Sunday, 30 March 2014

Settling in

Linnea has really enjoyed taking part in the whole settling in process. She has been very active in choosing her furniture, she has helped unpacking boxes (mostly her own...) and she has organized everything very nicely in her room. Both her clothes in her cupboard, her toys, but mostly the things on her desk. She just loves her new desk.
It's really nice to see that she is enjoying keeping her room tidy, and how much she is enjoying all her new furniture and her new room. It's not quite done yet, still a few more little things missing, and another toy shelf, but she already spends a lot of time just pottering around up there.

Both kids have lost a tooth each since we've been here! First Lucas the other day, and it took the Tooth Fairy unfortunately about two days to catch on that he had a tooth in a glass next to his bed (...), and then Linnea while we were out at a restaurant on the weekend. But by then the Tooth Fairy knew the way to our new house..!

Out of town visitors

We had our first out of town visitors this weekend - the Dehlis, who came down from Dubai for the day. It's only 1h10min door to door. They came for coffee in the late morning, but ended up staying all day, and Frederik cooked us pork for dinner, yum!

Daniel was a bit confused when they left, and wanted to know if we were here forever now, not only for holiday! Bless. Yes, we will see a lot more of each other in the future..! :)

The Beast

So, this morning our car was ready for collection, finally. We've nicknamed it 'The Beast'. It's huuuge!

There was a bit of briefing involved before we could take it away. It has quite a few specs on it we didn't have on our previous Toyota. Like remote start of the engine, automatic opening and closing of the boot, and automatic folding of the rear seats; it automatically turns off the airbag in the passenger seat if there is a little person, sonar warning system all the way around and a camera for reverse parking etc, etc.

As it's my car, I got the keys!

The interior is very roomy. There is even a fridge in the center console! It has lots and lots of little storage compartments, I like!

Kids loved it too, they have individual screens where they can watch DVDs, play video games or connect and listen to their iPods. They sat very comfortably and could see very well out of the windows, we like riding high.

It also has a built in GPS which of course will be a big help for me when I start driving around. Although it didn't quite agree with us straight away we managed to get it to find our first destination - the Marina Mall.

My Beast! ♥

Friday, 28 March 2014


Today has mostly been about unpacking. We had no imminent jobs, and we all felt like a day just potting around at home was just what we needed.

Unpacking moving boxes when you haven't packed them yourself is certainly a bit like Christmas - it's all a bit of a surprise what unravels. So far I've at least found amongst other things our champagne glasses, our soya containers for sushi dinners and the apple pie dish. All good, useful things!
The packers really did a phenomenal job. Everything was packed very thoroughly with a lot of layers of paper and bubble wrap. Linnea whilst helping me unpack thought it was a bit like playing "pass the parcel" with all the layers, but unfortunately without the candy in between!

Unpacking generates an incredible amount of rubbish though... We are getting rid of all the paper and the empty boxes little by little in the big garbage container down the road, trying not to fill it all up in one go...

Out of our 50 boxes, I only have six to go downstairs; with four staying unpacked until it's Christmas (yes I have a lot of Christmas stuff!) and about four or five to go upstairs - plus the three big ones that only contains Lego..! Not too bad actually!
No casualties (as of yet, *knock on wood*!), but we can't find my computer keyboard and mouse, and a very essential cable that goes with the Mac Mini... so we can't watch our recorded TV. Argh! Hopefully it all turns up in a box, very soon!


Yesterday was another day full of jobs to do before the weekend.
We started out going to the local Police Station, hoping to get my drivers license sorted. Nathan had had my Swedish drivers license translated into arabic, but mistakenly thought it was enough with having the visa in process to get the local one... So we went to the Police Station and waited and queued, only to have to come back once my visa is in my passport.
Ah well, that's about the first set back so far really; and I don't mind not being able to drive, it's quite nice getting driven around!

We then went to IKEA to exchange a few things, and pick up a few more. Nathan admitted he has definitely filled his quota of IKEA visits for a while, the man in the self-service area recognized him! :)

Even though lunch at IKEA is always good (you can never have to many meatballs!) - I have to say this is false advertising though:

These are not cinnamon buns! These danish are made with a completely different dough/pastry, and even though they are probably tasty (we didn't try them, we would've had they been real cinnamon buns..! ), they are NOT cinnamon buns. Boo IKEA!

At least the house is coming together nicely, things are finding their places and especially the storage spaces are getting organized neatly. After Wednesday next week we will be able to receive overnight guests too, that's when the mattress for the guest bedroom turns up. Yay!

We also decided to sort out the school uniform yesterday. Here they sell many different uniforms all in one big shop, Zaks, in one of the malls. It was easy peasy, we just went in, told the lady which grade the kids will go in, and she picked it all out for us.

Linnea will be wearing a white polo shirt with the RIS logo on it together with a green skort, and Lucas a white button down shirt with green shorts. The PE kit is the same white polo, plus shorts in a more sporty material. I also got Linnea headbands and hair ties in the school colours and both the kids caps with the school logo plus cricket hats (with big brims) - a good thing to have when we are going into the warmer months.

We had also been told my car was ready for collection, so we took a taxi in to the Toyota dealer last night. Unfortunately that was the next little set back, because due to the wet weather they had a backlog of work that hadn't been done, amongst other things the rust protection. So we will have to come back Saturday night instead.
At least Lucas got to eat ribs for dinner, as Mushrif Mall wasn't that far off and we decided we would eat out to celebrate the weekend. Ohm, nom nom!

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

What's that noise?

Living in a new house you have to get used to all the new noises. Last night we were sitting around watching TV and we heard this really loud, weird noise... like... like rain!?
Yes, it was raining! In the sandpit!
It continued all night, and long into the morning too - very unusual weather for here!

Unfortunately this country is not really kitted out for rain, any kind of rain, and definitely not an all night of wet. This morning I found a big puddle of water in one corner of our living room, about 2 cm deep...
It's raining again tonight, I love it!! But now we have moved the furniture away from that corner, just in case it happens again.

Pizza night!

Well, even if we didn't do all the hard work yesterday, it was an exhausting day with a lot happening, so we thought we deserved pizza for dinner!

Our neighbours just across the road is a family we know from Brunei. They moved up here in January last year, and are obviously a great help to us now in the beginning.
Bronwyn was a total star yesterday and took all the kids (she has four of her own, they had two friends over, AND our two!) to a water park for the afternoon, to let us get in order a little bit.
So we invited them for pizza too!

Our first pizza party!

Raha International School

After their assessments, the kids were offered places in both the schools we had looked at. After much deliberation, we decided on going with the Raha International School. We were there today to pay the school fees, so now they are officially RIS students.

Well, they will have to wait to join their new friends until after the spring break. RIS starts their holiday this Friday, and they go back again on the 13th of April. So that means our kids are having a whole month off at the moment...

I really liked the feel of the school when we got the tour of it the other day. They have 800 students in their Junior School, a pretty big school, with four classes in each grade. Since it's an American system Linnea will go into Grade 2, and Lucas into Grade 4. RIS is an IB school, and has been so since it was established so they have a lot of experience with it, and we think the IB approach will suit our kids quite well.

Another thing that appealed to me is that ALL communication from the school is made via an app you install on your phone, tablet and/or computer. You use that to find all the newsletters, the kids' homework, important information and other things you need to know.
Finally, a paperless communication system that seems to work!

Easily excited

Ok, so I must admit, I get easily excited - but check this baby out:

After having lived with an ancient washing machine with only 2 programs, and only able to wash with cold water... this is so fantastic! I actually don't mind doing laundry (too much). The novelty will probably wear off yes, but for now, I love my fancy washing machine!

We also got a dishwasher, another novelty for for a while, and a great gadget especially since we are not having a maid for the time being. Here's some of the rest of the machine park, with our lovely new coffee machine to the right! Always Jura, simply the best!

The first meal we cooked on our new shiny stove, was one of Lucas' favourites, Spaghetti Carbonara. Even cooking is a little bit fun at the moment, ha ha! Actually I'm enjoying not having an extra person in the house right now, even if it means a lot more housekeeping jobs for everyone. It's ok for a while.

BIG day

So, yesterday was a big day for us! Only a week after we arrived: all our shipping finally arrived (it took a while to clear customs, it had been in the country since last Saturday) AND all our furniture from IKEA!
The shipping came first:

 Then the BIG IKEA truck came with all the furniture we had bought at IKEA!

Lucky for us, the don't just deliver for free, they mount it for you too! Although the process of mounting your own furniture can be rather satisfying, I was glad the IKEA crew was here, for all these 125 (!) packages..! Here's one of the guys in Lucas' room:

And another one in the master bedroom, working on our wardrobes:

We couldn't quite help ourselves, we did a little bit too! But only the easy stuff!

In the end there was lots and lots of rubbish... Lucky they took all of it with them when they went too! Another team has just arrived today, to finish off what they didn't have time to do yesterday. Then I can start attacking the moving boxes!

Friday, 21 March 2014

A day on the sea

Not only is the weekend here Friday and Saturday, instead of Saturday and Sunday - their most holy day is Friday obviously, so today is kind of their "Sunday" where nothing is open, and tomorrow is like our Saturday, where some things will be.
This means, that today we couldn't do any jobs. Instead we were invited out on Nathan's mate Fernando's boat! Lovely!

We spent a few hours driving around doing a bit of a tiki tour, and Fernando and Nathan did some water skiing! Mostly in front of Yas Beach, so we had perfect views of Ferrari World, the Aldar Building, the Water Park and Yas Island.
We also saw this funny... boat? Kind us made us wonder - why...?



The Al Bandar Marina. Fernando's boat is the yellow one to the right:

School assessments

It was so much easier arriving to Brunei, where there was only two options for schooling - this school, or that one. We made the easy choice back in the day and just went with what "everybody else" (RBA people that is) had gone with, and chose JIS. Luckily it turned out to be a perfect fit for our children, they really had a fantastic time at JIS.

Here, it's a different story. There are just so many schools to choose from, and all depending on who you talk to, you get different advice and different opinions obviously, on which one to pick. 
For us it was pretty soon down to - which schools does actually have spaces for our kids at this point in the school year?? As it turns out, two schools very near to us do: The Raha International School (RIS), and the GEMS American Academy (GAA). 

Both schools follow the American system, but RIS is an IB school, so they have a bit of a different approach to teaching and learning, than the traditional one. GAA is also in the process of getting their IB accreditation, so in theory - either school would be good for our kids.

On Thursday morning they sat their first assessment, at RIS. Linnea was there for an hour, and Lucas for about 2 1/2 hours. After that we got the tour of the school grounds, and I must say I got a very nice feel for the place. We won't know until next week how they did, but hopefully they will be offered the spaces.

In the afternoon, they went to GAA to do an assessment there too. This one was only an hour for both of them, and both kids said this was easier? 
GAA didn't have time to go through the full process with us on Thursday, so we are scheduled to meet their counsellor for an interview on Sunday, and then get the tour of the school on Wednesday. It'll be interesting to see what the kids think, as the schools are rather different one from the other. Even though they do have some say, in the end it'll mostly be our decision anyway, but, we haven't made it yet.

Unfortunately the schools here now go on holiday for three weeks (...) so it'll be a while before the kids get into their new routine and get the chance to make some new friends.

Busy busy busy

So, onto day two, and we didn't slow down!
We had to go see the schools we had applied to, to schedule in assessments for the kids. We saw three schools, and were told there was spaces for both kids in two of them, yay, so scheduled in their tests for the Thursday. 

Then we went to the car dealer to pay the deposit on my car. It's actually already in the country, but there is still some admin and paperwork to finish off, which shouldn't take too long. Although, I can't actually drive it until I have my local drivers licence, and I won't get that until I have had mine translated - and I also need the Residents Visa to be done. Since it's all in process already, it should all be done by next week I hope. Until then, Nathan will have to drive us around, or if he goes flying - we will have to take taxis!

Of course we also managed some more shopping! There are just so many things to sort out, especially since I sold off most of our stuff back in Brunei and it all needs to get replaced obviously. Although, it's kind of cool getting to start over, because we know exactly what we want, what we used and what we didn't use; so we are only buying things we will be using, and things we did like.
We went to Mushrif Mall which has a huge, and I mean HUGE, Carrefour. THAT my friends, was like being in heaven! Oh my! All that food! All the choices... I was just aimlessly walking around, taking it all in, aisle up and aisle down; randomly buying stuff I was never able to get in Brunei and other yummy, yummy food. Aaahhh!

Back home a little bit earlier that evening, because the kids and I could really feel the (albeit slight) jet lag, and were completely knackered by now. Also, since they were going to have some assessments the following day, they needed to go to bed fairly early.

Hit the ground running

So, straight away on our first morning (well, after having had to pass HQ, and the airport - to pick up and then present the visas, to get them stamped, and get our passports back) - we attacked IKEA!

Yes, I am Swedish, and yes, I like IKEA. Maybe being Swedish is why so much of IKEA's design appeals to me? Not all, but a lot of it. They have some very cool designers attached to their brand, and they create some pretty cool stuff. Also, their storage solutions are fantastic and it is pretty good value for money.
I also knew that I wouldn't be able to drag the family around more than one shop (well, maybe two, but that would've been it) to look at furniture. Doing a one-stop-shop at IKEA was honestly the best solution!

We spent most of the afternoon there to be honest, because it took a while to walk through and tick off all the things we were getting. Even though we had talked most of it through already and we had a shopping list made up, still there was a lot of final decisions to be made.
Nathan's status on FB halfway through pretty much summed it up "I've lost track of time, Lucas has lost the will to live, Linnea has thrown a couple of strops and Boel is in heaven." Not sure it counts as heaven though, when all you're getting is furniture, but it sure felt fun being able to pick out and get all this stuff at once!

IKEA here is great, not only do they deliver AND assemble for free when you shop over a certain amount (which we passed by miles!) - they also collect all the stuff for you in the self-service area! You just give them your shopping list you have been jotting down walking through the shop, and then sit down and wait! Fab! We managed to collect eight flat bed trolleys with big furniture, and four normal trolleys with other stuff. This is ALL ours, and it's not even all of it!

Yeah baby! That's pretty much the whole house kitted out!
Unfortunately they aren't able to come and deliver until next week, but at least they have scheduled in two whole days for us, so should be all done in one go! Can't wait!

Later the same day we attacked the white goods shop, and ordered our washing machine, dishwasher and oven..! Plus the grocery store for a first big food shop. 
Such a HUGE spending day, somehow Nathan felt a bit sickly by the time we got home later that night, ha ha!

Hello Abu Dhabi

We arrived Abu Dhabi about midnight local time, which for us meant 4am. Nathan had told us that our visas would be ready for collection at the Visa Collection Counter, so that's where we went, only to find - no visas. We were clearly in the system, but the visas were not there.

Very helpful staff walked with us to the Etihad counter to see if they by any chance would be there, but no. Then we walked to Terminal 1 (lucky the airport is not that big!) to see if they would be there, but no... Argh. 
They could not let us into the country on tourist visas, as we were already in the system as residents, so for a while we were a bit at a standstill. As it turned out, there had been some miscommunication and the visas were still at the Etihad HQ in town.

The solution, after a little bit more than an hour of this walking back and forth between offices and terminals, was to leave our passports with the Immigration, and come back the following day with the visas after having picked them up from HQ. I wasn't all that happy surrendering our passports, but what to do?
In the end, it all worked out and we had arrived in our new country.

One taxi ride later, and we were also in our new home. Hello Abu Dhabi!

A Singapore pit stop

We left Brunei on St Patricks Day, an easy date to remember. After one last selfie during the traditional fuel up in the airport Coffee Bean...

... we got on the SQ flight over to Singapore. A bit weird not actually leaving on RBA; plus we didn't have window seats, so we couldn't enjoy the last birds eye view of our beautiful Brunei either... Boo! :(

We had a five hour transit in Changi, which was just about perfect timing. Last weekend when we were over, we had brought a bunch of luggage with us and left it with Matt & Misuzu; because on the SQ flight we were only allowed 30kg each, but on the Etihad flight out of Singapore we were allowed 60kg each! So they kindly brought all our extra suitcases to the airport for us. This is how it looked when we checked in:

We then had time for a coffee and a play with our dear friends, so lovely to get to see them too on our departure. I wonder when and where we will be meeting up again..?