Sunday, August 12, 2018

Dog update

Mokka has been with us almost a year and she's come a long way.

When we got her she was scared of...

The hallway
Loud noises
Quiet noises
The outside in general
Weather in general
Everything else

Things she was not scared of...

The cats

Now, she is no longer scared of...

The hallway
Loud noises
Quiet noises
The outside in general
Weather in general

*She has a dog friend in the building!  A 9 year old pup she gets so excited to see.  It's adorable.  She still doesn't like all other dogs. Puppies freak her out.

She's come so far!

I don't know that baths will ever be her favorite, and we took her to the dog beach for the second time today and she still doesn't like that water either, or all the other dogs wandering around.  And she doesn't care at all for rain.  I sense a theme.

She knows how to sit, lay down, jump up, spin, shake, stay, and is learning roll over.  She knows she's not allowed in the master bedroom and the kitchen, but there are places outside each room that she likes to lay where she can see what's going on. Yes, she goes on the furniture.  But she's better about the cats (and the cats are better about her).

She knows when it's frisbee day and that she'll get to go to the park and run around like a crazy thing.

She knows the time of day and gets really irritating when it's food time. Actually she gets really irritating a lot of times when she wants attention.  I haven't figured out how to get her to stop pawing us for attention. A cat pawing is cute and soft, a dog pawing leaves marks.

She has a stuffed pig.

She'll do anything for a piece of string cheese.

She's still learning to be a dog.  She doesn't know how to chase a ball, is completely uninterested in sticks, and rarely doesn't know what to do with the rest of her toys unless it's stuffed with a treat... or is her pig.  She really likes her squeaky pig.

All in all, though, she's a good pup.

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Next Post: Baghdad

With our youngest graduating high school in June 2019 and a position in Baghdad opening up summer 2019, we figured now was a good time to throw in our hat. It sounds simple enough.  And then reality sets in.

We have 4 pets.  Why?  Oh, good question, but irrelevant at this point.  Four pets that need to go somewhere for a year since they can't come to Baghdad.  Not even one cat to keep us company.  We have plans for all the pets.

We have one kid who has graduated college but doesn't have a full-time job yet.  She's working on it, and we hope that by winter time she'll be all squared away. 

Another kid is planning to move off campus at the end of the 2018-2019 school year.  She'll have the dog by then and we wanted to be there to help her move.  It's flexible.

Another has enlisted in the Marines and should be graduating boot camp next April in South Carolina.  We wanted to be there for that.  We will be there for that.

The youngest graduates on 1 June 2019 and has the whole summer 2019 to fill before going to university, wherever he goes.

Germany is interesting - it doesn't allow families to stay in-country if the direct hire isn't at post.  It is not a safe-haven country.  So the day that Ian leaves is the day the rest of us leave.

Here's where it gets really interesting.

The youngest graduates on 1 June.  That's immovable.  Home leave (required at the end of each tour, or after 2 years if the tour is 4 years, consultation days and holidays are not included) is a minimum of 20 unworked work days - a full month.  You can try to wriggle it a little bit like take training first, or get it shortened a few days, but on the whole it is non-negotiable.  We arrived in Frankfurt at the end of July in 2016 and are given roughly 30 days on either side of that date in 2019 for departure, but that is flexible though it requires some hoop-jumping for HR.

So... when we bid on this job, we expected that we would leave on 2 June... do homeleave and training... and arrive to the next post mid-July.

The person he's replacing leaves in June.

We've been informed, in no uncertain terms, that gaps at post are not allowed.  For any reason.  Ever.

Ian is the only one that matters when it comes to timing of stuff - getting his home leave done, getting to post.  If I could stay in Germany with Jonathon after Ian left to get through exams and graduation, I would, but as far as I know I can't.

I'm open to suggestions on how this is supposed to work.

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

We're melting and we've been melting for weeks.

So hot.

So hot.

The pets are wearing fur coats and are melting worse than we are.  99F outside and no a/c inside. Some rooms have fans.

So hot.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

What. A. Week+. Part 6

And even further back to May 20th.... This one graduated college!
We were able to fly back, and take her out to Morton's afterwards with the grandparents.

Now it's on to finding a job :)  

What. A. Week+. Part 5

Nicholas had his enlistment ceremony for the Marines! 13 June 2018

He won't ship out until 2019, but he's signed on the dotted line, so no backsies...

What. A. Week+. Part 4

Ian ran Trivia Night! 12 June 2018

Roughly every three months we have Trivia Night at the Fieldhouse. This time, my mom, Katherine, and Jonathon, were parceled out to teams.  None of their teams won.  Proof that we don't cheat!

What. A. Week+. Part 3

We hosted a BBQ picnic! 9 June 2018

Mokka made friends with Isabella.

Root beer floats are da'bomb.  Don't use diet root beer.

What. A. Week+. Part 2

Nicholas graduated from Wiesbaden High School! 10 June 2018

The Kurhaus is beautiful.  It's no Jerash, but it'll do.

What. A. Week+. Part 1

The Washington Capitals won the Stanley Cup.
It only took 43 years.

Monday, May 7, 2018

Did I also forget The Hague?

My boss and I went to a conference in The Hague.  The conference was fine.

The beach was better!

Along an inlet were little coves - dog beach!

Frites. Mayo. Fish nuggets.

Easter chocolate at Hop en Stork.

De Passage - Indoor Shopping UNESCO Monument

A little too far back?
My favorite piece at Mauritshaus was The Goldfinch.  And if I ever go back, I'd like to visit the Escher Museum.

Did I forget Poland?

The CLO did a trip.  Primarily because the CLO wanted to go Polish pottery shopping.  And there's no better reason to arrange a trip!

We stayed here, you should too.

Manufaktura factory tour followed by pottery painting.
We should get these back soon after they are fired.

My purchases!

The food was awesome as expected.

The Poland Pierogies!

They did it! "Miracle on Ice" style!

Image may contain: 4 people, people smiling, text

Sunday, March 25, 2018

History has its eyes on you, part 2

Who runs the world?

These guys.

The youth have been awoken, and with them is coming a wave.  I have no doubt it will take time - a lot of time. I have no doubt it's going to be painful.  I have no doubt there will be setbacks, some major.  I fear there will be losses.

I have no doubt they will not stop.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

History has its eyes on you

Lin-Manuel Miranda and his team have created magic. It was worth every penny to go to London to see "Hamilton."

My next step... reading Ron Chernow's biography of Hamilton, the book that started the movement. 

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

If I could choose a dinner-party guest list for today...

In no particular order...

Michelle Obama, I guess Pres Obama could come too ;)
Lin-Manual Miranda and his wife, Vanessa - she must be amazing. I'd also have his parents over.
Jon Stewart and Tracey, as long as they bring a rescue goat, amirite?
Maisie Williams - does she have an SO?  I don't even know. Who cares! She's awesome.
Wes Johnson and his wife, Kim, who must also be amazing. Rock the Red!
Phillip Morrison, with a painting please! I know which one...
Ben Whishaw, the more I see him in, the more I love him.
Ed Sheeran. can you see Ed and Lin-Manual togetherr? I can.

I can dream.

Thames Embankment at Low Tide

For ever, Londoners, and those before, tossed their unwanted items into the Thames.  Well, I'm sure some of the items were lost into the Thames, or even, um, disposed of into the Thames. For years I've read about "mudlarking" - the search for history among the rocks and dirt. This visit, as we made our long way to the Bridge Theater on foot, I saw that the tide was out, and we were right by a set of steps leading down to the mud. It was time to check for treasures.

We didn't find any pipes or shoes or coins or....


I hope our HomeAway hosts weren't too freaked out.  We left a note with the bag that said where we'd found them and suggested they perhaps see what mammal (we hope it's an animal mammal) they originated from.

That's not creepy.  Right?

Sunday, March 18, 2018

London with the family

I recognize that our times of gathering as a family of 6 are going to be harder to come by. For now, there's an assumption that summers and winter holidays are ours, but how long will this last? For this trip we flew in from Germany, Becca from Savannah, and Katherine from DC.

In January of 2017 Ian was online purchasing "Hamilton" tickets through the lottery.  March 2018 finally arrived and we gathered in London. Suffice to say that if you have the opportunity to see "Hamilton," please do.

There is not a single thing I can critique in Lin-Manuel Miranda's show.  It is remarkable from first note to last.  I can critique the production we saw - I felt like there was intensity lacking in some performances (especially in the first act), Aaron Burr  and Angelica Schuyler were awesome, the actor who played Lafayette played a better Jefferson, Eliza was never happy. But of course YMMV depending on which production you see... I'd like to get tickets someday to the one in NY and compare.

The next night we saw Shakespeare's "Julius Caesar" at the Bridge Theater. For me, it was a completely unique experience as far as shows go. Where "Hamilton" was awesome for its simple existence, "Julius Caesar" was awesome for its retelling and the actors - Michelle Fairley (Catelyn Stark, GoT), Ben Whishaw (Q, Bond), and David Morrissey (the Governor, Walking Dead). I'd never read the play and the language is still a earful, but it was enthralling.

Between our shows we took in London. The Faraday & Daley exhibit at the Royal Institution. Walked along the Thames embankment during low tide looking for treasures. A drawing evening at the National Portrait Gallery. Three escape rooms!  Found one of the Four Winters ice cream shops. Ate fish & chips and steak & ale pie at pubs. Wandered through Covent Garden. Revisited platform 9 3/4. London cooperated with great weather for walking and oyster cards made using the underground super easy.

Our flat was in Chelsea.  A basement apartment, it needs some serious updating, but it was comfortable and fit all of us, which is a feat.

I love that we can do this kind of thing.  I know not everyone can and we're lucky. I hope these are memories my kids will recall for years to come.

Saturday, February 3, 2018


It's fascinating to see what 23andMe comes back with.  Yes, we know - don't use it as a medical guide.  Yes, we know, it's not hard and fast as daily more information comes out - new markers are found, new genes are untangled.

It's no surprise that we're both over 99% European descent. Ian is 85% northwestern European and 46% of that comes from Britain/Ireland, which makes sense - his research has pegged his first American ancestor as a boy on a boat from England in the 1600s. I am 47% from northwestern Europe  (minus the boy on the boat, that side came over with the French to Canada, my paternal grandfather crossed the river into Madawaska, Maine and stayed there), but no surprise that I'm also 32% Eastern European. My maternal grandmother came over from Poland and my maternal grandfather was from the former Czechoslovakia.

Ian and I shared our data and we have no identical DNA segments. Woohoo!

Friday, February 2, 2018

Bruges is beautiful

One morning we Segway-ed our way around town. A highlight of our tour was a stop at the oldest still working pub, the Vlissinghe. It's 502 years old, and little in it has changed. Tucked away down a narrow pedestrian alley with no signage other than what's over the door, our guide asked if we wanted to stop in. It was the best decision (though it took backtracking to get there, sorry Ian!). Chocolate was originally only offered as a drink (we learned a lot at the Choco-Story museum) so I partook of a fantastic hot chocolate while thawing my toes at the ancient heater, and Ian had - wait for it - a Hoegaarden Rosee.  We drank a lot of beer.

But of course most of the time we walked and walked and walked, because the old town of Bruges is lovely with tons of little alleys, hidden nooks, photogenic canals, and inspiring architecture.

Couple all this with fruit and lambic beers that match beautifully with rich, dark chocolate, and Bruges is really a heavenly place to visit.