Saturday, September 13, 2008

First Day of School

The kids started school last Sunday. Since the weekend here is Friday and Saturday, school and the work week starts on Sunday. The kids go to the American School of Kuwait which has close ties with the US embassy. It is a private school that teaches K through high school. The one nice thing about the school is that there is a uniform.

Do these look familiar?

The school started on September 7th, but enrollment was not assured. The kids had to be tested first. Testing took place on the previous Sunday. The kids took the tests, went home and waited for results. We really wanted the kids to get accepted as the other good school on our list had already started classes. Tuesday afternoon we received the good news that kids were accepted.

Now we need supplies....

It was a such a headache getting school supplies for the kids. It was a mad rush as parents rushed to get everything their kids needed. The most frustrating part was the nearly endless list of items that Deanna had to find. This was complicated by things on the list we were unsure exactly what they were. The kids needed envelope folders and pocket folders. What are pocket folders? We went to the store and it was packed. Plus the items were not marked "envelope folders" and "pocket folders". Many parents simply guessing what was the closest item to the list. It was very democratic--if more than one parent agreed that a particular item was close enough to what was on the list, then everyone took it home and scratched off one item off the list.

The next thing to get was uniforms. This was another trial as most of the uniform selection had thinned as first day of school approached. We were at a huge disadvantage buying uniforms so late. Deanna was able to find shirts, but no pants for the boys. And then it was nigh impossible to find PE shorts. In fact, we did not finish getting the PE shorts until after school started.

Deanna drives the kids to school. There is a bus option, but the kids board the bus approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes before school starts. Deanna thought that was too early so she is driving them to work for now. One would think that dropping kids off would be a snap. Unfortunately, the roads near the school are so narrow that it takes a very long time to drop off/pick up the kids each day. The school was started in the 60's so there was not a large, empty piece of land to help it expand later on. Rather, it was hemmed in, unable to expand. I am sure there has been attempts to fix the problem, but nothing has met with success. I think the traffic problem is here to stay.

The kids take the normal school subjects plus the language instruction. By law the kids must take Arabic lessons. In addition the kids take Spanish as well. You see the school is 1/3 American, 1/2 Kuwaiti and 1/6 other. If a child is Arabic, they must take religion classes at the school. Those that are not muslim take Spanish instead. Thus they are taking English, Spanish, and Arabic lessons. I always wanted the kids to take Spanish lessons and now they are able to!!

Life is moving along, one step at a time.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

The elevator

The kids were excited that our short-term housing was an apartment in a building with an elevator. They would prefer it if the building also had a pool, but the elevator was good enough. We were on the 2nd floor so there was not much need for an elevator; I prefer to take the single flight of stairs instead.

Talyn loved the elevator; it had buttons and it was in the building. He would often run ahead and take the elevator by himself.

One day I received the panic call at 4:00 that Talyn was stuck in the elevator. I was at work and all I heard was pandemonium emanating from my cell phone. Deanna and the kids were about to pick me up from work. Talyn ran out of the apartment and got into one elevator and took it down by himself. Nyssa, and Dante took the elevator while Deanna took the stairs. When Deanna reached the bottom first as the stairs are faster than the elevator, she saw Nyssa and Dante arrive at the bottom floor, but stood there waiting for the Talyn's elevator to open.

Talyn's elevator door never opened. The elevator got stuck and remained at the ground floor. Talyn began to panic while Deanna tried to calm him down. Talyn manually opened the doors a little bit a which point Deanna saw that the elevator was not flush with the floor. So Deanna told him to not push anything and too release the doors. She thought that if he released the doors the elevator would settle and the elevator door would open. After a couple of minutes, the doors did not open and the elevator light went out. Now Talyn was stuck in the elevator in the dark.

Talyn at the scene of the incident

That is when Deanna decided to call me.

I picked up the phone and Deanna was....concerned. Well actually she was close to a full on panic. In the background, I heard Talyn wailing. Nyssa and Dante were crying as well. Deanna did not know who to call. I decided to call the caretaker, but I did not know his number. Luckily his number is posted in the lobby. Deanna gave me the number and I went to talk to my colleague. You see the caretaker only speaks Arabic so I could not speak to him directly. My colleague did and told the caretaker what was going on. My colleague hung up and told me that the caretaker was on his way.

Meanwhile, Dante ran to the 2nd floor to call the elevator. The elevator started to move. The display said that the elevator went to the 10th floor. As the elevator rose, Talyn's cries became softer and softer. Then they became louder again as the elevator returned. When it reached the ground, it still did not open. Deanna then told him to open the inner doors manually. When he did that the outer doors released somewhat and Deanna was able to open the door with her hand.

Talyn is glad to be out of that elevator.

Later, the caretaker arrived and checked the elevator. The elevator seemed to work fine after that. The reason that Talyn was in the dark is that whenever there is no activity in the elevator for a minute or two, the light turns off in order to save electricity.

Deanna and I had the kids take the stairs for the next couple of days. There was no arguments after what happened. It has now been a week since it happened and the kids do not take the elevator very often.

Now he takes the stairs instead.

Saturday, September 6, 2008


Kuwait is a very dry place. This would seem self-evident as it is a desert, but I mean dry as in not humid. You see most of the Gulf region is very humid. Hot air takes water from the Arabian gulf and carries it on land. Kuwait is not humid as the wind blows from the desert to the sea and not vice-versa.

Although Kuwait is not humid in general, it is humid for one month during the year. This is that time of year.

It is miserable outside, but the saving grace is that everything is air-conditioned so it is not so bad. However, I wear glasses. If I walk from an air-conditioned room to the outside, my glasses immeadiately fog up. This is not too surprising given the humidity. What I find interesting is that they clear up just as fast in the dry air-conditioned air. Therefore as I go from store to store I become blind for about 2 minutes or until I reach the next store.

Short Term Apartment

One major decision we had to make was where to live. Now it is nearly impossible to choose a place that we would like long-term from overseas. Thus I thought it prudent to arrange for short-term housing.

Our short term housing consisted of a three bedroom apartment. Six days a week, not Friday, a cleaning crew arrives to straighten out the house. The apartment is furnished with IKEA furniture and it has a nice TV. A furnished apartment is key until our stuff arrives from the states.

We are on the second floor, Apartment #102. In fact, we are in the apartment directly over the kids head. We are the two sets of windows on the left.

We park our rental car, the trailblazer in the back of the complex.

One thing you will notice is that the apartment is all stone. There are stone walls and marble everywhere. The air conditioning is good as it keeps the apartment nice and comfortable.

Talyn and Dante playing DS in the living room.

Nyssa is looking at the Washer/Dryer. It actuallys washes and dries clothes in one machine!!
However, it does not dry all that much.

This is view from the front of the apartment.

This is the view from the back.