This has been the most lovely December in recent memory for many reasons. Firstly, Tony’s work schedule has been AMAZING! The first week of December was a short work week as the country celebrated both National Day and Martyr’s Day, giving us the long weekend that allowed us to explore Istanbul, Turkey. When Tony returned to work, the school began its exam schedule which shortened his work day to 8:15 to 12:20 each day. That means he’s home even earlier than normal giving us time to work out, prepare meals, play with Matteo, and enjoy the gorgeous weather together as a family.
Abu Dhabi has its share of fun, Christmas family activities all around town (thanks to the high population expat community, Christmas decorations/music/activities are everywhere). Last week, we went to a Christmas tree lighting at one of the hotels. There was a Santa Claus, beautiful decorations, and a ton of people! More importantly, there was a roped off area full of “snow” for the little ones to play. As is typical, it took Matteo a bit to warm up to the idea of playing with other people, but he finally gave it a try and ended up having fun.
We also had our first professional photos taken since our wedding! We were able to squeeze into a local photographer’s schedule when she had a cancellation for her 30 minute, Christmas mini sessions (next year we will book in advance!). In case you were wondering, 30 minutes is a LONG time for an uncooperative three year old to do something he has no interest in being a part of. He repeatedly told us he was done and tried to get up and leave the studio. The photographer wisely started with the photos of just Matteo, and by the time we got to taking the family photos, Matteo was DONE. She ended up getting some very cute shots of Matteo, and a few of the three of us that we can work with :). Above is the image of our Christmas card — I’m not hopeful that we’ll get the final images back before we leave for our trip on Saturday, so this year will be a digital Christmas card kind of year. We were so happy with the photos that next year we vow to book a session early enough to send out physical cards!
We are now gearing up for our Austria/Germany trip. I’ve been brushing up on my high school German skills in preparation (thanks Frau Stamp, you remain the world’s best German teacher), and have taught Matteo a few German phrases (Guten Tag! Ich heisse Matteo.). It will be fun to experience two new countries and, of course, get to see one side of our family as Tony’s mom, dad, brother and sister-in-law are meeting us in Vienna. We’ve learned from our National Day weekend travel experience (CROWDS), and will be arriving at the airport earlier this go around to minimize the stress of waiting in the large line of expats leaving the UAE for the holiday break.
2015 has been a year of change and course correction for our family. It’s awesome to look back on the last 12 months and feel proud and happy –we took some big risks this past year, and I’m happy to say that they’ve paid off. We enter this Christmas season grateful for our lives; for each other, our families, Tony’s employment, and the new friends we’re making.
It’s been a very good year.