ABC

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Last week I had to make a couple of calls to the utility provider as there were some technical difficulties. These calls are never fun, but if the person on the other end of the line does not speak the same English as you, they become torture! Even the NATO alphabet couldn’t help us and I found myself shouting my address down the phone after having spelt out my full address four times… This has made me think it’s time for Dubai’s own Alphabet.

A is for Arabic

B is for Burj

C is for Camel or should that be Cartier

D is for DishDasha

E is for Emirates

F is for Falafel

G is for Gold

H is for Hot and Humid

I is for International

J is for Jumeirah Jane

K is Khalifa

L is for Louis Vuitton

M is for Mall

N is for NOC

O is for Oil

P is for Pearl

Q is for Qasr

R is for Ramadan

S is for Salary

T is for Taxi

U is for UAE

V is for Visa

W is for Wives

X is for Xray

Y is for Yalla

Z is for Zaater

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What’s cooking Mama?

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I love to cook, especially if we are having guests for dinner. I used to love spending a whole day in the kitchen trying out different recipes and making sure that dinner was perfect. And then the little mermaid arrived. It is impossible to cook any dish that takes more then 20 minutes or requires a lot of steps. 

It has completely changed the way I cook. I now often do most of prep work during her nap times as I should be doing now instead of writing this post. I look for things that you can just chuck into a pot and give a quick stir or better still things that bake in the oven. I’m not quite ready for a slow cooker though.

Occasionally on the weekend when Mr Mermaid is home I am able to retreat back to my kitchen and get to spend a couple of hours cooking without having to stop what I’m doing every three minutes to either pull the little mermaid away from whatever she shouldn’t be touching or to insert a biscuit/piece of fruit/ couple raisins so I can at least finish one part of the dish. 

I’ve also had to baby proof the kitchen. Initially I thought that providing her with one cupboard of things she can touch and telling her ‘No’ would be enough. How wrong was I! I got so sick of having to pull her out of the cupboard, put all the tea towels- tupperware- colanders and measuring cups back. The only thing is that it seems those locks aren’t just baby proof… Yes, I locked myself out of my own kitchen cabinets. I could no longer get to the chocolate biscuits to have with my cup of tea. The only cupboard that I could get unlocked was the one with all the cleaning products clearly the universe trying to tell me off for being a slattern. 

This little peanut baby made me smile and make sure my peanut butter is stored on the top shelf!

 

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Sleeping like a baby

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I have never understood this expression. In Dutch we say, sleeping like a rose which is equally puzzling but for entirely different reasons. Sleeping like a baby just seems a little too much like an oxymoron. In one of the baby magazines I read that the parents of a baby sleep 5 hours a night on average in the first year. This is 3 hours a night less then our bodies actually need.  Now I am sure that in most households the Dad still gets in a respectable 7 hours a night leaving Mum with about 3. You get to a stage where you are so tired that things feel like a daze and sometimes I am not entirely sure how I manged to get home, or how dinner got to the table. These are the nights when I am in bed by 20.00, or when I almost fall asleep while eating my dinner.

At the moment I have got my parents and my brother visiting us out here in the desert. Although Dubai is not short of sights and things to do, we have mainly been doing very little. We follow the little mermaids rhythm and again the highlight of this holiday has been the swimming lessons. I feel a tad guilty about this, but not too much as it has given me a chance to catch up on some sleep. Having a lie-in, having a cheeky midday nap. It is amazing how much better a little extra sleep can make you feel. I feel like Princess Aurora who has woken from her hundred year slumber!

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Capturing time

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My little mermaid is already 8 months! It feels likes both the fastest and the slowest 8 months of my life. All her firsts, all her repeats <countless nappies, countless feeds>. Each time she does something new I am so proud and delighted but I also want to stop time, to stop her changing so fast and to be able to enjoy absolutely every second of it although maybe not the crying and exploding nappies.

I try to take lots of pictures of her, but they often tend to be pictures of her eating, or sitting in the pram or in the Jumperoo. So today I thought I would take the camera upstairs and take pictures of the bath and bed routine. Recently she has moved from the Tummy Tub to the big bath. She loves sitting in the water and splashing around.

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After her bath she is so rosy and cuddly. I was lucky as the lighting of the room gave such a special feel to my pictures. I am nothing more than an enthusiastic amateur but am discovering that lighting really makes a big difference. 

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After this little photo session it was time for my favourite part of the day. All nice and snug in her onesie I give her one last fast. I can feel her body start to relax, she closes her eyes and starts dozing off. After the feed I put her up to my chest and take a couple of deep breaths. All babies smell lovely but your own baby just has the nicest scent in the world!

 

BLW

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BLW or baby led weaning is one of the ways to start your little one on solids. In a nutshell BLW means that you wait until your little one is about 6 months, you do not puree food and you basically let your baby feed herself. Because the digestive system is a bit more mature at six months then at four you can basically feed your baby the same as what you are having as long as there is no added sugar, salt, honey or whole nuts. As (breast)milk is the main source of nutrition you don’t need to worry about how much or how little you baby is actually eating.

This method is perfect for unorganised Mums like me. When we go out I don’t need to think about taking purees etc with me. She can either have breast milk, some of whatever I am having or I can give her some finger foods that I have rolling around my rather copious changing bag. How do Mums cope without one?

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The one big downside to BLW is the MESS! The little mermaid is thoroughly enjoying her discovery of different tastes and  textures, but her hand mouth coordination leaves something to be desired. She is also not swallowing that much yet so once she is done chewing she just pushes the food out of her mouth. She also enjoys waving about with a loaded spoon, smushing food on her tray and dropping bits over the side. Thankfully I have a great helper when cleaning up; my dog! Indy loves the fact that the little mermaid is now eating proper food and he loves it even more that she is not very good at it (yet!). Impatiently he will wait in the lounge to be allowed into the kitchen once she has finished. As soon as the door opens he runs in and won’t stop till he has gobbled up every tiny little morsel of food. I clean the little mermaid by dunking her in the bath and often she will be just wearing a nappy when having dinner to save on laundry.

I really enjoy watching her eat and it is so nice that she can join in with family meals. She will sit in her high chair next to us and enjoy the same foods that we do. I really like the fact that mealtimes are not a struggle as it’s not about how much she eats. The mess will hopefully become less as she becomes more coordinated, starts chewing better and swallowing more.

Don’t worry it’s really easy to find…

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Whenever I hear these words I am filled with dread because usually the opposite is true. Dubai is an ever expanding city and new developments seem to shoot out of the sand like mushrooms. As this is a city of renters and greedy landlords, friends move often. They move to new places that may or may not be finished. First time visits often involve complicated and detailed directions as many developments seem to find using street and house numbers unnecessary.

So, I might get sent something like this by a friend:

Take the old Emirates road (Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed rd/311). Take the slip road just before the petrol station and turn left at the roundabout. Go straight through the next 4 roundabouts, then do a U-turn and take the second right. Go as far as you can, then go off road and cross over the sandy patch until you get to the road. Turn right. Go left at the roundabout. Then you will see a security gate, smile and wave. Go straight, take the third right, second left, second right then you will see shells of empty villa’s on the left side. Just after them is a very small entrance. Take it then once you have passed the empty villas you will see a row of pink ones that are finished. Go past them and turn left until you see the next row of villas, yellow this time. Our house is the 13th on the left with the flower pot outside and Pajero outside.

All fun and games that add to the excitement that is driving in Dubai!

The funny thing is though, that one year you feel like you are living in the middle of no where. Nobody knows how to get to you, you can’t get a taxi or a take-out delivery and your nearest supermarket is 20 min away. However within a year you are suddenly part of the centre of the city. Everybody knows where your community is located and you know you’ve really hit the jackpot once they open a Spinneys.

A tourist? Who me?

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An added bonus of being an expat and having friends and family coming to stay is that I get to be a tourist in my own city. I have just waved my parents off after a lovely stay in which they cooed over the little mermaid and saw some of the sights that Dubai has to offer.

On Saturday we headed out to the creek. Firstly we picked up some saffron in the Spice Souk and some scent for my Dad. We eyed up the sparkleys in the Gold Souk. After having been blinded by the abundance of gold and diamonds we went for a walk along the Creek.

This natural waterway is where the initial settlement of Dubai started off and where it’s trading roots lie. For many years wooden ships called Dhows have sailed from India, Pakistan, Iran and many other shores. I love walking along the Deira side of the creek and watching the boats, their inhabitants and all the stock that goes on board.

I am by no means a professional photographer, more of an enthusiastic amateur. My usual subject of course is the little mermaid, but there are just too many photo opportunities along the creek. I could spend hours just clicking away and capturing the sights and the faces of the people who live and work along the creek. I am still very jealous of my friend K. who got invited on board of one these Dhows and was able to take some of the most fascinating portraits I have ever seen. Each line on the weather beaten faces of these men tells a story and shows that beauty is much more about character then about anything else!

Here is a small selection of some of the pictures that I took on this trip. I hope you enjoy looking at them as much as I enjoyed taking them. The Creek is unlike any place I know in Dubai and it seems so far away from all the shiny malls. I love all the difference facets that Dubai has to offer!

Just a fraction of the bling on display.

Just a fraction of the bling on display.

The Spice Souk

The Spice Souk

The view from Deira to Bur Dubai and one of the Abras that will take you across.

The view from Deira to Bur Dubai and one of the Abras that will take you across.

This is will be my cover photo for 2 December when the U.A.E will celebrate it's 42nd birthday.

This is will be my cover photo for 2 December when the U.A.E will celebrate it’s 42nd birthday.

I'm quite proud of this picture. Think it would look good on any wall.

I’m quite proud of this picture. Think it would look good on any wall.

Love the lighting in this picture.

Love the lighting in this picture.

Sunset over the Abras.

Sunset over the Abras.

Bur Dubai side again.

Bur Dubai side again.

 

Splish, Splash!

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The little mermaid started swimming lessons a couple of weeks ago. Once a week we go to one of the communal pools in one of the nearby communities and for 30 min we sing songs, splash about and she even goes under water!

The weather is fantastic at the moment and the little mermaid loves being in the water. She has recently discovered the joys of hitting the water with her hands and making big splashes. Her little face shows signs of great delight followed by squeals of laughter.

My parents have been visiting and the moments in the pool have been the highlight of their trip. I think my father must have taken over a hundred photo’s of her in the water.

I could probably fill an entire album with just pool pictures and maybe I should! It is so easy to take lots and lots of pictures with a digital camera, but half the fun is being able to see them. I post pictures of Facebook and 23Snaps, but that’s still not the same as an actual physical album. Thankfully there are now many websites that let you do this. All I need now is a couple of free hours and a glass of white wine. Let’s see if I can get at least one album done before the end of year.

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Unfinished business

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I have never been known for my neatness and my house often looks like a bomb has hit it, but since the little mermaid has been born things have just gone from bad to worse. Everywhere I look I see things that belong elsewhere and jobs that are half finished. Secretly I am very jealous of my friends that have lovely full times maids, but I keep telling myself I am not ready to have a someone live with us. This is because when a baby needs something they need it NOW and not 2 minutes or even 2 seconds from now. They have yet to learn to wait, so feeds, nappy changes, cuddles etc etc all need to be attended to asap causing me to have to stop doing what I was doing and often forgetting what it was once I have finished tending to my little mermaid’s needs.

It’s not just my housework that suffers, half finished blog posts, texts, e-mails that I’ve forgotten to send and even in the kitchen things occasionally go haywire. The other day I was whipping some cream, left to go settle my crying baby and came back to find the cream had turned to butter. I’ve burnt a couple of things as well as forgotten that I had only unloaded half the dishwasher before filling it up again with dirty stuff. Even toilet breaks need to be cut short form time to time and the other day I left the house with which I later realised was a half made-up face. I only got round to doing one eye!

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Mr Mermaid and the dog also suffer regularly. Whereas before they were Nr 1 and Nr 2 they alternated between those two positions depending on who weed where, they are now much much further down the line. One some days they really are an afterthought. Thankfully their love is unconditional and they are both very acccepting of the fact that for the next few months years? the rest of our lives? this is where they will remain.

Zwarte Piet

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Every year around this time the same discussion starts with regards to Zwarte Piet. For those you who are unfamiliar with this Dutch tradition, Zwarte Piet is the helper of Sinterklaas (Saint Nicolas). He is black with curly hair and wears colourful clothes. He hands out gifts and candy and gets up to mischief. The issue apparently is that he is black. So what if he is? If you go far back into history it is mentioned that Sinterklaas had a Moorish ‘knecht’ which translates to a valet, servant or help. Not a slave. A small group of people in the Netherlands feel that we should change the tradition and that Zwarte Piet can no longer be Zwart (black). This year the United Nations have gotten involved and are going to determine whether or not the tradition of Zwarte Piet is racist or whether it part of Dutch folklore.

It makes me sad to see a discussion like this. I truly can not understand why the fact that he black is racist. Zwarte Piet is fun, he gives you candy and he makes you laugh with his tricks. The little mermaid is too young to really understand what will happen on the 5th of December, but we will still put out her shoe, sing songs for Sinterklaas and she will receive presents from him. We will go and see Sinterklaas and his helpers arrive in Dubai and I hope that once she is older Zwarte Piet will still be Zwarte Piet and continue to bring much joy to many Dutch children.

I think that in a lot of countries we are trying to be so P.C. that we lose sight of what racism or discrimination actually is. Saying that someone is black, or tall or short or whatever is not racist. The fact that these Piets work for a white guy is also not racist. By all means he treats them well and they seem to enjoy working for him. Every year there are several television programs dedicated to the celebration of Sinterklaas’s birthday and the Piets play a big part in the whole story. They are the ones that climb the roofs and listen through the chimney to see if you have been behaving, they then report back to Sinterklaas who writes everything down in his big book so that he knows exactly who has been naughty or nice.

I for one hope that this tradition will continue and my little mermaid will want to dress up as a Zwarte Piet just like I did.

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