Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Meet me in St. Louie.....

Having grown up in St. Louis, Misery Missouri (nothing personal, just no ocean...lol). I typically go back and visit once a year or so. I drag show the kids all the cool places there are there....which I typically don't hit them all in one visit. I still need to take the kids up in the Arch (Richard is the only one who has that pleasure so far). So kids and I (first of likely many solo flights to come) flew to St. Louis for a whirlwind trip at the beginning of August.


When we got there.....Pasta House time...yum yum yum....order the usual...Pasta Con Broccoli with no fungus mushrooms......yum yum yum...my tummy is starting to be happy again. Then we headed to the Bestie's house for the night.

Next day....St. Louis Zoo.....threw me for a loop when I grew up and moved away and had to, gasp, PAY to go to the zoo....the Zoo is free.....met my cousins Sheri and Sara and Sara's little girls.
Cousins on a Rhinoceros Beetle

Butterfly House Pretty Cool......
Then we watched a Rhino get his morning PT done....seriously, he kept running laps in this corner of his enclosure....

The 'new' sea lion exhibit was super cool with underwater tunnel walk through portion (I say new because it wasn't there the last time I was...but its 2 years or so old).

There wasn't much interest in seeing the giraffes.....until we SAW the giraffes....(I can't wait to be posted in Africa.....lol), but then they didn't want to leave the giraffes!


 Of course, after a long morning at the zoo....time for IMO'S!!!!!!!!!!!
Big Kids....
Hard to believe they are in 1st and 3rd grades!
Then the kids and I headed over to the Science Center....had hopes of Clarissa falling asleep in the stroller dancing in my head....but she didn't....until we were driving home after meltdown 52.....

So part of the purpose of my trip was to attend the Laska Family Picnic....I hadn't attended since the summer before I left for college in Florida.....a whole 19 years ago! Its crazy how all the 'little kids' when I left are now all grown up (I haven't been to an annual Christmas party since I came back from Alaska in 1997.....it had been a while). Before the picnic I met up with my big brother and his family.....

Then off to the family picnic so Mason could meet the tons of cousins he never knew he had!

Here is a photo of everyone at the picnic....it was maybe a third or so all the cousins. Pretty much my grandpa Joe and his two sisters....had kids and their kids had kids and their kid's kids had kids.....you get the idea.



Next day was Sunday Funday with my Bestie and her family (since we were staying with them).
First stop was Missouri Botanical Gardens.....Carrie's favorite place is the rose garden (note her in the back of the pic.....)

I'm rather impressed with the close up feature of my iPhone....I didn't bring a camera with me on the trip.....but I couldn't resist photographing the pretty flowers....


So we went into the climatron building....made my heart pitter patter at hopes of a future post with rain forests!
My and My Bestie's Kiddos
The two in the middle were born 6 weeks apart!
Next stop, treated Carrie to her birthday dinner....at Pasta House (is it bad I take her to my favorite place for her birthday?). After that, since I was jealous of some of her pub glasses (and what better way to show my pride overseas than some Anheuser-Busch Pubware?).....had Brian chauffeur me to the brewery (I don't think he minded the free beer tasting at the end). Clarissa last about 10 minutes of the tour (Clydesdale barn portion)....so we hung out and shopped while Mason and the rest went on the tour. The little lady and I totally scored though and got to PET a Clydesdale! They are really huge when you are up close!


Next day.....flew back to DC.....then needed a vacation to recover from vacation......not sure when I'll be back to visit again though. Hopefully next summer......

Thursday, August 1, 2013

And the First Stop is.......

Tbilisi, Georgia (country not the state).
Image from: http://highlander.ge/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/georgian-flag.jpg

It is such a relief that after months and months of being asked where we are moving to (and saying I don't know) or getting the eyebrow raise when I said I moving overseas and don't know where.....yeah.

To help you orient yourself, I found this map online:
Image from: http://williamellisdotorg.files.wordpress.com/2012/12/georgia-map.jpg?w=500&h=311
Now its time to plan......figure out kids clothes (how quickly will they grow and how much can I find on clearance based on the climate, which looks surprisingly similar to Charleston....except there are mountains full of snow close by to go play in during the winter!), food and toiletries we can't live without and don't want to pay an arm and a leg for (we are actually allotted 2500 lbs of said food and toiletries...called consumables, because they are so hard to find/expensive!).

Flag Day

So I sat in an auditorium waiting for the program to start.....finally, the standing room only auditorium quieted when the mike was turned on. Introductions of everyone on stage, a short speech by a member of the specialist class. And finally the part everyone was waiting on....a completely random mixed up presentation of flags.....I picked up on Richard's CDO (its the gov't, would you expect anything less...Career Development Officer) would stand before a IMS (information management specialist) flag was announced. \

So when she stood up, I hit record.....I apologize for the focus being on the head of couple in front of me...but I was filming with one hand and taking photos on my iPhone with the other....
video
And after all 95 flags were distributed (oh and Richard's was around flag #80...no stress.....it was over!
Richard was part of the 130th specialist class.....the number started around the 1950s.....so not too terribly many classes....this is an elite group of professionals!

Here is a shot of all the IMS people in Richard's class (less one guy who jetted early) with a statue of Ben Franklin on the FSI campus (looks a lot like a college campus).

Then it was off to Happy Hour to celebrate (or chase a 3 year old around in my case)!