Ups and Downs


I have a moment again to get all caught up to the current day.  As mentioned previously, we had a small childhood tragedy last Friday.  After the Ambassador farewell, I picked up the girls from a friend's house in a taxi cab.   This was also a random cab we flagged down without seat belts.  (I really don't want to get used to no seat belts... I am hoping once we have the car the cabs without seat belts will be an exception).  As soon as I got the girls, Zoe fell asleep immediately in the backseat of the taxi.   When the cab dropped us off at the embassy for another meeting, I swooped Zoe up in my arms and carried her in past security.  When the school prep meeting started she woke up slowly and sleepily asked, "Where is blankie?"   My stomach dropped and my heart raced.   "Did you have it in the cab?"   She started crying, sobbing, saying yes...yes, she did have it in the cab.   I looked through my bags, and looked through them again and again.  NO BLANKIE.   We rushed out of the meeting with her sobbing the whole way and me trying to reassure her that we would find it.  We re-traced our steps three times.  NO BLANKIE.    I called the house she was at previously.  NO BLANKIE.   Let me explain this "blankie".    It no longer looked like a blankie at all, but rather like a grey (previously white) blob of tangled, frayed, strands of cloth.   It was pretty nasty.  It stunk because I could hardly ever get it away from her to wash it.  It was filthy, and grimy, and gross.  But, it was her blankie.  She loved it and ever since we moved here she couldn't be without it.  She depended on it.   There was something so sweet about that beautiful, nasty little "blankie".   I am not sure why, but I was on the verge of balling myself throughout the whole search.  I felt so badly for her and so sad to see that part of her childhood gone.   She cried for about an hour.   When we got home I gave her a replacement blankie and her response, "This is completely unacceptable."   She put it away in a drawer.   

A shot of blankie at the mall in Suva

That night we had a babysitter for the first time.  I almost didn't go out because I felt so badly about the lack of blankie, but in the end decided maybe she would do better without me there...not put on a show about the lost blankie and use the new one.   She didn't.   The babysitter called us home from Allegra's CD release party and I had to lay with her until she fell asleep.   The good news is she has now fully adopted the new blankie!  It took a day or two and now she is fine with the new one.  I was such a wreck over nothing.  I think her tears are harder on me than her.  Kids are so tough, so resilient.  If we show anxiety as parents, they pick up on it, and feel even more anxious.  I know this...but living it is the trick.  

After Zoe fell asleep, Warren convinced me to go back out and meet up with some of his local staff and US colleages.  We met them at a hotel for happy hour and then when to a dance club.  It was so fun and so fascinating!  There are a lot of similarities between here and St. Vincent (my island of Peace Corps service) so I frequently expect the same things when it comes to interacting with Fijians. I was totally wrong when it comes to dancing.  In the Caribbean the dancing is very close and very suggestive.  You have got to wind your hips exactly right to be a good dancer.  It is dirty dancing at an extreme.  Even the three year olds dance suggestively because this is the only way everyone dances.  It is not like that here at all.  All the men and women dancing together were a foot apart from one another.  There was some hip moving, but nothing as suggestive as you even see in the states sometimes.  They may be holding hands, but generally, they are just dancing to sweet Fijian music.  It was refreshing actually!  We went to another bar afterwards, which was much more Indo-Fijian and expats, a slightly younger crowd and people were dancing a little closer, but still nothing extreme.  The ladies were all covered up in their dress.  I did not see any short skirts and definitely no cleavage.  Everyone was dressed up (dresses, nice go-out clothes) but nothing suggestive.  It was nothing like the fashion in the states.   The culture here is so much less overtly sexualized.  I cannot wait to learn what it is like in the villages as far as teenagers having sex.  Does it happen?  (I am sure it does).  Is it known or all secretive?  What is the reputation of girls who engage in pre-marital sex?  Do couples ever live together before marriage?   I have a lot to learn.  

On Saturday morning we got up early and headed to the Intercontinental ( for a long weekend.  It was more than AMAZING!  It was such a beautiful place.  As soon as we got out of the car we were greeted with Bula's and pretty shell necklaces around our necks.   We had a beautiful room and the beach was incredible.  We spent the day Saturday playing in the ocean and the pool.  In the evening we went to a fire dancer show.   In the intermission, Andie and Zoe got to play hide n' seek and tag with all of the dancers.  They thought they were with famous people the whole time.  So cute.  The next night there was a drumming show where Andie got to perform in almost every song.   They LOVED it!  What I loved was the beach bure we camped out in all day long.  We were right on the beach and lazily laid around all day in between frolicking in the ocean and jumping around in the pool.  It was one of those days where I just kept breathing in the beach air, gazing at my family, and thinking, "This is perfect.  This is what we look for in life.  These moments.  These content, ideal moments where we could want nothing more."  I don't think I'll ever forget that peace.   

Andie looking for shells

This is the life

View from bure/beach bungalow

Yummy coconut water

horses were all over the place

Had to get the Fiji water shot.   Corny, I know. 

My great family view from inside bungalow

ready to snorkle

But, I think I jinxed us, because I said it aloud.  I told Warren my thoughts about that day had being absolutely perfect, as we all walked hand in hand, dressed up, to a nice buffet dinner right on the ocean as the sun set.   We went into the restaurant and immediately Andie said her stomach hurt.  We brushed it off and told her she was just hungry.  If she ate a good meal, she'd get dessert!!!  She grabbed her tummy and said she didn't think she wanted dessert.  Then I knew it was for real.   After a long time with she and I shoved into a small sweaty stall of her trying to go to the bathroom, we came out to sit at the table and see if she could eat something.   All of sudden, a cough...then throw-up everywhere.   She vomited, and vomited, and vomited.  Looking back, it was almost comical because here we are in this perfect setting, full of great food, beautiful views, and everyone around us dressed for a nice meal...and poor Andie is getting sick everywhere!   We rushed her out of the restaurant with staff following behind us.   I was worried about Andie, but also the cheap part of me wanted to make sure we wouldn't get charged for the dinner.   Warren handled it though.   We got back to the hotel room, put them to bed, and got a take-out pizza.  Poor Andie woke up vomiting throughout the night.  She was better by the the morning, but we were all worn out from the night, so decided to head home early instead of snorkel the day away as previously planned.   We wanted to keep Andie out of the sun too.   Luckily, we made the 2.5 hour trek home without any vomiting in the car.   

Rainbow on the first day of school.  Good sign, right?

And, then, the next day...SCHOOL!!!   The girls were so excited to start their first day of school, especially Andie.   The night before I checked their heads for lice since I know it is a rampant problem here and got them into bed for a good night's sleep.  In the morning, the US Embassy bus picked them up bright and early, and Warren and I followed behind in the car to get them situated on their first day.   They did well at drop off, besides some slight hesitation on Zoe's part.   I came home to write, and clean, and finally get stuff done around here.  (I've got to get a job though! I don't know what I will do with all of this time by myself, but for now I'll enjoy it.)   A friend called to see if I wanted to join her for coffee and meet some other ISS parents.  It was fun.  It's funny friend "dating" either  have chemistry or you don't.   It's always great to meet new people though.   It was actually nice to meet some ex-pats other than Americans.   

Girls ready to go in their cute school uniforms!

Getting on the bus for the first time!

Andie in her classroom

Andie's first grade classroom

Zoe in her classroom

Zoe's classroom

The girls both came home from school very happy.  They both loved it!   Andie and Zoe said they both played all I am not sure about the education they will receive..but hey, it's only the first day and the most important thing for now is that they are happy.  I can always supplement their learning in between lice combing.  Yes, did I mention....they have lice?!?!?!?    After the initial discussions about school, I decided to do a comb out of their hair since all I ever hear about is how rampant lice is here.  I found 2 bugs on Zoe and 3 on Andie...right on the top of their heads.  I cannot believe they got lice on the first day of school!  Honestly, I am totally depressed about this.  I know lice is just a part of childhood, but I am definitely not looking forward to combing out their hair every day for 3 to 5 years!  If you or your kids have ever had lice, you know.  It's a long process.   There is another mom here who said she combs out her kids hair every day and hers have only gotten it once.  Every other mom I discuss it with says they constantly have it... They said you can get rid of it, only to come back the next week.  I don't think I can get used to them having it all of the time...but we shall see.  I am going to stay on top of this.  I already use a lice repelling shampoo, tea tree oil and hair gel.  Their hair is in tight braids.  What else?  At coffee, I was telling the other moms how at the girls' previous school in the states the nurse will check each kid sent home for lice and if they even have nits they cannot come back into school.  All the moms burst out laughing, saying that the school would be completely empty if they did this.  Ok.   Well, I probably sound like a snooty, privileged American who is freaked out by a little bit of bugs.... I know I sound like this.  I am hoping my attitude changes.  It has to, right?   I need to not feed that wolf.   But...while I'm still hot about it...can we just get rid of all the pillows and blankets that they have the kids rest and read on?  Also, why the hats?  How about sunscreen instead?  Why keep all the hats so close to one another?  How can the school prevent this, or is it just completely unavoidable?   Again, maybe the only thing that needs to change is my attitude about it.  I am working on it....

Until next time....


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. This is amazing- this blog, your stories, this adventure... Thank you for it! I don't even know where to begin so will keep it short: The girls look positively adorable in those school outfits. I can barely handle. Your photos look like your family is on a constant world-class vaca, even though I know that's not how it feels. But the surroundings, oh my gosh. I cannot believe you already have friends enough to have the girls go on playdates. But then I can believe it. People love you. And lice. Sucky a** lice. I hope that's the very worst thing that happens in the adventure of a lifetime (plus some sporadic vomit). And finally: Blankie!!! I got sad too because I have personally witnessed and touched the magic of Blankie. But you are so right about kids and how they move on and what a lesson :) Love you guys!

    1. Thanks Yael! I love that you are reading and following along. Makes me feel more connected!

  3. Hey Kate still no Facebook but I guess I don't need it anymore. I love the blog. You look like you're doing a great job adjusting.

    1. Hey Amy! We are adjusting ok, but we miss everyone there! I hope all is well!!


Post a Comment