All SHE Wanted For Her 8th Birthday Was This ...

Which is a good thing considering I didn't buy her many gifts as the world is scheduled to end tomorrow.

Of course, all I wanted for her birthday was this ...

Unfortunately, we didn't even get a chance to eat this ...

Because of this ...

Two hours spent in the nurse's office today while I was running the Winter Holiday Party in Sheridan's class.  Two and a half hours spent in urgent care where we BOTH went to be seen.  Official diagnosis?  I have an upper respiratory infection.  Riley has strep throat. 

Thankfully the weariest of travelers made it back here safe and sound to celebrate Sheridan's special day ... and now to take care of us!  It was touch and go for awhile as the weather in Afghanistan actually canceled flights from Herat to Kabul for 48 hours.  When he did finally leave, he truly made his connecting flight from Kabul to Dubai solely by the hair on his chinny chin chin.

But he's here now.  And he's all ours for the next 18 days.  Let's just hope the antibiotics kick in for us so we can enjoy it!

P.S. For a good laugh, take a walk down memory lane with me when Sheridan turned three ... four ... five ... six ... and seven.


We Shlepped. We Vomited. And We Had A Private Concert By James Taylor.

This afternoon I took the girlies out of school early to doll it up for a special party.  The kids and I were invited to the State Department's annual Diplomacy At Home For The Holidays.  A party in honor of those families who have members on an unaccompanied tour. 

Usually the Secretary of State makes a speech and takes photos with the kids.  Which is honestly why we made the schlep in.  Though she wasn't able to make it, having a private concert by James Taylor somewhat made up for it!  

Lots of food.  TONS of candy.  A cupcake decorating station.  A few characters to dance with.  And mingling with friends, made the $20 parking, the vomiting (thankfully not in the new car), the whining, the sugar high, the sugar low, and the 1.5 hour drive home totally worth it!

Of course, I'll happily admit that I'm thankful there won't be a next time ...


Forgive Me Friends, For I Have Sinned ...

... For it's been over 5 weeks since my last posting.

With apparently so much to say and so little time, I'll spare us all the long, drawn out update, and fill you in on the latest ... in pictures.   Here is the story version of what we've been up to.

Thanksgiving came and went, and we were lucky to have shared the day with dear friends...

We said good-bye to Sheridan's fish (his "brother" was flushed a few weeks prior).  And promptly put the tank and accoutrements for sale!

Not too long after, I bid farewell to this sweet gal.

And a fond HELLO to this one. 

2011 Certified Pre-Owned Toyota Sequoia

 Grady was the casualty of a few of his sisters' play-dates.

The roof and walls were finally fixed from the hurricane's damage.  Eventually they'll be sanded and painted too ...

I looked down one morning and noticed this little jewel missing ... so off to the Unc my ring was sent!

 Then Hanukkah came ...

and Hanukkah went ...

There were many latkes made.  Old school style!

And gifts galore. 

Gray got the one gift he wanted more than ANYTHING.  A red Power Ranger Samurai Ninja costume.  Which he had on within about 30 seconds after opening his present.

I even got myself a little somethin' somethin'.


This Hanukkah was deemed by the girls as THE. BEST. EVER.   Which frankly, it should have been considering we admittedly spoiled them rotten.  The Jewish guilt factor for daddy being gone and turning their lives upside down for the year.

Other notables from the past month ...
My girlfriend came for a few day visit.  Of course, despite both having iPhones, and being together for several days straight, we never managed to snap a photo of us. 

The exciting news of our next adventure keeps us all sane as Matt enters his seventh month in Afghanistan.  Well beyond the half-way point, yet still not quite seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.

And I had THE most amazing Karma moment recently involving my BOB Revolution stroller, which I promise to tell someday soon.

Until then ...


A New Adventure

If you've followed our journey long enough, you'll know that 'Tis The Season to be Jolly Anxious Excited Irritated on pins and needles.  For bidding time has come and gone.  While the stress of bidding usually comes around every few years for "normal" State Department folks, we have had the luxury of bidding on a new position every year for the past FOUR years.  Aren't we stupid special ....

Since we left India back in 2010 I haven't bothered to look at the available positions.  We knew we were going to stay Stateside for a few years (or at least the family would be).  We knew we were going to be settling in Northern Virginia.  We had a plan.

But in true DS fashion, nothing is ever set in stone. 

About six months ago, just prior to Matt leaving for Afghanistan, I told him that I wanted to reconsider our options.  I was getting that overseas 'itch' again.  I was feeling the travel bug hit ... hard.   So when the bid list came out several months ago, I must have perused it for hours.  Okay, several days.  All right ... many weeks.  But I wanted to make sure that I was comfortable with the places we were going to put on our list, for as everyone knows, we curtailed our final year from post in India.

Things have really changed since our last "BIG" bid season in 2007, when Matt was an ARSO in Tel Aviv.  When overseas positions were plentiful and communication was relatively decent.  Now?  There are FAR more agents than available posts.  And there's NO guarantee that JUST because you do an unaccompanied post that you will be rewarded with something decent.  Frankly, it's all about who you know, rather than what you know.  What's worse is the higher you climb within the organization, the fewer the overseas opportunities.  And if you're not able to make a "drug deal" and pimp out your six unborn children, chances are you're not getting anything .... even RSO Antarctica.  It's a broken, broken system.

I haven't told anybody, but I've been on edge for the past three months since we turned in our list.  While Matt has done TWO unaccompanied tours, a hardship tour in India, and worked a high profile job at DS headquarters, he isn't owed anything.  HE ISN'T OWED ANYTHING!!   And. It. Just. Plain. Sucks. 

Like all good DS agents, we played the bidding game well this year.  We turned in our list.  We lobbied.  We kissed tush.  We went through the consultative process for the VERY few positions that we were willing to take.  And all looked great.  GREAT.  GREAT. GREAT!

Until September 14th.  When one of our top positions suddenly left our list.  And our dreams for our next four years slowly faded away.  I can't and won't go into any details.  For they're irrelevant now and some things need to be left unsaid.  Discretion is the better part of valor, right?  Even if ...

But it hasn't been easy.  I've been on virtual pins and needles waiting for "the email."  The one that determines our new fate for the next four years.  Every time the panel in DC met, I was a wreck.   And I'm honest enough to admit that I felt a small sense of entitlement.  Friends overseas would post updates on Facebook and let us know what was assigned.  Three rounds of it went by before we heard anything ourselves. 

That is ... until last night.  When Matt finally got his email.  And we got one of the only 6 places that we put on our list! 

I needed time to process.   To finally talk to Matt about our future.  And after a long few months I am relieved to announce that the Perlman family will be moving NEXT summer.  In 2014.  Back overseas.

We will be going to ...

San Salvador, El Salvador

San Salvador filled ALL of our requirements.  It's a family-friendly post.  It's language designated (where Matt and I will BOTH be taking Spanish next year at FSI).  And it's a 3-year tour ... with R&R's. 

Oh yeah ... and it has a Starbucks too! 

So ... who's coming to visit?


All In The Family

JUST like his older sister, who had her first rock climbing experience at the VERY same age ... Grady hated it.  HATED it.

Sure, he has that sh*t eating grin on his face in these photos.  But after climbing up a few feet, he realized how high he was.  And. That. Was. It.

Hello meltdown!  Aren't you glad mommy caught this on video?

But it's Uncle Randy's "thing" that he does with my kiddos.  After introducing them to the sport back in 2008, he's taken them climbing almost every time we've seen him.  

As for the girlies?  They had a BLAST.   This was the highest wall they've climbed.  And they truly did rock it!  Pun intended.

Riley climbing

Sheridan climbing

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