Friday, October 31, 2014

Denmark makes everything better

Ah, Denmark.  My favorite European vacation so far.  I made the family drive all the way to the North Sea.  Where there were all kinds of cute little cottages with turf roofs.

This does not look like a giant hill, but it is.  Huge sand dunes all up and down the coast where we were.

This is not actually a dreamy scene in Copenhagen, but rather Lego Land.  That was why we went…it was fine.  And not too big….

And these are the dreamy cottages at LaLandia.  It is a water park place across the street from Lego Land and across a different street from Lego headquarters ad factory.  The cottages are great.  All Ikea. And they come with candle holders - and the mini mart sells candles - I guess the Danes need the hygge even when on vacation?  Really nice though.

And since I actually HATE indoor water parks, the cottages helped make up for that and so did these goats.  Baby goats.  In a field between our cottage and Water Land.  There were signs that said "Do Not Pick up the Baby Goats" after a few minutes in there with them - I totally see why.  And since we were in Denmark - we did what the Danes do and let our kids roam alone.  They spent hours alone with those baby goats.

Did I mention I love Denmark?

Saturday, October 25, 2014

breaking my heart

This has been a bad weekend for my middle kid.  Actually a bad two years.  A very bad two years.  We live in a closed neighborhood, which for some kids is great - built in friends and everyone knows everyone.  However, if your a kid who has been treated unkindly by children from a couple families, then those kids will tell all the new kids whatever they want and you never catch a break.

This morning I actually sat and listened to my 11 year old calmly outline some ways he could try and avoid the mean kids - he is always going to look through the peephole on our door and only open it to adults.  He is never going to the gym again, except for his gym lessons. He will only go to the store before the school bus arrives.  He probably can only go to the playground if a couple of particular kids are staying after school.  Sob!  Me, not him.  He is pretty matter of fact about it now.

Sadly these kids won't ever bother to know that my 11 year old is smart, and funny.  He has a lot of free time now so he designs Minecraft mods, although I understand most 6th graders think Minecraft is stupid.  He is a Boy Scout and working hard on his merit badges even though he doesn't always love the work.  He still plays with Legos and likes Star Wars.  He doesn't like team sports. He wants to move back to Canada where all the kids are nice.  And they are.  But he has a kind heart and is always hoping for the best in people….like when that boy rang the door bell yesterday, he really believed that finally they asked him to play.

Friday, October 24, 2014


My dearest knitting friend is coming to visit in a few weeks.  Normal women email back and forth about what sites they are going to see..not us - we go back and forth about what knitting she should bring!  Which brings me to my stash.  The above photos if about 1/4 of the stash.  The crap yarn needed to go.  So off it went in a large bag to our neighborhood free table.  The free table is magical.  You can put anything on it.  Anything.  And it will disappear within minutes.  It's handy.  

My SIL has a goal to design an app by the end of the year.  I wonder if she meant 2014 or the school year?  Whichever, I am super impressed.  But that is her thing.  I would like to design more knits.  That is my thing.  Not sure how original my new scarf pattern is but I like it.  And double bonus - it's made from yarn gifted to me by the very same SIL! 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

the bottom of the basket

I am staying in a bit more this year and I am reaching deep into the craft basket.  I have high (delusional) hopes, that the craft basket will be empty by the time we move in 9 months..

A baby quilt for a friend…put on hold for a long while during the sewing machine fiasco of 2014.  I still love my new Swedish machine though.  Super love!  I made up the quilt, one side is a bunch of 4 inch squares from a charm pack I bought off ebay a million years ago and the back is random 'modern' squares of a different charm pack which were leftovers from another project.  'Modern' here means totally random as I had all different sizes of remnants left.  Making due, isn't that what expat life is all about?

The mess of knitting is a Danish modular wrap - that I started over a year ago and ripped out.  Take 2 seems to be going much more smoothly.

And the ice skates made of dreamy felt.  More Alicia.  Again, cut out last year and sitting at the very bottom of the basket.  This will be their year!

I wonder what else is hidden away waiting to be finished up?  This week I think I will dig it all out and get going.  Let's hope I have enough tea to keep it up!

Monday, October 20, 2014

I like my kitchen

I friend alerted me to a new FS blog today, Adaptation House.  And I know the author is a kindred spirt.  FLOR tiles - yes, done.  Slipcovers - done at some posts.  The above kitchen is mine made better with the stencil design on the back splash…the back splash made of the same formica as the countertops.  It was boring ville.  I found it on of course.  At this shop where the owner made up a custom order for me.  It was not the cheapest thing I have ever done, but I like my kitchen a lot more now, so money well spent.  This was not the easiest crafty project ever, it comes in contact paper like roll sheets.  It is sticky.

Friday, October 17, 2014

how to become an even more obnoxious dinner guest

I love school.  I love learning new things.  Being an EFM at the posts we have been at, has not always made this easy.  True, I did really enjoy Chinese lessons for 2 1/2 years.  I super enjoyed puppy school with our labrador while we were in Ottawa.  But Moscow is hard.  I am pretty sure if I asked permission to anything, and I do mean anything, I know what the answer would be.

So I have gone back to my roots.  The musical ones.  Right now I am taking a MOOC (Massive Open Online Class) through  This particular course is run by two professors at the Curtis Institute, where I almost went to college, I didn't because there may have been something with a high school musician boyfriend…I am hazy on the details.  Anyway, you don't have to have a degree in conducting from a major American conservatory to take a MOOC.  They have Chinese for Beginners, The Bilingual Brain, Unlocking the manuscripts of Medieval Spain, The American South.  All of these sound so interesting!  I wish there was more time in a day!

Now if you want to know anything about Beethoven piano sonatas, the un-normalized elementary child, Ukrainian mail order brides or the basics of Waldorf doll making, invite me to dinner! I am an expert on all of them - I could write for a magazine….or bore the pants off you!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

welcome to the FS - spouse view

My real life friend, Kelly, just wrote this awesomeness about the FS and spouses.  I was brought up in the FS, watching my mother entertain, and resign constantly when there were no tandem assignments to be had.  When I complain, she can take me down more than a few notches with 'When you were a little girl in Ibadan…." life now is easy peasy in comparison to how she had it.  On my Dad's EER even though they were technically a tandem, the whole works.

There seem to be two camps of wives, those who easily get clearances and skip off to their new jobs at the Embassy, leaving children at home to be raised by nannies of varying descriptions.  I have strong thoughts on that, but will keep them to myself.  But I do wonder if I should tell the mother of two very tiny people here that her dream nanny actually appears to be addicted to Candy Crush and leaves her baby wailing in the stroller pretty often?  Well, so often that I have walked by the scene quite a few times and I don't get out all that much during playground hours...
And then there are those that stay home and complain bitterly about work and/or life options.  I wish they should shut up.  I feel like asking if the realized what the FS even was before their other half signed up?  Some cannot get clearances in a timely manner.  I know one wife here who applied for jobs the minute she stepped off the plane and ended up leaving after two years without ever getting her clearance done.  I don't know the details, but I do know she and her husband were bitter.  Very Bitter.

My advice to the latter camp is 1. stop complaining! and 2. get a hobby.  For real.  I feel extremely sad I cannot work in either of the fields I was trained for, but I feel extremely happy I can delve into my many many hobbies.  Before you leave for that first tour, download a mass of books you have been meaning to read on your iPad.  That way you have something to fill the hours while you are home alone and don't know anyone.  If you get invited to any event, go.  Even if it's not your thing.  There is a wife here now who is bitterly sad and lonely.  I have reached out and invited her to all sorts of things - she has so far not accepted my offers.  I might bend my three strikes rule for her…

Book, go to stuff and realize your life is going to be different.  You may not, probably will not, be able to live life exactly as you did before you went overseas.  Embrace it.  Or try really really hard to.