The last five months in the US have flown by. New home, new schools, new friends, new activities. Here is a quick over view of our August- December.
We absolutely love our house. When we were looking at coming back to Virginia for training we knew we would have a few hiccups to utilizing they typical government provided apartments. First of all there would be 2 months at the beginning of our stay and 2 months at the end of our stay where Ben wouldn’t be with us(so the kids could complete a full school year) which meant our housing wouldn’t be covered by the department during those times. The bids to stay in government provided housing for those months were insane, close to $6,000 a month, for 4 months was $24,000 we would have to pay out of pocket. Issue number two was the largest government housing available was a 3 bedroom apartment, which we can utilize but it isn’t fun. Number 3 after being in an apartment in Lagos for 2 years and destined for apartment living again in Barcelona we would love to have a yard for us and for the dog. We decided paying $24,000 for a small apartment with no yard didn’t sound fun so we decided to find our own place and then have some of the housing covered by Ben’s job and make up the difference ourself. We found another foreign service officer who had a 5 bedroom house with a yard to rent. It was more than we had hoped to pay and she wouldn’t allow our cat but we decided to go for it anyways. We are glad we did. The house is great. Large enough for visitors, a huge yard with BBQ, fire pit and hot tub. There are nature trails to walk and ride our bikes and it is close to shopping and about 2 miles from FSI where Ben is taking language training meaning he can walk or ride a bike.
The kids started new schools. Oliver in elementary in 4th, Everett in 7th at middle school and Dannica and Harrison in 9th and 11th at the high school. The kids have been happy. Made friends and in general have liked being back in the US. I miss them all being at the same school but only half a year more and we will be back to that again. The kids are doing really well academically and even though they are in “advanced classes” are feeling more relaxed and confident and feel that school is easier here than it was in Nigeria. I can’t wait to experience the school in Barcelona for some perspective. I felt like the school in Lagos was fine while we were there but the further I get from it the more I think there were some serious concerns. Harrison especially is much happier here.
One lovely thing about being back stateside and having a house large enough to host is that we get to see friends and family. My sister came to stay for 3 weeks and Jeff got to stay for a week. It was great having them here and enjoying what DC has to offer.
Oliver had a birthday, the big double digit 10!
Halloween, the Gordon’s love it! This years costumes include…
My dear friend Michelle came from Utah to visit for a week. We had a lot of fun girl time including brunch and scootering around the city.
Dannica is enjoying the drama department at her new high school. This lady loves musical theater! She was able to excel at the role of Bonnie in Anything Goes. Playing this role was quite a challenge with so much tap dance and jazz but she worked hard and was fabulous. It was funny watching her is such a flirtatious role. She had a total of 9 costume changes. She also helped quite a bit with costuming and set building. The whole department is sad she won’t be here for next years show.
We enjoyed a nice relaxed Thanksgiving with friends from Lagos. They are here learning French. It was nice to cook this traditional meal with ingredients regularly available at any grocery store down the street. Thanksgiving in other countries is often creative. I remember when I traveled to Africa the first time in 2000 the chef with the tour company I was traveling with was a bit distraught I would be missing Thanksgiving. He wanted to throw a Thanksgiving meal. Almost all the people in our group were form Britain, Australia and New Zealand. He searched and searched for suitable substitutes but we were in the middle of no where. Ultimately he stuffed lamb chops with a local thick kasava porridge and herbs and covered it with cherry jelly. It was a sweet gesture and everyone sang Happy Thanksgiving to you to the turn of Happy Birthday to You.
We attended a tour of the capital building and Library of Congress. Oliver always stands right up front eager to ask question of our guides. This guide had a microphone that sent his voice to individual headphones to everyone in our group of about 40. That way multiple tours can be attempted at a time without it being obscenely loud. Because of this microphone everyone else in our tour group got to hear all of Olivers questions as we walked from room to room. “Where did the US get all this gold?””How heavy is this statue, are you worried the roof will cave in?””Have you ever met someone afraid of escalators.””Why did they pain Roman gods on the ceiling Greek Gods are far more interesting, let me tell you all about them…”
Oliver loves his teacher and I am so lucky I get to help out in his class every once in a while.
Everett Roger has really gotten into art and drawing. It is fun to watch him work and improve.
Sadly Harrison had another mystery heart issue that we ended up in the ER for. He has had a CT scan and MRI and we still don’t know what is going on but it seems like whatever it is it isn’t affecting his heart muscle so that is good. He was also diagnosed with POTS so he is taking tons of salt capsules every day with lots of extra water to keep from passing out. He is happy and enjoying school though. He swims at the rec center across the street so isn’t missing our pool from Nigeria as much any more.
Danni had a few friends over at the beginning of spring break and we had some hot chocolate to celebrate. 3 years out of homeschooling and I am still sad when my kids go back to school after long breaks. They are thriving though. Danni is taking advanced IB classes and doing very well.
Christmas was just us but we had a great time.
Danni turned 17. We had a fun family day seeing the new Star Wars movie, eating Dippin Dots ice cream, and she got her ear pierced.
The kids are so grown up they took over our traditional Christmas breakfast prep. Ben and I made the Christmas Tree Bread the night before but they did everything the morning of.
A new family tradition is now putting together puzzles. We love the beautiful wooden puzzles from Liberty Puzzles in Boulder Colorado. Each shape is also a representative of the puzzle theme. This one was a gift from Bens family and was all about Barcelona.
Have I mentioned we love, love, love our house in Virginia. The yard it huge with lovely large trees. The kids got to enjoy the joy of leaves and enjoy the work that comes with them. Three times a year the county brings a huge vacuum truck and sucks up leaves that you pile by the side of the road.
We have loved our time here and can’t believe it is halfway finished!