Thursday, July 31, 2008

The Limmon Sisters (plus 2) in the Bedroom

All I'm saying is that if you haven't tried Limacello for your next party, you need to add that to your list of THINGS TO DO.
A photo would be published, but I want to protect the reputations of those involved. You know who you are. Here's to you...clink
PS Email me for the group shot-it's great!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Thicker than Water

Pictured above are several members of my combined Wagner-Thompson families. I am so GRATEFUL that that they were able to attend our party on Saturday. What a pleasure to have relatives as friends!
UFFDA we had fun!
PS Cousin Mark would have been in the picture but he was too busy making Family Only pina colatas. HUGS to you Groovin'

Monday, July 28, 2008


Saturday afternoon we hosted the No Wine, No Swine Porkout Party at the cabin for friends and family. It was our attempt to try and thank all the good people of Pelican Rapids for raising us for the past 14 years. Over 160 people attended (no one crashed) Family members came from as far away as Colorado and Iowa. We even received a phone call from our "Greek new best friend Basil" who we met last year in Belize. He wants us to go sailing in Greece next summer. We're in...

Of course, I didn't get a chance to talk to everyone, the toilet wasn't working and I felt overworked in the kitchen. These were the petty things I assaulted my husband with late Saturday evening. Then I slept on it and realized how LUCKY WE ARE to have so many people who took time out of their lives to celebrate ours. I apologized to David and mentally slapped myself for not celebrating the REAL moments in life.

It was great fun, the weather was perfect and the combination of family and friends showing the love was awesome. We are SO BLESSED.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Tough Stock

My husband comes from tough stock. Charlie and Maxine Brown lived overseas for over 30 years teaching in Puerto Rico, Spain, Turkey, England, Germany, and Okinawa for the Department of Defense. They know all about this "moving" adventure that David, Anna and I are about embark on. No question--they have been our biggest supporters.

However, it doesn't make it any easier that they are currently dealing with major health issues. Charlie is losing his eyesight to glaucoma and working through the grief and trauma associated with watching his wife Maxine succumb to Alzheimers.

Uncle Doug, who also makes his living traveling as an independent contractor to countries seeking help with their GIS projects, has been incredibly supportive of us. He's able to make his life work so he can live with the parents and be available to help. He will be the one to put together the major pieces after David's parents make the next inevitable move to a facility with more care.

For those of you reading this who have dealt with "Sandwich generation" issues, you know it's not easy working through parenting the parents. I have incredible admiration and love for what the Brown boys are currently dealing with. Not fun.

Yesterday as we left Charlie's hospital room, he said to David, "Don't worry about me"
That's always been the family motte--his mother would say "I'll do the worrying so you don't have to". The patented response is "Thank You but I will worry anyway".

Of course we are worrying about their health along with the guilt of leaving and the very real possibility that when we leave, it really will be Goodbye to both of them. However, they are all so excited for us to have adventures of our own that it would be a diservice to them to think of not leaving.

I'm proud to be a member of the Brown family and can only hope and pray that our children have inherited these wanderlust tough genes.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

It's All His Fault

31 years ago this week I met this man. 26 years ago this week I married him. 20 and 15 years ago I gave birth to his children.
In 25 days, I will take his hand and board an airplane destined for a whole new life in a country I had never heard of until the Gulf War and really didn't know its location until recently.

David has taken great pains to make me into an international woman. He took on my first airplane ride-to England 27 years ago this week. We went to see the wedding of Chuck and Di (no joke) and other stuff in England. I was "bit" hard by the travel bug. I found jobs that would take me to exotic, fun and interesting places (Yes West Virginia does count!). I have lived with used furniture my entire married life because traveling was more important. I had
a goal to see all 50 states before turning 50. I've made it to 49. Kuwait got in the way of planned trip to New Mexico this fall.

Ben and Anna seem have been bitten by the same bug. They were fabulous troupers on our 2003 trip to Germany. Ben toured Europe for a month after his 2006 graduation. Anna is saving her pennies for a 2009 trip to the World Cup in Africa.

Of course, David has been done more traveling than all of us. Yesterday I was watching a slide show of all the places his family traveled while he was growing up. Uncle Doug, 9 years older and many years wiser, was providing the narration. It was like a National Geographic travelog..Moscow, Turkey, Panama, Spain, Haiti, Greece, Austria. .etc, etc. It was amazing.

When I first entered the Brown family, I was intimidated by the dinner time conversations of world politics, destinations and political smart talk. While I am still easily intimidated by the political smart talk, I can pretty much hold my own in the travel arena.

Lately David has preferred to let me do the traveling. Although I know he is thrilled to be undertaking this new adventure and he talks often of all the places we can and will visit.

So it is his fault I'm leaving. It's his fault I've become the travel bug. It's his fault I've become much more than the Small Town Girl who grew up in a gravel pit. Damn him.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Mi Hermanos, Mi Hermana and Mi Amore

NOTE: Translation for those of you who do not speak Spanish: My brothers, my sister and my love

Recently I had the great pleasure (as a part of the Long MN Goodbye tour part 3) to gather with long time friend Marc (my "brother") and his lovely spunky wife Ximena (my "sister") in Brainerd, the home of another hermano, Kevin. The two brothers had never met, although they had heard of each other for over 30 years.

I am truly blessed with friendships--especially male ones. Before David (mi amore) and I got married, I said to him, "well you must understand that there are a couple guy friends who are very important to me and I will not give them up. If you can't handle it, then I'm sorry" (what choice did the poor guy have 26 years ago?!)

Fortunately these males who were so important to me back then are still in my life, plus a couple others. I don't go around collecting males like Ken Dolls (..oh let's not go there!) I think that subconsiously I wanted to grow up in family of brothers and so I've gathered them around me over the years. I also have a couple good sisters of another mother (and father).

Because of my birth order being the youngest with 21, 17 and 12 years between me and my birth siblings, I didn't really know them until my parents died. My relationships with them are very good and growing and I am very proud and pleased with that. But in reality I have friends that know me better and longer than my brother and sister. My neices and nephews are another story--I grew up with them. While I love my birth family dearly, as I have stated in blog, I do believe that

Right before this picture Marc and I were singing in the Starbucks--seranading the barrista with a chorus of "I've Got a Brand New Pair of Roller Skates" (remember?! the 70s?) Kevin, who really doesn't sing, was smiling and then said "Wow-you guys are really old". Of course he's the same age as we are-actually the boys are and always will be older than me.

Singing at the top of my lungs with an old friend, enjoying the gathering of important people, with my spouse by my side made today a PERFECT DAY! I will carry these people, and others, in my heart to Kuwait. And if they have a chance, I know they will be drinking beer for me over here.

Love-it comes in many forms. I am lucky to be loved by such great people.

MDMC-thanks for the incredible going away gift. Knowing your spending habits for past 37 years, I am more than honored. You get 2 points for this! X-thanks for caring enough to cry when we left. And KJCD-your gift of time has been awesome and humbling. Gracias Mi Hermanos and Hermana.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

SWOT Running

This is a picture of Anna playing soccer last fall for Hillcrest/PR. Since she is the designated Athlete in the family, I thought it was appropriate to feature her.

Lately friends who know me well have accused me of "running from something" because I seem to be spending too much time visiting people, occupying myself with activities, etc. I've thought about it and it's possibly our August 15 departure and my completely new lifestyle. Oh hec, who am I fooling...not possibly-probably.

Part of this is seasonal--it's a normal pattern for me to visit places and people in the summertime. If a teacher can't take advantage of those glorious three months, then what good is it?! BTW-GOOD teachers really resent that t-shirt that says "Three reasons to teach-June, July and August".

But I digress (again, running?!)
So I've been trying to stop myself and face the future head-on. "Brother" Peter recently said something brilliant (not the first time, not the last)
He said that when someone is facing a significant challenge, they should make a SWOT list:

So I'm attempting to do that for myself. Here's what I've come up with--

STRENGTHS: I am a good teacher. I will have an opportunity to teach Drama, which is my passion. I will be able to take this adventure with David and Anna. I love to travel. David's job was cut and now we have jobs.

WEAKNESSES: I need lots of people in my life and I'm scared what will happen when I don't have my "core" people by my side. The weather is hot, damn hot. I don't function well when I don't have both my children in my Mother Hen Den at least once a month. I'm not used to spending significant amounts of solitary time with David.

OPPORTUNITIES: Whoa-this is where the list could get long. The opportunitity to teach, to travel, to experience a new culture, to learn more about my daughter during the precious last years of high school, to live my husband's lifestyle, to prove to myself that I can live away from home and work on all the above weaknesses.

THREATS: Well, there's that whole war thing. And the heat (I consider this a threat) and Anna surviving in a new environment. And the insecurity of just exactly we will come out with our finances.

Okay I've made the list. Nothing seems as threatening as cancer (what I use in my life as the BIG OMG). Maybe, just maybe I can do this.

Like my daughter, at least I'm willing to try. It's down to less than 4 weeks for departure. Keep those prayers (in whatever religion) a'comin' folks.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Inquiring Minds Want to Know

NOTE: This picture and following article is for those who are wondering what I will have to wear AND what is under those hijabs...
Again, I thank Intlxpatr, wonderful Kuwait blogger, for this information.

One of the questions I get most often when I am back in the US is whether I have to cover, whether I have to wear an abaya, whether I have to cover my hair. I tell them that in Kuwait, it is still a choice. Many Kuwaiti women do not cover their hair, but most dress modestly and are still traditional and conservative in behavior.

I tell them that in Saudi Arabia, I had to wear the abaya, but that the embassy instructions were to carry a scarf, but only to wear it if the muttawa / religious police made a fuss, as it was not the law of the country. The law stated that Moslem women would be covered, but not non-Muslim women. The Saudi women would tell me all the time that I didn’t have to cover, but when I mentioned the Muttawa - they all just sighed and nodded, and said that some people have a funny idea about religion, but that this was not the real Islam.

What I loved about women in Saudi Arabia is that they have a lot in common with women everywhere. When confined, they have ways to press the envelope. For example, the malls are full of stores with the sexiest shoes I have ever seen - and when feet are one of the few things that CAN be seen, guess where the money gets spent? There were also entire floors devoted to perfumes, and women would pass and you could nearly swoon from the delicious scents, an entire cloud of scents as they passed, cloaked in anonymity. There were glove shops, with the sexiest, laciest gloves you have ever seen. At the time, most of the abayas and scarves in Saudi Arabia were plain black, although occasionally you might see one with a discreet little trim, or a tiny little sparkle.

The kids told me they could tell their family members; they learned to identify posture and voices. They didn’t have any problems picking out their Moms and sisters.

Women would approach me in stores, standing next to me, pretending to examine some goods and whisper “Hi! Where are you from?” and “Do you like it here?” Many times, on planes, husbands would make their wives change places so as not to be contaminated by sitting by the likes of me, a wicked western woman with her hair showing, but the women would smile shyly when the husband was looking the other way. Women are women. We have our ways. We manage to get around restrictions.

GRAND announcement

As promised, I am writing to say that the lovely(s) beloved Dogs, Miss Angel and Ms Zowie officially have homes when we leave (someone say Amen!) Angel will be staying with teaching friend and morning walking companion, KKO and Zowie will be out on the farm of the Olsons. Both were given a trial run last week when I was running around throughout North America and David was at his parents. They will both have WONDERFUL times and be more than loved. I feel sooo much better.

In honor of them, I reprint the following article found on Yahoo!
Not that I've ever even thought of running for President, but it appears I would at least get the votes of the pet owners.
In Kuwait, they like cats. Ugh...

Pet owners prefer McCain over Obama
By RANDOLPH E. SCHMID, Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON (AP) — If the presidential election goes to the dogs, John McCain is looking like best in show.

From George Washington's foxhound "Drunkard" to George W. Bush's terriers "Barney" and "Miss Beazley," pets are a longtime presidential tradition for which the presumed Republican nominee seems well prepared, with more than a dozen.

The apparent Democratic nominee Barack Obama, on the other hand, doesn't have a pet at home.

The pet-owning public seems to have noticed the difference.

An AP-Yahoo! News poll found that pet owners favor McCain over Obama 42 percent to 37 percent, with dog owners particularly in McCain's corner.

"I think a person who owns a pet is a more compassionate person — caring, giving, trustworthy. I like pet owners," said Janet Taylor of Plymouth, Mass.

Taylor, who described herself as a retired stay-at-home wife, owns two cats, Lady Jane Taylor and Mr. Tommy Katz.

Richard Powell, 79, of Spokane, Wash., whose dog passed away last fall, said if a person owns a pet that "tells you that they're responsible at least for something, for the care of something."

He said pet ownership wouldn't make a difference in his vote, but if a president owns a pet, then "I'm glad to know they like animals."

Christina Duffney, a spokeswoman for the American Kennel Club, said "you usually connect with things that you're familiar with, so that could be a part of" why pet owners lean toward McCain.

Well, if voters identify with a guy who owns pets, it's easy to see why they'd like the Arizona senator.

He has a veritable menagerie, including Sam the English springer spaniel, Coco the mutt, turtles Cuff and Link, Oreo the black and white cat, a ferret, three parakeets and a bunch of saltwater fish.

On the other hand, the poll found that among people who don't have pets, Obama leads McCain 48 percent to 34 percent.

But that still leaves McCain looking strong, since the majority of homes have a pet.

The American Pet Product Manufacturers Association estimates that 63 percent of American homes include a pet, including 88 million cats and 75 million dogs.

Both of those groups lean toward McCain: 43 percent to 34 percent for dog owners and 41 percent to 38 percent for cat owners.

While he doesn't currently have a pet, Obama has reportedly promised his daughters a dog once the campaign is over.

In a spirit of helpfulness, the American Kennel Club is collecting opinions as to what kind of dog Obama should get.

There are more than 150 breeds available, but not every one is suitable for every family because of exercise needs, allergies, personalities and other reasons.

So the AKC has narrowed the choices down to five breeds and is asking the public to vote at with voting to continue until mid-August.

Their suggestions: Bichon Frise, Chinese crested, poodle, soft coated Wheaten Terrier or miniature Schnauzer.

According to the Presidential Pets Museum there are no records of family pets in the administrations of James K. Polk, Millard Fillmore, Franklin Pierce and Chester Arthur. Fillmore, however, was a founding member of the Buffalo, N.Y., chapter of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

President Andrew Johnson reportedly left flour out at night for a family of mice living in the White House, though it's not clear if that counts as having a pet.

Here's a look at the poll results:

— All pet owners: McCain, 42 percent; Obama 37 percent; Nader, 3 percent; other, 3 percent; undecided, 14 percent. Margin of error, plus or minus 2.9 points.

— Do not own a pet: Obama, 48 percent; McCain, 34 percent; Nader, 3 percent; other, 3 percent; undecided, 12 percent. Margin of error, 4.1 points.

— Dog owners: McCain, 43 percent; Obama, 34 percent; Nader, 3 percent; other, 3 percent, undecided, 12 percent. Margin of error, 3.6 points.

— Cat owners: McCain, 41 percent; Obama, 38 percent; Nader, 3 percent; other, 4 percent; undecided, 14 percent. Margin of error 3.9 points.

The population breakdown of who has pets and who doesn't also may be a factor.

For example, the poll found 47 percent of whites own dogs, compared with just 24 percent of blacks. Whites tend to favor McCain, while blacks overwhelmingly favor Obama.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

In the middle of Nowhere is the Center

Here it is folks, a photo from Rugby, North Dakota--THE geographical center of North America (or at least their Chamber of Commerce boasts as much). We stopped here recently on our way home from Anna spending a week at Art Camp. We've been to this location 4 times over the past 4 years, picking up our kids from the camp (also known as Band Camp, Drama Camp and the International Peace Gardens). But yet we've never stopped here for a photo opportunity.

SO Anna says "Mom let's take a picture". Now those of you who have teenage daughters know this NEVER happens. So when it does, ya gotta be quick! Thanks to the other tourists who could take the picture of both of us.

Watching Anna grow up is an amazing process. There isn't a day when I don't thank (and curse) God for the gift he's given me in her. I know my parents are giggling in heaven at the thought of me having to put up with the crap I gave them. She's been real trouper throughout the process of preparing to move. Her classic initial comment was "What I cannot change, I will endure" (yes there is always DRAMAH at our house!)

Yesterday driving home across North Dakota we had a good chance to talk, and laugh, and I found out that she does indeed have some concerns about our new adventure. While I praise her bravery, I also acknowledge that this won't be easy for her leaving Friends (THE Center of her life now) or to not be a NORMAL AMERICAN TEENAGER. I also know that she, probably more than David or I, will be be changed by this experience. God grant me the strength to put up with that!

But, she's willing to try it--and that's the most amazing thing. She really is a grounded person-centered in her beliefs and abilities and she's got a great developing sense of adventure. In short, she totally amazes me (when she's not totally ticking me off!)

When Ben was little, i received a book titled "Listen to the Littlest Ones". In it, there is this poem
when you shield me too tightly? What are you saying about me when you don't let me go?
Am I hearing that life is dangerous?
Am I hearing that I can't make it?

I guess we must be making a big statement when we said "We're moving to Kuwait". Let's hope it was the right words.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Long Minnesota Goodbye Part II

Just returned from another whirlwind tour over the past two weeks . This one included car trips to Chicago, Southern Wisconsin, and Winnipeg. The purpose of these trips was to have an opportunity to visit fun places and important people and spend quality time before departing for Kuwait. Anna sees it differently. She tells people “My mom’s visiting all these people like she’ll never see them again. We’re only going to be gone 10 months, not 10 years.”

I understand her comment. Through the last 6 months, I’ve tried to reassure friends and family that it is SAFE to move to Kuwait and we will be returning. The friends I’ve been visiting I do not see on a regular basis-maybe one a year IF I’m lucky. And I hope they are not planning on dying anytime soon (as much as they can control it!)

However, I will admit to an irrational fear that something WILL happen and someone important to me will die while I'm gone. I want to make sure that I had a final complete opportunity to be with these people and say the things I needed to say.

And what IF someone I love does die when I’m gone ? I can't control the outcome but I can control my response. What can I do? Hop on a plane to be there ? Yes I can-but at great expense. You all know me-I’d be on the next flight out-with David dragging me off the plane explaining (in Arabic of course) that his crazy wife has no concern/sense of spending money when it comes to her friends and family.

I’m German enough to know that I can’t control life events. I’m also Norwegian enough to try. So I'm trying to control what I can by saying the things I need to say to people while they are around to hear it and I'm around to say it. Can you hear James Taylor's "Shower the People you Love with Love
in the background?!

In closing, one of the big lessons I learned through my parents deaths was to never leave anything unsaid. Hopefully I won't need to be thankful that I put on over 1875 carbutt miles in four weeks. Oops, too late, I already am THANKFUL.