Monday, November 9, 2015


So I know it has been a while since I have blogged, but time is really funny here. Even though the days are mostly stress free and laissez faire, time goes by really quickly….at least for me anyway. The work week seems to fly by, AND so does the weekend. I guess that’s a good thing in some ways. It’s hard to believe that in a few days, I will be celebrating my 3 month anniversary here. Yes, it has been 90 days already.

We have two breaks that are quickly approaching. The first is National Day, which is like Independence Day and separate from Flag Day. Flag Day, which was last week, is a celebration of the Inauguration of Sheik Khalifa. National Day is the UAE’s version of Independence Day. This year it falls closely with Martyrs Day, which is a day of remembrance for all those that have given their life to make the UAE great. Because the two are so close, the holidays have been moved together. Yes, holidays and such can be moved to accommodate government schedulesJ As such, we have a short week at school (Sun-Tues) with Wednesday and Thursday off making it a 4 day mini-vacation. Groupon has a UAE version and you will also find amazing travel deals during this time at discounted rates. I am planning something, but I have not yet finalized the plans for the wifey and I.

Here are a few pictures from Flag Day!

So let me take you back to a short few months ago. I was having a conversation with another AVP as we were preparing for this new journey. He was telling me that when we arrived he was going to wear a Kandura to work and I, emphatically, told him that I would be rocking my suits everyday. This was a huge source of stress for me as to which ones I would bring and which ones I would leave until I came back for Christmas. Further supporting my point, during orientation we were told not to wear them as it would be considered offensive. So, I gladly, even though it was 100 degrees plus, wore my suits. But a funny thing happened….

1.     I came to the realization that this is a place that I wanted to live and not just work in. For some, they come, get the money, and leave and nothing is wrong with that. But for me, I wanted and considered this to be my new country so I wanted to immerse myself in all that it had to offer.

2.     I started to really respect the look of the kandura and how regal the men and even boys looked wearing them. Crisp, white, with never a wrinkle. I really became enamored with the look.

So I began to probe the opinions of those I worked with who were Emiratis. I asked several people, young and old, leaders and teachers, a true cross section to get a true sense on how they viewed expats wearing kanduras. EACH person I asked, with a smile and true genuine spirit said that they welcomed it. That this was a sign that I was accepting of their culture. Even though I had their permission and encouragement, I was still a bit skeptical. This would be quite a change for me and I had a bunch of insecurities like, would they laugh at me, how would I look, would the kids make fun of me. I know, I am damn near 40 and worried about kids pointing and laughing but I was greatly concerned. I decided to take the first step and have some made.

I went to Madinet Zayed Shopping Center, which looks like the first mall ever build many years agoJ Let’s just say it has a real LOCAL feel to it!! I found a shop that allowed me to choose the material, measured me EVERYHWERE, and only charge me $150 dirhams. For those of you following in the US, that is equivalent to $41 usd. I bought two, the undergarments, sandals, three ghutras (head dress) and an Egal (black ring for the head) all for 650 dirhams.  Again, that is $177 usd.  The shop owner discounted everything greatly! Two days later, I came and picked up my custom made kanduras.

THE DAY OF RECKONING CAME! It happened to be a Tuesday when I picked them up.  I had told myself that I would were them the next day. I was SOOOOO nervous. Of course, I tried to talk myself out of it by saying I would just wait until the next week….you know kinda like you do with a dietJ But I MADE myself do it. The next morning, I got up and put it on. Let me tell you how God will calm your fears. When I got to the elevator, there was a local Emirati man with a kandura on. Now mind you, I have NEVER seen a local man in my apartment building. He looked at me and nodded in agreement! I felt really good…..but I still hadn’t made it to school yet!

When I arrived, I both bravely and timidly got out of the car and walked in the front door. The principal (madeira) was standing right there with a group of teachers. He, with a huge grin, started asking me if I was "Mr. Marshall" and he gave me a big whack on the back (which is a good thing). The LOVE was amazing. When I went out for morning assembly I was literally mobbed by students and teachers wanting to either fix my Egal (which was a little crooked) or take pictures. It was so crazy that we could not start the assembly on time. Many teachers came up to me and gave me compliments and one, in particular, made a call to her housemaid, and had lunch delivered to me later on that afternoon. 

 It felt soooo good and I could sense a change in the atmosphere. I didn’t realize how that one thing could mean so much to them. I have had a number of interactions now where even the locals think that I am Emirati. It is not until I begin to speak that they realize and are surprised that I am not a local. I always have offers from different men (mostly young) to show me how to “hook up” my ghutra.

Well…as I type this, I now own 6 kanduras. 5 white and a beautiful black one all custom made. I anticipate purchasing a few more like grey and blue as you can wear colors during the “winter” months.

My advice to both women and men who are coming or are here already…JUMP IN WITH BOTH FEET, if possible. I say that because I have heard from others in the west that it is frowned upon for men to wear the kandura. I’m just happy that my situation and those around me have welcomed me with open arms.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Fabric of Abu Dhabi

Fifteen years after high school and an elective sewing class, I decided to brush up on my skills. After selecting the fabric for my Abaya I spotted this beautiful satin fabric with the colors orange, turquoise, and fuchsia. I asked my husband if he thought the fabric would match our décor, because the color scheme for our home is teal, orange, and silver. He wasn’t sure but I felt we could at least try since it was only 15 dirhams per yard.

When I offered to make decorative pillows for the sofa out of the fabric, Marshall gave me that Are You Crazy Look…lol! Granted I am not the most domestic wife but I can do a little something here and there. Being a sweet and loving husband he purchased the fabric and gave me room to work. Between taking care of Madisyn, writing, and completing other personal development projects I made time to make two pillows. I wanted to make two orange pillows, but we are on the Hunt for the perfect fabric. Marshall gave me compliments and was pleasantly surprised that I completed them. I’m still a little rusty so if you come to visit do not stare at the details (work in progress).

I plan to take advantage of the beautiful fabric we have access to here to make more things. Madinat Zayed Shopping Center is a great place to find fabric.

Checkout my efforts:

My First Abaya

I have officially been in Abu Dhabi going on two months now. The environment is so calm and relaxing that it actually feels like 6 months. My family and I are slowly adapting more and more to the Emirate culture and learning to appreciate their customs.

Beautiful women are dressed in Abaya's everywhere you go here. The standard uniform appears to be an Abaya and a nice handbag (YSL or Chanel). I mentioned to my husband one day that I would like to get one.  So he took me to Madinat Zayed Shopping Center to look for fabric for my Abaya. 

We found this nice little shop in the center of the mall that displayed some unique fabric. I wanted to stick with a traditional black Abaya but with a unique pattern. I decided on this black and white design with a soft texture. I felt the pattern was simple enough to fit in with the traditional attire, but with a little personality. 

The fabric was not expensive. For 4 yards we paid 120 dirhams, which is only $32 US. Initially we were told we had to travel to a separate location to get the Abaya made, however after my husband became friendly with the shop that customized his Kandura they told us about a shop located in the mall. After walking in I felt a little overwhelmed because the Abaya's had many styles and I was not sure about the one I wanted. I decided on a closed Abaya with wide sleeves and a matching headpiece. 

Speaking of culture, it was funny because as the tailor was measuring me he began to ask Marshall if the length was okay rather than me. I understand that in their culture wives are sometimes seen and not heard. A piece of me wanted to say hello…you can talk to me, but as you continue to live here you learn to respect their way of doing things. As long as it doesn’t kill, hurt, or disrespect my family I am okay with it. 

The cost to make the Abaya was also reasonable priced at 85 dirhams but without the headpiece it was only 50 dirhams. For a tailor-made Abaya + fabric it only cost 205 dirhams, which is $56 US. After waiting 3 days it was finally complete; my first Abaya. 

I truly love it and cannot wait to wear it. I plan to get more designs made in the future and when I start to work I would like to make them my standard uniform. All I need now is the YSL or Chanel bag to complete my look (wink..wink). My husband has already immersed himself in the Kandura culture (checkout his Facebook page).  

Friday, October 23, 2015

Where to purchase Gerber Products in Abu Dhabi?

I have been searching high and low for Gerber products for my daughter. Although I breastfeed her, I like to have on-the-go meals and snacks for her in case we are out late or I do not cook. I packed my Gerber products when we moved from Atlanta, but Maddy went through them quicker than I expected. They have baby food here, but I wanted a brand that I knew and trusted. My BBF Shaun offered to send Maddy her favorite food and snacks. I feel bad because after a month I still have yet to receive them and she paid $90 in shipping cost. I purchased a blender/puree and began to make Maddy's food, which I prefer. But when we are out late, the Gerber products are convenient.

My husband and I visited a Lulu's hypermarket and a ray of sunshine came from the baby aisle. Gerber!!! I was super excited. The had an assortment of foods, snacks, and juices. I feel so relieved to finally have found what I've been searching for.

For all you Gerber moms out there in Abu Dhabi visit Lulu's (Mushrif Mall).

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Africa Day!!!!

So the students have been studying the continent of Africa and Tuesday was the day of celebration for the students and the PARENTS! What I love is that the teachers always plan programs for the students to demonstrate their learning. Here are a few pics from the celebration:

One of our parents had this mural made for the celebration!






Monday, October 19, 2015

Find Your Joys!!!!

My wife a few weeks back during one of my venting sessions sent me a passage about Joy! I have shared it with a few people, but for some reason I didn’t want to tell a lot of people about it. Not sure why, other than I think the devil knew how powerful this message was and wanted to keep it quiet. However, I started thinking about all the people who are probably facing some of the same challenges I am daily and how many WILL face these challenges when they arrive, so I thought I would share it with whomever reads and subscribes to this blog.

The irony, even moving half way around the world, is that even though I am in a different land with different people, some of the same frustrations and joys are the same. Many administrators will agree with me on this point….in the states, I found that my biggest headaches often involved people who were old enough to drive…”GROWN FOLK”! My greatest joys came from the students! Students have a way of saying the right thing at the right time, bringing a sense of innocence and clarity to a situation in only the way a kid can. I worked in elementary schools mostly in the states, so those that understand, know that a hug at just the right moment can make a day go from gray to sunny.

THE SAME IS TRUE HERE! As I have stated that this job will leave you frustrated, conflicted, confused, and even angry at times…but there are some things that make it all better. These are those things:

 Sherrica and Maddy

This experience is fun most of the time! From getting lost, to going to the wrong buildings, trying to learn broken parts of a new language, driving, to waiting, to shopping.. this experience would not be the same without family. For others, it may be friends that they have met here and bonded with quickly, but for me it’s mostly my family! My only wish is that all my children (It sounds like I have a bunch rightJ were here to enjoy it or old enough to appreciate it…I guess I’ll just have to stay awhile until all of them canJ

 New Experiences 

Ski Dubai inside of Emirates Mall in Dubai
125 Floors up from the Burj Khalifa

Water Show at the Dubai Mall
Water Show at the Dubai Mall

Boat Ride in front of the Burj Khalifa
The opportunities are amazing and I haven’t even begun to travel yet. I OFTEN sit back and pinch myself and ask, “Am I really in Abu Dhabi?” This is crazy right?….NO, this is my life!


Don’t get me wrong, we have our fair share of  “mushkila” (problem) with a few students, but overall, they are a DELIGHT to work with! They have SOOOOO much personality and most are quite funny. They are no different than many of the students that I have experienced back home.
The kids celebrating healthy food week!
The kids doing a military skit!
Student presentations on Africa Unit
African money

Honestly, outside of home goods, we haven’t done much personal shopping….BUT IN DUE TIME!!!! It is fun however to visit the different malls and souks. I am still amazed at the three and four level malls, with marble on the floors,  and all the stores from Rodeo Drive mixed in with the more affordable brands here. 

Food from home
Many people often ask what do we eat? Many people expect that the only food available would resemble this:
Traditional Meal
Yes, I have eaten more traditional meals at school, but when  I come home or we go out, we often seek comforts from home. We are not that ambitious yet with our palatesJ YES, they have everything you can imagine at home….


 AND EVEN (wait for it)……..

But when I do decide to show my culinary skills.....know that a brother has skills!!!
Grilled prawns (shrimp) on top of cheese grits and bacon sprinkles!

As I close, I need some help. We are still car shopping. I’m an stuck between these two. Which one should I get:
Red Ferrari

White Porche