Casa de Perlman ... Take 10

There is something oddly comforting about moving back overseas and being welcomed into your new home by the same ugly as sin Drexel furniture you had in your previous homes in Oman, Israel and India

Who am I kidding?  No it's not.  Especially when you're ambushed with the overwhelming amount of wall to wall furniture in every single room of your home in Crayola's new color shade, diarrhea brown. 

Thankfully we received a bevy of pictures of our new home five months prior to our packout from Virginia, which left us with ample time to think about our designs and stock up on enough color to brighten up even the ugliest of rooms.  

We are appreciative that we hit the jackpot this tour and have a beautiful home to decorate, a far cry from our first home in India.  The landlord originally built the house for himself, so the appointments are quite extraordinary.  From the intricate chandeliers and crown molding to the American style kitchen and spa-like master bathroom.   We.  Can't.  Complain.

So come on in and take another tour of Casa de Perlman.   We're slowly taking reservations!


 Living Room
 Dining Room
Left : My office.  Right: The Laundry Room / Pantry / Storage
 Back Patio

 One side of the backyard
 Panoramic view of the kitchen
 Other views of the kitchen
Left: Sheridan's room.  Right: Grady's room.
 Riley's bedroom
 Master Bathroom
 Master Bedroom
 Another view of MBR, including the 8' chandelier hanging down from the ceiling

The kids' TV / hangout area at the top of the stairs


Surf. Turf. Tough ... and a Whole Lotta Stuff

The problem with infrequent blogging when you move back overseas is that life abroad is usually quite busy, and if you don't write every day, you end up like me with the overwhelming task of cramming three weeks worth of adventures into one post.

Here are the highlights of what's been happening here in El Salvador at Casa de Chaos ...

* I discovered the hard way that my Land Yacht (aka our Toyota Sequoia) doesn't quite fit through the Starbucks drive-thru.   Of course it happened AFTER I successfully placed my order at the window in Spanish.  To add insult to injury, despite hearing the crunch and meticulously backing the car out of drive-thru lane without incurring any more damage, I still had to park my car and WALK through the drive-thru lane to actually pay for and pick up my order. 

 * We've been to the beach twice now and the kids have enjoyed the serious waves.  I enjoyed hanging out with my girlie friends and soaking up some sun.

 * They have lots of wine here.  A few California wines (if you're willing to bend over to pay for them).  And even boxed wines ... packed identically to the juices are here.  I just hope that one day I don't make a mistake and serve the wrong box to the kids ...

* We attended three Open Houses and a separate Spanish Open House at the kids school, on four separate occasions.  For the 6th grade, we  had to follow Riley's schedule and go to each of her classes so we could see where they were, meet the teachers, hear the curriculum and make it to the next class prior to the bell ringing.  I do NOT  miss Middle School and all the drama. 

 * Got caulk?  Try saying that aloud and not smirking.  Though, if you had 2 men in your house caulking the inside and outside of every. single. window. for three straight days, the giggling would stop after the first hour.  Or maybe you'd wear a perma-scowl because the air conditioner in your bedroom has leaked 9 times since you've moved in.  Not that you're counting or anything ...

* I'm not sure I have enough brain matter left to actually grasp the Spanish language.  Four days of classes every week (two classes at the Embassy and two days where the tutor comes to my house) and I still can barely say anything more than, "I go to the store." "Can you stay to babysit?" "My kids are annoying me."  At least I've learned the important phrases.

* In an exciting turn of events, Riley got involved with Student Government and decided to throw her name in the hat and run for the 6th grade Student Council Treasurer.  She came up with her own platform, designed her own fliers, wrote her own speech, and worked on her campaign.  She ran against four other local Salvadorean kids who have been at the school since kindergarten ... and Riley WON!  I'm verklempt.

* The Embassy put on a Health and Safety event last weekend, and the kids rotated through four stations where they learned all about the importance of hygiene, stranger danger and how to work the alarm systems at the houses, eating right and fitness with the Sports Coordinator and the Marines, and self-defense.  They even had the bomb squad show the kids what they do and what they wear when they go out. 

* This is the paper I now carry with me when I buy beef, because last weekend I thought I purchased  flank steak to serve to our dinner guests, but it was more leather-like than meat.  Further embarrassment were the 9 of us attempting to gnaw on it like we were sharpening our canines for the next big hunt in the wild.  

* Can I mention again how wonderful it is for the kids to wear uniforms to school?  

 * The shoes.  THE SHOES!  This country is FILLED with ladies wearing nothing but high heeled shoes.  I think I'm going to fit in just fine ... 


Our New Normal ...

After 10 years and thousands of thousands upon thousands of dollars, we have finally entered a new stage in our lives.


On Tuesday, Riley and Sheridan began their first day of school, and yesterday, Grady started Kindergarten.  I could tell you that I shed a tear or three when they all got on that Embassy bus, but I'd be lying.  Yeah, I probably should have been a wee bit sad that my last baby left to spend a full day in kindergarten.  But they are all out of my hair house for nine hours.  NINE GLORIOUS HOURS.  Instead, I did a happy dance.  I showered with no interruptions.  I pooped in peace!

Up at the ass-crack of dawn as their bus pick-up is well before 7 am, the kids can leisurely get ready for school every morning with very little stress.  Why you ask?  Because all they have to do is throw on their ugly school uniforms and away they go.  No worrying about their shorts being too short, if the shirt matches, if what they want to wear is dirty, or if one of the girls "mistakenly" wore the other ones clothes that day.  Nope.  All they need to remember is what day it is, and if they need to wear their formal uniform or PE uniform.  So. Flipping.  Easy.

What I truly love about schools overseas are the small class sizes, and this one is no exception.  Grady has only 16 kids in his class, Sheridan has 19 kids, and Riley's eight different classes vary in size from 8 - 20 kids.  All three kids have daily SSL (Spanish as a second language) and it appears their PE and Music classes are taught in Spanish as well.  By golly, they're going to learn Spanish whether they want to or not!

Hello 2014-2015 school year.  You may have only just begun ... but I have a feeling this is going to be our best year yet!


Riley and Sheridan on their first day.  Riley in her formal uniform.  Sheridan in her PE uniform.

All three kids on their first day.  

 Think he looks ready for school to start? 


Embrace The Suck

This week, San Salvador is observing the Festival of El Salvador del Mundos ... known as Agostinos, a celebration of the patron Saint and Namesake of El Salvador.  For the Salvadoreans, it is a national festival, with everything (including the Embassy), closed for six days.  For us?  It means that our HHE ... which arrived and cleared customs this past weekend ... can't get delivered for another week. 

As we are beginning to self destruct with nothing more than the kids' iPads, Wii, and a few groceries in the house, we have been trying to get out as much as possible to see El Salvador. 

Today, we went with a van full of Embassy friends, to Parque Nacional Cerro Verde, also known as the Santa Ana Volcano.  At 2381 meters (7811 feet), this volcano is the highest in the country.  It last erupted in 2005 shooting ash, the size of cars, over a mile away.

With a guide and a driver, we arrived at the volcano around 10:30 am, and after outfitting ourselves with sunblock, bug spray, hats, snacks and water, we joined a large group of hikers accompanied by guides and police, and began the journey at 11:00 am.

By 11:05 am, Grady was done.

By 11:10 am, Matt was done with Grady.

By 11:30 am, I was ready to channel my inner Jesus, and turn our 5 bottles of water, into wine.

The hike took a total of 3.5 hours ~ 2 hours going up, and 1.5 hours coming down, with a 30 minute reprieve at the summit to eat, refresh and take as many pictures as we could before our my iPhone battery died.  Oh and pray to the gawds that sometime in those 30 "relaxing" minutes that Grady would stop crying, for I had enough of his complaining and Matt's ever-so-helpful suggestions for him (which he always said through pursed lips and clenched teeth).  "In order to experience the pleasure of the views, you have to endure the pain of the hike."  Or, "Shut the front door, we're all tired."  And my favorite, "Suffer in silence."

Matt exaggerated the truth and told us that the hike would be fun and easy.  He later revised it, saying that the fun would come on the ride home.  It certainly wasn't for the faint of spirit or the average 5-year old, and unbeknownst to us until we began the hike, no one under the age of 10 is actually allowed on the trail.  So Matt and our guide had to 'grease the machine' in order for the police to allow Grady to climb with us, which cost us a whopping $5 ...

The scenery was gorgeous as we went from a tropical jungle to a volcanic moonscape.  It became more technically challenging as the trail grew steeper and more rugged.  In all, the trek was worth all the effort as the views from the top were spectacular.  Just don't ask them to do it again any time soon. 

 We hiked to the top of the mountain directly behind us.

 Spectacular views as we traversed up our volcano.

 Posing in front of Lake Coatapeque, where we went LAST Saturday.

The view inside the crater of the volcano.

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