Thursday, April 29, 2010

Jump around

Time to reveal what will probably be our last vacation sort of adventure here on this side of the world. We're off to:

OK, so ironically those are Thai Turkeys. But NO, we are going to the Turkey, land of the Turks, the Assyrians and Hittites, the Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman Empires, unfathomable years of history, Christian and Muslim, Europe and Asia all melded into one facinating country.

In our frenzied anticipation, we supposed grownups of Gecko House have been singing the song Istanbul not Constantinople pretty much nonstop, and now Bethy has picked it up and bops away. I gotta learn the violin part from the Might Be Giants version one of these days...

Istanbul is where our plane will touch down this afternoon. We're going to soak in as much of the country as we can, meeting up with Mike's parents on the first day (yes! Not only do we love their company but they more than halve the parenting we have to do. SCORE!) and travelling Turkey for the first weeks of May, then heading over to Greece.

Aren't you glad I didn't post a photo of a greasy turkey?

Yeah, me too.

There is no way I could even start to explain to you how excited we are about this trip. When we came out here, Turkey was the one place, possibly even more than Petra in Jordan, that we said we would have to experience. And now we're going!

There will be little blog posts popping up on here while we're gone, and when we get back, oh, I will be telling you all about our journey.

For now, I am dreaming about finding out, is there really a difference between Greek and Turkish coffee? I know I'm not, under any circumstances, to say that to countrymen of either continent...

To experience Turkish coffee in Turkey. I relish the thought. Mmmmm.

And we should be in Istanbul for the end of the Tulip Festival. I wouldn't have gotten to see any in Spring this year otherwise; they don't grow here.

Tulips. In Istanbul. Bliss.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Everybody's free (to wear sunscreen)

I don't know if you remember the Wear Sunscreen song from 1997, but it's the rambling and very apt advice of Baz Luhrmann. One of the lines goes like this: Do one thing every day that scares you.

Thomas and his wind-up shark

For some reason, that brief but powerful sentiment has stuck with me as something really good.

Push the boundries...just a little. That idea has led to my trying to speak a little of other's languages, even though I have no talent for it whatsoever. It's led to my having conversations with total strangers, running crazy distances, eating things that I have no idea what they are, or know, but try anyway, and hey, to trust Mike to know what he was doing when he brought our family out to the Middle East.

Sometimes the policy pays off, sometimes not so much, I look like a dork often enough, but almost always it results in learning something about life, or myself, that otherwise I would never have known.

Or blog fodder. That's always good.

The other day, at Atlantis Aquaventure, the Carpe Diem, Just Do It, What the Heck policy made me do something that addressed several fears all at once. Once again the spousal unit thought I was nuts. But, well, what the heck.

Bethy on waterslide

Atlantis, you may remember, is the luxury hotel out on the man-made exclusive island, Palm Jumeirah.

Bethy inside the Atlantis Avenue, on the way to Aquaventure

Aquaventure is the fabulous waterpark there. The kids get a real kick out of it, and, yes, so do we. It's gorgeous, the rides are great, something for everyone, the lifeguards are attentive, we have 2 for 1 coupons, and it's not at all hard to spend an entire day there. Somehow we manage to get sunburned every time, despite copious application and reapplication of sunscreen.

Last time we went I didn't really get much of a chance to try the big kid rides out. This time I decided, on the spur of the moment, that not only would I give those a go, that I would also try the great Granddaddy of them all:

The Leap of Faith.

Pretty much no one I know even wants to try this thing. You climb up flight after flight of stairs to get to this ride, going past all the other entrances to the other, less insane waterslides. At the top is a sign that says, among other statements:

NOT for those afraid of heights
NOT for those afraid of going fast
NOT for those afraid of enclosed spaces
Do NOT try to slow yourself down
The management is not responsible, etc..etc...

And here is what it looks like from the outside:

See that little hole at the top beneath the pyramid-shaped beak part? That's where you start. Then there's the 90 foot near-vertical drop...

Yes, you read that right. 90 feet. At the bottom of that is an underwater tube (can you see it? Just past the mist there in the rectangular part) that takes the bit of humanity plunging through a shark tank.

Yes, real sharks, but hey, there's the plexiglass that you're shooting through between you and them, and I don't think I'm afraid of sharks.

The rider shoots at rocket through that, beneath two bridges, and then, with any luck, gets dumped out into a pool, all of six stories below, at the end.

During the show The Amazing Race the contestants were challenged with this ride. One of them was so paralysed by fear that she simply couldn't do it, and her team had to forfeit. No one was going to give me a million dollars, even though I am not so good with heights.

For some reason I can't satisfactorily explain, I made myself climb those stairs. I waited in line, and by the time I got to the front of the line, my heart was pounding so hard I wondered if the people standing around me could hear it.

There would have been no shame in getting out of line...more than one person looked, paled, and left. Others tried to sit down at the entrance but then got back up and slowly, carefully backed away. Some folks went for it, no problem, though more often than not there was a lot of screaming. Listening to the screams fly away from us wasn't so great for the nerves either.
The attendant watched calmly throughout, allowing one person to try at a time.

After the person in front of me went, something apparently went wrong. The attendant stopped and went over to the scary opening, one leg on either side and hands on the metalwork. Looking down, he blew his whistle, waited, signalled something to someone below, shook his head, waited, and then blew his whistle again and stood aside, beckoning to me.

It was my turn.

Somebody stop me!

No one obliged. Darn them anyway.

I had counted how many seconds it took one of the sliders before me to reach the bottom. A count of eight. Anyone could stand a count of eight.

I sat down, crossed my legs in front of me, pushed off, quickly crossing my arms across my chest like a mummy as I laid down, breathed out, and too late to do anything about it, went.

The sensation of falling like that is nothing like anything I've ever experienced before. Or, frankly, ever want to again. You fall like a rock.

I had my eyes screwed tightly shut as I fell. One...two...three...four...five...six...maybe seven or eight...and then I was in the tube, my back burning from the friction despite the cool flowing water. Then the roaring water came up over me as the world continued to rush by, up my nose, completely filling my ears and blocking out sensations except for the unbelievable speed through the dark and flooding.

Damned scary.

Then plop, I was out and in a sedate pool. Big gulp of air when I came up. And you know what I did?

I laughed.

Any psychologist out there that want to take a shot at what that means?

I haven't a clue. But I did it. I survived, and I didn't scream all the way down like a silly girl.


Sunday, April 25, 2010

It's the world I know...

Uh-oh! Carnivore Alert! Code Orange!!! Run, veggie friends, run!

I got quite the response the other day when I posted the following on Facebook:

Let's take a vote: how many of your kids, when told, "we're going out for some Korean style cow's tongue" would go" YAY YUMMY, THANK YOU MOMMY!!!" ? That's my girl.

Words used in reply included "tortured" and "child abuse." Really?

Generally Bethy does this: Mom, what's for dinner? (Insert regular sort of in answer.)

Then she says YUCK! I hate that! Why do you always make things you know I don't like?!

Then Mike gets into the conversation about how I cooked for the family and how Bethy should be happy and how kids are starving know how this goes.

You should also hear the packed lunch reviews I get from our little critic. Yikes. Talk of disdain. Bethy's complaining puts cats to shame. Yowly cats.

Now you should be curious as to WHY this picky young thing would not just like but be excited at the prospect of eating...cow tongue.

Let me reassure you right now, that while I do not shop the offal section in the grocery stores here (and it is an extensive and vaguely disturbing gathering of parts), going out for Korean with a great group is a definite highlight in our repertoire of dining experiences. In Dubai, that's saying something, my friend.

Happy looking folks, post cow tongue ingestion.

First of all, the nice waitstaff at Seoul Garden restaurant in Karama give you your own room, behind a closed door, with a button to summon the waiter. This means that no matter how rambunctious the kids get with one another, it...doesn't...matter.

Total lack of dirty looks from us to the kids or other diners at us. The restaurant doesn't serve alcohol, but that doesn't matter. Without the dirty looks it's easy to relax and have a good time, so I enjoyed my green tea and basically let the kids goof off together. Our friends did the same. This is good stuff.

Secondly, you get to cook your meats right there at the table. Go ahead, try to tell me this is not way cool. They bring you plate after plate of marinated, beautiful cuts of meat, along with oils and sauces and cunning little dishes of things such as jalapenos and garlic, and even Kimchi for the authentic Korean experience. They provide meat tongs and kitchen scissors and let you go to town.

Now, here we go. The tongue looks like this:

Not scary at all, right?

And it lasts about three seconds after it comes off the grill. Chomp. Gone.

We spent two hours there eating sweet ribs and sliced meats, and it was fabulous, barely realising how much time had passing until suddenly we looked at each other and went uuuuuh, holy cow tongue, I'm full.

Well most of us did that. There were a few serious recreational eaters who kept at it a bit more, but eventually even they called it a night.

Full tummies, seriously smelling of garlic, we considered the evening a real success. I would take you there in a minute.

New experiences can be good for you, you know.

Now, if I could just get Bethy to eat a non-McDonalds hamburger...

Monday, April 19, 2010

Route 66

Thomas relaxing in a windowpane, Al Ain

Trying to check off some of our "must-do's while we're here", the family took a quick weekend jaunt out on the UAE's Route 66. It differs slightly from the US version: camels, sandstorms, palm and acacia trees. We stayed in a hotel on top of the rocky Jebel Hafeet, one of the UAE's highest, and certainly its best known mountain at a little over 4000 feet.

We were disappointed that the hotel didn't at all live up to the 5 star treatment promised, (and paid for) but the kids liked the swimming pool, and I liked the aerobatics of the Swallows swooping outside our window and the view of desert's amazing colors below. The orange in the dunes comes from iron oxide which, by the way, will color your socks forever as a memento.

Sheikh Khalifa's Palace on the mountainside, as seen from the hotel

The next morning we looked for, but did not find, the Camel Bazaar, though we did see this little guy chillin' on his mama:

Oh, mama, I know that feeling.

and then we went to the renowned Al Ain Zoo. With all the animals, including white, blue-eyed lions, it was somewhat ironic, though perhaps not surprising, that our favorite part of the excellent zoo was this:

Animatronic dinosaurs. Very cool.

They roared, they clawed, they spit and rolled their eyes. The dinosaurs, I mean. The kids too, but to a lesser extent.

We all had our favorites, Thomas loved the baby dinosaurs peeping and popping up from their eggs in a nest, and I was happy to see my homeboy Stegosaurus. I think Bethy and Mike were most into T Rex. Always a crowd pleaser, that one.

Yes, we are such geeks we have favorite dinosaurs. Don't you? Fess up!

Bethy was quite interested in differentiating which dinosaurs were carniverous versus vegetarian, and made up several drawings such as the one below, explaining "I will (or will not) eat you because I do (or do not) eat meat."

Had I carefully checked her chart this might not have happened:

Fortunately I escaped and ended up taming the beast. No Darwin award for me that day.

There was even one of the models that the kids could "drive" themselves with buttons and joystick and cutaway parts so they could see how it worked, which you would have thought would be a serious hit, but they enjoyed digging out dinosaur bones even more. Go figure.

It amazes me that we wandered that zoo for hours in 100 degree heat and besides making sure to hydrate, thought little of it.

Back in Seattle, heat over, say 90 would have laid us out flat and useless. How the times are a-changin. On the negative side of that equation, now the kids whine and moan about how they're freezing to death when we go through the dairy section of the grocery store: hurry up, Mom!

It's going to be fun to see what happens when we move. Hope we don't end up someplace truly cold, is all I'm saying.

Muslim man hurrying to prayer through the sandstorm

A sandstorm blew in on the way home. Driving through one is very similar, visually, to being in fog, except windy, and if you get out of the car to take a video, like I did, then expect a gritty mouthful and keep your eyes covered. I hope those bits of silica between my molars were not in vain and you can see the plumes of orange sand being blown off the dunes. Certainly you can hear the winds!

And now back to planning our next getaway, flying out in less than two weeks, which will be to...

Oh, wait, can't tell you yet. Any guesses?

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Sweet surrender...

I have this fantasy version of myself. In it, I can run effortlessly, cook beautifully and healthfuly, host dinner parties at the slightest notice without freaking out, sprinkle literary quotes into my conversation, have a house that is stunning and almost zen-like in its minimal elegance, and am a woman of grace, full of confidence and serenity.

Maybe next lifetime. If I am good in this one. Like, really, really good.

In the meantime, there is one thing I can always count on to make me feel like I have it together. And that is making rum cake.

I have loved rum cakes since Mike and I discovered them on our honeymoon (ten years ago!) in the Caribbean; the perfect little Tortuga ones, should you get your hands on them, are fabulous. Recently, I had a rum cake epiphany.
It happened like this: I had made my rum cake (a skill of which I am inordinately proud but shouldn't be as they are embarassingly easy) to take to a BBQ and snorkeling party at the beach beneath palm trees.

Yes, life can be hard sometimes, but somehow we find the strength to persist and endure. Let's move on, shall we?

Anyway, our houseguests, who had also generously been invited to the get-together, got slim chance to try out the rum cake as, even with the variety of desserts available, the partygoers pounced, devoured, and left nary a crumb behind of said cake.

Now, that same week I needed to make cupcakes for Thomas' birthday, which I intended to frost green and arrange into a Very Hungry Caterpillar surrounded by (yes) one apple, two pears, three plums, four strawberries, and five oranges.*

Lest you give me credit for creativity, confession: the idea in fact belongs to this fantastic baker in Vancouver who makes such cute cupcakes I may have to make a pilgrimage to track her down and shake her sugar-dusted hand. Her cupcakes are picture perfect. She probably hosts dinner parties too. Sigh.
*Those of you who have not read Eric Carle's classic story, what on earth have you been doing? Get a copy -it's a great gift- acquire a small child, (many are available for loan by their parents, trust me,) and prepare for delight as you share this wonderful little book.

Soooo, needed a cupcake recipe...the guests wanted to try more rum cake....I am always up for rum cake...see where this is going?

I experimented and the result was chocolate rum cake cupcakes, substituting a basic and decadent buttercream for the usual rum glaze. Tasty? Oh my friends, yes, yes YES!
The original had face and antennae and feet that I made out of white chocolate melted, colored, and shaped, but once again humidity won that battle (humidity always wins!) and I ended up scrapping that gooey multicolored mess into a bowl which I then hid, resorting to a last minute cut-from paper kindergarten level fix. Fortunately, Thomas loved the result and was none the wiser.

And because I love you so much, here is the recipe for those naughty but oh-so-delicious cakes:
measuring up to the Burj Khalifa

Thomas' Rum Cake Cupcakes
Blend together:
1 (18.25 oz) box of yellow cake mix.
1 (3.4 oz) box of instant pudding mix. I've tried vanilla and chocolate and banana and they are all delicious in this recipe. This time was chocolate.
4 eggs (loosen that waistband at this point)
1/2 cup water and 1/2 cup vegetable oil.
1/2 cup rum (I like to use Bacardi Gold, choose according to taste. Spiced rum makes an interesting one too, especially nice for the holidays)
Now that these are all swirled together, put them into lined cupcake tins, about 3/4 full depending on how much of a crown you like, and cook at 350 F (180 C) about 20 minutes, checking until a toothpick comes out clean. FYI: the alcohol bakes out during the cooking, no worries for the 4 year old. He will merely be hopped up on sugar. As will the rest of the household.
Let the cupcakes cool completely while you whip up your favorite buttercream frosting. I made one with real butter and homemade vanilla (got the beans at the Spice Souk...can't get any more groovily exotic than that) and what here is called icing sugar and I call powdered sugar, and didn't bother adding any milk to it.
Few things more satisfying as how darned easy it is to make buttercream icing. Never, ever buy those rotten little containers of premade frosting gunk. Promise me.
You can probably sneak one still-warm cupcake with gooey slipping-off icing that you slapped on because you couldn't stand it and no one is watching. Their own fault for not offering to help. (Like you'd need help making these.)
Snarf it down whilst standing in the kitchen and growl like a lion tearing away at a downed gazelle on the Serengeti at anyone who dares come near.
Once that bit of primal insanity is satisfied, you can frost your cupcakes as prettily as you like. Stand back. Go oooh! Serve them and be adored.
Go for a run the next morning. Except that all the cupcakes will be gone by then, life should be pretty darned good by that point.

Monday, April 12, 2010

I run for life...

Usually the racers at the Dubai Autodrome look like this:

and I can hardly claim to be into car racing, but let me tell you, they make the most fantastic noise as they go by. You'd have to be dead to not get a thrill out of it. Or like Thomas, who made it quite clear that in his opinion that for little ears those engines are too loud to be endured.

He has a point. Note to self: make kid listen to more rock music. Deaden those nerves. (Or maybe not...)

However, there was an entirely different sort of race at the Autodrome just the other day that was of particular importance to our family, and the racers, well, some of them looked like this:

Yes, that is Bethy. She ran her very first real, honest to goodness race. And got a real, honest to goodness medal. (and yes, that is me and yes, I do look like a total goober and no, I really don't care.)

Bethy with her friend and running buddy, Anna.

It was hot and not at all fun race for the few hundred silly grownups like myself running the 10K, a loop twice around the track the race cars usually speed around in, what, a couple of minutes? Took us a little longer, especially with the curves and swooping hills that undoubtedly make for a great drive.

It was challenging (translation: just this side of hell) and punishing, a couple of the runners ending up being ministered to by the ready EMTs for heat exhaustion or heatstroke. The winds were blowing, which made for work as well, but also brought some relief from the temperatures.

Next year they are going to try and start the race earlier to further mitigate the sun factor. As all runners in the Middle East are stark raving mad, I'm sure, like this time, every entry available will be filled.

I wasn't happy with my efforts, but then, neither was enyone else over the age of 16 I talked to.

The kids, on the other hand, ran 2.5 km, (oh, to be little again!) and gave it their best. They ROCKED the Autodrome. All smiles at the end, Bethy even had enough energy to race with me a bit before my finish line.

To say I am proud of my girl would be a massive understatement.

More importantly, she is super proud of herself. How great is that?

You have to love this kid and this sport.

A special thanks goes out to Shuko Coleman for the photos and to DRR and the Dubai Autodrome for putting on this race. Bethy will never forget it. She even took her medal to school for first grade show and tell. That makes me really, really happy.


Run for Life I hope you don't mind, but I was moved to include a link to a cause very near and dear to our family: breast cancer took my grandmother long before I, or any of her grandchildren were ever born, cheating her and all of us of the opportunity to know one another, and her daughter, my dear Auntie Sue, has just finished her last radiation treatment, along with surgery and chemo she endured for the disease. If you have been meaning to donate a little something to the Susan G Komen's CURE efforts, it's super fast and easy, and way easier than running that sucker yourself. Trust me. Here's the link to my aunt's team:

Regardless of whether or not you donate, for taking the time to read this, thank you.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Hail to the chief....

Sooo, when you get an invitation to bring your child to join in welcoming and hearing an address by an unnamed "prominent global leader" who "for security reasons...(they were) unable to disclose the identify of the special guest at this time"...well, if you're like me, you say heck yes, sign me up!

A few days later the school sent the follow-up invitation, naming the dignitary. Ooh, it was a good one. I confirmed the RSVP for Bethy and me so fast I got keyboard whiplash.

Yesterday was the day, and during the drive out, I had a serious discussion with Bethy about how there are bad people in the world who want to hurt good people. I told her that if I said to get down or run that that's what she must do, immediately, no matter what was happening. You hate to do that to a 7 year old, but she seemed to take it in stride.

Bethy, in her little school uniform, and I arrived 2 hours before the speech was to begin. The bomb-sniffing dog and handler were just finishing checking the building, Bethy's old school out in the desert which I imagine, is a comparably easy location to secure.

She and I happily accepted American and UAE flags to wave, and went through a line of student greeters, gravely nodding or smiling as we walked the specially laid-out red carpeting. What we didn't go through, surprisingly, were any sort of metal detectors or security giving us the once over pat down.

We were being filmed, of course, and there were undoubtedly trained persons scanning each face as we entered, but as with most security in the UAE, it was subtle and discrete.

Once in the auditorium we scored prime spots, the best available for commoners and riff-raff like ourselves, behind where the dignitaries and US Consulate members had their roped off reserved seating.

The two hours of waiting turned into three in the auditorium which quickly became standing room only, no surprise on either count. People complained, but what what did they expect? VIPs get held up by everyone wanting to press the flesh and get photos taken and gawk.

I was a super awesome cool Mom and brought our portable DVD player for Bethy which even the people behind us ended up watching. This is the sort of situation that makes me wonder why more people don't pack a book in their purse or back pocket? Waiting can be a golden opportunity to relax.

Yes, smugly, I had brought a book too, and had friends to chat with while we waited. Sometimes I manage to plan and it works. True story.

Finally, the dignitary arrived, but first had to be taken on a tour of the school. Vaguely unruly behavior from the crowd at that announcement, but they calmed down once the momentary mob mentality ran out of steam.

Then, finally, the moment we'd been waiting for. The third tallest man ever to take the office of President of the United States, with his easy presence and the brilliantly white hair that brings to mind a Bald Eagle, entered the room to a roar of approval as the audience lept to its feet.

Former President Bill Clinton. That charismatic scallywag of a man, who spends his energies, as he puts it, "a private citizen working for the public good." He is a force to be reckoned with.

After verses from the Qu'ran and the UAE national anthem, the students from DAA presented him with a check for 100,000 AED to aid the people of Haiti, in addition to the 200,000 AED already raised by the school for Haitian victims. (nearly $82,000.) Let's just say they didn't do it with a bake sale.

At that point I should have realised that my idea that President Clinton would be giving an upbeat little speech to the kids was a dumb one. President Clinton, a savvy operator, in Dubai, with an audience of wealthy parents.

Duh. There would be no feel-good follow your dreams message here. This was literally a golden opportunity to educate movers and shakers, present and future, about how Clinton sees the world with all its joys and problems and how he believes those problems should be approached.

Alrighty then. I was all ears.

Cliff Notes version: He feels that inequality, instability, and unsustainable energy production are the three areas of life today that need to be addressed, and urged us to filter how we feel and act concerning issues through whether a idea will build up the positive and reduce the negative effects of inequality.

In front of the strobe lights flashing, cameras whirring, Clinton asserted that the leaders of the 21st century will be those who can say how we will solve problems. Not who, not how much it will cost, but how to make it happen.

Great speech. No notes, just him and his powerful charm and intellect. This having been said, I can't tell you how glad I was to have brought the DVD player for Bethy so she could zone out to Disney. I think there might have been some adults who might have preferred that too. Personally, I enjoyed it, and resolved to get around to reading his books.

Then it was over, he thanked us, we cheered, and he was whisked away, we having to remain in the auditorium until he left the building for his next engagement.

Say what you like about the Clintons, they are one hard working family.

For us, well, we left the kids with a sitter and went out for for a leisurely dinner with the same friends who'd been there to see the Prez. Not a bad way to end the day.

One thing President Clinton said to us, which I loved, was this: Devote time to good things, not just to preventing bad things from happening.

I raise my pizza to the man.


For those interested in the politics -and Clinton pulled no punches yesterday- here is a link to the National newspaper. They did a good job of covering his speech.


Monday, April 5, 2010

And if you go chasing rabbits...

In Dubai it is pleasantly possible to purchase the exact same PAAS Easter egg coloring kits that you get in the States, albeit for 25-50 dirhams ($6.80-13.61) and they don't go on sale. In fact, you can still buy Christmas candy now, and it's not on sale either. Holiday stuff never will be anything but a luxury for which we either cough up the cash or go without. Two little going without.

The hot cross buns, however, are a steal. I shall miss the baking here when we preservatives, the breads inutterably soft and usually still warm in their bags... yum.

To celebrate the holiday you may make reservations for special Easter brunches and really, really stuff your face, and you can even go to church in this permissive country, though I'm not entirely sure when the few churches hold their Easter services, since everybody goes back to work on Sundays.

Easter Saturday service?

This year, after meeting the Easter Bunny who, she informed me, is "some grown-up dressed up in a costume," Bethy asked me if the Easter Bunny leaving chocolates and hiding colorful eggs is real or "a secret thing grown-ups do".


I asked her what she thought, and when pressed, confessed to her that the real Easter Bunny doesn't some to Dubai. It's just too far, and he's not like Santa Claus.

"Right Mom! He's not as magical as Santa! Thanks, that makes sense."

What we did do, besides our own small home celebration, was to go to Ski Dubai for the Easter Egg hunt where we met that snow bunny.

A bunny Bethy happily hugged, even though he wasn't the real one.

As the Mommy, I finally got to experience the gorgeously freezing air of Ski Dubai. Total indulgence, that frigid bite on your face. Loved it. Loved that the snow machine dumped flakes and clumps of snow that fluttered down to us and felt magical. After two hours the cold made its way to my toes, but until then...bliss.

Tourists gawking in at us from the mall on the other side of the windows, the kids danced with the bunny, and dug frantically in the snow for hidden eggs full of chocolate sweeties, slid on the slopes and of course threw snow at one another, firmly ignoring the signs telling us not to. (whatever.)

Bethy pulled Thomas:

Then Thomas pulled Bethy:

Until we were informed by security that they weren't supposed to do that either. Which made me give slanty eyes to the traditionally dressed woman who was hogging a plastic sled that was permissable to pull kids around on. She felt justified holding it for the exclusive use of her children the entire time we were there, even though those kids were nowhere in sight.

If she'd ridden it that would have been one thing, but she didn't.

And no, I did not throw a snowball at the back of her head.

We wrapped up our Easter visit with the cocoa I've heard is the best in Dubai, which we drank at a cafe with ice tables and benches, along with some especially nice salty buttery popcorn.

It is darned tootin' tasty.

Good stuff. Love that my kids had cold little red noses and got to wear their mittens.

And that's what we did for our Easter in the desert.


{Dedicated to my Mom, who asked the question "What DO you do for Easter there?" Happy birthday, Mom!}