Friday, April 30, 2010

Happy 18th Birthday Baby Boy

How did this chubby little boy

Turn into this?

Where did the time go? Where did the hair go? In spite of the photographic evidence he has had long hair for most of his life. How did he go from being a fat little baby to an adult in the blink of an eye? It seems just yesterday that he was hanging out with his cousins on the front porch. (He is the one in the tan shorts, not the one with the guitar and the really long hair.)

These days he looks more like this

Somedays I think he will miss my pretty blue guitar more than he misses me when he leaves home this summer. I am sure the guitar will miss him too since he is the only one who knows how to play...anyone know a guitar teacher in Lilongwe?

If you were paying attention to the last picture then you know what he got for his birthday. Yes is is another pair of the dreaded Vibram Five Fingers. He has joined the ranks of aliens wearing VFF shoes. At least his have camoflauge pattern soles, perhaps he can evade detection.


Monday, April 26, 2010

Kopi Tubruk

Last week our coffee pot gave up the ghost and died. This is a tragedy of major proportions in this household. Tea just doesn't cut it as a morning drink, at least not for me. Don't even suggest instant coffee. YUCK! We could go out and buy another pot at the commissary, or if we want a 220 model we could, of course, go to any of dozens of stores here in Frankfurt. The thing is, none of these places carry the brand we are looking for. We ordered one from the states and are now waiting on it to arrive. I know you are wondering what is so special about a stupid coffee pot. We use a Bunn, it has a built in hot water tank so it takes less than 2 minutes to brew a full pot of coffee. Still about a minute and half too long, but about the best you area going to get. Of course the volcano has slowed down shipments, but we are hopeful it will arrive soon.

In the meantime I am dying for a decent cup of morning coffee. I finally remembered a drink I used to indulge in when we lived in Jakarta, kopi tubruk. I am now enjoying a brutally strong cup of coffee. All is right with the world.

Oh you want to know what's kopi tubruk? Basically you put a spoon full of coffee grinds into your cup, add boiling water, it is important that it is boiling, then give it a quick stir and wait until the grounds sink. Enjoy. It isn't exactly good to the last drop, in fact of you aren't careful that last drop can be quite gritty, but it makes a tasty, strong cup of coffee without any fancy equipment. Yummmm.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

It's Spring

Some people look for the blooming of a certain plant, or the return of a certain bird to mark the coming of spring. Some people mark the first week of spring as the vernal equinox. In our household it is the annual shaving of the beard.

Here he is before. Is it any wonder it is almost impossible to get a decent picture of the kids? They are just like their dad, they see a camera and start making faces.

And here is the after.

I think he looks much younger without all the grey on his face. What do you think? Should he keep shaving or grow it back?

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Unexpected Surprise

Friday David came home and announced I could take the night off, we were going to eat at the feildhouse. Yipee! We let the kids play outside for a while, then Dave and I went inside to find a table. We noticed a guy walking in with a guitar case. He began setting up to play. Neither of us could remember hearing anything about live music, but we decided to hangout and see what was up. It turned out to be a great night. The singer was an Irishman who did a great mix of music, old and new. He even took requests. The kids came inside to eat then when back outside where they played until dark, around 9. Dave and I just sat and enjoyed the music. Everyone was happy. What a perfect, if unexpected, evening.

Playing two instruments at once! I would be happy if I could just manage to play my pretty blue guitar at all.
After awhile some groupies joined him on stage. I guess every act needs some back up dancers.

On the way out we noticed this sign, but I would swear it wasn't there when we arrived. Or maybe we are just blind. Who knows?

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Planes are Flying Again

Yes, the ash has cleared and the planes are flying again, just in time for Earth Day. This morning Alonzo looked up at the con-trails and asked, "Is that smoke, or just steam coming out of the plane?"

I told him that it is exhaust and it just stays visible like that because it is so cold up there in the atmosphere. After I explained that exhaust is the stinky stuff that comes out of the back of buses (you have to have been in Jakarta to understand) Alonzo stared quietly at the sky for a while. Finally he sighed and said, "Why do we do that to the Earth?"

This was our sky last week when all the planes were grounded. Clear blue as far as the eye could see.
Although I prefer this picture.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


The volcano is really starting to get on my nerves! I went down to the field house for a wine tasting held by Garage Winery, a local winery that has some wines I quite like. Taped on the door was a sign that read:

Wine tasting cancelled due to volcanic activity.

ARRRGGGHH! Ok NOW it is personal!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

White Noise and Ash Clouds

If you have ever served in Frankfurt, read some older entries on this blog, or perused the Real Post Report on Talesmag then you know the housing in Frankfurt leaves much to be desired. It is basically old military barracks that have been made over for the FS. Charming they are not. Some genius put all large families on the top floors. Seriously! All four, five and six bedroom apartments are two story apartments on the third and fourth floors. We get to drag strollers, groceries, kids, toys, and garbage up and down three and half flights of stairs every day. The people downstairs get to listen to our kids bounce around on the floor because ever little sound is transmitted very clearly to the apartment downstairs. Makes us pretty popular as you can imagine.

Additionally we have no air conditioners. Yes, I know that it isn't that hot here, but trust me by mid-May my kids will be sleeping on the floor downstairs because the attic rooms will be too hot for sleeping. Once it gets into the mid 70's it is usually 10+ degrees hotter up there than it is outside or downstairs. No A/C also means no air filtering. People with allergies should really consider bringing a freestanding air filter if they are serving here. You would not believe how many trees and plants here bloom. It's gorgeous, Achoooo!

For us the big thing about no A/C is the lack of white noise. You just don't think about it until it is gone, but that steady drone of noise drowns out a lot of little noises that keep you awake at night. Noises like the baby downstairs that wakes up every freaking morning at 3:45. I will say this, that kids has some healthy lungs, very healthy. We have been looking at white noise machines online. It seems like the ones with decent reviews are very expensive, especially since we haven't much time left. We haven't slept through the night since returning from England. The kid is seriously cute and his parents are lovely, never complaining about the noise my kids make, but 3:45 A.M. Every. Single. Night.

Yesterday I had an amazing thought: "Wonder if there is an app for that?" Guess what there totally is! We downloaded a free white noise app to Dave's ipod touch, stuck it in my speaker dock, and fell asleep to the gentle chirping of crickets. We slept until the alarm went off at 6 this morning. HEAVENLY! Don't like crickets? Try rain, thunderstorm, oscillating fan, or beach waves. If you want to spend a little you could buy the full version that has 40 different sounds to choose from, it is a whopping $1.99. Sorry Brookstone but I will be keeping all that money for a spa day.

On to the ash cloud, yesterday Kolbi commented:
"I can't imagine this thing immobilizing an entire school! But I guess it totally could. That is crazy!"
Think again, it hasn't just immobilized a school, it has immobilized an entire continent. The British have deployed some of their largest navy ships to the channel to help the ferries move people back and forth across the channel. This hit right during many children's Easter break so families had traveled all over Europe for holiday and then just as it was time to travel home the volcano erupts, people are stranded all over the place by the thousands. The trains can't even begin to make up the difference. Here in the consulate community the mail fairy has had her wings clipped. Our mail arrives by air and there are no planes flying, no planes, no mail, no amazon orders, "Sniff, sob!" Think about all the freight that moves by air. None of that is happening, nothing, zip, nada. The economic impact of this is going to be huge, because of that they are opening some flights today even though the volcano is still erupting and there is a new ash plume which will likely shut down air traffic again as it moves south. The hope is just to move some people and cargo before that happens.

Cody asked last night what the big deal is, it's just ash. Volcanic ash is not at all the same as the ash from your fireplace. It isn't a soft fine powder of burnt wood, it is microscopically fragmented rock. Think of a pumice stone like you use on your heels. That is a volcanic rock. Now grind it down to powder. Now feed a bunch of that powder that through a jet engine. Do you want to be on that plane? Me either. The pilots either. Unless that volcano stops erupting soon things are going to get a lot worse before they get better.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Ash Update

So Cody went back to school this morning to find that all of his teachers but one are stranded someplace and most of the student body is missing as well. The baseball game Wednesday is cancelled because neither team has enough players to field a team. That volcano sure is messing up the works. I wonder if we could cost construct a cruise home this summer? At least boats are still running.

Back at home

We are back at home, David is back at work, and the kids are back at school. Well most of them are back at school, Alonzo is home with me. He had a dentist appointment this morning to take care of a cavity. I didn't think it was fair to send him to school after that kind of trauma, plus he couldn't eat for two hours afterwards so he would have had to sit in the lunch room and watch everyone else eat while he couldn't. Torture! He will go back tomorrow.

It is a good thing we drove, or we would still be stuck in England. While I would love that right now, I would be singing a different tune when the credit card bill came in. The problem is that a volcano in Iceland blew it's top and now the air way up high is full of ash. There has been NO air traffic in and out of England since last Wednesday or Thursday. Most of the rest of the Europe is shut down as far as air traffic as well. Hopefully the volcano will be quiet come July 2nd when we are supposed to be out of here, otherwise I may buy a boat and start rowing!

Today I am making a list of everything that needs to be done before we leave this summer. Yikes that list is getting long. First I need to finish up a project I have been dragging my feet on for a while. I am giving myself until Friday to get it done. Totally do-able as long as I stay focused. David has this week to do his part of the de-clutter while I am busy. He collects dust magnets and they all need to be rounded up, dusted, and boxed so they are safe for shipping. Seems easy enough, but they are scattered throughout the house, plus some were never unpacked since we didn't have a display cabinet here, so they are somewhere in the basement or maybe they are stuck in the top of a closet somewhere. Some are seasonal, and I am not so good about putting them back where they belong, instead I tend to stuff them in the nearest closet or drawer when I am done with them. Should be like an Easter egg hunt looking for those. Each has it's own custom box it came in those need to be located as well, I can't seem to find them in the basement, but they have to be down there somewhere. I am totally glad he is doing this. Last pack-out I got to do this and by the time I was done I was ready to put the whole lot of them up on ebay. I figured I would get some money, I wouldn't have to dust them anymore, and I would never have to pack them again again. Win win! David vetoed that. Who gave him executive power?

My part of the pack out begins in earnest next week. I need to go through each room, each closest, each drawer, each cabinet with a trash bag and get rid of some weight. Hmmm... maybe all those fossils we collected on vacation last week weren't the best idea. Just to give you an idea that is 6 bedrooms each with an ENTIRE WALL OF CLOSETS, two hallways, 3 bathrooms, the kitchen, living room, dining room and basement, 3 toyboxes, 7 bookshelves, and a partridge in a pear tree. GAH! I am feeling overwhelmed just thinking about it.

I do have more to say about the vacation and I just realized that I never blogged about Easter so there is that too, but not today. Right now I am going to make a pot of tea and get busy. Nothing is going to get done if i sit here playing on the computer.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

White Horses

White Horse Hill, Uffington

Hackpen White Horse

Pewsey White Horse

White Horse of Osmington Hill
Alton Barnes White Horse

Standing Circles




Monday, April 12, 2010

Range Walk

Yes I am crawling, and....? I DON'T DO HEIGHTS!

I DID IT! I think I may barf! Do you see how close the path came to the sign?

OH WOW! The view is amazing from up here.

You have to love the signs on this walk. No, Mom, we did not bring the little ones on this walk. It was only Dakota and me for obvious reasons. Yes Teri, it was totally legal, but believe me you pay attention to the signs, and check the schedule before going!!!

Fossil Forest

Durdle Door