Seasons

I don’t know how long ago it was I first heard someone refer to the “seasons of life”. I mean, I’m sure I had heard people talk about life in those terms before, but I think that because of the circumstances of life of that time (3 kids in 3.5 years = almost drowning), it was incredibly hopeful to think of life in terms of seasons. In the midst of extreme chaos (like constantly cleaning up poop off of the floor), it helped to remind myself that this will not last forever, it’s just a season.

I often like to look at old pictures to remind myself how, even though I was convinced life was always going to be that way, it inevitably changes.

*Like the season where I was living without a car, in a walled city, with 2 kids, learning Arabic and picking out my live chicken to watch it be killed, de-feathered and handed to me in a bag 5 minutes later. I truly thought that season would never end, I would never learn Arabic and I would never get used to shopping/cooking in such a foreign culture. And yet, now I’m having trouble going to the grocery store in America and I’m having culture shock all over again.

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*Like the season of having 3 kids under 3 and a half. I often wondered why people used to look at us like we were CRAZY when we traveled, and now I look at that picture and don’t have to wonder anymore! Who is this girl?!? She WAS crazy. I’m pretty sure I lived in a state of blissful ignorance for about 6 years.

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*Like the season when the only way to stay sane was to buckle the baby in the booster seat and give everyone food. This was always my go-to. Food = Silence

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So as we have embarked on completely starting over: new place, new people, new home, new normal; This is what Jay and I keep reminding each other…”It’s just a season”. We had all of these idealistic dreams, plans, hopes about what life would look like in Arizona, and honestly, the most important pieces of our move here have met expectations. But there have been a couple of things that have not quite fallen into place like we thought, and for that we just trust, and pray, and remind ourselves, “It’s just a season”. One those things has been a job for me. I cannot get a job. It’s almost become humorous. I think that I’m 0-12, not kidding. We had pretty much figured out what we needed to live, and were pretty convinced that me working was a non-negotiable. And honestly, I couldn’t wait! I figured all three kids would be in school and I would leave the house and be a life-changer (ok, maybe not really – but that’s what I told myself). But then we decided not to put Hannah in pre-school, and I couldn’t get a job, so here we are.

And yet, in the midst of it, there is peace. I can’t really describe it. We are not walking this journey alone and we can absolutely trust that we are being taken care of. We have already seen this over and over and over again. And I also have a sense that this season may actually be a gift. I read this in the Message translation a couple of weeks ago, and it spoke so clearly to me.

“True to your Word, you let me catch my breath and send me in the right direction. ” Psalm 23

I am literally brought to tears when I read that. While in my mind, this season should be about starting over, finding jobs, settling in; Jesus is giving me this season as a gift to take a deep breath, slow down, and listen. We have vague ideas about who we are, what we’ve learned the past 5 years of living in such intensity, and where we want to go, but really we need to be SENT in the right direction. And I don’t want to set out on my own. The world is telling me, “Get a job! So you can buy more things!” but I believe Jesus is telling me, “Embrace My gift of rest, trust, and just learn to breathe deeply once again.”

So I’m choosing to see this season as my season of Breathing Deeply. And it’s definitely a daily choice of choosing to see it in that light.

What does this season look like for you?!

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A Little (2 month) Update

I’ve been getting lots of questions about how we are doing, settling in, learning our new surroundings, etc. So I thought that one of my bi-annual blog posts was in order. (That is the rate at which I’m at on this blog thing. 🙂 )

So we arrived!! We made it to Phoenix in one piece, both physically and emotionally! 🙂 We have some really gracious friends who are out of town this month, and letting our family stay in (or take over) their house. This has been a gigantic blessing! I can’t imagine doing this transition while staying in a hotel.

We have been here almost 2 weeks, and that time has basically been spent keeping our kids entertained and looking for jobs. (I’m pretty much over re-doing my resume.) The best way to describe our first 2 weeks is a roller coaster. I’m not sure why we thought it would be any different. Our time here thus far has played out exactly the way we told ourselves it would be. And yet, there have been times where we are sitting across from each other in complete silence because there are no more solutions to be found and we can’t figure out why 2 Religion majors aren’t being offered jobs that pay $100,000/yr. (Sidenote: During your freshmen year in college, they should give you a handout that tells you how much each major makes, and whether you will be able to provide for a family of 5 with that income. I’m kidding…but not really. ) Our daily routine involves me looking at Jay and saying, “We’re gonna make it, right?” And He looks back and says, “I think so.” And then we hug. And we pray. And we pray. And we pray more. That’s it. I don’t mean to over – spiritualize it, but it’s the truth. That has been the glue that has kept us on the same page, and in our moments of overwhelming stress, from saying things we will regret 2 seconds later.

On the job front, Jay did get a job at REI. He is working part-time for the summer and just started today! He has also already done some guiding since we got here, which he absolutely loves. So for those pieces of the puzzle, we are so thankful! We are still waiting on that full-time benefits job, so we will just keep looking and praying.

The piece of us moving here that has met or exceeded our expectations is the Church piece. One of the reasons we moved out here was to be a part of a community whose values we love and really connect with, and it has proven to be what we expected. Yes, I know it has only been 2 weeks, and it’s always a honeymoon at the beginning, but for us, it was nice to have our expectations exceeded in regards to a community of people and the way they are loving our Father and the people around them.

So that is us, for now. I figured I would end with a couple of pictures from our first 2 months, because really, what’s a blog post without pictures?!?

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Running Toward

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This may look like just look like any other normal, messy living room. (And really, this is what my house looks like on a regular basis). But on this particular day, this particular mess meant more to me than just another mess I needed to clean up. It meant showing up, running toward.

You see, I have started a habit of Friday Sabbath day. I would love to think that I could be one of those moms that waits to have a Sabbath day until all the kids are home so we could play games together (isn’t that what it means to be a good mom?!). But, if a Sabbath day means giving myself the time and space to rest and commune, than it is not going to happen while playing board games with 3 kids under 6. It is going to happen in complete silence, with a blanket, some coffee and candle.

So when my friend calls on Friday to see if she can come over for coffee, and then realizes it is actually Friday Sabbath day, so then un-invites herself, you always stop her, and say YES. Please come. Coffee is waiting for you.

And also in the moment of un-inviting, there is this hidden, unspoken fight lingering in the background.

I’m not sure if everyone has heard through the grapevine, yet, but the Parks Family is making a big move to America. That’s what makes this picture so beautiful to me in the “running towards” kind of way.

In this expat life, moving and saying “see ya later” is just what you do. There is constant flow of people coming and going and it is equal parts beautiful and life-giving and absolutely devastating. It’s this paradox of living that you feel so deeply when you have lived overseas. The highs are so high and the lows are so low. I think we live life in such an emotionally fragile state most of the time that even the thought of saying goodbyes can be debilitating. So while it is probably unconscious, when people hear you are moving, there are many moments of step-back, inching themselves away, as to not be broken by one more goodbye. No one does it on purpose, but it is the heart defense mechanism. In these moments, I am reminded of how we are MADE to be relational, MADE to want deep, life-giving relationships, and that is why this can be so devastating.

If I’m honest, there is a part of me that wants to pack up secretly and get on a plane in the middle of the night and send everyone a text message that says, “See ya later”. But the love that I have for friends here is too great and too deep and we have shared too much to sneak away.

So when a friend texts and wants to come over, the answer is always, “yes”. I’m proud of her.  Running Towards, not Away in the moments I have here. I kinda feel bad for my friends, because I’m going to be doing a lot of Running Towards in the next couple of months. They are not getting away from me that easily. I know that probably means a lot more chain-reaction tear fests (and letting down my pride that I am an ugly crier), and more beautiful shared memories that can then make for harder goodbyes. But in my book, it’s all worth it. Running Toward is always worth it.

A 2014 Picture Review.

Since I have yet to figure out the easiest way to send Christmas cards to everyone all over the world with a yearly review, I will take the opportunity here to give you a Parks’ 2014 Year in Review.

Before I get to the pictures (don’t worry this won’t take too long!), I feel I should give you a little emotional review of 2014. If I only had 1 word to describe 2014 it would be Waiting. Waiting for our house to sell. Waiting for important emails. Waiting to see Our Father’s purposes in this crazy journey. Waiting to see our kids be nice to one another. Waiting for understanding. Lots and Lots and Lots of Waiting. The number one question we’ve been asked by friends in the last year has been, “Anything yet?!” To which the reply is, “Not Yet.” (Except for our HOUSE!!!! YEAH!!! Which, hopefully, we will close on, on the 7th!) It has been quite an adventure and test of patience, that is for sure. And while there are many things to still be waiting on (will our kids ever get along?!), there are many many things that we have come to be thankful for in this waiting game. We are thankful that our marriage was in such a place to withstand this waiting game. We had a marriage check-up with a counselor back in November and we caught ourselves constantly saying, “Wow, we are glad we didn’t do this marriage check-up a couple of years ago. We were a MESS!” The Counselor asked if we could identify the one thing that was different between then and now, that made such a huge difference, and we both, without a beat, said Prayer. We committed to one another this year to pray with/for each other more then we ever have before in our marriage, and that has made the biggest difference. I know that probably comes across as ultra-spiritual, have it all together, but please hear me when I say that it was a hard discipline, and it did not come to us easily. But let me tell you, we would not have survived this year as a team without it. It was the balm to our souls as we cried, and asked Our Father to be true to His promises. We learned more about His promises then ever before. That Our Father is not a genie in a bottle and that He is not in the business of “If you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours.” That’s not how it works. But if we got right down to it, that’s how a lot of our prayers sounded this year. They were prayers of desperation, and we had a lot to learn. Well, we are still learning, still waiting, still praying. No story tied up with a nice bow, but a heart that is still in waiting.

ok…Well…onto pictures!

20140118-112029.jpgLydia and I went on a surprise mommy/daughter trip to London.

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We spent a beautiful couple of days in Barcelona!

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Jay did lots of climbing.

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We went to the mountains to play in the snow. (These desert kids didn’t last very long, but then again, neither did their mom!)

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We got to visit the Island where Jay lived before we got married.

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We sat through some awesome school programs where we didn’t understand a single word!

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Drank my first Starbucks in this country with my local bestie.

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Cole locked his sisters in the windows. (Lots of room shenanigans!)

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We ate lots of Coucous.

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Celebrated another year of ballet.

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We drove to Spain, and camped along the way.

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Found another amazing beach when my dad came to visit.

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Survived the HOT summer with lots of Spy Kids.

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And lots of trips to the mountains.

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Oh and Lots of popsicles!

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We made new friends!

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Our Beloved JuJu came for a Hot August visit! (She’s a trooper to come at the hottest part of the year with no AC!)

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We went out on a date!

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We were spoiled by local friends.

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We lost a lot of teeth! (7 to be exact!!)

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We learned how to geo-cache!

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Hannah started school! (And her teacher hasn’t stopped laughing!)

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I enjoyed quiet moments for the first time in a long time.

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We had our first family climbing day!

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We celebrated another Eid with friends by eating lots of sheep.

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We celebrated a dear friend’s wedding by dancing the night away. (Literally, the wedding was from 9pm-5am)

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We finally got to visit a part of this amazing country we have been wanting to visit as a family. It did not disappoint!

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We did A LOT of google – translating.

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Jay did A LOT of climbing.

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We found (and retrieved) a dead rat in our oven. (Another story, for another day. Can you see it there in the back left corner?)

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We went to visit friends in the mountains for my first girl’s climbing trip.

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We had an amazing Thanksgiving with 14 adults and 16 kids (under7). At one point I leaned over to Jay and said, “This is my perfect day. I’m so happy right now.” He thinks I’m officially crazy.

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We made Christmas cookies (I psyched myself up all day to let my kids help me. Yes, I’m OCD)

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We drank LOTS of coffee.

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And we survived. In one piece. As a team. Laughing at ourselves and each other.

All By Grace.

November Meal Plan

When I moved to this country, I realized pretty quickly that I was completely not in control. Any semblance of control is thrown out the window when you can’t even buy milk from the corner store. So, for the sake of my own sanity, I started planning my meals monthly. Yes, Monthly. It took too much brain power to do this weekly, so in order to survive, I started doing it monthly. If I could sit down, once a month, and plan out SOMETHING (because really, even now, my life is really not planable), I would be able to stay sane. And it has really worked.

When I mention this onceamonth meal planning, I usually get the same 2 reactions: The first one – “Monthly! You are crazy! How do you do that?!?!” followed closely with the second, “Can you PLEASE tell me what you’re making?!?!”. So that was one thing I wanted to do with this blog – share my monthly meal plans.

I need to give you a couple of disclaimers. #1 – My family has been living the vegetarian lifestyle for the past 3 months (another post for another day), so all of my meals are vegetarian (we do eat eggs). Sometimes they are meals I would usually make with meat, but just sub veggies. So just add meat if you want! #2 – I don’t plan out breakfasts or lunches. For breakfast, we usually have oatmeal, yogurt, fruit or bread. Whatever is there. Lunches are usually leftovers, or omelets or PB & J. My kids eat lunch at school, most days, so packed lunches it is, and I eat whatever there is at home. #3 – I really enjoy cooking and experimenting with new recipes, so many times I will have a meal on my calendar that I have never eaten before. So if you try it and it’s gross, don’t blame me! 🙂 #4 – I will try and put some links to recipes that I plan on using. Usually when I plan my meals, I look on pinterest, or if I think of something I want to make, but don’t know how, I will search for a recipe. After a couple of times of making something, I have usually made it my own and don’t use a recipe anymore. So most of my meals won’t have a recipe attached. #5 – Every Sunday night is Pizza/Football night. So that takes care of one day every week I don’t have to plan. #6 – Because of where we live, we don’t eat any pork. SO if you love bacon, pork, ribs, etc…you won’t find that here. 🙂

Anyway – onto my plan! 🙂

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As we say here, “Bsaha ou Raha” – “To your health and happiness”!

Taghia

I’m not what you would call an “outdoorsy” person. When I was growing up, we did do a little bit of “camping”. And by “camping” I mean traveling the country in a bigasabus motorhome with a TV, oven, microwave and refrigerator and staying at KOA campgrounds. I liked the IDEA of being outdoorsy, and I did have a North Face fleece at one point, which was my token outdoor gear. I was actually a little surprised that Jay wanted to marry me because he was a rock-climbing, LNT kind of guy and I was a comfy couch, toilet, showereveryday kind of girl. I think Jay had an agenda when we got married because the first 2 presents he got for me once we got engaged were a North Face rain jacket and a North Face backpack. I have to admit that I actually cried when I opened those presents. A backpack, really? For a birthday present? For the girl you had just proposed to 2 weeks before? I’m not sure you could get any-less affectionate then that.

Fast-forward 9 and a half years and I think I’ve come a long way. Showering everyday? With three kids, are you kidding? I actually pride myself on how long I can go without washing my hair. And while my wardrobe probably doesn’t scream, “take my hiking!” I can get by. So when Jay started mentioning how he wanted to have a family adventure to a remote part of our country, I was ALL IN from the beginning. The main concern I had was how to bribe our 3 small children to hike for 3 hours without having to carry at least one, probably 2 for most of the time. Around this time, we had friends from America that were planning a trip to visit us, so we suckered them into coming at the perfect time so that they could help us with our kids on this grand adventure! (JK, they were actually really happy to come and help. There was no suckering involved. OK, maybe a little! 🙂 )

There are no roads into this gorge. So we stayed in a village closest to where to road ends and then hiked in from there. It was so amazing! Thankfully, we had hired 2 mules to carry our packs, so the mule guys were happy to have our kids ride with them. This was a life-saver! I’m sure it would have taken us a good 5 or 6 hours if they had not been able to ride. Plus, there were some slightly treacherous parts and we had to cross back and forth over the river a couple of time. It would have been interesting, to say the least.

This place is BEAUTIFUL! They call it the “Yosemite of Morocco” and it did not disappoint. The most amazing thing is that it is practically empty. There is a village back there, but besides that, there were maybe 20 other foreigners there. Mostly rock climbers from Europe, as it is a premier rock-climbing site.

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The trip did not come without some of puking, LOTS of trips to the squatty potties, and some tears. But really, that’s pretty standard for our family and what’s an adventure without a good amount of bodily fluids. 🙂

The Jellaba

Real Talk: I hate to get dressed. Don’t get me wrong, I’m am always wearing clothes, but the mental process of choosing what to wear is pretty much the most exhausting thing ever. You mean, I have to feed everyone 3 meals a day, wash clothes, keep the house somewhat presentable AND pick out clothes for myself to wear everyday. Nope, can’t do it! I am miserably failing at my New Years resolution: Wear REAL clothes more often. I decided sometime around January 1st that Yoga pants and Jay’s t-shirt from when he played little league (when he was 12) were not really cutting it for my daily fashion choices. I have really tried to change, but it’s just so dang exhausting for me!

Enter one of my very favorite things about this culture.

The Jellaba

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This long dress kind-of thing is probably the one cultural thing I have adopted more then any other. Why?! Because I can WEAR MY PJs ALL DAY. I’m serious. The women here (not all, but most) wear their pajamas all day, and when they need to leave the house they throw on their jellaba, a head covering, a cute pair of shoes, some make-up and they look like a million bucks. (unlike them, I’m usually still rocking the flip-flops and no make-up look) But the whole time, under that beautiful Jellaba, they are wearing their PJs. Amazing. It is really helpful when the temperature is 110 degrees outside and I absolutely cannot stand the idea of throwing on jeans and a cardigan. Need to leave the house in shorts and a tank-top? Not a problem, just throw on the jellaba. Need to answer the door but wearing said shorts/tank top? Not a problem, throw on the jellaba. It’s a miracle dress for me, really. 

I usually get some funny looks and stares, because not many foreigners wear them as regularly as I do (which is ok, because I’m used to it!). But they are probably better at putting clothes on then I am. 🙂

Living Within the Cloud of Cultural Secrecy

I knew that moving overseas would mean that I would live a life with more questions than answers. I knew that for a very long while, I would ask, “what?!” about 17,000 times in the midst of conversation because I had absolutely no idea what the person was saying to me.  I knew that there would be cultural questions and unknowns as I figured out why, for instance, and old man would pull a hatchet out of his bag and wave it in front of my kids in the hopes they would stop crying. But no amount of training or preparation could have prepared me for one thing.

The End of the Year School Program.

This is year number 3 of my kids attending a local private school, and I have to say that time has not proved itself to make me more culturally understanding. 

School itself always brings about a huge level of unknown. Since my kids go to a school in 2 languages (neither of which I speak), I pretty much know what is happening about 20% of the time. The kids come home singing cute songs and I’m just as proud as I can be, even though I have no idea what they are saying. Case in point: One day, Lydia came home reciting something in Arabic. I had pretty much convinced myself that she was linguist and was quoting some verses from the Quran, when I called a friend and found out that she was actually saying, “Don’t put your finger in your nose.”

All that to say, we are pretty clueless. We really like the school, and the teachers, and our kids are happy and have friends there, so since they are still young, we are happy with that.

But the End of the School Year program is always shrouded in an extra level of secrecy. Every once in a while, in the months leading up to May, I will hear comments or songs here and there about the school program and what may/may not happen, etc. But the real mystery has always been: When will this “program” be held? and Where?!

Let’s take these Year by Year.

Year 1. Lydia was finishing up her 1st year of school, and we found out that she had been selected to introduce her class’ program to everyone. With a microphone. by herself. It made a little bit of sense, because she was the token white, american girl, but still. She had just turned 5. I had been waiting for about a month for the announcement of when this program would be and as the end of the school year came to a close, I was thinking, “surely, I missed the announcement or something.” I kept asking all of my friends if they knew. Nope, not one person. FINALLY, 3 days before the program, we get the announcement. 3 days. My planning mind has a really hard time with that. Not only that, but the announcement came without a time listed. So I asked Lydia’s teacher. Her response, Priceless. “tey brd la hl.” Which translates literally as, “When the situation cools”. Nope, not kidding. It took me a good long while to finally figure out that the program was going to happen outside, so whenever the weather would get cooler that particular evening, the program would start. I tried to get a ball park number, “Maybe like 7 or 8?!” I asked her. Her Response, “Inshallah” If God Wills. Which can also sometimes translate as the polite, non shameful way of saying, “Probably no, but we’ll see.” 

It ended up being a beautiful evening, that started around 9:30 pm.

Year 2. Lydia and Cole were both in a new school this year, and thankfully, May was a pretty normal month. No traveling, meetings, etc. So we could pretty much just sit around and wait to get the announcement so we could plan the rest of our month. Even though this was a new school, we still did not get word of the school program until about 3 days out. AND this year, new school, new routine. The programs were held in the morning. 9 am. Which totally works for a culture where you can say to your boss, “Oh my kid has a school program, and I won’t be in today.” And not one person bats an eye. Thankfully this year I did not have to sift through the cultural cues in order to figure out the time. But there was still some secrecy, of course. There were 2 different rooms for the program, 1 was the classroom, another was the room with the stage. Jay and I basically followed the lead of the other parents for when we were supposed to switch rooms, stand up, sit down and clap (because, again, not understanding a dang thing, but insanely proud!) We would just look at one another and laugh at our cluelessness

That year was a little less eventful, except for the HUGE fight between some moms that included hitting people with chairs, shoes, pulling hair and the police. (Another blog, for another day)

Year 3. This year (actually just this week). I felt a little more prepared for school life. I knew that the program last year was late May, so while I didn’t know a date, I had been just planning on that. I knew that we were going away from the 6-13, but since I had asked the teachers about the program and told them we were going to be gone, I thought for sure we were in the clear this year. I was thinking we would get back into the swing of life and school on the 14th and the kids would be ready and excited for the programs in the next couple of weeks. OF COURSE, I was wrong. We arrived back to our house at 1:30 am and had been debating all night whether or not I would wake the kids for school. It was Wednesday, only a half day, so I thought maybe I would just let them sleep. But I set my alarm just incase I decided to wake up and take them. At 7:15, when my alarm went off, I decided to just wake them up and make them go. It was A PAIN to wake them and they were SO tired, but I have never been so thankful for that voice in my head when we walked up to school and saw all of Lydia’s classmates in beautiful dresses ready for the school program. Seriously?!?! It was 8:10, the program was at 9. I had my hair on top of my head and pretty much still had pajamas on. I drove home as fast as I could, woke Jay up from a deep sleep, got Hannah ready and we were out the door in 30 mins. I also brought Lydia clothes to change into, since we had not really planned on this surprise program when she got dressed in the morning. I felt a little bit better when I found out from the other moms that they had just told them on Monday afternoon that the program was going to be on Wed Am.

My Sweet Girl reciting something. Don’t ask me. I have no idea. But she is awesome at saying it!

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I found out later that one of my best friends here had tried to call me 13 times (my phone was dead) because she knew I was totally clueless about this program. Those are the relationships that make this crazy life worth it. The friends that will go out of their way to help because they know you are culturally clueless. 🙂

 

Snow Day

 

 

 

 

 

 

It seems funny to post these pictures today, because it was just a week ago that we were basically in a blizzard and today I can barely stand being outside for more than 10 minutes at a time, It is SO HOT! But it really does show the diversity of where we live and how thankful we are that we get to experience a little bit of everything!

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I’m what you would call an “Inside Snow Day” person. I love it, and think it is so beautiful, but my fun-loving husband is welcome to be the Fun Snow Dad!
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Comfort in the Discomfort

Before I moved here, I heard stories of these parties or visits that would last hours and hours, and my first thought was always, “I’ll never survive.” Seriously, that sounded like a really bad dream. How could you possibly sit in a room for hours upon hours, drinking tea and speaking a different language?! And yet, that has become a reality and one that I have come to not just survive, but enjoy.

This, beingcomfortableintheultimatediscomfort, seems to be the theme of my life for the last couple of years. Also, the idea of comfortable is so relative, isn’t it?! I sometimes look at my life and think, “if this were happening to me in America, I would be SO UNCOMFORTABLE! Never, would I Ever!” And yet, I tend to live so out of comfort that there is no box for what “comfort” should be. Case in point, This baby party I went to the other day. I’ll just give you a play by play.

If you follow me on instagram, you will know that I was invited to a baby party (basically a baby shower, but after the baby is born) last week. I was going on day 3 of single-parenting, day 2 of potty training Hannah, and it was at 5:30 on a Thursday evening (dinner time after a long day at school for the big kids). If I’m honest, I decided to go because there would be free food and I was too lazy to cook. 🙂

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I knew this party was going to be a late one. But like I’ve said, I’ve gotten used to hours and hours of sitting. So picture this: I walk into a room FULL of beautifully dressed woman (who have obviously spent a good portion of the day getting ready), a band is playing over a loud speaker (so loud my kids covered their ears the whole time), people are dancing and here I am with my brood of crazies, a too-big long skirt, grey shirt and cardigan, and my needstobewashed hair in a bun. I know 1 person in the entire room, and I am the only foreigner. If I actually took a second to step out of my life for a second, I’m not sure it could get any more uncomfortable.

Let’s just say that when I lived in America I was not quick to put myself in situations where I would be out of place. I liked to know my surroundings and the people who were going to be a part of them. I was very very rarely the “new” girl in anything. My family had lived in my town for 5 generations, I went to the same school for 13 years, there was never really anything “new” about me or my life. Even when I went to college, I roomed with my friend from high school and slowly worked up the nerve to have conversations with people I didn’t know. I don’t think anyone would have pegged me as a “shy” person, per se, but I have always dealt with debilitating insecurity that kept me from doing things that were out of my beautiful comfort zone. And then years later, I was lovingly pulled away from “normalcy” and “comfort” into this crazy neverincontrol life.

And yet this crazy life, this “new girl” thing has become my normal, everyday life and I have learned to love it. Somehow, the sitting for hours and the only-white girl and the crazy kids and the trying to speak a different language and the trying to dance but looking like a fool, has become my normal and I don’t just love it, but in the midst of it I’m so full of JOY I’m brought to tears. (just so you know, there are also been plenty of times that I am brought to tears because I’m so overwhelmed with the fact that I can’t speak the language, know the culture, made a fool of myself, etc…It’s not always a huge joy party…but I try to hold onto the joy moments, so that it’s easier to keep going in the  ijustwanttocrawlinahole moments.)

So I think my definition of a “Good” Party is really different then it was a couple of years ago. Yes, we sat a lot and yes, we were there for 4 hours before we actually ate dinner and yes, my kids’ bedtime was 10:30 that night, but somehow the fact that I should have been uncomfortable, but wasn’t, made it the best party I’ve ever been too. Oh and the dancing the night away was pretty awesome too!

IMG_1511(Just in case you want to see what a typical party is like, I took a little video so you can experience it!)

Baby Party