Being away from home and lacking a proper routine has made it hard for me to sit down and concentrate on writing new content, whether for Saudi Gazette or this blog. I told myself it is okay to take a break from everything, but one thing kept nagging me: that I hadn’t written a Life With My Toddler update. So here is a very late update about Maria’s 19th month, which we spent partly in New Zealand, partly in Malaysia and partly in Saudi Arabia.
Hamilton, New Zealand
The last few weeks in New Zealand we were blessed with many beautiful spring days. More often than not, we spent both Saturday and Sunday at one or two playgrounds. Maria couldn’t get enough of the swings, slides and sand. Ahmed was often busy studying for his finals, so going for a playground trip was not just the most fun way for us to spend the weekend, but also necessary to give Ahmed space (and quiet!) to study at home. During the week, we continued going to Playcentre and music class. Especially the former became more and more enjoyable as the temperature went up. As a result, saying goodbye to our friends and activities in Hamilton was bittersweet.
We spent the last two days in Hamilton packing all our stuff and moving everything to a storage, as we had decided to leave our apartment and find a new place when we return in February. It was a lot of work, especially with a (needy) toddler around, and I was washed with guilt as I packed Maria’s toys. Maria herself, however, took it quite well. She wasn’t happy to see her belongings disappear in boxes and was somewhat upset and more clingy than usual, but no real tantrums took place.
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
A long and, to be honest, tiring journey brought us to Kuala Lumpur, where we spent four nights to rest, adjust our body clocks, enjoy some time together as a family and discover a new place in the world (- at least for Maria and me; Ahmed had been in KL before).
While the flight wasn’t easy with Maria, I had expected worse. Maria spent some time watching cartoons, “reading” books and magazines, playing with another toddler on the plane and, after what seemed like an eternity of breastfeeding, even fell asleep in my arms. Unfortunately, as soon as I tried to put her on the seat next to me she woke up, so I had to do the whole breastfeeding to sleep ritual again.
Once we settled in Kuala Lumpur, Maria was cheerful most of the time. She slept quite well, although we all kept waking up at an ungodly hour and went to bed around eight thirty. We enjoyed our time, but also realized it was not a very child-friendly trip. Kuala Lumpur is chaotic, hot, polluted – not the best place for a toddler. That said, our apartment-hotel was perfect for her: spacious, not many dangers, a beautiful pool area and even a play room for kids – a peaceful haven in the middle of the city.
Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
The second flight, from Kuala Lumpur to Jeddah, went quite similar to the first. Maria was doing great, but the later it got the more hyper active she became, making me at some point wonder with despair if this girl was ever gonna fall asleep. Miraculously, she did eventually, and after having her asleep on my lap for several hours (and not being able to feel my legs anymore) we even managed to put her down next to me. What a relief!
We received a warm welcome in Jeddah by Ahmed’s family. Luckily, because of the good sleep Maria had had on the plane, she was cheerful, enjoying the hugs and kisses she got from everyone. Despite going to bed late that evening, we were wide awake around 4 a.m. There is, however, something delightful about getting up early in the morning, when most are still asleep. Although, in Saudi Arabia it is quite common for people to be awake until Fajr, the first prayer of the day before sunrise, have breakfast and then go to sleep.
So we had a typically Saudi breakfast of Masoob (a banana bread pudding) and Ful Medames (a mashed fava beans dip served with Afghan tameez bread). But instead of getting back to bed after that meal we simply continued our day, mostly at home with the family, but with an afternoon walk as well, when we tried to find the nearest park/playground for Maria. That turned out to be more difficult than expected…