Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Walking the line. . .

This is solely my opinion and does not intentionally reflect the official or unofficial opinion of any other person or entity. That, and my movers are coming today, so I am avoiding thinking about my task at hand.

Was the war in Iraq worth it? Based on a variety of recent polls and news reports, it would appear that majority opinion among US citizens is that it was NOT. Though, did we really need a poll to tell us that? There are blame games going around and supporters of the war on all the news shows insisting the war was the right thing to do. I'm not even sure what their point is in doing this. Nobody can change the past and it is not going to persuade war-weary Americans to go back to war.

I cannot help but wonder how far all the money spent in Iraq could have gone toward research and development for sustainable energy sources within our own country? Again, beside the point, because we cannot change the past. And, even if we could, we don't actually know what would have happened. Would President Obama have been elected president had we not gone to war in the previous administration? Would we now have President Clinton or President McCain instead? Who knows? The point is that so many things would have been different that we have no way of knowing how those differences would have affected Iraq, the US and the world.

What do we know? We know that regardless of the past mistakes, and clearly there were many from many different people, we have to deal with the situation we have now. So, let's stop the blame game and deal with the reality of the present.

These realities can be found throughout the news stories that all seem to agree, at least, on some core  basics regardless of political leanings.

Reality is that Iran already has a lot of sway and will continue to have such sway with the Shia populations. 

Reality is that the Sunnis do not trust the Shia or Iran.

Reality of the present is that the American public will not support putting thousands of troops on the ground.

Reality is that even if we do put troops on the ground, ISIL would use it as an exceptionally successful recruiting tool.

Reality is that more the West gets involved, the more ISIL will claim that this is not about one sect of Islam against another, but about the West against Islam.

Reality is that if we give weapons to "moderate" rebels in Syria, there is a strong possibility those weapons will end-up in the wrong hands at some point down the road.

Reality is that if we do nothing ISIL grows, if we bomb Syria we support Assad.

Reality in each of the regions is that though united against a common enemy for now, still each region has a variety of factions that at some point will again be fighting each other for power should a partition take place. This still could be a better situation than we have now, but that is above my pay grade (especially since I don't get paid).

What do we do with all of that? I really can't say. But, ignoring reality is not a viable option.

Monday, June 23, 2014

The sweetest thing

I shop at Safeway several times per week. It is at the bottom of our hill and so convenient. Over this last year, I've gotten to know several of the cashiers. Today, I mentioned to one of my favorite cashiers that we are moving this week. She remembered that my husband is away and asked about him. She asked about the boys who she often sees with me. She wished us well and then, after I had already paid, she asked for my Safeway card back. Unsure why, I gave it to her and she applied a $20 coupon that she had sitting by her register, then handed me $20. Wow, wow, wow, such a surprise. What a wonderfully sweet thing to do! Someone did something nice just for the sake of being nice. It really made my day.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

A second time around

When T was in third grade he had a sleep over with seven friends and I swore I would  NEVER allow him to have another birthday sleepover again. Guess what we are doing tonight? T will be away at camp during his birthday, so he decided this was how he wanted to celebrate before he took off for camp. I limited him to two friends, he persuaded me to allow three.  I don't know about this, four 11-year-old boys. They are all great kids, but they are still 11-year-old boys. I've already been told that they plan to stay up all night. I told them to wind it down by midnight. Yeah, I know, but I had to try. We will see. . .

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

It's the small things

Today, I heard from our new landlord at our new posting. He just wrote to tell me that he has a dog door for his dog that he can leave set-up for our girl. I had noticed in pictures of the house that the door to the backyard was a glass door, but not sliding door. It didn't seem possible to set-up a dog door for Sophie. So, I've been worrying how Sophie might adjust to life without a dog door and here our new landlord already has one set-up for her. It's a small thing, yet a big thing. It made me happy.

Monday, June 16, 2014

The janus worm

A worm with two heads. . .am I actually comparing myself to a friggin' janus worm? It is how I feel right now. One side is the side saying to find happiness, look to what I can do, what I can impact and focus my energies on those things, focus on the positive, on life, on love, on my children, on happiness, one step at a time. The other side, trying to pull me in the opposite direction, is focusing on all the things on my plate right now, all the difficulties in my life, all the challenges ahead, focusing on feelings of being overwhelmed, on what I wish were the situation, on worries, on negativity, on wanting to crawl into a cave and pull in a nice big boulder behind me. Ok, I need to stop thinking of myself as a two-headed worm. Yikes!!!

And, thanks to my brother for explaining the janus worm concept to me when we were kids. By the way, I am starting to think this blog has become my cave (hence the increase in posts).

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Sophie the dorkmeister

Our dog is Sophie. She is a street dog from Portugal. We found her when she was about a year old (or so the vet theorized based on the good condition of her teeth). She has been with us for 12.5 years. I never really noticed before that she is a nocturnal creature. I don't know if this is something new or if it is because we installed a dog door for her last year when we moved into this house. For the first time in her life, she has unlimited access to the backyard at any time of her choosing. I swear, all night long I hear her going in and out, in and out, in and out. I don't know what the heck she is doing, but it doesn't involve barking or destroying, so have at it. Still, what the heck?

Poor Sophie, boys are always putting hats, helmets, glasses on the girl. She just sits there and lets them, such a patient girl. She does love her boys!

Good enough

Inevitably, the moves always work out in the end. If I forget to put something in UAB (our quick to arrive, much smaller, air shipment) instead of HHE (our slower to arrive, the majority of our belongings, household goods shipment), I can always buy another. Of course, this is how I now have 5 spatulas. The movers come on the 25th and we move to a hotel for a month, then we drive across country to our next posting. I wish our landlords here would have given us three more weeks, so my husband could have been here to help us make the move and have less time in the hotel, but they will not budge an inch. I have some choice words, but will refrain (at least in writing).

My oldest is going to overnight camp in Canada for three weeks, a few days after we move into the hotel. His first time at such a camp. The camp just sent a booklet (yes, not a list, a booklet) of all the things to pack, but it must fit into two suitcases. So, in addition to the UAB that will come to the hotel with us, we need to make sure we pack-up his camp gear ahead of the movers arrival too.

It will get done. It may not be done well, but it will be "good enough." And, that is all I am shooting for these days.

With antibiotics in working mode, today we will venture out to celebrate Father's Day with our Uncle. T insists he is ready and able for Laser Tag, the planned activity before dinner out. I don't know about this. We will see. . .

Friday, June 13, 2014

No waiting for Sunday

I don't always know what to think when it comes to my oldest child being sick. During school break it started, he had a fever and a cough, but it seemed to improve. He seemed so active and well when pursuing his interests. Then, our five day school break was over. The night before and on school mornings, the cough and tiredness would come, but no fever. It was a stressful week on many fronts, and he and I were both fighting what seemed like a standard summer cold. So, I am feeling quite bad that I didn't take his illness more seriously sooner. His cough would get bad at school and they sent him home. He got better again, so I sent him back after a day home and then it happened again, this time the fever was back in full force. Finally, I decided we needed to go to the doctor.

Poor kid, he is on an inhaler for now and if that doesn't clear him up by Sunday they are treating him for pneumonia. Upon this discovery, I decided maybe my cold that is hanging on needed a look as well. I went to the doctor today and am now on antibiotics and myriad other drugs. Ok, I need to take this illness crap more seriously.

** Ok, so no waiting for Sunday! His fever went down again after the doctor's visit on Thursday, only to spike back up to 102 tonight. Enough is enough, give my boy antibiotics. Call is in to the doctor and hopefully he too will be on the antibiotic gravy train soon.

*** Yay! The doctor called him in antibiotics. Hoping we can kick this illness by the end of the weekend, so my guy can have fun and enjoy all the great activities during the last week of school.

Monday, June 9, 2014


So, my Aunt is my Mom's sister and she and her husband took me in when I was a sophomore in high school. I lived with them during school breaks my first few years of college as well. And, even before I lived with them, I spent a good portion of my non-school, non-work, non-sleep hours at their house. They are the ones who walked me down the aisle when my husband and I renewed our vows. They are the ones to whom we "come home."

I know it is a very South Asian thing to do and I certainly encountered it a lot when working at the Immigrant Visa section in Islamabad, but the term "cousin-brothers" does seem very fitting for the relationship I have with my Aunt and Uncle's two sons. Sometimes it just fits. And, just to be clear, my cousins are not actually both my cousins and my brothers.

The five day weekend

The boys had Wed - Fri off for Shavuot, which is the holiday to honor the giving of the Torah at Mt. Sinai. Or, as the boys refer to it, the holiday we are supposed to eat blintzes. Or, as I refer to it, what the heck am I going to do with these boys for The NEXT FIVE DAYS holiday. Since we are moving to a hotel for a month at the end of June, going away just wasn't all that appealing.

So, we went to our favorite park and figured out how it connects to our favorite little outdoor shopping plaza that has a crepe food cart. Blintzes are very similar to crepes. It was about 1.5 miles each way. A lovely park, a lovely walk, with yummy crepes as our end result. Good start!

The next day we went to a children's museum with my youngest and a friend, while my oldest stayed with another friend. What I thought was allergies for him turned into a bad cold.

Friday we hung at home to rest for the day. Pretty much let all screen time rules drop to the wayside and wasted away our day. :( 

Saturday, the boys had piano lessons followed by a recital in the afternoon. We had a BBQ with family at our place that evening. Then my boys and their little cousin stayed with Aunt/Grandma, while my cousins took me to a dive bar to listen to their friend play country music. I am not typically into country, but it was fun. I came home feeling like I was having bad allergies though.

Turns out, it was my turn for the cold. Sunday, I was absolutely miserable, my youngest had a play date away in the morning and then my boys were absolutely bored for the afternoon; I was in no shape for anything. A friend called and asked the boys for a play date, but I couldn't drive all drugged up on cold meds, and I didn't want to expose anyone to our house full of germs, so said maybe next weekend. The friend's Dad sent me a text offering to come get and drop-off my boys. Wow, really, are you sure? He said that he was, so I am taking him at his word and hoping to G-d the boys behave and he doesn't regret it. Thirty minutes later, off they go and I get a quiet rest. Thank goodness for good friends!!!

And that is how we spent our five day weekend. Now, if I can just get over this fever and cold. Too miserable to sleep and too close to kid pick-up time to take any meds. Grrr!!!

Sunday, June 8, 2014

How not to argue your point

Ok, I just have to comment on this because it is a huge pet peeve of mine.

If you are an obvious far right Republican and you post articles from FOX news to your Facebook page to prove your point, you prove NOTHING.

If you are an obvious far left Democrat and you post articles from MoveOn.Org to your Facebook page to prove your point, you prove NOTHING.

That is all.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Selective memory

Blasted allergies. For all we dreamed about with coming home, I don't know how the hell I forgot about late Spring allergies here. Selective memory I guess. Nothing like having the worst allergy problems since, since, well since last time I lived here during this time of year. K is back on the inhaler after not needing it for over two years (not asthma, just allergy induced wheezing), T is also suffering badly (but his allergies seem bad almost every place we go). If we were going to stay, I would definitely start them on shots. But, every place is so different, I'm told shots designed for here may not do all that much good elsewhere. Oh well, there is good and bad everywhere and this is definitely the bad of here, still there is so much good it certainly won't stop us from coming back.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Deep thoughts not by Jack Handy

I have come to believe that a joyful, healthy, happy life has nothing to do with what others think of us. Rather, it should be more about just finding joy and fulfillment, while also showing and giving compassion, love and care for others. Not for the sake of some tit-for-tat exchange of favors, emotions or care; not for building-up some cosmic good karma; and certainly not from guilt. But, just for the pure experience of relating to other human beings.

I've also been thinking a lot about the difference between ego and self-esteem. All too often, I wonder if we teach our children to build their egos, but not their self-esteem. I am starting to see that ego is built or knocked down by judging ourselves by what others do, say, have or think. It is dependent upon others, often involving comparisons to and validation from others; a very volatile way to live.

Self-esteem, on the other hand, comes from within and cannot be knocked down or built-up by others. It is more dependent on being built from within. Am I trying my best to improve? Am I making progress? Am I actively contributing to the world around me? Am I engaging with others, learning and growing? What can I do to make a difference for the better? I wonder if the only comparison true self-esteem allows is a comparison to self?

Is ego all bad? Maybe what I am calling ego is actually a component of competitive drive, which is an essential motivator for progress for many. Maybe it is a necessary component for progress and achievement. I really don't know. Maybe I've just gone completely off the deep-end and need a good drink and/or a good. . ., well let's just say end to this unaccompanied tour. Regardless, clearly I don't have all of the answers, in fact I barely have any. But, I would love to hear the thoughts of my lurkers and commentators alike.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Two months until we move

We are 40 days away from completing an unaccompanied tour. Living back in the Pacific NW has been wonderful. The kids and I are so ready to have S back with us, but not at all ready to leave. But, leave we must in two months time. This has certainly strengthened my resolve to return "home" for good once we leave State Department life behind.

The recent death of my Uncle (Dad's brother) and my Great Aunt (Grandma's sister) drive home just how much it touches my heart to be close enough to family during such times. For such a tactile/kinesthetic person, I have missed being physically present in the lives of my family. Not just being physically present and available, but emotionally as well. To be able to attend the services and hear and share all the beautiful stories of their lives and see and feel the emotion, caring and love behind such stories. I miss being able to be present in this way; it is so hard to do when we are so far away most of the time. It has been important for the boys and me to be so connected and close to family in good times and in bad for our time back home.

Our sons are getting to really know my family too. They see them all the time, we have BBQs with them, holiday dinners, small get-aways together. It has been wonderful to have the opportunity for the boys to really know the family. We will miss that on a day-to-day basis. But, also, I know we must buy a home here ASAP, so we can start coming back each summer to be "home" and keep these connections alive and growing. In addition to old friends, we  have made some wonderful new friends here too. The boys have learned so much at school, their Hebrew and knowledge of Judaism have grown so much and it has been amazing to see. So many things we will miss from "home."

No matter what happens, or where we go next, I know that having this year back "home" will remain a special time for the boys and me. Though it has been very difficult to have S away for the year, though we've had some trials along the way, it was the right choice.

Stay Alive

My new favorite song by Jose Gonzalez. Poor kids, I keep playing this one over and over and over. Of course, the next song on the playlist is the Pina Colada song, which for some reason they absolutely love. We even had a pina colada night at their insistence - virgin coladas for them of course. :)

By the way, "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" was just a movie that really hit home for me. I do recommend it. Yes, some of it is outlandish, but the message, the message is spot on!