Saturday, November 28, 2009


Thanksgiving is an American holiday (the Canadians celebrate it also, just a month earlier), but we didn't have to miss out on it just because we are not in America. Since there is an abundance of American expats here in Doha, we were able to celebrate with others. This year, Thanksgiving fell at the beginning of the Eid holiday, so many people had work/school off and travelled away on vacation. Our ward (group of church members) organized a large Thanksgiving dinner for those that were in town and encouraged us to invite any friends who would like to celebrate (read: eat good food) with us. We ended up with well over 200. Although there was a TON of food, I felt like I got the perfect amount & enjoyed turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, vegetables & pie. Not everyone is American, but who can say no to great food, friends, and a time to be grateful. It was fun to be able to celebrate together.

I hate that Thanksgiving is often passed over or placed on the back burner while Christmas preparations take over. Don't get me wrong, I love Christmas, and it is a very important holiday for me, especially its meaning, but for me, preparation for Christmas include sufficiently remember the blessings I have and showing gratitude as I focus on them. So, I Christmas decor stays hidden away until after Thanksgiving, which is celebrated by its own decorative reminders.

We have so much to be grateful for this year. We welcomed a healthy baby to our family. Travis was able to graduate with his Masters Degree. He has a job that provides well for our family. We have the great blessing of technology that allows us to keep in touch with family even though we are thousands of miles away. We are all healthy, and we are blessed to have the gospel of Jesus Christ in our lives.

*Sorry I forgot to take my camera to our Thanksgiving dinner.

Sunday, November 22, 2009


We are in trouble. If the wall to wall tile floors weren't bad enough, the stairs are already a temptation. She has already been up to the landing (four steps up) twice. Let the bruising begin.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Ghassan's, part II

We have some furniture. We have a few spots in our home where we decided we would like some furniture. We got a piece of cheap cabinetry for the printer stand that should work well enough. Some of our other pieces, however, we wanted to be a bit more durable than flimsy pressed "wood." After seeing some interesting pieces of furniture at friends' homes, we decided that we needed to check out Ghassan's. We figured it would be worth paying a little extra to get furniture pieces that are interesting and we like and that we plan on keeping for a long time, rather than paying extra for furniture that is ordinary and somewhat durable. We figured that if we planned on keeping something for a long time (aka, shipping something back to the US), we better like it a lot.

We found several pieces at Ghassan's that we really liked, but not being the type of people who make millions in their sleep, we had to narrow it down a little. We got a large cabinet/bookcase, a phone table/bench, a small stepped dresser, a small bookcase, and a clock.

The clock. My (Travis') grandparents had a simple but handsome farm clock that I always thought was so much fun. Well, one of my uncles inherited that, so I need to find one of my own. I had seen a few clocks with Arabic numbers and decided that I wanted such a clock. So, we got a nice clock with a pendulum and Arabic numbers. I may still want a farm clock one day, but this one is definitely fulfilling the desire for a good-looking clock.

The small bookcase. Ghassan called it a fruit basket. It's certainly not a basket, but I could see how someone might store fruit on it. However, we plan to put it in Leoni's room to hold some of her books, at an angle.

The small stepped dresser. Ghassan had two of these and we really liked both. The one that we did not get was bigger and angled the opposite direction. The one we got fits better in our home, and it has half as much glass, which we need to consider at this point. It is made of shisham (Dalbergia sissoo), or Indian Rosewood. The workmanship is very precise and beautiful.

The phone table/bench. We really liked this, but weren't sure of its practicality in our home. After discussing the need for something in the corner to contain our telecommunication devices, we realized that the cabinet (next to be discussed) wasn't the answer we were hoping for, but combining the cabinet with the bench would work really well. The bench is also made of shisham.

The large cabinet/bookcase. The main reason we went to Ghassan's was to pick out a piece made with repurposed, antique wood. Most of the cabinet pieces were big with only a few shelves, working well as a linen closet, which we don't really need right now. This one provides out-of-sight storage (behind the well-preserved, repurposed, antique doors) along with a practical display (toward the top, out of baby-reach) and some drawers. The dark wood is similarly aged wood restored from some other pieces to create this one piece.

All of these pieces are beautiful, well made, durable, and heavy. It'll be a chore to bring them back with us when our time overseas is over, but it'll definitely be worth it.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Standing or Something...

Leoni after a successful attempt to pull herself from sitting to standing

...or just for herself. Since she was about 2 1/2 months, Leoni has wanted to stand more than sit. Stubborn streak-don't know where that came from. She would make her body rigid when we would try to pull her into a sitting position, so she instead would be pulled to standing. We had a hard time getting her to bend at the waist or knees after that. Now that she is sitting alone and mobile (army crawl, which is hard to catch since when the camera comes out she just stops to pose), she is loving climbing up anything and everything that will help get her into a "standing" position. I think that means trouble.

Her favorite position on the couches, which unfortunately also involves tiptoes and trying to reach over the edge

Caught in the act of climbing up dad's bag to get to the garbage can

Right before getting frustrated because the arches of the playmat wouldn't support her wait while trying to move from kneeling to standing

Thursday, November 12, 2009


So the utilities in the Middle East are done a little differently than in the U.S. The only natural gas in our house is the stove/oven (which is actually a gas/electric combo). I was excited to finally have a gas stove/oven again after years in college housing with only electric. Well, last night, the gas ran out in the middle of cooking dinner. Slightly inconvenient. Luckily, it wasn't anything too fancy, and we were able to finish cooking our chicken burgers in the toaster oven. You may ask, "How did the gas run out?" Well, because nothing else runs on gas, this is where the gas comes from.

Yes, that is on the other side of the kitchen wall. Travis moved the "protective" cardboard boxes for the picture. I guess to shield it from getting overheated?!? Travis has to take the tank to the "gas truck" and get a new canister today. Of course, being Qatar, which has one of the world's largest natural gas fields, it only cost 15 QR (about $4) for a refill, and this is the first time we have refilled it since arriving 2 1/2 months ago. Not bad. I think we'll be purchasing a spare canister, however, in case we ever run out again while cooking.

We have a breakthrough

Lower left central incisor to be exact
It appeared on Monday, November 9th.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


Because we only sent out a small handful of announcements, I figured we would post it here also, but we were waiting on our scanner to arrive. So, she is 6+ months now. No big deal, right? (sorry the quality isn't too great)

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Sharing advice

Our experiences teach us, but they also prepare us to be able to teach others. What I have learned through trial & error might help someone else avoid some of the pains involved with learning or at least cut down the time frame.

Another young mother in my ward sent out an email for anyone interested in sharing Family Home Evening ideas. I responded, since I haven't done a lot of FHE lessons with children, and I figured I could start gathering ideas now. To my surprise, I was the only one who responded. We met a few days ago. Hopefully, others will hear and want to join with us in sharing ideas. We can be such a great resource to each other.

My cousin was recently called as the Primary Music Leader. She has decided to start a blog with ideas for Primary Music Leaders.
Another great idea, and I hope that she'll be able to pool experience and resources for herself and others.

As a new mother, I am "learning the ropes" of motherhood. Sometimes, it is just nice to be able to talk to a friend about what they have tried (thanks, Angela). I know every child is different, as well as every mother and situation, but the more ideas you have to try out, the sooner I can find the one that works for me.

I hope I will always keep in mind ways to share what I have learned. And, I hope that others will feel like they can share with me and are willing to ask me, knowing that I am willing to share, also.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Ghassan's (The Green Door)

It seems that our furniture selection is not exactly what we were hoping for. Our shipment from the US finally arrived (four weeks after the latest date of the estimate) a couple days ago, and we're now wishing we had shipped more stuff, including furniture. Our accommodations are provided by the university and are partially furnished. The furnishings include a sofa set, an entertainment center, a computer desk, a dining table and chairs, a china cabinet, a fridge, a small stove/oven, a washing machine (in the kitchen), and beds and wardrobes in each of the bedrooms. However, the Middle East does not design storage spaces into their homes; rather, one must acquire furniture for such frivolous desires. So, we've been looking around for some furniture options.

We want to get a microwave stand (because of our limited counter space in the kitchen), a printer stand to put next to the computer desk, some kind of containment unit for our telecommunications devices (which are currently sitting in a corner on the floor), and maybe a couple other pieces. As we've looked around, it has become apparent (even in the provided furnishings) that long-lasting quality is not a priority here. Furniture tends to be cheap quality but not necessarily cheap in price, or decent quality and extremely over-priced. Someone recommended checking out Ghassan's. No one could really tell us precisely where to find it, and as Doha doesn't really have addresses, it was difficult to find.

So, if you're looking for Ghassan's yourself, you've come to the right place for reliable information. Ghassan imports (primarily) wood furniture and home decor from India. Affordability is always relative, but his stuff is a little on the high end for us. However, it is sturdy, real wood, and unique. Almost every piece is handmade, and possibly re-purposed.

We found reference to the shop on a map where you can tag satellite images to show where things are. Based on that map, we searched unsuccessfully for about an hour - not sure if we were really reading the map correctly, even though I have wickedly good map skills. After discussing that search with some friends, we realized we had been searching just a couple blocks in the wrong direction. We finally found the shop and loved what we saw.

Here is the correct map location. People kept telling us to look for the green door, but we found green doors of all shades during that unsuccessful hour. So, here is a photo of the entrance so that you know you've found the right place. Additionally, there is a small name plate on the door. The door is situated on the outer wall of the property, so head on in to the main villa showroom.

Tel: 443 7448 / 550 9297
Hours: Sat-Thu 9am-12:30pm & 4pm-8pm and most Fri 1pm-7pm (and most Sat afternoons)

Traveling north on C Ring Road, turn right onto the street (Al Jazira St) just after Blue Salon & Al Fardan Automobiles just before IBQ. Turn at the 3rd left (Ibn Rahhal St) just after Preventive Security Department building. Go up to the 2nd right (Aseer St) and look for a dark green door on the north-east corner of that intersection. The door has a gold name plate on the upper left-hand corner. Also notice canopies sticking up above the wall, leading up to the showroom villa.

Bartering seems to be an option if you are picking out several pieces. Delivery is complimentary and either same-day or next-day. Ghassan seems to be a very nice and customer-oriented gentleman.
As with so many maps in Doha, north is not up. On this one, north is to the right, if that helps.

Tribute to the King

There is something slightly Elvis-esque about her. OK, not really, but for my personal entertainment, she sometime sings Hound Dog and naturally, Viva Las Vegas when wearing her "Aloha Jumpsuit."

Happy Halloween!

Halloween PJ pants courtesy of Travis (fabric selection) & my mom (seamstress & shipper). They arrived the day before Halloween.

From one of the "scariest" places known to Americans, the Middle East. We hope everyone had a Happy Halloween. On Saturday, we didn't do much in the way of Halloween. Our compound didn't have any organized Trick or Treating. Instead we attended Travis' softball game, ate some candy at home, and sang Home Means Nevada (October 31st is Nevada Day, too).

Leoni and I attended a Halloween party earlier this week with some other mothers and kids from our ward. They did a really great job organizing it and providing a few fun activities for the toddlers, and it was fun to get dressed up festively more than once this week.

We decided to forgo the $40 pumpkins (no, I did not accidentally hit a zero). Instead, Travis bought a pumpkin pastry at our local bakery, Bateels. Surprisingly, they had something Halloween-ish, though small (about 3 inches in diameter). They have wisely started to catch on to the Americans.


They stink, but I'll take one over the flu any day. I came down with one on Thursday, and Leoni's started yesterday. It seems like they won't have a long duration. And, if we can't have Puffs or Kleenex with lotion, at least the boxes look cool.