We are getting the last-minute things taken care of. People from the shipping company come tomorrow morning, we head to the airport tomorrow night, and we will be HOME ON MONDAY!!! Can you even feel my excitement right now through your screen?! We are all so anxious. We had to run to the mall today and we went in a store with Christmas trees and Tom and I both just stopped and took it all in. I just love this time of year but it is hard to get in the holiday spirit when it is 85 and I can see the ocean. Just doesn’t feel right.

Linus is getting excited too. We keep going through the list of people in our family that we are going to see in the coming week. He also includes Idle, Chase’s dog, in the list. The matching suitcase makes him think of her I guess. I was busy packing the other day and came out to the livingroom to check on him. (He got quiet. All mothers do that I think) Any way, he was playing with my reusable shopping bag and when I walked in he said, “I packing too Mommy!”

We are having to improvise a bit around here lately. I packed Linus’ high chair yesterday so I got a stack of magazines out of the closet. After a little trial and error (they are slick!) a towel around them makes for a great substitute. Can you tell he thinks he is really awesome?

OH…Tom picked up the rest of my mugs today. Here they all are. A complete set. Here’s hoping they make the trip home safely ‘cuz I can’t just run out and replace one. Reminder: I am accepting $500,000.00 donations to open a Cafe Ceramique near you! 🙂

Any way, that about does it for me and Dubai. I will try to update you all when we get home but I have like a thousand things to get done so I am not promising anything. Maybe after Thanksgiving weekend and after Tom heads back to Dubai on December 1st I will have more time. Remember to hope and pray for safe and SMOOTH travels. Have a great weekend! Miss you and see you soon!


So to be quite honest, the last couple of weeks has gone really really fast. HOWEVER, I am quickly running out of things to keep me busy right now. I got the suitcases out a couple of days ago and they have just been sitting there, taunting me. I have all of the cleaning and organizing basically done and now I’m at a bit of a stand still. I am waiting until later in the week for a last laundry day. I really can’t pack suitcases yet. We are also patiently waiting on quotes from a few shipping companies. Once we get them, I am hoping to get a some boxes ahead of time to pack what isn’t going to fit into suitcases.

Today I made what I had hoped to be my last trip to the grocery store. But honestly, who am I kidding. My kid drinks more milk than I could possibly fit into my fridge so I will probably end up back one more time for that and thus diapers. We will also have to go pick up the last of my mugs I painted at Cafe Ceramique on Saturday. I am soon to have a complete set of 4. Unfortunately, there was a bit of a mishap with the green one and it has a pretty large crack in it but I still use it EVERY DAY! I will try to post a picture of the completed set. On a related note, do any of you want to loan me like half a million dollars to start a franchise in Osky? Riiiiight.

Any way, Tom asked me last night what I am most looking forward to about going home. I really can NOT pin point one thing but I am looking forward to standing in the middle of my home and just taking a deep breath. I told him I can already feel what that release is going to be like. I can already imagine the feeling of anxiety and stress leaving my shoulders. That is just ONE thing in a long list of things I am looking forward to.

Ok, I really don’t have much else to report. I think I will just close now and include some random photos I have taken of Linus over the past couple of days. I may update again before we leave. I will probably need more things to fill my time and keep my mind from being completely overtaken by the thoughts of being home 🙂 If not, we leave just after midnight Sunday night/Monday morning. CAN’T WAIT!!! Hope you all have a great week! Miss you and see you soon.

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He wore Tom’s hat for like 3 days straight after Tom and Ciji went snowboarding. He does look a little…uh…homeless in this picture.

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He got his pool out when I was getting the suitcases out. He has been dragging it all over putting ALL his toys inside to “swim” with him. He keeps asking me for water.

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Dish soap bubbles completely BLOW HIS MIND!

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Just imagine the fun if YOU could fit inside a rolling suitcase! By the way, Linus keeps telling me that “this suitcase is for Idle”. Idle would be a weimaraner that belongs to my cousin Chase. Riiiight. They match. Two-year-olds are so clever.

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What kid doesn’t love “Airplane”?!

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The view from underneath.

That is what Ciji’s trip became after she found out Thursday night that her grandfather(Ron’s father), who they lovingly refer to as PopPop, had passed away. He had been ill and it was expected but Ciji hoped that she could get through this trip and be home in time. This was not the case however so we had to cram everything she wanted to do into two less days than anticipated so I seriously have had ZERO time to update all of you. She changed her travel plans and left last night so she could be home in time for the funeral. She is probably currently in the air between Frankfurt and Chicago somewhere. Yep, she gets to say she has officially been to Germany also. So here is an overview of her time here and some great pictures to go with it. Unfortunately, I could not get the pictures off of her camera so I am unable to post those. Maybe some time in the future. She has some good ones.

So you already know that she arrived Tuesday night and did the Big Bus Tour Wednesday. She loved getting to see the city this way. And remember me telling you that she made a friend within the first minutes of getting on the bus? Yeah, they spent the entire day experiencing the city together. So now she can say she has a friend from South Africa 🙂

Thursday morning Tom had to work so she, Linus and I went to the Palm and Atlantis. It was way more than she had anticipated. It is mind-blowing to get out there and realize that you are standing where it was just open sea just a few years ago. Oh, forgot to mention that morning before we left, she and Linus were having a blast on his “motorcycle”. I seriously could not even hold the camera still to take these photos because I was laughing so hard. Take note that Linus is definitely doing ALL the work.
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Thursday afternoon, Tom came home from work a little early and Ciji and I were off on quite an adventure. We went on a Desert Safari. Yep. You read that right. Desert Safari. It was so awesome! We went Dune Bashing which was completely scary and amazing. If you don’t know what that is, let me explain it for you. You strap yourself in an SUV as tightly as you think the seatbelt can possibly go, and then you let some person you have never met before drive you at ridiculous speeds all over the sand. This includes dunes that I am pretty sure are at like 60 degree inclines from the ground. And let me also point out that not only do you drive up and down them, you also go across then sideways so you can get a really good view out your window of your vehicle sliding sideways down the hill towards certain roll-over. I am happy to say that we made it out unscathed but with sore muscles from bracing for our lives for nearly an hour.
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Getting ready to go
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One of the other SUVs in our convoy
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This would be one of those sideways moments
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The second car would get stuck and end up backing down the hill. We made it without getting stuck. I personally thanked our driver for making it.
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Once we were safely on the ground…
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…we stopped at a camel farm, went sandboarding…
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 …and finally ended up at camp. Here we had a delicious arabic dinner, watched a bellydancer, got henna on our hands, played dress-up, and rode a camel. Yep. Check that one off the list. It was such a fun experience. We had a blast together. Unfortunately at one point in the evening, I rolled my ankle, bumped the table, and spilled thus spilled a glass of red wine on Ciji but the good news is that it washed out AND she got a free refill because they felt bad for her with wine all over her right side. Oops.
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With the ink still on
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The finished product
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Ciji is kind of tall 🙂
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Getting off this thing is almost as bumpy as the Dune Bashing!

Side note: In the following picture, Ciji figured out real quickly that this was NOT a green bean and now knows why the girl behind her told her she was brave when she put this on her plate. Turns out hummus is not a good cooling mechanism.
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Friday morning, Ciji and Tom went snowboarding. Don’t know anyone who can say they rode a camel in the desert AND went snowboarding all in a 12 hour period…except Ciji. Linus and I went and had lunch and watched them through the window. They had a great time but both ended up a little sore.
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Did someone call for ski patrol?
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Tom on the left, Ciji on the right. It was basically impossible to get an action shot.
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All done, and sore.

Friday afternoon, Ciji and I went down to Jumeirah Beach Residence (JBR), you know, the peach apartments and shops. Any way, Ciji could never remember the name so she either called it Jeremiah Beach or JB Weld. Nice. Any way, she enjoyed the little market of mostly handmade goods and ended up spending nearly all of her “shopping money” there.

Friday night we had dinner outdoors right next to the Dubai Fountains. We got to see 4 different shows that night. It was a really neat way to share a unique dinner of sushi and Italian appetizers.
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Saturday was a mix of things. We went to the beach for a bit, drove by the Burj Al Arab (sail boat hotel), went to the grocery store, and closed out our day watching the Iowa game. I would say all in all, that covered most everything in Dubai 🙂

Tom took Ciji to the airport just after midnight last night. She departed at 2:15 this morning and should be into Des Moines early this afternoon (Sunday). We had such a great time even if it was 2 days less than we thought. She got to do everything she really wanted to and had a great time doing them. I am so glad she got to come and am also glad it worked out for her to get home to be with her family.

Now we are on the countdown big time! We have 14 days until we head to the airport. We are all so anxious to be home for the holidays. Hope you all are enjoying your weekend. We miss you all and can’t wait to see you.

Bubba has arrived!
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After getting through security in Des Moines with NO BOARDING PASSES (makes ya feel safe huh?!) it was pretty much smooth sailing beyond that. Lesson learned: if you feel like something is wrong with your non-boarding pass, ask someone. She was even able to sneak up to Premium Economy on the Dubai flight to stretch out her forever long legs. Lesson learned: Don’t ask the flight attendants, just do it. Finally, she landed in Dubai about an hour early last night. (Not to worry, we were there)

She was barely to the car and peeled her scarf and sweater. I believe her exact words were, “Oh man, its hot. How did Machita survive this?!” To which we laughed, informed her it was NOT hot, and agreed we weren’t really sure.

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We sat outside and chatted for a while last night. I had to convince her to quit. I am already on Dubai time and 1am is LATE! She slept pretty well last night which is really helpful in adjusting. Today I dropped her off at The Mall of the Emirates to take The Big Bus Tour. She was really excited to explore the city and get a brief overview of everything. We will take her around to things she wants to see again or better in the next few days. And, in true Ciji fashion, she instantly started chatting with someone on the bus before they even left the parking lot. She has my phone, some money, a camera, a journal, and an empty messenger bag. Who knows what stories and treasures she will come home with.

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On the “to-do list” is snowboarding for her and Tom, eating some local foods, going grocery shopping, and hopefully some time for just her and I to have some fun. I will post again with pictures I’m sure. In the mean time, be patient. I don’t get a lot of visitors 🙂 Hope you are all having a great week. Miss you all. Iowa in 19 days!

P.S. Linus keeps saying “Daddy at work, Bubba on school bus, just Mommy.” Yep. Awesome.

Yep. It’s finally here. Yas Island opening weekend. This is the F1 race track in Abu Dhabi (well, let’s be honest, there is quite a bit more than just the track) but any way, this is the biggest project MUSCO has ever done and we are right in the midst of the grand opening. Today (Sunday) is the big race. It will be shown at 6 or 6:30 am on Speed Channel in the United States if you are interested in seeing it. Tom has been there basically non-stop since Wednesday afternoon. Linus and I got the chance to go Friday night to a practice. Linus thought it was awesome! He was not too thrilled about the ear plugs so Tom had to just hold his ears. Those things are LOUD! It was remarkable to see. The island was beautiful, the hotel was like nothing I have ever seen (and I only saw the outside), the Paddock Club where we sat was amazing. When all complete, Yas will have a Ferrari Theme Park, Shopping mall, golf course, marina areas, a water park, and more hotels and villas. I got some photos but of course, they don’t really show just how massive and luxurious this place really is. In true UEA fashion, they cut no corners or expenses.

In other news: CIJI GETS HERE TUESDAY NIGHT!!! I am not really sure who is more excited at this point. Hopefully her visit will make the next 22 days fly by. I mean, I don’t want HER time to fly by, you know what I mean. I will try to update you all during her visit but you know me when there are actual real live people I know around 🙂 I have learned how to get to a couple of more places by myself recently so we will be able to venture out while Tom is working. Hopefully he will get to take a day off to spend some time with us while she is here. Trust me, he deserves a day or two to make up for this weekend.

Any way, enjoy the pictures. Linus and I really lucked out to get to go. We hadn’t planned on going but Tom called last-minute and said that they had two tickets that werent being used for the practice session. Oh, and Happy Belated Halloween. Guess we missed out on that one this year.  Hope all of you remembered to change your clocks! We are now 10 hours ahead of you (in Iowa any way). Miss you all so much. Have a great week!

This is the hotel. Rooms are on either side and the track runs right through the middle. That space ship looking thing connecting them is a restaurant and bar. Those would be some good seats! The outside of the hotel is individual glass panels that are lit with LED lights. The lights change color but every picture I got, they were this color.

These are the villas where the teams stay. The area we were in was directly above the garages and pit boxes.

The view down the front stretch. It was basically impossible to photograph a car coming.

I did catch one here going into the tunnel.

This happens EVERYWHERE WE GO!!!

And I’m not talkin’ Thanksgiving. Just got an email this morning with flight confirmation that CIJI IS COMING TO VISIT! Can you feel my excitement? She gets here November 3rd so I’m at 14 days and counting. I can’t wait to share this experience here with just one more person in my life. I’m sure we will have a wonderful time, she tends to bring a wonderful time along with her where ever she goes. I will make sure to post lots of pictures of her time here.

Between now and then is the big opening weekend at Yas Island. That is the huge F1 Racing project that Musco has been working on here. This coming weekend will be some trial races. We are not sure how much Tom will have to down there. Then the following weekend is the first race. Tom will be busy busy, but is very excited for the opening. Might not get to see much of him but I will just focus on Ciji coming.

That is all for now. Just wanted to share my excitement with all of you. Hope you are having a great week. Miss you all!

P.S. This is Ciji posing in her new skirt we made on our sewing day 🙂 It used to be 2 t-shirts.

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Isn’t he just too stinkin’ cute?! Abood is a cartoon character from a popular show here called Freej. It is about these 4 Emirati grandmas that are faced with all these problems around Dubai that they solve together, over coffee of course. Any way, Abood is a grandson to one of the women. He is 5-years-old and is lots of trouble. I just couldn’t resist getting him for Linus as sort of a keep-sake toy from this experience in Dubai. Linus likes to carry him around with his arm hooked through the loop in Abood’s keffiyeh (headdress). Too funny! And yes, if you were wondering, the rest of this post is going to be equally as random as last weeks.

On to other news, Friday night we went out for supper at Jumeirah Beach Residence (JBR). Those are all of those peach colored buildings that I have shown you before. Any way, the bottom two levels are shopping and restaurants and now include a market type event on the weekends from now until March or April I think. Any way, it was a paradise of handcrafted jewelry, clothes, purses, and several other things I wanted to purchase. I tried to talk Tom into an early Christmas present but he was having none of it. I’m holding out. Next weekend I told him I was going to drop him and Linus off at the sand area of The Walk and spend some serious time looking around. Here is a photo of the market…
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Arabic Barbie anyone? Yes, I took this picture in a store. Lame, I know but are these too awesome or WHAT?! I totally dig the facial hair.
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If you are scared of heights, you may want to just skip over this next photo. Tom and Linus ran a couple of errands the other day while I got some free time at the mall. WOOT WOOT!!! Any way, I saw them coming up to the apartment building and took some pictures from the deck. The two little specs in the middle of the sidewalk are them. My camera was a bit foggy in the first one, sorry.
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The next couple of pictures are Tom’s idea of containing a 2-year-old. It worked really well until Linus figured out he could just roll out of it. HILLARIOUS! DO try this at home!
(The Roll)
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(This lasted about 9 seconds)
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(The Unroll)
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Ok, enough of all this silliness (riiiiight). Onto the real info I was wanting to share with you. A lot of people have been asking about our long-term plans with this whole deal. Well, as you have all found out by now, there is not much planning that goes along with this. It is sort of just happens until something changes. SO, I guess that was sort of my disclaimer that the info I am about to share is only TENTATIVE plans. Everything is subject to change (I am trying to learn to accept that without totally flipping out anymore with grace) So here are our plans as of now. We will all be coming back to Iowa together on November 23rd. (Remember to pray for safe AND SMOOTH travels) We will celebrate Thanksgiving with our families. After that, Tom may or may not hang around for a week-ish in the Musco US office for some meetings with people who may or may  not be in Iowa. Then Tom will come back to Dubai, alone. Right now, the plan is for Linus and I to stay home. Permanently. Tom would be in Dubai until he returns to Iowa for Christmas. And anything beyond that is completely up in the air. We are sure, at this point, that Tom will need to be in Dubai after the beginning of the year. We are unsure how much or how often or how long.

So there you have it. That is all the info I have for right now. Hope you all have a great week ahead. I heard there was snow on the ground in Iowa yesterday. I can honestly say I am looking forward to seeing it in person. But until then, I will just enjoy the 90s here 🙂 Miss you all so much. See you at Thanksgiving!