Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Kidnapped by North Korea?

I meant to post this months ago: here is the best article I've read to date about David Sneddon, a former co-worker of mine who went missing in China in 2004. It's a long article, and you might start out thinking you won't possible read the whole thing, but you will. Because it's a heartbreaking and haunting story, and the outlandish theory it presents - that David ended up being kidnapped by North Korean agents - is one I happen to believe in. At the very least, I don't believe that his disappearance is as cut-and-dried as Chinese (and occasionally US) authorities have made it out to be.

Every time I hear about an American being detained in North Korea - Kenneth Bae, Matthew Miller, Merrill Newman, Jeffrey Fowle - I think of David. I saw the news last night that Jeffrey Fowle has been released. The headline said only that a "detained American" had been set free, and for a moment, before I clicked through, I thought it could be David. It wasn't. Not this time, at least.

David's family continues to make efforts to find out anything they can about his disappearance in China. Today, they were able to secure the support of the entire Utah congressional delegation in petitioning Secretary of State John Kerry to further the investigation into David's case.

I am heartened by this development and I hope it leads to more developments, and more answers. David, his family, and his friends deserve it.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Just like mama

Isn't good childcare just the best? And isn't it so hard to find? Arranging for someone to take care of Sterling was one of the major hurdles/considerations when I was deciding whether to go back to work, and then how heavy of a schedule to take on. I know I am lucky to have that flexibility, but it didn't make finding childcare any easier when it came time to go back to work.

Anyway, I am happy to report that I'm mostly pleased with how our childcare arrangements have turned out - we have a babysitter come to the house to tend Sterling while I go to work. About half the time, Sterling cries (ok, screams) when I leave and I just have to trust that the babysitter will be able to distract him out of it sooner rather than later. Those days, I feel really bad the whole bike ride to work and I sometimes wonder what I am doing there in that classroom when my baby is crying without his mama there to comfort him.

The other half of the time, I leave and he doesn't care (ok, he doesn't notice because I am able to sneak away). Those days, I feel a little better about the choice to go back to work, and it's as fulfilling as it should be.

Fortunately, the babysitter really does have good skills at calming Sterling down. She does light tidying up or laundry folding while she's at the house, and she takes out the trash when she leaves. I was especially gratified today after work when I came home and saw that they were outside watching the street sweeper growl up and down our lane. The babysitter said they heard it from inside and she took Sterling out so he could watch it do its work.

I almost got tears in my eyes, because you know what? That is exactly what I would have been doing with Sterling at that moment if I'd been home - watching the street sweeper with my son.

Part of finding good childcare is finding someone who will take care of your baby as well as you would, if you were there with him. I was so happy today to see that happening.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Seriously, have a look at my Mormon underwear

YOU GUYS. My church (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints) has just released a video/article explaining - and showing - the temple garment, aka Mormon underwear (or, ugh, "magic" underwear as it is so, so unfortunately called by outsiders sometimes). I cannot even believe this happened.

But I am so glad it did. Over the years, I always got FLAMES. ON THE SIDE OF MY FACE knowing that the only decent picture of the temple garment that ever got passed around on the internets was that awful one where the people's heads are cut out of the frame and the garments are wrinkled and ill-fitting and the whole thing is just sordid and disrespectful. Now you can see what the real thing looks like, with a bonus look at the robes we wear in the temple itself. Seriously!

It's a breath of fresh air. I'm sorry that, for outsiders, the garment can't be more exciting than what is essentially a stretchy undershirt and bike-style shorts (at least that's the kind I prefer), but there it is. My garments have flapped on drying lines in the breezes of America, Syria, Jordan, Egypt, and the UAE. Yes, they hold special significance for me as a reminder of covenants I have made, but they are also, on some level, underwear that I wear and wash and dry like anyone else.

Speaking of. I have actually been waiting for an opportunity to blog about this, but it seemed kind of weird. UNTIL NOW. Did you know you can have your garments custom-made? Well, you can. I just had it done. All you have to do is call customer service (check the web page where you would ordinarily order the garments) and talk to a nice lady in Utah and she will set you right up. I wish I had done this years ago. Because underwear that you wear every day should feel GOOD.

Friday, October 17, 2014

October 17th, outsourced

My friend Crystal on pregnancy and infant loss remembrance day.

I loved the NYT's look at what kids around the world eat for breakfast...and also this follow-up: What's Really For Breakfast? (Sometimes it's donuts and strawberries.)

What it's like to carry your Nobel Prize through airport security (in Fargo, ND, no less!).

A 12-year-old girl called out the CEO of Dick's Sporting Goods about the complete lack of female representation in their catalog.

Baby boy names in Utah. Awesome. [HT Aimee and Suzanne]

Ohhh I loved this: nine expats you'll meet abroad. So true. [HT Jill]

Bike like a pro, eat like a pig. When Jeremy is in the middle of his super-intense training, he gets like this. I remember one day in Germany he came back from an 8-hour run and even the next morning, he was STILL hungry. I was eating peanut butter on a spoon after church and he came in the kitchen, took the spoon out of my hand, and ate it right in front of me. It was like he didn't even know what he was doing. His brain saw CALORIES and had to eat.

North Face put together a pretty cool stunt in Korea - disappearing floors that required shoppers to start climbing the wall, or else! [HT Ariana]

Why do books come out in hardback before paperback?

Thursday, October 16, 2014

I give in to Books

I have given up against Books. When we moved here and culled our possessions down to the few and the proud, I had thought that we wouldn't ever acquire so many books again. And we held out for a while. But the truth is that we don't have a good library for children here (aside from the one at the girls' school). We go on library binges during our summers away, but it is so important to me that the girls have plenty of reading material year-round. And that means buying books. There, I said it. My name is Bridget, and even though we live overseas and place value on our possessions relative to their weight, I WILL BUY BOOKS. (For my kids.)

Fortunately, I reached this realization right around the time that the girls came home with their school book order pamphlet. After I got over the massive wave of nostalgia I got just from looking at the thing, we dove right in. The girls circled their choices, and then I went through and filled out the order form with what I was actually willing to buy. This was more complicated than it was for me back in elementary school, since the book order had prices in pounds and Euro, and the order form had them in dirhams with a calculated surcharge. (Books are expensive here. Sigh.) Still, I was grateful for the framework of the school book order pamphlet, because it allowed each girl to show me her tastes and preferences, odd as they sometimes were. The books the girls chose for themselves were not necessarily the ones I would have chosen for them, is what I mean.

Before I sent the completed order form in, I checked all our selections against The Book Depository. You lucky Americans with your Amazon.com have no need of such a thing, but for us expats, The Book Depository is wonderful: really good selection, decent prices, and free shipping to all kinds of weird places, including the UAE! Be still, my heart.

About half of the girls' books were cheaper on The Book Depository. The other half will go through the school order. Regardless, our family has a few boxes full of books to look forward to in a few weeks!


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