Saturday, September 28, 2013


I am off to Africa. My flight leaves in an hour. I'm still not nervous. Except for the children's schedules which I'm not sure Husband will remember. But he has a cellphone and the children are expert texters.

I'm not sure I will have internet where I'm going, but if they do, you can be sure I'll blog.

Leaving my family for two weeks is not better than a brownie. I miss them already. Good luck, Husband! If I can handle 365 days, you can do two weeks.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Ready, set. . .

I'm packing. Husband is not helping very much. He is not re-folding for me or telling me not to put the shoes on top of my white shirts. To be fair, though, I'm only bringing one white shirt and it's packed in my carry on. I might switch it out, though. Maybe black would be better? I don't know! I'm all stressed about what to wear and what not to wear and if I should bring navy shoes, or maybe just black and white? I don't know! Can you wear white after Labor Day in Africa? Is it a very bad idea to bring white shoes to a place where the roads might not be paved? Are the roads paved where I'm going? And if they're not, can I still take a taxi? These are all questions I have that cannot be answered until I get there, so I think I'm going with the navy shoes. But I can't find my periwinkle shirt and the whole thing might just fall apart without it. So I need to stop blogging and start packing.

OK one more thing about fashion. I bought one of those "security" purses to take on the trip. It has an RFID protecting pocket and the zippers lock and the strap has a steel cable inside. And it is safe and secure, and the very ugliest purse I have ever owned. Somebody please make an attractive and secure handbag that isn't the color of mud and about as aesthetically pleasing as a plastic grocery bag?

Actually, I think the plastic bag might be cuter.

Congress is not getting its act together just as I predicted. But you know what is also not better than a brownie? Killer hornets.

Remember all those stories about the killer bees from Africa? Well, these hornets eat bees and they are every bit as deadly as they look. Their sting apparently feels like a nail driving into your skin and their venom causes your flesh to decay. So far they are mostly in China, but if you want to scare yourself to death, look at the map of where the hornets will eventually live. My only hope is that I will be already dead by the time they get to DC.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

In my defense, I was comatose

So apparently I missed last night which I have very little memory of anyway. I think I went to bed around 7:30. AM. And didn't get up until the next day. It's all a blur, but I did watch a few episodes of Grimm which I am addicted to now. It's a very weird show and I can't stop watching it. Also, did they pick this actor because he sounds so much like Tom Cruise? When he starts sounding Tom-ish, I have to turn it off because I am not a big Tom Cruise fan. But then I forget he sounds so much like him and I start watching again. I do like the actress who plays his girlfriend Juliette. I think she's quite pretty. And I so love Monroe.

We got a list of TDY opportunities today. Some of them require Spanish which I don't have, but some posts are so desparate, they'll take anyone. Like Sana'a. I could go there for four months over Christmas. I jokingly told Husband I was thinking about it and he said hey that's a good idea so we could use the money to go to the wedding. See his nephew is getting married on December 27th and we're not sure we can afford to go. So basically I would go live in a war zone for four months while everyone else spent the money on a family vacation. This does not sound like a fair plan to me. If I am going to Sana'a for four months, I am getting hard wood floors and a trip to the Bahamas, thank you very much.

But I'm not really going to Sana'a. I am however going to sleep. So today, you know what is not better than a brownie? The threat of a government shut down. If congress just once could get their act together and do what they are supposed to do which is make a budget, it would be a miracle and the world would end right at that moment. Congress must sense that since they are doing nothing but arguing the same things they have argued about for years now and will. Not. Compromise! No! Never! So we will probably not get a budget and federal workers and their families will pay again for congress' "principals" which as far as I can tell mean "I get what I want and I am never wrong and you are a doofus and evil and must bow to my superiority." Yes, congress is a bunch of 3rd grade playground bullies. May the heavens preserve us from their stupidity. I know, I know, we elected them. But honestly, I only voted for a couple and they seemed like reasonable people at the time. Who are all these crazy people and how do we get rid of them? ah, yes. by voting. Oh well. better luck next time.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Sick night

Sick. Fever. Sore throat. Tired. Husband has a secret stash of Dr. Pepper which he was hiding from me. Discuss.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Xīhóngshì chǎo jīdàn

We had gluten free Chinese food tonight from our favorite place--my stove. You know you are craving Chinese food when you decide to make it yourself. It was just fried rice and Child 2's favorite food besides sushi which is西红柿炒鸡蛋 or Xīhóngshì chǎo jīdàn or œufs sur le plat avec les tomates or تخم مرغ سرخ شده با گوجه فرنگی (گوجه فرنگی). Obviously I can't think of anything to write about so I'm wasting time translating scrambled eggs with tomatoes. It is actually Child 2's ultra-favorite. Whenever someone asks her what her favorite food is, she gives them the Chinese name. Then she just stands there blinking at them like of course her cousins from Utah will understand Mandarin! Then someone translates for her. She doesn't think it odd at all that she loves Chinese food and sushi and bulgogi and that her mom is going on a business trip to Africa. And I love that about her.

This is my week for helping the children with projects. Child 3 is determined to modge podge her Hello Kitty lunchbox of shame which I bought for her on purpose because she first lost her lunch box and then she lost mine. She is not a big Hello Kitty fan. Listen, if there had been a Justin Bieber lunch box, I would have bought her that one. But Hello Kitty was the best I could do. I thought maybe a little embarrassment would help her to find one of the other lunch boxes. But no such luck, so we're going to modge podge it. This is what a modge podge lunchbox looks like for those of you who don't speak "crafty." Hers will be plaid and stripes, but no Beatles.

Modeling Dream Comes True for Karrie Brown, Girl With Down Syndrome

She started a facebook page that showcased her in a different Wet Seal outfit every day.The store caught wind of the page and said if she got 10,000 likes, they would give her the trip of a lifetime. She did and they did. They flew her to LA, sent her to Disneyland, then gussied her up for a photo shoot and she is their newest model. I just have to say--Wet Seal, you are awesome! I knew there was a reason I like your store! I took the girls shopping there on Saturday, and if I had heard about this campaign, I would have bought even more. You are the anit-Abercrombie, so in my book, that make you the tops.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Should I be nervous?

I am going to Africa at the end of the week. Really. For two weeks for work. Unfortunately, I'm not going to the part where you can see elephants on the beach, but I might actually get to see a beach from the window of my hotel room although only at night because I will be working the whole time. However, it should still be a good trip and very exciting because I have never been to Africa. Again, this is not a picture of where I am actually going, but it does look amazing, doesn't it?

I will have one weekend there, and if I survive my trip on "Bob Air," I plan on spending one day in the rain forest canopy looking for monkeys. No, Bob Air is not the real name of the airline, which I will not post at all unless the flight turns out to be smooth and on time and not in the oldest plane ever. I have not heard much good things about flying around Africa and I am really hopeful that none of my flights are "preponed" which is apparently an Indian word for what they do when they decide to leave way earlier than the scheduled departure time without informing you. This is a thing in Africa, I am told. We'll see. In any case, it will be an adventure--especially for the children because Husband will be on his own and in charge of dinner, laundry, homework, etc for two weeks. However long it is, it won't be as long as the 369 bad days when he was in Afghanistan.

Winning an Emmy has got to be better than a brownie, and Merritt Wever won one tonight, much to her surprise.

First, I gotta say I LOVE her dress. I may steal that look for the next Marine Corps ball I go to. And second, this was her Emmy speech: Thank you so much. I gotta go. Bye.

I'm guessing she was a little nervous, but she may become and awards ceremony icon with that one. Congratulations, Merritt! And seriously, where did you get that dress, and does it come in my size?

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Maybe if I squint. . .

It is game day and I have a migraine. This is completely unfair because it is THE game. And I want to watch. So maybe if we turn off the sound--that still won't block out the yelling. You would think I would have learned to not yell when I have a migraine, but it is THE game, and it might just not be possible, especially since we are losing.

You see, I love football. I love football so much that I can't watch it any more. I get too invested and become a crazy person and almost go into labor, which is quite a trick since I last was pregnant 11 years ago. So I stopped following football years ago. It was just safer for all concerned. And then we went overseas and it was harder to find a way to watch, and then there was the whole year of being sick while Husband was in Afghanistan and we didn't watch much of anything but Netflix that year. So now I am watching THE game with a migraine and ow. But we're inside the 20 and we have to score!

Paying for parking with these might be better than a brownie.

Apparently, a company in England has been accepting horse chestnut seeds in lieu of cash for parking. To promote environmental protection. I'm not sure how that works. But OK! I hope they figure out what to do with all the chestnuts because they've collected over 1,500. They did have to remind people that they couldn't pay with nuts in automated machines. Watching someone try to shove a nut in a coin slot would be better than a brownie, but only if you're not in line behind them.

Friday, September 20, 2013

The longest week ever

I came out of the war between the offices almost unscathed, except, somehow this week I scraped all the skin off my knee without knowing how. But anyway, I think I handled the drama well, however now I am too tired to blog. I really need a weekend of rest, starting tonight. So discuss among yourselves whether this picture is better than a brownie.

Obviously this is not the family photo they were going for and my heart stopped when I saw it, but apparently the baby is OK. So, brownie worthy or not? I can't decide.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Parent Humiliation Night

Tonight was back to school night at the high school but this time, Husband was here so we split up the duty of getting lost and wandering around in the halls trying to find T-5 only to realize it was outside the school. The school is a rabbit warren and the poor British woman who just moved to the US was thoroughly confused about the whole process and I think I may have accidentally sent her to Cuba when I gave her directions to the gym. She was also very amused by the American flags in every classroom. Apparently that is not a "thing" in other countries, especially those who used to colonize us.

I also had a really nice cab driver today who took me around to various embassies because I needed visas. He was a Redskins fan, which I normally try to ignore, being a loyal Cowboys fan myself. But we had a really nice chat about awful football team owners and we both agreed that the new stadium in Arlington, Texas is a nice stadium. And that San Antonio has great restaurants. He made a very tedious task very pleasant, so I gave him a nice tip.

Being stuck down a well for 15 days is not better than a brownie, but that is what happened to a poor woman in China. This is a picture of the well, but that is not her.

Worker reinforces a well in Hainan province of China

Luckily, the well was in a corn field and she had some corn cobs with her when she fell. So she ate those and drank rainwater. Some villagers harvesting corn finally heard her cries for help and she was rescued. I'm just guessing, but I bet she doesn't want to eat any corn for a while.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Whyyyyyy todayyyyyy?

I'm in the middle of a fight between to offices. Child 2 asked if it was like being the referee in a football game between cats and dogs. I said yes, exactly like that, except I am not the referee, I am the ball. I feel beat up, used, and worn out. I may or may not survive. And it won't at all change the fact that I still absolutely love the work I do. I'm just going to avoid a couple of people for a while and hide out in my cubicle. I can do that because I am low on the totem pole and I am good at avoiding people. We'll see if this works. Child 3 says I need some football pads so it won't hurt while I'm getting kicked around. It may come to that. If you see a small woman walking around DC wearing a football uniform, you'll know it's gotten ugly. I won't be smiling like this.

I am tired and exhausted after my very long day. The highlight was lunch with friends who make me laugh. One of them told stories of when people in the third world country she was living in would try to bring a live goat onto the plane by saying it was their hand luggage. It happened multiple times. Apparently goats were very important there. I am still giggling.

You know what is better than a brownie? Witnessing a kid give money back to a blind man who had it stolen from him by someone else. Here is a picture of the kid who works at DQ who looks a little like he could be on Glee.

Joey Prusak (photo: Joey Prusak)

What happened was a regular customer who is blind dropped $20 without knowing it. The woman behind him in line picked it up and put it in her purse. The kid confronted her and told her to give the money back. When she didn't and stormed out of the store, he gave the regular customer $20 out of his own pocket. So to that kid at the DQ in Minnesota, Bravo! And to that woman who took the money, I hope your soul was worth that $20 because surely, if there is a Hell, stealing money from a blind man will send you there pretty quickly.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013


This is not better than a brownie. Brownies cannot make it better. No amount of desserts in the world can erase it. People will try with their casseroles and cakes and pies and assorted gift baskets and flowers, but for 12 families, the world feels like it is ending and it will never be the same.

I am tired of this kind of death and I know this feeling all too well. When I was a teenager, my best friend's father was killed by a disgruntled employee who walked into his former place of work and shot 9 people. I found out by watching the news. I saw the story on TV and I remember saying to my parents that's where "Alison's" dad works. I knew it was not good, and then I saw Alison's mom on camera sobbing uncontrollably. I went into the bathroom and threw up. I feel like that again today.

To the families of all those who were lost, I am so sorry. I hope some day you will find peace. And to my children, I hope that by the time you are my age, this sort of evil will no longer be common. We have to find a solution and quick.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Mais Oui!

Child 3 is studying French. Child 2 is also, but that isn't why we had French food for dinner. We had French food for dinner because I couldn't think of anything to make because I was tired and not feeling well as usual. So of course when you're tired and not feeling well you decide to cook complicated cuisine. Actually, not really. What happened is that I was sitting on the couch looking through cookbooks unable to decide if the children were ready for creamy polenta with poached eggs and asparagus, and Child 3 got out her own cookbook which of course is French because it is based on cuisine from the movie Ratatouille. I love that movie. Love. It. I don't know what it is about a rat cooking and French music that makes a good movie but it does. And also it made my children like eggplant and mushrooms, so voila! One of my favorite movies ever.

So I looked at a couple of recipes and we had all the ingredients for Croque Monsieur, which is a grilled ham and cheese sandwich that you dip in egg batter before frying like French Toast (with gluten-free bread of course.) I guess that's why they call it "French Toast."

So I made them, and Child 1 wrinkled up her nose and said don't put any ham in hers and I said no. This is what we're having for dinner. And it was delicious. Really delicious. It was so delicious, it even made the gluten-free bread taste good which is really saying something. So delicious I forgot I'm not supposed to have cheese. And then I choked and it was not fun and my throat is a little raw. But we will make them again. Maybe next time with tomatoes. (And some soy cheese for me.)

These are better than a brownie. I can't afford them, so I will never have them, just like brownies. But oh, a girl can dream!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

But it was only one!

One piece of chocolate candy corn. One. That's all it takes to make me sick. I'm so mad at myself because I thought just a tiny little bit would be OK and I wasn't even sure if it was real chocolate because it said "chocolate flavoring" but apparently I am also allergic to "chocolate" as well as the real thing and now I am paying for it. Really. It was just a tiny bit! See, it's just a tiny stripe at the edge of the candy. Sometimes I really hate being allergic to chocolate.

Also it didn't help that we watched the Cake Boss tonight and Child 3 said why do we torture ourselves watching a show where everything they make we will never be able to eat? But we liked the show long before we knew we were allergic to wheat and it's habit, I guess.

This dress is not better than a brownie. I'm not sure who from Project Runway designed it, but I certainly hope they got a big "Auf Wiedersehen!" Just exactly what was this challenge? Make a dress that turns a woman into a tree, and make it as ugly as possible? Well then, mission accomplished!


Saturday, September 14, 2013

Fire pit weather!

It was a lovely fall day today so we broke out the fire pit and had foil dinners. The children love foil dinners. I love them because they are easy, and I love the smell of smoke in my food. Also it took away the smell of chocolate chip cookies that permeated the house all day after Child 1 made some. I love the smell, but today, it just reminded me of all the things that I can't eat. So to keep my mind off it, the children turned on Duck Dynasty.

I have to admit that I had resisted watching this show, until Sister-in-Law 3 told me how funny it was, and she was so very right. It is hilarious. I don't know what it is about the show, but that uncle is crazy. Watching him take his brother and sister-in-law on a trip down memory lane that contained no actual memories and a lot of looking at trees that meant nothing was side-splitting. It doesn't make any sense that this is a show, but I'm so glad it is.

But back to fashion. This outfit from NY Fashion Week is not in any way shape or form better than a brownie. I would put it on a par with brussel sprouts which I do not like, no matter how you cook them. I keep trying them thinking this time will be different, but no. I still don't like them, Sam I Am.

Those are the brussel sprouts. This is the outfit that reminds me of them. Awful, no? I get that designers want to be avant garde and that they want to "push the envelope" although I don't know what that means. But at least you shouldn't make your models embarrassed to be photographed. This poor kid looks like he's about to cry. Someone give him a brownie, quick!

Getty Images

Friday, September 13, 2013

The daily grind

The problem with blogging daily is that, well, you have to blog every day. It's good for me though. It keeps me awake past 7 pm because I am telling you, my new job is exhausting. With a capital H. I come home at the end of every day with a headache and so tired that I can hardly move. Tonight, Husband said let's go make dinner and I said what you mean by let's is I should go make dinner and I'm too tired. So I lay there moaning about how much thinking I have to do in my new job, and then Child 3 got so hungry she volunteered to make dinner, so it all worked out very well for me. We had gluten-free pancakes and fried potatoes with bacon for dinner because for some reason, the children think it's a treat to eat breakfast for dinner and it is extremely easy and requires a minimum of work on my part. So yippee for gluten-free pancake mix!

Now, I know you are wondering why I was complaining about thinking in my job and didn't I have to think in my last one? And the answer is yes. I had to think deep thoughts about horrible things and then write about them. And I loved it because I could go at my own pace which meant everyone was happy as long as I was thinking and writing. But in this new job, it's the pace that's killing me. I still have to think deep thoughts, I just have to finish writing about them 10 minutes ago and hurry up because someone is waiting for my paragraph that I haven't even had time to steal from someone else's paper yet. All that cutting and pasting is so hard! OK, not really. It's just the pace again. And I do way more than that which I won't talk about, but again, I have to unravel very tangled threads in minutes, whereas in my previous job, I could take a whole day, even a week if I had to in order to untangle it. One project took a looong time and I think even my supervisor was tired of waiting for me to finish it. But when I did, he loved it. He said it was a masterpiece and he bragged about it to everyone. I enjoyed the being bragged about. But now, in my new job, I don't have a day. I have 5 minutes and hurry up already. It makes my head hurt. Husband says I'll get used to the pace, but I'm no Speed Racer.

I'm more like Miss Daisy.

Getting the windows blown out of the American Consulate in Herat is not better than a brownie. When I saw the news, my heart stopped a little until I remembered Husband was safe in the bowels of the Department and no longer in Afghanistan. But my heart goes out to the families of the Afghans who died and all my friends having bad days because their loved ones are far away in a war zone. May you all find peace today and may peace eventually prevail.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Anybody out there?

I don't think anyone is reading my blog. My two most loyal readers (besides Artemis) were Child 2 and Husband and I know for a fact that Husband isn't reading because he told me and Child 2 did not read last night or she would have gotten the joke I told her during dinner. So in an effort to win back some of my readers, I will try to write more often. Some posts will be short and some will be long. This one will be short. Two important things happened today. First, I discovered that my new office gives people comp time. For those of you who aren't familiar with my lack of leave status due to Husband being gone for a year in Afghanistan and my using up all my leave taking him back and forth to the airport and being sick, you may not know just how important comp time can be to a woman desperate for a vacation but with no vacation days to speak of. I am now a loyal fan of this new office and never, ever want to work anywhere else. That is, until I hit the 15 year mark and start earning more leave per month than I have time to take. Ha ha ha ha ha! I'm cracking myself up. That will never happen.

Then second we had a fire drill. I'm not exactly sure why because no alarm went off and I'm pretty sure most of the building didn't evacuate, but we all practiced what to do in a fire and what I will do in a fire is get lost. No seriously. I got lost--inside the building. Not very good practice for an actual fire I must say. Here is hoping I never have to escape in real life.

You know what is almost as good as a brownie? Butter chicken.

We had some tonight and I ate so much, I think I might be sick. It was so very delicious. Child 1 even asked if we could save some for her to take for lunch tomorrow. So, dinner win! And you know what the best part was? Husband cooked it. That's right. For once, I had a delicious home-cooked meal that I was not in charge of. That is better than brownies.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Is it even possible to hold your breath that long?

I sat down at my desk at 8:00am this morning and when I looked up it was 5pm and it was time to go home and I still had about 30 e-mails in my queue that needed answering and they were all marked URGENT! NOW! ANSWER ME 5 MINUTES AGO ALREADY! It's like if toddlers could type and you got messages that said MOMOMOMOMOMOMOMOM! PLEEEEAAAZZZEE! WHY CAN'T I WATCH TV NOWWWWW?!!!!

I think we need to have a talk about urgent and important. Some things are urgent. Some things are important, and some things are both. That last category is very, very small, however and would include things like a woman in labor or incoming rocket fire or there is a tornado coming fast and you need to get underground. Everything else is usually one or the other, but not both. (Unless you are a teenage girl or a toddler to whom everything is important and urgent. Teenage boys, I understand, find nothing urgent, not even rocket fire, unless it is on a video screen and they are causing it to rain down on their gaming opponents.) I'll give you some real examples, just in case you are confused.

  1. One of your posts overseas has made a bad decision and wants you to fix it before it gets any worse. Now, this might be quite urgent to the post, but if it wasn't important enough to warrant a good decision the first time, why are they so on fire about it now?
  2. Your child has a project due tomorrow and needed poster board a week ago but forgot to tell you. Now it's 10pm and you have to find some pronto. Yes, this is urgent, but I'm going to ask the child the same question of importance as number 1. If it was important, shouldn't you have told me about it a lot sooner?
  3. Your child needs a pie for the bake sale tomorrow. Nope. Neither urgent nor important. If she wants a pie, she can buy one at the grocery store across the street from the school. Go early so you have time to drop it off before class starts.
  4. Your husband is almost blown up by the Taliban in Afghanistan. Important. Extremely important, but no longer urgent because by the time you hear about it, it's all over. However, finding a place to sob about the whole thing in private is very urgent.
  5. Your child needs new shoes for the Homecoming dance. I'm going to go with both urgent and important because, they are shoes! And if you know me, you know I am only joking a little bit. This is why I have a VIP account with Zappos.
  6. Your toddler needs a bathroom. Really urgent and super important. Run. Now! Why are you wasting time reading my blog? You only have seconds to make it! (I have to say I'm so very glad those days are over for us.)
You know what is not better than a brownie? Being hit by a 30 ton boulder. This boulder, to be exact.

This photo released Wednesday Sept. 11, 2013 by Coconino County Sheriff's office shows investigators at the scene of a boulder slide where a Phoenix man was seriously injured while trying to move another boulder. The 27-year-old unidentified man was hospitalized for injuries to his legs and pelvis. (AP Photo/Coconino County Sheriff’s Office)

The man who was hit was working on a road crew near Flagstaff, AZ when the boulder ran down the mountain and jumped him. OK, boulders don't run, they roll, but still, doesn't it seem like it was out to get him? Poor guy. He's in the hospital, but hopefully OK. I hope he's learned his lesson not to anger any big rocks. Seriously bad luck that one.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Well, I guess it's MY job then.

I spent the morning running around the city doing someone else's job. I didn't want to spend all morning running around the city, but since the office whose job it is only does it on every other Thursday during the Moon Festival after the vernal equinox, I had to if I wanted to get it done. Which I did, so I did. I suppose it wasn't all bad because I did get to have a nice conversation/lecture with my cab driver about the ugliness of the new baseball stadium and why skyscrapers are not safe and he won't work in them and why it's important to remember 9/11. And since he was right on all counts and he had seen me trying to catch a cab in vain while he still had a fare and then swung back around to pick me up after he dropped them off because there are never cabs in that part of the city, I gave him a nice tip and it was a much more pleasant morning than it could have been. But still, my job had to wait because that other nameless office won't do theirs. And I am covering for two people who are on TDY (official travel) so I had an entire continent's worth or work waiting for me in the afternoon. So wish I could shunt that off on to another office, but then I am a responsible person, so you know I didn't.

Here is the stadium and you can see it's nothing special. Just glass and steel. It might as well be a mall.

My job today also entailed Back To School Night, or as I like to call it "Please let me dig out my eyeballs with a spoon instead because I hate this rushing around not really meeting the teachers and I would do anything to avoid that school parking lot night." The school pretends it's a way for you to get to know the teachers, but really it's just a whole plan to make the parents feel stupid and get lost wandering around looking for the classes and by the time you find them, the bell has rung and you need to wander around some more looking for the next class. I only missed the first class and made it to most of the rest by cheating and sitting near the door. Husband, on the other hand, miss three because he had to park in England. OK, not England but I swear we walked across three states to get to the car. The school has the worst parking lot ever and we had to climb hills and over gates to get to our car and then some idiot other kid's parent blocked the exit. But we made it through with inches to spare because our car has sonar. I did feel bad for the people lined up behind us who were too scared to try to dodge that humongous and badly-parked SUV and the pole on the other side.

This picture, which was taken by an Italian astronaut in the International Space Station, is better than a brownie and is completely the reason why I want to live on a small Pacific island.

Niau atoll

This is Niau atoll and people actually get to live there and look at that gorgeous blue sea every day. I realize it's very small and lots of people say you would get bored living on a tiny island, but I would like the chance to try it. Just once I would like to be bored and warm and surrounded by beauty with no traffic. But who am I kidding? The Department only ever sends me to big Asian megalopolises. But seriously, one day, if I disappear and no one can find me, I just might be on an atoll in the South Pacific going by the name Stefania. I could pass for Italian in the South Pacific. If there are no Italians there. And they have no internet. And nobody has ever heard of Italy.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Stupid beautiful weather

I am to tired to blog, so this will be rather short. Having dinner with friends you haven't seen in years is better than a brownie. You know what is not better than a brownie? Taking typhoid vaccine at the same time as yellow fever. I did not know this when I told the doctor sure, give me all the shots at once. And also she did not tell me that this is a combination that is guaranteed to make you so sick all weekend that you wish the yellow fever would just kill you and get it over with. Really, the disease has to be incredibly horrible if this is how you feel after the vaccine.

Anyway, my arm still hurts, I am sick to my stomach like I was before I discovered the wheat, and I am exhausted. I am also mad because it was apparently a beautiful weekend, but I wouldn't know because I spent most of it in bed. Except for tonight when seeing our friends again cheered me immensely.

And then to make myself feel better, there is this.

jen wegner notforreuse

Once in 2nd grade, Child 1 drew a picture of her family for school. She replaced Child 2 with a brother and Child 3 with a dog. This is way better because this little brother actually acts like a cat. Adorable. Weird, but really adorable.

Friday, September 6, 2013

A real pain in the arm

My arm has a tropical disease--specifically Yellow Fever since I had to get a vaccine for it yesterday. It is a live vaccine and my arm still hurts a day later and I have a huge welt that is hot and feels like a bee sting. It's painful to touch and rather red. However, this is supposed to be a normal thing and may be because I also got a TDaP booster, something for Meningitis, and am taking typhoid vaccination pills. For the typhoid pills, I got an orange rubber bracelet to remind me to take the pills. I've never gotten free jewelry with a vaccine before. This could be a new trend! But really, for all the pain the yellow fever shot is causing me, I deserve something much better looking than the orange version of a LiveStrong band.

Tonight I listened to a podcast from someone who was part of my past and it reminded me of some things I had forgotten. Here is a list.

  • How annoying that little blinking cursor was in DOS
  • How annoying DOS is. (Although that I kind of remembered because I currently have to regularly use a DOS-based system at work. And yes I realize it is 2013 and no one has used DOS for 20 years, but this is the federal government we are talking about and I am not kidding when I say we have no money.)
  • What it was like to actually dial a phone and have to watch it spin slowly. I hated phone numbers with 9s in them. Thank goodness it was back in the day when phone numbers were only 7 digits!
  • That we used to call the second phone in the house "the extension."
  • How annoying it was when the VCR would eat your tapes. 
  • How even though I can't figure out how to insert pictures into a bullet list, it is still much less of a pain than trying to type footnotes on a typewriter. Especially when this would keep happening.

OK, sometimes we tried to do that on purpose on my grandfather's because it was fun. Shhh. Don't tell him or I'll get in trouble. I kind of wish I had asked for his typewriter when he passed away. But I have his paperweights, and those might even be better.

The situation below is not better than a brownie.

This truck lost control and crashed into a house. Thankfully, no one was in the car parked in the driveway. Imagine that phone call to the insurance company. No, I wasn't driving, I was watching TV and this truck came flying into my living room. No, the car is not driveable. Yes, I will need a rental. And also a big crane to get the truck out of my house.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Pass, pass, fail, what?

I am graded at my job every day. No. I don't mean that the Department has suddenly started giving people scores for how they do their job, although that would be nice because I am an over achiever and that isn't showing up in my EERs. No, I am getting graded on how I wash my hands. By the bathroom sink. Seriously. I know you are wondering just how a bathroom sink can give you a grade, and actually, it doesn't but it will tell you if you pass and therefore everything else is a fail.

See, we have fancy new remodeled bathrooms and they have these high tech faucets that flash words at you while you wash your hands. First, they flash "H2 O" because apparently there aren't enough letters to spell out "water." Then after 10 seconds or so, it flashes "SO AP" and no I don't know why there is a space in the middle. Then it starts counting seconds and when it gets to 15, it flashes H2 O again and you have to quickly stick your hands under the faucet and rinse them for 10 seconds so it will flash PA SS. Otherwise you fail and it starts all over again with H2 O. And here is the sad thing about my life: Not only did I wash my hands over and over again to try to figure out why the faucet was flashing words at me, now that I know it is grading me, I try to make it pass me every time. Yes. I need approval from a faucet.

This picture is better than a brownie. It's a real photograph, I believe, and not a photoshop job.

View image on Twitter

I can only assume she wore the gloves to threaten the photographer. He had better get the picture right or she was going to use those gloves on him so help her! And I bet he told her they wouldn't be in the frame. But I'm only guessing. Maybe she was a famous widow boxer. Or maybe they were her late husband's gloves and she liked the way they smelled of him. Clearly I need sleep because I am losing it.

Monday, September 2, 2013

The Doom Has Come Upon Me

It is that most dreadful of all nights--a school night. Specifically, it is the night before the first day of school and the children are panicking. OK, actually the children are acting as if nothing is different than any other day this summer and they can stay up as long as they want and I am the one who is panicking because who will get the blame tomorrow if they can't find their backpack/lunch box/shoes/picture form? I'll give you a hint. Not Husband. And not The Dog.

Ugh, The Dog is only making trouble today as if she knows something is up. First, she stole my shoe, then she was convinced that the wind is evil and must be stopped which of course she can accomplish by barking at it. Then, I have to get up at 5:30 am and walk her. I hate school mornings because it means the end of my meager sleeping in. That is, if you can call getting up at 6:00 am rather than 5:25 "sleeping in." And I am not a morning person.

You will be happy to know that the straws all made it through the night and the curls turned out very "Merida" like and might even make it until tomorrow. Also, I went to the Mall and all I bought was some mascara and some gluten-free pizza mix. And some maxi-dresses for Child 1, but I don't think that should count, especially since she cleaned out her room (finally!) and handed down a bunch of stuff to Child 2 and some to Child 3 (it has been a long time since she cleaned out her drawers) and gave even more to the thrift store. Child 3 called the hand-me-downs her "pile of awesomeness." Obviously she hasn't experienced enough hand-me-downs in her life. I do not really remember them being so awesome, but then, mine were in the era of polyester and they probably weren't all that awesome to begin with. There was this one shirt with a heart on it that had a jacket sort of attached that I loved that had been my sisters and then this kid in 4th grade spilled green paint all over me and the shirt was completely ruined. I cried.

You know what is almost as good as a brownie? Winning the State Fair Giant Cabbage competition. You know what makes it better than a brownie? Doing it when you're 10 years old. Oh, and it's in Alaska. Here is the winning vegetable.

So congrats, Keevan! That is definitely an accomplishment and thank your boy scout buddies for helping you carry that thing in. It is huge. Now, as a prize, do you get to not eat it?

Sunday, September 1, 2013

When too healthy is a bad thing

I really, really love my daughter. I would die for her. I would gladly step in front of a bullet, or a speeding car, or a zombie in order to save her. This is what I told myself over and over again tonight as I tried for 90 minutes to tie straws in her hair. You may be wondering why I was tying straws in her hair. I blame Disney, Pixar specifically, and Utah women with too much time on their hands.

You see, it all started when we took Child 3 to see Brave last summer which we both just loved. It is a great movie about mother/daughter relationships and about the only Disney movie ever where the child has two loving parents. So it is my fault in that I encouraged her love of this movie. Here is the problem. Merida has beautiful red wildly curly hair. Child 3 has Rapunzel hair. Remember when she grew it out last year to be Rapunzel and then got lice? Yeah, me too. That was not an awesome week. But her hair is still very long and very blonde and very straight. She has Barbie straight hair. She has hair that people pay lots of money and lots of time using styling products to get. It looks like this.

But she wants it to look like this.

I happen to like Merida's hair a lot and think it is more fun. It is much more like Child 1 and Child 2 who both have red curly hair. So when Child 3 discovered a YouTube channel made by a Mom in Utah who is a professional hair dresser who told her she could have Merida hair in 30 minutes, she showed me the video which claims it only takes 30 minutes to tie about 20 straws in her hair to make it go from straight to curly. Ha! It might take a professional hairdresser 30 minutes to tie 20 straws in her daughter's hair, but it took me 90 and I lost count after around 40 straws. Child 3 has a lot of hair.

This woman, who I am rapidly learning to dislike spends a LOT of time filming how to make very complicated arrangements with her daughters' hair. You know those really complicated hairstyles they would wear on Star Trek like this one? 

Well, this woman would say it's a great hairstyle for the first day of school and it will only take you 30 minutes! And Child 3 would believe her and ask me to do it for her.

The straws were extremely slippery, and so is Child 3's hair. There was a lot of yelling--all of it from me at the stupid straws. But I suppose I was only in labor with Child 3 for 6 hours, so this will make up for that being so short. Child 3 got the brilliant idea to use hair spray to make the straws and her hair stickier, so that made the last ones much easier. I really hope they work. Because I love her and I want her to be happy about her hair. We'll see. You see, the thing about beautiful straight hair that people who don't have it don't know is that it is completely unmanageable. Oh, it looks like it is so easy to deal with, and it is if you don't mind it only doing one thing which lie their flat against your head completely straight. If you try to braid it, it slips out. If you put it in a pony tail, eventually the elastic will slip out and fall on the floor and get stepped on. And forget about buns or chignons. Those won't stay in without a mountain of bobby pins and several cans of hair spray. So we make do with leaving it down and straight and people say, oh you have such beautiful shiny hair! And we say thank you and secretly curse it and wish that it would. just. do. something! For once in our life! Child 3 is going to keep trying. And I'll keep helping her because A. I know how it feels and B. I feel guilty because she got the straight hair from me. So really it's my fault. And Disney's.

You know what is better than a brownie? The look on Child 3's face if this whole thing works. I'll let you know if it does.