Sunday, January 30, 2011

Olivia's Dance Recital

Saturday evening Olivia preformed in a dance recital.  She was very excited to get up and dance for everyone.  That is one thing about Olivia, she is not shy and extremely outgoing. 

At dress rehearsal, striking a pose just like the big girls. 

On Stage Dancing:

Friday, January 28, 2011

Books in the Foreign Service

My family and I are avid readers.  It's a small fact that I'm rather grateful for.  There is nothing like opening a good book and enveloping yourself in a new adventure.  After a recently library withdrawal, I realized that I might not have the book opportunities in another country that I'm used to.  

I have several FS families that I email when I have questions about Foreign Service life.  I am very grateful for their time to answer my questions, especially considering the fact that my husband hasn't taken the test yet.

What is the book situation like in your country? Do you use up some of your weight allowance and ship books, gone to digital, use a local library or purchase through online stores?

Their responses:

"The answer is it all depends.  In Manila there was no library.  There was a pretty weak library run by the American Recreation Club that had old John Grisham books and stuff but for the most part, nada.  We went to the book store and daughter's preschool had scholastic book club so we would always order a ton.  

My husband has a kindle and I am huge fan.  No book weight (except our kid's books).

So the answer really is it depends on where you go but I am willing to bet pretty much all of the third world it is not an option and the first world is probably not in English.  Maybe Canada but who wants to go to Canada?

Amazon prime is your friend and some people do a book exchanging system through the mail (we didn't)."

"This is a great question.  Books are indeed a problem.  For the children, we end up buying a lot, A LOT of books.  I hate to deprive them and the library options are limited -- usually attached to the English speaking school.  But, book weight adds up fast.  So, to compensate, my husband and I have had to get creative with our own reading.  We buy books from discount suppliers (so we don't mind purging when we're done) or borrow/trade with friends or try what's in the Embassy lending libraries or just go without.  We've talked endlessly about getting a Kindle and we may go that route before our next overseas post, we'll have to see.   I don't think you save money with a Kindle, in the long run, but you do save on weight, which has become the priority.  

We have lots of books in storage and I miss them.  But, my sacrifice is the childrens' gain.  I want to encourage reading, of course, but you have to be realistic about collecting and buying books because, as you know, they are very expensive.  We buy lots of bargain books we might not otherwise own, but when it comes to kids books sometimes quantity is equally if not more important that quality.  Not everyone we know in the FS feels this way, but it is really important to us so we forego bringing other things overseas in favor of more books."

"Books are actually one of the hardest things about living overseas for me. I'm a avid reader, like you, and if I could, would probably read about 40 books a year. I'm lucky to have my Mom and my cousin to send me books, but even then it's not enough. I also get books at the Embassy library, but it's limited. I end up buying them or borrowing from friends. Now that we're moving home, one of the most exciting things for me is having a library again. A few friends have joined, but not everyone on there is willing to ship to our overseas address."

"Most of our books either come from Kindle, Amazon or from local bookstores.  I have always loved libraries too, and used to take our daughter twice a week to storytimes and for new books.  That is definitely a downside of our post in Manila.  There are no libraries here, but I don't think that's true for all posts.  Actually, there is a tiny library at the American compound, but I'd hardly call it a "library."  It's more of a book graveyard for people who are leaving post. Also, most people I've met here are big readers, so we swap books regularly.

I've heard of online book swap websites that you might want to check out: Paperback Swap and Bookmooch"

"As for libraries: Some countries have library systems, or at least big city libraries, similar to in the U.S. (There was one in Port of Spain, but I never went there, in part because it was in an area of town that wasn't the safest. Part of the reason, though, is that I have TONS of books I've been carting around waiting to read, and I got a little caught up on those.)

The biggest source of English-language books for you overseas, though, will probably be the American or international school. (Do you homeschool? I can't remember. Even if you do, you probably could work out some kind of arrangement with the school most of the embassy kids attend.) In Port of Spain, we would get regular updates on the books the school library was getting, and they were current and sounded interesting.
Most posts also have lending libraries -- many of them informal in a "take what you want, donate what you don't want" sort of way -- in the embassy Community Liaison Office. These differ a lot in size and quality, of course. Here in Milan, there are regular shipments of recently released paperbacks. I think they're for the Marines, but we all have access to them.

I don't know what your weight situation is in regards to the things you're planning on carrying around the world with you, but you might want to consider an e-reader. My husband has a Kindle, and I'm hoping that reduces the amount of books we're constantly acquiring. I love books, but they're heavy, and we also usually end of with boxes of them that don't ever make it into bookcases."

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

About where I Live

This post is mainly for my penpals.

First a map of the United States of America with the State of Utah in red.

On this map you will see Salt Lake City (main subject of the first video) and Provo (second video).  Eagle Mountain City is located, according to this map, on the left side of Utah Lake.

Salt Lake City is where I grew up and where I lived up until 2 years ago.  In the video it pictures the Salt Lake Temple, I was married there.

This next video is about where I live currently, or in the general area.   Utah Valley is about 30 minutes south of Salt Lake City.

This is what Eagle Mountain looks like.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

To Eat

Just a few photos from our week:

The Love Bugs have left treats once again at our house.  This time yummy heart shaped cakes for the girls.  Olivia is loving this new tradition and has told visitors more than once about the Love Bugs.

I remember when Olivia was roughly 15 months, she would also dip everything she ate.  Dipping Milestone!  Today Lucy was dipping her dill pickle in sour cream.  Not something that I would find pleasing but if it makes her happy!

Since I had the camera out, Olivia asked me to take a picture of her eating.  So here you go, a picture of Olivia eating.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


I am doing a giveaway on my other blog this week.  Please go over and enter.  I would love to give this away to one of you!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Love Bugs

Today we have a visit from the Love Bugs.  They have come to stay at our house until Valentine's Day.  We're very excited to have these little visitors and the treats they leave behind.

Olivia was super excited when she found their note.

As a way to say thank you and welcome to our home we created a house for them to stay in.  Olivia said she wanted to make one that sparkles.  

We'll see if they reply back in a few days!  :)

I found the idea here.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Meet Rhoda

Olivia loves the doll that we gave her for Christmas.  Often she will tell me it is her best toy.  Soon after Christmas we asked her what she wanted to name her doll.  Her reply, Rhoda after her great-great-great grandmother.

If you are ever a new visitor to our home, she will quickly show you this picture on the wall and precede to tell you, "This is my great-great-great grandmother.  She was a pioneer and walked across the plains!"

Rhoda Jane Bone Blamires  A Utah Pioneer- walked across the plains at age 3.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Growing Up

Recently Lucy decided she no longer wants to sit in her high chair and would rather sit up at the table.  She has also decided she needed to use a spoon at every meal.  She is actually very good at scooping up food and getting it in her mouth.  Not bad for a 14 month old!

Ladybugs and Pink Poodles

I have been cleaning out all of our old clothes in storage and came across two costumes.  The girls immediately thought it would be super fun to play in them.  Even though the poodle costume is a little short on Olivia.  The simple pleasures of childhood!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Preparation or Disappointment

Since August when we made the decision to pursue the Foreign Service, my spare time has been diligently used to read numerous blog written by FS trailing spouses, read books covering the subject or simply thinking about what I need to do to prepare.

The Foreign Service is constantly in my thoughts right now.  I could be bathing my children and think about how I would like to purchase new linens to take with us.  It has effected the way I purchase things, which this could be for the good.  I don't want to make anymore major purchases or anything for the house for the simple thought that if we are moving to a another country do I really want to take this with me. Olivia is needing a new bed this year.  She has nearly outgrown her toddler bed.  But I don't want to purchase a bedroom set when there should be one provided with housing.  I will purchase bedding but then I think what if my girls end up sharing a room, should I purchase a matching set for Lucy?

This behavior is very typical for me.  I love to plan and prepare and too often I get myself caught up in a life that may not be.  And when that comes to a realization, in this case it could be Eduardo not passing the test or they may not like him at the interview, it will be a severe disappointment to me.  A disappointment that will practically immobilize me for weeks.

Perhaps it is having something to look forward to (travel, learning a new language, experiencing new cultures) that causes me to act the way I do.  I simply can't help it!

I am not counting on the FS being the life for us, but I certainly hope it is.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Test date

The invitation to take the FSOT came today!  Invites started going out at the beginning of the week and here it is Thursday, I was getting a little nervous!  I'm thankful for this first step towards the FS.

Test date is Friday, February 11th!

Mish Mash of Life

I'm going to attempt to write this.  With my slow internet connections, I can't guarantee anything.  Of course, if you are reading this than it means that I got it to work.

Life around the Montero's has been tiring.  This week I finally got up the nerve to start to wean Lucy.  I'm starting with daytime feedings and hope to have her completely weaned by the end of the month.  She is actually doing very well. Terrific in fact with no tears or whining.  The whining comes later in the day or rather all day.  There has been something about this past week that has my girls acting out and whining.  I'm pretty sure we all have cabin fever (meaning we're tired of being cooped up inside the house).

Cabin fever, then we should just get out of the house right?  Well if it was that simple then I would.  Honestly with the frigid temperatures and the ice that refuses to melt, I have no desire to leave the house.  The walk from the house to the mailbox is enough for me most days and with that I even complain of how cold it is.

So we're keeping busy by deep cleaning the house.  There is something about the new year that always makes me want to scrub every inch of my house, go through every box and get rid of anything that I haven't touched in the last month.  I'm making steady progress with completing my office, all the hall areas (4), laundry room and started this week on the master bathroom.  My goal is to have it finished by the end of the year but at this rate I'll have it finished long before that!

Change is coming with my church callings which I am grateful for.  As soon as I have been sustained I'll share it here.

I am taking the opportunity to learn to crochet from my mom.  She makes beautiful pieces!  I don't necessarily want to be as good as she but I would like to actually make something.  I've started a scarf that I would like to finish by the end of the year :).

Olivia has been extra sensitive of late over a variety of things.  A few days ago we learned that her Abuela (grandmother) fell on some ice and injured her elbow.  Enough so, that she has to go through physical therapy to help heal.  We told Olivia who immediately broke down into tears.  She was so upset that her Abuela was hurt.  After drawing a lovely picture and sending a get well card she did much better.

We have been talking about Penguins in our little home preschool.  Today we watched "March of the Penguins" which we both really enjoyed.  Although there is a part where a seal catches a mama penguin to eat.  Olivia started to bawl and in huge sobs was crying out for the poor penguin.  The sobs continued through the baby penguin chicks who had died in the blizzard.

Lucy is talking a lot.  She will copy almost anything that you say and has a fondness of B words.  Today while looking at the "March of the Penguins" dvd case she said penguin.  She will be having a full conversation with Olivia before I know it!

We'll find out the end of the month if Olivia qualifies for the free speech therapy program at the public elementary school.  With the fear of her falling through the cracks I'm also looking into other options.

Olivia is fascinated with anything Spanish right now.  She only wants to read books in Spanish (a task given to Eduardo) and will only watch shows in Spanish (thankfully I convinced her to watch "March of the Penguins" in English today).  She talks about how her dad speaks Spanish and that she wants to learn.  Concerned with her stuttering I asked the speech teacher if it was a good idea for her to learn Spanish or if it would cause any problems to her therapy.  We got the go a head and hopefully Eduardo will really start to teach her.  There is a Spanish immersion preschool that I would love to send her to but it's simply not in the budget.

So that has been life around here since the new year.  Hopefully in the next week or two I'll have a new internet service provided with better speeds.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Hoping to Test soon

So my sweetheart has been studying for the FSOT for months now.  Every day he reads the current events, glances at the maps hanging in our office and studies either American History, English,or Economics.  This month the plan is to take some timed essays and have someone look over his written work.

This week invitations to take the test will be going out.  His career track is Consular so they will be the third group to receive an invitation.  I would honestly be surprised if he didn't get an invitation simply because he has been invited once in the past before he had graduated.  Hopefully the State Department still likes him.

In little over a month we'll find out if he passed the test and if he'll be invited to continue on this process.

What have I thought about the process so far?  I hate that he's studying all the time.  I know that it will pay off in the end but at the same time I like being able to do things with him in the evenings after our children have gone to bed.  In the mean time I have been lurking at multiple FS blogs, reading about their adventures and getting excited to experience new things.  I will be disappointed if this path doesn't work out for us.  I naturally always go over board with thinking about how things could be.  I plan, read and mentally prepare myself but with that comes huge depressing disappointment.

Come what may and love it!


Slow.  That is what my internet is these days.  Honestly too slow to upload photos.  Most days I can't even get on the internet.  In the next few weeks, hopefully I'll be finding some new internet.   Until then......