Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Trying To Prove I Don’t Belong

I have been trying to get my head around how I feel about proving that I am not a resident of the U.S.

Yes, we have lived overseas ten of the past eleven years. (Both of those numbers bump up one in a few months). Yes, my tax returns prove that I do not live and work in the U.S. Yet having to prove that I am not a resident has set off a discord within me.

Our bank here is having to comply with the FACTA (as banks are the world over). For us our account is simply a transfer point as our employer requires us to have one in order to be paid. We then wire it all home to our U.S. account, minus what we need for groceries. Obviously we aren’t stashing money away ‘off shore’. Never the less, we have gotten form after form from our bank, which I shoved in a drawer not wanting to deal with.

I finally sat down to get it all figured out. I won’t bore you with the details (and discrepancies). I knew the things they are looking for don’t apply to us, but was still unsettled by having to tick the ‘not a resident of the U.S.’ box.

Why has this hit me? I’ve been wondering and don’t have a firm answer. These are things I know to be true.

I am an American citizen.
I own a home in the U.S.
Taxes are paid on said home.
I vote.
I sing the “Star Spangled Banner” anywhere in the world I hear it, even if I am the only one.
I get teary eyed when I hear tunes like, “I’m Proud To Be An American”.
I LOVE having an immigration officer welcome me ‘home’ when I return to U.S. soil, (which will happen on Saturday!)

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

The moment I saw it…



The morning walk to school involves three school campuses after two blocks of walking through Hamra;

  • cross before the gas station
  • share greetings with the book keeper at the butcher
  • squeeze onto my part of the narrow sidewalk as other pass the other direction
  • notice that the doucan isn’t open yet, and the young helper is waiting for the owner – again
  • glad to see the bomb sniffing dog headed my way
  • dodge two lanes of traffic

I pass the guard at the university gate, the length of the male dorm on the left with a parking lot, smoking area, and bookstore on the right.

Through another gate and down two steps is my entrance to a pre-K through 12th grade school. (Sister school or rival? Neither really as the teaching philosophy and curriculum are completely different between the two).

There is a short cut through the middle school building (where I am nearly knocked over as a boy, in his P.E. uniform comes tearing out of the door with three other identically clad shabob in pursuit.) Down some stairs, a steep hill, and several more sets of stairs puts me on the early year’s playground.

Traversing this space takes awareness and the ability to change course quickly. Three little people, just over two feet high, are lined up before me. A gaggle of girls begin running on my left, their trajectory plotting directly into my course if it is not altered and as I scoot a step to my left, I sashay around a little boy in a puffy red coat who has the strap of his lunch box firmly in his right hand and what look like another strap in his left hand, clutched even tighter.

The moment I saw it I knew I would be writing about it as my slice for today. As I pass I realize that he is clutching strips of textured rubber – a toy snake. I smile and think how to share this small moment.

Monday, November 24, 2014

What Are You Reading?

“It’s Monday! What are you Reading?” is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey. It is a chance for book lovers to share their reading accomplishments as well as what is on the proverbial nightstand. She even does a giveaway. Subsequently Jen and Kellee atTeach Mentor Texts added an opportunity for those reading kidlit to join the fun. Since I read both I will post to both. Check them out, join the conversations, and discover more great books.

Books marked with an '*' I would put in my classroom library.
Books marked with a '#' would be in an middle or high school library.


*  The Rise and Fall of Mount Majestic by Jennifer Trafton

*  After Eli by Rebecca Rupp

#  The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily Danforth

#  Annie On My Mind by Nancy Garden

*  Runaway by Wendelin Van Draanen

 Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver

Saturday, November 22, 2014

My Aunt Leanne


I have said it before, and I am sure I will say it again, the hardest thing for me about living overseas is missing memorial services. Today many are gathering to celebrate the life of Leanne. To me she is Aunt Leanne and I will miss her, though I am thankful that she gets to hang out with Jesus and be whole.

I have loads of memories of Aunt Leanne over the course of my life, but I want to share three.

One isn't about a specific moment, but about how she engaged with people. With Leanne you didn't just say 'hi' and carry on, rather you sat and entered into life together. There were always stories and questions and she would use your name as she talked to you.

Another is about a Christmas runner she made for me and gave to me during a time when life wasn't easy for me. It comes out each year, covering the coffee table (under a pile of picture books, which were also a love of hers), and reminds me of the special woman she is - now was. (Ah, this good bye stuff can be hard!)

The final one I want to share is the small, heart-shaped box pictured here. I was married on a ferry with a view of 'my mountain', (most people call it Mt. Rainier.) Shortly after our wedding she gave me this box. It is the perfect size to hold my handbell pendant when it isn't on a chain around my neck.

The box sits on my dressing table and I think of Aunt Leanne every time I caught a glimpse of it. For the past 9 1/2 years that has reminded me to pray for her and her battle with breast cancer. Now I smile and think of the joy she is experiencing AND I pray for those that miss her everyday.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Glimpses, Overheard, and Other Sensory Moments


I saw a dead rat, literally. My daughter and I were headed to school. There are a very long set of stairs that border between two school campuses and run perpendicular into ours. Really it is an ongoing collection of sets of stairs. I haven't counted, but there are more than 100. The stairs are wide, maybe 25 - 30 feet. They are regularly cleaned by the ground crew of one of the schools.

Anyway, we were about halfway down, trying to avoid the puddles after a hard rain, when I notice something on a step a bit in front of us. I edge over to the left, my daughter holding my left hand, as I try to avoid it. As I am maneuvering us I am realizing that it looks like a dead animal. Without breaking stride, and continuing the conversation with the five year old, who has yet to notice, I realize it is a dead rat, belly up. About this time we are passing said rat and my daughter asks what it is. I tell her. She comments, matter-of-factly, that it wasn't very nice for someone to kill it.

I then explain that it was probably in one of the pipes that the rain comes through and most likely got caught in the deluge and drown, being swept out with the rain water.

She hasn't said another word about it.
The image has stayed in my mind.


I was headed across campus. Right now I don't remember why, headed to the office for some reason. The three year olds were on their playground so the gates were closed and I, like others, had to walk around. I found myself behind two five year olds. They were each carrying a plastic bottle of milk - part of their classes snack for the day. They had no idea I was behind them and continued with their conversation.

"We are the nannies today," said the girl.

"You're right! We were sent to get the milk," responded the boy.

"You are even wearing a nanny dress!" she exclaims to the boy in a white and light blue striped shirt.

Wow was all I could think, shaking my head, about the perspective these kids have on life. (I did stop to tell the Early Years Principal what I heard, leaving it to her to consider the implications of my overhearing.)


Chili is something I enjoy making and eating, especially with corn bread, cheddar cheese, and lebnah smothered on top and then mixed in. I usually prepare my chili in the Crock Pot, leaving the flavors to mix throughout the day. I have learned that corn meal is hard to find in the Middle East and bring it with me. While I was purchasing things from the grocery store the last time I was in the States I saw some no salt chili seasoning packets and bought two brands to try. It is a good thing we have a full spice rack! After one bite I can tell you the packet is not the way to go.


A dense mass of congested, intertwined hair turned to silky smooth ribbons as I used the 'magic brush' on daughter's long tendrils.


Onions sauteing in olive oil to bring out the flavor before adding (insert other ingredient here) filled my olfactory.