School days…

I am SO pleased with the kid’s educational experiences so far. What a blessing to have access to great education, it’s something we take for granted in the USA, but the fact is many people don’t get a quality or in fact any schooling. School is quite expensive here, we are so grateful that Cerner pays for most of the tuition fees starting with KG1!

Clare:

Clare is THRIVING this year in first grade! She’s got THE BEST teacher ever, Ms Janel. She is the epitome of a “Progressive Teacher”. Clarion is a Progressive school, until we found it I had no idea what that meant. Basically it means learning by doing, by experiencing the world around you. It’s rooted in the present experience here and now, not it in the ways of the past. There is a strong emphasis on critical thinking and includes much group work. There are many field trips (sometimes twice a week!). Clare is reading and writing at grade level, and her math skills are above grade level. She is currently taking football (soccer), choir and drawing as extracurriculars at school, as well as swimming lessons on the weekend.

Here are som pics of a pizza making trip, Sports day, a trip to Old Dubai among the gold souks and on an abra, Clare with her new sunglasses and doing her “home connections” (can’t call it homework because of the negative connotation 😂), and her new favorite book.

Joe and Tom: They are SO happy at their Montessori nursery! They have recently been accepted to Clarion for KG1 next year so all my kids will be at the same school 😀. This means Clare will no longer have to ride the bus! (She loves it but I prefer driving her myself!). The boys will only be 3 when starting the school year (equivalent of 4 year old preschool in the US) because here the birthday cut off was changed a couple of years ago to Dec 31. They will also be separated into different classrooms, we shall see how that goes 😬.

Here are some pics of their recent adventures in nursery:

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I read 82 books in 2018

On January 1, 2018 I decided to keep a log of all and any books I read.  I did not include books I began reading and abandoned, of which there were probably 1 or 2 a month.  I am SHOCKED at how many books I read.  One may ask, “Suzie, how do you read so many books?”.  The answer is I literally read constantly.  In line at the store? I am probably pulling up my book on the kindle app on my iPhone.  Every single night before sleeping? I read for at least a half-hour, usually much longer.  I usually choose reading over watching tv and over scrolling facebook (although I still fit in plenty of both of these!).  I am sure I got less reading done back when I worked full-time!  I don’t only read when I know I have a good chunk of time to devote to it, I can very easily read happily for 5 minutes and have no problem mentally checking into and out of stories frequently.   I would say my favorite books are fiction, with characters I can relate to (stories centering around motherhood), but I also have been reading a lot of memoirs and biographies, specifically of Revolutionary War heroes.  I enjoy re-reading books and often return to an old favorite once a month or so. This past year I read Gone With the Wind for probably the 10th time and I re-read all of Wally Lamb’s books for the 3rd or 4th time.

Here is my list for 2018 for anyone interested!

Books read in 2018

January:

Counting Chimneys – Sandy Taylor

Keeping Katherine – Susan Zimmerman

Unmarried Mother – Sheila Tofield

Misconception – Paul and Shannon Morell

The Middle Place – Kelly Corrigan

Glitter and Glue – Kelly Corrigan

Of This Much I’m Sure – Nadine Kenney Johnstone 

Amy and Isabelle – Elizabeth Strout

Abide with Me – Elizabeth Strout

The Other Mother – Gwendolyn Gross

The Unexpected Mother – Susan A Ring

February:

The Nest – Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney 

The Mother’s Promise – Sally Hepworth

Dead Babies and Seaside Towns – Alice Jolly

Say When – Elizabeth Berg

The Story of Arthur Truluv – Elizabeth Berg

The Arrivals – Meg Mitchell Moore

Girls in Trouble – Caroline Leavitt

The Mothers – Jennifer Gilmore

March:

A Snowball in Hell – Mary Reese

North Haven – Sarah Moriarty 

After the Eclipse – Sarah Perry

Talk Before Sleep – Elizabeth Berg

Every Last One – Anna Quindlen 

One True Thing – Anna Quindlen 

The Family Next Door – Sally Hepworth 

April:

The Story of Molly and Me – Fran Luvin

Juniper : The Girl who was born to soon – Kelley and Thomas French

Firefly Summer – Nan Rossiter

Girl in Glass – Deanna Fei

Jackie’s Girl – Kathy McKeon

Amoret – Kathy McClure

May:

Gone with the Wind – Margaret Mitchell

And Babies Make Seven – VJ Konig Keelan

Like Rain on a Dry Place – Wendy Salisbury Howe

This is My Daughter – Roxana Robinson 

Dear Thing – Julie Cohen 

Inside the OBriens – Lisa Genova

June:

Scarlet: Alexander Riplay

Breeding in Captivity – Stacy Bolt

Evidence of Love – John Bloom

124 NICU Days – Ryan Rhodes

Sleep With Angels – Lorene Humpal

Two Little Girls – Theresa Reid

Heartbreak and Miracles – Vicky Herbert

Waiting For Daisy: Peggy Orenstein

July: 

All We Ever Wanted – Emily Giffin

The Russian Word for Snow – Janis Newman

A House for Happy Mothers – Amulya Malladi

Those Three Words – Christine Bauer

Fairy dust to Daffodils – Patricia Steele

I Hate Piñatas – Heather Malloy

I’ll see you Again – Jackie Hance

Shelter Us – Laura Nicole Diamond

The Baby Plan – Kate Rorick

August:

That Kind of Mother – Rumaan Alam

No Matter What – Sally Donovan

A Mother’s Goodbye – Kate Hewitt

We Are Water – Wally Lamb

The Hour I First Believed – Wally Lamb

September:

When He Fell – Kate Hewitt

I know this much is true – Wally Lamb

The Secrets We Keep – Kate Hewitt

The Leftovers – Tom Perrotta

The Things that Keep is Here – Carla Buckley

Invisible – Carla Buckley

The Deepest Secret – Carla Buckley 

The Good Goodbye – Carla Buckley 

October:

The Immortalists – Chloe Benjamin 

A Spark of Light – Jodi Picoult 

Where the Crawdads Sing – Delia Owens

This is How it Always Is – Laurie Frankel

Goodbye for Now – Laurie Frankel

The Atlas of Love – Laurie Frankel

November:

Adopting in America – Lori Lyons

The Invisible Girls: A Memoir – Sarah Thebarge

Poor Your Soul – Mira Ptacin 

The End of Normal – Stephanie Madoff Mack

Beyond the Garden – Ashley Farley

December: 

Becoming – Michelle Obama

John Adams – David McCullough

The Dew on My Toes – Simone Mason

School Days

I am so relieved to say that all 3 kids are having an EXCELLENT school year!  We had such a fun summer, but they all got super attached to Mommy and were all hesitant to be away from me.  I also was heartbroken at the thought 🙂

Clare is in first grade at Clarion school.  They have a “Progressive American” curriculum. I am not an education person like my spouse so I can’t give you the exact definition, but it means lots of field trips, a low student to teacher ratio, hands on learning, “igniting curiosity”, and alternative ways of learning.  No sitting at a desk for 8 hours a day.  They do robotics, have swimming weekly, all kinds of fancy schmancy stuff.  The thing that I care about is “Is my kid happy?”.  Clare is sooo happy.  She totally loves her school, and thinks it was named after her LOL.  Her teachers this year are Ms Janel and Ms Miff.  Clare’s best friends are Hashem and Rayana.  P.E. and Art are her two favorite subjects.  Twice a week she takes an after school activity (CCI) – Mondays she takes an extra Art class and Thursdays she takes a storybook/art class.

Joe and Tom have been having a BLAST at Prek!  They are attending the same nursery Clare went to – Creakids.  It is a Montessori program, so very child-led, nurturing, low teacher to student ratio.  The first week of school there were a few tears, and from then on they’ve never looked back!  They are learning their numbers and letters, and most importantly making friends besides themselves! Joe’s BFF is Kallie, Tom’s is Hanna.  Their main teacher is Ms Muby, there are 2 other teachers in the classroom whose names I don’t know because I just am horrible with names.

Randomness

Tom pulled out my nose ring approximately 2 weeks after getting back to Dubai. It was fun being a cool mom for a hot minute!! The hole closed up immediately and there’s no scar….whew didn’t want to ruin this beautiful face!!!

The boys have completed 2 full weeks of PreK!! They go from 8am-12:30pm Sunday-Thursday. The first week there were some Tom tears, but the second week they both found their groove and don’t want to come home with Mom in the afternoon!

Clare loves first grade, and has already been on 2 play dates. Her teacher is lovely, and we continue to love Clarion! Next year the boys will attend KG1 there (if we are still in Dubai next year….I should really devote a whole post to the eternal struggle of where in the world to raise our family that Shawn and I are going through right now)

Clare and Joe start their swim lessons today (Tom continues to dislike the water so we aren’t forcing him). We had a great brunch with our good friends Cassie and Matt and their adorable twins Edith and Arthur yesterday.

We were so sad to say goodbye to our dear friends Erin, Brent and their little girl MG last month. Brent works at Cerner, Erin and I became instantly close when we were pregnant together. We spent almost every day together since and and sent hundreds of texts daily since then, so them being gone has been a huge adjustment. They moved to Sweden, which I am super jealous about. Fresh air, liberal attitudes, cooler temps ahhhhh.

A couple months prior to this our good friends Mike and Kristie moved to Berlin. 😢. That’s one of the hardest things about being an expat – you make these intense friendships (because lack of family around truly turns your friends into family) and then ultimately one of you move away. But I’m trying to look on the bright side….from our time here so far we now have good friends in Germany, Sweden, London, Oman, the Netherlands, Canada…and I’m sure more places that I’m missing.

Have a great weekend all!

From our boat ride home from brunch yesterday 😂

Quincy Girls do OCMD 2018

I just got back (24 hours ago) from the most amazing week ever! 8 best friends from QND class of 1999 met up in Ocean City, Maryland leaving behind jobs, husbands and kids to relive our youth and let loose. I was so afraid I’d be homesick, have horrible jet lag, receive texts from home about things going wrong, etc., but NONE of those things happened! We didn’t even have any severe hangovers (thank you Amy and your hangover pills). We did however receive one tattoo (Emily), one piercing (me – my nose) and got booted out of a bar (Lindsay). Being 37 clearly has not slowed us down!!! And while I did miss my husband and kids, something about being with these fantastic human beings whom I have known for decades had a way of making me forget I even had a family 🤣

I left Dubai at 2:20am, which worked out as I was able to sleep for part of the 14.5 hour journey. I got to the airport at 10:30 and walked around for a couple hours, finally settling down for an omelette and the biography I’m reading of John Adams at Giraffe Cafe. A wonderful solo meal that I savored! I slept for the first 6 hours of the flight, then woke up and watched Chappaquiddick and I, Tonya, both of which were great movies. Close to landing I changed clothes, washed my face and other areas 😬🤪, applied some makeup and exited the plane just about as pumped up as I’ve ever been in my life!!!

I met up with Emily at the rental car facility, and attacking her as she exited the shuttle bus was exhilarating! We jumped in the car and drove to Reagan to pick up Amy and Rolvi. Once all 4 of us were in the car our excitement was palpable! I’m not sure there is anything we didn’t discuss… we stopped for some lunch and drinks and then got some drinks for the road for the rest of the trip.

We arrived at our rental condo and reunited with Carp, Lindsay and Amanda!!! Everyone was there except Rebecca, who had travelled to OC with her hubby. We started playing board games and of course drinking more (our livers were the real heroes this weekend). Carp and I (with the help of Lindsay) finally brought down the Humble Dynasty that has reigned supreme as long as anyone can remember (ding dong the witches are dead!!!!!) We went out to dinner on the boardwalk and finally met up with Rebecca, then collapsed into bed.

Day 2 we hit the beach and the boardwalk. The weather was GORGEOUS, especially for this desert girl. Sunny and 70-80s, 60s at night and random thunderstorms. After drinking (we are Guido’s burritos), sunning and playing euchre, I very randomly got my nose pierced. I literally have never for even a millisecond considered that as an option for my body, but hey – when the mood strikes and you’re 7 beers in sometimes the fates collide and magic is made. This was one of those days. I am very happy with my piercing and it didn’t hurt at all (thank you Corona). We ended with dinner at De Lazy Lizard then talking and more drinking at home.

Day 3 we split up – Rolvi, Amy and I spent about 8 hours playing slots and drinking beer (starting to note a pattern – a wonderful, amazing life altering pattern), while Lindsay, Emily, Amanda and Carp went for some yoga on the beach. This was a day when I definitely wanted to be in 2 places at once, as the beach yoga looked great! However playing slots that day may be in my top 10 favorite days ever so I did make the right decision. We ate at a sushi place for dinner, Emily got a Mom tattoo on her wrist (mind over matter!!!), and we ended the evening at a karaoke bar. This is where the infamous “Lindsay got thrown out of a bar” incident went down, which I actually wasn’t there for but from the story I heard she didn’t do much wrong at all, the bouncer sounded like a steroid junkie on a power trip. Emily, Amy and I had a mini Dr Phil counseling session while that was going on, and from what I can remember we had a great time! (Choose to be happy ladies – words of wisdom passed down through the years, originally authored by our own Rolvi).

Our last full day there we split up again. Amanda, Linds, Emily, Carp and I travelled to Assateague Island for stand up paddle boarding (SUP!!!) and some wild horse sightings (still don’t thing they’re that cool), while Amy and Rolvi hit up the boardwalk. We had some amazing shellfish and seafood at Hooper’s and settled on our lanai for an evening of games. None of us wanted the next day to come so we stayed up way too late 😢

On our last morning 4 of us had to get up super early in order to make it to DC on time, but all the girls were nice enough to wake up and see us off. Our trip back consisted of a lot of financial talk – college and retirement accounts. Suddenly we were thinking and acting like 37 year olds again. Emily flew off first. I got checked into my airport hotel and went exploring with Rolvi while Amy took a nap. We had a great lunch and I stocked up on some more US products (coming home w lots of medicines ☺️). I saw Amy and Rolvi off and then was all alone 😢😢😢😢. I did a workout at the hotel gym, then had one of the best nights ever in a king size bed by myself watching the new season of Orange is the New Black. The next morning I flew home. I had a great flight home, completely finishing the whole season within 24 hours of starting it.

Coming home was so great! I was pleasantly surprised (and mildly offended) that they all did so well without me, and in fact the kids didn’t even seem overwhelmingly happy to see me. Well well well I guess I’ll just have to jet out by myself more often!

Special thanks go out to Shawn for encouraging me to go on this trip – I was completely sure it wouldn’t be doable but he pretty much made me book the trip and I’ll be forever grateful! More thanks go out to Emily and Amanda for the bags and bags and bags of clothes for the twins, and for helping me pack the clothes and buy another suitcase to bring the clothes home in. Joe and Tom won’t need any more clothes for the next 2 years at least. Thanks a million!

And thank you to all of my Quincy Girls. You are the 7 best friends I have on this earth and I’m thankful for each and every one of you. Until we meet again ladies!!!!

Spring 2018

Summer officially starts in 2 days…however it is already over 100 every day here so it has felt like summer for quite awhile.  Here are a few photos and memories from the last few months:

Fun beach days and playing at Oli Oli

Clare and Dad went and checked out a Dahli exhibit

Our whole family became OBSESSED with “Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus”.  We read the book 2-10 times a day and make up our own versions with the app.

Sickness hit the house HARD…multiple episodes of super high fevers and GI Yuckiness.  The only silver lining was everyone napped a lot….

Clare performed in her Spring Concert.  I’m not gonna lie when the whole school sang We Are the World I bawled like a little baby. 

As it got warmer we started frequented indoor play places, often with our bestie MG!I had the best birthday ever!!  Shawn took me to a movie and out to a FABULOUS dinner.  We also enjoyed birthday cake and I got a new iPhone 8 for birthday/Mother’s Day.

Clare lost her other top tooth!  Still missing both

Amazing field trip to Ski DubaiRamadan 2018 is over!  We enjoyed filling the Ramadan fridge near our house and at Clarion School…they are for the workers to eat and drink after fasting all day.

We ended the season with potty training, huzzah!

February and March 2018 recap

I haven’t blogged in soooooo long! I am going to to try to recap the last 7 months in the next few days. Here comes a picture and memory dump!

Early 2018 was focused a lot on getting Tom to wear his glasses. We first got them in October after learning his vision was horrendous. He is extremely nearsighted (-7 in both eyes, normal for a 2 year old is +4). We didn’t do anything special to finally get him to start wearing them, other than one day we finally decided enough was enough and stopped taking “breaks”. Within a few days he was wearing them! He now asks for them immediately upon arising.

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Clare continued to love school, albeit with “bff” drama every other day. I swear I didn’t know kindergarten could be so cliquey. She goes to a progressive school, they take field trips almost every week.

Clare also lost her 3rd tooth in February, and now as of June 18th the permanent one still hasn’t come in. Her dentist said it is there it’s just taking it’s sweet time.

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Our family also got new passport photos, as Clare and my passports were about to expire and the boys need new residency visas soon.

OMG we look like the serial killers version of the Brady Bunch hahahahaha!

Let’s see, also Shawn started playing softball and we enjoyed fresh air and Easter, with a trip to the Hatta Mountains that yours truly won for free on Facebook, and I have continued working out frequently. That’s about it! Boy this blog post has been thrilling. Hi Mom!