One of the most ironic things in my life for the last 6 years has been my degree in European Studies.  Why? Because I had never been to Europe.

I guess I can’t make that joke anymore because we just spent the most amazing week in Italy. Ronnie even surprised me with the plane tickets as a sort of 5 year anniversary present. Best present ever.

If you know anything about my life growing up, you’ll know that I was homeschooled and that everywhere we went, there was a lesson to be learned.  I had  been to more historical sites, State parks, National parks, etc by the time I was ten that…well that it’s hard to stay interested. Let’s just say that history was is my least favorite subject. There are millions of dates and people and places and events that I should have memorized, but I don’t.  That being said, I was a bit ashamed when we went to Rome and more than once I said, “Oh! I didn’t know that was here too!”

I stand by my statement that I went to Rome to eat good food and drink good wine. However, there were some other interesting things as well. Rather than bore you with any historical details (that I don’t know), here are some photos.

Our airbnb was an adorable “loft” with a kitchen. We cooked several meals there because there was a Carrefour a few blocks away with amazing Italian ingredients.  It was a bit far away from things, but it was nice to see what an actual Roman neighborhood looked like instead of all the touristy stuff.

My mother asked me what my favorite part was…besides the food (she knows me too well). I didn’t really know what to say, but now that I’ve thought about it, I think it was going to see the Symphony.  There’s not much I like more than sitting and listening to live, professional, classical music. I’d say it gives me goosebumps (which is true), but it’s much more than just goosebumps.  And it’s weird because it’s a completely different feeling than being in the symphony playing the music. Enough sappiness. It was excellent.

The pasta making class was also super fun and educational. The problem is that it was the night before we were leaving so when they had all these suggestions for where and what to eat, it was a bit disappointing. However, we had plenty of good food thanks to Facebook and Pinterest.

We didn’t get to many things that we would have liked to see, but according to legend, if you throw coins in the Trevi Fountain, you’ll be back.  I wonder if it matters that we threw in Egyptian pounds…

I know the last two blog posts that we’ve written sounded like we were depressed being in Egypt. But it isn’t really all that bad and I think we were both pleasantly surprised at how we were relieved to come back to something familiar.




I have to squeeze in the traditional annual review before January is over. Our 2015 theme was adventure and opportunity.  As I look back on my posts from last year, I realize how much happier we are.  We hadn’t even dreamed of living out of the country last January and in February I was looking into getting a masters degree of some sort, possibly in TESOL. It was a relief to have a reliable and consistent source of income from my job at Lewis and Clark Elementary, but teaching there was stressful and not enjoyable. Not only was the job hard, the whole state was upset with teaching, resulting in the walkout.

I was part of an after school club that empowers girls to be confident and teaches them the importance of living a balanced life. This was probably a highlight of my year teaching at Lewis and Clark, getting to know more of the students and inspire them with physical exercise.

On top of finishing off a stressful school year, there was more stress with finding another job. A phone conversation with an acquaintance who works in Spain convinced us that teaching out of the country is doable.  It sounded crazy and impossible, but she was very reassuring.  So, I began to apply for jobs out of the country.  It all went very fast from there.  Within a week of finishing my application, I had people asking for interviews. My first interview in Kyrgyzstan offered me a job within a day. Not long after I had my interview in Egypt. People ask “Why Egypt?” and a very good answer would be that Egypt was more interesting than Kyrgyzstan.  So, my incredible husband and I have been here since August experiencing not just one, but several new cultures.  We’ve been slacking off on posting recently, but check back to pretty much any post since August if you missed out on those experiences.

Speaking of Ronnie, that brings to mind the musical side of our lives. The year started off with the Planets. Ronnie got to play a bass oboe and it was easily one of the biggest productions we’ve done.  Then for the final concert of the season, we played Beethoven 9. These were both amazing to participate in.  Other shows included Cats, Guns of Ireland, and the Music Man. In Egypt, we have both been involved in the Bibliotheca Alexandria Library Orchestra.  It’s a smaller group that is just starting up, but it has been a great experience so far.

We took a trip to Seattle to see the tulip fields during spring break and several overnight stays in Walla Walla. Plus there was a summer trip to Lake Chelan where we stayed in a friend’s house.  Our travels in Egypt have included the Pyramids, Hurghada and the Red Sea, as well as various sights in Alexandria.

We are sad to have left behind a wonderful community of friends in Washington, but it has been a invaluable experience living in Egypt.  There has only been one time (the second day) that I regretted this decision.  There’s nothing we can’t live without, but most importantly we’re both happy with what we’re doing.

We’re looking forward to more traveling and adventures in 2016! And for everyone who said this would be an amazing experience and wonderful opportunity?

You were right!



Music: A Supplement

Rule #1 for living in Egypt: “Expect nothing”.

That is, everyone else’s expectations can be sky-high, but you must resist the urge to form any expectations of your own.

(This is a continuation of the main Music post, so if you’ve happened to land on this one first, go read that.)

Now, before I start, let me say that we’ve met and befriended a large number of Egyptians recently, so I really don’t mean to offend anybody, but these are some of our experiences of being musicians in Egypt.

I consider myself very lucky to have found an orchestra to play with at all, so any complaints I have, I will continue to swallow and move on. But things can be very frustrating here. In an effort to not complain too much on Facebook, we’ve kept a lot of stuff to ourselves. You’ll have to forgive the negativity, and the disjointedness of this rant, which is basically a hastily compiled and un-bulleted list.

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Before moving to Egypt, approximately a hundred people asked us if we’d find a symphony to play with. Our research online suggested the answer was, “Um, pr-probably not?”. The “Cairo Symphony” has a website that looks like it was built in 1996 and then swiftly abandoned, and I’m not sure why an opera house would want us. (To be fair, it appears that the Cairo Symphony actually is a thing, but their website could use an overhaul.) There was no hint that there existed an orchestra anywhere else in Egypt.

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What a ride!

Life has been crazy busy.  I started writing a blog over spring break, but I never finished.  So here’s just a short update on what’s been happening.

Spring break we took a short little trip to Seattle.  We went shopping, visited some of our favorite shops, saw some relatives, and visited the tulip fields in Mount Vernon.  Pictures are on Facebook.

At school, we’ve been spending time on our end of year testing, and more recently preparing for field trips and end of year celebrations.

I am also a coach for Girl’s on the Run, an after school program meant to equip girls with personal empowerment strategies.  It has been fun to get to know some of the other kids at school and get outside to exercise with them.  It has also given me ideas for my own classroom instruction.  The season ends with a 5k that all the girls participate in.

Ronnie and I both played for the Mid Columbia Musical Theater’s production of Cats.  It was quite an experience as the pit was back stage and we couldn’t see any of the show….not to mention the people dressed up as cats, dancing around the stage singing nonsense words.

This week, Ronnie is playing for another production called Guns of Ireland.  It is a show written and composed by locals and performed by high schoolers.  I haven’t seen it at all but I’m looking forward to see what it’s all about next week. Today we had to go to Value Village to find him some “Irish” clothes to wear for opening night.   Maybe I can sneak a pictures of him…

Because I have a non-continuing contract at school, I’ve had to reapply for jobs next year.  So far I’ve had one interview and applied in three school districts.  It’s hard to be patient. but there’s not much else I can do at the moment.

I know it’s been a while and I feel like I should have a lot of things to say, but it’s a lot to process into an interesting, intelligible blog, so that’s it for now.  See you in June!

2014 Review

2014 started out with a lot of frustration. Our living situation wasn’t ideal and jobs and money were lacking.

Now, as the year ends, I can only think about all of the blessings and support we have received from all sorts of people.

Henry joined our animal hoard in March.  Due to our the previously listed situations, I was not convinced that getting a dog was a great idea, but we have absolutely loved having him. He’s adorable and funny and tiny. He likes to play with big dogs, loves going on rides in the car, hates water, and is like an annoying little brother to the cats.

As for the music side of our lives, we were both thrilled to be a part of Mid-Columbia Musical Theater’s production of Les Miserables.  Aside from the regular symphony season, we did three shows with MCMT, West Side story for a high school, and the Nutcracker.  We also played with the Washington Idaho Symphony for their summer concert in Moscow, ID.  Mahler 5 with 8 horns definitely a highlight for me.

After a few months of waiting, my teaching career finally took off.  My certificate showed up in March and I subbed until the end of school in June.  I was very excited to get started and really wanted to quit my job at the hospital, but then I thought about what I would do in the summer and realized that it probably wasn’t a good idea quite yet.  Early in August, I got a message from Sylvan, a local tutoring center.  I had turned in an application 8 months earlier and they needed teachers.  Finally, after three and a half years, I said goodbye to Kadlec Regional Medical Center and customer service jobs. After they trained me as a tutor, I got hired as a 4th and 5th grade teacher.  I’m sure you will hear plenty in the future about that.  That’s pretty much my portion of the year…besides the two foolish self inflicted injuries.

In April we moved into a duplex in Richland that happens to be right around the corner from my school so my commute consists of bundling up (for now) for a three minute walk which leaves the car available for Ronnie.  We spent our summer doing housework and gardening.  The floors were replaced by the owner, but we cleaned out the front garden, painted four different rooms, made a garden, as well as many other miscellaneous projects.

As for traveling, we took one trip across the mountains and managed to fit everything in.  Of course we would have loved to take more trips…perhaps in 2015.

Ronnie also had an exciting year.  His symphony involvement increased quite a bit.  Something I don’t believe that I’ve blogged about is that he was a driving force in getting a youth symphony started.  From getting the approval from the board, to holding auditions, to being the contact in town, he’s been involved in every step.  The first rehearsals are set to start this month.  While he’s not one to show many emotions, I believe he’s pretty excited to see this succeed.  He also started teaching private clarinet and oboe lessons.  Other miscellaneous things he’s done are work at a local bakery and house/pet sit.

So far in 2015, we went to the park to run with a group of people to start off the new year right!  It was a total of 23 degrees, but Henry, Ronnie, and I all bundled up and took a stab at a 5k.

We’ve been having fun with my family over break, but I think I’ll save that for a different post.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!


(I thought this picture was pretty good for wrangling three animals and getting a timer set up)

Check out my instagram. I’m still working on my 100 days.

Platinum season

It’s been a while but I’m still alive and kicking! In fact, last week was the first week I didn’t set foot in the school over the weekend. I made it through parent conferences and the holidays are rapidly approaching! But I’m not here to talk about school, I’m here to talk about the first concert of the 70th season for the Mid-Columbia Symphony. Our first concert this year was Halloween themed. We played a lot of scary music, and hosted a phenomenal piano soloist and guest conductor.
Before one of the rehearsals, I hosted a horn sectional at our house. We practice our instruments on occasion and don’t feel too bad about the noise, but three horns make quite a bit more noise than just one (Ronnie wisely abandoned ship before we even started). If you’ve ever been to a sectional, you know that things get repeated over and over. The fourth (or fiftieth) time through Tam O’Shanter’s fast triplet melody, Henry got jealous of all the noise we were making and pulled out his snake to squeak along with us. I know I appreciated the comic relief.
I can’t guarantee that I’ll be back any time soon, but maybe during the holidays I’ll find time to blog. ‘Tis the season for winter music. The fall musical opens this weekend, then right after Thanksgiving rehearsals for the Messiah and Nutcracker start.