Sunday, November 23, 2008

Where is everybody????

I got an odd phone call the other week from my mother.
“Hi James, how are you? Are you up to anything this weekend?”
This was not general chit chat, but a leading question which kind of threw me. So I said nothing planned and double checked with Becky before asking “Why???”
“Oh, we thought we might pop over to see you all for a few days……”

This would not normally be a strange statement for parents to make, but when they live nearly six thousand kilometers away it makes you stop and think.
So this conversation was on the Sunday night and the following Tuesday night I met them in the arrivals hall of Seeb international airport, all I might add thanks to airmiles points!
Wow, what a lovely and unexpected surprise, we hadn’t seen them since last Christmas and our boys have been growing up fast.
No big trips were on the cards, as they were here to wind down from the stresses of life in the UK and problems with a house conversion, but at least they were able to spend quality time with Jacob and Oscar.

One trip out was for adults only….dinner at the Edge. This is a beautifully placed ‘restaurant’ at the Crown Plaza Hotel in Qurum, not really a restaurant but rather a small collection of tables and chairs perched on the edge of the cliff. The menu is limited, maybe simple, delicious none the less and the ambience and views are second to none. Sitting there at night you are treated to the uninterrupted view of the coast and city all the way from Qurum to Seeb, spectacular!!

We all went out to the park one morning so that Jacob could show “NuNu” and “Grumps” how well he was getting on with learning to ride his bicycle. He was so excited prior to getting on the bike that it came as a shock when he had a complete meltdown, with floods of tears, declaring he couldn’t do it!!!! Both Becky and myself pushed him hard, out of frustration, and he did actually achieve what he originally set out to do, with the promise of an ice-cream at the end of it.
The following day all was made clear, when we found out that he had an ear infection, oops! Queue two guilty parents!!!
So with Jacob on a weeks course of anti-biotics, Oscar with a temperature and a cold and, me recovering from a sinus infection, my parents had walked into an epidemic!

This is the time of year for being ill, it must have something to do with the temperature change, but as soon as you switch off the AC’s the nasty bugs seem to strike. So with all of us being ill at one time or other over the last few weeks we managed to miss the Melbourne Cup and several other social invites that had us feeling we were all alone. We even managed to miss the National(Renaisance)Day fireworks at Bausher Stadium, given that we normally feel the effects inside the house, it was with some surprise when we realised they had somehow completely passed us by!

To remedy this we had friends over for dinner last weekend and a trip to Qurum park the following day, but this coming weekend is the Dubai Rugby 7’s, and with a lot of our friends going to that I think it might be another lonely weekend.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Spot the Difference

So a post almost totally dedicated to Oscar.
He is sixteen months old now and a real handful. It must be something about having an older brother that drives him to do things so early in life. He is such a happy boy and loves to dance when music is playing. His walking (forwards/backwards/spinning around and around) is so controlled it is just amazing to watch, and he loves to talk, well jabber at least. He will have full blown conversations with anyone who will listen, unfortunately even though his words are well defined, no one has a clue what he is saying. I would love to know what he is going on about because he talks with so much enthusiasm.

So why is he a menace? Well he can comprehend what you are telling him, but he chooses to ignore you. He has taken up the hobby of emptying the kitchen cupboards, fortunately we have restricted it to the one full of Tupperware, but he goes in guns blazing, throwing pots and tubs over his shoulders with aplomb.
The coffee table is another regular target, where he has decided that every thing on it belongs on the floor with the exception of himself. No matter how many times you tell him not to climb up, he will still try it on. His other foible, is that he doesn’t like anyone using laptops in his presence, regularly closing down the screens whilst you are attempting to type, so that most of the time you just have to give up what you were doing.
One thing he has shown a similarity in taste with Jacob is reading. He has already taken to choosing a book and sitting down on the sofa in Jacob’s room to leaf though it

Going back to an earlier post, where I mentioned that Jacob was on the mend, I should have kept my big mouth shut. He actually ended up having the whole week off school due to a stomach bug, the poor little sole couldn’t keep anything down and it was coming out both ends, so a trip to the Doctors at Muscat Private Hospital was organized. Dr Suri is just what you want in a pediatrician, calm, friendly and able to put the child immediately at ease. Jacob was reassured that no needles were necessary and only some yucky medicine required. As suspected the bug is doing the rounds in Muscat, and the biggest problem is to keep the children hydrated.
Unfortunately, Dr Suri will be put to the test at the end of this week when Jacob has his MMR booster and Oscar gets his first MMR. Becky is dreading it and I expect a lot of tears…..roll on Wednesday.

Saturday, November 08, 2008


So I was doing a little thing over on my knitting blog - where you had to answer all sorts of silly questions, plug the answers into Flickr and then make a mosaic out of them and then I thought that Jacob might like to do one as well.

So here are the questions with Jacob's answers and then the mosaic that he made - it was good fun !!!

1. What is your first name? - Jacob
2. What is your favorite food? - cucumber
3. What high school did you attend? - American British Academy
4. What is your favorite color? - red
5. Who is your celebrity crush? - Ben 10
6. Favorite drink? - Mango juice
7. Dream vacation? - England
8. Favorite dessert? - Home made muffins
9. What do you want to be when you grow up? - A Spaceman
10. What do you love most in life? - My baby brother
11. One word to describe you. - Happy
12. Your Flickr name. (I did this one and I put Jake)

Have a go if you get a chance it's a laugh.

Becky xxx

Monday, November 03, 2008

If The World Could Vote

Some people that have known me for some time will remember when I read the Economist religiously (Most likely with some dispair ;) ).Well I am afraid to say that after some time I am now back at it.
So I would like to share this with you all as an interesting aside....
The Economist ran a poll, to let the world vote on the US elections and this, with one day left, is what the world said (Or at least the readers of the Economist worldwide said)

In a couple of days we should find out if America listened....

Oh and another thing, I have this wonderful thing called Google Analytics that tells me all manner of interesting things about who, when and where is visiting the blog, nothing sinister, just interesting. The other fun thing is Feedjit (The map with red dots on the right) click on it and you see where our readers are from. Given that I know you are reading........WHY AREN'T ANY OF YOU COMMENTING??????????????????????

ps. if anyone on Antartica wants to read the blog it would realy make my day :)

Ghosts and Goblins and Ghouls…Oh My!!!

Well, it has been a busy week or so, socially in the Smith household but not that much of interest to report on.
Halloween was the main event for the boys with a certain Star Wars feel to the day…..

I had taken Jacob to a birthday party earlier in the day, which was fancy dress, and very noisy, (what is it with little girls and screaming?). Plenty of party games ensued, which haven’t changed since before I was Jacob’s age, but the big hit was the trampoline. Being the working father of the household, I see the fact that most parties are held during the week as a perk of the job and, the once in a blue moon attendance as a small price to pay.
Trampolines are common place in Oman, it is just one of those things that get the children out of the house during the cooler winter months and tires them out. Just the day before I spent an hour or so sweating away whilst putting Jacob’s one back together.
We take our one down for the summer in order to minimise the damage caused but the sun, which literally destroys plastic products. The padding to the upright poles and the spring protection lasted less than a year and a half before disintegrating in my hands as I dismantled the trampoline last May. It is quite shocking to see how quickly so much damage can be done by the intense sunlight here.

After the party we went over to the Dolphin Centre to meet up with Becky and Oscar for a Halloween parade and an evening of ‘Trick or Treat’.

This is one of our most fun ‘holidays’ in the West, it has lost its religious significance for most people and we celebrate it simply because it is enjoyable to do so.

Falling on the 31st October, Halloween is only the herald of the holiday that medieval Christian Europeans were intended to celebrate, All Saints' Day, on the 1st November.
The story behind the term itself, which is short for "the eve before All Hallows' Day," refers to the fact that saints of Christianity were "hallowed" individuals. It is thought that the Church decided All Saints' Day should fall on the 1st November (in A.D. 834) to make it coincide with its precursor, a Celtic festival of the harvest. By "overwriting" the pagan origins of Halloween, perhaps the ‘new’ Christian religion could steal some thunder from the lingering Celtic influence in Europe. But if this was the Church's intention, the strategy backfired to some degree as people had much more interest in honouring dead ancestors than in honouring dead Christian saints.
Whilst ‘Trick or Treating’ was not prevalent during my childhood in the UK, everyone looked forward to scary stories and maybe a Halloween party to go to with the chance to dress up.
This year, the school did not have its annual Halloween fair as, I believe, some people had previously complained that they were celebrating a ‘pagan’ ritual. This annoys me somewhat and, whilst I believe everyone is entitled to their opinion, they should be comfortable enough in their beliefs, not to feel threatened by it.
Given that our current image of Father Christmas was painted by Haddon Sundblom for Coca Cola’s advertising in the 1930’s and Santa has his origins in pagan rituals, will these same people object to Christmas festivities? PuurLeaseee………..

Since the weekend Becky has had to deal with Men’s flu….It started with Oscar having a cough and a fever, to Jacob having a stomach bug with a night of vomit and diarrhoea, to me suffering from dizziness and aches and pains. Fortunately, all of us are on the mend now, but a little more sympathy wouldn’t go amiss.

Oh, and if anyone is interested in some prime real estate in London, I suggest you take a look at the following link ;)
The Telegraph online