Hunting the Hummingbird - by David C Hoffman

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Monday, June 6, 2016

The Nine Month Mark

June 1st marked nine months here in Kuwait.

Nine months!

I'm so grateful that more and more it's feeling like home to us. We're feeling very comfortable with all the sights, sounds and smells of Kuwait.  
 While we still do not see ourselves extending our time beyond the original two year contract (in fact, David's already notified the college that we will not be doing so), I can see why people end up living here longer than they originally intend to.
And that's huge, because my first 3-6 months here I absolutely could not. 
When we were brand spankin' new here and meeting expats, and telling them we were here for two years, we'd hear the familiar refrain of "oh, that's what I said! Now I've been here eight years! Just you wait! That'll be your story too!" 
And I was like um, I don't mean to be rude, but HELL NO. 

But, as is so often the case, time has made things so much better. 
The first three months were hard. Sure, there were little bits and pieces of excitement and fun as we explored our new land and immersed ourselves in a new culture, but difficult seemed to reign supreme.

I had thought I was prepared for culture shock, but turns out I was much less so than I'd anticipated.
I had thought I was prepared for experiencing a rash of illnesses as we encountered all new bacteria in a new foreign country, but learned I was woefully unprepared for just how draining a long season of illness after illness (after illness, after illness...) would be. 

I had thought I was prepared for a long distance between our family and friends, but was surprised by how even in the blessed internet age of today, completely opposite time zones can add to feelings of isolation...when you're awake and able to chat, all your people are asleep.

In the early days, I was so worried about fitting in and not offending anyone that sometimes I felt crippled by the anxiety of it all. 

I had just been on the cusp of being intentional about really turning things around when I my surgery snuck up and swallowed the ground right out from underneath me. 

And since that time - where I was literally forced to just lay around at home and rest, not to mention have a renewed sense of gratitude for being alive - I've let a lot of my expectations go, and given myself (and everyone around me) much more grace.

I pretty much refuse to feel overwhelmed anymore.

This is the only time in my adult life that I haven't had a job. Yes, homeschooling the kids is work (and keeping an apartment dusted when you live in the desert is a full-time job as well, let me tell you...) but it has so much flexibility, which allows me to be more easy going about things taking their time and just life in general.  

When we first landed here, I wanted it to feel like "home" so desperately. I wanted us to feel settled and comfortable right away.
That was an unfair desire.
(Patience is so not my thing)

I needed to give it more time, and I'm pleased to say at the nine month mark, we are feeling pretty settled as individuals and corporately as a family.
Hoo to the Ray.

And at the four month post-op mark, I've got my energy back and have finally completely healed from my broken toe, and managed to avoid injury for a few consecutive months now (ALL THE PRAISE HANDS!!) and am blessedly able to get back to hitting the gym...

...which feels awesome.

Many other things are coming along nicely as well...

I feel so much more confident going out and about with the kids. 

Although the chaos of the streets here can still overwhelm me from time to time, I now dart across them with reckless abandon much less fear and hesitation than I did months ago.

Having a regular driver that knows his way around all of Kuwait, is safe and steady behind the wheel, and is reliable, has made a HUGE difference. 

I've learned how to navigate situations where our regular driver isn't available, and feel fairly confident giving directions to many different areas around Kuwait. I can stumble my way around Salwa, Salmiya, Mishref, Kuwait City, and some of Rumaithiya. I *usually* know what a fair rate is to pay, and no longer negotiate with cab drivers. I simply hand over what I know to be (slightly more than) reasonable, and exit the car. 

I've learned a measly amount of Arabic, but enough to carry on basic, polite conversation upon meeting people, and giving directions to taxi drivers.

We're acclimating to the heat. I know the temperature will climb to 130 degrees before this summer is over, but when I walked to the 1 km (.6 miles) to the grocery store the other afternoon, it was 109 degrees. And I didn't even die. 

A few more glimpses at life lately...

Sweet girl helping me make dinner...

 We picked up a trampoline from one of Dave's coworkers leaving Kuwait, and it's a toss up as to if myself or the kids are more excited about the opportunity to burn some energy during the days when it's too hot to go outside...

Sister telling Daddy all about her day...

We've gained some house guests for the summer...

Two cats!

One of Dave's coworkers headed to the States for the summer, and needed someone to look after her babies. We jumped at the chance! It's a great opportunity for us to get some sweet kitty time while were here, without the commitment of taking on a pet.
The twins would LOVE to get a pet here, but it was hard enough to leave our sweet dog Dory when we moved here (and we know she's in fantastic hands with our cousin! But still, it's like leaving a part of your family behind) and we don't want to have to leave a pet here in Kuwait when we go back home. 

We told them when we moved here that they can each pick out a new pet once we're settled back in Portland.
Currently, they are both thinking cats - much to my delight, as Brother *had* been thinking snake, making me regret my "you can pick any pet you want" pledge.

Another addition around here has been this beauty...
David got a bicycle!
He bought it from a guy who's leaving Kuwait, and got a great deal on it. This cuts his 20 min walk to work to a seven minute bike ride!

We met up with some friends over the weekend for a tasty lunch and some trampoline jumping fun!


Brother scoring a basket...

Sister hoopin' it up as well...

I don't know if you can see the boy's grin here, but he was having the time of his life!

The kids and I playing with the camera on my new phone...

We had "crafty day" with our homeschool co-op again this week, and had the best time playing at their super fun house...

For the craft, each child made their own Fanous, as Ramadan started this week!

We then watched a cartoon movie about Ramadan traditions...

...and lit each Fanous before we left...

I've never known much about Ramadan traditions, so I learned a lot during the cartoon video as well =). It's really neat to be in a Middle Eastern country during this Islamic Holy Month and experience this time along side so many who are celebrating.

Although we are Christians, it's important to us to teach the twins about different religions, and I've loved the conversations it's brought about between my Momma friends here, as well as between all the children. Just the other day, one woman (who is a Muslim) was asking myself (a known Christian) and another Momma in our group (a devout Catholic) about the differences between Catholicism and being a Protestant Christian, and we both kinda looked at each other, and then agreed "tradition" was basically the best answer. It led to a fascinating discussion about what ideals many of our different religions share, and where we differ. I've been so blessed to meet this amazing group of women from all over the World, with every single one of them accepting and loving each other exactly where we all are, with no desire to change one another, only to learn from each other. I feel so lucky to be exposing our kids - and ourselves - to these kinds of discussions. 

David has extra days off between the end of Spring term and the beginning of Summer term, and we've been enjoying the bonus family time! We walked to a local eatery and grabbed some breakfast one morning...

...and the kids enjoyed this display massage chair while David and I shopped for my new phone...

The kids have had fun making forts...

...and obstacle courses...

Sister and her rollerskates : A Love Story...

Yesterday we spent the day with some fun friends -who also happen to be B/G twins! - out at their house...

These four have so much fun together! 

Having fun friends to share life with has made the biggest difference. I know I've said this many times here already, but an amazing thing about expats is how quickly you can share a bond, simply because you're both living in a country that isn't "home". David and I feel so grateful for all the friends God has brought into our life here in Kuwait, and know many of them will remain life long friends, even after we've returned to the States. 


  1. Love this post! I identify with so many things you write about here. So glad our paths have crossed. <3

  2. I'm so glad you are more comfortable with Kuwait now, but I'm even more glad that you will be coming home on schedule.

    Aunt Carol