Thursday, January 24, 2013

Abdoulaye's first snow!

When the temperatures dropped to below freezing earlier this week, I was hoping we'd at least have a little snow to show for it!  Sure enough, I crawled out of bed this morning and pulled back our blinds to swirling flurries and cars covered in white powder.  "Abdoulaye!" I squealed, "come look outside!"  He looked out the window and then we grabbed our coats so he could touch snow for the first time.  

"What do you think?" I asked.  "C'est magnifique" he said,"never as beautiful on t.v."  

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

happy tuesday!

Eagle kisses
Abdoulaye is off to another week of English classes and it's back to work for me!  I want to hold on to this past weekend.  Dinner parties with friends, paper-decorating, macaroon-making, zoo-visiting, and, of course, the Inauguration.  All topped off with a trip to the movies to see Les Misérables.  What were you up to this weekend? 
We've been married for one-month - a visit to our portrait place :)

Monday, January 21, 2013

our journey: presidential inauguration 2013

Big smiles are inversely proportional to the sensation in our feet.  
Three-day weekends are the best.  They mean sleeping in, lazy breakfasts and letter writing - my favorites!  While neither my sleeping schedule nor my morning noshing is worth writing about, this three-day weekend is one I'll never forget.  Not only does it mark my first attendance at a presidential inauguration - but Abdoulaye's as well!  He's been here less than two months and he already practically met the president :)  OK, so we didn't get that close.

Following our lazy breakfast this morning, we suited up and prepared as best we could for the cold (OK, it wasn't that cold), got on our bikes and headed downtown.  Following the Rock Creek Park trail, we joined families and other groups on two wheels headed toward the National Mall.  

Unsure which way to go once we arrived where I normally turn off the trail for work, I asked a police officer which way to head.  "Follow the crowds!" he said with a smile and gestured to his left.  Abdoulaye and I did just that and ended up at the Lincoln Memorial and, after locking up our bicyclettes, put our feet in the same spot where Martin Luther King Jr. put his on August 28, 1963 when he delivered his "I have a dream speech."  Pretty fitting for the momentousness of today's occasion.

After visiting the Lincoln Memorial, we trooped down the length of the reflecting pool and joined
the masses watching the swearing-in of President Barack Obama on giant screens spread throughout the lawn.  We made it next to the Washington Monument and settled in to watch despite the increasing loss of sensation in our feet (chalk it up to poor sock choice!).  

As we tried to listen to President Obama's speech (evaluation note: the acoustics were awful!), I got chills when we all whooped and hollered at the same excerpts (the ones we could hear at least :)  Looking around, there were families of all sizes, shapes, colors and orientations and I couldn't have been happier to be a part of it all as evidenced by my periodic squeals.  "Just remember my head and teeth are back here!" Abdoulaye said with a smile a couple times as I jumped up and down with him standing behind me.  

The gravity of it all hit me then as it hits me now while I'm typing this post in our Washington, DC apartment - this is a day we will never forget and something we will tell our children about.  The day we saw President Barack Obama sworn in for his second term as President of the United States of America.  Our journey together is just beginning but, like President Obama said, "we are made for this moment, and we will seize it – so long as we seize it together."

Since I couldn't actually hear the entire inaugural address live, I checked out the transcript of the speech when I got home and these are my favorite parts:

 "We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations."  (WRI will be especially happy about this!)

"Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law – for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well.  Our journey is not complete until we find a better way to welcome the striving, hopeful immigrants who still see America as a land of opportunity; until bright young students and engineers are enlisted in our workforce rather than expelled from our country."

Here are some more pictures from the day (and some from the National Zoo :)

Monday, January 14, 2013

here comes the sun

It's a gloomy Monday morning but I'm listening to Yuna's cover of Here Comes the Sun and I'm going to believe her.  With the news coming out of Mali - it's hard to imagine brighter days for a country that means so much to Abdoulaye and me (and so many others!!).  We're closely following the news and hoping swift military action is what is needed to stop the terror and praying it will get better soon.

I know it's going to be a great week despite the gloom outside because I woke up to a text this morning from USCIS letting me know Abdoulaye's green card application is in their hot little hands - let another immigration waiting game begin!  I feel much better about this waiting game since Abdoulaye is already here in the US to play it with me :)

After entering in all of our dates into the visajourney website (if you're looking for a site to help you along with the visa process - look no further!!), it spit out that Abdoulaye's employment authorization forms should be processed in mid-late March, which will allow him to work.  By then, he'll be 3/4 of the way done with his English classes at Language ETC and ready to take on the labor force!

My sister, Lindsay, and her boyfriend, Dan, came up this weekend for a friend's birthday and we reveled in the chance to hang out and visit around the apartment.  We're so blessed to have such treasures for family - looking forward to more visits already!!
I hope your week is off to a great start!  See more pictures from our DC gallivanting here :)

Friday, January 11, 2013

restaurants in review 1: hanoi house!

Image source
Last week Abdoulaye and I headed to the Hanoi House (on facebook here) on 14th and U street (2005 14th Street, NW) for our first dinner out of the year.  We're going to try and visit a different restaurant each week of the year - wish our bellies luck!

Hanoi House was a great place to kick off our adventure in culinary delights.   We shared the cha gio as an appetizer; "crispy pork and shrimp spring rolls with dipping fish sauce," and a chicken banh mi sandwich and a beef pho soup for dinner.   I had the chuoi chiechuoi chien dot ruou for dessert - banana fritters flambé with a caramel sauce - OH MY GOODNESS!!  It was incredible!

I loved meeting Abdoulaye here for dinner because the ambiance was engaging without being overwhelming, the music was spunky (think - 50s diner-type with some modern-remakes) and the food was delicious.  I'm also sensitive to noise and found the volume levels here to be just right - the music was present without dominating and Abdoulaye and I could carry on a conversation without having to shout - delightful!

Looking forward to our next culinary adventure already :)

Monday, January 7, 2013

weekend wonders

With Auggie, David & Cat at the USBG
This past weekend was a treasure.  We worked on Abdoulaye's green card application (to be sent today!), visited the United States Botanic Garden, saw the Hobbit at the Uptown theater and hung out with some great friends.  

Abdoulaye has been in the US now for just over a month and I am constantly amazed (and delighted) with his adaptation to life here.  Of course there are ups and downs and whenever anyone asks him if he misses Guinea he says he always will, but overall we're slowly making DC our home and excited about being here.

The weather is also being a tease - at times it feels like snow and others like we're on the verge of Spring.  Days are getting longer, too - no more leaving work when it's dark outside!

A Capitol love

Thursday, January 3, 2013

lovely lavender


To celebrate our marriage ceremony, Cassie sent Abdoulaye and me a lavender wreath and it's a slice of heaven in our apartment.  Lindsay and I were going to carry dried lavender bouquets but, in case you didn't know, dried lavender kind of dissolves everywhere if you hold it long enough and soon you're left with empty, dead branches so we abandoned the idea since that wasn't quite the effect I was going for.

But wreaths!  Perfect!  The wreath that Cassie ordered (find it here!) was the perfect centerpiece for our impromptu indoor ceremony and now I'm loving it as a daily reminder of our friendship and Abdoulaye's and my marriage.  It will also be a daily reminder to try and be a thoughtful friend like the ones I am surrounded by.   So lucky and thankful!

I love lavender!  Also makes me think of Jackie :)

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

WRI Week in Review

Image source
Moabi is the name of a tree species found in Central Africa and also the name of a soon-to-be-launched collaborative mapping system for spatial information.  Leo Bottrill, a Senior Program Officer at the World Wildlife Fund, came by WRI before the holiday to talk about his work with Moabi, some results they've achieved with the tool, challenges and opportunities and next steps for the mapping system.

He noted that there is a lack of coordination for collecting data and the situation on the ground is constantly changing, which makes it difficult to keep data up to date.  They're hoping to overcome challenges like slow internet connections and data-heavy pages by putting them onto sites that strip the data down to the bare minimum so it loads faster.

Every day my ears are going to school here at WRI as I learn more and more about the ways our environment is changing and how we monitor the situation.  I'm also curious to see how the use of smartphones, will impact the collection of data for GIS. I heard of the first African-designed smartphone during Leo's presentation.  Then, Abdoulaye shared a link to an article about it.  How cool!  They cost $170 and have no contract.  If you needed a no-contract phone, would you get this one?

Here are a few blurb-y thoughts on things going on in Central Africa.  I'd love to know what you think about them, too!

The situation in the Central African Republic is incredibly troubling and I am hoping for a speedy resolution as rebels advance toward the capital threatening a coup.  Both Gabon and Congo-Brazzaville sent 120 troops each to help thwart the rebel-advancement to the capital, Bangui - I wonder what is the significance of sending 120 soldiers?   Also, this article says France already has 600 troops in-country - that seems like a lot to me but maybe it's not?

I'll also be closely following the development of a new capital in Equatorial Guinea.  I'm curious to know what folks on the ground think of it - if they see it is an act of paranoia on behalf of their president or if they see the value in another capital city in the interior of the country even though the majority of the country's citizens live near the coast.

A new facilitator of the Congo Basin Forest Partnership was named and I met last week at an USAID-CARPE meeting!  Also, my Dad and step-mom got me Wangari Maathai's book The Challenge for Africa for Christmas and I'm loving it.  In the book, Maathai talks about her work with the Congo Basin Forest Partnership and her plight for the environment in Africa.  

What are you reading these days?  

2012 in review

Visiting the University of Mary Washington
Ringing in the New Year!
It's my first day back to work in 2013.  I've been rolling over in my head what I wanted to write to try and recap 2012 - it was a pretty life-changing year for my family.  With the coup in Mali, moving to Washington, DC, starting a new job and getting married - I hit a lot of life-changing bases!  I'm thankful to have shared in them with the people I did - family and friends who saw me through it all.  There were also a number of loved ones my family lost this year (Abdoulaye's nephew, Sheri's father, Abdoulaye's grandmother and father and a dear friend's father) and I'm also thankful to have had them in my lives.

As I look back, the times I remember most of this past year were experiences with family and dear friends.  This year, I'm looking forward to celebrating Abdoulaye's and my marriage with them in May and finishing my degree in International Education and all the little moments in between that truly make memories!

I think Abdoulaye and I started the year off right by having lunch with some college girlfriends in Fredericksburg, visiting my alma mater (the University of Mary Washington) and snuggling at home.  He's almost been in the US a whole month and I fall asleep each night thankful that he's here.

See more pictures from our end-of-year and new year festivities here

Here's a little link recap of 2012 :)

I visited Marija in Boston
I started my a degree in International Education at SIT
Cassie and Laura through us an engagement party in Bamako!
turned 26 :)
There was a coup d'etat in Mali (seems piddly to just have a line for this when the coup is so much more than a line in my blog)
I learned more about the African immigrant in America experience through Shola Ajayi
I met Abdoulaye's family in Guinea
Elaine and Noah got married!
I started working at WRI
Amanda & Ryan had a baby!
Cassie and I moved in together :)
Memaw visited DC
Kate and Tony got married!
Started volunteering with FLOC
Abdoulaye's visa got approved!
Abdoulaye and I got married!

What are you excited about in 2013??
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