Friday, January 9, 2015


Well that got your attention...

I am indeed moving.  Not physically.

The Blog is moving.

I can't bring myself to shut this one down because I want to have these old posts (and seriously, some of them are really funny)...but please direct your attention to my new blog on WordPress.

I won't promise greatness.  But I guarantee it will be genuine.

so, bookmark it or subscribe to the RSS...but don't miss out!

Monday, January 5, 2015


My family is complicated.  Over the years I've been asked on more than one occasion to explain using a visual aid.  I have an especially fond memory of sitting down over coffee and drawing a flow chart for one of my friends who happens to be blessed with a "Leave it to Beaver"-style family (I think it might have been a two coffee morning). It so happens that The Husband came from one of those families.  When I was younger, I was at times jealous of the simpler relationships and uncomplicated arrangements that seemed to go along with the "standard" family background.  I've also adopted a policy of Don't Ask-Don't Tell in the early days of new relationships over the years.  Because, it's really enough for a potential new friend to handle my convoluted answer to "Where are you From?" without hammering them with my complicated family story.  I know I'm not alone in the expat universe in cringing inwardly at that question.  And I also know I'm not alone when people either think I'm kidding, crazy, or just too weird to bother with.  Which brings me back to my family.

It's been seven years since we came "home" for the holidays.  The last time we did it, Trouble was 4 months old.  That year, we stayed in 4 different places, visited 7 different towns across Colorado and left feeling sure that despite our back-breaking efforts-we'd pleased no one.   Trouble also suffered from double ear infections and I'm absolutely certain slept for a total of 10 hours in the entire 2 weeks we were in the USA.  It was not an adventure we ever wanted to duplicate.  In fact, we swore we would never do it again.  And we really enjoyed making new family traditions of our own.  We have spent Christmases in the Swiss Alps, at glorious beach locales in Southeast Asia and Hawaii, and at our homes.  We've never regretted not coming home.  Until the girls got old enough to ask us about our own childhood memories...and then we both started to wax nostalgic for SNOW.  And large gatherings.  And, well, Traditional Cold American Christmas.  Add to our own reverie the fact that both of the girls have begun to answer "Colorado" when asked the aforementioned dreaded "Where are you From" question (despite the fact that neither of them have ever truly lived in Colorado)...we began to really consider making the journey again.  The final decision was made when the girls combined their collective giant-eyed, eyelash-batting power to convince us that they NEEDED to learn how to ski.  The Husband is a truly fabulous skier and comes from a "Skiing Family" (yes, there is a back story here...but I'll save you the digression).  They also negotiated hard and agreed that the trip plus their skiing lessons and passes would be their Christmas presents.

And so, this year, we packed up ourselves...5 suitcases full of cold weather gear, gifts and decorations and came to Colorado for the girls' school holiday.

I admit now that a large part of my reluctance to do the trip at Christmas was that I was certain that we would kill ourselves again to make time for everybody and, once again, everybody would be mad at us when the trip was over.  This year, thanks to the fact that we now own a home we can host from, we invited them all to come to us instead of traversing the state.  Aside from one really stupid calendar error on my part (I really am sorry, Dad!), we managed to operate the Hotel Circus-Broccoli and offer hospitality to 17 members of our family in rotations.   We weren't able to see all of the friends we would have liked to see...and a really unfortunately timed case of the stomach flu kept us from seeing family we really would have loved to see...but all in all it was wonderful.  And I really think I was wrong.

Today, as I folded the 9th set of sheets that came out of the dryer, I wasn't worried that I'd offended.  I wasn't exhausted and emotional and worn out.  The thought that overwhelmed me completely was that ALL of those people were willing to re-arrange their lives and drive (literally) HOURS in truly horrible weather JUST to spend some time with us.  My girls actually anointed this vacation "THE BEST CHRISTMAS EVER" the day we arrived.  I really had fear that they were setting me up to disappoint them.  But even on Christmas morning...when there were truly only a few small gifts from their grandparents and their one gift from Santa Claus...and NO GIFTS from mom & dad...the girls were smiling and grateful and gleefully singing "White Christmas" while watching giant snowflakes fall outside our windows.  We skied on Christmas Day.  They will never forget this Christmas.  Today, they asked if we could please come back next year.  While I'm not ready to commit to anything...I will say that I'm so grateful for my big complicated crazy family.  And that includes the "Leave it to Beaver" side that The Husband brought into my life (you're not overly complicated but I'm definitely throwing you all in the crazy camp).  I'm certain that people with uncomplicated families wouldn't feel this same sense of accomplishment mingled with humility at having pulled off something like our 3 weeks in Colorado.

So, tomorrow I will pack up the house and we will suffer the indignity of 24-hours on 3 airplanes wearing the same pair of underpants.  My kids will weep at the end of snow forts and cigar icicles....and my tummy will hurt knowing my eldest nephew will likely be taller than me when we return in June (yeah I know that's not that hard)...but I will also be grinning inside because I am going back to 85 degrees, and a routine that makes me happy and confident.

Thank you Complicated Family for all the joy you brought to me and my family this Christmas.  I love each and every one of you.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Where Are They Now?

Remember that VH1 show from the early 'oughts?

I particularly loved the ones about the child stars that burned out.  Early reality TV kind of rocked.  I'm talking about The Real World before it was scripted.  Current reality TV scares me.  I'm not even sure how many different versions of The Real Housewives exist but I am basically certain that they are all absolute garbage.  I take real offense when people suggest (somewhat facetiously?  Good lord I hope so) that there should be a Real Housewives of Bangkok and I should be on it.  First of all, I'm entirely uninteresting-particularly in the Bangkok universe.  Secondly, those shows are just trashy overexposure of people that thrive on messy drama.  And lastly, I haven't been in any kid of a brawl or cat fight since the early '90s.  So, Just No.

I've spent my internet surfing time today re-reading the old posts on my blog (seriously-I am funny!)...and when I read my introductory post it occurred to me that a real update was in order.  While I'm 100% certain that everybody who is reading this knows...I harbor this secret wish that my decision to write again will one day bring me many loving, loyal readers who don't meet me for bootcamp and coffee every weekday, or weren't one of my college roommates.

So-a few things need to be addressed to get this blog up to date.

First of all, if we met in the last 3.5 years, you probably never knew me as Broccoli Mom.  Or you might assume it's because I've recently taken up a Real Food mission alongside my eldest.  But the name of this blog came about because back when the kids were bitty bits, I did most of the heavy lifting parenting-wise.  The Husband got to stroll in to cheers and applause, ignore the rules and dole out gifts and chocolate.  In retrospect, I'm guessing all partnerships have one parent who is the Bad Cop and one parent who is the Good Cop.  In our family, I'm still the Heavy.  I'm Broccoli Mom because I get to make sure the serious things are taken care of.  When they were 3 and 6, that was mostly bedtime and vegetable eating.  Now, it's all of friend issues, and homework, and goals, and clothes, and screen time and allowance.  The Husband is still Circus Dad in that he comes home in time to get hugs and kisses and he gets to break the rules and let them stay up late and watch Harry Potter while eating ON THE SOFA (mom rule #38 is all food belongs in the kitchen).  But more and more lately, I fell a little bit sorry for Circus Dad because he does miss out on the details of the day.  But I know deep in my heart that they will both hate me passionately, in turns...and that's not so far off.

Secondly, there is a big difference between parenting a toddler and a first grader and the parenting I do now.  Part of why it was so fun to re-read my old posts was that I forgot how challenging it was to deal with a kid that wouldn't sleep.  Or the toddler tantrums.  The expat adventures are just the background.  The real story here is just a family figuring it out.  I really do wish I had blogged through the last 4 years.  I'd love to have that (instead of a zillion stupid FB status updates) to look back on.  Drama is now 10.8 years old and in the Fifth Grade.  She's not so dramatic these days.  In fact, she's really more pensive and dreamy.  She is very much still a little girl, but she has begun to question my version of "Cool" and definitely has her own sense of humor.  She does love to be involved in drama, and will be a part of the Elementary School Musical (Aladdin) in we'll just let her keep that moniker.  Trouble is 7.4 years old and in the 2nd grade.  She sleeps through the night, gets up and takes care of herself and the dog(S!! Yep-we have two now!) and sometimes even has my coffee ready when I come downstairs. I feel a little bit bad about having called her Trouble for so long.  Clearly, she keeps us on our toes...and I am all but certain that she will cause me great agony in her teen years...but she isn't so much Trouble these days.  She's cheeky and charming and social.  Until I can come up with a new name, I guess she will remain Trouble.

Strangely, my life is much the same as it was in Hong Kong.  I confess that up until this point...looking back our very brief stint in Hong Kong was my very favorite.  However, life in Bangkok is wonderful.  It's probably the easiest place we've ever lived.  We continue to live happily with Help.  I've been very lucky on that front and please don't for a moment think we take that lightly or for granted.  I absolutely believe that acknowledging and expressing gratitude for the amazing things in our life is before this ride ends-I'll say it again-having Help is the single greatest parenting tool on the planet.  I spend my days much the same way that I did four years ago with the exception that I took my crazy competitive nature to an unhealthy and ridiculous extreme of over-involvement and over-commitment for a while.  Now, I have vowed to only volunteer with things that put me directly WITH my children.  I do not attend meetings that take me away from my children.  So, PTA and Boards of any organization are out.   I still lead the Girl Scout troop for Drama, but now I also do it for Trouble.  I really love it.  Though if we ever move to the US and I have to manage Cookie Sales, I might re-think my involvement.

This holiday, we took the girls to Colorado to visit family and friends and to take them skiing.  We're wrapping up our time in the USA and I'm debating if a 2-hour drive to Target is worthwhile.  My early blog self would be screaming "Yes!" and chugging a 64-oz icy Diet Coke...but my much more reasonable current self is thinking Pilates and an extra hour to organize the house sounds like a better use of that time.  Clearly proof that I'm getting old...I can't believe I've just talked myself out of a trip to Target.

So, that brings you up to speed.  Sorry, this post definitely not so funny.  I'll try harder next time.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Don't Call it a Comeback

New Year's Resolutions are the stuff that disappointment and self-loathing are made of.  As a general rule I never make them-at least not on New Year's Eve.  I've been known to declare an intention for myself, occasionally at a milestone in my life...but rarely have I made them to begin on January first.

Nonetheless, I am ending 2014 with both a resolution and a declaration of intention.  And I figure if I put it out there then there are people in the world that will hold me accountable (but please don't harass me when it's not going as I might hope).

2015 is The Year Without Facebook. My darling husband has asked that I give up all social media-but that's his Dogma.  I actually have a very comfortable love-hate relationship with Facebook.  In the past few years it's really been more love than hate because I really do love keeping up with the family and friends we've made along the way.  And I like to take advantage of the various groups that help me navigate the landscape of the admittedly unique communities that we've lived in over the past 10 years.   Nonetheless, I cannot deny the amount of time I waste and how easily I get distracted by Upworthy headlines and quizzes that promise to tell me which Friends character I am (Ross???) or what color my aura is (orange?).  My intention for 2015 is to be more present in my life-especially with my kids, but also with my friends and my husband.  Facebook allows me to check out-probably 10-20 times per day.  And I know that I would be a better mom/wife/friend if I weren't so distracted.

I've also decided that despite my self-consciousness about writing and putting myself out there for judgment, I really miss writing.  And I have been saying for almost 4 years that I will start again.  But I think maybe I got distracted...seriously Candy Crush is addicting!

I don't think I have any followers of this blog that I don't talk to or at least follow on Facebook to some degree...but that will go away tomorrow.  So, I'll link this post as a little explanation and if anybody feels like they want to follow-they'll know where to find me.  I will also keep my Instagram because it's much less of a time vampire...and I can easily post without wasting an hour "browsing".  

It occurs to me that if there were any followers, they probably think that the Great Pneumonia Episode of 2011 took my life.  Not So.  But life got a little hairy between the hospitalization, and the puppy, and then my little one (who is definitely not so little anymore) had surgery to remove her adenoids and insert tubes in her ears.  Immediately on the heels of that little adventure, we found out we were moving to Bangkok.  So, I just thought I'd take a little hiatus and write again when I got settled.  But that never happened.  I spent two years trying really hard to be SuperMom, and be on every committee and group and board at the girls' school.  But my resolution for 2014 (made mid-year) was to focus where I needed my attention to be and reign in it.  Being a good mom isn't a competition won by heading more committees than anybody's done by being really and truly present in my girls' life.  And so.  That brings me back to my resolution.

I'm going to quit wasting time on Facebook...and start putting my ramblings back into the Blogosphere.  I'm a little older, wiser, wrinklier and more experienced than I was when I last wrote.  I just hope I'm still funny.  Then again, my husband says I'm not nearly as funny as I think I am...

So, Happy New Year-just don't call it a comeback (my apologies to LL Cool J...but I have been here for years).

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Cat Fancy and Hand-Knitted Shawls

I'm not feeling terrifically funny today.  Nor have I experienced the bubbling-over of pent up self-deprecation or snarkisms urging me to post over the past week.  I blame it whole-heartedly on the lack of oxygen to my brain because my lungs have not been functioning for the better part of a month.

I want you to know that I took the doctor's orders to take to my bed very seriously, and aside from opening the door to let the dog out (I admit I kind of let this one go to the wayside for the first 24 hours...but mopping up puppy puddles and responding to Drama's woe-is-me cries when she discovered the tootsie roll-like treasures left on her bedroom rug made me re-prioritize letting him out), I honestly stayed on the sofa, in my bed, or sitting lazily at the kitchen table for 3 full days.  Despite a drug cocktail that would rival that of an HIV-patient, loads of rest and pitchers full of water...I found myself on Monday morning feeling, well, not a whole lot better.  Not worse, but definitely not better.

I take a very pragmatic approach to illness: First, Mind Over Matter.  If you do not allow yourself to get sick, you won't get sick.  Second: If you begin to feel slightly wonky or cold-symptoms come take a million grams of vitamin-C, echinacea, and zinc and get a solid 12 hours of sleep.  In my universe, Sleep Cures Everything.  Third: If One and Two fail, Call the Doctor...the world will certainly End if I am not here to help my family navigate the trials and tribulations of each day. (or not!?)

So, Monday, I was trying hard to evaluate if I was feeling better and decided that I couldn't tell because I hadn't done anything to tax myself at all.  True, walking up the stairs to my bedroom was sort of a challenge...but I also haven't worked out in a week (aaaaahhhhhh!!  You KNOW something is not right here).  Trouble (my sweet girl who can NOT catch a break and truly gets every known illness and lots that you've never heard of) had been up a number of times during the night on Sunday complaining that her ear hurt.  Mind you, she had an ear infection not 2 weeks earlier and only finished that antibiotic 7 days before.  Also, I HATE antibiotics.  I hate that we need them and I do NOT want to be the family that does not get well because we've taken them too liberally.  Against my better judgment I took Trouble back to see our family physician, where she was diagnosed with Walking Pneumonia.  I kind of that like Jr. Pneumonia?  Did I give it to her?  Answer to both questions is No.  Google it.  She has mycoplasma pneumonia and just needs a "Stronger" antibiotic.  My doctor knows my feelings about antibiotics and when I raised an eyebrow at her she reassured me that it WILL work.  Trouble's little system just cannot get well at the moment.  Then, she turns to me straight-faced and says, "I'm actually more worried about You.  You look absolutely Terrible.  No offense."  I try to tell her I think I feel better.  She clearly does not believe me and as we walk out with our 5th bag of prescriptions in the past 4 weeks, she says she is calling my pulmonologist ans she'll talk to me in a while.  I shrug and wander out to pay my bill and see if I can sweet talk the receptionist into giving me my own parking space (No Go).

Hours later, I've collapsed on the sofa.  That outing took it all out of me, literally, I couldn't even get up to let out the dog.  When my phone rang and the doctor told me that they have decided to admit me to the hospital and I needed to get there ASAP, I cried.  Both because I didn't want to go and I did.  See above comment about the world ending without me (though maybe I'm just afraid it WON'T).

I gather the children, explain the situation, phone The Husband and explain so that he can re-arrange his travel and take the red-eye back to Hong Kong to be with the kids in the morning, and then desperately beg our overworked helper to work straight through until he arrives so that I can go directly to the hospital (Have I mentioned that life in Hong Kong would not work without helpers?  Case in point). Then I pack an overnight bag and kiss the girls and tell them Daddy will be there when they wake up.  Tears all 'round.

FYI: This is how hospital admissions work in Hong Kong.  I taxi over, walk in to admissions, give them my Hong Kong ID card and my insurance card, answer about 3 questions and then get met by a nurse and escorted to my (very nice, very clean, very large) private room.  10 minutes later, I have been helped into my OWN pajamas, taken for a new X-Ray, been visited by the phlebotomist and hooked up to an IV.  Here's the downside of this hospital.  It's called Adventist.  I don't know any Seventh Day Adventists in real life...apparently they are vegetarian and eschew caffeine.  Okay, I'm on board with vegetarianism.  Particularly for the ill and elderly.  Let's face it, we don't need animal fat to heal our hearts and bodies.  But caffeine?  Are they insane?  I also tried to order my Vegetarian Ham Sandwich at 7:35pm.  And the kitchen closes at 7:30pm.  Bummer.  So I ate the complimentary bag of raisins and nuts for dinner and settled into my bed with my laptop.  Because of course WiFi is complimentary at Adventist (which is was NOT at the overpriced "5-star" hotel that we stayed at in Australia for at least 4 times the cost of this hospital room...but I digress).

Eventually, my admitting physician (the pulmonologist) came by to talk about his findings.  As I mentioned earlier he is a strange combination of very excitable and very dry.  He is fascinated by the Medical Mystery that is apparently Me.  I should mention here that he didn't make it to see me until nearly 11pm...despite ordering me to the hospital at 5pm.  Why?  He had an invitation from the Medical Attache to tour the visiting US Naval Carrier that is currently docked in Hong Kong Harbour.  Or, to be more exact, Lantau Island Harbour...which is an hour away by Ferry.  He was full of fascinating stories about this boat...that he wasn't supposed to be telling me, because they were classified.  Um.  Okay.  So, could we get back to me?  My lungs?  Right!!  With a wry grin, he tells me that he was happy to see that I still have a small pneumonia in the center of my right lung. (Happy!!??)  It is responding to the treatment but the pain and difficulty I am experiencing is my asthma.  Okay.  Only I don't Have asthma.  You do now, he says.  I implore,  "You  Aren't I a little old to just Get asthma?"  He is just half smiling at me.  "Is this "environmental" by any chance?", I ask.  He half nods his head and says that he does see a high number of late onset asthma cases here.
Then, the guy with a gift for delivery drops this little bomb, "I was so glad to see that it's Just Pneumonia.  Your family doctor and I were concerned.  I'll tell you now, because it's not...we thought you might have leukemia."

Full Stop.

What?  Dude.  Enough with the Giant Black Tumor and Leukemia talk.  I get that you like the medical mysteries and all that.  But let me understand you.  I have Asthma AND Pneumonia.  And that's all.



Honestly, he's kind of grinning at me through all of this.  I ask, "So, when can I go home?"  He says, "I'd love to get you out of here.  But the last thing we want is you going home and coming back worse.  So, you get At Least 2 days of nebulizer, oxygen, IV fluids, sleep and some strong antibiotics.  I'll let you know what I think tomorrow night."

Fast Forward.  I have now been here in the hospital for nearly 24 hours.  I have (AWESOME) friends that came by with magazines, cookies, DVDs, packs of gum (eat your heart out JSE...I am WT through and through), and Starbucks Caffeinated Latte.  The Husband, who can be incredibly sweet and concerned when he wants to be, brought two cleanly dressed (if not exactly neatly brushed and presented) little girls to visit.  Trouble brought me her favorite Dou Dou (read: stuffed animal) to sleep with (yes, I made sure she took it with her when she left!), and Drama wrote me a card. I also received a lovely hand-written card from the daughter of a friend (and a friend of, that's kind of complicated).

So, I'm feeling the love.   What you should also know is that Nebulizer treatments work.  I actually feel better than I have in weeks.  I'm NOT coughing up a lung (or anything else for that matter).  The downside (aside from no coffee and things like vegetarian crabmeat on the menu)?  I am wearing an oxygen mask, have an IV and am wearing compression stockings.  I've requested that my friends call me Ethel and the next time they visit I want a copy of Cat Fancy magazine and some Sanka.  And I'd like a hand-knitted shawl and we should play bridge.  I would be completely unobtrusive at an old folks home.

Truthfully, I just want to get well and go home.  We have Real Coffee and Meat there.  But it will have to wait until I can breathe on my own.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

How to Deliver Bad News

Well, I'm happy to report that I officially DO NOT have TB.  Having spent the last 24 hours reading Medi Wiki, WebMD, and googling X-ray photos of lungs with active and latent TB, I can say unequivocally that NOT having TB is really good news.

I also do not have to call everyone I've come in contact with over the last 6 weeks and tell them that I contaminated all of them.  And considering I have a number of friends who are expecting, and I have been with my kids (and lots of other kids!!!) at school, at Girl Scouts and in countless public situations...that is a very good thing.

I am not, at least for the moment, Typhoid Andrea.

Today I had the pleasure (like stick a fork in my eye kind of pleasure) of spending over 4 hours playing musical chairs between the pulmonologist's waiting room,  examination room, and office; the radiologist's waiting room, changing room, X-ray room, and lab; and then the same thing in reverse.  I really liked the doctor...other than that he is in such high demand that one has to wait over an hour just to see him.  He had an excellent demeanor, and managed to even be somewhat funny.  So, when I finally got back into his office after over 3 hours of what can only be described as God's waiting room full of aging Chinese people dying of various lung ailments, he delivered my diagnosis like this:

Doc: (looking at my CT scan, hung up for us to study together) "Good News!  I know what's wrong with you!"

Me: silent, waiting..

Doc: (begins with first "Slice" of the scan): See, here?  Perfectly healthy lungs.
(next slice): All Clear.
(third slice) : you can see that your organs are covering parts of the lung area, but the lungs still look good.
(fourth slice) You see that little black spot here?

Me: Um...yes.  Black isn't good, is it?

Doc: Looks like a little tumor here.

Me: (??????  mouth hanging open, speechless)

Doc:  (next slice) But here, it's Huge.

Me: I have a Huge Tumor?

Doc: No, No.  It's not a tumor!

Me: (relief washing over me)

Doc: It's just a pneumonia!  About the size of a fist, from what we can see here!  Amazing.  The placement of your pneumonia made it absolutely impossible to detect.  That's really something!
(he was kind of excited, I kid you not)  I do this every day, for thirty years...and I'm not talking about being a student.  And I didn't hear it!

Me: Um.  Okay.  Well NOT a Tumor is a good thing!!  (I'm totally doing Arnold here, for the record...which was completely lost on the Doctor)  But, pneumonia?

Doc: Yes, and that is Very need *blahblahblahblahblahblahblah, prescription, prescription, prescription, prescription, sleep, confined to bed, NO exercise.  Your children, your husband and your helper need to do everything.  And if you are not significantly better within 48 hours call me at this (hands me his personal mobile phone number) number if not.  I will admit you to the hospital to go after this.

Me: (blinking...seriously, I was just still excited that I don't have a giant Tumor on my lung)  Okay.  I can do this. (then pausing to think about how I get to tell The Husband that he HAS to do everything)

Doc: Did you hear me say No exercise?  None.  Because if you don't take this seriously it will be much worse, and people DIE from pneumonia.

Me: Right.  Okay.

So, here's what I've taken away from my experience today:

1) Having Pneumonia kind of sucks.

2) If I don't do what he says, I'll probably get worse

3) Having pneumonia doesn't really suck all that bad when you compare it against having a giant black tumor on your lung

All things are, in fact, relative.

So, I'm flat on my back, watching DVR-ed episodes of Glee and Modern Family and trying not to laugh out loud because it hurts my lungs when I breathe too deeply.  But it's seriously still better than having a tumor.

Monday, May 16, 2011


I'm American.

That can mean or indicate a lot of things, depending on the context.

What I'm referring to in this particular instance is that Americans (and me, especially) are masters of sarcasm as a form of humor.  But, we don't really Get irony.  Seriously, I didn't even realize that Alanis Morrissette's song "Ironic" was totally off base, and that none of her stanzas were examples of Irony.

But, I think I "get" that me (the wife of a tobacco executive) coming down with a serious lung infection is Ironic.  (That IS irony, right?)

Today I made my 5th trip to the doctor, this time finally giving in and going Just for me.  Not tacking on my issues to one of the girls' appointments.  And it turns out that I really am sick.  The most ironic part?  That I've been making (bad) jokes about having TB for weeks.  And it turns out that if the medications that the doctor prescribed today don't make me feel dramatically better (and, subsequently, allow me to Breathe), I have to go get a Chest X-ray to rule out TB.

Or is that just Bad Karma?