Saturday, December 31, 2011

Finding Stray Arrows

On my walk to work, I met a fellow who shouted to me from across the street.

"I've always wanted to find a stray arrow," he said as he held up a thin blue arrow for me to see.  "I found one! Isn't it amazing? I've looked and looked and today I found one!"

I agreed it was amazing.

"This is going to be a good year.  I found a stray arrow!"  He happily continued his walk, clutching his prize and talking to people he passed.

I smiled all the way to work.  His joy at finding a stray arrow was infectious.

Although, I did wonder how the arrow ended up stray in the first place....when I googled searched the term "stray arrow" it does not pull up happy stories!  Mine might be the only one!

While I didn't find a stray arrow, I did find the top of my desk (I put my clothes away) and I did find my bag of greeting cards (I had a list of people I wanted to send notes to) and I did find my desire to sit at my desk and finish our 2010 summer vacation album.

So, I agree.  This year is going to be a good one!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Tree Trimming In Reverse

On my morning walk today, I saw my first post-Christmas tree out on the curb.  I know some people take the tree down the day after, some have all the Christmas things packed up by New Years Eve.  That is not me!  The tree is a once a year event.  It goes up Thanksgiving weekend and it doesn't come down until the New Year has started.

Every morning the tree is in our house, I start my day by turning on the lights.  Before I let out the dogs, start coffee or really wipe the sleep from my eyes, I want to see the glow of multi-colored lights gleaming off shiny ornaments.  I want to sit in the living room, looking at the tree, my eyes tracing the shapes of familiar tree trimmings, my mind recalling memories attached to those ornaments.

The elephant ornament I got in high school, that has survived 5 moves, one decorated tree toppling over, and a leaky basement that ruined lesser ornaments.....our son's 4 month old hand print.....our daughter's 4 month old foot print (because after the hand printing fiasco, we thought feet would be easier!).....our first Christmas ornament.....handmade ornaments from the kids....

These things only have one time to shine, and I'm going to enjoy it for all it's worth.  I'm a firm believer in letting Christmas linger just a little bit more!  I'm also a firm believer that if you let your tree stay up longer than January 10th, you look crazy.

Look for my tree to be kicked out the front door about January 9th.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Dining In The Sky

There are parts of the Pacific Northwest that are so normal and everyday to me, they fade into the background.  The Space Needle.  Pike Place. Mt Rainier.  Starbucks.  I have taken the view in from the top of the Space Needle.  I have walked through Pike Place.  I have see the brilliant sunshine reflecting off the white caps of Mt Rainier.  I'll take Starbucks over a regular cup of Joe, anytime.

But I get so used to seeing those things, to claiming them as parts of my backyard, it is easy to lose the awe they actually can inspire.  (Okay, maybe Starbucks doesn't inspire awe, but when you are mocha deprived, in the wild backwoods of our lovely country, and you stumble upon a Starbucks, believe me, it is Awesome!)

For Christmas this year, my husband suggested we buy ourselves a date.  Not just dinner and a movie, but something really special.  We usually do a dinner cruise around the Sound when we are feeling the need to spiff up and be romantic, but that wasn't special enough.  My husband came back with the idea of dining at the top of the Space Needle.

I'd never thought to do that.  I'm not a tourist!  Isn't that a tourist thing to do?

Well, if it is, I don't care.  We started our night with a quick visit to my new puppy niece (she's so freaking cute it was hard to leave without her!) and then we made our way to the Space Needle.  Valet parking saved us our usual fight over parking, we checked in and got our beeper, then went up to the observation deck.  My husband wanted to go outside and walk around, but I said not before dinner.  After dinner I wouldn't care what the wind did to my hair!  

The view is spectacular.  The city is decked out with Christmas lights and it has a magical look about it.  We were very lucky to be seated by a window for dinner.  As the room rotated, we got to take in all of the beauty of the city and her lights and decorations.  The food was spectacular, and in spite of my inclination to get sea sick, car sick, and motion sick, I did not get sick with the rotation or with the swaying that happens at the top of Space Needle (seriously, it was really windy last night).  

We ate too much, of course, and when our plates were set down, we both felt like we were Padma and Tom from Top Chef.  It was so much fun!  And after dinner, and a dessert that is a Space Needle secret (everyone should get one and just suffer through the embarrassment for the sake of saying you've had it!), we walked out onto the outer deck, and it was very cold and windy and I was worried that my skirt was going to flip up, but it was so worth it.

Maybe this new year should be a year of experiencing the PNW for all the greatness it possesses, and not just letting things be a landmark I check off as I drive home.  I'm kind of excited about that!  First up on my list of things I'd like to see is the Beckstrom Log Cabin in Bothell.  And on the way there, we could stop at Starbucks......

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Third Verse, Same As The First

What on earth is going on with our dogs this year?  They are determined to spend this holiday season sick as, well, sick as dogs.  First our youngest dog ate chocolate.  Then our oldest dog spent all of one night crying and barking to be let out, and every time we let her out, she tried to eat garbage in such an obsessive fashion that we were positive she was out of her mind.  But let's make it a trifecta, with our middle problem-less dog being a problem.

It's 4:30am again, and once again my husband and I were up with a sick dog.  She's running in and out her dog door, she's barking, she's playing, she's puking, she's back to running, and finally, at 6:00, she crawls under the covers of our bed and falls asleep.

But by 6:00, I'm wide awake and so is my husband.  We drink coffee, talk, and watch a National Geographic show all about the African Painted Dog, because we are that dog crazy, and then fell asleep on the couch, waking up to find a different show on, all about a leopard who couldn't catch a break or an impala.

While it's been fun, and tells a good story, 4:30am and sick dogs are starting to wear on me.  That's a good thing because my sister showed off pictures of her new puppy (Elsie Henrietta Ice-Cream) and I had felt the faint brush of that crazed urge for a puppy.....

That urge died at about 4:45 this morning!


Tuesday, December 27, 2011

For Whom The Dogs Bark

Hey, you girls walking a muzzled dog, if you are wondering what the three dogs in our yard are barking at so frantically and intensely and so loudly, it's, um, it's you.  Stopping to ponder why two Beagles and ball of fluff Badger are barking  is actually going to make things worse.

Ah, yes.  There we go!  Increased volume, which I didn't think possible, and a pitch that borders on too high.

While I am not an expert dog walker, I've been doing it for some time, with three dogs to boot, and what I know is I never, ever, stop or slow down when I'm by a house where a dog resides.  And I know where all those houses are on our route.

I know you girls know three really barky dogs live here.  Please, it's too early to get them in a frenzy.  Please, just walk on.  Drag your dog away if you have to, but please, move on!

Oh.  You are trying to pick up after your dog, in the dark, with one of those bags that won't open no matter how you fiddle with it.  Well then.  Carry on.

And, thank you!

Monday, December 26, 2011

It's The Day After

It's the day after Christmas, and I am drinking coffee and eating my Grandma's super fantastic best in the world Lemon Bars for breakfast....because even though I said I'd be back on the good food wagon this day after Christmas, I can't, and do not want to, resist Grandma's Lemon Bars.  Besides, I walked 1.5 miles this morning and Lemon Bars aren't going to last forever.  I need to eat them while the eating is good!

So I eat dessert for breakfast and listen to Christmas music and think on how yesterday was really a good day. I hadn't been joking when I told the kids their stocking would be stuffed with candy, socks and underwear, and they still love me.  We surprised them with their gifts under the tree, which is a very rare, wonderful event and the one gift they expected (clothes!) all fit perfectly and were worn all day.  We saw family we don't get to see very often, and we ate some delicious food.  More than some actually!  I figured out a wooden brain teaser puzzle that was stumping everyone, even when we all looked at the solution, and that of course made me feel like my 37 year old Mom brain is actually in tip top shape.

And I ended the night on the couch, with my feet in my husbands lap, sharing a box of chocolates that he had cut into halfsies so I could see what every single center looked like before I ate it.....partly due to being allergic to walnuts and not wanting my tongue to swell, and partly because I am willing to share half of something that's really good.....watching Top Chef on demand, trying to catch up with my show.

It's the day after a great Christmas, and I don't have to work.  I'm going to savor my Lemon Bar and sip my coffee and thank God for all the blessings in my life.  Not the least of which is a Grandma who makes kick ass Lemon Bars!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

A Merry Christmas

It is a very Merry Christmas indeed......


Now to get back to the party!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Help In The Kitchen

As I'm cutting out "The Best Butter Cookie Ever" for tonight's Christmas Eve party, I feel a tug on my apron.  I look down and I see this lovely girl, begging for a chance to help.

My teenagers are upstairs sound asleep, my husband is in the shower, but I am not alone.  Emma Beagle is positive I could use a little bit of help with the rolling out of dough.  Or taste testing the dough.  Helpful stuff like that.....

And so after the cookies were cooled off (she can't eat anything hot otherwise she gets sick and it is the bane of her existence on pancake mornings), she got a tiny cookie of her very own.

It was like giving a Mouse a cookie.....she asked for a glass of milk and another cookie.

Friday, December 23, 2011

I Have Decked My Halls

I have decked my halls......
Now it's time to deck their halls.....
One done, 13 more to go.....
14 finished Christmas bouquets....
My Dad
I visit my Dad first.  Then Grandma D, Grandpa Dave, Aunt Susie.  Uncle Frank.   Great-Uncle Carl and his wife Marjorie.  My Nelson Great-Grandparents.  My Step-Grandparents.  Great Uncle Jack.  My Ensign Great-Grandparents.


Traditions are a funny thing.  How did they start?  When did I become this person who makes the bouquets at Christmas and Memorial day?  I'm not sure, but I don't mind.  It turns out, it's not Christmas for me, really, until I have covered my table with evergreen branches, tiny almost invisible spiders clinging to them, found Christmas ribbon and scissors and wire cutters and duct tape, and made my evergreen bundles.  

Then a short drive to our cemetery, and a carefully organized delivery to each and every loved one who has gone before.  Now, I have decked all the halls. Now, it is Christmas.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Where Is My.....?

My husband is the worst looker for things in the history of the world.  When he casually glances around, and doesn't see what he's looking for, he immediately gives up.  It's stolen, he'll say.  It's gone forever, he'll state.  I will respond with the usual query, "Have you looked?"

Humph!  Of course he's looked.  He's got eye balls that work.  Gee Whiz!  The thing is, I'm not too sure he's looking or his eyes work.

His iPod that was missing for days, and he even told his Mom in a long distance phone call that it was gone, gone, gone, was actually in his sweatshirt pocket.  I looked there first and found it.  His truck keys were once missing for ages.  We all looked around the house and just when I was thinking yes, they are gone, I went back to the key rack, realized my daughters open backpack was propped up, open, ready to catch anything that fell and sure enough. there was his key.

He also was searching a gravel parking lot awhile back, looking for his work key that he was positive fell out of the truck one late night.  Our son found that key in the truck where it had been the whole time.

But this morning takes the cake!  My husband comes to the table with his cereal and coffee, sets it down in his place, then goes off looking for something.  As his cereal gets soggy, he finally asks, "Babe, have you seen my book?"

The book that is sitting right by your breakfast?  That book?  The one in plain sight, not buried under paper or sitting behind the flower vase?  Yes, I think I know where it is.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

I Lie Everytime

Every single time I go to the local fabric-craft store, I lie.  As the clerk cuts my fabric, she'll ask what I'm making.  I lie.  At check out, when the clerk is handling all my craft supplies and is curious as to what I'm making, I lie.

I don't know why exactly, it's not like they are stealing my idea. They are just being friendly, helpful, curious people.  And I do not want them up in my business.

Last time I was at the cutting counter, the clerk commented on the amount of fabric I was asking for, as in, this  much can't be right.  It was a little too much, but frankly, I'm not a confident seamstress.  I'm a half-ass one, where I don't understand all the directions and I make things up as I go and so far it's resulted in an awesome Dorothy Gale dress and my daughter using my techniques to make her own poodle skirt.

So, I lied and said I needed the extra for Christmas crafts.

Or when the clerk asked me what all the Christmas notions were for and did I realize that these things on 70% clearance sale are unreturnable....I said I wasn't planning on returning them, I am planning on using them, and they are for a craft for little kids.

It's actually for my kids Christmas gift project.

It's a weird quirk, but after 20 years of doing my own craft shopping and giving half truths every time, I know I'm not going to stop anytime soon.  When I go in with my daughter, I give her a heads up.

I'm going to lie when asked what I'm making.  Forgive me for the bad example I'm setting!  I've got a stamp on the very marrow of my bones that states quite clearly, "Does Not Play Well With Others," and this just falls into that category.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Why I Don't Need Another Puppy

I don't need another puppy, but not for the obvious reason of having three dogs already, and if I get one more I start tipping the scale to the wrong side of being a hoarder.  No, the reason I don't need another puppy is the simple fact that our home is overrun with teenage boys, and they are really like big puppies.  I get my puppy fix by watching them trip over each other while they wrestle around, just like a litter of puppies.

I've tried to not be too mothering as the kids got older, to tamp down my natural mom senses and my desire to make sure they are tucked in all warm and cozy.  When they have friends over, bedtime is usually so far past my wakefulness, I couldn't go tuck them in even if I was in a mind to.  I had worried a little over how they were sleeping, who had the bed, who was on the fold out couch, did they have enough blankets and pillows....

That worry is not necessary for the boys.  They stay up so late, sitting on the couch and floor, that when they start falling asleep, they usually sleep where they drop, all together in a pile.  Someone will pull a blanket over them and they call it good, kind of reminds me a  litter of puppies.

My teenage boys are boisterous, mischievous, sweetly tempered bundles of three-quarters grown energy.  I don't need to add another living thing to our house that will find things to do that are accidentally destructive.  They boys are taking care of that!  And they are just so darn cute, it's hard to stay mad when they look at me with their big eyes....

I'm just a sucker for puppies and cute kids, I guess!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Together Again

Every year I search the shops for a pair of perfect ornaments to slip into my children's stockings.  They know they are getting one every year, it is not a surprise exactly.  Some years they are the same ornament, different colors.  Some years a child has asked for a specific ornament, such as a treble clef, and the other child has not wanted a musically inclined ornament, so those years have been completely different.

But my favorite pair is Santa and Mrs Claus.  Santa belongs to my son, Mrs. Claus to my daughter, and more often than not, when hung on the tree they are far, far apart.  I don't think my kids view them as a set, a matched pair, a couple, so they get hung wherever there is a spot.

This is the first year that the kids did not hang every ornament in their box.  The food table beckoned, the music was good, Dad was telling funny stories, and Mom was filling the tree with every single ornament in her boxes, making it hard to find a good spot for anyone else.  (So my family says....somehow, I always can find a spot!)  I asked if I could hang some of their ornaments myself, and when the answer was yes, I knew which two I wanted.

Santa and Mrs Claus are together again, and I'll be honest, they are my favorite thing to look at while I sit in the living room, sipping coffee, listening to Christmas music, with the glow of the tree lights making the room feel delightfully warm and cozy.

I remember I was shopping with my Mom, saw those two ornaments and knew they were the ones I wanted.  I remember looking at them hanging separately all these years, slightly wishing I was the kind of Christmas tree decorating mother that moved ornaments to the spot I deemed acceptable, instead of the the kind that has let the kids ornaments hang where they were first hung.

I tried to imagine the year, years from now, when Santa and Mrs Claus won't be part of my tree, but will be part of my grown up children's trees......and I decided I don't have time for that.  I have time to enjoy this moment, this here and now, this viewing of Santa and Mrs Claus, and this time is very good.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Oops, I Did It Again

As we were cleaning up from our rocking party last night, my daughter and I ventured out to the parking lot to get a bag from our car. In the dark, I never saw the curb coming and ended up sprawled out on the parking lot, saying "I'm hurt, I'm hurt!" in a ridiculous way.

Now, even at the time I knew this was funny. Ironically funny because I had just been thinking I haven't tripped in almost a year and funny funny because I was lying in a parking space, all togged out in 50's gear, while my poodle skirted daughter stood over me.  That tickled my uninjured funny bone....

But my knees are scrapped (again) and the top of my foot too, both hands (which means I can not under any circumstances wash dishes) and bruises are all ready forming.  It's not bad, really.  I've suffered much worse skinned knee injuries.


I think the best part might be that I'd just shared a story of berry picking with my Mom when I was young, and upon learning she thought she'd heard a bear in the woods, I turned to run and tripped instead (it's a life long affliction) and had a raised scar on my knee for years as a reminder.

Did I need a skinned knee scar reminder of last night's birthday bash?  Nope.  Last night turned out great and I'd have remembered it just fine without any help from injuries!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

We're Going To Party Like It's The 50's

And we're going to party like it's your birthday....Tonight we are going to celebrate my Mom's 60th birthday with a 50's themed party. Being as she is a Christmas Eve baby, we've always had her birthday and Christmas together. But not this year.

This year is big, this year is huge, this year we are going to par-tay! We're going with a pink color scheme, because apparently, before Julia Roberts claimed it in Steel Magnolias, my Mom's signature color was pink. We've got balloons to inflate, crepe paper to stream, poodles to cut out, pictures to hang......

Today is going to be spent running around like chickens with our heads cut off. Maybe my sisters have it more together than me (I really, really hope so!) but I was up at 7 this morning, trying to gather my wits.

Wits are ungathered, headless chicken running is about to ensue.

But it's going to be one hell of a party....

Happy Birthday, Mom! Love you!!!

Friday, December 16, 2011

My Messy Bedroom

I've been feeling slightly guilty that I posted about my daughters messy, messy room, when my own bedroom is in fact the messiest room in the entire downstairs of our home. I am all about fairness and to be fair to her, I will admit that my room is a disaster only slightly better than hers because you can see my floor. I tend to make a mess on top of things.

I never seem to find time to put my clothes away so they stack up on my dresser. My desk, which I really wish was not in my room but is way too big to get through the doorway of our newly floored bonus room, is the catchall of everything. Found a pair of scissors? Put it on my desk. A scrap of paper I think I might need later? My desk. All my photo's and scrap booking things are collecting dust (I resolve right now to get caught up with that project in the new year). My vanity has rubber bands, hair clips and claws, headbands strewn all over it, and also an insane amount strands of lost hair everywhere, but I can never find the right hair accessory when I need it.

And I won't even get started on how I never hang my necklaces back up, just leave them to tangle in a serpentine mess.

If I'm being honest, and today I feel like I should be, my daughter comes by her messy room honestly. She's watched me follow my own rule for her, which is, the bedroom mess is fine as long as I can close the door and hide it from company!

Last I checked, the door still closes perfectly.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

4:30AM With A Sick Dog

In the early hours this morning, my husband and I were woken up by a little dog's shrill barks. Okay, to be honest, my husband was woken up. I was sound asleep and only barely aware that he got up. I woke up completely when my husband came back into our room, and said, "Honey, I need some help. Olive is sick."

I jumped out of bed in an instant, and what I saw in the kitchen will haunt me for all my days...... Vomit. From one end of the room to the other and from side to side.

And there was our sick little dog, gulping down water like it was going out of style.

"That can't be normal," I said, pointing to her as she drained her water bowl.

"Does that look like chocolate?" my husband asked, pointing to the vomit puddles.

Oh No.

A quick google search confirmed excessive thirst and extreme vomiting are signs of chocolate poisoning, and a quick search of the cupboards revealed a missing half bag of chocolate chips. My husband put on his boots and coat, took up a flashlight, and searched the yard for the bag. He returned victorious, unfortunately.

One call to the emergency vet later, we know that 6 oz of chocolate chips, ingested by a 15 pound dog, will probably not kill her. She will be really, really, really sick, but she should be okay.

So we bathed Olive (me) and mopped the floors several times (my husband), put on a pot of coffee, let the other two dogs out of their crates, covered the couches with towels, turned on the TV to America's Funniest Home Videos (that's how tired we were, after 90 minutes of clean up, AFHV was the most hilarious thing we've ever seen) and settled down with one sick little pup.

When she rolled over to snooze on her back, totally relaxed and resting, we breathed a huge sigh of relief. She's going to be okay.

I need to mop the floors again. Now that the vomit phase has passed, I really feel the floors could use another hot, sanitizing scrub. And then, maybe a nap. 4:30am and I are not usually acquainted and I'll be real honest, we're never going to be friends.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Is Daily Blogging Killing My Christmas Letter?

I know I am a procrastinator; I always put things off that can wait till tomorrow, or the day after tomorrow, instead of doing them ahead of time. Case in point, my daughter's poodle skirt that she wants to wear to a party THIS Saturday is still in it's most basic form....the fabric and pattern are still in the store bag.

Same goes for my Christmas letter. Every year I think of a million different things I will put in the letter. I have to restrain myself from starting it in the fall because I'm a little superstitious, and I think fate will think I'm thumbing my nose at it if I get ready for Christmas so far in advance.

Then it's go time. Cards are purchased. Pictures are ordered. The keyboard is dusted. Word is a blank page waiting to be filled. And I can't think of a single thing to write. This year feels particularly bad and I can't help but wonder if it's daily blogging that's killing my creativity? Is writing what I'm thinking every single day draining my well of wit?

Cuz, my Christmas letter is pretty darn good. Funny and brilliant, even. The kind of letter that makes people smile and wish they had Beagles.

I will work on it today at lunch. Or tomorrow. Tomorrow for sure....

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Tonight We Celebrate!

Last night was not much fun, this morning was gray and cold, and I had to get my daughter to a job shadow (one of many requirements for graduation) and then work, and all I wanted to do was go home, put my comfy pants on and read a book.

Today was shaping up to be a no-good kind of a day, in which I wear my worried pants that quickly pinch into cranky pants, but then my husband texted me with good news. Great news. Exciting news.

He has a job offer.

Tonight, we celebrate!

All that other silly stuff, the cold weather, the empty gas tank, the weird kitchen smell, the uncomfortable chair I sat in at work, all of that has faded away and I am doing a dance of pure joy!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Tonight I Did Not Want To Cook Dinner

Tonight, I really did not want to cook dinner. I realized half way through my day that I had forgotten to take chicken out to thaw, and the dinner plan kind of hinged on chicken. That meant I'd be making up a plan on the fly, and while some nights I totally rock at that, I knew tonight was not going to be one of those inspiration filled nights.

After a long day, while I was sitting in the freezing cold car waiting for the defrost to kick in, I had time to think about dinner. I thought and thought and thought and thought.....and decided to use up the Costco size bag of potato rolls someone gave us and while I was loving heating them up for lunch and eating 2 with butter melting into their golden yummy-ness, I knew I needed to get the rest of the family to eat them (to save me from myself).

Mini tuna melts, pressed flat on the George Forman Grill (yes, I have one, and yes, I use it exclusively for grilled sandwiches and never for "healthy" cuts of meat) and voila, dinner was served.

And it wasn't bad. But tonight I have neither a Martha or a Mary spirit about me. I'm more like that cranky, crazy lady who storms into the grocery store and demands her money back for the loaf of "fresh baked" bakery bread that baked up lovely on the outside, and a big old hole on the inside, rendering it useless for sandwiches and human use. And yes, that's me too.

I'm on a roll tonight. A potato roll.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Being Martha Pretending To Be Mary

It's so hard to be a Martha all the way down to the roots of my soul, while pretending to be a Mary. Growing up, I've suffered through so many women's Bible studies that focused on how we should be more like Mary, setting aside the work and sitting at the feet of Jesus.

I've always read the story differently. I've identified with Martha, trying to get food ready and the house presentable, and thinking her sister Mary would be a help, but actually, her sister ditched her and the work. (Not that my sisters are work ditchers! They are great!) People need to eat, even Jesus did, and if both sisters sat down, who would have been making the food? The work still needs to get done and I can't rest or relax when the to do list is so glaringly undone.

Yesterday I tried so hard to be Mary, to ignore the dirty dishes stacked on the counter, and the cookies cooling on their baking sheets, and the dinner not quite ready to go in the oven, and instead focus on visiting with my husband's Grandmother, who drove hours to come visit us. My mind kept darting back to the work needing to be finished, worrying over how I would get dinner served with NO CLEAN DRINKING GLASSES.

I kept thinking to myself, "Be more like Mary. Set aside the work. Focus on your guests." It was like wearing a Mary suit, one that was so tight and itchy that I was about to go crazy with feeling stifled.

At the end of the day, I decided I will just embrace my Martha-ness. I want the kitchen clean, the food ready, then I can sit down and enjoy my guests. I'm just not cut out to focus on guests, or Jesus, when I have things that need to be done.

Which is why I was washing dishes at the same time I was getting dinner ready to serve. I felt so much better, free-er, putting my work to rights. When I sat down at dinner, I sat down ready to sit at the feet of Jesus....or around the table with family. The Martha in me was satisfied.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Choosing "Declines To Answer"

I might have a bit of a Mountain Man Recluse gene running through my body....a bit of the desire to be left alone by Big Brother. What business is it of His what race I am? Big Brother wants to know and I question why exactly that is.

I might have a bit of a Hippie Love Child gene running through my body.....a bit of a desire to be color blind. What difference should the color of my skin make? We are all the same, equal, brothers.

These two warring factions collide inside me, but quickly piece out that they both want the same thing: do not answer that question.

So I check "declines to answer" and feel better for it.

Friday, December 9, 2011

To My Lost Yogurt: Sorry

To my lost yogurt, the one I took to the office last week but didn't eat, I am sorry. I have lost you. Either you are buried in the back, behind bags and containers filled with questionable food like substances, or someone stole you even though you were clearly marked with my name or possibly the worse scenario, I ate you and just don't remember.

I packed my lunch today thinking of the peach yogurt I'd left at work, and counting on said yogurt to fill in for my sweet tooth's demands. But when I looked in the fridge, lost yogurt, you were gone. I was too scared of the rumors of bad smells (I was holding my breath) to stand there for too long with the door open and I was wearing too short of a skirt to bend down and really dig through the leftovers.

So, dearly missed lost yogurt, I closed the fridge, ate my half sandwich, my apple, and about 4 mint cookies someone brought to the office, fuming at the fridge mess, fuming at the possibility that someone took you and enjoyed your peachy goodness, silent at the idea that I might have eaten you last week. Like on Friday? When I was hungry after lunch? I can't remember and so I will be quiet and not throw crazy yogurt stealing accusations around the office water cooler.

I'll quietly think those crazy accusations, but I won't say them out loud. And if I'm wrong, and if someday an archaeology team unearths my lost yogurt from the depths of the office fridge, well, just take comfort in the fact that you, lost yogurt, were sorely missed this Friday at lunch.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Last Night I Fell Asleep

As a teenager, I knew when I came home, my Mom would be awake. I knew she wouldn't sleep soundly until all of her girls were home. I remember hearing her soft whisper, asking me how my night had gone, did I have fun, did I lock the door? Her being awake was just what moms do.

I know she was awake partly due to nagging worries that didn't let her rest until we were safely back in the shelter of our home, and I know that I have forced myself to take those same worries that sprouted when I gave birth and realized that I had not actually understood love until I held my baby for the first time and shove them into a locked box and wrap that box of worries in a ton of chains and not let it be opened. Ever.

When my son hit the age of later curfews, and doing things like going to Seattle for a concert, I thought my box would break open and I'd be awake, worried, wondering, waiting, for him to come home. I know what a late night knock at the door feels like, and sometimes the knowledge of that is hard to live with and impossible to sleep with.

Last night I knew he would be out late, I knew I had no idea when he'd get home, and I knew I was tired. I went to bed at our normal time, texting him that we were going to bed, the door was unlocked for him, and would he stop by our room to let us know when he got home....and then I laid down, turned out the lights, and fell asleep.

Slept peacefully and was barely aware of him knocking on our door to tell us he was back.

I am sitting here this morning not sure if that's a good thing or not. I have such good memories of my Mom awake, ready to hear all the details of our night if we wanted to talk. My son comes home and I'm half sleep zombie....

But give me a cup of coffee in the morning, and I am all ears, ready to hear how a night of music in the big city went! If only he wasn't half sleep zombie this morning......

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Fanny Packs And Socks With Sandals

My daughter was searching through old photos last night, looking to put a family tree together for her French class. It was a fun time, with her oohing and aahing over her cute, chubby baby-ness, and her dad and I exchanging looks without words that clearly said, "She was a cute baby, but she is even cuter now."

Then she pulled out a picture of me at Disneyland, wearing an honest to goodness fanny pack, t-shirt snugly tucked into faded jeans, and white athletic socks worn with (fake) Birkenstocks. I was 19.

I tried to pass it off as the style of the time (early 90's) but my daughter was still hooting with disbelief. Yes, I was a teenager, and yes, I was wearing some items that today we associate with older people, but I honestly thought I looked great.

Still kind of do. I rocked the fanny pack, and being a true Pacific Northwest Girl, socks with sandals is part of the uniform.

And frankly, that was a good fashion time for me. I have had much worse. Much worse. Shudder inducing worse.

Thank goodness that is all behind me. Or, at least I hope it is. I might pull out pictures from this time in another 20 years and shake my head, wondering what I was thinking.....

I was thinking I make this look good!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

First Thing This Morning

The first thing I was aware of this morning is that I overslept. My son was knocking on our bedroom door asking why it was 6:30 and we hadn't gotten him up? Um....I can honestly say I don't know. I think I just forgot to set my alarm. We are off schedule, I feel guilty, and I rush into the kitchen to get coffee going because coffee makes my mornings so much better, when I am hit with a terrible sour smell.

Oh. No.

I forget about coffee and let our oldest dog out of her crate and I know without looking she has been sick in the middle of the night. And she's been stealing toothpicks and hiding them in her crate. I can see where that might have leftover food on it, and it's more understandable than the bobby pins our youngest dog has stashed in her crate. But still. How many toothpicks does one dog need?

My husband cleaned up the crate, but our Beagle still smelled bad. And she was smelling bad on my couch! Now, I am a dog lover through and through. I adore dogs, treasure dogs, squeal over puppies like other people squeal over babies, but in this instance, my thoughts were, "Get off the couch! You smell bad!"

Sorry, oldest Beagle Baby, it's bath time and since she is the worst bather of the three, I am soaked by the time I am through. But, she smells less sour and more wet dog with a hint of dog shampoo.

So much better. And the coffee has been made and the kids were not late for school and husband is off to work and I have an unexpected day off work and I am just going to put my feet up and read for a while. With a damp dog giving me accusing looks.

Monday, December 5, 2011

My Voice And The Use Thereof

My voice has called out in friendship, in love, in anger, in defiance. I have used it to praise, to punish, to adore, to defend, to comfort.

I have yelled and screamed and cried until my voice was hoarse. I have whispered kind words and harsh ones. I have spoken up, spoken out, spoken loud. I have shouted with glee, laughed till I cried, and let words of love slip from my lips as easy as breathing.

I have used my voice for 37 years for good and for bad. I wondered today if I will be aware of the change, the creeping in of a quivery note, when I am as old as the hills.

And I hope that when I am as old as the hills, I will look back on my years of noise and be pleased with the love, the kindness, the laughter, the joy, and yes, sometimes the sharpness, that I made with this voice.

Right now I'd just be pleased to sound like a grown up and not a kid with a head cold.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

A Tenet Of My Motherhood

When my kids were little, I cleaned up their room. I picked up their clothes (and washed, folded and put them away). I did quite a bit to make their space usable, livable, and in general a tidy place to be.

But from the moment my husband and I discussed children and our likely hood of being parents together, I said there will come a point in their lives when their rooms are their choice. I will not stress out about messy rooms. I will not fight over messy rooms. I will not beg and plead with messy rooms. I said as long as their mess stays in their room, and their door can be closed on it, we are all okay.

I still stand by that. Even though my daughters room is worse than ever, and she and I did have a fight over it (but it involved her taking my socks and losing them in her mess so it's not against my ideas), I will still let it be. She's 14. She understands that the mess is hers, that she is the reason she can't find her good earrings, and that dirty clothes no longer walk themselves downstairs (not that they ever really did that, but you know, some of the work Moms do is behind the scenes).

I also still stand by closing her door. Because as much as I believe it is her space, and it's not hurting anyone but her, it is really unpleasant to look at. With the bonus room next door to hers, everyone is trooping up the stairs to see the new room and in the process, we all get to see her disaster zone. I will be closing her door a lot more.

It all swirls back to a tenet of my motherhood: is it worth arguing over? No? Then I will let it go. I will love her and be proud of her and know that it might be a possible that I am raising a messy person and it also might be possible that she will outgrow this. I know my room when I was in high school was very messy. Look at me now! I look forward to my housecleaning days!

I bet my Mom never thought that was going to how I turned out based on my childhood room cleaning skills.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

If Any Of You Hobo's Touch My Stuff

If any of you Hobos touch my stuff, I'll kill you. Or rather, I'll have my husband kill you. Especially if you are looking particularly bite-y. I'm all for catching fellow spider brethren and setting them free outside (I'm talking to you Daddy Long Legs, even though you creep me out to the max) but for the biggest spider I've seen (maybe ever in this house), you are toast.

Sorry.

When my son beckoned me into the bathroom right after he turned on the shower, I was hesitant. Rightly so. This is what I saw. Minus the pencil, that was added later for dramatic effect.
Of course, I did what I am allowed to do, I ran to the bedroom and told my fearless (except when it comes to spiders and then he becomes courageous because of how much he dislikes spiders and still takes care of the problem) husband that he had to, absolutely, positively, must get up. Right now. We have a situation!

He takes a peek and says "Get the camera!" which is our response to most giant spider sightings. We are freaked out, but lets let the spider enjoy some limelight before we smash it.

It's hard to tell here, but it has all the markings of a female Hobo spider. Those things are not good to have hanging around in the house. My husband said it's been nice living here, but we've got to torch the place. (He really, really hates spiders). We all danced around the house and cringed when something as innocent as a dog tail brushed against us.

Even last night, I woke up twitching. My husband asked what was wrong. I said, "Hobo spiders are in bed with us." And he understood. It's the heebee jeebees and I've got it bad. I'd take a shower to wash the heebee jeebees away, but since that is where the Hobo spider was hanging out, I'm a little on edge when I go in there!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Snooze, Covers, Lights: Steps To Waking Up

There are steps I take to get up and going in the mornings. First, I have to hit the snooze button once, and one time only. I've purposely set the alarm so I can do that. It feels good to say just a few more minutes....but still get up on time.

Second, I have to throw back the covers. If I don't, I'm still cocooned in the lovely warmth of our bed, and I just can't break free. But when the covers are off, and I'm feeling the chillness, I know I've got to get up. At the very least, to warm up again!

Third, I turn on the light. At which point my husband rolls away from the light, groaning, and pulls the discarded covers back over him, falling asleep again. But by the time I've turned on the light, I'm awake. I'm up. I'm finding my slippers (and how is it that they are never together even though I take them off at the same time?) and I'm leaving our bedroom and going upstairs to rouse our sleeping kids out of their beds.

I turn on the hall light, I open their doors, I talk to them, and then I go downstairs to wait. I give them a ten minute snooze, then I call up the stairs for them to get up.

They take after their dad, rolling over and going back to sleep instantly, but they also take after me because when their ten minute snooze alarm goes off, they do get up. They just needed a few more minutes.....

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Why I Started Blogging

Four years ago I started my blog. Our family was in the midst of chaos, with my husband gearing up to deploy to Cuba and I was feeling adrift. It's hard to say goodbye to your best friend and know that months will elapse before you see him again.

I knew we'd have more communication lines open than we did when he was in Kuwait at the start of the war. We'd have regular email and snail mail and phone calls. But I felt the need to have something else, some place where I would write funny things I'd usually tell my husband at the end of our day.

So I started a blog. Secretly at first, just sharing it with my husband. I was half embarrassed by my need to write more. I mean, I was emailing and writing letters daily. How much writing did I need to do? My blog started to take the place of my journal and I shared it with my sisters and mom and mother in law and it trickled out from there. I posted several times a month, but never thought I could do it every day. Did I really have something to write about daily?

Turns out, I do! My husband still is my number one follower and there are mornings that his laughter over something funny I've posted literally makes my day better. I like blogging, I like posting my words and thoughts online for others to read. And now that I've posted daily for two months, it feels like part of my morning routine to do so. I will even put down my book (regardless of if I am a few pages from the end) to have time to write before work.

Now, that is commitment to blogging!

I'm going to continue posting daily. I may have started this blog as another way to write to my husband, but I'm blogging now because I have a plethora of words and ideas rolling around in my mind and I can't rest until I pour them out. I might not always be witty and funny, but I personally think I'm always interesting!

Dear Readers, thanks for thinking so too!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Albatross Room Gets A Floor

Our bonus room, that albatross room around our neck, has taken a huge step towards being complete! The new floor is installed, swept and mopped. Oh what joy, what bliss! All of our furniture has been moved out of the damp garage and back into the room. Ah, happiness!

The walls still are a work in progress, but the room is usable as is, evidenced by the kids. When I came home from work last night, four teenagers were sprawled out on the furniture, playing play station games, eating chips, having a good time.

When I went up to say goodnight to my kids, they were both in the bonus room doing their homework.

When we first moved in, and we stood on the bouncy floor in the extra room, with it's brick chimney and torn linoleum floor, this is exactly what I imagined: a hangout for our kids. A room for them to watch movies, play video games, do homework and just be.

It's already messy and that's totally okay with me. It's the mess of a room well used, instead of how it used to be....messy with unused junk and years of grimy dust. I'll take the mess of today, thank you!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Last Of The Strawberry Jam

Hindsight is 20/20 and I should listen to my mother more.

She asked if I wanted to make more strawberry jam. I looked at the jars and jars we'd filled, the jars I had stacked next to the dog food and in every available space in the overflow food cupboard, and I said no.

If I could, I'd go back to that moment and kick myself in the behind.

Because there is nothing in the world that compares to homemade strawberry jam, and we finished the last jar this past week.

If I could go back to that moment, I'd move some things and rearrange some things and I'd make room for another batch or two of jam.

Then I wouldn't be in this jam-less position. Okay, it's not jam-less, and before I discovered how much I love to make strawberry jam with my Mom, I had loved Smuckers. I still have Smuckers. It's just not the same.

The jam I made with my mom evoked memories of summer, of standing in her hot kitchen, mashing berries and laughing together, of being an adult but still being her child, so when it came to taking hot jars out of hot water, she did it so I wouldn't burn my fingers, of that magic moment when you hear the lid ping....

The last of the strawberry jam is a very sad thing!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Super Glue + Me = Fingers Glued Together

I will start at the beginning. About six months ago, a local housing community held their spring garage sale weekend. I went as always with my sister and my kids and found some great deals, including a ceramic dog wearing a Santa hat and holding a stocking in it's mouth. It was designed to sit on the edge of a shelf with the stocking hanging down. When I set it on my shelf in my room, for safe keeping, I thought this isn't so safe. This puppy is going to be knocked off by kids tossing dirty clothes into the nearby hamper or something of that sort.

I warned everyone that it was there, and to please be careful. And everyone was. Until about a month or so ago, and I was carrying a pile of sheets to the linen half of my closet, and the stocking caught in a fold of sheet and CRASH!

Thankful, the puppy separated into two parts, the stocking having broken off. That can be fixed with superglue. Easy. But since it wasn't Christmas time, I put both pieces aside in a safer place and went on with life.

Yesterday I was setting out Christmas decorations and thought of my Christmas dog. I got out the super glue and within a second of taking the lid off, I had glue on my hand. I succeeded in gluing the two parts back together, but also in gluing my pinkie and ring finger together. Solidly together. To get unstuck, I needed help from my husband and some stinging solvent, and patience.

That did not stop me from trying to super glue a shepherd's head back on later. I did not glue my fingers together that time. I glued my finger to the poor shepherd's head.

I've put the super glue away now. I will either live with broken, headless shepherds or I will ask someone with some better glue skills to help. Super glue and me spells disaster of gigantic proportions!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Amazing Expanding Christmas Tree

Somehow our family has fallen into the tradition of getting our Christmas tree the weekend after Thanksgiving. We didn't do this when we were kids, but in our grown up years, with the addition of husbands and kids, we all drive out to a tree farm, four cars, three dogs, five kids, two teenagers, 8 adults, and we all manage to find the perfect tree.

This year we went to a new tree farm, and while it didn't have a stone fireplace for a picturesque group photo, it has perfect tree after perfect tree after perfect tree. Which is a very good thing, since we are looking for four perfect trees.

I was the last to cut mine down. We'd find a good one, but then I'd look to my left or to my right or back the way I'd just walked and spy a tree that looked even better. So we'd leave one or both of our teens standing by the good tree and go look at the other good tree. Then we'd call the kids over and say okay, this new good tree is actually the perfect tree. This process happened five or six times. When we ended back at a tree we'd stood by before, I said just cut it down. My feet were soaked, everyone else had their tree and I was ready to have mine. Of course, after that ringing endorsement of it's perfection, I had doubts all the way home.

We get it inside, and it is very clear: it is perfect.

My only questions is, how did it grow so much on the drive home? I don't remember it being so tall or wide or huge at the tree farm.....
My big, perfect (amazing, expanding) tree!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Lost And Found Miracle

We moved from state to state many times during my childhood, leaving behind belongings to lighten our load, through garage sales and donation bins. I regret some things, but none compared to a fairy tale book my Aunt Susie had given me the Christmas I was 6.

When I was 14 and unpacked my boxes in my new room, my fairy tale book was not there. I couldn't remember where I'd had it last, and this last move we'd done was hectic and crazy and I wasn't there to pack my belongings. Did I give it away? Leave it somewhere? All I knew was it was not in the boxes labeled "Michelle's room."

I thought it might be in my step-dads boxes of books that were being stored in his parents attic. For six years I had this hope that my book would be there, miss-boxed. It will not shock anyone to learn that when I searched the boxes, my book was not there. My step-dad promised to send it to me if I had accidentally overlooked it and he found it when he unpacked the books for good.

No such luck there either.

So I have looked at every fairy tale book at every thrift store I have ever visited. I have poked around the books in antique stores and at garage sales. I wasn't looking for My book, with Aunt Susie's handwriting in it, but I just wanted a copy of it.

Twenty-three years of looking, of my sisters and Mom looking, and we remained empty handed.

When I heard my dogs barking, I wondered who could be coming to our door. My hair was in a towel, I was wearing grungy cleaning the house clothes, and the kitchen was post Thanksgiving messy, I was not ready for guests. I opened the door to my grandparents, and saw my Grandma holding a book in her hands.

I thought, "That book looks like my book." But Grandma didn't know I was looking for a book I couldn't remember the title of. What were the odds of her finding a fairy tale book somewhere and thinking I might like it? Then she handed it to me and said my cousin, who we lived by at the time of our last great move, had it and wondered if I would like it.

I opened the cover and saw my Aunt's handwriting, and I started to cry. I never in a million years thought I'd ever see that again and to have the book show up out of the blue after all this time....When I was 9, Aunt Susie was killed in a car accident. I still remember everything from that moment in time when our parents told us she had died......to open the book to see her handwriting after I'd long lost hope of finding my book in an unpacked box....

It's a miracle.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Giving Thanks

I will give thanks not just on Thanksgiving (thus this day after Thanksgiving thankful post).

I will give thanks for my husband and kids, my mom and sisters, my step-dad and grandparents, my in-laws and out-laws.

I will give thanks for the sunshine and the rain, for the blue sky and the mud puddles, for the ever green evergreens.

I will give thanks for my life, the love I have been given and the love I have shown. I will give thanks again and again and again and will try to give thanks in all things, in all times, in all weather.

I will give thanks.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

I Am Thankful For My Dogs

I've never been so thankful for my dogs than I am right now; these three fierce protectors, these mice scare-ers, rat chasers, chipmunk corner-ers, squirrel haters. I know for a fact that a mouse might try to make a nest in our laundry room, pretty cushy digs with the furnace blasting hot air and the dog food bag left open, but for our three dogs.

It begins with the barking, so much more barking than usual. It continues with the youngest and smallest dog taking a running leap onto the couch to hide under the shelter of my husbands arms. Then the middle sized dog must position herself on the couch so she can stare intently, nonstop staring, in the direction of the kitchen. And that cycle of steps will continue for quite awhile until I stand in the kitchen and watch the dogs and realize they are on point. They think something is in the laundry room.

So I will call my husband, who will give it a look see, encouraging the girls to "get it" but they won't be able to "get it". He will give up and I will take over, moving bags of charcoal, beach shovels, and the like, and I will see the girls stick their heads into a corner and I will look in that corner and see a nest like thing.

At which point my husband will come back and tell me it's not just a nest like thing, it is a nest, complete with some mouse poop. I will then move far away, and stand there ready with a baseball bat, and watch the girls run in and out of the laundry room, noses to the ground.

And after all of that, when my husband cleans the mouse nest out and says it was fairly new and with all the rain we've had and the slight flooding everywhere, he thinks it was a mouse who had to move his home to higher ground. There will be no evidence of a mouse anywhere else and after watching the girls sniff around the cleaned out corner then return to their sedate, sleepy, night time routine, I will sit in the living room, with my feet tucked up under me, and be so thankful I have three dogs who are born to chase small creatures.

Our house is overrun with dogs and teenagers, but not a single mouse, rat, chipmunk or squirrel is allowed to stay here. Thank you, Emma and Sarah Beagle and Olive Badger!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

I Shook A Famous Hand

I like hanging out with my husbands motorcycle club. They aren't Sons of Anarchy, but they also aren't Wild Hogs. They fall on the cooler side of halfway between, with their flat caps, rolled pant legs, wallet chains, and leather jackets.

I'm often the only Old Lady tagging along, and I am very pleased when time works out and I can go. The club is funny and fun to be with, and standing with them is a pretty cool place to be.

Last night was a meet up to welcome an out of state club member who was in Seattle to play his guitar at The Tavern. At dinner, the guys talked about this new guys club creds: where he was from and how he's the only member in his whole state, between general talk of motorcycles and intense moments on said motorcycles.

Later we stood around, listening to music and waited to meet this guy. And then he was pushing his way through the crowd, shaking hands, calling me sweetheart, and all around being regular. We talked about how bad the weather was, and he said he said he got to experience great weather the last time he was here, when he played the Key Arena.

Um, what? The Key Arena? That place that hosts huge concerts?

Yes. Apparently his day job is playing the guitar in Keith Urban's band.

Holy Freaking Cow.

I surged between wanting to throw up and wanting to never wash my hand.

And really wishing I'd bought one of his t-shirts. Nothing says class like "Nutter" written across my chest!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Good Morning Cup Of Coffee

When I woke up this morning, I could hear the rain splattering against the window. Within 15 minutes of waking, it changed from a tap tap tap to the forceful sound of a full blast of hose water slamming the glass. We peeked outside and yes, it was raining that hard. The wind blew rain spray across the porch, into the house and we knew walking was out of the question this morning.

So it's pouring down rain, the street is a mini swollen creek bed, and we aren't walking.

I set my sights on the next good thing of my morning: a cup of coffee. I wasn't always a coffee lover, and even when I became a liker of coffee, it was sweet, milky mochas that got my attention. But through the years, a cup of black coffee has become a desired treat. No frills needed, just me and my mug of coffee, and the morning is back on track.

I will hold my cup in my hands as I stare outside at the wet mess that awaits me (ala a coffee commercial) and think on what I will wear to work today.....but that line of thoughts will derail my on track morning. I'll just sip my coffee and think happy coffee thoughts for a bit longer.

There is half a pot left, and an hour till I leave for work......

Monday, November 21, 2011

Taking Light Conservation One Step Too Far

We might be taking light conservation one step too far.
I'm not sure, but it sure feels like a line was crossed. I walked into the completely dark living room and found my husband sitting on the couch, playing his cigar box guitar, surrounded by our three dogs.
Did I mention he was shirtless and sockless?
I told him that just because we are making a concentrated effort to turn off lights when we are not in a room did not mean that he could sit in the dark like that.
It totally creeped me out and had me thinking of the banjo playing hillbilly from Deliverance.
Just saying. Not cool!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

I Have A Cure For The Sunday Night Blues

But I'm not going to let the cure out.

I like him too much.

I have the Sunday Night Blues, which happen when I realize the weekend is over, Monday starts tomorrow, and I've spent most of today on housework. The Blues occur when I've had too much work and not enough fun.

Enter my cure for these Blues: my husband. He steps in and helps iron our son's shirts. He washes dishes and disposes of raw chicken gunk. He praises the dinner I am throwing together and tells me the cookies in the cookie jar are the best he's ever had. He plays my iPod music, on shuffle, and doesn't complain too much when the first couple of songs are Celine. He does everything he can to help.

And while this doesn't suddenly dispel the blues, it sure goes a long way to making me smile and before I know it, I'm rolling into the home stretch of the evening, looking forward to dinner and sitting down with the kids and those last couple of shirts that need to be ironed.

Because while my husband finished ironing, turned off the iron and heaved a sigh of relief, I knew there were more shirts in the dryer. I'll just keep that my little secret and iron them later.

Thanks to my husband, I'm back in the land of Monday liking. I will not have it be said that I have a case of the Mondays. I'd have to kick my own ass.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Can I Hold Off Playing Christmas Music?

In my house, holding off playing Christmas music has never been an issue before. Each year I wait until we are putting up the tree, then I break out the CD's and put my favorites on to play and as we decorate the tree, the first songs of the season joyously playing the soundtrack for our night.

But this year, I have an iPod. This year, in anticipation of our Christmas tree hunt happening the first Saturday after Thanksgiving, I have downloaded all my Christmas music to my iPod a week early and have listened to many songs to make sure they were iPod worthy and now I've been bitten by the Christmas music bug and I'm really working hard to NOT play it yet.

Playing Christmas music heralds the start of the season for me, and I love the Christmas season, but I don't like to start it before Thanksgiving. I want to enjoy Thanksgiving and not let it be overshadowed by it's overbearing cousin, Christmas.

So. Holding off. It's just one more week. Not going to play my Christmas music. Out loud.

It may be that a continuous loop of "I'll be home for Christmas" is playing in my head, but that doesn't count as really playing Christmas music.....

Friday, November 18, 2011

We're Off To See The Dentist

When my sister asked if I could go with her to the pediatric dentist, to be the designated driver and helper, on the day my nephew was having oral surgery, I said okay. That's what sisters do. I'm a good choice, too, because I'm pretty calm and even keeled for other people. For my own kids, I'm a complete basket case, but that's why I'd ask my sister to go with me to the ER in the middle of the night. She'll keep me sane, and for this trip to the dentist, I'll do the same for her.

I'm up at 5:45 AM, as always, trying to get two teenagers and a husband to wake up and get up (which is actually the harder part) and I have to leave the house at 6:30. I have time to take three sips of coffee, flat iron my bangs (but just throw the rest of my long hair up into a messy bun) find clean socks and leave the house, with three dogs standing at the back door questioning whether I'd forgotten something like their morning walk.

Sorry, girls, but I don't have time to walk today.

My sister, nephew, and I get to the pediatric dentist at 7, right on time. It's a really great place, full of toys and kid friendly people and right away they put on Cars 2 for us, which I have never seen and now have not seen entirely (leaving several unanswered questions about how Mater resolved his mistaken spy identity) but it is a dentist office and we are all there nervous and hungry (since it was fasting for my nephew, and how could my sister eat when her baby was hungry and I, well, I don't usually eat until 8 so I was okay) and it was not quite what I would classify as good times.

But we did it. My sister did great, I did my helper duties (which included a mocha run) and my nephew came out of it fighting mad (which, frankly, I would be too) and we all survived.

Home now, with my Mom taking over helper duties and I thinking if ever I needed french fries, it is today. That was an experience I hope we never do again. Poor little guy. He can't even have french fries to cheer him up. I'll have to eat some for both of us then.

And maybe when he's better, in a week or so, there can be a french fry run just for him, with much love from his Oh-Cho.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Borrowing The City's Dog Duty Bags

I am the kind of dog owner who has been known to cut a walk short if I run out of dog pick up bags. I've been known to walk back to the scene of the crime to pick up what we left behind. I carry a little flash light in my pocket on dark walks so I can find what my dog is leaving and pick it up. I'm not wild about picking up dog mess (who is?) but if I don't like it in my own yard, there is no way I'm going to leave it behind in a neighbor's yard.

For years I just stuffed bags in my pockets and walked my one dog. But with three dogs and leashes and my hands full, I switched to one of those cute little velcro do-hickeys that hold a roll of bags. I'm not a boy scout, but I try to always be prepared for dog mess pick up.

Currently, I am cutting corners and rolls of dog bags are just not at the top of my shopping list. I can make do with grocery store bags but they are so big and bulky and I feel like I should be turning those back in to the grocery store...

Or, I can walk downtown to the paved trail that runs 8 miles north and 15 miles south and pull out several courtesy dog bags and stuff my empty bag full. At first I felt guilty doing that, but I don't want to leave dog mess behind, and the bag dispensers are usually not at the exact spot the dogs stop and even if I use one off the trail, I'm still using it in town and keeping our town clean is why there are bag dispensers, right?

It's not stealing, I tell myself, but I prefer to take four bags when it is dark out and no one is looking. It's just borrowing. I'll, um, give it back to the city when we are done. They can find it in their city trash can.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

We Won't Leave The Lights On For You

I love it when Tom Bodett says they'll leave the lights on for me. When I was younger, travelling by myself and my dog, I'd stay at a Motel 6 just for the idea of the light burning bright for me. And of course, Motel 6 is dog friendly, so that was a huge plus. Lights on and dogs welcome, good place to be.

Our house is so dog friendly, it's almost crazy in our welcome of dogs. But, leaving the lights on? Not so much.

Suddenly, my husband and I have turned into those people....the ones who turn off every light and chastise the children for leaving one burning brightly when it has no need to be on. Where before, I would have thought nothing of having the kitchen, dining and living room lights on when I was the only one home, now days I turn off lights as I leave rooms. An unnecessary trip is made upstairs to the land of teenagers to turn off their lights after they've left for school.

The kids might leave their bedroom lights on all day if left unchecked, but there is one light they never turn on: the light for the carport and driveway. I'm not complaining exactly, but now that I get home from work in the dark, it's really, really dark out there without that light.

And it's a little hard to walk on gravel, with three dogs at my heels, and numerous car parts and tools strewn about when it is really, really dark. Not to mention, a bit spooky.

I will persevere and take comfort in the fact that the kids have left one light off. It's a start!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Blessed Be The Love Letter

I've been blessed, although it didn't seem like a blessing at the time because love letters meant my husband and I were separated by distance, but I have been blessed with love letters. Lots and lots of love letters that strain box lids and tire the strength of elastic bands.

We spent most of our engagement apart, due to boot camp and him being stationed in California while I was in Washington. He was gone 6 months of our first year of marriage. He has been deployed three times for months on end and attended numerous academies for further schooling.

So we wrote. We wrote about every day life, we wrote about how much we missed each other, we wrote about our hopes for the future and we wrote our love for each other. We wrote of unhappiness, of bills coming due, of children and fellow soldiers behaving poorly. We wrote it all.

Nothing was left unsaid. I wanted him to feel connected to our life at home, he wanted me to know he was thinking of us always. Distance didn't mean I didn't need some help or advice, or that he didn't need encouragement in his endeavors.

It isn't just letters either. We are so used to writing, we write notes. When I used to make his lunch, I'd slip a note in almost daily. When he leaves for a weekend, chances are I will find a note from him taped to the mirror, or the coffee pot, or the computer. A for-no-reason-except-I-love-you card is pulled out from an inside coat pocket, or tucked under a pillow, and suddenly whatever is going on, the dinner not quite right, the truck wires crossed, the sick kids and dog, the chores and work that is never ending, all of that disappears and for a moment it's just the two of us.

I've got boxes galore filled with notes, cards, and letters. Some have been censored for our children (if you find letters with pages torn in half, you probably don't want to know) but for the most part they are whole and true. I can pull one out and feel that moment again, tiredly writing a letter before I fell asleep or giddy with excitement that a letter from him arrived.

It's a slice of our life from years past, preserved. We've been together 20 years, and I'm pretty sure he's made me fall in love with him a thousand times over just through the words he writes. Blessed be the love letter. Blessed be the love that these letters have tended.

Monday, November 14, 2011

It's Too (Insert Temperature) In Here!

This beginning of colder weather has led me to question our house and it's ability to regulate its heat. When we first moved in, there was a tiny gas fireplace in the dining room that supposedly heated the whole house.....it did not. The dining room, of course, was unbearably hot, and the upstairs was a land of frost.

So instead of new flooring or kitchen cupboards, we installed a furnace the blows hot air into every room downstairs, and if the kids leave their doors open, warms the bedrooms upstairs too.
I'm not sure that is working so well this year. After school, when the kids arrived home, the house is so hot and miserable, but a few hours later, it is so cold! The furnace is set to keep the house at 68 right now, but it's a 68 I don't recognize.

I'm either saying, "It's too HOT in here!" or I'm shivering and piling on blankets as I chatter out, "It's too COLD in here!"

I'm the one that set the thermostat. I thought I had to all figured out, but the extreme switch of temperature has proven that I do not.

Of course, that frigid breeze I just felt might actually be due to someone opening a window. Really? Who does that in winter?

Oh. Right. It was hot when the kids got home. Too hot to exist without an open window!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

I Fear Pajama Jeans

Today I learned if I love stylish, sexy jeans AND if I love soft, comfortable pajama bottoms, I can get the best of both worlds with pajama jeans. While my kids and I shared a good laugh and a couple of "oh my gosh, did you see that?" sallies, a part of me wondered how pajama jeans actually feel and look. I'm a huge fan of comfy pants and if they really looked like jeans.....well....I'd never go back to real pants again.

And that scares me!

I'm too young to go the elastic waistband route for most of my clothing choices.

And yet, I've thought about them all day long.

Curses on you, pajama jeans. You are unsettling on so many levels!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

I Miss The Sleep Sack

The first time I saw what my sister was making her baby sleep in, I thought she'd gone over, under and around the bend. It's a sack for crying out loud! I thought it must be some kind of newfangled Seattle parenting fad.

So I never in a million years thought I'd put it on my nephew and think this is the weirdest, most wonderful thing I'd ever used. Where was this when I had babies who refused to stay covered on the coldest night of winter? I'd have loved to put my babies in a sleep sack!

My sister's boys have moved on from sleep sacks and two are old enough to cover themselves when they are chilled, but the youngest one refuses blankets of any kind. I covered him, he threw the blanket out of his bed. I offered him a blanket of his choice, and he shook his head. I waited until he was sound asleep and carefully placed a blanket on him, only to find it this morning in a heap on the floor.

I really, really miss that sleep sack, and I never thought I'd say that.

Friday, November 11, 2011

What's In The Monkey's Belly?

There are times when I am expecting extra special company, that I will pull out all the stops. I will sweep my bedroom floor (usually the room that I just close the door on because no one goes in there) and I will wash the cookie jar. I will bake cookies and make sure my old VHS movies are ready to play. I will wash old blankets so they are ready for use and make sure I have glue.


But only for certain extra special guests. Say, the kind who are 6 years old or younger, who might make beds up on the floor of my bedroom, who might ask what's in the Monkey's belly, who might have a love of all my favorite kids movies (that due to the age of my kids, are all on VHS), who might look for old blankets to use to build forts, who might sit at the table with glue and paper and make crafts with me.

I might have three cute, young nephews coming over for a sleepover. I might have three nephews so excited that they started to pack their bags two days ago and laying plans out for who will sleep where and bringing music because they know I will love song #7.

Guess, what boys? Oh-Cho is that excited too!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Getting A Gold Star In Frugality

Cutting corners and pinching pennies is not my idea of fun. Staying home and cooking dinner when I really want to be sitting in a booth at the local Mexican restaurant, being served chips and salsa and a margarita, is really a downer. But times are a bit tighter and I have to be a responsible adult and sometimes it isn't too much fun.

Except when it comes to finding a good deal, then I am giddy with joy.

This week, our local grocery store is offering a 10% discount to military families in honor of Veteran's Day. When I saw that, I was excited. 10% is not much, but considering that I buy all of our fresh produce at this grocery store, and fresh produce rarely comes with a coupon, I was thrilled at the idea of adding a bit more savings to our bill.

I went home and found the weekly sales flyer, just curious if other things are on sale that I could combine with the military discount. Yes. Oh, boy, yes. Friday is a big mega sale and about half of the things on sale are things on my list.

The sale price plus the extra 10% off equal a joyful me.

There are times when being frugal seems like a big old pile of denied fun times, but there are other times when being frugal is like getting a gold star from the teacher.

Friday's sale feels like a gold star moment. I can hardly wait!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Conferences Bring Out The Worst In Me

I have a love hate relationship with parent teacher conferences. I have been blessed with two really good kids and our conferences are the same every time. We sit down, introduce ourselves, the teachers tell us we have a really good kid, no problems at all, do we have any questions? Um, no. I don't have any questions. If I did, the teacher already heard from me because I do not believe in waiting for a conference 2 months into the school year. I address my concerns as they happen.

My husband questioned why we were even going. This year, with two kids at high school, we had 12 teachers and two advisers to sit down with and zero desire to split the list in half and met up at the end to compare notes. We hear the same thing every year, this year times 14, so why go?

I go because I am my child's advocate. I go because I want each teacher who interacts with my child to know that I am listening to what my child says about their day. I am paying attention to their school work. I am watching. I am an intense ball of fierceness, camouflaged by the cuteness of a fluffy kitten.

In the good old days of elementary school, we would show up at our assigned time and there was no question of picking this teacher or that teacher to visit. High school is different. It's an open forum, with teachers spread out all over campus, a map to guide you around and a teacher on the second floor B wing completely across the school from a teacher in the auxiliary gym, and both are teachers you'd like to visit. It's planning which teachers are at the top of your must see list and cross checking that with who has a shorter line.

And the lines. Oy! The lines.

I'm so thankful that we have the opportunity to meet with our children's high school teachers, but I hate the lines and the waiting in the lines and the prideful embarrassment I glow with when we wait in line for 30 minutes to sit at the table for a minute because the teacher has no concerns with our good kid.

Okay, that's a lie. I love that glow of prideful embarrassment. I've got good kids! I'm bursting with pride over them! And I want everyone else to know it.

Yep, I'm not only a fierce kitten ready to rumble over any slight to my child, I'm one who wants to rub other parents noses in the knowledge that my kids are super fantastic!

Conferences might bring out the worst in me.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Start To Our Accordion Adventure

As my son and husband pursued their passion for guitar, and my daughter devoted all her time to piano, I joked we could start a family band, except I didn't want to be the tamborine player in the group. I said instead, I'd get an accordion and play it. Accordions seem to be a lost art, similar to a family band concept, and the two would go together perfectly.

My husband said okay. He'd buy me an accordion. Whoa, whoa, whoa. Let's slow this roll. I have zero musical talent. I'd take PE over music class any day of the week, and my year of piano lessons is seared in my mind as the worst experience of my life. Let's not waste money on an accordion I have no idea how to play, and let's not forget the aforementioned lack of musical talent.

But I appreciated the thought. How lovely to have a husband who is so into pursuing dreams and interests, he'd buy an accordion just on the off chance that I might enjoy it.

A few weeks ago, my Grandma mentioned in a casual "you don't know anyone who needs an accordion do you?" way that she knew of someone who was giving away an accordion. I do know someone, actually, who wants an accordion. Me!

I've had numerous second and third and fourth and fifth thoughts, none louder than the ones I thought as I looked at the accordion in my house, in my possession, in my care. What was I thinking? I don't know anything about accordions! And I have realized I have no desire to strap that heavy thing on and give it a whirl.

All is not wasted. I might have changed my mind and think a tamborine is just perfectly suited for my skill level, but my husband and kids and kid's friends are all wild about the accordion. It has been pulled out of the case and played and google searches done on "how to play an accordion" and "songs for the accordion" and it is a much loved hit.

This morning I heard my son and his friends planning....one of them needs to learn to play this so they can walk around the street fairs as a roving minstrel band.

Awesome. I'll be there with the tamborine.

Monday, November 7, 2011

He Packs A TV

When I was a kid, I'd pack a large suitcase for a one night sleepover at a friends house. Partly, I wasn't too keen on the whole sleepover thing. I'd be up and ready to go home at 7am. My suitcase was filled with clothes I might need and stuffed animals I might want and books I'd read if I was bored.

My son has never been that kind of packer. That became very clear when he was old enough to do his own packing and he wouldn't pack a thing. He'd just take off with his friends, no pajamas, no toothbrush, no clean anything.

It made me crazy! How can he survive like that? My husband just shrugged and told me he was a boy. Boys don't need all that stuff. Our son would be fine. It was only a night, not like he was walking to Alaska with nary a thing packed.

I'm used to it now. But what I'm not used to is what he has decided he needed to start packing.

His TV.

When I was a kid, the TV was a big, bulky thing, with so many wires, and a terrible buzzing noise that gave me a headache if I ever got to close. I tried to imagine myself unplugging wires and lifting our TV just to take to a friends house. Nope. Not even in my wildest imaginings could I see myself doing that!

But my son does. Of course, he has his own TV so it's not like he's taking our family's one and only. And he and his friends have some sort of video game system (yes, I am so out of the video loop I can't even guess what it is) that they hook up and all play together. So I guess having an extra TV is needed?

It's still big and bulky and I was horrified to see how dusty it is, but he is a teenage boy...what does he care about dusting? Listening to the boys talk about the party as I drive them home, TV stowed in the back, the wrestling, the pizza, the video game they'd rigged up, well, I can see why it's worth lugging the TV back and forth. The party was a success, in part to my son's willingness to pack his TV wherever he goes.

I'm more concerned about the wrestling. It almost has a fight club aspect....which of course, means I'm not supposed to talk about!