So, I don't think I'll be as specific as I was yesterday about day-before-yesterday, but here's a basic outline of how our Friday went (which is like Saturday in the US, without the soccer games).
Up at 7:15ish (that Monk episode, remember?). Abbreviated devotionals and Bible reading. Kids had muffins and peanut butter, applesauce muffins this time. I grabbed a Larabar, and ended up eating 1/2 of it in the car (hm, gotta remember to eat that other 1/2 before it becomes mush in the bottom of my purse...). ML and I showered. Various kids were directed as to what to wear.
8:19 out the door. I noticed the time, because we said we'd leave at 8:00 or 8:15. Not bad. For us. Picked up JF & JBF and RH & SEH. They sat four across in the middle of the van (oops, still need to do that post), MS sat in the middle up front, and the three younger kids sat in the back-back. Love having a nine-seater van!
9:15ish arrived at W. Academy, a small school for ex-pat kids in the capital. in spite of the fact that a good friend was the principal there for several years, we'd never actually seen the building. And if we hadn't had directions, we certainly wouldn't have seen it this time. Ex-pat schools don't exactly label themselves prominently these days. :-/ For a rummage sale, though, we will go to the ends of the earth.
Seriously, we were hoping to find a few things being sold by those leaving or not needing them anymore. The school does this yearly as a fund raiser. You pay a registration fee to have a table, and they have a bake sale, so that's where they make their money. Specifically, I was hoping for a crockpot. I'd love a 220 v. one, but I'd even take another 110 one, since A) I'd really like to have two, and B) the lid of my current one is cracking (which, if you know my cooking style, is traumatic).
No crockpot. Nothing much of value to us, really. I got a couple of Dr. Seuss books I'd been wanting us to have. ML found a couple of books for himself and a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure book that MS and JW have been devouring. Actually, MS made out the best of all of us. He found several Star Wars figures that they've been having the best time with, and he got MA a purple dragon beanie for Christmas (shhh, don't tell).
The F's and the H's made out pretty well, though, so I guess it was worth coming. Oh, and I got to have some fresh, homemade sushi! I discovered about a year ago that I love sushi, so this was a nice treat. Although the majority of the kids that attend the school are from the US, many are from other countries, and apparently, some are from Korea, because this was touted as "Fresh Korean Sushi." It had crab, tuna, carrot, yellow bell pepper, and cucumber. It was so yummy!
From there, we had to decide what to do with the rest of the day. The F's and H's had other plans and were splitting off at this point (after stashing their purchases in our car, which was quite a feat, because I had about 10 bags of give-away clothes waiting to be donated as well as our stroller in the back already; fortunately, ML has good genetic packing skills).
If we'd made a good haul at the rummage sale, I would have been willing just to head back home. It was killing me, though, to think of having spent all that money on gas for the trip ala fadee (sorry, for nothing). Even though gas prices are going down here, it's still a chunk of cash.
So, we decided to drop our friends at the park where they were going to picnic and head to the mall to get some Christmas shopping taken care of. Dropped them off. And then remembered: it's Friday, it's 11:00 AM, and the mall doesn't open until 2:00. :-/ Well, the food court opens at 12:00, but the stores, not until 2:00.
Fine, we need a few import items only available in the capital, and MS wants to get JW's Christmas present at the bookstore at Cozmo (a British department store/grocery store that now has a bookstore and an electronics store). We head there. Traditionally, ML heads to the bookstore with the older three kids, while ZL and I do whatever grocery shopping we have to do. This time, MA decides to stay with me. This probably has something to do with the cute kiddie-sized carts they have and the fact that she spotted one as we entered.
I don't have much to get, just MA's rice milk, and I check for a few things that have been mysteriously absent from grocery stores here recently. Nope, they don't have baking spray, yellow cake mix or decently priced wheat pasta either. This happens here. Something that's always been available will just disappear for a few months. And then reappear. With no explanation. Except when there's new packaging. That's apparently an explanation. Here, they can't quite seem to time getting old packaging off the shelf and new packaging to replace it without a several month gap. But these items are made elsewhere. They're imports. Guess the shipping was off this month. Whatever. We can definitely do without them. At least they had tricolor pasta. I'm holding onto the illusion that that, at least, is better than white.
They also had mild salsa, a cheaper Oxi-Clean alternative, and the rice milk. ML & I went back and forth as to whether it was cheaper/better to get things to eat at the grocery store or eat fast food at the mall. There is Subway, so we at least wouldn't be eating greasy, but we decided on lunch meat, cheese (for everyone, because this is one of the two stores in-country that carries goat cheese now!) and crackers from the store. I was also able to get some pro-biotic yogurt drinks for the non-dairy-allergic ones among us and 100% orange juice for all of us. Oh, and the crackers were organic stone ground wheat (on sale BOGO; cha ching). So, I think all in all we netted a better health benefit than eating at the mall.
The two little shoppers and I joined the other three upstairs at the bookstore. ML chased ZL through the store (the reason why I normally take him shopping with me; I think life will be a lot more peaceful once he learns how to read, which doesn't look to be too long at the rate he's going) while I priced a few potential Christmas gifts. I didn't end up buying anything, but MA spent some of her money on a Berenstain Bears book, and MS bought JW's Christmas present (hm, I never did ask him what it was; ML approved it, so maybe I'll just wait and be surprised).
We had lunch in the car. The weather was beautiful, so it was actually a pleasant experience. Then, we drove to the mall.
Hm, it was only 1:00 when we arrived. Remember that Monk episode? ML and I were a little sleepy, and ZL was dozing off, so we instructed the older three to read quietly, reclined our seats, and took a power nap. :-P I'm sure the mall guard at the nearest entrance (we were in the parking garage near one of the doors into the mall) thought we were crazy foreigners. Oh, well. Guilty as charged.
Refreshed by our power nap, we head in at about 1:30. Just enough time to herd everyone to the bathroom, change Z, and start hitting the early-opening stores. We head to the British Hastings-type book/video/CD store and check out a few more Christmas options. We decide on Asterix books for the older two boys (shh, don't tell that, either).
Oh, I forgot to say: our family tradition is a book, a DVD and a toy/game for each child, hence all the book shopping. Next, the DVD shopping.
We were telling JF the other day about having a couple of kids' movies that had soundtracks both in Arabic and in English. We bought each of the older kids one a couple of years ago for Christmas. We have a Madeleine one, Treasure Planet, and Monsters, Inc., I think. They were supposed to help their Arabic learning. Turns out they don't just spontaneously watch them in Arabic. Imagine that. Guess we should push that more.
Anyway, I wanted to add to that collection, both for their benefit and for ML and I to watch to further our Arabic (I also know that these will be cool for them to have as they grow up; souvenirs of their childhood in this area of the world), so we headed to a store I remembered having original DVD's with actual multiple soundtracks (as opposed to copies, which usually only have English with Arabic subtitles or only Arabic, which seems kind of cruel to give as a Christmas present: "Here, have a movie that you really like in a language you mostly don't understand." :-) We ended up with Jungle Book and The Incredibles, with the understanding that we'll skip that weird demonic JackJack scene at the end. (You know by now that you're not supposed to tell, right?)
The power nap was wearing off, and all our feet were getting a little sore, so it was time for coffee. Starbucks, here we come. Yes, Starbucks. There's one on every corner here, too (not opposite corners yet, but practically every corner nonetheless). Fresh squeezed orange juice for the kids. I love that about Starbucks here. They all have those big orange juicing machines. Nice to have a healthy option. For the kids.
While there, we ran into the national manager of ML's center and his brother. We knew they were meeting JF and RH to watch a movie, but it was going to be at another mall cinema. Turns out the times at this one were better, so they were waiting for them. Also turns out that it was the manager's birthday, so we bought him a frappachino. He is one of MA's favorite people in the world, so they had a great time being silly while we wait together.
JBF and SEH were just about to head back to our city on public transport, so they were happy to hear that we were leaving and could give them a ride back. Perfect timing. We hit one more store to look for cheap toys to go in the kids' "sussy bag" that they get to pick from when they finish a workbook. None to be had, so we headed to the bathroom one more time and loaded up the kids.
The rest of the day was relatively uneventful. We dropped our friends off at their houses (deciding that the guys definitely got the best end of the deal, since the ladies had to carry all of the purchases up to their houses, which are on the 4th and 5th floors), went home and vegged. Oh, and ML and the kids talked to his parents on the computer, a weekly tradition. No Monk episode this night, though. We were a little tired.
(I hope no one's expecting such novels from here on out. I think this is going to be an exception, rather than a rule. Just trying to keep everyone's expectations realistic.)