Mark and I were joking last night that it’s been a while since I’ve posted something and my fans must be itching for an update. So sorry to keep y’all waiting (she says tongue in cheek). I try to keep the posts interesting – or at least give you some pretty pictures – but this one, I think will be filled with musings. There’s SO MUCH stuff swirling around my brain, not all of it right for the blog. But I’ve been *thinking* a lot. So, yay.
Life has been good. Normal. Busy. You know, life. Last Friday, was Tate’s school’s fundraiser. It was Hawaiian themed, and I was more excited about this one than Gracie’s, because the vibe of the school is very different – with the smaller kids, you tend to get more interaction with the parents. Also, we pick them up all together in the middle of the school, so even if I don’t know someone, it’s possible that I’ll at least recognize them. And everyone seems to know Tate, “THE American,” so they knew who we were as soon as we said hello… So the Hawaiian theme. People came dressed up, which was fun. Not everyone, but enough. There were some grass skirts, lots of Hawaiian shirts, a set of coconuts, and even this:
Funny costumes, eh? Turns out they were dressed as AMERICANS. So that’s embarrassing. They could not have been nicer or more apologetic about it, hoping we weren’t offended. Which, of course, we weren’t. But it’s a little bit of a drag when you’re considered a caricature. Anyways, the night was really fun and we met one of Gracie’s friend’s parents, too. And they invited us to dinner the next day!
It was SO fun. They’re a really sweet and very special family. The girls are lovely, the parents are hilarious, and we had a great time. There is a so much more I could (and hope I am able to soon) say about them, but just know that these are people who you spend time with and you look at them and think, “Damn, they are good.” When we were starting to pack it in about 10:30, we somehow ended up doing a swap, so we brought the little girls home with us and the big girls stayed there. It was so NORMAL – the girls loved something so typical from home happening here, too. We made banana pancakes for breakfast and then later Tate and Pearl (below) watched a Harry Potter movie on the smallest screen known to man, whilst eating some snacks.
Pearl may be my new most favorite person ever. She’s amazing. I’m so hopeful that there will be more Pearl stories to come during our time here.
And on to the next thing… Mark and I have noticed that the girls fight less over here. And I yell (a lot) less, too. We’re not exactly sure why, because so many things are different, but we LOVE it. Is it because they don’t go to school together? Is it because they have less crap to distract them? Is it because we don’t have TV? Is it because I don’t have a job, so am less hassled in the morning? Is it because their schools start later (8:40 for Gracie and 9 for Tate), so we’re ALL less hassled in the morning? Is it because childhood is different over here? Is it because Gracie gets to flex her independence muscles and doesn’t feel the need to dominate Tate? Is it because Tate burns some extra energy by walking 2 miles to and from school each day? Is it because they’re growing up? Is it because we’re all always together? Is it because they have chores to do to keep the house clean? Is it because we have dinner together EVERY SINGLE NIGHT? Is it because we’re not inundated with so much negative news? Is it because I have a glass of wine every day? Is it because we look at a harbour and palm trees, which makes everything better? Is it because we all get outside every single day? Is it because they’re learning how to play poker? Is it because Gracie finally has a phone, even if it is only a flip phone? Is it because Tate has discovered the Percy Jackson series? Is it because we all know this is temporary and are somehow treating it like an extended vacation? Is it all of it? Is it none of it? But most importantly, how much of this can we replicate when we get home? It’s been great to live through, and it’s actually been fun to hypothesize the reasons – I think it’s made Mark and me more aware of the differences between life there and life here. And maybe – more importantly – which things we can control and which things we’ll want to control more carefully when we get home.
Monday, was September 11. Always a day of massive reflection. And here, there wasn’t a mention of it anywhere. Part of that, I’m sure, is because it didn’t happen to them. And part of it, I think, is that when the planes struck the towers, it was the middle of the night of the next day here. So when they woke up on Tuesday, September 12, we were half a day in to that nightmare already. Also, we don’t get a paper or local television – so maybe it was covered somewhere. But. Yes, it’s always a day of sad reflection and my entire relationship with Mark has September 11th as the backdrop. It’s always with us, I think. But, honestly, I felt some relief to be so far away. I have not missed the news at home. Or the anger. Or the lack of civility. Or the blame. And I feel like so much of today’s … I don’t even know what it is anymore – it’s SO. MUCH. BIGGER than discontent – maybe contempt is the word I’m looking for?… but I feel like so much of what is happening today at home, in terms of politics, can be traced directly to September 11. Or at least shortly thereafter is when I remember things getting so horribly polarized. Anyways, my point is that it has actually been nice to be away from all of the news at home. To get some distance from all of the negativity coming from both sides. It’s been a bit restorative quite frankly.
The day after September 11th is The Professor’s birthday. So we had a banana bar. Because did you hear about how I fat-fingered a grocery order last week? And instead of ordering 1 kg of bananas (which is approximately a regular bushel and a very reasonable amount), I ordered 10kgs? Which, if you’re not up on the math, is 22.2 POUNDS of bananas. Which, if you’re not sure, is a LOT of bananas. Like this many of them.
So we did a banana bar instead of a cake for the birthday. Tate’s idea, and it was awesome. We cut up the bananas, dipped them in chocolate and had toppings – sprinkles (which they call “Hundreds and Thousands” here – quite a mouthful), crushed Anzac cookies (kind of an oatmeal, honey, coconut cookie), cashews, and white chocolate chips. We also had pineapple and lemon pound cake to dip. It was actually a lot of fun. And pretty delicious.
Because 22 pounds of bananas is seriously a lot and what else are you going to do with them? Currently, the bananas that remain have their stems wrapped in plastic and each bushel is in its own plastic bag in the fridge. It’s kept them pretty well, honestly. I don’t recommend buying that many bananas at one time, but if you do, call me – I can help you preserve them without ripening. Bananas aside, I think The Professor had a fun birthday. He and I walked into town, had a delicious coffee, went to the Maritime Museum, grabbed a yummy lunch, and enjoyed the day. We got him an All Blacks shirt to wear to the rugby match tonight. Possibly the only thing more exciting than that would be an All Blacks tie?
And since that last paragraph about The Professor’s birthday was hijacked by the bananas, here’s a picture of the man himself, on his new(ish) bike that he rides into school. He’s seriously the best ever.
Had coffee with a new friend, which was nice, and something I’ve missed. And I got to FaceTime with a friend from Columbia FOR TWO HOURS! Thanks, Erin – was great to hang out that way – and it was exactly what I needed. And I’ve finally started updating my resume and trying to figure out what I want to do now that I’m unemployed. Looking at an online course in scientific writing and editing and exploring some freelance opportunities. I don’t really feel an overwhelming sense of urgency for any of that, though, which is probably unfortunate. This is the *perfect* place and time to try to sort myself out, yet I seem to be content to look out the window and marvel at my luck to live here!
All Blacks rugby tonight against South Africa. Can’t wait – and it’s at 7:30, which is the same time the Gamecocks play on Saturday at home. I feel like the best rugby team in the world is a pretty good substitute for Gamecock football. Hope both teams get the W.
I’ll leave you with this picture, just because. Tate spent her allowance on these silly bunny face glasses for both her and Gracie. Not sure why they spend their money like this, but sometimes I know you need to make bad decisions to learn how to make the good ones…
That’s it from the Southern Hemisphere for now. We’ve got some fun stuff coming in the days and week ahead, so will keep you posted.