The ‘P’ Word

Since last week the letter ‘P‘ has taken over my life.  The bouncy arrival of Teddy the Pup has also heralded the arrival of puddles of pee and poop and not to mention sleepless nights.  We had planned to adopt a rescue dog, but after attending an open adoption day it was clear we needed to be prepared to welcome a new addition, so we decided to first stock up on doggie paraphenalia.  What is it they say about best laid plans?

24 hours after our decision I agreed to adopt an adorable little chap we met at the adoption day because his previously agreed adoption had fallen through.  Not having had time to make it to the pet store, Teddy arrived to a pretty bare house.  He excitedly skipped through the door, his tail wagging at breakneck speed. Excitedly he zipped from one spot to another, sniffing everything on the way.  I was dizzy watching him explore his new home.  Cuteness overload. The kids were besotted and were even entertained by his lack of bladder control.

All day long fur baby owning friends had been advising me on how to get the newest member of our family settled.  Oh how things seemed to have changed……..a.crate to provide a secure place, ferberizing (wasn’t that a technique used to sleep train babies???), strict feeding and walking schedules…..but first I needed to buy puppy essentials!

A dash to the local pet store and AED2,000 later, I was sure pup’s comfy red bed and shiny playpen would make him feel welcome in his new home. I was even more convinced that an exciting day would have tired pup out…..oh I have so much to learn…..At bedtime we tucked the little mite into his oversized crate and I settled on the couch in the next room.  Within a matter of hours the crying and yelping increased to a crescendo of howling that could have woken up the entire neighbourhood, let alone the entire household.  My first attempt to let him cry it out was successful ( and a lot less challenging than when I tried this method with DS1!).   Alas, peace did not reign for long, and when DS2 appeared in front of me at 1:30am begging me to make the noise stop, I knew I had no option.

Cradling the scamp in my arms, I began pacing…..pacing and rocking the 2 month old pup to calm him.  Every so often I would gently place him on his welcoming bed whilst I collapsed on my lumpy couch beside his pen.  With every wimper, I stumbled to his side to soothe him before he began howling.  Dizzy with tiredness I prayed for the day shift to relieve me.

People say having a puppy is like having a baby.  After my first night shift with Teddy, I thought that too.  However, after a week of a minding a teething, nipping puppy who pees and poops everywhere yet who has insane energy levels, and who cannot be left alone for fear of using the couch as a chew toy…..I think having a puppy is more like having a mischievious toddler!

 

it-wasnt-me

 

 

 

 

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Doggie Adoption

For quite some time now DD has been obsessed with all things dog related.  I can’t quite pinpoint what triggered her obsession but I do know she has been relentless in her pursuit of pestering me to get a dog as a family pet.  Growing up I had dogs, and as much work as it can be, I always felt the rewards far outweighed the before-school-walk-in-the-Irish-winter-rain, the poop scooping and the shedding (did I mention my pet was a German Shepherd who required up to 10 miles of walking a day, enough food to feed a rhino, and a shovel to scoop the poop?!).

Almost 4 years ago when DD began nagging I found it relatively easy to respond to her volley of ‘when can we get a dog?’ questions.  I am actually riddled with ‘Mummy guilt’ at some of the early excuses I offered, but in my defence, I didn’t want to dash my daughter’s hopes of one day having a dog.  When DD first asked for a dog, my response was a blase ‘sure, we can get one when you are 27’!  To a 7 year old oblivious to the concept of time, her response was an excited ‘OK’ and a merry skip on her way believing she would be getting a dog in 27 weeks…..Needless to say, for a clever little girl, it didn’t take DD long to figure out 20+ years was a very loooonnnngg time to wait for a puppy!  Thinking quickly on my feet my next excuse was enviroment – ‘Dogs need space.  Our garden is not large enough.  The desert is a very tough place for fur babies.   Perhaps when we move to Canada (a one time pipe dream of mine and DH’s) we would have the space and the seasons.’

As she grew older it became easier for her to understand the true reasons for not having a dog in the desert, and as much as she still wanted a dog, she understood our busy schedules didn’t leave much time for a pet, and how that would not be fair to a poor pooch.  Even so, that didn’t deter her attempts to break me down and win me over.  When she discovered K9 Friends online…..she began bombarding me with photos of the cutest, most lovable looking dogs who have been kindly rescued by this wonderful organisation. Before long it got to a point where we would sit together and scroll through K9 Friend’s site choosing which dog we would adopt if we were in a position to do so, and always concluding we wanted to adopt them all.

Before the summer when I finished up work, I realised we were in a position to adopt a doggie….afterall, I now have time to walk, feed, scoop poop……and announced to the bambinos that I thought we should think about getting a dog.

The munchkins were beyond excited.  They have already named the latest addition…..well each has got suggestions….picked out a leash, bed and chew toys….they have practically drawn up the walking schedule!  They are full of promises regarding caring for their little buddy.

Most people who have/have had dogs have warned against it, particularly on the basis of our busy schedules and expat obligations of returning home for weeks at a time each summer.  When I asked a friend the name of her recently adopted dog, her reply was  ‘complete-pain-in-the-a$$-will-bleed-you-dry-you’ll-never-have-a-clean-house-again-or-a-lie-in’.  A very succint description of life with a young dog……but she was also quick to add how adorable he is and how much the kids (and even she!) love him.  That is a feeling I want the kids to experience.

Let's hope this is how happy they will keep their promises of walking!

In the meantime, DH is sitting on the sidelines quietly praying I suspect, that I will change my mind or just get an indepdendent, low maintenance pet like a cat!   He has washed his hands of the family pet, so I had better make sure our soon-to-be-latest addition doesn’t end up chewing on the furniture or relieving itself on the rugs!

 

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Back to School = Back to Taxi

Aside from my Netflix meltdown, the new school year got off to a relatively calm, civilised start.  Unphased by the early morning wake up call and long school days, my trio have slipped back into their school day routine with ease (and even more surprisingly without complaint!). So far they have been reacquainted with their new class teachers, caught up with old friends and made new ones. Their brains are delicately being coaxed out from their summer hibernation, back to the world of thinking.  So far, so good although, in all fairness the first week is a ‘H’ free week (no homework as such; wouldn’t want to upset the happy apple cart).

At pick up, my bambinos have been full of energy; chatting animatedly about their day.  This week really could not have gotten off to a better start.  As pleased as I am with the seamless settling in, I have been quite surprised just how quickly the school is willing to get back to work, especially when it comes to school sports’ teams.

Day 1 – return to school.  Schedule for school team trials issued by the end fo the day (Seriously???).

Day 2 – Swim squad trials for Y6.  Football trials for Y4.

Day 3 – Football trials for Y6 boys and girls (separately).  Swim trials for Y4. Netball trials for Y6.

Day 4 – Ker-ching…welcome to your new life for the academic year 2016/7……Enjoy (and BTW, organise it!)

I drive, therefore I am.

I drive, therefore I am.

Juggling 3 kids’ schedules is becoming increasingly difficult.  After swim squad trials DD announced ‘I think I made competitive squad’.  My shoulders visibly slumped.  Proud?  Yes.  Happy? Not so much.  I know that means at least one pre-school training sesh which means me getting to school for a 6:45am training session on top of an afternoon session which inevitably will clash with a sibling’s session. DS1 chimed in with his prospects of getting into the development swim squad...another early morning.  Apparently DS1’s footie training will be pre-school hours too…..fab!  Just waiting to hear about DD’s netball and footie…..and I haven’t even thought about the external activities….

I am not qualified to organise all of this…car pools…..here I come!!!

 

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Mummy’s Back to School Blues

Dubai somehow always knows to turn on the humidity for the first day of the new school year.  Yesterday the heat was almost bearable due to the gusty breeze, but today felt like a sauna as kids reluctantly shuffled their shiny new black shoes through the sandy car park to the school gates.  Obligatory photos of perfect looking kiddos in their perfect new uniforms – check.  Obligatory introduction to teachers – check.  Obligatory exchange of summer adventures with other Mums – check.

A sense of calm and relaxation welcomed me as I left the school to walk to my car.  I smiled knowing my munchkins were happy to be catching up with their friends.  Yet opening the door to an empty and eerily silent house I felt something was missing.  As I made a cup of tea, I have to admit I felt a little lost……with no squabbles to umpire and no demands for snacks or entertainment, I wasn’t really sure  what I should do with my post-summer hols’ free time!

It wasn’t long before my mind filled with lists of things I could do: some were chores I had consigned to my ‘after summer, when the kids are back to school’ list; some involved the much promised post summer work out; and the rest fell under the ‘take it easy and relax’ category.

With my freshly made cup of tea in hand, I sat on the sofa to contemplate my options.  Staring right back at me from across the room was the TV screen……the voice of Phineas from the cartoon ‘Phineas and Ferb’ (who, each day of the summer holidays were faced with a similar dilemma to mine re: what to do) rang out in my head ‘Ferb, I know what we are going to do today.’

I am going to watch TV. Uninterrupted TV.  My choice of TV on screen bigger than an iPhone!

Given I would be alone for at least 3 hours with only lunch and toilet breaks to factor into my ‘me’ time, I decided a Netflix binge sesh was in order!  I live in a house of sports’ junkies.  We share one TV.  Our TV package was chosen by DH so he could keep up with the English Premiership football, cricket, F1, rugby etc., etc.  If my bambinos aren’t staring at sports on the ‘gogglebox’ they are looking up sports facts and watching sporting great re-runs on my laptop, their iPods or iPads.  A weekly series is just not something I can factor into my schedule…..I am a Mum to three busy kids….I don’t always remember to tune in at the right time.

So, Netflix it was……

To date, the kids are the only ones who have accessed Netflix on the TV, whereas I have only ever used it on my iPhone – a simple click on the Netflix icon and choose your preferred series.  Just how different could it be on a TV?

I knew I had to change the mode of the TV to HDMI.  Done.  Turn on XBox. Done.  Sign in.  Done (albeit a lot slower than my kids can do it – sausage fingers are a definite disadvantage in the 21st century!). Faced with a familiar digital photo of Messi from FIFA 16 and a YouTube icon…….I was not quite sure what I should click next. There was no Netflix option.  How is it that when the bambinos watch it, it’s a matter of what seems like a gazillion, fluent clicks in record breaking time and they are happily inhaling another episode of Full House?? I try and am faced with YouTube vlogs about sweet 16 parties in the US???!!!  I panicked.  I now had 2 hours 30 minutes before I needed to move from my couch.  My precious binge minutes were ebbing away…..all because I had gotten used to my kids’ independence!

best-online-collection-of-free-to-use-clipart-contact-us-privacy-emgpg0-clipart

Frustrated, annoyed and feeling like the smart technology world had it in for me personally, I clicked on the up, down, sideways and re-set buttons desperately hoping to find the Netflix icon.  Short of flinging the remote at the screen, I tried everything…..and I only managed the circle timer that is sent by the smart technology world to test human patience……Perhaps I should have listened to my ‘inner Yogi’ and spent my time sweating it out in the gym….that was until the circle timer thingy magically produced Netflix….

To be honest….I am not quite sure what I did to get Netflix and dread another session….but at least I got 2 hours of uninterrupted TV for me!  Bliss!

 

 

 

 

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Vietnam Part 1

To mark the start of the summer holidays we took off on our first family holiday of the year to Ho Chi Minh City, South Vietnam.  Rising at stoopid o’clock we wearily snuck out of the house to meet the taxi that would take us to Abu Dhabi airport.  That balmy Friday morning it seemed as if dawn was having a lie in as, by the time we reached the airport,  light had not yet won the battle against the night’s stars.

Having worked up to the last minute, our usually non existent ‘last-minute-buy-at-the-airport’ list had acquired a few items….all required before check-in.  As frequent departees from Abu Dhabi International, we were sure we could tick these items off our list with ease.  That was until we arrived at a different terminal; a less well-stocked terminal.  ‘Poof’ went the list – we couldn’t even buy a bottle of water, let alone a suitcase lock, hand sanitizer or reading material (read: glossy mags)……

Needless to say, with too much TV/Movie time to catch up on, none of us made any effort to make up for our lack of sleep……in all honesty we just about managed to tear our eyes away to eat airplane food!  Gotta love flying – trapped in a confined space, nothing to do but eat, drink and catch up on non PG movies!  All fun until the interruption of border formalities.

Now, this is DH’s and my third trip to Vietnam.  Granted, our first was almost 15 years ago….but who would have thought things have changed so much??  Ten minutes before landing, we were each issued with a yellow form (thank goodness I carry a pen in my bag…because the airline does not offer one with the form that is compulsory to fill in!).  Skim reading the form, I had to chuckle.  The form related to health.  Another chuckle. As my eyes scanned the form, I looked to the yellowing bruises on both arms – typhoid and Hep A….vaccinations recommended when travelling to Vietnam…administered 3 weeks prior and still showing. How is it that we need to complete medical info for a country where visitors are advised to vaccinate? Paraphrasing the form – ‘Have you vomited, had a temperature, felt unwell?’…..at least one of my kids has these symptoms every other day!  It doesn’t mean they have Ebola or Zika.  Not the warmest of welcomes Vietnam….but then if I had known what lay ahead….I might have laughed this one off.

Then came immigration. Before the Brexit vote, I had joked to my British husband that he would be in the other line at Dublin airport this summer, and for every other European holiday ! Post Brexit vote, one would have thought the UK passport could not pass much….alas when it came to Vietnam I was wrong.  UK – in.  Ireland, a member of the European Union since 1973 (same as the UK) –  not. Apparently the EU is not a recognised  Union, Angela Merkel…..$700 later….I and my kids have been granted 7 day visas.  Angela…how is this possible?  15 years ago, an Irish passport did not need a visa.  And now we do????  Irish Government??? But at the end of the day……how can the EU be broken down to individual countries?  It is a Union….so how is it that an Irish passport is treated differently?

 

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Jabs Fun or Not

Even though we live in a sun kissed holiday destination here in Dubai, it is always nice to depart our white, sandy shores for new destinations. Whilst our next holiday destination, Vietnam, is not new to DH or me, we thought it would be an interesting choice for a family holiday this summer.  The kiddos were excited (especially when we told them we will spend at least one day at the waterpark!)……that was until two days ago when I broke the news that they needed to have certain vaccinations before we travel.  Faced with three frowny faces, I was bombarded with moans and accusations of being mean, with DS2 declaring in a determined huff, he would be staying at home if it meant he didn’t have to have a ‘sharp needle stuck in my arm’.

Understanding vaccinations is difficult for kids; even moreso when the main reason is because we are visiting a developing country.  The thought of the jabs clearly preyed on DS2’s mind the most as he grilled me from the time I told him, right up until we arrived at the doctor’s office.  He wanted to know how many jabs?  Why were his going to be different to his siblings’?  Why did he have to have a follow up shot 6 months later and his siblings didn’t?  How big is the needle?  Will the doctor inject me in my butt?

My life was not made any easier by DS1 (who did not flinch when he was injected in the thigh!) who took immense pleasure in teasing his little brother by telling him the needle would be ginormous, and makes you feel like you are going to die…..

Refusing the opportunity to go first and rub it in his big brother’s face, my baby sat outside the nurse’s office as if awaiting corporal punishment.  DS1 waltzed out unphased after his jabs.  DD strolled out mutely.  DS2 was in tears before the nurse had even rolled up his sleeve!  He clung to me for dear life, doing all the things I advised him not to; stiffening, holding his breath and the worst…..looking at the needle as the nurse aimed for the injection site!!!

vaccine-clipart-royalty-free-doctor-clipart-illustration-1109534The nurse was already preparing for the second shot before my bub realised the first one was done and dusted.  I don’t think I have ever seen tears dry up sooo quickly! Once done, he beamed like a champ and practically skipped out the door to claim his sugary hero prize – a lollipop!

As with all medical procedures, the nurse had advised about potential side affects of the shots.  DD’s and DS1’s jabs included a booster which has the potential for stronger side effects.  However, it was DS2 who proved a concern a few hours later as I made the 5 min car trip to the supermarket.  Half way there he announced he felt sick.  I swerved onto one of Dubai’s commonplace sandy run offs.   Thankfully we travel with plastic bags in the car.  DD grabbed one and shoved it in front of her brother’s face.  Anything had to be better than vomiting outside in 45 degrees!

A former victim of motion sickness, I appreciated the value of a smooth, bump free ride.  With this in mind I crawled my way to my favoured parking spot (which is not at the supermarket), and taking care over every speedbump, I helped DS2 out of the car as if he were an invalid; ready to faint in my arms at any moment.  Jabs have never affected my kids in the past….

He was as white as a sheet.  His lips blanched and his legs buckled beneath him. I raced to get him indoors to the kinder AC temperatures.  Luckily the Dubai Kartdrome, where I park, offers indoor seating and a shop…….a few minutes of head between the knees combined with 7UP and my baby was feeling as right as rain.

‘Doing the math’ as our friends across the Irish pond would say, I reckon the jabs had nothing to do with the near fainting episode…..I believe the fact that DS1, on the jaunt to the supermarket, at the behest of DS2, tore off his brother’s plaster/band aid quickly and this sent him into a downward spin of shock……

DS2’s new motto – ‘Survived the jabs – failed the tabs’

The irony!

 

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Keeping up with Kids

Keeping up with kids these days is practically a full time job.  Juggling their hectic schedules requires military like planning to ensure each one is where he/she is supposed to be at any given time.  It is a house of cards, and can all come crashing down if there is even the remotest of chances of a playdate clashing with swim squad training, or even all of them having PE on the same day.  It can be exhausting. By the end of the week I am frazzled, more because I have a constant nagging feeling, second guessing if I have covered all bases – “Did I send in a PE kit with the right child?” “Did DS1 say he needed lunch today or is he eating in the refectory?” “Is today Roman or Greek dress up day?”

As the munchkins get older, managing, overseeing and monitoring their schedules doesn’t stop with school and after school activities.  As 21st century kids, technology is as commonplace in their lives as a Sony Walkman was in mine.  Not being particularly interested in the latest gadgets or apps, I try to stick with the minimum whilst trying to have a vague understanding of what types of social media the kids might be using.  Alas for my bambinos, on the other hand, I don’t think a day goes by without someone mentioning ‘Apple watch’, ‘Macbook Air’, ‘Ipad Mini’ – all usually preceded by ‘I want..’, ‘Can I have??’, ‘I am going to save up for…’  To me, it would seem these devices each perform similar functions (especially when it comes to what 8 – 10 year olds want to use them for…..I doubt perfecting their Excel spreadsheet skills is high on their list of reasons for wanting to own the trendy gadegets!).   It won’t come as a surprise then that as someone who isn’t too bothered about keeping up with the IT Jones’s, I am a reluctant to venture into the world of social media.  I set up my Facebook account because that was the medium of communication used by class reps one year.  My Facebook activity levels are confined to ‘likes’ and the odd ‘share’.   I set up a Twitter account because somehow my kids’ former school thought that was an appropriate means of sharing information on what the kids got up to during the day.  My tweeting activity levels remain at ‘zilch’ to this day.  Needless to say, I have forgotten the sign in details.

Given I permitted my 3 to have Instagram, I now feel compelled to monitor (read ‘stalk’) their activity.  As I regularly forget to check each of their devices, I decided the best way forward was to set up my own account and ‘follow’ them.  I had hoped to do this secretly….but it seems not even my basic level of Facebook expertise could help me navigate this App.  Cue a quick tutorial from DD who was more than happy to be the lecturing side of the fence for once!  Funny-Iphone-02

Recently there have been pleas for Facebook and email accounts.  3 Instagram accounts, 3 Facebook accounts and 3 email accounts…..and goodness knows what other accounts they will want to have in the future…Right now, my choices are looking like: hire a driver and helper to ferry them to and from school/activities; or hire a social media manager!

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