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 ...


Becky said...

Awesome job Jill!

Emily said...

Jill- I love it! YOU ARE INCREDIBLE! (The caps lock was on -hoping you heard me shout it from the rooftop.)

Shannon said...

Love it! I am SOOOOO glad you broth the BRU back.

Sunny said...

Great job Jill. It's like a reunion.

Nomads By Nature said...

Well done, Jill! This is so much fun to have back! Love the name BRU - which is the local slang here for Bro/dude.

A Daring Adventure said...



And then I love you some more.

And this is where I called you a WINNER:


And then back here is where I tell you, again, how much I LOVE YOU and then I tell you that I can't even describe how happy I am that you did this for all of us (and me! And yourself!)!

Go community!!!


Michele said...

Aw, thanks for including me! I tell you, writing from DC is duller than dirt most days.

Christy said...

So awesome Jill. I'm not even in the FS community and I can't wait to sit down with my laptop and click on every single one of these links and make some new friends around the world! YOU ROCK!!!!!!


Connie said...

Thank you Jill! Wonderful job!! And thanks to the bloggers too! I've been enjoying the links :)

LeesOnTheGo said...

BRAVO!!!!! Well done & witty! Thank you for reviving the FS BRU! I see some new-to-me FS blogs on your list that I'm looking forward to reading!

Thumbs up from Kenya!


Denise said...

So amazingly done! And so happy to see the BRU back in full force. I have a lot of catching up to do. Awesome job and thanks for rekindling!

Anonymous said...

Great job!

Sadie said...

AWESOME! Simply awesome! And the new structure *should* make it much easier to do. I like the bi-weekly idea too. Already making new connections, so thanks!!

Jen said...

Thank you and a huge THANK YOU for another amazing dinner last night! You rock!

Anonymous said...

So glad for the return, or renaissance of the FS BRU! Awesome job, and looking forward to catching up on everyone's lives. I've got to have a puke story somewhere...

Daniela Swider said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you for bringing the BRU back. It was dearly missed. I love your writing and sense of humor. They made looking at what old friends have been up to utterly enjoyable. Discovering new (to me) blogs was pretty awesome too. Look forward to contributing to future installments!!!

Bfiles said...

wonderful job! thank you for bringing it back!

Chelsea said...

Yay!!! I'm really excited for this to start up again! I'll be back in the loop in a little while. I had a good excuse....

AMS said...

Thank you so much for bringing this back. Has been much missed!

Just US said...

Loved it!! Thank you for bringing this back and helping us reconnect with each other!

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