Monday, January 31, 2011

A Proper Goodbye

In the late spring/early summer of 2009 we learned that Todd's work wanted us to move from Jordan to Egypt so Todd and I took a trip to Cairo to find our family a place to live. We happened to be in Cairo over a Friday, which is the Sabbath Day there in Cairo. Todd and I took the opportunity to attend the church branch there to meet people we would be attending church with in the coming year.

It happened to be the week when they were saying goodbye to the friends who were moving away from Cairo--either back to the States or they were embassy workers moving on to another post in another country. Every year there are changes as people move on. We felt a little out of place like we had crashed a party. Friends were saying goodbye to friends and it was quite emotional. We were impressed with the send-off they received.

Fast forward 1 year. The entire year we lived in Egypt, we weren't sure how long we would be there. Because of this we took every opportunity to make Egypt our home and not wait for friends to find us although many did because they weren't waiting either. We had people in our home for dinners--both coworkers of Todd's and branch members from church. We had dinner in their homes. We went on excursions to museums, the pyramids, leper colonies, camping, felucca rides on the Nile, swimming in the Red Sea, mosque tours, fabric souqs, Khan-el-Halili, etc. We were each others' support groups while we were in a foreign country far away from family. They became our family. Nancy Heiss explains it well here when she explains Cairo wasn't just a trip we took and we're glad to be back home. Cairo was our home. My kids too will still sometimes say they want to go back to their home in Cairo. We'll feel that way here in our new home too. But that doesn't make Cairo (or Jordan or Kuwait) any less of our home either.

In the late spring/early summer of 2010 we were searching out a new house. Cairo was still our home but we needed a different house closer to the kids' friends from church, closer to where our doctors' appointments were, etc. We had tentatively picked out a house in Maadi but then our plans quickly changed. For reasons I won't go into here, we decided it was best for our family to move back to the States. Within a matter of just a couple of days we were making our plans to move back to the States. It happened to be the "goodbye" week in the branch. When they announced our names as being one of the families moving away from Cairo it caught many people off guard because word hadn't spread yet that our plans had changed.

The branch members were so kind. As was tradition in the branch, they sent us off with a small gift of 3 vials filled with 3 important things from Egypt--1 with water, 1 with sand, and 1 with air. With them was a paper explaining the meaning of each. It said:

The Three Vials
1. Water
You will surely Dive for this vile. This water will remind you of the Red Sea, the Mediterranean Sea and most importantly the River Nile. Memories of deep sea diving or snorkeling will come to mind as well as relaxing rides down the Nile on a Felucca. You will also want to use this water sparingly to brush your teeth and to wash your fruits and vegetables once you get back home. It will give them that Cairo flavor. Flashes of days when the water was turned off will fill your mind when you are lonely and as you sit missing Egypt while you recall the days when you had to bathe the entire family with a half bottle of Baraka. Don't hesitate to sprinkle drops of this water into your salads or a drop or two into your drinking water. Within hours you will be running to the bathroom and then as you sit down . . . you can remember your Egypt days.

2. Sand
Dig into this vial. It contains precious soil from Egypt (actually from the Red Sea). You may want to sprinkle some of this on your garden before you plant to insure that your crops are plentiful and have the taste of Egypt. When you've gone for a month without dusting and your house is still spotless, just take this vial and sprinkle a little on the tabletops and cupboards. You may want to rub it on your shoes too! And don't forget your car. Then think of your Boab and all the days that he was out cleaning the dust off cars so you could drive off for the day to collect more dust. This sand will remind you of the constant layer that coated your complete house after the dust storms, yes those famous Khamaseens. You will always remember your desert home when you use the contents of this vial.

3. Air
All of Egypt's smells are tucked into this vial. If you were lucky while you've been here, you have enjoyed the famous mummies and ancient treasures but now you have this vial loaded with precious smells to take home with you. Guard it carefully. Car exhaust, small and big dogs, donkeys, smiling camels, garbage carts, fried onions on koshery, salt water beach smells, mini buses, inside of the tunnels and on the metro smells and many more! All these smells have been captured and put into this vial. But wait, this vial has a bonus! Captured in the air of this vial is something very special for you. If you are very quiet, you can open it just a crack and hear the sounds also. Prayer calls, cars honking, donkeys braying, you'll hear some Arabic words like Maleesh, Insha Allah, Bokra, and Masalama.

Over the last few days I've been thinking a lot about our previous home. I've been thinking a lot about our friends who are still there. Many of them are now being evacuated. They are only allowed a limited amount of luggage and have to leave most of their possessions behind hoping the looters don't get to it. When they return, if they return, things will be different.

Word is trickling in from some of them. One of our friends and her daughter were in Switzerland on their way to her home country of France while her husband remains in Cairo. Another friend and her 5 children are on their way to Idaho today to stay with in-laws while her husband remains in Cairo. He just arrived back to Cairo yesterday after being in DC so she and the kids have gone through most of this by themselves. Another friend will be reuniting with her husband and 6 year old son in DC in a couple of days. Her husband and son have been in Cairo while she's been here in Utah waiting for medical clearance and a visa for her newborn baby so she, the baby, and another child could return to Cairo. Another friend's husband is for now staying in Cairo. She's here in the States recovering from foot surgery. We're still waiting to hear word from many other friends there and what their plans are. Their lives are turned upside down.

I wonder if they even got to say goodbye to each other. No matter how you look at it this certainly isn't the proper goodbye I'm sure they were expecting when they left their homes in Cairo. I hope someday they'll be able to get their vials.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Here's to our health

Like millions of others across the globe, I made a New Year's Resolution to lose some weight. Part of that was incorporating healthy new foods and recipes. Well, new to our family anyway.
I decided to jump on the quinoa bandwagon. I found a recipe for a quinoa and black bean salad that I thought looked good. The recipe was for 6 servings so, like most recipes, I had to double it for my family of 9. By the end of the meal, out of the 12 servings it was supposed to make, I probably had about 8 left. And I ate probably 2 servings myself.

Evidently I am the only one in my family that made the resolution to eat healthier.

Tonight we're eating the leftovers. I've added some chicken and taco seasoning and we will wrap it up in a tortilla--probably with some cheese and sour cream. My family will eat almost anything that's wrapped in a tortilla with cheese and sour cream. So much for our healthy eating.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Willing to help

Our family had signed up to go to our church tonight to help clean it. My younger kids were kind of excited to get to go wander around the church for a non-church function. My older kids had visions of cleaning toilets.

Imagine my surprise when my 12 and 14 year old boys were actually arguing over who was first in volunteering for a job. I was not happy with their fighting but somewhat pleased that they would be so anxious to get right to work. I wished that they would do that at home.

I then found out what job they both wanted so much to do. Do you think if I bought one of these for my home I'd never have to bribe, yell, or threaten to get the vacuuming done?

Sunday, January 9, 2011

The last 6 months

OK. I'm going to try my hand at blogging again. It may be just every 6 months or so. We'll see.

To start off where the last blog left off:

After a fabulous and eventful 3 years in the Middle East, we moved back to the States last summer. Before we settled in we spent the summer doing fun things.

We attended the Fullmer family reunion in Circleville, UT. My mom and her twin sister are the two in white shirts in the front row:

We went camping with family in the mountains of Idaho:

Beat the heat by playing in the ditch:

Took advantage of some friends' fun toys:

Visited Utah's Hogle Zoo:

Took advantage of Grandma & Grandpa Cummings' fun toys at their cabin in Island Park, ID:

Lived a few weeks in Idaho Falls, Idaho at the town home of Todd's parents while we waited for our home in Utah to be ready for us. His parents are on a mission at the Cebu Phillippines temple. While there we enjoyed time with the House family who we knew and loved in Cairo while they were in Idaho Falls staying with relatives:

Went bowling with the Eccles family. They kindly housed us the few days before we were able to move into our home and then when we finally did get into our home, the Eccles provided us with air mattresses, blankets, pillows, lawn chairs, kitchen equipment, etc. etc. until our shipment arrived from Egypt.

The Eccles even provided T with a cake and a party hat for his birthday while we were staying with them:

But a few days later we were finally in our home, Todd was back from the Middle East, so we celebrated his birthday with the family:

A few days later we were celebrating Batman's birthday:

Then it was time for school to start. After our year of homeschooling in Egypt, all the kids quickly adjusted back into public school here in UT.

We got back into some of the sports we enjoyed before leaving for the Middle East, and started enjoying some we hadn't tried before. Batman started football. It's times like these I wish I was a better photographer but in all the "action" shots I took you can't really tell which one is Batman. So here he is getting some coaching (#83):

Red played flag football. He's the one in the light blue on the far left with his hands on his knees:

Nic played soccer (#2):

Cricket played soccer:

And I took up running again--at least for 1 week--to participate in a "marathon relay":

In the midst of all that our shipment finally arrived and we're still trying to turn the chaos into some order:

Despite the chaos, Nic was able to find some scissors to help herself get rid of the pesky bangs that were bothering her:

Our home is in Herriman and if you didn't hear, we had a fire up on the mountain not long after we moved in. This was taken from our back door:

In October we got back into the American traditions first by visiting a pumpkin patch:

Then carving them at home:

And enjoying trick-or-treating/parties:

Also in the fall we celebrated Todd's and Critter's birthdays:

And Petey got her driver's permit (Yikes!):

We waited til the weather turned cold and then decided it'd be a good idea to try a 5K and 1 Mile Fun Run. My vote is we should decide to do these things when it's still warm weather. Honestly though, I think it's just because I'm bitter because all the kids placed (and got a medal) in their age divisions. Yay kids! I, however, did not. The kids all felt sorry for me and all day kept telling me I still did a great job:

We are learning that Herriman gets some pretty strong winds late at night that turn into snowstorms by morning:

And Santa brought us a puppy for Christmas--our first family pet.

That about catches us up for now.