Tuesday, April 22, 2014

My Tiny Infant Baby Daughters

I just dropped them off at the airport for a field trip with their class to a beautiful Brazilian beach, where they will be working at a sea turtle preserve for the week. They will be saving baby turtles! Baby turtles are soooo cuuuuuuuuute!

They will be staying in a hotel on this beach. Whatever.

They packed their own bags, and when I was going over them, I came across a plastic container with holes in the top. 

"Olivia, why is this container in your bag?"

"In case they let me keep some endangered baby turtles."

I just hope turtles are gluten free.

Jack's preparing for college, my babies are gaining independence, and Henry is, uh, still shooting blow darts into our concrete walls. And what am I doing? NOT PLANNING FOR OUR NEXT ADVENTURE BECAUSE UNCLE SAM HATES ME AND HASN'T GIVEN US AN ASSIGNMENT YET, EVEN THOUGH WE ARE SUPPOSED TO LEAVE IN A FEW MONTHS. I'M SO UPSET I HAD TO PUT THE CAPS LOCK ON.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Monday, April 14, 2014

It's Monday

I thought it would be a good idea to update the blog, but nothing much has happened in the last week. Jack is closer to making a final decision on colleges in that he's narrowed it down to the west coast, with heavy leanings towards the Trojans. Sob. No, it's fine, really. Who cares about the dumb Huskies, anyway? 

I'm happy to report that my sickly daughter has gained a tiny bit of weight. Well, she had gained a bit of weight until she went to her friends' house over the weekend and ate lasagna. She denied eating gluten, but I saw it on the way back out. Ick. She also had an altercation at school. It started when Grace called me from the nurse's office, crying about getting hit in the head with a ball. Apparently the girl that threw it at her laughed at her when it happened, and had done it on purpose. I picked her up, only to realize it was hurt feelings and not a concussion that sent her home. About two hours later, I got an email saying there had been an incident in school involving Olivia and said ball-throwing girl. I still don't know what really happened, but Olivia's exact words were, "I was just holding out my fist and [name withheld] ran into it." That's her story and she's sticking to it, anyway.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Domestic Disturbance

This week, out of the blue, our beloved housekeeper of three years told us she is moving to Sao Paulo with her husband. With a kid headed off to college, and my anxiety about having people in my home that didn't come out of my body, I've decided not to hire anyone new. As I was outlining all the chores the kids were going to have to do, I mentioned to Olivia that she would have to start cleaning her own bathroom.

"No, I don't. My bathroom is always clean already!" She chirped.

This should be interesting.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Into the Last Half

He came, it was lovely. He left, it sucked. We got the terrible news that a dear friend of ours from Seattle passed away shortly after Mitch arrived here. A husband and father of three from fucking cancer, so our time together was made even more precious. Still, we are fine. Many blessings and all that shit, but you know what we don't have? On onward assignment. Yep, Mitch's tour ends in 19 weeks and we have no idea where we're going next. Have you poked out your eyes from my cheerful post yet?

Here's some good news. My amazing firstborn was accepted to all four of his top choice colleges. One in every corner of the US. We are very proud of him, and there are good things about each school.  Tulane, American, UW, and University of SoCal. Apparently it is a thing here to shave your head when you get accepted to college, so he came home from a Carnaval Block party with no hair.  Last week he went to Bahia, Salvador on the coast of Brazil for Model UN with his bald head and had a great time except for the part where he got his iPhone pickpocketed. And a wallet with  significant amount of money. But he saved some turtle eggs that were being washed out to sea, and you can't put a price on that!

Henry and Grace are happy and mellow, Olivia is a mess, which I am fairly certain will resolve itself in approximately 19 weeks. I've had a kid home sick every day for the last two weeks. It's Groundhog Day without the awesomeness that is Bill Murray.

I will end on a cheerful note and tell you that I haven't found one of these in the house in the last month or so, which is awesome! Don't worry, this one met an untimely death with Jack's boot.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

First Week Home

Today we went to Grace's piano recital, then to lunch at a Mexican restaurant we've been wanting to try. It sucked. We did our best to kill the horrible food with margaritas, though. 

Mostly we've just been doing a lot of this:

We're resting up for Carnaval!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Half Way

This week marks the half way point in this tour. I would love to say that the past six months have flown by, as many people said it would.  We've been up and down, but the truth is, the time is dragging.  We are all experiencing this Unaccompanied Tour with varying degrees of challenges. I can't speak for Mitch, but I have no doubts it's the worst on him.

Jack has kicked the ass of his last year of high school. He tutors the girls in math, does his volunteer work in the favela school, maintained his grades in the rigorous IB program, and has generally taken over the 'man of the house' role, which apparently includes keeping his younger brother in line in that special way only brothers know about. Example: after several hours of tutoring Henry in preparation for his math final, Henry came out of his room, quite pleased with his progress. "Jack is a really good math teacher, mom.  If I miss a problem, he punches me, so I try really hard not to miss any." While Jack knocked my socks off by getting a perfect score on his math SAT, he was much more excited last week when he got home from school and said, "Mom! I beat the Asian kid on my math quiz!"  Unfortunately, he has also been utilizing his drum set nearly every day, much to my bleeding ears' dismay.

Henry is your typical middle child, flying under the radar most of the time.  His voice is changing and he's almost as tall as me. He's funny and mostly sweet, although lately he's really been pissing me off by not letting me cuddle him. He scooters back and forth between our house and his friend's house, who lives a few blocks away. Sometimes he goes to Adam's several times a day, and sometimes he goes if he just doesn't like the contents of our refrigerator. He's teaching himself to play bass and guitar, but that's not nearly as painful to me as Jack's drumming.

Grace is grace. Kind, loving, innocent, and happy. She's into painting her nails and making miniatures out of polymer clay. She loves drama and piano, and has recently begun guitar lessons. She despises tennis lessons, but not as much as she despises other sports, so she perseveres. The tennis courts at the embassy are right outside of my office window and I can hear her laughing her way through her lessons with every ball she misses or hits into the cafeteria seating area. She makes brownies a lot.

Olivia has been my biggest challenge. She is sick all the time. We've been to several doctors, and while eliminating gluten has helped her stomachaches, she is still getting migraines. We have an appointment next week with a pediatric neurologist, but I think her problems are emotional. Last week she had plans to go to her friend's house after school with Grace. She had been looking forward to it all week, but when the time came to ride her bike over there, she burst into tears and said she didn't feel comfortable leaving the house. As a person who has experienced similar phobias, my heart broke. Grace went, but Olivia and I snuggled on my bed and watched a 'Cake Boss' marathon. I knew she was truly her mother's daughter after about an hour, when I said, "Olivia, are you feeling well enough to go to Caroline's house now?", and she replied, "After this episode.  A drag queen is going to jump out of the cake and I love drag queens." I know, right? I love drag queens, too! I hate her being sick all of the time. So far, we've eliminated nuts, gluten, MSG, nitrates, color dye, and food chemicals from her diet, and there has been definite improvement, but dealing with doctors whose English isn't great is tough. We will get there. She is also playing guitar and is having fun in the marimba band at school.

I'm doing better than I was. I no longer wake in the middle of the night to check the news of attacks in Kabul. I chat online with Mitch all the time, but our internet is either so slow or not working at all most of the time, so Skype and phone calls are rare. I often ask myself what the hell I am doing all alone in South America, but the answer makes itself clear to me when I see things like my kids playing with our gate guard's kid, speaking portuguese and laughing at his jokes. I miss Mitch all the time. I don't mind going to bed alone, but waking up alone is the worst.

So, that's where we are. Mitch will be home at the end of this week for a short visit, and he will surely enjoy our mostly vegetarian, gluten-free home. I kid, of course. No doubt he will be charring up all kinds of animal on the grill. Ohmygod! I forgot to tell you. I have muscle tone. I can plank for almost two minutes and can bench press the medium to small round thingies on the pole thingie at the gym. I hate exercise, but I hear it's good for you and whatnot, so I'm giving it a try, but I only do the exercises I want to do, so no stupid dumb stairs or treadmill bullshit. I've been trying to get the girls to join me in yoga. You guys should see Grace try to do a downward dog. It is absolutely precious.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Day Counting is Stupid

Half the reason I rarely blog is because I don't feel like looking at the number at the top, so I'm quitting keeping a counter as my blog post titles.  We are cruising along.  Olivia has been pretty miserable over the past year, and is currently way underweight for her height, so we've spent the last few weeks doing allergy testing.  So far we've found out she's gluten intolerant and allergic to peanuts.  Since she hates peanuts and peanutbutter, we never figured that one out. She's been very brave with all the poking and blood drawing and poop collecting.  Nothing bothered her.

40 pokes at this session, not a tear was shed.

When we went over the first round of results, Olivia didn't even bat an eye at the news of a gluten sensitivity and she didn't care about the peanut thing.  But when the doctor sat down and said, "do you have a dog?", her eyes filled with tears.  Yes, it turns out that my daughter, who prefers dog companionship to any human, is cruelly allergic to dogs.   She was inconsolable in the doctor's office.  Even the doc had tears in her eyes. She cried the whole way home.  "What about all my neighborhood dog friends?"  It was pretty awful.

We are definitely keeping Seamus.  He's a non-shedder, which helps, and I bought some special shampoo for the groomer to use on him.  She is no longer allowed to sleep with him or give him his bath.  We will find out the rest of the results at the end of the week.
Talking to her Dad.

Meanwhile, I have been having an acupuncturist come to the house twice a week for my carpal tunnel (another reason I avoid blogging is from hand pain, and I prefer playing Candy Crush to blogging most of the time).  I am so going to miss Brazil and all the services you can get in your house for very little money.

We have a guy who will come and give Seamus a bath and haircut for $15.  Sure, his haircuts are ugly (see above), but who does he have to impress?  None of the bitches in our neighborhood even give him the time of day, what with him having no balls and all.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Day One Hundred and Forty-Five

Well, Christmas came and went.  I wanted to do all of the traditional things we do at Christmas, like making cookies for Santa, dressing up and having standing rib roast on Christmas Eve, etc., but my heart wasn't in it, and neither were the kids'.  They jumped at my suggestion that we spend the entire two days in pajamas watching Christmas movies and making pizza.  It was way less depressing that way, anyway.  The other snag was that most of their Christmas gifts didn't arrive, even though they had been ordered at the beginning of November.

Five Sad Stockings
What did come was there new pjs and robes.   And the girls were strangely excited to get patterned duct tape.  A quick run to the grocery store yielded subpar chocolates.  It really was the saddest pile of gifts, but my kids were amazing and excited to have robes and stupid duct tape.  They all made coupons for each other and had fun opening those and reading them to each other.  One from Olivia was, "I will do three favors for you.  Not including chores.  Expires February 1."
Robes and pjs!  Woohoo.

The worst part of Christmas day was reading my newsfeed that Mitch's embassy in Kabul had been attacked by the Taliban, and then not being able to reach him for hours.  Only Jack knew what was going on, because he could see that I was upset.  All was well, no one was hurt, but I'm going to rate Christmas 2013 a twoout of five stars, and only because the kids were such good sports about everything, including the Christmas dinner of BLTs I made, which they exclaimed were the best BLTs they had ever eaten. God, I love my kids.

Alas, a few days after Christmas, the mail finally arrived and the girls got their little iPad minis so they can Facetime in style with their Daddy.
They boys both got new guitars, but the best gift of all was the arrival of old friends from Seattle.  We had a wonderful time hanging with Sharon and her two amazing teenagers.  
After a relaxing visit, Sharon, her kids, and Jack headed to Rio for a week of fun in the sun.

And now you are all caught up and we are firmly into 2014, which promises to be a crazy year for us.  Jack has been accepted (early action) to Tulane University so far, and he is awaiting to hear from the other colleges he applied to. ONLY ONE MORE WEEK of vacation, and then the kids will be back in school, yo!  I know I suck at updates, but you can always catch me on Fridays over at my work blog, because I get paid to do that, so that one wins over this one, I'm afraid.   Cheers!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Day One Hundred and Sixteen

So, I know it's been a long time.  Three weeks of Mitch being here, then school finals, holiday programs, work, sick kids, blahblahblah.  Being a single parent is way more work than I ever thought it would be.  My God, the driving.  Why do kids need to go to so many different places?

Okay, so here is a little glimpse of Mitch's time home in photos.  We planned very little while he was home, and just mostly hung out doing normal stuff in reverse from the olden days.  I went to work and he stayed home and cooked and drove kids and poured me a glass of wine when I walked in the door. Which RULED.

The dog did not leave his side the entire time he was home. He cried for days after he left again.

This happened.  A lot.

I put on some eyelashes and we went to the Marine Ball

The kids received medals from the Ambassador for sharing their Dad with the State Department

Thanksgiving with our besties.

On Mitch's last weekend home, we went with a group of friends to an adventure park.  I know.  Ew.  But, we stayed in pousadas, which are like little rustic apartments.  There was a campground there, too, but like I said, ew.  We had a great time.  The kids all signed up for rapelling down the waterfall cliffs, and I signed up for a change of underwear, but as luck would have it, it rained too much and it was too dangerous, so YAY! Rapelling was cancelled.  The kids still got to go ziplining.

On the way to Salto Corumba, the adventure camp, we saw this overturned truck.  Driving in Brazil is dangerous, yo.

Outside our pousada.  Not a leaf!

There were two waterslides at the place.  As you can see, the kids had a terrible time.  Also, rules about how many kids can go on the slide at a time aren't a big deal.




Not shown: Me throwing up as my babies ziplined across a waterfall with a flooded river below.

There was an ice cream bar at Salto Corumba where you could build your own sundae, so THAT didn't suck.

On the way home, there was another overturned truck.  Apparently that's a thing here.

And then the inevitable hard goodbye.

That part DID suck.