing the outward chaos of the world to constrict all inward joy and peace.  Yet, i so  much long for a life marked by love, peace, kindness and joy which spills out when i'm crushed by the circumstances around me.  i want to demonstrate these characteristics to my family and those around me in ways more tangible than just the physical means of laundry and food.  

Being pushed out of the comforts of the familiar forces me to look inward and evaluate what is really important in life.      

Riley unknowingly also shifted my perspective one afternoon.  While i was inside trying to put things away and infuriated with the sand all over my floor she calls to me from outside.  "Mom, come here a minute."  Completely frustrated and impatient i ask her what she wants.  i walk outside to find this.  

She's playing outside and cheerfully sweeping up sand, i can't even get frustrated that she has the broom and dust pan i had been looking for.  She says almost giggling, "Mommy, there is  A LOT of sand here.  i am making a sandbox with it."

i am working on filling my sandbox with the fruits of the Spirit not the chaos of my surroundings.


We baked our first batch of homemade cookies a few nights later.  The vanilla tasted like some gross chemical.  We had to convert cups to grams and Fahrenheit to Celsius which involved way too much thinking.  Chris ended up 'baking' them on the BBQ because i forgot to disassemble the rotisserie pieces before i heated up the oven.  It was a family effort to be sure and our sandbox is filling with the important stuff.  

(But for the record the cookies were disgusting.)


Lyndsay said...

Oh friend....I wish I could give you a big hug. I guess the romantic thought of moving across the world had to meet reality sometime huh? I definitely needed to hear your inner wisdom though as you realize how you need God to change the way you face these new challenges. We dropped morning naps over here for H and B so I've had my share of crabby impatient mornings as we get used to our new normal. Thanks for the challenge to bear those fruits no matter what. Hang in there girl!

Betty said...

Your horrible experiences are certainly entertaining - for those of us reading about it, not for you as you're experiencing it. I hope this week is more calm, that you've read a few manuals, found the right cleaning supplies, enjoyed another Starbucks (or two), moved the clothes to the right closet, baked some better cookies, and 'built' a bigger sandbow. Keep smiling, TJ - you are loved!

Anonymous said...

I came home, and mom said, Tami has a blog. I looked at moms face, and I knew this blog was going to be somewhat different. Was I right. I am sorry to say, I had to laugh, chuckle, giggle, yes dad can giggle.
But I also then realized that I haven't been faithful enough in praying for our family. You always have seemed to have it all together, even more so than mom and dad at times. But this week I sensed that it wasn't all together. But God gave you a word, from the Lord, and that truly assisted in filling the void. I am so sorry that the cookies didn't even taste good. But Riley, can bring a smile even to a stressed, troubled, and frustrated mom!! If only with a small waste basket, and a dust pan and broom. That is a picture to put in a diary, for years to come. Dad loves you and will just pray a little harder,

Anonymous said...

P.S. I did notice that you have a Kirdkland waste basket, thanks to Costco., What do people do that don't have little ones in school. Where does their compost go>?????? Or do you just adopt some little ones to take to school???
Do you remember on the farm!!! We took that food garbage out and believe it or not, friends, we threw it in the vineyard, and it got worked up the next time out with the tractor. We were Eco friendly and didn't even realize it.

Noelle said...

Oh,Love....I seriously have heart palpitations reading this and am completely breathless with total empathy for you :( All of that just plain old BITES!!! I can only imagine all of the feelings of frustration you are feeling.....How fortunate though that because of your steadfast faith and our AMAZING God,you are able to stop and pull yourself out of this drowning ocean of trials and just focus on HIM and his provisions which are SO abundant. Refocus and Regain! It's not going to be a familiar or easy road, but you WILL navigate it and each journey will get less and less traumatic. I am praying for you,sister! Props to Chris and his grillbake skills! Lol! :) Love you to Dubai and back xoxo

Lovella said...

Lyndsay's first words to you were my exact words...I wish I could give you a big hug! NOW I understand, to the best of my "American" ability, why you rolled your eyes back when I asked if you had been able to get your appliances to work yet. That question certainly confirmed I had no clue about what you are dealing with... For me, reading your blog brought tears, until the Starbucks part, then smiles came out. I love, love, love you, Tami! So thankful for the healing balm of God's Word.

Natalie said...

Welcome to culture shock. You're will get better every single day! I promise!!!! Big hugs, keep trooping. Starbucks is an excellent idea and remedy, by the way, great instincts.