Friday, August 8, 2014

CA & MA & VA

Aug 1: fly Amman to London to DC.  British Airways lost all 6 checked bags in London.  Crashed overnight in Annandale, VA

Aug 2: stock basic stuff for carryon travel (i.e. underwear), fly to L.A.

Aug 3: several mall visits for clothes, lunch at Olive Garden

Aug 4: visit UCSB, lunch at In-n-Out Buger, wandered through SB and the wine tasting zone, see our college friend, Linda

Aug 5: Warner Bros lot tour, picked up suitcases that were FedExed to us, lunch at Lenny's Diner with FS friend, Brian, visited Santa Monica Pier

Aug 6: Visit to USC, L.A. Live with lunch at Smash Burger, Hollywood walk of fame

Aug 7: LMU visit, mall time, lunch at Del Taco, Sony Studios lot tour with our college friend, Linda, dinner at ColdStone

Aug 8: La Brea tar pits, lunch at The Counter, tried to go to Griffith Observatory but it was packed, so on to Universal City Walk

Aug 9: Venice Beach, lunch with Brian and Jen, kids watched a bikini show, drove around UCLA, to airport and the freezing Admirals lounge for the redeye to Boston

Aug 10: arrive Boston (with luggage!), breakfast at IHOP, Boston ComicCon, find houseboat

Aug 11: Tour Boston University, dinner at Longhorn Steakhouse

Aug 12: Swan boat ride at Boston Public Garden, visit Robin Williams memorial at "Good Will Hunting" bench, walked a chunk of the Freedom Trail, dinner at Durgin Park with Jerry, Julie, and kids at Faneuil Hall

Aug 13: rain and more rain.  Toured Emerson College, lunch at Panera, "Guardians of the Galaxy"

Aug 14: Cambridge and wander around Harvard.  The rain stopped.

Aug 15: Drive south.  Stopped in Hoboken, NJ for some Carlo's Bakeries treats, wandered store to store looking for "Dead Poet's Society," which is unavailable in any store or on-line, arrived in Hershey, PA

Aug 16: Hershey Park.  All kids are Jolly Ranchers now.  Reminder: never ever go to an amusement park on a Saturday in summer.

Aug 17: drove to Annandale, VA.

Aug 18: Jonathon's 13th birthday, Harper's Ferry Adventure Park for Aerial Park, hunted for minigolf, ChikFilA, bowling (Becca's 4 X in a row!), Trappist jams, sushi place that ended up being a Korean restaurant

Aug 19: shopping at Target for college, Tysons Corner

Aug 20: moved Katherine in to her dorm, lunch at Taco Bell, skating and Coldstone at Kettler

Aug 21: parent info day at college - all day, Blackfinn Pub

Aug 22: Becca, gma, and M back to BJs and Tysons, Ian ordered a suit and glasses

Aug 23: DSW for successful shoe shopping, Ian and Nicholas at Nats game with Gooden/Heltons

Aug 24: pool time with Diane and girls

Aug 25: Becca and Nicholas out with Nick and Alex, J with us to Alexandria, ferry to National Harbor, PEEPs!, dinner at Cintron home

Aug 26: Potomac Mills for final shopping push, Becca overnight with Alison

Friday, July 25, 2014

This shouldn't be happening

During PCS (permanent change of station) season, dreams flood my nights.  Stories of rushing water, fear, heights, loss of people, loss of items, loss of control.  Last night was one of those, a little different than the others (each PCS has common threads), but with the same sense of loss of control.

Last night's involved packing up all out worldly belongings and sending them off, but for our bags in the car.  The car we drove off until... we didn't.  The car was stolen, along with the last of our belongings.  And our household good were lost as well.  We ended up at what felt like the old Seiling house.  They had moved on, yet their home was full of items including closets packed full of clothes, all in order of color.  Jenna has a lot of clothes.  I recall felling panicked about finding a piece to wear, not only to fit but more to not offend Jenna. The rooms had decorations on the walls and furniture on the floor.  Our kids meandered the sprawling villa, pulling out odds and ends, and then the school bus... why it was a school day and the kids had to catch the bus, who knows.

The only problem is we're not PCSing next week. I shouldn't have any worries about this trip, right? It's a month-long mid-tour home leave and we're coming back.

I hope.

No really, things can turn on a dime here and last August we were looking at an authorized departure at Post so...

We hope to see you again, Amman.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Once again in the snack aisle.

Boot Camp for Little People

A themed week each year at summer camp is Boot Camp, run by the Marines.  At the end they show what they've learned.

Another step closer

This is what about 250lbs of stuff looks like.  It's not much, 3 boxes of mostly clothes, bedding, some books, winter gear, a few things for the walls, a Keurig... plus the weight of the packing materials and boxes themselves.  We hope to see it all again at the end of August when she moves in to her dorm.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

A 40th to Remember

So the day started off normal.  Yeah, my birthday, big 4-oh, OK, let's move along.  Thought about going to Starbucks but didn't, arrived at work with the whole family in tow... Ian and K off to their jobs, R and J off to camp, N hanging around, heard lots of Happy Birthday!s, one of our awesome summer hires made brownies, my coCLO took over the tedious briefing we do on Tuesdays, checked email, etc. etc.

Took Rebecca to the dentist for some xrays as she's been having headaches related to jaw pain and it looks like the wisdom teeth might be a problem. Back to the Embassy.  Lunch.  CoCLO went off to the housing tour, another regular Tuesday tedium, again taking it off my plate while I agreed to head to the housing meeting that follows after.

And then about 1:30 p.m. this happened:

No, this was not a drill.  Annie in our office is a First Responder and suited up due to a questionable powder in the Consular Section.  Yeah.  The Consular Section.  Over the next hour I heard many times "Ian isn't in there, he's outside."  People watch out for each other here.  I was stuck in the North Chancery and told not to move, until the DCM came through and asked me to walk with her.  For the remainder of the day I was in the AECSA building worrying about the summer camp kids who'd been pulled from the pool and congregated in the Oasis, and then the folks who were heading to decontamination.

Hours upon hours later, after summer camp kids were corralled and managed and finally sent off home with parents, after more than half of the Consular section was scrubbed down, after Jordanian Civil Defense came in and samples were taken and extra clothes were scrounged and med visits were completed, the All Clear came through. Thank goodness, because anything else would have resulted in practically the entire Embassy getting scrubbed. Annie was exhausted, Beth and I were wiped.  I apologized to Annie for the one time I answered her cell phone and heard the cake shop saying that the ice cream cake was ready.  Oops.  Surprise busted.  It'll have to happen tomorrow. I still need to get a photo of the awesome sign over our door. I have The Best Office.

Honestly, I felt useful this birthday. I was glad to be part of something that mattered. And these two women are pretty cool.  I treated them to Krieks, straight from the co-op fridge.  Yes, I even drank most of mine, even though I "never" drink.   Because it was quite a day. I guess it's time to change that to "hardly ever."

They even got me a gift.  Which I ADORE.  It seems that the people around me almost know me better than I know me.  Which is pretty amazing since I don't share much.  I guess they're more perceptive than I am.  Or maybe I share more than I think.

Heading home, discussion went around - where to go for dinner?  Seriously, it's Ramadan and Ian was worn out and I just wanted a shower and comfy PJs.  Ian ordered in Chinese for the kids and sushi for us which was truly perfect.  Just me and my family, who totally rocked today. I answered questions, sent email and FB updates, gave guidance, got supplies, and offered assistance. Katherine kept her cool and helped the Marines find the stash of SCAPE hoods near my office when she couldn't get to her office or get off compound, and promptly got off compound when she could leave.  Rebecca was up with the summer camp kids and helped keep them in order well past their pick up time. Jonathon and Nicholas stayed out of the way and followed directions.  Ian did what he did best - assess, give guidance, and keep calm. No panicking by anyone.

After sushi I got even more gifts.  How to Train Your Dragon dragons (from the middle kids, these will grace my desk)! A "Hodor" sweatshirt (from Katherine... Hodor Hodor Hodor!) And a new iPhone (since mine doesn't hold a charge for more than a few hours anymore).

It's funny, not in a Ha-Ha funny but in a How About That funny, that just this morning I was continuing my EAC (emergency action committee) FSI training and updating our office phone tree.  I'd been thinking we hadn't had an incident in a couple months, and much like earthquakes around the world, it felt like one was overdue. I'm truly glad the end result was "All Clear."

And I'll never forget when I turned 40.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Happy 41!!

To celebrate with his Consular section... all his minions.

And some sushi for his day.  We went to Oobe', a place highly recommended by many (but honestly?  Not by us, we won't go back.)

Another cake at home, with some relighting candles courtesy of Jonathon.  They not only relight, they spark and smoke something fierce.

Wadi Rum and Coke from Becca!

And Game of Thrones coasters from Katherine!  I claim Stark.

Jonathon got him new earbuds, Nicholas - a box of dark-chocolate-covered-espresso-bean-stuffed dates.  If you have to do Ramadan dates, these are the way to go.

Happy birthday, sweet heart.  I love you.