Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Museums and Memorials

We love going to museums in D.C.

Unfortunately we're not going to make it to as many as I would like, but we're here for such a short time, that I should forgive myself.

So far we've made it to the National Air and Space Museum and the International Spy Museum.

The Spy Museum was today, it was the children, and my in-laws. My poor husband had to work.

All of the children enjoyed themselves very much.

The only acceptable photo from both museums
Simon flying a plane.
 I love taking them to museums and watching them discover. I love reading to them and seeing them learn about topics they already love. Especially the topic of spies. The love spies. When I told the kids today that that's where we were going Simon confessed that he wants to be a spy and catch bad guys. It was his first confession like that to us. It was awesome.

We went downtown and saw the memorials on Sunday. It was so nice to see all of them. Some I'd been to, but some I had not, and one I didn't even know existed. And to show the kids, this part of one of my favorite cities in the world, was a joy to me.

The Lincoln Memorial

President Lincoln

The boys resting on the steps of the
Lincoln Memorial

The Korean War Memorial. Notice the reflections
of the stone soldiers in the wall. 

The World War I Memorial. This, I had
never seen before. 

World War II Memorial. This was a busy place. 

The Pacific and Atlantic towers were mini-memorials
for the battles that took place in those areas. 

Washington Monument. It's so tall, you
can't see the top when you're next to it. 

I found this while we were walking.
What a nice gesture. 

The Vietnam War Memorial. I unfortunately forget to
snap a photo until we were far from it.
The thousands of names on the wall are so sad. 
This is one of my favorite cities. I love Washington, D.C. so much because of the history, and the history is right there for you to see. I love it.

Monday, July 28, 2014

I was going to complain

however, I got a challenge from my husband not to. And he's right. I try to live positively. I fail miserably many times, but I would like to teach my children to think that way, so I'm trying to change my own habits.

So, even though at times I was fairly unhappy, I'm going to tell you the reasons I was happy about home leave.

Reason 1: People!

People will always be my number 1, I think. I used to be the stereotypical extrovert that needed to be constantly surrounded by people to be happy. I'm no longer that way, but I'm still an extrovert. I still love being around people so much.

Sisters in Duluth, MN

Cousins playing birthday party games

I hadn't been to Minnesota in over two years when we got back. It was so nice to see my family. Grandparents spoiled their grandchildren, I got to see extended family I hadn't seen since my grandfather died over eight years ago, and husband and I got to see high school friends that we haven't seen in almost as long.

I'm always so excited to see people when we get back. We didn't get to see everyone that we wanted to, but it was close this time around. I've heard stories of people going to a park and inviting whoever wants to see them to come over. That might have to be what we do next time.

Unfortunately, I did a horrible job of taking photos of me and my friends. The few photos I have of people have horrible red-eye and I can't seem to fix it.

Reason 2: Food!

There's nothing like eating your country's food in your country. It's been great and I'm happy to have these experiences before we go to a country where the restaurant selection is quite limited, especially compared to Manila.

FIVE GUYS, Jimmy Johns, El Loro (my favorite MN Tex-Mex), Al Habib in Toronto, Little Debbie, Papa Murphy's, just to name a few. I've gained at least 8 pounds here (can you see why?!). I think it might be worth it.

Now that we're in D.C. for a while, the husband is back to cooking, which he's really happy with. And I'm really happy with that too. Groceries here are so easy to get! I love that I bought zucchini and yellow squash the other day. The right ones, too!


Reason 3: Sightseeing!

We had a road trip. We took a few days of annual leave and went into Canada and saw Toronto and Montreal, then back in the U.S. we went to Maine, Boston, and the Poconos. Not to mention that I actually did some sight seeing in MN when I went to Glensheen for the first time. This place is a big draw in MN due to the murder that happened. The woman that was murdered left her house to the University of Minnesota Duluth and now you can tour almost the whole house. It's amazing.

Glensheen

The boys throwing coins into a fountain in Montreal

The boys on the Eleanor at the Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum

Look at this sunset! We were in Wellsley, walking with friends.


The road trip was 10 days of seeing people, places and things, and I can't express how grateful we are to those who hosted us and showed us around. 

Home leave is over, and it's hard. It's expensive, and exhausting. But it's also great. 

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Making a house a home

This week’s blog prompt is about making your home, your home.

“What makes a house "home" to you and your family? What are the small things you do immediately upon arrival (or upon the arrival of your UAB) at Post to make your house more homelike?”

I tried to find a picture of what I do to make my house a home, and I can’t find one, though I’m fairly sure I posted one on facebook a couple of years ago.

I am a collector of only one thing – magnets. I love magnets so much. I try to buy one or two from every destination, purchasing at the airport sometimes (our two years in Manila have increased my magnet collection by quite a few).

In my suitcase I’m bringing an envelope of magnets and things to hang with them. Decorating my fridge is something I’ve loved doing for a long time, and I feel much more at home when it’s done. The envelope of magnets and things to hang has been done since our very first move from Dallas to DC, and it’s getting thicker these days.

After realizing that I have said envelope somewhere in the house I thought…Oo! I can take a photo of those. Here’s a very small portion of my magnet collection.

IMG_2043

It is going to make our place in Jamaica ours very shortly after we arrive.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Turones!

Today’s blog subject is thanks to the writer at SubjectVerbObject.

Remember when I said (in my very last post) about the writer who’s helping some of us find new things to write about? This week her topics are about food.

I. Love. Food. Like…loooooove. Would marry it if I could.

My favorite Filipino is the turon.

photo courtesy of pinoyfavrecipes.blogspot.com

It’s a dessert. You take a banana (and maybe some jack fruit), wrap it in spring roll wrapper, fry it, and immediately after it’s out, throw some sugar on it. When fresh these are a very, very tasty dessert.

Please forgive the shortness of this post. I am packing out in one day and am so busy.

If you can get a hold of a turon – do it! Your life will be better for it.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Doing something for myself

The second prompt in this week’s series is doing something nice and telling y’all about it.

I had already made the mani/pedi appointment before the promt. Score!

Today when I went up to the salon, I saw a sign in the window. They have a special going on in May for their spa manis/pedis. They call it Toe-ti-fruity. I decided to treat myself to their refreshing scrub and wrap for my feet (a wrap for my feet is unheard of there, they don’t do it). It was so fun!

Toward the end, they brought out some four seasons in a champagne glass and a couple of candies. What a nice sweet treat.

IMG_1904

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Staying happy in Manila

The Foreign Service blogger at SubjectVerbObject is trying to re-start her blog, and is getting others to join. She’s giving out lists of blog prompts (suggestions accepted, and encouraged) on Sunday and will post the participating blogs on her blog on Thursday. Since I’ve felt like my own blog has been a bit boring lately I thought I’d join in when I have time. Tonight, I was sitting down, reading when I saw the prompts. I practically jumped up to blog – something I haven’t done in a while. The prompt for this week that I’m going to concentrate on is taying happy where you are. There are two other prompts, I probably won’t make it to them, but maybe I will.

For me, staying happy in Manila is fairly easy.

For me to be happy, I need to be around people, and I need to be able to pamper myself. Manila is so easy to do/have both of those things.

Sure, the greater Manila area has over 12 million people. For someone who’s looking for friendships, this is a good place to do it. Filipinos are friendly people who love Americans. There are also over 300 direct hires at the Embassy. There’s no shortage of Americans who you can shoot the breeze with at lunch, befriend at the Marine’s happy hour, or experience the Philippines with on a CLO trip (let’s be honest, it’s easy to avoid the ones you want to avoid with such a large pool of people to choose from).  

I’m an extrovert. The stereotypical kind that requires friendships for emotional survival. The kind who asks friends over to play games on her wedding anniversary, or who thinks that the only thing that could have made today (Mother’s Day) better is friends coming over for the wonderful Tea Party that my husband threw me (seriously, it was awesome and deserves a blog post of its own).

I’ve made some amazing friends here. Life-long friends, that I would travel to Canada to see. Like the ones I’m traveling to Canada to see this summer. They are what I’ll miss most about the Philippines. It’s the same about Costa Rica, and will be the same about every where we go, unless everyone at Post is horrible, and I hope that never happens.

It’s so easy to pamper oneself in Manila! This is a large metro area made of multiple cities, each one having a skyline that would rival some of the bigger mid-size cities in the US. Driving into the area on the Skyway from the south you can see them all lined up and the way they’re going, pretty soon you won’t be able to see where one ends and the next one begins.

The separate cities are chock full of restaurants, malls, cinemas, and beauty spas…so many of each of those, that one would have a very hard time (possibly impossible time) trying them all in two years.

Malling is a very popular past-time in Manila and the Roy family has picked up a love for it as well. Even in Costa Rica we’d go to the one mall near us almost every weekend to eat and let the kids play.

I spend a lot of my time at Greenbelt. I go not-infrequently to Nail Tropics and get manis and pedis for prices that would make an American salon blush. One of my favorite things to do, thanks to an introduction by Carla at Carla Runs the World is going to tea. She introduced me to High Tea at the Penninsula. While I love High Tea, I love going to TWG more. This is an international restaurant chain and I wish it was in the States and Jamaica. Alas, it’s not and soon I’ll have to leave it behind.

Though I do get to take a bit of TWG with me because for Mother’s Day the kids (read: John) got me one of their tea pots, their sugar, their tea jelly, their Earl Grey, and another tea. The name of it escapes me and that’s too bad because it’s amazing. It has the word “blue” in it, I think.

I’ve not been short of movies, eating out, spa appointments, or friends in Manila. It’s so easy to stay happy here.

You should try it if you get a chance.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Not fair

It’s not fair that I have to be so far away. It’s not fair that I can’t help even when I want to. It’s not fair that her mind is going while I’m so far and can’t be there to see her or talk to her when she’s still “there” so she’ll at least know me. Right now, she’s not so far. But how quickly will it progress, how bad will she get? Will anyone really know? She wants to be independent, but how independent is she? According to an ER doctor, she can’t be. She needs help. Why can’t she be the woman who makes me itchy clothes, and has a biting wit that either made you roll your eyes or laugh? Why can’t she be the strong woman from when I was young? Why do I have to be so far?

And I can’t be there.

This sucks.

This is the worst part of the Foreign Service.