Thursday, August 28, 2008

Namaste SITStas!

Aw man - y'all are coming over and the place is a wreck - but oh well. In the name of hospitality please come in and visit with your morning coffee, or Diet Coke or whatever you do in the am! I am REALLY excited about having visitors. It gets a little lonely over here. After reading many of your blogs the past few months, I am blown away by the talent and creativity out there! And you have made me laugh, laugh, laugh. Thank you.

Welcome to our nutty life. My husband works for Uncle Sam as a diplomat and the term of art for the spouse who is not also employed by the USG is a "trailing spouse" - hence the blog name. I could have called it "A Broad Abroad" - but my sweet Mom wouldn't have approved.

Thanks for stopping by and "Namaste"!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Summer ... it's really over

I had a friend from college who lamented after we graduated and started working that those days between mid May and early September were no longer "summer ... they're just hot". (You have to say it with a thick Alabama accent to really appreciate it.) So even though the calendar says we still have a few weeks left, my kids are back at school and our two months back in the States are quickly fading to black.

I do promise I'll return to things Nepal but I just had to, had to, had to share two of this summer's many highlights. The first is a profound milestone, the second a small but memorable childhood rite of passage.

Aunt Libbie's 100th

Isn't she gorgeous?

How many centenarians do you know? I think my husband's great aunt is the only one I have ever known. Let me tell you just a bit about this incredible woman. Aunt Libbie was born in 1908 and has filled these past one hundred years with love for and service to others. She is a woman of keen mind - the Scrabble champion of her retirement home mind you! - warm heart and as my husband always likes to say ... "she is just sensible" - a high accolade from that side of the family. She writes family memoirs, has been on the internet and is just as sharp as a tack. Her body is failing her a bit these days but she remains as delightful as ever.

We stayed in the States a week longer than we would have because there was no way we were going to miss her 100th Birthday Bash! It was just a lovely gathering and tribute to a woman who inspires us all to live well.

The Lemonade Stand

Okay - not exactly on par with turning 100 but a fun first for our little hoodlums. We parental types thought it was a complete hoot. Who knew that Donald Trump was hiding in our four year old's body? She was flagging down customers .. she was on task baby. Our oldest was more interested in making the chalkboard sign, pouring the drinks and being sociable. I tried to teach them to say "Thank you for your business!" - but it didn't really take.

Who can resist this sales team?

Lindsay thought this face was "bad for the customers" - cracked me up.

A little sustenance for the workforce ... and the first few lucky customers.

The first customer. He gave a big tip.

So long summer.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Let Me Sleep ...

This is what jet lag looks like when you are two.

I saw Baboo lying on the nice comfy wood floor as I was whipping up a gourmet bowl of pasta a la mama.

"Baboo ... don't fall asleep yet. Mommy has dinner coming right up. Really. Just one more minute." I just don't want him to wake up at 2am to tell me he is "hungwee". I really really just want to stay horizontal for a whole night. I can dream, right?

I got the bowl on the table. He got up, walked over, took one look and started crying.

"I was sleeping." (sob sob)

He returned to his spot on the floor and that was all she wrote. I sort of wish I was him right now.

Our Final Year Begins

We are back on Nepali soil and it is good to be back in our home, among our own things, and returning to a normal routine. It is funny how you can make anywhere your home after awhile. It may be cliched but the old "home is where we are all together" adage holds true.

After a being from and spending the summer moving about in a big place like DC, it is nice to come back to the "small town amidst chaos" feel of Kathmandu. At home I drove around visiting friends in the District, the suburbs, the beach and few other farther flung locales and you know, you rarely see people actually walking on the street! It is actually kind of freaky and slightly Jetsonesque. We landed in KTM and were immediately met by the throng of humanity at the airport. A crowd gathered around us with our ridiculously massive amounts of luggage (I really tried to pack light but you know the $120 worth of Trader Joe's Maple Syrup just takes up space!) and thankfully it isn't so intimidating anymore. The drive back to our house from the airport is a visual smorgasbord - which I love.

The girls went ahead and went to school Thursday since they were awake, awake, awake only for me to get a phone call from the school nurse to come and pick them up because they ... oh I won't go into it ... too gross. Let's just say it is a Lousy situation. We are in the right culture to deal with it though - nitpicking is a national pastime. Enough said.

So our last year in Nepal is here. It is hard to believe! I got a phone call from a friend who had just been to a leadership conference and one of the things she heard struck her as a good word for me (gotta love my friends!). Jacki called and encouraged me to "take a flyer" this year - do something big enough to be a risk and a dream but not so big that you are betting the farm on it. I am still thinking and praying about what that might be. I'll let you know.

I downloaded my summer pictures and will post soon.


Thursday, August 14, 2008

Winding Down to Head Back

As our R&R time is drawing to a close it feels as if the snowball has gained mass and we are flying down the hill.

We had a wonderful week at the beach doing beachy things. I can't wait to post pictures after our return to KTM! We are filling each day with last minute doctor appointments/follow ups, still trying to connect with friends we haven't had a chance to see and getting as much time in with family as we can. I won't lie - the pace has been ridiculous. It has reminded me what has always been the most important to me - the relationships in my life. My relationship with God, my family and my friends is just what it is all about. They give me joy and fill me up.

I'm exhausted - but happy exhausted.

Heidi over at had a wonderful, thoughtful post about the things we want our kids to do, see, value, experience. I'll post my .02 here on this great topic when I get more than five minutes in a semi alert state!

In the meantime we are all preparing for Great Aunt Libbie's 100th birthday party this weekend! Is that incredible or what?

Peace all ... Laurel

Saturday, August 2, 2008

The Trailing Spouse Party Primer

Disclaimer: We are in the US ... so this has nothing to do with Kathmandu. We'll be back in KTM in late August!

Since Bill is here for such a short time we had a couple of friends over last night from different chapters of our lives. Of course we were the only ones with the benefit of knowing everyone and some people knew no one else but hopefully they left fat and happy anyway.

Early in our marriage we discovered our ... differing preferences in extending hospitality. Grin. Bill would have a grand scale party every weekend if he could. The more the merrier. He is completely keyed up and energized after a party. I like to have dinner parties where we can sit and talk with our friends. Bill loves to meet new people and sort of bring them into the fold. I love to hang with my homies. So we do a little of both and it all works out.

Party tips from the Trailing Spouse (both philosophical and practical):

1. Don't entertain to impress, just share what you have and enjoy your guests. The point is just to be with each other.
2. Know your own limits. I love to cook for no more than 8 people. More than that and I'm calling the food in.
3. Don't underestimate the weight party clean up may have on your enjoyment of being with your friends. Hiring someone - anyone - to do that for you will change your par-tay life. If some high school student will just run around and pick up dishes and hang out in the kitchen cleaning up you will be SO SO happy. Of course I discovered this during our first overseas tour when my helper cost me all of $15. Not so lucky back in the US of A but still worth it.
4. Do what works for you. You aren't your mother, your friend or your colleague. Don't apologize for not "entertaining" like someone else. Who cares. It is amazing how much people just appreciate being invited over.
5. Rarely can you invite everyone you know to one event save possibly your wedding! So don't stress out over who you couldn't invite this time. There is always next time. Not everyone likes a party anyway.
6. Plan ahead and you won't be stressed the day of. The only thing you want to have to run to the store for is ice.

All of the above apply to our personal partying. Official "entertaining" (I just have to put it in quotes because truth be told I don't like the word and all it implies) is another matter. Diplomatic entertaining is nothing and everything like having friends over. On the one hand of course we want the guests to feel comfortable and fed and watered. On the other hand they are usually not there to be social, but to work. These receptions are just opportunities for the various parties to meet and talk shop.

Now I know that this doesn't apply to everyone but Bill and I are Jesus people so we pray. And when it comes to parties we usually just pray that the time would be a blessing for everyone. Who can lose?

We are off to the beach for a week. There will be no parties. Unless Bill starts inviting people over he meets while making sandcastles with the kids. This could happen.