Wednesday, October 30, 2013


I'm sick. Again. This time it's bronchitis. Or laryngitis, or something with a sore throat itis. It's also Child 3's birthday, poor thing. Happy birthday, Sweetie! Maybe next year I'll feel better.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Biting the bullet

So I did it. I pulled the trigger and went to see the allergist. She is very nice, and I like her. But so far, we still don't know what is making me sick because I am allergic to everything. Yep. I had a reaction to every single thing they tested me for. Every. Single. One.

For those of you keeping track, that includes grass, weeds, trees, dust mites, mold, and cats. Oh, and also dogs. I am allergic to The Dog. Figures. And cockroaches, too, but Husband says that isn't a problem since I'll never get close enough to one to have a reaction. I am very good at running from cockroaches.

But never fear--we are not giving up The Dog. We just have to keep her away from me, which as you know will be really really hard because to The Dog, I am way better than a brownie. You know what is not better than a brownie? Waiting for the blood tests to come back with the food results. So we'll see. Given the results today, I'm not too hopeful that brownies are in my future.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Binge watching

I woke up this morning with a migraine. One of those stay in bed until the hammers stop days, so I took the medicine that makes me woozy and went back to bed for most of the day.

Then when the headache faded, Child 3 and I started catching up on some TV shows that we missed, specifically the first season of Once Upon a Time. It's a confusing show and we missed some episodes and then all last season was a black hole because of Afghanistan and we didn't watch much except TLC. So now we're catching up and the beautiful thing about Netflix and Amazon and subscription services that let you watch shows whenever you want is that you can binge watch them all in a row and you don't even have to wait for the next episode to come on. It's the best invention to ever happen to TV. So we're watching Snow White get framed for murder and it's a lot of fun. Even Child 2 is hooked. It's just too bad we all have to go to work and school tomorrow.

So now I'm going back to bed. Just so you know, frozen gluten-free pumpkin pie is not better than a brownie. Nor is it even as good as real pumpkin pie. I need to figure out the crust thing because the one we tried tonight just won't do.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

We're winners!

Well, third place winners anyway. It was almost a disaster of an evening, but we pulled it out. We tore the house apart looking for all the red, white, and blue decorations I bought last July when they went on sale. But we never found them. I'm sure they are someplace stupid, like with the Christmas stuff and when we find them, we'll have an awesome 4th of July party next year. Or the year after. Or 10 years from now. I'm not certain when or if we will ever fund them. But as you can see, we still managed to pull off an awesome trunk and lots and lots of people were very impressed by the prickly pear, especially when I told them I made it myself.

You can see it in the background, along with Child 1's guitar (which was a brilliant touch of genius) and our Lone Ranger pumpkin, which I think was especially cute. And then some random cowgirl came and stood in the photo. OK, she's not random and she said I could post her picture because the other one has Child 1 in it and I know Child 1 won't ever let me put that up--ever. Anyway, that sculpture was awesome and I can't believe I actually conceived of the project and figured out how to make it and completed it and it looked so cool! I am an artist! And if you know me well, you are laughing because I am so not an artist and it took me hours and hours to cut out and paint the whole thing (with help from Child 2 and 3 whom I made watch hours of Say Yes to the Dress while painting) and then I stuck it all together (with a lot of help from Child 1) with tiny wooden dowels and it all went together and looked totally awesome and we all wore cowboy hats and boots and denim. And so we won third place!

First place went to the Disco family who were all dressed in very shiny clothing, and second went to the Mario Kart car which was really great, too. It was a fun night and we didn't even panic when playing our loud country music ran out the battery on the minivan and Child 1 had to give us a jump start with the cables I bought last spring because I needed a jump start then, too. I think it might be time for a new battery.

First, it's genius because there is no way you are going to get a toddler to carry a flashlight on Halloween, and this way, she is definitely visible in the dark. And second, she's not a princess and won't cry because you make her put a coat on over her costume so no one will see it. Child 3 is going to be a flapper this year and you can bet I'm making her wear a coat. Sorry Sweetie, it's going to be cold and rainy and I just can't risk you catching a cold. Also, if it's raining, the feather boa stays home.  Wet feathers are just sad and extremely unfashionable. Even on Halloween.

Friday, October 25, 2013

I'm fine

I'm not sick. Just up really late painting cactus leaves. Turning cardboard into a prickly pear is not better than a brownie,  but making an art project with your daughters is. Night.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

No, not there

The children practiced stabbing me tonight. No, not with a knife, with my new epi pen. Or actually, the practice one that came with the kit. Apparently when your face swells up after eating pizza, your doctor freaks out a little and makes you carry around epinephrine. And you are no longer allowed to eat pizza even though Domino's said it was gluten free. And you have to take steroids which make you sick to your stomach, but since you're sick all the time anyway, that is not a big deal. The antihistamines are making me tired, though.

The prickly pear sculpture is coming along. We will start painting tomorrow. That's all I have the energy to write. Just so you know, oatmeal is not better than a brownie, and mashed potatoes with salami does not make a good lunch.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

No, not that, too!

I can no longer eat pizza. OK, this might actually be the end of the world. You see, I've been buying gluten-free pizza from Domino's and it's quite delicious and has a thin crust and I buy the veggie one that only has a little feta on it and nothing else. And now I am having one of the worst allergic reactions I have ever had. My lips are swollen and I have a rash all over my face and neck. And it wasn't even chocolate or a brownie! So I took a bunch of Benadryl and now I'm going to bed. At 8 pm. Night.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

More sleep would be better

Today someone offered me an oreo and when I told her I was allergic to both chocolate and wheat, she almost cried. Most women seem to get it. When you tell a man you are allergic to chocolate, he says things like . . . . or oh or there's no chocolate in baseball! When you tell a woman, she says, I think I would want to kill myself. Or that is the worst possible thing to be allergic to. Or Noooooooo! There are still some people who don't get it. I am not friends with these kind of people because we have nothing in common at all. These are the ones who say things like I never really cared for chocolate so I wouldn't miss it. Or you should try carob--I have this great vegan carob cookie recipe. Or there is always white chocolate.

First, let me reiterate that there is no substitute for chocolate. You can make a gingersnap cookie with rice flour and if you put enough ginger in it, it won't taste like rice. But there is no such thing as "chocolate flavoring" without actual chocolate in it. And carob is not chocolate. It will never be chocolate and if you want it to be chocolate, it will fail you miserably. I know because I keep trying it over and over wishing it would somehow turn into chocolate, but it doesn't. This is a picture of carob. Does it look like chocolate to you? No. I thought so and it tastes exactly like it looks--completely icky and not chocolaty in the least.

Also, I can't eat white chocolate either, but I think that is because it always has milk in it. Oh, I also can't eat cheese now either or any dairy products including ice cream and milk shakes. So my only vice left is Fritos, and if someday I turn out to be allergic to those, too, I might just end it all. Now, I'm trying to think if salami and mashed potatoes would be an OK lunch because that is all we have in the house to eat that isn't full of dairy and I'm so very tired of eating rice for lunch. I ate rice pretty much at every meal in Africa and I am a little sick of it but it is the only thing I can be sure doesn't have wheat in it, so I will probably have it for lunch again tomorrow. Unless I can sneak in the kitchen and steal the last of the roast beef. Maybe if I go to bed now, I can be up before everyone else and the roast beef will be mine--all mine! (Maniacal laugh.)

Singing Katy Perry songs with kids at a children's hospital is better than a brownie. Every child needs a chance to roar and how awesome is it that these kids were able to be in a music video? And that girl in the purple T has got moves!

Monday, October 21, 2013

More is better

You will all be happy to know that the Wright Brother's poster project is finished. We (and by we I mean Child 3) used half of a bottle of glue and my fingers are sticky and I fear the carpet will never be the same. And we used a lot of scrapbooking supplies. But hey, it's my carpet and my supplies and I don't really care because we. are. finished. Child 3 says she has more pictures than anyone else in the 6th grade and I told her that is just fine. More is better when it comes to pictures. Not glue, though.

Today I was finally back to work and it was a lot of fun to be back but not so much fun to tackle three weeks of work. Not that I wasn't working when I was in Africa, but I wasn't doing my normal day-to-day stuff and it has piled up considerably. But I managed to chip at the mountain of e-mails and all in all it was an extremely productive day, especially when you consider that I got home later than normal and still made dinner. Salmon and Ratatouille and there isn't even a tiny bit left and it was a big piece of salmon. Child 2 was in charge of dinner, which meant I was the sous chef but still in charge of the kitchen. And I still have my own chore to do. I'm beginning to think that it was not a good idea to put myself on the chart because then I'm "helping" other people do their chores and still have my own. Plus all the parenting and housekeeping stuff I normally do. It's an inherently unfair system we have set up here. Sometimes, when I'm feeling particularly cranky, I go on strike. I tell everyone I quit and then I go to my room and eat chocolate. OK, that is what I used to do because I can't have chocolate any more. Or licorice. So now it's root beer barrels or the maple sugar candy that Sister 2 sent me that I hid from everyone and just finished off last week. But tonight I'm too tired to strike, so I'm just going to bed. Good Night.

But before I do, I have to mention that shopping in WalMart with a alligator on the loose is not better than a brownie. Shoppers were just minding their own business at a store in Florida, when this walked over to the doors. It's about 6 feet long, if you can't tell.

It actually triggered the sliding doors which opened, but quick thinking employees quickly locked them. I have no idea who was outside taking the video, but I certainly hope they had a telephoto lens. I wouldn't want to get too close to that thing. Unless it was made into a purse. Then I might even carry it around, but being chomped while trying to buy school supplies? No thank you.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

First flight

I have mentioned before that the problem with homework is that I still have to do it. When a teacher assigns a sixth grader a project that has to be done at home, that means I will spend all my waking hours in the days before it is due prodding the sixth grader to do it. She will actually do the work, but only if I am sitting there watching her do it reminding her that YouTube is not where she is going to find out information about the Wright Brothers. I now know more than I did before about Kitty Hawk and the Wright Flyer, which I suppose is useful information.

Did you know that NASA has a web site dedicated to the Wright brothers? And that one of them, I think it was Orville, basically founded NASA? Bet you didn't know that unless you actually are a rocket scientist and work at NASA. But why am I learning about lift when I have been out of school for decades? See, this is the problem. I hate projects. I suppose this one is better than the one where we had to make a beluga whale with moving parts that Husband totally failed at helping with and left me the entire thing. But I'm still doing most of the heavy lifting and I'm not a single parent any more and I am still not feeling all that great. (Although a lot better. No fever for days!)

So school projects are not better than a brownie, but perfectly cooked roast beef is which is what we had for dinner, made in my awesome roasting pan with my own home-made seasoning which is completely gluten and wheat free. I have discovered that maltodextrin, although made from wheat, can be processed enough so that it is declared gluten-free, but it is still made from wheat and makes me sick. Sigh. Also, BJ's sells gluten-free roasted chicken which only has salt and spices. Yippee! I knew I loved that store. But back to the roast beef--it was so good tonight that I had not only seconds, but thirds and I swear that if offered a piece of that beef three years ago before I was allergic to chocolate and wheat, I would have picked it over a brownie. It was that good. I must make it again soon. Thank goodness there was enough leftover for lunch tomorrow. I might be addicted.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Mending and sculpting

Some of you may remember from my previous blog that our church does a "Trunk or Treat" party every year. You decorate the trunk of your car and the kids come around and trick or treat to each car. It's really an excuse to eat more Halloween candy, but I'm all in favor of eating as much Halloween candy as possible, especially since you never know when you will become allergic to chocolate and never again be able to eat a Tootsie Roll. Eat it now while you can, people!

Anyway, the first year we were here, we just decorated our trunk with our usual fall/Halloween decorations--you know, sparkly ghost garlands, cute pumpkins, broom parking signs, etc. And we were so wrong we stood out like a sore thumb. Stupid novices, we were. What we didn't realize is that you need a theme to win. So last year, we did Christmas and we decorated our car like the North Pole and dressed up as elves and we totally would have placed if someone else didn't have the same exact idea, which they did. So this year, we are going all out and I am creating an original work of art in the form of a cardboard life-size prickly pear sculpture. Yes, a big, Texas-sized prickly pear and we had better win because I am sick to my stomach still from the Africa stomach disease I brought back, and the smell of permanent marker is making me sick, yet I am still cutting out prickly pear leaves with an exacto knife because we don't have any scissors that can cut through cardboard well. When it is finished, which it will by by Saturday if I have to make Husband stay up all night in order to finish it, (just kidding--it will be Child 1 who does the all-nighter) it will be by far the most original decoration there and if we don't place at least, I will be very, very disappointed. But whatever the case, I will memorialize that sculpture with lots of facebook posts and maybe even a picture on the blog. This is what a prickly pear looks like for those of you who have forgotten.

My Cowboy Grandpa would be proud. He is the one who taught me how to pick and peal prickly pear fruit, which I was really, really tempted to do this summer when we were in Arizona. And just because I'm missing him at this moment, here is a picture of Arizona.

Delivering your own baby on the way to the hospital is definitely not better than a brownie. This woman's mother was driving her to the hospital to deliver when they realized the baby was coming too fast. 

So she took off her pants, leaned her seat back, and caught the baby. I don't even want to imagine what it was like, and I am really, really grateful that I gave birth to all my children in a hospital while under the influence of lots of drugs. Extremely long labors are good for something after all.

Friday, October 18, 2013


We went outside tonight to see the lunar eclipse, but it was really, really hard to see without a telescope. Binoculars didn't work. We thought it would look like this.

But it just looked like a regular moon, which is beautiful anyway, and an autumn walk in the moonlight is never a waste of time.

It was a short walk because I am still sick and every step is actually painful. So is breathing deeply, but I'll get over it. Soon, I hope.

I must be having a need to feel poorly about my cooking skills because we're watching Master Chef Junior. The kids are 8-13 and they all just made layer cakes from scratch. One girl said she made her mom's wedding cake at age 10. She is 12 now and an amazing chef in her own right. I have never made a three-layer cake from scratch with no recipe, let alone while on TV. Plus the chef who usually yells and throws food is really nice to the kids. I'm making Child 3 watch in hopes of inspiring her to make dinner tomorrow on her own tomorrow. I know; I'm an evil parent because she's not yet 11 but hey--if an 8 year old can deep fry sardines, then my 10 year old can make spaghetti. Also, the kids hug each other during elimination which is adorable.

Knocking over rock formations in a state park is not better than a brownie. Not in any way, and the Boy Scout "Leaders" who did it should lose their troops. Honestly, this is behavior we want our kids to model? Destroying 170 million year old structures? And the best part is that they filmed themselves doing it.

Thanks "Leaders"! Now be an example and volunteer for community service, although it's going to be hard to make up for 170 million years of damage. But you could at least try.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Africa hates me

Remember when I said that I almost died the first time I went to Asia because I got some horrible disease and the doctors didn't know what it was and it took me months to recover? Remember?

Well, that's what I caught in Africa. Only this time I knew what it was and so did the doctor. So I am on strong antibiotics and they are sort of working. But I'm still sick. So I'm going to bed with ear plugs because Husband Is watching Modern Family and it hurts to laugh.

Ginger ale for lunch and dinner is fun on occasion, but not better than a brownie.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Leftover Africa

I am sick. I think my stomach stayed behind in Africa on that really bumpy car ride. I can't tell if it's a bug, or just that I ate too much gluten while I was there. I tried really hard not to, but it's not always easy when you're traveling, especially in less developed countries.

So until the room stops spinning, I'm done blogging for today. Just so you know, gluten free soda crackers are definitely not better than a brownie.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Pumpkin patching

Today it was officially fall because we were walking around in the mud in a "pumpkin patch" which cost about $1 million per person and all of DC was there because of the shut-down. It was crowded, but not China crowded, so that was OK. And since we were there with a bunch of friends we served with in China, it was all great fun. Except for the mud. It has been raining here a lot while I was in Africa.

The weird thing about the day, though, is that I was wearing pants that I don't remember. You see, I remember where and when I bought everything in my wardrobe. That blouse? I had it made in Shanghai the first year we were there. Those shoes? Zappos last year. This jacket? LLBean online two years ago and it's too big, which is a good thing. That skirt? Bali in a tourist shop. So you see, there isn't anything I don't remember purchasing because each purchase is deliberate. Except these jeans which I found in the bottom of my drawer this morning and completely do not remember ever buying. They are a brand I never buy because it isn't sold in most of the places I shop. And they have fancy back pockets which you would think I would remember. They fit great, though, so I can only conclude that the Denim Fairy came while I was in Africa and bestowed them on me. Because believe me if I could remember where I bought them I would go get another pair because they look great!

So this is a little bit of what Africa looked like. Just FYI, I went to Nigeria, Ghana, and Togo.

Those are street hawkers and they are all along the roadside selling things like shoe racks (totally not kidding), car parts, books, food of all kinds, drinks, gum. You could shop for almost everything on your way home from work without ever getting out of your car.

I really did see monkeys. And below is what passes for a road in Africa which most people would call a bunch of muddy rocks and holes. I can see why the Department suggests that people bring SUVs to Africa and why the cars need stove-pipes.

It was an awesome trip and my favorite part was that dinner in Togo when half the people there had read my 365 bad days blog and one girl told me she was a little star struck. Only in the department could you find people in Togo who read your blog. It's an awesome life and now I totally want to bid on small African posts--but then I always have. And to my new friends in Togo, I have never had so much fun at a dinner where I didn't know anyone, and thanks for making me feel welcome.

And finally, having a daughter who makes snarky comments in response to dumb radio adds is better than a brownie. I know I should probably not encourage the snark, but how can I not love it when Child 1 laughs and says Mom I get it from you! She is definitely my child and snappy comebacks are a thing to be proud of, at least when they are not made about me. I so love that girl.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Home again.

So I'm back home and I'm still blogging on my phone because I am way, way too jet lagged to walk up the stairs to by bedroom and turn on my computer. I got back yesterday after flying overnight to Paris and connecting there back to DC. And before you get jealous abot the Paris thing, let me remind you that Charles Degaul Airport is not a very comfortable place to stay for five hours. And also, I am allergic to chocolate and wheat, so there was nothing to eat. Luckily,  I still had some gluten free pretzels left and some peanut butter so I ate that with an orange for breakfast,  along with some awful but supposedly healthy juice.  It was a pretty sad meal for being in Paris.

So now I am completely exhausted. The children want to play a game tonight and I said I would if they can find a game where I don't have to do anything but lie on the couch. For instance, we could play hide and seek and I'll just lie here and count to 100 and then go find them in the morning. Or we could play the quiet game. I will so win unless I start snoring.

Speaking of snoring,  Paris is also an awful place to be if you are allergic to perfume,  which of course I am. I sneezed for five hours straight and had a runny nose a d watery eyes for the whole flight because apparently if you buy Parisian perfume in the duty free, you need to spray a lot of it on once you get on the plane. I still have a headache.

I'll try pictures of my trip tomorrow. Right now I need to lie here and pretend to play pictionary. I'll just guess with my eyes closed.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Okay, sort of civilization.

I kinda have internet so I'll kinda post, just so you know I'm alive. Africa is fun and amazing and has really bad WiFi. But today I had some true African expriences.

1. My flight left 30 minutes early for no apparent reason. I guess the pilot had things to do. Luckily, I was on it.

2. The car that  drove me around has a stovepipe.

3. We saw some Guinea fowl on the "road" which no one in America would call a road.

4. I met some fellow bloggers at dinner and they were really nice and a lot of fun.

5. Apparently "eggplant" in this country means "fish." Good thing I'm not a vegetarian.

6. New friends are better than brownies.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Ahh, civilisation

I'm finally back on the grid after being in a country with no WiFi. I didn't bring my computer on this trip in order to save the hassle, but that meant no internet for a week.

I'll keep this short because my tour guide is coming to take me to see the jungle. But let's just say that Bob Air did not disappoint. I've never been sprayed with insecticide by a flight attendant before, nor have I ever had to load my own checked bags onto the plane. But the 12 year old boy I sat next to was a delight. He had never seen a Kindle before,  but man did he become good at Angry Birds quick.