32 and counting…

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I am five days away from my 32nd birthday. I know a lot of people who down play their birthdays and say its just another day. I am not one of them. I think I’ve tried the low key birthday before and just was not a fan. I’m pretty sure it all stems from the year that I threw myself a hawaiian theme birthday party with colorful plastic leis and little umbrellas in the drinks. I was 12 and it was awesome, just asked the lucky girls that were in attendance.

Actually I think I have my Mom to thank for special birthdays. When my sister and I were little my Mom started a tradition of serving us breakfast in bed on our birthdays. It started the day off on a special tone. I can remember getting up early to help prepare breakfast for my sister as her birthday is a month before mine. It was exciting to take the tray up to her room and walk in with a silly smile on my face to be the first to wish her a happy birthday. The tradition was that the siblings of the birthday child would sit on the edge of the bed and watch the birthday child open cards and eat breakfast and help celebrate the start of their special day. I love every bit of this tradition.

There were a few rough birthdays years. Years where I expected the day to be special but was disappointed by how un-special it turned out. (There was even a year where the entire day fell apart and I ended up crying myself to sleep, we don’t speak so often of that birthday) After a few of these less special birthdays I learned that it was up to me to make the day great. So for the last few years I took work off on my birthday and would create a special day for myself. I have gone out to breakfast, gone hiking, kayaking, shopping downtown Seattle, and got my butt kicked in a family game of croquet. (I think my Dad secretly practices so that he can bet us)

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Two years ago when I was turning 30 and feeling a bit unsure about it, some of my very good friends threw me a very glamours backyard party. My Mom made me a dress. (There isn’t anything this woman can’t do) It was magical. As friends were arriving and enjoying a cocktail before we sat down to a beautiful dinner outside under the stars I kept thinking to myself this is what birthdays are all about. Its a chance to bring friends together and celebrate.

This year my birthday magically felt on our R&R. So keeping with my tradition I will not be working and I will be in place where going out to breakfast is possible and perhaps even some fun shopping, good cheese and nice bread, and a movie in a movie theater. (Its the small things guys) My brilliant husband even orchestrated a trip to the spa the day after my birthday. (So perhaps we are celebrating for two days this year) Its going to be a special day. I will miss the gathering of friends and family and would prefer being with everyone over a day at the spa, but knowing that K and I are on vacation without a responsibility in the world sounds pretty magical as well. Perhaps, I will convince K to have a hula contest with me, it was a real hit when I turned 12. Twenty years later I think hula is still a great way to celebrate a birthday.

adusting to life in Juba…

I find it super amazing as to what become normal in a very short period of time. We are coming up on being in Juba for a week now and most of life here seems to be pretty normal. When we left Seattle a week ago we were freezing; wearing sweaters, coats, sleeping in hoodies and down comforters. Today we are sweating wearing shorts, t-shirts, and sleeping without even a top sheet. And it all seems normal. We even went out for drinks on Friday night with some of our colleges at NP. Even the steady diet of rice and beans seems to be normalizing in both our heads and our stomachs.

There are still somethings that seem to be a bit harder to get used to, like the lack of internet. It took me the better part of the morning to email my family yesterday. K is working so very hard to see what we can do to increase our internet capacity and if anyone can do it, it is him. But in the mean time there will be a lack of pictures on the blog. But hopefully that will be changing soon.

We are still processing the last few weeks before we left home. It was a crazy hard time for us as K’s Dad passed away four days before we left for Juba. We haven’t had a lot of down time to really process out all the events of the last few weeks, but are extremely grateful for the time we had with family and friends. I am convinced that K and I have the best friends a couple could ever have. Ever. We have been completely blow away by the love and support.

Well there is a Saturday market that is calling my name, so that is all for now. More adventures to come.

around the world and back…

This last month has just screamed by, mostly due to our very unexpected trip back home. It was amazing spending time with family and friends and remember how much I love Seattle. Its really the best city in the world… I would be happy to argue that fact with anyone.

While I was traveling halfway across the world I pondered how quickly one can get around. Yes, I did travel for 36 hours but in reality its not that long. Its crazy to think that just 100 years ago this journey would have taken months and often people would only be going one direction, never to return to their home. It makes the world seem a lot smaller somehow to know that I can be home if I really need to be in just a matter of hours. Its comforting.

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Our trip home just so happened to co-inside with the 4th of July and my birthday. It was really special to be home and with family and friends for both special days. I was able to meet my sister’s boyfriend, whom she started dating just shortly after I left for Zimbabwe. This was awesome because my sister and I are super close and it was hard to know she had someone who made her so happy and not know who he was. (P.S. he is great and I’m already dreaming about their future… hey I’m the sister I’ve got that right)

I was able to spend some much needed time with my Mom. I’ve discovered that I become more and more like her as I get older, so obviously spending time with someone who is just like you is pretty awesome. I love her beyond words and being apart has been hard on both of us. She had planned to send some money to me for my birthday so I could get a pedicure… but since I was home for my birthday we were able to go together. In fact my Grandma, Mom, Sister and I went all together. It was so fun to look down the row of spa chairs and see the three generations of women in my family. I think being away has made me overly sappy about family, can you tell?

There were tons of highlights on this trip, but I think one of my favorites was on my birthday. It was a gorgeous day and we set up a croquet course in my parents backyard and had two very intense games of croquet both in which my Dad beat the socks off all of us.  My Dad is not a huge game person… in fact you kind of have to trick him into playing games. He is always saying that he would just rather watch than play. (But I don’t buy that for a moment… who likes to watch more than play?) However, with the croquet games it was different. I didn’t hear him once say he was going to sit out the game. No instead he was there right in time, picking out his mallet and ball. And he was unstoppable. There wasn’t a shot that he couldn’t make. While the rest of us missed shots, over and under hit our ball he was speeding through the course. It was almost like he had been practicing for months… just for this very game. Strange. It was the greatest birthday present to see the smile on his face each time he won. Of course now I’ll be practicing for a rematch… can’t let him get a big head about it.

But now I’m back in Zimbabwe, where its still winter. I’m sitting with my hot water bottle on my lap like an 80 year old woman. (Hey its miserable to be cold) I am treasuring all the wonderful memories made on this trip. And if there was any doubt in my mind as to where home is it has been eliminated by this trip. Seattle is home… unless all my friends and family move somewhere else. I guess it could happen.

thoughts on Christmas…

Due to the fact that K and I are in the middle of some major transition and not even having a home of our own right now we are not decorating for Christmas this year. And surprisingly I’m super okay with it. We did a big Christmas decorating spree last Christmas. Many of you might recall my holiday branch.

Holiday Branch

But just cause we aren’t using our own Christmas decorations this year doesn’t mean we haven’t been decking the halls of other homes. My Sister, Brother, K and I went and picked out a 15 foot Noble tree for my parent’s living room. I know we say this every year but this is truly the best tree that we’ve ever had in their house.

Last Year's Tree

Even though Christmas this year seem like just a day on the calendar this year because we are moving to Zimbabwe shortly after the new year I’m really focused on making it really special with our families. Its important to me to know that our holiday traditions are more than just presents and food. I want to know that its the relationships that we have, the family connections that we hold are what makes the holidays special. I want to know that right now as we prepare to move across the world and leave those relationships and connections. I want our family and friends to know how important they are to both K and I. It is because we have such strong family and friendships that we feel confident to go to Zimbabwe and do what we have been created to do. Its an amazing feeling. I want to truly celebrate the birth of Christ and marvel in the joy and life that we have through His birth.

As cheezy as it is to end with this, its pretty much the way I’ve been feeling. So here it is:

“Its the time of year when the world falls in love, every song you hear seems to say Merry Christmas, many your new year’s dreams come true. And this song of mine in three-quarter time wishes you and yours the same thing too.”