Thursday, December 31, 2009

St. Simon's Island, GA

On Sunday, we arrived at St. Simon's Island, GA and unpacked at our condo to enjoy the week. Chris showed us around FLETC, and we got to see the crackerjack box that is his room. We journeyed down to the Village and Pier on the island and caught a glimpse of dolphins before sunset.

Chris decided to stay out on the island with us for the week, as opposed to on base. We've loved having dinner and sleeping under the same roof every night. Ceiba and I spend our days at the playground or the beach, though the weather is on the chilly side. We explored Fort Frederica yesterday. And occasionally in the evening, we walk uptown for an ice cream.

Looking forward to a 3 day weekend with Papa!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Down to the Shore

We left out from IL on Christmas night around 10PM and arrived in Atlanta around 6AM, where we checked into a hotel for a day of rest. Thinking it would be the only chance to introduce Ceiba to the Atlanta Aquarium, we planned Saturday around that excursion. She LOVED the Aquarium, and Chris & I always love any place packed with fish!
Here are a few pics :)

Monday, December 21, 2009

The eyes are portals to the soul…

You may not have audible words with a stranger, but a sincere look in their eyes permeates your being and you feel their warmth. Many years ago when I was in my teens, I remember being out shopping for the holidays at the mall. I went to hurriedly pass a family to be on my busy way. Their little girl about 8 years old, holding her mom’s hand, turned back to see me with the most true smile I’d ever seen. She was red headed, freckled and developmentally delayed. She looked so directly at me. It was one of those moments that locks into your mind like a photograph ~ forever. I’ve never forgotten her face or the feeling she gave me with no words, just her genuine smile.

Since advising my employer of our family plans for relocation, I’ve been moved out of my high paced international logistics position so someone else can fill my shoes. Now I work at the peddler window where people off the street come in with metal for recycling. It’s quite a change of pace.

We have many regular customers who forage through trash, roadside litter and even dumpsters for their next paycheck. They are recycling and great for the environment, but if you saw several of them on the street, you may divert your path. You’d probably assume they were homeless. Honestly, I think some of them are homeless. But over the last month, I’ve grown to enjoy many of their odd ways, toothless smiles or words to me throughout the day.

Maybe once they had it all, but through life lost a loved one, lost a good job, saw war first hand or encountered mental illness that changed them. Now they are the empty shell of who they once were or a different person all-together. First hand, I understand how things like that can happen. Never do I feel that I judge less fortunate people, but too often I judge people of (what seems on the outside) good fortune, which isn’t right of me either. My mom really impressed upon all of us to treat others as we would want to be treated. She was a saint and the most genuine person I have even known.

So as it gets colder, I try to work quickly to not keep them outside in the weather. Try to remember their names and address them with warmth. Just try to show them respect and share a smile. When one in particular gets his cash and says “Now I can get a case of beer and a joint!”, I look at him, grin and reply “Or you can go buys some grapes and broccoli. That’d be good for you, Fred!”. He just smiles, laughs to me and says he’ll see me tomorrow.

There have been many peddlers to just give the warmest eye contact, the deep into your soul kind, and wish me a Merry Christmas. They make me feel true kindness and prompt me to put it down on paper and feel thanks for the good fortune we have.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Ceiba's Holiday Program 2009

We had a whirlwind holiday program tonight at the Goddard School. Out of work, pick up Ceiba, gas up the SUV, drive thru McDonalds (reluctantly, but under time constraints for dinner), home, change clothes, potty, grab the camera, out the door and back to school by 1815 for a quick singing program. Wow, was it quick! Rushed into one room for kids on the rug to sing 2 songs - Ceiba would not separate from me in the middle of so many flashes and people, so we cozied over in a corner and tried to self-record Jingle Bells. Our little bell ringer did a great job!

Aunt Carrie, Jake, Samantha and boyfriend Jake came out to see Ceiba's performance. Grandpaand Grandma unfortunately had an unexpected diversion last minute & were sad to miss out.

But we took some pics to share with them and to show Papa :)

Monday, December 14, 2009

Happy Anniversary Mom & Dad H !

Today Chris’s parents are celebrating their 36th wedding anniversary. Happy Anniversary Mom & Dad H ! They are out of town enjoying a little R&R. I must say, they are very good at taking time to enjoy each other and keep romance in their marriage.

I believe a lot of how we “turn out” is accountable to our upbringing and the examples set for us, though there are always cases of the opposite. And I guess it depends on if you have good examples and want to follow them or if you see things in life that you know you do not want to duplicate. We are fortunate to have had some real “pave the path”-ers to learn from. My parents shared 40 years before they passed away and Chris’s now have been married beyond 36 years. It’s nice to grow up watching your parents work to have good marriages and see (and feel) their love everyday.

Even when they’re gone, you still feel it.

Hopefully we nuts won’t fall far from our tree :)

Monday, December 7, 2009

Gift Giving

I have to post this to make Chris laugh and make others smile ...

So what does it mean when you get to the point where you don't buy Christmas/Holiday gifts for each other anymore?

Our first years, gifts were whatever we could scrape up the money to buy- usually clothes, lingerie (newleyweds!) or dinner with theater tickets. Once we bought our first house and were just starting out, every holiday gift was something big for our house- large appliance, new tool, flooring, etc.

This year we'll be together for only a few days, and usually we try to talk about gift arrangements ahead of time.

"I'm going to buy 2 pairs of tactical boots, so do you just want to buy whatever you want for Christmas?" Okay, maybe it wasn't just like that :)

Romance at it's finest! (I jest!)

I laugh, because I know we can be romantic when we want to, but we've also grown comfortable enough to do this kind of thing without drama. Actually, I love that it's this way.

Today I sent him a text: "Thanks Santa, last night I ordered perfume, 2 scarves, Merrell sandals and Seven Years in Tibet for Xmas."

The return text: "And ur giving me crap about a tax deductible holster." Oh, this is another gift Chris picked out to add to the tactical boots. I took it with a smile!

My reply: "My gifts were to look and smell pretty for you!" Hee hee hee. True, but a bit of an stretch.

As we age and get more financially stable, not using the calculator at the grocery store or taking your laundry change into the bank weekly, gifting is not the event it once was. I remember at 8 years old trying to allocate my Christmas money to stretch to each family member, and it was a pretty big family. It envoked so much pride to neatly wrap each present and have the few minutes of anticipation until each loved one opened your gift. I think I gave my brother-in-law John a duck calendar or warm socks every year until I was 18, but he smiled and thanked me just the same. Gifts were a big joy to give as much as receive. It makes me a bit sad that we've gotten away from that. Here's hoping a little one around our house will reignite those traditions.

And I like that Chris's sweet gestures for me happen at the unexpected times. Like when we went to K'auai this summer and the night before we flew out of AZ he handed me a gift. He said I was supposed to open it before we flew out the next morning. The box held a large blue opal pendant, in various hughes of turquoise like the reefs I love. When he saw it, at my favorite local store Beyond Timbuktu, he said it reminded him of the ocean from the air. That was enough romance to give him a voucher for a few years, A+++.

Happy Holiday shopping everyone! Even though it can seem daunting, take a minute to remember what it meant to you when you were young. Maybe write your special someone a note. I know this blog says things to loved ones that I don't always take the time to say when they are in front of me. Try to make time to bake cookies, cut paper snowflakes, cozy up by the fire with some old movies and enjoy the season. Or create a new family tradition! No matter your religion, whether your near family or away or maybe it's the end of a
tough year - ENJOY THIS TIME! And enjoy the spirit in the air, observe the generosity and good will around you. It's out there.... you may just need to slow down long enough to see it :)

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Small Fish.... Big Pond

A big part of me enjoys feeling eclectic, different, exotic (ha ha ha). Friends and family look at our photos, the museum that has become our home or talk about our travels with interest and wonder. The circle we hang in and area we are from is not the biggest melting pot nor always the most adventurous sort. I'd be lying if I said we didn't enjoy that attention sometimes.

The more I get my feelers out and the more I read, the more plain I feel. Going to the Foreign Service Institute in October for the spouse orientation I felt at first, well.... very ordinary, "Midwestern", boring. Later into the sessions though, I had the occasional bathroom or hallway conversations that made me feel a little neat or well traveled, gave some advice to new spouses and calmed foreign travel fears for some.

I've been reading a lot of expat blogs that are so exciting, that it's a bit intimidating hoping we'll fit in or that our lives may seem interesting to someone else. The exotic cross racial married, beautiful born childrened, well traveled, different religioned groups out there are all so interesting.

We'll go ahead and jump in the big pond and hope to be exotic someday :)