Thursday, April 26, 2007

Relocating to Cairo, Egypt in 4 months; no reason to stress?

Seeing that 1 September really isn’t that far off, and seeing that I haven’t seen one single entire chapter of the husband’s thesis yet, I was getting ‘a bit’ worked up about our forthcoming relocation the other day; how’s the husband going to finish his thesis all the while I work full time, the kids are home during their summer break, and we have to arrange everything for the transfer; vaccinations, dentist visits, VISAs, passport renewals, packing and moving house, insurance, bank account transfers, etc.?! (OK, I was getting really worked up, almost to a level of hysteria.) “Honey, just calm down” the husband said with a cool voice “No matter what happens between now and then, on 1 September we’ll still be in Cairo. I’ve accepted the offer, and we’re going to Cairo.” Of course he’s right; everything will be taken care of, I know we simply have to do what it takes, and there’s no reason to stress, however knowing that I’ll have to plan and execute most of the practical arrangements (and think of everything from canceling our grocery store card to buying myself a hijab), all the while working full time, I’m still a bit worked up - but just a little.

By Lovain

Monday, April 23, 2007

We're moving to Cairo!

Who would have thought that we would ever live in Cairo, Egypt? But it's official; the Husband has accepted the offer from the American University there, and we're moving after the summer. My head is spinning.

By Lovain

Sunday, April 22, 2007

What's another year?

This past Tuesday I turned 34. My colleagues took me out to lunch, the husband and the boys celebrated me with a steak dinner, cake and presents, and today the Amazing M. & Mr. Speedo threw me a wonderful birthday picnic at the park. It was a beautiful day; knowing that we all have great adventures lying ahead of us, we fully seized the day, and as I watched the husband, the boys, Mr. Speedo, the amazing M. and their 2 oldest children (the baby was snug in my arms) sing me "Happy birthday" I felt everything but old.

“Thirty-five is a very attractive age. London society is full of women of the very highest birth who have, of their own free choice, remained thirty-five for years." (Oscar Wilde; Lady Bracknell, Act III)

By Lovain

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Are we moving to Cairo? What do you think?

For as long as we have been together, the reason for our stay here in Belgium and our focus has been to finish the husband's doctorate so that he could get a good academic job in the U.S. We've never intended on staying in Belgium. The husband's career has been the director of our life, and along with it we have, all this time, been expecting and anticipating the final move and our settling down; buy a house, a car, enroll the boys in a school in a middle-sized town in America, and finally build our American life.

In a shockful state I now find myself trying to decide whether or not we really want to move; leave the safe Belgian social security system, leave my new fantastic and well-paid job, leave our nice rented house in the quiet suburd of Leuven, leave friends and familiar places, the children's school and our life as we know it, and move to Cairo, Egypt; not the U.S. but yes, to a muslim country in northern Africa.

The offer is nice, the community seems nice, and the experience would be nice; yet I keep thinking "what are we doing?!" Any ideas or reflections you might have in relation to an important decision like this are more than welcome!

By Lovain

Four happy friends in Belgium, spring of 2007

By Halloween these four best friends will be thousands of miles apart. Doesn't it break your hart?

By Lovain

Spring planting

Knowing that this probably is our last summer here in Belgium, we intend to take advantage of our lovely garden, and the husband & the youngest one enjoy gardening this spring.

By Lovain

Lots of beer to soothen the fear; when finishing a doctorate and a move to Cairo lies ahead

The husband went out for drinks last night with Mr. Speedo, and didn’t fall into bed until sometime after 4:30 this the morning. “Mr. Speedo was in full kebab-mode,” the husband said, excusing his own drunken state and the late hour. “Sounds like you had a good time,” I mumbled, and then told him to let me sleep a little more before the boys wake up.

I hope they had fun together, and managed, if only for a few minutes, to forget the stress that they are currently under, the pressure that is on them, and the hard and difficult times that lay ahead of us this year. Seeing that they are nearing the end of their doctorate studies, they’ve applied for jobs this spring; Mr. Speedo more actively than the husband, since he couldn’t rely on his wife for financial support (visa status implications) should there be a gap between doctorate graduation and a job offer. The husband initially decided it was too early to apply for jobs, especially in light of my starting a new job, however after pressure from a friend, he sent in an application to one university.

Mr. Speedo applied for 10 open positions in the U.S. and Canada, and got two interviews and one offer from a university in northeastern Canada, which he has accepted. The husband applied for one position at the American University of Cairo and got one offer, which he will accept later this week.

This drama in our lives implies several things: first of all it means that both our families will be leaving this country in one form or another this fall, going separate directions. Secondly, it means that both the husband and Mr. Speedo will need to have finished their doctorate dissertations by the end of the summer. Along with the knowledge that our lives are going to dramatically change over the next year, it’s the latter of the two implications that is causing the husband and Mr. Speedo stress. They have to finish their texts!

So if they both needed a few Rocheforts and kebabs to relax last night, then I grant them that; whatever it takes, as long as they finish.

By Lovain

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Happy feet

Last night we rented Happy Feet, and the boys enjoyed it tremendously. For those of you who haven't seen it, it starts out with 2 penguins getting together (by matching their special songs), they have an egg, and then all the females go off during the winter to catch fish while the males stay with the eggs. I asked the boys what was happening, and to them, this was the most natural constellation of all. "But the mamas are going to work, and the dadas stay home taking care of the babies" the youngest one said with an explanatory voice.

Well of course. It's the world as they know it.

By Lovain

Friday, April 06, 2007

Back to school for shoes, goggles and giggles

This past week I’ve been back to school. Since the company I work for is in a business I’ve never officially studied, I’m taking courses these first couple of weeks to learn all about the trade. It’s like being back at the university again, only this time it’s the real world business university studies, meaning you don’t get to drink beer in between classes, your mother doesn’t send you food or do your laundry, you don’t get to record lectures and exchange notes with class mates, and most importantly, you don’t have 4 years to finish; we are expected to learn everything about the subject - a matter you take at least one semester to learn about at the university - in a couple of weeks time, and there’s no flunking, no retaking exams; we simply have to know all the stuff by the end of the course. Needless to say, I’m tired. Excited, because I love to learn; happy, because it’s an interesting course, but really quite exhausted from trying to take in a lot of information in a short amount of time, and tired because I can’t throw my books on my desk when I come home and lay down on my bed while calling friends; I have 2 boys and a doctorate thesis writing husband, remember? A dirty house, dinner, dishes, laundry, shopping, Easter crafting, Batman games and bill paying awaits me every evening, and though some of these responsibilities are things I enjoy very much, it’s still difficult after an 8 hour day of intense university level lectures.

This past week, however, I also got my first paycheck, and believe me: I love my new job! Today I took the boys into town and let them pick out a nice pair of shoes each. They both chose black leather tennis shoes – really nice looking and great quality – and it was such a joy being able to buy them shoes from a real shoe store and not the grocery store or Aldi, knowing the shoes wouldn’t hurt their feet or break in a week. As we passed the swimming department of the sports store, the boys notices they had goggles for kids and immediately looked at me beggingly with their sweet great big eyes (we go swimming quite a bit, and goggles are always missed).

This evening before bed, the boys raced around the house wearing pajamas, their new shoes and swim goggles, happy as only 2 boys in pajamas, new shoes and swim goggles can be. I’m so lucky.

By Lovain