Wednesday, January 22, 2014

It's Elementary

Today at my school, we got the news that one of the grade 4 EMTs (English Medium Teachers) is out on medical leave...indefinitely. And we will not be getting a replacement.

Currently, I teach two or three grade 6 English classes a day and the rest of my day is intervention/small-group work.

As of tomorrow, however, I am the new grade 4 English teacher.

And I thought sixth graders were tiny and needy.


Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Today in Abu Dhabi

Today in Abu Dhabi:

28 February - Nails and sunbathing -- today was a good day! And how is tomorrow March 1?

27 February - It is our "Friday" - woot, woot!

26 February - This week cannot be over soon enough.

25 February - PAYDAY!

24 February - Denise, from Koler Expo, emailed us. More to come on that at a later date.

23 February - I'm still teaching grade 4 and a grade 6. Rob is still more referee than teacher. But, whatever. It's almost payday.

22 February - Happy birthday to my mom! Wish we were there to celebrate with you!

21 February - Our weekends are the best.

20 February - FREE DAY at school. No teaching required and there were blow-up slides at my school.

18/19 February - Nothing like food poisoning to ruin your week. Nothing like getting two days off from school. Woot, woot!

17 February - Happy birthday, sweet Isla Younger! We miss you!

16 February - Nothing much to report from today. We survived to fight...I mean, teach...another day.

15 February - We have to go back to school tomorrow. We've never had jobs that we dreaded so badly.

14 February - Happy Valentine's Day!

13 February - We booked the first part of our spring break trip to Europe - Italy, here we come!

12 February - Today was a rough day. School is tough, we are missing home, so we threw ourselves a bit of a pity party: complete with comfort food as we watched the Olympics.

11 February - We bought Apple TV. It is awesome.

10 February - I cooked dinner tonight. Winning!

9 February - FaceTime is such a spectacular thing. Nothing quells the feeling of homesickness quite like being able to talk screen-to-screen with our moms. I mean, getting to visit home would be GREAT, but until summer, FaceTime will have to do. School Note: Rob is still learning the names of his new classes (three to be exact) and I'm still adjusting to being a grade 6 and a grade 4 teacher. I just do not know how you elementary teachers out there do it!

Also, I cleaned the apartment today for the first time since Christmas break. Please don't be too judgy.

8 February - Some time by the pool and I think we are ready to tackle the week. Rob isn't all the way sick...yet.

7 February - I didn't get out of my PJs today. Neither did Rob. It was a good day of lounging on the couch.

6 February - Still sick. Still tired. And now Rob is getting sick.

5 February - It's my littlest sister's 21st birthday. Goodness, that makes me feel old.

4 February - Please refer to my "PB&CC" post. It's been a rough day.

3 February - We cheered for Peyton Manning during our DVR'd copy of the Super Bowl. What a terrible football game, but at least the commercials were decent.

2 February - I've been sick since January 5. Today, I took a sick day. And in order to take a sick day, I had to do the following: call in sick, go to the doctor, convince the doctor that I was indeed sick (not just wanting the day off), wait in line for an hour for my prescription to be filled, and pay $27 for the doctor's visit and 4 prescriptions. I think I'll just go to school tomorrow.

1 February - Rob's writing a book. I got my nails done. It was a good day.

31 January - Dubai's Omega Classic: Rory, Tiger, Fred, and my boy(friend), Miguel Angel Jiminez.

30 January - Dubai for the weekend: a night exploring old Dubai's Heritage Village, a professional golf event tomorrow, and a sincere appreciation of living in Abu Dhabi, rather than Dubai (a post to come explaining that viewpoint).

29 January - It's been a rough week at school for both of us. We went to bed at 9:23pm. And that was the highlight of our day.

28 January - We paid off two credit cards today: it was a LEGEN - wait for it - DARY.  We've also been watching a lot of How I Met Your Mother. 

27 January - A parent of one of my students gave a PD presentation to our staff on the difference between active and hyperactive children. It was all in Arabic and we viewed the PowerPoint in the "Edit" pane, not the "Show" view. It lasted an hour.

26 January - I'm officially a grade 4 teacher for the rest of the trimester. It's going to be okay, it's going to be okay, it's going to be okay.

25 January - Happy birthday, Dad! And hooray for Skype so we could (kind of) be there!

24 January - Drinks at a hotel that overlooks the Yacht Club and the Abu Dhabi Formula One Racetrack? Uh, yes, please!

The bar is in the upper left hand corner, right under the open roof of lights.

23 January - Thursday is our Friday (and thank goodness for that).

22 January - I survived my first Abu Dhabi-style P/T conferences tonight. No one screamed at me in Arabic, no one (aka me) cried. Really, the only thing that could have made today better would have been a "post conference" at the Firehouse.

21 January - We stopped on our way home from school to get information on leasing a car from the local Chevy dealership. It was 3:03pm. They are open from 8:00-1:00 and 4:30-8:30. We left, defeated by the silliness of what is deemed "working hours." 

20 January - A fourth grade student asked me, "Miss, you have rubber?"I stammered, "Um...I'm not sure what you mean." She replied, "Miss, you know..." then pointed to the top of her pencil, turned it over, and acted like she was erasing her writing. Rubber = eraser in Abu Dhabi.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

So, you're thinking about moving to Abu Dhabi?

A Note and Disclaimer: This is an on-going post. I'll continue to add as Rob and I continue to trek our way through our first year in Abu Dhabi.

The following is what worked for us and what we experienced in our move to Abu Dhabi. 

You will find that everyone's experience is just a little bit different. But that's the norm here in the UAE.

* * *

First, a piece of advice: do your research.

Before you interview, before you accept the job, before you touch down in Abu Dhabi, do your research.

This is what worked for us:

Cell Phones:

First and foremost, Rob and I are iPhone people and we wanted to remain iPhone people while in Abu Dhabi.  Now, I don't claim to be an expert on how cell phones work, but I did my research and guess what? Our phones work over here!

This is what we did:
  • We no longer have US numbers or pay for a plan back home. We looked into keeping our numbers, but it was what we considered an unnecessary expense. You'll have to make that decision for yourself. We were lucky enough to be at he end of our contract with Verizon, so it worked out well for us.
  • We purchased factory unlocked iPhones (an AT&T 4 and 4s) at a local retailer shop in Boise.  It is important to note that we bought UNLOCKED AT&T phones. Unlocked AT&T (along with T-Mobile) phones take and use SIM cards and because the carriers here in the UAE use the same type of SIM cards, they will work over here.
    • A note: Back home, we both used a Verizon iPhone 4. Yes, Verizon would have unlocked the phone when we paid off our contract, but a Verizon iPhone 4 doesn't use a SIM card, so even unlocked, they wouldn't work over here. 
  • Since we brought our phones from home, we use a prepaid system here in Abu Dhabi. We pay $25.00 a month for data and have together have purchased about $60 in minutes since October (I'm currently typing this the middle of January).
  • One cell phone option that is available here is a one-year contract, that includes a new phone (iPhone 5c or 5s, Samsung, etc). Those plans run anywhere from $60-$100 a month.  We know quite a few people who ended up going with that option for convenience. The prepaid option (what we do) is less-expensive.

Other Technology:
  • We brought the following Apple gadgets with us to Abu Dhabi:
    • Two (2) iPhones
    • MacBook
    • iPad
  • VPN (Virtual Private Network) - A VPN is technology that protects your online identity and your data as it is en route to your computer. The question everyone asks is, "Do I really need one?"

    The answer for us was simple: yes. Yes, we needed one.

    Basically, a VPN lets you access things like Netflix,, FaceTime, HuluPlus, etc. which are blocked in the UAE. And just to be clear, it is not illegal to have a VPN in the UAE.

    We currently use and couldn't be happier (and I'm not being paid to say that).
  • Buffalo Router - This is the router we purchased and brought with us to the UAE. You can buy one through the Teacher Tech Shop (Amazon powered store which is ran by a tech support guy here in AD and again, I'm not being paid to say that!) and it was worth it. The Astrill VPN can be loaded directly onto the Buffalo Router, therefore, every device that connects through the router is using the VPN (aka, I can be watching New Girl on the iPad while my husband streams Sons of Anarchy on the laptop).
  • SlingBox - This might be the best investment we made before moving to Abu Dhabi. SlingBox is a small box that you hook up to someone's US cable or satellite box. SlingBox uses the internet to allow you to access any recording as well as watch live TV, using the cable or satellite from back home. This allows us to record and watch any sporting event (mainly BSU and MSU basketball and football games) and allows us to keep up on all of our current TV series.
  • We don't subscribe to any local cable channels. We connect our iPad to our TV and rely on Netflix, HuluPlus, Amazon Prime Streaming, and Slingbox. We've been really happy with that decision. But please note, you can only access these things if you have a VPN.
  • All of the gadgets we bought with us can handle to voltage used in outlets in the UAE, but the actual plugs won't fit. We purchased adapters through the Teacher Tech Shop (see the link above). We brought three adapters with us (one for each of our phones, plus and extra) and we have purchased two more here (you can find them at any store here for CHEAP). 
Hair Stuff (for the Ladies):
  • I'm sorry to say it, ladies, but I didn't bring my curling iron, hair dryer, or straightener with me to Abu Dhabi. I bought one of everything here. Here's why: 
    1. Most US hair appliances can't handle the voltage here aka they will short/fry out.
    2. The plugs won't fit the outlets.
    3. I didn't want to risk ruining my straightener, curling wand, etc from back home.
  • I also didn't bring full-size shampoo and conditioner with me. I used the room and weight in my baggage for an extra pair (or two) of shoes. You can find almost every major (grocery store) brand here in Abu Dhabi - I'm not super picky, Dove does the trick for me and I can find it at anywhere.
  • I've been very happy with my choice to buy hair stuff here, with the exception of hairspray. I've yet to find a hairspray that doesn't sting the back of my throat or smell like my grandma (and not the good smell). But, I haven't given up hope!

  • Schools are segregated: boys and girls. Therefore, if you are a man, you will teach boys. However, if you are a woman, you will be placed at one of two options: a girls school or a feminized boys school (one that is staffed completely with women).
    • Boys School Hours: 7:00am-1:00pm
    • Girls School Hours: 8:00am-2:00pm
  • Teaching in Abu Dhabi is unlike anything either of us have ever experienced back home. It's not bad, it's just different. If you have more specific questions regarding teaching in Abu Dhabi, email me at: and I'll be happy to reply.
Buying a Car:
  • We are currently in the process. I'll let you know how it goes.
Again, this is a post-in-progress. As we experience new things, I'll be sure to add them. And if you have any specific questions about life in Abu Dhabi, feel free to email me at:


Here are a few other links you might find helpful:
Ask Ali
Abu Dhabi Teacher Tech (You'll have to request to join the group and then my advice would be to check out the "Files" tab. Don't bother with reading all the posts from people; it can get very overwhelming.)

Want to help us get home?

If you're reading this blog, I'm assuming you care about the (Not So) Idaho Readers.

So, maybe, if you care, and if you get a chance, click on an ad and help us get home sooner than we planned?

Okay. Done pleading.


Fake Out

Over Christmas, my sister and I exchanged this text conversations:

Her: Are you on your way home to surprise us?

Me: No. Why? :(

Her: One of your Facebook posts just said you were in Illinois. :(

Me: Oh. :( Sorry. It's our VPN.*

While Facebook may say that I am in Denver or Indiana or anywhere stateside, I'm sorry to say that yes, we are still in Abu Dhabi.


*A VPN is way for us to access US internet sites and service, along with protecting our online identities. It's pretty awesome. If you have more questions about VPNs, see my post entitled "So, you're thinking about moving to Abu Dhabi?"

Abu Dhabi Time

Everything in Abu Dhabi takes longer than you expect. You can't drive anywhere in under a half hour. You can't run any errand in less than an hour. The line at the bank is horrifically long. The line to buy cell phone minutes and data wraps out of the store and into the mall hallway.

We have a standing joke when we leave the house, "So, we won't be back before dark, right?"



Sunday, January 12, 2014

Looking Back and Looking Forward

2013 was a year of ups and downs for the (Not So) Idaho Readers. 

We celebrated our third anniversary.

We welcomed three new, sweet nieces into the family.

Isabelle Grace

Campbell Rue

Violet Reece

Our friendship circle also expanded with the addition of seven new little ones to love and play with (and then give back to their parents when they cry!). 

Leslie, I stole this picture from your Facebook page - thanks!

In 2013, we also learned that our family plan was not going to go as planned. We decided to move halfway across the world, to a huge city, in the Middle East, in order to finance our now changed family plans.

The Grand Mosque - on my daily commute. 
And while our experience teaching over here has been, shall we say, less than ideal, there have been some highlights. Like, the pool area at our apartment:

Or the fact that we've already been to two professional sporting events:

World Tennis Championships - Abu Dhabi

DP World Tour Championships - Dubai

But even though our pool is awesome and we have gotten to do some very new and exciting things while in Abu Dhabi, it still isn't home. That being said, we are going to try and make the best of our time here.

My goals for 2014 are pretty simple:


And here's to hoping that 2014 is going to be full of new and happy adventures for the (Not So) Idaho Readers.

Happy 2014!