Monday, May 31, 2010


My husband says every time I talk about the stupid, dumb-ass Foreign Service that it is with a negative tone. Why would he think that? Why, I ask?

So it got me to thinking. If I assigned a (+1) for every blog post I wrote that had positive vibes about the cool, hip FS and (-1) for every blog post about the life-stopping, time-stealing, eternity-of-waiting FS, what would the grand total be? Would I be above water or sinking like I'm wearing concrete boots?

I'm thinking the concrete boots on the floor of the lake would win.

Maybe I do always say negative things about the FS. But it's my blog and I can vent worries and concerns here. Anxieties. Angst...that German word again. People can relate.

But I can be positive. I would be happy if we got "the call." Really. I can say things that are nice about the FS.

Look. I'll show you. I'll prove my husband wrong.

Dear Foreign Service,
I'd like to join you. You sound very interesting. There's the travel. The challenging work for my husband. For me, the packing, unpacking, the to-do lists, the veterinary lists, school transfer papers, dealing with a car, total bureaucracy, giving up a yard and house, family, friends, lake, paths. 
Ok, ok, ok, wait. You have nice eyes. You are tall and handsome.
You have a strong grip. Like how you squeeze. And squeeze. And never call. Ever. No call. And then there was the pole dancing... and still, no call. Bitch. I hate you. 
Your friend,  

Ok, yeah, maybe he's right.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Classy lunch date.

My husband just took me out for lunch. We got Thai food from a restaurant that was next to a POLE DANCING fitness studio. Yes, stripper Did you know there was such a thing?!

Then we walked by the lovely Erie Canal. While we were sitting down, looking out at the water and the boats, a small trophy dog disembarked from a yacht and came over and lifted his leg on our bag of leftovers.


Panang curry to go.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Would 50 people please go DNC? Thanks.

When I was in college, I took a geology class with a goofy friend named Damien. He was a terrible student (really atrocious) and only lasted one year at the university. Anyway, the geology professor was old as dirt, or maybe limestone, and talked in a monotone. The class was in a small, dated auditorium/lecture hall.

So one day, the professor was listing numbers of something or other. I can't recall exactly what. Maybe dates, or melting temperatures or densities... who knows?

"75, 86, 22, 197, 45, 38, (all in monotone, mind you) 165, 11..."

All the students were dutifully taking notes while trying not to fall asleep when Damien STOOD UP! and shouted joyfully, "Bingo!"

It still makes me smile. He was a fun guy to party with. Not that great at the studying though.

I tell that story because the "calls" are going out for August A-100 right now. And numbers are on my mind. If only 50 people would go DNC. I have a feeling that's as likely as getting Bingo in a Geology class. 1, 2, 3, 55, 57, 62... ?!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Oh yeah, well I have a mirror...

Thank you for encouraging me to continue to blog.
I appreciate the reminder that I can write whatever I want.
And that the FS community understands where I'm coming from.
And that this process IS crazy.
And that I am entertaining.
And that without the blog to vent I may get nuttier than my mother-in-law's fruit cake. (She really does make fruit cake and pays a lot to ship that brick at Christmas.)
I made my husband take all three kids to soccer practice last night and I went to the mall. All alone. He asked if I was looking for anything in particular... I just glared at him and he cowered in fear. He sensed I was about to tell him I was looking for my ever-lovin' lost mind at Ann Taylor, I think. Tonight is German-Double-Dose. So, it was good to get out. I played with an ipad in the Apple store. I told the Apple "genius" that he had fabulous eyebrows and he grinned and said "Thank you, I work so hard at them." So, I think I made his week.

Here's a fun little random thing that happens in our house.
Almost daily, either during or after breakfast, my two boys have a kind-hearted (really!) discussion that starts something like this:

B (age 9) : (pointing at S's face) "Pfft, I just blasted your face."

S (age 7) : "No, you didn't because I had up a shield."

B: "No, my blaster can blast through shields."

S: "My shield is made of Titanium."

B: "My blaster is specially made for Titanium shields."

S: "Well, I blasted you at the same time and my blast destroyed your blast in mid-air and my blast was stronger and actually overpowered your blast and turned you to dust."

B: (holding up hand) "I had a mirror up, you just turned yourself to dust."

S: (Looks at me)

Me: (I'm making lunches and laughing to myself. ) "B, that isn't a mirror you have, it's duct tape."

B: "Ohhhhh! Well, I'm made of holograms, so I am not really where you think I am."

S: "Well, I have heat-seaking lasers that find life anywhere it hides."

B: "I am wearing a heat-hiding suit."

I have to say that each verbal exchange is met with, "Ooh, good one..."

Finally it ends with me saying, "Okay, go brush your teeth, I have breath-smelling lasers that can seek out stinky boys."

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

A break?

Well, I think I might need to stop blogging. My posts seem to be decom(post)ing.

There is one person who reads this blog and knows me in real, actual, life. She called me today from London, England to see if I'm ok. To see if I'm not actually shooting birds in my backyard. To make sure I'm not seeing Mary Poppins and the Rockettes or something. Or bathing in the birdbath. :-)

Hi J, love you, miss you!! You are the sweetest friend.

Anyway, I don't see much good coming from this. And I don't see these silly posts helping anybody really. Other than being rants to let some steam out of my pressure cooker brain.

ho, hum.

Shall I call it a day?

Nature girl v. nature

The PD register has 131 people on it. Apparently. (According to the dark and stormy Darth Vader "Shadow Register.") My husband's spot is halfway down the register. Bloody frickin' 'ell.

As I sit here, on the deck with my coffee in my Adirondack chair, my backyard is a lush paradise with woods, flowers, ferns, birds, frolicking wildlife...

Oh, look, there's Mary Poppins! The deer just started dancing like the Rockettes. Squirrels are hula-hooping. The beautiful gold finch birds are working together to pull a banner that reads... wait... what does that say?

It says, "You are frickin' nuts to leave this for the FS?!!"

Hold on, I'm getting my air soft pellet gun.* I'll show all this beautiful nature. Eff you. We are leaving, if we ever get "called"...  I am going to Oakwoody. That sounds very, VERY naturish.

He's been on the register for FOUR months. He can stay there for 14 more months before he expires. Of course there might not be any birds left in my backyard by that time.

*I do not have an air soft pellet gun. Only a shot gun. Kidding, kidding. 

Monday, May 24, 2010

Julia Child sings buttery lullabies in my ear.

I just returned the book My Life in France, by Julia Child, to the library. It is supposed to be a very good book. Especially for someone in my, ahem, situation.

But, I kept falling asleep to it. I got to page 36 in the 3 weeks I had it checked out.

I like reading. I like Julia Child. She makes me laugh. I like pretending I'm her and making her voice and saying, "You simply need to butter the duck."

Anyway. That book is my Ambien. Five minutes and Zzzzzz, book on chest. Drool on pillow.

I saw the DVD Julie and Julia. I enjoyed it. And I would probably get through the book My Life in France too, if I owned it. But I'm unwilling to "go overdue" at the library for Julia. I follow the rules of the library pretty strictly. Even though the overdue fine is only a quarter, or something small (I don't actually know how much the fine is) I returned the book. I tried to renew it but there were other people with holds on the book.  I hate paying late fines. The librarians give me that judgmental look, as if to say, "Tsk, tsk, and she looked like such a nice young woman... not the type to keep her library books overdue... shocking!"

I'll check it out again. I'm not giving up on you, Julia.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Herding cats

I chaperoned my second-grader's field trip to the zoo yesterday. It was a beautiful day. The temperature was 78 degrees and breezy. The sun was shining. And there were more than enough chaperones, since we have an over-achieving, hyper-involved group of parents.

I originally thought I would be in charge of a large group of boys. Seven-year-old S told me his class was divided up into animal groups for the field trip and he was an "Arabian sand cat." He said I would be in charge of all the Arabian sand cats. I pictured me, literally, herding cats.

But it turned out that I was only in charge of two boys. So I said, "You guys lead the way and I'll follow." It worked out great. Except for a few unexpected lessons from the lions.

7 yr old boys: "What are they doing?"

Me: "Um, uh, playing piggy-back. Let's move along... Oh, look, poison dart frogs!!"

I was NOT going to teach them anything about that topic!! Let their parents do that job.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Pouf and Mullet, the 70's Vampire Band.

"Hey, Mama, what would you do if you found out Dada was really a vampire?"

This was the question I got out of the blue as I was driving nine-year-old B yesterday evening.

I should tell you we don't do the vampire stuff in our house. At least not yet. I don't watch True Blood. We don't even have cable. We haven't read those vampire books, you know the ones, where the teen girl fawns over the boy and says she'll love him even if he bites her and wrecks her life. And they look at each other longingly, a lot. I can't think of the name... you know the ones.


I paused and asked B what it would mean to me if Dada was, indeed, a vampire. How would that impact my life? Because I'd really need to know.

B told me that if I got bitten I would become a vampire and would not be alive any more. I couldn't see my reflection. I'd have to stay away from people. I'd have to avoid the sunlight and only come out at night. I'd want to drink blood.

Hm. I thought.

"Well, I guess I'd have a talk with Dada and I'd tell him that he could be a vampire but that I wasn't interested in being a vampire. So please do not bite me. He can be what he wants. But I can also be what I want and he shouldn't try to change me."

I am not even kidding. It's like the 70's Free to Be, You and Me album got pureed in a blender together with, well, blood and vampire fangs along with some parenting 101 course. I don't know what was happening to the words coming out of my mouth. But then I said this:

"Dada is a vegetarian and I'm not. We don't try to change each other. Just like he could be a vampire and I wouldn't have to be."

Jumping Josephine on a pogo stick! WTF?

But of course, then I had another thought.

Vampire = Vegetarian = ...
wait for it ...
Foreign Service Officer?!?!

Could it be?
Blood sausage for dinner, anyone?

In other news... I got my hair cut tonight and I now have what looks like a mullet instead of "side-swept wispy bangs," so that should be fun at the bus stop tomorrow. I'm hoping it looks a bit better when I have a hand in styling it. It ain't pretty, people. But that's what I get for trying the new girl. Pouf and Mullet. Free to Be.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Community building.

I'm not a member of the FS community. I'm a want-to-be. I am a spouse of a person who wants to be in the FS. That makes me, well, nothing, I guess. No letters for that. Not EFM, not MOH, nothing.

For a while I read people's blogs to find out what this whole FS thing was all about. Because honestly, when my husband first said he was interested in taking the FSOT, I was like this..."Um, Ha! That's funny. What? Listen, start the laughing... now."

So, anyway, I lurked and read and read between lines. I tried to guess if people sounded happy or not. If people liked their lives. If people had messed-up sounding kids. I mean what else did I have to go on? We bought the Realities of FS Life books. But I wanted real, current info. Blogs fit that. But I never commented on anybody's blog. Because I was really just a nobody. Even though I started my own little blog, I kept my comments to myself.

But then I got a little brave. And I commented on a blog. Then another. And a few people commented back. There was one blog where I commented on a cute cat. A blog that had, um, about 20 close-up pictures of the cutest Maine Coon cat. And that one blog was just so honest and so purely happy. And it was A Daring Adventure. And holy cow... she wrote me back. And her comments went out to many people. And she started to connect these random blogs and make jokes and poke fun and draw us all in. And all of a sudden, I wasn't a nobody. I wasn't just some crazy person alone in the universe struggling to figure out what the heck was happening to my life with this whole Foreign Service Nutball Job Thingy. I was (and am) included. And encouraged. And laughed with. (And maybe at.) But I am part of the community.

So, thank you, Kolbi. I'm glad you are back. I'm thankful for what you've done. Whether you know it or not.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Don't forget your...

My husband has a lot on his plate. Not his real dinner "plate." His life "plate."

I mean don't we all?

I do a fair bit of reminding. If you call me a "nag" I will drop-kick your ass. Be warned.

But he forgets things. He has gotten to the check-out line of the grocery store (after filling the cart) and realized he has no wallet. He has taken both my car keys and his car keys when I needed to go somewhere with the three kids, leaving me stranded. (I borrowed a neighbor's car.) He packs and forgets his lunch regularly. He forgets his glasses and cell phone at least once a week and drives down the block then returns. My five-year-old daughter says, "Hi, Dada! What did you forget, Dada? Your glasses? Cell phone?"
I love him.

So here's me yesterday morning as he's heading out the door for work:

Do you have your lunch?
Do you have your briefcase?
Do you have your wallet?
Do you have your keys?
Do you have your German homework?
Do you have your cell phone?

Seven-year-old S was nearby, eating his breakfast. He's funny. Here he is at a Revolutionary War Fort.
So, as I am questioning my husband, S jumps in, "Do you have your Barack Obama mask?"
And I just started cracking up. And then S starts laughing.
My husband kind of looked sideways at S.
Then S said, "Dada, don't forget your Abraham Lincoln hat."
And we laughed. 
Then S said. "Don't forget your bazooka."
Then S and I started just adding goofy things. And laughing.
Don't forget your banjo. 
Don't forget your snorkel.
Don't forget your coconut bra. 
Don't forget your sting ray.
Don't forget your car.
Don't forget your watermelon.
Don't forget your machete. 
Don't forget your drum kit.
Quill pen.
Pole vault.
Pommel horse.
Beef jerky/ turkey jerky.
Flattened cardboard for break dancing...

By this time my husband had long ago left for work. S and I were still laughing and adding things and laughing. 

It was a late night for my husband. After work he had German tutoring and then a different German speaking group. I call it "Double German Night." My husband gets home after the kids are in bed. So I get the kids off the bus, help them do homework, make dinner, do baths and showers, books, snuggling, etc. Earlier, as the kids and I were walking the dog through the woods, we were laughing about the funny list of things for Dada to take to work. And we started adding more silly things, and laughing more. (You can only imagine the list.) And I thought how sad it is that my husband is missing out on these great moments. These funny kids. This is life. Happening right now. It's passing by as he spends hours, days, weeks, a year (will it be years?) trying to get this job. It's a job! And is it a job that will mess up our lives? Will it leave us with a dad who works 15 hour days, living in housing with too few beds, with bugs, with isolation, with no woods in which to play? But at least if he gets the job we will have prepared the list of things he should take in his briefcase for the first day of work. I'd like to see the faces on the security guards at FSI for that one. Really, dude, a coconut bra?!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Weapons for sale!

My children, children of a possible future diplomat, went door-to-door in our neighborhood. Selling candy bars for some sports team? No. Offering to rake yards? No again. Collecting cans and bottles? Oh, of course not! They worked hard in the woods behind our house making weapons. Yes, weapons. My little Quaker children are really taking the pacifist lessons to heart.

The boys (ages 7 and 9) made bows and arrows whittled from sticks. They made spears from long sticks with rocks lashed to the sharpened ends. They made sling shots. They worked really hard. They worked together. They used their cub scout skills. They included their little sister in the endeavor. Then...then...they wanted to share their weaponry with the rest of the 'burbs. They decided they NEEDED to go door to door selling their handmade weapons. With a sign stating their names and then "Weapons," like Smith and Wesson. Each weapon came with a lifetime guarantee. And a lesson on how to use it.

I was proud and horrified at the same time. They made one sale. To our good friends who always try to encourage the kids. "Wow, that is so creative! I think we will take the slingshot, it looks safest for R (their son). Otherwise R might shoot his eye out. But that is AWESOME!! You guys did a great job!"

Good thing that Top Secret Security Clearance already went through. Because if I was asked if I have any relatives who are weapons dealers... I'm not naming any names but..."Slingshot-S" and "Bow-n-arrow-B" come to mind.

Sunday, May 9, 2010


This is completely and totally selfish. But I want to be able to write about something exciting happening in my life too. Rather, I want something exciting to be happening in my life. Then, I will write about it.

I have many congratulatory good wishes for all who have made it in to A-100 classes. I am happy for people selling vehicles and houses and sorting through boxes of stuff. I'm glad that the people in my husband's OA group are finding out where they will be posted. I am happy for 21 year olds who are not even graduated from college and are #1 on the PD register. Ok, maybe not happy. Maybe I'm jealous. And envious. Are jealous and envious the same?

I think I've gotten slightly crazy with this whole FS process.

I was thinking that my moods might have some parallels with the stages in candy making. I might be at soft-crack or hard-crack.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

American Girl

The whole American Girl Doll thing is a bit much for me. Those dolls cost a lot. I mean about $100 for a doll?! But the neighbor girls across the street got them from Santa this past Christmas, so, guess what? "They were free." That's what C said. "The elves just made 'em in the workshop, so they weren't $100."

My daughter C has a birthday in about a month (she'll be 6) and she's started itching for an American Girl Doll. Lanie, specifically.

Her backstory is: "She loves the outdoors and exploring the wonder of her own backyard." (And maybe spinning around in the woods with her arms out in the air, like a nutter, alone, listening to the ipod and singing?) Ack. Screech. No, that's me.

My father and step-mom are going to get the doll for C. Along with matching nightgowns for doll and child.

C will be so happy! Because she asked me if I would get her the American Girl Doll and I said, "No." (Because I'm mean.) And I don't work at the North Pole.

Monday, May 3, 2010


As I write this, Star Wars IV is playing on the TV. My son B is STILL home from school. The fever and cough are still there. I called the doc  this morning, just to make sure we don't need to do something more like switch antibiotics or ... whatever. The doctor said to keep him resting and make him drink lots of fluids. The resting part can be hard for a nine-year-old boy. He's been sick for six days. We've played games. He's read the entire Percy Jackson series. He's read magazines. He's sat out on the deck. He's played Wii. Nintendo DS. He wants to go back to school. So we're on to Star Wars.

I know I haven't written about the Foreign Service recently. It's only because there is nothing to say lately. My hubby is still doing his German lessons three times a week. I'm still feeling kind of bitter about the time that takes up, but I know it's necessary. Will we get the call? Will we?

This weekend is the neighborhood-wide HUGE garage sale. People descend on our neighborhood and buy everything and anything. I had planned on us knowing we'd be heading out by now. I was ready to sell lots of things. Now, I am overwhelmed by the lack of future plans and am not participating at all in the garage sale.

My emotions are swaying like the tall trees in my backyard these days. Sunday, as I was returning from walking the dog, I came down a hill, through the woods, on a winding path. The sun was filtering through the leaves. I looked up at the trees and the sky. There was a good song on the ipod and I had a teary-eyed, goofy, spin-around-all-by-myself-in-the-woods moment. Well, all alone with the dog. But he keeps his secrets. He's got Top Secret Doggie Clearance.

This might happen. But maybe not.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Children's Tylenol Recall

So my son has pneumonia. I've been treating his fever with alternating doses of Tylenol and Motrin. But the fever is still here-- three days later.

Today I found out I've been giving him Tylenol that has been recalled.

If you have children, check the medicine cabinet. Here is the full info: McNeil.
The details are pretty vague as to what is wrong with the medicine.

Here's an excerpt:
"McNeil Consumer Healthcare Announces Voluntary Recall of Certain OTC Infants’ and Children's ProductsFort Washington, PA (April 30, 2010) – McNeil Consumer Healthcare, Division of McNEIL-PPC, Inc., in consultation with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), is voluntarily recalling all lots that have not yet expired of certain over-the-counter (OTC) Children’s and Infants’ liquid products manufactured in the United States and distributed in the United States, Canada, Dominican Republic, Dubai (UAE), Fiji, Guam, Guatemala, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, Panama, Trinidad & Tobago, and Kuwait. (SEE RECALLED PRODUCT LIST BELOW).
McNeil Consumer Healthcare is initiating this voluntary recall because some of these products may not meet required quality standards. This recall is not being undertaken on the basis of adverse medical events. However, as a precautionary measure, parents and caregivers should not administer these products to their children. Some of the products included in the recall may contain a higher concentration of active ingredient than is specified; others may contain inactive ingredients that may not meet internal testing requirements; and others may contain tiny particles. While the potential for serious medical events is remote, the company advises consumers who have purchased these recalled products to discontinue use...."

On edit: I realized that the recall includes more than just Tylenol. Also Motrin, Zyrtec, and Benadryl. Take a gander. The FDA is recommending using generic products. Hm.