Monday, April 21, 2014

Where's my sunscreen?

We have a college decision, and it's Hawaii! I know you are thinking what an awesome idea it is for her to go to a vacation spot for college and you are so right! I mean, how else am I going to get to Hawaii on a regular basis? I believe you should completely raise your children to consider your need for a vacation when choosing a school. OK, not exactly. She chose that particular school because it will be great for her and I am very supportive. So supportive, in fact, that I have already arranged with a friend to rent a house on the beach for orientation week. A girl needs her vacay time.

But first, we went to Texas to see my parents for spring break which ended up meaning that we drove back and forth to the hospital a lot because my dad decided the prospect of seeing us was so stressful that he would rather be in intensive care. OK, again I'm exaggerating a little bit, although not much because one time I called him and he literally had a heart attack. While we were on the phone. Really. It was a very scary infection this time, but he is doing much better now and my mom didn't even complain that we brought The Dog with us who was really pretty well behaved except for that one thing that she ate that we will now have to replace before my dad finds out. Sorry, Mom.

But we also got to see this with Sister 3 which every good Texan should do at least once.

It was awesome and then we ate Tex Mex and felt really at home. And then we left to drive back. It was a vacation of drive drive drive hospital hospital hospital longhorns drive drive drive. Oh and one day where we went to see Muppets Most Wanted and had the theater entirely to ourselves. I may have danced to the closing credits. Just a little.

You know what is not better than a brownie? Spinach with bird legs in it. I can't post the picture because it is too disturbing, but a woman bought a bag of Dole spinach salad and it came with some extra protein. When she called to complain, they offered her a coupon for a new bag. Um, no thank you. She said she won't be eating spinach salad again for a while and I completely don't blame her. Ewww! Could produce companies work a little harder to not have these problems? If it isn't spiders in the grapes, it's birds in the salad. Farmer's market, here I come! At least there you can look the farmer in the eye and complain if you find animal parts.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Tomorrow is another day, maybe.

Day 10 of EER avoidance. My co-workers, most of whom are civil service and therefore don't need an EER, have take to calling it EERRRRR, which you have to say like you're growling and really makes me feel much better about the whole thing.

The good news, though, is that spring is finally here after a winter that lasted about 5 months too long and now Washington looks like this.

Husband and I actually walked to the Mall to take this photo at lunch yesterday, which was awesome. Or it would have been if we both weren't so stressed about all the eerrrrrrrs. No, it was actually a lovely break, and it made me so happy I didn't even care that not a single food truck had gluten-free food. OK, I cared a little, but I didn't get hangry which is a word and why no one thought of it before is beyond me because it perfectly describes how cranky I get when there is no food. My friend "Caroline" knows this because she got me a gluten-free cookbook from America's Test Kitchen and it is awesome. There are lots and lots of dessert recipes in it and I am going to test a bunch next week, beginning with lemon bars. I will let you all know how it goes because I know you are dying to find out if it is possible to make gluten-free lemon bars. Well, we'll see next week!

You know what is better than a brownie? Pictures of the Royal play date.

Prince George first play date

That is the future King of England playing on the rug with other babies in New Zealand. And he is cute as a button. Seriously, you could just pinch those chubby cheeks all day! What an adorable little guy. 

Monday, April 7, 2014

Daily Outrage

I know you are wondering why I am blogging so much. She never blogs anymore, you say. And you are right. I have been very lazy and instead of blogging at night, I've been watching reruns of The Big Bang Theory. But now it is EER season, so I have the computer open and I'm ready to work on my EER, but I. Don't. Want. To. I hate my stupid EER. It's dumb and stupid and dumb. And boring.

So instead of writing how great I am at my job, which I really actually am, not to brag or anything but I so am. Instead of doing that, I'm going write about my job without actually writing about my job. Don't worry. It will all make sense. You see, I have a job that everyone thinks is easy, and actually, it's not that hard. But it takes patience and attention to detail and you have to follow the rules. We remind people of the rules all the time, so they should all be just fine. Anyone who listens to me can do it; the problem is the actual listening. We used to joke that a trained monkey could do our job, but the problem with monkeys is attention span, and the whole throwing feces thing which would be frowned on at the Department. No, this job isn't for monkeys, because it requires extreme attention to detail and remembering the rules and listening to the voice of experience which apparently is really, really hard.

So it's like this. Say someone gives you a page of numbers and says you have do simple subtraction and multiplication alternating on every other one. Sounds simple, right? So you do. You finish in record time. And then they give you another page and then another and then another. And you get bored after the 1,000th page and you decide to start using algebra because you can and you are bored. And then I ask you why are you using algebra instead of subtraction and multiplication. And you say because you are smarter than that. And then I sigh and remind you that you need to do only what we asked you to which was multiplication and subtraction. And you then throw a fit and tell me how much better you are than me or this stupid job. That is what I deal with every day. Except sometimes the officers veer off into calculus and trigonometry and some of them appear to be painting by numbers and doing no math at all. This is an awesome painting with numbers, but it is not math.

So that is why it's so lovely to come home at the end of the day and have children who listen to me and do what I ask. Oh. Wait. . . I do love the children and today they even helped with dinner and dishes, although I had to bribe one of them with chocolate. Maybe I should start bribing people at work with chocolate.

You know what is better than a brownie? Finding a lost Fabergé egg.

Someone actually bought this to sell for scrap and only found out it was a lost Imperial Easter Fabergé Egg and is worth millions when they looked on the internet. Awesome. Now I've wasted a whole evening blogging when I could have been working on my EER. Job well done.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Oh look! The porch needs sweeping!

There are a billion things you can do instead of writing your EER (employee evaluation report for those of you not in the Foreign Service.) One of them is getting your hair colored. Another is making dinner. There is also grocery shopping and looking for shorts online for Child 3. I also watched some TV and read a little. I really, really hate writing my EER. It's not that I didn't do exciting and important things. It's just that as soon as I write them down on paper they seem really stuffy and boring and unimportant. And I would so much rather do the exciting things than write about them. See, I would much rather be in that cable car in Santorini than write about it. And also, until you can put pictures in your EER, I'm going to be at a big disadvantage.

Click here

But, as I've explained before, the problem with promotions in the Foreign Service is that they are based on what is written rather than what actually happens. So if you are a braggart and full of hot-air and believe that you are better and more important than everyone else in the universe, you will get promoted if you and your supervisors write well. But if you have single-handedly discovered the secret to peace in the Middle East, it doesn't matter if your supervisor says things like "he needs to bring his fruit to bear." That is something someone actually wrote on an evaluation.

Because of this problem, in April, all work in the State Department stops and people concentrate on their EERs which are due in May. Really. Nothing gets done and people have signs on their doors and cubicles that say things like "Working on EERs. Only enter if you don't want to live to see yours finished." And as far as the portion we are supposed to write about ourselves, well, that gets put off until last. I am supposed to finish mine by Friday. Really. Which is about as likely as me winning the next Miss America pageant. But first, before I begin, I need to alphabetize my spice rack. And then maybe I'll put away some winter clothes. And look at some videos on YouTube.

You know what is better than a brownie? Learning something about science that I've never heard of before. This is a picture of a liquid at it's triple point.

A triple point is when something is all three states of matter at once--gas, liquid, and solid. So this liquid is solid and boiling at the same time. Amazing. I so wish they'd had YouTube when I was in school. I could have actually learned something while avoiding writing my term papers!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

"Cheat" is the same in any language

So I promised I'd blog about my Africa trip and I really meant to once I was over jet lag which was exactly when I threw out my back and I've been pretty much doubled over in pain ever since which makes it really hard to type on a laptop. But it's a little better now, so here is what I learned about Africa.

The Congo River looks like this and there are no hippos, at least not that I saw.

The ferries on the Congo River look like this. Thankfully, I didn't have to take the ferry, although I did have to climb through them because they were crowding the dock.

I can bargain in French! It's pretty much the same as Chinese except when I said I wanted my change they gave me a giraffe instead. I'm pretty sure that "change" is not "giraffe" and that "giraffe" sounds like "giraffe" in French. But I accepted my defeat graciously and my driver said it was tres jolie which means very cute. And it is quite cute. It's in our living room now.

African men respect larger women and because I was the largest, apparently everyone always thought I was in charge. I got the nicest chair every time if by "nice" you mean not filthy enough to make you want to vomit but still you need to sanitize after using it. And they gave me drinks and made sure the fan was blowing on me. I totally could rule Africa.

Gabon looks like this. Although I wouldn't know because I spent the entire time working or hanging out with friends which was way better than sight seeing.

And I hear that Cameroon looks like this. But again I was working.

The food was great, mostly because I ate steaks and french fries every night except when I had fish steamed in banana leaves with plantains. I learned that "brochette" means kebab, and I drank lots of tonic because I figured the more anti-malarials I got the better. Also "farine" means flour and when you tell people you are allergic to it in French, they look at you like you're stupid--just like in English! No one in Africa has heard of gluten intolerance. Non-smoking rooms included ash trays and matches. And I got sprayed with insecticide on every single flight. It was awesome, but at the end of two weeks, I was really ready to come home.

Now it is EER season and I have to find things to brag about and I no matter how many times I have to do this, I will always, forever, sincerely, from the bottom of my heart absolutely hate writing my EER. Seriously. I'd much rather ride on that ferry, which is so not better than a brownie. And you know what else is nothing like a brownie? Falling on the runway. But even worse is having someone make you look like the Red Queen of Wonderland while you're tripping over the impossible shoes.

Somebody give this woman some crutches. And some pants.