And so I’m back, from outer space, or more accurately the Caribbean where we spent our Christmas and New Year aboard the flagship boat of P&O Cruises, the Britannia.
Two weeks away from work, school, WiFi, life.
It. Was. Marvellous.
As such it’s meant that we’re all horrifically jet lagged still after a thirty hour trip back with limited sleep, but it’s all systems go and back to school, work, and blogging.
It’s also meant that I haven’t had the chance to reflect on my 2017, to look back and pull out those pictures that meant the most to me throughout the years. The ones that summed up the month. Those photographs that tell the story of our life.
From fairly new expats to Qatar still in January all the way through to now where you could say we’re broken in.
January saw my birthday arrive, as it does every year. A day filled of love, warmth and cake. So much cake.
This birthday has a lot to live up to!
From birthday cakes, to dinner out at the Torch and an epic birthday barbecue that was overrun with small people and so much laughter.
February was FREEZING. I know, the Middle East, freezing. Who’d have thought it?! Torrential downpours that only delighted the boys.
Have you even lived until you’ve danced barefoot in the rain?
Not only that but February saw the arrival of new friends, who are now firmly in the expat family bosom, who knows what a random email sent may get you!
March we welcomed our first visitor of 2017, my husbands best friend flew out to celebrate his birthday with him.
A chance to reconnect, to mingle our old friends and new.
New friends who were fast becoming old friends. The people who we spend our life with, day in, day out. The ups. The downs. The roundabouts.
Those friends who become family, those who you lose touch with, those who are there when you need them. Friends for a reason, a season, or a lifetime. All coming together, celebrating.
April is the littlest’s birthday, turning the grand old age of two!
It also saw me taking a much needed break away on my own with a friend, we read books, we slept until 9, we read some more. Perfect. Just what you need when you’re exhausted because your children hate to to sleep.
My mum came out to visit, bringing chocolate goodies for Easter, and we debated again whether we would leave expat life. Or indeed, if we even wanted too.
In May it was time for a little getaway, heading off to Ras Al Khaimah with the lovely Wanderlust Family at the start of Ramadan.
This trip revolutionised our thinking in terms of short trips, the way the children played together with instant play mates, the hours spent in the pool, watching them on the beach together glass of something in hand.
It was magical.
A week after we landed back from RAK the news filtered in about the stand off between Qatar and their neighbouring nations out in the GCC.
A blockade. A barrage of questions asking if we were ok.
We were ok. We are ok.
The blockade continues, life here has changed somewhat, but we are still ok.
July was time for our annual migration away from the soaring heat of the desert.
A chance for my mum to spend some time with the boys, to go to Peppa Pig World, to lessen the blow of leaving Daddy behind in Qatar.
We spent August catching up with family and friends who we hadn’t seen for a year. Trips to the Wirral to visit aunties and uncles, over to Liverpool with old friends. Family lunches with my brother and his wife. Trips with my mum to the Tram Museum, the Black Country Museum, trips to Carsington Water.
A rare occurrence when you have two small boys desperate for your attention.
Unless of course they are in England while you are in Italy…. it may have taken me a little time to get my head round it but going on holiday without the children was the best thing that we could have done. For us and for them.
My biggest baby turned 5! And with it came the love of all things LEGO. Seriously. Right now you can’t even move in my house without there being LEGO in your face, on your foot, in your pocket.
With the temperature dropping we got to enjoy some time on the beach.
And even more excitingly we spent the weekend at the Ritz Carlton forever changing my mind about Staycations.
The worst part of expat life is the goodbyes. How do you even begin to say goodbye?
November saw one of my closest friends leave Qatar for good, relocating to the other side of the world in Australia. Every friendship has a story, and ours began with washing pants….
Still before she left she bullied me into running the Doha College 10k, I think I’m just about back to normal!
And, of course, December. Our Christmas cruise and time together as a family.
Don’t we scrub up well?!