Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Photo Sharing - Video Sharing - Photo Printing

Photo Sharing - Video Sharing - Photo Printing

Photo Sharing - Video Sharing - Photo Printing


I have found that it has become at once overwhelming and underwhelming to keep up the blog. I sometimes feel like I have nothing of interest to say. I get up, get dressed, get Little Girl ready for school and Little Boy dressed. Before you know it the day is gone in a flash of hugs, cooking,bruises, spills, dishes, laundry, JimJam, bumps, messes and bedtime stories. Thing are falling into a routine, but I'm still not completely comfortable in Abu Dhabi. I should be settled in and feel like this is home, and yet a tiny piece of me is holding out. I'm not sure what for, maybe finishing the apartment or getting through the never ending red-tape.

More likely I won't feel settled into anything until the Little Monster starts sleeping through the night consistently. Just when I think I've finally figured it out and he sleeps all the way through, he's back to getting up 2 or 3 times a night. Ah well, this too shall pass.

More interestingly I had a really great visit with the in-laws. Yes, I am a lucky duck. My in-laws are great and we loved having them here for 10 days. They were troopers through the 11 hour time change and we did a few really neat things while they were here.

The most interesting of which was the tour of the Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan Mosque. The third largest Muslim place of worship in the world. It is the only one to open its doors to non-Muslims and the tour was fabulous. Not only was the building amazingly beautiful, but Mohammed, our tour guide, was welcoming and accepting of everyone (including the pushy bloke who repeatedly questioned the practice of keeping the prayer rooms separated by gender). He answered questions about the building, Islam or the local history and culture. It was all food for thought. No one should miss a visit to the Mosque while in Abu Dhabi including residents. It took me 10 months to get there, but I'm glad I went.

Maybe I am an official resident now having had our first visitors and visit to the Grand Mosque.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

I miss US TV

I haven't been watching much TV that doesn't involve Barbie, Mickey Mouse or Teletubbies. We've amassed a nice collection of kids movies and there are lots of shows on the JimJam channel which reminds me a lot of PBS Sprout. We even have a Disney channel dedicated to Playhouse Disney which is the set of preschool shows. However, I'm having a hard time finding shows to watch, especially in English, on the rare occasion I want to watch a "grown up" show. Oh well, I guess it is better that I don't get too into any TV programs, just when I sit down to a kid free moment, something or, I should say, someone comes up. Sigh...

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Yes, yes, I know it has been a long time since I last posted. I'm back from my first trip to the US since moving to Abu Dhabi.

It took me several days to get ready for the month long trip. Planning, packing, planning, packing...

I edited and edited and stilled ended up probably taking too much stuff. I did some shopping ending up with more stuff, of course. So much for saving money this trip. At least we only had to stay in a hotel for one night the whole trip. I'd like to thank the makers of Claritin...

I couldn't help buying a few new clothes for myself and the kids. I just couldn't pass up the deals at Target for little girl. Oh and I stocked up on diaper duck refills. For those who haven't heard me rave about this scented diaper trash bags, they are one of the few things I really believe are a MUST have to contain the odoriferous mess of a new baby.

We had a fantastic visit with my in-laws including lots and lots of good Mexican restaurants. I ate my fill of Carne Asada and fish tacos. Now I really need to loose a few kilo.

As our Disney passes were set to expire, we spent two days at Disneyland. Little Girl hit a milestone at reaching 40 inches (102cm), and rode the Jumpin' Jellyfish ride. We also took her on Star Tours, which proved to be a mistake as she screamed and cried through the whole ride. Oops. I think my favorite ride was the new Toy Story ride in California Adventure. Lots of fun shooting balloons, plates, etc. from a moving cart with an electronic "gun".

After a couple of weeks with my in-laws and some wonderful visits with friends, including a visit to my high school and lunch with my French teacher. I went North of LA to see my sister and her family. Luckily it was a holiday weekend so we had a chance to enjoy her husband's fabulous barbecuing, get a manicure, go shopping, and have a pajama party with 5 kids under the age of 8 (my sister's three boys and my two kiddos).

I even managed to get to the pool to train with my sister and her triathlon coach. I enjoyed the workout so much, I'm going to start swimming here as soon as the jet lag has worn off and we're all sleeping.

Speaking of which, I think I'll try to take a nap while the house is quiet...

Friday, May 29, 2009

Lap child?

I'm not quite sure how it could be legal to have a kid the size of William (mind you, he's small for his age) sit for 14 hours on your lap. Seriously, how do people do this?

I will not be flying from Abu Dhabi to New York without William having his own seat.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Obscured Vision

Here's what I was alluding to with the last post about Mom's health. She started having headaches a couple of weeks before the Italy trip. Then the vision in one eye suddenly diminished. She said it was like looking through a piece of lace or a veil. She saw several doctors and went to three different hospitals. She was treated for a sinus infection then told that she had an issue with the optic nerve. Getting an MRI was a bit of a hassle and then it took a week before we could get the results (we decided to go ahead and go to Italy).

The radiologist said that she had a sinus infection and Mastoiditis (infection of the temporal bone behind the ear). The optic never looks perfect. So hopefully the vision will just return to normal as the antibiotics clear up the infection. I'll keep you posted.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Two strollers, three suitcases, a backpack, a totebag and small carryon.

What I learned from traveling to Italy with a small child and an infant.

2. Bring travel size laundry soap so you can TAKE LESS STUFF
3. Check the airline policy before bringing the car seat on board and paying extra for an infant under the age of two. Etihad's policy is that the car seat MUST be forward facing. What a weird rule! Sitting in my lap is NOT safer than being in a rear facing car seat.
4. Business class is SOOO worth it on a long flight.
5. Don't leave things loose in the back of the taxi - you'll never see it again.
6. Check with your hotel and see if there are stairs. Just because there is an elevator doesn't mean you can get to your room (or even the front desk) without a flight of stairs.
8. Use goggle maps to plot your hotel. The website might not be accurate as to HOW LONG/FAR it is to the airport/train station, etc.
9. Definitely take a baby carrier like a sling, snuggli, baby bjorn, etc.
10. Don't bother with a big stroller, just bring the umbrella stroller and see if you can bring it on board to stow in the overhead - you might not get it back on the jet way and will have to carry your baby in the car seat you couldn't use on board all the way to the baggage claim.
12. Just because your train ticket says Rome it doesn't mean that's what is the final destination of your train and therefore the name on the schedule board saying what platform you need to be on to get on your train.
13. Leave an hour and half OR MORE before the train leaves the station to get something to eat and find your train.
14. Don't bother trying to pee at the train station. It costs a Euro and takes WAY too long to find and get back to your train. Just wait for the train, the bathrooms on board aren't too bad.
15. First class train cabins are ALLLLL the way down at the far end of the train.
17. Take Sara as your tour guide, she knows the travel books by heart so you can relax and follow her lead.
18. TAKE LESS STUFF so you can keep up with Sara.
19. One big room is cheaper than two small rooms.
20. Stay near the airport/train station and make day trips.
21. Just because the taxi driver says there is a meter, doesn't mean he really has one.
23. Take one pair of SUPER comfy shoes that you KNOW won't give you blisters.
24. You can see a lot more when you leave the kids at the hotel with their grandmother.
25. It is nice to have an excuse to take a break and do things at the kids pace.
26. Restaurants in Italy often don't open for lunch until noon, close at 3ish, and then don't open for dinner until around 7:30. Buy a few snacks to have on hand for little people.
27. TAKE LESS STUFF, but don't forget the camera (with extra batteries)!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009


Two weeks ago I made the fortunate decision to go into HR with J. We were planning an evening out with friends and we heard that there were coupon books for Etihad employees if you asked the right person. On the way home from picking J up from the airport, we stopped by the office. I have a pregnant friend in the complex that works in HR so while J was working on the coupon books, etc. I stopped at her desk to see how she was feeling. She asked about Mom and I told her about the latest denial by the Immigration Appeal Committee.

This is when the universe shifted. My friend told me that what I needed in this situation was Wasta. At my puzzled look she explained that we needed someone with influence and the next thing I knew she was on the phone speaking arabic at increasing speed and volume. I almost got worried when she started making gestures with the hand not holding the phone to her ear. In a blur J and I were in a cubical drinking really nice cappuccino from china cups with an Emirati man with a warm smile and good things to say about his time working in the US and hearing promises of him taking the visa application to the Chief of Immigration himself. He told us that the Sheik (King/President) offered him the choice of working at Etihad and living near his family or going abroad as an ambassador. I really began to see how Wasta worked. This man's job as Government Relations Manager frequently includes smoothing the path where necessary.

That afternoon J and I gathered up the application and supporting documents, adding some changes that we had been thinking of making to the appeal letter based on the advice of another friend in the building who managed to get her mum a visa. The letter now said that Mom is widowed and has no sons to care for her. I also noticed that the copy of dad's death certificate and my birth certificate may never have made it out of the envelope from the translator into the last application. We took all these documents back to the Emirati gentleman, but missed him as he was needed at the airport to handle another situation. So we waited all weekend.

On Sunday, the first day of the work week, we took the documents back to HR. We made several trips back to HR that week to gather remaining documents, copies of Mom's passport, the 5000 dirham fee, Mom's actual passport, John signature on the forms, etc. Once we had a temporary visa, Mom needed to get the Medical FItness Test (AIDS test and TB xray). The Government Relations Manager had called ahead and had someone meet mom at the clinic for the testing who walked her through the process, jumping to the head of the lines in front of about 50 other women. We waited through another weekend for the results. As Sunday came and went and we still hadn't heard I got nervous, worrying that we wouldn't get her Fitness Certificate for some bizarre reason.

Finally we got the call, they had the certificate, but needed more documents, money or signatures (I'm starting to forget what they needed when - a checklist would have been REALLY handy). Tuesday we took the Medical Certificate downtown and purchased a cheap health plan. I took the receipt back to HR. They needed another two signatures from John so after getting those I met a man at the airport who works for the Governement Relations Manager and he took the application straight to immigration. Yesterday (Wednesday) afternoon we got the call that Mom had her visa! Praise Allah!

This morning I ran down to HR again to pick up the passport and there was even more good news. Most visas of this type are good for one year, Mom's is good for three! Yippee!

Now we can go to Italy next week without worrying about visas! Now I don't have to worry about Mom making a visa run every thirty days and possibly not been let back in the country. I don't have to work full time to sponsor her myself. Whew! I would have gotten a job and probably would have been fine, but I just really don't feel ready to leave Little Man. It broke my heart thinking about it.

So now all we have to do is worry about Mom's health, but that's another story for another day...

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Update on Smashed Car

Yep, we're still driving the rental. J went to the Toyota repair shop this morning to ask about the progress of the repair. I shouldn't be surprised, but I was hoping that they had at least started to take of the smashed bits. Nope! It's still sitting collecting dust. The good news is that the insurance has approved the expense. So that's a plus... I'm trying to be positive, really I am...

The funny thing is that I'm sitting at the dining room table typing this. Little man is playing on the floor, Mom is across the table from me playing a word game on her computer, and J is next to me on his computer playing a silly Army Men video game. It's a cozy little group, kind of like toddlers all engaged in parallel play. We're playing at the same thing in near proximity, just not playing "together". Still I feel much more connected than if I was sitting here alone and Mom and J were in different rooms.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Anyone read Arabic?

After waiting around all morning the doorbell finally rang. Empost delivering Mom's appeal from immigration. He asked for the receipt. Receipt? What receipt? Thank goodness J has been keeping everything in one binder. It was there! Whew!

The momentary feeling of relief fades quickly as I see the papers the courier hands me. They are the whole application with a blue rubber stamp on the top page with a tick mark on one of the lines. All of the writing is in Arabic and there are no new pages. This doesn't look good How can I find out what it says?

I grab a few things and head outside. Maybe I can make it downtown to the legal translator before I need to be back to pick up Little Girl from school. Oh, but there HAS to be someone in the complex who can read this!

I stop by the computer room; no one there can read it, but someone suggests the Lebanese guy who works in the gym. So I walk over to that building. He's busy, but I leave the sheet and come back after Little man's nap, trying not to stress the whole time I'm waiting.

I head back and the girl at the desk says apparently he had trouble reading the hand written portion, but he could work out enough to tell me the appeal has been denied.

Curse words!

I spend the rest of the day wishing I had a liquor license and knew where to find the bottle shop (liquor store).

I'm feeling better today, but I still don't know why the visa was denied or really what our options are now, I suppose we could plan a cool trip every thirty days.


We finally have a shop open in the mall that is attached to our apartment complex. Lulu Express is very much like a Safeway minus the pork or alcohol. There is even a small section of Mexican food; the tortillas come from the Netherlands. It is unbelievably convenient to have a store so close. The only draw back is that we are so close to the labor camps that men with little to do on their time off are clogging the aisles. I had to wait 30 minutes to check out a few days ago. So they've instituted ladies only hours and checkout lanes. Seriously! My strategy has been to go when everyone else is a work, which I tried to do at home anyways, but it is hard to run in and pick up something for dinner at the last minute. They are building a Carrefour hypermarket across the highway, but who knows when that will be open.

The mall will have a McDonalds, Applebee, a cafe and other restaurants and stores. I'm most excited by the hotel. It will be so nice to have a place within walking distance for guests. On the other hand we can host relatives in Mom's room and let her have the hotel room (and a break from us).

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Praise Allah!

Yippeee! Where do I start! First, Little man slept through the night. Second, I have internet in the apartment and, third, I have curtains. I'm not really sure which has me so giddy or if it is all three.

Little man has slept through the night for the last three nights. Not just the technical 5 hours, really slept through the night. He has slept at least 8:30 to 6:30AM. Seriously! It's about time. He also is pulling up on everything, has 3 teeth (working on a few more), can hold is own bottle and has pretty much weened to the bottle. I'm a little bummed about the bottle thing, but unlike in the US I just don't feel that comfortable nursing in public and I'm not really the type to stay home.

Etislat finally came to hook up the internet after applying for it over a month ago, yelling at the guy at the kiosk in the mall (way to go Mom), and about 6 phone calls to "customer service". Our neighbor upstairs has been waiting for four months. I got to video chat with the in-laws so they could "see" the kids. Little man has changed so much since they saw him in December. The wireless isn't great, so tomorrow, I'll try plugging in with an ethernet cable.

We finally are having curtains installed. We've been in this apartment for two months with NOTHING on the living room, dining room and Little girl's windows. We put up the cheapest (pretty sheer) IKEA curtains in the master and Mom's room. I hope they look as good as I have pictured in my head. We'll know in about an hour when they finish installing. I have roman shades in the bay window in the living room and pinch pleat curtains everywhere else. They are fully lined so hopefully they will offer some sound and heat insulation as well as privacy.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Mom's Visa

Mom's visitor visa is about to expire and we've been waylaid in our efforts to apply for her residency visa by smashed cars and fevers. Initially, when J and Mom went to immigration, she was flat out denied on the grounds that J could not sponsor an in-law (they recently made a new no in-laws rule). After talking to a few people at HR we were told there is an appeal process and we should gather a few more documents including letters stating why we want her here. Mom and I took in our letters that were translated into Arabic back to immigration (J was on the way to the translator with the letters when he was rear-ended).

After reading the letters, the poobah at Immigration that hands out the numbers and sends you to the right counter, told us we needed an mpost and to go to counter 3. This mpost word had been thrown around before and we could not get anyone to explain what on earth it was, how long it would take or how much it would cost. Turns out and mpost is a tiny piece of paper (stamp) that you pay AED15 (about $5) for that says you paid AED 15. Hmmm - I still don't really know what it is, but a least it was cheap and only took us about 10 minutes to get since there is an office on site that does this.

At counter 3 we were told to go to counter 4. The man at counter 4 said that we still needed a statement from J declaring him to be responsible for Mom. Before, we had be told by several people (HR and immigration) we might need the US embassy to write a letter saying Mom was dependent on us; which just didn't seem right or possible, especially since it isn't completely true. Just by changing the word dependent to responsible we saw a ray of hope in the situation.

Mom and I went to the Canadian Embassy and finally had some one who's first language is English explain what we needed. Unfortunately, she said we really needed the US Embassy to do it since J is the one with the work visa to sponsor Mom. Yesterday Mom and J went to the US Embassy with the letter we wrote. They were able to get the US Embassy to authenticate the sworn statement that John signed in front of them (official seals, stamps, embossing, etc).

Today, Mom and I went back to Immigration. This time J was not home to watch the kids, so we dropped Little Girl at school and took Baby Boy with us (not ideal, but it was too late to arrange a sitter and too late to wait for another day). First we drove the rental car (smashed car is still in the shop) to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to get the UAE version of authentication stamp. That went well taking about an hour that mom and I spent having breakfast at Carrefour (walking distance from MFA). After picking up the newly authenticated document, Mom and I decided to take a cab instead trying to find a parking spot that late in the day at Immigration.

We found a line of taxis waiting outside Carrefour and went off to Immigration (baby boy fell asleep on the way) We got a number from the soldier next the poobah and quickly realized he had given us a "jump ahead in line" number. The counter was serving 436, but Mom had number 404. The gentleman that held 437 was NOT happy about this, especially since he had been displaced previously by a women with 402. I was across the room with a sleeping baby and couldn't help, but Mom held her ground! Way to go Mom!

Counter 3 guy sent us to Counter 4 guy (maybe he just has better English?) who told us we should have the newly authenticated document translated into Arabic. So we go back out front to the taxi stand. This time there isn't a line of taxis, but a line of people waiting. A woman in an Abaya (long black dress and head scarf) jumps the line when a cab finally shows up, we finally get one and head further downtown to the legal translator. The guy we normally use is booked up so we tried next door and we were able to talk her into doing it in an hour. So again we wait and eat lunch (lebanese shawarma- yum). After lunch we pick up the translation and take another cab back to Immigration.

There was a shift change so there wasn't a soldier next to poobah number guy and counter 3 and 4 had different people. This time Mom waited her turn, but it wasn't long. Again, baby boy had fallen asleep in the taxi, so he was nice and quiet. At counter 3 the man looked through all the papers and actually kept them. Which means we have ALL the papers they want. Whew! It only took 5 tries. I wish I could say that they issued a visa, but they didn't. It has to go to the appeal committee. I certain hope they convene soon (Sunday and Monday are holidays) and decide in our favor.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Feeling better

Yes, Little Girl is MUCH better, thanks for asking. After thinking about it, she really hasn't ever been that sick before. She's had colds and short lived fevers, but 5 days! That was pretty sucky. I'll be sending her to school tomorrow, so I hope she's ready for it. We'll see if they call for an early pick up.

I wasn't feeling better this morning when I found out that the insurance company will NOT be covering the cost of a rental car while the van is in the shop. Oh, and the repair shop is a piece of work too. It was the sort of place where you take a look at the triple parked cars and decide to go straight home, only we couldn't as this really is the only place in town to get it fixed. Not 5 minutes after we parked the rental car did it get blocked in. J went to the office to check in the van and came back about about 10 minutes saying he had better take me home as this was going to take a while. There were about 20 men waiting to be helped an no one was paying any attention to him.

We weren't going anywhere any time soon as the rental car was seriously buried behind an SUV, so I played the woman card (more impact here in a muslim country) and told John to wait outside. I grab a service consultant and asked him to help me get the rental out. Then we commandeered him to check in the van too.

I decided to go downtown to the Marina mall in the rental this afternoon and discovered it is much more full efficient than our van since we got slammed with traffic from the convention in town. I have to say that shopping really is therapeutic. I was really pretty stressed out by the time we got all the way to the far side of the island where the mall is, but I felt pretty good when I got in the car to go home. And for what ever reason the trip home took only the regular 40 minutes instead of the 2 hours it took to get in. Bonus!

I'm looking forward to getting a TV and internet in the apartment so I can know about thing like a huge convention that has streets blocked off ahead of time. It would be nice not to have to sit on a concrete step too!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Smashed Car

Photo Sharing - Video Sharing - Photo Printing

Smashed car and a very sick little girl

Yep, didn't take long did it? The good news is that no one was hurt. John was driving and stopped at a red light. The car behind him didn't. So now we have the fortune of dealing with the ONLY Toyota repair shop in Abu Dhabi (and the only one our insurance will cover). They are estimating 4 to 6 weeks, oh and we have to leave the car with them the WHOLE time. It gets better... wait for it... we can't rent a car at the moment because there is a HUGE convention in town and all the rental agencies at the airport are completely book. Yipee!!! We'll see what the insurance guy suggests and maybe find a car to rent downtown. Sigh...

Ok Part II of my bad day. Little Girl is really sick. She had a really nice ice skating birthday (aside from a yucky blister on her ankle) but seemed a little off the next day taking a very long nap and having a bit of the sniffles. Monday morning she woke up with a raging fever and head to toe rash. I took her to the out patient clinic at the hospital and she had a blood test to confirm a bacterial infection. So she's on another antibiotic (we just finished the last dose from before when she fell down in the yucky bathroom), ibuprofen for the fever and an antihistamine for the rash. I'm worried about her, especially since she still has the fever. It goes down with the ibuprofen, but keeps coming back.

Thursday, February 12, 2009


I had the best birthday I've had in years. I got to sleep in, go shopping, have lunch at Fuddrucker's, read my book, and then go out to dinner at a fancy hotel (sans enfants). J took me to the Shangri La Hotel where we sat by the pool and had a cocktail, then to a Japanese restaurant next to the hotel where we had really good sushi and tempura. I don't think I've had a whole day that I got to do what I wanted since... well before kids were born and certain that was the first time here in Abu Dhabi. I can see why people vacation here.

Yesterday I was hesitant to take the kids outside since the sand storm was so bad. It wasn't like you could feel the sand, it just hung in the air like fog. Everything is coated with a fine powdery dirt - except for the wobbly swath cut through it by Little Man's army crawl. I swept yesterday and this morning it looks like I haven't dusted in 15 years (for once that's not an exaggeration). Today I can see some blue if you look straight up, but it is still pretty hazy.

Fruit Loops

So I was at the grocery store thinking of you, Chris Wade and your morning fruit loops. Although you can get a lot of the sugary cereals here - Fruit Loops included I can't find PLAIN Cheerios. Go figure! (Yes, my sister put me up to mentioning you and the fruit loops. Of course I remember you - can't help it when half the photos I get of my nephews seem to have you Tab and Little miss M in them).

Sunday, February 8, 2009


For the first time in my life I have had my eyebrows professionally shaped. Mom and I found a salon near LB's school. They have everything from manicures to Moroccan bath's (mud masque and a steam room). I think I might try henna one of these days. But I'm very pleased with the threading processes. It didn't hurt as much as waxing or plucking - a little Indian woman had a real spool of thread that she wrapped around the errant hairs and twisted - yanking those hairs out. Really it wasn't as bad as it sounds, and it HAS to be better than a full body wax...

I'm starting to learn my way around but I did have another frustrating day of driving in circles. Of course it was bad enough that I ran into traffic and was going to be late to pick up Grace, but then it got worse. The fuel indicator light came on, then I missed the exit and got turned around and even more confused. The good news is that I ended up by home. The bad news is that I missed ANOTHER exit trying to get to the school from our neighborhood! We got Grace (she didn't notice that she was the last one picked up) and got fuel before running out, so really it wasn't that bad, but I think I would have bit your head off if you tried to tell me that in the heat of the moment.

I found out that it will cost 3500 dirham to fix my computer ($953). I guess I won't be getting it fixed for a while. Maybe I'll take it to the Apple store in the states on my next visit. It is looking like I'll be in California in May. I might make it to Colorado as well.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009


I'm feeling very liberated since I got my drivers license today. Why should it make any difference if J was willing to drive me pretty much where ever and whenever I wanted? I guess it just relieves the guilt. I have been wanting to get a manicure, but who really wants to ask their husband to not only watch the children, but drive me to the salon (or saloon as some people around here call them) and then pick me up. Who wants to drag their husband through the mall and stop to look at belts (yes I forgot to pack a belt and I don't have any coming in our shipment either).

My first trip behind the wheel was uneventful. It wasn't a big deal as long as J was there to navigate. So I ventured out to Carrefour with just Little Bean. I got there without incident, and had a grand time of browsing the aisle without worrying about anyone else. Coming home, however, I missed the exit. As I was figuring that out, I blew past the next exit. By the time I figured out I really needed to turn around I ended up on a road that didn't turn around, but sent me half way to Dubai (OK more like a quarter of the way) before I could get back to my exit. It's a learning process. It would be nice if things were labeled better, but it is probably easier than driving in Boston. Of course some of the drivers here would terrify any Bostonian. Lanes, rules, speeds all seem to be optional. There are very few left turns and LOTS of roundabouts. So you can see where you want to be, but you just can't get there. J pointed out the Facilities department building he was trying to get to before we arrived and noted that you can only get to it if you are going in the right direction and know where to take the unmarked exit...

I guess I better become an expert on the local landmarks quickly.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

itunes and another run at a visa

I can't decide if I love itunes or hate it. I miss Grey's Anatomy but don't yet have a TV. There doesn't seem to be such a thing as a cheap TV here. I have NOT seen anything but flat screens, so we decided we'd buy furniture to sit on first and then curtains for a little bit of privacy, and THEN TV. It has actually been kind of nice to get Grace out on the playground instead of sitting in front of the boob tube, but I have missed a few of my favorite programs. Grey's being one of them. I decided I'd go on and see if I could download the show, NOPE! You have to actually be in the US to use that function. Bummer...

So on to itunes. I purchased the few episodes available that I had not yet seen and then added a couple of shows for Grace including Dora and Babar. Well, I don't know if it is itunes or the lovely connection we have to the internet, but it took about 6 hours to download Dora - why I tortured myself twice (once to download and then again to watch the darn thing), I just don't know.

Now I'm sitting on the HARD tile floor in the computer room because all the chairs are taken (we should have internet in the apartment within a week - supposedly - I'm not holding my breath) and trying to get itunes to download the next Grey's. It keeps quitting for some reason. My cheeks are numb and ankles sore, but I refuse to give in and let the computer win. I will watch my crappy show and enjoy it! OK, it still has 2 hours to download, no 88 minutes, no 2 hours and my tush is starting to go beyond numb and into hurting. I can't really stay down here for two hours. Not if I'm going to get any sleep at all.

On another (and much more important) note, I may not have to go to work here after all. I probably will do some substitute teaching and I may consider working in a year or two, but I would really prefer to stay home until the little man is at least one, preferably three and in school. J went into HR and they said we should be able to get Mom's visa done if we get certain documents translated into Arabic and show that I have a permanent visa. We'll see. Rules here are more written in sand than stone. It all depends on to whom you are talking and who you are with at the moment. Apparently being a women alone can be an advantage in places that have lines. Hmmm... It is a balance between needing J to be there since he's the one employed and being better taken care of if we don't have him around - WEIRD.

Oh! itunes says only 12 more minutes. Maybe I'll make it if it doesn't crash again! I hope I didn't jinx it by putting it down in writing.

Monday, January 26, 2009

NIP - nursing in public

I've been very hesitant to breast feed anywhere in public here. I've been trying very hard not to be offensive to people as I am a visitor in this country and my religion and views on modesty are in the minority here. However, several people have told me they have seen other people, including muslim women, breast feed. So I've attempted to be as inconspicuous as possible and choose my locations carefully. I've ventured out of the ladies toilet and fed Little Man in IKEA on two separate occasions. So far my experience has been similar to in the US, that I am largely unnoticed as I hold a quiet baby to my chest under cover. Hmm... maybe I have been freaking out over nothing.

On another note, last night J and I were speaking to another pilot when he mentioned he was enrolling his son at the Canadian International School and that they were accepting new students and looking for teachers. We visited today. We might be able to get Grace in this year, but we definitely can get her a spot for next fall. They don't have any need for a full time teacher this year, but can use me as a sub and then get me on full time in the fall. I would just have to get the right paperwork with the right stamps to the right people. Ugh! I don't know how anyone gets anything done around here! I left my teaching portfolio in my basement in CO in an unmarked box in storage room that is packed to the rafters. I have NO idea which box has my diploma in it either.

So another paperwork nightmare begins...

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Abu Dhabi Mommy

Photo Sharing - Video Sharing - Photo Printing

Spit up and visas

Today started out OK. I got up feeling pretty good despite a restless night with the baby. He's been throwing up and spitting up more than usual. I'm not sure if he's getting milk in the solid food, if I've been eating too much dairy or if he's sick.

So barring the spit up, things were going pretty smoothly. I took a cool picture of the sunrise over the mosque which I've uploaded it to Facebook. I got LB (my daughter) dressed and out the door on time for school. J (husband) and Mom dropped LB at school and went on to try to get Mom her visa.

While they were gone I thought I'd have a leisurely breakfast. I got the oatmeal made, tea brewing and bread toasting. Then Little Man started to fuss, of course. So I put him in the high chair and made him some cereal, while my breakfast cooled, thinking I could eat and feed him at the same time. Ha! He was crying and fussing by the time I had it made so I left my breakfast to chill while I attempted to feed him. Nope, not happening. He just fussed and cried some more. So I took him out of the highchair, while my oatmeal congealed, tea turned bitter (I left in the tea bag) and toast grew stale and fed him "from the tap". The good news is that he only spit up a little bit and fell asleep.

He slept in the pack-n-play, which is so much more convenient than my arms. I was able to dress and groom myself in peace! I even got some cleaning and laundry done.

The bad news came when Mom and J got home. Regardless of the "no problem" attitude and J's employer, there will be no more sponsoring of in-laws. Mom can't be hired as a nanny because she's American. Huh? My guess is Americans are too expensive. So Mom will stay on a visitor's visa, making a trip out of the country every thirty days while we appeal (not likely to change anything) or Mom or I get a job. I don't think it would be difficult for me to find a job (J was asked if I was interested in a job when he signed LB up for school), but I would have preferred to stay home with the baby. We're going to see if there is anything available for mom first. Double Rat Farts!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

White chairs?

It's Saturday, but feels like Sunday. I wonder if I'll get used to the weekend being Friday and Saturday. I have to remember to pack LB's lunch (LB is little bean or love bug my 3 year old daughter) for school tomorrow.

I've been spending the last few days doing laundry and trying to find places to put things. I hope DH doesn't mind me rearranging his piles to put things away or at least hide them. I've decided that the apartment is far too bare and empty to have piles of junk. In our old house, it blended in and didn't look quite so bad, but when you've got an expanse of shiny tile floor that pile of crap really stands out.

Hubby's friends received their shipment from their last house so they have stuff flowing out the front door into the common hallway. They've decide they didn't need two little white computer desks and we've promised to put them to good use. At last a receptacle for the paper pile. The file cabinet I bought should help too... as soon as I get some hanging file folders.

In a few days we'll receive a delivery from IKEA with a couch, arm chair, footstool and 3 bookcases. We took home a coffee table and a child size table and chairs. I'm not entirely happy with the couch color. I really wanted a particular couch because I found it to be the most comfortable, but there wasn't a huge selection of colors. So I found myself making what I think of as a very American choice. Denim blue and the chair is blue and white strip. Oh well, I can also have a cover made for it later.

Maybe the same guy that made our friend's curtains can make covers for the white dining room chairs that aren't white anymore. It didn't take long, did it? I think I'll have him make roman blinds for our living room windows and curtains for the bedrooms. So much saving money!

I'm going out to a different grocery store this afternoon. I'll write tomorrow about that little adventure.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Sizzle and blood

Yes, we finally have gas! It took a while and a couple of phone calls. "No problem, we'll be there in 30 minutes." Hmm you said that an hour ago... They were supposed to be here yesterday at 10. I think they finally showed around noon and left a little after two. Apparently not only did the gas alarm not work, but the electricity to the solenoid valve wasn't working. I'm afraid to see how it is hooked up, J said something about rubber bands? My first meal was scrambled eggs. Since I hadn't had lunch, we needed something fast. J did buy me really nice cookware.

Of course IKEA arrived exactly when they said they would. So I have my mattress pad and a couple of bookcases. I think I need about 20 more of those bookcases. Where do you put things when there are no coat closets, linen closets, basement or garage??? I have NO idea where I'm going to put anything when my 20 boxes arrive from the states.

After lunch we finally got going to the medical center around 3. It was NOT easy to find. Especially since it wasn't in the building we were told. There is a whole block of hospitals and medical centers and the immigration health tests are held in the Disease Prevention and Screening building (not exactly the same as the preventative medicine department at Khalifa Medical Center). Let's not even get into the dead ends, one way streets and parking lots with random double parked vehicles.,-95.677068&sspn=34.313287,56.601563&ie=UTF8&ll=24.468498,54.367561&spn=0.004814,0.006909&z=17

Once we were in the right place it all went smoothly and efficiently. The women's screenings are on a separate floor from the men so J couldn't go past the first waiting room. First, I got a number by presenting a copy of my entry visa and passport. Then I waited in line in a different room to pay 250Dhm. Once I had paid and had my picture taken, I went through another door and waited for the next available phlebotomist to draw blood. After that was done, it was through another door to wait for the next x-ray technician. She told me to take off my sweater and bra, but leave on my t-shirt....OK... After the chest x-ray (I'm pretty sure I don't have TB), I went through yet another door and ended up in the same waiting room where you pay and then out to the main waiting room where all the men are hanging around waiting (ironic). I have to go back today after 4 to get the results so I can take them to J's company's HR department for my permanent visa application.

After all that, I made a quick (ha ha ha) trip to Carrefour. J waited in the car so I got to go aisle by aisle as slowly as I wanted without anyone sighing or whining. It was really quite pleasant even if it was busy there. Of course I spent way too much time and way too much money, but there you go. I came home to a hot dinner (THANK YOU MOM!!!) and kids in jammies.

Monday, January 19, 2009


I've never lived in a high rise apartment before. I don't think I've lived higher than the 3rd floor in fact. But the last couple of days have been a lesson in physics watching the window washers. We're on the fourth floor (european style so really the 5th) and we got to watch the washers' rig swing on cables back and forth as they did a synchronized squeegee routine. Good thing I got dressed early this morning.

I'm starting to reevaluate my shopping priorities. Maybe curtains should be higher on the list. Right now the top of the list is a couch.

Today J got home about 2AM from his trip. He's sleeping in, but I can't afford to let him have a day off. We need to get to the medical clinic to get my blood test done for my residency. I need to be able to drive! I'm going stir crazy feeling trapped. I guess I could have taken a cab somewhere yesterday but I didn't really NEED to go anywhere.

We also need to go to the grocery store. We're running out of things we can eat without a stove. Maybe they'll really hook it up today. Maybe...

Cooker update

Yep, still no gas! The gas man came this afternoon as promised, tested the gas alarm and said he won't turn on the gas since the alarm doesn't work. He'll come back tomorrow with a guy who can fix the alarm. Seriously!? I have no idea why this is such a big deal to me. We're not starving. We have plenty of things that can be eaten cold, or warmed in the microwave, but I'm getting very cranky about all of this. Tomorrow isn't that far off, but I could just cry.

Sunday, January 18, 2009


I had Pizza Hut for dinner last night. It was pretty good, but I would have preferred to cook myself a meal. Unfortunately, without gas the stove (AKA cooker here) is pretty much useless. We had an appointment with the "gas man" to come between 2 and 5PM. At 4:47 after the gas man didn't answer his phone, I decided to find the number for the Pizza Hut that delivers here. For 73 dirham you can get two medium pizzas and a slice of cheesecake. Not a bad deal (3.67 dirham to a dollar).

At 8AM I called the gas man and... he answered! Woo Hoo! Even better he said he'd come today at 1PM. Wouldn't that be nice. I'm not exactly holding my breath.

Grace is staying home again from school today. I don't think her teacher would want to deal with her, umm... toilet issues...

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Sunday 18 January

We woke up early to get ready for school, but my daughter was still asleep. I was very happy about her sleeping through the night, but when I finally got her up and my husband was getting her dressed, she threw up. So no school today. At least I don't have to take a cab to pick her up from school this afternoon (hubby is working and I can't drive, grrr). My poor little girl. She doesn't have a fever and she seems to be feeling better, but still doesn't want anything to eat.

I used this morning to clean a bit. It seems like every time I turn around there is a layer of very fine dust on everything. So I vacuumed and mopped and scrubbed anywhere the baby had been eating. I haven't figured out what to use on the very shiny tile floors. The all purpose cleaner left streaks. So one more thing to adjust to, how to clean...

This afternoon the gas man should come to hook up my stove, or cooker as they are called here. IKEA should also deliver my mother's bed and mattress. At least the air mattress she's been sleeping on is high quality.

Abu Dhabi Jan 14& 15

Back from another crazy day of shopping. Went to IKEA and got
stuff and ordered stuff. I got my bucket arm chair to sit in. We got
laundry hampers, shower curtains, room curtains and enough stuff to
fill a cart. We're having 3 shelving units delivered along with a
mattress pad to cushion my side of the bruiser of a firm mattress that
my dear hubby (DH) picked.

OMG! It's the 15th. We had the stove, washer and dryer delivered and
installed today. Simple right? Wrong! The stove is gorgeous, too
bad I still can't use it. That's right, we have a gas line, but we
need someone to hook it up. The good news is that we're finally doing
a load of laundry. The bad news is that tomorrow starts the weekend
so it will be Sunday the 18th before someone can hook up the stove. I
think the last time I cooked a meal was about the 5th or 6th. I just
want to have a home cooked meal, nothing fancy, just spaghetti or

DH is out trying to find a hardware store that will sell him anchors
for the concrete walls so he can hang the curtains.  I'm really looking forward to knowing where things can be purchased and even more driving myself there.  I can't drive our car until I have a UAE drivers license.  I can't get a drivers license until I get my permanent residency.  I can't get my permanent residency until I get my blood test.  I can't get my blood test until I drive down to the clinic, but I don't have a drivers license!  I guess I'll will wait until my DH is available to drive me, not that I can shop by myself until I get a bank card in my name...

17th Jan

The kids got up at 5:30 this morning. That's loads better than 3:30,
but I do look forward to the days when they both sleep through the
night and stay asleep until a reasonable hour.

My daughter wants to go swimming again so here we are at 7:00 AM and
she's already in her bathing suit. I told her we need to wait for
either her dad or nana to get up to watch her brother. It think I've
stalled her for at least an hour or so. In the meantime, we've got
catch up homework. Yep, my 3 year old has homework. Her teacher
wants her to do the worksheets that the other kids have done in
class earlier this year like tracing letters, circling words with the same beginning
sounds, etc.

I've been trying to get this place tidied up which is difficult when there really isn't anyplace to put anything. I did notice something
last night. All the piles seemed to have only one person's things, my
husband's. Hmm...

Yesterday was Friday and the first day of the weekend.  We went down to the Corniche where they have a family playground with another pilot and his family.  One of the climbing structures is shaped like a pirate ship.  The kids had a blast playing.  Then we walked down the waterfront to a cafe for lunch.  It is really beautiful here.  One thing that was a little different was that the cafe was on the men's beach which is separated from the ladies and family beach by a solid wooden fence.  Apparently single men can not be trusted around women in bathing suits.  

After lunch we went to IKEA again. We were going to take the kids in with us, but after a morning of romping on the playground both fell asleep in the car. Nana stayed in the car while hubby and I ran in and got a couple of things. I've been actually cold in the middle of the night. 

When I arrived in Abu Dhabi my husband had purchased mattresses, fitted sheets, pillows and pillow cases and a couple of very light weight bed spreads. They are not in fact any thicker than a sheet. He did buy our daughter a complete comforter and duvet cover, and my mother got her own at the first IKEA trip. I
was waiting until I choose a bed to decide what duvet cover I wanted, but
I gave in and bought something yesterday. I got black and white so
hopefully it will go with any bed we choose.

I also got extra pillows, light bulbs for mom's IKEA lamp, more drawer
bins... I don't know what I'd do without IKEA! I've started a very long wish list. The top of the list has sofas and more storage units, but a bed would be nice too.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


Well for the second day in a row, I'm up at 4AM.  The baby keeps waking up with a snotty nose, so congested that he can't eat and fall back to sleep.  So we keep taking showers at 3AM to get his nose clear enough to eat.  It worked last night, and were were getting back to sleep by now.  Of course it couldn't work two nights in a row.  He's able to breath, but he's wide awake...

The good news is that he's now asleep in his own bed.  The bad news is that is is 5Am and I'm wide awake.  

I've decided I need a comfortable chair to sit in.  The dining room chairs are OK, but not not really designed for nursing a baby and those are the ONLY chairs we currently own.  Oh, I'm forgetting the highchair.  Maybe I can convince my husband and mother to spend money on one of those IKEA bucket armchairs. 


I smashed my computer, the laptop that I bought about 2 weeks ago.  Ugh!  The screen is a mess of cracks, but it seems to still be working aside from the appearance of the screen.  I was carrying the baby and the computer up the concrete steps from the wifi spot to our building.  I slipped and smashed the computer and my left knee.  They baby is fine, although scared.  My knee is a little sore and stingy from the scrape, but the computer took the brunt of the fall.  I'm not sure it can be fixed here.  My husband's friend seems to thing they may be able to just replace the glass, since the screen itself is still working.  I hope so.

Today was our first day without my husband.  He was flying to Cairo.  This also meant no car, and since he forgot to leave the cash he got out to give me, NO money.  He had to work at 11AM, so we just had time for him to drive our daughter to school and me to the grocery store.  Tomorrow we are supposed to get our fridge, stove, washer and dryer, so I couldn't buy much at the store that didn't need to be refrigerated or cooked.  It wasn't as much fun picking out appliances as I would have thought.  I think the time crunch and the fact that I still have jet lag kept me from enjoying the thought of finally having matching appliances.  Although, I have been playing with the new microwave grill function.  You add a metal rack, set it to "grill" and it actually toasts a piece of bread quite nicely.  

A friend picked up my daughter from school today and brought her home.  This afternoon she invited us to see her apartments.  She has one that she's moving into that's mostly empty awaiting their shipment of furniture from her house in Italy, and the furnished apartment that they are staying in now.  I need to get the name of the person who made her drapes.

I also rally need to go back to IKEA and Carrefour.  Carrefour reminds me a lot of SuperTarget.  Well, more like Safeway plus a Whole Foods, plus a BigLots or Kmart upstains.  I got my electric tea kettle and mop upstairs, and Lebanese olives downstairs.  Carrefour is about 20 minutes from the apartment and IKEA about 40.

My daughter was so tired that when we got back to our apartment after eating dinner at our friend's, she said she was going to her room.  I figured she was going to play with the dollhouse, but she changed into her jammies by herself and by the time I finished making her lunch for tomorrow, she was asleep.

The baby is asleep in his room and my daughter in hers.  That's a first.  His room may be small since it is intended to be a maid's room, but it is still nice that he has one.  Last night my daughter fell asleep in my bed right after her bath.  She woke up when her brother did, so no wonder she's so tired today.  At least I got a nap.  

On the way in between apartments, I noticed that the playground was full of kids playing and running around.  Maybe it is a good thing we won't have TV for a few more weeks.  The kids are all having fun outside.  Imagine.  Also there aren't any morbidly obese people here.  There is the occasional overweight person, but nothing like you see the US. 

The local food is wonderful if a bit salty.  My husband took us to his favorite place he found while staying in the hotel and everything was super yummy.  My daughter hasn't asked for mac n cheese once.  Of course, I'm making her PB& J for lunch everyday.  

I wish I could say that I'm all unpacked, but I don't have any place to put stuff.  I've got to get bathroom storage (all the baths are pedestal sinks) and dressers or some sort of bins for the closets.  I only brought one dress and long hanging is more than 3/4 of my closet.  I don't have a desk or anything to hold the computers and all our papers.  I don't have shower curtains.  Well the fridge and stove were the priority.  Maybe I can go shopping tomorrow with friends or my husband if he isn't called out to work (he's on reserve tomorrow).  

Well, I'm here.  This is the first time I've made it to the apartment complex's wifi spot with a charged lap top.  We were floating one plug adapter between several appliances after we finally got one from my husband's hotel room.  

It has been a crazy few days.  The trip from Colorado was long, but not as hard as I expected.  Airport security at 11PM is so much less stressful than when it is busy.  It's a good thing because we had a TON of stuff   We checked 9 bags and still had about 9 carry on bags.  The flight to JFK was uneventful and both kids slept almost all of the way.  

When we got to JFK, we had to pick up ALL of our bags and take them to the international terminal.  We put our jackets in the suitcases and followed a porter with a cart piled haphazardly with many of our bags.  He, for some reason, decided we needed to go OUTSIDE in sub-freezing weather to get to the adjoining terminal building.  He had us chasing after him for about 1/2 a mile carrying the other half our luggage and pushing one stroller and one carseat with wheels attached (with my 3 year old in it).  Nice!  At least we missed the 6 inches of snow in NY the very next day.   

Once checked in and in our gate area we had a few hours wait.  My mother occupied my 8 month old son while I played on the moving walkway with my daughter.  I was surprised by how many young men in uniform were in the terminal.  

The flight to Abu Dhabi went much quicker than expected.  My son was a lap child, but my daughter and I were bumped up to business class.  Because we bought my mother's seat instead of having it provided by the airline as part of the signing package, she was stuck in coach.  The business class was pretty cool.  The seats recline to a bed in it's own little pod and we each had a TV.   We all slept for a good portion of the flight.  The rest was surprisingly pleasant with the inflight entertainment computer/tv and really fabulous flight attendants. 

Once we arrived, I found that the apartment is EMPTY!!!  I need everything from coat hangers, trash cans, curtains, a stove, fridge, dishwasher, microwave, shower curtains... the list is ever growing...  I even need a mop!  

We did manage to get a few things at IKEA the day we arrived including the delivery of the bed and mattresses that my husband ordered before we got here.  Day two we ordered appliances, although we decided to leave the dishwasher for later.

The weather here is beautiful.  There is just a  slight breeze and a few clouds keeping it cool.  At night my toes get a little cold, but there are people in shorts at midnight.  This place is flatter than Kansas, but with all the construction on every corner (literally), traffic (seriously crazy drivers - rules seem to be optional), and palm trees, I really feel like I could be in LA.  We're just missing the Mexican food.

I've had a girls night upstairs at the apartment of my husband's classmate and another classmate's wife took me to Carrefour, the supermarket.   Carrefour has a moving sidewalk between levels that you can take the shopping cart up and down.  

My 3 year old started school on Sunday as Friday through Saturday is the weekend off.  She LOVES it!  Her class is called the Cuddly Camels.  She'll be learning Arabic three times a week with her class.  It's a good thing considering everywhere you look things are in both languages.  They have many US name brands with Arabic printed on it.  

I can't get my driver's license until I have my permanent residency, which is still a few weeks off.  So, I can't drive the car my husband bought and we are relying on the same friends that took me shopping to drive my daughter back and forth on days that her father is traveling.  Fortunately, the have a son enrolled at the same school.

Well, I know this post is a bit disjointed, but I haven't had enough sleep and only a few moments to get on the internet at all...

Welcome to my blog

At the request of friends and family I'm starting a blog about my adventure.  I arrived in Abu Dhabi 4 days ago and I'm not sure how I feel about anything at the moment.  Since this is a public site you won't see me naming names.  Email me if you get confused and if I actually know you, then I'll try to answer any questions.  

Last spring my husband found out he may be laid off from his job as an airline pilot.  The timing wasn't great because I was nearly ready to have our second child, but it could have been worse.  I was able to have the baby before the lay off notices came out.   My first child, a daughter, has been really amazing through everything.  Becoming a big sister, having Daddy GONE for nearly 3 months (over Christmas no less), and moving across the world.  

My husband looked into jobs all over the world and, in fact, took the first job offered.  Not long after,  he left for training in Abu Dhabi.  He left me to pack and rent out the house, sell, store or ship our belongings including two cars while taking care of two children under four.  

I would be in the psych ward if it were not for my mother dropping everything to join us on this adventure and my friends and neighbors pitching in to make it happen.

Things seem to happen either ridiculously fast or slow.  There is no in between.  We got our tickets finalized the day before leaving.  We got our visas the day we left.  It has all been crazy.

The following two posts are from the emails which prompted my friends and family to bug me into this blog.