Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Honeymoon is Over

I just got run off the road by a big white truck. Luckily, the baby and I were not hurt. I was driving up the mountain road to our house, as a truck was driving down. I had no place to pull off to allow him to pass. So, I slowed as best I could and TRIED to pull off as best I could, hitting a cement pillar/marker in the process. Better to hit the cement marker than to hit a truck head-on, right? It completely destroyed my front passenger side tire. The truck kept barrelling on. I tried to get home as best I could, but it sounded really bad. So, I found a place to pull-off up the road. I called the Embassy and they sent our mobile patrol guys to help me out. Thank goodness for mobile patrol. They changed my tire and got me home.

Yes, every tour we experience a "honeymoon period" where everything is new, exciting, interesting, fascinating and charming. I think when I am in a place for a short time, I tend to see the surface of life, but not until I get settled into life there do I really start scratching beneath that surface. And, then something happens, like a truck running me off the road, that's more a gash than a scratch. Now, I just need to remember that it is the surface, the gash and everything in between that are the true representation of the place, not any of them in isolation. When I reach that conclusion naturally, that's when I know I'm truly settled.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Point of Rosh Hashanah is to not make your friends vomit!

Last night we went to my husband's boss's house for Rosh Hashanah dinner. She took the day off to prepare and I helped. Hubby was in charge of the office in her absence. Normally our youngest son (YS) goes to Embassy care for only a 1/2 day a few days/week. But, today he stayed for the full day, so I could be free to help prepare the dinner. Dinner was to be at 6 PM. Only, hubby had to stay late, which meant that YS had to hang out with him at the office after Embassy care closed. When I asked YS what he did at daddy's office, he replied, "I had a meeting with Daddy and Ms. Sue." Ms. Sue is actually Susan (our Deputy Chief of Mission). Luckily, for us, she was very understanding about the atypical situation at hand. So, hubby and YS arrived at 7 PM for dinner. Still, it was a nice dinner, if not a little late.

Today, we drove to the beautiful old Synagogue here in Sofia for services (most importantly to the boys, to see the shofar blown). We were just about there, when oldest son (OS) vomited all over himself and the car. We made an immediate u-turn and headed home instead. I know it’s a day of "no work," but there was no way I could let vomit sit in the car. I gave hubby the choice, watch the boys or clean the vomit. You can guess which one he chose. So, I spent the next several hours cleaning, cleaning, and cleaning! OS vomited again at home, luckily in the toilet, and then spent the next several hours sleeping. When he awoke, he was still sluggish and tired.

OS asked to watch a movie. I wanted to share one of my all-time favorites with him. So, we watched The Princess Bride together. He loved it as I knew he would. After the movie, he heard kids outside playing and insisted he felt better. I told him, "no, you cannot go out and play." Oh my goodness, you would think the world was about to end. So, we had a long talk about Rosh Hashanah. We discussed how important it is to look at yourself, your choices and what you can do to think about and help others. If he went out to play, he could very well get his friends sick and that wouldn't be a very good thing to do. So, yes, the point of Rosh Hashanah is to not make your friends vomit. And there you have it. He still wasn’t happy about it, but at least he seemed to get that small part of it. We are still working on him to give up some of his toys to take to the orphanage. That is a work in progress. . .

And with that, we will wish all of our Jewish friends and family a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year! Shana Tova Umetukah!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Where to begin?

Well, our sea freight arrived, almost all of it anyway. We had a few damaged items and a few missing items. Our biggest loss was an 11x13 Persian carpet we bought while stationed in Pakistan over 10 years ago. Of course, the boys think the most devastating loss was the missing power cord to the Wii. Talk about disappointment.

So, now all the boxes have been unpacked. But, this is a point of contention in our home. My preference would've been to unpack one room at a time, organizing that room before moving on. My husband, however, insisted that all boxes be unpacked in their appropriate rooms and then items put wherever they will fit for the time being until we have time to better organize. So, I did it my way and he did it his way. We now have our main floor pretty much put away and organized (this is the floor I worked on). All boxes on all floors have been emptied. But, the upstairs and basement are chaos. When I open closets or drawers I feel overwhelmed at the complete lack of meaning, pattern, or place to things. But, I will admit it is nice to have no boxes taking up space and it is also nice to see exactly what it is I need to organize. So much still to be done!

So, one thing that did arrive in decent shape was our Red Crab Sandbox. Only finding play sand is not easy. After hearing all this stuff about silica from quartz based sand, too much dust for little ones to breathe in safely, etc . . . . I started to worry about what we could do. All we were seeing in the stores was cement. And, geese, do they use a lot of cement. Then we saw some pretty colored sand-like substance. But, it turned out to be grout. Hmmm, no, don't really want my kids playing in cement or grout. We couldn't find any type of sand at all. Then, we happened upon a garden nursery with a bunch of sand. It didn't seem dusty at all. We asked where they got it from. Apparently they dug it up from the walls of a cavern on the river. So, it may not be the most ecologically friendly sand, but it appears to be all that is available. And, after searching all day for sand, we are willing to give it a try.

The other thing that arrived was our charcoal grill and chimney. Now, we've been gas grill fans for some time. It's so much easier than charcoal. But, we thought converting our American gas grill to European standard would be too dangerous and European gas grills are 2 - 3 times as much for the same product. So, we decided to go back to charcoal. And, thanks to Alton Brown, I think we have a winner. Back home, we just loved to watch Alton on the Food Channel. My oldest loves to watch cooking shows with me. We have learned so much from Alton too. This, by far, has to be the best tip ever. A chimney starter to light the grill means it lights fast, reliably and without the use of lighter fluid. Oh, and the tip about a drizzle of vegetable oil on the newspaper was fantastic! We tried it for the first time tonight and OMG what a difference. Charcoal is not so hard after all. Alton, we love and miss you very much. When are you going to start putting your full episodes on Hulu????

And with that last ode to Alton, I will say goodnight to all.