After our marathon hotel stay when we arrived (87 days!!!), we were finally able to move into our apartment a few days before Christmas. Our container arrived just in time to put our Christmas tree up on the 23rd and to unpack our winter coats only days before we headed to Eastern Europe for Christmas break.

The apartment is working out nicely. I never thought of myself as an apartment dweller, but I think it will be an ok home for a few years. It is fairly roomy, almost as big as our house in Indiana, and has a great view of Atlantis and a not quite as good ocean view. Not surprisingly, one of my favorite features is the 2.7K rubberized jogging track immediately out our back door.

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The only major shortcoming, which is almost universal for Dubai, is the lack of a clothes dryer. The US seems to have a staggering number of clothes dryers per capita compared to the rest of the world, so much so that people look at me a little funny when I lament the fact that I don’t have one. Fortunately, I got on board with a clothes drying rack early, so we don’t have clothes hanging from every door, cabinet door, and piece of furniture like we did in India.

Over the weekend, we put some effort into beautifying our giant balcony by adding four plants including a kumquat tree. I’m hoping to wean Chris and Kai off of their expensive Spanish clementine habit, but that is probably too ambitious of me.

With the exception of having Chris’ office to organize and decorate still, I feel like we are settled in to where our routines and day to day activities can return to normal. What a relief to finally get back in our groove!

We arrived in Dubai one month ago and things have pretty much been business as usual since we got here, or at least as much as one might expect when moving halfway around the world. Kai started daycare the day after we arrived, I dove head first into my new job, and Chris started his first official Sunday work day with gusto. For now, we are in temporary housing, which has its ups and downs, but all in all things are shaping up to be pretty good on this side of the world.

We arrived in Dubai to a brightly lit urban landscape at our temporary home overlooking Dubai Marina. Until our ocean shipment arrives, supposedly next week, we are staying halfway up a mega tall building in a two bedroom, three bathroom hotel suite – the biggest hotel room I have had since our trip to Marrakech.

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Initially I was a bit concerned about living in a high rise with an almost two year old, but it is working out just fine. The amount of safe outdoor play space is far more than I imagined and I am still amazed at the number of Kai-sized kids that we see on a daily basis.

Kai has adjusted really well to her new daycare, one of the biggest worries that I had about moving. They have a lot of great activities there and she seems generally happy with going to daycare. I think my favorite part is that she is learning French. They mainly speak English to the kids at her age, but she can ‘bonjour’ and ‘au revoir’ with what sounds to me like a perfect French accent. She also counts to ten now, in both languages! I’m impressed!

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As expected, the bureaucracy here rivals that of India, which I’m sure will make for some interesting stories throughout this journey, still things are going remarkably well. I have managed to get a visa, Emirates ID card, driving license, and temporary car. Unfortunately, Chris’ official documents are still in process and may be for some time. On the other hand, it looks like we are positioned to get Chris’ ‘for real’ car sometime next week – I don’t think we can say the same for mine.

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Another exciting development for next week is that I am expecting our ocean shipment to arrive! I really miss my stuff. I have been wearing the same three pairs of shoes for five weeks now and it is getting old fast. Also, I will be pretty delighted to have my proper dishes, silverwares, pots, pans, and other kitchen paraphernalia. Our hotel room kitchen is just marginally better stocked than our India kitchen was. Enough said.

Maybe next week I can post pictures of our apartment, furnished with our stuff. That is probably a pipe dream, but I can hope.

Because who doesn’t love to run a good marathon? I know, right?

Since I am a glutton for punishment, I have signed myself up for two of them. The first of the two is a trail marathon in Indy on August 3. I don’t have any goal for this race except for just completing it and running as much of it as is reasonably possible. I haven’t run on trails regularly since high school, and I will probably not have a chance to run many trails in the next few months, so this may prove to be interesting. I will try to plan a few long runs on the trails in our local state park, but no promises there.

In addition to that small detail about the race being on trails, there is an even bigger unknown. August weather in Indiana. The average temperature in Indy on August 3 is 83 degrees, presumably with 95% humidity. Essentially, I expect it to feel like 90-100 degrees out there. Sounds like fun, eh?

The second race is a small inaugural race in Southern Indiana on September 28. I chose to register got peer pressured into signing up for this race for a few reasons. First, a bunch of people from my running club are doing it. Second, peer pressure. Peer pressure is no joke, it can be a huge motivator, don’t underestimate it.

After returning from vacation last month, I have been working on being more deliberate about my running. I’ve failed spectacularly at that, but, somehow, I have still been logging a decent number of miles each week. I have been averaging slightly more than 30 miles per week. I think the sweet spot for me running a marathon is somewhere between 30 and 50 miles per week depending on where I am in the training plan. Fewer miles and I will be unprepared, more miles and I fear that I will get injured/stressed out/tired/other bad thing. This is a fairly personal thing, my way is definitely not the “right” way, but I think it will work for me.

I have a goal in mind for that second race, but I’m not ready to put it out there yet. I need to do a few of the longer, long runs to understand how realistic it might be. More updates coming soon. Even non-runners love running fodder, no?

Can I still write about my vacation last month? Its old news, probably not, but I’m doing it anyway. I have had a lot going on in the past three and a half weeks since we got home and I haven’t had the discipline to sit down and write about my trip, but, as Chris keeps pointing out to me, I will enjoy reading about it someday if I make the time to write about it now. So, here it is, I’m making time.

When I first sat down to look through my pictures from Norway, I realized that there were not many pictures, and even fewer good ones. I’m a bit disappointed, but not really surprised. It is pretty difficult to manage Kai while effectively taking photographs. We have a lot more pictures from the second half of our trip in Prague where Chris joined us and championed the photography effort.

In my last post, I went on a rant about the high price of food in Oslo, although, all said and done, I managed to only spend $298 on food, entertainment, and transportation over the three days that we were there; I feel pretty good about that.

So what does one do in Oslo anyway? That was a big question for me before our trip, but I quickly found out that there are many exciting things to see there.

We visited many museums such as the Fram, Munch, Nobel, and Viking Museums as well as my very favorite, the Ski Museum. I almost didn’t make it to the Ski Museum because it is a bit out of the way and involved a long walk, ok, not that long, maybe a mile, straight uphill from the nearest Metro station, but I am so glad that we went. I really enjoyed reading about the history of skiing and, for some reason, Kai patiently allowed me to do so.

Because the weather was chilly and drizzly, I sought out as many indoor activities as I could find. Kai seemed to stay quite warm in her stroller sleeping bag*, but I kept getting chilly and I kind of regretted leaving my Uggs at home. Don’t get me wrong, we did many outdoor activities as well, just fewer than we might have done had it been warm outside.

*If you live in a cold climate and need or want a stroller sleeping bag, I highly recommend the 7AM Enfant one. It is by far the most awesome one that we have used, Kai’s feet stay warm even in sub-freezing temperatures when she kicks her shoes off.

So more about Norway, I’m not finding a lot to say. I am glad that we went. I cherish the opportunity to go new places, see new things, learn about other countries and cultures, but I’ve had trouble writing because it wasn’t all that I had hoped for. I still haven’t written posts about the Maldives for the same reason. [Chris, remind me that I should get on with that as well!]

My main hangup with Norway was the people. They are very beautiful, arguably the most beautiful people in the world, but they can act kind of ugly. They were friendly in much the same way that I have experienced friendliness in France; read that how you will. I had a few experiences in Norway that just rubbed me the wrong way. None of the situations were dangerous and I understand that they do not reflect the behavior and attitude of each and every person in the country, but I’m just having trouble getting past a handful of extremely rude people who I encountered.

Overall, Oslo was a safe, clean, beautiful city with many activities for tourists, nevertheless, I don’t think it is at the top of my ‘revisit’ list.

Our first day in Oslo started off pretty well. We took a short nap and got cleaned up before heading out for some lunch and some sightseeing. We hit up several of the sights in Central Oslo before I decided to look for somewhere for us to eat.

Big mistake. Finding food for us took much longer than I expected. I quickly found out that it would be difficult to find even a fast food sandwich for us to split for under $12. I was also realistic enough to realize that splitting a European-sized sandwich with Kai would not even come close to filling my oversized American appetite.

I started to get kind of nervous. I had been warned that Norway was expensive, heck, I had even been warned by a Brit who thought Oslo was far more expensive than London. It just didn’t sink in though until I was converting the prices of things in my head.

Thinking back on our trip to Japan, I made a beeline for McDonalds. We had a few meals there in Japan and they were pretty reasonably priced. I shuddered at the idea of feeding Kai McDonalds. Bad. Mother.

I could not believe my eyes when I saw that the price of a Big Mac Value Meal was more than $17. Yikes. My fear of feeding Kai McDonalds went out the window because even that didn’t seem like a reasonable option.

I needed to buy some time while I figured out what to do. I stopped at a convenience store to buy a small (~16 oz) carton of milk for $3 and a banana for $1.22. At least Kai would forgive me for another hour or so while I got this sorted out.

Finally, I found a grocery store that was open. I bought some fruit and bread so we would have something to snack on while we were out and about, but there was nothing in this store that would make a meal suitable for Kai without my having access to a kitchen.

I eventually settled on getting us $12 fast food sandwiches. Naturally, I ended up eating nearly two $12 sandwiches because Kai didn’t like either one. I should have seen that coming.

In the end, we did not end up spending a fortune on food in Oslo, but we also never ate at an establishment that offered seating of any kind. This wasn’t necessarily a bad thing though; sometimes it is stressful to take a toddler into a restaurant by myself, so alfresco dining had its perks.

We got to see a lot of awesome stuff in Oslo, but I’ll share more about that another day.

Kai and I took two flights to get to Norway and, thankfully, they may have been her most successful yet. After both flights, passengers commented to me that they had no idea that a baby was sitting adjacent to them.

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The first leg of our journey took us to New Jersey where we had a twelve hour layover and an opportunity to hang out with my family all day. We got to have blueberry pancakes, a trip to the zoo, and a big dinner before heading back to the airport for round two.

For the second time that day, Kai fell asleep before takeoff and managed to sleep until the final approach into our destination airport. The sounds pretty good, but there is a bit of a downside for me; it means that I did not sleep much at all as I was dealing with various limbs falling asleep from her weight and the inability to get up to use the bathroom for nearly seven hours. Still, this was a much better alternative than a cranky, wakeful baby.

Sunday morning we arrived in Oslo, caught a train into town, and secured a super early check-in into our hotel. So far, so good!

Saturday morning Kai and I embarked on a mini adventure before joining Chris for our ‘real’ vacation later this week. I suppose that the excitement really started on Friday night when I was supposed to deliver Duke to the kennel.

Have you ever wondered how Duke gets in and out of the car? I can tell you for sure that he does not jump and that he leverages all 200 pounds of his weight to keep all four feet on the ground. I didn’t really give much thought to loading and unloading Duke until it fell on my plate to do it last week and it dawned on me that I could not pick him up.

Thankfully, after tormenting me for several hours, Chris spilled the beans; he has been using a genius technique to get Duke into the car: put him on a leash and ask him to walk right in.
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Not so bad at all!

After kenneling Duke, Kai and I spent the bulk of Friday night figuring out how we were going to share a carry-on suitcase for nine days. It would have been pretty easy if she didn’t wear diapers, but we’re not quite ready to leave those home yet. [Foreshadowing: It was a really good decision to pack enough diapers rather than buy them in Norway!]

Saturday morning Late Friday night, we set off for the airport and the beginning of our adventure.

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