Monday, May 31, 2010

Babies and BBQ

Two pregnant mamas - due July 8 and Aug. 1

Dueling bellies!

Jeff and Suzanne Pearson

Carol and Mike Hansen

Peter and Mike

Papa, Mimi and Jim Hansen

Kaden and his dog posse!

Playgroup kids all grown up!

Haley and Hayley, age 16

Haley, Hayley and Audrey, age 16

Hannah and Lexie, age 14

Hannah and Lexie - friends since birth!

Tonya, M-L and Shannon

Unca Jeff and Kaden play blocks and cars!
We had a BBQ and baby shower here on May 28. Lots of old friends came to celebrate and it was fun to see everyone. Jeff and Suzanne are expecting their first baby together on Aug. 1. Mike and Carol brought Peter who is 2 1/2 and so cute and smart! Shannon and family came bearing baby gifts and delicious brownies and Tonya and her girls came and helped complete the picture of all our playgroup friends grown up. We were missing a few (Stephanie, Trevor, Natalie, Rachel and Randy) but it's amazing how fast our babies are grown, and that we're adding a new generation of babies already with Sydney! Jeff whipped up burgers and dogs on his new BBQ and mom made macaroni salad and baked beans. My oven went out in the morning so we were stuck without an oven to bake or heat - and the microwave is out as well! Still, we had a great time. Jeff tapped his newest brew - May Day IPA. Good times!

Feeding the Ducks!

Myla feeds the ducks.....

The rooster stops to cluck.......

Two cute toddlers smile......

A nanny and her child.......

Yay for feeding the ducks!

Sister Schools Concert

Harrison of The Bad Monkeys sets up for a marimba number!

The Fernwood Choir performed a Michael Jackson tribute and several other beautiful songs!

Arlie played the flute parts on "Peace I Leave With You"

Harrison on the marimbas

My two performers! So proud of them!

Harrison strikes a pose after the concert.....

Overton Berry and Harrison

The after party at Dairy Queen!

Harrison, Khylee, Anjali, and Maddie

Mimi poses with some amazing kids!

The Fernwood Sister Schools concert was May 27 at the Northshore Performing Arts Center. The Fernwood choir, the Bad Monkeys Marimba band, the benefit concert choir and Overton Berry all performed. It was an amazing concert and netted a great profit for our sister school, Mokono Boarding School, in Uganda. Past concerts have helped fund a resource center for the school and future funds will build more resource centers so kids can have books and resources to learn. It's a great cause and a wonderful way to hear our kids perform. Harrison was in both the choir and marimba band. Arlie was in the choir and played a flute duet. Both did amazingly well and we celebrated afterward with a trip to Dairy Queen, as tradition dictates! Mimi and Papa were here to enjoy it, too, which was an added bonus.

Hayley's First Paycheck!

Yes, that's my daughter, holding her first (of hopefully many from here on out) paycheck! She was hired to do the nanny job I've been holding for the past year and a half after school gets out for the summer. In the meantime, she's picked up a few extra jobs nannying and thus earned her first paycheck. She wisely put most of it in the bank and kept some for spending. Yay, Hayley!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Shade's Latest Antics.......

Shade's latest "mistake" cost us $164. I took him for a car ride the other day - to pick up Hayley - because you know how much dogs enjoy car rides, right? Well, Shade and Georgette wanted to come along so I let them hop in. Just a short trip, no problem. Hayley wanted to drive home, so I let her. We got back to the house, she handed me the keys and we both went inside and closed the garage. Twenty minutes later, Jeff said "you did bring the dogs home, right?" Oh, shit! We forgot the dogs. They were so damn QUIET when we got in the driveway, we forgot all about them! Jeff went out to release them from their prison and discovered that Shade had gotten himself completely tangled in the rear bench seatbelt that hangs from the ceiling, having done a complete loop-de-loop and was now ensnared in a tourniquet. A tourniquet made of very strong material not designed to "give" easily. We struggled to get him free, resulting in a bite to my hand and Jeff freaking out and finally ordering me to cut the belt! I had SERIOUS reservations about doing that, thinking we could just duct tape the dog's mouth closed, flip him back over and out of the tourniquet and call it a day. But Jeff was getting increasingly frantic so I grabbed the scissors and cut the belt. Yikes. The dog bolted free and the remnants of the seatbelt retracted into the ceiling. The damage? $164 for a new seatbelt and a half hour or so of labor on Jeff's part to reinstall it. I'm not thrilled about having an "after market" seatbelt installed but if we need to test it's integrity, I have just the dog for the job!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Loan Modification = NO!

For the past 14 months Jeff has been spending hours each day working on getting a loan modificaiton through our mortgage holder, Chase. For months, all they did was ask us to submit stacks of paperwork and resubmit those same stacks and we did everything they asked. Twice they told us we "failed" the hardship test - the first time because we had severance money from Jeff's old job, and now, today, we find out it's because Jeff has a 401K. This whole modification thing is a joke and it doesn't exist. I finally wrote to our Governor, both Senators, both Representatives and Jeff penned a letter to the White House. Senator Patty Murray filed a complaint on our behalf to Chase, who left a message with the name of a contact person whom Jeff called. He finally admitted that we did not qualify because of the 401K and Jeff asked why in the hell no one told us this 14 months ago? Over a year wasted, hoping each month to see some relief and we're back to square one.

Representative Jay Inslee wrote a letter and gave us some resources to contact. I called a HUD counselor who is sending me a packet of info to fill out, then a counselor will call us to see what our options are. At this point, our only hope is to refinance through a HUD program for Freddie Mac loans, but that MIGHT take our mortgage down a few hundred a month. That won't be enough. I'm afraid we're out of options and I'm scared what that means.

I do not want to lose our house. I know a house is just a structure but this is the only "home" I've really ever had. I've never lived anywhere this long, we lucked out on neighbors, we live in a wonderful community, and we're happy with the schools. To find all of that elsewhere will be impossible. Not to mention uprooting our kids. Hayley has only one more year of high school left and Hannah has a tight group of friends she would miss terribly. Arlie and Harrison are younger but they, too, are attached to this place, which has been their stability through divorce, remarriage, and a new family. To just leave it all would be horrible.

But what if we have no choice? And is it worth it? We spend 60% of our income just to keep a roof over our heads. That cuts into all other expenses. I don't even go to the grocery store that much anymore and it's showing in the cupboards! Is it really worth it to struggle like this to keep a wooden structure? If we move, we will still have each other, our family, which is stronger and more important than anything else. But still........the friendships, the neighbor bonds, the whole community changes even if you just move up the street! Our backyard that opens to the playground, the beautiful greenbelt and trees we wake up to every day, the fact that everyone has their own room here and we still have an office......all those things will change!

We couldn't buy a house, because we won't have any equity in this house. Not to mention we will either have to do a short sale or walk away, both of which will ruin our credit. So, we'd be renters again. And our choices would be so limited. The kids would likely have to share rooms and who knows what kind of yard we'd have? Even today when I was perusing rentals, I realized most of them won't take dogs! Will we have to give them up too?

It just seems like things are really crashing down as we go about our daily lives. Obviously something big has to happen, but what? I wish we could just walk away from it all and start over. I wish I never allowed this to happen in the first place. I should have fought Doug to keep the house free and clear in the divorce, or just sold it and moved on with Jeff. Paying Doug his equity is what got us here in the first place and now we're dealing with a pay cut (Jeff's job), reduction in hours (my job) and less child support. There's just no way we can keep going on like this. Something's gotta give...........

Monday, May 17, 2010

Monday, Monday......

Mondays are weird for me. If I'm lucky, I start them with yoga, then run an errand or two or head home to do some work around the house. Today I did both errands AND work around the house, and as always, the time got away from me. Before I knew it, it was 2:45 and I had to pick Arlie up from school and get to the dentist by 3! Oops. Even being late, we were done at the dentist in less than a half hour and at gymnastics a full fifteen minutes early. Being early is almost unheard of for me. I'm sure it's an annoyance to my husband, my friends, and my employers, who are always waiting for me to show up. I am chronically late, and it's because I attempt to use every spare minute "doing stuff" before I had to actually get in the car and drive somewhere. Now, I've considered trying to be on time. I've even made that my New Year's resolution before. But when I arrive early, I find myself waiting. And I don't so much like to wait. If I'm at a restaurant meeting a friend for lunch, there's that awkward waiting/staring at the door/should I just order my food situation when I'd much rather just arrive fashionably late where we meet in the parking lot and stroll in together. Or, if I'm heading to work, I don't want to be early because I want to get paid for EVERY LAST MINUTE I'm there (and I'm annoyed if I have to work over my shift!). I guess there's just no pleasing me, or being on time. Now, it's not like I can't wait and be patient. When I take Arlie to gymnastics on Mondays, I wait THREE HOURS while she flips and tumbles and conditions and vaults and balances. On good days, I've packed something to do. But more often than not, I'm stuck with my cell phone (which gets spotty coverage at best in the gym), and a stack of magazines. Maybe another mom to talk to from time to time. The point is, I wait. Then, I get home at 7:30 and the deluge hits. Every kid wants to talk to me, needs something from me or needs a fire lit under their butt to get chores done. Dinner is sometimes made, sometimes not. Lunches need to be packed for the next day, laundry done, chores done, dinner eaten, kids told numerous times to get a shower and go to bed, etc. Finally it's just me and my computer and it's LATE. And that's when I have my wind down time. I'd love to get to bed early and really catch up on some sleep, but it's impossible to just drop at 10 p.m. when I've been refereeing a tween drama crisis, switching loads of laundry, making my bed that I stripped this morning with all good intentions of not leaving it to be remade until bedtime (fail, every time) and finding out upon opening email that today is the LAST possible day to pay for the camping trip that is about to be canceled if I don't pay NOW. Gah! Then, my mind is running a million miles a minute and I just can't go to sleep. Until after midnight and then that 6:30 alarm clock sounds WAY too early. Mondays are a blur. Bring on Tuesday!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Relay for Life

Hannah and Tiffany

Hannah is tired!

Arlie just ran a few laps!

Jeff saying "hi"

Hannah, Arlie, Rylie and Hayley ready to relay!

Hayley and Hannah are participating in Relay for Life this weekend. Emphasis on the "lay" since it appears by these pictures that they are spending most of their time laying down! But they are actually walking, with a team, around a track for almost 24 hours (someone from the team is on the track continuously for the entire time). It's a big party, with live bands, food being sold, fundraisers, a luminaria ceremony, and a big sleepover in tents. Mostly I've only heard complaining about teenage girl drama and I ask myself, WHY do they do this? Oh yeah, to raise money for the American Cancer Society. But the money is already raised by Relay time, so the walk is just the icing on the cake - the celebration. And year after year, it's all about friend drama, someone's feet or knees hurting and them being cold at night. Sigh! I'm just glad I didn't volunteer to chaperone!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Just a quick trip......

Hayley, waiting in the car for me to finish shopping......

Today I went to pick Hayley up at school (because she still has not procured her own driver's license, thus I am still her taxi!), and as I left the driveway, sneaky Shade had slinked out and was about to go on a walk by himself in the neighborhood. I put the kebosh on that and lured him into the car - just a quick trip to the high school and a stop at the store. Well, upon arriving at the school, Hayley and I switched places so she could drive and she drove me to Fred Meyer to get some things. As usual, my list of six items grew to several when I realized I had several coupons about to expire which I wanted to use, so my trip took a little longer than expected, but all told I was in the store about 40 minutes. When I came back out, Hayley was hanging out, arm out the window, listening to some tunes. I tossed in the bags of groceries, which included a LOT of ice cream (coupons!) and she started the car. Well, she TRIED to start the car, but the car would not start. Huh? Dead battery? Just then a lady pulled up in a truck and I had Hayley ask her for a jump. She politely obliged and I decided this might be a good time to teach Hayley about a roadside emergency. Or not. First off, she got very loud and dramatic when I handed her the jumper cables (Oh my God, I am going to die! I'm going to get electrocuted! Do you really think I should do this? It's very dangerous! Mommy, mommy, mommy!). The lady suppressed a grin (or a grimace, I'm not sure) as I showed Hayley how to attach red to positive, black to negative. I sent her back in the car to turn the engine over. She exclaimed "the brake isn't working!" Duh. Tried to turn the car over and......nothing. I let the poor lady off the hook then, knowing it was going to take a lot longer to deal with. Next step? Call Jeff. After leaving the cables on and letting it charge a little longer, we were able to get it started. That's when we discovered Hayley had been listening to the radio, running the AC, AND had the lights on during the entire 40 minutes I was in the store. Hmmm.....lesson learned? The car battery is not an endless supply of power. It does get drained. And ice cream melts on a warm day in a hot car.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010


We (meaning Jeff) spend a lot of time cleaning up barf around here. About every other week one of the dogs (Shade or Charlie, not Georgie, she saves all her indiscretions for the urine variety), leaves a pile of unidentifiable "bleh" on the carpet (never the hardwoods - I'm pretty sure there is a rule in the Dog Book of Things to Never Do and number one is "barf in a convenient place like on a hardwood floor"). Sometimes we CAN identify the barf - like the time Shade barfed up a box of staples or a perfectly formed (and completely dry) rubber band ball. But usually it's just a pile of ick and Jeff dutifully cleans it up and then does a thorough carpet cleaning, leaving behind no trace of the offense. Tonight it was a kids' turn. Arlie felt suddenly sick and not long after made a mad dash to the bathroom, but alas, did not make it and thus Jeff spent several minutes cleaning up partially digested watermelon. Oh the joys! I remember when I was young, my mom and dad split up barf duty - one of them handled the mess while the other handled the kid (I can't remember now who did what, but I'm pretty sure my dad cleaned up the mess because I remember my mom yelling at me for not making it to the toilet - that was like a cardinal sin, worse even than saying the F word!). I grew up fearing barf like no one's business. I would do anything NOT to barf, even, I'm ashamed to say, sell my soul to the Devil (not that I ever had to, but what if Satan himself had come ready to make a deal?). Even today, I HATE to barf, it's the worst out-of-control feeling watching your body being taken over by heaving waves of nausea and spewing stomach contents in a violent gush. Even childbirth, which is when some sort of evil spirit possesses you, making you writhe and moan and scream things like "You did this to me!" and grab the collar of the night janitor demanding that he take this THING out of you NOW, pales by comparison when it comes to the violent "taking over" that is barfing.

Which brings me to a time my brother and I made a list of all the ways one refers to "barf".....and it was quite a list! I kept it for years, I may even still have it, but I can recall some of them here: vomit, technicolor yawn, driving the porcelain school bus, selling Buicks, spewing, tossing cookies, losing your lunch, ralph, yak, throw up, praying to the porcelain god, hurling. That's all I got for now. Feel free to add some!

P.S. Thank you, God, for the Little Green Clean Machine. Amen.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Bad Dog, Georgie!

This is Georgette. We sometimes call her George, or Georgie.
And no, she doesn't usually wear a sweater.......

Whoever said having a dog makes you live longer was WRONG! I swear, having three dogs takes years off my life everyday. Maybe the point is you are supposed to have just ONE dog........I don't know but three dogs is about two dogs too many for me. So, I figured, if I were to pick just one of the dogs, it would be Georgette. For one thing, she's "my" dog, having been brought into the marriage by me. For another, being a lab, she's a pretty good dog and light years smarter than the other two dogs Jeff contributed to the marriage (I believe they take after their owners, and seeing as I graduated from UW and Jeff from Eastern, one could see the parallels between the dogs' intelligence......but I digress.......). Georgie plays games, does tricks, never runs away, and until Jeff contributed Shade and Charlie, slovenly man dogs that they are, Georgie also went potty in ONE approved spot, each and every day, making clean up a breeze and keeping our patio unpolluted with doggie droppings. Oh, and did I mention she poops on command? However........Georgie has one tiny flaw. Well, ok, it's a huge flaw. She doesn't like to go outside and relieve herself very often. I can understand this, because, after all, she doesn't enjoy sharing her potty time with two male dogs. To that end, she will hold it for HOURS until, at the end of the day, we INSIST she go potty and then she lets the floodgates out and pees for several minutes straight. It's amazing, really, the volume she lets loose. So, occasionally, when someone (Jeff) hasn't remembered to let her out at night, she will go to bed with a full bladder. Like last night. Which is why I woke to the sound of water running, no GUSHING, and wondered, WTF? What could that be? And then I saw her trot out of the bathroom. At least she chose the correct spot for unleashing her fury. But did she manage to make a puddle on the linoleum? She did not. She trailed it and let loose on the carpet. I'm estimating she pees somewhere between a quart and a gallon each time she goes, so you can imagine how this "flood" got cleaned up. Out came the carpet cleaner in the wee hours. Thank God for Jeff because I would have just cried. And used a whole roll of paper towels trying to soak it up. I'm especially sensitive to this catastro-pee because Georgie was not housetrained for THREE years! Three years we dealt with a puddle here and a lake there. I thought I'd lose my mind, and nearly gave the dog away on several occasions. I can only imagine what the underside of my carpets looks like. I don't want to know! Every single time my ex comes over, Georgette lets loose and pees on the floor. Either he scares the piss out of her or........yeah, he must scare the piss out of her. All I know is, nothing about owning dogs makes me feel like I'm going to live longer. If anything, Georgie, who is always underfoot and follows me everywhere, will be responsible for my untimely demise when I trip over her and down the stairs! Nope, I'm not buying the owning dogs as the key to longevity pitch. What about you?

Really Amazing Mother's Day!

I had the best Mother's day doing absolutely nothing on a beautiful, sunny day in the Pacific NW. Normally on a beautiful (rare!) day around here, I feel the need to do an outing - to the beach or a park or something outdoorsy and fun in the sun. Yesterday, I was completely happy to just lounge around all day in the sun - and I did! I woke to sun streaming in my window and birds chirping and Jeff made me breakfast to order and Harrison delivered it to me (adding a few special touches). Arlie wrote me the funniest poem (see my FB to read it!), and Hayley brought me pretty flowers! Harrison wrote me a sweet note and Jeff gave me a nice card. Hayley also made me a slide show of old pictures of all my babies when they were little, along with a sweet song to accompany it. Hannah had friends sleep over so she got around to wishing me a Happy Mother's day after they all left! HAHA! I lounged in bed with my computer until noon, showered, and went outside where I lounged in the sun reading, talking with the kids and Jeff and Amy and Julius, who stopped by, and just soaking up the rays. Jeff made pizza for dinner, Hayley made me a cake, and later we all went out on the roof! The kids had a blast up there and Jeff laughed at us for "discovering a whole new dimension of our house"! It was fun and just relaxing. A really great Mother's day!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Spokane for Bloomsday

We went to Spokane for Bloomsday. Jeff had a BBQ with old friends, like Jeff and Shelly Kuntz, Christy, and others.........

Arlie's mom brought her for the festivities!

Arlie got to spend some time with Grandma Mary Anne and Poppy

My nephew, Hayden, stopped by! (Along with Aunt Monica, but I didn't get a pic of her!)

There was a spectacular rainbow, following a day of weird weather!

The next day was sunny, but cold. Jeff was all geared up to run a 12K!

A Bloomsday tradition - people throw jackets, sweatshirts, sweatpants and other clothing items in the trees at the start of the race! Later, they are collected for charity.

Jeff with his finisher's shirt - unlike triathlons and other running events, you only get a shirt at Bloomsday if you FINISH!

Walking back to the car, we saw the sheriff wagon pulling all the donated clothing - wow! That's a lot of donations!