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Black eyes and Marriage


This is the face I came home to last week! A goose-egg the size of a bouncy ball and 2 black eyes. What happened? Apparently, Van and Ava were playing. Van was launching a surprise attack with his toy rifle on his giant stuffed dog, named Big Bolt. As he swung the butt-stock of the gun around to catch the stuffed animal by surprise, Ava launched her own impromtu attack. She received the blow instead of Big Bolt! Poor girl looked like a Klingon from Star Trek for a few days because of all the swelling! 

In a seperate story, Van was trying to tease Ava at the dinner table last night. He started singing, "Ava and Connor, sitting in a tree k-i-s-s-i-n-g... " Ava sat there with a passive look, listening intently to the taunt from Van. When Van reached the end with "first comes love," she started to smile... "then comes marriage." she looks at me with bright shiney eyes... "then comes a baby in a baby carriage." She ponders the taunt for a moment then happily replies, "Yep, I like that." The girl is obsessed with marriage and babies! She is going to turn out like Jennifer Lopez on "The Wedding Planner." She is so funny.

Jedi Training Camp

Van's Birthday was so much fun! Van has been loving Star Wars as of late, so the theme for his party seemed an obvious choice. I was pretty impressed with the way his R2-D2 cake turned out.  used 6 layered caked for the Body, and the dome and legs were constructed out of Rice Krispy treats. Jared and Jason also helped decorate and assemble the assorted peices.

In keeping with the Star Wars theme, we set up a Jedi Training experience that challenged the body and mind of our young padawan learners. Jared and Jason did a fantastic job in setting up all the different stations in our yard.
The water balloon balance was really fun for the kids. We had 3 different sizes: Padawan was the  largest followed by Apprentice. Lastly was Jedi Master.

The Pinata was a major hit with all the kids!!


I have been avoiding my blog because I have so much to write about. So instead of being overwhelmed by this daunting task, I have decided to post the Reader's Digest version. In short, Thailand was amazing!! We hit a few bumps in the road enroute and spent an entire day of beach time at the Bangkok airport, but once we arrived,  it was everything I had hoped it would be. The weather was perfect at mid-high eighties and 90% humidity! Our Villa was beautiful and secluded.
Van loved catching frogs, toads and geckos around and inside the villa. Ava loved swinging in the 2 hammocks. And of course both kids LOVED having their own pool. Each morning they jumped from bed and splashed into the pool before breakfast. For me the highlight of the trip was the beach. I have missed the ocean so much! In addition to lounging at the beach we were able to do some really fun things. The highlights were riding Elephants through the jungle,
seeing a King Cobra
Show (Van's favorite
activity - afterwards he wanted to bring home a pet cobra. When asked what we would feed a cobra he replied, "Stray dogs!") and taking a boat tour of the some of the outer islands. On the boat tour Van was able to snorkel for the first time! He did so awesome. He and Jared even saw a barracuda.
We also took a day trip over to Phuket, where Jared has spent some significant time through multiple deployments. It was cool to be able to see some things that he seen from his trips around the globe! (While going down the walking district, we were met with a group of Katoi's in full dress. After they passed Ava looks up at me with her bright, innocent little eyes and states, 'Mommy, I think those were REAL princesses!" Yes dear, I know they'd like to think that!!) We even ate at his favorite restaurant. I LOVE thai food. It was all so good. Ava loved her "fancy" drinks and Van loved the Satay chicken. I think he mostly liked that particular dish because the chicken was always served on several sticks,which he used to have miniature sword fights at the table.

Good News

Good News! I finally got my clothes back from the quarantine! Up to this point I was still wondering if they were going to be incinerated!

Haz-mat bags and Duct Tape

I had an interesting day this week. Please note, I use the word "interesting" in the broadest sense.  Before I begin my story, some background facts are requisite. We receive all our mail from a "pouch" system. This means that all you folks back in the good old USA can send us packages without paying international shipping prices. Of course, there are a fair amount of regulations that accompany the privilege of receiving mail with this system, but the good mostly outweighs the bad. When the Embassy receives the mail delivery from the airport, it arrives in large, heavy canvas bags which are secured with tamper evident devices. An American Citizen is required to be present when the mail is brought into the Embassy. So that is the background information.

This story begins with me and the annoying tendency I have to volunteer myself to help out. I was sitting at work, quite bored because it was a slow day in the office. My Boss, Allen, was shooting the shit with another colleague, I was working busily on my online Amazon baby registry. Allen's phone line rang, and I picked it up for him. It was Post II looking for an American Citizen to oversee the mail delivery. I looked in Al's direction and for some unknown reason decided to tell Post II that I could come down and handle it for Allen. No problem, I'd done it a few times before, and he was enjoying his conversation. As I strolled to the loading dock I was pondering complex problems such as which crib set I liked, and whether or not I could find coordinated receiving blankets. I watched as the bags were unloaded,  and watched as the tamper evident devices were removed. When Hunan called my name, I dragged my self from my thoughts. He repeated, "Becca! Does this look like flour to you?" "What the hell is he talking about?" I thought to myself. I pulled my cardigan tighter and walked over to where he was standing. He pointed in the bag and repeated his question. Still, I was wondering why he cared. I looked into the large canvas mail bag and saw a package covered with something that looked like flour, maybe. I reached in and rubbed it with my fingers right as the be-lated alarm bell went off in my mind. Here I was, reaching into a mail bag, touching - actually TOUCHING - a white powdery substance. Now I haven't had any mail handling training, but I knew that this was probably going to be a problem. I got onto the phone and called the Marine at Post I, and alerted him to a potential situation. Then the Regional Security Officer was notified. Meanwhile, I'm sitting at the mail dock trying to make light of the situation with the other Foreign National Employee who had been close to the substance. We kept assuring each other than, yes, it HAD to be flour, everything was going to be fine! It looked like flour, right? Thanks to my speedy thinking, I knew it FELT like flour. Chances were, it was flour... After arriving on the scene, the RSO looked into the bag and determined to whom the suspicious package belonged and from where it came. We all figured that if we could determine that the intended recipient of the package had ordered flour (or something like it) recently, we could safely assume that is what the substance was. No harm, no foul, everybody is happy. The RSO makes the phone call and asks the woman, in a very serious voice, "What  have you ordered from Walmart in the past month?" Apparently her answer was not clear enough, so He pressed her to check her records and make sure that is what she had ordered. She came back on the line to assure him that she was 100% positive that she had ordered 6 Dr Seuss books and nothing else. It was about this time that the "Oh shit" meter went off. The RSO and an aid immediately declared the area a quarantine area, and instructed everyone to cover their airways... Yeah, a little late on that call, buddy.... As he headed out the door, he called the Medical Officer and instructed us to go to decontamination as soon as the Doctor arrived. In order to collect a sample of the powder to be sent to the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta, Georgia, the RSO returns in a full "Bio-hazard" suit.

Awesome. Meanwhile, I'm still standing there with my arm over my nose and mouth, trying not to freak out. The doctor finally arrived and starts telling us about the decontamination process. Basically, after taking off all our clothes and putting them in a red "bio-hazard" bag, we were going to  be scrubbed down, and drugged up. I quietly raised my hand and stated the obvious fact that everyone there had forgotten - "Um, I'm pregnant." The room went silent and 5 pairs of eyes dropped to my belly... Insert Long uncomfortable silence here... The doctor then assured me that he would "research" a "safe alternative" for me. My freak out level rose slightly. I called my husband and told him about the situation, and asked him to please go get me some new clothes. Always the calming influence, he responds, "Ok, let me know what happens." REALLY? I just told you that I might have been contaminated with Anthrax, and your response is to let you know what happens? Mm- hmm, Thanks! So after that comforting conversation, Hunan and I left for Decontamination.  Nothing is quite as encouraging as being greeted by nurses in face masks and rubber gloves, who are trying to stay as far away from you as possible!! From the nurse, I was instructed to remove all clothes, including underwear,  jewelry, and contact lenses, place each item in the red bag, then seal the opening with duct tape. At that point I was given my special red bio-hazard bag, a roll of duct tape, a bottle of decontaminating gritty soap and dropped off in a contained room with a shower faucet. I followed the instructions, and started my scrub-down - head to toe.  The soap was horrid! My hair has STILL not recovered from being assaulted with the gritty substance! And I'm not sure my eyes will ever be the same!! I staggered out of the make shift shower and dried myself off with the only thing I found in the room - packages of sterile gauze. By the time I pulled on my hospital gown I was freezing.
A doctor came and found me and offered me a blanket, which calmed my chattering teeth. After what seemed like an eternity, my clothes arrived and the Doctor came in with some news - The RSO had discovered a package that contained powered goats milk. They were "pretty sure" that the substance in the mail bag was in fact powered goats milk, but will still have send the suspicious white powdery substance to the CDC for confirmation. To be on the safe side, did I want to take some Russian anti-biotic that he was sure was safe for pregnancy? Um, no, thank you very much, I'll pass. "Well," the doctor continued, "if you notice any skin rashes or flu like symptoms, please come in as quickly as possible."  To date, the only thing that has caused any skin discomfort was that sand-paper like soap that I rubbed all over my body in order to decontaminate from exposure to Goats Milk. Fantastic. I left the compound squeaky clean. My clothes however, are still sealed in a bio-hazard bag in a cordoned off area, next to the bag full of "contaminated mail".

Daddy Daughter Dance

Van's school hosted a Daddy Daughter Dance last weekend. Ava was so excited, and looked forward to it for weeks. Jared has some pictures from the event that will be posted later, but I took some video of her before they left. For some reason they will not post to blogger. So if you would like to see the videos, here are the links:

School Pictures

I was recently asked by Van’s School to take the school pictures. I took the liberty of using Ava as the model to get the lighting adjusted, thus allowing Becca and I to get pictures of the kids in the same setting. It was fun and I learned a lot about off camera lighting.

Won't you be my neighbor?

Interested in moving to Armenia? Good News! There are 2 different lots 2 blocks from our house! The first lot is on a lovely trash lined street in true Armenian style. 

Your neighbors to the right consist of the affluent tenth of society. Your neighbors to the left however are representative of how the rest of the Armenian society lives. Those houses are complete with outdoor plumbing!
Families live in these bunker style 12x20 foot "homes" 
The latrine stands about 5 feet to the left of the bunker homes

You should be careful when walking small pets in this area, because they are likely to be lost in the cavernous pot holes that adorn the street. 

The second lot is close to the first, also offering many of the perks of the first lot!

On a more serious note, I posted this blog because I wanted to capture the dichotomy of society here, and share with those who have never personally experienced this type of stark contrast. Pictures however do not do it justice. I have been humbled by my experiences here and I'm glad that my children have been exposed to this, to know how blessed we truly are.

Princess Party

It seems unreal that four years have past since I brought Ava into this world. In these 4 short years she has continuously amazed me with her loving, caring personality. She is truly a ray of sunshine into the life of every person she comes into contact with. She is so sweet, and always trying to make those around her happy. I cannot express the happiness and fulfillment that she has brought into my life. And to think, 4 years ago I was afraid of having a daughter! She is amazing. Ava, I love you so much!

Beautiful Princess Ava

Decorations for the big day!!!

All the Princesses who attended the Royal Ball

The castle cake that took me 4 hours to make!!!

My beautiful, crazy, phenomenal Daughter!


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