Wednesday, February 29, 2012

What a Week

It's only Wednesday, people, and I'm ready for a nap. This week has already been approximately 30-bazillion hours long. We've had 2 birthdays, one FSI language exam and one school board meeting - this in addition to the usual collection of basketball games, sleepovers, kickboxing classes, temper tantrums, work, school lunches, fundraisers, etc. Oh, and I'm trying to do the taxes. And plan for two upcoming groups of visitors.

And then, we were all set for the weekend's big event: the 2012 Dead2Red relay starts tomorrow. But after much hemming and hawwing and back-and-forthing, we decided to back out this afternoon, right at about the same time that Carolyn was scheduled to start her long cross-border journey to join us for the race.

They'd been predicting rain, and even snow, for the weekend. Today, at around 3 pm, the sky turned orange and started spitting down pellets of ice. There was wind, and there was thunder, and there were quite a few references to the Armageddon. Then it started to snow - huge fluffy pieces of snow. Mixed with ice. And mud.

Carolyn sensibly decided she couldn't make the drive. Meanwhile, local meteorologists started predicting thunder, hail, rain and ice along the route. Oh, and also flash floods. You know: nothing major. Just a teensy bit of flash flooding.

Well, that was it for me. My baby, running 20 hours in the dark through thunder and hail and flash floods? I don't think so. So I pulled him from the team, too. A few other people followed, and now we have no team for tomorrow's race. Can I say? I really hope tomorrow turns out as awful as they are predicting. Because if we awaken to a sunny sky and chirpy birds and gentle breezes, my son is going to kill me.

But wait! There's more!

Various friends here have been practicing all sorts of voodoo today. One friend is wearing her pajamas inside out and backwards. Another told her students to flush an ice cube down the toilet, or hide a spoon under their pillows. Apparently these are tried and true ways to bring on a snow day.

Well, it worked. School is cancelled tomorrow. Not just delayed, but out-and-out cancelled, all across Amman. There isn't a lot of snow, but this is a hilly place, and no one wants to send a school bus sledding down a steep curvy road. So there will be no school for us tomorrow, and no trip to Aqaba, and I am suddenly faced with a wide-open weekend. Anything is possible! But I'll probably just finish the taxes. And maybe take a nap. Such are the dreams of a middle-aged mom of four: just a nap and a few moments to finish my work in peace.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Birthday Boy

He was 23 years old when I met him. We were both graduate students, and we carpooled together to the university, either in my little grey car or in his old white Mercedes. He had a thing for old cars and 18th century Russian poets, and though I couldn't quite feign interest in either of those things, I still thought he might be a keeper.

Dang if that wasn't two decades ago.

From the Mercedes he moved on to an Austin Healey Sprite. Did I even spell that right? It was cute, and blue, and he sold it when we got married so we could buy a grown-up car together - something a bit more sensible. You know, with air bags. And seat belts. And working brakes. He's been trolling the internet ever since, looking for a new (old) car to feed his obsession.

He just celebrated his birthday, and it's taken him two whole decades of togetherness to realize that I am a terrible gift giver. So this year, he took matters into his own hands and bought his own present. And indeed, it's much special-er than the watch I got him. Here it is:

The car is currently in Virginia. That's right, he never got to see it in real life, but then again, he is of the blogger generation. Who needs real life when you've got the internet? I believe the car is going to go live with Uncle Sean in Los Angeles until we return to the States... in 2013? 2014? 2016? No one knows, exactly. But there is a car. And it is his.

Happy birthday, z. I still think you're a keeper.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

The Crazy Things Foreign Service Kids Get To Do

We have some friends here who are serving in the United States Air Force, and it so happens that their son is a friend of Shay's.

There were some military VIPs here last week, and the dad in this family was kept busy escorting the generals to their various meetings. Then, this past weekend, it was time for the generals to fly home again. The dad needed to take them to the airport, and he invited Shay to go along.

So while we were having snowball fights here at home, Shay and his friend were at Marka Air Force Base, climbing all over a USAF C17, chatting with one of the pilots and checking out the cockpit.

Just one more thing regular kids back home don't typically do on a random wintry weekend.

Saturday, February 18, 2012


There is snow on the ground in Amman this morning.

It is only a dusting, more ice than snow. But Aidan, Kyra and Ainsley are outside, bundled into whatever snowy weather outfits they could cobble together from our inadequate-even-then winter clothing collection, trying to have a snowball fight.

The dog is racing around madly, trying to eat the snow.

The cat, like me, is indoors next to the heater, watching the activity from a safe - and warm - distance.

Bart, being Bart, braved the icy hills to go to the gym this morning. Shay, being Shay, is off on another sleepover, missing our snow fight action.

It's warm and quiet inside. I slept in a bit. And I don't have to cook this morning - the kids broke into my marshmallow stash while I slept, so their punishment - and my reward - is no pancakes this morning.

Hot tea, quiet room. I'm going to go enjoy it while I can, because I'm betting this snow will have melted within the hour.

Are those the most impressive snowmen ever or what?

Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Sisterhood of the Travelling Engagement Ring

It wasn't really a big surprise when he proposed.

For starters, when we decided to fly back east together so I could meet his parents, we weren't exactly rolling in the grad-student cash. It was a big ticket item, presumably for an important reason. Also, there was the little fact of the party. See, his parents were throwing a party while we were back there, in honor of their kids, each of whom was graduating that year (one from high school, one from college, one from grad school). But during the party, a good quarter of the guests came up to me and welcomed me to the family, telling me how lucky I was, and what a great family they were.

Clearly, a proposal was in the works.

He didn't propose that night, which confused me a little, given all of the congratulatory messages I'd already received. I think it was the next day? Or maybe the day after, while we were checking out the grounds of a nearby college, that he pulled a ring out of his pocket and ask me to marry him.

No suspense here: obviously I said yes.

I loved that ring from the moment he gave it to me. It was platinum and diamond, and it had been a part of his family for some time before it landed on my finger. It was so sparkly! And diamond-y! And look-at-me-I'm-engaged-y! I spent a lot of time in front of the mirror those first few days, waving it around casually and watching it sparkle while I tried out such classic lines as "my fiancé says...," or " yesterday my fiancé and I went to..." I felt so grown up and fiancé- ful! I kept looking at Bart and saying inane things like "you're my fiancé!" just because it seemed so spectacularly strange that we were going to get married.

(After we got married, I continued in that vein, and I would constantly ask him, "Don't you think it's strange that you're my husband?" After a couple of years of listening to this, he finally took it upon himself to note that, no, he didn't think it was strange, seeing as how we'd been married by now for more than two years. So I gave up saying it out loud, but I still sometimes look at him and think to myself how odd it is, that I married this man, and he married me, and now I am someone's wife. I'm a bit slow, semantically speaking.)


Way back in October of last year, I was sitting at my desk at work, happily typing away, when I looked down at my still-sparkly ring. I gave it a little poke, and the diamond moved. A lot. So I ran home and put it away safely. No way was I going to risk having that diamond pop off in the middle of a wadi somewhere in Jordan.

I mourned the loss of that ring, and I hated the fact that my finger was bare. But, I figured, I could bring it home next time I went to the states and get it fixed. That was the wise thing to do. But when would that happen? Not any time soon, certainly.

Then, a couple of months later, Bart's parents came to visit. And they offered to bring the ring home with them to get it repaired.

I accepted, of course, even though I had no idea when I would see the ring again. Some time next summer, surely. When they left Jordan, they had the ring safely tucked away in their carry-on.

Did you know that there is an insurance limit when you mail something through the U.S. Postal service? Yep, there is. Oh, and also: if you've ever seen what a box looks like after it makes its way from the U.S. to Jordan, via USPS and the military postal service, you would be leery of shipping your prized possession that way. Still: I was willing to risk it in order to be reunited with my ring.

As it turns out, there was another way.

See, my brother-in-law lives on the other side of the Jordan River. And he has a school friend who lives in Tel Aviv. And the school friend has some parents who were planning to visit Israel in January. And wouldn't you know they live not far from my in-laws?

So. The parents of the brother-in-law's friend were driving to JFK to catch a flight to Israel.

On the way, they met my mother-in-law somewhere on the NY State Thruway, where she handed the newly-repaired ring over to their care.

That's right, the ring traded hands on the side of the road at an anonymous thruway stop. ("It really wasn't that dramatic," my mother-in-law later noted. "They have rest stops and parking lots all along the way." But this is my blog, not hers, so I'll invite you to picture the scene my way, with my well-dressed and distinguished mother-in-law standing by the side of the freeway, holding a sign aloft like some crazed hitchhiker, gusts of wind from passing trucks threatening to toss her into a gully. In my version, the friend's parents' car slows just enough for her to toss the ring in the window. Very covert-like.)

The parents of the friend continued on, eventually making their way to Tel Aviv. They brought the ring with them when they came to Jerusalem, or their kids did. At that point, my brother and sister-in-law took possession of the ring, presumably keeping it well-hidden from their sparkle-loving daughter and their at-the-stage-where-you-eat-anything-you-can-pick-up son.

Then, one rainy day not long ago, the brother-in-law came to Amman on business. (And how cool is that, when you're living so far away from America, to have a relative stop in for a day or two on business?) I was at my desk at work, the very same one where I'd first noticed the wiggly stone, when in he strolled and handed over my ring, mere weeks from the time it had originally left Amman.

And that, my friends, is the story of how it took approximately twenty hundred people to get this ring back on my finger.

Can you believe it? I'm someone's wife again! See? It's been practically two decades, but it's still fun to say it out loud.

I guess I married a keeper. A keeper with good taste in jewelry. And my in-laws aren't so bad either. I only wish I had a photograph of my mother-in-law hanging out at that seedy truck stop, waiting for a stranger to pass by on the way to the airport.
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