Thursday, September 13, 2012


In the two months that we've been back in America, I've learned a lot.

I've learned a lot about homesickness for a place that isn't really home. I've learned a lot about how the deaths of people close to your family affects you. I've learned a lot about feeling helpless.

Because while I'm here, safe in America with my dad home and my family together, all around me everything feels like it's starting to fall to pieces.

Not here, of course, but over there in the country that I used to call home. In a region filled with danger and violence and scary things that aren't always fair. In the past week, my family has been affected by more deaths and violence than I ever had in my whole life.

We might not know all these people in Libya and Egypt and Afghanistan and Iraq directly, but in the world of the foreign service, everyone is a little part of your family. We've all been through similar circumstances. We've all been through similar moves. We all know what it's like to get up and leave our whole lives behind so that we can serve our country in a small way.

Maybe that's why I feel so helpless. While I'm here, enjoying my unquestionable safety, I have friends that are over there across an ocean living next to an embassy that could possibly be attacked today- or tomorrow. I feel like no matter what anyone does, these people that I've come to love are in a dangerous position, and I want them out.

Those people that died in the embassy attacks in Libya could've been my dad. He could've gotten the same post they did and been protecting an embassy just like he's supposed to, and he could've died. But this is his job. He loves it and he chose it, and we follow him through it because we love him.

The thing is, all these people that have died recently were doing their job. And it's the same job that all of my friend's parents do, and that are currently doing. It's the same job that my dad does everyday. Except now, we are fortunate enough to be in America. Where the job isn't so scary. Where the consequences of doing your job aren't so great.

I feel like since I've left, the Middle East has started to fall apart, and although it's not my real home, it's close to my heart. I've lived there and called it home for three years. I can't just forget about everything that's happening around it like others here can. I have to hold onto it and pray that Jordan can keep itself held together enough to protect all of the people close to me.

Life in the foreign service has been responsible for teaching me all these things. It's taught me about a culture and a life that I didn't know existed. It's taught about how hard it can be to say good-bye to a family member and never know when you'll see him again. It's taught me that even though some things can be so terrible, they can always be worse.

It's also taught me a lot about friendship, and about how important these memories I've made are. Because while people here have the past summer playing through their head, I have a handful of good-byes and a fist full of 'see you laters'. I have knowledge and experience that some people can only dream of having.

I'm so grateful.

I'm grateful for my dad, who serves his country without question and has taught me so much about hard work and determination. I'm grateful for Jordan, for giving my some of the best three years anyone can ask for. I'm grateful for all of those other foreign service members that are protecting our country away from our country.

Right now, although I'm in America, Jordan feels closer than it ever has before. I can't let go of it or get it out of my head. Everything that's happening over there is still affecting my mood and my day and my life.

I don't know how we became lucky enough to do all of this and experience all of this, but I'm so thankful for it.

I thought that once I got to America I would forget what it was all like. But I haven't. I still remember. I'm still learning. I'm learning more about myself here than I would have anywhere else.

So although this isn't the best post for after being away for a month, I feel that it's needed.

Jordan has given me so much. So Jordan, stay safe.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

He's Coming Home

Today, July 21, 2012 is the one-year anniversary of my dad leaving for Iraq.

This time last year I had said bye and wished him the best and realized that he wasn't going to be home anymore. Not for a while.

This time last year I was in Jordan, asleep, in my house.

Now, 365 days later, I'm living in a hotel. I'm living in America.

And in a couple of hours, my dad will be too.

Finally, after one year of not seeing him for more than a week at a time, he's coming home for good. He's staying.

We're ecstatic.

You can tell by the way that my mom's been counting off the days for us, and the way that my brother's been constantly talking about what we're going to do when he gets here.

I never realized how fast a segment of time could go by, or how slowly. Sometimes looking back at last summer seems like a century ago. Other times it seems like he left yesterday. But right now, I think my mom was right when she said that it would go by fast. Over all, it did.

You can't even begin to imagine how much relief I'm filled with right now. Although Iraq is better than it was a while ago, it's scary knowing that someone you love is over there. Becasue I watch the news and I'm on the internet, I hear things all the time. And it scares me. We can't call him whenever we want and see if he's alright, we can't send him on a plane to come visit whenever something bad happens. We just have to trust that he knows what he's doing and that he's safe.

When I heard that he'd landed in Amman, one of his stops on the way here, it was like a weight that I didn't know I'd been holding was lifted off my shoulders.

In a couple hours he'll be here in Colorado. He'll be here in his favorite place in the world and he'll be able to bike all he wants. And that'll be a lot. He'll be able to take me and Colin to sports games and help me with math homework- without using Skype. We'll all fall into a routine that involves him in it again.

Him coming home means that Colorado can really become home for us. It means that I'll finally accept that we've left Jordan and aren't going back. It means that Iraq can leave my head for a while.

He's coming home soon.

And we're getting excited.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Just a Few More Days...

It’s been over a month since I’ve updated, and I’m really sorry for that. But now in the final stages of moving, you realize all of the things you have to do, and all of the people you want to spend time with. It’s not the best of times, but sometimes the best memories are made. Because these final moments are what you remember people by.

For me, looking back at all I’ve done in Jordan is a big mix. There’s a lot of good memories, a lot of proud ones, but then there’s a lot of sad ones throw in there too. I guess everyone has this. But when you move you get to see it in a new light. Instead of judging everything by how old I was, I remember it by where I was living at the time, and who I was with.

Right now, I only remember the small segments of conversation that I found hilarious, and the little tiny things my friends do that drive me insane. But I’ve realized that you don’t always remember the amazing trips to the Dead Sea and Petra, you remember the people that were with you and what you did with them. That’s why I think it’s going to be so hard to leave.

Jordan’s a great overseas post to be in. There are so many amazing things to do and see. But what I’m going to remember from my time here is the people. In small international schools like the one I go to, there aren’t a million people to choose from to be your friends. There’s usually four or five groups of people for you to hang out with. If I had been in America, I probably would never have talked to some of my best friends today because we are polar opposites. We all like different things, have different hobbies, listen to different music. But I’m closer to some of my friends here then I have ever been to my friends in America. That’s because we’re different, and we argue a ton, but our differences pull us together. As cliché as it sounds, these differences are what make us such amazing friends. And I think I’m going to miss that the most of all.

In under a week I will be living in Colorado. I will have a house and a car, I’ll get to see my dog Ike again (This will all be explained in another post, I’m going to backtrack through this last month) and I’ll start making friends and finding my way around. It’s not fun. It’s not easy. Just yesterday I had to say good-bye one of my closest friends that I’ve made in my whole life, and it was torture. But it all has to be done.

In under a week I’ll no longer live in Jordan. But I’ll never forget this place. It seems impossible. From the water shortages to the camels in the streets, this place has become my home just as much as all the places before it. And I’ll always treasure that.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

A Field Trip to Remember

When you live overseas, you get to go to some pretty cool places for field trips. And I mean places like Petra. Unfortunately, that's a different grade's trip. But being in seventh grade, we get to go on a two night field trip to Wadi Dana and Feynan.

Which we did a couple weeks ago.

After the four hour drive through the middle of the desert we arrived at Wadi Dana, the adorable campsite surrounded by huge mountains and giant rock formations.

Wadi Dana is a lot different than Wadi Rum. 'Wadi' is the Arabic word for valley, and unlike Wadi Rum, Dana did a really good job of being a valley. Our buses drove us to the top of one mountain, and we had to hike down into the valley and to our campsite from there. All around us were these massive mountains, and instead of being red and sandy, there were actually a fair amount of trees and a whole lot of grass and flowers.

The rest of that day we got to do several science lessons while sitting on the edge of these cliffs and there were hikes to amuse us and keep us active.

But at night, even though it was sweltering during the day, it got cold. And I mean COLD. That's the thing with these deserts, during the day you just keep wishing for it to cool down, but once it does it doesn't stop.

We slept in these little tepee tents and then had to wake up pretty early in the morning. The fun was just beginning.

The biggest part of our seventh grade trip, and the part that the previous seventh graders had made us fear, was a six hour hike through the valley. Six hours. That's almost a full school day.

Our job that day was to hike from Wadi Dana to Feynan through a giant valley, and it was hot.

Luckily, I was in a group with some of my best friends. And that was a pretty good thing, because somewhere along the hike our group got split up, and half of us were way ahead, and half of us were behind. I would like to say we were lost, because everything along the path pretty much looks the same, and it felt like we were going in circles. But it's pretty hard to get lost when there are giant mountains on both sides of you and you can only go two different ways.

About five hours in, we all ran out of water, too. We each had two-liter water bottles, and we ran out.

At the beginning of the hike it had been very steep and very slow going, but by that time it had evened out and we were just looking for the last mountain. Every time one mountain would look like it was ending though, another one would be seen behind it. And so on.

At some point when we were wishing for water and a nap we started singing camping songs, and making up our survival plans, and trying to decide who to eat first.

We never got to carry out those plans though, because the hotel, clean and amazing, was right in front of us.

Sweaty, exhausted, parched, and feeling like jello, we entered the cool hotel and greeted the rest of our group who had arrived twenty minutes before us.

We miraculously managed to arrive 30 minutes early.

The rest of the groups trickled in after us within the next several hours, and then we got our room assignments and were allowed to relax around the hotel.

In all, we had hiked about 14 kilometers. It was hot. It was in the middle of a desert. And it was some of the most fun I'd ever had on a field trip.

The next day we boarded the buses and came back home. And I think I slept for a couple days.

But it's over, and we did it, and I have now hiked for five and a half hours in a row.

And I also know a bunch more camping songs.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Wadi Rum, Aqaba, and Spring Break

At last, the long awaited Spring Break has arrived. Or, did arrive. School started back up again today and everyone is now tan and eager for the end of the year.

Spring Break brought many surprises.

Has anyone heard of the Foreign Service Youth Foundation, or the FSYF? They have a newsletter that they send out and Foreign Service kids submit articles for it.

Well, back in May I sent in an article, and it was published in the newsletter! So, if you ever get the chance, take a look at it. I really enjoyed reading what other kids had submitted, too. The newsletter for this month was on things that us kids love, so it was really interesting hearing about how different everyone was.

We also had a recent visit from Dad, which is always great. Only two more months and he’s home for good. I can’t wait.

You can’t have a Spring Break and not visit anywhere here in Jordan. There are too many amazing places here that I’ll miss way too much when we leave. Our family, along with several other embassy families, drove down to Wadi Rum for a night, and then went to Aqaba for a couple days.

Wadi Rum is one of those places that is so amazing and grand and beautiful that I could write a whole entire post on it. Honestly, it’s one of my favorite places here. It’s basically a desert, but it’s a desert with gigantic rock formations and red, red sand. There are sand dunes and camels and Bedouin tents scattered about, and it is absolutely amazing. The first time we took a trip to Wadi Rum, we stayed in the more traditional tents surrounded by these giant rocks. We took a two hour long camel ride (fun, but not when your camel decides it wants to start running), and drove through the desert touring all the best sites there. There were also several cars that got stuck in the deep sand and had to get pushed out.

This time we stayed at a lodge and were taken on a tour in these big pickup trucks that sped over the sand until all of our foreheads were red from the sand implanted in them. It’s one of the best things ever.

All us kids climbed the rocks, climbed the sand dunes, and being the crazy Americans that we are, brought sleds and sled down these sand dunes. And let me tell you, climbing up them is one of the most painful things I have ever done. You can’t even walk up them because they’re so steep you’re basically crawling. And for every two feet you go up, you go one foot down, because the sand just keeps falling back. But you get to the top and it is so worth it, even if you’re breathing so hard that you can’t tell at first.

I’m going to miss Wadi Rum.

Then we drove down to Aqaba, the beach city on the Red Sea where all our goodies that are shipped over from America come in. We went out on this big boat with a ton of other people and spent the day snorkeling and visiting a castle over in Egypt. Yeah. The boat took us across the border and to a small island off the coast of Egypt where we got to explore an old, crumbling castlle. 

I can’t say Aqaba is the best beach in the world, but the snorkeling down there (on days when the water is clear), is amazing.

I’m going to miss Aqaba, too.

I’m also going to miss Spring Break, which took way to long to get here and left way to soon.

And now, for those of you who have never been fortunate to experience Wadi Rum, here are some pictures.

Happy Spring Break, everyone!

All of the kids up on top of the giant rock. I'm there in the purple shirt and the sunglasses.

When I said pickup trucks I wasn't kidding. They were literally hauling us around in these 1950s trucks. At least they didn't get stuck in the sand like ours did.

This is me and Dad after climbing to the top of a rock on top of another rock. You can't see from the picture, but it was actually pretty high up and terrifying.

On top of one of the sand dunes we attempted to catch our breath. Then we rolled to the bottom and climbed up again. And again.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Hot Water and Electricity

When we first moved to Jordan, one of the first big differences we had to get used to was the electricity and water outages. Some nights the electricity would just shut off. Not Amman. Not our street. Just our building. That's just what happens. Other people have it too, and when the electricity goes out you can count on being left in the dark for awhile.

We light candles and get out our flashlights and settle down with books or Legos. I surround myself with pillows and settle in next to the fireplace which we fill with candles. We wait. Then in an hour, or maybe even three hours, the electricity comes back on.

Other times we run out of water. It's only for a day or two, but life on limited water isn't fun. No showers. Little cooking. And milk to drink. Then with a call to the embassy, we get a new tank of water brought over.

And then there's those rare times when the gas runs out. No hot water. No cooking with a stove. Have you ever taken a shower with freezing water? I have. It lasted about two minutes and left me shivering for quite a while. Cold showers are not fun. They're not fun at all. I feel bad for people that have only ever known cold showers.

Some people that live just a few miles away from me have no showers at all. They live on a bucket of water a day. They don't have heating for their houses. They don't have houses. Some are nomads that live with their herds of animals, bringing them straight through the city, traveling through Jordan. Some people can't have a house. Some people here live on one JD (which is equivalent to $1.40)  a day.

And then here I am with a house, with water and heat and electricity. Sure, it goes out sometimes. A lot more than desired it goes out without warning. But I have no right to complan about it, because I've seen people that have it so much worse. People that would love to live in this house, with all it's differnet and unusual quirks from what I'm used to.

Life in Jordan has taught me so much that I can't learn from living in America. Besides teaching me how to do a radio check and read Arabic, it's taught me about how the things that I take for granted, complain about even, are everything compared to what others have.

I still complain. I still wish that things in Jordan were just like they were in America, but I'm learning to let go of that. I'm learning that the almost invisible things in my life that I take for granted are so valuble and so important.

I'm learning to treasure the things that I have, not wish for the things I don't.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

My Fear of Wasps

I’ve been stung by a wasp exactly three times. It’s not much, and a teeny tiny wasp sting isn’t enough to scar me for life, but I am absolutely terrified of them.

I have no idea why. I fall down and hurt myself daily. You could call me a klutz for the number of times that I’ve walked into walls or managed to bump into someone in a huge hallway. Surely a small sting on the arm should be nothing, right? But to me it’s like having ice water dumped on my head and then being set on fire. I hate stings. Either wasp or bee, I hate them.

It’s not just because they’re bugs either. I’ll see a spider crawling by on the sidewalk, or ants marching through my kitchen and I’ll think nothing of it. It’s just these little wasps.

A couple months ago, my family was eating dinner at our friends’ house when outside the window we saw a man putting a ladder up to a tree. We all ventured out to the living room to see what he was doing. There was a giant wasps’ nest on one of the trees outside, and the family we were visiting was relieved that they seemed to be doing something about it.

At first there didn’t seem to be a reason to watch him. Sure, he was putting a giant ladder against a thin and very tall tree trunk, but everyone had their own ways of dong things. Our boredom was short-lived though. Because instead of, I don’t know, spraying the wasps’ nest with Wasp Killer, he had a white canvas bag in his hands; he was trying to bag the nest.

Someone down below the tree was poking the branch with a long pole, as if trying to push the nest closer to the man. He had a saw in his hands too, and while trying to get the bag around the nest, he was also trying to saw the nest off of the branch. We must’ve watched him for thirty minutes; the whole scene was so hilarious.

He had to of been stung a hundred times while getting that nest down, there were wasps everywhere. In a big haze around him, buzzing in circles around the nest, flying away from the tree, they were everywhere. But yet he continued pulling down the nest and
trying to saw it off.

We felt kind of bad for him, out there and getting stung. It couldn’t of been very fun. But why couldn’t he just spray the nest and then collect it later? I’d never seen anything like it, and neither had anyone else that was elbowing their way into a better spot of the window.

A long time later, I don’t even remember how long, he finally got that nest out of the tree and into a bag. We all gave him a standing ovation. I mean, come on, although it probably wasn’t the smartest way to get rid of the wasps, he had guts.

It took a while for the wasps to clear out of their yard though. When we left, I remember running down the pavement and jumping into the car. No way was I getting stung too. He’d probably taken enough stings to take care of all of us for a good couple of years. At least that’s what I hoped.

I’m not sure if watching that nest go down weakened by fear or strengthened it. Those wasps were pretty determined to get him out of the tree. And next time I see a wasp nest, I’ll be sure to steer clear of it.

One thing that I did learn, crazy enough, is that a human can always overpower a giant wasp nest. So really there should be no reason to be scared of them. Stings heal.

No matter how many times I think that though, I’m still terrified when I see one near me.

As stupid as it may sound, I’m pretty sure I have a fear of wasps.

Great. There are probably tons of them in Colorado.