Friday, July 17, 2015

Keeping Busy

Today being Friday, we are on our weekend.  In case you haven't noticed, in the Middle East weekends are Fridays and Saturdays. It's kind of awesome and kind of not.  Awesome in that we're on weekend and you're... not :)  Not awesome in that Sunday comes and we're back at work and you're... not :(  At the same time though, since much of what an Embassy does involves people back in DC, Sundays are a great catch-up day.  DC isn't open so emails are sent but not answered.  Phones don't ring as much.  You get the idea.  And with the time difference, Monday is much the same.  With the 7 hour time difference DC opens when we're getting ready to close up.

Of course all that really means is that Tuesday-Thursday are jam-packed, Sundays are really spent answering all that stuff that came in on Friday when we were sitting at the pool or napping at home, and everyone works through Fridays and Saturdays anyway with their blackberries or iPhones.  But not me, I don't even turn on my work phone on the weekends.  Or ever.

Today being Friday, July 17, we're also at the first day of the Eid holiday. We don't go back to work until Tuesday. A lot of people travel over this long weekend, but as is normal for us, we're at home.  Traveling around Jordan is not a fun idea on Eid breaks. Aqaba, the Dead Sea, pretty much everything is packed to the gills with people escaping Amman.  That's fine with us.  The grocery store was basically empty at 11 a.m., the same with Starbucks.

Yeah, Starbucks is open again during the day.  And we can drink in the car.  All hail the end of Ramadan.

So looking to a month from now when it's the night before school starts again and in between we have our R&R, I did some stuff that needed to be done.  Like organizing the school supplies.  I don't even know why we have shelves of school supplies.  I must have 150 brand new pens.  I'm the kind of person that when I can't find a pen I order 50.  Then I forget, can't find a pen, and order 50 more.  It's almost an illness.  We have stacks of paper.  You want unopened college rule?  Got it.  Graph paper?  Got it.  Construction paper?  Got it.  Dividers?  I did not know we have 7 full sets of dividers.  For all the lined paper we won't be using.  Because everything the kids do is done on the laptop... written, edited, submitted.  Math assignments?  Online.  Science projects?  Online.

I have an entire rubbermaid container on the floor full of unsharpened pencils, partially used pens, and a mix of markers. Those are separate from the container of markers and highlighters on the shelf.

New unopened erasers, for all the pencils we won't be using with the paper we won't be using.  Glue sticks.  Do kids beyond elementary school use glue sticks?  I have about 50 of them just waiting for the next paper project that comes home and requires glue sticks to complete.  It won't happen.  With the block schedule, the kids have gobs of time to do projects in class and therefore use class supplies for it all. Projects don't come home.  And if they do?  You guessed it... online.

I opened up new scissors.  That's a good thing.  We have about 12 pairs of scissors but none of them were with the school supplies.  I also haven't discovered where the tape dispenser or the stapler went.  They'll show up.  In the meantime we have 2 brand new scissors to lose.

There are 4 calculators, one of them scientific.  The other scientific one has disappeared in Rebecca's disaster of a room.  It'll show up. I'll probably end up ordering another one in the meantime.  Please don't ask me why, I already mentioned it might be an illness. We also have 3 Geometry sets.  At no point have we had more than one person taking Geometry at a time nor do I use them for scrapbooking or art projects or random "I'm bored" math time.

Amidst all these items, I found some things I'd been looking for.  Last year's grades for the kids (no, not this June.... last June 2014). I never did file them away but now I have.  My W2 from... yeah, 2014.  A Nintendo DS that had gone "missing" a while back.  It looks like at some point a cat peed on it.  Awesome.

A garbage bag full of crap went out.  Folders from when the kids were in elementary because I thought at some point they might be able to use them.  For all those paper assignments that aren't being done. Packaging and yellowed papers that suggest they've been there a very long time.  I think some of that lined paper might hail back as far as Manila.

There's now also a shelf of art supplies.  Becca is taking a number of art classes this coming year so having it all in one place works.  Charcoal, a full set of drawing pencils, a full set of water color paints, gum erasers, stacks of paintbrushes, etc.  All good.  If she doesn't use them this year they'll be donated along with all that lined paper to a school here that can use it.

One more posting with kids in school.  How the time has flown.

I also put away all the scrapbooking stuff today that I've had out for... a very long time.  It's not going to get finished before our next trip and I want it safely away from bladder-challenged cats while we're gone.  My rubbermaid drawers full of scapbooks and photos and mementos make me happy.  It's right next to my yarn basket which has been greatly neglected of late.

That's OK though.  I'll get to it all again eventually.

For now, I'll happily look at the organized shelves and my clean desk. I'll think about the plans we have for our R&R which is all neatly planned out, prep the letters I wrote for mailing on Tuesday, and sleep on my newly rotated mattress.  But only after trying the Pumpkin S'mores Dump Cake I made (Only instead of pumpkin... yams. And instead of evaporated milk... condensed. And I added vanilla powder and pumpkin pie spice powder as well. And I don't have marshmallow "sauce" but I do have marshmallow "fluff." It's going to be awesome, but how much you want to bet I'm the only one who's going to eat it? This is brought to you by "There's less than a year left to eat all the crap in the pantry!") and showering under my newly scrubbed showerhead now devoid of calcium build-up.

And tomorrow?  Well, I think I have some ideas.

Blowing WNW

The bid list is coming out soon, I think Ian said August 7.  We're down to counting months left in Amman, which feels like it was a long time coming while at the same time the past 3 years have passed quickly.

I'll have "memories in Amman stories" next year.

For now we continue with daily life of emptying litter pans, getting groceries, cleaning furniture, reading books, packing for a trip.  There's a lot left to do in Jordan, and I hope we can get it done.

What have I done:
Float in Dead Sea
Skydive over Dead Sea
Baptism Site
Climb to the Monastery in Petra
Graduate a high schooler in Jerash
Um Qais ruins
Ajloun Castle and forest
Qasr Amra
Qasr Azraq
Qasr Kharana
Azraq Wetlands
The new church at Mount Nebo
Madaba mosaics
Ma'In Hot Springs
and of course visited Jerusalem

What haven't I done:
Stayed overnight anywhere in Wadi Rum
Hiked any of the wet or dry Wadis
Kerak Castle
Feynan Ecolodge
Dana Reserve

The thing is that we've all done different things here so not everyone is keen on redoing activities even though I haven't done them (insert tiny violins).  Jonathon slept under the stars in Wadi Rum.  Both boys have stayed overnight in Dana then hiked to Feynan and stayed over night there.

We have less than 52 weekends left here.  A number of them are scheduled for out-of-country trips.  Here's hoping we mark off at least one or two of the To Do list, just for me.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

A different kind of June

Last year, we were knee deep in farewells, goodbyes, tears, and some very sad days.  This year, we do have wonderful friends who are leaving, I'm thinking of one family specifically who is moving across the world next door to Jerusalem, and another family we'll probably see on our winter trip, and a few others who a disappearing over time this summer, but overall... well, we're feeling like our time in Amman is near its completion.  We have another year, but it will be our year of lasts and tying up loose ends and looking forward to our next adventure.

Looking over the Hail-and-Farewell-End-of-School-Ice-Cream-Social-AECSA-BBQ-Buffet tonight that still had loads of empty tables at 6:30 p.m. I just felt nostalgic for those nights where there weren't enough chairs to gather around the long row of tables, and there were a dozen kids roaming about that belonged to all of us.

You know who you are, we miss you.

Sunday, May 31, 2015


Last year's awards ceremony was a lot of "This is the group that got Honor Roll," "This is the art teacher's class pet," and "This is the kid who really liked his tech class."

Today's program was changed to recognize the kids who highlight the various parts of the school's Mission Statement as well as the school's student profile.

Mission Statement: "ACS inspires individuals to become self-motivated learners and active citizens who demonstrate respect, act with integrity, and seek intellectual growth in a culture of high expectations."

Student Profile: It highlights Global Awareness, Critical Thinking, Communication, and others.

Becca's three awards from today, Highest Honor Roll, Self-Motivated Learner, and Research and Information Literacy Award.  The most interesting of the three is the last, an honor that recognizes her grasp of technology in both her tech classes and how she uses technology along with other techniques to dig in and find the real answer to questions.

Funny bit, the Research and Information Literacy Award has her name as Rerbecca.

Funnier story, when the HS principal called the Honor Roll kids she completely left out the junior class.  You can bet that at the end of the ceremony Becca blew past us and went right to the stage, along with a dozen other juniors.

Friday, May 29, 2015

This, that, and the other things.

 So far the season is 4 wins for Buffalo's and 3 wins for Champions.  Today's game was the worst for our team.  We lost 15-1 and were mercied out in the 5th inning.  The last 3 games the other team was mercied out.
On their way to Vietnam.
The kids are back from Vietnam and had an AMAZING time.  They said they had a great group of kids who were all positive and fun, and did some wonderful adventures including a 2-day hike in Sapa and a boat ride in Ha Long Bay.  They stayed in longhouses, walked through fields of butterflies, jumped fully-dressed into streams, took overnight trains, and ate loads of awesome foods.

8th grade Integrated Project
The Integrated Project was a task that took all week and involved science, math, and geography.  Their task was to make a travel plan with 8 stops, incorporating both of their home countries, with activities in each stop.  They tried to convince visitors to invest some of their "Scorpion Bucks" in hopes of earning the most and having their trip ideas go towards next year's Week Without Walls planning.  Jonathon's plans involved climbing K2.

Annual Sports Banquet
Becca was part of the first official swim team this year and they traveled to Doha, Qatar in the fall.

Spanish in the World Language Showcase
Nicholas spent a week memorizing a poem for the World Languages day.

Spanish in the World Languages Showcase 2
Jonathon was part of a Spanish skit.

Becca went to prom.
She bought her dress before we even PCSed to Amman and she looked quite regal.

The prom group.

Too bad it's fuzzy, but it still looks nice.

Monday, May 18, 2015