Family

Tangerine Picking

You can’t drive more than 10 second in any direction on this island without seeing a plot of land with trees tucked close together bursting with tangerines.  Last weekend we took our little family of three and headed off to a farm that we get our vegetable coop box from and picked tangerines.

img_0221img_0264img_0265It was a beautiful fall afternoon, that felt so much like a fall afternoon in Minnesota at the apple orchards.  I felt pretty lucky to have these two guys as my dates…img_0233img_0298

Hayden ate his weight in tangerines and we did our best to stop him from eating the unpeeled fruit, unfortunately we failed.

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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.

 

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.

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!

Welcome Baby Hayden!

On October 5, 2015, Rachel and I welcomed our new son, Hayden William to the world! We couldn’t be more excited and in love with the little guy!

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Our first family photo!

Like all parents, we think our baby is absolutely perfect!  We’ve been showering him with love, and giving him as many snuggles and kisses as possible.  Here are a few pictures from the last couple of days:

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Isn’t he perfect!

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He loves snuggling with his mom.

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And watching football with his dad!

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Everyone loves picture of babies yawning!

Obviously we are going to continue blogging, but we might not be able to post as often as we used to.

 

 

Doctoring in Kuwait

This summer when we were home, we had lots of questions about our life in Kuwait, and Mitch addressed answering quite a few of them back here in this post. One question that came up quite a bit while we were home was, “what is the medical care like in Kuwait?”   I thought I would take a few minutes to dig a bit deeper into that topic and discuss what my doctoring experience has been like through my pregnancy here in Kuwait.

Kuwait has a socialized medical program, meaning that all citizens and residents of Kuwait have health insurance coverage at the government run hospitals.  These hospitals leave quite a bit to be desired in terms of facilities.  The hospitals are a bit older, the waits are long, and the doctors seem completely swamped with patients.  The government hospitals make American hospitals seem like a vacation at a Sandals Resort.

Our school however also provides us with private health insurance, meaning that we can go to the government hospitals, but we are also covered to go to private hospitals.  Thus, we decided to attend the Royale Hayat to complete my pre-natal care and the delivery of our baby. The Royale Hayat  is the complete opposite of any government hospital.  The Royale Hayat is truly a luxury hospital like nothing I have ever seen!

When we walk into the front door of the hospital lobby, there is always a woman who welcomes us with calm music that she is playing on either a harp or a flute.  There is always at least 6 bell boys by the entrance opening the car doors of patients, as the valet drivers whisk away the car to the parking ramp.  There are always a few more standing in the reception area waiting to carry any bags for us, as another woman stands next to the elevator ready to push the elevator button for us.  The Royale Hayat is more luxurious than any hotel I have ever walked into and truly seems nothing like a hospital.  The facilities and customer service are simply spectacular!

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Main Lobby of the hospital.

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Bell Boy carts just waiting for the day when we show up with our luggage.

Not only are the facilities great but our doctor is great as well.  We chose a doctor based on some very glowing recommendations from friends who had given birth at the Royale Hayat.  Our doctor is a Kuwaiti woman who was medically trained in the United States, and is both U.S. and Canadian Board Certified.  She is thorough, efficient, and doesn’t sugar coat anything.  She answers all of my questions and quiets my worried first time Mommy brain.  She has earned my trust and I have full confidence that she is going to do everything in her power to help me have the delivery experience that I am hoping for.

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Even the ambulances are luxurious, a Mercedes!

We did do some doctoring when we were home this summer, and I noticed a few distinct differences in doctoring in Kuwait vs doctoring in Minnesota:

  •  In Kuwait we have an ultrasound at every appointment we walk into.  We became very used to seeing our little guy on a regular basis! The doctor measures the baby’s head, checks in on his organs, monitors his heartbeat, and takes a good, long, hard look at our little one.  When we went to doctor appointments in the U.S. the doctor measured my belly with a tape measure, and listened to his heart beat.  Needless to say, it felt quite a bit less exciting to go to our American appointments without an ultrasound each time!
  • In Kuwait, it is quite uncommon to see Dad’s going to doctor appointments with the Mom’s to be.  Often times Mitch and I are sitting in the waiting room where he is the only father present, with a dozen pregnant women sitting around waiting for the doctor.  I have to make a special request at each appointment for Mitch to be allowed to come back into the exam room with me.  In the U.S.  we saw numerous Dad’s at the appointments.
  • In Kuwait our doctor is a conservative, covered, Muslim woman.  She almost always speaks exclusively to me.  She does not engage in conversation with Mitch unless it is completely necessary.  If he has a question, I am kind of like the translator between him and the doctor.  In our experiences, it is quite rare for a Muslim person to engage in conversation with someone of the opposite sex, unless they are a member of their family or it’s necessary for doing business.  At our doctor’s appointments in the U.S. the doctor got Mitch very involved during the appointment.  She would call him over to the exam table and have him feel the position that the baby was in, and even taught him a few things he can do to help relieve any back pain I would experience.
  • In Kuwait, we pay nothing for our medical coverage or medications.  In the U.S. we had to pay for everything, our international health insurance plan only covers  emergency care when we are back in the United States, however; even if I was still living and working in the U.S.  I would have had a co-pay at each visit, plus be paying 20% out of pocket to have a baby.

Woah…if you have made it this far in this lengthly post pat yourself on the back.  If you still have questions about our doctoring experience, we also received these questions last summer:

Are you scared to have a baby in Kuwait? 

Ummm, yes!  But not for the reason you are thinking.  I am completely confident in having our child in Kuwait.  I trust our doctor and all of the other medical personnel, but having a baby when I have never done this before is scary, and I would be scared if I was giving birth in the United States, Bangledesh, Noway, Kenya, Japan or Kuwait.

Was your pregnancy planned?

This was quite a personal question that we received more times than I felt comfortable with, but I will answer it.  Mitch and I have always known we wanted to be parents.  We did however feel like we had to arrive in Kuwait and see what the medical care was like prior to making the decision that we were going to try and have a baby.  Once we got to Kuwait, we realized that I would have significantly better maternity leave here in Kuwait, than I would in the U.S. When we realized that the medical care is fantastic, we knew it was the perfect time to start our family. So yes, it was a planned pregnancy.

You are so brave! Aren’t you scared your baby is going to die because you are having him in the Middle East?

Seriously, who asks this question of a pregnant lady???  I sure hope not!   Also, I would like to point out that Jesus was born in the Middle East and he turned out to be a pretty decent guy!  😉

Only a couple of weeks left until we get to lay our hands on our little guy for the first time.  We are beyond excited and happy that our medical experience during this pregnancy has been so wonderful!

FAQ’s of the Summer

When we were back in the United States this summer, we had a great time hanging out with friends and family!  We were able to reconnect with a lot of people and do a lot of catching up.  People were excited to hear about our experiences in Kuwait and to learn more about our lifestyle overseas.  Interestingly, most people asked many of the same questions.  Thus, I decided to compile a list of what I’m calling, “FAQ’s of  the Summer!”

Is Kuwait safe?

Yes, yes, yes, and yes!  Kuwait is a very safe country, and I can honestly say that I have never felt unsafe at any time since we have been here.  The people here are fabulous, kind, genuine, and sincere.  We’ve met some incredible people who have been so welcoming to us.  Before we moved to Kuwait last year, I made a promise to Rachel.  I told her that if either of us ever felt unsafe, we would immediately board a plane, and leave the country.  I reassured her that we are always only one flight away from leaving.

Are you going to have Baby J in Kuwait?

Yes, we are having the baby in Kuwait!  Believe it or not, nearly 350,000 babies are born every day, all over the world, and only a small fraction of them are born in the United States.  Babies are born in the jungles of South America, in the deserts of Africa, and the 5 star luxury hospital we go to in Kuwait.  Our doctor is fabulous, the hospital is excellent, and the care we receive there is top notch. Neither of us have any reservations about having our baby here.

Is Baby J going to be an American even though he is going to be born in Kuwait?

Yes, he will be an American and will have an American passport.  The United States is the ONLY country in the world, that gives birthright citizenship. (Meaning that if you are born in the U.S. you automatically become a citizen).  Baby J is just going to have a cool birth certificate in life that is called a “Birth Abroad Certificate” indicating that he was born abroad, but still has citizenship in the United States.

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When are you going to move back to the United States?

Right now we have no plans on returning to the United States.  We are currently in the second year of our two year contract in Kuwait.  At the end of the year we can decide to resign another contract here, move to another country, or return to America.

What is your favorite country that you guys have traveled to last year?

Mitch: For me, it was definitely the Maldives! It was such a beautiful and magical place with the best beaches I’ve ever seen!  The white sand beaches and the crystal clear water were awesome, and it was such a relaxing place. I highly recommend it!

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Rachel: Sri Lanka, I loved the option of being at the beach or in the jungle in such close proximity, and learning more about the people who survived the Tsunami 10 years ago was completely humbling.

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Where are you guys going to travel to this year?

So far, we only have two trips planned.  For our Holiday Break over Christmas & New Year’s, we are heading to Thailand!  We have a nice long winter break so we are looking forward to spending some time at the beaches.  My family is also planning on going to Thailand, so it will be fun to meet up with them and spend time together over the holidays.

The other trip that we have planned this year is to Oman.  We have a friend who has been living there for about 7 years, so we are excited to go visit him and his family, as well as see the beautiful countryside that Oman has to offer.  From what we hear, outdoor enthusiast’s dream location with all of the beautiful mountains and beaches.

We also have a week off for Spring Break, however we haven’t decided yet where we want to go.

 

This is a brief recap of some of the common questions we received over the summer.  Perhaps some of our readers also had similar questions, and if so, hopefully this provides a bit of insight for you.

 

Baby J a Boy or Girl?

Disclaimer:  This post contains inappropriate words like penis, vagina, sex, crotch, and genitalia.  It also has a few funny pictures that some people might think are offensive!  If you are my grandma, someone who is easily offended, or someone who doesn’t enjoy humor, please don’t read this post.  You will hate it and it will probably ruin your day!

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As soon as we found out that Rachel was pregnant, and that we were having a baby, we knew that we wanted to find out the sex.  Neither of us are big fans of surprises, and we are both planful people.  We anxiously waited for the baby to develop it’s genitalia so we could find out!

At our doctor’s appointment last weekend, we knew we had a good chance to see if there was anything growing between the legs, depending if the baby would cooperate.  About a minute into the ultrasound the doctor said, “whoop, there it is!”  We were so excited that the wait was over!

We decided to have a little Gender Reveal Party to find out the sex.  We invited a few friends over to share the excitement with us and to have some ice cream sundaes.  To reveal the gender, we ordered this huge balloon and had it stuffed with the appropriate colored confetti (blue for boy or pink for girl).

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Before we popped the balloon though, we decided to have a vote to see what our friends thought it was going to be.  Rather than doing something lame like writing it on a piece of paper, we decided to have some fun with it.  We decided that in order to cast your vote you had to make a headband, and draw the genitalia of the sex that you thought it was going to be.  It was a ton of fun (even though it was a bit inappropriate) to see what people came up with.  Here are a couple of pics of some of the artwork that people were proudly displaying:

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Allison wanted to draw a vagina but got scared, so she drew a penis because it was a lot simpler to do.  Jooles also voted for a girl, but opted against the crotch region and went top shelf.

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Our buddy Ethan went all out on his drawings. A for effort bud!

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Adam should win an award for his artwork, and perhaps another award for the amount of confidence he is displaying while wearing a penis on his forehead!

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Once the votes were cast and the ice cream was gone, it was time for the big reveal!  We each grabbed a steak knife from the kitchen and began the countdown:

3 . . . . .

2 . . . . .

1 . . . . .

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POP!!!!!!!!!

 

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Yes, ladies and gentleman . . . . . . . . . Baby J is a BOY!!!!!!!

Now we can comfortably refer to our child with the proper pronouns like: him, his, he, and himself.  It really didn’t matter to us if we were having a boy or girl, as long as they are healthy.  We feel a sense of relief since finding out the sex, because now we can eliminate half of the names in the world, as we begin to narrow our search for the ‘perfect’ name.

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A couple of weeks ago I heard a funny quote from a friend of ours:  “If you have a baby boy, you only have to worry about one penis.  However, if you have a baby girl you have to worry about all of the penises in the whole wide world.”

Now we are just continuing to keep our fingers crossed for a healthy baby and a smooth pregnancy for Rachel!

Say What’s Up on WhatsApp!

Like many people around the world . . . . . I would be lost without my iPhone!  It goes with me everywhere!  To work, out to dinner, for a walk down the beach, and even into the bathroom. (admit it people, we all do it!!!)

I like the iPhone, because it is literally like a Swiss Army Knife.  It has so many tools, that I use all of the time.  It is especially helpful when you move to a new country like Kuwait, because you find yourself using it for much more than just making phone calls and sending text messages.  I find myself using it for things like capturing pictures of something crazy I see on the side of the road, or converting the price of an object from Kuwaiti Dinar to American Dollars, calling our family back home on FaceTime, converting the daily temperature from Celsius to Fahrenheit, and even using the GPS on the map app to find your way around.

However my favorite thing about my iPhone is the app called WhatsApp! It is an app that allows you to send text messages to anyone around the world for free!  You can use it if you are connected to wifi or off your data plan.  You can send pictures, send group messages, and now you can even send voice recorded messages.

It is free to download, and you can find it in the App Store.  Just search “WhatsApp Messenger.”  Here’s what the icon looks like:

 

Once you have it downloaded, your contact list is based off of the contacts you already have in your phone. You just have to add the Country Code to it. Here is the list of International Country Codes.  In the U.S. it is +1 and in Kuwait it is +965.

Download it today and send us an email at themightaswellers@gmail.com and we will send you our Kuwaiti cell phone numbers.  Then we will be able to send text messages back and forth for free!  I figure it is probably best if you email us, rather than posting our phone numbers on here for the entire world to see!

The only downside to WhatsApp is that you have to be sure to put your phone on silent every night.  Otherwise when your buddies are watching the big football game in the U.S. and start trash talking you over text messages, it doesn’t wake you up at 3am because of the time change!

Don’t forget . . . .  send us an email at themightaswellers@gmail.com so we can connect on WhatsApp!

Christmas 2014 in Sri Lanka

We spent Christmas 2014 in the small surf town of Mirissa, on the southern coast of Sri Lanka.  We knew it could be tough emotionally being without our families on Christmas, so we made sure we booked a nice resort on the beach to spend our holiday.  Unfortunately though, it rained for 2 straight days leading up to Christmas, and all day on Christmas Day!

We started our day by calling our families back home on FaceTime.  However with the thunderstorms in the area, our internet connection was pretty spotty.  We were at least able to reach them, and wish them a quick holiday greeting before we lost connection.

Although we couldn’t spend the holiday relaxing on the beach because of the weather, we decided to make the most of our day anyway. We headed to the beach and found a couple of nice little bar/restaurants where we got comfy.  We had a couple of drinks, played some cards, had lunch, and just kind of chilled out for the day.

This was our Christmas tree this year:

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Our 2014 Christmas Tree!

We didn’t set up a tree at home this year, so we decided to adopt this tree we found along the beach in Mirissa.  One of the bars set it up, and even decorated it with ornaments, garland, and Christmas lights!

At one of the bars we stopped at, we found this very festive family.  We decided next year that we are going to pack Santa hats and wear them next year on Christmas Day! . . . . . . . NOT!

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Sweet hats eh?

Perhaps the toughest part of the day, was when we learned of the passing of Rachel’s Uncle Walter.  It definitely made being away from family on the holidays a bit tougher.  We knew that when we decided to move overseas, things like this could happen. However it didn’t make it any easier when we heard the news.  We did the only thing we could, we raised our glasses and cheersed to the great life he had.

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Throughout the day it continued to downpour.  In the early evening, we finally said, “screw it!”  We changed our clothes and headed straight for the ocean. The water was actually warmer than the rain, and we had a ton of fun swimming in the downpour rain and massive waves!

The following day, the sun came back out, and shined down on us for the next two weeks of our holiday. I think it was Uncle Walter’s first act of kindness in heaven!