Monday, January 14, 2013


Things around here haven't been so much on the funny side. There's a lot going on, a lot of serious stuff, and it's hard to crack a smile these days for all the stress and chaos. So, I give you a list of the unfunny:

1. Depression.
2. Anxiety.
3. Illness.
4. People who don't get it.
5. Crisis.
6. Being torn between work and home.
7. Not being able to fix everything.
8. Sadness.
9. Worry.
10. Fear.

And, to counter that, I give you a list of the funny:

1. Scaring people.
2. Farts.
3. My hair in the morning.
4. Facebook hacks.
5. When Jeff sings "Fame!"
6. Harrison's improv songs.
7. Arlie not getting it.
8. Hannah acting like a crested gibbon.
9. Hayley doing impressions.
10. Mommy, I schmell shit! (Only my family will get this)

Laughing is good medicine. Sadness is bad medicine. Laugh, even when you're sad.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Traditions....and why it's ok to change them...

Tomorrow is the first birthday in our family in 2013 - and things they are a'changin! We have had a long-standing tradition of "birthday morning" meaning the birthday boy or girl wakes up to the kitchen table decorated with presents, balloons on the chandelier, and a birthday morning treat of their choosing on the table for breakfast. The thing is, this was never intended to be a tradition. It's just something I did ONCE and after that it was expected. I didn't mind this, in fact, I thought it was pretty cool we had our own little tradition. It was fun - until the oldest kid hit junior high.

Then, the school start time was much earlier, necessitating the younger crowd getting up even earlier so we could all gather 'round the festive birthday table and watch the present opening. And once the kids got even older, yours truly had to stay up later and later (or get up REALLY early) to do the "birthday fairy" thing and put out all the decorations, presents, and, often, stay up late baking something (or get up REALLY early to bake something). Ugh. Birthday tradition or not, it became more work than I wanted it to be.

So, recently I suggested we switch it to "birthday evening." And I was berated for not keeping the tradition alive and kicking. Well, then.

But then it was MY birthday and no birthday fairy came. No one decorated squat and there were no presents on the table in the morning, nor a birthday treat in sight. In the evening I had presents, but I was not happy about all the times I stayed up late or got up early to create this magic for everyone else in my family and not one person bothered to do it for me.

And I realized, a tradition is no fun if it's just work for one person. And since I started it, I can end it. So, now we are having birthday evening. Or afternoon. Or whenever I have time to get it all together. Sometimes traditions just create stress and what's the fun in that?

Birthdays are for celebrating, certainly, and I love a good birthday party and the traditions of presents and cake. I love creating that for my family. But I think as you get older you have to create new traditions or just take them as they come. My friends take me out for lunch on my birthday every year and I love it. But I would also be ok with whatever other way of celebrating I wanted to do, with or without friends.

The thing is, no one's birthday is going to go by unnoticed around here, even if there are not five mismatched balloons tied to the chandelier. There will still be presents, just not first thing in the morning. Birthday morning treat might be a trip by the coffee stand and the fact that you actually get a ride to school and get to skip the bus for one day. There will always be cake - heck this year my son got an ice cream cake tonight, a promised rainbow cake from his big sister tomorrow and cupcakes for his party on Saturday. So, yes, there will always be cake.

It's ok to take a break..........from traditions. Or to change them completely. Change is good.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Not even cool........

Today I struggled with my bangs. I straightened them, and, as anyone who knows me can clearly see, I have VERY curly hair. But sometimes I'm just sick of my "Top Ramen" noodle-curly bangs and I just want regular, straight bangs. But then, I have to straighten the rest of my hair, or, in a pinch, pull the rest of my hair up into a high ponytail and let the curls fall where they may. But my bangs just never really "blend" and so I'm stuck with this sort of half'n'half hairstyle, which I'm not even sure can be called a "style."

Then, I wore this shirt....I'm not even sure where it came from. It appears to be new, so I must have bought it at some point, but I've never worn it. And I'm not even sure what I saw in it - it's like it was love at first sight and then I wanted to break up with it. So, it sat in my closet, lonely, until I took it out today to wear it. And the color is really nice on me, but the style......well, you know how tall, willowy people can pull off a blousy shirt and it looks all bohemian and flowy? That's not me. It just made me feel frumpy. And very mom-ish. Which is not a bad thing - I mean, hey, I wear my mom badge proudly, but it just wasn't what I was trying to pull off today.

As I was out driving on my errands, I thought about my "style" which is essentially whatever I find that's on sale and cute. I have some things I obviously avoid (skinny jeans, mini skirts) and some things I really, really love (cardigans, comfortable jeans) but I tend to adopt something comfortable and cute and it becomes my uniform for a long time.

When I was in school, I never had the luxury of "in style" clothes. You know those super-cool Izod Lacoste shirts? Never had one. Nope, the closest I got was the knock-off Le Tigre brand with the obviously-not-an-alligator tiger decal on the chest. And I only had one of those (I'm sure it was in a clearance bin somewhere and I jumped with glee to score such a lucky find). My friends, however, had MULTIPLE "alligator shirts" that they actually wore together in layers of two or three, with all of the collars popped up showing layers of pink, baby blue, and soft yellow. Oh, the envy!

I think I once owned a pair of Jordache jeans but it was after they were all the rage and everyone else had moved on to another designer. I think they were acid-wash. So, probably on sale as well.

My favorite shopping experiences were going to Mervyn's at the end of the month for their clearance sale. All my friends shopped at 5-7-9 but I wore a size 11. They feathered their hair, but mine was a frizzy helmet (this was before the days of good styling products, so it was wash, "creme" rinse, blow dry, pouf!). One day in high school, a girl in my class exclaimed loudly "you're wearing makeup!" which I thought was weird, because I wore makeup every day! I guess I didn't get the memo about the several layers of Maybelline foundation, and stuck to mascara and Bonne Bell lip gloss.

Today my style is Old Navy jeans, shirts from Old Navy, Target or Fred Meyer, with an occasional splurge at Maurice's in the mall. My shoes have improved - where I once wore only what was on sale at Payless Shoes, I have now branched out to Danskos and Born clogs, but only because of a foot injury and the subsequent doctor's orders to quit buying crap shoes. I love jewelry (costume of course, I do have some real pearls but they broke years ago and I've never bothered getting them restrung). I have baubles to match any color scheme. I've amassed a collection of scarves but I never know how to wear them without making them look like a badge saying "look at my huge boobs!"

The point is, I was never cool in school and I'm not cool now. At least not where my clothes or hair is concerned. Today it's more about not having the disposable income to dress high-fashion, and the need to clothe four kids as well as a husband. That, plus my ingrained inability to not head right to the clearance rack, keeps me shopping bargain basement, all the way down the the thrift-shop. I even do it when I shop online. The other day, sick in bed with nothing better to do, I perused all 2,444 items on clearance in "my" department on the Target website. I snagged three sweaters (all the same in three different colors) for eight bucks apiece and finally found a pair of cute black boots - something I've been searching for since before Thanksgiving. Everyone else is wearing these adorable black calf-high boots over skinny jeans, but my calves were fat before I was, and I'm not willing to spend $100 on "wide-calf" boots from a mediocre designer just to try to achieve the look. Besides, I'm short so most boots go all the way up to my knee anyway. But a nice pair of shorter, low-heeled black boots would be really nice and I found some for $12. Yeah, it kind of violates the rule of "no crap shoes" but they might be really comfortable!

During the last week when I was sick, I also watched "Project Runway" for the first time. It was quite amusing - the designers were required to make a fashion garment from items found in a hardware store. Some of the results were stunning and amazing - but nothing the normal people would ever wear. But listening to them talk about clothes - all the adjectives, the comparisons, the subtle references - was hilarious. Who really wears high fashion? Who can afford it? Who doesn't love yoga pants and a comfy t-shirt? If clothes make the man, my husband is a hobo. But I think he's still pretty cool, despite the fact that some days, when he's working on his truck and runs to the auto-parts store, I'm afraid someone is going to hand him a dollar or offer to buy him a meal. I love him, scruffy and unkempt. I just hope he feels the same about me. Discount wardrobe and all. It's cool.

Doctor, doctor............

Today I went in to the doctor's office for a blood draw. I have to do this periodically to get my thyroid and blood sugar checked. No big deal - it's pretty routine for me. I made my appointment for 10:45 a.m. and arrived five minutes late. Whoops. I checked in and waited about 15 minutes before I was called back. Not bad - but it was just for the lab. When I have an appointment with the doctor, I often wait 30 minutes in the waiting room and another 30 minutes to one hour in the exam room before seeing the doctor. The wait times have increased every year I've been going there - which is almost twenty years now. My husband complains about it all the time and has suggested we change doctors for that reason alone but I've been loyal - so far.

I noticed there were no familiar faces in the lab today. It's Saturday so I just figured that must be the reason. A lab tech named Laura took me back. The first thing I noticed was that she did not smile or greet me at all. I sat down and mentioned that I had "difficult" veins and that we always used a butterfly needle. I know this about myself and I feel it's my right to inform a new person - especially since I have had some pretty awful experiences with having my blood drawn by a new person who has no idea how hard it is to find a vein, and who has spent several minutes digging around for my vein with a full-size needle, resulting in bruising that lasted two weeks. Laura did not seem to care what I had just said to her - she just put the tourniquet on my arm so tightly I had instant pain. Now, I'm no baby when it comes to getting my blood drawn. It doesn't bother me and I can watch and am naturally curious. I certainly have never cared about the tourniquet. But this one was TIGHT! I didn't say anything, figuring it's only on for a short time, but of course, she could not find a vein and proceeded to search the other arm - putting the tourniquet just as tight on that arm! After she switched back to the first arm and tried again, I said "the tourniquet is really tight" to which she replied (in a "duh" voice), "It's supposed to be!"

I let her keep trying to find my vein but the pain from the tourniquet was really bothering me. I said "you know, the tourniquet is really, really tight, I've never had it this tight before" and she snapped it off and said "You want someone else?" I was taken aback and said "No, it's ok, I just don't think the tourniquet should be this tight, it's really painful" and then I remembered a lab tech who always drew my blood well named Anh and I asked if she was there. I got a curt "no". Laura prodded my arm again looking for a vein. She then started looking at my hands and I said "I don't do my hands anymore - they bruise too badly" and she rolled her eyes. I said "That's why I wondered if Anh was here - she always did a really good job, I know my veins are tough" and Laura said "Yeah, well Anh doesn't work here anymore!"  I said "I think we need to get someone else." No way was I going to let her continue with her attitude and rude demeanor. The person who replaced her was very nice and, although she had the same difficulties finding the vein, she patiently found one, and apologized for needing to leave the tourniquet on during the draw. I didn't care because although it was tight, it was not cutting off my circulation like the one Laura did.

However, the new person (I couldn't see her name tag) at first put on a pair of gloves, deemed them "too small" and pulled them off, neglecting to glove up a second time. She just drew my blood with bare hands (more her risk than mine, I guess, but still - ew!) and at one point, she dropped one of my vials on the floor (thank God they are not made of glass anymore!) and just scooped it up. I know the blood inside was sealed off, but again, ew.

On my way out, I asked to speak to the office manager. They told me she would be "right out" so I waited, standing, in the hallway, thinking it would be a minute. I waited and waited and finally was in the way of someone who asked if they could help me. I told them I was waiting for the office manager and the first person who helped me said "she's coming right out" so I sat down to wait. And waited. And waited. Mind you, I had to fast before this blood draw and it was nearing noon at this time and I was starving. I stood up again and said "You know what? I need to go." I was asked if I wanted to leave my name and number but I said no, I would just write a letter.

Which is exactly what I intend to do. I'm so disappointed in my doctor's office and, as a twenty-year patient, I think they should hear why. I haven't wanted to switch doctors, figuring it takes a while to establish a rapport with a new doctor, our doctor knows and treats our whole family, we know several of the other doctors at the clinic, etc. But the truth is, most of the staff we used to know is gone. Every time I go in I see new faces, which means there is a high turnover. Our primary care doctor is almost never available on short notice so we almost always see someone else. And when we do go in for a visit, we are often there for more than two hours when all is said and done. I block out my whole afternoon knowing I might not get out of there in time to do anything else. I've often been waiting anxiously knowing I need to pick up another kid or drive someone somewhere else, and I've scrambled to make other arrangements because the doctor's office has been running so late. And now they have signs around the office saying your appointment is for one reason only and if you have two issues, you need to make another appointment. But who has time for that?

I don't know if writing a letter will change anything but it sure seems like everything has been going downhill. I hate the thought of starting over with a whole new doctor - with six people in my family seeing the same doctor that's a lot of new health issues for a new doctor to learn and understand. But I'm not sure my family is really that important to the clinic any more and I don't like that, either.

Friday, January 4, 2013

In sickness......

I don't usually get sick. Maybe once or twice a year I get sick enough to miss work. Well, I've now been sick for five days and the last time I was sick for that long, it was a horrible bacteria that invaded my body over Thanksgiving weekend, 2011, and I thought I was dying. This time, it's more like the flu - started out with aches, chills, fever, and those things could be easily controlled by ibuprofen every four hours. And then it just became this low-energy thing - like, I do ONE thing and I feel like I need a nap! Of course, since I'm a mom, I didn't have the luxury of just lying in bed and recovering, but since it started over a school break, I actually HAVE had some time to lounge and nap and I'm sick of it!

Monday I didn't feel so bad taking a long nap because that was when it hit me first. Tuesday, I did some laundry, colored and deep-conditioned my hair - and then I was exhausted! Wednesday, I had to take Arlie to gym so I killed time for three hours until she was done by having coffee with my friend - and it was exhausting. Later on Wednesday, when I was hoping to just be done for the day, I ended up having to take Harrison to band, so I killed two more hours running errands and when I got home I went straight to bed. Yesterday I actually stayed in bed pretty much the whole day. My butt actually hurt from sitting up in bed so long. I napped a little, but mostly just lounged and did stuff on my computer, including a little bit of "work" stuff. But I called in for a sub at work, because I definitely did not feel ready to take on a room full of kindergarten kids just back from a two-week break!

Today, it's Friday and my day off work. Thank goodness, because I STILL do not feel like I have the energy for my normal activities. I'm a really high-energy person so feeling like this is disconcerting at best. I always have a list a mile long of things I need to do, take care of, etc. and just laying in bed is NEVER on my list. Sure, it's a nice sign from the universe to slow down and take care of ME, but I'm ready to "git 'er done" and laying in bed isn't accomplishing anything.

The worst part is that we had several beautiful, sunny days, and I wanted nothing more than to be out in the sunshine, walking or cleaning out my car, or just hanging out in the driveway with Jeff while he worked on his truck. But, alas, I have barely ventured outside at all. And today dawned grey and rainy. Bleh.

And....when I woke up this morning, I was faced with a houseful of upside-down and stacked furniture from getting the carpets cleaned yesterday. I REALLY do not have the strength to put it all back, but at the same time, it's going to drive me crazy if I just leave it. Jeff is gone on a half-day fishing trip so I guess I could wait for him to get back. But my control freak side has reared it's ugly head and I want to change things up so I want to have a say in where things get put back. I mean, what better time to change around the whole room when there's nothing in it, right? I have big plans, I tell you!

Right after I take a little nap................

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

2012 in pix.......

 Harrison turned 13!

 We got snowed in!

 Harrison performed with his band, Bushwhack at Big Daddy's!

 Mimi turned 70 and her sisters came from Ohio! Hannah and mommy traveled to Boise. 

 Arlie turned 14!

 We went to Teatro ZinZanni where Arlie was the star of the show!

 Hayley and her friends, and Jeff and I, went to San Diego!

 Spring came to Seattle! 

 We spent spring break at Cannon Beach!

 Harrison starred as the Cowardly Lion on "On The Road Again"

 We visited Hayley at Central for family weekend. 

 Harrison and Bushwhack did another gig at Big Daddy's

 Jeff and M-L went to Folklife Festival in Seattle

 Jeff turned 44!

 Arlie and Harrison finished 7th and 8th grades. Harrison won Student of the Year!

 Arlie performed in a dance recital

 Hayley turned 19!

 We went to Boise for the little boys' birthdays

 Hannah turned 17!

 We spent some summer nights at Camano Island

 Bushwhack performed at Hard Rock Cafe, Seattle

 Swimming in Lake Tapps

 A day at Pike Place with Arlie

 Kids saw Demi Lovato at the Evergreen State Fair

 We went to the zoo

 Kayaking Lake Washington

 Happy Familyversary #6

 Harrison and Arlie started 8th and 9th grades

 Hannah performed in Broadway Musical Revue

 Harrison and Arlie performed in Kids' Choir in BMR

 We went to Boise again for Lila's 1st birthday!

 We went back to San Diego to visit Grandpa Vern

 We went to the pumpkin patch with our children of the corn!

 We carved pumpkins!

 Hannah performed in "Bridal Terrorism" 

We went to Teatro ZinZanni again where Harrison was the star of the show!

 We decorated the Christmas tree

 Arlie and Harrison got braces!

 We saw "Elf: The Musical" at the 5th Avenue Theater

 Jeff grew a mustache for No Shave November

 We said goodbye to Shade. RIP buddy!

 We had an Ugly Christmas Sweater party!

 Arlie performed in her first gymnastics meet for the BHS team

We went to parties!

 We went to more parties!

 Jeff caught two steelhead!

 Santa came to our house!

 We saw Christmas lights

What will 2013 bring?