Thursday, January 31, 2013

Bad Day 205--The whirlwind

I was incredibly productive today, despite the fact that I got 2 hours of sleep last night. Child 3 was sick and said her tummy hurt so I let her stay home from school. I went to my incredibly boring meeting for 3 1/2 hours and then I went home to take care of her. She mostly slept and I washed the dishes, and then washed all the pans by hand and the crock pot and did two loads of laundry and paid a bunch of bills and did the grocery shopping and made the most delicious pasta for dinner and got the children to  study and take out the trash and help with dinner and unload the dishwasher and I took a nap. Oh, and I also chatted with Husband on the phone and cheered him up. I was a whirlwind of activity and I did it all in a 1/2 day. I am duly impressed with myself and if I could reward myself with chocolate and wheat, this is what I would eat.

But since I can't ever have a brownie again for the rest of my life, I had to settle for a second helping of the amazing gluten-free pasta dish that I made up all on my own. OK, I copied the dish a friend brought over when I wasn't feeling well, but I'm very proud of myself because it was delicious and it got two thumbs up from the children. The Dog would have eaten it, too, if we had let her. As it was, she settled for Child 2's giant chocolate kiss which thankfully she only had a few licks of before it was discovered because all I need to complete my life is a sick dog.

I am stressed now after talking to other moms whose husbands are in Afghanistan that I have not yet hit the 1/2 tour slump. Apparently, most spouses whose husbands leave them for Afghanistan get depressed around month six because they realize they're only halfway done and it feels like what's left will take forever. and I totally don't feel that way. At all. Mostly because I have been depressed from the beginning and have hated every minute of it and it's already taken forever so now that we're on the down slope, I'm actually feeling more optimistic. I guess if you're in a slump from the very first day there is nowhere to go but up.

This Applebee's waitress in St. Louis is having a worse day than me. Her fellow server was stiffed on the mandatory service charge and tip by Alois Bell who claims she is a Christian pastor and she already gives 10% to God, so why should she pay a tip? More on that later. Here is a copy of the bill that the waitress (who wasn't the one stiffed) posted for her friend on Reddit.

So Pastor Bell was mortified that her nasty little note went viral and was angry enough that she called the Applebee's manager to complain and the manager fired the waitress who posted the evidence of Bell's lack of Christian charity. So to the waitress, I am so sorry that your manager was a coward. Come to work at the Applebee's near me and I will eat in your section on purpose in order to give you a big tip.

To the manager of Applebee's in St. Louis, you are a cowardly jerk and you should be fired yourself. I hope all of your staff quits and you are forced to wait all the tables yourself and no one tips you.

And to Pastor Bell, the reason you give God 10% is because He gave you everything and 10% isn't much to ask in return. God does not work for less than minimum wage and doesn't really need your money, but the waitress does. Christian charity should demand that you are more giving, not less, and if you can't afford to tip at a restaurant on a $35 bill, then next time eat at McDonald's. You should be ashamed and I hope this experience helps you repent, although making restitution to the poor girl who got fired for defending her friend is going to be tough. Good luck. God will be watching, so you better not stiff Him on the 10% either.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Bad Day 204--I am a billionaire in Vietnam

Today was a mix of good and bad, so I guess it was just a normal day like everyone else has whose husbands are not in Afghanistan, which is nice for a change. I'll give you the rundown.

Good--I left five minutes late but still made it to work 5 minutes early.

Bad--I didn't finish writing the paper I wanted to finish writing.

Good--One of the children brought in the trash cans from the curb so I didn't have to.

Bad--That same child didn't walk The Dog for long enough so she (The Dog, not the child) peed and pooped in my bathroom. Someone asked me today why I just didn't close and lock the door, but if you remember, The Dog (who is too dumb to not to know that when I am holding her by the leash and ringing the doorbell from outside the house it doesn't mean that some evil stranger is trying to break in,) has figured out how to open my bedroom door when it is locked.

Good--I went to a meeting for spouses of people on Unaccompanied Tours (which is what they call it when your husband leaves you for Afghanistan) and saw some old friends and made some new ones.

Bad--The Director General of the Foreign Service told me there was nothing the Department could do about the fact that I am using up all my leave taking care of my family while Husband is accruing like there is no tomorrow and cannot donate any of it to me. Guess who is going to all the orthodontist appointments next year? And all the parent teacher conferences, and everything else.

Good--Three people complimented me on my extremely stylish shoes.

Bad--I slammed my thumb in the door and it hurts.

Worse--I was wearing navy blue nylons with black pants the entire day and didn't even notice until I was at said meeting with the DG and I could see them in the light. Obviously, my bedroom and office lights are too dim. To everyone who was at the meeting, I apologize for my horrible sock violation.

The best part of the day, though, was talking with Husband on the phone during which conversation I said something that made him laugh for at least 5 minutes which was, "Even if the glass is half-empty, it still has water in it." See why he was laughing? For a minute there, I was an optimist and he was so surprised, he almost choked. He said that was the most optimistic thing I have ever said to him and I said no, that would have been yes, I will marry you. Then he was upset because he thought that was bad, but what he forgot was that he didn't actually mean to propose when he did. He opened his mouth to say something else which was probably going to be "pass me the remote" and he looked at me and was so in love that out came "will you marry me." Well, knowing that might be my only chance and being optimistic that he actually meant it, I said yes. Because who wouldn't want a man who was so overcome with love for you that he just couldn't hold back asking you to marry him? And also who chose you over the TV remote?

This thief in Louisiana is having a worse day than me. See if you can figure out why.


 Alleged Bucket-Wearing Burglar Caught by Police

Yes, that is an actual bucket on his head. You see, he went to rob the seafood restaurant where he had previously worked, but forgot a mask so he grabbed this bucket and put it on his head. The only problem was, he couldn't really see so he kept lifting up the bucket to peek and he must have forgotten that the restaurant had security cameras because they caught it all on tape and the police arrested him a short time later. So thank you, Mr. Buckethead, for reminding everyone on the internet how ridiculous it is to think you can see through a bucket and also to be grateful for my fabulous job. Even though I have no vacation days left, I still love what I do and it pays more than robbing seafood restaurants does. (See, Husband? Glass is not completely empty yet.) And thank you to "Sherry" who suggested this story. Brilliant.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Bad Day 203--The fear

Today I wore a skirt to work that I now realize needs to be altered or cinched in with binder clips. It is a very pretty plaid boucle skirt that is rather light weight for being a winter skirt. And it's kind of loose now although it was a form-fitting pencil skirt when I bought it. What happened is that I was wearing tights and I couldn't feel the skirt and I spent the whole day in fear that it had fallen down and I didn't notice it so I kept touching it to see if it was still there. Thank goodness it was, although it's so loose that I'm convinced that one strong cough and it will be around my ankles. I really need to find a tailor. Or more office supplies. Either one. The skirt looks a little like this, only I happen to wear mine with a shirt. Honestly, just who do they think is buying a plaid boucle skirt and why on earth would anyone show their bellybutton while wearing one? This is not the 1990s nor would anyone on Beverly Hills 90210 have worn this skirt.

Today was a much longer day at work and I bounced from meeting to meeting to meeting. Sometimes, I think there is nothing that diplomats love more than a long boring meeting at which nothing is accomplished and is only an excuse for people to show how busy they are. But I dutifully went to all of them and I was exhausted afterward because nothing is more tiring than trying to stay awake when you are bored to death. Only the thought of my skirt falling down kept me alert. I was so tired after my exhausting day of meetings and skirt checking that I made Child 1 drive to Cafe Rio to pick up our dinner. I keep getting sick when we eat there, so tonight I am trying a cheese-only enchilada because they say that their chicken is not gluten-free. We'll see. For lunch today, I had pho which I found out you can get in the Department cafeteria and the noodles are made from rice! Also, when I picked up the "soy sauce" packet and I read the ingredients, I was delighted to discover it has no wheat in it. Also no soy. It is basically saltwater with food coloring, but OK! That means that sushi is also now not out of the question. I like some sushi, but I can't eat it without soy sauce and I'm too embarrassed to bring my own bottle so yippee for the fake soy sauce packets!

Speaking of Japanese food, the patrons at this restaurant in Tokyo are all having a worse day than me. It is supposed to be a French restaurant, but no decent French chef that I have ever known (and I've actually known a couple) would ever serve dirt. Yes. Dirt. The kind your plants grow in and you have to dig out of your toddler's mouth. They have a $110 menu where you get six courses of food made with dirt including dirt ice cream. It might look like chocolate, but it is not chocolate.

So thank you, fake Japanese French chef, for reminding me to go back to that great French place in Georgetown to have steak et frites with Bearnaise sauce (which doesn't contain wheat or dirt) and to be grateful that none of my children ever tried to serve me a mud pie and that the only dirt they ever really ate was crumbled oreo cookies on top of chocolate pudding. With gummy worms. That is my kind of dirt. I miss chocolate pudding. Sigh.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Bad Day 202--Ice is my best friend

Every day when I come home Child 2 asks me how my day at work was and pretty much every day I say it was long. Partly because I don't talk about my work and partly because that is how I feel about my days since Husband left for Afghanistan. But today she asked me how it was and I said "short!" because it was super short and that was fabulous. We had freezing rain arrive just in time for the morning commute so government was closed until 12 pm and we were told to stay off the roads until at least 10am so I did. I slept in and woke up at 8 when Husband called and I got to work at 11 and then I left at 3 because Child 1 and Child 2 had an orthodontist appointment. So a 4 hour work day is not bad at all. Thankfully, my car was in the garage so I didn't have to scrape the mirrors at all.

I had 15 minutes between when I got home and when I had to leave for the orthodontist so I quickly did some dishes and threw potatoes in the oven so that we could have baked potatoes for dinner because they are very popular with the children and I am tired of the whining about the new foods, although yesterday I made pork chops which I used to make all the time and had forgotten about and they swore I had never made them before and they completely had forgotten when we ate them all the time in China because pork was easy to find (although now I realize it was probably full of poison.) And they liked them! So pork chops will be on the menu again soon.

I talked to Sister 1 today and she is definitely having a worse day than me. I think I have the story right, but Nieces 1 & 2 and Nephew 1, feel free to comment and correct me if I got it wrong. A few weeks ago, their dishwasher broke and flooded the kitchen and they had to replace their kitchen floor and the ceiling to the laundry room which is directly below it. Oh, and they got a new dishwasher, too. It took a while for the floor to be put in. The new floor was a beautiful hardwood and looked like this.

Photo: New floors!

I think they finished it Saturday because Sister 1 said it was the prettiest floor in the whole city for a day. And then, the hot water intake pipe to their dishwasher broke and flooded their new floor and ceiling and dripped into the carpet on the first floor. So now, their new ceiling looks like this.

Photo: Say hello to our new laundry room ceiling. Its been an awesome weekend of water damage. #nofilter

Yep. The whole thing had to be ripped out. I am so sad for Sister 1 because it's much more than just a floor. It's also the disruption and that you can't use the kitchen and you have to move everything out and now the carpet padding has to be replaced, too and it was all the fault of the brand new dishwasher. So aggravating! So thank you, Sister 1, for sharing your pain with me and reminding me to be grateful that my dishwasher is on the 1st floor and our kitchen has tile floors and the last time we had a flood, I had a team of Chinese maintenance men who came at 5 in the morning and fixed the broken pipe and mopped everything up and then fixed the floors and re-painted. Sometimes, owning your own home is nice, but not when you have to fix everything yourself. So hang in there until next month when you come and visit me and we will shop all our troubles away.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Bad Day 201--The evidence

The problem with having smart children is that they remember things and the problem with blogging daily is that they have evidence to back them up. Child 1 told me that I wrote something in my blog and there it was in black and white and I can't take it back, but I can change my mind, so just because I said it doesn't mean that I really meant it (to paraphrase Adele.)

Tonight, Child 1 diligently studied Algebra while Child 2, Child 3 and I went to a pot luck with friends in the Foreign Service. This time we invited a couple of people who weren't foreign service and they were astonished at the quality of food at the pot luck. And I have to say, when the foreign service does a pot luck, they do it right and there is usually a ton of delicious and relatively healthy food. One of the uninitiated said "I've never seen chicken curry at a pot luck before!" The first time I ever went to a pot luck overseas I made the mistake of bringing jell-o. I never made that mistake again although a couple of times I have done it on purpose to make sure there is something that children will like. I actually overheard someone say that they didn't know anyone actually ate jell-o and they always thought it was a kind of joke. I happen to like jell-o, especially now that most desserts are off limits to me, and I fully intend to keep making it, but not to take to pot lucks anymore.

This time I brought my favorite salad with pears and cranberries and poppy seed dressing. Tonight I made it with goat cheese instead of blue cheese and I think I like that even better. But the problem with pot lucks now is that I can't eat anything so they are not nearly as fun, although the company was great and it's nice to be in a room of people who know how hard it is to move teenagers from one place to another and who can feel my pain about bidding. (Btw, in case you were wondering, Husband still does not have an onward assignment. So much for equity coming out of a PRT. Honestly!) And also, I can say things like FPU, or EUR, or INL, or EAP, or PPT and people know what I'm talking about. Also, AIP and PRT which have become very important acronyms in my life although I never wanted them to (AIP=Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan. PRT=Provincial Reconstruction Team. You'll just have to guess about the rest because I'm too tired to explain.)

We are now watching Star Trek V and Child 1 is debating about whether someone is Romulan or Vulcan and I couldn't be prouder. Also, she fed me a white chocolate Magnum bar which is probably the most delicious thing I am allowed to eat. Yum.

This news crew in Florida is having a worse day than me. They launched a camera drone to film the demolition of a local building when something went wrong with it, so the cameraman brought the drone down to inspect it and discovered that it was being attacked by a huge swarm of bees.

I honestly can't imagine anything more scary. I hate bees. I'm allergic to them and I live in terror of being stung. Child 3 got stung nine times once by yellow-jackets and I ran into the swarm to save her and I didn't get stung once, which was a miracle. I was certain either she or I would die, but she was fine about an hour later and I thought, oh, that's what it's like for someone who isn't allergic! But anyway, the news crew escaped most of the stings by diving into their van and SUV, although apparently some of the bees followed them into the car. So thank you, CBS12 news team, for making me grateful that it is winter where I am and the bees are all sleeping. There is a nest outside the Children's windows, but I am not going to do anything about it until the weather is warmer and then I will hire someone to remove it so I can stay safely inside the house. Away from the bees. Of any kind. Excuse me while I go shiver with the willies.

Bad Day 200--Less Miserable

I am blogging after midnight because we went to see Les Miserables again and it is one very loooong movie, not that we didn't enjoy every minute of it. Except Child 3 says the beginning is a little boring, but you have to get to the part where the Bishop saves Jean Valjean's soul for God. That is my favorite part of the entire movie. Child 2 stayed home because she values alone time on the Wii and computer, but Child 1 and Child 3 went with me because they know, as I do, that "On My Own" is the best song about unrequited love ever written and if you disagree with me, I will fight you.

Artemis and Adonis were supposed to go with us, but Artemis caught that nasty cold that is going around and couldn't get out of bed. I hope Adonis made her lots of chicken soup. I know she didn't catch it from me because I haven't seen her in a week. But Les Miz will still be around when she's feeling better and we'll go again and Child 1 will sing the entire time because she knows all the words and I love that she knows them. I literally wore out my cassette of the Broadway version because I played it so often. Javert sounds a little drunk when the tape gets stretched out and that is almost better. Maybe he would have been more likable if he were more like Captain Jack Sparrow. Now there's a thought! Captain Jack vs. Javert! Who would win?

My money's on Jack. He's just more clever, and way hotter.

Today, Husband's colleague who has been medevaced and is on his way home is having a worse day than me. Being a federal employee and getting injured in Afghanistan is no laughing matter. Luckily, in this case, he was injured with an arrow and while he was close to death because it nicked his femoral artery, thankfully the surgical team was able to re-graft another artery and save both his life and his leg. So here's to you, Colleague. I hope you heal quickly and have a safe journey home. And thank you for reminding me to be grateful that Husband does not own a bow and arrow and will not any time in the near future. But really, I hope you heal quickly and well and enjoy your time with your family. They will certainly be very glad to have you home and feel lucky that you are still in one piece. Next time, could you injure Husband, too? Just shoot him in the foot. That ought to be good enough to get him sent home a little early. Plus then he could walk with a cane and look all jaunty.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Bad Day 199--What a cheater!

Husband is a big fat cheater. Not that kind of cheater, but the kind that pretends the score is in his favor when it's really not. He wrote me that we only had 20 weeks left and then I got all excited and thought 20 weeks is only 5 months! And then I thought, wait. So I got out the calendar and my copy of tour tracker which is a nifty excel program that counts down how many days you have left in your tour. I use it for husband's tour, not mine because I love my job and I can't bear the thought of leaving it which I will have to do in 6 months. In Seoul I looked at it almost daily and would sometimes hold down the button that counts down the seconds but since I got into my current assignment I haven't looked at it once. Anyway, tour tracker says that we have 24 weeks, not 20. Husband was miscounting on purpose and not including the weeks when he will be on R&R. He says they don't count if we're together which is totally not true.

I am still feeling sick and it is snowing and I made chili for dinner and now I'm watching Sliding Doors to make myself feel better but it's not working.

Gwyneth Paltrow is great, but I really wanted to watch Dirty Rotten Scoundrels only I can't find it anywhere. Not Apple, not Netflix, not Amazon, which is a shame because it is a very, very funny movie and I was looking forward to hearing the children shout "Oklahoma, Oklahoma!" But it's not to be, so I'm watching people miss trains and kiss on boats instead and it's not quite cheering me up because now I miss Husband even more.

Pretty much everyone in South Africa and Botswana and Zimbabwe are having a worse day than me because 10,000 crocodiles have escaped from a farm and are roaming around in the rivers and eating things. They've caught thousands, but there are still thousands more on the loose. Here is a picture of just a few of the ones they've caught.

This photo taken Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2013 shows some of the recaptured crocodiles  back safely on the farm they escaped from, at Pontdrif, South Africa, near the Botswana border. About 7,000 of the creatures escaped when the gates on a dam were opened this week to alleviate pressure created by rising flood waters. About 2,000 had been recaptured Friday, Jan. 25, 2013. Video from the scene shows people hunting down the small-ish crocs at night, tying them up and taking them back to the Rakwena Crocodile Farm, in northern South Africa. The farm, which didn't respond to an email or calls seeking comment, used to hold 15,000 crocodiles (AP Photo) SOUTH AFRICA OUT

So thank you, crocodile hunters, for making me grateful that I don't live on a river full of crocodiles. Also, they wouldn't like the snow very much. Now I have to go and watch Gwyneth Paltrow dump her icky boyfriend in the movie.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Bad Day 198--Achoo!

I have caught a cold. Child 3's cold to be exact. I washed my hands diligently for days but that apparently did not work and also the not being able to sleep did not help. So this will be a short post so I can go to bed.

To all the children out there who read this blog, here are some surefire ways to annoy your parents who have been nice enough to take you out to dinner at a restaurant to make up for the fact that they missed your play because it was at 1 pm in the middle of a work day.

  1. Poke each other loudly and often when you first sit down.
  2. Make loud humpback whale sounds while you are waiting for the food.
  3. Complain about being given the kids' menu when you're not under 12. Over and over again. And again. Oh, and again.
  4. Talk about how much you love the New England Patriots who are not the Dallas Cowboys, will never be the Dallas Cowboys and to whom you have no connection having never been to New England. And your mother, btw, is from Dallas. Texas. And is a Cowboys fan just in case you didn't catch that.

Alright, number 2 was kind of funny but the poking and the whining were not. And don't get me started on the Patriots.

This boy in Spain is having a worse day than me. He has apparently been doing pretty poorly in school and his teacher called his parents in for a conference. Instead of facing up to the trouble, he did what any 11 year old child of a policeman would do and faked his own kidnapping. He sent his parents a text saying he was in the trunk of a car. However, his policeman father noticed that the keys to a spare apartment they owned were missing and they discovered the boy there who fessed up to the whole thing. And his parents still went to talk to the teacher and I'm pretty sure there was more punishment besides just that. So thank you, Spanish 5th grader, for reminding me to be grateful that no teacher will ever call my parents and get me in trouble ever again. I went through my share of that and now it's my turn to get the phone calls from teachers. I promise, children, I will never yell at you when your teacher calls. But if you fake your own kidnapping, there will be lots, and lots of yelling.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Bad Day 197--Me + wheat = purple

Today was a good day that went rapidly downhill after lunch. I got to work on time even though the trains were running really late. I was on a roll in the morning and got about 1/3 of the way through the paper I'm working on. Then at lunch, our former CG from Shanghai sat with me and complimented me on my necklace which is the same one that Rosalynn Carter said she liked when she saw me wearing it.

(I love a First Lady with good fashion sense! And also she put her arm around me when we took a picture.) So I told her about Rosalynn Carter and the CG he said Jimmy Carter told her he liked her jacket and she told him it was from a thrift store. She told her husband isn't that just like Jimmy Carter to like something from a thrift store. He replied isn't that just like you to tell him it's from a thrift store. I like our former CG a lot. And her husband, too.

I had a thought as I was eating lunch that the rice with my kebab was way too delicious by itself and it just might have had pasta in it. But it had a lot of sauce on it and it was hard to tell and I thought, nah. So I ate it anyway. And then an hour later the pain started. And then by 3 pm I was sobbing at my desk uncontrollably and then I thought, maybe my purple days were partly because of my reaction to wheat because there have been a lot fewer of them since I stopped eating it. So now, I'm curious. I still feel down, but I had a milkshake for dinner and I'm going to bed early and hopefully, tomorrow when I am really scrupulous about eating only gluten-free things I will have a better day. Also, Husband could call me and tell me he's got tickets for Spring Break and that would help, too. And the children could all do their homework and finish the dishes, and then again I could also win the lottery without ever having purchased a ticket. A girl can dream, though.

Brunost lovers in Norway are having a worse day than me.

Brunost cheese

For those of you who have never lived in Norway, brunost is a kind of goat cheese that turns brown when it is aged and looks like caramel, tastes tangy and has the consistency of waxy cheddar. It is not my favorite cheese and I wasn't so fond of it in Norway that I've ever purchased it since. Also, I've never seen it in America. But it is extremely popular in Norway and people love it and also apparently it burns really, really well. So well, in fact, that a truck transporting a cargo full of it caught fire in a tunnel and the fire burned for six days. The tunnel will be closed for weeks, which is not a good thing for a very mountainous country with few roads and lots and lots of snow. So thank you, Norwegian cheese heads, for reminding me to be grateful that I'm not waiting around for my shipment of brunost that has burned up on the highway and to be thankful that my caramel milkshake was a lot more delicious than a brunost open-faced sandwich with jam which I was served a lot of in Norway and now I wonder if one of the reasons my hair turned brown and then fell out is because all the time I was eating a ton of wheat. And chocolate. Man, I miss Norwegian chocolate!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Bad Day 196--Bring out the ugly!

Today was cold. Bitter cold. Wind chill -5 F cold. So it was time to dig out my ugly coat. I know, you are thinking, how ugly could this coat be? Well let me tell you, it is bag lady ugly. It was one of those coats that look good online and it's color was misleadingly labeled "mushroom" but when it arrived in the mail, I discovered that "mushroom" was a euphemism for "this coat is the color of dirt." These mushrooms would have made a much more attractive coat.

The problem was, I bought it when I was living in China and it was too much trouble to send it back and it also happened to arrive during a freezing cold spell when I broke my ankle by slipping on black ice. So the coat is mine to keep and I wear it only when I really have to because it is so ugly but it is as warm as a fire. I'm not kidding. This coat would melt a snowman in below zero weather. It is rated by its manufacturer to -20 Fahrenheit and I will take their word for it because if it is ever that cold, I am not going outside. But today, I was warm everywhere my coat was and cold everywhere it wasn't. Luckily, or perhaps strategically, it is a very long coat because one thing I learned from living in Norway is that the longer the coat, the warmer you stay. So with my velvet blazer (which I must admit was made by a British designer because they do know their blazers) and my jaunty brown herringbone hat that Sis-in-law 3 gave me and my chocolate fake-pashmina shawl which is probably polyester because I bought it in China, I was at least fashionable everywhere else but my coat. Tomorrow, I am breaking out the flannel skirt and another blazer and some wool tights because it is supposed to be equally as cold. I hate cold weather. I'm so ready for winter to be over and next time I bid it will be on tropical posts because I hate that coat.

A couple of good things happened today. First, a friend at work who doesn't really know my children said that I was a good mother. I told her she thought that because I was good at faking it when the children weren't around. She said, "you can't really fake warmth." She is a very nice person and good for my ego. And then, when I came home and said I wasn't feeling well, Child 3 gave me a hug and Child 2 said is it a purple day or a sick day and when I said a sick day she said that was good, not good good but she was happy it wasn't purple. And Child 1 made us all laugh at dinner by ranting about that Train Wreck TV show which she hates but we can't stop watching. I love my children. They so know how to cheer me up.

So milk for dinner and now bed because the nausea is back and the room is spinning a little. I'm wearing Husband's turtleneck because our room is really cold and also it smells like him. And I am going to bed early with the knowledge that this woman in St. George, Utah is having a worse day than me. See if you can guess why.

Yes, that is a boulder and that is her bed it landed on, and yes, she was in it at the time. Thankfully, she only broke her jaw and sternum, although that should be bad enough, but it could have killed her. I don't know what she did to anger the boulder but it seriously looks as if it was out to get her. So thank you, Mrs. Rock Magnet, for reminding me to be grateful we are on the top of a hill and there are no boulders in sight. Also, my bedroom is on the second floor, so it would be really hard to crash into it, unless you're in a plane or helicopter. Great. Something else to worry about.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Bad Day 195--Road Trip!

I had the day off thanks to the hard work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. We decided not to brave the crowds or weather to go downtown to the inauguration. And the girls decided that the thing they want to do most in the world was to drive for 30 minutes to go to their favorite restaurant in the world which is the Cracker Barrel.

I think it's their favorite because not only is it down home American cooking which to them is quite exotic, but it also has a store that sells root beer barrels which are necessary to our well-being. It was a fun trip and Child 2 said her chicken-fried steak was the best lunch ever and Child 1 ate every bite of her chicken and dumplings which looked delicious and we have vowed to find a way to make gluten-free dumplings. Child 3 says she might put that on the menu for our restaurant that we are going to own together somewhere tropical on a beach like maybe Guam and it will be called Mom & Liv's and apparently she will be in charge of the menu and I will do most of the cooking. I'm totally up for living in Guam, but I'm not so sure about a restaurant. But on the menu so far is Chicken a la King, gluten-free pizza (which we made for dinner today and was very yummy) and Bulgogi. Eclectic, I know, but it might just work in Guam.

We also went and bought some basketballs. I'm not sure if I mentioned that I went to watch Child 1 and Child 2 play basketball on Saturday and I realized right away that something must be done. So we're going to start with dribbling and how to lean in with your shoulder before you dribble around someone. We don't really have a basket to practice with, but we have plenty of space for dribbling. I am guilty of shameful neglect regarding their basketball skills, but that will all change now that we have some basketballs.

The American ambassador to Zimbabwe is having a worse day than me. My friend Bobbi alerted me to this story that our mutual friend "Janey" witnessed in person.

Wharton had to make a hasty retreat after Sheila confronted him in her undergarments

Apparently, the woman is an activist and the way she gains attention is by stripping down and confronting people in her underwear. In this case, she was upset about American sanctions, and she certainly got people's attention, however, the ambassador left in a hurry and I don't blame him one bit. So thank you, Mr. Ambassador, for reminding me to be grateful that my job keeps me behind the scenes where I am very happy to be. Although I am really jealous that you are in Africa because I so want to go there someday where my friend Sadie says the safaris are really very safe and it's extremely unusual to be gored by a rhino.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Bad Day 194--Choco Pies!

We had Korean food for dinner. We made it ourselves with gluten-free soy sauce. The children are very fond of Koran food and I am fond of some of it, so we made bulgogi, which when I loived in Korea the first time was spelled "pulkogi" and literally means "fire meat" but isn't spicy and is called that because you are supposed to cook it over a fire, but we only have a gas stove so we stir fried it. It was still really good, and the zucchini fritters that Child 1 made were even better.

Today was actually a pretty good day. The well-meaning people mostly left me alone at church and they were replaced by people who actually meant me well. They were kind, and considerate and funny. One friend found some candy without gluten and brought it for me to try. She's also experimenting with wheat-free sourdough starters which is amazing to me that she would go to all that trouble. And I haven't started sobbing for no reason in weeks, so I think I've finally reached some sort of equilibrium. Of course, that means that something horrible will happen now because that is the kind of luck I have.

We're watching Star Trek III: The Search for Spock. I told the children that only the even movies were good, but they insisted, so we're watching and Child 3 is completely confused and I don't blame her. Also, the fight scenes are horrible. It's very old school and in slow motion and the graphics are the worst ever, but it's Star Trek so we are still watching. After this is over, I'll need to watch something else to recover because I just can't take any more of this awful movie. Child 1 is now angry at me for insulting Star Trek. OK, and I admit that when Spock remembers Jim, that is a pretty happy scene. (Oh, spoiler alert!)

This kindergartner in Pennsylvania is having a worse day than me. She was suspended for 10 days for making terrorist threats against her class by suggesting that they shoot each other with this weapon:

Kindergartner Suspended Over Bubble Gun Threat (ABC News)

Yes. You got that right. She was suspended for threats she made regarding shooting bubbles with a Hello Kitty bubble gun that she didn't even have in her possession at the time. I am really confused as to why the school thought that bubbles were threatening, unless they have some fear of soap in which case I would not want to attend that school. The family is fighting to get the suspension removed from their daughter's record because really, who wants a "terrorist threat" they made in kindergarten to follow them around for the rest of their lives. And also, bubbles aren't threatening! So thank you, sweet kindergartner  for reminding me how much I loved blowing bubbles with my children when they were your age. Little girl giggles and tiny fingers trying to catch bubbles are some of my favorite memories. And if you ever visit my town, I would be happy to have a bubble fight with you and I won't be afraid at at all. The Dog doesn't like Hello Kitty, though, so we'll have to get new ones. Maybe they make Star Trek bubble guns that look like phasers. Now that would be cool!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Bad Day 193--Bless my beautiful hide

I am having movie night by myself. I am supposed to be watching a movie with the children, but they are upstairs playing on the Wii completely oblivious to the fact that they ditched me for Go Vacation or whatever it's called. So I'm watching Seven Brides for Seven Brothers all alone. This is not the kind of movie that's meant to be watched alone. It's meant to be watched with someone who knows all the words and can laugh at the terrible dialogue and love the dancing scenes. It's an absurd movie and more misogynistic than I had remembered. But I still love it.

My sisters and I used to watch it together. We loved it so much, that Sister 2 and I made up a ficticious character based on one of the lines in the movie. Years ago, when I was still single, if someone asked for my name and I didn't want to give it to them, I would occasionally say my name was Martha Ruth. Martha Ruth Smith, to be exact. If you don't get the Martha Ruth reference, you should know that in the movie, someone says "Eliza, Martha, Ruth! Fetch some blankets!" And sister 2 thought Martha Ruth was one person and that was a terrible name to give a child. So then that was the name we used. Along with Bertha Martha Schwartzenheimer, which I'm pretty sure gave the hint that I wasn't interested.

I have a pile of laundry the size of Mt. Vesuvius on my bed, so I'd better get to work. The children refuse to fold any of it, so I think I'm just going to throw it on the floor of their rooms, which is where it would end up anyway, so what's the point of folding it at all?

This gem wholesaler from New Jersey is having a worse day than me. He left a bag of diamonds in his rental car at a restaurant in Florida for about 15 minutes and when he came out to get them the bag was gone, and so were $400,000 worth of diamonds.

I have never had $400,000 worth of anything in my possession ever, but you can be sure if I did, I wouldn't leave it in plain sight on the seat of a rental car. He must have been really hungry or really had to use the restroom, or really insured because that was a pretty careless thing to do. So thank you, Mr. Hungry Wholesaler, for reminding me to be grateful that all the diamonds I own fit on one finger, and that finger goes with me everywhere, even to fold the laundry.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Bad Day 192--It's time to go our separate ways. . .

Tonight, all the children went off to different activities with friends, so I went to dinner with Artemis. I'm pretty sure that this is only the beginning of years of Friday nights without the children. It's strange because I am certain that yesterday they were 8, 6, and 2. I keep telling them not to grow, but they won't listen to me. They are very disobedient children and must be punished by as many hugs and kisses as possible until they yell at me to stop. Although I know they secretly love it. Child 3 reached out today and held my hand which melted my heart immediately.

But back to dinner. I found out that one of my favorite Thai restaurants has a gluten-free menu which basically is just a list of dishes that don't have gluten, so we went there and ate really spicy papaya salad and it was delicious, and I'm not feeling sick at all. We also had a fun time catching up and then I took her home and we chatted with Adonis until it was time for the children to begin arriving home. We also made plans for future outings which will include watching Les Mis together and Artemis helping me stalk Tony Mendez. OK, not stalk really but visit his gallery. Artemis is also an artist, so I suspected she would be up for that.

But before I hang out with Artemis again, I'm going to do this really cool experiment with a magnet, some breakfast cereal and water. Because they are still children after all and mushing up breakfast cereal to find the iron in it is something they might still think is cool. For a minute anyway, until they are completely grown up which will be tomorrow sometime in the afternoon I think.

Child 1 says this couple in Africa is having a worse day than me. They look so happy in this picture, don't they?

What you can't see is that first, the reason they were so close to the rhinos is because their guide told them to move closer, and second, that rhino on the right with the especially pointy horn is about to charge. It actually gored the woman who was taken to the hospital with pretty awful injuries. Thankfully, they were not fatal, but I'm sensing a lawsuit in the future. So thank you, Ms. Target, for reminding me to be grateful that the water buffalo we took pictures with in the hills of Vietnam were completely tame and let Child 2 pet them without charging. And if I am ever lucky enough to go on safari in Africa, I will definitely not listen to the game park owner if he tells me to scooch a little closer to the lions. And I hope he reimburses you for the trip as well as pays for your medical bills.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Bad Day 191--Things I will never eat again

I'm in mourning today. I had a hard time finding anything to eat at lunch. There was no meat of any kind that wasn't breaded or sauced or crumbed. It was so frustrating. So I had mashed potatoes and cheese and artichoke hearts. It was not the best lunch. It was fun because I got to chat with my friend "Jennifer", but it wasn't delicious. Then I made dinner which was yummy soup, but I didn't feel like eating it. The children who were awake loved it, so it was a hit, but it still wasn't the same. Also, the pickiest of the eaters was taking a nap and I never got her thumbs up or down. So here is my list of things that I will miss that I will never eat again which makes me really sad to think about. And please don't suggest a substitute or gluten-free version because they are just not the same. Some things cannot be replaced.

  1. Kentucky fried chicken
  2. Papa John's pizza
  3. chocolate cake
  4. brownies
  5. chocolate chip cookies
  6. Thin Mints
  7. Samoas
  8. KitKats (do you sense a theme here?)
  9. Homemade chicken noodle soup with the big fat wide egg-noodles that I love
  10. dumplings
  11. gnocchi
  12. bowtie pasta
  13. baguettes
  14. banana bread (especially the kind with chocolate chips)
  15. that yummy green bean casserole with the french fried onions on top
  16. lobster bisque
  17. Ritz crackers
  18. popcorn shrimp
  19. dinner rolls
  20. kung pao chicken
  21. apple pie
  22. quiche
  23. croissants
  24. pain au chocolat
  25. fried cheese
I could go on and on. Yesterday, at my off-site meeting they served freshly baked cookies and they smelled so good and all I could do was smell and look at them. And for the first time I felt really pathetic. I realize that eating brownies is not worth it because of the way I will feel after, but tonight, what I wouldn't give to eat just one more. I miss the smell of brownies fresh from the oven. But mostly, I miss the taste and the texture. I'm going to go wallow in self pity and cry myself to sleep. I don't even have Husband here to hold me and tell me it will be OK and I can live without brownies. Can a person live without brownies? What if they are essential to well-being? I'm doomed! Doomed!

This software developer is having a worse day than me. He outsourced his job to Chinese software coders so that he could spend the day surfing Reddit and watching cat videos. Seriously. Cat videos. His company started investigating when they noticed someone in China connecting to their network every day. He had even sent his network key to them.

Outsourcing your own job is never a good idea because now the company knows, they've decided they don't need him any longer. Also, he lost his security clearance and is never going to get another good reference. So thank you Mr. Outsourcer, for reminding me to be grateful I'm not addicted to cat videos and especially grateful that my job cannot be outsourced, and also, I love it. I wish people would stop bringing in cookies and donuts, though. Donuts! I forgot about those. I miss Krispy Kreme. Sigh.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Bad Day 190--Cool is not a synonym for disgusting

Tonight it is cold and rainy and Child 2 has a cold, so it's the perfect night for homemade chicken noodle soup. However, noodles have wheat in them, so I made avgolemono instead. For those of you who don't know what that is, it's a creamy, lemony chicken soup with rice that uses eggs instead of flour to thicken it. It looks like this. Yummy, no?

I thought it was delicious and very reminiscent of Thom Kha Gai which is one of my favorite things to eat but made me sick the last time I had it because I think the restaurant used soy sauce in it. But this was completely gluten free and warm and filling and the children hated it. Child 2 said it was cool which is her code for almost inedible but I'm too polite not to eat it. Child 3 said that it tasted foreign but she just gulped it down fast so she couldn't taste the lemon. I think she thought that was a compliment. And Child 1 said maybe if I put in more onions, it might overwhelm the lemon so you couldn't taste it. I should mention that Child 1 hates onions and picks them out of everything. So that wasn't a compliment either. I told them they'd get used to it because I was going to make it again. Husband will love it and I miss chicken noodle soup and this was yummy. It defies explanation that children who like eggplant and mushrooms and olives are picky eaters!

Oh well, tomorrow it's supposed to snow in the afternoon/evening, so I'll make a different kind of soup and they probably won't like that either. I'm not sure why I try anymore. Maybe it's time to re-introduce "children are in charge of dinner week." I'll take a whole week off and one of them will be in charge every night. Then they'll see how easy it is to find gluten-free food that is quick and simple and delicious and nobody complains about. Or maybe we'll all be starving because nobody will actually cook anything and they will all just eat ramen and say to me oh I forgot I was supposed to cook. That latter thing is more likely.

The owners of this house in Sweden are having a worse day than me. See if you can guess why.

A local train that derailed and crashed into a residential building in Saltsjobaden is seen outside Stockholm in this picture taken by Scanpix Sweden January 15, 2013. According to local media, a spokesman from Arriva, the company that operates the train line, says the train was stolen by a domestic cleaner, 
who stole the train for unknown reasons. The cleaner was taken to a hospital after the crash. No residents in the building were injured.  REUTERS/Jonas Ekstromer/Scanpix Sweden (SWEDEN - Tags: SOCIETY TRANSPORT) 


Yes, that's a train in their second floor. Apparently, a train company cleaning lady stole a train and drove it at high speed off the end of the tracks and into the house. Luckily, nobody but the cleaning lady was injured. However, I don't even want to know how the phone call to their insurance company went about how a train was in their family room. (I'm sorry. Did you say a train? In your living room? I don't think your policy covers that.) So thank you, train-stealing cleaning lady, for reminding me to be glad we don't live near any train tracks and to be very grateful that no one ever has driven anything into my living room. Now I'm going to bed to not dream about trains crashing into my house because I probably won't sleep yet again. When Husband finally gets home, I'm sleeping for a month straight.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Bad Day 189--The Zombie Queen is back.

I didn't sleep again last night, so today I drank two diet Dr. Peppers at my offsite meeting. I'm pretty sure while that kept me awake through some really long and boring presentations, I will probably not sleep again tonight. So I will drink more caffeine tomorrow and then I won't sleep again and it will never end and Husband will come home from Afghanistan to find I have lost. my. mind! OK, that might happen anyway, but it will happen sooner if I don't get any sleep.

I have had bouts of insomnia off and on all my life. Before I had children, I would just stay up late and watch TV or read trusting that I could take a nap later. After, the children arrived, napping was harder, but still doable so the occasional sleeplessness was again not an issue because I was in charge of the schedule (OK, really the children were in charge) and I could sneak in a nap during Arthur or Dragon Tales. But now, I am not in charge of the schedule at all and I still have to get up and go to work in the morning and I still have to come home and make dinner and then I have to help with homework and the pile of laundry to fold at the end of my bed is growing but I am too tired to fold it.

So I'm going to watch Downton Abbey and then go to bed early and probably not sleep. Oh, but first I'll get after Child 3 for not doing her homework. Sigh. I need a vacation. Unfortunately, my next one is a long, long way off. Maybe I'll just dream about going to the beach. If I can ever get any sleep.

This man in Las Vegas is having a worse day than me because he can get to sleep, but people keep waking him up to demand their phones back. Apparently, the cell phone tower behind his house gives a false signal to the "find my iPhone" app and makes people think he stole their phones.  So many have come to his house, that he put up this sign.

Lost Phone? Don't Blame Wayne Dobson (ABC News)

So thank you, Mr. Phone Unfinder, for reminding me to be grateful that there are no cell phone towers in my neighborhood. If I were you, I'd have a lawyer contact Apple. They at least owe you a software update, if nothing else for your time and trouble. I'm guessing you actually wouldn't want an iPhone.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Bad Day 188--Bring home the bacon, fry it up in the microwave.

Today started out disastrously and ended up not as bad as it could have been, so that's an improvement, I guess. First, I hardly slept at all last night and I was a zombie in the morning with a migraine. I thought maybe I would just go back to sleep, but the children were having a really hard time, so I had to get up and get them going. I took the really strong migraine medicine which makes me spacey, but I still got the children out the door and made it to work on time even though I got out of bed 45 minutes late.

Then, I made it through the entire day of work without falling asleep at my desk which I really thought would happen given that I was sleepless on migraine meds. Then I came home, made dinner, (which included microwaved bacon. I wasn't awake enough to actually fry the bacon,) and then I still felt peppy enough to clean up afterward. If you knew how poorly I was feeling before Halloween, then you know what a big deal that is to make it the whole day without doubling over in pain and crawling back into bed. So yippee for gluten-free! I'm convinced that is what is making the difference because I even ate chocolate yesterday and I still made it through the day today. I do have a couple of itchy hives, though. I have to stop pretending that I can eat chocolate.

OK, so we have to talk about the Golden Globes which I missed because I was helping with homework and Skyping with my parents and Husband. I am so excited that not only did Argo win, but Ben Affleck gave a shout out to the Foreign Service which I watched on Youtube. I love the internet. And Tony Mendez, my close personal friend, (OK, I just stalk him but still, I've met him twice!) got to attend! I hope he and  his wife Jonna, who was also there, enjoyed every minute of the show. They definitely had a better day than me. Tony is the one on the left, just in case you lived in a cave until yesterday and don't recognize John Goodman who is also one of my favorite actors, besides Ben Affleck who had the good sense to marry someone named Jennifer.

This teacher in Ohio is having a worse day than me. She is suing her school board for discrimination because she has a disability which is that she has a phobia of small children. She originally taught high school, but she was moved down to the middle school so she resigned. First of all, why would you choose teaching as a profession if you are afraid of children? And second, I don't know if you've been to a middle school lately, but the children there are not all that small. Some of them are taller than me, so I'm not sure why she had to resign. But in any case, she is now jobless and in the middle of a lawsuit that makes her the subject of ridicule. So thank you, Ms. Phobia, for reminding me to be grateful that I love my middle-schooler. Child 3 can yell with the best of them, but she's not all that scary. Much more on the adorable side. All of the children are delightful. The Dog, on the other hand, now she's scary.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Bad Day 187--What did a porcupine ever do to you?

I made a delicious dinner tonight of porcupine meatballs. Don't panic. They are not made out of porcupines because that would not be delicious. They are called porcupine meatballs because they are made with rice instead of breadcrumbs. They are yummy and everyone loved them. Everyone, that is, except Child 2 who I am rapidly discovering is a lot pickier of an eater and dresser and hairstyler than I had previously thought but she is just too polite to say so. But she is also very bad at disguising her emotions so when I asked her if she liked the meatballs, she got that weird look on her face that she gets when she doesn't want to disappoint me and then she refuses to say anything. She swears now that she did like the meatballs and also now she likes spaghetti. It's just my lasagna she doesn't like. Well, that's good about the meatballs because I loved them and I'm going to make them again and she will just have to be polite about it. Also the lasagna. I need to find some gluten-free lasagna noodles before Husband comes home again.

The other two children are not so polite as evidenced by Child 1 who did not like the potatoes I made to go with the meatballs because they had lemon juice in them. Sigh. They were delicious and I will also be making those again, too and I will just eat her portion. Not being able to eat all the normal things I used to eat has been a challenge, so I'm trying new recipes. Some of them will be hits. OK, most of them will be hits because I am an excellent cook, but I anticipate a few misses. That's the fun of cooking. Sometimes the experiment works beautifully like when I replaced rosemary in a recipe for butternut squash with curry. I know you think that shouldn't have worked but I knew it would and I like the recipe much better with curry because I'm not a big rosemary fan. Others, however, are a clear miss like when I made inedible fish. It turned out hard and crunchy which was so weird because I poached it and poached fish shouldn't be hard. Why would it harden? If anyone knows a kind of white fish that poaches well, please let me know because whatever that was that I bought didn't work.

But like I said, the disasters can be fun. Like the lavender cupcakes which I still thought were delicious but the children thought they tasted like soap, or the time I forgot about the eggs I was boiling and almost ruined the pan because I was playing MarioKart. The children are still talking about that disaster. Or anything we made in our crappy Chinese oven which never worked right ever. (Sorry, Genevieve. Ovens in China stink and the maintenance men just stare at you when you ask them to fix it because why would you need an oven? Because chocolate chip cookies don't work on a stove, that's why! This was obviously before I was allergic to chocolate and wheat.)

Speaking of Genevieve who is still not enjoying her move to China, everyone in Beijing is having a worse day than me. This is what it looks like in Beijing right now.

PHOTO: Skyscrapers are obscured by heavy haze in Beijing Sunday, Jan. 13, 2013.

That wasn't taken at night. That's what it looks like during the day right now. Obviously all the factories they shut down right before the Olympics are back up and running because they are doing just fabulous things to the air quality. Not long after I moved to China, we had a couple of days like this and it was raining ash. I could tell because I got it all over my hair. But thank you, China, for reminding me to be grateful that I live in a country that enforces pollution regulations and that today, it was foggy, and I didn't mind because it was only water vapor which isn't going to take years off my life. I wonder how many years I shaved off by living three in China? I think Armpit, Asia was actually worse. Those 3 months I lived there at the beginning of my marriage probably shaved off a good 7-8 years in the stress alone.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Bad Day 186--We're on a Quest

A galactic quest. Galaxy Quest to be exact. We wanted to watch a funny movie, and now that Child 1 and Child 2 know more about Star Trek, it's so much more funny to them. "Let's get out of here before one of those things kills Guy!"

I must be feeling better because after dinner I had a burst of energy and not only did I get the dishes cleaned up, I put away two boxes of Christmas decorations. Yes. You read that right. We still have Christmas decorations to put away. But at least we got the lights and the tree down on January 2nd. We're running a little behind this year. We still haven't sent out our Christmas letter. Maybe tomorrow.

But anyway, I got a lot done today. I cut Child 2's hair and it turned out really cute. Of course, she doesn't like it, but since she told me to cut it just like I did last May but she couldn't remember what it looked like last May, so those were the worst instructions ever. I did my best, but I am not a professional hairdresser and since she insists that I cut it instead of going to a salon, she has to take what she can get. I've definitely done worse, so she really shouldn't complain. Once, I had to take Child 1 to a salon to fix what I'd done wrong and the hairdresser said why did someone cut her hair that way and was it on purpose? No. It wasn't. Sigh.

 I don't usually use the same links two days in a row, but these were so good, I just have to use one more. This male model is also having a worse day than me.


Really? A Muppet fur sweater and oven mitts for mittens? Is that designer British? Or maybe they just hate men as much as most designers hate women. Either that or someone really needs some knitting lessons. Honestly, I understand avant garde, but I would pay money to see someone actually wear this on purpose and not because he was paid to wear it in a show. So thank you, crazy designer, for making me feel better about my own knitting skills. Child 2's Ravenclaw scarf may be way bigger than I intended, but at least she won't look like a fuzzy blue monster from Sesame Street.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Bad Day 185--Why would I want to talk to people?

I met my new office mates from the office I'm switching to this summer and they are awesome. I'd forgotten what being in an office full of extroverts could be like. I'm currently in a office full of introverts. No, I'm not complaining. They are also wonderful and smart and wickedly funny. But they are quiet and it's taken a long time for them to open up but I'm in now and they actually come to my office to share jokes now and I'll be sad to leave. But my current office is very quiet. Extremely quiet. This new office is going to be loud and raucous and they eat lunch together instead of sitting at their desks with the door closed. I can't stand to eat at my desk, so I've been going to the cafeteria every day with my Kindle and hiding in a corner so I don't have to talk to the well-meaning people who feel sorry for me because I'm eating by myself because Husband is in Afghanistan and I have no office friends to eat with because they are all eating at their desks. Husband and I ate lunch together every day before he left. It's something we've always done since I joined the Department and it's rather like having a lot of dates and a luxury I never had when I was home with the children and he was at work.

I started working and actually spent more time with Husband than ever and it was great. But now he's not here and I'm lonely so I do what I did when I was studying Chinese in China before I met the hot Italian guy and the cute Japanese businessman whom I thereafter had lunch with every day and Husband wasn't jealous because he doesn't get jealous, even after I invited the hot Italian guy and the cute Japanese businessman to our house for dinner. Sometimes we were joined by a Swiss priest and we used to laugh that we were the beginning of a joke: An Italian student, a Swiss priest, a Japanese businessman, and an American diplomat walk into a bar. . . . The punchline was that we were all studying Chinese and we didn't know each other's real names, just the Chinese ones our teachers gave us, which made it more fun. But anyway, before the hot Italian guy started eating lunch with me, I would bring a book to work and read during my lunch hour and that is what I do now. Only it's a Kindle so I never have to worry about finishing the book in the middle of lunch and having nothing to read.

But anyway, back to my new office mates, they seem like a lot of fun and they always eat together and there is no weekend duty and no Blackberry. I don't know what I did to please the gods so that I got two fabulous jobs in DC in a row, but I'm very grateful and in the envious position of really loving the job that I'm in and not wanting to leave and also really looking forward to the new one. This may be the only time that ever happens to me, so I'm savoring every minute of it. If only Husband were here, it would be perfect.

This male model is having a worse day than me.


OK, first, what?! And second, is this his own failed construction project? Because that is actually an idea I might get behind. If men had to dress in the remnants of woodworking or furniture building projects that they never finished, then maybe there would be fewer unfinished projects. (I'm still waiting for that changing table, Husband!) But I suspect this is actually an homage to Les Mis and the barricade on his face is meant to be ironic which really means it is moronic. So thank you, barricaded fashion model, for reminding me that fashion is fun and it is OK if I laugh out loud at this ridiculous get-up because it makes me very happy for my pretty gray winter hat I bought in Belgium. I think the hot Italian guy would approve. He was quite the fashion plate and not even a little bit gay. Sigh. So wasted on Husband who is still not jealous.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Bad Day 184--Time keeps on slippin'. . .

No, time is not speeding up. It's dragging on and on and on and I swear it's slowing down.

We're trying a new homework system for Child 3 where she works for 30 minutes and then takes a break. She is even using my iPod as a really expensive stop watch. However, we did not have a conversation before we started that sitting staring into space or playing with the dog or making Hawaiian punch and spilling it on the carpet and cleaning it up all do not count as actually doing homework. Day one of this experiment and we are both already frustrated, so I'm not sure it's going to work. I will either be bald or completely gray by the time this school year is over and I swear that next year I. am. not. doing. a. single. project. Not one. Nope. None. Husband can do them all and see how fun it is. His hair is already gray and his hairline has already receded and he is not a girl, so there is less danger for him anyway. And plus, he is supposed to be the optimist in the family, so maybe he will believe that whatever system he tries will actually work and the stress will not keep him awake at night.

At the same time that I'm monitoring Child 3's homework, I'm helping Child 1 with a presentation on the use of silence in stage directions to elicit emotion. Seriously, it's like I'm doing high school all over again. And 5th grade. And 8th grade. I can't wait for summer, except I don't actually get any time off because I have used up all my vacation days. It is so not fair. The Department should so give me extra time off when Husband comes home, too. Right now, our plans appear to include him visiting his family for a couple of weeks without me while I am home alone with The Dog. This does not seem like a fair plan to me. If he is going on vacation, he should drive and take The Dog with him. All that alone time in the car with the kids whining and arguing over which DVD to watch wouldn't even begin to make up for my year of handling things without him, but it would give him a nice taste of it.

This man in Germany is having a worse day than me. He got stuck in a chimney and the firemen had to open a hole in the second floor to get him out. Oh, and he was naked at the time. This is apparently a not uncommon phenomenon because the picture below is not actually of the man in Germany, but is of one in Brazil who had a similar problem.

So thank you, naked chimney climber, for reminding me to be grateful that I have never been dumb enough to try to climb up a chimney, especially not in my birthday suit. I'm wondering if anyone gave him a breathalizer, because that doesn't seem to be something you would want to do while sober or sane. I'm so glad I am both sober and sane at the moment. Although check with me again in 30 minutes after Child 3 has yet again managed to not do her homework.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Bad Day 183--Half done!

I've never been a glass is half-full kind of girl. I learned very young that if you let people know you had anything in your glass at all, they try to take it from you. But today, we are finally half-way through this horrible ordeal.

Husband has been telling everyone we were half-way through for about three months now, so you can see who the optimist in the family is. I am just relieved that we have made it this far. And please, well-meaning people, stop telling me "it will go by fast." Maybe it will for you, but for me, it has been the longest six months of my life. It's even longer than being pregnant, and I hated being pregnant because I was sick the whole time. I am still sick all the time and I don't get a cute baby at the end so this is way worse.

Speaking of being sick, I think Child 3 gave me her cold, so I am drinking apple juice for dinner and going to bed.

This thief is having a worse day than me.

Trail of Cheetos Leads to Store Robber (ABC News)

First, he was arrested without a shirt and that is not a very flattering mug shot. But second, he was caught because he broke into a convenience store, did a lot of damage and stole a bunch of stuff. But he left a trail of Cheetos that led police right to him. He gets points for having good taste, but he looses all those and more for dropping the Cheetos like bread crumbs along the way. So thank you, Mr. Cheetos thief, for reminding me that Cheetos are for eating, not dropping, and to be grateful that I will never rob a convenience store, especially without my shirt.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Bad Day 182--fashion disaster

I am blogging on my phone while I'm sitting in the middle school cafeteria wearing pink and purple converse. I have nothing against pink and purple converse per se, but they completely do not go with my outfit. I am wearing them because it is the night of Child 3's band concert and she forgot to bring black shoes. Luckily, her feet are almost as big as mine and I was wearing black shoes, so we traded. She is still young enough that this is sort of cool. She also forgot to tell me that she outgrew her black pants, so she borrowed Child 2's. And also Child 2's band shirt. Child 3 is very obviously the youngest and is used to being rescued. Maybe it's time for her to be a little more independent, but not if it's going to affect her only good grade besides theater.

Child 1 and Child 2 are at an ice skating party which is a good thing because if they were here, they would be complaining even though Child 3 has been to every single one of their concerts. It is hard being the youngest, and the middle, and the oldest. Let's face it, life isn't fair for anyone, especially children. Because I know that life isn't fair which made me angry when I was younger but these days makes me do things like wear my daughter's shoes and send Husband to Afghanistan.

This teenage mother is having a worse day than me.

She waxed her three year old daughter's eyebrows and then posted all about it and bragged how it made her feel like a good mother. And then everyone on the internet ragged on her, maybe rightly so. Because honestly, she's starting her daughter on a path to insecurity at a very young age. Maybe having had tens of thousands of dollars worth of plastic surgery herself after starring in a reality show has clouded her judgment. So thank you, teen mom, for reminding me that I think my children are beautiful just as they are and I wouldn't change a thing about them.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Bad Day 181--The songs of angry mom

I'm not angry right now, but I'm going to be if Child 3 doesn't finish her French project which is taking way, way, way too long. The problem is, we don't have instructions, so we're just guessing how many pages she needs for her fashion magazine and I suspect the French teacher is not expecting the level of detail Child 3 has put into her fashion sketches which she is now labeling in French. I also suspect her teacher had no idea how much Child 3 loves drawing fashions. But at least for once she is not complaining about her homework. For those of you who don't speak French, this is une robe rose.

Child 3 googled her symptoms the other day and has determined she has Adult Attention Deficit Disorder which makes me very proud because she is nowhere close to being an adult although she does have a very short attention span. But she does actually have a nasty cold and she stayed home from school today and didn't do her homework. Child 1 also is not feeling well and also stayed at home not doing homework even though I called her and reminded her to do it. She is supposed to be doing Chinese homework, but since I can hear her singing "Tomorrow Comes" from Les Mis, I'm betting that's not what she's working on. The only child actually doing the homework she is supposed to be doing is Child 2 who is practicing her clarinet and the other two are convinced she is my favorite because she never gets in trouble for not doing her homework because she does it. I don't have a favorite, but it is part of the law of mom that if you do what you are supposed to do when you are supposed to do it, you usually don't get into trouble. Child 2 has figured out that doing homework early means more time to goof off later and she had hardly any homework over the weekend because it was already done. I think the other two should take lessons from her on not procrastinating, but maybe they'll get around to it later. A lot later. Maybe never. Ask Husband. (It is sometimes very painful for a non-procrastinator to be married to a procrastinator. Remember how I lied to him on our wedding day so he wouldn't be late which he still denies?)

Child 2 also helped me find wheat-free soy sauce and I made fried rice for dinner tonight. I make awesome fried rice. Really awesome. Better than Chinese restaurant awesome. It helps that I've been making it for 20 years and I've lived in Asia a lot. Fried rice was one of the only things I could cook the first time we lived in Armpit, Asia because Spam and rice were the only things I recognized in the store. Once I bought something I was certain was onion rings and it turned out to be squid so I stopped buying things based on the picture on the package. I know you are wondering why Husband didn't just do all the shopping since he could actually read the package labels and frankly, I am now wondering the same thing. In Armpit, we could buy American canned green beans on the black market but they were expensive, and we could also find spaghetti noodles but no sauce. I once tried to make spaghetti sauce out of V8 juice (which they had everywhere for no discernible reason since tomatoes were not a part of the local cuisine) for a dinner party where husband left me in the kitchen with a bunch of women who didn't speak English and even though he could have translated for me he wanted to hang out with the men and the whole thing was a disaster and rather inedible, especially after a well-meaning woman rinsed the noodles in ice water to make them cold because apparently she had never actually eaten spaghetti before. But anyway, one day I was frying up some Spam to go with my rice and I noticed some strange Asian vegetables in the fridge, so I threw them in with the Spam and it turned into fried rice and it was really a nice change from the plain version I had been eating. So I am very happy to have found soy-sauce I can use that doesn't make me sick and I will be making lots more fried rice in the future. But I stopped using Spam years ago when we left Armpit. I'm not very fond of Spam.

This man in Massachusetts is having a worse day than me.

Roger Mundell Jr., bears cuts on his face at his home in Brookfield, Mass., Monday, Jan. 7, 2013, after being attacked by a bobcat in his garage Sunday. The cat ran out of the garage and bit Mundell's 15-year-old nephew on the arms and back before it was shot dead. (AP Photo/The Telegram & Gazette, Christine Peterson)

He was minding his own business going into his garage when he was attacked by a rabid bobcat. In Brookline, Massachusetts which isn't exactly in the wild. The bobcat also attacked his nephew and he had to kill it to get it to stop attacking them and now he and his nephew have to undergo rabies treatments which I understand are not very fun. So thank you, Mr. Bobcat thrasher, for reminding me to be freaked out next time I go in the garage and also to be grateful that you can be sure if anything cat-like comes near the house, The Dog will bark at it. And if the bobcat is wearing a little bow on it's head, The Dog might even attack it and rip off its head. Just ask all our Hello Kitty dolls.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Bad Day 180--I'm going Downton

Our house is too small for our phones. I may have mentioned that there are four of them, which now seems a little excessive since we still don't know what to do with the fourth. They also have this feature where you can transfer the call to a different handset which means that if I answer it in the kitchen, I can push menu-transfer-select-handset# and the other handset will ring for someone to pick it up. I'm pretty sure that's not as efficient as just yelling for Child 2 to pick up the phone especially since I'm certain every time I tried it I would transfer whoever it was into oblivion.

I'm so looking forward to the new season of Downton Abbey which begins tonight  The only problem with the new season is that Husband won't be here to watch it with me. I forced him to watch the first season and he's been hooked ever since. He liked it so much he pumped our British table mates on the cruise for information about the new season. I'm not sure why we like it so much, but maybe because it's so different for our life and everything we know and it's fun to look at all the clothing that is so beautiful and so extremely difficult to wear and take care of. Honestly, how did they keep all that satin and velvet so wrinkle free? And how on earth could they walk in those skirts without tripping and breaking their ankles? I hear the actresses wear Uggs under the dresses when it's cold.

So I was all set to watch the new season, but now it's been usurped by Brave which is about a girl in Scotland who turns her mother into a bear. That actually might come true in our house, especially if anyone tells me what happened in episode 1 of the new season before I get a chance to watch it. I'm recording it. I feel like those people who watch football games late and have to avoid TV so they won't know the score. I don't want to hear about the wedding! So no facebook messages for the next day or so because I know all my friends and maybe even Husband will be talking about it. Grrr. I'm feeling like a grizzly already.

This iPhone thief is having a worse day than me. He took a phone someone left in a cab in New York City and started using the dating app on it. Unfortunately, he wasn't bright enough to change the e-mail address associated with the app and the phone owner not only found out, he posed as a girl and sent the thief a message and arranged a date. When the thief arrived, the owner met him with a $20 bill and a hammer. The thief gave up the phone and left. So thank you, iPhone owner, for reminding me to be grateful that not only isn't my phone worth anything, also there are no dating apps on it. Having already found my soul mate, I never have to date again.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Bad Day 179--Are Godot and Verizon the same thing?

Our house phones have been broken for over a week, which means that no one can ever call to ask for favors, so that is good, but it also means that I can't reach the children unless one of them with a cell phone is home and that phone is on and is not on vibrate and they are near it, which basically means I can never reach the children. The phone is in Husband's name, so of course that meant that it was impossible for me to go online and request a repair service. So he arranged for someone to come on Thursday and they never showed. They did call us after we left for the airport and Husband told them to come on Saturday. Then we got a lovely e-mail from Verizon saying that someone would come on Saturday before 7pm. Yes, you read that right. They gave themselves a nice 11 hour window during which they could show up at any time which meant someone had to be at home all day and since Child 1 had tutor and other activities planned, that meant me.

So I spent the morning alternately napping and knitting and waiting and running one errand with my fingers crossed that they wouldn't come while I ran down the street to the jewelry store to get my bracelet repaired and for once they did what they normally do which is not ever show up and I made it back on time. They finally arrived at 4, which I'm sure in their minds is three hours early but meant I had spent 8 hours waiting around. And after 45 minutes of plugging things in and testing them, the repairman determined that the problem was that our phones were old and broken. So I bought new phones. They are fancy and have about a thousand features which I will never use, but now we at least have a dial tone. Remember the days when you could just plug in a phone and it worked immediately? And there were no buttons? Yeah, I know. You were born after 1980, so you have never even really "dialed" a phone and you never ever wished with all your heart that you could have a princess phone in your bedroom and to you a "princess phone" means a pink cell-phone with Disney princesses on it, not this.

The Republican National Committee will be happy about our new phones because we are now best buddies or at least they think we are because they call me all the time. I bet I have a ton of messages from them and they must be worried because I haven't answered the phone in over a week. I'm going to start speaking Chinese next time they call and see what they do since telling them that I am voting for the Pirate Party hasn't worked. (Don't judge. It's a real political party in Germany.) They'll probably transfer me to a fluent Mandarin speaker or maybe a pirate. I speak fluent pirate. But with my luck, it will be a Chinese pirate and I will have to resort to saying "please place your left index finger on the red light" because I said that a million times on the visa line in China and it's about all I remember. OK, only 25,000 times, but still. Would Chinese pirates vote Republican?

My friend "Sparrow" suggested that these people on a flight from Iceland are having a worse day than me because of this guy.


Apparently he drank all of his duty free liquor and then started punching his seatmate and screaming that the plane was going to crash. The passengers and flight attendants had enough so they taped him to his seat and taped his mouth shut. This appears to be completely legal and OK because when the flight landed at JFK, the passenger was taken to the hospital where he sobered up and was let go. So thank you, Mr. Drunk and Unruly, for reminding me to be glad that I'm not flying anywhere anytime soon and next time I do, I just may bring my roll of Hello Kitty duct tape with me. It might come in handy.