Friday, February 26, 2010

Doggie update

Veterinarian update:
After a thorough rub-down/massage/evaluation, it looks like the dog has sore muscles from jumping into and out of the snow fort about 20 times yesterday. $129.00.

Being chicken

I posted something yesterday and then I chickened out, thinking I'd be judged. But I'm putting it back. Sorry to "anonymous", I think your comment got deleted when I did that.

Another snow day today. Off to the vet, with three kids in tow. Poor doggie is limping. Say good-bye to $250.

Snow day and selfish

It's a snow day today. The first snow day this winter. Yes, and we've had 90 inches this winter. So the snow plows and road crews know what they are doing. But today, we have a day to enjoy being home together. My husband even has the day home...rare, indeed! We've got the three kids of our own plus a buddy of my 7 yr old son's. We were all out playing and building a massive snow fort in the backyard, made with recycling bin-packed snow. Pretty cool. Maybe I'll try to snap a pic. (And here you go.)

I've got to start lunch for the crew soon. Maybe left over soup. I made a delicious soup last night. I love soup and crusty bread, especially in the winter. The soup is curried roast butternut squash with coconut milk and ginger. If that doesn't sound good to you, there's something not right with your taste buds.

It's pretty cool that I have gotten a few comments on this blog of mine. I got an interesting comment regarding homeschooling. The comment was referring to a post I wrote about freaking out that my kids wouldn't be able to get through high school with this FS life. At least not traditional high school. I wrote that (essentially) I couldn't imagine sending my kids off to boarding school, sending my husband off to Iraq or homeschooling my kids.
The comment reads:
"In my opinion, homeschooling isn't that scary of an option. Your kids won't turn into booger-eating weirdos, just weirdos (I was homeschooled for 8 years, and I don't eat my boogers). Seems like most people have strange perceptions of what it involves and who does it. I just know that personally I felt like it was the best education I ever got and also allowed me to develop a better relationship with my mother."

That's funny. The boogers part. I'm 38 and booger comments still make me laugh.

I appreciate the comment. I appreciate the sentiment. I have great respect for homeschoolers. I mean it. And I would and could homeschool if necessary. The thing is, I don't want to. I don't want to *have* to. Maybe I'm selfish. Is it selfish to want a career, activities and interests of my own? Am I selfish because it doesn't really thrill me, intellectually speaking, to do the laundry, cooking (other than that rockin' soup!), cleaning and managing of the household? Is it selfish that I don't want to teach the three kids full-time on top of everything else?

Don't get me wrong.
I love my children and husband. I have been home for nine years taking care of the family. And I wouldn't trade it for anything. It was my choice. I decided this was what I wanted to do. But now, my daughter (the youngest of the three kiddos) is 5 and in kindergarten for half the day. I am enjoying the longer stretches of quiet, of having solitude and time to be me, alone. Ah, just me and the laundry. sigh.

Before having kids I was a teacher. An art teacher. But the teaching part was more to pay the bills. To be honest, I didn't *love* teaching kids in the public schools. All that constant challenging of my authority was exhausting. It was more management of kids and less art. I've taught adults too, and that's fun. But my love is art. Making art. Seeing art. Talking to people about art. But mostly making art. I have undergrad and graduate fine art degrees. I'm good at art. I used to be anyway.

I know women aren't supposed to say this, but, I'm looking forward to having something besides my family to keep me busy. I'll homeschool if I have to. But I really would rather be an artist, and maybe even an art teacher, just not teaching all the subjects, all the time. Is that selfish?

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Snowing, again.


Dude. I know you have had snow in DC. I get it. Oooh, big snow. Snowmageddon, snowpocalypse. Well, I live where there is snow for at least six months a year. Not just inches. Feet. Yards. Meters for you international folks out there. I'm thinking here, snow in November? (yup), December (yup), January (yup), February (yup), March (yup), April (yup, sometimes even big storms on April Fools Day).

Last night it snowed big huge flakes. We call them Lake Effect Snow. Wayne Mahar, the meteorologist on the TV news calls them (infuriatingly) "Lake-feck", as in "Well, we have more Lakefeck snow expected." So I shovel and I shovel and today I shoveled some more. And now it's snowing again.

As an aside, I need I new swimsuit this year. Do you know exactly how pale my anglo-saxon legs are after being under-cover with all this Lake-feck? Lets just say, imagine you froze some chicken breasts, then thawed them, then microwaved them. Yeah, that color. My legs are the color of microwaved chicken. Lovely picture, isn't it? Now, who wouldn't be excited to go swimsuit shopping for a Lake-feck suit? Maybe the color of, say, barbecue sauce or ketchup.
Friggin' Upstate NY!

Monday, February 22, 2010


This blog I started is my first time ever blogging. 

I'm not sure what I was hoping to accomplish but I am enjoying it. The strange thing is that this isn't for my family and friends. In fact, they don't know anything about this. If I do let them know about it I will have to edit out some stuff. For instance, I can't write about how lousy it felt when my Dad told me I could go move away but to leave my kids here. That's nice, very supportive. 

It's been fun making new connections. Foreign Service people connections. People who know what I'm talking about. It's nice not having to explain too much. You get it. Even if you don't know me. And that's kind of nice. 

Friday, February 19, 2010

The freak-out.

This is the "freak-out" post. Just warning you.

Along with the A-100 board, I also check the Livelines board and the FS-Parent group. They all give many practical tips and real advice from people who have been there and done that. Very helpful and reassuring. Usually. But just recently there have been some messages going around that are not reassuring. Not at all.

Specifically, one writer was concerned that her son would need to move to a new high school for just his senior year and that some schools don't allow you to transfer in for just your senior year. The advice on how best to handle that situation is what scared me. It seems this is a common problem, how to get your kids through high school while in the FS, with postings lasting just 2-3 years in each location, at most. Suggestions included sending the child off to boarding school, home-schooling for the final year, having the Foreign Service Officer volunteer to go to Iraq or Afghanistan to extend the family's stay in the current post, asking a friend or acquaintance at post to take your child for the final year of high school while everyone else in the family goes to the next post. Really!? The best advice is to leave your child behind? The best advice is to send your child away? Would it be a great senior year for a child to have Dad go to Iraq, because Iraq is so safe and reassuring? And if that is one of the better suggestions...< shudder >. Some suggest timing things just right so that the child can have the final three years in one school. I'm not sure how we would do that. Our kids are all 2 years apart. Granted, we have some time to be concerned about high school, as they are only 5, 7 and 9 now, but still! And this is the life I am hoping to get into. A life where everything is harder, everything requires research and extra paperwork. Where sending my child or children away could really be an option?

After reading a few messages last night, I said to my husband, "It's only going to get harder, isn't it?" He looked at me, puzzled. I clarified, "Everything is pretty easy now. We don't have to do much, we don't have to work too hard to be happy."

Usually a person sees a storm brewing and steers away from it. I fear we are sailing on calm waters and are aiming this ship straight into the storm.

It sounded a lot better when I was using the merry-go-round/roller coaster analogy.

So yeah, this is the freak-out post, but I can't promise it is "THE" freak-out post. This will not conclude the freaking-out. I'm sure there will be more freak-outs to come.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

I heart Regal Cinemas.

Things to be thankful for in the U.S., installment #2.

My kids are on vacation this week. So I am thankful for large, clean movie theaters with plush stadium seating playing Oscar-worthy films such as Alvin and the Chipmunks, the Squeakquel. Oh, and Taco Bell. Good times today.

Thanks for the suggestions about the A-100 Yahoo boards. Yes, we are checking out the A-100 forums which only make me more nervous as people keep entering with better rankings than ours. (Okay, his.)

My husband is working on the German though and has made arrangements to meet up with some German woman. Weekly. Am I nervous? Jealous of the frau, Helga? Oh, hell, nein!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

I heart Wegmans.

It's true. I have a love affair with Danny Wegman.

Woah, Nelly! Let's back up a bit. Where's this coming from?

In my previous post I was whining about waiting for the FS and not knowing where my family would be in a year. I got a nice comment from Crystal (living in Kuwait) saying, "Enjoy the states as much as you can. I miss the U.S. now, especially the ability to get anything anytime of the day or night."

Well, have you heard of Wegmans? It is the best grocery store! And it started here in upstate NY. My friend who lives in London even asks to visit Wegmans as her first stop when she's here. They have nice produce, a great whole foods section, a bakery, flower shop, pharmacy, restaurant and more. All open 24 hours. And they give my kids a cookie every time we visit. Free. And they have a coffee shop and little holders that can attach the coffee to your cart as you shop, so you don't end up with coffee all over yourself while you're bagging up the Swiss chard.

So in the spirit of being thankful, there you have it. I heart Wegmans. In fact, I think I'll go today, maybe even right now...wanna come along? You'll love it too.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Waiting and the Declaration of Independence

Feeling a writers block of sorts. I am waiting. Waiting on the FS. That's a pretty boring thing for anyone to read about. Heck, I bore myself thinking about it. The next A-100 class is in May and we're sure that we won't be attending. Will it work out for June? Or will we continue to wait? Or maybe it won't work our at all for the FS. The PD register has swelled all of a sudden. What the..??? Maybe this has all been an exercise in fruitless bureaucracy. Is there such a thing as fruitful bureaucracy? I need to remember that everything will work out. No matter what. My family is healthy and happy. But it would be nice to know if this Foreign Service thing will happen. grr.
If the FS isn't happening, I want to move somewhere warmer. Upstate NY is cold and gray. I need more sunshine. I think pretty much anywhere would have more sun.

In other news:
My 9 yr old son had to write his own Declaration of Independence for school. It was pretty neat to see him reading the text of the real thing on the computer. That is an amazing piece of writing. It was nice talking to him about it. We were discussing just how cool it was that the colonists broke away and said enough! This is not right and we are not having it anymore!

Here's some of the real thing:
"When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bonds which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed."...

B soaked a piece of paper in tea, my favorite Yorkshire tea, (he thought that was funny considering the British tax on tea) and tore the edges. Then he used a calligraphy pen while checking out the real thing on-line. He signed his name, along with the names of the real guys. 
He also made a flag with thirteen stars on it, out of legos.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Driving the bus

I had a dream that I was a substitute bus driver. I had two kids left in the bus and I couldn't find their houses. I was driving up and down narrow one-way streets with that huge yellow bus, looking for their houses. I knew I was late and getting later by the minute. I was sure the parents would have called the police, thinking the kids had gone missing. I was becoming more and more frantic. Then I woke up. Sweating.

Any interpretations?

Tuesday, February 9, 2010


So, the hubbie knows (knew?) some French (from high school), Japanese (3 years in college), and German (studied in Berlin). He is studying up on his German to take the phone test. German isn't a sound I've ever heard in our house. He's trying to speak German to the kids, the dog and me. He's listening to German on his commute to and from work. I'm not much help, I'm afraid. I took four years of Latin and learned Spanish while I was an exchange student in Chile during high school.

The kids will ask, "Dada, how do you say... (insert word or phrase) German?" Then  he will tell them and they will attempt to repeat it. I can't help it, I crack up. I keep thinking of The Friends episode where Phoebe tries to teach Joey French for an audition. Here it is. I laughed just watching the clip when I attached the link: Enjoy. Classic.

Monday, February 8, 2010

0-72 in one hour

I feel terrible.

My nose is stuffy then moments later, runny. I am sneezy. Aching. Tired. My eyes are hot and watery. I am going through 72 tissues per hour. I sound like I am under water. Everyone else sounds like the parents in Charlie Brown, Waaht, waah, waaht waaht wat waah. I've got a plain 'ole cold. Nothing worse than being the sick parent with a cold and three happy, healthy kids running around waiting for excitement and thrills.

My husband is at a night school board meeting, I mean school bored meeting. He gets home after bed time. These meetings are every two weeks. I shouldn't begrudge it, but every time he has a night meeting, my 5 yr old daughter cries, "I miss Dada." I'm helping get all the homework done, doing the laundry, the dishes, making dinner, playing games, breaking up wrestling matches, brushing teeth, kissing boo-boos, snuggling kids into bed nice and tight, reading bedtime stories and singing the nightly lullaby, all while feeling crappy and blowing my nose...and she misses him. ugh.

I'm gonna go to bed. Maybe I'll snuggle up with my box of Puffs Plus, (with lotion).

Friday, February 5, 2010

Globetrotting and rollercoasters

I went to the Harlem Globetrotters last night with the kids and hubbie. It was a cub scout activity. The game is really superfluous. The dancing, acrobatics and music are the main draw. The event could be half as long and I'd be happy. The guy getting his pants pulled down while preparing for a foul shot still makes the kids howl. Go figure.

My husband joined the register yesterday, awaiting a spot in an A-100 class. There is a chance we will become globetrotters as well. There was a time when I thought it was nuts to consider this life, this vagabond, nomadic existence for my family and me. I was nervous and still am. The unknown scared me. But now that it's a real possibility and there is also a chance that he could NOT get a spot, I realize that I really want this. I really do.

Maybe part of it has to do with today's activities. I helped out at the elementary school's winter olympics. I showed up in snow pants, warm boots, hat, ski mittens and a ski jacket. I was ready to get into it! There were way too many moms there who had on heels and no hat and cute little navy peacoats. They were happy to just stand around on the sidelines and chit-chat and gossip about...well, really about nothing. Who has a new house, what color they should paint the foyer, who's teacher said what, who is in what sport. I wasn't totally antisocial. I did chat and try to be friendly. But I gotta tell ya, I was so bored with their discussion, the thought of jabbing myself in the eye with a ski pole sounded more fun. One woman, who knows about the FS because she was interviewed by a Dip Security agent about us for the clearance, asked me about the FS and why in the world I would want to do that. Move? All of a sudden I had a flash-forward vision of my life and my kid's lives boiled down into this petty, insular, inane existence. And it scared me.

I used to be fun and exciting. I was an exchange student in high school to Chile. I studied abroad in college. I took off after undergrad and drove across country, sleeping in a tent, with no real itinerary. I've travelled in Europe. I worked summers in Canada at a Quaker Camp.

But then I got comfortable. I have enjoyed the security of the planned neighborhood. The bike paths and community pool. The reassuring monotone earth pallette of approved house paint colors.

It reminds me of the movie Parenthood, with Steve Martin. Funny movie. The old grandmother is describing the rollercoaster of life, with all it's ups and downs, and says she has always liked the rollercoaster much more than the merry-go-round.

I'm ready for the adrenaline and thrill of the rollercoaster. And I'd rather get it from globetrotting in the Foreign Service than from a ski pole to the eye.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

On the register. Really.

I went outside to get the mail and it contained a letter from "The United States of America, State Department, Registrar's Office." No, of course I didn't open it. It wasn't addressed to me. But I did call my husband at work to tell him he got a letter. He said, "Open it, open it!" Just to be cruel, I said, "Naw, let's wait. I don't feel right about opening your mail." Knowing that I've been chomping at the bit, he laughed and said, "Very funny, now open it."

"...I am pleased to inform you that your name has been added to the register of those awaiting appointment to the Foreign Service..."

Yippee. That means we have cleared all the hurdles. (And by "we" I guess I mean "he") The written exam, the QEP essays, the oral assessment, the medical clearances, the top secret security clearance and the final suitability review. whew.

But, now, more waiting.

Because now we have to wait for "the call" to join a training class (called A-100). My husband has a decent score, but not out of the park. And although he speaks (or spoke) some German, Japanese and French, he hasn't taken the telephone language test because he thinks he's too rusty. Passing a language would bump up his score, which would raise his position on the register, which would mean a call sooner.

So, we'll wait.

I am hoping the hiring surge continues and that his score is sufficient to get us in.

I think I need to go to the gym now. This nervous energy has to be put to some good use. It's either clean or exercise...and...exercise it is!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010


I don't usually read the horror-scope in the paper. But I was reading the comics and noticed that my husband's said this:
"You will get a favorable response from the people who can make a difference to your future."

Then I read mine and it said:
"Go take a shower and stop obsessing about the FS, you lazy-ass."

Pretty dead-on, I'd say.

Monday, February 1, 2010


My dog has a weakness for plastic toys. He has eaten action figures left on the floor. Good-bye, Batman! He has eaten pens, he has chewed on markers and rulers. He likes beach toys.

He's a great dog, gentle and kind with the kids. He's well trained and doesn't even bark. But he has an addiction to plastic. So we put away the plastic when he leave him alone. And he's fine. At least he was fine.

Twice now, he has eaten the toilet paper from the bathroom. The entire roll. Tube and all. And it was a new roll of tp. We came down in the morning and there were little scraps on the rug. He looks up all innocent. Who, me? I would never....! Maybe it's his way of telling me he needs more fiber in his diet.