Tuesday, February 28, 2006

This morning, we were given a tour of Doha by a lovely South African woman named Antoinette. One common outlet here is club membership, so we took a look at a couple of clubs first. For you US folks, it's like being a member of a country club...only almost everyone seems to be a member of one club or another. Most are in hotels. We've seen and used the one here at the Ritz and it's generally acknowledged to be the most luxurious...but maybe a bit too posh for us. Today, we looked at the club at the Hotel Intercontinental and the independent "Diplomatic Club" (where most of the diplomats go since it's near their homes). Both of those have private beaches (something the Ritz lacks), but the Intercontinental Club definitely had a swinging singles scene idea going (and not in a particularly nice way). Over the next few days, I'll try to see some more clubs and see what we like. If we can find a home in a compound with nice facilities, we might not need a club at all. We'll see houses on Thursday. Keep your fingers crossed for us that they will show us something nice (since we have to take one the company finds for us).
Antoinette drove us all over the town and showed us a number of nice shops, grocery stores and markets. Although we didn't get to go there, she did point out the market where one can buy all types of animals...including camels!

Doha is definitely a different location for us. We still have a lot of adjusting to do, but I think it will be interesting. Next step, find a house. Though staying at the Ritz is nice, it will be even nicer to have a home again!

Monday, February 27, 2006

Yesterday was another day of whiling away the jetlag in the hotel. Ellie and I decided to indulge in the luxury and lounge poolside during the afternoon. The wonderful staff of the executive lounge gave Ellie some rubber duckies, so of course one had to be toted to the pool for thorough chewing. Why chew everything? Besides the obvious "why not?" response, Ellie is sprouting her first tooth!

Friday, February 24, 2006

News from the UN website:
Annan To Attend Alliance of Civilizations Meeting in Qatar
20 February -- To emphasize his concern over the violent reactions to the caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad, Secretary-General Kofi Annan has decided to attend in person the meeting of the High Level Group for the Alliance of Civilizations, to be held in Doha, Qatar, this coming weekend.

News from us:
And he's staying in our hotel!

Greetings from Doha, Qatar!
Despite the one day delay, Ellie and Jennifer arrived without further incident and in amazingly good shape after a 21+ hour journey. Ellie, of course, was a complete and total angel baby on the planes. The first leg was from Mobile, Alabama, to Atlanta, Georgia, and we were seated next to another mom with a one year old baby girl named Reagan: FASCINATING! We have discovered that Ellie LOVES other children and is endlessly amazed by them. She watched Reagan (who was a VERY busy beaver) in quiet wonder all the way to Atlanta. In Atlanta, we transferred to British Airways, and let me just say that one cannot underrate the beauty of 180 degree flat beds in business class! The only thing more beautiful than that was the empty seat next to us, giving us TWO big ol' seats to play with. Ellie had a ball playing in her seat in between naps, and I think most of the other passengers had no idea there was a little baby on board. Arriving in London (where it was snowing!)without a hitch, we had a bit of a jam transferring to Qatar Airways (no elevator to the South Terminal, meaning we had to go through immigration--Ellie's first passport stamp--then customs, and then check-in all over again just to change terminals), but the plane ride was nice. The flight crew was extremely friendly. Even the captain took some time to play with Ellie when we saw him in the corridor! One of the flight attendants provided a bassinet for Ellie, which she proceeded to chew with gusto (see photo exhibit).

Now, our little family is reunited and happily whiling away the jetlag in the Ritz-Carlton. Talk about fancy-schmanzy! The spa facilities are gorgeous! Today, Ellie had her first pool experience. We don’t think she knew what to make of the water, but she splashed about like a pro!

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Not so fast!
Well, we thought we'd be travelling to Qatar today. Actually, we expected to be at least eight hours into our journey by now, but instead we are back in Mississippi. How do these things happen to us? Apparently, there was a major debacle involving the booking of our tickets by the travel agency. Our tickets could not be issued even after hours of attempts to sort it out with various travel agents and airline personnel...which wouldn't have mattered anyway since the first leg of our journey was cancelled and we were stuck in New Orleans for the night, regardless.

I've been listening to "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" on audiobook lately. In it, Arthur Dent has a line that applies so well to today's situation that it is my new motto:
"I'm sorry, but would it save you a lot of time if I just gave up and went mad now?"

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Off we go!
This Tuesday, Ellie and Jennifer will board a plane and begin the 21+ hour trek (via New Orleans, Atlanta, and London) to join Markus in Doha, Qatar (map courtesy of the CIA World Factbook, http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/geos/qa.html). We're wrapping up loose ends and saying some goodbyes...though we are always hopeful that we will see visitors before too long. We realize that Qatar is a bit of a stretch for most casual travelers, but there are many desirable locations close-by that we would be happy to see as well!
Markus has been in Qatar for a few weeks already, and his first impressions have centered on the massive construction efforts by the ambitious government. We're looking forward to exploring a bit as a family, and we plan to do much more frequent posting once we are able. Keep checking in on us!

Friday, February 17, 2006


Thursday, February 16, 2006

Bayou beauty
(view from Barry's backyard)

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

We have discovered a new skill...

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Ellie is five months old and ready to experience new things. We thought it was time to introduce a bit of diversity into her dining repertoire.

The rice cereal went over well...though she appeared far more interested in the spoon than the food.

Bypassing the bottle completely, Ellie handled her first attempt at a cup with grace and skill. What a smart girl!

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Dr. Berlin and Barry

For those of you who have checked the blog repeatedly in hopes of updates on the Ocean Springs saga and have come up short, our apologies. Knowing what is okay to blog has been a bit tricky, as we want to keep friends and family updated while at the same time being sensitive to Barry's privacy about his health and well-being.
Generally speaking, Barry is doing well. The chemo days are very hard and leave him feeling physically devastated and exhausted. He has chemo treatments every two weeks for three days at a time each time. During the time in between treatments, he gradually regains a balanced physical state, and often he feels quite well in the days just before another treatment (which makes the treatment days seem so horrible, having gone from feeling almost great just the day before).
This week, we had the opportunity to meet with Dr. Jordan Berlin of Vanderbilt Medical Center for a second opinion on Barry's cancer status and current care regimen. Dr. Berlin made a wonderful impression on us, and we were so thankful for the visit! He talked with us for quite some time, answered each and every one of our questions, and offered his number for questions we might have in the future. Overall, he approved of Barry's current regimen, though he did make some suggestions for tweaking medications and dosages here and there. He thoroughly explained Barry's cancer status in a way that was far more detailed and satisfying than we had from the oncologist back at home. At least we know what's coming and what to expect as treatments continue.
Barry has a great fighter's spirit. He wants to proceed with the chemo and "whip this thing", despite the extreme discomfort (to put it gently) he experiences during treatments. Any and all signs of support are greatly appreciated by him, so thank you for all of your calls and messages.

On a different topic...
This past Friday, Markus hopped on a plane and headed for Hannover, Germany to visit his family before continuing on to Qatar. He was slated to carry on in that direction today, but heavy German fog afforded him a few more days with his mom and his sister. Although he could have caught a flight to Doha tomorrow, that would make his first full day there a Friday, which is a weekend day in Qatar. Rather than traveling to sit in a hotel, he'll head to Qatar on Saturday instead (to be there for Sunday, which is the first day of the workweek there).
Ellie and Jennifer traveled to visit Ellie's Mimi (Jennifer's mom), then to Nashville for Dr. Berlin, and then to New Orleans for doctor's appointments of their own before returning to Ocean Springs to check on Barry. Whew! What a whirlwind!
Check out this little (almost) five month old cutie, who has recently discovered her feet...