Friday, February 28, 2020

Banana Island Fall Break Getaway

As mentioned in the Fall 2019 post, we went out to Banana Island for a fall break staycation. Richard ended up heading stateside for some training, so it was just the kids and I. We had originally planned to head out of the country, but sometimes being a hub city has its drawbacks. While waiting to see if Richard got into his class before booking anything, airfare just got too cost prohibitive to go anywhere. It was frustrating to see flights from NYC to Cyprus via Doha for ~$450/pp and the price of flights from Doha to Cyprus for ~$700/pp. For three people....and over two grand on just air fare tickets....just getting somewhere has blown a huge chunk of the trip budget. I remember we'd had fun on our day trip to Banana Island the previous year, so on a whim I checked for deals. I lucked out and they were running specials! We had a couple days left to decide and we booked our staycation.

It's crazy how just a 30 minute boat ride makes you feel like you in a different place! We opted for a two night stay and timed it so the kids and I would be home the afternoon after the early morning Richard left for DC, so we avoided paying for Ms. IsaLei's boarding! The bathroom was super fancy...the teen reenacted some sort of creepy alien rebirth hatching scene in the bathtub.

We had some beach time the first afternoon, some of us got our vitamin sea and others did some drawings....

The next morning, Clarissa and I had a lovely breakfast (while the teen slept in)...someone decided to have fun with their hot chocolate and selfies while I was at the

Of course, we picked up some just dropped frangipanis on our way back to our room.

The teen was fighting a cold and couldn't go diving, so only I was able to do a shore dive. It was my first dive in Qatar. It ended up being just being me and the dive master. We saw 'Hammour' the local name for a grouper (the googles says brown spotted reef cod (Epinephelus chlorostigma), also known as brown spotted grouper).

One of the coolest things we saw were some nudibranches! Chromodoris obsoleta to be exact.

Apparently, Chromodoris obsoleta likes to cluster together here in Qatar, which is rare for nudibranchs.

There were tons of Arabian angelfish (Pomacanthus asfur) that were quite friendly.

I used the GoPro on photo/video mode. As you can see it was not as clear as the Fijian waters we once snorkeled in....sigh. So the video isn't too great, but there were lots of close-ups.

We even happened upon some juvenile Arabian angelfish (which looks much different).

After the dive, I got the kids for some more beach time. We found some shells and part of a sea star washed up on the shore. We also found a big smack of jellyfish, which ended the swimming in the water fun.

Clarissa did not enjoy the stings but the lifeguard stand had some antidote. We also happened upon an beachside ice cream stand! I think that helped the most with the stings.

We got cleaned up and headed out for a yummy dinner, then we went bowling! I think it was the highlight of the getaway for Clarissa!

The lane was super high tech and started out with the kids having bumpers and mom not having bumpers (and I think there was other riggings because I was seriously losing until the kids went up and asked for me to get bumpers too). I normally don't do so horribly either!

Much rejoicing when someone got a spare!!

After our bowling, we played a bit of foosball, before calling it a night.

The next morning was another lovely sunny morning. We had breakfast, a bit of beach time, packed up, and took the ferry back to the Doha.

It wasn't the 'explore a new country' fall break trip we wanted, but it was a nice 'get out of the hustle and bustle of Doha' break we needed.

Sunday, February 2, 2020

Fall 2019

Just like all the other recent falls....they blow by in a I'm typically playing catch up on summer blog posts, this year I had a new job again which kept me busy with the 'new job learning curve' and getting used to the new normal, we had the chance to meet a real life Astronaut, Dr. Mary Ellen Weber, who came to Doha for a few days (She talked at some of the Universities, she spoke to the middle school at ASD, and then at the Embassy. After not really wanting to go, I was quite surprised when Clarissa got super close and right next to her for the group photo!!).

In addition to being Clarissa's brownie girl scout troop leader, I am also a USAGSO committee member (for those of you with Girl Scouts stateside, GS Overseas committees are the equivalent of a service unit), so we kicked off the year and had a big campout event. I also frequently have to explain to Isa that cats can not be girl scouts...even though she's a girl and she scouts for birds that doesn't make her a girl scout.

Clarissa has also been doing ice skating twice a week, so I've been playing the role of 'ice mom' (yes the thought of making myself a cheesy shirt has crossed my mind, but is so cold on the side of the rink I'd have it covered up so no one would see She likes to do the lunge and spins (skating backwards not so much). She is also good at skating on one leg with the other up in the air about half way across the rink!

I was at the one shop in the country that sells sinful things like alcohol and pork. I nearly passed out at the price of a bottle of champagne (I don't drink wine/ the googles does tell me this is a pricey brand in general).....but needles to say I DID NOT buy any! 2,803 QAR = $769.84!! Eeek!

Mason was super busy with the Academic Games team. You can read the school's student run newspaper articles about training, prepping for competition in Kuwait, and how the teams WON in Kuwait. Now Mason is a writer for the newspaper and has penned and published an article on Cult Classics!

Now that I'm done with the proud momma bragging. We also did a staycation to Banana Island. I'll give that it's own post since we stayed a couple nights...coming soon-ish.

I had the pleasure of being a chaperone on the Kuwait Academic Games trip, so Clarissa took my place as Richard's date for the Marine Corps Ball.

In addition to the cutest up-do (yes that is her hair made into a sparkly bow) and a sparkly dress, she had a blast being the youngest attendee and all the Marines wanting to get their photo taken with her!

Even if mommy is not out of town for some reason, she has already expressed her desire to attend again next year!

We, of course, had the birthday marathon.

If all that busyness hasn't tired you out, I'll leave you with a Saturday afternoon nap photo. I walked into the den and found Richard and the cat napping. Clarissa joined in and posed. She has a hospital band on her finger as we had spent the morning going to the public hospital and then getting a referral to another hospital for x-ray. She had smashed her finger and as it was swelling and turning 50 shades of blue and purple. We wanted to make sure it wasn't broken (luckily it wasn't, but she had a brace to wear for two weeks and doctors note excusing her from PE for 3 days).

Thanksgiving came and we had some special visitors stayed tuned to find out who it was and what adventures we had!