Saturday, January 30, 2010

Visiting Mode

I think subconsciously we're gearing up for leaving. It feels like we and those around us are in "visit mode". We saw Chris & Ann last week, which was the first time really since Chris left. Gosh, do we miss them. They are those friends that you may not see for a while, but always feel so comfortable to just be in the same room. They're our handpicked family... and we love them.

(left) old pic of Ann, Chris, Denise, Chris -  (right) Auntie Fran & Ceiba

Bill and Fran came by this week with pizzas & a Christmas present for Ceiba. They've always been close, but I think losing Mom made Fran feel like she needs to look in on us more often. Ceiba sees them as great aunt and uncle. Bill really misses Chris to talk coins and cop stuff. We laugh most of the time we're together!

And tonight my sister Sheila came down to visit. It's near impossible for us to get to see her and also hard for her to get away from her farm. Ceiba was under the weather tonight, but loved meeting her aunt in person instead of pictures. Carrie came over too, and we all had dinner and a great visit. I know as we set out with the Foreign Service, it will get more difficult to get all of our families together at one time. Have been trying to grab the camera more often these days.

(left) Carrie, Ceiba, Sheila, Denise - (right) Denise and Ceiba

So though we are still waiting for the house to sell and the green light to leave IL, I know we're trying to visit as much as we can. When we see everyone, I nag them to get their passports and sense of adventure ready to come visit us!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

25 Random Things

A friend had this still in notes on their Facebook. I smiled to re-read it from oddly almost exactly a year ago. Here's a little "get to know me" session. I'm a total nerd :)

25 Random Things (written Thursday, January 29, 2009 at 9:45pm)

1. There are not enough hours in the day, nor energy in me to accomplish all my to-do's on any given day. Guess I need to plan better and work out more... ug.

2. I won a cat from my teacher in a drawing in 3rd grade, which much to my dismay was eaten by coyotes shortly thereafter.

3. I was put on this earth to hang from the jungle canopy researching plants or dive the oceans discovering new invertebrates. Until our child/children are grown, I'm content to garden in the greenhouse or observe in an aquarium...and teach them all the while.

4. I LOVE to mushroom hunt!

5. The most beautiful photos, I believe, do not contain people.

6. I was the kid who never cried in school. Now I can cry at a commercial on tv or passing an ambulance on the highway.

7. I used to sit in the barn and peel the shells off of quail eggs until they looked like grapes- for fun.

8. Our daughter was conceived in my heart.

9. I dislike coffee, but find smelling in the coffe aisle to be WOW WOW WOW!

10. I once won an award for Best Succulent from the Henry Shaw Cactus and Succulent Society.

11. I learned to salsa dance by watching a dvd in our living room on cold winter nights with good friends. (run on sentence!)

12. My husband is my best friend, even though he grabs my pressure points and handcuffs me for his own fun.

13. I booked our driver in Cambodia by sending an email from Lonely Planet. We ate snails with him and lived to tell about it. Everyday he said "you are even more beautiful today than you were yesterday". Good find, aye?

14. I miss my mom every second of my life.

15. Ceiba is to Samantha (my niece) as Samantha is to me (in age).

16. I am the world's easiest movie critic- just give me good scenery.

17. I carried a snapping turtle home on my first date/hike with Chris, and he still married me.

18. I like possums- they're cute.

19. I grew up in a cornfield until I was 19, and now can't wait to see this whole, great, wonderful world. Making progress year by year.

20. I LOVEEEEE to fish (minnow to marlin)!!!

21. I've had the joys of riding an elephant through the jungle, diving vast oceans, seeing bears in the wild, had whales breach before me, and have been swimming with manatees and rays.

22. I had braces at 30, which helped me get skinny. The braces came off... figure it out. (noted to self, see note 1)

23. I enticed a dyckia brevifolia to bloom, collected seed and propagated new seedlings. Some men find that sexier than being a size 6 (when you find one, let me know- ha ha ha).

24. I love white cake WAY better than chocolate, but hey... cake is cake.

25. I might not wake up one day, so I'll take experience over money in the bank any day.


OK, so San Diego isn't really exotic, but if you live in the Midwest, it's an awefully nice destination. We took a week trip out west the fall of 2004, spending Halloween and my birthday in San Diego and a few days south in Mexico.
San Diego has to be our favorite US destination, and we LOVE Mexico.

TOP: (left) Chris & Denise near La Jolla, (center) Rosarita, MX, (rt) Chris at Los Rocas Beach
BOTTOM: (left) Denise at Quail Botanical Gardens, (center) ship, (rt) Denise at Scripps Oceanographic Inst.

The Quail Botanical Gardens and Scripps Oceanographic Institute were both beautiful. We spent my birthday at area greenhouses, buying plants to take home. Chris was nice and carried boxes for me all day.

We met up with old friends DBs and Char on Halloween. I went to the restroom and came back to this (below).
Shield your eyes! It was late, Halloween and several drinks later. And I can't blame her; he is easy on the eyes!

Our time in Mexico was spent as usual, eating and relaxing by the pool or ocean.
I can never get over how beautiful the Pacific is - it's rocky shore and beautiful sunsets.

TOP: (left) Los Rocas Beach, (center) Denise & Chris at Los Rocas, (rt) Razor State Park
BOTTOM: (left) Denise plant hunting, (center) our hotel, (rt) Chris & Denise in Mexico

In Puerto Nuevo, one morning we were one of the first tourists to arrive for the day. Several restaurant owners verbally battled each other in the street to give us the best deal and gain us for their first customer of the day.
We finally made it inside and to the rooftop for amazing langostas, margaritas and fresh tortillas.
Not many meals have ever topped that one!

ABOVE: (left) lunchtime in Puerto Nuevo, (center) agave, (rt) Chris relaxing
BOTTOM: (left) Denise & harbor seals at La Jolla, (center) Scripps Pier, (rt) us at Razor S.P.

Every time we visit San Diego or Mexico, it's wonderful!
Heck, but I guess every time we travel our mind is just happy seeing something new!
Happy Travels :)

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

City Museum ~ NEW Baby!

On Saturday, we took an impromptu trip to the St. Louis City Museum.
Eric, Michelle & Cora were free, so joined us for a few hours.
The girls had a ball checking out all the colors and sculptures!

                                                  (left) Ceiba and me, (right) WILD Ceiba

We spent a few hours running amuk! Ceiba crashed in the car on the way home and napped a few hours before going to Gma & Gpa's to spend the night.

I'm getting better at letting Ceiba do overnights... though it's wierd to be without her. Gma & Gpa really enjoy her staying over, and I know our time in IL is drawing to a close (if the darn house would sell).

And... I guess it's good for me to have time to rejuvenate too. Saturday night, my cousin Linda and I had dinner at Wang Gang accompanied by nearly 5 hours of conversation and topped off with the late 3-D showing of Avatar. TERRIFIC night! It's been some time since I've walked in the door after 1 AM!

Our Friday overnight date got re-arranged to Satuday due to the NEW BABY!! B&K welcomed baby Brogan on 1/21/10. Everyone is doing great and all are settled in at home :) We are so excited that he is finally here!

(left) Ceiba - rough as a boy!, (center) Eric/Michelle/Cora, (right) the girls taking a break

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Dinner would be so much better

if I could just set out 3 plates instead of 2.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

NeNe's Marshal Law of the Kitchen

Several times each week, my sister and I chat on our drives to work. We catch up, apologize for being busy & not visiting as often as we'd like and occasionally vent about family or work. Our mutual therapy, if you will.

She'll be the first to admit she prefers to avoid confrontation, more of a go-with-the-flow-er. I (maybe because I'm the youngest?) usually stare confrontation down head on, sometimes even sadistically relishing in a good arguement.

She went back to work recently, after a few years overflowing with meal preparation, cleaning, laundry, errands, bills, paperwork, kids' sports, ironing, shopping, ++ at home. Going back to work may have even seemed like a nice break, as long as everyone pulled their own weight at home with the aforementioned chores.

In the beginning, they did pitch in ...

So last night, after working all day and going straight from work to a sport fundraiser meeting, she arrived home late to a family on the couch, no dinner for her, laundry on the floor and a sink full of dirty dishes. Much out of character, she marched into the living room and announced that no longer would the sink be allowed to fill with dirty dishes. Each person WILL start to pick up after themselves and rinse their dishes, place them in the dishwasher and the family would take turns emptying it.

The best part... it was officially declared NeNe's Marshall Law of the Kitchen!
I nearly laughed myself off the road!

Apparently my gripe sessons upon coming home to dirty dishes when our niece or nephew was babysitting had caused their belly aching on more than one occasion :) They were being paid, so I did not want to come home and clean up after them, especially if they had time to sunbath while babysitting. Mean, aren't I?! So adding the new title gave the family speech even more zing!

Am sure I'll be warmly greeted with open arms on our next visit!

* And J/S/J ~ don't be rough on your mom. The above article has be enhanced a tad for Reader entertainment :)

Monday, January 18, 2010

ATTENTION all lurkers

Hey, you know who you are!

Drop a comment from time to time. It fuels the creative fires and entices me to keep writing. It lets me know I'm not talking to myself (though I re-read each posting a million times... sad, isn't it?). I have been basically alone with a toddler and working full-time for just shy of 3 months now, but hope I am not to that talking to myself mode just yet.

Now come on! I've added happy posts, tear jerkers, love, travel posts with pics and adorable baby photos.
What more do you demand of me?!

The security is set to allow anyone to comment. And unless I get a bunch of crazies starting to follow, it'll stay open to all visitors. So you don't have to create an account (even though it's easy) or be a "follower". Just go to the little 0 COMMENTS at the end of each posting and click on it. Then just blab til your heart's content. If you don't have an account and are anonymous, pls just sign at least a name, so I know who you are (and where please if you have an exotic location!).

The traffic feed and counter were added to make myself feel fuzzy knowing there are visitors, even if they only choose to lurk. And to be honest, I have lurked many a foreign service website as well, though getting better about saying "hi" and giving my feedback to fellow bloggers out there. Call it my online soap opera. Who knows, maybe we'll cross paths or get assigned to post together.

And if you are family or friends who enjoy keeping up with us and don't reciprocate...
well, I'll ban you from the blog just like I've deselected from my Christmas card list.
Ha ha... only kidding...well kind of... no really... just kidding.

I like that you enjoy keeping up with us, even if only from the quiet recesses of the internet world.
But we'd like to keep up with you too.
Keep reading, because I am enjoying writing... even if I do end up just talking to myself :)

Sunday, January 17, 2010

DeLong "Had the calling"

Just before signing off tonight, I visited a blog I enjoy - Life After Jerusalem. The below was posted from the Washington Post about Victoria DeLong, the State Departmant Foreign Service Officer who was killed in Tuesday's earthquake in Haiti. I have shared it with you below:

Victoria DeLong was only known U.S. diplomat to die in quake. Victoria DeLong didn't have a favorite country. After serving as a diplomat in so many, from Costa Rica to Congo, choosing one would have been hard. But friends say that few places in her nearly three decades at the State Department touched her the way Haiti did.

Posted there last year, she was struck not only by the poverty but by the resilience of the people, recalled Cesar B. Cabrera, who was the U.S. ambassador to Mauritius and kept in touch with DeLong after she moved from that island nation to Washington and then on to Haiti.

"She said they were very poor, but they were always smiling and they were very nice people," Cabrera, who is retired, said in a telephone interview from Puerto Rico.

DeLong, who was 57 and served as a cultural affairs officer in Port-au-Prince, died in Tuesday's earthquake. She was at her home in the capital city when the quake struck, and she is the only U.S. diplomat known to have perished in the catastrophe.

It was the end of a career that began by chance at a California college. A fellow student was taking a break from the Foreign Service to go back to school, and she raved to DeLong about what a wonderful career the State Department offered.

"I was the one who convinced her to join," said Dorothy Ledger, who was that other student and who remained a close friend. By Ledger's account, it was a career choice that DeLong never regretted.

"She loved it. She absolutely loved it," Ledger said in an interview from Kentucky. "She loved the travel. She loved her job. She just loved all of it."

Over the course of 27 years, DeLong counted Australia, Germany and the Philippines among her postings.
Port Louis, the capital of Mauritius, was her last overseas assignment before Port-au-Prince. Like Haiti, Mauritius is a small nation on an island, but with none of the economic and political instability that have long plagued Haiti.

When Cabrera arrived as the ambassador in 2006, DeLong was already in Mauritius. As part of the small embassy staff, the two worked closely on issues such as terrorism and piracy, which are very much part of the mission, given the proximity to Somalia and the Horn of Africa. Less than a month after his arrival, she accompanied him on a trip to Djibouti to meet with U.S. military officials stationed there. Cabrera soon learned that DeLong shared the passion that he and so many others brought to jobs in the Foreign Service.

"It's a vocation. It's a calling," he said. "She had the calling."

In Haiti, it wasn't just her smarts and determination that impressed Janet A. Sanderson, who was the U.S. ambassador to Haiti from 2006 to 2008. "She had a wonderful sense of humor, which you have to have in Haiti, even under the best of times," Sanderson said.

For DeLong's family, the spirit of their lost loved one is what they want people to remember.
"Victoria cared deeply for her family and friends," her family said late Friday in a written statement. "She was a wonderful sister, friend, and humanitarian; she was cheerful and full of life in all her endeavors and accomplishments."

Statement from the Secretary on Victoria DeLong

This morning I spoke with the family of Victoria DeLong, the Cultural Affairs Officer at our Embassy in Port-Au-Prince who lost her life in the earthquake. I expressed my sincerest condolences on behalf of the men and women of the State Department and the American people. So many have lost their lives in this tragedy. The United Nations has suffered grevious losses. And the Hatian people have endured unimaginable heartbreak. For the State Department, we have lost one of our own. Victoria was a veteran Foreign Service Officer who worked tirelessly to build bridges of understanding and respect between the people of the United States and the people of Haiti. She served her country with distinction and honor, and she will be sorely missed. Victoria's friends and colleagues at the Embassy are working day and night to support vital relief and recovery efforts, and our thoughts, our prayers, and our deepest thanks are with them as well. Along with the military personnel, the search and rescue teams, and all the aid and relief workers now deploying, they represent the unwavering commitment of the United States to stand with Haiti in its hour of need and in the hard days and years to come. My heart is with the DeLong family today, and with all those in Haiti and around the world who have lost loved ones and friends in this disaster.

Forever Family ~ Two Years!

Two years ago today, two beautiful tiny brown feet touched American soil for the first time. After our adoption process of roughly one year, we were all together as a family in our own home. We'd spent three visits in Guatemala bonding as a family in hotel rooms, on car rides, walking around town and venturing about the country. All time we spent was wonderful, but coming "home" was long awaited.

(above left, Ceiba at 4 days old ~ above right, Ceiba at 1 month old)

I could post a thousand pictures and a million words in efforts to express our journey and the way we feel for Ceiba. They'd all fall short. She became our world the moment we dreamt her.

(ABOVE: visit #1 in Guatemala City)
(BELOW: visit #2 in Guatemala City and Lake Atitlan)


I'm eternally thankful to her birthmother and our wonderful foster family in Guatemala, though I no longer think of them every day. Because I don't look at Ceiba and think that she isn't our daughter. She is - though not born from our bodies, she was born in our hearts. And while she may not have our hair or our smiles, she certainly has Chris's inquisitiveness or my temper or our love of nature.

The days of waiting are over. The crying in hotel rooms when we had to leave her have passed. I'll never hold her again as a baby while we ascend over the cloud covered mountains of Guatemala with tears streaming down my face. We don't have to answer "have you heard anything" from loved ones who waited to hold her. The email doesn't get stalked every hour, and I'm not afraid to lay the phone down.

She's here... she's ours... and she's so worth the wait.