Sunday, July 25, 2010

On Our Way

We are on our way! OK so we are not on our way to Malawi just yet. We are on our way to Kentucky where we will get a chance to catch our breath for a few days before we head to DC and then on to post.

San Antonio is where the bulk of our families are located as well as our closest friends. It is the place I miss most in the world. The place I want to be when I have a bad day at post. To our families, the ladies of Mainland Square, and everyone who makes this place home even though we don't live there anymore, thank you for putting up with us for the last few weeks and letting us totally wreck your schedules. I can't wait to see y'all again! Have a great rest of the summer. As for myself the sum total of my plans for the next few weeks involve sitting on the porch swing, sipping sweet tea, and doing as little as possible.

Friday, July 16, 2010

The Blessing and the Curse of Home Leave

I haven't felt much like blogging lately. We are home in Texas. We, or at least most of us, are staying with one one brother-in-law while the teen is staying up the street at the others. We are not really in vacation, although it might look like it to the casual observer. We are actually on homeleave. That is 20 business days stateside between posts as mandated by congress for foreign service personnel. Yes mandated, it is not an optional activity. During this time we need to take care of any medical issues such as dentist visits, OB visits, eye doctor, ect... Aside from that we get to use this time to spend with friends and family and take care of any business that is difficult to deal with from overseas. Also most people use this time to get in some shopping at the wonderland that is Target. This time is both too short and far too long.

Pay attention any of you newbies or wanna-be's reading this. The department pays your plane ticket back to the states and then you are on your own. This means if you don't have a handy brother-in-law that will let you crash at his house you are gonna be out some serious money for hotels or rentals. In all likelihood you will be out a bundle anyway. Just the rental car (with 4 kids the only option for me is a minivan) is setting us back over a grand. Plan ahead for homeleave or you will be broke or taking pay advances. If you are hanging out in a summer rental or a hotel that 20 days (business days - doesn't include weekends or holidays) is going to stretch long and expensive.

Amazingly both of my brother-in-laws live with in a block of my old house. Yes, at one time all three brothers lived in the same small neighborhood. This is a blessing because most of my closest friend still live in the neighborhood and I can walk over for a visit so easily, and that is just wonderful. It also means that I end up walking by my own house. The house where we lived when 3 of my four children were born. The house we had to sell when we started this mad adventure that is FS life. It is hard passing by that house. I really wish we could buy it back and have it again, just keeping it there for homeleave as a refuge. I really miss having a place that is mine, that completely reflects my taste and personality. It doesn't seem to bother me as much when we are overseas. Most of us find ways to personalize the Drexel Horrible.....I mean Drexel Heritage decor and make it our own, at least a little. And anyway everyone at post is living with the same awful furniture you are, unless of course you are in Milan or another unfurnished post. When I am at home I see my friend's houses: one with the mission furniture, gorgeous curtains, and strong bold colors that suit her personality; another with the French Country style clutter, pastel walls and comfy sofas that make her house unique I start missing my house. I chose the wall colors, the floor tile, the curtains, even the light fixtures. The furniture wasn't fancy, but every piece was a piece Dave and I picked out, in a finish or fabric that we liked.

David and I have talked about buying a place or building a little house somewhere. It really doesn't make good financial sense, but it may be that it does make enough emotional sense that we will be seriously looking by the next homeleave. I am finding it increasingly hard to not have a place of my own. The other thing I find hard is that since we are here such a short time it sort of feels like we are the rope in a game of tug-o-war, everybody wants to see us. I have so many more requests for us to get together than there are days of homeleave. We will be leaving with many people unseen and spending so little time with the people we do see. It is heartbreaking, frustrating, and exhausting.

Take today for example: this morning we took the three youngest to the pediatrician for well kid check-ups. After everyone was checked out and Grayson was turned into a pincushion to get him caught up on his shots we headed over to Grampa's house to spend time with another brother-in-law and his wife who had driven in from Missouri to visit while we were here. The kids played with cousins in Grampa's pool while the adults (several other assorted in-laws were there as well) hung-out and visited and watched the kids to make sure all were fine. Then we headed "home" where I cooked dinner for both brother-in-law's families as well as for a sister-in-law, her daughter, and grandson who arrived from Kentucky yesterday. No pity! I enjoy cooking, it relaxes me, tonight it was homemade ricotta gnocchi in light tomato sauce served with rotisserie chicken (from the grocery), bagged salad, and garlic bread. So really all I made was the pasta and sauce, HEB cooked everything else. I like cooking but I know my limits. Now I am blogging while Dave, one brother, one sister, one niece and one nephew play dominoes. Have I ever mentioned that Dave comes from a very large family? Anyway it is the end of a busy day I am tired and still far too wound up to sleep. Tomorrow it is off to the eye doctor for Alonzo and Colin. Grayson and I will hang out here, maybe try to spend some time with some of my friends.

Home leave is a blessing and curse, it is both too long and too short. I can't wait for it to begin and once in the midst of it I often guiltily long for it to be over so we can begin to settle into a new normal, in a new house, in a new country. Being homeless, even temporarily, is hard.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

We're Here!

We made it in to Texas late last night. The flights were mostly uneventful, just a little turbulence. The kids did fine. I was airsick for the first time in years and only just managed to keep from using the barf bag. I used to to get sick every time I traveled. Thank goodness the kids have inherited Dave's iron stomach, the closest I want to a motion sick kids is Jill's blog.

Today we started out first morning in Texas by realizing that the 4th of July parade would actually be healed to day, since tomorrow is Sunday and that means church. Thanks Monica for cluing me in when I stopped this morning to mooch a cup of coffee. The parade was a blast and we will get some pictures up tomorrow.

Now we are at my Mom's house and are heading out for some yummy Texas BBQ! I love Texas. Mom too of course.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Almost Gone

This was not the post I meant to write this morning. I had planned something else entirely. It will have to wait. Today was our last full day in Frankfurt. The last day the kids would go to the Metropolitan School. The last day we would wander down the Zeil. The last day we would walk from our house to Rewe to grab a doner from the Kabab guy. The last day we would eat dinner at the field house. The last day we would sit in the yard with our neighbors watching our kids play together while we talked.

Dave finished up at work yesterday and spent the day with me, he always does when we move. He knows I do not embrace change the way he does. I find change difficult and upsetting. Good choice in lifestyles, huh?

We took care of a few things we had been meaning to do. We walked through the big cemetery down near his work. I like walking through old cemeteries, I find them peaceful, at least in the daylight. We had been meaning to do that since we arrived. We hit up the kitchen supply store downtown, the fancy one that puts William Sanoma to shame, and bought a very nice new knife for the kitchen. We were supposed to do that for our anniversary a few months back since the eleventh anniversary is steel. We always choose a gift together that we will both like, and the last few years we have been trying to go with the traditional gifts, but somehow this year we got busy and didn't get to it until today. We also checked out the new Apple Store to check out the ipads, they are cool but really just seem like a super sized ipod touch. It isn't for me, not right now anyway.

Tonight we are finishing off what has turned out to be a very good, if emotionally charged day, by packing and cleaning. I am glad to have this time to say goodbye to the house that has been our home for two years while the kids are in bed. I can cry tonight, and tomorrow I will (hopefully) be able to stay calm to help them through their tears.

Tomorrow we will wake up in this house for the last time and walk to the bakery down the road for one last pastry. We will say goodbye to our van, which will be heading back to the states to live with Dave's brother. We will board a plane that will take us to Texas where we will visit with old friends and family for a bit before heading out to new adventures.