Sunday, May 30, 2010

I had a farm in Africa at the foot of the Ngong Hills...

A complete sucker for travel inspired movies, I completely am! When I was young it was Goonies, Lord of the Flies, Blue Lagoon, Swiss Family Robinson, Stand by Me, Romancing the Stone and more. And as an adult - Under the Tuscan Sun, Anna and the King, Out of Africa, Constant Gardener, Chocolate, Blood Diamond, Memoirs of a Geisha, Last Samuri. The lists could go on and on. I AM the world's easiest movie critic... just give me a dreamy story or great scenery.

Over the weekend, we received 2 books and a map on Bangladesh. You can't exactly walk in a bookstore and find much on this seldom touristy country. It's been 2 days, and I've almost read them cover to cover. The "Dangers and Annoyances" sections raised my eyebrows a bit, but no worries. Just jab us with every inoculation known to man, and we should be good to go. We'll also pack plenty of Charmin in our HHE.

But the pages and pages of words regarding the beautiful, good hearted and persevering people of Bangladesh has me eager. The lines reading "Yet within the flat framework are primeval swamps full of man-eating tigers, the unseen tribal groups with Burmese faces, glorious beaches that stretch for eternity, freshwater dolphins and deep-water whales, and some of the most openhearted people you will ever have the honor to meet. This is a country where genuine adventure is not just a possibility, but a certainty." per Lonely Planet.

Though we'll live in Dhaka, which won't exactly be full of nature and beauty, it will still be an adventure. And though trips to the Maldives, Nepal, Thailand, India and more will surely be on the agenda, so too will interior get-aways to enjoy Bangladesh's sites.

Bathroom trouble inevitability, mosquitos, crazy traffic and pollution aside, get in line for a visit!
We'll show you all we can of the amazing country we're excited to venture to this fall!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Really starting to feel like we've seen this UAB enough...

So since Miami got nixed, but our UAB was packed out, we had to wait a week to get it back.
Our scene looked like this (below left), while Ceiba had more in mind (below rt) at the rediscovery of her gone-for-a-week toys.

In the middle of it, Gma & Gpa were here instead of on a beach in Miami....sorry. We whirlwind unpacked and headed out to sightsee. More fam pics to follow this week.

My how we've grown...

(above left, 4 mos in Guatemala - above rt, 34 mos in DC)
(below left, 6 mos in IL - below rt, 34 mos in DC)

Friday, May 21, 2010

Great Falls N.P.

On Sunday morning, we took a drive (about 20 minutes) to Great Falls and were rewarded with BEAUTIFUL weather and scenery. Great Falls is on the Potomac River and is a very accessible National Park with 3 stunning lookouts on the Virginia side of the river.

Seems we always doddle leaving the house on the weekends and leave too close to naptime. So though we didn't stay as long as we would have liked, we had a great time. Great Falls is definately on the do-again-list, especially if we are still here when the leaves begin to turn in the fall.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Goodbye Miami... Hello Bangladesh!

Okay, so a little bitty change of plans as of yesterday (the day before graduation & 3 days after UAB pack out).

We are now moving to DHAKA, BANGLADESH instead of Miami!! So those who don't know where it is, get out your map and look between India and Burma/Myanmar.

Some reading may be saying "wow", as in "what in the world are you thinking?!". We are just saying "woo hoo"! The Foreign Service to us means - get out there and do it... overseas. Most know the idea of another 2-3 years stateside was NOT what we had in mind. So we are ecstatic!

Lots of details to work out, but stopped the UAB and HHE (that was coming out of storage) in its tracks yesterday. Told most of our friends and family. Chris's parents got the crazy news as soon as they got off the plane here in DC yesterday. A few more months of training now, but we should all stay put here in DC during that time. We are estimating being in Dhaka this fall.

Much more to come, as we find out!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Alexandria (take II)

Though it's a change of pace not having our own home (well to live in, we still technically own one back in IL), living in an apartment definately has perks when it comes to getting out. We've had a lot more free time to explore and enjoy outings as a family, even through the week sometimes.

We journeyed back to Alexandria this week, and the nice weather accomodated us.

 In the Alexandria marina, the Peacemaker (a beautiful sailboat built in Brazil) is currently anchored. They offer free tours and also host music on some evening. We enjoyed walking around the ship and admiring the amazing craftsmanship. It's really beautiful and will only be in town until this weekend, when it will sail north to Perth Amboy, NJ. You can read more about the Peacemaker at

Sunday, May 16, 2010


We've had a great chance to meet other Foreign Service people during our 2 month stay in DC. It's so great to talk to others in the same boat and hear what may be in store over the next years. Conversations about overseas posts and tricks of the trade are invaluable. My mind is a sponge when I hear about countries, customs or even how much toothpaste we might use in 2 years time. In addition to the fellow employees that Chris has met, I've gotten to meet several spouses and even went to a few ladies evenings to pow-wow about our roles in this crazy lifestyle. Ceiba's made several new friends and shared many hours in the local creek throwing rocks.
(above- classmates of Chris's with us at the Beach Shack)
(below- Ceiba and buddies A & M in the creek, mamas & baby N watching)

Another IL family and we hit it off from the start, the kind of friendship that could make itself right at home in your life. We spent our first week with them in the evening for pizza, drilling them with questions, and spent many hours on playgrounds, at lunch and shopping around town. As great as it is to meet new friends, it's already sad to leave. But along this road we have to look forward to the chance we'll cross paths again.
We already know not to have dramatic good byes, just "we'll see you later"s.
So T family, we look forward to seeing you later and wish you well until then :)

(above, Ceiba & A getting cozy at Ikea, N & J riding the train with us)

Familiar sights lately...

UAB was packed up on Friday. We'll still have a bit in the cars for the move, but it is definately nice to send 600 lbs of did-we-really-need-it stuff via air. As soon as we find a new temporary home in Miami, we'll see our stuff again... plus the almost 12,000 lbs of truck freight household goods. After being away from our HHE for a few months, we're feeling that we really don't need most of it either!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The end is near

After 7 months of training, graduation is next week. So this is the week of 0600-2330 days practicing details and all things incognito. For me, it's drone myself for hours while catching up on blogs, Facebook and other not terribly educational guilty pleasures. And I even painted my long (not working at a computer everyday anymore) fingernails, which is a rarity for me, but something Chris enjoys. I am not a real fru-fru girl, too much gardening and other hand worn projects usually to keep pretty nails.

I've been reading and looking at pics for too many hours on a fried brain after 48 hrs straight with our rambuntious kiddo. So nighty night :)

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Arlington National Cemetary ~ Starfish Legend

Over the weekend, we visited Arlington National Cemetary. We had intended to wait until next week when Chris's parents arrive, but decided to go now in case the weather didn't cooperate later. We were so proud of how quiet and well mannered Ceiba was while we walked and during the Changing of the Guard. I like to think she picked up on the vibes coming from both of us to be respectful. The fieldtrip groups... well, I would like to have done like my dad used to do to us if we peeped in church and THUMP them on the head with my wedding ring. It smarts!

I am really becoming an emotional basketcase as I age, to the point that "I didn't realize it was going to bother you so much" was said to me on the way home. All through school, I was the kid who never cried, but now am a tear streaked mess at the sight of a cemetary or war memorial. When we talk about overseas posts, in the back of my mind I always wonder how much the poverty and dire conditions of places may effect us. In travels, we've seen misfortune and sad situations, but I know what still lies ahead for our eyes to see is tenfold. It makes one appreciate their own good fortune and hopefully makes us follow through to make a difference or help where we can, however small a gesture may seem.

The Legend of the Starfish

A businessman was on vacation, walking along the beach, and saw a young boy.

All along the shore were starfish that had washed up from the tide, and were likely to die in the hot sun.

The boy walked along the shore, reached down here and there to pick up a starfish & toss it back into the ocean.

The businessman, so accustomed to efficiency, walked up to the boy to tell him about his nonsensical ways.

"I’ve noticed what you’ve been doing, son. You have a warm heart and I know you mean well, but there’s so many starfish dying on beaches all over the world. I’m sure you could do something better with your time.
Do you really think this is going to make a difference?"

The boy glanced up at the man, and looked down at a starfish by his feet. He picked up the beautiful starfish and tossed it back into the ocean, and said, "It made a difference to that one".

- adapted from "The Star Thrower" by Loren Eiseley (1907 - 1977)


Sunday, May 9, 2010

Happy Mama's Day, Mama

was the sweet little wake-up I heard this morning. Every couple minutes for the first hour she was up (thus the first hour we were ALL awake), she'd roll over from the cartoons and wish me a "Happy Mama's Day, Mama".

Parenting is kind of like having a puppy: that so cute/smell good/make you smile all the time stage that makes you wish they would stay that small. But then you realize you really want to see what they'll do next and who they'll become. Maybe you can just skip the few years where they'll embarass you by talking about farts or "POOP!" in public. Or the stage (currently) where they'll sternly tell their baby doll to "GO to BED!". I swear we don't say it like that! But then the next minute she'll put her baby on the potty or feed her with the sweetest gesture and most gentle voice. Or the soft "it's okay" when the baby doll is "crying". Although we ARE ready to grow out of the booty dance with a smack on her behind (thanks Deeta for the dance lesson that's imbedded in her memory!) which always happens to get modeled during a Skype session with Gma & Gpa. Ahh, toddlers!


So today for Mama's Day, we drove motorpool practice routes - good times! Honestly, our choice to go along for part of the day and see Papa in practice action. Impressive! Ceiba & I had a nice nap during the afternoon, while Papa continued more work. And in the evening we went to my new favorite VA restaurant, Clare & Don's Beach Shack, for yummy fried foods and key lime pie. If you're in the Falls Church VA area, you MUST check out this FL style restaurant. You'll feel like you're in Key West, and the food is great!

(l to r, Chris & Ceiba, Ceiba checking out the menu, Mama digging into the fried oysters)
(l to r, my fried oysters & rings- AWESOME, fried pickles, Chris's shrimp 3 ways)


Happy Birthday Papa!

Poor Chris has to share his birthday almost every year with Mother's Day. It's rare the 2 dates fall far from each other. Sorry honey.

Today he got to sleep in a bit, spend the day at the park with his biggest little admirer, have seafood for lunch, take a nice nap, have pizza delivered for dinner and enjoy grown up time in the evening. The day couldn't have been better unless we had jetted away to some exotic, palm treed island. There's always next year!

(l to r all Ceiba & Chris, redirecting the creek, looking at the crawdad, crossing the creek)

We love, love, love you!