Wednesday, November 5, 2014

My First Trip Alone into Jeddah

I'm on my way to IKEA
in a big coach bus all alone. 

I was texting with Andrew this morning and he asked, "What do you need from IKEA?" My response "stuff!" Of everyone who loves me, Andrew gives me the hardest time about my compulsive obsessive behavior. We are hosting a Bunco party for the 2014-15 KAUST Newbie teacher group this Friday night, so I need to get a few things to be prepared. 

Traffic was horrible!!!! 
I was the only passenger on the bus until 8:01am then a husband and wife got on. The ride in was an adventure. Always is but usually I have Richard to talk to. This time I focused too much on the driving and traffic.
The bus driver was relentless and came within an inch of hitting a car that pulled out in front of him. Not once, not twice, but many, many times. This is how every man drives in Jeddah.

I saw lots of interesting stores I would like to visit. And at IKEA there were so many things I wanted and bought and wanted to buy, but have to wait for Richard to go back with me. I could only take so much to the bus myself! 

But I did have to call him to meet me at the bus drop off so that he could help get the stuff home. THANK GOODNESS!

I’m sure I could make a habit of going to Jeddah daily now.

Today was a fun day and barely a nick in the budget!


Saturday, October 11, 2014

Map of our Paris adventure

Check out a map of our Paris adventure

Click here to TrackMyTour!

We Will Take Paris Anytime!!!

Paris was more than we imagined. The subway itself was amazing. The language was so romantic. In the subway we heard instrumental music some nights and vocals other nights. Never knew what to expect.

Our days were filled with museums and sight seeing. So many gorgeous churches that I cannot wait to share with my special friends back home such as Sherri and Arvin. The peace that overcame us inside those walls was miraculous, but I guess one would expect such a thing. :-) the nights were saved for dressing up and going out on the town and finding live music. 

The old buildings are incredible. Living in the USA we don't realize just how old the world is. I hope my children have the opportunity to travel and experience the world as I am getting to do. Or at least learn something through my travels. 
The wine and cheese snacks were very romantic. Even though I had to stay away from the wine and allow Richard to enjoy most of it himself. It was the ambiance that mattered the most. This was the first vacation without a migraine. I attribute that to Dr. Paul and acupuncture.

We did lots of Christmas shopping and walking. 

OH and don't let me forget to include this beauty!!!

Our flat was on the very top floor, the 4th floor with an opening skylight allowing a view of the Eiffel Tower. 

Four suitcases over 50lbs to be toted up and down a spiraled staircase. Ha!!! What a site and a workout. All to say we had a very good workout this week. With all the fine cheese, French bread and great French cuisine, we managed to get in better shape. 

I met Eyad from Amman, Jordan on the plane and of course Richard was shaking his head because I had already introduced myself and my business card to Dr Khala from Amman. As I got to know more about Eyad and he my ScrapArt I discovered he is about to open a balloon shop and invited me to sell my art in his store. We will touch base later. Yes my friends this is the art and skill of networking. A little bit of Keithia and a little bit of a Northwood business degree I guess. Ha! 

To sum it up Richard had a very relaxing week off of work, I enjoyed not working my fingers to the bone 10 hours a day and we both loved every minute of time we spent together. Now we can go back to day to day living our lives with each other until my next trip to the states without him in February. 

What's next?????

Friday, October 3, 2014

Heading Back East

The time has come to leave Texas. There was so much work to do with ScrapArt, then lost an entire week while hospitalized with that migraine, and then acupuncture started four times a week that I didn't have time to visit friends. But, I got plenty of art made for Catalina. Mom,Tiff, and Kristie enjoyed their first plane ride to California and we had a great girls trip. 
Fourteen special Catalina Collection pieces are now hanging in the Hermosa Cottage rooms in Avalon on Catalina Island, plus, ScrapArt by Keithia covered the cost of the entire trip. Pretty cool if you ask me. 
The last few days of this week I was able to make enough pieces for a Christmas bazaar at St. Martins Catholic Church for November 22 that mom and Kristie will work for me. All this to say I went home to work, work, work!!!! 
Yes, I had plenty of grand baby time, too. Love those munchkins and spoil them when I can. Will miss them so much. 

Gave a special piece of art to my driver on the way to the airport today Oct 2. Something about him touched me. He appreciated the piece. It is the Rich Adventure 2014 piece.
Nothing pleases me more than when I can put a smile on a face. And that's what I do through giving away my ScrapArt. :-)

I miss Richard more than I ever imagined I would. He melted my heart last week when he told me he knew he would miss me but didn't know it would hurt so much. Makes me rethink my original plan of coming home every other month. So now I'm thinking maybe 4-5 times a year. Plus the flights are soooo long. I think I have a game plan for grandbaby birthdays, spring break, summer and such. 

Now it's just 2 more hours til I meet Richard in Paris. My seat neighbor Kent and I clicked immediately as we boarded the plane and now knows my life story. Go figure, huh. Haha. He is on a missionary trip so I had to show him my ScrapArt plates and tell him while I was home I passed out plates to some strangers in East Dallas. While perusing through my gallery he chose to purchase two pieces. 

Life is full of surprises. I am one BLESSED woman, mother, daughter, sister, and wife! Watch out world here I come!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Paris here we come

Big day in KSA. The Eid break begins today. What this means for Keithia and I is that we are meeting in Paris. Keithia traveled back to the state on August 19 or 45 days ago. I know she enjoyed seeing everyone in Texas. I also know I missed her every moment. Keithia I love you!

Friday, September 5, 2014

Great day in the Kingdom

Golf Day!

I also joined the golf club. The course is great! Club storage, cleaning, clubs are waiting in the cart and are cared for after the round. Unlimited play, cart usage and range balls. All for $1,300 US per year. Unbelievable.

Please don't ask my score:)

Celebration Day!

The University and community are five years old. A huge event on the water front. Music, entertainers, food, laser show and carnival games. Thousands in attendance. An honor to be here and celebrate with so many wonderful people from 90 countries. Amazing



Wednesday, August 20, 2014

First Trip Home 8/19/2014

Richard hired a driver to take us to the Jeddah airport. He walked me in to check my bags. We browsed some stores, found the security gate and said our goodbyes. No PDA. Just love with our eyes. He was more nervous than I, even against my claim of being fine. He is concerned about my mental state and my assertiveness, I'm sure!!! I on the other hand am just fine. 
I found security to be quite comforting. Passport control was fine. Then I placed my bag through the scanner and walked behind the enclosed glass for ladies only to be scanned with a hand wand. Very discreet and comfortable. Nothing like back home where you stand spread eagle in front of all to view. 
I easily found my gate and awaited the bus to arrive to drive us out on the tarmac to board the huge two deck plane to begin my adventure. All while wearing my Hollywood sunglasses and abaya. I go nowhere these days without my sunglasses. Lights are so bright. But the people here do not know why I wear them. Wonder what they must be thinking of me. Hehe. And this is just my flight to Dubai. 

This view is from the bus to the plane. The plane was awesome! I had never been in a plane as large or nice. Double decker, 10 seats across and plenty of leg room. More flight attendants than I could count. The 2 1/2 hour flight was up before I knew it. Very nice passengers all around. Plane was packed full. I must have gotten the last seat at the very last moment. 
Upon arrival to Dubai it was 11:30 pm Jeddah time, 12:30am Dubai time, which meant darkness so I did not get to take in any of the beauty of Dubai. The Dubai airport was very hot! Many of the toilets were out of order and the airport was crammed like a sardine can. Hard to believe for 12:30 in the morning. Restaurants were doing business like it was a Saturday afternoon back home. They were stricter than Jeddah in security, too. Once through security I bought a bottled water for $5 US dollars (same size I bought in Saudi for .53 cents), but only got to drink half of it because you can't take it on the plane. The layover wasn't bad because there was a time difference of an hour, so I only waited an hour to board. 
Another nice plane but nothing as nice as the plane flying in to Dubai. About half the size and the area I was sitting in was filled with families of small children. Poor babies didn't understand the time difference and confinement. Their bodies and minds were mad! But kudos to the great staff of Emirates for keeping a great schedule of food, liquids and toys and maintaining peace throughout the 15 hour flight to DFW! 
My original plan was to fly home every other month, stay a month, work on ScrapArt, play with the babies, visit the kids and mom, go back to Saudi for a month and so on. After this journey I think I will be rethinking the monthly trip. Just a few thoughts to ponder....

AND, Kelsey, this one's for you: I watched Divergent during the flight. :-)
Go do your own thing and fly those beautiful wings of yours sweetheart!

Monday, August 18, 2014

August 18, 2014 More Adventures and More to Come!

Today we opened our Saudi bank account. I rode the bike to the square to meet Richard at the bank and arrived 15 minutes early. The bank doesn't open until 9:30. I was hot and sweaty. I stopped and bought a bottled water( a 1.5 Liter for 54 cents), went inside the Fed Ex office which is just around the corner from the bank, and found an air conditioning vent to stand under. I didn't realize how I looked at the time. I was wearing my dirty white ScrapArt by Keithia hat, I had my iPhone hanging from my landyard around my neck with my earbuds attached and in my ears. Needless to say white wires were drooping down my blouse because of the earbuds, my sunglasses were on because I am so sensitive to the brightness, and I'm standing in this one place under the vent. You get the picture right????

Well, it took me a few moments to figure out why a couple of Fed Ex employees are coming up to me and smiling and examining me like I was TROUBLE. Then I realized I looked like a uni-bomber. Oh my goodness. Only me!!!!!

I can get myself into some messes. But, one thing is for sure, most people around here remember me after one encounter. Hahahahahaha.
After all that, the bank finally opened its doors at 9:31, so I walked over to it and was the second customer through the door. Richard arrived a few minutes later and we finally opened our Saudi joint checking account. Again, excellent customer service. The agent noticed that I was cold and turned up the thermostat for me. You don't get that type of service back home. I am coming home in a few days and am looking forward to it, but I am also going to miss being treated as well as I have been treated here. I definitely am willing to come back! But I am in need of a grand-baby fix or two!

Friday, August 8, 2014

Speechless 8/8/14

As we sit and wait thru prayer time I watch as so many go into the mosque during the 12:29pm prayer. It's such a beautiful sight. So much criticism and judgment throughout the world for so many things, and I won't go into any specifics, but I can tell you I can feel peace. It's amazing and a blessing to experience a different culture and I look forward to experiencing more of it. 

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Arrival to KAUST Week of 8/3/14

Oh my goodness I just don't know where to start! We LOVE it here!
The flights were smooth and transitions from USA to Germany and Germany to Jeddah were great. The KAUST airport wasn't busy and was a simple process to get through to KAUST. We were in our new home by 9pm Sunday 8/3/14 KAUST time and 1pm Dallas time.
Monday 8/4 we jumped on the bus and found our way to a coffee shop and had lunch and explored Discovery Square. Then found Tamimi Super Market for a few groceries and other basic necessities. They deliver for free right to your door! Everyone is so nice and courteous here! 
I couldn't wait for Richard to take a picture of me in my regular shorts and shirt walking the streets of KAUST so that I could send it home to mom to show her that I don't have to wear an abaya while in KAUST. Then I got to Skype with her last night and show her the house and the neighborhood. I think she feels much more comfortable now. I Skyped with my daughter Tiffany, too. Hopefully tonight I can Skype with my son Andrew and my grand-babies Ian and Audrianna.
We started orientation today, so we are really tired now. It was a long day, but so much fun. We met people from 5 continents! I am a people person so let me tell you I had a BLAST! Of the 18 sets of new employees this year, there are just 3 of us couples who are on our first international adventure. The other 15 employees are pros and have traveled all over. During the hurry up and wait game (patience time for ID processing and such) we probably had the chance to bond with every one of them. It really was a very unique experience that I will truly treasure forever.
Ok, I am tired and need to rest up for day two of orientation. Tomorrow is medical and other stuff. Plus, technology hands out laptops to the newbies. Guess what that means for the new Technology Director? Do we know who that is? hmmmm......Poor Richard. Can't even get through orientation without having to work first. BUT, I know he LIKES it here............