Archives for April 2010

Still giggling.


One of my very sweet co-workers offered me this worksheet to use with the kindergarten students that I am now teaching three days a week.

aSs worksheet

See it? See it?

xo, jill

Fujairah in February

I didn’t forget.

Way back in February I had a very demanding visitor to entertain. She insisted we visit nearly the entire country during her stay. Well, I did my best and took her northeast to Fujairah.

After spending a bit of time hunting down a camping spot, we ended up just pitching our tent on the beach in the dark. (One of my favorite aspects of the UAE is that you can essentially camp anywhere, as I’m sure you’ve noticed by now). Waking up early in the morning we were treated to a lovely sunrise during breakfast.


We tried to make it out to a popular waterfall in the area, but my car wasn’t up to the off-road challenge. Instead we drove out on a cliff above the waterfall and marveled in disgust at the massive loads of litter covering the landscape. I mean, it was gross. Waterbottles, old shoes, dirty diapers… yuck. While Molly decided to scramble down the cliff to check out the waterfall, my mom and I got to work picking up as much trash as we could fit in my car.

I skipped the litter when taking photos and opted to capture the mountains and vegetation instead of the junk.



On our way back into the city of Fujairah, we stopped by Fujairah Fort. It happened to be closed but we still poked around the outside.



Next we stopped at Fort Hayl. It was smaller than the first but it was open!



My favorite feature of these forts is how sneaky you feel when you discover how to reach the next level. You are standing on the ground floor… and it’s obvious there are more stories above you, but it’s not completely obvious how to get there. Hint: Those sticks in the corner!


I also like the intricate designs around the windows.


And there’s Molly on the roof scouting for enemies in the distance.

xo, jill

Respite in sight.

Mark your calendars!

Flying into rainy Portland, Oregon on July 9th!

I’ve been hemming and hawing over travel plans this summer… but really, when it comes down to it… the only place I want to be is in the Pacific Northwest with my family and friends.

So get ready. There are adventures to be had.

PDX Mosaic

Returning to Abu Dhabi August 19th with an undetermined excursion to happen between then and my report date of September 5th.

xo, jill

Wadi Damm


This past weekend the same companions for my first Oman trip and I decided to cross the border for a second time. For this outing we had a specific purpose in mind: swimming!

Amazingly, we drove right to the trailhead for our destination, Wadi Damm. “Damm” translates to “hidden” in English and hidden is the perfect descriptor. Looking down into the wadi you have no idea what you’ll find after scrambling over boulders and hopping over cracks in the rock.

At one point in our hike it appears as if you can go no further. Which… you can’t… unless you use the dangling rope to hoist yourself up into a cave and out the other side. Epic!



After approximately an hour of trekking and searching for viable paths, we came to what our guide book described as “a little slice of heaven.” Cool water flows out of a wall of rock and down into a pool perfect for swimming.





We enjoyed the water, our lunch, and some napping on the rocks all to ourselves until a few young Omani men joined us. They impressed us with their jumping skills as they splashed and played in the water before literally scampering back out of the wadi. These boys did in minutes in bare feet and sandals what it took us an hour with proper foot gear!



That night we camped in an oasis under palm trees. We were having a relaxing chat under the stars until we heard some rustling in the palms above us. It’s just a little unsettling to watch rats running around directly above your head! The bats and the frogs I didn’t mind at all… but those skinny little tails dangling in the air… ugh.

The next morning we stopped at the beehive tombs in Al Ayn. These tombs, along with others in the area, were declared by UNESCO as “the most complete collection of settlements and necropolises of the 3rd millennium BC.” Impressive. Oh and have I mentioned they sit on a ridge pretty much in someone’s back yard? No big deal.




I’ve been very pleasantly surprised by what the little country of Oman has to offer. You have to look a bit harder to find it… but there’s a lot there.

xo, jill

Love Letters, Feminism and the UAE

Oh dear.

One of my sweetest, chattiest, High School Musical obsessed students proudly came into my classroom the other morning carrying not one, not two, but three love letters. For whom? For me! As I conjured up my flattered teacher voice (ok it wasn’t that difficult) I bent over to give her a hug (yep, we can hug here!). It’s always nice to receive little notes and pictures from students.

Then I began to read the largest piece aloud.

“I love you Miss Jill. Because you teach me something New. J + M = Love
I Love You Miss Jill.”

While I’d like to boast that my students have reached this level of English competency, she explained that her older sister helped her make the card. I opened up the pretty ribbon bow to continue to read. This is where things got interesting…
“I love you Miss Jill Sow much because you sow nice. I don’t hate you but I love you so much. Like bee and flower, Like boy and girl Love!!!!!
You my love
You my heart
You in my mind”
Uhhhh… what? Naturally at this point my student is beaming and I’m struggling for the appropriate words for the occasion. I mean, I’m pretty sure she wants to be my boyfriend… right?[Sidenote: Over here boys and girls are very strictly segregated past the age of 5 or so. It’s not uncommon for girls to form “special friendships” with each other (boys too)… and apparently “love” love is ok to express to your teacher.]

Luckily the topic quickly turned to… feminism!

At school I write my name, “Ms. Jill.” However, the distinction is completely lost because my students (and fellow teachers) pronounce it “Miss Jill.” I don’t really care too much because I keep my Ms-ness in my heart and overlook the naive connotations attributed to “Miss.” Consequently, I find myself being instructed that “Sister [says] ‘Ms. Jill’ no good! ‘Miss Jill!'”

In America I easily explain to students the distinction between Mrs., Ms., and Miss like so: “‘Mrs.” means ‘married’ … ‘Miss’ means ‘not married’… and ‘Ms.’ means ‘It’s none of your business if I’m married or not!'” Of course it’s really not quite so simple, but the message is delivered.

Standing at my whiteboard with my eager student looking up at me, I decided to give it a go. “In America… this [Mrs.] means husband… you know? Like mama and papa? Husband? This [Miss] means no husband… mafi… and this [Ms.] Mizzzzzz… means maybe husband, maybe no husband…” She was out the door by this point.

I tried.

xo, jill


Lucky day for…


Congrats to my dear friend Shauna… she won the Square Crisps GIVEAWAY!

I’ll be carefully stuffing as many packets as I can in a box and sending them her way shortly.

Today I sampled a new flavor… cheese and onion. Not bad… but no salt ‘n’ vinegar!

xo, jill

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