Shaken ... Not Stirred.

There was a whole lot of shaking going on tonight in Central America.  Just before 10 pm, a 7.4 magnitude earthquake hit off the coast of El Salvador, providing a free roller coaster ride for a whopping 20+ seconds.  Too bad the kids slept through it!  Luckily, we are safe and sound ... though maybe a wee bit anxious. 

Now, I am no stranger to these large rumblers.  Despite growing up in Northern California and experiencing both the 1989 San Francisco Loma Prieta earthquake and losing my apartment to the 1993 Northridge earthquake, there's one thing I can say with absolute certainty. 

They never get easier. 

If we're lucky, the only things shaken for the next 2.5 years will be our martinis. 


A Day Of Good For"tuna"

Today we participated in ILEA's (International Law Enforcement Academy) 2nd Annual Fun Run & Obstacle Course.  The girls and Matt ran the 3k with the Marine Detachment, while I ran with the slow zebra Grady and a few Embassy ladies.

The course was comprised of a traditional road race coupled with ten military-type obstacles, to include: monkey bars, balance beams, scaling 6 foot walls and a rope swing over a 10 foot mud pit (Grady's favorite, of course).

The day started off with group calisthenics, an agility challenge sponsored by the Embassy's Green Team and a lot of whining.  Thankfully, by 8:30 am we were off!

Riley joined the Marine's in the front, while Sheridan impressed everyone with her skills on the monkey bars.   Of the 400 or so racers, both girls placed first in their age divisions, with Riley actually the first female to cross the finish line.  

As is Grady's style, he complained during the entire 3k.  However, he managed to complete the race,  sprinting to the finish line through a gauntlet of cheering supporters as he was one of the youngest competitors. 

Each finisher was awarded a "medal", made of ecologically friendly recycled cardboard (much to Grady's chagrin as he was hoping for a medal made of metal).  And in addition to their trophies, the girls also received a small package containing a water bottle and three cans of tuna.  Because nothing quite celebrates the thrill of victory like diving into a tin of fish.

"Sorry, Charlie."


You Know He's A 3rd Child

With Yom Kippur upon us, I really need to atone for being such a fair-weather blogger. 

And forgetting to share this picture.  Do you spot what's missing? 

Oh, and I should definitely atone for being such an awful Tooth Fairy. 

After two nights in a row of FORGETTING to visit, Sheridan yelled down the stairs on her way to bed, "Remember that the Tooth Fairy needs to come ... and she leaves $2"

Mom of a 3rd child FAIL. 

Here's to ... A New Year.  A healthy 5775.  An easy fast. 

... and to a better mom blogger! 


Thanks For The Honesty ...

... no, seriously.  Thank you!  After the last four years in both the California and Virginia State public school systems, it's refreshing to be back overseas, where honesty is the best (and only) policy.

Take Grady's latest progress report.  I seriously love how the teacher has identified a major weakness and isn't afraid to document it. 

I actually underlined and *starred* the area and wrote an appreciative note to the teacher, thanking her for acknowledging this little nugget.  With just 16 kids in the class (and a FULL day of kindergarten), she really knows my kid!

By the way ... did I mention that grades are updated online every two weeks and progress reports sent home every four? 


Lost In Translation

Forgive me hair gawds, for I have sinned.  It's been over 12 weeks since my last hair appointment, and despite not knowing the appropriate Spanglish grammar, I was in dire need of an edgy new 'do.  

However, while there may be "safety in numbers", somebody always has to serve as the sacrificial lamb.  Today ... that was me. 

I dragged two of my girlfriends here to a local salon I had heard about from a mother at the kids' school.  "All the cool moms go there," she told me.  So, of course, I had to schedule an appointment.

My girlfriends were a tad nervous as they both needed highlights / low lights.  They had never had their hair done in an overseas salon.  Me?  I was old hat at this ... having my 'do done in Oman, Israel and even India.  I swore that whatever happened, it would be okay.  It's just hair.  How hard would it be to hide the gray, color my hair the same shade of brown and add a few highlights to spice it up a bit? 

Or should I rephrase the question and ask, "How many TIMES would it take to hide the gray, color my hair the same shade of brown and add a few highlights to spice it up a bit?

Dos veces exactamente.  (the translation ... exactly two times).

I'll admit it.  I'm vain.  I love going to the salon that offers me the cappuccino, iced tea, or glass of wine.  I love relaxing in my chair, exchanging the latest "chambre" with my girlfriends while the lady with the gloves works her magic on my grays.  I love knowing that at the end of my 3 hours in the chair, I'm going to look in the mirror, and like Herbal Essences commercial, shake my head and walk out of the salon looking the age my son thinks I really am.  26, of course.

Instead, I left with the top of my head looking like a price bar code.  Where are those Target self- scanners when you really need them?  It would have read, "you obviously got this dye-job on clearance." 

Over the next few hours I took a bevy of photos for my girlfriends in Virginia and waited for the girls to come home from school to give me their opinions, all while pondering my next move.  Do I take the easy going route and follow my own advice that, "it's just hair."  Or do I make the ridiculously uncomfortable phone call IN SPANISH and make ANOTHER appointment to come back in and fix my tiger striped hair? 

What do YOU think I did?  Does a tiger sh*t in the jungle ... or anywhere else it darn well pleases?

By 5:30 pm I returned to the colorists chair for Round Two.  And by 6:30 pm I was on my way home with nary a stripe in sight.

Crisis averted tonight.

Though tomorrow is my first haircut.  Wish me luck.

 In theory ... Safety in Numbers!

 I spent a LONG time in this chair ... only to see this at the end.

 How I felt after returning to get my hairs 're-did' ...

LEFT:  Yes, after the colorist dried my hair, she wanted to STYLE it.  Again!
RIGHT: The end result. 


Casa de Perlman ... Take 10

There is something oddly comforting about moving back overseas and being welcomed into your new home by the same ugly as sin Drexel furniture you had in your previous homes in Oman, Israel and India

Who am I kidding?  No it's not.  Especially when you're ambushed with the overwhelming amount of wall to wall furniture in every single room of your home in Crayola's new color shade, diarrhea brown. 

Thankfully we received a bevy of pictures of our new home five months prior to our packout from Virginia, which left us with ample time to think about our designs and stock up on enough color to brighten up even the ugliest of rooms.  

We are appreciative that we hit the jackpot this tour and have a beautiful home to decorate, a far cry from our first home in India.  The landlord originally built the house for himself, so the appointments are quite extraordinary.  From the intricate chandeliers and crown molding to the American style kitchen and spa-like master bathroom.   We.  Can't.  Complain.

So come on in and take another tour of Casa de Perlman.   We're slowly taking reservations!


 Living Room
 Dining Room
Left : My office.  Right: The Laundry Room / Pantry / Storage
 Back Patio

 One side of the backyard
 Panoramic view of the kitchen
 Other views of the kitchen
Left: Sheridan's room.  Right: Grady's room.
 Riley's bedroom
 Master Bathroom
 Master Bedroom
 Another view of MBR, including the 8' chandelier hanging down from the ceiling

The kids' TV / hangout area at the top of the stairs


Surf. Turf. Tough ... and a Whole Lotta Stuff

The problem with infrequent blogging when you move back overseas is that life abroad is usually quite busy, and if you don't write every day, you end up like me with the overwhelming task of cramming three weeks worth of adventures into one post.

Here are the highlights of what's been happening here in El Salvador at Casa de Chaos ...

* I discovered the hard way that my Land Yacht (aka our Toyota Sequoia) doesn't quite fit through the Starbucks drive-thru.   Of course it happened AFTER I successfully placed my order at the window in Spanish.  To add insult to injury, despite hearing the crunch and meticulously backing the car out of drive-thru lane without incurring any more damage, I still had to park my car and WALK through the drive-thru lane to actually pay for and pick up my order. 

 * We've been to the beach twice now and the kids have enjoyed the serious waves.  I enjoyed hanging out with my girlie friends and soaking up some sun.

 * They have lots of wine here.  A few California wines (if you're willing to bend over to pay for them).  And even boxed wines ... packed identically to the juices are here.  I just hope that one day I don't make a mistake and serve the wrong box to the kids ...

* We attended three Open Houses and a separate Spanish Open House at the kids school, on four separate occasions.  For the 6th grade, we  had to follow Riley's schedule and go to each of her classes so we could see where they were, meet the teachers, hear the curriculum and make it to the next class prior to the bell ringing.  I do NOT  miss Middle School and all the drama. 

 * Got caulk?  Try saying that aloud and not smirking.  Though, if you had 2 men in your house caulking the inside and outside of every. single. window. for three straight days, the giggling would stop after the first hour.  Or maybe you'd wear a perma-scowl because the air conditioner in your bedroom has leaked 9 times since you've moved in.  Not that you're counting or anything ...

* I'm not sure I have enough brain matter left to actually grasp the Spanish language.  Four days of classes every week (two classes at the Embassy and two days where the tutor comes to my house) and I still can barely say anything more than, "I go to the store." "Can you stay to babysit?" "My kids are annoying me."  At least I've learned the important phrases.

* In an exciting turn of events, Riley got involved with Student Government and decided to throw her name in the hat and run for the 6th grade Student Council Treasurer.  She came up with her own platform, designed her own fliers, wrote her own speech, and worked on her campaign.  She ran against four other local Salvadorean kids who have been at the school since kindergarten ... and Riley WON!  I'm verklempt.

* The Embassy put on a Health and Safety event last weekend, and the kids rotated through four stations where they learned all about the importance of hygiene, stranger danger and how to work the alarm systems at the houses, eating right and fitness with the Sports Coordinator and the Marines, and self-defense.  They even had the bomb squad show the kids what they do and what they wear when they go out. 

* This is the paper I now carry with me when I buy beef, because last weekend I thought I purchased  flank steak to serve to our dinner guests, but it was more leather-like than meat.  Further embarrassment were the 9 of us attempting to gnaw on it like we were sharpening our canines for the next big hunt in the wild.  

* Can I mention again how wonderful it is for the kids to wear uniforms to school?  

 * The shoes.  THE SHOES!  This country is FILLED with ladies wearing nothing but high heeled shoes.  I think I'm going to fit in just fine ... 

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