My Adventures as a U.S. Diplomat and Family Man

First Stop: Tel Aviv, Israel (July 2012)!

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Top 13 of 2013

What a year 2013 has been! It was our first full year living in Israel and we were able to enjoy the settled in feeling both at work and school. We also took advantage of many great travel opportunities in Israel and abroad. Here is a short rundown of the best of the best (with a few accompanying pictures) according to each member of the household.

13) Fancy hotel in Eilat (DiploBoy)- The kids weren't big fans of DiploDad's road trips but they did enjoy the destinations, especially the hotels he picked out. We splashed down on a four-star hotel when we went to Eilat in November. The hotel featured a jungle-themed swimming pool with a moat and a corkscrew water slide. DiploBoy also was fond of the video game room in the hotel lobby.

12) Star Wars Legos (DiploBoy)- Legos continue to be all the rage in this household. They've dominated the Christmas wish list for the past two years. Thankfully, Santa has come through big time (with a little help from DPO) in delivering the kids favorite Star Wars lego sets.

11) Birthday parties (DiploBoy)- Kids have a spoiled life here and parents do their fair share in spoiling them with extravagant birthday parties. Our checkbook was thankful that DiploBoy was content with a sleepover in April. Three of his best buddies came over for the hedonistic yet economical birthday bash.  DiploBoy was also invited to many birthday parties himself, including one at a mansion.

10) Riding camel in Petra (DiploBrother)- This is one of those once-in-a-lifetime experiences. Something tells me it won't be the first and last time for this jet-setting five-year-old. Our camel ride in Petra, Jordan in November was a highlight for the whole family!

9) Pajama party at school (DiploBrother)- Many parents don't exactly know what transpired at this party on the last day of the semester but something tells us it wasn't the most rigorous day of academic learning. I'm thinking the Embassy should do something similar.  

8) Preschool graduation (DiploBrother)- The younger sibling was oozing pride at this celebration back in May. His teachers noted his calm demeanor and adherence to class rules, and duly predicted that he would become a future Supreme Court justice.

7) Golan steaks (DiploMom)- Finally, a food experience cracks the list! There were actually many culinary highlights over the past year but one of the most tasty meals was at a steakhouse way up in the northernmost nook of Israel back in September. The bovine was divine!

6) Mom's visit (DiploMom)- The two-week visit in November was packed and went by oh-so-quickly. One of the highlights was a 4x4 jeep tour in the spectacular desert landscape of Wadi Rum, Jordan. There were a few bumps in the road (when there was one) both literally a figuratively but this visit meant a lot for all of us.

5) Seeing President Obama (DiploMom)- During the President's official visit in March, he took the time for an informal meet-and-greet of mission employees and family. DiploMom couldn't get close enough for a handshake but it was an unforgettable experience nevertheless.

4) R&R in Colorado (DiploDad)- We only had two weeks of vacation this past summer but we made the most of it. My parents graciously hosted us one of the weeks at this lake house in Grand Lake, Colorado. We also got our fill of Mexican food and shopping and were able to make a brief stopover in Raleigh to see more family.

3) Celebrating Sukkot (DiploDad)- One of things I will miss most from of our time in Israel are the festive Jewish holidays. The seven-day holiday holiday of sukkot is marked by gatherings in makeshift outdoor structures. In September I was on two occasions the invited guest of Israelis who embody the country's religious and political diversity.

2) Israeli Elections (DiploDad)- Reporting on the campaigns and January 22 elections were the ultimate for a political junkie like me. I relished this role and really made my mark on a series of cables that I produced. I couldn't think of a better start for my Foreign Service career.

1) Nimrod's Castle (DiploDad)- This wasn't the best thing from the last year but it was the first. Why not highlight the memorable trip to the Golan Heights that ushered in 2013? We spent New Year's Day exploring the ruins of this old Crusader-era castle on a picture perfect day.    

So, there's our baker's dozen from 2013. It was an amazing year on so many levels. It's hard to think that 2014 could top it but who knows. Happy New Year!

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