one of those days

You know those days when you can hardly believe how cool your life is? When you’re so appreciative of this opportunity to live in crazy parts of the world that other people only get to read about or maybe visit briefly on vacation?

And you know those days when you wonder what in the world you’ve gotten yourself into? When something that would be so simple back home is unbelievably frustrating because of cultural or language or whatever other differences?

I had both of those experiences today.

It was Friday on the eve of Labor Day weekend. As all my colleagues were describing their exciting upcoming trips, I was feeling sorry for myself to be somewhat trapped by the fact that my car hadn’t arrived. There are taxis, yes, but we have kids and carseats to consider, so there’s only so much taxing we can do. But then I had a thought! We live in civilization. There are car rental companies here — American ones, even. Why not rent some wheels for the weekend? So I logged onto Orbitz and proceeded to rent a car at the local Budget. How awesome that I was living somewhere I could use these American conveniences! (As you might imagine, such luxuries didn’t exist in Benin.) How amazing it was going to be to finally get to do some exploring!

But alas, that wasn’t to be.

First problem: the address and phone number on the local Budget website were wrong, so it took us an hour of walking and finally 15 minutes in a taxi to get there. But we did stumble upon some cool sights along the way, like:

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Still, overall this adventure wasn’t off to a great start, but all’s well that ends well? Visions of driving my family to fun places all weekend keep me going. Unfortunately once we arrived at the Budget shop, things went further downhill. We were told there was no car for us.

“But we have a reservation!” we explained, waiving our confirmation sheet. But this wasn’t America. It didn’t matter. There was no car and no apologies. Maybe reservations aren’t as firm here? Maybe everyone knows online registration systems aren’t to be trusted? But the phone number on the website didn’t even work, so we couldn’t have called to reserve a car if we’d wanted to. What were we supposed to have done? We didn’t know. All we knew was that there was no car for us. So home we went in the taxi.

The only thing that elicited a brief smile on the long and mostly sulky ride home was hearing Andy trying to answer our chatty driver’s many questions about American male hairstyles — not exactly his area of expertise.

But back to the point… How should we salvage this weekend? Any creative ideas?

Posted in FS Life, Mexico, Personal | 2 Comments

tacos, tacos everywhere

One of my goals for this tour was to develop a more sophisticated understanding of Mexican food than the tacos and fajitas with which I’m familiar. I’m realizing  this may prove more difficult than I expected. In our two weeks in town we’ve tagged along with colleagues each day for lunch. They’ve yet to take us to anywhere other than a taco joint. Sometimes it’s simple street tacos that are cooked on portable grills and that we eat standing or at folding tables. Sometimes it’s seafood tacos stuffed with octopus, shrimp, tuna, and more that we enjoy along with tropical drinks. Other times it’s fancy tacos filled with more expensive and interesting meats. But it’s always tacos. Not that we can really complain. We could probably eat tacos every day for two years and still not grow tired of them.

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Posted in Welcome | 2 Comments

greetings from guadalajara

We’ve arrived! Our house is a lot better than we expected. We have more bathrooms than people (six!) and plenty of living space. Everything is new and modern. The government issued furniture is way less hideous than it was at our first post, so that’s a small but important quality of life victory. We’ll post some photos once we get everything set up.

Although we weren’t thrilled at first about being in a gated community, we’re loving the community center with a pool and playground that the boys visit daily. We’re not in the heart of the city, but we’re definitely not as far out as I feared. We’ve been pleasantly surprised that we’re actually walking distance from quite a bit including a preschool that Flynn will be starting at next week, a taxi stand, bakeries, ice cream shops, coffee shops, salons, play places, and loads of restaurants including one with a kids area and an on call nanny.

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Work is totally overwhelming as is the Foreign Service way, but we’re confident that in a few months we’ll find our groove. The people seem great, the hours are reasonable, and we’ve been eating delicious tacos most days for lunch, so no complaints there.

We managed to set up cell service but still don’t have internet at home. Our stuff isn’t here yet. Most significantly, our cars aren’t here yet. So we’re at the mercy of kind strangers and taxi drivers, which leaves us pretty stranded most of the time since we travel as a pack of five with two car seats. This is the worst time of every Foreign Service tour, when you need to do and get stuff but don’t really know how, when you want to explore and learn more about your new home but can’t do much of that yet. Even the most upbeat of diplomats find themselves feeling a bit down during this stretch. And yet despite all that, we’re actually doing okay, which makes us think that when we get settled we’re really going to love it here.

Posted in FS Life, House, Spanish | Leave a comment

our year stateside

Dear Flynn and Jonah,

This was a big year for you boys, this year that we spent living in Falls Church, Virginia. Jonah, it was of course your first. Flynn, this was the year when you not only got a little brother, but also changed from a babbling toddler into a little person with a distinct personality. Just like I did when we left Benin, I’ve decided to put down for posterity some things I’d like you to know about this phase of your lives.

Flynn, you were just over two when you, me, and Abbey the dog flew by ourselves all the way from Cotonou to Paris and on to Washington, D.C. You were as good as any two-year-old boy could be expected to be on an airplane, until landing when you told me you felt a little funny. The next thing I knew, I was covered in throw up. You felt much better by the time you reunited with your dad in the arrivals hall. Although you’d seen him a few times in London, it had been almost six months since he’d been living with us. You gave him the biggest hug you maybe ever had. He got a bit more than he’d bargained for, though: despite being in a diaper, you somehow managed to pee all over him. I don’t envy the taxi driver who hauled us all home. I think we tipped him extra.

You were confused when we first arrived at the house we’d just bought, Flynn. As we strolled through the empty place, you kept asking somberly to go home. This made your dad and me so sad. But standing in your new bedroom we could see out to the backyard, which was filled with large, colorful, plastic toys that Grandma Jeanne had been collecting for you from garage sales. “All that for Flynn?” you asked with a hopeful tone in your voice. When you learned that it was, you seemed to decide that this new house might be alright after all. It turned out to be a wonderful home indeed. We decorated your bedroom with trains and airplanes, and we met lots of little friends for you out on walks around the neighborhood. Shortly after our arrival there was a neighborhood block party which you decided was being thrown in your honor; we didn’t correct you. For the rest of the year, every time we walked by the site of that party, you would ask, “Do you remember my party?” As luck would have it, this year’s version was held on our last week in town. You thought it was all for you, too.

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Benin didn’t have parks or playgrounds, so for our first two months back stateside, Flynn, you and I made up for lost time. I wasn’t working, so together we went somewhere fun every day. We got to know the best playgrounds, water parks, and splash pads. We went to library story times. We saw puppet shows. We joined play groups. I took you to your first movie, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. (You were mostly interested in the popcorn, though occasionally you would point at a giant pancake flying across the screen.) At the end of every day we would head up the block to “find dad” on his walk home from work. “Daddy, daddy!” you would yell, and then take off running until he scooped you up in his arms. Despite all the fun, there were some struggles. You would cry and flail your limbs for hours as I tried to get you to take your afternoon nap. Nighttime was tough too. You would wake up crying five, six, or seven times a night. Change is hard, especially when you’re too little to understand it. And more change was coming.

Grandma Jeanne moved in on her birthday, and shortly thereafter your little brother arrived too. But these were changes you welcomed, Flynn. You walked so hesitantly into the hospital room, not sure exactly what you would find there, but you were so happy and sweet when you met Jonah. You were  probably more excited to welcome Grandma to our home, though. While I looked after your brother, Grandma Jeanne took you out in the yard to play with all those toys. She let you paint and chalk and do all sorts of things your dad and I didn’t like to do.

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Jonah, while Flynn was off having fun with Grandma Jeanne, you and I mostly just sat around. You were a needy little thing for a while. You came almost a full week early, before we had even gotten around to packing a hospital bag. And you came fast. I barely even made it to the hospital, and your dad had barely met me there from work, and then you were there! You were a cute little baby but looked nothing like your brother, which is funny because as time went on you changed so much that in photos now we sometimes can’t distinguish you from him. We usually figure it out based on the hair, though. At almost a year, you still have almost none. Jonah, for your first few months you wanted to be held at all moments, and the only person you’d let hold you was me. Even though we swore we’d never do it, we kept you in our bed with us  because it was the only way to get you to sleep. Gradually you gained a bit of independence, moving into your our room and accepting the presence of other people. You became quite the smiley little guy.  You’ll smile at anyone and everyone, but you save your biggest smiles and loudest laughs for Flynn.

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We didn’t do any exotic travel this year, boys, but we did see many family members and friends. We drove back to Illinois for Aunt Bess and Uncle Ted’s wedding a bit before you were born, Jonah. Unfortunately we were rear-ended by a drunk driver on the Interstate somewhere in rural Maryland, and we spent two days trapped in the only motel that accepted dogs as we waited for any rental car within a 100 mile radius to become available. We ate meals from the one delivery restaurant in town and sometimes just from the motel vending machine, which was a new and exciting sight for you, Flynn. You called it “that monster that gives me candy.” Eventually we were on our way, and at the wedding you enjoyed seeing many family members, including your second cousin James who by complete accident was wearing the exact same outfit as you. We also visited your St. Louis friends for Thanksgiving, and you spent two separate weeks with Grandma Sherrie and Papa in Ohio. We were nervous you would get homesick, but they gave you enough Starbucks drinks that you were just fine. You boys traveled back to Ohio with your dad over Fourth of July, and many of your Midwestern family members and friends came out to see us.

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Despite some photographs on Santa’s lap that suggest otherwise, you loved Christmas and even Santa, Flynn. But who you loved perhaps most of all this year was Mickey Mouse, which was why you were so excited to learn we’d be going to “Mickey’s house” and on “Mickey’s boat” with your cousins. You were so shy and sweet when you met Mickey in person. You told him you loved him. The glow on your face suggested you’d realized your greatest dream. Later you showed wisdom beyond your years when you asked me to stop taking photos of you with Mickey and your other character “friends,” because you just wanted to spend time with them.

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After we got home from that trip I went back to work, and you started going to school. You cried the first two days I left you. It was so sad that I made Grandma Jeanne take you the third day. But you adjusted quickly and before long school was your very favorite place in the whole world. You came home with stories about a girl named Frankie, a boy named Karen, and a boy named Ali. We were sure you must be jumbling things up, but you weren’t. Your teachers said you were such a sweet little boy. You quickly learned to write all your letters and then focused on helping your friends learn too. You started in the “2 class,” as you liked to say, but were so proud when you were moved up to the 3s. “I live in the 3 class now,” you told us, and you wouldn’t believe us when we insisted you actually lived at home. You loved pajama day, and bike day, and dentist visit day. You once paced the house nervously for a full hour before show and tell day, trying to settle on the perfect thing to bring in. (Shark car it was!)

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Jonah, while Flynn was off at school, you spent your days with Grandma Jeanne. Sometimes she would take you out to a playground or a Goodwill, but mostly she would chase you around the house and wonder how such a little thing could have so much energy. You sat, you crawled, you cruised. You sprouted teeth, and we have marks all over your crib to prove it. You love dropping food to Abbey.  You took some clumsy first steps while we were packing up the house, but you truly learned to walk in the hotel where we’re staying until it’s time to go. You call everyone “dada” and you sometimes say, “hiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii,” or “ohhhhhhhh.” Flynn loves to pick up “Jonah brother” or “Jonah pants,” as he calls you, and you’re getting big enough now that we sometimes let him.

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Flynn, one weekend you and Mom took a special train trip up to New York City, where your favorite memories are the dozens of Mickeys in Times Square, the giant pretzel you got to eat while walking across the Brooklyn Bridge, and the fact that your new friend Andrew’s dad gave you a very big band-aid. You did lots of special things with Dad too. At the beginning of the year you were obsessed with trains, or “choo choos” as you called them, so he would take you out to ride a few stops on the Metro every Saturday morning. He took you to a minor league baseball game where you were very impressed by the player’s hats, and to a high school hockey game where you were very interested in the player’s socks.

By the time your third birthday was approaching, Flynn, Mickey was old news and dinosaurs were your new favorite thing. So we rented a dino shaped bounce house for the backyard and invited some of your little friends over for a party. You made sure they all knew the dinosaur was a friendly one. It rained before the party was over, but no matter. We got to keep the bounce house for another day, and so you had lots more fun before the friendly dinosaur had to go home.

Speaking of home, boys, this house we’ve been living in is yours. This goodbye isn’t as sad as the one we said in Benin, knowing that realistically it was unlikely we’d ever return. Another family is going to be living in our Falls Church house for a while, but we’ll be back. You can have your same rooms. Many of your friends will still be in the neighborhood. Many things will remain the same, except of course for the large addition we’re already planning. You boys are far too wild for 1,400 square feet. Though we’ll be coming back, there are still some goodbyes to be said. Flynn, you were so proud to tell us that when you’re four you’ll be in Miss Judy’s class, and so sad when we reminded you that when you’re four you’ll actually be in Mexico. You love your school, and though I’m sure we’ll find another one you’ll love just as much, it’s still going to be a very sad last day.

Luckily, there are lots of great experiences waiting to be had by you both in Mexico. Off we go.

Love,

Mom

 

Posted in Baby, FS Life, House, Life in DC, Personal, Toddler | 2 Comments

packed up and packed out

We’re not sure how you’re supposed to prepare a three-year-old for a major move, but we’ve decided to go the route of talking about it constantly so that when it’s upon him at least he won’t be surprised. For months we’ve been explaining the steps to him — first getting ready for the movers, then the movers, then the hotel while our house is empty, then the airplane, then the new house. So with that sort of build-up I suppose it shouldn’t be a surprise that Flynn woke up in the middle of the night the day before our pack-out asking, “Are the movers here yet?” in excited anticipation. He proceeded to wait by the doorway until they were.

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I’m ashamed to admit that when a team of three petite female movers showed up in a very small van, I feared for the worst. Our pack-out was scheduled to take two days, and afterwards we had appointments with floor people, handymen, cleaners, the property management company. The schedule was tight, with no room to spare. How could these three women and their small truck possibly finish moving everyone out of our very full house in just two days?

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It turned out the women’s job was to pack everything. That small truck was holding all the boxes they’d need to do so. A larger truck and twice as many male movers would come the following day to haul everything away.

In the end, those three petite women wrapped and packed everything in time to be out the door promptly at 5 p.m. We were sure the men would only have to work a half day. After all, everything was basically done — they just had to carry it all outside. But nope, they were there finishing up until 8 p.m.

Shame on me for having doubted the abilities of those petite female movers.

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So our stuff is gone, our house is empty, and our many, many suitcases are stacked high in hotel closets. We are officially betwixt and between.

In somewhat related news, Jonah has transitioned from taking clumsy steps that only sometimes get him across the room to a fully capable little walker. We realized that Flynn learned to walk while staying in an extended stay hotel too. I guess that’s life for third culture kids.

 

Posted in Baby, FS Life, House, Life in DC, Toddler, Travel | 2 Comments

where we’ll live

We got our housing assignment! The house was a bit small, but big enough. Definitely bigger than the space we’ve been squeezing ourselves into in Northern Virginia this past year. Plus, it was lovely, and better yet, in a swanky and seemingly interesting neighborhood with traditional architecture, parks and playgrounds galore, a VIP movie theatre, one of the nicest malls in the country, and even a nature preserve with horseback riding. There was a small backyard, a luxury in Guadalajara, and best of all a spiral staircase just like the one in Frozen (according to Flynn anyway).

But… as you may have noticed by the past tense in that description, that house is no more. A few weeks after we received our housing assignment, we received word that it had been changed. Now we are going to be in one of the gated communities that initially we weren’t super excited about.

What a strange life this is. We don’t get to pick where we live. Details are often sketchy until we arrive, and things are always subject to change. This not only goes for the house but also the city and country that will become our home.

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You might think a background in foreign policy makes for a good diplomat, but I’ve found the most important skill for success in this career is adaptability. Also crucial is both the ability and the willingness to focus on the positive aspects of your situation, because there will be many, many of them no matter where you are in the world. Travel, culture, foreign languages, representing and serving your country — to name only a few. But the few downsides may be screaming out for your attention much louder. We haven’t always been completely successful at focusing our attention on the positives, but we’re learning, and we think we’re getting better.

It’s hard to tell from photos, but we’re told that this new house is going to be bigger than the first. The house has a super modern design style that we might not have been brave enough to pick out ourselves but that will be fun to play around with for a few years. The neighborhood has a clubhouse with a pool, gym, and other amenities that we’ll get to access for free. There are more things we can walk to than we initially realized, including a preschool that looks like it could be a great fit for Flynn. It’s hard to get a complete sense of what it’ll really be like, but we’re confident it will be great. We’ll make sure of it.

There is one bit of bad news, though. There’s no spiral staircase. We’re not sure how we’re going to break that particular detail to our little Frozen fanatic.

Posted in FS Life, House | 2 Comments

a toddler on moving

Flynn’s off living the good life with his grandparents in Ohio at the moment. Apparently the following conversation took place in his grandma’s car:

  • Flynn: I’m moving to Mexico!
  • Flynn’s three-year-old-cousin: Why?
  • Flynn: Because I need to learn Spanish.
  • (His cousin starts to cry.)
  • Flynn’s grandma: What’s wrong?
  • Cousin: I don’t want my cousin to leave me!

He needs to learn Spanish? What? Glad to know we’ve hammered the importance of bi- or tri-lingualism into his little head, though.

In any case, being far from family is definitely one of the harder things about the Foreign Service life, but when I start to feel bad about that I remind myself that we actually managed to see family nearly as often when we were in Benin as we did this past year while living in the Washington, D.C. area. Admittedly we did manage to get back stateside a lot while in Benin. In Mexico, I’m not sure the same is going to be true. We have a finite amount of vacation time, and there’s a lot of regional travel we want to do. Luckily, in Mexico, something tells me we’ll have a little more luck luring visitors to us.

Posted in FS Life, Toddler | Leave a comment

some unsolicited language learning advice

It’s almost old news at this point, but… we both passed our Spanish tests! I passed mine on time which is no small feat in these days of dismal passing rates, but just to make sure that didn’t go to my head, Andy went on to pass his too… except he did it six weeks early.

Andy passing early is totally annoying. Why? Because he spent his entire 18 weeks of Spanish training telling me how awful he was doing and stressing about having to extend and really screw things up for our timing in the future. And then he passes early? What?

But mostly it’s totally excellent because it means a) we won’t have to separate our family as I travel to post ahead of him, b) I won’t have to take the kids and dog to post without Andy’s help, and, c) now Andy’s got time to focus on all that tedious administrative stuff that comes along with traveling to post… stuff I thought would be on my plate while he focused on studying.

All this is excellent for me, at least. As Andy’s “to do” list grows, I think he’s starting to wish he hadn’t passed…

Anyhow, that’s not the point of this blog post. The point of this blog post is this: after having completed training in two different languages in the past four years at the Foreign Service Institute (remember, we studied French too), we’ve realized a few things we’d like to pass along to anyone out there on the Interwebs who finds themselves embarking on this endeavor:

1) You need to work hard from the beginning. You’re in class for five hours but being paid for eight. Use those extra three hours, and use them wisely. Sure, there are some brilliant linguists out there who can hunker down in the last few weeks or months of training (or never at all) and still pass, but for most of us, getting serious halfway through is just too late.

2) Be strategic with your vocabulary. You don’t need to know four different ways to say the same thing. If you’ve got one phrase or one word down, move on to the next. You don’t need to learn words for things unlikely to come up frequently, like bungee jumping, or passion fruit, or boat shoes. It can be tempting to learn to say crazy things in foreign languages, but remember that the goal isn’t to pick up party tricks, it’s to pass this test. You only have so much brain space and so much time to get to the level you need, so triage. Save the fluff for later.

3) Get your connector phrases down early on. In real life most people don’t punctuate every sentence with “therefore,” or “in that regard,” or “as a result,” but the examiners love this sort of thing. Plus, connectors gives a logical structure to your ideas, while also working as placeholders to allow you a bit more time to think about what you’re going to say next. It may sound awkward, and you may stop using most of these after passing your test, but trust us, memorize 10 or 15 good connectors early on, and you won’t be sorry.

4) Slow and steady is better than speedy and sloppy. It’s very hard to undo bad habits, so don’t let yourself develop them. It will be frustrating in the beginning to not feel like you can say much, especially as some of your classmates already seem to be speaking in paragraphs, but saying little and saying it correctly is almost always better in this context than saying a lot but with many mistakes.

5) Advocate for yourself. No one is more invested in your success than you are. If a particular teacher or class grouping isn’t working for you, say something.

6) Remember that your goal is not just to learn the language, but also to pass your exam. This is the lesson that probably took us the longest time to learn. Commit yourself early on to understanding what the test is all about, and work toward succeeding at it. Yes, this will leave some gaps in your language abilities. (You will have the vocabulary necessary to debate about global warming. You won’t have the vocabulary necessary to get Internet set up at your home.) But you can fill in those gaps later.

7) After you pass the test, keep learning. A lot of people leave FSI with an inflated sense of confidence about their language abilities. The reality is that no matter what the IRL says, as an FSI trained 3/3 you still have a long way to go to communicate in a way that doesn’t embarrass yourself or your country. So celebrate passing that exam, take a bit of time off, and then get back at it.

 

Posted in French, FS Life, FSI, Spanish | 1 Comment

on observing someone else’s culture shock

You would think that nine months in to this parents of two young kids thing we’d have it pretty much figured out, but truth be told we’re still barely managing to get our homework done and get moderately nutritious food in the kids’ mouths, so social lives? Hosting other people? Yeah, no. But a few weeks ago we found out that one of the two Beninese employees with whom Andy worked most closely in the embassy was going to be in Washington, D.C. for a few days. We knew we’d regret it if we didn’t reach out and show some hospitality in this case, so we did.

Dinner at our house was nice but fairly uneventful. But before dinner, Flynn and I took our guest for a stroll around Target. I knew it would be interesting for her, but although this was her first trip to the U.S. she’d spent significant amounts of time in major world cities outside of Africa, so I guess I underestimated the level of culture shock she would experience at Target.

Every few aisles she would just stop and almost giggle. “It looks like this all the time?” she asked about the toy section. “But it’s not even Christmas season!” She was baffled by how many different choices there were for types of diapers. She couldn’t believe the store was so clean and the shelves were so well organized. She was shocked to learn this was where the average American shopped, not just the wealthy.

The whole experience was so overwhelming for her that she had trouble deciding what to buy. She ultimately settled on instant oatmeal, which apparently isn’t available in Benin, but which she took a liking to when some departing diplomat left her a few packs. And of course we sent her off with some books and art supplies for her kids.

Not long after her visit I was back at Target and noticed a middle-aged man standing in the laundry section looking rather troubled.  I recognized that look. It was the same one I had shortly after arriving in Benin, and, sick, found myself in a pharmacy with no idea how anything was organized let alone what any of it was. After I gave the man a sympathetic smile, he asked in heavily accented English (yet, it should be noted, still much better foreign language skills than we diplomats possess when we arrive overseas), “Is this how I wash clothes?” He was pointing to bleach. I led him over to the detergent, and as his eyes scanned what I realized all of a sudden must be 100 choices, he looked more troubled than ever. “Is there, um, one you like?” I hooked him up with the Target brand and sent him on his way.

Posted in Benin, FS Life, Life in DC | 4 Comments

birthday bouncing

Flynn turned three this week!

Did you know that two dozen helium balloons is the absolute most you can fit in a small SUV? This is one of many important lessons we learned from planning his party, the most important of which is: never again host a party outdoors!

After weeks of weather stalking and escalating levels of worry (since we had no plan B of which to speak), we decided to take a chance on the 66% chance that it would not rain during his fairly narrow party time slot. What do you think, dear reader? Was the weatherman wrong? You betcha.

Here are some scenes from the festivities before the storm. (Lest you wonder why in the world there were no children at this party, I should point out that I make an effort not to post photos of other people’s kids. Alas, you get to — or have to — enjoy lots of photos of mine, and their relatives.)

andy russ jonah cake flynn papa cake decor dino jonah drink driveway  flynn bounce flynn mom dino flynn food good family photo jonah playing dinos  yard again

Shortly after the rain hit and the party moved inside, Flynn’s cousin mentioned there was something moving in my mom’s bed. At first I told her not to worry, it must be the dog, until I remembered that the dog was locked upstairs. What did I find under the covers? Why, it was Flynn, hiding out and opening his presents, of course.

He’s no fool.

By some stroke of scheduling luck the bounce house rental place asked us if we could keep Mr. Dinosaur overnight. We gladly obliged, though are waiting nervously to see that next utilities bill. Still, I maintain that it was worth it for the loads of after hours bouncing.

Is that someone bouncing in his pajamas first thing in the morning? Yep.

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The only person who might have liked the the bounce house more than Flynn was his brother. A giant padded room with unlimited crawling possibilities, and no one snatching him up from potential hazards? Yes, please!

Image 1Goodbye, Mr. Dinosaur.

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Many exciting things surely await us abroad, but I’m going to miss being in a place where all it takes is a Google search, a phone call, and a check to make your dinosaur loving three-year-old’s wildest dreams come true.

Happy birthday big guy!

Posted in FS Life, Holiday, House, Life in DC, Personal, Welcome | 1 Comment