Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas to all...

...and to all a good night!

Monday, December 23, 2013

The Book Effect

There is something about a bookstore that quells homesickness, even if it's just for a bit. 

Starbucks' Toffee Nut Latte also helps. 

Thanks, books!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

And where are you guys from?

Over the past two months, one of the most common questions Rob and I have been asked is, "And where are you guys from?" The answer to this question was simple at first, "The US." But then people ask, "Okay. Where in the US?" 

This is where it gets tricky. I say, "Idaho" and Rob says, "Michigan...but we live in Idaho." 

The response is normally, "Oh! Idaho? That's near the Great Lakes, right?" 

I think most people get Idaho and Iowa/Ohio confused, like Idaho is a hybrid of the two. I have started saying, "No, Idaho is in the Pacific Northwest" and when I still get the deer in the headlights look, I resort to saying, "It's near Seattle?" and most of the time, by this time, they nod like, "Oh, yeah...I know where that is."

As we've gotten to know people better, they've been more honest with the fact that they can't place us in the US, based on our accents. I think most UK-ers think that Americans all talk like they are from Kentucky or Louisiana.  Our good friend, Dawn (a Scot) says things like, "Hiiiiiii. I'mmmmm Ameeerrriiiiicaaaaannnn" in a long, drawling, southern accent, and it crack us up.

But it got me to thinking, do Rob and I really speak that differently? I mean, I make fun of the way he says, "Cahllege" instead of "College" and "Mawm" instead of "Mom," but honestly, how different could we really sound?

Turns out, quite differently. You may have seen this NY Times link floating around Facebook: "How Y'all, Youse, and You Guys Talk" so it was perfect timing to test it out.

This is a pictorial representation of my results. Pretty spot on, if you ask me!
Faith's Results

But the "most similar" area on my map is quite large. Granted, I was born outside of Portland, used to live in California, and have spent most of my life in Boise (pretty cool that Boise was one of the three cities that popped up!). But, I thought, okay, it's just one of those tests that gives everyone a very generic result.

So, here was the real test: what would Rob get? His results are below and my mind is officially blown. Look at his "most similar" area - holy moly! Grand Rapids? Toledo? Detroit? Are you kidding me? 

Rob's Results

Best. Test. Ever.

And not to get all teacher-ish, because it's break and my brain is pretty wiped out from the last two months of teaching, but can you imagine being an ELL in a system that has English Medium Teachers from all over the world? Ireland, Scotland, England, US, South Africa, Australia. I make fun of my friend Dawn for saying things like "Mum" and spelling "favourite", can you imagine trying to learn English from a Pacific Northwesterner one year, a Scot the next, and then, oh, I don't know, a Kiwi the next? Makes it a little difficult for me to hold misspelled words against my current students.

Happy Christmas to Us!

We made it. We made it to Christmas Break and it is AWESOME: three weeks of no school, no students, and most importantly no waking up to an alarm clock!

Although we are bummed to be here for Christmas, rather than home with our friends and family, we are trying to make the best of it.

We celebrated the first few days with mini-vacation/road trip to one of the northern Emirates, Ras al Khaimah (RAK).  It's within driving distance of Abu Dhabi City (243 km or about 2 1/2 hours).

Driving through the desert is not what you would call pretty, although we did get to see free-range camels... 


...and I'm pretty sure we found R2D2's original home. 

A last minute Expeida booking landed us at a five-star resort, the Cove Rotana, for dirt cheap and it was fabulous. From a couples beach massage to charging meals to our room (firsts for both of us), it was three days of nothing but lounging by the beach and pool, simply enjoying being together, and NOT being at school.

Since it is "winter" here, there wasn't a ton of traffic by the pool. But for us crazy Americans, 82 degrees is plenty warm for sunbathing. 

 All you can eat buffets, the beach, and very little else equaled the perfect mini-vacation to begin our Christmas vacation.


Tuesday, December 3, 2013

National Day

On Monday, the UAE celebrated their 42nd year of being just that: the United Arab Emirates.

Everything from cars to hotels, from bikes to faces were adorned with the country's colors (black, red, green, and white) and also sported the face of the late Sheikh Zayed, Father of the UAE.

It's quite incredible to see how far this small country has come in 42 years and it is a genuine love that its people have exhibited the last few weeks leading up to National Day.

Here are a few quick looks in the UAE's National Day (further proof I need to buy a nice camera, Rob):

Every building in the downtown area had some type of National Day
decorations, including Al Burjeel Hospital.

Window sticker on a BMW - no big deal.

Spirit of the Union - On the side of Mushrif Mall. 

Giant flags were everywhere - two stories high!

The 7 presidents of the 7 Emirates

Happy National Day!

Even the fruit and veggies got involved!

Lights on every light pole

Fireworks at the end of the night - the end to a beautiful day!

More soon,

Monday, December 2, 2013

December Photo Challenge

Thank you, Pinterest, for a December (how is it December already?) Photo Challenge.

Day 1: 8 o'clock

I am so very thankful for a husband who says, "I'll put it (an IKEA dresser that has no-word directions) together for 8 o'clock...on a Sunday night."

Day 2: Peace

Peace is a classroom before students (and other staff members) arrive. 

Day 3: Something You Held

Starbucks and Sanpellegrino helped me hold my tongue while grading (or as all my UK colleagues say, "marking") sixth grade autobiographies. 

Day 3: Black and White

This is one of the scavenger cats in our appartment complex. Poor thing - cat food just got added to my grocery list.

Day 5: Looking Up

Our apartment building is humongous. 

Day 6: From Where I Live

At a school assembly, my sixth grade class performed a traditional dance. They were embarrassed because "Miss, we danced like babies. Not good." Even though they did mess up a couple of times, nothing can take away from the excitement, color, and life that they exhibited. 

Day 7: Stars

You can't see the stars in Abu Dhabi City. It's one of the things that I miss the most about Idaho.

Day 8: Someone You Love

This guy. Nuff said.

Day 9: Out and About

I miss my girlfriends from back home and our "nail dates" - thank goodness, though, for a little bit of out and about pampering.

Day 10: Under

Yas Island Tunnel - One of our favorite spots in Abu Dhabi.

Day 11: Sweet

Chocolates from National Day - delicious!

Day 12: Hat

I actually didn't take this picture. But I miss our little dogs and all their accessories! 

Day 13: Lights

Christmas decorations - Abu Dhabi style.

Day 14: Something Green 

Christmas tree lighting at Yas Marina - hooray for a real, green tree.

Day 15: Outdoors

Are we in a Star Wars film? Seriously, where do we live?

Day 16: Something You Made

For Thanksgiving, I made two pumpkin pies for the first time. Since then, I haven't made a single thing. Unless you count sandwiches for lunch. I'm really good at that...not really, Rob normally makes our lunches. 

Day 17: On the Floor

Yeah...I got nothing. The only thing on my floor is clothes. Because I need to do laundry. 

But it is Christmas break and I don't do laundry over Christmas break, or at least I haven't yet. 

Day 18: Makes You Feel Merry

Day 19: Something Beginning with an "S"

Day 20: Weather

Day 21: Tree

Day 22: Decoration

Some swag from our trip to Dubai. 

Day 23: Joy is (fill in the blank)

Day 24: Tradition

Day 25: Lunchtime

Day 26: Mess

Day 27: How You Relax

Day 28: Cold

Day 29: Hot

Day 30: Something that made me smile this year

Day 31: Self-portrait

So, I didn't get a picture for every day. Maybe completing one of these Photo Challenges will be my New Year's Resolution? Nah, probably not.