Monday, September 29, 2008

Doing nothing special.........

Tonight was really nice. The kids were all back after the weekend away and it was just a nice, relaxed time. Hannah was craving "peanut butter noodles" for dinner. I looked up a recipe and Jeff made it (along with the exotic side of chicken nuggets). When deciding what veggie to serve, Jeff suggested we serve canned peas, just to see what reaction we'd get. Well, I personally HATE canned peas, but figured I could gag down a few spoonfuls. So, I heated up two cans, with a little butter and garlic salt. Man, were those a hit! Who knew? Harrison and Arlie had three servings. I'm pretty sure Hannah scraped a few into her mouth, but was was even more impressive is she didn't complain about them. Hayley was at a meeting at school, so she didn't eat with us. But it was still amusing to see them devour canned peas when I normally skip right over those cans because I don't like them (they weren't that bad). I'm trying to save on the grocery bill by "eating from the pantry" this month. Instead of doing a big grocery trip every week, I'm going to make dinners with what we have (I'll still have to buy fruit and stuff, and we get our milk delivered). I read about a family who did this and saved a ton of money. So, I figured what the heck? We have so much food stored. My mom calls it our "Mormon pantry"! (We are not Mormon, for those of you who wondered). Oh, and I made snickerdoodles (another Hannah craving) for dessert and we devoured them. Yum!

Anyway, later we actually sat and watched TV - all of us! We almost never do that and it was nice to just snuggle up on the couch and kick back. Those are the kinds of things I wish we had more time for - just doing nothing.

Oh, and the kids did their chores without complaining today. I am trying to find the right balance between chores and being a drill sargeant. (I think I spelled that wrong and it's driving me crazy). Anyway, this week, I whittled down the chore list. I may have mentioned my meltdown at the kids' bathroom last week. I refrained from posting a photo of the enormous amount of clothing and towels that came from that tiny room. We are talking MOUNTAINS! I had them sort it into the hallway and they are all responsible for doing certain loads of it until it's all done. So, tonight a couple of loads got washed. And in order to do that, they had to fold a couple of loads. Well, their technique for that is to dump everything on my bed and fold away while watching TV. Later, Jeff came downstairs holding a bra and saying "who's trying to sabotage my marriage? I found this under my pillow!" I thought someone planted it there, but no, it was an honest mistake. Still pretty funny.

I'm having surgery on Wednesday. I'll be short one ovary after, but I'm not really using them anymore so it's ok. I have a cyst on my left ovary that is called a dermoid. These are present at birth and derive from a single cell that can turn into basically anything in the human body. As a result, they are totally freaky. While they can show up in many parts of the body (including the face, brain, spinal cord, etc.) they often occur on the ovaries. And since they contain embryonic cells they often have hair, muscle fibers and well-formed teeth. Yes, teeth. I once saw one of these freaks of nature at an exhibit on the human body. It had about four fully-formed human teeth and long hair coming out of it. Kind of like a semi-human within a human. Yes, I know - sounds like some sort of alien abduction thing, right? But it's for real. Jeff calls mine "Chomper" and when he saw a real one at that exhibit, his response was "Holy Hell, get that thing out of you!". And even weirder is that most people have them someplace in the body, but they normally do not grow or cause any problems so most people never know about them. Mine was discovered by accident. And it's been "monitored" for two years, but I'm ready to have it out now. And since it's wrapped around my ovary, I decided to have them just take the whole damn thing out. It's an easier surgery and I'm all for easier when I'm under general anesthesia. Anyway, I told them to take pictures and keep it so I can see it before they send it off to pathology. If I have a freakish half-human residing inside me, I at least want to see it before it goes. Don't worry, I'll refrain from posting photos here. Anyway, that's your medical mystery for the day. Hope you enjoyed it.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Soccer Star!!

Today Harrison played soccer like a champ. He's always been in there, lending a hand to help the team out, listening to coaches, generally being a good player and teammate. But last week he spent a while outside with Jeff and Arlie and Jeff gave them some tips. He coached them in some techniques and tricks and they really paid off in today's game! Harrison used the "touch and roll the ball back" trick several times during the game and it made a huge difference in how the game went after. Their team won 4-1 and two parents came up to me commenting on how well Harrison played the game today. After the game, even a few of his teammates congratulated him. He smiled and told them "Jeff taught me a trick!" I could tell Jeff got a little glow of fatherly pride. And why not? A half hour of kicking the ball around with the kids paid off big time today and Harrison was like a whole new player. Way to go buddy!!


I used to think I was pretty good at sharing. But I'm not, really, especially when it comes to certain things. For example, if there is just one piece of cake left, I am going to snag it before anyone else sees that it's the last piece. If I get a toffee almond bar from Starbucks, don't even bother asking me for a bite. Now, if you want to borrow a book, or need a cup of sugar, sure, I'm your girl. Need someone to buy Girl Scout cookies, Tupperware, jewelry, or candles? Count me in. I'll share my money. But the thing I have the most trouble sharing is my kids.

Now, some of you won't be able to relate to this, because sharing kids inevitably means they are the by-products of divorce, which is never their fault. And no matter how amiable the divorcing parties, the bottom line is, the kids will eventually have to be shared, fair and square, and spend equal (or almost equal) time with both parents. And that involves both good and bad. I'm certainly not complaining when I have a "kid free weekend". Who would? Most moms I know would give their right arm to have a whole weekend without kids, knowing they are safe and sound and happy with their other biological parent. And I certainly try to make the most of it - going on adventures with Jeff, maybe having a dinner out, working on one of the myriad of projects I never seem to get done when kids are around. But on all the weekends my kids are gone, I feel this strange sense of being unsettled. For 13 years my kids were with me 24/7 with rare exception. And suddenly they were gone - for a night, a weekend, occasionally for a two week stretch. I once read a newspaper story about a woman who had lost her son in an accident. She said "my arms ache for him". And I think that says it best. It's like a part of you is just suddenly gone. You know it's not a permanent loss, like a death, but in a way, it's so enormously changed from the way it used to be, that it feels like something is missing.

Now, three years into this sharing arrangement, I still find myself thinking about my kids all weekend. I wonder what they're doing, how they are getting along with each other and their dad, and I spend a lot of time thinking about what we didn't have time for the previous week. Call it mommy guilt, but I think of a million things I'd like to do with the kids when they're not here. And when they're back, time is hectic and crazed. Weekdays are full and busy. Weekends are our wind-down time, and now we only get half of those in a year. Then, we try to cram fun, quality time into the half as many weekends we get and there just doesn't seem to be enough time to just "be" with the kids.

I know it's inevitable. It's all a part of the huge decision to end a marriage and live as a "fractured" family. But I don't like that label. Broken family? I think mine got fixed when I got remarried. I love the family I have now, and wouldn't change it for the world. I just don't like sharing. It bothers me when I can't make a decision for my kids without involving their father, and it breaks my heart every time Arlie misses a birthday party, school function, or soccer game because she is required to spend a weekend in Spokane. And I don't intend to discount the relationship our kids have with their other parents. Those bonds are unbreakable and unique and can't be replaced by a stepparent, no matter how ideal the situation is. And certainly our kids could use a break from us and the house rules and routine from time to time.

But still, I haven't gotten used to it. And maybe I never will. All kids eventually leave. They start lives of their own and move on to their own families. And if you're lucky, you'll have about 18 years to help them grow into truly great people. But if you're divorced, you get a smaller percentage of those years and somehow it just doesn't seem like enough time.

The Dollar Store

So, I went to the dollar store yesterday. Actually, our dollar store is a $1.29 store. Yes, that's right, the economy has gone to hell in a handbasket when a store called "Dollar City" has no items in it that actually cost a dollar. But that's another story. There is a sign on the door that clearly states that all items are $1.29 unless otherwise posted. Well, this crazy lady came into the store. I say crazy because, well, she WAS, but she also looked crazy - you know, kind of bag-lady-ish with unkempt hair, Jackie-O sunglasses and that bright red lipstick that cracks and cakes so that you can see each actual line in her lips? I hope I've painted an adequate picture. Anyway, this lady starts asking the store's proprieter "how much is this?" on each item she picks up. The owner points to the sign and reiterates the cost. But the lady continues. She moves on to the makeup aisle and asks "where are your makeup samples?" I tried not to let my laugh be too audible. Makeup samples? Where did she think she was - the cosmetics counter at Nordstrom? The owner explained that there were no samples. So, the lady continues to badger the owner (who, by the way, barely speaks English) and asks her opinion on all the lipstick colors as she holds them up to her lips. Now, judging by the horrific lipstick job she was sporting, what would it matter really? Orange, red, pinkish, it's all clown makeup on you, lady! She finally left, but not before frantically touching and examining every item near the door, asking loudly "do you have those cotton shoes?" and finally leaving without making a purchase. I was relieved and gratefully paid for my assortment of $1.29 items. It takes all kinds..............

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Bad Dog, Shade - Part Three

The fun never ends. After the last "dining" fiasco from Shade and his over-indulgence of zucchini cookies, I started all over and made everything again. I had one large zucchini from the garden left, so I was able to make a double batch of the cookies (which I actually made into bar cookies to save time) and two loaves of zucchini bread. I sent some of the bread off to work with Jeff and fixed up three plates of cookies for the neighbors. I left them sitting on the counter, and Shade safely in the kennel when I left for work. Alas, last night Jeff came to me with three paper plates in his hand that he had retrieved from Arlie's bedroom floor. Were these the same plates that once held delicious goodness? Yes, they were. And, once again, the goodness went to Shade's stomach. He must really like zucchini. Or the thrill of the hunt. But I've got a plan. I'm going to cook up something special for him next time. Like arsenic brownies.

Thursday and stuff

So, today I made it to yoga - yay! I hate it when I miss, but I've missed a few times because I had to work (stupid work gets in the way of everything!). I LOVE my yoga class..........but today was sad because we found out my idol, 83-year-old Myrtis suffered a stroke. This woman came to yoga faithfully and also still went roller skating once a week at her age! Amazing. She was incredible and I hope she recovers.

In other sad news, one of Jeff's Toastmaster group friends had a terrible tragedy. His 15 month old son suffocated under their "Love Sac"- a large beanbag (about 60 lbs.) The baby had awakened in the morning and somehow got himself under the bean bag and suffocated. His dad discovered him when he was leaving for work. This family has four boys and a baby girl on the way in just days. The funeral is Saturday. It's so tragic, and I guess, a warning too - beanbags can be deadly! I worried about Kaden and his being near that age. Do NOT let your babies play around bean bags, especially ones that are heavier than them. I'm sure no one would ever have thought something like this could happen. But it did, and it's just so sad. I didn't know the family, but just weeks ago, Jeff attended a barbeque where he played with all the little boys, so he knew and remembered this baby. So sad.........

Let's see if I have anything that's NOT sad today. (Oh, and it's rainy, gray and drizzly just for effect). Hmmm........since this is kind of a downer post, how about a list of things I don't like? Here we go.........when you put your tortilla in the microwave and it gets so tough to cut with a fork that you almost need a hacksaw (that actually just happened to me), when your dog poops in the house (also just happened), finding out your daughter's braces and orthodontic treatment will cost $4000 and you need $920 of it by early October (yeah, that happened too), having your kids say you don't have a "real job" (yesterday), aparagus (just thought I'd throw that in), when you have a little rock in your shoe, but no really good spot to sit down and take your shoe off and shake it out, so you walk around with the little rock in your shoe and it drives you nuts (today), soccer practice in the rain (I'm still praying for a "no practice" call on this one), and dust (where does it come from? why is it everywhere?). Ok, that's a good enough list.

I'm so excited because two of my "shows" are premiering tonight - Grey's Anatomy and ER. Those, plus Desperate Housewives are the only shows I watch regularly. I actually love TV and all the shows but never really have time to watch it. So, I stick to those three. I'm not much of a TV watcher, but watching these shows is kind of like "date night" for me and Jeff so it's nice.

I'm craving these peanut butter cookies I made last week. They are so quick and easy and delicious (I ate WAY too many, but I'm going to make some more anyway). Here is the recipe for anyone who's interested:
1 cup peanut butter (I used chunky)
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup chocolate chips
Mix everything together and drop by rounded tablespoons onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes. So yummy. They are chocolaty, peanut buttery and chewy. I doubled the recipe.

I should go change my photos. The old ones have been up there long enough. However, I'm getting a notice that there will be a scheduled outage at 4 p.m. whatever that means. So, I guess my blogging time is limited today.

Prayers for Myrtis and baby Evan.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Driving with Hayley

Tonight Hayley and I went on our first "practice drive" for driver's ed. This was the first time Hayley has ever been behind the wheel of a car (despite being in driver's ed for three weeks). So, naturally, I was a little apprehensive and wisely took her to an empty parking lot to practice. Her first try at pushing the gas about put us over the curb and into the bushes, but after that, she got pretty smooth. We practiced going around and around the parking lot, driving straight, making turns and parking. A few times I worried we'd jump the curb and I was really glad there were no cars in the parking spaces, but for the most part, her first time out was a success. I drove back home, but stopped in a nearby neighborhood to give her some practice. Besides driving IN the gutter a few times, she did pretty good there, too, and even parked the car in the driveway without going through the garage! I admit, it was pretty scary (and now I know why those driver's ed instructors have their own brake), but it was a start. I definitely don't think she's ready for the road yet (plus she is not on my insurance yet), but she has her first real driving lesson for her class on Friday. The idea of her driving on the street scares me. Guess that's why it's better left up to the professionals. But parents are supposed to be giving their teens two hours a week of driving practice! Gasp! I don't know how we're going to fit that in, with everything else. Not to mention how my heart will handle it!

Friday, September 19, 2008


When I was growing up, I remember LOVING to have sleepovers with my friends. And in typical kid fashion, I begged my mom to let me have one every Friday and Saturday night. Most of those "requests" were met with a "no" but a lot were a weary "yes" and I just couldn't understand why my mom was not as excited as me to have an extra kid making noise, eating our food, getting underfoot and generally running amok. With four kids to manage day in and day out, adding one more probably wasn't more than a blip on the radar screen for my mom, but after a long day, I'm sure she wanted to relax and put her feet up (haha) more than she wanted to have extra kids running around.

So, when my kids were old enough to start asking for sleepovers (and this happened at the scary young age of three!), I thought it would be a fabulous idea! Popcorn! Movies! Makeovers! Making a huge "fort" out of blankets in the family room! Well, not so much. Sleepovers have a few common denominators. For example, from ages 3-11, a sleepover will include at least one of the following elements (and usually more than one, or all): 1. Someone gets homesick and wants their mom - conveniently this happens between the hours of 11 p.m. and 4 a.m. 2. Someone eats too much candy/pizza/popcorn and either has a killer stomach ache, for which you are unsure whether to administer Tums, or they reward your kindness by barfing - usually in their sleeping bag or on your carpet. 3. Two or more girls will have a girl fight and won't be "best friends" anymore. This will entail a new sleeping arrangement as said girls cannot, under any circumstances, have their sleeping bags touching. 4. One child (usually your own) will suffer a complete emotional breakdown due to too much junk food, not enough sleep, overstimulation, or all of the above. Once girls hit puberty, the sleepovers take on a whole new appeal. Now, the guest list will have to be revised several times in order not to upset the delicate balance of friendships or lack thereof, and generally your "small" sleepover turns into a barely manageable crowd. These girls can eat, too! Talk about your teenage boys? No, girls can eat just as much. Your carefully planned snacks will have to be doubled (usually at the last minute, so you are scrambling for something in the pantry) and you can never have enough two liter bottles of soda. In addition, these girls will want to sleep in, so that a once respectable 10 a.m. pick up time now becomes impossible. They will require more sophisticated breakfasts, such as chocolate chip pancakes and mochas (preferably from Starbucks). And at least one girl will want to sneak out during the sleepover. Text message rules will fly out the window as they text surreptitiously under their sleeping bags until 3 a.m. at which time they fall asleep with the phone in their hand, text message still unsent. They will wake in the morning with their iPod earbuds still in their ears, music still blaring. And they will leave at least one highly fashionable item behind, or perhaps an unfashionable one, like Victoria's Secret thong underpants that you'd rather not know they're wearing.

Tonight Hannah is having a sleepover. The "reason" behind this (not that there needs to be one, because sleepovers are practically a requirement here), is to watch "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" because Hannah has never seen it. Yes, the Disney movie. So, she has two girls over and two boys, Drew and Lars, who are pretty much a fixture at our house (they arrive around 3 p.m. daily and stay through dinner). The boys, of course, are required to leave at 10 p.m. but they continue to ask if they can stay over. Now, I've never had a problem with boys and girls being "friends" and Hannah has certainly had many boy sleepovers in her youth, but once they hit 12, it just doesn't seem prudent to allow anything but same-sex sleepovers. I don't want to be the one blamed when a "Juno"-esque teen gets pregnant on my watch! But they're clever, those pubescent ones. They figure out ways to disappear for long periods of time under the guise of picking up something forgotten from one or another's house. I don't know what they're doing, which is why I'm glad when they are back in the house, in plain sight. Unfortunately this also means they are here eating my food, playing their loud music and tossing gum wrappers on the floor.

I'm not sure why I keep saying "yes" to these parental torture nights. Maybe it's because I want them to have good memories of good times with friends. Growing up, I had the "cool" parents. All the kids wanted to be at my house. And that's been recreated here. Maybe it's because I care more about friendships than unstained carpet and scratch-free hardwoods. Maybe I like whipping up a batch of peanut-butter-chocolate-chip cookies at the spur of the moment to feed a crowd. Or maybe I'm just numb to it. There's already chaos in this house every day, what's a little more? I've always subscribed to "the more the merrier". Even if it IS teenagers. Still, I feel I'm a glutton for punishment when I don't get enough sleep because someone falls asleep with the DVD player on and all I hear all night is the opening music on the menu page. Which brings us to the misnomer "sleepover". Very little sleep, and it's never over soon enough. Which might explain my headache.

Thursday, September 18, 2008


This week has been particularly hectic. I feel like I've had no time to spare, running hither and yon all day long, and stretching my patience, energy and cheerfulness to their limits. So, I decided to really look at this week, considering it is probably a fairly "typical" week-in-the-life of Chaos Times Six and see how it breaks down. For study purposes, let's say I have 17 hours in a day (that would be me waking up at 5:30 a.m. and going to bed at 10:30 p.m. which is kind of early for me, but we'll use that for a nice, round number). Of course, this doesn't count sleeping, which , even in this somewhat offset example, only allows me 7 hours. Which could explain the crankiness. But I digress........

So, of those 17 hours, this week (five days, a workweek, shall we say, not including weekends, which we all know are consumed by eating bon bons by the fire and taking in a cinematic adventure on the DVD player, eating freshly popped popcorn and painting my toenails), I will have spent: 7 hours driving, 13 1/2 hours working at my job, 4 hours in appointments for the kids, 4 hours in meetings for the kids, 1 1/2 hours waiting for kids at various sports, 1 hour volunteering at the school, 1 hour doing yoga, 10 hours doing housework, 5 hours doing paperwork, 5 hours helping with homework, 3 hours having coffee with friends, 10 hours on the computer, 2 1/2 hours reading for myself, 3 hours showering and getting ready for the day, 1 hour getting ready for bed,1 1/2 hours making lunches, 3 hours shopping and running errands, and 2 1/2 hours reading to Harrison. That's 83 1/2 hours. Out of 85 hours. That's a 1 1/2 hour defecit. Which means I should have approximately 20 minutes each day of EXTRA TIME!!! But where did that time go? Where is it? Look at my calendar and you will see every day penciled in, something nearly every hour, and drive times in between. Where is my 20 minutes? I'm sure I have not accounted for time spent looking for lost things, refereeing fights, having long conversations with the kids, putting the cereal and milk away, turning off lights, finding (insert word here - scissors, heavy white paper, pencil top erasers) for homework, and saying goodnight to the kids.

Time. We say we "never have enough time". We squander time. We are in a "time crunch". We practice "time management". We live in different "time zones". We have watches, cell phones and an array of public clocks to remind us of the time we're spending, the time we're wasting and how much time we have left. And at the end of the day, time is all we have. Our time is finite. An hour wasted is an hour you never get back. I have so many things I plan to do when I "have more time" - scrapbook all of my thousands of photos, clip recipes out of magazines, "really organize" my (insert word here - closet, laundry room, kids' art cabinet, armoire), clean off my desk, write a book, create a picture wall in my upstairs hallway, paint the house, clean out the junk drawer. But I find myself time and again not choosing to spend my time doing those things. Out of my missing 20 minutes a day, I hope some of it was spent smiling at someone, hugging my kids, thinking of someone I missed, saying a little prayer for someone, being grateful, and laughing. I hope I always have time for that. But I'd really like to get to those scrapbooks...........if only I had more time!

Monday, September 15, 2008


I love yoga! I always thought yoga was weird - until I started taking it. I thought you meditated, sat all weirdly cross-legged with your hands up and repeating "om" over and over. So, when my friend Janet invited me to take a yoga class with her at a local church, I was hesitant (and didn't even accept the invitation for over a year!). Finally, I decided to give it a try. And I've been in love ever since! I try to go twice a week, some weeks I only make it once, but I love it every time. I have improved so much since I started taking it, and my back, which used to "go out" a few times a year has given me no trouble at all since I started. I even had wrist surgery and went to yoga right after, just modifying my poses until I was strong enough to use my wrists again (we spend a lot of time in "downward dog"!). And sometimes I work up a sweat - it's NOT easy and it's amazing how much strength you build up doing yoga poses. My instructor, Tracy, is amazing. She's totally into yoga, but she's also a regular mom. She inspires me! My favorite part of the class is "corpse pose" when we totally relax. The first few times I actually dozed off. But now I can relax completely and still be aware of what's going on around me - total stillness. It's not an easy thing to do. I feel like I have miles to go in this practice and will improve over time, but I still feel like it's my favorite part of the week. I wish I'd been doing yoga years before this, but I'm glad I started now. If I can be anything like 86-year-old Myrtis, who bends and twists like the best of them, then I think I'll be doing pretty good. Namaste!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Wallace Falls

Today Jeff took us on another adventure. He thought it would be fun to take our mountain bikes and ride one of the "rail trails". These are old railroad trails used for logging and such that have been turned in to primitive hiking/biking trails. Today we went to Wallace Falls State Park, just outside of Gold Bar. We got the bikes prepared - me pulling the trailer (one of those ones you put a baby in, only we bought it WAY after we ever had babies, mostly just for pulling our crap in) and Jeff pulling Arlie on the tandem bike. She used to call it the "panda" bike, and has now dubbed it "Panda Express". We headed off. The book said this particular trail was steep and rocky. It didn't lie! Jeff has done many rail trails, but this was my first experience "off road" on a bike. I had to get my bearings - riding on rock, dirt and gravel is a lot different than a smooth paved surface. And going uphill on that surface is a different experience entirely. My heart was pounding and, since I had the good sense to wear my heart rate monitor, I noticed that when I hit about 161 beats per minute, I simply collapsed onto my handlebars, and flopped over them like a rag doll, gasping for breath, at which time I would decide to just push my bike and trailer up the hill. Off and on we did this for 2 1/2 miles. Now, mind you, 2 1/2 miles would take just minutes on a street. It took us over an hour on this trail! I forged ahead, willing my heart not to explode. We arrived at the trail head for the falls, which is for hikers only. We locked up the bikes, packed up our lunch, and headed off down the steep trail to the falls. Down, down we went and then up, up again. My short legs were no match for the ladder-like primitive wooden steps that were set in the steepest parts. Again with the heart - pound, pound. We finally arrived at the falls. We took a few photos. At this point, I should tell the horrible side story. When we set off on the ride, I had wedged a coffee tumbler full of water into the trailer. About 30 minutes into the ride, I realized I had not flipped the lid shut on the water and stopped to check it. As I suspected the water had poured out of the cup and was now pooling in the bottom of the trailer. Several things were soaked, among them my cell phone and my very expensive new camera! My cell phone was no worse for the wear after I dried it off, but the camera shut down after taking only two photos and would not start up again. I'm praying it was just the battery shorting out, and I'm recharging it now. If not, we do have the warranty. But I was heartbroken. And bummed to not have my nice camera to take photos on this glorious day. But I did bring my backup camera so I do have photos to share! Finally, after eating some lunch we headed back to the bikes. All the ups were downs, but all the downs were ups, so it was no easier getting back. Once we got the bikes, though, it was a whole different story! Wow! What a difference it made going downhill this time! It was like a ride at Disneyland - we flew down the trail, pounding over rocks, roots, and other hazards. Arlie laughed hysterically the whole time and I was having so much fun, I wish I had the guts to go faster (but let's face it, road rash is not pretty). At one point, Jeff flew past me and was gone. Alone now, I came upon a hairpin turn that I navigated quite badly! I tried to stop and stood up on my bike, but the trailer was too heavy and kept pushing me downhill. I skidded and slid and tried my darndest to stop and just as I was about to fall over the edge, I finally managed to get me, the bike and the trailer back on the trail and to a stop. Whew! That was scary. And Jeff was long gone, so if I had flown over the edge, it would have been a while before he noticed! However, having escaped certain death, I was now emboldened to go forward and thoroughly enjoyed flying down the path. We got back to the car in record time and stopped at the Sultan Bakery for dinner and a treat before heading home. What a fun day!

Bad Dog, Shade - Part Two!

On Saturday night we had supper club so Hayley was babysitting a bunch of kids at our house. Shade was imprisoned in Arlie's room - or so we thought! At some point, one of the kids must have let him out because he proceeded to eat four dozen cookies that were cooling on racks off the kitchen counter! Stupid dog! He showed his appreciation for this feast by barfing on the deck this morning and letting some rather aromatic gas escape his nether regions this evening. Never a dull moment with the spawn of the Devil.

Friday, September 12, 2008

A Day in the Life!

So today was a barrel of monkeys. First, I took my van in for service - an oil change, tire rotation, and replacement of my defective stereo system. The dealership is located on the infamous "highway 99" which, if you're not from around these parts, also doubles as the main drag for streetwalkers and drug dealers (not that I have personal experience!). So, there I was, faced with two hours of waiting time, when I decided to take a jaunt down to the nearest Starbucks (several blocks away) and bide my time. On the way, I decided to stop in at "Value Village". Again, for those of you non-natives, Value Village is basically a thrift store, set up like a department store. I perused the racks (and for some reason, it seemed really skeevy, not like my favorite rinky dink thrift shop up the street). Anyway, I bought a couple of things and continued my journey to Starbucks. As I clomped down highway 99, swinging my Value Village bag a guy in a sports car honked at me and gave me a big smile! Can you believe it? Solicitious jerk. Oh well, I made it to Starbucks unperturbed and bided my time.

After, I had just enough time to get to the high school and pick up Hayley. We were off on an adventure! It was "Get your driver's permit day". Oh joy. The DMV is dismal on ANY day, and apparently Friday afternoon is the most popular and busy day, as we pulled our number (496) and they were serving somewhere in the 420's. So, we waited. And waited. Thank God we brought books. Our literary reverie was broken by a sudden, vivacious rendition of "The Mexican Hat Dance". It was a cell phone. Belonging to Juan. Or Pedro. Or Enrique. Minutes later, another cell phone rang (this time to a lively country tune) and was answered by a woman (older than me, remember that because it's important later) who had a very loud and personal conversation. "Did you know I was pregnant? Oh, yeah, but I miscarried it, and it freaked me out a little bit, even though I didn't need it. Oh, and then? They removed this cantaloupe sized tumor in my ovary! Yeah, my ovary. They're gone now. They took out my ovaries." And so on. Soon after, the very large gentleman next to me started to make small talk. Apparently he had been waiting since noon to have a driver's test (this was 2 p.m.) and was "bored". He said the seats were killing him and turned and twisted until he adjusted himself comfortably. Unfortunatley, his comfort was my undoing! As I turned toward him to answer his question, I shuddered to find that I could see his........ahem........MANHOOD hanging out of his shorts. Oh yes, the family jewels. The nads. The boys. In all their glory (and let me tell you, it was NOT glorious!). What I would not have given to have a (large) pair of Fruit of the Looms in which to house this guy's junk. But how do you, politely, tell a very large man that his stuff is better off contained in whitey tighties? Ick. Thankfully, he soon ambled off and was out the door. Poor Hayley. I'm pretty sure she didn't glimpse the indiscretion (although I whispered the infraction loudly to her as it happened). But on the way home she speculated what would have happened if his guys had gotten stuck to the plastic seat in the heat of the day (haha - kudos to her for having a sick sense of humor!). Hard to beat (pardon the pun) the flasher, but then a lady appeared. I'll call her Dottie. She sported a bright red dress with white polka dots, a matching polka dot belt, a black and white polka dot purse, and matching polka dot earrings. She was spot on (hahaha!)!

Soon enough Hayley was up for her photo. Minutes later she was presented with her learner's permit, which she inspected and promptly said "eww, that is a disgusting picture!" I reminded her that having a horrendous photo was a requirement of the DMV and we exited that stale, horrid environment, FINALLY. Whew. Now, we have to do it all again in a year when she gets her "real" license. As we got in the car, she asked "can I drive home?" to which I gave her a resounding NO! She has not even been behind the wheel of a car. She has no idea how to drive. And I just got her legal permission to do it! What was I thinking?

Bad Dog, Shade!

As you may know, we have a large, old, black dog named Shade. Shade is part hunting dog, so, technically he's Jeff's hunting dog, but once he flushes a pheasant out of the brush, he wants nothing else to do with it (he's no retriever!). When Shade first took up residence in our home, he had been exclusively an outside and garage dog, with occasional forays into a guest bedroom with the door closed, lest he growl like Cujo at unsuspecting visitors. I, frankly, was terrified of this dog. And suddenly he was a permanent resident of my home! He growled at Arlie and Harrison at every turn, and I had to put a stop to it. I had to be the alpha dog! So, one terrifying day, after a particularly nasty show of teeth and a guttural sound (from Shade, not me!), I grabbed his collar and growled back, albeit it not as formidably as he. That was the beginning of a long transition for Shade, which up to today has reached a new level of "freedom" for this son of Satan. He's actually allowed to roam around the house a little instead of being tied up to the leg of the couch (seriously!). That was our compromise to letting him be part of the family in the family room. If not there, he was outside or in the kennel. Kind of a prison-like existence, no? However all that is with good reason. Let me tell you about Shade's antics. Before he was "mine", he was Jeff's (and we still argue, along with Hannah, over who he loves more!), and he performed some amazing feats. Like one day he ate the siding off one huge section of Jeff's house. Yes, he ATE it. He didn't tear it up and leave it strewn about. No, he was kind enough to consume his destructiveness and suffer no ill effects. Soon after that, he was left in his dog run overnight with Jeff's truck. Upon awakening, Jeff discovered that Shade had chewed up all the wiring to the lights under the truck. Since he's been in my house, he has refrained from structural damage, but his antics are unique just the same. He has "unzipped" a ziploc bag and eaten a sandwich out of it, leaving the bag behind with nary a tear. He consumed two entire one-pound bags of Easter chocolates, foil wrappers and all, with no ill effect. He once stole a banana off the counter and peeled it, consuming the inside and leaving the peel just perfect. Last night he repeated his banana trick, only this time no peel was to be found, only a slightly chewed stem. This dog will wait until everyone is occupied and then sneak out of the room, foraging upstairs in the kids' rooms where he is sure to find a few cracker crumbs left in a box or a package of Reese's Pieces left over from a birthday party. (Let me stop here to say that my kids are NOT ALLOWED to eat in their rooms, but they break the rules all the time, clearly!). If there is no delectable delight to be found in his favorite haunts, he is just as content to eat lip gloss, toothpaste, breath mints, and lotion. He has never once been to the vet for anything except a regular checkup, having an iron-clad digestive system that seems to handle what goes in. On top of that, he is always "verbal" making whining sounds, barking incessantly, or just breathing loudly. And to top it off, this huge dog, weighing in, I'm guessing, somewhere between 80 and 90 lbs. thinks he is a lap dog. He will climb right up into your lap or on the bed and snuggle, head on the pillow and everything! Which might be cute if he didn't smell so bad and have dew claws that could gut you in one swipe. In people years, this dog is like 75, yet he still managed to attempt getting amorous with Georgette right in front of us yesterday, even though he's had his manhood removed years ago! I kicked him off, saying "you dirty old man!" Yes, Shade is unique, the quintessential "bad dog". Some days I could just leave him on a freeway off-ramp. But somewhere inside my stone-cold heart I have a soft spot for him, poor fool that he is. And so I offer him a blanket at my bedside and saved an old pillow just for his comfort. But if he eats another banana off the counter again, I'm going to kick him to the moon!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

September 11, 2008

At about this same time in the morning, on Sept. 11, 2001 I remember exactly what I was doing. I was awakened by a phone call from my mom. She alerted me to watch the TV, something bad happened in New York and they were saying it was possibly a terrorist attack. Like most people who had settled in to relative peace and calm in my life (terrorism? that only happened in the middle east, right??) I couldn't imagine what had transpired. Turning on the TV, I was horrified at what I saw. Hayley was in third grade, and Hannah in first. Harrison was in preschool. The girls started to come in my room, but I didn't want them to watch anything on TV, so I sent them out and then I went downstairs to watch the coverage. At one point, the girls were at the top of the steps saying "can we come down?" and we said "no!" I didn't want them to be scared. Then, I wasn't sure if we should send them to school. Phone calls started coming in from my friends asking if I was sending my kids to school? Finally we decided they would be better off in school than watching the TV coverage at home. So, they went. And I went on with my day, which included walking with my neighbor. The day was such a brilliant blue and completely cloudless and it was so hard to imagine something so unspeakable had happened. As we walked past another friend's house, she came running out saying her cousin had been in the World Trade Center when the planes hit. She was waiting for word (we later learned he had died). It was all so surreal and scary. One thing I remember was that I did not watch much TV coverage at all. It seemed the kids were always around, and I just didn't want them to see it. So, I felt like I missed a lot of what was going on. Many months later, I watched a special with coverage I had never seen and it put a lot of pieces of the mystery together. At the time, though ,I felt like our world was insane. It felt like something horrible and huge was going to happen (and I guess, in a lot of ways, it did - the war, for example, stemming from this incident). I also felt bad for all the misconceptions and rage and raw emotions everyone felt, and those who were innocent being attacked because of their heritage. It seemed too crazy. And for a very long time after, it seemed nothing would ever be the same. And nothing is, really. You go back to your life and your routine, but the world was irrevocably changed on that day (as it was on many other days in history) and you are a bit more jaded from it. Knowing you are so vulnerable is scary and if you dwell on it, it can make you crazy. So, we go on, remembering and not forgetting and hoping.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


You know how a certain scent will take you back? Back to being a kid, back to jr. high, back to something? Well, today I was washing my face with one of those apricot scrubs and it just made me think of jr. high! And that got me thinking about the scents that define spaces in our lives. For me, it was paste, crayons, playdough, and the rubber of pencil erasers in elementary school. In junior high, it was apricot face scrub, Noxzema, Love's Baby Soft, watermelon Jolly Ranchers, AquaNet hair spray and Bonne Bell Lip Smackers in Bubblegum. That lip gloss was pure heaven. I had a tube of it the size of a jumbo glue stick and I used it excessively. In fact, it smelled and tasted so good on my lips, I was tempted to take a bite (ok, once I actually did, and it tasted horrible! You know how vanilla extract smells so heavenly but when you taste it it's like putting paint thinner on your tongue?). In high school, Tabu perfume, Secret deodorant, Dep hair gel, chocolate snappers (a cookie we baked a lot!), my mom's Chinese food (ick), my mom's chili (yum), Old Spice (my dad) and Arctic Circle fry sauce are all things I can still recall. I can still inhale Baby Magic baby lotion and think of Sydney when she was a baby, or rub Icy Hot on one of the kids and remember my backaches in high school. Once I bought Love's Baby Soft just to see if it was the same as I remembered it. It wasn't. When my kids were little, I sometimes used their Johnson's baby shampoo just because it smelled so "baby" and sweet. I even remember the metal smell of my dad's watch - the cool one that made a strange high-pitched whiny sound and wound itself just by moving your arm (so state of the art at the time, who knew there would be cooler things like fax machines, cell phones, iPods, and digital mammography in years to come?). Just yesterday my friend Carla brought me a candle that was called "baking cookies" or something like that. Don't blame me if I'm whipping up a batch of snickerdoodles next time I light it.

My Husband is so generous!!

I believe I must print a retraction. In light of my post "How cheap is my husband?" I received several comments, mostly favorable. However, my husband actually read this post today and felt I gave him a bum rap (but he also reminded me of some of his other "cheap" habits like recycling clothes - for example, wearing the same pair of biking shorts for two years, yes YEARS, before he realized they could be washed! Read the tag, genius!). Anyway, he pointed out the many ways in which he is also very generous and I promised him I would print a retraction of sorts (actually, I don't "retract" what I said, because it's all true, but perhaps this could be seen as the editorial section?). For example, one Mother's day he gave me a laptop computer! The next Mother's day he gave me my coveted Nikon D60 digital camera. For my 40th birthday he took me to a fancy hotel and spa. For my 39th, to Teatro Zinzanni, a wonderful dinner show. One October weekend he surprised me with a plane ticket and a weekend away to visit my sister and when I got back, he had furnished our room with new furniture, bedding and art! I was led up the stairs on a trail of rose petals and met with a candle-lit, brand-new bedroom! Sounds romantic? You bet your sweet patootie! There are many more of those stories (but I won't bore you with the details, or make you jealous!). So, I guess using that sliver of deodorant that fell on the floor was done with the best of intentions. Maybe he was saving up to buy me a mocha? I love you, Jeff!

Hayley takes driver's ed!

I picked up Hayley from her second day at driver's ed. I asked about what she learned ("we learned signs and lines"). She also got to experience "drunk goggles" in which she was asked to walk in a straight line to retrieve a ball of paper. After bumping into the white board, desks and students, she simply dropped to her hands and knees and crawled to the ball! Passed the sobriety test? Nah, I think not. But the best part was when we were driving home and she said "I have to change a TIRE! I mean, HELLO??? Triple A!"

Monday, September 8, 2008

Things I Found In My Car

This morning I did one of those quick car cleanings - you know the kind you do lightning-fast because someone is going to be sitting in your car in a second and you just remembered you haven't cleaned it out since 1992? Yeah, well I was driving myself and my friend Amy to yoga and I had something like 43 seconds before she came over so I decided to do a quick sweep of the back of the van. These are some of the things I found: a can of chicken noodle soup (?), three water bottles in various stages of "empty" (or "full" if you're an eternal optimist), four large sticks, a huge leaf that had dried up and gone crispy and fell apart in many pieces as I removed it, a green jacket, a broken pink purse, a juice pouch missing its straw, two DVDs with no covers (Enchanted and The Bee Movie, if you wanted to know), and a "Hangman" notepad with a half-finished game on it. That was just in a few seconds. Often I find a McDonald's cup with some type of pop in it that has actually corroded the bottom of the cup and is now sitting in its own puddle of muck in one of the (13 or so) cupholders. I've found sticky pennies, petrified french fries, a coupon for a Teriyaki joint long past its expiration date, dirty socks, forgotten video games and Starbucks bags with bits of butterhorn still in them. That's the trouble with a minivan. You can spit and polish the front and never lay eyes (or hands, or body) in the cavernous back, which is only occupied by those mysterious small people. Which could explain why I found ski gloves back there in July and a sand bucket in December. For all I know, there could be an actual, living child hiding in the back of my van and I wouldn't know until I was surprised by the little moppet popping out at a stoplight. No wonder women my age lust for a smaller, more compact, faster, sleeker, shiny sports car. It's not for show. It just has less space for kid clutter. Oh yes, someday when I get my pink, 1957 T-bird, there will be nary a french fry on the floormats. Of course, by the time I get that car, I won't be eating french fries. But there might be an errant can of Ensure rolling around the back seat.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Back to School!

Another school year is upon us. Ah, the promise of fall and the first day of school. Remember the waxy smell of new Crayola crayons? Those bright pointed tips just waiting in anticipation for a blank slate of white paper on which to spread their color? Remember the new pink pearl eraser? So unblemished and angled just perfectly? The bright yellow pencils, smelling of graphite and wood, with perfect erasers? And the paste? Remember paste? All that white, creamy goodness that smelled of peppermint? You just had to taste it. And it tasted good! Alas, we've moved on to mechanical pencils and glue sticks, but the lure of new school supplies is the same. I kind of wish I got new supplies every year. I'm tempted to go out and buy myself a crisp notebook and some newly sharpened pencils (they actually come pre-sharpened now!) "just because".

So, the kids set off on Tuesday, Sept. 2. Hayley to the high school, in 10th grade this year, Hannah back to the jr. high in 8th grade, Arlie and Harrison to the elementary in 5th and 4th grades respectively. (I will attempt to attach a photo of each of them - I've never done four photos before, so we'll see!). Everyone agreed they had good teachers and the year was filled with promise.

Cut to day two. Arlie stayed home sick with a fever, stomachache, headache, sore throat - the whole package. Turns out she has an ear infection and left the dr. office with antibiotics and an inhaler for her asthma symptoms. Me? I called in "sick" to my sub job and stayed home. Day three - all four kids are home with various ailments. Luckily I didn't have to work today, but I am missing yoga, coffee and lunch with friends (can I get some sympathy?). No soccer practice this afternoon and no opening day football this evening, either. Oh well, some days are like that.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Second Anniversary!!

Today is our second anniversary! Jeff, in true romantic form, actually researched "second anniversaries" and found out that it's the year of cotton, the color is red, the gem is garnet and the flower is cosmos. So, he presented me with a gift of red dish towels, a red t-shirt, a white t-shirt, and a garnet necklace and earrings to match ("don't worry" he said "it's cheap jewelry"). All of this was presented with a card in a red envelope ("I stole it off another card, because this one had a blue envelope"), wrapped up in a red bag with red tissue paper. So sweet and thoughtful. I was really impressed that he actually put some research and thought into this anniversary. On the flip side, I had absolutely nothing planned, not even a card (who's cheap now?). And to top it off, I ended up staying home with Arlie who was quite sick. So, I took advantage of having to go to the grocery store to pick up her prescription and bought ingredients to make lasagne, garlic bread, salad and brownies for dinner/dessert. Oh, and a card! And for a "gift"? Well, in keeping with the "red" theme I chose to take him to Red Hook brewery for dinner and live music on Saturday night. That's the kind of "red" my husband will like! Anyway, it seems like a lot longer than two years that we've been married, but we both agreed it's still fun, we're still in love and we still find new things every day to admire about each other. Who can complain about that? Happy Anniversary to us! (Oh, the photo is of our engagement! Taken after Jeff did his first Olympic distance triathlon. He hid the ring in his bag the whole time and asked me to marry him at the finish line!)

How Cheap is My Husband?

Some people are thrifty. They clip coupons, don't waste food and utilize hand-me-downs. Other people are just cheap. They feed their family from feed-store gallon buckets of oatmeal, and wrap gifts in the Sunday comics. I belong to the former, my husband to the latter. This is the man who installed timers on the bathroom, garage, laundry room, pantry and kids' closet lights. Sounds thrifty, right? Except that, for example, I am the person who spends the most time in the laundry room, folding, hanging and sorting clothes. And not only do I have to listen to the clicking timer the entire time, but often when I am mid-fold, the lights go out, startling me. Hey, it's a real nice wake up call in the early morning. Nothing like a good startling first thing in the a.m. Or when the kids take a shower, and inadverently forget to leave themselves enough time on the light timer. Mid-shower the lights go out with an audible "click" followed by a "HEY!" and "someone turn on the light!!!" Inevitably, they have locked the door, causing the would-be rescuer to wrestle with a bobby pin before shedding some light (quite literally) on the situation. I swear, while all this is going on, I've heard an evil laugh (not unlike that Boris guy on "Rocky and Bullwinkle"), coming from - you guessed it - my cheap husband.

Once, I decided to clean out the pantry. It was a good thing my husband was gone on this particular weekend, because, had he not been, I might have beaned him in the head with one of the canned goods that were years past their expiration date! Canned goods! Don't those last FOREVER? I had actually never seen a canned good with an expiration date before, but I threw away at least a dozen of such items. Shortly thereafter, I was making a recipe that called for chili powder. Did we have any? Oh yes, answers cheap husband, right here. I looked at the container. The antiquated label alone should have warned me, but had I not noticed that, surely the brick-red block of solidified chili powder might have clued me in to it's age. When I inquired as to the origin of this spice, I was told "oh, I think my mom gave that to me when I was in college." College? This man is 40.

But my favorite was just the other day. He was getting ready for the day (sans shave or shower, because it was a weekend, God forbid one should shower on the weekend!). He opened up his deodorant and you know that little chunk that falls out when the product is EMPTY? You know, that "enough additional product to hold product in container"? Well, that piece came flying out and landed on the floor. I said "well, I guess you used that deodorant up to the last little bit". Did he pick it up and throw it away? No, he did not. He picked that little oblong chunk of white off the carpet and proceeded to apply it to his underarms, rubbing it like a bar of soap along those hairy pits. I said "this isn't the Depression, Jeff, we can afford new deodorant" to which he replied "Waste not, pay not." Thrifty? Cheap? You decide!