Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Home Sweet Home: an Update

I was looking through old posts the other day and I realized I never updated y'all on how we settled in to our apartment! So here are a few shots of the current state of our place.

This is the entry way with the Mr. Pig and Mr. Otter prints that were two of the first things we hung in our new home. We've since added a fantastic entry table that affords us so much storage! You can't see it very well, but just to the right of the door is the print of Van Gogh's Sunflowers, which is a gift from my aunt Becky. It's a tradition the women in my family (my mom, my aunt Becky, her daughter Sarah, my sister, and me) to have a print of Sunflowers hanging somewhere in our homes. I've had this print hanging in all my homes since my first college dorm.

Here are the dining room tables. The apartment comes with one table, but our weekly family dinners have grown to up to 16 people, so I got us a second table and 4 more chairs. It's like Thanksgiving every week (but with slightly less food) and I love it.

Storage is at a premium over here, so I have tried to find furniture that serves a dual purpose when possible. Those benches on either side of the white loveseat used to be the only storage in this corner. They roll out and hold all our holiday stuff and my scrapbooking materials. The white love seat is a life saver for the times the Mister wants to play video games and I want to stretch out and stream my TV shows.

This is my favorite part of the house! The couch has taken quite a beating since we purchased it last year, but I still love it! The photos over the couch make it feel so much like home. But the best part of this living room, by far, is the fantastic comfy chair we got from our friend Sharon! The Mister is in it right now playing his video games and it is famous for its afternoon-nap-inducing powers. You'll notice that the entertainment center is a vast improvement over the rustic xbox-sitting-on-a-chair set up we had last year.

A close up on my attempt to be all interior design-ish. The Ganesh was our latest smuggle from Sri Lanka. We also were able to re-purchase the Sri Lankan man and woman and nativities that were confiscated by the Saudi government in April 2012.

The guest room (aka the cat room for the time being) actually looks like a guest room! We bought the bed last semester because a friend of ours was coming to visit from Saudi. Notice the storage under the bed. It currently holds...well...everything I couldn't find a place for previously.

This is the room where I spend a lot of my time (keep your jokes to yourself, fellas). It's not much, but it's mine. The green cabinets drive me a little crazy. The guy who lived in this apartment before us had leftover paint from the living room, so he decided to paint the cabinets. Alas, he only had enough for the uppers. It feels like a kitschy 1950s kitchen and I kind of hate it.  But oh well. At least it doesn't clash with the tiles.

Here's the bedroom. I know, Mom, I know: the bed's not made. Some things never change.

Hope you enjoyed your tour of our crib! The guest bed has a VERY dreamy memory foam mattress topper, so feel free to come visit any time!

Vicariously yours,

Sunday, September 15, 2013

The Struggle to Drive Legally in Kuwait (the long story)

For the two years we were in Saudi Arabia, it was illegal for me to drive. This was a fact I was well aware of before we moved and it turned out to be only a minor inconvenience. My Arabic got better (from non-existent to slightly-less-than-non-existent) because I had so much practice with taxi drivers. But moving to Kuwait definitely had one nice selling point: I could finally drive myself to the grocery store!

We bought a car in Kuwait from exiting teachers before we even left Saudi Arabia. When we moved to Kuwait permanently, we just had to wait for our residence visas to come through and we could get our drivers licenses. Well...through a series of events that I won't bore you with now, it took an extraordinarily long time for my civil ID to come through and the hubs didn't get his until MARCH of this year! In the meantime we just tempted the fates and drove during non-peak hours without a license. Life got busy and by the time we were both fully legal residents in the country, we were stressed out with school and all the new curriculum we were learning and getting a license became the last item on our to-do list.

"But Amber, what if you got pulled over?!"

The police don't really pull people over in the Middle East, it seems. They are usually driving around with their lights flashing, but it appears they only do that so you know they're there...maybe? There seems to be no real regulation of the speed limits as I have witnessed shabab (young men) blaze past police cars on patrol and parked on the side of the road and the cops haven't blinked an eye. Police don't enforce seat belt or texting-while-driving laws (if there are such laws on the books), so it seems the only reason a police officer would have reason to speak to me is if I were involved in an accident (which is why we drove during non-peak hours) or at a check point.

Flash forward to May 2013. Rumors of a ramped-up effort to nationalize Kuwait and discourage expats from remaining in the country start to circulate. The number of road checkpoints are greatly increased, and a new law for drivers licenses is announced. It appears that the law is mainly aimed at ridding the country of Subcontinental expats (Indian, Bangladeshi, Sri Lankan, etc) who were driving with a forged license or with no license at all. The previous law for drivers had required the applicant earn at least 400KD (~$1400) a month, and that is a small fortune to many of the cleaning ladies, street cleaners, and delivery men that needed a license to get to work. Everything the Western expats were finding indicated that as long as you looked American/Canadian/European, you were waved through the checkpoints without being bothered.


But just to be safe, the Mister and I decided to start the process of getting our license this summer while we were home. The new laws are ever changing and completely illogical to a driver like me who has a relatively clean record in her home country and has held a valid license in the States with no suspensions or issue for more than 14 years. But we are guests in this country, so we had no issue following the local laws, if we could decipher what exactly it was the Kuwait government wanted from us.

When we left in June, the laws--as far as we were told-- stated that drivers license applicants had to meet all the previous requirements (valid visa, salary minimum, etc) as well as the following:

  • All college/university diplomas had to be notarized, authenticated by the state of residence (even if it wasn't the state in which the diploma was issued), then authenticated by the US Department of State in Washington DC.
  • From the Department of State, the authenticated documents had to then be authenticated by the embassy of Kuwait in the United States, also in DC.
  • Upon returning to Kuwait, all these documents had to be translated to Arabic and submitted to the government. 
  • Also upon returning to Kuwait, your US drivers license had to be authenticated by the Embassy of the United States in Kuwait and THAT had to get translated. 
So we spend way too much time this summer stressing about getting our documents authenticated properly. First of all, you can't notarize a diploma unless you witnessed the diploma get conferred, so we got a photocopy of the diploma notarized as a true copy of a real piece of paper that says we graduated from college and hoped the Kuwait embassy accept it.

Then we had to notarize that the notary's signature as in fact a true signature of a real notary.

After getting all of that authenticated by the State Department in Tennessee, we sent everything off to a courier in DC and our headaches increased a million fold.

First of all, the courier we hired in DC made it seem like we would pay about $200 for their services, which is what we had budgeted. Then I get the estimate of their cost and find out that it would be about $200 for the authentications...AND AN ADDITIONAL $300 FOR THE CONVENIENCE OF SOME SCHMOE WALKING OUR DOCUMENTS INTO A COUPLE GOVERNMENT BUILDINGS! That's almost five hundred dollars for something I could have done myself for less than $300, INCLUDING AIRFARE!

The anxiety was compounded by the fact that we waited too long and sent our documents during Ramadan, which meant the courier had a smaller window of opportunity to visit the Kuwait Embassy. 

In the middle of visiting family (including my last visit with my aunt Jackie), I get an email from the courier stating that the Embassy of Kuwait wanted paper--not electronic-- copies of our university transcripts and a degree verification from the Student Clearinghouse. Both of these items were easily retrieved though online requests, but I had no internet at my grandparents' house. I found out from colleagues that their couriers in DC simply made these requests on their behalves and added the fees to the final total owed the company. That would have been perfect! But that was not part of the $300 service I was getting from my courier. 

So it took forever to get all that stuff delivered to DC and then our courier didn't get to the Kuwait Embassy before it closed for Eid. It took them more than a month to get our documents authenticated and we had to get them shipped to a colleague who was returning to Kuwait after us so she could hand deliver everything to us.

AND THEN THE COURIER DIDN'T SEND OUR ORIGINAL DIPLOMAS BACK WITH ALL THE AUTHENTICATIONS! I called them from Kuwait and the assistant manager literally said, "Oops! I just found them at the bottom of my desk drawer!" 

Anyway. I now have all the documents they asked for so I take my stuff to our mandoub (the Guy who helps with all things documentation for our school) and he says I need to get an appointment at the US embassy to have my Tennessee drivers license authenticated--dangit. I forgot that step.

...THREE weeks later, I go for my appointment only to find out that the US Embassy in Kuwait doesn't have the capability to authenticate documents issued in the States, and never has. They tell me they could notarize my license, but everyone who has done that in the past 3 weeks has been refused by the Kuwait government. I should try again next month after they have hopefully negotiated an agreement with the Kuwait government to accept the notarizations or change their expectations.

ALL of that for a stinking drivers license?! I don't have to take a driving test to prove that I can actually DRIVE?! What does my college diploma have to do with any of this!? Why can't the Kuwait government reciprocate? Or allow us to drive on an International Drivers License?! Why all the bureaucracy for something that Kuwait citizens can get with no trouble at all?! And why aren't the unsafe shabab drivers being cracked down on just as strictly as the expats?!

These are the types of questions expats can't dwell on here, or else we will go crazy. Meanwhile, the police are actually stopping Americans now and threatening them with prison time, so we've stopped driving all together.

Hopefully we'll be legal before Christmas! It's all just a part of the adventure.

Vicariously yours,

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Close-to-Finished-Classroom Reveal

I read a lot of teacher blogs and this time of year is filled with posts as teachers a heck of a lot more organized than me show off their freshly prepared classrooms and highlight all the nooks and crannies where they have hidden away teachable moments to be found later in the school year. Many are the types who have adopted the new teacher fad of going without a teacher desk (it robs the room of valuable instructional space), and Pinterest is filled with their free printable owl-themed filing cabinet labels or bulletin board characters.

Yeah. I'm not one of those ladies. I tried to do that whole no-teacher-desk thing one year. I just ended up commandeering a section of student desks instead. I teach middle school. We don't do bulletin boards and we definitely don't have room themes.

But I worked my butt off on my classroom this summer, so I'm gonna do a classroom reveal, dangit!

It's not quite finished yet. I'm waiting for payday so I can buy a few more organizational tools and possibly spring for some more laminating. But I figure my teacher friends back home would enjoy seeing my current classroom. If you found this post from a middle school classroom management google search, I've bolded the tricks I use that I think work best for middle school minds.

This is the view while standing at the door. I took these shots right before the parents arrived for Open House, so I had my introductory powerpoint up on the screen already.

This is the view while standing on the other side of the room at the student workstation. I use the workstation as a student hub of craft supplies and such.

 In my first year of teaching, students were constantly taking things from my desk because it was the only place in the room to store things like tape dispensers and staplers. It was harmless pilfering at first, but then all my writing utensils went missing, even the ones that were buried under the ubiquitous piles of papers on every middle school teacher's desk. So I have dedicated a corner of my classroom to the student workstation every year since. It has multiple staplers, tape dispensers, 3-hole punches, scissors, and all the other supplies students could need. That way they have no reason to go to my desk.

I always try to have a mirror somewhere in my classroom. It's a trick I learned in college. Ninety percent* of middle school bathroom visits are because the students want to check their hair or reapply lip gloss. So I put a mirror in my room and it really does reduce the amount of bathroom requests. Thanks to our school's strict policy on phones during the school day, the amount of checking-my-whatsapp bathroom visits has also diminished this school year.

*I just made up that percentage. It's probably closer to 95%, but the studies haven't concluded yet.

Also on the workstation are the WYWOs. These are an organizational tool I came up with while I was in Saudi Arabia. Student absence was a really big problem, and I was constantly being swamped by returning students at the beginning of class wanting to know what they had missed the day before. I was proud of them for being responsible and finding out about their make up work, but their timing was horrible. A middle school teacher has about a bajillion things to do in the first 5 minutes of each class period, and mentally replaying what we did yesterday in third period (which is usually different from what we did in first and fourth period thanks to the ever changing needs of middle school students) is not one of them.

So I created the WYWO (while you were out) form and I assigned the job of filling out that form to a different student each week whom I call The Go-to Guy/Gal. That way absent students don't come talk to me at the beginning of the day, and if they have any questions about the WYWO, they ask the go-to guy and I'm left to input attendance as well as put out the 50 other fires that start during hectic transition times.

These are the student desks. They're in groups of 6 kids (though they are rarely completely full) and I call them "pods." Each pod has a pod pack, a gold star board, 2 trash cans, and a parking lot. See my ugly permanent bulletin board display on the right? I told you. Middle School teachers don't do bulletin boards.

I don't have a close up of the pod packs (they're the soup cans attached to the wall in the picture above), but they along with the trashcans are LIFE SAVERS!! Another problem I had in my first year of teaching was the vagabonds. The kids who found every possible reason to wander even though I tried my hardest to work physical movement into all my lesson plans. They needed a pencil sharpener, they needed to borrow a pencil from a friend directly across the room, they needed to get a tissue, they needed to throw away their snotty tissue. So I eliminated the wandering by putting all those things at their desks. The pod packs have pencils. I use tiny golf pencils with crappy erasers; the kids HATE them, but beggars can't be choosers. The pod packs have sharpeners, a ruler (a new addition in the straight-line obsessed Middle East), erasers, and a pack of tissues. There are two of these ikea trash cans attached to each pod so the water-cooler-meeting style rendez-vous at the trashcan is a thing of the past.

Throughout high school and college I had jobs that were centered around customer service. I was expected to go out of my way to make sure my customers didn't lift a finger unless they had to. My most used phrase was "I can do that for you."

When I started teaching, it was hard to turn that impulse off and I spent my first year running around like a mad woman! "Don't get up! I'll hand out ALL of these graded homework assignments while ALL of you watch me." My instinct was to be a servant and my students were bored and antsy as a result. There was no sense of community in my room, just panic as I tried to spin all the plates.

So ever since my second year I've had classroom jobs whenever possible. Back in Nashville I had about 8 different jobs and my students LOVED chipping in! I don't know why I didn't realize that students like to feel useful and needed, especially when in a high poverty population. I was finally able to have some one-on-one time with students because my Operator could answer the classroom phone for me. My Manager knew where to locate the day's handouts and could distribute them quickly while I had a disciplinary conference with a student in the hall. It was GREAT!

Since moving to the Middle East I've decreased the number of classroom jobs I use. My current students are used to being waited on by adults and are often opposed to being assigned a job in the classroom other than to sit and absorb their surroundings. They don't get to opt out of performing their duties, but I have eliminated jobs like the Trash Collector and Street Sweepers that I had in Nashville.

I have put job descriptions above the job assignments because terms like "manager" don't seem to be a part of my Middle Eastern students' regular vernacular. When I first introduced the job here I said, "What do you think a manager should do?" and I was met with total silence. "Ok...Bobby*, what does a restaurant manager do?" ....nothing. They had no idea!! They either didn't know that was a job in the real world or they were playing stupid!

So now I can just point to the job descriptions when a student asks "I'm this week's Gopher. What does that job do?"

*names have been changed to protect the naive.

This is the most unfinished part of my classroom. I snagged some of the old teacher mailboxes from the office when they were changed out last school year and they make an awesome storage space! I just need to get some plastic bins so all my craft supplies aren't just hanging out for all the world to see.

Those green and white beauties on top of the storage are student mailboxes that I MADE! I got an idea from Pinterest, but didn't have pizza boxes or USPS shipping boxes like the inspiration sites suggest. So I jimmy-rigged them using the tops of the cardboard boxes our reams of copy paper come in! They aren't all that pretty to look at but I pretty darn proud of them! I have the class mailman retrieve the graded work from the outboxes (the silver trays on top) and deliver the "mail" so I don't have to run around and waste class time passing back graded papers--a task that I put off so much in my first year of teaching that it often took a whole class period to purge all the stacks of graded work from my desk. Since I teach about 120 students this year, the "addresses" are the kids' seat assignments. Each seat has a pod letter (A pod, B pod, etc) and a number. They write their assignment in the top left corner of all their work and the mailman places it in the corresponding mailbox.

The messy box of tissue paper is a Next Activity option for the kids. Next Activities are short assignments the kids can work on if they finish classwork before we're ready to move on with the rest of the lesson and I need to assist other students. Instead of just talking and distracting their classmates, the kids have 4-5 rotating choices of activities they can do instead. The stained glass window that has gotten started behind the mailboxes is one of them. I modified an idea from (surprise) Pinterest and it's serving two purposes. The kids are LOVING that they get to glue paper to the window and not get in trouble, and the fly-by wavers and hand signalers that were constantly distracting my class last year are being blocked from view! I love all the natural light the windows let in, but they provided the perfect frame for kids "going to the bathroom" who wanted to flag their friends down to let them know it was time for their 11:25 appointment in the john.

Other next activities I use are coloring pages, reading a book (which my students this year actually do without my having to force it!), create a crossword puzzle using the unit's current vocabulary, play with (censored) magnetic poetry, test their trivia knowledge using Brain Quests, and puzzle packs with mazes and word searches.

One of the things I started new this year is my reward system. I've struggled with a reward system that I could maintain for years! I was raised in a household where you weren't rewarded for doing the things you were supposed to do, so it's not natural for me to shower my students with stickers or treats when they sit in their seats and do their work. But I modified found this idea found on Pinterest and it is working like magic on my sixth grade students.

Throughout the class period I divvy out "gold stars" to the pods. I tried to find a feasible way to use actual gold stars, but it just didn't work out. So I have attached a small dry erase board next to each pod and when a student or the whole pod is behaving exceptionally well, I make sure to call out the desired behavior as I add a tally to their gold star board (or I have a student do it if I'm across the room). The pod with the most gold stars at the end of the class period gets to choose a reward to add a letter to on our reward board. They're hard to see in the photo above but the kids have the choice of brownies, class snacks, gum in class, or a lunch party. We add one letter each day and the reward that gets filled up first is what the whole class gets.

I was afraid the kids would find the whole gold star thing cheesy and lame, but they have really latched on to it. I'm not sure if it would work as well in a 7th or 8th grade class, but as long as I'm teaching 6th grade, this will be the reward system for me.

There are lots of other areas in my classroom I would like to show you, but I think I've rambled on enough for one day. My apologies to non-teacher readers who find all of this mundane and elementary. Thank you for allowing me one post where I get to nerd out on all things teacher-y. If you're a teacher and you have questions about anything you see if the photos, please let a comment and I'll get back to you.

Vicariously yours,

Sunday, September 8, 2013

The First Week of School 2013 pt. 2

So after having had my iPhone 5 stolen from my apartment, I still had to finish my room prep and get lessons ready for the kids. All this was exponentially more difficult because I was dealing with the fact that my aunt Jackie was in her last days on this earth. I contacted family and let them know how to get in touch with me should The News need to be shared before I could find another form of telephonic communication.

The first few days of school went pretty well. My kids are really sweet this year and seem so eager to succeed and learn. All my effort in my room for the past 3 weeks seems to be paying off. By Tuesday, though, I was exhausted from a jam packed day that marked the halfway point of the world's longest first week of school ever. I hadn't had a single minute that day to go to the bathroom, much less check email so I was signing in to my gmail as my principals were introducing the topics for discussion during the day's after-school staff meeting (sorry Dave and Jamie). I had a 3-hour-old email from my mom saying that I needed to call home ASAP.

I grabbed the Mister's iPhone and sneaked out of the meeting. Thankfully my sister intercepted my finding out about my aunt's death by way of a hasty facebook post from a family member. "Don't go on facebook! Don't let Amber go on facebook!" her message read as I was opening Viber to call my mom. Thank you, Sister, for protecting me from having my worst fear in this situation being realized.

At around 4:30 in the morning on Tuesday, as I was frantically eating my lunch between classes in Kuwait, my aunt Jackie passed away surrounded by her family in her South Carolina hospital bed.

Aunt Jackie, on the right, with my aunt Suzanne and my Grandaddy. 

My aunt Jackie was the cool aunt (sorry Aunt Suzanne). All the cousins fought for her attention at Christmas gatherings, trying to be the one she loved the most. It wasn't possible, of course, because she loved all of us as if we were her kids, and told us how proud she was of all of us every chance she got. She was an amazing mother to two great kids and a loving wife to the most devoted husband I have ever met. She and my uncle Raddy were the personification of a Godly marriage. He sat beside her as she fought breast cancer over 18 years ago and was her support system again as her body was ravaged by stomach cancer for the past 10 months. She continued to work between chemo sessions, refusing to let cancer be the defining feature of her last months of life. When it became apparent that the cancer was going to win this time, she was inundated with family and friends coming to share their love and support her husband and kids.

All things considered, I think I handled the news pretty well. I had a small meltdown in the hallway and was comforted by one of the school's cleaning ladies as I went to the bathroom to clean up my mascara-smeared face. I went back to the staff meeting and pretended everything was ok (I don't think I fooled anyone).

I only had one breakdown in front of the kids who were so sweet as I explained why I couldn't finish a coherent thought the next day. I FaceTimed with family throughout the rest of the week and stayed home to have a few good cries on Thursday night as my family was attending my aunt's visitation. They messaged me photos of the hundreds of people who came to share their sympathies with Jackie's husband and kids. My sister estimated that about 1,500 people walked through the line as my grandparents, my uncle Raddy, and Jackie's two kids were surrounded by their love for almost 5 hours. What an amazing testament of a life well lived.

That was my aunt Jackie. I dread facing the void left my her absence when I visit South Carolina next summer. In the mean time I will celebrate the honor of being the niece to the coolest aunt around.

Vicariously yours,

Saturday, September 7, 2013

The First Week of School 2013 pt. 1

The Mister and I have survived the first week of school and h'oh boy was it a long one. It started humorously enough and, considering how everything went, it ended well enough. Let's begin with the comical wild goose chase my husband and two friends took through Kuwait City.

It was the last day of pre-first-day meetings and room prep. I was running late that morning and was juggling lots of bags of school supplies, our lunches, and my usual messenger bag. I walked out and pressed the elevator button only to remember that I'd left my iPhone 5 in the apartment. I dashed in quickly, did a cursory scan of the usual three places, didn't see it, so I said "screw it" and locked the door.

Fast forward to the end of the day. I come home at 5:30 and immediately begin the search for my forgotten phone. My aunt Jackie had been sick, so I wanted to see if I'd missed any updates while I was at work. I looked under couches, shook bed sheets, opened drawers, and found nothing. So I hopped on my iPad and activated the Find My iPhone app. It uses the GPS signal my phone puts out to show me where on Earth my phone is.

According to the app, my phone was in my apartment. So I continued the search until the Mister came home and he joined in. He started calling the phone and we listened for the buzz (I'd left my phone on silent). Nothing. So I started recounting all the steps of my search. I pulled out my iPad to show the hubs the map and as I was saying, "...and look, the phone is in the apartment" I cried out "---HOLY CRAP THE PHONE IS WALKING DOWN THE STREET!!" instead.

The little green dot that had been hovering over my building's location was now high-tailing it down a side street and getting on a major highway that runs across town. HOW IS THAT POSSIBLE?!

I was dumbfounded. What do I do in a situation like this!? Call the police? They're seriously not going to care about some expat's stolen iPhone. Go running after it? What am I going to do if I find the guy who took it?

While I was on the phone with my principal to see if he had any ideas I didn't think of, the hubbins grabbed the car keys, called our two close friends Matt and Austin and started burning rubber in the direction of my phone.

It was a really exciting evening, now that I have had time to step back and think about it. My friend Stacey came over and we had a command post set up in my living room. We were tracking the Mister's iPhone on his iPad, and continued to track my phone on my iPad. We were using Stacey's phone to communicate with my principal (who was really excited by the crime-fighting action of it all), Austin, Matt, and the Mister. I also bounced across the hall from time to time to give updates to the PE department who were having a cookout at my neighbor's house.

The boys followed my phone through eletronics souqs (imagine a street with nothing but phone shops from end to end), getting out of the car and pursuing on foot at one point. For a little while we thought the perp might have been on a bus because the boys were directly behind the green dot of my phone as they were simultaneously directly behind a city bus.

"What are you going to do!? Drop a trail of our friends off at each bus stop when someone gets of and have them lurk in the shadows as the thief walks home?!"

Eventually we figured out the phone wasn't on a bus. It was heading back home! At least that's what I hoped. I watched in confused amazement as the green dot made a loop and started back in the direction of my apartment building! I was hopeful that the thief had accidentally...uh...broken into my locked apartment and taken my phone--ok, I said it was hopeful, I didn't say it was logical.

Anyway, the green dot stopped at an apartment building about 4 blocks away from my house. Our school is in the same neighborhood so the boys went to the school and found our Guy (you know, the Guy who can help with everything. He is sort of the head of maintenance at the school). He took one look at the map and said, "I know exactly who lives there."

Turns out the apartment building where my phone was located was also a place where lots of the cleaning ladies and maintenance men who work for the school live. One of the people who live in the building is a woman who looked after our cats for a couple weeks this summer. When the boys and our Guy (who is her boss) questioned her about the theft she vehemently swore that she had given back our keys and hadn't been in our apartment!

The Mister tried to call my phone in hopes of hearing the buzz and calling it a night, but the thief had now found someone who knew how to turn an iPhone off, so there was no buzz to be heard.

The search was over.

My phone is gone forever.

I was hoping this story would have a happier ending, but no such luck. I'm going to need to save up almost $850 to buy another iPhone 5. We've asked the school to change our locks. I am now using my iPad to keep in touch with my family. And now you've got a story to tell about someone who actually used the location services feature to watch her iPhone disappear onto the Kuwaiti black market.

Unfortunately, my first week of school only got more dramatic from there.

Vicariously yours,