Friday, April 29, 2011

Still here....barely

Yes, I am still around, and yes, I will still be writing. Hopefully, I will be back in full swing this coming week. The past week and half have been a four-ring circus even by my own personal circus standards. This is how it all went down in brief:
--impromptu dinner party with horrible semi-home-made pizza on last Fri night with a highschool friend of the Diplomat, along with his lovely wife and three toddlers. Both school buddies reminisced on their mutual skinniness and inappropriate moustache
--fabulous brunch on Saturday with the consular officer who granted the Diplomat his first student visa 15 years ago in Chennai
--intense Easter brunch with FS friends and a big ol' chunk of lamb
--mad planning of a post-Flag Day bash
--several rounds of intensive FSI training which drove us all to an all-consuming happy hour on Tuesday where many unreasonable beverages were consumed by all
--more mad planning of a post-Flag Day bash, some of after 12 am
--few receptions by current and former diplomats on Wednesday, followed by even madder planning of a post-Flag Day bash and clearing up space in my fridge for a huge cake meant to celebrate the birthdays of those in my class whose birthdays fell during A-100 training
--Thursday: driving of said cake plus two more plus a screaming Son requesting some of that cake plus a fellow FSO to FSI, where all cakes are met with unbridled enthusiasm by a hungry and bored A-100 class; cutting of cakes and trying to reign in myself not to eat 36 slices. NO HAPPY HOUR! Run to Target at 9 pm to buy tent for impending camp trip. Rejoice at finding a toddler inflatable mattress fitted with Cars sleeping bag.
--Friday--FLAG DAY. Oh boy...turns out, I am going to...Dhaka! Yeah, very funny. The day ends with a bash, which goes off without a hitch, thanks to me and my fabulous co-chair of the Party Committee, MK. We are awesome, yada yada.

We are off camping tomorrow early morning. Next week should be much calmer and I will regale all of you with stories of Son in the wild along with the Diplomat who still hobbles around in an air boot and sad facial expression. Unless I decide to run off in the wild with Fat Cat. Which is doubtful since he is at least 16 lbs heavy and it will be more like a really slow walk off in the wild, during which time I will be apprehended by Son (asking for milk, mango, water, a new car, strawberries, go potty or look at his imaginary boo-boo, all in that order) and the Diplomat (who will only look at me mournfully and ask for the remote control).

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Wine tasting and baby parties

Tough to believe but I find myself in week 4 of my A-100 training. Last week we were treated to a couple of days of somewhat different training, which was meant to teach us teambuilding and leadership. The teaching was certainly solidified by few nights of cheap beer, horrible wine and some karaoke of disturbing quality. As if we did not have enough, on Sunday I lead a team of 20 fearless comrades to a day of wine-tasting in Northern Virginia. We started at the Barrel Oak Winery where someone had the brilliant idea to taste all the wines offered there, which sounded like a solid idea until I realized that meant 11 wines. So, we tasted and tasted and tasted until they all started tasting great. Roughly an hour later, a group of wobbly but rather excited FSOs got back on the bus to Pearmund Cellars. 20 mins of careening past green hills and some rather unimpressed cows and we got to the cute little winery. Common sense suggested that we stop for lunch there but not before we were treated to a solid tasting of no one remembers how many wines in their barrel room. We finally sat down to lunch and several bottles of wine later realized that we don't have enough time or courage to go to another one. So we went home. To finish the day, the Diplomat and I, along with Son, drove to Fairfax (boy, that is far!) for a small Good-bye get together for our friends, where Son and the rest of the kids at the party delightedly played in the rather fabulous mud hole in the backyard. Nothing attracts a well-dressed toddler like a nice, solid mud hole.

On Saturday, I decided to devote myself to my poor Son and spent the day driving him from one playdate to another. It did start a tad inauspicious. We were going to a birthday party to one of his girlfriends and like the good planner I am, I had planned to stop at a cute little store called Giggle to get a gift before the party, which was starting at 10am. True to form, Son effortlessly threw a magnificent tantrum, immediately peed in his pants (which was unfortunate because I has naturally dressed him in his best cute outfit) and yelled to no one in particular that he doesn't want to go anywhere. 25 mins later, subdued and in his second best outfit, I dragged the sullen child to the car, promising (although it did sound more like threatening him) him that he will have a great time. Driving out of the garage, I realized that it was pouring buckets. Since we were already running about 30 mins late, my GPS decided to take us for a scenic ride through Georgetown and chirpily added what appeared like another 20 mins to the ride. Just for fun, I could not find parking in front of Giggle and had to park 3 blocks away and then run with the disgruntled child through the soaked streets to the store. Once inside, I found what I wanted right away which did not please one bit the rather peaceful and somewhat phlegmatic sales clerk, who wanted to show me all the wonders of his store one by one. I made the tactical mistake of asking whether he knew the Play Museum (the birthday location), and his face lit with quiet, inside light and he spent 10 mins on his computer finding it on Google Earth for me. It was 5 mins away. Realizing that by now we were roughly an hour late, I did consider going outside and rolling in the puddles while screaming in frustration. Instead, I took the soaked Son and ran back to the car. We arrived at the Museum leaving streams of water behind us. His outfit was further ruined by the fact that I decided to take off his dainty shoes and socks to prevent him from catching a vicious cold. Turned out that we had arrived in time for cupcake decoration, which delighted me immensely. The children were given all kinds of fun accoutrements to put on top of the cupcakes and Son spent 10 happy minutes putting blue sprinkles on his cake one by one. He then ate his creation by lowering his head towards it while keeping his hands clean behind his back. It was awkward, and his face was barely seen from the frosting, but boy, his hands were pristine! All in all, he had a fabulous time and I highly recommend the Play Museum in Bethesda. It is truly heaven for kids.

Afterwards, we went back home and he took a hefty nap of 3 hours. Upon awaking, we immediately left to visit his great pal E and his parents M&M, where we stayed till it was way past bedtime. Both mama and Son had a fabulous time.

At home, the Diplomat spent the entire day staring glumly at his newly acquired walking air cast. Turns out, he has 2 shin splints and no, I don't know what that means--go Google it. All I know is there won't be much tennis in this house any time soon. Aw, shucks!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Oh, they say the darnest things!

Week 3 of A-100 training is in full swing, and I'd like to take this opportunity to share some wisdom I have acquired recently. Details of our training must remain shrouded in tantalizing secrecy, but I will regale you with tidbits of hysterical humor that I was treated to:
1. Some cultures/people are Peaches and some are Coconuts. It has to do with the shell and the insides. What do you think YOU are?
2. If it smells bad, if it looks bad, if it sounds bad...don't sit on it (what??)
3. Pregnancy is the most contagious condition in the world (wait, is it in the air?!)
More to come as training progresses.

This past Sunday we celebrated the Diplomat's birthday. Because of the Saturday night fiasco, I had geared up to provide him with a fabulous day, to start with taking care of Son in the morning while he slept. Which was going rather well, until Son demanded to see Daddy and started rolling screaming on the floor at 6.45 am. Delivering menacing threats to the stubborn child while whispering was not proving exactly successful and I was about to drag him out of the apartment at 7 am, when he poignantly peed in his pants just to prove some obscure toddler point. With a blood-curdling look in my eyes, I changed him in a flash and drove off to Harris Teeter, our fabulous neighboring grocery store which is open 24/7, God bless them. To my utter shock, I was hardly the only one we started slowly rolling the cart down the isles, I began noticing quite a few customers who apparently thought that 7.30 am on a Sunday morning was a fabulous time to shop. Guess why--we all had a kid in the shopping cart. We would acknowledge each other with a gloomy look, and ask simply, "What time did he/she wake up?" Then we would nod knowingly to each other, sigh heavily and wander off grumpily in the vast expanse of the store buying entirely unnecessary items (like multiple bottles of wine) while the kids would happily wave around the complimentary balloon the store provides and ecstatically hit you on the head with it from time to time. Damn balloon!
The rest of the day was great even though I was severely underslept. I did try to squeeze a nap during the afternoon, while the Diplomat and Son were asleep. Sadly, Fat Cat was of another opinion and spent a good 40 minutes trying to find the best spot on top of my stomach and chest for his own afternoon nap. I guess I was overrun by a house full of sleepy men. 

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Bend it like Beckham

Another week packed with action is behind us. For the 160th A-100 class, it was anything but boring.

1. On Monday, we had a happy hour in Arlington, hosted by our sponsoring class, the gracious 158th class. Much fun and cheap cocktails were had. The Diplomat and Son join us festively, annihilating many a chicken tenders and shooting fake hoops in the game room.

2. On Tuesday, we had a happy hour downtown DC.

3. On Wednesday, everyone took a drinking night off

4. On Thursday, a group of 25 went out to dine in Dupont Circle, certainly taking advantage of the ongoing happy hour.

5. On Friday, just when I thought everyone had had enough (and no more money), turned out that it was a colleague's birthday, so the festivities kept on going on a more domestic basis. Since we had just come back from a dinner with the Hawaiians and another couple of friends, after which the women and the kids came to our place to respectively have a drink and pull out every imaginable toy and throw it around, I decided to pass on the birthday party.

6. On Saturday morning, those of us with kids got together to watch our toddlers prance through a playground while we discussed bid list strategizing in the freezing cold. That same night, I joined my highly esteemed colleagues at the DC United-LA Galaxy (think David Beckham) soccer game after which I was supposed to meet the Diplomat at the Bombay Club to celebrate his birthday. Because of that, to the utter delight of the raggedy teenagers there, I showed up at the game wearing an elaborate and expensive shalwar kameez, 5 inch fabulous silver Michael Kors platforms, 3 lbs heavy silver bangles, plenty of makeup and carefully coiffed hair. Beckham looked hot from whichever angle you looked at him. I left the game after half an hour to meet the Diplomat at which point he called me to tell me that the babysitter hadn't showed up--apparently I had not confirmed with her. Suffice it to say that night did not end on a high note.

All of this with the threat of a shutdown hanging ominously over our governmentally-employed heads.
So yes, A-100 is a VERY intense experience. We also get a lot of training.
Living in DC has been very gratifying otherwise. Just yesterday I saw a car in the garage with a huge bumper sticker that read, "Starve a terrorist, ride a bike." Pondering its intended humor, I noticed with astonishment that the bumper belonged to a huge Honda SUV. Um, ok.

I am currently obsessed with a new reality show--Sister Wives on TLC. All I have to say about it--the wives seem to be having a jolly good time but the husband looks like one very exhausted, stretched out man who apparently chooses not to golf to have time for his 16 kids. Good man. Another thing that I noticed about the show is that every new wife is progressively slimmer than the previous one. Hm. I remain fascinated.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Week One On The Job

My first working week as a FSO has come and gone. I admit without shame that I absolutely love my colleagues--the sheer amount of intelligence, experience, language knowledge and multiple academic degrees all in one room is frankly intimidating. I honestly can say that I feel privileged and honored to work with them all. Plus, they elected me to be one of their social chairs. So, I like them even more now. Cannot wait to see what week 2 brings. One thing is for sure--there seems to be no evidence that the rate of happy hours will go down any time soon.

On the home front, my apartment has slowly begun to look and smell like scenes from the English Patient. A few weeks ago, the avid/obsessed tennis-player Diplomat slammed his racket in his left shin during a rather unimportant game. Apparently, the pain from the hit started to slowly increase over the past weeks. Two visits to the orthopaedist later, he is now taking large white pills every day and bought every single hot pack/shin brace contraption available on the market. Every hour or so one can find him sitting forlornly on the living-room couch or the bed, lovingly rubbing on his leg a smelly potion consisting of  Icy/Hot gel, BenGay, tiger balm and healing concoctions prepared by the Pueblo tribe in New Mexico. Then he begins limping all over the apartment, with a hot /cold therapy brace on the leg, performing some odd-looking shin exercises, the smell of camphor and menthol wafting gently yet potently through the corners of the apartment. Add to that a Son in love with boo-boos, asking for a band-aid for his many imaginary ailments about once every 15 mins, and you'll get the idea.

By the looks of it, I am not going to Miami next weekend. I am rather crushed--we simply could not find a fourth person to join us, which made getting a hotel room a rather pricey affair. I can only hope that my pals visit me in DC and we try to party it up locally.