Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Homeschooling ends...

Last year, we decided that we were going to homeschool Belle. This decision was based on a multitude of factors, including the quality of education she had been receiving. The biggest issue was the bullying she had experienced throughout the year, and the lack of response from her inexperienced (it was her first year) classroom teacher and the school administration.

I spent weeks researching curriculum and programs before selecting Moving Beyond the Page (an integrated language arts, science, and social studies curriculum) with Everyday Mathematics. Moving Beyond the Page was a really solid program and literature rich. Belle moved away from textbooks to novels and activities. 

The hard part was motivating a 9 year old who was distracted by her baby sister and a dad that was accustomed to sleeping in (replaced by naps with the baby). This led to a progression of later and later start times, and sometimes a lack of any work being completed. The positive side is Belle and Zofia truly adore one another. The negative was that I spent my time at home fighting with Belle to do schoolwork and neither one of us was getting a break as make up work consumed our weekends. 

We decided this spring that Belle needed to go back to a brick and mortar school. We started casually asking friends about their schools and reading websites. We did drive-bys to establish locations, and researched the difference between British (many schools offer this) and American (limited offerings) curriculum. Based on our findings and what we knew about various schools, we arranged school visits. 
On Monday, Belle took a placement test and on Tuesday, she was accepted into Year 6 at Al Ain International School. I just paid her registration deposit and by the time I arrived back to my school had received the first term invoice. So starting September 8th, this will be her new school:

Monday, June 24, 2013


Yesterday was graduation, and this year I embraced the spirit & dressed for the occasion. 
This is a picture of my gown, minus my wrap. It gives you a small idea of the gowns that our graduates wore and unlike those young ladies, I wore my hair up... They wear their hair up most days, so for special occasions they wear it down, curled, jeweled, and then have the make up to match. Sometimes it was hard to recognize my students that I've spent the last six months with because they were so transformed. Our graduation was also attended by the daughter of the current leader of the UAE, Sheikha Salama bint Khalifa!

On the home front, the girls and I are looking forward to flying home in two weeks! Rob is still waiting to start his job. We've been told inshallah this week... Fingers are crossed, as it is has been a long wait and he's missing out on the US visit because of it. 
Zofia has learned how to crawl, so we have been madly baby proofing our house. Belle is now 10 (seriously, where has the time gone!). We have been saying goodbye to many of our 2011 companions, the people we started this journey with, and some from earlier years as they return to the US or go on to other countries. We are also excited to attend a 4th of July party next week with American & British friends. It should be quite an experience celebrating Independence Day with them! 

Monday, June 10, 2013

Making a list and checking it twice

Truth be told, I haven't bought our plane tickets yet. I'm waiting on flight money to be deposited on the 25th. That does not mean I haven't been busy making lists: a list of things I need to bring, things I have to bring back, things we will need in the states, etc.

There are many things available in the UAE, after all it is a worldwide shopping destination, but there are also things you can only get at home. On that list, prescription strength antiperspirant (why isn't that available in a country that regularly sees 110+ degree weather?); saline solution for contact lenses (and for some reason my contact solution brand isn't sold here either), and Benadryl. That is just the pharmacy aisle. Then there are the snacks from home you didn't realize you'd miss: Triscuits, Cheez-its, Pirate Booty White Cheddar. Can you see a visit to Wal-mart in my future? Yes, you end up missing those big box stores and the convenience of one stop shopping...

While clothing is available here, sometimes the quality is not as good, and there are never the types of sales you'd find at home. We'll be stocking up on some of those items as well. Luckily it really is mostly one season (unlike my beautiful home state), so summer clothing with a couple cardigans & one or two pairs of pants is more than adequate. 

Then there are the experiences I've been missing: the beach at Echo Lake, BBQs at our friends, church on Sunday mornings, the views of the White Mountains, and all the friends & family we haven't seen in two years. 

So, after flights are finalized, I'll start finishing up the details of all we'll need on our visit: rental car, car seat, stroller, crib - oh never ends - guess we'll visit some yard sales too!