Saturday, November 30, 2013

I so need chocolate

Today was not a great day. In fact, it was so not great that if I could eat chocolate, I would. I would have ingested bars and bars of it. Maybe an entire bag of M&Ms. Or all the Reese's that I could get my hands on. Just nothing went right, starting with that I told Gabrielle to come over at 8 am and then I overslept.

And then it went downhill from there. One thing that did go right is that the tree arrived. We found this amazing tree farm that delivers incredibly fresh trees and sets them up for you. So they came with the tree and apparently it has been raining straight for days at their farm so it is really fresh and will last and last. Which is awesome, except my eyes keep itching because if you remember I discovered that I am really, really allergic to trees. And cats, but there are no cats in the house and I am not giving up the Christmas tree. So I'll be taking a bunch of allergy medicine and I'm hoping it will not kill me. Death by Christmas tree.

How could something so pretty be so terrible for me? I guess it's just like cookies.

And since it's Christmastime, this is not better than a brownie, but it's super creative.

Ugly Christmas Sweaters Christmas tree

Friday, November 29, 2013

Does, some deer, some female deer

Song lyrics courtesy of Child 2 who started singing that after we saw two female deer on our way to the outlets for some Black Friday shopping. We got there before 8, which was the time to go because it was empty. The mall had been open since midnight and all the furious shoppers were gone and the inexperienced ones hadn't arrived yet, so we cleaned up. In and out in a flash, skipping the stores with long lines, and we had a ball. I got a lot of Christmas shopping done, the children were happy, and we were home a little after lunch. It was fabulous. We did spend some money, but not nearly as much as in previous years, so we feel pretty virtuous. And we have some left over to spend on Small Business Saturday tomorrow, which we might walk to if the weather's nice because there are some good shops right down the street and I could use all the exercise after all the food I ate.

It's hard to blog tonight because there is this going on in my bedroom.

Why is the rum gone!? We were trying to find a Christmas movie to watch together, but we got distracted by Pirates so we're watching that instead. And now we're all wishing we were in the Caribbean at the moment because it is really, really cold outside and there are no palm trees. Child 2 just said she is not wishing she was in the Caribbean and I said that I'm the Mom and it's my blog and I can write whatever I want. Child 3 is with me, though. She just asked if we could go on a Disney cruise someday and I said that would be a lot of fun. But we can only go when there will be no thunderstorms or hurricanes or pirates, really.  So that limits our itinerary a bit. Also  we can't afford a cruise because we just bought a bunch of clothes, so not this year. Just kidding, Husband, we didn't spend that much at the mall.

I forgot to blog about the sweet check-out girl at the organic grocery store who congratulated me on going gluten-free when I was buying bread to make stuffing. I told her I didn't feel like I had won a prize and she said but did I really want to be eating all those unhealthy foods? And I said yes, yes I did and I would in a second if they didn't make me sick. I suspect these scones are not better than a brownie, but I'm willing to give them a shot.

The problem, okay some of the problems with gluten-free foods is that they taste healthy. Also, they are full of calories and are way more expensive. Ever priced gluten-free vs. regular flour? Or a box of gluten free cookies which taste awful anyway and are $8 for a dozen vs Oreos which are around $3? But I'll keep trying because this is my life now--eating less delicious and maybe marginally more healthy food because it won't make me double over in pain or break out in spots. Congratulations to me! So not excited by quinoa scones.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Later on, we'll perspire, as we dream by the fire

Dinner was a triumph. It was everything that Child 1 wanted for what is probably her last Thanksgiving home for a while. We cooked all morning because we made it all from scratch. The only thing bought was the cranberry sauce, which apparently must come in the shape of a can, and the cranberry ginger-ale which is our celebratory drink of choice. The menu, which we prepared together while watching the Macy's parade in New York, consisted of the following.

  1. A perfectly cooked juicy turkey with lots and lots of dark meat
  2. homemade cream cheese and tarragon stuffing
  3. strueseled sweet potatoes (no marshmallows!)
  4. green bean casserole with home made french-fried onions (gluten-free of course)
  5. mashed potatoes
  6. gluten-free gravy (which was really, really delicious this year because I used my own stock and the turkey drippings and some gluten-free flour)
  7. pumpkin pie with homemade crust. Child 1 took a class on how to make pie crust and she is very, very good at it. Too bad it's not gluten-free, but that was the flakiest pie crust I've ever seen. The gluten-free version used a brown-sugar, pecan, and butter crust and it was really delicious.
These are what the sweet potatoes look like. You should know that if you buy yellow sweet potatoes, they turn green when exposed to air and your casserole turns out to look like snot. But it still tastes delicious and is very popular with small children especially if they like to say we're eating snot for Thanksgiving over and over and over again.

But one of the most fun things about the day was going over to friends' for dessert first. You see, a friend of ours in Virginia not only was one of my Norwegian language students years ago, he is the brother of one of our good friends from our first tour in Seoul. So he invited his brother and us over for dinner, but because of the gluten issue, we decided to just make it dessert, but they ate earlier than us, so we had dessert with them and reminisced and watched the football game and had a great time, and then we came home and took the turkey out of the oven and ate dinner, and then more dessert. I am so full I can't move. But it's a happy thing because I love cooking dinner for my family and this year, we were all here to celebrate together--one last time.

Oh, and that sweet potato casserole? Totally better than a brownie. We use half and half in ours instead of milk. And the title of today's blog is brought to you by Child 2 because she thought that's what the words were to Let It Snow. Makes sense, no?

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Guilt tripping

So the guilt trip worked. The sweet potatoes are cooked. The bread for the stuffing is cubed, the pie crusts are made (some of them) and the onions are fried. We are on our way to a real (and gluten-free) Thanksgiving! The children all helped and they are now giggling and drinking soda or eggnog and watching Christmas movies on Child 1's laptop. Child 1 even submitted her first college application! It's been a banner day, only a little marred by the fact that I have been sick to my stomach all dang day. I was even too nauseous to eat lunch. I drank a lot of ginger ale today. And ate potato chips which oddly help with the nausea. But tomorrow I am eating Turkey and all the trimmings. I refuse to let stupid undiagnosed stomach ailments which involve gluten intolerance but also other things we can't pin down stop me from Thanksgiving. There. will. be. pie!

Pumpkin Pie with Brown Sugar-Pecan Crust | SAVEUR

Husband read my blog yesterday, so here is a picture to make him happy.

I love that there is a little window in the kitchen that looks like it was made just for the dear leader to pop through and look at things. With his sunglasses on. There will never be another leader who looks at things like him.

Tomorrow, if I remember, we're going to talk about plain language and how just because you have a large vocabulary doesn't mean you have to prove it. But for now, I'm going to bed.

This portrait is better than a brownie. I am a big fan of art and I think part of the struggle of modern artists is to be original and have a new point of view. This portrait is a derivative point of view (Warhol) but done in a new way. All that is a fancy way of saying it's awesome.

Alexander Khokhlov 1

Because that is not a painting, it is a photograph and the woman was made to look like a Warhol painting with make-up. There are more. I think my favorite is the digitized Mona Lisa, but how creative! The children would never let me make them up into famous paintings, but this is giving me ideas for next years' trunk or treat.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The year without Thanksgiving

I think I'm skipping Thanksgiving this year. I know, you are thinking that if I wanted to skip a holiday, why Thanksgiving and why not last year when I was sick from some still undiagnosed disease? Well, last year I had to pull it together because Husband was in Afghanistan and I wanted something to be as normal as possible. Plus, I invited Artemis and you can't invite someone to Thanksgiving and then not have Thanksgiving. So we had it and I paid for it for weeks, health-wise, because I made it all out of non-gluten-free ingredients.

This year, I was planning on having Thanksgiving, but no one wants to help. In fact, no one wants to even be in the kitchen while I cook. So I may just skip it altogether. You see, in order to do Thanksgiving properly, you have to start cooking days ahead. Usually I make the pies on Tuesday and the sweet potatoes on Wednesday which is when I also start the stuffing (gluten free this year.) Then that just leaves the Turkey, mashed potatoes, and green bean casserole for Thursday and voila! But this year no one wants to help make the pies. Child 2 wanted to make cookies, but those are for her friends, and Child 3 wanted to read The Hunger Games, and Child 1 left in a huff with some games and said ugh why was I being so difficult and she always helps me on Thanksgiving and just relax already. So we'll see. If I get the same reaction tomorrow night, all they will have to eat is some fried onions (which I tried tonight to make gluten-free for that green bean casserole and I'm not sure I really like so I may make some different ones tomorrow) and leftover mushroom pasta. Good luck, family! I have an invitation to dinner which I already declined, but I may just call them up and ask if I can come by myself. Because I am so very tired of doing everything by myself, I'm just not going to any more. Children, I know how to make this. Do you?

My friend "Caroline" reminded me this morning that she is a very loyal reader. I know she is because she often brings up things from the blog and we have conversations about the things in it and she has read all my funny stories already, yet she still laughs when I tell them. She is a good friend, that Caroline. So because she reads regularly and because she has a long drive tomorrow for Thanksgiving, here is something to make her laugh.

In case you can't tell, that is a wall sconce. With pink feathers. AND crystals. I so want GSO to put these in my next house. Please, oh please can someone make that happen? Because you see, I secretly delight in the ugly furniture and have a lot of fun pointing out to people that I would never do things like purchase sofas that have gold and silver leaf on them, or put 7 end tables in one living room, or think that orange would blend with the red, blue, and taupe chairs already in the house (all things I actually had to live with.) So pink feathered wall sconces? What could make you smile more than that after a hard day on the visa line?

This suitcase's placement is better than a brownie--way better!

Giant Louis Vuitton suitcase in Red Square (EPA/SERGEI ILNITSKY)

Yes, that is a giant Luis Vuitton suitcase, and that is Red Square in Moscow behind it. I was in Red Square a long time ago when it was still in the Soviet Union and I can tell you that there were no Luis Vuitton suitcases to be had in the whole country, let alone one in Red Square. So way to go LV! Nothing like a little (or in this case giant) capitalism next to Lenin's tomb.

Monday, November 25, 2013


I'm not sleeping again. I've had insomnia off and on for most of my life. There would be months where I would wake up in the middle of the night, even when the baby was sleeping, and wander around with nothing to do. I read books, I watch TV, have a snack, but mostly I just toss and turn in bed wishing desperately that I could go to sleep. This version is new because I wake up three or four times, but I eventually get back to sleep. I'm not sure I like it any better because I still feel cheated out of a good night's sleep and I'm still wandering around in a fog during the day. So tonight I took some Benadryl and we'll see if that works. I'm not very hopeful. I'm so tired, my eyes are beginning to look like this.

I'm not sure you can cover that up with makeup.

I'm so tired, that I haven't even started cooking for Thanksgiving yet. In a normal year when Husband isn't going to Afghanistan, I usually start cooking the weekend before. That's when I chop and saute the celery and onions for my awesome stuffing which I am making gluten-free this year. It's also when I start making the pies which I used to be able to buy pastry for but now have to try to make on my own. Tomorrow night, I'm going to get the girls to help me make gluten free French's fried onions. Because I'm bound and determined to make that darn green bean casserole. So hopefully I'll sleep tonight. If not, it will be an interesting day because today I was about at the end of my rope and I was almost sleep-walking to work. I literally stepped out into traffic not remembering that I was supposed to wait for a light. Luckily, there were only a couple of cars and they were in the other lane, so I rushed across and then I was OK. But still, I need to be awake to pay attention.

Shopping on Thanksgiving is not better than a brownie, and most Americans agree with me. I'm surprised because I am right and everyone should agree with me about this! OK. I may not be right, but Thanksgiving in our home is a sacred tradition of family togetherness and eating and watching parades and Christmas movies. Black Friday is for shopping, not Thanksgiving Day. We are going to do Black Friday for the first time ever that the Children remember and then we will never have to do it again. But I'm not starting on Thursday! No way. Because I plan on being way too full to move. I'm telling you my stuffing is awesome!

Random posting of things my friends like--here is something for "Genevieve" who lives in armpit Asia but will be happy at the sight of this. She and her daughter have been medevaced for a short while and I hope this picture makes her happy.

Props to anyone who knows where this is.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Still, still, still

It's Christmas music time! There is a radio station here that only plays Christmas music during the holidays.  They used to only do it in December but this year they started before Thanksgiving. I actually don't mind because the children love it and it makes th em dance while working in the kitchen which is what we did while cooking today. We had friends from Shanghai over including Annike and her family and we made plans to ditch our husbands and children and go to a boring museum and eat a terrible lunch with no French fries.  The children are just young enough still that this play might work. Except for Child 1 who loves museums.

Blogging on my phone again because I'm too tired to open my laptop. So no pictures,  but Child 1 made a pie tonight that looked better than a brownie, but it wasn't gluten free,  so I couldn't eat it. The cherry one I made was only barely edible. But good company is better than brownies any day.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Not home alone

I spent most of the day in the car. We went to 3 grocery stores--4 if you count Bed Bath & Beyond which is apparently now a grocery store. It's a new expanded version and they carry all the brands from World Market. It's awesome. More gluten-free stuff than I've ever seen in one place. It was even better than Wegman's and I was impressed with that! They had gluten-free porcini pasta and carbonara sauce and the best almond cookies I've ever had, with or without flour. I think I'm in love with a grocery store.

I went to BB&B because my friend "Jana" and I were running errands together because that is the only time we've had to spend together in a couple of weeks. Jana moved back to DC from overseas at the end of the summer and since she also has three children and a husband who works a lot, so I never saw her but we decided we have to make time, so today we went and exchanged an ottoman she bought that had a tear in it and did some grocery shopping. Because we've know each other for years and years and years, we don't have to do anything entertaining. All moms multitask, so if the only way we can catch up is while returning broken furniture, we'll do it.

But after catching up with Jana, I drove way far away to meet some other friends for dinner. These girls I've known for 17 years now. We all have daughters the same age and it's been fun to watch them grow up together. The children all used to play with each other, although now they're just friends on facebook. So every once in a while, we ditch the children and husbands and go have dinner and chat and compare notes on where to shop for prom dresses, what movies we've seen lately, and when should we all run away to NYC and see a Broadway show together. We're thinking that after Houdini opens with Hugh Jackman might be a good time. That could be awesome.

These are the almond horn cookies, and they are almost as good as brownies. I will definitely be buying them again.

Friday, November 22, 2013

A girl's best friend

I love jewelry. Love. It. Love it so much that I own too much to take it all with my in my carry-on when we move, so I hide it in different boring household items when we pack up the house and I pray that no one finds it before I do. This has worked so far, but I suppose at some point I might have more than I can handle. And that is not a problem because I assure you I will find a way to handle it. Yeah, I have way more than this.

See, the very bestest most awesomest thing about living in China was that we were down the street from the pearl market. Literally down the street. We could walk there, and when the weather was nice and you couldn't see the air you were breathing, we did. And I learned so much about jewelry. I am now almost as good as a jeweler at telling which stones are which and which ones are real and that good jade is both translucent and milky and that rubies are almost pink and that sapphires also can be pink and that tourmaline comes in watermelon colors and that everything you think is aquamarine isn't but is usually blue topaz which is pretty but is not aquamarine. These are blue topaz.

This is an aquamarine. See how it's just a little more like the sea, and thus "marine"?

I know. You don't really care, but dang it, I can spot the difference and tell you which is which without a jeweler's loupe and all this knowledge is just going to waste! To waste, I tell you! Because now that we don't live in China, I can't afford jewelry. It almost makes me want to bid on Asia again. (I said almost, Husband. They have jewelry in Africa, too!)

This wedding picture is better than a brownie. It's a lovely picture of a newlywed couple kissing in Times Square. But it's not her dress or hair or his tux that make it so awesome. See if you can figure it out.

View image on Twitter

Yes, that is Zach Braff, the movie star photo bombing their picture. Awesome. I totally want to go to Times Square and get photo bombed by a movie star! What a lucky couple, except that they are from Germany and may not know who Zach Braff. But that's what Google is for.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

This schedule does not work for me

So I rushed all day everywhere. I rushed to teach a course at FSI which I loved. I love both the course and teaching and it was so much fun. But then I had to rush back to work, leaving the car at FSI. Then I rushed to my meeting. Then I rushed to get some work done before I had my next meeting. Then I rushed to get the shuttle back to FSI to pick up my car and it left without me. I was running and waving and it just took off without a backward glance. And the problem with the fact that the shuttle left without me was that I couldn't get Child 1 to drive me to FSI because she didn't have her car either.

OK, so what happened was she donated blood for the first time ever and fainted and they made her go home from school, but she wasn't allowed to drive so Gabrielle picked her up but that left the car at the high school. So I had two cars not at home and no way to get either of them. Enter my friend "Caroline" who kindly braved the awful traffic on Route 50 and dropped me off at FSI. So I got in the car and rushed home to help Child 3 make dinner. She wanted meatloaf and it takes an hour to cook, so we made meatloaf. And then I rushed to eat it because Child 1 needed a ride to a college interview and then to pick up her car. And then I rushed home and I am completely exhausted. Now I have to rush to go to sleep. So this might explain why I don't sleep well and why I've had a headache every single day this week and migraines on several of them.

But you know what is not better than a brownie? Getting pulled off the plane on the way home from your vacation to a foreign country and being thrown in a gulag. Because that is what happened to this 85 year old man. Because the country he decided to go to was North Korea, yes, that bastion of fashion.

This 2005 photo provided by the Palo Alto Weekly shows Merrill Newman, a retired finance executive and Red Cross volunteer, in Palo Alto, Calif. An 85-year-old American veteran of the Korean War has been detained in North Korea since last month. The son of Merrill Newman told the San Jose Mercury News on Wednesday his father was taken off a plane set to leave North Korea on Oct. 26. Jeffrey Newman said no reason was given. (AP Photo/Palo Alto Weekly, Nicholas Wright)

So now he is stuck in North Korea, and did I mention he is 85 and they literally pulled him off the plane? North Korea--not in any way comparable to a brownie. Also, please do not go there on vacation.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

I was wrong, but not the wrongest of the day

I am not often wrong. OK, I am wrong a lot (don't tell the children!) But in this case I offended people whom I didn't mean to offend and I should not have implied that no one at all is reading my blog. Because, as my friend "Brynn" pointed out, she is not no one and neither are any of my dear friends and loyal blog readers. You are all "someone" and very important to me. So I will no longer complain that no one is reading my blog. Because the accurate complaint is that no one who lives in my house and eats the food that I buy and cook and wears the clothes that I purchase and is driven around by me reads my blog. Because they are all to busy. They are also too busy to set the table, do the dishes, or walk The Dog. So the only person in the house who is allergic to The Dog does it. And does the cleaning, and cooking, and driving, etc. Because apparently I am not too busy at all and oh, let's volunteer Mom for every possible thing we can think of including field trips and dance classes, and the church choir. Because I don't have enough to do because obviously I can do everything.

And because Brynn commented, here is something I think she would like. It's a cotton quilting print with pictures of vintage fashion patterns! I think that's a home run, and if you know Brynn, you will agree.

OK, enough ranting about the children and Husband. Even I'm bored with the ranting. Let's talk about goats, specifically screaming goats which I did not know exist and showed up in the car tonight. See, Taylor Swift has a song called "Trouble" which someone on YouTube has thoughtfully turned into a video of goats screaming, so that when the song comes on the radio, children from every corner of the mini-van start screaming like goats. So no we have a rule that there is no screaming and no goats in the car and definitely no screaming goats. So then they started mooing. I have very snarky children.

Now it is late and I am tired and I'm going to bed. You know that I love fashion and that I also work for the Executive Branch--the part of it that runs foreign policy. I have mentioned before that fashion and the Department mostly don't mix well. But the reverse is also true--fashion magazines don't understand foreign policy and a clear example which is not better than a brownie is saying that the North Korean Military is a chic trendsetter. I know! That is probably the dumbest thing ever to come out of a fashion mag and these are the people who are responsible for this! Kermit is not to wear. He is to sing with.

And this is what a North Korean looks like, and I'm not seeing much fashionable here.

OK, Elle Magazine, just exactly what is it about North Korea that you find chic and trendy? The assault weapons? The way they throw innocent people into the gulag to die a slow death of starvation and disease? Or is it the way that the military steals all of the resources so that the generals live like emperors while the average soldier hardly gets enough to eat? Or maybe it's the way they shoot deserters or really anyone who complains. Yeah. That's fashionable! Shame on you, Elle. Years ago, I used to subscribe to your magazine but that was before you fired your politics editor. Now I'm very glad I don't anymore. And seriously, if you wanted to find some chic military outfits, I could have pointed you in a hundred directions--none of which point to that dark area above the 38th parallel. Try Greece, for example. Now there is a fashion mag worthy uniform! I would totally go for that tassel. And the skirt is awesome! Can you call it a skirt? Maybe if you're carrying a gun, it isn't a skirt. But whatever, it is totally runway worthy.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Why am I trailing?

I hate the term "Trailing Spouse." For those of you not in the Foreign Service, that is the term bestowed on the Spouse who is not an employee of the Foreign Service but has to move anyway. And it is a stupid term. As if we're lagging behind towed along behind the boat where all the fun people are. Like we're a fishing line. That completely doesn't describe my first overseas move during which I was bribed to move. Seriously. Husband practically had to beg me to move because I was not going back to that country that tried to kill me which was where he was assigned. But of course I went because I was not about to send my three children to that place to fend for themselves. And also, I happen to like living in the same place as Husband, and of course, it turned out way better than the first time and the country and I made our peace and it didn't even try to kill me. Then came China, but that's another story.

But anyway, I hated being called a trailing spouse and I hated the attitude of people who always assumed that the Spouse would take care of all the family stuff so the employee could work unholy hours and never see their family. And I also hated the looks that employees would give me when they asked what I did and I would say I have three children and I teach English and they would turn their backs on me and find someone else to talk to.

Thank goodness not everyone was like that or might never have joined myself. Because here is the thing, for all you people who have forgotten. The Foreign Service attracts really talented and smart and capable people. And guess who smart and talented people are attracted to and fall in love with and marry? That's right, Bimbos! Oh wait, not really. That's smart and untalented people with superior schmoozing ability. No, the smart and talented ones want relationships with people who are also smart and talented. So we should never assume that when we are talking to the "forward leaning spouse" (I know, that's awful, too, but it's better than "trailing") that he doesn't have a nursing degree and can set broken bones during a battle or she isn't a PhD in nuclear physics (Both actual spouses that I actually know.) OK, some of them are bimbos, but the bimbos are always the most fun at the Marine Corps Ball, so we should accept them, too. But stop with the "trailing." It's a stupid term. Accompanying? Possibility making? Agreeable? Doesn't get to bid but has to travel anyway spouse? I need to work on this.

Husband just fixed the couch which apparently broke because Child 3's elbow got stuck in it. No, that doesn't make sense to us either. But Child 2 is reading Pride & Prejudice in English and I am so happy! Because I can totally help her with that. She asked for help with Geometry and I said "triangle" because that's about all I remember from Geometry. And randomly, here is a picture of one of Child 3's favorite things.

Because good hair is always better than a brownie.

Monday, November 18, 2013

My hair hurts

For those of you keeping track, which is probably only my Mom and she doesn't comment on the blog, which is totally OK because I know she is reading and she sends me e-mails about it, I am on day 3 1/2 of the worst migraine ever. OK. I'm sure some are worse because I am slightly functional after taking a lot of drugs (legal ones, Mom,) but I'm not sure that my math is right. The first twinges began on Friday, so I took some meds. Then Saturday afternoon it was bad, bad, so I took some more so I could go see Child 2 playing in the orchestra. Then Sunday I missed most of the afternoon and it was so bad my eyeballs hurt and I was crying involuntarily because when your eyeballs are in pain, they water.

Then this morning a 4 am the migraine decided it wasn't going to be ignored any longer and it kicked my brain until I woke up and wanted to vomit. So I took more meds, emailed my boss that I would be in late, told Child 3 at 6:45 that if she really had a rash, Husband could take care of it because I was going back to sleep. Then at 8am I was fully awake and sort of functional so I went to work at 10:30 and turned out all the lights in my cubicle and was never more grateful that I don't have a window or a view because it was nice and dim and I actually got some things done. Although I apologize to any co-workers who read the blog if you received drafts of things that don't make sense, and for spelling "or" like "ore" all day long. Just pretend I'm Englishe. They spelle everythinge wronge anywaye. Seriously. Who says "gaol"?

And now, the light from the computer screen is hurting my eyes and I'm so tired and full of paine killerz that I can't remember if eyes really does have two ees. So I'm finishing up and going to bed.

My goading worked and Sister 2 commented! So here is one of her favorite things. Or at least one of my favorite things that she likes, too.

Light the lamp, not the rat! It's almost that time of year again. Child 1 is already listening to Christmas music.

And because Child 2 also commented and read the blog, here is something she likes. Although before we get to the picture, I will point out to her that if you sign up to follow the blog via e-mail, you will receive it automatically and then you can read it at your leisure the next day and you don't have to stay up late waiting for your mom to finish her post. Just sayin, sweetie!

And finally, this picture is better than a brownie.
A mom and fellow blogger found her toddler and new puppy napping together and she started taking pictures of their daily naptime. They are as sweet as any brownie and are heart-melting fleeting moments of joy. Toddlerhood feels like a life-time but it only lasts a minute. Kudos to her for immortalizing it in such an adorable way.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Those were clearly waves!

My stomach hurts and I'm having trouble breathing. No--this time it's a good thing! Because we were playing that game again where I turn the USS Enterprise into fried eggs. This time Elvis the dentist became a bowl of potato salad. No. I don't know how either. But here is a picture of the game which you should try because even Child 1 was laughing so hard she shrieked. My stomach still hurts, but I'm smiling.

It is college application time and we are stressing because the applications are due soon. Very soon. Like next week. Or the week after. I'm not sure because I'm trying not to be an obsessive mom and check all the deadlines and just trust the High School Senior that she is on top of it. But seriously, I would feel a lot better if we could get just one in early. The problem with parenting is that if you do a good job, they will be able to do things on their own. But then you don't know if you're doing a good job until it's too late do prevent them from falling and if they fall, you have to pick up the pieces and I hate the broken heart part. So I'm just clenching my fists and gritting my teeth and trusting it will all work out. I guess there is no down side, really, because if she forgets to apply and doesn't get in anywhere, she will have to stay home with me. Hey! That's an idea! I should encourage her not to apply anywhere so she would have to live with me for another year. That should work.

Husband is trying to shame the children into reading the blog because apparently none of them do any more. Not even Husband who says he doesn't need to read my blog because he is living it. And he's not in Afghanistan. I told him that's not the point. And also I don't think the children have any shame, because I don't. In fact, here is a shameless plug to get them to read. I am posting a picture of their favorite thing in the entire world.

Yes. That is The Dog. Child 3 took the picture and it is a pretty good one. In fact, it's the best picture of The Dog ever because for being a very cute dog, she is remarkably unphotogenic. She take the ugliest pictures and very often ends up looking like a bat. Like this.

So there you go, children. You should read the blog every day to find out what I'm saying about you and also to see what random thing that you like that I will post a picture of. Even if it's something I don't really like, like say, The Dog.

Getting your hair ripped out during a football play is not better than a brownie. Those are actual dreadlocks that player is holding in his hand.

Remarkably, the Arizona Cardinals player who lost the hair said it didn't hurt and he just felt a tug. Either there is a lot of adrenaline going on in football, or he has some serious scalp problems. Either way, I hope he wears a bun next time.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

That corn is not as tall as an elephant.

I'm blogging on my phone again. I'm waiting patiently for the high school musical to begin.  Child 2 is in the orchestra and we are here merely to hear her play. We'll see if I survive--not because it won't be good, but because I can feel the migraine starting and I'm pretty sure live musicals are not good for migraines. But I have peanut butter fudge to eat and water to drink and about a billion raffle tickets to support the Class of 2014 which is so wrong. Husband and I laughed and laughed when we realized what year it would be when Child 1 graduated and now it is almost here. How did it get to be almost 2014?

I am not feeling well because iate some cheese this afternoon. I know you are thinking that was a dumb idea and I completely agree. But we were at a party with a bunch of Husband's foreign service friends from Afghanistan and it was the only thing that was gluten free. So now I am paying for it.

The overture is starting. Got to go! Still,  that corn prop is way too short. Elephant my foot.

Friday, November 15, 2013

All smiles

I'm too tired and too busy to blog. And my stomach hurts and my pollen/dust/dog allergies are acting up. Also the computer isn't cooperating. I've lost and found my lunch box, an earring, and a glove this week, so it's time for a vacation and there isn't one coming until Thanksgiving.

But the Batkid. That story has made me smile all evening. Helping a kid who has been through so much be a hero for the day is way, way better than a brownie. And if you disagree, I will karate chop you. I'm serious. If you don't love this story, you have no heart.

Thursday, November 14, 2013


Computers are awesome things until they don't work, so this will be a short post. I'm so very very sleepy. Tonight we took Gabrielle out to dinner and then shopping at the mall for make-up. It was a lot of fun, especially since Child 1 came with us and Child 2 ate dinner with us and then we dropped her off at the high school because she is playing in the orchestra for the musical.

Wow, even shorter than I though because it's already an hour past my bedtime and someone needed help with applications and I am so incredibly tired that I'm not sure I can move.

So here is an example of parents who are way better than brownies. I wish this had been my idea.

So hats off to you, awesome parents. I would try to do something like this, but I am way, way too tired tonight.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Insanity and hope are pretty much the same thing

I am insane, at least when it comes to broken toilets. Insane is the only word to describe why I think that flushing a stopped up toilet over and over again will eventually fix it. Now, I know that sometimes you can unclog a toilet by flushing once or twice, but 10 is probably excessive and I should just ask Husband to fix it because I feel that I fixed that stupid toilet enough over the past year and I am done with plumbing for a while. But Husband is doing the dishes and I am loathe to interrupt him. And lest you think that I am a lazy housewife and should be doing the dishes myself, let me remind you that he was in Afghanistan for a whole year while I was doing dishes and cooking and vacuuming and fixing toilets. Also it's his night for dishes according to the chore chart. I cooked and I also did Child 1's chore of unloading the dishwasher because she is studying for a math test and we do not interrupt studying and yes, she is really studying. I checked.

It's also a little bit insane for me to think that I will get done every day everything that needs to get done. The problem is that I am a Mom and I have a full-time job outside the house in addition to the Mom thing and even when I was only working for pay part-time, there were still not enough hours in the day and there is no way now that I am gone for 10-11 hours each day that I can get anything done. Thus the chore chart. But the problem is that no one pays attention to the chore chart except me. So I am still the only one doing chores, except for Husband. He came home on time today, so he did his chore and now is picking up Child 2 from clarinet lessons so I am left alone to stress about who is not doing the laundry and why Child 3 still hasn't finished her math after working on it for hours.

Is there a Mom on this planet who isn't stressed? If so, could she come give me lessons? And I should clarify here that her lack of stress should not be due to having three nannies and a personal chef and a driver, etc. Nor should it involve chemical suppression of the stress. Or lots of chocolate. But if you're out there, give me a call because I would like to figure out how you do it. Husband says just leave the worrying to him, but we all know that will not work because he will not worry and then how will anyone remember that Child 3 has a dentist appointment tomorrow and I need to go paint sets for Child 3's Christmas play?

This invisible bike helmet is better than a brownie. More fashionable too. And no, it's not her headband.

I won't spoil the surprise, but it is an awesome idea and looks to me like it could save lives, if only because people would be more likely to wear it. Now, just make it in green and blue and sell it in the US, please. Oh, and pink for Child 3.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Armistice Day

Child 1 and I had a long conversation with an elderly woman in the pharmacy today about why Veteran's Day is important and what it means. She was all ready to complain about children these days not having any respect for history, but she picked the wrong people. Not only is Child 1 probably going to major in history, she also is already an expert on WW II, knows all about Armistice Day, AND lived on an army post twice. She also has veterans in her family, so she was happy to talk with this lady who I think left the pharmacy feeling much better about today's children, even if they don't get November 11th off from school. I am quite proud of Child 1. She was respectful and polite and showed that she is very, very smart. That's my girl!

Speaking of history, Child 2 says she also might major in that. Now, I know some of you are thinking that majoring in history is not all that conducive to earning a living, and you would be wrong, wrong, wrong because I majored in International Relations and I have a fabulous job in my field, which coincidentally also has a lot of history majors in it. Also, you should know that for a large portion of her life, Child 2 wanted to major in Japanese and work for the Pokemon company in Japan, so anything besides Pokemon is a win in our book. If she wanted to major in ice cream flavors, I would be happy as long as it had nothing to do with Pokemon and never required me to watch another Pokemon movie for the rest of my life. Because I love my daughter, I learned much more about that stupid card game than I ever wanted to know. But history! History is something I can not only help with, but can enjoy with her, so major away, my darlings! And we'll worry about the job part after you've got your diplomas.

Having your nose bitten by a crocodile is not better than a brownie.

Ouch! The crocodile latched on to the elephant's trunk; photo from Caters News Agency used by permission

This poor baby elephant learned the hard way not to stick his trunk in where it doesn't belong. He is fine and got away, but I bet it will be a while before he takes a drink without checking for crocs first. Good tip for me when I go to Africa again, although you can be sure I won't be drinking straight from any water holes.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Sniff, sniff

Today was not a banner day. Husband is having a severe allergy attack, and I am not feeling well, as usual. Oh, and I stepped in a hole and twisted my foot and now it hurts to walk on it. Thankfully, I have well trained children and as soon as I twisted my ankle, they put my on the couch, propped up the foot, got me a bag of ice and a glass of water, and then they made me lunch. They are very, very sweet girls. I couldn't ask for better children, except for when it comes time to do the dishes. Then they turn into normal children ad disappear and pretend that they can't see the dishes and complain that they did it last time when really it was me who did it last time and the time before. See, totally normal children. But when it comes to taking care of a sick or injured Mom, they rock. Child 1 did complain that I'm always broken, but I think she meant it to be sympathetic.

The best thing about the day, though, was that Artemis and Adonis came over for dinner and thoroughly enjoyed the food I cooked, and stayed to chat. They are moving away soon, and I will miss them horribly. So I intend to spend as much time as I can soaking up their company before they desert me permanently. The only good thing is that they are moving to a point that is in between my parents' home and Husband's family, so perhaps there will be opportunities in the future to see them. If not, I will just have to make some. I know for a fact that planes do fly to where they are moving and it is not nearly as far as say, Africa or Asia, so there is hope that I will get there.

Tomorrow is Veteran's Day and I am very grateful to all the veterans who have worked to keep me and my family safe--especially those in my family. You all know I love Hawaii, but what you may not know is that last time I was there, I unexpectedly and completely accidentally found my Great Uncle's grave in the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific. And that was way, way better than a brownie.

Saturday, November 9, 2013


My computer is acting up again. Blogging on my phone stinks. On the good news front, my friend "Annike" called and asked me your to dinner. We ate some amazing Thai food. Seriously the best pad thai I'm the area. It was apparently way better than the stuffed cabbage I made for the family which got a universal thumbs down. Oh well. I'll eat it for lunch.

Sister 2 called to say happy late birthday to Child 3 and they talked for more than an hour. And by "they" I mean Child 3 talked non-stop. Best sentences overheard: I got a bedazzler for my birthday and I bedazzled my PE uniform. My teacher said he was definitely going to tweet that.

I wondered if that was allowed, but apparently a little bling on your PE shirt is OK. Love that Child 3.
I think really good pad thai is almost better than a brownie, and I know for certain that mango and sticky rice is. Thank you, Annike!

Computer is back, so enjoy pictures of my favorite fruit which I found at the Asian market tonight. Artemis is coming over for dinner tomorrow night. I hope she enjoys eating dragon!

Friday, November 8, 2013


Did you know that Olive Garden has a gluten free menu? Well they do and I had pasta for dinner and it was yummy. Child 1 had chicken parmesan which may be her favorite dish ever and I need to figure out how to make it without gluten. More experiments to come. We also bought some salad dressing because it is delicious and makes the children eat salad. Plus, red onions marinated in that dressing are to die for.

After dinner we went to World Market and got marzipan pigs. Yes, it is that time of year again and we are already preparing for Lille Jul Aften which is the most important holiday in our family besides Thanksgiving because it is all about food. We also bought smoked salmon because it is much cheaper at World Market. And now that I have taken care of that, I can focus on Thanksgiving and how to make my own french fried onions because I have the pie crust all figured out and the children are determined to have that green bean casserole because we have it every year and. It. Is. Tradition!

We do not break Thanksgiving traditions even for the cause of gluten free and preserving Mom's health. Our menu is set in stone and I can vary from it on pain of giving The Dog all my shoes to chew which is way worse than death. Those children are tyrants when it comes to holiday meals. I was also informed tonight that there will be turkey for Christmas dinner, too because "we" like that better than roast beef or ham.

Just so you know, marzipan isn't better than a brownie, but it will do. So will maple sugar candy which they also have at World Market. I love that store.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

I told you it was gone!

Today I found my mouse. Well, at least our amazing cleaning lady found it and nicely put it back by my computer. I wonder where it was. I'm betting the laundry basket. Or the refrigerator. But I have further proof that I have lost my mind--I ate macaroni salad at lunch.

I know some of you are wondering why I would want to kill myself, and the answer is I don't, but my food allergy results came back and I am allergic to. . . drum roll. . . nothing! Nope. Nada. Zip. Zero food allergies, except that they didn't test for chocolate, but I'm pretty sure about that one. So if I am not allergic to wheat, and I don't have Celiac (remember that came back negative last year) then it must all be in my head. Right? So nothing really bad could come from eating wheat. Right? So if the Hula Girl food truck is there and I am feeling like I would rather be in Hawaii and there is kalua pork plate lunch, well then why not have the macaroni salad with it because it won't kill me? Right? Wrong. After four bites of the most delicious macaroni salad outside of Hawaii, I started feeling nauseous. Then my friend "Evelyne" who was eating lunch with me, stopped mid sentence and asked if I was alright. I said why? And she said because you are all flushed and you look like you don't feel well. Then I started feeling cold and clammy and apparently lost all the color in my face, which is pale to begin with, and sweat was pouring down my neck. Kind of like this only with more mascara and smaller ears. My ears don't stick out.

Then Evelyne asked if I needed to go to the hospital and said maybe I should go lie down and then I told her I ate macaroni and she said I had better not ever eat it again.

So if I'm not allergic and I don't have celiac, then what I have is Non Celiac Gluten Intolerance which some people think is all in your head, except that I had an actual physical reaction, and a pretty bad one, so if it is all in my head, then I have done an excellent job of convincing the rest of my body to listen to my head, which for me usually doesn't work. I have been telling my body for years that I am actually six feet tall and skinny, but it never listened.

So my moment of insanity was only worth it in that I did taste the macaroni salad which was as delicious as I remember and I know I will never, ever eat it again. Ever. My stomach still hurts and I'm still nauseous 8 hours later. But on to happier thoughts.

Kate Middleton has gray hair and that is way better than a brownie.

She went out in public today showing a few roots which only proves that you can still be totally chic while showing a few grays and most importantly, she has more than I do! And also, that red coat is awesome.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Writer's block

I have heard this is a real thing--writer's block. I suppose that by writing about it, I am either assuring that I will get it at some point, or I am cheating. I think it's probably the cheating thing. People have asked me how I come up with things to write about every day and the answer is that if you never write about anything important, then you will have lots and lots to say. For instance, straw bales that you bought for Halloween but have no place to store do not smell very nice after a rain. I am really sick of doing dishes and someone needs to invent pots that clean themselves. And I'm still not too fond of The Dog. See? Nothing to it.

Still no mouse after three days. I must face the fact that it may be gone for good. I wonder what else I'm going to lose--besides my mind which I think actually left shortly after giving birth to Child 3. I'm pretty certain I'll never get that back again. I also can't find my fall coat, but I think that is in the car, so it doesn't really count. And it doesn't matter that I can't find it because I have taken to wearing a cape. I know, you are thinking that there are a couple of things wrong with me wearing a cape and first it's that I'm not Super Girl and second, I am not six feet tall. But you see, capes are very fashion forward and it is not that kind of cape, it is the kind that looks like this.

In fact, it looks exactly like that because I think that is actually a picture of my cape. I feel very runway when I walk down the streets of DC with my fringe swinging, although I do feel a tiny bit guilty because, here is the shocker, my cape is British. But I'm going to wear it anyway, especially since it goes really well with my green sweater from that one British designer that I like. And also, it was a souvenir from my trip last March to London, and I like it.

You know what is better than a brownie? Cute pictures of baby tigers swimming, that's what.

Google the link yourselves because I'm too tired and I can't find my mouse.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Beep Noodle Soup

One of our favorite places in China was the restaurant that had mixed up its letters. It literally said Beep Noodle Shof on the sign. We never actually ate there, because it was a little scary looking, but it was fun to think about what beep noodles tasted like. I guess we'll never know, because the shof is gone now. It wasn't there when I went back on TDY (temporary duty in case you forgot the acronym.) But tonight I did introduce the children to real Pho in an awesome authentic Vietnamese place that my fellow bloggers introduced me to. Child 1 and Child 2 loved it and ate every drop. Child 3 who went with the chicken and not the steak ate maybe 5 bites, even though pho is made with rice noodles and thus is naturally gluten free. But it was fun and delicious and we had a great time.

Husband was off gallivanting around bonfires with British people dressed like Anonymous. The whole Guy Fawkes thing confuses me. It's like if we had Benedict Arnold day and went around dressed in red coats carrying around little voodoo dolls that looked like him and barbecued them. Why celebrate a traitor? I can think of a lot better things to do than give them a national holiday.

It's pageant time again. And instead of Fiji dropping the ball, this time it was Miss USA. Instead of making her beautiful, they turned her into a cartoon and this costume is not better than a brownie.

2013 Miss Universe National Costume Show

I'm not sure exactly who the Miss Universe promoters think watches the pageant, but I can assure you very few of them collect Transformers. I mean honestly, you can hardly tell there is a girl in there and those shoes! They are a travesty. This year, I'm routing for Miss Mexico because THAT is an awesome pageant costume. Think I could pull off the hat?

2013 Miss Universe National Costume Show

Monday, November 4, 2013

I'm losing

I have lost my mouse. 100 years ago, that sentence would have meant something different, and probably 100 years it will mean something else altogether. But for right now, I'm sure you know exactly what I mean especially when I say it is cordless which means it could be anywhere in my bedroom or in the house because I picked it up and put it somewhere stupid like the kitchen or the bathroom or anywhere far away from my computer. So the losing has begun and if you know me well, which some of you whom I have never met probably do by now, then you know that what that means is I need a vacation.

You see, I am a Mom with a capital M which means I can always find everything unless someone else moves it which only happens occasionally in our house and never unless company is coming and Husband is in a panic. So I know where everything is because I know where it goes and usually I have put it there. So ask me where Child 3's ladybug socks are and I will tell you they are in the Forever 21 bag that they were put in at the store which I gave to her and told her to put the socks in her drawer but she didn't and instead dumped the bag on top of the white bookcase in the hall and they are still there. The mail key? In the drawer that it is always in. Child 2's algebra book? On the floor of the dining room, of course. But my mouse is nowhere to be found which means I am getting absent minded which means I am stressed which means I need a vacation soon--like yesterday. Unfortunately, because of the whole used all my leave picking Husband up from the airport when he was in Afghanistan problem, I'm not getting one unless you count federal holidays. Thankfully there is one of those next week. We'll see if that solves the whole losing things problem. I doubt it.

Tonight, I got that rarest of treats which was a whole evening chatting with one of my best friends on the couch about nothing and stuff. She and I have been in separate countries until just recently and it's been way too long since we got together. But the awesome thing about best friends is that when you finally do see each other, it's like you never were apart. She still gets me and I still completely know where she is coming from and that is a rare and beautiful thing. I am hopeful that there will be many more couch chats in the future, even though we have to get out our calendars to schedule them because we are way too busy.

This dress is also not better than a brownie.


I don't know what it is about Russian fashion week, but their designers have lost their minds. Birdcages are not accessories and a bird cannot be a bracelet. And worst of all, why would you create a dress that makes a runway model look like she has huge hips and thighs? That, my friends, is an outright crime and someone needs to arrest that designer. Pronto. And also turn him in to PETA because I'm pretty certain that bird is really unhappy.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Pie crust success

I made an awesome gluten-free pie crust tonight. In fact, the crust was so good that Child 2 said she liked it better than the pumpkin pie filling. So now that we have an awesome crust, we'll go back to the original filling and I think we have a winner! The crust is chopped almonds, brown sugar and butter. It's like having pumpkin streusel and I'm so happy I can't tell you because I was determined to have pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving which is coming up quicker than I would have thought. This is the pie.
Pumpkin Pie with Brown Sugar-Pecan Crust | SAVEUR

So our purging exercise is off to a decent start. I got rid of a whole laundry basket of stuff. Now I just have about 100 more baskets to go. See, the idea is to have only a few things that can collect dust. So that means the books are mostly going and a lot of the clothes. But not the shoes. I can't get rid of any of my shoes just yet, partly because I am still wearing them. Maybe I'll find a pair or two to get rid of, but my navy Swiss dotted platforms that I bought when I didn't get an award are staying. Because I need them. Really. I will fight anyone who tries to take them from me. And I will win. I love those shoes.

This dress is not in any way close to being better than a brownie. On the scale of brownieness, if a brownie is a 10, then this shipwreck of a dress is a -99, and it is literally a wreck of a dress and I'm not sure what the stilts add to it. Or the mast. I mean really, why would you make a woman look like a schooner? So thank you, Russian design wrecker, for making very glad that I know the difference between a dress and a mode of transportation. I'm not certain that he does.