Saturday, February 28, 2009

Stay Tuned!

Great news! Jeff received a job offer and it's in the same business park he was previously working in! So, no changes to our lifestyle at all (save for the somewhat smaller salary). He still has an interview in Post Falls on Monday, so he's waiting to see how that goes before making a final decision, but at this point it's looking good that he will be employed again next week (after exactly one month of unemployment) and we'll be able to breathe a sigh of relief. He's worked so hard, more than full time, since he was laid off, on his job search and his efforts have paid off. Yay Jeff! Stay tuned for the final decision and details, coming soon!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Interview for Life

Jeff is going through a special sort of hell during this job search. It's called scrutinizing every aspect of your life and tearing it apart bit by bit. Interviewing, you have to present your very best self - no room for self-doubt. You have to convey "I'm your man" without sounding arrogant or cocky. You get asked difficult questions such as "why did you leave your last job?" and "why didn't you list your former supervisor as a reference?" Never an easy thing to talk about. Even if you were laid off, there is always that air of "well, WHY?" That sense of were you good enough? The perpetual why that will never be answered. As to who you list a a reference - well, that is also fraught with peril. You might list someone you think will sing your praises only to find out they didn't sing very loud. And if you don't list your boss? Well, who doesn't think THAT is weird? It's very much like getting a divorce - two sides to the story, and no one will ever know the intricacies of your intimate relationship. So, people go with what they have - first impressions, "I heard this", and such. It's enough to make a person doubt everything about themselves. It's the ultimate sell job. And the dichotomy of it all - one the one hand you are a walking advertisement - "unemployed" "desperate for an income" "I'll do anything". On the other hand, you can't sell out. The skills and experience you've worked so hard for and are so valuable suddenly get cheapened if you accept a "lesser" position. No matter how you spin it, it's a quandry. Being too good or not good enough. Selling yourself or selling out. No wonder he said he feels like he wants to sleep for three weeks!

On a lighter note, he's racking the latest homebrew right now - Lusty Leprechaun - for St. Patrick's day! My book club will sample it tomorrow night and then we'll serve the rest at the party we're having to celebrate the wearin' o' the green. Cheers!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Weight of the World

I've been humming along quite fine lately, although our lives are in utter turmoil with Jeff unemployed and us not knowing where/how/when it will all turn out! However, for some reason, today I really felt the weight of everything coming down hard. The idea that we might have to move, combined with the sheer terror of having to get this house "sell ready" was a bit more than I could bear. I mean, I'm all up for adventure, I've moved a couple dozen times, so it's not the actual moving that kills me. But when you add it all up.........I've lived in Seattle for 24 years, longer than anywhere else. I've lived in this particular house almost 9 years. That's a record for me! And I really like my house. I love the location, the layout, the park behind my house and my wonderful neighbors. Nothing I'd want to leave anytime soon. But after I stopped obsessing over selling our house in this crappy ass economy, I started to think about the huge What If? What if Jeff doesn't find a job before his severance runs out? What if we have to accept a job with a smaller salary when we were barely making ends meet on his previous salary? What if we lose our house? Aauugghh!!! It's all too much. Thus the cookies. For no reason at all, after I spent two hours at the school tonight running Variety Show auditions, Hannah and I went to Safeway and bought cookies. Not that we needed any cookies. We have some perfectly good Girl Scout cookies in the pantry. But we bought two kinds of bakery cookies anyway and I had three of them with a glass of milk while checking my email tonight. Like I needed that. Total stress eating. I even started my day with a workout, hoping it would give me more energy for my long day today (it did!). And then I end it by eating cookies. This is how I sabotage myself. And how I deal with stress. I just really hope Jeff gets a job soon. The alternative is too scary to think about. Denial, denial!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

More of Hannah's scathing sarcasm........

Hannah and Jeff both enjoy a dry, sarcastic sense of humor. Sometimes I think they purposely try to outdo each other. Tonight we were talking about Hannah's less-than-desirable grades. She was complaining about a class she has to take because of her low grades. Jeff said "why can't you just be successful?" and Hannah shot back "why can't you just get a job?" Ouch.

Unemployment School

Jeff mentioned that today he would have to attend "unemployment school" - apparently a requirement for the newly unemployed in Washington state. Hannah heard this and said "Are you serious? They have a school to teach you how to lay around and scratch your balls!?"

San Francisco Day Three!

So, a few days' delay on this one (you know how it goes, you return home and all hell breaks loose). The third day in SF was very rainy! Being a Seattleite, I thought, no big deal. I borrowed an umbrella from the front desk at the hotel and decided to take a cab to a bookstore I had missed the day before. We pulled up in front of the bookstore and it was closed! I asked the cabbie to take me to Chinatown instead. So, we basically made a complete circle to the tune of $8.90 to end up two blocks from where I started! The good news about that was that a couple standing in the rain sort of "hijacked" my cab and asked if they could get in, wanting to go to the Drake hotel. I said sure as long as we stopped in Chinatown first. When we arrived there, they paid my fare! How nice!

So, first I had to venture downhill to the Starbucks to get my morning mocha and pastry. I had to share a table with some guy but we both stuck to our respective reading. After that, I set back uphill to peruse Grant street again in search of "ties, 100% silk, three for $15". Jeff wanted some new ties. So, I found some for him and then decided to go the opposite way on Grant, ending up in the "fancy, schmancy, hoity-toity, upscale shopping district" (I'm quoting myself here!). Wow, any store you could ever want, Versace, Armani, Saks, little boutique stores, loomed around Union Square. However, the relentless blowing rain had by now soaked my jeans all the way up to my knees and my feet had been rudely submerged in puddles while crossing various streets, so I was really wet and miserable. I ducked into a Borders (a bookstore, heaven!) and spent a while perusing the bargain-priced book racks. I suddenly felt very tired and weary of walking and completely fed up with the rain. So, I decided to take a cab back to the hotel.

I spent the last four hours waiting for Jeff reading in the hotel lobby and restaurant. BORING! A man from the training lived in Foster City and offered us a ride to the airport so we gladly accepted (the BART wasn't all that!). We had a bumpy ride home on the plane and I was so relieved to get home and out of my wet clothes and shoes! But I already miss the city and mostly the freedom and luxury of having a weekend away. It was the best!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

San Francisco Day Two!

Day two in San Francisco dawned early (thanks to Jeff and his alarm clock) so I got up to check email, blog, Facebook, clean up the room, and was still out on the streets by 9:30 a.m.
I headed to Chinatown first. After hiking up two steep hills to get there from the hotel, I remembered I was going to get coffee and quickly found a Starbucks. I bought my coffee and for some reason, two pastries (not that I even needed one!). I ate a bear claw and drank my coffee and before I was done, this spontaneous "dragon parade" started coming down the street. Teenaged kids wore the dragon costumes and danced in and out of stores and up and down streets for over two hours! Other teenagers provided the music (drums and cymbals) and a couple of older men periodically lit firecrackers that made quite a racket. So, thats was my first introduction to Chinatown (after the dead mouse I saw upon entering the district!).
Then, I started walking along Grant street looking at the zillions of stores and their offerings. Paper umbrellas, good luck cats, backscratchers, t-shirts, jewelry, pretty much anything you wanted was for sale along the streets in hundreds of small stores. I decided to wait to purchase anything until I had seen the whole street. I walked to where Chinatown intersects with North Beach (Little Italy). Then, of course, I had to explore THAT district. I was faced with a big dilemma - Chinese or Italian for lunch? I decided Chinese and headed back to Chinatown. Earlier a girl in a Chinese hat had handed me a coupon for Chinatown Restaurant, so I went there. It was good, a nicer restaurant and good food (compared to the numerous restaurants along the streets!) Then, I started my shopping in earnest. I didn't even really know what I was looking for, but I found it! :) It's overwhelming how much stuff is in the stores. I found souveniers for the kids and even splurged a little on myself (some new scarves and a coveted luggage set I've had my eye on in Seattle that was half price in Chinatown!).
I had so much fun just wandering with no agenda, no time frame and no one else to consider. It was the ultimate selfish shopping excursion. I wandered for miles again, just like yesterday (and I started the day out by saying I was NOT going to walk so far) so tonight, once again, my feet hurt. But it was worth the fun.
The day was capped off by dinner - this time it was not so great. We went to an Italian restaurant (yay, because I had chosen Chinese over Italian for lunch) but it was mediocre at best. Can't wait till tomorrow to squeeze in the last of my tourist time here before heading to the airport! Oh, and that second pastry I bought? Must have been providence because I passed by a homeless man who looked like a walking skeleton and gave it to him. He was most appreciative and I was glad I didn't eat it! I could have spent a week just in Chinatown and not seen it all. I might even go back tomorrow! :)

San Francisco!!

On a brighter note, we have this wonderful opportunity to visit San Francisco this weekend, where I am posting this blog. Jeff had yet another training with the ACS and so his entire trip was paid for. I found a cheap ticket and figured we might as well enjoy a last hurrah before we're living in a cardboard shack (heehee). So, here I sit at the Omni hotel and it's beautiful!

We flew here early yesterday morning on United, which I have not flown for years. They had TV!! I got to watch "30 Rock" which I've never watched before (and it was funny). I know a lot of planes have TV and such, but I am still chilidishly entertained by such perks. The flight was short, just about two hours, and I also enjoyed reading the first several chapters of "Three Cups of Tea".

When we arrived, we decided to take BART, the public railway system, to our hotel. That was interesting (and very loud!). We got out at what we supposed was the station closest to our hotel. Boy were we wrong! We walked for blocks (and then went out of our way) before finding the hotel. By then we both had blisters from walking in bad shoes! But we settled our stuff in the room and set out to explore San Francisco with the hours we had before the first dinner engagement.

We covered a LOT of ground. We started by visiting the Ferry Building, which is sort of like an upscale Pike Place Market for those of you familiar with that Seattle landmark. There were so many nice shops and restaurants. We were starving, but had chosen to explore right around business lunchtime so our competition was stiff! We finally scored a table at a seafood restaurant and enjoyed our meal thoroughly, dining alfresco while watching the ferries and sailboats. After lunch, since we were so ravenous before we ate, we decided we should get a fresh loaf of San Francisco sourdough and eat it straight from the bag! Yum, it was delicious! Browsing along the Embarcadero, with the beautiful California sun shining down on us, enjoying fresh sourdough, it was easy to forget our troubles.

I saw what looked like a giant arrow in the distance, so of course, I had to explore. It turned out to be a huge bow and arrow sculpture in a park that housed a few homeless men. Hmm.....interesting. I took a few photos of the Bay Bridge and then we started walking along the piers. We walked all the way down to Pier 39, which was much like I remembered it. Very touristy, but fun. Lots of shops to explore! We wanted to see the sea lions, so followed the stinky smell to where they lay basking in the sun. A few photos later and we headed toward Fisherman's Wharf. Long before this, I had abandoned my shoes due to my blistered feet and walked the waterfront in only my socks. My feet were killing me!

Fisherman's Wharf was cool, grittier than Pier 39, but with many shops and street artists/performers. We stopped to watch a guy create an amazing painting of the San Francisco skyline using only spray paint and a putty knife. Another guy had collected a bunch of branches and was hiding behind them on the sidewalk. He would pop out at unsuspecting passerby with hilarious results! I had more fun watching him than I should have! (I love scaring people!) Another guy had spraypainted himself silver and stood stock-still on the sidewalk with music playing. He looked like a statue!

By this time I was hobbling because my feet were so sore and lo and behold, a shoe store loomed in front of us! I went in and bought two new pairs of shoes (ok, it was Payless buy one get one half price sale, but still......) and some cushiony inserts for the ones I was currently wearing. We marched on.

When it was time to head back, neither of us could bear the thought of walking the several miles back to where we started, so we took a city bus. I thought perhaps we were on a hidden camera show as this bus stopped at station after station and kept picking up people, even as the last ones to board were crammed up against the bus door! I have never seen so many people on a bus! It was comical. We got off and STILL had to walk five blocks to the hotel. Jeff had to push me the last block! :) Lesson learned - never walk for six hours around a city with bad shoes on!

When we got back to the hotel room, I immediately took two Advil and we soaked our feet in ice water! Then, we had a few minutes to change for dinner. We met the rest of the ACS group in the lobby and were whisked by Town Car to the Crustacean, a nice, upscale restaurant in downtown SF. We enjoyed delicious cuisine while visiting with a bunch of chemist-types (giggle) and headed back (in a stinky old cab this time, not the fancy Town Car!) to the hotel where we collapsed in total exhaustion! Our day started at 4:30 a.m. and ended around 10, which seemed embarrassingly early for a night on the town, but yesterday seemed like the longest day ever!

Today's agenda? Jeff is in training all day while I plan to hobble on my sore feet over to Chinatown and North Beach. And maybe take a bus tour or something that doesn't involve walking all day! There is just so much to do here, a weekend is not enough time at all. But we plan to get the most out of it (or at least I do, while Jeff is stuck in training) and enjoy this great opportunity. But alas, I smell coffee wafting from the hallways and now must hurry off to find a Starbucks and fortify my morning! Until later...........

Job Search

Jeff commented to me yesterday that he feels his job search has gone from "casual" to "Oh, my f**king God!" Guess that about sums it up! :)

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


Loved these..........

Mimi and Papa pictures, Part 2

Some more photos with Mimi and Papa!

Mimi and Papa pictures, part 1

Some photos taken with Mimi, Papa and the kids! Look how big the kids are! Wow.

Valentine's Day Weekend

We had a great weekend visiting with Mimi and Papa. We didn't do a whole lot, but it was nice to just visit. Mimi and I went to our favorite shopping destinations, Ostrom's in Kenmore and Country Village. We had the Hansen's over for lunch on Saturday. Mike and Carol brought their baby, Peter, and he was very entertaining! Here are some pics of Saturday.

Monday, February 16, 2009

A Few Faces of Hayley!


A Night of Improv Fun!

Saturday night we had a great time just doing nothing that turned into a night of "improv" as the kids (and Jeff) showed off their various talents. Jeff played the guitar, Hayley did some impressions (she's got a mind like a steel trap when it comes to remembering movie lines), Hannah and Arlie did some piano playing, singing and dancing, and Harrison wowed his Mimi with his rendition of "Angels". Then, not to be outdone, Mimi and I did a lovely impromptu song and dance to "Shortenin' Bread" complete with aprons (this will probably show up on our You Tube account at some point, to my mortification!). Even the dog got into the act, dancing with Arlie! Fun night!

Will You Be My V-A-L-E-N-T-I-N-E?

It's been a few days, but I haven't had my usual unlimited access to the computer and my photos are all held hostage in my desktop. So, I tried to remedy the situation by uploading photos on my laptop and this is my first attempt to blog and post photos from here (wait, not it's not, I did that in Ft. Worth....whatever!). Anyway, going back to Valentine's day (or actually the day before), I have some photos from Harrison's class party that Mimi and Papa attended, and Hannah and her curly hair! We got this cool new curling iron that makes the best spiral curls and, although it took about 45 minutes, we managed to make Hannah's hair quite beautiful and curly, and she received so many compliments that day!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Bingo is Boring!

We just returned from a rollicking good time at the school Bingo night! I'm not really sure why we keep going year after year. It's noisy, crowded, and we never win. I had a hard time keeping my eyes open and Hannah said "seriously, mommy, I am so bored, I'm nauseous!" Plus, I sat next to a person who's not my favorite, and she ranted on and on about her wayward teenage daughter and her insolent ways. Gahhhh!!!!!

Anyway, the good news is I'm home and my husband is making drinks! Bottoms up!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Binging and Purging

No, not the food kind! I'm talking about the ridiculous cycle of buying stuff and then having too much stuff, then turning around and getting rid of all the stuff you spent good money on because you no longer have room for the stuff!

I am in the process of doing a big purge of "stuff" from the house, probably inspired by the thought that if Jeff gets a job out of state, we would actually have to MOVE all our crap and how embarrassing would it be for someone (i.e. movers) to see all the crap we really have?

Now, some of this is my fault, clearly. I'm the one purchasing these things for the most part. But when a kid says they need more deodorant, who am I to question it? Hence the 16 (yes, 16!) containers of deodorant I found while cleaning out the bathroom. Do the math. We have four kids, two of whom don't even wear deodorant on a regular basis yet. This is just one good example of disgusting consumption.

Today I found a game, two puzzles, a Bionicles toy, and a portable checkers game that had never been used and/or opened. All of these were gifts for various occasions, not purchased by us, but still! What is the point of having unopened things hanging around? If you haven't used it in a year, you're probably never going to. I try to make some of these things "new" again by offering them up in a different setting. For example, I have a whole box of "entertainment" for the camper. When one is held captive in a pop-up for several days, one's choices can be limited. Which makes the "new/old" stuff all that more appealing.

But there's something to be said for just getting rid of stuff too. I had grand thoughts of perhaps putting this crap on Craig's List and making a little cash. I've done that before, but then you really need a spot in your garage that is a sort of "store" in which to keep your Craig's List inventory. And that just gets annoying. Let's review - move your crap to another location (garage), post an ad for it that expires in seven days, keep reposting in hopes that it will sell and in the end, sell said item for $5 (if you're lucky). Is it worth the hassle? Sure, if it's a big ticket item (I once sold 8 year old bunk beds that I paid $300 for for $200 on Craig's List), but otherwise the peace of mind you get from less clutter and the tax write off from donating is worth more than making a little cash from discarded Barbies. When I'm on a Craig's List kick, I've made some pretty decent money for things I would have otherwise tossed. But right now I'm in a "clearinghouse" mode and just want it all gone!

I tossed Barbies, Polly Pockets and stuffed animals with glee! I no longer feel attached to these things. Sure, I'm sentimental at heart and have saved a great deal of the kids' old clothes and toys for "someday". But I'm getting better at collecting memories instead. Stuff is just that - stuff. And it can really drag you down.

In the meantime, I told the kids we're on a spending freeze. We need to use up the stuff we already have before we buy new stuff. Which means, in the deodorant department, I shouldn't have to buy them any for, oh, say, two years?

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Condom Candy!

Yeah, I bet you're wondering what THIS post is about......and it IS about condoms. Which are NOT candy. But can appear deceivingly so when packaged with bright colors and placed in plain view at the pharmacy. Today while waiting for a prescription to be filled, Harrison and I were waiting amongst the display (right in front of the pharmacy counter) of "his and hers" KY hot oils, flavored "personal lubricant" and an attractively packaged box of Lifestyle "colors" condoms. He definitely got the part that it was for S-E-X (which he later confirmed for me and yes, he DOES know how babies are made) but he did NOT know what a condom was and what it was for. So, there I am, driving to pick up the girls explaining to my son about "ejaculation" and birth control. Nice. Thank you Fred Meyer for giving me such a wonderful "jumping off" point for a conversation about the birds and the bees and their many accessories. I think I'll start getting my prescriptions filled at the drive-thru window at Walgreen's.

Monday, February 9, 2009

I'm suffering from CRS!

Ok, so I've been a bit forgetful lately. Chalk it up to being over 40, or perhaps, as Great Auntie Tina says, a side-effect of having a cold, but I have done some pretty stupid things these past few days! For one thing, I answered an email to Gr. A Tina that I had already answered! (Usually I'm so good about deleting those I've already responded to). Then, I forgot to get Harrison's prescription filled even though I'm sure he's out of his medicine. And today was a whopper - I completely spaced his doctor appointment! Just forgot. Didn't even remember until way after dinner and hours after the appt. This was just his well-child check (guess if he was sick, it would be easier to remember!) and I only just scheduled it last week, but still! I had it in my calendar and everything. Honestly, I think what threw me off was that Jeff was home. And so when I arrived home and he was here, I just assumed "home" mode and didn't think about going out at all. The other day my dad said things were good with him but he suffered from CRS. I started to ask him what that meant, but then it dawned on me. Can't Remember Shit. Yeah, I think I'm definitely having an acute case. Perhaps I should just go to bed now.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

My Little Charges

I've not yet posted any photos of the two adorable girls I spend part of my week with - Myla and Dakota! I work as a nanny for these two sweet girls part-time and I LOVE it! It's the best job and they really are such sweet girls. We have a lot of fun together. Now that my kids are getting older, it's nice to go back to the toddler stages and do all the fun things I used to do with my kids. I marvel at the things they learn and say each day and love to hear their toddler talk. They're a joy!

Miss this baby!!!

Here is Kaden, my incredibly adorable cousin and his mommy, my cousin Sydney at a park in Abu Dhabi. They are working/living there for a LONG time (too long) and are so far away from friends and family, I don't know how they do it. But Kaden just gets bigger and bigger and he talks now! And I miss him so much! This picture was taken by his daddy on his mommy's birthday yesterday. Notice the Gonzaga shirt - he's still an American boy!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Toil and Trouble

As I write this Jeff is in the kitchen, slaving away, making tonight's dinner PLUS dinners for two more nights. Now, I say "slaving away" because to me, that's what cooking is - toil and trouble. Not fun! But for Jeff it's like zen. In fact, he's even happier if I don't bug him during this time (all the better for me!) I don't really get it - I mean, I CAN cook, I just don't particularly enjoy it. Oh sure, it's nice to get a meal together and put it on the table all pretty (presentation is everything!), but I am just not skilled at bringing it all together at once, hot and ready to eat, and looking like a restaurant meal. This, Jeff can do. So, I say let's all embrace our gifts and Jeff can cook and I'll blog.

Of course, I am the happy recepient of said meals and it's a very lovely thing to sit down to a beautiful meal. I feel like I eat in a restaurant most nights, and especially the nights the kids are gone, because that's when Jeff has more time and freedom to experiment with new recipes. And he knows it will be appreciated and not met with an "ick" from ungrateful children! (You know who you are, you who are reading this!) I, personally, love it and feel like it's the most pampered thing in the world! I once took a survey that asked if you could have one thing forever - a maid, chauffer or cook, which would you choose? And I chose a cook! And lo and behold, not a few years later, I married one! (He's not a bad maid, either, when pressed into service, and of course, he drives everywhere so, I guess I got a three-for-one).

Tonight he's cooking buffalo steaks. I have never eaten buffalo, I don't think, so this should be interesting. I'm not much of a meat eater, so on the infrequent occasions we do eat red meat, it's a pretty good treat! But buffalo? Just sounds kind of weird. But I'm up for trying anything. In fact, just this afternoon I requested my favorite tomato basil soup from Safeway. Jeff went to Fred Meyer instead and found a similar (he thought) soup and brought that home, heated it up and brought it to me. Well, it was tomato gorgonzola soup and I'm sorry to say, I HATE GORGONZOLA! To me, blue cheese, gorgonzola, any of those "stinky sock" cheeses have the most disgusting, musty, dirty laundry smelling taste. They are inedible!! Who thought of making a food that tastes like something old and dirty? Ick. Needless to say, I did not eat the soup (but I DID taste it). Gross, gross, gross.

I'm not even a picky eater, but there are a few things I just cannot stomach. Like those cheeses. And asparagus (but I'm legitimately allergic to them as well). Radishes are icky. And I'm not a huge fan of peppers (red, green, yellow). I despise lamb (also allergic to it). And I don't really have any desire to eat any type of bugs, no matter how fancy they are served. Or caviar. Which I've had but don't particularly like and can't get past the reality of what they are! But beyond that, I will try anything. I remember being 12 and seeing my parents eat an artichoke for the first time. They tried for over an hour to get me to taste it and when I finally did, I thought it was the best thing I ever tasted! They also fed me escargot once (and yes, those are bugs in my book!) but I believe I was duped into trying them.

Anyway, I heard the clatter of plates which is a good sign my buffalo steak is done! Dinner is served. Bon apetit!

Hi, It's Me!

I am having such fun scanning photos and plan to do more of the kids when they were little, but I was going through my photos this morning and found a whole batch of "doubles" of just me! I mean, who really wants photos of themselves? But these were halfway decent and taken over the years so I decided to publish a few of them so all my faithful readers can see what I look like (haha, I know most of you see me everyday anyway!) And none of them are too recent. The one of me on Valentine's day is taken about 2004 I think? The one of me in my way cool 70's outfit was Hayley's birthday party (age 9??). Then there's one of me with my birthday cake, circa 2004?? And one of me in a white sweater - not sure when this was taken, but I know Harrison took it and he was pretty little then. He was always good at not chopping off your head, though! Anyway, this is me! Yippee.