Tuesday, September 30, 2008

google is a hypochondriac

I want to thank everyone for all of the birthday wishes and thoughts sent to me over the past few days and I want to apologize for being such a slacker and not responding to them! How rude can a person be? Seriously? Someone should teach me some etiquette and manners.

The truth is that I am so incredibly tired these days that I'm actually falling asleep when the kids go down for the night. I have to force myself to wake up to clean the dinner dishes and then I crash again about an hour later. If we have to go out during the day I'm pretty much toast by the time we get home. It's not like my life is that labor intensive either, but this is a far cry from the insomnia that I normally have.

Along with being tired I've been having some wicked joint and muscle pain and have been having weakness in my fingers, all of which make it hard to type. I have been feeling a little better in the past few days but not 100% by any means. Normally I would freak out about all of this but I've decided that I'm feeling this way because of the change in weather (the high tomorrow will be 49) and the fact that I have been running my body and mind into the ground for the past few months without any kind of break.

However, a couple of days ago the irrational side of me came out for a few minutes and I googled my symptoms, just to be sure that no website that included the phrases "black mold" or "go to the ER IMMEDIATELY" or "imminent death is possible" came up. I didn't search too hard but there didn't seem to be anything alarming on the search results page so I x-ed of of the window and fell asleep.

Then today I logged on again and went to check my google mail and the blogs I read and under my "suggested reading" list, brought to you by google, were 3 blogs. It took me awhile to figure out why these blogs in particular would be suggested to me as they were all about living with MS and Fibromyalgia. Apparently, based on the 3 symptoms that I typed in the search bar 2 days ago, google thinks I have one of these diseases. Isn't google smart? Not so much smart as it is a big fat drama queen?

THIS is why America is so jacked up these days. We have everyone else telling us what we should be worried about and we are constantly being told that the issues we have should be so much bigger than they really are, causing us to unnecessarily freak the heck out, all while making a profit? I'll be the first to admit I can be a little... um... dramatic, but come on! I can't even imagine what it is like to live with one of these diseases, and I'm not taking either one lightly because I personally know people who deal with them on a daily basis. I just think it's very interesting that based off of 3 things that I typed into a search bar, google thinks that it knows what I need to read. Girl, you don't know me!

Just for kicks, I'm going to start googling some crazy stuff just to see what kind of blogs it is going to tell me I need to read. And then I'm going to email people the most random things possible to see what kind of advertisements pop up on my email pages. I think my favorite so far was the ad that read, "Are you STILL in sin?" from some cracked out e-church that was next to the email that my friend A, who is a pastor, sent me. Good times, google. Good times. So if you get an email from me that simply says "beets" or "one flip flip" or "used pistachio shells", don't worry. It probably means there's nothing I haven't seen or want to see on any of the 8 channels we have here and I'm in need of entertainment.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

to my handsome man

You are 3 now and have been for a couple of weeks. Please forgive me for not writing your birthday letter earlier. I don't want you to hold this against me in 10 years. I can hear it now, "CB got her birthday letter right after her birthday! She is your favorite, isn't she? I knew it! Why do you hate me so much?! I wish I was never born!" Yeah yeah yeah. The fact is, your birthday came and went so fast this year that I haven't even had a chance to write your letter.

Even though you had a freaking awesome birthday party, you got gypped big time this year. You are the only kid I know whose birthday was 9 hours shorter than all other birthdays out there. That's what happens when your mom plans for everyone to fly across the world just before 12 am on your birth date and you get to your destination six and a half hours before your birth date technically ends. That's just one more thing you can hold against me when you are older. I am still amazed how you did on that transatlantic flight but I really shouldn't be. You have been such a trooper this year and I am more than proud of how you have handled all of these changes and all of this transition.

Something happened to you when you turned 3 and we moved back to "your" Germany. You turned from a toddler into this little man who has a vocabulary that rivals most high schoolers (which really isn't saying much these days, but it sounds good...) and who can speak in complete paragraphs. I could do without the excessive bossy-ness though. I am the one who is supposed to be bossy and I don't like the competition. I understand that you want to do everything on your own but you need to understand that I am just not ready to let go and let you do everything on your own. It's going to take a long time for me not to see you as that tiny 5 pound baby you were just 3 years ago.

3 years ago we were experiencing the biggest struggle we have to date. Getting you to grow and eat and getting through the stress and fear of almost losing you at birth was almost more than any mother could take. You made me grow up fast and learn lessons I never thought I would have to learn and you continue to do so today. Because of you I have learned to follow my instincts and go with my gut because it has always been right, even when people tell me I'm wrong. I've always known you have needed something more from me than most kids need from their parents and while that is incredibly overwhelming and draining at times, I know that's the way it needs to be so I go with it.

Some people think that you are spoiled and that I need to be harder on you but I know you like the back of my hand and I know those things are not true. I think it bothers people that I rarely punish you but what those people don't get is that you are nearly impossible to punish because you simply don't fit the parenting book model of what children should act like and how they should respond to punishment. You just don't need that traditional "punishment" like most kids do. You have never fit into any kind of mold and for right now, I think we are doing ok. You are a good kid, despite what you may think because of how many times I ask you a day if you are being a good boy or a naughty boy and how many times a day you inform me that you are being naughty. At least you are aware... I guess.

Thank you for being a challenge and for making me work to be one step ahead of you. You keep me awake and alert and force me to be attentive which makes me a better mother because there is simply no room for slacking off. Believe me, you have caught my errors on more than one occasion and really, there's nothing better than a 2 year old making you feel like an idiot. Quite honestly it freaks me out that you can operate an iPhone better than I can. And that you can work a DVD player. And that you can work a computer. And that you know 2 languages. And that you can put together a real puzzle in less than 3 minutes.

You are perfect in every single way and responsible for so much laughter and joy that it makes me hurt to think of what life could possibly be like if you weren't in it. Thank you for being my child. I love you more than words can say and I hope that one day you realize just how special you really are to me. But seriously, could you back off on the bossy stuff? Just a little bit? Please?

Sunday, September 14, 2008


I haven't fallen off the face of the earth, I promise. We are trying to get settled here in Germany and that's a process that always takes longer than I expect or want. I can't believe we are back. Honestly, even though I knew the date was fast approaching, it didn't hit me that we were actually leaving until I locked the door to my parent's house for the last time and drove away.

I had been making fantastic progress on organizing and cleaning all of our junk in the week before we were leaving until I got sick. It started as one of those "Oh, I must have slept with my mouth open" sore throats you get in the morning and turned into a full blown raging sinus infection from hell. It was so bad that I was completely down for the count 2 days before we had to fly. I couldn't even lift my head and every time I did, I cursed the Almond (pronounced ALL-mond, thank you. NOT Am-ond) gods for making me sick. Freaking almond harvesting season. Why does it have to come every year?!

Compounding my misery was the fact that I decided to self diagnose and self medicate my sinus infection with antibiotics that I never took last time I had a sinus infection. Note to self: Biaxin is not your friend. It will hurt you and make you want to die. Feeling like you are going to throw up everything you have eaten in the past 7 weeks while having a sinus infection is almost as pleasent as having a root canal done without Novocaine. Almost.

The day before we flew I sucked it up and called to make an appointment with my doctor. I must have sounded as miserable as I felt because I was able to get an appointment 2 hours later. When I showed up the doctor was like "Wow, you look amazing" and I was like "Shut your face and be nice to me because my insurance is going to pay you $117 for you to tell me the obvious and write 2 lines on a prescription note." $117 for 5 flipping minutes. I should have been a doctor. To be fair, he did spend about a half an hour with me, mostly because we were shooting the breeze and talking about the kids and my husband. He's known both my husband and I for almost ever and he's always interested to hear how we are doing and what my current thoughts are on the political drama going on... something you should not ask me, or even think about asking me right now because I will not give you the answer you want to hear and I will talk down to you and make you feel stupid. I can't help it. It just happens.

He only made it through the conversation alive because I knew he had the drugs and I wanted them (and because he actually agreed with me on almost everything, which is a very rare thing these days). When we were done chatting he told me he was going to see if he had any samples of the meds he wanted to give me because they were the "good" ones, so good in fact that he didn't think my insurance would cover them. That right there should have been a red flag or a warning to take them with caution but it didn't catch on and ended up spending the better part of that day and the next all kinds of jacked up on Mountain Dew and a decongestant that should have simply been labeled "Methamphetamine". Good God almighty, that was some serious stuff. I wouldn't have drank the Mountain Dew if I had know that those pills were going to do the same thing to me as if I had shot up speed.

The only pleasant side effect from the pills was that I did get a lot of packing done and made up for some of the prior day that I had spent flat on my back. I didn't get everything done though. There was so much to do. So much to clean. So many people to say goodbye to. I didn't get to do it all and I feel bad for that. I forgot to pack more than I care to mention and the house is a serious serious disaster of broken toys, out grown shoes and tulle left overs. I feel bad for my mom who has to clean it all up.

The final few hours before we left were much more emotional than I expected them to be. I was, once again, uprooting my family and this time we had a lot more invested than we ever had before. W had made some really good friends and I was taking him away from them and a school that he loved. I had actually spent more time in CA this time than I have anywhere else in the past 9 years and I was leaving some solid relationships and the place where CB grew from a baby to a toddler. We were leaving the place that she learned to crawl and walk (something I didn't think she would ever do), the place where W saw his daddy for the first time in 10 months, the families that had consistently stuck by us through all of the sickness and pain through the previous 11 months and the place where I did some serious growing.

After I shut the door and drove away, and had to go back and do it again because I forgot to put my cell phone in the diaper bag, I had a good cry. I only needed 5 minutes of being sad before I could put on my game face and remember all we had to look forward to. Then the panic attack hit. Having one while driving 85 miles an hour is never a good thing. If you know me, you know that I absolutely hate to fly. Hate isn't even a strong enough word for it. To me, flying is the ultimate in giving up control and we control freaks don't give up our power very well. I only fly because I have to but if I could take a boat, I totally would. After bargaining with God for a couple of minutes I was able to calm down and then I received the sign I needed.

On the other side of the highway there was a convoy of National Guard troops heading to or from their latest training exercise. That might not seem like a big deal, but it is too me. That is my sign that everything is going to be ok. For the past 4 or 5 times that I've had a freak out session, I have seen a convoy of military vehicles within minutes and it's not like they should be traveling around me, as I'm never near a military installation when they drive by. But for some reason, they are always there. Maybe they are my angels. I don't know, I don't care. I just know that when they are around, it's all going to be ok.

And it is all ok. We are home and we are safe, despite the sheer torture of descending from 35,000 feet with a sinus infection. If you ever want to know what it feels like to have your eyeball pulled through your nose, that will give you a good indication. And my kids are healthy, except for the teething, and thriving better than I ever imagined they could.

Walking into this house was like walking into a time capsule of one of the most challenging times in my life. We left Germany at the height of CB's medical mystery that made her scream 20 hours a day and everything was just as it was when we shut the door that last time. It's been so nice to put those reminders away for good. To pack up all of the burp rags and baby gear and to hide the baby toys is just confirmation of how far we have come and what is going to happen next and believe me, I can't wait for what is going to happen next.

Thursday, September 11, 2008


We made it back to Germany! The trip was pretty uneventful, except for the part where my sinuses almost exploded when we were landing. Let's talk about what a party that was. I knew I should have had a bloody mary with breakfast. My head is still killing me so I will save the stories for when I have successfully weaned myself from the decongestants and can think clearer.

Thanks to everyone for your well wishes and prayers for safe travel! They worked!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

party's over, shut it down

Last weekend we celebrated W's birthday and what a celebration it was. Bounce house, snow cones, swimming, tons of food (really, WAY too much food) and family and friends... it was awesome. I hope everyone had a good time. They better have had a good time because I didn't do all of that work for nothing! I know I had fun despite it being a crazy day. So crazy that about 90 minutes after people started showing up, I realized I didn't have a stitch of makeup on and that is seriously socially unacceptable in my book! I can't believe I did an entire party that way. I should have done everyone a favor and at least put on some mascara really fast. Oh well. There are worse things in life, I guess. At least I didn't give anyone food poisoning (I hope...).

Mad, mad props and thanks to everyone who helped me out to pull this thing off-- I clearly needed the help. I know you guys didn't intend to spend the first hour of the party running to the store for snow cone flavoring or cutting fruit or decorating but I could not have done it without you! Thank you so much to M's parents for opening your home so we could have a pool to use and space for the kids to run. Everything looked beautiful! And thanks to M's mom for making the cookies for the ice cream sandwiches and my sister for helping put the sandwiches together. I'm glad we figured out only 7 sandwiches in that putting them together when it was 104 degrees out was probably not the best idea.

Since everyone has been clamoring for the recipes, I'll go ahead and post them here because I'm lazy and don't have the energy to answer each email individually. But first, here are some pictures, for your viewing pleasure:





Blow the fire out!



Make sure all the cars are in a line!

W with his bestest friend T.

Beef, Chicken and Veggie Kabobs

Beef Kabob Marinade
**note: I don't do measurements, sorry!**
I use Beef Sirloin cut into 1 inch pieces, with all of the fat trimmed off.
- equal parts Worcestershire Sauce and balsamic vinegar
- half as much soy sauce (low sodium, preferably)
- some olive oil
- minced garlic
- dried oregano, basil, thyme, celery salt, sea salt, ground pepper and red pepper flakes, if you like to spice things up.

Throw it all in a ziplock bag and turn the bag a few times. Then marinate at least 2 hours. I like to marinate mine over night.

Chicken Kabob Marinade
ganked from Bobby Flay's Veggie Kabobs with Herb and Garlic Marinade which he ganked from VegNews Magazine.
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup lemon or lime juice
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Whisk together all ingredients in a small bowl. The marinade can be prepared in advance and held covered in the refrigerator for up to 7 days.

Do not marinade chicken or fish in this marinade for more than an hour and an hour is pushing it. The lemon will start to cook the meat and will make it taste funky if it is marinaded too long.


Wild Rice Salad (I used a mixture of wild rice, white rice, red rice and brown rice instead of plain wild rice)

Mediterranean Salad (the couscous one)

Fresh Corn and Tomato Salad

Fresh Fruit with Raspberry Lime Sauce Dipping Sauce



Ice Cream Sandwich Cookies (cookie ideas shamelessly stolen from SmittenKitchen.com)
Big, Fat, Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookie
Recipe from AllRecipes.com
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 egg
1 egg yolk
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Grease cookie sheets or line with parchment paper.
  2. Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt; set aside. In a medium bowl, cream together the melted butter, brown sugar and white sugar until well blended.
  3. Beat in the vanilla, egg, and egg yolk until light and creamy. Mix in the sifted ingredients until just blended.
  4. Stir in the chocolate chips by hand using a wooden spoon. Drop cookie dough 1/8 cup at a time onto the prepared cookie sheets. Cookies should be about 3 inches apart.
  5. Bake for 15 to 17 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the edges are lightly toasted. Cool on baking sheets for a few minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.

Chocolate Sugar Cookies
From Retro Desserts, as part of a homemade Oreo recipe.
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened Dutch process cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) room- temperature, unsalted butter
1 large egg

  1. Set two racks in the middle of the oven. Preheat to 375 degrees.
  2. In a food processor, or bowl of an electric mixer, thoroughly mix the flour, cocoa, baking soda and powder, salt, and sugar. While pulsing, or on low speed, add the butter, and then the egg. Continue processing or mixing until dough comes together in a mass.
  3. Take rounded teaspoons of batter [For oversized ones, I used a 1/8 cup scoop] and place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet approximately 2 inches apart. With moistened hands, slightly flatten the dough. Bake for 9 minutes, rotating once for even baking. Set baking sheets on a rack to cool.
If you have any questions, shoot me an email. I can't promise a quick turn around time for a response, but I'll do my best to get back to you in the next few days. We are leaving very, very soon and I'm running around like a mad woman trying to get everything done and packed before we leave. After I'm done shipping everything I need to ship to Germany, the price of stamps should be going down because I've spent enough money with the USPS to sustain their 2009 fiscal year budget. How we have accumulated this much stuff over the past 11 months is beyond me. Funny how we only came over here with 6 suitcases and a stroller...