Sunday, June 22, 2014


I got my test results back a week or so ago.  There was some good news (no random weird stuff appeared in my abdomen) and then some questionable stuff that I am still following up on (something funny about the shape of my pancreas, which might mean that it has always been that way and that's just how it's shaped, or could mean something bad).   My doctor here is on vacation.   The clinic that I was referred to by the "stand in" doctor for a second opinion probably isn't willing to do a second opinion on my condition, because they lack the specialists.  The doctor that I found on my own that consults on my condition is being less than warm and friendly, which doesn't bode well for the second opinion from him.  Or I should say, his office manager isn't.  I don't understand people who treat patients poorly.  Like, don't they get that we are already having a rough enough time as it is?  And, my own surgeon from December is taking his sweet time in getting back to me on the weirdness that just showed up on my CT scan.  It is super maddening to try to manage my medical care from outside the U.S..  Sigh.  Good times.

I'm mostly calm about it.  I'm sick of dealing with being sick, but it's becoming the new normal.   It stung a little when I told the "stand in" doctor that I was tired of dealing with this and ready to be done with it, and she told me that I might never be done with it.   I mean, I know that, but it stung to hear someone say it.

It's especially hard because I'm doing all of this while also trying to figure out where we go from here, professionally.  We are scheduled to be here for another year, but have to sort out where to go next.  The easiest thing for me to do would be to go back to the U.S., but the honest reality is that it means a huge pay cut.  It's one thing if I really need to go back and be there, but I don't want to be forced back out of fear.   I would so much prefer to just go on with my life.

I guess that is what makes this so hard:  not knowing.  I don't have enough information to make good decisions, about either my health or our future.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Big Changes Ahead

Four years ago, I accepted this crazy new job that takes us around the world, and T closed his business to come along for the ride and be a stay at home dad.  For four years, he has been the primary caregiver for our four year old, and then our two year old when she came along.  For four years, he's changed diapers and done laundry and cooked dinner and arranged playdates and so much more.   He's dried tears and given time outs and attached band-aids and offered snacks and done drop-off and pickup at preschool.  He's given hugs and picked up toys and washed crayon off the furniture.  He's been there for first steps and first words and first adventures of all stripes.  And, he has loved (almost) every moment of it.

Yesterday he got offered a job.

I'm thrilled for him.  It's part time, as least to start.  He's ready to have some adventures of his own outside of the house, and with Miss M in school every day for almost full days, and SB just about ready for preschool, as well, the timing is pretty good.  He's going to have time on his hands.  We also have full time household help, so we have support at home.  We'll have to adjust her hours to accommodate his new schedule, and we may have to hire some additional help, especially if T gets more hours than we expect.   So we are pretty set.

But wow.  Talk about sea change.  I'm really excited for him.

Of course, it's opened a bit of debate about exactly what we should do with SB, and when.  She's 27 months now, highly verbal, with increasingly fluent Spanish.  "I don't want this," she said to me last night in Spanish.  Argh. . .the terrible twos are alas upon us, and she doesn't want much, especially if she thinks we want her to want it.  But at least she can be disagreeable in two languages.  We put Miss M in preschool when she was two and a half, because she really needed it, and frankly, T needed the break from her at that point (amidst HER terrible twos!).  Preschools are heading for summer break now, so if we started SB in September when they reopen, she would be two and a half.

But, I would really like her and Miss M to go to the same school.  Miss M's school, however, only accepts children from age 3, and the school year ends in December.  The new school year starts up at the end of January, when SB would be close to 3, and I'm pretty sure I could convince them to take her. . .if she's potty trained.  Sigh.  She will tell us when she has to poop, but steadfastly refuses to use the potty.  In fact, she's quite adamant that she NOT use it, so we're just letting it go.  And even if we could make that work, January is still 6 months away.

We have a little bit of time to sort it all out, as T won't start work for a little bit, as there is some administrative stuff that has to be sorted before he can start.  And truthfully, it's a wonderful problem to have.

But it's also a bit bittersweet, and the end of a little mini-era for us.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Monday Grab Bag (Including Crock Pot Yogurt Recipe!)

Whoa, it's been while since I've posted!  We rented a condo in Florida for a couple of weeks, which was lovely, and then we returned to usual post-vacation chaos, so I've hardly had a minute to write.  I have a few Disney posts in the works. . .maybe.  :)  I feel like I'm constantly short on time these days, with two active girls, work, and just life.  We spend every free minute playing, doing projects, riding bikes, in the park, or cooking healthy meals.  Things have been really good.

Speaking of which, I made yogurt this weekend in my Crock Pot, which came out amazing, and it was SO easy. The yogurt in this country is loaded with sugar and weird chemicals, and I just decided I couldn't let the kids eat it any more.  There literally is not one brand I felt comfortable with them eating, but they love yogurt so much that  I couldn't bear to deprive them of it. Someone mentioned making their own recently, which made me scour the internet for recipes, and I came across the Crock Pot method. I can't believe I didn't discover it earlier!  Here's the recipe:

8 cups milk (about a half gallon)
2 T yogurt which active cultures

Put milk in Crock Pot; heat on high for about 2-3 hours, until temperature reaches 180 degrees F.   Turn off Crock Pot and unplug it.  Cool for about 30 minutes, stirring a few times, until temperature cools down to 110-120 degrees F.  Add two tablespoons of the yogurt with the active cultures (I found one unsweetened, chemical free brand here--it's super sour and tastes a bit like cottage cheese, but worked perfectly for making a large batch of my own yogurt).  Place cover back on Crock Pot, unplug it, wrap it in a big towel, and let it sit or 6-8 hours.  At this point, my yogurt was set and I would say was average consistency.  Refrigerate after 6-8 hours, and voila, giant pot of yogurt.

Even though the yogurt I used to add the cultures was really tangy and sour, it made smooth and creamy, tasty yogurt--it wasn't sour at all.  I was a little worried about that, because my kids won't eat it tangy.  We add fruit, vanilla, granola, honey, etc.--everyone gets their favorite flavor now!  I couldn't be more pleased with how it turned out.

We are still working out where work will take us next.  I am seriously torn.  It would be so good to leave the kids in a Spanish-speaking school for a few more years.  Miss M's Spanish is seriously awesome at this point, just 4 months into starting school in Spanish.  Her accent is perfect.  She sounds like a native speaker.  She is just a little sponge.  But, my husband really would like to return to Europe.  He loves the history and the easy regional travel.  It's so expensive to live there, though. . .and as much as I was conflicted about having household help, I've really come to appreciate having the extra set of hands that we have here.  And then there's the possibility of southeast Asia, which is tempting to me, because if not now, when???  So I don't know.

And then there's still the health stuff.  I have more tests tomorrow.  Fingers crossed they all come out okay.  The possibility of more surgery is still on the horizon.  It was good to get away on vacation and get some perspective, which I really think I needed.  It gave me time to recharge, to ready myself for whatever is next.  I think I'm ready to face it now, whatever the outcome of these tests.  But I won't lie:  I'm really hoping the tests show everything looks okay, and I'm hoping the recommendation is that no further surgery is needed.  I'm really ready to put the negative health stuff behind me.

We are probably three quarters of the way through nap time, so I'd better go work on some of the things on my to-do list now.