The Stuff I Miss

I am beyond thrilled to be back in the Homeland, no doubt. But there were some pretty sweet perks of living overseas. We had a great year in Bahrain for a lot of reasons. One day soon, I’ll attempt to put some of that into words. But for now, here are a few things that I’m already missing about our life in Bahrain.

1. Cheap ethnic food. Each weekend, we’d trek it out to our favorite Indian place, located in a particularly non-American (but safe, don’t worry Marmy!) part of town. I’m missing it. We walked out of Khazana not having spent $5 for our family on GOOD food. The waiters loved Campbell, and they were kind to us. Quality food, solid service, minimal cost. Thankfully, we have some old favorite spots in NOVA, but our Bahraini haunts will always be close to my heart. I became very attached to our weekend routine that always involved these places.

2. Small town living. In Bahrain, especially within the military community, everyone was connected to everyone. I was buddies with my hair dresser. The hubs played soccer with the husband of our kind day care director (got that?), so we hung out weekly. Our babysitter’s mother sewed us some pillows, and their family became sweet friends of mine. My colleague, who recruited and helped get me hired, became one of my closest friends. Community was close and all around. We never wanted for a social outlet–our weekends were booked, but not in an overwhelming way. DC has always felt more anonymous and less personal for us. If we have multiple “things” per weekend, they’re with different groups of people who are all disconnected. Somehow, that feels more exhausting.

3. Space. We have downsized by a couple thousand feet. So there’s that. We are a wee bit stressed about where our furniture is going to fit in our 900 square foot row house. Currently, I’m in denial and avoiding thinking about it. (Our temporary furniture currently consists of one recliner, one table, and a bed, which feels sparse. Our shipment of furniture should be here in a few weeks, and that will be interesting.)

4. Sunlight. I woke up (most days) at 5:30 to run in Bahrain, and it was always a beautiful and peaceful time . The sun started to peak out at 4:30 am, so I always caught a lovely sunrise without feeling like I was running in the dark. Since being home, I’ve been shocked that it has stayed dark until 7 am! So my attempts at an early morning jog have been foiled by uncooperative sun/light patterns.

And so, we are missing many aspects of life in Bahrain. Mostly for me, though, I miss the relationships. The friends I developed there were unique, fun, and really special.  This includes the kind staff at Campbell’s day care, who treated all of us more like friends and family than students/parents. We bonded quickly with these friends due to living abroad and sharing the craziness of that experience.  The families we came to know will always be so dear to my heart.

 

October 15th

IMG_2302Today is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day, established to encourage people to recognize and come together around the difficulty of losing babies to stillbirth, ectopic pregnancy, miscarriage and other reasons. I didn’t realize there was a day dedicated to this experienced until I discovered a few posts about it around the web today. Shauna’s piece, in particular, struck just the right chord (for me) of acknowledging the loss and encouraging us that, though the sadness always remains, it does heal slowly with time and because of those people who walk with us in the middle of it.

“If you’ve lost a pregnancy or an infant, I’m so sorry. I’m so very, very sorry.

This is what I know, what I’ve learned: the pain will recede, and you weren’t made to walk this road alone.

Writing this reminds me of those days, those weeks, the tears and the anger, the fear, the deep sense of despair. But it also brings me back to holding Aaron’s hand so tight I thought I’d break it, to my dad carrying me from the car to the cottage, post-surgery, to tulips and phone calls and people who carried my broken heart with me. There may be no more sacred or significant acts than those.”

I wrote here about my miscarriage this spring. That loss has been incredibly raw and painful, and also strange in so many ways. But she’s right, remembering those who “carried my broken heart with me,” and continue to do so, has been truly unforgettable.

The Good Stuff

IMG_3114We’ve been back in the States a little over a week now. Campbell and I rested up and played in Charlottesville for a few days before I headed up to DC to start work. This week we’ve been scattered to the winds: the hubs and Finn are still in Bahrain, Campbell is with my in-laws in Cville, and I’m in the Capital City slogging it out. (Just kidding, don’t pity me, the first week is always low-key.) Here are some things I’ve enjoyed this past week–the things that are just so darn good about stateside living and that surprised me as little comforts of home…

  • Fall. I’ve relished throwing on my light jacket, wearing pants that cover my ankles and long-sleeves. The leaves changing colors are glorious. And rain. We’ve had a bit of it, and I’m not sad about it at all. (It rained approximately 3 times over our year in Bahrain.)
  • Phone calls. I’ve been able to call SB and Mom on the phone, not on FaceTime. Granted, I had a “burner” phone overseas that I used to call them occasionally, but it was $0.10/minute, so it didn’t feel the same.
  • Time zone. Surprisingly, I’ve felt so much more connected to loved ones just by knowing that we are generally waking up, having breakfast, ending the day at the same time. Also, our weeks now align! No more Friday-Saturday weekends.
  • Mexican food. My fave, as you know by now. District Taco burrito bowls (split between 2 days because they are huge) have been my go-to lunch since I’m semi-homeless. Jalapenos, I have missed you!
  • Speaking to service providers without an language barrier. I was coordinating with a cleaning service today and was flooded with relief because I was not using my tride-and-true-but-generally-inneffective methods of communicatng with ESL speakers: relying on nouns and simple sentences and speaking loudly (though, really, I can’t believe I trick myself into thinking that works). Though communicating with people of a variety of backgrounds is clearly a really useful skill to have and hone, I am more relaxed already by not having to do that constantly.
  • Fast internet. We’ve been on a TV-streaming-hiatus ever since November 2013 because our Bahrain villa had Internet that was dead slow. That meant no Parks & Rec, no Parenthood, no Newsroom. This was a huge shift for us: we’ve never had cable (or a TV, LBH) in the States. Until Bahrain, we’ve happily streamed all our favorite shows on Hulu and Netflix while fighting for space in front of the laptop. And so, I’m VERY HAPPY to get my shows back. Ron Swanson, I’ve missed you.

Have no fear. There are definitely some things I am missing about our life in Bahrain, even after just one week of being away. More on that soon.

 

 

We’re baaacckk…

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Campbell outside our favorite juice stand.

Campbell and I have arrived intact back in the US of A. Hubs and Finn will follow us shortly. The flight was much better than the worst-case-scenarios I imagined the days and weeks before. I doled out “presents” throughout the 20 hours of transit. Favorites included a Minnie Mouse stuffed animal and mini Frozen figurines. Thanks to a sweet friend who gifted us with an iTunes gift card, I loaded up the iPad with new Dora and Daniel Tiger videos. So, we both watched some shows (Scandal for me), and Campbell slept more than expected. I finished The Language of Flowers, which I liked a lot. All this is incredibly boring to read about, I’m sure, but I feel like I ran a marathon, so there you go.

Anyway, I’m thrilled to be back. Happy for fall weather. I’ve never been so grateful to wake up to a chilly and overcast day, as I did this morning. On the drive to Charlottesville from Dulles, Campbell exclaimed, “green grass!” Yes, Camps, we are now in the world of green grass and seasons. Breathe it in. I’m sure I’ll be eating my words come December, but for now, cool weather feels pretty glorious.

Our last days in Bahrain were bittersweet. We visited our favorite restaurants and enjoyed our close friends. I was sad to leave those who had come to feel a little like family in a foreign place. Walking out of Campbell’s day care for the last time on Monday made me particularly teary. Her teachers and the staff there took such good care of her, and she loves them.

Transition is always tough for me, but we’ve gotten through phase one, the travel itself. Next up: start work in DC next week and get the hubs + dog home safe and sound.

My Go-To Cosmetics

I’ve never been a big cosmetics person, but there are a few go-to items that I splurge on because they work for me. I’m finding that they older I get, the more I need to spend the time to invest in solid products for the good of my skin, hair, etc. And to avoid looking exhausted all the time.

Sugar lip gloss, Plum fresh.  SB turned me onto this gem. Extremely moisturizing and with a perfect amount of color for a subtle, every day look. I wear to work every day but also put it on to bum around on the weekends. Plus, it’s SPF 15.

Revision Intellishade. This tinted moisturizer is my favorite part of my beautification routine. My skin has started to really crave some moisture after I shower in the mornings, and so I slap this on first before makeup. The best is that it adjusts to match your skin color, so you don’t have to do any guessing on the right shade. I buy the matte version, but SB and Mom swear by the Original, so I will probably switch.

Amy Head Makeup. I’ve used Amy Head for over seven years now, and I’ve loved it’s natural look and how long it lasts. They only have stores in a few southern towns (The company started in Mississippi.) My favorites are the coversticks, eyeliner, and foundation.

Wella Enrich Shampoo & Conditioner. I started using Wella hair products after my stylist-friend told me that Wella was her next favorite hair products after Aveda (and she had worked in an Aveda salon). I love the smell and the price (you can buy in bulk at Amazon), and my hair does really well with the level of moisture in the shampoo.

Aveda Be Curly Curl Enhancer & Aveda Smooth Infusion Style Prep Smoother. These are my go-to Aveda products. They’re affordable and last a very long time because you only need a tiny bit for one use. If I want to go wavy, I use Be Curly. If I want to dry and straighten, I use Style Prep.

Origins Ginger Rush body cream. I love the smell of this and how it feels on my often-dry skin. I carry a travel version with me, a gift from my sis-in-law.

What products do you swear by?

 

A Candle and a Prayer

A year ago today, we lost Grandnanny. You can read our posts about it here and here.

I’ve been wondering how to set this day apart, and thankfully Mom sent me an email yesterday that has helped me honor it in a special way. Mom’s dear friend offered to her a ritual of the Jewish faith that involves lighting a candle that burns for 24 hours to commemorate the anniversary of the death of a loved one.

Along with a candle that safely burns for 24 hours, Mom’s friend gave her some beautiful prayers as well. Mom sent me this one, which I’ll share with you:

I light this candle in remembrance of my beloved Grandnanny. As I reflect upon its radiance, I remember with gratitude all of the kindness and love she shown me. May my memories encourage me to show kindness and love to those around me. My loss has been great, and I feel it echo even today, but still I have moved forward with my life. I am grateful to my family, my friends and my community, and to God, for all of the support granted to me in my hour of bereavement. Even as I walk through the valley of death’s shadow, I felt the loving arms of others. Help me to share my love with others who need me. During this time of loss, I pray that I may have a generous spirit to others who have suffered, and I pray that my beloved now gone, will know peace forevermore. God, I pray that you shelter them beneath the shadow of your wings, and that you shelter me as well.

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Dragons Love Tacos

photoOne of CG’s favorite books is a hilarious little story about how Dragons love to eat tacos (thanks SB!). They love tacos, but hate spicy salsa because it makes their ears smoke. When they are invited to a taco party, they are thrilled, but unfortunately encounter the dreaded spicy salsa. And I’ll stop there to avoid giving away the ending.
At first I loved the book simply because it depicts my favorite cuisine and gave me a chance to pass this on to my child. But shortly thereafter, I realized that the story was a treasure in many respects. The pictures–pencil/watercolor drawings–have funny details and are really cute.  The sentences are simple and easy to understand for toddlers. And, I like how dragons aren’t portrayed as scary but rather pretty ordinary organisms whose favorite food is tacos. Perhaps best of all is that the book appeals to adults as well. Hubs and I like to read it in funny voices, and it always makes us laugh.
Favorite line: “Why do dragons love parties? Maybe it’s the conversation. Maybe it’s the dancing. Maybe it’s the comforting sound of a good friend’s laughter.” So wise.
Next time you need an idea for a gift or a treat, think about Dragons Love Tacos.