Friday, December 28, 2012

Winter Break 2013: Distance Heightens Appreciation of Family

Ben's teaching position get's three breaks: summer, spring and winter. For the summer break, since we hadn't been in Abu Dhabi very long, we just took a short trip up to Spain and Portugal. We planned to spend winter in Abu Dhabi, enjoying the 70 degree temperatures and then visit the States in the summer.

If you know anything about plans, then you know that it is best to hold them loosely and be willing to adapt to new circumstances. A phone call from home about a serious family illness changed our plans and had us on a 29 hour traveling spree to the U.S. When it comes to priorities and plans, family is more important. It's nice to be able to make that decision at the last minute and manage to visit so far away. I recognize how much of a blessing that is this time- if it had happened at another time we might not have been able to come. Really, though the sickess is not the best reason to come, it provided an opportunity to show our family how much we love and value them. They are worth a trip home at the last minute if needed.

 While we are here we are soaking up the cold, rainy temperatures to bring back and remember in the desert. Otherwise annoying, drizzly drives are appreciated and filed away for searing, humid days and family is cherished. Homecooking and REAL hugs are savored. Would we appreciate family and drizzly days as much if we didn't live so far away? I wish I could say we would be as grateful, but it's invariable that human nature would have us taking things for granted in the way our tendency for survival drums down the high emotions with mundane normalcy... So perhaps living so far away is helping us to appreciate them more. Right now, we are thankful.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Kids Unscripted; Chapter 11

Talia: (drawing) "I'm going to make more than one ant so that he doesn't get lonesome."
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Talia: "Dates are like God's candy!"
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Talia: (to Elias, who refuses ANYTHING that remotely resembles baby food) "Don't cry if you can't get it when you didn't want it!"
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Talia: (looking at a rare Happy Meal of fries and chicken nuggets.) "Um, mommy, that's only junk food. Can I have a cucumber, please?"
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Talia: "Can you tell me a story about a brown and white rabbit named 'potato?'"
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Talia: "That's not bell pepper, it's the smiley faced kind."
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Talia: (after seeing the silly string on the sidewalk from the 41st anniversary of the U.A.E.) "Thread you use to sew must be called serious string."
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Talia: "Mommy, do they use a really big marker to make the stripes on the road?"
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Talia: "Mommy, you're a really good potato head doctor!"
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Me: (to Elias) "Here's some water."
Elias: (points from the water to his mouth.)
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Talia: "I was trying to read that book while I was sleeping, but it was hard 'cuz my eyes were closed." ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Talia: "When I have just one ear plugged up, I feel like a boat that's going to tip over." ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Talia: "Mommy, do you know what ribs are like? They are like a bowl that is cut in half and then turned around!" ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Doodles

Talia's art always makes me smile... Especially as it has been getting more detailed. Seeing the world from her perspective is always an adventure. Take this car, for example:
And these colorful bubbles with faces that we traced different round things from around the house and then filled in. Her faces made me laugh!
This picture is supposed to be a restaurant for people who have a tummy ache. The menu included oatmeal, fruit smoothies and mint tea.
We colored and cut out shapes and she turned them into this robot with a ball:
This picture is supposed to be a 3 seater bicycle with places for people to climb up. To me it resembles a disproportionate grocery cart.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Vanilla Yogurt Streusel Loaves- (Or, More Fall Baking)

Getting a cinnamon candle would probably save calories if my aim were only to make the house smell autumny. Except, couldn't that backfire? Then, I'd be smelling the cinnamon which would inspire desire for the baked goods, right?

Ingredients:
1/4 cup of Oil
½ cup of rawSugar
1 cup of Yogurt
1 tsp of Vanilla
1 tsp of Baking Powder
½ tsp of Baking soda
¼ tsp of Salt
2 Eggs
2 cups of wheat Flour

 
For the Streusel Topping:

½ cup of Brown Sugar
¼ cup of Raw Sugar
1 1/12 Tbsp of Unsalted Butter, melted
½ tsp of Cinnamon
¼ tsp of Salt


I'll get back to you after I finish running...

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Seen in Abu Dhabi; 4

These ornate short dining tables were on display at one of the booths for the International Date Festival.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

International Date Festival

Once upon a time my grandmother handed me a large, dried, brown fruit. I was suspicious, but took it into the other room with my grandfather and put it in my mouth... and almost gagged. One of the only things I didn't like to eat growing up was raisins, and this tasted like a raisin, but with even stronger flavor. I could tell, without even chewing! So, like any 4 year old, I took it back out of my mouth. My grandfather then noticed that I hadn't eaten it (but not that I had tried) and asked if I were going to eat it, because if not he wanted it. What was I to do? I handed to him and let HIM eat the raisin-like thing.

 I later learned that this raisin-like thing was called a prune, and I actually like raisins AND prunes today... but that memory still leaves me wary of brown fruit that comes in the shape of a big water bug. So, even though dates are a very important part of the culture here, I could never work up the courage to try them, until our friends invited us to the International Date Festival held at the convention center here in Abu Dhabi.

 There were all sorts of nationalities and types of dates. One brochure claimed that there were over 300 different kinds, and many of these were available to taste. Some dates are a mushy paste inside, and I found that I did not prefer that kind. My favorite was from Saudi Arabia. It has a chewy texture and a nutty, almost caramel flavor. It's like eating candy, but better for you! Dates have a lot of fructose and about 20 calories each for the smaller ones and around 65 for some of the larger medjool dates. Though they have more calories than most fruits, they make a great substitute for processed sweets. They are also good sources of fiber, potassium and other important vitamins and minerals... so we picked up a pack of the kind I like.
Dates are made into many types of cookies, candies, and even date-flavored milk. We also got some "date honey," which is more like a syrup, to try.

At the convention, along with many types of dates to sample with coffee, there were also tiny date palm seedlings, a tower made out of dates, a date palm tree to climb- rock wall version, and other typical goods.

Dates are definitely more delicious than I thought!