Monday, August 29, 2011

The daily routine begins...

Here we are at the beginning of another school year. Last Monday was the first day of school...filled with the promises, energy and hope for a great new learning experience.
My daughter was the most excited because she gets to join middle school...even though she is only in the 5th grade.
Here in Atyrau, since the class sizes are quite small and there is a limited number of teacher visas, the grades are combined. 5th is combined with 6th...therefore jetting her into middle school a year earlier than in most US schools.
Her eyes were wide with excitement, and she has loved it all...well, at least for the first week!
We have a new head of school who is brining a lot of new energy and excitement that was badly needed from what I saw last year.

The first days of school always remind me how precious time is, and how quickly it passes. This past summer flew by on the Key West breezes. I miss the relaxation of our home, but I framed it for us to remember those lazy days while we are here in Atyrau.

We have already booked the Christmas tickets and have the weeks marked on the calendar, counting backwards until we leave with tomorrow bringing week 15 :)

The weather is gorgeous here right now. The days still have the warmth of the sunshine but the air is crisp. The seasons are so true here. The summer was very hot, now in fall, we are warm and cool at the same time, winter is frigid and spring is a gorgeous explosion of color with the warming air to de-thaw everything it touches...(including me!)
I am hoping fall lasts for a long time...I'm not ready for the cold and snow yet.
Enjoy your week!

Monday, August 22, 2011


Then came Saturday...
(sorry it took me so long to finally get to Saturday....see previous post if you are lost!)

We had to wake up at 4:30 in the morning to make our flight to pick up the children.
Now, normally that would have been hard....and it was for about 30 seconds, and then we both realized what we were going to do. We got up, took showers, finished the last minute packing items, and off we were. I think we were both so excited to become a complete family again!

We took the flight...(hurry up!), split between getting the suitcases (me) and renting the car (my husband) and getting on our way. Our split system worked great seeing as by the time I got the suitcases and made the trek to the rental car counter, he was signing on the dotted line and off we went. The drive took about an hour and a half. (hurry up!)
Of course the scenery was beautiful, Switzerland always is, but we seemed to almost not even notice. We were more looking at which car was going to get in our way (hurry up!) and how we could pass them!

Then we got to camp, and there they were, sitting watching a movie. Our cool, collected son waved and said hi. Our daughter's eyes grew about 3 times their size, a huge smile crossed her face and she gave her friend a hug and was in our arms in no time flat! The feeling was mutual from both of us to both of them. It felt so good to be back with them, hearing all their stories...
even our son talked quite a bit about his adventure. They both learned a lot...kept busy and had us entertained during the drive to Zurich, where we were spending the night.

What a great feeling...our children with us, the scenery, which we finally saw again beautiful, the air crisp, the raspberries we bought at the local store so sweet...ah, in our heaven!

And they both thanked us for letting them go to this camp...
and asked if could they go back next year.
Can you see the smile on our faces?

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

London calling...

What a whirlwind of a week it was...
First part:
my husband and I jetted off to London...where I took in the sights, sounds, smells and crowds of this great city.
I tend to like big cities. I like that I can walk around feeling anonymous and no one is looking or caring what I have on, what shape my face is, the funny language that I speak. This is what usually happens in the different countries I live in, but not London. There are people visiting and living in this city from all corners of the Earth.
(I always found this a quant phrase, going back to when the world was flat!)

I love to walk...and London is the perfect city to walk in. I like the craziness of the mid-day lunch crowd and the bits and pieces of conversations that you overhear. Then again, the Underground of this city is fabulous and easy to understand as well. I like the combination of the two.

I did hurt my foot, unfortunately. I do not know how it happened. One minute I am walking through the beautiful St. James park,

and the next minute, the side of my foot is starting to throb. I figured it best to see the doctor in a big city, as opposed to the SOS clinic they have in Atyrau. She seemed to think it was nothing more than a sprain/strain, no need for an x-ray in her opinion....
but a week later, swollen foot, serious pain when I walk more than 2 feet continuously, I'm starting to worry. I may have to give in and have it x-rayed here in Atyrau.

Of course this didn't stop me from touring St. Paul's Cathedral,
the main church for the Church of England.

I learned a bit while listening to the audio tour...some interesting tidbits on the people buried there, the reasons for certain structures in the church...
Strolled through Covent Garden...quite a flurry of excitement amidst the shops, restaurants and bars. The pub is the place to be after work obviously.
My husband and I noted how you do not often see people hanging out on street corners surrounding the nearest bar in the US. I know that there are happy hours and people do congregate, but it seems different in London. The vibe is very energetic and outside!
Maybe we have lucked out and had sunshine every time we have visited London...well, one day of some rain this trip, but not the gloomy skies I always heard about!

We ate at some nice restaurants..a tapas bar with yummy Spanish treats and wine, an Italian fish restaurant where we were entertained by an Italian couple from Puglia that my husband works with, the local Starbuck's for breakfast ;)

It was fun and exciting.
and then came part two: Saturday....

Monday, August 1, 2011

Empty nesting...

It is a strange couple of words...empty nest.
It is so often used for couples whose children have "left the nest".
What I have always found in the bird world, though, is that the Momma and/or Pappa bird is exactly trying to do that with their little ones. They do feed them and grow them strong, but with the purpose that they can thrive on their own and fly.

So, that is the opportunity we have given our children for two weeks. They must fly on their own.

They have been in a camp in Switzerland, while I returned to Atyrau to be with my husband. It has been a strange mix of emotions for me. I have had my son take school trips before, but never the both of them at the same time.
It was hard to see them going to the different stations to check in for the first day of camp...they had the registration desk, the bank, the health desk, the French language desk for our son and the activities desk for our daughter. They seemed so strong and capable, which made me feel very proud. My daughter got her room assigned, and with a kiss and hug, up the elevator she went to unpack and settle in. My son took a little longer because he had an on-the-spot French chat to gauge where they would place him. He is always the one to sort of shoo me out the door though. Once his room was assigned he waved and said see ya!

Then there I was...on my own. without my two little ones needing me. I spent the night in a hotel close by and kept checking out on the balcony, hoping to see a sort of "Sound of Music" group of children, that of course would include my own, traipsing through the beautiful hills that surround this area of Switzerland.
The next day I arose, and still no sounds of any children..and weighing heavy on my heart, all the children lost to the maniac in Oslo, Norway.

The trip home started well, got to Istanbul, spent the evening in the hotel and was on my way the next morning to be with my, wait a minute...there I was, of course paying for my overweight baggage, when the phone rings. Now I normally would not have answered it, except that I looked at the number displayed for some reason, and noticed the country code was Switzerland! Uh-oh...did I make a mistake? Did someone get hurt?
No, it was just my daughter, missing me. It was hard to be strong for her because I missed her just as much. I wanted, in a way, to run to her and hold her. But I knew she would be fine as the days wore on, and that she would have fun. My husband and I hope that she, and our son, grow from this experience of being away.
That is our get them ready to fly out of the nest.

Oh, and my empty nesting home? It has been a wonderful week and I only expect it to get better. I marvel at how my husband and I have overcome many things in our lives, and we still find the magic that binds us together.
We leave for London tomorrow...a business trip for him, that I get to tag along on because I'm empty nesting. We go for the children on Saturday, which will be another high point in my two weeks, where we fill our nest again, to help them continue to grow. It goes so quickly, so we cherish every moment that we have, even if that means letting them go, sometimes ;)