My Photography

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Sunrise at School

This morning Othman and I took a new route to get to my school, one which cut the travel time almost in half. This meant I got to school before the rest of my teaching team and was locked out of our shared office space. It only took about 2.5 minutes for someone with a key to arrive, during which I walked out onto the roof and took out my phone to photograph the sunrise over the silent and serene school grounds.

Only about 10 minutes later, hearing the clamor of children's voices, I went back out to photograph the difference.

The change was palpable as the silent and peaceful fields became what they are meant to be...

...places where children can run and play, laugh and cry, learn how to solve problems and develop into little global citizens! I have after-lunch recess duty almost everyday with the Kindergartners (called Pre-Firsters here) through Second Graders so trust me, I know what I'm talking about when it comes to giggles and tears.

I'm just so happy to be working at CAS and so grateful for the opportunity to work at school that is truly a well-oiled machine and makes good educating seem easy! Today, for example, I watched some of the fourth and fifth graders' Student Council speeches in the auditorium (they had to give it up on the big stage with a microphone in front of the entire two grades!) and it was such a lovely experience. The students were so full of enthusiasm and big ideas, and managed to be big-headed and humble at once while promoting themselves for the coveted spots. At the end of the day the voting is mostly a popularity contest, as it would be anywhere, but the process of running has some serious character building hoops to jump through, and all in all I was pretty impressed. Plus a fourth grade girl who is brand new even got elected as an alternate above at least eight other students. Clearly, something right is happening in our school.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

The trip that wasn't meant to be

Last week I excitedly told both friends and family about the long-weekend trip Othman and I were going to take to Ifrane, a lovely little town in the mountains about four hours away. It has spectacular scenery, being surrounded by woods and lakes, and the last time I was there was in February 2011, just after we moved to Morocco. 


Once we were packed up and totally ready to go yesterday morning, we made our way down to the car parked on our quiet residential street. And found this:

The first words out of my mouth were understandably not blog-appropriate, but within five seconds my shock and anger turned into bitter disappointment. So much for our trip. I turned around and lugged everything back upstairs again.

It was immediately obvious that the perpetrators weren't thieves given that Othman's leather jacket, the only thing worth any money at all, albeit being worn and weathered, was still under the broken glass. So thankfully we still have that in addition to still having our car.

Othman spent a big chunk of yesterday talking to the police and the neighbors, and learned that our car was the casualty of a fight between some neighborhood drunks, and that it wasn't the first. Today he spent most of the day driving around a deserted Casablanca (the holiday that took place last Thursday is equivalent to Christmas, meaning everyone abandons this economic capital (just as we wanted to...) and rejoins their families in their hometowns) looking for a garage that could replace the back windshield. It took him a few hours, but he finally did, and luckily they did have the appropriate windshield given the popularity of our model of car. It cost rather more than we expected but the insurance should cover the cost 100%.

So instead of travelling I had a new maid come over, and my spirits lifted as she cleaned the apartment from top to bottom (the first good cleaning it's had since I've been back in Morocco). I painted some (more on that to follow), cooked a bit, and relaxed a lot. It has been a quiet day, and while it certainly can't compare with a Saturday wandering the forested mountains, it hasn't been too shabby either.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Happy 6 months Noor!

Can you believe that this tiny little newborn, pictured exactly six months ago today...

could turn into this big ole chunky boy in such little time?

With this adorable protruding tummy?

And those big ole eyes?

Even uncle Othman is in love!

Happy six months of life sweet Noor! So happy I get to be your auntie Claudia!

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Moroccan month

Once tomorrow comes, I'll have been back in Morocco for a month. And I can tell.

How can I tell? Well for instance the "sheep Eid" (see here) is next week, and because it's still pretty hot, their pungence pervades. Read: it reeks of sheep pretty much everywhere, down to INSIDE our apartment. 

BUT, can I complain of the heat that brings the reek when I see my family at my little sister's color guard performance bundled up because it was 40 degrees Fahrenheit? After all, the smell comes in on the cooling breeze through our open windows.



Why does the smell bother me so much? Because I'm stuck on the couch, sick for the second time in a month. My allergies are at their worst since spring and my allergist even doubled my Zyrtec dosage yesterday.

BUT, can I complain when I have a lovely and attentive husband who is making me soup as I speak? And a fabulous, caring doctor? And new medical insurance that covers all costs 100%? 


Why are my allergies so bad? Casablanca is on the sea, so it's humid, full of mold spores and pollen and pollution all throughout the year. Read: my closet is so humid that my folded, clean clothes get mildew on them if I leave them in there long enough. My allergies have been generally between unbearable and ugh since my arrival in 2011.

BUT, can I complain when I live in a country that allows my husband and I to book a place like this for 40 bucks a night for a weekend trip next week, to escape the city?


Why am I sick on top of being extremely allergic? Well, I have a new job working as the English Language Learning Specialist at an International school here. I have busy days that leave me exhausted, plus as a teacher in a primary school one gets sick a lot.

BUT, can I complain when I'm LOVING the job, my principal, my colleagues, the school's professionalism and high standards, the lovely campus, and the kids? And that's not even mentioning the perks (see aforementioned new insurance) and the salary. Or the fact that I'm walking so much around campus all day that I've lost eight pounds in a month. 

Can I complain? No, no I can't. 

Can I complain about missing my family when I have my husband here, my cozy little apartment, wonderful friends within walking distance? When I have Whatsapp and Facebook and blogs and Skype to close the gap? No. 

That's one happy me in the middle of my fam AND hubby.

No, I can smile. I can be thankful, and smile again.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Two photoshoots on campus

In this post I'm combining two photoshoots I did, both not even a week before I left the USA. Both took place on the campus of South Dakota State University, which provided a great location for both building and greenery backgrounds. It's interesting how although we went to many of the same places, the pictures didn't turn out very similar at all.

The first bunch of pictures are of the lovely Sheila:

She's the daughter of a colleague of my dad's and a friend of my mom's. I have to say I definitely felt a certain kinship with her given that she's also half Brazilian!

She was so natural and easy going right from the very beginning of the photoshoot. It ended up being a pretty short one since I had gotten so many good pictures we simply didn't need to continue!

Though these look like senior pictures, Sheila will only be a junior this year, though you'd never know it from her poise and elegance. 

I look forward to seeing her again the next time I'm in the US!

These next photos are of a beautiful family: Ukrainian Val (another colleague of my father's), Brazilian Paolla, and their sweet little boy.

Plus a bonus family member!

Little Igor was extremely active, running all over in the wide open spaces, but he was so joyful while doing so that it was simply adorable.

Family love is such a beautiful thing to capture! Thank you Val and Paolla for letting me document your growing family!