glutton_for_punishment_hat-r26f989937ffb4ad1bfaeb82a8781c695_v9wfy_8byvr_324Apparently I am a glutton for punishment.

And, I’m also a bit of a glutton.

My last day being a practicing lawyer was supposed to be this Thursday, April 30.  I was mentally prepared (and both trepidatious and excited) for that day when one of my partners called me about three weeks ago.

Law Partner: “Hey. So, you know that case you are transitioning to me?”

Me: “Yup.”

LP: “Well, it looks like it is scheduled to go to trial June 1.”

Me: “Yup.”

LP: “Don’t suppose you’d like to stick around and help me try it?”

Me: “Um…I’d have to check with B.” (Mentally thinking that B might, literally, kill me if I work for another 6 weeks – particularly work to get ready for a trial…not exactly “part time” work)

LP: “Well, check with him and let me know.  I wasn’t sure if it was cruel to ask you since we all agreed here that you wouldn’t be able to help yourself from saying yes. But, since I could definitely use the help, I figured I’d just be cruel…”

Ah, these people know me too well.

So now I do not have 3 more days of work left, but 43 (or so) more days.  And part of me is thrilled; SO excited to try a case with my wonderful LP and the wonderful client we represent in this case.  And part of me is, like, “WHAT THE HECK IS WRONG WITH YOU!”  Sigh.


C is shaking her head too…

In this midst of the hand-wringing over my job, B and I have also been continuing our “gluttony” quest of checking off restaurants on the Washingtonian’s List of the 100 Very Best Restaurants.  We’ve hit No. 1 and No. 95, and 15 others in between, with one more (No. 11) scheduled for later in May and a couple of others that we plan to check off before we go.


I have to admit that I am not sure I agree wholeheartedly with the placement of each of these restaurants on the list – for instance No. 22 was head and shoulders above No. 15 both in terms of food, and service (price too, admittedly, but still…) and No. 95 was better (and way cheaper) than No. 54, but, nevertheless, it’s been a fun (and quite delicious) way to spend our “date” time in D.C.


It’s also shocking to me given the quantity I feel like we have eaten in this quest that we have not even cracked 1/4 of the 100 restaurants on the list.  But the quest will continue – at least until we roll our way onto a flight to FullSizeRender (13)Kinshasa – so maybe we’ll at least reach the 25 number before we leave.


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In other exciting news, we found out this morning that we got our housing assignment in Kin – and that we got a house! HOORAY! We will be in a compound with a number of other families with young children, and we will have our own yard (Miller, the Dog, is doing his happy dance) and our own pool. SO EXCITED!

We really are doing our best to enjoy our time left in the D.C. and the U.S., and C and I are about to head out on several cross-country adventures to visit family and friends, but after eight months here we are also itching to get on our way to the D.R.C.

With somewhere to live it feels like the countdown is ON!

Finding our D.C. Groove

We’re starting to fall into a groove now that we’ve been in Washington for two months. Our weeks are full of school and work and French, and our weekends have been full of visits with friends and family.

Last weekend we did “Halloween on the Hill” (really Eastern Market) on Friday with one of B’s friends from high school (who is also an FSO) and his wife and son, then we had some amazing bbq pig (in the true NC pulled pork fashion) on Saturday night with dear friends from law school, and on Sunday we had another Kinshasa-bound FSO (from the 177th A-100) over for dinner.  The weekend before that we did a quick tour of D.C. while we followed my sister-in-law around while she ran the Marine Corps Marathon.

We’re headed to Pennsylvania this weekend to visit with our friend J who is in the U.S. for a few weeks before moving to Morocco (yes, we will be living on the same continent, but the logistics of getting from Kinshasa to Agadir are, well, stupidly difficult).  Next weekend my parents are in town, then the holiday season starts and we’ll be all over the place visiting family and friends.

Thinking about my lists and all the things I *probably* need to be doing in preparation for July has been low on my list, though I suppose at some point it will have to move up.  But for now I’m enjoying getting into our groove.



Miller’s groove.


Run K, Run!


Can you tell who is more exhausted by “school” these days?


Hello Mr. Lincoln.


C believes this is “her” Washington Monument


Cousin love (and disgusting ice cream novelty love)


B’s groove.


C & C Halloween fun!

I dont like my costume

I don’t want to wear my costume (I’m Doc McStuffins)




The summers I spent at camp were spent sleeping in tents in the woods, not, as seems to be the norm today, in cabins.  The younger kids were grouped together, but as we got older we became more and more isolated until, as CIT’s (counselors in training), we found our tents a good distance from the main lodge and all the other campers.

We would often have campfires in our isolated little area and sit around until the fire died down and the embers glowed, but barely cast any light.  We would lie in the dark and talk and watch the stars above us.  Inevitably though (we were teenage girls after all) there were nights when some topic or other jump started our desire to be fully awake again and we would bank the fire and do our best to rekindle it so we could get back in its warmth and light.

I’ve been thinking a lot about that rekindling lately.  The isolation and stir-craziness I sometimes feel being in our apartment pretty much all the time (living and working) has prompted me to get out when I can to do lunch with old friends who, at some point or another, have found their way to D.C.


Love reconnecting with old friends – 10 years later (hello 1994!)

A couple of weeks ago, I went to lunch with two of those friends and we had such a lovely time that one of them promptly invited us both (and our “entourages” (B & C for me)) to dinner at her house with her family.  As we drove home that night it felt like that rekindling of the warmth and light from a fire and I wondered how I had managed to let these people get away from me and fade into soft glows over the years.  I am feeling a tremendous sense of loss for something that I haven’t had for about 10 years (the number of years since these people left Charlotte).  These are fabulous, interesting people who I can talk easily with, who I share some history with, who are, despite our lack of contact for many years, dear to me.  And now, just as I am rekindling them and our friendship I am realizing that I’m going to leave.  Suddenly, despite our desire to get on our way, 9 months doesn’t seem like long enough to be in this city.  It doesn’t seem like long enough to bank these fires and get them roaring again.

Add to this the (almost) equally strong desire to build up the new friendships we have made through B’s A-100 class and our calendars don’t seem nearly large or open enough.  Now that B is in language training (in a class of 3 people instead of a class of 84) there are not as many opportunities to hang out with all these new fascinating people who are also contemplating their new lives in the FS – and some of whom are only weeks, not months, away from moving to their first posts (one person in B’s class has already left!)  So we find ourselves juggling the rekindling of past friendships with the building of new friendships – and, while I recognize that it’s a good problem to have, it is, nevertheless, a problem.  Perhaps I should go back to my teenage days of believing that a good conversation with my friends lying under the stars was worth the sacrifice of a good night’s rest, and hope that once we get to Kinshasa we’ll have plenty of time to catch up on our sleep.


A new dishwasher

C is very into singing these days.

I’m not talking about conventional signing, with lyrics, to a tune. I’m talking about taking everyday conversation (assuming you narrate everything you do) and adding a totally out of tune warble to it so that you are, basically, singing (off key) about all of the everyday things that are happening throughout the day.

My girl is never going to win American Idol (or [insert foreign country] Idol), which is TOTALLY fine with me, but watching her put her daily life to a tune is hilarious and has been amusing B and me for a while.

Last Friday C and I headed to meet good friends at the National Zoo.  I (stupidly) opted to drive instead of take the Metro thinking (stupidly) that it would be easier.  We did fine for the first 10 minutes or so, then I missed the exit to Rock Creek Parkway and we ended up stuck in construction traffic in the middle of D.C.  Not fun.

I *might* have been providing my own non-musical running commentary on the situation, when suddenly C says to me, “Mommy, are you annoyed at the traffic?”

“Yes sweetie,” I said. “I am very annoyed because we’re stuck in traffic and I don’t know where I’m going.”

This prompted C to begin to sing “We are stuck in traaaaffic, and we don’t know where we’re go-oh-ing.”  Over. And over. And over.

It was actually pretty sweet at first, but the out of tune repetitive signing combined with the devastating stand still traffic finally got the better of me and I said, rather loudly, “Pumpkin, I really need you to stop singing and be quiet.  Mommy really needs to think!”

I felt bad.  Truly I did.  I was annoyed and angry at myself and C really had done nothing wrong, but I was at my wit’s end and I really did feel like I needed silence to contemplate my options (add my lack of movement to a fast dying phone – my only “map,” as a bonus).

I got silence.  At least for a few seconds.  Then very quietly from out of the back seat I heard a real song.

C was singing “Let it go…Let it go…” from Disney’s Frozen.

Out of the mouths of babes.

Turns out we made it to the zoo and had a fabulous time.  C was right. I needed to “Let it go.”


What I find fascinating is that I struggle to let go of the little stuff.  The traffic.  The whining child.  The dishwasher in our new apartment that doesn’t work properly.  But I feel incredibly calm about the big stuff.  Not knowing where we will live this time next year, for instance.

I know some of my friends think we’re nuts, and can’t imagine spending a year in sub-Saharan Africa, or in the Middle East, or anywhere but the United States of America.  But no matter where we get posted – whether it is a “high,” a “medium” or a “low” on our list, the end will be in sight for us.  Two years.  Twenty-four months.  104 weeks.

Two years goes by in a blink.

Nelson Mandela spent 27 years – 27! – in prison, and yet you rarely saw him without a smile.  People live in horrible conditions every day all over the world – millions of people.  I’ll be living in a government provided house or apartment, fully furnished, with clean, SAFE water and enough money to buy plenty of good food.  C’s schooling will be paid for.  We will get vacation, benefits, medical treatment from the best available physicians – and if they can’t be found at post we’ll be medevac’d to London, or Petoria, or back to the U.S.

Meanwhile, many (if not a vast majority in some places) of the people who live their entire lives in whatever country we get posted in will not have enough food, or fresh water, or medical care – not just for two years, but ever.  They won’t know what vacation and benefits are.  They can’t access Amazon Prime when they need something.  They won’t have an Embassy pool, tennis courts, or playground to entertain them, and they will probably never have the opportunity to leave.

So traffic and dishwashers make me a little crazy, but two years in a “hardship” post.  I’m ok with that.  That I can let go, maybe because it allows me to appreciate the little things as well.  Maybe it will allow me to appreciate a traffic jam because, after all, I’m on my way to a free zoo to eat ice cream and wander aimlessly with people I love.  Or appreciate my not so perfect dishwasher because, after all, I’m not having to wash all my dishes by hand in water that was previously flowing through a sewer.  Or even better, appreciate the fact that, with one call to maintenance I got a new dishwasher. Along with a note from Juan, our wonderful maintenance man, which said “I’m so sorry for the inconvenience.”

I hope C and I will sing together about our new life in our new home in a few months.  And I hope I can continue to learn the lessons she teaches me about enjoying life one minute at a time and letting go of the little things.

IMG_2396Postscript:  Everywhere we go we are reminded of North Carolina.  Check out the pig we met at the zoo…


Welcome to FS and DC

IMG_0604Yesterday was B’s first day of A-100.  I’m not sure he slept much, but luckily he didn’t disturb me until about 5 a.m. when he finally gave up and got out of bed.  He put on his suit and then C and I drove him into D.C. to “HST,” “Main State”, “Mama State” or “the Mothership” for his swearing in and, apparently, about 7 hours of HR and administrative talking to.  He came home with at least one small tree in terms of paper describing insurance options, retirement savings options, and many other options (none of which I have looked at or contemplated…yet).

Once we had kissed B goodbye and sent him on his way, C and I set out to make the most of our new home and our day.  We started by spending some time in our local Harris Teeter.  It is truly local – only about 2 blocks away – and having a North Carolina staple like HT so close certainly makes Arlington seem more like “home.”

After our grocery store trip, C and I walked Miller about a mile down the road to a pretty awesome dog park.

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Unfortunately for Miller there were no other dogs in said dog park, but he enjoyed the water feature and running around without a leash, regardless.  It would be more awesome if it was a little closer (a mile seems so close when you say it, but pushing a stroller containing 30+ lbs of child and holding a leash for a mile in two directions makes it seem less *close*).

Once we had settled Miller back into the apartment, we made our way to the Ballston Metro – another 2 block walk (in a different direction).  The convenience of everything is amazing.  I have to admit that I have sorely missed living in a city with underground transportation and an ambulatory population. Once on the metro (a treat for C in and of itself) we took it to the Smithsonian and walked along the National Mall to the Smithsonian carousel.  Not a bad view for our walk…



Carolina Parakeet

On our way we walked through one of the stunning gardens surrounding the Smithsonian buildings.  I do NOT have a green thumb, so I was amazed by the lush, healthy plants as far as the eye can see.  

I was particularly taken with a sculpture of a bird and the beautiful flowers surrounding it – and was even more taken with it when I saw that it depicted a “Carolina Parakeet,” the first of several “Carolina” references in our day.IMG_0572

Next it was on to the Merry-Go-Round (or “America Round” according to C (say it fast, you’ll get it).  C chose her horse, but while she was deciding which of the pretty little ponies she wanted to ride (or whether she wanted to ride a big blue dragon) we passed the North Carolina horse, so we couldn’t resist a quick hug on the way by.   IMG_0586 IMG_0592

We ended our first day as “locals” in D.C. enjoying ice cream on the Mall, taking the metro home and having Indian food for dinner.  

B’s day was exciting too (he copped to *almost* tearing up when he took the oath) so all in all a successful introduction to life in the Nation’s Capital. Let’s hope all our days are as lovely as this one was…