Thursday, November 29, 2012

"Leave the Car and Walk with Pride"

Article regarding UAE National Day, December 2, 2012.

"Leave the Car and Walk with Pride"

Cops fed up with National Day traffic chaos warn that vehicles involved in unofficial parades will be clamped


Traffic police in Dubai have had enough of unruly road users spoiling the UAE's big day and have vowed to clamp down on menacing motorists this weekend - literally.
Officers have warned that steering wheels will be locked and cars clamped if drivers are found parading around Dubai in convoys during celebrations for UAE's 41st National Day.  Instead of hopping in cars and honking horns to celebrate, residents have been urged to out out and walk with friends as they embrace the occasion.
General Mohammed Saif Al Zafeen, head of Dubai Traffic Police, said: "All car parades are banned this year.  I want people to march on foot to celebrate this year."
However, Al Zafeen said the force is prepared for the potential chaos on the roads with 500 officers on the streets on Saturday and Sunday.
"Our patrols will be everywhere on these two days," he added.  "We will clamp cars violating these rules at the side of the road or lock the steering wheels for at least eight hours.  Drivers must respect traffic laws.  Celebrating National Day is not a reason to commit violations.  On National Day weekend last year we seized about 1,000 vehicles."
Al Zafeen added: "They were seized for different violations and the top reason for doing so was motorists' reckless and noisy driving.  Some drivers were even caught spraying colored aerosols on other road users and passerby and throwing rubbish from vehicles.  This is not acceptable."  He warned: "All the chaos is usually focused on Jumeriah Beach Road.  We will seize cars for a minimum of three months if people commit violations." 
However, the traffic cop said it is not only Dubai resident to blame.  "For three years we have seen the same behavior and same chaos happening," he said.  "People come from other provinces and even from GCC countries to commit violations on Dubai roads." 
Statistics show 24 accidents and 1,345 traffic offenses were recorded last year.  A child, who was hanging out of a car, [you see that ALL the time...] died when the driver made a sharp turn.  Al Zafeen added: "There was a case of a pregnant woman in labor who was stuck in traffic for hours in Jumeriah.  She almost gave birth inside the vehicle.  I know people who book in hotels outside Dubai to escape from the noise on Jumeriah Beach Road."

Our 1st Thanksgiving as Husband & Wife

Friends Season 10 - The One With the Late Thanksgiving

We had two Thanksgivings this year.  The first was on the beach with some of Ben's, David's, Naomi's and Casey's friends from their masters class.  It was great to meet new people and they were all so welcoming and sweet.. Good people. :) They also loved and raved about my homemade biscuits so that won them all bonus points as well!

On Friday after Thanksgiving, Naomi and I prepared a Thanksgiving feast for our Dubai family. (Dubai family = Naomi, Casey, David, Ben & me).  We put a lot of last minute thought into what we wanted to do (probably should have started planning a bit earlier....) and everything turned out wonderfully. We got together around 9:30 a.m. to finalize our menu and went to Lulu's (grocery store) to pick up what we needed.  Naomi and I cooked our first turkey together with the help of conversations with our mothers and MIL's and the internet. The turkey was kosher so we didn't have to brine it which was nice.  We made Ben take out the innards because neither of us wanted to stick our hand in there. I cut up an onion to put inside and was throwing the pieces in until Ben came over and just shoved them all in. He he..... We forgot fresh rosemary, so we sprinkled some dried rosemary inside and on the outside of the turkey. We also melted some butter and poured over top of the turkey and then shoved it in the oven! Aside from turkey we also had stuffing, roast sweet potatoes (which were put in the microwave to be reheated and left until the next morning....oops.), homemade biscuits, turkey gravy, sweet potato pie, snow pie, [made by Ben/me], mashed potatoes [made by David], green bean casserole, corn casserole, cranberry sauce, apple crisp and a couple appetizers [made by Naomi/Casey]. We hosted supper at our place and ate 2 hours later than expected and then did dessert, homemade hot chocolate with Baileys and National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation at the K's. It was really quite wonderful.

While we missed our family and friends, it was truly a great Thanksgiving!  It was a learning experience in having to cook everything ourselves, but it was a lot of fun to cook everything and prepare a large meal with my loving husband.  We work very well together in the kitchen and we really enjoy cooking together.  Part of the way through cooking Ben took over getting things in and out of the oven.  I tend to burn myself a lot and he doesn't.  I happily accepted his help.  We also learned how expensive it is to put together such a large meal and how much time and effort is put into getting everything ready.  At the end of the day both Ben and I were ready to just sit/lay down and relax.  My old lady body was aching and Ben said he was sore from everything as well.  Kudos to our mothers.  This experience was yet another thing that makes me marvel at how much of a rock star my mom is. 

Shopping for all of the food was a bit of a challenge here.  Naomi and I went to Geant and got some of the things we needed on Thursday.  On Friday morning we went to Choithrams, a British grocery store, and got the remainder of what we needed.  I was excited to find Cool Whip but disappointed that they didn't have Pillsbury frozen pie crusts.  Those taste almost as good as homemade crusts and are much easier.  Ben kind of scoffed at me for wanting pre-made pie crusts, giving me the, "Well my mom always makes her own...", bit.  (FYI - my mother-in-law is the queen of pies... SO good!).  I appointed him pie crust maker for our two pies and he quickly learned why I wanted to get the pre-made.  We didn't have much time to get everything done and I wanted to cheat and have those already done.  He did a great job.  The pie crusts were delicious, but I'm pretty sure he plans on never making a pie crust again unless absolutely necessary.  :)  He's more of a meal maker rather than a baker.  I'm the baker in this duo.

While we did our cooking we had Christmas music playing, the windows open and a candle burning.  We sang, danced around and really enjoyed ourselves.  I'm excited for future holidays and having fun together while preparing everything.  I'm also excited to host our families in our home in the future!


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Thoughts on Dubai

Burj Khalifa - Tallest building in the world.  Modeled after a lotus flower.

It is no secret that when we first moved here I completely hated Dubai.  I hated the heat.  Feeling trapped inside because of 120 degree weather is not exactly ideal.  I hated that my family and friends were so far away and I couldn't just pop over to see them or easily call/text.  I hated that there is no Target.  Still hate that actually....

I think much of my dislike stemmed from homesickness and lack of purpose.  I had no job and no way to really meet new people aside from through Ben.  My days were spent at home either reading, watching TV or sleeping.  My depression started sinking its claws in and I'm sure it was frustrating for Ben.  I would cry often and there was really no way he could comfort me, aside from just being there, and that was hard for him.  I did have times of fun and happiness but there were many down times as well.

Now that I have a job and am out of the house, around people and doing something with my time, many things have improved here.  I have gotten to know more wonderful people and form personal relationships with them rather than seeing them occasionally through Ben's work outings.  I have become accustomed to the way of life here, although some things are still frustrating, and am enjoying it.  Ben and I both help the other to stay active with friends, so we do more now than when we first moved here.  I think part of that is also due to a bit more financial stability as well. 

I think a big turning point for me was Thanksgiving.  We had Thanksgiving at the beach with some people that Ben, David, Naomi and Casey knew from their masters course and they were all so welcoming and wonderful and made us feel like we belonged there with them.  We also put together a very nice Thanksgiving on Friday for our little Dubai family and made the holiday truly wonderful.  It made me realize how much I will miss this.  I have found that being abroad makes you bond with people in a different way than when you are home.  You feel closer to those around you because everyone is away from family, gets homesick, misses Target...  I can't really describe it, but you automatically feel closer to the people you spend your time with.  You're there for each other on the down days and understand what the other is going through.   You don't have your normal family/friend support so you have to depend on one another. 

Dubai has become a much more enjoyable place and is really growing on me.  I'm not to the point where I can say that I "love" Dubai, but I'm getting there.  I'm still not thrilled with the nasty smelling water, but I very much am enjoying the weather we are having now.  Plants are blooming, the temperatures are around 85 degrees and it gets cool enough to where I can wear pants and long sleeves and be comfortable in the evening.  When the sun goes down I think it is cold and want a jacket even though it is still "warm" for Iowa standards. 

However, I do absolutely love the culture here.  Dubai is a huge melting pot of religion, culture, fashion, everything.  I enjoy celebrating the different holidays of other religions and learning more about them.  I enjoy dressing up in the different traditional clothes of India, Dubai, etc. 

It often amazes me that I am living here.  I am blessed to have such an amazing opportunity. 


My Friend, My Seester :)

Seesters  :)
Below is the Maid of Honor speech written by my Elsie for Ben's and my wedding.  I feel truly honored and blessed that such an amazing woman wrote this for me.  She is more than a best friend; she is family.  She is a sister to me and will always be a huge part of my life. 
While Lyssa was not able to attend our wedding due to a prior obligation, she made the trek to Minneapolis after work on July 12th to have a girls night and celebrate.  True to form, we went to Target and bought as much junk food as possible (adding to what Lyssa had already packed), got some disgustingly delicious McDonald's and rented The Hunger Games from the hotel TV. 

Our wedding celebration feast!

Prior to our feast she read me her speech.  I may be biased, but I'm pretty sure this is the absolute best maid of honor speech I have EVER heard.  :) 

"Despite the fact that I delivered my first maid of honor speech in February, I have to admit that when I hear that phrase, it's you that I think of. For as long as I can remember, I have been looking forward to the day that I get to speak at your wedding reception. I've been mentally filing embarrassing snippets for years in anticipation of this moment. Well, I could not be happier that this day has finally come. It's crazy to think that a decade ago a comment about your hypothetical wedding to Ben might have elicited a giggle and you rolling your eyes (sorry Ben) and today you walked down the aisle toward your future with him.

I could ramble on and on about how happy I am for you, but instead I think I need to make a few things clear for Ben's sake...

First: There are certain things that will always be special between me and Lyndsey. If you attempt to take credit for them or make them something that belongs to you two, I will hurt you. These things include, but are not limited to: Totino's pizzas, Trolli Eggs, Chinese take-out & movie dates, orange rolls, sex on the beach, and the nicknames Lilly & Elsie.

Second: Marrying my best friend means wholeheartedly accepting everything about her. This list includes, but is not limited to: the surprising amount of noise that comes from every orifice on that girl's body - and the scents that often accompany said noises, the, shall we say, enthusiastic way she wakes people up in the morning, her free commentary during movies, the way she enjoys pushing people's buttons for no reason other than her own entertainment, and the borderline inappropriate relationship she holds with the devil come to life (I think she calls him Grover).

Third: Even though you and I are friends (as evidenced by a drawing of Calvin & Hobbes from back in the day), if you ever hurt my twin, there will be hell to pay. Just saying.

And lastly: I couldn't be happier that after a decade of loving Lyndsey, she has finally realized that she loves you too. You might not know this, but Lyndsey and I have this habit of initiating three-way phone calls without the caller realizing it. By this I mean, when one of us gets a phone call, unless we leave the room it is fair game for the other to be a part of the conversation. Lyndsey always left the room to talk to you, but she didn't always close her door. I could tell from the tone of her voice and the look on her face that she had been talking to you. Before she even realized it, she would glow after she talked to you. You make her happy in a way that I know nobody else has ever come close to. You compliment her in every aspect of her life. In short, you are perfect for her. Bear with me while I quote one of those romantic comedies she and I love so much:

To say you [she is my] best friend is the understatement of the century. [She's] the sister I never had. [She's] sometimes the mother I often need. The reason why I can stumble fearlessly into adventure is because she’s always there. She’s always there....

...and now she'll be there for you and I couldn't be happier about it.

Please join me in raising our glasses and toasting my best friend and the love of her life. Congratulations, Ben and Lyndsey!!"

Love you, Elsie!  :)

Your Lilly. 

typical.... (2008)
typical.... (2012)

Sunday, November 25, 2012

2 dozen + 1

I have now been on this earth for a quarter of a century.  When the heck did I grow up?

It has been my goal the past couple of years to come up with birthday plans that are out of the ordinary and adventurous.  Last year I gathered a group of friends and we all returned to our teenie-bopper days and went roller skating!  This year I decided to take advantage of living somewhere warm and on the sea, and we all went crab hunting! 

Yes.  I said crab hunting!  We were picked up at our apartment at 4 p.m.  We then drove roughly an hour and a half to Umm Al Quwain where we were served sandwiches and pop.  After everyone who was going arrived, we were given life jackets and skater boy shoes to wear.  We boarded the boat and headed out to sea.  It was dark out by this time and we had no light aside from the moon and a flashlight the guy driving the boat was using to look into the water.  That seems safe.

I luh my life vest!

The water wasn't very deep from what I could tell and after about a 5-10 minute boat ride our skipper just jumped out of the boat.... We were all at a loss for what we were supposed to do, so some Russian guy just decided to jump into the water too.  Then we all did.  The water came up to about my hips and was semi-cold.  We grabbed spears off of the boat and they pulled out about 5 large flashlight things so we could look into the water.  The water was clear so you could see down to the bottom.  It was really interesting! There were sea cucumbers that would pee (or just deflate...) when you took them out of the water, star fish, I saw a sea horse, Ben saw a bottom feeder shark thing, and much more. 

Tom Hanks would be proud.
I ended up spearing 4 crabs! The trick was to hold your spear straight up and down to stab it - not at an angle.  I couldn't help but think of Castaway throughout the experience.  Ben caught one crab, but it got away.  Those suckers moved fast once they were spooked and then they spooked us humans.  What was WORSE than the creepy, crawly crabs were the fish that would jump across the water and smack into you.  Not. Kidding.  I was able to dodge them at the beginning of our hunt, but towards the end I went over to help Ben with one of the lights and got smacked twice.  The first time It hit me in the life vest and, being the girl that I am, I screamed and jumped around in the water because it scared me.  The second one hit me right below my chin.  I lost my cool even more....  Ben, of course, found this all very amusing and couldn't stop laughing.  Meanwhile I was almost crying and freaking out.  Traumatizing.  Although I'd definitely be laughing if the roles were reversed.  We later learned the fish were actually barracudas.  Awesome.

Say hello to my little friend.

It seemed not long after we started our hunt that it was over.  We made our way back to shore where we showered and got ready for supper.  They had a buffet waiting for us and took our crab away to cook so we could feast on it as well.  The food was lack luster, but the crab was pretty tasty.  We enjoyed wine and beers from the bar at the hotel.  We had to fight off stray cats, which was a bit annoying, but all-in-all we enjoyed the night.

This was an experience that I wouldn't mind having again.  It was fun to do something out of the ordinary and unique!  How many opportunities are you going to get to crab hunt?!

Ines, Rachael, me & David

Saturday, November 10, 2012

A month in two weeks....yowza

I don't know how everyone else feels about the past couple of weeks, but so much has been going on here that I feel like it has been a month instead of just 14 days. . .  This possibly could be due to the fact I have started a new job in which I have mountains of work to do and it seems never ending.  I accepted a job at Collegiate American School (where Ben works) as their teacher resource manager and I also cover the library part-time.  Essentially my job is to organize all of the textbooks, manipulatives and reading materials and input a system to keep track of the materials.  I wish I could convey to you how huge a job this is, but words fail me at the moment.  I was sent to another school in the district for training and they have a great system there, so I am working on getting that going at our school.  CAS is only on its second year so there is still much work to be done and progress to be made in setting up their own systems and what not.  Training went well, although I was a bit overwhelmed with how much there was to learn.  This past week I was able to actually put together the teacher resource center at CAS and have things a bit more accessible than sitting around in boxes.  Of course, the day after I had everything shelved they brought in a HUGE shipment and new books and manipulatives and my room is completely trashed again.  Grrr....

My room!

Class pets?
 So, my home at school is above.  This was taken after I had started a little bit of arranging, but had much more to go.  Now my room is overflowing with crap again.  I have two bathrooms in my room and a small kitchenette.  Pretty baller. 

These two birdies on the clock are there every day at about the same time.  Class pets?  Perhaps.

Perks of working with a spouse

I have found there is a perk to working with your spouse - occasional cups of hot chocolate hand delivered to your desk.  :)   We have a machine at work that you push the hot chocolate button and it spits out delicious sweetness.  After texting my wonderful husband to see if he had any chocolate (I had a craving. . . ), he showed up a while later with this hot chocolate!  Even though we work in the same building we don't really see each other that often.  He is very busy with class and all of his other work and I am swamped in the library and TRC. 

Evaporated Milk = Creamer
O!  Something I found interesting and awesome is that they use evaporated milk for creamer!!  YUM!!!!  Ma and I LOVE evaporated milk and we can drink it right out of the can.  Gross and unhealthy?  Yes.....  It's just so goooood!  Anyway, when I was training at DIA one of the ladies made me coffee and tea and put the evaporated milk in it and it was delicious!

Last weekend Ben had a conference that he attended to earn credit for his masters on Friday and Saturday, so I decided to go to the Dubai flea market with a friend.  I didn't really know what to expect but hoped for greatness.  The flea market was in Al Safa Park which was huge and green and wonderful!  When we arrived at the area of the park where the flea market was, we discovered that it was essentially a multi-cultural yard sale!  It was sooooo cool!!  I had a couple really awesome finds - an Arabic painting that Ben and I both love, a necklace made by an African woman and a few traditional Indian casual dresses.  I L-O-V-E the Indian dresses!!  These women know what they are doing!!  The dresses are insanely comfortable and lightweight.  It is basically like wearing pajamas except you still look cute because the dresses are gorgeous.  Diwali is coming up this week and we are allowed to dress up at school, so I will be wearing one of my new dresses!!  Pictures will follow!

This past week I had to do another border run to Oman.  This time my visa wasn't expired so it was a lot less costly which was a plus.  There were three of us from CAS that needed to go and we had a driver and van to take us.  Since it was still daylight when we left, I was able to read a bit and also enjoy the company of coworkers.  We left right after school so we stopped at the BK Lounge and then headed off.  We stopped along the way so that our driver, Kamel, could pray.  It was rather humorous because I thought we were pulling over with something wrong with the van, Sharon thought that we had made it to the border and the other woman thought a bathroom break or something.  I guess it was a bit more humorous if you were there. . . We made it through the border run with no hiccups.  Since I knew to expect men with large guns it was less daunting this time.

Mountains on the way to Oman.
This weekend was spent reading, relaxing and enjoying time in with friends.  Ben hadn't gotten to sleep in for a couple of weeks so he was excited to just relax and I needed to just be still and let my body rest.  (Lots of heavy lifting and constantly on my feet.)  We both feel as though we could use an extra day tacked onto this weekend, but the next two weeks will be 4 day weeks for us, so we can't complain to much.  I have been put in charge of the bulletin boards in the library  so I am excited to let my creativity show!!  The only thing is that they don't have a ton of materials for the boards, so a trip to the craft store might be in the near future.  O, last week at the Thursday morning meeting that staff has each week I was awarded "The Bucket", which is passed around teacher-to-teacher to recognize hard work.  I hadn't heard of the bucket or what it was, but was excited to get something with lots of yummy treats in it!!  This week I will pass it along to someone else and am on the lookout for the deserving candidate!  Honestly, everyone at the school deserves it! 

Anyway....I am sorry for my lack luster post, but I am still worn out and not all that mentally alive right now.  I'm thinking bed early tonight so I can be in a decent mood tomorrow!!

O!  Since working in the library the past couple of weeks, I have started to look into what I need to do to become an elementary librarian.  I know it has only been two weeks, but I LOVE the library!!  I want to be the librarian and have things to get kids pumped up about reading.  I want to be able to help them find the resources they need to finish a report or project.  I have found that in the key places Ben and I are looking to relocate that there are colleges accredited by the ALA in which I can obtain a Masters in Library Science.  Yes, you need a masters.  I admit I was a little floored by this.  A librarian needs a masters?!  But there will be more on that topic later to come.  I am excited about this possible career path, though.  It would allow me to be creative, organized and share my passion for reading. 

Alright.  I'm out of fuel.

Coming up:

25th bday


Thursday, November 1, 2012

"A Hair-Raising Discovery For Husband"

Below is an article that was front and center of the newspaper on October 31st, 2012.  I found this article interesting because this is an example of how some client's ended up in my previous office; not in the headlines of a newspaper.  I now see the newspaper on a daily basis at my job so I will likely continue to post articles that I find facinating.

October 31, 2012

"A Hair-Raising Discovery for Husband"

A husband has described how he lashed out when a surprise visit to one of his wives ended in a  shock discovery.
The Jordanian told DUbai Court of Misdemeanors yesterday how he decided to go and see one of his two spouses at her home in Discovery Gardens only to find her in bed with a male hairdresser.
The 31-year-old- said: "I found her with him, totally naked.  I was angry so I assultaed both of them and tried to call police.  They kicked my hand so I dropped my phone.  I then went into the kitchen and grabbed a knife."
"I was in shock and didn't know what to do,"he added in court records.  "The stranger started begging me not to inform police and my wife excaped."
The 31-year-old husband called one of his wife's colleagues, who came to their home and he asked him about the relationship between the two.
"Her colleague informed me that the man is my wife's hairdresser," he said.
The husband told the Lebanese hairdresser that if he left the country within 24 hours he would not inform Dubai Police.  However, the 33-year-old refused to leave so the husband filed a complaint at Jebel Ali Police Station. 
A police investigation revealed the alleged lovers had known each other for three months.  The husband added: "My wife and I had been married for six years.  I discovered the hairdresser was visiting her every two days."
The husband added: "I found a booking in my wife's name for a hotel in Dubai and protection in the bin [trash]."
The Jordanian wife claimed the Lebanese man was just a friend and she had only called him to come to the house because she had pains in her stomach.  She said he had gone to sleep in the guest room and had no idea why he was lying next to her naked.  The Court was told that the husband waived his rights, saying that he has forgiven his wife and wants a fresh start with her.
The woman and the Lebanese man are charged with having an illegal affair and consuming alcohol.
The case has been adjourned.