Sunday, December 23, 2012

Follow the Light

On Thursday, I had to drive to a part of the city where I'd never been to pick up Jimmy's Christmas present. When I left the embassy, it was blue skies, which was a blessing because the traffic would've been an even worse pre-Christmas nightmare had it been raining.

My euphoria was short-lived because the clouds rolled in very quickly.

But there was always a window of light straight in front of me. Sort of a subliminal Christmas message to follow the Light.

I hope no matter where you're celebrating this most joyous of holiday seasons, it is merry and bright!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Baking Gingerbread

Mac really wanted to bake gingerbread cookies this Christmas season.

You know how I feel about baking.

Especially at this altitude.

But we baked gingerbread cookies - not gingerbread people because I don't have people cookie cutters - Sunday afternoon and they are quite possibly the best gingerbread cookies.  Ever.

Yeah, you heard me.  These cookies are that good.  If we do say so ourselves.

The decorating on the other hand will win no awards. The icing was too loose and drippy, so they're a  bit messy and nondescript.  jimmy thought the wreath cookies were scallops. But did I mention how good they taste???  From top to bottom, we have Jimmy's batch (notice the smiley face scallop), my amazing and artistic cookies, and Mac's colorful explosion cookies.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

random musings

1.  Christmas is two weeks from today.  I can't believe how quickly it's coming.  I have finished all my shopping, which is a minor Christmas miracle in and of itself.

2.  Vacation starts in 18 days and this cannot come a moment too soon.  Hawaii, here we come.

3.  Mac got his first term report card and he did really well.  Super-proud of that boy.

4.  Key Stage 2 at Mac's school (grades 3-6) had their sports day last week and Mac scored big.  He came home with a trophy that looks like something they'd give to the Heisman Trophy winner.  Serious blingage.  The events were all track and field, which I think is definitely Mac's strength.

5.  Mac got sunburned at sports day and is now peeling.  Oh, to be peeling in December.  Unfortunately, the florescent lights in my office do not give me a peel-worthy sunburn.

6.  We tried to do a Christmas light tour last weekend around Bogota, but apparently the other 8,000,000 people in Bogota had the same idea.  It was a bit of a bust.

7.  I enjoyed great fellowship with my Bible Study gals at a pre-Christmas lunch on Saturday.  These ladies inspire me so much (and they're great cooks).

8.  We attended the embassy's Christmas party on Saturday morning.  Mac had a great time.  He didn't participate in any of the Christmas activities (except being coerced into taking a Santa photo), but instead rolled down the large hill in the yard repeatedly for about 1.5 hours.  Here he is with a tickling Santa and his very good buddy John.

9.  We went to Mac's Christmas concert at school a couple weeks ago.  He takes "Stomp", where they beat on the floor and cans and drums and make rhythmic noise.  They did a great job.  (Mac is on the far right, closest to the front of the stage.)

10.  The most illuminating part of the Christmas concert was when I went to the girls' bathroom and saw all of this on the back of the door.

Mac is in the 4th grade and Jimmy and I were in the 5th grade when he gave me flowers, so we're not that far removed from Mac potentially meeting his bride, aka my daughter-in-law. Y.I.K.E.S.  

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

the toe

Despite antibiotics and more attention than any big toe deserves, the consensus at the doctor's office this morning was that my toe was not better.  So a betadine soak and 2 anesthetic shots in the toe later (ouch!), I got a sliver of my toenail extracted.  I wish I'd thought to take a photo of what came out so you could see my fine pedicurist abilities.  NOT.  There was a perfectly straight cut down one side where the doctor cut through the nail and on the other side was a little jaggedy bit sticking out.  That would be my handiwork.  And that was the part that was burrowing into the side of my nail bed, where the infection was.

Because I believe in sharing my misery with you, I give you the photographic evidence of the toe, some 7 hours post-procedure.

After removing the gauze, this is what I found stuck to my toe.
The doctor did ask me if I took aspirin because the blood was flowing so fast.

The little gauze square finally came off after Epsom Salt soaking.

A fuzzy photo (intentionally fuzzy for your benefit).  The red is the missing toenail.  It's an attractive look, right?
I can't wait to go to Hawaii for our R&R with that good-looking toe.  Nice.
I have learned my lesson.

Monday, November 26, 2012

no more home pedicures

One of the great benefits of living overseas in a place like Colombia is inexpensive in-home manicures and pedicures.  For awhile, I had our lady come regularly to give us all manis and pedis.  These appointments kept everybody's hands and feet looking nice.

And then I got off-schedule because Mac had a Friday afternoon birthday party when I had our appointments scheduled so I had to cancel.

And then I didn't reschedule because we were in the Halloween/Marine Ball rush and I was at the salon every weekend and could get my fingernails done.

But I neglected my toes.

So last week I wore heels and my ingrown toenail started hurting from the downward pressure in skinny toed-shoes, so I decided to take care of business.  Taking care of business meant basically ripping out the cuticle on one side of my big toe.  The toe hurt like crazy all week and then on the weekend, I noticed it was getting redder and the red was expanding.  I soaked in Epsom Salt all weekend and coated it in Neosporin, all with little to no effect.  So today I took myself to the health unit and I am now taking antibiotics for the infection that has taken up residence in my toe.  I will never give up my day job to become a manicurist.

I go back to the doctor in two days and we shall hope it's much improved.  If it's not, I've been promised we're moving to Plan B, which is to remove part of the toenail.

Stay tuned for the rest of the story...

Saturday, November 24, 2012

one more post-Thanksgiving musing

Jimmy and I are rice people.  Our people do not eat mashed potatoes and gravy for Thanksgiving or Christmas or almost any other occasion.  We eat rice and gravy.

We have learned that we are in the minority.

Most of the world are mashed potatoes and gravy sort of folks.  This is not negotiable at the holidays for most of the world.

We learned this the hard way when we hosted our first real Thanksgiving 9 years ago and we cooked about 30 cups of rice (to accommodate the rice-eating capacity of "our" people) and only we and the one Puerto Rican in the crowd ate rice.  The rest of the people were looking under pot lids for the non-existent mashed potatoes.

Now we cook mashed potatoes for these important holidays and just dream that the potatoes are rice.

The Pioneer Woman came through for me this year. She blogged last week about make-ahead mashed potatoes. Who ever heard of such a thing??  Making mashed potatoes a day or two before the event is a game changer, people.

So I made the potatoes on Wednesday night, put them in the fridge to wait, and heated them in the oven on Thursday.  Oh.My.Gosh.  These were the best mashed potatoes ever.  I will be making these early and often.  If you need to make mashed potatoes, but would like to avoid the stress of last-minute mashing and then keeping them hot until serving, check out the Pioneer Woman's blog.  You will not be disappointed!

random musings

1.  We are currently watching the Clemson-Carolina football game.  The highlight for me?  The wings Jimmy made.  He cooked the best wings he's ever cooked and the three of us ate 39 wings.  Un.Be.Liev.A.Ble.  We will eat nothing but vegetables tomorrow.

2.  We had a wonderful Thanksgiving.  After my threat to boycott after last year's Thanksgiving (in my defense, I'd just returned from a month of training in DC, I had just returned to work full-time for the first time in nearly 10 years, we had a houseful of company, and we'd invited even more people to TG on top of our houseguests), we hosted a very manageable Thanksgiving and I loved the whole thing from start to finish.
the table setting for Thanksgiving
3.  The dessert highlight of Thanksgiving was a turkey cake made by my friend Suzanne.  No, I am not kidding. It was complete with stuffing and fondant peas and carrots and Rice Krispie Treat wings and legs.    It was nothing short of brilliant.  I give you photographic evidence:

4.  I had to work on Friday after Thanksgiving.  It was a very long day.

5.  On Friday evening, I took Mac and three of our young friends to see Rise of the Guardians.  It was excellent, even though the "scary" bits ended with one girl in my lap and another with her arm wrapped around mine.  It was a great message and I highly recommend it.  

6.  What I know for sure after taking 4 children aged 10 and under to the movies by myself is that I'm not meant to have 4 young children at one time.  It's a bit like herding cats.  Everybody goes in a different direction, it's hard to make decisions at the popcorn line, there are decisions about "to go or not to go" when confronted by the bathroom, and there's just a lot of concern over whether everybody can get to their seat without spilling their popcorn or drink. Whew.

7.  Between Thanksgiving, Friday work, and the movie on Friday night, I was pooped.  I went to sleep at about 9:45 last night and slept until 8am this morning.  This moma was tired.

8.  We decorated for Christmas today.  We didn't put up nearly the decorations as we normally do, but we do have two of the smallest Christmas trees known to mankind up and lit and decorated.  I've tried to restrain myself since we're going on vacation soon after Christmas and I know I have to take down whatever goes up now before we leave.  There's definitely a feeling of Christmas in the house and that will be enough until December 25.

9.  We're now at half-time in the game and I'm not 100% sure if I'll make it to the end.  There must be post-Thanksgiving tryptophan still in my system or else the wings are narcolepsy-inducing.

Hope you're enjoying your Thanksgiving weekend!!

Happy Thanksgiving from us to you!

Mac's Birthday Party

On Tuesday, Mac turned 10.  This means that for one decade of my life I've been a parent.


This is shocking to me, namely because in my head I believe I am still 27 and there's no way possible that I could have been a parent for a decade.

Regardless, this kid is so awesome.  He's smart and funny and has an incredibly developed sense of sarcasm for a 10 year-old.  I appreciate sarcasm in a human being.

For his birthday, we celebrated with a group of friends at Laser Shots, the local laser tag joint in Bogota.  There's nothing like a bunch of British school boys playing laser tag after school.  They were adorable in their uniforms.
The birthday cake.  Chocolate cake with vanilla icing.  As requested.

The birthday party room at Laser Shots.

Getting ready to make a wish.

The laser taggers.

The scores.

The Red Team.  Jimmy's bodyguard had to pinch hit when one child didn't show up.  He was happy to pinch hit.

The Yellow Team.  AKA The Rock-n-Roll Team.

The Green Team.
All in all, I think the party was successful.  If success is measured by fatigue, then I can tell you from my point of view that it was a tremendous, resounding success.  Here's to the next decade with my sweet boy.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

random musings

1.  Mac turns 10 on Tuesday and this depresses me.  How has a decade passed since he was born?

2.  Mac had his birthday party at the local laser tag place on Friday afternoon.  Eleven boys around the age of 10 is a lot of energy.  I was pooped and I didn't even play.  Photos coming later.

3.  I made a carrot cake this weekend to freeze for Thanksgiving.  You know my luck with baking at this altitude so I decided to do it early in case I needed a Plan B.  Mac also requested layers instead of a sheet cake, which I believe has something to do with more frosting coverage. At this altitude, I got 3 layers instead of 2, so it's a tall cake (or at least taller than a sheet cake).  I had bought canned cream cheese frosting (in case the cake turned out horrible), but the layers came out so nicely that I decided I couldn't ruin this cake with canned frosting.  So I went all out and used American butter from the commissary (instead of Colombian butter from the grocery store) because American butter really does make it taste better.  The cake is now frosted and in the freezer.  I have named it the Leaning Tower of Carrot Cake because it has a distinct tilt, but I think it's going to be yummy.

4.  Jimmy and I attended the Marine Ball a couple weeks ago.  I wore the same dress as I did two years ago  (and yes, somebody pointed that out to me at the ball) because I love this dress more than any other formal dress I've ever owned or worn.  It's comfortable and I feel like a queen in it.  I also got my hair and makeup done and that was really special.  A photo at home and then at dinner:

5.  Every woman of a certain age should own Spanx.  I am a woman over that certain age but I do not own Spanx.  I will remedy that situation when I am next in the US and have access to Spanx.  To make do for the Marine Ball, I put on a pair of control-top pantyhose and cut off the feet.  The control-top part worked out great, but the legs rode up higher and higher as the evening went on.  By the time we got home, the leg parts that had been around my ankles when we started out were now up around my thighs.

6.  Going back to October now, Mac chose to go as a werewolf for Halloween.  He was insistent about the costume that we had to buy as soon as he saw it online.  So I ordered it and had it shipped to my mom's house so they could either return it or bring it back with them after their trip home in October.  Mac didn't want to return it when he had the chance, but nearly as soon as he returned to Bogota, he announced that he was having second thoughts.  Sorry, werewolf boy, that ship sailed when you got on the plane headed south.  So he put the costume on for a photo at home on the day that they were celebrating Halloween at school.  By the time he got to the embassy that same afternoon for the embassy's Halloween festivities, he didn't even have the mask or the shirt with the furry chest.  He went from werewolf boy to hairy arm/hand boy at the embassy and then again at a party the next day.

7.  Jimmy and I have not dressed up for Halloween in years, namely because we've not had a reason to dress up.  Well this year, we had invitations to three different parties, all of which required costumes.  Jimmy was gifted clothing that looks like Juan Valdez, the coffee guy.  Juan Valdez's dress is typical (or stereotypical) of male paisas, who are from the area around Medellin, Colombia.  Well if he was going as a male paisa, I needed to go as a female paisa.  Female paisas are stereotypical big-chested, big-bottomed, long-haired, tight-clothed, high-heeled, overly made-up ladies.  Sort of like the Colombian version of the Jersey Shore.  We called ourselves Don Julio and Cristina (the first party) and Don Julio and Ana Maria (the second and third parties).

So this is bad lighting and a frontal view so you can't see my padded underwear (which you can buy at any store here - they're that common!), but you'll get the gist of Cristina (this was week one), the paisa.

Again, a bad photo from a Blackberry camera, but you get the idea... Jimmy won Most Original and Funniest Costume Prizes at the third party we attended.  I think it was the mustache and unibrow that pushed him over the competition!!

8.  I also needed Spanx for this costume.  I do not wear leggings without sufficient coverage (like down to my knees).  But my Colombian coworker/friend who took me shopping for this get-up said that there could be no coverage.  I wasted another pair of control-top pantyhose by cutting off the feet.  The money that I wasted in pantyhose that I ruined over three consecutive weeks would probably equal whatever Spanx costs.

9.  A message from Mac's teacher the other day:
"We were discussing goals and I was giving the example of wanting to be the world's best ping pong player by the time I am 40. One of my boys chipped in with - Aren't you already 40? As I was picking my jaw up from the floor and preparing myself to speak, this little voice said "Of course she's not and don't you know you don't ever ask a lady her age!" Bless that boy of yours!"

I asked Mac about it later and he said "I remembered your telling me you never ask a lady her age when we were in Bariloche." We were in Bariloche, Argentina in the summer of 2008 so he's been listening to me for longer than I thought!!  Bless that boy and his sweet manners.

I hope as we start this most meaningful of holiday weeks - Thanksgiving - that all of our blessings are abundant and that we take time to appreciate each and every one of them.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Are you daring greatly?

A couple weeks ago, I read a blog post by The Pioneer Woman who was reading a book called Daring Greatly:  How the Courage to be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent and Lead by Brene Brown.  The title of the book was excerpted from a speech given by Teddy Roosevelt and really moved me.  

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.

The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again,

because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause;

who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly…”

                                                                                                ~ Theodore Roosevelt, 1910

My goal is to dare more greatly.  How about you?

the celebratory flag raising

Last Thursday was Mac's school's 15th Anniversary Celebration Flag Raising.  Any flag raising is special, but this was really special for two reasons.  First of all, Mac got his Griffin House Vice Captain pin, which is pretty fancy and much greener and much bigger than I expected.  And secondly, we received our prize for winning the 15th Anniversary logo contest.

Some photos from the event:
The award-winning logo!

Mac getting his Griffin Vice Captain pin - he's third from the left with all the other house captains and vice captains

Mac and me receiving our prize for the logo!  (And our logo is featured on that banner in front of the podium.)

You can't see Mac, but he's helping to hold up the House Cup (which Griffin House currently is in possession of since they're leading in house points). He's pictured with the other Griffin Captains and Vice Captains.
A photo taken by a friend.  That smile?  Well that's the smile of somebody who just won a  big gift card to Andres Carne de Res in a little logo contest.  Oh yeah baby!

Another photo taken by a friend.  I just love Mac's stance in the photo.  He looks so confident and sure of himself.
I love that boy.

Monday, September 17, 2012

random musings on a Monday night

1.  Mac and I are home alone while Jimmy's in Washington, DC all week.  When left to our own devices, we order pizza.

2.  Remember the lady in the next building over who always got naked in front of the window?  Well, they've moved.  We noticed last week that the apartment seemed empty, but just about the time we confirmed it, another family started moving it.  The new lady of the house looks a little older than the exhibitionist, so here's hoping that she likes to change her clothes in private.

3.  Mac's school recently held a logo design competition in honor of its 15th anniversary.  Now, we're not really creative types at our house but I decided we had to enter this contest.  Mac and I vetoed Jimmy's Harry Potter theme because really, it was pretty dumb and the only connection was that Harry Potter and the school are both British.  Mac decided we should use the school's theme - Learning for an Evolving World - and I came up with the rest, which was really quite genius for me.  And guess what?  WE WON!  I know, I know.  We've never won an "artsy" contest ever (see beginning of Item #3) and it's entirely possible that nobody voted but Jimmy and me.  Well and actually Jimmy didn't even vote.  I logged on to his school account and voted for him.  But regardless, we won!  Because Jimmy's in the US, I get to represent us alone at the 15th Anniversary Flag Raising on Thursday morning.  Would it be in poor taste and reflecting bad sportsmanship if I blew an air horn when they announce the winner? Pretty excited over this little victory.

4.  We're about 99% sure we know where Jimmy's next assignment is, but I don't want to jinx us so I'm not going to tell you now.  Stay tuned.

5.  Work is work is work.

6.  We're hosting a tailgating party on Saturday night.  We've gotten into this group of folks who take turns making curry and we needed to reciprocate, but we don't cook curry.  So we decided to buck the tradition and do what we know.  Ribs and football!  Plus stuff for munching before and some good stuff to go with the ribs.  We've got a few Americans coming but also some Brits, Dutch, and Colombians, none of whom will have likely ever tailgated so they won't know if we screw it up or not.

Happy Monday!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Hillary Clinton on the Deaths of American Personnel in Benghazi

I know that many of you reading this won't feel the personal and emotional attachment that I feel, but having shared a diplomat's life for 14+ years, the death of the Ambassador and others in Benghazi is alarming to me and makes me unbelievably sad.  I hope you'll read Secretary Clinton's comments and remember the work that diplomats, these largely unsung heroes, are doing every single day in remote places around this globe, all to promote the freedoms and core values that we in the western world take largely for granted. 

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton

On the Deaths of American Personnel in Benghazi, Libya

September 12, 2012
Treaty Room
Washington, D.C.

SECRETARY CLINTON:  Yesterday, our U.S. diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya was attacked.  Heavily armed militants assaulted the compound and set fire to our buildings.  American and Libyan security personnel battled the attackers together.  Four Americans were killed.  They included Sean Smith, a Foreign Service information management officer, and our Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens.  We are still making next of kin notifications for the other two individuals.

This is an attack that should shock the conscience of people of all faiths around the world.  We condemn in the strongest terms this senseless act of violence, and we send our prayers to the families, friends, and colleagues of those we’ve lost.

All over the world, every day, America’s diplomats and development experts risk their lives in the service of our country and our values, because they believe that the United States must be a force for peace and progress in the world, that these aspirations are worth striving and sacrificing for.  Alongside our men and women in uniform, they represent the best traditions of a bold and generous nation.

In the lobby of this building, the State Department, the names of those who have fallen in the line of duty are inscribed in marble.  Our hearts break over each one.  And now, because of this tragedy, we have new heroes to honor and more friends to mourn. 

Chris Stevens fell in love with the Middle East as a young Peace Corps volunteer teaching English in Morocco.  He joined the Foreign Service, learned languages, won friends for America in distant places, and made other people’s hopes his own. 

In the early days of the Libyan revolution, I asked Chris to be our envoy to the rebel opposition.  He arrived on a cargo ship in the port of Benghazi and began building our relationships with Libya’s revolutionaries.  He risked his life to stop a tyrant, than gave his life trying to help build a better Libya.  The world needs more Chris Stevenses.  I spoke with his sister, Ann, this morning, and told her that he will be remembered as a hero by many nations.

Sean Smith was an Air Force veteran.  He spent 10 years as an information management officer in the State Department, he was posted at The Hague, and was in Libya on a brief temporary assignment.  He was a husband to his wife Heather, with whom I spoke this morning.  He was a father to two young children, Samantha and Nathan.  They will grow up being proud of the service their father gave to our country, service that took him from Pretoria to Baghdad, and finally to Benghazi. 

The mission that drew Chris and Sean and their colleagues to Libya is both noble and necessary, and we and the people of Libya honor their memory by carrying it forward.  This is not easy.  Today, many Americans are asking – indeed, I asked myself – how could this happen?  How could this happen in a country we helped liberate, in a city we helped save from destruction?  This question reflects just how complicated and, at times, how confounding the world can be.

But we must be clear-eyed, even in our grief.  This was an attack by a small and savage group – not the people or Government of Libya.  Everywhere Chris and his team went in Libya, in a country scarred by war and tyranny, they were hailed as friends and partners.  And when the attack came yesterday, Libyans stood and fought to defend our post.  Some were wounded.  Libyans carried Chris’ body to the hospital, and they helped rescue and lead other Americans to safety.  And last night, when I spoke with the President of Libya, he strongly condemned the violence and pledged every effort to protect our people and pursue those responsible. 

The friendship between our countries, borne out of shared struggle, will not be another casualty of this attack.  A free and stable Libya is still in America’s interest and security, and we will not turn our back on that, nor will we rest until those responsible for these attacks are found and brought to justice.  We are working closely with the Libyan authorities to move swiftly and surely.  We are also working with partners around the world to safeguard other American embassies, consulates, and citizens.

There will be more time later to reflect, but today, we have work to do.  There is no higher priority than protecting our men and women wherever they serve.  We are working to determine the precise motivations and methods of those who carried out this assault.  Some have sought to justify this vicious behavior, along with the protest that took place at our Embassy in Cairo yesterday, as a response to inflammatory material posted on the internet.  America’s commitment to religious tolerance goes back to the very beginning of our nation.  But let me be clear – there is no justification for this, none.  Violence like this is no way to honor religion or faith.  And as long as there are those who would take innocent life in the name of God, the world will never know a true and lasting peace.

It is especially difficult that this happened on September 11th.  It’s an anniversary that means a great deal to all Americans.  Every year on that day, we are reminded that our work is not yet finished, that the job of putting an end to violent extremism and building a safe and stable world continues.  But September 11th means even more than that.  It is a day on which we remember thousands of American heroes, the bonds that connect all Americans, wherever we are on this Earth, and the values that see us through every storm.  And now it is a day on which we will remember Sean, Chris, and their colleagues.

May God bless them, and may God bless the thousands of Americans working in every corner of the world who make this country the greatest force for peace, prosperity, and progress, and a force that has always stood for human dignity – the greatest force the world has ever known.  And may God continue to bless the United States of America.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Lucky and Goldy

Some 24 hours into Operation Goldfish and the fish are still operating. They are most definitely traumatized by the light, which to be fair is like an interrogation room light and probably burns their little fish corneas. Jimmy likes to turn it on to see them scurry down to the rocks, so I have unplugged it to avoid temptation.

The only major problem with the fish is that I can't get their water crystal clear and it's driving me crazy. This afternoon Jimmy took Mac to the movies and I decided to remove the fish and clean all the rocks and fish paraphernalia in the tank.  I scrubbed rocks and the silly fake tree, and I bathed the No Pescar (no fishing) sign and mushrooms that Mac picked out.

I refilled the whole thing, making sure the rock bridge was stable and wouldn't actually crumble on a poor, unsuspecting fish, I added the capful of the cleaner liquid and after waiting the required amount of time, I scooped the fish back out of their temporary holding tank, aka a Zip-loc bag, and put them back in the water that is still not crystal clear. Lucky and Goldy don't seem flustered by their less-than-Caribbean surroundings, but I don't want to be "those people" with the gross fish tank.

Maybe Ruth will have some home remedy to fix fish tank water????

Saturday, September 8, 2012

random musings on a Saturday afternoon...

1.  The Gamecocks have won two weeks in a row and that makes the boys in my house very happy.

2.  Today Jimmy and Mac watched the game with an American friend here who's not a Gamecock fan, but who is sympathetic to those who are.  I joined them at halftime and enjoyed a great lunch prepared by Art and his wife - pulled pork with a sauce that tasted like home and the most wonderful potato salad.

3.  I love people who can make delicious potato salad.  I have attempted to make potato salad once.  I overcooked the potatoes and it was more like mashed potato salad.

4.  This week I got an email from Mac's teacher that read as follows:
     "We had a discussion in PSHE (Personal, Social and Health Education, Citizenship & Religious Education) today about rules.  We started out by covering rules we'd broken and progressed to rules that we think have life or death style consequences… Your son put his hand up to give me one of the "life or death ones". His answer -  Not yelling over the top of my Mum when she's talking…  Maybe I need to start employing some of your consequences!"

    Is it bad for your child's teacher to think he's being raised by an ogre?

5.  In huge news, Mac was elected Key Stage 2 Vice-Captain of Griffin House at his school.  He had to give a 'why you should elect me speech' that we worked on the night before the big election.  We discussed speaking from the heart and apparently he took that message to heart because he changed the speech on the fly to talk about sportsmanship.  I have no idea what being a house vice-captain involves - and I'm not sure that Mac does either.  He know he gets a pin to wear on his dress uniform and he's inordinately happy about that.  We're so proud of him and what he's accomplished.

6.  Today we rolled the dice on fish guardianship... again.  We bought two goldfish-esque sort of fish, a fancy tank with a pump and some food.  We just put them in the water in the tank after trying to get the water just right, and there's not a lot of activity going on.  We may break a record for fastest fish kill ever.  Their names -for the moment - are Lucky and Goldy.  "Lucky" might be a misnomer.  Wish us luck.

7.  Work is work.  I'm pretty tired of stress and mean, demanding people.  When I played tennis 4 days a week, nobody was mean and demanding.  Sigh.

8.  In breaking news, Mac turned the light off on the fish tank and the fish immediately sprang into action.  They're not dead yet.

Hope you're having a great weekend!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

day one of 4th grade!

He reports that he had a GREAT day!

have I told you lately about our housekeeper, Ruth?

So I was a little down on Ruth for awhile before my vacation.

I know, I know.

I have somebody to clean my house who loves my child.  What is there to complain about?

I won't bore you with the details, but I got a bit mopey about her (read here, the stress from my job) so Jimmy decided to take action.  He asked her before our vacation if she could start cooking dinner two nights a week, thinking that would take some stress off of me after working all day.  He left her with two cookbooks in Spanish that I'd bought and told her to study up over the three weeks I was away.

Well, I don't know where Ruth the Cook was hiding for the last two years but she is showing her stuff this week and she hasn't even touched the cookbooks yet.  For last night's dinner, I asked if she'd cook lentils to go with some leftover barbecued chicken.  She cooked the best lentils I've ever eaten, which we ate over the rice she also cooked.  She also made a side dish of sweet plantains that Jimmy and I ate like it was candy.  My contribution to dinner:  heating the barbecued chicken.

Tonight's dinner was an Asian rice dish with broccoli, chicken, red peppers, bean sprouts, ginger, and who knows what else.  Y.U.M.  My contribution to dinner:  serving it from the pot.

Oh, and we have enough leftovers (after she took home food for her and her son) to eat for at least the next 4 days.

So Ruth is fully back in my good graces, not that she ever left them.  I have loved not having to cook and clean up the kitchen.  A girl could definitely get used to this.

(As an aside, while I was away on vacation, Ruth washed all the curtains and sheers, had the carpets cleaned, flipped all the mattresses, cleaned the house from top to very bottom, and even bought and potted new plants for the balcony.  I know, I know....  I'll quit my whining now.)

Friday, August 17, 2012

Vacation, part 3

The last week of my vacation was spent at my most favorite place in the world:  Folly Beach.

It was a great week of family, friends, sun, Olympics-watching, amazing storms, more sun, swimming, crabbing, fishing, casual dinners followed by dominoes marathons... you get the picture.

I loved every second of it!

Jimmy and Mac went fishing at the pier.  They caught a horseshoe crab!

Jimmy and the boogie board

Mac on the crabbing expedition

Gigi and Mac with their crabbing accoutrements

The Folly River 

Gigi at the river

Hitching a ride back with a really nice Folly Public Safety Officer who took pity on us and our heavy load of crabs and accoutrements!

Jimmy and Mac catching a wave

Mac and his best buddy from our year in SC

building sandcastles and lots of memories

Sweet Cousin Eliza

A group shot of some of the cousins

We got to meet our sweet new nephew by friendship.  He is PRECIOUS !

Cousins sharing a moment

Hours and hours of digging in the sand!