Mila is 3!

Our baby girl turned 3 two weeks ago! We are so very proud of the little lady that she is becoming. We celebrated her big day by sending cupcakes and princess party decor to her school the day before and by having a small gathering at our house on her birthday.

Along with being proud of my daughter I must toot my horn and admit that I am quite pleased with myself as well. I took on the exciting task of baking her cupcakes for school and her cake for her birthday gathering. This was my first time baking cakes and making icing from scratch. Both creations turned out pretty well. Give me a few years; I’ll be that gorgeous, successful mom that bakes wonderfully. Now off for a run I go 2 cupcakes and 1 slice of cake later.

School Party

Mila with her teachers and nursery's owner.
Mila with her teachers and nursery’s owner.
Grandma joined in on the party.
Grandma Lorick joined in on the party.
She's 3!
She’s 3!
Aaron came and crashed her party.
Aaron came and crashed her party.
We were still working on which 3 fingers hold up.
We were still working on which 3 fingers to hold up.

The Birthday Gathering 

In keeping with the princess theme...
In keeping with the princess theme…

 

Mila and Grandma Lorick.
Mila and Grandma Lorick.

 

Mila and her ballet partner and friend, Mali.
Mila and her ballet partner and friend, Mali.
I made a sparkle rainbow cake!
I made a sparkle tie dye cake!

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Soooooo next time I make smaller color blocks to get the look that I desire. It was yummy though :).
Soooooo next time I’ll make smaller color blocks to get the look that I desire. It was yummy though!
Mila playing with Levi.
Mila playing with Levi.
Benjamin made a guest appearance :).
Benjamin made a guest appearance :).

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Aaron kept trying to open Mila's gifts.
Aaron kept trying to open Mila’s gifts.
She was too cool for indoors...it was time for a swim.
She was too cool for indoors…it was time for a swim.
Walking to the pool.
Walking to the pool.
Enjoying the pool!
Enjoying the pool!

I think that Mila really enjoyed her parties! She’s asked me, on at least 4 different occasions, will she have another one tomorrow. She has even gone as far as to request a Doc Mcstuffins’ themed party. My daughter is already growing up too quickly, 1 party a year is all that I can stand.

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Happy 1st Month!

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Benjamin is a month old already! He’s fattened up a bit and his lungs are getting plenty of exercise (poor 3rd child). He continues to be a mild tempered child: not as calm as Mila and not as aggressive as Aaron.

1 Month Stats:

Weight: 9.2lbs/4.1kg

Height: 21 inches/53cm

Eating is clearly a hobby of his as he was a bit shy of 6 lbs. at birth and has gained 3 and some change already!

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Eid Al Fitr

The UAE’s moon sighting committee has just announced that Eid Al Fitr, also known as the festival of fast breaking, begins on tomorrow and that today was the last day of Ramadan for this country. The moon sighting committee gathered today to ensure that a new/crescent moon could be sighted. While this is a world-wide celebration for Muslims, the official start of Eid varies in different countries as its start is contingent upon the sighting of the new moon. For example, in Pakistan Eid Al Fitr will be celebrated on Tuesday as there are no chances of  moon sightings tonight.

Eid Al Fitr is a celebration in which Muslims recognize the ending of Ramadan and the beginning of the month of Shawwal, the 10th month that follows the month of Ramadan on the Islamic calendar. On the actual day of Eid Muslims take part in religious activities such as gathering together to recite the Eid prayer. The celebration, however, usually continues for about 3 days. For those 3 days Muslims visit family members, friends, and give gifts, especially to children. Government offices here are closed  for the entire week to ensure that Muslims are able to spend time with their family members and other loved ones.

As the fasting period has ended, we all are able to resume our normal daily activities. We will be celebrating Eid by going to Dubai tomorrow to eat lunch. I’m so excited about being able to dine inside of restaurant before 7:30pm. With that being said, I would like to wish everyone a happy and joyous Eid.

Have a blessed Eid
“Have a blessed Eid”

 

 

Ramadan Mubarak

As the school year comes to an end we are forced to constantly come to terms with our inability to visit the states this summer. This will be our first summer away from home. It is, however, for a good a cause; our baby is due in August which doesn’t leave us enough time to travel internationally. I am dreading the intense heat and am a bit leery about the start of Ramadan.

Ramadan is  a holy and very scared time for Muslims.  However, because there is no separation of church and state, Ramadan initiates a temporary routine/ life change for Muslims and non-Muslims alike. While speaking with some of our friends and family back home, I realized that most of them don’t understand Ramadan and it’s effects on this country and more specifically its expatriate community. I hope that this post sheds some light on how different things will be here in the UAE and other Muslim countries during this time.

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What is Ramadan?

Ramadan is a month of reflection, prayer, and fasting for Muslims. They fast from dawn (around 4:30am) to sunset (around 7pm) everyday to become closer to Allah, cleanse their body of impurities, and  to be reminded of how the less fortunate may feel. Ramadan is one of the 5 pillars of Islam so fasting during this period is essential for most  devout Muslims. There are some exceptions when it comes to the fasting aspect of Ramadan.  This year Ramadan is scheduled to begin on Sunday, June 29th, in accordance to the sighting of the crescent moon, and end on Sunday, July 27th.

Basic Rules During Ramadan for Muslims

  • No eating, drinking, smoking, or intercourse from dawn to sunset.
  • Curb emotions such as anger, greed, envy, lust, and refrain from gossip.
  • Keep thoughts and actions pure and use the fasting period as a time for spiritual contemplations.
  • Help those in need.
  • Visit friends and family members.

Basic Rules During Ramadan for Non-Muslims

  • It is illegal to publicly eat, drink, chew gum, or smoke during the fasting period. This include ones own car.*Both Muslim and  non-Muslim children, pregnant and breastfeeding women,those with illnesses,  and travelers are exempt from the eating and drinking regulations.
  • Everyone is expected to dress more conservatively during this time. Women are requested and expected to limit the amount of make-up worn and cover arms, legs, and shoulders.
  • No music or dancing is allowed during Ramadan so car stereos should be turned down and one should even be mindful of playing music too loudly in his or her own home.

*As teachers are still expected to work for the next 2 weeks we have been asked to be very discreet regarding food and water that we bring into the building. Also, if we must eat, it should be done in a private area away from our Muslim co-workers.

Overall, non-Muslims are asked to be respectful and mindful of  Islam and Muslims during this time.

Changes in  Everyday Routines

It is widely stated that during the fasting period Muslims spend a lot of their time sleeping and praying. Therefore, hours of operations for businesses shift to adhere to their schedules. During the day some restaurants are completely closed while others are open for takeout only. Most businesses are open for a maximum of 6 hours a day. For example, a local home store will open from 11am-2pm and then again from 8pm to 11pm.  Nightclubs will remain closed during the entire period of Ramadan and live music will not be played in hotels and bars. Alcohol, however, will be served from 8pm onwards in bars and hotels. Music in shopping centers will either be non-existent or replaced with Quran recitations. Some family friendly entertainment venues will remain closed during Ramadan while others will open from 8pm-midnight.

From 7pm onwards the UAE comes alive. Muslims and non-Muslims will be out and about eating and visiting friends and family. The streets will be packed and restaurants open for dining in. Muslims will be having Iftar, the meal that breaks their fast, either in their homes or in restaurants. Iftar is usually a large meal that is eaten with both Muslims and non-Muslims or just with ones own family members. Providing Iftar for others is seen as a charitable act. Several hotels advertise their Iftar timings and specials and I’m looking forward to our experiencing one during this time.

How will Ramadan Effect Us?

Overall, we will be forced to be hermits during the day. We have discussed trying new recipes and a perhaps completing a home project.  We have also decided to have Christmas in summer this year and buy lots of new toys as we will be in the house with a 1 and 2-year-old. Bedtime will possibly be pushed back to experience less of the day.  We live in a row house which means that we can hear our neighbors through the walls at times.  One of the families next to us practice Islam, so we are concerned about their schedule during this time.  Hopefully, they will be traveling to their home country as many people here do during the summer.  If not, it may mean that we will have to be considerate of their sleeping during the day and they will have to consider us at night.

Since this is our last day of “regular” living for a month it’s not too early to wish everyone a Happy Ramadan.

 

*For more information feel free to read the articles below:

http://www.emirates247.com/breaking-news-ramadan-to-begin-in-uae-saudi-arabia-from-sunday-2014-06-27-1.554555

http://gulfnews.com/news/gulf/saudi-arabia/saudi-arabia-to-expel-expats-who-disrespect-ramadan-1.1352684

http://www.walesonline.co.uk/whats-on/whats-on-news/what-ramadan-ramadan-what-muslims-7336269

First Christmas Abroad

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A month later I am finally getting around to sharing our Christmas with everyone. I apologize for my delay.

In order to make sure that it still felt like Christmas 7,444 miles from family, we made sure that we decorated and attended as many festive activities as possible. While it did not compare to celebrating with family we did enjoy our first Christmas away from the states.

We brought the tallest, fake Christmas tree that we could find, replaced our green plants with fake poinsettias, and hung personalized stockings from our wall shelves. We also hung Aaron and Mila’s Christmas artwork from school on their bedroom doors. We tried.

Christmas Dinner

Our church hosted a Christmas dinner for church volunteers and their families a few weeks before Christmas. The theme of the party was “What Would You Bring the King?” We were asked to bring a gift that was for God but could be appreciated by our brothers and sisters here. As this was clearly something that we, culturally, have never experienced I pondered for weeks as to what to take. Was this like secret santa with a holy twist? So after going back and forth I decided on 4 candles and potpourri. Don’t laugh at my reasoning as I am shocked that I even had this in me to embrace: the candles stood for a burnt offering and there were four because there are four of us. The potpourri was, you guessed it, a sweet smelling savour.   I thought that it worked, Terrence thought that it was corny. So at the dinner, after eating and singing Christmas carols together each person that brought a gift was able to pick a gift from under the tree. Once your gift was pulled you had to explain the meaning behind it. My (I originally thought “our”) gift was pulled first. When asked whose gift is this Terrence shouted “Aisha’s!” So he wanted no parts of my idea. When I explained it, everyone seemed to have liked the idea. I mean, we got Frankincense and someone else got a jump drive p titled “Jesus’s Favorite Playlist.” I think that my gift fared pretty well.

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Terrence and Mila getting our gift.

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My friend Whitney and Aaron

Christmas Eve in the Desert

Our church, along with other Christian churches in Al Ain, hosted their annual Christmas Eve potluck in the desert. We were looking forward to attending this as we knew that this would be one of the few times that we actually experienced cold weather as it is always much colder in the desert and it would be a new experience for Mila and Aaron. We didn’t stay long as it was a bit too cold for our children but we ate, laughed, and chatted a little before parting.

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Christmas Day

We had a very relaxed Christmas. We woke up, I cooked pancakes, we ate breakfast, then we opened our presents. After which we went to a friend’s house for Christmas dinner. Mila and Aaron had a wonderful Christmas thanks to grandparents and cousins. Thank you guys for helping to make our Christmas special.

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*Piper and David, we waited to give Mila her Elmo doll that you sent for Chirstmas. She and Aaron plays with him.