Pictures of my apartment upon arrival


All these supplies were stacked on the counter upon my arrival in the apartment.


Tiny, but had supplies in it as well.

IMG_0095 Everything is tiled, including the floor.[/caption]


Additional supplies and on the wall is a water filter. I use it to make coffee/tea.


I turned it on once and was scalded (no cold water), so only use solar heated now.


It is gas and the orange cord in the back is the gas line to the tank that sits under the sink.


I think this has a 6 kg capacity. I’ve moved the mirror.



All toilets here have one of these sprayers hung next to them, even public restrooms. Hand held bidet, I guess.


This is from the door of my bedroom.

IMG_0100 This is what my bed looked like when I walked in. The sheet (there was only 1) is nylon or polyester, thin & no mattress cover. [/caption]


Cluttered with my stuff.






Curses, foiled again!

I tried to put a photo up and it didn’t appear, so I will have to figure out why.

view of the street from my bedroom

view of the street from my bedroom


outside the gates of the singles and family building

Meanwhile, we were on the bus and leaving by 6 a.m. to try to be first in line to get our blood drawn. We were there by 6:25, but we were not first, so we waited. We were finally finished by about 10:30 and the men were sent back to school on one bus while the women were hauled to another place for chest x-rays. Again, we waited then we were taken back and given saffron colored floor-length gowns to put on after removing all our top clothing. We then went in to a smaller room, hugged the x-ray machine, redressed, and went back out to wait some more. We finally got back to school at about 11:45.

I went to have lunch with Kelly. She is a single mom of grown boys from California. She is teaching 3rd grade and lives 2 floors below me. We make each other laugh, so that is fun. She broke her ankle the 2nd day here, so she got some real up-close-and-personal experience with the medical system here. Then I went upstairs and tried to make some progress on my room. (I’m on the top floor at one end, so I’m thrilled to be getting the stairs workout everyday at school.) I managed to reach around the chairs and debris in the hallway to cover the bulletin board and put up border. I then tried to see about getting a mouse for my computer as I would be able to use my computer in my classroom. No luck yet.

The pool party was hot and very humid, so I didn’t stay long. Kelly, Gabe, Quinn, Dano, and I enjoyed a little glass of “adult juice” (homemade wine) before going over there. It is thanks to Gabe (my neighbor) that I have internet right now!! We’re going to try to continue sharing it.

August 28, 2013 Happy Birthday to Aunt Mary!

I made the 6:30 bus this morning and was able to do a quick check of email. I have not been on Facebook in several days now. It is so frustrating not to be able to get on the internet when it appears I have full service from my neighbor. I keep trying.

We had a chance to get into our classrooms today, but there were workers in mine and no desks or chairs. I went into a neighboring classroom and worked a bit. I think I have the first session sketched out and I just need to flesh it out for each grade level.  Then at 12:30 we climbed onto the hot bus (yes, it is air conditioned, but it has limited ability to really keep everyone cool when it is packed) to go to the police department for fingerprinting. We got there a bit before 1:00 p.m. and the women were not through until 3:30 p.m. Men are not supposed to touch women here in public, even on the hand, so they finally put on gloves and quickly ushered us through the process. However, we had to wait a long time (obviously) before they came to that solution. 

Meanwhile, many of the men had on shorts (in fact, most of them did) and they wouldn’t fingerprint them if they didn’t have on long pants, so the 4 men who wore long pants traded on the bus with those who had shorts until they eventually got all the men fingerprinted. (They were finished by about 2:30.) I find all these taboos and traditions rather fascinating.  

After we got home I decided to look through my veggies. I had bought some romaine lettuce and some carrots. There were 3 heads of romaine shoved into a Styrofoam container and taped with packing tape strips. Interesting. It was quite wilty and rather wormy, so from the 3 heads I got enough for one big salad (more than I can eat in one sitting). Tomorrow we have a potluck pool party and so I may bring salad.

I have been having trouble falling asleep for the past few nights, as my mind races once I get in bed and close my eyes. I’m going to try to get there a little earlier tonight as we have to be on the bus by 5:45 a.m. tomorrow for medical tests. We are all hoping that we can get through this more easily than we did the fingerprinting and be able to get back into our classrooms. 

I have a fair amount of furniture moving and cleaning up to do before my room will feel ready. It’s weird not to be preparing for my one class, but instead for the multitudes.  Yesterday my room had a bare cement floor and today it was covered in a sort of wine colored carpet and smelled strongly of glue. Here’s to all the new experiences!!

August 27, 2013 sorry, these aren’t very interesting titles

Missed the 6:30 bus today and I almost cried. That says I’m beginning to feel run down. Then I went to find wifi and read a few emails. Caught the 7:00 bus and was there in plenty of time. 

As with most schools and every school year, there are lots of meetings. I have not had time to prepare my classroom, but it is not finished. Construction was done and there is still carpet to be put in and furniture to be distributed. I just have to trust and believe them when they tell me it will be done. I have a little office off of my room and it has a refrigerator, so I hope to get it working tomorrow.  Though tomorrow is another day of meetings.

Today, all the new hires had to go to a small office to get blood drawn (they type us and keep a record of it).  Tomorrow we will all be fingerprinted and then on Thursday we all get to spend most of the day having all the tests we paid lots of money to have done in the states done all over again. Oh boy! Since there are about 40 of us, this takes inordinate amounts of time (and they seem to enjoy making us wait). Thursday evening is a pool party and social.  A couple of boys of one of the teachers grind peanut butter by hand, so I bought some and will have to pay them at the party.  

This afternoon I went with 2 other teachers by taxi to a big mall that has a large grocery store. I spent KD20, which is about $100. I tried to use my credit card, but it was denied so I’ll have to contact them again about my being over here. There are still a few things I need to buy, but mostly I’m pretty well set. There are lots of unusual things in the stores here, particularly fruits and veggies (I still don’t know what some of them are). Of course, pork is unavailable, but lamb is everywhere.

Photography is forbidden in many places including the grocery store and the beach. I snapped a photo of the gulf from the Hilton, but they don’t want you to take pictures of the Muslims in their clothes or swimming costumes. I don’t know how to spell the names of all the clothes, but I am learning many of them. We seem them all the time and some of them work for the school to teach religion and Arabic.  It will take me awhile to remember all the names as they are so different to me.

I talked today with the principal and the literacy coach about my role here. They confirmed and have changed my title to Reader’s Theater teacher.  They are dedicated to making this a success and I am too. I can incorporate some movement and voice as warm-ups and I get to do read alouds (YAY!!!) and then have them act it out (for the younger grades) and the older ones will do the warm-ups, may still have a read aloud and then do some reading themselves from scripts. Apparently the population of the school is about 90-95% Arab, but the children were born in a different country and have that passport. So, on paper it is quite diverse and in reality it is largely Arab. That means English is a 2nd (at least) language and it is forbidden to speak it at school except in Arabic class!

August 26, 2013

This was the first day of school with the whole staff present! Lots of people, and it was fun to meet some new folks. I’ve met quite a few from the Portland, OR area and a few from Washington, so the Pacific NW is well represented here. I also met someone here today who is my exact same age. We share birth DAY, MONTH, and YEAR! I’ve never met anyone like that before!! Oh, and I met one of my daughter’s classmates from WWC too! Today I got the keys to my room and met with the “specials” teachers. I didn’t get a chance to see my room, as I then had to attend a “vertical” team meeting with the middle school (MS) and high school (HS) music, art, and drama teachers. On the way to this meeting I began to truly get a picture of what it is I’ve been hired to do: literacy intervention. I’m trying not to let this news deflate my excitement balloon. I’m really more qualified to do this anyway. So, I think they picture me using mostly reader’s theater to help students read more deeply.  I’m trying to rapidly shift my thinking and figure out how to make this fun for both my students and me. I hope to meet with the “support team” tomorrow. I think I will talk with the principal as well.

I also learned that in most international schools there are 2 years of kindergarten (KG). In the US we call the first year pre-K. They call it KG 1 so that companies will pay the tuition fees for their employees. In other words, they will pay for KG, but not for preschool or pre-KG. I will be working with the KG-2 (so 2nd year of kindergarten or 5 year olds) through 5th grade. This was also news as I was under the impression it was 2nd – 5th.  Again, I’m trying to hang on to my optimism.

Meanwhile, my buddy teacher (the MS/HS drama teacher) really did and is doing a fabulous job of looking after me. She had arranged for me to buy last spring a whole lot of household items that most of my first year colleagues are having to purchase new. I got a 32” flat screen TV, DVD player, crock pot, microwave, toaster oven, clothes drier, toaster, electric hot water kettle, iron, ironing board, mops, brooms, wastebaskets, shower rod and curtain, extension cords, 2 sets of sheets, 2 sets of towels, comforter and cover, dishes, plasticware, cookware, and miscellaneous other things.

Earlier this evening, the power kept snapping off in my apartment and another apartment 2 doors down. There are 4 apartments per floor in my building and there are 5 floors. None of the teachers live on the ground floor, so that just leaves 1st -5th .  The singles building and the family building both have 13 floors, plus the ground floor and basement, so the annex, where I live, is a tiny relative just outside the walls.

I’ve also discovered an easy way for me to figure the time difference (rather than counting backwards from whatever time it is). On the east coast add 5 and change the am/pm (you-on the east coast – would subtract 5 and change am/pm), and on the west coast add 2 and change am/pm (you– on the west coast – would subtract 2 and change).

August 25, 2013

Yesterday was pretty uneventful. We loaded onto buses and went to the Hilton just 5-10 minutes down the road. They offer memberships to use their gym (very nice), take their classes (various aerobic/pump/zumba/spin), use their spa, and pools, which have a gorgeous view of the gulf. One of the guys who swam in the gulf got stung by a jelly fish! It’s a wonder the heat doesn’t turn all the sand to glass.  We also have a small gym here, so I don’t feel the need to spend the big $$ to join the Hilton.

Today we went to school (about a 20-30 minute ride by bus) for all sorts of workshops. We are all operating on information overload, but it seems really important to know.

I opted not to go shopping this evening in favor of a quick check of email (sorry, once I get my own internet I will actually write to some people) and facebook, I went to retrieve the stuff I bought last spring via my buddy teacher (quite a character).  In the process, I was able to get a light for the bathroom and my outlets fixed (I had working outlets in only the kitchen and laundry room). In each room, there is one outlet with one plug hole. ONE! So extension cords are a must. I now have more amenities than I want or need. Ha. I may try to share the wealth. Meanwhile, I’m charging phones and computer in my own apartment rather than hijacking others’.  I still need to pick up said extension cords, ironing board, broom, mop, etc.  We waited until it cooled off a little. I think it was probably only about 95 as the sun was going down. It might cool off to 88 tonight. It does make a difference to have it be a dry heat however.

It has been nice to feel ‘in-the-know’ with most of these workshops. The ASK (American School of Kuwait)’s focus this year is on literacy with quite a push for Lucy Calkins (for all my teacher friends!).  I actually feel like I can be a resource on this here. They are wanting me to incorporate a lot of this into “drama,” which is what I’ve been hired to teach. I’ve been told this is quite a departure from past years, so I may meet with some resistance from some of the students (maybe even teachers).  We have six 45-minute periods everyday, but I have not seen my schedule yet. (I keep forgetting to check my school email and MUST do that tomorrow.) I believe I heard there are about 140-145 students per grade level.  It’s really quite a nice place and it is completely walled and gated.  I have felt no reason to fear here, even walking along the street alone at night (not far).

More text without pictures

NB: I’ve written a week’s worth of these and intend to post them all. They are still without pictures, because I am not at leisure to post for as long as it takes. I suspect I will not be able to keep up this pace of posting (I know, what a relief, right?) once school starts next Monday.

8/22/13        Shopping today. We went to the most enormous mall I’ve ever been to called The Avenues (though I’m told there are bigger ones) and I made my first trip to an Ikea.  I got lost. Once I found my way out, with a clock and a pillow, I progressed toward Carrefour (I think that’s how it is spelled), which is akin to Walmart or Target. 

Everyplace we go is by taxi bus and all the first year teachers go together. Some are talking of getting cars, but I’ll stick to the taxis. Everything looks so much the same here and there are few street signs except on the main thoroughfares, plus driving is a sport with few rules. There is some activity planned for everyday, and much of it is divided between social and work. During the workdays we are at school from 8:00-2:00 and the first week had something on for every afternoon or evening. That gives us a bit of down time somewhere in each day. The weekend was this big shopping trip today and then out for a very nice dinner at a Lebanese restaurant. Tomorrow is a trip to the beach. Some people have a view of the gulf. Every time I look, I can’t tell if it’s water I see out there. I’m told I need to watch the sunrise, so I’ll see if I can get some pictures of that.

 I did my first load of laundry and have some lovely unintended tie-dye on some things. Even though I have not turned my water heater on, the water is solar heated to such a degree that it caused the colors to bleed. Oh well, I’ll do better next time.

I brought some 3M Command hooks with me and am very happy I did as they have come in handy for getting things up on the wall right away. I’m still without a light in my bathroom and I am still not able to get the outlets to work.  I charge my computer at other people’s apartments or in common areas. There’s a community room (with books and DVDs to swap, a pool table, ping pong table, and benches), a gym with all sorts of equipment, and a pool to which all of us have access. My building is outside of the guarded gated place, but I feel quite safe here.

The high school and middle school are spread over 3 floors each and there is a large green space with a straw roofed hut in it between them and the elementary school. There is a CDC (Child Development Center) for 3 year olds, KG-1 for 4 years olds, and KG-2 for 5 years olds, then grades 1-5.  The CDC and KG classes are on a separate hallway and have a separate play area (high awning covering an AstroTurf soccer pitch size field). Grades 1, 2, and 3 are on the ground level and grades 4 and 5 on levels above 3rd.  There is a pool and a basketball court covered by a quilted-pillowy looking building made of canvas on the school grounds as well!

Those of you who patiently heard me out when I bemoaned the hurdles I had to jump through with medical exams, blood tests and x-rays might be interested to know that I will be going next week to have them all RE-done here! Seems a bit of overkill to me.

It seemed like a Harry Potter kind of day today, so I watched the Prisoner of Azkaban in stages during various breaks. Now it’s time for bed. I do wear earplugs to bed every night due to pretty constant and often loud street and construction noise.

The trip!

Leaving on a rainy day was perhaps a good thing as it wasn’t Carolina blue skies I was saying good-bye to, but gray, wet skies.  The flight to Chicago went very smoothly and I found my way to my next gate to wait for four hours.

Lufthansa was lovely to ride from Chicago to Frankfurt and I even managed to sleep a little. In Frankfurt there was a three hour plus wait. I again made my way to the gate, checked to make sure it was the gate and watched some Harry Potter. I expected to see folks beginning to mill about at the gate and when it was 15 minutes from expected take off I decided I better check again. Oops! Wrong gate. So I hightailed it to the right one (just 5 gates down) and dashed on to the plane. There I discovered that many people had met and gotten to know others. Booo! Sorry I missed that. 

The flight from Frankfurt to Kuwait was uneventful and took over 4 hours.  We landed and went to get our visas and passports checked and stamped. Then we moved on to collect our luggage. I got a porter and he got all my suitcases and we gathered with current faculty and staff from ASK (American School of Kuwait).  There were about 40 of us!!! They had hired people to mark our luggage with our apartment number and put it onto trucks to haul to the apartments (about 30-40 minutes away).  They had also hired buses to transport the people! We arrived at our housing and had our luggage upstairs (well, elevator, really) by around 1:30 am.

I have a sofa and love seat with coffee table, 2 end tables, bookshelf and entertainment stand in the living room. Just beside the door is a table and four chairs against the wall. Down the hall and to the right is the bathroom with a big lip at the door, on which I just managed not to stub my toe. Across the hall from the bathroom is a study. It has two wardrobes and a desk. Right next to this room is the bedroom (on the left side of the hall). It has a bureau of drawers, a vanity with mirror, a bedside table and a queen size bed. A new sheet was laid across the bare mattress and a matching pillowcase was on the one pillow, with a matching duvet. Since I brought my own sheets I was happy to put the duvet as a mattress cover (think pillow top) and make it with my sheets. Across the hall from the bedroom is a teeny-tiny kitchen with a small gas range and oven, refrigerator, and small cupboards. At the end of this long hallway is a tiny little laundry room, with a tiny little washer. I haven’t tried it out yet, but think I may try a load tomorrow. 

The work week here is Sunday to Thursday, so tonight is the first night of the weekend.  It has been odd to get used to the times of light and dark. We are closer to the equator than I realized, so we get just about 12 hours of each.

I was going to include photos, but am out of time with this session of wifi. So, until next time!


I received my travel papers and breathed a sigh of relief. I clearly spent too long breathing! Suddenly I needed to be all packed and I kept finding things that I needed to find space for or take to storage.

My son arrived on Thursday night and spent the better part of Friday with me. It was great to have so much time with him before I left. Once his sister arrived, he headed back to school.

Saturday was the big haul away day for the furniture, and in the middle of it all there was a house showing! Here’s hoping that an offer will still come in from that! Saturday was a rainy day and we spent the morning in drizzle moving several things in the Spaulding’s wonderful pickup truck while the house was showing. Then at about 3:00, Habitat for Humanity Restore showed up and it started raining in earnest. They took all of the furniture left in the house (except a box spring – beds are surprisingly difficult to get rid of here).  Went out for a last dinner and then returned to the house to “camp out” overnight!

Sunday dawned as a beautiful day and we made another run to storage, then had lunch and the kids headed back home. It was a tearful goodbye, but less than either of us thought it would be. 🙂 Then the friend-without-whom-any-of-this-would-have-been-done came and we loaded up for one last run to storage and the dump. She returned me home and loaded up the thrift shop stuff to head home for the day. I went next door to my wonderful neighbor’s house to have dinner and meet her kids. There was an adorable little baby to play with, plus an almost 7 year old and a 4 year old.  We watched part of “Fish Tales” together. Fun! Back home for one more overnight “camp” on my own. I didn’t sleep very well, but was able to get a cup of coffee and some breakfast from next door. (Thank you so much!!)

A last lunch with dear friend mentioned above and a tearful, but quick goodbye to her and her kids. Tucked the last few things into suitcases, closed them up and waited for my “taxi,” who happened to be the owner of the pickup truck borrowed earlier.  We loaded all the baggage in her car and headed to the airport.  She stocked me with all sorts of unexpected goodies, I collected a porter and after another teary farewell was off to check-in.

I have ported my cell phone number to Google Voice, so that number is still the best one to contact me with at this point. It has been highly amusing to try to figure out what the message has been that people have left by voice, which Google Voice has turned into text! Good fun! Email and Facebook are still good ways to contact me as well. I’ll try to have photos for my next post!

Leaps and bounds!

Just as the emotional dam broke, so did the progress on emptying the house and readiness for the trip! 

All the mattresses in my house have been hauled away except for the one I am planning to keep in storage. The rooms are quite empty and guests will have to bring their own beds and bedding! 🙂  Oh, and chairs, etc.! 

The biggest thing that has set my mind at ease is that the Kuwait Embassy has already sent back my passport with visa attached! I just sent it on Monday and it was approved and returned to my door by Thursday!!! Now that was a fast turn around and I’m breathing a huge sigh of relief.

Tomorrow morning the guy who is buying my car arrives to take it away. Now, I just need my house to sell! Please.

I have scheduled Habitat for Humanity Restore to come pick up all the left over furniture on Saturday, August 17 in the afternoon. I’ll be in a completely empty house then, but only for 2 days.

Tomorrow a friend is coming with her pick-up truck to haul away some trash. It will good to get some of the bigger stuff that doesn’t fit into the trash can (bikes, scooter, shovels) out of here. At the landfill there is a swap shed where things that are reusable, such as that, are left for people to take so it doesn’t end up in the garbage. 

Speaking of friends, I absolutely could not have accomplished these things without the support and sweat equity of my friends and family. I mean, they have not been afraid to get dirty and do the heavy lifting. Some of the stuff was in the eaves of my house and coated with decades of dirt and dust. I am a packrat and I have lots of papers and books that, for some insane reason, I kept. Papers and books? They’re so very heavy. These same friends have crammed their cars to the gills and helped to haul it away. I am pleased to say that most of it has gone to recycling, the thrift shop, the swap shop, or trash. That means that I did pretty well in estimating the size of the storage unit for my stuff. Other than what I am taking with me, everything I own fits in a 5’x15′ storage unit! Thank you to these wonderful, generous, loving friends and family!

My goal is never to be a packrat again. I don’t want (nor do I want my children) to have to go through junk like that. Simplifying and living light.

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