Thursday, June 30, 2005


So I'm finally getting some other appointments set up. One is Jonathon's 4yo well-check and immunizations. It's not going well. We don't have a regular pediatrician in the area and now that we're leaving I'm stuck. Today I was basically laughed off the phone. Someone recommended an office and sure, the NoVA Pediatric Associates will take new patients, but there is no well-check appointment available for all of July. Not one.

Anyone have another recommendation?? Preferably someplace in Arlington? I have other recommendations for Vienna and Burke but there has to be someone closer who's dealt with Foreign Service types before.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Random Thoughts Again

This past Saturday was the 6 month anniversary of the Tsunami that devastated southeast Asia. Very little has gone back to normal there. The images make my heart hurt.

Oh, and....

Everyone should stop paying attention to Tom Cruise. Really. It's not good for you to give his opinion on -anything- any clout. Ignore him and maybe he'll go away. It's not that I care what he says about drugs or pregnancy or anything else. I don't care at all. What I don't get is how people are so riled up about what he has to say. He doesn't matter, why make him think he does?
Splashdown in Manassas is a fun water park. We went on Saturday but since I was playing too (especially in the lazy river), we have no photos. Not a one. Just trust me, it was fun. Nicholas was the only one who got a little toasted.
Each item that drops off our To Do list is replaced by three others. This is not fair.
Passports are very expensive.
I'm almost done with the journal from our New Zealand trip. It's been a year. Hopefully I can have the scrapbook done before we leave.
The girls had their last day of school on Friday and both passed to the next grade. This week we're continuing with light homeschooling. Both girls are registered for summer camp the third week in July. I'm hoping the boys will get off the waitlist too. I really could use those hours to clean, organize and purge this apartment without interruption.
Target should be banned. I am in a shopping frenzy.
Dinner with Dawn and Chris went well and it was nice to catch up with my old college roommate and talk about our semester abroad. We even showed off the Thailand photos. They are off to Italy for two weeks at the end of the month. Sweet! We had Jerry and Julie over for dinner this past Sunday and made it through a round of Scene It. I still don't like that game, but Ian does so I suffer through it. They are off to, uh, was it Ireland at the end of July? Hmm, Ireland or Scotland, but either one... sweet! How come we never get to go anywhere cool? Hee.
Walter (the guy in Iraq) is no longer in Iraq. His tour ended and he's off to Sydney for his next post. Yeah, he deserves it.
Ian tests in French tomorrow. Wish him luck, please!

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Rebecca is A-ok

Rebecca had her Echo done today. An innocent murmur is all that came up, the same one she had as a toddler and that will most likely remain with her. What a relief for her and for me.

Monday, June 20, 2005

We're back from Hershey Park

But first, before our trip details, a news story that also hits too close to home:

BBC news: A Canadian two-year-old boy has been killed at an international school in Cambodia where gunmen had taken dozens of pupils and teachers hostage. Police ended the siege by storming the school in Siem Reap, near the tourist site of Angkor Wat, officials say.

They say they have arrested four captors who had demanded $1,000, arms and a vehicle to take them to Thailand.

The children, aged between two and six, who come from the UK, US and countries in Asia, are now free.

Siem Reap is popular with tourists for the ancient monument of Angkor Wat. The town is relatively prosperous, compared to most of Cambodia - one of the poorest countries in South East Asia.

Kindergarten captives

Masked men armed with shotguns were said to have stormed the Siem Reap International School at about 0930 (0230 GMT). They seized two kindergarten classes, one of which was later released.

About 30 pupils and staff were held for several hours.

The children are reported to have come from Japan and several other Asian countries, Australia, the US and across Europe. One British child was among the hostages.

The Canadian child had been shot by captors before forces moved in, police said. The attackers killed him when officials declined to meet all demands, the information minister told the Associated Press. "They also threatened to kill the children one by one," Khieu Kanharith said.

But parents at the school said they saw armed officers enter the compound during the afternoon - and then they heard gunfire. Eyewitnesses spoke of chaotic scenes as pupils emerged and were reunited with anxious parents. Initial reports said there were six hostage-takers and two had died in the shoot-out. The motive for their attack is still unclear. Diplomatic sources believe Thursday's incident may have been a robbery that had gone wrong.

Acts of terrorism are extremely unusual in Cambodia, the BBC's Guy Delauney reports from the capital, Phnom Penh.

Now on to our regularly scheduled lives...
My mom's office sponsored a trip to Hershey Park, PA so she invited us to go. And we did. The office provided breakfast, transportation by bus, and lunch. My mom treated us to the park tickets so all we had to do was have fun.
Nicholas passed on the log flume (which is probably a good thing as it was considerably higher than the two he's already been on), but the girls and Ian went on twice and came out soaked down to their toes. There's a handy wall at the bottom of the flume that catches the spray and turns it right back on the boat. Nicholas also flaked out of the tube water slide and neither of the boys were big enough for the Comet coaster the girls rode. But the boys had plenty of fun of their own. The park is well laid out with little rides sprinkled throughout so while big kids are at one ride, we could be a few steps away at those annoying round-n-round-n-round rides that little guys love so much.
Oddly enough, the favorite ride was the Hershey "Factory" Tour, with the free chocolate bar at the end. And of course we all chose bags of candy and chocolates of our own at the shops. Hershey has so many options we hadn't seen before. White chocolate Reese's? Dark chocolate Kisses? Yes, please.
The weather was perfect, the kids had a blast. My mom went on the rapids ride, we all got souvenirs. We even remembered sunscreen.
Though we did fail in one aspect as parents. We only made three of the four kids cry. Nicholas... when he'd waited through the entire line to go on the water slide, then changed his mind. Katherine... when she left grandma's sweater behind (we did recover it). Rebecca... when a 3D game thing (hard to describe) caused Ian to punch her in the mouth. Jonathon was unscathed.
I will say this too for Hershey Park. The food is great. Maybe it was because we were so hungry, but I don't think so. We ate at the Factory Food Court, with soups and sandwiches and pizza the seven of us ate and drank for $40. Not cheap but hey, there -were- seven of us and that's less than $6/person at a park.
The bus ride back was quiet, even with The Incredibles blaring on the TVs. Jonathon conked out about 9:30 but all the others toothpicked their eyes open in order to watch it. I decided after my second viewing that I like that movie even less than I thought. Definitely not a kids film, IMO. I wish they'd finished showing SpongeBob, or even had reshown Finding Nemo.
Today Nicholas asked if we could go back so he could go on the Factory Ride again.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005


We're stuck between not doing much of anything and not knowing which end is up. That may seem like a contradiction in terms, but anyone stuck in this place knows what I'm saying.

There is so much to do. But it's not -doing- stuff, it's stuff that has to be done. I don't need to build a house or fix a car with my two hands. That would be -doing- something. Instead, I'm sitting here thinking of all the things that must be done that basically require me... to sit here.
Our consumables catalog arrived. Only 6000+ items to go through, keeping in mind cost and weight when ordering. I'm at item #3268: Heinz Ketchup, 36oz sq btls, 12 count, $37.07 My eyes are crossing as I figure out what brand and size of every conceivable American food. If it were just me going, 95% of these items wouldn't be coming with us, but I have to account for everyone's tastes and while I may not want some of these items, five other people do. Granted most of our shipment will be snack foods. Bad for you, indulgent foods which are scoffed at by those who believe living off the local economy and eliminating all that nasty Oreo goo from one's diet is the true way to experience a new culture.
Yay for them. More Oreos for us.
So I sit here with an Excel window open, marking this or that to be shipped to West Africa. I promise not all 2500 pounds will be Oreos.
I have three pages of reminders pasted to the wall in front of me, next to the calendar that is also about 2/3 filled with little notes. I work better with lists so they're everywhere and broken down into
Thing to Get
Things to Do in June
Things to Do in July
Things to Do in August
Items to Mail Ahead
Pack in UAB
Pack in HHE
Pack in Suitcases for Homeleave
Pack in Suitcases for Plane
We leave the States August 29th but our trips start July 29th. Our apt is being packed up the 26th of July, just 6 weeks from now.
School is finally wrapping up as well. The girls get out June 24th, end of next week. Tonight begins the seemingly neverending Last Days of School Activities. Tonight is the ice cream social and book swap, tomorrow is Rebecca's music program, on Monday is the 10th Anniversary celebration, Tuesday is the 3rd grade picnic and Author's Tea, Thursday is Awards Ceremony and of course Friday is early release last day. One day in there also is Rebecca's picnic but the notice didn't say which day, just asked for money. That irked me a bit.
So once school is out I wanted to put the kids into summer camp for a week in July. A SummerFest program for the girls and a Tots program for the boys. Somehow, I never saw the booklet until a few weeks ago, but registration started the first week in April, so all four kids are on the wait lists. The girls have a passing chance at getting in, waitlisted #2 and #3. The boys... are #5 and #6. I'm not hopeful. It's my own fault though since I wasn't on the ball. Cross your fingers that it works out.

Wednesday, June 8, 2005

Stories like this hit a little too hard.


FORT MYERS, Florida (AP) -- A 6-year-old girl darted into traffic to save a turtle and was killed when she was hit by a car, officials said.

Emily Kent was riding with her mother Sunday when they spotted the turtle trying to cross busy U.S. 41.

Geraldine Kent pulled over so they could help, and Emily jumped out as her mother screamed at her to wait, friends said. The first-grader was struck by a car and died of her injuries. No charges had been filed.

"I've had a lot of drivers swerve to avoid a raccoon or another animal and wreck their cars," said Sgt. Owen Keen of the Florida Highway Patrol. "I've never had anyone go to help an animal and get run over."

Friends and family said Emily was an animal lover who would often try to catch turtles and snakes and never went far without her dog, Alexis.

Sunday, June 5, 2005

Seeing People

Seems like we've been seeing lots of people lately. I know that's part of the point of homeleave time, and lucky us get 6 months with training, but it's a little odd for us to cram in weekend after weekend of seeing people we haven't seen in months or years.

The people we see the most (aside from my parents and Jeff), oddly enough are the people we knew at post in Manila. One night we had dinner at a Japanese restaurant in Rosslyn with about 15 other folks. Then today we had lunch at Fortune Chinese on Rt 50 with almost 30 other Manila folks.
Last night we had dinner with Doug and Diane, folks we know from Saint Michael's but also because Diane is Filipino and we went to a birthday party for one of her kids while we were in Manila. Their house was loads of fun for our kids, with a great yard and plenty of toys. The food was great too and we even had some specialty Starbucks from the Philippines.
From other parts of our lives, last weekend, Elise came down from PA with her kids to visit. We went to the playground and while we shivered in the unreasonably chilly and drippy weather, we chatted about this and that. We also learned today that Elise is expecting baby #3. Big congrats to her and family! And this coming weekend we plan to have Dawn and her husband over for dinner on Saturday. Dawn was a roommate of mine in college, and she'll be coming down from Baltimore.

Friday, June 3, 2005

What crummy weather

But crummy weather doesn't stop First Grade field trips. All the chaperones timidly poked their heads into the classroom, hoping without saying it out loud, that the trip was canceled. But no, we boarded the bus and took the 10 minute ride to Potomac Overlook Regional Park.

I don't get to go on many field trips nowadays. It's against policy to allow younger siblings along, so unless the trip is on a Friday when grandma helpfully takes care of the boys, I wish the girls well and know they're having fun anyway. But Rebecca has been asking me to go on a field trip with her the entire school year and finally it worked out. It worked out so well in fact that my parents agree to take the boys last night, keep them all day and again tonight. I think they're doing OK and that Nicholas will make it through tonight as well. Tomorrow morning they're all coming back in time to go to the farmer's market in the morning.
My mom thinks that Rebecca's obnoxious tendencies stem from not enough personal attention. Perhaps she's right, but overall Rebecca is still as loud and "obnoxious" even when it's one-on-one time with mom. The difference is that she's got my full attention and is trying to look good in front of her friends, whereas at home with her siblings she's just being annoying.
Becca is a complicated person. The same child who has difficulty reading her assignments and following two sentences of homework directions can listen to an entire chapter from a story and pull out one piece of vital information. Or she will blurt out puzzling thoughts that then confound the adults in the family. Most recently we were driving in the car and ourt of nowhere she asked that if Adam and Eve were the first people, did that make them cavemen? And from that stemmed questions about how spoken language came about when cavemen didn't speak the way we do. Was the alphabet created to tell stories? We discussed the early stories that were never even written but told from one generation to the next (it tied in nicely with Katherine's recent section on Ancient Mali) along with drawn stories on cave walls.
The thing with Rebecca is that she does -nothing- unless it suits her. If there is some gain for her, she will participate, help out, share her knowledge. Otherwise, she is stubborn and difficult, without exception. I don't really know how to deal with that and for this reason, we have a hard time getting along. It's the times she amazes me with her insight that keep me going each day with her. I don't think it's the lack of one-on-one that has made her behave the way she does. Besides her reward currency (doing something only for something in return) she is a stickler for rules and regulations. That doesn't always jive with the daily life of a family of 6, ideas or plans and such things as bad weather.
But today things worked out and we went to Potomac Overlook Regional Park. It's raining, it's cold (barely 60, but remember it's also June 3rd), the nature center was damp and had that smell buildings do that house plenty of stuffed pelts and turtle tanks. The kids were very well-behaved including my little pack which included Becca, Alex (one of the twins), Ariana (a lovely, well-spoken girl) and Amirkhon (yes, pronounced American). The naturalists gave a short talk about the differences between nature circles (tree rings, the sun) and nature cycles (water cycle, tree growth cycle) and I was amazed how much these 6 and 7yo knew and understood about energy (what changes a circle into a cycle) and recycling. Rebecca learns very well from listening and doing, rather than reading, so her time at the Science school should really affect her overall learning.
After another segment about predators and food chains where various pelts were brought out for the kids to compare and touch, the class was free to investigate the nature center, among its exhibits were honeybees and baskets of animal feathers/skully/claws. Two turkey feet became a favorite as kids pulled their sleeves down over their hands and let the turkey feet protrude instead.
Because of the rain the trip was cut short. Normally the classes are taken on a hike to see deer and other animals in their natural habitat, but today we all ate lunch then boarded the bus back to school. With the rest of the day scheduled for math and social studies I dropped Rebecca off in her classroom, said a quick hello to a "not feeling well" Katherine, then hoped that the car was where I left it since I couldn't recall locking the doors. I'm home so obviously it was OK. My cell phone did disappear though. I don't think any of the First Graders took it, so hopefully it just slipped out somewhere easy to track down.