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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

It's the Great, Ugly, Warty,Speckled Pumpkin Charlie Brown!

Autumn has come to Bahrain. The temperature is in the mid-90's instead of over 100, so life is a little easier. Nothing makes you more homesick than when the season changes...and nothing changes. I am having fun meeting new friends and getting to know the island. It is fun to swap ideas about what to do for the kids to make life a little more "normal" for them. Since we are not in a culture that celebrates All Saints Day, it makes sense that they also have no All Hallows Eve. You can go into the grocery stores that service a lot of ex-pats, but supplies are limited. A real honest to goodness pumpkin will run you about $32.00. So, we improvise with some ugly step-sisters to the pumpkin.Warty gourd-like pumpkins that needs some micro-derm abrasion. We don't have trick or treating, but the kids will have a big hootnanny at the school that will make up for it. We also decorated the house and are planning a family party for daddy when he returns. Costumes, bobbing for apples, scary movies (not that scary), fake vampire teeth,spider rings, the whole thing!

If you are from the farming mid-west or anywhere that has the dramatic season changes, you understand the attraction of Autumn. Sticky summer days replaced with turtlenecks and hot cider. Gorgeous deciduous trees in orange, yellow,green,brown, burgundy. The irresistible need to jump into the leaf pile you just made and wallow around like a pig in mud. Bond fires, hay rides, corn mazes, and trips to the pumpkin patch. Not unlike the hunt for the perfect tree, hunting down that perfect pumpkin takes both speed and a sharp eye. One pumpkin farm did a lump sum all you can carry. you had to be able to walk three steps. These are the moments that you are glad that your husband's nickname in Officer's Candidate School was "pack mule". He was a wonder to behold and they lost money on the Reynolds family that day...I assure you!

Another past time is the haunted house. I can tell you that as I have aged, and the lawyers have gotten a foothold in our country, the haunted houses are not nearly as cool or scary. However, those rules get checked at the gate when you let the Single Marine Program run the haunted house. It is was a fundraiser for them in Japan. They made sure that they earned their pay by giving you the haunted house that they would want themselves. My preteen kids were traumatized and screaming to go again the next night! The ones on Marine bases have "kid hours" and adult hours. The adult hours they scare the crap out of you. No one can sneak up on you and put the fear of God into you better than a painted infantry man. So, I will miss Halloween at home this year. I will miss the Fall in it's entirety. It will be challenging and fun,however, to form memories for my kids of how their Yankee mother saved Halloween and Christmas in Saladin's Court. Ooh-rah.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

A stranger in a familiar land

I have been thinking a lot lately. That is dangerous business. It happens when you move on. The OWC has a motto of sorts at Lejeune and other places too, probably. "Bloom where you are planted". I like it. It comes with a strange perspective. Some people never move. They stay put in their home towns. They marry and have kids and see their parents every weekend. As much as I love my life, I envy them that. Not everyone would agree, depending on the parents they got landed with, I suppose.

I do get a different view of things. It is strange to go home and see nieces and nephews that were in diapers when you left running around talking and having opinions. You are that weird aunt that sends stuff from different countries come to kick them out of their beds for a few days. You have to warm back up to them from months or even years of absence.

You come into town and are hit with the extent your parents are aging. Not seeing them every week, but twice a year, you see it. You feel a pang of guilt. When sister is having sleepovers with mom and the grandkids, you don't get to go. You also don't get to help her catch up the cleaning and the mowing of 16 acres.You try to squeeze in visiting and helping into too short of a time frame. You don't get to be there for the "little surgeries" only the big ones. You get the big stories relayed, the big illnesses, big scandals, big memories. But there are small ones, small moments and little good times and bad that you miss and you never knew you missed them. You are stuck between belonging and being a stranger in your own family.

I have grown so independent and so self-sufficient that it is strange to go back into my parents house and just be able to relax. To not be in charge all the time, like I must be in my own home, is foreign. Having a traveling husband back and forth to war, you just learn to control everything yourself. It is how you mentally survive being in charge of the cubs when papa bear is away. It is hard to shelve that instinct and just sit back and let go. I do know that going home is like a balm, even if the balm stings a little at first. All the stressors and minor crisis and tears and responsibility that weighed on my shoulders since the last 6 months gets sloughed away, even with my resistance. I think that I am blessed to have such a home to go to( fully knowing that not everyone does). I have great in-laws and a family that would put the Ingalls to shame. Now that my oldest are in the military, I think about retirement. Making a homestead for the future with extra beds for visitors. I hope I can do it as well as my mother and my sister and my in-laws have done.