prague, part 1

Its a good problem to have when a a trip was so amazing that the task of sorting trough and editing 600+ photos is a little overwhelming. There is no way all the Prague pictures can be condensed into one post, So I’ll start with our hotel. I don’t think I have ever done an entire post about a hotel before, but it was just that amazing.

Drew found us an amazing deal on a hotel right in old town on the corner of an amazing square. Our room faced the square and check out the view right from the window by the bed.


seriously so amazing.

The first day we just walked (and walked and walked) around town. We stopped in little cafe’s, we sat down and listened to a music festival, we ate amazing food, we took a gazillion pictures, we window shopped…





It was wonderful. and magical. and I want to go back.

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a day in istanbul

We have Turkish Airlines to thank for my little birthday trip this summer. Drew found some amazing Ramadan deals from Dubai to Prague with a layover in Istanbul. We opted for a 24 hour layover and didn’t waist a minute in seeing as much of the city as we could in a day! It was a beautiful city and the stop over surely did one thing: made me want to go back for a longer visit!

Here is some of what we crammed into the 24 hours:

Little cafes with delicious food were a top priority. (Please tell me you also plan vacations around meal times and trying new foods…)

The Blue Mosque:

The Hagia Sophia:

Thousands of people breaking the Ramadan fast at the Hippodrome in front of the Blue Mosque was quite the sight. And so tasty.

The Grand Bazaar:

And lots of walking the streets, taking in the sights and sounds and smells:


Beautiful, right? I loved every minute (and actually turned 30 there!) and was so thankful for the extra bonus of getting to spend a day in this city! Now don’t you want to go back with me?

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summer happenings

I refuse to give up on this blog, even though I am possibly the worst blogger ever. Seriously. Lots has happened since my last update…and my last update wasn’t even up to date. Geeze.

Here we go:

::4th of July was a blast. We had a ridiculous amount of people come to our house (we invited every American we know- to give you an idea…) to celebrate. It was so much fun! At the time we had some girls living with us while they studied at a summer Arabic program and they were a huge help in getting all the decor together. Britt and Traci helped a ton too, of course. (Have I mentioned that Traci moved here? She did, and it’s SO fun having her around!)

::One of the bonuses of living so close to Dubai is that we get to see people as they pass through en route to their final destinations! This summer we got to see my cousin and some friends from Texas and this fall two more sets of friends will be stopping through that we get to see.

p.s. I love Sayla in this picture…

:: The date harvest happened. Dates are a pretty big deal in this area of the world, and the date harvest is fun to see. We went back to the oasis that we went to while granny was here and walked around to see how it’s done.  Fresh dates are sold here as a delicacy and are super expensive, but most of the dates are dried on roofs (like raisins). Personally, I prefer the dried dates. The fresh dates are kind of like a green banana, they feel a bit fuzzy on your teeth and aren’t very flavorful.

 

:: This summer has been a slower time than usual (it’s stinkin’ hot!) so we have taken the opportunity to do a little “photo bootcamp”.  I set up a blog and have been collecting useful photo articles for us all to read. It has been wonderful and I feel like I have learned a lot as well!

So there you have it! Most of the summer in a nutshell.  I also got to take a most wonderful trip for my 30th birthday, but that deserves its own post. We have really had a fabulously mundane summer, but are ready for the schedule, busyness and cooler weather that will come with fall!

 

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silly girls

A pair of my sunglasses broke (which is why I never spend more than $5 on sunglasses…) and the girls got quite a kick out of playing with the frames. I asked Sayla for some pictures in the glasses but she is not interested in being my model right now. Keadryn, on the other hand is a total ham and was happy to do a photo shoot. Eventually, Sayla wanted to join the fun…and these just make me laugh.

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keadryn’s eyes

My absolute favorite physical feature on Keadryn is, for sure, her eyes. The way they glimmer in the sunshine. The color, ranging from dark brown to vibrant green. The perfect almond shape. The way they truly capture each of her moods. They are so intricate. I have been photographing Kead’s eyes her whole life- I probably have 400 pictures of just her eyes trying to capture what I love about them. I love this picture of them, but now I can’t decide which of the processing techniques I like. Which one do you like and why?

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as far as the kids are concerned…

So, kirst has been to visit me in the Middle East four times now. Once she came on a whim for her spring break (back when her and Adam were young marrieds with two incomes and no kids), one time was with (most) of our family for Christmas, once was to help and meet baby Keadryn right after she was born, and now this time. In case you were wondering it is a BIG jump from one tiny baby to 5 kids ages 5 and under. Really big. I am so thankful that both her and Adam had already seen a lot of the tourist sites so that when the kids were hot and whiny and done being in the car we could say “ok- lets head home!” instead of feeling like we had to sqeeze in every last thing.

I think the kids all enjoyed themselves. Here are some things to do with 5 kids that will be appreciated everytime:

1. Go to the beach:



It was seriously hot while the Gentry’s were here so we had to wait for sunset to brave the sand, but the kids loved every minute!


2. Maybe not the most cultural experience, but this little kids play area in the mall was quite the hit!



3. They also loved being in malls for three days straight. Ok, not really…but Dubai is really only one giant mall (especially in the summer). Luckily for us, there are all sorts of fun things for kids to do in the malls:

Like watching ice skating:

And cool fountains:

and Aquariums (Burke was keeping the girls safe from the sharks):

Really though, the days we sat at home and did nothing were the most special for the kids. They were so relaxed and just enjoyed each other. I miss piper toddling into the living room with the baby stroller, and hearing the big kids giggling and playing together.

Yes, it was diffferent, so so different, but it was also a lot of fun!

Oh and one last tip- If the kids aren’t in the mood- don’t ask for a cousin picture:

wait until they are all happy and then snap a picture:

Much better results (although I am sure we will all giggle at the first one in years to come)!

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a boat ride on the creek


In Dubai, there is a “creek”. I don’t know why it is called a creek because when I think of creek I think of a little stream in the middle of the country. This is not a stream and it is certainly not in the country.  :)

It is a saltwater inlet that runs right through Dubai and its history is actually quite interesting. We love heading down to the creek to watch the boats with the kids. There are a lot of party boats and floating restaurant boats that trull the creek at night. Plus  there are crazy multi million dollar yatchs to remind you that you are in Dubai, which is fun. Usually you can find a party boat that didn’t get booked for the night and in an interest to make a couple extra bucks, they will take you on a little cruise up and down the creek. When we have a big enough group to split the cost, it is always a fun treat.

I know I mentioned that Kirst’s family was in town, but did I mention that we had some Lubbock friends here too? Four friends from the LBK decided to visit us on their summer break. Good friends plus lots of extra hands to help with the kids? Yes, please.

It was a really fun way to spend an evening and if you are ever in Dubai I think it is a fun way to see some of the sights. (It’s not really that expensive…under 50 bucks- but much much cheaper if you are splitting it 13 ways.) Oh, and just to warn you (you know, in case you’re planning a trip to Dubai…) it is crazy humid and hot…unless you go in the winter months. That would be glorious!

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Mr. Hashel

Drew met Hashel last time we lived here. I love this guy and his family. He is super hospitable and always asks us to bring people to his house and farm in a village 20 minutes outside our town. It is a wonderful cultural experience for visitors. You know how there are some people that just seem All-American? Well, that’s Hashel…expect he is All-Omani. :) He works at the Ministry of Culture. He lives in a village with his family…all 47 of them. (This includes his parents, his brothers, their wives and all 19 grandkids). He does the call to prayer at his neighborhood mosque. He has a date farm. He has bees and sells their honey. He has lots of animals on his farm and, of course, he raises camels. Last week we took 17 of our closest friends out to see Hashel. It was an adventure.


We told him before hand to just meet us at the farm so that he didn’t feel obligated to serve us food, coffee, tea, dates, fruit etc. (There were 19 of us, after all) He said ok, but then as we were on our way out there he called and said to just come to his house.
After eating some amazing food and getting a true cultural experience (The only difference being that this is the only house I have ever been hosted in the same room as Drew. The women of the house never join us as we are in mixed company) We headed out to see the farm. By the time we got out there the light was quickly fading, so I only got pictures of the camels. but oh what fun camels they were.

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april and may

I just looked at my calendar and realized it is the end of May. The end of May! How did that happen? Here is the past month…er, two months, in review.

The girls had their ballet recital. It was adorable.

I got to take pics at kead’s school for the yearbook. It was so.much.fun. I spent a morning getting to flutter around the school popping in and out of classrooms, taking pictures of teachers and kids in their element. Kead thought it was pretty fun too!

The girls are settling in to visiting local with us. I’m still not sure if Sayla realizes that everyone else is speaking a different language. She just cracks me up. Keadryn is way more reserved, but after sitting with me while Sayla searches out the house for kids and toys, she slowly creeps away and joins the other kids. Evie, oh Evie. We affectionately call her “The Master of Disaster” and she just tears around the house like a tornado. :) The locals love her though and she has gotten a lot better at letting them hold her.

Speaking of the Sayla in her own world, I just love this picture of her.

And speaking of photos, I currently have 400 photos on my computer of a wedding I got to photograph. I was attending the wedding with Britt and she knew the brides cousin’s wife. As the Bride was coming down the stairs they realized the photographer wasn’t there, so they asked me to take the pictures! But then they asked me not to share them with anyone. I DIE! These ones of the flowers without faces are ok, but seriously- so hard not to share.

And speaking of birthdays…wait, I wasn’t speaking of that…but anyway- Drew had a quiet 32nd birthday with a family brunch and dinner with friends

and Kead turned 5 this year. FIVE!

We are having her party while the cousins are here, but her real birthday was an exciting day because of the 4 foot doll house. It has been quite the hit.

Well, thats all the big stuff….oh, And this:

Kead actually requested to watch Newsies. And it made my heart so happy.

Next up: A VISIT FROM KIRST AND FAMILY! So excited for this one.

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at the fort

We have tried to go to this for at least 15 times and it it always closed…even when we ask for the hours they say “we are open everyday” but have never actually seen inside so we were thrilled when we drove by one morning and saw the front door open! It made my little photo-taking heart so happy.

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