Casa de Perlman ... Take 9

In the fifteen years that Matt and I have been together, we've lived in 9 different houses. It truly is of the many perks of moving around as often as we do. And while that may sound awful to most, I don't mind it ... in fact, I'll actually admit (in a hushed tone of course) that I like it. Sure, in the heat of the packing and labeling and schlepping and inventorying, I may be a bit moody. But when offered another chance to design and decorate a new space, the grumpiness fades away and the excitement begins. Who doesn't love a fresh start?

I've given many guided tours of our homes over the years. From our two homes in Muscat, Oman. To our house in Tel Aviv, Israel. To the two houses we lived in in in Chennai, India. And onto our tiny rental cottage in Newport Beach, CA.

However, it's been quite awhile since we've had the pleasure of furnishing a house with all of our own belongings ... and as you can see from our latest tour, it's totally been worth the wait. While we are still deciding on paint colors and rugs, window coverings and artwork, we're finally ready to unveil our newest abode.

Here's the latest from Casa de Perlman ...

L to R ~ The family room ... kitchen ... opposite view of the family room

L to R ~ the dining room ... the sun room.

L to R ~ Riley's room ... Sheridan's room ... Gray's room.

L to R ~ view of the upstairs landing into the MBR ... the office and view of Gray's room
... one view of our bedroom

L to R ~ the storage room in the basement ... the kids play area ... the guest bedroom

Beautiful sunsets as viewed from my front porch.


My ONLY Rule Of Sledding ...

... is that they stay outside LONGER than the amount of time it takes me to get them layered up.

Which he managed to do. AFTER I locked him out because he attempted to
come back in after just ten minutes. Mama was enjoying the sounds of silence.

My other rule is that they MUST be this much of a trooper ... after taking a serious tumble
down the ice completely on their face.

Seriously, what fun is sledding if you don't have a few war wounds. Right?


After Twelve Years Of Marriage ...

... today, January 22, 2012 ... you just have to let your hair down and have a good laugh.

Which as you can see, Matthew did. Don't you love how his hair is almost longer than mine?

This photo was taken on our first date. Circa December, 1996.


It's the FS RoundUp ... Building Our Community

I don’t like sequels. They’re never as good as the originals. Well ... except for The Godfather. And Aliens. Oh yeah, and let’s not forget Meet the Fockers. Hysterical! Especially when your family growing up IS the Fockers, then watching it is doubly funny.

When you really think about it, all the best Hollywood movies are single presentations. Why screw with perfection in movies like ... Raiders of the Lost Ark. Juraissic Park. The Matrix. Even Dirty Dancing. They just can’t be replicated.

Which is precisely what I’ve been feeling as I attempt to revive the weekly State Department Round-Up. How can something that was so good, written by someone who is so clever and meticulous, be resurrected and held to the same standards? It’s akin to having say Adam Sandler assume the role Matthew Broderick played in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Sure, they’re both actors and comedians, and I’d like to think that it would still be funny. But one does fart jokes and potty talk while the other has a dryer sense of humor. I’m not sure it would have been as big a hit ...

So I’ve made some changes. And since change is the one constant in the life of a Foreign Service family, I figured no better time like the present to roll them out.

The first is that the FS Blog Round Up now has it’s own acronym ... the FS BRU. Or BRU for short. (Not to be confused with “The Bro” ... which ironically offers the same amount of support that you’ll find here). Come on, you KNOW that had to happen in our acronym-heavy world.

Additionally, there is now a website in which to send in your link submissions. The email address is theFSroundup@me.com. All correspondence regarding the FS BRU will now be conducted solely out of that address.

And the biggest change is that the FS BRU will no longer be Weekly, but rather Bi-Weekly. With the possibility of turning it into a monthly publication ... on it’s own website. As bloggers participation began waning over time, changing the RoundUp to twice a month will hopefully keep people energized and excited to read about their comrades around the world.

Oh ... one more thing. For now, as Kolbi did at the beginning of starting the BRU, I’ll be hosting it here. Eventually when we get into a rhythm ... and decide if the blog topics are working (or not) ... I’ll put together a calendar and pass the torch for others to start writing.

So far, so good? Well okay then. Enough housekeeping issues ... it’s time to get on with the show!

Blogging is very voyeuristic ... giving us an opportunity to anonymously peek into what people are saying and doing. Offering up ideas of places we should go. Things we should do. Projects to should start. And meals to prepare. It also introduces us to new people. Virtually and in real life. For here in D.C. there have already been a few blogger “meet-ups” and plans for another in the near future.

As we begin the new year I have decided to spend my time focused on building a community. My community. Of which, blogging and the foreign service are very much intertwined. I’ve written a lot about it over the past few months as I’ve struggled with finding it here in our new neighborhood. Who knew that living back in the States meant that we didn’t watch and treat each other’s kids as our own anymore? That you can’t call kids on the carpet, or goodness forbid raise your voice at someone else’s child for doing something clearly inappropriate. Dude - if my kids ever rolled their eyes at another adult, I’d expect them to grab their little ear and walk them over to my house immediately where they would apologize up and down, left and right for their behavior. But, lesson learned ... I’m not overseas anymore where this type of community parenting is accepted and most often expected.

We all move around every few years, with spouses going on unaccompanied tours, crappy internet capabilities, and families having babies and /or going on emergency medevac. We deal with medical issues, shopping nuances, pouch problems, office politics, and yearly summer bidding cycles ... which frankly can take a toll on even the healthiest of minds and strongest of marriages.

Who better to understand what you’re, what WE'RE going through?

... than Kolbi, who forever and a day thought she entirely ruined her husband’s career by blogging. Turns out she not only HELPED him get tenured, but she also re-discovered her passion for studying, (remember how much she LOVED her Chinese classes?) and decided to go back to school!

... or Heather, my dear girlfriend who lives in Zimbabwe, and who has more internet problems than she ever had at her previous post in Kenya. Who just lost over 1000 photos when she tried to sync her iPhone to her desktop.

... or Emily, who just finished packing out from her post in Tijuana. She arrived when her sons were just “babies” ... and now look at them. She also has a great analogy of herself to a houseplant.

... or Sadie in Saudi Arabia, who went on a recent trip to Jordan and had the wonderful opportunity to meet up with another FS blogger friend.

... Jen, my friend here in DC has had a heck of a month so far as she underwent another surgery from her “blip” fifteen months ago. I’m lucky I get to meet up with her here and there when our schedules coincide!

... Kate in Brasilia has it worse than any of us as her kids are STILL off on their summer break. Reading her posts and facebook updates about her four kids home from school this past month has had me in stitches.

... of course Kate shouldn’t read about Denise in Dhaka ... because she just got a much needed break from the daily grind as she left her two girls and husband at home while she went on a girls weekend away.

... It’s too bad that Eve and I can’t get together for a power walk or baby group. I relate far too well with how she’s been feeling during the holiday season. Thankfully there’s things like this that help make things right again ... at least for a little while.

... There’s never a dull moment in Shannon’s life in Malawi. From her son’s recent fall from a tree in her front yard, thus breaking his arm while her husband was out of town. And as a side note ... why does this stuff ALWAYS happen when they’re gone? To having to see yet another fun “creature” that her son brought home.

... Pets are a big part of many FS families lives. And it’s never easy when the vet’s office doesn’t have the proper equipment to adequately diagnose what’s wrong. Thankfully, the local hospital DOES and Erica in Uganda’s doggie could get the treatment needed!

... and Donna has hit that halfway point at their post in Jordan and is now doing what everyone else in the FS does when they get bored. She’s surfs the internet for p0rn ... Go find out why.

... Sunny in Brussels came home from a fabulous holiday weekend only to be met by none other than mouse poop. Just like me, she is ill equip to deal with it, so if anyone wants to help catch Minnie (and probably Mickey too - remember they always travel in pairs), she’d greatly appreciate it!

... Anne in Conakry is gearing up for a little R&R to the States in a few weeks. Until then she’s dealing with a few explosions. Of the real kind ...

FS Bloggers also do some really cool things ...

... like Becky who is in language training here and off to their next post in Taiwan in a few months just finished up her 365 project. Whereby she snapped one photo and posted it every single day on her blog. I hope you get it printed and put it on your coffee table!

... My friend Michele here in D.C. knows the value of taking a break from her kids every once in awhile. A Capitals game. Some chocolate. And a night away? We should ALL be doing this a little more often.

... Heather in Cairo didn’t want me to link to her this week because she’s taking a little break. But they’re making great memories as they travel all over Egypt ... AND they just celebrated their 13th anniversary.

... Kelly has her top five reasons why she should next be posted to Italy. She also has great photos and places for you to bookmark for your future travels.

... and speaking of Italy ... Zoe in Milan has done some phenomenal travel and manages to snap photos along the way. Make sure to link to her blog as you'll want to use it the next time you travel through.

... Connie in Jordan, who recently hung out with Sadie from Saudi, has some of the coolest crafty creations. She’s made everything from quilts and duvets to slip covers. Check out her latest duvet ... and don’t forget to admire the kitties too!

... Carla in Manila is a runner ... a serious runner! And who better to start an online FS running group? Hmmm...

... Daniela’s son is finally walking. Look how she cheers him on!

... Sara in Costa Rica reflects back on a wonderful 2011.

... Melissa in Jerusalem just got back from an R&R to the States, where they ate their way through all my favorite haunts and really gave Target a run for their money.

... Lauren and her daughter in Norway are baking up a storm.

... Nomads by Nature in Swaziland has a great photo of the back of a school bus. How would you feel if this was directed towards your kid?

... Naoma in Kenya just had a virtual baby shower for her little munchkin-to-be. As she begins to take out her suitcases for her impending medevac to the States, go wish her Safe Travels for her and her young boys!

... Alix is preparing for their departure this summer to Moscow with her family. After a crazy 2011, they welcomed 2012 with a bang! Not only did her husband find a few missing items, but he also agreed to take over the cooking duties. Oh, he’s a keeper!

... and there are even foreign service KIDS who write blogs. Like Hannah in Jordan who tells a hilarious story about walking to school in Florida ... in the rain. And well, you just have to laugh with her.

These bloggers are just a small portion of what make our community what it is. What it should be. And I feel quite blessed that I actually know a majority of these ladies ... through overseas posts, blogging, and through Matt’s office. It’s been encouraging to have them on my side.

So instead of just reading who you know here ... may I make a suggestion to branch out, read someone’s blog you’ve never heard about, and find someone else with whom you can connect. It’s a new year. A new RoundUp. A new opportunity to build your community and fill your soul. Who knows ... you may just meet your new best friend.

Next FS BRU will be out on Friday, February 3rd. With an optional talking point that’s VERY near and dear to my heart.

We’re talking about Vomit.

Have a kid, spouse, or animal who pukes a lot? Have a funny story about said puke? Let’s see whose is more disgusting.

Until then ...


I Often Worry ...

... that emails, written communication without a voice or inflection behind them to interpret the meaning, can often become misconstrued. Taken completely out of context.

Unless you're 7 & 8. And then what you write is really what you mean ...

Next time maybe they'll remember that all their messages come to my computer too.

On Jan 11, 2012, at 6:16 PM, Riley Perlman wrote:

I am going to lick you.

Your awesome sister. Ya

sent from my iPod

On Jan 11, 2012, at 6:34 PM, Sheridan Perlman wrote:

You are not going to lick me because mom said you can't.

Your sister.

Sent from my iPod

On Jan 11, 2012, at 6:39 PM, Riley Perlman wrote:

Mom didn't say that poop.

Sent from my iPod

On Jan 12, 2012, at 7:03 AM, Sheridan Perlman wrote:

Riley please don't be mean to me I do not like it so by now I do not like you.

Your sister Sheridan.

Sent from my iPod

On Jan 12, 2012, at 7:06 AM, Riley Perlman wrote:

I did not understand what you just said. Your a poop.

Your fantastic awesome sister Riley

Sent from my iPod

On Jan 12, 2012, at 7:09 AM, Sheridan Perlman wrote:

You are just not nice at all.
I do not like you. You are a poop.
Your sister.

Sent from my iPod

On January 12, 2012, at 7:10 AM, Jill Perlman wrote:

You're BOTH being poops. Now get off your iPods and get ready for school.

xx mom

Sent from my iMac, where all of your emails are copied so I can read what you're saying!


Bringing Back The Round-Up ...

Last week on Facebook I posted a question to the Foreign Service Bloggers about their thoughts on bringing back the State Department Round-Up. While I didn't hear from many, those who did respond gave me an overwhelming, "YES!".

For those who are unaware, the State Department Round-Up is the brainchild of my dear friend Kolbi, who wanted to bring the Foreign Service Blogging Community together. Though a simple concept, whereby every Monday bloggers from around the world would send in links of their latest happenings, and on Friday a blog post would appear highlighting what they've been up to, it was one that was heavily anticipated. She spent endless hours cultivating relationships, highlighting bloggers, and fostering the positive communication we all have today. However, after spending a year on this endeavor, coupled with her recent move and other personal ventures, the Round-Up has had to take a back seat.

Which is where I come in.

After mulling it over for the past few weeks, talking it over with Kolbi, and receiving a positive response from those who will be contributing, I have decided to tackle the challenge of resurrecting what was one of the highlights of our community. And considering how much I've been missing my village lately, this seemed a perfect fit for me.

While I haven't worked out all of the details and idiosyncrasies, whether we will be just posting links from the week or offering any suggestions of post topics, I have decided that next Friday, January 20th, will be our first edition.

So pass along the information. Have your friends and fellow Foreign Service Bloggers email me links at mjperlman@me.com by this weekend. And let's enjoy the new Round-Up in the new year.


Smooth As A Baby's Hiney ...

... that's what my face WOULD have been after injecting it with the $1275 "worth" of Botox that Grady inadvertently purchased this evening on Groupon while fooling around on my iPhone.

Hooray for Apple and their intuitive operating system as apparently even a 2.5 year old can spend money online.

In order to have a conversation with my girlfriend this evening, I handed Grady my iPhone to best his high score on his favorite game, Angry Birds. He was sitting with his back to me for several minutes when all of a sudden I heard the familiar ping, alerting me that I received an email. As I had been awaiting correspondence from a friend I grabbed the phone away from him, and to my horror saw this email ...

"Hi Jill. Your Groupon for 3 Areas of Botox (up to 60 units) (a $1275 value) is ready to print. Your credit card ending in **** was charged $349."

Holy sh*t.

It was a scary five minutes as I tried to rectify the potentially costly situation. However, after squinting to read the microscopic print on the Groupon website discussing refunds, I managed to cancel Grady's early Mother's Day purchase.

The real irony is that in retrospect, Grady got himself a good deal...


All The Kids Are Doing It ...

... is what I heard from my now-7 and almost-9 year old daughters earlier last month.

It's Moshi Monsters. Where you can adopt your own pet monster. What? You've never heard of it? What are you ... stuck back in 2011?

They BEGGED me to let them hop onto my antiquated, barely-able-to-work-anymore Dell laptop, and sign up.

And I let them. Because I'm totally cool with them crapping it up, knowing full well that when if they do, that I'm getting an iPad. Not that I needed an excuse ...

Anyway, over the past month the girls have been playing Moshi Monsters. They came up with their own names. Own passwords. They found all their neighborhood and school friends online. And, as the website clearly states on their home page, they even found and began chatting with "new friends", with my one request that they don't befriend anyone with the word "sexy" in their name.

Can you see where I'm going with this??

I never gave any thought to the potential dangers of these online games until Riley woke me up at 6 am Monday morning (still a holiday, remember?) and told me that she couldn't sleep because she's been very bothered and had something to tell me. She said that when she was at a neighbor's house on Saturday playing Moshi Monsters, she received correspondence from one of her online friends who asked her more personal information about herself. The neighbor saw this and told her to lie ... suggesting Riley tell this person saying that she is really only 7 years old and has a older brother. Which she did.

However, Riley, who carries the burden of the world on her young little shoulders, felt uber guilty about lying and told me she hasn't slept well in two days because of it. She wanted to know if she could get back onto the computer and tell this "online friend" that she lied to her and clear the air.

WOW. Not quite what I was expecting ...

Obviously my girls have absolutely NO awareness of how much information that they can / can't provide to people they don't now. Nor is it a topic that they've covered at school.

So I now ask ... How did you explain to your kids that fibbing and evading questions from people online is acceptable when you've punished them for doing it to you? How did you explain that sometimes people aren't who they really say they are, and sometimes there are horrible people in the world?

Moreover, how would YOU explain cyber security to a second and third grader?


Out With The Old, In With The New ...

I spent most of the day cleaning. You know ... ridding the house of last year's juju, and getting it spic and span for this year's chaos. Don't you do that? I figured that it's a brand new year and since I was stuck in the crapper yesterday, I couldn't quite do all that I wanted to rid our house of any negative energy and embrace the new year with vim and vigor.

So early this morning I began scrubbing the bathrooms. Then I vacuumed, swiffered, and washed the floors. I made a huge shopping trip to Trader Joe's. I even did five loads of laundry ... though I secretly did that today so that Matt would do all the folding. He's better at it than I am (and honestly cares FAR more than I do if the clothes are folded as neatly as a Gap store's inventory). Oh yeah, I also changed everybody's toothbrush. With the amount of money I'm paying for orthodonture, I figure that everyone should take pride in their pearly whites. Right?

With 2012 already underfoot, I hesitate to move forward without acknowledging my lack of published New Year's goals. Everybody has them right? While I've never addressed mine aloud, I honestly ask if people truly hold others accountable? Aside from my brave husband, I wonder who would call me out for not getting my tush to the gym four days a week or who's going to stay on me to update my blog in a timely manner?

Since I assume you all care about my resolutions this year, I'm going to write them here for the world to see. In no particular order, they are ...

* To complain less. Unless it's about my kids. My husband. My house. Or my car. Then all bets are off and I'm letting the expletives fly.

* To drink more ____. You can fill in the blank of whatever beverage you feel I should be consuming. Though if you don't say, "wine" or "Starbucks caramel macchiattos" then you really don't know me, and you shouldn't be left to fill in the blank.

* To stay in touch with family and friends. Unless it means that I have to initiate the call ... or email ... or dare I admit, stop screening my calls, to which I'll remind you of how good I was with that in 2011.

* To answer emails in a timely manner. Ha! Remember that I have regular internet now, not that cruddy third world internet that I had back in India ... It's taken me an entire year to perfect the art of evasion whereby I blame everything on having three kids, a husband who works insane hours, and little free time to do anything else.

* To update my blog more frequently. See above retort.

* To be more assertive. Oh goodness forbid! I threw this in just to see if you were still reading ...

* To go to the gym 2-3 times per week. Since I have a free membership how much Jewish guilt should I have if I don't regularly make it? More importantly, is Jewish guilt retroactive?

* To not take myself too seriously. Starting with ...


2012 Got Off To An Auspicious Start ...

... when I was accidentally locked in a bathroom stall at California Pizza Kitchen in the Tyson's Corner Mall.

The drama unfolded just as we were concluding our lunch and paying the bill, when Grady had a blowout diaper and began screaming that he needed to be changed. Off to the ladies room we went.

As the bathroom was rather small there wasn't any room for the changing table except in the handicapped stall, which I didn't lock, since I knew we were going to be quick. However, as soon as I gave Grady a clean tush, I figured that I might as well use the bathroom too.

So I put him on the floor next to the toilet and reached over to lock the door.

In the minute or less that I was 'seated' and unable to keep my hands on him, Grady managed to gross me out beyond belief. He touched the walls. He crouched onto the floor to look under the stall next to me. He put his thumb in his mouth. I rushed to finish so I could throw out the stinky diaper and scour both of our hands in hot water. But when I was ready to go, the lock was stuck.

I jingled the lock. I pushed on the door. I jingled the lock again. I knocked loudly. I jingled the lock in every direction. I pushed a little harder on the door. Again. And again. And again.

Nothing happened. For five minutes. Then ten.

In the meantime, I was holding a dirty diaper in one hand and using my other as a vice grip on Grady as he had now touched ... the toilet. The floor. The toilet again. The changing table. The sanitary napkin box. He tried to climb under the door at least three times. And followed it all up by putting his thumb back in his mouth.

I. Was. Sick.

A young girl who walked in to use the bathroom, realized I needed help, and rushed out to tell anyone who worked at the restaurant that there was someone locked in the bathroom stall.

Nobody came.

About five minutes later Riley rushed into the bathroom looking for me. I angrily told her what happened and instructed her to tell Matt. It was only then that an employee finally offered to help.

Fortunately, the employee was able to pry the lock open after a few minutes of heavy fiddling. UNfortunately, she told me that the lock on the stall was changed earlier that morning and that I was the SECOND person locked in there today.

NOW I was irritated. The restaurant already had this happen one time today and they didn't fix it? Nor did they put a sign on the door stating to lock it at your own risk?

Instead, I was forced to spend fifteen minutes stuck in the small stall with a wild toddler.
Fifteen minutes where I could have been back in the mall shopping. Or waiting in the long line at Starbucks.

The manager met me at our table, in the center of the restaurant, where I loudly told him what happened. He offered no response or explanation. So I didn't waste any more of my time or mince any words. I just demanded that as a result, he was going to comp our meal.

Dumbfounded, he continued to stand there and stare blankly at me, while our server, who was mortified over my situation, quickly ran to the cash register and refunded us our money.

And. We. Left. With the same $47. And Purell. And with a whole lot of giggles. Because seriously, this stuff only seems to happen to us. Our new year may have started off crappy, but it's bound to move on up from here!

So to those who say, "There's no such thing as a free lunch." Well ... they haven't been locked in a stall with a 2.5 year old.

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