Saturday, September 15, 2012

36 Hours of Hell

The news coming from Cairo and Benghazi was horrible.

I saw the video of the protesters in Cairo ripping up the US flag, and I cried. I cried for a couple of reasons. The flag is a symbol of a country that I love. One I love so much, I uproot myself and my children every couple of years in service to said country. I also cried because I imagine that the people who were protesting in Cairo were genuinely hurt by the actions of a few individuals in the United States. I wish that had never happened.

And then I heard about the attacks in Benghazi, Libya. This attack seemed so much worse, and resulted in the death of a US citizen. And I got sad. And then more news was confirmed. The US Ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens and three others were confirmed dead.

Well the news said so, but friends on facebook said that the Department hadn’t confirmed. We wanted to wait for the Department to confirm it before over reacting. But more and more (trusted) news sites came out with the news of the deaths.

How sad for those close to the Ambassador and the others. How sad for the whole Foreign Service community.

I spent hours watching facebook and the news. My mood got darker and darker. I went to bed at some time, but just bawled while John held me. I didn’t want to sleep. So I went to the office and spent time on facebook and watching the news. It was so horrible, and everyone from my Foreign Service circles agreed. Finally at 1:30 a.m. I forced myself to go to bed. After I sort of slept for four hours and helped Malachi get off to school, I didn’t want to do much. I looked at facebook and the news again.

I forced myself to stop. It wasn’t helping my mood, and there wasn’t any new information. Although, the Secretary did make a statement, it only confirmed what we knew and brought no happiness or hope about the situation.

I tried to escape reality by watching Downton Abbey episodes from the second season on Amazon Prime Instant Viewing. But with my craptastic internet that was often a frustrating ordeal. I stuck it out and finished the season, though it took much longer than it should and random sentences and tense moments were often interrupted.

Once I was out of Downton Abbey episodes, I was out of ideas for a distraction. I could read, but I didn’t have my Kindle with me. I went to sleep a very unhappy person.

When the kids woke me up at 4:40, I was more down than I’d been all day. I was in a horrible mood, and the news wasn’t getting better. After John got home, I went out to the living room to be with him and the kids. And not long after was sent to my room again. I was so unhappy and was not a good addition to the family at the time.

I went to the room and sobbed. I shouldn’t be allowed to be happy with my children and husband, I thought. It’s not fair to the wife of Sean Smith, and to all the others who were mourning their lost loved ones.

When I made my feelings clear to John, he asked me if my being depressed helped Sean’s wife. How does it help any of the mourners? The logical part of me that was being pushed deep inside of me knew this of course. Shoot, they don’t even know I exist. I just needed someone to tell it to me, and help me recognize it.

I took a shower. I washed the grease off my face and out of my hair, and I washed the bad mood away. I made a decision, I was going to be happy. I was going to enjoy the rest of the night with the boys and have fun with John. I was going to laugh and I was going to smile.

And I did. I kept all of those promises to myself. After dinner the boys went to bed. After the boys went to bed John and I watched Liar Liar with Jim Carrey. And I laughed. A lot. I hadn’t seen that movie in years and it was so funny. We realized how many movie quotes we say that came from that movie.

And the next morning I was remembering Chris and Sean (and the yet unnamed other Americans) but I went about my day in Manila with a Dr. appointment at Seafront, a run to the main Embassy compound for lunch and paperwork, and an appointment for spa pedicure and manicure. John and I had a date coming up and I wanted to look good.

And I was happy. I was tired from not sleeping well for a while, but I was happy. I could remember Chris, Sean, and the as yet unnamed two others, and still enjoy the perks of my husbands job.

And I’ve had my moments of depression since then when looking at all the news of all the attacks. And I’ve even had a bit of fear since the attacks spread to SE Asia. But I feel very safe in The Philippines. I’ll send Malachi to school and John to work knowing that the Filipinos love Americans.

I’ll send Malachi to school and John to work knowing that people like Sean, Chris, and the two others served our country so that I could do so.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Good Meeting

I had a good meeting with Malachi’s teacher. You can read about the adventure in getting there here.
His teacher, Cara, or Ms. Cara to the students, is really nice. She’s young, probably about my age. She had great things to say about Malachi. She said he has really good manners, she’s very impressed with him.
He has trouble with concentration sometimes but has figured out that positive reinforcement works really well with him and is using that to her and his advantage. She knows who Malachi needs to be separated from to be able to work better (hint: it’s the girlfriend that I’ve already mentioned).
Cara said that he’s good at making friends, and has two girls and at least one boy that he’s frequently spending time with.
She noted that he’s a bit of a picky eater. I corrected and I said he’s quite a picky eater. This is a problem that we faced last year, and I still don’t know how to solve it. We’ll have to do more brain storming.
There doesn’t seem to be any academic hesitation at all with Malachi. I learned a bit about their grading system and it’s different than I’m used to, but it sounds like it’s better than what I saw last year.
This was just another instance at the school to make me love it even more.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Travel Stories

The FS BRU that’s happening next week is about travel stories. We traveled a lot through the summer, and I mean a lot. And our kids are amazing.
My kids were in five countries, and 17 different U.S. States in less than 4 months. They traveled over five thousand miles while we dragged them on road trips from Dallas to Minneapolis, with stops in Kansas City, Missouri and Des Moines. And then just five weeks later we left Minneapolis and went to Falls Church, Virginia with stops in Chicago, Cleveland, Niagara Falls (Canadian side), New York City, and Philadelphia.
US road trip Map
My kids went from their comfortable home in Costa Rica, to traveling all over the States with grace. Then they excelled at long distance travel when we flew from Dulles to Tokyo, Japan (13.5 hours) and were complimented when we arrived. They were amazing tourists in Japan, and then arrived in Manila after another 4.5 hour flight.
world travel map
My kids were amazing. A.Maz.Ing. There’s no other way to put it.  It gives me a bit of a confidence boost thinking that they were amazing partly due to the fact that we’ve done good parenting. That makes me feel good. But they’re good people. And their personalities are good. I’m so lucky to have such happy and well behaved children. Did they have moments when they weren’t amazing? Yes, absolutely. But they were fewer and farther between then they should have been. And neither parent wanted to pull hair out.
My kids have always been great travelers. I have pictures of all the kids traveling throughout their lives. Unfortunately they’re on an external drive that I have, and the cord for it is missing. But I promise, I have proof that the kids are good travelers.
It’s a good thing, too, because John and I love to travel. We hope to pass that on to the kids.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Night Out

Husb and I had a night out last night, and we enjoyed each other’s company, even if there were things/places we didn’t enjoy.
We had tickets to see Potted Potter, but I purchased them online so we had to go somewhere to spick them up. Husb found out that we could do that at the Concierge desk at the Shangri La hotel which is about a five to twenty minute drive from our house depending on traffic. We had possibly the best taxi ride we’ve ever had, and it took us about fifteen minutes to get there. We walked in and I immediately loved it, it was beautiful. The staff was very friendly and helpful and we had our tickets within five minutes of walking in. We had time to kill before the show so we decided to go to the Lobby Lounge and have a drink and snack before the show. There was a live jazz band and we sat near the stage. The atmosphere was very relaxing, and we each got our cocktails and appetizers and had a great time. The cocktails were delicious and the food was less amazing than we hoped for, but still good.
After we paid the check we realized that we had to move fast to get to our show. We went outside and didn’t see a taxi, and we didn’t see an available taxi on the street. So we started walking, and kept on walking, and twenty five, frustrating and tiring minutes later we walked sweaty and out of breath into the building where the auditorium was. I was afraid they wouldn’t let us in because we were a few minutes late. But we weren’t the only ones. We got into a long line with everyone else who was late, and easily found our seats. The show started about fifteen or twenty minutes late, but was pretty funny.
Potted Potter is all seven Harry Potter books in seventy minutes. We thought it would be funny, and it was pretty funny. But the target audience was younger than we thought it would be, and the funniest parts were the unscripted parts. Some of them would have been easier to understand if we knew Tagalog, or the local culture more. We did laugh, but we thought it would be different. I do recommend the show to die hard Potter fans, especially the young ones (it plays regularly in New York, and I think in West End when they aren’t touring).
After that we headed to Greenbelt 3 for some after show drinks. We started at CafĂ© Havana and enjoyed the live music, but didn’t enjoy the drinks. We left there and wandered around for a bit trying to decide what to do next. We ended up at The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf and he got a double hot chocolate that was tasty, and a slice of blueberry cheesecake that was ok. I had a cool and refreshing bottle of water.
After some relaxing time to chat there we headed home because I was falling asleep and it was late. Finding a taxi at that time to take us to our village wasn’t easy, but eventually we did. We had forgotten our keys, so we had to have our live-in let us in, and we felt so bad. But she smiled, said the kids were fine for her and we all went to bed.
It was a great night out.