Monday, August 19, 2013

Whirlwind Summer

It's been awhile since i've posted, we've been a bit consumed with summer.  Here's our past 3 months in a nutshell.

 In Dubai we rounded off the school year by saying farewell to fabulous teachers 

and checked off another year of precious elementary school.

We were able to fit in some paddle boarding before the extreme heat and humidity set in. 

    In the waters between the mosque... 

    and the Burj Al Arab, two of us paddled till our arms were tired, while the littlest one managed to hitch a ride.

Because you see, she needs to save her hands and strength for perfected her gecko taming skills.  
We have recently renamed her The Animal Whisperer.

We celebrated Chris' birthday with great friends in Dubai's latest record breaking building on the 

 73rd floor of the World's Tallest hotel

After that, it was off to the Good 'ol USA!
(Key the patriotic music)

It never fails ~ whenever the US immigration man stamps my passport and says, "Welcome Back Ma'am."  i always get teary eyed.

And in case any best friend ever doubts my love for her, let it be proven in the amount of time i traveled to see her and the time of day i left.  Just to make sure it's in writing...2:20 AM departure with 2 kids in tow.  27 hours of travel door to door which is pretty crazy considering she is only in Indiana and it takes us 16 hours to fly to California.  But with that said she did more than enough to make up for it.  The kids and i would do it all over again in a heartbeat to hang out with a bestie that i absolutely ADORE!

Picked up from the airport deJong style!! 
Beds and movies for the kids, cocktails and chitchat
 for the mommies for the last 1.5 hours of travel.  (Thanks for driving Arie!!)

Four blissful days of country life. 

Riding horses 

i am pretty sure my kids described it as Kid Heaven.

Awesome friends, milking cows, jumping off hay bales, getting dirty, shooting guns, 
staying up late, catching fireflies and 
watching bacon pigs grow.  

(i must interrupt myself for a side note: These 3 (below) are HUGE fans of bacon.  While in DC we even had to eat at a restaurant called THE PIG where the dessert was Bacon Brittle!!  In all honesty that sweet smiling, animal loving Riley (above) is admiring the little piglets and probably can't even comprehend that a few weeks later she will eat pig for DESSERT!)

Next stop: California 
This summer i experienced a bit of a culture shock.  
We had to be filled in on pop culture and current events.  We had never heard of Duck Dynasty, didn't know why Paula Deen wasn't cooking anymore, or who Zimmerman was and why he was on trial.  i found myself shocked at i saw on TV and heard on the radio.  i caught myself attempting to discreetly hide a bottle of wine as i walked into our hotel and wondered why every store was charging me extra for bags.  i couldn't believe returning a rental car could be so easy and that tattoos and piercings had become so overwhelmingly popular. 
But one thing didn't change, California means lots of fun, family, and love squeezed into a short period of time.   

Quick but wonderful Girls Get Away!!  
Doesn't even matter that our plans had to be changed about 15 times to make it happen.

So thankful for lots of sweet time with family and cousins.

No matter how much time we get to spend with people we always wish for more.  

We loaded up on America's favorite past time on both the West (Go Giants) 
and East Coast (Go Nationals)

One very surreal moment for us was meeting up with our Dubai neighbors and friends at their beautiful home in SF for an amazing home cooked Persian meal!  It's one thing to randomly meet friends in airport restaurants and on departing flights but intentionally colliding our US and Dubai worlds was so fun and almost unreal.        

~We ended our US trip with a bit of history~

Discovering the Capitol 

Meeting our congressman
(although it was a bit uncomfortable when he asks you exactly where in his district you live...)

Drinks with views of the White House

Touring the Monuments

Discovering and appreciating our country's history

We also took a side trip to the beautiful Williamsburg, Virginia which is a FABULOUS trip for kids to experience history hands on.  

(And if by now you realize these are the only warm clothes my children own, you are correct!  i kid you not when i say they own only 1 sweatshirt and 1 pair of jeans, which they will likely only wear during this summer in the States.)

How great would it be if this "field trip" was part of the American History unit taught in elementary schools?! 

We helped make bricks the old fashioned way

Chatted with the local wig maker

and learned the proper way of having tea.

The kids' favorite was the late night spent in the tavern (great parenting right?!) talking with the locals and playing games from the 1700's.

Scrolling through our pictures i realized even though the summer was hectic moving from place to place it was filled with great memories and time spent with people we love.  

Oh, and along the way i was able to pick up a new travel tip to help siblings get along better.   

For now it's back to the land of the