Thursday, October 30, 2008

Extreme Pumpkin Carving!

Today Harrison's class had a real treat - a local artist named Scott Ward came in and spent the entire day in the classroom carving pumpkins for the kids. The results were amazing. Here is a photo of Harrison showing off his pumpkin. And if you like it, you can check out Scott Ward's website at (I don't know the guy but he seemed really talented so I thought I'd give him some free advertising!).

Level Three!!!

Arlie started gymnastics a few weeks ago. She has always shown an affinity for gymnastics, we just never seemed to be able to fit it in our schedule. Finally, this year we decided to go for it, despite the soccer season looming. She started in the first class - Level One. After one lesson, the instructor moved her up to Level Two. After just four more classes, yesterday she was moved up to Level Three (pre-team). The instructor said she would be competing by next fall for sure!Arlie was so excited she was literally shaking for an hour! We are so proud of her - she's very dedicated and tries her best all the time. She's moving up to an hour and a half lesson every week. I've heard this can get pretty involved, up to three hours of practice several times a week if we continue to move along. That sounds pretty daunting right now, but we'll take it one step at a time. Perhaps we have a future Olympian on our hands? Or at least a scholarship recepient! (Fingers crossed!).


Hayley tried out her makeup last night for her vampire costume and it was great! She won these "real" looking vampire teeth in a trivia contest at Hot Topic and they were a great match. They looked so real. Here are some photos of her trying out her vampire look for Halloween......

Pumpkin Carving with dads!

Some photos of the kids carving pumpkins with their dads. (I don't really choose the layout of these photos - it's blogger so if they look lame, sorry!).

Pumpkin Carving!

We carved pumpkins last night (nothing like waiting till the last minute!) and Doug came over to help. Which was a good thing because I suck at carving pumpkins. Jeff is good, Doug is good, but I don't enjoy the process at all (in fact, I cheated and put some of those pre-made stick in things in my pumpkin, thus eliminating the need to cut and gut). But the kids enjoy picking out those intricate designs from the template book we have and making their dads carve them out! Harrison particularly enjoys these big, bloodshot, glowing eye things we got one year, so he usually sticks with a traditional jack-o-lantern with those bug eyes. Hannah and Arlie chose the intriciate template designs while Hayley paid tribute to her obsession with Twilight by carving the word (exactly like the book jacket) into her pumpkin. Jeff got off easy with Mr. Potato Head pieces stuck into his pumpkin (by far the easiest way to go!). This year we were lame and went to Central Market to get pumpkins. They were $4, any size. Last year we spent $70 on pumpkins at a pumpkin patch, complete with hayride. This year we spent $28. Not a bad deal and there was a tractor at the Market. So, ha! Who needs a pumpkin patch? Anyway, here are our works of art!

Pan de Muertos

Hayley is in second year Spanish this year and for extra credit last night she made pan de muertos (a 3 hour process!). Today is "El Dia de Los Muertos" - a Mexican holiday meaning "day of the dead". So, she brought home a recipe for pan de muertos and went to work on it around 7 p.m.! It turned out great (basically a braided bread topped with "bones" of bread and sprinkled with cinnamon sugar). This morning I whipped up some Mexican hot chocolate for her to take along with it to school for their celebration. This was Hayley's first attempt at bread! A lot of her baking efforts haven't been so successful (like the time she used powdered sugar instead of flour in a cookie recipe!). But this one was good. I failed to get a photo of the actual bread after it was baked, but I did catch come great ones of Hayley (the flour on the face was added for comic effect!).

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Mooommmm!!! I need 24 cupcakes

You know those comics that show a little kid waking up his mom in the middle of the night saying "I forgot I need 24 cupcakes for the class party tomorrow!" Or, "I need a turkey costume by tonight!". Well, to give him credit, Jeff did ask me for this favor yesterday, not today, and the items needed are tomorrow, so I at least had a day's notice (not that it made me work any faster!). I expect to make cupcakes for a 4th grade classroom, but for my 40 year old husband? For his Toastmaster's group? Turns out he is "snackmaster" (they really take this "master" thing too far), and in charge of "table topics" which are somewhat like conversation starters in which people have to spontaneously talk about a subject without the benefit of preparation. So, Jeff gets the idea to bring cupcakes for the snack and make one of those boxes where you stick your hand in and feel gross stuff (Halloween theme here!). He's asleep, by the way, and I just finished putting the final touches on the cupcakes and covering the boxes. Yes, two of them. I made up six things to touch - eyeballs (peeled grapes covered in hair gel), fingers (baby carrots covered in hair gel), entrails (spaghetti covered in hair gel), kidneys (small bell peppers covered in hair gel), slime (cornstarch and water), and brain matter (mashed peas). I put everything in loaf pans and lined them up in the boxes, then cut holes in the top to put your hand through. I covered the top of the boxes with an old towel. He's going to have people stick their hand in and talk for one minute about what they think they're touching. I'm thinking, this meeting is happening in the middle of the work day. People will be dressed in business attire. And they will leave with their hands smelling like hair gel and mashed peas. Gross. But funny. It reminded me of when we were kids and we'd make a "Haunted House" in our garage. We made a "maze" to crawl through with big appliance boxes. Some had things hanging down to drag through your hair, some had holes where you had to feel gross stuff, and we even had a "strobe light" room (a box covered in tinfoil in which blinking white Christmas lights were hung). We were SO cool with our haunted house! Hopefully Jeff will be as cool with his cupcakes and "icky box". (By the way, those are not MY cupcakes in the photos - mine are not nearly as cool!).


Hell must have frozen over because tonight the WHOLE family went to the YMCA and exercised. Harrison and Arlie went to the "teen room" where they played a board game and then to the Adventure Zone for some running and climbing. Hayley, Hannah, Jeff and I went to the cardio room. Jeff did the elliptical while Hayley, Hannah and I tried the stairmasters, stationary bikes, treadmills and ellipticals. I tried to keep it reasonable so they wouldn't get burnt out on the first day - so five minutes on everything, ten on the treadmill. But Hayley stayed on the elliptical 14 minutes (I did five and was thankful when it was over!). All in all, we worked out about 30 minutes, which was not bad for our first attempt at "group exercise". I'm pretty sure the kids will sleep well tonight after breaking a sweat (not a daily occurrence around here!).

Sunday, October 26, 2008

What's My Name??

I've always secretly enjoyed hearing people massacre my name. It's really not that hard "Mary-Leah". It's hyphenated, yes. But is that such a hard thing? I remember once I had to spell my name when I was opening a bank account. I said "M-a-r-y-hyphen-capital L-e-a-h" and when I received my first statement it came to "Mary'Leah Bryson". Apparently the bank teller didn't know what a hyphen was! Another time I had to say my name over the phone. When I received the mailing I had to provide my name for, it came to "Mary Lee O'Gordon". I really enjoyed that one! Top of the mornin' to ya! Once when Jeff said my name to someone they replied "Oh, is she Hawaiian?". Aloha. Mahalo. Molokai. Kauai, Maui, Mary-Leah. Yep, that makes sense. Now that I'm Mary-Leah Moore, people constantly ask me to spell my last name. Moore? Really? How many ways can you spell "Moore" in a last-name context? Today, however, was the prize winner. I received a coupon from Bath and Body Works in the mail. It came to.......Maryjo P. Gordon. What the hell? I'm not even sure how you could get that from Mary-Leah Gordon (which means they've had my name for a long time, since I've been a Moore for over two years). Yes, it's funny my name. Sometimes I get mail to "Mary Moore" which makes me laugh because that's my aunt's name. I used to get mail for "Mary Bryson" which was my grandma's name. I can't even put my name down on a restaurant waiting list without it getting mangled. And you should see the stares when they say "Name please?" and I say "Jeff". I mean, it's easier. Not exactly gender neutral, but easier. Maybe I should just start going by "M". You know, in that sort of one name, celebrity, mysterious kind of way. Just "M". I like it! I've taken to signing my emails "M-L" in the past few years. And sometimes people will call me "M-L". I don't mind that. It's better than Maryjo P. Gordon. By a long shot!

Saturday, October 25, 2008


What is it about guys and their hair? Harrison LOVED his long, shaggy, 'do. But I couldn't stand to see him peering through his LONG bangs anymore so last week I decided to cut his bangs. And then I thought, I'll just cut a little off the back. And then a little off the sides. And before I knew it, I had given him the classic "Dutch-Boy" bowl-shaped hairstyle! OMG! Poor kid. I tried to masquerade it as a cool haircut by putting in a little gel, but how can you hide the Dutch Boy really? So, the next day after school (after begging my hairdresser on the phone) I took him in for an overhaul. Fifteen minutes later, Marie had worked her magic. I know I posted about this before but now I have photos to compare. I will never cut my kids' hair again. NEVER. Mark my words.

Proud mama!

I was thinking this morning that parents are always eager to feel pride and a sense of accomplishment when their child does something great, but quick to avoid responsibility when their child does something wrong. So, I'm not sure if parents can take a lot of credit for the way they've raised their child (because good parents can raise a difficult child and rotten parents can somehow manage to produce a responsible child from time to time), but I have to say I feel so proud of my daughter right now.

Last night Hayley went to the mall with a friend. This particular friend has been troublesome from the start, with ups and downs happening all the time. Just not an easy friendship. But Hayley went with her and was planning to spend the night at this friend's house. At one point, Hayley called me, all excited, because she had won a "Twilight" trivia contest at Hot Topic (the prize - authentic looking vampire fangs! HA). She had to borrow her friend's phone because hers wasn't working. About an hour later, I get a call from an unknown number. It's Hayley again, this time on a stranger's phone. She's calling me to say her friend has just stolen a wallet from the store and after repeated attempts to get her to take it back, Hayley finally took the wallet and returned it to the store herself. She was calling to be picked up because she no longer wanted to hang out with this friend. I was so happy she had done the right thing, and so disappointed in her friend for putting Hayley in this situation (not to mention for making a really bad choice!). I immediately went to pick her up. Hayley's wallet was still in her friend's purse, so this friend and her mom stopped by a few minutes later to return the wallet. The mother apologized and I told her Hayley could no longer hang out with her daughter. This was the final straw for me. I've almost never interfered in my kids' friendships figuring it's their job to work things out, but this time I drew the line. The past history with this girl has been nothing but trouble and she has never been a true friend to Hayley. It's just not worth it. I told Hayley she needs to set her boundaries and seek out true friends. And people who are like-minded (clearly shoplifting and juvenile hall are not part of Hayley's plans!). Sadly, this friend may be sent to live with her dad as she has been in so much trouble. I feel very sorry for this girl and hope she gets the help she needs (and the firm parenting she needs). And I'm very proud of my daughter for doing the right thing and being ok with it, even though she was ridiculed ("you're such a mom") and told she was uncool. She's a good kid with a good moral foundation and I know it will take her far in life. But you don't often get opportunities to see your kids' moral side in action and to know she did the right thing makes me think we must be doing something right. Way to go Hayley. Mommy loves you!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Random musings.........

*If I have a hot flash during yoga, does it count as "hot yoga"?
*Why aren't there coupons for liquor stores? (I'd clip those!)
*If you're clipping your toenails and one of them errantly flies over to your husband's side of the bed, are you required to search for it?
*How many mini Milky Way candy bars equal one big one?

These are some of the thoughts I had today (so now you know I clipped my toenails and ate too many Milky Ways!).

After getting two disturbing emails from my sisters, I now feel I have to tread very carefully the next few days. Because bad things happen in threes. And they have already been hit! Monica wrecked her 4-wheeler and tore her ACL and has to have surgery. Marcia did a face plant (literally, her face hit a plant) falling on her front porch and cut her cheek badly. So, now it's me! Yikes. I'm scared.

Today I worked at the school (on my "day off" my nanny job) and it was nice to be back at the old digs, speaking Spanish again. I'm glad I get to keep that up while I enjoy my wonderful new job. I never thought I'd view taking care of a toddler as peaceful but it is definitely my "quiet" time! HA! With four kids (and two of them teenagers) at home, it's really loud. All the time. So, a quiet day with a toddler is a welcome reprieve.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Is it Friday yet???

Today was one of those days........just nonstop and hectic. I started out by waking up at 5:30 a.m. and making four kid lunches and my own lunch. Then, I spent an hour preparing a beef stew for the crock pot (this one did not qualify as "easy" since it required so much prep work!). I needed 1/4 cup of red wine so I had to wake Jeff because: 1. I don't drink wine 2. I can't open wine and 3. The wine is in the "wine cellar" which is the crawl space and I don't go there. Since he was awake anyway, I decided to ask him to make a loaf of bread in the bread machine for dinner. Then, I got all the kids out the door (I had to skip going to the bus stop because I was naked just out of the shower! And I didn't want the neighbors to have to poke their eyes out with a fork after seeing THAT!). I raced to work (late as usual) and worked a few hours before having to take off again to take Hannah to an orthodontist appointment. Since that was going to take 45 minutes, I let Hayley know I would be happy to provide a ride for her and her friends to Starbucks during their "extra long lunch" today. Well, that was a disaster. For one thing, I offered a RIDE, not to buy them all a drink. But that's how it turned out, because my ever tactful (and not always truthful) daughter told her friends I was "taking them to Starbucks" meaning, I guess, treating them. I did not agree, but was informed of the "no money" situation as we pulled into the parking lot. Really lame. And not cool at all. Hayley really needs to learn about not taking advantage of her mom.

So, after dropping off my van full of high-schoolers, I headed back to pick up Hannah and take her back to school. Then, I went back to work. A few hours later, I raced from work to pick Hannah up at school yet again (she stayed after) and on the way there, realized I had no gas! I also had 20 minutes to get gas, pick up all the kids and have everyone delivered to their various lessons by 4. So, since gas was the priority, I stopped and dropped $52 on a tank of gas, and $9 on various junky snacks to keep the natives quiet. I called Hayley and informed her to meet me in front of the house with 2 Advil and be ready to jump in the car. Finally I had all the kids wrangled and we headed to the girls' art class. We made it with five minutes to spare. Then took the freeway to try and make it faster to Arlie's gymnastics. She was ten minutes late.

After dropping her at the curb, Harrison and I headed to Target because we needed dog food. I figured that was the closest place to gymnastics where I could get the brand of dog food we need. Wrong. Now, you may find this unbelievable, but my dog is a vegetarian! Seriously. Just the one dog, Georgette. She is actually allergic to meat. She can only eat salmon or soy based dog foods or she gets skin allergies (I mean, really, what IS that crap? She's a DOG!). So, I was looking for our trusty Beneful. But had to settle for some other brand that was salmon based (with added yogurt for my dog's sensitive digestive system..........spare me!). A quick scan of the clearance racks and we were racing out of Target and back to pick Arlie up - with one minute to spare. Harrison ran in to retrieve her while I circled the parking lot. As soon as I had both kids in the car, we headed to the hairdressers. Now, Harrison had an unfortunate incident with some scissors (ok, I tried to cut his hair) and for all of today was sporting the classic "Dutch Boy" look - blonde, bowl haircut (I did not use a bowl, but I might as well have!). I started with his bangs, but I just couldn't take the shaggy 'do anymore! (See picture in previous post). Thankfully, Marie, who is a hair god icon, fixed his sad hair in just fifteen minutes. That left me 18 minutes to pick up the girls from art class. We made it just in time and I finally had all four kids again as we turned toward home. At least we had that nice dinner awaiting us!

I was really looking forward to an adult beverage when I got home but we were tragically out of fixings for my favorites so I had to settle for three fun size Milky Way's and a glass of milk. Ah eyes are heavy.............g'night!

Monday, October 20, 2008

The Blue Train!

Here we are at the BHS game on Friday night! Wow, they really get into the spirit here about their football. Kids dress up in team colors, paint their faces and the students spend the whole game standing in the student section, cheering on the team. We had the unfortunate experience of getting stuck in the student section, thus having to stand and cheer along with the high school students the entire game. The younger kids spend most of their time running around with their friends and visiting the concession stand! It's a fun, hometown activity. And the fact that we won was a bonus! 19-0. Go Cougs!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Clammer Time!

Jeff, Harrison and Arlie spent most of the weekend clamming and camping at Grayland State Park. Jeff had a BIG test on Saturday morning, which culminated two years of studying. After four stressful hours, he knew he'd need a break, so decided to take advantage of clamming "season" and go overnight. So, they headed off yesterday afternoon and had a blast digging at night with thousands of other clammers. They got their limit (45 clams) and Jeff is now steaming them open in preparation for clam chowder later. Yum! Harrison and Arlie were delighted to find part of their fort from spring break still on the beach and made a new fort in a big hole they found nearby. The evening awarded a beautiful sunset and the weather was perfect. Not a bad way to spend an October evening on the Washington Coast!

Girls' Weekend!

Well, sort of a girls' weekend. Since Jeff took the younger ones clamming and camping overnight, the girls and I had a girls' weekend. We went shopping to Target and the mall, had dinner at Billy McHale's and went to see "The Secret Life of Bees" (very good, but read the book, too!). This morning we went to Starbucks and Jamba Juice in our pajamas! And I said something funny that made the girls laugh until Jamba Juice came out their noses (must have been pretty funny!). We came back home, put up a few Halloween decorations, then watched "Don't Mess With the Zohan" at home (stupid funny). Then, I escaped to a Pampered Chef party while they watched a couple of other movies. Now, the house is a disaster zone, the girls are still in their jammies, Jeff and the kids got home with wet, sandy clothes and lots of clams, and we're heading into dinner time. Hayley and I have a photography class tonight, too - I got free photography classes with my camera and finally had time to take them. Our first one was last night, and tonight is Digital 2 and then we have an Organize, Print and Share class, then a break for December. After that, we learn all the fancy stuff! Which is good because I have this little attachment that I have NO IDEA what it's function is, but I sometimes put it on when I see other photographers using theirs! Hopefully I will learn it's usefulness in my future classes!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The 40-Year-Old Nanny

I have a new job! After waiting forever to get hired again by the school I've been subbing at, I was perusing Craig's List and stumbled upon a nanny/babysitting job that had the perfect days and hours I was looking for. The pay was better than I've been getting at the school district and the family was so nice and laid-back, and it turns out they are moving in Dec. right up the street from me! As it is, they live 15 minutes away, so it was convenient already. The job is relatively easy - provide child care for the 19 month old while mom takes the 3 1/2 year old to various therapies (she is developmentally delayed and has vision problems due to an injury at birth). On Fridays, I have both girls for a few hours while the mom gets her errands done, etc. They are both adorable, sweet little girls, really easy to care for and the parents are genuinely nice and accomodating. They were willing to work around appointments I had previously scheduled and are very flexible. So, it seemed to be a perfect fit! Ironically, the day after I started this job, the school called me for an interview. But I will make more money working 15 hours a week at the nanny job than I would working 20 hours a week at the school. It's a no-brainer! And we can really use the paycheck. Plus, I forgot how fun it is to be with little kids, reading board books, singing along to nursery rhymes and how sweet they are when they're tired and ready for a nap! It's my baby fix. I never thought I'd get back into child care in this venue (thinking I'd just keep working at the school district) but it's a welcome change. My days and hours are more set and there's no annoying phone calls at all hours for potential sub jobs. So, we'll see how it works out! I'm happy because I get to go to yoga on my days off, plus have a couple of days during the week to just do everything I need to do around here. Although I did put the baby's diaper on backward the first time. It's been a few years............

Jeff's hunting woes!

So, I only have five minutes to post before I head to yoga, but I decided to post a little something on Jeff's misadventures yesterday while hunting! He headed out (alone, save for Shade) and decided to go to a different hunting spot than usual because the usual one was crowded. (Mistake number 1 - always let someone know where you'll be). When he arrived at the new hunting spot, he found a bridge he needed to cross to get to the fields. This bridge inexplicably had several feet of it missing from both sides (the planks were missing), thus making it impassable. So, Jeff, being the avid hunting man (insert manly grunts here) that he is, waded into the water and tried to cross the marsh. Halfway across, he sank up to his knees in mud and muck! Always the true-blue hunter, he managed to throw his gun up on the bridge (Mistake number 2 - save YOURSELF, not the gun!). Finally, after managing to cross the marsh (remember, poor Shade had to fend for himself on this adventure and was slogged in muck up to his haunches at this point), he headed for an area where he might start hunting. No dice. Two other hunters were already there. So, Jeff decided to head to another area he knew. However, upon reaching the end of the trail, he was faced with a creek and no means to cross it. You guessed it, he waded in. (Mistake number 3 - never enter a body of water until you're sure of it's depth). Suddenly he sank to his chest and was forced to grab reeds and weeds from the shore to pull himself out. After recovering from that harrowing adventure, he tried to find the trail. No luck. He bushwhacked through 100 yards of nearly impassable woods, scratching his face and hands, and moving his now nearly 400 lb. body (remember, he was wearing hunting pants and was wet and covered with mud) through this mess. Panicking now, he tried to make a phone call to let me know he might be "late" (meaning he planned to keep going and find his way even if it became dark! Mistake number 4 - never be in the woods after dark!). Lo and behold, his cell phone had succumed to the effects of being submerged and was no longer serviceable. Now, he was on his own, no one knew where he was and he was wet, cold and exhausted (Mistake number 5 - always take food and water, and a light source, with you, in case you are lost in the woods overnight). Finally, he decided to make his way back, found a county road and had to hike a mile, cold and wet, back to his car. Needless to say, he was totally spent when he arrived home, sank into a warm bath (drawn by his perfect hunting wife - hey, I had no birds to cook up, I had to do something!), and downed a glass (or more?) of wine. All that and no birds. I don't get it. I just don't. Mistake number 6 - thinking hunting is "fun". Huh?

Monday, October 13, 2008

Mom Magnet

I've noticed that my kids tend to gravitate closer and closer to me as the night wears on. Sort of that "getting ready for bed" routine in which they shower, brush teeth, start to settle down, and then look for me to give it all some closure. Except in the rare instances when I go to bed first. Like tonight - I just lay down on the bed waiting for the kids to finish doing something in my bathroom (shower, use all my makeup, destroy my sink area) and eventually they all ended up in my bed, reading their journals. When they were little, I got this fabulous idea to keep a regular journal of the daily ups and downs of their lives. Well, if you think that actually happened, you don't have kids! Because in between actually LIVING those ups and downs, no mother really has time to write about them. But I tried. And succeeded in some ways. Like, I have a very detailed chronology of my pregnancy with Harrison but after he was born, I skipped to 3 months, then a few more months and at one point, I skipped three whole years of writing! Same for the girls, as I usually write in all their journals on the same day. Three years? What the hell was I doing for three years that I didn't have time to write about their days? Their cute little sayings? When Arlie came into our lives, she came up with some pretty funny sayings of her own, so I got a journal for her too. While it's not full of details about her early days, we are trying to make up for lost time by recording the sometimes hysterical things she says. And once in a while, I find time to update a little about their lives. I'm hoping this give them an insight into how they were at different ages. It's actually an education for me too (reading about Hayley at age four is like reading about her now! Some things don't change and you really see how ingrained a person's personality is. At four, I was writing about Hayley's "take charge" ways and at 15 she's still a take charge girl). So, I really treasure these books and more than that, the memories of the kids hanging out on our bed, reading and laughing hysterically at their books. To that end, I leave you with some memorable quotes:
"Daddy, I will walk on your back for you. But first I will walk on Mommy's back because no one rubs mommy's back. It won't take long because Mommy is so short." - Hayley, age 4
"Why do they call it a restaurant? I mean, people rest there, but what is a 'raunt'?" - Hayley, age 5
"I'm a Cancer, Hannah is a Leo, and Harrison is a.......cappucino!" - Hayley, age 9
"Thank you, God, for shirts and daddy and trees and me. Amen." - Hannah, age 2
"Mommy, you have monkey tree hair." - Hannah, age 3
Hannah: "I'm bored." Mom: "I really hate it when you say that! You are lucky to be alive!" Hannah: "I said I was BORED, not DEAD!" - age 4
Arlie: "I want to ride my red truck" Dad: "It's not charged." Arlie: "Well, get off your a** and charge it!" - age 2
"He was smiling cheek to eye" - Arlie, age 9, describing her cousin, DJ
Scene - Jeff in the kitchen, eating spare ribs, sauce all over his face and hands. Enter Arlie "So, dad, how's that Weight Watchers working out for you?" - age 10
Scene - Harrison on the bed by mommy, pushing on her stomach. When asked what he was doing he replied "trying to push all the air out so you won't have a big tummy but it doesn't seem to be working!" - age 3
"Mommy, what's God's middle name?" - Harrison, age 3
"I am the king. I rule this house" - Harrison, age 4

Sunday, October 12, 2008

What's in my pantry?

So, last week I stepped in to the pantry and something smelled - weird! I'm not sure how to describe the smell, but it was definitely "off" and I was certain a culprit lurked in there somewhere. Jeff claimed he couldn't smell it (typical male) and insisted it was my imagination. But I knew otherwise. Which led to cleaning the pantry this weekend. Which led to a bag of potatoes that had gone way past that sprouty stage where they start to spring green things out of their leathery skins. In fact, I am not sure exactly what stage these potatoes were in, but when Jeff removed the offending bag, hundreds of little fruit-fly things escaped and attached themselves to the walls and ceiling of the pantry. As you might imagine, I FREAKED! We sucked them up the vacuum and kept at it until we could see no more. Then, we gutted and organized the contents of the pantry, washed all the shelves, floor and walls and put everything back in. Now, my pantry is SO organized and nice. I know it will last about one more day and then the kids will be back to trash it. To reward ourselves, we went out to eat at The Rock, a local pizza and beer joint. We ordered "Fire and Rain" their "buffalo-style pizza". This pizza was the hottest thing I have ever eaten! The buffalo sauce was toxic, it actually made my lips and tongue go numb with the fire! The "rain" of course, was your choice of drink. Jeff wisely chose beer. I ordered a "Miami Ice". I watched the bartender make it and it seemed like he was a bit heavy-handed on the liquor. Well, let's just say he was! I have never been so "impaired" on one drink! It was all I could do to get home and into bed, where I lay while the room spun around me. I glanced at the clock and realized it was only 8:30! God, is this what it's come to? I'm a 40 year old lightweight who gets knocked on her ass by one drink and has to go to bed by 8:30? Pathetic.

Today we headed out in the a.m. to have breakfast at Denny's and then head to the gun range to shoot shotguns (can you say "redneck"?). After we downed a Grand Slam and a Skillet, we arrived only to find a bunch of old men and their guns and a full parking lot! Damn. No way was I going to attempt to shoot a 20 gauge shotgun in the company of these men. I was hoping for a quiet day where I could make a fool of myself in semi-privacy. So, I opted out while Jeff just couldn't resist having a round of shooting clay pigeons. I don't remember what it was called - skeet or trap or something like that. All I know is they all lined up, and one by one yelled "pull" and attempted to shoot hunter-orange clay disks (please, hunter-orange? When have you ever seen a hunter-orange bird?). Jeff missed a few, but mostly he hit his targets and came away happy. He asked "what do you want to do now?" and I delivered the most dreaded response - "let's go to the craft show". Now, most men will tell you they'd rather poke a hot fork in their eye than go to a craft show, but I figured I just sat around and watched a bunch of guys shoot guns, the least he could do was accompany me to the craft show for an hour. So, off we went. Of course, we "breezed" through the booths (Jeff speed) and then wandered around some shops for a while. Then, Jeff bought me a huge bouquet of flowers and we headed home........where I kept working on finalizing the pantry. Now, I'm matching lids and containers and cleaning off the counters which were covered with crap just last night. If I could just find someplace to store Jeff's bazillion cookbooks..........

Saturday, October 11, 2008

How Big is a Bite?

As many of you know, my husband cooks. That alone is reason enough to stay with him forever, but of course, there are many other reasons why I love him. And he cooks wonderfully delicious meals, whipped up in record time and presented with a bit of flair. Definitely something I am not nearly as accomplished at. I can cook, but my fare is decidedly midwestern in origin - casseroles, crock pot, comfort food and lots of baking! So, having Jeff cook opens me up to new flavors, and dishes I might not ever have tried. And more than that, I appreciate the simple gesture of having a meal put in front of me that I didn't have to cook. Just that one task off my plate makes my life so much easier. So, I am truly grateful. That being said, I have to complain about one thing!! (Hey, it's my job to nag!). The difference in my cooking and Jeff's is that I cut everything up into basically 1 inch pieces and he barely cuts up anything at all. Last night, while eating my salad, I said "how am I supposed to fit this in my mouth?" For one thing, the "salad" consisted of HUGE pieces of romaine lettuce (big enough to choke a horse) and slices of tomato - slices, not dices. So, everything required additional cutting before consuming. And I don't know about you, but I like things cut up so I don't have to do any more work while eating. I even cut up my steak into toddler-sized bites before I start eating so I can just enjoy shoveling food into my mouth and skip all the knife work during the meal. Jeff just laughed at my dilemma and I said "how can a bite-sized girl make it in this world with a big chunk man?" to which he laughed and said "you have to blog about that". So I am! But seriously, maybe it stems from years of cutting food for toddlers and preschoolers but somehow I never left that stage. I even cut baby carrots in half! My salads consist of everything fitting into a 1x2 sized bite. (No, I don't measure it, I'm not that insane!). But I enjoy being able to eat something that doesn't fill up my whole mouth, choking me as it goes down. Jeff has actually deferred to me on this point occasionally. Like last night, our roasted red potatoes fit into my specified portion size. But he threw out his rebel side with the salad. Even his bites are huge. If he asks for a bite of my toffee almond bar from Starbucks, I'm hesitant, knowing it will come back half eaten. I remember growing up my mom and dad always took what I deemed "huge" bites. I hated it when they asked for a bite of my food, because it would come back with a shark-sized chomp. What's wrong with little bites? I don't know about you, but I prefer to see people eat without their cheeks bulging. So, I guess this becomes one of those compromises. I will continue to dice up carrots and potatoes, and slice apples paper-thin. And Jeff will throw a whole side of beef in the pot and call it dinner. Perhaps is harkens back to a time when we used our hands and tore meat from the bone. It's primal and manly. But they invented knives and forks for a reason and I'm happy with that. Now, I'll just be off eating my cookie. Which will take me 12 bites. Jeff eats his in two.

Good Dog, Shade!

Besides being a cookie thief and a butter stealer, Shade's primary job is being a hunting dog. Now, seeing as we live smack in the middle of suburbia, you can imagine that his hunting forays are few and far between. But come October, when the air gets chilly and the leaves start turning, Shade starts to get the itch to hunt (or is that Jeff?). Specifically, he's a bird dog. His job is to hunt out and "flush" the birds from their hiding spots, whereupon they fly up in panicked calamity only to be shot down by Jeff (however, since he's a lousy shot, most of them are perfectly safe! haha sorry Jeff!). Oh, and to be exact, I should mention that the birds in question are pheasant. And you apparently can only shoot the males. And only two of them. So, basically Jeff and Shade walk around grassy, wet fields for several hours for the chance to shoot two smallish birds that we end up eating (and kudos to the lucky one who finds a bit of shot in their bite!). We actually have to sort of pass it off as chicken and tell the kids after that it was pheasant, otherwise we'd hear way too much "eww" to serve this delicacy. Now, I'm not much for hunting. I didn't grow up with anyone in my family hunting and I just can't imagine putting an arrow into a sweet, innocent deer. But I have accepted (as we all do in marriage) this "difference" in my husband and his desire to keep the tradition alive. I even let my son join him on a hunting trip last year. Harrison wore his own hunter orange vest and hat and carried his cap gun. After Jeff had shot down a pheasant, Harrison took his own "shot" with the cap gun and proclaimed it his "first kill". Yikes. But I digress. Back to Shade. This is a dog who was basically bred for hunting. And he loves it. He's not the finest bird dog one might find (sometimes he just plain misses those birds and he refuses to retrieve). But it's his purpose and perhaps the strongest bond he and Jeff have. After a long day of hunting yesterday, Jeff gave Shade a good washing (hunting makes for a dirty dog!), and he sauntered in the house, exhausted and happy (Shade, not Jeff.......actually Jeff too). But poor Shade. In his 11 (or is it 12?) years of existence, he's done this countless times, but he's getting old. There's no hiding it. His hips are arthritic, he sways when he walks, and sometimes he takes a bit longer than normal to get up from lying down. But most of the time you wouldn't know this is a dog who is basically the human equivalent of an 80 year old man. He gallops, never runs, and is as wild and frisky as a new puppy most days. He's full of energy and thinks he's a lap dog (he's huge!). And for all his naugtiness, he's Jeff's dog. That bond between a man and his dog is ever apparent. So, last night, Jeff said "what am I going to do when Shade is gone?" Surely his days are not long. He could barely climb the stairs last night after a few hours of hunting, and he even earned himself the right to sleep on the bed (a VERY rare occurence). He could barely heft himself up on the bed and when he did, he fell asleep immediately and slept through the night, snoring like the 80 year old man he is! In fact, he's still sleeping (so is Jeff). Poor old guy. Shade, not Jeff. So, even though this dog has done enough bad things to last a lifetime, he's still loved. And he's Jeff's dog. As soon as he sees a shotgun or the color orange, that dog is ready to jump in the van and go. And he will probably go like that till the day he dies. Which, hopefully, won't be soon. Because Jeff still needs his dog.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

The Economy

I don't know about you, but I'm not thrilled that our government handed down a ridiculously large sum to bail out the economy and then some of the companies (*cough*AIG*cough*), spent $500K on a manager's retreat complete with $25K worth of spa treatments. Everyone is hurting from economic hard times right now. As such, I offer you some money-saving tips to help you through these hard times:
* Shop in your pantry. You won't believe the crap that's hiding back there. Last week we made a bean soup from a mix I got as a gift circa 2005 (it was still good, I swear). The recipe called for andouli sausage, but we only had hot dogs. Such is life. It filled the bellies. One day I put nutella and peanut butter on saltine crackers and passed that off as a "sandwich" for the kids' lunches. They loved it and asked what it was! And I've rediscovered baking instead of buying treats. I made the most awesome snickerdoodles last week. But don't take this too far. Don't be Jeff, and keep cayenne pepper for 18 years (and still keep using it). I mean, if all you have is a few sardines and some stale crackers, spend $9.99 on a family meal at KFC. Your kids will thank you, I promise.
* Shop at the thrift store. Eww, you say? Gross, you say? Well, let me tell you something. I have found brand name clothes for just a few dollars at the thrift store, brought them home, washed them up (with my own stringent laundry standards - no cooties here!), and put them in the kids' closets. They usually have no idea the origin of these clothes but are happy to have them. Who cares if it's new? It's like a car - once you drive it off the lot, it depreciates. Same with clothes. You buy them new, get bored with them, buy more new, and what happens to the old clothes? Still good, still stylish, and now less than half price at your friendly neighborhood thrift store. Bargain for me! I actually bought Hannah a Hollister shirt at the ACTUAL Hollister store for her birthday, and she suspiciously asked "is this from the thrift store?" Yeah, my kids have rarely had something "brand name and cool" new from a store. But that doesn't mean they don't wear "brand name and cool". It's just from a different store. Yesterday I bought plastic hangers at the thrift store, 20 for $1. At Fred Meyer, they were 20 for $5.49. Now, I don't know if you agree, but I don't care if my plastic comes from Fred Meyer or the thrift store. They are utilitarian hangers, for crying out loud. And I'm sure they originally came from Fred Meyer in the first place! For those of you local, check out Helping Hands on Both/Ev highway or Alligator Purse in Bothell Landing.
* Find free entertainment! With a family of six, anything we do is expensive. A trip to a fast food restaurant, admission to a museum, swimming at a local pool. Do you know how much six Blizzards at Dairy Queen cost? So, we try to do stuff that's free or cheap. Like geocaching, camping (after the intital expense of the camper, campsites are around $25 a night for hookups), going to the zoo or science center (again, after the initial purchase of a year long membership at basically the same as it cost our family to get in once), going on bike rides, hikes or just having friends over for dinner (make it potluck!). We may not see all the latest movies when they come out, or shop at the mall more than a few times a year, but we do have fun.
* Nix wasteful expenses. This might include premium cable, the latest gaming console, eating out, and (gasp) Starbucks. Now, I must admit, I have failed miserably at the Starbucks thing. I just can't not have it! I'm addicted. I admit it. And sadly, for me, it's not just the coffee, but the pastries, the fact that it usually involves visiting with a friend, the "me time" - it's so many things I'm just not willing to give up. And I often have a kid or two in tow so that really drives up the expense (and makes me cringe when I see their drink or pastry half-eaten in the car the next day!). I actually added up our Starbucks expenses for a month (and it was summer, mind you, so many of those trips included the kids) and it was $90! That's $90 that could be spent on a lot of other things, instead of something that makes you fat. That being said, I still think it's one of my few indulgences and although I've cut back, I don't intend to banish this little luxury entirely. But I could go forever with no cable. It's all about choices.
* Give your kids an allowance and make them responsible for all toys/games outside of birthdays and Christmas, makeup, mall expenditures, movie admission, etc. Basically anything social or indulgent they want to do (including clothing, if they are already set with the basics). Once they have to make their own purchases, it's amazing how much they can do without. This brings me to another topic, however, which is that once your kids learn you are cutting back on expenses, they assume you are "poor". In fact, just this past week Harrison said we are "dirt poor". Now, I don't know about you, but I'm thinking having a $500K roof over your head, nice clothes to wear, good food to eat, and a family who loves you makes you anything but "dirt poor". In this world of indulgences, our kids are growing up not having any idea of what poor really is. Or doing without. Or, worse, having true hardship. And in a way, that's sad. So, don't feel bad about not buying your kid whatever they want, or making them do chores, or earn the money for driver's ed. It's all part of that big, scary thing called "reality".
* Don't forget that there are many others out there far worse off than you. Be grateful for what you have and don't aspire for anything more than the basics - a house to keep you warm, food on your table, a family, friends, clothes to keep you warm. Anything else is gravy. When it comes down to it, ask anyone who's struggled through hardship, or someone who is dying of cancer and you will see that you really have all you need. So, share the wealth and help others. Pick a couple of charities you regularly support (for us it's the Arthritis Foundation and Relay for Life) and support them generously. Get involved in fundraising and doing for others. It takes the focus off your own troubles and what you don't have.
* When you do have a few pennies to rub together, treat yourself, and know you deserve it!

There. That's my public service announcement for the day. And as for the economy and the bailout - here's my advice to those who got themselves in hot water in the first place - don't buy more than you can afford. If you run up debt, expect that you'll eventually get screwed. And if you're a business owner, conduct your business in a prudent manner. Your gross expenditures have now become our problem and we're already just making ends meet. Be responsible for your own actions so they don't become the problems of a whole nation. The End. Stepping off my soap box now.


Arlie has added gymnastics to her repertoire of activities. She's pretty naturally talented at it. After the first lesson, she moved up to the next level. Two lessons later, and she was doing a handstand on the balance beam and a back hip circle on the uneven bars! Can't wait to see what she does next! Yesterday I took some photos - they're not great, but the best I could get from the "observation deck".

Bad Dog Shade - Part Four

Yesterday morning Jeff opened up the garage door to let the dogs in so they could go out back. In the second it took for Shade to dash ahead of Charlie and be out of Jeff's sight for a second, he had grabbed a stick of butter off the countertop and had it in his mouth. Jeff saw him and said "what do you have?" and he dropped the butter and tried to hide. Jeff grabbed him and yelled at him and Shade had the audacity to growl at him! Needless to say, he spent the entire day outside as punishment. Bad, bad dog!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008


Let me start this post by telling you a remarkable fact. I have never been in a car accident. Well, let me clarify that. I have never been in a car accident when I was driving. And I've only been in a couple of minor accidents in a car where someone else was driving. Beyond that, I have never put a dent or scratch in any car I've driven. Until 2007 when we got our new Toyota Sienna minivan. Not a month after we got it, I was backing up at work, and backed it right into a concrete divider outside the school parking lot. The damage was minor, but noticeable - a scratch on the driver's side in the back and the (plastic!) bumper had come loose. I just snapped the bumper back on and we decided to live with the scratch. Fast forward to yesterday. I picked Hayley up at school and she was driving to an appointment. After meandering through some construction, she slowed to take a right hand turn. The driver behind her was going straight and apparently did not notice that she had slowed down. WHAM! He rear-ended us. Luckily no one was hurt (although tonight Hayley is complaining of neck pain and dizziness!) but it rattled our nerves and caused us an hour of stress we could have otherwise done without. Poor Hayley, not even driving a month and already experienced her first accident. Hopefully this will be the last! And luckily it was not her who hit someone! My car has damage to the tailgate, bumper and rear quarter panel, so I'm sure repairs will be costly. It appears the other driver's insurance will cover it, so hopefully we won't have a huge repair bill on our hands. We're still working out the details, but it was an interesting afternoon. Which ended with me having a throbbing headache and a nice alcoholic drink with my neighbor later in the evening! Whew.

Monday, October 6, 2008

A Family Sunday

Sunday I was finally feeling up to getting out of the house (with the exception of Saturday and two soccer games, I had pretty much been in bed or just hanging around the house since Wednesday, the day of my surgery). So, first we went to church. Now, you all know hell must have frozen over for the Moore/Gordon family to show their faces at church! But we were there just the same. Jeff said it was "opening day of church season" and who would miss opening day? The kids went to Sunday school while Jeff and I attended the service (and said a few extra prayers for Hayley who put on quite a show the night before....something about "you can't make me go"). After church, we took our friend Natalie and headed to the Pacific Science Center. We have a membership and the kids love this place. It's basically the same as it's been for years, but new shows and exhibits travel through. This time, we went to see "Lucy" the oldest known ancestoral skeleton related to humans. The exhibit was great (an audio tour, so we all got to carry around these cool wands/phone things that told the story as we went along), and seeing the actual bones of a 3 million year old skeleton was amazing! Also, the recreation of what Lucy would look like really surprised the kids. Pretty much like a chimpanzee walking upright and the size of a seven-year-old girl. Before the Lucy exhibit, we saw "Mystery of the Nile" - an IMAX film about the first group of adventurers to travel the Nile from source to sea. Jeff and Arlie had never been to an IMAX film so that was cool. And it was a good show (a real nail-biter at points when the rafts flipped over and the crocodiles slithered in to try and make a snack out of the crew). Later, the kids went to the planetarium to see a show about the origins of Halloween. I stayed behind on this one (planetariums make me dizzy) and Jeff ran down the street to a store to get some snacks because everyone was starving. We headed home munching on Goldfish crackers and Capri Suns. All in all, a fun family day. Something we don't get around here too often. Enjoy the photos!

Harrison has great soccer hair

Harrison's team was victorious this weekend as well, and I got a few shots of him in action. What I noticed most was his fabulous blonde locks and the way they streamed behind him Fabio-style when he was in action! He really loves his golden locks. Oh yeah, he played well, too! He's really getting aggressive out there on the field. Notice the full body contact with "the mean kid" (he pushed, he kicked, he tripped). It's a rough world out there on the grass!

Arlie's a soccer star!

First of all, I failed to give a recap of last week's game, because I wasn't actually there. I had to take Harrison to his game and so missed Arlie's game. And wouldn't you know it, that's when she scored a goal! I missed it. But she did it, and Jeff was there to witness it. So, way to go Arlie! This past weekend's game was not as action-packed as previous games, but the teams were pretty evenly matched. Arlie played well and the team left victorious once again! Go Rockstars!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Fare thee well, Chomper!

Ok, so here's a recap on my surgery. And that being on drugs thing? Well, I've taken a few Vicodin today but I swear they are doing nothing for me except making me feel spacey. NOT working on the pain, I tell you. So, I've resorted to swiping a few of Jeff's 800 mg. ibuprofen and those seem to be taking the edge off. But I still feel "weird" and I really hate that feeling.

I went in at 6:45 a.m. to get everything started. Filled out some paperwork, waited, was escorted to an "interview room", waited, several people came in to take vitals, talk to me, etc. I was told to undress completely and put on a gown and a robe. So, I got to sit naked, wrapped in thin material for over an hour while I waited for the doctor. He breezed in, said "so what are we doing today?" (you don't know?) and I waited some more. Finally I walked to OR #1 where I was greeted by no less than 8 people! I felt kind of weird, like "here I am for the party!". A nurse took off my robe, at which point I'm sure part of my butt was showing, but I said "I guess in a few minutes this won't matter anyway" because I knew my most glorious parts were about to be exposed for the world to see (and it didn't help that Jeff mentioned "what if they have cell phones and they snap pictures?"). The anesthesiologist positioned my arm on the little "arm bed" (for lack of a better word!) and produced a syringe the size of a baby bottle! He said "you're gonna love this stuff" and pushed the plunger. I felt a burning sensation in my throat and face and then I was out! I woke up with an oxygen mask on my face (a bit claustrophobic) and tried to pull myself out of drugged oblivion. Before I was quite ready for that, two nurses had me up and at 'em, getting dressed and out to a recliner where I sat with Jeff while the pharmacy delivered my pain meds and a nurse discharged us. I had made previous arrangements with my dr. to actually see "Chomper" and all it's weirdness, but alas, someone had sent him on to the lab, so all I got were some lame photos (and of course, the cyst was intact in the photos, so I will never know if it had teeth, hair, muscle fibers, or thyroid tissue!). I wasn't really in a position to worry much about it, I could barely stand up long enough to walk to the car. I rested, dozed and finally got up for dinner (which was delivered by my wonderful neighbor Carla, along with gifts for everyone - she's SO generous!). I felt pretty chipper! I even cleaned up after dinner! And checked my email! And watched the kids work on their dance! Yay! This wasn't so bad.

Cut to 2:30 a.m. I woke up, sure I had just been run over by a semi truck. My body hurt from head to toe. And I had to pee. I shuffled out of bed, taking my Vicodin with me, my glass of Gatorade and a package of graham crackers to the bathroom. I took a Vicodin, a swig of Gatorade and ate half a graham cracker before going to the bathroom. I could barely move, so that was a challenge. I finally shuffled back to bed and inched my way back down to a flat position. Where did all this pain come from? Yikes. I dozed and woke up again around 8 and decided to shower. Wow, that was a feat. Plus, I had to replace a few bandaids when I got out (just love ripping those suckers off my skin!). Carla brought Jeff and I coffee and pastries and we visited until around 10. I went back to bed, and lay there until 4:45, unable to go to sleep, but not feeling well enough to do anything but lay there with my eyes closed. I finally got up to check my email and blog. Another dinner is on it's way from my other neighbor Amy, so that's nice. But I still hurt like hell and I'm really hoping tomorrow is better.

At any rate, I survived and now my insides just have to catch up. Will write more later when I'm feeling more chipper. Thanks for everyone who sent texts and phone calls and good wishes my way! Much appreciated!

Grey's Anatomy

I started this post yesterday but my laptop shut off so I'm starting over. I have a couple more entries to write, but kept wanting to put this rant on before I forget. And yes, I am under the influence of drugs. More on that later.

So, last week was the premiere of Grey's Anatomy. Now, this is one of only three shows I watch on TV regularly, so I was pretty excited. I have vascillated between liking this show and thinking it's totally ridiculous and the latter was true of the premiere. For one thing, I don't really care anymore what happens with MerDer and Meredith is so committment-phobic that she deserves to be an old maid who lives to a ripe old age and then dies and gets eaten by her 27 cats. And that icicle that stabbed Yang? PLEASE! Seattle Grace Hospital is supposed to be in SEATTLE! And I have lived here since 1985 and not even during the "Arctic Blast" have I seen an icicle that big on any structure in the Seattle area. In fact, the only icicles you might find during the coldest of days in Seattle might be hanging from the wheel wells on your car. But one big enough to stab you? HAHA! So ridiculous. While being annoyed by that stupidity, I was also totally peeved about the huge M*A*S*H* ripoff! Now, I'm not so young that I don't remember that show and watching it faithfully (it helped that my mom was totally addicted). So, when this Captain Hunt or whatever his name was came waltzing in to the Grey's set, having performed a tracheotomy with a ballpoint pen out in the field, I thought - NOT original. Radar did that in the field in South Korea circa 1972. Please, can't they come up with something original and believable? I'm waiting to see if tonight's episode is anything of either. This one might get scratched off my list. Guess I'll have to start watching "John and Kate Plus 8" or something more believable.