Posted in California, WashingtonDC

Spring in DC

Checking out some local cherry trees in Kenwood, MD.

Another month has flown by, and summer is swiftly approaching…not that that will make a real difference in my life at the moment. But A will get to experience his first American summer break from school.

On the business end, I’ve started work at FSI (woo hoo!!). So happy and thankful that it all worked out. And the campus is gorgeous right now with all the cherry blossoms in bloom. Things are finally in motion, and we should be getting our household goods packed out from Iceland this week.

Here in our current home, we had our rental furniture removed and our stuff delivered from storage, which has been interesting. There are a few things we put in there back in 2011 when we joined, a few things from when we left Belize in 2013, and all of my mom’s things from after she passed away.

So I’ve been lovingly going through each box and deciding whether to keep or donate. I’d love to keep everything of my mom’s for sentimental value, but some things just aren’t that meaningful…like a random set of 12 white coffee mugs. Not even sure why she had those. But I’m happy to keep a lot of the knick-knacks she had from when I was a kid that so remind me of her.

On the fun side, we made it out to California to visit friends and family for spring break, and we had such a wonderful time. I don’t see my dad and step-mom as often as I’d like, so it was really lovely to spend some time with them. They’ve been in the same house since I was a kid, so it’s very grounding and comforting and warm and happy, which felt extra good after the chaos of the last few months.

While we were gone, I boarded the dog at a local kennel. It had potential, other than being twice as expensive as the kennel in Iceland, but it had some concerning results. Like he contracted giardia and had diarrhea in the apartment several times before I could get him to the vet. Ugh, SO nasty and disgusting…especially now that we have carpeted floors.

He also had a massive scab on one side of his face. I don’t know if he got that trying to escape from his crate at night or from another dog. Either way, I wasn’t impressed. He’s such a little love bug, there have been a few times at various dog parks here in the States where the dogs have been mean or aggressive, and he’s ended up hiding under a bench. Poor little guy. I’m sure he’s missing his home in Iceland. I know I am!

On a more positive note, we continue to try and get out and about locally and spent Easter at a friend’s house, complete with egg-hunt for the kids, champagne, a lovely dinner and wonderful company. We also caught up with some friends from Antarctica and went out to dinner one evening and to the Air & Space Museum at Dulles the next day.

Speaking of food, I’ve also signed up for Hello Fresh! We had our first box last week, and A and I had a lovely time cooking up a fancy burger meal together. So things are puttering along toward normalcy. When our HHE arrives, and our apartment is finally in order, I will finally begin to feel settled. Wonder what’s on the bid list for 2020.

Posted in Belize, California, R&R

Our First R&R

Hello and Happy New Year! It’s been about a month since my last post, but I have a good reason. We’ve just returned from our first official R&R! If you’re new to Foreign Service blogs, R&Rs are granted as a break from your current country based on the level of hardship associated with it.

So if you’re in London, there is no R&R. Our entry-level post in Belize has one R&R. If you’re spending a year in Iraq, I believe you get two R&Rs, etc. R&R is not a free vacation; they only pay for the plane ticket. So you have to use your existing vacation time. I think it’s great. They understand that travel is expensive, and if you don’t get away at least once, you might lose it. Plus it’s supposed to be revitalizing and makes you more pleasant to work with.

For our one and only R&R in Belize, we chose to go back to California and visit family for the holidays. The visit was great. Our son got to meet grandparents and aunts and uncles that he hadn’t seen yet, so he is now loved by a whole new group of people. And we were excited to see them too, as it’s been close to five years since we’d last been together.

And we got some good vacationing in. Belize doesn’t have a movie theater, so I got to see Les Miserables with the girls, and my hubby and I went to The Hobbit on a date night. They were both fantastic, and I highly recommend them. We also hit some fast food places like In & Out Burger, McDonald’s and Taco Bell, as well as some yummy local restaurants such as Italian Cottage (a great Northern California chain since 1965), the restaurant in the Sierra Nevada Brewery, and newer ones like the T. Bar & Fusion Café, the Spice Creek Café, and Crush.

We did miss a few things that I was hoping to hit like La Comida (Mexican, ironically), Zot’s Hot Dogs, Dairy Queen and Baskin Robbins. But we only had two weeks that spanned two holidays. So lots of things were closed…including my childhood playground in the park downtown. I was so disappointed the day we went that our son couldn’t see it. Hopefully next time.

But my hubby still managed to get his hair cut, and we did a bit of shopping in Target and spent about four hours in the Arden Mall in Sacramento. It’s a weird feeling wanting to buy everything in sight because you’re finally in a decent commercial area, but then realizing that you’re going to either drag everything back in your luggage or ship it, so you might as well order it from home. And you end up doing a lot of window shopping instead.

Unfortunately, the trip itself was a bit of a nightmare physically and logistically. We bought a special rolling car seat attachment, so we could bring it on the plane and not have to bring a stroller. But the wheel broke on our way to board the plane in Belize. So we got to carry the broken piece of junk, the giant car seat, and the baby, in addition to our carry-on luggage, all through the Dallas airport. On the way back, we checked the car seat in a special bag, and the airline lost it altogether but recovered it the next day and delivered it to us in a taxi cab.

We were also sick the entire vacation. Not with the flu that’s sweeping the nation, but with a good old-fashioned head and chest cold. I didn’t have any problems landing in Dallas with my head congestion, but Sacramento was a different story. Apparently the pressure in my ears had increased, and my ear drum actually ruptured during our descent. So I spent the next 10 days with partial hearing loss and feeling like I had someone’s finger stuck in my ear. We also had some tummy troubles as we weren’t used to all the rich and processed food. I guess it helped keep the holiday weight gain down.

On the way back, we missed our return flight out of Sacramento, which was totally my fault. Through the entire vacation, I could’ve sworn we were leaving at 6:30am, but it was actually 6:00. And 30 minutes is simply not enough time to go through check-in, take the tram, and go through security at SMF. I turn into some kind of feral animal when I’m late for a flight, so I will just say that I am not proud of my behavior in the airport. But my husband was awesome and amazingly patient, which is kind of a role reversal for us. Our son was actually really well behaved for getting dragged out of his travel crib at 4am, even if he was a little fussy and wept quietly on an off in a security line that was twice as long as it should be at 5:45am.

Miraculously there was an identical flight three gates down that had been cancelled and rescheduled from the day before. So were able to jump on that one and make it back to our midway point. The connecting flight out of Dallas was delayed for two hours as someone had puked on the plane, then the cleaners had dumped a ton of chemicals on it that had sent one of the flight attendants to the hospital. So they eventually gave us a whole new aircraft. And we eventually landed safe and sound back in Belize…where we crept down the dark Western Highway… at 30 miles per hour…in the pouring rain…until we… finally…made it…home.

But it was worth it. 🙂