Well after my brother-in-law left we took a day trip to Al Ain. It is about 1.5 hours away from us. We went to take the kids to the zoo there. It was very hot and most of the animals were trying to sleep in the shade. Somehow I always manage to go to zoo's when it's to hot. We then headed up to Jebel Hafeet which is the second tallest mountain in the UAE. It is a very nice drive and very beautiful. We had dinner at the hotel on top and decided that we would come back and spend the night on another day.
We spent another day visiting some sights in Abu Dhabi. The first was Heritage Village. This is supposed to be a place that explains the culture of the place. We spent less than 30 minutes there. They were a nice 30 minutes though. They had some live animals that the girls enjoyed seeing and petting. They showed how the people lived here in the old days and there were a few shops selling traditional souvenirs. There was a restaurant also but we decided to go somewhere else to eat. We ate at Havana cafe. We enjoyed it. The service wasn't to great but have found that it is not in a lot of places here. The food was really good and inexpensive. We ate outside overlooking the corniche (the beach) and the girls played at the playground they had while we waited for our food.
We also went to Atlantis in Dubai. They have an awesome waterpark, indoor aquariums, and great food. The girls had a really good time and we would have loved to stay longer but 1 night cost us around 3000 dirhams ($800).
Thanksgiving was around the corner and I had this great idea that we were still going to have Thanksgiving even if we were alone. Then I started thinking why am I going to make all this food and let it go to waste so we ordered Italian take out. I had the girls draw pictures of turkeys for their grandma to post on fb and we talked about what we were thankful for. Hannah and Layla knew all the right things to say but Maya was only thankful for her toys and her cat Roxy (who lives at grandma's house now). Later on I skyped with my mom while she had everyone over for Thanksgiving. It was nice to see everyone together and having fun. I was secretly worried that they might not all get together because I knew my mom was depressed about me not being there.
After Thanksgiving we headed back to Al Ain to stay at the Mecure Jebel Hafeet hotel. We took the girls to swim for most of the day, had a lunch buffet overlooking the beautiful mountain view and then headed to our room to clean up. When we headed back outside we discovered how cold it became. We spent the rest of the night relaxing in our room watching cartoons and American news (that was a highlight since my American news comes from yahoo and msn now). The next day it was so cold I felt like I was back in Indy. I did not miss the coldness and we were ready to escape the mountain as quickly as possible. We left the hotel at 10:30 and check-out time wasn't until 12:00. I don't believe that has ever happened to us. So on the way home: My wonderful husband had been driving me nuts to do some dune driving and although he knew of my real thoughts on the situation I told him go ahead but when we get stuck you will go and find someone to get us out. So he pulls into the sand with a big grin on his face and what happens. He gets stuck. It takes him a little time but he gets us out and finally I think it sinks in that he needs to take some lessons or go out with someone a little more experienced than me.
Had to pay the doctor a visit this week and boy was that an experience. I had been to this same place for my daughter and the experience was good. This was a different story. This place makes my doctors, that I complained about back home, look like they are the best. I was really really sick for a couple days. My husband has been great at taking care of me and the girls have been so kind and helpful.
Today is the National holiday here. This country became the UAE 39 years ago. It is hard to believe that it is only 6 years older than me. Its hard to imagine what it must have been like when my husband grew up here. Since we live next to the Corniche where the biggest partying goes on we decided to walk over and see the action. I had never seen the parks and streets so full. The Emiraties have their cars all decked out with their flag colors, teddy bears tied down and pictures of the Sheiks. They were spraying silly string everywhere and the girls got to join in on the fun. It was exciting to watch. We saw a man with a sponge wrapped around him and somehow secured to the hood of a car with his friends driving him around. We saw a lot of other crazy dangerous things. It is no wonder the number one cause of death here is from a car accident. They have lights up everywhere (skyscrapers, palms trees, light poles). Horns are honking. Engines are reving up. People are whistling. Fireworks are going off. The police are out in full force. I am wondering how the kids and husband are sleeping through it. Also wondering how many people die tonight in car accidents.
Although it is their holiday time here (It is also the New Year for the muslim calender) I find things to remind me of Christmas everywhere. There was a Christmas tree at the doctors office. Took the kids to the mall today and the toy store was playing Christmas music and wrapping presents with Christmas wrapping paper. Have to admit that this was making me quite sad to be away from my family (brought a tear to my eye). Christmas trees are popping up everywhere. They even give the school 2 weeks off in honor Christmas for many of the teachers are Christians. Have to commend them for this because our schools back home don't give everyone the day off for muslim and jewish holidays.
Which brings me to a whole other subject. The kids have way to many holidays from school here. Don't get me wrong I love having the extra time with them but I have started to enjoy having a little free time to myself. I finally applied to get my pharmacy license here. Don't know where it will take me but it was on my checklist of things to do. My to do list has shrunk since I moved here and so there are only five things (minus 1 now) that I would like to do for myself. Which is actually a relief. I always felt like I had a million things to do back home and never enough time to get them done.
The girls brought home their report cards this week. Hannah and Layla came home with scores of 98% or higher. Their teacher has started giving them extra homework and reading as we have both determined that they are at a higher level in English and Math. Maya receives a number scale 1-4 with one being the best. She received all ones with the exception of 3 (3's). She has a problem listening and talks to much and is not so good at memorizing the Quran (who would be at 4 years old). Arabic is one of the hardest languages. Maya is definitely a wild child. We were wondering how she could sit still in class and not talk. Guess she doesn't. But the teacher still says she is great and she loves helping the other kids with their work.
I will spend the next 2 weeks working on my list and then the girls will be out of school for 2 weeks. No plans yet.
Will keep you posted.
We took my brother-in-law to see Dubai last weekend. I took the girls to Ski Dubai (an indoor ski place). It was freezing cold inside. I did not miss the snow but the girls loved it. I did not think it was worth it to take the kids. They only had 3 tube/tobaggan slides for them and it was pricey. Now if you really enjoy skiing it would probably be worth it to go with adults. The skiing area did look fun but since my kids are to little I did not get to give it a try.
We did not make it to the safari because we were exhausted from the Dubai trip.
I was not sure how Halloween would turn out here but it was very nice. My friend Ashley invited us to here neighborhood where there were tons of kids trick or treating. Layla was super woman. Hannah was a bride. Maya was a bee. I did have a hard time finding costumes so we had to recycle from last year. Maybe next year I will get creative with all my free time and make them a costume. ????? Maybe.
The girls have exams all week at school so we will be studying this week. School started out very easy. The girls would get 100% on everything which was not the usual back home. It is starting to get a little more challenging. I will see how it goes after these exams. Arabic is going well for them. Layla who said she hated speaking arabic and did not want to learn it is now the most motivated. She is starting to say little phrases around the house. It is so cute. In the process hopefully I will become better.
As for a job. It is now a must that I learn more arabic in order to work as a pharmacist. I need to take an oral arabic exam in order to get my license here. I am thinking this is going to be a long process. Since my brother-in-law has been here I haven't work on it much. Since he is leaving now I will try to spend some time working on this.
Eid is coming up (another Muslim holiday). My husband will be off work for a week and the kids will be off also. We don't have plans yet but it will be nice to have some time off with the family.
Then the girls have 2 weeks off for Christmas break too. They have put out Christmas stuff in the stores which is making me a little homesick. I have never missed a Christmas with my family. I am anticipating it will be a depressing time for me. I know people live away from their families I just wonder how they handle it. Guess I will find out. Hopefully next year I will be able to go home to visit at Christmas time.
My mom will be happy to know that I took the girls to Emirates Palace yesterday to an art exhibit. They have really been into drawing thanks to my mom so I thought they would enjoy it. I felt a little under dressed in my jeans. People really fix themselves up here. It felt like a cocktail party. It turned out nice though. They had some really good artists there. The girls and I really enjoyed it. Maya decided that we needed to go by some paints so she could be a museum girl when she grows up.
I finally visited a salon to get my hair and eyebrows done. The Sisters Lounge was very nice and just opened 3 months ago. I found out about it through the Time Out Abu Dhabi magazine that comes out weekly. It was listed as a good salon and listed the haircut price as 150 dirhams (~$40). When I go to pay the bill it turns out to be 790 dirhams ($215). OMGosh. I almost had a stroke. Turns out the place is owned by the royal family and the people working there take care of the royal family. And a haircut for 150 does not include wash and style and blow-dry. It is strictly a trim. So by the time I did highlighting and haircut and eyebrows I racked up $230 with the tip included. I will definitely try and find a better deal next time.
I have a car now so I am getting out and about. Driving has become much easier and it is fairly easy to find my way around.
Today I attended a newcomers event for the American Woman's Network in Abu Dhabi. There were about 50 woman there but most were not in my generation. The majority seemed to be in there 50's. They do offer a lot of networking (book club, coffee gatherings, movie nights, talks, sightseeing, etc..) with Americans but not sure I will go back due to the age difference. Nothing against the older generation were just not doing the same things. Most of their kids are grown and back in the states.
Plans for the weekend: Head to Dubai and go on a safari trip in AD
Just woke up from a nap and feeling like it is probably time for me to write again. I get a lot of these naps these days.
We had an interesting week. I thought my husband might be in jail for calling a man an F_____ing liar. He was really upset because some guy hit his car then parked and proceeded to the coffee shop to drink coffee. When the police arrived the guy said he didn't hit the car. My husband cursed and then the guy said he was going to report him and he did. Four hours later the police called an told my husband to come in. Turns out that being an American and working for the military hospital were on his side. The guy was considered at fault after investigation of the cars.
That night my brother-in-law arrived from America to visit his brother. He broughts a whole suitcase full of stuff for us from America. That was a nice treat. Some things we are used to in America we were not able to find here or they were overpriced (vitamins for the kids, crest white strips, shower curtain, clothes, and some toys and books for the kids). Also recieved a book written by a wonderful lady back in Indy who developed breast cancer a couple years back. I was looking forward to reading it when my water heater exploded in my bathroom. I had put the book there so I could read it when I took a bath. It rained in my bathroom for an hour before the guy got here to fix it. Needless to say it was a little wet. So now I am waiting for it to dry.
Also discovered this week that I will not be working here unless I learn some Arabic. They have a new licensing program for pharmacists and you need to pass an arabic exam in order to get the license. I will be working on that now (slowly).
See 3 Emrati women at the beach take off their abaya to get some air.
See Emrati's sitting at the bar.
What an amazing place. I think I should write a book but haven't found a good idea yet.