Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year

We're in the home stretch here at Casa Vomito.  Mitch just cleaned up dog barf, but so far, no one else has done the deed.  I don't remain optimistic, however, since we had our traditional build-your-own sundaes for dinner and the kids are planning on opening the cans of Whoopass they got for Christmas in order to stay awake until midnight.  I've got Ziplocs stashed all over the house.

This is what usually happens at our house on New Year's Eve.  The kids start dropping off around 9:30 or 10 and I fall asleep around 10:15.  Then, at midnight, when the neighborhood starts making a bunch of noise with fireworks and whatnot, I wake up, open the window, and yell for them to "QUIT MAKING SO MUCH RACKET, PEOPLE ARE TRYING TO SLEEP!"  I'm exceptionally awesome like that.  I even  used to yell at the owls that woke me up on the island.  I'm worried, though.  The kids are determined to stay awake until midnight and let off the poppers and noise makers I bought them in a moment of insanity at Target, and I can't show them the east coast feed of the ball dropping on cable because we are actually on the east coast now. Plus, they've gotten savvy to my evil parenting tricks. 

I still have all my Christmas decorations up.  I am planning on carefully wrapping all the ornaments and decorations in anticipation of an overseas move, so I thought I'd wait until the kids go back to school, because I really, really, don't like to have help.  Which totally reminds me of my favorite joke:

Me:  Knock knock!

You:   Who's There?

Me:   Control freak.  Now, you say, control freak who?

Edited to add:  This is the picture Grace drew of herself while trying to stay awake:

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

2010, by the numbers

If you had told me on one of the last days of December 2009 that I would be living in Virginia in December 2010 and getting ready to head overseas to some unknown embassy with my family I would have laughed at the absurdity.  Instead of my usual end-of-the-year blog post in which I talk about my resolutions (because let's face it, I'm probably never going to stop swearing or start exercising every day), I've decided to do a 2010 retrospective, by the numbers.

 26--Number of chickens we started out with
   0---Number of chickens we have now
  0---Number of "store eggs" my kids are willing to eat
   1---Number of times one of my children fainted from a State Dept. medical clearance blood draw
196-Approximate number of times my children barfed
 11-- Number of states we drove through with said barfing children
  8---National monuments and landmarks we visited on the way to Virginia
 14--Times I was served iceberg lettuce salad in middle America
  3---Number of times my children whined about not having any vegetables on never-ending trip
  3---Times per day my husband ordered beef in middle America
  4--Times I Googled "how to restart your husband's heart in Wyoming"
  0---Bed bug encounters.  Yes!
  1---Flea infestation at an unnamed corporate apartment in Virginia 
  0---Pairs of shoes I bought to reward myself for all this upheaval  (Haha!  Just kidding.)
One Bazillion--Miles Mitch put on his car commuting from Whidbey Island to his unrewarding job in Seattle
Two Bazillion--Dollars we lost when we sold our house on Whidbey Island
  5---Good sources to buy sourdough bread within short driving distance of our old house
  0---Good sources to buy sourdough bread anywhere in Virginia
48--Approximate times I saw a Prius on the road per day in Seattle
  3---Priuses I've seen the whole time we've lived in Virginia
100-Days we've lived in our current rental house
100-Times I've missed my old kitchen
Three Bazillion--Minutes I spent on hold with Verizon
 42--Times I've looked up airfare prices back to the Pacific Northwest
 9---Fabulous outings in DC with the kids
 0---Trips to the wine shop (Haha!  Kidding again!)
 1--Great date night which included Full Frontal Nudity, not our own
12--Things trashed or broken by the movers
 4--Number of places we've lived in the past seven months
 0--Regrets about this adventure
36-Minutes I've spent writing this list when I should be exercising and practicing not swearing. Shit.

Monday, December 27, 2010

I bet they don't have Ms. Food Face at the American Girl Cafe.

Well, boo.  We cancelled our  trip to New York thanks to the awful blizzard they are having.  The good news is that our hotel refunded our money (I prepaid so I could get a better rate).  The other good news is that I won't have to go out in public with a bunch of strangers.  The bad news is that Mitch is going to go back to work so he can use his vacation days at a later time and I will be stuck at home with the kids for another week, and there's only so much Mr. Food Face face plate decorating I can take.  What's a Mr. Food Face face plate, you ask?  I got them for the kids for Christmas.  When Mitch saw them he thought they were stupid, but now he spends more time than the kids do playing with his food.  Last night while the kids were playing with their dinner, Henry said, "I think Mr. Food Face is my favorite Christmas present this year."  Take that, Lego company.

                               Ms. Food Face, for girls or drag queens

Mr. Food Face, for boys and people who like to add "facial hair" (brown rice works well).

Food Face!  It's what's for dinner.  

*Note:  teenagers are not particularly keen on playing with Mr. Food Face because of their extreme coolness.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

We wish you a...

Merry Christmas!
Thanks for the Chunk Ham, Jack, it's just what I wanted!

 Like she needs another reason to open a can of Whoopass.

 Do rags from Olivia (the kids have the tradition of getting each other gag gifts, which they open on Christmas Eve along with new jammies for everyone).

 Santa had a tough time finding this Dog Academy Playset, which was the only thing Olivia wanted this year (besides the fourteen other things on her list, I mean).  Seamus is ready for his training!  Thankfully, he's not hungry, since he already snacked on the Baby Jesus and one of the Wise Guys from the nativity set (Now they're extra hol(e)y! Badum-bum), or he might be chewing on that tasty looking Dalmation. 

Jack assured me that this Handsome Sweater was his favorite gift, much better than a stupid ole' electric guitar.

Dear Santa,
Nicely done this year!  We were worried you wouldn't be able to find the Dog Academy Playset.  You must have some pretty internet-savvy elves up there who don't mind paying $14 for shipping.  It's also nice that you get to take all the credit for Christmas Miracles and I get the credit for Handsome Sweaters and pajamas.  I'm not complaining, mind you.  I love my new Kindle, so a big thanks for that.  I also wanted to take a moment to really thank you for giving my teenager an electric guitar with an amp, and for finally giving my pop star daughter a karaoke machine with disco lights.  What I'm trying to say, Santa, is that you totally rock.  Jerk.


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

I believe in the spirit of... advertising?

We finally got around to taking the kids to see Santa (why do I always type 'Satan' instead of Santa?).  I have a photo of them sitting on his lap every Christmas since Jack's first that we hang up each year.  The kids love to see how much they've changed from year to year, so despite the difficulties in finding a Santa, off we went to the local shopping mall.  There don't seem to be a lot of Santa choices here, like in Seattle, where there are great ones in many of the downtown department stores. Anyway, we went to the mall with all the other Virginian families and waited  a loooooong time in line.  With lots of restless kids.  It was kind of creepy, too.  The whole thing must have been sponsored by the new Chronicles of Narnia movie because there were video screens all along the line playing clips from the movie.  Crass and yucky.

Here is where I point out that I took the girls to an actual department store to pick out some fancy dresses.  We're taking the kids to New York next week and I figured they should have something nice that actually fits.  I've always just ordered their clothes online due to my religion, the Church of the Agoraphobic.  Letting them pick out any dress they wanted was actually a great experience for all three of us.  It reminded me that having girls can be so good.  Grace wears dresses all the time, so picking out a new dress was a piece of cake for her. Olivia wears a dress about once a year, and only when forced and bribed for a photo or wedding.    Also, shopping for clothes or shoes with her is a total nightmare.  She doesn't like seams or tags or things to be too loose.  Or too tight.  Or too scratchy.  Or with buttons on the shirts.  Or anything that chokes her, like crewnecks or turtlenecks, but it can't be too low of a v-neck, because she might feel cold.  So, when she found one right away that she fell in love with, I was ecstatic.  The dresses they picked out reflect their personalities so much.  I would like to add that Grace needed silver sparkle tights and shiny boots to "create the look she was going for".  Those were her exact words.

The picture doesn't capture very well that snow was falling inside this little atrium.  With more screens playing movie clips everywhere.  Did I mention yuck about the product placement?
This isn't the professional pic I payed a zillion dollars for.  I'm still trying to convince Mitch to photoshop Jack into it.  When it was over, Grace said, "That might have been the real one.  Or a Virginia helper.  I can't decide.  He sure talked fast like the people here do, but I'm glad he wasn't a Beef and Cheese Santa, anyway."  Beef and Cheese Santas are the obvious fakes.  In the movie "Elf", there's a fake Santa that smells like beef and cheese, according to Buddy.  Ever since we saw that movie for the first time, we always call fake looking Santas 'Beef and Cheese Santas'.  Henry was on his best "I believe" behavior.  We told him that if he doesn't at least believe in the spirit of Santa, then all he'll get for Christmas is a Handsome Sweater and socks.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Full moon

Kate: "Okay, who wants me to wake them up in the middle of the night to watch the lunar eclipse?"

Henry:  "Why don't you just let us sleep and we can watch it on YouTube tomorrow?"

That's kind of how things are going right now.  Sunday night I re-broke my oft broken toe by kicking the bathroom scale (It was dark!  Somebody moved it?) and while I was screaming curses as I waited for the waves of pain to die down, there was a loud knock at the door.  It was the congregation from the church next door, caroling.  So, I'm hobbling to the door in my pjs, trying to cover by braless front with one arm while keeping the dog from freaking out with my other arm, and holding out a tiny bit of hope that they didn't just hear what came out of my mouth from the depths of the house as they walked up the steps.  At the very least, I'm hoping they just thought I was praying fervently and loudly to Jesus and His Mother.  But!  Carolers!  Who does that anymore? 

And then yesterday, with a forecast for possible snow over Christmas, I went to the wine shop to stock up on wine in case our backup supply runs out and we get snowed in with four kids.  I was rushing to get home in time to meet the bus, which I did.  I am awesome!  I get things done and get home in time to greet my children!  I will make hot cocoa with candy canes in it!  The bus pulled up just as I was opening the back hatch on our car and half my wine rolled out, smashing onto the concrete.  I looked up in time to see the bus driver and about 20 kids faces all with perfect 'o's on their shocked faces.  I did not get on my hands and knees with a straw, but I wanted to. 

I am blaming the moon.

Monday, December 20, 2010

You'll shoot your eye out, kid.

I have a pile of Christmas cards sitting on my desk, waiting to be filled out and sent.  Mitch sweetly did about half of them, and by "did", I mean he scratched a few names and addresses onto them.  My hands are semi-paralyzed by carpal tunnel, and I have to save them for baking cookies with the kids and wrapping presents, so guess what?  Here's our Christmas card for 2010, and consider it sent, with love:

Every year we try to plug ourselves into a favorite holiday movie scene for our cards.  I usually come up with the concept (or at the very least, take credit for it), and Mitch does all the work, which is pretty much how we roll year-round in our family.  Last year we did "It's a Wonderful Life".
The year before that we did "Elf".
Can you spot the Wheaten Terrier in all of them?  I've been trying to convince my Photoshop savvy husband to install Jack into this year's Santa picture, since he flat out refused (despite offers of cash! and prizes! from me) to sit on Santa's lap in a busy mall packed with kids from his high school. 

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


Since moving to Virginia, my kids have been on awesome field trips to Gunston Hall, the Kennedy Center, and the US Mint.  Henry's class will soon be going to Jamestown and Colonial Williamsburg.  So, when Grace and Olivia came running into the house last week excited about their first field trip, I got excited too.

Olivia: "The second graders are going on a field trip next week and we need lots of moms and dads to come!" 

Me:  "That's exciting!  Where are you going?"

Grace:  "Safeway!"

Me:  *crickets*

Not only were they going to spend most of the day at Safeway, their classes were going on different days, so I was lucky lucky lucky enough to spend both yesterday and today at the very grocery store that's reduced me to tears twice in the last few months (To be fair to Safeway, it was my own neurosis that caused the tears.  Mostly.).  With 85 second graders.  Yesterday was Grace's turn.  They gave the kids Safeway aprons (to keep!) and let them make their own pizzas, with no mention of washing their hands, so I was scrambling to dump a dollop of my tiny purse hand sanitizer on all the kids' hands.  Then, they gave the kids all hot chocolate with whipped cream, took them on a tour of the store, and gave them giant chocolate covered pretzels and chocolate truffles.  The teachers at this point are shifting uncomfortably as they are considering going back to shool with a bunch of sugared-up kids.  The kids went into the break room after eating a couple pounds of candy and ate the pizzas they had made, and they also got cans of soda.  Woot! Soda!  I've never been happier to get off of a school bus in my life .

Now, Grace has a strong stomach and can eat copious amounts of crap without many adverse effects, so I'm glad her field trip was first so I was prepared.  Olivia has a very sensitive stomach.  She really can't handle much sugar and actually gets migraines from food additives like color dye, nitrates, and MSG.  She eats tiny amounts of food and always makes really healthy choices.  It goes without saying that she did not inherit her eating habits from me.  I told her not to eat the pepperoni (nitrates), but kind of let her choose what she wanted otherwise because I didn't want to embarrass her.

The other parents and teachers were in awe of my mad barf-catching skilz as I whipped a gallon Ziploc out of my pocket and handily caught her vomit at the end of the field trip.  Nary a drop on her Safeway apron, thankyouverymuch.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Ice cream and donuts. It's what's for dinner.

Since everyone was too sick to go to the National Tree Lighting, we took them into DC to see the tree on Saturday.   Jack stayed home to have the house to himself, but we brought the three youngest and it was rather, uh, underwhelming.  They did have a close-up view of the White House, but were much more excited to see a bunch of Santas on their way to Santarchy.

We took them to Zoolights next, and I totally recommend it if you're in the area.  We went before it got dark so we could see all the animals, then we ate at the zoo cafe, and by the time we were done at the eating, it was nighttime and all the lights were twinkling in the darkness.  The kids have been dying to see the pandas, and not only did they get to see them, they also got to see their giant piles of poop, which pleased Henry.  The zoo cafe is recommended only if you aren't a fan of real food.  I took one look at the menu, and since nothing on it seemed remotely healthy, I told the kids they could get whatever they wanted and I'd feed them cereal something healthy when we got home.  Henry had a giant soft serve ice cream cone with a donut chaser.  Olivia just had two orders of mini donuts, and Grace had chicken fingers with mini donuts.  
You're going to regret that, kid!

After we ate, the girls wanted to go to the reptile house, but Henry was doubled over and clutching his stomach, so he and I waited outside on a bench.  We entertained ourselves by taking photos of the inside of our mouths and nostrils, but somehow this semi-normal one came out.
Taking pictures of lights at night with a point and shoot camera does not produce great pictures, but it does produce pretty good booger shots. I am going to refrain from posting those pics as well as the panda poop pics.  You're welcome.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Rainbow Fish

So, Grace's big acting debut was yesterday.  I could hear her coughing behind the stage curtains, but as soon as she went on, she was flawless. And amazing.  She resumed coughing when it was over, however.  The pics/videos I have didn't turn out great, plus, there are other people's children in them, and I don't feel right about putting them on the internet, but here she is in all her glory (Pay no attention to her red eyes.  I'm on my laptop and don't have editing software installed on here, and I'm too lazy to go down to the desktop):
As we were getting out of the car to go into the auditorium, I heard a horrible thud and looked down in time to see Olivia hit the ground with her forehead.  We checked her out to make sure she was okay, but by the time the play was over she was sporting a pretty big goose-egg:
She didn't want to miss her sister's show, so she sucked it up and went in with us.  It looks classy, no?  Jack told her to tell people she got body-checked during roller derby practice.  I kind of love how excited she was to go see her twin sister performing, with zero desire to perform herself.

In other news, out of curiousity I told my fourteen year-old boy to stop hunching yesterday and measured him.  He's 5'10"!  What the what? He's a hair taller than me.  Also, he got his screen privileges back.  This may or may not have had something to do with the fact that while he was on restrictions, he brought his homework up to the kitchen where I would be fixing dinner and read everything OUT LOUD AND IN A REALLY DRAMATIC VOICE, INCLUDING HIS THOUGHTS ON THE ASSIGNMENT AND HIS OTHER RANDOM THOUGHTS!  They could have used him at Guatanamo Bay, is all I'm sayin'.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


How did it get to be Wednesday?  We've all been sick, one after another, except Olivia, who was too busy slamming her head into a wall at school, prompting a call from the nurse.  She's fine, and claims someone moved the wall.  I totally know how she feels, which is why I've broken the same toe three times.  Henry was the sickest, probably because the minute anyone showed a sign of illness, he would run and kiss their hands as soon as they sneezed.   He's not a huge fan of going to school.  Grace has been hiding her germs, because she's in the school play of "The Rainbow Fish".  She's the Rainbow Fish, and it's this afternoon.  So far I haven't gotten a call from the school (I'm fairly certain I'm on speed dial in the nurse's office), so I think she's going to make it. The drama coach took me aside a few weeks ago and mentioned I might want to get her an agent.  Tell me something I don't already know, lady.  

We scored tickets to the National Tree Lighting Ceremony in front of our neighbors', Barack and Michele's, house, but it's supposed to be in the 20s tomorrow and with everyone hacking up half their lungs, I made the executive decision to pass the tickets on to someone else.  This has everything  nothing to do with my desire to avoid crowds, by the way.  Although, I admit, I am in the Husband's Pajama Bottom phase of this move.  I will also admit that putting on pants with buttons to go anywhere requires a bit of a pep talk from myself and at least two episodes of 90210 on SoapNet.  Things should improve soon, as the HPB phase is generally the lowest I get before I graduate back up to velour pants, then yoga pants, then exercise pants (which includes real exercise!), and finally back to big girl pants with zippers and buttons.  The nice thing about my little agoraphobia/anxiety problem is that it always goes in predictable phases, and since I'm already down at the HPB phase, I've got nowhere to go but up, which means a trip to Safeway won't even make me cry in a few weeks.  Meanwhile, I've got Amazon to keep me company and help me finish my Christmas shopping.

Friday, December 3, 2010

It's beginning to look a lot like...

...a very  reigned-in Christmas.  Usually we like our decorations dialed up to eleven.  Two main Christmas trees, little trees in the kids' rooms, Christmas dishes in the cupboards, and Clark Griswold Mitch does up the outside with enough lights to power up a small nation.  We even hung lights in the treehouse last year.  Since we no longer have the acreage or the big house, and in preparation for a life on the move, we donated most of our holiday decorations and lights before we left Whidbey Island.  We kept our ornaments and a few things we really liked, and it feels surprisingly great.  I worried that the kids would miss all the crap, but they were so excited to see all the ornaments they've made or picked out over the years, I hardly think they've noticed.  I admit, I do miss driving up to a beautifully lit house at night, but we have a wreath on the door and you can see the tree in the window, plus, I can grab a bottle of Christmas cheer out of the refrigerator if I need it, right?
The requisite posed photo op of decorating the tree. Jack is putting on his happiest of faces so we can all see the joy he feels spending time with his family while his screen privileges have been revoked.
Gracie helped me decorate and she had a pretty adorable idea.  If you've seen the move, "Elf" you will get it: the jar says, "Buddy don't eat thease [sic]!"
And that's it, the extent of our decorating this year.

I like to have my shopping done early, so I had the kids finish their lists.  I generally have them ask for just a couple of things they really want.  Here is the list Jack presented to us.  How did I get such a smart-assed teenager?  Shut up.

I can't wait to see the look on his face when he opens the box of meat, My Little Pony, and carton of cigarettes.  Or maybe I'll just get him the handsome sweater. Especially after he tampered with my list and misspelled it, to boot.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Pollyanna. Who, me?

Sigh.  Virginia is kicking our butts this week.  My bright teenager is struggling in his best subject in school (since sarcasm isn't exactly a class on the roster, it doesn't count), and has agreed to let us hire a math tutor. His teacher is a soul-sucking demon from hell, and he refuses to ask for help because she humiliates kids who ask for help. Since we've also removed all  of his other distractions (I miss you, XBox. You were so good at keeping peace in the family. Sniff.), we've had to endure his slow, deliberate torture of each and every one of us by being insidiously annoying.  He starts off funny, like singing loud and off-key along with the ipod, and before you know it you're clawing at the walls as he slips out of the room. I taught him everything he knows, I suppose it must be said.

Henry and Grace are doing well academically, but come home every day with a tale of how rude the kids have been and how much time the teachers have had to spend disciplining them.  Grace hates drama club (I know, what!?) because no one takes drama as seriously as she does (flounce, huff, dramatic arm flourish, heavy sigh).  Henry also got these little ramps put on the back of his braces, so he can't fully close his teeth.  Somehow, he still manages to eat everything except vegetables.  Olivia is suffering from Jack's free time.  They are arch enemies, and Jack has been torturing her way more than usual.  I don't generally do anything about it, because she usually starts it, and I'm trying to teach her that if she dishes it out, she'd better be able to take it.  Also, there's a lot of Lightning Deals on Amazon this week, and I don't have time to be a hands-on parent.

I've been typing this post for about an hour, because my carpal tunnel is so bad right now that  I can't even open a bottle of wine.  This is where having a teenager with extra time on his limber hands comes in handy, however.  Also, the dog ran away (but was later found down the street by Mitch). My 20-something library books are overdue and the library charges 30 cents per book, per day.   Also, why isn't there any sourdough bread to be found on the east coast?  And finally, my husband thinks I'm being too negative this week, which is so not true.   Obviously. Why, just yesterday I was saying how pleased I was that no one has barfed this week (although we did run for a bowl last night!).  If that's not positive, I don't know what is.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Holiday Weekend, Part II

We realized yesterday that our children have never had the time-honored tradition of raking leaves.  Sure, we were surrounded by trees when we lived on the island, but we had a tractor that decimated and sucked them up for composting.  Those sure were the good old days.  Luckily, Virginia is currently blanketed in leaves, and our yard is no exception, so we put everyone to work.

Even houseguests aren't exempt from my slavedriving.
Some people worked more than others.

Finding the right music was the key for one.
I'd like to say it was a blast, but it was raking leaves, which is fun for about ten minutes.  The three youngest spent most of the time diving into the piles.  I was busy chronicling the event for all of you, because I'm a giver.  So basically, Mitch, Jack, and Peter did all the work.  Thanks, guys!  I did make them a cake, though.

After we stuffed our faces we went to Mount Vernon for their Candlelight Christmas tour.  I didn't get too many pictures, because it was dark out, and you're not allowed to take photos inside the house.  They had a large cast of people dressed in period costumes giving little talks in all the rooms and buildings, from slaves to Martha Washington, to blacksmiths doing actual smithing. 

Taking a walk with George and Martha.

The girls were digging the miniature replica of Mount Vernon.

There was 18th century carols and dancing, cider and cookies, and a, uh, Christmas camel.  This is Aladdin, and apparently George Washington rented a camel at Christmastime to entertain his guests. 
Random shot of musicians with Christmas trees and stained glass.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Holiday Weekend

We've been having a lovely weekend, although I admit we've painfully missed being with our extended family for Thanksgiving.  Luckily, I was able to have the fabulous brother and sister team of Nora and Peter spend a few days with us.  I may or may not have wiped their butts for a living at one point in my life.  But alas, they are all grown up and can handle their bathroom duties on their own now.   The food was generally pretty good.  Mitch made the turkey his bitch, and also made the best gravy in the history of graviness.  He is really handy in the kitchen when I stay out of his bidness.  We followed the gorge-fest with a quease-filled game of BeanBoozled, which is pretty much the grossest game ever invented.   You spin a spinner and land on a color of Jelly Belly.  Only, it's a gastric Russian Roulette in which case the brown jelly bean can either be chocolate pudding or canned dog food.  Buttered popcorn or vomit.  Juicy pear or booger.

It looked like caramel corn, but turned out to be moldy cheese. 

Pencil shavings had an especially bad aftertaste.
The very, very, very worst flavor of Jelly Belly was the canned dog food.  I just threw up in my mouth a little remembering that first bite.

Since there's not enough Xanax in the world to get me to go into a store on Black Friday anymore, today we went to Arlington National Cemetery.  We walked off a lot of Thanksgiving carbs, and the kids were able to experience a tiny bit of the magnitude of the sacrifice American soldiers have made.
Look at Jack!  Always trying to get away....
 The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
We were there for the changing of the guard, which silenced even Grace.