Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Where we love is home, Home that our feet may leave, but not our hearts. ~Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

We are in the final stretch of the move. I am realizing how little in life is beyond my control. That is a frightening, yet liberating realization.
I have struggled the last couple days feeling like I have no place to call "home." As Sam, ever the optimist, pointed out, we have TWO residences. Although, one is an empty apt. in Abu Dhabi and the other is an empty house. Neither qualifies as "home," although, they are both residences.
Which causes me to take pause and think back fondly on Greenville. Other than the place where I grew up in TN, our home in Greenville was where I lived the longest and probably experienced my fondest memories.
We brought four children home. One when we moved there from CA, two from Pitt County Memorial Hospital, and one from farther away than I ever expected.
Before I left, I made sure to take a moment to reflect on the blessing and heartaches we had in that house.
The backyard where many an afternoon was spent in soccer tournaments, flying kites, and playing tag. The driveway where Thomas learned to ride a bike (the baseboard where he split his head open). The side plot we turned into a vegetable garden. The kitchen where we baked Christmas cookies. The light fixture over the kitchen table where we kept bumping our heads, even on the last days we lived there.
But, as with any house--it's not a home until it's lived in. We've welcomed many people into our homes, who became friends, and then family. You know who you are, and I'm grateful to have shared many a laugh with you.
So, to my Greenvillians--thank you for your love, empathy, and support. Without you, Greenville would have been just another dot on a map.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

The Flotsam and Jetsam of an International Move

As you would expect, the most difficult aspect of preparing for our trip has been completing paperwork. In addition to passports and visas, there has been additional paperwork for Helen's adoption and eventual passport. We suffered only small heart attacks when her paperwork was returned for her passport and there were no documents showing her name change. But, I have to give mad props to the Passport Office for helping us get it straightened out and overnight-ing her passport to us.

Immunizations were another issue. Picture me with all the children in the International Clinic. At the time, Jack was too little to receive his, but the older three required yellow fever, typhoid, and meningitis (not for the UAE, but for our trip to Ethiopia this summer). Helen volunteered to go first, although I don't think she realized what she'd signed up for when she hopped to the front of the line. She quickly did a 180, when the leggings came down and the alcohol swab came out. After three shots and some very dramatic tears, she was done. Lucas was next, and screamed through the first shot, but was a trooper through the other two. And, then there was Thomas. I had to pry him off the door frame in the clinic, while he was screaming, "NO! NO! NO!" I finally told him we were not leaving until he got his shots and he could walk over there and I would hold him on my lap, or I was going to pick him up and carry him. After the first shot, he matter of factly said, "Well, that wasn't so bad." And quietly sat there for the remainder. I think vaccines only took off a couple weeks off my life from the stress.

Prep and Move

We are down to the final couple weeks before we fly out. The last month has been a blur of: packing, donating, storing, moving, preparing the house to sell (special shout to JS and SP for having our backs), and squeezing in family visits.
Most people have been supportive of our decision to move halfway across the world. Other reactions have bordered on amazement, uncertainty, and disbelief.

For those who know little of the UAE and Abu Dhabi, here's a helpful site (the Wikipedia site's not bad, either):

After reassuring people that we've done a lot of research and: it is safe, they do speak English, and I can wear my own clothes, and not a burqa--the remainder of the people are supportive, albeit reluctantly. I doubt we would encounter the same resistance if we were moving to Europe. And, typically, the crime rate is much lower for Abu Dhabi, than anywhere else in the world.

This is an amazing opportunity for our family. We will travel together, learn about different cultures, the children will be multilingual, and we'll be very close to Ethiopia. These factors outweighed staying within driving proximity of our families. Luckily, we'll also have the ability to fly back once a year, and have already had several people promise to visit. So, keep in touch, and come out! Beach weather's from November to March.