30 December 2010


       The end of December is always an interesting time for me.  I'm continually amazed at how quickly the year has passed and wonder what the heck happened!  Even Princess noticed that this year went by very quickly.  Sadie Abroad is hosting this week's Weekly State Department Blog Roundup and has chosen the theme of reflecting back on 2010 back and looking ahead to 2011.  As I'm want to do, I am usually looking back and looking ahead, maybe it has something to do with the ADD!  So this should be right up my alley, right?  No.  I'm actually finding it rather difficult to put together this post.

So much has happened in 2010 for the Global Geraghtys that is may just be easier to note the highs and lows (I do love my lists).

2010 Highs
PFF passed the FS orals in February.  Little did I know just how much my life was about to change.

Barnes Family vacation to Disney World.  This was Princess' and The Boy's first trip to Disney and they LOVED it.  I always love Disney and having kids is an easy excuse to embrace my inner child.  And by the way, there is a relatively new ride called Expedition Everest in the Animal Kingdom.  If you love roller coasters, this is a MUST on your next visit!  

154th A-100.  PFF started A-100 in June and we met some amazing people through this class.

We sold our house.  This may seem odd as a high, but with joining the FS, we didn't see how owning a home in a Boston suburb would be a good thing.  It was on the market for four months, sold for close to what we were asking, and closed early.

Our first assignment.  Ok, maybe this is really PFF's first assignment, but we're all in this together.  He loves his job, the people are really nice, and we have amazing housing for the next two years.

Family.  We're all together after PFF being in Iceland for an additional year without us.  Single parenting is really, really hard.  And we are all healthy.  You just can't beat that!

Flopster.  We adopted a bunny for Princess for Christmas.  I've never really had a pet, but this bunny is really adorable!  I'm not sure what I expected, but he acts a bit like a puppy.  If he's out of his cage, he will greet people at the top of the stairs when they come in.  If he's in his cage with the door open and you walk into the room, he will jump out of the cage, smell your feet/legs, and then run circles around you a few times.  He will follow me from room to room, and if we're watching TV, he'll come into the living room and just hang out with us.

2010 Lows
     I'm happy to say there really weren't any noteworthy lows.  Granted we moved away from our families, but we can still talk to them on a regular basis (thank you skype and VoIP).

2011 Expectations
     I gave up long ago on making resolutions for the coming year.  They never seemed to work out and I always ended up feeling guilty/stressed.  I can tell you that this is what I expect to happen with the Global Geraghtys in 2011:

Travel. And lots of it.  2011 is the year that I start 1:1 long weekends with Princess and The Boy.  The Boy and I are booked for a trip to London and Princess and I are booked for a trip to Paris.  I also want to see all that Norway has to offer.  I know we're here for two years, but I'm hoping to see a lot this year.  

Visitors.  I'm hoping that our family and friends will make good use of our spare room in 2011.

Skiing.  How can you be in Norway and not ski?  We've never tried cross country skiing so that is definitely on the agenda.  It has also been a long time since we've been downhill skiing, but we can see a slope from our street, so there is opportunity not too far away.

Fotball.  What Americans call soccer.  Princess is mad for soccer and I've been trying to find a girls team for her.  No luck yet, but I'm not giving up.

Fekting.  What Americans call fencing.  I found a club for The Boy and he starts on Wednesday.  He really enjoyed it in DC, and I'm hopeful that will continue.  Now I just need to find out if they offer adult lessons as well.

The Usual.  These are my daily expectations.  To see the bright side of every situation.  To see the humor in everything.  To laugh.  To love.  To hug my children and let them know how much they mean to me.  To let PFF know how happy I am I married him - even when I'm wondering what I was thinking!  To enjoy every day, even when the day is not enjoyable (I must add meditation to my honey-do list).  I'm not always successful in this, but I'm trying!

I wish everyone a Happy New Year and a wonderful 2011.  I can't wait to see what 2011 brings us all!

22 December 2010

Merry Christmas - God Jul - Gledileg Jol - Feliz Navidad - Joyeux Noel

     This whole FS family thing is new to me and I want to say THANK YOU to all of you FS bloggers.  The blogs I've read, lurked on, and commented on, have all  helped me in one way or another.    I feel like I'm not alone out here on my first tour as an EFM, trailing spouse or any other name you want to throw my way.  The weekly FS Blog Round Up is really instrumental in this feeling of belonging, so Kolbi I thank you. 

     I also want to thank my family for their support (sounds like an award ceremony I know).  I'm very close to my parents and they have been very encouraging of us up and moving away in a relatively short period of time.

     I have a whole lot for which to be thankful, and I am.  Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah, Happy Kwanza, Merry Festivus and Merry/Happy "Whatever You Celebrate" to everyone.  Happy New Year and I can't wait to see what 2011 brings us all!

16 December 2010

What I Miss...

We've been in Norway for six weeks today and these are the things I miss about the US:

Toilet paper.  Yes, Norway has TP, but not good 'ol, wipe your butt with a cotton ball TP.  European TP is more like wipe your butt with newspaper, not a particularly pleasant feeling.

My extended family.  I am very close with my parents and my brother & his family.  We would see each other weekly and I can't do that now.  There are some...who would say that is not such a bad thing, but it is for me.  I also have a LOT of aunts, uncles, and cousins.  While I don't seem them as frequently, I will miss the family Christmas Party on the 18th and that makes me sad.
2008 Canton Home Coming Block Party
Final Farewell Party.

24/7 access to groceries.  There have been a few times already when I'm making dinner and realize I don't have that one ingredient I need and that the store is closed already.  My husband gets nervous when I go off recipe, but he's not starving so my substitutions can't be all that bad.

Delivery.  There maybe some restaurants that deliver, but I've not found them yet.  Which means I have to cook every night.  And let's face it, sometimes you just don't want to cook.

My car**.  Still not here.  While we do have access to a car on the weekends, I have not driven since 4 November when I drove around to use up some gas before the shippers came to pick it up.  I love to drive and miss my car.  With the heated seats.  

My friends.  Yes, I can Skype and Facebook and VoIP them, but I can't get/give hugs when needed.  I'm a very tactile person and I really miss the physical contact.

A real washer and dryer.  I miss being able to put a real load of laundry through the washer and dryer in under 90 minutes and have the clothes be clean and dry.  The quickest wash cycle on our washing machine here is 54 minutes and that is the handwash cycle.  The dryer can't handle a normal load and keeps overheating, which means I have very small loads and keep the window in the laundry room open to avoid said overheating.  As of today, the dryer can't even handle 6 socks without overheating.  Uggg.  Luckily I have a clothes line so my sheets/towels are very fresh smelling!

Fahrenheit.  I'm not a math wiz so I have to keep converting to Celcius when I cook so I don't screw up the meals (trust me I learned that mistake the hard way!)  I also have to convert when doing the laundry.  PFF has already lost a couple of shirts due to the water being too hot.  

Being settled.  We've been here six weeks and have moved twice.  First to temporary housing and then to our permanent housing.  While the number of boxes is dwindling, I still don't know where some things are (usually when I'm trying to make dinner.)
I'll find a home for this stuff eventually!

Starbucks*.  I love good, strong, dark coffee and Starbucks has it!  But there is not a store here.  Princess misses some of the pastries and her favorite drink too.  I am not alone in my longing for a Starbucks here, there is even a Facebook page dedicated to lobbying for a Norwegian Starbucks and it has over 27,000 fans (plus 1 more once I 'like' it)

My church.  We belonged to the best church back at home.  It really was like family and I really miss going on Sundays.  We were involved, there was always lots to do, the kids enjoyed going and felt like they were part of something bigger.  There are several churches here that have English services,  but they don't have the friends and family we left behind.

Comforters.   Yeppers, can't find them.  Thought they were in UAB, but nope.  They could be in some of the boxes we've yet to unpack or in our supplemental HHE, but I really have no idea where they are and it gets cold at night here. Thank God for polar fleece blankets and snuggling!

Ok, now that that is off my chest, here is what I don't miss:

Humidity.  I'm from Boston and moved to DC in July.  Now I'm in Norway and it is snowing as I speak.  It is beyond cold and I love it.  Granted it is December, but I don't believe it will be in the 90s with close to 100% humidity during the summers here.  I will relish it because in two years when we are at some really, really hot post, I'll have my memories to sustain me!

Commercials.  Norwegians don't do TV commercials like Americans.  That is ok with me.  And they are in Norwegian anyway so I really don't understand them as it is.  

Censoring.  You'd be amazed, or maybe not, at what they show on TV. 

Our house - in Norway.
Our view of the sunrise.
Our house.  We sold our house shortly after PFF started A-100.  We'd been there 12 years and I really thought it was the only house I'd ever have.  We loved our house, but it was an 1880's farmhouse and like the book "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie", if you started a project it evolved (quickly) into many tangential projects.  And it didn't have a fireplace.  Our permanent housing has not one, but two fireplaces, an incredible view, no sharing of bathrooms, and the garage PFF wanted.  Better still - we don't own it!  No mortgage!!!!!

The Boy in our front yard.

Being settled.  Confused?  Don't be.  While I wish we were completely unpacked, this whole move-every-two-years lifestyle really appeals to me.  Maybe it's the ADHD, but I will never be bored! Better still, I will learn how to weed through what I truly need and what I really don't need.

Status Quo.  I have never been one who likes things to stay the same all the time.  I am having new experiences, meeting new people, learning new languages (albeit slowly), trying new foods and think my life is awesome!  It is certainly not for everyone, but for the Global Geraghtys it works.

*My awesome sister-in-law just sent a package that included a pound of Starbucks coffee!!!  We love my sister-in-law!

**The car just arrived in country and should be on the road and in my possession some time next week!

09 December 2010

What (Not) to Wear - Lessons I've Learned - the hard way...

This week's State Department Weekly Blog Round-Up is hosted by Lauren at Adventuresin.wordpress.com.  Her theme for the Round-Up is What (Not) to Wear.  Well, I have learned quite a few, and at times humiliating, lessons on this subject.  As I tell my kids, "Learn from my mistakes!"

Lesson #1 - Start your day with a bra

Norwegian Viking without all the facial hair
     Seems like a simple lesson, and yet one that I've not fully learned.  If you are a man, then no problem.  If you are a man and need a bra, then you have bigger (pun intended) issues!  I home school our two kids so a lot of days I'm in my lounge wear (aka sweats).  As the aforementioned lounge wear may indicate, it is a comfortable style.  In order to be comfortable, you need to be loose and relaxed.  Can anyone honestly be loose and relaxes wearing such a torturous device as a bra?  I say Hell to the NO!  So as recently as our arrival here in Norway, as I'm conducting lessons, in our apartment at which no one knows us, the door bell rings.  Shit!  I am very comfortable and now I have to answer the door.  Looking like a total and utter slob!  I know it's not my husband,  he would have used the key.  So I answer the door, cross my arms, and there is the most handsome (think tall Norwegian Viking without all the facial hair) plumber working on the apartment downstairs.  There is a leak and he needs to check our bathroom.  So after a quick check of our plumbing, he says the leak comes from the apartment upstairs, thank you and leaves.  Meanwhile my face is eight shades of red and my kids think this is funny!

Lesson #2 - Make sure your zipper in good working order BEFORE you leave the house

     When in Iceland, my husband and I were invited to the Norway Day celebration hosted by the Norwegian Ambassador and her husband.  We had a sitter, were dressed up and planning on a grown up night after the celebration.  I had on the perfect LBD which fit me to a tee, new black pumps, and all the accessories!  We arrive on time, check our coats, and are standing in the receiving line when the person behind me tapped me on the shoulder.  Lucky for me, it was a friend with the most embarrassing news.  My zipper had unzippered from the bottom up!  The only thing holding my dress together was the zipper at the top tooth!  Yikes!  My friend was gracious enough to walk - directly - behind me to the ladies' room and she tried to fix the dress.  She was able to get the zipper closed, but it required removing the dress.  Once I was redressed, I kept my back to the wall the entire time!  I made my husband walk - directly - behind me when we left.  The dress stayed together until I lifted my arm to put my coat on!  Then the zipper let loose and thankfully there was a hook-and-eye at the top, but at least at that point I was well covered!

Lesson #3 - When wearing elastic wasted pants, make sure the elastic is still stretchy

     This was a lesson I learned when I was in 5th grade, but I was sufficiently humiliated to learn the lesson quickly!  I had this fabulous purple pant suit that I loved, loved, loved. Yes it was the 70s, so purple pant suits were all the rage!  Well any way, I was standing in the hallway outside my classroom reaching up, just so, to put something on the shelf above my coat, when...bam! - the waistband on my pants let go and they ended up on the floor around my ankles!  Just as the classes were letting out and the kids were streaming into the hall, there I was (thankfully I learned the Always Wear Clean Underwear lesson earlier) in all my cotton Carters glory!  Yes, for the rest of the year I was that girl...

Lesson #4 - White bathing suits, even when lined, are not for swimming

     White + Water = All loss of Modesty!  Enough said!

Lesson #5 - Always wear underpants

     This goes hand-in-hand with Always Wear Clean Underpants.  And while it is a lesson I've always followed, this is a perfect of example of why!  My now mother-in-law was always asking me if I wanted to try on her wedding dress for when I got married.  This was before I was engaged to her son, so I always politely demurred.  Within 24 hours of getting engaged, however, she was not to be deterred and I had the dress on!  She did allow me the privacy of leaving the room while I got into the dress, but as soon as I opened the door in she came.  All of a sudden the back of the dress comes up and over my head!  There I am with my butt in my soon to be mother-in-law's face as she is trying to tell/show me how to tie the bustle!  As I'm dying from embarrassment, all I can think is Thank God I am wearing full coverage granny panties, and that I hadn't eaten anything that disagreed with me.  My now husband couldn't understand the reason for the squawking.  When he came into the room he just thought it was hilarious!  And I still married him!  In her wedding dress.  Yes, with appropriate under garments. 

06 December 2010

Mea Culpa - I've Never Eaten That Before! - Weekly Blog Round-Up Update

With sincere apologies to Nomads by Nature I had a complete brain fart and forgot to include their hilarious submission.  Kolbi, there are some culinary comments from Chengdu that you should check out!  They lay out the Good, the Bad and the Ugly and will make me question requesting tea in Mongolia!

03 December 2010

I've Never Eaten That Before! - State Department Weekly Blog Round-Up

 I love to eat!  I mean I LOVE to eat.  Thankfully I come from, and have, a family that are not picky eaters.  This makes my life a whole lot easier.  We'll eat pretty much anything and are always more than willing to try new things.  Heck, my nine year old daughter has a blog dedicated to restaurant reviews (shameless plug).  This is how much food is a part of our lives.  So with that character flaw, it was easy to come up with a theme for this week's Round-Up.  

The submissions I've received in response to this week's theme have been amazing.  Some are just so funny that I've had tears rolling down my cheeks!  So without further adieu, here is what some FS bloggers have eaten from around the world!


Jen wrote about her husband Pete trying two of Iceland's national delicacies.  If a picture is worth a thousands words, then the look on Pete's face would  sum up his opinion of the hakarl (putrefied shark).  Jen also includes a picture of another Icelandic delicacy...

The food I never thought I would eat, I also encountered in Iceland.  I also learned a valuable lesson - never go grocery shopping without your English/[insert local language] - [insert local language]/English dictionary.  Shortly after arriving in Iceland I went grocery shopping and bought what I thought was corned beef.  It wasn't.  What I had purchased, cooked, eaten, and threw away was salted foal.  Yep - Mr. Ed, or Mr. Ed's son.  I found out later, that when grilled just so, Mr. Ed is pretty good.  My daughter was taking riding lessons at this time (she LOVES horses) and she thought she was eating beef so I said nothing to her.  A few months later she mentioned that she knew it was horse, but she is all about the food chain and likes being on top! 


Becky at Small bits has had some amazing culinary adventures.  She has had so many that she could not fit it all into one post.  Becky I want to have dinner with you some time!  In addition to her stories - chicken feet?  Seriously?! - she provides some coping strategies in the case where you absolutely cannot stomach the food.


Cyberbones is also not a picky eater.  Shannon grew up eating a variety of foods and it looks like her kids are having a similar experience due to the FS life style.  There is, however, one food she absolutely will NEVER eat again though, and her story (and picture) are hilarious!  Shannon, I thought it looks like a puffer fish!  She also mentions one food that she will never even try.  She has a picture of this "food" and based on the picture, I would have to agree!  YIKES!!!!


Sara over at WIFE - MOMMY - WOMAN thinks she doesn't have anything exciting to add to this week's Round-Up.  I say baloney (have to use a food word, right?).  She has found out that Costa Rican peanuts are just like American peanuts.  I have a question for you Sara, do the Costa Ricans make peanut butter?  


Whale Ears and other Wonderings, like many FS bloggers, has had exciting food adventures world wide.  Connie is missing her ploughman's lunch and a good Yorkshire pudding.  

Jill over at Run 2 New Places literally just landed at their first post in London.  She just found out what Stinking Bishop is, but I've yet to find out if she has tried it.  She did, however, enjoy the hake (rhymes with rake).  Jill, check in with Connie for restaurant recommendations!


Connie also spent some time on the isle of Crete and ate blindly a lot of the time and still found the food amazing.  She also has some sage advice regarding street food.  I had to chuckle reading this part of the post.  When I was in Crete I was offered something to drink by a linens vendor whose store I was visiting.  I didn't want to appear rude so I accepted and sipped it cautiously.  Big mistake.  I should have shot the drink back as intended as it was Raki!  Of course after another shot, I did walk out of there having purchased a few table cloths...


Sadie Abroad just received her UAB and HHE so she is up to her elbows in boxes and packing materials.  Her cats are loving her!  I did notice a prior post of Sadie's where she laments the lack of bacon.  Sadie, I have a friend who just arrived in Dhahran and she's having pork product withdrawals already!

I want to thank everyone who submitted posts for this week's Round-Up.  I love reading the different blogs and find them funny, touching and completely relatable!  Make sure you check in with Lauren at Adventures in... for next week's Round-Up.  Her theme is What (not) to Wear.  Can't wait to read what the State Department Blogsphere has to say on this topic!

01 December 2010

State Department Blog Round Up Here this Week!

     Just a reminder that this week's State Department Blog Round Up will be hosted here.  The theme for you procrastinators (yep, this is me) is I've Never Eaten That Before!  I've already received one submission that made tears roll down my face.  You'll need to come back on Friday to find out who has had some hilarious culinary adventures!

22 November 2010

What I'm Thankful For - A to Z

     In the spirit of Thanksgiving, these are a few things for which I'm thankful.

A - Aidan - my first born who loves to give hugs.

B - Books - I love to read.

C - Challenges - keep things interesting!

D - Dad - my dad who taught me many things and I'm so glad he did.

E - Ears - I love hearing many things - the sound of a wood fire, pages of a book turning, the keys on a computer clicking, "I love You" by my family, steak sizzling, a baby's laugh, thunder...

F - Friends - old friends and new friends.

G - The Big G - the love of my life!

H - Homes - my home and my parents' home.

I - Internet - so I can stay in touch with my family and friends.  And can also answer some of the  questions that Aidan and Josephine ask me...

J - Josephine - the daughter my mother hoped I would have - she is giving me a run for my money!

K - Knowledge.  I'm well educated and appreciate all that I have learned.  I am also smart enough to know that there is a WHOLE lot more I don't know.

L - Love and Laughter - I think they go hand in hand and luckily for me I have lots of both in my life.

M - Mom - my mom who I love, respect and can now understand a whole lot better since having kids!

N - Nose.  Yes, I'm thankful for my nose.  I love the smell of roses, The Big G, just washed babies, line-dried laundry, wood fires, bread baking, the ocean, rain, crisp and clean autumn air.

O - Olives.  How can you not love them?  Every time I have a martini, I am thankful!

P - Patience, although on this one, I could use a little more please!

Q - Quiet.  Oh for that time before everyone else gets up and I have a cuppa and a good book.

R - Relatives.  Really, I'm thankful for my relatives, on both sides of the family.  Even the crazy ones (and you know who you are!)

S - Sense of Humor.  This has helped me through some difficult times and I am so thankful for that!

T - Time.  The past, the present and the future!

U - Usefulness.  This is how I need to feel and also how I need stuff to be.  Thankfully, I am more often than not.

V - Voices of my loved ones.  How I love to hear them.  Yes, even Jojo's incessant talking!

W - Work.  Yes, work.  I am thankful for work.  The Big G's work because he likes what he does and that makes him happy, therefore I'm happy.  My work because I'm a stay at home, home schooling mom.  I have never worked so hard in my life, nor been so satisfied by a "job".

X - X-rated.  Hey, I'm not dead yet and neither is The Big G.  And we're married and have a license, so it's ok according to Nana.

Y - You.  The person reading this.  Thank you!

Z - Zestiness.  Not in a culinary sense, but a part of my life that gives it some zing!

16 November 2010

Politics or Why Politicians are Bad for Government*

*I have to preface this post with a disclaimer that the opinions expressed below are just that - opinions.  They are mine all mine and do not reflect the opinions of my FSO husband or the U.S. Government.  Also, I'm not making any political statements, so don't go looking for any!

     I love my friend C.  She is Scandanavian born and bred.  I am American.  She is left of center and I am right of center.  We have the best political and ideological discussion.  These discussions are highly animated,  last for hours, usually begin over beer or wine, involve a fair amount of laughter (at and with),  and a lot of thinking.  These are the types of discussions I imagined having when I chose political science as a major.  These are the types of discussions I have never been able to have with another American.  I've yet to figure out why, but I do have my theories.

     C and I were not geographically close during the 2008 and the 2010 elections.  I really missed our discussions.  To be able to debate - honestly debate - the sides of an issue is not something I've found in the US.  Maybe it is because Americans are too close to the issues and it becomes too personal.  But that should be exactly the reason why Americans should have these discussions!  Even the debates between political candidates aren't really debates.  They are sound bites squeezed between insults.

     A few nights ago, C and I got together to catch up and catch up we did.  We had two major American elections to discuss!  As per usual, wine and food precipitated the discussion, and then the words just started flowing.  We discussed a variety of issues and came to a conclusion.  That a lot of so-called political issues today are not really political at all.  They are purely personal issues in which politicians have gotten involved and have complicated even more.  C and I did agree that the politicians seem to like it this way - keep issues screwed up and retain power.  We're not sure how to unpoliticize the issues, but that will surely be a topic for future discussions!

11 November 2010

A Summary of My First Week in Oslo - in Haiku*

Well we've been in Oslo for a week now and in lieu of writing a lengthy post of my experiences, I wrote the following Haikus.

Snow on ground today
Coats, hats, gloves, boots in transit
Freezing my a$$ off

Snoring, Snore, Snoring
Nowhere to hide from the noise
Where are the earplugs

Drill, drill baby, drill
Construction on our building
Sounds the same world wide

Left mine in DC
Need to find a running pal
Butt won't fit in pants

UAB is here
Temporary apartment
Where do boxes go

Please, please go to sleep
Jet lag messing with the kids
Mommy needs her rest

Just saw our new house
Holy awesome water view
Can't wait to move in

Crisp, clean smelling air
Smell of wood burning fire
Yes! A fire place

Fly economy
Adds insult to injury
Walking through first class

Meet his coworkers
Everyone was very nice
Think I'll like it here

Smack dab middle seat
Big and tall in front of me
In my lap whole flight

Sponsors stocked our shelves
Flowers, food and even wine
We like the sponsors

Foreign appliance
Need a translator to use
Hope the things are clean

Friends around the world
Computers make this easy
Internet and Skype

What's the exchange rate
It is very expensive
Will lose weight quickly

Do you want a pet
Said in front of my Princess
All she talks about

Home school in new place
All sorts of new distractions
Time for vacation

Time to see old friends
Friendly faces on the ground
Camilla and Pam

PFF to leave
First business trip of this post
Two full days on ground

Mommy, Mommy, MOM
Electronic sitter gone
Where is the TV

Thank a Vet today
Sacrifice and suffering
Include their loved ones

I want a bunny
Perseverating on this
This has got to stop

Shut down on Sundays
Reminds me of good old days
Spend time with family

*I got the Haiku idea from Jan at oglesandobservations.wordpress.com.  Loved your Haikus Jan and Happy Birthday!

08 November 2010

Happy Birthday or Gratulerer med dagen!

Birthdays were such a big deal for me when I was younger.  Approaching 10 was probably the biggest deal because I was going to be two-digits!  Then there was the Sweet 16, then 21, and then it didn't seem to matter as much any more.  The year I turned 30 I was also finishing graduate school and planning a wedding, so the birthday kind of just came and went.  The year I turned 40 I didn't want anything to mark the occasion, so my mom and I did the Avon Two-Day Breast Cancer Walk and had an awesome time.

But that is me.  Fourteen years ago it stopped being about me, and 11 years ago it stopped being about us.  We had The Boy.  Princess followed shortly thereafter (a whole lot shorter than I had "planned"), and now we have birthdays again.  In the US birthdays for kids are amazing.  Amazing in an "I can't believe you paid $XXXXX for a kids' birthday party!" sort of way.  The Boy and Princess, however, don't think about birthdays that way.  They are firm believers in the more-is-more theory for birthday parties.  PFF, The Boy, Princess and I reached a compromise - a big, at-home party when they turned five and then a birthday dinner and a friend thereafter.

So how do you celebrate birthdays when you're a FS family?  You can take the kid out of the US, but how can you take the US out of the kid when it's their birthday?  The first birthday we celebrated overseas was in Iceland when Princess turned six.  We were in the country for all of five days, didn't know any kids, knew few FS people (we were not yet a FS family), and she wanted to celebrate!  I took her grocery shopping and let her pick out dinner (leg of lamb and roasted potatoes - yes at six!) and we got the fixings for a cake (mint chocolate cake with green, mint frosting - what we won't do for our loved ones...)  That was one of the worst meals I've ever cooked.  I screwed up the fahrenheit/celsius conversion so the lamb was raw and then well, well done;  the oven was too small for the leg of lamb so we had to saw part of the bone off to fit; and the cake was minty - I mean MINTY!  We had no decorations, no party guests, but we had the four of us, some presents, and phone calls from the grandparents so she was happy.

Later that year when The Boy turned eight, he and PFF went on a glacier hike and then had man-time overnight.  What better way to spend your birthday when you're a boy than with a pick axe!?!  We did a small family dinner the night before (no lamb this time), some presents, and the obligatory phone call from the grandparents.  He was also happy, but a lot happier with the axe!

So now we are part of the FS family and at our first overseas post.  This may not be her first birthday overseas, but Princess has her 10th birthday in less than two months.  I'm not sure if she's aware of the two-digit birthday quickly approaching, but I am.

02 November 2010

Candy and all those Good Halloween Treats

This year was one of the few that we did not trick or treat with my family.  Usually October 31st means a visit to my parents, with all the grandchildren, for dinner, drinks and trick or treating.  Since The Boy's 2nd Halloween (he was only two weeks for his first so it doesn't count), we've done all but two Halloweens with Grandma and Papa.  One Halloween was spent on a plane and the other was spent in Iceland.  Now that PFF has joined the FS, we (I) have to get used to the idea that things will be done a little differently.  This Halloween really drove that idea home.

Halloween with Grandma and Papa always included quick dinner.  Sometimes homemade and sometimes take out, but always quick and always delicious.  Dinner was followed by the adults filling their red cups of whatever libation we were enjoying; Papa getting the cigars ready for himself, Uncle Jeff and me; and the kids getting their costumes finalized and their goody-bags ready.  Then we were off.  We always had a good time.  The kids enjoyed the trick or treating, comparing their booty, and racing to the next house.  The adults enjoyed the camaraderie amongst ourselves and with other adults along the route.

That is the part I will miss the most.  Or at least I thought I would.  This Halloween, we went trick or treating with some new FS friends.  They have two young children as well and all four kids get along very nicely.  It was a beautiful night for being outside and the kids enjoyed the trick or treating, comparing their booty, and racing to the next house.  The adults, and there were a lot of adults that night, enjoyed the conversation.  I was telling about Halloween back home and when we gave the kids a bathroom break, our new FS friend came back with a red cup for me.  Now it was not what was in the cup that put a smile on my face, it was the cup itself.  It was kind of a sign that our future Halloweens, and all our other holiday traditions, may be a bit different now that we are part of the FS, but  it will all be ok.

30 October 2010

I Never Knew I'd...

Yes I know this is the theme for last week's State Department Blog Round-Up, but I'm not known for my timeliness.  For those of you who don't know about this Round-Up, a different FS blogger hosts a weekly post (Fridays) of fellow FS blogs.  Some of the weeks have themes and some are random posts that are highlighted by the host.  There are some amazing blogs out there and some amazing writers.  You should check them out.

So, in keeping with the theme of the Round-UP, and this blog, I Never Knew I'd...

enjoy sushi.  I was introduced to it about 23 years ago and that was enough for me at that time, but now I really like it.  I'm not sure what changed, but now I will voluntarily eat sushi.

eat fish 3-4 times a week.  Well, not now, but when we lived in Iceland.  We ate salmon a couple times every week and I have to tell you, my hair and nails never looked so good!

have kids who will eat pretty much anything.  And I mean ANYTHING!  I had always hoped I would and now I do.  This makes the FS life style a whole lot easier!

blog.  About food.  But I do.  And so does my daughter (joeatingraw.blogspot.com).  I guess it runs in the family.

have a husband who loves to cook.  Especially after the first meal he "cooked" for me while we were dating.  He's come a long way Baby!  He also looks hot in an apron!

make my own ice cream or bread.  Yes you can buy these, but the home-made versions are sooooooo good and so worth the effort.

go off topic.  Well yes I knew that this would happen because it always does.  I did know that joining the FS would be an adventure.  What I didn't know is just how much of a community it is, but now I do.  And it is awesome!

23 October 2010

A New Tradition

Let me begin by saying that I love food.  Good food.  And I love a nice glass (or two...) of wine.  A good, full-bodied wine.  I also love my family and friends. Now add those things together and I'm in heaven!  The dilemma I now face is how to hold this combination together as we depart in two short weeks for our first overseas post!

I am fully aware that I can get good food and good wine pretty much anywhere in the world.  This is a good thing given the whole Foreign Service "worldwide availability" requirement.  I am also willing to admit that I have quite an appetite and am willing to try new foods.  Lucky for me, my husband and my children are of the same mind when it comes to food.  The difficulty lies in the family and friends part of the equation.

Our immediate families are on the East Coast and, while they love to travel and visited us while we were in Iceland, they will no longer be just down the road.  Our friends are a little more geographically wide-spread (talk about "worldwide availability"), but we are again faced with the bulk of them not being geographically convenient.  Which brings me to one of the benefits of our new post.  Two families with whom we became very friendly in Iceland have relocated to Norway.  I haven't seen these friends since the summer of 2009 so I'm over due for some serious face time.   

Which now brings me to starting a new tradition.  I was reading a foodie magazine recently and saw this great article about a woman who had an open house luncheon every week.  She and her husband issued a standing invitation to all their friends and family to their house every Sunday.  The author of the article got the idea from the Sunday dinners her mother-in-law held.  I LOVE this idea!  What a great way to combine three of the things I love about life.  I know for a fact that I can get some awesome seafood in Norway and I assume that I can also get some great wines there as well.  Throw in the friendly faces on the ground and we're in a prime position to start the new tradition.  What is even better?  This is a tradition that will be easy to bring with us on our worldwide availability!

13 October 2010

Food + Family = Memories

Why is it that food always brings back memories?  Some fond and others not so much.  In looking back at my family memories, I've noticed there is always (and I mean ALWAYS) food involved.

As a child when we would visit my father's parents, the trip always included a meal at one of their favorite restaurants.  There were the Thanksgiving dinners at the New England Steakhouse or the Cock 'n Kettle which included the whole family.  Or just the non-holiday dinners at Brian's with whomever was around.  There was the trip to Anthony's Pier 4 after my grandmother's final diagnosis from Dana Farber.  And the family style dinner at some restaurant whose name I can't even remember where my grandpa ate absolutely everything.  We did eat at my grandparents' house, but my grandma was not a great cook.  That was not a surprise to anyone and certainly not to her.  She was well aware that her cooking was not the best, but that was half the fun of eating there.  What would she attempt and how bad would it be?  Dinners always started with cocktails, real ones for the adults and a Shirley Temple for me.  Man I loved those cherries!

A trip to my mother's family home always found us in the kitchen.  Just the kitchen.  Eating and drinking tea.  My gramma always had those little Entermann's frosted donuts and we could each have a couple with a cup of weak tea.  Any time someone had an upset belly, she pulled out a bag of Canada Mints from her purse.  Those always did the trick.  For special occasions she would make her famous Dynamite.  I never found out why it was called Dynamite, but it was certainly a type of chili.  When she died, one of my aunts took over making the Dynamite for our special occasions, but it just wasn't the same. Nancy tried and her Dynamite certainly was good, it just wasn't gramma's dish.  When the family outgrew my gramma's house, we started having potluck holiday parties at a local hall.  Everyone would bring their favorite dish, and boy that opens up a slew of memories!

I love these memories, even the sad ones, and can pinpoint certain milestones in my life to the meals that were consumed at those times.  There was the law school graduation dinner at Barretts, the engagement dinner at the Ritz, the martinis at Boston's in FLA the day my grandma died.  Never mind the meal served at my wedding!

I've noticed that the memories I'm creating with my husband and children are following the same sort of pattern. Friday night when we missed our plane home to visit family, Princess started crying.  Not because we missed our flight, but because we would not being having dinner at a new restaurant with Grandma and Papa that night!  Food is such a part of my life that at my wedding shower, the guests all brought their favorite recipe which went into a recipe box for me.

Visits with my parents usually include a meal at one of their favorite restaurants.  Dinners at home always start with cocktail hour.  Real ones for the adults and Shirley Temples for Princess and The Boy.  Visits with my mother-in-law usually revolve around her kitchen.  Just the kitchen.  Eating and drinking tea.  Nana doesn't have the Entermann's frosted donuts, but she usually has her homemade Irish bread, which quite frankly is much better than anything store-bought.

I love these memories too and I've noticed that my kids are able to pinpoint their memories to the meals that were consumed at the time.  There was that time that Grandma and Papa took Princess and The Boy to a fancy-schmancy dinner and the kids had to get dressed up; the time Princess took Grandma and Papa to the Sushi Train in Reykjavik; and the time that Nana made them Daddy's favorite pancakes for breakfast the morning after a sleep-over.  Just based on the comments I've overheard from Princess and The Boy, I think they will love these memories too!

25 September 2010

Everything is better with bacon!

Now I'm sure my friends know that I love to eat.  If you don't, a quick glance at my backside will provide ample evidence of the prior statement!  Coupled with my love of food, especially good food, is a drastic dislike of exercise; add a couple of very stressful years, and ta-da a 30 pound weight gain.  Yup, 30 pounds.  That is more than both my kids weigh combined!!!!!  So I joined Nutrisystems.  In the past six weeks I've lost 10 pounds and it has been really HARD work.  I've done the whole - quality vs quantity analysis - found a hybrid plan that works for me, and I'm happy with it.  Until my husband cooked tonight...turkey breast wrapped in bacon.  Now there is nothing better than the smell of turkey roasting, unless it is the smell of bacon cooking.  Now wrap that roasting turkey IN bacon and the salivary glands start working overtime!  I just could not bring myself to eat another boxed faux meal while my "loving" family noshed on their dinner.  So I put my Nutrisystems meal away, took a small plate from the cupboard, served myself a measured portion of moist, juicy, bacon ensconced turkey breast and a couple of roasted potatoes, poured myself a nice chilled glass of white wine and then just relaxed.  And it was the type of relaxation that you feel when you let all your troubles go and just melt.  Into a chair, into the floor, into the bacon wrapped turkey.  And it was good.

23 September 2010

The Countdown

Our journey in the foreign service really started in May when PFF (my husband) got the invitation to A-100 in June.  For those not familiar with the new lingo, A-100 is the orientation that new foreign service generalists undergo at the beginning of their careers.  That was the first countdown.  We had about a month to sell the house, organize the movers and wrap up loose ends before he left.  We had some hits and some misses.  We got the house under agreement, packed up, sold and donated most of our stuff, and had lots and lots of loose ends left when PFF left for DC.

That started the next countdown.  I then had about two weeks to close on the house, finish finding a home for the rest of our stuff, tie up more loose ends, and start the round of good-byes.  All before moving to the DC area.  Again, hits and misses.

Once we were all in DC, the third countdown began - where would we go for our first post?  PFF submited his bid list in early July, and we had to wait until late July to find out.  We knew where we wanted to go, but would the FS agree?  Where did they see us living for two years?  Would we agree with their decision?  The Global Geraghtys are pretty laid back (at least I think so), but I do have my Type-A tendencies.  Well after our wait we found out - Oslo, Norway!  Yea, but now the fourth countdown...

PFF had one more week of A-100 and then 12 weeks of additional training before we would go to Oslo.  It seemed like such a long time.  And then A-100 friends started leaving for their posts, and the date seemed like it was both looming quickly and still so far away.  Until good friends left and I realized, yikes, we leave in exactly six weeks.