Updates and Summer Plans

Well, by now most of you know that we didn’t win the contest.

Oh, you all went out of your way, and conscripted friends, and asked them repeatedly to vote for us. Many of your friends, and friends of friends got so excited about the whole contest. That was SO heart warming! Everyone was pulling for us…and without paying a soul to vote, we ended with the most votes…hands down! But that was only part of the equation and IL saw fit to give the prize to someone else with a lot less votes. It puts IL in bad light, if you ask me but the people they chose are a lovely couple, already retired, and we wish them nothing but the best.

What a blessed life we live when we can still go on the trip we were planning anyhow. Yes, we were a bit upset and disappointed but we didn’t stay in that place for long. We counted our blessings and quickly started planning (we’d been holding off on our plans because we thought it looked like we were going to win…silly us).

So, we’re happy to not waste the interest and enthusiasm that you all showed. SO many of you said things like “if you win or if you move there, we want to come and visit!” Which sounds like a lot of fun to me!

Also, many of you have asked that we report what we find as we go searching for potential investments and/or possible retirement spots. That is exactly what we’re going to do.

I’ve been reading and researching for way too long about this…so what I need you to do is ask questions if I’m leaving gaps in the info I’m sending. And, if you’re not interested in this venture, please, promise me that you’ll just delete for a couple of months but don’t tune me out forever.

My hope is to do shorter more frequent posts. I certainly don’t want to spend ALL my time blogging but it might be my only hope of remembering what I saw and how I felt or experienced certain places that we visit.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. First we have to finish the school year and prepare for changes here in Doha. More on that in the next instalment.

Stay tuned….



Filed under Uncategorized

International Living – So Much Excitement

Well it’s been an exciting weekend (yours is just beginning but ours is just ending).

We are in the top 20 in a contest to win a one month trip to Panama to “test drive retirement.”

Here’s the fabulous part, we were already talking about possibly going to Panama this summer. It has been on our list of retirement options for quite some time and while we’ve lived in Mexico and Honduras and visited (Dave) Nicaragua and Costa Rica, we’ve never actually been to Panama. So, as retirement starts to get a little closer, we were thinking it might be time to actually see Panama for ourselves. The countries we’ve visited are also on our list, as is Ecuador and maybe (trailing the others) Spain.

Basically I’ve been following real estate trends in these countries for years watching for affordable options. Of course it can’t just be affordable. There are other factors to take into account. All of the factors though are drawing us to have a look at Panama.

WHEN WHAT TO OUR WONDERING (WANDERING?) EYES SHOULD APPEAR? A contest in International Living Magazine. Honestly – I couldn’t believe my eyes. Yes, it felt like Christmas!

So here’s the lowdown. We had to make a 3 minute video saying why we’d like them to choose us. We did that and submitted it at the beginning of April. Then they chose the top 20 videos.

WE’RE IN THE TOP TWENTY!!! (We celebrated…what an honour).

Here’s where you come in….now the videos are posted on the IL website and people are voting on which one they like.


Well, watch the video first, and if you like it….then vote for us.

Here it is…thanks in advance for your support. Feel free to share it with your friends and if they like it maybe they’ll vote too…?!!

Click below.


Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Dubai, The Final Chapter – Shout Out To Honour

So all and all Dubai was a lot of fun. We took Honour to the market we liked best, to see the gorgeous fountain…show? I’m not even sure what to call it. It’s like fountains but set to music. Think fireworks, but with water (I’ve posted a video below). We did a boat tour on the same day we skied and saw the city from the water. Fun day. And of course we did malls. You can’t really go to Dubai and ignore the malls. The floor to ceiling aquariums, the actual dinosaur skeleton, all the fancy stores…they’re all there, from Tiffany’s to Cartier and SO many names that I’m sure I’d be impressed with if I even knew who they were. It’s not my thing. I’m more easily amused…like these, the Arab take on the ubiquitous “Keep Calm” theme:

IMG-20140405-02225 IMG-20140405-02226 IMG-20140405-02227 IMG-20140405-02228

The most fun part was travelling with Honour though.


For one thing, she loves everything and is game to go anywhere and try anything.

She really loved the aquarium

She really loved the aquarium


And who doesn’t go to the mall to see an actual dinosaur skeleton?




She’s also not shy. Not at all. So when we didn’t want to spend the money to go up the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world, because we’d been before…it was no problem, she didn’t bat an eye and off she went alone.

IMG_0070 IMG_0071 IMG_0073 IMG_0074

She also made so many people smile. Especially the cab drivers. They loved her. Every time we got into a car she’d turn her music on and start to sing. And she doesn’t just sing…she sings like she’s onstage. And she doesn’t care who’s watching. One of the cab driver’s laughed the whole way from point A to B and then talked to Dave about how he wishes more people were like her. So Dave said he should take a picture of her (I’m not sure this is stellar Dad behavior but he did seem like a nice guy and, did I mention? She’s not shy).

She’s particularly taken by the movie Frozen right now. So adding to this fun is the fact that it’s Disney music she’s mostly singing these days. We all know the words now I think.

I do have a video of her …performance…on the metro. She says I can’t post it here but that I can send it to people if they really want to see it. She’s a crazy girl and she made our trip a lot of fun.

One cab driver that was not amused but finally cracked a smile when she was leaving the cab and said “Shukran Habibi” (Thank you Love).

If you ever need a good travel companion…she’s your girl!

Here’s the water show and a few extra pictures of the silliness that went on.

For those of you out there with a bent for marketing, how brilliant is Sephora (the cosmetic company)? Watch for their product placement in the video.

She tolerated her Mom wanting Mexican food for every meal.

She tolerated her Mom wanting Mexican food for every meal. It’s not her thing.

But having chips and cheese for lunch (pretty much all she likes) isn't too much of a hardship.

But having chips and cheese for lunch (pretty much all she likes in Mexican food) isn’t too much of a hardship.


So much silliness all the time.

So much silliness all the time. Hard to believe she’s about to go out into the world on her own!

Crazy building.

Crazy building. I think I would have wild dreams if I lived in there. Dr. Seuss anyone?

TOO MUCH FUN!! Thanks Honour!

IMG_0077 IMG_0096

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Dubai Part 3 – Skiing in the Desert

Dave and I have been to Dubai 3 times now. In a water/Saudi locked country it’s the cheapest place for a little getaway. Once you get there it’s not necessarily cheap of course, so if inexpensive is the goal, you need to be careful.

Both of the other times we went, we discussed skiing. Dave almost did one time but our schedule ruled it out. I have skied in the Canadian Rockies. As kids we skied many times every winter. We owned our own gear, we had a trailer near a ski hill in northern Ontario and it was the go-to place for weekend trips all winter long. Ski in Dubai? Cheesy. That was my thought. Some indoor baby hill of man made snow. Nah…I don’t need it.

On this trip it was Honour’s one request. She has never skied before and she wants part of her story to go like this…”I’m Canadian but I skied for the very first time in the desert, in a mall.” Ok, that is a fun story. I conceded and said I go with her.

When Dave heard her request he immediately said “Sure! I’ll take you!” Upon hearing this I altered my plans and decided that it would be a great time to go to a coffee shop and read a book, or get some shopping time in…..*insert the sound of car tires coming to a screeching halt*….when did I become the mother person who sits out of sporting events? In my imagination I would have never become that person. But somewhere along the line I did. So I said…”I’m coming too.”

As we were being fitted for skis I was asked if I could ski. I said yes. Are you good? I said, well, I’m Canadian (let’s start there) and I was good, but I haven’t skied for maybe…pause…hesitate…I threw out “10 years.”

It wasn’t until I was sitting in the chair being lifted to the top that I actually started counting the years. It had been more like 35 years since I’d been on skis. Oh boy. The nerves set it. I began mentally rehearsing. Before I felt my out-of-shape weakened muscles, while I was still sitting in the chair, I reminded myself of what it felt like. I could feel the snow beneath my skis, my knees bending and my upper leg muscles pushing the edges of the skis into the snow creating perfect control. I remembered things my Dad would tell us, ‘lack of confidence and tiredness cause the most accidents, don’t try things too hard at the end of the day when you’re getting tired.’

Rehearsing was over…we were at the top.

I’m happy to report that as I slipped over the top of the hill and headed down the slope it was like riding a bike. My body did indeed remember how to do it. As I mentally coached myself (“don’t be afraid, be confident, you know how to do this”) I felt my new self connect with my old self in a wonderful and miraculous way. And as I relaxed, now knowing that my body knew what to do I was able to remember a few other things…

…like wind in my hair, cool, crisp fresh air and the thrill of speed.

There are three different heights you can go to at Ski Dubai. It’s bigger than I expected (no, it’s not the Canadian Rockies) and actually, better than I expected. We did several runs on the medium sized hill to get warmed up and then wasted no time getting to the top. Despite my reconnection to my younger self I knew that my old body would likely tire quickly.

In the end I skied two days in a row and found that there were other things I had forgotten. The pain in my calves caused by brutal ski boots. Really? In 35 years they haven’t come up with something more comfortable than those &*(#@ ski boots?? Also, freezing cold fingers and toes. I forgot about that too.

Honestly, I felt like a teenager skiing. I forgot how fun it was. I forgot that I could do these things as well. I forgot (in my old, unfit body) that I was once athletic.

And oh the joy it gave me to hear Honour say “Dad! Did you see Mom? She’s really good! She looks so YOUNG when she’s skiing!”

That’s cuz I felt young sweetheart. Thanks so much for pushing us to ski.

Trust me when I tell you, this video is for the enjoyment of my parents…it won’t be exciting for you, but for ME…well…


(I wonder if you ever stop wanting your Mom to stop watching you do stuff?)



Filed under Uncategorized

Dubai Part 2 – It Got Better (Strong Women Rock!)

Despite our turbulent beginning, the rest of our Dubai trip was wonderful.

After our nasty all-nighter flight, we had a 20 minute nap, showered and were off to our first outing. One of the biggest reasons I wanted to go to Dubai at this particular time was because of a rugby match I wanted us to watch. Here’s why….meet my friend Aine (pronounced Ahnia…for those who aren’t Irish).



Aine is one of the most beautiful souls I’ve ever met. The picture you see above is exactly her. Light radiates from deep within her and illuminates everyone and everything around her. She is a sweet, gentle (not to be mistaken for not-strict), kindergarten teacher at our school. No matter how stressed she might be, she always asks about you and how you’re doing. She is a deeply spiritual yogi. She is kind and thoughtful and I frequently have little notes or gifts left on my desk at work from her that brighten my day.

But Aine, light radiating, gentle, kind, Aine has another side. This delights me to no end for some reason (read to the end because in writing this I figured out why). Aine is a fierce rugby player. When I first heard this I thought, oh cool, she’s a great athlete; I’d like to watch her play. But, you see, I’d never seen a rugby match before.


This girl, who wouldn’t hurt a fly, will take you down if you are her opponent in rugby. If you’re on the other team and you have the ball…take heed! Her whole demeanor changes, for brief, focused periods of time. I suspect that after she’s tackled you to the ground, she helps you up and apologizes profusely. That’s just a guess.

As interesting as this all is, and as much as I enjoyed the first game I watched and my introduction to rugby, why did I want to go to Dubai to watch her play? Because much of what I see in her I see blossoming in my youngest daughter, Honour. I kept trying to get her to come and watch one of Aine’s games but so far, she hadn’t been able to pry herself away from her friends. In Dubai there were no distractions.

A little side note – I’ve recently become aware of an intense joy I have when I see my girls doing certain things. I’ve decided this is important. I wish I would have taken note of this earlier but it’s never too late. I’ve decided that these are directions that I could encourage them in. We are still connected after all and I think my joy comes from seeing their joy. Sometimes they accomplish things and I’m so very proud of them, but this is different. This seems to be to be like when they sink into something or somewhere that they’re meant to be, doing things they are meant to do, feeling fulfillment that they are entitled to and meant for. It’s the sweet spot. This is how I feel when I watch Honour play sports. She’s a wonderful actress…I love to watch that too…and a lovely singer…but when she plays sports it makes me so very happy. (To my other girls, I’d be happy to tell you what you do that makes me feel that same joy. I’m not sure you want me to tell the world, but I can certainly do that too.)

So we carried our travel weary bodies to the rugby pitch (Canadians…do you like my new lingo? Rugby match, rugby pitch? Are you with me?).

Just as I hoped, Honour was completely wrapped in the intensity and startling brutality of the game and in the emergence of the athletic, competitive personality of Aine-on-the-field.

As we left I was told I was never to go to a game of Aine’s without Honour again. Aine also told Honour she should play rugby. She told her there was a ‘touch’ game (less intense) that she might like to try. Honour said, with a giggle, “I’m kind of into the tackle thing.”

Here’s what I love about this, here’s why I think this is so flippin’ fantastic for girls like Aine and Honour; sometimes the sweet girls get walked on in life. Sometimes those who are bent toward the wellbeing of others, forget to take care of themselves. They forget to take life by storm…their life. Sometimes conquering things feels too aggressive. Sometimes winning, for yourself, is shadowed by who didn’t win. Sometimes it can take a whole lifetime to realize that in your love and kindness toward others you’ve let yourself be passed by and in fact, you don’t even know what you want to fight for much less how to fight for it. Sweet girls, who are bent toward the wellbeing of others need somewhere to safely exercise this muscle, to let the warrior come out, to feel the victory and to know it’s good.

I’m so grateful for examples of love and light and goodness, and focus and power and strength that women like Aine can bring to my growing young goddess-of-goodness.

To all the sweet, gentle women out there, don’t forget to go after what you want, unapologetically, with power and focus and strength.

For this reason alone, Dubai was a success.

Enjoy some pictures of Aine-on-the-field (number 12).

Even a couple of videos at the bottom.


Look out!

Look out!




It was a long night remember...someone needed a nap, and has the ability to nap anywhere.

It was a long night remember…someone needed a nap, and has the ability to nap anywhere.




My favourite...primal!

My favourite…primal!

A couple of short clips…Aine-on-the-field in action.




Filed under Uncategorized

Dubai for Spring Break – Part 1 (aka the fiasco)

You may not know this about me, but I love to fly. When I was a kid, and on until I was a young mother, my Dad and brother’s owned small planes. Our friends were pilots. We flew to the local,restaurant to meet them for breakfast on many a Saturday morning. You might say this was part of the playground equipment in my backyard. There was a runway that ran the length of our 50 acre farm. Yet with all my experience and exposure to flying it has never become dull to me and I never take it for granted. I marvel every single time. While some sleep or read through the take off I do not. I stop what I’m doing. Look out the window. Feel the deep powerful rumble of the engines and feel all the exhilaration and wonder that is due this incredible feat of engineering and technology.

On my daughter’s first flight I was able to tell her what was happening and assure her that the noises she was hearing were all perfectly normal. She’s an excellent flier to this day. She is seldom afraid. Explanations and expectations can go a long way to calm the nerves. I remember my Dad telling me, as we flew, about the air currents. “As we head out over the lake there will be a change of air current. We’ll hit a few bumps.” “We are coming to the edge of a wooded area, that will change the air patterns and we’ll hit a little turbulence.” Have you ever noticed how completely calm pilots are? I know many of them and I can tell you, I think it’s universal. They are exactly who you want around when things get rough. Panicking doesn’t help anything…ever. It’s a good life lesson really.

Having that background, let me tell you about our trip to Dubai last Thursday night. It’s one for the books. Cue the singing of “three hour tour, three hour tour.” (If you’re too young for that reference don’t worry about it).

First of all we were at our gate, waiting for it to open. We were all reading or listening to music. Honour said “Don’t you think it’s strange that we’re the only ones sitting here and boarding was supposed to start 5 minutes ago?” Good point. I went and checked the board. It still said our gate was the right gate for boarding so Dave went and asked someone. “Oh no, we’ve moved you to gate 11.” Might have been an idea to change it on the board…or to check the original area to see if anyone was still there! What we were about to learn (the hard way!) was that Qatar Airways has a “silent airport policy.” Meaning that nothing is announced over a P.A. aside from the automated “Please do not leave your luggage unattended” message.

So we made our way to our gate and boarded the plane around 9:00 p.m. Dubai is about a 50 minute flight. Once we were all strapped in a ready to go, the quintessentially calm pilot welcomed us and told us that due to a big thunder/lightning storm front over Dubai, the Dubai airport was closed and not allowing anyone to land. We had a spectacular storm the night before in Doha so I’m sure this was also big.

We sat on the plane for about 2 hours before Mr. Pilot came back on and said that the storm front had moved on and Dubai was now open for business. Weather. Who are we to predict what it will do? That was my thought. Anyhow, we were finally on our way.

As we approached the Dubai airport we were told that the storm had moved back in and the airport was once again closed. Perfect. We were going to circle the airport and wait a bit. We circled for 2 hours. You can imagine that this was not the smoothest of flying either. There were 18 planes circling. I kept consoling myself, there are flight patterns, radar, we weren’t going to hit another plane, we were too high up to crash, and I’m sure the calm, cool and collected pilot was watching the fuel gage.  We slept, we read, we waited.

At about 2 a.m. we were told that a decision had to be made and we were turning back to Doha. Obviously we couldn’t circle forever. People were really angry. I’m not sure if they thought the Dubai airport could control the weather or the pilot could control the weather? We’re really not used to being in situations we can’t control. Didn’t matter how much people screamed and shouted though…the storm was unaffected.

This was the flight tracker on the plane. For your amusement. My sister tells me this will be funny to me someday.


We landed safely back in Doha in the middle of the night. I was thankful we were safe. The Yellers began their rampage to the ground staff…because, the ground staff had so much to do with it. One man kept yelling at them “this is a disgrace!” Ok. I felt for the staff. Well, I felt for the staff for about an hour as they tried to sort things out and tried to reason with people. It quickly became apparent though that they didn’t have a plan. This was not welcomed news at 3 a.m.

We bought some food. Then found out they were giving out vouchers for food. We went to the transit desk, they said go to gate (?) and they would take care of us from there. We were told to watch the monitor for our original flight number and it would say where it was boarding when the time came. We sat there for a very long time before asking another QA worker who said “NO! You should be down at the transit desk!”  Down to the transit desk. Go to gate 17, that’s where we’ll issue you a new boarding pass and board you all at the same time. Gate 17 was mobbed. After standing there for an hour (I think it was now about 5 a.m.) a QA worker came to tell us that we needed to form a proper queue. No one moved. Please, form a proper queue. No.  Who did she think was going to move away from the desk and risk not getting on. She said (this is my favourite) “You have been standing here for an hour and have not moved yet, if you form a queue the line will move.” I was done. “The line has not moved because we’re not in a proper line? Not because the gate isn’t open yet?” No one moved. Seriously…now they were going to get snippy with US??

It was another hour before we boarded. Once boarded we were told that 30 people didn’t get on and ground crew was going to have to remove their luggage and shift the remaining luggage around. I can only imagine that the 30 people were somewhere sleeping because all of the instructions were yelled into a crowd of people (so only 1/2 the people could hear) and if you’d been told you should be somewhere else (by QA staff who didn’t know what was going on) then you might be…who knows where!

Once in our seats we fell fast asleep. Since the beginning of our day the day before we had now been awake for about 26 hours. When I woke up…we were still on the ground. I had been sleeping for almost 2 hours while they shuffled the luggage. Nightmare-ish. Would this ever end.

The weather for the flight was still not great.

I went to the bathroom. I could feel that there was quite a bit of turbulence. All of a sudden the flight attendant used the emergency bathroom unlocker and opened the door. Yup…I was sitting there looking at her. I realized she was in a panic but I thought an apology was in order.

When I came out of the bathroom the flight attendants were strapping themselves in, my knees buckled as the plane dipped and the nearest flight attendant said “Do not go back to your seat, strap in right there.” She pointed to a flight attendant’s seat. Really, my seat was 6 feet away, but ok. How often do you get to do that? By the time I’d figured out how the seat and the buckle worked the turbulence was over and I was back to me seat.

So…here’s what we lost:

A night’s sleep, which seriously affected the rest of our short 4 day holiday.

The price of our hotel room that we didn’t sleep in the first night.

Our love for Qatar Airways. Really…we used to rave about them. I wouldn’t be one to lose faith from one bad experience but I have to say, the previous 2 times I’ve flown with them they were “off”.  Also, this incident isn’t just about bad communication and a stormy night that was hard to deal with. It’s about a policy (the silent airport policy) that should really be reviewed. There should be times for exceptions.

Two days ago my husband wrote a very constructive letter to Qatar Airway’s customer service. So far we haven’t had any reply.

I promise, if they somehow make good of all of this, I will definitely let you know and will exonerate their name.

In fact, I would like nothing better.




Filed under Uncategorized

A Date With Doha – We Needed That!

Last weekend was the Qatar International Food Festival. This was our third year attending and it just keeps getting better! The first year was basically in a big parking lot. The Qataris know how to make any place comfortable. Maybe because of the 1% chance of rain spoiling an event, they’re not afraid to set up couches and chairs and beautiful carpets anywhere! Parks, deserts or parking lots. This seems to be the only picture I have from that year. It doesn’t even depict the lovely couches. At the time, this was the extent of my daughter’s culinary curiosity. She’s grown since then – thank goodness. Honour at QIFF 2012 The following year and this year they moved it to the beautiful MIA (Museum of Islamic Art) Park. It’s a perfect waterfront setting with grass and palm trees and one of the best views of the city skyline in Doha. On any day the MIA Park is a beautiful place to visit. Pimp it out with food from around the world, music and entertainment and it’s a big hit. I think the parking situation was handled a bit better this year. Apparently there were shuttles…although we never found one. We parked in our secret parking garage about a block away. Based on the traffic there’s still likely some improvements to be made there. WE NEEDED THIS DATE DOHA! What I liked best about the QIFF, and any other festival Qatar has to offer, is that it’s a chance for all of us to enjoy time and space together. If you don’t live in Qatar, let me explain. The numbers fluctuate a lot, but at any given time Qatar’s population consists of 85-90% expats. The Qatari population (10-15%) has to deal with their country being invaded and greatly changed by the masses. Now, you might say…”they invited us here! Without us they wouldn’t have the wealth they do.” And you’d be right. Technically. Did each and every one of them invite the world to their doorstep? Did they know what it was going to mean, day-to-day, when we all arrived? Does this mean they don’t have frustrations with a rapidly changing culture? And then there’s the rest of the population. We are a mix of people from all over the world. This might be the most culturally diverse place on earth (I have no idea if this is true so don’t quote me on that). What I do know is that most days we are bumping up against each other, trying to identify the proper way to queue up in line, an appropriate way to treat each other and how to deal with so many different driving…”styles” on the roads. If you have to deal with much traffic (and if you live in Doha you do) it’s a constant exercise in self-restraint, breathing and staying alert to save your life. Some drive too fast, some drive too slow, lots are texting (LOTS!), everyone is pushing in to get ahead. Yesterday we saw a motorcycle driving down the road and the driver was standing on the seat…yup, mid-afternoon traffic. So, when there’s an opportunity to get together when we’re all just being humans who enjoy food and music, families having fun, cultures celebrating the food from their home countries….well, that’s a good day. We really needed that Doha. I needed to laugh and celebrate with you. (If you live in Doha, there seem to be a lot of things going on these days. Make sure you’re on Facebook and you have ‘liked’ the pages that keep you in the know. Qatar Happenings, Doha News, What’s Goin On Qatar and Katara Cultural Village, to name a few.)

The city was all decked out for the occasion.

The city was all decked out for the occasion.


The Museum of Islamic Art is a gorgeous back drop for...just about anything!

The Museum of Islamic Art is a gorgeous back drop for…just about anything!


City behind the food tents

City behind the food tents


Islamic Cultural Center in the distance.

Islamic Cultural Center in the distance.


The MIA again and the Dinner in the Sky. I will do that one day...I will.

The MIA again and the Dinner in the Sky. I will do that one day…I will.


Dads and babes hanging out, having fun.

Dads and babes hanging out, having fun.


Music! What is food without music!

Music! What is food without music!

IMG_8810 IMG_8796 IMG_8842 IMG_8881   IMG_8848

Celebrating culture with dance!

Celebrating culture with dance!





Pizza Pie Theatre. Comical and fascinating.

Pizza Pie Theatre. Comical and fascinating.


Random Fair Attendees

Random Fair Attendees


Filed under Uncategorized