Saturday, June 26, 2010

World Cup Mania

I don't follow soccer/futbol/whatever. I am from Texas y'all, when we talk about football we do NOT mean soccer. My kids however are from Texas only on paper. Texas is a place they visit every few years on home leave or R&R. Living here in Germany they have definitely caught soccer fever. They play soccer on the playground every chance they get. Once a week they go to the soccer park for PE, Alonzo has even been to a professional game. They know the rules, they know the names of many of the players, at least the German ones. Right now they are up way past bedtime watching the US vs Ghana game of the World Cup. The US just scored tying the game at 1 to 1 so the kids are bouncing all over the room chanting USA! USA! USA! They are really into it, it is so cute. I just wish I had a clue of what was going on. My knowledge of soccer doesn't extend past the object is to kick the ball into the net, that's a touchdown right? Kidding...just kidding.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Who's Linking to Me?

Last week when I was working on the Weekly Roundup I noticed Cyberbones on several sidebar blog lists. I didn't have time to stop and add links to my blog list right then. I was working under a deadline you understand. I really truly do try to add your link to my sidebar i you are linked to me. I am not working under a deadline at the moment but it is our last week at post and as such is slightly chaotic, so I am going to take the lazy way out and ask that if you are linking to me on you blog list let me know so I can return the favor. Thanks!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Father's Day

Usually I make something for David for Father's Day. This tradition dates back to when we had very little money so I would have to use my imagination to come up with something for the kids to give him. This year Father's Day fell after we were packed out. I tried but really there isn't much to use to make something. No craft supplies, no cooking supplies, not really much of anything. He had to settle for a frisbee, a coffee cup, and Father's Day brunch down at the field house. Not ideal but better than nothing.

David however didn't let no supplies stop him when Colin came home with an assignment to make a costume out of whatever we had laying around the house. They are studying "Frankfurt Then and Now". He drew the "then" for mail carrier, which would make him a medieval currier. Colin had done all the research at school, and knew what he wanted his costume to look like. He wanted black pants, black long sleeve shirt, and a hooded cloak. What we have laying around the house is a lot of ugly government furniture, and a roll of tape the movers left behind and 6 suitcases each with enough clothes for one week none of which include a black long sleeved shirt or a cloak. After a quick trip to the PX on base there was also some new pajamas with a long sleeve black shirt, and a box of black trash bags just "laying around "the house.

Dave hard at work designing a cloak out of trash bags using my manicure kit to cut, and tape the movers left join the peices together.

Shirt turned inside out so you can't see the helicopter on the front of it, trash bag hooded cape, and black dress pants borrowed from Grayson, only a little too small. He looks pretty medieval, don't you think?

David finished off Father's Day by reading aloud to the kids at bedtime. It was too cute. I walked by after tucking Grayson in and saw the kids curled up in Alonzo's bed listening, while David sat on the window ledge and read. He is such a good dad!
The boys are both looking at Dad and listening but I don't think Bing is all that interested in the story.

How cute is he? He is reading 100 Cupboards by N.D. Wilson. I am really going to miss the bookstore on base, and those deep window sills too.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Weekly State Department Roundup

Warning this is by far the longest post I have ever, or will ever do. Go get a something to drink and get comfy. You could be here a while.

I didn't quite know were to start with the round up so I decided the best place to start was with Digger's exhaustive state blogger list. Wow are there a lot of people out there blogging! By the time I was finished going through her list I was relieved when a blog popped up as private, that was one less to look at. Sadly I had to make some decisions. Who gets in, who gets left out? Hard call. I tried to include as many blogs as I possibly could. The bulk of this was put together on Thursday so if you posted something round-up worthy after that, and I missed it, I am truly sorry. Without further adieu I present this week's Weekly State Department Blog Roundup.

I have quite the act to follow. Ryan and Lori's Exciting Adventures celebrate the successful publication of last weeks round up with what has to be the perfect summer lunch, at least in my opinion.

Okay, so that wasn't lunch, but I bet it tasted real good.

Waiting: The one constant in Foreign Service life.
We spend our lives waiting. Waiting to find out if we are in. Waiting for bid lists. Waiting for Packout. Waiting for UAB. Waiting to leave. A life time of waiting. Seems like every one out there is waiting. I am waiting for wheels up, just two more weeks now.

Yellow Flower at Foreign Service Specialist - My OMS Journey is all packed out and waiting to start class, and start the next step in her life's adventure. She will be joining the June class of OMS at FSI. Acronym soup.

Sara at Wife-Mommy-Woman is waiting for her car to make it to post.

Zoe at Something Edited This Way Comes is waiting to leave. Italy is waiting for her, even if her apartment isn't quite ready for her yet.

Digger of Life After Jerusalem is waiting for the week to end and hoping she doesn't die of boredom in the mean time. Is it really possible to die of boredom? Only time will tell.

Donna of E-mail From the Embassy is done waiting and will be off grid for a bit while she is on home leave. Enjoy the summer and we hope to hear from you again soon.

This just in: Soon is already here. Donna is back in the states and has some words of wisdom to impart regarding dogs, 10 year olds and jet-lag. Apparently in China your dog is classified as luggage.
Rules are rules, and if the boss says the luggage goes through the x-ray machine, it goes. Whether or not it is barking.
Kolbi did you get that? Your luggage will be x-rayed whether or not it is barking. Be prepared.

Jodi at For Lack of Tacos is waiting for a trip back home and bracing herself for some reverse culture shock. I think some good Mexican food will help take the edge off the culture shock.

Worldwide Availability is waiting to start basic consular training, but is at a loss as to what to do on his first gap day.

Diplomat and Cat are waiting for their HHE which word has it will be arriving today! YAY!

Daniela at Tuk & Tam is waiting for the bid list, and a foreign assignment so she have something interesting to blog about. In the mean time she is entertaining herself with the TV show Mad Men. She is also waiting for the results of her FSOT test. Will they be a tandem at the next post?

From The Back Of Beyond is waiting to go to her first posting in Luanda, Angola. In the meantime she is coming to grips with Luanda being one of the most expensive cities in the world. And she is really wishing she had saved her t-shirt from the Angola State Prison Rodeo that she attended years ago. What a crazy world, attend the Angola Prison Rodeo, go to Angola.

The Criplomats are waiting for their next post in Israel. They still have some time left before they go. They are filling that time by getting the cat all squared away for travel, hosting visitors, and hanging out with friends. That's what life is all about. Right?

Lisons & Dansons are are waiting to go to Cairo. In the mean time they are enjoying some very fine food. I don't know where this place is but, I think I need to get there soon. It all looks delish.

Dave of dp's blog is waiting to get to the Dominican Republic. He even has the black passport in hand. Now if he could just figure out the pet shipping without going bankrupt all would be right with the world.

Devon at Devonnaire is waiting to move to Germany. As excited as she is about the posting, she is not excited about the furniture. Anyone have any tips to make American Colonial look a little more Mid-Century Modern?

Language Training
As far as I'm concerned language training is on the hardest things anyone ever has to do. I seem to have no knack for languages at all, it has become a family joke how badly I can mangle a foreign language. Anyone who can conquer a new language has my utmost respect.

Congratulations to Natalie at EF'M! David let us all know you passed your Spanish exams. Someone high up must have been reading considering the phone call she received.
A big thank you to all of the well wishers from yesterday's big announcement. Natalie was flattered. In fact, we received a phone call from no one less than our illustrious veep, Joe Biden, himself who wanted to tell Natalie that her achievement was "a big effin deal."
She won't have much time to bask in the glory of her achievements. They finally have a timeline for departure to Mexico. They have lots to do, and not much time left.

Alex at Travel Orders is working on that most difficult of languages, State Department Speak. It's more than just acronyms you know!

Short Term Memory passed the Spanish Language Phone assessment. Well Done!

At Adventures Around the World Heather's teacher decided to shake things a bit up by taking a feild trip and toruturing her with small talk. Small talk in Nepali. Egads!

Laila of Pantsuits and Pearls scored a 3/3 on her Aribic exam and on flag day last week discovered that she will be heading to Beruit. Congratulations. From some of the comments it sounds like an awesome first post.

Herding Cats is taking Spanish and really enjoying it. Check out the cool alphabet song video. If all language lessons came with such catchy tunes maybe I could actually learn to speak or at least sing in a foreign language.

Kitty Non Grata will be taking her Khmer language test today. Lots of good vibes going her way. Hopefully she will have cause for celebration when she goes paint balling this weekend.

Ever wonder how language training works for spouses? Well this week Kolbi explains the Mathematics of Language Classes at FSI. Here a hint: The numbers need to be divisible by four.

Road Tripping
As a group we seem to be always on the move. Always longing to see new things. For many of us that is what drew us to the FS in the first place. Here are some highlights from this week's travels.

Ever wondered how much time you should plan for your sight seeing? Well check out The World That We Live In for tips on how to take in the Tower of Pisa in five minutes or less. They have this tourist thing down to an art.

Amy Gottleib and some friends signed up for a tour of scenic Halong Bay, Vietnam. The only problem was it turned out to be a Bikinis and Booze Cruise. I know this would thrill a lot of people, but Amy isn't one of them. Lucky for her she found some other people who had mistakenly booked the wrong cruise as well. Get this, not only were they from her home town of Austin, Texas, but one of them actually lived on the same street she as she did. Talk about a small world!

Trailing Husband wonders why road trips always mean a flat tire. Isn't that always the way? Don't worry he didn't let it ruin the day.

Peripatetic is roadtripping through Europe with stops in Vienna and Genzano.
I interrupt our road trip chronicle to report on yesterday's Infiorata di Genzano. It's a festival that involves the creation of elaborate designs made of flower petals laid on the main cobblestone street of Genzano, a town south of Rome.
Look at this picture!

Can you believe that those pictures are made out of FLOWERS?!? It boggles the mind.

At Post
How hard is it get around at post? Depends on where you are. Some places are pretty easy to get around, other places it seems to rob your sanity just trying to get where you want to be.

Hannah of The Slow Move East tells us that there are a myriad of choices when it comes to getting around Istanbul. Everything it seems except the tuktuk. I think for me that would just afford me lots of ways to get lost. I hope Hannah has a better sense of direction than I do.

Diplomat and Cat Really wishes Juarez wouldn't change the signs so often. Election signs went up while she was at work hiding her landmarks and she missed the turn to her house. It's pretty bad when you can't find your way home.

Warpiper has decided it will be easier to get around Vietnam on 2 wheels instead of 4. He is in the market for a bike, a motorcycle that is. Now the question is should he go go all out and get a Hog, or should he buy something cheaper and more readily available?

My favorite kind of posts about life at post are those that give me a snap shot of life, show me something cool and unique, or just make me want to go there after I am done here. This week we can tour a neighborhood in Shenyang with Bridget from Shenyanigans, see some Dachas with place2place, get a glimpse of Belgrade with the Richardsons of Our Serbian Story, or take an Euatour with a Hick/Hitchiker/...Diplomat. If that isn't enough you can go watch the sea turtles with Dan and Duffy, or join in the Grand Adventures of C &D Randazzo and buy some Haitian art. I just love that three headed skeleton.

This week the photo blog At Post is now taking submissions for a new category HARDSHIP. Have you served at a hardship post? What does hardship mean to you? Send your photos in now.

World Cup Soccer, Football, Whatever!
Americans don't seem to have the same infectious love of soccer, or would that be futball, as the rest of the world. This week was the beginning of the world cup. It seems the sport is growing on some of us.

Over at Where is the World is Luca Galeno Luca was dressed the part to cheer on Germany in their match against Australia. Germany took that match 4:0. Hopefully they will do as well in today's match against Serbia.

David of EF'M decided to get into the spirt by cheering for Mexico. With his faithful pal Tiffy by his side they watched the game which ended in a draw. He decided soccer wasn't all that bad but, it is never going to catch on in the states.

Schultz Happens continues with the daily blogging. I don't know how they do it. Some days I just can't get up the energy to blog. On day 695 they bring us the latest in World Cup coverage.

The Uncommon Life has discovered that the World Cup is a huge deal in Seoul. And just about every other country except America, I'm guessing.

Diplojournal brings us a history of world cup matches between England and the US. Did you know that the US and England have only met up once before in World Cup history and America won that time? You would if you were a Brit!
Apparently, nobody in the United States knows about it because it happened over 20 years ago and because Disney never made a movie about it. Most everyone in England, however, remembers it like it was yesterday.
Maybe Disney needs to get busy immortalizing that fateful day.

This week in class Worldwide Available focused in on the World Cup results during a discussion of current events when the teacher was actually highlighting a news story about Kyrgyz refugees. Well I have to say the picture of the soccer player was a lot bigger than the refugee picture.

Career Enhancements
I didn't know quite what to call this category. My husband David suggested career enhancements, so career enhancements it is!

Natalie of Diplolife is putting out the word about the FLOS's Professional Development Fellowship. The dead line is July 16th.
The Family Liaison Office's Professional Development Fellowship program is open to spouses and partners of civilian direct hire US Government employees under Chief of Mission Authority [posted overseas]. This program is designed to assist those spouses and partners who are not in a position to pursue their career paths overseas to maintain, enhance, and/or develop their professional skills.
For more information read the rest of the post or head over to FLO's website for complete details.

World-Wide-Matel has been serving on promotions boards. It has been a learning experience. He is blogging some of the things he has learned. We should always take the chance to learn from others when ever it is presented.

The Consul's Files has been playing disaster, except that this exercise has us preparing for the next emergency where ever and when ever it may strike. Sounds like the boy scout motto "Be Prepared." Good advice.

Philippine Independence Day
Sarah our very own Minnesota Gal spent Philipine Independence day by escaping from Manila and spending a relaxing weekend at the Bohol Bee Farm. Don't worry the bees didn't bother her a bit. She stayed at the cutest little cottage ever, and spent most of the time eating, napping, reading, and snorkeling.

See! I told you it was the cutest cottage ever. It looks like an illustration for a book of fairy tales.

Fabling too, used Independence day as a chance to escape from Manila, spending it at a friend's beach front condo where it is reported that the kids had a blast. It apparently could give Disney a run for it's money.

My favorite Philippine Independence Day post comes to us not from the Philippines but from Cameroon. Looks like quite the party!

A Bit More Serious
Judie from NP Worldview brings us a moving encounter with a man who survived the Rwanda genocide. He was her guide when she visited the Mountain Gorilla Reserve. The had plenty of time to get to know each other and he shared with her a story. A story that brought me to tears while reading it. A story which he has not yet shared with his own children.

Diane of the blog Mobile Home reflects on what it means to be an American. Living overseas has certainly changed my view of that, as I suspect it has for most of us.

I Moved to Africa is guest posting this week at everthenomad. While everthenomad is not a FS blog she is a published travel writer and video host for Lonely Planet, Travel & Leisure, Rough Guides, Time Out. Interesting reading.

The Skeptical Bureaucrat contemplates the rewriting of history. What is wrong with this picture?

Now that is taking political correctness too far. It seems that rewriting history has been going around. Scary trend.

On the Register
Even though they haven't gotten the call, yet, those people out there on the register are still part of the FS family.

I'll Take Mine to Go asks that we send prayers a good thoughts to fellow on the register blogger Jamie who has just been diagnosed with lung cancer. I so want to say something profound and eloquent but words fail me. I can't imagine how difficult this must be for the entire family. Prayers coming your way.

Destination Unknown took another shot at the FSOT. A train problem nearly derailed his testing plan but he took it all in stride.
I nearly threw a fit at the station, and instead SPRINTED to my car. "Composure is one of the 13 Dimensions!" I repeated to myself, as I tried to not scream at someone blocking the stairwell. "Composure, now!!!"

To Seek and Pursue also took the test again.

Best of wishes to both of you and I hope you get the scores your are looking for.

Bfiles is craving a little routine since the normal routine has been upset by three different sets of visitors in two weeks. Whew, that's a lot of visiting.

A good piece of advice while waiting on the register is to treat the FS as plan B, and continue on with plan A - your life. I'll Take Mine to Go has taken that advice to heart and has taken up collecting. Hilarious post on exactly what NOT to collect if you join the FS. Lead garden statuary anyone?

FSO Wannabe is waiting and watching and enduring the Unbearable Lightness of Being on the Register.

Dilpomatic Mom is passing the time with playdates, daycare parties and mocking her husband, The Dipolmat, who would perfer to be called Mr. D. Will he be sprotig a mohawk and glold chains to go with the name? Mr. T. ...Mr. D. ... get it?

Steph of Oh...the Possibilities is just Livin on a Prayer while waiting for time to pass.

They're back! It's the shoes! The Shoes with toes!
Me thinks Kolbi doth protest too much. She really wants a pair of these shoes.

Especially after hiking through the woods first in cute heels, then barefoot when the heels proved to be cute but impractical. Life is a Daring Adventure and adventures are always more fun in fun, funky, and comfy shoes!

If you check out the comments you will find that Jill's husband wants some too. We started a trend! We are trend setters! Cool.

The hardest part of doing the round up is decided what to include and what to leave out. I really wanted to include murdered plants, a perfect moment, a bucket list, an expensive passport, a strange kind of normal, things missed, some randomness, life off the grid, and so much more. But alas I am tired, it is late, and this is already a very long post.

If I missed you, misspelled you name, called you him when in fact you are a her (or vice a versa), or basically screwed up somehow, I whole heartedly apologize.

There are dozens more blog posts out there this week that I didn't get to, perhaps dozens of dozens. Perhaps undiscovered FS blogs.

If you want to take a stab at the weekly round up go sign up at A Daring Adventure. It is hard work, but it is a lot of fun. Next week the roundup will be hosted by You Can't Get There From Here. Except you can, just click the link. Have a great week.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Name That Frog!

Today I am too busy working on this week's Friday State Department Roundup to do much blogging of my own. In the mean time feel free to play with my new cyberpet frog, he's over there on the right. You can feed him with just a click of the mouse. For those of you with FS this is one pet that is easy and cheap to take from post to post. No pet shippers here! My froggy needs a name. Any ideas?

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Goodbye Sweet Fluffy

During all the chaos of packout we had suffered a family tragedy. Our sweet cat suddenly became ill and passed away. I have been too upset to write about it before now. We have had Fluffy since he wandered up to our back porch one day almost a decade ago. He was bedraggled, missing patches of fur, and someone had shot him with a pellet gun. Of course we told Alonzo not to touch him which of course he did grabbing his tail and dragging him across the floor. Fluffy didn't bite him or even snarl at him he just lay there and purred. We decided then and there that this cat was meant for our family. After a little love and care his coat came back in and he turned into a very handsome gentleman with his long fluffy brown fur and his two different colored eyes. He greatly resembled a Miane Coon.

He would go on long walks through the neighborhood with us, he would sit in the yard with me when I was working in the garden often rushing to the sidewalk to flop on his back and present his tummy for some rubbing to people walking by. He also would defend our yard against the evil of dogs, terrorizing many of the neighborhood canines. He did learn to tolerate our little poodle we had back then, although I don't think he really understood why we would let the enemy in our house. He would sit in my lap in the evening to watch TV and if I was playing with the computer he would either head butt my hand while I was typing or firmly place his paw on the keyboard until I put aside the computer and paid attention to him.

We have no idea what happened. Monday night he watched TV with me as always. He seemed fine. Wednesday when the movers were arriving he was acting strangely and we were worried about him but later in the day he seemed to perk up. By Thursday it was clear he was a very sick kitty. We left the movers with Dakota and took the cat to the vet. She said there wasn't much hope so we held him until it was over. The vet said these things do happen sometimes and there usually is no clear reason why. We are relieved that it happened now and we could be with him until the end and not in the hold of an airplane when he would be alone and scared. He is greatly missed.

Goodbye Fluffy you were the best cat a family could have.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Day Off Gone Bad

Today was supposed to be my day off. For weeks I have been saying I just need to make it to the 14th then I can have a day to relax. Let me tell you there has been no relaxing today, none at all. Instead I am tired, stressed, and ridiculously weepy. I don't think I can write whole paragraphs today so I am borrowing my dear friend Monica's favorite blogging device, the list.

1. The coffee shop at the base changed it's opening time from 9 am to 10 am as of today. This became important because if I had been at the base sipping a latte and browsing at the books store like I had planned, then the next thing on my list would never have happened, and most likely the rest of the day would have been fine, or at least fine-ish. Yes I am reduced to making up words at this point.

2. While heading out the base for a later than usual latte before I even cleared the security checkpoint another car backed up and hit me. Yes, hit the van. As in wrecked my car. Paul if you are reading this don't freak it is still drivable, just not so pretty as it was this morning. The other driver was a young lady who was very shaken and neither of us had any clue as what to do. She called her Mom, I called Dave, they both called RSO and after a very long time it was straightened out. I gave up on the latte went home and cried. Seemed reasonable to me. I also e-mailed Monica (of the list fame) with a long rant about teenage drivers. She hasn't e-mailed me back, she is probably still laughing at my creative use of certain four letter words.

3. Managed to sit on my sunglasses. My prescription sunglasses. Driving without glasses is not an option any more and I sat on my sunglasses. It is not raining today. Straightened them the best I could, they are still a little wonky, but I needed them. New ones are not in the current budget at this point, they will have to do.

4. Dave decided to take me out to eat. As I left to go pick him up to go to lunch I managed to lock myself out of the house. More tears, called Dave to say I am sorry but I can't make it, he called Dakota who left work on his very first day of work to bring me his house keys and a Starbucks frappuccino in a bottle. I have a good son.

5. Dave took me out to McDonald's. Had some sort of grilled chicken wrap thingy. It was good. Really. There are limited choices around the consulate here so he did the best he could, he is a good husband.

6. Went to the base to go grocery shopping. Grocery shopping on my day off is a bad thing on it's own, but eating is a good thing so I had to go shopping. Forgot half the stuff I needed and forget to fill up on gas so I will have to go back again later this week. Oh well. There is milk and cereal in the fridge for breakfast and frozen pizza in the freezer for dinner tomorrow.

7. The weights from our shipments came in. We are WAYYYY over. Are you sitting down? Here are the totals. HHE to Lilongwe: 7699, HHE to storage: 464 pounds for a grand total of 8153 pounds HHE. Almost exactly what was predicted BEFORE I spent 2 weeks obsessively cleaning and throwing out huge bags of stuff. The only saving grace is that our consumables got thrown in with our HHE. We are having our consumables pulled and made into it's own shipment. That should take most of the weight out, I hope. We will know more tomorrow...maybe...I hope.

8. The GPS suddenly lost all it's European maps. They just vanished while we were picking up the kids from school. No idea what happened. David just spent forever on the computer trying to figure out what went wrong, now all the maps are back but all of our bookmarked locations are gone. Technology is great when it works but when it goes wrong it sucks, big time.

9. Kids screamed and yelled all the way home. Nothing new here, but totally out patience with their arguing if that was a fiat or an alpha romeo. It was a flipping car, what more do you really need to know? And really is it a good idea to be screaming while your parents are freaking out because the GPS just died?

I am going to call this day done before anything else goes wrong. Hope your day was better than mine.


What a weekend. If you think that nothing can follow up the chaos of pack out, boy are you wrong. Try International day at school, and no we couldn't skip because one of the boys was performing with the choir; community goodbye party at the Seidlung; the movie release Diary of a Wimpy Kid at the base theater - we promised the boys they could see it when it came out since they read the books; the final cub scout event of the year The Raingutter Regatta and the awarding of prizes, belt loops, patches, arrow points; Alonzo's first double digit birthday -yes he turned 10; and my oldest's graduation from high school. WHEW! All that in two days.

I will have some blogging to do this week to get everyone back home all caught up, but not today. Today I am just taking a moment to catch my breath. I am finally getting a chance to sit down and read the State Department Weekly Roundup and I just now realized I am in charge of the roundup this week. WOW! I had forgotten that in all the hustle and bustle of the past week, thanks Ryan and Lori Exciting Adventures for the reminder at the end of this weeks post. I have a tough act to follow, I better get busy, but first I am just going to sit here in my empty house on the ugly sofa and drink my coffee.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

A Bloggy Break

I am just taking a little bloggy break and playing on the net.

The movers are here again. They are still making good progress. Yesterday was hard for me. After what seems like an eternity of being busy busy busy trying to get everything ready there really wasn't much for me to. And yet I couldn't relax either because my house was full of strangers packing up all our stuff, including the TV. Mostly I wandered in circles and annoyed the packers, except when David sent me to go get some lunch.

Today at least I have something to do. The packers are done with the upstairs, completely done. They are still hard at it downstairs and in the basement but the upstairs is empty. Empty, echoey and remarkably dirty. I swept and vacuumed on Tuesday as part of the final prep. I swear I did. You would never know it from the number of dust bunnies running around up here. David is still supervising downstairs while Dakota and I are cleaning upstairs. A total cleaning. Vacuuming, sweeping, mopping, polishing, window washing, the works. Why? Because we have been told that if the powers-that-be need to call a cleaning crew as part of the make ready for the next family we will be charged, so the floors need to be mopped,the carpets need to be vacuumed, the base boards cleaned, and all the dust bunnies captured. At least I am not annoying the packers today.

We still have no idea what our total weight for the shipment will be. No idea if we are over or not. We will not have any idea until probably early next week. It is so FRUSTRATING! In Jakarta they weighed the stuff as it went into the truck so when the last box was loaded the head honcho in charge sat down with his list and his calculator and 15 minutes later we knew how much everything weighed, how many boxes, ect... Here they box it up and take right out to the truck. It will be weighed on an official scale somewhere, no idea of where. No mountains of boxes sitting around waiting to be loaded, which I must admit is nice, BUT I have no idea how many boxes we are up to now, or how much weight all those disappearing boxes represent. Hopefully it is all under the magic number of 7200.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

They are HERE!

The movers arrived promptly at 7. IT is now 8:30. Holy Cow! They are kicking butt and taking names. There are at least 3 dozen boxes aleady packed taped and sealed. There is no way they are going to take the full three days to pack us out. At this rate they will either be done late today or early tomorrow. More later. I am going to try to take a picture of our consumables before they pack it up. I may already be too late!

We Are Ready, I Hope.

Almost time now. It feels as if packout is all I have been thinking about forever. I know that isn’t true. It has been the major focus around here for only the last month. It has been a long month. In less than 8 hours the movers will be here to pack everything up and send it on it’s way to Malawi. We are way more ready than we have ever been for any previous move, and yet I am still completely freaking out. I just don’t do change well.

I like the status quo. I like knowing that when I open the cabinet I will see my favorite coffee mug waiting there. I like seeing my pictures on the wall where they belong. I like my clutter. I do not like moving. I hate when everything around me is chaos and not much seems more chaotic than having nothing in the house where it belongs.

Right now our suitcases with just enough clothes to get by for the summer are packed away upstairs in a locked room so they don’t accidentally get shipped leaving us with only the clothes on our backs. There is a pile of stuff heading back to storage in another room. We don’t have an air shipment from here to the next post this time because Dakota is flying the nest so everything in his room will be heading back to the states as UAB (unaccompanied air baggage for those of you not fluent in foreign service acronym). If we were to take it to post or send it to storage he would have no access to any of his stuff, so we are sending it to his uncles house where it can sit in his garage until he wants it. Hopefully all the hard work we have put in getting ready will mean that the move goes smoothly and easily. I just can’t shake the feeling we have overlooked something major, but I have no idea what that could be.

Monday, June 7, 2010

WHAT??!? A stomach virus, NOW! Are you kidding me?

Late last night after the kids were all tucked in, David and I were still busy working when Colin appeared downstairs holding his stomach and crying. Once he got close it was apparent from the stench that he had been sick, very sick. I went upstairs to see what the damage was while David cleaned up Colin. Upstairs I found Alonzo still fast asleep while Colin's bed and the carpet between the beds was covered in the most revolting mess. I scooped up the bed linens and headed downstairs toss them in the washer and get some lysol, old rags and gloves to deal with the rest of mess. David met me upstairs and took the cleaning supplies from me and handled the rest of the mess. I really do love him. How many men would clean barf for their wives? Alonzo slept through the whole thing even though his bed is less than two feet from Colin's How anyone could sleep through that stench is beyond me.

This morning Colin is tucked in on the couch watching Scooby Doo while the other kids are off at school. I am trying to stay on schedule even though I am dealing with waves of nausea. I simply do not have time to be sick. I managed to survive 4 pregnancies with morning sickness and still get done what I needed to, I can do this. There is one problem. Today is the day I am supposed finish up the kitchen, clean out the fridge so all my dishes and good storage containers are clean and ready to pack when the movers arrive on Wednesday. Cleaning the fridge when you are already nauseated is not a lot of fun. Plus if this runs like pas stomach viruses the rest of them should be sick in bed barfing while the movers are here. This could turn out to be a very interesting week.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Oh God! Help Me!

I have lost the notepad that has all my notes for pack out on it. What still needs to be bought for the consumables shipment? All I can remember is we still need to buy booze, specifically tequila and triple sec for margaritas, what does that say about my state of mind? What still need to be done and before Wednesday and by whom? Beats me but I am afraid the answer might be everything and by me alone. What do we need to buy this summer when we are in Texas? Spices, cereal and a whole bunch of other stuff that I can't remember that all will go UAB from Texas to Malawi. It also has all my notes for this next weekend: graduation, raingutter regatta, Alonzo's birthday. Basically I have lost my ever loving mind. Now what?

On a happier, or at least funnier note yesterday we were heading down the autobahn behind a Porsche Carrera when we hit a bit of traffic and had to slow down. The rear spoiler on these cars goes up and down according to speed. Grayson was watching the car, as like all the other boys he has car fever, when the spoiler retracted leaving the back of the car one smooth line. He freaked out and started yelling and pointing, hitting his brothers to get their attention. It took me a few minutes but I finally realized what the commotion was about. He thought the car was transforming, as in it was a TRANSFORMER like Bumble Bee. I think he was waiting for the aliens to arrive and the big battle seen to take place.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Duck Pond

It is 5 days until packout. I should be working at getting ready for the movers. I would be except for some reason when we scheduled all this it didn't occur to us to check the school schedule for holidays. The kids had no school yesterday or today. A four day weekend with only 2 days left to finish up afterwards. (Insert four letter word of your choice here!) I tried to get stuff done with them home yesterday and today, but it was a loosing battle. They are trashing things faster than I can organize. I think my brain may explode if they get into one more area or pile that I have decided is ready for packing. I really wish we were allowed to pack some stuff up in boxes ahead of time just to keep the kids out of it, but we have been told absolutely no packed by owner allowed. (four-letter word here) In Jakarta they actually gave us boxes ahead of time so we could organize stuff. All we had to do was leave them unsealed. Here, forget about it!

The weather has finally warmed up. It is gorgeous outside, so before I totally lost my mind I decided to take the kids to the duck pond. My logic? If they are outside they aren't messing things up inside. After the winter finally ends and everything greens up it is so pretty that it almost seems as if Germany is apologizing for the long grey winter. I don't know what these pink flowers are, but aren't they gorgeous?

The boys and their friend enjoyed feeding the ducks and geese while I played with the camera.

Pay no attention the beer bottle. Honestly I don't think the kids even noticed it. They were having too much fun trying to get the baby geese to eat the bread from their hands. Every time the little ones would get too close one of the adult geese would fuss at them and make them back of from the dangerous humans.

I love this shot. The mother goose looks like any mom chewing out one of the kids. I have no idea why it came out all dark in the background like they are in a spot light. I wish I knew why that happened, but honestly I was just shooting in idiot mode like always. A bunch of pictures came out like this. Maybe someday I will learn how to really use my camera.

This may be my favorite shot of the day. It looks like a post card. They look so sweet sitting there together feeding the ducks.

Some of the ducks looked like mallards back home and some looked almost like mallards but the colors were wrong. I noticed that none of the ducks we saw were females. Perhaps they are still nesting. We saw the goslings but no duckings.

We also saw these little birds. They are much smaller than a duck, black, with such a bright beak it almost looks fake. The ducks and geese never let these little guys get much in the way of bread crumbs. They drive them off every time they come close. It is hard to get close enough to get a picture. I am pretty happy with this shot.

Of course I managed to take a few flower pictures too. Wild irises growing along the ponds edge in a few spots and some tiny blue flowers. I hate not knowing what they are.

After we ran out of bread for the ducks the kids amused themselves by rolling down a hill. I love when they just act like kids, not all caught up in computers or video games. After snapping some pictures of the kids I left them to it while I amused my self by stalking the big heron that hangs around the pond. He is gorgeous and almost impossible to get close to, I managed to get a few decent pictures.

Tomorrow David and Cody will be home and we will tag team back and forth so we can a get a few more things taken care of before Wednesday. Fun.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Quick Update

Things are still crazy around here with packout looming in a week, plus Cody's graduation, Alonzo's 10th birthday, and the last big cub scout event of the year all in a week and a half, all on the same day mind you! YIKES! The good news is yesterday Dave had the day off, but the kids had to go to school. Memorial Day is an American holiday, not German so, no day off for the kids. Well, Cody had the day off, but he went to Europa Park with JROTC to ride roller-coasters all day, so he was out of the picture too. We had a good day. Got lots done and still managed to make it to Koi Samoi for some Thai. Crispy duck in red Thai curry, Yummmm. Really going to miss that place.

We went to Ikea for some last minute shopping. We bought some cute plastic plates, bowls, and cups so no more paper plates at birthday parties. I don't know about Malawi but those could be hard to come by in Jakarta. Also, new bed linens for the boys in nice bright colors. Of course we picked up a few other things and browsed the kitchen displays because some day we are going to build ourselves a little vacation get away and I am always on the lookout for ideas. I love how sleek and modern their kitchens are. We managed to drop off boxes and boxes of donations at the resale shop on base and fit in some quick shopping there. We even finished up the seed order for the garden. Fingers crossed that everything grows because seed has gotten a LOT more expensive since the last time I ordered from Burpee.

Most importantly we finalized our consumables shopping! A consumables shipment is a special shipment alloted when you are assigned to some place where food supplies are limited in quality or selection. The foreign service doesn't pay for the groceries but they will pay shipping up to a certain amount. It is up to the employee to figure out what they can't live without and go buy everything. We have been budgeting for this since we found out we were going to Malawi but it still hurts to drop all that money at once. It is all ordered and will be ready for pickup this weekend. Doing the consumables while prepping for pack out is an added stress now, but will make it much nicer this summer when the bulk of the shopping is done. Most places we wouldn't have the luxury of arranging our consumables while still at post, but in Frankfurt we are lucky to have access to the commissary on base with all the American products, so we took advantage. I am so relieved that it is done and I only have a small bit of shopping to do this summer. That means more time to hang out and have fun!