Monthly Archives: March 2012

Loss Far From Home

Tony’s Pa passed away today. I am in Washingtonn for work, while Tony and the boys are back in Germany. It feels sometimes like we are Congress’ and even the American people’s favorite punching bag – an exotic and luxurious life in the far reaches of the globe. What’s not to love? Moments like this, however, far from family, reiterate that the Foreign Service life is also about sacrifice. Tony spent most very weekend growing up with his Pa, while my Mama was my escape whenever I needed one. It weighs on us, at these moments especially, that our own children are deprived of that sense of security that we enjoyed. I wouldn’t trade this life, but I do wish sometimes that my colleagues and I received a bit more understanding of what we have given up.

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JERUSALEM!

Things change quickly in the Foreign Service – and never as much as they did this week.

My tour at AFRICOM was intended to keep us in Germany for three years.  While the work isn’t the most challenging I’ve ever done, it is interesting and, more importantly, we really love living here.  So when the State Department’s Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs emailed (repeatedlyt) last week to ask me to consider taking the Political Counselor position in Jerusalem, we really agonized over the decision.  As you’ll have read in an earlier post, the boys are thriving in their German school, they and Ma’issa have a giant yard and beautiful house to play in, and we generally have fallen in love with our healthy, stress free village lifestyle.  On the other hand, Jerusalem has been a dream post of mine and Tony’s and the work there on the Peace Process is central to US foreign policy.  As an added bonus, it is supposed to be one of the most kid/family-friendly posts in the Middle East.  In the end, we decided it was an opportunity we couldn’t pass up.

We do hate to leave Germany and we feel like there is so much left of Europe to see.  We are likely to be here until late September, though, so we’ll pack in as many trips (and as many visitors – hint!) as we can before we go.  If a trip to Europe doesn’t inspire you, though, we hope you’ll consider coming to see us in the Holy Land!

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Maulbronn Easter Market

Last weekend we went with some friends to an old monastery (Kloster) in Maulbronn, Germany that has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  The draw was their annual Easter egg market. If you are thinking elaborately decorated eggshells, costing significant sums of money is a strange place to take 3 toddlers, you’d be right.  We made a quick spin through the market itself and then headed outside where the boys explored the monastery grounds with their friend Graham.  It was only about 30 minutes from Weil and a great reminder of all the wonderful things to see in our backyard.

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Vienna, Budapest, and Bratislava

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Over President’s Day weekend, we headed east.  Good friends of ours, Rick and Sarah, who are posted in Jerusalem, were visiting mutual friends in Vienna for the weekend and we decided to join them for a day.  We headed out after the boys finished school on Friday. With infamous German “stau” (traffic jams), the 7 hour drive was more like 10.  That the drive took us through the Alps, though, with a dinner stop in an Austrian village, made it bearable.  Saturday morning the boys were up early, so we headed into the heart of Vienna and walked around for a couple of hours. Turns out Gluhwein is not just for Christmas in Austria, so Tony and I warmed ourselves up with a cup, while the boys snacked on fresh waffes.  We headed back to the hotel for a bit and then took the boys to our friends Jennifer and John’s, where they spent the rest of the day playing with their boys while we took off to meet our visiting friends downtown.  We spent the afternoon catching up with Rick and Sarah, poking in local stores, and stopping repeatedly along the way for a glass (or two) of wine.

The next morning we got back in the car and headed to Budapest. It was my favorite city as a student in Europe in 1995 and it is a favorite now. The city was surprising kid-friendly, which meant we were able to eat lots of good food and taste lots of the fabulous Hungarian wines, even with Ali and Dominic in tow.  We did a lot of sightseeing on foot the first day and took a bus tour of the city the second.  Highlights included seeing the largest synagogue in Europe, which survived WWII and now serves as a memorial, and having lunch high above the city overlooking the Danube.  On our way home on Tuesday, we made a quick detour to Bratislava, home of one of our favorite scenes in one of our favorite movies, Eurotrip.  The outskirts of the city seemed firmly rooted in their Soviet past, while the old city was quite charming.  All in all, a wonderful weekend with great friends, great food, and great wine!

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