Christmas in Oman


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We woke Christmas morning to some excited kids.  They were filled with so much anticipation.


They saw that Santa had indeed made it to Oman and found us in the hotel….



but the pile of presents was quite small.  They each had just an item or 2 to open.  This made nobody happy, and we suddenly saw a lot of sour looking faces from the girls.  After the few minutes it took to open the few presents that were there, I shared an e-mail with them that I had received from Santa…


and the picture that was attached..


At this moment, this appeased nobody.  Christmas fail.  Oh well.

There were a couple happy campers anyway..



We ate some breakfast and time seemed to ease the disappointment for Kelli Jo and Zoey.  They started getting excited about the presents waiting for them in Bountiful and decided to just have a fun day in the sun again.





Zoey wanted to go in with the boys and take a little rest.  Kelli Jo and Ava would be the only ones to take part in the most bizarre visit from Santa known.  There was a chair made special for him on the pirate ship.  The 2 resort turtle mascots were there and took part in everything.


As we were standing in line Santa came strolling in holding on for dear life on the back of a camel..



When camels lower themselves to sit, they drop to their knees and Santa nearly took a spill over the hump of the camel he was riding.  As the extremely tan 5 foot 1 inch skinny Filipino Santa was lead to the pirate ship by the turtles, the helpers gave him the mic.  He wanted nothing to do with it and let out a very half-hearted and quick “Ho Ho Ho” and quickly returned the mic.  All of this was just too funny to ignore and we were both laughing out loud.  Chris was doing a play by play in my ear which everyone around heard and laughed as well.

Santa’s reindeer camels..


Kelli Jo and Ava with Santa (whom Kelli Jo figured to be a fake) and…. a turtle of course.


After this, it was more playing in the sun.  Ava was content most of the time in the kiddie pool.


Kelli Jo and Chris playing water polo


After the sun went down the girls played in the Kid’s Zone doing some Christmas crafts while the rest of us spent some time shopping at the Omani Heritage Village.  We then ate dinner and watched The Santa Claus before hitting the hay after one of the most bizarre Christmas Days that will never be forgotten.


To Oman…. Maybe


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We decided to take a trip to Muscat, Oman for Chris’s 4 days off and make our own ‘Christmas Vacation’.  The drive from Abu Dhabi to Muscat was only supposed to take 5-6 hours.  Google maps said 6, so Chris stated he would be able to make it in 5.  For some odd reason I thought it was only going to take 4, which is why I agreed to the trip with all the littles.  If I had only known.

We left and were off to a fine start.  Nice open freeway, just cruising along.


Google then had us take a turn onto Truck Road.  I guess we should have known by the name it was a bad idea.  It was a road full of… well, trucks… duh.  It had a speed bump (or speed hump as they are known here) every hundred yards, and a lot of these street signs…


and a lot of this….


When we first started on the road it was exciting to see the camels.  We would get the kids attention and point to where they were.  Some had men on them, some were just wild roaming the desert.  After 20 minutes on this awful slow road and 1000 camels later it started to be a joke and we were all sick of them.  Chris of course took advantage of this and pointed out every single camel and even Ava told him “enough of the camels dad.” To make things more fun we had been running very low on gas and there were no gas stations in sight.  We finally found one just in the nick of time.

We finally got past Truck Road and came to the UAE border control.  The van that we were driving to Oman was a rental.  Little did we know that we would have to have permission from the rental company to take the vehicle across the border.  We made some phone calls and there were some papers that had to be written and sent here and there and signed by this person and that person so that permission could be granted.  An hour later we were still sitting there getting impatient.  The boys were out of the car seats but there really was nowhere to go out of the van so we all just sat there.  Chris was holding Zachary while I was doing something and he decided this was a grand time to explode out of his diaper… all over Chris.  It was perfect for how we were all feeling.  I laughed (because it was on Chris) and then changed my little mess of a baby while Chris wiped himself off.  At this point we started talking about hotels in Dubai and started making some phone calls.

Becks got to take a turn in the driver seat


The police must have taken pity on us and finally just told us to go, but next time to make sure we got permission from the rental company. Chris swears it was the green stains on his shirt that got us the free pass.  90 minutes later, we got our exit visa from UAE and felt like we were finally getting somewhere.  20 minutes later we came to the Oman border control.  To get entry visas we had to stop and go into a building.  It took about a half hour, but we got it all done and really actually were on our way again.

We were pretty sick of the car at this point but had more than half way to go.  Beckham hates his car seat and was not happy.  Ava kept asking why it was so far and why it was taking so long.  We answered her only to hear the same questions 5 minutes later again and again.  Kelli Jo inherited my tiny bladder and had to go to the bathroom really bad so we had to make a quick pit stop… for this…


That’s the toilet that she had to use.. squat and pee.. and no toilet paper.  You can guess what the blue buckets are used for.  I don’t even want to know.  I passed and decided I could hold it.

After what seemed like a drive that would never end, we started feeling close to our destination.  The scenery changed and it was quite amazing… These pictures can’t even begin to capture the sights.  The mountains are like pure rock and they seemed to glow in the slowly setting sun.  It was awesome.


We got a bit off track the last few miles and went through some rough back streets but finally found our way again and made it to our destination… The Shangri-La’s Barr Al Jissah Resort & Spa. Our home for the next 3 nights of our Christmas vacation.  The resort is nestled away from the city of Muscat and feels like they must have carved a spot right out of the gorgeous rock mountains for this resort right on the beach.

The next morning this is what we were looking at from our balcony.


It was Christmas Eve and we spent the entire day in the sun.  We had a blast swimming in the pools, floating time and time again down the lazy river, and playing on the beach.




Here is the splash pad with the resort in the background


They had giant checkers and chess boards and a mini bounce house


They even had a snowman


Grandma and Zachary


My ever selfless mother spent part of the day up in the room so the boys could take a nap.  Thanks mom!

Kelli Jo and Zoey went on a camel ride down the beach


That evening there was a candle lighting ceremony by the tree outside.  Some of the resort employees sang Christmas carols and then they had all the kids light candles and stand by the tree.  It wasn’t our normal Christmas eve tradition, but was really nice.




We had a delicious Christmas Eve dinner at one of the restaurants.  We figured we were meant to be here because in true Burgess Christmas tradition, there was a big red tree in the lobby…


We then headed back to our room for some of our normal traditions…. we read the story of the birth of Jesus and opened Christmas pajamas.


Then it was time for bed so that Santa could make his visit…. little did we know that it would be one of the strangest Christmas’s we have ever had.

Emirates Palace



Emirates Palace is said to be a 7 star hotel.  It cost billions to build and from end to end is 1.3 kilometers (or not quite a mile) along a white sandy beach.  It’s insanely nice.  Inside there is an ATM machine that you can put your credit card into, and instead of getting cash, you get tiny little gold bars or gold watches, depending of course what your choice and how much $ you feel like depositing.  At Christmas time they have a huge tree that is filled with treasures and amounts to 11 million bucks!  We visited one day and the tree wasn’t up.  We were told it would be up 2 days later.  We went back 4 days later and they were decorating the tree, so we didn’t see the finished product (we didn’t feel the need to go back a 3rd time).  We took a few pics, but didn’t spend too much time there.  I felt a bit out of my element in such a posh place with my 5 little rug rats.

Outside, by some fountains looking opposite the palace at the city


The main portion of the Palace


Inside the lobby area


In front of the palace


A Day in Dubai


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Chris is playing in Abu Dhabi this season.  It’s just a quick hour trip to Dubai… our stomping grounds a few years ago.  Since Kelli Jo and Zoey were old enough to remember some things from when we lived in Dubai they had some requests of things to do while we are here.  One of my favorite things to do while living in Dubai was to walk around the Dubai Mall and watch the Dubai Mall Fountain Shows.  My girls loved it as much as I did.  That was one of the things requested.  I think I was as excited as they were to enjoy that again.

Waiting patiently for the show to begin..


It was worth the wait.. No pictures will do it justice.  For me, it really is like instant meditation.  It gives me a very zen feeling straight away.  I think that’s why I watched it so much while living in Dubai.  It will forever be one of my favorite things.  The combination of music and water is so soothing.


All 7 of us in front of the world’s tallest tower.  The Burj Khalifa


There is so much to do at the Dubai Mall.  We did a couple of the favorites.  Rode some rides at the Sonic Republic and watched the fish swim in the Dubai Aquarium.


When we were finished at the mall we skirted on over to Global Village.  I got a few items from the Turkey portion of the village and the girls went on a couple rides.

One of the entrances…


Inside Global Village.  Every time I have been there, it’s filled with people.  Each of the different buildings is a different country and sales things from “home”.


Wild Mouse ride..



Ava isn’t a fan of scary things, so she opted for the little swings…


This time I remembered to take a picture of the best baby I have ever had.  My sweet little Zachary who happily hung out in the stroller all day….


And once again, it wouldn’t be a normal day out and about without Chris getting some photo ops with random people….


We could have done a lot more, but with all the littles in tow it was a pretty successful day out.  I heart Dubai.


Santa in Abu Dhabi


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Santa made it to the Middle East!  We saw him at the Abu Dhabi Mall.  Unlike the states, we had to pay $11 per kid to see him.  However, also unlike the states, there was no line!  Worth it.  The girls thought he was “totally fake.”  He didn’t say ‘Ho Ho Ho’, but he DID tell Zoey not to tease her little brother.  Either way, it was great to get a pic with Santa and hear some Christmas music.  The kids even got to go through Santa’s grotto afterward and choose a little gift.  Merry Christmas from the Middle East.


Some of the nicest little elves I have met.


Beach Day



We had a beach day with some other families.  It’s kind of like fall weather here right now.  Just really nice during the day and even kind of cool some evenings.  There is just something about sand and water that keeps the kids busy for hours.  It was windy so there were some people kite surfing which was fun to watch.







When I got home I realized that most of the pictures I had taken were of Beckham.  I was just so impressed with how content he actually was the entire time.  It was a breath of fresh air.  Plus, how can you not want to take pictures of that squishy little body.  Zachary who was not in any pictures could not have cooperated any better and slept the entire time we were there.  Good boy.

Abu Dhabi Heritage Village



The Abu Dhabi Heritage Village gives you a glimpse back at the past here in Abu Dhabi and other emirates.  It was very educational and interesting.  It helps  you understand their culture and even why their traditional garb is what it is.  DSC_0334

Inside a tent


Mountain people’s stone homes




A well to get water


And of course, the camel





A view from the past, to the future.


It was a great time, but very dirt and I’m happy for the homes I get to live in.

Toddler Mohawk



Beckham has cute blonde curls.  They are adorable…… and drive me nuts.  His hair always looks a mess because of the way it grows.  We decided to give him a haircut.  It was very exciting.  He was so good and even relished in the attention he was getting with everyone watching.



And here we go…




After: Toddler mowhawk of curls.  What a handsome little guy!  Love him!!




Ferrari World




This is Ferrari World.  All things Ferrari.  Chris and I took our girls here one afternoon while my mom, the best grandma in the world watched the little boys.

The girls with the Ferrari World Abu Dhabi mascot


The main attraction was the Formula Rossa, the fastest roller coaster in the world.  You start the ride with your head pressed firmly against your head rest while wearing goggles.  Within a few seconds you are going 150 miles per hour.  It was incredibly thrilling.  Kelli Jo, Zoey, and I were able to ride this one.  Zoey barely made the cut.  Ava was too little and Chris was too tall.

About to take off


Part way through


They loved the kids rides as well





There were a couple of leisurely rides like this one that takes you through the cities of Italy while you listen to Italian music.  It was like a mini vacation.







One more ride that Kelli Jo, Zoey, and I rode on


It was a fun day (I’m not sure Chris loved it since he was too tall for pretty much everything.. and they were super strict about their height limits…but it was fun to see the excitement of the girls.  Thanks grandma Zollinger for watching the boys!  Kind of made me want a ferrari.



Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque



Our first tourist spot here in Abu Dhabi was the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque.  It’s known as the Grand Mosque to the locals and is one of those sites that you can’t help but just stare at in awe every time you see it.  It’s beautiful.


Inside, the women and older girls had to wear abayas (the black covers with hoods or scarves).DSC_0252



The chandeliers are huge and all have gold and Swarovski crystals in them.DSC_0241

The lighting is so awesome, my pictures don’t do it justice.DSC_0270



I’m going to try to make it back during the day to get some more pictures.  We are loving Abu Dhabi and being together as a family.

P.S……As amazing as this incredible site is, just like most places we go, we can’t get away without people asking to get their picture taken with Chris.DSC_0256