Saturday, August 29, 2009


I actually got out to play some tennis on Wednesday. I spent about one and a half hours with a bunch of friends from my A-100. I'm about as good/bad as I thought. That is, I'm fairly coordinated but really don't know anything about tennis (read: how to play). Years of ping-pong seem to have helped little. We didn't play any actual games because we were all newbies; we just smacked the ball around a bit. Afterwards I was dead-tired but felt great.

It was so much fun that I played again on Thursday for two hours. This time we did play real games, which was very different. The players (other than me) were more experienced and the rallies were short. I did less running but was just as tired. I felt pretty bad for my partner. He's a competitive guy and I was more of a liability than anything. I need to work on my serve.

I got to practice my serve today when I played for FOUR hours. Ouch. I can tell I'm improving, but I still feel bad for my partner(s). Sara and Malachi came to watch after their naps. Malachi loves to encourage people who are playing games. His timing is sometimes off, but his words are always appreciated.

We had a nice trip to Baltimore yesterday and today, but I'll let Sara tell about it on her blog.

Monday, August 24, 2009


This is just a bonus picture of Malachi smelling the flowers.


My workday was only from 9-12 today (rough life, I know), so we took the opportunity of an open afternoon to visit the Luray Caverns. The pictures don't do it justice, but they're better than me trying to describe it.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Class 2

The weekend started with a downer: Malachi received a Class 2 medical clearance on Friday because of the seizures. This might affect our impending move to Chengdu. The medical staff at post will evaluate his specific condition and the care available in Chengdu to determine if we are still cleared to live there. If we are, everything will proceed normally. If not, we'll have to be posted somewhere else. Hopefully we will know this week.

Friday night we had a China Team (all the people from my class going to various China posts) Mahjong party. I had only ever played Mahjong on the computer, and so expected something very similar. But it's not. In China, Mahjong is one of the premiere gambling games, and it plays similar to a card game (most like rummy). We weren't playing for money (thank God), but I did finally win once and ended the night on a high note. And in true Chinese style we combined gambling (though not really) with alcohol. One of my classmates mixed Lychee martinis throughout the night.

Yesterday we took Malachi to the Air & Space Museum (again). After breezing through a few of his favorite exhibits we watched an IMAX movie about fighter pilots. It was quite enjoyable, and Malachi was really transfixed by it.

Despite having read the weather forecast, we didn't bring an umbrella downtown. So we walked a few blocks in the rain to get back to the Metro station. Malachi fell asleep on the Metro (no nap).

Last night was my final A-100 class party. The first members of the 146th head out to post next week. Sadly, Sara couldn't come because trustworthy babysitters are hard to come by around here. Most of the class (+ significant others) was in attendance, many in costume based on their country of assignment. I was jealous that I didn't have a panda mask like some of the other China folks. I exercised self-control by not offering my rendition of Baby Got Back during karaoke (though it would have been awesome).

Already a full weekend and it's not over!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Busy all around

At home -- Sara is finally past the morning sickness phase of pregnancy. We're all happy about that. We have some pictures of the baby from Sara's first appointment, but we won't find out the sex for another month. Malachi is getting very excited about having a little brother or sister. He has named the in-utero child "Chickenbutt." Hopefully he won't be too disappointed when we choose a less scatological name.

Friday night Sara and I went out to a movie. The Time Traveler's Wife = exactly what it looks like in the trailer. If that's your cup of tea, enjoy. I also went to District 9 with a couple of work friends. Our opinions were split. One friend said it was one of the worst films he had ever seen. I thoroughly enjoyed it. And since this is my blog, I'll just say that he's wrong. This weekend we also had a poker night, volleyball tournament, and Vietnamese food outing.

At work -- In ConGen we are deep in non-immigrant visas. FSI (the Foreign Service Institute) has a mock consular area complete with eight consular windows behind bulletproof glass. During our roleplays, those playing the applicants have access to several boxes of costumes. The roleplays have been very helpful for me. I learn much better by doing something than by hearing about how to do it. Also it's fun to play the annoying applicant.

For the first few weeks of ConGen we had a lot of open time, but this week is pretty packed. I was nearly at work for 8 hours today (whew!). The downtime we do have is supposed to be spent studying or doing homework, but I can't stop playing Desktop Tower Defense.

In unrelated news, the owners of woot! have launched a new site that sells kid's stuff. This is clearly a poorly-disguised plan to make me spend even more money on their websites.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


Turned out my illness was strep. This is the first day in a week that I have felt like myself. I still have a lot of antibiotics to take, but it's great to have a clear head again.

In the midst of my fever, I went through some interesting phases. One day, I felt completely trapped in the house: cabin fever after only a few hours. The next day I was terrified about our move to China. I was convinced that we had made a huge mistake in coming here, and that I had forever ruined our lives. The entire time of my fever, I was really emotional and would tear up even at sappy commercials. This is certainly not the kind of information I would generally volunteer, but it was so bizarre that I want to record it.

Speaking of bizarre, I decided not to shave whilst sick, just to see what would happen. It turns out that seven days without shaving is still not very's mostly just embarassing.

In total I missed three days of ConGen, fully half of the module we were in. Still, I managed to catch up and pass the exam today. I still have to make up all of the lectures, roleplays, and application training I missed, but it's been worked into the schedule for me. It's going to eat up a good portion of my free time, but I'm glad not to repeat the whole module. Four weeks left on ConGen, then I start Mandarin!

I made a fort for Malachi out of one of the giant boxes from our air shipment. It quickly became his "dog house." The other night we let him sleep inside it.

In other news, we went to a church on Sunday that seems pretty good. We're going back this weekend and taking a couple of friends along. We bought some theater tickets for a few shows this fall and spring. We mini-golfed today and it feels like we're in the pool almost every day. Malachi is progressing in his bike riding. I wish I had more time to read. I bought Woot! shirts for the whole family.

Thursday, August 6, 2009


I woke up yesterday with a temperature of 102. And so I missed a day of ConGen. That wouldn't have been a huge deal except that my temperature this morning was 102.2. So I've missed two days in a row. I'm feeling a lot better now, though I can still feel the fever. Hopefully I won't have to repeat the whole 7-day module of ConGen.

Sara's really been a blessing to me. I don't get sick very often, but when I do I really shut down. She's been by my side the whole time with whatever I've needed. Thanks babe!