About Life, Parenting

Expats; This is for You!

This is not the first time I experience the life of an expat. In fact, my life started as one. First, I was born in Saudi Arabia, in a remote area which was foreign to my parents. In it, I experienced a unique childhood where I grew up appreciating the beauty of the desert with all its charming crimson and pale colors emerged in one painting.

Years later, my parents, like every Lebanese at that time, decided to go back to their hometown, and try to compensate for the lost years of living abroad. Seeking a better opportunity to provide us with an excellent level of education, they conceded to settle in Beirut during the weekdays, and headed to the mountains every weekend.

As children, we quickly learned to adapt and fit into two different cultures; the urban and rural life each with its own disperse traditions and contradictory lifestyles .

The first real cultural shock, though, hit me when I got married and moved to live in France. It was not only about learning to adapt and fit into a completely new culture, but I also needed to improve my French speaking, reading, and writing skills which I have acquired as a third language.

I left my family, my teaching career, my social life, and my home to create a new home for me and my dear husband. And what a shock it was to realize that I was all of a sudden fully responsible for the tiniest decisions I made.

Not too long after that, my husband and I embarked on a new journey to Abu Dhabi! Again settling in and creating our own circle took some time, but we soon managed to establish our solid grounds and deal with the daily challenges of parenting, work, and whatever life brought us. Of course, we had our ups and downs. Our moments of complete surrender and defeat. Instants of loneliness and uncertainty. At the same time, we encountered amazing moments and built particular memories with amazing people whom we will cherish forever.

All those years, have actually taught me how to adapt to change. They provided me with the courage of embracing modification and diversity. They have paved the road for me to make me accept the consequences of living the expat life!

So this is how I am now acknowledging our new move in Muscat:
Learn about the culture before hand:

Before moving to any country, I learned to read about the culture and the country traditions we are moving to. It is essential to know what is expected and accepted in the society. What is normal in one place could be against the law in another. That is how having an idea of what to expect makes things smoother for us.
Listen to the local radio:

Listening to the local radio gives me an insight about major events and programs taking place in town. It not only entertains me, as I drive back and forth a many times a day, but it also helps me select specific plans to carry out along with my family. These highlights open new opportunities for us to fit better into the new society.
Socialize:

To socialize is an innate human need. By nature, we are social beings and having like minded people who share similar experiences is vital. Relationships create a psychological space and a safe niche which help us explore and learn about others and about ourselves. That is why, being around people makes us happier. Although it might be difficult at first, but it will soon open new doors and slowly one’s social circle builds up. Moreover, I personally love having people over, and hosting play dates, dinners, and gatherings for children and parents alike is something I find great pleasure in. That is how I quickly get in touch with people coming from all walks of life in the community.
Get involved in local activities:

Participating in local events and activities help me in accommodating into the new country with ease and awareness. It is not always comfortable to go and about introducing myself to a new society. At the same time, I do find great pleasure in doing so which gives me a good reason to get out of my comfort zone and explore those popular and cultural occurrences that are happening in the city. So far, I have attended a few events which have helped me in building a clearer idea on how life functions here.

Explore the surroundings:

Acting like tourists, even in our own country, serves us well. It not only makes us appreciate the country’s culture and heritage, but it also opens great opportunities of learning and knowledge. In every country I have been to, I always make it a point to visit museums, historical sites, galleries, and exhibitions. I love to explore new areas and cities. I have never felt intimidated by the unknown and maybe that is what motivates me unfold any uncertainties I face.
Keep in touch with family and friends:

Keeping the bond with family members and dear friends whom I have met along those past years, is essential. That connection is healthy for both parties. After all, they are the ones who understand my feelings and help me overcome any obstacle at hand. No one knows me better than they do, and because I am aware of the fact that it is not shameful to discuss any weaknesses I encounter, I actually get the support I seek. That is how I succeed in pulling myself up whenever I feel broken on the inside.
Keeping busy:

It is essential for me to keep myself occupied with educational and recreational activities other than just maintaining my family and home. It is true that I have five children to look after, and it is true I need to support my husband. It is also true that I have certain obligations which I need to tend to, no matter how boring they might sometimes be. However, it is essential that I do not forget myself and my needs as well. Here is why, I always seek endeavors which keep my mind alert and my knowledge escalating. Currently, the great pleasure I am experiencing as a result of my piano and photography lessons is simply fascinating.

Acceptance:

As expats, we know for a fact that we will experience living in certain places for only a couple of years. It will not last forever! Some expat experiences could be more challenging than the others, especially if we were localized in countries which do not provide the accustomed facilities and services we used to have. However, once we gratefully accept what we have signed up for, we could actually enjoy those years no matter where we live.

In conclusion, no one said that the expat life is easy, and behind all the amazing facilities we are blessed with, there are many issues that come along. While it is normal to experience some challenges and frustrations when living abroad, applying the above tips have helped us ensure that our stay here could be yet another adventure which we will include in our diary.

That is why, with a positive attitude, we could actually build a new strong network no matter what the circumstances are. After all, it depends on how we decide to perceive the life we have chosen for ourselves and for our children.

So if you relate to a similar situation, let me know how you have adapted to the changes you witnessed as an expat!

About Life

Change

Change is part of life. Change cannot be escaped. Change is everlasting. And change is good no matter how challenging it might be! With change comes the positive side where a fresh embarkation is founded, clutter from previous years is removed, and growth is achieved. At the same time, different responsibilities arise, that unfamiliar beginning needs to be well established, and fitting in a new society calls for patience and observation.

Embracing any kind of change, especially those which we have taken upon ourselves, could be daunting as, by human nature, we feel helpless when we try to decipher how that change will affect our future. Questions like, ‘Have we done the right decision? Do our children feel secure and satisfied? Are we heading in the right direction?’ tumble on our heads making us feel the heaviness of our actions.

With our move to Muscat and the humongous change we have implemented on ourselves, came waves of unhappiness, stress, delight, relief, responsibilities, and solitude. Such tides have been inducing in us a variety of emotions and reactions. Some were high and comforting, and others were low and crashing. Psychologically speaking, that unhappiness results due to the fact that we are aware that we need to adjust to everything about this new life, yet the inability to manage our old habitual social activities, and fit in the new daily pattern leave a gap where only time knows how to seal.

As much as I knew that it is very important for me to sacrifice my career life and be present with my family to help them settle down easily, I also realized that I need to live for myself as well. I won’t deny that I terribly miss my profession and the time I have given in socially connecting with people in Abu Dhabi and Dubai through my blogging journey. But life goes on! That is why, recently, I have been listing all the benefits we have gained in our move, and in a way I am overlooking what I have left behind. Not that I want to forget, but I want to hold on to that period of time as beautiful memories which will soon become stories we lived and appreciated once upon a time.

By nature, and if you have been following me for some time now you might know very well, how positive I am – to the extent that sometimes I doubt my perception of things. However, this positivism has helped me before, and will continue to serve me when I feel alone – without the presence of my dearest persons around me. I am also aware that it takes a simple decision to lead a happy life, and that was my compromise!

For the sake of my husband and children, I wanted to reflect happiness as much as I could. Despite all the fatigue, the new responsibilities, and the house chores which I am still doing mostly on my own, I am trying hard to maintain my anticipation and cheerfulness. To do that, I knew I had to indulge in activities that would interest me and add up to my learning development. That is when I decided to take piano lessons. Oh how I love it! In fact, every week, I would eagerly wait for my classes, as I continue to practice playing the notes on a daily basis.

We arrived to Muscat, almost two months ago, and I cannot ignore the fact that there were some shocking realizations which we have experienced. At the same time, the warm and welcoming attitude we have encountered so far is unique. People, who do not even know you, would offer help in any possible way, making you feel supported and appreciated.

Yes, change is tough, and for some it might take more time to adapt to the new distortion. However, in my case, I knew that the sooner I make a constructive decision, the easier and more delightful our adaptation will prevail.

So dear Muscat; dear Oman, I am so ready to explore your beauty and explore whatever you have planned for us in this new settlement.

How many of you believe that change is beneficial despite its challenges?

Parenting, Reviews, special occasions

Why Travel with Your Significant Other?!

Going on a short vacation with your significant other, allows serious growth in your relationship. Ever since our eldest son was almost two years old, hubby and I decided on having some time on our own – away from the usual parenting routine. We soon found ourselves booking a staycation for a few days, every summer, where we used to keep our little son under the care of his grandparents. As the years passed, and the number of our children increased, we reduced our break to a day or two. Still, as a couple, those short breaks helped in rejuvenating our relationship. However, this year, we decided to take our break to a higher level and headed over to Amsterdam for five days! I fully acknowledge that without the support we have, we would have never been able to achieve our goal. It is indeed very true that it takes a village to raise a child – and in our case our support system is even beyond that village! To that, we are so grateful!

So why is it essential that couples get some time on their own?

We are fully aware that sooner than we expect, our children will embark on their own and soar around the world. That is why, we need to establish common interests together so we enjoy ourselves when we are older and on our own. We are also aware that if we do not work on strengthening our bond as a couple, by time, the sparkle might lose its glimmer. Having this in mind, we both put whatever effort is needed to preserve the solid connection we have!

This trip allowed us to destress, renovate in new ways, and appreciate what we have established during those fifteen years of marriage. Further, it served as the perfect occasion to focus on being husband and wife instead of putting all our attention into being Mama and Papa.

Not having our children around us, broke up that parental routine making us closer to one another. We were more understanding and patient with one another. We could feel that it strengthened our teamwork skills, and mostly we had plenty of time to discuss new plans and clarify certain points of view. Sometimes you feel more connected when you’re away from your comfort zone.

As we freely roamed around the beautiful streets of the city, we enjoyed the uninterrupted closeness to one another. Moreover, once we left the hotel, we were completely disconnected from our phones and had the chance to live in the moment of just being with each other!

After all, this voyage has enhanced our emotional connection and cut the monotonous work and stress we endure all year long. It also provided us with enough time to spark some romance. The latter could be easily concealed after a few years of marriage, due to the endless parenting obligations.

What we also appreciated is the fact that we got to discover new things together. In addition to visiting A Beer Brewery, The Red Light District, and The Water Canals, we also got the chance of being educated together through the rich museums of Van Gogh, Anne Frank, and the Diamond Museum (to name a few)…

We also loved how Amsterdam presented a real example of a society which is composed of a variety of people who practice different forms of employment. At the same time, everyone is so welcoming and warm-hearted making tourists enjoy their stay.

Personally, I strongly recommend experiencing the world with your significant other. Not only is it an enriching experience for you as a person, it’s strengthening as a couple and can honestly take your relationship to new levels.

The indelible treasure engraved in the heart and mind when experiencing something together, can be everlasting. After all, any new sort of experience creates a memory that will be forever unique to the relationship between a couple.

Together, we have built up those great memories which we could hopefully go back to once we are old and gray!

What experiences have you learned through traveling with your partner? Let me know in the comments below!

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About Life, special occasions

40, 5, And More!

By human nature, people all over the world tend to mark certain milestones according to age. For example, parents celebrate their child’s first birthday where they spend a lot of time and effort to signify this special occasion. We, then, move to the two digit number ten. From there, we look at the age of thirteen, with anticipation, and the cycle continues as we move along the years.

Turning forty is one of those notable occurrences in a person’s life. It is that four decade phase where a lot of contemplation and reflection hit a person who still feels very young, yet realises major modifications in both her mental and physical growth.

Personally, the minute I realised I was approaching the forties, I admit I was a bit anxious about the transformation those coming years will bring. At first, it weighed heavily on me, thinking that I cannot do anything about it and that annoyed me.

Physically, my body has changed. Even if it is minor, one can easily notice some white hair strands showing from my thinned hair, a scarred belly from my last delivery with the twins, and a few wrinkles that have engraved their marks around my eyes and neck.

But guess what? It is just another birthday, and apprehension is not something I easily submit to. That is why, it did not take me long to realise that it is just a mindset which I can control. Whatever I make myself believe in will definitely have its effect on me. So why don’t I attract the beauty of this age into my being?

To all those who really know me, I have never resrtriced myself to a number, and age is after all a number. Besides, I have never had much interest in Math.

That is why, I perceive age as an achievement. Age is wisdom acquired throughout the years. Age is maturity. Age is continuous learning. Age is a gaining process.

Despite that, I cannot totally strip myself of those numbers which, in a way, have a control on our daily lives, so I use them as a significant reference in my existence.

Coming to this point, I wonder what I have established in the past forty years! One of my greatest achievements is having my own family of seven which is composed of a beloved and caring father and five boistrous and healthy children. To that I am infinitely grateful. It also happens that at the age of forty, I am celebrating fifteen years of marriage where we took the vows to love, protect and support each other through thick and thin. On top of that, at forty, I feel younger than when I was a teenager. Being the woman who eats well and exercises whenever I can, are what help me maintain a healthy lifestyle. It is no secret that I have avoided consuming specific foods and drinks, years ago, to which the results I have reaped now. Finally, my profession as a teacher has helped me in applying a fixed and well maintained routine which facilities my life being a working mom of five.

If forty is considered to be the middle age of a life cycle, then hopefully there is still a lot to be acquired and learned. With this perspective in mind, one would worry less, appreciate the past moments, and grasp new opportunities to come. Although I would not be able to predict what the second part of my life will bring, I want to embrace the coming years in open arms, knowing that it will definitely serve in my growth. Being the positive person that I am, I would want to continue finding beauty in life and live the given experiences to the fullest. I hope that with whatever maturity I have gained so far, I will be able to face any unexpected obstacles which might arise, especially that now we are in the process of starting a new chapter in our lives.

So dear forty, I welcome you into my life where I hope you will find contentment and be wise. I hope you will be proud of the decisions I will have to take. I hope you will add patience and gratefulness into my soul. I hope you will serve in fostering more kindness and acceptance in my thoughts. I hope for a calmer me. Finally, I hope you give me abundant strength in my journey as a mother, wife, sister, daughter, friend and educator where I could actually be present for all those who need me!

About Life, Parenting, Poems by me

A Poem To Dad

Today, I dedicate a special poem to you my Dad! Because it is too emotional and it reflects a painful truth, I was a bit hesitant about posting it. At the same time, I cannot but honor the man who went out of his way just to make his family live a life where they had everything they asked for. Father’s Day presented me with this occasion where I grabbed my chance to voice his attritubes to the world and simply glorify his presence amongst us!

No matter what life brings along,

To me you are still a hero and strong.

You defy your sickness and disease,

As you’ll always be the one with expertise!

I have always looked up to you with admiration,

You as the leader, back in Badanah station.

Filled with life and goodness,

Served and healed patients with sureness.

Your generosity was devoured by everyone,

From the nearest people and as far as the sun.

Everyone looked up to you –

Some with envy and some with abjure!

Some even took advantage of that,

Though you knew, and forgave with all your heart.

I have always felt proud and fiery,

To have you and call you my daddy…

The distances between us have formed a gap –

Me with my busy life and you stuck in a trap.

It breaks my heart to be far away,

Alas! I wish there was a better way…

Like you, one day we will age too

There is nothing that we could do.

So I feel lost and at dismay

As the months drift away.

This morning I clasped my hands,

And dreamt of far away lands:

Lands of pure Love, Health, and Peace,

A place where we could all just be…

On father’s day I write to you,

Not only to say that I love you,

But to give you strength and conviction,

To brighten your day with glorification.

Parenting

How To Get Dads More Involved?

It is challenging to encourage Dads’ involvement, yet the society these days is working hard towards that goal. Below are a few steps that might help achieve it:

1. The Parents

Mom and dad should have a good relationship. Children need their parents to have a stable and close relationship more than anything. This stability sets the solid foundation to a successful parenting.

2. Ask for Help

Moms please ask your husbands for help. They need guidance and they heavily rely on you to assist them. After all, it is always better when the work is done side by side. Don’t wait for him to ask you as he would not know how tired and frustrated you feel.

3. Fun Activities

Every now and then it is essential that dads go out with the children – on their own – and enjoy some fun activities together. This helps in having the children see their dads in a new perspective which also helps in strengthening the bond between them.

4. Boring Routine

Divide the routine and boring duties, like showering and getting ready to school, where each parent has equal responsibilities. By doing so, both parents are saved from any unnecessary stress.

5. Communication

Discuss and communicate often. Once you agree on a variety of parenting methods, it becomes easier to deal with certain unexpected issues.

6. Gratitude

Show your gratitude for the partnership you have. Humans love to be praised and cared for. A simple thank you makes wonders.

7. One Message from Both

Moms and dads alike should send one message to their children and not opposing ones. Children are very smart and would continue to manipulate one parent against the other in order to get what they want! Once they realise that both parents have the same response, it is more likely they accept the decision taken.

8. Support

Be honest about how you feel towards the whole parenting procedure. It is very normal to have fears and worries. Once you talk about it with your partners, you will get the support you need. Who else would actually understand the situation more than your mate?

Parenting is one of the most beautiful yet challenging experience. It brings so many emotions that are bombarding and overwhelming along its bumpy road. The mere fact that we have our children only for a few years would motivate us to make the best out of it. That is why, when we work together, parenting becomes somehow easier.

About Life, events

Beloved Abu Dhabi – Good Bye

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I dedicate this last post from Abu Dhabi to each and everyone person I have met throughout those years:

Thirteen years ago, on a warm Spring day, I stepped foot in Abu Dhabi for the very first time. I was so excited to turn the few pages of anguish and start with a new chapter in my life. I have always embraced change, no matter how challenging it might be, and this time I could not contain my happiness and excitement. I gently rubbed my swollen tight tummy, feeling my first child kick me on the inside, as if he gave me a sign of approval and contentment. He could feel my delight, and he was satisfied as much as I was.

My life back in charming Paris, was not like one would imagine. Everyday living in Europe is not actually a luxury and requires a lot of patience, effort, and endurance -which I was not psychologically prepared to – especially when I got pregnant. Coming to think about it now, I wonder if, back then, I was still inexperienced enough to deal with life’s toughness.

Abu Dhabi welcomed me with open arms. It gave me a new essence to life. It sheltered me. It assisted me. It helped me grow. It offered me learning opportunities. It provided me with many occasions to examine new experiences and meet amazing people throughout those years. In addition to establishing a family of seven, I was also able to pursue my career life. I had all the help and support which I could not afford back in France. All of this has actually collaborated in what I achieved today, starting from my children, my work as an Elementary school teacher, and reaching to my current blogging world which is not restricted to any physical distance. This truth somehow alleviates me knowing that I will continue to reach out to all of you through my journey as the helicoptermommy – but this time from a new destination!

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After thirteen years, which of course had their challenges, failures, and successes, my family and I are leaving the UAE (United Arab Emirates) and heading to Muscat, Oman. As much as we are excited about the favorable changes we are going to experience, it breaks my heart to leave behind, family members, precious friends, dear students, close colleagues, supportive parents, and fellow like-minded bloggers and followers I have met and worked with in this part of the universe.

Thirteen years make history! As a matter of fact, what we have witnessed and experienced cannot be summarized in a few lines. Still, I can decipher a few unique moments which I have gained by being part of Abu Dhabi’s society. I am grateful for knowing each and every person I have met along those years. After all, I strongly believe that I always learn something new about myself by knowing others. As I look back, I realize how lucky I am to have had the chance of making friends from different parts of the world. Each one of them taught me about a different culture, a certain norm, and a cosmopolitan vision, making me more open to humanity with all its homogeneous and heterogeneous compositions. All of that taught me to accept people the way they are, and I soon realized that there was no room left for any judgement. We are all humans under the same sky battling against certain struggles and celebrating glorious triumphs. We are all humans who can give a lot of goodness to the world through kindness and acceptance.

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And maybe because giving and goodness have a rippling effect, my heart was filled with gratitude for receiving endless touching messages, compassionate phone calls, teary hugs and emotional farewell gatherings for the past weeks! How could I not feel that gnawing pain twisting inside my chest when I know that I am leaving part of me here?

If I send my gratitude to each and every one of you, whether we are close or far, I would drown under the heaviness of its intensity. My dear readers, followers, supporters, and confidants I cannot thank you enough for helping me become the mother, wife, sister, and woman I am today.

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Yes, I know that very soon I will pack our stuff in taped boxes! Yes, I know I will physically depart! Yes, I also know that I will close the door to our home very soon! Yes, life without us here will move on. Yes, I am experiencing different emotions! Yes, I might be in denial! Yes, I know the truth to all of that, but I also know that all of you and Abu Dhabi will remain in my heart forever!

So for now good bye, to you and good bye to Abu Dhabi…. but the journey continues because ‘every ending has a new beginning!”