Sunday, January 27, 2002

Diary: 1/27/2002

Dear friends and family

First things first: Debbie is having a fantastic time in Cleveland - it seems that the sales are in full bloom and ripe for picking! While she is away, and unable to edit what I'm writing, I wanted to take a moment to acknowledge something:

Many of you have written to say that things here sound hard, to wonder how we are making it, to ask how we can keep a sense of humor through some of the things that have happened. The answer is simple: It's all Debbie.

I would have been on a plane, tail between my legs a week after we arrived if hadn't been for her love and good humor. She is the strongest person I have ever known, she has surprised me in ways and at times I could not have imagined. She has had days that would have sent me over the edge, and she has handled them with grace and finesse.

She is a walking, breathing, living miracle, and it's about time I took a moment and acknowledged it. I've tried before, but those attempts ended up being "backspaced" away into the cybertrash.

So now we go back to the week in review:

As you can imagine, this was a quieter week.

After the "star spangled dryer" performance on Sunday, we were on the phone bright and early Monday to see about a replacement. Things were getting down to the wire with Debbie's packing - and some of the stuff she needed was wet in the washer!

We had assurances that the new dryer (number 4, for those who are counting) would be delivered Tuesday. Which was cutting it close, but we'd make it.

On Tuesday afternoon, the repairman called me to ask if we wanted to do some wash over at his place. Meaning, of course, that it wasn't going to make it. We took him up on the offer. He is actually a neighbor, so it wasn't a big deal and he feels very embarrassed and responsible for the situation somehow. Of course, this isn't his fault. But if you are offered a Bauknecht dryer - run in the other direction!

Tuesday night we held Isabelle's birthday dinner. For her cake, she took a page from our friend Michael's book and asked for a chocolate-chip cookie dough cake. Yup, another raw one. It is a sad and twisted statement to make, but Debbie is actually getting very good at making these. This one actually had a vaguely cake-shaped form as it sat on the plate. Isabelle was in heaven. I'm just thanking God that none of us are prone to diabetes.

On Wednesday morning we dropped off the girls at school, and then drove out to the Geneva airport. Everything went smoothly, even security. They did ask Debbie to remove her shoes - and Joram's shoes!!; and they weren't sure whether to allow or confiscate Joram's baby spoon and fork (they didn't). On the one hand, such things are a hassle. On the other, they are doing their job and a little hassle is worth it in times like these.

The 8 hour flight from Geneva to New York was relatively uneventful. The plane was partially empty and Debbie had an open seat next to her. Joram was awake the entire way, until 5 minutes before they landed (of course!). But Debbie managed to get him loaded into the stroller and keep him asleep. And the security folks at JFK bent the rules a little and didn't make her take him out to put things through the x-ray. Again, they are doing their job, but being human about it too.

On Thursday the dryer arrived, but it wasn't until Saturday that had time to run a load of cloths. So far, no sparks. We will keep everyone posted.

On Saturday we celebrated Isabelle's birthday again. This time we went over the house Chris and Karen Ayres (and their daughter Elyse). The girls had fun playing, the adults had fun complaining about life, work, etc, and everyone had some birthday cake. A great time was had by all.

Sunday was mostly spent cleaning and finishing homework. Heather had a birthday in the afternoon - with a Harry Potter theme. We dusted off her costume from Halloween and off she went. Isabelle and Leon spent the afternoon watching "The Princess Bride" and eating popcorn. Then Leon finally caved in, wimped out, and bought McDonald's for dinner. Up until now things had gone so well!

As I mentioned before, Debbie is having a wonderful time. She is actually at her main class right now as I type this. She has had a chance to see some of her friends and family (but not enough time, and each visit is painfully short) and also get some necessary shopping done. After getting used to Swiss cars, roads, shops, and houses everything seems oversized and stretched out. But this is not a difficult adjustment to make.

This week will hopefully be uneventful as well. Debbie leaves the US on Wednesday, and arrives here Thursday morning. Other than that it's the usual stuff - homework, cleaning, organizing, etc. Hopefully the dryer will not enter the conversation!

As always we hope that this letter comes at a time that is calm and healthy for you. Please drop us a line if you have the time and desire.

Leon, Heather, and Isabelle (and Debbie and Joram of course!)

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