Sunday, April 20, 2014

It's Easter!

Happy Easter! I hope you're having a nice day!

We have had some fun with the secular side of the holiday: an Easter egg hunt and baskets from the Bunny. The kids even got to take pictures with real bunnies! That photo shoot went a lot better than when we took pictures with the Easter Bunny. Alice was terrified for that one. She doesn't seem to like mascot-type animals. She didn't just sit on his lap and cry though—she was very forceful in trying to fling herself off of his lap. It was pretty impressive. (See below for photo evidence.)

On the sacred side of things, we've been enjoying that as well! Jill can pronounce "resurrection," and when I asked her why we celebrate Easter, she told me it is because Jesus died and was resurrected. When I asked her why that was important, she told me it meant that we can live again, like how Tabitha is alive now in heaven.

I know moms always say that their kids are growing up so quickly, but those responses really made me think of how time as flown. Just a few years ago she was toddling around like Alice and then a year or so later she would have said "eggs and the Easter Bunny." What a girl.

Here are two of my favorite Easter videos.

I really like this positive reminder. Sometimes life does seem dark and all the things going on in the world seem impossibly sad, and I need to remember that there is good coming—in this life or the next.

I couldn't find the way to embed this next video, but click on this link to go view it. It talks about all of the things we have in our life because of Jesus Christ, like eternal life and second chances and forgiveness.

If Jeff's paperwork isn't complete before the next Foreign Service training session begins, then he will be sent on his next assignment, which is Chad for two whole months. Obviously, being separated from my husband for two months is not too thrilling of a prospect, especially given all of the separation before Brazil. But whenever I think "woe is me" thoughts or about how hard it will be, I remind myself that my life is actually super easy. I am not widow. I have a wonderful husband. I live in America in comfort. And because of Christ, I know that my husband and I will always be together—during this life on Earth and in the next. Because of Him I have hope that sustains me through all of the dark Fridays.

And for a little cuteness, here. :)

And as proof that I unintentionally tortured Alice. You have to admit that her persistence is admirable. I love how Daniel and Jill are just chill throughout Alice's freakout and then all smiles with the Bunny once she is gone.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Looking forward (and back)

I finally made it home to Virginia last Friday evening. It feels really good to be home. It is kind of crazy that in the past five months, poor Alice has had to get used to six new bedrooms and cribs. I am usually alway up for a crazy road trip, but I would really like to just stay settled for a while.

Big news: Jeff passed the final level of examination for the Foreign Service. He has received a conditional offer of employment from the State Department as a Foreign Service Specialist. It is conditional upon his passing the medical examination and receiving top secret security clearance. He already has top secret security clearance for his job contracting with the OBO, but it was given through the Department of Defense, and apparently for the Foreign Service, it needs to be from Diplomatic Security, so it needs to be transferred. Jeff's medical exams are Friday and Monday.

The next training session for Foreign Service facility managers begins the beginning of June. The jury is out on whether paper can actually be pushed fast enough for Jeff's medical and security clearances to make it all the way through whosever hands they have to pass through to make him eligible for the June class.

The following class doesn't begin until September. We assume the powers that be can get everything in order for him to be in that class.

We'll see.

In other exciting news about my life that I have no control over, if Jeff isn't in the June class, it is looking like he will be in Africa. He has been assigned to two and a half months' doing a TDY (temporary duty) at an embassy in Chad.

I thrive on all this uncertainty.


I do.


But I do survive quite well.

Sharing the hammock

Being back in the States has made me think of some things that I learned during my time in Brazil. Pretty much everyone I see asks me "how was it?" but there usually isn't enough time to say more than "great" or "wonderful." I don't want to feel like I am rubbing it in their faces that I skipped the massive amounts of snow they got (but they are the ones who asked!). Being asked so frequently though has made me stop and think about how it was. I already posted what I missed about Brazil. Now here are a few things I learned while I was there.

I don't need people as much as I thought I did.
I have always been a "people person," someone who really thrives by being in contact with others all the time. In Brazil, I did not have a car, and I did not live close enough to people from the embassy or church to walk to their homes, so excluding the times when people gave me rides, I spent a lot of time at home with my kids. And it was fine.

Our farmers do something to our vegetables.
Vegetables and fruit in Brazil do not look picture perfect like vegetables and fruit in a supermarket in the United States. It kind of worries me, wondering what we have done to ours to make them look the way they do. How much engineering and how many modifications have occurred? Also, after having been raised on Midwestern sweet corn, I really can't enjoy corn on the cob that is not Midwestern sweet corn. But Brazilians really have us on fruit. Their fruit is amazing. Although they don't have nearly as many kinds of apples as we have. They have lots of yummy tropical fruits. And many more kinds of bananas. They also seem to have fresh fruit all the time. But it definitely was an adjustment of how ridiculous being a picky eater is. You eat what you can get. And if you don't go shopping early enough in the morning, you will not be able to get celery. They do stock it at the store, but not very much. It is not a common vegetable there.

Humidity makes my hair feel fabulous.
I don't really have anything else to say about this one except that leaving humid, rainy Brasilia and coming back to dry, dry, bone dry winter in Michigan, Nebraska, and Ohio was brutal on my hair. Now in Virginia (and that much further into spring and away from winter), my hair is feeling smooth again. I love humidity for my hair.

I am brave.
It took a lot of courage to leave my house on the occasions when I did have the car. I am not very talented driving a manual, and I am not accustomed to driving in large cities. On one trip, it took me over an hour to go somewhere fifteen minutes away, because I kept missing the right roundabout turnaround. It was unbelievably frustrating and scary. The streets, in some places, almost felt more like parking lots. On the plus side, there was randomly someone juggling on a unicycle in the intersection that I passed four times, so the kids enjoyed that. It also made me feel brave, because I did not have a cell phone or a GPS, so on more than one occasion I had to get out of my car and ask complete strangers for directions. I learned a few times that strangers do not always know where things are. :) But I always made it to my destination eventually! I also felt brave in making friends. It takes a lot of energy and honesty to make friends, and being honest—being real—always requires bravery. At least for me.

I have little self control when it comes to ebooks.
Perhaps I should write that I have no self control when it comes to ebooks. I wish you could rent ebooks. I wish my library had a better selection of ebooks. I wish Amazon Prime had a more impressive owner's lending library. I wish I were't so behind on my goodreads reviews . . . :)

Being so close to this new foreign life has caused me to reflect on friendships. I have left a lot of friends (and family) recently. I left amazing friends in Ohio. I left great friends in Brazil. And soon I will be leaving wonderful friends in Virginia. Pretty much, the rest of my life will be leaving friends. (And being left by friends.) Instead of having a few good friends for twenty years. I will have twenty good friends for a few years each.

I am sad at the missed opportunity to grow with other people, to be in a community for such a long time, to have a real home town and roots.

But I am also looking forward to the opportunity of getting to sample so much of humanity. To make, perhaps not as deep an impact on a few, but a small impact on many.

Dancing and singing in the rain!

I really wonder where we will end up. Asia? Africa? South America? Europe? Siberia? A random island? Australia? Canada? I do know one thing: It is going to be quite an adventure. So while one corner of my heart longs for a backyard adjacent to my sister's in Nebraska, the rest of me is really excited about everything to come.

In other news, I am a lot lighter than I was a year ago. Forty pounds lighter, in fact, than when I gave birth to Alice. Since I have been back in Virginia, four different friends, upon first seeing me, have made some sort of comment about how much skinnier I look than before leaving for Brazil. I am trying to feel complimented about this and not just wonder how fat I must have looked before . . . And even though I am that much skinnier, Jill still is thinking about a baby in my belly. Only yesterday she double checked to make sure I didn't have one. That girl is baby hungry!