Yesterday I was catching up with a good friend from home (who shall remain nameless but is hopefully in labor!) and telling her that my boss had approved me working part-time for a few months to allow me to transition back from maternity leave. She asked how that would impact the nanny (it won’t, we’re still keeping her regular hours and I’ll just send her home early most days) and whether or not we’ve asked her to clean or help around the house. I was explaining that I wanted to keep our housekeeper, so for now we’ve only asked the nanny to help with baby stuff – bottles, her laundry, and straightening up toys and books. I realized, to a non foreign service person, I sounded maybe a bit spoiled.
If only she knew where my night went after our chat.
JR and I went to dinner at one of our favorite places that just reopened, Pacific Rim. We ordered a large bottled water, and the server brought out glasses with ice and poured them before we could say anything. Now, normally I wouldn’t really think much of this, but as I was catching up on missed e-mails yesterday, I read an updated notice about the water in Pristina – reiterating that the tap water is not safe to drink. And I think it’s safe to presume that the ice was made with tap water. I wound up not drinking any of it, and JR just poured his water into a glass without ice. I told him that the revised guidelines recommended bleaching raw fruits and vegetables, to protect from contamination. Bleaching produce is not uncommon for FS folks living overseas, but I’ve certainly never had to do it.
While we were at dinner, he mentioned that his office offered him the chance to do a TDY (short-term work in another location) out of the country next week. He was willing to pass it up, but it’s important that he has these opportunies for professional development and growth. I told him he should absolutely go, and I would make do. But I didn’t say it without reservations. In my head I was remembering how difficult it was when he was in DC for two weeks, and that was while I was not working and had tons of family help around. As it is, he is tentatively scheduled to make two 2-week trips back to DC in the near future without us. I know many, many people face separations from their spouses and families, but I hate it. Sometimes I want to yell “I didn’t sign up for this!” Except we did.
After dinner, we made our way home and started the bedtime and bath routine with Abby. Our main bathroom (we have a second toilet in the laundry room) was again covered in ants. Right beside the toilet and the bathtub. I was so annoyed and disgusted. Now, if I lived in Ohio, I would have immediately gone to Kroger or Walmart to buy Raid and ant traps. Alas, not an option here. In fact, I’m not certain where they would sell ant killer, and I also have doubts about my ability to purchase that on my own. I’m afraid I’d buy something not safe for use indoors, and that’s not a risk I want to take with the baby and our cat in the house. JR helped me hose down the bathroom (literally, we used our detachable shower head and sprayed all the ants down and into the drain on the floor) and we called it a night.
This morning, I had to visit no less than 3 different rooms in our house just to try to straighten my hair. Some of our electronics can be plugged directly into the wall with the help of a small plastic adapter, making the prongs fit. Other items must be plugged into a transformer, which is a heavy, unweildy box that sits on the ground. Our house came with 4 transformers. Those have served us reasonably well so far. We use one in our living room for our TV, computer, and other electronics. One in the kitchen for our toaster, blender, and other kitchn applicances. There’s also the one in our bedroom which I use for my blow dryer and straightner. We never really used the 4th one, although we moved it into the baby’s nursery assuming it would come in handy.
Well, it would come in handy if it worked. The US plugs don’t stay in, they fall out or hang there precariously, causing whatever is plugged in to shut on and off constantly. It seemed unsafe (not to mention incredibly annoying) so we moved that transformer out of Abby’s room and swapped it with the one in our bedroom. Let me tell you how frustrating it is to try to do your hair when the applicance turns off every 5-10 seconds. Eventually, I gave up and went to the kitchen to get that transformer, carried it to the bathroom, and used it there (ants and all). I had to carry it back to the kitchen so I could use my toaster, which I can’t even keep on the counter anymore, because we now have a drying rack and bottles taking up valuable real estate in the kitchen. If JR and I were picking our own apartment, this kitchen would not make the cut.
My one wall, 3 small countertops kitchen.
Don’t get me started on trying to cook and prepare food with the limited space, but this morning all I wanted was some %$&* toast! Assigned housing is a part of life in the FS. I’m sure at some posts this is considered a really great kitchen, and for others it’s definitely on the small and inconvenient side. (It’s important to add here that housing is one of the benefits that we receive in the FS, and JR feels very strongly that we should not complain about things we receive for free.)
As with everything in life, there are good things and bad, and you have to learn to take it all in stride. I hesitated to post this, because the majority of the time, we are happy here and thankful for all of the opportunties that JR’s job brings us. But I figure everyone is allowed to have a grumpy day, right?
And I always have JR to send me things like this.