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.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

A Happy Reunion with the Big Kidlets

No tears (although it was hard).  Kiddos traveled unaccompanied for the
first time!  They're already travel pros and did just fine on the five-hour flight.
I'm exhausted after a very long week, and it's not just because I worked the last six days straight in the ER.  And truthfully, I couldn't be happier!

The fab hubby and I decided to burn through some of those UNITED AIRLINES miles we'd been racking up over the years, opting to fly the big kiddos from Ohio to me in California last weekend (remember...they evac'd outta Cairo on the 4th of July).  Ohio is our [taxable] "home of residence," and the fab hubby and the kiddos had been catching up with family there for the previous two weeks.  

Of course, the evacuation changed everything we'd been planning for the last six months.  The fab hubby's PCS to Washington, D.C. was accelerated by a month and now starts at the beginning of August instead of September.  Unfortunately, since I was unable to leave Cali early due to my upcoming military orders, we were sort of in a bind trying to figure out what to do with the kidlets for the remaining summer (all of August!!).

Not to worry though! Because, of course it's a super small FS world out there.  Last summer we had sponsored an arriving family at the Embassy and that family and our family became fast friends --- all of us, adults and kids alike.  Well, that family recently PCS'd to Camp Pendleton here in SoCal. After a quick text to my girlfriend there, we actually had the plan in place before the kids even hit U.S. soil from Egypt.  I couldn't be more grateful, as she had also watched out for my kids in Egypt all during the six months of my absence.  Really, how do you say thank you to someone who loved on your kids and treated them as if they were her own?

And now, suddenly our kids are slated to have an awesome summer.  Earlier this week, I dropped Owen and Abby off in Camp Pendleton to hang with these besties and they'll be headed to surf camp later in the month with them.  SURF CAMP.  When just three weeks earlier they were stuck in Cairo watching the world around them collapse.  So happy to have my kids happy again.

And speaking of HAPPY!  I had the best three day long weekend with the big kidlets before I dropped them off with our friends.  Now, I'm simply going to let the pictures do the talking.  It.Was.Amazing.  (And yes, I managed not to cry when they emerged from the airplane.)

New scooters!  And riding in downtown Long Beach.

A boy and his dog reunited.

Riding the waves.  It was an overcast weekend.  But they still
loved playing in the ocean.

So awesome.

Definitely my favorite picture of the weekend.
She's always been a California girl.

Sweet treat at one of our favorite bakeries in Belmont Shore.
Took the kiddos to the lego exhibit at The Science Discovery Center in Santa Ana.
Owen tells me he's a tween and that he doesn't smile for pictures.
Whatever.  I still totally adore him.

Science Center fun.  Owen didn't realize I caught him smiling!

She adores her brother.  He kinda adores her, too.

Scowl away, broody tween.  In just a few years you'll have your own
Facebook account and I'm going to tag you on EVERY SINGLE scowling
photo you take.  You've been warned.

Still missing The Toddler so much!  But he's obviously not suffering.
Here he is at my parent's house.  (Don't worry - he's not driving this thing!)
He'll be hanging with both my parents and the fab hubby's parents for
the next few weeks.  He's definitely getting loved and spoiled!
My summer's not so bad now any more.  But a BFF Frap
always makes things even better.

Got this on my shoulder the week after the evacuation.  "Wanderlust" with five
birds, one for each of us in our family.  Because even with all the crazy, we
absolutely love what we do and look forward to more.

The kids and their besties.  ALL SIX OF THEM together for nearly three
weeks!  Our friends are super amazing for letting our two big kid hang
out for so long!  Surf camp for all these munchkins in two weeks!

Thursday, July 4, 2013

The Kids Are Safe AND I Don't Have Cancer

The kids are safe and I don't have cancer.

That has been my mantra for the past week!  My mole biopsy came through last Wednesday, and it's not a melanoma.  It IS severely abnormal and I'll have to have a sizable chunk of skin surgically removed, but it's NOT cancer.  I was so excited!  Lots of promises made to God that included sunscreen. [Although a little side note here:  the mole was located on my body where the sun DOESN'T shine.  But I still promise to beef up the sunscreen.]

And I was all ready to sit down and put my happy words on my blog.

And then Cairo happened.  I'm not even going to sugarcoat it.  The last five days have been nearly unbearable.  Not knowing exactly what was happening there, feeling so completely out of control of the situation (but to be fair - I wouldn't have any more control of it even if I were there).  Evac or no evac?  That was the question.  And we stood by no evac until ordered otherwise.

I knew the kids were safe, but I of course kept wishing they were home.  And yes, I worried constantly and fretted and I even brushed away a few tears.

I was coming off a horrid week anyway (cancer vs. no cancer), so my mantra became:

The kids are safe and I don't have cancer. 
 But after five days of unrest and some major political changes, there was no more option for authorized departure.  Call from the fab hubby at 9AM on the west coast = 6PM in Cairo.  Ordered departure was on.  He was packing up some stuff and getting the kids and their chosen favored belongings in order.  (Our house was due to pack out on July 11.  Bummer.)   

And after a gazillion emails and phone calls and messages and more emails and phone calls and messages, he and the kids made their way to Cairo's airport less than 12 hours from the time he first called me and flew out to Germany and will soon be on their way to DC.  No, I won't be seeing them any earlier (my military orders for my Reserve Training are in the very near future and can't be altered).  But they are safe.


Some things I need to jot down before I forget - and my apologies for this being so short, but I worked today in the ER late into the evening, and I'm flipping back into another shift early in the AM (oh, thank God for coffee!):

I'm so grateful to everyone who reached out to us over the past week.  Heck, for the past six months!  Our friends, our family, all of you.  Thank you, thank you! from the bottom of my heart.

And to everyone at the Embassy (yeah, I'm pointing at you, GSO!) who helped to get the ordered departure organized and running so smoothly in a the crunch of a mere few hours:  I am impressed and grateful. 

The fab hubby will simply (haha! as if any of this is simple) be starting his next assignment early.  Family and friends across the U.S. have offered to help with the kids since I'm still away -- and we've taken many of them up on the offers.  In fact, shhhh....but a nice little trip to Los Angeles just might be in order for the big kids for a few weeks this summer.

Because you know what?  The kids are safe.  And I don't have cancer.

It's not at all how we envisioned our first assignment concluding, but that's exactly what it is.

One more thing, and this is in regards to Egypt itself.  This past week has been a victory to many of the people living there - and while I make no political statement whatsoever about the outcome, I am hopeful for Egypt's future.  After spending hours reading news stories and looking at pictures of the demonstrations, this is the picture that holds a special place in my heart.  Because in the end, all of us, every single one of us, no matter what nationality or religion, just want our children to have a chance for good future and to be safe and loved.

I don't know where I found this picture (wish I did, so that I could give credit), but this is a beautiful, intimate moment of hope.