Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Lucky in love: Virginia Beach Shamrock 8k



While we're packed in close to 4 inches of snow here in DC, I'm warmed thinking of our weekend in Virginia Beach.  Cassie, Abdoulaye and I loaded into our car on Friday evening to head down to VB for the Shamrock 8k (and to cheer on my sister-in-law, Courtney, who ran the 1/2 marathon).
Abdoulaye wearing a medal before the race to get into the spirit!
When we arrived at the starting corrals on Saturday morning, we scanned the crowd for familiar faces and where we could slip in with our starting group.  As we looked around, I saw a man who looked like an elite, African runner (tiny frame, seemed freezing in the 70 degree temps).  At the same time, his eyes landed on Abdoulaye and he bee-lined his way over to us.  I wouldn't say he gave Abdoulaye elevator eyes to check him out but it was close.  We all greeted one another and then Edward, as we later learned was his name, asked Abdoulaye "what is your time?" to which Abdoulaye replied, "not so fast."  We all laughed as we realized Edward thought Abdoulaye was a fellow elite runner and wanted to know his mile time.  He told us he was living in New Mexico (to train in high altitude) and here with three other Kenyans for the marathon the following day.
On a pontoon ride after the race with my treasures :)
While Abdoulaye didn't win the race - he did beat everyone in the family except Dan, my soon to be brother-in-law who is a serious athlete.  I ran my best and was encouraged by Cassie who is a steady runner and didn't let me slow down :)  Thankfully the wind wasn't too harsh and the day was as close to perfect for running as you can get.
Cap'n Morgan and his trusty crew
After the race we loaded into Dad & Sheri's new pontoon boat for a spin on Linkhorn Bay.  Lisa and Louise joined us as well (they're running with us next year! - right, Lisa??) and loved soaking up the rays and checking out First Landing State Park (though I'll never stop calling it Seashore State Park).
On our trip to Virginia Beach last year, Jarrett was just three weeks old  - now he's 12 months and 3 weeks and looking at him feels like seeing the past year on fast forward.   I'm already looking forward to next year's race!
Lindsay and me with our nephew, Jarrett, in 2013 - less than a month old!
2014 :)
See more pictures from this year's Shamrock race here and last year's here

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Days of love

Abdoulaye is with his family in Guinea until next week.  Until then, I'm celebrating my favorite Valentine from afar and giving thanks for all the loves in my life.  Every day is a day to celebrate love!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Trifles to Treasures

Yesterday I completed the requirements for my Master of Arts in International Education from the SIT Graduate Institute.  Two years really did fly by and while I'm thankful to be done, I will miss the interactions with my cohort on our assignments.  Of course, most of the folks in my cohort have gone from being acquaintances to friends so I look forward to keeping in touch!

You know what else I look forward to?  More crafting and treasure-making (and blogging!).  See below for my latest  creations!  I've been on the hunt for matching nightstands with drawers (not too big, not too small, not expensive) and finally found two nightstands (one red, one blue) in moderate condition at Community Forklift.  Now is a great time to go there since it's the middle of winter and folks don't want to leave their cozy homes to buy home improvement supplies in a cold warehouse.  Lucky for me these solid wood babies were 1/2 off and just needed a little sanding, priming and painting (I made that sound way faster than it was...these took me awhile to refinish :)


Before

After

Sunday, December 8, 2013

one year here!

Dear Abdoulaye,

We (or is it I?) stopped counting the days you have been in the US a long time ago.  For awhile there, time was marked in the passing days, then weeks, then months and now, it's been a year that you've been here.  You said today that when you stop counting time, it moves faster.  I don't think the passing of time is different but this year has certainly been one on the move.

Early in the morning on December 8th, 2012 we got on a plane in Dakar, Senegal - your freshly minted fiancé visa in hand - and prepared for touch down in Washington, DC.  I, of course, slept the whole way while you watched movies and tried to get some sleep here and there.  That morning was a blur of family and snacks and moving into our apartment with Cassie and taking lots of pictures.  I couldn't wait to share this part of me with you.  I was nervous and excited and curious to see - what would our relationship be like 3,000 miles from where we first started?  How do you prepare for something that you don't need to prepare for?

I love looking through the pictures on my blog - our outfits haven't changed much throughout the year but we sure do have some big ol' smiles.  I know that if all of our moments were captured on camera, they wouldn't all be smiles.   The harder times are just as important to remember as the good but they don't always photograph as well :)

When we have friends and family over for dinner or meet someone at a restaurant, I love watching you talk and tell stories and laugh - you have adapted to life here so well though it doesn't seem like you have to try; you just are.  I sometimes try to think back and remember what your conversations with others were like before you spoke English so well but I'm drawing a blank; I can't remember.

It's late at night, or early in the morning, and the rain outside is washing away the first snow from our front yard of our first home together as I write.  I remember when you first got here, from my memory and my blog, and how I would ask you so frequently "What do you think??" and how eager I was to hear your impressions of America - like when you saw your first snow.  I can't remember the last time I asked you that, do you?  Now when you share your experiences, they come as stories from work or the grocery store or the metro.  They're just stories of your life - of our life - and I love hearing them.

Last night we shared the love seat in the tv room - you were watching videos of babies laughing hysterically at dogs and old Jimmy Kimmel episodes while I put the finishing touches on the final draft of my capstone thesis.  I'm so looking forward to when I can snuggle up with you and watch goofy videos without feeling guilty that I should be working on school assignments.

This whole weekend I felt like your first year in the US needed to be marked with toasts at dinner or frequent mention of the date - but it's hard to celebrate an obscure date like this and I felt a little like I was grasping at straws.

I can hear the space heater going in our bedroom from where I'm sitting and I can picture you snuggled in bed, likely wearing one of your winter coats to add another protective layer from our sometimes drafty room.  You'll wake up earlier than me to get to work - my words aren't enough to express how proud I am of you for working so hard for our family.  You tackle situations on a daily basis that I wouldn't want to handle and I'm so thankful you do it all with such grace and a positive attitude.

When I remind friends, co-workers and family that it's been a year since you've been here, they tilt their head back, mentally counting the months or thinking about the passing time and then, inevitably, shake their heads and say - the time really flies, huh?  8,766 hours, 365 days, 12 months.  I'm no longer counting all of those - but I will count the years.  And with you, sweet Abdoulaye, the years really count.

All my love,
Jennifer

Friday, November 29, 2013

thankful.

I was pretty excited to make my first-ever turkey.  Looked nice (verdict's still out on taste...)
As we unpacked our groceries, Abdoulaye handed me the turkey and said, "It's our first turkey together!", which made me have this little heart-burst feeling inside and give him a look that is kind of like a wince/cry face but is intended to show my joy.  Clearly I had succeeded in communicating how important Thanksgiving is to me to my precious husband.

Last week, we had to call my parents and let them know we wouldn't be coming home, as originally planned, to celebrate Thanksgiving because Abdoulaye had to work on Friday & Saturday (they have over 100 dogs at the vet hospital where he works!).  I was disappointed we wouldn't be spending my favorite holiday of the year with them - especially when they're not so far away - but I also couldn't leave Abdoulaye for his first American Thanksgiving - and so we decided to celebrate at our home just outside of DC.

On Wednesday night I pulled up the Thanksgiving recipes I pinned on Pinterest and read them over - it was time to get cracking on the brine for the turkey!  I prepared our little friend for consumption and got to making the rolls - Thanksgiving was shaping up to be delicious.
Our West African (and Virginian/Marylandian) delegation.
Thursday morning, with our guest list totaling 5, Abdoulaye and I changed our plans from having a little party at our place to joining Aaron and Elaina for their Thanksgiving festivities - our best move of the day!  After getting in a great nap (me) and watching a movie with the boys (Abdoulaye), we headed over to our turkey day hosts' home.

It was such a treat to join our family traditions (I brought sherbet and cranberry juice!) and celebrate with dear friends for whom I am truly thankful.  I looked back, just for kicks, to my Thanksgiving post from last year and I can remember how anxious I was as I prepared to leave for Senegal and attend Abdoulaye's fiancé visa interview.  This year, Abdoulaye carved the turkey and we cut a pumpkin pie together after the meal was over.

This year, and every day, I'm thankful for a lot of things.  I'm thankful for the men and women who serve our country (in so many capacities!) like my brother-in-law to be, Dan, and my best-friend-in law, Tony, and my friends in the foreign service.  I'm thankful for my handsome husband who finds ways to make me feel special in remarkable and unremarkable ways.  I'm thankful for our home and our dear friends who fill our life with love and joy and a family that wraps us up in love.  I like to think I celebrate Thanksgiving all year long - and I am certainly a proponent of having an attitude of gratitude - but I appreciate Thanksgiving as a reminder to be truly thankful all year long.   Hurrah for this day of thanks!

A conversation with Muhamed, a Guinean friend, pretty much sums up the day.  He asked for a few clarifying points on Thanksgiving before we packed up our car to head over for dinner.

Muhamed:So, what happens when we finish eating?  Is there a ceremony or...?
Me: Nope, we just eat and then sit and talk and then eat dessert.
Muhamed: Well, how would you compare it to a holiday in Guinea?
Me: Um.  Well, it's kind of like Tabaski?  Except it's not a religious holiday and we just eat.
Muhamed (to the group):  Eh, Americans like their holidays!!
Me: Yes, yes, we do.

More pictures from our day here!

One good-looking group of people.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

An Amani Ya Juu Holiday Season!

Image source
Are you struggling as much as I am with what Christmas or holiday gifts to get for friends and family?  I'm not only struggling with what to get folks but really from where to get them.  On the one hand, I've been trying (key word: trying!) to adopt a more minimalist approach to life.  Less clutter and tschokes around the house means less clutter and tschokes to clean or arrange.  Do I really need more stuff?

And yet, I do want to share a little something with certain family and friends who I think might really appreciate a special gift.  Cue Amani Ya Juu.  I stumbled across their shop in Mt. Pleasant in Washington, DC last summer while I was subletting a room in the neighborhood.  The shop itself is quite compact and yet they've managed to stock it with quality, hand-crafted goods sourced from Sub-Saharan Africa and women's collectives, providing training and employment to women in need and desire of both.

From their website:
Amani began in 1996 with four women sewing placemats together in Nairobi. Since then, Amani has grown to over 100 women representing ethnic groups and experiences from all across Africa. As women return to their homelands, they carry Amani with them. Amani has established a presence of peace in five African nations (Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi, Liberia, and Uganda) and two US cities (Washington, DC and Chattanooga, TN). Each Amani center is locally registered and independently managed with support from an international leadership team.
This Sunday (November 17th) and again on November 24th, Abdoulaye and I will be hosting Amani Sales in our home from 2-5.  We'd love for you to join us for tea and some snacks and to hang out and peruse some of Amani's gorgeous offerings.  Check out their website for some of what Amani has to offer.

Is there anything you'd especially like to see offered at our sale?  Let me know in the comments below!  Disclaimer: this isn't a commissioned sale - so no pressure to buy anything!  We're hosting because we like Amani's mission and way of doing business and want to do our part to help support their purpose:
Amani is committed to holistic development. Women gain experience in stitching, quality control, purchasing, bookkeeping, management and design. As new women enter the program they are mentored in quality workmanship with strong emphasis on ethical business practices and harmonious relationships with people of different backgrounds.
Avoid the mall this holiday season and if you're inclined to purchase treasures, come on over and get them from the comfort of our home.  Contact me at jennifermorgandavis [at] gmail  [dot] com for our address and/or questions.  I hope to see you soon!

Friday, October 18, 2013

going home where you are.

This past (long) weekend I went to visit Kate, one of my oldest friends.  She has known me since I got chased by bullies around our portable classroom in the 5th grade to when we chased boys in high school and now as we chase our dreams in cities far away from one another.

It's such a delightful feeling to go home to somebody.  As we move around, our homes change and the people around us are different but there is that lovely feeling of familiarity with a friend who has known you through so much.

We spent the weekend watching TV shows, catching up on family stories, going on walks around the block and snuggling with her French bull dog, Cash.  We did all this while drinking diet Dr. Pepper and eating cookies leftover from a care package for her husband, Tony, who is currently serving our country abroad.

Kate's mom, who is a surrogate mother to me, called while we were in the middle of one of our television marathons to check in on us.  She said we sounded like a couple of old married ladies staying in on a Saturday night watching our shows.  Kate, I love being an old married lady with you!

More pictures from our trip here!
just a couple of ol' married ladies.
beauty.
dancing at the lost river cave.
Jesse James hid out with his bandits at the Lost River Cave

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