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14 posts from September 2012

September 29, 2012

Who doesn't go clubbing on her night off?

Well, health clubbing that is?  Yes, indeedy, tonight is my first night off in 6 weeks and I celebrated in style with a swim at my new gym.  I had just dropped off the kids at the Salty Dog 'stead and headed straight to the club for a bit of exercise and relaxing in the hot tub.

What will I do with myself now?  Other than the dog's tap-tap-tap of her toenails on the kitchen floor, it is overwhelmingly quiet.  I am beside myself with the possibilities...perhaps a movie, a glass of wine, and then early (yes, early!) to bed so that I can awaken to a leisurely breakfast and a day of amazing possibilities?

Not that I don't miss the kiddos, of course, but I know they are in good hands and having fun.  It only took Nick an hour to cover himself in scarves and entertain with lines from Copacabana, so I have no doubt all is well.  Now off to enjoy my evening...and imagine what I will do tomorrow with the whole day to myself.  Thanks, Salty Dogs!


September 28, 2012

{this moment}: Mr. Helper

{this moment} - A Friday ritual (a day late, sorry). One photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.


Idea courtesy of Soulemama.

September 26, 2012

The newbies are

keeping me hopping. And by newbies, I mean new companies that have come to my area (well, within a 10 or so minute radius of my house) and I am absolutely loving them.

For years, I had love/hate relationships with gyms. It seems I could find one that offered almost everything, but seemed too pricey or had everything, but was just a wee bit too far away.  You know, out of walking distance and just far enough in the car that made you not want to go every day?  Or there were parking issues (most recent gym), and the cost didn't seem commensurate with the offerings.

After my winter of discontent last year (not running due to surgery and/or weather), I realized I needed to get something going before the wintery weather hit.  While I have no intention of not spending plenty of time outside, I want a place to go where I won't have to worry about slipping on black ice if I can't run until 6 p.m. or not being able to see where I am going for the same reason.  I also knew I needed to break out of my exercise box.  My weight has settled around a certain number that is not a happy one and I am determined to change that.

Enter 24 Hour Fitness.  We joined their San Ramon location in Cali after trying and not loving a larger, more expensive gym.  24 Hour Fitness was technically within walking distance and at a price that was reasonable for both of us to join.  A pool, outdoor hot tub (open all year...it's Cali, after all), kids play area and plenty of workout space.  I loved this gym and was extremely sad when we moved back here and I was back to the old choices of either the super expensive place several miles away or the tiny gym with the lousy parking.  Tiny wasn't bad, but no pool, the parking was incredibly difficult and it was easily packed during peak workout times.

No such issue at the 24 Hour Fitness in Falls Church, which took the place of the old Syms in the 7 Corners area.  I got a discount card at the Taste of Falls Church and headed over on opening day.  I took a tour, signed myself up  (month to month, so no worries when I have to cancel), and headed upstairs for my first workout.  May I say the club is gorgeous?  The pool is on the first floor, with a nearby hot tub, steam room and sauna, and has several windows (no trapped in the basement feeling).  The upstairs is devoted to cardio, training, stretching and  more (full-size gym). You can get an app for your iPhone, there are newbie discounts on personal training and it's a nice, bright spacious space for a work out.

Did I bite on the personal training?  Yep, you bet.  I knew I was stalling in my weight loss as I needed to mix things up a bit.  I've worked out twice now with my new (very fit) trainer and while he is kicking my rear, it's in a good way.  I was so sore yesterday and found muscles in places I didn't realize existed. I could barely get out of bed today (despite 6 applications of Biofreeze last night), but went over and worked through (and got rid of ) most of my back pain.  I've also started tracking what I eat again and can even scan in bar codes on foods to make calorie counting easier.  Love that Lose It app!  Should you be in the Falls Church area and have even the slightest need for a gym...I highly recommend.

A nice coincidence?  As I am trying to work on my health from a physical perspective, the new Mom's in Merrifield opened at long last.  It's in the Mosaic District and conveniently located next to a Red Apron and Mediterrafish (a local, organic butcher & a new fish store).  Mom's is a grocery store after my own heart:  compact, eco-friendly, the brands I like (at excellent prices) and a wide variety of produce and local, fresh items.  Sort of like the farmers market, but with longer hours and a bit more stuff.  We are also planning on working with them on school events (for Kelsey's school) and they are as excited about that as we are!

Now there is also a new theatre, numerous restaurants, a gym, a new Target and several independent retailers that look interesting.  Normally I am not one into growth like this, but given the nature of the companies coming in...I'm glad to support local companies and save money. Now I just need to work on meal planning, so I can space out my trips to MOM's a bit more....




September 23, 2012

Oh, dear

I had planned for this post to be far more well-thought out.  After all, I hate to shortchange this person, especially on her birthday.

Yep, today is Mom's birthday.  She would have been 68 (good grief!), though I doubt her friends would believe she was older than 58.  She had that amazing ability to seem so much younger than she was.  I remember how stunned her friends were at her funeral when they learned her true age.  She never lied, but I guess few people asked and nearly everyone assumed she was barely the other side of 50.

From our whirlwind trip to England and France, December 2003.

I realized recently, especially in light of all of the recent political upheaval, how grateful I am for a gift she gave me.  Yes, it's her birthday, but since I can't give a tangible gift, I thought I would offer thanks instead for the gift of an open mind.

I can't say exactly why it happened.  I don't know every experience of her life, but have a few ideas. Whether or not they are truly the reason she wanted me to form my own beliefs is irrelevant.  The fact of the matter is that she never, ever forced me to believe anything and for that I thank her.

Politics, religion, whether or not to breastfeed?  It was, "This is what I believe and why.  I do not expect you to believe the same.  You are your own person and should have your own beliefs."

No muss, no fuss, no thoughts of disowning me if our beliefs did not share the same path.  Now that I have three children of my own, I am so grateful to have had her faith and love, no matter what I chose for myself.  And, of course, my gift to my children will be the same. 

Thanks, Mom.  I love you, I miss you and Happy Birthday, wherever you are.



September 21, 2012

{this moment}: Mini-Caped Crusader

{this moment} - A Friday ritual (a day late, sorry). One photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see. 


Idea courtesy of Soulemama.  

September 17, 2012

Saturday's moment was

originally to be a photo of the memorial for those killed in Libya that was located at AFSA.  Unfortunately, due to my crazy schedule last week, I couldn't get into the city until Saturday.  I felt the flag at half-staff at State was equally sobering, thus I shared that photo.


Given that I had wanted to devote a post to such photos, it was well-timed that today these photos were sent my way (courtesy of AFSA, thus I cannot take credit for them). I know those who are not in the Foreign Service, don't always *get* the lifestyle and that is understandable.  However, perhaps seeing the photos will spark more curiosity.  There are many blogs and other FS links, such as AAFSW, on my sidebar and each and every one will also give a deeper insight to the FS and the people who serve.

If you haven't already, please take a moment to view the photos and remember those who lost their lives last week in service to our country.


September 15, 2012

{this moment}: Half-Staff in Memoriam

{this moment} - A Friday ritual (a day late, sorry). One photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see. 


Idea courtesy of Soulemama.  

September 13, 2012

You know what made me cry

today?  Besides horrifically sad stories that keep coming out of the woodwork?

A friend sent an article my way and wrote that she thought the comments indicated that there are a lot of people out there who don't *get* Diplomatic Security or what it does.  I didn't really think anything of it, read the article and then glanced at the comments...and just about lost it.  

Four U.S. diplomats are DEAD.  Their bodies are being repatriated at this moment and they will never again have a chance to do...anything.  And what were people discussing in the comments? Thoughts of the victims' families?  Ways to remember fallen members of our diplomatic corps?  No.

 Instead it was an open forum of bashing, whether against our current president (for whom I have a deep amount of respect), the *lack* of security (as it was perceived by them) or the way things should have been handled.  No one mentioned having any Foreign Service/expat experience, yet suddenly all were experts on such topics.  

 Is that what we have sunk to as a country?  Are we so callous and shallow that instead of simply shutting up and honoring the dead, we spend time spreading lies, rumors, and attacking our President? And this makes our country great?

America, I am ashamed. 

Instead of taking the flag at half-staff as a reminder for reflection and memorial, we take it as a moment to blame.  I know it is an election year, but enough is enough.  Four people who served fearlessly are dead and it means nothing but trash talk time?

I understand that not everyone gets the Foreign Service or our lifestyle. They don't understand the months upon months of training that Peter has gone through, the never-ending separations, and the postings, however dangerous, that are accepted without fail because that is what we signed up to do. They don't get that our moves are stressful emotionally and sometimes financially, and that we don't just plop down in a new location and magically settle in.

Mocking what we don't understand often seems more useful than simply taking the time to learn about it. I have many friends and family who do take the time and it is very much appreciated. However, for those armchair diplomats who read one article and think they *magically* know how the situation in Libya could have been prevented or how world peace is to be established, please just put away the keyboard. Accept that you are not an expert in diplomatic relations or security and perhaps offer a condolence.  

A little respect...that's all I ask.

And if you do believe in the Foreign Service and the work we do around the world, no matter what the circumstances, please consider adopting the ribbon from my previous post.  Tack it up on your blog, change your Facebook profile picture or Tweet it from the rooftops and just show us you care.

Thank you.


September 12, 2012

Absolutely tragic...

Last night, I went to bed knowing that at least one member of our Foreign Service family had been killed in the attack on the consulate in Libya.  Today I woke up to find out that it was four, not one and there are no words to describe how I feel.  The Ambassador, as well as the IMO, Sean Smith and two other Americans were killed in an attack on the consulate in Benghazi, on September 11, no less.


It seems that at times, some tend to believe that the diplomatic life is one of glamour and intrigue, of tea parties and fancy-pants postings.  There is little thought given to the work and mass amount of coordination it takes to engage in this lifestyle.  How one has to represent their country, yet can easily fall in love with their new home and wonder why anyone would want to live anywhere else.  How quickly we have to assimilate and then, in a moment's notice, can be torn away from our new home, be it an evacuation for political or other reasons.


I did not know Chris Stevens, the Ambassador to Libya, personally. However, my friend Hannah, who is posted to Tripoli, has worked with him and knew him well.  She recently penned this blog post about an event she attended with him.  If you can, take a moment, click through and read about yet another FSO who gave his life for his country and truly loved what he was doing.  Hannah also added a link in the comments below with more information about the Ambassador.

Diplopundit also posted today and included gave us an insight into Sean Smith's life.  You can read it here.  We are still waiting to hear about anyone else involved. 

We are so sad today for this tragedy, and our Foreign Service family has been deeply affected.  Please keep the families of these four heroes in your thoughts and prayers.  


Note:  I did not create the above image and cannot take credit.  Thanks to the person who took the time to do so.


September 11, 2012

Last week, we decided it was time to adopt

again and today we came home from AWLA with a sweet 3 year old (ish), 50 or so pound beagle/shepherd mix (sort of a best guess), temporarily named China.  Am I crazy?  Am I not going nuts with everything else going on?


She's already got the Nicholas anti-papparazzi thing down pat.

I'd say yes, but honestly, the dog has already added a measure of calm to the household.  I think we've all been needing something a little extra with Peter gone for another 9 months and this might just be it. I've been saying for a year or so that I was finally ready to get another pup...and just needed the push of the kids really being ready for it (you know, everyone out of diapers and all that jazz).  


I managed to sneak this photo in when she wasn't looking...

We knew we would adopt from AWLA as we love the work we do.  We are not particular about breeds (other than it being a mutt) and given our history with the shelter:  me working there, Kelsey attending camp, adopting Maggie and then Theo, and, of course, Kelsey's fab party there last year, we are quite fond of them.  I had a feeling it might take a few visits to find *the* one, and in reality, it only took two and we very nearly missed out on her.

We found one last Tuesday, but it turns out she wasn't recommended for homes with young children.  We thought another sweet girl had an application pending, but then as luck would have it (for us), the consultation for those in front of us did not pan out.  Woot!

We met with China and while she was a tad nervous, nothing we wouldn't expect.  The kids were thrilled, I was really hoping that I would have a new walking partner and we ended up leaving with an application pending.  All I need to procure was proof of Bailey's rabies, an email from Senor Dinoia approving the adoption and a *cat* test (to ensure China could tolerate cats).  By 2 p.m. today, I had the word that the adoption counselor had received the pertinent info and China passed the test with flying colors.


A few hours later, this sweet pup was home with us.  Despite a slight anxiety issue, she is settling in, eating, enjoying walks (Cait *can't wait* to walk her in the morning! Woot!), and terrorizing Bailey by simply panting in his direction.  We think Bailey is secretly hoping this is one of those dog-sitting gigs, and other than a few hisses, has not shown a terrible amount of interest.  Of course, the minute the dog tries to sleep on Bailey's recliner, all bets are off!


September 10, 2012

I spy....

a magical item.  Do you see it?  It's what we call a lunchbox and it's going to school with Master Nicholas Quinn.  Why, do you ask?

Today is the first day of his Enrichment Program at his Montessori.  Instead of heading home at the normal 11:45 a.m. dismissal time, he will stay until 2:30 p.m., Monday-Thursday.  Now, I know some might think this is *too soon*...but then you haven't met Nicholas in person.

He is a giant ball of energy. I love it (and him, too, of course), but lately, without another parent around (ever), it's taking a toll on me...and thus, him.  So, to give myself a bit more time during the day (and don't forget, if I get into language classes at FSI, I'll need him in enrichment/after care), I signed him up for the program.  He could not be more excited.

I mean, are you kidding me, he gets a new lunch box out of this!  He gets to make lunch with Kelsey! He gets more Mabel's Labels tags w/Nicholas and construction designs all over them for his new lunch accoutrement.  What could be more exciting?!

I'll tell you:  time to run, nap and maybe tackle that ever-growing laundry pile....scratch that order, how about:  nap....yeah, we will start there!

September 06, 2012

It's a bird, it's a plane...

it's an insanely huge Little Guy.  Oh, yes, I am at least temporarily allowed to call him that again.  "You can call me Little Guy," he thoughtfully stated tonight as I carried him. I also realize that it has been two years since Nick started at his Montessori school.

Remember this guy?

Or perhaps this one looks more familiar?

Nope, something still seems off...let's add a few inches.

Yep, there we have my little guy who is in pre-K for the Montessori set.  He will also start enrichment classes on Monday, so will end up attending school from 8:30 a.m. - 2:30 p.m. every day.  For those of you who think I am heartless and cruel, sending my wee bairn off for hours, remember:

  • He LOVES his school.
  • Montessori rocks (okay, I'm biased, I loved it as a kid).
  • There is a SLIM chance that I might take Spanish this year as yo quiero hablar espanol muy, well, you get the picture, I need a bit of work on my language skillz.
  • There is that whole I'm a single parent thing and this is pretty much the only time I have to clean the house, run, grocery shop, work in my 3 volunteer positions, do laundry, garden, maintain the cars, plan meals, and, of course, drink copious amounts of coffee in order to do all of the above.

So, there we have it.  There is my *Little Guy* who is still very much the same fabulous LG he has always been, just much, much, much taller.


September 04, 2012

She's got the look

of a high school freshman.  Seems like my wee one was just starting Montessori at the Kids Club and throwing out words like "Ombassy" and "Caracalus."  Now she is 14, 5'8" (?!) and very much her own person.  Her review of the first day?  "Okay."  Given I know that was not my review of my first day of high school, I'll take it.

Mind you, I had just asked her to smile. I know, I know...

It would not have surprised me if she slept in her patrol belt. So excited!

Now, I'm not that kind of super mom that actually remembers signs (and some are so fancy!) that you will have to take my word for it that Kelsey is a 5th grader.  As you can tell, she is also on Patrol this year.  She was very excited to be nominated and even had a training day (to include having to evacuate a turned over bus).  No word from her yet, as school is still in session!  Apparently, someone in the school system wants to keep us on our toes, so the school start/end times changed again.  She now gets out of school at 3:55 p.m.  To Cait's chagrin (since her bus showed up 5 minutes early at 6:35 a.m. today), Kelsey does not even get picked up for school until 8:50 a.m. (or so, since today was 9:10 a.m.).



See?! Never a dull moment here!

He might have been more excited about Kelsey's first day...

Then we have the Mister Mister and you will have to wait until tomorrow for the official photo. These are just unofficial fun photos since today was just "Meet the Teacher" day at his Montessori.  He has Mrs. D. for the third year in a row and starts afternoon enrichment this year (which will help me if I do get into Spanish at FSI).  To say he is excited is an understatement.  He kept his feelings in check today, but I think once I'm not hanging around, he is going to have a great time in his class.


Oh and the last picture?  Not to post and scare everyone half to death (the hair, I know, it's humid, okay?), but Nicholas took it and I thought it turned out quite nicely.  Well, besides me and my stylin' outfit, but there's always Photoshop.  

September 02, 2012

I'm either up for Mother of the Year or

....I'm going to stop there.  After the "nickedent" on Friday, Kelsey and I decided perhaps we would try the mini-golf at the National Building Museum on our own over the weekend.  She really, really, really wanted to go and I knew how disappointed she was at not finishing.  She was so kind about leaving on Friday that I hated to completely disappoint her. 

Given that the exhibition closes tomorrow, I found a sitter for Nick and we headed back into the city to our "meeting."  The sitter was the best possible idea as the line for the mini-golf was easily two hours long when we arrived.  We hemmed and hawed, walked around, looked at the $100 Fallingwater Lego kit in the museum gift shop and finally decided just to do it. Given that I didn't have to stress about Nick getting bored or tired, it seemed like the best option.  She also wanted to check on her Lego work of art, but I said nixed that idea.  Yes, I'm cheap (would have cost us an extra $10 just to enter the room).

Look carefully...recognize this map?

I bought tickets just for the golf, we got in line and I held our spot while catching up on emails with my writing group and the PTA.  Kelsey enjoyed making friends with other kids whose parents were in line while they built things with giant blocks.  The hall is so spacious that she could have opted to run laps and no one would have really noticed.

About two hours later (though it really didn't seem that long), we finally started our game.  I can't say it wasn't slow-going, but at least we weren't at the beach under a mosquito attack?  Slowly but surely, we putted on through until we finally hit upon a brilliant idea:  skipping a hole.  One hole was quite literally created from a skateboard ramp.  Not a big one, but let's just say it appeared to be challenging.  By the time we were in line for that hole, the back-up was easily 10 people...yet we were standing next to the following hole and no one was playing...so, we skipped it, played through and finished up in 15 minutes max.

So, was it worth the wait?  Yes, I have to say it was.  The architecture/design of the holes was really amazing.  Like the work in the Lego room, it really was something you had to see in person to believe.  Given that it's unlikely we'd have a chance to play again and I was able to have a good bit of one on one time with Kelsey (which is critical for kids during a UT), I'd say I'd do it again in a heartbeat (but bring a portable charger, as my phone nearly died while I was taking pictures...).

Now that she's seen all of this fabulous architecture, guess who is chomping at the bit for a field trip to Fallingwater (tickets are cheaper than the Lego set)?  Oh, gee, okay!