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Still Thankful…

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A selfie with some of the crew.  Three of us are at an American football game.

We didn’t feel like throwing our annual Thanksgiving bash at my complex this year.  Ashley has moved to another place, and Haneefa and I didn’t feel like doing all the party prep.  Instead 10 of us rented a 5-bedroom apartment in Dubai, and 11 of us feasted and got merry together.  Of course we had a great time.  Oh, and we got to Skype Suzanne whose back in the states.  We missed having her with us, but we’re so happy she gets to be with her family this year.

It was great to be with my UAE family, but I’m really missing Joe and the kids.  Kaylene and Kelly cooked dinner at their place; Joe and Aaron joined them and Kelly’s mom.  It looked and sounded like they had a great time.  Kyle was busy in Sedona.  On Saturday Aaron moved into his first apartment, so all of my children have officially flown the coop — how weird is that.  Joe was there to help him, but it’s weird for me to not have been there to see him off.  Hahaha perhaps Mama bird just wanted the chance to do that final shove out of the nest.

I’m so hoping I’ll get to spend the holiday season with my family next year.  Three years away is perhaps too much.  Regardless of where my next job is, I will be home for Christmas next year.  InshAllah Halloween and Thanksgiving as well, but that all depends on where my next job will be.

I’m in an odd place right now.  I’ve stopped putting in applications at other schools because Joe and I have decided that he will continue to work until I begin my next job (and I’m so glad he’s willing to do this! it was his idea).  We’re hoping a DODEA interview will come up last minute , and that I’ll be free to take the job.  Anyway, in a perfect world I’ll get to be a housewife (with grown children on their own!) for a few months with a miraculous January post.  For the first time in my life I’ll be a kept woman, and I am soo soo soo good with that.  Unless, of course, a job comes up that I can’t refuse.  Then Joe will be the kept one.

The odd place I’m in is being excited about reuniting with my family for more than a few weeks while at the same time being depressed about leaving here.  I know that once I come back from Christmas vacation time will fly by — and that’s a good and bad thing!

Work has been busy, but by Tuesday night I will be finished with this trimester’s real work.  All I’ll have to do is proctor and mark some exams, and plan for January.  In a few days my friend Brandy and I will be decompressing in Cyprus — woo hoo!  And two weeks after that I begin my Scandinavian adventure.

So, my depressed side doesn’t get a whole lot of time to pity party.  And, on the plus side, friends I’ve made here are now also family, so we too will celebrate together again.

How many revelers can you fit on a Dubai balcony?  Some of our food and a glimpse of our apartment’s view.  Dubai is always so good to us.

Field trips,applications, halloween and birthdays!

This is probably the hardest time of year because it’s when I get the most homesick (it comes in waves).  Two of my children have birthdays — Kyle’s was on Tuesday and Kaylene’s is today.  When they were young I always threw them a combined halloween/birthday party — until they started requesting something different (but that didn’t stop me from inviting folk over to get all ghouly).  I love, love, love halloween, so having two kids birthdays near it always just made it that much better.  I’d dec out my house and whip out the crock pot because this is when it gets chilly enough for stews and fires — in Virginia it was our wood stove; Arizona it was our outdoor fire pit.  Plus, who doesn’t like having glow-in-the dark witches and frankensteins hanging all over the place?

October through Jan 1 is just one excuse after another to snuggle up, eat hearty foods, sip good whatevers, laugh and love with the good (who sometimes drive you crazy) people.  We do it here too, but it’s not the same.  Besides it’s still too warm for any kind of fire other than the one heating up the shisha coals or burning in our Fall-scented candles.  That said on halloween I had a lovely dinner with Shannan and Ian, and we wtf-ed over Westworld episodes.

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and ewwwed over these cookies I found at Abelas, a store that caters to expats.

During the week Haneefa and I shrieked and questioned life while watching Black Mirror episodes (if you like freaky shows like the Twilight Zone, give this one a looksie; it’s on Netflix).  We’ve got the chamomile tea, a/c blasting (to make it cold) and fuzzy blankies to snuggle with, but, no offense to my friends, I’d still rather have my burly man there rubbing my feet.  Somehow I don’t think my friends would continue coming over if I plopped my feet on their lap and gave them lotion, and since I enjoy their company I’ll just continue rubbing my own damned soles (but Joe your time is nigh!).

This country also has its fun times coming up.  Yesterday was Flag Day, which is when the UAE celebrates its patriotism by showing off their flag and getting all giddy over their citizenship.  I learned yesterday that it’s also a son’s way of honouring his father.  Way back when the former sheik passed away and the responsibility of ruling this country transferred to his son, the new sheik wanted to do something that commemorated who his father was, so on his version of a coronation he created Flag Day.  I think that’s pretty cool.  From now until January festive lights and flags will pop up all over the country because coming up December 2 is National Day, the UAE’s birthday.   So it is festive here, and it is cooling down, and it’s good to see my students having fun, but as nice as this is it’s all not ‘my’ holiday.  I’m honored to take part in it, but I’m really missing doing my traditions with my American brethren — although I am glad to not be part of the heated political rants (inshAllah that nightmare will be over soon — yeah yeah I know the uglies will keep on for awhile but a girl can dream).

I missed watching the cubs win, but another teacher friend of mine watched the last few minutes of the game with her students, and they all cheered — bringing two worlds together for just a bit during something called the World Series, so see good things are happening.  Opposite cultures can rejoice together.

As for what else I’ve been doing:  last week I got to go on my first field trip.  It’s always difficult to get a trip approved, and there’s always so much that needs to be done in the classroom, hence the reason that my first one is during my third year here.   Our theme this trimester is careers, so we took the girls to a career fair in Abu Dhabi, and it was a great experience for them.  They got to mingle with universities from around the world — including my Alma mater VCU (how exciting that was for me) and a university from Arizona (good to speak to a Flagstaffonian) and I got to share something new with them.   I really think this is the best part about teaching — when you can connect the real world to what you’re boring the hell out of them with in the classroom, and they finally see that oh wow this stuff is actually cool.  Yesterday two of my students from last year popped in, and woo hoo they told my class to pay attention to my grammar and essay lessons because they’ll need it next year.  HumdaAllah dots are being connected!

20161026_145001 How do you feed 50 hungry girls at a very busy, small gas-station McDonalds?  You get the food to come to you!

On a bittersweet note I’ve decided this is definitely my last year here.  I will forever be grateful for this experience and will always have a soft spot for my girls here (if any of you are googling and stalking me, I expect to see you do great things! Now khallas with the social media and get back to studying).  It’s time for me to move on to another experience, so the search for where I’ll be next year is on (and the better news is my man will be with me).  I don’t know where I’m going, but I’m applying to international schools with good reputations (and, well, salaries and benefits as well — Mama likes to eat and travel) and DODEA.  Joe and I will discuss any offers that come my way and plan from there.   We’ll see where it all leads to next.  The only thing that’s certain is that 2017 will include a whole new set of new!

And that’s all I’ve got for you for this week.  Ewww, and I typed all of this while sipping a velvety pumpkin-spice latte, so life is still very good and almost autumnish.

 

 

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