Monday, September 28, 2009

This is Not Working Out As Expected!!

So I mentioned that the kids were off school this week in my last post.

Well, not exactly.

Our school is very high tech.  Which is great.  Usually.  But they decided to have kids do "virtual school" this week while they are home.  Assignments are being posted on our school website where each child is enrolled in their individual classes.  Kids are to go online, do the work, and submit it electronically.  That way we won't need to make up the days we are missing on weekends or **horrors** in the summer.  So that's great.  However, the implementation of that idea is causing quite a bit of frustration.  

For one thing, internet access can be unreliable here.  It's generally good but, like everything else here in Doha, things go wrong with no explanation or warning.  Also, sporadically throughout the day, the servers for the website (located in Holland!) have gone done, leaving people in the lurch.

Each teacher is doing their assignments in a different way, leading to confusion amongst the kids.  Assignments are not being posted until mid afternoon, but are expected to be done the next morning, meaning kids are staying up late trying to get things done in time.  Instructions are not clear, neither are due dates. Some teachers are seeming to forget that the kids have 8 different teachers assigning them work and are really pouring it on with short turn-around times.  

I feel like I should be better equipped to deal with this, having homeschooled my kids for so long.  But in that situation, I was giving the assignments, knew the due date, knew what was expected and was not at the mercy of 16 people who are trying to figure this virtual thing out for the first time with my kids as guinea pigs.  Sigh...

And I'm dealing with it as both a parent trying to help her kids get everything done, correctly and on-time, and also as the front-line person in the high school, getting all the calls of complaint and confusion from parents and students.  

And then today I hear that we may also be forced by the government to remain closed next week as well.  If that happens I will bawl my eyes out!!  Already I'm not understanding the purpose of closing the school for one week, as if the H1N1 virus is just going to disappear in that time.  It's been a very unpopular decision and I'm hoping the government wakes up and lets schools reopen as soon as possible.

Ok, enough venting for now.  Something more uplifting next time, I promise!
Saturday, September 26, 2009

Why is Swine Flu Out to Ruin My Life?!?!?

So, the last couple of weeks before school let out for the week-long Eid break were a nightmare due to swine flu. About 10 percent of the kids were absent and I got to be the lucky one who had to compile the lists of who was out, why they were out, if they had any siblings in the elementary or middle school, etc. It consumed half my day!

Now, the government of Qatar has opted to force all schools to remain closed for ANOTHER WEEK!!! Of course, just the kids get to stay home. Staff and faculty have to report to work. Yuck.

And yet, I'm reminded by this little ditty not to place blame on our friends, The Pigs.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

I'm Trying to Stay Calm, But...

I'm really excited!!

Our big goal for our Eid break was to look for a new house to determine if we should stay where we are or move.  There are so many reasons to look for a new place.  The biggest thing, though, is that our kids are really isolated here in our current house.  We are in a very conservative Muslim neighborhood that looks at us like we have 3 heads.  One neighbor has been somewhat friendly, an older Jordanian woman, although we have had our ups and downs with her. But there are no kids around.  

Also, I've decided that this place is just too much for me to keep up with.  Even though Hubby helps out a lot, I hate the fact that we spend most of our free time cleaning.  The house is about 4000 square feet, 5 bedrooms, 6 bathrooms, 3 large sitting areas, an outside kitchen and maid's room that are constantly covered in sand and dust.  Ugh!

So anyways, I think we've found the perfect place.  It's just blocks from the school (the kids can even walk home once it cools down a bit more),  it's in a neighborhood that is chock full of staff from the school so it would be kid-friendly (not to mention more Lori-friendly), it's much smaller but the rooms are still spacious, there's a place for (drum roll, please....) a DRYER!!!,  it has built-in closets, and it has a nice space for a garden right in front of the picture window in the living room.  

So now we just wait to see if: a) we can get out of this house easily enough, b) the landlord at the new place will accept our offer of 12,000 riyals (which is how much our housing allowance is and we don't want to go over that) even though he asked for 14,000 riyals and c) everything else works out.  

Please say a quick prayer!!
Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Safari Shopping - Score!!

Oh, it was an exciting day today!!  I went to do my normal weekly grocery shopping and found some really exciting things.

Fresh chicken breasts - No IQF chicken breasts over here.  If you buy frozen chicken breasts you get a 2.2 pound lump of freezer-burned horrible chicken breasts.  For some reason, fresh chicken breast are impossible to get at the butcher counter as well.  You can find legs, thighs, gizzards - everything but chicken breasts.

Calgon -  I. Cannot. Wait.  Calgon, take me away!  'Nuff said.

Clorox Clean-up - Please no lectures about using natural cleaners.  There's nothing like some good ol' bleach to get things really clean.

Wheat Thins - Crackers seem to be hit or miss here. Usually I can only find Ritz (blah). Triscuits are my real dream, but they only seem to come in Rosemary and Olive Oil flavor generally.

Lean Cuisine Fettucine Alfredo w/Broccoli & Chicken - yumm-o!

Sadly, there are always some things that I can't find when I need them.  Today's list of elusive prey included alfalfa sprouts, some American brand of frozen pizza, chocolate chip ice cream, and more. And, frustratingly enough, I once again saw the cleaning fluid for Swiffer Wet Jet, but they don't sell Swiffer Wet Jets themselves, nor the cleaning pads to go with them.  Grrr...

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Some Encouragement For Homemakers

Since working, I've been finding myself less and less devoted to making my home a haven for my family.  

However, we are now in the middle of looking for a new house and it's stirred ideas of all that I could do in our future home.  Somehow our house here has never really felt like "home."  Maybe it's because it's too big, maybe it's because we haven't ever painted, I don't know.  But now that we are looking at other places, generally smaller places, I'm feeling a little more...domestic.

So I've been going through some of my favorite homemaking sites.  There's such a great wealth of information on the Internet.  I hope you can find some things that not only encourage you, but also give you practical ideas on making your home a better place for you and your family.

The Hip Homemaker - loads of great ideas and articles on tons of topics

Creative Homemaking - lots of tips on decorating, cooking and more

Old Fashioned Homemaking - very encouraging articles for today's homemakers

Homemaking 911 - recipes, articles, tips and more

Ladies Against Feminism - for the Christian woman, a great site

Proverbs 31 Homemaking - all kinds of helpful things for the Christian homemaker

Heart4Home - creative, fun and practical ideas

As we enter a new season, let's make a commitment together to put more effort into caring for our homes and families!
Friday, September 11, 2009
8 years ago, at just about this moment, I was preparing to go to my weekly Bible study.  I had the radio in my room set to the local NBC channel and was listening to the "Today" show, when word came across that a small plane had hit the World Trade Center.  Just minutes later, we realized the awful truth.

Our country, our fellow citizens were under attack.  Confusion reigned.  Fear was everywhere. What would the next target be?  How many planes carrying terrorists had been grounded, and allowed those men to walk free to attack another day?  How many people had lost their lives?

Would life ever feel normal again?

And, as it should be, time has softened the pain and made the events of 9/11 recede in our memories.  But today, on the 8th anniversary of the worst terrorist attack ever on American soil, let us just take a few minutes to think about those who were killed on that day.  They were mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, sons and daughters.  They were you and I.  

2,997 lives lost.  2,997 families who were left forever scarred.  Those lives deserve to be remembered.  
Friday, September 4, 2009

Ramadan and Ramblings

I'm so touched by your encouraging comments.  Thank you so much.  I'll continue to blog when something interesting happens (this, more often than not, is the problem - not much interesting going on in my life), but I hope you'll understand if it's not as often as I used to post.

So, I haven't mentioned it, but we are smack in the middle of Ramadan, the holiest month of the Islamic year.  It's a time of fasting and self-reflection for Muslims.  From sunrise to sunset, they can neither eat nor drink.  But when you live in an Islamic state, you are affected too.

Last year we were so excited for Ramadan to arrive as it meant that Hubby would be working only half days.  Little did we realize that during Ramadan everything shuts down in the afternoon!  We spent almost every afternoon sitting at home bored to tears.

This year has proved to be different since we are in school.  School ends at 2:30 (I still work until 3:30 though) instead of 3:00.  By the time we get home and get schoolwork done, things have opened back up again.  It's much less disruptive this year.

At the end of Ramadan, there is the Eid holiday. Then 40 days later comes another Eid holiday. I think Hubby gets 4 days off for both of those, while the school will have a week off each time.  We were planning on painting the interior of the house during the first Eid, but now Hubby has talked me into waiting until the second holiday.  It seems that there is now a glut in the housing market, and now after years of overinflated prices things are coming down.  We like our house, but would rather be in a compound with other kids around.  So we agreed to do some house-hunting for the next two months and either move or paint this house.  I don't know what will happen.  Like I said, I like the house and it's only 10 minutes from school so it's an easy commute.  But if we find something affordable where the kids can go out and be with other kids more often, we'll move in a heartbeat.

Thank you also for your condolences on the loss of my father-in-law.  It's been a hard week and I am desperately wishing I could be in Amman to support my husband.  He'll be home on Sunday evening and I can't wait to wrap my arms around him.  


Thursday, September 3, 2009

It's Been a While, Hasn't It?

I'm so sorry to have just dropped off the face of the planet like that.  Here's a quick re-cap of all that's happened in the last few weeks and then maybe you'll feel like giving me grace.  :)

School started on the 23rd.  It was a big day for us - Emily was moving up into high school and Daniel into 7th grade.  Since I work at the high school, I was anticipating it being a busy day myself.  Little did I know how crazy it would get.  Remember back last in the spring when I was having problems with a coworker?  Well, she chose the first day of school, only the most hectic, crazy time of the entire school year, to quit.  She finished out the day, wiped all school-related documents off her computer, and left.  

The end result is that I've been doing double-duty, but that I will be moving into her position (which pays more money!).  The funny thing is that, even with doing my job AND her job, I'm still not that much busier than I was when I was just doing my job!!

Emily and Daniel seem to both be settling in well in their new classes.  High school is proving to be a lot more work for Emily, but she has risen to the challenge and is showing herself to be a devoted student.  Daniel seems to be the lucky one so far with very little homework assigned yet.  I'm sure it's coming down the road, though!!

This week, though, it's been exhaustion and grief which has kept me from checking in with you.  On a very sad note, Hubby's father passed away on Sunday evening.  At 90, he lived a long, full life.  He was a sweet and godly man who treated me like one of his own children and we miss him so much.  Hubby left that night for Jordan and the funeral was yesterday.  He'll be home this weekend.  If you think of it, please pray for my mother-in-law.  They were married 52 years and her life is going to be so very different now.  Although she lives with my brother-in-law, he isn't home very often due to his business so she'll be spending days and nights alone.  It's going to be a very hard transition for her.

I do want to do a better job of keeping up with the blog, but to be honest, I just don't know if it's of interest to anyone anymore.  It started off being more about homeschooling and homemaking, but now, since I started working, seems to have become more and more mundane ramblings about my life.  And I often wonder why anyone would be interested in that?!?!

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