November 24, 2012

There Better Be Ginger’s Orange Slush in Heaven

Every family is saturated with traditions. Those traditions have, over the years, become a culture—a language the entire family understands and appreciates. Our family is no different.

Some of those traditions are fun, others more serious. They range from activities like riding horses, camping or working in a field to food that we all love like double stuffed potatoes, deviled eggs, cheese melted on a plate OR the coveted Slush that Grandma Ginger makes for special occasions. It is around holiday season, that we are all together to enjoy all our similarities—AND our differences!

This week, Lady Hiva and I celebrated Thanksgiving with just the two of us. It was a simple day. It was a perfect day. We have so much to be thankful for over this past year. We have been very blessed. It was nice to have a day of quietness to remember all that we are thankful for. And don’t worry, we even had SLUSH!

Orange slush is a simple concoction: Orange Juice, Lemonade, Almond extract and LOTS of Vanilla extract. It is then frozen overnight to be ready for the family gathering the next day. Ginger always uses the same two enormous white Tupperware bowls to make it. To see them any other time of year it still reminds me of Slush and family gatherings. Slush is loved by all of us. Some family members have added different aspects over the years to tantalize their taste buds, Heidi likes to have a little Sprite in hers, Lady Hiva likes it with whip cream…but no matter what, we all love it. If there is someone in the family that cannot be with us, when they call during the party the first thing they ask about is if there is Slush—of course there is. They know that. But I guess we all just want to confirm anyway. A small way to know we are still a family no matter how far away we are from each other some things never change.

Recently, we past the three year anniversary of Trevor passing away; Ironically, in this Season of thanks, we have had so much sorrow over the years. (If you have not read the book yet, you can see why it is named WHITE LILIES IN AUTUMN) One of the cousins wrote on her Facebook page that she was missing Trevor and hoped that there was some of Grandma Ginger’s Slush in Heaven! Another cousin responded that if there wasn’t she was boycotting ever going. Yes, there was some humor to the conversation, but again it was a small way to communicate that when we are gathering as a family, and drinking our Slush, we miss those that are not there and hope in some way they know we miss them and wish they were there to drink some Slush too.

Although Lady Hiva and I were back in Manila on Thanksgiving Day, we still had our Slush to enjoy. Luckily, we were able to spend time with both our families at the beginning of the month. Having large dinners with Lady Hiva’s family and then having a Thanksgiving dinner with mine.

These times are so cherished. We sit around relaxing. Those that are there swap stories about growing up together. Most are full of laughter until our sides ache; although they may not have been as funny when they occurred years ago. We are able to meet the new additions to the families through births, adoptions, and marriages. We also notice the holes that are left when someone is missing—either because they could not make it, or they have left the family for one reason or another. No matter what the memories remain. The good and bad.

As we relax and drink our Slush, we tell our stories; we realize that no matter how different we are (we live in different States and Countries, have different accents, wear different clothes, prefer different climates, are shaped different, having a variety of hair and eye colors, we may not even have LIKED each other at some point, etc…) WE ARE STILL A FAMILY.

This same group that drinks Slush with us today is the group that cried with us last year, cheered for us last week, prayed for us yesterday and will call us tomorrow to make sure we know they love us. So, yes, I hope there is Grandma Ginger’s Slush in Heaven. Because when it comes time to decide where I will be, I want to be around that loud, crazy group of unique individuals gathered around an old Tupperware bowl sharing stories. That is MY FAMILY.

November 15, 2012

Diaper Donation to the Orphanage

Today was one of those crazy days where after a while you are afraid to open your emails for fear of what drama, anger, or problems they contain. But as I have said many times, there is no such thing as a bad day. There are PLENTY of positive things amidst the negative.

One REALLY great aspect of my day was going with several colleagues to an Orphanage to donate diapers they had collected over the course of a month in observance of “National Adoption Month.” A few of our energetic and service minded colleagues had spearheaded the diaper drive and did a wonderful job. It was a stressful journey, but today made the entire thing worth it.

The older children were at school so only the younger children and the special education children were there. As we came in, we waited for the Ambassador to come…there was not an empty lap in the entire room. Each person from the Embassy had at least one to three children vying for attention. They are the cutest little kids too! (I wish that it did not have to be so hard to adopt…I would have loved to bring several of them home with me)

The traffic caused the Ambassador to be a little bit late, so Embassy staff quickly resorted to keeping the children occupied. They played on cellphones, took photos, danced, made boats/airplanes/finger-games with the paper programs and literally they all became human jungle gyms!

She was trying to take a photo of us...

Even the Embassy Camera man had a chance to feel loved!

As part of the program, each group of kids did a dance number. They were hilarious. One group had a little girl in front that must have been left handed because the whole dance she did everything the opposite of the rest of the group. If they raised their right hand, she raised the left! If they turned left, she turned right. But they all just went on as if it was the correct way.

The smallest children did the “Gangnam Style” and they were SO into the dance. The staff from the Embassy actually got into it too…plenty of laughs and smiles to go around.
The twins in the front were SO CUTE

They were moving so fast the camera could not keep up!

The Special Needs group...these guys meant BUSINESS when it came to dance time!

Me saying thank you to all those who donated Diapers

Embassy Colleagues doing their Gangam Style

Teach me how to Dougie!

The day ended with the Ambassador reading Chicka-Chicka-boom boom about the alphabet climbing a coconut tree (a really cute book for those of you with kids) It was fun to see him playing with the children as he read. He even had a few of them come up and “show him” How to Dougie. They loved it!

I am thankful I was able to tag-a-long and see all love these children have. It is amazing to see the difference people make when they reach out and serve, just like my colleagues that have stressed, worried and worked so hard to have this diaper drive become a reality!