holidays

Thanksgiving 

We celebrated Thansgiving this week in our new home surrounded by a group of our new friends. As I sat around my table in South Korea eating my apple crisp I reflected on the community of people that surrounded me.  Around our table sat friends from the United States, Canada, New Zealand, Korea, and the Dominican Republic. The children who were playing together were born in Hong Kong, Thailand, New Zealand, Kuwait, and the United States.

We are so much to be thankful for including the people from all these different corners of the world that have come into our lives.

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Mitch’s Monday Happy Hour – October 19

After a brief break from our weekly Happy Hour posts, I am back!  It was tough to come up with a list of topics for this week, because basically all we have done is cuddled our new son Hayden.  Today he is officially two weeks old, and still perfect (in our eyes)!

Hayden is 2 Weeks Old Today!

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Some of my favorite pictures of Hayden thus far.

  • We’ve been adjusting to life as parents, and couldn’t possibly love it more!  We feel so blessed to have such a happy & healthy little boy, who brings so much joy to our lives.  Sure, sometimes changing poopy diapers at 3am isn’t much fun, but when he snuggles in and falls asleep in your arms, it makes it all worth it!  He eats, he sleeps, and he poops, so he is a perfect newborn baby!

Our New Sleep Schedule

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All snuggled in!

  • As all new parents know, living with a newborn baby leads to many sleepless nights.  The first couple of nights we would just stare at him while he slept, periodically checking his pulse to make sure he was still alive.  The night before my birthday he gave me the best present ever, he slept for 7 hours straight!  We didn’t sleep for 7 hours straight that night though, we were still up every half an hour checking his pulse.  Since then he’s been a little rock star when it comes to sleeping!  He loves his crib and must have inherited his love for sleep from his mother.

Maternity & Paternity Leave

  • We are pretty fortunate that our lives in Kuwait provide us with time off to spend at home with Hayden.  By Kuwaiti law, Rachel is able to  take 70 days off of work, with full pay!  Her maternity leave will run until December, when we get another 3 weeks off of work, so technically she is off until after our holiday break in January!  Kuwait doesn’t have a law granting fathers any paternity time, however my position is very flexible and my employer has been supportive of my desire to stay home and help care for Rachel and Hayden.

Now That We Have A Baby, Is It Time For A Minivan?

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Durango looking all tough with the jack on the back . . . .

  • When guys find out their wives are pregnant, one of the first things that goes through their mind is, “oh crap, we better not be buying a minivan, because I refuse to drive one!”  Well, we aren’t buying a minivan (yet) but our Durango did lose a bit of its masculinity today and is one step closer to looking like a minivan.  Today I decided to take the big ass jack off the back!  The jack is so heavy on the backdoor, that someone has to hold it open to load the stroller in.  When you are trying to load a baby, bags, a stroller, a wife, and everything else, there was just too much going on to have two adults load a stroller. So, I swallowed my man pride and took it off.
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No more jack . . . .

Canadian Thanksgiving

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Thanks to our friends at www.thepearlcurriculum.blogspot.ae for organizing the potluck, and for this great photo.

  • Last Monday was Thanksgiving in Canada.  We have a lot of awesome friends here from Canada, so we were invited to celebrate with them at a potluck dinner!  There was about 30 people there, and it was so nice getting everyone together and giving thanks for such great friends.  On Thursday, November 26th, we’ll celebrate the “real” thanksgiving with our American friends! 🙂

Hilton Resort Walking Paths

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2 weeks old, and has already been to the ocean multiple times.

  • One of the reasons we got a membership at the Hilton Resort this year, was because of their awesome paved walking paths throughout the property.  We were excited that we could spend all winter outside going for family walks and getting Hayden outdoors.  We’ve been a couple of times already since he’s been born, and we just love it!  One loop is about 3-4 kilometers, so its the perfect distance for a short walk, or you can do the loop multiple times for a decent one.

Egypt Through the Eyes of Mitch’s iPhone

The other day I was going through the pictures on my iPhone, reminiscing about the memories of the last few months, when I realized . . . . . I have some pretty crazy photos on here that people would like to see!  So here are a few from our trip to Egypt last February:

  • The main reason we decided to travel to Egypt was to see the Pyramids.  For some reason I assumed that they would be located out in the middle of the desert, but boy was I wrong!  The city of Cairo/Giza is basically built right around them.  I was surprised when we were driving down the road to check-in to our hotel, and BOOM . . . . there were the Pyramids!
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  • We even had a view of the Pyramids from the pool at our hotel!
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  • Cairo isn’t one of the nicest/cleanest cities we’ve ever been to.  Here is a view of one of the freeways in the city.  *Notice the garbage along the center median and the amount of sand along the emergency lane.
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  • One of my favorite things to do when we travel is to buy food from street vendors.  In Cairo you could find just about any type of fruit or vegetable being sold alongside any street.  We bought some of these bananas from a guy on a bicycle and they were DELICIOUS!
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  • Cairo isn’t a very rich city, so one of my favorite things to see were the different types of transportation.  Here I was able to snap a picture of a tuk tuk (like we saw in Sri Lanka) and also a donkey pulling a wagon down the street.
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  • This guy was nearly breaking the speed limit with his 2 donkeys!
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  • We also saw horses pulling wagons.  This one was right in the middle of the city, with tons of speeding cars going by.  The engine size for this wagon is 1-horsepower (insert charity laugh here, for my lame joke!)
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  • When you did see a vehicle, chances were that it was overloaded with either goods (or even people).  By looking at this picture, I would assume that this little truck is slightly overweight . . . .
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  • Even when the trucks got bigger, they still seem to find a way to overload them!
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  • One day my buddy Adam and I ventured out to the desert to visit some secluded ruins.  I love this picture, with the lush palm trees going right in the middle of nowhere.
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  • Inside one of the ruins we found these awesome hieroglyphics.  They were so precise with such outstanding detail.
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  • It’s kind of hard to see in this photo, but it is a zoomed out view of the hieroglyphics in the previous picture!  The walls of the ruins were completely covered in them!  Every single image was as precise as the one next to it.  It was incredible to view such large areas of them, it must have taken them years to accomplish!
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  • We also saw lots of graphics like this one.  This one was about 6 feet tall, and right outside the exterior door of one of the ruins.
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Sometimes I wish I had our big fancy camera along to capture high quality images, however sometimes the images you are able to capture in a moment’s notice with your iPhone, are just as special and memorable.

 

 

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!

Mitch’s Monday Happy Hour – January 5

Greetings everyone, and Happy New Year!  Welcome back to our weekly Happy Hour.  I apologize to everyone for missing last week’s Happy Hour (Sorry Mrs. P!) but as the great Zac Brown Band once said, “I had my toes in the water, ass in the sand, not a worry in the world, and a cold beer in hand!”  (if you don’t know the song, check it out here) But I’m back now!

We made it home to Kuwait on Saturday, so this week’s Happy Hour is taking place in the confines of our living room while sipping on water! (boooo, no more booze!)  I’m still bummed that we can’t have booze in Kuwait, however I can still hear my liver cheering as he slowly recovers from my 17 day bender while on vacation.  Here’s the recap of our lives:

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My first taste of water in 17 days, trying to cleanse my body from all of the beer and rum in my system.

  • Our vacation was absolutely fantastic!  We had a ton of fun exploring around Sri Lanka and enjoying some chill days at the beach too.  It was the longest vacation I had ever been on, yet it was still difficult to come home.  We were having so much fun, that I just didn’t want it to end.  We made it back late Saturday night, and had the day off on Sunday to start the long process of laundry, unpacking, grocery shopping, and all of that other fun stuff!  We have so many awesome pictures and stories to share with everyone, so we are going to try to post some over the next couple of weeks.
  • When I woke up on Sunday morning, I headed straight to the kitchen in search of some food for breakfast. Unfortunately all I could find though was chips & salsa, a box of teddy grahams, and a bag of croutons.  I contemplated throwing together a quick hot dish, when our good friend sent us a text message and invited us over for breakfast!  I was so pumped that I practically sprinted to her house, and was greeted with scrambled eggs, breakfast potatoes, coffee and juice.  It was so good, however the best part was the company! We were once again reunited with our friends, and couldn’t wait to hear about everyone’s trips.  There were 7 of us total, who had just returned from our vacations to Sri Lanka, Japan, Morocco, Thailand, Maldives, and Minnesota!  It was a blast hearing about everyone’s travel experiences and reconnecting with our “Kuwaiti family!”
  • Upon our return to Kuwait, it was a bit like Christmas morning for Rachel.  One of our buddies who went home for the holidays, brought all kinds of stuff back for her.  She has been cruising Amazon & Target.com the last couple of months, buying a bunch of hair products that she can’t find here.  She had them shipped to his house, and he was so kind to toss them in his luggage and bring them back for her.  You know you’re getting old when you get excited for shampoo, conditioner, and hair spray for Christmas!
  • During breakfast today I was cruising through the news feed on my Facebook page, when I read some awesome news.  One of my former employees, who worked during the summers for me for a few years, posted that he was leaving Minnesota this week and moving to Spain for the next 5 months. I think my face literally lit up, I fist pumped a few times, and felt a small sense of pride.  Last summer when I informed my job that I was leaving and moving overseas, he was super intrigued about the idea and mentioned that he had a desire to maybe try something like that one day. I tried to encourage him as much possible, but lost contact with him until I saw his Facebook post. I know he reads our blog, so when you see this bud, I’m proud of you!  Your upcoming adventure is something you will never regret, and cherish for the rest of your life!

Cheers for now, we’ll catch ya next week!

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year from the beautiful beaches of the Maldives!

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The last few days here have been fantastic, as we wrap up our amazing 2.5 week Christmas break vacation!  We will be back in Kuwait in a few days, and will share our stories and pictures from the trip.  As we ring in the New Year, here is our view, as we contemplate our resolutions.

IMG_5371This view sure does make it easy to bump “travel more” to the top of the resolution list.

Sri Lanka & The Maldives

As I am writing this post we are leaving in 10 hours with a couple of super awesome friends, and headed to Colombo, Sri Lanka.  After we spend 12 days in Sri Lanka we will hop on another plane and head down to the Maldives. Pinch me, I am pretty sure I am dreaming! When we decided to move to the Middle East I immediately started looking up plane tickets from Kuwait City to anywhere I could think of that would be within an 8 hour plane ride. Before we even left the states I made a list of my dream travel destinations and both Sri Lanka and the Maldives made that list.  Once we arrived in Kuwait and started talking to returning teachers, who have traveled a ton, we kept hearing how awesome Sri Lanka was.  So the deal was sealed and the plane tickets were purchased.  Since we were going to be so close to the Maldives we decided to add that on to our trip as well. Sri Lanka is an island off the southeast corner of India. sri lanka 1 Our plan when we get to Sri Lanka is relax on the beach, check out some temples, and head to a national park where we hope to spot elephants and leopards while out on safari.  If those three goals are achieved I will leave Sri Lanka a very happy lady. After our Sri Lankan adventure we will head 470 miles away to the Maldives which is a conglomeration of 1,190 islands in the middle of the Indian Ocean. Maldives 1The Maldives basis for tourism is the fact that they are made up of some pretty spectacular islands.  The Maldives is a water destination.  The plans are to swim, snorkel, and maybe head out on a submarine.  So many activities of the Maldives are based around water because so much of the islands are literally a small step away from the water.  The Maldives is the lowest country in the world, with the highest point being below eight feet over sea level.  maldives 2 So there you have it, the plans on our first overseas Christmas.  The only thing that is helping my homesickness over not being with our family for the holidays is knowing we get to go and explore these destinations, that weren’t even in the realm of possibility in our old life style. I am so grateful for a supportive spouse, awesome friends to travel with, a family that understands our love for exploring, and FaceTime!

Mitch’s Monday Happy Hour – December 15

If we were gathering for Happy Hour this week, we would be gathering at my favorite bar in Minnesota . . . . The Corner Bar in Bemidji!  I’d order a big juicy cheeseburger with fried onions and side of cheese balls. (one time I went to the Corner Bar and ordered my favorite “bar burger” twice in one day, for lunch & dinner!)  To drink, we’d have a big ass pitcher of Labatt Blue in honor of all of our Canadian followers! (Hello Mrs. Sanford!) It’s been another great week here in the desert.

The winter temperatures have settled in (75 degrees everyday) as the countdown to Christmas has officially begun! We have one more week of work, before our Winter Break, and our two and a half week vacation to Sri Lanka & the Maldives.  The date tells us that Christmas is coming, however it feels like September around here. Occasionally we will see some Christmas lights on a house or holiday decorations at a store, but it definitely doesn’t feel like Christmas is only a couple of weeks away.

  • Last weekend was jam packed with Holiday parties!  On Thursday night we hung out with some friends here in our apartment building.  They threw an awesome party, and it felt so festive. They had a super nice Christmas tree, ugly sweaters, and even egg nog!  On Friday night, we had our school Holiday party where about 150 of us gathered for a fun evening.  It was an outdoor party, with a social hour, dinner, and dancing.  They catered-in dinner from our favorite Lebanese restaurant, and it was soooo good! It was a great way to get everyone together from all of the different schools in our school system to celebrate the holidays and see everyone before they depart on their vacations.  The last holiday party we had was on Saturday afternoon, and was hosted by one of my fellow umpires from the Little League Baseball program that I’ve been working with.  It was fun to spend the afternoon outside, standing around a charcoal grill with some big slabs of meat working towards perfection.  It was a crazy busy weekend running around to all of the parties, but it sure makes us thankful for all the friends we have made here, and it was great to celebrate the holidays with them!
  • This weekend, I also officiated my first high school basketball game.  The boys varsity team at our school had a scrimmage game, and the head coach asked if I would ref the game.  It was great to be back on the court again, and I had a ton of fun. I was hoping to get involved during the regular season too, however it sounds like it’s going to be nearly impossible for me to get involved with the local association. I still had a great time, and told the coach that I’m always open to ref if they need someone.

Cheers, Mitch