Sunday, December 30, 2012

A New Year (Almost)

Today is my sister's birthday.  YAY!  She is the best sissy in the world and I'm more than lucky to have her.  I thank God every day for the wonderfulness that is My Sister.  She just flew half-way around the world to hang out with us for Christmas and ALL of us loved every second of it.  You wish you had my sissy as your sissy :)

It is also the end of 2012.  And the end of a year means it's time for the dreaded NEW YEARS RESOLUTIONS!  AHHHHHH!  

This year, I'm doing things a little differently.  I'm going to make a JANUARY RESOLUTION.  And that's it.  I'm going to commit to 31 days of some stuff and nothing more.  Why, you ask?  Because it's a lot easier to wrap your mind around, let's say, exercising for 31 days versus A WHOLE YEAR.  Mostly because you and I both know that will not happen.  But, perhaps if I get started with January, it will lend itself to exercising more.

So I'm starting an additional page on my blog called 31 Days of Stuff... I'm going to do three things: eat healthy, exercise, following the Jillian Michaels Ripped in 30 DVD and meal plan, and follow a blog I found called 31 Days to a Better Photo.  In doing those three, I hope to incorporate the forth, which is writing more.  

I'm setting forth my goals for January here:

1.  To get up every day before school (and before kids on the weekend) and do the Ripped in 30 DVD.  For those of you who just chuckled a bit, know that the only time I've been successful exercising, it happened before school.  I can do this.

2.  To follow the meal plan to the best of my ability.

3.  To learn more about my camera and take better photos.

I'm not going to set a weight loss goal just yet.  Ultimately, I'd like to lose the baby weight plus 10lbs by the time the Sprout turns one.  It's doable.  But right now, I just want to focus on starting a healthier lifestyle.  

And taking better pictures.

But that starts tomorrow.  Today, we finish off the Selection Boxes Santa brought :)  

Happy Birthday Sissy Poo!!!!

Unadulterated Happiness

The absolute joy on my toddler's face last night as she busted out of her towel after her bath, grabbed a tube of toothpaste and took off around my room, stopped me in my tracks.  It was the funniest, silliest thing I've ever seen, and she is the queen of funny, silly things.  She was unbelievably happy- giggling and screaming as only a naked toddler with a tube of toothpaste can.  I laughed and said to Dave, "One year olds are weird."

Later in the evening, my darling dearest was feeling a little silly himself and was driving me the tiniest bit batty.  I have informed him, on MANY, MANY occasions, that I do not particularly enjoy being tickled.  I go into defensive mode and cannot and should not be held responsible for any injuries received by the tickler.  He's probably had bruises.  But he doesn't learn.  He seems to think it would be in MY (read: his) best interest for me to learn to like being tickled.

Well, dear sir, that is about as likely as me making the 2016 Olympic gymnastics team.  I'm just saying.

Anyway, I complained a little about the fact that he was annoying me and he said, "Maybe you should act more like a one year old every now and then."

...Crickets...

Maybe I should.  I think I probably take myself a little too seriously at times.  It's hard not to.  I was brought up in a household where I was constantly subjected to criticism.  'Jokes' were often passive-aggressive mutterings about this and that.  Sarcasm was the fuel my family ran on.  So now, when someone (read: Dave) jokes that I never do anything around the house, the 12 year old in me wonders if some part of him believes that.  And then my feelings are hurt.

And then there's the teacher-part of me who isn't sure how to be My Favorite Teacher to some kid.  It's a hard line to find and then walk- being just stern enough to earn their respect, but just fun enough to make them want to be in your class.  It's happened a few times for me, but only with kids who were already 'good' kids and who loved music.  My job is hard because, since leaving Kuwait, I haven't taught music or drama as an elective.  So these poor middle and high school kids are forced to take my class, whether they have any interest in it or not.  And that can make a person VERY aware of the eye-rolling and mutterings under the breath.

So yeah, I think I need to act more like a one year old.  I'm not going to get naked and grab a tube of toothpaste, but I am going to look for the fun, for the FUNNY, for the silly in more things.  And I'm going to laugh like my little Ladybug every now and again- as loud and long as possible, for no other reason than that I can.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Must Love Kids...

I'm back at work which, surprisingly, gives me more time to write.

That's something to think about there.

The Sprout is 2 months today.  She's started smiling for real, not just with gas, and cooing a bit.  Right now, she seems to like her dad a lot more than me, but that's okay.  The Ladybug has been an exceptional big sister, if only by not hitting, sitting on, or stepping on Sprout too often.  She's not really concerned with her and only refers to her- by pointing and saying, "Baby"- if Sprout is crying.  Sometimes she asks to hold her but she doesn't seem to know what to do with her once she's got her.  It's pretty cute to watch.

To catch you up on our life since last month... well, stick this in the First World Problems category.  There is no real day care here and school doesn't start for the kiddos until age three.  One must have a nanny.  We hired a nanny- it was an impulse hire by me in a very desperate situation; it was Friday and school started on Sunday.  To be fair to myself and Nanny J, I did honestly like her.  I thought she displayed some strength and gumption and a little figure-it-out-myselfness that a lot of nannies and housemaids that I've met don't have.  I told Dave, "I like her because I think that if I'm trying to hold the Sprout and the Ladybug is jumping on me, she'll come get the Ladybug and redirect her attention, without me really having to ask."

I could not have been more wrong.  Looking back, I don't think Nanny J liked us much from the get-go.  I think she just needed a job.  She seemed tired and bored and I'm guessing she would've been much happier just plunking the Ladybug down in front of the TV for the whole day, rather than playing with her or going for walks.  She wasn't openly hostile, but she definitely was not receptive to my 'suggestions' of how I wanted things done.  And if I was downstairs, she would kind of tune out- I was left to wrestle a feisty 19 month old while trying to feed a newborn.

*I shall pause her to insert- FWP.  I know that most people HAVE to do that after the 2nd baby is born.  But the fact is- I was paying someone so I didn't have to do that.  I'm just saying.*

Anywho... after she fed the Ladybug moldy blueberries that kept her throwing up all night; after I got an email from a neighbor saying that the Ladybug was running in the street while Nanny J walked and chatted with her friend; after watching her leave the Ladybug at the table to eat crayons while she fed the Sprout and watched cooking shows... I was done.  And apparently so was she.

I will preface the next paragraph by saying I didn't accuse her of stealing, but she thought I did.  She was very defensive and evasive about the whole situation which leads me to believe it's possible she did steal from us.  In the end, however, she was let go because she texted me fifteen minutes AFTER she was supposed to be at my house to say she wasn't coming for the next two days.  I responded by saying that she didn't need to come for any more days.

And now we have Nanny L and she's amazing!  She's sweet and kind and asks me how I want things done.  The Ladybug likes her and I feel safe with her in my home.  She's also a live-in which means she's there if we need her AND she always cleans up after dinner, which is not in her job description but I'm not going to stop her! 


Saturday, October 20, 2012

Dave's Totally Outnumbered

It is nothing but estrogen in our house- poor husband of mine!  We don't even have a boy dog... and he's handling the whole thing marvelously.  Last night, we were watching "Hall Pass" and Owen Wilson's daughter was putting ponytails and ribbons in his hair while he read her a bedtime story.  I looked over at Dave, holding our new little Sprout and said, "That's you in a couple of years, times two!"  And bless him, he smiled and said, "I know."

And I can't wait.

As if you didn't know, the Sprout is here.  She's been here for over a month already and on the one hand, I can't believe it's been that long and I can't believe it hasn't been longer.  It seems like she's always been a part of our family.  We're getting used to having a newborn again, but since it wasn't that long ago since we had the first one, it's not that hard.  The hardest thing has been losing the little free time that we worked so hard to establish.  The Ladybug has a firm 7(ish) pm bedtime.  After bath, books, and bed, mom and dad get to relax.  Well, the Sprout does not seem to have gotten the memo about that.  In fact, she thinks that 7pm is the time to wake up for the day!  We're working to remedy this- yesterday I woke her up at about 4pm and kept her awake, on and off, until bedtime.  It worked!  She fell asleep on her daddy at 8pm and slept until it was time for her night time feeding.  Yay Sprout!

Since having the baby in Bahrain, people, especially IN Bahrain, keep being shocked that I had her here.  I'd be more understanding if people at home were surprised- I know that friends and family still visualize "living in the desert" as living IN the desert... which is not true!  This is a completely modernized country with stores, roads, and even hospitals!  None of which are in tents :)  And to be honest, our birth experience was fantastic!  Here is a recap of the Sprout's journey into the world (rated G for all viewing audiences):

We had an appointment on Saturday, September 15, which was a day after my due date.  Nothing was happening- the Sprout hadn't even dropped and my maternity leave had officially started.  I asked the doctor if it was possible to do an induction because I was tired of being pregnant and I didn't want to lose any of my leave just waiting.  I was ready... but not as ready as I thought!  At the word 'induction,' the doctor had me swept back to the maternity ward and had given me a pill to start the process!  Dave and I both freaked out a bit- we weren't ready RIGHT THEN!  I thought the doctor would tell me to come back the next day or something, not start that minute!  I didn't have my hospital bag, we didn't have anyone lined up to watch the Ladybug or feed the dogs.  Basically, it was not time.  But I was caught up in the flurry of activity and took the pill.  The contractions started but they were mild and far apart.  I stayed in the hospital for a few hours and then they came to give me the second dose of the pill and I said no.  I told them why I wasn't ready and they were fine with it.  So we went home with the expectation that we would go back the next day for the 2nd round of whatever the little pill was.

We got everything situated.  We spent what was supposed to be our last night together as a family of three, hugging and kissing on the Ladybug, promising her lots of love and attention.  It was nice.

The next morning saw us back in the hospital with a packed bag, a Ladybug under the care of the nanny and the dogs fed.  We were ready.

The Sprout was not.  Four hours later, we headed home with the expectation that we would come back when the contractions got stronger.  They didn't.  They stopped.

I stayed home on Monday, mostly because I wasn't sure what I was supposed to do.  I called the doctor and she said, "Come in whenever and we'll try again."  So we got a sub for Dave and headed back on Tuesday.  I casually asked if it was worth it to start an induction- was the baby in the right place for it to even be effective?  The doctor- a very no-nonsense, busy woman- looked at me and said, "What do want to do?"  Tentatively, I said, "C-section?"

I will stop here and say that I know there are a lot of people who are against planned c-sections for no real reason.  I didn't want to have a c-section for the Sprout.  But by this point, I was just ready.  So no judging.

Back to the story.

The doctor looked at her watch, made a phone call and said, "Have her ready in 10 minutes!" And she was gone.  I was swept out of the office and down the hall where my prep team (I've been reading The Hunger Games) started taking blood, getting me changed, and doing all of the things that needed to be done for me to have surgery in 10 minutes.  It was very reminiscent of the Clown Car-ness of my c-section with the Ladybug, and I tried to stay calm.  Before I knew it, I was whisked into the operating room where Dave was NOT allowed to be.  Probably some part of him was really relieved not to have to see my guys again this time, but his absence made me more anxious.

I won't bore you with the details but let me mention that I do not do well with anesthesia.  I felt panicked the moment that my legs went numb.  And, even though I couldn't feel them, I wanted to move them.  I could feel them cleaning my stomach and kept yelling at the doctor, "I can feel that!  Don't start cutting!  I can still feel that!"  I'd had coffee around 8am, not anticipating that I would be in surgery 2 hours later and so I felt nauseous almost immediately.  I also couldn't breathe.  They kept telling me it would be over in two minutes.  They were liars.

Finally, though, I heard that beautiful little scream and they brought around my gorgeous little Sprout.  I was sort of in and out of it for a while but I was able to give her some kisses before they whisked us both away.

The rest of my hospital stay was like being in a 5-star hotel with a strange bed and people helping me to the bathroom (and standing around in there with me to make sure I didn't fall off the toilet and die).  It was really fantastic and the care was unbelievable.  I also healed a lot faster this time, which was really my biggest fear- how do you care for a newborn AND a squirrely toddler when you can barely move?  Luckily, like I said, the healing process was a lot faster and, after a couple of extra days taking it easy at home, I was moving like a slow champ.

And now, we're all getting used to each other.  The Ladybug likes to touch (read: poke and hit) the Sprout a lot so I feel like I'm mostly just running interference when they're in the same room.  The Ladybug is a little more clingy but doesn't seem too bothered by this new little alien.  Pip, our dog, has revised her role as Protector of the Baby by laying next to the bouncy seat whenever the Sprout is in it (actually I think she just thinks that's where she will get the most attention, but I'm going to pretend she's a noble steed, looking out for her charges).  And Dave and I are figuring out the teamwork involved in two little wiggly worms.

While I'm not wishing away this stage or wanting them to grow up too quickly, I do love looking at my children and wondering who they will become.  I can't wait for them to start to play together.  I know the Ladybug will be a great big sister and I'm so excited to watch them grow.  Everyone I know who has a brothers or sisters this close in age has said the same thing- we were and still are best friends.  I really hope that's true for my girls too!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Waiting to Exhale

Technically, I can exhale just fine.  I suppose if I'm waiting for anything, it's to meet the newest member of our family.  Who, it seems, has decided to live indefinitely in my belly. 

Come out, come out, whenever you want!

Once, a few months ago, I started a blog about not really liking surprises.  I can't remember why and I obviously never posted it (or wrote it for that matter) but I remember it had something to do with my baby shower for The Ladybug.  I had NO idea that I was having one.  It was genius really, as my friends actually got me out of the house and had it at my house so when I came home, everyone yelled SURPRISE as I walked in.  I literally almost gave birth right there. 

As much as I liked that my friends had pulled a surprise shower off (I moped for a while, thinking no one loved me and I was going to have to eat worms), I still don't really love surprises.  I like knowing the what/when/how of things.  That's why I usually plan my own birthday parties.  I just like knowing what's going on... or just that SOMETHING is going on. 

Birth- not so predictable.  The last time I had a baby, I went to the doctor on a Thursday and, at the appointment, he casually asked, "Do you want to have a baby now?"  I managed to stammer out a NO!, all the while, looking at Dave to make sure that was the correct answer.  It was.  But we scheduled an induction for the next day.  Part of me really appreciated taking the surprise element out of it.  No more waiting and wondering, no fear of my water breaking at school or in the middle of the night, and, most importantly, I was going to get to meet my sweet Ladybug. 

This time, I'm trying to wait it out.   I'm not sure if an induction was necessary last time.  I'll never really know because A.) I'm not a doctor and B.) I didn't bring the doctor's number with me and C.) I'm not sure he'd admit it was unnecessary if I asked.  But I really don't want to end up having another C-section, if it can be avoided because it was hard enough recovering the first time, without a Ladybug who is definitely not going to be interested in NOT climbing on me. 

But waiting is hard.  And, without getting too whiny, I'm tired and huge and it's hot and there's a watermelon on my bladder. 

So anytime you're ready, I'm ready.  But maybe not at school.  Or in the middle of the night.  I like what little amount of sleep I'm still getting...

Friday, August 24, 2012

Six of one...?

Because at some point down the line this post will amuse me to no end, I'm now going to do a comparison of LIFE IN GUATEMALA vs. LIFE IN BAHRAIN (as experienced in two and a half weeks).

Inevitably, once you've been gone from a place long enough, you seem to forget the worst parts... well, that might not be true.  I guess it depends on where you were and how worst those parts really were.  For example, when we were job-hunting, I was very, VERY hesitant about going to India because the director was telling us about the pollution, the mass quantities of people and the smells, which were all things I hated about Shanghai.  I remembered those things.  But when I talk to others about life in Shanghai, especially after living in the Guat, I am also able to remember how nice it was to feel safe when walking down the street, the ease of getting the most amazing massages, the delicious food and the friends I made.

So it stands to reason that in a few months I will be able to look back quite fondly at my life in Guatemala.  Okay, wait.  I'm not presently looking at my life in Guatemala with disdain.  There was a lot of good and, honestly, I enjoyed it there for the most part.  Like any place, it had its' downs to go with the ups, but I can admit that the ups and downs were fairly close in number.  I didn't hate Guatemala... but it was not always easy.  What place is, though?

Two weeks into life in Bahrain and we're pretty happy.  It's only been two weeks though, and we haven't met the returning staff or any students or done much more than shop and be orientated.  Which is another reason that this post could make me chuckle a bit down the road.  All of my warm-fuzzies towards Bahrain are indicative of that newbie experience; moving to a new place is exciting.  Especially a place that seems to take such good care of its' faculty.

There's every possibility that it's all just a front... I don't think so, but it could happen.

So anyway, here is my comparison post based on SO FAR.  If any of this changes, you don't need to throw it in my face.

GUATEMALA                   VS.                 BAHRAIN
Beautiful weather                                        So very, very hot... and humid
Not so safe                                                  Very safe for walking and playing outside
Small neighborhood with nothing to           Huge neighborhood with pool, golf course and soon,                    do                                                                  grocery store
Hard to find certain items                            This is not  a problem so far
Difficult to order take-out w/o Spanish        WAY too easy to order take-out... there's a hotline
Giant, beautiful campus                                Smallish campus
Huge faculty                                                 Small, close-knit faculty
Driving=death wish                                      Driving=death wish
Gas= $5.00 a gallon                                     Gas= $10 to fill the tank (be jealous)
Friendly, kind locals                                     Friendly, kind locals
No real families, especially with kids           Lots of families with kids (yay for Mommy friends!)

And that's kind of where we stand so far.  I was going to write something about friends, but it's too early to know who we'll be friends with.  Some very good friends were made in Guatemala and I hope that will be the case here, too.

Like I said, only time will tell what life in Bahrain brings.  Ideally, we'd like to be here for a while... if only to not have to move again :)  Fingers crossed, this is a place the H's can call home for a good long time.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Part 2- read me second

So then we went to England.  It was kind of cold but we loved it.  The Ladybug got to go out for walks to the park or to town or to any number of fun places almost every day.  We went to a huge petting zoo, the swimming pool, an amusement park especially for kiddos her age.  It was pretty fantastic.  She loved being able to walk out the back door and play with the ball or swing herself around the laundry line pole.  I loved having two extra sets of hands on board to watch and amuse her.  It was good, good fun and it also went too quickly.

But now we're in Bahrain.  In less than a week, we've mostly settled in.  It's hot as the hottest thing you can think of but it's been really good so far.  There are a few admin and teachers who have already returned, though most won't get here for another few days.  The school is AH-MAZING and gives you just about everything you need to play house for a couple of months until you can buy it yourself (i.e. coffee pots, dishes, towels, pots and pans, etc).  They even had a crib waiting for the Ladybug with a little toy and blanket in it!  I was not expecting that at all.  It was a very nice how-do-you-do.

The school is on the back side of our house, meaning we have a five minute walk there and back.  Dave has gone over almost every day to swim or use the gym.  The Ladybug has gone with him and loves the fact that they have a baby pool that she can walk down into.  Dave has an actual gym with an actual office.  I have my own HUGE classroom (two of them actually), with an office and a practice room.  Dave has already joined the golf club and is very happy about it.  I've found a doctor for me and have recommendations for a kiddo doctor.  There's so much STUFF here... it's nice to be living a first-world life again.

There will be many pictures and stories to come.  It's currently Ramadan and though I think I'm technically exempt from fasting, it feels rude to eat or drink in public so I've had a few bad moments when I've gone just a tad too long without food or drink.  I have to keep remembering to take water with me in the car and sneak a drink here and there.  It's not for much longer, though...

And alas, I'm tired.  Thanks for reading if you got this far.  I'm not gonna promise I'll write more, but I'm gonna try to promise.  We'll just see what happens :)

Ch-ch-ch-changes (PT. 1)

Obviously, I've taken a summer hiatus.  We don't have internet (or phone, for that matter) while we're in the States and though I have the BEST SISSY IN THE WORLD and she loaned us her iPad for the summer, it's not ideal for blogging.  So now, some months after the last entry- was it May?- I'm back and I shall proceed to catch you up on the comings and goings of us.

When last we met our heroic blogger, I believe we found her in the throws of just trying to get the damn dogs out of Guatemala.  It seems like the OIG curse followed us home, however.  We tried to get the dogs the night we arrived and were told there was a hold-up with customs and we would have to come back and get them the next day.  Both of us started wondering if they suspected we were transporting drugs in the dogs and, without knowing it, we both suspected they were possibly going to destroy the dogs.

Lucky us, that wasn't the problem.  The problem was Dave.  He goes in and out of the US a little too often for the liking of the customs people.  I think they really thought they had caught someone.  We were taken into an interrogation room, asked why he's coming in so often, where we got married, and what we were doing here now.  We explained that we were teachers and came for visits at Christmas and in the summers, the same as we did in England.  One of the officers says, "Well, you should've applied for a fiance visa... but I guess since you're technically married..."  Technically?  TECHNICALLY?  We've been married for four years and I was OBVIOUSLY carrying his child.  It's a little more than a technical marriage, bub.

I didn't say that, in case you were wondering.

Then we got asked why we were bringing the dogs this time.  I guess they had to tie it in to the reason we were supposed to be there in the first place.  We explained we were moving to Bahrain and... that was that.  Apparently they were satisfied.  They suggested Dave get an immigration lawyer and start some sort of paperwork, though they couldn't be sure what he needed exactly.

Day 1- welcome home.

The rest of the summer was more stressful than usual.  There was lots of paperwork to get done for the dogs, doctor's appointments to go to for the dogs, official papers to get signed and stamped for the dogs, and various reservations to be made for the dogs.  We actually had very little to do for the human aspect of our family.  The dogs were a completely different story.  Let me save a little time and just say that I spent so much time at the vet that I took them homemade cookies at one point for all their help.

The ladybug had a great summer playing with her cousins and friends, as did her mom and dad.  Dave played some golf and poker, I sat on the couch and got bigger, we all went swimming, visited the Philly side of the family, jumped in the bouncy castle and generally had a blast.  It went too quickly and, as always, I feel like I didn't spend nearly enough time with my loved ones.

And as our time to leave neared, guess what happened?  Yep, the dang dogs again!  We were supposed to be shipping them before we left for England and it just didn't come together.  We had to leave them at a kennel so THE BEST SISSY IN THE WORLD could get them on a plane when all the paperwork from Bahrain was ready.  And she did that.  And she's awesome and amazing and we owe her so much.  But it was just another headache no one needed.

You probably want to take a break now, maybe for the bathroom or some water...?  I'll continue in part two...

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

My Weakness

I'm a member of this mommy board on Facebook (no, you can't join).  Usually, we just ask questions like 'what if my baby does this' or ' is that normal' or post pictures that say 'LOOK AT THE HUGE EFF'ING SPIDER/SNAKE I FOUND IN MY KIDS MOUTH!'  Okay, not in the kids' mouth but in or around the house.  Then everyone gets all yucked out, we swear we won't post those pictures anymore and we don't... for a week or so.

We also post fun, get-to-know-you questions, because even though we've been chatting for wow, about 2 years now, we're just still internet-mommy-board-group friends.

Today someone asked, "What would you tell your 14 year old self?"  And my first thought was NOTHING.  Everything I've gone through has brought me to this place- this place where I have a wonderful husband, a beautiful daughter (with another on the way), a pretty fantastic lifestyle and happiness.  Not like happiness abounding, but enough that I feel content.

Then, I hit some sort of weird emotional wall.  It's the end of the year, end of our time in Guatemala.  People are starting to say their goodbyes with last dinners and last drinks and last trips.  And I'm not really included on any of them.  One friend said, "Well, I'm having a bar-hopping party and, even though I know that's not your thing normally, and especially now since you can't drink, I'm inviting you.  To dinner.  We'll be pretty hammered by then but still, it'd be cool if you came."  And I thought, "Um.  No."  Because it won't be fun for me.  Drunk people are funny for a minute if you're not drunk.  Then they're not funny anymore.

But I was planning to go because I like this girl and she's moving to another part of the world, and I'm moving to another part of the world and I thought it'd be a good chance to at least say goodbye.  Come to find out, she's having a small, intimate dinner with some people this week that does not include bar-hopping.  Something that is definitely more my style.  But I wasn't invited.

I know that my lack of friends is mostly my fault.  I am an adult, I can accept the responsibility.  I am not outgoing, I don't like clubbing or bar-hopping, even when I'm not pregnant.  I'm a homebody and it's usually okay.  I prefer sleep to a lot of other activities.  If I was going to design the perfect hang-out night, it would involve around ten people, dinner and drinks at someone's house with music in the background and the ability to talk to each other.  And, if I wasn't pregnant, I would drink wine and probably get tipsy-ish, talk too much, stay up too late, and it'd be fun.

But it seems like all the people I know want to just get drunk.  And scream and yell and dance have massive hangovers the next day.  That's just not a fun night for me.

I also know that I don't put in as much effort as I should and I can take the blame for that as well.  I'm kind of lazy and we have to be penny-pinchers here.  I also like being at home with my daughter.  I'm always calculating how much something will cost, how long it will take, and if I'll miss seeing the Lady Bug that day.  It's harder to be a social go-getter when the thing you want to go get is waiting for you at home with an adorable grin and a goofy outfit.

Hence, me not being invited many places.  And only getting bummed about it now and then.  Today is a now, apparently.

I need a different group of friends to choose from.  I'm ready for adults with responsibilities and bedtimes to get home to.  I want to talk about what cute thing my kid did today and have other people not only say "awww" but follow it up with something cute their kid did.  I need real life mommy friends.

What did I finally decide to tell my 14- and 34 year old self?  This:  If people wanted to hang out with you, they would.  Which then made me kind of sad.

But I'm also a little hormonal today, so we can blame this whole post on that if we want.


Thursday, May 31, 2012

Cont'd...

Just to prove one of my points from yesterdays post (WHAT- I posted two days in a row???), Dave and I went to the grocery store last night for some, well, groceries.  Shocking, I know.  I needed peanut butter because, through both of my pregnancies, it has served as a constant happiness in my life, especially for breakfast.  And also because I found two recipes that called for peanut butter and we were almost out. 

Guess what?  No peanut butter.  Well, that's not true.  There was mani spread.  Um.  No thanks.  There was also no mac and cheese, save the generic kind and I'm sorry, there is nothing in the world, not even the impending zombie apocalypse that will make me eat generic mac and cheese.  What?  All that's left in the world is generic mac and cheese or becoming a zombie and feasting on brains?  Brains, please!

Disappointing, but not shocking.  The mac and cheese, especially.  It's a good, good day when you can find it at the first store you go to.  The peanut butter was a little more unsettling, and I proceeded to grumble through the next few aisles, until I found the cubed cheese I was looking for, and then I felt slightly better.

So then, we round the corner to the frozen food aisle.  When we first arrived, there was not really an 'aisle' to speak of.  Frozen food consisted of ice cream, ice cream products and pupusas (picture included)... which I can't imagine eating from frozen.  This section has grown by leaps and bounds in the last three years and it seems like there is always something new (hear me now- do NOT take your frozen food aisle(s) for granted!).  Yesterday, it was a full chicken pot pie, already prepared, ready for the oven (only a measly $10).  Dave LOVES anything savory with the word pie in it so he was immediately over the moon.  Right beside the pie was pie pastry AND a fully prepared pie crust!  Seriously, these things have been on countless grocery lists through the last three years and they have rarely been found.  It was like Christmas in May! 

Except we don't need them because we're leaving in less than three weeks.  And Dave knows how to make pie pastry now.  And they were all around $10.  Which is absurd.

Such is the life of an expat.  It's really more of a first-world problem that I can't find peanut butter and mac and cheese... but it's still a problem.  And I will complain because it's my blog.

To quote my beloved husband, "I hate this country." 

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Hasta Nunca...

... well, not yet.  We have 19 days left in Guatemala.  It's exciting and sad.  Mostly exciting.  But a little bit sad.  It's hard to be sad at the end of a year, or even a contract, because you're used to leaving and going home (or on vacation to wherever) anyway, so it doesn't really seem like anything is different until August.  Right now, I'm very excited to get home to GA and see my family and friends.  I want to take the Lady Bug swimming, let her play in the parks, run with her cousins and just be outside, safely, in general.  Seeing my dad and sister and best friends is high on my list of things to do.  Dave just wants to eat and buy stuff.

As with every place I've been, there are things about Guate that I will miss and things that I won't.  I shall now proceed to regal you with that list.

Things I Will Miss:

  • The Typico Breakfast- scrambled eggs (simple, please), refried black beans with cheese, fried plantains and bread (I pass on the tortillas- not a fan)
  • The amazingly beautiful weather- blue skies, big white fluffy clouds
  • VIP Movies at Oakland Mall
  • The friendliness of the local people
  • Antigua and it's freedom
  • How cheap it is to get stuff hemmed, altered, or dry cleaned
  • The excitement of the finding something you needed at the grocery store
  • "Pase adelante!" and "Que tiene un buen vieje!"  
  • The adorableness of my 7th grade girls
  • My big, giant house with a yard for the dogs
  • The fact that my mechanic will not only come pick up my car but bring it back to me when he's done 
  • And of course, the friends that I've made here
Things I Will NOT Miss (this list might be longer than the first one):

  • "Fijese que..." (translates to something close to "I'm sorry, but..."- it's like nails on a chalkboard!)
  • The complete lack of understanding of cause and effect by many of the people of this country- or maybe they understand but they just don't give a rat's ass
  •  Lack of personal space
  • The lack of safety in the city
  • The lack of outside spaces where I can take my child
  • The fact that the Lady Bug probably thinks the only two places that exist in the world are our house and the grocery store
  • The frustration of not being able to find what you need at the grocery store
  • Gringo prices in the markets
  • Being constantly in fear for your life as you drive down any major road- praying you don't get eaten up by a chicken bus
  • How long it takes to get anything done
Hey, that second list wasn't so bad.  I might add more as I think of it through the day.  Or maybe not.  We'll see.

On Saturday, we're going here .  I'm very excited, for me and the Lady Bug.  It's going to be awesome.  I think.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

And on and on and on...

We're back to Square 3.78 with the dogs.  Continental Cargo, as I originally suspected, can't fly Bay's crate on the 2nd leg of the journey because they don't run any planes big enough from Houston to Atlanta.  Actually, the say they can only fit two medium crates or one large crate total.  We have a medium and extra large. 

So now I've emailed Jessica from Delta.  It's not Friday, so I hope she's not quite as busy as she was last time.

I'm really starting to consider setting the dogs free.  Just kidding.  Or am I?

I thought I'd include another fantastic, OIG-tastic adventure for your enjoyment.  I just received a package from my lovely, beautiful Sissy-Pie.  She sent me some prenatal vitamins, of the gummy variety, some delicioso grits, of all varieties, a new outfit and some bath toys for the Lady Bug.  Do you know when she sent it?  Well, it's May... I think she mailed it in February.  Possibly March. 

Let me tell you why it just got here.  My friend L has a Miami address that we use to get stuff to Guatemala.  It means that when we get stuff shipped, instead of paying international rates for shipping and then just crossing our fingers that the ineffective mail system of Guate will actually deliver the item, we pay a company to ENSURE that the item gets here.

After waiting what seemed like a ridiculous amount of time for a package of her own, L called the company and was told, "It'll be there this week."  This went on for three to four weeks.  She was told she had four packages waiting.  They'll all be there this week.

They weren't.  It took no less than five phone calls to figure out that her account was actually closed because she hadn't paid the $15 annual fee... that she had never paid before and knew nothing of.  So she paid it.  And three packages arrived almost immediately. 

None of them were mine.

For reasons unknown, my package took another three weeks to arrive.

Because it's Guatemala.  And that's just how we roll. 

Monday, May 7, 2012

The Tough Get Going

Dog situation update: I got some information from a friend who left with her dog last year.  She suggested Continental Cargo (which, apparently, can be called United too, or, according to Dale from Houston, anything I want, really).  I called.  I sat on hold for 52 minutes before being connected to Dale.  I couldn't help but smile- his accent was fantastic and even though he was not being helpful- well, not in the way I needed him to be- everything he said made me laugh.

Especially the part when he said it wouldn't be hard to get in touch with and deal with United Cargo here in Guatemala.  I openly guffawed at that.  But Dale said he'd been to Guatemala and he knew that it would be okay.

I didn't trust Dale but, as my dogs were still not coming home with us, I had no choice but to go ahead with my attempts to get them on some sort of plane.  Using the information provided by the aforementioned friend, I emailed United Cargo and- shock and joyous surprise- got an almost immediate response.  And now, we are simply waiting for our reservation to be confirmed.  So, it would seem, that the dogs are coming home with us.

Probably.  Never count your chickens in Guatemala.

In other news: We have officially begun the clean out/selling off of acquired things.  It's a long, arduous process because, while I have sold my rugs and desks and tables, I can't actually get rid of them yet.  We still have over a month in Guatemala and I'm not ready to be reduced to sitting on the floor quite yet.  So some things are going- the things we've realized we can live without.  Dave sold the bar- a good and bad thing.  Well, mostly good, if I'm being honest.  The bar was our family's catch-all.  Selling it and moving it out forced us to go through all the junk that we had been squirreling away for two years.  I found the camera I thought I'd left in Georgia.  That's good.  Realizing that this is only the beginning of the purge... bad (realizing that at least no part of my house looks like THAT- good).
 
Sigh.  Bittersweet.  It's always bittersweet.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Finding the Humor

I'll start:

We have two dogs that we would like to take home with us in June.  Having traveled with pets before, I know it's a super huge pain in the ass so I really tried to cover all my bases before booking our tickets.  I researched on United and discovered that Bay's crate wouldn't fit on the 2nd leg of any of the flights out of Guate.  Strike United.  Then came Delta.  I called and made sure that the crates would fit- they will.  It's a non-stop flight so we don't have to worry about them being on the flight for too long or changing planes or anything.  Score one for Delta.  I asked the representative no less than five times, "And you're sure they can go on this flight with me?"  She enthusiastically assured me that they could.

Fast forward a few days later.  A friend of ours was considering adopting Pip.  We love her, but we're not giving her the attention she so desperately wants and I feel bad for her, especially knowing there is another little attention-grabber on the way.  I spend most of my days saying, "Pip, move."  So much so that there's a good possibility that she thinks that's her full name.  She is constantly whacking the Ladybug with her tail and doesn't watch where she's going and, well, she just wants to be on us all the time.  And it just can't happen.  So this friend said he was thinking of getting a dog and we offered her up... but after a weekend of walking her and cleaning up accidents, he decided a dog wasn't for him right now.  Which is fine.  I was just explaining why I waited to call Delta until today.

So I call Delta to reserve a space for the two dogs.  The rest of my day went like this:

Delta Rep (DR): Um.  You can't take dogs on that flight.  Our summer embargo starts on May 15th.
Me:  But I asked about that and was told they could be on the plane.
DR:  Well, they can't.  You can call Cargo.
Me:  Okay.

Delta Cargo (DC):  What?  No, we only handle animals LEAVING the US, not coming into the US.  You'll have to call Delta Cargo in Guatemala..
Me (in my head): NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!  Dear God anything but dealing with a Guatemalan business!
Me (in real life): Okay.

Delta Cargo in Guatemala (DCG- translated into English for your benefit): The only person here who speaks English is Maria Jose.  She's gone for 30 minutes.

An hour later

DCG: Something, something, 45 minutes, something else.

Thirty minutes later- my friend A has agreed to call DCG and speak in Spanish.  All is translated into English for you.


DCG: Oh no, this isn't the number you call for Delta Cargo.  Call this number...

New Number: Hello, Bank of Guatemala.

A attempts to call DCG again, but apparently they've all gone wherever Maria Jose is because suddenly, no one is answering.  We look up a number on Delta's website and call Jessica.

J: Yes, I can help you.  Send me the information for the crates.  But not today.  I'm busy today.

And that is where we stand.  And you absolutely have to laugh.  Because if you didn't laugh, people would be punched.

I really do love these dogs, but I forget what a pain in the ass it is to move them from place to place.  When they have moved on to a better place, we will not get another dog until we live somewhere permanently.  

Of course, that's what I said when Rugby died, too. 

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The end draws nigh...

The official countdown is on- 48 days left in Guatemala.  The last bit of our time in a country seems to fly and drag, all at the same time.  Three years later... wow.  Being able to break the majority of my adult life into sections makes it seem to have passed so quickly.  It has and it hasn't, just like these last six weeks will.  There's so much to do in such a short time, but at the same time, I'm always so eager to finish the school year, get home, relax with family and friends, and start a new adventure.  As always, it is bitter and sweet.

But thinking about it, let's take it back to my high school graduation in1996- June, to be precise.  Since then, I:

  • Spent 4 years in college, arguably something I would do again in a heartbeat, as long as the same exact people lived there with me.
  • Waitress-ed in a roadhouse for 1 1/2 years, making my father extraordinarily proud of the money he spent on my Bachelor of Music Education.  I argue that it was my "gap year"... instead of backpacking across Europe (which, admittedly, I never would've done anyway), I was serving beer and sweeping up peanuts in Suburbia, GA.  In case you're wondering, I would NOT do this again unless absolutely necessary.
  • Taught 2nd-5th graders in the Dominican Republic.  It was the adventure that changed my life and I most definitely would do it again, just to ensure I ended up here.  But it was really freaking hot.
  • Taught 6th-12th graders music, guitar, and drama in Kuwait.  Wait.  I take back the 'hot' part of the aforementioned D.R.  Kuwait was HOT.  But it was a dry heat... I loved my job and I loved my kids.  I met my husband.   I got two dogs.  
  • Taught PreK-4th graders in Shanghai.  There are a few people I love from there, and I know that being there has lead me here.  But I wouldn't go back.  I did not love China.  It was not very Raven.
  • And now... three years in Guatemala.  People actually came to visit us here.  We made some amazing friends, saw a very beautiful part of the world, I lost my momma, and... there's something I'm forgetting.  Hmmm... oh yeah!  My little Ladybug and her little sister, Beansprout (due to arrive in September) came along.  How could I forget that (I didn't really.  I'm just teasing you guys...)?
  • Next: Bahrain.  And eventually a retirement home in Sri Lanka.  According to mi esposo.
It's strange to see  16 years of life laid out so simply.  It's not simple, though.  It's been magical.  It's been amazing and unbelievable and frustrating and exciting.  It's been laughable and infuriating. 

And I sure as hell wouldn't change a minute.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Green-Eyed Monster

I don't read a lot of other blogs.  I feel like I should, but I haven't found many that I LOVE or that I even remember to check.  Usually, someone will suggest something, I'll read the post, maybe even a few others, and then forget about it.  And I think I know the reason.

Reading other people's stuff makes me the teeniest, tiniest bit jealous.  What if they're a better writer than me?  What if they have more followers than me?  What if they're just more interesting?  It kind of makes me mad.  Mostly at myself because I know I WANT to write and I don't.  I know that I'm lazy and tired (a deadly combination for creativity).  I make excuses like, "I'm so busy," or "I don't have enough time," or "I have other things to do."  And while they are excuses, they are true, too. 

But other people who do just as much as me, sometimes more, write.  Daily.  Or at least weekly.  Other people have hundreds of followers, say interesting and funny things, or hell, have published works.  Me?  I've done Nano twice and I write this blog... occasionally. 

I don't feel particularly profound, either. 

And I say "I" a lot. 

My mom used to love my emails when I first moved to the Dominican Republic.  She loved them because I was funny and able to find the humor in the craziness I was surrounded by.  Four countries later, it's either just every day or it's infuriating. 

But today, I vow to find the humor and to make you, me and my mom laugh again.  I will find the funny in all things OIG-tastic (Only in Guatemala).  And I will tell you about them. 

And then I will have more followers, some comments, and perhaps that will spur me onwards towards greatness.  Or at least more frequent writing.

Challenge: Accepted.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Ketchup

I have a one year old now. 

I really expected that I would be a much more sentimental person that I am.  I think of myself as highly emotional, but apparently that really only covers the feisty, fighty emotions.  I am definitely quick to temper, though I have mellowed in my old age.  When Dave and I first started dating, we got into a big fight- I, of course, can't remember what it was about, but I'm sure it was his fault.  I remember screaming at him, wanting to throw things, possibly even jumping on the couch, though that could be another memory of something else.  After the fight was over, he said, "You know, you really don't have to yell at me like that."  Very calmly.  Very non-confrontational.  And I realized he was right.  So I worked hard to stop.  And I have.  I can't remember the last time I really yelled at anything or anything.

But I constantly feel like my emotions are bubbling just under the surface... and yet.  My daughter turned one and I didn't cry or whine that 'my baby isn't a baby anymore.'  More than anything, I find the joy in watching her learn and grow and laugh.  She's so fun!  She was an easy baby- the newborn stage was overwhelming, but only because there was this new person that I was responsible for.  She wasn't fussy or angry or clingy or cry-y.  She ate, she slept, she pooped.  And I thought it was all amazing.  But now... now she is even more amazing! 

For example, last night (and the night before, to be honest) we spent 20 or more minutes playing a version of this game: she would climb from her chair to the couch, throw herself onto her face, crawl to the arm rest, Dave would pull her back onto her face and then scoop her up and put her on the floor, ready to start the game again.  Last nights' game was the same except I scooped her off the coffee table and tossed her onto the couch.  She squealed with delight EVERY SINGLE TIME.  I kept waiting for it to get old, but it didn't.  Both nights, the game only ended because it was bedtime.

You can't help but laugh when a baby laughs- a real, true belly laugh from a one year old might be the best medicine at the end of a long day.  I know I didn't feel quite as tired while we played...

I have a one year old now.  I can't wait to see what this year brings. 

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Out with the Old...

Two years yesterday.  It still feels weird most days.

My mom came to wish me a happy birthday last week.  That's how I choose to interpret it, anyway.  See, a long time ago (too many years now and I think I've mentioned this  before), I lost some friends to a horrible accident.  Not long after the accident, I had a dream where the older boy was there, standing just outside of the main action of the dream, watching.  I told my then-suite mate about it and she said that he had come to tell me he was okay.  Since then, having lost a few more precious people along the way, I have held tight to the belief that my family and friends can come to check in through dreams.  If I  dream that they are there and we are having a conversation or something of the sort, it's just a dream.  If they are just sort of present, not talking, not participating in the action of the dream, it's a visit.  I like that.  Whether it's true or not, I feel better because of it.

So mom came the other night.  At first, she showed up, credit card in hand, offering to buy me a washing machine.  She was so young and beautiful- maybe in her early 20's with her hair still long and flowing down her back.  She might've been in  a track suit, but I can't really recall.  I started to tell her that she didn't need to buy me a washing machine and then it was like I realized that she wasn't really supposed to be there.  Whether I willed it to happen or not, she suddenly stopped talking and drifted off to the side of the dream.  I reached out for her and called "Momma!" and she turned around, took my hand and smiled, then sort of floated away.

It's been almost a week and it is still making me cry.

I don't miss your particular brand of crazy, Mom, but I miss you.  I'm glad you're in heaven, watching over us and being young and beautiful.