The Girl Scout Cookies Are Here ... And We'll Ship Them ANYWHERE!

Who knew that selling Girl Scout Cookies would be AS big of a business as it apparently is here in Newport Beach? Our Brownie troop sent out email message after email message detailing the where, how, why, and to whom we're allowed to sell.... and followed up with an HOUR-LONG meeting where we were read the riot act about discussing cookie sales anywhere publicly prior to today.

So like the good little girl that I am, I waited.... thought it was very hard! Because who doesn't love Girl Scout Cookies? Those tasty little treats just sell themselves.

However, today is all of our lucky days! Because while I've been anxiously awaiting the opportunity to not only purchase them for myself ... I can finally let you all know that Riley is open for business, and I'm ready to ship them ANYWHERE in the world...

I am willing to outfit your entire Embassy, your Consulate, your school, your religious group, your household staff, your expat friends, and anyone else you can think of with delicious Girl Scout Cookies ... just pass along my info - and I'll ship away!

The cookies are all $4 a box, and the list of the types of cookies is down below.

I will be shipping the cookies to our overseas friends in the USPS Flat Rate boxes. The APO/FPO rate is $12.95 for a 12" x 12" x 5 1/2" box ... and I can fit 8 boxes of cookies in them.

I will be shipping the cookies to our domestic friends in either the Medium or Large USPS Flat Rate Boxes (depending on how many boxes you purchase). The Medium box is $10.95 and the Large is $14.95.

BUT, I'll even cut y'all a deal. You pick up the first $10 of the shipping per box, and I'll pay the difference!

Here's How To Order:

a) You can either leave me a comment at the end of the posting letting me know you'd like to order .... and exactly how many of each kind you'd like!


b) Send me your order and your shipping address info in a personal email to mjperlman@me.com

And Then ...

c) Pay for your cookies via my PayPal account ... which is fast, easy, and you don't need to have an account of your own. PayPal accepts most major credit cards! Click here to go to PayPal ... and then enter in my email address (mjperlman@me.com) to send me the money. It's instantaneous - so once I receive it, I'll send you a confirmation email letting you know that you're good to go!

But ...

d) Don't forget to add in the $10 for your shipping (per box) ...

Once I have your completed order, your address, your money for the cookies AND shipping ... I'll have Riley help me package them up, and we'll ship them within 2 days!

Happy Ordering!

p.s. Please note that I can not take responsibility for how the postal service or the "pouch people" handle the boxes. I will package them up as carefully as can be... but once they leave my hands, I can not be responsible for how they make it to you...

p.s.s. For any of you who are overseas and are NOT affiliated with an American Embassy / Consulate, please contact me at my email address and we'll work out how to ship the cookies to you too!

It May Not Look Like It Now ...

... But I swear it IS worth it...

I went for my third, and probably final, Rosacea laser treatment today. Laser treatment that really is reducing the redness on my nose ...

However, today's appointment left me looking like I was beaten with the ugly stick... WAY too many times.

37 laser pulses of medium-high intensity covered every spot on my nose.

And now I'm swollen. I'm bruised. I'm in a wee bit more pain than I was last time.

But I have vision. I know that once my nose heals, the redness will be significantly reduced. I will have achieved the relatively desired results.

For now, I just have to get past looking like a relative of Rocky Balboa ...

Left: Just before the procedure
Right: About 30 seconds after I took off my eye goggles

Left: Twenty minutes after the treatment
Right: About 11 hours later


The Day I've Been Waiting For ...

... for 4 1/2 YEARS was today. The day that Sheridan FINALLY lost the tooth that she chipped when she fell down the stairs in Israel. After she spiked a high fever. Had a febrile seizure. Frothed at the mouth. And was rushed to the ER. The night of the big 4th of July party at the Ambassador's house. Where Matt was actually sent home by the Medical Unit to be with us.

Yeah, this was clearly a memory that stands out in my mind.

One that is just as vibrant as how the tooth made its way into the envelope for the tooth fairy tonight.

Sheridan was sent to bed early this evening. VERY early due to behavior these last few days that has driven me near the brink of insanity. See, she fooled around way past her bedtime last night. Decided NOT to sleep on her bed, but rather on the floor. Annoyed her sister. Jumped all around in the dark. Then cracked AND chipped one of her few PERMANENT teeth on the side of the bed. Followed that scream-fest with the next hysteria that her braid "just fell out." And wouldn't go back to bed until she put band-aids on every conceivable scratch that she saw from her elbows to her toes.

I may have had an extra cocktail last night ...

She then picked up this morning where she left off last night by throwing fits about her hair. Not being able to "play" before school. Forgetting to attach her lunch bag to her backpack. Not finding her jacket. And of course, getting upset that I didn't remind her to put her shoes on before we walked out the door.

I. Was. Done...

So, I instituted a new bedtime for Sheridan. One that would have her going to bed far earlier than her sister, and would give her time to chit chat to herself and fall asleep before Riley came into the room.

In theory that is...

In reality? She WENT to bed early... after threats that 'everything in life she cared about would be taken away from her' were spoken through clenched teeth. Though she didn't stay in there for long. Because instead of relaxing and trying to fall asleep, she spent the next 25 minutes wiggling her tooth. Wiggling and tugging. Tugging and wiggling. Until the tooth, that was NOT ready to fall out any time soon, was grasped tightly in her sweaty little hands. And blood was dripping out of her mouth.

And now? Now she had to spend the next ten minutes stopping the blood, and writing her letter to the tooth fairy. Which she ecxsididely excitedly did before going to bed.

However ... I was left with one BIG problem. I only have a $20 bill. And "I" refuse to reward her with that large sum of money for her crappy behavior. Even if I have been waiting ever-so-impatiently for that ugly tooth to finally fall out.

Such a dilemma...

I'm guessing that writing a check would be kinda obvious?


Is The Glass Half Empty or Half Full?

Today marks exactly six months to the day that Matt has been in Baghdad, Iraq.

180 days behind us. 180 days to go.

Sometimes it feels like the time has gone by so fast that I know when I blink my eyes we'll be moving into our new house in Virginia. And other times, the days drag on so slowly that I literally count the minutes until it's time to put all three kids to bed.

I've learned a lot about myself in Matt's absence. I enjoy having total clicker control and have a renewed adoration for chick flick TV. I love to sleep diagonal in the bed. I don't miss the extra laundry. It takes me about two months to go through a large tube of toothpaste, and about three months to go through one bottle of shampoo. Oh, and I'll never get white slip covers for the couches.

I also discovered when I don't get any breaks, that my patience is sadly very thin. I've managed to make-do with our simple meal preparations, but really yearn for someone to appreciate the effort I go through to get a well balanced dinner on the table. In fact, there's a huge void in our house of grandiose dinners and at-home entertaining. And as much as I can handle just about anything ... I don't always look forward to doing it alone.

That's really where the biggest challenge of our separation comes into play. Being apart from Matt is very lonely. Sure we talk every single day. Sometimes twice a day. Or four times a day when we were house hunting. We Skype as often as the girls are willing to sit still (read ... not very). We email every day. But from about 7 pm until I go to bed, I feel the void. I feel it even more when I lay down every single night in my lumpy queen sized bed. Alone.

Lest you think I'm crying in my Cabernet every night, let me reassure you that I'm not. I absolutely have my moments. Sometimes even my days. But for the most part, I feel blessed for the opportunity to rediscover myself. To reinvent the person I once was many years ago ... before kids ... before we moved overseas. I have the chance to do a lot of soul searching. Which takes time. A precious commodity that I am willing to spare.

As I reflect on these past six months, I realize that I would not be where I am without our family. Nor without the cohorts going through similar situations here and abroad, who I've been connected with via the State Department yahoo groups ... and through Facebook ... and blogging. Or without the friends, who have stuck it out while we've lived overseas, reaching out from near and far, making any effort to stay in touch ... while sometimes getting so little in return. And especially not without those who continue to help me in ways that may seem so minuscule, but are so endearing to me.

The cards, the notes, the emails, the texts, the phone calls ... they don't go unnoticed. And I appreciate them more than you'll ever know. I gush, therefore I am.

But the question still begs. As I sit here, looking forward to Matt's second R&R next week, I am able to make out a tiny little light at the end of the tunnel. Or is it much larger than I originally thought.

And I continue to wonder ... is the glass half empty or is it half full?

Sometimes There Just Aren't Any Words ...

... but only because you can't stop laughing.

I opted NOT to post the one where he's wearing a tiara. He'll probably thank me later...


Nothing Ceases To Amaze Me Anymore ...

... not even finding out that after 4 days on the antibiotics for my 4th pink eye infection ... that my other eye now has it as well! Which brings us to the 5th pink eye infection in the last month AND has solidified that I'll be on antibiotics for 10 more days. Yay me!

... not even walking outside and finding two of my kids covered in chalk from literally head to toe. And giggling. Oh the giggling.

... not even when we were walking the dog around the block and a bulldog came charging out of a neighbor's house and got into a rockin' dog fight with Libby ... only to have me scream loudly, trip over the *^$#@!%*^%@! dog, and then ... embarrassingly tinkled a tad when I fell backwards. Nobody got hurt too badly ... except maybe my pride.

... not even when the weather over the weekend was so warm that my girls hung out with their friends at the beach ... and Grady and I were able to sit outside and catch some rays at Starbucks.

... not even when I finally had an hour to sew a few things, only to have the thread catch in the bobbin winder three consecutive times, and ultimately blow a fuse. Which then made two of us...

... not even when the girlies picked out my new reading glasses, and I realized that I should have been using them for a long, LONG time.


"Ode To My Wife"

While Matt is often a behind-the-scenes contributor to the blog, it's a very rare occasion when he specifically asks to have something posted. However, on this most special of occasions, I proudly share the beautiful email that I received from him this morning.

Matthew writes ... An Ode To My Wife.

"Eleven years ago today, I pronounced two little words that would forever change my existence. While time has not been as considerate to me, Jill miraculously remains as beautiful, sexy, and radiant as she did on that special day. It's difficult to imagine where I'd be without my perfect soul-mate, consummate friend, and the love of my life. Two little princesses and a miniature clone later, Jill and I have forged a strong partnership. As with any marriage, we certainly have experienced our share of bumps in the road, some more formidable than others, especially considering the non-traditional lifestyle we have chosen.

As you regular readers know, this year in particular has been quite trying for Jill in my absence. Nevertheless, she has managed to weather all with great aplomb - while maintaining the resolute strength, unselfish compassion, self-confidence, and sense of humor which I fell deeply in love with some 14 years ago.

This new year, I promised to demonstrate to Jill how much I appreciate her and just how much she means to me. This simple tribute to a woman who is like none other, and who thoroughly completes me, is my modest effort to reaffirm these vows. To this end, Happy Anniversary Jill!! I Love You!!!"

Wherever you all are in the world, please raise your glass tonight, and toast us as we celebrate eleven wonderful years of marriage.

And if you were at all wondering what the traditional anniversary gift-by-year may be. Diamonds baby. It's always diamonds.

Happy Anniversary Matthew. I'm the lucky one.


Note To Self ...

One pink eye infection is bad enough ... especially if you're sharing the "joys" of it with your little boy.

When it gets into the other eye, it's not funny anymore and you really need to rethink your medication.

If you're silly enough to get it for a third time, then you should open up your insurance provider booklet, find an ophthalmologist and get something to clear it up.

And when you wake up one week later with your fourth pink eye infection in a month, looking like you've smoked way too much of the "good stuff", then I have no more advice for you except to "high tail your a** to the doctor's office, because frankly, you're an idiot.

So I did. However, because it's now an awful recurrent infection, I'm on antibiotics for twice as long. And on an NSAID... for the inflammation, the redness, the oozing, and the pain.

Two hours of waiting in the office and exam rooms after my emergency appointment this morning, I left there with a follow-up visit next week ... AND a prescription for reading glasses.

I don't know which one hurts more ...


The Ideas She Expressed Were Her Own ...

... I didn't help her with anything more than changing a repetitive word or two. Can't you just 'hear' the pride in her writing?

And speaking of Matt's line of work ... while in Virginia I managed to do something I've never done before. I attended a dinner in Reston with the spouses of those who work in the same agency as Matt. Thirteen ladies showed up for dinner, a majority of whom I've never met, and stayed until the restaurant literally kicked us out. We laughed, we rolled our eyes, we compared notes. It was warming to know that there are so many others out there who understand ...

Left : Kolbi, Jen and Me ... and ... Right: Heather (a soon-to-be close neighbor) and Me

I was remiss in not taking a picture of the entire group... clearly my head was stuck in the clouds after just signing the contract for the house. Next time.


You Had Me At Hello ...

This is my kitchen. My favorite room of the house. Probably THE reason why I knew the house was right for us soon after I walked in.

However, four short weeks ago, this wasn't even the house I thought we were going to buy. In fact, I didn't even visit this house when we went on our first house hunting trip back in November. I actually had my mind set on buying a different house, in a different city all together.

Apparently though, having too much time to contemplate really played games with my psyche ... and ultimately helped me change my decision.

As you may remember, when Matt and I went on our first house hunting trip, we really really liked a particular lot in a nature preserve that had yet to come available. In fact, we liked it so much that after leaving Virginia I began working with lenders, got our pre-approval to purchase the lot, and even kept in touch with the builder's rep to ensure that once the lot came available, we'd be first in line to purchase it.

I was ready to pull the plug, to sign on the dotted line ... until I started over thinking. And stressing. And realizing that as much as I liked Top Ramen, I really didn't want to eat it every day for the next year, as it very well could have been the only thing we could afford if we decided to buy the other house. I woke up one night in a cold sweat, and at 2 am placed a frantic call to Matt telling him that we just couldn't buy the house. We needed a new game plan.

Back to square one we went, researching online, calling builders, setting up appointments. I took the red eye out to Virginia this past Thursday and knew that I had very limited time to make a decision. I was bound and determined to leave there by Saturday afternoon with a house! A girlfriend went with me the first day to see the houses, and to view things from another perspective. My realtor spent the entire time with me to help me narrow down my choices and work with me when I finally made my decision.

Two very LONG days dedicated to looking, analyzing, running numbers, taking pictures, researching, trying to reach Matt, stressing, driving around, running more numbers, praying that Matt would like it, looking, analyzing some more, getting frustrated that I couldn't reach Matt, and finally, throwing caution to the wind, and ultimately purchasing the house ....

THEN, the last day was overwhelming as I had to pick out all of the upgrades, colors, carpets, hardwood, tiles, appliances, light fixtures, outlets, cabinets, and more ...

All the while ... hoping that Matt would be happy. I mean, he should be. I got him the only thing he really cared about... A lot with trees. And me? I have my open floor plan.

Now if they'd just start building it already...


By The Power Vested In Me ...

After nine months, two house hunting trips, ten hours on the phone with lenders, fifty emails exchanged with the realtor, eighteen model homes viewed, and 3024 hours online ...

I finally pronounce us ...

... Virginia State Homeowners.

The contract is signed. The deposit check was written. The upgrades have been decided.

And sometime in the next 6-7 months, this little lot of land will be our new home.

Let's just hope Matt likes it ...


Buy 3 Co-Pays And The Next One's FREE!

I have had the pleasure of going to the pediatricians office not once ... not twice ... but three times this week!

The first time was last Tuesday for a rash on Grady's face and tush. The diagnosis? Eczema.

The second time was on Friday for the fever, the sore throat, the drool. The diagnosis? None.

And today's visit was the piece de resistance. We went in for bumps on his hands and feet. Bumps and blisters that appeared out of nowhere... three days after his sore throat and fever. Sound familiar? Do you know the dreaded diagnosis? Hand, Foot & Mouth Disease.

But wait, there's more!

Not only does he have Hand, Foot & Mouth Disease ... AND Eczema ... he ALSO has a raging case of ...

... Anal Strep.

Don't even ask ... I have no answers.

But you should totally stand close to me because I carry a lucky rabbit's foot in my pocket, and this past week is proof positive that I have hit the trifecta!


It Really Does Take A Village ...

... to make it to the hair salon.

So let's just cut to the chase. I played the selfish card today, and I took my semi-ill child to daycare preschool. I know. I know. I'm the awful mother who knowingly dropped her kid off and infected the other kids in the school. But let's be real. He didn't get sick at home ... now did he? He was just bringing back what he wrongfully took home. *ahem*

I took him to school, knowing full well that there was a chance they'd end up sending him home early. I dropped him off because I needed a few hours to myself. Okay, full disclosure? I needed the few hours to get my hair colored and to do another Brazilian.

In all honesty, Grady wasn't too sick when he woke up. He was hungry after puking his guts out the night before. And he had a runny nose. But he was pretty perky. He chased the dog. He played with the girls. He ate a good breakfast and he was all smiles and giggles.

So I made the snap decision not to cancel the ridiculously hard-to-get hair appointment, dosed him up with Tylenol and Triaminic, and took him to school. I'm very friendly with his teachers and I was upfront and honest about how he was feeling. I told them about the previous night. I told them I doped him up. I even told them what I was doing and how to reach me should his demeanor begin to change and he need to be picked up.

Famous last words ... Murphy bit me in the butt for the second day in a row.

I was home all morning cleaning the house and cooking dinner before I got into my car to drive over to the hair salon. And not more than five minutes before pulling into the parking lot my phone rang. I saw the number flash on the screen of my car. Grady's preschool. My heart sank.

The teacher was apologetic and knew that I was in a bind. However, Grady was now running a high fever, and he really needed to go home. I looked in the mirror at the orange racing stripes in my hair. I ran my hands through my course hair, imagining how soft it would feel in just a few hours. I knew if I canceled this appointment, it would be another week or two before I could get back in.

It was a tough decision. I told her I'd have to call her back in a few minutes.

I quickly called my mother in law and told her the entire story. Thankfully she was at her house and was able to go to the school to get Grady, first stopping by the hair salon to pick up the car seat and school gate keys. Whew!

All's well that ends well, right?

Well ... my hair appointment went only somewhat to plan. My uber gay colorist played the "guy" card and left his house with only his "selective" listening ears on. So instead of coloring my hair back to all brown with a few red highlights (to cover the faded red-to-orange highlights from last time), it's now predominantly red with a few brown highlights.


And then the appointment ran long. I was late picking up the girls from school, so I frantically texted my never-to-be-seen neighbor and asked her to bring the girls home.

Four and a half LONG hours later, I was done. I grabbed the girls, went to my in-laws to pick up the little sickie, and saw how miserable he really was. Fever. Runny nose. And drool. Lots and lots and lots of drool.

Calling Dr. Brown.

Long story long, it was very apparent that the little guy had a sore throat. With strep throat going around, I thought it was prudent to get in to see the doctor on Friday, rather than going to a walk-in-clinic over the weekend, or even worse, the ER.

Long story even longer. Little guy had all the signs of strep throat. The nurse gave him the twice over and based on her assessment said that she was absolutely sure of it.

Long story cut short. The test came back negative. We were off. Without antibiotics. Without a happy toddler. And thankfully, without any of my gray stress-hairs showing!

So let's recap the day .... Drop semi-sick baby off at school. Go to hair appointment and get call to pick up now really-sick baby. Have in-laws get sick baby while you replace orange racing stripes with red racing stripes. Spend a total of 4.5 hours at the salon. Go home, grab kids, go to the after hour doctors appointment and pay an additional $50 on top of your co-pay. Leave without any medication. Or sanity. Come home and put cranky-but-not-hungry baby to bed. Eat dinner with the kids. Play Yahtzee. Break up fight between one girl who won and one girl who didn't. Swear you're never going to play Yahtzee again if they can't be good sports. Throw little tushies in bed at a not-so-reasonable hour.

The finale? You pour yourself a large, much needed glass of wine. And smile.

Ahhhh... this IS the life. You only wish you lived in my village ...


Frankly There Isn't Anything More Disgusting ...

... than V.W.O.W.

That is ... Vomit Without Warning.

He didn't look sick at all. In fact, he was playing with the crayons at the Rainforest Cafe, and laughing with his sisters from the minute we walked in the door. He was drinking apple juice. He was eating his grilled cheese sandwiches. He was smiling.

But he became cranky rather quickly. He stopped eating. He started whining. His nose, which was already rather runny, became a fountain. He reached for me. He wailed for mommy. I did what I never do during mealtime ... I picked him up.

Grady immediately stopped crying. He was warm. He clearly had a fever. He turned around, faced me, and used my sweater as a tissue just before he laid his head down on my shoulder.

At that point I guess I should have seen it coming. I mean, it IS Murphy's Law that when you're wearing a white tank top and a brand new sweater from Banana Republic (that you thankfully got on sale during Black Friday), it's ONLY logical that you're going to get puked on. Without warning of course.

No gurgling sound to give me a heads up. No hiccup or tummy growing to let me know in advance that he'd be blowing chunks of kernel corn and partially regurgitated blueberries. Who had any idea that the fluorescent red slime would immediately cover my sweater, my pants, my purse, and go straight down my white tank top and into my bra.

I did what any self-respecting mother of three, who is more concerned about saving her sweater and tank top than cleaning up the rest of the vomit that is covering her sick son from head to toe would do ... I called for a rag, shed that sweater, lifted my tank top, and in plain view began pulling the chunks of gross-ness out of my bra. I even barked for some soda water ... to blot.

I then called out, "Check please".

Five minutes later we were in the car, rushing to get home. Because the worst part of it was about to begin... the smell of drying vomit on the lapel of my sweater that I had to breathe in for the twenty-five minute drive home.

There is a silver lining in all this disgusting-ness. The white tank top is already clean (thank you bleach), my sweater looks like it just may survive (we'll know as soon as the hand wash cycle is completed), and it's probably only a 24-hour bug and he'll be good as new tomorrow.

Oh yeah, and at least Grady doesn't have pink eye ... like me. Again.


It's The Small Tokens That Make It All Worth It ...

I received a package today in the mail. A decent sized manila envelope with a Virginia state return-address.

I knew this package would eventually arrive. Matt told me to look out for it several weeks ago.

However, there's no way to prepare yourself when you finally have it in your little hands ... how you'll feel ... the emotions it may spark.

I feel fairly confident in saying that we're making it through Matt's unaccompanied tour relatively unscathed. Although I'd be lying if I didn't admit that I have my moments. Occasions where I lose my cool. Situations where I wish I had a few more hands along with a little more patience. In all honesty, apart from the crappy rental house and longing for a permanent home (coming soon enough I know), this has been far easier than I had expected. Definitely lonely. But not gawd awful.

Nevertheless, today's little treat for the kids was a nice reminder that what we're doing for Matt's job, for the Department of State, for the larger picture, did not go unnoticed. That the families left behind while the spouse is on the unaccompanied tour are appreciated. That the kids are recognized ... rewarded ... and should be proud. And let's be real ... what kid doesn't like certificates and near-plastic medals??

Of course, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that the mementos did elicit one other emotion. For while I recognize that the separation isn't always difficult for me, it obviously is for the kids. And for that I am humbled.

If anything, these little tokens help make these next 6.5 months just a tad more palatable.

The girls made me photocopy their certificates to take in for "show & tell" tomorrow.
They wanted to take the real ones, but I put the kibosh on that before they could even get the sentence out of their mouths...


Out With The Old ... In With The New ...

We finished 2010 with a bang ... with our last week spent in Northern California with my family. The kids had fun hanging out with their uncles and grandparents while I managed to do a little solo retail therapy.

We also enjoyed the final days of the year with two of my dearest girlfriends. One had a play-date at her house, and the other had a play-date in San Francisco with her family ... ringing in her last big birthday before the "real" big birthday. Ice skating, hanging out at Pier 39, riding the cable cars, taking BART, and eating loads of junk food all made for a really great day.

As we finish our very first day of the new year, I am reminded of the wonderful things our family accomplished in 2010 ... and overjoyed with the new resolutions, new goals and new dreams that await us ALL in 2011.

Happy 1/1/11

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