Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Tuesday 5: It's Christmas Edition

1. Happy Festivus. We celebrated by cleaning house, which is a feat of strength in itself. I’m pretty sure the grumbling by the Little Explorers counts as their opportunity for Airing of Grievances.

2. Today is also our British neighbor lady’s birthday. We rounded up the Little Explorers, The International Man of Intrigue tuned his guitar, and we walked down the street for birthday caroling, including, “We Wish You a Happy Birthday.” I was a little disappointed we didn’t get any figgy pudding in return—it seems like something British people should have lying around.

3. If you're friends with me on Facebook, we’ve done the “What’s your favorite Christmas song?” question. How about this one- what’s your favorite Christmas movie? I LOVE “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.” Typing the title, it takes all my power just to keep myself from typing quotes. I also love the movie “White Christmas.” We’re waiting until the day Amelia Earhart, Gertrude Bell, and Laura Ingalls Wilder can sing “Sisters” together, while Arthur Dent accompanies on the piano. Plus, Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye aren’t hard on the eyes in that movie. Best thing? “White Christmas” is referenced in “Christmas Vacation” when Clark says, “Where do you think you're going? Nobody's leaving. Nobody's walking out on this fun, old-fashioned family Christmas. No, no. We're all in this together. This is a full-blown, four-alarm holiday emergency here. We're gonna press on, and we're gonna have the hap, hap, happiest Christmas since Bing Crosby tap-danced with Danny fucking Kaye. And when Santa squeezes his fat white ass down that chimney tonight, he's gonna find the jolliest bunch of assholes this side of the nuthouse.”

4. Christmas in the military is weird. It’s a constant state of rolling with the punches. There are Christmas traditions, but you never know where or if they will even take place. When I was growing up, it was always the same. Midnight Mass, coming home to lots of snacks, and getting up to open presents at the crack of dawn. As we got older, we started opening our gifts on Christmas Eve. There were always mom’s homemade cinnamon rolls. Cinnamon rolls with powdered sugar icing taste like Christmas to me. On Christmas day, we’d spend time with my dad’s aunt’s family. We’d come home and eat the tamales his cousin made for dinner and wash them down with cinnamon rolls for dessert. In later years, one of the kid cousins started making kibbeh to honor her Lebanese half. Let me tell you, kibbeh and a tamale on a plate might sound weird, but it works. Now, halfway across the U.S. or more from our families, we have tried to create our own traditions. We ate Chinese on Christmas every year when we lived in California. That didn’t work after we moved away—nothing was open. The last three years have been measured chaos- one year of an empty house with a borrowed tree in California, and the next with an empty house and some home made decorations in Sri Lanka, both with bags packed, ready for a move around the world. Last year, I was in New York with a four pound Laura Ingalls Wilder, coaxing her to grow so she could get out of the NICU so we could go home to the rest of the family in Florida. So there is always something different. We try to keep The International Man of Intrigue’s family tradition of  eating Mexican food and drinking margaritas on Christmas Eve, either before or after Mass. Santa always brings Legos, and underwear in stockings, and, no matter what, we do our best to be together, or at least be close to the ones we are with.

5. Happy Birthday, Jesus. What do you get a guy who is over 2,000 years old?  (That one was written by the International Man of Intrigue, who is tired and ready for me to wrap this up so we can go to bed.)

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Tuesday 5: Of Birth Parent Letters and Holiday Hip Hop

1. Every six months we send pictures and a letter to our adoption agency for Laura Ingalls Wilder’s birth parents. Finding the pictures is fun. I enjoy the stroll down the last six months of memory lane. She stood up. She had her first Halloween. There was her first birthday. The letter is much harder. At the request of her parents, ours is a closed adoption. I have her parents’ names, ages, and a brief, worry free medical history. That’s it. I actually know more about the friend of a friend I met at a Christmas party last weekend. It is momentous, massive, heart breaking, breath stopping, and amazing to think that complete strangers gave us their baby. All that is true, but when I try to put it on paper every six months, in a letter that may never even be opened if her birth parents never decide they want contact, it always seems insignificant. 

Thanks for your baby. We love her more than anyone can possibly imagine. She is almost ready to walk.
          The complete strangers you trusted with your most precious gift, The Intrigues

2. The other day, the three older Little Explorers were roughhousing like something out of the Thunderdome, if the Thunderdome was louder and less organized. I was a little worried about Laura Ingalls Wilder, but I looked over and she was inside the pack and play with her face smushed against the mesh sides, watching it all in complete safety. It was kind of like the nets they put up at Nascar races to keep people from being hit by tires, only the pack and play was protecting her from flying Little Explorers and couch pillows, mostly.

3. It’s a wonder more spousal homicides are not directly related to whose turn it is to get up with a crying child. Not that I’ve ever contemplated offing The International Man of Intrigue in the middle of the night. Well, not in the last 24 hours, at least. 

4. My friend recently saw a picture of Amelia Earhart all dressed up at a dance party birthday. She was surrounded by friends, equally made up and sparkly. This prompted the friend to ask what a group of divas is called. Her vote? A Distraction of Divas. I think it works.

5. Tonight was Gertrude Bell’s holiday program at school. She actually had a big speaking part. After the acting portion, the kids performed a dance to LL Cool J and Naughty By Nature songs. I’m still trying to figure out if her teacher is super hip or I’m super old. 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Tuesday 5: Never Ending Basket Edition

1. So, apparently yesterday was Prematurity Awareness Day. I wasn’t aware. The month of November is also Adoption Awareness Month. Coincidence that this is the month we celebrate Laura Ingalls Wilder’s birthday this month, since she was adopted and a 2 lb 7 oz preemie? I think not!

2. Today The International Man of Intrigue and I got to guest lecture for a friend’s college class via video teleconference. It was fun! Maybe I should get my doctorate and subject 18 and 19 year olds to listening to me talk every day!

3. The other day, The International Man of Intrigue finished folding a basket of laundry. I quipped, “Need a refill?” It occurred to me that our laundry basket is like a basket of breadsticks at Olive Garden. It keeps getting refilled, whether you want more or not. 

4. If you could remove a “traditional” food from the Thanksgiving day menu, what would it be? The beauty of being a military family and moving all the time is that we generally have thanksgiving with different people every couple of years. It means we get to add new dishes to our repertoire and ditch ones no one really cares about. This year, we are actually spending Thanksgiving with the same people we did last year: The Brits and The Other Intrigues. (Yes, our neighbors have the same last name as we do, and the husband works one office over from The International Man of Intrigue!) The Other Mrs. Intrigue makes creamed onions, which are super yummy, but I haven’t really had before. We have decided to ban green bean casserole because no one really wants to waste calories on it. Sweet potatoes are still on the menu, but they may get the axe as well. We just decided if we’re going to eat decadent food, we shouldn’t waste space on our plates or in our stomachs on food we don’t love. So, let’s hear it, which food would you take off the table this Thanksgiving?

5. I have this fabric, it looks like notebook paper. I want to stitch a quote on it and then sew it into a pillow. I can't decide what it should say, though. I'd like it to be something inspirational. I'd also like it to be something worth drilling into the Little Explorers' heads, since if they look at it every time they pick it up, they're likely to memorize it, if not take it to heart.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Tuesday 5: Soundtrack to My Life Edition

This week I was challenged by a fellow “Random Fiver” to use the Random 5 to spell out the soundtrack to my life. I gave it some thought. Not enough to want this to be completely set in stone, but enough to post it here. I’ve decided that I’ll list five phases of my life and the accompanying music. There is always music.

1. Most of the Fellow Adventurers who know me in real life would not be surprised if my entire list was composed of U2 songs. Yes, U2 is so much threaded through the moments of my life that it would be impossible to make a list without it. I’m going to try to limit it here, though, save for one song: “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For.” It’s a song about the search for meaning. This song ran in and out of the melody of my college years. I listened to it as I trekked across Europe for the first time, the week I turned 21. I listened to it the morning I graduated from college and moved back in with my parents. Every single note of it was so true. I knew the lines 
“You broke the bonds
And you loosed the chains
Carried the cross of my shame
Oh my shame, you know I believe it.”
And I did believe in The One who had done those things, but I knew I was still searching. 

2. When I got back from Europe, I was broke, in debt, and still had a year of private college to pay for. I did what any self respecting broke girl would do and got a job tending bar and waitressing at a tiny bar above an Italian restaurant. It was one of those small town places where the regulars would walk in and hang up their coats and they’d already have their favorite drinks waiting at their spots before they could sit down. I loved it because I could eat a meal for free at work and drink for free after 10 pm. There was a jukebox in the corner. Those same regulars would sometimes give us money to choose songs, as long as we played their favorites. We played them over and over and sang along: “Hey Cinderella” by Suzy Boggus, “Tubthumping” by Chumbawumba, “The Chain” by Fleetwood Mac, and, of course, “Closing Time” by Semisonic.

3. Next up, a half decade down the road, the songs that remind me of the first day of the greatest love story in the modern world. That’s right, the wedding of The International Man of Intrigue and Dorothy Gale. There were a few awesome songs that day. I remember The International Man of Intrigue dipping me down low and kissing me in the back of Church after we walked out, the sound of “Hope to Carry On” by Rich Mullins being played by a friend on guitar. There was our first dance, Dave Matthews Band’s “Where are You Going?” Our wedding party and my siblings danced like crazy to Outkast’s “Hey Ya,” Which was definitely the popular song at the time.

4. The transition from wedding to the early days of our marriage was much more extreme than most. A few months in, we moved across the country and The International Man of Intrigue started preparing full force for a year long deployment to Iraq. He was gone a lot, in the field, working late, gearing up. Our first anniversary was spent at a pre-deployment brief—the meeting where they talk to you about the importance of wills and arrangements. Then, BOOM, on Martin Luther King Day he was gone. I dropped him off, kissed him goodbye, and called in heartbroken to work. There was a song that came out that year by a band called SheDaisy. “Come Home Soon” was its name, and I still can’t listen to it. I tried, before writing this blog post, but it’s still too full of emotion for me. That year, I also was front and center in the pouring rain at a Willie Nelson concert. Songs like “Always on My Mind,” “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain,” and “Whiskey River” bring back snippets of that long year. The International Man of Intrigue came home a year later, stayed for almost exactly a year, just long enough to hold a newborn Amelia Earhart in his arms, and then was gone again for fifteen months. Those were the first four and a half, exhausting, strengthening, difficult years of marriage. Not a bad thing to remember today, on Veterans’ Day.

5. The last batch of songs for my soundtrack tonight are the first songs my kids each heard after they were born. We just let them happen, and they turned out pretty well. Amelia Earhart heard “Irreplaceable” by Beyonce while she was in the nursery. Gertrude Bell was born while Carrie Underwood’s “All-American Girl” played on the television. Arthur Dent first heard The All American Rejects “Hope it Gives You Hell” on the ride home from the hospital. With Laura Ingalls Wilder, it’s a bit more fuzzy. I contend that her awesome nurse, Tom, who firmly believed in the mantra, “Whistle while you work,” whistled her her first tune. If you want to get technical, the first song she heard on the radio was on the hotel shuttle, on the way to a follow up doctor’s appointment, and I have no idea what it was saying. It was in Spanish, to the tune of “Putting on the Ritz.”

Music is big in the Intrigue Family. If he’s home, The International Man of Intrigue plays guitar after dinner. The older Little Explorers take piano. They are currently in love with the song “Bohemian Rhapsody.” They make up little songs all day long. There is always music running through my life. What about yours?

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Tuesday Random 5: Election Day Edition

Wow! Has it only been less than a week since the “World Serious” ended? Seems longer. I totally broke the “No crying in baseball” rule set forth by Tom Hanks. Oops. Well, it was a great season by the Royals, and a well matched World Series.

1. Is anyone else completely sucked into buying school pictures? I can’t help myself. The proofs come home, and I melt. I can’t help it. Yes, grandparents, this is your official notice that Amelia Earhart and Gertrude Bell’s school pictures will be arriving in the near future.

2. Speaking of Amelia Earhart and Gertrude Bell and completely melting, there’s this little thing that happens almost every day. I pull up in the carline to pick them up from school and they’re holding hands. They don’t have to be, they just are. They have no idea that I turn to a puddle of mama mush every time. I also try to remember that picture 15 minutes later when they are fighting like two out of four female cast members of “The Facts of Life” in any given episode.

3. I’m four days into my fitness challenge. I’ve worked out every day. I’ve eaten all my servings of fruits and veggies. I’m starting to feel better. Craziest of all, I’ve given up Diet Coke. This is huge. Really huge. I did have one today—one of my two weekly “cheats.” My British friend says not to call them “cheats” because it has too many negative connotations. So, for her, today I had a Diet Coke and used one of my two weekly “exceptions.” It was worth it. Cold, delicious, and refreshing, it also helped me to avoid eating all the wonderful breakfast goodies at MOPS today. An “exception” well spent. 

4. I noticed today while listening to the radio that when Keith Urban sings, he doesn’t have an Australian accent. I started thinking. Most singers who sing in English don’t have an accent when they sing. Adele? Nope. The Beatles? Yes, sometimes. Why are accents mostly undetectable while singing? 

5. The International Man of Intrigue has decided I'm going to vie to become the President of the United States in 2016. He's even started a hashtag. #dorothygale2016. (only my non-pseudonym, of course). It's basically a grassroots campaign for anyone who's sick of politicians. The amazing news is that I got my first vote tonight! My cousin wrote me in for the Kansas Senate race! Woo-hoo! I'm wondering if proper etiquette dictates I make a concession speech and call up the winners to congratulate them, since I'm pretty sure I lost that election.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Tuesday Random 5: Of Children, Diets, and Game 6

1. As I type this, my stomach is in knots. I’m not a die hard sports fan, but I do enjoy it. The World Series is giving me ulcers. Arthur Dent calls it the “World Serious,” and I am with him. Serious stress. The Royals down 3-2, but returning to Kansas City tonight. It doesn’t help that we are early to bed, early to rise in the Intrigue house, not by choice, but by necessity. Games that don’t get over until midnight make for long days. Anyway, I’ve got my blue lights up outside and my new Royals cap on. Hopefully it will be a rally cap! I’m sure the Royals will be glad to be home at The K- after all, the fans who make Arrowhead Stadium the loudest in the NFL will be the same fans cheering on the Boys in Blue tonight! (Update: as I finish this, the Royals are up 8-0 in the top of the fourth inning. I'm glad being the home team gave them a boost!)
2. I mentioned last week that I had the privilege of bringing dinner to a new mom and a mom who was suffering a miscarriage. This morning, I received an email about an old friend who is pregnant. Her child is not expected survive past infancy. I also received a text from a friend who was headed to the hospital in labor. It’s strange, in this day and age, we tend not to think so much about infant mortality, but I know more than a few mamas who have buried children with only one date on their headstone.  Heavy stuff for the random five, but this dichotomy of birth and death seems so pronounced to me lately. The realization that, what you thought was so simple when you were young, being born, is really a bigger gift and harder action than we give it credit for. 

3. On a MUCH lighter note, Halloween is upon us. Usually The International Man of Intrigue and I have very creative costumes. This year, I’m phoning it in with a pair of orange scrubs and a double dose of black eyeliner and red lipstick. I’m going as a character from “Orange is the New Black.” Speaking of orange, I can neither confirm or deny that I am currently trying not to get my keyboard messy from breaking into the trick or treat bags of Cheetos I bought to hand out. Speaking of crunchy, cheesy junk food, the Little Explorers think Pirate Booty is hilarious. No matter how many times I’ve explained what the definition of “pirate booty” is, they insist on calling it “Pirate Butts” and laughing hysterically. 

4. Why am I shotgunning tiny bags of Cheetos? Because, starting Saturday, I’m on a team of four in a “mind, body, spirit” challenge. It’s focused on weight loss, but has components of spirituality and kindness as well. I’m sure there will be a few rough days as I detox from junk food, especially Diet Coke, which is legal, but costs me points. I’m really ready. The Developing Nation Diet went to crap when we moved back to the states. I gained it back plus some. I’ve done a little on my own, but I need a jump start and some accountability (like motivation not to guzzle Cheetos). I recently purchased a glider type rowing machine which will allow me to work out in the evening while still bingeing on Netflix with The International Man of Intrigue. I’m working up a meal plan, and I’m ready to fit back into my clothes. Here we go!

5. Last, but not least, my joy. Laura Ingalls Wilder turns 11 months old tomorrow. The time has flown by. Allow me to gush about that curly haired, long eyelashed, beautiful, sweet baby girl. She is such a happy little thing. She giggles with joy when she spots herself in her carseat mirror. Every time. We should all be so happy to see our own reflection. When I go to get her out of her crib in the morning, she giggles with pure joy. Recently, a friend was watching Laura Ingalls Wilder and Arthur Dent for a few hours so I could, you know, scrape a layer of disgusting off the floors and bathrooms. When I walked in the door, my friend was holding Laura Ingalls Wilder’s little hands so she could stand up. When Laura Ingalls Wilder saw me, she literally jumped for joy and shrieked with delight. This teeny tiny for her age child was so happy to see her mama that she bounced, tigger style, and squealed with happiness. Oh, my heart. My joy. 

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Tuesday 5: Be Royal Edition

1. Who’s Dorothy Gale rooting for in the World Series? Yes, I lived near Monterey Bay when the Giants won the Series in 2010, and I LOVE the Bay Area. The answer is easy: the Royals, of course. I have said it before, and I’ll say it again, most of the time, it’s really tough being a fan of professional sports when you cheer for Kansas City. Once, my mother and father bought The International Man of Intrigue a new Chiefs shirt for Christmas. They were kind enough to include a paper bag with eye holes cut out as the perfect accessory. So, even though I’m not the biggest fan of baseball, I am super excited for the World Series, “‘Cause it’s root, root, root for the home team!…” I also have a special place in my heart for the KC team that last won the World Series back in 1985 because superstar George Brett and I share a birthday. That led to a chance meeting between yours truly, Dorothy Gale, and the superstar Brett once at a Kansas City Chiefs Football game. That’s a story for another day, though, Fellow Adventurers…

2. Every morning, on the way to school, I lead the Little Explorers in a prayer. Everyone gets a chance to say a little something and then we pray the “Angel of God” prayer together. This morning, Arthur Dent’s prayer was classic. He was attempting to put socks on as he prayed. “Dear God, thank you for this awesome and cool day. Thank you for cool stuff. AND THANK YOU FOR THESE STUPID SOCKS! AAAGH. AMEN.”

3. This week I have had the opportunity to take meals to friends who needed a little help. One was joyous, the birth of a new baby, and one was sad. One thing I’ve learned over the years is to bring meals in disposable containers if you can afford it. The couple of extra bucks to take things in foil and cheap ziplock containers is worth it. The last thing you need as a new mommy or someone dealing with illness or loss is to have to wash and keep straight a bunch of dishes and then figure out who to return them to. What’s your go-to meal to take to someone? I have a couple. This time it was Santa Fe Soup with chips, cheese, and sour cream, and a pan of dark chocolate brownies. Sometimes I make baked ziti or enchiladas. 

4. Someone asked me recently how I have so much time to read with four Little Explorers running around and a messy house. I told them the truth: I once read that kids who see their parents reading are more likely to become avid readers themselves. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it, even though I have, at one time or another, pulled a book out from underneath the head of a sleeping Little Explorer. They are all voracious readers, well, almost. As Arthur Dent reminds me every time I tell him to go read a book for a while, “MAMA, YOU KNOW I CAN’T READ YET!”

5. Tomorrow is Diwali. It’s the Hindu festival of lights. I want to go dig up the blue Christmas lights from the garage, because, hey, Diwali and the Royals in the World Series. On that note, Trisha Yearwood just finished doing a lovely job singing the National Anthem. I have to go watch the game. #BeRoyal #BlueOctober

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Tuesday 5: Take Me Home...

1. Yesterday was Columbus Day. I can’t stop laughing over one of those silly e-cards I saw. It read, “The horror of a deadly virus being brought into America from overseas reminded me to wish you a Happy Columbus Day.” I don’t know why. There’s nothing funny about comparing Ebola to measles, smallpox, tuberculosis, and all kinds of nasty other diseases. Nothing, except when you mix it in with Columbus Day. Speaking of Columbus day, I blogged about it two years ago as well. Here is your walk down memory lane. 

2. Speaking of two years ago, I always meant to blog about Sri Lanka and John Denver but I don’t think I ever did. Sri Lankans LOVE the song “Country Roads” by John Denver. LOVE it. LOVE LOVE. I was once on a full bus. Half of us were Americans and the other half Sri Lankans employed by the Embassy. On the way home, the Sri Lankans apparently started having flashbacks to their days of summer camp and started a bus ride sing along. They mostly sang songs in Sinhalese, but they added in a rendition of “Country Roads” that was perfect. They knew every word. Not proof enough? Once, The International Man of Intrigue and I attended the end of some big conference. It was a cocktail party and dinner. During the cocktail party, there was a Sri Lankan mariachi band. They were wearing sombreros and the whole get up. Weird? Yes. But it gets weirder. They played, you guessed it, “Country Roads.” From talking to other Fellow Adventurers who’ve lived around the world, apparently there is just something about that song that speaks to the human condition. Maybe it’s the waxing poetic about where you came from. Have any of you heard that song in a place you didn’t expect? Can ANYONE EVER beat hearing a Sri Lankan mariachi band play and sing it?

3. Laura Ingalls Wilder is on the move. She pulls up and is starting to cruise around furniture. She does a one legged hitch crawl which is blessedly slow enough for me to keep track of her easily. She’s also discovered finger foods. Like we did for the rest of the Little Explorers, we often sprinkle a few Cheerios on the coffee table for her to snack on. Somewhere along the line of rearing Little Explorers, the Cheerios that inevitably end up on the floor got the name “floorios.” Floorios are ubiquitous. Laura Ingalls Wilder puts everything in her mouth. I vacuum every day to lessen the little bits and pieces she can find to put in her mouth, but there are still floorios. According to the tradition of The Intrigues, floorios are fair game for snacking. If you’re horrified by this, perhaps you keep your house too clean and you’re not doing your part to build your child’s immune system. Dorothy Gale has never, ever, been accused of keeping her house too clean. 

4. Speaking of things kids put in their mouths, there was a recent discussion on a Facebook page I belong to about the super gross things kids put in their mouths. It reminded me of that time Arthur Dent put a tropical roach in his mouth. Remember? When we moved back to the states, he once picked up a half eaten jolly rancher from a bench at the pool and put it in his mouth. He has a mighty fine immune system.

5. Back to music. I heard the new Toby Keith song on the radio this morning. It’s called “Drunk Americans.” Now, I have an appreciation for Toby Keith. The International Man of Intrigue met him and got his guitar autographed by Toby Keith while Mr. Keith was doing a USO tour in a war zone. That being said, I seriously wonder if the man can sing about anything besides drinking and being American. Try a ballad, maybe, Toby Keith? How about a cover of “Country Roads?”

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Tuesday Random 5: Stomach Bug Edition

1. A stomach bug ripped through the Intrigue house this weekend. It was U-G-L-Y. Ugly. Up all night, multiple loads of laundry, bowls and buckets at every bedside ugly. I’m still raising praise over here that The International Man of Intrigue stayed well for exactly 24 hours longer than the rest of us. That man isn’t just a national hero, he’s a hero on the homefront. Cleaning up after three of four Little Explorers, taking care of the baby, and even cleaning up after yours truly was a monumental task, and he rocked it. 

2. The International Man of Intrigue did, unfortunately, get the bug like the rest of us. He did it in International Man of Intrigue style, though. The last thing he had to eat before joining the barforama was Girl Scout Trefoil cookies dipped in Nutella. He hasn’t had a thing to eat in about 24 hours. He was just moaning to me about how nothing sounded good. Ten minutes later, I caught him in the kitchen, eating the Tootsie Rolls I use to bribe Gertrude Bell to get out of the car at school. That man loves his sugar. I’m making a mild dinner for our stomachs, and he just announced he thinks he’ll have some cereal. By cereal, he means Fruity Cheerios, which are basically Fruit Loops. 

3. One of the most disappointing things about how insanely bad I felt this weekend was that I didn’t  even feel well enough to read a book. Ever since I was a kid, whenever I feel sick, I like to retreat under a blanket on the couch and read. This week also happens to be Banned Books Week. What better excuse to read? Yesterday, I was finally up and around, and checked out “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian” by Sherman Alexie from the library to read on my Kindle. It holds the number three spot on the most banned books of last year. So far, I’m enjoying it and not seeing what makes it particularly offensive.

4. I know this falls into the realm of First World Problems (FWP), but I was rushing around this morning and wanted to grab a cup of coffee on my way to my morning Bible Study. Unfortunately, Dunkin Donuts was the only convenient place on my route. Now, I love Dunkin, but they don’t offer any alternatives to cow’s milk. Dairy is not Dorothy Gale’s friend on a good day, let alone the first day back to normal food after the stomach nasties. While we’re at FWP, is it’s definitely one that I’m excited that Starbucks is testing coconut milk in select markets! It’s about time! 

5. I’m a bit at a loss for a number five today. I think my brain and body are still a bit out of sorts. How about a round of “What are you watching/reading?” I already said I was reading “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian” by Sherman Alexie. I just finished “Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk” by Ben Fountain. I loved it. The descriptions were inventive. It was raw and gritty, a biting satire. It reminded me a bit of a modern day “Catcher In The Rye,” if Holden Caulfield were a 19 year old infantry grunt. Strongly recommended if you like that sort of thing. We’re kind of in between shows at the moment. We’ve been watching “Torchwood” as a filler. It’s a British show, a spinoff of Doctor Who. It’s fun, but we’re definitely not hooked. What are you reading or watching that you love?

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Tuesday 5: Really random

It's Tuesday again, and I'm a bit sleep deprived. Even though I'd rather have a nap, I can't let my Fellow Adventurers down, so here's the Random 5: 

1. POTUS is coming to Tampastan tomorrow. Surprisingly, he hasn’t contacted the Intrigues about his visit. My husband being The International Man of Intrigue and all, I’m surprised he doesn’t want to come over for a beer. I’m waiting to see how this will impact The International Man of Intrigue, both in the traffic and security that’s bound to be around tomorrow, as well as anything going forward.

2. I may have mentioned that, around here, we believe that Gertrude Bell is part fairy. Not Disney fairy, but sprite. Last week after she got ready for bed, I heard her crying on the stairs. I went over to see what was the matter, and she looked up at me with tears in her big brown eyes. “I don’t want to grow up,” she sobbed. It was all I could do not to grab her by the shoulders like in this scene from Billy Madison. Don’t worry, I collected myself in time to ask the proper questions and have the proper parental response.

3. I owe The International Man of Intrigue a debt of gratitude today. I’m the one in charge of getting up with kids in the night during the week. He needs his sleep so he can go to the office and save the world. I stay home and save the world, and if everyone is crabby and sleep deprived, I can make them take naps. The International Man of Intrigue doesn’t get to tell crabby Generals to take naps, although I’m sure they’d like to get in a few zzz’s at the office. So, it’s an arrangement that works for us. On the weekends, he gets a kick in the back of the shin and then we mumble argue for a few minutes about who got up last, and only then does one of us get up with the offending Little Explorer. If it seems like we’ve put a bit of thought into our system, it’s because we have. We have four kids and they all have had drastically different sleep patterns since birth. Amelia Earhart slept through the night from about 8 months. Gertrude Bell didn’t sleep through the night until after her THIRD birthday. Arthur Dent took up permanent residence in our bed about the time we moved overseas. We were a household of the sleep deprived. We tried every trick and method, to no avail. Eventually we realized we’d have to wait it out, but we needed a system. That system has changed through the years, but it’s basically designed to keep either one of us from losing his or her respective poop due to lack of quality REM. Since the older Little Explorers more or less sleep through and in their own beds, this has brought about our current arrangement. The problem is, Laura Ingalls Wilder has been going through a rough patch lately. I’m not sure if it’s teething, or that she was sick last week, but her sleep schedule is way off. She was very consistently sleeping through the night. We topped her off with a bottle before we went to bed and she’d wake up when the other Little Explorers reached jet plane decibels the next morning. It’s been almost a week of her waking up at least three times a night. After being up with her for several hours around 1 a.m., when she woke up at 4, I did the shin kick. I begged for mercy. The International Man of Intrigue got up with her. He’s my current (and usual) favorite person in the world. 

4. I was at the store yesterday and noticed that halloween decorations and candy are out in full force. Do you like to dress up? The International Man of Intrigue and I go for funny costumes. We have been Dolly Parton and Willie Nelson, a 7 month pregnant pageant queen named Miss Conception and her cheesy 70’s pageant host, a Hawkeye from M*A*S*H redux and a nurse, and, most recently, Amy Farrah Fowler and Sheldon Cooper from The Big Bang Theory. What will we be this year? Who knows. Generally, we come up with a genius idea the week before and I spend the week running around trying to pull it off. Any suggestions?

5. I, Dorothy Gale, have a very old fashioned hobby. I love to cross stitch. It’s not your grandmother’s hobby, though. While you can still stitch things with flowers and borders and fonts, there is something for everyone now. I lean towards the irreverent. I stitched a sampler style piece for the girls’ room that says, “Stop Freaking Out.” My latest project is a tiny picture of Anna and Elsa that says “I love my sister.” On the drawing board is a sampler with the words to “Soft Kitty” from The Big Bang Theory for Arthur Dent. And perhaps, since his name is Arthur Dent, a little something from The Hitchhiker’s Guide. Do you have any unusual hobbies?

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Tuesday 5: Doctor Who Party Edition

The Tuesday 5 started off as The Tuesday Random 5. Sometimes I like to give them a theme, though. This one is for Doctor Who lovers. If you don't watch The Doctor, you'll find this one pretty weird and unintelligible.

Saturday night we had a few friends around to watch the premier of the 12th Doctor. It was a little late, but well worth the wait. We decided to make a theme party of it. I love theme parties. Back before we had Little Explorers, The International Man of Intrigue and I used to throw elaborate Halloween theme parties. It's been a while since we had a theme party, but I think this random Saturday night party turned out awesomely nerdy!

1. Every party needs some great decor:

 Our Front Door: It's bigger on the inside.

 On the wall in the bathroom: Don't Blink!

 Some fun blue party supplies

 Driveway art

 Leading up to the house-Don't Blink

 Bad Wolf!

 Had to include the welcome mat: Hello Sweetie!

The Crack in Time courtesy of Arthur Dent

 Laura Ingalls Wilder was convinced I hung these just for her

2. What's a party without games?

 Tumbling Tardis Game

3. Costumes! I had a Tardis blue skirt with a patch pocket with the Police Box sign printed on it. "The Brits" came in Doctor Who themed t-shirts. Our other neighbors came as Amy Pond and Nine. And, The International Man of Intrigue came as Eleven:

4. Swag Bags! What's better than sending home guests with some goodies?

Dalek and Tardis candies. This silicone mold was a little bit too big to make decent candies, but it was still fun!

And mugs! I painted these, so they're not perfect, but they'll definitely cheer up a morning cup of coffee!

5. FINALLY, the most important part, FOOD!!! We had to stick to the theme!

Tardis blue corn chips and Dalek-table Dalek Garlek dip by yours truly.

A traditional (and insanely delicious) meat pie made by Amy Pond.

Strax and Dalek cookies made by Amy Pond. The Strax cookies were real maple and the Dalek cookies were espresso.

I also made Bow Ties Are Cool pasta salad.

And Cucumber Cassandwiches with Moisturize Me Olive Oil spray.

 The Brits contributed Jammy Dodgers, Jelly Babies, and marshmallow Adipose Babies,

as well as fish fingers and custard. Don't worry, the fish fingers were actually amazing cookies!

We didn't have any pictures of the blue Sonic Screwdriver cocktails made by Nine or the Wibbly Wobbly Timey Wimey Jello shots I made, but they were yummy!

So, that, my friends, was our little Doctor Who gathering to watch the first episode starring Doctor Twelve. We really enjoyed him. Anyone else watching? What did you think?

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Tuesday 5: All American Edition

Fellow Adventurers, the thought crossed my mind today to skip the extended blog version of my Facebook Tuesday 5 today, but then it occurred to me that all 10 of you might miss it. It also occurred to me that I am thankful for spell check, or I’d always spell occurred as occured. Finally, but most importantly, it occurred to me that if I didn’t do the extended blog version I was going to have to wash the pots and pans in the sink. Tough call.

1. I’m a bit fuzzy today. I’ve mentioned, before, but I’m positive my kids hate it when I sleep. Hate it. Laura Ingalls Wilder slept through the night just fine, but I was up multiple times with Arthur Dent and Amelia Earhart. Thank goodness they had cleaned and organized their rooms this weekend. Every mother knows the joys of crossing a Barbie and Lego land mine field to get to a child’s bed. 

2. Speaking of Legos, today the new Lego catalog arrived at our house. This is cause for much rejoicing among all in the Land of Intrigue. For me, it’s also the cause of great angst. I love Legos as much as the next gal. Santa brings me my own set every Christmas. The problem lies in the fact that there is just one precious copy of the catalog delivered. If you ever want to see my kids engage in a mixed martial arts battle to the last Little Explorer, toss the new Lego catalog on the floor in between them all and watch them scrap. Thankfully, the threat of me taking it away seemed to bring a little peace to the situation. Peace and trepidation. They know that once mom and dad lay hands on that, we will hog it for weeks.

3. Gertrude Bell has been singing “Yankee Doodle” all day long. Unfortunately, but hilariously, she thinks his name is Cranky Doodle. “Cranky Doodle went to town, riding on a pony…”

4. Today was my MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) kickoff meeting! I am so excited to have that little part of my week back. I get so much out of the Bible Study and the fellowship with other moms. Plus, the food is delicious. Also, my most favorite thing? Being kid-less for a few hours. I love my kids like crazy, but I love having that little bit of time each week to be inspired and renewed, and I feel like a better mom that I get that time without kids. 

5. The Little Explorers love to watch old school G.I. Joe. Wherever would they get the idea to watch that? Surely not The International Man of Intrigue, who turns it on and curls up with the kids on the couch on Saturday morning. While they were watching, I was sitting on the couch next to them, reading a book, also about war. If you’re interested, I can recommend it as gritty but compelling: Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain. As I read, I could hear the television, but wasn’t really paying attention. Something burrowed into my brain. It took me a second, and then I looked up. “International Man of Intrigue, did they just reference “The Art of War” on G.I. Joe?” He smirked and said, “Yes, yes they did.” I wonder if Sun Tzu would be amazed to know he was referenced by name on an American cartoon, assuming that he knew what America and cartoons were. 

Now you know, Fellow Adventurers. And knowing is half the battle.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Tuesday Random 5: Food Edition

Are you guys going to be super sad if I’m not as funny as I used to be? It’s easy to be hilarious in a third world country developing nation. Not so much at home. Yes, crazy things still happen, like the time I had all four kids in one of those monstrous kid carts at Target and Arthur Dent managed to fall out of it and take Laura Ingalls Wilder with him. It happened right in the produce area at the front of the store. No fewer than three Target employees rushed to the scene. Arthur Dent was crying and had a ginormous bruise already appearing on his leg, Laura Ingalls Wilder was screaming in her tipped over carseat, Gertrude Bell was screaming because she was convinced the baby was hurt, and there was Sprite dripping from everywhere in our heaping full shopping cart. Everyone was fine, but this is what happens when I turn my back to try to buy lettuce. Lesson learned. I haven’t had a salad since.

Anyway, it turns out it’s Tuesday again already. Here’s your Random 5!

1. The other day Gertrude Bell stood in the pantry and whined, “There’s NOTHING to eat in here!” Fellow Adventurers, I about lost my cool, which never ever happens. I am the picture of calm and collected parent. Ok, that’s not true, but I try hard. I honestly had to take a minute. That’s when she said it again, “Mooooom, we have NOTHING to eat!” Deep breath. Serenity now. “Gertrude Bell, remember when we lived in Sri Lanka and went to places like India and Nepal? Those kids really did have nothing to eat. There’s even kids right here in the U.S. who open their refrigerators and there’s nothing at all in there, not nothing they want. So don’t say that again, ok?” I will admit, I had a little extra angst about this because the other day I was realizing just how much food we waste. When we were living in Sri Lanka, we waited until the weekend to clean out the fridge because we didn’t want our household staff to see us throwing away food. We also didn’t waste nearly what we do now. In some ways, I know it has to do with factors we didn’t have there- produce seems to go bad faster here, and I don’t have someone to cut it up and have it ready to go for me. Sigh. I miss having domestic help. I really, truly, do. Any Fellow Adventurers out there want to come and prep my fruits and vegetables every time I go shopping? Hello?

2. Speaking of full pantries, yesterday I was cleaning out my pantry for the sixth time this month. Some people would say it’s because I lack an organizational system that works for me. People who know me would look around my house and say I lacked an organizational system. Period. My pantry is actually pretty well situated. The problem is that the Little Explorers are tiny vultures. Tiny, hungry, messy vultures. Yes, I keep all the snacks and cereal on a low shelf where they can reach it. But then their little brains kick in. Wait, there might be something yummy up top that we can’t see. Let’s drag our time out stools and fifteen random pillows in there so we can climb up and see what mom’s hiding for after we go to bed. Yeah, nothing good.

3. You know what? Kids aren’t just tiny vultures, they’re gross. My kids have set areas where they’re allowed to eat and drink. Still, I never knew the joy of smelling something strange in the house and having no idea where it was coming from before I had children. 

4. During the morning school commute yesterday, I heard THIS interview with Tim McGraw on the Bobby Bones Show. During the interview, Faith Hill walked in and the two proceeded to be lovebirds. At 18 years together, they are almost as adorable as The International Man of Intrigue and me! 

5. You know what is amazing? A video baby monitor. I didn’t have one with the first three kids. We got by with the old fashioned kind, but when we were living in Sri Lanka, we tried to use it. Even though we plugged it into a transformer, it fried almost immediately, rendering it completely useless, a fact which we ignored when we packed up the useless piece of junk and brought it back to the states instead of getting rid of it. So, that left us monitor-less. By kid number four, we really weren’t sure we needed one, but then we brought home Laura Ingalls Wilder. Did I mention that she was a 2 lb, 7oz. preemie with severe reflux? Of all the major problems that go along with being such a tiny little thing, this was her only issue, but she tended to hold her breath when she spit up and required suctioning of the nose and mouth immediately. Scary stuff. Because she goes completely silent when she does this, a video monitor was the way to go. Now that she’s well on her way to completing her first year of life, the reflux is still an issue, but the severity of it has gone down and she’s mostly quit holding her breath until she turns blue. This makes my ability to sleep a lot stronger. We still keep the video monitor on her, though. The best thing is when I hear her in the morning. Eventually, after whining for a minute or less, I hear a squeal of delight. I pry my eyes open as quickly as possible so I can see the hand reach out and grab her calf and pull her out of the camera’s range. The next thing I know, Amelia Earhart is bursting into our room with the baby on her hip. All four of the Little Explorers pile into bed and I know without a doubt that I feel a teeny tiny bit sorry for every other person in the world, because I got the most awesome, most adorable kids EVER.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Tuesday Random 5: Back To School Edition

The International Man of Intrigue bought me a fancy schmancy MacBook Air for Mother’s Day. It gave me the feeling I should get up and blog again. Lucky for us all, I decided to lie down until that feeling passed. Now it’s mid-August, mid-day, and mid-laundry, and I feel like indulging all five of you who asked that I start blogging again. The rest of you will just have to put up with me! 

Before I go on into my actual topic for the day, most of you know what we’ve been up to for the last year an a half. Some of you don’t. Here’s the short version, including the addition of Little Explorer Number Four: We moved back to the states two Januarys ago. We miss living overseas and hope to go back after this tour. For now, we’re enjoying eating cheese and walking around Target. In December, little Laura Ingalls Wilder joined our family through adoption. She is the apple of everyone’s eye. Arthur Dent was too busy becoming wrapped around her teeny tiny preemie finger to even notice he’d been unseated as the baby of the family. Amelia Earhart has become more, ahem, in charge, and Gertrude Bell continues being the free spirit she is.

Now, on to today’s topic. As my Facebook friends know, every week on Tuesday I join friends in posting a “Random 5” things. Sometimes it’s really random, and sometimes the observations are connected. This week they all seemed to have to do with school. They also seemed to be longer than usual, so I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to dust off the blog. Here goes!

Tuesday Random 5, Back To School Edition:

1. I try never to drop my kids off for their first day. I leave that task to The International Man of Intrigue if at all possible. I just don’t handle it well. As excited as I was for the constant bickering to end, and the chance to grocery shop with only two kids in tow, I knew I couldn’t see them settling into their new classrooms without tears. Not theirs, mine. I sobbed like a baby when Amelia Earhart rode away on the bus to kindergarten in Sri Lanka. When we got back to the US, she started kindergarten after Christmas. Having done the whole first day of school once already, I handled it like a champ and managed to make it to the parking lot before getting my ugly cry on. Now that The International Man of Intrigue realizes my predisposition to tears, he does his best to take the morning off from global diplomacy and be the parent to have to hold it together.

2. So, Amelia Earhart is entering second grade. On back to school night, she walked up to a group of girls who were in her class last year and said “hi” and called them each by name. They ignored her. Luckily, she didn’t seem to notice, but it made us realize that the days of “mean girls” aren't too far away for her. I know she’s not always nice, but I’ve made it my mission to teach my kids that even if they don’t like someone, they have to be kind. The problem with not being a “mean girl” is that it seems like either you are one, or you’re the target for one. It’s pretty hard to fit anywhere else. I know it’s hard to believe, but I, the amazing Dorothy Gale, spent a good portion of grade school and high school as the target of the mean crowd. Fifth grade was particularly brutal. There was a girl who used to corner me and kick me in the bathroom. There was a boy who would kick me as hard as he could in the shins every time he walked by my desk. My best friend since first grade told me she couldn’t be my friend anymore because she had to go be popular. I spent most of that year with bruised legs and a bruised heart. I grew up in a really small town, so everyone I went to school with probably knows just which jerks I’m talking about. Unfortunately, I also realize, looking back, that I was mean to a few people myself. I think the idea of being even a little less of a loser was to blame, but it’s really not an excuse and I feel terrible about it still. Anyway, all this is to say that I would be heartbroken to find out I raised a kid who was mean. Unfortunately, that means I’ll probably be heartbroken to be raising a kid who is picked on by the mean crowd. 

3.  I am very thankful that our kids got the chance to be Little Explorers. I know there were plenty of people who thought taking them to Sri Lanka was crazy and stupid. Traveling to Nepal, Bangladesh, and across India with three kids 5 and under? Obviously we had hit our heads on something and our brains were worse for the wear. Well, it turns out there was brilliance there after all. (Was there any doubt?) Turns out that one of the extra benefits of taking a year off of preschool to travel the world is courage. Amelia Earhart has always been outgoing and a risk taker. Gertrude Bell is very much an introvert and takes a while to warm up to people. She doesn’t care for new social situations or chaos. She does, however, embrace the opportunity to try new things. She’s participated in some activities with Amelia Earhart’s Girl Scout troop and, while she’s still very much the introvert, she steps up in many situations and ventures outside of her comfort zone to try new things. Yesterday, on the first day of school, Amelia Earhart and Gertrude Bell both hugged The International Man of Intrigue goodbye and started second grade and kindergarten tear free. I wish I could say the same for their parents.

4. “Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.” Elizabeth Stone. I never understood this quote until I had kids, and I don’t think I really understood it until I sent my first baby off to school. Ouch. It sums all of it up so well, though, doesn’t it?

5.  As if to wrap up my thoughts on this matter, I heard the theme song to the movie “The Breakfast Club” on the radio this morning. Which kid were you? (I don’t think I have to explain. See #2.)

That’s this week’s Tuesday 5. Should I keep it in blog format or go back to Facebook? Either way, I’ll try to be less serious next week.