Sunday, June 29, 2014

A timely reminder that we will see all our friends again....

We last saw these lovely folks when Rebecca was with the twins in Kindergarten in Manila and then again in 1st grade in VA.  My how they've grown!

Thanks for making time for us in your busy schedule.  It's not easy squeezing in a late dinner between Jerusalem and Istanbul but we appreciate that you did!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

I will not say "Goodbye" but rather "Until We Meet Again"

And they're off.  All of them.  Tomorrow morning, bright and early, the last of the departees from our village will be gone, and so far I'm doing all right.  I'm doing all right because right now it's Thursday night at 9:30 p.m. and I'm normally in my PJs at this time, considering sleep.  I'm doing all right because I haven't hit the points in a week where I'd expect to see them and felt them missing. 
Jenna left first last Friday, and I ran out so fast I didn't get a photo with her when I said farewell.  It took me getting a job and working to figure out that Jenna was pretty awesome.  She is generous and giving in everything that she does, and she taught me that it's OK to just be me. 

Katie was the next to depart on Tuesday.  We didn't really become friends until about 8 months ago.  For some reason she felt hard to get to know, but one day, it just clicked.  She and Donna taught me that doing something hard can also be done gracefully.  Both of them completed a year, unaccompanied, living in a foreign land with their FS family for support.  Katie is strong and compassionate, and I'm so happy to know her.  
Maddy left on Wednesday and it wasn't until I started working that we got to know each other.  She plays a mean game of Cards Against Humanity and she taught me that finding joy in the small things and letting out laughter that spreads joy to those around is truly a gift. 
Donna left Thursday morning. She and Jenna have been friends in Amman forever, so I invaded an established relationship, but for some reason they still welcomed me. Donna has a deadpan wit that catches me off-guard every time, and I'm not kidding that she is someone to watch and to emulate: she does everything and sometimes even makes it look easy.  At the same time, Donna taught me that it's OK to not always have it together, and it's OK to ask for help.  

Tomorrow morning, the last departs.  Justina and Jenna worked together, and thereby worked with me, and I won't forget how kind and helpful and open she has always been. She wore her emotions on her sleeve, but didn't sink under them.  I'm grateful she reinforced that making the right choice is always worth it, even when that decision isn't always the popular one.
It's hard to sink down to encapsulating these amazing women in a few trite words, but it's what I've done.  It's better than having these friendships reduced to something like this:

For the past week we've become the home for all matter of left-behind items.  I'm grateful for more than just "Hey!  We've now got gluten-free X for a year!" because I kind of feel like I've struck the jackpot.  Now, every time I open my cupboards, I see something from a friend and it doesn't make me sad at all but brings a smile to my face. I'm not sure if I'll ever use a Make-At-Home Goat Cheese Kit, but you can bet it'll stay on my shelf a long long while.

In the meantime, I'll raise a cup of Island Coconut on Sunday morning.  To all the friends who have gone on to new adventures, I salute you.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

June in the Foreign Service

Read this: "June Goodbyes" by Donna Gorman

I wasn't there.  I left at about 8 p.m. knowing full well that some of the closest friends I've had here were leaving in the morning.  Mature person that I am, I left in a huff, annoyed at some small thing that Ian did, a cover for feeling anxious about the other emotions about to spill out and wanting to get away from them as quickly as possible. Ian got home late, being the awesome dad he is, allowing Nicholas to get to the very last available minute with one of his closest friends.  The report back says there were many many.. many tears.  I'm positive I wouldn't have handled my own sadness gracefully, much less my son's.

Theirs was the first departure of the "village," the group, the ones I hung out with.  We came late to the game, having only worked our way in a year ago with these folks, and now they're gone.

Most of the rest are very soon to follow... one on Monday, another on Tuesday, another on Thursday...

Another friend said it so aptly - this is the first post we've had that's been about us.  Not purely about our kids as it's been up until now, but us and our friendships, our fun, our opportunity to spend time with people we really like.

For me, that's what makes this June so much harder than the rest.  Come July I'll look about me and feel lost in this desert.  There are some others out there, don't get me wrong, but I wonder if it'll take another year to find my village again.

Farewell Mom. See you soon.

Thanks for coming for a wonderful visit, with the one major thing to come from it: we're safe (generally) and happy (generally).

It's a very late night here in Amman.  At midnight the kids were asleep in the car already.

With the favorite son-in-law.

And me.  Promise I didn't cry.

The coolest people do the dunk tank

Yesterday we had our Community Independence Day event.  Once again we had Ian in the tank, and Katie went in as well - our only woman this year!

So I was walking through the Embassy parking lot today...

...and I thought "Oh cool, Brett and Jenna are here..."

Never mind. *sigh*

The best photo of graduation (not taken by me)

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Grandma's Visit






So what's next?

Graduation 2014 - Jerash, Jordan

Real ancient ruins, not Styrofoam.

That blur on the left is her running to her dad.

I missed the fist bump...

Caps in the air!

No, I was NOT crying.

Doesn't every graduation have bagpipers?
It's been a very long 4 years for this one but she made it and is finally ready to start fresh on a new adventure.  We're proud of who she is growing up to be.

First and Last Days

26 August 2013

17 June 2014

You tell me... who has changed the most (besides Katherine who seems to have from corporeal to invisible... more on her later)?

Thursday, June 12, 2014

10 years ago

As I approach 40, I went through the archives and pulled up my post from when was 30...

"For myself, 2004 was an amazing and wonderful year. We all experienced and enjoyed so many new things from riding on elephants to traveling across New Zealand. Katherine had her First Communion, we saw my parents -twice-, the kids enjoyed a couple of modeling gigs, and we were able to lounge at the beach twice. I wish all years could be as good as this one was to us.

So here you have My Personal Year in Review:

1. What did you do in 2004 that you'd never done before? Traveled to New Zealand, Australia, Singapore, Hong Kong and Thailand. Around the Philippines we took a weekend in Palawan and a weekend in Bohol. We love to travel and being able to finally do it freely was wonderful
2. Did you keep your new years' resolutions, and will you make more for next year? Nope, I'm still just as lousy a cook as I was in January, but have discovered the 1001 Recipes with 4 Ingredients or Less Cookbook. This I can do.
3. Did anyone close to you give birth? Laura did in November. Not only that but she had a homebirth!
4. Did anyone close to you die? No.
5. What countries did you visit? Last year I said "Just the Philippines. 2004 should be quite different." And it was. See #1
6. What would you like to have in 2005 that you lacked in 2004? Plenty of time in the States. Woohoo!
7. What date from 2004 will remain etched upon your memory, and why? December 26, 2004. If the earthquake had been on the same fault line but on the other side of Indonesia, we would have been washed away.
8. What was your biggest achievement of the year? Zorbing? Bridge Climb? Vertical Slide? Not exactly achievements, but facing a fear counts, right?
9. What was your biggest failure? I'll have to think on that one.
10. Did you suffer illness or injury? Nothing serious. Just the crap you get from living in this den of pollution.
11. What was the best thing you bought? A bar in Thailand. No, not a drinking bar that people go to... a rolling bar, you know, a piece of furniture.
12. Whose behavior merited celebration? Rebecca, she's really trying to pull herself together.
13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed? There are a few, but no one in my personal life. Just people I know of and have to roll my eyes.
14. Where did most of your money go? Travel travel travel.
15. What did you get really, really, really excited about? My parents visits.
16. What song will always remind you of 2004? No clue.
17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
i. happier or sadder? Don't know. I could say happier, but I wasn't unhappy last year.
ii. thinner or fatter? Fatter. I've gained another! 5 pounds.
iii. richer or poorer? "Poorer" but only if you're going by $$.
18. What do you wish you'd done more of? Played with the kids
19. What do you wish you'd done less of? Yelled.
20. How will you be spending Christmas? It's done. We spent it at the beach in Bohol Province, on Panglao Island. Heaven.
22. Did you fall in love in 2004? Yup.
24. What was your favorite TV program? CSI and Amazing Race.
25. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year? There are plenty of people I dislike, pity or just don't consider a friend anymore, but I don't actively hate anyone. Takes too much energy.
26. What was the best book you read? _Girl with a Pearl Earring_. My mom suggested it and I enjoyed it. I would have said _Rizal_ by Austin Coates, but I haven't finished it yet.
27. What was your greatest musical discovery? Sadly, nothing new this year.
28. What did you want and get? Quilts for all the kids!
29. What did you want and not get? Same as last year. Yup, it's still on my mind.
30. What was your favorite film of this year? Hrm, have to think on that one.
31. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you? I have no recollection of the actual day, but I turned 30, and I like being 30. I feel like I finally fit my skin.
32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? Ah, again, I'll skip this one.
33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2004? Things haven't changed... jeans and tops.
34. What kept you sane? My husband.
35. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most? None.
36. What political issue stirred you the most? The election.
37. Who did you miss? My parents and Jeff.
38. Who was the best new person you met? Lisa and Kristine.
39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2004: As a family we have a lot of fun. Outside the house. So the lesson... never stay home :)"