"The palest ink is better than the best memory" ~Chinese Proverb

Friday, January 16, 2015

Working Girl

40 hoursaweekohmygawd.  Considering that my last job was only 20 hours a week and most of that was just writing words while resting in bed (not to mention I had someone coming in to help with the house and and laundry because Brazil), and before that I didn't leave the house for a good 10 years or so, this new gig is killing me dead. As in, bed by 8:00. I begin fantasizing about going to bed around 3:00 pm, because that's how an old lady gets through the day like a boss.

I don't even want to talk about the state of my house. We clean all four levels (rickety stairs included) by ourselves now because Europe. How messy is my house? Just imagine that a boot factory exploded next door to a laundromat. The kids and Mitch try, but Mitch's idea of doing laundry is "folding" things loosely and tossing them on top of all my boots. Olivia's stuffed animals are in desperate need of birth control and I'm not sure how Henry's room looks. It's all the way up on the fourth floor, yo.

The job itself is okay. The office isn't social and sunny like my old job, and no one ever talks about their vaginas, but everyone seems nice. Now, I'm not gonna lie. NATO is not the most creative place to work. It's also terrifying. I'm scared to even throw away my used tissues, lest I get arrested for distributing classified boogers. Just getting into my office is an ordeal that requires something along the lines of a piece of DNA from all my family members and a cavity search. Not really, but they DO make me lock up my cell phone outside and forget about having my iPad with me. 

Mitch saw me happily crushing candies on my iPad before I started working and was all, "you know you can't bring that in to the NATO building."

"Yes I can."

"No you can't."

"YES. I CAN."

"Nope."

"Yep."

"No."

"But what am I going to read? I don't even know how to turn paper pages anymore."

"Read? Just what exactly do you think you will be doing in Human Resources?"

"Reading under my fuzzy blanket and occasionally having people sign stuff?"

Oh! You know what NATO does have? Adorable little wine bottles in the lunch room. Right next to the soda machine because Europe! I would take a picture to show you their cuteness, but I'd probably get fired. Heyyy....

I'm telling you guys, don't get jobs. There's no reading novels under fuzzy blankets or binge watching House of Cards on Netflix. IT'S JUST SO STUPID. Dumb paying for college and saving for retirement and dumb stupidness with a side of poop and somebody has to pay for all these boots. Why won't the universe just pay me for being adorably lazy? Gawd.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Picture Dump

My preshus baby is home, so I'm not going to waste any time with dumb old writing until he leaves for Amsterdam tomorrow (NYE in Amsterdam with friends-what could go wrong?), but here's a little of what we've been doing:
This damn dog has not left his side, nor would he let anyone else hug him when he walked in the door.


Merry Christmas, blurry iPad photo!

Snow!

Of course.

Fighting over the last of the Christmas Market garlic mushrooms.


It cost 30 euros to see this 'Authentic American Santa'. Photo not included.
We were all a little scared of this guy. I think we interrupted his mulled wine session.


Another ride on the giant wheel.

Grace is in the red coat. It was near impossible to get a shot of Jack skating with the girls while they were all three vertical.




I call this photo, "Indignity"

Worst Christmas Eve presents of all time?


More of Manekin Pis so Jack could see it. This time with an outfit!


Brussels-y!


Add caption


This is how we ride the metro..

Santa brought me a new knife. I haven't cut all my fingers yet.

World's tiniest snowman.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Christmas Vacation Day 2


I love my kids. I woke up to these (gluten free for her sister) cupcakes being made by Grace this morning:



Then I realized I needed gift tags to wrap some shit up, so I asked Olivia to tear off some strips of heavy paper for me. A few minutes later she brought me these:



And my little baby Henry has been helping me haul mattresses up and down the stairs with his new rugby muscles so I can set up Jackie's room (2 days!). 


To give you an idea of what was involved with that, let me remind you about our stairs:









Sunday, December 14, 2014

Brussels Christmas Market

We went somewhere awesome last weekend, but then our stuff came and there was all this stupid work to do. The movers unpacked everything, but basically there were just mounds of stuff everywhere. One of the few good things about moving every few years is that you are forced to pare down to the essentials. Before we left Brazil I dropped about 2,000 lbs worth of crap from our HHE (Household Effects for you non-foreign service people), and we are still shedding our belongings as we put everything away. I tell the kids if it's not beautiful or useful to donate it or toss it, and to be ruthless. Also, I have 46 tank tops. 

In other news, everyone is adapting to life in Brussels pretty well. I'm still in the oh-my-god-why-did-we-join-the-foreign-service phase, but I'm hoping that changes. They sell four brands of truffle mayonnaise here, so signs point to yes on that front. Mitch went out and bought a car, but I haven't seen it yet because paperwork and diplomatic license plates and blahblahblah. Maybe by the new year we will have wheels? Fortunately, we don't really need a vehicle yet. It's so easy to hop on public transit and not worry about parking or wine driving. 

We took the tram to a christmas market last Saturday, and it was the shit. It was packed with people and vendors but everyone was in a good mood because of vin chaud (hot mulled wine), which at least half of the vendors sold for just a few euros. I liked this very much.

Place Sainte-Catherine was the name of the square where the market took place. St. Catherine is an old Catholic church, and we were able to go inside where Mitch and I regaled the children with stories of growing up Catholic.








On the other side of the church is the Christmas Market. 



Yes, we went on that big-ass Ferris Wheel. It was a great place to view Brussels, and it was super cheap. I'm looking at you, Great Seattle Wheel, you big dumb jerk.



The view from the wheel. Those white squares are all the vendor stalls.




I love going through the pictures after an outing. All the photos of buildings are taken by my architect husband and all the food and booze pics are mine.




The Archangel Michael is the patron saint of Brussels. Here he is slaying the black devil. Merry Christmas!






We hadn't learned about the vin chaud yet. Whoops!  

I love that they have student prices on booze shots.



No comment.



We want to go again when my preshus angel college boy gets here next week, because I forgot to buy stuff after all the vin chaud. Also, there is an ice skating rink around there somewhere that the girls want to try out. I did buy a pretty cool chess set and the kids bought Christmas presents for each other. It was a good day and nobody cried.


Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Tourists

One of my favorite things to do in a new place is go to art museums. You know, as long as there aren't any toddlers with me. Toddlers are assholes in museums. Anyway, my kids are rarely assholes anymore, so when the tram let us off in the wrong part of town (we were headed to The Grand Place, but more on that in a minute), and the Royal Museum of  Fine Arts was right in our face, we decided to go where the day took us. The kids were surprisingly really excited to see actual original famous paintings, They wanted to go to one of the other museums in the area after we had seen all of the Old Masters exhibit, but I have a knee situation and I was also was experiencing a lack-of-wine situation after seeing all those paintings of naked people with overflowing wine goblets.




At least they used coasters back in the 1600s! 
Big ones! Coasters, I mean.


We still didn't know where the tram was, so we hoofed it to the Grand Place. See that tall fancy building coming out of my head? That's where we were headed. The closer we got to the square, the thicker the streets got with tourists. I love how my kids continually remind me that a lot of people understand English here, and I'd better watch my mouth when I'm whining about my knee.


We finally got to the Grand Place, which is your basic town square surrounded by old-ass buildings. It's very touristy. Lots of chocolate shops and places to drink beer. You guys, the beer here is really good, but the extra-high alcohol content has a way of sneaking up on you. Anyway, I had beer instead of wine, as one does in Brussels. 


Well, that giant goblet of beer tasted delicious. Don't worry, we let the kids get hot chocolate, which also did not suck. Anyway, that beer tasted so good we decided to try another one. All the beer comes in different glasses here. I think that's so you remember that Brussels beer is the shit.


While we were drinking our beer and hot chocolate, we admired some buildings with fancy gold stuff (insert architectural term here-just because I'm married to an architect doesn't mean I know the terms, yo) on them. I would show you the photo I took of the kids with their hot chocolates, but it was all blurry and I wouldn't want to give the impression that I was drunk or anything.



Soon I thought it was time to sample all the some chocolates, because the beer had taken over my judgement. We sampled chocolate in every shop we went to. So, I'm sloshing around, woozily trying to not think about all the chocolate I had just consumed, when we happened upon one of the most famous chocolate shops IN THE WORLD. Mary is always on the top ten lists. The beer thought it would be a good idea to go in and try it.



I think that guy talking to my husband is a chocolate scientist or something, because he went into this long spiel about how amazing their chocolates are and how they are made using special blahblahblahbeer. The chocolatiers almost wrestled me to the ground when I snapped this photo. "One must not take pictures of the chocolates!" Don't look at these chocolates, you guys, because they are top secret and I don't want to wake up one morning with a chocolate mold of a horse's head in my bed.


I'm not gonna lie, they were fantastic. Also, the chocolatiers wore white gloves.

Since we were in full blown tourist mode, we decided to walk another few blocks to see Manneken Pis, which is one of Brussels' more famous landmarks. It's a statue of a little boy peeing. It's about 400 years old, and it was surprisingly tiny, considering how famous it is. Kind of like the Mona Lisa, but with pee.



For scale:


I mean, it's cute and all, and all the shops sell little replicas, but I'm probably good not seeing it again for the duration of this tour. We all agreed that the best part of our very long day was the museum.

Well, that is until we saw this: