|Mountains in backyard. Looks like snow almost...but just clouds.
It has been a minute since I wrote. After today's major catch-up, I've resolved to try to write just a little bit each day, so the blog does not become a long chore, but instead a quick catch-up. (Thanks Yael for the tip). Even if it is a long "chore", I have to say I do love writing about here. Whenever I finish a post, I've gained a lot of clairty...like writing it down helps me see it. It's therapeutic. The added benefit is that friends and family can be updated on our lives here, which ultimately helps me feel more connected.
It has been a week of social gatherings and lice treatments for me. During the day, I've been meeting lots of moms and during the evenings, I've been nit picking. As I am sitting here trying to recap the week in my brain, I realize I cannot remember a thing I've done. I seriously am losing my memory lately. I cannot remember people's names. I cannot remember where I put the keys for the back door. I cannot remember if I started the laundry or not, or where I last put the lice comb (even though every time I have sealed it in a bag and put it in the freezer - instead I decide to turn the whole house upside down looking for it, before even checking the freezer). I cannot remember how to say thank you in Fijian or what time I'm supposed to go to meetings. I am truly starting to wonder if I need an appointment with a neurologist to check out my brain. I doubt if there are neurologists here in Fiji, and I seriously doubt the embassy would fly me to Austrailia for that, so I guess I just need to keep working on jig-saw puzzles to help increase my memory. Maybe I'm just overwhelmed being in a new place and my brain cannot take on any more information...it is already trying to adjust to too much. Hopefully I don't lose my mind completely... that would definitely be the end of the blog. (It could perhaps be material for Warren to start a blog though).
After racking my brain, I can come up with my activities for the past week. I've gone for coffee multiple times with different moms from the school. Again, I really enjoy these outings, because the crowd is very international. Everyone is open and willing to help in many ways, and there are great accents floating all around the room. It's so interesting to get each person's perception of living here...hearing all the good and bad. Consensus is that all the kids LOVE it here. They get to know friends of many backgrounds, can run around outside playing and swimming freely, don't have to ever wear shoes, and love their super sweet teachers. I have yet to hear any negative story regarding a child's experience here. I'm pretty stoked for Andie and Zoe to live that life. When we made the huge decision to move here, I hoped for such a life. More consensus among the moms - lice is inevitable...you learn to deal with it (more on that later). You have to stop at at least four stores to get a complete meal for dinner. And, it takes time to get adjusted here, but once you do, you can make a pretty nice life for yourself. Everyone seems happy here. It's reassuring. I can definitely envision a very sweet life here, full of fun, household help, beaches, beautiful scenery, multiculturalism, and possible great friendships. I also miss my family, friends and conveniences of home; and I know that I will continue to do miss the people mostly. Once more, it's all about a balance and seeing the positive things...because really there is so much that is good here.
It's been easy to talk to everyone here and I can see myself making some good friends. I am reminded of being in summer camp or college because all of the expats are here for a short time and have no family around. Everyone is always available! There is always something social happening. As time goes on, Warren and I will find our niche with people. Some I am connecting with, and some not as much...but we still all have this feeling that we are in this together. I am hoping that in time, the girls and I become closer with the Fijians here. Warren has this opportunity with his staff at work,but I hope that my mornings are not only filled with expat coffees, but also with Fijian friends. I want the girls to visit villages, play in waterfalls, and make local friends. I want local friends. I want it to feel like we are actually in Fiji! I think this will take a bit more time than making connections with the expat community (a community which I am very grateful for).
Ok, I am going to switch gears halfway into this entry. It is taking me so long to just catch up on the past week here, so I am going to do a short summary of my days since I last wrote, with a few thoughts and pictures for each day. After this long entry, I plan on writing a small amount each day so it is a more regular habit.
Friday- There was traditional welcome ceremony at the girls' school for all the new teachers and new students. It was pretty cool, because the secondary school students led the ceremony, complete with grog and all official parts. How awesome that the kids learn this tradition in school. It was all in Fijian, but still nice to watch.
|Waiting for the bus in front of our house.
|Andie at school. She's outside so the rule is "No hat, no play." Looking at this picture, seems I still really need to load her up with sunscreen.
After the ceremony, I went to a welcome lunch for the new ambassadors secretary with a bunch of women from the embassy. We went here (http://www.governorsfiji.com/restaurant.html ) and the food was good! As many ladies were exchanging recipes at the table, it occurred to me that Warren and I are going to have such a shift in our marriage. I have never been a cook. I am so not good in the kitchen. But, how can Warren go on cooking dinner for us all when he's working full time and I am home with household help twice a week?? I have to start cooking and try to start enjoying it too. Ugh. Not really my thing...but it will just have to be. There is really no take-out every night here.
Friday night we hung around home for some late night (8:00 pm) swimming with the girls. Nice perk of having a pool and it being a weekend.
Saturday- We had a nice morning skyping with friends and family. Actually, I've been skyping a lot this week. Technology is amazing! Between g-chat, g-video, skyping, email, facebook, and what's app, I can actually be in pretty good touch with my friends and family. It's no substitute for the real thing, but it's pretty great. I can chat all day long on what's app and talking on skype is even more personal than talking on the phone. Kathleen and I washed dishes, made dinner, and drank wine together the other day...all via skype. How cool!
After skype, a friend picked me up and took me along on all of her usual Saturday errands, which involved a few grocery stores to get all items needed for a meal and Pure Fiji (http://www.purefiji.com/). They have the the greatest products at great prices on Saturdays for locals. When we returned home, Warren went to play poker and I met another friend at the local holiday inn for the best pizza in town. Kinda cool that the holiday inn restaurant has such a nice pool for the kids and view for all.
|wrestle party kind of morning
|Play date on the porch while moms runs errands
|Holiday Inn pool. Water by the pool is pretty too...but too polluted to swim in.
Sunday - Again, we had another lazy morning, involving a run at the embassy (guarded and inside gates...right across the street from our house), skyping with friends, and lots of work on the jig saw puzzle. All of a sudden, I love jig saw puzzles. I've always hated sitting down and working at a puzzle, but now I'm addicted! Apparently there are all sorts of benefits to puzzles, like ....
- enhances visual perception
- hones coordination
- improves memory
- develops critical thinking
- increases dopamine production in the brain
- heightens creativity
- stimulates the whole brain
|Yay! We completed it! Next step 1,000 pieces!
We then ate lunch at a local dim sum place next to the Chinese embassy. As soon as we got there, I was highly doubtful I would enjoy the food and pretty much assumed we would all get food poisoning. I'm not sure why I felt that way, but there was something about the feeling of the place. The food was sitting out and all looked completely unfamiliar. I smiled along though because Warren was SO excited about taking us all there. Thank goodness for Warren...he always helps stretch me out of my comfort zone. I had no idea how to order and just sort of pointed at things, waiting for them to bring it to our table. EVERYTHING turned out to be DELICIOUS. I mean, it was so so good! None of us got sick and we all thoroughly enjoyed our meals. The girls especially loved the apple juice that they add extra sugar to. (Drinks here seem to be very sugary... gonna have get used to tap water at restaurants if I don't want girls sugared up. Everyone else drinks it...so ultimately we should be fine, right?)
|I promise that's apple juice in those beer mugs! Girls loved the dim sum.
|Across the street from dim sum place. Photo op
After lunch, Warren dropped me off at a friend's house for Australian day. She was having an Austrailian tea and wretched excess party. Everyone brought an item they no longer needed in their house and we basically played what we call a white elephant party in the states. It was fun and I ended up with lice shampoo and a cute dress for the girls. I was reminded once more I really need to step it up if I am going to cook for our family or ever entertain. Check out Rachel's spread!
|Amazing Australian dessert. Pavlova
|Would you care for a cup of tea?
|View from Rachel's backyard. Wow!
Monday- I met about 20 moms out for coffee. So many of these women used to work in their native countries, but cannot secure working visas here, so they are stay at home moms. It's pretty interesting to hear their stories. I sat next to a woman who has lived here for 7 years (I think). She was so lovely to talk with. She gave me great advice about settling in, meeting locals, and trying to find a counseling job here. It's really nice when you are among so many women and you really hit it off with someone. As I said before, meeting new friends is so much like dating! After coffee, I came home and made dinner for the family! (Woo hoo!) Warren did send me a recipe to follow exactly, sat the fish out to defrost, actually grilled the fish, and made the mashed potatoes...but hey, I made the salad, peeled, cut and boiled the potatoes, and made the marinade for the fish! That is a start! I guess looking back on that, we both made dinner....but I played a big part. I am only going to get better at it, I am sure!
We had a particularly late night on Monday, because after 6 days of 1.5 hours a day of lice combing, I found more bugs on Zoe. Ugh. I decided to step up the treatment plan and douse both girls' heads in listerine for an hour. (I've heard so many treatments this week including the traditional chemical repellent, lemons, coconut oil, frontline for dogs, and white vinegar to remove the nits). So, after the listerine, we used vinegar for an hour and then coconut oil over night. The girls hair was tied up in bags for probably 10 hours. They went to bed late due to the treatment and were up before six for more treatment. I think I am in an uphill battle here though. I want to get rid of it this time, but I know it will be back. I know this is ridiculous, but lice is honestly the thing I am most depressed about in our lives here. Of course, it could be worse....but when I just think about the time spent trying to get rid of these pests...it sickens me. Every day when the girls get home, all we do is comb. I'd rather let them play, do homework, swim...anything...but we comb. On the plus side, I am getting quicker and am able to catch up on some good tv as I comb.
|Positive side: Took this picture from my kitchen sink as I was dousing girls hair in Listerine. Lice in front of me, beautiful mountains in the distance. This place is so full of contrasts....but I am so thankful for the view!
|Zoe still wants to crawl in our bed every night (habit developed when Warren was gone.) Have been discouraging it since lice...but it's hard to turn her down. I am a pushover.
Tuesday - Another coffee date with a new friend who loves to exercise. Hoping to have some good workouts with her in the future. Also, went to dentist after school. How cool is this technology? As dentist works on your teeth, there is a video on your mouth which is then projected onto the wall! I never had that in the states. Also, the dentist cleaned the girls' teeth for $25 each. Wow. I know it must be more in the states.
|dentist technology. so cool.
|waiting for Daddy to get home, wearing Daddy's glasses
Wednesday- Today I went to get curtains for our home. Because I am home during the day, Warren has asked me to take on many domestic projects (curtains, cooking, gardening..yikes!) My first attempt at curtain making/shopping for material was last week and I failed miserably. I couldn't figure out what kind of material, how much, etc. I ended up walking up the long, hot hill to Warren's office... walked inside all sweaty, and nearly started crying when I told him, "I just cannot do this." Luckily, a friend picked me up today and drove me to a huge fabric store. We picked out fabric and a tailor there will make all of my curtains for $10!!! Things are so inexpensive here...well some things like tailors, and gardeners, and household help. Western groceries is a whole other story. Anyway, next week I'll have curtains. Domestic mission accomplished.
What a long, boring blog entry! Sorry about that. More concise, regular, and hopefully entertaining in the future! Until tomorrow then....