Sunday, November 20, 2016

Halloween Celebrations in Kuwait

We had two Halloween celebrations this year.  One at the boys' school and one at the Embassy.  We teamed up with another family and created Pokemon-themed costumes.  Ian and I were evil Pokemon trainers (Jessie and James) and Jamie was our evil Pokemon, Arbok.  Gavin was a good Pokemon Squirtle and Braden was a good Pokemon, Pikachu.

We had so much fun at both celebrations.

As Trick or Treating isn't a recognized custom here in Kuwait, both the school and the Embassy organized Trunk or Treats for the kids.  They had so much fun trick or treating at the houses and cars on the Embassy and the cars at their school.  There was no shortage of candy!  I will say that our trunk was woefully under-decorated by comparison.  Some of the decorations were amazing!

School Break Fun

 During the week-long Eid break, we took advantage of the time off to visit some local attractions.  Including the aquarium at The Scientific Center, Kuwait and a local water park.  The kids had a blast.

 Post aquarium treats sitting by the Gulf.

Scenes from Kuwait

 Kuwait has mostly rebuilt from the Iraq occupation in 1990 and subsequent Gulf War.  There is some gorgeous modern architecture, as well as more tradition arab buildings.  It is not as slick as some other cities, like Dubai, but does have a charm.

View of the Arabian Coast

G&B on the coast with the Kuwaiti Towers in the background

Just a really cool building

One of the MANY Lamborghinis we see driving around town

Liberation Tower

Ooredo building

Fun building lights

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Eid al-Adha

Wikipedia: Eid al-Adha  ("Festival of the Sacrifice"), is the second of two Muslim holidays celebrated worldwide each year, and considered the holier of the two. It honors the willingness of Ibrahim (Abraham) to sacrifice his son, as an act of submission to God's command, before God then intervened sending his angel Jibra'il (Gabriel) to inform him that his sacrifice had already been accepted. The meat from the sacrificed animal is divided into three parts. The family retains one third of the share; another third is given to relatives, friends and neighbors; and the remaining third is given to the poor and needy.
Kuwait is divided into governorates (we might consider them counties) and each of them has a "co-op society" that provides goods and services to the areas within the governorate.  For Eid al-Adha, it was determined that 14 temporary butcher shops would be established to meet the needs of the sacrifices.  Unfortunately, some people still took it upon themselves to do their own.  This picture was taken by a friend in the neighboring block:
Don't look too closely at this picture.  Please.
In the Islamic lunar calendarEid al-Adha falls on the 10th day of Dhu al-Hijjah and lasts for four days until the 13th day. In the international (Gregorian) calendar, the dates vary from year to year drifting approximately 11 days earlier each year. <Heather's note: these dates and timings vary by country, as well.  Saudi Arabia announced a 12 day holiday starting Sept 6th, Kuwait was 9 days starting the 9th, Turkey was also 9 days, but started the 10th, and Pakistan was only 3 days starting the 12th>
Eid al-Adha is the latter of the two Eid holidays, the former being Eid al-Fitr. The word "Eid" appears once in Al-Ma'ida, the fifth sura of the Quran, with the meaning "solemn festival".
Like Eid al-Fitr, Eid al-Adha begins with a prayer of two rakats followed by a sermon (khutbah). Eid al-Adha celebrations start after the descent of the Hujjaj (the pilgrims performing the Hajj) from Mount Arafat , a hill east of Mecca. Eid sacrifice <emphasis mine> may take place until sunset on the 13th day of Dhu al-Hijjah. The days of Eid have been singled out in the Hadith as "days of remembrance" and considered the holiest days in the Islamic Calendar
So, the boys started school on Sept 4th.  On Sept 5th, I received this message:
5th September 2016
Dear Parents,
Eid Al-Adha Holiday
I am writing to confirm, as per the Civil Services Commission directive that the Eid Al-Adha holiday will be from Sunday, 11th September until Thursday, 15th September inclusive. TES will therefore be closed from the end of the school day on Thursday of this week and reopen on Sunday, 18th September. 
May I take this opportunity to wish you all a very happy and relaxing holiday - Eid Mubarak.
Best wishes,
Kieron Peacock

I needed the Serenity Prayer after that announcement.  After weeks of boredom, anxiety, stress, the boys were finally in school and enjoying it and then they announce they are closing for a week????  Are you kidding me???

I did a quick search to see if we could go somewhere (anywhere) to take advantage of the break, but while there were flights out of Kuwait there were no seats available on any flight to get back into Kuwait before Sept 21.  So, we were just going to have to tough it out here at home again.

We made the most of the week by taking advantage of the fact that Ian had a few days off, as well.  We had dinner and game nights with friends, we shopped at Ikea (OK, maybe I'm the only one that enjoyed that), we went ice skating again, we went to the aquarium, we even spent a day at a water park.

Jamie enjoying the large tank at the aquarium

Jamie enjoying a post-aquarium slushee

Braden enjoying his post-aquarium slushee

Gavin post enjoyment of his post-aquarium PinkBerry

The slides!!!

Jamie and buddies on the slides

Gavin on another slide

Gavin being silly at bowling