Month: February 2016

Mitch’s Monday Happy Hour – February 22

Welcome to this week’s edition of Mitch’s Monday Happy Hour! Here’s what I’d have to share if we were meeting for Happy Hour this week . . . . .

  • First of all, I apologize for skipping last week’s Happy Hour!  In fact, this week’s edition almost didn’t happen either . . . . It’s currently 10:30pm and I’m laying on the couch exhausted, but I thought I would throw something together quick for you.

We Have a Roller

roll over

  • It was a big week for Hayden, he rolled over for the first time from his back to his stomach!  Of course we didn’t get the first roll on video, and in fact, we still haven’t got one of them recorded!  In a world where it seems like people are constantly glued to their phones/cameras, every time he rolls we shout, “where’s my phone, where’s my phone?!?!?!?!”  We never find it in time!

We found Hayden’s Kryptonite

boogy

Photo courtesy of: http://www.nosesucker.com

  • Hayden received his 4 month vaccinations this week.  Here in Kuwait, the government requires children to get certain vaccinations.  Since they are required, you have to go to one of the Government Clinics, which is unlike any hospital/clinic I’ve ever been too.  It’s crowded, the waits are long, nothing seems organized, and they are only open certain hours each day.  It sure makes us feel grateful that we have health insurance so that we can attend the private clinics/hospitals for medical care.  The nurses we had were fantastic and Hayden was a totally stud!  Once the needle poked him in the leg, he gave us a weird look and just crinkled his eyebrow.  He let out one small wimper, which I translated to, “ouch!”  No tears, no crying, just a total tough guy!  However later in the night we noticed a booger in his nose, so we grabbed his lil’ boogy sucker thingy (I think this is the official name).  As soon as he saw that thing near his nose, he let out a bloodcurdling screammmmm!  He’s our little macho man, but he hates this thing, so apparently the boogy sucker thingy is his kryptonite.

We Love Vacations

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Photo courtesy of: http://www.buzzfeed.com

  • On Wednesday of this week, we are heading to Oman for a 4-day weekend to visit our friend Mike and his family.  Mike was the person who encouraged us to consider a life overseas, and specifically in the Middle East.  Since he moved to Oman over 5 years ago, we kept telling him that we were going to come visit, and the time has finally come.  We’re excited to explore Oman, check out some of their amazing beaches, and just enjoy a cold beer with a great friend.

Short Week

  • This weekend, Kuwait is celebrating it’s two largest holidays of the year, and they are on back-to-back days!  On February 25th Kuwait is celebrating National Day, which marks the creation of Kuwait as a country in 1961.  On the next day, February 26th, Kuwait celebrates Liberation Day, which marks the end of the Gulf War in 1991 when Kuwait liberated from the Iraqi invasion.  As a result of the holiday weekend, we only have a 4-day week this week!  Get this though . . . when our week was half over here in Kuwait (2pm on Monday) the work week in Minnesota hadn’t even started yet! (it was 5am on Monday)  Woohoo, only 2 more days until vacation!

See you next week ya’all!

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2015 Year in Review

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2015 was the second year of our blog, and everyday we are continually amazed at the number of readers and visitors that stop by!  Blogging is a ton of fun work, but it’s a great way to share our experiences and stories with people around the world, and we have throughly enjoyed it.

Last year I did a post entitled 2014 Stats, where I documented the stats for our blog.  Well today, you get to read about our 2015 year in blogging.

In 2015:

  • We published 66 posts, which was only 3 more than in 2014.
  • We had over 8,300 viewers, an increase of 56.6% from last year!  That is pretty impressive since we only blogged for 6 months in 2015: January-May and September
  • We posted 360 photos, about 7 per week
  • The day with the most viewers was on April 22, when we published Amazing News!
  • Our readers came from 107 countries!

 

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  • Here is list of the countries where our viewers are reading our blog:
    • United States: 5,615
    • Kuwait: 929
    • Canada: 345
    • Brazil: 248
    • United Kingdom: 128
    • France: 59
    • United Arab Emirates: 58
    • India: 54
    • Germany: 53
    • Sri Lanka: 52
    • Italy: 52
    • Less than 50 readers:
      • China, Australia, Saudi Arabia, Czech Republic, Spain, Portugal, Bangladesh, European Union, Jordan, Russia, Egypt, Netherlands, Pakistan, Turkey, Mexico, Greece, Hong Kong, Sweden, Switzerland, Philippines, Ireland, Slovenia, South Africa, Belgium, Qatar, Indonesia, Malaysia, Bahrain, Japan, Chile, Tunisia, Ecuador, Norway, Singapore, Finland, Morocco, Oman, Thailand, Colombia, Lebanon, Poland, Venezuela, Argentina, Hungary, South Korea, Barbados, Peru, Austria, Croatia, New Zealand, Romania, Vietnam, Senegal, Paraguay, Israel, Denmark, Benin, Algeria, Puerto Rico, Malta, Bhutan, Ghana, Mozambique, Madagascar, Azerbaijan, Kenya, Guadeloupe, Jamaica, Laos, Congo, Maldives, Angola, Luxembourg, Taiwan, Ivory Coast, Suriname, Ethiopia, Myanmar, Mongolia, Uruguay, Armenia, Bermuda, Georgia, Palestine, Nicaragua, Afghanistan, Dominican Republic, Montenegro, Togo, Lithuania, Bulgaria, Iraq, Nigeria, St Vincent & Grenadines, and Latvia!

2015 was a great year for our family, and we are looking forward to sharing more stories and adventures with you as we transition our life from Kuwait to South Korea this year!

 

Flying with a Two Month Old

We did it….we went to Thailand with a two month old and lived to tell the tale!

Before I jump into the details of our trip to Thailand over Christmas/New Years, I need to focus on something that scared my new Mommy heart way more than being in a foreign country with a two month old…flying on a plane for 6 hours with a two month old!

I was completely convinced that Hayden would spend all six flights (yes we planned our first vacation with our newborn to have six flights, rookie mistake!) screaming and keeping the entire plane awake the entire time.  We came prepared with 80 pairs of ear plugs to pass out to the poor souls who would be stuck on a plane with us.  We said many, many prayers to the airplane gods. We packed every rattle and toy Hayden has ever shown any interest in.  Mitch and I gave each other pep talks that “we can do this, even if it means standing in the bathroom for 6 hours.” Then we boarded the plane and our newborn did the one thing we were unprepared for: he peacefully slept the entire time.  During all six flights, he slept the entire time!

Hayden first flight

I love this little boy, even if I never, ever know what to expect out of him!

 

 

Where in the world….

We’ve played this game once before on the blog, and today we are going to play it again . . . our very own Might as Wellers’ version of Where in the World is Carmen San Diego!  In our version though, we are going to find out where in the world are Mitch and Rachel moving to next.  As we have mentioned here earlier this week, we are moving to Jeju Island, South Korea this fall, so I thought this would be a good time to take you on a little tour of Jeju compliments of Google Maps.

Let’s star with a wide angle shot of the world prior to zooming in to see where exactly Jeju is located.

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Now lets focus in on Asia . . .

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A bit closer into Asia . . .

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Now we are zoomed in on Far East Asia . . .

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Narrowed down to Korea, Japan, and just a sliver of China . . .

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Jeju Island is only about 100 km (60 miles) south of the mainland of South Korea.

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Starting to get a decent view of Jeju, Korea’s largest island at 45 miles east to west and 25 miles north to south.

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Jeju houses South Korea’s highest point: Hallasan, a volcano that reaches 6,400 feet high.

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The entire island of Jeju was created by volcanic eruptions about 2 million years ago, and currently has a population of over 600,000 people.

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We are pretty excited to “zoom in” closer and explore all that our little island home has to offer!

Now back to exploring our current Middle Eastern life for the next 4 months . . . .

We’re Moving to Korea!

As hard as it was for us to make the decision on what we should be doing in the next stage of our life, we made the decision that we are moving to Jeju Island, South Korea in the fall of 2016!

To be honest, prior to last year we didn’t even know Jeju existed.  We had a friend who left Kuwait last year and moved to Jeju, which opened our eyes to this awesome little island off the coast of South Korea.  In case you, like us, are just learning about Jeju, we are excited to teach you a few things about the island as we continue to learn and start exploring this fall.

Mitch and I were both offered positions at an excellent school on the island, and we just couldn’t turn down the opportunity to continue an international lifestyle and have a new corner of the world to travel around.  Like most international teaching positions, a two year contract is required, so we’ll be there at least until June of 2018.  We hope to explore far east Asia as much as possible, and can’t wait to watch Hayden grow up in this international life, where he’s able to learn new cultures and see parts of the world that most people in the United States never will.  We are already imagining his little toddler legs walking across the Great Wall of China, building sand castles on the beaches of the Philippine Islands, and riding the high speed trains across Japan.

The world is a big and wonderful place, we Might as Well explore it.

 

Mitch’s Monday Happy Hour – February 8

Hey Everyone,

Welcome to this week’s edition of Mitch’s Monday Happy Hour!  Here’s what I would share if we were meeting for Happy Hour this week:

Hayden is 4 Months Old!

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  • It’s hard for us to believe, but lil’ Hayden turned 4 months old this week!  It blows our minds how fast the time has gone by, but it also kind of feels like he’s been around for a lot longer than that too.  The lil’ dude tugs at our heart strings on a daily basis and has brought so much joy and love to our family, that words can’t even begin to describe it.  It’s probably a bit hard to tell from this family selfie we took, but at his last doctor’s appointment, his head size was in the 75th percentile, his weight was in the 97th percentile, and his length was off the charts!  This lil’ HUGE guy is getting so big, and our Pediatrician calls him Hercules.  Hopefully he’ll make his parents a lot of money in the NFL someday!

 

Mosque in a Roundabout

mosque roundabout
  • The other day I was driving in an unfamiliar part of downtown Kuwait City, when I came across something very interesting . . . . a mosque in a roundabout!  It was dark out (sorry for the crappy picture) and I was just following along with the Google Map on my iPhone, and knew that I had to turn at the next roundabout.  However when I looked up, there was a beautiful mosque that looked like it was in the middle of the road!  There are so many elegant mosques here with mesmerizing architecture, but this one really caught my attention since it was in the middle of a roundabout.  During our tour of Kuwait’s Grand Mosque, I remember our guide telling us that once a mosque is built, it can’t ever be torn down.  They can remodel and upgrade it, but it can never be destroyed or removed.  Which made me think . . . . . . was this particular mosque built before the roads, and so the engineers had to divert the traffic around it . . . . . hmmmmmmmm, not sure!

I did a bit more research on it (like 5 seconds on Google) and found out that it is called the Murgab Mosque at Al-Shamlan Roundabout.  Here is better photo of it thanks to http://www.dreamstime.com:

dreamstime mosque

Photo courtesy of http://www.dreamstime.com

Someone Found a Land Mine in Kuwait

Land mine article
  • I love reading the local newspaper, the Kuwait Times, because you never know what you’re going to find.  Speaking of finding something, apparently people are still finding land mines from the Iraqi invasion 25 years ago in the desert outside of Kuwait City!

 

Whoaa Truck

abraaj truck
  • I was driving the other day and got stuck behind this guy.  It might be hard to tell from the photo, but the truck was leaning BIG time to the left.  At the next intersection, he took a sharp right turn, and I just stopped in traffic, waiting for the entire rig to flip over on it’s side!  Luckily it didn’t, but I swear his tires were off the ground.

Make Yourself Proud

motivation

By: Unknown

  • I stumbled across this quote online a few months ago, and for some reason it just hit home with me.  So much so that I took a screen shot of it and saved it on my iPhone.  I kind of forgot about it until I was looking at old photos the other day, and it brought a smile to my face again!  I was asking myself the same questions two years ago, when we were debating on if we should move overseas to the Middle East.  (for the record though, I never dieted, cried, or hated myself, I just questioned and wondered if we would regret it)  I finally got to a point though where I just said, “we only have one shot at life, let’s live it up!”  So I leave you today to ponder the question, Are you making yourself proud?  If not, remember . . . . you only have one life, spend it well, go out and live!  Make yourself proud!!

Adios for now everyone!  Come back again on Wednesday though to see what decision we chose from our previous post.  Are we going to stay in Kuwait, go back to the United States, or move to another country?  See ya then!

Decisions are Hard

Making decisions is hard.  Sometimes deciding what to make for dinner can be hard. On at least a weekly basis this conversation can be overheard in our home:

R: “What do you want for dinner?”

M: “I don’t care. What do you want for dinner?”

R: “I don’t know. Anything sound good to you?”

M: “Not really, just something quick and easy.”

R: “Ok, like what?”

M: “I don’t know”

This can potentially continue on for a ridiculous amount of time.  If it is that hard for us to decide what to eat, imagine us making a decision as big as what country should we live in next year.

Being a part of the international community means that every year a huge portion of our friends, and ourselves, are making the decision: stay for another year, move to another country, or go back home.  We signed a two year contract when we came to Kuwait, so we knew that this was the year of the big decision for us, and we struggled with that decision….for months!

We ended up discussing the pros and cons of each scenario, at extreme length, and what it boiled down to was each option was wonderful and terrible all at the same time.  Hear me out:

Staying in Kuwait: 

Pro: We have awesome friends here, and we know a bunch of wonderful nannies that we feel comfortable with that we could easily leave Hayden with next year.  Staying here would also be super easy (moving is a crap ton of work!) and travel options from the Middle East are wonderful!  You can take a quick trip and be in Europe, Africa, or Southeast Asia very easily.

Con: Our family doesn’t live here, it is brown…very brown, and we miss grass.  The driving is crazy (seriously, every time I put Hayden in the car I say a quick little prayer before we take off) and we spend far too much time commuting back-and-forth to work every day.  I would like that hour (minimum) of my life back each day.

Moving to a new Country:

Pro: New places to explore, great professional opportunities to grow our careers, better pay, and keep are awesome teacher schedule = more family time (summers off, three weeks off at Christmas, fall break, spring break, etc.)

Con: Our family doesn’t live there, fear of the unknown, and finding Hayden a nanny will be a bigger challenge

Going Home:

Pro: Our family lives there!

Con: Less pay, no more adventure for us, and Mitch would probably go back to his old career, which means working a lot more hours and cutting into our family time.  Life back home is also a lot busier (we like the slow pace of life that we have as expats).  Also, traveling abroad would go back to one trip a year.

Each option that we had would lead to so much happiness and yet, so much sadness all at the same time.  I love living overseas and I love the lifestyle my little family has.  We work, travel, and have fantastic time off to spend together, but all of that comes at a cost; unfortunately each decision does have a cost.  We stewed about our decision from the day we got back to Kuwait last August until the day we had to inform the school of our decision in December.

As hard as it was, we made a decision, one we are both happy with and extremely sad because of.

More info on what our next life plan is coming soon.

Excuse Me United Airlines, I Think That’s My Bag!

When I travel, I usually always carry-on one pack, my Eagle River pack.  I always fill it with my technology, any important documents, and a couple changes of clothes (just in case the airline loses my checked baggage).

However last June when we were flying back to the United States for the summer, I decided to just check my carry-on bag for the last leg from Newark, New Jersey to Minneapolis, Minnesota, because I was sick of carrying it around. We were able to squeeze all of our important items into Rachel’s carry on and stuff my carry on with all of the clothes.  As soon as we boarded the United Airlines plane, I quickly ordered a cold beer!  As you probably know by now, Kuwait is a dry country, so I was super pumped to have one!

United1

As I was enjoying my beer, I was watching a couple of Baggage Handlers loading luggage onto the plane next us.  I was watching as they would monotonously grab a bag, scan the tag, then chuck it on the conveyor belt, and watch it disappear into the belly of the plane.  I was enjoying the entertainment, when I noticed something different in the pattern.  They scanned a bag, looked at, then set it on the fender of the conveyor machine.  I was starring at the bag, when all of a sudden I realized, THAT’S MY BAG!

The Baggage Handlers finished loading the plane, and just walked away.  In the meantime, the final passengers were boarding our flight, and we were about to leave in any minute!

I immediately pressed the Flight Attendant call button . . . .

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Me: “Excuse me ma’m, I’m sorry to bother you, but one of my bags is on the conveyor machine by the plane next to us.”

Flight Attendant: (Looking out the window) “Are you sure?”

Me: “I am 99% sure!  I have a very distinct bag.  Could you have somebody check?  I would hate to leave my bag in New Jersey.”

Flight Attendant: “Ok, ok, I’ll have someone check.”

*In the meantime, the two baggage handlers are hiding under the terminal, with their faces buried in their phones.  All of the passengers are now loaded onto our flight, they are about to close the door!  Then the United Airlines Gate Agent comes onto our flight and comes over to me.

Gate Agent: “Sir, is there a problem?”

Me: “Yes, one of my bags is sitting on that conveyor machine, on the wrong plane.”

Gate Agent: (With a look of disbelief on his face) Oooooook, I’ll look into it.”

He leaves the plane, and I can now see him out my window walking towards my bag.  I’m a bit nervous at this point and my fingers are crossed that it IS my bag, because I’d hate to cause a big deal over nothing!

Then I see him check the tag, grab it, and walk towards our plane. It indeed WAS my bag!

In the meantime, the two baggage handlers are still hiding under the terminal, with their faces buried in their phones.  They think they are hiding, but I can clearly see them.

Moments later the Flight Attendant walks back over to me:

Flight Attendant: “Sir, thank you for letting me know about your bag.  The baggage handlers were just about to put it on our plane.”

Me: “Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight!” “Thank you for your help!.”

Seriously, about 1 minute later the door to our plane closes, and they start to push our plane back from the gate.

So my advice to you: Always look out the windows once you are seated on your plane.  You never know if you’ll see your luggage being loaded onto the WRONG flight!

Mitch’s Monday Happy Hour – February 1

What’s up everyone!  Welcome back to our (*hopefully) weekly Mitch’s Monday Happy Hour post where we can catch up on what’s going on in our lives, and any unique things I encounter in Kuwait that I think you might find interesting.  So here goes, February 1st . . . . .

My Sister is Coming to Kuwait!

  • We are so excited to welcome my sister to Kuwait next month!  She’s coming for 10 days and we can’t wait to show her around and give her some insight to our lives from the last 2 years!  We plan on hitting up some of the places that we’ve talked about here on the blog, and also hopefully taking a quick trip to Dubai.  She’s never been to the Middle East before, so we are looking forward to showing her all the cool things that it offers, and how safe it is!!!  We still have openings here at Hotel de Johnson if anyone is interested in a vacation to Kuwait this year!

My First Kuwaiti Beer

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  • I bought my first Kuwaiti beer the other day!  No, it’s not what you think . . . . . . they did not legalize alcohol here, it’s a non-alcoholic one!  Rachel was preparing dinner the other day in the crockpot and realized the recipe called for a beer.  So I ran to the little bakala (corner grocery store) to grab one.  I took a small taste and it wasn’t good!  I guess I’ll be waiting until our next vacation out of Kuwait for my next beer.

I Nailed Dinner Last Weekend

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  • I’ll admit it, I do not do a lot of the cooking around here!  Partly because I’m terrible at it and it stresses me out, but also because Rachel is awesome at it!  She researches new recipes, does the meal planning, grocery shopping and viola, a delicious meal is on the table!  However, I took over dinner the other night, and totally nailed it!  I saw one of those dumb 30 second movie clips on Facebook where they magically whip together a meal, and decided to give one a try.  I made salmon, asparagus, and potatoes and it was fantastic!  *When I told Rachel I was going to put this on the Happy Hour post, her reply, “what, you make dinner one time and you’re going to talk about it on the blog!?!?  YES, I am.

Brrrrrrrrrr, It’s Freezing Here!

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  • Most of you probably saw my post about the Snow in Kuwait from last week, but all winter has been super chilly compared to last year.  This weekend at around 4am, the temperatures officially got down to the freezing point (32 degrees Fahrenheit or 0 degrees Celsius)!  They even cancelled baseball games over the weekend due to the “extreme cold weather” (windchill of 32 degrees Fahrenheit)

Funny Photo of the Week

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  • I pulled up to a red light the other day, and noticed the guy in front of me hand wrote the brand “Daihatsu” on his tailgate.  I’m not sure if the truck was actually a Daihatsu or if he just wished it was, but regardless . . . . . he found a black marker somewhere and tried his best to make it look legit.  Kudos to you my friend for the valiant effort!

That’s all for this week folks, I look forward to seeing you again next Monday!