Welcome to the Wandering Drays!

Not all who wander are lost...

Welcome to my blog dedicated to my family and our crazy foreign service life. Never content with staying in one place, we are excited to share our journey. We've survived two unaccompanied tour (Baghdad 2010-2011 and Baghdad again in 2015-2016), multiple TDYs, and enjoyed a two-year family assignment in Cairo, Egypt. The fab hubby is currently learning Turkish for our next assignment...Istanbul, Turkey! We leave for Turkey sometime in summer 2017. I write about what I know. Which is mainly kids, tween drama, gross pets, dealing with lots of government info, our moving adventures, being a nurse, yoga, running, living on too-little sleep, and an addiction to coffee lattes. I hope you'll enjoy this glimpse into our lives.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Abby Turns Eight!

She's always loved the beach.
Ein Soukna, Egypt

Again, it happens.  Time goes by so very quickly, and I didn't really realize it.  But there it is.  Staring me in the face.  

I blink and she’s suddenly a kid and so very tall.  But I remember that tiny, blond-wisp haired baby I so delicately held in my arms.  Such a sweet baby, with big blue dazzling eyes and the most infectious giggles.

I blink and she’s talking.  I blink and she’s singing.  I blink and she’s skipping down the sidewalk on her tippy-toes.  Baseball and American Girl Dolls.  Swimmng and singing solos in her school concert.  Oh, how did she suddenly become so independent?

The best big and little sister alike.  She’s the middlest, so she likes to say, stuck between a stubborn toddler brother and a (somewhat) bossy older brother.  But she can hold her own, and she’s quick with the cutting words that lets you know who’s in charge.  

Incredibly loyal and protective of her friends,  she's kind and generous with the biggest heart.  Thoughtful and precise, she has the amazing ability to see everything that's going on around her --- not just what's in front of her at the moment.  

I miss her so much and I wish I was with her on her special day to celebrate her eighth birthday.  I don’t know where time went, and I know it’s not likely to slow down any time soon...

Happy Bithday to our very beautiful and sweet, smart and independent Abby.  We love you so much and we're so very proud of you.

No so very long ago, she was a toddler who loved the beach.
Long Beach, CA 2009

Loves baseball!

Not afraid to tell you what she's loves about the U.S.A.
Bacon and Taylor Swift.

Always a sweetie.  She thoughtfully emailed me
to let me know that she and her little brother
were having a dance party.  Love this.

On a lunch date in Cairo.
Oh, how I miss her!


Friday, March 22, 2013

Life Keeps Moving Forward

Time flies.  Even when you're not always having fun.  I've been separated from my family now for about six weeks, and I swear it seems like I just got here.

That's a good thing.  Because the faster time goes, the sooner I'll see them.

And it's not that I'm NOT having a good time - it's just lonely sometimes.  I see something cool, I go somewhere special, I discover something new.  And I want to share it with the fab hubby or the kiddos.  But I won't get that chance anytime soon.  Four and a half months to go.

But it IS awesome here.  I live a mere two blocks from the beach and most everything I need is within walking distance.  Long Beach is pet friendly, and I walk my fav pooch everywhere.  She's actually a good companion.

I never grow weary of the sunset at the beach.  Never.  And I find myself drawn there frequently, taking a moment to breathe in the salty air and feel the cool breeze on my face.  My Facebook profile is loaded with terrible amateur photo shots of sunsets.  I can't help myself.  I see it and I want to savor it.

Sunset over the pier at Seal Beach.

Really.  I can't help myself.  And these photos are awful.  But I love it here.

Check out the fav pooch's swagger.
Starbuck strutting her stuff.

I hate that I'm missing out on so much with the kiddos and the fab hubby.  I struggle between guilt and sadness each time I talk to them.  And yet, the kiddos are doing just fine.  I think we don't give kids enough credit.  They manage their emotions pretty well.  The older ones tell me when they are feeling sad and they keep me updated on what's going on at school and with their friends.  Kellen pops in and out on FaceTime with a hearty "HI MOMMA!" and then goes back to his toys.  Sometimes, he'll kiss the screen.  That's a bit heartbreaking, but he seems to enjoy talking on FaceTime, so I try not to worry too much about him.

Some dear friends in Cairo have been making sure I'm getting glimpses into the daily life of the kiddos:

Kellen swiped a piece of cake from a nearby party at the Maadi House.

The big kiddos at International Day at their school.
Abby at Kid's Day.  Love her smile.
Owen has been begging us for a cat.  Here's his little rescue cat, Boots.
Ok, this is an older photo, but I miss them so much.  Two of my favorite men.
Yup. This is an older photo, too.  But I can't
wait to see the fab hubby again.

In other news, I had to have a tooth removed and a bone graft placed in my jaw.  To make a horrific story short, the tooth had been damaged from years ago - likely from the palate extender/braces combo I endured in my late teens (no complaints, though - the braces took care of seriously crooked teeth).  Thankfully, I was knocked out for the dental surgery.  It took about 1 1/2 hours for the surgeon to remove the molar and place some bone that will become the anchor for the implant surgery I'll do in early 2014.  Not fun. Although the drugs.  The drugs are fun.  The anesthesia-induced dreams were super groovy, and I although I attempted to go to work the next day, I lost that battle as I nearly passed out when standing on my feet.  No worries, though; I went home and slept for 15 hours and indulged in an ice cream dinner.

Post-dental surgery dinner of champions.

And finally.  The topic I've been trying to avoid.  My arthritis.

Yesterday, I went to Cedars Sinai Rheumatology Clinic and met with an awesome Rheumatologist.  She and I poured over my blood results and X-rays; she did a thorough physical assessment, looking at my hands, the deformed left pinky finger, and my painful feet.  I was all ready to go on a medication regiment.  In November, when I was diagnosed,  it had looked like it was likely early Rheumatoid Arthritis.  The inflammation, the early-morning stiffness in my small joints.  But my blood work was negative.  She was glad I wasn't on any medication - because the medication for RA is not appropriate for my arthritis.

Diagnosis?  Inflammatory/Erosive Osteoarthritis.  Typically, osteoarthritis is a non-inflammatory process, attributed to years of wear and tear on joints (like knees and hips).  But there is a subset of osteoarthritis that has an inflammatory component - and that's what I have.  It doesn't respond well to any meds, and the course of action is kindness to my joints and pain management. Some fingers already have lost cartilage and are bone on bone.  My feet likely as well.  She recommended I find exercise other than running (umm....sure), and gave me some ideas on natural remedies.  But the deformities will continue and there is little that can be done about it.

I dunno what to say at this point. Sure, I'm thankful it's not RA. RA can affect the body in multi-systemic ways.  BUT at the same time I am ANGRY.  There's no real treatment?  No possible medication to slow down the erosion of my joints?  I'm only 37 years old.  By the time I'm 80, what will my hands look like?  Will I even be able to use them??  And there's not much I can do to stop the process.  Maybe only slow it down.

The doctor was kind and answered all of my questions.  I'm doing a follow-up appointment with her in July.

I left in a bit of a stupor.  I was all ready to start a medication regiment and it's not even an option.  I made my way to the beach; I always feel safe there.  I took a nap and did some thinking, listening to the waves crash across the sand.

I don't know what's in store for me.  I feel helpless and pushed up against a wall with little course of action and no options.

Give up running?  Will it even help? Maybe.  Maybe not.

So for now, I refuse to think too much about it.  I won't let it own me.  I won't let it define me.

I am a runner.  Maybe I'm just meant to be a slower runner, shorter distances. Someone who takes the time to stop and walk and take in the view during a run.

Weight loss.  Yeah.  This is a touchy subject.  I've gained a LOT of weight since November when I was diagnosed.  I fell into a bit of depression with the arthritis and I let it push me around.  No more.  Weight loss will help alleviate the wear on my large joints and on my feet.

Yoga.  I do like yoga.  And I've joined a hot yoga studio.  It definitely helps my joints.

That's it for now.  Three things to focus on. Safe/shorter distances when running (Although I am signed up for a 1/2 marathon in May.  It will likely be my last.)  Weight loss.  Yoga.

I know in the near future, I'm going to need to address some other issues with the arthritis.  But for now, this will have to do.  I still need time to process it and accept it.

For now, this sums it up.