Thursday, January 31, 2013

Loss: Coping With Death From Abroad

One of the hard parts of living so far from family is never knowing when will be the last time you see someone alive. Health and youth are not immune to accidents. Age and infirmity do not necessarily rush death. But what if you do have an idea that it's the last time?

We've just experienced both the expected and the unexpected within a week.

When we  visited this winter break, one of the challenges was knowing how to balance the hope for recovery from a very grave illness with the reality of what normally happens: death.We accepted reality and still held on to hope... which produces another challenge: When someone has made a monumental impact on your life, it's hard to balance wanting to squeeze all of the time with them possible and just letting things flow naturally so that the last bit of normalcy can create memories to savor.

But then, we lost another family member first, unexpectedly. And we were sad. And we were thankful we had visited just a month or so ago. And we were thankful we DID have so many great memories of both people.

Living an international life makes room for many different memories and relationships. We're glad that we have the base of strong family relationships in the States of people who genuinely want the best for us and, though they miss us, are also happy that we are able to experience so many things.  We are also glad that we are living our dreams now instead of waiting for everyone to be gone and then be left with less experience and energy to go abroad... but it is a two-edged decision. Being abroad helps you appreciate family more, which means you miss them more, pack more into the tangible moments you get and that the distance softens any would-be irritating qualities. It's not as easy to take people for granted this way. We're grateful for such a strong family bond. We're grateful for all of the new people we've been able to meet. We hate to be away when the family is coping with death. There is always this tenuous relationship between loving and letting go for both sides.

While Ben was discussing if he would go back for the funeral, he weighed the expense with the experience and ended with the thought: "what's money, anyways, if you can't use it as a tribute to the relationships in life." Because really, that's the point. The formative relationships we had with family enrich every experience we have now.

Life abroad highlights the ups and downs: You have to love hard when you get the chance and appreciate the chances you get. 

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Jet Lag and Waffles

Jet lag is serious business when you're flying 10 hours into the future with a baby deeply rooted into a routine sleeping schedule. What this means for us is that Elias wakes up at 2 in the morning yelling "Bite! Bite!" and wanting to run around and play.

So what do you do when it's 2 AM and you can't sleep and everyone's hungry?

Make waffles!

Talia seems to be the one least affected by jet lag at the moment... perhaps it comes from tapping into her night owl tendencies and going to bed at supper rather than earlier:
If nothing else, I've learned how spoiled I was with a baby on a routine. Supposedly it takes a day for every hour you are off schedule to adjust back to routine, so we've got a good week left to try out this theory. I've also learned how much I love this recipe for waffles:

1 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
2 eggs
1 3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup oil
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 cup chopped pecans (optional)
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 cup wheat germ OR wheat bran OR quick oats OR fruit OR whatever (I used quick oats.)

Mix up and can be used for pancakes or waffles.  Double recipe for more than 4 people.

*Disclaimer* Waffles, though delicious, do not aid in remedying jet lag. They do produce symptoms of slight "swelling" of the midsection if consumed often enough. Especially slathered in real butter and local honey. You should try them anyway.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Kids Unscripted: Chapter 12

Talia: "What happens if the road curves and you keep going straight?"
Me: "I think you should ask Papi, he did that one time..." ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Talia: "One way to make a baby have fun is to skip while holding her!" ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Talia: "That burp just grabbed some gas from my tummy and threw it out!
Talia: "Do you know of a vacuum cleaner that flies when you hold the handle?"
Me: "Hmmm, nooo, not yet..."
Talia: "It's probably in a tornado..."
Aunt Chel: "Talia, do you want to help make peach cobbler?"
Talia: "Yes, I want to make peach toddler!"
Talia: "What would happen if you were in Abu Dhabi and you got the juice from a pear and you put it in a plate and you took it outside?"
 Talia: "What would happen if you took something too tiny to see, stretched it out and stuffed something small inside it and closed it up and then smashed it?"
Temaw:(what she calls her grandma) "Maybe nuclear fusion!?!?"
 Talia: "(Aunt Chel) has (stuffed) lions and tigers and zebras in her room, so I shut the door really fast so they wouldn't get out!"
Talia: " Babies need two seatbelts, but big kids only need one.... but really big people probably need three."
Elias: "Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhh!"
Talia: "Elias, when you don't get your way you're supposed to say 'Oh, well!'"
Me: LOL!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

NOT Seen in Abu Dhabi...

Visiting the States for winter break has allowed us some memories that we wouldn't have had in Abu Dhabi... like: wearing mouse ear muffs in cold weather!

Finding snails to feed the chickens:

Playing with the snowman that her grandma put in the freezer when it snowed while we were out of town.
We are really enjoying all of the different-ness of the weather and environment and soaking up memories to take back with us.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Seen in Abu Dhabi; 5

The Corniche part of Abu Dhabi is designed for bikes of all kinds. You can rent four-wheeled bikes, trikes, bicycles with covered carts pulled behind for small children to ride in and I'm sure there's more. However, these are restricted to the path built for them so that the parks are safer for pedestrians and small children.