Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Happy Holidays!

So you know those letters that everyone sends out about everything they do during the year and how their children all got scholarships to Harvard except for the one who is at Julliard and how their pets win obedience championships and everyone got a promotion and they are spending the holidays skiing in Switzerland? Yeah, we don't send those either. Because it's the holidays and also Child 2's birthday, I don't really feel like blogging. I mean, I spent all evening making traditional birthday pudding, so I'm tired. What, you don't have birthday pudding? Well you should because it looks like this and it is almost better than a brownie.

Ok, mine didn't look like that because I don't have a striped towel in Thanksgiving colors draped artistically over the placemat because the birthday candle might make that a fire hazard, but you get the idea.

Anyway, the children gave me permission to post our annual Christmas letter on the blog, so here it is! Along with our annual family photo. Happy New Year!

Reasons we never send out Christmas letters anymore:

Jen has jet lag from her recent China trip.
Husband is on his iPad and isn’t paying attention.
Child 1 is never home, even when she’s “home” for Christmas break.
Child 2 is whining about how everyone else has nicer Christmas cards.
Child 3 won’t participate because we called her spoiled.
Nobody is ever happy with what we write about them.
Nobody has a better idea for this letter.

Happy Holidays and stuff,
Some of the Sudweeks Family

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

That's not how a food coma should go

You will all be happy to know that Lille Jul Aften went off successfully, even though no one got invited until the day before. Apparently, we didn't sound out invitations. And by "we" I mean anyone who was in the United States and could have very easily invited people but waited until I got home from China. That would include everyone in the family except Child 3 who invited someone months ago who actually remembered and came. The food was all gluten free and completely delicious. It was not, however, dairy-free and I am paying for it dearly. Presents almost didn't get wrapped. Good thing I hardly bought anything this year.

Somebody seriously explain to me why Christmas has to come around every single year? Except for the decorating part which I love, and the rice pudding game, I really could do without the whole thing, especially the wrapping presents part. Because the deep, dark secret is that I suck at wrapping. Really. I hate it and I can never get the wrapping to look like I want. Somehow, no matter how hard I try, it ends up looking like this.

Child 3 is an awesome wrapper. She gets it from Husband who all but measures his paper with a ruler. I throw everything I can into bags and what doesn't fit is what get's wrapped. This year, I was using very cute Santa paper and no matter how hard I tried, I always cut it crooked. When I was finally almost out of paper, I realized, it was printed crooked! Totally unfair. I mean, how is a wrapping challenged person supposed to be able to make a gift look decent if you can't follow the lines when you cut? Anyway, it's done, so I'm going to bed.

But before I fall asleep, which will be around 3 am because I'm still not over jet lag, I just have to brag about one thing--I got an award! I know! I can't believe it either! An actual award for actual work that I actually did and it's framed and everything! I totally didn't see it coming because I wasn't actually there to receive it. I was in China, but when I came back, there it was! I seriously almost cried and now I will love my supervisor forever, because as you know, I never, ever get awards. The only downside is that this year, I won't have the excuse of no award to buy myself some new shoes. Don't worry, though, I'm sure something else will not happen so I'll need consoling in the form of maybe cowboy boots.

So macadamia nuts are delicious, not quite better than a brownie, but the honey roasted ones come close. However, throwing a temper fit over how they are served to you and interrupting an international flight because you don't like that they are not on a plate is not, repeat not better than a brownie. And the fact that you do it because your dad is the owner of the airline is no excuse. I mean, come on Ms. Cho, what is so offensive about this?

I mean, it's a lovely shade of blue, and there is even a notch so you can actually open it. If she was offended by the meal service, maybe she should talk to the owner of the airline. Oh, wait. But seriously, her conduct was the most offensive thing about the whole incident and maybe after she is arrested she will learn some manners. The good thing, though, is that macadamia nuts are now very popular in Korea, which is good for the growers in Hawaii. Just don't eat all the nuts before I get some more honey roasted ones. Those are seriously yummy! I don't even need a plate, I'll just open the bag and pour them straight in my mouth. Bad manners, maybe, but it doesn't involve purposely humiliating anyone so it's a step up from Ms. Cho's behavior.

So Merry Christmas! And to all a good night, or probably morning because jet lag. Ugh.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Home with the lights on

I made it back from China. It was a fun trip, but as suspected, I was not able to connect to Blogger, thus no blogging for three weeks. It was odd having all that time to myself with nothing to do in the evenings and no responsibilities. OK, it wasn't odd at all, it was amazing! Think about it. Three weeks with no homework, no dishes, no cooking, no vacuuming, no grocery shopping, and only laundry for one person. I had so much time on my hands I got foot massages twice a week. And at breakfast in the morning, they brought me peppermint tea without my even having to ask. Frankly, if I hadn't missed Husband and the children so much, I would never have wanted to leave. The problem is that when you are actually posted overseas and not just there temporarily, you don't get to live in the Marriott and there is still a lot of laundry. And homework.

However, there were drawbacks to being in China during the winter. First, it was really hard to breathe at times. I bought a mask, but it said "comfort mask" on the box which I suspect meant it didn't do much. And it was freezing and windy, and I'm not exaggerating about the freezing part. On the warmest day there, it only got up to 37 Fahrenheit. And besides not being able to connect to facebook, or Google, or Instagram, my iPod, which was the only electronic item I brought with me, has a new feature. It turns itself on and starts playing 80s music all by itself. Apparently, somebody in China has a thing for INX, Phil Collins, and Rick Astley. I'm not complaining, OK, I'm complaining a little bit, but it was a little disconcerting once when I wanted to skip forward to another song and then it started playing backwards until it got to the beginning of the song that someone else wanted to hear which was "You'll Be in My Heart" from Tarzan. Um, no you won't be in my heart, Mr. Selfish iPod Monitor. You missed that boat when you kept playing One Direction over and over. This is the problem of sharing your playlist with the whole family. At least he didn't like Miley Cyrus.

The very first thing I did when I got home, after hugging the children almost to death  and posting a status on facebook, was fix the Christmas tree. I left Husband with one job for Christmas. One job! Which was to take care of the tree since the awesome delivery place no longer delivers and I didn't have time to get one before I left. So he did actually get a tree at Home Depot and did actually start to decorate it with Child 1. But then they thought it didn't look right, so they gave up. And when I came home after flying straight for 14 hours, the tree that greeted me looked like this.

Which is not what I had in mind at all. So before going to bed, I fixed it. Yes, I stayed up for almost 40 hours straight so I could make my Christmas tree look more festive because that is how much of a micro-manager I am about the holidays. So now the tree looks like this.

So now is all as it should be and it finally feels like Christmas. I don't know why, but the version of "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" that they played at the Dirt Market over and over and over again just didn't do it for me. But the tree and being with my family all under one roof does. Now I just have to wrap the billions of gifts I brought back from China. Does cellophane packaging count as wrapping? This year it might just have to. The tree took every last ounce of energy I had.

And by the way, the gluten-free buttery marshmallowy Chex-mix my friend "Lydia" made for me is almost better than a brownie, and in fact, might be the best dessert I've eaten in years. She is an awesome friend and extremely thoughtful, and those kind of friends are definitely better that brownies.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Going dark

I am at the airport on my way to China for three weeks. It still seems odd that I am the one always leaving while Husband stays behind. He is in charge og Christmas this year and we're all a little afraid. The amazing Christmas tree place that delivers isn't delivering this year, so he has to get the tree himself. See why we're nervous? Get it and decorate it. So, he is chickening out and waiting until Child 3 gets home from Hawaii because she will pick a good tree.

Then the only thing left is the presents some of which I can get in China. The children helpfully made lists and hung them on the front door. Chil 3's list says things like boots, lots of boots and I can never have too many scarves! Child 2, on the other hand, filled up her list with things that never existed in real life! Seriously! Totally made up in her head!

Now, granted, some of them are good ideas.  A Totoro beanbag chair is a great idea, but I can't buy what doesn't exist. So she won't be getting much from her list. Child 1 doesn't have a list. She keeps sending me messages saying just get me this one thing for Christmas and that's all I want. And then that one thing changes so I can't figure out if she wants the last one thing or the first. I suspect it's really all the thing that she wants,  but she can't fit all the things in her suitcase, so we'll see.

All I want is to get back home to Husband and the children in time for Christmas. That's it, really. And some jewelry. Ok, lots of jewelry which is why I'm happy to be going to China.

I don't think I'll be able to blog from China. If I can, I'll post something. Chinese internet censorship is definitely not better than a brownie. But foot massages are which is why that's the very first thing I'm going to do. Right after I buy some pearls.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

There is no other hand

So since slicing off the top of my right thumb wasn't bad enough, I decided it would be a good idea to spill boiling water on my left hand and give myself a second degree burn on Tuesday. I mean, what do I need hands for, anyway? You know, it's not like my favorite holiday is this week and my friend and her kids are coming over and I have lots to cook. Nah. No big deal.

But in case you are wondering, here is a list of things that it is really, really hard to do without hands.

  1. Wash your hair.
  2. Chop onions.
  3. Put the leash on The Dog.
  4. Open a letter.
  5. Open a door with a round knob.
  6. Open anything.
  7. Trim your bangs.
Yeah, I really shouldn't have tried that last one. Maybe no one in China will notice how crooked they are. They kind of look exactly like this.

Today, for a change, I thought it might be fun to have some frat boy "doctor" stick needles into my neck and dig around for tissue. Yep, thyroid biopsy time. It went well, but they forgot to tell me how much my neck would hurt afterward. I'm not worried that they found anything because the doctors were very chatty. See, there is that moment when you get diagnosed with something bad where everyone who was all friendly and talking to you before suddenly stops talking to you and goes silent when they see the bad thing. And then you know that the thing you were afraid of is what is happening. It happened to me during the ultrasound before I lost the baby, and again when I was misdiagnosed with cancer that I didn't have. But today, the only moment that made my heart stop a little was when the very young and inexperienced "doctor" at the teaching hospital put in the needle and the attending surgeon said it was a good thing he had used anesthetic first because that was a bad angle. Um, maybe that's why my neck hurts so much? They chatted the whole time and talked to me a lot while upside down. See, when you get a thyroid biopsy, your head is hanging down off the end of the bed and everything is upside down. So I'm fairly certain I will never recognize frat boy doctor again, unless I can see the underside of his chin. It was fairly bizarre. But it's over and I'm very happy about that. I wonder if they noticed my crooked bangs.

A real, working Ebola vaccine would be way, way better than a brownie. Apparently, NIH is close to having one. They say they still have a ways to go, but that would be so amazing! Go NIH! Then maybe idiot governors of small states where no one has ever had Ebola will stop panicking and persecuting courageous health care workers who volunteer to go save people they don't know. Yeah, you know who I'm talking about. Totally unimpressed by the fear mongering. Thousands of people dying from preventable diseases, yet tax money gets spent on imprisoning a nurse for fear she might spread a disease she never had. That's a wise use of public funds, that is. Ugh.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Not the kind that's like a guitar.

So the good news is that Husband is home and I made incredibly delicious roast beef for dinner. The bad news is that I can't get the bleeding to stop and I might need stitches. Stupid mandolin! So no more typing because I'm supposed to be holding my throbbing thumb over my head. Slicing off the top of your thumb is NOT better than a brownie, in case you were confused about that.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Confusic of the night

Husband is on the way home. He made his flight, so we can only hope he makes his connection in Chicago. Seriously, I think it was the travel office's goal to put him on as many planes as possible on this trip. 10 different airlines and about 18 flights. Thankfully, the travel gods smiled on my next trip and I have a direct flight non-stop to China. Yippee!

But anyway, he'll be home soon and then I will leave. And then Child 1 will come home and then I will come home and then it will be Christmas. This month will go by very fast. Faster even because I won't have to go to the longest Christmas concert ever. Seriously, why are the high school band concerts so dang long! Although if Child 2's performance tonight is any indication, it will be an amazing concert. Tonight was the final performance of Phantom of the Opera and Child 2 was the lead clarinet and had a solo. She was fab. She is a very talented musician and I am happy to take all the credit. OK, Husband played the tuba, but I'm the one who steered her toward the clarinet and I was so right! She is terrific. And so was the play. But I still don't understand it.

I saw Phantom 25 years ago in London and I still don't get it. Is the Phantom really that old? Why did he murder those two guys? And the chandelier falls and no one gets hurt. So why is the chandelier such a big deal? It's confusing. Also why is there a lake in the bottom of the Paris Opera? And fog. Where did the fog come from? There isn't fog in the bottom of the Department, and we are located in Foggy Bottom.

Child 2 is rubbing off on me because now I'm writing puns. Knowing that Child 1 misses me is better than a brownie. And finally, happy birthday to Artemis. I hope it is wonderful and I wish I could help you celebrate.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Rarer than a loon

There have been a couple of Husband sightings. I'm not hearing from him very often because of the no internet thing and the fact that his BlackBerry doesn't work now. But I have two sightings to report. The first was self-reported by Husband when he got to a post and they were going on a CLO trip and he tagged along. Someone actually came up to him and said, hey, didn't your wife write 365 Bad Days? Why yes, she did! And then MY fan asked to take a photo with Husband which I find hilarious. He better have a copy of that picture because I would really like to know what my fan looks like. I've been pretty sure all along that the reason I have so many hits is because my mother keeps clicking on the blog to see if there is anything new every five minutes. So a fan that is not my mother and not the children trying to see if they are mentioned in the blog is a rare thing, indeed. OK, there are also Caroline and Aretmis, but they are my friends so that doesn't really count. This was a real person who read my blog whom I've never met!

The next Husband sighting was by Husband's Nephew 1's wife. Got that? We'll call her "Lorde." Anyway, Lorde was on campus at our alma mater and saw a banner that has a 10 foot tall picture of Husband's face on it with a quote about how great the school is. Seriously, as if his head isn't big enough already from being adored by my fan! (My fan, Husband. My blog. My fan. And no, you can't go to Yemen to give me more inspiration. If anyone is getting a year away from The Dog, it is going to be me!) So now Husband is doubly famous from stealing all my fans and having his picture up at the university. My picture could be there, too! Except that my major doesn't have as much money as his on account of it not being in the business school and being the kind of major that prepares you for either more school or to say do you want fries with that? Or would you like a venti? So they don't have the kind of money necessary to put 10 feet tall photos of my face advertising their department. When I am rich and famous with more than around 5 people, maybe I will just make my own banner, except that I hate photos, so maybe it will just be of my shoes. Maybe by then I'll have enough money to buy these boots and I can put them on the banner:

Womens Old Gringo Widow Maker Boots Chocolate And Turquoise #L1414-4
And then I'll write a book which will be a best seller titled It Wouldn't Have Been 365 Bad Days if Husband Had Bought Me These Boots.

So I know you are all dying to know what happened with the Trunk or Treat since it happened while I was on TDY? It's been almost a month, so I will put you out of your misery--what happened is it didn't happen. Nope. Husband didn't come up with a theme, didn't decorate the car, and didn't even get the children there on time. They missed it. Completely. Yes, it was on a Friday night and started at 5:30 which is a horrible thing to do to working parents, and yes, Husband had an excuse that was something blah, blah, hugely important meeting blah blah sanctions blah boring blah. But the thing is, it was our last Trunk or Treat. Our last opportunity to win! And we didn't even show or place because we didn't show up. I'm still rather sad about it. I'm also terrified because Husband is now also in charge of the Christmas season and I am not all that confident that he will even get a tree, let alone decorate it to my standards. I'm going to have to try to arrange this all before I leave and I am running out of time. Child 1, when you see him tomorrow, make him promise to get a tree!

So in the interest of time, Solange Knowles' wedding dress is better than a brownie and might be the best wedding dress ever. Of all time! If you disagree, I will fight you and I will win. Her dress has a cape and Wonder Woman bracelets! It is awesome and I so very much wish that I could pull it off. And now I also wish that my wedding dress had a cape instead of a huge bow across my behind. Sigh. 90s fashion. Here you go. Bask in Queen Solange's powerful loveliness.

Solange Knowles

Monday, November 17, 2014

It's like 13,000 out of office messages

You may have heard that the Department was hacked and all our systems were down. This is only partly true. OK, mostly true. OK, it was totally true except that some things worked a little bit. Just enough for me to partly do a lot of things until I got to the part where I needed something that wasn't working. So I sort of mostly finished a bunch of stuff almost. It was not as productive as one might have hoped.

The other thing about the outage is that I haven't heard from Husband in 5 days except for one short e-mail from his hotel when he had WiFi once. When he was in Afghanistan, I would have been panicked by now and would have tried calling his office and maybe have stopped breathing a time or two. But this trip? Nah. Because he's going to places like this.

I know! He and I work for two different Departments. The one I work for sends me here.

And this will be my next TDY in two weeks.

Yep. Next TDY to a place where the food won't kill me but the air just might. However, shopping galore! And oh, the food! If only I could eat it because you might not know that soy sauce is made with wheat. Such a bummer! So Husband, sorry. I'm not too worried. Enjoy your tropical work vacation where you wear Hawaiian shirts to meetings and people bring you drinks with umbrellas and cover you in flowers. I need to stop blogging now and look online for some face masks to bring with me. And maybe a nebulizer. And some oxygen tanks.

The world running out of chocolate is not better than a brownie, but that is apparently what is happening. I think it might be in large part Child 1's fault. It is certainly not mine, although I do occasionally supply her chocolate habit. Can you imagine a world without chocolate? Oh, the humanity! Science must fix this, quick! And while you're at it, could you find a way to make fake chocolate that tastes like the real thing but that I could eat that wouldn't give me hives? Please? I might be begging a little. OK, I'M TOTALLY BEGGING! Just think about it--you'd make a billion dollars, or however much I have in my bank account anyway.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

The Bluebird of Paradise

So my computer is dying. Really dying. It's so bad that it won't stay connected to the internet for more than five minutes and after that, I have to restart it to get connected again. So I have been computerless and therefore not blogging. Husband said that I could use the iMac which is the children's computer, but it is all the way upstairs. On the third floor! That's like 15 steps! I'm way, way too tired in the evenings to walk up all those stairs, so instead of blogging, I've been binge watching Scandal instead. But now I've convinced Child 2 that she needs to let me use the laptop that she is not using because her school issued her a MacBook which is Child 1's old laptop because we have never taken it to China and it works just fine.

So here is what happened. We were all set to go to the brown bird post. I was resigned to a very difficult move to a place that would sort of work, but we would be together, so it would be alright. And then, miraculously, for the first time ever since I joined the Department, something amazing happened. The blue bird of paradise flew in and landed on my shoulder. And stayed there! We got handshakes on India! New Delhi, and I am thrilled. So thrilled! I have always wanted to live in India. Who wouldn't want to live in a place that looks like this?

Or where this happens.

Or this!

And this!

I might be a little obsessed with elephants. But I have always wanted to live in a country with elephants, especially if that country is India. So here we go! Child 1 is thrilled, Child 2 is resigned, and Child 3 is convinced that we have ruined her life! And nothing will ever be the same again! And the school in New Delhi doesn't even give grades! WE ARE RUINING HER LIFE! FOREVER! Except she still wants to go on a tiger safari while riding an elephant. But other than that, her life is ruined. So if anyone wants a ruined 12 year old to come stay for a while, please let me know because I'm not sure how many pairs of pants I will need to buy her before she is unruined. I'm guessing the 4 I got her today might not do it, so I threw in a couple of sweaters for good measure, too.

Chocolate chip cookie dough is almost better than a brownie. Sometimes, I used to make the batter, bake up half, and then just eat the rest. Cookie dough ice cream was a brilliant invention, and if I could eat wheat, or chocolate, or dairy, I would have some right now. Finding a thief in your house eating your cookie dough is not better than a brownie. The nice woman whose house he was in called the cops but didn't press charges. But I totally would have! I don't mind if my friends eat cookies in front of me, but I am telling all the thieves right now that if you come into my house and eat cookies, or dough, or candy, then the best thing that could happen would be that you go to jail. I won't be held responsible for what Child 1 will do to you if you eat her chocolate before she gets home from Hawaii. You have been warned. Child 3, kindly, says that you may have her chili pepper flavored lollipop that she bought today thinking it was cherry. We don't care about that.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Good thing my teeth have skin!

The Ebola craziness has got to stop. After two weeks of totally stressing about getting screened at the airport, my trip through passport control and customs was a breeze. Where I got tripped up was at the doctor's appointment this morning. Here is how the conversation went.

Nurse: Have you been to West Africa?
Me: Yes.
Nurse: Recently?
Me: Last week.
Nurse: Have you had a fever?
Me: Yes. Wait! Let me explain!

I think she stopped breathing at one point. Because I did go to West Africa and I did come back sick with a fever and other symptoms that are similar to Ebola. But what I had was treatable with antibiotics and it would so mess up my life to be quarantined for 21 days to make sure I don't have a disease that I was never exposed to and couldn't have. I mean, 21 days on my own with room service and total freedom from The Dog does sound not too bad, but once I found out that poor nurse in New Jersey didn't have a shower,  quarantine lost most of its appeal.

I'm too tired to type any more, so here is a picture of an African chicken.

The Milka chocolate I brought back from Germany is better than a brownie, but I can't eat it.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014


I'm so jet lagged, my eyes are crossing. I arrived yesterday morning. We decided to go to Rudesheim instead of sleeping like sane people. It was lovely and I discovered that German restaurants have lots of gluten free options. Thank goodness for pork and sauerkraut and potatoes.

Today was a full day of work and dinner in a bierkeller. More pork and sauerkraut. I've also remembered how much I like Schweppes bitter lemon. And to rop it off, I found chocolate tea for Child 1. And talking to Husband and then Chil 1is better than a brownie. Now to figure out how to talk to the other two children.

Sunday, October 12, 2014


I am leaving today for my two week TDY and am leaving Husband in charge. I am scared. Not that Child 3 will miss the bus like she did several times during the last TDY. Thankfully, her bus comes almost an hour later this year. No, I am scared because I am missing trunk or treat and Husband will be in charge! I am devastated that I won't be back in time to compete. We had a whole awesome Star Wars theme planned and we were so going to win! But no. It is not to be. Husband is on his own which means there might be a pumpkin or two that he throws in the trunk and the children may or may not have to make their costumes out of paper bags. I had better do something so they don't have to look like this.

So wish me luck! Or rather, wish Husband luck because he's never been in charge of Halloween before. And just in case you are wondering, missing trunk or treat is NOT better than a brownie. So not fair.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Fasten your seatbelts!

So Child 2 got her driver's permit today and Husband took her driving around our church parking lot. She drove around in circles for about 20 minutes. I'm not sure I'm ready for this. She says she only mixed up the gas pedal and the brake three times and that she can't be the only one that has happened to. True, but I don't want to drive with her until she figures that all out. Child 2, I never want to see this on my car.

But luckily, a solution to this problem is at hand and that is that I'm leaving on my trip tomorrow. I'll be gone for two weeks and by the time I return, Husband will have helped her learn that the big one is the break. No, the big one! THE BIG ONE!! STEP ON THE BIG ONE!!! It will be just like when I taught Child 1 to tie her shoes by taking a nap and letting Husband do it.

This week, I also learned what the rules are for "friending" your children's friends on social media.

  1. If you accidentally friend one of your children's friends on social media, you cannot take the request back. That is rude and will only prove that you are stupid and can't figure out which buttons to click. In reality, it only proves that the buttons on your stupid iPod are too dang small, but I am told this is the rule.
  2. Once you are friends, you should go to their home page and like all their photos.
  3. You must never, ever, ever comment on any photo they post. Ever. You may like it but not comment. No. Words. None. Resist the urge to comment or you will face the wrath of the child!
So those are the rules. I promise I am following them. I once commented "beautiful!" but I hear even that is not OK.

You know what is not better than a brownie? Chocolate covered bugs. And chocolate chirp cookies which are made with crickets. 

The Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium in New Orleans serves them and people apparently actually eat them. They also serve larvae toffee. I just can't. Nope. So very glad I'm allergic to chocolate right now. Seriously. Crickets?

Thursday, October 9, 2014

60 minutes to reboot. Yay!

Ugh, I so hate my computer. And you know what else I hate? Stupid football games that start at bedtime when I get so little sleep as it is. I really, really need to not be watching football right now. But I started watching the game because I needed to reboot my computer and that takes an hour. Yes, I know. Totally a first world problem and yes, there are people starving in Africa. But how am I going to learn about how to help the starving people if I can never get on the internet because my computer sucks? (And one answer about how to help them is here. Arlington Academy of Hope has been working for 10 years to make life better for Children in Uganda.)

So bidding is going well. If by well you mean that every post that I really wanted is turning out not to work and I might have to pull out the last resort which is the post I don't want but can get. See, it's like the Department has this ugly bird they keep handing me. It is a brown, boring, flightless bird (no, not a Kiwi. That would be a cool bird.) This bird isn't particularly bright and I don't really want to touch it, but it is alive and it is here in my hands where the Department keeps shoving it. And I don't want this bird. I want the one I can see in the bush which is colorful and new and so not boring and is dancing around and chirping not like this stupid silent lump of a bird sitting in my hand. See? The bird in the bush is the blue bird of paradise! That's what I want!

I know if I just stretch a little further, I can reach that bird. But then there is that little voice in my head that says you already have a perfectly healthy bird right in your hands. Just take it! Because if you let this one go, you're not going to get that blue bird of paradise and then you'll have nothing. No birds at all. So I will probably take the brown bird because it is safe and I have it and I probably don't deserve the blue bird of paradise anyway. But someday, couldn't the Department give me a bird that I want? Or even just a feather? Seriously, a blue feather would be nice. I could stick it on a plaque and pretend it was an award.

Speaking of awards, I accidentally learned today that in one of my previous jobs, I was actually nominated for a Meritorious Honor Award, and that the committee approved it. And yet, somehow I never received it. I know you are wondering how on earth could this have happened? And you are totally right to wonder who on earth would nominate me for an award? The answer, of course, is a really nice person. But another question would be then why did I never receive an award? If I was nominated and the committee approved it, where is my award? And I think the answer to that is in the same place with my promotion which is at the bottom of a deep, dark well into which I can climb down but then never get back up. So instead of an award, I'll just have to be content with the knowledge that I am doing good and making life better for people. Yep. The ones who complain about how lazy the federal government is and how little we do for them and then call their congress people and say how awful we are and tell them to fire us and take away our funding. Yep. Those people. That's who I work for. And you know what? I'm glad that I do because somebody needs to do my job and I'm very grateful that it gets to be me--ugly brown boring birds and all.

Child 3 getting into the Ensemble of the school musical is better than a brownie. I couldn't be prouder of her. She will be an awesome fish/crab/merperson/whatever.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Curse you stupid computer!

So my computer really, really stinks. I have no control over it any more. I turns itself on after I turn it off. It randomly blocks the internet, and the keys all stick. The first two things I'm pretty sure are a result of me buying it while we were in China. The last one, however, I'm pretty sure comes from one of the children eating something sticky and spilling it on the keyboard. Ugh. I would buy a new one, but since all of my money is going toward keeping Child 1 in Hawaii, I'm a little cash poor at the moment. So China, if you could just let me buy things off Amazon and post on my blog, I will be very grateful. I've run the virus scanning software a billion times and I can't find anything, so I assume it is either a very sophisticated program or I just have a crappy computer. It very well could be that last one.

And of course, the promotion panel looked at my EERs, shook the Magic 8 ball they use to determine promotability, and it said ask again later. So no promotion this year. And I would buy myself shoes as compensation, but Child 3 stole my Nikes, took them to school for gym, and promptly got them stolen out of her locker because they were awesome Nikes which of course they don't make anymore. So instead of lovely I didn't get an award or promoted shoes, I get to buy gym shoes for me. This was not my favorite week at all. I would much rather buy these boots than a stupid pair of Nikes.

However, at least I don't have Ebola. Now, just in case you think the government isn't doing anything to combat Ebola, you are wrong. Very wrong, because it's pretty much all we talked about this week, especially for people who work with West Africa like I do. There is a lot going on and a lot happening, but like all good works, that's not as newsworthy as pointing out what we did wrong. I mean, how many times did it make the news when crazy people didn't break into the White House? (Although, seriously Secret Service? You should hire The Dog and then no one will ever get through the front door again, not even the President because The Dog still hates men. Although the First Lady and Daughters won't have any problems. It's a thought. I will totally volunteer to lend her to you if you like.)

Another good news story that no one is talking about is how Nigeria completely stopped Ebola in it's tracks and totally crushed their outbreak.

I know you are thinking why isn't anyone telling Dallas authorities to ask Nigeria for help, and that is an excellent question. Because we are talking about a country that has much more limited resources than we do and yet they took action immediately and limited what could have been an exponential growth to 20 cases and completely shut. the whole thing. down. So all you people in Texas who are panicking, seriously start thinking about visiting Nigeria because they got this. And I am truly impressed, especially since I'm visiting there in two weeks. I'll let you all know just how strict their screening process is when I get back. Having Ebola eradicated from an entire country is way better than a brownie, just in case you were wondering. Way to go Nigeria!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Aujourd'hui est Mardi

I am doing a lot of French homework lately, or as we say in French, devoir! Normally, French would be very useful for me because I travel to Francophone Africa a lot, and as you know, I love it. I love the food, and the people, and the officers at the embassies that I've worked with, and the animals, and the experience of L'Afrique. Remember that giraffe that I got as change in the Congo? So I do spend some time before each trip brushing up on my bad college French so that I can follow conversations and nod in all the right places. But my next trip is not to L'Afrique, but to Allemagne, which if you speak French you know is Germany and they do not speak French there. They speak this:

What you may not know, or may have forgotten, or perhaps I never really mentioned it, is that I did at one time speak German, and at one time, I was fluent and probably could have told you what this said, but now all I can make out is that it's the 25th of March, 1763. Because after I lived in Austria and got pretty fluent, then came the Norwegian and then French and finally Cantonese and Mandarin and now I can't say anything at all in German, but I can understand the news on TV. So I am trying out a new "Learn to speak German" app on my phone and we'll see if it is helpful. Really, all I need to be able to do is order from a menu, which I think I can do, and then ask if it is gluten-free which I am certain I cannot. So I have some brushing up to do. Geben Sie mir hilfen!

You know what is not better than a brownie? Crimped hair, which I hear is making a comeback. Supposedly, it was on the runway for Stella McCartney, who has excellent taste and also good sense, which makes her an extraordinary designer. But the problem isn't that models on the runways may have crimped ponytails. The problem is that if you give some people a crimping iron, this happens.

I do love feathers, especially when poking out of a hat, but not when it's my hair. And red crimped hair = feathers. So designers, please, I'm begging. No crimping! Women are not birds and we should not have hair that makes us look like owls. Or eyebrows like Vulcans for that matter. So not flattering.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Mmm. Butterbeer.

Child 2 got her braces off last week, so this week I took her to a candy store to celebrate by buying her a bunch candy she couldn't eat with braces. And we didn't just go to any candy store, we went to the candy store of your dreams. The one that you always imagined existed but had never seen anywhere but in the movies. We went to this store.

Yes, it was the candy store of our imagination and our lives will never be the same now that we know there is a place you can go in the mall to buy butterbeer. Yep. They sell chocolate frogs, too. The girls loved it and Child 2 had a great time eating the taffy and lollipops she couldn't have before when the braces were on. Admittedly, it wasn't as fun for me since most of what there is in the candy store is chocolate. And oh the chocolate! Every delicious brand you can think of was in there, including Milka which is my very favorite. It was a Willy Wonka dream of a store and I couldn't eat a thing. I can, however, drink the butterbeer because it is both gluten and dairy free. Yay!

We Skyped with Child 3 over dinner today. We propped her up on the table so we could talk with her while we were eating. It felt a little cruel because she couldn't join in, but she thought it was great and wants to do it again next week. I think she misses me mostly for the food. We can talk and chat on facebook about the other stuff, but she can't eat pot roast over Skype. I now have a list of about 10 dishes she wants to make over Christmas that she misses at school. She also made me promise that we could have Thanksgiving dinner at Christmas so she could have it, too. I told her that's fine, but I'm still making it at Thanksgiving. We still don't know where we'll be next year and this may be our last opportunity to have a proper Thanksgiving dinner at home with all the trimmings. And since my stuffing is the most awesome stuffing you will ever eat, twice a year is fine by me.

It's Milan fashion week again which means fun for bloggers! And of course, there are lots of things that are not better than a brownie. Like these boots, for instance.


Now, I love a good pair of boots as much as the next person, but these are nothing like a good pair of boots. First of all, how do you get them on? Second of all, if you look closely, you can see that the little hinges poke out all over. So you would stab yourself in the thigh ever time you crossed your legs. And because they are so high up your thigh, you couldn't even really sit down in them. Can you imagine what they would do to your car upholstery? Not to mention an office chair would lose the battle every time. Thanks anyway, but I can't afford to reimburse the federal government for a chair that I destroyed by wearing crazy boots.

Friday, September 26, 2014

In which I come up with bad excuses not to help with dinner

I'm not hungry.
I don't want to.
SHE never has to help.
I'm playing with The Dog.
I'm tired.
I have homework.
We're having that? Count me out!
I hate tomatoes/pasta/fish/whatever that is.
I helped yesterday.
Why do I always have to?
I am wearing a band aid.
My life sucks. I'm going to my room.
I'm practicing my instrument.
But Cake Boss is on!
I think I have a fever.
Is this cough contagious?

And here are the answers.

Doesn't matter.
I don't care.
Yes she does.
Go wash your hands.
You can nap later.
You, always have homework.
Nope, you're in.
Eat around them.
Me, too.
Because it's what we do.
Then rip it off.
Alright, but after you set the table.
You can play dinner music after you're finished.
There is a tv in the kitchen!
Nice try but you don't.
Only if pretend illnesses are catching.

See? I've heard them all and have an answer for every one. Wanna keep playing?

Just so you know, stomach pain is not better than a brownie.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Crossing the Rubicon

So I have homework again. And it is really awful stupid homework which I have already done more than once and one time was three years ago. See, Child 2 is taking AP government and is reading the Federalist Papers. Now, I love James Madison as much as anyone, especially because Dolley was just awesome. This is a woman who loves to accessorize, and also knows the value of a Gilbert Stuart portrait. I think I have those same pearls!

The problem with James Madison, though, is that he writes in 18th century academic English and he takes forever to get to the point. Seriously, Pres. Madison, could you just state at the beginning of each paper what your point is so I don't have to read the rest? Because I read them in college, and then again in grad school, and then again with Child 1. So now I'm really really hoping that we get overseas before Child 3 has to take AP American Government or I will lose my mind.

I have a question for you. Say you auditioned for a part in a play, or commercial, or whatever, and there were twice as many actors auditioning as there are parts. And say someone you know whom you believe is not as good of an actor as you also auditioned and they got a part and you didn't. Would you call up the director and ask why you didn't get the part when the other person did and complain that everyone said they were shocked that you didn't and bug the director until she wants to reach into the phone and strangle you and then you cry and say you were only trying to be "proactive"? No? Yeah, well someone in the Department thought that would be a spiffy kind of strategy and I had to sit on a phone call and reassure that fine officer that no, it wasn't personal, and perhaps another time they could get what they want. Except, I was lying. See, it wasn't personal when I made the decision, (and no, Child 2, the Department does not put on plays, I'm just not saying what the thing really was that I was deciding) but it sure as heck is personal now because that was not a fun phone call and I didn't enjoy it one bit. It was the kind of phone call where when you hang up, everyone in earshot says oh my goodness what was that about!

I explained very carefully to the officer that many times in the Foreign Service you will not get what you want and it is not a good idea to call people up and badger them about why. I also suggested that perhaps before making such a call, it would be a good idea to run that by your supervisor. Sometimes supervisors will head you off from committing career suicide before you reach the cliff. But in this case, the officer did talk to the supervisor who promised to call me and try to make me change my mind and then never did. It wouldn't have worked anyway, because as the children will tell you, once I make up my mind, I do not change it and whining never ever works. Ever. Really. Never ever. Sometimes I would look at the whining child and ask if she was whining. She would say yes. Then I would ask if that ever worked. And she would say no. Then I'd say well why are you still whining! This strategy occasionally worked. Sometimes I would also say talk in a big girl voice because I don't speak whining. And then I would ignore the whining until it stopped. I have said for years that being a Mom makes me a better Foreign Service Officer because it taught me how to say no firmly but nicely. To be fair, I haven't had to use those lines on the children in years. And I suppose it's a human reaction to want to know why something didn't go the way you wanted it to. But it is not a good idea to whine about it to anyone but your closest friends. Or people who read your blog. It's OK to complain to them. But not the decision makers. Not ever. And also, I got to decide something!

You know what is better than a brownie? A dog being rescued by a manatee. No, really. That is a dog trying to climb out of a river, and that is the manatee who guarded him all night.

A little humanity shown by non-humans is just what I needed today. However, if that were The Dog, she would have tried to eat the manatee. Do manatees taste better than shoes? We will never know.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Ugh! I so don't want to use my brain tonight!

So my computer is self destructing. It is having issues which means I have to dig deep into my brain to pull out computer stuff that I used to know and make it reconnect to the internet and stay connected. See, don't know if I mentioned that back in the day, I worked for a very famous software company. Today, if I mentioned the name of that company to Child 1 she would say what is that? But back in the day it had enough money to send everyone to Hawaii for a Christmas bonus. I, of course, was hired shortly after the bonus was given and then the next year, we got beach towels and frisbees instead. But I do know something about computers and they are not completely foreign to me. So when I talk to computer support people at work, I get a little impatient with them when they treat me like I'm an old lady that only knows how to play Solitaire. I am old, and I'm a lady, but I'm also a former geek, so leave me alone! Anyway, I made it work so now I am blogging. See what lengths I am willing to go for you, Child 1? I am actually thinking.

Except now I can't remember what I was going to blog about. Not bidding. I still hate bidding. Not The Dog vomiting all over the carpet because that was so not very much fun. Not the Assistant Secretary who popped into my cubicle this morning to ask how I was. That made my heart stop for a second and thank goodness I was writing an e-mail at the time and not goofing around with my office mates. Nope. Whatever it was, it's gone. I'm too tired to think of something else and I have to help Child 3 with her French homework. Maybe it was about how much I hate doing homework when I don't have any? Ugh.

OK, here is the part where I confess that I used to watch the Miss America pageant religiously. Not because I loved it, but because, um, I liked to make fun of the contestants. I know! You are thinking why didn't I do this on my blog? And the answer is because I am trying to be a better person, not a person who is better at snark. So I haven't watched it in years and also it's not on prime time and who has time to channel surf looking for a beauty pageant? Now, I am determined to not watch it ever again, because in addition to destroying the ozone layer with their hairspray cans, the Miss America pageant is also a big fat liar! (And yes, one last snarky comment about a fat Miss America, but in this case I'm talking about the organization.) And lying about how much money you give to women scholars is not better than a brownie in any way. So in addition to not being able to create world peace in a 20 second sound bite, they also can't count. To the Miss America Organization, $45 million is not the same as $4 million. Maybe you should make passing mathematics a prerequisite to entering the competition. I am glad I stopped watching you years ago. Instead, I will donate a scholarship to my own female student (Child 1) which is called "paying for my daughter's education." She will not need to parade around in a swimsuit and be given a number score to receive it. She only needs to call me every once in a while and say she loves me. Which she totally did twice today. OK, one was a text, but still. I miss her.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Heart. Is. Breaking. Sob!

Migraine again this morning. Seriously, I need to start counting the days that I don't have a headache. They are getting to be fewer and fewer. Surprisingly, OK actually not surprising at all, I didn't have a single migraine the entire time I was in Hawaii, despite being in the sun all the time. I drank a lot of water and juice and diet Pepsi so that might have helped, but it is extremely stressful setting your daughter up for college so far away, yet not. one. migraine. Huh. So maybe I need to just chuck it all and go to a place that is sunny and lovely and I'm happy being there every minute. Oh yeah. I have to pay for the college in Hawaii. So I'll just have to suck it up and deal with the constant stress and commuting and headaches and whatever. I so want to go back to Hawaii!

So today we went on the most epic shopping trip to the grocery store ever! According to Child 3. What we did is we went to Target and bought groceries. But apparently if those groceries include things like pumpkin spice chips for making cookies and maple frosting, it is epic. I told Child 2 that yes, since she got her braces off she could buy Jolly Ranchers and she said I was the most awesome mom ever and the woman standing near us in the aisle said wow she wished her kids felt that way. And I told her that apparently letting your children buy candy is the key and she laughed. But I wasn't really kidding. I am totally willing to buy their love with a $2.50 bag of candy if that is all it takes.

So then we got home and Child 3 was bored so she decorated the house and now it looks like Halloween threw up in our living room. There are ghosts and streamers and bats and cauldrons and pumpkins everywhere. I had forgotten we have this much stuff. But she is happy about the way it looks. I just hope people don't trip over the pumpkins on the stairs. Maybe we should move them before I break my ankle again? At least we don't have this many.

For dinner, I drove out to our old stomping grounds to meet the other moms from Child 1's playgroup when she was a baby. Two of them made it and we all commiserated about how hard it was to send our babies off to college. Except that their daughter's are both going to schools that are less than a day's drive away and mine is on the other side of the world. Yes, I know you are thinking that it is my own fault but I am not the one who put Hawaii in the middle of the Pacific Ocean because geography!

Then finally, we Skyped with Child 1 and it was so hard not to be able to reach through the computer to give her a big kiss. She is doing well and is having a lot of fun, making friends and finally admits that being from Virginia is kind of cool and she misses it. Ha! So, Skyping with family members on the other side of the world is better than a brownie, and so are the gluten free sugar cookies with maple frosting that we are making tomorrow. At least I hope they will be.

Friday, September 19, 2014


So today is International Talk Like a Pirate Day and I know you are all participating and saying things like Ahoy, Matey! And shiver me timbers! And I'm the captain now! Oh wait, that last one you should save for talk like a Somali Pirate Day, which to be fair to pirates around the world, we celebrated at work, too. Some of us sounded like Captain Jack Sparrow movie, some of us like Somalis, and there was one guy who can only do a Russian accent, but since Russia is acting like a bunch of pirates stealing peoples land and stuff, that was kind of appropriate, too.

So I was thinking it was a pretty good day until Child 3 called and said she lost her school election, which made me sad because she had some great ideas. And then bidding. See the problem with bidding is that it stinks, worse than a pirate on a 6 month voyage with no shower. It's all a shell game and I suck at those because I'm too lazy to follow the right shell all the way through. If only they valued a great sense of humor and the ability to blog about nothing, then I would so have a shot at a great job. But no, it's things like being able to be diplomatic that gets you a job. So since I have a tendency to say things like that's the stupidest idea I ever heard and I'm not going to do that, I have a slight disadvantage. OK, I'm not quite that blunt and I've never actually said that at work to anyone but Husband, but I'm not a kisser upper, either. I want people to like me because I'm great at my job, not great at schmoozing. And I hate to say it, but the schmoozers still have an advantage in this business. Husband is confident we will get something good, and by "we" he means he and maybe I can telework. I'm not so very happy with that plan. If only I could find a job where I could get paid to talk like a pirate. Yer all a bunch o scallywags and I be tellin ye so! Make them bidders walk the plank!

After the election loss and the bad bidding news, I was kind of in a daze, and I took the bus home. That would normally be fine except I drove to the metro today so this evening when we went to get in the car to go to dinner to cheer up Child 3--no car. Husband asked me where I put it and I was completely confused. And totally still do not remember driving to the metro. So we drove Child 1's car to dinner and then he made me get out at the metro and drive it home. So I'm going to bed. Sorry. too tired for piratey things. Tonight I really am the Pirate who doesn't do anything. Anyone have some cheese curls and rootbeer? (Children, please tell me you get that reference.)

You know what is not better than a brownie? Killing the very people who have come to help you. I have not been to Guinea yet, but I have some very good friends who have served there. They all really, really love the people and have good things to say about them. Many people in the Department, including me, are working very hard to support those countries affected by the Ebola epidemic through this crisis. But we can't help if ignorance triumphs over knowledge. So to the wonderful people of Guinea, we are so sorry for all your many losses during this epidemic and please let us help you through the crisis. And to the families of those who died, our hearts are with you and are broken at the loss of these eight heroes. This is a photo of one of them, Pastor Moise Mamy pictured here with his wife, Nowei.

Monday, September 15, 2014

My call was important to them.

I may have had the longest computer support call ever today in the entire history of the Department. It was over three hours. And to their credit, they stayed with me on the line until the problem was resolved. I'm actually stunned because at one point, they told me they had no idea what to do because we had tried everything except buying a new computer, which I was almost ready to go do myself. But they were patient and persistent and eventually we tried something that finally worked. But that was at 4 in the afternoon, so I had to work until around 10 to make up for it. So ugh.

See, the problem is that I somehow glutened myself without knowing it and I woke up sick as a dog and unable to get out of bed so I stayed in it and tried to telecommute when I felt better. But then I couldn't connect to the system and then I called IT and the rest should be recorded for posterity because I'm not sure I believe it myself. So that was my day. It was fairly sucky until this.

Yes, that is Alfonso Ribeiro and it is a cheesy Dancing with the Stars photo because I can't find an actual photo of his dance because it was just finished 20 minutes ago. But I think I'm a little in love. He was. A. Maz. Ing! A real dancer and I was hooked. Child 3 says she now needs to watch Fresh Prince of Bel Air so she can see him. So yes, for once DWTS was better than a brownie. It was a nice distraction from bidding, which don't get me started on.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Say that again. Go ahead. I dare you.

Remember those lazy weekends when you could sleep in, have a late brunch and take a long walk in the beautiful fall weather? Nope. Me neither. I haven't had one of those in over 18 years. And today was a doozy. The weather was gorgeous, but I didn't get to enjoy it for even 5 minutes because Child 3 was crying all morning and Child 2 decided to go on the warpath in the afternoon. She spent most of the afternoon yelling at me and calling her sister a punk and accusing everyone of hiding her stuff, which was not hidden but put in front of her bedroom door, which she had to step over to get out of her room. So no, definitely not hidden.

Where was Husband during all this commotion, you might ask, and the answer would be where he always is which is at work. Bidding, you know. So I am at home trying to help Child 3 stop crying long enough to finish her homework, learn about the three branches of government and write a campaign speech all the while fending off the barbs from Child 2 and Husband walks in right in the middle of it and tells me to lighten up. Yes. He said that. Lighten. Up. Well, since you know me by now, you know that that went over about as well as an elephant jumping a fence. He has since apologized.

The thing is, Child 2 is supposed to be the easy one. The one who does her homework and doesn't call people names and actually does the dishes when I ask. But now that Child 1 isn't here, she is yelling at everybody. I think it might be lack of sleep and also she misses her sister. I'm hoping it will pass and that we're not in the throes of angry teenage-girldom again.

So wish Child 3 good luck on her campaign for Student Council Vice President. I have no idea if she will win, but she has some great ideas, an awesome campaign speech, and is passing out candy, which is an acceptable and popular form of campaigning in 7th grade apparently. Speaking of campaigning, it is election season again. Someone local running for treasurer came by with his brochure wearing a US Embassy Tashkent polo shirt, so of course I asked him why he was in Tashkent. He was USAID, so I told him I was Foreign Service and he said, "thank you for your service." It made me want to cry. That is the only time anyone has ever said that to me. So now I'm definitely voting for him. Good campaign tactic! And also USAID people know about budgets.

Threatening to shoot an 11 year old boy over practicing the clarinet is in no way better than a brownie. I'm so angry that this woman ever thought that was acceptable that I'm not putting up her picture. She doesn't deserve the publicity. She is selfish and evil and I sincerely hope she loses her ability to own firearms forever. Honestly, what is wrong with people?!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

The friendships DO last long at Kellerman's!

The jet lag is a little better, although I still feel like a zombie at about 8pm. Like now it is 9:30 and my eyes are beginning to cross, but I told Child 1 that I would blog more so that she could know what's going on at home. So here is what is going on--bidding. The thing about bidding is that it totally takes over your life so it's all you can think about. And this lasts for months. And then it starts invading your dreams. In fact, every time we bid, I have a premonition dream about where we're going to be assigned and I get all excited because I think I have ESP. You can tell I have ESP because so far we have been assigned to Lithuania and Burma, just like in my dreams.

The bidding thing is mostly what Husband and I talk about. So do the kids have homework? Did you write the DCM? Have you heard from Post? Who walked The Dog? Do we know anyone who can lobby for us? Why hasn't anyone walked The Dog? So that football game. . . oh, I just thought of who would be a good 360 for you! Why didn't anyone tell me we were out of dog food? Look at these pictures of housing! What about the schools? Is the high school any good? No, I said homework first, then dinner. Why is The Dog whining? You can't take dogs to that post? Don't tell the children, but now it's my favorite bid.

Even when we went out on a date for Thai food, we were talking about 360s (which are what the Department calls references) and which posts would have good restaurants and how we would have to bring a lot of gluten-free soy sauce in our consumables. In fact, I a so sick of bidding, that when my friend at work suggested we have a girls' day out, I jumped, leaped really, at the chance to NOT talk about bidding. Especially when I learned we were going to this:

Yes, we saw Dirty Dancing, the musical. It was very, very like the movie, except the guy playing Johnny couldn't act. But he could kind of dance, so that was good. And it was fun to be with friends, and man does my friend "Sunn" love the movie. She bought the sweat jacket that says This Is My Dance Space and I'm kind of jealous because that is my favorite part of the movie/musical. The only sad note of the day is that I now have the Kellerman's Anthem running through my head and I can't get it out. Somebody help! No more voices and hands and hearts, please.

You know what is not better than a brownie? Joking about violence perpetrated by NFL players. So you all know I love football, but I do not love the fact that millionaire football players think it's OK to beat up women and children. Personal violence is not OK, and if you can't learn to leave it on the field, you don't deserve to play professional sports. I don't care how good you are. It's time for us to stop giving people a pass just because they're famous athletes. Thank goodness for people like CBS Sportscaster James Brown who called it like it is and said real men care about being respectful to women and that, "For instance, when a guy says ‘you throw the ball like a girl,’ or ‘you’re a little sissy,’ it reflects an attitude that devalues women. And attitudes will eventually manifest in some fashion.” I think I love him.

OK. Child 3 just asked who Isaac Mizrahi is and why do fashion designers have such weird hair. So I have to fix that. And no, that's not contradictory. The awesome thing about being a modern woman is having choices, so I can love football and fashion. The two are not mutually exclusive.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

For the last time, I am jet lagged! Jet. Lagged.

Correction.  For the record, I am never wrong. But Child 1 says that Bonnie is a terrible name, so from henceforth,  Bonnie will be known as Miranda. It is not 1930 after all. And also for the record, Bonnie is the perfect name for Child 1's partner in crime. But whatever. I am too tired to care.

I also have to apologize to Child 3 for dropping her off at an activity that is actually next week. So maybe I'm occasionally wrong.

Are almond horns better than a brownie? Discuss.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Are you sure that's not a dinosaur?

So the thing about tropical islands is that they come with bugs. Big bugs. Huge. Really, the largest roach I have ever seen in my life died on my windowsill. I used my traditional method of dealing with bugs which is to completely ignore that they are there. Once, when Husband was away at that Place That We Don't Speak Of, I killed a spider with a shoe and left the shoe on the spider. One of the children asked me why was my shoe in the middle of the floor, which I swear was the only time she has EVER noticed something in the middle of the floor, and I said it was hiding a dead spider. And she asked me if I was going to clean up the spider and I said no and I didn't. Somebody eventually vacuumed up that spider, but it was not me. So when the roach expired on my window sill, I did not clean it up, and my new old friend "Eileen" told her daughter who promptly cleaned up the roach because she is a bug disposer as well as a bug killer. This is what the roach looked like. Keep in mind that it was almost as big as my hand. Eileen's daughter is extremely brave.

I have to explain about Eileen. She is a friend from when Child 1 was small. Eileen's daughter "Bonnie" and Child 1 have birthdays two days apart and we celebrated them together. Then she moved to West Virginia and we moved to Asia and I haven't seen her in about 13 years. So when we discovered that Bonnie was also going to attend the same school as Child 1, Eileen offered to rent a house with me close to the school, so we did and it was so, so very much fun that now I am plotting ways to get to West Virginia to hang out with her more often.

So the other thing that happened is that Child 1 made me get on Instagram. Apparently, the cool kids no longer hang out on facebook because that is for moms. Instead, they take photos and put them on Instagram and compete for likes. So Child 1 helped me sign up for an account and then took my phone from me and liked all of her photos. Because that is apparently the only reason mothers should have Instagram accounts--so they can like all of their daughter's photos. Oh, and I also discovered Child 3 has an Instagram because Google+ suggested I follow her on it. Oops! So that's another good reason for moms to be up on technology or how else could we check up on our children?

So I know you are all wondering how bidding is going and the answer is I don't want to talk about it. I hate bidding worse than ever. OK, I don't want to talk about it but I do want to rant a little. This is how bad bidding is and how ridiculous it has become: I am targeting active war zones and countries with horrifying epidemics because I think that might give me a better chance at finding a job. So anywhere that is in the news because something horrible is happening, that is where I'm submitting a bid. War zone? Great. Ebola? Even better. War zone AND Ebola? That's my top choice! And the saddest thing of all is that I'm apparently not the only one with this strategy because all those places have about 100 bidders each so I'm still out of luck.

You know what is also better than a brownie? Pineapple gummy bears. I love you Dole Plantation gift shop!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

The price for paradise is no Chipotle

Child 1 is all moved into her dorm and I am back from Hawaii after a looong and sleepless plane ride with no food. Yes, I did bring my own, but gluten-free options that are shelf stable and that you can take on a plane are slim to none in Hawaii and it is hard to subsist on pop-chips and nuts for 10 hours. Seriously why does United not offer gluten-free lunch items for purchase? You wouldn't even have to call them gluten-free--just call them Paleo or something and offer cheese and grapes. I don't do well with diary, either, but at about 6 hours into the flight, I would have taken it over the nothing I had.

Anyway, Hawaii, as you expect was wonderful. I had forgotten how delicious the ocean is there. It was the perfect temperature and not cloudy at all and so wonderful I never wanted to get out. I mean, just look at it!

We had a lot of fun going to the beach almost daily, which is super easy when it is outside your back door. But one thing I wasn't prepared for was how far away everything was going to be. It took hours to get to Target or Wal-Mart and back and I also did not know how many times we were going to have to go to Target. Because even with checking four suitcases, we still did not have enough stuff, and also you can't fit a big fan in a suitcase and since people in Hawaii don't believe in air conditioning  you need a fan.

I know you are wondering what people in Hawaii have against people being comfortable and the answer is I have no idea. They say things like "you don't need air conditioning here." And "it's not that hot." Well, if you can survive 90 degrees and 100% humidity with no breeze, then you are Hawaiian, which I am not and neither is Child 1 and she didn't sleep very well until we got that fan. Also, if you have child who is addicted to burrito bowls at Chipotle, please tell her before you get to Hawaii that there are not any Chipotle restaurants on her island because apparently if you don't tell her beforehand, then the lack of any of her favorite restaurants becomes your fault entirely. However, the fact that Forever 21 is literally next door to the Cheesecake Factory makes up for that a little bit, especially if you buy her lots of harem pants to wear to class. Harem pants are the new yoga pants apparently.

I am jet lagged, so I am going to bed now, but I can tell you for certain that Matsumoto's shave ice is definitely better than a brownie and completely worth the hype. I know because we went twice. Serious deliciousness in a paper cone. And completely gluten-free.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Breathe in, breathe out, breathe in, breathe out, repeat

Child 1 is leaving. We're packing her suitcases and The Dog is all sad and mopey. The Dog gets sad and mopey whenever she sees suitcases. I suppose she's not as stupid as we think. Last weekend when Husband and I went to North Carolina for his friend's wedding, The Dog was extremely mopey and puzzled but the children stayed home with her so it was alright.

Speaking of the wedding, apparently dancing with glo-sticks is a real thing and not just on TLC on all those wedding shows. Also, since Husband's friend served with him in Afghanistan, there was a lot of reminiscing and some talk of the explosion. Husband says he doesn't have PTSD, but I must because I had to get up and leave in order not to start sobbing right there at the table. I haven't felt like that in a long, long time. I like these friends a lot, so somehow I have to figure out how to hang out with them and not burst out into tears at the first mention of explosions and dust and guns.

But back to Child 1, she. is. leaving. me! For this:

I know. I don't blame her either. If you remember, I was routing for Hawaii all along. But now that it's actually happening, I'm extremely sad. Preparing for this day for 18 years doesn't help any, in case you were wondering. It still feels like someone is peeling my skin off bit by bit. I don't like it. I do realize that my job as a mother is to ensure that the children grow up and launch successfully into the world, but now that point in time has arrived, I can't help but wish it had taken a little longer. Someone at work asked me if I could have any superpower in the world, what would it be and I didn't hesitate a second before replying "stopping time."

There was a movie on TV a long time ago called "The Girl, the Gold Watch, and Everything." I'm sure it was an awful movie, but since I saw it as a kid, I thought it was awesome. It had that girl from "Mork & Mindy" in it.

Anyway, this watch could actually stop time for everyone but you. So you could just halt time and do what you wanted, and while in the movie they used it to make money, I would use it just to look at the children for as long as I wanted without them saying to stop staring at them and what is wrong with me and is there something the matter with their hair?

There is nothing wrong with their hair. The only thing wrong is that they are growing up and I'm not a fan of that.

So you know what else is not better than a brownie? Bees. In your ceiling. 50,000 of them.

Now, I am allergic to bees. They are a big enough problem for me that my allergist prescribed an epi-pen that I am supposed to carry around in case I get stung. So I think I would, no, I know I would have noticed if there were 50,000 of them living in the ceiling of my apartment. But apparently this woman in Queens did not. Not the constant humming or the smell of honey which must have been strong because beekeepers removed 17 huge honeycombs. So here's to you, Bee Queen, for not letting a few bees bother you. If you had been Child 2, you would have screamed at the top of your lungs every time you saw one and that nice farm in upstate NY would not have 50,000 new residents. Really. The bees were sent to a big farm with a lovely meadow where they can play all day. At least that is what they told the lady in Queens.

Monday, August 11, 2014


I'm blogging on my iPod because I just can't be bothered to turn on my computer. I'm working on 3 hours of sleep. I keep having nightmares about bidding. Because bidding is a nightmare. Really. So now in addition to fixing problems in Africa that I didn't create, I get to beg people to give me a job. Ugh.

And The Dog injured her back, so now we have to carry her up and down the stairs. And she is one fat dog, and doesn't like to be carried, so you can imagine how much fun that is. The children are already arguing about who has to carry The Dog. The only good thing is that she is in too much pain to go in my closet and eat my shoes. 

So you know what is not better than a brownie? A tick that makes you allergic to meat. Yep. There is a bug that can bite you and make you have an allergic reaction the next time you have a piece of bacon. It's only a matter of time. Who wants to start a pool? I'll put 10 bucks on May 2015. Because all I really have left is bacon and it would be just like fate to take that away, too.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Dinner with Cougars

So I got an email last week that asked me to take a cougar to lunch. It literally said "Take a Cougar to Lunch" in the subject line, which threw me for a bit. But it's a little less risque if you know that my college mascot is the Cougars and this was the Alumni Association asking me to take a student to lunch to tell him all about my job because he was in DC and is interested in the Foreign Service. So being a dutiful Alumna, I invited him and his wife over for dinner because I don't have time to eat lunch. There is a lot happening in Africa at the moment. Last week, my boss's boss's boss actually gave me until 3:30 on Thursday to fix Africa. OK, not the whole continent, but this one issue, and I did. I actually made a plan to fix it that was finished by 3:30 on Thursday and people liked it and are following it! I know. I was totally surprised, too. Why 3:30?

But anyway, I had this student and his wife (don't judge, he's in a graduate program) over for dinner to tell them about the Foreign Service and we ate Korean food which I cooked because you cannot get good Korean food that is gluten free at a Korean restaurant. I know. I tried last week and it was rather a disaster and Child 3 and I ate unseasoned chicken and rice while everyone else ate delicious Korean barbecue. So anyway, after working all day to fix Africa, I rushed home, ran to the international market down the street, bought a bunch of Asian food including beef and pickled radishes and rice cakes and we regaled this young couple with tales of life in the Foreign Service. He seems rather keen and she seems a little reluctant. However, I think she was reassured by our "normal" children who ate the rice cakes and talked about how much they loved China, and seemed very smart and cosmopolitan. We totally fooled them!

Here is a picture of the pickled radishes which Child 2 is apparently addicted to. Also we had mango. Oh how I love fresh mango!

I know you are wondering why I would invite some stranger over with his wife and cook them food on a weeknight when I am tired from fixing Africa. (OK, you PCers. That is a joke. I can't fix anything and there are large parts of Africa that are just fine. And I really love Africa so stop judging.) But the reason is that when I was a newlywed and Husband and I lived in Armpit, Asia and it tried to kill me, there was a nice Foreign Service couple who had us over for dinner and fixed us something with jasmine rice and I couldn't get over how delicious that rice was. And they were nice to us just because they were nice people and I have always wanted to return the favor. So I did. And also we discovered peanut butter rice cakes, so it was a win for everyone.

You know what is better than a brownie? A good laugh, in public if possible. Emma Watson obviously agrees.

Emma Watson (Instagram)

You see, there is a really not very bright politician in Turkey who said that women should save their sense of humor for their private lives and it isn't modest to laugh in public. So Ms. Watson posted this picture of herself on Instagram. So thank you, Emma, for standing up for women by laughing and thank you to the women of Turkey who have posted their laughing selves at this hashtag: #direnkahkaha. You are all inspiration to me. Now I'm going to go have a good belly laugh with the children, just because we can. After we finish the peanut butter rice cakes.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Things I didn't know

There are lots of things I don't know, but here are some things I learned over the past couple of weeks.

  1. You can have a migraine for 5 days straight and it won't kill you, although you might wish at times that it would.
  2. You can get lost in your own neighborhood when your head hurts so much that it feels like an ice pick is trying to push its way out through your eye-brow.
  3. You should not drive when there are ice picks in your head.
  4. Although our townhouse only has three bedrooms, it can sleep 13.
  5. The Dog doesn't like it when there are 8 extra people sleeping in our house.
  6. It is really hard to plan dinners for 13 people when you have ice picks in your head.
  7. Gabrielle is even more awesome than you know, because without even knowing about the ice picks, she made dessert for 17 people (the 13 plus her family of four) AND she made it gluten free AND without dairy AND no chocolate! AND it was from scratch!
  8. I hate bidding.

OK. That last one I knew already, but you might not know that it is now bidding season again in the Foreign Service and I have to once again beg people all around the world to give me a job. It, in a word, sucks. If I believed that my migraines were caused by stress, then I might believe that bidding might be the cause of my five days of ice picks. It is frustrating beyond belief for someone who reads the end of the book first and likes to know what she's getting for Christmas before she opens the gifts. I hate surprises and I don't like suspense. And now I'm facing three months of uncertainty before I find out what my future will be, and, by the way, I have no say. OK, I have some say, but the say I have is in not bidding on the places I don't want to go. So I am not going to bid on anywhere that has recently blown up or doesn't have a high school for the children or that requires learning a really hard language that can only be used at that post. (Yes, I'm talking about you, Hungary!) I don't have anything against Hungary, but I will never ever be assigned to Hungary because it is nice and I am a "fair share" bidder.

Oh, you don't know what "fair share" bidders are? Well, it's when the Department tells you that all the places you have served are too nice and you have to bid on places like Ecoliland or Ickystan, or somewhere else that no one else ever wants to go. And you have to have the majority of your bids be these places. You see, because having Husband almost blown up in Afghanistan apparently does not count. So I am "fair share." But here is the thing, Gods of Bidding, I only ever bid on Ecoliland and Ickystan, and Armpitia! And you never assign me there! So just for once, please smile on me and give me and Husband both jobs in Ecoliland. And please don't make me beg anymore. It's making my head hurt.

You know what is not better than a brownie? Road rage. However, what happened to this driver is almost brownie-worthy. You see, he was in a rage and got out of his car while stopped at a red light to bang on another driver's window. Except he was a little drunk and when he got out of the car, he forgot to put it in park, and when the other drove away, his own car ran over him. So here's to you, Mr. Rager, for taking care of your own punishment for bad behavior. And here's to the Florida police for also charging him with a DUI.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Oops! Didn't mean to push publish you stupid computer!

I am in the house alone. Children 2 & 3 are at camp with Husband and Child 1 is out somewhere with friends I don't know, so it's just me and The Dog. Yep. The Dog is still here and she still drives me crazy. She hasn't eaten my shoes for a while and she's stopped pooping on the carpet, mostly because I think the children actually walk her daily. But she is still always under my feet and someday she will break my ankle. Granted, it's not that hard to break my ankle, but still. When I trip over her and fall and break something, I will totally blame The Dog.

Caroline and I went to dinner tonight to celebrate the fact that I was on my own. OK, really it was just an excuse to eat really yummy Vietnamese food and chat, but it was fun. I have this new favorite Vietnamese place. I order the same thing every time because I know it doesn't have soy sauce and it won't make me sick. The staff are really good about checking with me on what I can and can't eat. The prices are reasonable, and the food is delicious! Tonight we tried the Vietnamese version of Baked Alaska called a winter roll. Basically it's a deep-fried spring roll with frozen yogurt and fruit in the middle. It was awesome and delicious and the wrapper was made from rice, so I could totally eat it. I made a big mess, but Caroline said that was the only way to eat such a delicious dessert. And also "fried" is a food group and it had fruit so it was healthy!

It would be awesome with mango and banana. I need a deep fryer.

No really. I've been thinking about this for a long time. I know they start fires and I know that fried foods are supposed to be unhealthy, but I can't have the fast food versions of things like french fries because a lot of them use wheat flour to make them crispy, and I can't eat egg rolls because they are also made with wheat, and you have to deep fry egg rolls and fries, and fried chicken, so I need a deep fryer. Now, if only I can find a way to keep The Dog from tripping me and knocking it over.

You know what is better than a brownie? Buying pizzas for your passengers when your flight is delayed.

That's what a pilot for Frontier Airlines did when they had to land in Cheyenne and wait for weather to clear over Denver. I know you are wonder why I am applauding pizza buying when I can't eat pizza, but sometimes it is the thought that counts. Thoughts won't make your stomach stop growling, but it will make you like an airline a little better. United and Delta, you're on notice! I bet no one from Frontier Airlines demands to see your medical records when you ask for a gluten-free meal. Yeah. That actually happened. United customer service sucks.