It's been quite a while since I last posted. I've been extremely busy with work (it's our busy time of year) and I think I'm having a hard time getting adjusted to living here. I'm feeling a bit frustrated with how difficult it is to get things done and to get things I need for the house. The house is another bit of contention as it is way too small for 7 people and we're waiting to move to a bigger home somewhere on campus. No one can give us any idea how long it will be before one is ready and we may be able to move. So I wait patiently (or not so patiently).
But even though there are difficulties, there are some wonderful and interesting things here also. So I will try to share some of our experiences over the last month.
Let's start with Halloween...Halloween is not normally celebrated here in KSA but here at KAUST, there was an organized Halloween party and trick-or-treating for the kids. It's mostly for the younger kids so Spencer and Megan didn't really participate. It's funny because the kids kept asking when we could go "get" their costumes and I had to keep reminding them that there was nowhere to "get" a costume and that we had to be creative. The girls had their skating outfits so they were pretty easy. Alex couldn't think of anything so I suggested he be "static cling". He wasn't really happy about it but it was different and easy so that's what he did. He ended up winning the prize for most creative costume in his age group...I told him that his mom doesn't always make dumb suggestions :-)
One morning I received an email from one of the triplet's teachers requesting parents to help out on a field trip to the KAUST Museum. Since I've never had kids in school before and been on a "real" field trip I offered to go with them. I didn't have high expectations for this museum because the university is so new and still pretty small. I walked away though being highly impressed. It's a small museum that covers the history of Science and Technology in Islam and was very interesting and put together nicely. There were a lot of hands on exhibits and an interesting interactive movie also. Lizzie was in my group with one other little girl named Aya and we walked around and found answers to the questions that the teachers had put together for the kids. It was a very enjoyable morning!
On the day of the field trip, Spencer and Megan had parent/teacher conferences and acutally had the day off. Mark and I headed over to the school that afternoon and got to meet all (or most) of their teachers. They both seem to be adjusting well and are catching up with what they missed at the beginning of the school year.
One of the biggest things that we did this past month was to buy a car - finally! Buying a car here is really an experience. Mark and I had gone down to Jeddah and we visited a couple of dealerships and finally decided to buy a GMC Acadia. We had considered a Suburban but since it was more money, I didn't really want to drive a big huge car around campus and we won't be taking many major road trips. It's interesting because the dealerships here are not run on commission so no one is in a huge hurry to sell you a car. We spoke with a salesperson to find the price and then we left. You can do financing through some dealerships but it is not the norm and you usually bring cash or a check before they will order the vehicle. So deciding how to get the money here was difficult - we had thought about transferring money from the states and then when we found out that that took 5-10 business days we thought that was too long and Mark went to the bank here to get a loan. We didn't need to finance a whole lot because we had quite a bit of the amount we needed but we thought, let's get the loan and just pay off in a couple months. Well getting the loan took almost 2 weeks :-) Like I said - nothing is fast here. Finally we had cash in hand and headed to the dealership. We arrived there on Thursday (think Sat) at about 1 pm - right when they close for the afternoon. I was not happy! There were some people still there shopping and talking to salesmen so we waited a little bit and then headed out. As we got into our car, a salesman came out and asked if we needed help! Yeah!!! So we went back in and paid for the car, registration, window tinting and insurance (all to the same person). We walked away with a paper saying that we would have our car on Monday - en shallah (God willing). God must have been willing because Mark went down to Jeddah to pick up our new car on Monday evening!!!
That same evening, Mark decided he wanted to get us some food from this Pakastani restaurant called Zim Zam in the city of Thuwal which is the closest city (if you can call it that) to KAUST. He has gone to this restaurant many times with his coworkers and had really enjoyed it so he wanted to have us try it. We couldn't go to the restaurant because it is not a family restaurant (meaning no women). So he went there to order "take away" (this is what they say for carry out). This place is pretty much a dive and I don't think I would want to eat there anyways - yikes! Note the backhoe at the front of the restaurant which Mark said drove away before they left :-)
We invited our friends David and Belky and their little girls over to eat with us. The bread was incredible when it was warm - not as great after it cools down. The food was really good - I'm not sure exactly what the spices were but it was rice, chicken and lentils mostly. It was very greasy though and I woke up in the middle of the night with heartburn and couldn't sleep. So even though it was tasty, I'm not sure I'll be eating that again or maybe just the yummy bread! Here's a picture of Victoria with the bread that's almost as big as she is!
This is getting long so I'm going to continue on in another post. If you're still reading, I hope you're enjoying because it is fun for me to write and document our experiences on this adventure!