24 September 2015

I hate it when daily life keeps me from doing anything I want to blog about.

I at least am having fun cooking.  There may not be any decent Latino groceries around, but the local apples and peaches are lovely along with a good Asian grocery.  And the library and I are getting along just fine. Also, fall.  Thank you, fall.

It's also nice to be in a place with reasonable for the US public transportation, even if I did spend all day yesterday going to and from the orthodontist.  But I was irritated that I was spending the day that the Pope was in DC sitting at the orthodontist.

At least I can schedule a tour of the White House and the Capitol when I feel like it (except, the White House tour scheduling rules are stupid because you can only pick the day, not the time- I have just about any day, but I can't make it at 7:30 AM any day because we are living here, not touristing here).  And I if my son is sick on the day we have a tour scheduled, we can do it the next week because we'll still be here.

15 September 2015

Georgetown and Alexandria

We did our first DC history trip today and went to Georgetown and Alexandria because they were the only two parts that had anyone living in them before DC happened.  I'm sure we'll go back to these two places because there is plenty of later history in them, but we were focusing on 18th-century buildings and the boundary markers today.

We walked into Georgetown from the Foggy Bottom Metro and went by the Old Stone House first, 3001 M Street, and 1204 30th Street.  I was counting on reading historical markers along the way and that worked nicely.  The Old Stone House is only open Wednesday-Saturday after 11 so I hadn't planned on actually going inside since that isn't a good time for us to be there, but walking by worked for us.

We saw the Matthew Hyde house at 1319 30th Street, the Thomas Beall house at 3017 N Street, the Laird-Dunlop at 3014 N Street, and the George Beall house at 3033 N Street.  We also went by the Yellow House on 1430 33rd Street, the Yellow Tavern on 1524 33rd Street, Quality Hill on 3425 Prospect, and Prospect House on 3508 Prospect.  We saw City Tavern on the corner of Wisconsin and M Street and the old Dodge Warehouse at the end of Wisconsin.  And last of all was the Forrest-Marbury House where the Ukraine Embassy is today.  We walked over Key Bridge to the Rosslyn Metro to go to Alexandria.

We walked into Old Town Alexandria from the metro and stopped at Gadsby's Tavern on 134 North Royal Street, the Bank of Alexandria on 133 North Fairfax, the Carlyle House on 121 North Fairfax, and the Ramsey House on 221 King Street.  And we got lunch before trekking out to Jones Point Park to see the south boundary marker.

We were going to stop at the marker in the Benjamin Banneker park on the way home but had run out of steam.  We can easily go there another time.

I'd never had much chance to wander around Georgetown and Alexandria so I loved it and we saw a lot of interesting places.  The whole thing took about 6 hours.

11 September 2015

Refugee Crisis and the Math

I haven't been online much the last week or two while the Syrian refugee crisis has finally been getting the media it attention it deserves. It makes me happy that it is getting that attention, but angry that it took this long.

People have been dying in Syria, fleeing into neighboring countries, drowning in the Mediterranean, suffocating in trucks in Europe, and we finally found one little boy's death that is galvanizing people to do something about this.  It is appalling that it took this long for the world to pay attention to this catastrophe.  That little boy wouldn't have died if we had done something sooner, and we should have paid attention years ago.

I also hate the fact that the only reason why this has become news is because it's affecting Europe and that people keep saying that Muslim countries should do more.*  So let's talk about what Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey have been doing to help.

Turkey's population is around 75 million and it has taken in 2 million refugees over the last several years.  2,000,000.  If the US took in a similar number of refugees in relation to its population, the number would be 8.5 million.  Can you imagine the US taking in 8.5 million people from Central America who were in desperate condition?  The US has just announced it will take in 10,000 Syrian refugees.  Pathetic.

The EU would need to take in 13.5 million refugees to match Turkey's rate.  There have been about half a million refugees going to Europe.

Now Jordan.  Jordan already had a lot of Iraqi and Palestinian refugees and now it has a lot of Syrian refugees- 1 million are expected to be there by the end of the year** and there have been hundreds of thousands there for years.  Jordan has a tiny population- only 6.5 million people.  The US would have to take in 40 million refugees and Europe 63.5 million refugees to match what Jordan has done.  Those numbers are mind-boggling.  Again, the US has agreed to accept 10,000 Syrians.

Lebanon doesn't have camps but its ratios are similar to Jordan's.

I completely understand that it's hard for Europe to deal with so many people arriving who desperately need help, but we have ignored the problem for too long and it must spill over into other parts of the world because Jordan and Turkey cannot do this on their own. Yes, Europe is having its own financial problems, but it's certainly not worse off than Jordan and Turkey, even Greece and Italy.  People won't sit in desperate conditions forever waiting for conflict to end and they have the right to find a better place to live.  We must do better at helping them find that place.

*The Gulf states could and should be doing more.  But countries like Saudi Arabia have very specific reasons why they don't allow many Arabs in and those reasons aren't targeted at Syrians specifically.  It is extremely unlikely that Saudi will change its policy (and honestly, most Syrians would choose to go to almost any other country than have to live in Saudi Arabia).  It would be more useful to pressure the Gulf states to work out a political solution because that would do more to help end the crisis than anything else.

**Some estimates have this number as high as 2.5 million in Jordan.  The US would need to take in over 100,000,000 refugees and Europe over 150,000,000.

10 September 2015

Homeschooling 2015

Last year was not our best homeschooling year ever, but we got through all the things and are ready for this year.

The youngest is in public school.  It's the first time I've ever sent a child to public school in the US and so far, if you can tell anything from a couple of days of school, he's delighted with it, as expected.  He hasn't gotten through any evenings without tears yet and we're working hard to help him get enough sleep and get used to being gone for 8 hours a day, but I think he'll be okay.

The oldest is doing his online high school and starting college classes this year.  He's also working as a referee for kids' sports and waiting to be allowed to get his driver license.  And he's enjoying being around his extended family.

So my middle son is again my only real homeschooler.  He's continuing with the Well-Trained Mind Academy by taking writing, literature, biology, and creative writing, along with doing Singapore Math and Life of Fred Geometry, Spanish at the local high school, hockey with the high school, and our Washington DC history class.  I think it'll be a good year.

As for me, I decided not to take Arabic with my husband this year.  It was just doable, but it would have sucked up my life and I just couldn't give up everything else to work full-time on a language I can easily get back to a decent level on my own.  It will be a challenge to find opportunities to use Arabic in Saudi, but I think it can be done.  It is SO WONDERFUL to return to Arabic.  I'm going to spend 2-3 hours a day studying on my own.

07 September 2015

So, we're in the US.  I obviously don't like that fact, but the move back this time hasn't been quite as bad for me because it's not even for a full year and I get to be in Washington DC.  Also, we're living in the same apartment building we lived in before so I know how to deal with everyday life here. It was nice to go to a football party with people we knew before and to be invited to a barbecue today.   And we are not living on the financial edge like our previous moves to the US so we could do things like rent a car for the first few days, eat out a few times, and get the groceries and clothes everyone needs.  We're lucky we had nice families to help us with the transition when we came back from Kyrgyzstan both times.

The best part about this move is getting my middle son back.  He's been in the US for the summer.  He is happy to be home with us and happy to be in this part of the country and back with kids he knows.  It is so good to have him home.

The worst part about this move is that my youngest son is having a hard time with it.  If you know him, send him a hug.  He needs it.  I think he'll be fine very soon, but he was so amazingly happy in Guadalajara and he has had a lot of big changes in the last few days so he's feeling sad and is going a bit loopy.

It is nice to return to the US after being in Mexico because there are so many more reminders here of Mexico than there are of Kyrgyzstan.  Mexican products in the grocery store, Spanish on all the signs, Latinos everywhere, Mexico just has a much bigger influence here and that's wonderful.  It's like Kyrgyzstan is just an illusion when I'm not there.

There is a new Asian store near us.  I love it.  I barely got out of there because I broke my number one rule of going shopping on foot which is to never get a cart (because you will buy too much stuff and then have to get it home without a car) and I bought too much stuff and had to get it home without a car.  But I got it home somehow, including the case of coconut milk.  We had boy choy for dinner last night and there are long beans and jusay in the fridge.  I didn't even have fish sauce in Guadalajara for the last few months so I've been feeling seriously deprived of some of my favorite things to eat.

Also, I have been eating extra sharp cheddar cheese.  I missed that in Mexico.

School starts tomorrow and I think we are actually ready for it.  I think I should get an award or something for starting school less than a week after an international move.

03 September 2015

Dear Mexico

Almost two years ago I wrote you a letter apologizing for not wanting to move here.  I was so wrong for hesitating to come.  I have had the most amazing two years here and now it's ending.

I'm getting on an airplane today that takes me away from you and even though I hope I'll get to come back someday, at least for a visit, I don't know if I'll actually be able to.  It wasn't all perfect here, but the things I didn't love weren't your fault (the only exception would be the mosquito and jejene bites). And, just like I predicted in that letter, I am going to miss you forever.

I am going to miss everything about you.  I will miss the thunderstorms in the summer that light up the sky and turn the roads outside to rivers and pounded on the skylights.  I will miss buying tamales on the street corner.  I will miss climbing pyramids. I will miss people who are endlessly patient with my Spanish and who are always willing stop to help complete strangers get out of really big messes.  I will miss your street art and fine art.  I will miss your mariachis and Zeta gas jingles.  I will miss your fiestas and danzas, your pilgrimages and pinatas.  I will miss Mexico DF and Morelia, Guanajuato and San Blas, Campeche and Santa Elena.  I will miss exploring everywhere we could.  I will miss meeting members of the church in five different states and hearing their stories.  I will miss your food forever.

There is so much here that I ran out time for.  Aguascalientes, Zacatecas, El Tajin, Oaxaca, so many interviews, hot air balloon festivals, bird watching, whale sighting and more.  I could live here forever and never get bored. But I also saw and did so much while we were here and I know that when another plane takes me to Riyadh in a few months, I'll dig in deeply there too.  Even though I always have to keep leaving, I'm always arriving and discovering a new place.

Thank you for letting me visit, dear Mexico, and hasta luego.

01 September 2015

La Luz del Mundo

My husband had been wanting to see this church the entire time we've been here since it's a big building and he likes big buildings so we finally stopped on the way out to Tepa.  It was a big day there since it was the Sunday after the biggest holy day of the year for the church.