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Plenty to be thankful for…

This is my fourth year away from family on Thanksgiving, and while it is hard there is still so much that I am grateful for.

  • There are always people willing to take you in and share their food, wine and laughter with.  I’ve been invited to all kinds of fun activities tonight, tomorrow, Saturday, Sunday — there is no time to get lonely, pining for family time (but oh what I would give to be with Joe and the kids today).
  • I’m surrounded by giving, good people.  My neighbors upstairs are moving back to the states, and you would not believe how much great stuff they have given me.  You know how I’ve been stressing over getting a bed delivered;  no need.  They gave me a fantastic king-sized one, a dining room table, fans, lights, small appliances, the list goes on.  I cannot believe how lucky I am.  All they asked is I give back to someone else, and they’re fans of Grandma’s Closet (or is it attic?), so a donation in their honour will be made.  I hope it’ll help pull someone else through a tough transition like their gifts have helped lift my spirits!

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Just a taste of what I’ve been lucky to receive!

  • I’m driving my car!  I got my tags earlier this week, and it’s so much more fun to drive than the Twingo.
  • I think I’m getting Internet/cable service next week — my hope is that typing this will make it so.
  • I have my health; Joe and the kids have their health; every one is doing well.
  • Life is good.

I’m also on the continent of Christmas markets, which are budding all over the place.  I went with some friends to the one in Lille, France (only an hour drive away!), going to the one in Brussels next weekend, and the weekend after that the one in Mons is opening, so mulled wine, gingerbread and all sorts of goodies galore!

In a few weeks I head home to see the family for Christmas, and then the countdown for Joe and Badger’s move begins.   It’s finally all coming together as it always does, and that might just be the best thanksgiving of all.

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Badger finally cool with his kennel.  LOL don’t know how cool he’ll be with it on that long flight, but we’ll cross that bridge in February.

I hope you’re all enjoying time with your loved ones, and I promise to post more soon — just a little busy with work, finishing up the move-here process and play.

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.

Tis the season to be thankful

DSC05677 Happy Thanksgiving from my kitchen to yours!

While my friends and family back home were sleeping, my new friends/family over here and I celebrated our Thanksgiving.  Um, and then much later while we were still celebrating, you guys back home were smelling your turkey roasting in the oven.  And, now, while some of you are doing your Black Friday shopping we are all sacked out on the couch being thankful for not having to go out in public.

Of course I miss my home now, but I’m also very lucky for a few things:

1. I live in a small apartment complex where I’ve become friends with my neighbors.   Three of us just left our doors open while the party migrated from one place to the next.  Photos will tell more of the story in a bit.  Another one of our neighbors runs a take out service, so we ordered our turkey and some sides from them, which was awesome.

2. Some of my Abu Dhabi friends made the trip to spend the holiday with us, so I got to also enjoy more time with them.

3. National Day is next week.  It’s a major holiday over here, and the town is lit up with green, red and white lights, so while the lights coincide with the country’s flag colors, they also give a festive feel.  Emirates are in good spirits; we expats are in good spirits; Mother Nature with her nice temperatures is in good spirits.  It’s a good time to be here.

4. The school term is winding down.  All I have left to do now is grade papers, proctor exams and prep for January.  The girls are happy; I’m happy.

Sooo, while I didn’t get to taste my daughter’s first turkey — she and Kelley made Thanksgiving dinner for Joe and Aaron — and I didn’t get to feast with my family, I’m not depressed.  I’m really, really grateful for this because now is the time I could see me getting horribly homesick.  So thank you to everyone involved for helping keep this a happy time of year for me!

I had to work on Thanksgiving, but only until noon.  In celebration of National Day, the school had an outdoor party for the girls.  There was music and traditional dancing, food and the girls showing off arts and crafts.  They also got to wear makeup, jewelry and their pretty dresses.  It was so nice to have fun with them and their families.  I also got to laugh with fellow Arabic teachers when the girls swarmed over me to braid my hair, henna my hands (with a traditional design versus the flowery kinds we see now — love the sentiment, but the flowery ones are more to my liking), and rub saffron oil on my face.

2014-11-27 09.19.342014-11-27 09.23.11DSC05689the henna continues to darken on my hand.  This was hours later during dinner.  Um, my nails are brown.

2014-11-27 09.22.53 I was nervous about the saffron oil because I really didn’t want to walk around for several weeks with an orange stripe on my face, but whew!  It wiped off.  The women use saffron oil for its scent and because it’s good for the skin.  They used to make their own saffron and henna pastes.  2014-11-27 08.40.53 2014-11-27 08.40.23 2014-11-27 08.39.27My girls looking pretty in their jewels and dresses.  I wish I could show you their beautiful, happy faces, but I can’t.  Just know that they melt my heart when they’re having fun.  Hahaha they almost melt my temper when they’re not, but we’re on a thankful thread, so let’s stay on the good stuff.  I love getting to know them, and I truly am grateful for the opportunity to spend this time in their lives. I also really enjoyed meeting some of their mothers, aunts and sisters.  We may not speak the same language, but we all appreciate the beauty of joy, and there’s something nice to be said about time alone with other women.

There’s also a whole lot of nice to be said having time alone with your own people — men included.  It’s mostly women in my complex, but we like our male teachers too.

DSC05671that said notice how, ahem it’s the Canadian Haneefa carving the turkey.  David, we’re calling you out to work a grill or slice some beast the next time we do this!

DSC05681 Two turkeys and a carcass.  I love that the camera focused on the bird’s butt versus my crazy girls Lisa and Ashley (Kaylene take a good look, Ashley is my current wine daughter)DSC05682 DSC05675 DSC05676 DSC05679 DSC05691 DSC05690Good times indeed.  Lots of feasting and laughing, which led to this…

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Badminton in the hallway is what happens when you no longer feel like playing ping pong in Lisa’s dining room.   But, you see, it then leads to a badminton match between my balcony and parking lot…

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which inevitably leads to “cocks” on the roof

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which brings us to this…

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And then came the dare to go ahead and climb on to my patio from there

DSC05724which thankfully was a success!  It’s all good we’re insured, but I guess this proves that just because we’re brave souls who’ll take a job a gazillion miles from home, we’re not necessarily the brightest bulbs on the planet — but we do know fun.

Up next is some of the Al Ain crew going to Abu Dhabi to celebrate National Day.  I love this time of year!

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