Monday, November 30, 2009

Waiting for Santa!

Arlie and Rylie made a bed in front of the Christmas tree on Saturday night and surrounded themselved with little handmade ornaments. It's gonna be a long wait for Santa!

It's Beginning to Look at Lot Like Christmas!

Trees at Molbak's nursery, 2009

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Acorn Squash

You all know by now that my husband is Cheapy McCheapypants. But he really took it too far this past week. While preparing for Thanksgiving, I noticed an acorn squash on the counter. I know I did not purchase an acorn squash in my grocery shopping excursion, and I thought it seemed a strange purchase for Jeff to make on his own, so I eyed it suspiciously, but didn't think much of it as I went about my chores.

At some point, Jeff announced how he "scored" this acorn squash from the PARKING LOT AT SEARS!!! Oh yes, he had been at Sears to procure a tool for his truck when he noticed this acorn squash in the parking lot. Now, I don't know about you, but I would be immediately suspicious of a piece of produce in the parking lot of a department store. Where did it come from? Why was it here? But not Jeff. He just thought......FREE FOOD!

So, he actually brought this discarded produce home with the intention of serving it to his unsuspecting family. He argued that it was fairly impervious, in fairly good shape, and so what harm could come from it? I immediately conjured up images of some sick freak injecting it with poison only so some half-wit like my husband would come along and decide to feed it to his family. Jeff could simply not understand why I insisted on throwing it away. I explained (calmly at first, then growing louder with insistence) that it was on the GROUND, in a parking lot far, far away from any grocery store, and it was GARBAGE!!! Then, I told him "we don't pick up things off the ground and eat them" (perhaps he missed that step when he was four?) and tossed that acorn squash in the garbage!

But I'll bet you ten bucks he fished it out and will try to feed it to us..........I'm not eating anything with acorn squash in it, EVER. I am seriously worried about this man. I believe he needs supervision on future shopping trips. Maybe he even chews the gum stuck to the bottom of tables? Who knows.............

Time to Change the Colors!

The day after Thanksgiving, Hannah and Arlie took down all the Thanksgiving decor and dragged the 100 or so boxes of Christmas crap out and into the house. They scoured the boxes in a very unorganized fasion and scattered Christmas knick-knacks here and there and then tackled the tree. What a disaster! First of all, let me say, we have a very cheap fake tree. I was always a die-hard real Christmas tree person, even enjoying the annual hunt for the perfect tree and trying not to cry at the ever-increasing price tag. However, one year a while back, my mom and dad were coming to visit - after Christmas. My house looked so pretty and decorated that I thought it would be nice to keep all the decorations and yes, even the tree, up until their arrival in early January. Well, the tree had other ideas. No matter how much I willed it to live, it kept on dying until the ornaments started falling off due to lack of branch foliage. Alas, it had to be removed from the house. In one fell swoop, every last needle fell off and made a nice carpet of pine debris for me to vacuum and the once-pretty tree was just a pile of sticks. Oh well, I thought, the house still looks pretty.

Cut to a few days later, I was at Rite-Aid perusing their 90% off racks at the after-Christmas sale. And what should I come upon but a lovely fake tree? Only $12! My mom and dad were due to arrive any day and I could still pull off the Christmas look with this tree! Yay! I hasitly purchased it, and was only a teeny bit apprehensive when the salesman carefully removed EACH AND EVERY branch and put them into a box procured from "the back room". Ok, so it required a little assembly.....

The long and short of it is that I brought home that tree, redecorated it, and pulled off the perfect Christmas home before my parents' arrival. And every year afterward, it just seemed like such a wasted expense to go out and buy a tree when we had this "perfectly good" fake tree just waiting to be set up. So, year after year, I coax each and every branch into it's tiny space in the trunk/base of the tree and it turns out nice enough.

But this year the kids tackled it. And that means they simply could not grasp the concept that the branches were bundled together and bound with a rubber band indicating they all went on ONE level of the tree. And that the biggest branches went on the bottom, smallest on top. Nope, too hard a concept! So, they wrestled, argued, wriggled and coaxed the tree into submission and THREE hours later they were done. This job normally takes me about 15 minutes. Jeff then had the pleasure of untangling numerous strands of lights only to discover most of them not working and somehow we pieced together enough lights to light the tree. The kids took their own bag of ornaments and added them to the tree. So, about half of it is decorated. Jeff, Hayley and I still need to add our ornaments (I separate them in bags so everyone can hang their own ornament collection). So much for a family event. It's more like shifts.

But the really funny part is that, after the tree was put together and the kids were decorating it, Jeff found ANOTHER tree in the garage that we purchased last year! I guess we thought ole "separate branches" had seen it's last legs and thought we'd get one that came in just three sections. Well, I put this new one together and it was pretty cheesy as well. Oh well, we decided it would be our "theme tree" and put it in the family room/kitchen area. So much for glamour. Two cheap plastic trees later..........

Now the living room is strewn with numerous large Rubbermaid containers filled to the brim with Christmas decorations, books, movies, stockings.........and we still need to find someplace to put it all. The kids are bored with it now, the novelty has worn off, and it will be my job to get it all back in order before the weekend is over.........sigh! I miss the days when they were not interested in helping and I just did all the decorating while they were at school, opening the door to a magical wonderland when they arrived home!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving 2009!

Good dog, Shade!


Hayley, Mommy, Hannah

Mommy and Hannah

Hayley and Mommy

Hannah and her cool new argyle sweater!

Hayley in her new outfit

Hannah, Suzanne, Doug, Hayley and Harrison in a pile!

The kids and Aunt Suzanne

Doug and the kids

Doug and the girls

Hannah and her daddy

Doug and his sister Suzanne

Hayely with a glass of sparkling cider and her newfound passion - the guitar!

Jeff and I in our traditional self portrait!

Jeff and the dogs watching football!

My pretty Thanksgiving table

Arlie made the menus, Hayley made the name tags!

Hannah the piano girl!

All fourteeen of us fit around the tables!
We had the best Thanksgiving! For the first time since our divorce, the kids had both mommy and daddy at dinner together, and also got the bonus of seeing Aunt Suzanne after many years! Plus, we had our "family" of the West and Westwood families, Amy, Michele and Julius, and Jody, Rome and Ivy. Jeff and I got up early to get the turkeys going. I baked an 18 lb turkey in the oven (traditional) and Jeff smoked a 12 lb. turkey with a 2 lb. pheasant inside in the smoker (definitely NOT traditional, but delicious!). Jeff had just hunted the pheasant yesterday so they were fresh and really delicious smoked. I served some of that with cream cheese and homemade cranberry sauce as an appetizer and it was amazing! We had lots of snacks before dinner and dinner itself was delicious. I don't get to cook much since it's Jeff's passion, but I did the turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy (and my gravy WAS velvety smooth), sweet potatoes, stuffing (which was GROSS - why even have stuffing? I hate it anyway). Jeff also made brussels sprouts with bacon viniagrette (yum!) and Harrison made Waldorf salad. Arlie made Muddy Buddies, Hannah made trifle. And Doug and Harrison made apple, pumpkin, and pecan pies. Amy and Michele brought green bean casserole. It was a delicious meal! We laughed till our sides hurt. Good friends, good food, good talk - we are blessed! Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Feeding the Ducks

Today I took Myla to Country Village to feed the ducks. I should have known things would not go well when a large and colorful rooster sauntered up to my car door and waited for me to open it. I did this with some trepidation, as one time I was chased by a deranged chicken at a KOA campground (true story) and Jeff thought it was the funniest thing ever and instead of coming to my rescue, sat securely in the locked car while I screamed and kicked at the offending creature and tried to maneuver my way to the car. Anyway, this very large rooster today just waited.....kind of sinister-like and everything! So, I opened the door with a flourish (meaning, I tried to hit him with it) and he just moved ever so slowly, only to duck under my legs and practically take my place in the driver's seat! I unbuckled Myla, gave her the bag of bread to hold, and headed to the duck pond. We didn't even make it that far! We were surrounded by a gaggle of geese, a dozen ducks and raging roosters.........with a few heckling hens thrown in for good measure. The chickens actually pecked at my legs trying to get to the bread (which, by this time, I had mercifully taken from poor Myla who was not much bigger than the creatures). One particularly brazen goose, who was as tall as Myla, kept snatching bread out of her hand before she even got a chance to toss it. I was tossing entire dinner rolls fifteen feet away to try to disperse the angry crowd, but they kept converging! I wanted riot gear! I admit I had to use force, kicking a few of the particularly aggressive ones away before finally scooping up little Myla, tossing the bread in the car and jogging to the relative safety of the toy store. On the way, I shouted, "get away, you mean ducks!" and stomped at them. Apparently they were offended by my parting words because, when we returned to the car, the entire windshield and hood were covered in poop! And I'm talking big poops, little poops, and everything in between. I'm not sure how they pulled it off, but somehow they managed to get my car bombed by the poop squadron. And it was just MY car. Not any of the cars around me. Stupid ducks! Next time I'm heading to the office park where the ducks have more manners, there are no chickens and I can park my car far away.

Saturday, November 14, 2009 the park...........guess it was the Fourth of July........

Ok, it's Nov. 14, but just saying "Saturday" in my head brought up that song. I don't even know what the name of that song is......maybe it's "Saturday"?

Sooo.......I've been slacking on picture taking lately. I don't know why really, but Jeff sure has been giving the Nikon a workout taking pictures of various rusty parts of his truck to post on Sounds like a porn site, but no, it's a site for guys like him who have rusty heaps in their garages and don't know how to make them run. So, people with tag names like Bubba and Weiner spout advice about those various rusty parts and my husband reads them religiously, then takes off to Shucks or Napa where he spends more than he should on wires and plugs and rebuilt carburators. I know I just spelled that wrong. I don't care.

I spent this whole day in my pajamas up until 5 p.m. when I finally took a shower. I was on the computer most of the day, but I got a lot of stuff done, like sending out fundraising letters for the Jingle Bell Run, cleaning up my address book, checking my old email (360 some emails - all but two of them junk!), and, for some reason, cleaning the pantry. I found a lot of expired food which I promptly threw out, because Jeff would freak if he saw me doing it. Things like Hamburger Helper and Jello and even tea! I was advised to keep the tea, but I threw out the other stuff and I will have to mash it down into the trash so Jeff won't take it out of the trash and eat it. Seriously! Even though it has an expiration date, he thinks anything in a box or can is good indefinitely and so he will eat it. But remember that email about the expired pancake mix? Snopes said it was true, so why take a chance? Anyway, the pantry was getting seriously out of order. Jeff calls it entropy. I call it a mess.

I then showered and took Hayley with me to Target. I went for a few items and ended up spending a buttload of money - mostly on clothes for Hayley. She got a wool pea coat (on sale), five sweaters (clearance), jeans (sale), shoes (not on sale - and she said she "needed" black heels "just in case"), and a cute little bra. I bought way too many things for Christmas and the house and let's just say my credit card got a serious workout. Ugh. I don't even want to think about it. But we're so broke that it's gonna be a credit card Christmas no matter what. At least until the tax return arrives, which I hope will cover it!

I bought tickets to see "New Moon" with the girls next Thursday night/Friday morning. The showing is at 12:01 a.m. I have no idea how 1. I'm going to stay awake until the movie starts, 2. I'm going to stay awake during the movie and 3. I'm going to get up the next morning and go to work! I personally could have easily waited until the next day (or month, or year) to see it, but the girls HAVE to go to the midnight showing. They are each bringing a friend and I told them I would bend the rules and let the friends sleep over on a school night. But they ARE GOING TO SCHOOL the next day, no matter what. Last November, when Twilight came out, I bought the tickets online, only to have Hayley get sick and not want to go the night of the movie. She went to bed early instead and was sicker the next day. Then, the day after that she ended up in the ER with pneumonia and the flu! I'm hoping to not have a repeat of that this year.......

Jeff and Arlie went camping and clamming to Grayland this morning. I, being the wimpy winter camper that I am, opted out (it's COLD!) and voted to stay home by myself. It's such a rare luxury that I fully enjoy my time alone. But, alas, I suggested that Hayley and her friend should sleep over here since no one else was home and they jumped all over that, so now I'm not alone. Which is nice, I really don't like being alone overnight, although I've gotten used to it. I have a list a mile long of things I'd like to get done during this time, but of course, today was so lazy, I doubt tomorrow I can get it all done. But that's's nice just to have uninterrupted time to do mundane stuff like clean the pantry and bake cookies - which I did, even though I'm the only one home!

What's up this coming week? Well, I finally get my stitches out of my back on Monday. I had a mole removed then they had to go deeper because they found "suspicious cells" and so I ended up with a pretty big cut and stitches inside and out! It's been ok, but it itches like crazy and feels funny when I bend over - the stitches are right where my jeans hit, too, so I have to wear a tank top tucked in. I'll be glad to get them out (but not glad for the nasty scar it's going to leave!). So, Monday I have something scheduled at 9, 10:30, 11:30, 1:40, 3, 4 and 5. Should be an interesting day! Tuesday I get to have a girls' night out, which is rare and fun........Weds. media training for Hannah's Jingle Bell Run appearances, Thursday it's hair day with Marie and fun day with Amy and Friday watching Hannah in a choir performance (and trying to stay awake after the movie at midnight!).

Gotta get some sleep now........staying up till past midnight two nights in a row is tough.......I'm getting old!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Art of Busy

Being busy is an art. We're all "too busy" or have busy-ness built into our day. And being busy certainly makes the days go by fast............but honestly? I'd love to be a little less busy. We used to be busier.......if you count outside activities. We've cut back on a lot of that, including sports, so our "busy" days should have decreased, but somehow, I don't feel any less busy. Sure, I've added a job to my already-full days. But c'mon. Plenty of people work full-time AND do all the other family/mom/wife/friend stuff and I truly have no idea how they do it. I figure something's gotta give in some one can do it all!

Today, I woke up at 6 a.m., worked out to a TV workout show at 7 a.m., showered by 8 a.m., and had my "kids" arrive at 9 a.m. (the two I nanny for). They don't normally come to my house, and we thought this would be a fun switch-up. Not so much! I felt like I was busier than ever, since one of them has special needs and is into everything! Two spilled yogurts later, a few knicknacks tossed about, my digital frame about meeting an early demise, and many quickly diverted accidents (and this was all AFTER I "babyproofed" quickly before they came), and I was exhausted. I felt like having my own kids here was also just added work, especially since two of them had sleepovers (making breakfast, cleaning up endless messes). I finally took the girls back to their own house around 1:45 p.m. and took Hannah with me, since I was leaving at 2:30 and she was to relieve me. I left around 2:45, went to Jeff's work to switch vans (he needed mine to drive to Vantage tonight), then had just enough time to grab a quick coffee and run to Staples for pencil leads for Hannah's mechanical pencil. I then had physical therapy at 4, which took till 4:50, then I raced to pick up Hannah (15 minutes away) and head to a meeting for the Jingle Bell Run committee (a 35 minute drive away). We were late to the meeting, left there around 6:45, headed to Fred Meyer to pick up prescriptions for Hannah that were NOT ready - again (this was our third trip trying to get the same two prescriptions!). After we waited 20 minutes for this fiasco, we went to get teriyaki for dinner. Waited for that, got home around 8 p.m. and finally had dinner. Really, just not a minute in the day (save for that coffee!) to just relax and not be "on" all the time. And most of my days are like that!!

Now, having some help in all of this would be heavenly. Like a maid or a chauffer.......but, please! Who can afford that? What I COULD use help with often is transporting kids to various appointments. I went over my calendar today and realized that next Monday I have an even busier day - yoga 9-10 (maybe!?), PT at 10:30, lunch with a friend (we've been trying to find a time to do this since JULY!) at 11:30, appointment to remove my stitches in my back at 1:40, dentist appt. for Arlie at 3, counseling appt. for Hannah at 4, gymnastics make up and trampoline class makeup for Arlie and Harrison at 5. That's on my "day off" (which is so laughable.....really? A "day off"?). As you can see, I cannot be in two or three places at once, so I called the seemingly most obvious person to help me - my children's father! But can he help? Oh no, he has something going on. ALWAYS!!! I love how divorce automatically puts the non-custodial parent in the envious position of being able to just CHOOSE to participate or not in their child's lives. I ask you - what would have happened if we were still married? He'd HAVE to find a way to make it work, because he'd have no other options. But, alas, he KNOWS he has options so he just says "no" and that's that. Now, I will have to ask Jeff to take time off work to help me. And he will do it because he actually UNDERSTANDS what it means to be a parent.

This is just some of the busy-ness I could do without. Appointments (endless), grocery shopping, errands, constant "running around" for things that crop up - and all on my days "off". I'd really love a true "day off" - just a day where I have absolutely nothing planned! Maybe I'd get a massage or pedicure..........but, oh yeah, I'd have to make an appointment for those.........and so the busy drags on..........and I'm tired of it!

Saturday, November 7, 2009


A strange series of events prompted me to write this entry, something I always knew I would do, but just didn't know when...........

But first, some history......many people don't know this but I had a miscarriage between my pregnancies with Hayley and Hannah. I was seven weeks pregnant and had already spread the happy news to my family and friends. Sadly, that pregnancy ended, and the absolute worst part of it all was the "untelling". It went on for months, because I had told so many people, that I would run into someone months later who would eye me suspiciously and say "aren't you....?" to which I'd have to run down the whole story again. It was a really sad and confusing time for me, but happily I got pregnant with Hannah just two months later, and so I had something else to occupy my time and emotions. On Mother's day that year, I was very pregnant and had mixed emotions because that would have been my due date with the previous pregnancy. But there I was, six months into another healthy pregnancy, so I had a lot to be happy about as well.

Lucky for me, my next pregnancy, with Harrison, was also healthy. And then I was "done" - I had my girls, I had a boy, and I thought my family was complete. But life throws us curveballs, and how was I to know I'd get divorced, remarry, gain a bonus daughter, and start to think about having another baby? Of course, having a baby is something Jeff and I talked about, as any marrying couple would, and the possibility was still there for us. But as our lives slowly untangled themselves from divorce proceedings to adjusting to a new, blended family, adding another baby to our brood seemed an impossibility, or at the very least, an improbability. And we were both getting older. So, we had to decide - baby or not? We decided baby but that didn't work out like we planned. So we sought help in the form of the dreaded fertility clinic! We did medicine, shots, and finally an IUI (intrauterine insemination) which was unsuccessful.

There was talk of a surgery - to remove a dermoid cyst I had on my left ovary. We had been watching it for a couple of years and I finally felt it was time to get it out and just be done worrying about it. The cyst was wrapped around my ovary and the doctor said it would be a much less complicated surgery if we removed the ovary along with it. Figuring I didn't "need" that ovary anymore (seeing as it appeared we could not have a baby together), I opted to have it removed. The surgery was successful.........and ten days later, I got pregnant! I did not discover this until my post-op visit, at which time my jaw hit the floor. I had a mixture of emotions - fear, disbelief, total joy. We finally got what we wanted so badly! But sadly, that pregnancy also ended in miscarriage last November. We had discussed all the different ways to tell the kids, who so badly wanted a sibling, and had decided to tape ultrasound pictures into a gift box, wrap it up, and put it under the Christmas tree for the kids to open. We would explain it was a gift for the whole family and watch their faces as they realized they were finally getting THE gift they'd been asking for all this time. Needless to say we were SO excited about this, and then it all suddenly ended. And we didn't know what to say. To anyone. Because we didn't TELL anyone. The only people who knew were my doctor, us, and the bartender at The Rock (because I went out with my friends and had to ask him to "fake" a drink for me, because I wasn't ready to tell them I was pregnant and did not want to raise suspicions!). We simply did not tell anyone else, choosing to wait until Christmas to tell the kids first. So, it seemed weird to even bring it up to anyone else at that point. It was just something Jeff and I dealt with ourselves. I always KNEW I'd tell my family and friends, but when is a good time to say "oh, by the way, I WAS pregnant but I'm not now"? Next thing I knew, time went by...........and here it is, a whole year later.

I noticed I'd been thinking about it a lot and realized it's been a year so it seemed natural to think about what would have been near the one-year anniversary of that sad day. But we also learned that Arlie's mom just found out she's pregnant. So, of course, it made us sad that we can't give Arlie that ultimate gift of a sibling that she's been so wanting, but her mom can. And it made me sad that Jeff just has one child. Because I know he's always wanted more than one child. And I can't help but wonder why it hasn't worked for us? I never had any trouble getting pregnant before, and we've been checked out every which way and there does not seem to be a good reason why we can't get pregnant, but now that I'm almost 42, it seems my fertile days are behind me.

Sure, there are a MILLION reasons why having another baby at our age and stage in life is completely crazy (not the least of which is the fact that we already have four healthy children). But if there's one regret I have, it's that we couldn't give our kids a sibling, and have our own baby that would tie us all together. What a beautiful gift that would have been for us, such a neat way to complete our family! I so wanted to give Jeff another child and raise a child with him from birth - OUR baby. And we had those two blissful weeks where we planned and dreamed and laughed about the fact that it was really happening. And then it was over. So, a year later, it's hard not to think about what would have been, even though we are forever grateful for what we do have - four beautiful kids! It's just that a baby in this family would have been so loved and so cherished and woven a common thread through us all. But it wasn't meant to be. I wonder if you are ever really at peace with that? The what-ifs and could-have-been's go on forever. All I know is, a baby would have been the best gift we ever could have given our kids and ourselves, and it would have been a very loved baby, indeed.

Red Hot Romance..........

Dueling Laptops
Remember when you brought me flowers?
Remember when we talked for hours?
Red-hot dates and scrumptious dinners?
(Before all that, we were much thinner!)
Bed and breakfasts, weekends away
Time together, those were the days!
Now we sit, you, me and our Dells...
Snuggled in bed and all is well!
You look up parts for your rusty old Ford
I veg on Facebook and I'm never bored...
Our son comes in and says, "Oh wow!"
"I gotta get a picture of this right now!"
He says "send it to Dell and make some money"
and I say "that's not a bad idea, honey!"
I could use a million bucks
And you could finally restore your truck!
Ah well, I know it's just a dream
so we live our lives (and we live it lean!)
At least we have our computers for fun
Me, my Dell and my chosen one! :)
Love you, honey!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Random stuff.......

Today at coffee, I saw a woman put TEN Equal sweetener packets in her coffee. She had a system -tear two at a time, pour into coffee, lick the packages, throw in trash. It was disgusting and just a little bit disturbing.......

Harrison came home and said he HATES his school picture....funny, the girls all liked theirs. How's that for role-reversal?

The kids and I got swine flu vaccines this week. I hope they don't discover some horrible side effect or we're screwed.

Yesterday at work I watched a show called "The ABC's of Hip Hop" and I learned to "put a little attitude" into my workout.........wha'd you say? wha'd you say? I said I don' know.....big hug! You'd have to see it..........but I showed off my new moves to anyone who would watch.....

I bought satsumas at the store and put them in the fridge. When I was done I had this nifty mesh sack, so I pulled it tight over my face and went around scaring people by pretending to be a criminal. When I exhausted that fun, I tucked my hair into it and pretended I was a lunch lady. I served dinner in it. Who says grownups can't play make believe?

At my job this week I've been simultaneously offered a booger and a hug. I chose the hug.

I have stitches in my back......

I still send juice boxes in my high-schooler's lunch. Is that dorky?

Hayley made the most delicious chocolate/butterscotch chip cookies this week. I've eaten like 20. I MAY have a little problem........

I have to post something today because it's Thursday and my husband only reads this on Fridays and only because he puts it on his Outlook reminders. How's THAT for being interested in my blog?