Monday, November 30, 2015

Gratitude 30th

Last November gratitude. What to choose? I am grateful for the beautiful sunsets I can see from my apartment window, the brisk winter snow, and the sparkling light show Astana puts on every night between the bridges, buildings and Baiterek. I am grateful for good friends, warm apartments, games, books, and kitties (we're babysitting a friend's cat in a couple of weeks). I am grateful for family, technology, curiosity, and children being sweet and loving. I am grateful for the Wisconsin cheese of the month club gift my mom got Terry for Hanukkah, a gift that arrived early and gives to the whole family. I am grateful that at least some of the Hanukkah gifts for the kids have already arrived, since there won't be another mail run before Hanukkah begins. I am grateful that I have never once in my life had to wonder how I would pay for food the next day or electricity to keep the lights on.

There's more, but this is good for now.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Gratitude 29th

Today I am grateful for the embassy-supplied humidifiers.  They have a wider mouth so the tank can be cleaned more easily than the ones we brought over. And in dry, desertlike Astana, we run those suckers 24/7. The kids' rooms are smaller, so after about a week of constant use they have the humidity level of Pennsylvania or Massachusetts. Our bedroom hasn't gotten there yet, nor has the living room, but at least we aren't quite bathing in lotion anymore. 

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Gratitude 28th - A

I am also grateful today to my husband, who decided to try out the cinnamon roll recipe from the one cooking magazine we get. Wow. The kids agreed it was worth having to take a nap afterwards, they were THAT GOOD.

Gratitude 28th

Today I am grateful for the lady who sells me local eggs in the market.  The summer eggs are orange, winter a bit more yellowy but still a much deeper color than you find in USA grocery stores.  And she sings. Beautifully, like a bird. I will miss her when we leave Kazakhstan.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Gratitude 27th

I can't believe it has taken me this long to get to this one, but today I am grateful for public libraries. For those who have always had good quality libraries nearby, in a language you understand, you can't really fathom what it is like for a reader, having to always calculate how many books are on hand that haven't been read yet or that could manage a second (or third, fourth etc) read, and how to get your hands on new material, and how long it would take to arrive, etc etc.  I am forever grateful too, for Terry for convincing me to try a Kindle and my mother for buying me one last year, as that plus library means I am never far from something to read. Now excuse me while I download a book I've had on hold at my home library for a while.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Gratitude 26th

Today I am grateful for Canada, where (I have learned) the mamas of the turkey I eat today come from.  And I am thankful for good food and good friends. And the knowledge that the "hardships" I face, while real, are hardships some would dream to have.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Gratitude 25th

Today I am grateful for the job I do.  This is something I had considered a dream when I first thought of the foreign service, then for various reasons chose a different path. And yet I still get to do it!  And sometimes I manage to do something meaningful. This week I have participated in debriefings for a number of Kazakhstanis I helped send to the USA to network and share information and best practices with people doing work in the same field. 

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Gratitude 24th

Today I am grateful for the new apartment having two showers. And not just two showers, but two showers that are independent of each others' hot water supply. Running late getting the kids ready for bed? they can shower at the same time!!

Monday, November 23, 2015

Gratitude 23rd

Today I am grateful for my snowy walk to work. It is pretty when the sun rises over the pyramid.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Gratitude 22nd

Today I made bread and yogurt (well, trying. The chill of this apartment, while more comfortable than Nursaya, does introduce some new challenges). We went sledding (across the street!!), then had hot chocolate. The kids are watching a movie while I wrap Hanukkah presents. I am grateful for everything in my life.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Gratitude 21st

Today I am grateful for the car washes in the basement of shopping malls here. While Alex celebrated a friend's birthday and then we had dinner out, the car was transformed from beige (the color of mud and filth) back to gleaming maroon. And no more getting our clothes dirty getting in and out of the car.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Gratitude 20th

Today I am ever so grateful that Terry and I are Pennsylvania residents. Actually, I am often grateful to this, as PA government seems to align with my major issues more often than not and more often than many other states I could have kept "citizenship" with. Most especially, I am grateful that my governor has not only refused to sign up with the other governors trying to refuse to allow Syrian refugees within their borders, but he is openly welcoming them. Can't wait to actually live there again, one day.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Gratitude 19th

Today I am grateful for thoughtful, respectful, constructive disagreements conducted on social media. It almost never happens, but sometimes it does, and both parties can actually learn something and maybe even change their viewpoints. Wish there was more of that in the world!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Gratitude 18th

Today I am grateful for something to look forward to. We just booked out Rest and Relaxation trip over the winter and it involves sunshine and beaches and a country I have never been to.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Gratitude 17th

Sunday was a big day, Zoltan lost his second ever tooth and Alex earned her orange belt at karate.  Today I am grateful to be able to share these moments with my family, and I think of the people who are far from loved ones (deployed by military or foreign service or working in a foreign country to earn enough to support family at home or who have had to leave their countries because they are no longer safe, whether due to general conflict or more targeted danger that leads the person to seek asylum elsewhere ...)

Monday, November 16, 2015

Gratitude 16th

Today I am grateful for the breadbox we just bought this weekend. Why did we wait so long?

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Gratitude 15th

Today I am grateful none of my loved ones - or even just people I know - have been victims of the recent violence. Stay safe everyone, everywhere in the world.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Gratitude 14th

Today I am grateful for modern conveniences, such as internet and international shipping. We can still have Cheddar cheese sometimes, and get Alex some dairy-free alternatives to the foods everyone around her is eating, through the joy of the internet.  I still miss turkey bacon, though. 

Friday, November 13, 2015

Gratitude 13th

Today I am so thankful the week is over. Starting last weekend we celebrated the Marine's birthday and a friend's (mid-week! so fun!) and then moved house, unpacking almost all of the 250 boxes in about 36 hours.  Ready for the weekend and starting fresh again Monday.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Gratitude 12th

Today I am thankful for Sensei Talgat, the kids' karate instructor. He is strengthening their bodies, sharpening their reflexes, disciplining their minds, and teaching them how to count to 10 in "karate" (i.e. Japanese)

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Gratitude 11th

In honor of Veteran's Day, I am grateful for the men and women, and husbands, wives and children, who sacrifice so much for the wellbeing of their country.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Gratitude 10th

(this one is prepped in advance and scheduled because I may not have internet tomorrow)

Today I am grateful for my kids' imagination. When Zoltan came home today to all his toys and things packed up, he ended up deciding to run obstacle courses through the boxes. When we went out for dinner the kids made pretend magical creatures out of the cloth utensil holders the restaurant had, told us stories of their adventures (Alex really got into the back story of how they acquired their magical powers) and kept themselves, and us, entertained while waiting for food.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Moving Day (And Gratitude 9th)

I don't think I mentioned this previously, but we're moving to a new apartment.  The details are unnecessary, just that there were problems with this apartment and the embassy decided it was best if we moved, and we agreed, and the process moved forward.  Now it's all ready.

Other than the obvious, being grateful for an apartment that doesn't have the problems of the old one, the new one is walking distance from the office. And closer to school. The door to Zoltan's room is solid wood (he currently lives in a study - no lock on the door and the door is half glass, which we had to cover with cardboard to keep out the living room light, because all rooms in the current apartment open into the living room. There isn't one square inch of hallway. It's a layout that took a bit of getting used to.)

We are over the moon.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

November Gratitude 8th

Today I am grateful my biggest crisis yesterday was when the babysitter and the taxi both bailed on me at the lastest possible minute, so Terry and I were dressed to the nines for the Marine Corps ball and (almost) didn't manage to go. We were an hour late, but we went. If that was the worst thing that happened that day, then life is pretty good.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

November 7 Gratitude

Eight years in the foreign service and tonight I am going to my second - yep, only second! - Marine Corps Ball.  Today I am grateful for my husband, who is putting on a tuxedo tonight for me even though he hates dressing up.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Thursday, November 5, 2015

November Gratitude 5th

Today I am grateful that my children still hug me, and want to hold my hand. I know the days are coming to an end but as long as I can stretch it I will.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

November Gratitude, 3rd and 4th

Once again I missed a day. Oops.

I am grateful for the wonderful education my children are getting at their international school at post. Not only is the teaching very individualized and high quality, but they are also learning about being in a minority (the school is 75% local children), diversity (not much socio-economic diversity but all other kinds), and just experiencing a different system (it's a British school, so my children have favourite colours, but also for example my daughter learned about "animals of the steppe" in science class)

I am also grateful for my community of colleagues both within the embassy and within other diplomatic missions. It is much easier to do my work when I look forward to getting there.

Monday, November 2, 2015

November Gratitude, 1st and 2nd

As usual I am hitting the annual gratitude a bit late. However, I have a fair excuse. More about that another day.

For today, I am grateful for today's snowfall, because I do love the snow.
I am also grateful nobody I know fell very badly today, because many people at work were running around the city and there were some falls, but so far as I know no major injuries. Especially broken bones. Not on my watch.