Friday, August 21, 2009

The Concept of HOME

Our recent trip back to California was so refreshing. It provided a long awaited bit of respite for the soul for all of us. We had looked forward to the trip for some time and were so excited when the time finally came for us to return to our beloved country, even if it was only for a few weeks.
I have traveled quite a bit in my short life and never have I felt so honored and blessed to be an American. I am ashamed to say that, prior to my experience in Abu Dhabi, I took the luxuries of the United States for granted.
Our flight to the US was quite strenuous. We traveled for 30 hours with 20 of those hours being flight time. Izzy was a real trooper. She hardly fussed the whole time despite our sometimes cramped conditions. The travel time took a lot out of Pete and I. We were exhausted by the time we landed in California. Nevertheless, we could not take our eyes off the beautiful landscape during our descent into Sacramento. As we both peered out the window we looked at eachother and almost in unison stated, "So two years, not three," (referring to our time commitment in Abu Dhabi).
While at home we held many question and answer sessions about the life, culture and our feelings about Abu Dhabi. Each time someone would ask us, "So how is it over there? Do you like it?" We would respond, "NO!" While away our contempt for Abu Dhabi really shined through.
We were able to fit so much into our time at home. We caught up with friends, attended a wedding, experienced the joys of western medicine, and even took a trip down to San Diego to visit Charlie before heading back to Abu Dhabi.
We were both dreading the trip back. We didn't only not look forward to the flight time, but being back meant we were back to the daily grind; the depressing life of Abu Dhabi. Our flight back went just as seemlessly as our trip to California and despite all our complaining about the desert and the frustrations of life, as we descended into Abu Dhabi we couldn't help but think, "It's good to be HOME." As strange as it sounds this is HOME for now and we will make the best of it while we can.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

This has got to stop

So for the past ffew weeks I have felt like I was actually making progress in the frustration department. I have been starting to let things slide a little more only because I know that the more I let things get to me, the more this place will wear on me. However, after today I have had it. If it means standing in front of the property management office with a sign and picketing, I will do it! and I mean it!

Many of you have heard about our traumas with the sinking sand and the breaking wall on the outside of our villa. We were promised it would be fied before we moved in which I am convinced was only a ploy to get us to sign the lease so they could get their money. Nevertheless, it was not fixed and the problem is only getting worse. The hole has gone from a hairline fracture to a huge gap so big that our dog can escape the back yard. This is caused by the fact that everything sinks in sand (quicksand) and the ground was not compacted properly before building on it. They assured us that the structure of our villas was not compromised by this problem and that the sand was in fact compacted under the foundation of the villa itself.

That's not all. They offered for us to switch villas to a much less desirable location but we were willing to do it. But, get this, they would not help us with any of the moving expenses. We have paid $1000.00 to have our backyard landscaped (grass and sprinkler system only, that does not work properly) and we have bought custom curtains to fit all the windows in our house. This is a must due to the fact that contractors think it is necessary to install windows the size of the Grand Canyon in every villa and apartment.

However, we might have decided to switch villas afterall had we known what I was going to discover only a few days later. As I walked around the side of the house I fell into the sidewalk. My foot stopped sinking halfway up my shin. The sand had settled so drastically in that area that the sidewalk, which is attached to the house, is falling in. This led us to believe that the sand under the villa is in fact settling. We were able to stick a broom handle down into the hole which is now partly under Isabella's room. Now, I am stressed that the concrete wall is going to collapse on our 7 month old daughter. If that doesn't make you nervous as a mom, what will?!?!?!

On top of that we have had numerous water leaks (approx. 7-8). Most of the time when maintenance arrives they tell us some sob story about how they cannot fix the problem and tell us to call them tomorrow. Now, when I call maintenance Pete tells me to use my "angry voice". Its the only way to get things done around here.

Needless to say, the reason I am finally fed up is the fact that Pete just went to open the patio door and the handle broke off in his hand! Maintenance has already been here once today and I am fed up!
So now I sit and wait for the director to call me back. Wish me luck!

Friday, July 17, 2009

The house is finally ready!

Many of you have asked for pictures of the house so you can get an idea of how we live. Luckily our shipment of household goods finally arrived last week and we were finally able to get settled. Things were a bit hectic for a few days; we even survived a faiting episode (but not to worry, I am feeling fine).

Pete relished in the glory of his new drill and everyday after work he would scour the house for pictures needing hanging, etc.. He took his duties quite seriously and did a wonderful job placing all of our artwork.

We felt quite rushed due to the fact that we were working on a deadline. We had promised to host small group just a few days after the shipment arrived and we needed to have everything in order before then. As we unpacked the boxes we were in awe at the sheer amount of stuff we have. We also wondered why we packed certain things. What were we thinking! I was quite frustrated that Izzy was too big to fit some of her clothes or her swing :(

Anyways, here are the photos of our place now that we are settled.


Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Six Degrees to Izzy

We've been meaning to make a post just of our favorite pix that capture the ever-growing personality that Izzy has been developing. So here it is; the long-awaited Izzy photo essay!

Infant UFC -

Welcome to Fuddruckers! -

Stroller shyness -

Miss Giggles -

Ohh, toes...

Yummy Yams -

Golly gee guys! -

Adoration -

Gift wrap by Victoria's Secret -

Heaven sent -

A girl's best friend -

Super Izzy -

Zoolander: "I have a new look. I call it..."

'Blue Steel'

Sir Bani Yas Island Resort trip

So our much anticipated escape from the city has come & gone way too fast, but the experience was great! After a 12-hr shift at work, we packed the Rav-4 (and the ever-growing crack in the wall with various cardboard boxes so the dog couldn't escape from the yard while we were gone... pix to follow!) and headed out into the desert to our destination 180km west of Abu Dhabi. Situated on the southern-most coast of the Arabian Gulf lies the island of Sir Bani Yas which we were told was once connected to the main land 17,000 years ago. The late Sheikh Zayed (the founder of the UAE) established the island as a natural wildlife refuge to increase the population of dwindling species of native (and non-native) animals including giraffes, cheetahs, Arabian oryx, African antelope, swarms of peacocks, African cranes and many, many species of gazelle. Our stay began with a boat ride to the island followed by a short bus ride to the resort on the northern most point. Every aspect of the hotel was definitely 5-star and our suite was amazingly lavish and we fell in love with it immediately. Included in our stay were many activities to choose from though the first night we ordered room service and went to sleep early! We were even able to request a full size portable crib for Izzy, so we all slept soundly. The next day we woke early for b-fast and went on our first endeavor; a mini-safari in an open jeep around the different wildlife reserves. Needless to say; even in the early a.m. the heat was out and it was quite hazy so unfortunately the cheetahs were not out in the open, there was one curious giraffe however who poked his nose in the jeep to stare at Izzy. I'm not sure which was more mesmerized by the other! Later while the girls enjoyed the pool, I braved the elements and hiked around the large lagoon and the hills beyond to go geocaching and returned sweaty and dehydrated, ready for the pool myself to find that my girls had indulged in the plush bed and slept the whole time! We spent the rest of the day relaxing, enjoying the pool and of course I squeezed as much adventure on the side out of every possible last minute before we checked out the next morning by going on an early a.m. kayaking trip out to a buoy and snorkeling around the reef. We headed home unwillingly after our short stay determined to come back again soon!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Al Ain Zoo Trip

Yesterday we took Izzy to the zoo in Al Ain. Al Ain is about 1 hour away by car and is considerably warmer. The zoo did not open until 4 pm and we arrived around 5 pm. During the day it had reached a high of about 120 degrees and had dropped to about 115 by the time we arrived. Enjoy the pictures of Izzy's pink little cheeks. She was slathered with sunscreen and was not sunburned at all. She just suffers from the rosy cheeks that we pale people suffer from as well.
Stay tuned for pictures from our Sir Bani Yas trip. We will be leaving in one week and are so excited. We will be able to see giraffes and Arabian wildlife in the wild. Not to mention the fact that we will be staying at a luury resort.
Also, the countdown begins for our trip back to California. We will be leaving July 28th.
Love, love, love

All in a Day's Work

For fun I have decided to write about one of my weekly endeavors, grocery shopping. Today was an interesting day. I asked Pete for directions to a new shopping center which is closer to our house. I am used to driving into the city to do my shopping but decided I wanted an adventure. And an adventure I did have! I had seen the shopping center off of the highway but was unsure how to get there. Of course I got lost. I knew where I was but due to construction and a faulty GPS which does not update the road closures, detours, etc. I was unable to get where I wanted to be. Quite frequently roads will suddenly be closed all together. Such is the case with a main thoroughfare in Abu Dhabi, Al Salam Street, which has been under construction for months. The people have been promised completion within a few months but Abu Dhabi’s hopes of grandeur never quite seem to pan out like originally planned. As you can imagine, these types of scenarios cause major traffic congestion. Emiratis are known to drive like maniacs and this only exacerbates the problem.
So, here I was semi-lost and unable to make a u-turn. I drove and drove and ended up on the truck road. The lovely truck road which Pete takes to work every day and thanks God each time he arrives in one piece. Okay, I exaggerate a little but it really does suck. At this point I finally see my destination off in the hazy distance and begin to maneuver my way through the semis, towards the exit.
In Abu Dhabi all grocery stores are located in malls. It really is not a smart idea. Emiratis love to shop, not for food, but for high end designer labels. Their maids do all the food shopping. Anyways, the fact that they love to shop makes it hard to find a parking space. They love to shop so much that when they see a mall they do not concentrate on how they park their car. They can take up, up to two or even three parking spaces in their furry to get a designer bag.
As I walk into the store I notice a sign, “Ladies and families only: 7pm to 10pm, Mon, Wed, and Friday.” Only in the UAE would they discriminate against the type of people they allow in a public store. This is apparently due to the fact that the shopping center is in close proximity to many labor camps where the underpaid foreign national workers live and they “bother” the ladies and families. Ahhhh!
I need to use the restroom but have Izzy in the cart. I am informed by the nice guard at the front entrance that the women’s restroom is in the middle of the mall. When I arrive I am forced to take the shopping cart into the women’s restroom with me. This is quite difficult but I am assisted by the wonderful bathroom attendant. Yes, there are workers in every bathroom in the city. That is their job. They hang out in the public restrooms all day and hand people paper towels and talk to their friends. Of course none of the stalls are big enough to take the cart into so I ask the nice attendant to please go around the corner while I go with the stall door open. I cannot hold Izzy while I relieve myself and I do not feel comfortable taking my eyes off of her.
When we are all done we stop by the coffee shop. I need a jolt of caffeine before taking on this incredible endeavor. The male employee, who is obviously the supervisor, tells the women what to do in a not so nice tone but I deal with it. I am extra nice to them to make up for his rudeness. Then he hands Izzy a miniature Snicker’s bar. It was a sweet gesture but infants should not have candy or peanuts.
Here the shopping carts are incredibly innovative. They are equipped with magnets on the wheels. In many grocery stores they have escalator-like ramps that take the shopping carts up to the next level. When a patron glides their shopping cart, or trolley as they like to say here, onto the ramp the magnets become engaged and the cart does not budge. However, I find one problem with this; the carts are dangerous when the magnets are not in use. They slip and slide all over the tile floors and I find it very hard to keep from ramming my trolley into an unsuspecting person. Then there are the children who think it is amusing to race the carts down the isles while I stand there like a deer in the headlights, wondering if I am going to see tomorrow. All grocery stores have these carts even if they are single level.
So, most of the time, I have Izzy with me when I go shopping. This can be quite a challenge as I attempt to maneuver my trolley through the isles without hitting anyone or being injured myself. In addition, Izzy seems to draw a lot of attention from the employees. Today I had about five women gathered around me pinching her cheeks and talking to her. They asked for her name and then called her by name. Every time I turned a corner they seemed to be there shouting, “Isabella. Helloooo, hellooo.” My favorite is when they ask to hold her and then wave, “bye-bye” as if they are taking her home with them. One time we were eating at a restaurant when the hostess approached the table and asked to hold Izzy while we ate. She then took her to the entrance of the restaurant to greet the customers as they walked in. At first I was worried and did not take my eyes off of her when another customer noted my worry and explained they had been coming there for years and the employees had grown accustomed to holding their son while they ate as well.
All’s well that end’s well…not! After making it through the maze of the store and convincing a “trolley boy” (no, really that is what is written on the back of their uniforms) to assist me out to the car I was shocked by the behavior of the Emirati in the car next to me. It is easy to tell Emiratis from other men because they wear long white robes called dishdashas and head scarves. He pulls up and lets someone out and waits a moment before attempting to back out. During this time I go to the back of the car to strap Izzy into her car seat. Apparently I wasn’t moving fast enough for him, so he honks. Not once, not twice, but three times before I am able to finish and relocate to the driver’s seat.
I hope you find this blog amusing. It is just a peek into our daily life over here. There is so much more to tell. We are slowing settling in and it feels nice to finally feel somewhat at home.

FYI: Although a lot of this blog sounds quite cynical it is meant to be comical. I do not believe everything here is terrible; it’s just different than what I’m used to.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Almost there...the art of being patient

We finally signed the lease for our villa this past Thursday and have a tentitive move in date of next Thursday. The UAE remains a "logic free" zone. I have been quite frustrated with the way things work around here. Both Pete and I are learning to be more patient but lately he has been mastering the technique a little better than I have. If I can make it through the next week everything will be okay.
Fortunately we have learned that there is a little more to do in the UAE besides shopping. We have been pondering the absence of tourist attractions in the region for the past few weeks. Yesterday we stumbled across Sir Bani Yas island. It can only be reached by boat or plane. As well as being a wildlife sanctuary it also boasts a seventh century monestary which is the only known Christian remnant in the region prior to the arrival of Islam. We are planning a trip in the next couple months.
Of course the island is also home to a rather expensive resort and all visitors are required to stay at the resort. Luckily it should be an easy trip to take with the little one who I am currently fending off of the keyboard. Better go focus on her. Will post pics and an update of her soon.
Much love

Monday, May 4, 2009

Need your emails!

Hey Everyone
I was kicked out of my Sac State account because I don't go there anymore! I had been ignoring their warnings for quite some time and now I have lost all my contacts. I need your email addresses. From now on I will be using the account.
Much love,

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Logic Free Zone

I have heard many people describe the UAE as a “logic free zone”. Although this is an over exaggeration, there are times when it holds true. Here are a few examples:
Return policies are almost non-existent here. A friend of mine recently bought a baby monitor at a well known store; similar to a Wal-Mart. They took their new purchase home only to find out it did not work. When they took the item back to the store to ask for a refund they were forced to wait for an hour before they received help. The store officials finally agreed to grant the refund under two stipulations: the item could be exchanged for store credit only and the store credit had to be used that day. Why, you ask……I don’t know and neither do the store officials.
Secondly, there are times when we can frantically be searching for a parking spot only to drive past multiple cars that are parked sideways, taking up 3 parking spots. This is actually a common occurrence because no one matters but you!
Next, I just heard a report that someone was assassinated with a gold plated gun. That’s when you know you have more money than you know what to do with!
Another surprise about the UAE is that commonly your car will be washed while it sits in the car park and it’s totally free for you. This great service is a result of the fact that you can actually be ticketed if you have a dirty car. At one point there was actually talk of a law banning all cars more than 5 years old from the roadways. Luckily, they decided to scrap that idea due to the fact that it is simply ridiculous!
One final example took place just the other day when I visited a local hair salon. For a few weeks I had been asking around for a hairstylist. Finally I got a lead on a local hairstylist that did not charge outrageous prices (at least not for here). An acquaintance told me she got her hair cut and colored for only 550 dirham. This is roughly $150.00. Now keep in mind that not only was this quite cheaper than the 700 to 800 dirham I had been quoted at other salons, but the acquaintance had 2 to 3 times more hair than I do. Therefore, I thought my visit would be a bit cheaper. Additionally the hairstylist came highly recommended.
When I arrived at the salon I was not greeted with a warm welcome. I was stared at as if I was out of place. When I finally asked someone to help me they said someone would be right with me so I had a seat. When the stylist finally summoned me over to the chair she began to add color to my hair. Of course she could not do this without the help of her grossly underpaid Filipina assistant. Throughout the process the stylist continually degraded the quality of my previous cut and color.
Once the color was added and my hair was washed, she began to blow dry my hair. Then she asked me, “Blow dry and that is it?” At this point I was quite confused. Not only had I made an appointment for a cut and color but I had specifically made the appointment with Refi whom I assumed was a male. I did not think the stylist doing my hair was Refi, but I gave her the benefit of the doubt. After all, maybe I had just made an assumption that Refi was a man.
I then asked her politely to please cut my hair as well. When it was all over she presented me with the bill. She said, “My name is Luna. Here's my number if you want to call me. It will be 500 for the color and 150 ($177.00) for the cut. The blow dry is free.” As I attempted to suppress my shock, I responded, “Thank you, how very generous of you,” and walked out.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Life's UPs and downs

Family Update

This week has been rough. Pete and I could not be more excited about the fact that our villa will soon be ready. We were recently made aware of the miscommunications that can arise when living with people who do not have children. A few nights ago our roommate became quite irate over a simple misunderstanding. During this incident, I felt an increasing reassurance in our belief in Jesus Christ. As Christians one of the lessons we are taught is to forgive one another. Our roommate could not seem to grasp this concept. She refused to drop the “issue” until she was positive I had delivered a sincere apology. Finally, after about 20 minutes of unnecessary insults (on her behalf), she agreed to end the conversation and move on. Needless to say, things in the house are feeling a bit awkward today.
All of this took place after we arrived home from an amazing night of food and fellowship at the house of a friend from church. Last week we decided to sign up for an event called Adventures in Fellowship. This is an event in which a person or family of a specific nationality hosts a dinner at their house with the goal of introducing others to their culture. We were invited to the house of a British woman. Joining us were a Nigerian family and a woman from Belorussia. Although a few of us had seen each other at church, we had not yet had the opportunity to really get to know one another. Pete and I were so inspired to hear about each person’s walk with the Lord. They were all amazing people and it was such an honor to be in their presence!
So, with that all said…with every good thing bad also follows. However; we feel so encouraged by the plans God is carrying out on our behalf. We could never have imagined that such a wonderful church family would exist in a predominately Muslim country. Thank you for all your support and prayers. XOXOXO

Izzy Update

Izzy had her 4 month check-up on April 22nd. She weighed 15.2 lbs which is 6.9 kgs. During this appointment she received 2 shots and an oral vaccine. Unfortunately she screamed and screamed after the shots. Finally the Dr. said, "Give her to her father; he will clam her down." Sure enough, it worked! Soon after that she was all smiles again.
The Dr. was great. She was very competent and encouraged me to call her with any questions or concerns. She also suggested I try giving Izzy some pure rice cereal before bed to help her sleep more soundly. I struggled with the idea but soon decided to try it as I'm desperate for sleep. Izzy loved the cereal but it did not help her her sleep better at all. Nevertheless, I will continue to give it to her once a day. Of course she loves her mealtimes but she especially seems to love the novelty of eating with a spoon. She loves to get messy. I will post pics soon.
She is also being transitioned to her own room and cradle. We found a baby monitor that works well through these cement walls and she is doing much better on her own. Last night she only woke up 2 times!
Her personality is starting to develop so much more. She has started to really giggle. It is the cutest thing. Today she was smitten over the fact that I was singing her "Father Abraham" (the old Sunday school tune). She is so cute.

Keep in touch. Much love.

The St. Germains

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Huge giant leaps

Izzy has began doing everything more. She eats more, sleeps more, talks more, cries more, moves more, is teething more, and drooling more. She is developing quite quickly. A few days ago Pete bought her a walker and she loves it. She has now inherited the nickname "Scooter". It is so fun to watch her scoot around. She can nearly stand on her own with little support. An added benefit is that she picks up dust from the floor with her feet. We will soon be seeking a patent for 'baby swiffer booties' ™. Well, hope you enjoy the pictures and video. Much love!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Our life continues

I would love to be able to tell you all that my life is glamorous and filled with new adventures. However, that would be a lie. Now that our new move has happened and we are beginning to settle in, our life has become quite mundane. Although I love our new life, the UAE lacks a certain mystery I have experienced in other foriegn countries. Perhaps this is due to the westernization of the UAE. Part of me loves the fact that I can visit a Baskin Robbins or a Starbucks whenever I desire, while another part of me wishes we were deeply immersed in a new culture. However, the avaliablility of so many of the modern conveniences of home have helped to make the transition much smoother.
I had reported in a previous post that we found the perfect villa. Since then I decided that that particular villa would not work for us. Since making that decision we had been on a frantic hunt for the perfect place. During that process our highly recommended realtor became quite frustrated with our needs and decided she could not help us anymore. We asked around, drove around looking for signs, and searched the web and finally our prayers were answered. Some new friends from church happened to send us an email with the name of a realtor for a villa that was way out of our price range. When I actually contacted the realtor he had many availabilities and led us to the perfect place. Our new place is 3 bd, 4 bath plus a maids room (not that we intend on getting a maid but all the places have one), has a large garden (not yet landscaped), and is situated in a complex which includes a fitness center, pool, cafe, and many parks. It also allows for easy freeway access for Pete's commute to work.
Our realtor has so graciously negotiated the installation of all the light fixtures before we move in. It is not uncommon to move into a place and be expected to buy all your own appliances (stove, refrigerator, dishwasher), complete any landscaping yourself, and install all the light fixtures. I don't think they understand the term rent (we don't own it, you do!). It is also expected that the tennant pay 1 year of rent at the time of the lease signing. I can imagine that this is not an easy task for the common person. On average monthly rent ranges from $7,000-$10,000 US dollars/month in Abu Dhabi. Anyways, I will stop complaining and move on to bigger and better things.
We have been blessed with the best church community here. Although we have only been to church 3 Fridays so far, we have met so many wonderful people. The other day Pete watched Izzy while I went to lunch with a few of the women from church. We had a great time of fellowship and it was so nice to get a break. It was also great for Pete and Izzy to have some father-daughter time. He took her to the park and I think they even found a few geocaches.
I have also started going to the mommy's group. I have met so many wonderful women who allow me to pick their brains for information about life in Abu Dhabi. God has been so good to us during our transition.
We have also welcomed a new addition to our family. Lucy was abandoned in front of our current residence. Our roomate rescued her and the rest is history. I have been training her with some help from our roomate who is a well known dog trainer in Abu Dhabi. Lucy is a good girl but she's still a puppy and is very playful.
Well, I hope this finds you all well. Keep in touch. XOXOXOXO

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Open Mind

I realized that my last blog did not explain much about the culture here in the UAE so this blog is intended to do just that. As many of you know, the UAE is a rich country. It has made its wealth through oil. With that has come a segment of the population that is very privileged. And like many countries there is a large gap between the rich and the poor. There is really no middle class to speak of.Many of the rich do not need to work so they hire others to do it for them. The UAE has become the temporary home to many foreign national workers from all over the world, particularly the poorer nations. These people work for pennies on the dollar. Now, for some people this is the land of opportunity; while for others, it is the land of discrimination, segregation, and racism. It is not uncommon for a rich Emirati to go off on a foreign national because they attempted to put the "cheap" gas in their Bentley (a scene I witnessed just the other day) or for a foreign national to be stopped by an Emirati in a fit of road rage (another scene I have witnessed).Although these scenarios are frustrating, there are many things I appreciate about the UAE and it's people. For example, they are very prudent about demonstrating any type of physical violence in public or through the media. This country also has a very low incidence of crime. There are few problems with firearms or theft. I can go walking at 10:00 pm and feel safe. I can also leave my car running in front of a store without fear that it will be stolen or broken into. Women here are also allowed more freedoms than those in most other Arab nations. They are able to hold positions of power, work, drive, and decide their own choice of dress. These are all freedoms we take for granted. The other day I was informed that my husband will have to write a letter of permission in order for me to get my driver's license here. This was and still is irritating to me.Additionally, women wear the traditional dress and face coverings only if they choose to. Emirati's are also very family oriented. They pride themselves on participating in recreational activities. The city contains many well-kept parks and beach facilities and encourages people to use them.Many of us can also learn a lesson from the dedication they possess in practicing their religion. They pray 5 times each day. Each time the call to prayer is broadcast throughout the city as a reminder. Although I continue to be surprised by the daily events I witness here, I am maintaining an open mind. It is easy for any of us to judge something if it is different from what we are accustomed to. I am thankful that our daughter will spend the first few years of her life in a safe environment, however I know there will be many things I will have to explain to her. Despite the fact that she is a woman, she is still entitled to the same privileges men are. Although she is not a rich Emirati, she does not deserve to be looked down upon or talked down to.
I can only imagine what could be accomplished here with an anti-biased curriculum. Children should be taught from a young age that there is value in everyone. So, teacher any of you want to come start an anti-biased education movement in the UAE????

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Reunited again

So, many of you might be wondering, "What happened to the St. Germains?" Fortunately we are doing great. We have been forced to take an internet hiatus due to the fact that we do not yet have internet access in our temporary home. A friend has graciously loaned me their computer for the afternoon in order to tell you all how we are adjusting to life in the UAE.
On March 31st after a frustrating few days, our family was reunited once again in Abu Dhabi, UAE. For those of you who were not informed, our flight was cancelled out of North Carolina due to severe weather. This event caused us to miss our connecting flight in New York to Abu Dhabi. Luckily we were able to stay one more night in Charlotte, NC before heading out the next day.
The flight was wonderful. Izzy slept almost the whole time (13 hours) and when she was awake she was all smiles. I was very anxious so I did not get much sleep. The flight crew was wonderful and took very good care of us the whole way. If you ever decide to come this way I highly recommend Etihad Airways.
Our past week here has gone very smoothly. The country is very westernized and there are many expatriates from all over the world. After we stepped off the airplane and made our way through customs I was greeted by a wonderful sight...Starbucks (that's right Rick, you would not be deprived of your daily cup over here!).
Our main adjustment has been the sleep cycle. Izzy is doing quite well other than her teething pain which sometimes keeps her up at night. However, I have not quite established my sleeping schedule yet. Pete works nights which has made it hard for all of us to adjust.
There is plenty to do here during the day. The community we are living in has a pool, beach access, and a workout club. Although I enjoy where we are living now, it is only temporary. We spent two days with a realtor in search of the perfect place and found it today. It is a small gated community of only 10 villas but it is quiet and very safe. It even has a backyard for Kyp! We plan on bringing him over as soon as we are established.
We also found a great group of people at church. We went to church on Friday (friday is their sunday) and met from all over the world. After the service we went to lunch with 6 other couples. We plan on attending whenever we can. I also plan on joining the mom's group which meets every Monday.
Well, ,life here is great. Things are slowly coming together. We purchased our first set of furniture and will slowly be buying things to furnish our new home. I look forward to hearing from all of you soon. Keep in touch and bye for now.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Teething Bites

Izzy has transformed herself from a happy-go-lucky baby to a teething terror! Unfortunately our family starts teething early. She began to get fussy a few days ago on our way back from Idaho. I just assumed she was tired of travelling. However, upon closer inspection I noticed she demonstrated various signs of teething. Hopefully this new stage will not negatively affect our travels. I have read about home remedies and I will begin experimenting this week. If any of you have any other ideas, please share. Thanks!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Seasoned Traveler

So Izzy did wonderfully on her first flight! Early Sunday morning we started our trek down to the Sacramento airport in order to board a flight to Idaho. I was running on very little sleep due to the fact that we attended a wedding the night before, we lost an hour in the time change, and college students being loud at my brother's house while we were trying to sleep. I was literally a walking zombie! However, I learned my lesson. During the many years I travelled by myself I never cared what times the flights left as long as the tickets were cheap. Unfortunately I still had that mindset when I booked our tickets to Idaho; causing me to book a flight leaving at 6am.
Nevertheless, we made it to Idaho without a hitch. I was so worried that Izzy was going to experience ear pain during take off and landing, but she did great. She slept the whole time and didn't make a peep. Many passengers commented on how well she travelled. During the return trip she sat quietly on my lap and looked out at the fellow passengers. It was too cute!
Well, Idaho was definitely an adventure. It was really important for me to see my grandmother after her recent heart attack and surgery. She was so blessed by us being there and it was such a joy to see her interact with Izzy.
Just 7 more days until we are off on our next adventure. Can't wait to see all our family.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Getting the little things in order

15 days to go!

Yesterday Izzy and I took a 2 hour trek down to Sacramento to have our documents notarized. I was reminded of the fact that if it weren't for Pete, I wouldn't have my head on straight. The two documents we had to have notarized were our marriage certificate and Izzy's birth certificate. Luckily, a few months ago Pete had urged me to get another copy of Izzy's birth certificate just in case. I thought he was crazy and refused to believe we would ever need 2 but went with it anyways. Turns out the Secretary of State office will only notarize birth certificates that are signed by the county clerk-recorder. The original is signed by a medical professional which they would not accept. Just when I thought I was going to have to go back to Yuba City (about an hour away) and get another copy, I realized that I already had another copy. Thanks to my hubby we were safe and able to get the documents notarized without a problem. Today we were able to send the documents off so they can be notarized in Washington, D.C.
We're counting down the days before we leave. Izzy and I will be travelling to Idaho to visit her Great Granny Arleta for a few days before we leave. Guess we'll see if she likes to fly or not. Cross your fingers!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Our Family

Interesting facts about our family:

- Pete and Alysha met online ( in the Fall of 2006.
- Pete proposed to Alysha on their 9 month anniversary in Napa Valley, CA while on a hot air balloon ride.
- Pete and Alysha were married January 25, 2008 in an intimate ceremony in Tahoe, CA.
- We welcomed Isabella Grace St. Germain into the world on December 22, 2008.
- Pete separated from the Air Force on January 4, 2009 after serving for 10 dedicated years.
- Pete currently works as a Field Engineer in various locations.
- Alysha graduated with her Bilingual (in Spanish) Elementary Teaching Credential in May, 2008 from California State University, Sacramento.
- Currently Alysha is a stay at home mommy but plans to return to work in about 3 years when Izzy is ready for Preschool.
- Alysha and Izzy will be reunited with Pete on March 30, 2008 in the United Arab Emirates.

*Keep checking back for updates from the UAE

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Counting down the days

I created this blog so that family and friends can remain updated about the St. Germain family adventures. Right now Izzy and I are staying at my mom's house in Red Bluff, CA and are waiting patiently for March 20th. On March 20th we will be starting our journey. Izzy and I will spend about 10 days on the east coast visiting family and will officially leave the United States on March 30th. I am so anxious to be reunited with Pete once again and Izzy is excited to see her daddy. She has grown so much since he has seen her last.

17 days to go!