Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Tuesday 5: Short and Sick

1. How was your Christmas, Fellow Adventurers? Most of the Intrigue Family had a killer head cold, so we were thankful we didn’t have much planned. Our British neighbors brought over figgy pudding and then we went around to eat authentic Chinese food at our other neighbor’s house. It was a good food day, at least. 

2. Speaking of the head cold, The International Man of Intrigue insists he had it much worse than the rest of us and was much more miserable. I’ll just leave that there. 

3. I forgot until this morning, when I nailed Arthur Dent in the upper thigh with a Nerf dart, that I am, in fact, a crack shot, with both pretend and real ammunition. You want me on your zombie apocalypse team, Fellow Adventurers.

4. Laura Ingalls Wilder broke the delete key on my laptop. I’m sure there’s a joke in there somewhere, but I erased it. 

5. The other day, my phone autocorrected RSVP to taco. Now, I’d always RSVP yes to a taco party, but this does seem a bit of a stretch, even for a piece of electronics that thinks I keep typing “ducking.”

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Tuesday 5: Swinging from the Chandeliers

1. I just finished filling out 60 pages of paperwork so the Little Explorers and I can spend four hours at the doctor’s office tomorrow on the off chance that the major government entity that employs The International Man of Intrigue decides to send us back overseas next year. Of course, the 60 pages I filled out, plus the eight more to fill out later may be completely pointless if we get assigned to stay in the United States. Seriously, 60 pages. I have writers’ cramp.

2. In the further adventures of keeping my kids alive, last week, before 7 am, Arthur Dent attempted to swing from the chandelier in my bedroom. Kids are exhausting, even when you’ve just had a full night’s sleep.

3. Laura Ingalls Wilder is a talker. She has lots to say. Unfortunately for her, when she says the “sp” sound, it comes out as “f.” So “spoon” sounds like “foon.” Endearing took a turn toward hilarious when I told Laura Ingalls Wilder and Arthur Dent that we would stop and get a Sprite if they were good in the post office. She immediately started screaming, “Fight! I wanna fight, mommy! Fight mommy! I wanna fight!” 

4. I’m taking Gertrude Bell and Amelia Earhart to see the new Star Wars movie tomorrow. They’re super excited. Amelia Earhart even reminded me that they have Princess Leia shirts to wear. I’d almost forgotten that last year I bought them matching shirts with a cartoon Princess Leia on the front that say “Self Rescuing Princess.” I loved the message and they love Leia, so it was a win. 

5. Last week, before Mass started, I could hear bits of conversation from the two older ladies in front of me. One of them said, no less than three times, “Butterscotch White Russian.” I love being Catholic.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Tuesday 5: Coffee with Baileys and Harry Potter

1. It’s that time of year again. Laura Ingalls Wilder just turned two, and tonight I’ll sit at the computer and try to figure out how to write a letter to a woman who loved her child so much she never looked at her own baby’s face. It’s so difficult. Everything I want to say seems like too much and not enough at the same time. 

2. We’ve been catching up on Doctor Who around here. I’m bothered by one thing. No, not the time travel, or that aliens seem to choose London over all other possible places in the universe to land, but that Clara has no case on her iPhone. Clara Oswald, you are a middle school teacher. You also happen to travel through time and space on a regular basis. I refuse to believe you are not constantly breaking your phone. Get an Otterbox on that thing, stat.

3. I belong to several Facebook groups. Who doesn’t. I thought most of them were pretty normal. I was visiting one last week and saw a discussion about Harry Potter. I was shocked to see this from another woman in the group, 

“I burned all our copies of the books upon the recommendations of a priest I trust very much.  He basically told me that the devil uses those books and materials as a portal into your home.  Witchcraft is on the rise for a reason.  Hollywood and Harry Potter have made it cool.  It is dangerous and my children will not be reading or viewing these materials no matter how "harmless" they are marketed to be.” 

WHAT THE FRESH HELL? I do not discount that there is such a thing as real evil. I also do not discount that some people are very uncomfortable with the Harry Potter series. To each his own. I do discount the fact that she burned the books. Know who else burned books they didn’t like? Nazis. 

4. I love bold, black eyeliner. I hope it doesn’t go out of style again. That’s all. Carry on.

5. Sometimes I drink coffee in the late afternoon. This is generally a coping mechanism. Today I made coffee in the late afternoon, then the Little Explorers were so crazy and I needed to get everyone out the door to a holiday program that it got cold and I forgot about it. I just got home, noticed the sad, forgotten coffee, and decided to dump Bailey’s in it and call it a nightcap. Cheers!

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Tuesday 5: The Soapboxes Will Continue Until Behavior Improves

1. One thing no one ever tells you about having kids is how much work it is just to make sure they stay alive. I’m talking about beyond the normal things like food and shelter. Not five seconds ago, I found myself screaming, “ARTHUR DENT, GET DOWN FROM THE STAIRWAY WALL BEFORE YOU FALL AND BREAK YOUR NECK!” The Intrigues spent Thanksgiving weekend at a beach house, and besides the obvious of not letting the Little Explorers drown, we got to shout such gems as, “DON’T DRINK THE OCEAN!” and “SAND IS NOT FOR EATING!” and “WE DON’T PUT PLASTIC WATER BOTTLE CAPS IN OUR MOUTHS!” all in the span of about three minutes. Exhausting. Just exhausting.

2. I just started reading “Career of Evil” by Robert Galbraith (aka J.K. Rowling), and I have to say, I really love this book. It’s the third in a series. I thoroughly enjoyed the first one, and when I read the second, was pleasantly surprised that it was even better than the first. A third of the way through book three, and I have to commend Ms. Rowling for upping the bar again. If you haven’t read this series of books, consider this your recommendation.

3. So, my issue of the week, or possibly of the next however many years, is that I can barely tolerate watching the news. I feel a strong rift between the part of me that knows it is important to be an informed citizen of the nation and the world and the part of me that wants to guard my heart from the hurt that comes every time I turn on the TV or look at a media site. I can’t believe there’s a presidential candidate who is a step away from internment camps and gold crescent moons on people’s clothing and there are Americans who are ok with it. I can’t believe that there are people who can’t speak about gun control without alienating everyone who has ever lawfully owned a gun. I ca’t believe that race relations are as bad as they were in the 1960s. Most of all, I can’t believe we are so polarized as a nation that if you don’t pick a side, you’re wrong. Anyway, I have only skimmed the headlines this week, because honestly, it makes me cry. Poor The International Man of Intrigue. I can’t even begin to discuss most current events topics without bursting into tears, the plight of Syrian refugees being the most likely to leave me a sobbing mess. So, I find myself forced to do what I had to do when The International Man of Intrigue spent years at a time in the most dangerous places in the world, and unplugging myself from the news. I feel guilty for being unengaged, but ultimately, I’m ok with it, and anyone who thinks less of me for it doesn’t need a place in my head right now.

4. On a lighter, but related, note, Arthur Dent’s winter program was tonight. Little kids singing songs about Diwali, Ramadan, Christmas, and general happiness give me hope. Arthur Dent dressed as Santa gave me a smile so big that my face still hurts. That little dude was adorable.

5. And, finally, being the best wife ever means buying The International Man of Intrigue a Halo Edition X-Box One for our 12th wedding anniversary, after he convinced me that 12 is the year you exchange electronics. This also means I’m not watching anything new, except Halo, now that we’ve finished the masterpiece that was “Jessica Jones.” Seriously, I love all the shows with strong female leads that are out now. 

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Tuesday 5: Five Lists

It’s Tuesday, but it’s also two days before Thanksgiving. Since my head is full of to-do lists, I present you a list of five random lists!

1. Costco list for today: 
    -Clorox wipes
    -Black beans
    -Diet Coke x 2
    -Mac and Cheese
    -Cut up fruit

2. Books I need to read/finish before the new year
    -Finish “The Return of the Prodigal Son” by Henri Nouwen
    -Read “Career of Evil” by Robert Galbraith (JK Rowling) from the library
    -Read “The Long Loneliness” by Dorothy Day and discuss with Arthur Dent’s Godmother

3. Speaking of books, here are three books I have read multiple times (and I’m not one to repeat read) and a favorite quote from each.
    -To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee: “Miss Jean Louise, stand up. Your father’s passin’”
    -The Hitchhiker’s Guide to The Galaxy trilogy by Douglas Adams: “What I need…is a strong drink and a peer group.”
    -Confessions by St. Augustine, “You called, you shouted, and you broke through my deafness.  You flashed, you shone, and you dispelled my blindness.  You breathed your fragrance on me; I drew in breath and now I pant for you.  I have tasted you, now I hunger and thirst for more.  You touched me, and I burned for your peace.”

4. And in the same vein, here are four TV shows I love. I’ve seen every episode at least twice, and if I find them on TV, I’ll stop and watch. They never get old to me. I’ve included a favorite quote from each. It’s not coincidental that all of these quotes make me into a crying mess.

    -M*A*S*H - “There's a woman back in Hannibal, Missouri, who's spent the better part of thirty years waiting for me to come home from one tour of duty or another. She's had to learn to do an awful lot on her own. Now I'm going home to see if she can show me how to do it with her.” Episode 11.16 “Goodbye, Farewell, and Amen”

    -The West Wing - “A sailor's wife doesn't live with fear the way a soldier's does. An Admiral’s wife that much less. You don't spend a career preparing for this. It seemed like a blessing, until today.” Episode 5.21 “Gaza”

    -The X-Files- “One day, you'll ask me to speak of a truth - of the miracle of your birth. To explain what is unexplained. And if I falter or fail on this day, know there is an answer, my child, a sacred imperishable truth, but one you may never hope to find alone. Chance meeting your perfect other, your perfect opposite - your protector and endangerer. Chance embarking with this other on the greatest of journeys - a search for truths fugitive and imponderable. If one day this chance may befall you, my son, do not fail or falter to seize it. The truths are out there. And if one day you should behold a miracle, as I have in you, you will learn the truth is not found in science, or on some unseen plane, but by looking into your own heart. And in that moment you will be blessed - and stricken. For the truest truths, are what hold us together, or keep us painfully, desperately apart.” - Episode 9.06 “Trust No 1”

    -BBC’s Sherlock: “The problems of your past are your business. The problems of your future are my privilege.” Episode 3.03 “His Last Vow”

5. Things I’m most looking forward to eating/drinking on Thursday:
    -Mashed potatoes
    -Homemade rolls with butter
    -Mashed potatoes
    -The alcoholic beverage we’re having with cider, ginger ale, and pumpkin vodka.
    -Did I mention mashed potatoes?

What are you most looking forward to eating, Fellow Adventurers? Bonus points if you include a favorite TV show or book quote.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Tuesday 5: In which I momentarily get serious. Just momentarily.

Tuesday again, already? More like second Monday. 

1. I decided I’d try to start listening to audiobooks in the car. I’m there enough, I thought it might be a good way to better myself without trying too hard. Turns out my mini van doesn’t agree. It ate disc three of the book I was listening to and refuses to give it back. It’s just some sci-fi junk novel I checked out of the library to see if I liked the audio book idea, so it’s not fine literature, but I CHECKED IT OUT OF THE LIBRARY. I give up trying to be literate in the car. (And, yes, fellow adventurers, I know about Audible, but I don’t want to pay money. I’m cheap like that.)

2. We watched Aziz Ansari’s new show on Netflix, Master of None. It was surprising and not at all what we expected. While it’s definitely got plenty of laugh out loud moments, the funny has an undercurrent of biting social commentary. Sexism, racism, and a list of other social issues get explored. Good stuff.

3. I'm trying to get back into the habit of writing more than the Tuesday 5. I’ve written a little piece of fiction every week for the past three weeks. Maybe I’ll start my novel someday. 

4. [Insert well thought out discussion of refugee crisis and terror attacks here.] Seriously, though, I know this blog usually remains lighthearted, but the things I’ve seen not only in the news, but in my own facebook feed this week have brought me to my knees. I don’t think people who think letting refugees into this country are cruel and unfeeling, and I think they have valid reasons to be concerned. I also don’t think people who want to let the flood of refugees find safe haven here are wrong, and I admire their human kindness. What I do think is that people who say things like, “Refugees are coming, time to buy a gun,” and “The refugees are terrorists,” are harsh and wrong. The comment I read, “Make up your mind, is it ISIS or ISIL,” displays complete ignorance of basic knowledge of current events. Period. If you don’t know, getting refugee status to come into the USis one of the hardest ways to get into the United States. In Europe, the process is much different and refugees are not vetted the same way they are here. You can look at the State Department website HERE for more information. In any case, I have a hard time with it all. I understand the fear of letting ISIS in the door, and I don’t disagree. I get that lots of people rightly trust the government less than Fox Mulder did. I have an impossible time seeing pictures of children sleeping on the ground, or children drowning trying to escape terror, or children being killed by terrorists, and thinking we should do nothing. Should that include military intervention? Taking in refugees? Both? Neither? I think these are valid questions to explore at far more than face value--really dig deep into the reasons for or against, because there are lots of pros and cons to each. Our country’s foundation and our Christian belief system both tell me that ignoring the plight of innocents being killed and persecuted isn't right. The bottom line is that there aren’t any good answers—it’s a bad situation and one that isn’t easily fixable. I do think that any answer requires compassion and thought and not quick angry rhetoric. If you don't like hearing my opinion or don't want to have a discussion and instead spout opinions you picked up from your side only, feel free to unfriend me on social media and stop following my blog. I won't miss you. Now, back to your regularly scheduled nonsense.

5. Now that it’s almost my kids’ bedtime, I’m going to sign out and pour a Captain Morgan and Diet Coke and do some cross stitching. There’s nothing better for relieving frustration than stabbing something 20,000 times. 

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Tuesday 5: Grilled Cheese and Other Musings

1. Last week, I was making grilled cheese sandwiches for the family and started daydreaming. Miraculously, I realized what was happening before the sandwiches burned. I just had to share, Fellow Adventurers, because, as anyone who’s ever made grilled cheese knows, it’s a pretty amazing event. 

2. I’d like to make a public apology to our mail carrier. I know sometimes our flag is up and there is no mail in the box. Arthur Dent does it when he checks the mail. When I asked him about it, he said, “There’s a letter in there.” I told him he’s supposed to take the letters out and bring them in the house. His response? “No, I putted a letter in there that I wrote to Spaceship. I have to put the flag up so it gets mailed to him.” So, long suffering mail lady, there are imaginary letters to Arthur Dent’s imaginary brother, Spaceship, in there. Thanks for taking care of our real and imaginary mail.

3. History nerd stuff: Did you know that Martha Washington said that the second most painful occurrence of her life was when Thomas Jefferson visited Mount Vernon? The first was the death of George Washington, of course. Now, think about this for a minute. She hated Jefferson so much that him visiting her was the second worst thing in her life—and she was a widow before she married George Washington. So seeing Thomas Jefferson was even worse than losing her first husband. Ouch. That’s some serious animosity. (My source is the Mount Vernon website, if you are wondering.)

4. This morning, I was carrying Laura Ingalls Wilder to the house. My shoes were wet and I slipped and fell in the garage. Lucky for Laura Ingalls Wilder, my mom instinct kicked in and I protected her at all costs. Not so lucky for me. I’m a bit banged up. The International Man of Intrigue has after work stuff, so I’m settled in on the couch with an adult beverage and the remote control. I was going to watch some BBC adaptation of some Charles Dickens story, but that seems a little more bleak than I need now that I”m a bit stiff and sore. Perhaps Gilmore Girls instead? 

5. Speaking of the remote control, I've mentioned before, but if you have Netflix and haven't watched the BBC drama, The Fall, go do it. The first season has quite a bit of violence, but it is really more of a psychological thriller. I think it's one of the most well done shows I've watched in a long time. The cinematography is sparse and striking. It’s more than a serial killer and cop show, though. It’s a show with a strong female lead and lines that are almost daring in calling out the undercurrent in society that still sees women as “less than.” Watch it. You won’t be sorry. 

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Tuesday Random 5: I Can't Even Edition

Behold, a brief list of things I Can't Even right now. 

1. The heat. Seriously, it’s November and it was 90 degrees with a real feel of 97 today.  I will never get to wear that new lightweight cardigan I bought in September. Know that when I rub it in when you’re in 10 feet of snow during the winter that it’s just the leftover anger of being hot for so much of the year.

2. The Royals. My name is Dorothy Gale. I grew up in Kansas. I lived in Kansas City until I married The International Man of Intrigue. I went to Royals and Chiefs games. It’s hard work being an every day Kansas City sports fan. Now they’ve gone and won the World Series. I had a feeling when Game 5 was tied up in the 9th and going to extra innings that the Royals would win. Extra innings are what that team was made for. Today, Kansas City basically shut down for a huge parade and pep rally. Seeing all the pictures from my friends and even reading status updates from the ones who were watching it on TV in Kansas City really got me misty eyed. 

3. Daylight Savings Time. I hate it. I hate when it ends because that magical extra hour of sleep isn’t real, people. It’s the one that was ripped away from you back in the spring, remember? Also, it makes my kids get up insanely early and have meltdowns at bedtime every day for a week. As one of my friends said, let’s just stop lying about time, mmmkay?

4. All the movies and shows that are coming back around. The new Star Wars movie is out in a couple of months. A new Star Trek is coming out in 2017. The X-Files Revival starts in January. It’s like a Generation X-ers nerd dream. Now if only Scully’s shoes will come back in style.

5. My new glasses. I got the call today that my new glasses and sunglasses are ready. I had to get new ones after Laura Ingalls Wilder broke mine, if you recall. Usually, it takes at least two weeks for mine to be ready, because, well, I’m practically blind. I was expecting them to take another week and they’re here! I’m picking them up tomorrow!

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Tuesday 5: Two and Four Legged Houseguests

1. Laura Ingalls Wilder broke my sunglasses this weekend. They’re prescription, so that’s awesome. It turns out that our not entirely awesome insurance only pays for an eye exam every two years, and my last one was a year and a half ago. That leaves me with three equally crappy options. 1. Pay out of pocket for an eye exam at $150. 2. Pay about the same amount and just get new frames for my existing sunglasses, but keep the old lenses. 3. When the earpiece completely breaks off, use super glue and duct tape and look like a jackass. Thoughts? Opinions? Advice?

2. Speaking of jackass, I really do try not to judge other parents. Want to let your child suck a pacifier until they’re four? Fine. It’s your dental bill. Want to wait to potty train until you’re kid is about to start kindergarten? You’re the one changing poopy diapers, not me. I did feel extra judgy at my friendly neighborhood craft store this weekend. There was a little girl there who was in her twos. She was walking around the store barefoot. The bottoms of her feet were filthy from walking around in the store. Knowing this store, there was also plenty of risk that there could have been something on the floor that would have hurt her baby feet. I personally had stepped on a broken part of an artificial flower arrangement just minutes before. Now, Fellow Adventurers, maybe you’re thinking “But what if her mom got to the store only to realize she didn’t have shoes with her?” Wrong question. She was a toddler. Correct question, “Why not just put her in a cart and push her around the store?” I’m still a bit grossed out.

3. Arthur Dent has this old Happy Meal toy that he loves. It’s some sort of a robot-like bug. It’s the size of a typical Happy Meal toy and is turquoise and grey. He named it “Stabby.” Despite the fact that Stabby looks very little like a real bug, he manages to startle me and make me jump out of my skin every time I see him out of the corner of my eye. I could just throw him away, but I'm sort of fond of Stabby at this point.

4. We had houseguests this weekend. Arthur Dent’s preschool class pet Rainbow the Tortoise came home with us. He had been so excited all week that he kept telling us all about her. He would correct us anytime anyone called her a turtle, “No, she’s a TORTOISE!” I finally asked Arthur Dent what a tortoise was. His reply, “It’s a turtle.” According to Arthur Dent, “She doesn’t like it to be loud. She eats salad, but with no ranch dressing.” I’d like to go on record with my massive thanks to Arthur Dent’s preschool teacher for telling the kids tortoises don’t like loud noises. Can I buy you a beer?

5. Oh, Fellow Adventurers, you’re quick. I did say “houseguests” and then only told you about Rainbow. Friday night, Amelia Earhart’s Godparents messaged us and asked if they could come the next day and stay the night! We were thrilled. Her Godparents are our most long time couple friends. We only got to hang out with them for about 24 hours, but it was enough time to drink some adult beverages and laugh until we cried. Perfect way to spend part of a weekend.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Tuesday 5: X-Philes and Martians

1. Fellow Adventurers, I JUST COMPLETED A MARATHON! That’s right. The International Man of Intrigue and I finished watching all 201 episodes of The X-Files on Netflix. It was grueling. There were some times I didn’t think we could do it. Anyone who’s finished knows that there’s that point towards the end where you just want to give up, but you have to power through anyway. Seasons 8 and 9 were excruciating, but we kept going and managed to make it through to the end. Now, to wait in anticipation of January and the new season of the X-Files that will air on Fox! 

2. As with any marathon, during this one, I had a lot of time for introspection. I had to finally admit to myself that I’m a nerd AND a geek. I started life that way. I was unpopular and a nerd in grade school and high school. I went off to college, found cool, and spent my 20’s trying to put my not cool side behind me. In my 30’s, I embraced and mingled the cool and the nerd/geek. I think it helps that it’s more socially acceptable to be a geek. In some ways, it’s celebrated. There are shows that embrace geekiness, like The Big Bang Theory. Maybe I'm reading too much into it, and really it’s just part of one’s 40’s, but the desire to give a crap what anyone else thinks is gone. 

3. My dad is responsible for my love of geeky things. (Yesterday was his birthday - Shout out to Daddy Gale on his last birthday before retirement!) When I was growing up, he constantly had his nose in a sci-fi book. I definitely inherited my need to always be reading something from him, even if the sci-fi genre didn’t stick when it comes to books. He also introduced me to X-Files. Since it started my senior year of high school and was on Friday nights, I didn’t watch much in the beginning. Later, though, I remember the show moving to Sundays. After college, I’d often go home for the weekend to do laundry and would stay to watch X-Files, since I didn’t have a TV at home (Nerd). 

4. So, for you Fellow Adventurers who've read this far and never watched an episode of the X-Files, why? Just kidding. Actually, I’m out of X-Files things. Just kidding again. I have tons more! I will spare you, however, and not list my favorites, like the funniest scene (When Mulder, Scully, and Skinner are all on the phone with each other while sitting in bubble baths in their respective hotel rooms), favorite character (When I was younger, it was Mulder, but now that I’m grown up, I have a girl crush on Scully- a strong female lead!), and biggest lie in a show seeking truth (“I do not gaze at Scully!” by Mulder. Good thing one of the show’s tag lines was “All Lies Lead to the Truth."). Oops. I guess I didn’t spare you. 

5. In non-X-Files, but still geek news, I’m hurriedly trying to finish reading The Martian by Andy Weir so I can see the movie with Matt Damon this weekend. I started reading it yesterday and was immediately sucked in, so it shouldn’t be a problem. Have you read anything good lately?

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Tuesday 5: Facebook Detox and Funny Shows

1. I’d wager to guess I’m friends with about 90% of you Fellow Adventurers on Facebook. That being the case, I’ll cut to the chase- my week long Facebook fast. I’m halfway through that week and I definitely have some take-aways. I decided to take a break from Facebook because I was so tired of negativity. I know it sounds trite and everyone says it all the time, but I really was getting bogged down in a sea of negative emotions. From political commentary to negative statements about the Pope to people just whining about things, I was starting to really take all those emotions in and take them on as well. I know I need to pare down my friends list, hide some people, unfriend others, and sort people so not everyone can see everything I post. I decided the best way to get perspective on how to do that was to detox for a week. The first day or two was hard. I realized I use Facebook as a time filler, and it’s become more of a time killer. I actually had to hide the app in a folder so I wouldn’t automatically click on it when I picked up my phone. It’s been four full days now, and I can say I don’t really miss Facebook all that much. I miss seeing some friends’ posts, but I’ve kept messenger and still had meaningful conversations this week with people I really care about. I did log on for a minute to wish The International Man of Intrigue a happy birthday, and I also logged in today just to install it on my new phone. I think I’ve had a proper detox already, but I’m committed to finishing the full seven days. I will log in this evening to post a link to this blog, however, but won’t read or check my notifications.

2. Speaking of the new phone I was installing things on, I was late to the all things iThing trend, but I love my iPhone. I do have a minor complaint, though. Could someone tell the ghost of Steve Jobs something for me? (The International Man of Intrigue is convinced Steve Jobs lives on as Siri, but that’s another topic.) The thing is this. In all of the approximately one billion times my iPhone and iPad have corrected me, I have never once, not one solitary time, meant “ducking.”

3. Some days around the Intrigue house are tough. They're especially tough when The International Man of Intrigue is traveling. Last week, there was a day that Laura Ingalls Wilder had no nap. The other Little Explorers were crazy, too. Arthur Dent woke up, and woke everyone in the house by five thirty in the morning. By afternoon, everyone was grouchy. Of course, Gertrude Bell decided she needed to ask questions about cleavage. Heaven help me. I managed to make it to bedtime, and I felt like I deserved a major award. When I get that award, I’ll make sure to thank the television and the invention of Netflix and on-demand childrens’ programming for supporting my win.

4. Speaking of television, why did no one tell me that The Mindy Project is ducking HILARIOUS?! ("Ducking?" Thanks, Steve Jobs.) I have only watched two episodes, but if laughing out loud while sitting alone in the living room and then worrying it was so loud it would wake the Little Explorers is any indication, I’d say it meets muster for my idea of funny.

5. Fluff question of the week: Are there any musical artists who you really enjoy but you just don’t care for the choices in the music they record? For me, two really stand out. The first is Carrie Underwood. I loved her music several years ago, but her last several albums have left me cold. I am equally cold when it comes to Keith Urban’s music, in large part. He has some songs I really like, some that have grown on me, but a lot of times his choices don’t work for me. which is unfortunate, because I really like his vocals and from what I know of him, I think he sounds like someone I’d love to have a cup of coffee with.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Tuesday 5: Grocery Lists and Google

1. Laura Ingalls Wilder is just two months short of turning two. Mrs. British Neighbor asked me today what her birthday theme was going to be. I suggested, “Mommy loves you even when you scream like a banshee.” So, if you were wondering, yes, Laura Ingalls Wilder is still doing the brain scrambling, ear shattering scream. It’s just as endearing as you'd imagine, Fellow Adventurers.

2. All my Catholic friends are excitedly posting updates about Pope Francis landing in the U.S. I’m over here like, “Well, technically, I was geographically closer to him when he was visiting Castro.” I’d like to reassure those of you who support my political campaign that if you actually get me on the ballot, I promise to stand up during a debate and say, “I can see Cuba from my house.” in my best Tina Fey doing Sarah Palin impression. 

3. Today on our neighborhood garage sale page, someone posted a “beautiful black pant suit with sequence collar.” I swear, Fellow Adventurers. Really? I am not perfect at grammar. I make mistakes. I misspell things, too. Frequently. Here’s a hint, though. If you’re on your phone or computer to post something to the internet, anyway, you can type the word into Google to see if it’s spelled correctly. You can also ask Google those dumb questions that you’re about to type on social media to keep you from looking like a moron. For example, if someone says tomorrow is Yom Kippur (yes, I just Googled how to spell that) and you don’t know what Yom Kippur is, you can put it into Google instead of commenting, “What’s that.” You’ll also get handy links to articles with information about the holiday. It just makes me a little crazy that, in this day of instant information, we don’t use it to expand our basic knowledge. Ok, my soapbox is a little high. Pardon me while I step down.

4. People have asked me my process in writing the Random 5. It’s really not very refined. I make notes on my phone throughout the week with little passing thoughts that might turn into ideas. I write the whole thing Tuesday night and post it almost immediately, with little or no editing, which is probably pretty apparent. Tonight, I opened the notes section on my phone and couldn’t figure out what I was supposed to be writing about “Diet Coke, Soap, Toilet Paper.” Yes, I was looking at my grocery list. I bet you guys would be thrilled to read that. 

5. I have a free evening this evening. I’ve been working on cleaning out my closet and drawers. I’m at a good point to take a night off. I think I’m going to turn off the TV and go sew for a few minutes, then go to bed and read. What do you like to do when you have a free evening?

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Tuesday 5: Dinner Menus, Dreams, and Dolls

1. Fall has come to Florida. While the rest of you are enjoying cooler mornings and a crispness in the air, we’re enjoying fall, too. It’s still miserably hot and humid. I was outside for 15 entire minutes today, while I picked up Arthur Dent and then we hung around for a few minutes to say hi to Gertrude Bell while she was at recess. When I crawled back in the car, my hair was dripping and my clothes were wet with sweat. I still knew fall was here, though—there were love bugs on and in the car. If you don’t know what they are, consider yourself, and the bumper of your car, fortunate.

2. In the interest of trying to get some things done now that the kids are back in school, I’ve been trying to take on some projects that I’ve been putting off. Today, I reduced the number of tops in my closet by one third. I’ve also gone through handbags and jackets in the past week, and started on shoes. I need to get a handle on scarves and jewelry next. I feel so much better when I have less “stuff,” so I’m lightening my load. 

3. I’ve been having some unusual dreams lately. Last week, it was a dream about trying to buy feta cheese in a blizzard with David Duchovny.  Monday morning, I sat straight up in bed after dreaming that I was being attacked by a giant frog. I was saved in the nick of time when Agent Doggett shot the toad as it jumped at me. Coincidently, that precisely corresponds with Season 8, Episode 19 of the X-Files, which we watched tonight. Totally normal, right?

4. We had a major crisis on our trip to Georgia last week. We were five minutes from Reagan’s Godparents’ house when Gertrude Bell let out a scream of pain that almost ran me off the road. Once I regained my composure and made sure Gertrude Bell wasn’t injured, I found out that her doll, Mary, had a hole in her body. For those of you not familiar with Mary, Gertrude Bell got her for Christmas the year she turned three. Mary has been around the world with Gertrude Bell, literally. She is Gertrude Bell’s most prized possession. Gertrude Bell sleeps with her every single night, and takes her almost everywhere she goes. It’s not a shock that Mary has a hole, it’s more of a shock that it’s taken so long. Today, Gertrude Bell broke down in heaving sobs as we packed Mary in a box (with lots of insurance!) to mail to Grandma for repair. This will be the first time she’s spent the night without Mary, ever. Every hotel room we’ve stayed in, from Bangladesh to Kansas, Mary has been beside Gertrude Bell. She’s been to almost every show-and-tell day at school, and now she’s been entrusted to the U.S. Postal Service for a two day trip to Grandma’s, and another trip back. Fingers crossed, send some good vibes, Fellow Adventurers. In the overall scheme of things, no big deal, but in the Intrigue Family, the hugest deal. 

5. What’s on your dinner menu this week? We had crock pot chicken tacos last night. Tonight, pad thai. I stabbed myself in the palm with a dry rice noodle. It was no joke, Fellow Adventurers. I need a band-aid. The rest of the week is shrimp with dill and farro, veggie lasagne, and frozen pizza. The Intrigues always have pizza on Friday. Now that I’ve found a cheese free version that I like, I feel even less guilty. Seriously, though, Fellow Adventurers, I’d love to hear your meal plans, especially if they include anything that can be completely pre prepped or cooked in the crock pot. Now that school is back in session and activities are in full swing, that’s a necessity. 

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Tuesday 5: Of Firsts and Lasts

1. As promised, a report on Arthur Dent’s first day of school. He had a rough morning. I think it was mostly nerves, but partly the fact that he actually had to wear pants and shoes. He really hates wearing pants. The struggle is real, y’all. 

2. What did I do with my newly found part time mother of one status? Not pick up my preschooler on time, that’s what. Yes, I was that parent on the first day of school. I thought they were released at 12:30, but it was really 12:15. Arthur Dent was standing there all alone with his teacher, waiting for me. I guess I won’t have to make room for this year’s Mother of the Year trophy.

3. Since it was a holiday weekend, I decided to take advantage of The International Man of Intrigue being around and of an extra long weekend, so I loaded Amelia Earhart and Gertrude Bell into the car and headed to visit Amelia Earhart’s Godmother. It was worth every minute of the five hour drive to hang out in her Godparents’ house. They are from Rhode Island and I love the accent and the loud and the just being with people we’ve known since before The International Man of Intrigue and I were married. Amelia Earhart’s Godfather (who was out of town doing training with the Army) was even in our wedding party. It’s just nice and comfortable to be with friends who are like family, even if that means hanging out in the attic and using the shop vac on the water leaking from the air conditioning unit.

4. There was one thing that was tough about the trip. I haven’t been back to that part of Georgia since we were stationed there almost six and a half years ago. When I crossed the county line, I had a visceral reaction. My heart started racing and tears welled up in my eyes. The five years we spent there were full of such intense emotions. There were the highest highs- Amelia Earhart and Gertrude Bell were born there- and the lowest lows. The International Man of Intrigue went through back to back 12 and 15 month deployments with barely a year in between the two while we lived there. Some of my Fellow Adventurers know the tightness that sits on your chest when you think too hard about those long, hard years. Sure, there were bright spots, friendships that are still treasured, babies born, First Communions and first days of school, but they’re still tinged with the pain of family members away at war, some who didn’t come back, or came back irrevocably changed.  Gertrude Bell and Amelia Earhart asked to drive by the hospital where they were born, the churches where they were baptized, and our old house. I indulged them with a smile and told them stories as we drove by the old places that they don’t really remember and that I won’t forget.

5. Are any one else's kids absolutely nuts on school nights? I know my kids just aren’t fully adjusted to being back to the grind, but I’m starting to understand the appeal of boarding school. Also, Laura Ingalls Wilder has learned how to ask, “Why?” That should all be sufficient to explain why I’m going to wrap up my five so I can watch X-Files and drink the rest of a mint slush with cucumber vodka that I found in the back of the freezer while I was trying to cobble something together for dinner. 

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Tuesday 5: Diet and Exercise

1. So, I’m on day 24 of my newly turned leaf of eating right and working out. It’s going pretty well. I’m not losing a ton of weight, but my body shape is really changing. My daily workout is free online—it’s a site called Bikini Body Mommy. The pros are that it’s free and it really works. You can also pay an extra $1.99/mo (Canadian) and access extra workouts. I’ve done that and added the ab workout to my daily routine. The cons were none until this week. She lets her preschool age kid interrupt the workout and it’s really annoying. He starts out screaming in the background, then he wanders in and is in the way. I have four Little Explorers of my own who are constantly interrupting my workouts, despite the fact that I do them at 6:15 in the morning. I don’t need to listen to her annoying kid screaming and her jacking around with him. Today, I did better at tuning it out and got in a decent workout, but in the future, I may skip those weeks and repeat a different week instead. 

2. I’ve also been eating well. I have had some major milestones this week. Yesterday I went to Costco hungry. I filled the cart, but it was with things like red bell peppers and watermelon instead of chips. This weekend, The Intrigue Family attended the Kansas City Royals game, and due to unexpected events, we were a bit late getting home. Since we knew it would be cutting it close to bedtime on a school night, we opted to do drive thru McDonalds for dinner. The Little Explorers got Happy Meals, The International Man of Intrigue got his favorite Big Mac meal, and I got…wait for it…a Diet Coke. I waited to eat until we got home, even though I was starving. I did ask The International Man of Intrigue if licking Laura Laura Ingalls Wilder’s fries before I gave them to her counted as calories. I don’t know why he laughed. I was at least mostly serious.

3. Amelia Earhart and Gertrude Bell are on their second week of school. It seems like we’ve been able to ease into the school year since The International Man of Intrigue was off work again this week- the last of his use or lose leave- and Arthur Dent doesn’t start VPK (Voluntary Pre Kindergarten in the State of Florida) until next week. (Check this spot in the next Tuesday Five for consternation and hysterics as I send my baby boy off to school.) Next week, we’ll have school and activities in full force, so I have to step up and focus on menu planning and meal prep so afternoons and evenings are tolerable and The Intrigues who get hangry can avoid meltdown. 

4. I’m having trouble with what seems like a big decision I need to make in the next week or so. The previous two years, I was a member of a MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) group at a local church. I had to quit in January of last year when it became clear that there were some denominational prejudices the host church had against my particular choice of denomination. That’s another story, but several friends have asked me to join a MOPS group at a different local church. Part of me longs for the spiritual boost and the opportunity to make new friends. Part of me is exhausted after twelve years of making friends and moving, or watching them move. Friendships don’t fit in a moving truck. It’s amazing and wonderful to have friends all over the world. I find it astounding that I, Dorothy Gale, from small town Kansas, have not only lived all over the world, but that I could sign off from writing this blog and message my friends in Zimbabwe, or California, or Poland, or India. I also find it hard, the making of new friends every few years. I know part of my hesitation is also because of an inherent anti-Catholic bias I’ve experienced both times we’ve lived in the south, and that caused me to leave my last group. I have no reason to believe that bias is present in the new MOPS group, but it makes me anxious all the same. I don’t know the answer to my hesitation to put myself out there again.

5. I just finished reading Judy Blume’s new book, “In the Unlikely Event.” It had a good plot and the character development was spot on. I love that one of the favorite authors of my childhood now writes books I savor as an adult. Now I’m reading, “For The Love: Fighting for Grace in a World of Impossible Standards” by Jen Hatmaker. Let me tell you, this woman gets me. She really gets me. I’ve laughed and cried, and I’m only halfway finished. 

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Tuesday 5: Guess who checked out on the X-Files this week!

1. I’ve recently decided that I’d like to start carrying a microphone around in my purse, that way when I do something awesome or make an insightful statement, I can pull it out and drop it to the ground.

2. Tonight, after The International Man of Intrigue put Laura Ingalls Wilder to bed, we caught her on the video baby monitor trying to climb out of her crib. At 21 months, she’ll be the Little Explorer who attempted it at the earliest age, and she’s on the very petite end of the spectrum anyway, so also the shortest. The other Little Explorers just weren’t interested in climbing out, thank goodness. There is no way that Laura Ingalls Wilder is ready or sensible enough for a toddler bed, though, so things could get interesting.

3. My car is in the shop this week. In looking for some paperwork in the glove box, I realized there was paperwork from brake jobs and other repairs that date back two duty stations and are for an entirely different vehicle. It turns out my glove box is just the car version of the junk drawer. Speaking of which, I found a night light for a 220 volt plug near the junk drawer yesterday. We haven’t lived anywhere with a 220 volt power system for two and a half years. I have no idea where it materialized from, but that is the nature of the Intrigue Household. There’s really no point to guessing.

4. I keep seeing these commercials lately about only paying for what you need in a wireless plan. It’s these older people saying how they don’t need text or data. What I want to know is, can I get a plan with about 15 talk minutes a month? I don’t need phone on my phone plan. Text me all day long, reach me on social media, but don’t call. You’ll just end up listening to Laura Ingalls Wilder scream. 

5. Into the continuing saga of now famous people who were killed off in the X-Files before they were famous enters Bryan Cranston. The Breaking Bad star is the main character in Season 6, Episode 2 of the X-Files. He lasts until almost the end of the episode, when his head explodes. And that’s your Tuesday 5. (Drops mic.)

And, for your viewing pleasure, Bryan Cranston himself, dropping the mic:

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Tuesday 5; Chris Farley and ER

1. I’m confused as to what day it is. The International Man of Intrigue is off work this week, which makes every day seem like Saturday. He had a lot of leave (leave=vacation days in military speak) that was use or lose, so we made it kind of a staycation. Actually, it really hasn’t been a staycation. Over the weekend we painted the kitchen and living room. We’ve taken The International Man of Intrigue’s Jeep to get fixed from where he got rear ended last month. We have a dentist appointment, back to school nights, and more and more. 

2. Laura Ingalls Wilder has a new hobby. It’s screaming. She has several eardrum shattering variations. The first is one the kind that makes sound effects technicians green with envy. It’s the perfect horror film scream, starting out high and then suddenly jumping an octave to blood-curdling. I thought that one was going to drive me crazy until she invented one today that may drive me to drink. It’s somewhere in the sound range of nails on a chalkboard with a volume about equal to a rock concert. It’s a full on pterodactyl screech, done at top volume and pausing only for breath. Oh, how I long for the days when she just yelled “poop” everywhere we went. I have a headache.

3. Today, the to-do list included taxes. Yes, in August. We had to file an extension since we didn’t have Laura Ingalls Wilder’s social security number in time to file by April 15. Taxes are one of the few things in life that really make me feel not smart. I don’t understand taxes. Once I tried to use Turbo Tax, but I got so frustrated because I didn’t understand half the things they were asking me to input that I gave up. It doesn’t help that every year, we have some “unusual” thing, like deployment, buying or selling a house, adoption, or who knows what. No matter how hard I try to collect anything that seems pertinent, when I take my pile of taxes to the accountant, we’re missing something. Getting taxes done not only makes me feel not smart, it makes me feel like maybe I’m only masquerading as an adult. I have no idea of the depreciation schedule of a house we bought a decade ago, and absolutely no clue what capital gains really means if you can lose money but still have it. Since that saying about death and taxes seems to be true, I guess I have a lifetime to figure it out, or to check my ego once a year.

4. As I mentioned before, we’ve been watching X-Files. I get a major kick out of recognizing actors playing bit parts before they were famous. Jack Black got killed off in one episode. We were watching the other night, and the actor and roll were so foreshadowing it was creepy. Remember the guy who played Dr. Romano on ER? He was the main character in Season 4, Episode 12 of the X-Files. As Dr. Romano, he played an ER doctor who lost his arm in an accident with a medivac helicopter, and was later killed by the same, which is when, coincidentally, I stopped watching the show, because, for me, that helicopter was like a giant shark, and Dr. Romano was wearing skis. Back to the X-Files episode, which aired less than a year before Dr. Romano joined ER. The same actor played Leonard Betts, an EMT who was beheaded in an ambulance accident. (Insert X-Files theme here) Creepy, huh?

5. I’ve started a diet and exercise program that I’m pretty committed to. I’ve lost some weight and kept to a daily workout routine for almost two weeks now. I feel like I’ve done pretty well at eating the right things to keep me from being hungry and cranky, but a friend reminded me of this little Chris Farley gem, (Thanks, Emily!) and I realized something: 

LAY OFF ME. I’M STARVING. Happy Tuesday, Fellow Adventurers.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Tuesday 5: Back to School, Back to School...

Tuesday, again, and I’m writing in the middle of the day, due to the fact that I can’t comprehend getting off of the couch for the next thirty minutes. I did start the dishwasher first, so that sort of counts, right?

1. This morning, I took all four Little Explorers shopping for back to school supplies. They were mostly little monsters, fighting and begging and whining and more fighting. This is why I can’t fathom getting up off the couch. The upside is that, even when the other kids were hitting her and Amelia Earhart made this known to everyone in Target, and probably also everyone in the parking lot, even the ones with their windows up and radio on, I did not yell and mostly kept my cool. I’m pretty sure the whole experience reset my purgatory clock to zero. 

2. Arthur Dent has been a royal mess lately. He’s been waking up in the middle of the night and making sure to come into our room so that I can enjoy his company midway through my REM phase. The other night, he came in and so I promptly sent him to the bathroom. A few seconds later, a not even close to awake International Man of Intrigue stumbled to the bathroom. His response to being surprised by the bathroom being occupied at 4 am? “I really wasn’t expecting a line at that time of night!”

3. A couple of other weird highlights from Arthur Dent this week: The International Man of Intrigue had to put “yucky polish” (a nail polish that tastes bad to prevent finger biting, etc) on Arthur Dent’s TOES to keep him from biting his toenails. Arthur Dent also broke down in a hysterical crying meltdown when he randomly asked for ice cream- which we almost never eat- and was told that there wasn’t any in the house. For the next several hours, he could be heard to occasionally mutter in a very pitiful voice, “I just wanted some ice cream.” This kid keeps me on my toes, Fellow Adventurers.

4. I’m a little anxious about school starting back up. I’m equal parts relieved to have a break from the Little Explorers and crushed that I won’t get to spend all day with them. Arthur Dent will be in school during the morning, so it will just be Laura Ingalls Wilder and me for a few hours each day. I do feel like I have to up my meal planning and prepping game now that activities will be starting up and piano lessons have already moved back to right before dinner. Any suggestions as to how you keep on top of things?

5. Reading and Watching: We just started watching the Netflix original series Daredevil. It’s really good. I just finished reading “Dad is Fat” by Jim Gaffigan. I relate to him because we’re both fat and we both have a lot of kids and we’re both Catholic. I really enjoyed the book, even giggling out loud in parts. It was a little scatterbrained and choppy, though, perhaps making me Gaffigan-like in another way- the book felt more like a blog than a book. I’m not sure what I’m going to read yet. Any great suggestions? 

Thursday, August 6, 2015

The Livingstones, I Presume

I know I’m a day late in posting. I think I’ve come down with the post vacation blues. I could be wrong, but the fact that I picked all the M&Ms out of a bag of trail mix leads me to believe it’s the doldrums. I'll make it up to you with a Wednesday Random Six. Forgive me, Fellow Adventurers?

1. When you count the people you love who aren’t blood relatives, who do you count? The Intrigues just took a ten day vacation with some people on our list. After ten days, they’re not only still on the list, but they've moved up a few spaces. We first met The Livingstones two combined kids ago, while living in Sri Lanka. They were present for many adventures, and were first featured on the blog in Monsoon Dinner Theater. As you age and your family changes, it’s harder and harder to find friends who mesh with you, especially entire families who mesh with your entire family. The Livingstones and The Intrigues are a perfect match. All four adults enjoy each other’s company in any given combination or pairing. All seven kids can wander off and play for hours without arguing. The downside of our friendship is that this little vacation we just shared took place in between The Livingstone's assignment in Sri Lanka and their next assignment in Zimbabwe. Distance is a bummer, as all you Fellow Adventurers who move on a regular basis understand.

2. The three Livingstone kids are all girls, so we’ll name them after the three fairies from sleeping beauty- Flora, Fauna, and Merryweather. Flora is six months younger than Gertrude Bell. Fauna is six months younger than Arthur Dent. Merryweather is, you guessed it, six months younger than Laura Ingalls Wilder. The adults have high hopes for a possible Intrigue-Livingstone merger in the form of a marriage twenty or so years down the road between Arthur Dent and one of the little Livingstones. Should that happen, all future holidays will be spent with the happy couple and they will never have to worry about splitting their time between families, since each set of in-laws will insist the other be present!

3. Whenever Mr. Livingstone and The International Man of Intrigue get together, they manage to invent games that involve throwing things. In Sri Lanka, when both families were quarantined with Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease, (more severe than its North American contagious disease counterpart) they invented a game called “CrocShoes,” which was a lot like horseshoes, but with more ridiculous rules. This time around, as we sat in the hallway of the hotel at Disney World, drinking beer and whispering to keep from waking the kids who were sleeping on the other side of the doors, Mr. Livingstone and The International Man of Intrigue invented “Ninja Card,” the basic gist of which is seeing who can fling a hotel key further. 

4. Speaking of putting babies to sleep, Laura Ingalls Wilder was less than cooperative upon being asked to sleep in a pack and play at the hotel and at the beach house. Fortunately, there’s an app for that. White noise apps are a thing, which is amazing and something every traveling parent should know!

5. Proof that The Livingstones and The Intrigues parent in a similar fashion came on one of our last days together. Mrs. Livingstone and I were standing in the kitchen, talking over coffee. She looked at me and said, “We’re just tuning it out.” I looked at her questioningly. She said, “You know, the babies?” It was then that I tuned into the fact that both Laura Ingalls Wilder and Merryweather were both splayed out on the kitchen floor, throwing temper tantrums. I can't end this without noting that The International Man of Intrigue described Merryweather as "squishy and soft, like a marshmallow." She really is a perfectly chubby one year old.

6. Yesterday, we hugged and fought back tears as we sent The Livingstones off in a van, weighed down with suitcases, to catch their flight to Zimbabwe. The Intrigues love you, Livingstones! Godspeed! If you have Livingstones in your life, take a minute to tell them you appreciate them!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Tuesday 5: The Urgency of Fruit Snacks

1. The International man of Intrigue and I have been watching X-Files in the evenings. Last night, we watched one where Jack Black had a minor part. I love watching old programs and seeing people who are now famous in bit parts. 

2. My commitment to cheering others up with good mail is working well. I’ve sent out several fun cards and packages, both to people who requested to be on my “Happy Mail” list and those who haven’t. There are still lots of Fellow Adventurers with your names on the list who I haven’t gotten to yet. Don’t worry, I haven’t forgotten! If any other Fellow Adventurers want on the “Happy Mail” list, hit me up on Facebook.

3. I’ve been reading a lot lately, since it’s summer.  I have a lot of thoughts about “Go Set a Watchman” by Harper Lee, but that should probably be for another time. Other than that, I haven’t read anything outstanding in the past couple of weeks. Have you?

4. The other day, I was in the bathroom and Arthur Dent started pounding on the door. I told him to give me privacy and I’d be out in a minute. He shoved his package of fruit snacks under the bathroom door and said, “I just need you to open my gummies, mama.”

5. The summer seems to be flying by. The Little Explorers have gotten to have lots of adventures, and plenty of time with Legos and library books as well. When they’re fighting, I can’t wait for school to start in a month, but when they’re getting along or we’re having fun doing activities, I wish summer could last forever. 

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Tuesday 5: Life in the Sunshine State

1. The Intrigue Family currently resides in Florida. Some people really, really love it here. While we understand the appeal, it is not on our list of places to make our forever home. For one thing, it is approximately the temperature of the sun plus or minus 11 degrees all summer long. That temperature coupled with the kind of humidity an actual humidifier expels makes for mind numbingly miserable weather from about April to October. Here are a few other Florida summer novelties:

2. We all know that Floridians live in flip flops. Florida also has a very unique summer dress code. Again, summer is from about April to October here. Summer in Florida means bathing suits under clothes at all times. Going to the grocery store? Put on a swimsuit and clothes over the top. The mall? Swimsuit with clothes over them? Any amusement park? Clothes and swimsuits. Church? Swimsuit straps poking out from under modest clothes. The assumption is that everyone has either just stepped out of the pool or could decide to go swimming at any minute.

3. Our neighborhood is home to lots of Sandhill Cranes. They’re a protected species. I’m pretty sure they’re also the reason the phrase “bird brain” was coined. They’re big birds with tiny heads and blank stares. I’m pretty sure they landed on the protected list because they’re so dumb they need protection just to survive. They crane their necks in and out while they stroll through the neighborhood. They also have recently taken a liking to our driveway. Lately, whenever I come home from the store and have the garage door open while I unload the groceries from the back of the mini van, so as not to crush the lift gate with the garage door. (See, I don’t always smash the mini van with the garage door!) those cranes come out of nowhere and try to invite themselves in the garage. No amount of shooing and screaming seems to bother them. Yesterday, we had friends over to visit and when they left to go to their car, there were the Sandhill Cranes, wandering over from the driveway and blocking them in the sidewalk. I had to let our friends back in the house so they could exit the garage and get in their car, and while they were getting in, here came the cranes, trying to invite themselves in! It’s really exasperating, and with the dead stares, frankly, a little creepy.

4. Today, the Little Explorers and I, along with our neighbors, headed to the Clearwater Aquarium, home of Hope and Winter, the dolphins from the movie Dolphin Tale and Dolphin Tale two. Since military and their guests get free admission, both moms and all seven kids got in gratis. It was awesome. We splurged and spent under ten bucks in the McDonald’s drive thru on the way home to get everyone ice cream. A cripplingly hot outing but lots of fun.

5. On the way home, driving over a causeway, surrounded on both sides by the Bay, “Margaritaville” by Jimmy Buffett came on the radio. A perfectly appropriate end to a Florida summer day. 

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Tuesday 5: Porch Chickens and Root Beer

1. Today started ridiculously early. Arthur Dent woke me up around 5:30 and then Amelia Earhart burst in at 6:00 with a bloody nose. That was it. Up and at ‘em. The day went on  with Laura Ingalls Wilder only napping for about 30 minutes. All in all, it was a wicked combination. It seems as though at least one kid was crying at any given point in the day. By the end of the day, it was obvious that success would have nothing to do with anything but me managing to keep everyone alive. It’s now 8 p.m., everyone had dinner, the house is only sort of messy, and all four Little Explorers are tucked in. I win!

2. One time, I read that the appropriate number of times to vacuum per week is the number of people in your family plus one. So, for the Intrigue Family, that equals seven. Seven. If there were but one more Intrigue in our family, I would officially never be caught up.

3. Today, I found out that Mrs. British Neighbor has never had root beer. I assured her we would be remedying this as soon as possible. She then asked me a question that I had no answer for. “What does it taste like?” Fellow Adventurers, how would you describe that taste? I was dumbstruck. “Like…Liiiike….root beer? I don’t know? Root beer is a flavor unto itself.” I can describe lots of different cola type flavors. Dr. Pepper is cola with a hint of prune. Kik, the cola of Sri Lanka, is a more acrid flavor of cola. In India, their cola is called Thums Up and it is cola with a hint of anise/black licorice flavor. Cheerwine, that southern cola, tastes like it’s been spiked with cherry cough syrup. But, how do you describe root beer? I do not know.

4. We’ve discussed loveys before, but here’s a new one. Laura Ingalls Wilder has a tiny stuffed penguin named Sumo. She loves Sumo and always has. It used to be she was perfectly happy sleeping with her arm around Sumo and leaving him in the crib for the day. Suddenly, lately, he has to go everywhere with her. Everywhere. As a precaution, The International Man of Intrigue suggested I order a spare Sumo from Amazon. I did, and he arrived today. Conveniently enough, the “real” Sumo needed a bath. I pried him from Laura Ingalls Wilder’s hands and tossed him into the wash. Laura Ingalls Wilder, who, to reiterate, had almost no nap, instantly started wailing. I decided to try out the backup. Laura Ingalls Wilder grabbed him and instantly recoiled. She held him out and seemed puzzled. She ran two fingers across new Sumo’s tummy, and got a disgusted look on her face. “Soooooot.” In Laura Ingalls Wilder speak, that’s “soft,” said with utmost revulsion. She wanted nothing to do with the new, soft Sumo, she wanted the slightly rough feeling, pilled fabric of old Sumo. Skipping to the good part, by bedtime, Laura Ingalls Wilder had TWO Sumos. I tried to take new Sumo away, and she screamed. I tried to take old Sumo away, and she screamed. She went to bed with her arm tucked tight around two Sumos. Sigh. I will have to sneak one out while she’s asleep. 

5. Today, I was reminded that when I was just out of college, my parents had a chicken that lived on their front porch for a while. We named it Chicken Art. It was thusly named sarcastically after my friend, Art, who mocked Chicken Art. That’s awkward because now we sometimes call Arthur Dent by the nickname Art, and I told the kids the story of Chicken Art without thinking of it today. Now, I’m mostly hoping the kids forget the story of Chicken Art, or Arthur Dent is going to have it used against him by his older sisters. When that happens, I don’t win at parenting.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Tuesday 5: It's Finally Summer Break!

1. In the “It Takes a Village” category, I took most of the Little Explorers to the dentist today. The three older ones were due for a cleaning and I was well past due. I dropped Laura Ingalls Wilder off with a friend and picked up Mrs. British Neighbor to help supervise kids in the waiting area when it wasn’t their turn. It went amazingly. Each Little Explorer did great getting their cleaning and x rays, and there were no cavities for anyone but me. In my defense, it’s a cavity under the edge of a crown that was poorly installed about four years ago. The tooth has already had a root canal and now I’ll have to have the crown replaced. I wish dental insurance covered actual dentistry. It seems like it mostly covers cleanings and just enough of actual dental work to make you keep paying for it, but not enough to actually help much with the cost. 

2. Last night, Arthur Dent seemed to have a bit of a fever when I went to kiss him goodnight before I crawled in bed. He is my kid that spikes very high fevers very quickly, so, since The International Man of Intrigue was on a quick work trip, I scooped Arthur Dent up and put him in bed with me. There’s something about having one of my children next to me in bed that makes me nostalgic for every moment of their childhood and for just how little they still are. Arthur Dent’s body, heavy with sleep, his back pressed into mine, his breathing soft and deep, reminded me of how, somehow, he became the one kid out of the four Little Explorers who co-slept. Gertrude Bell would occasionally wander in to sleep with us, but from almost day one, Arthur Dent would end up in our bed at some point in the night. We called him “The Minus Sign” because he always slept with his head in my back and his feet in The International Man of Intrigue’s back. We looked something like this: 1-1. It’s no coincidence that the answer to that little math fact is zero. As in zero sleep. Sometime, a few months after his first birthday, he started sleeping all night most nights and stayed in his crib. He still came into our room with some frequency, though. In the past year, his night time relocation has almost completely stopped. Laura Ingalls Wilder, like Amelia Earhart, has never wanted to sleep in our bed and is much happier in her crib, so The International Man of Intrigue and I have gotten used to having our uninterrupted sleep back. Even though I enjoy having our space back, I do sometimes get nostalgic for the tiny voice in the night, calling out, “Mama, can I sleep with you?” 

3. It’s day two of summer break and I’m already contemplating just how often a trip to the pool can be substituted for bathtime. 

4. There is one thing I love doing in summer. It goes back to those long hot prairie days of childhood. Every week on Wednesday, my mom would load us up in the car and drive us to town. We’d go to my small town’s tiny library and check out books and participate in the summer reading program. I think I read every book in that little library. I can still close my eyes and hear the door open and feel the rush of cold air on my hot face. I can smell the smell of books and cool air and clean floors. From a young age, I was a voracious reader. I outgrew my tiny Catholic grade school library by the time I was in late grade school. I looked forward to summer because the librarian would let me check out books from the high school and adult books in the back of the library and didn’t make me stick with “grade level” books. There wasn’t a book that was safe. One summer I read the entire Alfred Hitchcock Three Investigators series. One summer I moved on to the Westerns, and then SciFi. After we loaded up our library bag with books, it was off to the city pool to swim for a few hours. I had fun at the pool, but I loved crawling back into the steaming hot car, still dripping in my bathing suit, and reaching in the bag for my first book. I read all summer long. My mom would force us outside. Sometimes I’d play, sometimes I’d stand up, never looking up from the book, and walk out of the house directly to the first step on the front porch, where I’d plant myself and continue reading. That, my friends, is summer.

5. I’m still a voracious reader. I’d read all day if I could. When I was sitting in the NICU with little Laura Ingalls Wilder, I read about a book a day. I was so thankful for my Kindle. Being able to haul an entire stack of books halfway across the country in the form of a little electronic device was a sanity saver. Now that summer is here, I have to fight the urge to curl up on the couch and do nothing but read. The International Man of Intrigue had an unusually quick work trip this week. When he’s gone, I often spend most of the evening reading. This time, I read the first book in the Temperance Brennan series by Kathy Reichs. It’s the book series that the TV show “Bones” is based on. “Bones” is one of my favorite shows, but even I have to finally admit the show has jumped the shark the last couple of seasons. The books actually take place at a much different time in the main character’s life, which allows me to enjoy them without comparing them to their tv counterparts. I'm not going to binge read the series, but they are a fun read. What are you reading?