Much has happened in the last month. Life has been so crazy-busy with the move, test, holidays, home leave, etc. I passed by Chinese test (yay!), but my score was not as high as I had hoped for (boo!). I knew going in that, politically, refresher students are not given 3, 3 scores. There is a pilot program that requires 2 years of intensive language instruction (including 1 year of study done in-country) that is meant to get people to the 3, 3 level. The thought is that if people are coming through the refresher course and getting 3, 3's then that takes away the incentive to fund the 2-year program (which, incidentally, I am in favor of). I find this to be rather silly logic since many refresher students have spent far more than 2 years actually studying the language albeit at different points in their lives. I just find it frustrating that I was assessed at a 2+, 2+ even though I only made 2 (very minor) grammar mistakes.* Anyway, I've since made my peace and decided to keep studying in order to try again next year for that 3, 3.
I thought after class I'd have time for a little breather, but we went right into PCS and holiday mode so that went out the window. Immediately following my test we left for NY to see my MIL and BIL one last time. Husband and I also caught the Bills-Greenbay game, which we won. I'll repeat that in case you feel you didn't read it right. THE.BILLS.WON!! It was amazing! I've never been at a game in person where we actually won. Much less over a team like Greenbay. Such a great feeling! Of course it meant that my fantasy team got booted (Aaron Rogers was my fantasy qb *le sigh*), but I'll take it! Then we picked up C from her boarding school on our way back to VA for a few days of out processing/consultations/wrap-up.
On Dec 20th we all boarded a plane taking us away from the East Coast for the next few years (well, except for C, that is) on our way to Albuquerque and home leave. My younger sister and her family were already in town from the Netherlands with their brood, and my older sister and her family flew in from California a few days later making it the first holiday season in 3 years that we've gotten the whole family together. With 8 little ones underfoot, it was a very messy, very joyous holiday. On the 26th family from my father's side flew in from all over the world to join us for the first ever de-I family reunion (my mother's side does a reunion once every three years now). It was pretty amazing. I met a cousin I knew existed but had never met before, as well as some cousins-to-be (my uncle is getting married tomorrow to his long-time girlfriend). After my grandmother passed away in 2003 we really stopped having family get togethers, so many of my father's relatives had never met my or my sister's children since we're so often abroad. It was a wonderful event that my parents and cousins put a lot of work into, and I think it was enjoyed by all. Best of all my Uncle D continued a long-time de-I family tradition by teaching the next generation how to play Blackjack. When I was little my great Uncle Shelly (who now lives in Vegas, natch) taught us all to gamble using raisins and gilt. Some of my fondest memories are of gambling away all my chocolate in a desperate attempt to beat the bank. :)
Almost immediately afterward we took our kids on an 11-day road trip throughout the Southwest. We covered an amazing amount of ground (about 1,200 miles by our count) and 4 States, not to mention the vast amount of National Parks and Monuments. It was an epic trip that deserves its own post (maybe multiple). We're back in Albuquerque for a couple of days before C heads back to school tomorrow, and we head off for Portland for the second half of our home leave, so I'll try to post as much as possible in this short time. Otherwise it might have to wait until we get to Hong Kong!
*This was the only feedback I received after my exam other than I have a strong foreigners accent, which is not supposed to be part of the consideration because, well, I am a foreigner.