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7 posts from July 2006

July 27, 2006

Virtual Mom & Dad

Dear Caitlin & Kelsey,

Hi!  It sounds like you are having an awesome time with the MAHVELOUS Auntie Dr. Shannon and Uncle Marky "the Captain" Sparky!  Between the trips on their boat, the pirate cruise in Annapolis and the trip to Smith Island, you guys must be exhausted.

Img_0290We spent the day on the beach today, and obtained quite the rosy glow despite our extreme slathering of the sunscreen.  And, yes, it was a not-so-good hair day for me.  After a delightful (but overwhelming?) lobster dinner at Carmine's (see the picture of Dad!), we headed out for mini-golf. 

Img_0294 We had forgotten how much fun such a simple game can be!  It was a tough match and we did pretty well considering it has been a while.  Okay, I played last week with Kelsey, but she quit after nine holes, so not much competition.

We head back to Virginia tomorrow and can't wait to see you guys on Friday night!  And we are so grateful to Shannon and Mark for taking such good care of you so we could have some 'time off'.  Perhaps we will soon see pictures of your adventures posted on 3 Salty Dogs*?!

Love,
Mom & Dad

*There are already a few pics of Cait & Kels from early July.  Shannon wrote a nice description of our trip to the Crab House we visited on July 6 and it can be found  just under the pics of their camping trip to Bear Creek Lake.

July 25, 2006

AC, Baby!

That is Atlantic City, NOT air-conditioning.  If anything, I have had it with the over air-conditioned restaurants, hotels, you name it.  It is not so terribly hot outside right now, and even if it was, going from 100 to 68 doesn't do my body any good.  Sadly, I seem to be the only one suffering from that ailment;  I know Pete loves the A/C!

Pete also loves Atlantic City, thus the reason we took our first 'week away together' trip here.  We had originally planned on Vegas, but then realized the timing just wasn't going to work.  Also, we can never remember where we are;  I got off the plane in Baltimore last week and realized I had no idea where I was or where I was going.  It only lasted for a few seconds, but I knew it was a sign I should stay away from airports for a few days.

So, Kelsey and I picked up Pete on Friday and after spending most of the weekend, sigh, well, on the boat again (!!), we headed to the not-so-Arctic north.  I remembered to re-sign up for EZPass and I am so glad to have done that. I can't tell you how much time it saves, especially in NJ, where the "Fast Lanes" are in great abundance.

Between trips to the beach and Cape May, we have been enjoying the restaurants.  While I am sure they seem pricey to some, it is sooo inexpensive for us to eat out here!  Not that we have not been enjoying home-cooked meals (thank you, Shannon & Dibby!), but we just forgot how much easier on the wallet an evening out can be.

So, Pete is off gambling now...no need for an intervention, it's just poker and he is a very reasonable and patient player.  I, however, am not much of a gambler.  The slots drive me nuts and the smoke makes me even crazier.  Therefore, I am going to enjoy a hot bath (the joy of having a tub while on R&R!) and 'bad American tv', as I like to call it.  It isn't inherently bad, just nothing mind-expanding, but sort of relaxing at the end of a long day. 

July 20, 2006

Welcome, Emmitt!

Download Gus holding his baby brother, Emmitt.

Of course, the minute we departed from Memphis,  Emmitt Robert Kraus decided to make his appearance.  Well, not the exact minute, but a bit of drama always makes a tale more exciting.

To be exact he was born about 5 hours after we departed and weighed in at 9 lbs, 5 oz.  We wish the newest member of the Kraus/Smith/Kirk Family Tree much happiness and many congratulations to  Heather, Robert and big brother, Gus!

July 18, 2006

You get what you ask for...

and baby, I am loving it.  I swear it is so hot (and humid) here that one could simply melt away if they weren't careful.  It has been hovering around 99 (or 106 depending on the thermometer) for the 10 days while we have been in Memphis.  However, given that it is only half as warm in Reykjavik (the temp has been at 50 for the past two weeks), I would sooo much rather be here.

Img_0251 (Kelsey & Jack, Max's 'twin')


Okay, I skipped Graceland.  Sorry for exciting those of you who may thought I might one day break my pact with myself and make the pilgramage, if you will.  Well, you can thank my pinched nerve (that is what I am calling it) that has made everything from walking to sleeping brutally painful for the past 3 weeks.  Apparently, overdoing it at weed-whacking can have some serious consequences.

So, instead I spent most of last week at the chiropractor and took a quick side-trip to the massage therapist (ahhh).  But there is good news:  my insurance finally covers chiropractic visits.  Laugh if you will, but trust me when I say this is quite the boon for me.  Oh, and the fact that the doctors submit the paperwork for you?  God bless America!

I digress, sorry.  So, I didn't make it to the land of the King, but guess I can always go later.  Especially since the girls have already requested that we return next summer so they can go to the same daycamp.  I am not entirely sure what they did the whole time, as the summary of the day was given to me by two bleary-eyed children who struggled into the car and prior to passing out eked out, "I am sooooooo tired!".  They eagerly hopped out of bed each morning, though, and made friends so quickly that they invited them to the family dinner on Sunday! 

Img_02531_2   (Caitlin holding Walker; a babysitter in the making!)

Not only did we meet the newest member of the family, Walker G. Clay, at Gretchen's Birthday Dinner on Sunday, July 8th, but Caitlin and Kelsey cemented their "cousin-ships" with Gus, Lydia and Connor.  I have a sneaking suspicion the minute we sit down on the plane tomorrow I will be asked, "When are we coming back?".  The cousins played so well together and it was just delightful to watch.

However, is Caitlin perhaps too cunning?  By day three, she had Lydia, Connor and Kelsey all  begging her to play "teacher".  Oh, and now when she "teaches", she goes by the name of "Mrs. Moore"...need I say, well, more?

For more exciting pictures, check out the sidebar and look for the Memphis album.

July 04, 2006

Happy Birthday, USA!

Img_0223 I think we are going to be exhausted from today for a looong time.  By far the best Fourth of July we have had in quite some time!

One of the reasons we returned home in time for the Fourth of July was that there is little to celebrate overseas.  One can have their own small celebrations, but with a small embassy that grows smaller every day, there are fewer and fewer people to invite.  Also, most of them are probably busy with the 'official' embassy event.  And, yes, for whatever reason, these events do not include children.

I am frustrated by this from a different perspective than normal.  I would be happy to get a sitter if this were any other time.  However, we are sent overseas to represent our country and on the 4th of July, we attempt to share our celebration with the host country.  What better way than to incorporate our children?  Instead of relegating them to a few weak sparklers at the end of the day, shouldn't we be teaching them why we go overseas?  What better way for them to learn how to share the truly special points than to have them at the celebration?

So, since my children were not welcome (again), we decided it would be better to show them a truly American celebration: in America.  We spent the day boating on the Chesapeake, swimming on isolated beaches and being stung by jellyfish (all American fun!).   Captain Mark enjoyed showing off his new boat (Shannon, enter description again here ________).  I can simply say it is big, it has a motor and going fast at night puts the kids to sleep extremely quickly!

After a return trip home to wash up we went back out on the boat and headed towards Galesville, MD.  We docked at Pirate's Cove and enjoyed scrumptious crab cake dinners.  The girls were adventurous and despite never having tried crabcakes before, ended up nearly cleaning my plate!  Cait had tasted crab before, but never mixed with so many other flavors.  Kelsey, well, no explanation necessary there!

It started to rain a little after dinner as we walked through the town, so we donned our red, white and blue ponchos.  After the rain stopped, Cait alternated between investigating the small beach and dancing with Kelsey to the music blaring over the loudspeaker.  I am not sure where they have learned their "moves", but they were quite artistic and will come in handy at their dansskoli in the fall!

The parade started a little late, but was truly much fun.  Uncle Sam teetered down the road, followed by the requisite fire department personnel and ambulance with their sirens blaring.  Antique cars, kids on trikes and even boats (towed, of course) followed behind. 

I felt a few tugs at my heartstrings as I realized just how long it had been since I had enjoyed such a display.  Despite everything going on in the world, and even the country, people were able to engender their non-partisan patriotism for a few minutes.  Even better, my children were able to watch and see how people celebrated the birth of their country with nothing more than paper decorations and a little creativity. 

After the parade, we headed back to the boat and floated out a little bit.  After nightfall, (yes, it is DARK here - Jen can sleep at long last!) we watched quite an elaborate display of fireworks.  I would guess it lasted well over half an hour.   We raced home ("going fast" is the new request for Captain Mark) in the dark with the warm breezes flowing and sleepy heads nodding.  Without a doubt, quite the Fourth!

Great Quote of the Day:  After being slathered with lotion, Caitlin ran outside.  Five minutes later, sufficiently hot and already sweaty, she ran back inside and announced to Shannon,
"This sunscreen isn't working!  I'm still hot!"

Or how you know they haven't had a really hot summer in quite a while....

July 02, 2006

Back in the USA

There is nothing like it when the Customs guy stamps your passport and says, "welcome home".  Especially, since unlike the average traveller, you have not been 'home' in quite some time.

We arrived safe and sound in Baltimore tonight and are none the worse for the wear.  Caitlin and Kelsey were just delightful despite the 2 hour delay.  They lucked out, in fact, as one of Cait's school friends happened to be on the 5:00 p.m. flight to New York (also delayed) from Reykjavik, and thus the three of them played until it was time to board.

The girls were so good on the plane that they even earned compliments from the woman in front of us.  I had a few less than complimentary things to say about her husband's behavior, but they are best left unsaid. 

No lost luggage though and only slightly weird behavior from the BILLIONS of tourists returning stateside.  Oh, and apparently there was a swim meet in BWI.  Either that or ratty t-shirts and flip-flops now constitute decent travel apparel for all teenagers in the DC metro area!  I am not one for wearing make-up at the gym or dressing fancily for the market, but really, is being fully clothed while travelling too much to ask?

Yep, we're home!

July 01, 2006

So long, farewell, dasvidania!

Sadly this week we have had to say good-byes to more friends. Yes, I know we are in the FS and it is only time before we seem them again.  However, Iceland is such a small post and just one departure can cause more than a little disruption.

Our friends, the Kierans family, has left Iceland for the trials and tribulations of language training in the DC area followed by a move to Moscow.  It should be an exciting time for them, but we are definitely sad they are gone.  They were so helpful to us when we really needed it and it was great to have another RIS family so close by!

So I think that our trip to the States comes at a very good time.  Otherwise, I will focus too closely on having a good friend displaced and not as much on enjoying the summer (as it is here in this cold, windy, rainy land).

I know no one has possibly forgotten, but this time tomorrow we will be leaving for the airport with the fewest pieces of clothing we have ever taken on a trip!  Okay, except for the Arctic gear we will need just to get to the car and then into the airport.  Ironically, most of what I need to take with me is paperwork...claims to file, bills to pay.  Apparently, in the U.S.,  I can just stick envelopes in a blue box with an eagle symbol on it and my mail will magically go to the addressee! 

On the downside, my oldest is quite the smarty-pants and might quickly figure out that McDonald's is much cheaper there...thankfully, we are down to about .25 trips to McDonald's a month.  So, perhaps they will be so overwhelmed by everything else they can get and/or eat there without having to spend their college fund that I won't feel pressured to make the stop!

Ah, the joy of having everything at your fingertips and no clue where to start!  And going outside without coats (or shoes?!)...beaches that aren't freezing...jumping into the pool because the water is cooler than the air (not because the air is so cold that you have to warm up in the pool)...

Remember, we love Iceland (it really has been good for us), but home is where the warm temps are and we do so miss them at times!