Sunday, September 22, 2013

Expiration dates.........

I know I've blogged about this before, but my husband thinks expiration dates are mere guidelines, and perhaps even completely unnecessary. He also hates waste and is the human garbage disposal around here. He eats up the leftovers and even the things no one else will eat. The other day, I kid you not, he took grapes out of the sink (studies show the sink is the germiest part of your kitchen) that I had tossed in there because they were "gross." Granted, "gross" to me meant "squishy" and while I'm sure they probably tasted perfectly fine, I HATE squishy grapes so I tossed them. He scooped them up, washed them off and put them in a bag so he could take them for his lunch.

Today, he decided to make homemade bread. As he was mixing the ingredients, he started laughing to himself. When I asked why, he showed me the yeast jar. Across the expiration date, he had marked a big, black line and on top of that written "good forever" in Sharpie. Yeast is NOT good forever. Duh. That's why it has an expiration date. And why you keep it in the fridge. Because it's PERISHABLE.

I wonder if he's tried to black out the expiration dates on other things? He once got so mad at me for throwing out canned goods that were years past their prime. He even fished some of them out of the garbage. Granted, this man has an iron stomach, but I was once struck with a food-borne illness so bad, I thought I might die. So, of course we have different opinions about what is good and what is spoiled. One good case of e coli and he'll change his mind.

We recently caught a boatload of salmon. He's been cooking it, brining it, smoking it and preparing it for days. But even delicious, fresh-caught salmon has a limit. What's the saying? "Fish and visitors start to smell bad after three days." Or something like that. It's good enough for me. After three days, I toss it.

I know he sometimes prepares dinners with less than fresh ingredients - maybe some wilted lettuce, tomatoes I would have thrown out, a canned good or two that lingered in the pantry a few months too long. If I don't KNOW he's doing it, then it doesn't hurt me. But I'm also really diligent about throwing out old food before he notices it. After the dumpster-diving canned-goods incident, I've learned to clean the pantry when he's gone. And then throw some other stuff on top so he can't see it in the garbage. Evasive measures, my friends.

But....he cooks. Really well. The yeast might not be "good forever" but he will be the one to make it last well beyond its useful life. He's a depression-era man in the wrong century. But I still can't believe he took the grapes out of the sink!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

An open letter to my girls and girls everywhere......

Hey, you. Yeah, you. You're pretty. Really, you are. Could you be even prettier? Of course. I'll tell you why later, but for now, just know that you're beautiful.

When I was growing up, I liked to think of all the adjectives that could describe me. "Beautiful" and "pretty" never made the cut, but I was o.k. with "cute." I was never "skinny," although I was never really "fat" either, by society's standards. But parts of me were fat. My thighs were too big. My hips too large. My sister delighted in calling me "horse hips" and "thunder thighs." Although, at the time, who knew they would get even bigger?

I never had that awesome, long, flowy hair all my friends seemed to have. Remember "feathering?" That Farrah Fawcett, awesome flip of the hair that resulted in feathered layers that lay just so on gleaming blonde hair? Yeah, not so much. I was born a brunette, had a brief foray into blonde as a small child, and then was subjected to the ill-fated Dorothy Hamill haircut around age seven that never lay flat and only got bumpier and curlier as I aged. By seventh grade, I had frizzy, curly hair that I hated, and which made me cry on an almost daily basis because I could never get it to lay flat. I didn't know then that there would be products one day that could help with the frizz and the curls and the unruliness, and so I spent my days loathing my hair, and, in turn, myself.

In junior high school my sister's boyfriend (ironically, now her husband after a very long "life gets in the way" hiatus) sported a head full of curls. He told me I should make peace with my curly hair, but I would not take his advice for a very, very long time. I also lamented my clothes, because I was not able to shop at 5-7-9, the shop for young girls that only sold clothes in those sizes. 5 and 7 and 9. I was an 11. Bastards. And just like that, I was on the outs because of my size, that while not overweight by anyone's standards, was not miniscule enough to fit into a very slim margin of three sizes.

I spent one whole year of high school wearing a "uniform" - Levi's jeans, a Levi's jeans jackets (denim-on-denim, I know, the horrors!), and whatever t-shirt I had clean. I felt comfortable in this outfit, so I wore it day after day, wondering why no one else seemed to notice how adorable I was. I have exactly ONE school picture that I liked, and that's because my hair had cooperated with the help of a very hot curling iron, was shiny and sleek (at least in the front), and I was wearing my most favorite soft pink polo shirt under my aqua sweatshirt with big white polka-dots. Oh, and my pink fortune cookies earrings, a most-coveted item at the time. Goodness, I was like a confection of sweetness all wrapped up in a smirky smile that I though quite adorable.

Too bad no boys shared my admiration of myself. I had a few boyfriends, but never went to a dance that required a real date. I've never worn a floor-length formal dress, never had a corsage pinned on me. In college, I attracted the attention of a red-headed suitor who brought me roses on Valentine's day which embarrassed me so much I shoved them in my backpack so quickly they crushed. Just like the look on his face when I so blatantly rejected him. What was I thinking?

I mused about the chances of me getting married when I had so few boyfriends and even fewer actual dates. And look at me now, I snagged not one, but TWO husbands. Overachiever!

The point is, it never mattered what I looked like. Well, it DID, but not in the way you think. I spent so much time comparing myself to others, shrinking back so as not to draw attention to myself, feeling inadequate, not pretty enough, not pretty enough, not pretty enough.

I berated myself daily for being too fat, having weird hair, not having bigger eyes, lamenting my crooked teeth. All that time I spent beating myself up, I continued to shrink. No, not "two-sizes smaller" kind of shrinking. Although, how I WISHED. I was shrinking into myself, and away from the rest of the world, hiding and avoiding what were sure to be wonderful experiences and relationships. I was too afraid. Because I wasn't pretty enough.

And then I got married. Someone liked me! Enough to marry me! Boy, was I excited. I could spend hours talking about the reasons why it didn't work out, but I'll spare you the details. The point is, I felt validated, in a way I never had, but ended up feeling less validated and worthy than I'd ever felt. And it wasn't about how pretty I was. Or wasn't.

Who was I, anyway? What did I want? What did I deserve?

For one thing, I realized I was still cute. I was even pretty. And beautiful in ways that no makeup or fashion could enhance. I was who I'd always been - a loving, caring, warm, inviting, genuine, fun person. And the funny thing? I was all the things I didn't have to work at to accomplish. The "me" who was stripped down, makeup-free, wearing yoga pants and a t-shirt, fifty pounds overweight, with a kid on my hip and a few more scattered around me. I practically shot confidence out my pores. I was awesome! Look what I accomplished - college, marriage, kids, being a mommy, working. I was exhausted, but I was fulfilled.

Being ok with who you are, with your God-given beauty, body and brains is the most pretty you'll ever be.

Stop obsessing over how your thighs spread when you sit. They're supposed to do that. People are squishy. Stop worrying about your imperfect skin - there are treatments to make it smoother and all that acne WILL go away someday, till it's just a memory. Stop spending HOURS on your hair - it's gorgeous just hanging down your back, or up in a ponytail. Do you know how many times I get stopped in public for someone telling me how beautiful my hair is and how jealous they are? It's ridiculous! That frizzy, unmanageable hair I cried over is now my crowning glory. Go figure.

Stop squeezing into a smaller size just because you "want" to be that size. One, you look ridiculous when there are perfectly cute clothes in YOUR size. Two, "wanting" to be smaller never made anyone smaller. Should you go on a diet? Hell to the no. But if you care about yourself and how you feel, you will eat healthy foods and get outside and move on a regular basis. Nothing beats fresh food and fresh air for making a person look and feel good.

Stop crying over how you have no money to go to the mall to buy the clothes that all the kids are wearing. Awesome clothes in the same brands can be found a secondhand shops for a lot less. Who cares where you buy your clothes? Plus, thrifting is "in" and you'd be amazed at what you can find for a few dollars. But what makes you feel good, but buy it on sale. Everything goes on sale. Everything.

Stop caking on the makeup. Less is more. Literally. When you put a mask of makeup on your face, you literally put a mask on YOU - your true self. On the weekends, or when you're just hanging around, try not wearing makeup at all. Or just pare down to mascara and lip gloss. You'll be surprised at how fresh and beautiful you look. Makeup is fun, but unless you are on stage every day, keep it simple.

Most importantly, stop trying to attract a mate. You'll be surprised what happens when you stop trying so hard. When you relax and let yourself be you, you radiate confidence and happiness. Nothing is more attractive. A genuine smile beats a smokey eye any day. Also, having a boyfriend/girlfriend isn't the be-all, end-all in life. It won't solve your problems, or make you happier. If, by chance, someone walks into your life who makes you laugh, who supports you even when the chips are down, and who spends less time hiding their own flaws than having fun, then how lucky you are. It's a blessing to have someone by your side till the end of time, but I will paint no illusions for you. Relationships are hard. They end. They hurt. Make sure you have something left of YOU before you are alone.

Also, being alone is a good thing. Cherish your own company. Learn to like yourself. Crack yourself up. Learn to look forward to a whole day of just being with you. You won't BELIEVE how fun that person is. You'll want to be her best friend.

Know that you are good enough. You are pretty enough. You are not defined by adjectives - beautiful, hot, a heart-breaker. Who ever wanted to be a heart breaker? I cringe every time I hear that when someone looks at the sweet face of a baby and says "Oh, that one is going to be a real heart breaker some day!" Really? I hope not. I hope you break no hearts, at least not intentionally. I hope you always take care with others' feelings and treat people with kindness. Being a heart breaker is no feather in your cap.

Most of all, believe. Believe that you WILL be happy, whether it's with a partner, or without. Whether you change anything about your appearance or not. Every day, get up and show up. Keep busy, doing good for yourself and others. Never rest on your laurels. Know that no job is beneath you. Work hard, and play hard. Take care of yourself because no one else is going to do it for you.

You are beautiful. You are enough. You are so much. And the best things about your life are still around the corner. You won't believe how beautiful it is!


Monday, September 16, 2013

Been gone a spell.........

We were in Spokane this weekend for a family wedding. I tried to upload some of the funny videos of the kids (and adults) dancing, but Blogger won't let me, so a pox on Blogger! :(

So, random stuff from the last several days............

I bit the inside of my mouth while we were at the wedding. Or sometime before. I'm not really sure, but it happened that day. And you know how you bite the inside of your cheek accidentally, but then it swells up and you keep biting it even when you're trying to be really careful? Yeah. I was driving this morning and chewing gum and I accidentally bit the same spot and the pain! THE PAIN! I am not kidding when I say the pain paralyzed me. I actually had to concentrate to keep driving. It was like mind-numbing pain. Like, childbirth-is-a-piece-of-cake pain (without meds, let's just make that clear). And it didn't go away fast, like that type of pain usually does. NO SIR! That pain stayed with me during the final few minutes of my drive to work and then I sat in the parking lot, rubbing the spot with an ice cube I fished out of my water. And after a full five minutes of rubbing it with an ice cube, it was STILL bleeding a lot. Then, tonight, I bit it again. Twice. Not as bad as the hell-fire pain of this morning, but still.........I just know I'm going to bite it again and that sucker is NEVER going to heal. ARRRGGGGHHHHHH!!!!!!

But you know what's worse than childbirth mouth pain? When your cat pees in your sink right in front of you. I did not witness this, but Jeff did. He got out of the shower and right there, in front of his eyes, Benjie (one of the new kittens) squatted and peed in the sink! When he came downstairs to tell me about it, we both smelled cat poop and upon investigation, found that one of the cats had pooped in the downstairs bathroom sink!! I probably don't need to tell you how much I freaked out. We just got a new litter box today, so apparently Benjie didn't get the memo. After introducing them both to the litter box again, we can only hope they realize that it was there all along and this doesn't happen again. BUT, I already made an appointment to officially adopt them tomorrow, and now I'm having second thoughts. They have been super cute and sweet and adorable, but one poop in the sink pretty much erases all of that. I think I might have to stall on the official adoption a few more days until I'm sure they actually use the litter box. Up till today, there have been no accidents, so I'm assuming it was just the change in type and location of the litter box, but the LAST thing I need is cats who don't use one. It's hard enough just keeping them off the counter and table (hence the three new water bottles filled with vinegar/water spray to shoo them away). I can clean and disinfect the counters and any other surface they walk on, but I WILL NOT have a cat that isn't box-trained. (File under "what the hell were we thinking when we decided to adopt two kittens?"). It's a darn good thing they're so cute.....

I'm sitting here staring at my pile of "to do" stuff. Included in there is both last week's and this week's Sunday papers that I haven't read yet. I even whittled it down (recycle Sports, Jobs, Autos, all the ads to the places I don't shop, and anything boring), and it's still a ton to read. Why do I even get the paper? Oh yeah, for the coupons. I feel guilty not reading most of it, though, so I keep it and eventually toss it when the next week's paper comes. Except obviously this week I'm deciding to be an over-achiever and keep two week's worth of papers to read - when? During my free time? Surely, you jest. Then, there are piles of other things - stuff to file, bills, notes my husband took on open house night because I couldn't attend (I had my own curriculum night) with things like "air conditioning rocks," and "boring teacher" written in the margins. There's a backscratcher, a couple of blank CDs, coupons, a tripod, and a pair of shorts that no one wants all within reaching distance of me right now. It all goes somewhere else - not on the kitchen table, and yet, here it lies. And this is why I drink. 

Welp, time for another chocolate chip cookie before I hit the hay. Hannah made them. She may be unemployed with no driver's license, but she makes a mean chocolate chip cookie. I wonder how far that will take her? 

So, goodnight, my friends. Dream big. Have hope for tomorrow. And always eat a chocolate chip cookie when they're around because you just never know.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

I just can't............

Today I was really tired. I'm not sure why, but I yawned all the way through work, lunch with a friend, and checking my email when I got home. I felt so drained. I scrolled through Facebook, and saw several video clips and things I normally would have taken the time to watch/read, but it was just TOO MUCH. I decided I really needed a nap, so even though it was 5 p.m. and even though I should probably have started making dinner, and even though.......whatever, I decided to take a nap.

But first, I read this. I love this author/writer/mom blogger - she is SO entertaining and down-to-earth and just so full of love for her little girls, it's refreshing. I can relate to so many of her posts and her writing is laugh-out-loud funny. She totally deserves this amazing honor - her e-book "Ketchup is a Vegetable" hit #3 on the NYT best-seller list for e-books. Plus she's lost a lot of weight and started RUNNING, of all God-forsaken things.

And I realized - these are all things I want to do. I'm not ashamed to admit I felt the pang of jealousy and wondered if I might ever know the joy of getting such an honor for my writing or know what it's like to be fit and healthy? I know "I can do it" because that's what everyone says (including Robin!). And I know it's up to me - no one else can do it for me, no amount of encouragement will fabricate results - only I can make it happen.

And it's SO HARD. I love my writing - truly, it's my passion - the one thing that fuels me. I write for me. If someone else enjoys it, that's a bonus. I've always been a writer, but until this blog, my writing was a necessity - an assignment, a letter, an email. Sure, I've kept journals for my kids, written a few anecdotes. But when I started this blog, I realized I had a wealth of material right in front of me. My family, blended and blessed, and all the challenges we faced, all the joys, all the funny stuff. I wanted to memorialize it. It was like a journal for everyone.

This summer I started getting the stories in my blog organized to see if I had some book material. I have a couple of book ideas sprung from my blog, and I figured I needed to organize my nearly 900 posts into some sort of categories. Plus, I'm sure I've repeated myself over the years. But even with the stretch of summer and freedom that I enjoy from working in the school district and having summers off, there never seemed to be enough time and I didn't finish it. Yet.

Once school started, I found myself in a pattern - work part-time, spend a couple of hours each day running errands or occasionally meeting a friend for lunch, come home, stay busy for several hours with "home stuff" and finding myself too tired to work out, write, or do much of anything. I don't like it. I would like more than anything to stay home and write. My newly-graduated daughter is doing that - and has spent every day since her graduation doing just that. I'm glad she's pursuing her passion, and I don't want to discourage her, but as all writers know, writing does not pay the bills - at least not right away! In her case, she has no bills to pay, but she's an adult now, and will have to enroll in school or get a job - that's just reality. That's my reality.

I want to write like it's my job, and then make it my job. And as Robin said "what if I never started?" I feel as though I've started but I'm stuck. I've started working out, eating right, and then there's a birthday or a holiday or just coffee with my friend where the pastries are all too tempting. Or I get sick. Or injured. Or any number of things that derail me. And I KNOW I can't stop, I have to jump right back in, but it's so much easier (and less stressful) to take it easy on myself. To allow myself the excuses that keep me from moving forward.

I do believe that a lot of people "get lucky." That they know someone, or have a money source, or some other way in which they are advantaged over the rest of us. But I also know there are so many who are just like me. People who love to write. Someone who wants to get in shape, to learn to run, to DO something different and shake things up. And there are those who have so much drive - they won't stop until they meet their goals, and then they create newer, bigger goals and just keep going.

Goals scare me. I feel like they are failures on a list. I feel terrible when I've set a goal and I don't achieve it. I stopped making New Year's resolutions years ago, because it seemed they only lasted a day or two. Where people get that drive and determination confounds me. Of course we all slip up. It's being able to jump back in with even more resolve than before that eludes me.

I tell myself I am my most productive in the mornings. Maybe it's true, but that means I spend my most productive times at my job. I'm also rather inspired at night and a lot of my writing happens late. But I have the pressure of needing to get to bed because I have to wake up to an early alarm, so I cut myself short. I'm tired almost all the time. I know regular exercise and a good diet would help that. But I come home too tired to work out, and my meal times are all wonky because of my work schedule. I try to tweak things and get exercise wherever I can, but it's never going to be enough to see real change. Just like writing a blog post every few days is never going to write my book.

I applaud Robin, and others like her, who have done this and more. Even with their children (younger than mine!), their laundry, their errands, carpools, soccer practices, and all the never-ending details of daily life. Not surprisingly, this is where their material comes from. Their daily life, the funny things their kids say and do - these are what fill the pages of their books. If I never write anything but the blog book of our lives only for my children's eyes, I will be happy and feel accomplished. I don't need a ton of praise or kudos. Those are the icing on the cake. But what I do need is to fulfill a really big goal. To know I can do it. To "kick life's ass." Just like Robin. You go, girl! And with any luck (and hard work), I'll be right behind you, either with a keyboard or my running shoes. I just can't stop. I can't get stuck. Gotta keep moving.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

My space..........

The title made me laugh. My space. Not My Space. Remember that? Who even uses My Space anymore?

No, this "my space" is a place I've been missing.

Long, long ago, I had my own "office." I use that term loosely, although I did run the household from that room. But I also crafted, assembled party bags, wrapped gifts, scrapbooked, checked email, and did some writing in there. The room became a catch-all of sorts - just off the kitchen, it was a handy space to stash whatever littered the kitchen table.

Then the bonus child needed a room and so it was cleaned out and cleared out, painted bubble-gum pink and splashed with Hello Kitty. It was a little girl's dream room for a short time until the little girl convinced her oldest sister to switch with her.

Then it was a teenager's room, complete with cups littering the windowsill, laundry obliterating the floor, and the pink walls covered with magazine cut outs. It housed a young adult for hours while she existed in an online universe, dusted with makeup and dreams. It sat like a shrine for a year while she went to college, only to welcome her back for another year; this time, a fledgling adult who came and went and squeezed past boxes holding dorm-room necessities.

Then, it was empty again. Except for the keepsakes of childhood, the room no longer housed a person: child, teen, young adult, adult.

Now it's mine again. It's empty, it's walls washed with primer, waiting for a coat of new paint. I dream of a "home office" but so much more. A writer's retreat, with a desk facing the huge window looking out onto the greenbelt. A room to practice my long-ignored yoga practice. A place to rest and to house guests from time to time. A place of peace and inspiration and creativity.

My room. My space. Full circle.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Kittens no know bounds.........

Tonight, despite our plan to introduce the kittens to the household gradually, Jeff just opened the door to the office and let them run free. They loved their freedom and got into some pretty odd places including:

- the dishwasher
- the pots and pans cupboard
- the art supplies cupboard
- between books on the bookshelf
- into a folder (not kidding, one of the kittens jumped off a table and INTO a folder that was in a box)
- under the entertainment center
- in the bathtub
- in the sink
- across my plate of dinner
- on top of a tray of leftover salmon, which tumbled to the floor upside down (Georgie appreciated the leftovers!)
- on top of a pile of dirty dishes in the sink

They've also found interesting places to rest such as:

- the entry table
- the kitchen table
- on top of my antique desk (after they knocked all the knick-knacks off the top)
- in a basket on top of a table (which immediately fell over backward with the kitten in it!)

There has been a lot of crashing, tumbling, clattering and general disarray. We've also discovered the kittens are very musical, as they've "played" the piano several times. AND, they can type on the computer with their paws. Very talented!

Kittens are so much fun!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Distracted driving..........

Saturday was a big day in our house. BOTH Arlie and Hannah were scheduled to take their driver's tests. Besides the insult of the early-morning hour, the girls were excited and nervous (but maybe not as nervous as the parents were). We headed to the school where the tests would take place and waited for the instructor. I MIGHT have said a little prayer, something like "oh please, oh please, oh please let them pass!"

Hannah is 18 and it's high time she got her license. Plus, I really need her to drive because some days I just cannot be in two places at once. I know, right? My super powers are limited. Arlie is only 15 so she's still got some time but she had already taken two "final" drives and passed them, so she was anxious to get it over with, already.

Both girls took their tests.............and both girls failed. By two and three points. The instructor was definitely a stickler, the girls made some mistakes, and in the end one was curled up sobbing in the backseat of the car, and one was all "oh well!" I'll let you guess who was who. Ha.

And inside, I know both Jeff and I were feeling all the crummy, horrible feelings you get when you don't pass your driver's test. Well, he was. I passed mine on the first try. But I get it! I do! You work yourself up, study hard, practice - and then instead of the glee of waving your score sheet and screaming "I did it!" you get to do the walk of shame back to the car, only to have to go through it all again. It sucks. It sucks like junior high sucks. Or getting a zit on picture day. Or dropping a tampon out of your pocket in front of your friends. THAT kind of sucky.

So, after a pep talk and promises of doing it again soon, we took the girls to Starbucks to cheer them up. Pretty soon we were talking, and even laughing a little. But the cheer factor was not high enough, so we headed over to the pet store to cuddle some kittens.

Fast forward to tonight. There are two adorable black kittens in my house right now. DO NOT PANIC! They are here on a trial basis, to see if they get along with the other cat. We might not even keep them. We might not even like them! I mean, who cares if they are shiny and have orange eyes and look just like Halloween cats? Who cares if they are playful and sweet and give kisses? Who cares if they tumble head over heels and attack each other out of hidden corners? They are ON TRIAL and don't you forget it.

Now, I know this sounds like we rewarded the girls for failing their driver's tests with shiny, new kittens. But, in our defense, we WERE thinking about getting another kitty to keep Matilda company and help her be a little more social. We DID discuss it as an option and we didn't just bring those kitties home that same day. Goodness, no, we had to wait a whole day and fill out some paperwork. We had to agree on a two-week trial period of assimilation into our home. We're not THOSE people.

Except now I have two kitties in my house and my kids still don't have driver's licenses. So maybe we ARE those people?

Eh, I hear meowing. Benjie and Beau are calling!

Date Night

Did I forget to blog AGAIN? Well, shittles.......I guess this proves that I should never sign up for anything "daily" - except maybe eating. Exercising daily? Not a chance. Daily chores? Ha! Blogging daily? Not so much. Let's just say I'll blog as much as possible. Or just whenever I want to. There, that's better.

Yesterday was "Date Night" with my husband. He's got just enough engineering nerd in him to create very detailed spreadsheets and calendar reminders such that a regular "date night" pops up on his calendar from time to time. It also appears on his spreadsheet of "things to do" which is a quadrant of "today," "this week," "this weekend," and "long term." Or something like that. You get the picture.

So, usually date night ends up being NOT a date night. As in, "Oh, Saturday was date night!" as we realize that we spent Saturday night trolling through Facebook (me) and walking on the treadmill while practicing elk mating calls (Jeff - don't even ask!). So, it's not like we always have a grand plan for date night. And it's not like it HAS to be a grand plan, but it would be nice if it just WAS. So, we try.

Because he's Jeff, my husband always has a segue. As in, since we're driving up North anyway, might as well stop at Cabela's to pick up some ammo and leave $600 later with kayak racks installed on the van. Or, this was my most recent personal favorite, "How would you like to spend a week in a mountain retreat in Colorado?" to which I replied "What will you be hunting?" I'm no dummy. He tries to entice me with visions of spa treatments in the Rockies, but I know where he's headed.

So, I'm usually all to keen to make him take me to a nice restaurant, a movie, or a picnic and music in the park. You know, girly things that have nothing to do with elk calls or shotguns. BUT, I often defer to Jeff's idea of "date night" and last night was no exception. He wanted to go fishing on the Snohomish river to catch pink salmon. Since it involved kayaking, and since he'd brought home a limit the night before, I decided it might be fun.

I really do enjoy kayaking, which is in complete contrast to my absolute fear of open water. But kayaking AND fishing is a whole 'nother story. Because, what if I fall in? Disaster. But I overcame my fear, only to have it replaced by my fear of mortification having people watch me either get into or out of the kayak. Let's just say it ain't pretty. I am terribly uncoordinated and stepping into a narrow piece of floating plastic while attempting to NOT tip it over is not my forte. I require assistance. Like an old lady crossing the street. Only not as cute.

Anyway, kayaking was a blast (never mind the detritus floating around me in the river and my vivid imagination going wild wondering how many bodies had been pulled from that river), I caught my limit (but lost my last one after a brief fight), and I had a fabulous time. The weather was perfect, the sunset glorious, the lazy cows with their sad eyes drinking at the river's edge, the hot air balloons floating overhead, the sky filled with was all beautiful. And kayaking back to the river bank with my true love paddling by my side, in the pitch black, because we stayed on the water way too was lovely.

Until we realized the riverbank was gone. Apparently the Snohomish has "tides" and the river rises and falls (what the hell?) and so the narrow, rocky bank from which we launched was now under water. We paddled up to a murky, muddy bank where Jeff leapt from his kayak onto land. Clearly, I was not going to perform this circus act, so I paddled to where the bank had once been and attempted to beach my kayak. But, oddly enough, no beach = no beaching your kayak. Lucky for me, a young boy was holding on to a rowboat while his dad brought the trailer around for loading. I asked if I could hang on to his boat while I gingerly dangled my shoeless foot into the dark, deep, murky water. Ugh. Just writing that brought back my anxiety. Horrible things lurk underwater. HORRIBLE. I stepped onto a slimy rock, grabbed the row boat, grabbed Jeff's hand and made a leap of faith. I landed squarely in the mud, albeit it still standing and slid my mud-caked bare feet into my flip flops.

My feet were filthy, the fish were SO slimy, we were stinky with river water and we ended up eating at McDonald's on the way home. It wasn't glamorous, but it was the most fun I've had on "date night" in a long, long time. I can't wait till the next one!

Friday, September 6, 2013

My favorite bloggers

I love bloggers. There are SO MANY bloggers out there, and I follow a few. I would follow a ton of them, but I'm afraid I'd end up with a blog list so long it would be impossible to read them all. So, right now, these are the bloggers I have on my reading list and I thought I'd share them with you. This is written by Jenny Lawson who is hilariously quirky. One of my favorite posts (and the one that led me to follow her is this. You should read it. It's funny. You can link to her blog here.

Confessions of a Pioneer Woman: This blog is written by Ree Drummond, who has become pretty famous for her blog and also her show on Food Network, which I have never seen because I hardly ever watch TV. But her blogs are great - and she writes on several topics, like life on the ranch in Oklahoma, cooking, photography, etc. She's witty and the pictures alone are worth a look. Check it out here.

People I Want To Punch In The Throat: Jen, the one-name author of this blog, writes with acerbic wit and sarcasm about everyday topics and what's in the news. She also wrote a book, "Spending The Holidays with People I Want To Punch In The Throat" which is a great holiday read, and a far cry from those other sappy holiday-themed books. Her kids' blog names are Gomer and Adolpha. Cracks me up. Get your daily dose of profanity and pissed-off-ness here.

Robin's Chicks: Robin O'Bryant, the author of this blog, is a Southern mama who writes about life with three little girls. But it's so much more. She's also the author of two of the funniest books, "Ketchup is a Vegetable" and "A Second Helping" which will leave you laughing all the way through. I discovered her when I saw "Ketchup" on Pixel of Ink for free and decided to check it out. I'm so glad I did. Robin is great and sweet and should be my best friend. Read her blog here and check out her books on Amazon.

MotherhoodWTF? This blog, written by Allison Hart, somehow made it to my blog reader list through another blog. Allison is funny and provides honest perspective about parenting young children. Although my own are nearly grown, I can relate and find a lot of her posts funny or thought-provoking. Check her out here.

Because I Said So. This blog, by Dawn Meehan, has evolved over the years as Dawn, a single mom of six kids, has moved from Chicago to Florida and started working as an educational assistant at a school. Her book of the same name was recently revised and reprinted after her divorce. While the blog can sometimes be somber, as she deals with the very real challenges of being a single mom, Dawn is also funny and reading about her six kids makes you feel like you're in her living room watching the action go down. She's just very "real" and most moms can relate to her honesty and openness. See her in action here.

That's the short list. I also read several personal blogs. I love finding new bloggers to read and am fascinated to read their stories and how they became "famous" bloggers. Often, the most mundane happening in life was turned into a blog post that took off. But best of all is that these are real women, living normal lives. I can relate to them. They make me laugh. I'd totally go have a drink with them.

Happy reading!

What was I thinking?

Ok, day 6 and I've forgotten to blog twice. What was I thinking anyway? I can't find the time to exercise every day, or clean my house, or get all my errands done - so why would I have time to blog?

Last night, I actually had no plans so I, of course, had an agenda of doing laundry, cleaning my room, making dinner, writing a blog post.....etc. But then, in the middle of scrolling through Facebook, my friend Tonya called me.

Tonya: Hey, what are you doing right now?
Me: Not much.
Tonya: Ok, so I have to go kayaking this weekend and I apparently have to buy some non-cotton shorts or capris or something that will dry quickly. I have nothing like that so I'm going to the mall and wanted to see if you would go with me to give me an honest opinion when I squeeze my ass into exercise clothes.

We made a beeline for JCPenney, upstairs to their "fat lady" section. They like to call it "Women's" but they're not fooling anyone. They had a surprisingly good collection of exercise wear, with all manner of yoga capris, wicking fabrics, and t-shirts long enough to cover the hideousness that is a "front butt" in yoga pants. I was just along for the ride and to offer an opinion, but of course I got sidetracked by the $6.99 clearance rack, and, in the end, bought four new shirts and some yoga capris. Tonya did get an appropriate kayaking outfit - black yoga capris and a cute, blue t-shirt (and a few other shirts - hey, they were $6.99!).  While she was trying things on, her daughter called. Tonya informed her that she found "something that doesn't make me want to cry!"

In between, we tried on all sorts of clothes, including a dress that made me look like a stuffed sausage and a sports bra that damn near asphyxiated Tonya when she tried to get it on. She also tried on several yoga capris, and found that going one size larger just gave her an "outside labia." And this is why I love her. Who even THINKS up these things? Tonya does.

After the demoralizing experience that is trying on fat lady clothes, we headed to the bar. Because there's nothing a few beers and some artichoke dip can't solve. Nothing!

Diet starts tomorrow................

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

September 3rd

Wow, I accepted a challenge to blog every day and I already blew it on the second day! Whoops. Since I forgot to blog yesterday, here's a synopsis:

I took Harrison shopping for school supplies. Luckily we didn't need much, since we've accumulated a lifetime's supply of pencils, red pens and graph paper. But then we ventured to the clothing. Shopping with a boy is so.....different than shopping with a girl. Basically, I hold stuff up, he says yes or no and we toss it in the basket. Not much thought put into it. Easy peasy. When we got home, I was really tired and entertained thoughts of taking a nap, but that never happened. What DID happen was that I washed a bunch of dishes, made dinner, made lunches, cleaned up the kitchen, watched a bunch of Criminal Minds and finally forced myself to try to sleep around 11 p.m. Because I knew that alarm was going off early in the morning and summer was O.V.E.R. 

Jeff's alarm went off at 5:30 a.m. I lay in bed until mine went off at 6:00. I haven't been up that early since last spring. I love working at a school and having summer off. It's REALLY hard to go back to school after a long, lazy summer off. I feel for the kids. Arlie was up and getting ready and I had to scramble to get "the sign" ready for the requisite first day of school pictures. We've used the same old sign - black letters on a yellow posterboard - since about 2007. I just add the year on a piece of matching yellow paper each year. I remember worrying that I'd run out of that particular yellow paper before my kids finished school. Today I realized I have PLENTY of it left, since we only have four more years before ALL MY BABIES ARE GRADUATED....WAAAHHHH.

Sorry. Momentary insanity. Anyway, I took pictures of Arlie and then she DROVE OFF TO SCHOOL! BY HERSELF! Ok, her dad was in the car. And she only has a learner's permit. But STILL! She DRIVES! WAAAHHHHH.

Sorry again. I then drove Harrison to school, along with his friend, Isak. Such a nice kid, that Isak. The boys were going to school today to be "web leaders" and help the incoming 7th graders adjust to the new school. Ain't that sweet?

I found myself an hour and a half early for work at that point. So, Starbucks. Duh. Also, I was smart this time and requested my chocolate croissant NOT be heated. The last two times, I've had a chocolate disaster. Still, I dripped my mocha which, thankfully, landed on my seat belt instead of my white shirt. Note to self: pack an extra shirt in the car for just such disasters.

I had enough time to go to Target this morning! Omg! Target before work? Unheard of. The reason I went to Target was to find steel wool. More on that later. And P.S. they didn't have any.

I had a FABULOUS day at my new job. I mean, it's my old job, but a new position. I'm working with the most amazing teacher in a kindergarten class, which is my most favorite age. The kids were cute, sweet, funny and happy, which is about as good as it gets for the first day of kindergarten. The parents were like the paparazzi - I saw more cameras at elementary school than at the VMA's. But I forgive them for being so obsessed with their offspring. I remember being a kindergarten mama. It's like throwing your baby to the wolves! You spend the first five years protecting them and teaching them stranger danger and then you drop them off for half the day with a stranger! There were some tears. Not from the kids. And the teacher had to shoo the parents away from the windows.

After work, I ran an errand but before I got into the store (because I was talking to my firstborn on FB and sat in the car forever), I got a call from Arlie saying she didn't know which bus to ride. Since I was pretty close to the school, I offered to pick her up. THEN we ran my errands - one stop at Big 5 where I didn't find what I wanted but found Arlie $100 worth of yoga pants, booty shorts for gymnastics, yoga capris and a hoodie. Yikes. Then, we went to Freddy's where I DID find steel wool. Victory!

You're probably wondering what the steel wool was for. Today is our 7th anniversary, and also our "Familyversary" which is the day Jeff and I married, blended our families, and became the family we are today. We like to celebrate this day with the kids by going out to dinner, which we did. But before that, Jeff and I exchanged gifts.

Here's the thing: Jeff researches each year's traditional gifts and always gets me the most creative gifts based on the traditional color, flower, item, etc. He is AWESOME at it and I SUCK at it. I am the worst when it comes to gift-giving. I just never come up with clever ideas. I like to shop from a list of requested items. Every once in a while, I hit the jackpot, but those times are few and far between. So, Jeff always wins when it comes to gifts. This year, I figured if he was going with the traditional items (wool and copper) then so was I.

But, seriously, what do you get a GUY? Especially my husband, who pretty much buys himself all the weirdly obscure hunting and fishing items he wants. I wouldn't have the first idea. So, here's what I came up with: wool socks, wool gloves, a jumbo package of Duracell AA batteries (COPPER TOP - get it?), copper pot scrubbers, and STEEL WOOL! Get it? All items I knew he would use. For sentimental reasons, I did throw in one handmade item - a wire-sculpture fish I made with copper wire and beads. It turned out pretty cool - like something you'd see at a craft fair or farmer's market. I even put a hanger on it so he could put it in his truck if he wanted.

Here's what he gave me: wool socks, wool gloves (can you tell we both shopped at Fred Meyer and the socks were buy one, get one half off? And the gloves were on clearance?), copper wind chimes, a copper wind ornament, a copper wrist cuff bracelet, and a bundle of cool copper bracelets. See? He's awesome. And so clever. We also took the kids out to Olive Garden for dinner and stopped by Dairy Queen after for mini blizzards. Good times with my sweet family!

Tomorrow Harrison starts his first day of 9th grade and everyone will be back in full swing for another school/work year. I'm loving my new position and part-time hours. I'm hoping the kids will love their freshman and sophomore years.

But I will NEVER love making lunches. The end.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Off the grid........

I'm supposed to write a blog post each day in September because I signed up for NaBloPoMo or "National Blog Posting Month" which, according to BlogHer, is being held this September. Which, if you haven't yet noticed is RIGHT NOW!

Yes, it is September 1, 2013 and tomorrow is Labor day and the day after that we all go back to school. Cue crying.

BUT, we did go camping this weekend. And it was fun - even though the plumbing broke in the camper so we didn't have water, and we forgot things like hot cocoa and butter. But we did get to hang out in the sun and kayak and play games and just hang out in our little camper with no name. Our camper needs a name.

Anyway, while camping, my phone didn't have service. I didn't take my computer on purpose - I didn't figure I'd have time to post pictures and I didn't really care if I checked my Facebook - after all, we were only gone two days! But out of habit, I kept checking my phone, and not surprisingly, each and every time I didn't have service. Duh. However, the kids did have service and spent an inordinate amount of time texting. I wonder what would happen if we REALLY went off the grid. For, like, TWO WHOLE DAYS?? Omg. We might have and stuff.

But seriously........unlimited access to the internet and other people is not always a good thing. Tonight on Facebook, one mom posted about her concerns for her son using his smart phone at night and implementing some rules now that school is starting.

I gave her some of our "tips" which included a rule instituted last year that everyone had to "turn in their technology" at 10 p.m. which meant putting phones, computers, iPads, iPods, etc. in the family room on the chargers each night. No more taking the phone to bed, no more excuses that they needed it for their alarm or to listen to music to fall asleep. I made them purchase (if they didn't already have them) their own alarm clocks. And it seemed to work pretty well. Everyone got more sleep and pretty soon they were actually tired before 10 p.m. and would voluntarily turn in their technology and head up to bed. There were some protests at first, but everyone got used to it.

However. If a kid really wants access to the internet, they're going to get it. I didn't monitor them after I went to bed, so who knows if they snuck downstairs to retrieve their phones? Certainly there were consequences for violating the rules - up to and including losing their precious phone, iPad, iPod or whatever. And even if they did slumber through the night without the benefit of a glowing screen, what about the other 16 plus hours a day they DID have access to it?

Of course they couldn't text at school. But they still did sometimes. And after school, the phones were turned back on, and once home, the internet was streaming into our home non-stop until 10 p.m. Sometimes I had to ask them to put the phone on the counter and finish their homework so they would not be distracted by a buzzing text every thirty seconds. You could tell the nature of the text by the way they responded - rapid-fire texting was a sign of an argument with a friend.

And forget about snooping in their phones after they were asleep - they are smart enough to make them password-protected. Sure, if I really wanted or needed access to their phones, I could demand them without warning or insist on knowing their passwords. But I gave them their privacy, trusting them to make good choices and use the internet and texting wisely.

Has it worked flawlessly? Not a chance. We've had serious technology issues. Addiction to social networking sites, online relationships that were kept a secret, cyberbullying, oversharing, accidentally sending the wrong text (I received "my mom is such a bitch" one day from my lovely daughter. I thanked her for sending me a text and she said "what text?" When I showed her, she looked like a deer in the headlights. I let that one go, because.....teenagers). We've spent hours educating our kids in the appropriate use of social networking, texting, email........but they've still made mistakes.

It's definitely not fail-proof or foolproof. From a parent's perspective, you do the best you can, warn your kids about the dangers, and hope they make good choices. But they won't. From a kid's perspective, you relish the freedom of the world at your hands and wonder why your parents don't think it's funny when you make them watch every single Vine you watch. They just don't get it.

I don't want to be the mom who governs her kids' technology with an iron hand. But I worry for their safety. They say "mom, I KNOW" but they don't know. They don't know that we all do stupid things and that one mistake can cost us dearly. Or how easy it is to think the relationships you foster over a keyboard are the same as the ones you nurture face-to-face. Or that you can be anyone you want to be from the other side of the screen. Technology is great, but it has its drawbacks.

And there's no escaping it. Although I didn't have service at the campground, my kids, with their 3G service, did. In fact, at most campgrounds, you can reserve a hook-up spot with WiFi. Soon, there won't BE a place with "bad service" and we'll be connected all the time. But not in a good way. Sometimes you just need to look up and out and across the lake and forget about what everyone else is doing. When I got home, I scrolled through my Facebook feed but realized it would take me forever to catch up over the last two days. And for what? To see what everyone had for dinner or what they did at the Fair? It was nice to be off the grid for a change. If only I could get my kids to do the same.