Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Good Things........

Just time for a quick update. Nothing much in the past few days except I'm SO TIRED! I swear I'm getting old. And menopausal. Wow. Hayley has been super busy with ASB stuff and registration today for jr. year. That cost me over $200 for ASB sticker, planner, yearbook, spirit gear, and pictures. Yikes. I checked the bank statement. Taking out the mortgage we'd have about $300 left over but, oops, we have $322 worth of bills to pay, plus we need a few groceries for camping (and never mind we have to EAT till the next paychecks come), and we have to pay the dogsitter for this weekend while we're camping! UGH! I am so sick of being broke. Oh well, story of our lives, right? Us and a zillion other people. Time to appreciate what we have. And go for experiences rather than things! I'm already thinking about "homemade" Christmas ideas.

Arlie came back tonight after two weeks away. She is so missed when she's gone and so happily received back into the fold of the family. The kids are glued to her side (well, Hannah and Harrison are, Hayley is glued to the TV!). It's so cute to see how sweet they are for at least a while after she comes back. Everyone is happy and no one is fighting. I love that immensely!! That's a good thing.

Kids gave me a fashion show tonight trying on clothes. That was a good thing, too. I ordered everything online from Old Navy, spent about $100 per kid (which was amazing for all we got) and most everything fit and was cute. They were happy and I didn't have to spend one minute at the mall with bored kids! Yay for online shopping. What a good thing! And love Old Navy.

We're going camping tomorrow! I'm really looking forward to it because we're going with our great neighbors, Amy, Jason and Abbie and Carla and Mike. They are our best friends in the neighborhood and we've been planning this trip for a while. We're staying in some new yurts so it should be a fun experience! Plus, we are on the Stillaguamish river (my favorite!) and we're going to try our hands at fishing in the river. So, that's a good thing too!

Harrison and I baked snickerdoodles and cocoa-oatmeal fudge together tonight. He really loves to cook and bake and it was nice to pull him away from the TV for some cooking instruction, with delicious results!

Ok, I feel better now that I've layed out some "good things" on my blog. Today had some major stresses and I got pretty bogged down but I'm feeling a lot better now! Gonna go have a snickerdoodle and some milk!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Name Discrimination

You always here about different types of discrimination - people who are racist, homophobic, biased or how about name discrimination? I have an unusual name, I understand that. Now, on their own, Mary and Leah are perfectly normal names and shouldn't present a problem. Leah might get spelled wrong (Lea, Lia) but not too difficult, right? Well, my parents, in all their wisdom, decided to put a HYPHEN in my name. Not that unusual, except that most hyphenated names these days are last names, not first names. So, that sometimes throws people for a loop (is that her first name? Or her last name?) but even then I don't run into too much trouble. Sometimes when people HEAR my name, they furrow their brows and can't quite put it all together. One man even said to Jeff once, "Oh, is your wife Hawaiian?" (Being from the midwest, we tend to say my name "Mara-Leah" and run it all together really fast, so it comes out sounding like Maraleah, and, presumably, sounds Hawaiian?). Jeff said he considered telling him my middle name was "Comeoniwannalayya". But I digress. I've become accustomed to spelling my name.....M-A-R-Y-hyphen-.......and that's where people get lost! What is a hyphen? Who really knows anymore? Who uses punctuation? One time someone wrote an apostrophe instead. Semi-colon anyone? But back to the discrimination. I was in a coffee shop the other day ordering drinks for Jeff and I. I ordered his first and they made their precise, sharp little X's on all the appropriate boxes (decaf, X, tall, X) then said "name?" I replied "Jeff" and she wrote "Jeff" on the cup and handed it off to the barista. I then placed my drink order (decaf, X, tall X, no whip, X) and she chirped "name?" to which I replied "Mary-Leah" as distinctly as I could (I try to help people out by speaking clearly). She wrote "M" and then gave me a look as if I had just asked her to hand over all the money in the till, viciously scratched out the "M" with her wicked black Sharpie marker and wrote "Jeff" on my cup as well! Jeff? Do I look like a Jeff to you? How rude! I told Jeff, this has happened to me enough already! I'm going to come up with an alter ego name I can put on coffee cups, reservations, name tags, etc. Hello, my name is ______. Any suggestions? Send me your ideas. So far I've come up with KiKi (mine) and Muffin (Tonya's).

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Refund = $90

Remember that horrendously expensive school supply shopping trip? Well, wouldn't you know it, I happened to open the paper yesterday (usually I just recycle it!) and there was an ad for the same store (Fred Meyer) that I bought all the supplies and almost everything I bought was on sale!!! I couldn't believe it. So, this morning I took my receipt in and asked them to adjust all the prices. The clerk had to ring everything separately and refund it, then charge it back, so it took FOREVER, but in the end, I got $90 back in my account! Totally worth the trip back to the store. I had anxiety all week about the huge expenditure and now, at least, I got some of the money back. It was still insanely expensive but now it comes to about $100 per kid. I spent about $100 each for their school clothes so now my credit card needs a breather! And we all thought public education was free! HA!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

A Couple of Harrison Funnys!

We had just visited Tonaiya last Sunday and Harrison had helped Ingrid rub some essential oils on her feet that were to promote brain function and healing (remember, Tonaiya is Harrison's good friend who is hospitalized with encephalitis, and Ingrid is her grandma who is an "energy healer" by trade). On the way home we were talking about these oils and Jeff said "well, they must have absorbed into your hands, Harrison. Do you feel any smarter?" to which Harrison replied "No, but you look a little dumber!" (ba-da-bum!)

Yesterday I took Harrison to Toys R Us to FINALLY spend a gift card of his I've been carrying around in my wallet for months. He picked out some walkie-talkies, we paid, and were leaving the store. He looked wistfully at the "rides" (the ones you put a quarter in) and said "me and the rides, we used to be tight. But as I've grown older, we've grown apart!"

He makes me laugh!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

What's Happening?

Nothing much. After a whirlwind of vacation activity it's been pretty low-key the past few days and no pictures have been taken. Arlie is back in Spokane for ten days to wrap up her summer visits over there. Back at work today, and Hannah came with me. Harrison came over a while later and the two of them helped me out. They are both great at helping take care of the girls and playing with them. After we got home, it was such a beautiful day and even though I was overheated and tired and would have liked nothing more than to take a nap, I felt like the kids and I should do SOMETHING so I went downstairs and yelled "road trip!" and told them we were going to check out the new donut shop. That was met with a lukewarm response, but it did get them out of the house for a half hour or so. Geesh, you'd think playing outside was akin to hard labor camp. These kids are driving me nuts with their lack of motivation to do anything remotely smacking of summer vacation! No swimming pool visits, no local beach visits, no mall, no movies. Hayley, at least, has been out to the mall and movies with her friends a few times, but Hannah has spent the entire summer mostly indoors with her face in front of You Tube! Not, in my opinion, a healthy way to spend summer. When I insist she do something else, she lies on the couch reading a book, or watches TV. Harrison has watched way too much TV, although he occasionally goes out and rides his bike up and down the street twice. And if Hayley is not out with friends, which is rare, she's also on the computer or watching movies on a portable TV in her room. Let's just say there has been very little calorie burning or any actual MOVEMENT from those three all summer. Arlie is a different story - she will play outside until dark and be happy to do it. She is always game for a trip to the beach or park or pool or wherever else. I wish some of her enthisiasm would rub off on the other three. Because school is going to be SUCH a rude awakening when they have to actually get up before noon, and exert themselves by doing such tasks as WALKING. Not to mention using their brains and THINKING! Oh, my. Rue the day, my's coming! School in 15 days!!!!

Monday, August 17, 2009

The $500 Dollar Shopping Excursion.......

I cannot believe how much it cost to get the kids ready for school this year! They each needed a new backpack ($30-40 a pop for one big enough for their ridiculously large binders), plus the regular supplies, plus Hannah needed a $90 calculator, and Harrison and Arlie needed $10 calculators. Then, there were the notebooks, pens, pencils, scissors, pencil sharpeners, rulers, etc. Last year I didn't buy much and we "shopped" from our inventory around the house. It worked out fine, but this year things were just falling apart and/or depleted, so we had to go all new. And I cannot believe how much it cost. I just don't understand how things could cost that much to get ready for school. I need to start a checking account just for school related expenses because they really are exhorbitant. This was JUST for backpacks and supplies, not clothes or shoes or anything. I spent $200 on clothes for Harrison and Arlie online, and spent another $40 or so on supplies at Costco, plus I still need to buy clothes for the older girls, probably shoes for everyone, and planners, yearbooks, ASB stickers, etc. for Hayley and Hannah that come to $50-$100 each. I'm about to pull them all out of school, make them wear thrift store clothes exclusively and move to a farm where we can grow our own food! We've already been SO tight on money for the past several months, and that's not looking up as my kids' dad is paying $600 less per month in child support now. I'm trying to work extra hours to get a little more money coming in. It's really stressful and I feel like I'm smothering under the weight of all the financial stress. I know it's not just us - millions of other people are in this or worse situations due to the economy, job cuts, etc. We've dealt with job loss, increased mortgage, decreased child support, and all the downfall of a poor economy and sometimes it's just too much. It could really bring a person down. But we've had so much fun, camping, going places (free!), making the most of our summer. Life is still good and it will get better! I just wish these "necessary" expenditures weren't so necessary! :(

Sunday, August 16, 2009


Harrison's good friend Tonaiya, 10, has been hospitalized since last Tuesday with a sudden and mysterious case of encephalitis. It's source is unknown and she went from being seemingly totally healthy to unresponsive and unconscious in a matter of hours. She went downhill quickly and suffered several seizures but improved on Thursday a bit and was a bit more responsive Friday. On Saturday she could respond with a squeeze of her hand to mean "yes". Today we visited and Harrison seemed to be a tonic to her. She smiled, giggled, got excited and made some choices by squeezing our hands to mean "yes". She still cannot walk, talk, sit up or eat. She is being tube-fed and is bedridden. It's such a scary time for her grandma, Ingrid (her guardian) and the rest of her family. Ingrid and Tonaiya live next door to Doug and that's how Harrison met her. They have been great friends for the past two years and have become really close. We took Tonaiya camping in July and she went fishing for the first time with Jeff, one morning while we all were still sleeping. They went out in the canoe and caught nine sunfish! She came back so thrilled. So, today, Jeff brought her a fishing pole of her own (pink!) and told her she needed to get better so they could go fishing again. She grabbed and held on to that pole for dear life with a big smile on her face! I had to pry it out of her fingers! We plan to visit again tomorrow and every day that we can until she's better. She needs a lot of prayers and good wishes. Such a sweet girl! It's heartbreaking to see a strong, healthy girl become so sick. You can't help but think of your own kids and realize how fragile life is. Treasure every minute...........

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


My sweet sixteen year old Hayley!
Arlie at the Blue Heron Cheese petting zoo!
I LOVE this picture of my kids!

And I LOVE this picture of my girls!

Harrison's first ocean fish! Yay!

Beautiful Arlie!

Jump Arlie, jump!



Look at that air!

Flying girl.....

Love this one!

Hayley building a sandcastle.....

Baby and more!

Seals. Or are they sea lions?

Arlie running terrified from the crazy ocean.....

Jeff catches some early morning rays with his book and Diet Pepsi.

Jeff's brother Greg, dad Dennis and Jeff

Fireside photo

Heaven. Really, it's right there, can't you see it?

More Heaven!

Seagull soaring over the hills near the ocean.

Our flag, handpainted by Hayley!

The photographer steps in FRONT of the camera for once......

Beautiful girl!

Haystack Rock and Arlie

Harrison and his ocean fish - caught right from the shore!

Harrison casting into the surf.......

Jeff surf casting......

The boys surf casting and hoping for a perch.......

Sunset in Pacific City.......

Jeff, our own Betsy Ross, sewing our flag!

Love this pic of Hannah on the beach!

The guys after their chartered Dory boat fishing trip - we feasted!

My sweet boy!

Jumping in the waves - a timeless childhood favorite!

Jumping with cousins Makayla and Maiya

A Haystack Rock of kids!

Haystack Rock

View down the beach toward the huge dune!

You climb to the top of the dune and run down! FUN!

Dory boat returning from a day of fishing

Another Dory boat - this is one of my favorite pics.......

Someone built this driftwood "fence"

Beauty of the beach

The beachhouse we stayed in. Jeff and I enjoyed the master suite, with windows overlooking the ocean, private bath and two decks!

Arlie skimboarding

Hannah and Harrison boogie-boarding

Another favorite - my little ones.......not so little anymore!

We spent a week in Pacific City, OR in a beautiful, newly built beach house. This year we spanned two beach houses and enjoyed the vacation with Dennis and Mary Anne (Jeff's dad and stepmom), Greg and Heather and their two girls, Makayla and Maiya (Jeff's brother and his family) and Ben, Wendy, Rose and Felicity (Jeff's stepbrother, his girlfriend, her daughter and their new baby). Sue and Rich (Mary Anne's best friends) also came for a couple of nights.

Every day was great and felt like a real vacation because there is not much to do in Pacific City. Just a few gift shops, a pub, grocery store, and an awesome bakery, The Grateful Bread, from which we purchased bread almost daily! Most of our days we woke to a sweeping view of the ocean, got up when we felt like it, had coffee, pastries, cereal, pancakes or other breakfast fare, and then did some beachcombing, playing in the surf, building sandcastles, or just hanging out at the house watching movies or doing crafts. Very low-key. We all gathered for dinner, which one night was crock pot chicken prepared by Hannah, another night clam chowder courtesy of Jeff, a memorable night of feasting on freshly caught crab and salmon, topped off by almost daily baking by Hayley (brownies, cupcakes, cake). Jeff kegged a beer for the event, "Moorehook ESBeach" which was flowing freely all week, as well as many "adult" beverages and wine.

The kids had their own "dorm room" painted to look like under the sea, but after a couple of nights (and a few daddy long-legs later), they opted for other sleeping arrangements. Hayley had her own room (and TV!) all week, so she was in heaven. Our beach house also had a "kid room" with their own TV so Hannah and Arlie stayed there most of the week and Harrison bounced around between there and Hayley's room.

We drove home up the coast (Hannah's request as it was her birthday) and stopped at a few places along the way - Blue Heron Cheese, Tillamook Cheese Factory, Ft. Stevens, Astoria and finally made our way home. It was a wonderful, calm, restorative vacation. The only problem? A week was not long enough!