Posted By: Mitch

Proof that we are NOT Crazy!

Two years ago when we started telling our friends and family that we were selling everything we owned, quitting our jobs, and that we were moving to the Middle East, I’m sure lots of people thought we were crazy!  We weren’t though, we were just looking for an adventure and new travel opportunities.

Last summer, when we were back in Minnesota, and were sharing the news that Rachel was pregnant and that our son was going to be born in Kuwait, I’m sure lots of people thought we were crazy!  We weren’t though, because we knew that we had a great doctor and hospital here in Kuwait.

We’ve taken some crazy trips, been in a few sticky situations, and have been lost numerous times in foreign countries, but no . . . . we’re not crazy.

Ok, ok, maybe we ARE a little crazy sometimes, but this week we made a very mature decision that proves that we aren’t always CRAZY!

We were supposed to fly out to Istanbul, Turkey today for a week vacation for Spring Break, however earlier this week we made the decision to cancel our vacation.  (insert sad music here)

Turkey has been in the news a lot lately, and unfortunately . . . . not for good reasons.  There is a bit of unrest in the country right now, which is very unfortunate, because it is such a beautiful country with great people.  I was there last November and had a wonderful trip!

Due to the recent unrest in the country, the United States Department of State issued a Travel Warning for Turkey on March 17th.  It’s always been our rule of thumb, that we wouldn’t travel to a country that had a current Travel Warning.  We figure that the government knows more than we do, so we just listen to their advice.

According to their website, they issue a Travel Warning when:

“we want you to consider very carefully whether you should go to a country at all. Examples of reasons for issuing a Travel Warning might include unstable government, civil war, ongoing intense crime or violence, or frequent terrorist attacks. We want you to know the risks of traveling to these places and to strongly consider not going to them at all. Travel Warnings remain in place until the situation changes.”

I’m sure we would have been safe if we had gone to Istanbul, but now that we have Hayden in our lives, we know that we should just take it easy and follow the advice of the professionals.

So there it is folks, we aren’t entirely CRAZY!  We like traveling and love the adventures that come along with it, but we also know that sometimes it’s just best to reconsider your travel plans.  So instead of a trip to Istanbul for Spring Break, we are going to enjoy a little “stay-cation” here in Kuwait!

You can visit the U.S. Department of State’s website to view a complete listing of Travel Alerts and Warnings here.

 

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Mitch’s Monday Happy Hour – March 7

Hey everyone, welcome to this week’s edition of Mitch’s Monday Happy Hour! We took last week off because we were on vacation to Oman, so here’s what we’ve been up to . . . . .

Oh Man, Oman was Awesome!

Our trip to Oman last weekend was awesome, it is such a beautiful country!  We enjoyed seeing our friend Mike and his boys and had a nice visit. We spent some time at the beach, ripped around on his jet skis in the ocean, and went for a hike in the mountains.  It was a relaxing trip and the perfect getaway for the weekend.  We’ll try to get some more pics posted soon.

Basketball Team

A few weeks ago, I started coaching the U14 Girls Basketball team at our school.  We’ve only had two games so far, and I’m happy to report that we are 2-0!  The team is composed of 6th, 7th, & 8th graders, and it has been a ton of fun!  We spent a lot of time on the basic fundamentals for the first couple of weeks, but now we are slowly starting to incorporate some offensive plays and defensive strategies.  We’ve continued to improve each week, which has been fun to see.

Baseball Tournament

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This last weekend the local baseball organization here in Kuwait hosted teams from all over the Middle East for their annual tournament.  A total of 20 teams participated and came from Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Bahrain. I umpired 8 games in two days, so it was a busy weekend!  Rachel kicked butt being wife/mom of the year keeping our family running smoothly, while I was off enjoying my favorite hobby! So a special thanks to her!

Here’s a pretty cool photo that the Tournament Photographer captured of me in action during one of the games:

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McDonalds Serving Beer in Korea

Last week Rachel’s aunt emailed me an article that she found on CNBC.com entitled: McDonald’s to Offer a Beer with Burgers in South Korea.  When I read it, I chuckled when the author referred to South Korea as the Ireland of Asia, because of it’s huge drinking culture.  According to the article, South Koreans consumed a staggering 27.5 liters of alcohol per capita in 2010.  For comparison, Irish drinkers only consumed 14.7 liters of alcohol per capita in the same year (half as much!).  It’s kind of funny that we are moving from a dry country without any booze, to one of the most alcohol friendly countries in the world!  If you are interested in reading the article, you can visit it here.

We’re Having a Visitor . . . . 

We are so excited to welcome my sister to Kuwait tomorrow!  She is coming for about a week, and we can’t wait for her to meet Hayden.  We’re going to show her around and give her some insight into our lives’ here in the Middle East.  I’m also hoping to have her do some blogging while she is here!!!!!  I’ve been looking for a Guest Contributor lately, and I think she is going to be an excellent candidate.  She doesn’t know that I’m going to ask her yet though, so hopefully she says yes.

Until next week ya’all . . . . .

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

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  • 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

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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!

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!

 

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

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  • 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!

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!

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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!

It Snowed in Kuwait Today!

Today, January 28th, it snowed in Kuwait!

Who would of thought, that when we decided to move to the Middle East, that we would get snow here!  We both envisioned an arid climate with cool but pleasant days during the winter.  However this winter, we have had a lot of cold days, but today’s the first that it has snowed in Kuwait!  Apparently, it’s the first time that the country has EVER received snow!

**I should probably clarify, we didn’t actually see it, because it snowed in the desert, outside of the city.

Here are a few pics that were shared on our favorite blog in Kuwait, www.248am.com:

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Photo courtesy of: http://www.248am.com

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Photo courtesy of: http://www.248am.com

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Photo courtesy of: http://www.248am.com

The snow was reported in the southwest corner of Kuwait, in an area called Al Salmi, near the Kuwait-Saudi Arabian border.

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Map courtesy of Google.com

We didn’t get snow here in the city, but brrrrrrrr was it cold out today!  When I checked the temperature at mid-day, it was 48 degrees Fahrenheit (8 degrees Celsius) with a windchill of 41 degrees Fahrenheit (5 degrees Celsius)!

Hopefully Spring, and the perfect temperatures that come with it, are just around the corner!  But not the summer temperatures, because those are just too freaking hot!

We’re Baaaaaaack!

Greetings Friends, Family, Followers, and Visitors!

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It’s been 3 months since we’ve blogged, and we have so much to catch up on!  The last time we posted, we had a 2 week old newborn son, Rachel was on maternity leave, and I was home on paternity leave.  Fast forward to now . . . . . . Hayden is 3.5 months old, Rachel is back to work, I’ve started a new job, and we have some exciting family news to share!!! (more on that later!)

We gave up blogging for awhile to focus on spending as much time as possible as a family.   We knew that we wanted to devote all of our free time to caring for Hayden, (and taking naps!) but now we’ve slowly developed a routine, and have a bit more free time to post every once in awhile.

Previously, we tried posting 3 times a week, however our new goal is now twice a week.  Next Monday, our weekly Happy Hour posts return (woohoo!) and we’re going to try and do one other post each week . . . . . . inshalla!

We loved receiving all of the emails asking, “where are you guys, is everything ok?”  We are totally fantastic, and life is incredibly awesome right now!  We have a beautiful-happy-healthy-smiley son, we just returned from a 23 day vacation in Thailand, and have another incredible/exciting opportunity heading our way in August!

Well everyone, we’re here . . . . . . . . . . . . . we’re baaaaaaack!