Wednesday, November 11, 2015
Friday, September 4, 2015
Tuesday, August 18, 2015
Monday, August 17, 2015
Sunday, June 21, 2015
Saturday, June 13, 2015
Tuesday, June 9, 2015
Thursday, May 28, 2015
Tuesday, May 26, 2015
Tuesday, May 19, 2015
Monday, May 18, 2015
Sunday, May 17, 2015
Friday, May 15, 2015
Saturday, May 9, 2015
Friday, May 8, 2015
Thursday, May 7, 2015
Wednesday, May 6, 2015
Tuesday, May 5, 2015
Monday, May 4, 2015
Wednesday, April 29, 2015
Wednesday, April 22, 2015
Tuesday, April 21, 2015
Wednesday, April 15, 2015
Sunday, April 12, 2015
Thursday, April 9, 2015
Tuesday, April 7, 2015
Madison: Jacob and I high-fived with our tongues before.
Dad: You and Jacob high-fived with your tongues?
Dad: That is sort of like kissing your brother.
Ben: Yeah, only a lot grosser.
Madison: Its like licking a lollipop stuck to your brother.
Ben: How did it taste?
Madison: It didn't taste like a lollipop for sure.
We had a difficult time to stopping laughing after this one.
Wednesday was announced that ExxonMobil will relocate all children out of Saudi Arabia. Many of you have been aware that we have been locked down in our compound more than we ever dreamed. It’s been on and off since September. In December/January we were down for 5 weeks – our friends were for 48 hours. This time we locked down again first of March and basically understand that we will not be released again. We will just move.
You should know that corporate made this decision based heavily on events in 2004 when they were not fully prepared. There was an event then and they had to evacuate everyone in hours. They are the only company planning this move right now. All our friends and neighbors thus far are staying and we are lead to believe there is no discussion of leaving at all right now though no other company is locked down like we are.
Men and wives are able to stay because our housing compound is very secure, we travel in armored vehicles with GPS tracking at all times and the plant where the men work is secure. The issue is the school location.
All families with children will return to their home countries and we have now confirmed that we will be heading to Houston. The company would like us to go immediately but will allow us to stay together here as a family until June at the latest. We do not feel at risk in any way at home. We will see what the school has to offer to support our kids for completion of their current grades in school with me as the teacher. I am looking at home school programs. We cannot buy a house fast enough to enroll the kids before the last couple days of the year in Houston because they end the year in May.
Don’t worry. We are being watched over by Exxon and from above. We have been stretched spiritually here in ways we have never known and learned to trust the Lord and it has been a great experience. We love Saudi!
We will let you know when we know any more information.
Sunday, March 29, 2015
Wednesday, March 25, 2015
Monday, March 23, 2015
Wednesday, March 18, 2015
Monday, March 16, 2015
Tuesday, March 10, 2015
Thursday, March 5, 2015
Sunday, March 1, 2015
Wednesday, February 18, 2015
Friday, February 13, 2015
Sunday, February 1, 2015
- First you review all your medical receipts and add your own hand written notes about what things were for and why you saw a doctor and try your best to make their illegible chicken scratches on the junkie receipt understandable. Sometimes you have to write the ENTIRE receipt in besides the final cost and the name of the clinic because that's all they bothered to put on the paper. Oh yeah, and make sure it's all in English please.
- Then you scan everything into the computer.
- Email the receipt, a claim form and a bank deposit slip to your claim address and be grateful you no longer have to make photocopies of everything to use snail mail.
- Congrats! You just filed the claim. But....it's still in a foreign currency.
- Now the company will input your claim into their magic computers. They line item everything.
- They convert to USD and DON"T show what it used to be in foreign currency - you must do that yourself for every single item.
- Then they pay some parts of the claim straight away and deny others and ask for still more information on on others.
- Next they process three different claims for three different people in the family. They choose to pay some of those line items for each individual - but not all.
- The company then issues an explanation of benefits and mail it to us.
- Three to six weeks later we receive the paper form in the mail telling me what was paid and what I need to respond with more information - within 30 days of course. So I'm already late.
- While you were waiting for the explanation of benefits to see which things you must fight they issue a check for three random, unrelated medical expenses within those claims. You know, like child #1 cavity filling but not the doctor consultation, #3 child doctor consultation but not burning off the wart and #4 child pediatric MMR immunization but not chicken pox because it goes by a different name in your country of residence so they missed that they should have covered it in full.
- The check is magically sent to your US bank and deposited. Thank the Lord again they don't send you paper checks overseas to wait 2-6 weeks to arrive and 2-4 weeks to go back to the USA for deposit.
- Now you see on your bank statement a wild number of smallish deposits. You realize that not a single one of those checks has any information about what was paid for with those funds. Now the REAL fun begins.
- Take each line itemed expense and try to match it to your original receipts in a foreign currency. It pays to be good at currency conversion in your head.
- Realize you'll never figure it out anyway.
- Go eat a cookie or two before your driver comes to pick you up to go pick up the kids from school.
Wednesday, January 28, 2015
It got me thinking of how my kids reality is so different that my own as a child and I made a list of what I see in them as it compares to me in my school days.
You Know You Are an International School Kid If:
Someone in your class is always jet lagged.
If there is a three day weekend many of your classmates go explore a nearby country with their families.
It is a common occurrence for a classmate to miss 2 weeks of school to go on holiday with their family. Teachers actually expect it to happen.
Going to the embassy or consulate to sort out your passport and visa issues is as common a reason to miss class as a doctor or dentist appointment.
You talk to non-international school kids and realize just how awesome the stuff you did at school your international school really was.
Playing volleyball/soccer/baseball/swimming against another high school may involve passports, visas, hotel, chaperones, an entire weekend and a plane ticket.
Your class is like a meeting of the United Nations with at least 13 countries represented in every class of 22 students.
Your best friends native tongue isn't your native tongue.
You celebrate holidays and traditions you adopted from countries you have lived in across the globe even though they aren't your heritage culture.
International Day celebrations are amazing with the food and the costumes everyone has to show off.
Lots of the food at Internatioal Day was actually cooked by the live in house maid.
Your friends parents are seriously important people, either in business or government. But you'd never know they were important people because they get grounded just like you.
Being the new kid in school is hard but you know that a minimum of 25 % of the entire school is also new this year so your not alone.
On the first day of school you find out how many kids made it into the country and how many are "waiting for visas still but will join us within a week or two".
Ten percent (or more) of the student body misses the first day of school because the kids or parents were too jet lagged to get up that morning since they only landed in the country in the last 16 hours anyway.
You don't stay in your "home" over the summer because the entire expat community vacates for two months. Everyone goes "home" to somewhere else and it's all over the globe.
Lunch time in the cafeteria can really tell a lot about where your friends are from because of what their mom (or maid) packs in the lunchbox.
Kids you play with have maids, drivers, cleaners and gardeners. Enough that they actually refer to them as the "house staff."
It's hard for you to answer the question, "Where are you from?" You want to clarify before you answer the question by asking in return: Do you mean where do I live now? What is my passport country? Where did I spend most of my growing up time and therefore identify with that place? Or where were my parents living when I was actually born?
You have to practice fire drills like everyone else but you also practice and discuss, in age appropriate ways, what to do if there is a terrorist situation, bombing, etc at school.
You have had to add pages to your passport because it was full.
You get birthday wishes from across the globe for a few days before and a week or two after the actual day because time zones are complicated and people couldn't catch you at the right time of day thus extending the celebration and making you feel like a rock star for two solid weeks.
You run into friends from elementary/middle/high school while vacationing in other countries.
You meet people where you live now that knew your good friends from another country three moves ago when they were good friends with them.
When you move to a new location your parents start planning trips based on who they know that lives on the continent so you could visit old friends, some of whom you've never met.
Your five year old brother knows exactly what to do to get through airport security and immigration and asks before you leave the house for a trip if your parents have his passport.
You have opinions on what airlines are good airlines and have frequent flier miles on at least 4 different ones.
You think a 5 hour airline flight is fairly short.
You have opinions on McDonalds in different counties because you know they all taste different.
You know what meats are banned in certain countries so you can anticipate which McDonald's will serve hamburgers and where you can only get a chicken burger because the cow is holy but you also know which countries won't have bacon for the BLT because the pig is dirty.
When you see the Pizza Hut or KFC sign you feel a sense of relief because at least you will know what you are eating this time instead of the sketchy street food.
You catch yourself doing something in a new country that was illegal in the last country, like chewing gum in Singapore. You quickly ask your mom if you can actually do that here in Saudi Arabia.
When searching for a toy to buy with your own money you first query, "If I wait until we go home to America this summer how much would it cost me there instead?" Then you know if it's worth the cost to have it now or worth waiting.
The end of every school year means the loss of many close friends. Either they move or you do. It's a fact of life.
You had 5 or more stamps in your passport before you could even speak.
You probably won't learn to drive a car until you go to college because it isn't allowed and you won't be able to have a paying part time job in high school because you only have a dependent pass under your parent not a work pass in your country of residence.
When doing homework for the first time in a new country you have to ask your mom, "Do I write the date with month first then day or day first then month?" She doesn't always know the answer.
Your little brother hears your mom tell the store clerk she will pay for the groceries with a Visa (credit card) and interrupts her asking, "Do we need a visa to come to this store?" You are able to explain the confusion to him about Visa credit cards and visas that are granting permission to enter another country.
You collect coins of all the countries you have been to and get perturbed when a county uses the US Dollar so won't give you local change because your a foreigner or coins aren't used anymore and all you can get is paper bills. Now your collection is ruined because you have nothing from the country.
Your mobile phone has an app to tell you the time zone of each of your best friends and grandparents so you know who is awake when to plan your skyping.
Sunday, January 25, 2015
Sunday, January 11, 2015
At lunch with Ashlyn: “Here’s a cracker, Ashie.”
She takes it and turns it over and over. “Where’s the crack in it, mom?”
That’s what comes of letting her think they are called biscuits!
I am also beginning to think she is mourning the loss of Gina. Again. We haven’t left Saudi Arabia since we landed in August and she understands that Gina is a long, long airplane ride away. As we started to get closer to our winter break vacation we started talking about the trip to Switzerland more and more. And she started talking about Gina more and more and praying for her to come to our Saudi Arabia house. Poor girl was convinced that we were going to see Gina no matter what we told her we were going to do.
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Friday, January 2, 2015
We spent the entire day with the kids playing in the parking lot of the little hotel and the small hill across the street in a construction zone with left over, refrozen icy snow.
Best sledding spot? The gravel pile.
Best place to find ice to build a fort? The gutter on the street.
What souvenir did they keep from a neighborhood walk? More ice chunks and trash for forts and snowmen.
It's 0 C/ 32 F or below and they don't care one bit. The big kids played outside for about 8 hours and are in heaven sledding on a card board box and finding rocks and sticks to decorate the snowmen. Ashlyn seems to be getting sick so she napped for 3 hours inside with a runny nose and cough.
There are six smiling faces heading to bed now.
Happy New Year!!