Monday, July 30, 2012

Switching housing

You aren't supposed to be able to switch your assigned housing until the end of your first year. This does not mean it doesn't happen. Some people were very lucky and were able to change into more preferable places during the school year, our family had to wait until summer.

Moving is a hassle no matter where you live, but it becomes even more heinous when your move needs to take place during the time allotted for you to return to your home country, during a major month long holiday involving fasting and shortened business hours, when it is 115+ degrees every day, you don't speak the national language, and there is a bunch of running around that needs to take place because like everything else - you need a stamp for it. And did I mention, it especially is miserable when you are seven months pregnant doing all this?

The first complication was the housing we were initially told would be ours became unavailable. This put us in a time crunch because we were going up against the lease expiration of our flat and we did NOT want to spend another year isolated from other families. After many visits to housing, many meetings and many lists of available family villas, we finally received our new keys. It has been two weeks of moving, cleaning, running around, putting things together, and inshallah, tomorrow, we will have our final clearances for our old flat.  I'm very happy with our new housing - the community is full of families and children and now we can finally prepare for Baby T's arrival.

After tomorrow, I am looking forward to relaxing for a little bit and enjoying the rest of my summer holiday.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

The Yas Revisited

Last August, I lived for a month in a five star hotel during Ramadan. Staying at the hotel for a month and while a daytime fast was occurring, it lost some of its charm.

This past weekend, Rob & I attended a good friend's birthday party there and stayed as regular guests. It was a lovely experience, perhaps even nicer because I got to share the experience with him. :) Some habits came back quickly, wearing the robes, ordering room service, and calling friends to meet for meals and pool time. 

This time around, we could eat and drink where we wanted. The lifeguards brought chilled glasses of water with lemon and frozen lollies (popsicles for fellow US people) while we sat at the pool. And I was able to use the tub for soaking me, and not doing laundry! 

We need to get away as a couple more often.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

A year without rain...

Fourth of July is tomorrow and I am homesick. This is the first time in 17 years I will not be celebrating the parade in Woodsville and the first time in Belle's life she won't be chasing the thrown candy in front of the Railyard. There will be no fireworks or sparklers, and no BBQ with family and friends.  I had my salon do my nails in stars and stripes because I needed something patriotic (ignore the puffiness of my foot- it has been hot and stressful). It will do until we can get a US flag for our flat. I miss the USA.

In the last couple weeks, we've been staying busy. School is out for Belle and next week, the school year will end for me. We still have to pick up her report card, but I'm not terribly concerned about her grades.  Last week, all the Cycle 3 English teachers had to mark (grade) the English 12 exams for two consecutive nights. It was a lot of work because so many teachers didn't come, but thanks to some very hard working teachers, we were able to do it in two nights. It made for an exhausting week because I still had to report to school each day and of course, we had company. I think Rich ends up coming every time I have night marking.

We tried to do some touristy things while Rich was here. Rob and Belle took him to the quiz night at the Rugby Club and we all went out to dinner at Zest.  Then for our big trip, we went to the waterpark at Atlantis, Aquaventure. It was our first time out on "the Palm" and it had a Hollywood, unreal feel to it. The apartment complexes and hotels there were all over the top, and the signs to go out on the different fronds were a different experience (they are alphabetized in case you were wondering). 

Our first ride was the "Rapids" which was kind of like the Lazy River at Whale's Tale, except with some cool rushing water areas that propelled you forward and some flat escalators that moved you up over terrain changes. We all enjoyed the shark slide - where you go down a dark enclosed slide that pushes you inside a tunnel through a small aquarium filled with fish, sting rays, and sharks.  Next year, when I'm not incubating, I think I will try the big plunge slide on the front of the pyramid.

The most taxing thing lately is that we are still dealing with housing, as the housing person is now withholding the housing we were promised. We are making it a priority to get accommodations with other families and children around for next year. It has been a hard year for Belle without any other children living nearby and being unable to spend time outdoors outside our flat. Rob has reassured me that this move will be easier because I don't have to do it alone.  We did join the Rugby Club so that at least we have access to a pool and gym, and Belle has become quite the fish. We are so proud of our brave swimmer.

Rob has been busy getting bookings to bring people to the airport and even has pick ups booked for August, as many people will be leaving for the summer, or at least for Ramadan.  He's also been working with another spouse who is moving out of Al Ain to coordinate border runs. He's done two border runs for people already, and will be offering his services to in-coming EMT's and their families in the fall.

For now, we are doing our best to stay cool (it is very hot - and no, the heat is not always dry - also, although the published temperatures will not read above 120, it does get there frequently and above).  We are working hard to find new housing before our lease is up (in less than four weeks!). And trying to get ready for our family's new addition in a couple months.