[First of all, if you haven't yet gotten to read hannah's RoundUp that she posted just a few hours ago, head on over to her blog the slow move east! Also, Connie at the blog Whale Ears and Other Wonderings will be hosting next week's RoundUp, so stay tuned!]
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Sorry for the recent silence. I wrote a post last week that I hesitated to publish, and I'm glad I did, for it was titled "Just Because I'm an EFM Doesn't Mean I'm Stupid!" It was rather... grouchy in tone and spirit... for the multitudinous EFM issues that are out there are... multitudinous... and lend themselves to be spoken of in grouchy tones.
Perhaps someday I will go back and discuss these things in a more rational manner (and then hit "publish"). As it stands, now, though, the topic of the day is again: Language Training. Lucky YOU!
I will never ever ever be able to touch Andy's record of Total Wicked EFM Awesomeness, but I pulled a somewhat Go-EFMs-Rah!-Rah! accomplishment, myself. You see, we recently had our midway-through-Chinese-training Progress Test, and I actually did rather not badly. Which shocked me, actually, because I feel like I can't even speak a single blessed word of this insane language. But evidently I was able to fool a tester in the Chinese Department, for guess which box I got checked on my Progress Test form?
Oh HELLS YEAH, peeps! I gots me the top box checked! And some awesome commentz, to boot!
Since there are actually employees in language right now who haven't been fortunate enough to get the top box checked, I feel that this is at least a small accomplishment for EFMs everywhere, especially since (and this is something I bitched about at length in the aforementioned blog post that will never see the light of day) each and every time I have interacted with ANYONE official from State (outside of the language department at FSI), they have told me (in so many words, and to my face, even!) that I will never pass the final Chinese exam and get my 2.
(I'm not making this up.)
They may well be proven correct in the end, my friends. I have miles to go before the final test, and my classmates and I are now starting to learn all manner of grown-up vocabulary like trade surplus and light industry. It's all headed to the same place - political, economic, military, trade, etc. vocabulary - that, like, educated grownups use in diplomatic environments. I may well prove all the Main State Dwelling folks who doubt I have any chance at getting my 2 correct in the end. Heaven knows a lot of EFMs don't stay very long in the FSI Mandarin program. But some do... and, goshdarnit... I'm one of them, I'm okay today, and that has to count for something.
(And yes, I had the Chinese Department email that Progress Test report far and wide in a sort of in-yer-face! (but not) kind of thing. It's the small joys in life...)
[If I may, I have one small piece of advice for anyone who has just started or who will start Mandarin at FSI in the future: memorize your characters *immediately*. Do NOT get behind in your characters, especially in the Reading textbook. Memorize them the second they are assigned to you. The volume of daily new vocabulary is so impossibly horrific that it is easy to get behind, and if you do, this is the kiss of death. Take the weekend to memorize what you couldn't during the week. If you fall behind in the memorization of the characters, you will end up derailed in Chinese. If you are a spouse, you will drop out. If you are an employee, you will be held back. Progress tests are used as barriers to continuance in the program. Those who do not test well in their progress tests are held back.]
In family newz, the boys are knee-deep in Boy Scouts here. James is an Assistant Scoutmaster now (a long time ago, he was the Scoutmaster of a Troop we helped start in Florida... *sniff*... we miss you guys!!), and the other night my boys got dressed to the nines for a formal Scout program. Matthew got all dolled up in his Eagle Scout finery... it was so cute. Matthew basically looks like a red, white & blue Christmas tree or something. It made for a great picture:
What's nice about our Troop is that a whole lot of folks in the Troop are with State. Those not with State tend to be with other federal agencies, so this lends itself to some great leadership, some great kids, and lots of empathy about frequent family comings and goings.
Also, what other Boy Scout Troops but those in the DC area get to wear patches with Air Force One on them?
Dude. That is AWESOME.
So that's what the boys are doing. As for me, all my spare time goes toward cleaning the house (True story- after coming home every Friday afternoon, after a looooooong week at FSI, I immediately.... SCRUB THE BATHROOM FLOORS! It's a glam life, y'all...) or making the wildlife in my backyard clinically obese. (I get this from my mother, whose housepets tend to be nearly unable to make it through doorways.)
Behold! A normal day's squirrel buffet:
NO I didn't specifically make that macaroni & cheese for the squirrels!!! It was leftover, the boys hadn't eaten it, so it was stale. Better to feed it to the squirrels than throw it away or push it down the garbage disposal. I hate wasting food.
Also, you can't see this in the picture, but the bananas were wayyyyyy past being usable, and please, heaven help me, PLEASE don't anyone tell me to make banana bread from them, for I barely have time to make the macaroni & cheese that my children won't eat. In fact, I think James probably made it. So, basically, you would be telling JAMES to make banana bread with the overripe bananas. Do you really want to do that?
See the piece of macaroni & cheese hanging out the squirrel's mouth? I tell you, stuff like this brings me some of the only glimmers of joy in my pathetic life right now. (All this to say: RUN LIKE HELL FROM BIDDING ON AN SCNL POST.)
This picture makes me happy. Their little hands and feet are so cute!
This picture also makes me happy. There are actually TWO squirrels in this picture!
So, today, the weather here is gorgeous. I will be inside all day, cleaning and doing Chinese, but at least my rental house's windows are open, the shutters are thrown wide, there is a wonderful breeze, and all of this makes me smile. I hope you all have a great weekend!