I have no one to blame but myself. Last week, when Stasha asked me to propose this week’s topic, I thought writing about “changes” would be a good idea. This week, however, after living through a(nother) week of change, I’m wishing the topic this week were “things that are fluffy,” or something like that.

Far be it from me to back off from a challenge, however (or at least, I hate backing off in public. In private, I take the easy route all the time), so I will not write about bunnies, slippers, and cotton balls. I will do like the song says, “turn and face the strain.”

1. On August 12, exactly a month ago, almost to the hour, we landed in Abu Dhabi.  One of the reasons it feels weird to write “Monday’s Listicles,” in fact, is that today (Monday) feels like Tuesday. Sunday is the Monday of the Gulf region. Thursday night is like Saturday night; Friday is like Sunday–the holy day, for those who observe, and Saturday is..well, Saturday is still Saturday.  But Saturday night is like Sunday night, when you finally wade into the pile of work you brought home for the weekend so that you can bring it to the office on Sunday. Confused yet?

2. Pills. Pills are a change that has nothing to do with Abu Dhabi and everything do with–ahem–the aging process. Husband has one of those little daily pill thingys; I have a bottle of thyroid medicine next to the bed so that I remember to take it every morning (on an empty stomach).  Health. Health used to be something I didn’t notice. It’s sort of like money, health: when you have it, you sort of don’t notice it. It’s only in the absence that these things become important.  Husband and I seem pretty healthy, our pills notwithstanding (insert sound of knocking on wood here), but still. We’re in our late mid-forties and conversations with friends frequently go to a discussion of aches, pains, doctors, procedures.

3. Road signs have changed:

4. As have the displays at Ikea (although the furniture remains the same, as does, sadly, the daunting warehouse full of flat brown heavy boxes):

dishdashas hanging in a wardrobe display

5. I am now the mother of a middle-schooler. Which is impossible because just yesterday we brought him home from the NICU at a whopping four pounds.  How is that breadloaf size baby now scrutinizing his hair in the bathroom mirror in the morning and announcing (as he did on the first day of school) that “this year he will be paying a great deal of attention to his grooming.”  I have a child old enough to groom?  That sound you hear is my late-mid-forties slurping down the drain.

6. I live in a place where I can’t find chipotle peppers anywhere but  grocery stores have entire aisles devoted to ghee.

7. Family trips to the grocery store no longer end up in Union Square Park but somewhere a little more…salty:

8. Because my sandals will not be jammed into the back of my closet any time soon, pedicures have become a necessity rather than a luxury.  This is not a bad thing.

9. Caleb had to write a one-sentence clue about himself for a kids-in-the-class crossword puzzle they were doing. He wrote “This is a boy who loves soccer and loves to read.” Last year, at the start of first grade, we had to force him (bribe him, cajole him, wrestle him) to read his allotted thirty minutes a day.  His first-grade teacher won’t ever read this, but THANK YOU, Amy F.!

10. Change is everywhere in our lives, and as we slowly sink into real life, I’m sure there are more Big Changes ahead.  And then, in the face of all that change? Sameness: soccer tryouts started tonight, so there we all were, the soccer parents: chitchatting, phone calling, email checking, BlackBerry toting, cheering for their kids.  Just like home.