Sunday, May 26, 2013

The beginning of our final days in Dubai.

I generally post a couple times a week and have found it difficult recently to find anything 'exciting' to discuss. We have a lot going on, just nothing that stands alone as worthy to report. 

I guess that is not completely true. . .

Last week Ben had the talent show at school and it turned out wonderfully!!  The kids were so entertaining and they worked very hard to put on a good show! Ben had kids in his room everyday, at every break and after school practicing. Both Ben and the students put on an excellent show and truly have something they can be proud of. It has taken a lot of weight off of Ben's shoulders to have the talent show completed and a success. It was a stressful month for him in preparing for the big event.  He has also completed the KG spring concert and has a couple more to go before the end of June.  The last day for the kids is June 20th, and teacher's last day is June 24th.  So much to do before then!

The month of June will be our packing/getting rid of things month. I have already filled one suitcase with 'winter clothes' (in the States it would be more like fall clothes), and a few souvenirs interspersed between the clothing. I think the rest of my clothing will fit into one large suitcase and then we just need to pack in other things. I brought over a ton of DVD's, Ben has some books, the XBOX, golf clubs, shoes, etc. We're hoping we can fit our Dubai life into 4 large suitcases and 2 carry ons.

We should arrive back in the States on June 26th (purchasing our tickets TODAY!), at which time we will spend a day/night in the Iowa City condo just being. We have sold the condo and the closing date is July 2nd.  I want to just spend some time in the condo, not packing, and enjoy it as a goodbye. Then we will throw everything into boxes, pack it up and put it in storage for a month or so.  We have amazing friends in the area who have offered us a place to stay for a bit while we find our new home.  We have been checking out houses online and through our realtor and have a few we'd like to view out upon our return.

We did go to the Royal Moscow Ballet's performance of Swan Lake a couple weeks ago.  It was SO good! We were a little disappointed in the venue since it was essentially a warehouse with bleachers and a stage set up, but everything else was amazing! The performers danced beautifully and the orchestra played very well.  We didn't have people sitting right in front of us so we were able to stretch our legs.  We also had a great view of the stage and were able to get a couple really great pictures.

Other than that, we have been spending time with friends, enjoying our remaining time in Dubai.  I am excited to go home, but still stand by what I have said previously about being sad about not staying abroad. I try to remind myself that no matter where we are, there are always adventures to be had, new things to do and both Ben and I are eager to travel more, so we will not fall into a stagnant life. I'm excited for what is to come! 

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Friday, May 17, 2013

My Morning Crepe

We had a whole mess of crepes this morning. :)

This morning cereal was just not going to cut it for me.  Instead I whipped up some crepes (really thing pancakes) (<< Talladega Nights), added a layer of Nutella and some strawberries and BAM! Better-than-cereal-breakfast!  Pair those with some coffee and a good book for the perfect lazy morning! AND a very happy husband!

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Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Playlist: Merry Happy

I love this song!  So fun to sing along to.  :) 

Merry Happy
by Kate Nash
Watching me like you never watch no one
Don't tell me that you didn't try and check out my bum
Cause I know that you did
Cause your friend told me that you liked it

Gave me those pearls and I thought they were ugly
Though you try to tell me that you never loved me
I know that you did
'Cause you said it and you wrote it down

Dancing at discos
Eating cheese on toast
Yeah you make me merry make me very very happy
But you obviously, you didn't want to stick around

Dancing at discos
Eating cheese on toast
Yeah you make me merry make me very very happy
But you obviously, you didn't want to stick around

So I learnt from you
Do do do da do do do do do da do do do do do da do
Do do do da do do do do do da do do do do do da do

I can be alone, yeah
I can watch a sunset on my own
I can be alone, yeah
I can watch a sunset on my own
I can be alone
I can watch a sunset on my own

I can be alone, yeah
I can watch a sunset on my own
I can be alone, yeah
I can watch a sunset on my own
I can be alone
I can watch a sunset on my own

Sitting in restaurants
Thought we were so grown up
But I know now that we were not the people
That we turned out to be

Chatting on the phone
Can't take back those hours
But I won't regret
'Cause you can grow flowers
From where dirt used to be

Dancing at discos
Eating cheese on toast
Yeah you make me merry make me very very happy
But you obviously, you didn't want to stick around

Dancing at discos
Eating cheese on toast
Yeah you make me merry make me very very happy
But you obviously, you didn't want to stick around

So I learnt from you
Do do do da do do do do do da do do do do do da do
Do do do da do do do do do da do do do do do da do

I can be alone, yeah
I can watch a sunset on my own
I can be alone, yeah
I can watch a sunset on my own
I can be alone
I can watch a sunset on my own
(do do do da do do do do do da do do do do do da do)

I can be alone, yeah
I can watch a sunset on my own
I can be alone, yeah
I can watch a sunset on my own
I can be alone
I can watch a sunset on my own
(do do do da do do do do do da do do do do do da do)
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Sunday, May 12, 2013

Ma :)

Ma & me on my wedding day.
Happy Mother's Day to all of you special women at there!  I feel truly blessed to have such an amazing mother!  I know everyone says that, but my mom really IS amazing. 
Helping me get ready for my wedding!
Here are some reasons why:
  • She always put my brother and me first. I was high maintenance. I wanted to be involved in a bajillion things and she always encouraged it.  Piano, volleyball, dance, gymnastics (which included competitions that took up multiple weekends), show choir, band, jazz band, flag/marching band, kids clinics, camps, etc. On top of that she wen on field trips with my school from elementary up through high school, she volunteered and helped at different events, she was an active member of the PTA, etc. This is all on top of working a full-time job with an hour each way commute every morning and evening. The weekends offered no respite.  There were competitions and performances which she never missed.  And on top of THAT she had to deal with cranky me at 3 a.m. putting rollers in my hair for show choir or just cranky me taking my frustrations out on her because I was stressed.  Poor Ma. . . Honestly, I don't know how she did it.  All of this junk + working + still making supper each night + maintaining her sanity? I only hope I can be that awesome.

  • Ma always made things fun for Shane and me. We would play games inside and out, she would take us to movies or to get ice cream, she would play Barbies with me and listen to me read. (Even when I had to ask her over and over what the word 'all' was.  It's a hard one, it is.)  She would take us on vacations every other year and put up with me whining about being hot.  I was a poor sport at Disney, I'll tell ya. . .
A car was far off and heading our way so Ma grabbed our hands and started running. 
The car drove by like a minute later and we just laughed.
  • Ma can always make me laugh. Shane, too.  If you get the three of us together it can be a bit ridiculous.  We might say one word and bust out laughing because of an inside joke we have.  She is also silly and spacey, much like me, and we laugh at our blond moments together. We also both laugh when people die in movies. Horrible, but whatever.
  • I can call my mom 4 times in one day (and have text here in between) and she will STILL pick up every call. I have literally called her to apologize for 'my crazy' before.
Yes. We are this nerdy.
  • She still spoils both Shane and me.  I don't like taco seasoning very well, so she will use salsa instead in the taco salad.  Shane likes cornflakes on top of the crazy potatoes, so she uses that instead of crackers. I like chocolate chip cookies without chocolate chips and she will make a few for me.  Shane really likes lemon cake and she will make it for him. She spoils us with more than food, too, but those are the ones that the hubs comments on the most. :)

Ma doing a reading at my wedding.
  • She does sweet things to let you know she is thinking of you.  Maybe it is a nice text or phone call or a random card with a Starbucks gift card for a coffee on her. Or she calls you to let you know she is having your fave ice cream or coffee and to let you know it tastes real good. :)

This list is endless.
Ma has really aged well. :)

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Saturday, May 11, 2013

My little lovebug turns 4

Grover: 'Why you make me wait?'
It is hard to believe my little nugget is another year older!  This makes 4 wonderful years of his existence. (May 10, 2009)  Since we are paying out the butt to get him home from Dubai, we did not get him extra treats or a new toy this year.  

BUT I couldn't just do nothing. . . So I baked my little Grovie a cake!

Grover: 'I go meow!'

He wasn't sure what to do with the big piece, so I made it into small pieces.

The PB made him thirsty.

Grover: 'Me want more, please!'
I was worried he wouldn't like it because he can be a picky little poop, but he ate it right up after I cut it for him!  

Here is the recipe I used:

Doggie Bday Cake

1 egg
1/4 C peanut butter
1/4 C cooking oil
1 t vanilla extract
1/3 C honey
1 C shredded carrots
1 C flour
1 t banking soda


Preheat oven to 350.  Combine first 5 ingredients in a medium sized bowl.  Stir in carrots and mix thoroughly.  Combine flour & baking soda & fold into carrot mixture.  Spoon batter into greased muffin pan.* Bake for 25-30 minutes or until it passes the toothpick test.  Let cool for 10 minutes and spread thin layer of PB on top.

*I used a small casserole dish, but little muffins would be adorable!

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Camping on Hamdan Island

The group! In back: Boz, Brad, Casey, Rachel, Jay & Jamie
Sitting: Amy, Ashley, Jordan, Naomi, Me, Ben
Not pictured: Jessi & Casey C.
We FINALLY went on our camping trip to the World Islands! Our first attempt was postponed due to 8-10 foot swells at sea and we were not keen on re-enacting The Perfect Storm.  So we rescheduled for May 3rd & 4th.  There was a small group of us and we had the entire boat to ourselves! The weather was warm, but there was a slight breeze that made it an absolutely perfect day.

Our baller boat!
We boarded the boat and embarked upon a leisurely sail on the Arabian Sea. (Well, around the coast of Dubai).

On the bow

Naomi being adorable.
That is also where we were allowed to jump off of!
When we reached Hamdan Island (one of the islands that make up the World Islands) our captain Alda lowered the anchor and we went for a dive! They allowed us to jump off of the 2nd deck of the boat, so with a 'just do it' attitude and a girlie scream, I went in. (The 1st girl to do it, too!) The cool, salty water felt wonderful. The current was a bit strong so swimming to the ladder of the boat was a challenge. I'm a big baby when it comes to water so I only jumped in once. The current and not being able to touch really freaked me out. Ben stayed in longer and jumped off the 2nd deck a couple more times.

 We were all back on the boat within 45 minutes of stopping.  Our captain remarked that we had spent 5 hours on the boat and hadn't once gone to the island.  I told him that we can go to the beach/pool whenever we want.  The boat was the luxury that we had been looking forward to! We ate a small lunch of chicken breast with mushroom sauce and mashed potatoes and not long after we finally ventured to the island.  A few people, including my brave hubs, swam the couple hundred yards to the island and others, like me, took the 'White Lightning' to shore. White Lightning was the little boat that we dragged behind the big boat to get us to shore. Most people laid out and chatted.  Ben and I played catch in the waves for a bit and went on a walk around the island. We didn't stray too far, though, because we were warned that if you get close to the caretaker's house police will come with helicopters and all sorts of craziness. No thank you!

Absolutely beautiful!

View of part of the city from the boat.
Gives you a better perspective on how the the Burj Khalifa actually is!

You can see the hammock we laid in @ night!
When we returned to the boat and showered, we went on a sunset cruise. Talk about beautiful! To top it off they served us chocolate crepes.  Yummmmmmmm! We were then served supper which consisted of chicken and mixed meat kabobs & Lamb Chop.  It was crazy good, in my personal opinion, but it could have tasted like butt and I probably would have still liked it.  The sun had wiped my energy and the refueling was much needed.

 After supper and drinks on the boat, we boarded White Lightning and went to our camp!  One of the guys had stayed behind while we had our sunset cruise and supper and set up the tents for us.  Yay! Getting everyone to the island turned out to be a bit difficult.  White Lightning started pooping out on us.  When Ben and I were on the boat it stopped and the guy struggled to get it going.  When we did eventually make it to the island, we worked on getting the campfire started and lighting tiki torches. Everyone was able to get out to the Island but the guys aboard White Lightning literally went walking on the island to find something to use as a paddle.  They found a random piece of wood and paddled back to the big boat.  I felt AWFUL for them.  At some point in the night they came back to the island and set up a water jug for us but no one heard them.  I hope that doesn't mean they paddled back to the island after reaching the boat. . . If they got the mini-boat working, we should have woken up to it.  It is about as subtle as a train.

When the fire died down we all went to our tents and passed out fairly early.  Naturally, we awoke early as well.  As everyone trickled out of their tents, we spotted two dolphins! We were too far away to get a really good look at them, but you could see them surfacing as they swam.

Sleepies :)
With a little spit and glue they were able to get White Lightning functioning enough to get everyone back to the boat. We had a huge breakfast spread of meats and cheeses, fruit, hummus, croissants and freshly made omelets   There was also endless coffee, which was nice, even if it was Nescafe.  Something about being completely zonked makes you like and appreciate crap coffee. :)  

When breakfast was finished we started our ride back to land. Ben and I passed out for almost the whole thing and were woken up as we were coming into the marina. We grabbed our things and headed home once we docked.  It was an amazing weekend!

Flattering picture of us passsssed out.
Our favorite parts:
The boat ride
Walking on the beach
The campfire
The sunset
Coffee on the boat in the a.m.
When the sails were up
Sitting in the hammock off the bow of the boat at night

Not so favorite:
Sea water & the salty grit left on your bod. (BJ)
Lack of potties on the island and harsh, harsh, harsh laws here about indecent exposure. Eff. (LJ)

We hope to go again before leaving Dubai for a day trip!

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Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Life of an Expat

As we prepare to return the States, I feel a surprisingly large amount of sadness. Why?  Because I will no longer be an expat.

I don't know why I find this so shocking. Even when I was a young girl I always dreamed of living abroad and traveling evvvvverywhere. So why wouldn't I love this life? 

When I first moved to Dubai there was a long period of time where I was incredibly homesick and hated it here. I missed my family, friends, Target and the ease of being somewhere familiar. Now that I have adjusted to living abroad I would be 'ok' with staying an expat.  I wouldn't want to stay in Dubai for many reasons, but give me a job in any European country and I am sold.  I frequently mention to the hubs that I wish we would have known earlier that I would be 'ok' with staying abroad.  If we had known we could have started applying for jobs and perhaps moved to Germany. :)  (I may have developed an extreme love for Germany during our Christmas vacation!)

I believe a large reason for my sadness in returning to the States stems from the insane idea that it is final. I don't know why I feel this way when Ben and I both agree that we are keeping the option to go abroad again open. Perhaps it has to do with one of my biggest fears in life - doing nothing. Leading a boring life.  Falling into routine and living in a rut. I don't want to wake up in my 40's or 50's and wonder where my life went. I want to live it NOW.  I never want to look at another person and be envious of their life. I no longer want to look at the travel buses or airplanes in the sky and wish to be one of the passengers.  I do not want to wish - I want to be. 

I am happily blessed with a husband who shares the same desire to live now and experience much.  A husband who desires to try new foods, wines, meet new people, go new places, do new things. A husband with whom I share an extreme wanderlust.

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Our Lives in Photographs: Life in the Desert

Spring in the Desert

This is a vine plant that they use as a filler around walkways and what not.  They are flowering now and I LOVE the star shape of the little purple blooms!

 These bushes line the sidewalk, separating you from the busy road.

Beautiful, fragrant flowers that adorn the bushes lining a nice sitting area by our building.

Grover like smelling the flowers, too.  :)

Just a few pictures from around our apartment building. We took Grover for a walk and the flowers were in bloom and absolutely beautiful!  I obviously played a little bit with the color selector feature on my camera.  :)  There are new blooms popping up all the time here and it is quite lovely.  One of the perks of living in a warm climate.

P.s. I am saving and looking forward to purchasing a swanky camera so I can take some rock star, artsy-fartsy pictures.  These pictures were just taken with my point-and-shoot camera.

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