The process of packing out from The Oakwood was hectic, but at least a lot less stressful than when we packed out to move up. When heading out to post, we have two types of shipments. One is our unaccompanied air baggage (UAB) that is limited to 600 lbs and should arrive to Guatemala City in 1-2 weeks.

The second shipment is our household effects (HHE), which will take 1-2 months to arrive. This is essentially everything else in our apartment, along with what we are having sent from the storage facility. A big part of the planning process for the pack out was deciding what we wanted for each shipment and then dividing them into separate areas in the apartment to minimize the chances of items getting mixed up when the packers arrived.

We were up pretty late the night before. I finally cratered out at midnight, and DiploMom was up until around 3 a.m., but we got everything set and were in good shape for the packers. DiploDog got to go hang out in the morning at another apartment with friends from DiploMom’s A100 training class who have two lab puppies.

DiploTot had to miss out on her morning nap, but she was a champ and was able to catch up later in the afternoon.


Leading up to the pack out, we were quite busy getting items for the HHE shipment, that were large, that could not be shipped via air, or that would be more expensive to buy in Guatemala City. Some of the items included a queen mattress and box springs, a Christmas tree, a toy kitchen set and tricycle for DiploTot and several surge protectors/uninterruptible power supplies for the inevitable power issues that could fry computers and TVs. Target should also be quite appreciative for the toiletries that we loaded up with.


We managed to do a really good job of estimating what would fit for our UAB and we ended up with 521 lbs. The rest of our HHE weighed in at 1,385 lbs. These are our four UAB boxes lined up in the hallway.


Now we have the fun of living out of our duffels and luggage until we get to Guatemala City and our UAB arrives. We’re hoping that given the timing of our pack out, that we might not have to wait all that long before they arrive.

Now where is DiploDog in the midst of all of this now that we are en route from D.C.? Well, she’s out at summer camp in the Virginia countryside and will arrive a couple of weeks after we do. She should be enjoying all the outdoor time and the pond swimming. We miss her and will be excited for her to arrive.

DiploDog Obsessions

DiploDog has really enjoyed her time here in Falls Church. Besides getting to go to dog daycare a couple of times a week, she has had more frequent walks, given that the summer here isn’t as brutal as it is Houston. Arriving in the spring also meant we had an abundance of great walking opportunities.

With easy access to neighborhood streets and nearby parks, DiploDog became quite familiar with the new sites and sounds. Then, a couple of months in, we had some new sights – rabbits. This meant DiploDog was even more excited than usual to head out on walks and being on high alert for the rabbits meant she was back to pulling pretty strongly on her leash.

Here she is staring down her prey. If only that pesky leash wasn’t attached.


On a typical stroll up and down the street in the late afternoon/early evening, we can count on spotting at least 3-5 rabbits in various yards. It is safe to say that she is obsessed with looking for the rabbits. It is also interesting to see how the natural instinct of animals that are feeling threatened to remain still really does help. I’ll usually spot the rabbits first and try to get her to see them, and many times it isn’t until one moves a bit that DiploDog then zeroes in.


DiploDog also learned the word rabbit pretty quickly. It wasn’t too long after they started coming out that the mere mention of the word while walking would set her into high alert, with her head scanning back and forth and ears perked up. I’m not sure what will fascinate her down in Guatemala City, but she has certainly found rabbits way more exciting than those boring ol’ squirrels.

Treasure Hunting

The State Department maintains a massive storage facility for all the furniture and possessions that employees do not ship to overseas posts. The housing at most posts is furnished and leased by the government. Guatemala City is one of a few posts, however, where officers have to find their own housing, which will typically be unfurnished, and the rental costs are then covered by a determined living quarters allowance (LQA).

We recently had the opportunity to travel out to the facility to review what we are selecting to ship to Guatemala and what will stay behind, based on the inventory we received from the moving companies that boxed and handled all of our furniture out of Houston.

When we arrived, six huge crates had been pulled out and arranged for us to review.


It was comforting to actually see all of our stuff again, since the last time was when the 18-wheeler headed out from our house and this whole adventure kicked off. As much as we never really worried much about all the items we didn’t have with us in the apartment, this gave us an improved sense of confidence that our stuff is actually going to make it to post.


It isn’t absolutely necessary to travel out to the facility since we have an inventory of our items and can simply tell them what to ship, but we were able to resolve a few questions that we had over how the movers had identified several boxes and items. And we were able to reconfirm that the boxes we had always planned to leave behind should still stay in storage. This also isn’t a time that we can go around opening boxes and searching for the random book or other item that we wished we wouldn’t have packed away.

We can ask that certain inventory items can be pulled for us to take, which was the main reason that we traveled out to the facility. Since I drove our Yukon up to Virginia, I needed all the space possible, so I had to pull the third row seats and have them packed up with all of our other household effects. We always figured we would need to get these when we decided to sell our car to a place like CarMax, but we didn’t really know if it would make that much of a difference in what we could sell the car for to justify having to go through the process of getting to the storage facility.

Well, the difference between the quote without the third row and with the third row was a not so paltry sum $1,000, so it was most decidedly in our interest to get the seats pulled from storage!


The seats are back and now I am set to sell the car at CarMax on Saturday. The staff at the storage facility were so friendly and helpful, which made the whole process so much less stressful.



Happy Independence Day

DipoTot is decked out in her July 4th finest and ready to celebrate.


I’ve always enjoyed this quote from John Adams now-famous letter to his wife Abigail after independence was declared by Congress, albeit a couple of days before the July 4th date on the Declaration of Independence.

The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epocha in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forevermore.

Photo Updates

Here are some recent photos of DiploTot enjoying her books and her tunnel.



The World Was II Memorial on a beautiful Saturday afternoon.


Enjoying the view from the P.O.V. Roof Terrace at the W Hotel, home to the most expensive beer, sangria and calamari that we will likely ever have.



Diplomatic Passports


Our diplomatic passports have arrived and needless to say we are quite excited. Although this is a small part in the overall picture of getting ready to move to Guatemala City, I have to confess to a certain geeky excitement about arriving at post and presenting this passport instead of my tourist passport.

DiploDog Impressions


In our time here at The Oakwood over these past three months, I’ve come to some conclusions about the impressions that a lot of people seem to have upon meeting DiploDog. Most of these interactions occur in or around the elevators as I am taking her out to do her business (can’t wait to hopefully have a yard again), or on our way out for a walk or to go play with her canine friends at dog daycare. A lot of people ask how old she is, and seem a bit surprised when I say she is 3.5 years old, or they will refer to her as a puppy. DiploDog is a bit smaller for a Lab, but at around 60 lbs, she is still a pretty decent size. It is always a bit fun to be able to surprise people with my answer.

The other conclusion I have come to is that a decent number of people think that the Gentle Leader collar that we use on her is some type of muzzle, with the requisite assumption that perhaps DiploDog might be a bit aggressive or snappy, which is a complete 180 from her temperament. Far fewer people ask about the collar, but those that have have been universal is saying they thought it was a muzzle.

I think this helps explain the one extreme reaction we had from a man as we were getting off the elevator a few months back. As the elevator doors opened and we headed out, he jumped back when he saw DiploDog and then actually ran away down the hallway. Needless to say we were quite surprised by his reaction, while simultaneously doing our best to contain our laughter. At the time I thought this poor guy must be having a rough go of it, given the number of dogs around here, but now I suspect he saw the Gentle Leader, thought it was a muzzle, and assumed she was aggressive.

The most classic Gentle Leader comment came from a little girl at the park who asked us why our dog was equipped like a horse. We found this a hilarious and also a very insightful observation on her part, as the leader does look very similar to a bridle that would be guiding a horse.