Sunday, December 30, 2007

Quick! Blog now the baby is sleeping!

Well, it's amazing how having a new baby, Christmas prep and moving kill blogging time.

Anyway, I write this to you from my hotel room in Medford, Oregon. We are beginning day 2 of our 'travel adventure' as hubby calls it back down to our house in Yucaipa. Anyone who thinks a Suburban is a large vehicle has never packed two adults, five kids, a dog and all the stuff we've been living with (including Christmas presents) into it for five days. Oh, and a UHaul trailer. Which says it's from Kansas, so now everyone on the road thinks we hail from Kansas and has led Jared to exclaim that it isn't a UHaul trailer, it's a Y'all Haul! trailer.

Gotta go, babe's crying. We made it here in 9 hours, so not too bad. Hubby is subsequently fired from hotel reservations as the pool is outside and no breakfast is included. But we didn't have to sleep in the car, so that's a good thing.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Sophia Marie Richardson Is Here!

Announcing Sophia Marie Richardson!

Born December 10, 2007 5:30pm
7 lbs, 11 oz
19 3/4 inches

I'll post more soon. Great birth story of course, including dueling procedures between me and hubby. We take multi tasking to the next level!





Wednesday, December 05, 2007

'Tis the Season,...

Flu season, that is. Whadda week. Tuesday began with my 8 year old complaining he didn't want to eat and his stomach hurt. First, I'm miffed that the $4.87 box of junky sugared cereal has been infiltrated and a bowl poured into milk. No saving it. After more whining I release him from the table and give him some of my 'mommy wisdom.'

"When I was your age my tummy hurt when I was upset, too." I say. He had been complaining the day before about injustices wreaked by a couple of friends. He's also upset that we are moving soon. I know how it is, I'm an army brat. I developed weird stomach anomolies in second grade too. Maybe it's hereditary.

As I take a breath and am about to launch into the whole saga, he subsequently pukes. So much for mommy wisdom; the kid is sick.

He doesn't eat much for the rest of the week, which is always worrying because as slim as my kids are (why is youth, beauty, skinniness and the desire not to eat wasted on youth??), he is skeleton boy. I just want to hook an IV up to a stick of butter and stab his arm some days.

Thursday we go up to Puyallup to celebrate SIL's birthday. My kindergartner doesn't want a snack. 'Odd' I think. Duh. When will I not be a dense mother? We go and have a great time with family. The skinny 8 year old eats a peice of bread, and the kindergarner eats only noodles.

We get home late, around 9:30pm. As I turn off the car, kindergartner throws up all over the floor of the Suburban. I enlist my 10 year old to carry the B upstairs and stick her in her crib as I calm down the wailing kindergartner while he continues to throw up in the car and all over me. We get in the house, strip down and get him in bed finally. About 10:30 I find my 9 1/2 month preggo self out in the cold dark night shopvaccing and scrubbing the back of the Suburban. Silver lining: at least he didn't eat the sauce! Get to bed around 11pm.

At about 2am I'm not feeling too great, but I think it's the residual result of cleaning up vomit. At 3am the B wakes up puking. Her bed is a loss, I clean her up and bring her into bed with me. She continues to vomit until 5 am. We've gone through a pillow case, five towels and two changes of clothes for me.

I beg my poor mother to stay late (she leaves for work at 5am) and take the only surviving healthy child to school. She does so and I tackle about 50 loads of laundry.

The only light at the end of the tunnel was logging on and seeing my So Cal neighbor Janice ALSO had the same kinda week I had. Misery loves company!

This week, so far everyone is healthy. Slowly introducing real food back to the kids. They've had a grand time surviving off of toast, sprite and jello for the last five days.

On top of this, the dog decided not to eat for the past five days, as well. He too, seems to be regaining his appetite. I think he was fasting until I took pity on him and moved him into the house. He's doing better now that he lives in the basement next to the GameCube so he gets plenty of attention. He must just be too good for that kennel in the garage.

What made us all forget this crazy flu season was on Saturday, the first day of December, it snowed! Simply perfect for four kids who spent the last year in Indonesia. Who cares it was a centimeter of snow stuck on the ground. They went out in all their mitties and scarves and scraped up enough of it to make a couple of pathetic little snowballs and had a great time.

Unfortunately, now we are back to the usual NW weather, which as you may have seen on the news, is horrible and many people are fighting flood waters. A few people have died. We are hoping for relief tomorrow.

Gee, flooding or mud slides? So tough to decide between California and Washington some days.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Random Thoughts for Today

Anyone who thinks German Shephard Dogs are smart hasn't met mine. Granted, the breed smartness is a generalization and we did get our doggie from a rescue. You get what you pay for, I suppose,...

He is outside at the moment, for fear of eating my mother's cat. So, he is bored. I'm doing the best I can, but I can't do the walks anymore, too painful with 13 days to go until baby is out in the world. It's been raining and I am a California girl at heart, can't handle dampness or anything under 60 degrees. So, I've been inside most of the time.

The dog has started having what we call 'yard sales.' He was taking the boys shoes that were on the porch outside in the basement and, I swear this is true, meticulously lining them up in a straight row on the grass. We took the shoes inside. Then it was B's outside toys. Then, he wrestled a big plastic garbage can we were using to save plastic bags to recycle at the grocery store. I picked up all the plastic shards and plastic bags and threw them out. I guess this is the grown up's version of 'the dog ate my homework.' If my carbon footprint is larger than it should be, it's becaause my dog ate my recycling bin.

And for all my attempts to save my mother's kitty while we shack up with her embarrassingly for six months, the cat HATES MY GUTS. How do I know this? Because she finds absolutely every opportunity possible to pee and poop on my things. I get the point, Isabell. I'm leaving soon. : ) I can't win. For a girl who wanted to raise horses when I grew up, I sure don't enjoy the furry wildlife at the moment.

Not that I'm complaining, but I woke up today after the dog howled me awake for the second night in a row to my 10 year old finishing his book report and my kindergartner doing his homework. At 6:30 in the morning. How can I have kids who are more disciplined than I am?

This means that I missed my 5am wake up alarm. No work was accomplished this morning, and while I have quite a few documents open right now to work on, I needed to get some blogging done to ease my brain. Maybe my version of a cigarette break.

So yes, I have turned on the boob tube for B. I don't usually have the TV on at all. I used to catch up on DVR'd version of Gray's and House, but I think she's beginning to get too conscious of the screaming, kissing and bleeding. So, we found Teletubbies, that horrible show. She wasn't very impressed, thank goodness, because after the 500th time they repeated the word GREEN, I was about to throw my shoe at the TV. What we did find that she likes is 'Animal Jam' on Discovery Kids, for anyone who cares. Except now she is dancing on the oversized ottoman along with a big creepy elephant who is singing and dancing on TV. Is this how Paris and Brittney got started? Better than the Goosebumps she watches with her brothers, I suppose.

Speaking of too yucky to go outside, did anyone else see the article about kids today getting RICKETS because they didn't drink enough milk or get enough Vitamin D because they were inside couch potatoing instead of exercising in the sunshine? Two things necessary for proper bone growth? Frightening. Especially as I keep my little one sequestered inside because I'm old and fat and tired and ready to get this baby out.

Baby is due in 13 days and everything is good. While I am certain the baby is at least 20 pounds and has a head of a steel ball bearing, my doctor assures me she's normal at around 7 pounds and only has human parts. I'm dilated to 3 centimeters, which prompted her to ask 'Now, where is your husband?' I'm banking on the fact that my uterus is as stupid as my dog and won't clue in until we have hubby home, colonscopy completed for him (two days before the due date, should I be gambling in Vegas, OR WHAT?) and the baby car seat I just ordered arrived and set up in the car. The other one is in a shipping container somewhere in Long Beach.

As much as I love, love, love moving and being incredibly random and hoboish so I don't have to really grow up, setting up households is always an expensive endeavor and I end up owning more things than I'd like. Think about it, all those spices you acummulate in your kitchen? They must be thrown out or given away for every continent hopped and new ones bought. Baby items get lost, toys are left behind and new things must be had. I think we could be early retirees if we would just stay put.

So, I hope the baby stays put until she's expected to come out. Then we smoke her out, because we are on a schedule, you know? Gotta get to California by the new year. Ridiculous, I know.

So, as waddly as I have become with the big baby sitting on all those nerves and chewing away at my ligaments so I can't lift my legs after I've been shuffling around all day, and so bloated that I've actually developed carpal tunnel, they are easier to deal with inside than out.

I have so many things to do before she comes. One includes getting my kids, especially the 8 year old, up to Seattle to the Science Center. We got a year membership because it was only a couple bucks more than the 'old woman in the shoe' price I paid to get me and my brood in for one visit. Stupidly I told him about a sea monster IMAX show that has been running since October. He LOVES dragons and dinosaurs and is freaking out wanting to see this movie. But we haven't been able to make it up yet with parties, baseball, football, basketball, and other stuff getting in the way. I'm thinking the only day I have left to get him there is next Friday, five days before the due date. Then, I think there is nothing worse than being alone with my brood an hour and half away from my doctor in Seattle and my water breaks. Except maybe being in the middle of an Indonesian mall alone with my brood and hemorraging. You only live once, right?

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Ode to Thanksgiving

It’s not like I don’t know when Thanksgiving will be each year. They don’t exactly move the holiday – it’s always basically on the same date. I have no excuse not to be prepared; in fact, I have 364 days to get ready for it each and every time it comes around. But where do I find myself each Thanksgiving Eve, but at the local grocery with the other slackers pushing a cart up and down isles looking for food products I would not otherwise buy.

Most of the year I’m pretty healthy about my eating, even if the three small boys I try and sustain are not. How they exist on yogurt enhanced with flavors that don’t exist in nature, every kind of sugary coated cereal imaginable, and a wide array of alarmingly nasty snack chips, I’ll never know. Real fruits and vegetables do manage to find themselves into my cart, and once and a while, even something as wild as tofu or a whole grain low carb cracker or two.

But let’s get back to Thanksgiving. The one thing I notice about each of the other cart pushing slackers is, we all have the same food products in our carts. Maybe the others aren’t as lame as me. Perhaps that nice lady over there thought she had one can of left over sweet potatoes in the far reaching cob webbed back corner of her cupboard. Maybe that kindly looking gentleman thought Great Aunt June was going to bring the cranberry sauce, but that fell through. Not me. No, I just don’t think about all the necessary but odd foods I’ll need in order to recreate the warm and fuzzy Thanksgivings of my and my husband’s childhoods.

So, here I am at the store as the clock strikes nine p.m on Thanksgiving Eve, along with the other twenty or so cart wielding slackers as we race like a pack of frenzied lemmings to each Thanksgiving food station in search of those last few cans of necessary items required to make the holiday a success. It’s like a marshmallow topped yam induced treasure hunt as we all try and figure out where in the world French fried onions, whole cranberries and cornbread stuffing reside in the local supermarket. I always wonder if these goodies are actually on the shelves during the other eleven months at all, or if the store manager whips them out of some storage shed in a back lot somewhere just in time. Think about it a moment. Do you find green and red candied cherries any other time than at Christmas? Does anyone actually eat those anymore, or have they gone out of fashion like marshmallow jello and pasta salad? If they do stock these things, I don’t think they put them in the same place each day. In fact I think they move them every morning in the store. This keeps us shoppers on our toes, and for those of us suffering from stress induced short term memory loss or early Altzheimer’s, a.k.a. parents, we are guaranteed to purchase more cans of odd Thanksgiving foods than if they were in the same spot in the store during that whole honorary turkey month. It isn’t by happenstance that I now have four jars of marshmallow fluff in the pantry. It’s because they keep moving the holiday food endcap, like a camouflaged hunter in a duck blind, trying to trick me every time I have to run in to the store because I forgot butter again. Racing past that pyramid display of cooking delights, each time I stop and try to remember seeing it the day previous. I look around at my surroundings, confused and disoriented, reaching yet again for the powdered sugar and chocolate chips, walking slowly to the check out. It isn’t until I reach the safety of my own home I realize I have once again forgotten the butter.

But I digress. Here I am again. Thanksgiving Eve, eyeballing the cart next to me to see if that person has figured out where the pearl onions are hidden. Crawling close the floor boards stalking that necessary box of cornbread stuffing, I pause. Where is it? In the bread aisle? Or is it with dressings? Oh, they don’t mean that kind of dressings, they mean the salad dressings, right? Oh whatever, I’m so confused. I tackle the cute stock boy on leave from college for the holidays to ask where the black olives are located. I mean, what is an olive anyway, a vegetable or a fruit? Doesn’t matter as they are located with the condiments. No wonder I can’t find anything.

Time to check out. Now my next decision is whether to hide the wedding ring or not as I hand items to the checkout clerk. They are already passing judgement against me; do I really want them to think that someone as irresponsible as me could possibly think I can cook a Thanksgiving dinner for another consenting adult, or heaven forbid, children who have no say in the matter?

Once home I feel half the battle is complete, but there are more dragons to slay. You see, our family seems to make a habit of moving right during the holiday season. This time I feel relieved to say our move only entailed swapping houses a few doors down, but usually it takes several airplanes, a truck load of baggage and a change of language before we are safely ensconced in our new home.

Not wanting this move to be any easier than the others for fear I will be out of condition for the next one, I have put off calling to turn on services until the very last minute. This means that my lovely family of five is without basic services we Americans think is our constitutional right including water, electricity, gas and satellite tv for the entire Thanksgiving weekend. Never fear, as I still hold the key to the rental house. I imagine it will be fun to pretend we are at the local campground dashing in our unmentionables down the street to use a running toilet and take a warm shower.

The Thanksgiving dinner won’t be a problem this year, as I have already impolitely invited myself to a dear friend’s house for the holiday. So what if it is their first Thanksgiving together? So what if they were married less than one month ago? Why wouldn’t they want to share this family holiday with me and my brood? Nothing says family planning like hosting three rambunctious boys at a formal sit down four course meal. My heart rate increases when they unveil the newly purchased 61 inch HDTV and sweat starts pouring down my forehead. The visions I have are not of my wonderful friend Wendy basking in the glow of the cooked turkey as she carries the platter from the kitchen to the dining table, or of that first toast to a wonderful meal, but of me intercepting nerf footballs as they are launched at the largest piece of electronics I have ever laid eyes on. I say a silent prayer as I catch the floor lamp in its arc towards meeting that shining, incredibly flat screen after a match of small boys wrestling and chug the rest of my mulled wine.

Now, maybe you are wondering what I was doing at that grocery in the middle of the night, if I have shamelessly invited myself to someone else’s house for Thanksgiving dinner. It all goes back to recreating those wonderful meals from childhood. My husband is partial to a particular stuffing. I have to wonder though, what ever possessed his mother to brown bacon in butter? Isn’t that redundant? And what possesses me to do the same? I am a college educated adult, and I recognize that bacon doesn’t really need to be browned in butter to elevate the grease factor of the stuffing to ‘saturated’. Could it be I am still reeling from the fact that his favorite comfort food comes from his ex-girlfriend’s mother, even though we’ve been married for eleven years, and I’ve given birth to all three of his children?

Well, I didn’t do his stuffing. I’ve decided to not be so neurotic, and chose instead to make my mom’s fruit salad. It is a wonderfully sweet concoction made with (full fat!) cream cheese and marshmallows. She discovered it when I was just a babe in Alaska, out of necessity because they didn’t get many fresh fruits at the time. You’d have thought I was born during the ice age. My thought is, if the cans of fruit cocktail were so bad, they had to be smothered by cream cheese and marshmallows, I question the intelligence of eating them in the first place. Anyway, I had to dash to the local supermarket to get marshmallows because the boys had used them for their marshmallow guns (another story) and of course, the (full fat!) cream cheese.

I’m sure our neighbors were wondering as I ran back and forth from the new house to the old house carrying a sauce pan and some hot pads. But nothing was going to come between me and a groovy fruit salad from my past.

Even living oversea, the pull of comfort foods was strong. Whether I was boiling down enormous squash to make ‘pumpkin’ pie, or sneaking ham underneath my underwear in luggage traveling back to Cairo, we’d do anything to recreate that special meal. Friends and I would look for hours in store after store in the Philippines to find the right ingredients for chili. We thought nothing of going over our weight limit on the airplane if it meant bringing back a few extra jars of peanut butter. I’d travel four hours in a hot van to secure a can of speghettios for my deserving children. I’ve been known to pay the equivalent of $15 US for pop tarts while outside of the United States. This is the true test of honesty in a relationship. Do you confess to your spouse that you were idiotic enough to pay that amount of money for some pop tarts? You’ve got to really love them if you let them eat a pop tart when they are three dollars a piece. It was a challenge acquiring all these foods, but the sense of accomplishment and experiencing those familiar smells and tastes were worth it.

So, if you see me this next Thanksgiving eve, pushing a cart close to midnight, know that it’s a mission of love. And I forgot the cranberry sauce again.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

A Random Look Back At Early November



Ha Ha! I remember dressing up MY dog when I was little. I have to find that picture of Shoni with my nightgown, a hat and pink sunglasses,... I do think Max looks especially tough with a pink feather boa! Like mother like daughter!



Home Depot ROCKS! The first Saturday of every month they have a free workshop for kids. You sign up, show up and they hand you a little kit, safety glasses, a hammer and an apron you get to keep. I would not give this little girl a hammer if I were you,...



This past month it was especially grand, since it was pirate ships. Aaaargh!!!! Poor Jared nailed in his 'cannons' so they were shooting inside the ship instead of out. Like mother, like son!



Here is the FANTASTIC cake that I found on the Internet and said to my mom: "Here is the cake that I,.. well, I mean us,.. okay, well, actually, YOU are going to make for Zach's eighth birthday. It looks really easy!"


Uhm,... Ben, you are supposed to throw the balls on the skeeball alley, not Brendan!

Maybe There Is Such A Thing As Too Pregnant

Okay, so after the comments I got emailed to my personal email, perhaps I should stop posting until the pregnancy has passed. I am riding the emotional roller coaster, which is always there lurking in the background for us girls, but very exemplified when preggo. Last week I had three days of 'every one is out to get me, no one cares I'm having a baby.' My husband tried to call. I emailed him and told him I didn't want to talk. When he did call I was nothing but a blubbery mess. Then, magically, I felt fine! He was just happy to be 2000 miles away not dealing with the whole loop-de-loop, I'm sure.

Only three and a half weeks to go. At my last appointment the nurse sat down to go through my chart, getting everything in order to send over to the birthing center. That's when it hit me, I'm having a baby,... SOON. Dealing with four other kids non stop one tends to forget the bun in the oven, accept when trying to bend over and tie my shoes, pick something off the floor, or attempt to look cute for the day in some sort of clothing. Ha. Then she said, "You are the picture of a perfect pregnancy." To which I replied, "Uhm,.. except for the blood clot and 50 pound weight gain,.." What chart was she looking at? But, honestly, besides those two little things, yes, absolutely. I could do this whole pregnancy thing myself.

After all, what DO you ask your OB when you are pregnant with your fifth kid? "Any questions?" asks my doctor.

"Nope," I say.

"Well, we'll see you in two weeks," she replies.

So I started to think of every possible stupid thing I could ask.

"I'm sooooo tired," I whine.

"You are pregnant," she says, closing my chart and smiling, ushering me out the door.

"I think I'm getting hairier. Here, look at my cheeks, they are fuzzier than normal. It's a good thing I'm blond. Is it my thyroid?"

She smiles. "Your thyroid is fine."

So, yes, small babies, Terri, but not a small mommy. : )

Gotta go buy some little diapers and maybe pack a bag, I guess.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Happy Scary Shopping

Okay, when I only had boys to shop for, I did run into the 'OMG, I am NOT buying that toy and WHAT PARENT WOULD?' mindset from time to time. No scary bleeding plastic figurines; no demonic action figures and nothing that promoted some movie they were too young to even see. (Same goes for Haloween. You can dress up as a Zombie, but you may not dress up as Jason. How do you know who Jason even is??)

I'm not some crazed zealot shielding my kids from the evils of the world. I am, however, their mother, as as that person, I will guide them away from things that are not appropriate and tell them why, so when they are older they can make their own decisions. It is all we as parents can do. I allow toy guns. They read Goosebumps and Harry Potter and even the Vampire Chronicles, because my oldest can handle it.

And don't get me wrong; I can't WAIT until they are old enough to bring the pillow and blankies out to the living room and watch scary movies with their mother until the crack of dawn. But not yet. I, for one, treat horror movies and books as a rollercoaster ride for my brain. I don't think reading or seeing them makes me an evil person. But, again, I'm an adult and I can handle it.

Having a girl, however, has opened my eyes to a whole WORLD of ridiculous, inappropriate toys. Wow. Barbie, maybe not so darned bad when you place her next to Bratz. Not just the creepy eye surgery and botox lips they sport, but the mindset of these dolls. Shop and shop and shop. Yes, I know lots of little girls who play with them and they are completely fine. But I have my mom as a role model, and where she allowed the 'Sunshine Family' she allowed only one Barbie doll. Did I think my friends who had 20 barbies had a better life than me? Of course. Did it scar me for life? Of course not. Did it teach me something good as an adult? I think it did.

Toy cash registers with pretend money? Great for learning. Toy credit cards and the plastic jewelry to pretend to buy? No way.

Play food? Great! Play McDonald's food? Not so great.

Then I found this great little aisle in Target that had what I'd call snooty toys. Why they had to have their own aisle, I can't imagine except for that impression they want to give their shoppers. They have these cute 'barbie' type dolls that don't have gazonga boobies and dress not so quite inappropriately. I grabbed one and a little baby with supermodel hair for my daughter. Now for the daddy doll,... no daddy doll. No boy baby dolls, no male nothin'. What's up with that? I know that the nuclear family is in the minority, but come on! It's okay to play with boy dolls! It's okay for boys to play with dolls! My boys had baby dolls when they were younger. Are these lesbian dolls who propogate with IVF? Nothing wrong with that for those who want it, but I don't. Make a boy doll for me. Are we teaching little girls that boys are not important? Living in a household with four boys (five if you include the dog), I kind of LIKE boys and think it would be cute if my daughter could pretend with her play family just like her real life family.

That doesn't mean I want to BE a boy. I am extremely happy being a girl and would like to teach my girl that being a girl is cool. But liking boys is also cool.

Which leads me to the whole controversy of the Dangerous Book for Boys and now we have a Dangerous Book for Girls. Don't even get me started down this path. I bought the first for my boy. I will NOT buy the second for my girl. I think it is ASANINE. I don't want my boys and girls to be the same. I want them to be different and cherish their differentness; respect each other for their differences and learn from them.

As a kid, one of my favorite toys was a blue metal pick up truck. But I'm a girl.

As a teenager I wore makeup. But I also trained bird dogs, got a couple of first places in field trialing competitions and my grandfather, who is a gunsmith, gave me a shotgun for my 13th birthday. But I am a girl.

As an adult, at one of the many after conference shin digs I'd go to with my co-workers, smoking a cigar and snarfing beer out of the pitcher (sorry mom), my good buddy told me, "Karen, you are a man trapped in a woman's body". Maybe true, but I am a girl.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Stuff Worth Reading

I love blogs. I love to see what people are up to, and have them lead me on other pathways that I may find interesting because they do. Blogs are kind of like Amazon.com's "People Who Bought XYZ Book Also Bought This,"

Here are a couple interesting things I found on the Internet that I think are worth reading (thanks for the links, Magan!)

Don't knock bibilical home ec from the Oped section of the LA Times. She is what I would say is a conservative baptist (maybe there are no other kinds?), a great writer and interesting blogger.

And something to chew about Mitt Romney, even if you don't lean that conservatively and think you don't care, it is an interesting reflection and for my generation, a bit of history revealed.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

All I Needed to Know I Learned From Kindergartners

So I’m helping with the Kindergarten Memory Book, which is no easy task when you are nine months pregnant, have an almost two year old and a part time job. But I said I’d do it and I need to log ‘Family Commitment Hours’ as part of my contract to enrolling my kids in this school. Why don’t they just go ahead and admit that they are ‘Overworked Mother Commitment Hours’? I can’t remember hubby doing anything to help besides get chastised for using a non-digital camera at the pumpkin patch. (serves him right.)

It is cracking me up to see what kids write. There are the usual answers to ‘what is your favorite hobby?’ like ‘riding my pony’ that you would expect from a private school. So, I guess the girl who answered ‘crab’ to her favorite food question also shouldn’t be a surprise. Neither should the ‘ravioli with white sauce’ (these are five year olds for heaven’s sake and I think they eat better than I do.)

Then there are the brown nose questions like the answer ‘vegetables’ to the ‘what’s your favorite food’ question. Yeah, right. Someone tell her she isn’t getting graded.

Then there are those completely made up questions like from my son. His favorite food? Japanese. I don’t remember ever feeding the kid Japanese food. And spending the night at his friend Ren’s house, who does happen to be Japanese, and exclaiming that tofu is gross, doesn’t count as eating Japanese food, much less claiming it as his favorite.

My kid’s favorite color? Black. What does that say about me, oh friend with the child pysch doctorate? It can’t be good.

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For those who have asked, my due date is December 12. All my kids have been around 8 lbs, with Sabrina, the only girl so far, being under 8 even though she was number four. Let the betting begin!

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And CONGRATULATIONS to Paul and Sarah who are expecting their first in July! Yay! Paul says they are now in competition to have even more kids than us. I say, more power to you!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

No Turning Back Now

Okay, okay, I'm posting. If I had time to post every day, I would have nothing to post about. :)

Thanks to all the neighbors and friends, Church acquaintances, and school friends who are excited to have us back down in Cali. Rob appreciates the kind words as he sees everbody and the references for housepainters. And let me tell you, I'll take an eight year old's birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese over the mess he moved back to any day. And that's saying a lot.

On my end, everything is hunky dory. The baby is locked and loaded, head down. No small feat since two out of four pregnancies have been breach. It's such a relief to not have to worry about that. While a version (when the dr. turns the baby around using external manipulation) isn't anywhere nearly as wonderful as full assault labor, it is extremely uncomfortable and,.. weird. Plus it leaves bruises. The last baby didn't turn with that, which led me to asking everyone available for ideas on how to get her head first. I had a lot of interesting ideas from standing on my head (can't do that when I'm NOT pregnant) to sitting on an exercise ball (good to have a use for it, because as I have learned, exercise equipment doesn't give you any of its good advantages unless you actually use it. Having the receipt in your wallet for those 10 lbs. dumbbells doesn't actually help you gain muscle. Such a bummer.) Also, from my Phd friend, as she explained in layman's terms for me, the BA holding one, "shine a flashlight up your hoo-ha." Considering she doesn't know what continent Eqypt is on, I decided not to do this one. Too 'Poltergiest' - ish if you know what I mean. "Carrie Ann, go towards the light,.."

I did finally ask my doctor and he suggested (now, remember this IS southern California, the land of crystals, flax seed and 'finding yourself') to get in a hot tub, with the water not so boiling hot. So, I did this for the whole weekend. Not as relaxing as you might think, with three boys and their friends cannon balling their preggo mother in the hot tub.

Whether this actually worked, or the doctor pushing her half way did, or she did it on her own, she turned!

I'm also dilated to 1 cm, which means absolutely nothing really, except that things are working. They seem to stall, however, when the actual delivery times comes along, making me at least, very thankful I don't like in the old days, as I would have died with the first birth. Here's to pitocin!

Friday, November 09, 2007

Have a Happy Life




If you haven't seen it yet, I strongly recommend Evan Almighty with Steve Carel. It is HILARIOUS, has a good message and absolutely NO SWEARING. It has a better family rating than riding with me in my car any day of the week.






And for another happy moment, check out Edward Beck's book Soul Provider. I've just begun to read it, but his easy writing style and interesting correlations to everyday opportunities to grow in your own spiritual faith make this a book that you'll grab to read over and over again. A Catholic priest, Beck discusses spirituality that transcends our human need to typify religion; he brings in tenants from many different faiths to dscuss a 5th Century 'step to being a good person'. It is very timely today in a society where we try and fill our emptiness with things ( I like Nordstrom more than I should, I'll admit it), and we seem to be hit more and more often with tragedies such as the recent fires in California, flood and famine in the world, and human atrocities we inflict on each other every day. (Just this week investigators unearthed a UPS pilot living in a nice suburban lakeside community who has been beating and raping little boys for the past decade. He has video of these awful things in his house. We are talking more than 20 victims who have been identified already. Unbelievable.)

Soul Provider and his other books God Underneath Me and Unlikely Ways Home remind us that we as human beings are fallible and that's okay. Life is a learning event. Dust yourself off and try again, don't beat yourself over the head because you aren't perfect. But don't give up either.














Friday, November 02, 2007

Thurston County Football 2007

A couple of pictures for daddy who is down in So Cal sewing our lives back together; assessing damage of the house from uncaring tenants, moving household goods back in after we spent our moving allowance on shipping heavy, but beautiful teak furniture back from Bali, and setting up utilities. Fun fun fun.

Anyway, here is Jared in all his glory. He had a great football season; six touchdowns, lots of tackles and many other things that I as a football illiterate fail to understand. It was nice having him play in a smaller league. That and the other kidney I had to sell to pay for his overnight football camp this past summer.
I feel like we won the parenting Olympics since his coach told us at least three different times what a great kid he is. And that he is. We are very fortunate and I at least hope I don't screw him up in the next eight years. Here's praying for help with parenting,.. ugh.
Here are a few pics from my buddy at work who's boy also plays football (on another team) sent over. His wife has a killer camera. Maybe Santa will visit us this year and take Rob out of the analog age. : )










Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween!`



Look what my mom did: me and my brother and most of our broods. I'm supposed to say, "Is there a gun show in town?"



Oi vey, can't believe I have five kids with this,.. man,...



The loveliest witch of them all, Michelle and her boys.



Samantha in her poodle skirt! Kermit and Shawna, next year you have to dress up so I can let all the world see!



Michelle and Thad! Yay!

Partaaay!

Okay, everyone who knows me realizes that I loooove a party. So, halloween makes the perfect time to be a kid again and act completely ridiculous, which I find easy to do. It has to be my favorite holiday. I get all revved up for the entire holiday season, which now spans from October to January 17 for me. Here is what we did for Halloween:

Decorations: of course can not be store bought, you must use your imagination.



The infamous monster in the closet.



Guest parking.



Baby monster!



Creepy pipe cleaner/styrofoam spiders!



And games! This was 'we found a guy and tore him to pieces, can you guess what part of him I'm holding in the paper bag?' You know, good Christian family fun. So, peeled grapes for eyeballs, cold cooked speghetti noodles for veins, soft flour tortillas for skin, sponge for the brain, peeled hotdogs for fingers. Then, we had a monster toss and fish in the creepy critter creek.

Boy, can't wait for Thanksgiving!!! Pumpkin seed spitting contest, pumpkin roll relay, corn husking competition,.. sigh, .. I'm giddy,...

Halloween Party Food!

The best thing about a party is the food. Do you remember that movie with Cher in it where she could only cook appetizers? I feel like that character - I am known for my food-posing-as-something-else. It's almost an illness and it's being fed by Grandma Nonnie, who keeps finding all these excellent recipe books with more and more food concoctions that I must try!

Okay, these sammies were hand carved (crazy woman) by my sis-in-law Michelle:



Of course, every spiced cider needs shrunken apple heads as an adornment:



Candy eyeballs for dessert:



And caterpillar cake (Jared did this one! - yay! I can pass the illness along to the next generation!):



And of course, drum roll please,... witches' brew!:

Pumpkin Carving



Kyle and Zach's classes went to Shilter Family Farm to hunt for pumpkins, pet farm animals, and go through the hay maze. Jared had to stay in his actual classroom, so he got to 'pumpkin hunt' on the front porch with the pumpkins mommy purchased from Walmart. Then, we did the usual, everyone got to design their pumpkins and daddy carved them with that extreme engineering precision that he is known for.




Sabrina's first pumpkin!!



Hard at work on our creations.



Jared got the biggest pumpkin.



Viola! From left: Jared, Zach, Mommy, Sabrina/Daddy, Kyle.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

ANOTHER Milestone?

I'm back to being single again. Hubby left this morning at two to start the drive down to Southern Californai. He's stopping in San Fran to see his college buddy and old crewmate. And to climb the Golden Gate bridge. He's already climbed the Bay Bridge, so he has to put this notch on his construction engineer's belt. What am I doing? Working a craft table at second grader's halloween party. Walking the dog. Doing laundry. A mother's life is just not as exciting.

Something that men will never understand:

1. You need to pack 50 pounds of food and toys to keep a 21 month old occupied for one and a half hours.

2. The mystery of creating pig tails out of a small girl's hair. Quickly. Without tears.

3. What shoes go with pink leopard print pants.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

What Do You Want To Be When You Grow Up?

My three boys had a conversation with hubby and me last night about what they want to be when they grow up:

Kindergartner: Rocketship guy

2nd grader: Pain-in-the-ol-ogist (He likes dinosaurs,.. A LOT)

5th grader: A priest so he doesn't have to get married.

Then my mom brought up what I wanted to be when I was around 1st grade. I remember finding a peice of paper stating I wanted to drive a red convertible and be a librarian. She remembers the the car, but says I wanted to be a babysitter.

Well, it seems like I've pretty much achieved my goals, mother of five and a writer for a software company, not bad. Still working on the convertible, even if hubby says the 4 Runner we purchased right before we first got married qualifies. (NOT). Be careful what you wish for!

What did you want to be when you grow up?

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Friday Ramblings

Well, California is tough and it's still there. A call to my work headquarters found ALL of the county's schools closed and many, many staff at home dealing with kids who usually are not there during the day. Freeway exits were closed, half of Highland (which is on the foot of the mountains) had been evacuated.

Hubby called our insurance company down in Yucaipa, Cali to change our insurance from renters back to home owners since he'll be opening the door once again to our old home and lives this coming Wednesday. Yay! The agent told him there was a moritorium on all changes to policies in the area at the moment. Yikes. Even though we are in no imminent danger because of our location, it gives you chills thinking about how close you are.

When we were house hunting a few years back, we looked at a housing development in Highland. It had been built on one of the hills burned in the last fire. Those houses have been evacuated now. I thank God those houses were out of our price range and wish I could pat myself on the back for not purchasing them due to their location. Not sure I'm that smart though. Hubby is, however, he would have saved me from my greed.

Remember people, flood zones, fire zones, earthquake zones, they all count! It may look pretty at the beach, but is that homestead site really fit for construction? Will that bulkhead hold? We seem to blow raspberries at Mother Nature. Studying physical geography in college and its impact on humans was fascinating, especially the impact flooding has on third world countries like India.

Granted, you have to weigh the benefits with the risks. My mom's office, for example, is right in the lava flow if Mount Ranier were to blow. Good to know if that giant wakes up, but for the moment, I think she's safe. But gives you chills to think of all the things that can possibly go wrong in life, one of my favorite hobbies.

On a lighter note, I did it. I bit the chew toy and went to the hairdresser. I don't usually have time to go, I think it's crazy expensive how much it costs to have your hair done, so I only end up going about every four or five months when I absolutely hate to look at myself in the mirror and am totally desperate. I am now back to skanky California blond color and feel oh, so much better. Stupid, isn't it? But I think with the pregnancy thing happening again (FOR THE FIFTH TIME!) I'm allowed to indulge. I have even been doing my nails on a regular basis. I think it's funny that I'm concentrating on the peripheries of my body since everything in the middle seems to be out of my control.

Freaky realization: my hairdresser was born in 1982. I graduated from high school in '87. Am I really that old?

Hubby has been forcing me with a hot cattle prod to do our walks every day, too. Which is great. I need motivation. For that when he's gone he'll be leaving my hairy, smelly personal trainer, Max the jungle dog. Maybe I can find excuses for me not exercising every day (have to feed the kids, do the laundry, clean something, stare into space) but I can't handle sad doggie eyes.

It's humorous in a horrifying way how these two mile walks are starting to get really loooong. In pre preggo days, streak up there and back in 20 minutes if I didn't feel like the doing the whole suburb circuit. Coming home this summer, after my little uterine clot cleared, I was walking in 25, 30 minutes when I could bother to do it. Yesterday? 45 minutes. By nine months, I'll have to bring a snack to sustain me for the length of time I make that circuit. Gads.

And thank goodness it's Friday since packing lunches and doing homework is really taxing. Well, not doing homework, but organizing all those papers three little boys like to flick out of their backpacks the minute they get home like some sort of ticker tape parade on New Year's Day.

My middle son talked me into buying him a lunchable. He used the historic mommy guilt trip of "I wish my lunches were as good as everyone ELSE in my class." What do those other mothers pack, I ask son. The answer comes out that it's anything already prepackaged, in colors not found in nature, with so many preservatives that the teacher has put some of them in their class's time capsule. No, veggies and fruit do NOT constitute a cool lunch.

Not wanting to limit my son's popularity, I negotiated one lunchable a week. Of course, after my usual soap box about how they aren't very nutritious, but everything in moderation. I feel so schizophrenic when I'm reading my OB's latest copied article on the benefits of organic foods for children since we are poisoning them on a daily basis ((Yes, this is the kid who exists on Chocolate Peanut Butter pops for breakfast,... every day) knowing full well that gross lunchable will be packed with love into his lunchbox in the morning.

Don't get me wrong, I have a fun size bag of snickers hidden in my cupboard and Tostitoes Queso in the fridge. But I eat that with baked chips. Maybe that's why I like that Mika song, "Big Girls Are Beautiful;" pizza and a diet coke indeed.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Hang In There Southern California

I'm thinking why did I go to Indonesia when there are all sorts of natural disasters to contend with here in the United States? Four years ago, friends from my company, ESRI, based in San Bernardino County, sent pictures of the fires near Lake Arrowhead; many people were evacuated and some lost their properties. Here we are again, but across seven counties. It's almost unbelievable.





I logged on to a neighbor's blog and found out that the local school (right behind our house in California) is shut down today and tomorrow because of poor air quality.

Rob's uncle down in San Diego has not been evacuated YET, but everyone else within a two mile radius has. His wife's family has had houses on both sides of them burn down.


Check out this blog, run by ESRI staff who care, on how these fires and those of four years ago, compare.

We're praying for you, So Cal.

One of the things I love, love, love about the company that has kept me gainfully, if not creatively, employed for the last fourteen or so years is the remarkable charitable attitude the owner and founder, Jack Dangermond, has towards organizations that can benefit from his technology (geographic information systems - basically maps smarter than you'll ever be!). Thanks to the incredibly intelligent people (I do not include myself in this category) who are attracted to ESRI, they are able to support emergencies every year, including this year's fires.

While in Banda Aceh, Indonesia, I worked with the local government to fix their GIS licenses and get them up and running on our new technology. This required me to fanagle my buddy and senior sales dude to fly over and wheel and deal. After it was all said and done, my incredible company donated around $250,000 for emergency response software licensing. That perhaps is why I'm in marketing and not sales, I'm way too much overhead, eh? I think my hubby would concur.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Yet Another New Era, Can I Get Off the RollerCoaster Now?

Well, we've bit the bullet. We are trading in my beautiful 7 series beemer for a,... mini van. So the beemer was gotten used and is ten years old, it's still a nice little car and I see my car as an extension of myself. A quality person, worth the extra maintenance, serious but with a fun side, okay, maybe not german. Sigh. Nothing against mini vans or the people who drive them. I just see them like I do dolman sleeves or espadrilles; cute on somebody else.

We took yesterday afternoon with the cranky B and went to the local automall. Nothing like car shopping in Olympia, Washington; where we were terrified we'd be attacked upon stepping foot onto a lot, we actually found the places quite deserted. I helped myself to a few cars, realizing that the driver's door on most vehicles was open and I could gain access that way. Is that breaking and entering? I hope not.

We checked out the Kia whatever, the Hyundai whatitscalled, the Toyota thingy and the Honda Odyssey. Also the Saturn Outlook and the Buick Rendezvous. These hybrid vehicles are so very cute, but honestly, with five children who have parents 6' and 6'6", we will not fit in them for very long. It would be the car version of me buying school uniform pants for my kids right now; they fit for a couple of weeks, then in a blink of an eye, they are highwaters and the zippers are too tight. And I've been warned; friends who are the same height as us have grown children where the girl is 6'4" and the boys are both over seven feet tall. I'm not making this up.

The Rendezvous was kind of cool and a good price, after I got over my snotty image of the whole 'Buick' brand. All I can think of driving a Buick is my grandpa in his golf pants. But it will only fit six if I get the captains' chairs in the middle. Explaining why I want the captains chairs to my hsuband was like speaking a foreign language underwater with no tongue.

"Honey,",I said. "I need to have two carseats in the middle. Then, I have a booster seat in the way back that houses a child who can't seem to put on a seatbelt without making it into some sort of origami ribbon."

He tells me to just slide the seat forward, it won't go all the way forward anymore, but with the top tilted up, the boys can squeeze in the back.

Okay, I'm envisioning myself in rain (or 130 degree So Cal weather, doesn't matter, the point is, I want out of nature quickly), with a baby in a baby seat over one forearm, the toddler trapped between my thighs, a huge purse/diaper bag/garbage can/toy holder slung over a shoulder, yelling at my kids to 'stay right here, DO NOT MOVE' (yes, the OTHER three) as I find a free appendage to feel blindly for the little lever that will spring that second seat forward. Only 1/2 of the way. Then, hanging my childbearing backside out of the car door as I try and unknot child's seatbelt in the way back.

No go baby.

When I find the Rendezvous with the captains' chairs and the leather interior (big whiff o' leather; I haven't owned a cloth seated vehicle since I was in college.) and explain to hubby that I like it, but we can't fit him in the car with us, he says to me, "Like that matters, there's no way in *#&$(& I'm getting in that thing."

Very funny. Spoken like a man with a brand spankin' new F150 company car waiting for him in Orange County.

So, on to the mini vans. To make a long story short, the Odyssey honestly had more third seat space than the Kia, which was also a nice vehicle. And it had a stowable middle second row seat, so I can have my aisleway with the captains' chairs when hubby isn't looking.

Since leather is a bit out of our price range at the moment; we refuse to carry a car payment, and after a year overseas with an NGO, the coffers are a bit dry, I can deal with foamy fabric. I'm sure I can find some sort of cute car seat cover, they make them for babyseats, why not mom seats? If not, maybe I can design some in pink chenille, or leopard print. That and a non alcoholic beer that actually tastes good, and I can retire in comfort.

And the 'entertainment system'? Entertaining for WHO? I am not going down the slippery slope of in-car DVD systems. At the dinner table, the big 10 year old was selling us on buying a car with one. All I can see is wasting precious time getting ANYWHERE as five children fist fight over what one video will play on the screen. "I'll even watch whatever the others want to watch," he says.

To which my 8 year old piped up, "Digimon! And Pokemon!"

And 10 year old promptly replied, "Except that."

So, here we are arguing over what to watch on the in car DVD system we don't even own yet. And then, when I mentioned, we now have girls to deal with and so the viewing options have just opened up to include titles like 'Barbie's Swan Lake' and 'Strawberry Shortcake' and 'Bratz Go to Mars' (or is that just my silent wish?) the DVD system doesn't seem so cool anymore.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Go Mommy Bloghers!

Okay, so besides the fact that yes, I'll admit it, I covet this woman's instand popularity, because, darn it, I have a mundane life too and it's pretty funny. But, good for her with her popular blog being read by 30,000 people every day. This lady is all of us moms' Cinderella, book deals, sitcom deals, and the news darling of the day because she writes about her family of six in a very humerous way - check it out.

I don't know; scoping out the Internet these days is making me feel like I did back in the day when I subscribed to those crazy parenting magazines - the ones that made you feel bad because you didn't do all those witty crafts, look like those models in the exercise articles or make dinners from scratch every night with flaxseed and veggie puree. Utterly less-than-everybody-else.

These days it seems every mom has a blog making money on advertising and companies sending samples hoping to be given a good review and break into the great, big buying strength that we mavens of the household front control. Or they all have cute little online stores, having learned Web design and html while breastfeeding their newborns at night.

Argh!

But, ... good for them.

I'll continue my little posts to keep family and friends up to date and there is NOTHING better than sitting down with that first cup of coffee in the morning, getting the nerve to open my work email, and surfing among my friend's blogs. White picket fence of today, thank goodness there is an Internet.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Beginning of a New Era

I pick hubby and stupid dog up from the airport in about three hours. Can't believe it. Not having been on the same continent with him since the end of July I can't help but wonder about the adjustment this time. I don't care how much you love and know someone, it's tough to 'get in synch' again. I'm so happy to have him home, and it's Christmas time here for the boys. I feel melancholy our little adventure has finally come to an end, but so excited to have us back together as a family.

I was feeling all proud of myself yesterday for staying sane until the end. Then I went to B's toddler gym class and talked to one of the girls there who has a little boy B's age. I say girl because I don't think I was ever that young. Wow. And to make me feel even more matronly, she was waiting for me to show up so she could ask some teething advice. Gads. Must find the even higher heels and break out some more sequins. At least I can pretend in my mind that I don't have lots of kids and am approaching 40, thus meaning I MUST be an adult.

Anyway, she and her husband, who is military, recently relocated to Olympia from Fairbanks. They are originally from someplace like Ohio. HER husband just came back from the front after four months. So, here is this little 20-something with her first new child, in a new place, by herself with a husband who has been gone for four months. In combat. On the front line, somewhere he can not disclose because he's in some special force. Thank you God, for once again humbling me back to my proper place. What an inspiration this WOMAN was. I can't imagine holding it together as well as she has in the face of all of that at her age.

Among other humbling experiences, I was watching Oprah's show on Monday night. The one with Jerry Sienfeld's wife who was extolling the virtues of hiding veggie purees in her children's food. Lovely little idea, but I can find other things to do with my Sunday nights than hang out in my kitchen chopping, steaming and pureeing. And have you ever prepared a Butternut Squash? I love 'em - I have a to-die-for recipe from Better Homes and Gardens for a curry soup with it - but come on, the veggie requires super human strength and a hatchet to open. Kind of like eating an artichoke - not something I'd do everyday for fear of starving to death before my teeth can scrape off all the 'meat' for a meal.

Plus I like to wield my extreme dictatorship in my household. "That's okay, Zach, you don't have to eat your broccoli. But no dessert. It's your choice." (Insert evil laugh.)

So, as I was listing reasons why the veggie puree thing would be a nice fad in my house, but never stick because I am lazy at heart, the conversation turned to other crazy things parents do to mess up their children's lives. Like watching whatever they want on TV, or watching it forever, or going to sleep with a TV turned on in their rooms.

Then, I went up to bed and checked in on my little cherubs. What did I find? My two oldest playing their gameboy things at 10 PM! Yes, I slipped and didn't confiscate the horrible little devices before they went to bed. My bad. Once again, humbled.

But what a great opportunity to drive them CRAZY all day. "What Zach, you're tired? It can't be because you were PLAYING YOUR GAMEBOY UNTIL 10 PM can it?"

Last couple little stories before I wrench sleeping babes from their beds and thrust them into society. The same wicked kid who was battling Pokemons in to the wee hours had a new teacher in his class yesterday, so they had to wear nametags. He put 'Zach Effron' (did I spell that right? The current 'hottie' on the teen scene thanks to Highschool Musical 2.) on his name tag and dared his freind Justin to put 'Justin Timberlake' on his. Oh, poor teachers. And this is in a Catholic school in the second grade. The teach innocently called him Zach Effron for the time she was there.

Then, as I was helping out in my Kindergartner's class, a cute little girl came up to him and gave him a little card she had made with fabric flowers glued to it. I was explaining this to his grandmother that night and I asked him what the girl's name was.

He shrugged his shoulders and said, "I don't know. I was either Mia or Maria."

"Oh yeah," I said. "They are twins."

He thought a minute and said, "Mia has fangs. Maria burps a lot. That's how I can tell them apart."

I had to explain to grandma that the girls were much cuter than described by my six year old, but knowing what little boys like at this age, perhaps these were the virtues he was looking for in a woman at the moment.

Happy Thursday!

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

King of Aceh (At Least in His Mind)


Thanks to Roy Rene for taking this picture at Rob's CRS going away party. This is a traditional Acehnese hat, and I'm sorry I don't know more about this particular style. One of the things I love, love, love about Aceh is the beautiful textiles. They make the most magnificent embroidered purses on shiny fabrcis. And the women always look unbelievable and leave me feeling like some big ugly American with their tunics sporting embroidery, sequins and beading. Anyone who knows me has noticed that I have incorporated anything shiny and/or fake furrish in my clothing ever since I could dress myself.
I'm sure everyone there knows that the test of a truly great manager is finding and supporting excellent people. No one is successful in this world by themselves. We've had the pleasure of knowing some excellent folks all over the world, and Aceh is no exception. I had a great time hanging out scamming on the Internet connection in the office while ours wasn't working, attending parties and turn overs and generally wandering around waiting to shmooze a driver to take me somewhere. (shhhh,.don't tell Scott).

Monday, October 08, 2007

Rob's "Goodbye CRS" E-mail

[Silahkan lihat di bawah ini, untuk versi bahasa Indonesianya.]

Everybody!

You know, I have to be honest, this is the first place I’ve worked that people have written a “good bye” e-mail to everyone and I’ve had mixed emotions about writing anything. I think it’s because some of us try to be emotional, reminiscent and thankful but at the same time be poetic. Let’s face it, we’re not poets otherwise we wouldn’t be doing what we’re doing, right? So, the only way I’m going to do this is by taking the honest straightforward approach because you can read and interpret the words with a dictionary not by having to close your eyes and meditate! I may have set the record for the longest good bye e-mail, too, but I think that you will enjoy it so sit back, relax and enjoy!

Pak Chris or you could say “Chris Frey” instead. Two little words. How can two little words change someone’s life as these two? You have to know that I won’t hold this experience against him for the rest of his life (I’m younger than him so I’m sure to outlive him, you see). I’m sure that he’ll turn this story around some day in his own mind and make it be that it was my idea to come here. Some of you may have already heard him starting to do this. He has already done this with one of his college friends. Poor guy. Anyway, in Spring 2006 I saw a photo of him with some of the Meulaboh staff and he was the tallest one in the picture. Of course, he had to crack a joke that it was the only place in the world where he was the tallest guy around and that I’d better stay away for fear of ruining it for him. Well, I couldn’t leave him alone and had to ruin it! So you can thank Chris for getting me here. You can also thank him for keeping me here. He has had a tough job in Meulaboh getting the job done but he’s also had a tough job in Banda keeping Rob on track. Thanks Chris.

When I was on the plane to come over here I thought “3,000 houses in a year and a half? No problem!” I’m not sure how many of you have ever built more than 3,000 houses but I’ve only met one and he’s a lot wiser than I and he probably had a much more restless flight than I did because he had a better idea of what he was up against! Well, ironically, he was one of the first guys I met when I got here and I’m glad I did. I wish that I’d been given an Australian immersion language course before I got here though because between him, Tony Callander, and David Shields, I thought that if I wasn’t careful I was going to end rocked up with kanga chops on the barbie and a shiela in the kitchen putting a slab in the eskie for the trip to the footie match later that night! Will has given me a lot of confidence to face the most serious challenge of my career thus far. Thanks Will.

Speaking of confidence… I have to admit to all of my managers at this point that since I had a pit bull in a cage in the corner office I might have been more inspired to speak a bit more freely on issues. I will never be as creative as he is with language and I certainly won’t be as cocky but Tony Callander has taught all of us something about management. Some of us may have to think a bit harder than others to admit it but anyone who can be a pit bull in the corner office one minute and hold Fr. Ferdinando’s hand the next has some skills. Thanks Tony.

I hope that I don’t alienate anyone with this next person because if you haven’t figured it out by now that if I take this long to talk about everyone that I’ve worked with or that has made an impact on me, this is going to be a very long e-mail so not everyone will be covered. The environment that the first three guys, Sigi and I come from is not one of soft voices, chats over crumpets and tea, and holding hands and singing songs. It’s “Richardson! Where the &)$)$(*&%& are you and where’s that [fill in the blank] I told you to do for me?! There’s 24 hours in a day ya’ know!” And if they were working here with their true colors showing they might say, “You can take your alternate house design layout and shove it up your $)(&%)$&*% because I’m in charge and while I’m in charge you’ll get what I’m going to give you!” Now, none of us here would dream of speaking like that to any of our beneficiaries, right guys? But, I know so many times I’ve been talking to someone whether it be a beneficiary, a colleague, or she herself and I look at her and I can tell that I’m reaching that point of approaching the “over the top” attitude. She thinks that she hides it and she does an excellent job of trying but not quite good enough and I get “that look.” I’m sure that Fardian has gotten “that look” by now, haven’t you buddy? Well, let me tell ya’ it’s been deserved when I’ve received it and it’s kept me out of trouble. Thanks Diah.

I’d might as well just jump right into the next family member, huh? Who’s got pride? I’ve got it, that’s for sure. Who’s ever had a great job that they really liked and been really proud of and had someone come along and take it away from you. Not only take it away from you but hand you another job that is about as about as glamorous as unloading fish from a boat! Well, I’ve unloaded fish from a boat and let me tell you, it’s not glamorous. So when this guy went from shelter manager to project controls manager most of us would have packed up and told us to shove it up our #)%)%)#&*%&, right? He didn’t and he’s done a great job at it. He comes to work and gets the job done. He’s also not afraid to get into the mix to get answers and has proven himself a second time for CRS. He’s got a lot to be proud of including a wonderful wife and new baby on the way. Thanks Fardian.

Now it’s time for a test. Don’t worry; it won’t be hard because of the contributions of this next person. In fact, it’s so easy, I’m going to just give you the questions with the answers next to them, ok? Here you go:

When was the last time that a village asked us to be removed as their provider? A long time ago. Good.
When was the last time that a group of contractor’s laborers camped out at our office because they hadn’t been paid? A long time ago. Good.
When was the last time that a group of beneficiaries arrived unannounced at the front door with Serambi, AP, New York Times, etc. demanding a meeting with the CRS director to make their houses get constructed faster? A long time ago. Good.
When was the last time that CRS committed to building something that is clearly outside its current capacity to build it? A long time ago. Good.
Had enough? Me too. Good job. Everyone passed. Pat yourselves on the back and the next time you see David Shields, say, “Hey, thanks for keeping things at a slow boil in the field. It makes building the houses much easier.”

“Therapy.” These next two people have been Rob’s therapists. I know, I know, there’s more of you that think that you were my therapist but these two were around the most when I really needed it and I depended on them. How many of you are going to miss the “Rob stories”? You know the ones, sitting there trying to find the point. Well, no matter how many procedures had to be written or staff contracts to be sorted out they always had the time to listen to “Rob’s stories.” Thanks Greg and Ann.

Benevolent dictatorship. No. Googleplex? No. (If you don’t know what “Googleplex is, take a tour at: http://www.time.com/time/photoessays/2006/inside_google/) Livin’ the dream? No. I’m trying to find that right description of the working environment created by this next person. I have to admit that it’s none of the above. Maybe we can describe his character by comparing what he’s had to do to raising a tar baby. For those that don’t know, a tar baby is a baby covered in tar (figuratively) that no one wants to touch for fear of getting tar on their hands and tar is very difficult to wash off. Just ask the birds caught in the Exxon Valdez oil spill! So, here’s a guy that has embraced the tar baby, nurtured it, cleaned it a little each day and raised it to a point that people aren’t so scared to touch it anymore. For a guy who’s biggest claim to fame prior to this was being the Western Massachusetts Risk board game champion, it is quite a feat. In all seriousness, he has been a steadfast supporter of all of our efforts behind the scenes taking what seemed an impossible commitment and turning it into a success. Thanks for “sticking” with us Scott.

This is the last one, I promise. Why? Because I’ve saved the best for last and there’s no one more special to me and that has provided more support for this program than my wife, Karen. We are an amazing family (I told you that I’d be honest, remember!) and it’s because of her. We have traipsed our way all over this earth and each has had its own challenges. This has been the biggest and she’s had to spend more time than she deserved digging deep to support herself which isn’t just her, remember? There’s three boys and a little girl with her 24-7. She’s done all of this despite all of the trials faced by her husband who hasn’t always been able to be there for her. I know that many of you have spouses and family that are not with you while you work in Aceh and you are to be commended for making such a sacrifice to help the people of Aceh and to earn a living. We chose to do this as a family and we wouldn’t have been able to achieve what we have without being here as a family. Thanks for your sacrifices Karen.

There are so many people that I would love to thank but I think that Scott’s going to make everyone work an extra half hour on the day that this goes out as it is, so I’d better sign off.

One last business item: If you’re ever visiting where we’re living, we’d love to host you. The best way to reach us is via e-mail at: RJR1959@hotmail.com. You can keep track of us at Karen’s Blog: http://havechildrenwilltravel.blogspot.com/.

Thanks to all of you! You are making this program a success by your support and contributions and I know it’s tempting as people start leaving to let off a bit and let your attention wander. Well, this isn’t over yet you guys! There’s still a lot of work to do so hang in there and keep up the good work!

Best Regards,
Rob

Rob Richardson, PE
Engineering and Construction Program Manager
Catholic Relief Services (CRS) Banda Aceh
Mobile: +62 (812) 698-9436
Fax: +62 (6) 514-8407
E-mail: rjrichardson@id.seapro.crs.org

Rekan-rekan sekalian
Anda tahu, Saya harus jujur, ini merupakan tempat yang pertama saya bekerja dimana orang-orangnya telah menulis e-mail ucapan selamat tinggal yang cukup bagus kepada semua orang dan saya selalu memiliki perasaan emosional yang bercampur aduk untuk menulis sesuatu. Saya rasa hal ini karena beberapa dari kita mencoba ikut hanyut secara emosional, mengenang masa-masa yang lalu, mengucapkan terimakasih dan terkadang pada waktu yang sama mencoba menuliskannya dalam untaian-untaian puisi. Mari kita hadapi saja, kita kan bukan penyair, jika tidak kita tidak akan mengerjakan apa yang sedang kita kerjakan, ya enggak? Jadi satu-satunya cara saya mengerjakan ini adalah dengan cara pendekatan yang jujur dan polos karena Anda dapat membacanya dan menginterpretasikan kata-katanya dengan bantuan kamus, tidak dengan menutup mata dan meditasi. Boleh jadi saya juga sudah membuat catatan ucapan perpisahan yg terpanjang, namun saya yakin Anda akan menikmatinya, oleh karena itu duduklah kembali, santai dan nikmati.


Pak Chris atau Anda dapat memanggilnya “Chris Frey”. Dua kata kecil. Bagaimana dua kata kecil seperti ini dapat merubah kehidupan seseorang? Anda harus tahu bahwa saya tidak akan memanfaatkan pengalaman ini untuk menantang dia selama sisa hidupnya (saya lebih muda dari dia, sehingga saya yakin saya akan lebih lama hidup dari dia, Anda paham kan). Saya yakin bahwa suatu hari nanti, dia akan mengarang atau mengada-ada cerita ini dan akan mengatakan bahwa ide saya lah yang membuat saya datang kemari. Beberapa dari Anda mungkin sudah dengar bahwa dia sekarang sudah mulai mengarang tentang hal ini. Dia telah melakukannya terhadap salah satu dari teman kuliahnya. Kasihan deh Lu! Gimana pun, pada musim semi 2006 saya melihat sebuah foto yang menunjukkan dia bersama dengan beberapa staf Meulaboh dan di dalam gambar itu dia yang paling jangkung. Tentu dia harus mencari-cari guyonan (canda) yang pas untuk mengatakan bahwa Meulaboh adalah satu-satunya tempat di dunia ini di mana dia orang yang paling jangkung di sana dan mengatakan bahwa saya harus menjauhi dia, karena takut tersaingi dan merusak suasana. Yah, bagaimana pun saya tidak dapat meninggalkannya sendirian dan terpaksa merusak kebanggaannya menjadi orang terjangkung. Dengan begitu Anda dapat berterimakasih kepada Chris yang telah membuat saya datang kemari. Anda juga harus berterima kasih kepadanya karena telah membuat saya betah di sini. Dia memiliki bekerjaan yang berat di Meulaboh untuk membuat pekerjaan terlaksana, namun dia juga memiliki pekerjaan yang berat di Banda Aceh untuk membuat Rob tetap berada di jalur yang benar. Terima kasih Chris.

Ketika saya berada di pesawat, dalam perjalanan ke Banda Aceh, saya memikirkan 3000 rumah dalam satu setengah tahun? Tidak masalah!. Saya tidak yakin berapa orang dari Anda yang sudah pernah membangun lebih dari 3000 rumah, namun saya hanya bertemu dengan satu orang dan dia jauh lebih bijak dari saya dan mungkin dia telah melakukan perjalanan dengan pesawat tanpa istirahat lebih banyak dari saya, karena dia memiliki ide yang lebih cemerlang tentang alasan mengapa dia harus berada di atas pesawat. Yah, ironisnya, dia adalah salah satu rekan yang pertama sekali saya ketemu pada saat saya tiba di sini dan saya akui saya senang telah ketemu dia. Dalam hati saya berkata, seandainya saja saya sudah diberikan kursus bahasa khas Australia sebelum tiba di sini, maka tidak akan ada rmasalah berkomunikasi di anatar kami; dia, Tony Callender, dan David Shield. Saya kira jika saya tidak hati-hati, saya akan berakhir dengan steak ganguru goyang lidah pada Barbie (pesta guling kangguru), lalu shiela (cewek) yang di dapur meletakkan slab (kotak makanan) pada eskie (=cooler, tempat pendingin) untuk perjalanan ke lokasi “footie match” (pertandingan sepakbola) pada tengah malam, malam itu. Wil telah memberi saya banyak rasa percaya diri untuk menghadapi tantangan yang paling menantang dalam karier saya sejauh ini. Terimakasih Pak Wil.

Bicara soal privasi…… Dalam kesempatan ini, saya harus mengaku kepada semua manajer saya bahwa sejak saya memiliki “seekor anjing” yang galak yang dikurung di sudut kantor, saya tidak ada keberanian untuk berbicara secara bebas tentang semua isu. Saya tidak akan bisa sekreatif dia dalam berkomunikasi dan tentu saya juga tidak akan bisa berbangga diri, kecuali karena Tony Calleder telah mengajar kita semua tentang manajemen. Beberapa dari kita mungkin harus berpikir sedikit lebih keras dari orang lainnya untuk mengakuinya, namun siapa saja yang mau menjadi “anjing galak” di sudut kantor selama satu menit saja dan dengan memegang tangan Pastur Ferdinando, seketika itu juga yang bersangkutan jadi terampil. Terima kasih. Pak Tony.

Saya harap saya tidak dikatakan pilih kasih dengan menceritakan beberapa orang berikut ini, sedangkan sampai saat ini Anda belum/tidak dibicarakan. Jika saya harus membicarakan semua orang yang telah bekerjasama dengan saya atau setiap orang yang telah memberikan dampak dalam kehidupan saya secara panjang lebar, maka ini akan menjadi e-mail yang sangat panjang, oleh karenanya tidak semuanya dapat saya tulis di sini. Lingkungan tempat asal ke tiga individu yang pertama, Sigi dan saya gaya bicaranya tidak lemah lembut; tapi sering ngobrol sambil makan crumpets (sejenis kue dari ragi) dan minum teh, dan saling berpegangan tangan dan bernyanyi. Gaya bahasanya seperti ini : It’s “Richardson! Where the &)$)$(*&%& are you and where’s that [fill in the blank] I told you to do for me?! There’s 24 hours in a day ya’ know!” ( “Tu dia Richardson! Dimana e,,eh, bleh, weh, kamu dan di mana itu (isi yg kosong), aku bilang agar dikerjakan untuk ku?! Satu hari ada 24 jam, kamu tahu kan!”) Dan jika mereka bekerja di sini dengan logat mereka yang khas, mereka akan berkata, “You can take your alternate house design layout and shove it up your $)(&%)$&*% because I’m in charge and while I’m in charge you’ll get what I’m going to give you!”( “Kamu bisa ambil layout design rumah alternative-mu dan letakkan di atas $)(&%)$&*% kamu, olehkarena, saya yang berwenang, dan jika saya yang berwenang, kamu bisa dapatkan apa yang aku senang berikan.” ) Sekarang, tiada satupun dari kita yang akan bermimpi berbicara seperti itu lagi kepada beneficiary (penerima bantuan), ya kan? Namun, saya tahu. Sering sekali saya berbicara dengan seseorang seperti itu, apakah dia beneficiary, teman sekantor, atau dengan cewek itu sendiri dan jika saya lihat kearah dia, saya bisa katakan saya sedang mendekati seseorang dengan sikap “over the top” (sikap super). Si cewek beraggapan dia bisa menyembunyikan sikapnya, dan dia selalu mencoba mengerjakan pekerjaan yang sempurna, namun hasilnya tidak sebaik yang dia harapkan dan saya bisa baca “wajah seperti itu”. Saya yakin sekarang ini Fardian sudah berhasil memperoleh “wajah itu”, sudah kan sobat? Yah, baiklah biar saya katakana Ya’ Pekerjaannya pantas untuk dipuji apabila saya sudah menerimanya dan membuat saya lega atau bebas dari masalah. Terima kasih Diah.


Saya sudah tidak sabar untuk cepat loncat tepat ke atas anggota keluarga berikutnya, uh? Siapa yang sudah berbangga diri? Saya sudah mendapatkannya, secara pasti. Siapa yang telah memilki pekerjaan yang hebat yang dia sendiri menyukainya dan merasa bangga dengan pekerjaan itu, lalu ada orang yang datang untuk merampasnya dari kamu. Bukan hanya merampas dari kamu tetapi memberimu pekerjaan lainnya, pekerjaan yang “glamour” se-glamour mengosongkan ikan dari kapal ikan. Yah, saya sudah pernah mengosongkan ikan dari kapal ikan dan biar saya jelaskan, sebenarnya pekerjaan itu tidak glamour. Jadi saat sobat kita yang satu ini berpindah dari shelter manager ke project control manager, maka kebanyakan dari kita pasti sudah berkemas dan mengatakan kepada kita, “Kau makan itu untuk kamu”, seperti itu kan? Namun dia tidak begitu, dia telah melakukan pekerjaan yang luar biasa. Dia datang untuk bekerja dan menyelesaikannya. Dia juga tidak takut untuk bersosialisasi untuk mencari jawaban dan telah membuktikan dirinya sebagai asset buat CRS. Banyak yang dapat dibanggakannya, termasuk isterinya yang cakep dan bayinya yang masih dalam perjalanan. Terimakasih Fardian.


Nah, sekarang waktunya untuk sebuah tes. Jangan kuatir ; Tidak akan sulit, karena adanya konstribusi dari rekan berikutnya. Kenyataannya, ini sangat mudah. Saya hanya ingin memberi Anda beberapa pertanyaan dengan jawaban disebelahnya, OK? Mari kita lihat:

Kapan terakhir kali ketika ada desa yang meminta kita untuk keluar sebagai pihak pemberi bantuan mereka? Tempo hari. Bagus.
Kapan terakhir kali ketika sekelompok buruh dari kontraktor datang berkemah ke kantor kita, karena mereka belum dibayar? Tempo hari. Bagus,
Kapan terakhir kali ketika sekelompok penerima bantuan tiba di depan kantor tanpa ada pemberitahuan sebelumnya dengan wartawan Harian Serambi, AP, New York Time dll. meminta mengadakan bertemuan dengan direktur CRS agar membangun rumah mereka lebih cepat. Tempo hari. Bagus.
Kapan terakhir kali ketika CRS membuat komitmen untuk membangun sesuatu yang jelas diluar kapasitasnya untuk membangun. Tempo hari. Bagus.
Gimana, sudah cukup? Saya juga. Jawaban yang bagus. Semua lulus. Tepuk punggung Anda sendiri, dan bila nanti Anda ketemu David Shields, katakan Hei, terimakasih atas usahanya meredam kemarahan di lapangan. Kondisi tersebut telah mempermudah untuk pembangunan rumah.


“Terapi.” Dua sosok berikut ini adalah orang orang yang memberikan terapi kepada Rob. Saya tahu, saya tahu, banyak dari kalian yang berpikir bahwa kalian adalah yang memberi terapi kepada saya, akan tetapi yang dua ini adalah yang paling sering berada didekat saya pada saat saya membutuhkannya dan saya tergantung pada mereka. Berapa orang dari kalian yang tidak akan mendengar cerita Rob? Anda mengenal mereka, yang sedang duduk di sana lagi mencoba mencari sebuah sulusi. Nah, tidak peduli berapa banyak prosedur yang mereka tulis atau berapa banyak kontrak karyawan yang mereka sortir, namun mereka selalu memiliki waktu untuk mendengar ceritanya Rob. Terima kasih Greg dan Ann.


Diktator yang baik. Bukan. Googleplex? Bukan. (jika belum tahu apa itu Googleplex, silahkan jelajahi: http://www.time.com/time/photoessays/2006/inside_google/) hanya bermimpi? Tidak , saya sedang mencoba untuk mendapatkan uraian yang tepat tentang lingkungan kerja yang diciptakan oleh sosok berikut ini. Terus terang saja, dia tidak termasuk yang disebutkan di atas. Mungkin kita bisa menjelaskan karakternya dengan membandingkan apa yang dia harus lakukan untuk membesarkan tar baby. Bagi mereka yang belum pernah dengar, tar baby adalah bayi yang terbalut ter sehingga tidak seorang pun yang sudi menyentuhnya karena takut kena ter yang akan lengket di tangan dan sulit mencucinya. Tanya saja dengan burung-burung yang kena tumpahan minyak di kilang minyak Exxon Valdez. Jadi, di sini dialah orangnya yang telah memeluk dan membesarkan tar baby itu, diasuhnya, dibersihkannya sedikit demi sedikit setiap harinya dan membesarkannya hingga suatu hari tidak ada lagi orang yang takut menyentuhnya. Untuk seorang pria yang diklaim sangat terkenal sebelumnya, yaitu sebagai juara Western Massachusetts Risk board game (sejenis permainan untuk menguasai suatu wilayah), itu prestasi yang luar biasa. Dalam keseriusannya, dia adalah pendukung yang teguh, berperan di balik layar, mendukung semua usaha kita, mengambil komitmen yang kelihatannya tidak mungkin lalu membuatnya menjadi sukses. Terima kasih karena Anda terus “nempel” dengan kami Pak Scott.


Ini yang terakhir, saya janji. Kenapa? Karena saya telah menyimpan yang terbaik untuk disebutkan terakhir dan tidak ada seorangpun lebih istimewa bagi saya dan tidak seorang pun yang telah memberikan dukungan yang lebih banyak dari yang diberikan isteri saya, Karen. Kami adalah keluarga yang mengagumkan (saya sudah katakan bahwa saya harus jujur, masih ingat?) dan ini karena dia. Kami bersama telah berjalan menapaki semua jalan di bumi ini dan masing-masing dari kami telah memiliki tantangan tersendiri. Ini adalah yang terbesar dan dia telah menghabiskan banyak waktu daripada yang sepantasnya dia habiskan, berjuang mendukung dan mengurus keperluannya yang bukan saja untuk dirinya, masih ingat kan? Di sana ada tiga bocah laki-laki dan seorang bocah wanita bersamanya. Dia telah melakukan semua ini walaupun semua cobaan yang dihadapi suaminya yang tidak dapat selalu berada di sana untuk nya. Saya tahu bahwa kebanyakan dari kalian telah memiliki suami/isteri dan keluarga yang tidak bersama kalian saat bekerja di Aceh dan kalian harus dipuji atas pengorbanannya untuk membantu masyarakat Aceh dan untuk mencari nafkah. Kita memilih mengerjakan ini sebagai sebuah keluarga dan kita tidak akan mampu meraih apa yang telah kita miliki tanpa keberadaan kita di sini sebagai keluarga. Terimakasih atas pengorbananmu Karen.


Ada begitu banyak staf yang saya ingin ucapkan terimakasih kepadanya, namun saya rasa nanti Scott akan menyuruh semua karyawan bekerja lembur selama setengah jam pada hari tulisan ini muat/ditampilakan, oleh karenanya saya lebih baik sign off.


Satu hal terakhir untuk urusan bisnis: Jika Anda kebetulan ada kesempatan mengunjungi kami, kami dengan senang hati menerima Anda. Cara terbaik untuk menghubungi kami adalah lewat e-mail dengan alamat: rjr1959@hotmail.com. Anda dapat terus mengetahui keberadaan kami lewat Blog nya Karen: http://havechildrenwilltravel.blogspot.com/


Terimakasih semuanya. Anda membuat program ini sukses karena dukungan dan konstribusi Anda dan saya tahu bahwa adalah sesuatu yang menggoda ketika orang-orang pada mulai beranjak untuk meninggalkan sedikit pesan dan membuat perhatian kalian mengembara kemana-mana. Yah, ini blum lagi berakhir buat kalian teman-teman. Masih banyak pekerjaan yang harus dilakukan, jadi tolong tetap berada di sini dan teruskan melakukan pekerjaan yang bagus.

Salam

Rob

Saturday, October 06, 2007

The Final Countdown,...

Who sings that mullet rock song anyway? That horrible refrain has been going through my head for a few days now. Hubby is coming home from Indonesia in six days! Unbelievable!

And I have to say I am SOOO happy not to be there to assist, I mean, DO the final pack out. Sounds like everything went without a hitch.

HOWEVER

Getting the stupid dog out of that country will be a test of endurance, MacGuyver skills and sheer brute strength. Hubby found a vet. Yes! In a 'we hate dogs province of Indonesia'. He found the vet two months ago, got pet expediters all set up in Singapore and Jakarta and was *relaxing* and patting himself on the back for his saviness and good fortune.

The first sign of trouble was about a month ago when the vet gave stupid dog a million shots and then told him not to bathe stupid dog for about a week to make sure the shots took effect. WHAAA?? Listen to me people, you bathe dogs who run around in potentially bird flu infected soils in 80+
degree temperatures with 200% humidity. You bathe dogs who frolick on the beach and chase crabs. Yes, dear reader, you misread that sentence; I said the dog chases crabs, he doesn't have crabs. That we know of. Yet.

The vet's advice sounded as ominous as my local OB telling me the pills he gave me where for undisclosed 'hormones' to keep everything in place. Yikes. Threw those right out with the spoiled milk. In retrospect, probably should have consumed them and maybe wouldn't have had any problems with the pregnancy on the way out of the country.

Then, the vet lost the shot record for stupid dog. Then denied having lost the shot record. Now, my husband will NOT loose a peice of paper. He may have to put me, his wife's, name in his Microsoft Outlook contacts database, but he will not loose a piece of paper. The man is ORGANIZED. The man reads 'How to Use Outlook to Organize Your Life' books. For fun. He is an engineer and everything has its place. Especially since I, the artsy wife, am not around shoving papers into drawers and pretty little baskets for the aesthetics. Fashion before function I always say!

Anyhoo, then the call comes from the Jakarta expediters that more and entirely different paperwork needs to be filled out because Jakarta has declared itself a 'Rabies free city.' Give me a break,...

THEN, the Jakarta expediters call again and tell him the vet filled out one peice of paperwork correctly stating that the end destination of stupid dog is the U.S. of A., but the other peice says the end destination is Jakarta! And no one seems to be able to change it for fear of jail time!

I'm sorry, tell me again why we are paying these people a couple hundred clams to 'expedite' the dog?

I told hubby not to even TELL me about any problems with the shipment. I wish I had a photo my Father In Law sent when we moved back from the Philippines of cargo tumbling off this freighter in the middle of a storm in the ocean. It's just stuff anyway,...

I'm sure that the party tonight for hubby's going away made up for the stress. Since it is Ramadan, CRS will celebrate Iftar and his leaving all together. The meal that breaks the fast is called 'Iftar' and is consumed when the Imam says so, after blasting an extremely loud airhorn and proclaiming to everyone in the 2 mile radius who can't help but hear him over the blown out loud speakers, which is when the sun sets.

CRS local staff sacrificed a goat in the morning for the feast. Should be really yummy!