Friday, August 31, 2012

Bad Day 52--I want one of those!

I can no longer deny the fact that I'm losing weight. I haven't stepped on a scale yet, and I probably won't until I'm forced to. But my skirt doesn't fit anymore and it should. It's so loose that it kept falling down and I had to keep hiking it back up, and nothing ruins a cute outfit like tugging at it every 5 seconds. So I improvised and held it up with one of those big metal spring clips that you hold reams of paper together with. Yes, ladies, a new use for office supplies! It wasn't pretty, but it didn't fall down while I was walking to catch the subway home, so who cares. But since the skirt fit fine when I bought it and now it is way too loose, either I am losing weight, or the British fashion assassins have invaded my home and stretched out all my clothing.

The problem is that those sneaks did a great job. I appear to have lost just enough that my clothes don't fit, but not enough to actually be a size smaller. So now nothing fits. But ha ha, you fashion assassins have failed because I have a solution! Wrap dresses. They fit no matter what size you are, so take that you measly few pounds! You will not defeat me! Now, I know that you few optimists out there who read this blog will say that I should be happy for losing weight, especially since I have been trying to since I was 11. But you underestimate my ability to find something to gripe about and besides that I have nothing to wear, I'm losing weight because of the stress, so it won't last. And I refuse to buy new skinny clothes that I just won't fit into next year. So wrap dresses, here I come! I have five, so that should last me until I can buy more office supplies to hold up the rest of my clothes--maybe staples would work, too.

Tonight, Husband and I went on our last grown-up date before he leaves on Tuesday. The rest of the weekend will involve children, so we went to see The Dark Knight and I loved it. I totally need one of those motorcycles, and a leather catsuit, but it will need to have a lot of lycra (like all the lycra in America) in it to make me look like Cat Woman. But I think I could at least pull off the mask.

But the best thing about the movie was actually the trailer for Argo which is the true story of how Tony Mendez from the CIA exfiltrated 6 consular officers from Iran in 1979. That's right. The CIA saved the visa staff! I'm just sad the movie is rated R because Child 1 really wants to see it because I have told her about this story for years. So I'll just buy her the book instead: The Master of Disguise: My Secret Life in the CIA by Antonio Mendez.

Vanessa Steer in Devon, England is having a worse day than me. Her husband, who is retired and apparently has not enough to do, has excavated a medieval well. Now, I know you are thinking that amateur archaeology is a fine hobby to have, which may be true. The problem is, he did his excavations in their living room. So now, they have this in their parlor.

Mrs. Steer is not happy about it and I am fully on her side on this one. So thank you, Mr. Steer, for reminding me to be grateful that Husband has never excavated a well in my house.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Bad Day 51--Why doesn't God want me to eat candy?

I started out the day with very good intentions which all went downhill at 10:30 when I was starving and all there was to eat was 1/2 of a stale doughnut. So to make up for the doughnut, I later had a box of Good N Plenty and a bag of Cheetos. This is the problem I have every time when I try to eat healthily--I make one mistake and then I just give up and gorge on whatever is the most unhealthy thing that I can find that isn't chocolate, because God hates me and made me become allergic to chocolate two years ago.

I think I've been on a diet my entire life. I have an encyclopedia of what I should and shouldn't eat in my head, with an annex of what I actually can't eat. No chocolate (allergic), bacon (migraine inducing), ham (migraines again), potatoes of any kind (high glycemic index and bad for you), candy (sugar will kill you), pizza (nothing redeeming about it nutritionally),  pasta salad (simple carbohydrates and mayonnaise are a deadly combination), or cheese (just slap the fat in it right on my thighs.) By my calculations, that leaves liver, Brussels sprouts, and bananas--all of which I hate. Is it possible to survive on only vitamins and milk?

The problem with diets is that none consist of foods that I want to eat. If there could be a diet that is mostly french fries, ice cream and Cheetos, I would stay on it forever. But since I actually have taste-buds, I just can't get on board with an all grape-fruit, or a no starch, or a soup only diet. Someone once said to me that if I'm hungry, why don't I just eat some carrots instead of a brownie? (This was obviously before I was allergic to chocolate.) And I thought, you skinny idiot, you completely do not get it at all. Carrots do not taste like brownies. They are not a forbidden indulgence. They aren't silky or sultry or luscious in any way. In short, brownies are Daniel Craig as James Bond and carrots are Ban Ki-Moon giving a lecture on foreign policy. You know the foreign policy lecture is good for you, but it's such a chore and wouldn't you so rather have James Bond? Anyone who says no is a liar, or blind, or a blind liar. See what I mean? So maybe when I want a brownie, I should just watch Casino Royale. I think that could actually work. I'll call it the Bond Diet. Let me know if you would buy the book, which would just be filled with pictures like this.

Today, in honor of the almost end of summer,  anyone swimming in this Chinese swimming pool is having a worse day than me.


I know what you are thinking, and you are wrong. There is actually a pool under there somewhere in that lifeguard's living nightmare of a water park. See, the thing about having 1.3 billion people in your country is that it is crowded. This is what I mean when I say "it was China crowded." and since we all know what people do in the pool that they shouldn't and grosses everyone out, then there is no place safe to be in the water at this park. So thank you again Bobbi, for sending me this story and reminding me how glad I am that I never went to a water park when I lived in China and how grateful I am that American fire marshals are so strict about capacity.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Bad Day 50--Slow down, slow down, slow down!

Washington, DC was just rated the city with the worst drivers in the nation. Baltimore came in second. I totally believe with every fiber of my being that this is wrong. Washington, DC isn't the worst in the nation--it's the worst in all of North America and I am including Nicaragua and Panama. I have no idea how people drive in Nicaragua and Panama, because I've never been there. But they can't drive as badly as people do here. It's a crazy mix of super type A personalities who own the road and people who have no idea where they are going and tend to turn right from the left lane. And then there is the random motorcade that you have to stop for. Although then you can take a picture of the limousine with your cell phone and see if you can see the President in it. (You never can.) It has been this way in DC for a long time. I know because when I Googled images of DC accidents, this is the first one that popped up.

I am a good driver. I have never had an accident while driving. Parking is another matter but I was a teenager, so that shouldn't count.  But anyway, I'm  a good driver, but I'm a horrible passenger. The kind like my grandmother who was blind and yet still insisted on telling my grandpa to slow down, move over, go faster, what are you waiting for, you're going to hit that car. I so loved my grandmother that I have turned into her. I am constantly gasping and stepping on an imaginary break as if somehow my stomping on the floor is going to magically stop the car and prevent whatever imaginary accident Husband or Child 1 are going to get into. It's so annoying that I would never ever want to ride with me anywhere, and yet I can't help it. I have resorted to sitting in the back seat and playing on my iPod so I can't see or hear the traffic. It's an OK strategy except that I'm supposed to be teaching Child 1 to drive, not hiding in the back seat. But someday soon, Child 1 will have a license and then I can just stand on the side of the road and wave as she drives off. I can't wait.

Lindsay Lohan is having a worse day than me again.

Lindsay Lohan Sunset Hotel

She is off the hook for theft once more, but she ran up a $46,000 hotel bill and then didn't pay it. Yep. Her hotel bill was twice the amount I got paid for my first full-time job. I actually feel quite bad for Lindsay. She was such an adorable kid, and now she's a national joke. So thank you, Lindsay, for reminding me that integrity is important and I will never get kicked out of a hotel for not paying the bill. Also, you spent way too much on the mini-bar.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Bad Day 49--When did I buy that?

You will all be happy to know that the shirt I bought yesterday without trying on fits. Not only does it fit, it looks really good. So I'm happy to know that my eye for fashion works just fine when it is not being thwarted by British fashion designers. (See Bad Day 3 if you're confused by this line of reasoning. Or if you're British and have forgotten parts of your country's evil plan to make American women feel bad about themselves.) I wore it to work today and I felt very fashionable. I paired it with a black skirt, so as not to stick out too much from the unofficial uniform of black because the shirt is a lovely shade of teal. I'm quite fond of teal.

We've been in our house for a year now and we are still unpacking boxes and hanging pictures. Husband hung some today while I was at work and he's hanging more right now. We have, um, quite a number of pictures. But that's OK because we have a house with an awful lot of empty wall space. But don't worry (because I know how concerned you must be.) We will find things to fill the space with, as soon as we finish digging through those boxes.

The problem with moving in the Foreign Service is that we do it a lot and it's really complicated and every time, the people in the State Department who are supposed to be logistics expert act like no one has ever moved overseas before and it is like you are doing it for the very first time. They ask you things like do you want your things packed in boxes. Um as opposed to what? Bags? Just throwing it all together in the crate? Or they do fabulously stupid things like send your things to Ghana when you are actually moving to Guangzhou. You would think that since this is the Foreign Service that they would make it a point to hire people who at least have heard of geography and know that Colombia and British Colombia aren't on the same continent. But you would be wrong because this is what happens almost every time. And even if you do manage to get someone to help you who not only knows that London is in the United Kingdom which is near Europe and is also called England, then you still have the movers to contend with.

(Do not pack your children in the boxes. It might be tempting, but you will get into a lot of trouble with customs.)

Every set of movers we've had have been perfectly nice and none of them really understand what the heck they are supposed to do with our stuff. You see, there are three options: 1. leave in storage in the U.S. 2. Ship via ground transportation to the new post, and 3. send via air freight. The air shipment is theoretically supposed to arrive well before the ground shipment and you put into it all the things you want right away like your pillows, mattress pads because remember you will be sleeping on rocks that the locals think are mattresses but really are torture devices, and of course, extra shoes and purses because you can only fit so many in your luggage. Oh, and don't forget to pack your suitcase before the movers arrive and hide it from them because if they pack it and ship it, you will be very unhappy. Although then you could go shopping, so maybe that's not a bad strategy after all.

You can see how this can get complicated very quickly. Add in a baby and a ruptured Achilles tendon or two, and it can go bad really fast. The year that we moved when I really had ruptured my Achilles tendon, I had to leave Husband in charge of the packing. It should have gone well because he spoke the local language (I didn't) and I had carefully separated everything and wrote notes about what was to go where. I tried hopping around the house on one foot and directing things, but everyone quickly grew weary of this scenario of me hopping and saying wait, what was it you just put in that box and did you write that on the packing list and no one understanding because they didn't speak English and I was directed to sit down, hold the toddler, and watch Finding Nemo. So I did. When we got to the next place, the air freight arrived early like it was supposed to for once and I watched the movers unpack the boxes which were full of Husband's suits. Yes. I said suits.  And shirts. And shoes. And ties. I waited in vain for the linens and cooking utensils, and pans, and pillows I had carefully set aside to be unpacked but they didn't make it. I should mention that Husband was going into language training and didn't even need to wear a suit for a whole year! We did end up with two pots, a cheese grater and a whisk, but no plates, bowls, spoons, cups, etc. So we bought some and now we have three sets of dishes, none of which match each other. But we can date memories by thinking about which set of dishes we were eating off at the time. It's a little more accurate than carbon dating, I think.

At one post, we ended up with the vacuums that were supposed to go to storage and since the post supplied a vacuum, we had three. At another post, a long lost box from storage inexplicably showed up with my parents' electric blanket from 1964 in it. Sorry, Mom, we left that old blanket in China. And then there are the things that go missing or get broken. Just a word of advice, silk plants do not move well in the summer. They arrive with all the leaves dropped off because the glue melts in the heat. Also candles that aren't in jars do not move well, unless you happen to like crooked, dented candles. If you do, come on over because I have a bunch to sell you.

The problem with moving back to the US is that all your stuff comes back to you and you open a box and wonder if those things are really yours and why did you think that sweater was a good idea 10 years ago and was your dresser really that ugly shade of brown? And why oh why does Husband still have philosophy textbooks when he changed that major 25 years ago? But there are your own political geography textbooks that describe life in Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union, so Husband is not the only one who has lost track of what he owns.

Wish me luck with all the unpacking. I only have about 8 boxes to go. I might just get it all done before we move again--which I assure you will be nowhere near Afghanistan.

Today, Donald Trump is having a worse day than me. I know I promised no politics unless they are funny and I find Mr. Trump hilarious. First, there is the name. Did he make it up so he could Trump everyone? And second, the hair, which even if it is real is really ugly. And third, he so thinks he is such an important figure and here he was all ready to reveal some big surprise which probably had something to do with his horrible reality show, and now he can't do it. And I'm sure he is having a lot of trouble understanding why he can't just give his speech instead of Romney, but he will never ever get it. So thank you, Mr. Trump, for reminding me that money cannot buy everything and to be very grateful that I have things in abundance that cannot be bought. Now I have to go unpack some boxes and find some of them.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Bad Day 48--Shop 'Til Husband Drops

We dragged Husband to the mall today. He was a really good sport about it, even though he wouldn't change the radio from NPR despite the pleading from the back seat. And stores have learned. Old Navy has lots of benches for the non-shoppers to sit on while their family members run around saying, oh isn't that cute, and look at this, and what do you think about mustard as a color?

Two of the children have inherited the shopping gene, and the other, well, let's just say that even though her school does not have uniforms, she insists on sticking to one and I could not get her to agree to any color of jeans other than denim blue. Not gray or even navy would tempt her. I did force her to buy a couple of "normal" jeans, but even though she would look fabulous in super skinny ones, she won't wear them. So she and Husband sat on the benches chatting while the other two children tried on every pair of pants in the store.  And then I think we bought most of them. I bought a shirt, without trying it on of course, but this time I have learned. 1. I won't rip off the tags before I try it on. And 2. It is not British. These are the jeans she won't wear. If I had her legs, I would have them in every color, but no. She will only wear denim blue.

The other thing I did today was to have a very uncomfortable medical procedure--one that I am very glad to have been in the US to have done. I have learned from sad experience that some doctors overseas are there because the malpractice rates are much lower, and even though they may be Western trained, they are not up to Western standards. So when it involves very large needles, I'm glad I was here and not in a the city where they told me that my broken ankle wasn't broken (it was) and that I had cancer when I didn't.

Everyone at this Tennessee high school football game had a worse day than me. I attended a lot of high school football games in my day, and some of them stunk, but that was because we had the worst team in the district--not because a skunk interrupted the game. 

We did used to come across skunks early in the morning while my sister was driving me to church in her convertible Volkswagen Thing. It was always a real adventure driving around in the Thing, but never so much as when we'd come upon a dead skunk in the road. You can't get away from the smell in an old convertible. So thank you Booneville Blue Devils, for reminding me of those fun rides with my sister and for making me grateful that all I can smell now is my lovely vanilla candle.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Bad Day 47--Is something burning?

Child 2 objects to sparkles on her bum. Child 1 has these super cute skinny jeans that no longer fit her that Child 2 would look adorable in, but she won't ever wear them. I told her they would make her bum look cute, Child 3 chimed in with jeans with nothing on the pockets make your bum look smaller. (Why my 9 year old knows this fact is beyond me.) So I said that Child 2's bum was perfect and she didn't need it to look smaller. And then she said but I don't want it to sparkle! I guess I can see why that might make someone uncomfortable but it does mean that we will have to go shopping for jeans this week. Oh darn.

Tonight, I burned the dinner. OK, it didn't actually burn but it almost burned and it was a little well done and I don't like well done roast beef, so it was a failure, even though everyone said it was delicious and they all ate it anyway. I haven't burned a dinner in years, so even almost burning it feels like a failure. I mentioned that when I first married Husband he hated everything I knew how to cook and I am not exaggerating about that. It was extremely frustrating because I had to learn how to cook new things all on my own and we didn't have any money, and the secret that no one tells you about cooking is that it is SO much easier to make an expensive cut of meat taste delicious than a cheap one and as a result, we had more than a few shoe leather like pot roast dinners.

The other secret, which isn't really a secret because every chef will tell you this if you ask (even if they are hawking their own brand of cheap cookware at Target) is that expensive pans also make a difference. For years, I made roast beef in a Pyrex baking pan and this is wrong wrong wrong. Don't do it! Because when you make it in a real roasting pan, the vegetables caramelize and turn out creamy. That's the only way to describe onions, carrots, and potatoes that melt in your mouth. I discovered this only a couple of years ago when I finally broke down and bought a real roasting pan because I was tired of the stupid disposable aluminum ones that are really just a grease fire waiting to happen because the moment you tug on it to pull it out of the oven, turkey grease pours out all over and starts the burners smoking and sets off the smoke alarm and then The Dog barks and the children start crying and you are swearing because you've burned your hand and it's not a fun way to cook Thanksgiving dinner. Also, you can't make gravy directly in it and it is a huge pain to dispose of and it can't be good for the environment.

So I bought a pan from Williams & Sonoma and I love it. LOVE it. See, it's even pretty. Look at those graceful handles.

If Husband ever divorces me and takes off with some blonde bimbo and we have to divide up the household goods, he is not getting that pan. It is the only thing I would seriously go to the mat for. OK, besides the children. But not The Dog. He can have The Dog. Anyway (no, Children, there is no divorce. That was a joke, OK? I'm sorry you don't find it funny. Stop crying. No, seriously!) I love the roasting pan and it has upped my roast beef from merely excellent to the sublime. But tonight, I stupidly put the temperature up too high because I wasn't paying attention and I thought it was supposed to be cooked at 425, and really it was 325, so dinner browned very quickly and got a little over done. But it was still delicious, but not sublime, but at any rate way better than anything Husband can get in Afghanistan, so he wasn't complaining and they still ate every last carrot and all the onions, and the children claim they don't like onions, but they eat these, so now do you believe me about how amazing the pan is?

The nurse who threw away a perfectly healthy kidney is having a worse day than me. A man was donating his kidney to his brother, which is a lovely, wonderful thing to do, and a nurse threw it out with the medical waste making it impossible to transplant into the brother who really needed it. And now the hospital has suspended all organ transplants until they figure out what went wrong. I'm sure the lawsuits will begin tomorrow and that nurse will be at the center of them. So thank you, incompetent nurse, for reminding me to be grateful for two working kidneys and to be careful about which hospital I choose if I ever need to donate one to my brother.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Bad Day 46--Wait, wait! Change the station!

We went to Ikea today, which is always a major undertaking even though we have the layout pretty much memorized. But it's a HUGE store and I actually got lost for a little bit. But I can always find my way to the food. Don't tell my Norwegian friends this, but Swedish food and Norwegian food are very similar, so we always buy lots of food when we go to Ikea.  Aside from that, we also bought a dresser for Child 1 because she is tired of holding her breath every time she opens a drawer to see if the whole thing is going to fall apart. But now we have to put it together since we can't pay $2 extra and have someone deliver it to our house and assemble it like we did in China--something else for Husband's honey-do list which is growing longer and longer while time is getting shorter and shorter. But I'll think about that tomorrow. This is the new dresser.

The thing about Ikea is that it is not very close and the children get bored on the drive and they start complaining. Four of us like to listen to music on the ride, and one of us likes to listen to boring news programs. OK, not all of them are boring. The children actually enjoy Car Talk, and Wait, Wait Don't Tell Me is really funny at times, but the children don't appreciate some of the longer, shall we say, more detailed news programs and as soon as we got in the car, the yelling started because Husband couldn't take the whining for more than 5 seconds. I guess he got spoiled in Afghanistan where there wasn't anyone to say why do we have to listen to this, can't you change the station, do you even care about this news story, NPR is killing me!! To be fair, Husband didn't actually yell and he took it in stride and I told the children that in a few more days they could have the radio all to themselves again, and then they were sad and very quiet. That may have been overkill on my part.

Now we are watching Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan because Child 1 had been watching the original series on Netflix and we need to introduce her to the good movies. But she is complaining that Lt. Saavik's eyebrows are all wrong to be a Vulcan. I couldn't be prouder.

Speaking of Norway, someone there is having a worse day than me. An employee at a gallery that bought a Rembrandt decided to save money by sending it through the mail! And of course, now it's missing. So thank you, Norwegian gallery employee, for reminding  me that I should never trust a priceless etching to the mail, should I ever be lucky enough to own one.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Bad Day 45--I thneed nothing

Tonight we went to see The Lorax. Our town has a theater in the park in the summer and they show a movie on a big screen in the park for free. The weather was great, and the girls wanted to spend time with Husband, so we all trotted off to the park with lawn chairs and watched what has to be the worst adaptation of a Dr. Seuss movie ever. Husband, of course, slept through the whole thing, so he got out of the worst of it. But I am really, really mad.

You see, I love the book. Love it. I think it's responsible for my passion about nature and global warming. (Yes. It exists. Do not write me about all your irresponsible unscientific views on the matter because I simply won't publish them.) I'm not rabid about it, but we recycled before anyone recycled and we have re-useable grocery bags, and we always plant flowers and trees wherever we can and we turn off our lights. At least I do. And so does Husband. The children, however, leave them on all the time and the TV! Drives me crazy. But anyway, the book is beautiful and poignant, and an excellent lesson about the unintended consequences of unchecked greed. And the movie is just drivel. It's trite, and has bad dialogue and one-dimensional characters. So I'm sorry, children. I hated the movie and we will not be getting it on DVD. Read the book. We own it. I know you tried to donate it to charity several times, but I rescued it. Believe me, the book is almost always better. (Except for The Princess Bride. That movie was much better. Because you can't see Wesley in the book.)

Speaking of royalty, Prince Harry is having a worse day than me. I am certain his family is not happy with him and you all know the reason why. If I were his grandmother, I would be mortified. Royal Princes are not supposed to act like they are in The Hangover 5 or whatever number they are on and obviously what happens in Vegas does not stay in Vegas if your brother is going to be the King of England. So Harry, use this reality check to gain some self respect, and thank you for the reminder that I never have to worry about going on a drunken binge and ending up naked in someone's cell phone because I don't let people take pictures of me. See, vanity can be a good thing!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Bad Day 44--Grrrr!

I know something. I know it and I can't share it with anyone and the fact that I know it is making me very cranky. I want to unknow it but that's not possible. You can't unknow anything. You can forget it. I do forget things all the time, like the name of that boy in high school who was in love with me and I had to keep letting him down gently over and over again. Or the name of the store where I bought those cute blue shoes that one time. Or my password to anything. But this is the type of thing I won't forget and I will just be cranky about it until I can think about something else. Quick, someone give me something to distract me!

The children are downstairs ruining my kitchen with spray glue. OK, I may have done some of the ruining. I'm not very good with spray glue yet. It is a relatively new skill. When I worked in a craft store years ago, there was no such thing. We only had hot glue and I still have the scars from those stupid glue guns. They are deadly! We are using the spray glue to make a monkey costume. The children are helping out at a 4 year old's birthday party tomorrow and one of them is a monkey and one of them is a troll. It is a Dora party, for those of you familiar with Dora the Explorer. I'm sure it will be a lot of fun, but I am SO glad there is such a thing as spray glue because it means I don't have to sew anything. I really, really hate sewing.

I thought that all good moms sewed. My sisters do. My Mom did. So I tried. When the children were little, I really tried. I made them Easter dresses once and I was literally up all night. I didn't get to bed because I was still sewing right up until it was time to leave for church. And I didn't even do that good of a job. Then I made Halloween costumes. Because don't all good mothers make their own costumes? I hated it. Every stitch made me angry. And then, we moved overseas and finding fabric and patterns was really tough and I decided, this year, just this year we'll buy the costumes, and you know what? The kids loved them and I was still a good mom. So now we mostly buy them. But since we have some spray glue, I'm envisioning all sorts of fun. This could be a good distraction.

These French tourists in Sri Lanka had a worse day than me. All they were trying to do was take a fun picture, and the mistake they made was not using a digital camera because the photo developer turned them in and they received a sentence of six months of hard labor (thankfully suspended,) all for doing something very French--kissing a Buddha statue. So thank you, mon amis, for reminding to be grateful that I have never kissed any statues in Buddhist countries.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Bad Day 43--There is nothing free about public education

$300 for school supplies and we're not even finished! And that does not include the $100 graphing calculator which may or may not be rentable from the school. We're hoping it is. We came home with a cart filled to the brim with school supplies and we still have to find things like those pens that have four colors in one pen that all the cool kids had when you were little and your mother would never ever buy them and now the school requires your child to have four. Four! Of those really cool multi-pens. And a notebook full of graph paper which I didn't even know they made. But we did manage to find a Hunger Games folder, so that was time well spent.

But back to fashion. OK, not really a good segue but I've been dying to rant about fashion at my work place. As many of you may have guessed, I work for the Department of State. I know that some members of congress think we are pinko liberals, but for liberals, we're really conservative. You can tell by the way we dress. OK, by the way everyone else but me dresses. The Department may be the last bastion of the seersucker suit. Now, I'm not denigrating seersucker at all. I love a good seersucker blazer. I just thought no one not in 1965 still wore suits made out of it. (I own a seersucker blazer and it is adorable and by that one British designer who isn't out to get me.) But there is a gentleman at the Department who occasionally wears his with a straw boater. So he must be in 1955, I think. This is not him, but you get the idea. And no, there is no live poultry at the Department that I know of. There are raccoons, though. I'll save the stories about live animals for another post.

I also know that we're conservative based on the number of flag pins I see people wearing. Very often they also include the flag of a country they've served in, but just as often it's only the American flag. I bought a rhinestone version when I went to Texas because I couldn't bear to wear they ugly fake gold ones, and I didn't want to be left out of the color guard parade. The other reason that I know for certain we are not liberal is that the only color women at the Department ever wear is black. Black suits are the uniform of choice and it's very rare to see someone in something other than black. I, myself, made a vow never to buy at black suit, although I did break down and buy one after several years, but that is because the pants made my bum look really small and cute and it is pin-striped and has the most beautiful maroon lining, so I don't think it counts. Also, I split it up and wear it as separates.

Once, someone told me I had my own style. I think she was trying to offend me, but I refused to be offended because it is true, and it is a good style, and she so wishes she had my sense of fashion. And another person of the black-suit-flag-pin brigade told me that my kelly green raincoat is very bright. I said, "Yes. It is!" And then I unfurled my rainbow umbrella. My philosophy is, if the day is gray, something should be bright and cheerful. I'm definitely not garish and I'm certainly in no need of What Not to Wear, but I do wear blue more than black, and all my lanyards are actually necklaces because if I have to wear something around my neck, it's going to be jewelry and most lanyards people wear with their badges are ugly.

Once in a while, I see someone more daring than me. No, not the girl in the strapless sheer taupe jumpsuit which would have been great at the Playboy Mansion but was shocking at the Department! No, not her. But today I saw a woman wearing a really pretty dark blue chambray shirt with leather trim around the zipper and I wanted to applaud her and say, "Keep it up!" We fashionistas need to support each other in our time of need.

Speaking of the fashion-challenged, this little girl is having a worse day than me.

Chinese swimmers wear face-kinis at the public Huiquan Beach in Qingdao, on China's eastern coast.

No, she and her mother are not superheroes on holiday. They are Chinese and her mother is so afraid of her daughter having fun in the sun and getting tan that she made her wear this awful face-kini. Poor thing. It's a hot summer day and all she wants to do is swim and she is so covered in clothing she can't even feel the way her hair floats in the water or the cool spray on her cheeks. So thank you, face-kini mother, for reminding me that as flawed as I am, I never dressed my children in a Hannibal Lechter mask to go to the beach. (And thank you, Bobbi, for the link!)

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Bad Day 42--I'm sorry (not really)

I believe I may have offended the country of Fiji and for that, I am sorry. I am not sorry, for what I said, however, because I was right. I was not making a dig at the lovely Miss Fiji. She is quite beautiful. Here is a picture of her.

What makes me sad for her is that here is this beautiful woman representing her country, and instead of putting her in something flattering, her pageant director turned her into an owl. And not a very feminine owl either. It is possible to be beautiful and have a costume that resembles a bird. See below.

Or since it's a beauty pageant, try the following. It would certainly get Donald Trump's vote.

No, they made that lovely woman into this:

It's a beauty pageant and you can't even see her face! And forget trying to see her figure. They sent her out in a costume that didn't showcase her in a good way and that is why I said she was having a worse day than me.

So to the people of Fiji, you have a lovely beauty queen. Next time tell the pageant director to showcase her better. I hope you will forgive me and not put me on your visa banned list because I would really like to go to Fiji someday and not be met by a crowd of angry owl-costume lovers.

OK. Enough of the non-apologies. I'm going to go indulge myself by watching an episode of What Not to Wear, which is one of our favorite shows. It's torture for Husband, but we're taking over the TV and making him watch it with us. While we all touch him and do girly things like squeal and say "that's so cute!" It will be rough, but it's a good antidote to all that testosterone he's been exposed to in Afghanistan. Also, we love it when he rolls his eyes and groans.

Today, my friend "Genevieve" is having a worse day than me. Not only is she getting ready to move to Armpit, Asia. (You know. That place that when you tell other people in the Foreign Service that you've been assigned there , they say "why on earth did you bid there?") But her husband had to leave early and he is already there while she is stuck in the U.S. with four children. I know, you are saying, Armpit, Asia isn't Afghanistan, but it gets worse. Genevieve is pregnant with baby number 5. And her oldest is only 9. And she has gestational diabetes. So not only is she pregnant, tired, and stuck in an apartment with four children, she can't even eat chocolate or ice cream to make herself feel better. So thank you, Genevieve, for reminding me that even though I can never have another piece of chocolate for the rest of my life, I can at least have mango ice cream. Hang in there, Gen. And let me know when I can bring you dinner.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Bad Day 41--Mom, you're touching me!

Husband changed all the dead lightbulbs in the the house today and I couldn't love him more. I asked him before he left if we could get one of those lightbulb changers on a stick like I used when I worked at Gymboree because I am too short to reach the ceiling. Husband laughed at me and didn't believe me until I stood on top of the stool and was still about a foot too short (about 30 cm for you metric people.) In the last month, about five of them blew and it was getting pretty dim. Now I can see in the kitchen and I'm very happy. But I still think I need a pole because if we lose one lightbulb per week, then we'll be in the dark by Thanksgiving and Husband will still have another month before he gets home again.

The annoying thing about his being home is that I keep touching him. Let me rephrase that. I'm pretty sure that he will be annoyed with me shortly because I have to keep touching him. Not that kind of touching. Please! My mother reads this blog! No, I mean that I always have to be in the same room with him and have my hand on his shoulder or his knee, or whatever arm he's not eating/reading/using the remote with. If it were me, I would have said "enough already! I'm not going to disappear if you let go." But he's too nice and he's putting up with me quite well. Still, it's early days yet. It's not just me, either. On Sunday at church everyone wanted to sit with Daddy which was tough because there are four of us and he only has two sides, so I was on his left, one was on his right, one on his lap, and he reached his arm around me to the last one and had his hand on her shoulder.

When the children were little and I was home with them all day long with no maid service and no nanny and no grown-ups to talk to (see, I so remember what it was like), I used to have this feeling that I had a certain number of touches each day and since the children were all over me all the time, by the time Husband came home, they were all used up and I just wanted to go to sleep. That may have had something to do with the exhaustion that comes from being a mom with toddlers, now that I think about it.

Now that the children are older, I have to force them to hug me. I offer to do their hair, and they usually say no, and I tell them it just needs a little fixing but usually it's fine and I just want to play with their hair and be their mother. I am probably giving them all a complex about their hair and that is just tough because I need an excuse to touch them. I'll pay for their therapy later. Or hair extensions. Or whatever. But Husband just came in the room and I need to stop typing so I can put my hand on his shoulder.

Congressman Yoder is having a worse day than me.

Now, everyone in America and around the world knows that when he went to visit the Holy Land and saw the Sea of Galilee where Jesus Christ walked on water, he thought an appropriate thing to do would be to strip down and go skinny dipping. In the Sea of Galilee. On a tax-payer funded trip. Did I mention it was where Jesus walked on water? So thank you, Congressman, for reminding me that if I am ever lucky enough to travel to Israel I will remember to bring my bathing suit.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Bad Day 40--Give it back!

In every relationship there is always someone who loves the other person more. In my relationship that is definitely The Dog. I'm not sure what I ever did to earn The Dog's undying affection, but apparently it was something enormous, like breathing, or existing. I'm not exaggerating when I say that she needs to be in the same room with me at all times. She has even figured out how to get in my room when the door is locked, and I was locking it to keep The Dog out. So now I have to use rubber bands to tie the door handles together which is very unsafe should there ever be a fire and I need to leave the room quickly. It also makes the children very frustrated because they also cannot enter the room and they try the door handle over and over and push and nothing happens and then they yell.

You would think that the children would have figured out about locked doors right now, but these children have no boundaries--not that I didn't try to set them. It's just that they ignore them. All. The. Time. It started when they were small. I would run a bath for me and Child 1 would run and get her ducks and throw them in the tub and climb in. Um. Great. So much for privacy. I know it's my own fault for not locking the door, but all three of them would scream and pound on the evil thing that was between them and their mother and  it is not very relaxing to be in a bath with a screaming toddler on the other side of the door. So basically, not much has changed now that they are older.

Now the boundary crossers do believe in privacy, but instead of barging in on me in the bathroom, they just steal my stuff. Jewelry and make-up occasionally, but always my hair brush. I was so tired of going on the hair brush hunt daily that I bought a second brush, and they take that, too. So next time you see me, if my hair looks like this, just know it's because someone has taken my brush! Again!

Good thing their feet are bigger than mine so they can't take my shoes or it might mean war.

I am pretty sure this woman had a worse day than me.

Miss Fiji rehearses in her owl costume

This is a Miss World contestant, not someone auditioning for Harry Potter the Musical for the role of Hedwig. While other contestants were wearing native costumes or princess dresses, this poor woman's country decided she would look better as a bird. So thank you, Miss Fiji, for reminding me to be grateful that I will never ever have to wear feathers like this.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Day 39--Adventures in Cooking

Since Husband's parents were visiting this weekend, we did the tourist thing and went downtown to the Library of Congress. I had never been in before because the only time I went, they told me I couldn't bring in a stroller, so Sister 2 went inside and I stayed outside and played with the baby on the grass. Frankly, I'm sad now that I have lived here all these years and never went inside because it is amazing. It is very beautifully decorated with lots of pre-Raphaelite style murals and quotes about books, and wisdom, and literature. My favorite is from Thomas Jefferson who simply said "I cannot live without books." I completely agree. I agree so much that I bought a cookbook in the gift shop to add to my collection.

I firmly believe that one cannot overbuy cookbooks. But one CAN buy the wrong cookbooks. I have some that I never open, like the one that had 17 steps for making potato salad. Or the one that requires ingredients you can only find in China. It was fabulous in China but not so great in the US. And then there is the one someone gave me that we call 101 ways to make jell-o. Ick. But this new one is full of county and state fair recipe winners and looks like a winner itself. I told the girls, who were urging me to buy it, that this could be our year of adventurous cooking and we could pick one new recipe a week and try it. It's my secret plan to get them to help me with the cooking. We'll see if it works.

I'm not so sure, however, that there is much hope we will find something new and exciting. This is because I have discovered I have a house full of picky eaters which is throwing me off a bit because I never thought I would raise picky eaters. I never cooked them separate meals and I always made them try everything and now Child 1 hates mangoes, Child 2 doesn't like spaghetti, and Child 3 complains about everything we put on her plate, including tonight's watermelon salad. Husband and I decided to try something new tonight based on this recipe we found in Slate. Feta and watermelon is actually quite delicious, but each of the children individually said when they saw the lovely salad, "Why is there cheese in the watermelon?!"

I know I shouldn't complain because they like mushrooms and they eat eggplant (as long as it's in ratatouille) and they love olives which is good because they wouldn't be my children if they didn't. I would disown them. Eating olives is not negotiable in our house. But sometimes I wish they would like my lasagna and try watermelon with feta without complaining and saying, "Is it just me or does this cheese taste like nothing?" Well, if it was nothing, then why wouldn't you eat it?

These people on an Air France flight to Lebanon had a worse day than me. Not only was their flight diverted and they had to land in Syria (Syria!), then Air France asked them to help pay for the extra fuel it would take to get to Lebanon. So thank you, Air France, for reminding me to be grateful that I neither need to fly to Lebanon nor would ever have to do it on your airline.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Bad Day 38--Balderdash!

Everyone told me to expect a lot of tension when Husband came home for the first time. It will take a while to adjust they said. He'll try to change things and it will drive you crazy. Well, my lovely and sweet friends, I really do appreciate your advice but you are all completely and totally wrong. It hasn't been hard at all. It has been magical having Husband home. Granted, it's only been three days and one of them was our anniversary, and he's only been gone for a month total so far. But still, I was prepared for the worst and it hasn't shown up and I'm happy.

I also think it helped that we've already had quite a number of years together so that we are already familiar with the routines. There is nothing new for Husband to learn or get used to yet, so I'll keep that advice, which I still think is helpful, in mind for when he returns for good. But for now, I'm going to sit back and let the magic happen.

As I mentioned before, we've been married a long time. Long enough so that when I tell people how long we've been married, they gasp. I think this is because I don't look old enough to have been married that long (good genes and liberal use of sunscreen.) The other day, someone mistook me for being under 30. I know! The light was a little dim and he definitely needs his eyes checked, but it made me smile all day. It must be the bangs. But I digress. What I was starting to say is that in our married life, we've been separated for about a month a couple of times. The first  was when he went for language training in this armpit of a town in Asia for  a month without me and the baby. When people heard where he was going, they asked if I was worried that he'd get lonely and fall prey to some Asian hussy. I laughed at them because I knew that the only women he was hanging around with were a couple of French nuns and he used all his spare time and change calling me. So no, I wasn't jealous.

The second time was when I was stuck in language training and he moved to China with two of the children and I stayed behind with the third and she said once, "Remember that time when it was just you and me in our red brick house and we were lonely?" Yes, we were. Luckily, Skype had been invented by then, and so had the internet and we could see each other twice a day. And again, I wasn't jealous because I knew I would join him soon.

Then came Afghanistan and I was seething with jealousy. Not over women, because even if there were any there, that is not who Husband is. No, it's Afghanistan itself that I hated for luring Husband away from me with promises of excitement and adventure that I can't give. But now that he's come home for a bit, all that jealousy has melted away and I am no longer angry at Husband. I can see clearly that it is not his fault and I can put the blame squarely on the person responsible for this entire war. That's right. I am now seething mad at Queen Victoria. If that British hussy hadn't had such a thirst for Empire, maybe Pakistan and Afghanistan wouldn't be the mess they are today. So you can see that I'm totally right about the British. Every bad thing is all their fault! Hmph.

Today, my friends "Rob and Bobbi" suggested this link for someone having a bad day. It is  particularly appropriate because it involves Norway, where I used to live, and a moose, which I had in my back yard and we nicknamed Bullwinkle and it used to charge at us when we made the long walk from the bus stop up our driveway to the house. So thank you, Norwegian driver, for reminding me to be grateful there  is no danger I will hit either a moose or a bear in my town. And thank you Rob and Bobbi for the fun story. I'm sorry you have to put up with all those awful British people because you live in England.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Bad Day 37--Buying for the famine

It might be possible that in the past, on occasion, I may have overbought things. Husband is laughing because that might be understatement of the year, if not the decade. OK, I really overbought things all the time up to the point of ridiculousness at times. Now, I am not one of those hoarder people that you see on TV where they can't move around their house because of all the stuff and the bugs and vermin there give you the willies. I am definitely NOT a hoarder, but I sometimes buy too much of a thing because I am afraid of running out. But seriously, wouldn't you rather have too many rolls of toilet paper than not enough?

Here is a list of things I may have overbought in the past: salami (because I am the only one who eats it and a half pound of salami is probably way more than one person should eat and it goes bad pretty quickly), black T-shirts (my sister once asked me if I was buying black Ts to outlast a famine), purses (yes, I know I have too many, but the pewter commuting purse is still perfect!), Christmas ornaments (because they are pretty.) I may have also overbought shoes, but I don't think so because I can actually wear all of mine in a month or two and I am in no danger of becoming Imelda Marcos. Plus, shoes make me happy. Following is a picture of Imelda's shoe closet. NOT mine. I only own one pair of pink shoes and they are flip-flops.

But what I really over-bought in the past is food. I am always afraid of not having enough to eat, and also I like to cook and try new things and I am the worst kind of impulse buyer, so much so that grocery stores cheer when they see me coming because they know I will buy a ton of things not on my list. However, a couple of events changed this habit. First, we had that stupid derecho in July which in addition to almost ruining our trip to New York destroyed two refrigerators' worth of food, and second, that whole Husband in Afghanistan thing. Since he left, I haven't had time to go grocery shopping and for quite a while there were only two of us in the house and we could get by on turkey sandwiches and apple juice. So tonight when husband asked me what we had in the refrigerator to make for dinner, I looked and we had frozen eggplant Parmesan and some Greek yogurt. There was also some raspberry syrup and ginger ale which would make for a fun drink, but probably not dinner for 5 hungry people.

So we went grocery shopping at the warehouse store. I love warehouse stores and in the past, they would be my downfall. (You can buy socks in bulk! And also winter coats!) But I am determined to mend my ways, so we only bought enough for dinner for the in-laws tomorrow, and some soup. I have enough tomato soup to feed an army and a block of Feta the size of a dictionary, but I did not buy anything I'm not going to use. However if there is anyone in the Western Hemisphere who needs a cup or two of capers, come on by! I have enough to share with a dozen or so of you.

Today, this Hungarian politician is having a worse day than me and it is his own darn fault! See, this is what you get when you run your campaign on being racist. It is the perfect example of kharma and great reminder that we are all the same and no one is better than anyone else. So thank you, Mr.Szegedi, for reminding me to be kind to everyone and that racism is just stupid.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Bad Day 36--One great day

Husband is home. R&R is a blessed thing and I am so very glad everyone else on Husband's team was scheduled for leave in September so that he had to come home early, especially because it means that he is here on our anniversary. It's been a wonderful day catching up on all we missed and the children are literally bouncing around the house with happiness.

We started out by surprising Husband by not following his instructions to meet him at the airport curb. I mean, who welcomes someone home from Afghanistan by driving by and letting them hop into the car when you slow down? So he was on the phone calling us to tell us he was coming out of customs when he saw us and the children ran up to hug him and he was beaming and we all kissed him, which was itchy because he came back with a very scruffy beard because his razor broke a week after he got there. Then we made him breakfast (eggs, sausage, and crepes) and looked at pictures of Afghanistan which looks remarkably like the ickiest parts of Nevada, but without the paved roads and high tension wires.

And we also looked at lots of pictures of rugs, because apparently what you do in Afghanistan when there is nothing to do is go rug shopping and you don't buy anything because you want your wife's input which is a good thing because the rug you like is a "conversation piece" which is never a good idea for a rug. Here is a picture of one we both agree is really ugly.

And then we spent the rest of the day cleaning up dog vomit because The Dog decided that this was a really good day to eat some grass and get very sick all over the house.

The children are grumbling a bit because we are leaving them to go have a romantic dinner and be all mushy about our anniversary and gaze into each other's eyes over fabulous pasta. But they are getting pizza so quit complaining and for heaven's sake finish cleaning your rooms!

Lots of people are having a worse day than me today, but this guy really is. I know people have mixed feelings about permits to carry weapons and I understand after Aurora why someone would go armed to a theater. But can we all at least agree that if you shoot yourself in the behind while sitting down in a public place that you should not be allowed to have a weapon? So thank you, Mr. Sore Behind, for reminding me not to carry a gun in my pants without the safety being on.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Bad Day 35--8.5 hours!

If I actually ever slept for 8 hours straight, I could go to bed right now and when I woke up, it would be time to pick up Husband. Frankly, I can hardly wait. I have been excited all day. Christmas Eve at age 5 excited. Kid in a candy store with 5 whole dollars to spend excited. 12 year old with a season pass to Six Flags excited. I thought for certain this would be a day that I could get through without crying because even though Husband didn't call me, it was because he was on an airplane coming to see me!

And then I came home and saw them. Flowers. Gorgeous lilies, roses, and snap dragons. Husband had sent them ahead with a note that made me sob because it was perfect and I miss him so much and now I am carrying that note around in my wallet like teenagers used to do with notes that the guy they liked had passed them with the question, "Do you like me?" and he checked the box that said maybe. And so that is why I cried.

The rest of the day wasn't bad except for the children who didn't do chores all day (why am I surprised at this?) even though I called them and talked to them all individually and they all swore they would do what I asked. So I'm making them stay up and it is 10pm and they are cleaning their rooms and they won't be done before midnight and I don't care because they had better finish before Husband arrives in the morning.

The best thing about today, aside from being the day before Husband Day, is that we did manage to come up with a way to get our neighbor to stop stealing our garbage cans. Yes, our neighbor who throws the loud parties on holidays and always parks right in front of our front door even when the space in front of hers is empty--that neighbor has been taking my garbage cans! Our city issued everyone the same cans and recycling bins and you write your house number on them. We have to put them all together down the street at the corner, and all the time I come home and mine are missing. Twice I have found them in the annoying neighbor's garage which she always leaves open, so I swap out the correct ones without saying anything to her. I've been meaning to go to Home Depot and buy those big reflective numbers so she can't miss them, but as you know I have so much free time that I spend it all in the spa instead. (I so wish!) But Child 2 had the brilliant idea to mark them with the Hello Kitty duct tape that my friend "Guido" gave me as a housewarming gift. Perfect! If annoying neighbor misses the hot pink tape with Hello Kitty all over it, then I don't know what I'll do. (Thanks, Guido, for the tape!)

This family in New Hampshire definitely had a worse day than me. Their house caught on fire because they had a battery in their junk drawer. Yes, a battery--9 volt to be exact.

 Now years ago, I learned that you can use a 9 volt and steel wool to start a campfire, but I had never thought that if you stick one in a junk drawer with your mail key or some paper clips you are asking for trouble. So thank you, New Hampshire family. I'm sorry your house caught on fire, but I'm happy to be reminded to clean out my drawer. Now everyone, go check yours, too, and separate those batteries!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Bad Day 34--Two sleeps.

Could I have just one day without crying, please? I mean seriously, Husband will be home on Wed. (our anniversary) and there I was this morning sobbing on the phone about how much I miss him and how hurt I am that he went to Afghanistan. I think I mentioned before that he was having a mid-life crisis and wisely chose not to chase blondes. But honestly I wish he had bought a convertible instead of saving Afghanistan.

So, to make myself feel better I got my hair cut. It's a rather nice style change--just different enough for people to notice and I think it makes me look younger, and maybe a little thinner although I think that thinner part might be because I'm losing weight. I don't know for certain if I have lost anything or how much because I do not weigh myself. Ever. Even at the doctor's I tell the nurse I'm going to close my eyes when I step on the scale and she tells me when she's finished and hides the chart from me. (I love my nurse!) But the pants I bought and never wore because they were a little tight and then I gained weight, I can now button. AND zip. And my too small London Olympics T-shirt? I wore it last week and it was considerably less snug, although the one I bought in London will never fit until I am the size I was when I got married. So I think I am thinner, probably from all the stress. Just my luck that the only thing that can make me lose weight is sending Husband to Afghanistan. I hope it's worth it and I lose at least 25 lbs.

Here is a picture of my new haircut:

Ha! You thought I was going to post a picture of me! Silly people! I don't take pictures. Only under duress like for a passport. At the Family Reunion my brother-in-law said he was looking through 12 years of photos and he couldn't find a single one of me. I felt very triumphant. But even though I don't look as young as Selena Gomez, my hairstyle is similar and I now have bangs. So use your imagination.

I KNOW this man had a worse day than me. He got drunk, slept it off in a dumpster, and then got dumped into a garbage truck which tried twice to compact the trash. What is it with drunk people making bad decisions. Oh yeah, it kind of goes together. So thank you, Mr. Glipatrick, for reminding me to be grateful that I always sleep in my comfy wonderful bed and I never ever wake up smelling like trash.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Bad Day 33--Honeydew isn't just a melon

So Husband comes home in two days and already the list of projects has begun. Artemis, my very wise friend, told me not to do this, but I have an extra parent with no responsibilities for two weeks, and I'm sorry, I need to use him. These are all things I would have to take time off of work to take care of and I can't take time off of work because I already used too many vacation days visiting Husband's family for their reunion. So babe, here is what you get to do when you come home: shop for school supplies, help Child 1 get in needed hours of driving practice, fix the banister, take the car in to find out why that maintenance required light is on, and paint the trim in the downstairs bathroom.

OK, I know I promised you in my first post that I would paint the bathroom myself and then you could laugh at me, but Husband was trying to tell me how to do it and the way things in our house go is that if someone can't help themselves from giving you unhelpful instructions, then they get to do the task themselves. Also, Child 1 reminded me that we also have to paint the upstairs bathroom, so I'll take care of that one instead. I'm thinking something in this color family:

The reason the trim in the downstairs bathroom needs to be painted is because it is an ugly gray color. Who on earth would paint the trim of a 1/2 bath icky gray, you are wondering. I'll tell you who--the same people who painted the walls blood red. When we bought the house, we knew that was the first thing that would have to go. It was the darkest, scariest bathroom ever and it has one tiny light over the vanity so with the blood red walls and dark gray trim, it looked like they were trying to cover up a murder, so we took to calling it the murder bathroom. One time, and I think this may be my most proud parent moment, Child 1 announced as she entered the murder bathroom, "Colonel Mustard with the candlestick in the bathroom!" She is very witty, that Child 1. So fodder for Clue jokes aside, the blood red walls served no good purpose and had to go and I did successfully paint them a lovely blush pink, that is, what I could reach because I am not very tall and Husband had to help some. But I never got around to the trim and I've finally had enough of the ugly gray and I want him to paint it when he gets home because he will have a lot more free time than me.

Also, I think he should have some of the joy of shopping off the school supply list that asks for things like one blue plastic folder with two pockets and brads, one green paper folder with brads and no pockets, 2 jumbo size glue sticks and 4 small sized glue sticks. I mean, couldn't I just pay the teacher $200 and let her order it all from Staples? It would so be worth it because last year we went to four stores, (four!) and we still couldn't find everything and I finally gave up on the purple plastic folder forever because every single one in the state had already been sold and I just sent Child 3 to school without it and no one ever said anything so apparently she didn't really need it anyway.

All in all, today was a pretty good day. The In-laws are in town and came for dinner along with Husband's brother's wife's brother and his wife. Did you get that? Neither did anyone else so just call them our in-laws. And it was fun and we told family stories and I am a really good cook and I didn't make spaghetti, so Child 2 had no complaints and everyone liked the food. And Annie Lennox is on the closing ceremony along with Pet Shop Boys and did I mention the part about Husband being home in two days? So today, there are lots of people having a worse day than me and two of them are Olympic Wrestlers who missed their matches because they were late.

It would be a nightmare to miss competing because you read the schedule wrong. So thank you, Saleh Emara, for reminding me to always double-check the schedule and that I am right to want to be early to everything.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Bad Day 32--It's my fault and I don't care!

So today, I know who had a worse day than me and it is because I made her and I don't feel bad about it one bit because she totally deserved it.

You know those kids in elementary school that drove you crazy because they followed all the rules? And not only did they follow them, they also wanted to make sure that everyone else followed them, too. You remember, they would raise their hand and say, "Miss Olsen, Tommy is looking at my paper!"  And then they would turn and give poor Tommy that triumphant look because they had tattled and probably Tommy wasn't looking at their paper at all but was  just daydreaming and now he's in trouble for nothing.

These are also the people who drive 55 in the left lane. And they count the items in your cart when you're in the express lane. And most of them work in the DMV. Anyway, you know who I'm talking about and they drive you crazy, especially when you are still following the rules but they need to say something anyway like, "Exactly 15 items. Good thing that pack of razors only counts as one." Or the speed limit is actually 65 but they are still going 55. Anyway, I am generally a rule follower although I try not to be nasty to anyone about it and today I had followed ALL the rules I was not going to let some prissy old biddy stop me just because she felt like exercising her tiny little bit of power.

So here is what happened. I went to pick up Child 1 and Child 2 who were coming back from visiting family and I left really early so I could make it to the airport in time to get a pass that would let me meet them at the gate. I won't say which airline they were flying on, but here is a picture of it.

So anyway, I had paid a $100 unaccompanied minor fee because Child 2 isn't yet old enough to fly by herself and her older sister doesn't count as an adult and even though they were on a direct, non-stop flight they still made me pay it. When dropping off aforementioned children for the flight out, we stood in line for an hour and then they took all my information and put it in the computer and gave me a pass and I took them to the gate and waved good-bye. Well, this time, I got to the airport early because of the long line I knew I would have to stand in and it was a good thing, too, because it is the same line full of people who have missed their flights and are really, really angry and there were a lot of them today and none of them were nice.

But, a nice employee came up and saw I didn't have any luggage and asked why I was in the line. I told her I was picking up unaccompanied minors and she nicely said, I can help you at this computer over here. So I followed her over to the computer and she put in the flight info and found my children's names and that is when the trouble started. You see, when the brilliant individual entered in all the data when they boarded the flight, they forgot to put in my name as being the person picking up the children. The nice employee said it wasn't a problem because my name was probably written on the packet with the boarding passes that they children had on the plane and she would issue the pass anyway. Well, Miss Nosy two computers away overheard and decided to mess things up because she stopped re-booking the flights of the very angry people and ran over and said "You can't do that!" Nice Employee said she could, she had done it before, that's what the instructions were, and it would all be OK. Just to make sure she asked me my phone number and I rattled it off and it matched and she said , "See, it's her." So Miss Nosy said she couldn't, it was against regulations and it wasn't allowed. I chimed in with "I'm their mother, they have the same last name as me and I'm the one who bought the ticket and dropped them off originally." She ma'med me in a huffy voice and said that didn't matter and didn't I understand that what happened before with another child was. . . . Well, I cut her off with the fact that I didn't care what had happened before, I wasn't interested in any previous problems, and that if Delta  the unnamed airline hadn't entered the information correctly, that was their problem and not mine and they needed to fix it.

The thing Miss Nosy didn't know is that I'm rather an expert on international custody battles and I fully understand that someone could try to lie and pre-empt a pick-up and run off with the children. However, I also knew that wasn't the case and that if I didn't pick up my children, no one would, because there is no one else. As I mentioned before, I am here. By myself. Alone. The. Only. Parent. Left. Well, after my speech, she got even huffier and puffed out her chest and said, "Ma'm, what if their father. . ." Oh, well that set me off! So I gave her my dirtiest look and said in an extremely loud and firm voice so that everyone around could hear, "Their father is in AFGHANISTAN!!" That shut her up pretty much immediately and she slunk back to her computer. Nice employee issued my pass, and I thanked her and went and picked up the children who had a great flight and the flight attendants were very kind and took good care of them and fed them.

I realize that I could have been nicer, but I was running out of time after having stood in a long line full of cranky people and I'm sorry, but it was none of Miss Nosy's business. So I realize that I am part of the cause of Miss Nosy having a bad day, but honestly, it's really mostly her fault for being in infuriating, bossy pain in the neck and she is exactly the type of person who should not work at an airline counter.

So now all my children are under the same roof and I am much happier. And they even said they missed me, so that was the best thing of all. You'll have to excuse me now because I now need to go hug and kiss them until they yell "MOM! STOP IT!" I love it when they do that. :-)

Friday, August 10, 2012

Bad Day 31--Tomorrow is another day

This post is not for children. Especially not my children. So Child 2, stop reading right now because I know you didn't listen to the first part. That goes for you, too, Child 3. I mean it. Turn off the computer right now! I'm going to talk about mushy love stuff.

See what you did? You made me lie to my children.You may have noticed that I didn't include Child 1 in my instructions, but that is only because she never listens to me anyway and also she doesn't think she is a child. So Child 1, read ahead at your own peril and we can talk about this tomorrow when you come home.

I'm not really going to talk about mushy love stuff, but I really don't want my children reading the rest of this post (although I know you all still are anyway) because this post is going to talk about the elephant in the room. I know that you are thinking that I'm not a very serious person. This is only true most of the time. Some of the time, I am deadly serious. I am only frivolous and silly on the surface. Husband once accused me of not being very introspective. I'm still upset about this comment because it is completely untrue. I know it's untrue because I'm a worrier. I worry about everything--whether I locked the door when I left, if I'll remember to get gas on the way home, how the children will do in school this year, if The Dog is going to bite someone and I'll be blamed for it. Because everything is always my fault, I spend a lot of time thinking about how I can be more perfect so that bad things won't happen and it won't be my fault.

The problem is that bad things are happening and they aren't my fault and I can't do anything about them and I've discovered that it is awful worrying about things you can do nothing at all about. So I've decided to employ another stress management technique which I'm very fond of--The Scarlett O'Hara method of stress reduction which is basically to think about everything later. I can hear you scoffing at this method and mocking me for pretty much acting like an ostrich. But the joke's on you because this method works. Scarlett gets a lot of grief, but she had a rough life and she did everything she could to make sure that she and her family survived. She lost husband after husband and what is not shown in the movie is that she had a child by each of them and she was going to do everything in her power to make sure they didn't starve. She would pick herself up and get to work about the business of survival and think about the hard things later, all while managing to wear the most beautiful clothes. I don't know if she had a thing for purses, but that red dress she wore to Melanie's birthday party was amazing.

So I idolize Scarlett and I really need to channel her today because I know for certain that there is someone very much like me out there and she is having a much, much worse day than me. It is probably the worst day of her life so far and it probably won't be better for a long time. I can only imagine how awful it is to lose your husband and be left with putting the pieces of your family back together. But I can imagine it, and I do so frighteningly often. Here she was just like me, perhaps writing in a blog about how difficult the children are and how she doesn't like her dog and how much she misses her husband and then, she gets the news that her life will be just like that forever and she will miss her husband for the rest of her life because he is gone. Someone took him away from her and there is nothing she can do to get him back. I think about this and I think about how grateful I am that it was not my husband, and then I think how small minded it would seem to her if she knew that I thought that. So there you are. She is facing the worst, and she is probably much better at it than me. I'll think about that tomorrow while I'm shopping for a red dress, or maybe another purse.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Bad Day 30--Breathe, just breathe

I can't believe it's been about a month since Husband left. Well, actually I can. It feels much more like months and months, so what I mean is that I can't believe I've survived a whole month. I did not cry today. I really, really wanted to, but I had to hold it together to give a presentation and attend a bunch of meetings. So I white knuckled it and managed to get through everything by telling myself that I could fall apart later. And then later came, and I was OK, which totally shocked me.

It helps that Husband is coming home next week and that he arrives on our anniversary. I won't say which number it is, but it's a big one and I have been working hard to figure out what to get him. For the very first time ever, I have present anxiety. He, perhaps having been embarrassed by all the mentions of jewelry on my blog and facebook page, has actually already bought me something which arrived today and which I very righteously did not open. That is a big deal for me because once I opened my Christmas presents on December 23rd because I couldn't wait any longer and I always read the end of the book first to see if I'm going to like it. So not opening the present which is just sitting here on Husband's dresser taunting me is a big big deal, and since I told him I wouldn't, I won't open it until he comes home. On our anniversary. Which would be present enough. (So maybe I could just take a peek? But no, that would be wrong.)

But anyway, I have been planning his present for months, but it has been much more difficult to put together than I imagined so we'll see if it's all done in time and I'm afraid he'll be disappointed and he'll think I just did it at the last minute, which I didn't. So we'll see.

This woman in China had a way, way worse day than me. Check out this picture of what was living in her ear. But I warn you, it will give you the willies!

Yes, that's right. She had a spider. In her ear. Living there. For five days! I'm shivering just thinking about it and am very, very grateful that Husband has snored most of our married life so that I now always sleep with earplugs because I never, ever, ever, ever want a spider in my ear! Excuse me while I go flush mine out with saline.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Bad Day 29--Good friends, great food, good day, but still bad

Today wasn't bad. It was pretty good in fact, and if it weren't for the whole Afghanistan thing, it would have been great. A woman today whom I really admire and want to be like told me I was remarkably calm. That made me happy, but to be fair, she hasn't seen the sobbing, so she doesn't have the whole picture.

Then my friends invited me over to dinner and cooked great food and entertained me with stories and their kids sat in my lap and hugged me and told me my earrings were pretty. So that was great, too. The problem is, there is this whole undercurrent of loss and longing and stress and fear. It keeps me from completely letting go and enjoying myself. But it's getting better, so maybe at some point I will get used to the whole separation thing. but in a way, that thought makes me sad because then Husband being in Afghanistan will just be normal and I don't want this to be normal. I want it to be temporary.

But anyway, I had great food tonight and I didn't have to buy or cook it and it was especially welcome because when I came home today, the electricity was out. This should not be a big deal, you are thinking, especially for someone who has lived in China and Korea where the electricity went out all the time. Once in Korea, it went out for 4 days in a row after a typhoon dropped a 50 ft. tree on our house. and we moved into a hotel until it came back on. But that was before last month and the Great Derecho. For those of you who don't know, a derecho is a storm that moves fast, like a hurricane but starts on land and knocks down all the trees in its path and if you live in Tree City, USA, then it also knocks down all the power lines and you have no power and you can't buy gasoline and you can't drive to New York which is what you were planning to do until all the trees fell down and trapped you. And so now, the power going out makes me panic a little bit, but fortunately, it was on when I came home from dinner with my friends.

There are all kinds of things you can do without electricity. You can grill in the backyard. You can play games by candlelight. You can have a dinner that is entirely made of meat from your freezer, and frozen fruit. Your children can light every candle in the house and then you can yell at them that 20 candles on the floor is a fire hazard and do they want to kill you all? These things are fun to do for approximately 6 hours, and then the whining starts. And when it is 105 outside BEFORE the heat index and you have no air-conditioning and you are all stuck in the same room of the house trying to keep cool and wishing you were in New York, then they are fun for about 10 minutes. So you can see why not having electricity when I came home was disconcerting and plus, how would I Skype with Husband without electricity. I felt like calling the power company and saying that they had better fix my power pretty quick or I would ship them all to Afghanistan, but I didn't. I was polite and they delivered. For once.

Randy Travis is having a worse day than me and I am very angry with him for it. He had one of the best voices in country music ever and his version of King of the Road is one of my favorites. But he decided to drive drunk and naked in Texas and he got caught. Dumb, dumb, dumb. I have no patience with drunk drivers so a big raspberry to you, Randy! May everyone look at your mug shot and be glad they aren't that stupid.

This photo provided by the Grayson County, Texas, Sheriff’s Office shows Country singer Randy Travis who has been charged with driving while intoxicated. Authorities say Travis was being jailed without bond Wednesday, Aug. 8, 2012, pending an appearance before a judge in Sherman, Texas, about 60 miles north of Dallas. (AP Photo/Grayson County Sheriff's Office)

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Bad Day 28--It's not a lie if you believe it

OK. So I'm not exactly 35. But that's how old people think I am when they guess, so I'm going with that. I used to only admit to 29, but now that Child 1 is a junior in high school, she thinks that's a little too young, so I'm going with 35. Listen, youth is fleeting and beauty is only skin deep, but a good moisturizer will allow you to live a lie for a long, long time. Plus, in my head I stopped aging at 35, so it's all OK.

It used to bother me greatly that people thought I was younger than I am. When I was 18 and I was handed a kids' menu at a restaurant, I would seethe with indignation. So I started wearing lots of make-up and very high heels, which I just can't be bothered to do anymore now that no one would ever think I'm a child. My mother always said I would be happy when I was older, but I never believed her because who believes their mother ever? Certainly not my children. Like when I tell Child 1 that she is movie beautiful she doesn't believe me even though her whole life people have asked me to let her model and I did when she was little but I would never let her now because modeling is icky. Child 2 believes everything I say, but she tunes me out with headphones most of the time so I'm not sure that counts. And Child 3 is still in the phase where she thinks she can conquer the world and I so don't ever want her to grow out of it and I keep telling her to stop growing and she doesn't listen to me!

As much as I hate to admit it, my mother was right and I love it when I tell people to guess my age and they are completely wrong, but in a good way. When Child 1 was small, she used to ask how old I was and I would tell her to guess and she would say "16!" And I would say "you're right!" And she would run away very proud of herself and I would smile loving the fact that she thought 16 was old, and boy what did she know about old! So for years she totally had no idea how old I was. Then years later, when she could count, she figured it out and told Child 2 who said "No she's not! She's 29 cuz she told me!" See? I told you Child 2 believes everything I say! Bless that Child 2.

Today, I found out that Husband is definitely coming home next week for his first R&R. I know. You are thinking that it is a little soon. And you may be right, but I don't care what you think. You know when is not too soon to come home? 28 days ago, that's when! And the reason I know he is definitely coming home is because I made his flight reservations. See, he couldn't get his travel office in Kabul to pay any attention to his reservations and they kept telling him it would be difficult to find a flight and then they kept not finding any. So I said, I'll fix that. And I marched right down to the travel office and they found a flight in like 5 minutes so I had them reserve it for him and now he is coming home to me. And I can't wait. I'm like a kid the week before Christmas or a Senior the week before graduation. I can't think about anything else and I can't get any work done. So tomorrow I'll have to buckle down and do some. OK, that's not technically true. I actually accomplished a lot at work today, but I did occasionally daydream and it made me happy.

So today, the UK immigration officers who gave visas to the Cameroonian Olympians are having a worse day than me.

I can testify that there is nothing a visa officer dislikes more than to learn that someone they gave a temporary visa to has lied to them and claimed asylum or is just working illegally. I could tell you stories from my time in China that would make you comb the streets of Texas looking for illegal Chinese aliens that I issued visas to in good faith. Or, at least that is what it made my Dad do. Except that I actually asked him to do that and he sent me lots of good evidence and I revoked that visa! So to the UK visa officers in Cameroon, I am very sorry for your bad day and I am SO glad it was not me that issued those Olympic visa jumpers.