Monday, August 30, 2010

911... what's your emergency?

So a regular trip to the pool on Sunday aftenoon led to an eventful afternoon. Chris and Ceiba were in the water, while I sat in the sun (after being the Round 1 parent for the first duration in the cold water). There was another family in the pool and our lifeguard Camelia. A loud pop sounded from the pool room. Camelia went to check it out, and a canister had burst, sending hazardous chlorine gas into the room. The gas hit her as she opened the door, pushing her back and taking her breath away. We all quickly got out of the pool and rounded up children to the courtyard, while my well trained First Responder husband checked out Camelia's exposure and got her away from the pool. She called her company and the fire alarms started ringing through the complex.

With amazing response time, the fire department arrived. We could hear them race through town and park in the front of the building. Chris stabilized Camelia and had some others neighbors stay with her while he went into the building to meet the firefighters. The hallways had filled with gas and people were coming out with teared eyes, mostly acting oblivious to the alarms and not getting away from the building. One guard even came straight to the pool door and began to open it before we all yelled to stay back. He met the firefighters, briefed them and took them to the courtyard.

Chris is a cool cucumber, always has been. His years of experience and training have him very prepared for emergencies and tense situations, from vehicle accidents to a three year old bleeding from bouncing off the bed onto the corner of a nightstand (our previous evening). My job while he's putting out fires? To be one less thing on his mind. To be out of harm's way with a child on my hip... and my mouth shut. This I can do :)
So as the firemen & hazmat team worked, EMS checked out Camelia (who is fine, thank goodness), while the complex occupants sat on the curb and chatted and we... sat in our swimwear in front of them... with no car keys...or wallets...or cell phones. After the all clear, the firemen tested our apartment, since it touches the poolroom which was hazardous minutes before. We went home, changed clothes and went out for dinner (since we WAY missed ours which was thawing on the counter).

And Ceiba slept in our room for a night, in a pillow-blanket bed in the corner made for a queen. She was nestled in and asleep in no time at all. Glad the day ended with everyone safe and sound. And always glad to have our crisis intervention expert doing his best to keep us all out of harm's way.

Smithsonian Museum of the American Indian

Sunday we drove downtown to see the Smithsonian Museum of the American Indian (
From the street, the building always looked nice, but up close, it is really beautiful. Made of limestone and flanked by flowing water, it is a very serene and peaceful place.
We enjoyed walking around, catching snip-its of exhibits while entertaining a 3 year old. The Pacific Northwest, Mississippi Valley and Central America exhibits were especially interesting. They have a large collection of clay/terra cotta pieces and beautiful gold adornments and early coins, as well as weapons.

There was a great area dedicated to Mexico's Dias de las Muertos, the Day of the Dead, a custom I'm very interested in. Ceiba was able to see some history of her native Maya Indians, while we also heard of my Cherokee roots. Chris enjoyed pointing out which arrowheads were similar to those he'd found back in Illinois and Missouri. And the Tlingit and First Nations art and tools reminded us of our time in Alaska.

It's a great place to make you remember how much history and culture the Americas encompass.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Camera woes

From the time I was little, I've loved to take pictures. Borrowing the old square film camera for field trips was a treat, and you could never have too many blurry pictures of giraffes.

My "good" camera had being on the fritz and then took a spill a back in June. It went to the local shop, sat there almost 2 months, came back unrepaired and is now out to the warranty company (thank goodness I bought the warranty for once) who just notified me they had to send it to the manufacturer. UG. So by the time I get it back, IF I get it back since it's a Minolta which is now Sony, we'll probably be well settled on the other side of the planet.

Here's hoping my new point and shoot can hang with the big boys until then!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Oakwood and Victor

When we arrived in Virginia, the main Oakwood (often lovingly referred to as the mothership or Oakhood) was full. With no objections, we were moved to another temporary housing location, which we LOVE.  At the main Oakwood, it's pretty much a given that 99% of the people you meet are there for the same reason you are. The case is different where we live. So unless we walk around in a State Dept shirt or ask every person we meet who they work for (a little peculiar habit without scaring people off), it can be hard to meet other FS families.

During cool weather, we would go to the main Oakwood to play and meet people. It gave us a change of venue and offered a better opportunity to make friends. That carried through until summer, when their pool was warmer than ours, so again we went. Until this week, we hadn't gone over to the main Oakwood for a while. Most of our friends had left for post, and our pool had warmed up. The starvation for information during our first months here had waned or been fulfilled, so the yearning to make friends and get information wasn't the factor it had previously been.

While we enjoyed playing (while trying to avoid construction areas), we did get to see one thing the other Oakwood had which we had very much missed... our good friend Victor.

If you've lived at the main Oakwood, I'm sure you've seen him and maybe shared words. From our first visits in April, he was a friendly face. He took a shine to Ceiba right away. Everytime we see each other, we pause to share words.  My spanish is minimal, as is his english, but we always seem to communicate just fine. He was thrilled to know Ceiba was born in his neighboring Guatemala, and the love for his native El Salvador shines in his eyes. Ceiba lights up to see him and get sweet compliments in spanish. We will miss our "holas" on our visits across town. His warm smile and greetings make our visits all the more enjoyable. 

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The National Cathedral

Stunningly beautiful...
From many vantage points in the Washington D.C. area, you can catch a glimpse of the National Cathedral perched high atop a hill off Wisconsin Avenue. On our first drive to Embassy Row a few months back, we stopped so I could take a few outside photos of the cathedral. It is truly beautiful!

This week Ceiba and I took an hour to see the beauty within its walls. It is undoubtably a work of art.
The archways, the masonery, the stained glass, the carved wood...
the care which skilled artisans bestowed while building this cathedral is absolutely apparent.
Whatever your religion, even if that means no religion, take a walk inside these walls.

Embrace the OCD!

It rained pretty much all day today. From 0530 when a little someone crawled into our bed until still now past bedtime, it’s been drizzling. This evening we got out the finger paint and rolled out the paper over the coffee table for a change of pace.

So the painting session has me convinced that I’m borderline OCD. I joke, but still think I’m unusually anti-mess. Watching paint colors get mixed by little fingers in different colors, paint on the jars or globs of paint sitting on the paper almost physically hurts me. With controlled breathing and willpower, I made it through and actually played in the paint and encouraged the fun too. Am I especially crazy? Or just a little? Those of you that know me, realize this is

normal and yes, probably a little crazy or controlling. No bashing comments needed, thank you. I’m trying, ok??!! I’m new at this full time mama stuff.

Chris was out of the house, so I texted him pics and told him about the fun painting, but the clarity moment of my disorder. I got no reply… so think that solidifies the epiphany.

In some ways, the OCD is a positive thing. For example, I’m a really good packer. I can anticipate what may come up on trips and generally plan accordingly. You need it? Chances are it’s in the bag. Even down to the UAB (unaccompanied air baggage) which we brought out here. The plan was to be here for about 3 months, which turned into 6 months. The only thing I’ve really wished I’d brought… the garlic press. Yes, I have been mincing by knife, but am getting tired of smelling like an old Italian man.

Embrace the OCD!!

* And now Blogger changed the photo insert process. UG! I'm a donkey on the edge!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Chincoteague Island, VA

Late on Friday night, Chris mentioned that with the remainder of a consulation day and weekend, we could've headed to the beach. Kind of as in, "we should have". I took it as "we still can!!!" and jumped on the internet and started looking for a room. From a few weeks previous endeavor, I knew getting a hotel room on Assateague or Chincoteague Island area was about as good as a snowball's chance in you-know-where. We lucked out and happened to catch a nice Indian proprietor who just got stood up by a 3 day reservation maker whose deposit credit card declined, so was happy to offer us the room.

The drive basically sucked- LOTS of people with the same idea on a highway (no interstates out there) for miles. It took us about 4 hours to get to the island, but there were farmers markets, bridges and nice scenery along the way. We were happy to finally arrive... and eat :)
Many oysters sacrificed themselves last weekend! SOOOOO good- raw or fried! We ate at the Crab Shack for lunch and Captain Zack's carryout for dinner (crab poorboy, cream of crab soup, dozen raw and dozen fried oysters - our favorite place). We planned to walk to the Creamery or Mr. Whippy's for ice cream/yogurt, but there weren't enough hours... and our bellies were full... and the Saturday night lines were long.
(ABOVE- Crab Shack raw oysters, Capt. Zack's Carryout, BELOW- raw & fried from Capt. Zack's)
We played in the sand and surf Saturday afternoon until past 5PM and Sunday morning until 10AM. Ceiba skipped naps to take in the beach, but was a trooper! Amazingly, she never once fussed about saltwater stinging her eyes.
Well, until bathtime, which was shortlived.

A queen bed and a roll-away worked out just fine! Ceiba kicked me out and slept with Papa, while I got the roll-away T-boned at the end of the bed. Actually, think I got the good deal, even if my feet hung off the bed.
I slept way better than they did :)

For really great island details (spanning several years), start with a visit here to see another FS family.

Eastern Market

Up for an outing last weekend, we chose to head down to Eastern Market ( It's a convenient stop along the Metro and a great way to spend your morning. We headed down early to beat the heat and decided on a Sunday visit to double dip with the flea market + the regular market. Soulard Market in STL used to be a weekly excursion for produce and season items when I worked downtown, so I had been missing the chance to peruse around in the open air markets.
(l to r) Pasta- we bought crayfish/lobster & mozzerella raviolis-YUM, Polish pottery, okra & maters
(l to r) fresh bouquets, indoor meat/fish section, gorgeous sunflowers
(l to r) manhole cover, berrries & veggies, patriotic art
(l to r) some heat!, pearls (I'm waiting for Dhaka!), flea market furniture

It was also a great photo opportunity... which is why we had waited so long to visit, in hopes my Minolta would be repaired... it isn't. As a matter of fact, it's pretty much in need of a R.I.P. sign. I sent it off to the warranty company today, after 6 weeks and the local company saying the part is discontinued. Ug, just what I want to buy before shipping out to Bangladesh. Actually, I do want to buy a new camera (and about 5 lenses), but the checking account is getting enough of a work out as it is. Maybe we'll just have to fly to Hong Kong or Tokyo as an excuse to camera shop!

Please pray for my Minolta until then!