Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Swiper NO SWIPING (stop yelling too)

It is no secret to anyone who knows me that I have a broken volume control.  Not only does my volume knob go to 11, 11 is as loud as 15, and the volume knob is broken.

My issue with all the abuse I take regarding my facilities for volumetric speaking is that I am NOT LOUD.

I project.

Projecting is good.  Nobody ever leans into me and says “I couldn’t hear you, can you repeat that?”. 

I have taken a great deal of flak over the years from parents, girlfriends, and my wife over this.  The fact is I am blacklisted from libraries nationwide.  I could not even start to make this up.  I think everyone is just confused about the difference between being loud and projecting.

Now the kids are getting into the act.

Just this morning I was watching Dora the Explorer with my kids.  If you haven’t watched it before you need to be aware that the point is that when Dora speaks certain items you are SUPPOSED to YELL back at the TV. It’s intentional madness.

The fox tries to steal something and Dora yells “Swiper NO SWIPING” and all three of us yell  “Swiper NO SWIPING” (because you KNOW if you yell back loudly enough the TV character will stop whatever he is doing).

It appears insane, and I fit right in.  It takes no effort at all for me to talk loudly to the television.  Emily and I PROJECT at the TV regularly and usually without interuption during Dora, but this morning Braedyn let me have it.

Braedyn with furrowed brow: “DADDY, can you STOP?”

Me: “Why?”

Braedyn doing his best Elvis Presley crooked mouth: “Because I can’t hear it.  Your voice is too HUGE!”

Sure, you can hear me now.  Maybe next time when Dora yells “Swiper NO SWIPING” I should follow up with “CLEAN YOUR ROOM!” or “GET ME MY WINE!” although at 8am that’s probably not ok.

On second thought…

Freezing your VW Off


Poor Stella.

I bet she thought she was going to get special treatment.  Appears when the weatherman says 6° and snow I should listen and put you in the garage.  Now you must sit till the weather warms up enough to unfreeze you.

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Saturday, December 5, 2009

Leave a Legacy of Tolerance and Kindness

The Marriage Bill is our generation’s chance to change society’s injustice. The late 1800’s saw the addition of the Fifteenth Amendment to the constitution, giving people of color the right to vote. The early 1900’s saw women finally get the right to vote with the addition of the Nineteenth Amendment. People need to stop the injustice and discrimination against same-sex marriage, and let their children, and their children’s children know that they were part of the change. Now. Seriously, our grandchildren’s grandchildren are going to look back at this time and wonder what the hell the big deal was.

When thinking back to the women’s suffrage movement or the civil rights movement, I believe that the people who were against it back then were a bunch of ignorant and racist jerks. I think the same type of sentiment will be held in the future for those against the marriage bill today. It’s time to stand up against this injustice and leave a legacy of tolerance, kindness, and acceptance to our children.

Senator Diane Savino really did a great job standing up for the Marriage Bill. She’s leaving a positive legacy. Shouldn’t you?

Friday, November 27, 2009

Stella's Secret Storage


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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Move It! Move It! Move It! And Now….. wait.

Yes, that is the story of our up and coming trip to China. Over the last 5 weeks or so, Greg and I have been running all over the place – getting passport photos for everyone, figuring out Visa details, dealing with unhelpful passport people with no access to a copy machine, getting vaccines, scheduling doctor’s appointments, figuring out who will stay at our house and watch our zoo, buying home schooling materials, organizing a “going away” party, figuring out what to do about Festivus, etc. – because last week, our “goal” date for China was December 15. This week? We found out that we aren’t going until February. And instead of being a six month trip, it will only be for three months. And what am I doing?

I am breathing a BIG ASS sigh of relief!

Not that we weren’t willing, able, and ready to go for six months, but this really solves soooooooo many issues for us. Braedyn will only miss two - maybe two and half months - of school, Emily will be able to get her four-year vaccines before we go, and we can spend Christmas at home.

See, we love Festivus and weren’t sure how we were going to handle it this year. We had started to pen a letter to Santa, pleading with him to come to our house for an early Christmas this year, and we are pretty sure he would have obliged given the situation, but now we can toss that into our recycle bin. Problem averted. I mean, can you imagine Santa in a foreign country, completely jet-lagged, a week before Christmas, and trying to bargain on toy prices with people who don’t speak English or reindeer? No, me neither.

Prior to yesterday’s news of a delay, Greg was singing songs and dancing jigs of joy because he was thrilled not to have to hang Festivus lights this year. Well, babe, I’ve got news for you. I found where you hid the ladder. Good try.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Oh I Am Gonna Blow

Not many words are needed to describe this, but just watching this makes me want to lose my breakfast, lunch AND dinner!

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Charmin Likes A Little Fantasy Play

If only she could pay her own way using feather boas at a burlesque show.  Probably not gonna happen though.

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Don’t bother asking what the boas are actually for.  We are all adults here and you already know. I can say I don’t think we will be using them after the dog has been sleeping on them.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

I Can’t See Your Eye for that Mouth of Yours

Braedyn’s 6th birthday proved to be an interesting roller coaster of ups and downs.

First, both Greg and I volunteered in his Kindergarten classroom, which he felt was quite a treat. BUT, he had a sub in his class, so he didn’t get all the usual birthday perks that his teacher usually provided birthday boys and girls. He took it in stride and enjoyed getting to hand out cookies to all the kids in the class as a way to celebrate his day. The best part about that was the cookies we brought turned all the kids’ lips and teeth black. It would have been chillingly zombie-like if it hadn’t been so dang cute.

Not really thinking, I had scheduled his 6-year wellness visit at the pediatrician’s on his birthday. Bad, mommy. Bad. However, the saving grace was he didn’t need any shots (not until the trip we’re all taking in a couple of weeks to get whatever it is we need for China). Greg suggested to Braedyn that “maybe Mommy will get you a treat after the doctor’s office.” Bad, daddy. Bad. Greg was thinking a little food treat, but Braedyn heard “treat” and instantly set his mind on a toy. And when I say “set his mind”, I mean the idea of a toy was like a snare catching a big, bad ass animal and not letting go. Since it was his birthday, I decided, against my better judgment, to take him to to a big, horrible, mega-store and let him pick out something less than $5.

Sigh.

Everything he wanted was of course more than $5, but I had drawn the line in the sand and I wasn’t wavering in my resolve. In fact, we talked about how he needed to find something that had a price starting with a 5 and then a period. It was a good life lesson, right? Well, I let him mull it over and look up and down the aisles… Look up and down the aisles and mull it over… *yawn* There was a complaint here and there about how he wanted things that were over $5, but I let them slide. It was his birthday after all. So, after an HOUR of this mulling and looking, I told him he had 5 minutes to decide. Tears. I calmly explained to him that this was supposed to be a small treat for being good at the doctor’s office and not a birthday present. I also explained to him that his aunts and uncles were looking for ideas of what to get him, so we could make a list of the toys he would like. With the 2 minute warning, I got screams. When I told him he had to pick, he told me I was mean because he wanted toys that were over $5.

*snap* <----- That would be the sound of the straw breaking the camel’s back.

I then told him CALMLY that we were leaving without anything, that he no longer was going to get a toy because his behavior was unacceptable. I’m certain people on the other side of the mega-square-foot store could hear the shriek that came from my son at that moment. Since I had already picked out a couple of other necessities from the evil, mega-corp, I still had go through the check out - with a tantruming 6 year old. I was wishing for a hot poker to the eye instead, but since I had no such luck, I had to endure. The woman ahead of us was telling the checker “that she’s never had any, and for that she was glad.” Kids. I’m sure she meant kids. Then another woman came up to me and put her arm around me and said, “You are doing a great job.” I’m fairly certain she meant that and wasn’t just being sarcastic. I think.

Since he still hadn’t let go of the $5 toy he grabbed when I told him time was up, I had to tell him we were not leaving the store with the toy. It was time to put it down. A young employee of the nefarious, mega-corp was trying to help me by telling Braedyn that if he left with the toy, the alarms would sound and he’d be arrested. Apparently that was enough for the iron grip to release. Then the employee offered him a piece of candy. I was thinking, “That’s nice. She must be handing out Halloween candy.” Um, that would be a no. Instead she pulled out an open bag of gummy worms that she obviously had during a recent break. Then I did a horrible thing. I let him have one. From an open bag. From a stranger. I guess in my desire to get the hell out of the store without another meltdown from my son, I said yes. Not an excuse, but still. It still makes me shudder to think of it now.

So things got back to normal after that. My obviously very tired son would not take a nap before we left for dinner at his favorite “lunch house”, Red Robin. What a treat that ended up being! No sarcasm here. Seriously! It was a blast! We happened to go on a night we never usually go on, and it was “Kids Night”. We had a magician doing tricks at our table that had the kids doing some serious jaw-dropping. Then there were the free ice cream sundaes and birthday song by the employees. And if that weren’t enough, there was an animal balloon maker wowing a slew of kids, mine included. The guy was absolutely amazing, and after my own balloon fiasco, I have an amazing amount of respect for his craft.

The most difficult thing that happened, for me anyway, was not the tantrum in the mega store, if you can believe it. It was a girl walking past us on our way to our car. She had a very large birthmark around her eye, and once I saw it I was nervous that Braedyn would say something. You know, since kids have that knack for pointing out things that seem different to them at some of the most awkward times. I glanced over to him just as his pointing finger was aiming, and as she walked passed us:

Braedyn: Hey, look at her eye!

The girl: Oh, THAT’s nice.

Me: He’s six. He doesn’t understand.

The girl: Fucking kid.

Me: I will explain it to him.

I am SO grateful the kids didn’t hear her swearing, and once in the car, we promptly had a discussion about birthmarks. We explained that it could hurt people’s feelings when you point out things that are different about them. We followed that up with a discussion that being different doesn’t make one bad or scary. We explained that we needed to be considerate of others’ feelings, so if they have a question about something they see that is different, they can always ask us. Of course, I’m saying this out of my mouth, but my head is thinking that I couldn’t see her eye for that ugly fucking mouth of hers. I understand it must be hard for her, and for that I am completely sympathetic. It’s just obvious that she either doesn’t have kids or has never been around any to see how they behave.

It was hurtful to me to hear someone say something so mean to my son. He wasn’t being mean; he didn’t do it to hurt her. When we had our talk with him, he said empathetically that he didn’t mean to hurt her feelings. He has a big heart, and I am very proud of him – even with a crazy tantrum thrown in once in a while. Keeps my parenting skills on their proverbial toes.

It’s hard to believe this all happened in one day. It was a lot for me; I can’t imagine what it must have felt like to my beautiful six year old boy.

Monday, October 19, 2009

SOME Assembly Required.

I want to know what marketing genius came up with the idea to sell a toy that comes completely UNASSEMBLED. It’s brilliant. No costs associated with machine or child labor required to pre-assemble your nanoparticle toy.  The cost savings must be ENORMOUS. As such, screw anyone who tells you American kids are dumb.  Those people have never SEEN the toys that 5 year olds are putting together.

Braedyn has a birthday coming up and grandpa sent him a check and boy was he ready to spend it.  It just so happened the check was for the same amount as the BIONICLE he was just dying to get.  BTW, its capitalized because on all the packaging and in the books its always written out as BIONICLE, just incase you weren’t paying attention.

Not making this up.. B I O N I C L E.

So we went to the Toys-R-Us with new in store MiniMart (again, I am not making this up) where you can now pickup your iPod, BIONICLE, gallon of milk, all natural potato chips and a Hanson soda. I didn’t check to see if they had PBR and Clove cigarettes, but if they do, its a college students DREAM. 

“Dude, lets hit ToysRUs, you get the new Rock Band and the Drum Set while I get someone to score smokes and booze for us.”  A ONE STOP SHOP.

So we are browsing the aisle looking for the BIONICLE that he wants when he spots it.  The main character from the recently released direct to DVD BIONICLE:THE LEGEND REBORN in a LIMITED EDITION. It was the first and only time I have seen a 5 year old make a decision and stick to it. Instantly.

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I didn’t look closely at the box, or I would have noticed it said in GIANT BIONICLE lettering, 368 pieces.  It might as well have read “This toy contains more pieces than there are insurance lobbyists fighting health care reform.” 

Seriously.  The toy has 2 books of instructions and just in case you think I am making this up. Behold.  Book 1 & Book 2.  Even the boy was scared. See the fear.  Its real alright._IGP5676

 

So we buckled down.  We hit a couple road bumps, like missing pieces or the old man needing to get up and stretch, but after three Redbulls ( I just drank water) and TWO hours of assembly time it was complete and it was time for a nap (for me of course).

Behold BIONICLE MATA NUI with articulated fingers (assembled right here in Reno Nevada using child labor).

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Who are you again and why am I naked?

I am back.  I know, its been a long time since I have blogged.  I was kidnapped by agents of The Company.  I can’t talk about it, if I did, I would have to kill you.

After my daring escape I was left with severe injuries to my shoulder and right elbow.  Those coupled with my prior foot issues left me in a great deal of pain and crippled by night terrors of my torture and abuse from The Company. 

Really, its just so horrifying I can’t talk about it. 

So like any injured superspy I went to my local physician who subscribed a plethora of medications to help ease me back into society. These were not without side effects which were pointed out to me in a rather public way.

Several weeks ago the family attended another of Braedyn’s soccer games.  As we were heading toward the field I asked “which one are we on this week.”

Susanne replies “The same as last week.”

It was obvious to me that we were NOT headed towards the field we played on the week before so I say with absolute confidence (because you all know I am NEVER wrong) “no, we were on that field over there.”

My wife gives me a look that really couldn’t have been described any less than “are you fucking kidding me?” and says just as gently “UH NO, we were on THIS field over here,” pointing again in the WRONG direction (because you see, I KNOW I am right).

“Uh No, we sat right over there, “ I confidently point. 

At which point another mom from the soccer team replies. “No, that was the week before.  Last week we sat right here.” Pointing again in the opposite direction that MY PERFECT mind remembers.

And then Susanne leans over and says “Wow, those drugs did a real number on you.  I KNEW something was wrong last week.”

What? Me? In a complete altered state.  Well my dear readers, it turns out she was right (just this once we will let her pretend it happens more often than not).  I sat down (it so happens in almost the exact same spot as the prior week) and that’s when the small flashes of memory started coming back. 

It was like being in a really cool action movie, glimpses of memory coming back in quick little flashes, like in a Michael Bay movie where everything moves really fast and nothing makes any sense but you don’t care because it just LOOKS cool. Except it was flashes of my life which is more like the movie Parenthood except my wife is much hotter than Mary Steenburgen and I am so way better looking than Steve Martin, and funnier, except when I blog because I don’t want him to feel bad.

So it’s time for my meds again.  Now what was I doing and where are my pants?

Friday, October 2, 2009

You Yellin’ at ME?

Today was my second Friday volunteering for parent patrol at Braedyn’s school, where I help kids and parents cross the street. This volunteer job is not without its perks, let me tell you. I do get to make quite a fashion statement with my bright neon yellow jacket with the words PARENT PATROL across the back. And the hand-held stop sign gives such a rush of power. I mean, cars listen to me! My kids don’t even do that!

Stop

When asked if I would volunteer, of course I gave an enthusiastic “Yes!” I mean, what’s better than giving your self-esteem a boost doing your civic duty AND being a role model for your kids at the same time!? I did pick the busiest intersection however, which as a rookie parent patroller may not have been the wisest move. I did it in order to be right by the Kindergarten corner, so I could give sporadic glances over to my son in the play area.

So what – two cross walks. No biggie, you are thinking. Well, throw in soccer moms running late to school, cars coming from three directions, people coming from ALL directions, and you can see how this becomes a bit of a challenge.

Generally speaking, I get lots of “Go Parent Patrol” shout outs, many “good morning” acknowledgements, and lots of thank you’s. It is actually a nice way to start my Fridays.

And then, there are days like to today when a MOM YELLED AT ME WHILE DOING MY VOLUNTEER WORK. Yup. Yelled at me. She said that I can’t just jump in the street. Given how many cars and how many people were waiting on little ole me, I simply said, “I’m doing my best.” After she drove off, I kind of kicked myself for not ending that sentence with “bitch.”

I know it seems like an easy job, and for most of the time I am out there, it is. But there are about five minutes where the traffic, both auto and foot, is very high, and it is an intense job.

To that lady who yelled at my VOLUNTEER work today, I’d just like to say, if you think you can do a better job, I’ll show you where to get the brightly colored fashion-statement jacket, and I welcome you to do some VOLUNTEER work yourself. Bitch.

Friday, September 18, 2009

How Do You Say Box Wine in Mandarin Chinese?

I’ve been a bit absent lately for a couple of reasons. First, I haven’t been feeling all that great, but I am happy to report that I am starting to feel better. Hooray! Second, my head is going to pop thinking about some life changes coming down the pipeline. You know, little things.

Like what, you ask?

LIKE MOVING TO BEIJING, CHINA FOR 6 MONTHS!

Yup. You read right. Now, it isn’t etched in stone, but Greg’s work wants to send him to Beijing to train a new group of people in the art of game making. And being a stay-at-home mom, there is no reason why we can’t go along with him for this uber cultural experience. Now, I have to admit that at first I was all WHAT? CHINA? BUT… BUT… AGH!

*pop* <--- The sound of my head exploding.

And then I started talking to people who were all CHINA! COOL! WHAT AN EXPERIENCE!!! So, I actually started to think about it seriously, and now I’m very excited about it. I’m nervous beyond belief about everything we need to do to prepare a family for this temporary move, but also very excited. I’m nervous about the submersion into a culture with which I’m not hugely familiar, but also challenged. So far to get prepared, we have:

  • shown the kids on google earth where Beijing is (“the other side of the world”)
  • checked out a bunch of books and movies from the library about Beijing and Chinese culture
  • checked out a Mandarin Chinese language program from the library
  • scoured the Internet on expat experiences and recommendations
  • asked about a bazillion questions
  • created to do list after to do list
  • started recording Ni Hao, Kai-Lan on Nickelodeon

So, I’ve only learned a couple of words in Mandarin Chinese so far. It is a very tough language to learn. OK, maybe it’s that I’m older now and it doesn’t stick to my I-have-had-two-kids-and-subsequently-lots-of-wine brain. Whatever the reason, I remember one word and forget the last one I learned. It’s freakin’ hard! Nothing like the Spanish and French I learned in school. So, thanks to Kai-Lan and her grandpa, I have learned:

  • Ni hao – hello
  • la – pull
  • yeah-yeah – grandpa

As you can see, I have a lot of work to do. Since the language relies a lot on tone to deliver meaning, one word or sound can have multiple meanings depending on the way it is said. The word for wine, from what I understand, can mean old, nine, or wine. So, when I go into the store asking for box wine, I’m either going to get beat up for calling someone old, going to be constantly escorted to aisle nine, or going to get the golden liquid that I desire. Please, please, keep your fingers crossed for the latter.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Bouncy Houses for God

I am appalled by the amount of shit that hit the fan when the President of our United States wanted to address the students of our country. Parents threatening to not send their kids to school. Facebook was crawling with polls about this “controversial speaking to students”. News sites were reporting stories of parents freaking out with worry that their children were going to be brainwashed. And all of these panties in a bunch and ruffled feathers were for what? Because the President wanted to encourage students to take an active role in their education.

GASP!

He wanted to talk to them about the value of an education.

OH THE HORROR!

He wanted to energize kids who might find school difficult.

WHAT WAS HE THINKING?

He wanted to express the importance of doing homework.

WHO WANTS THAT?

My Kindergartener did not get to see President Obama’s speech. I wanted him to, but he didn’t get to. His class didn’t see it. I have not found out yet why this is. Did enough people call and complain? Did the school district as a whole decide they weren’t going to air President Obama’s address to their students? Did they think Kindergarteners wouldn’t watch?

On the VERY SAME DAY that my son DID NOT see an encouraging speech from the President of the United States, he came home with a flier he had been given for a “community event” hosted by a religious organization. Cross on the flier and all. But they are giving away a Wii! But there will be seven different bouncy houses! What kid wouldn’t be enticed by that? Apparently the school district can get away with pushing a religious event (let’s call a spade a spade) by placing the following disclaimer at the bottom:

Distribution of this material does not constitute an endorsement by the school district. It is provided as a community service.

So, I’m trying to wrap my brain around this one. Work with me here.

Encouraging speech for the students?

No.

Religious propaganda distributed through school?

Yes.

Students enlightened by a President who cares about them?

No.

Schools encouraging bouncy houses for God?

Yes.

OK, I’m still trying to wrap my head around this very whacked scenario. It may take me a while… Thinking… thinking… thinking…

Nope. I don’t get it. You?

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Out with the Old, In with the… Turtle?

Greg and I finished getting rid of our 200 things without a whole lot of effort. Actually, the largest effort came trying to find the time to pick our 5 things each day. On a couple of occasions, we would go a few days without picking anything. Then we’d have a frantic, “Oh damn, I have to pick 20 things today!!” But we prevailed, and got rid of a room’s worth of crap we just didn’t need.

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I’m frantically looking over my shoulder as I type this however, because the entire time Greg and I did our contest, we kept the door locked to the room that held all of this stuff. It has been weeks now and even though the kids haven’t noticed any MIA toys, if they saw them in a picture, the waterworks would never stop. “But that was my FAVORITE toy!” Uh-huh. Sure.

We got rid of most of the stuff - gave some away, had another yard sale, and the rest is still in the back of the car waiting to be dropped off at the Salvation Army. And what did we do with the $97.60 we made at said yard sale? We spent it on the newest member of our family:

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Blogoshpere, meet Spikey Back Rock Star III. Spikey Back Rock Star III, meet the blogosphere.

Our neighbor found this little guy in his back yard stuck head first in his drainage pipe. It is a good thing he was discovered because he surely would have met his demise before too much longer. We were having a family BBQ when our neighbor poked his head over the fence with the little guy and said, “Hey, you guys want a turtle?” After all the kids stopped screaming “YES!”, Greg took him from our neighbor and got fondled by all the kids. The turtle, not Greg. So, Spikey Back Rock Star III, or Spike for short, lived in our cooler outside for about a week until we figured out what we were going to do. Keep him? Give him away? Decisions, decisions.

After a couple of days filled with hemming and hawing, and hawing and hemming, Greg found someone selling an entire turtle setup on Craigslist for the low, low price of $100. Being the consummate bargain hunter, I said, “email them and ask them if they’d take $50",” thinking there is no way they’d take half the asking price. Then we’d be tipping the scales toward the turtle-free solution. Yeah, not so fast. They took half the asking price. And now we have this little critter in our lives. I also keep hearing from Emily how pretty the lady was that sold it, so it was a little bonus for our pick-up guy, aka my husband.

Now that he is in an actual turtle habitat with the correct water temperature, food, etc., Spike couldn’t be happier. And honestly, neither could we. He’s really fun to watch.

So what if we spent $50 on the setup and another $50 on all the accoutrements a turtle could need. We didn’t technically go out of pocket. Right? At least this pet won’t pee on my carpet.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

My Back Pocket Voodoo Dolls

I recently read Libby Logic’s post about the atrocious customer service her family received at one of their local restaurant chains in Utah, and my feathers got all ruffled and pissed off for her. I got all “what’s the matter with people today?” and “where has common courtesy gone?” and “WTF are people thinking?” and “people think they are all that and a bag of chips!”

OK, you get the point. Customer service today sucks.

Then I started thinking. How can we expect to get a smile and a sincere hello from people we don’t know when there are atrocities being committed by the ones we do? I have two friends that have had horrible things happen to them by the person who was supposedly there to love and cherish them. Which leads me to why I carry around two voodoo dolls in my back pockets. Why there? Because I hope they feel the burn when I sit on them.

Two stories. Two mega assholes. I have changed the names of the innocent but kept the names of the guilty. First, my dear friend, Cicely (name changed to protect her), who doesn’t have an evil bone in her body, was 5 months pregnant when her partner of FIFTEEN years decided he didn’t love her anymore and wanted a divorce. Yeah, so my first voodoo doll is named Mark (name not changed).

Second, my friend, Brenda (name changed to protect her), had given her all to her partner. This dynamo has a huge heart too, so that is saying a lot! She sold her house and put all of her money into making a new, remodeled home with this woman. She became a parent to her child and loved her like her own. Then about five years into the relationship, Brenda was told to move out. No warning. Just get out. And our backasswards laws don’t protect same-sex partnerships, so she lost everything. EVERYTHING. So my second voodoo doll is named Nicole (again, no name change here).

Cicely and Brenda are both strong women with amazing hearts and are moving along nicely. I like to think that my having grudges and fostering ill-will through my dolls helps. I hold the grudge, so they don’t have to. Sitting on Mark and Nicole makes me feel better.

So, carry a voodoo doll around with you. Next time someone stiffs you on the breadsticks, whip it out and twist an arm or two. It might just make you feel better. It works for me.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Fun for the Family? I Think Not.

I have written before about how I have what appears to be a lifetime subscription to a magazine that claims to be chalk full of fun family ideas. Only, every time I look through the magazine, I’m more perplexed that people actually DO the things detailed in it. Make your own toy bin? No thanks. Make crafty little form letters to fill out for your kids’ teachers? Um, I’m more of an email person myself.

Apparently the makers of this magazine put out colorful books full of all sorts of recipes and crafts “the whole family will love.” I only discovered they had these other publications when one of the moms at Braedyn’s new school pulled out one of the hardcover books, set it down in front of me, and exclaimed, “ I LOVE their magazine!” Wow. I am just *not* that mom. When the kids ask to do crafts, that means I put out a bin of various craft odds and ends – maybe some pipe cleaners, some buttons, markers, colored paper, scissors, stickers, and glue – and say “go for it!”

What can I say? The magazine bugs me, and this month’s edition is no different. It just doesn’t seem practical to me. The only time I look through it is while sitting on the pot in the bathroom. I get 30 seconds of peace (usually) and I use that time to flip through whatever magazines I have put in the magazine rack. Today, the fun makers mag intrigued me, so I decided to flip during my 30 seconds of “pee”ace. It claimed to have creative ways to save money on school clothes.

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You know what their creative idea was? It’s to cut, glue, and sew new clothes out of their old clothes. An example of which, the little girl is wearing on her arm in the picture. Again, I am *so* not that mom. If I had written the article, it would have said:

Want to save money on school clothes? Go garage saling!

Seriously, I have picked up incredible clothing that is like new or new for *PENNIES*! A quarter here, 50 cents there, and you have a new outfit. And you save yourself all the headache that comes with the glue fumes, unless you are into that.

Friday, August 14, 2009

That’s It. You’re Grounded.

When I used to rock Braedyn to sleep as a baby, I used to tell myself that I would never EVER forget how wonderful that very moment felt. By the time Emily was a baby, I realized there is no holding on to a moment like that because all the beautiful intricacies of those precious moments like those I had with Braedyn were gone. I could think of them fondly, but the full-body essence of those moments were gone forever. So, with Emily I told myself that I was going to fully embrace and cherish those precious moments with her as a baby as they happened. Thinking back on them just isn’t the same. Enjoy the moment now.

Because they grow up.

Braedyn knows he is not allowed to, but the little stinker just won’t listen to me. I am always telling him he is not allowed to grow up any more. He thinks this is hilarious. One day after I threatened a good grounding if he grew any more, he said, “but I want to be a teenager.” Oh boy. After a good long sigh, I told him that I would only allow him to become a teenager - one day - if and ONLY if he promised to still love me the way he does now. Again, he thought this was hilarious, but he smiled a huge smile and promised me. After all, in his mind today, there is no world without giving oodles of love to his one and only mommy.

This week proved to me there is just no stopping time. It was a week jam packed with firsts.

First day of Kindergarten. He loved it. Grinning from ear to ear, he wore his Bakugan backpack (“packpack”) as we walked to school. As all the parents were flashing pictures and wiping tears, he didn’t show an inkling of nerves and held his head high.

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He didn’t quite grasp the whole idea of school being something he’d be doing for the next decade or two though because the afternoon after that first day, we had this conversation:

Braedyn: What are we doing tomorrow morning?

Me: You are going to school.

Braedyn: AGAIN!?!?

First lost tooth. And boy, did that little sucker hang on for dear life. It wiggled for about 6 weeks before Braedyn pulled it out. Well, sort of pulled it out. We have his older second cousin to thank for the jump start. While at my sister’s surprise birthday party about a week ago, my grand-niece came running out to all the adults yelling, “Braedyn’s tooth fell out!” My legs were in a running motion before getting off of the stool I was on! I ran to him only to find him crying with a bit of blood surrounding the loose tooth still in his mouth. Upon investigation, I discovered that his 14-year-old second cousin had convinced Braedyn to let him twist it out. Yeah, it gives me the heebie-jeebies too. *shudder* Well, his plan was foiled, and even though the loose tooth was now practically in a horizontal position, no one could convince Braedyn to try and get it out. So, the waiting game continued for another three days.

Before bed after his first day in Kindergarten, we helped persuade Braedyn to try and flop the tooth over the other direction. He was very tentative, but he finally did it as he looked on in the mirror over the sink in the bathroom. One little flip and out it came. It dropped right into the sink and almost went down the drain. I tried to grab it and dropped it back in the sink. Grabbed it again with fingers like the jaws of life and saved it.

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He was SO excited, he just ran around the house saying, “I’m so HAPPY I pulled my tooth out! I’m SO happy I pulled my tooth out!”

First time bowling. While Greg and Emily were on their adventure in Stella, Braedyn and I went on a date together. I took him bowling for the first time and to a yummy hamburger joint where he got to pick the dessert. He enjoyed bowling so much, he asked for (and got) a second game! And after these two games, a small dinner, and a huge dessert, he asks, “What are we going to do now?” “Well, I think I am going to pass out from exhaustion from trying to keep up with you.”

photo photo(2)

I don’t think I can handle much more of this growing up stuff in such a short period of time again. But I have great friends with wonderful advice. Amy told me that if he asked to take the training wheels off of his bike this week to tell him he’s grounded. Yeah, I like that. No more growing up this week for my son. We’re done with all that growing up business.

This week anyway.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

If You Treat A Woman Right

In just over 24 hours from this post myself, Emily and Charmin will all be climbing aboard Stella and heading out to Lamoille Canyon.  I would be lying if I wasn’t having any reservations.  Let’s see why.

  1. Mom is not going.
  2. Emily is going.
  3. Charmin is going.
  4. Stella is a 21 year old VW Westfalia.
  5. We are driving across one of the most desolate areas in the country in Stella (did I mention she is a 21 year old VW).

Now I knew what I was getting into when I purchased Stella and I fully expect her to make the trek safely.  She in fact has already made 2 long distance treks.  One from Bend to Newport Oregon and then all the way home to Reno.  Another a round trip from Reno to Lake Almanor.  She performed beautifully both times.

This time however, I will be the only “grown up” on the trip and any and all responsibility however is mine and mine alone.  Luckily I am heading out there to meet a group of people for a midweek wedding and I suspect if I don’t show they will make some phone calls (if they have service that is).

I have been giving her lots of love.  Had her reviewed by a vdub mechanic who has given her a thumbs up, checked all her fluid levels and gave her a nice rubdown.  I have been treating her right.

The real comfort for me is that she’s a camper. If something goes wrong, at least we will have a place to sleep till the Cavalry arrives.

Monday, August 10, 2009

It’s Just A Cultural Thing, Right?

I normally don’t blog about work, I mean who wants to get dooced for blogging.  If it meant that I could make a living blogging, hell I might go for it but I don’t see THAT happening anytime soon. 

The prior two weeks I spent doing one on one training with a new employee destined for our China office.  This woman was very bright and friendly.  She was formerly from China, had been living in the states for at least 6 years and was a graduate of an American university.  An American at this point, right?

The second week I was sitting in my cube trying to focus and give somewhat meaningful training. I kept moaning and whining about my sore muscles after spending a weekend towing my family (including Charmin) around on a giant water trampoline tied to my waist.

There I am rubbing my shoulders and she simply looks at me and cocks her head curiously at me.  I assume she cares why I am hurting and I explain what I was doing all weekend and finish up with “I am just out of shape.”

She pauses and like T1000 Terminator she scans me slowly from head to toe and says simply “Yes, you are.”

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Wait. What Did He Just Say?

Today Braedyn met his Kindergarten teacher, an absolutely lovely woman I feel is going to do a stellar job with my son. As part of the Kindergarten curriculum, the teacher spends the first week of school meeting with each child on an individual basis for one half-hour. During our time, she showed him where his cubby was and provided some general information about the upcoming school year. Then I waited out in the hallway as she ran through a series of basic questions with him in order to get a feel for where he was with various concepts (ie, numbers, letters, shapes, counting). After assessing each student, she has a better idea of how to teach all these new students as an entity.

During his assessment, I peaked in a couple of times to listen to what he was being asked and to see how he was responding. Bad idea.

Let me clarify that statement. He did AWESOME during his assessment. He wasn’t nervous and he answered what questions he could and said he “didn’t know” on the things he was unsure of. I wasn’t expecting him to know all the answers, especially given my view on pre-school academia. Feeling it was a bad idea came when I overheard things like:

Teacher: Can you count these blocks for me? (Pointing to a board with 3 rows of 10 blocks each.)

Braedyn: 1…2…3…4…5…6…7…8…9…10… <moving to the next row> 1…2…

Teacher: Can you keep counting them without starting at 1 again? Go ahead and try again.

Braedyn: 1…2…3…4…5…6…7…8…9…10… <moving to the next row> 1…

Teacher: What comes after 10?

Braedyn: I don’t know. My mommy always starts over at 1.

Me: <Biting my lip>

or…

Teacher: Please write your name here.

Braedyn: <Writes name>

Teacher: Great! Now please draw a picture of yourself here.

Braedyn: I don’t know how.

Teacher: You don’t know how to draw a picture of yourself?

Braedyn: No. I only know how to draw monsters.

Me: <Hand slapping forehead>

Teacher: You can draw monsters?

Braedyn: Yeah, I can draw angry eyes.

OK, so Braedyn KNOWS how to count past 10. In fact, we count to 30 every time we put on a temporary tattoo. And that would be quite often. Thankyouverymuch. And as far as the monster comment? I can only hope she thinks he was talking about the Sesame Street variety. Ugh.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Free Agent? Not Anymore.

I would say that becoming a stay-at-home mom has been one of the most difficult transitions I have ever faced in my life to date. Going from daily speaking geek with adults to speaking infant with two diapered ones was a challenge at best. One of the biggest hardships I have faced has been making friends with other parents. I have made “mommy friends” and been divorced by them.

I have now been at home with the kids for four years. I am happy to say I have a great group of friends that I can call upon for support and who feel they can call upon me for the same. The kids are at an age where they are just as happy playing with one another as they are heading to the beach or the park. And getting them there no longer requires a three week planning session, twelve changes of clothes, two diaper bags, and a tranquilizer (for me). I am completely enjoying being able to pick and choose what to do with the kids any particular week. Tahoe? I’ve got plenty of sun screen! Let’s go! Park day? Absolutely! Let’s pack a lunch! Pajama day? I’ll pick the first movie!

But, alas, all of this is going to change.

Braedyn starts Kindergarten next week. Everyone keeps asking me if I am going to cry on his first day. I hadn’t really thought about that. All I could think about was how much our lives were going to change. Out of the house at the SAME time EVERY day? Ouch. No more cool weather mornings at the park? Eek! No more impromptu trips up to Tahoe? Boo! *sniff* And the coup de grĂ¢ce!? I am going to miss a friend’s wedding because I don’t want to take Braedyn out of school HIS VERY FIRST WEEK. *sigh* So, when asked about the monumental first day of Kindergarten, all I could think (selfishly) was that I was losing my free agent status.

Will I cry on his first day? Well, if yesterday is any indication of what is ahead, I had better take one, no two, BOXES of Kleenex. What happened yesterday that provided this insight? I took the kids up to the school to find out where his room is and to drop off my PTO money and volunteer info. School is already in session right now, and Braedyn’s eyes just lit up seeing all those kids walking around with their backpacks on. For me, it just about sent me over the edge. Oh, I held back the tears, but it took every ounce of will power and thinking of something ugly, like bloated road kill, to do it.

Braedyn, on the other hand, is very ready and excited. He has picked out a backpack (“packpack”) and is feeling like a big boy. And that he is. My little boy is growing up.

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Oh, damn it all. It’s starting already. Where’s my Kleenex?

Friday, July 31, 2009

Growing Up in Casa de la Pack Rat

I grew up in Casa de la Pack Rat, and it has strongly molded my personality. It was a house where very little was discarded. Because of this, as an adult I really tend to hold on to very little. This really bothers certain family members of mine that want to pass things on to me to give to my offspring to give to their offspring to give to their offspring, and so on. I don’t like the weight, the emotional weight, of it. I guess it is entirely possible that my children may resent me one day for not holding onto that piece of driftwood from my trip to the ocean back in 1984 or for boxing up and saving every picture they drew. It may even sadden them to know that I loved looking at every single picture they drew but that almost all swiftly made it to the recycle bin. I do keep some; I’m not THAT bad. In fact, I show my love and admiration of their work by displaying them in my house, such as over my mantle (see picture below). I even have a short stack of images that I plan on scanning to save a virtual copy so that the original can be turned into some recycled paper towel somewhere.

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Back to Casa de la Pack Rat… Very much in the way sprinkles cling to cupcakes, my house growing up clung to piles of magazines. Piles. Every failed car, appliance, or electronic gizmo could not be tossed because WE MIGHT NEED A PIECE FROM ONE OF THEM SOME DAY. You know how it is written as a law somewhere that if you own a big chunk of land in some rural area, you have to have old, beat up cars in one corner of your property? Yeah, I lived in a big city, and our backyard still had 4 or 5 car bodies in one corner.

The house owners (notice I am trying really hard not to name any names here) had a huge room added on to the back of the house, which eventually looked like this:

MysteryManSpace

In this picture I have blurred the face of the man that I happen to be closely genetically related to. I am doing this because it is not my intent to hurt anyone’s feelings, but rather explore why I get physically depressed if my house is cluttered for more than a day or so. Seriously. I have heard many times that if you spend a lot of time cleaning your house, you will look back and regret not spending that time playing with your children. The thing is I CAN’T PLAY WITH MY CHILDREN WHEN MY HOUSE IS MESSY. Well, OVERLY messy. Sure, I could hang out with them, but I’D BE CRYING. No amount of anti-depressants could cure me of this quirk. So, I work hard to keep my house picked up – not perfect – and manageable. THEN I play.

I had problems with clutter when I was a kid too. It would get to me so badly that I would gather gizmos, stacks of magazines, and doo-dads throughout the house and put them right in the doorway to the room described above. I would gather up enough things to stack in such a way that the owner of said gizmos and doo-dads would have to do something with them to get into his room. If I didn’t make it high enough or deep enough, they would just get stepped over, defeating my purpose - DO SOMETHING WITH YOUR CRAP JUNK PRIZED POSESSIONS.

My hope is that my children will grow up seeing that their father and I keep what we can honor and that they will understand and appreciate that we don’t hold onto things for the sake of holding on to them. It is also my most sincere hope that gene de la pack rat does not simply skip a generation.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

4 Days In and… Nuthin’

We are on day 4 of our personal challenge, and I have to say things haven’t been too tough yet. In fact, it has been rather easy. I’m sort of disappointed that there hasn’t been any kind of introspection on what things really mean, or any kind of cathartic release coming with the scrapping of ancient things that had weighed us down. It does however, feel damn good to be getting rid of things. Things that I don’t use. (Charger plates from Target.) Things that I thought I might use but have been covered in dust for several years. (Hanging vases.) Things that were parts to something else long ago gone (um, can you say vacuum cleaner parts for a vacuum we haven’t had in over a year?). Hello.

What does this say to me? We still have way too much crap! That’s what it says! I’m hoping I don’t go through the entire challenge and find that it in fact was not a challenge. I hope that after a few more days I will really struggle with what is important to me. I can’t speak for Greg however, but I think he may be feeling the same way. After all, he counted 4 hard drives as one thing yesterday. Boooyah!

So far, it’s like cleanin’ house. Here is what we’ve collected so far:

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It’s not like Greg hasn’t upped the ante for me either. I took a trip to Ikea yesterday and brought home a bunch of stuff. Greg informed that for everything I brought into the house, something else had to go. IN ADDITION TO MY 100 THINGS. Given the state of the “challenge” so far, I can safely say, “no problem.”

Monday, July 27, 2009

20 Days. 100 Things. Each.

Recently Greg ran across this blog that chronicled one man’s journey to whittle down his personal possessions to a meager 100 things and live with no more than those 100 things for one year. It was with a slightly open interpretation because he did things like count his skivvies as one item. Otherwise he’d either be really stinky or using up precious resources doing laundry all of the time. Remember those “what’s grosser than gross jokes” that were rampant during middle school? What’s grosser than throwing your dirty undies against the wall and watching them slide down? Seeing them crawl back up. Yeah, he would have been living proof that could happen if he had to count each pair of undies as one item during his challenge.

Anyway, Greg and I were inspired by his Eff You Consumerism dare, but since there is no way in hell we could reduce the amount of shit we have to just 100 items, we put a spin on it. Seriously, with our two pack-rat kids, we are  lucky to get out of the door and into the car each day with ONLY 100 things! I suggested we try and reduce the amount of things we each have by 100. I kind of cheated and got Greg on a day when he had mentioned he was ready to purge some more of his dust collectors. He agreed. So, yay!

Here is what I am thinking the rules need to be:

  1. Every day for 20 days we will each pick 5 items to chuck.
  2. We can’t pick from each other’s shit to increase our discard count. As much as I, ahem, I mean we, might like to.
  3. We can’t get our panties in a bunch if the other person picks something we gave them as a present.
  4. Since the point is to reduce, we can’t count each wire, each connector, or each piece of unused scrapbook paper as one thing. If that were the case, we could be done in about 10 seconds. Bundling rules apply.

I think that about sums it up. Today is day 1. If you don’t hear from me soon, have someone come and look for me in our storage cabinets. I’m most certainly trapped under something very heavy and very dusty.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Plaster of Paris Anyone?

I learned today that the person who invented toilet seat covers was either an Eskimo or likely lived in a climate that never exceeds 80 degrees. Perhaps its just a nasty prank to give the dying inventor the last laugh.

It's hot here. Not Las Vegas 120 degree hot, but 101 degrees of pure "dry heat". Dry my sweaty ass. It's hot and it makes me sweat and not in all the pleasant places like ... well, is sweat pleasant anywhere?

So today I learned that I should never, I repeat NEVER use a toilet seat cover when my backside is anything but babypowder dry. Why? It's the secret ingredient, plaster of paris.

Perhaps this is something everyone else already new, but today I realize why I prefer to use my own gasket free toilet at home. I felt like I was peeling off a really good layer of skin after a nasty sunburn, one small thin strip at a time. When that quit working there I was leaning over and brushing little rolly polly wads of paper off my backside. How long I stood there doing this I couldn't tell you. I can tell you two other gentleman used the stall next to me and three others used the urinals AND DIDN'T WASH THEIR HANDS!

I just need to learn the hover style that women use and I guess I would be ok.

Why I Suck

OK, I am a loser.

Why the self slamming? Well, I talk about how much I enjoy writing but have done none of it lately. I haven’t written a friggin’ word. Instead I am trying to find words in that stupid “Word Challenge” game on Facebook. It is sucking the writing life out of me. I play game after game after game with the hope of not looking like a word loser. But after making what feels like an infinite number of attempts at getting a decent score, I feel like a big, fat vocab neophyte.

Which leads me to breaking the proverbial ice. I am writing a nonsensical entry just to get my ass going again. Can I blame Facebook for my lack of blogging lately? I SO wish that I could, but it is my own damn fault for taking such a hiatus. I think the two or three extra readers we picked up lately threw me into shock and I was so worried about being funny in my posts that I stopped writing altogether. Now I can breath a sigh of relief and start up again because THEY ARE ALL GONE!

Even though I enjoy the creative and cathartic nature of writing, anytime I had some free time I slept. Or played Spider Solitaire. Or played that gawd-awful Facebook time-suck of a game that makes you feel stupid. It’s not from a lack of things to write about either. Even with an abundance of topics (it IS crazy around here), the only time I actually wrote something lately was when I was given the honor of writing a guest post over at Logical Libby’s site! Nothing like an assignment to get the ole fingers typing! I’m trying to get over the sting of the slap of only getting THREE comments. Compared to her 10+ usual comments, I felt SO not funny.

Oh for the love of the FSM, I sound like such a whiner. That is not my point. My point was just to say that rather than challenging myself, I stopped writing. Bad, bad blogger. But, dear reader, (yes, you -the one) I’m BAAAAACK! Thank you for sticking with me.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Love, American Style

Time to get back to the real world.  After several weeks (yes, 3 weeks) of vacation this weekend marks the end of a work free period. How was it spent? One week spent on the ocean coast, a long drive up, a new (used, but new to me) Westfalia named Stella, a day spent crabbing in Waldport with friends, a trip to the worlds largest sea cave full of sea lions, a 14.5 hour drive home with only one stop due to overheating, a couple days in the woods, and a day at Sand Harbor, Lake Tahoe. Now I am roaring to get back to work.
Maybe not. Work is overrated.  While gone I apparently survived another round of layoffs (thank you FSM). I will let you know Monday first thing. If things go really bad, I will always have a van to live in.  Most likely park it down by the river.
Meet Stella.  The newest member of our family.  Isn’t she HOT.  That’s right, the A/C doesn’t work. 




I am thinking I might need a beer right about now and seeing as our fridge decided to die just as the vacation ended I have a cooler of beer sitting next to me so it will take zero effort.  I might have to make this a permanent edition to the living room (over Susanne’s dead body most likely). Anyone for a PBR?  Yeah, not my beer either, but as Eric “The Piano Mover Man” Holden never was able to complete the piano moving I managed to drink the 12 pack he never picked up. I have to say, it does make a nice summer beer.
Damn, I have been away from this laptop for so long, can you help me…is this thing on?
Am I rambling...is this thing on?
So if you are one of the 10 readers (not regular readers, but just one of the 10 people who read this blog) you noticed that our family took a vacation to the Oregon coast. We rented a house on the ocean (no, I won’t recommend it, the house, I highly recommend the ocean) of Seal Rock Oregon, just south of Newport or North of Waldport, depending on your sense of direction.  It was newly on the rental market because apparently the old lady who lived there just died.  Who’s kidding. Susanne likes to correct me every time I make that joke, but the chalk mark outline on the kitchen floor proved I was right.  They really should have cleaned up a bit first.  I mean, they lady’s slippers were still in the closet. True story.  I’m not making this stuff up. Maybe some of it, the house wasn’t RIGHT on the ocean.
So what was this blog about? Oh yeah, Love, American Style.  Well, there was no loving this vacation, I mean for Susanne and I.  Jake did sneak out a lot so who knows what he got into (so to speak) but the kids were sleeping in our room at the rental because the beds in the loft at 50 feet above sea level and 14 feet above the 2nd floor weren’t exactly child safe.  So, the kids “slept” in a mattress on our bedroom floor.  Sleeping being loosely used here of course.
Let me demonstrate.


Now I don’t want you thinking that our vacation was love free.  It was full of love.  My kids gave me lots of love.  My wife loved the ocean. I loved not being at work and best of all, I loved having my family together. Oh, and there was Wine love.
Additionally we had all sorts of interesting conversations regarding love.  My favorite one occurred on the trip up.  There we were heading up into Oregon. The kids watching “Swan Princess” (a story of true love) and Jacob texting his girlfriend in Washington (long distance love) when Susanne comes over a hill and smack dab in the middle of the road is a dead squirrel and another standing over it (lost love).
“Oh, that is so sad. That poor squirrel lost the love of his life!” she says.
“That’s one way to look at it,” I said.
“What do you mean?”
“Maybe he was eating her?”

Friday, July 10, 2009

Why We Couldn’t Live In a Fireworks State

Why, you ask, could we not live in a state that legally sells fireworks? Because my family is a bunch of pyromaniacs! Seriously, give them a wick and a match and they’ll think they just won the lottery. This is especially true of Greg. I had to put a pan under his chin as we drove around Oregon. If you listened carefully, you’d hear the drip, drip, drip of his drool every time we passed a side-of-the-road Fireworks Depot. And there were a lot of them. Subsequently, there was a LOT of drool.

The night of July 4th, we went to the bay in Newport to watch the big fireworks show. We showed up a few hours early, unsure of whether or not Greg would have to fight to get close enough to feed his fix of fireworks fumes. We staked claim at a perfect spot on the edge of the bay, right near the Rogue brewery. In case the fireworks fumes didn’t feed his olfactory needs, the hops ones would.

Only one problem. It was the foggiest night of our entire trip. And I mean the kind of fog where you wonder if you should have put a GPS signal on the car for fear of never seeing it again. This was our view of the bay:

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At first we were concerned we wouldn’t be able to see the fireworks, but then we discovered we had nothing to worry about. We were smack dab in the middle of a whole slew of people with the same drive to watch something explode as Greg. The kids had a blast (literally) with the fireworks Greg snuck out and bought. Check out the look on Braedyn’s face! He’s all, “yeah, I could do this for a living.” Well, the apple didn’t fall far from the tree!

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I guess I can’t say it was ALL fun. For Emily I’d say it was about 3 parts fun, 1 part fear:

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Speaking of fear, Greg lit a little bomb-type firework (hey, I don’t know the word – I’m NOT the junkie!). It went off just as a poor gentleman walked by - a poor gentleman who happened to be a Vietnam veteran. He was a good sport about it, so I’d say it was about 2 parts fun, 2 parts fear for him. You can see him walking unaware of what lay ahead just over Greg’s right elbow in this shot:

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Some mischievous peeps started lighting Class C fireworks only about 15 yards behind us in some RV parking. These, I had to be informed, are the big-big fireworks that are used in the shows and which happen to be illegal in Oregon. Well, I’m glad these bad-boys-bad-boys-whatcha-gonna-do brought and lit these because the fireworks we had come to see hadn’t started by 10:30 pm. The kids were about to pass out, either from exhaustion or from the exhaust. Either way, we had to pack it up.

Even though we didn’t get to see the “official” show of Newport, we really enjoyed ourselves, largely because the community of pyros was such a welcoming and fun crowd.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

My GPSed track

Hi!

Have a look at my new track:

http://gpsed.com/track/3888703012709956608

Sent from my iPhone

Friday, July 3, 2009

How Lame

I spent 40 minutes, 40 minutes of my vacation I won't get back, writing, copying/pasting images into an ail to be autoposted only to have them not show in the post.

Lame.

But I still love my iPhone.

Sent from my iPhone

Reality Show Needs Funding

I'm on vacation typing this my phone so excuse the brevity and formatting.

I do enjoy my job, but seriously folks, how can you NOT want to sit and do this all day, every day.

If some crazy ass T.V. Exec wants to take me up on this and put me up in a beach house, make me indepently wealthy and see how long I can do absolutely nothing every day, I am up for the challenge. Viewers of "Beach Bum" will likely findy my daily adventures of beach combing, photoraphing tide pools and watching the fog rolling in RIVETING.

Viewers WON'T see me doing Tai Chi in the mist. Look very carefully. The dot dead center where beach meets water is the Oregon Mist Tai Chi monster. Expending that much energy scares the living daylights out of me.


I couldn't run though, I was too busy being lazy.

Sent from my iPhone

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Calling All Tooth Fairies

We’re getting ready to go pick up Greg’s mid-life crisis vehicle (our little MLC) and to spend a much needed week near the ocean. In fact it is just bout as close as you can get to the ocean without being on a 42’ sailboat owned by a certain husband’s cousin, sailing across the Juan de Fuca straight. Memories, misty water colored memories. I digress. Anyway, I’m hoping this year will go better than the last time we went to the coast two years ago when Emily refused to sleep. In fact, if you listened carefully you could hear her mumbling something like:

I am Sam
I am Sam

Sam I am

That Sam-I-am!
Than Sam-I-am!
I do not like
that Sam-I-am!

Do you like
deep sleep in a bed?

I do not like that,
Sam-I-am.
I do not like
deep sleep in a bed.

Will you like to sleep
in a car?
Will you like to sleep
in some arms?

Not in a car.
Not in some arms.
Not in a house.
Not in a blouse.

I will not sleep here or there.
I will  not sleep anywhere.
I will not sleep deep in a bed.
I do not like that, Sam-I-am.

At the time we didn’t worry about her frightening mumbling so much as we worried about our ability to function as a human being during our trip. Because, trust me, it was a struggle not to look like a troglodyte seeing light for the first time. A troglodyte addicted to coffee who has had his stash taken away for months. One that had to use toothpicks to keep his eyes open. Yeah, THAT kind of pretty.

So, we’re worried about our ability to sleep a TOTAL of eight hours over the week, let alone consecutively each night. This year we have an additional concern. My son’s teeth. Last night at dinner, Braedyn managed to turn my stomach to mush. Not in the cute, hey look at me do my own hair kind of way or the watch me slide down this slide by myself kind of way. No. He took his index finger and wiggled his bottom tooth. I may as well be in an operating room elbow deep in someone’s intestines because watching him wiggle his tooth does the same thing to my stomach. RETCH. Just ask Jacob who will be 18 soon how I reacted when he wiggled his teeth in his wee youth. You got it. RETCH.

In addition to losing my dinner, I started to cry. My son is growing up! I’ve told him he’s not allowed to do that, but he heeds that warning just about as much as when I tell him to stop playing at bed time. When he was 5 months old I saw that first tooth coming through and I raced him to the nearest Kiddie Kandids for the last of his toothless wonder grins. Well, until he’s 98 and fanatically licking his lips.

So, here we are, getting ready for our vacation and Braedyn has a loose tooth. I’m calling all tooth fairies and asking them to please, please have some spare change with them while we are away from home. The tooth fairy will not be able to scrounge around our house for a gem to trade the tooth for, so she had better be prepared! What could be worse than not finding anything in our vacation rental to give for this monumental first tooth loss? Well, not finding anything AND being sleep-deprived I suppose.

At least my son is still fully enveloped by his innocent youth, even with that revolting loose tooth. I overheard this conversation yesterday:

Braedyn to Emily: Will you let me marry you when I grow up?

Emily: No.

Braedyn: Awww!

Emily: <muffled noise>

Braedyn: What? You’ll let me marry you when I grow up?

Emily: Yeah.

Braedyn: Will you go in my room with me?

Emily: Why?

Braedyn: Because I’m scared by myself.

And then later to me:

Braedyn: When I’m a daddy, and Emily is a mommy, she’ll let me marry her.

Good to know. I guess if that comes to fruition I have more things to worry about than teeth falling out.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Fathers Day 2009

How Father's Day 2009 will be remembered.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Look at All the Money You Could Save!

I will admit it to you. I’m one of the millions of people who have a gym membership. And don’t use it. I was pushed encouraged to join because I was informed I needed to get the feel-good endorphins pumping through my body through exercise, and because a professional I have a tremendous amount of respect for prescribed this, I took it upon myself to make it so. I sucked it up and joined a gym. Yeah, I know there are other ways to work up a sweat, but we have two small children in the house. ALL. THE. TIME. (If we went that route and waited until they were in bed each time, I promise I’d lock the door.) But come on, let’s be real. The professional said at least three times a week for 30 minutes each time. Pfffft!

Gym shopping was actually fun. I had three in mind that I was going to check out, but only made it to the first two. The third one was touted as a meat-market by both gym #1 and gym #2, so I took their word for it and stayed away from hunky young people ready to pump each other up. I didn’t want to seem like a chaperone after all.

I chose gym #1. Why?

  1. They have a kids center where I can drop off my munchkins while I work out, so I can’t very well use them as an excuse as to why I SUCK AT GETTING MY NOT-SO-FIRM BUTT THERE.
  2. The average age of my fellow sweaters is mid-thirties, so I won’t feel like a dirty old woman as my tongue hangs out at all the tight youngens as I lighten the weight load on each machine before I take my turn.
  3. All of the cardio machines have a TV hooked up to them, so I can’t possibly say I’m bored while exercising. I can zone out on crap TV. What could be better to get through the monotony of bicycling, climbing, or running in place? Unless, you know, each and every available channel is playing cooking shows. That’s right. *GASP* You can now say you know someone that doesn’t like cooking shows. Of course, those channels are probably all banned from the gym anyway. Otherwise, wouldn’t that be considered at least a little bit of a form of cruel and unusual punishment? The gym wants people to stay and work out; not go home and binge after all.
  4. They have a racquetball court. Greg and I can drop the kids off at the kids center and then duke it out in the court. Well, we all know how that one turned out.
  5. The place was freaking huge! There was a nice amount of space between machines, so no worries of needlessly offending the olfactory senses.

So why don’t I go? Blame Greg. Seriously; it’s his fault! For “my birthday” he got me a Wii Active, the fitness video game. And you know what? It rocks. IV Real. I can work out for 25 minutes, work up a sweat, get my heart racing, and all in the comfort of my ugliest clothes ever. Barefoot even. I don’t have to DRIVE anywhere. I don’t have to look like a dork in front of others. Well, besides my family, and they already know I’m a dork and love me in spite of it.

If you are looking for a way to work out at home and save the cost of a monthly gym membership but are tired of the same old Yoga tape you’ve had since the 1980’s, this is really the way to go. It’s 60 bucks (assuming you are geeks like us and already have the Wii gaming system), and it provides such a variety of exercises that it keeps it interesting and new. And it doesn’t let you slack at all. I’ve tried. Several times.

Now if I could just figure out a way to slack on that damn gym contract I signed.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

BRRRRRRR

Susanne and I took the kids to the river today.  We are trying very hard to socialize Charmin so we can work on our training in various locations. 

We visited Rock Park which was recently completely landscaped anew.  It looks great.  For those of you not of this area, the Truckee River flows from Lake Tahoe and the water can be well…a bit chilly.

I had a bit of fun trying to get Charmin to go into the water.

“Get the stick, get the stick!”  After three or four sticks thrown in and Charmin simply looking at me like “Dude, you are crazy” I felt I had to be the big man and lead her into the river. Let me assure you I didn’t want to get in the water any more than she did, so I stepped out onto a rock in the river.

It started out ok.  She looked a little skittish.

Then the panic set in or her girly parts hit the cold water.

I think her claws left scratch marks in the rocks.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Goodnight Koko

A letter to my two youngest children, not yet old enough to understand.

Emily and Braedyn I am sorry I was not able to tell you the complete truth. I told you a story as close to the truth as best I could to spare you the pain that your mother and I are feeling. We did try to share with you as much as we could. We didn’t want you to just wonder where Koko went, or lie outright. So we did our best. When we told you that Koko was leaving, you yelled at me, you told me you didn’t like me anymore and that’s ok. At that moment, I didn't like myself very much for going down the path I chose but I had no choice.

I told you that she is in a place where she is happy and has other dogs to play with. I told you she is in a place with no children and no one to bite. I will continue to tell you that until you are old enough to read this, until you are old enough to understand. I hope you will forgive me and understand I did it because I didn’t want you to hurt or be hurt.

The truth is, she is gone. The truth is although Koko seemed to be the perfect dog, a gentle dog there was something in her that we just could not see. Something that we could not predict. Something we never saw even when you were putting your underwear on her head, or throwing a blanket over her.

The first clue was when she bit the vet and drew blood. This was nearly enough to put your mother and I over the edge. Koko almost went away then, but I convinced myself and your mother that it was the situation, the stress, the fear, the feeling cornered in a strange place. She bit the vet to protect herself. That’s what I told your mother. That’s what I told myself. But we both knew there was something beneath. Something we could feel.

The final straw that something was not right happened this last weekend. Koko bolted out of the house and attacked the neighbors dog. A small fluffy animal no larger than a child’s stuffed animal and she took it in her mouth and shook it like she meant to kill it. She shook it so viciously that I was shocked by it and was sure she would kill it. I was appalled that my gentle Koko would do such a thing. Then the owner of the dog stepped in to save his pet and she tried to bite him.

And I stepped in.

And she tried to bite me. She had never done that.

I want you both to know that the the fury in her bared snapping teeth and wide eyes staring at me, staring INTO mine scared me. I had never had a dog of my own ever scare me like that.

It was not any easy decision for us and it was not one made in haste or without discussing with the vet or the trainer.

In no way did I ever want to have a dog in my house that could hurt you and I didn’t want to give her away knowing she could hurt someone else. So we decided to have her put to sleep.

I have only had to do this once before when my dog Bear was so sick she was dying and it was to stop her pain that I chose to put her to sleep. Never have I consciously chosen to put an animal to sleep for any other reason. This breaks my heart to tell you that she is gone because of this. Because I called the vet. Because I drove her there. Because I gave her the tranquilizers.

I did this because I love you all so very much.

And I loved her very much. And I sat with her. I held her and I talked to her until she was gone. And I cried over our loss. And it breaks my heart. And I will always remember her as a loving member of this family as you should too.

From September 2008

Remember how she slept with her paws crossed.
Remember how she ate your Bubbles and drank from your baths no matter how dirty and soapy they were.
Remember how whenever we played on the floor she wanted to play too.
Remember how she would NEVER bring back the tennis ball when you threw it.

Remember the good things about her. I will because there were so many more great times with her than bad.

From 1-18-2009

So when you are old enough to read this and to understand, I hope you can forgive me and understand why I did not tell you the truth.

Understand that it hurt me to say goodnight to Koko one last time.

Dad.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Hang On, We’re Almost at 50!

No, no, I’m not talking about age here. Well, I guess in a way I am.

Greg has a way of wearing me down when it comes to getting new stuff. It generally takes me a while to warm up to the idea of purchasing something like an iPhone, or a shed for the yard, or new tires on the car. Greg likes to tell the story about how I really didn’t think we needed to get a DVR when they first came out, but he kept talking about it, sending me emails, researching the product, hinting at it, and playing the recording of how great it would be while I slept to stir the subconscious consumer beast within.

And it works. I love our DVR. (So does my bladder.) And my iPhone. And the shed for the yard. OK, the new tires aren’t very exciting but they do provide quite the peace of mind.

To date, he has gotten several new laptops, a motorcycle, and the DVR this way. I am certain he will soon be getting his own iPhone since he has been bombarding me with hints (subtle and not so subtle) so that I cave or go crazy, or both. It’s not that I don’t want him or us to have nice or new things. It’s not that at all. I just prefer to get things at a much discounted rate at garage sales. Waiting to see an iPhone on a card table in front of someone’s house on a Saturday morning may take too long for Greg though. Go figure. *Shrug.*

His latest burning desire, well, besides me (wink, wink, nudge, nudge), is being presented to me over and over and over and over again with a slightly different angle this time. THIS time it’s all about Greg feeling old. He has declared himself in the throws of a mid-life crisis. And what would soften this self-imposed blow? Thankfully, it is not a Corvette and an 18 year-old (although we ALL know how he likes them young. JUST KIDDING!). No, he has no desire for the sports car or a fling. Thank FSM. Instead, the ONLY thing that will successfully ease the pain of this transition is a VW bus. That’s right. The man wants to turn himself into a hippy. Thankfully, he wants the family along for the groovy ride.

So over the last few months, during the depths of despair of his self-professed mid-life crisis, Greg has thoroughly researched what years are better than others, which engines have a little more umph, which ones had an A/C option, and which ones can have an after-market three-point harness installed to match today’s seat belt standards. Over these last few months, he has sent me many (and by many, I mean TONS) of pictures of buses for sale. You see, he is wearing me down.

Then last week, he firmly planted me on Team Mid-Life Crisis. He’s flung me, albeit gently, into pro-bus mode. How did he triumph, you ask? He took me to look at one. You see, there is a soft spot in my heart for these little gems. My mother and I traveled from El Paso up into Canada and back down the coast over a two month period in one of these things when I was growing up. Not only did we take on the open road, singing 100 Bottles of Bear on the Wall, we did this trip twice, once when I was about 8 and again at 15. As a child I used to love sprawling out in the back while my mom drove us to our next destination. (Of course, my kids will be firmly planted in their 5-point harness cages car seats.) Camping and crabbing on the sand dunes of Dillon Beach was by far the best time we had in our little bus. It really does bring back great memories.

So we’re actively making plans for a purchase (and subsequent sale of our current mommy-mobile). Now I am just trying get my lead foot to understand that “giving her all she’s got” means, we’re almost at 50 mph!

Greg's mid-life crisis vehicle. Oh, and I am also practicing my Spicoli-sounding version of, “Duuuuuuuuude.” I’m getting pretty good. It’s actually a little uncanny.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

If I Say Yes, I Get What I Want, Right?

My children don’t listen to me. Nope. Instead they have figured out when to nod, when to say yes or no, and how to wait to roll their eyes until I’ve turned my head, all in such a way that makes me believe they are listening to me and soaking in the wisdom that as a parent I am suddenly dispensing so liberally.

Today was an example of such sly behavior from my children, Emily in particular. Each year we go up to “open camp” for Greg’s family’s campsite, a job which entails raking up a year’s worth of pine needles over a good chunk of land and disposing of them, taking down the 5th wheel’s winter roof, and setting up the outdoor sitting area. Yeah, I know, some of you are probably thinking camping and 5th wheel don’t belong in the same sentence. To that I say, “Get your Grizzly Adams lovin’ self out of my face and leave city-loving folk like me to their own kind of camping. Pfffft.”

Back to why my children are atrocious listeners… On our way up to camp this morning, Greg needed to nurse a hangover with some greasy food, so we stopped at the place that serves grease with a side of breakfast better than anywhere. McDonald’s. As Greg hopped out of the car, the kids said they wanted hash browns, aka grease served in an golden oval piece of potato-ish substance. The kids had already had breakfast. And a snack. It was 9:45 in the morning, but they still wanted something from the “lunch house.” Greg walked away, and I told the kids that they might have to share a hash brown. Emily, three-year-old Emily, Emily with a fierce stubborn streak, wasn’t down with that. She insisted that she wanted her OWN hash brown. Our “conversation” went like this:

Emily: I want my *own* hash brown.
Me: Emily, you and Braedyn may have to share a hash brown. You’ve already eaten. This is just a treat.
Emily: But, I want my own hash brown. I want my own hash brown, Mommy. Mommy, I want my *own* hash brown.
Me: Emily. You will get what you get and you will appreciate it. Whatever Daddy…
Emily: But I want my own hash brown.
Me: EMILY. You will get what you get and you will be appreciative of whatever Daddy brings...
Emily: But I want my own hash brown. Mommy, um, I want my own hash brown.
Me: EMILY! I don’t know what Daddy is going to get, but whatever he brings back, you will tell him “thank you.” Do you under…
Emily: I’m trying to talk to you, Mommy. Mommy, I want my own…
Me: Emily! Do you understand what I am saying?
Emily: I’m trying to talk to you, Mommy!
Me: You can talk to me AFTER you let me know you understand what I am telling you. Do you understand what I said?
Emily: <Silence.>
Me: Do you understand?
Emily: YES!
Me: OK, now you can talk to me, Emily. Thank you.
Emily: Mommy? Um. I want my own hash brown.

Greg came back with a hash brown for each kid. So, spoiled, STUBBORN Emily got this:

golden oval piece of potato-ish substance

And after that, I so needed this:

Lucious, Cheap Box Wine