Ordinary Days

blog-6557Jack Jr. is really dealing with our recent move a lot differently than I expected.  Yesterday he repeatedly told me that he wanted to “go home” and I told him that home is where we all are together – same as I always do.  It is no longer enough for him.  When I later asked him what he wanted for Christmas (the answer changes daily and is usually good for a laugh) he responded that he wanted a home where we could have his dog.  Ouch.  It just broke my heart for him.  We are in temporary housing (a hotel actually) until my husband’s office finds us a house, and the dog had to stay with my parents for now since we can’t have her in the hotel.

His little heart reflects my own.  Right now, I’m challenged to find the joys in our daily life.   I know in future I’ll look back at this time with only good memories.  (Oh the blessing of selective amnesia – I always remember the good times.  It’s genetic – blame it on my mom who can never remember that she was angry at someone, or had a challenging time.)

Right now, I would give anything for an ordinary day – cooking a meal, cleaning the kitchen, folding my boys’ little shirts and pants, hanging diapers out to dry, maybe a little sewing, a few beautiful books, our carefully selected art on the walls, the messes of toys that mean my boys are playing around.  Coffee with my friends, ordered in a language I can understand.  These things would probably not have made my wish list just six months ago, but it is a stark reminder to be grateful for ordinary days.

As my Spanish improves, we find a home, bring the pup to live with us, and get back into the daily routine of cooking meals, doing laundry, teaching children, and picking up toys, I know ordinary days will return.  I hope I’ll remember to be grateful for the buzzing of the washer and dryer, the clanking of dishes, easy conversations, and the legos underfoot.

PS Great, and timely, essay on Power of Moms about moving and transitions.  Read it here.

The Haul – Lima Style

I found a supermarket today! It is called Vivanda, and what little I saw looked nice. The aisles are super narrow – too narrow for my double umbrella stroller. As a result, Jack jr. Is responsible for most of what you see. I vetoed once or twice, and selected the milk and bleach. As we are still in a hotel room, we really can’t shop much.

As in Egypt, we will wash our produce in a gallon of water with a teaspoon of bleach. This is my small concession to food hygiene as I’m generally not the most careful with the whole cook, peel or forget business. I have eaten salad in restaurants twice now with no ill effects, knock on wood.

Anyways, two avocados, two pears, and a grenadilla will set you back about Sol 5.20. A fresh liter of milk was Sol 4.70. Yikes! The whole haul was Sol 30.90. Fruits and veg seem reasonable, but I find meat and restaurants here to be very expensive.

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On my own

That first work day is certainly where the rubber meets the road, the men and the mice are separated, and the trailing spouse either finds her way, or finds herself wanting.  The spouse, likely the only one to have received language training, is off to work.  The trailing spouse, me, is left at a hotel knowing no Spanish, and having two small boys to entertain and feed.

Now, before I get the eyerolls over not having learned Spanish as a second language, I’ll clarify that I did learn a second language – English.  I even obtained some fluency in a third, German.

Not knowing what else to do, I loaded the boys into the stroller and went for a walk.  We have found a few public gardens where the boys can collect sticks and leaves, always a favorite pastime, and found a playground at the local McDonalds.  I know, I know, how cliché!  The American’s first day in town and she takes her kids to McDonalds.  Honestly though, it is not McDonalds as you know it.  The pastry case and coffee selection rivals Starbucks.  Besides, it was the one place where I knew enough about the menu that I could get my kids lunch.  Even so, I had no idea about some of the options I was asked about, and was so flustered by the experience that I forgot to order any lunch for myself.  Woops.

I still have not met anyone speaking English.  My husband confirmed this, as even the Americans at the embassy speak Spanish all day.  There is an upside to this: I will be forced to learn fast.  The downside is that I will not be able to find work unless I attain fluency.  Nothing else to say about that.

For those following the travails of my blank advent calendar:  The first three ornaments where two balls (one for each boy) and a candy cane.  I have started hand stitching doodles on the tree and love the way it looks.  It has lead to some changes though – I didn’t care for the machine topstitching I initially used to attach the tree, so I’m replacing it with blind stitches (kinda like attaching binding) as I go.  I also like it so much that I’m less enthused about the cheesy felt ornaments.  There may be another calendar entirely next year.  Hmm.

Pockets and buttons are still missing.  Pockets are a lot more of a pain to do than I first thought – mostly because my initial thoughts involved a rotary cutter, mat, and ruler (all still in a box somewhere on the ocean.)  The ornaments have been handed to the boys by Mommy with great enthusiasm, and then pinned to the tree with more enthusiasm.  Enthusiasm makes up for a lot of shortcomings, no?

I apologize for the quality of pictures.  In the next three years I’ll learn lots about flash photography – the light here is terrible!  Captain Jack claims the sun was out briefly yesterday, but I must have blinked that second.

Anyone have suggestions for natural looking light bulbs?

A Blank Slate

blog-3Don’t you love a fresh start?  A blank page in the journal, an empty memory card in the camera, and a brand new month on the calendar.  A new three year posting.  All filled with possibility.

We arrived in Lima late Friday night, and despite the lack of time change, we have been feeling rather out of it the past two days.  Maybe a result of packing until 2:30 am the previous night?  Or sending the poor Captain Jack out to Target at one in the morning to buy another bag?  Or because we arrived to our hotel at 1:30 am after a long day of traveling?  One way or another, we have been easing into things here.

So far, my impressions are all positive.  The restaurants around here are amazing… even simple things such as ice cream are done beautifully – fresh ingredients, carefully prepared, and presented with such style.  The shops are filled with beautiful things, the people are dressed stylishly, the streets are clean, and traffic, while heavy in parts, is very orderly.  There are Christmas trees, and a DJ played Christmas music last night!

My only concern is the weather.  Misty, cloudy, with a chance of more mist and clouds.  We arrived at the right time though, as the fog apparently lifts during the summer.

We are staying in a hotel since housing is not ready for us, and while it is a challenge with two little boys (and a lot of luggage) in a cramped hotel suite, it is also a blessing.  Since we were assigned and traveled in about three weeks, we have no sponsor to help with the transition and it would have been brutal to find a grocery store at 1 am in a foreign city.

Advent1In the spirit of fresh starts, I’ll confess that I didn’t do so well with gratitude month here on the blog.  I did keep a journal though – promise!

Let me also share some other blank pages.  The advent calendar above is currently filled only with the wrinkles it acquired in my luggage.  I am frantically working to make an ornament and sew a pocket during nap time and after bedtime.  Instead of getting to do this when they get up, the boys will hang a little ornament at bedtime.  I’ll share our progress throughout the month.

Happy December friends.