Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Abu Dhabi - Day 6

We started our day with a visit to the kids' school. It's called the American Community School or ACS.

The school is KG1-12 (Preschool to 12th grade). We applied over a month or so ago and both kids had to take an Assessment at their old school (essay and online test). Alexander passed no problem and we were told that Bella had to retest. I tried to not worry about it until today when it was time for her test.

The test was scheduled for 10 am so we had to leave the villa at 9:20 to allow for enough time to get downtown. We got there, parked and got through the security gate for our visitor badge. The campus is huge with separate buildings for Primary, Middle and High School. There are separate offices for each area too.

We got Bella check in with the counselor and I offered up a barrage of questions after she got settled in for her test.....

What can I do to assure she will get in? (nothing)
Does it matter that her brother will be here? (no)
Does it matter that I'll be an involved parent? (no)
What if she doesn't pass, is there something we can work with?
They will look at her grades, school reports and the whole test. If she struggles in one area, they can work with her and provide extra help. If she struggles in two or more, she won't be accepted. ARGH
We should know in 2-7 days.
If she doesn't pass.....we will have one week before school starts to find a school, register and hope she gets into that one.

Trying hard to NOT think about something until I have to.
There is another option, GEMS Academy that I've heard great things about for Elementary, but the idea of two kids in different schools and in a foreign country - ack!

While Bella was at her test, Brian, Alexander, Cameron and I checked out the area and came across a great Home store called "The One".

In case I need a huge chandelier or silver horse head I'm covered.

Or a gigantic silver chandelier for the dining room.

There were a few things I liked there actually, just nothing I needed (except a hand towel holder).

After we picked up Bella, Brian headed to work and I took the kids to meet a couple gals and their kids at a little restaurant (one of the few open during Ramadan in the daytime). One gal is from our development and she has an 8 year old daughter (3 days older than Bella and going into 3rd grade at ACS) and a 2 yo son (almost a full year younger than a Cam), The other gal was a friend of hers with 2 girls going to ACS (2nd grade and 6th grade). I got along well with her and her oldest is really into soccer like my kids so we'll figure out the athletics thing together.

So, one of these gals is East Indian and the other is Filipino. They are both
American and only speak English. But they aren't "Caucasian". They talked about the perceptions of people in AD because of it. People who have maids/nannies (lots of people) usually hire Filipino's or other Asian Nationalities so people have assumed that's what they are. Their kids are mixed so it looks like they could be caring for someone else's kids. One said she is very conscious about it and tries to "dress-up" when she goes out and about so people don't think she's the help. I thought I had things to worry about........

After lunch, we headed to another mall to check it out. Big, pretty, lots of stores and coffee places. Nothing special.

Then I got gas for the first time. Everything is full-service and gas is about $1.80 a gallon. Granted it's in liters and you pay with dirhams. It cost me 90 dirhams to fill up and I was almost on empty. That's about $25 for a full tank!

Then, it was home to swim and have a little snack before dinner. Remember how I mentioned the Dragon Fruit the other day?

It was yummy. Bella loved it and so did I. Can had a nibble and Alexander wouldn't touch it. It tastes like a mixture of Jikama and something juicy??

Then Brian came home and we had dinner.

I read about an activity going on that I wanted to check out. Here is the advertisement:

Ramadan and EID Festival
This popular show combines a consumer show with traditional celebration. The event showcases family-friendly consumer goods, unique gifts, Arabic food, toys & games, as well as traditional song and dance.

Sounds great right?

We got there at the time it stated online and it of course started an hour later than the Internet stated. So we played in the lobby of the HUGE convention center.

Then the Festival opened up and this is what I walked into:

Ummm...lets keep looking...

Look it's pictures of the founding Sheik and Spongebob????

Wait, theres more culture around the corner....

Celebrate your love of the Sheik or....Hannah Montana???

What other feasts for the eyes await??

There was Spongebog crap everywhere! It was so bizarre! There was also outstanding flea market grade toys and cheap purses and tacky clothes. Somehow people were walking around with BAGS of stuff. I bought one thing....

Kidding. I bought a box of frankincense chunks for our Oud burner (if thats what its called).

There were a few neat shops with pretty abayas or tea sets and TONS of jewelry (looks fancy but by the price, must be fake).

Alexander got a yummy corn snack while he waited for Bella and I to buy our frankincense chunks. It was corn kernels in lemon juice, butter and salt. So yummy!

We didn't spend much time there, but down the hall was this really fun activity for the kids that was sponsored by some AD Financial group in an effort to make people (especially kids) more active.

The kids had a blast and didn't want to leave. We will probably go back for the football "soccer" thing again on Thursday night.

Then, we stopped for some snacks on the way out.

Can you see the people in traditional clothes in the background?

This is just a potato that has been sliced round and round and fried with seasoning on it. It seemed like American Fair Food.

When we got home, I found this:

The gecko is having babies in my house somewhere. This thing is the size of a quarter!

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