Technically Mr. Mom was a stay-at-home dad played by Michael Keaton in 1983, but I thought calling myself “Ms. Dad” sounded weird. So I’m sticking with Mr. Mom. This is the part of myself I sometimes call upon as the single mother of an 8-year-old boy.

Don’t get me wrong, some of it comes naturally and isn’t what I would consider a “dad” function at all. I personally love many of the things that he’s into…like science, math, earthworms, books about ninjas and mythology, and the occasional fart joke. I’ve always helped him with his homework and talked to him about his growing body. I taught him how to play chess and always figured I’d be the one to teach him how to drive because I was the more patient parent.

But sometimes I am more conscious of the fact that I’m his mom and not his dad, maybe just because his dad used to do certain things with him…like taking him to a Father & Son barber shop. Or practicing his martial arts moves with him at home so he can pass a skills test. Or taking him to a video game arcade.

He’s asked me a few times if I can hurry up and get married again so I can get him a new daddy. But I’ve already told him that I don’t really plan on getting hitched a second time. So he’s just gonna have to get used to having me for a daddy…Mr. Mom.

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…I’d have no luck at all. Or so the saying goes. As my friends on FB already know, this is how my day went yesterday:

So my car suddenly died in the parking lot while picking up Thorfinn [dog] after work. I felt like I was being so organized calling USAA roadside assistance and organizing a tow, while simultaneously downloading the Uber app and requesting a ride so that I could pick [my son] up before after-school care closed. Too bad I didn’t think to take my house keys off the ring when I left them in the car for the tow truck driver.

I’m generally a positive person, and I don’t think focusing on the negative is very productive. But I have noticed a certain trend over the last year…one thing after another has gone wrong…to the extent where I’m starting to wonder if the universe is just messing with me.

So I thought I would take an objective inventory of the last several years to see how often these things really happen. Not including one-time life-altering events like death and divorce, these are just really annoying things that seem to require a lot of time and money…and possibly bad luck.

Belize 2011-13 (two years)

  • Child Health Emergencies/Visit to the ER: 3 (one massive head bump on the tile floor, and two choking incidents requiring baby Heimlich maneuver.)
  • Times child ran off and disappeared in a large crowd: 0
  • Cat visits to the vet not related to travel: 0
  • Dog visits to the vet not related to travel: NA (didn’t have a dog yet)
  • Car accidents: 0
  • Car problems: 0
  • Broken appliances flooded the house: 0
  • Got locked out of the house: 0

London 2013-15 (two years)

  • Child Health Emergencies/Visit to the ER: 1 (one massive bump on the head from bouncing on the bed and hitting head on the windowsill)
  • Times child ran off and disappeared in a large crowd: 2
  • Cat visits to the vet not related to travel: 0
  • Dog visits to the vet not related to travel: NA (didn’t have a dog yet)
  • Car accidents: 0
  • Car problems: 1 (battery died due to lack of use)
  • Broken appliances flooded the house: 1 (our washer flooded the apartment below us)
  • Got locked out of the house: 0

Iceland 2015-2018 (almost three years)

  • Child Health Emergencies/Visit to the ER: 2 (one systemic allergic reaction, and one possible concussion)
  • Times child ran off and disappeared in a large crowd: 1 (holiday in Edinburgh)
  • Cat visits to the vet not related to travel: 1 (cat was a little stressed after quarantine)
  • Dog visits to the vet not related to travel (or neutering): 0
  • Car accidents: 0
  • Car problems: 1 (battery died on holiday after son left dome light on)
  • Broken appliances flooded the house: 0
  • Got locked out of the house: 0

Washington, DC 2018-2019 (one year)

  • Child Health Emergencies/Visit to the ER: 2 (possible concussion, and possible pneumonia)
  • Times child ran off and disappeared in a large crowd: 0
  • Cat visits to the vet not related to travel: 1 (urinary tract infection)
  • Dog visits to the vet not related to travel: 10
  • Car accidents: 1
  • Car problems: 1 (battery died due to loose cable)
  • Broken appliances flooded the house: 1 (the washer above us flooded one of the bedrooms in our apartment)
  • Got locked out of the house: 10

So here are my observations based on the data:

  1. It seems that most things are happening at about the same frequency as they have in the past…although so far it’s all been front loaded in the first year of this tour.
  2. My one traffic incident is directly related to driving in a big city. (Belmopan population 14,000; London didn’t drive; Reykjavik pop. 122,000; DC metro area pop. 6,216,589). It’s amazing I don’t get in an accident every week (knock on wood).
  3. The amount of times I’ve locked myself out of the house is directly proportional to how often I take the dog out, which my husband used to do.
  4. Living in an apartment exposes my dog to a ton of other dogs and their assorted contagious illnesses compared to our nice quiet sanitized space in Iceland.
  5. No longer having another adult around to help take care of things highlights each issue and makes it more stressful because I’m the only one who can deal with it.

I’m happy to say that I do not appear to have any worse luck than usual and that most of my current problems are purely situational and can be attributed to now being single and living in Washington, DC. Here’s hoping things calm down for the last year of our tour. Have I mentioned lately that I’m bidding in September? 🙂

The lobby of the Willard Hotel (photo from hotel website).

Today was the last day of the Cherry Blossom Festival for 2019. Over the last week we managed to squeeze in two more un-official events: cherry blossom gelato at Dolce Gelati in old town Alexandria with friends and a mommy-son cherry blossom afternoon tea at the Willard Hotel in downtown DC.

The gelato was much better than I’d anticipated. I thought it would probably just be cherry ice cream with a fancy name, but it tasted like they’d put a bit of rose water in it, so it actually had a lovely floral flavor. Unfortunately our ice cream date with friends ended abruptly when my son wiped out while running on some large rocks at the Alexandria waterfront and shaved the top layer of skin off his knee. My friend NS was really thoughtful and went and grabbed my car from its parking spot so my kiddo wouldn’t have to hobble for blocks all bloodied up.

But he survived the rest of the week unharmed, and today we drove downtown for a special afternoon tea at the Willard Intercontinental Hotel. The Willard is two blocks east of the White House and was created in 1847 when the owner, Henry Willard, leased six existing buildings and combined and extended them into a famous luxury hotel.

Part of the tea menu and our tea tray.

The dessert plate…mmm.

Funny anecdote from Wikipedia: “The first group of three Japanese ambassadors to the United States stayed at the Willard with seventy-four other delegates in 1860, where they observed that their hotel room was more luxurious than the U.S. Secretary of State’s house. It was the first time an official Japanese delegation traveled to a foreign destination, and many tourists and journalists gathered to see the sword-carrying Japanese.”

Fifty years later the city of Tokyo donated 2000 cherry trees to the United States. And I never knew this until we moved here this time…but when the trees were inspected by the Department of Agriculture, they found an infestation of insects and disease. So President Taft had the trees BURNED, and the Secretary of State had to write a letter to the Japanese Ambassador expressing their sincere regret. Two years later, Japan responded by gifting another 2000 trees, plus 1,020 more, for a total of 3,020 beautiful cherry trees.

And a brief 107 years after that, we found ourselves at the Willard enjoying the cherry blossom-themed  afternoon tea, and it was fantastic! The sandwiches were creative and super tasty with lobster, boursin cheese, lemon-scented cream cheese, strawberry chicken salad…and my favorite was the smoked turkey with pecan and pimento cheese mousse. They had a traditional scone and a green tea scone that my son covered with marmalade and inhaled.

But, of course, the best part of afternoon tea for any kid is always the desserts on the top plate. My son’s not a fan of the sandwiches, so he had a side of fries and a glass of milk. But he enjoyed sharing my sweets, particularly the cherry éclair and the jasmine tea shortbread cookie. And his mind was absolutely blown by the little cherry tree made out of chocolate and cotton candy. We both give the cherry blossom afternoon tea at the Willard two enthusiastic thumbs up!!

Swinging on the pier at the DC Wharf.

Today was a FANTASTIC day! It started out fairly quietly…dog and boy made it till about 7am before waking me up. We had some breakfast, went to Taekwondo, then on a whim decided we’d head down to the DC Wharf for the Cherry Blossom Festival’s Petalpalooza.

It had been on my radar for a couple of weeks, but it sounded kind of crowded and annoying. So I figured we’d probably just find a nice quiet spot of blossoming cherry trees in some other part of town to enjoy like we did last year. But while A was in TWD, I started looking at the program online, and it looked like there might actually be some things he’d enjoy.

So we rallied, took a few deep breaths, prayed for patience, and waded into the sea of vehicles heading toward downtown DC. And boy did we luck out. I’d picked  a random spot on the GPS that I thought would drop us near a parking garage I’d used last time I was at the wharf, but instead it routed us through a short tunnel that went under the highway, which turned out to be a good thing as all the garages we passed were full. I happened to see a sign for Cherry Blossom Festival Parking, and miraculously it was a four-story garage that still had a few spaces left on the fourth floor.

So we strolled over to the wharf and soaked up the atmosphere. There were booths with activities for kids, musicians, restaurants, cruises, and the big swings on the pier that were covered with silk flowers. We spent a little less than two hours just wandering up and down the wharf, stopping in one booth to do some art and then into Ben & Jerry’s for some Berry Berry sorbet with a sprinkle cone and gummy bears on top. We did some swinging on the pier, and we even picked up some swag. If you can’t make it to the festival, you can still buy some fun merch online at www.ncbfstore.org.

Pearl Street decorations; and the adorable t-shirt my son picked out.

The wharf somehow manages to hold an amazing amount of heat. So even though it was only 65F outside, it felt like 80…and I managed to get a bit of sunburn. So we finally called it quits and headed back to the car.

On the way home we had that pure sense of satisfaction one gets when driving in the opposite direction of the traffic jam that was the afternoon wave of festival goers. We even caught a glimpse of the main event from the road…the official cherry trees in full bloom surrounding the tidal basin by the Jefferson Memorial. We also saw the bumper-to-bumper traffic that surrounded them.

Once home, we finished out our day by ordering pizza, and A got to stay up late watching Aquaman, which neither of us had seen yet. All in all, it was a pretty great way to start off our spring in DC!

“A bird’s eye view of Alexandria from the Potomac in 1863” by Charles Magnus.

I admit it…it’s been almost two months since my last blog post, and I have been SEVERELY unmotivated. Between the government shutdown and general winter hibernation…all I want to do is sleep. So, since I haven’t been doing much to write about, I’ve decided to do kind of a compilation post about one of my favorite DC suburbs, Alexandria, VA.

The first time I visited Alexandria was back in 2008 when my husband and I spent six months in the DC area around the time that we were first married. We only popped into Alexandria once, but we visited the Torpedo Factory art gallery and a fun little hobbit-themed pub in Old Town called Bilbo Baggins and had a couple glasses of tasty mead. We also cruised down the road and visited Mt. Vernon.

I’ve been back for training a few times since then but haven’t made it to Alexandria. This time around, I’ve had a chance to explore a lot more and dig into a bit of the history.

When my friend AF visited from California last March, we went to the Apothecary Museum and Daniel O’Connell’s Irish pub, which had a great old-European feel to it. According to the pub’s website, “The building itself was built in the 1800’s by Col. Fitzgerald from Co. Wicklow.” But it didn’t become the current bar until 2004 after the owners spent 20 years collecting antiques from Ireland…some of them 400 years old. One website states that the bar and stained glass windows were salvaged from Waterford Castle.

But Alexandria’s history goes back much further than that. “On October 21, 1669 a patent granted 6,000 acres (24 km2) to Robert Howsing for transporting 120 people to the Colony of Virginia. That tract would later become the City of Alexandria.” (Wikipedia)

Interior of Gadsby’s Tavern.

Exterior of Carlyle House Historic Park, home of Union doctors and nurses during the Civil War.

In 1748, a young  George Washington helped sketch some of the area for a potential town near what was then only a set of tobacco warehouses. AF and I visited the little church that George Washington used to attend, and there’s a fun Colonial restaurant called Gadbsy’s Tavern that’s been in the same location since 1785. It feels like you’re on the set of a Jane Austen film, and they happen to serve some tasty local beers.

And of course there’s Mt. Vernon, George’s plantation house. The first time we visited, I don’t remember going into the house, so I made a point of it this time. I also went back for the Colonial Market Fair with another friend and my step-dad when he visited in November, which was super cute. I didn’t buy anything because I wanted to buy everything…lots of amazing period-style pottery and glassware, plus loom-weaving and chocolate-making demonstrations. I did indulge in a yummy rustic ham and cheese sandwich though.

During the furlough I binged a whole season of a show called Mercy Street. During the Civil War, Virginia was part of the Confederate South, but Alexandria was occupied by Union troops. Mercy Street was about a hotel that was used as a hospital, and is based on the true story of some of the doctors and nurses that worked there. The hotel/hospital building is still there but is privately owned, so you can’t visit it. But the house behind it is a museum and is where the aforementioned doctors and nurses lived, so that’s fun to see.

There’re also lots of good modern restaurants with a European flair. You can’t go wrong with Irish beer, French crepes, Italian gelato and fresh seafood…all housed in renovated Colonial architecture. And it certainly looks lovely during the holidays. 🙂

Row houses in Old Town.

Wreaths along Market Square.

Well…

It’s hard to say what kind of year 2018 was. I think it’s safe to say that it was one of the most difficult of my 47 years…along with 2016. But I can also say that A. and I survived our first year with me as a single mom.

For all practical purposes January 11 was the day my marriage ended. Coincidentally it was also the day my mother passed away two years earlier. So January 11 sucks. Might have to mark it as an annual day of mourning.

But I have been truly blessed by and thankful for all the wonderful people that are still in my life. And the parts of this year that shine brightest are the times that I spent with them…coffees, lunches, visits, phone calls, messages. Even if I didn’t get to see you in person, I love you all!!

So here’s the summary of my 2018 big events, good and bad:

January – Medevaced to DC, marriage ended.
February – A. started school in the US, dog and cat arrived from Iceland, visit with friend from California.
March – Officially curtailed from Iceland, trip to California for spring break.
April – Started working at FSI, dog contracted Giardia (seriously, that was a big disgusting event for me).
July – Car and HHE arrived from Iceland.
August – Trip to Toronto for summer break.
September – A. turned 8 and started 3rd grade, visit with friend from Iceland.
October – Visit with friends from the UK.
November – Visit with step-dad from Alaska, trip to New Hampshire for Thanksgiving.
December – First Christmas as a single mom, beginning of government furlough from work.

I bought some champagne for New Year’s Eve but never opened it. I was happy to see this year come to a close but didn’t quite feel like celebrating. As we all know, life doesn’t necessarily tie up nicely at the end of the calendar year.

My resolution for 2019, other than the usual lose 50 lbs, is to be more authentic. I’ve spent a large portion of my life, particularly the last 10 years, not telling people what I think or how I feel because I imagined it would make them unhappy, or put them in a bad mood, or they wouldn’t like me. And it’s turned out to be a fairly unhealthy way to live. Being emotionally honest with yourself and other people actually takes a surprising amount of effort! Well, for me at least. So I’ve got my work cut out for me.

But I like to think that at this time next year, the champagne will be flowing! We will not only know what our next post is, but we will only have six months left in our DC tour and will be making plans for our imminent departure. 😉

Arlington National Cemetery with Christmas wreaths.

I have been officially furloughed for the last three weeks, and even though it is not an ideal situation…and a very difficult one for many…I’ve actually been enjoying it. Alone time is the one thing I have not had since my husband and I separated last January…so the last three weeks have actually been fantastic.

My son and I had a lovely quiet Christmas and New Year together, even though we didn’t get a white Christmas, we got to visit with friends that made it extra special. Then my son was in winter break day camp and started back to school on Jan 2, so I have been taking long naps, having lunches with girlfriends, had a nice spa visit and massage for my birthday last week, and binge watched entire seasons of Mercy Street and Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce. And I’ve even gotten out and about to see a few DC sites…like the Christmas wreaths at Arlington National Cemetery (Department of Defense is still open) and the Fabergé exhibit at Hillwood House.

Hillwood House was amazing. It’s a two-story mansion and garden estate that was last owned by Marjorie Merriweather Post who left it to the city as a museum. Marjorie was one of the wealthiest women in America at the time (with a net worth of $5.7 billion in today’s money). She inherited the Post Cereal Company at the age of 27 when her father passed away. She was married four times, and her third husband was the US Ambassador to the Soviet Union in 1937. They happened to be in Russia when the Soviets were dumping all of the imperial and religious art onto the market and selling it cheap. So Hillwood House has the largest collection of Russian decorative art outside of Russia…including two Fabergé Easter eggs and the original 1883 A Boyar Wedding Feast by Konstantin Makovsky. SO GORGEOUS.

Imperial Faberge Easter eggs at Hillwood House.

I also enjoyed visiting Arlington Cemetery. Even though this is my fifth time staying in DC, I had never made it there. It was an appropriately cold and misty day, and the wreaths, all 350,000 of them, were a touching reminder that every single stone has a story and a family. My mission while I was there was to find the grave of Antarctic explorer Rear Admiral Richard Evelyn Byrd Jr. I spent about 45 minutes looking for his stone then finally gave up…the place is so huge. But then I was thrilled to find his section on my way out.

I was looking for him because Admiral Byrd led five expeditions to Antarctica, was the first person to reach the South Pole by air, and “was the commander of the first U.S. Navy Operation Deep Freeze in 1955–56, which established permanent Antarctic bases at McMurdo Sound, the Bay of Whales, and the South Pole.”

According to Wikipedia, he “was one of the most highly decorated officers in the history of the United States Navy. He is, probably, the only individual to receive the Medal of Honor, Navy Cross, Distinguished Flying Cross and the Silver Life Saving Medal. He also was one of a very few individuals to receive all three Antarctic expedition medals issued for expeditions prior to the Second World War.” Apparently I completely missed the massive statue they have for him somewhere in there. So I guess I will have to go back. But in the meantime, here is a picture of me next to his bust at McMurdo in 2007 and an internet pic (because the camera on my current phone is crap) of his tombstone in Arlington (minus the wreath).

Admiral Byrd’s bust at McMurdo Station and his gravestone in Arlington.

We’ll see what next week brings…

October & November have flown by. I could write pages and pages about everything that we’ve done but don’t have enough time, so I’m just going to blog in pictures. Here’re some of the highlights:

September/October

We had a lovely dinner with friends and checked out the Viking ship Draken Harald Hårfagre when it visited the DC Wharf at the end of September. It was even more meaningful because we’d visited the same ship when it docked in Reykjavik last year.

Draken Harald Hårfagre at the DC Wharf.

We went to Oktoberfest in Vienna, which was a lot more fun for my son than I thought it would be. Lots of fun food, beer and entertainment, and we got to meet the mayor who was serving beer.

We had dinner with friends from Iceland that are currently posted here and a playdate with new local friends.

Had two lunches with Foreign Service friends at work.

Went to a Halloween party, which was my first party since my husband and I separated. I managed to get through an hour and a half and then completely ran out of material for small talk.

Had a fabulous visit with friends from the UK. Unfortunately our current place is too small to have people stay overnight, but we were able to spend a day out together picking pumpkins at Great Country Farms and a couple evenings relaxing at our place, chatting and catching up while the kids played.

The pumpkin patch at Great Country Farms.

We went to the Phillips Collection to see the Nordic Impressions art exhibit. I was excited to find my favorite Kjarval painting that wasn’t in his museum when we visited it in Reykjavik.

“Amazon Woman of the Mountain” by Johannes Sveinsson Kjarval.

We went trick-or-treating in our apartment complex on Halloween. Our dog escaped at one point and chased screaming children down the hall, which was hysterically funny because he’s so sweet and friendly.

November

We took the dog out to visit the Manassas Battlefield one weekend, then checked out the Meadowlark Botanic Garden the next and generally enjoyed the fall colors.

Canons at the Manassas Battlefield.

My step-dad blew through for a quick visit over Veteran’s Day weekend. So we met up with a friend, went to Mt. Vernon for their Colonial Market Fair and had lunch at Gadsby’s colonial tavern in Alexandria.

Prosciutto and fresh cheese sandwiches at the Colonial Market Fair, Mt. Vernon.

Another weekend, we had dinner with another set of friends from Embassy London that are currently posted here.

We flew up to Boston for a lovely Thanksgiving with friends that I used to work with in Antarctica. They’re currently living in Concord, NH, so we spent a great holiday with them, ate lots of turkey, watched it snow, and even got to do a bit of Christmas tree hunting in the woods.

A snowy Thanksgiving view from our friends’ house in Concord, NH.

Looking forward to more holiday fun in December!!

Apple picking at Great Country Farms.

“ANOTHER festival?” my son complained as I informed him of our day’s upcoming adventure. But I managed to swing him around to at least pretend that there’s no such thing as too many country festivals! And we were going to have a friend along. 🙂 My lovely Icelandic coworker, BF, from Embassy Reykjavik was in town for a little less than two weeks for training. So we were able to get together for lunch at FSI and have a weekend daytrip!

We picked BF up at her hotel in Arlington and set off for Great Country Farms in Bluemont, VA. I’d always thought of Northern Virginia as a suburban extension of Washington, DC and one of the Mid-Atlantic States. But apparently it’s very rural, full of farms and national parks, and very much a part of Southern American culture.

Unless I totally missed something when we went strawberry/cherry picking at Hollin Farms, it was just your basic farm with fields and orchards spread over a few low rolling hills. Great Country Farms blew it out of the water. This place was part farm, part farm-themed amusement park. It had a farm shop, wagon rides to the fields for apple picking, marshmallow roasting, a tire hill for climbing, three playgrounds with swings, a rope maze, corn maze, moon bounce, oversized chess board, and ninja obstacle course. All of which we did…or at least watched my son do.

Tire mountain.

Ninja obstacle course.

Then we made our way across the road and past the apple orchards we’d just been scouring, and up the hill to the Bluemont Vineyard tasting room. We’d asked one of the cashiers at the farm if they served food in the tasting rooms, and he’d said not really…just hot dogs and pizza, which sounded fine for us. But boy was he wrong! As their website states, they had a “full menu of farm-to-table, seasonally rotating fare as well as traditional items to enhance your wine tasting experience.”

So we settled in on their amazing deck with views over all of Loudon Valley and ordered a super yummy Taster’s Board with French bread, prosciutto, salami, three kinds of cheese, almonds, pickles and dried cranberries. We also shared The G.O.A.T., which was a long flatbread with fig spread, more prosciutto, goat cheese, arugula, and caramelized onions. It was SO GOOD…up until my eight-year-old boy tried to ingest an entire mouthful of prosciutto, choked on it momentarily, and then regurgitated it all in a big lump onto the middle of the tasting board like a bird. Happily, we’d already finished our food.

Along with our meal we’d chosen a very reasonably-priced small portable wine tasting to accompany it. For $10 we were given cute rustic little wire caddies with six tasting glasses and a card describing the contents of each glass in order. The boy got into the spirit and used our empty glasses to preside over an orange soda tasting, which he he insisted we participate in.

When not sipping orange soda, we tried the 2017 “Autumn” Apple wine (described on the card as “bright, fruity, and semi-sweet”), the 2016 Farm Table White (grapefruit, crisp, rounded), the 2016 Vidal Blanc “The Cow” (sweet, tropical fruits), the 2016 Petit Manseng (dried apricots, lingering acidity), the 2015 Farm Table Red (light tannins, fruit-forward), and the 2016 Merlot “The Ram” (black cherry, raspberry). We both preferred the Autumn Apple white and the Farm Table Red, so I picked up a few bottles on the way out to enjoy later.

The deck of the tasting rooms at Bluemont Vineyard.

Our tasting caddies…and orange soda.

We had driven through the tiny downtown of Bluemont (population 3,000) on the way to the farm and noticed they were having a town fair. So we decided to stop in on our way out. Unfortunately it had become quite hot and humid, so we walked through rather quickly on a mission to get some ice cream, which felt a lot further away than I’d originally thought…stopping occasionally to peek in a tent at the handcrafted goods or watch a short performance. The ice cream was housed in the Bluemont General Store, which was super cute and felt like it hadn’t changed much since it opened in the 1840s.

Eventually we returned to the dirt parking lot and headed back toward DC. It had been a wonderful day out! Who could go wrong with friends, family, wine and fun. 🙂

View of the Toronto skyline from Centre Island.

One of the joys of being a newly-single parent is that I’m now solely responsible for taking care of our son when he’s sick, off school or there’re no camps in session. This summer there was one week where he had nothing going on, so I decided to take advantage of the time off and visit some friends of ours from our first post in Belize who are now stationed in Toronto.

This being our first time leaving the country without his father, I found out from Canadian immigration that I had to have documentation to prove that I wasn’t trying to kidnap my own child and spirit him away overseas. I was a little stressed about this at first, but by the time the trip came around, I had all my ducks in a row, and in the end…no one even asked…and we had a fabulously smooth and fun adventure.

We hadn’t seen our Toronto friends in five years, and our boys had been best friends when they were toddlers. So I was very happy to see them hit it off again, now bonding over their favorite video games, while us moms relaxed, drank a bit of wine and got caught up on all the details of half a decade of family life. The boys got to sleep in bunk beds in the same room, so A was super excited, and I had the rare opportunity to sleep in a room by myself and not get up until after 8am.

While our prime motivation was just to visit, we also got a chance to see a bit of the city, which is convenient since it’s on the projected 2020 bid list as a potential next post. Our first day out, we made it to the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) with a stop at the Duke of York pub for lunch.

Royal Ontario Museum, photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

Kids being kids inside the ROM.

Another day we took a water taxi over to Centre Island, spent some time at the Centreville Amusement Park and let the kids change into their swimsuits and cool off in the water at Chelsea Beach and again at the Lakeshore Splash Pad. On other days we visited the Toronto Zoo, had lunch at a lovely Italian restaurant called Terroni (yumm!) and tagged along on their meet-the-teacher event at the kids’ school (also excellent for potential school research).

Waiting for the swan boats on Centre Island.

Splashing in the water at Chelsea Beach.

In the end we were very sad to go, and my big boy was visibly fighting tears and rubbing his eyes in the car on the way to the airport. It’s amazing how nourishing it can be for your soul to rekindle special friendships. And I will always be thankful for the wonderful friends we have made in the Foreign Service and the life that allows our paths to continue to cross. Love you all!!

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