Wednesday, June 30, 2010

FSOT

The results of the FSOT (round 2) are in.

He passed.

I hope this trend continues.

PNQs are next.

Missouri, not Missoura.

We are driving from Upstate New York to Missouri. Are you jealous? Do you wish that was your summer vacation?

We are driving with our three kids to
St. Louis
for a big 50th Anniversary dinner for my in-laws. Remember them? At Easter?
Then the next day we are driving another 2 hours to
Jefferson City
for another anniversary get-together, then the next day we are driving another 2 hours to
Lake of the Ozarks 
for a few days with some of my husband's brothers and sisters, then back to St. Louis to go up the
arch
then we are driving to

Indiana
then.... home to pay the doggie boarding bill.

Good thing Missouri is nice and cool, low-humidity and refreshing in the summer (Not!), because we all have matching BLACK 50th anniversary shirts... !!! They resemble concert t-shirts, except they say "50th anniversary tour" and the names of my in-laws. I'll be wearing that bad-boy all the time once we get back to civilization.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

145 on PD register

The PD register has 145 people on it as of today. Halfway down there is a woman biting her nails... no, her cuticles. No, drinking ouzo. (Always talking about the ouzo... I haven't had it since I was 13 and in Greece.) Screw it.

A little over a year ago, my husband took a buyout from the newspaper where he was an assigning editor. Now he's a PR dude. I think he's a "communications specialist" or something like that. It's not a job to stay in long term. It's more a bridge job to allow him to say, "Hey, I'm a Public Relations guy now, not a newspaper guy, see, look at my resume." The idea was that the FS would have snapped him up by now... SNAPPED, I say!! But, he's thinking that it's time to start looking around to see if he can find the next PR job, just in case. Because they **LOVE** him at his current job, but the love and money are not equal, if you catch my drift, in the public school system.

Schools offers job security.
So does the FS, if we ever get in.
Schools educate children.
The FS is a big fat monster that eats children.
It's a big fat hairy monster that doesn't wear deodorant and has matted hair.
And it makes you learn a language that you might not ever even need to use.
A big fat monster offering "job security."
I bet it even talks too loud in movies and spits a little when it talks to you. eww.

I think I need some sleep. Sorry folks.

These Doonesbury comics (from Slate.com) made me laugh about newspapers. And yes, we still subscribe. (Click to make larger.)

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Partay.

Today I had 8 boys in my house in addition to my three kids. My house has never been so loud. This was for eight-year-old S's birthday party.

OK, I would like people to stop having birthdays. Back in the olden days you got one party. Ever. You chose wisely. None of this, "Every year party crap."

Anyhoo.
I'm beat. Next birthday is my husband's. Next week. Hopefully he doesn't want to invite over 8 friends and have a sword fight in the basement too. Or wrestle in the front yard. Or climb the trees. Or mix root beer, lemonade, sprite and water and call it his "beer." Hopefully his friends don't have to be reminded that they DON'T HAVE TO YELL WHEN WE ARE ALL INSIDE AND ARE STANDING NEXT TO ONE ANOTHER!!! And I know none of his friends would annoy our dog by repeatedly asking the dog to give "high fives."

Actually, they were all good kids. Nice kids. And I daresay we had ... fun.

Another cup of coffee (ouzo)

Phone Conversation

My mom: You sound down.
Me: Yeah.
My mom: What's going on?
Me: (Listing a bunch of whining stuff I should have just kept to myself.)
My mom: Oh my, well that does sound terrible. I would be stressed about that too. I would not be able to handle all that uncertainty and life change. All that unknown, I just couldn't do it. Better you than me.
Me: You did not make me feel any better, Mom.
My mom: Well, sorry.

Why do I do this to myself? Why don't I just say "Good."

It could be:

My mom: You sound down.
Me: No, I'm good. 
My mom: Are you sure?
Me: Yeah, I'm good. I just need another cup of coffee. (vodka/whiskey/ouzo)

Thursday, June 24, 2010

...Hello?...

Yesterday was the first day of summer vacation here in our neck o' the woods.

I picked the kids up at school (a half day) on their last day of school. We stopped for big ole double dip ice cream cones with lots of sprinkles for our pre-lunch appetizers in celebration.

A few days earlier, I went into C's classroom to read a book for her birthday. She picked the book, "Bark George." It's about a dog who eats lots of other animals and so he only can make funny other animal sounds until he goes to the vet and the vet reaches down his throat while wearing a long latex glove and pulls out all these animals until George can bark again. Then George's mom is very happy until George gets home and she says "Bark, George." And he responds, "Hello?" (It seems he may have swallowed the vet.) All the kids looked at me kind of perplexed - except for C who explained, "He ate the vet, get it? Get it? Dontcha get it?" Anyway, it was funny. C is very social. She is like the mayor of Kindergarten. She likes everybody in her class except Mean Brice. Of him she says, "He bites our Kindergarten friends and pushes and says things like 'I'm the boss of me! I make up my own rules in my own head,' He is not a friendly friend." Future diplomat?



Then there was the kindergarten concert. Cute to the max. Songs about monkeys jumping on beds, mud, love, etc. Sign language hand motions to more than half the songs... just more cuteness than you can shake a video camera at. And there were plenty of those.


My son S turned the big 8 a few days ago! He is very happy. He got a Nintendo DS from my father and step-mom. Here is S opening it. He looks like a Shriner with the bow on his hat, doesn't he?


And nothing says "birthday" better than having the Happy birthday song being played on the baritone right? Yeah, I thought so. Here is my aunt serenading S. Dude, my family rocks.


And then there was another party at our house, with my mom. (Divorced grandparents always means more parties!) S asked for Nana's famous BBQ ribs for dinner and cheesecake as the birthday cake. She was happy to oblige.


And of course there were more gifts. S has a love of birds. Or more specifically, bird feathers. He will see a hawk and say, "Drop a feather, drop a feather." Or a finch, or a blue jay. He has quite a collection already, just from hiking and keeping his eyes on the ground. So my mother asked her friends who are quite "crunchy" to keep their eyes open for feathers. Part of S's gift was some new feathers, and, let me tell you, he was a happy kid. Pheasant, turkey, peacock, red-tailed hawk, and some other more wacky ones I can't remember. Last year she gave him a real raccoon skull, wrapped in purple satin. So she really has a keen eye for what boys dig.





We also had the last soccer games of the season. Those were played during high temperatures and in full sun. Hello, heat exhaustion.



So, we've been busy. Now we have the summer to enjoy. Of course, with the three kids home, that's a different kind of busy, isn't it?

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

DSS vs Army

My next door neighbor signed up for the Army reserves last year. He's leaving for a year's deployment to Iraq in two days.

He used to be an EFM (Eligible Family Member). His wife used to be a Diplomatic Security Specialist. She's a teacher now. They decided the FS life wasn't for them after two posts. They have two daughters, ages 8 and 10.

I wonder if this is an improvement over the FS for them.

I sure hope if I'm an EFM it doesn't make me want to quit the FS and join the Army.

I sure hope the year goes by quickly (and safely) for them.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Good thoughts needed.

There is a fellow blogger who has been waiting for her husband to get called off the register and invited to an A-100 class, she needs some good thoughts. She and I have commented back and forth a few times. She has three kids, like I do, but her kids are younger than mine are. Her husband is on the Pol. register. His score is *this* close to getting him called. If he was in any other cone, he'd have been called by now. She has been antsy to get their FS adventure started. We've cheered each other on.

I checked her blog today and discovered, with horror, that she has just been diagnosed with lung cancer. I can not believe it. Luckily, it is operable, has not spread and is the "best" kind of cancer to have. She is being operated on June 22.

I am sending prayers and good wishes for her and her family. I am also thankful that she and her husband are still in their home, with their family and friends nearby, where they need to be so she can get well. I'm glad that they are not in an apartment in VA, far from everybody who loves them, with a new job and no support network, and their stuff in storage, about to move to who-knows-where.

Not that things always happen for a reason, but, this time, I feel they surely did. Health, family, life, those come first. The job, it comes second.

Say a prayer for Jamie if you are the praying-type. Or send her some good vibes.

And Jamie, you're going to kick cancer's ass, then be ready for whatever adventure you feel like enjoying.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The F-what?

As suggested, I will keep on with my life as if the FS is never even going to happen for us. The FS? The F-what? Never heard of it.

Well then.

I have decided that since nothing different is going to happen in my life and that my husband is not practicing speaking a strange language (yes, I said it, strange) and since we did not have to give 1,000 vials of blood between us, and there is not palpable tension regarding the future, and our life will surely not be uprooted...

I will continue life as usual. 
I will keep adding to my:









La-Z-Boy recliners in all 38 fabric choices collection



Lead garden statuary collection



Weight lifting and dumbbells collection


Cinder block collection


Anvil collection


Steel I-beam collection


Civil War artillary collection


Waters of the world collection

I feel better already. I think that's a good idea, don't you? It's good to have a Plan A...

Monday, June 14, 2010

Oh crap, I need a Plan!

My husband is trying to get into the Foreign Service. (...gasp...) That is our Plan A. He left the limping newspaper industry and is now working in a soul-sucking public school district as the PR dude. Did I just say that, soul-sucking? More like soul-anesthetizing. Tail-chasing, inefficient, soul-shrinking, anesthetizing...anyway...

I read a great blog post about how I need to move the FS into a "Plan B" position and just keep on living my life. In order to stay sane. That is good advice. Except for one small problem. Okay, two small problems.

One: Who said I am sane to start out with?

And two: I don't have plans, or letters for that matter. I mean of my own.

I don't have much going on in my life right now. With or without the FS. Well, I have plenty going on: Husband, three kids, dog who eats goose poop, cat who bites ankles, gymnastics practice, cub scouts, soccer, tennis, chess camp, computer camp, summer rec, swim lessons, German lessons, endless birthday season (x 4), family reunion in missouri, house, cars, yard, laundry, bills, housework, trying to stay in shape.

Let me clarify. I need a purpose. Maybe a job or a career. A thing that makes me go Wow! I need to leap out of bed and look in the mirror and say, "Okay, good morning, Crazy lady, today is the day! Let's get this party started!"

I spent my first year of college in architecture school. Then I was really practical, and got a Bachelors of Fine Arts in... oh, you'll just love this... uh, huh... ceramics. My grandfather said I was "playing in the mud." He was right. I also like painting with oils ('cause that stuff is safe to smell). I planned to get my MFA (which is the "terminal" degree in fine arts) and work on my own work and eventually teach at the college level. I pictured myself working in my studio, my dog lazing nearby, windows letting light stream in, then teaching partially disinterested underclassmen a few days a week at some university, while an agent represented me to galleries and found public art contests for me to enter, and win! (This is my fantasy, after all.) But I only applied to two MFA programs and got rejected to both. Nobody said, "Wait a year and try again," or "Keep working on your portfolio," or "Try other programs." So I worked for a year and applied to a masters program to teach art. I got in to a great art school, the best art school, some might say. But I was in the art education program. Even though I got to take some "real" studio classes on the side (which I loved), I was teaching art K-12. Not making art full time. Then I graduated and had to start paying off the loans. So I taught for 6 years. When my husband and I had kids and we decided I wanted to stay home with the kids, I wasn't sad about leaving teaching. And I have loved raising my kids.

So that brings us to now. Plan A or B or whatever. Umm. Before this summer my kids were 5, 7 and 9 years old. By August they will be 6, 8 and 10. (No longer an "odd" year, I'm back to even.) I've been home with them for 10 years. (Ten?!) All three kids will be in school full days starting in September. What is my Plan? We thought we'd be getting "the call" by now.

I could try to go back to teaching again in the fall. Although with budgets what they are in NY, art is getting cut everywhere. But teaching isn't what makes me happy, it isn't what makes me feel alive and at my best. Making art is. At least it was, back in the "Olden Days," as my kids say, "Back in the 1900's." Hopefully if the FS plan works out, I'll have a chance to work on Plan Art, maybe for now I should just tow the line and work on Plan $.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

You & Me

This Dave Matthews song was playing on the ipod (on shuffle mode) when I came in from the bus stop this morning. My husband and I hugged, then danced in the kitchen. I cried. I think he might have gotten a little teary-eyed too. Together, we can do anything. I think this could be the theme song for FS couples.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

FSOT x 2

Right this very minute my husband is sitting for the FSOT again. Yes, he's started his second candidacy. Same cone. PD. He's already on the register, just not sure he will get "the call."

He hasn't yet taken the German language phone test. He's not very confident in passing. At least the first time.

I miss being happy. And smiling. And laughing. And feeling like me.

I miss that happier me. I miss feeling secure.

Is it displaced by all this uncertainty? Sadness is in my head.
Trying to be positive. 

Gotta smile today for a family portrait to give to my in-laws for their 50th wedding anniversary. 

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Up in the air (Cessna 172)

My two boys got to ride in a Cessna 172 today. It was the Young Eagles program. My husband arranged it through cub scouts. The two boys, ages 7 and 9, took off with Jim (who has been flying for 40 years) while my dear husband stood on the ground watching them disappear into the sky. "Please come back," he says he thought, as they took off. The boys LOVED it!!!!! Loved it. They were in the air for 25 minutes, or so. We'll see who asks for pilot lessons first. They are already starting to hint at it.





I was taking C to her soccer game during the flight time. She did lots of cartwheels today on the field. Last week she scored a goal, the week before she scored two, this week, the coach said to play defense. So she went back and waited. But there wasn't too much action. So she started doing cartwheels. I ended up yelling from the sidelines, "C, no cartwheels on the field." She smiled and waved. Then she started doing hand stands. And smiling. But when the ball did come down to her end, she kicked it out, away from the goal. And smiled.

Later, we had a (kid) birthday party for C. All the invitees attended. Twelve 6 year olds did art projects, ate cupcakes and strawberries, drank lemonade and smiled at each other. They are all in the same Kindergarten class. Very cute.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

My husband is a real tiger.

Early this morning:

Me: I posted photos on my blog of C's birthday.

Husband: Let's see. . . . . Oh, nice. 

pause of 5-10 minutes

Husband: You know, when we get into the Foreign Service, you will probably have to close up your blog and have one that is only private. Or have one with no pictures. 

Me looking at him like he is a wolf, or a bear, or a ... 
TIGER!

Me: Why?

Husband: Well, you sure gave lots of photos and details of C. And the boys. And our yard. We don't want to be in some country where terrorists can easily spot us from your blog.

Me: You are a TIGER!

Husband: Thank you. (Looking pleased with himself because he thinks I'm saying "Vavoom! Baby, you're a tiger!") 

Me: No, not like that!! You big dork.

But maybe he's right.
I should be more guarded with my hula-hooping photos. Y'all are getting privileged glimpses. Please do not tell the terrorists that American Girl dolls reside in my house, I have a yellow lab, I need to weed more. My cat bites our ankles and we have initials for names. The results could be dastardly. Hell, it's not like State is giving bloggers any pointers, from what I've heard. Just don't be a "stupid" blogger. Honestly. That might not be enough of a line for me.

Tiger photo shamelessly stolen from A Daring Adventure.

I'm a er, um, grandma!

Welcome. 
Come sit down on the back deck.
The chairs are especially glowy.
The trees are especially green.
The bow and arrows are put away, you're safe for now from the boys.
But wait.
What was that?
A birthday?
Someone is SIX?
What IS that?
Ut-oh. (Enter Jaws music)
She sees you.
She sees EVERYTHING.
Every. Thing. From her coffin. With a window.
Knock knock. Scratch Scratch.
She's out!! Look out.
Is she evil? Or good?
Good, I guess. 
And she calls me (gulp) "Grandma."
Lanie was a gift from my father and step-mom.
Welcome to the family, Lanie.
B and S found it thrilling. 

Another gift C got was a HULA HOOP.
Yeah, I can't do that anymore.
What happened?
But C can.

You can watch the video below.
video



She's a spunky, funny, groovy, strong, independent six year old girl.