With a great deal of help from the Foreign Service blogging community, I’ve put together a list of FS Blogs. At that link is also an OPML file that you can download to import the list of blogs into your newsreader of choice.
Two friends, both of whom I respect greatly, have shared criticisms of a recent post I wrote about a CrossFit class. Kool-Aid isn’t paleo, but if it were, I’d certainly have drunk it. Instead of promising to write a glossary and then not doing it, I’m just going to provide a (profanity-free*) translation.
I went to CrossFit on Thursday because I looked at the WOD and said to myself, “Running? Partner metcon? FUCK THIS SHIT, I’m staying home.”
I went to the gym on Thursday because I checked out the programmed workout posted online by the gym and said to myself, “A cardio conditioning workout that requires that I run while my partner does another activity, and then we switch back and forth for fifteen minutes? To heck with this! I’m staying home.”
So of course I went, because I’m not about to be like, “Wah wah wah, I only do metcons I like.”
So of course I went, because I’m not about to be like, “Wah way wah, I only do workouts I like.”
And of course, there was neither a partner workout or running, and I was like FUCK YEAH, THURSDAYS ROCK.
And of course, there was neither a partner workout or running, and I was like, YEAH! THURSDAYS ROCK!
And then the coach was like, burpees + thrusters, and I was like, FUCK, I knew I should have STAYED HOME.
And then the trainer was like, squat thrusts + a left that involves a squat + a push press and some explosive force, and I was like, MAN! I should not have come today.
And then I didn’t finish the metcon within the time limit, and I was like, FUCK, it’ll only take me 30 more seconds, might as well finish anyway. So I did.
And then I didn’t finish the cardio conditioning within the time limit, and instead of stopping, I took 30 more seconds to finish.
Sounds like progress to me.
* Future posts will certainly not be profanity free because I am secretly twelve and still think fart jokes are funny. Sorry.
The last few weeks have been busy for everyone! Here are the final posts for the FS Spring Rejuvenation!
I’ve really been enjoying JDC’s posts about life in Lagos. All FS families think that the drivers at their post are the worst in the world. In JDC’s case, she’s right.
Kitchen Cables shares her experiences of a Balkan market.
Connie picked up chili peppers at the grocery store, and shared a delicious looking recipe for Chili Relleno Casserole.
Kate describes a trip to CASEA, an open air farmer’s market in Brasilia.
And finally, a round up of Moscow grocery stores from Crafty Foreign Service.
While writing the prompts over the last six weeks, I ended up with a long list of ideas that I wasn’t able to squeeze into six weeks of prompts. Fellow FS bloggers, here are several more ideas for posts:
Find someone new and local to hang up in your home. What do you display on the walls of your home — photos, posters, artwork, nothing? How do you choose what to dislay? What mood are you trying to create?
Tell us about something you know you should do . . . but don’t.
When was the first time you really felt like a grown up (if ever)?
Have you ever gone to a new place or tried a new experience at Post and thought to yourself, “I’m never doing that again!” Tell us about it.
What does patriotism mean to you?
What are you thankful for today?
Share 5 items on your bucket list
What is the one piece of advice your parents gave you that still sticks with you today?
What do you do to nourish your soul when you feel emotionally depleted?
What you’re loving on Pinterest right now?
Why did you start blogging?
What was the last book you read?
What’s a book you could read again and again and again?
The worst thing that ever happened to you in the FS, and what you learned from it
5 top things and 5 bottom things about your most recent (or current) post (shamelessly stolen from whomever organized this the last time)
5 rules for surviving your first pack out
5 Questions you should ask your sponsor before you arrive at Post
5 things you think new arrivals should know about your Post before they get off the plane
5 ways to be a great ___________ at Post (sponsor, employee, friend, event organizer, social butterfly, WHATEVER)
A day in the life at Post
It’s the last week of our Foreign Service Blog Rejuvenation! This week’s prompts are about what inspires us.
Prompt 1: Do you have a favorite quote that you return to again and again? What is it, and why does it move or inspire you?
Prompt 2: Find three other FS blogs that inspire you. Link up your favorite posts (don’t have to be the most recent).
Prompt 3: Take a photo of something unique to your post that inspires you.
Tomorrow’s round up will be for weeks four and five, and the final round up will go up next Tuesday, 6/24.
Naval-gazing indeed. When Roaen tagged me to participating in a Writing Process blog hop, I couldn’t help but laugh. The only thing I love more than talking about myself is getting to do it on my blog. We bloggers are a narcissic bunch sometimes, but I have really enjoyed clicking backward through the hop and seeing how other busy bloggers manage their work lives, families, and blogs.
When Roaen sent me this, I spent a fair amount of time thinking about this question. What am I working on? I don’t write professionally, and I don’t have a goal of turning this blog into a revenue source. It’s a side project—a way for me to write, but also for me to stay in touch with many of the other wonderful folks in the Foreign Service community. I’ve been paid to write in the past, and that was lovely, but these days, it’s remarkably freeing to be able to write because I love it, instead of writing for a paycheck.
My only current writing project is this blog. After a years long hiatus (or effective hiatus, when I only posted once a month or so), finding my voice has become a struggle. What do I want from this blog? Who is my audience? And how can I balance writing about the things I care passionately about with the State Departments written and unwritten rules about blogging?
Oh, meandering me. At various points, I have blogged about studying abroad, the Peace Corps, running a business in Benin, technology in Africa, women’s issues, food, paper crafts, losing weight, life in Freetown, and finally, life at FSI here in DC. Like many in the FS community (officers and spouses and MOHs alike), I have lived a varied and interesting life, and have continued to write as I have done so.
Today, I write about many subjects well covered elsewhere: cooking, CrossFit, paper crafts, life at FSI, parenting, and travelogues. I am lucky in that my job ties all of those disparate subjects together. How can I find community and passionate work wherever I go? How do we Sondjos make our home happy, no matter where in the world it may be?
I love sharing the normalcy of our lives, and I love sharing our grand adventures.
I write because I love to write. It’s a creative outlet. I love to share. I love telling stories. And even when I am SO MAD because it looks like State is broken AGAIN, I love my job as an FSO. I want people to love everything I love as much as I do. And even if they don’t love it, I want to share my joy and my exuberance, and yes, even my frustrations with the rest of the world.
I draft all blog posts in Evernote so that I have access to them on all of my devices, wherever I am. If I’m not online, I take notes and outline posts in a moleskin, but everything makes it to Evernote eventually. I am slowly starting a schedule (Foreign Service Fridays, CrossFit Mondays, Community Tuesdays), punctuated by regular posts about home and family. Drafts may sit around for months before I finish them, but once I have an acceptably finished post, I ask myself one more time whether it’s a good idea to publish the post as-is. If so, I copy it into WordPress, add any photos, and schedule it.
The vast majority of my posts are scheduled in advance. I write them when I have time to do so, schedule them, and forget about them. I’m finding that as I write more, the habits I developed when I was blogging professionally are also serving me well as an amateur. The fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants thing was fun for a long time, but I fully expect that future employers (and future managers of positions on which I’m bidding) will read this blog, and I believe a minimum of professionalism will serve me well.
On a technical note, I use a this editorial calendar plugin to help me visualize my editorial calendar each month.
Bridget is a fellow Foreign Service Officer, a mother, and an all around great person. I’ve enjoyed reading her posts from the DR, and can’t wait to read about her life as an American diplomat in China!
The lovely Ashley is a (newly again) mother of five. I don’t know where she finds the time to write, but she is hilarious. And now that I’ve met her, I hear all of her blog posts in her actual voice, and it’s even better. I have loved reading about her family’s adventures around the world, and now in DC for long term training.
We’ into the home stretch! Just one more week of prompts for our Spring Rejuvenation. This week, we’re talking about how we communicate, both at Post and with our families back home.
Week 5 – Communication
Prompt 1: Tell us how you keep in touch with friends and family back home. (prompt courtesy of Eve Josar).
Prompt 2: Visit your favorite market(s) at Post and tell us about them. Tell us about your favorite market ladies (or gentlemen), your struggles to communicate in the local language, and most of all, why you keep going back. (also courtesy of Eve Josar).
Prompt 3: What is something you love that defines your world but is often overlooked? Take a photo and share it with us.
BONUS PROMPT: What are five things new arrivals should know about your post before you arrive?
I can’t live without coffee. More precisely, my family doesn’t want to live WITH me, if I can’t have coffee in the mornings. And good coffee is hard to get in a lot of places in the world.
Like a rest stop in London. WTH? How is it that hotels in London only offer Nescafe and other variants of instant coffee in their rooms? THAT IS NOT ACCEPTABLE COFFEE SERVICE, especially for someone who doesn’t consume milk or sugar. Nescafe + water + nothing else? GROSS GROSS GROSS.
If I’m traveling anywhere outside of the States, I tuck my French press and a coffee grinder into my luggage. And usually some beans (especially if I’m PCSing). R&R to Bertrand’s parents’ place in Northern Benin? YES. Reststop in London? I WILL NEVER FORGET AGAIN. PCSing back to the States? OH HELL YES. I’m looking at YOU, broken Oakwood coffee maker.
Because there is nothing worse than waking up in a new bed in a new country to a new job, and not having any goddamned coffee.
This post is part of the FS Spring Rejuvenation.
Everywhere in the world, Foreign Service Officers and their families love to kvetch about their housing. It’s too small. It’s too big. It’s configured in a weird way. There aren’t any toilet paper holders in the bathrooms. The kitchen is too hot. The floors are too cold. But somehow, in our own quiet way, each of us turns our similarly furnished houses into beautiful, cozy, and friendly homes for our families.
If you’re anything like us, then a house really starts to feel like home once your toddler’s dropped Cheerios between all of the cushions in the couch, and your baby’s puked on the carpet a time or two. Other, more organized families actually make an effort, as you can see in this round-up.
Our Mobile Home writes beautifully about how having a child has forced her to get to know her city better, because children have needs, and it’s her job to provide for them.
Sarah shares a lovely perspective on the local, Serbian, food in Belgrade.
Sara shares the magnet collection that she brings with her in her suitcase. Like for many of us with children, no house of hers can be a home without a decorated fridge.
And finally, Chelsea Fischer writes about why she’s loving Brazil right now (including the arrival of her car!).
Each Sunday, for six weeks, I’ll post three prompts (an introspective prompt, an activity prompt, and a photo prompt) to get us thinking about what we love about Post and this crazy FS life. Use any or none of them, then comment on that week’s post or in the FB group to let us know you’ve posted. The followig Tuesday (that is, nine days later), I’ll post a round-up so that we can see what amazing things our fellow Foreign Service families are living and experiencing around the world.
As we move around the world, it’s easy to get wrapped up in the day-to-day, and forget to stop and smell the roses (or whatever flowers are in season where you are). This week, we’re taking a moment to focus on where we are, and what’s new and exciting about it.
Prompt 1: What’s your favorite part about visiting a new place (or arriving at a new post) — the food? The architecture? The people watching?
Prompt 2: Go see a tourist site you’ve been meaning to see at Post but haven’t yet. Take lots of pictures and tell us about your trip!
Prompt 3: Take photos of five things you’re going to miss when you leave Post. (Prompt courtesy of Donna).
The round-up will go up on Tuesday, 6/10, so be sure to comment here or on FB if you’d like to share.
No matter where you are in the world, you and your family gotta eat. Much like housing, GSO (har har har), and the weather, the local food is something that we all like to complain about, but in most places, eventually come to love. I have fond memories of learning to eat “snot sauce,” or krin krin, and getting over my fear of food poisoning in Benin.
This week, FS Bloggers shared their frustrations and loves about food at Post, as well as some of their favorite dishes:
Sadie writes about the joys of cooking in Kampala, where there aren’t four discreet seasons.
Kelly shares what she loves and hates about food in Vienna.
Sara found some time amid packing out to tell us about delicious turon from the Philippines.
Chelsea shared a recipe for easy to make lemon bars in Brasilia, even before your personal arrive at Post.
Our Mobile Home wrote about the amazing fresh produce available in Protugal.
Allison also write about Filipino food, highlighting the amazing fresh produce (do you sense a theme here)?
Ania share some beautiful photos of a Danish fishing town.
Sarah writes about Serbian food, again highlighting the availability of inexpensive and delicious produce.
I share a recipe for bacon wrapped asparagus, since asparagus is in season in DC.
And finally, JDC talks about Nigerian food, specifically, Efo Riro. In Benin, there were as many varieties of “mysterious green vegetable sauce” as there were tantis. We called it sauce legume, and it’s something I miss dearly.