Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Serenity Now

Well, we were able to fulfill all the girls' birthday wishes.  We made it to the Mall and got inside the Washington Monument. And when I say Mall, I mean Tyson's Corner mall. And when I say Washington Monument, I mean Game Stop. We had the best of intentions, but the morning news revealed that it was going to be a zillion degrees, PLUS all kinds of Memorial Day events were going on in DC. That combined with  Sarah Palin  riding around on a motorcycle kind of sealed the deal. No hot, sticky metro ride to DC for us. Instead, we shopped and ate sushi and watched a kid (not ours!) barf in the middle of the mall. I think I have some kind of energy from the planet Vomitus inside me that causes those around me to expel the contents of the stomachs. Then, the mom and barfing kid just walked away, leaving the pile in the middle of the floor, right in front of l'Occitane.

We STILL don't have travel orders, or a housing assignment, or diplomatic passports, or a definite plan for shipping the dog, and the kids and I are leaving in 25 days. But I'm not panicking or anything.

Saturday, May 28, 2011


My babies turned eight today. They had a little slumber party last weekend, but this weekend they wanted to hang out at home and be queens for the day, picking out all the activities and food and not doing any chores.

 Olivia was up at the crack of dawn, but Grace slept in, obviously in need of a little beauty sleep.

 Breakfast and presents in my bed: omelettes, bacon (duh), waffles, and mango-pineapple smoothies. They did not get sewing machines, but did get sewing baskets full of notions, sewing project books, and huge boxes of fabric from my quilting sister. Also, bean bag chairs. Lightweight! Easy to ship! Keeps them from sitting on my head during movie nights! Yay for me the girls!

We took them to the movie of their choice (Kung fu Panda 2. Meh.). I even gave them a roll of quarters to throw away on video games, something I never let them do because I'm cheap and I think video games are dumb. I also think paying $100 to see a mediocre movie with your family is dumb, but there it is. The dinner menu they picked was pretty awesome: Dungeness crab, babyback ribs, penne with alfredo sauce, corn on the cob. No vegetables. I mean, they didn't even want to see anything green on the table. And, Whidbey Island friends, it pained me to have to PAY for crab.

We've always made sure the girls had their own birthday cakes. This year they both wanted to make them without any help. Olivia picked cinnamon chocolate chip with chocolate ganache (so easy to make with kids!) and Grace made a lemon bundt (grating lemon zest with an infected hangnail didn't seem like a great idea, so I helped her with that part). Tomorrow the plan is to learn to sew. Grace has been sketching 'fashions' all afternoon and Olivia wants to make a stuffed animal. Because 327 stuffed animals aren't enough.

Thursday, May 26, 2011


Kate: "Jack, I've been meaning to tell you how proud we are of you for teaching yourself most of the year in math and getting such a good grade, despite your teacher being so lame."

Jack: "Well, I guess now is as good as time as any to tell you I got a D+ on my test today, and also how nice your hair looks."

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


Don't read this. It's disgusting. Still reading? Well, don't say I didn't warn you. Grace has always had a little obsession with hangnails. She can't leave them alone or wait until I can clip them. This week she picked at one until it became pretty gross. Ironically, she can't stand the sight of blood or anything yucky. It triggers her gag reflex and she has been known to actually faint. This morning I was cleaning the area on her finger and she started gagging. I tossed her into the shower, hoping the warm water would soothe her and the urge to vomit would pass. It didn't help. She had just eaten breakfast, so while I cleaned the chunks off of the shower walls, she stepped out and projectile-vomited in the general direction of the toilet. At this point, Mitch popped his head in the bathroom, blanched, glanced down at his suit, and said, "Okay, I'm off to work!" And he made fast tracks out the door. I threw a towel around Grace and leaned over to lift the lid on the toilet seat, should she desire to actually vomit INTO the toilet. SPLAT! Right into my hair and on my shoulder.

"Wow, I feel so much better now! Can I get hot lunch today? They have cookies on Tuesdays," and she happily trotted out of the bathroom while I was left to clean up the cookies she'd just tossed. Don't hate me because of my glamorous life. 

I can't talk about Grace and her hangnails without including this old blurry cell phone photo I took of her showing me her hangnail when she was four years old, back in the innocent days when she had no idea what "the finger" meant.

Friday, May 20, 2011

No, ma'am, this isn't a dog, it's just a furry carry-on.

                                                          Photo by Mark Gesinger
We are never getting another dog. I'm not going to bore you with the details, but it's going to cost about 3 bazillion dollars to ship Seamus to Brazil in the middle of summer. In fact, it might be cheaper to just charter him a private jet. We are using Club Pet to handle the two (or eight? twelve? depending on the heat) week boarding, vet checks and shots, final groom (we want him to look good for the Brazilian bitches), and international health certificate, and they seem pretty good. They have been extremely helpful so far, and if he gets there alive they'll get a double thumbs-up from me. And if he doesn't make it, well, then, I've saved a bazillion dollars on the next post. I kid! I only wish I could just buy him a seat on the airplane. He's a much better traveller than Madame Barfsalot and Sir Arewethereyet. Maybe we can ship the kids as cargo.

The house looks like a badly-played game of Tetris. Boxes, luggage, purchases, and mountains of sunblock and laundry soap are everywhere.  I won't be able to live like this for five weeks due to my control-freak nature, so my plan is to sort it into organized piles for the five destinations (long-term storage-like my boots *whimper, our snowshoes and most of the furniture, air freight-like my kitchen stuff and extra clothes, stuff that will be put on a boat and take a while to get there-like our bed and not my boots *whimper, stuff we are bringing to Seattle/Spokane-just our clothes for two weeks, and finally, stuff we are going to store and bring with us on the plane from DC to Brazil. We each get two 50 lb bags and a carry-on, and I intend to use every ounce I can on my own sheets and towels, shoes, and kitchen stuff. But no boots, because boots are dumb and I hate them.

I have little color-coded dots for everything so the movers don't get confused. All this organizing has really put a damper on my relaxing in bed all day. It's so irritating. Plus, I've had to get up every day this week and make my own coffee since Mitch is off learning to shoot automatic weapons and crash through roadblocks at what my teenager calls "Jason Bourne Preschool" (said teenager also thinks this is much cooler than finding out Nirvana once opened for his dad's college band).

Friday, May 13, 2011

Stuff. It’s what’s for dinner.

While I am ruthless when it comes to getting rid of crap like toys and clothes and school papers, I admit that I am a bit of a hoarder when it comes to food. I hate to go grocery shopping so much that I get cereal delivered more frequently than I do shoes. I also love to cook and bake, so I like to make sure I have lots of food on hand should the mood strike me. Now that we’re leaving in about six weeks (OH. MAH. GAH.), I am trying to use up as much of it as I can. This has made for some very interesting dinners. Like ‘macaghetti’.  And ‘cupboard surprise’, where ‘surprise’ equals you-don’t-want-to-know. The kids are loving it, because I’m using up all the white pasta, white rice, and white flour that I normally never use, and topping everything with cheese since I have bags of it in the freezer. I still have a case of tamarind paste that I’ve been hauling around from my failed attempts at making pad thai (Mark Bittman tells me the key is to use GOOD fish sauce, not fish sauce seemingly made from ass crack. Who knew? And how can you tell the difference? And, once you’ve had ass crack fish sauce, you never want to eat pad thai again, so you’re left with a case of unused tamarind paste.).

The other night I was throwing random stuff into a pot and I knocked a glass of the counter, breaking it. I wrapped the glass in a plastic bag and put it in the trash. The garbage bag was pretty heavy, so I had Jack carry it out instead of Henry, whose job it normally is to take out the trash. “Be extra careful, there’s broken glass in there,” I warned. Teenagers being infallible, though, he carelessly grabbed it out of my arms and cut a long scratch into his arm. Grrrreat. Now he looked like he had attempted to slash his wrist. He wore a long-sleeved shirt to school yesterday, but his math teacher saw it anyway and questioned him. Not wanting her to think he was a cutter, he responded, “Oh, well, my mom threw a bag of broken glass in my arms last night.” Yep. And I just had emailed her to ask if she would write a recommendation for his school in Brazil. Anyway, I should probably go make a few mystery tamarind-laced casseroles before Child Protective Services gets here.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Jack: *sigh* "I have no idea what I want to do with my life."

Mitch: "Well, you're only fourteen. The great thing is, you can be whatever you want in life, you just have to go for it."

Jack: "Uh, Thanks, Dad. I already heard that from the Disney Channel about a million times."

I wonder if you can earn a master's degree in sarcasm.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mother's Day at Monticello

I am pretty much the luckiest mama alive. I woke up to breakfast in bed, homemade cards and gifts, and uninterrupted time reading the Post. Then we all went to Thomas Jefferson's Monticello. Our kids were so well-behaved that our tour guide had the rest of the group clap for them, so I didn't think the day could get better, but it did! Champagne lunch/dinner (lunner?)!

Look on the back of a nickel. Recognize it?

The gardens were by far my favorite.


My other favorite thing. A wine delivery dumbwaiter.

Double Yum.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Reasons I Deserve Breakfast in Bed

1. My daughter has spent every cent she's had for the past several years on stuffed animals, yet I still have to cover all of them with a blanket each night so they're not "looking" at her when she's sleeping.

2. I know all the retailers that make pants for ultra-skinny kids and socks without seams.

3. I de-ticked the dog AND removed a broken wire from my kid's braces today with kitchen scissors.

4. I spent two days tracking down some non-skanky shorts  for my girls.

5. Every morning, I make braids for my daughter that are tight, tight, tight. I also spray tea tree oil water in my kids' hair to repel lice (old wives' tale? probably).

6. Barf. I clean it up. Frequently.

7. I got an e-mail message from the Fairfax County Public Library saying there was poop on the "Invasion of the Gym Class Zombies" book and they were charging me $18 for it. I am pretty sure it did not come from my house, but the book drop. Then again, how much of an ass will I look like fighting that? So, I'm paying it.

8. I've lived in four places in the past year with the closets and kitchens getting progressively tinier.

9. I've saved a lot money for the family by buying stuff on sale. Yesterday alone I saved about $65 on a hair-be-awesomer product. Mitch always has a nice grimace-y smile when I greet him in the evenings by saying, "Guess how much I saved today?"

10. I have moral, kind, empathetic, and funny children. And I want them to slave away making me a meal for a change.

Happy Mother's Day to my own awesome mom,  and to all you lovely mothers out there.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Brother, can you spare a dime?

We're bleeding cash. Is this normal before leaving for a post? I had to scrap our tickets back to Seattle/Spokane, at a loss of about 2K.  See, I was actually worried about buying tickets and then not being able to use them if we got posted early, so I had Mitch ask the powers that be. They said, "buy your tickets, you're not going anywhere yet." I bought non-refundable tickets. The next day, 'they' said, "Hey, how does Brasilia sound? And how soon can you leave?" Then I had to buy new tickets because it was cheaper to do that than to use the credit from the other tickets. Also, more luggage, clothes, shoes, cinnamon ice breakers, sunblock, shampoo, sheets for everybody, slipcovers for hideous state-owned Drexel couches, laundry soap (one kid is allergic to everything), drugs, and this stuff:

School uniforms. Which I had to buy at four different stores because I have two normal-sized children and two verrrrry thin children. Olivia and Grace tried on their skorts and polo shirts last night. Olivia loved hers. Grace stared at herself in the mirror for a long time, sighed, and said, "I don't even think I can jazz these up." 

The girls' birthday is coming up and they want sewing machines, but all I can think of is how much weight that will add to our shipping allowance. That's right. Now I think in terms of pounds when it comes to gifts. Thanks, Foreign Service! They will also accept personal tvs, ipod touches, Barbie Mansions, turtles, or another dog. I'm thinking I might get them each a case of paper towels.

Any tips on what I might be forgetting?

Monday, May 2, 2011


I would say our weekend rated as not quite as exciting as William and Kate's, but definitely better than Osama's.

I found a dead mouse in the dog's water dish at the crack of dawn a few days ago, causing me to yelp a little bit. Mitch claims it was a blood-curdling scream, but who are you going to believe? Henry rushed out of his room, certain we were finally under zombie attack. Ten year-old boys rule.

We took the kids to see Rio on Saturday, with hopes to up the excitement factor for our impending move to Brazil. They loved it.  Well, the teenager said, "It didn't suck", which I'm pretty sure means he loved it, too. Also, his attendance at a 'baby movie' was his early Mother's Day gift to me. Here we are in the theater:

Whoops, how did that picture of my cute red suede loafers slip in there?

While I was snapping that pic, Henry asked, "Mom, how come whenever we go anywhere you take pictures of your shoes before anything else?" Gah, I'm a bad mom. A bad mom with cute shoes!

Anyhoodle, the movie theater had a self-serve 'butter' dispenser for your popcorn. I had to restrain Henry from putting his mouth directly under the spigot. We had three migraines later that afternoon, thanks to whatever was in that popcorn. I suppose it also could have been the cajun fries from Five Guys Burgers and Giant Asses. But yum!

We spent the rest of the weekend weeding out 8 giant bags of clothes from our wardrobes. We've lived in four places in the past year, so I was surprised with how much crap we still had to get rid of.  Here is what was in my pathetic t-shirt drawer:

long-sleeved gray t-shirts: 6
long-sleeved black t-shirts: 9
long-sleeved brown t-shirts: 9
long-sleeved gray tunics: 2
long-sleeved black tunics: 3
long-sleeved brown tunics:2
short-sleeved white t-shirts: 7
short-sleeved black t-shirts: 8
short-sleeved brown t-shirts: 5
short-sleeved gray t-shirts: 6
Bauhaus concert t-shirt: 1 (too sentimental to throw it out, but it does not flatter my muffin-top, so I never wear it).
Shirts of any color other than black, gray, brown, or white: 0

So, so boring.

I have also recently purchased some dresses.  Guess what color? Two black, one brown, and one colorful one that I'll probably never wear. Oh, who am I kidding? I'm probably never going to wear any of them.