Thursday, January 29, 2009

my week with salmonella, or, wash your hands!

I went grocery shopping on Monday morning of last week. They were completely, 100% out of packs of chicken breast. No regular packs, no family packs; no thin-sliced, no regular; no name-brand, no generic brand. Nothing. So I picked up a whole roaster. It was wrapped in plastic, but I dropped it into a plastic baggie anyway, to be safe.

I brought it home and put it in the fridge. There was no room on the bottom shelf, so I put it on the top shelf, on top of a very large gladware container.

On Friday morning, I picked up the double-wrapped-in-plastic chicken to put it in the slow-cooker. And it was dripping, sitting in a little puddle. I don't know if it had dripped on something else in the fridge, or if it was just that I hadn't washed my hands after I picked it up at some point; but I suddenly knew exactly how I had gotten sick. (Actually what I think happened is that I picked it up from the cart to put it on the register belt, and then opened a Frappuccino and probably touched the top of the bottle before I started drinking it. Because I'm usually fairly obsessive with the hand sanitizer, but it had never occurred to me to use it after unloading my groceries from the cart.)

I had been sick since Monday night. Very, very sick. Brian and I started out with similar symptoms - kind of woozy and lightheaded, with weird tingly feelings in our backs - you know how when someone is giving you a backrub, and they get a particularly sensitive spot, and your back kind of involuntarily tenses up, and a kind of electric shock radiates out from that spot? That was exactly what it felt like, except it was happening for no reason. We both spent all day Tuesday trying not to pass out. But then our symptoms started diverging. He got what seemed to be a really nasty head cold, and I got what seemed to be more of the intestinal aspect of the flu. At one point on Wednesday afternoon, I had pains in my stomach so intense that I was literally screaming in pain.

It wasn't until maybe Thursday that I finally realized that nobody else in the house was going to get what I had. That it wasn't the flu at all, that it was food poisoning. I started trying to remember what I had eaten on Sunday and Monday that nobody else had. Popeye's mashed potatoes. A vanilla Frappuccino. Reese's Whipps. Cherry Cordials. A Hormel chicken & dumplings meal.

I started wondering about the peanut butter recall. The only thing with peanut butter in it that I had eaten, whose manufacturer hadn't come out and specifically stated they weren't affected, was a granola bar that I'd eaten at around 4:30 am on Tuesday morning. But I'd already started having symptoms before that, and they really kicked into high gear about 2 hours later - too fast for salmonella to work its magic - and Brandon had eaten one later on Tuesday morning as well. And he, blessedly, was completely fine. (Jack, of course, was pretty cranky all week, nursing almost constantly and following me around screaming. I was severely dehydrated and my milk production was obviously suffering. He has a touch of the cold this week, but he's otherwise fine.)

It wasn't until Friday that I realized that the chicken was the culprit. I felt well enough to leave the house on Saturday. I'm still not eating full meals, and the pendulum keeps swinging back and forth; I'm still waiting to get back into equilibrium. You can't be as sick as I was and just instantly go back to normal. It takes a while.

So that's why I haven't posted in a while. I was lying on the couch, moaning, for about a week. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go refill the bottle of hand sanitizer that I keep attached to my keychain.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Japan Made Terrifying

Shortly after we found out we were moving to Japan, Brian bought a book called Japan Made Easy. I started reading it last week, a little at a time, and I have to say, it scared the crap out of me. The things I was reading made me less and less excited to even GO to Japan, let alone LIVE there. I can't drive because I won't be able to read the street signs, and if somebody cuts me off and I hit them, it's my fault because "they were there first". I can't use public transportation because I'll get groped by a dirty old man on the train and trampled on the platform. I can't go anywhere, really, because it's impossible to find anything, because the streets have no names. Really.

Then I got to the section on "things you should do in Japan" and it started seeming somewhat more appealing. Cherry blossom viewing, snow festivals, tea ceremonies. I suddenly realized, however, that there was absolutely no mention of the Olympic venues in Nagano. And then I started thinking, and realized that there was also no mention of Avian flu, cell phone rentals, or using GPS to find your way around. And that's when I checked the information at the front of the book.

It was published in 1995. Only slightly out of date.

I'm sure that the street signs will still be unintelligible to me ("At least on Sesame Street I knew the alphabet!" - Big Bird in Japan) and the rules of the road are undoubtedly the same, but suddenly all of the information about the "current state of the culture" in this book is thrown into doubt. I mean, it was written 14 years ago! Sheesh. How can a book filled with information for tourists still be on shelves 13 years after it was written?

I guess I'll be looking for some more recent books!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Brandon's been asking to watch Spiderman a lot lately

Brian: "It's weird, I'm not really doing anything different, but all of a sudden I'm getting more muscle definition."
Me: "Me too! I'm not really doing a good job sticking to my diet*, but I'm getting smaller."
Me: "Do you think we were bitten by radioactive spiders?"
Brian: "Hah! I wish."

*Not really a diet, more of a long-term habit modification plan. Step one: less snacking between meals when I'm not even hungry. Step two: eat less cheese (seriously). Step three: less sugar (this is the hard one! I'm going to go ahead and classify chocolate as an addictive substance.)

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

i feel like a superhero...

...fighting injustice using my superpower of reporting it to the proper authorities. It may not seem like much, but it just seems like sometimes nobody else is willing to do it. And that's one of my quirks: I'm shy as a mofo, but when somebody is being an ass and everyone else is too afraid to call them on it, I can't help myself. It's gotten me into some awkward situations - like the guy in high school who threatened me with a chair (on my birthday, no less) because I told him where he could shove it. But sometimes this little compulsion comes in handy.

I've bitched extensively about the Commissary before. It's mighty suspicious when somebody buys 10 packs of green tea soda or 12 bottles of white grape/peach juice (especially when they do it immediately before the price shoots up - hmmmm), but I guess I have to give them the benefit of the doubt. I mean, I don't know how much of this stuff they really go through. They could have 10 kids. They could go grocery shopping once a month, or even less. 10 gallons of milk is a little more suspicious, and quite honestly, baffling. How are you going to use up all of that milk before it goes bad? But again, maybe they have 10 kids. I don't know.

But today. Today I saw a woman unloading her cart, which consisted of maybe four boxes of cookie mix, 6 huge tubs of Crisco (3 each of regular and butter flavor) and - I wish I was exaggerating - AT LEAST 20 bags of flour. At least. I mean, the entire belt was covered with 10-pound bags of flour, and there were still several in her cart.

My first reaction was to turn to the people around me in line and ask, "Does this bother anybody else?" Of course it did. I mean, really. The woman in front of me agreed that she, too, has at least 3 or 4 items EVERY WEEK that she is not able to buy because they're all bought up. So when a manager happened to walk past me about 30 seconds later, I said, "Excuse me, is it really okay for somebody to buy so many of one thing?"

I got the answer I was expecting, because it's the same answer I've gotten before: they're aware of the problem, it's been brought to their attention before, they wish there was something they could do about it, but they can't. There's no item limit. I said thank you and started composing my letter to DeCA in my head. "I am begging you, PLEASE instate a limit. Or at the very least, please empower your employees to refuse to ring up OBVIOUS abuse of the Commissary benefit, such as what I witnessed today."

I was getting my coupons together and still finessing my complaint letter in my head, when the manager came back to talk to me again. I didn't totally understand what she was saying, because she had an accent, but it was something to the effect of, Thank you for bringing it to our attention, it's really NOT okay for someone to buy THAT many of one item.

Well, duh. I can think of several reasons why somebody would be buying 200+ pounds of all-purpose flour at one time (reselling, running a business, redistributing to a co-op - this is my guess), and all of them are blatant violations of Commissary regulations.

So, HAH! Lady who was trying to buy up all of the white man's flour and give it to everyone in your non-military neighborhood, I'm on to you. And I STOPPED YOU. The war may very well be unwinnable, but I won this battle. Until we meet again...just know that I am WATCHING YOU.

Sunday, January 11, 2009


Target is coming soooooon....and check out the "only in Hawaii" products!

I am totally buying those kiddie t-shirts. All of them. (Well maybe not the pink and purple ones...)

I will have about a month and a half from the time Target opens (so close to my house! I'LL BE ABLE TO WALK THERE!!!!) and when we move into the hotel. I have every intention of buying plenty of new clothing for myself during that time. Which means that I have 57 days to lose the rest of the baby weight. I think I can do it if I try. Because, you know, up until about a week ago, I really wasn't trying.

it's better this time, but it feels just as bad

I remember this feeling. You start sleeping a little bit better - just a little - and your body thinks, "Oh! Are we getting sleep now? Awesome! Let's sleep!" And you end up even more tired than when you were barely sleeping at all.

I sense another TravHell story on the horizon...

This is what the day of our move (April 30-May 1) is looking like:

Pack up the rental car and check out of the hotel (we will be at the Hale Koa in Waikiki for about a week before we leave). Brian drops me, the kids and our massive amounts of luggage (everything we will need/have until we get our household goods shipment 2-3 months later) off at the airport extra early, goes to return the rental car, and takes the shuttle back to the airport. Our plane takes off at five minutes past noon. (Fantastic.) The flight is 8 1/2 hours. We land in Tokyo, go through customs, get our luggage, and take a shuttle from terminal 2 to terminal 1. Two hours after our flight lands, we get on a shuttle bus to the Navy base. The ride takes two hours. We will be dropped off at the Navy Lodge sometime around 7:30pm local time, which will feel like 2:30am to us. Then we get to wait in line with everyone else who was on the shuttle bus in order to check in. Did I mention that we'll have a three-year-old and a one-year-old with us?

We have an iPod external battery pack. But we have three iPods*, so I'm gonna have to buy two more. Because that's 12.5 hours from take-off to check-in at the hotel, not even counting the time at the airport before we get on the plane. And, uh, I'm thinking that there won't be much sleep going on. Because my kids are funny like that.

*(Brian got a new iPod for Christmas because he ran out of room on his and wants to be able to bring all of his music and massive amounts of movies with him when he goes on the ship. So his old one defaulted to Brandon. He calls it his "wah-pod". He mostly uses it to watch monster truck videos.)

ETA: The shuttle to the base, it seems, does not have carseats available to borrow. So. We either use the CARES harnesses like we were planning to, check the carseats and pay the additional baggage fees (upwards of $200 per extra item!) or we spend 8.5 hours smushed against them on the plane. $#%@^&^%@#&^$ I'm thinking we'll be trying to tetris both carseats together into one bag.

Friday, January 9, 2009

in other words: grow up

I'm getting just a little bit tired of people hiding behind "free speech" in order to feel justified in saying hurtful or hateful things. Freedom of speech means that you can say anything you want without getting in trouble with the law for saying it. It does NOT free you from your MORAL obligation to be a decent person who thinks before they speak and takes other people's feelings into consideration. Got it? Good.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

I'm 99% certain that he was only pretending to be afraid

Brandon (getting out of the tub): "Mommy, I scared."
Me: "You're scared? Of what?"
Brandon (pointing at a box of Mr Clean Magic Erasers): "That big guy, right there."
Me: "Mr. Clean?"
Brandon: "Yeah!"

Brian has pointed out that I obviously don't clean enough, if my kids are afraid of Mr Clean. I think that maybe he's right.

hey! I found something else to be outraged about!

So it turns out that excess copper levels are linked to post-partum depression. Uhhhh...wouldn't this be a good piece of information to give to new mothers BEFORE you put a piece of copper in their uterus? I read the entire damn brochure and there was absolutely no mention of this.