Well hello there! My my, time certainly flies pretty fast when your life gets so crazy busy that you can't keep up. So, in an effort to answer the question that is the title of this post, THIS is where we have been these last few months.
Lets's see...when we left off, it was December and we were in the middle of packing up our home in Adana to move (temporarily) back to the states. We celebrated Christmas and then the New Year, after which we promptly loaded our eight suitcases, two car seats, one double-stroller, portable crib, one large dog + crate, one large cat + crate and three carry-on bags into a large Consulate van and made our way to the Adana airport for the last time. After about 2 hours of checking-in (there seemed to be a LOT of confusion regarding our poor pets, like "why are you taking them?" "Why did you bring them to Turkey?" and my favorite "you know, FAA rules forbid cats and dogs from flying in the same plane, so you'll have to send one of the animals on a separate flight" Um, sorry, now you're just making stuff up) we boarded our flight home. Our journey took us first to Istanbul where we camped out on the Starbucks couches for 5 hours, overnight, while our kids slept and we attempted to. Then we headed on to Frankfurt, and finally New York City where our home leave was to take place. For those who aren't aware of what home leave is, it is a government mandated period of "rest" that all foreign service officers and their families are required to take between posts. It must be done in the United States because you are basically repatriating after being overseas. It usually lasts anywhere from 3-6 weeks, depending on various factors. For us, our home leave was 6 weeks because that's how much time fell between us leaving post and S starting training in D.C.
Leaving Turkey was harder than I thought it would be. On some level I was ready to go. I had reached my patience limit with the wild drivers, for example, but there were other things, or should I say people, who made me want to stay. E's school was amazing and I will miss it, his teachers and the owner. Sure we only got to know each other through short phrases of Turklish and pantomiming hand gestures, but I had grown fond of them. They were so caring and loving toward E and they accepted him into their world with no problems. He talks about how he misses his "Turkey school" every now and then, and we always make it a point to really engage him in conversation about it. We don't want him to forget and we want him to know that it's okay to miss something and share his emotions about it. I also miss our nanny. She was only with us for 8 months starting when D was born, but she and I became very close during that time. She sobbed for a week leading up to our departure and I managed to hold it in until the final day when I just couldn't any longer. She held D so close and told me to take care of him and don't let anything happen to him. And then she made me promise to send photos and Skype with her every now and then. It is a promise I have already kept and will continue to keep. And of course, I miss our dear friends and neighbors, Turkish breakfast (yum!), afternoon tea, and I miss walking around downtown Adana discovering new little shops. And I miss our old running park!
But enough about all this missing nonsense. I could go on and on. Where was I? Right, New York.
We decided before leaving Turkey that it was time to sell our condo in Brooklyn, so we ended up renting an apartment while we were there. VRBO.com is amazing for finding great places at great prices, but fair warning to anyone renting in NYC--the apartments are tiny! Our one-bedroom with a sofa pull-out in the living room would have been perfect for a single person or even a couple staying for any length of time. But when you're trying to cram all our crap, plus our pets and then our children into that space, it was any wonder we all fit.
But we survived the tiny space by getting out to explore. Every. Day. We quickly developed a routine. Since I was still working, I would sneak out to a local coffee shop every morning to do as much as I could by noon. S would stay at home with the boys while they played, watched cartoons and napped. Then he and the boys would meet me at the coffee shop and from there we would grab lunch and do something fun. We hit up the Central Park Zoo, Prospect Park playgrounds, Natural History Museum, MOMA, Chinatown, Little Italy, Times Square and the Toys R Us, took ferry rides out to the Statue of Liberty and much, much more. E was so tiny when we left New York that he really didn't remember it. He got a kick out of riding the subway and touring all the museums (the kid has a serious fondness for museums, which I love!) but he was NOT a fan of the cold. The snow he loved. The cold that came with it, not so much. We even took the boys sledding after one particularly heavy snowfall. E couldn't get enough. He only agreed to leave the park after we promised to get him hot chocolate and doughnuts on the way home. Not the healthiest snack, but his lips were turning blue and he was refusing to leave otherwise!
We also caught up with tons of friends while we were there. A few family members even came up to visit us and despite the 0 degree temperatures during their stay, we had an amazing time.
After six weeks, it was time to pack up the van that we rented and drive down to D.C. Of course we chose one of the crappiest days of the year to make that journey. It started snowing right as we got on the Jersey Turnpike and didn't stop until we pulled into the Oakwood parking lot 8.5 hours later. Yup, you read that right. The typical 4.5 hour drive took nearly double that because of the heavy snowfall. S was driving 35 mph the entire time and our windshield wipers kept freezing up as several cars around us spun out into snow drifts. It was pretty much the worst road trip ever, but we survived.
Now we are tucked into our new, temporary apartment for the next couple months while S gets the training he needs for Bogota. The boys are enrolled in a daycare down the street, which they happen to love, but which is costing us a small fortune. And I am working like a mad woman, getting busier everyday.
We are excited to spend spring in Washington, D.C. as we have never fully experienced it before, and we hear it is amazing. Now that it is warming up, S and I are looking forward to our runs along the Potomac and the soon-to-bloom Cherry Blossoms. E can't wait to ditch his coats and go wild on the playgrounds, and D? Well, D is just happy to have carpet to crawl on while he works on his walking skills.
And now, here are some photos from our time in New York just because.
Stay tuned for more adventures!
|One of my favorite photos: The boys under the Brooklyn Bridge|
|E got a camera for Christmas and couldn't wait to use it in NY.|
|In front of an Andy Warhol painting at the MOMA|
|E, S and little cousin riding the subway|
|Taking advantage of a sunny day|
|Deep thoughts...checking out the Statue of Liberty with the |
Manhattan skyline in the background
|Tasting snow in Chinatown|
|The Sunday morning bagel run. It was -4 degrees this day|
and I was FREEZING
|Sledding in Prospect Park!|
|Cold and snuggly|
|Making snow angels|
|D checking out the dinosaurs at the Museum of Natural History|
|E and his cousins checking out alligator skulls|
|D at the Children's Museum of Manhattan (CMOM)---a great place |
to go when the temps are -2 degrees!
|More CMOM exploration|
|And Nana came to visit us when we got to Washington!|