Medical Care in a Less Foreign Land- Part 3

Answer: Watch TV shows you’d never watch at home; Eat junk food you’d never eat at home; and sit for hours in a hospital lobby just to access wifi.

Question: What are things you do when you have 3 weeks to burn on a military base with a kid recovering from surgery?


Also, rotate Tylenol and Motrin like clockwork, using the back of a memo announcing installation of wifi in your “hotel,” to record times and doses, and take an extra trip to the water fountain for filtered water because you spotted another adult there, who just might want to make conversation for five minutes!

Note: Said TV shows might, or might not, include Duck Dynasty and TMZ.

Note: The aforementioned memo stated that work on the wifi network would be complete on Friday… Last Friday. So why am I sitting in the hospital lobby to publish this post?

Thanks to G-d and modern medicine; Bob’s surgery was successful. He had a great team of a surgeon, anesthesiologist and nurses, who were all kind, supportive and helpful. He is now recovering as expected. The pain is present but tolerable. We now spend our days “chilling” in the Bachelor Officers’ Quarters and the hospital lobby.


As you can see in this picture that I took of the hospital from the back entrance to our lodging, the distance between the two buildings is pretty insignificant.  It takes about 5 minutes to walk.  Bob was labeled a “fall risk” and got a ride in a wheelchair, pushed by a young Corpsman, from the hospital, all the way to our room after surgery.


I’m struggling as much as I thought I would with being away from Horatio and the other boys. Of course I’m used to being away from Horatio, since he travels A LOT and has been gone on deployments for longer than I can count, but I’ve never been away from the boys for more than a few days and I don’t like it.

OK, I’m not going to lie, I don’t mind not having to do laundry for 4 other people and I don’t mind not having to cook dinners and pack school lunches, but I’d trade this “rest and relaxation” for the chores any day if it meant Bob felt better and we could be home, all together.  Doctor’s orders are to stay here for two weeks after surgery.  If you want to know why, use Dr. Google.  I won’t bore you, or gore you, with the details.

Horatio is doing a bang up job with all of the tasks at home, so I’m not worried about that aspect of things. I’m wondering, though, why our kind-hearted host government offered to take him and the boys out to dinner EVERY night while I’m gone; but when he’s gone, it’s “Erin who? What boys?”   Seriously, they offered! Respect to Horatio for turning them down. He’s been cooking up a storm, making good use of the grill we recently purchased from our beloved neighbors, when they packed up and shipped their household goods three weeks ago, in preparation for their move this summer. He’s also coming up with some creative menus and catering to the boys’ tastes. He even made a trip to Cotsco this morning to get more meat… something I rarely do since I haven’t eaten meat since I was 12 years old. I will not mention how long ago that was. I do cook meat for the family, just not often, or as well, as Horatio does it.

So, here we sit, in the hospital lobby, of course, using the wifi. Soon, we will head back to the room for dinner, which will consist of something soft for poor Bob and something simple for me.


Bob in Recovery

Bob, the second day following surgery... Known to be the worst day... Yep!

Bob, the second day following surgery… Known to be the worst day… Yep!


On the mend, with meds on board...

On the mend today, with meds on board…

We are both relieved to be in the after part of the surgery and are eager for Bob’s pain to subside. We see the doc again in 11 days and if all is well, we will fly home in 13 days. After that, there will be just one more month of school and then, like nearly every other US expat, we will fly the coop for the whole summer! (More on that later.)


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Casting Call for Military Families!


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Medical Care in a Foreign Land… Update

After seeing 4 specialists, and 2 family doctors, and getting no answers as to why young Bob has had a sore throat for going on 6 months, we are being medevaced to a US Military hospital.


Most likely, Bob will have to have his tonsils removed.  If the first doc we saw here had suggested it, we would have done the surgery here.  Sadly, the medical care does not follow the same philosophy as US medical care.  The Taiwan medical system seems to prefer a “wait and see” approach.  I’ve lost any faith I had in the local medical system.  I think 6 months is too long.  To hear a doctor, at a well respected hospital here, say Bob’s tonsils look fine, and maybe he just swallowed something sharp, like a fishbone, does not instil confidence.  I can see that the tonsils do not look “fine” and I have no medical training, whatsoever.  (Of course that doesn’t stop me from having an opinion about pretty much every medical situation.)

Medevacing is complicated.  We first had to get a recommendation from the primary doctor (no problem.)  Next, our medical insurance had to approve the idea.  Now, we have to make all of the travel and accommodation reservations and the military system does not make that easy.  Horatio has tried for a cumulative time of at least three hours to get us into the defense travel system, to no avail.  All official DoD requirements on the net are complicated.  Then, the time difference between here and DC make it so that if there is a problem, it’s an entire day before we can get guidance from DC!  Hopefully, we can get the paperwork worked out before we have to travel 3 weeks from now.


If Bob does have to have surgery of any kinds, we will be required to stay on location for two weeks post-op, meaning we will be away from home for close to three weeks.

These are the things that keep me up at night.


I try to look at the silver lining, though:  Quality time with just ONE of my four boys, and lots of shopping at the PX and commissary so we can bring home lots of US products upon our return.

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Fitness Nutrition Delivered Monthly

The founders of Fit Snack contacted me to ask if I’d like to try their product.  I am working out a lot and feel healthy, so I’d like to stay that way.  Fit Snack seemed like a good fit with what I stand for, so I happily agreed.

Fit Snack - ExplodingBox - withLogo

As my regular readers know, I love getting packages.  Mail is very hit or miss using our “special” mail system, so sometimes it feels like birthday/Chanukah/Christmas around here.  I was very excited to receive my first Fit Snack box and to see what is inside.

Fit Snack’s criteria is based on what we call “The Perfect 10″: High Protein | Complex Carbs | Low Sugar | GMO-Free | Paleo | Gluten Free | Clean Eating | Sustainable | Organic | Raw.

The box is the size of a large shoe box and it is packed side to side and top to bottom with healthy snacks.  Some are full of protein, some are naturally gluten free, some are dairy free, but they are all delicious!  I especially like, and was immediately hooked on an energy bite included the box.  It is now a part of my routine when I want to push myself on my morning run.

I highly recommend subscribing to Fit Snack.  It would also make a great gift for your military member loved ones and friends who are far from home.

what-in-a-box-imageIf you subscribe now, for certain subscriptions, you can get a free gift.


If you are eating healthy, or want to start doing so, Fit Snack is a great way to try new things and feed your fit lifestyle.

Fit Snack provided the product for me, but all opinions are my own.

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Do You Have a Battle Plan for Transition?

By Jen Pilcher Founder and leader of

From The Going Civilian Blog (From | ‎03-03-2015 07:30 AM



There is one guarantee about getting into the military, eventually you will have to get out.  Whether you are retiring, choosing to start a new career, or forced out due to sequestration, transition at some point is inevitable.

As you know, finding a job is a lot of hard work.  However, we can help relieve some of your stress.

Here are 5 steps to complete your battle plan for your transition.

• Resume Building with an Expert – Timeline: at least 6 months before transition. I firmly believe this is a time to bring in the “special ops team”… you need to seek professional resume services. Visit your local family support center on board your nearest installation for resume workshop classes and help from one of their employment readiness experts. Search for a company or organization that specializes in preparing resumes for the transitioning military and veteran population. Active duty members are required to attend TAP – Transition Assistance Program – and they will help you with resume preparation, however it is a general overview. Many military friendly organizations that help with resume prep are free; it’s a benefit included as being a member of their organization (MOAA). Always ask the organization if you will have to pay out of pocket. Whatever you decide, just make sure you have someone who can evaluate, proof read and edit.

• Maximize LinkedIn® – Timeline: at least 6 months from transition. Your professional profile is now just as important, if not more important, than your resume. You must have a clear image – it does not need to be a professional head shot, but please no, sunglasses, hat, or shirt off and don’t stand 500 feet away – this is a professional site. Recruiters are now going directly to your LinkedIn profile as soon as they receive your name and/or resume. Make sure this is filled out completely before you submit your resume or give a contact your business card.  Start building your LinkedIn profile now, well in advance of transition. Active duty members and Veterans can also receive a free LinkedIn upgrade services for a year.


• Professional Business cards – Timeline: at least 3 months from transition. I’m sure you are saying, “what business card – I am not even employed yet?”  Well, this is the way the networking world works, so you need a business card with your contact information. Go on-line to a site that prints professional business cards. has many designs; you can even select a patriotic type card and have your name, contact phone number, your LinkedIn profile link and a personalized email address FirstName.LastName@gmail.com

• Clothes Shopping –Timeline: 3-6 months out. As they say, you only get one first impression. It’s time to get rid of the suit that was created before 2012, trust me the gold buttons and wide lapels are a dead giveaway. You need to take the time to get fitted and invest in a new suit. Many of the men’s stores like Jos. A Bank offer military discounts and for women, you can find a great sale at Macy’s and other department stores to purchase a new suit.


 Hiring Fairs – Timeline: 3-6 months out. USAA and MilitaryOneClick® have teamed up with the US Chamber of Commerce Hiring Our Heroes Program® and they provide career fairs across the country.  Both USAA and MilitaryOneClick also serve on the Veteran and Military Spouse Employment Councils working with the best companies developing strategies to hire you!  Find and event near you and attend!

Your battle plan for transition is now ready – create your resume, fill out your LinkedIn profile, purchase business cards, buy a new suit, search for hiring fairs near you, and get ready to find your new career. We hope to see you out there networking!
Have something to add to this story? Share your insights below!

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Suddenly a Minority in the World of Anonymous Cyber Bullying

Any time we move to a new place, it takes time to find our way.  What I mean by this is making friends is a lot like dating.  Sometimes you know right away if you click with someone, while other times it takes a while for you to figure it out.

When we had kids in preschool, making friends was easier because the pool to draw from was bigger.  Now, with kids in grades 1, 5, 8 and 11, meeting people at school is harder for me and it is also especially hard for our 8th and 11th grade sons.  By middle school and high school, friendship circles are fully formed, and breaking in is not easy.

One thing I am finding that is different about the community in which we have been for going on eight months, is where you are from, what you do, who you know, and how much money you have, matters to some groups here more than I’ve ever seen; and the phenomenon does not end with the parents.  (I must be clear that this does not apply to everyone and I’ve founds some great people/friends here.)

In the elementary school the divide does not seem to extend to the kids.  Bob is the only visibly Western kid in his class, but he is fully accepted as one of the group.  His closest friends are in other classes, but there is no animosity amongst any of the kids.  It’s a sweet group.  Harold has the most diverse class of any of our kids.  There are at least six countries represented in his class of 19 first graders.

Middle school is an awful place pretty much anywhere you go, but I haven’t seen blatant racism like I’ve seen here, since I was in 1st grade and I heard one of my classmates repeating horribly offensive things about other races and religions.  I was shocked by it then but I was stunned and sickened when it happened to my own child a few months ago.

I’m only now ready to write about it with a relatively level head, since my child, the target, is happily settled and has a few very good, trustworthy, loyal friends.

Parents of teens are likely aware of an app called “”  If you haven’t heard of it, ask your child about it and be sure to keep an eye out for mood swings caused by this dreadful social network.  For those who don’t know, is a social media site that allows users to anonymously ask questions of other users.  As of late, though, I have learned that people also use it as a cowardly way of cyber bullying other kids.  They can be as cruel as they like, and no one knows who is behind the words.

I am grateful that I have a very open relationship with my boys, and that Dwight felt comfortable enough to show me a message that was sent to him via  He texted a screen shot of the post soon after he received it.  My heart dropped into my stomach when I read it:

blogI know that the sentiment does not represent the feelings of the majority of people at the school, but I cannot say it didn’t set a giant chip on my shoulder for a good length of time.

This incident happened back in November.  I let the administration know about it and they banned the app from the school during their internet safety seminar to the middle schoolers in January.  Of course that was completely ineffective because it is absolutely unenforceable.  The middle schoolers are forbidden from using mobile phones during school hours, thankfully.  They cannot even use them during lunch or free periods, but, as any parent of teens knows, social media is ever present in our kids’ lives.

The only way I see to combat the negative effects is to make sure our kids know they can tell us anything and that we will be open and not judge them, and then help them come up with a solution without us telling them what to do.  If we give our kids the chance to come up with a way to solve their problems, they learn an important skill that will serve them well into their future.  Jumping in to fix things for our children is a temporary fix and can do more harm than good by making them think they can’t fix them on their own.

Dwight is in a small elective class of about 18 kids.  He’s the only American in the class and while kids can choose to sit anywhere, there is one desk empty in every direction from his desk every day.  He has a good sense of humor about it; he tries to throw off the other kids by changing where he sits sometimes, but the other kids don’t change their ways.  He comes home from school on the days he has this class and tells me how it went.  He laughs, but I can see it bothers him.

I know it is a good lesson; he clearly sees what it is like to be a minority.  But he was already a kindhearted, empathetic child, and endured religion based bullying back in the U.S., so this is not a lesson he needed to learn… again.  What it has done, is make his friendships with his two closest friends stronger very quickly.  They have friends from many different ethnic, religious and financial backgrounds, to be sure, but they are guarded with people they don’t know well.

Middle school is a minefield wherever it is in the world.  If it wasn’t this complication, it would be something else, I am sure.  I am eager to see how it turns out next year, when he enters high school and his next younger brother enters the middle school battleground.


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Vote From Overseas!

The Federal Voting Assistance Program, FVAP, makes it easy to maintain active participation in the democratic process back home while we live abroad. As U.S citizens, despite living overseas, it is our responsibility to vote. I, personally, cannot imagine not voting, especially since we actively serve The United States of America, voting gives us a stake in the game.

Voting overseas is a very simple process. Just complete the Federal Post Card Application (FPCA). This form acts as both a registration and absentee ballot request form. To ensure that your ballot is received in time for each election, it is recommended that you complete a new FPCA annually whenever your mailing address changes or at least 90 days prior to the election your voting in.

FVAP is the Federal Voting Assistance Program, and on their website you will find everything you need to fill out the FPCA.

Follow these 4 simple steps and you will be ready to rock your vote no matter where you are in the world!

1) Go to the FVAP website for Absentee Voting
2) Select your State or territory of legal residence – here you will find all the information you need to vote absentee according to your State.
3) At the bottom of the webpage you will find a link to download the fillable FPCA
4) Remember! You must print the form, sign it, and send it to your State according to your State’s rules.

FVAP, is a nonpartisan Department of Defense component, works to ensure Service members, their eligible family members and overseas citizens are aware of their right to vote, and have the tools and resources to successfully do so – from anywhere in the world.
I am a voluntary member of FVAP’s Blogger Network and am not compensated for my posts. The thoughts presented here are my own and do not reflect the opinions of FVAP or any of its representatives.

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Organic Rosehip Oil Is Great


As a 40 something woman, I love to find products that keep my skin soft looking young.  I’ve used Valentia products in the past and really liked them, so I was glad to have the opportunity to try the 100% Organic Rosehip Oil to review.

Again, Valentia came through with a fantastic product.  My skin has been soft and smooth and looking fresher than ever while since I started using the Rosehip Oil from Valentia.  It absorbs very quickly and while the scent is not floral, in my opinion, it isn’t bad, as some other reviewers have stated.  If the scent bothers you, you can easily add an essential oil of your choice.  The rosehip oil can be used on its own or with other moisturizers and I find it makes my skin look and feel great all on its own.  I live in a very humid climate but have had no trouble, whatsoever, with oily skin while using this product.

I highly recommend the 100% Organic Rosehip Oil from Valentia, for soft, smooth skin.

I received a bottle of the product from the company to try and review, but the opinions are my own.

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Vaccine Debate Over: Vaccines Save Lives

The title of this piece seems to state the obvious, right?  So why are the numbers of anti-vaxxers increasing?

Fear.  Misguided fear, but fear nonetheless.


From the CDC

There is no dispute over the fact that vaccines save lives.  The inoculations developed and used over the past 40+ years had practically eradicated life altering, disfiguring and often fatal, diseases.  Some kids cannot get vaccinated, the herd immunity effect helps to protect those kids, as well as those for whom the vaccine was not effective.  So why, in recent years, have the numbers of parents who vaccinate their kids dropped?


Because anti-vaxxers think the risk of getting one of these now rare diseases outweighs the risk of having their child be injured by the shot meant to keep the illnesses at bay.  I see their point.  I’ve met families with kids who had terrible reactions and are permanently, severely, disabled.  These tragedies are rare, but tell that to a family affected by one of these occurrences and you’ll get a big reaction.  I often hear people trying to help parts of the community, saying, “If I save one life because of my actions, it will be worth it.”  So, how do you tell a family whose once healthy child is forever maimed that their one child is less significant than another? You can’t.

The fear of vaccines, though, does not seem to be about these rare events.  The idea that vaccines “cause” autism is still real amongst many communities and I hear this quoted as a reason to not vaccinate.

I am the mother of a child affected by autism.  While this does not, in any way, make me an expert in the vax or anti-vax world, I do feel it gives me a bit of credibility in speaking to the issue.

Many elements of this debate upset me.  I love my autistic son.  I loved him before his brain started making some things harder for him and I love him just as much now; but when I hear other autism parents say that they wouldn’t change their kid if they had the chance, or that they believe their child is exactly who he/she was meant to be, my heart flips.  I don’t get it.  Why would anyone want their child to struggle if they could prevent it?  I repeat, I love my autistic son as much today as the day he was born, and I adore the person he has become at age 16, but if there was any way at all that I could make his life easier for him, I would… without hesitation.

But, I don’t know what causes autism.  Do you?  I don’t know what doesn’t cause autism, either, and that, I think, is the more important part of this debate.  Speculation is wide spread and conflicting.

Do toxins cause autism? Is it genetic?  Is it a reaction in the gut that starts the process?  Is it injury during labor and delivery?  Does a change take place in the womb?

I’ll say it again, because my biggest peeve related this issue is when I hear people say that X (fill in blank) does not cause autism.  The fact is, we don’t know what causes it.

Good scientific research indicates that autism may be caused by a mix of genetic and environmental factors.  This makes sense to me, but the details are not clear.

So, how do I reconcile all of these conflicting forces of thought?

I 100% vaccinate my children in order to inoculate them against the harmful diseases the vaccinations protect us from, but I do not subject my children to more than one injection at each doctor’s visit.  There is no dispute that vaccines cause changes to our children’s bodies.  That’s the point.  What we don’t understand, though, is could there be unwanted effects if the immune systems of some more fragile kids are bombarded with too many toxins at a time?  Do the toxins build up in some children’s bodies?  It’s a tough question that is yet to be answered.

The cost of the extra, vaccine only, office visit is worth the peace of mind I get from taking a bit of precaution when it comes to the well being of my children.  My eldest son was vaccinated on the regular schedule, but my other three, born after their older brother stopped talking at the age of 13 months, had a more conservative vaccine schedule, slightly spread out, but close to on-time; and all were fully vaccinated by the time they entered school.


I hear the chatter on tv, online and in the papers.  I know there are strong opinions on both sides of this public health issue.  I know my path is different than most, but in my opinion, it was the right way to go for our family.  And, other than the scientific fact that vaccines help to prevent the spread of many terrible diseases, there are not facts to say what does, or does not, cause changes in our kids, only speculation and circumstantial anecdotes.

I’m ok with that for now.  I know that people, who are smarter than I, are scientifically studying autism and might figure it out some day.

I’m not ok with other people thinking that not vaccinating their kid at all, in order to prevent a possible consequence, is ok.  Anti-vaxxers are counting on my kids and others to shield their kids from exposure via herd immunity.  It doesn’t work when more and more people are going un-vaccinated, and the tactic is leading to illness and death from preventable illnesses.

This is an undisputed scientific fact.

The rest is pure speculation.

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Delicious Valentine Craft and Treat

This is a fun activity to do on a cold or rainy day.  Colors can be modified for any holiday.  Kids of practically every age can get involved in making this fun treat.



These treats are salty and sweet and make delicious and cute Valentine treats to share and enjoy. Enlist the help of your kids.

What you’ll need

  • Bite-size, knot pretzels (they look a bit like hearts)
  • Hershey’s Kisses (you choose your favorite type)
  • M&M’s candy (valentines colors or other to suit the season)

How to make magic happen

  1. Heat the oven to 200 F. Set bite-size, twisted knot pretzels (one for each treat) in a single layer on a cookie sheet lined with foil or parchment paper, then top each pretzel with an unwrapped Hershey’s Kiss.
  2. Bake for 4 to 6 minutes until the chocolate looks shiny but retains its shape.  Kisses will feel soft when touched with a wooden spoon. Remove the cookie sheet from the oven and quickly press an M&M’s candy into the center of each Kiss.
  3. Allow the treats to cool for a few minutes, then place them in the refrigerator to set, about 15 minutes. Enjoy and Share! 


    We made half with classic milk chocolate kisses and milk chocolate M&Ms and half with dark chocolate kisses and dark chocolate M&Ms.  100% Delicious!


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