Happy Halloween From ZOMBIA

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Opa gets credit for that one!  Thanks Dad!!

Mike started our day with some One-Eyed Jack-O’Lanterns:

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And we are so thankful for our grandmothers!  Mimi gave us a pumpkin table runner a few years ago, and then Oma gave us another one this past year.  They fit together perfectly!!!!  In our sterile government home, still waiting for all of our own things to arrive on the boat, these pumpkins made us think of you and made us feel happy :).

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You can see in the background that we are working on what is becoming a Halloween tradition for us.  Who doesn’t love an Oreo cookie spider?  The boys love to help stick the eyes on.  This year we used tic-tacs.  Mommy likes them because she doesn’t have to have her back turned in the kitchen making cookies, and there is nothing to clean up.  It’s just fun!

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Double Stuf oreos work a little better than the regular ones.  There is more room for the legs.  At first we only had six legs in because they didn’t fit very well, but then Mike said they looked like ticks, so we forced in two more.  Sweet and salty!  Perfect!!

This year our Halloween was the closest to “American” that we’ve had since living overseas.  Last weekend, we all gathered at the Marine House to carve watermelons, which turned out GREAT.  They have little mini watermelons here and they are a perfect size for carving.  Also much easier than pumpkins to get the goo out of the middle.  On Thursday, the kids wore their costumes at school and had Halloween cupcakes, then Saturday we had a trick-or-treating party in one of the housing complexes.  There were lots of kids!

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Mike and I felt pretty proud of ourselves for actually being ready for this.  Halloween costumes were one thing we came prepared with!

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Here are some pictures of our neighborhood on the walk over.  Amos, our current guard, is really nice.  He helped Mike fix his bike, and he’s really patient with the boys.

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The purple Jacaronda trees have faded, and now the city is blazing with the red Flamboyants:

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We love our neighborhood.  On Saturday and Sunday mornings, Eli and Jake like to wake up extra early (6:30).  At first this seemed like a tragedy to Mike and I, but then they started asking to go out and ride their bikes before breakfast and now it has become one of the best parts of our weekend.  We get up, get our shoes on, and the boys all ride through the neighborhood while I run along behind.  I thought we’d given up running for good, but now here it is back in our life again.  I have to get in shape again!  My kids are just so awesome.  I love the way they keep making life better than we ever dreamed.

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We sacrifice a lot by living overseas, but it’s definitely not as hard as it could be.  By working for the Embassy, we have a group of people who are committed to keeping our culture relevant, which is after all part of why diplomats exist.  To share who we are, to get to know new people, and also just simply to BE.  This last week we were invited to have lunch at the Palestinian Ambassador’s home, and it was a lovely afternoon.  I’m sure we could come up with a lot of reasons why we “shouldn’t” have been there, but what we remember is a family who greeted us warmly, a woman who cooked all day and even killed a sheep to treat us as her guests of honor, and a few hours of talking about our countries, our allies, our histories, and our children.  We talked about living overseas and missing home, about how nice it is to have a cat to eat some of the bugs in the house, and shared ideas about brewing coffee and where to find the best beef in town.  We left with a box of sugar cubes, because I remarked about how nice it was to see sugar cubes in their home.  We just came from Azerbaijan where the only kind of sugar you could buy was in a cube, and here there was none.   No amount of protest could convince them to keep their sugar!  No amount of protest could convince them either that we were full after our first two plates of food.  Mike, the boys, and our friends were stuffed to the brim with more food than we could handle!  Kebabs, plov, chicken, rice, shrimp, and four kinds of dessert.  We tried refusing but our efforts were futile.  We didn’t eat until dinner the next day!

Being a diplomat is fun.  Even though we’re far away, we are meeting people and learning about PEOPLE, things that we could never get from the news or a magazine report.  It all starts with people, and I’m starting to understand the way that one at a time, people can really change the world.

It is pretty empowering.

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