Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Remembering the starting line

In trying to get caught back up in my FS blog reading, I came across a couple blogs which made me think back to when we got started. Though we've only been a part of the FS family for over a year, it's easy to forget the roller coaster ride involved to finally get to work day 1, the official email address or instructions on how to report to training. I've reread my first post a million times and get butterflies every time.

Though we've only been in a short time compared to many, it's already been an adventure. We miss many things about our comfortable life "back home", but continue to anticipate new posts, new vacations and new homes we'll encounter in the next however many years. We continue to feel it was the right choice for our family.

So to those that are waiting, wanting or about to embark on life in the Foreign Service ~ EMBRACE & ENJOY the journey! It is a wild, fun ride. And it's an adrenaline rush that we rarely catch in adult life. Remember to communicate with your family and spouse, thoroughly and often, especially sharing during the extra-exciting orientation time. They too are likely gnawing at the bit for information and stories. Take advantage of the housing (sometimes great, usually free), the training and the hands that reach out to offer a pull out of the sand when you're stuck. And surely take advantage of the genuine hospitality that meets you around each turn... they've been in the same place you're standing and "get it".

And thanks... for reminding all of us how exciting the starting line of this run came be! On your marks!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Many Moons

ago, I was thinking of all the fun ways to announce our pregnancy to the blog. We had a lot of time between finding out at 6 weeks and now being past 15 weeks. It was important to us to have a good first ultrasound before we told loved ones.  I'm no spring chicken, you know?

I cannot tell you (which my husband and family would agree) with how much excitement I anticipated our move to Bangladesh. The first two weeks were right on track. Yes, it is dirty, it is crazy insane, it was super hot, but it was also exotic and new (come aboard, we're expecting you!). Ok well the Love Boat, yep that must have been in DC, because 2 weeks into our move, all went topsy turvy. I started feeling completely yuck 24/7. None of this morning sickness stuff, we're talking all day sickness. Suspicions arose, the calendar agreed and the med unit confirmed. Yep, we were pregnant. Happy- absolutely!! I think I was just a little too queasy to outwardly show my excitement to the nurse practioner who exclaimed the news.

A week later, and ever more nauseous, I headed back to the med unit for blood tests... with no food in my stomach for days... but plenty of water. Not a good combination. I sat in a hot lab for "a while", then got poked for a vein (it was not gentle), then remember saying "I'm seeing stars", then stopped breathing, vomited water luckily only on myself, then had 3 people in my face with a too late pan, was wheeled out while hitting the doors and shortly after landed in a much cooler and comfortable room where they proceeded to put me on a soft bed and made me "please lay back Madam". I proceeded to profusely apologize to everyone within earshot or who walked through the door that I was SO sorry. My favorite motherly, cute Bangla foreign national nurse just smiled and patted me on the belly and said "your on your way to motherhood". Makes me laugh out loud now. Minutes later Chris walked in the door and gave me the smirk and asked "you okay?". Giving a fragile smile and defeated look in return... yes, I was fine. Of course, I had to get blood drawn still (a second poke), so laid back for this one. A few candies later, and I was on the way back home in my pants that looked peed in (just puked on) for a nap.

That ensued for another 10ish weeks, the last 2 finally with some nausea pills. But am feeling much better these days.

Ceiba and I flew to Singapore for a medevac ultrasound on our way to Phuket 2 weeks ago. Kept that on the downlow. The baby looks to be doing well, which was so amazing to see on screen - swimming and spinning, while we counted digits and watched "her" heartbeat. Of course, the sex is always a guesstimate, but looks like Ceiba will have a baby sister! We only hope for a healthy baby. But I must say the thought of sisters is wonderful. I had 3 sisters and couldn't imagine growing up without them. In between hair pulling, ruining each other's clothes and scratch fights, they are built in best friends, confidants and understand you like very few people can.

Feeling the belly growing, going to the bathroom every hour of the day (and night!) and feeling excited about the journey.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010


Chris and I have had ugly $.99 stockings since we've been married. Last year, I made Ceiba a fun stocking for the mantle. This year, Chris designed and I sewed new ones for the rest of us.
Got 'em finished tonight... nothing like being down to the wire for Christmas. 

We can't help but smile when we see them!
What did you ask? 
Why four?
Ohhh... did I fail to mention.
We are EXPECTING A BABY in June!!!!!!!!!! 
Merry Christmas to us :)

Monday, December 20, 2010

Panwa Bay, Thailand

I must have really been relaxed on vacation, because I barely snapped a photo. Sorry! Our resort was out of the way, but very nice. We enjoyed many evenings of room service and many days on the beach. The beach we frequented was nearly void of people. We maybe saw 8-10 other people each day, which was so nice. The sand was clean, the water heavenly and the shells plentiful. It couldn't have been a more relaxing time.
 (above) Denise & Ceiba at the bar, Chris & Ceiba at the beach shack and our secluded beach
(below) Ceiba getting henna tattoo in Patong, Denise & Ceiba with our shell finds
 (above) like father, like daughter - so pretty, aren't they?
(below) our little beach lunch shack and quiet beach
We did venture to Patong (crazy) Beach one day, just for our fill of burgers, shopping and ice cream. Chris and I agreed that we'd chosen well to stay where we did, having seclusion and quiet. Patong would be fun if you were a 20 year old partier... that, we are not.

It was a great getaway and always hard to come back to reality and work. But the holidays are upon us, and we now have a car, so life is good.

Wishing you and yours a warm holiday season filled with friends, family and food!!

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

Prior to our trip to Thailand (which I'll post soon), we had been busy decorating the apartment and baking. Not that the weather is what we are used to this time of year, but there has been a drop in the temps, and the cool 70-80 daytime and sometimes below 65 at night is a welcome treat.

Though a few decorations didn't make it, and our Christmas presents got held up and won't arrive until January, it's still quite festive at our home. Ceiba loves the holiday songs we jam to in the kitchen while baking. We are anxiously awaiting baking a turkey and nice dinner over the weekend, since we were in Bali over Thanksgiving. Last night we received gifts in the mail (thanks Aunt Shell/Uncle Erk and Gma/Gpa)!!!! The area under the (sad tiny on a table) tree is filling up!!

Thursday, December 9, 2010


Oh happy day! Our car arrived today to Dhaka! Two and a half months without a car of our own has been a bummer, but our life changes now!

... well actually, it changes in a week as we are currently in Phuket, Thailand for some rest and beach time. Guess we'll sulk by the sand missing our car, but given the opportunity to be in Dhaka with the car or Phuket with the beach.... well, that's a no brainer.
Adventures await!

Thursday, December 2, 2010


We are just shy of 2 months here in Dhaka. It has been a whirlwind. With confidence, I can say I fit into the "skipped the honeymoon stage" classification. Until now, Dhaka has not been the most hospitable place for us. We arrived to hot hot hot weather, Chris's work has been busy, grocery shopping is well different, we have no car yet, parks and green space really do not exist, etc. I don't think we ever expected it would be easy, and it wasn't.  Sorry, I meant for this post to point out the good things.

This week feels finally like a moving forward time, like a getting comfortable time. Most of our household goods are here, so our apartment feels very homey now. Pictures have been hung on the walls, and we would now be proud to have real company over for a visit. Our car is due next week. We had a nice, rejuvenating get-away to Bali. Ceiba loves school. Chris is getting very comfortable and confident at work. I can walk uptown to the crazy Gulshan shopping circle and know which way to walk, and all without getting run over by a rickshaw.

Today I went out for some Christmas pearls and stopped for some old coins for Chris. The merchant and his son were having their morning tea and invited/insisted I stay to join them. At first I declined with sincere thanks, but gave in when they pulled out a chair for me. In the crowded shop, I found great unexpected company and conversation for a few minutes of our morning. We spoke of Bangladesh and the US, of the metal industry (which they were surprised I had worked in), of ocean shipping, the seasons of the Midwest and of people in general. Upon leaving, I finally had the feeling of comfortableness here in Dhaka. I began to think of how life is getting easier, the market is more enjoyable and how I can see more pleasant moments each day. The cool air, for once, on the walk home reassured it even more.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Thanksgiving in Bali

After 4 days, 2 phone calls, 1 tech at our house and 4 hours to upload 30+ photos…. hope you enjoy a glimpse of our trip to the island of Bali in Indonesia.

We spent the first 4 days at a resort in Medewi Beach, a town in the far southwest of the island, about 3 hours from Kuta/Denpasar. The drive out was slow, due to all the mopeds and big trucks on winding mountain roads. It was a relaxed drive, as horns in Bali are used to say "hi, I'm passing you" instead of Dhaka's lay on the horn "get the hell out of my way, traffic is stopped but I'm going to honk at you anyway" mentality.

The place we stayed was about 2/3 mile from a beautiful, black sand beach. It was secluded, honestly all ours except for the random cow or occasional far off fisherman. The water temperature was perfect and visibility very clear. Medewi Beach is known for its left breaking surf, so we didn't venture out too far. We enjoyed hours of tupperware, sand and waves before deciding our (Chris and my) white bodies should probably seek shade from the sun for a while. 

The beach, pretty pool and scenic grounds are unfortunately about the only nice things we can say about the resort. An ant colony lived in our bungalow. Every morning the bathtub looked like an ant apocalypse and every night it felt like a thousand ants leapt from the thatched bungalow roof onto our bodies while we laid in bed. Not pleasant… very annoying. The a/c struggled to maintain even 85 degrees. So picture us barely sheet covered, sweating in bed with ants falling from the ceiling for 4 nights … not pleasant. That in conjuction with the terrible food, charging for drinking water, having no tv but charging for dvd player, charging for anything they could think of, and charging us to "check in 2 days early" even though we paid for 7 nights and their rooms were not full… sorry, I digress. So anyway, we left after 4 days to head back to town.
above (l to r) - Ceiba pondering life, 1st Catholic church in Bali, terraced rice fields
below (l to r) - near Medewi Beach, bromeliads, us on Legian Beach
above (l to r) - sardine vessels out west, statue in Legian, Balinese dancers with Ceiba
below - Ceiba's favorite part of the trip - Balinese dancers at dinner
above (l to r) - Medewi Beach Retreat, deity, secluded Medewi Beach
below (l to r) - happy Ceiba, Menjangan Island Hindu temple, bat cave
Happily though, we did go to Menjangan Island, a national park on the northwest corner of the island, across the straight from Java, before we left. We rented a driver and headed about 2 hours out to a dive shop. They took us out to the island and reefs for a day of snorkeling. The boat was fun and relaxing, with lunch prepared for us. Ceiba had a terrific time in the water, swimming all day with no complaints. She wore a life jacket and goggles and chased fishes around for hours. Chris and I took turns chasing either the dive guide to see the reef or chasing after the kiddo. By the end of the day, she was jumping off the boat into 80+ feet of water, snorkeling around and then climbing out on the ladder. Crazy parenting? We like to call it personality building and confidence reinforcement…. or just good family fun :) 
above & below- Menjangan Island area and dive shop
+ a very tuckered out little one on the boat trip back to shore
So we meandered back to town, finding a McDonald's on the way, hoorah! We checked into the Ramada and commenced to spend another 4 RELAXING days in a freezing ant-free room with a great in-house restaurant or 100 down the street. The pool was terrific and cool. There was a really interesting traditional Balinese blessing of the building going on during our stay. The beach touched our resort, and shopping was just a step away. 

We were glad to have experienced both sides of the vacation, but were happy to relax and enjoy good food for a few days before returning to Dhaka. Due to the flight times, we also spent 2 quick nights in Bangkok by the airport. We flew Thai Air, whom we heart, and they upgraded us to business class on the 2 longer Bali flights, which was super nice too.

Am sure we'll be trying to head back to Bali during our time at post here in Bangladesh!
above (l & r) - Papa, Mama, Ceiba at Medewi Pool, shrine at Legian hotel
below - Medewi Beach, temples along the road west
 A little sad to miss turkey and pumpkin pie, but have plenty in the pantry and freezer, so we'll save it for Christmas dinner! Hope everyone had a nice holiday!