A Year of Transition

With just a few hours remaining in 2011, there is no time like right now to pause and reflect on what has happened over the last 365 days. There is only one word to sum up this last year for us- CHANGE.

2011 was a year of transitions for Thad and me. It started with Thad being on the register for a job with the State Department, but also with him still facing the final hurdle- passing a speaker phone-proctored Chinese test. (I can’t understand English over speaker phone half the time, let alone trying to decipher a second language that way!) Only a few close friends and family members knew that he was in the midst of this process, so as the year started, we harbored secret hopes of major changes in our lives. After many hours of practice and preparation, he successfully completed the phone test and bumped to the very top of the register. Within weeks he received a job offer and we broke the news to our bosses, colleagues and others who we had kept outside the loop and began plans to move to Washington DC.

2011 saw me quit (for a second time) the job I loved! After nine years of teaching 8th grade English and reading in the same classroom at Marsing Middle School, I left my job to move east with Thad as he embarked on a new career path. Nine years in one classroom is much like moving out of a home you’ve lived in for a decade. I had hundreds and hundreds of young adult books to sort through, all sorts of posters and wall hangings to divvy out to my fellow teachers, binder upon binder of teaching materials to sort and decide which would stay and which would go with me and several closets full of random personal items that needed to be packed up and hauled home. The sorting was the easy part of the process.  The goodbyes were not. I thought I was going to keep it all together, but that resolve lasted about three whole minutes. Saying goodbye to my wonderful colleagues who had become more than just coworkers, who had become my friends, was not an easy task. I had my dream job, worked for an outstanding principal and loved nearly every minute of what I did.  It was definitely not easy to turn in my keys and walk out of my building one last time.

2011 was a year of downsizing. We moved from our beautiful home in south Nampa (which is for sale, if anyone is interested!) to a 600 square foot apartment in Arlington, Virginia. While clothes went with us to the new place, the rest of our belongings are in temporary and long-term storage, awaiting the next phases of the diplomatic lifestyle we’ve undertaken. We sold both of our cars and are now beholden to public transportation for all of our conveyance needs. My endless bookshelves of books mostly went to charity, and I get my reading fix from the much smaller, much more portable Nook e-reader.

2011 saw Thad get his first diplomatic posting- Chengdu, China.  We couldn’t have been more thrilled, as that was our number one choice off of the bid list. It has also seen him spend countless hours in Chinese class and even more hours at home studying in preparation for the upcoming move.

2011 was a year of travel for me. After the move to Virginia, I flew home for my dad’s birthday in July and then flew to New England to meet up with my parents for a road trip in the fall. We visited several US states and a few Canadian provinces while we were at it. The year rounded out with a trip to Idaho for the holidays.

This last year has been filled with so many changes that it is hard to keep track of them all, but they have all headed us in a positive direction.  I know that, for many people, this last year was one of hardship and frustration.  Thad and I have been very lucky that the changes that have come into our lives are ones that we initiated and wanted to take place.  We are excited to welcome this new year that is just a couple of hours away.  It is going to be another year of transformation as we finally move abroad again, as I search for a job to replace the career I am leaving behind and as we tackle a new country and lifestyle.

As 2011 fades into the background, 2012 is emerging on the horizon, filled with endless possibilities and opportunities. Welcome!!

 

No Such Thing as Too Early

While obsessive-compulsive might be a bit too dramatic, the label of hyper-worrier probably isn’t too far off. Once a small kernel of an idea plants itself in my mind, there is nothing I can do but stew on it until whatever it is has been taken care of.  Sometimes it is a question of whether I left my curling iron plugged in on the bathroom counter, which I then fret over all day long, or possibly it is something as trivial as needing to make a list and check it twice to make sure no one is forgotten in the cookie plate festivities.

Most recently, this ability to worry unnecessarily was employed for the sake of our holiday travel plans. As “Holiday Flight Fiasco” details, there were some issues with arranging tickets home for the Christmas season and Thad did some rather impressive networking to make the trip happen. The fact that I was able to so smoothly book flights with our “won” tickets actually made me nervous.  Was it possible that things were going to go off without a hitch? On top of worry about the tickets not causing any problems, a flight out of Baltimore’s BWI meant a much longer commute to the airport than our usual one-stop on the Metro to Reagan National Airport.

The plan was to use an airport van service to get from Arlington to Baltimore, so in order to schedule that ride, I needed to start at the flight departure time and count my way backwards to the necessary pick-up time. Thinking our flight was at 11AM, I figured we needed to be at the airport a minimum of two hours early since we were flying just two days before Christmas. In my mind I imagined ticket counter lines weaving back and forth, Disneyland-style, as far as the eye could see. Once clearing the first hurdle of checking bags (free when you fly Southwest!), my mental picture continued on to the security check area, where people in various states of undress shoved gray buckets filled with bags, coats, shoes and laptops through the x-ray machine while other people were getting their personal bits and pieces electronically scanned for all in some locked away back room to peruse. Two hours were going to be necessary.

With all of this in mind, I called the airport shuttle company and booked a pick-up time of 7:30 AM. As our travel date neared, I couldn’t help questioning my original timeline. More than once I wrote it out on a piece of paper, counting and recounting the hours and minutes available. Would three and a half hours be enough to be picked up by the van, pick up others also scheduled for rides at the same time, get through bag check and survive the lines at security? Doubtful, my mind told me.

Wednesday afternoon, I decided I didn’t want to lose anymore sleep over this issue, so I once again called the van company, this time rescheduling our shuttle for half an hour earlier- 7AM.  Content that we would have sufficient time to make our flight, I turned my worrying back to more mundane concerns such as whether or not I had remembered to throw all of the used towels into the tub before leaving for class, making the housekeeper’s job just a tad bit easier.

Before we knew it, Chinese textbooks were stashed away, bags were packed and early morning alarms were set. Our shuttle not only came without a problem, but was actually early. We were on the freeway, headed into downtown DC by 7AM. After making two other pick-ups, we pulled up to the flight departure area of the airport right around 8:30AM. I was surprised to see the ticket counter fully staffed, with the Dinseyland-esque winding line being less than two 180 degree turns long. The magic tickets presented nary a problem and soon, very soon, we found ourselves standing in another line, security this time, worthy of being called a Christmas miracle. From the time we walked in to the front doors of the airport to the time we were standing in front of the mystic stack of TVs listing arrival and departure times, less than thirty minutes had elapsed.

It was at this juncture, standing with just our carry-ons slung over our shoulders, checking our gate number that we realized our flight was not at 11AM like I had thought, but it actually left at 11:30.  That’s right. Due to my excessive (and apparently unnecessary) worrying, we were at the airport, ready to go, three hours before our flight took off.

Thad, being unusually calm about the fact that I hauled him out of bed hours before his normal wake-up call, suggested breakfast at McDonalds (pre-flight pancakes are a bit of a morning flight ritual for me) and then some window shopping in the odd array of airport stores.

Yes, we were there stupidly early, but in reality, I was so much calmer from the time I rolled out of bed until the moment we stepped foot in the jet-bridge leading to the plane than I would have been otherwise, so it was all okay. I figure if I can’t stop the hyper-worrying, I can at least manage it through a ridiculous amount of planning and list making. Luckily, Thad has had thirteen years of experience with my lovely quirks and just lets me obsessively organize and plot as much as necessary until the mental chaos is calmed. Be still brain, be still.

“C” is for Cookie, That’s Good Enough for Me

Now what starts with the letter “C”?
“Cookie” starts with “C”!
Let’s think of other things that starts with “C”!
Uh. . .Uh. . . Who cares about da other things?!

-Cookie Monster

If Cookie Monster just added “Christmas” to his list of “C” words, that would be good enough for me.  I figured there was no better way to celebrate the holiday season that to marry these two fabulous “C” words and get my bake on!

The idea of a mass-baking day came to me a few weeks ago in the midst of Chinese class.  There was a point in class when one classmate was really struggling with a grammar point, so while he and the teacher went through a series of sentences using said point, I wisely used that time to make a list in the back of my notebook of soon-to-be cookie recipients.  It didn’t take long for the list to grow from a handful of people to the point where hundreds of cookies would be needed, but that just added to the fun of what I shall dub “Koo-Koo for Cookies Day!”

With a few other moments of not following along with the ever-growing vocabulary list, I had not only a receiver list, but an equally long list of goodies to be created.  Scheming complete, it was time to put the plan into action.

On Saturday morning, while it was a brisk thirty degrees outside, I bundled up and headed to the closest grocery store.  This journey requires me to cut through a shopping center, a mall and a parking garage. Bundled in my winter finery, the outside portions of the trip where quite comfortable, but that comfort in the elements translated directly to near heat stroke inside the buildings. Between puffy coat, scarf and hat, my grocery cart was more outerwear than it was food items.

The first annual (annual implies there will be future occasions…we’ll optimistically assume such an event will again take place, but next time in Chengdu) Koo-Koo for Cookies baking list included holiday classics such as gingerbread cookies, peanut butter cookies, chocolate chip cookies and holiday sprinkle doused sugar cookies.  To round out this diabetic induction, I also got the fixings to make chocolate pecan treats.  Shoving aside my unwieldy pile of Arctic-ready clothing also stacked in the cart, I made my way to the checkout stand where I quickly calculated that spending an extra $1.99 to purchase what is possibly the world’s largest canvas bag was a much better deal than losing all circulation to my extremities, which is surely what would have happened had I looped numerous plastic bags over each arm to schlep home.

Gigantic reusable grocery store tote slung over my shoulder mirroring Mr. Claus’ upcoming ventures, I made my way back through the parking garage, the mall and the nearby shopping center, feeling the wrath of the overheated buildings.

With dawn breaking on Sunday morning, I excitedly got up to begin the cookie construction process.  Dough was prepared. Cookies were created. Some were rolled in sprinkles of various holiday motifs (red and green for the Christmas revelers, blue for those lighting menorahs this time of year). Cookies were baked. Cookies were cooled. Cookies were stacked high on plates dotting what little counter space is available in ye ol’ mo-partment.

Six hours later, I successfully pulled the last of the sweet goodies from the oven. The results included two hundred cookies plus one hundred chocolate pecan treats, minus the various items that Thad occasionally wandered through to “taste-test.”  While it may be a horrible flashback to middle school math problems, the sum of the day is easy to calculate- deliciousness!

Once the delightful goodies were complete, the lack of counter space again reared its ugly head.  Without our dear floppy-eared Basset hound Mabel to make her move, it was easy enough to expand into the entryway, where snowman-esque winter plastics plates (the not –so-distant relative of that lovely summer plastic ware peddled by Target when the warm weather arrives) were strewn across the floor and piled high with scrumptiousness and covered over in holiday-themed Saran Wrap. Shiny bows topped off each platter, making the final product not only tasty, but festive as well.

Christmas came early at FSI this week!  There is no better way to greet a Monday than to pass out fifteen plates of holiday cookies. I had to laugh, when I wandered out of class during the afternoon break, I saw my cookies in the hands of nearly every person I passed in the hallway. Everywhere there were  cookies in hands and smiles on faces. It seems Koo-Koo for Cookies day was a success!

(This little boy is Julian, the son of one of my Chinese classmates. Cute kid and a cookie is the holidays at their finest.)

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

12 Days of Christmas- FSI Style

12  Days of Christmas- FSI Style

On the first day of Christmas,
the State Department sent to me
An overworked iPad Pleco app

On the second day of Christmas,
the State Department sent to me
Two daily shuttles,
And an overworked iPad Pleco app

On the third day of Christmas,
the State Department sent to me
Three toiling classmates,
Two daily shuttles,
And an overworked iPad Pleco app

On the fourth day of Christmas,
the State Department sent to me
Four dreaded tones,
Three toiling classmates,
Two daily shuttles,
And an overworked iPad Pleco app

On the fifth day of Christmas,
the State Department sent to me
Five hours of class,
Four dreaded tones,
Three toiling classmates,
Two daily shuttles,
And an overworked iPad Pleco app

On the sixth day of Christmas,
the State Department sent to me
Six indistinguishable characters,
Five hours of class,
Four dreaded tones,
Three toiling classmates,
Two daily shuttles,
And an overworked iPad Pleco app

On the seventh day of Christmas,
the State Department sent to me
Seven students a-swearing,
Six indistinguishable characters,
Five hours of class,
Four dreaded tones,
Three toiling classmates,
Two daily shuttles,
And an overworked iPad Pleco app

On the eighth day of Christmas,
the State Department sent to me
Eight laoshi-s a-correcting,
Seven students a-swearing,
Six indistinguishable characters,
Five hours of class,
Four dreaded tones,
Three toiling classmates,
Two daily shuttles,
And an overworked iPad Pleco app

On the ninth day of Christmas,
the State Department sent to me
Nine uses of “le”,
Eight laoshi-s a-correcting,
Seven students a-swearing,
Six indistinguishable characters,
Five hours of class,
Four dreaded tones,
Three toiling classmates,
Two daily shuttles,
And an overworked iPad Pleco app

On the tenth day of Christmas,
the State Department sent to me
Ten Area Studies lectures,
Nine uses of “le”,
Eight laoshi-s a-correcting,
Seven students a-swearing,
Six indistinguishable characters,
Five hours of class,
Four dreaded tones,
Three toiling classmates,
Two daily shuttles,
And an overworked iPad Pleco app

On the eleventh day of Christmas,
the State Department sent to me
Eleven pounds of textbooks,
Ten Area Studies lectures,
Nine uses of “le”,
Eight laoshi-s a-correcting,
Seven students a-swearing,
Six indistinguishable characters,
Five hours of class,
Four dreaded tones,
Three toiling classmates,
Two daily shuttles,
And an overworked iPad Pleco app

On the twelfth day of Christmas,
the State Department sent to me
Twelve holiday memos,
Eleven pounds of textbooks,
Ten Area Studies lectures,
Nine uses of “le”,
Eight laoshi-s a-correcting,
Seven students a-swearing,
Six indistinguishable characters,
Five hours of class,
Four dreaded tones,
Three toiling classmates,
Two daily shuttles,
And an overworked iPad Pleco app

Wii-kends are for Playing

After what seemed like a never-ending week of Chinese in which I attempted to wrap my mind around the ever elusive change-of-situation “le” particle, and was privy to such useful information as the term for godmother also doubles as a common term of endearment used by prostitutes for their madams, some downtime was definitely needed.

A good friend (and fellow China Returned Peace Corps Volunteer), John Park, just purchased a Wii. With weekend looming, along with John and Erin Townsend (also fellow China RPCVs),  we all figured it was the perfect time for that little white box to see some action. Before tackling the games of skill and prowess, we thought a few authentic Chinese dishes might get things off to a good start.

There is a lovely little restaurant in Falls Church that has a bit of a split personality.  In large neon letters, it advertises itself as Hong Kong Palace, with is a pretty normal name for a Chinese restaurant in the US.  The only problem with that is, the smaller, yet still neon, Chinese characters on that same sign say Chengdu, which is decidedly not Hong Kong. Nearby, in one of the front widows, yet another neon sign advertises the store as Small Chengdu Restaurant. Now, not only are Hong Kong and Chengdu more than 800 miles apart, but their food is quite unique as well.  I guess the thinking is that to Americans, Chinese food is Chinese food, so it is best to pick a well-known city with which to advertise. Then, to pull in the Chinese customers, a more accurate description of the culinary style is provided.  (It really isn’t that odd of a concept I suppose. As Americans, most of us would probably make a distinction between southern food and that of the north, but to visitors from other countries, it could all be easily labeled “American.”)

With bellies full eggplant, spicy noodles, green beans and rice, it was time to Wii it up!

If you’ve been following this blog, you have read of my exploits as a softball player. For those of you new to In Search of the End of the Sidewalk, it only lasted one season and mostly consisted of me warming the bench. That stupendous athletic ability extends to nearly everything I do that requires any amount of coordination. (Again, frequent readers will remember that I was no more than ten minutes into my first motorcycle riding class when I found myself pinned to the asphalt by a couple hundred pounds of shiny metal.) Sadly, as I recently learned, Wii takes a wee bit of coordination. That does not bode well for me or for anyone unlucky enough (John T.) to be saddled with me as a teammate.

The evening’s events began with bowling. I was lucky enough to be blessed with a fabulously shiny gold bowling ball, which I think was my secret weapon. While my score was only a little higher than what I would rack up in a real life bowling alley, I came out on top after ten frames. (I think I may have only won by two points, but considering that was the only time all night I didn’t earn the no-so-coveted fourth place position, I want it to be remembered that a win is a win!)

From bowling, it was on to doubles tennis. Poor John T. got stuck with me as his partner for the ensuing matches.  I quickly discovered that I have adequate serving abilities, but that is where any slight aptitude ends. Not only could I not hit the dumb little yellow ball to save my life, more than once I somehow forgot that we were playing a game and not just watching TV. It wasn’t until after the ball sailed by my cute purple clad Mii that I realized I should have taken a swing.  I was so into watching the action I totally forgot that I was supposed to be taking part in the action.

When I did remember to participate and potentially help my partner out, I did so with full effort and enthusiasm. While some too-cool-for-school Wii players may master the art of minute gesticulations, I was all in! It takes a powerful swing to hit a tennis ball from one end of a court to the other, so gaming device strapped to my wrist or not, I was swinging for the stands!

Bowling and tennis were really just warm-ups for the evenings main event- Wii dancing!  It is important to bear in mind, not only do I lack an inherent sense of coordination, I am also totally devoid of rhythm.  Put these two things together, add Britney Spears and let the chaos reign! It may not have been pretty and I may have lost to everyone, every dance, including when John T. played as he lounged on the couch, but it was a blast! Not only did I wiggle and waggle to some Black Eyed Peas and LMFAO, but I got to watch Thad and John P. battle it out as robots busting out some pretty spastic moves.  I am not sure which of them ended up with the most points, but I am positive that those of us watching were the winners!

It is very possible that I logged more hours on the Wii last Friday night that I have spent on video games in my entire life. I may have set up  a permanent Occupy Fourth Place camp that would bow to nothing less than pepper spray,  and I may have pulled a muscle or two during unintentional spastic moments, but there is no doubt that Wii night was the perfect end to a gray matter melting week of Chinese study.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

An Evening with the Famous Apparitions of the Advent

A decade of teaching middle school left me with a curious set of skills.  I can decipher both teenage boy chicken scratch, as well as teenage girl fluffy, curlicue handwriting. I can read a two-page essay composed of a single paragraph, lacking in both a thesis and organization and still decode the gist of the paper. I can recommend young adult books based solely on the question, “What was the last good book you read?” with probably a 90% accuracy rate. Ten years of teaching eighth grade also gave me a unique ability to quote passages from classics such as The Outsiders (I’m not just talking the easy ones, like Johnny’s dying words, “Stay gold Ponyboy; stay gold.”) and “The Cask of Amontialldo” (“The thousand injuries of Fortunato I had borne as I best could, but when he ventured upon insult, I vowed revenge.”). You don’t even want to get me started on why Robert Frost’s poem “Nothing Gold Can Stay” is the perfect choice for a novel about orphaned teenage hoodlums. Not only can I do an entire ninety minute class on the topic, but I can do it in a way that gets thirteen year olds to enthusiastically agree that American poetry written about rural New England naturally fits with stabbing Socs and late night rumbles.

A Christmas Carol was always one of my favorite novels to teach. I meticulously planned and plotted my limited number of days between the Thanksgiving break and the Christmas one so that each stave was thoroughly read and enjoyed by all. Having taught the Ghost Story of Christmas for eight years to three different classes each year, plus adding in my own personal readings, I’ve probably read it cover to cover thirty times in the last ten years.  That many readings of anything is bound to give any bookworm a keen sense for every line in the text.

Even without a class to regale with the wonders of Dickens’ prose, I didn’t want to let my holiday season be deprived of a little Victorian British cheer.  Thad, during one of his excursions as sightseeing coordinator for visiting Idaho friends, saw that Ford’s Theater was putting on the play this winter.  There couldn’t be a better marriage of our favorite things!  A classic Advent season play for me and a historical site visit for him.

Last week, we, along with two great friends, braved the elements to attend the Wednesday night showing. While “…External heat and cold had little influence on Scrooge,” I was rather drenched after tiptoeing, in heels, along three blocks of puddles, even with an umbrella hovering over my head.

Though the audience was damp and chilled, the play was amazing!

The Ghost of Christmas Past had a personality like I had never envisioned. As she floated above the stage in her all white, sparkling ballerina get-up, she cheerfully gave Scrooge the what-what about having forgotten the true meaning of the holiday spirit. During Fezziwig’s Christmas Eve dance party, I felt like I was at a tennis match as my eyes jumped from the lively action on stage to the crazily dancing ghost floating above and back again.

I’ve attended a handful (possibly inching towards two handfuls) of adaptations of Charles Dickens’ novel over the years, many of them with sixty middle school students in tow, but I have to say that Ford’s Theater’s retelling ranks right at the top when it comes to the creepy factor. While Marley’s haggard old face never surfaces on a doorknocker, it does mystically appear and disappear from a painting hanging in the center of Scrooge’s room.  Between this and the eerie floating Ghost of Christmas Future, I am quite certain that the towheaded little boy sitting in the row in front of us has experienced some rather haunting nightmares.

Dressed in our finery, accompanied by fantastic friends, the evening was a resounding success for both the literary and history buffs residing in this little mo-partment. This Christmas time just got a little bit Christmas-ier.  “And so, as Tiny Tim observed, God bless Us, Every One!”

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Winter Showers Bring Winter Babies!

When you mention a shower to a guy, they automatically think hot water, soap in their eyes and the start to a new day.  When you mention a shower to a woman, she may contemplate the previous type, but she is just as likely to think of cutesy decorations, finger foods galore and an abundance of fancily wrapped gifts.

Showers are on my mind as I recently attended Danielle’s baby shower.  Danielle is the wife of one of Thad’s A-100 classmates who is headed to Nepal with the State Department just about a month before we ship out for China. She and her husband not only face the stress of packing out and moving abroad, but doing so with their first child who will still be a newborn at that point.

I’ve long had mixed feelings about showers, both bridal and baby. I love to plan and prepare for a great gathering and am thrilled to throw them for close friends and relatives. Attending showers as a guest, on the other hand, can be both awkward and unnerving.

One of my main reservations about showers is the “game” part of the evening. Treat are good. Gifts are better. Games are bad.  Often, shower attendees come from various social circles within the honored guest’s life. This means that a single shower may contain co-workers, church folks, family members and close friends. Finding a game that fits with the occasion and includes all of those attending is no easy task.

Shower games range from those focused on the soon-to-be mother, such as everyone cutting a length of ribbon at their best guess of said-mother’s current size (How fun can it be, late in a pregnancy, to have your closest friends and family cut off pieces of ribbon more than double your actual girth?) to the guest-focused ones where attendees are blindfolded, given a baby doll and must race against others to correctly diaper it. (This is a horrible adult version of Pin the Tail on the Donkey!) In one of the less stressful games, Bingo cards are passed out and gift are checked off in hopes of getting the first row of five.  This is much more up my alley.

I was as pleased as a florist on Valentine’s Day when today’s shower came and went without a single game being played. While there was a Martha Stewart-worthy spread of hors d’oeuvres and beautifully wrapped presents, in lieu of games we were entertained with a little art project.  (My art skills leave a lot to be desired. As a teacher, I loved to draw pictures on the board to go along with upcoming holidays, assignments or activities at the school, but each and every stick-figure-laden scene was accompanied by a slew of arrows connected to labels and explanations, otherwise what I envisioned as artwork to rival Van Gogh would be unrecognizable to your average eighth grader.)

But back to the baby shower art project. With plain white onesies in hand (these were pre “Hey There Delilah” days) and a puffy paint selection to rival that of any mid-level crafter’s supply, we were creating outfits for the soon-to-arrive newbie! While I had a great time creating mine, it didn’t do my ego any good that the Erin and her art degree were creating a masterpiece next to me. Together, we may have put a little pressure on this yet to be born child, as our onesies included a shout-out for both Peace Corps and the Foreign Service.  Quality artwork/lettering like Erin’s or mediocre design like mine, any way you cut it, I always enjoy self-directed project over an awkward game with people I met minutes before.

Inevitably, baby shower talk often turns to, imagine this, babies! Having little to no experience with the under two-set, I never have much to contribute to these conversations.  I can talk about Malvolio, the pot-bellied pig we had for several years before joining Peace Corps, or Mabel, our goofy basset hound, but I’ve found people don’t really care for the implied connection between pigs, dogs and babies.  I mostly spend my time explaining that although Thad and I have been married for thirteen years, we have, up to this point, chosen other endeavors, such as Peace Corps, careers and travel, over babies. While this discussion is frequently greeted with a chorus of “ohhh’s”, I have often wanted to switch it up a bit.  I think if just busted out with crocodile tears and concocted a story about how we couldn’t have kids, it would make the whole process a bit more entertaining, at least on my end! (Although, I do have to say that being married for over a decade and childless by choice is much more common in the DC area than it was in Idaho.)

I’ve attended numerous showers, both bridal and baby, over the years.  If I am the planner, I am very in to the whole process and love all that they entail.  As an attender, I am usually a bit skeptical going in to the event, but  even when there are games that make me feel a bit like an awkward teenager, I almost always leave glad that I attended.  A group of women gathered to celebrate a new life stage, whether it be a marriage or a new addition to a family, is an afternoon well spent. Scrumptious food and drink ease the ungainliness of the initial greetings, I usually end up meeting and chatting with fascinating new people, and it is fabulous to celebrate the good fortune of friends and family. Shower on, ladies, shower on!