I cannot believe we've been living in the UAE for 6 months!!! When I say time flew by, it's an understatement. We've been living day to day, sometimes unaware of what the next day's challenges will bring. The way things operate here are sooooooo unbelievably different than the way things operate in America. Everything is way slower and processes change often...meaning a lot of times what worked for one person (even important things like getting your visa, registering a car, paying a bill) may not work for the next person, depending on who you're talking to and what mood that person is in on any given day. Needless to say, adjusting to our new life in the UAE has not been easy....actually it's been incredibly difficult and frustrating at times (I've cried many, many tears) ....but I'm happy to say we are finally feeling almost fully adjusted and at this point we are actually enjoying our time here! One of the best decisions that we've made thus far is deciding to stay here this summer instead of going back home to America. Although we really miss our families, it allowed us time to really explore this country and relax after a very stressful start-up.
Summer Vacation: We started the summer very chill...we were sleeping in, going to swimming pools, going to the beach, local indoor playgrounds, movies, malls, church....just hanging out as a family. It was interesting with Ramadan going on at the same time. Ramadan is a period in Islam in which Muslims fast from all food and drink during the day, until around 7:00pm at Iftar when they eat. It is actually against the law here for adults to be seen eating and drinking and even if you tried to sneak it, it is considered very disrespectful. People were telling me that we would need to switch our kids sleeping schedules to sleeping all day and being up all night, but that was totally unnecessary. We just had to make sure we ate well before we left the house and carried snacks for the kids in the car (kids can eat in public but all restaurants, food courts, etc. are closed until after Iftar). It was actually a nice time to go out during the day because most places were pretty empty and the malls would have big sales.
My girls: The girls are doing great. It was really important to Goldie and I to make sure that they liked it here and I can honestly say, mission accomplished! Since they are home-schooled and are at home most of the time, Goldie and I wanted to make sure they had plenty of fun things to do at home. So we made a big effort to make the house child friendly by getting them things like skates, bikes, a trampoline, creating a playroom, a computer, etc.. We also like to get them out of the house as much as possible, although that has slowed down now that their school year has started. We've taken them to the beach, parks (only early in the morning because obviously, it's too hot to go out during the day), indoor playgrounds, a water park, play dates with other kids, the aquarium, and other child friendly places. We wanted the kids to feel like they were living in Disney World... like this is best place on earth, so we went out of our way at first to get out and about with them. Goldie and I aren't socializing with other adults as much because we really wanted to put the kids' adjustment here as our top priority, so usually when we go out it is to a family friendly place. Granted, Ivy and Lyric are the only ones we really had to be concerned about since the other 2 are babies, but Ivy is a naturally curious and adventurous child. She's always been fascinated with meeting new people, going to new places and trying new foods, which motivates Lyric to feel the same way, so we were blessed in that area as well.
My husband: Goldie has really stepped into his new role as a stay at home/ homeschooling dad. He's taking care of us on the home front, while I'm away at work. I know it's different for him but he's taking it all in and overall likes being home with the girls as opposed to working a 9-5...not to say that being a stay at home dad isn't work because I'm sure it's not easy... but we both know that this is something that God has called us to do and we have both really accepted and have settled into our new roles. Last school year he joined a group of guys who met 2 or 3 times a week to play basketball. He did that for a couple of months until everyone left for the summer. Now that the new school year has started, he's busy with the girls' classes and getting them adjusted to their new curriculum. But he will be getting back to basketball soon, and I know he wants to get in the gym for weight lifting.
My Job: We started the school year back on August 24th and this year, like last year, I am split between two KG1 classes. I'm loving my school...the staff is friendly, the environment is relaxed for the most part, it's a newer school, there's plenty of resources, the kids get out at 12:30pm, and 2 days out of the week teachers leave at 2:30pm and the rest of the days we get out at 1:00pm...so I'm feeling really blessed to be there. That being said, last school year when I first got there I felt like a fish out of water. The pressure of adjusting to the expectations and the new outcomes/standards, combined with trying to form a good work relationship with 2 co-teachers (not to be confused with assistant teachers) who speak a different language, as well as the parents and children who speak a different language, was a lot. I prepared myself as much as I could before I came, but it was still challenging. I'm so glad I got the opportunity to come at the end of last school year so that I could get my feet wet. These days I feel soooooo much better...way more relaxed and confident.
Pictures of the Family:
Ivy and Lyric did a princess modelling contest when we first moved to Al Ain
Ivy actually won in her age group!
Jewel, Lyric, Ivy
Ivy and Lyric love to ice skate...Ivy picked it up quickly
One of the indoor arcades for kids in the malls
Lyric wanted me to try on a bow so we could be twins
April babies...the 16th and 17th
Getting my hair done at an African hair salon
My pretty girls
I had to use whatever I could to dry their hair before I bought towels in our new house LOL
Jewel stretching on our beautiful Persian rug
Just got their hair braided
This is our nanny/housemaid that we hired over the summer. Hiring a nanny (cook, driver, cleaner, etc) is a common custom here and it's very inexpensive compared to America.
Goldie and his girls
Shopping at one of the local markets...food here is fresher and doesn't contain as many chemicals
Oh nothing, just an OSTRICH in the parking lot!
This baby right here! She is walking now but it took her 16 loooonnng months!!! We weren't worried because Ivy didn't walk until she was 15 months, Jewel was 13 months, and Lyric was 12 months... their daddy was a late walker too :-)
Enjoying the hot sunny weather before it got too hot to play outside
The Aquarium in Dubai
The girls loved it!
Ivy bit her finger...of course Daddy's kiss made it better :-)
The baby area of the water park we went to this summer
Ivy and Lyric having fun
We went to Dubai for a few days to celebrate my birthday...here we are at the Rainforest Cafe
Photo-bombed by my nanny lol
Ivy getting henna
It was Indian henna...it started off orange for the first day but then turned this pretty brown color...it lasted for almost 2 weeks
Mommy and Jewel...I wear my hair in twists 90% of the time
On the boat in Dubai
Goldie and I
The girls opening their gifts from G-Ma and Grandad :-D
Summy loved her piano :-D
Overall, we are enjoying our lives in the UAE...we are in a really happy place and I think it will only get better from here. We hope to finish out my 2 year contract and possibly stay an extra year after that. We are very aware that there are a lot of political things going on in the world, but we are not living in fear and we feel God's presence here with us every day. Right now we feel very safe and protected in this country, it's almost like we're living in a bubble...you don't feel or hear about the negative aspects of the region at all. The UAE is a beautiful country. Most of the people are friendly and there is so much to see and do here...we are truly having so much fun!
Thank you for reading this long update and please continue to keep us in your prayers !!!