Qasr Al Sarab

Vacation!  Well, made it to Winter Break!  Hooray!  The last few days we headed to the Western Region of Abu Dhabi, the Empty Quarter and checked in to a beautiful hotel called The Qasr Al Sarab.  It was so beautiful in fact that it deserves its own post.

DSCN2935 DSCN2936The drive took us about 3 and a half hours but it was beautiful.

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DSCN2954This was the main entrance, can you feel the luxury yet?

Upon entrance we were given some kind of yogurt drink and dates and stayed seated while everyone came to us with the paperwork and room logistics.

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We were then driven to our villa by golf cart.  We got a one bedroom villa with a private pool.

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After a quick look at our place we decided to do what you do when you have a private pool. We went swimming. 🙂 And since the room was so great we decided to stay in for the night, order room service and enjoy the sunset from our fabulous deck.

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DSCN3034 DSCN3035 DSCN3036 We had a private butler service, so he brought this and then served it to us on our patio.  (spoiled much?)

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The next day we headed off to breakfast and then did some exploring of the hotel.  I was in love with the architecture and took a ton of pictures.

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Throughout the day we explored the hotel, had a light lunch at the hotel pool, Ash spent some time in Kids Club, and lots of relaxing time in our room.

Then we decided to climb a gigantic sand dune. Now, I have not exercised in a very long time (mainly due to my injuries over the last year) and when I say gigantic, well it was really big, let’s just leave it at that. But we made it most of the way and got some really great pictures of the sunset.

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DSCN3230 DSCN3242 Dinner and then a few last moments in our villa took up the rest of our time.

All I can think right now is how grateful I am to be able to have these experiences.  The last year and a half I have gotten to do so many things that I never thought I would ever, in a lifetime, be able to do.  Blessed for sure.  I hope you all have a wonderful winter season.  And if you celebrate, Merry Christmas.

(Now apparently wordpress tells me I am out of space and have to purchase more and as I just found out if you delete pictures in the library it deletes them from the posts that I have used them for.  So I am now looking for a new home so I can continue, thanks for reading and talk to you soon).

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Festive

The last few weeks have been really busy for us!

National Day was last week so there were lots of visitors in our city, which meant traffic was crazy!  We had our annual show and celebrations at school.  The kids dressed up and performed for the mothers and then ate cake. I love getting to see the kids all dressed up, they always look super cute.  (But obviously I can’t show them here 🙂 )

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I had 5 days off and we got some good family time together.

We had a day at Jahli Park and Starbucks!  (Hooray for Soy Lattes!)

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We started our Advent Calendar and our Christmas season.  So far we have watched Harry Potter (1), Home Alone, The Polar Express, and Rudolf.  And have done a number of crafts and decorations.  Plus cookies!  We are off to a good start! 🙂

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DSCN2875DSCN2876Snowflakes! (Adam tells me that our house now resembles a first grade classroom!)

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Tonight we went to the Hotel near our home where they had a Christmas Tree lighting.  The staff dressed up and sang carols, they lit a very large tree, and Santa came to visit!  Asher was very excited to meet him!

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2014-12-10 17.21.39 - Copy 2014-12-10 17.24.47 - CopySongs like Oh, Holy Night, Feliz Navidad, and Rudolf!

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2014-12-10 18.20.47 2014-12-10 18.33.19 Plus, Asher and I got to get some dinner together.  I love my special time with my little guy.  So blessed for what I have.

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Happiness, Heart, and the Holiday Season

This month has gone by so fast!  National Day is coming up this week and a 5 day weekend starts Tuesday!  Definitely looking forward to some time off.

Asher has had lots of fun at school as they have done all sorts of pirate and animal things this month. He is learning so much and growing up so fast.  He is getting really good at writing his name and really starting to get creative with his drawings.  I love that he is enjoying school so much.

goof monkey2(Ash is the monkey wearing the dinosaur shirt 🙂 )

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yoga4 (they have yoga once a week).

We headed to the zoo a few weeks ago to take part in a science day they were having but the lines were really long and most of it was too old for Asher.  So, we opted to enjoy the animals instead.

DSCN2759 Asher, like his daddy, likes to have control of the map.

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DSCN2778 DSCN2783 DSCN2786 Have I mentioned how much I love sunsets here in the desert?  They are just so beautiful.

Thanksgiving was really nice this year.  We had 2 separate dinners.  One with some friends from church and another with some friends from work.  Both meals were really great.  A lot to be thankful for this year.  Really thankful for the friends we are making and the time to sit and enjoy a meal together so far away from the States.

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Today we got the holiday spirit (now that Thanksgiving is over!) Cranked some music and decorated the house!

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DSCN2795DSCN2796 DSCN2801He couldn’t wait to put up the star.

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DSCN2812 Our Advent calendar this year.  Going to be fun. 🙂

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DSCN2834 DSCN2839Candle light is just fun. 🙂

Some fun things coming up.  An event at Asher’s school and a trip to the Empty Quarter are right around the corner. Really excited for this holiday season!

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Happy Halloween!

Well, today is Halloween and unlike last year we were determined to do something!

Asher’s school had a Halloween festival this morning for a few hours.  So we got him all dressed up and headed out.

I am so impressed with his school as the year goes on.  They just really are all about fun and giving the kids really great learning experiences.  I love all the fun things they do.

Here are some pictures from the event today.

DSCN2709 DSCN2713So Adam and Asher came up with an idea to have him be Gomez from a game they had played together called Fez.  Adam made the cube this week.

DSCN2714 I know nothing of this game. 🙂

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DSCN2719 DSCN2721My cutie.

DSCN2722 DSCN2724I am more and more seeing the introvert in my child. It took him awhile to warm up in the crowd.  He’s so shy but he was so happy to see his teachers and friends.

DSCN2726This is him with his teachers this year.  They are wonderful.

DSCN2728Fishing for candy.

DSCN2731 DSCN2732Brains!

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DSCN2737 DSCN2738 DSCN2740Tattoos!

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DSCN2751 DSCN2753 DSCN2755Trick or Treating!

After enjoying the morning we took some time to get brunch and then nap (because its the weekend and hey, why not?). Then we loaded up on candy and watched It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.

Tonight Adam and I are going to watch Hocus Pocus (which he has never seen!). I”ve got my Reese’s Cups and sour candy, sadly no candy corn but hey, I’ll take what I can get.  The day even provided an overcast cloudiness to give a little spookiness.  Much better than last year 🙂

Happy Halloween!

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Beginning of the Year

Year 2 🙂

Asher started school a few weeks ago. He is enrolled in Sunflower School in the FS2 class (aka KG1 or Prek). He has a great teacher and a very diverse class (fantastic!) Kids from Australia, Finland, India, UAE, England, US, and some others. Such a great experience for him!  The school itself is very kid friendly.  The kids get to learn Arabic, yoga, sports, and gymnastics all during the week. Plus they get to cook every Thursday.  Its been really great for him and he can’t wait to get up every day and go!

1stday firstday22014-08-31 07.26.13(first day!)

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Asherschool arabic letter gymcrop

This year I have 2 KG2 classes. So I am dividing my time by half days to get to each class.  Its a very different year than last year. New admin and new co- teachers but I am feeling pretty good about it and starting to feel like I am getting into a groove. Plus I got some new Kandoras and an Abaya and know more Arabic than I did last year, which helps a ton.

Me year 2 uae

Personally we have been getting out and trying some new restaurants in town.  I think I mentioned Bukhara already but it is fantastic :).  We also ventured to Shakespeare and Company the other day. A tea shop like place, pink, old furniture and full of men!  They did have a family room which was empty and which we enjoyed.

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Yesterday we went to a birthday party for one of the kids in Asher’s class.  He was held at Action Zone, an indoor amusement park of sorts.  Asher had such a great time.  A bunch of 4 year olds running around in circles with balloons as swords, rides, chicken nuggets, and a spiderman cake.  What’s not to love?

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I also learned a few things: one- birthday parties are exhausting and two- Frozen is universal. Kids from everywhere know the words to all the Frozen songs and will sing them at the top of their lungs!  🙂

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The Hardest Part

So being an Expat definitely has its advantages; traveling the world, learning new cultures ect. The hardest part is being far away when sad things happen.

(When I started this I didn’t intend to make it a whole post but it developed as I went…so here it is).

 

I lost my uncle last week. I can’t even begin to express how sad I am and how hard it is to not be able to go to the funeral. I shared some of my feelings on Facebook but it still can’t capture all that I want to say.    

It’s hard to try to capture someones life with a few pictures and a head full of memories. 

UncleDaryldaryl3 I found this clipping from what appears to be a school newsletter. They had featured a poem that he wrote from his second grade class. 

Winter winds blow
And we will have snow.
The snow will get deep
And the cars will go beep. 

Of course the teacher in me loves to see stuff like this.  Just such a cute little picture into his life at a young age.  

I found a few old family pictures when we were young kids. 

  oldfampic2 oldfampic3Fun times with my Great Aunt Carolyn and family.  

 

 

Familyoldpic(Left to right) Daryl, Aunt Wanda, Lauren (I think), my Dad, Holly, Me, Uncle Dean, Grandma, and Grandpa. 

 

daryl2 Also a picture of a Buckeyes board when he graduated from Ohio State University.  I remember going to visit him once at his house on campus. I thought it was the coolest thing that he was in college and it made me excited to start thinking about (I was pretty young at this point!). 

I remember playing with him by the stairs and we would try to get past him while he tickled us and we would just laugh and laugh.  He was such a thoughtful man, always trying to get us things that we would like and humble about everything. He was great with technology and took secret ballroom dance classes (which was one of my favorite things about him).  He was the baby of the family, quiet, shy, and sweet.  I have random memories of playing croquet and badminton at my grandparents and watching as him and my dad grilled hamburgers in the back yard.  I remember wanting to be part of their conversations and sitting and trying to find a way to add something so I could be part of the adult world for a minute. He would also show me how to play games on the computer and give me advice on the best ways to play. I thought he was the coolest and looked up to him so much as a young girl. 

DSCN2459It’s weird to me that I just saw him last month and now he is gone. I am so glad that we were able to get together and catch up before we left the States again.  

I will miss him but I know he is at peace now and with his parents and oldest brother in heaven.  And with that I find comfort.  ❤

Love you Uncle Daryl.  

daryl

 

 

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Where You Hang Your Hat.

A common phrase, perhaps even cliche to most people.  I get it.  Its not one that I would generally use outside of making a joke.  But since I have been back in the UAE I have again been pondering the meaning of home vs. house.  

We had such a great time visiting family and friends. Though there were small moments of culture shock and some readjusting to the ways of the US, it was pretty easy to fit back in.  I thought it would feel strange coming back to the UAE after being around everyone for so long (seriously, a month is a really long vacation).  But mostly I feel glad to be here in our house, settled and somewhere that is ours (though we do miss you all).  I know that this place is temporary, a few years maybe, but it’s our little space and it means something to us.  

 I have found myself noticing the things that have become familiar to my life here again.  

The first thing I noticed when we landed was the quiet that was the airport.  Coming from Atlanta, where the airport was very loud, to entering Dubai airport – it was shocking to my system.  Hushed voices and thousands of people whispering all around, very different than the States. 

I saw magazines and signs in Arabic. I started hearing the Arabic (and many other languages) conversations and realizing that I couldn’t eavesdrop (thankfully) on other peoples conversations. We went exploring and found really great Lebanese and Indian food (Bukhara) within the city.  We got brunch at our favorite French place. We found book shops and gift centers.  I bought supplies for the new school year.  I saw a sandstorm with wind, rain, and hail.  And somewhere along the way (in the last week and through a lot of jet lag) I realized that this place, however temporary, was starting to feel like home.

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(Al Areesh, Lebanese)

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sandstorm

Our first year here was a year of healing for us.  A new start and time to enjoy each other and quiet.  This year Asher starts prek.  My new school year starts on Sunday and I am feeling excited about what will happen this year.  I feel rested and happy that I get the chance to do another year at a job that I enjoy.  Adam is enrolling in classes.  I feel that maybe this year we will begin to rebuild and try again.  

So here’s to our home and another year! 

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Stateside Final

Alright, so we come to the last leg of our trip.  

Adam and I decided to celebrate our anniversary by taking a night at our favorite hotel in Atlanta, The Glenn.  We enjoyed happy hour at McCormick and Schmick’s and the time away together.  After so many days traveling it was nice to have a night to ourselves.  

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Most of the rest of the week was filled with things that had to get done.  Shopping for things to take back, haircuts ect. 

And then: 

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He is now a tattooed individual! He has been talking about tattoo’s since we started dating so he is super excited!

 😀 

We took one more night to hang out with friends and say our goodbyes for the year.  We did sort of a progressive dinner, except we did it while eating out!  Our “Taste of Decatur” if you will! 

We started at Chai Pani for appetizers.  They have amazing SPDP (puris stuffed with a fantastic chutney and crazy balls of flavor) and kale pakoras. Plus mango lassi! MMM!

2014-08-06 20.34.192014-08-06 20.15.16  (We ate these too fast for a picture 🙂 )

2014-08-06 20.15.08  Kale pakoras (guys seriously, these are amazing).

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Ok, stop two: Taqueria del Sol.  Taco’s, chips and salsa, cheese dip, and margaritas!  

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Stop 3: The Brick Store.  Whoopie pies and drinks!  The had chocolate/peanut butter whoopie pies, super rich but really good.  Top that with a kriekenbier and some great conversation, awesome. 

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The food was amazing, but more so the company.  We are truly blessed to have such great people in our lives.  Thanks for such a memorable and fun night guys! ❤

 Time with family and last minute meals filled the rest of the week. 

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And then it was time to go. 

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❤ you all and see you next year. (Inshallah). 

Year 2 here we come! 😀

“To move, to breathe, to fly, to float,
To gain all while you give,
To roam the roads of lands remote,
To travel is to live.” 

― Hans Christian Andersen

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Stateside 4 Ohio (p2)

One of my favorite things to do in Canal Fulton is go down into our little town park and take pictures.  I love the big grassy field and unlike most states you can run around in the grass without shoes and not be too afraid of things in the grass. This time I took along the whole family.  (We did not match the kids on purpose!)  

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I mean, who doesn’t love some time at the park right? 🙂

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After we finished at the park and the rain was rollin in we headed to the Cherry Street Creamery across the street for some ice cream and Ash and Lilly got some time to run in the rain, which for Asher is a rare occurrence. 

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Later on in the week we were able to get together with some of Adam’s family and enjoy some food and conversation.  So good to catch up with everyone after so long. Plus Asher got time with his Great Grandma Fites, cousins, and great aunts and uncles!

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(too many pictures?  I know, but I couldn’t choose.  I liked too many of them 🙂 Bear with me won’t you 🙂 )

We also got to celebrate our anniversary while in Ohio.  8 years of marriage!  What a lucky girl I am to have such a wonderful man in my life.  We decided to do it right and get Swenson’s (twice, we did it twice in 24 hours, no judgement!) because, if you all remember, we are huge fans. 🙂

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We did do something “romantic” as well 🙂 We headed to The Winery at Wolf Creek, where we had gotten engaged (9 years ago!) and got some wine and walked the grounds.  

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This was the spot where Adam and I got engaged 9 years ago.

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After our time at the winery we met up with some friends for dinner.  So awesome to have time to get together and catch up. 

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The next few days my parents got lots of grandbaby time and then we were back to Columbus for a few more days with my sister. 

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IMG_20140723_134118 (and last minute snuggles with my nephew). 

Onward to Atlanta! Rollin first class! (free upgrades for us!)

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19/27 days. ❤

Thanks Ohio for the visit this year, you were beautiful as always. Your rolling hills, corn fields and rain did not disappoint. Family & friends- lots of love and best wishes for a great year. See ya’ll on the flip side.  And Swenson’s, until we meet again, stay great. 🙂

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Stateside 3 Ohio

The next part of our trip took us to my homestate, Ohio. We flew out of Atlanta and headed to Columbus. I was amazed at how much the prices of tickets have gone up and I had to get a layover! Anyway, I digress. I had been so so excited to get to Ohio as I hadn’t got to meet my nephew yet and he was coming up on 8 months! So you can imagine what I did as soon as hugs were shared!
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Such a cutie!  Plus I got to hang with my sister, brother-in-law and niece!  We stayed for 3 or so days and hit up a really great Thai place and a bouncy house warehouse of sorts.  It was so fun to see Lilly and Asher playing together! Plus more baby holding time for me!

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The next stop was my hometown of Canal Fulton.  A tiny little place in northeast Ohio.  But it is beautiful and so was the drive up. 

DSCN2412 Did I mention there was a office building shaped like a basket on the drive up?

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Here are some pics of my hometown.  

CF1 CF2 CF4 CF5(This is the church where Adam and I were married)

Anyway, we were off to spend some time with my family.  

DSCN2418 DSCN2419 DSCN2421 DSCN2425 DSCN2427 DSCN2428 DSCN2430 DSCN2434 DSCN2436 DSCN2439 DSCN2441 (Isn’t she just the cutest)

I thought it would be fun, because we hadn’t been home for any of the holidays this year, to do Christmas in July (and happily my family humored me). So we busted out some decorations and some music (thank you pandora) and gathered as a family to celebrate. And bonus I got to see my Aunt and Uncle whom I hadn’t seen in years!

DSCN2443 DSCN2444 DSCN2445 DSCN2446 DSCN2447 DSCN2449 DSCN2453 DSCN2458DSCN2464 DSCN2459 siblings!

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Can’t you just feel the Merriment? 🙂 

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