A New Lease On Life

After spending our first two-and-a-half months in a one bedroom apartment, we were finally offered the opportunity to move into a two bedroom. While we only have about 5 weeks or so until we will be moving out, we decided we would be stupid to pass up the chance to get this space upgrade, so we spent part of Saturday and most of Sunday moving our stuff into our new place. I think the fact that we even debated whether or not to move is a testament to how well we adjusted to living in a one bedroom with a baby. The inconveniences just seemed normal.

Thankfully we just moved up a few floors in the same building. If we would have had to change buildings, we most likely would have stuck with our one bedroom. Now that we are settled into the two bedroom, I can’t believe we even hesitated. Now that DiploTot has her own room, we are sleeping better and are enjoying the flexibility that comes with not being so restricted whenever she is napping or asleep at night. No more brushing my teeth and taking out my contacts in the kitchen every night. No more creeping through the bedroom to get to the bathroom, worrying about waking her up or having to delay showers until she was up. The mere fact that we can do laundry now whenever we want hopefully means an end to having to get it all done on the weekend.

We very well may be back in a one bedroom in Guatemala City during the estimated two months it will take to get our permanent housing sorted out, so we are going to enjoy our extra space and freedom, even if only for a short period of time.

Middleburg

After swinging by Club Pet to check out the facility that is likely going to board and then handle the shipping/customs paperwork to get DiploDog down to Guatemala City, we kept heading west towards Middleburg, where we stopped in for a nice visit at a kid and pet friendly winery – Chrysalis Vineyards. It was a fairly warm day, but it felt pretty good in the shade where we enjoyed our lunch, followed by a refreshing Chardonnay.

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Quintessential DiploTot right here.

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Exploring

We were able to do a good bit of exploring over the beautiful Memorial Day weekend. On Saturday, we loaded up and drove further into Arlington to find the Shirlington dog park. We have a nice little dog park within walking distance from the Oakwood that serves as a great way to help DiploDog get some of her energy out, but it is relatively small. The draw of Shirlington is that it is bigger and there is access to a creek where the dogs can romp. The creek area isn’t officially part of the park, but there are gates that allow access down the banks to the water.

It has been quite some time since DiploDog has been able to get in the water, so needless to say, she was quite excited. I was a bit concerned that I wouldn’t be able to get her to come out, but I was eventually able to lure her back to the shore. The water was fairly shallow, so while it was no Millie Bush dog park back in Houston, with its two big swimming ponds, it was still a great opportunity for some fetching and romping. When we finished up we walked over to a nearby restaurant center that is dog-friendly and has plenty of options with outdoor seating and even water bowls for all the canine visitors.

On Sunday, DiploDog got to go for a weekend visit to dog daycare and the rest of us loaded up in the car and headed up to Harpers Ferry, West Virginia. The town is located at the confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers where Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia meet. The town and surrounding areas are part of the National Park Service. It was a beautiful setting and the weather was perfect for taking in the sights.

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We are very pleased that DiploTot is so content to be carried around in the Ergobaby. This thing is a total lifesaver as a stroller would not have been well suited to the area.

On Sunday we met up with folks from DiploMom’s A-100 class for a picnic in Rock Creek Park in D.C. There aren’t any Metro stops all that close to the park, so we had to drive into town, which wasn’t as complicated as we anticipated, save for some confusion on our way out. It’s quite a gem of a park.

DiploMom is now back to her consular training class this week and I’ll be headed to the pediatrician for DiploTot’s nine month checkup. She has only woken up once these past couple of nights, so we are hoping this is going to become the new normal.

Car Shopping

One of many things we had to decide on before heading to Guatemala City was what we wanted to do about a car. We are going to sell our current car before leaving, as it has quite a few miles on it and it is much easier getting a Toyota, Honda, or a Hyundai serviced overseas than a GMC. Knowing we were going to sell meant we had to find something here before we left, or wait until we arrived to buy something locally. We are able to have a car shipped over which is great, but this process can take a while and the car is usually held for up for 6 weeks before it can be cleared.

Given this process, DiploMom did some digging around in the Guatemala City Embassy newsletter and found a listing for a 2003 Hyundai Santa Fe, but unfortunately, it was a manual transmission and there was no way either of us was going to learn to drive a stick in a foreign country. We always used to joke that if we ever got on The Amazing Race, that a manual transmission would have been our Achilles’ heal. She asked the contact if she knew of anyone else at the embassy selling a car and we were pointed to another Santa Fe.

This one was a 2008 with just 47,000 miles and an excellent price – much less than what we were turning up on AutoTrader for similar year/mileage RAV 4s, CRVs, and Santa Fes. Long story short is that we decided to buy the car and I wired the payment on Monday. It was a weird feeling essentially buying the car site unseen, save for the pictures the seller emailed to us, but we are realizing this is pretty typical for State Department staff heading to and from posts.

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The seller is leaving Guatemala City at the end of May, but her boyfriend is going to be able to keep the car for us until we arrive. In the meantime, local paperwork for the transfer will be handled so that the car will be ready for us as soon as we arrive. No waiting around for a month or more for the car to get cleared, which will be just great. We always assumed that whatever car we ended up with at post would be sold when our tour finished, but given the mileage and features on this Santa Fe, it may just leave the country with us when we come to the end of our time.

Seven Corners

We are really pleased with our location in Falls Church. We have easy walking access to several parks and have been getting out on most days with DiploTot and DiploDog. Our location also places us near lots of restaurants and retail stores which is very convenient for groceries and runs to Target. The only downside is that to get to most of these places, we have to go through Seven Corners.

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I have no idea how so many roads ended up converging here, but needless to say, it can be quite a mess. This intersection was the cause of a few meltdowns and less than exemplary behavior on my part when we were first getting settled in to the area. The stresses of moving across the country into a one bedroom apartment with a baby and dog, no problem. Navigating Seven Corners those first few weeks, not one of my finest moments.

We are now pros at getting where we need to go and have managed to figure out a few shortcuts that can help a lot. I’m sure when we are navigating the streets in Guatemala City, we’ll look back and laugh at how we actually thought Seven Corners was stressful.