Thirteen ...

A baker's dozen.

A prime number.

The number of stars and stripes on the original US flag.

The age in Judaism at which a boy matures and becomes a Bar Mitzvah.

The number of turns it takes to make a traditional hangman's noose.

The age which children officially become teenagers.

The number of each of the four suits in a deck of cards.

Most skyscrapers and airplanes don't use this number to label floors / rows.

The number of people at the Last Supper of Jesus.

Is an actual fear called Triskaidekaphobia.

The number of major joints in our body.

Per mythologists, is a "female" number.

... and is also the number of years that Matthew and I have now been married.

Our Ketubah (Marriage Contract)

I am blessed ...

To have found a husband who so truly loves and cherishes his family.

That Matt enjoys his career (for the most part), and works hard to provide for us.

To be able to travel the world with our family.

That Matt is such a hands-on father.

That Matt enjoys making beds and folding laundry (and probably either worked at a hospital or was a sales person at the Gap or J. Crew in a former life!)

That I find Matt funnier, sexier, and more handsome every year.

That Matt is THE most easy going guy I know.

To have married into a great family.

To be told every day that I am loved and valued

That he appreciates the finer things in life.  Like having an electrician, a handy-man, a painter, a plumber, and a gardener all on speed dial. 

That he is true to himself and is happy with who he has become.

That we truly don't argue or fight over anything of substance. 

That after thirteen years of marriage I am confident I wouldn't change a thing.


Sure The Photo May Be A Wee Bit Blurry ...

... but the sentiment?  Couldn't be clearer.

There are many reasons why I absolutely LOVE the Foreign Service.  Meeting dear friends abroad, who you met almost 10 years ago, who AREN'T even part of the FS?  Top of the list!  

Especially when you get a picture sent to you like this.  Of your husband, who you just sent back to his unaccompanied post, far far away ... and the sweetest of friends.  The Brits.  The Canadians.  And the Americans.  Who you met in Muscat, Oman, during your first overseas tour.  Who all ended up moving to Dubai.  And who all made an effort to get together when they knew Matt was coming through town on a brief layover. 

It makes your heart swell and tears sting your eyes.

I saw each of these families through pregnancy and babies.  In fact, the cutie holding the smart phone taking the picture, was actually in the hospital having her son the SAME day that I was having Sheridan.

The one next to Matt?  We met her when they first moved to Oman, and after having gone on several vacations with them (including Matt's amazing cave repelling trip), planned a surprise baby shower for her, snapped photos of her newborn, and still stay in touch with her parents.  Well ... we're beyond blessed to call her/them friends.

There is so much that this lifestyle offers.  But to make lifelong friendships.  With people all over the world.  Who truly solidify the true meaning of "It takes a village ...".   Well, for once I'm speechless.

Thank you Dina, Dave, Kerstin, Rob, Dawn, and Martin for hanging with my husband.  You remind me why I'm excited to move back overseas again.

Now forgive me for the embarrassment as I take you down memory lane ...

L: Surprise baby shower March, 2004.  R: Mackenzie's birth in June, 2004

Cooper is born.  September, 2004

L: A line of pregnant ladies in October, 2004.  R: About to pop.  November, 2004

Thanksgiving at our house 2004

In the hospital together.  Sheridan and Hamish born about 5 hours apart. 

L: Sheridan and Hamish.  R: Babies / Toddlers from our playgroup

Our very last play date in Oman


It's Not Easy...

It's NEVER easy.

Despite doing this for my 5th time.  Regardless of my expectationsIt ... still ... sucks.

I dropped Matt off tonight at the airport to head back to Afghanistan.  To the place he'll call home for another 4.5 months or so. (give or take a few days). 

Unlike living in California during Matt's last unaccompanied tour in Iraq, where we both felt like  virtual strangers in our small cottage on the beach, these three weeks were action packed.  That is, when we both weren't sick.  Our house maintenance was abundant.  The painting of our bedroom and re-painting of our bathroom was a success.  We agreed on a paint color for the downstairs.  I was successful at installing our new fabulous wi-fi thermostat.  Matt helped choose a new, non-smelly treadmill that I'll purchase next week.

In a nutshell, all was great.

But when you're truly honest about being apart as long as many of us in the State Department are during these one-year separated tours, you're also honest about how this much togetherness is sometimes a wee bit too much togetherness.  Especially when both of you aren't working.  When you only have one car.   When you focus SO incredibly much on spending every waking minute together, because the guilt you both feel for spending any time apart is overwhelming ... Well, let's just say it isn't reality.

And that reality adds to the difficulty this lifestyle brings.  It's.  Not.  Easy.

It's cyclical.  Sometimes it's not even something you can comprehend or relate unless you've been in the same position.  Which then, makes commiserating or empathizing difficult.   Which brings you back to realizing that this lifestyle truly takes a village.

Lucky for me, I know the routine.  I know that in less than 5 months we'll be writing our next chapter.  That the loneliness will (thankfully) soon subside.  That we'll get back into a routine and life will deliver it's next set of opportunities.  And in true Perlman fashion, test me with its challenges.

Today?   I'm fragile.  I'm human.  I'm allowing myself some time to wallow in my self-pity.

But by Friday, I hope to begin hunting again my for inner tiger.  Just watch out.  I'm pretty sure when I find it you'll hear me roar!


Redemption ...

If at first you don't succeed ... 

Now I'm not one to let sleeping dogs lie ... or fully-functional thermostats remain on the wall.   I thought I would try my hand once again, this time upping the ante.  


Say hello to our new, high-end, insanely expensive wi-fi "Thinking" thermostat that Matt discovered recently in one of his "man-gear" websites.  

It took me less than 10 minutes to install this bad boy.  And less than 5 to program it online.  I can even adjust the temperature from my iPhone while laying in bed ... or while sipping boxed Chianti at the local Olive Garden.

Don't worry though, I'll be sure not to pull any muscles while patting myself on the back.  

I'll just make Matt do it.  


'C' Is For Cookie ...

... Girl Scout Cookies that is!  And this year my friend Jen and I are joining efforts to ship these delicious cookies to any U.S. Consulate or Embassy in the world!  So get your orders ready.

If you remember, two years ago my daughter Riley set up her shop to ship cookies anywhere in the world.  And last year, Jen's daughter Kelsey did the same thing.  As we both know how much work it is for the girls (and us moms) to submit and track the orders, collect the money, pack the boxes, address the customs envelopes, and take the boxes to the post office, we thought that this year we would join forces.

First and foremost, we don't want to step on anyone's toes, so our efforts are focused on providing Girl Scout Cookies solely to our Foreign Service friends overseas, where we can ship to any APO/FPO/DPO or pouch address.  If you are our family member or personal friend and want to buy from us rather than from the little girlies who are SURE to knock on your door sometime in the next few months, that's great too.  But we'll take care of you outside of this joint venture. 

Just like the last few years, the cookies are only $4 / box ... with all your favorites returning!

Thin Mints
Thank You Berry Munch
Dulce de Leche
Savannah Smiles

Here's how to order:

1) Attempt to narrow down how many boxes you want (versus how many boxes your eyes and stomach want.) 

2) Send an email to DSforGS@yahoo.com by Friday, January 18th, with ...

* Your Name
* Your Post
* Your Address
* Exactly how many of each kind you'd like

3) When the cookies come in (sometime in mid-February), we'll send you an email invoice letting you know your totals.  Then just send us your payment via paypal, and we'll get them out to you ASAP. 

It's THAT simple.

We will be shipping the cookies in the USPS Flat Rate boxes.  The current APO/FPO rate is $13.45 for a 12" x 12" x 5 1/2" box ... and we can fit 8 boxes of cookies in them.  And as an incentive ... you pay the first $10 / box, and we'll pick up the rest!

A wee bit of additional information :

** If you are at a post overseas, pass along this information to ANY of your friends.  We would LOVE to outfit your entire Consulate or Embassy. 

** Consider combining orders with your friends to help reduce shipping costs.

** Between the two families, our girls sold over 1100 boxes of cookies to 50+ countries during the last two years to FS personnel. 

** We set up the DSforGS@yahoo.com email address so that we could make it easy to get more cookies shipped out to more places.  If you know either of us personally and want our daughters to send out your cookies - no worries.  Just say so in your email.  Otherwise, we have divided up the world behind the scenes so that all you need to do is send in your order, and let us take care of the rest!

Now what are you waiting for?  Happy ordering!


Yesterday I Blew A Fuse ...

No seriously ... yesterday I LITERALLY blew a fuse.

In our furnace.  While trying to change our thermostat.  Because the directions on the box clearly stated that it would take 15 minutes or less.  That is, if the dufus installing the system actually read the one page of directions that would have saved the next 18 hours of stress.  Not that I'm admitting guilt or anything. *ahem*.

Of course, you know what happens when you LITERALLY blow a fuse in your furnace mere minutes before you have to run out to a PTA meeting?

Well if you guessed that your husband fixes it during the two hours you were gone, you'd be WRONG.  However, if your second guess is that he finally fed the kids a dinner of frozen waffles with Nutella and blueberries, you'd be SPOT on.  Though this post isn't about my sweet husband's culinary skills or lack thereof ... so let's get back to the issue at hand. 

Unaware until this morning (thanks to our neighborhood Facebook page) that I actually DID blow a fuse in the furnace, we spent endless hours trying to wire and re-wire the OLD thermostat.  Turning on and turning off the circuit breakers.  Wondering what on 'gawds green earth' I did that somehow stopped sending electricity to the new, and then switched-out-again, old thermostat.

I won't bother to go into gory detail about what exactly I did wrong.  Let's just sum it up by saying that I now know a HELL of a lot about re-wiring thermostats.  And the bottom line is that extra wires are OKAY.   Note to self ... the blue 'C' wire doesn't go into the terminal marked 'B' just because it's blue.  That is ... unless you want to blow a fuse in your furnace that will take you hours upon hours to discover.

To compound matters, last night was poetically the coldest night of the year.  A grand time to be without heat.  AND hot water.   Because as we later discovered, the gas for the hot water heater is tied to the furnace.  SO, no heat = no hot water.

Despite tinkering until almost 2 am, there was no heat to be had.  And when we woke up this morning we could see our breath and hang meat in our bedroom.  It.  Was.  COLD.

Setting aside my DIY pride we called in a team of experts (our on-call electrician and our Home Depot frequenting friends) to as Matt puts it, "un-f*ck" my previous days handiwork.

Fortunately by noon, our ordeal was over.  Having taken seventy-two times longer than the instructions said it should.   Ending up right back where we started.  Though with a clearer understanding of a heating and air conditioning wiring system.

But ... with the same old thermostat. 

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