Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Waterfalls and roller coasters

This past weekend we hiked to a waterfall near our house.

While there, I recognized the surgeon who did my knee surgery a few years ago. I'm sure he was happy to see me out hiking on my strong and healthy knee.

Happy kids, hiking. We also saw a couple of hang-gliders. So cool! We got to talk to the pilots and the kids want to try that out. Um, I think we'll hold off for a while. 

We also went to an amusement park with water slides and roller coasters and other fun rides.

There were many opportunities to SCREAM!!! And laugh. There was some complaining. But we will focus on the laughing. And screaming. The above photo, that's my husband and 6 yr-old in the back whooping it up.

Eight more days until school starts. But who's counting? Ok. ME! I am totally counting. 

I hope my daughter C gets rid of the shiner she got 4 days ago. She's a toughie, playing with all the boys and their friends. The rainbow of blues, blacks, yellows and greens on her eyelid are very pretty. But her new teacher doesn't need to see that side of her beauty just yet.

Friday, August 27, 2010

A year ago...

A year ago (today) was my husband's last day as an editor at the newspaper where he worked. Or as my dear, late, grandfather used to call it, "the paragraph factory."

Our year-long health insurance ends and we've been living without dental insurance for the year already. We just floss the teeth we want to keep.

No, actually, we can now get medical and dental ins. through my husband's current employer. Because losing our insurance counts as a "qualifying event."

I am trying to be positive. But a list of things that bug me keeps gathering in my head. It starts like this:

Things that are STUPID:

1. Insurance companies
2. Explanation of benefits sheets - EOB
3. Dogs that eat toilet paper rolls
4. Mosquitos
5. Cable companies/Internet service providers/Phone company customer service
6. The stupid register (it gets a double stupid)
7. The bikes hanging from the ceiling in my garage that I hit my head on
8. Migraines

Um, that'll do for now.

Things that are SMART:
1. My husband and kids (Awww.)
2. Fresh raspberry pie.
3. Walks in the woods.
4. Monarch butterfly caterpillars and milkweed
5. Label-makers
6. Coffee
7. Needlenose pliers
8. Dental floss.

I'm stretching. Time to go.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

Infection in the webbing between his toes. Vet says soak 10 minutes 2x/ day for a week. I'd look away from the camera too. Poor guy.

Monday, August 23, 2010

The dingo ate my baby, and other birthday fun.

The final birthday party is complete.

We had a backyard camping sleep-over with 5 friends of 10-yr-old son B coming over to whoop it up. This was our first sleep-over. I mean with more than one child sleeping over.

Here's how that went down. (It was good. Busy, but good.)

4:00 pm All five boys arrive with sleeping bags and pillows by 4:00. Parents slow down enough to open the car door and kick kids out, then speed off laughing and waving. I think I hear the word, "Sucker," spoken.

4:45 My husband gets home from work. Yes, up until then, it is me and my three kids plus five extra 10 year old boys.

5:00 We all get swimsuits on and head to the pool.

5:20 After swimming a few minutes, thunder is heard and all swimmers are ordered out of the pool. Darn.

6:00 Water gun fights in our yard. Setting up tents. Archery. Tire swinging. Basketball. Tag. Then we have pizza.
7:00 More tag. Cake and ice cream. Presents.
8:00 Marshmallow roasting, campfire. More tag (in the dark, with flashlights and lanterns.)

9:00 Into the tent to play Uno and cards. Raining starts.

10:30 Me inside with the two younger kids. My husband outside in a separate tent near the sleep-over kids. Just in case. Raining continues.

12:30 (in the morning) My son (so kind) tells one of the kids that there are coyotes in our woods and that coyotes have been known to eat babies. (Nice.) The other kid starts crying. There are many mosquitoes in the tent. There is a puddle in the tent. All kids drag their sleeping bags inside and sleep on the floor in B's room. Nervous coyote boy backs himself under the bed to sleep. Aww.

7:30 am Pancakes and bacon!!

8:30 Kids playing Wii.

9:00 All parents show up and ask how it went.

"Great," I reply, "they were awesome."

And they were. But I sure am glad birthday season is over.

And now we keep joking about coyotes, because we are terrible.

"Honey, is that a coyote in the backyard eating 17 babies?"

"No, mom, the coyotes are all at the maternity ward."

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

S'all good.


We are in this for the long haul.

So, Foreign Service, you might put us on lists. You might make us wait. But WE will decide if we are done with you. And so far, you can stay.

Because we are good people. Maybe we didn't go to Ivy League schools and maybe we don't speak many languages (I'm a 3/3 in Pig Latin though and a 4/4 in Crabby Wife), but we are good, kind, fair, hard-working, honest, ethical, intelligent people. You could trust us with your children or small animals. Maybe not your houseplants though. If the FS doesn't end up being the path we choose, we will be ok. Happy even. We will thrive. The FS will not be our undoing.

I want to thank the kind people who have reached out with encouraging words. You have been so nice. I appreciate it more than you can imagine.

So. It really is all good. I am very lucky.

Oesday isthay akemay ouyay antway otay ukepay?

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Lost my wing-nuts.

My husband has been gone all weekend again.

He forgot both cell phones.

My mother didn't feel like coming over to visit (help).

I grocery shopped, went to Toys r Us to redeem gift cards (the worst gift ever for parents of the birthday child!). Took the kids to Karate Kid (the new one - it's good!). I took the kids to a Native American festival (Hello, many animal hides), a Scottish Highland festival (Hello, many kilted knees of men eating haggis playing bagpipes), and Founders Day Fireworks at 9:45 at night (Hello, mosquitos). Can I get an Amen?!

I am going to do my best to be positive and happy and not say negative things when he gets home later.

We'll see if he thinks I've lost my wing-nuts. Or that I'm drunk or medicated.

I'll let you know how long that lasts.

Friday, August 13, 2010

I've bonked.

I have been thinking about why I have been feeling resentment toward this process.

Here's the thing.

When we started Candidacy Numero Uno we were all, "La, la, la, exciting, ooh, we made it past the test, ooh, now past the essays, wowwie, now, past the OA! And look, based on the stats, a 5.4 will get us in. And fast."

But how quickly things change.

That 5.4 became doggie kibble because the economy went into the crapper and all those smartie-pants people who used to have better things to do thought they would apply, just like we did. And then they spoke Arabic and Mandarin and were veterans and zippity-quick, up the ladder they flew, and down the chute we sailed.

So, Candidacy Numero Dos. A little more grouchingly waiting for each step of the process. Our eyes are more wide open. And more aware that this career may not happen, despite all the time and effort. That sometimes timing and luck and the economy and just fate can be enough to make it happen. Plus hard work. But I don't want my husband to be the guy who takes the test ten times. 

The thing that makes me resentful and tired is that I went into this thinking I was in for a sprint and when I was near the finish line, they moved it and told me, "Ha, ha, Sucka', this isn't a 5K, it's a marathon. Actually, we may decide it's an ultra-marathon, you know, where you run through the desert for 100 miles. But we'll let you know. Sometime."

I am a walker. I trained for the 5K and I am hitting the wall. I don't have my energy bars or gel or goo (look at me sounding all official, like I know what that crap is) or enough water. And, hello?, where is the bathroom?

Thursday, August 12, 2010

German Test



97/183 on the PD register with a 5.4

Next step, looking for an invitation to the OA.

Birthday pie.

My eldest son B turned 10 yesterday. So we are officially in an "even" year again. The kids are 6, 8 and 10. Last year they were all odd. Ha ha, yeah, they were!

The kid wanted a blueberry pie instead of a cake.

At 10:30 last night I heard puking.

I don't want to talk about it.

The. freaking. END!

Sorry, nothing on the language test yet. I'll let ya know. :-)

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Yes, Complaining.

My husband took the language test last Thursday. No, we haven't heard anything yet.

He went away Friday night with our oldest son for the weekend for a cub scout camping trip. They were gone two nights. I stayed home with our other two children. It's great that my husband and son got one-on-one father-son time. But it was tiring for me, right after wrapping up the big language push. One-on-one for him, means two-on-one for me.

This coming weekend my husband is doing the same thing with our younger son. And again, I am staying home with the other two children. The camping child will come home with stories of awards in marksmanship, b-bguns fired, archery, whittling, crafts, swimming, campfire stories, roasted marshmallows, friends made, nature hikes, meals shared in the dining hall under the watchful eye of freaky taxidermied deer. Fun, fun, fun.

I can't compete with that. Apparently, mom isn't fun. (Apparently she slips into writing about herself in third person sometimes.)

Last night, during bedtime hugs, my 8 yr old son told me he was bored this summer and ready to go back to school. While I think that's a load of you know what, I can't help it, I take that personally. These kids have been swimming, to the summer recreation program, playing with friends, gone to Missouri, gone to Grandma's, gone to Grandpa's and Step-grandma's, gone to chess camp/ video game design camp, gone to fencing camp, gone to gymnastics camp, we got a new basketball hoop, plus we have three birthdays, I mean come on!!!!!!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

We recycled our cat.

I was editing my blog's "about me" section to show that I've been married 11 years rather than 10 years and decided that I should also change the profile to show that our family no longer includes a dog and cat. Just a dog.

We recycled our cat. Recycled!? (you say) What can they make from recycled cat? A park bench?

Here's the thing. I went to the vet nearly three years ago looking for a kitten. They said, "Hey, we have this nice adult cat that needs a home. He is neutered, has all shots, is declawed, microchipped, blah, blah, used car salesman pitch." Marshall was cute. A grey cat with a white tuxedo, socks and a mustache.

The only thing is, he would bite when you pet him too much. But we thought he'd get used to us. Because he was only one year old and he had been living in a cage in the lobby of the vet's office.

So we loved that darn cat for three years. The kids only wanted love, or even "like", in return. They wanted to not be bitten by him. They knew Marshall would never sleep with them, never sit on their laps. In all the time we had him, Marshall never sat on my lap or my husband's lap either.

He started biting us even when we weren't petting him. He'd just walk up to us and bite...CHOMP...out of the blue. He would wait by the door to escape and then run for the woods. When we went after him (he was declawed after all) he would turn and hiss and bite. He drew blood on the kids. All of them. He bit the dog as the dog was sleeping. Poor dog. 

He would bite the dog's ankle when the dog was eating. And Marshall started peeing on our carpet in the basement. No matter how clean the litter box was kept.

So, we knew that Marshall was not happy. And we weren't happy. I felt so terrible. And so guilty. I called the vet's office and explained what was going on. They said for whatever reason, Marshall was stressed. They said we could bring him back and they would try to find Marshall another home (with people who like biting cats, I guess.) So for a week, my husband and I started having conversations with the kids about what would happen and why.

I hoped that my husband would actually take Marshall to the vet's office, but he ended up being busy with work and (surprise!) German, so it fell to me. And it's summer, so the kids are home. So guess how that went? Me and three kids giving away the family pet. Not so good.

We gathered all Marshall's toys, food bowls, extra food, everything was going to be donated. We coaxed Marshall into his pet carrier. He was meowing and reaching his front legs out and trying to get out. My daughter was crying and saying that she didn't want him to go and that Marshall was telling us he wanted to stay. My two boys were getting all teary-eyed. I was starting to well-up. I called my husband and left him a voice mail at work telling him how lousy it is that he left this to me and that I hate making the kids feel this way. Sob sob.

So I load the three kids and the cat in the car. We are driving the 20 minutes to the vet's office and Marshall is howling, just meowing non-stop. I'm silently weaping, thinking about the emotional scars I'm searing into the kids. C is not very silently crying and telling me she doesn't want to get rid of Marshall. B is trying to console Marshall. S is looking out the window and wiping his cheek. I am wondering how I am going to manage when we get to the actual vet's office. Should the kids come in or stay in the car?

And then it happened. When I was at my wit's end, God gave me a gift. And the gift was pee and poop. I'm sorry, but it is true.

All of a sudden. Marshall was silent. And then there was a smell. And 10 year old B said, "Ewww. Oh, Marshall!! He just pooped! And peed!" Then all three kids went "Ewww!" And they laughed and grimmaced and rolled down their car windows. They rode the last four blocks to the vet's office with their heads out the car window, pretending to gasp for air. When we got to the office, I carried Marshall's pet carrier in, pee dripping. The kids carried all the gear and food. I told the kids to say good-bye and they did. "Bye, Marshall. Bye, Marshall. Bye, Marshall." No tears.

That darn cat, all we did was try to love him. For three years. And he bit us. He was not going to leave us as 'Marshall the Saint.' And I was not going to be 'Evil Mommy.'

Now, Marshall has found a home. We wish him all the best. Although the vet did say he was back in the office for some stitches after jumping through a glass coffee table at his new home. Oh, Marshall, you need to chill, brother.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

8 minutes

My husband was a wrestler in high school. He said that a wrestling match could easily be decided in 6 minutes. The quicker the match, the more dramatic the defeat (or the victory, depending on how you look at it).

So today, his German phone test took just 8 minutes. That should be plenty of time to determine he's a level 3, right?

He's not optimistic though. Eight minutes felt too quick. And when you compare it to the hours and hours and hours he studied, it seems even shorter.

We'll find out in a week or two how he did. If he passes, he'll be within range for an offer, but just barely. Either way, as of 9:08 this morning, the German study is over, at least for now. We're happy to have him back, and so is he.

Time to move on (we hope) to the next landmark in our journey of worry and waiting: the Oral Assessment. We should find out in September if his FSOT and essays were enough to get him an invite to another OA. He scored his 5.4 on Nov. 12, so we're hoping he'll get a chance to score higher this November.

Here's a happy photo to leave you with from our anniversary:

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Crabby wife.

The big kahuna german test is tomorrow at 9 a.m.

I already got my passing grade of 3 in the language of Crabby Wife. It is spoken world wide, but I believe my fluency has really blossomed these past few weeks.

I'll be vacating the premises tomorrow during test time.

I guess we have to wait a week to hear if it's thumbs up or down. The PD register is at 172. So put that in your leiderhosen and smoke it.

*I tapped this out on my iPod touch, sorry if it looks terrible.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Another month of summer vacay.

Last night I said these words to my husband, "I am ready for everyone to go back to school."

He laughed. Then asked, "Even me?"

"Yes," I said. "You also. All humans. Out. Anything that speaks. But the dog can stay."

I just want silence. For a little while.


bah. humbug.