Monday, 29 June 2015

Project "Clearing out"

Every year before the big summer holiday it's the same thing, I get this urge to clear out and tidy up. Slowly, slowly I'll sort through all my clothes and all the kids' clothes, not only so I know what to pack, but also to clear out what they don't fit or don't wear anymore. Makes it easier to know if there is anything I need to shop for while away, plus it's so nice to come back to well organized cupboards.

I have also been sorting and clearing in their rooms, actually this is something I do fairly regularly, especially in Linnea's room, as she is a bit of a hoarder and collects and keeps the weirdest things. Same thing here, it's so nice to come back when the rooms are well organized and tidy, and everything has a place.

Yesterday and today we have been helping Lucas sort out his Lego. We got some new shelves from IKEA, where he will be able to store all (well, or at least some, he has quite a bit...) his ready-built Lego (because the plan is to build all the sets, eventually!) and we reorganized a bit along that wall, to give him some more space. It turned out pretty neat, don't you think?


The new set-up has already spurred him on to build 3-4 sets! Good going!

Saturday, 27 June 2015

Bring Sally up, bring Sally down

Today was the last CrossFit Kids session for this term. Both kids have enjoyed these sessions immensely the last few months, and after staying to watch today's session I understand why.
The two leaders, Coach Sabine and Coach Annie, do a great job keeping all the kids in line, while making the exercise fun at the same time. Although all the kids disagreed loudly when Coach Annie called the "Bring Sally down..."-exercise a game..! Ha ha!
As I've done this exercise myself a few times, I can agree - it's not exactly fun! See a snippet here:

video

The did a few different events today, in a little end of term CrossFit "competition".
First briefing:


They had to guess their own 100m row...


Perform their longest broad jump:


Sumo Dead Lift High Pulls:


Burpees, always....


- and to finish off everybody received a certificate, and they had a team photo!

Friday, 26 June 2015

The people of the UAE

The UAE is one of few countries where the locals are in minority in their own country. The Emiratis only account for about 11% of the population in the country. This number is growing though, and there are also a lot of policies in place here which ensures that even though the Emiratis are in a minority, they remain a majority when it comes to influence, possibilities and growth.

I recently found some fairly new, and interesting, statistics over who lives here in the UAE. These statistics are estimates only, coming from the UAE National Bureau of Statistics, and also provided by different Embassies of other countries in the UAE. According to these statistics there are 4,000 Swedes in the UAE, and about 450 Kiwis.
This graphic is a good illustration of the current population:

One more week

So we are nearly done for the year, only one more week of school to go. Although to be honest, it feels like the kids are just sitting off time... The End of Year Reports have already been handed out and the End of Year parties have already taken place.

Because of Ramadan the school day starts half an hour later than usual, and ends an hour and a half earlier than usual. The kids say that more than half of the students in their classes are absent now. The ones who fast, either sleep all day and don't come to school, or have left the country; and many of the expat families have already left for the summer.

Otherwise Ramadan doesn't affect us much in our daily life. One thing you do notice is that traffic is a lot quieter than normal, and the malls are also a lot quieter than normal (during the day) so you get things done a lot faster!
Something a little bit more inconvenient is that most food outlets are closed during the day, so no  leisurely lunches or big excursions, if you don't know where to go. A few places are still open, but you have to sit behind huge curtains or blocked off windows, which isn't an issue in itself, the tricky thing is knowing which places are open and not if you get hungry on the go.
Obviously you can't drink, eat or even chew gum in public, but I think it's important to show respect for local customs, so it's no big deal.

Ramadan means the rhythm of life here gets tilted for the locals, especially at this time of the year when it occurs during the hot months. Most people sleep most of the day - wake up to prepare for iftar (breaking fast) which is at sundown, and then they stay awake all night. Everything gets arranged to suit these times, f.e some of malls are open during Ramadan until 2-3am.
I was asked for Ramadan to cover a few Zumba classes at a gym nearby, but had to decline when I found out they had scheduled them at 10.30pm... I still operate on normal time, and that was way to late for me! :)

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

They are back!

So, school is already out for the year for our cousins in Scotland, and they are going to spend some holiday time in NZ for the first time in eight (!) years.
It's a long way to go from Aberdeen to Taupo, so they chose to break their trip here in Abu Dhabi for a few days, and come and stay with us (as the kids and I wont be here when they're on their way home).


They don't really cope well with the heat (well, who does?!), so we have only been doing inside things, playing X-box, going to the mall, getting treated to flute concert, building Lego, watching movies and hanging about.


 It's nice having them here again - I love that the cousins are all such good friends!


Auntie Nikki wanted to go to the gold shop in Dubai, surprise, surprise, so her and I took a little drive up there yesterday. She had some things made to order that we had to wait about for, so we decided to browse Dubai Mall a bit. Since it's Ramadan, it was like a ghost town. No eateries are open during daytime in the Mall in Ramadan, so it was very, very quiet.

We managed to find a coffee shop outside of the mall that was still open, so we could have our lunch. But of course out of respect, you have to sit hidden behind blackened-out windows... It really feels like you are doing something really naughty!

Saturday, 20 June 2015

Midsummer 2015, part 2

We were supposed to go to Dubai this weekend, to see through the start of Ramadan with some friends. Plans changed after they had a very sudden change of circumstances and had to move out of their house earlier in the week. Back in temporary accommodation and back to square one looking for houses after a crazy week for them.

So we decided to stay in Abu Dhabi for the weekend, and instead got invited to join a Midsummer celebration in Al Reef, yesterday being the 'real' Midsummer. It was lovely to share the afternoon with some fellow Swedes - ... and an Aussie and a Kiwi!
The flower wreath came out again, of course, here we are on our way in the taxi:



We didn't have a Midsummer pole (although I'm thinking for next year that's a must!) but at least we all had flowers in our hair. Wreaths were constructed out of both real flowers, and a bit more long lasting IKEA flowers.


The Midsummer Mums:


... and some Midsummer Dads!


And finally a bunch of Midsummer kids!


In 45 degrees heat, you can't really blame the kids for playing inside rather than outside though...


Some were patiently waiting until they were allowed to swim. We had told them "after the food"...



The spread was amazing! You can really get anything here in Abu Dhabi, we are very spoiled! It was just like at home, we had both 'sillsallad' and herring, crispbread, 'prinskorv' and other Midsummer essentials. Very tasty!




Happy Midsummer!!

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Double birthday

Lucas was invited to his friend Maria's birthday party yesterday after school at Adventure HQ.
She had a combined party together with her little brother - but it was very much separated into the little ones...


... who got their food from McDonalds, superhero themed cake and cupcakes; and the big ones, who had their food at the Shake Shack (by themselves!) and then picked up "dessert" from Starbucks afterward - oh dear, they grow up way too fast!

Grade 5 Graduation time!

Yesterday was a big day for Lucas, it was Graduation Day!


(Yes, we still have two more weeks of school, but as Ramadan starts tomorrow, I guess school wanted to give all students a chance to be there for this ceremony, many take off as soon as Ramadan kicks in.)
Here's Lucas and his Grade 5 class before the ceremony:


This was his last year in Primary School (=Primary Years Program, Junior School, Early Years - same, same), next year he will be going to Middle School (=Middle Years Program, Secondary... etc).

Yesterday all parents, friends and family were invited to their Graduation, which was held in the PYP gym. The parent group had decorated together with the teachers, and the theme for this years Graduation was 'The Wizard of Oz'.


The students all marched in across the yellow brick road, and gathered up the front. The Lion, the Scarecrow and the Tin Man were all there too!
Five classes of Grade 5 students, all very excited and happy and in t-shirts they had decorated themselves for this occasion with the motif "Express yourself".



We got to listen to a blessing sung in Korean, to a group of students reminiscing over their past years in PYP, to the Head of PYP wishing the students good luck and to the students singing a couple of songs.



But, us parents also had a surprise - a few of us mums had practiced a flash mob (although it turned in to more of a "surprise performance" than a flash mob) that we performed for the kids. Here's a little movie, I'm in the middle in the back in a black dress (without a hat...):


The kids got VERY surprised, and happy! I could hear Lucas very excitedly shout when I joined in:
-"There's MY mummy!"
They really had no idea, to see their faces as more and more parents joined in was priceless!! Lucas is on the top row, just below the lion:


"This is gonna be the best day of our life, we're graduating Grade five!" *Goosebumps*
Short clip of one of the songs performed:

video


After the students had received their certificates, and once the more formal ceremony ended, we moved across to the cafeteria where a buffet had been set up and we all could mingle and chit chat for a bit; and where the teachers got thanked:


Lucas and Ms Annie, who has made all the difference for him this year. Best teacher ever!


Checking out the 'Wizard of Oz'-themed wall, where the children had reflected over which character they thought they were most alike. Lucas had picked the courageous lion:



The kids were electric, so it wasn't easy trying to get them to stay still for some photos. Only managed to snap very few, but here's Lucas and a couple of his Grade 5 friends:




Now it's back to class for the two last weeks of Grade 5! :D

Monday, 15 June 2015

Coolio

Normally it's Nathan that takes Lucas to his haircut, as the spa/salon where we take the kids for haircuts has two branches, one only for ladies and one for men. But today we had no option, as Lucas needed a haircut before his graduation ceremony tomorrow - and Nathan is in Amsterdam. I had to send him to the hairdressers all on his own.
It's all very safe here so no biggie, and he always gets his haircut by the same stylist, that knows him and his hair.

Well, today he came out like this..:


Not sure this was the original plan, but I like it and I think it suits him! As the theme for graduation is "Express yourself", I guess it's rather fitting!