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Oh Woolies how I miss you. And my local green grocer. And all of the Organic shops and initiatives back in Oz.

Since arriving in Dubai I have been on a personal war between myself and eating crap. It’s like no matter how hard I try, we end up eating processed cheese and bread with weird letters in its ingredients section. This went on for the first 8 weeks, until enough was enough.

A week or so ago I decided to really and truly research where to buy and locate PROPER YUMMY foods. I wanted it to be natural, and free range items and I wanted to stop visiting the dreaded Carrefours *shudder*.

What is this Carrefours I speak about? It’s a hypermarket and it sells everything and anything. From televisons, to diapers, to car seats and it has its very own butcher. It’s as big as suburb and its the 3rd most profitable store in the world. Just as an idea, here is a pic. a tiny glimpse of one part entrance of Carrefour. There are fruit veg as far as the eye can see. Mostly tasteless stuff.

Shopping in Dubai for fruit and veg means you have to be knowledgeable about world geography. Why I hear you ask? Because every single fruit and vegetable item is imported from around the world (except for cucumbers).

Basically put, NOTHING grows properly in the desert. So every time I go to Carrefour, I get heart palpitations trying to think: which country is closer? Cleaner? Is it shipped or air freight? And ofcourse I ALWAYS try to buy Australian. Its like I am on a mission to see the A word. The 2nd best choice is New Zealand. When I see a good old Rockmelon or Avacado or Mandarin with that Aussie sticker, the pride I feel is like my little sister graduated high school. It’s like: “wow, Oz, we have really hit the big time now!!”

The worst choice is the USA and some South American countries. Holland products are the most expensive and best in appearance.

But lately everything I have been purchasing has disappointed me. I bought Pakistani mangoes, and they went off the next day. I purchased strawberries from Holland and they were sour. I purchased NZ apples and they were bruised. I purchased Lebanese apricots and they were so soft and mushy. The only luck I have is with bananas from China. Thank God for China.

So, in fear of my children turning INTO a banana, I jumped online and found RIPE ME.

I called them at RipeMe and visited their store. I checked it out and was greatly satisfied with the local produce they stock. AND they deliver! They stock a lot of the fruit and veg that I need, and although it works out more expensive, I feel so much better eating an apple that tastes like an apple. FYI, I use the “Dirty dozen rule”.

Ofcourse it means that I need to plan ahead and sometimes we run out of something… But overall, it works well and now my children even understand the difference between crap and well, an apple.

Dubai has truly shocked me with HOW much they love chemically riddled products. Even their milk is so bad for you. But at least you have around 75 different milk brands to choose from, right?!

SO many choice, so little quality.

I could be here all day trying to convey this message, and still you cannot imagine. Maybe it has to do with cultural practices, and maybe a lack of education regarding nutrition? I know I am sounding like I am stereotyping, but this is my guess….

I don’t make this guess hastily, just recently at my children’s school, they introduced some new rules to lunchboxes. Ofcourse my children’s BHP free tupperware lunchboxes were very “Australian” – carrot sticks, sultanas, wholemeal sandwich or last nights dinner and a yougurt. Sometimes as a treat they get crackers.

Other students come to school with COKE CANS, mars bars, and a small tub of nutella (!!??) The English teacher my son has, Ms. Rachael, sent a letter home indicating the rights and wrongs of packing a lunchbox. It was hilarious to read. But I do wonder if the teachers know that it is also VERY hard to pack a healthy lunchbox when the supermarkets here offer everything so easily wrapped and full of sugar. Why buy fresh fruit when you could a fake fruity snack?

At the end of the day, I will endeavour to provide my family with the best quality food I can find. However, I will not lose sleep if we eat white bread or have non-organic produce. I want to equip my children with the knowledge of healthy eating habits, but I don’t want them to stress and therefore have a bad relationship with food.

Till next time,

be good.

 

My son owns a Blackberry phone. True it is an old, slightly broken Blackberry but he is still a 7 year old with a working mobile phone. *sigh*

I can justify the reason for this ludicrous action. You see, my son and daughter catch a bus to school in a country that we have only inhabited for a mere 90 days. [See picture on right]

6.20am Pick Up, my kids are first to be picked up along side the other kids in the building. The lady you see on the left is the bus supervisor.

When they first started catching the bus, I was adamant that having the bus supervisor’s number was sufficient for my needs. (read: high maintenance parent that I am)

I soon realised that poor Jennifer had poor English vocab skills, and would rarely answer the phone the first time I rang. Maybe it had something to do with 65 screaming children in a bus, I dunno, either way I could not bear to not be in control of where my children were at. My very stress-less husband convinced me that I was being paranoid and “no one kidnaps children in Dubai” – is that even true?!

One day, about 23 days ago, it hit 2.30pm and the children were not home. Normally I receive a “prank call” from Jennifer to indicate that the kids had exited the bus and were now entering the building on Plaza Level.

I know this system strikes you as fool-proof. I mean she only has to “prank call” 65 parents, easy right??!

On this particular day, I received nothing. I checked my phone to be working like a crazed woman. 10 minutes passed, I was now sweating.

I texted my husband, he was at work so his reply came even shorter than usual:

me: Kids are late home.

him: You are not considered a missing child till 24 hours has passed.

groan. Not a lot of help.

Thoughts of international kidnapping laws were rushing through my mind, and I wondered what sort of relationship was between Australian and the UAE. I rang Jennifer, she missed my first 3 calls, and when she did finally answer, did not understand my problem. Finally, she realised that she had not “pranked” me, I was missed on her list. She apologised profusely, and while doing so my front door opened.

2 loud, grubby, hungry children walked in and I hung up on Jennifer mid sentence, ran and hugged them both. Oblivious to my sudden out pouring of love, they squirmed out of my arms and demanded food. Then and there I decided, I must have direct contact with these 2 humans at all times.

Before I had children, I swore that no kid of mine would have ever have a phone before the age of 16 (the age I got my first brick-of-a-mobile phone).

And that is the moment I broke rule number #172 of Parenting.

#172 Thou shall never say never regarding anything to do with raising of child

I was slightly disspaointed that my son didnt really take in the moment when we officially was given the phone. I felt like we needed to have a small ceremony to celerbrate this ‘right of way’.

I know, I watch too many movies.

I know, I’m female.

I shouldn’t have bothered dreaming, because in reality, my husband dug out one of his old phones, wiped its screen on his shirt and sort of flung it to my son. Mr A grabbed it, looked at it and asked “Why can’t I have an iPhone like Devon and Amir?” (!!!!!!!!!!)

I must admit, it is quite handy communicating via text message. But my son is still an amateur at texting. One day I decided to make the most of this technology and send Ali a “motivation” text, like you know how in the old days we used post-it notes? I thought, bugger it, I will stop hatin’ and start embracin’. Here is what happened:

I thought I would send a "cheerio"... turned into a very confusing conversation....

But his last comment made my day :)

PART1                                                                                                                      PART 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The funny part is that back home in Oz, not one Grade 2 child carries a mobile phone. In fact, it is A BIG DEAL if you carry one. I have found that in Dubai, hardly no one batters an eyelid when my son picks up the phone and calls me or uses it. True, he is not allowed to use it during school hours (and why would he need to?) but I think a large part of me stressed at being judged.

But, to be frank, I still do cringe at seeing my 7 year  old with a mobile phone. It goes against so much of what I THOUGHT I believed in… but I know that at least i can contact him at anytime I need. See, I told you I was a high-maintenance parent.

Till next time,

Be good.

When we first arrived to Dubai, the immediate thing that stood out was how many children were OUT at ridiculous hours. Like, once I went down for a walk (on ground level) at 9.30pm and there was a huge amount of children of all ages still AWAKE!

I know that it was the Summer Holidays, but even by the end of my walk (1 hour later), the amount of children had doubled!!

I’m pretty much a stickler to routine. I have followed a routine since my firstborn gave me hell for the first 6 months of his life. At around his 7 month mark, I vowed that I would have a routine so that he and I could maintain a happy relationship. This has worked wonderfully and 3 children later, I still stick to the 7 o’clock bus for bedtime. I have become a little less strict as years have gone by, but I am “blessed” with children that love to wake up at unGodly hours even if they stay up late. Early birds just like their father.

SO you could imagine my uneasiness at seeing all of these other children eating and drinking and NOT asleep by 10.30pm. I was unimpressed. Meanwhile my Australian children were fast asleep since 7.30pm (baby at 7pm) and I was quiet proud.

However, by the 3rd night of stepping out for my walk in the evening I started to feel guilty. Guilty feelings overtook my mind, and in this circumstance I felt so so so bad for my 3 innocent children fast asleep. I thought to myself that instead, they should be enjoying licking icecream and playing in the fountains in the 40 degree nights.

Negative connotations emerged in my mind about MYSELF. “What an absurd thing. who can possibly sleep at 7.30pm when there is SO much to enjoy?” and the ultimate guilty factor was “What a horrible summer for these children!”

Ofcourse I didn’t share these feelings with my husband as he is SO comfortable in his own skin, he would never change. So it was up to me to give these children joy. And happiness. And an amazing UAE experience. I wanted them to hold hands and frolick down the street, icecreams in hand and run through fountains with laughter filling the air. Please don’t scoff at my naivety.

SO the next day (remember in the UAE the weekend is Friday and Saturday), we go out ALL day. I plan a meticulous schedule. We swim in the morning, then a walk to lunch, and then a quick trip to the beach. [see picture below regrading how close we are to the beach]

On the left of the picture, is the short stroll to get to beach. Pic is taken from my kitchen window.

I deal with the whinging from children and the husband but i am determined to succeed. We SHALL be happy.

By about 4pm, Ms H is ready to have her meltdown. She is exhausted and has huge blisters on her feet due to the thongs she has been wearing for the past 5 hours. Mr A is also due for his daily temper tantrum. This happens if he is not given space. But who has time for SPACE when we are having a fun time?

At 6.30pm, i am ready for our next adventure. Hubby begs me not to do it. He literally begs me to go, ALONE. Mr A refuses to answer me when i say “lets go” and Miss H starts puts her hands on her ears and refuses to listen to me. The baby is gurgling in my arms, unaware of the unhappiness the rest of the family feel.

I nearly succumb and give in. Nearly. But then I remember the amazing time those children were having yesterday. And I remember the frolicking I wanted my kids to do. So i grab the car keys, and insist. [actually i bribed them with using my iPhone]

Due to the exhausting heat outdoors, I decide to go to the Mall of the Emirates.

As the name suggests, yes it is basically the size of the Emirates. Have a look at this aerial shot below.

An aerial shot of the Mall.

 

That big silver this you see to your right is an indoor Ski Resort. Yes ladies and gentlemen, you read right. A SKI RESORT INDOORS. There is over 400 shops ranging from Louis Vitton to Ripcurl and a gazillion cafes and restaurants. Just as many lifts and escalators.  The interior height of the center court dome is 38 meters from the ground floor to the highest point of the dome, and 36 meters in diameter. RANDOM FACT FOR YOUR DAY: The Statue of Liberty could fit inside of it. So could 660 Ferraris stacked on top of each other. I took a photo of this, have a look to your right. 

Not only is this Mall is so huge but it is BUSY. BUSY is not a suffice word to explain this mammoth building, especially on the night we decided to go as a “family”. Friday night = mayhem.

Firstly to find parking on this night was crazy. We quickly realised there was a local technique: pull over to the side in the parking lanes, with your hazards on, meant you were waiting for a parking spot. Not exactly the smartest, as the traffic got banked up IN THE PARKING AREAS. After 24 minutes we finally found a spot.

As we leave the car to walk to the mall, the heat that engulfed our throats was unimaginable. It was a big fat humid ball that just entered our nose, eyes and mouth and all at once you feel sweaty, thirsty and dizzy. All 5 of us were coughing. At this point my kids wanted to go home.

But i pushed on.

It was now 7pm and the baby was ready to sleep, so I popped him into his pram and put a cover on it to block out the light so that he could have a nice sleep. Shouldnt be too hard, I thought.

I asked Mr and Miss grumpy what they would like to do, and they wanted to eat. I grit my teeth and think of happy thoughts. [why do my kids always like to eat 500 meals a day?]

So off to the food court we go. This food court is massive with over 50 different choices, but seeing as though i was going to follow the “UAE” way, I decide to let the children decide what they want. Mr 7 chooses Hot dogs and a milkshake and Miss 4 chooses KFC. My mind and heart are screaming at the disgusting choices my kids have made, and i have small heart palpitation watching them devour their preservative full meal. I cant even bear to look. But I try to make myself feel better by looking around at the 20,000 other children eating the same crap food.

Next it is time to go to Magic planet. This indoor amusement park is full of children and their nannies. It’s similar to the Australian version of TimeZone, but ofcourse being Dubai, it is 10 times the size and content. It is full of noise, lights and lots and lots of arcades.

Somehow, within the 2 minutes time span of leaving the family to go and purchase a card to play the games, the kids had started an all in brawl. Mostly verbal attacks, but soon escalated to shouting and then crying.

When Miss H cries, Africa can hear her. And when Miss H cries loudly, Mr A needs to explain what has happened while shouting and using bad language because he is getting frustrated listening to his sisters cries increase in volume.

Obviously in denial about how tired they must be, I pull out my secret weapon. Hubba Bubba. I hate the idea of kids chewing on plastic but I am desperate to give them a fun time. They take 1 each and problem is solved!

After several games, the squabbling arrises again and I decide it is time to move on to something else.

As we start walking the mall, I encourage the children to “window shop”. I try to crack jokes but as we are walking, squished between 15million other people, it is hard to be heard, let alone converse. By this stage Miss H asks me “Can I sleep while I walk?”, her eyes clearly blood shot. Mr A has his arms crossed over his chest, and the baby has awaken. Hubby’s extra fast pace has also slowed down and as I think of it, my body is also tired.

I give in.

We have been up since 7am and I bet the other kids haven’t.

All these other children are used to this lifestyle, and might actually enjoy running around in a busy mall. I succumb to accepting my children are not built for these activities.

While buckling all 3 kids in the car, Miss H has already fallen asleep, Mr A has a glazed look and the baby is snuggling into his car seat. The heat is still unbearable. [see to the right]

Unbelievable.

No frolicking happened tonight. But even though everyone ended up grumpy, we were grumpy together.

Till next time, be good.

PS ` Since writing this post we have NEVER tried this again.

After a whirlwind 6 weeks, of packing, filling out forms, finding new schools, apartment and ofcourse FAREWELLING my entire network of people I love, my family and I were on a 14 hour plane ride to our new home destination. My husband’s work had offered him a job in the great land of the United Arab Emirates, in the city of Dubai.

Dubai. The city with the world’s tallest tower. Shopping malls as big as football fields. And deserts. That is about all I could imagine about this country and city. Who do you ask when you need to know something? The amazing Google. So I type into Google’s search engine:

‘How big is Dubai?’ 4,114 km²
and
‘How big is Australia?’ 7,741,000 km²

*Sooooooo, I should be able to cover Dubai in a day????*

Somewhere during the 13,00km flight, between Melbourne and Dubai, I did start to wonder as to how well I packed. My belongings were put into suitcases, my life was literally in ‘bags’.

One might ask, how do you pack your necessities into several luggage bags? I was given a 30kg per person ratio. Ok, so there are 5 of us, so I had 150kg. Plus 10kg per person for on board luggage, so another 50.

Where do I start from, i thought?

I started stressing out. Hubby’s work offered to “ship” our stuff for us – From couches to clothes. However, yours truly suddenly had this vision. Bear with me while I try to illustrate it.

I had this dream of packing bare minimum. Like, I mean ONLY the essentials. Because my husband’s contract was only for a year, I envisaged this trip being a nice experiment. Trying this so called minimalist living. Check it out here– minimalist living – I was absolutely mesmerised by this fantastic website. I read the wonderful blog day in and day out and wanted to follow suit.

SO I began the ugly task of sorting, throwing out and sifting and then packing. Few days out before leaving Oz, I decided I needed to weigh these bags. So I went and purchased a bag weigher thingy-ma-jig. Awesome invention!

However, with every bag I weighed, my heart sank further and further. After all 10 bags, the grand total of weight meant I was… 200 KILOS OVER MY LIMIT!!!!!! HOW ON EARTH have I ended up with so many KG’s??? I was flabbergasted. (NB Have always wanted to use that word)

I prepared all of the bags and separated them into 2 piles. 1 – very important bags. 2- not so important bags. And I waited for dear husband to come home and help me solve this problem (Ultra awesome problem solver, he is).

As my mind went into overdrive, mentally calculating certain items in the bags that I didn’t need to bring along, my brother popped over for a quick visit. I was dashing around like hyper person, baby on hip, flinging things out of bags and obviously appearing very crazy-like.

This particular brother is very blaze, pretty much a go-with-the-flow sorta guy. He casually strolls over to the bag weigher, and gently mentions, “Oh that’s bizzare. Why do you have the settings to measure in pounds?”
Calm as a toad in the sun.

I just froze and it magically clicked. If you have a close look at the picture above regarding the bag weigher, you will see a little button that represents the option of ‘would you like to weigh in pounds or kilos?’[ In reality it’s just a P/KG switch.]

Yup, that’s right. Yours truly had switched the button to measure weight in POUNDS!!! Stupid friggin pounds. Like who on earth still measures in pounds anyway?!

SUDDENLY I had about 90 kilos to spare. And just like [click of fingers], I completely forgot about the “minimalist living” vision I had dreamed of and began to pack, pack, pack. OFCOURSE I suddenly needed my pie maker, Baby’s entire clothes collection AND my kids’ entire toy selection. Groan.

Till next time, be good.