Wednesday, December 31, 2014


If you want the purest expression of love, devotion, and adoration, get a dog. 

But make sure he loves, is devoted to and adores you best of everyone you live with. 

I'm not sure how to ensure that, but I can tell you there's really nothing better than that. 

Last night when we got to Jimmy's mom's house, Mac entered first and spoke to Leo. I waited at the door and called Leo, who did a double-take, barked twice and ran as fast across the slippery floor as his little legs would carry him to me.  

Pure bliss, I tell you. 

Tuesday, December 30, 2014


Today was work (again).

But the saving grace of the day is that I now find myself at the airport, waiting to board my flight to Charleston. 

And the next saving grace of the day is that we're going to eat wings after I'm picked up at the airport. 

Those two things should cancel out work. 

Monday, December 29, 2014


Today's agenda...




I could really get used to 2- or 3-day workweeks. That seems so much more civilized. 

After work, I got a fabulous manicure at what I think must be the best mani-pedi spot in DC. Patsy's Nail Bar totally rocks. 
This week I'm sporting How Great is Your Dane by OPI. It'll look good until later tonight when I scrub a dish or tomorrow when I stick my hands in and out of file boxes at work. 

Sunday, December 28, 2014


Today's agenda:

I woke up super-early and took down the Christmas tree so I don't have to face that when I come back from SC. 

Then I went to Arlington National Cemetery as soon as it opened at 8am. There were only a handful of other people there and since they were tourists, they headed straight to the popular touristy sights there. I ventured off to parts unknown and wandered around the streets that pass through the back part of the cemetery. It was so beautiful and peaceful, hushed and reverent. 

Later on, I headed to the mall to get my Christmas present watch sized and to shop for "foundation garments".  I read that every woman should go to a bra shop that actually sizes you properly because it's apparently life-changing to wear the right-sized bra. Or so Oprah says. 

My life has not been changed because I was wearing the right-sized bra already. That's what I get for being a Type A perfectionist. But I will be wearing new foundation garments that didn't come from Target. That feels very adult. 

Next up?  I channeled my dad and Sunday-afternoon dozed on the couch through the Browns-Ravens football game. 

Now I'm watching my favorite movie of all time, Legends of the Fall. The heartbreak, the love lost and gained, the family emotion and betrayal and reconciliation, the music, the poetry of the narration, the horses, the costumes, Montana, Brad Pitt, Anthony Hopkins, Julia Ormond. Sigh and swoon. I could watch it over and over and over again.  Please tell me you love it as much as I do and we can be best friends forever over our shared good taste. 

And soon I will make one of my favorite pastas of all time, cacio e pepe, for dinner. 

Back to work tomorrow...

Saturday, December 27, 2014


The boys - all three of them - took off this morning for SC. I dropped them at the airport at 6:30 and away they flew. By all accounts, Leo was a champion flyer on his inaugural flight. 

I will fly out on Tuesday night to join them for the rest of the week. 

This means I have 3 nights and 4 days all by myself. Two of the days really don't count because I have to go to work, but we'll still call it 4 days. 

No dog to walk or treats to prepare. 

No picking up after anybody but myself. 

No healthy meals to plan and cook (because 4 days of cereal will not kill me.)

What to do, what to do, what to do. 

Today's agenda?  A Costco run as soon as it opened at 10 (and it was blissfully empty), a leisurely lunch date with a friend at a nearby Mexican restaurant, some online clothes shopping while watching the Gamecocks win their bowl game, and catching a wonderful performance of Pippin at the National Theater with the Maynard ladies. 

I can't believe the first day is already over. That flew by...

Friday, December 26, 2014


Boxing Day Haircuts for 3/4 of the family!



Thursday, December 25, 2014



Tonight our dear friends, the Maynards, came over to share Christmas Eve dinner.  

If I've learned anything in the past 16.5 years as a nomad, it's that if you can't be with family on major holidays, good friends can make a holiday merry and bright. 

We're lucky to have both family by birth and family by choice and were so thankful to share a special evening with our family by choice. 


Tonight we were invited to eat at our friends' apartment because her mother is visiting from South Korea and was going to cook Korean food for us. 

All I can say is 

There was pumpkin soup, spicy pork belly, bulgogi, glass noodles, crunchy shrimp, Korean sushi, veggie pancakes, rice, kimchi and who knows what else I'm missing. 

I would be hard-pressed to eat Korean food out ever again because I know it wouldn't taste anywhere near as good as Min's mom's food!  What a blessing that she shared her considerable talents with us!


Christmas week. 

Busy days with work and busy nights with dinners with friends. 

But then Thursday will be here, and we can rest. 

And that sounds like the best Christmas present ever. 


Today our church performed/conducted (not sure of the right word) a Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols.

It was so beautiful and moving and was a wonderful way to head into Christmas week.  


Manicure and shopping with friends 


Relatively painless pre-Christmas Saturday Target run

Unexpected dinner out alone with Jimmy (Mac was worn out after a birthday party at the Georgetown University basketball game)


One great Saturday 

Saturday, December 20, 2014


It's Friday. 

After a long week at work. 

That's all I can say. 

Friday, December 19, 2014


Today we got a Christmas card in the mail from Leo's groomers. 

I opened the card and found a calendar with the most handsome dog model ever. 

How clever is this company to send a personalized calendar to its customers with a cute photo of their very own dog?!?!?  

Brilliant marketing strategy. 

I wasn't all that happy with them after the last haircut, but now, of course, I love them. 


Jimmy made his most delicious shrimp and grits, but I fear the appeal of it was lost on our British houseguest, who said the grits was like "savory porridge". 

"Shrimp and grits" has a nicer ring than "shrimp and savory porridge".  


We're latecomers to the party, but we're now full-fledged backers of District Taco. 

Which means we eat there once a week. 

District Taco used to be a food truck but they now have multiple locations in the area, one of which is conveniently located near both of the schools where Mac practices basketball. 

Which means we can get a fix on Tuesday and/or Friday night with no problem. 

We went tonight and let me to you two things:

1. I dream about the carnitas this place serves. They are the best ever. Seriously. 

2.  Jimmy had the fish tacos tonight and he said they were the best fish tacos he'd ever eaten. Mac gasped and asked, "Even better than the food truck in Hawaii?"  Jimmy said, "Yes."  

Wait. There's a third thing. 

3. They have the best tortilla chips ever. They might be laced with a drug that makes you addicted and you.can't.stop.eating.them. Seriously. 

And this might be a 4th thing or it might be a subpart of 3.  The guacamole is outstanding. Fresh and chunky. And perfect for the chips. 

Oh and they have several types of salsa that range from a little hot to your lips are falling off hot. So good. 

Hats off to District Taco. I wish we'd found you a year earlier. 


We went to ZooLights at the National Zoo tonight, and it was perfect:  no crowds and not freezing cold. (Last year it was about 20 degrees and packed.). 

The best part was running into a schoolteacher and church friend from Brasilia days who we haven't seen in over 7 years.  We were sitting on a bench in the dark while Mac ate a funnel cake, and Laura recognized Mac! 

When we last saw Laura, she was a single teacher (but dating her now-husband). Now she's married with 2 young children and a third on the way. She's still as cute and energetic as ever. It was the best serendipitous Christmas treat to run into her. 

I told Jimmy it's time for us to move now. When we start running into people we know at the grocery store or park or restaurants overseas, that usually means we're near the end of our tour somewhere and have built enough relationships to make running into people regularly possible. 

Is it too soon to pack my suitcase for Rio?


Mac's second grade teacher in Bogota, an Englishman named Ian, became a great family friend during our time in Bogota. His Christmas vacation started Friday and he's spending part of it on a 3-city visit to the US. 

He flew into DC last night, and we had a full day today. First stop was lunch and shopping in Georgetown. After that we caught the 5:30 performance of the Washington Ballet's The Nutcracker with other dear friends, Monique and Caitlin. 

Thankful for friends near and far, and especially for far who become near if only for a few days every so often. 

Tuesday, December 16, 2014


Late this afternoon we headed wayyyy out of DC to attend a friend's Christmas party. When I say way out, I mean it felt like we were driving to West Virginia. 

It was 43 miles away from our apartment. That's a long way.

This friend and his wife commute everyday to DC. If there's no traffic, it takes them an hour and 17 minutes. If you've traveled recently on I-66, you know there's always traffic. 

These folks live in a gorgeous and humongous home. Beautiful artwork and furniture. Huge piece of land with big sunsets. 

(On the road leading to the house)

There are moments when I think we're going to burst out of our little apartment. When I think of how it would be nice to spread out a little. To use a bathroom that's not right next to where everybody is. 

In this house, there's lot of room to spread out and there are probably multiple bathrooms on every floor. 

But there's also a lot to clean, a lot to dust, a lot to vacuum and mop.  They certainly can't plug the vacuum in one outlet and vacuum an entire floor, much less the whole house.  There's a lot of grass to mow. So much grass they had to buy a tractor. And they definitely don't walk out the door to eat at great restaurants or to grab a cup of coffee. They don't have any Metro access. 

All things considered, I'll take my teeny apartment with the quick commute, good restaurants nearby, and no yard work and just dream of one day having privacy in the bathroom. 

Friday, December 12, 2014


I've been a loyal federal government employee since I graduated from college in 1993. I've had periods of unemployment as we've moved around, but every job I've had brought a paycheck directly from Uncle Sam. 

Now I'm working for Uncle Sam via a third party contractor. It feels no different than other jobs, really, except that my paycheck comes from the private sector. 

I should say that it felt no different until today. 

I got home to find 4 boxes had been delivered. I assumed they were all from my online shopping blitz on Monday night when I panicked because Christmas was in, like, 2 weeks and I had not the first present bought for Mac, Jimmy, our moms, close friends, etc. God bless the Internet and online shopping. 

So back to the boxes...

I opened them up tonight while Mac and Jimmy were at basketball practice. One box contained a big box of "fresh cream chocolates". I'm all about "fresh cream chocolates", whatever those are, but I definitely didn't order them. 

I looked for a card and didn't see one. 

I looked at the label to make sure the package really was for me. My name and address were there. 

The return address had a man's name and underneath it said "Happy Holidays!"  

I did not recognize the name and decided to call the chocolate company tomorrow to tell them a mistake had been made. 

And then I saw my employer company's name off on the side of the label. 

My employer sent me a huge box of chocolates. How cool is that??  I know this is unimpressive to those of you who work in the private sector and receive annual bonuses larger than my annual salary, but this makes me happier than you can possibly imagine. 

Look at this box. 

Have you ever seen such a big box of chocolates?  

Oh wait, you need perspective on how big my box of chocolates is?  

I haven't even opened it up yet because I don't really care if there are only 4 chocolates in that big box. Or if they're gross and have cherries inside them (which are the worst chocolates ever). 

The point is that my employer sent me a holiday gift and that has never ever happened in 21 years. 

I'm kind of ecstatic over this largesse. 


Last week I went to an evergreen decorating class with a friend from church. Last year I made a wreath, so this year I made a beautiful tabletop tree with little splashes of red and gold. 

The tree has been on the dining room table for a week until I noticed last night that some of those red ball twiggy things looked like they were broken. I thought maybe Pearl had tipped the tree by accident and somehow broken the little red things without smushing or breaking the evergreen. I'm not always the brightest bulb in the box. 

Today when Mac got home, he found bits of evergreen under the table.


Methinks Leo has learned to jump up on the table from the chair. That little sneaky dog who will eat anything. 

So the tabletop tree has been moved from the tabletop and is now on the kitchen counter where surely the marauding dog can't get to it. 

Thursday, December 11, 2014


On the train home today, I overhead a conversation between two millennials. They obviously work together and from my talented eavesdropping, I gathered that she didn't get a position in the office that they both felt she should've gotten. He asked if she'd expressed her displeasure to the higher-ups.  

She said, "No, I didn't say anything. I know more jobs are going to open up, and I didn't want to rustle feathers." 

Me:  (silently) ""Rustle" feathers?  Rustle?  That is not how the expression goes. You ruffle feathers, not rustle them."

I'm going to assume she knows the correct expression but her brain was frozen because it was 40 degrees and she was wearing nothing on her legs. 

I really need to start The Wear Tights campaign soon before these children's brains become frozen . 


Call me a privileged diplomat's wife but now that I'm working full-time again, we've hired a housecleaner to come every other week. All of us were tired of trying to keep up with cleaning at night and on the weekends, so we bit the bullet and Pearl entered our lives with a bang today. 

All I can tell you is that there's very little that makes me happier than coming home to a spotless house that smells of bleach. 

Totally worth the price of admission!


Twice now in the last week, I have seen the face of American mental illness on my commute home. It's not a happy picture. 

Last week I was on the train with a man who had a full-fledged but one-sided conversation. I say one-sided because I only heard his part, but he was clearly having a conversation with someone or a voice or something. He railed against the Catholic and Lutheran churches, carried on about "fetal abortion" at the hands of the church, and talked about how Hillary performed the surgery with Bill watching. 

And today I rode right behind a woman who wasn't terribly loud but who used expletives to talk about someone when there was no one with her to listen or respond. 

Both people were dressed relatively well, both were on the train when I got on and both got off at the Court House station in Arlington. 

I say a prayer of thanksgiving everyday for my physical health, but I need to add prayers of thanksgiving for my mental health as well. Mental illness is a very scary thing. 


Today we had a lunch for a diverse group of friends with some type of Brazil connection. One family were great friends in Mozambique (she's Brazilian), one lady was with us in São Paulo and the other family was in Brasilia and São Paulo with us (she's Brazilian). Plus my cousin who's living in DC right now who is going to come see us in Rio, which is her Brazil connection. 

We had So.Much.Fun. Sometimes you get lucky and the adults mesh well but the kids are bored and want to leave. Or vice versa. This time everybody meshed well. We had 7 adults and 4 kids in our apartment from 1:30 to 7:30 when the last people left, and it was So.Much.Fun.  

I'm so grateful to the Foreign Service for introducing us to interesting people that we want to lunch with for 6 hours. I can't imagine life otherwise. 


My friend's birthday was this past week so she planned a big celebration for an overnighter at a fancy hotel in DC. I joined her and her girlfriends for an afternoon at Patsy's Nail Bar where I got a fabulous manicure and enjoyed their fun company.  I bailed after that because of other plans but these girls were off for a night of good times!


The best thing about today?  It's the weekend and we've got lots of fun events with friends to look forward to, starting tonight with church youth group for Mac and dinner out for Jimmy. Life is sweet. 

12-1-14 to 12-4-14

This week flew by. One minute it was a tired Monday morning and then I blinked and it was a more tired Thursday night. By the time I'm 50, I'm going to feel like a time traveler. 


After a great weekend, the family all left to return to SC, so we joined the 40 million other people at the mall for shopping and movies. If I don't step foot in a mall again during the holiday season, that'll be just fine.