Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Our Daily "Hotel" Life in Al Ain

Time to play has been a little over a week since my last post.

Mon., Feb. 10 - The kids and I got up early, had breakfast, and then headed out to a friend's place to do some laundry. One of the many wonderful things about being an expat in the UAE is you have an instant circle of friends! We are all living in a foreign country so we band together to help each other out and help each other learn about this amazing country we are in. Being a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) we are used to this type of instant "family" within our Church and it is even stronger here! While I was doing laundry and visiting with my friend our children had a great time playing together! Then she surprised us by taking us to a local mall and out to lunch at Papa John's! This was also hubby's first day at his new job! is going to be much harder than we thought BUT we still feel this is where we are supposed to be and that all the pros will outweigh the difficulty of the job. Let's just say that 6th grade Arab boys aren't any better behaved than 6th grade boys in the US of A!

Tues., Feb. 11 - After another wonderful breakfast, the kids did some school work and then we checked out the pools (yes, plural, as in 3 pools)! They had a blast! After swimming, we ran everyone through the showers and Unicorn got ready for the Church Youth Activity...they played ping-pong and then cleaned the church building (a rather large Villa). Today hubby had to fill in for a math teacher that was gone to training. He said the day flew by but that he felt like he was thrown to the wolves! He is glad he gets to shadow the other teacher for a couple more days!

Can you see Ladybug? She is getting ready to go down the water slide!
Wed., Feb. 12 - One of these days I need to remember to take my camera to breakfast as it is quite the spread! After breakfast the kids did their schoolwork and we headed out to the mall. We signed the kids up for ice skating lessons, bought a flat iron, and tried to find some jeans for me (I have lost 5 pounds since we got here and my jeans don't fit anymore) and failed. On Wednesdays (and Mondays), hubby has professional development after school so he is home a bit later than usual.
Ladybug school (with a Monkey in the mirror)
Monkey School
Unicorn School ?!? (looks uncomfortable to me)!
Thurs., Feb. 13 - Thursday is the new Friday! Yippee! Hubby survived his first week! The kids and I enjoyed another day of school work and the pool. We also found the trampoline that is at the hotel! Monkey and Ladybug had a BLAST jumping (poor Unicorn is to old for the trampoline). We had a nice relaxing evening as a family and then ran everyone through the showers again as Friday is the new Sunday! ;)

Probably not a bad way for a red-head to sunbathe!
Monkey sunbathing?
Ladybug catching some rays!
She loves the water slide!
Monkey enjoying the water slide.
I think we wore him out!
Fri., Feb. 14 - The Muslim Sabbath is on Friday so Friday is our new Sunday and off to church we went! Our little Branch is just that...LITTLE! We had 45 people in attendance and we meet in a nice Villa! The kids call it "Villa Church"! Since they knew we were coming there were lots of hugs and many people were glad to finally meet us!
Valentine's Display at the hotel
Sat., Feb. 15 - I got a massage and a detox body wrap!!! Then we took a family field trip the the mall to get some more long sleeve dress shirts for hubby to wear to work and I finally found a couple pair of jeans that fit...and a cute new top!

Sun., Feb. 16 - It was back to work for hubby...his first day going solo with his own classes. It wasn't too bad, only 3 forty-five minute classes! He also got his schedule and he will have 3-4 classes of 6th grade science each day. He has to be at his school by 7. The boys do stretching, read from the Koran and sing the National Anthem at 7:15 and then classes start at 7:30. The boys are finished at 1:15 and the teachers can leave at 1:30 (except for Mon and Wed when they have professional development until 3:00). The kids and I hung out at the pool and the trampoline again (tough life, I know)! Around 5 in the evening we got an email that all the new (middle and high school) teachers would be heading to Abu Dhabi for training for the next 3 days and to call if they needed hotel accommodations. Hubby decided to catch a ride with his normal carpool and come back to Al Ain each night. Unicorn went to Seminary in the evening.

Mon., Feb. 17 - Hubby was up early and off to Abu Dhabi for training. The kids and I had breakfast, did some school work and headed off to the mall for their ice skating lessons. Have to say I was impressed as the have NEVER ice skated before. They got out on the ice about 20 minutes before their lessons and started trying to figure out how to move on the ice. Then they had about 25 minutes of lessons and the girls were able to ditch the "walkers"! The practiced for another 45 minutes or so and then I had to drag them off the ice so we could go get some lunch! They have begging to go back ever since we left! If they still like skating after a few more lessons we will sign them up for lessons on Wednesdays too! After lunch we found a nice little clothing store that had some cute clothes for kids and we picked up a few items for the kids.
Ladybug before her lesson
Monkey before his lesson
Unicorn and Ladybug before their lesson
Lesson time!
Unicorn skating without the walker
Ladybug without the walker
Racing to the other end of the rink
Not bad for first timers!
Monkey without the walker
Monkey going all the way around the rink after his lesson
Practicing after their lesson
Ladybug not wanting to leave!
Tues., Feb. 18 - Laundry and play dates again! In fact, we had 2 play dates today! Lots of fun. Unicorn had a Youth Activity in the evening. They went to the Rugby Club and played Frisbee Golf!

Wed., Feb. 19 -Today we caught up with some school work after a busy week. Hopefully we will make it to the pool tomorrow! Insha'Allah (means God willing...a VERY common phrase here)! Hubby was able to pick up his passport with his permanent resident visa today and get some information from the bank too. We have a local account and our housing allowance but no house or bank card! No will all happen eventually!
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Sunday, February 9, 2014

Going with the Flow...Abu Dhabi Style

The teachers were told on Wednesday (Feb. 5) to be ready to move to Al Ain by 9am on Thursday. Well, 9am came and went (and so did my children's patience). We hung out at the hotel all day and tried not to go crazy. While we waited we went down to the "beach" behind the hotel and the kids played in the sand for a bit.
Friday (Feb. 7), we decided to take a risk and we headed out to church. We had a nice time with the Abu Dhabi 2nd Ward of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons). When we got back to the hotel the papers were posted and we learned that we were going to be moving to Al Ain on Saturday at noon. So, we changed clothes and headed out to find some lunch/dinner. We ended up back at the mall and had Pizza Hut for dinner (it was very yummy)! Then we went back to the hotel and finished up packing.
Saturday (Feb. 8), we enjoyed our last breakfast at the IBIS Hotel in Abu Dhabi, did the last bit of packing and headed off to the lobby to catch our transport to Al Ain. Our hotel is the Danat Resort and it is wonderful. We have 2 rooms each with 2 beds so no one is sleeping on the floor! The breakfast here is much better (more variety) and there is more to do within a close vicinity.

Sunday (Feb. 9), hubby headed off to the ADEC offices to see if he was going to remain a reserve teacher or if they were going to place him. He returned 2 hours after he left and now has a placement...and he learned he will be teaching science instead of math! After he got back we headed out to Al Ain Mall for lunch and to purchase phones. We had a nice lunch at Applebee's, got our phones and got some information about ice skating lessons for the kids. Then back to the hotel to relax and play at the park. At 7pm, Unicorn headed off to seminary!
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Wednesday, February 5, 2014

We made it to Abu Dhabi {Airsickness, Jetlag, ER, Meetings and Placement}

They weren't kidding when they told us to be ready because when the tickets finally come things start moving FAST!
7 of the 8 bags we checked...we also had a personal bag that we carried on

We left Phoenix, Arizona at about 10 am (about 40 min late) on Saturday, February 1st. We flew American Airlines and it was an typical no frills flight. We had a nice tailwind so we were still able to land in Chicago on time at 1:45 pm.
Phoenix airport waiting to board.
Monkey and Unicorn
Daddy and Ladybug
In Chicago, we had a 6 hour layover so we ate some dinner at Chili's, and then headed to the international terminal. Since we had to leave security to get to the international terminal we were able to meet up with Hubby's sister who lives in Chicago. We spent a good hour or so catching up with her before we headed back through security to wait to board our flight. This flight also left a bit late due to the weather in Chicago. It was a LONG flight but the kids did well. Monkey slept almost the entire time (he wasn't feeling well), Ladybug and Unicorn watched movies and ate and slept. While the flight crew was nice and everyone had their own TV it was still a bit cramped. We also had quite a bit of turbulence which eventually caught up with Ladybug, she got a bit airsick just as we were getting ready to land. Even with they delay getting off the ground we landed in Abu Dhabi on time. We were greeted by the travel agency and 5 other ADEC teachers. The travel agent helped us all move through customs and baggage claim very quickly and smoothly and got us set up with transport to our hotel.
Ladybug really liked the sleep kit they gave out on the flight
Once we got to the hotel, we checked in. Here came some disappointment. We were only given one small room for the 5 of us and the room was was so small that there wasn't any room for an extra bed or anything. We requested some extra bedding and the kids were awesome and made the best of sleeping on hard wood floors.

On Monday, many other teachers had orientation but those who came in late Sunday night didn't have to go. Instead, we made inquiries into our room situation and took Monkey to the emergency room. Considering it was an ER visit it was actually not to bad. There wasn't much waiting and we paid $65 for the Dr. visit and the prescriptions. Monkey has an upper respiratory infection and now has antibiotics and cough medicine. After we got back from the ER we got a call from the hotel manager. Apparently, we had been booked in under Monkey's name instead of Hubby's name (they both have the same first name) and since Monkey doesn't have any dependents we were given 1 room. Well, we now have 2 rooms and we are sleeping much better!
The original room, now Mom, Dad, and Monkey's room
The additional room for Ladybug and Unicorn
view from our windows
view from our windows
view from our windows
Tuesday, the teachers had to get up bright and early for their medical exams. They had to meet in the lobby at 5:45 am to leave by 6 am! While hubby was off being poked, prodded and x-ray(ed) the kids and I hung out at the hotel and explored what it had to offer. Since Monkey is still not feeling well we didn't do much exploring. Hubby and the other teachers had to give blood (to check for HIV and TB), urine samples, have a chest x-ray, be weighed, measured, and have a general check-up. Since hubby missed the orientation on Monday, the other teachers were released and he and a small group had to go set up their bank accounts and take care of paperwork that the others did on Monday.

Once he got back to the hotel we hopped in a cab and went to a local mall for dinner and to grab some food for our hotel room (to help save some money). Also today, Monkey started to eat again. He hadn't eaten much since we left the states and it is nice that he is starting to feel better. After dinner, Hubby had to fill out some paperwork for our housing.

Wednesday, Hubby had to get up for an orientation with ADEC and other school officials. We were all awake when he had to leave so we all had breakfast together. The kids and I hung out at the hotel again. Around 10 am Hubby called to tell us he won't be back until around 2:30 and that we got our city placement! We are going to be in Al Ain! This is where we were hoping to be. Other interesting news is that he is going to be a "reserve" teacher for the rest of this year. While we don't know all the details of that we do know that it is similar to be a substitute teacher but he will get paid whether he has to work everyday or not!

Hubby, Ladybug, and Unicorn seem to be adjusting to the new time pretty well. Monkey is having trouble (mostly because he slept so much being sick and all) and because he is struggling so am I. Each day is better than the one before!

Not sure what the rest of the day holds for us but I think we will start with Monkey's medications and some lunch...then maybe some swimming in the hotel pool!

UPDATE: Yes, it has only been a few hours and I already have an update. Looks like we will be moving to Al Ain TOMORROW! So much for the pool here...time to re-pack!
Monkey eating Fruit Loops ( least he is finally eating)!

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