Sunday, January 31, 2010

Take or Toss?

It's Sunday and the kids are cleaning their rooms. My husband is cleaning toilets...yes!!...and I'm getting ready to vacuum.

It's easy to clean, (not fun, but easy enough) but not so easy to organize and de-clutter. How can we get rid of more things? If we do head off into the sunset with the Foreign Service, where do we put all the stuff? I know there are lists about what to pack that we can utilize once we need to. But, still, how do I continue to save things that are important? Or maybe they really aren't important. Maybe my view of what's important is wrong.

I save kid's artwork. The good stuff, anyway. I get rid of worksheets. I save report cards. I love books. My kids love books. I have too many shampoos and face creams. My kids have lots of legos. I mean big time. I have framed artwork hung up that I like. I have lots of my own art supplies. Paints, canvases, brushes. We have bikes, scooters, soccer balls and basketballs. We have a bird feeder, birdbath and a grill. I have a clock from 1800 that was my grandfather's. I don't think I'd trust movers with it, but I love it.

It seems there should be some sort of criteria to meet in order for the stuff to be granted "Take" or "Toss" status. Or "Store", "Take" or "Toss".

Maybe a flow chart. For example, If you answered yes to question A, then proceed to question B. If the answer to B is always or sometimes, the item falls into "Take" category. Hmm

And that's not even getting into the whole weight thing. Who knows how much all our stuff weighs?

Friday, January 29, 2010

Treadmill annoyance

A friend called this morning to chat. Which should be a nice thing.

But she was on the treadmill, huffing and puffing. "Hi......huff, are......huh, huff.....things going?"

It's great that she's exercising. Really. Good for her. But it's a little annoying. I'm sitting around in my pj's still, drinking my coffee, checking email and she's huffing away in my ear. As she was talking, I realized how slowly a person can actually get a thought out while exercising. It took her ages to tell me about her kids having a half-day of school today and some wedding she's going to with her sister and why the spouses aren't going. I wanted to say, "Get off the freaking treadmill and tell me what you need to tell me, I've got things to do." Like sit around drinking coffee. ??  I also felt like she was talking to me as just something for her to do to pass the time on the treadmill. Again, good for her.

Toward the end of the conversation she asked me, "So ...... huff, puff .......have you...... heard anything ........hufff ......more ............. about the .......Foreign Service?" When I told her no, that we are still waiting, she said, "Really........huff, huff........they didn't tell you.........huff........... anything? You mean .......... huff, huff .......... you don't know............  anything more?" That would be correct Forrest Gump.

Am I just a total bitch, or what?

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Friends, not neighbors

C, B and S

I have three children.  My daughter, I'll call her "C", is 5 and in Kindergarten. My oldest son, "B", is 9 and in 4th grade. My younger son, "S", is 7 and in 2nd grade.  They are neat kids. They are interesting. I like them, I mean as people, if they weren't my kids, I'd still like them. But I'd still be relieved when they went to bed at night. They do have a lot of energy.

My husband and I have been very open with the kids about the Foreign Service and what it could mean to them. The kids know that we may be moving, or we may not. They know that "Dada" may have a job that allows us to live in different countries. Or he may not. They have benefited from talking through a range of feelings regarding a possible life change. The 9 year old B was gung-ho from the beginning. He is ready for adventure. He likes collecting coins and stamps, and I think he's hoping to add to his collections. The 7 year old S is open to the move, but says he'll miss his buddies. He makes friends easily and is a good friend to others. Plus he's very funny. So I don't think he'll have a hard time. Of any, my  concern was my 5 year old daughter C. We have neighbor girls who are her best friends. They ride the bus together every day, they are in the same Kindergarten class and they play together when not in school. She loves them. C's the one who said, "I do NOT want to move!" She likes what she knows. We have been reassuring her. We want her to know that it will be okay, no matter what happens. We will all be together, as a family. And we will be okay.

Today the neighbor girls were saying to C, "We will miss you if you move away. We don't want you to move." And C said, "Don't worry, if I move to another country, we'll still be friends, just not neighbors." I'd say that's progress. C is actually very outgoing and talkative and I have no doubts that she will be just fine.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Long shot? Maybe not.

My husband was notified at the beginning of last year (2009) that the newspaper where he was an editor was offering a difficult choice. Choose either 1. pay-cut (for the second time) 2. buy-out (full years' salary plus health insurance). After much hemming and hawing, he chose to leave the newspaper business, which has slowly but surely been declining, everywhere. I love newspapers, I believe in newspapers, they help keep voters informed, they keep people honest. But the business model just isn't worked out yet. I think newspapers believed that computers would go away, it was just a fad. How's that plan workin' out for ya, newspapers?
Not so good.

Our idea was for my husband to go from newspaper writing and editing into PR or something similar. Leave the biz while he's still young enough to build a career elsewhere. It was a ballsy move. Especially since we have three kids and his was our sole income. I am an art teacher, but have been home raising kids for the past 9 years. I started subbing and looking for a full-time art teaching position. He also signed up for the Foreign Service Written Exam.

Last June (2009) my husband took the FS Written test. At that time, we told our parents that we were pursuing this crazy idea...the Foreign Service. But it probably wouldn't work out anyway, so no worries. Then he passed. So we told our parents that he was doing some essays and it probably wouldn't work out anyway...then we said he was doing a day-long oral assessment, and it was very competitive...yadda, yadda. But he kept passing to the next level. Now, they realize that this is very probably going to happen. The medical clearances have been granted. It has been 8 months since the written test and we are waiting for him to be placed on the register.

Now our parents are asking questions like, "So, do you really want to do this? How do you think the kids will handle it? Are you going to somewhere good? Won't you be isolated?" I know they are concerned. So are we. We are not entering into this lightly. Trust me. We believe that this job, this life, will enrich all of our lives. I want my children to always remember that they are Americans, and I believe America is a wonderful country, but they also belong to the world. I want them to have the knowledge that we don't all live in a bubble. I want them to see all the possibilities out there. I want them to be compassionate children.

Is that naive? Yeah. It is. I know.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Two Weeks

The target completion date for the security clearance was yesterday, yes, Sunday. So today we got the message, after I hounded my husband to email the State Dept, that, "thank you, try again in two weeks."

So, back to being good and waiting. The thing is, we are so boring and never really go anywhere, so I'm sure it will be just fine. Knock wood. Seriously, married ten years, own a home, most crazy travel in ten years is to Canada. We are squeaky clean. We've been home raising kids. Who has time or money for exotic travel? Especially with careers in journalism and teaching.

Anyway, the wait continues.

Friday, January 22, 2010


We are waiting to hear something about the FS. I am not the most patient person. We are waiting to hear, "you are now on the register". That would be nice to hear.

It is difficult to know that life will totally change but not know exactly how or when.

Thursday, January 21, 2010


Our realtor came to the house today to give us a ballpark of a sale price. She said to declutter and make it look like we don't have 3 kids and a dog and a cat. Hmm, that'll be a challenge. We do have 3 kids, a dog and a cat, along with lots of toys.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Delving in

Here I am. Blogging for the first time. This is new. Putting it all out there.

A little introduction here. I am the wife of a man who is most of the way through the process of becoming a Foreign Service Officer. He has had a career in journalism and is making the change now, at the age of 37. We have three kids and a dog and a cat. We live in a large, comfortable house in Upstate NY and are going to "sell the farm" and take our lives overseas.
It's scary and exciting.

I just took a bunch of stuff to goodwill because the real estate agent is coming tomorrow.