Monday, December 30, 2013

I'm BACK

After huge amounts of stress and anxiety, after 3.5 months, I am back on the register with my shiny new clearance. I am 11 out of 126 on the Consular register. Come on January, come on March invites, let's make this official!

I think this is the best early-birthday present I could have asked for.

Stain stains


A long, long time ago (seriously. It was before we joined the foreign service.) Terry's dad made a super cool hamper. It looked just like a bedside table, but inside the piece was a pull-out hamper. We placed an order. And then left the country.

Terry's dad did us one better and made a matching set: one hamper and one real bedside table. Then he put it somewhere safe and essentially forgot about it as we weren't coming for it any time soon. Fast forward seven years and the tables are in our house.

We had to stain them to make them match the bedroom furniture we already had - all dark and walnut-y. We had to sand down the table tops and eventually attach them to the bases. We had to apply a sealant something on top of the stain.

But they are now almost finished and oh, so pretty! I can't wait to get these babies into our room.


Sunday, December 29, 2013

Renovation - Floor down

Last Saturday, Lynne planned on taking the kids to the botanical gardens to meet up with friends.  I planned to stay home all day and lay the tile floor.  Laying the floor is a kind of a slow process as you have to lay some tile glue down, then wait for it to dry some and get tacky.  Then you lay down the tile in that area.  This gets repeated many times as you can't lay glue on too much of the floor or you would be tracking glue all over the new tile and anywhere else in the house you roam.  Well, on Saturday I managed to work through the room laying the tile and getting it all down.  In the end I am really happy with the floor.  Lynne was also pleased with the final product.  During the waiting time I managed to stain the end tables some more (more on those in another post later) and finish the cabling in the adjacent room.  Slowly we are moving towards finishing this room off.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Renovation - Prepping the floor.

I am trying to get better about the renovation posts and making them a little more timely.  Since last weekend the door is painted and rehung.  It is much nicer now - without the globs of excess paint it actually can close. I still need to put the door knob back on and put the new strike plate on the door jamb (the old one was no longer brass from all the coats of paint).  Then it will be done.

This week I also worked on leveling the floor for the new tile (this is the photo in the post).  The old floor consisted of carpet (that we ripped up) with tile underneath.  Many of the tiles near the walls were broken when they installed the tacking strips for the carpet, so we can not use that flooring.  So, we are going to be installing a new tile that looks like a fake hardwood floor.  Not the fanciest but the tile is very durable and considerably cheaper and easier to install than real hardwood.  In order to install this I needed to make the entire floor level.  So out came concrete that I used to fill in holes in the floor and where there was tiles missing.  If all goes well this weekend I am hoping to lay the new floor.  

Friday, December 20, 2013

What the hell Rockville?

I'm a planner. I like knowing what's going on and what the options are. It's December in the USA and I knew there would be Santa sightings. So I went looking for information about wheres and whens. Nothing.

I read in The Patch today that Santa hit Town Square YESTERDAY in an armored vehicle. Bet that would have been fun to see, eh? Then tonight during dinner we hear a fire truck sirens all a'blaring. It's coming closer. I guess a neighbor's house is on fire? But no, just as it rolls past our house we realize Santa's on the truck. We all rush to check it out.

Zoltan is the smallest and his chair is the farthest from the front door. He never even catches a glimpse. Thusly, he becomes completely hysterical, crying and wailing, because he missed it. If I had known Santa was coming, we had plenty of time from when we first heard the sirens to come out and see. But no, there was no way to prepare.

I finally had to tell Zoltan it wasn't our religion anyway so he should stop crying.

Sigh. Out of the mouths of babes

Tonight...
Alex: I don't have a phone to play games on.
Me: Right, so you have to play games in other ways.
Alex: You mean like tablets?
Me: NO, like on boards.
Alex: What are boards?

Later in the evening, talking about a new snowman stuffed animal
Zoltan: Mommy, I am sleeping with Frosty tonight
Me: Yeah, we like Frosty
Zoltan: Yeah, it is so yummy on cake

Monday, December 16, 2013

Renovation time

This Saturday Lynne took the kids to the Ballet with Auntie Heather and Harrison.  I decide to skip hunting one day and concentrate on getting something moving the in the study downstairs.

Last time I wrote anything the walls were spackled and needing paint.  Painting has since be completed (mostly by Lynne during nap time and on sadik days).  So now I have been working on the drop ceiling.  First I installed the drop ceiling grid, then a new light was installed within the grid.  The first photo shows the drop ceiling grid installed with the lights. 

Next I started installing the drop ceiling tiles.  I had to leave one area open to install the air ducts.  This required a trip to Home Depot for parts.  Once back I completed the duct work, terminating all the cables in the room, and installing the outlet covers.

With the duct work complete I finished installing the ceiling tiles.  Now the ceiling is done. I pulled the door to the room off its hinges so I could sand down all the old paint.  It is amazing that a contractor was paid to do a job this bad.  The guy painted over dirt and left paint drips everywhere.  With all that extra paint lots of doors in our house don't properly close.  I am slowly working on correcting that.  Last night I got the door sanded and started painting again.  So the list of work to is slowly dwindling.  We still have to finish painting the door and rehang it, touch up paint the walls where I made a mess putting up the drop ceiling.  After that I need to level the floor, then install the tile floor.  And lastly paint and install the trim work.  Lots to do but lots less.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Scranton

In the seven years since we bought the cabin, we have never spent more than a week a year there. 90% of our time there has been spent over the summer or nearby months. This means that we have thoroughly explored the library, the beach club, our property, and a couple of local playgrounds. We've hit the Wilkes-Barre mall and shopping centers. We haven't had the time or inclination to explore farther afield.

Enter: The D.C. Tour. This summer alone Alex and I got at least 2 full weeks here, maybe more. Terry and Zoltan got a bit less. We've taken two four-day weekends this fall/winter. And, we have now visited Scranton.

The first visit was just me and the kids. We visited the Everhart Museum, Scranton's own Science/Art/History museum. Yeah, you read that right. There was some event going on in the art gallery so we didn't get to check that out as our visit got cut short due to bad behavior, but we did get through the science (dinosaurs, rocks - many of which glowed under UV light) and the history (I can remember Egyptian and African art and a video of interviews and "traditional" dancing; "traditional" in quotation marks simply because I am not educated enough to make a judgment). The grounds are also lovely and back right into a park where we would have visited post-museum. Maybe next time.

The more recent trip was to the Steamtown train museum, not to be confused with the Trolley Museum located across the parking lot and the destination of our next Scranton trip. This time Terry and his dad accompanied us. I made sure we got there in time for the locomotive repair shop tour, which I thought would fascinate the kids until I remembered, mid-tour, that kids don't like tours. They were amazingly well behaved though and as there were some super-cool things to see and we did stay in motion a good bit of the time, it went well. The rest of the museum was also well done, and I am so glad we stumbled on the History section (you had to go back outside into the train yard, around 2 train cars and into another door) because there were the replica train cars we got to run around.

Our hope is that next time we'll have a whole day to devote to Scranton and get to Old Forge for pizza.

Friday, December 13, 2013

"Old" friends

Something I think every foreign service person would recognize: having in your life people who knew you when is important, but it is equally important to have people who knew you where.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Celebrating birthdays

Every year for the kids' birthdays Terry and I argue about how to celebrate. He prefers the way he grew up: birthday child chooses dinner and cake. That's it. No party, no gifts, nothing more. I grew up differently; birthdays were a BIG DEAL.

This year I think we found our happy compromise. Yes, the birthday child gets to choose the dinner we make and the kind of cake. This year their birthdays were on Saturday so they also got to choose the day's activity from a curated list. Plus, we have introduced the coupon book. It's a gift with no tangible residue (I do agree with Terry that the kids have too much stuff) and the kids have been thrilled to use them.

This year's coupons were (2 each):
- one TV show even after mom and dad said no
- one dessert without eating a good dinner
- one trip to a cafe or ice cream shop with just mom or dad (this was sweet, they pooled them once so the whole family could go together)
- one treat at the supermarket
- 30 minutes of playing on the tablet

6-8 weeks later they each have 3 left. I'm keeping track of which ones they use when, and plan to modify the coupons each year. 

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Final (8th) CSA haul

Oops, this should have been published a week ago!

For our last week of the CSA we brought home:
- the weekly cabbage
- a bag of leeks
- a bunch of carrots
- a small bunch of turnips (need to figure out what to do with these)
- a head of lettuce
- about a dozen red delicious apples
- potatoes

I have been delighted in rediscovering the joy and entertainment of a CSA membership. There is a winter one but I think we'll skip it, I'd rather buy my own broccoli than figure out something new to do with turnips and cabbage for yet another week. Come spring, we'll be back!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Lyle

For one night of Hanukkah, my mom got the kids (and me! and technically, herself) tickets to a show at the Imagination Stage - Lyle the Crocodile.  The kids had seen shows at detsky sad, and Alex had been to plenty of performances, but I was unsure how Zoltan would be.

Duh. It's children's theatre. He was mesmerized. The show is 1.5h with an intermission so pretty doable to any child who can watch a movie at home or even a long show. We had amazing front row seats, although the theatre is small and I imagine every seat is good. They have stacks of booster seats as you walk into the auditorium for smaller ones to be sure to get a good view. The parking garage attached to the theatre is the same kind of metered parking that's all over Bethesda and it is free Saturday and Sunday, although I had loaded up on quarters just in case.

The show itself was fantastic. Lots of singing, dancing, costumes that attract attention on their own. Simple plot. A few jokes for the parents. Zoltan kept asking me why the man who played the crocodile didn't talk. I repeated "Because he's a crocodile and they don't talk." I don't think the answer satisfied him.

The kids have already said they loved it and want to go again. I don't love the upcoming shows but I think I'll suck it up and we'll get back there, or try one of the other local children's theatres (there are several!!)

Have I mentioned lately that I love where we live?