Friday, June 24, 2011

If you need me for anything, I'll be on my break.

My last blog post from Virginia. Woot! Living here has taught me that I am a Pacific Northwestern kind of girl, and that's all I'm going to say about that (but, good job on the public schools, VA-you win that one!).  I would love to say that my bags (all 18 of them) are packed and by the front door, but this isn't some fairy tale in which our heroine isn't a procrastinator. Speaking of procrastinating, as I was on my knees finally cleaning out the freezer a few mornings ago, Olivia wandered in, looking every bit like the Native American name Mitch dubbed her: Raisedbywolves. It was the first day of summer break.

"What's for breakfast? Where's Daddy?"

"Daddy is at work already, can you get yourself some cereal?"

She glares at me. "Do you think it's fair that Daddy has to go to work when you're on summer vacation?"

Later, I asked her and Grace what exactly they thought I did all day. After a long pause, in which I could see they were giving it some serious thought:

"You take breaks."

"You shop for shoes!"

"You go on Facebook."

At this point, Mitch (who was home from slaving away at his job working for the man) was doubled over with laughter.

"Really girls? You think all I do all day is shop for shoes, go on Facebook, and take breaks?"


"Well, I did see you put some stickers on stuff," concedes Raisedbywolves.

In addition to taking breaks and shopping for shoes this week, I attended the two-day Security Overseas Seminar at FSI, where I was disappointed to learn that not everyone loves me and wishes me well. The kids also attended, but their seminar was only one day, and was geared toward their age groups. I didn't get a lot of information from them about what they learned, other than that they got to try Kool-Aid for the first time.

In less than two days, five of us will be on a plane bound for the good Washington while Mitch stays behind to deal with the packout and get the dog to the kennel. He will meet up with us in Spokane for the farewell tour. On that note, it's time for my break, so I'll see you on the flipside. Peace out!

Friday, June 17, 2011


The basement flooded last night from the nasty storm we had. This is different from the last two times the basement flooded, when broken pipes were the culprit. Also different from when the basement flooded due to a clog in the washing machine drainage sink. You would think we'd learn to not store anything down there besides our teenager.  Anyway, Mitch, Jack, and I worked into the wee hours of the morning hauling everything upstairs, because there was no way to stop the water at that point. Now our house looks easily like an episode of Hoarders: Worst Case Scenario ( I just made that title up, but who wouldn't watch that?).

I spent the morning wiping everything up with towels and sucking up the big puddles with the shop vac.  I tossed all the towels in the washing machine and left to run errands, happy to finally be done doing a lot of crap I didn't have time for. Hilarity ensued when I returned to find that the drainage sink had become clogged from the repeated dumping of gunk from the shop vac into it, and all the water from the washing machine had flooded the basement. Again.  Hahahaha! Boy was I chuckling to myself as I unclogged the drain, cleaned up all the water, and went to rotate the towels into the dryer. This is the point where I found out the washing machine had broken, with a little over a week to go before we pack out.

You win this round, universe.  Well played.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Poetry and music

Yesterday I was invited to a "Poetry Cafe" at the kids' school. It was set up with tablecloths and low lighting, and the writing teachers were all wearing sunglasses and berets. I should have known I was in trouble when I first saw that. Three of my kids were reading poems, so I sat near the front. This turned out to be a grave mistake. When I saw about 100 second graders shuffle in, each carrying a poem in their hand, I should have slipped into a chair near the back, but I was spotted by one of my beaming second graders. Every child (but one who got cold feet) read their poem, followed by the entire room snapping their fingers, beatnik style. I was so proud of Olivia, whose stomach was in knots all morning with worry about being in the spotlight and speaking into a microphone. She went up, mumbled her poem in one loooong word, and quickly sat down.  But, she did it, which is huge for her. I think it was about puppies. About an hour and a half into it, mothers with restless toddlers were looking at their watches and shifting uncomfortably. Up steps my other second grader, with a three-page poem. I could hear an audible sigh from the dad sitting behind me. 

"MY NAME IS GRACE, AND THIS IS MY POEM! I HOPE YOU ENJOY IT!"  And, as if she were auditioning for a Broadway show, she read her poem, which was a rhyme about every person in her class, complete with hand gestures and pauses for dramatic effect.  Then, there was a brief break before the hundred or so fourth graders shuffled in to read their poems. These poems were different in that they were about how  poetry writing was lame, and who the greatest sports stars were. Henry was about 80 kids in, naturally, with a poem about watermelon and summer.

At this point I'd been at the school four hours, but I still had the "Fourth Grade Program" to look forward to. This was the program in which Henry had been picked to sing with a small group of girls.  He had asked me to get him out of it, but I said he was old enough to speak to the teacher himself about his concerns, and that I would NOT let him fake sick. In hindsight, I should have let him be sick, it would have certainly made MY day more enjoyable (not that I don't enjoy hearing 200 kids mumble into a microphone that only works sporadically, mind you). Anyway, his strategy was just to not show up for any of the rehearsals. Um. Okay, maybe I should have intervened a little, but it seemed to work out for him. The girls sang their song and were lovely, while Henry grinned like a Cheshire cat from the bleachers. He did play the recorder and sang with the chorus. It was actually a very good show, until a kid in the second row of the bleachers passed out cold, taking a few kids down with him (he was checked out at the hospital and was okay).  When it was all over, and we knew the boy was going to be okay, the music teacher walked over to me. "I've really enjoyed having Henry in my class. I'm sorry he didn't join the select group, he really is the only boy who can hit the high notes with perfect pitch."  And now I see why he didn't want to join the group. What ten year-old wants to be told he's the only boy who sings like a girl?

Monday, June 13, 2011


Today the kids and I had our South American cocktails at FSI. I had my ziploc at the ready, but all were brave, no one barfed, and no one fainted ( I know, right?!).  The typhoid vaccine made our arms very sore, and the girls were very complain-y (all three of us). Grace was really whining before bed as we watched an episode of Little House on the Prairie.  Luck was with me, as it was the episode where Mary goes blind. "What made her go blind?" Grace asked, in that quavery voice kids use when they worry something bad might happen to them.  My voice became very grave. "Oh, well, I'm pretty sure she went blind from typhoid fever, but luckily you got the vaccine for that today, so you won't have to worry about that," replied the worst mother in the world. She rubbed her arm and not another peep of complaint after that (Mary actually went blind from scarlet fever, but I use what is laid in front of me to the best of my parenting advantage).

Also, lollipops!:

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Counting down

We're slogging through the mud here, trying to get everything in order before the kids and I leave in 2 1/2 weeks.  I do NOT recommend Club Pet for shipping your animal. They just stopped returning calls and emails, so we switched to another dog shipper. Fingers crossed they can get it together in time. Otherwise, I'm going to have to fashion Seamus into a furry hat and sneak him onto the plane. Apparently, we have housing now, and soon will have passports. If I have to fill out one more form, though, I'm going to, um, fill out one more form and wine some more. Whoops, see what I did there? Is that what you call a Freudian slip? I meant fill out one more form and whine some more. Or both. Yes, definitely both.

I'm trying to keep my mental sh*t together by doing yoga with the kids every time I'm about to lose it.  Watching one child in particular attempting the Downward Facing Dog can keep me giggling to myself for hours. I've also started playing a dancing game on the Wii with the girls. We can all three play at once, and it scores you on how well you did on your moves. I felt so bad for Grace yesterday, who had a score of 70 to Olivia's 4,388 and my 3, 950, but I was pretty impressed with myself for keeping up with the Dance Master of the house. Until it was discovered that I was using Grace's controller and she had mine.  Dang.

I finally found a cure for my insomnia, and it even beats Ambien. It's a new non-drug therapy. Maybe you've already heard of it. It's called Rosetta Stone. About five minutes of selecting if the three little boys are drinking water of if the woman is driving, and Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. 

Mitch is down in Brazil, so I'm single-parenting it at Henry's school music concert tonight. He informed me a few days ago that his trumpet hasn't worked for weeks, "but don't worry mom, I never play loud enough for the teacher to hear me anyway, so she doesn't correct me."  To show how frazzled I am right now, rather than taking the trumpet to the music store and giving him a lecture on striving for excellence, I just patted him on the head and said, "well, keep it up, just a few more days of music to get through".  What I'm really anticipating is that Henry was picked to sing a song with two other kids in the school, "INFRONTOFTHEWHOLEWORLD!" When he came home and told me that, he writhed in agony on the floor, convulsing and begging me to let him be "sick" for the concert.  Meanwhile, Jack, who was enjoying the spectacle said, "I was going to pretend I had too much homework to go, but I wouldn't miss this for the world." Cue the convulsions and agonized cries.

I can't begin to tell you what my house looks like, and the kids have decided that since it's a wreck, they might as well add to it by throwing their junk everywhere.  The other night, as I was angrily cleaning up after them, I said out loud, "Why on earth (okay, I said 'why the hell'-yes, I'm that mom) am I cleaning up after you guys?" and my darling teenager responded, "Because you love us and don't want us to run away?"

Send wine and Ambien Rosetta Stone.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Evil Genius

This guy is my new hero. And I thought I was good at embarrassing my teenager.  Every morning of this past school year, he donned a completely different costume, stood outside his house, and waved to his teenager's school bus as it went by.  Well done sir.  Well done.

He blogged each and every costume, which can be found by clicking on this link.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Looking Up

Good news! We got our travel orders yesterday, after getting some helpful advice from a fellow FS blogger.  This is huge, because now we can make our travel reservations, schedule our packout, and get the rest of our dip passports. I wasn't able to properly celebrate yesterday, what with ear and hangnail infections to deal with and a sweaty, rotund, shirtless plumber tearing holes in the house (I just threw up in my mouth remembering that......... *shudder*), but I am going to champagne it up tonight.

We also have a place to live. Not in Brasilia, mind you, this isn't a Disney movie, gah. It's more of a place to hang our hat when we're on home leave in eastern Washington (the proper, west coast Washington, that is). I haven't actually seen the place.  Mitch picked it out, but I'm told there's trees and mountains and whatnot, and lots of acres so I won't have to see humans if I don't want to.  Also, it needs a roof:

The house could probably stand to be a little bigger, too, although the Polly Pockets seem to be enjoying it.  Since my old man likes to do everything himself, and we'll only be home once a year at most, I expect we should be moving in right about when it's time to hit the nursing home. I kid! Sort of. Fortunately, we generally agree on most aspects of the design, except for the air conditioning.  He doesn't want it, and assures me that the house is going to be designed to be self-cooling and completely green, blahblahblah. The thing is, I'm a delicate flower and I hate to be hot. "Fine, then you can have a window unit in the bedroom," he snapped conceded. "Okay, and then I'm going to put a lock on the door and not let you use any of my delicious cool air," I maturely replied. I know, he's a very lucky man. I'm pretty sure people tell him that all the time after they meet me.  I'm definitely going to include one of those wine dumbwaiters, though, even if we have to hand dig a cellar just so I can have bottles of wine magically pop up out of a hole in the wall.