Saturday, 31 May 2014

"At least now your life can return to normal"...

... Tash said, as she jumped in the taxi last night to go to the airport.

Well, to be honest, this week has probably been and felt the most normal since we've been here... Our life here still feels a bit like we are on some kind of holiday with new and different routines, different things we do in our days.
So it was actually really nice to have the Turners come and see us, and have life as we used to know it for a few days. Thanks for coming guys, it's been a great week.
We will miss you.

Friday, 30 May 2014

Heelys all around!

I'm pretty sure it was already on our first visit to Dubai two years ago that the kids discovered the Heelys. It was no point really getting them then, because there are not many places in Brunei you can wheel around but when it was a done deal that we were moving here too I said - we'll get them when we get there. We finally found some in Dubai last time we all went there.

The Turner kids were mighty impressed with the Heelys, and after they had tried our kids' Heelys we had to go on a hunt for some for them as well. It proved to be a hard task, but finally today we managed to find two pairs in the right sizes. The afternoon got dedicated to "How-to-Heely"! :)

Happy kids - sporting their Heelys!

Lunch with a view

While our kids were at school yesterday, we took the Turners on a bit of a drive-by sightseeing tour of Saadyiat Island and downtown Abu Dhabi. With temperatures above +45 degrees, that's about the only thing you can do!

We went to the Marina Mall for a quick cool down, and lunch at Colombiano Coffee House on top of the Sky Tower. Great 360 degree views of the Corniche, the Emirates Palace and the coast line.

Sharjah shopping

On our way to pick up the Turners on Monday, we also picked up Jeremy from the RBA crew hotel because he wanted to come along to this furniture shop in Sharjah, that I talked about in an earlier post. It was time to go and pick out some furniture!

Since we have only IKEA stuff in the house so far, I really wanted some original, personal and unique pieces as eye-catchers. We ended up buying three different pieces of furniture for different parts of our house.
What it is? I'll let you see once it gets delivered in about 10 days!

Yas Waterworld

Even though the temperature has certainly been turned up a notch the last few weeks, and it was over 45 degrees (!) yesterday - the kids wanted to take their friends to Yas Waterworld.

Even though it is quite a bit to do in the park, it offers 43 slides, rides and attractions; it's not too big, you can easily cover it all in one day. There is two different lazy river rides, many different slides, drops and loops, a roller coaster, climbing frames, playgrounds etc. We started out at the wave pool, the kids loved the big, big waves!

All the four kids just loved this huge climbing/sliding frame:

It wasn't exactly crowded... Plenty of space, and free wifi all over the park too!

Slushies all around!

We watched this mini show about the traditional Emirati pearl diving culture. It showed how they used to work, and also had two girls performing a synchronized swimming routine under water, it was pretty cool.

All four of the kids also went on the 'Bandit Bomber', the longest suspended rollercoaster in the Middle East. It has onboard special water and laser effects so you can take aim to splash all those walking below. I managed to catch these photos easily as we could hear the kids coming from far away... They all liked it - apart from Linnea, who was wailing all the way around... bless her...

Linnea and Hannah spent quite a while at these slides below. There were many different ones, you either go down in a single dingie, or in a double dingie with a friend. Some of the slides uses mats and some rafts for up to six people. Perfect slides for kids in our kids age.

Tash and I enjoyed another slushie while the kids went for their last rides. The park closed at 7pm and we were there until the very last minute!

This was our first visit to Yas Waterworld, and I must say I was rather impressed. There was many lifeguards in and around the pools, and the park itself was clean and well maintained.
The rides and slides suits our kids perfectly, in the future we'll be able to park ourselves in a central spot and let the kids run around by themselves. The only downside would be the prices and the quality of the food on offer I guess, but that's the same in all theme parks.
I liked the park, and the kids loved it. I'm sure we are going to have many more fun days there!

Thursday, 29 May 2014

Student conferences

New school, new procedures. Here at the end of the term, you don't have a Parent-Teacher conference, you actually have a STUDENT led three-way conference! It was our first on Wednesday.
School was out for the whole day, you only had to take your child in for your 15 minutes conference time. As Nathan was working, I had to come on my own.

These kind of conferences is obviously a new thing for our kids, but they did a really good job. It felt mostly like an "Open School Day" to me, and both kids were really enthusiastic in walking me around their class rooms, showing me their portfolios and talk about their work.
Lucas had constructed this soundproof house together with two of his friends:

We also visited their art rooms, the gym, the music room and the Arabic teacher. It was actually quite nice to get a bit more insight to their school days, and catch a few words with their teachers, even though there wasn't much time.

It seems like both kids now have settled in really well and both are doing just fine with their work at school. Both their teachers had only good things to say, which was really nice to hear.

Out of Brunei behaviour

You will only understand this post if you live or have ever lived in Brunei, or have read my previous blog regularly - but one of the things we need to do when we get out of Brunei, is shop. Big time shop. One of the shops that Tash (and I repeat: Tash) wanted to go to when she came here was... IKEA!

Obvious choice really! They have everything, you don't need to go anywhere else, it's cheap and good value for money.
Tash and the kids has a total of a 90 kg bagage allowance going back, and she's making sure she's utilizing it nicely having bought bed sheets, curtains, lamps etc.

It might seem weird to people who live in places where there is proper shopping, that you would be prepared to lug all this all across the world; but for our peeps in Brunei, this is completely normal out-of-Brunei behaviour! (Especially when your husband doesn't go shopping with you otherwise... ;)

No visit to IKEA would be complete without a hot dog combo and a soft ice after job well done!

Turners at the track

Tuesday night I took the Turners down to the circuit. It's almost a bit like a tourist attraction thing, because it sure is rather special to get to walk on a F1 track. I really wanted them to do it.
Tash hadn't brought any exercise clothes, so she borrowed a hash top from me and walked around in just shorts and jandals. We had to queue up to get them their day passes, and then off we went.

Lucas was grumpy that he didn't get to bring the bikes for him and Ben, but if you are not over 12 years old you can't ride around on your own without an adult. Plus, we couldn't actually fit any bikes in the car anyway with six people, so we just all had to do the walking this time.

Girls zoomed off ahead, and the boys dragged behind... That's them on the picture to the left, the little blue and red dot. We thought they'd never make it!

In front of the Viceroy Hotel:

All done and dusted after 5,5k! Then checking out the F1 cars before going for a quick milkshake at Johnny Rocket as a post-walk treat. Four sweaty and worn out kids.

Just in time!

So... Since Tash has been here we've had quite a few late nights. Well, actually, to be honest, e-v-e-r-y night has been a late night! Ouch!
Lucky I was able to pick up my 'Alcoholic License' just the other day when she arrived! What good timing! :)

You need this license to legally consume or purchase alcohol here, but like with everything else admin here, getting it sorted was super simple. You just apply for it straight online on the Special License website. Once it has been approved (you must earn more than 3000Dhs per month, be a resident, non-Muslim and over 21 to be allowed one - spouses can be added to their partners licenses) and printed, you pick it up at your nearest liquor outlet.

Look who's here!

We have very special visitors this week, our Kiwi friends - the Turners, from Brunei. Yay! Yay! Super yay!

They spent a few days in Dubai with our Danish friends the Dehlis (who also used to live in Brunei) last weekend, before we picked them up from there on Monday.
Kids are totally ecstatic having their best friends here; they are so enjoying showing them all their new favourite places of Abu Dhabi. So good to see how happy they are, all together again.

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Mind blowing

Last night Nathan and I attended a special parent info session at school, regarding their Technology Plan for the next school year. It was led by the Primary ICT Coach.
She was talking about the ICT standards and benchmarks that are in place, how they follow them. She explained how school is using, developing and extending the BYOD (=Bring Your Own Decive) classes and the 1:1 iPad classes for next year.  Finally she was also talking about how they will be introducing Google Apps all across the G2-5 from next year, some pretty big changes.

It was quite an interesting talk and I'm really glad we went (as usual in any school, it seems to be the same parents that go to all of these kind of things...), but it was also quite scary.
Amongst all the other information, she showed us this video, called "Did you know?", which was full of true, interesting and quite frankly very scary facts about education, and about the world and the technology evolution in general.
Here's a few things I learned:

- China will very soon become the #1 English speaking country in the world.
- The 25% of India's population with the highest IQ, is greater than the whole population of the USA.
- The Top 10 in demand jobs of 2013, didn't even exist in 2004!
- If Facebook was a country, it would be the 3rd largest country in the world.
- The amount of new technical information is doubling every 2 years, four students starting a 4 year technical degree this means that half of what they learn in their first year of study will be outdated by their third year of study...
- We are currently educating students for jobs that don't yet exist, teaching them how to use technologies that haven't yet been invented - in order to solve problems, we don't know are problems yet!

No wonder educating the children of our time, is such a challenge.

Sunday, 25 May 2014

Mors Dag

Since Sweden is a bit odd, we celebrate Mothers Day on the last Sunday of May (and not the first, like most countries), which is today.
I sometimes have been lucky, and have been celebrated both in March (since that's the UK Mothers Day, schools with a British school system tend to go for that one) and in May. This year, all the Mothers Days seems to have been forgotten completely... Ah well, I'll just get my own present. ;)

Anyhow, I wanted to tell my Mum - Grattis på Mors Dag! ♡

Life could be worse

Today has been a public holiday here in the U.A.E, an extra day off school.
We've spent it together with some of my Swedish friends and their families, at one of the pools where one of the girls live.
Swimming, chatting, relaxing, sunshine, playing, sea, pizza, good company - felt like being on holiday! Another absolutely awesome day.

Saturday, 24 May 2014


We are enjoying a long weekend here in the U.A.E, with an extra day off tomorrow, lovely. The kids have had a busy few days, with the afternoon at the Golf Club, an IKEA visit yesterday and then playing and dining at the neighbours until late last night, while I was at the concert.
So I thought today we could do a day at home, since we have a big week coming up, with visitors from Brunei!

Linnea offered to help me out with some of yesterdays IKEA purchases - she showed natural talent! Good girl!

The Justin Timberlake experience

Last night I went to my first concert here in Abu Dhabi! So exciting!
Well, it was my first concert at all in a very, very long time, I actually can't even remember when I last went to one!? Safe to say, I would've gone to almost anything, and it so happened to be - Justin Timberlake.

So ok, I'm not a JT fan by any standards, but sure, I do like his music and I had read very good reviews from earlier concerts on this World Tour of his. So when our neighbours said they had some extra tickets I was really excited. Unfortunately Nathan was flying though, so I had to go solo.

We started out at Yas Plaza for some preconcert drinks, here's Lee, Stuart, Bron and I at the Stills Bar:

Like many others, we then walked over to the du Arena where the concert were going to be. Gates had opened at 7pm, and we arrived about 8.30pm. There was a line, but it was steadily moving, so we just followed the flow. Apparently there was about 20,000 people at the concert, but it didn't feel crowded in any scary way.

Another queue on the inside, to get our alcohol wristbands. Stuart and I got to show our IDs to prove that we were over 21, Lee and Bron passed anyway. Ha ha, I guess they just picked at random...

Then we headed to the beer tent, just like at any other concert!! Yeah baby! The boys made sure we weren't going to get thirsty during the concert!

Then - there he was!! He started the concert right on time just after 9pm and we found a good spot not too close and not too far away. Plenty of space to get dancing!

There was a huge laser show on stage, and not only did he have a 11-piece band with him, with four backup singers and plenty of dancers; he was also playing both the piano and the acoustic guitar himself during the concert. The acoustic set probably being my favourite part of the night.

What a great night! I have to say I probably enjoyed the concert experience itself mostly, even though JT put on quite a show. I'm already looking forward to the next concert, whoever that might be! :)