Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Worst. Bloggers. Ever!

Oh my goodness, it's been 10 days! We are horrible bloggers.

I think the main news story in our life is: there's no news to share yet! We're winding down on our packing efforts. We've officially got to be out of our apartment on Wednesday, so we spent today doling things out to our respective parents' houses where they will stay for at least the next two years.

I recently compared this process to a roller coaster: this week feels like we're waiting in line for the ride. Nothing really fun about it, and it's a little boring. After Wednesday, when we'll be living out of a suitcase and schlepping ourselves up and down the East coast, I think it'll feel like that upward climb at the beginning of any good roller coaster. We're not REALLY on the ride yet, but we're definitely committed. There's no turning back after we're moved out of our apartment! And then, when we finally get on a plane--whenever that may be--that'll be when the REAL fun begins!

I'm very very excited to get this ride started! I just really don't enjoy the waiting in line part. I've never been good at packing, or patience.

Figuring out this whole visa thing has certainly been a test of my patience. It's really difficult to figure out what the consulate wants from us, and when I call to ask for clarification, I get brushed off. I'm trying to convince myself that it's because they're busy people up there in Washington, and it has nothing to do with my gender.

But let's be honest, I could probably get results if I had a penis...at least in Saudi, that is.

A few weeks ago we received word that there had been a hitch in Saudi Arabia with my visa. My school had never directly sponsored a female employee, so they didn't realize that the visa process for a woman is different, and more drawn-out than that for a man. le sigh.

We were advised to go ahead and get the Mister's visa so that, if need be, he could leave for KSA before me, set up residency, and then apply for me to join him. Apparently that's how it's usually been done.

That caused me to have a small panic attack--but just for a minute. The Mister and I have been planning to spend some time in Europe before we arrive in KSA. If he arrived before I did, how would that little detour be possible? And don't even get me started on his housekeeping skills! Set that man loose in a brand new apartment and it'd become a frat house in 2 days.

Thankfully, we later got word that the Ministry of Education has approved my educator status (woo!), and that was the biggest hurdle in my process. So according to our new boss, we can proceed as planned.

Whew. Crisis diverted.

Vicariously yours,

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Packing = time to reflect

Wow! I never realized how much stuff we had hoarded over the years! We're really trying to pare down as much stuff as possible since we'll be storing what we don't take to Saudi at our parents' houses. I've been channeling my inner "hoarding specialist" psychologist (a la TLC's Hoarders: Burried Alive) and really trying to decide if I want to keep this random article of nostalgia because I really need it, or because I really need the memory.

The Mister and I both need a quick refresher on what's supposed to go in the keep pile, and what's not. For him, it's T-shirts. He's got shirts from MIDDLE SCHOOL, and he doesn't want to part with them. Thankfully, God has given us the T-shirt quilt, and I think that's the compromise we need.

My weakness, apparently, is my old notebooks and textbooks from college. I haven't looked at them in over four years. I'm sure there are second and third editions of the books out by now--they're not even worth posting on half.com. There has only been one spiral notebook of notes from a class that I've thought about digging up to use as a reference for a lesson, but I never actually did.

But today, I found a justification for hanging on to these things. I found a notebook from a practicum in North Charleston my senior year. I was observing a teacher in a semi-middle class middle school and I remember being SO BORED watching her teach. I remember thinking she was better than the other teacher I was observing (who was painful to watch), but I actually listed ways I would have made her lessons more interesting. I remember looking around and seeing really bored students.

But today, when reading back over my notes, I realized that if a practicum student were in my classroom, they'd see basically the same thing. She had multiple transitions that went smoothly. Nothing lasted more than 15 minutes in her class, and they were all focused on the standards. She had review games, she used direct instruction with academic language...AND SHE WAS SO BORING.

I have become her, and I needed this shot in the pants to help me realize that I'm doing what I promised I wouldn't do. I need to step up my game big time in Saudi, especially since I'll be speaking a foreign language, and we all remember how engaging those classes were in high school.

See, Mister?! Hoarding can be good!

Vicariously yours,

Thursday, June 10, 2010

In the mean time, we'll travel!

As you can imagine, we're a little restless now that school is out for the summer. Add to that the fact that we have a REEALLY extended summer this year, and you've got a recipe for travel....before 2 years of extended travel...ahem.

Anyway, we've got lots of friends and family to visit on our Farewell America tour of 2010, and we'll be spending the better part of July traveling the Eastern seaboard. Here are our stops:

Before we board our first plane, we've got an epic road trip ahead of us. We'll be going to:

Atlanta (it's where the players play) to visit one of my college roommates and her boyfriend... and *fingers crossed* visit with one of the Mister's cousins. Then....

The thriving metropolis of Easley, South Carolina! (So there aren't all that many shots of its skyline, so I had to go with the MapQuest shot.) My grandparents and an aunt live in Easley, and it wouldn't be a farewell tour without visiting the hot spot of Pickens County!

We'll head East, inching our way to the coast, and take a stop in....

Another center of commerce and culture: Florence, South Carolina! Not only is this stop one stop closer to the Carolina coast, but it's also home to my favorite pseudo aunt and uncle, and I couldn't be more excited to spend a few days with the family we chose.

From Florence we head down I-95 to a city I haven't visited since I graduated in 2006, and I've missed it dearly:

CHARLESTON!!!!! Oh, Holy City, how I've missed you!! We're going to spend our second anniversary in my most favorite city in the world and excited doesn't even begin to describe how I feel about it. We're going to eat shrimp and grits, walk the battery, and--best of all--spend hours lying on the beach, any beach, all the beaches, of the fantastic Charleston coast.

One of the best parts of this trip to the coast: I might get to see one of my old rowing teammates for the first time since I graduated! Our timing couldn't be better because she's about to relocate as well!

In Charleston we ditch the car and hop a plane to....

Washington D.C.!
What better way to begin the end of our time in this fair country than by visiting the capitol city? We've got some obvious business to take care of at the embassy that'll hopefully expedite our visa processing, and at the same time we'll have the chance to visit with friends-some of whom we haven't seen since our wedding!!
Personally, I'm REALLY looking forward to finally visiting the Washington Monument!! When I visited in high school, that giant phallus was closed for renovation. Then 9/11 happened, and it was closed due to security concerns. When the Mister and I visited DC last year during Spring Break, I didn't get tickets in time, so we missed our chance.
But not this time, my friends! I've already called dibs on a trip to the top for two at dusk! I'm suuuper excited!!

After all that excitement, we're heading up the coast to....

THE BIG APPLE! We'll hopefully be able to reconnect with old friends who were also at our wedding who will be relocating to New York City very soon. Even if we don't get to meet up with those lovely friends, we'll get to have some time together in a city we've never shared. We've both been to NYC, but we've never been together, so that'll be fun and I predict lots of love-challenging trips on the subway in our future.

For New York, we continue up the coast even further to...

Yes, its skyline isn't really all that recognizable, but we'll be visiting Providence, Rhode Island for a few days. We were originally going to visit close family friends outside of Boston, but I'm a horrible person and I scheduled our visit at the same time they were out of town, so I fail. I guess the bright side is we get to visit what we've heard is a really nice New England town. From what I can tell, it's got a nice urban park, lots of cute historic sections, and unique shops. We'll meander our way through one of the oldest places in the country and soak in the Americana.

After a few days of that, we'll take the train a little further up the coast to....

The stunningly historical city of BOSTON!! There we'll be able to spend a few days with my sister and her husband in their new home. I'm really excited to have some time before we leave the country with my sister and the Mister and I both really love Boston, so it's a win-win!

From there we ride the train back to Washington D.C. to finish up the last of our business with the Saudi embassy before we pack up and head home! I can't speak for the Mister, but I'm really getting restless, and I hope all this travel will quench some of my travel thirst.

Vicariously yours,

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Amber's Answer

So, we're only getting moderately better at operating the flipcam and its editing software. Apparently I'm also only moderately able to speak. Please excuse the mumbling, stuttering, and overall bad rhetoric in this video post.

So, dear readers, I give you my answer to the eternal question: WHY?!

Tuesday was a big day for me. I had a dental appointment, which is why my cheek is swollen, and I had a hair appointment, which is why my hair is slightly fluffier than usual.

As you can see from all the boxes and laundry in the background, we've started packing, and it's going slowly. We'll be posting most of our worldly belongings on Craigslist soon, so keep an eye out for that if you want some stylish ikea furniture.

Vicariously yours,

Thursday, June 3, 2010

One. Step. Closer!

We were notified today that our validated college degrees are on their way back to Nashville!! While it took us a looong time to decipher what exactly they wanted from us, I must say I'm impressed with how quickly the Cultural Mission processed this paperwork.

But now, we still have to wait. We also were notified by our new school that we have to put the brakes on submitting our paperwork to the embassy because they need to change my authorization letter. Apparently they wrote that I've accepted a job at the boys' school, which is illegal in KSA. So now they've got to write a new one, submit that to the appropriate authorities in Saudi, and then mail it to us.

But really, it doesn't matter, because we're on step closer to getting our visas, and that means the giddy butterflies have begun!!!

Sooo excited!

Vicariously yours,

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

An EXCELLENT Question...

Why, yes. I am going to post as well. As we are going through this process together, I have decided that I should answer the #1 question that we get as we head off to Saudi. So without further ado...

So there you have it. I believe this is going to be our greatest adventure, and I can't wait to begin!

Vicariously Yours,