Wednesday, April 8, 2015

The Struggle

Yesterday was my last day as a Human Resource lady. Hopefully, it was also my last day going to work alongside machine gun-wielding soldiers and bomb dogs. You never know. I actually didn't hate HR. I like making people happy, and HR is a good place for that, if not a great place to get your creative juices flowing. Anyway, I am now officially unemployed. Yay me! Suck it, University of Southern California! Because if you don't have a job, you don't have to pay for college, right? That's the way the American college system works, I'm pretty sure.

The movers have begun packing up the house. I have two sick kids with fevers and vomit rockets, because of course I do. The events of the last month have wiped out all of our reserves.Thank gah for Netflix. We are officially looking towards the future and what our life will be like out from under the State Department's thumb. Awesome. That's what it's going to be like. Frickin' awesome. The free water in restaurants alone is going to be a game changer. Oh, and State-issued Drexel Heritage gold brocade sofa? You can go ahead and shove yourself right up your own ass. Whoops! Sorrynotsorry. Got a little carried away. As one does when it comes to Drexel.

It's not all beer and Belgian chocolate around here as we prepare to depart, though. I am facing a dilemma, and I need your help. I haven't lived in the U.S. for a long time, and I only know the name of one Kardashian. I've never seen a Housewives show. My friend Claire left an US Weekly behind when she breezed through Brussels last month and I didn't know anybody in it. I basically have about two items in my repertoire that I can talk about. Politics (and talking about that can get you killed these days) and how I much I hate camping, which is maybe too random. Just the other day we were watching "Wild" and Mitch was all, "We have to hike the Pacific Coast Trail!" And I was all, "Do they have a Four Seasons every few miles?" The girls were into it once they saw all the Pinterest boards for "Glamping". By the end of the conversation we had found a renovated airstream on ebay but then decided it was too much work and that was the end of that backpacking nonsense. Killer of dreams: Level-EXPERT. And apparently I am also a penis expert, according to a Buzzfeed quiz I took last week:


Too bad I can't put this on my resume. At least for the kind of job I'm seeking.
Jealous, much? Since being an expert on penises is really only an appropriate conversation topic for a small demographic, I'm basically not fit for mixed company. So, be good friends and tell me what I need to know about American pop culture. OH! Tropical diseases. I know about tropical diseases, too. Do you guys think potential new friends would like to hear about parasites?














camping/glamping/four seasons, pacific coast trail

Thursday, April 2, 2015

We'll Try Not to let the Door Hit Our Booties on the Way Out

Hi kids! Guess what? We quit the Foreign Service! I know what you may be thinking. We made it through a year of separation while Mitch was in Afghanistan, not to mention three years in Brazil without sharp cheddar cheese and a year in DC in a house that was constantly flooded, so WHY LEAVE WHEN WE ARE FINALLY TOGETHER IN THE HEART OF EUROPE? And for the love of God, could that sentence be any longer? It's a long, grisly story, but since there are still balls in play with State, I'm just going to say that we are 100% happy with our decision. Make that 90%. Okay, 85% and that's my final offer. Also, my mom always told me if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all, and Blogger doesn't have enough blank pages for all the things I'm not going to say. Well, I'll say one thing. I heart my husband, who doesn't take any crap, even from the gargantuan machine that is State.

My hometown. Not a dump!
Where will we go? What will we do? Full circle back to our hometown of Spokane, Washington, The scene of the crime where we met as awkward teenagers with tragic hair. God, I love Washington, where practically everything is legal except throwing food in the trash.  Mitch will be going back to building public schools in the private sector. The kids are looking forward to going to school without armed guards and high fences (but will likely miss the international field trips). Olivia is interested in learning how many pennies are in a nickel (parent fail).  Grace is dying for shopping malls and frappucinos. Henry is scouring the internet for rugby clubs (how does one go about banning specific topics from being found by their kid on the internet?). Also, aunties and uncles, grandparents, and cousins. Seamus is excited to only have one more trans-continental flight left in his canine life. Just kidding. He's a dog. He never knows what the eff is going on. We are all looking forward to being in the same time zone as Jack. As for me, I have a lot of, uh, unique employment ideas, but that's a post for a different day.

1986. Who knew it would take 35,000 miles and 29 years to get back home?

Also, and this is just between you and me, I've been dumping my water bottles into a kind of sad-looking ficus tree at the Whirled Peas Factory on my way to the water cooler. Sometimes it had tea in it. Tea is good for plants, right? Turns out, not so much for FAKE plants. Because mold. So it was only a matter of time before I was fired anyway. And I swear it wasn't me that broke the paper shredder. Three times.

So, that's our story for now. I've been updating this blog a little, mostly just dumping photos, so if you wanna see what we've been doing in our last few months in Belgium, go here and scroll down.

See ya stateside, suckahs.







Saturday, March 7, 2015

Paris

Our trip to Paris was quick. The weather was gorgeous, but the kids were in various stages of crud, so we didn't stay long. Mitch "talked me into" having a million dollar bottle of champagne. For lunch. Because Paris. I was against it, of course. HAHAHA! Just kidding, day drinking is the best.

Paris notes: Not one person was rude to me. I felt like I would never be able to see everything even if I stayed for a month. Traffic sucks so hard. The food we had was insanely good. A tiny bottle of sparkling water was SIX EUROS. That's about $7.25 USD, or $1 per sip. You have to pay to use the bathrooms. WHAT'S WITH ALL THE FRENCH BULLDOGS? A member of our family purchased a beret because he thought it would be funny. We'll see how funny he thinks it was when he gets the divorce papers. Smoking is still a thing there. It was clean and there really are cafes on every corner.





Required:







Amsterdam

We did SOME of the touristy stuff one does in Amsterdam. 

Turns out, windmills are actually a thing in the Netherlands.






Van Gogh Museum. So good.






Tourists, yo.



 Not really a coffee shop. 




Amsterdam was a cool city, but man was it cold that day. The line to get into Anne Frank House was over an hour wait outside, but since I forced the kids to spend their mid-winter break studying the Holocaust, watching documentaries, and reading The Diary, we were determined to wait. It turned out that three of the gentlemen in line behind us were from our old neighborhood in Brazil, so we passed the time practicing our very rusty portuguese.

You Can't Swing a Dead Cat Without Hitting a Castle in Belgium

Castles are to Belgium as waterfalls are to Brazil.


Monday, February 16, 2015

Neuhaus Factory Outlet

This was my fourth trip to the Neuhaus Factory Outlet, but the kids had never been there, and since Mitch had to work today even though it's a holiday, I decided we needed a little chocolate treat. I'm not gonna lie, I got a little drunk on the vodka chocolate cordials, because they use insanely good chocolate and fill it with insanely good vodka. They should rename them Mommy's Miracles. Okay, I was disappointed the first time I went there because there was no factory tour, just a little strip-mall type of shop, but soon I learned that there are free samples of every chocolate in the store, and I didn't mind not getting to see how the chocolates were made. Especially after five Mommy's Miracles.








We all got sick but no one barfed, so it was a successful outing for our clan. Neuhaus Factory Outlet. Recommended!

Ghent

So, Valentine's Day was the first Saturday Mitch didn't have to work since we got here, so naturally we wanted to make the most of it. We gathered up the kids and hit the road to Ghent, an absolutely adorable town about an hour away. Less if you don't stop for windshield washer fluid. This little journey helped us discover that the best way to spend cupid's holiday is at a medieval torture museum.

Gravensteen Castle is an old count's castle from the 1100s. That's old as shit, you guys. It's situated right in the middle of Ghent, moat and all. 






No, really. They built the town around it.



The minute we walked into the place, I could tell Mitch was on the verge of pissing his pants with excitement. I handed him the camera, which is why the rest of our photos look like this:


I mean, it's nice and ceiling-y and all, but how many photos does one need of arches and architectural details? And did he take even ONE photo of the tower crappers where the toilet holes were open directly to the moat? Nope. And I know that's all anyone really cares about. Except torture!

The torture museum was the shizz, although we mostly just have pics of the ceiling and no pictures of the vast displays of thousand-year-old weapons. He did take a few snaps of the guillotine and the rack.





And he got one from the top of the castle, although I suspect that was just an excuse to capture more architecture.



The rest of Ghent was quaint as could be and we found a sweet little restaurant along the canal for lunch. Henry and I took over camera duties after that.

My Valentine. Awwwww. 

I call this piece, "Bridge with Kids in Front of it."

The title of this piece is, "Canal that People Used to Poop into and Old-Ass Buildings and Some Kids that Came Out of Me."

Mitch got the camera back.

This is right after my tiny baby twins each consumed a side of beef with frites. Because everything comes with frites in Belgium. And beer, so that's good.

We went to a pretty cool light museum, but by that time my eyeball was twitching from being out in public so long, so we didn't see all of it. Total number of times we had to find a bathroom for my tiny-bladdered daughter that day: 6. I don't know why she didn't use the open-air toilets back at the castle. What a princess.



We wrapped up our Valentine's Day with a viewing of slasher movies. Because that's how we roll.

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. The Whirled Peas Factory (TWPF) 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 into the TWPF 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 TWPF 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.