Wednesday, October 28, 2009

ABC, Easy As 123

In my last little update about teaching, I was having a bit of a rough time. I know it's all relative (AS IN I AM SO VERY THANKFUL I AM NOT TEACHING IN A BOYS SCHOOL!!!!) but the crazy scheduling, bewildered kiddos, interruptions, and lack of supervision was challenging. I normally love to go to work. However, for the first few weeks, just thinking about work made me want to run out into the middle of rush hour traffic and throw myself in front of one of the many giant SUVs that go rip roaring through the streets around here. (I know, I'm probably using just a bit too much "dramatic license.")

Somehow, though, agonizing seconds stretched into minutes, then hours, then days, then weeks. Before I knew it, a whole month had come and gone.

And in that month, good things happened.

Maybe I still feel like it's the Twilight Zone at least once a day. Maybe there are still unsupervised kids and crazy schedules, incessant interruptions and constant change. Maybe my little girls are still a bit wild. And talkativ
e. And testy. Maybe 99% of what I say is still lost in translation. But . . . maybe, just maybe, things are coming together. Slowly, slowly, slowly. Maybe, just maybe, it's becoming ABC, easy as 123.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

most of my bed and pillows, too

sheets, duvet, pillowcases by my hotel apartment
embroidered pillow by ikea

thanks for joining me for the little tour. feel free to add your decorating ideas and suggestions or send me links to your favorite home design/decor blogs.

Saturday, October 10, 2009


my 'office' nook in the kitchen/laundry combo room
a bit cramped (my legs fall asleep all too often), a bit hazardous to the forehead (ouch! you darned cupboard corner!!), but a bit cozy, too.

red stool by ikea
hot/cold cups by ikea
computer by mac

and my favorite 'office nook' artwork: the FRIDGE COLLAGE

by a hodge-podge of wonderful folks in my life

Friday, October 9, 2009


a favorite little section of the living room

as most of you know, i like lanterns. the thing about lanterns is that they radiate this soft, shifting, flickering light which adds depth, movement, and imagination to a place. these lamps have a bit of that same feel.

lamps by ikea

textured pillows

pillows by ikea and homecenter

Thursday, October 8, 2009


my rainbow picture wall

since i didn't take before/after pics, here's the textual version:

big white kitchen wall
with a jumbo sized fire extinguisher smack dab in the middle
big color crazy kitchen
still with a jumbo sized fire extinguisher holder smack dab in the middle
but so much better because of the endearing people and places i see instead

by jill a cox, wendy mcgraw, molly mcgraw, and a few other lovely people who just happened to be in the right place at the right time

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


my dresser

candle votive by zara home ramadan sales table

books by marcus borg & brennan manning
cutest little siblings ever by dad & wendy

seashells by the public beach in the arabian gulf [see the 3rd bullet down]

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


As far as apartments go, did I mention how lucky I am? I am one of the fortunate few to be placed in a long-term hotel apartment. (And a nice one at that!) There are probably 150 other teachers, including two of my co-teachers, who are still staying in hotels and living out of suitcases. At first, it must have been fun: 5 star luxury, refreshing swimming pools, extravagant continental breakfasts, free gym service. By now, though, I'm sure the novelty has worn off and they'd like to be settled.

From what I'm discovering, however, being "settled" and having a set of keys in your hand are not synonymous. Despite the fact that I've been in my own apartment from day one, I still sorta feel like a guest. Makes me wonder if eBay ever auctions off one-size-fits-all, cozy, welcoming, just-relax-and-BE housewarming packages. Maybe even just a can of aerosol "home-sweet-home" spray would do the trick. One squirt and it would instantly make a place feel like your whole family was right there sitting around a fire on Christmas Eve.

If I did find such an all inclusive package or this insta-aura stuff, I highly doubt it would be "just right." I think I'm looking for something that isn't really reproducible here-- like fresh tomatoes from the garden, mail in the basket, window boxes with blooming flowers, half-eaten little kid cheese sandwiches on the counter, kitty paw prints on the wood floor, lamps turned on for late night returnees, shoes on the mat, one of a kind artwork, leftover dinner party dishes, and other little tell-tale signs of life lived in community. I miss them. I miss them because really, they are just my kind of lovely in that space I fondly refer to as "home".

So, if making a cheese sandwich and leaving it on the counter isn't quite doing it for me, what is my game plan for tackling this non-homey home? I'm not sure. I've tried candles on the coffee table, plants in the window, and cookies in the oven. They're helping add some familiar, cozy charm, but they're no replica for family or for roommates who become like family. They just don't say, "you belong in this place" as well as I would like.

I guess my only tactic is to just keep making baby steps towards (cheaply and temporarily) personalizing the place. Maybe, eventually, "home" will arrive. Until then, I'll have to be satisfied with the little tiny pockets of my apartment that are starting to feel like me. I find them every so often. Usually by surprise. They're not always in the same place. They're not always there at the same time. They're not always affecting me in the same way. But, nonetheless, they are there.

Courtesy of pre-scheduled posts, I'm going to be delivering a short but [hopefully] sweet series on my apartment. I'm looking forward to sharing a few of my favorite little corners with you.

baking center

flour -- salt (lots of it for playdoh) -- brown sugar -- white sugar
p.s. i'm pretty sure i have marble counters!!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Little Discoveries

This is my find of the week:

Thank you, Spinneys. Hopefully my digestive troubles will be solved.
Right. ;-)

Saturday, October 3, 2009


I had such good intentions of posting about my week. However, by the time the weekend actually rolled around, I was much too tired. And sick. (Digestive troubles all week and now a bad cold.) Think I am a little stressed?!

Last night at Bible study I was asked to use one word to describe my work. I couldn't decide between "adventurous," "wild," "Twilight Zone," or "survival." This morning, it's definitely survival.
  • Surviving a lack of order and schedule (The schedule changes every blessed day! We haven't started or finished school at the 'correct' time yet.)
  • Surviving having no materials (Umm...they want us to buy everything from pencils and paper to soap and papertowels for the bathroom. There is NOTHING but furniture in my school.)
  • Surviving without curriculum. (How exactly am I supposed to teach kids to read without books? I know it's been done in the past, but I am not so sure I know how to do it that way. A sequence in math and a few units for science would be nice, too.)
  • Surviving without an interpreter. (Getting little kids who have never been to school before and who don't know a lick of English to understand, listen, and follow directions is h-a-r-d.)
  • Surviving without a class list I can understand. (Ok, so I do have a class list. However, it's all in Arabic. I don't really know who is supposed to be in my class -- let alone how to spell or pronounce their names. I did a little translation myself. Fatima. Easy. Mariam. No problem. Whore? Hoor? Whoor? Problem!! Poor kiddo. I had to stop there--not so sure on that one!)
  • Surviving without any accountability and supervision. (Absent teachers + no subs = classrooms and classrooms of kids left to their own devises. No supervision during recess is also a bit problematic for me to watch. However, I keep telling myself, "When in Rome . . .")

Complain, complain, complain. Sorry. It has just been a really rough week. As Dave pointed out, "Well, what were you expecting?". Good question. I don't know what I was expecting, but I guess I was not really expecting it to feel so much like survival. Pure, raw, messy fight-to-keep-your-head-above-water survival. It certainly can't be the best for these little 5 & 6 year old babies. It doesn't feel so good for me, either.

Keeping on, keeping on.