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!