Tuesday, January 27, 2015

labneh and mint lay's

These chips are amazing and are my favorite! 

Sunday, January 18, 2015

An evening at the corniche

Yesterday we enjoyed a nice evening at the corniche where the kids played in the sand and tossed the ball around. We roasted marshmallows and some of Jon's co-workers joined us for a late night BBQ on the beach. It was a lot of fun!

Firoz and Anis have been great friends to Jon. 
We were glad to have a great evening eating delicious Indian BBQ with them!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

My little black dress!

Because we live in Saudi Arabia, I have to wear the infamous abaya! Before moving here people were so vocal and opinionated about "having" to wear it, being forced to cover up, and having it be such an inconvenience. And to be honest, it started to make me nervous.
The truth of the matter is wearing the abaya does not bother me one bit! It is actually kind of nice not to have to worry about what you look like from the neck down. I have t many more important things to worry about! Don't get me wrong I am glad to go out without my abaya and show off my cute little outfits when I am visiting home, or vacationing abroad, but as a mom with little children, my shirts and pants are often stained with little dirty hands, or the food remains from the food fight Eden thought we were having during lunch.... so covering up and not having to change my outfit yet again is a nice welcome.

Pros and Cons about having to hear the abaya!

I don't have to worry about what I am wearing. In fact in the photo above I went out to eat in my PJ's and I looked good doing it!
I think instead of focusing on yourself, your looks, and what other people are wearing, you focus more on the individual, and who they are inside.
Wearing the abaya keeps you warm when it is colder outside.
The main inconvenience is how much hotter it makes you when you go out in the long summer when it hits 100 or 120!
It is a pain when going or taking a child to the nasty bathrooms!

Thursday, January 8, 2015

10 Unforgettable Days in the Land of Smiles- Our amazing vacation to Thailand

Day 1: Arrival in the Land of Smiles!

On arrival day we mostly relaxed and hung out in the hotel room because we were so tired from the long travel.

Hello Bangkok!
The view from our hotel room!

This is what Kiki drew on her restaurant menu.
A bearded guy wearing a thobe and a keffiyeh! (Jon added the camel on the hill with the tent)
Art surely is a reflexion of your experiences! Ah, living in Saudi!

Day 2: The Floating Market

We got a late start on the day because of long and exhausting travel the day before. By 11 am we  were up and ready to go. We decided to head out to the Damnoen Floating Market situated about 1hr outside of Bangkok. 

Eden, Kiki, an Jon as tired as can be! Trying to recuperate the lost hours of sleep.

Room service please!
During our stay in Thailand we ate quite a bit of room service. After a long days of exploring we were often to tired to go back out for dinner. 

Good morning sleepy head!

Embarking on our boat!

Quick stop to buy souvenirs!

The kids got very cool hats!

Eden enjoying the boat ride!

The floating market was very cool, unfortunately it was not very busy when we were there. The market is the busiest in the morning and by the time we got there it was past noon, and it started pouring rain. Most people had gone home for the day. We still had a lot of fun going through the canals.

This lady prepared us the best coconut pancakes! Seriously they were delicious!!!! To hand us the food, she put the pancakes into a long netted stick and stretched it across to where we were. 

We just had to get some Pad Thai! So good!

This lady just grabbed Eden out of our boat and plotted him on her lap trying to feed him tofu and his favorite, Rose Apples!

Pad Thai heaven!

We also ordered delicious fried rice and the best mango sticky rice I had ever tasted in my life!
I ordered some nearly everyday we were in Thailand and it was never as good as the one I had at the floating market.

Just a huge iguana hanging out! 

We made a quick stop at a Buddhist Temple. It was very beautiful!

Feeding the fish on the riverbank!
The fish would go nuts splashing everywhere at every toss of food. 
It was crazy!

Once we got home we were all eager to jump in the pool! 

That night we went to a restaurant across from our hotel called Charlie Brown. 

Julien and I got our very own coconut juice. 
It was so cheap and so so good!

Once Eden and Kiki were asleep we left Julien and Logan in charge of each other and their younger siblings and headed across the street for some massages.
I got a head and foot massage while Jon got a traditional thai massage. OUCH!
We were able to go the following night for round 2. 
Jon decided however not to get the thai massage and to do the head and foot massage with me.

Day 3: Ayutthaya

On our third day in Bangkok I booked a tour to visit the one of the old capitals of Thailand, Ayutthaya. On our way there we made a few stops.

Our first stop was Bang Pa- In Palace, the summer palace to the Thai royalty. The grounds and homes were very beautiful! 

We rented golf carts to get around! It was so fun!

Part of the grounds was landscaped with trees and shrubs trimmed to look like animals.
It was quite cool.

Next stop was Ayutthaya! The ancient city of Ayutthaya, or Phra Nathon Si Ayutthaya, was the capital of Thailand for 417 years. Many ancient ruins and art works can be seen in that city. It was founded in 1350. During the period of Ayutthaya (being the Thai capital), 33 kings of different dynasties ruled the kingdom until it was attacked by Burma in 1767.  
Walking around Ayutthaya's ruins was very cool. I wish we would have had a little more time to explore the grounds.

Next we stopped by Wat Maha That, a Buddhist temple!

The kids had fun hitting the gong!

Eden was so cute standing still while Jon cooled him off with fresh towels!
It was very hot and very humid!

We then visited Wat Lokayasutharam, this temple holds one of the largest reclining Buddhas.

Daddy got his Kiwi a little elephant

Last but not least we took a river cruise back to Bangkok where they served a delicious Thai food buffet!

Eden loved the fish curry! 
He kept asking for more!

Eden being shy!

Day 4: The Grand Palace and Temple of the Emerald Buddha

This visit was truly amazing. Visiting the grounds of the temple as well as the temple and all the shrines left me speechless. The tour guide told us that in his opinion it should be part of the 7 wonders of the world and he is absolutely right.

As we were walking to the Grand Palace this random guy from our tour group grabbed Kiki's hand all the while I was holding her hand. It was so weird!!!! So I turned to Jon and asked him to take a picture because I thought it was so bizarre and comical. The guy was there with his family, he was very nice by the way. The situation was just very strange. I would never start holding someone else child's hand I didn't know while they were holding it. 
In some cultures it is apparently very acceptable! 

In order to get into the Grand Palace our legs and shoulders had to be covered. 
Since I did not bring pants for the boys we rented these awesome pants. 

Once we entered the grounds we were stunded by amazement.
Everywhere we turned we were in awe at the workmanship and architecture of the buildings. 
Everything was immaculate, and ornate. There was gold, marble, jewels everywhere you looked. It was slightly overwhelming.

Our beautiful Kiki posing in front of the well groomed and landscaped gardens.

Eden happy as can be to ride on this weird puppy sculpture.

A random grandma wanting a picture with Eden.
This happens all the time by the way. 
Random people taking picture of our kids, posing with them as if they were props, giving them free stuff. I just hope it doesn't get to their heads!!!

Yet another guy taking pictures of Eden...

Family picture in front of Chakri Maha Prasat Hall

Rajkaranyasapha Hall!
So beautiful!

The tour than dropped up off at Gem's Gallery.
I don't remember that being part of the tour. 
Call it coincidence, call it fate, or what ever you'd like, but all I know is that that very day Jon and I were celebrating 14 years of marriage.
It didn't take much convincing for Jon to get me something nice and shinny, in fact it was his idea. 

This Sapphire ring was calling my name. 
It is beautiful and I love it!
Thanks babe!

They gave Jon a gift for his purchase, a portable charger. 
Just what he has been wanting to get for a while now.
This guy's phone never seems to be charged.

The girls at the lounge having fun braiding Kiki's hair.

We made one last stop to lunch and visited Wat Arun before going back to the hotel.
We literally walked into this lady's house, she asked us what we wanted and made it. 
It was kind of a fun experience!

Coconut juice yet again!
Eden loved it too!

Pad Thai anyone?

Julien and Logan in front of a dragon statue

Eden was so intrigued by this elephant. 
Little did he know that the next day we were going to ride on one!

Wat Arun 
also know as
 the temple of dawn

The temple was very tall. 
There were so many steps to get to the top,
and they were so steep that Jon and I did not dare to go up.
Julien and Logan however could not wait to go.
Most people took 30 minutes to go up and down, it took them less than 15. 
They practically ran up the stairs. 

Thai dancers

That night Jon and I got room service for the kids dinner and had Julien and Logan babysit while we went down to the hotel's restaurant for a Japanese Buffet night. It was very good!
It was a excellent way to end a truly amazing day/ anniversary!

Showing off my new bling!!!

Day 5: Elephant Tour

On our last day in Bangkok we booked a tour to Khao Yai National Park and ride elephants. We were picked up bright and early and headed out of bangkok toward Khao Yai National Park. On our way to the park we stopped at a local market to buy some local fruits to try for lunch. The market was pretty big and they sold just about everything. They even sold animals to buy for eating or to release back into nature as an offering to Buddha.

A monk doing his shopping.
It was explained to us that back in the day in order for a man to marry he had to spend some time as a monk or in military service. I thought it was very interesting.
I don't believe it is a requirement now.


Back in the van headed to our next destination;
a farmhouse where we rode in an oxcart and had a traditional thai lunch.

Once we arrived at the farm we were welcome by at least 7 little puppies. 
The kids were in puppy heaven. They were so cute!

Kiki and Eden were a little nervous to have the puppies so close to them.

Help mom!

Just an ostrich hanging out!

The oxcart ride was pretty cool!
They gave us big traditional thai hats to keep off of the sun.

Here comes the ox! 

During our ride our hats flew off of our heads,
the guide jumped out of the front seat (where we was guiding the ox on where to go) and ran after our hats. The ox seemed to know what to do. They kept walking!

Once we got back to the farm it was our turn to take the reins for a quick picture! 

Probably the youngest oxcart driver known to men!

This lady was our host.
She was very sweet!

Cooking demonstration!

Me just helping' out the chef!
It was so fun!

Tom Yum Goong!

After lunch we headed to Khao Yai National Park were we hiked down to Haew Narok Waterfall.
It was a beautiful walk to the waterfall, than had to descend more than 200 steep steps to see the waterfall! That was tough, especially since we had to climb the steps back up! 

Seems to be Eden's nap time! 
This kid was such a trooper. 
We were on the go every minute of the day.
No time to stop for naps and he just went with it!
A cat nap here and a cat nap there suited him.


Haew Narok Waterfall.
It was the dry season so the waterfall was not as full as it normally is.
But it was beautiful none the less.

Almost there dad! Only 150 steps to go!

Just a monkey hanging out on the side of the road!

We finally arrived at the Elephant camp!
While we waited for the Elephants we all sat for a bit enjoying the breathtaking view!


Off we go trekking in the jungle on the back of an elephant!
It was so fun, and kind of scary!

Logan leading the pack!

Julien having fun riding the elephant!

What a day!
It was out of this world, full of fun and adventures!
After having so much fun I think this girl is ready for her bed!

Day 6: So long Bangkok, Hello Phuket!

The next day we left early for Phuket!

The first thing the kids wanted to do as soon as we got to the hotel was go for a swim!

Kiki just having fun making big splashes!

Eden too!

Time for dinner pool side!

While Jon, Julien, Kiki and Eden went out for a walk I buried Logan in the sand and decorated him with corals and seashells. He called himself Captain Coconut!
He was so funny!

Day 7: Kata Beach!

On our first "real" day in Phuket we wanted to go to a nice beach. The taxi driver suggested we go to Kata beach so we did! It was a lot of fun! The kids had fun jumping the waves!

Our nice little set up under the shade!

Yap! Yet another coconut!

Time to cool off with a refreshing popsicle!

Eden so so tired after a long day playing under the hot hot sun!

 Day 8: Tarzan Adventure!

The following day we decided to stay out of the sun to allowe time for our sunburns to heal. Jon and the boys ended up getting pretty sunburned the day prior while at Kata beach because I had forgotten the sunscreen! So today we drove down to Tarzan Adventure which was down the street from our hotel for a little zip lining adventure!

The land rover that took us up the mountain to go zip lining!

Getting all geared up!

A little trial run before going on the course!

Julien excited to get started!

Zip lining through the jungle was so cool!
It was truly amazing. The scenery was breathtaking!

Kiki and Eden having fun while waiting for us!

Tarzan Adventure is not just a zip lining course;
It is a 42 station course including 17 zip lines, 
swing bridges, nets, sling walks and much much more. 
It was so much fun, and it reminded me how out of shape I'm in! 

It was great to spend so much time with Julien and Logan.
I don't get to do that as much as I use to!
It was a great mini mommy date!

The boys had so much fun that they wanted to do it again the next day!

Day 9: Hanging out at By the Sea!

The breathtaking view from our hotel room!
Day nine was the second to last day before going home.
We wanted to lay low and just stay in the hotel and relax at the pool or the beach!

Day 10: Day trip to the Phi Phi Island!

I think our last day in Phuket was my favorite day!
One of the things I really wanted to do was go to the Phi Phi islands!
All the tours I had looked into did not seem to fit our family which frustrating me a little because I knew that the Phi Phi islands were to be suppose to be one of the most beautiful places in the world.
Our taxi driver (who drove us our entire stay in Phuket) arranged for us to go on a private tour to the  Phi Phi islands. It was the BEST!

The taxi driver drove us to his house/ family's house (more like a family community) which was down the street from our hotel where we waited for the speed boat to arrive.

Kiki fishing for tiny fish with a seashell!

Waiting for the boat!

Logan having fun on the rope swing!

Boat ride!

The taxi driver and his family joined us on our day trip to the Phi Phi islands. Kiki was so happy to find a friend! They babysat Kiki and Eden while we snorkeled which was so nice and made a delicious thai dish for us for lunch.

Phi Phi Lae!

Maya Bay!
It is a beautiful touristy spot where the movie the beach was filmed I believe.
We took time to snorkel there a little!

Jon having fun with the GoPro!

I believe this spot is called Viking Cave, a place where locals come to collect the swift's nests used to make Bird's nest soup, a Chinese delicacy.

Monkey beach!

Julien tossing a banana to the monkey!

Once we arrived at Phi Phi Don we docked the boat right on the beach and took a break to eat, play in the sand, swim, or explore the island.

I did not realize while taking the pictures but a grizzly looking, rudely dressed man is sunbathing in the background of all the cute pictures I took of Eden. Sorry! He is hideous, but Eden is to cute I could not resist to put them up!

Love this family photo!
Love love love!

Off we go to find the perfect spot to picnic.

Eden found a coconut!

Our delicious lunch!

Logan and Kiki love eating octopus!
Crazy kids!

A guy was there with his 2 monkeys making money by having people pose with them for pictures.
It was to hard to resist those cute little furry creatures!

Even Eden had a turn!

One last dip in the crystal clear ocean before heading back on the boat!

We made one last stop to snorkel before heading back.

Logan feeding the fish!

Jon and I had so much fun snorkeling! We all love seeing the beautiful marine life below!

Even Kiki jumped out of the boat this time for a little snorkeling!

Jon really really sunburned! Ouch!

Oh so tired!

Kiki and Aliea

Our taxi driver and his family!

Later that evening we took one last stroll on the beach. Eden had fun petting the puppy who hung out there during our entire stay in Phuket.

We than got all showered, and packed up, and ordered room service for the kids so Jon and I could enjoy one last dinner date!

Last dinner date!
I'm so grateful Julien and Logan are growing up and and becoming some great babysitters!
They are a big help!

We ordered some mocktails to celebrate us and our awesome vacation!

Day 11: Time to go home!

Of we go back to our sandbox!
We are so grateful for this amazing adventure and all the wonderful memories we made!

Poor Logan's raccoon face!

On our last connection we sat in front of the emergency exit #myworsenightmare!!!!
Seriously! You cannot recline! So imagine this: Eden sleeping on me, not able to recline while the seat in front of me reclined! It left me less than 6 inches between Eden's face and the seat in front of me! That was fun!!!!!! Good thing it was a short flight (4hrs)!!!!
Needless to say I eager to get home!