Monday, December 31, 2012


Usually, on the last day of every year, I blog about the resolutions I have no intention of keeping. This year, however, I got paid to do it ( I know! Soon they will be sorry they hired me, and I'll be back at home, eating bonbons like the good Lord intended), and I don't want to repeat myself for that one reader who reads both this blog and our embassy blog, so there will be no ridiculous resolutions this year on Pulling Stakes.

However, I don't want to ignore the passage of another year. Okay, I lied, I would love to ignore the passage of 2012, because it was an asshole.  I lost my mom and my children's first home (my uterus, get it?), and spent most of the year in pain of one kind or another. But! Whenever things didn't go my mom's way, she didn't mope around like I enjoy doing.  She would be happy and grateful for the tiniest, most insignificant thing she had going for her.  "Well, yes, my house caught on fire, but I was so lucky that it was a cold night and I could warm my toes by the embers!"  That was how my mom rolled.  And so, I am going to list a few of the things I was grateful for in 2012, and dedicate it to my badass mom, who I miss every day. Obviously, the good health and love of my family are number one, but these are just a few of the things that helped me get through the year:

  1. Friends and family in the States, who dropped everything and were there to help us through the worst parts of the year.  Seeing your faces or hearing your words of love at such a low time in my life was a huge gift. My Dad even had the joy of listening to the details of my lady surgery from my gynocologist. 
  2. Friends in Brasilia, who helped with dog sitting and childcare, shuttled me around when I couldn't drive yet, and made sure my nails didn't look like shit, even though I felt like shit.
  3. My sisters.
  4. Laughter. At one point, after several long, agonizing days at hospice with my mom, one of my sisters said, "OMG, look at your Google histories!"   We scrolled through our phones and peed our pants laughing. [Google 'pinocchio p*nis tattoo at your own risk]
  5. Lindt chili dark chocolate bars.
  6. My cleaner, who knows that Olivia only sleeps with one specific cotton sheet, but everyone else is pretty easygoing about their bedding, and who cleans out my hairbrushes and refrigerator twice a week. Even if she does ridicule my portuguese and arranges the couch pillows all wrong, I still love her.
  7. Electric tennis rackets, so I can hear the sizzle of winged carcasses when I whack at the mosquitos.
  8. Having a job I enjoy is pretty sweet, as is FINALLY getting to wear all the shoes I bought "in case I ever get a job".  Unfortunately, now my feet are covered in blisters, but IT'S WORTH IT. Don't tell Mitch about the blisters, though, mmkay? For some reason he thinks I buy too many shoes I don't need. Like that's even a thing.
  9. Jack Daniels and Marcus James
  10. And finally, the thing I'm most grateful for about 2012 is that it is OVER, yo. 
Wishing you and yours a very joyful 2013
from Brazil!
[photo credit]


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Papai Noel

This morning, I dusted off my black heart, dragged my kids out of bed bright and early, and we went with the Marines at post to deliver toys to a local orphanage. We also brought our friend, Papai Noel (aka Santa to you northerners).

Apparently, Olivia considers this ratty red t-shirt and cutoffs her "holiday" outfit (see previous post).


Henry the Rice-Carrying Man
 We also helped deliver bags of food (donated by people from the embassy), clothes, and special toys for really sick kids (I did not take photos of the sick kids). They live in a facility attached to the orphanage, and it is run solely on donations.

It's been hard to get in the Christmas spirit whith everything going on lately, but today helped give me a little nudge.

Monday, December 10, 2012

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like...

We've been decking the halls around here a bit.  This is the family tree, which the kids decorate themselves with all the ornaments we've collected over the years. I learned a long time ago that it's no fun for anybody when someone with OCD helps decorate a Christmas tree, so I usually sit back and watch the festivities with a little Christmas cheer in my hand. 

Look! A real live elf.
This is my own personal tree:
There are two pictures of it, BECAUSE IT IS AWESOME. It has feather boas AND aqua balls. My husband, the traditionalist, thinks two trees are too much.  HA! I say. If you saw this tree in person you would feel warm and fuzzy inside, unless you were a grumpy bastard. Not naming any names.

Also, I hung a branch from the ceiling and hung some more balls from it.  I am a fan of balls at Christmastime.  If you were a grumpy bastard, you'd be all, "Why is there a branch hanging from the ceiling?  It's probably full of deadly spider eggsacs."  And I'd be all, "Don't be a hater, you brought me all the way to South America, where I don't have a proper light fixture to decorate."

Over the weekend, the three youngest kids and I went to the Embassy Santa Breakfast.  I was working the event, and we were running late, so I told the kids to put on some nice Christmas outfits. They were all out in the car waiting when I came out, so I didn't have a chance to appraise their attire.  For their annual photo with Santa.  To be preserved for all time.


La. La.



Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Working Girl

No, not that kind of working girl. Just one that wears proper pants.  I just got home from my second day of work.  This is a big deal for me in that the last time I worked in an office was, let's see....NEVER (and I'm not counting volunteering, because you don't have to wear real pants when you volunteer).  Anyhoo, it's going pretty well.  Yesterday was the usual, forms, swearing in, forms, fingerprinting, lunch with my hubby at the embassy, and some more paperwork. At about 10:00, I looked at the clock as I was filling out my forms, and  had a little sad feeling, because that's normally the time of day I look at shoes online.  I was sure someone was buying all the shoes on the internet.  Someone that wasn't me.  I looked in the bottom of my cute purse for a tiny violin, but all I found was a melty tinted chapstick. By the time I got home, I was completely exhausted from wearing pants that button up and shoes that were super-cute-but-horribly-uncomfortable.  I was surprised and saddened when I walked in my front door and there was no party (or even confetti!) for me.  Not even a sign saying, "Woo-hoo!  You went to work today, Kate!  Good job!!"  So what's the point of even going, right?

And then, even though I went to work yesterday, I had to get up and go again todayBecause, apparently, 'going to work' doesn't just mean going one time.  Today was much better, because the forms were all done and I got to do actual work. The ladies in my office are fun and nice and helpful, and I think I will be happy there once I get used to not wearing yoga pants every day.  One of my tasks is to maintain/update/add to the embassy blog, so that was a breeze. Strangely, someone put up a sign above my desk saying something about being unrelentingly positive and not sarcastic or somesuch.  You can bet I threw that bitch in the trash.