Tuesday, May 5, 2015

What I really want for Mother's day..........

I've seen all sorts of posts about the best things to get your mom for mother's day recently. A lot of them appear to be written by moms of young children because they go along the lines of "no, I don't want to take the family to the beach because it's too much work for me" and while I totally appreciate that, I took my family to the beach last Mother's day and it was awesome.

I'm not one for the fancy brunch with mimosas. I'd much rather be served Starbucks in bed (forget about eggs and bacon, bring me sour cream walnut coffee cake from Tully's). I don't really want to go out to an expensive dinner, either. Feast night works great for me - nothing like grazing over an assortment of treats!

I could care less about gadgets and appliances. I already have some awesome purses. I pretty much buy whatever clothes and shoes I want throughout the year, and I have a closet full. But I love gifts from the heart - a sketch, a painting, a scrapbook, a song, a poem. I know moms are supposed to say that, but I actually DO love handmade gifts, or a gift of talent and time.

But a mom can dream, right? So, here's a list of things that I (and probably any mom) would LOVE for Mother's day:
1. For someone to do the dishes just because they are piled high in the sink. And by "do" them, I mean take initiative and load and unload the dishwasher without being asked and/or without rolling eyes or groaning when being asked.
2. For someone to vacuum at least a couple of times a week instead of twice a month, and not only when the dog hair tumbleweeds are the size of grapefruit.
3. For someone to do the grocery shopping. Forever.
4. For someone besides myself and my husband to cook a meal. If, for any other reason, to prove to us that our kids can and will survive outside the household and be able to make a meal with more than one course.
5. For someone to bring me Starbucks every day. My ass will protest, but yum!
6. For someone to take out the garbage before it's tumbling over.
7. For fresh chocolate chip cookies every day, pizza once a week, and for them to not have any calories.
8. For someone to bring me fresh Gerber daisies weekly.
9. For someone to cook dinner. Forever.
10. For a fancy vacation once a year and several less-fancy vacations the rest of the year.

And while some of those things are do-able, and some are just plain crazy, I have to say I'm pretty darn happy with things just the way they are.

I love my home - it's messy and chaotic but it's full of things we love and people I treasure. I love it when all four kids are home and everyone is just doing their thing, but we're all in the same room and it's just average and normal. Because, to me, it's everything.

I love it when my kids are hanging out and we're all crafting, or creating, or the kids are having a jam session and I hear music and voices and laughter. That's the best sound.

I love how ridiculous my family is at times. The silly videos, pictures, funny things said,  forever recorded on social media. Not necessarily for others' entertainment but so we can look back and laugh at ourselves in the future.

I love road trips with my kids. The car is always trashed. We never get anywhere on time. But we have tons of time to talk and watch the world go by. Or not talk and watch the world go by. Either way, it's ok.

So, when it comes to what I "want" for Mother's day, the answer is usually the same. A day spent with my kids, usually at a beach, hanging out, eating snacks and relaxing. No agenda. No big plans. No spa day with fluffy towels and "me time". Sure, that's fun, but maybe another day.

On Mother's day I want to celebrate with the ones who made me a mother. The first born, who fulfilled my lifelong dream of being a mom. The second born, who showed me it was possible to love another child, not "as much" but wholly and completely, just like the first time. The third born, who showed me how to relax and enjoy this fleeting thing called mothering, because he was my last baby. Then, the bonus daughter who showed me mother love wasn't limited by biology and completed our family.

How lucky am I?
I love these dorks! 

Happy Mother's Day! 

Monday, May 4, 2015

A day in the life of a curly girl.............

So, I've been hearing a lot about "plopping." No, that's not something you do in a toilet bowl, although the name implies as much. Plopping is the horribly-named practice of using a t-shirt and, I guess unicorn dust or something, to get your hair perfectly curly. Plopping promises a head full of bouncy curls and all you have to do is twist your hair up in a fancy Korean-sweat-towel-type contraption made from a t-shirt and let it dry. You can learn more about plopping here.

Some say you should "plop" for just 20 minutes, until your hair is completely dry. Haha, I say! My hair, when put into a ponytail wet, will still be wet twelve hours later. So, I figured I would have to go with the plopping technique of overnight curls. But first, I had to master the head wrap. I stole a t-shirt out of my husband's drawer, lay it on my bed, flipped my head over, as instructed, and attempted to wrap it by "pulling the back taut against the head and rolling the sides away from your face, then tucking into the sides"....voila! Except.....I could NOT get the shirt to roll correctly, no matter how I tried. It didn't help matters that the diagram showed the model using a towel, not a t-shirt. They called it an Aquis towel, whatever that is. I don't have one of those. Oh, I just looked it up. I DO have one of those - it's a microfiber towel - only mine is conveniently shaped like a Turbie Twist and works fabulously. So, why plop? Because apparently a t-shirt is a magical material that will eliminate frizz and give you a head of bouncy, shiny curls.

I decided I'd just pull the t-shirt over my head - you know how you did when you were little? And it looked like long hair? Yeah. So, I twisted it and tucked it and settled in for a long rest with anticipation of waking with glossy spirals.

This is what actually happened: 

Which looks remarkably like this: 

Sexy, no? 

Here's what it looks like from the back! Oh, and, that no-frizz promise? LIES! 

So, I did what I always do when I wake up after going to bed with my hair wet. I dunked my head in the shower, soaked my hair, and started all over. 

Then, I added some product. And by "some" I mean a handful. 

This is the product I slathered on my hair. I've used just about every hair product out there, and this is one that stands alone. I don't need to add hair gel with this one, like I do so many other products. Plus, it's as thick body butter - perfect for me. Other products are too wimpy! By the way, this product indicates that it is a "leave-in conditioner" but, for the record, ALL my conditioners are leave-in. Body lotion is a leave-in conditioner for my head! There is simply no product strong enough to saturate my hair and eliminate frizz. 

So, I managed to tame my mane into something respectable for work. Also, makeup is a miracle, and I apologize for those earlier pictures when I was au natural, because.....scary! And I used a hair straightener on my bangs, because otherwise they are like demented worms crawling on my forehead. 

Oh! I can't forget this product. It's from The Body Shop and I bought it a hundred years ago and it's still not gone. It says coconut oil, but it's a little different, and just takes the tiniest bit to apply to my bangs to make them look a little "piece-y-er" and not like straightened fluff, which is what happens when I straighten my bangs. I love this stuff and I don't know what I'll do when it's all gone because they probably don't even make it anymore. Wait, I just did a search. THEY DO STILL MAKE IT. The package is less cool but they make it. Whew. 

Now it's around 1:30 p.m. and, as you can see, my hair is "growing". It does this throughout the day when I wear it down. This is why I usually wear my hair up. It's not because I love an updo. It's all about containment and taming the beast. 

And......it's 7 p.m. and this is how big my hair grew today. Some days it's even bigger! If I touch it throughout the day, it grows even more. DO NOT touch your curly hair. It must be left alone. Today I had some sort of weird fluffing going on at the top of my head. Also, look how tired I am! Someone should get me a margarita. 

The only solution to all this big hair is to tame it. My hair is a lion's mane, and this is my whip. This is no ordinary hair tie, either. It's a Goody Slide Proof elastic and it's MAGIC! There are similar products on the market, but only this one will do for my hair. They are not cheap, either! And my kids steal them. So, if you love me, buy me these hair ties. Also, why do they call them hair ties now? We called them rubber bands when I was a young 'un. Btw, I just checked and they have these on Amazon. So, go buy them for me now. Mother's Day is coming. I don't care if you're not my mother. 

The problem is, once my hair has grown this big, my pony tail is more of a pouf. Or, as one of my students described me - the lady with the pretty pom-pom hair. Rah, rah. 

So, there you have it. A day in the life of a curly girl. Let's summarize: 

1. Plopping is for the toilet. 
2. T-shirts are not for hair. 
3. If you sleep on wet hair, you will wake up looking like a Rastafarian sheep. 
4. The only way to pay penance for the sin of sleeping on wet hair is to baptize your hair in the shower. 
5. No amount of product will tame your frizz, but shea butter leave-in conditioner comes close. But it must be the Cantu brand. And don't even THINK of trying their hair custard because it looks like shiny Jell-o and it makes your hair dry into a plastic mold. 
6. A little coconut oil on frizzy bangs works well, and a LOT of coconut oil makes your hair really shiny and like an oil slick. I do not recommend. 
7. Bangs are the devil, but also necessary to cover large foreheads like mine. I resemble a monkey without bangs. However, with curly hair, you either have to keep your bangs short and straighten them every day, OR you have to grow them long and make them side-swept, thereby covering a hint of forehead. The in-between stage is horrible and the curly bangs often resemble wayward Ramen noodles, so it's probably best to just keep them short. 
8. However, if you have straight bangs and curly hair, it will confuse people and they will ask you if that's your real hair or if you are "naturally curly". I like to say "Of course it's naturally curly! Do you think I would do this on purpose?"
9. Curly hair grows. Curly hair often looks perfect when it's wet. And it looks completely different when it's dry. 
10. A good hair tie is a girl's best friend. But even the best hair ties break, so always keep a spare handy. Unless you're like me and you're down to, like, one good hair tie and it's never around when you need it. Buy them in bulk. 
11. Always keep your curly hair long enough to pull back into a pony tail - or whatever you call it - a pom-pom, a pouf, a curl bun. Curly hair is like sheep's wool - it's hot and you'll want to be able to pull it off your neck and face. Also, short curly hair has the dangerous potential of turning into a poufy helmet and no one wants that. 
12. On your biggest, frizziest hair day, at least one person, guaranteed, will gush over your fabulous hair and tell you how jealous they are of it and remind you that people pay good money to get hair like that. And you will look at them and question their sobriety, but when you go home, you'll pouf it even bigger and take selfies and post them to Instagram, hashtag "curly girl". 

Have mercy. 

P.S. No one paid me to promote the above products. But they should! 

Sunday, April 19, 2015

My wonderful spring break!

So, another spring break has come and gone, and I forgot to take a trip to Hawaii. Damn it, that makes 47 years in a row now. While many of my neighbors and friends jetted off to sunny vacations with their kids in tow, I, as usual, had no plans for spring break and no idea how I was going to spend it. I decided to just let it all unfold. And it not only unfolded, it unfurled into a week full of quality time with my kids, great time spent with my closest friends, and a lot of sunshine!

My spring break actually started the Thursday of last week. That was my last day of work and I had to scoot out to a (boring) meeting so I barely had time to say "See ya, suckers!" "Good bye!" to my co-workers. That night, I attended the high school talent show where my son performed with the Jazz Choir (and they were AMAZING).

Harrison and the BHS Jazz Choir

Friday, I did errands and cleaned and blah, blah. That was my most boring day. I carefully avoided cleaning as much as possible the rest of the week.

Saturday, we decided in the late afternoon to make the trek up to see the Tulips in Skagit Valley. Did I say "we"? I meant me. Jeff would have been perfectly happy puttering around in the garage all day, but I whined a little and so we went. It was a glorious day, albeit a bit cold and windy, and we enjoyed all the color of Roozengaarde, the show garden, and the colorful fields around it. We took a dinner break in La Connor, which Jeff had never seen before, and walked around the town. We returned to the tulip fields in time for the sunset. I took hundreds of photos. I was happy.

I love tulips! 

Sunday, we puttered, cleaned, erranded (that's a word now), and in the evening we enjoyed an awesome show - Harrison's band, Bushwhack, in concert at Sound Check Bar and Grill. They ROCKED IT and were asked to come back again.

My rock star son! 

Monday, I spent the whole day with my best friends, Janet and Tonya. We started out having coffee at Tully's, and we sat there for four hours when we decided we were hungry again and moved to Zeke's pizza for lunch where we sat another two hours. It was wonderful to just hang out, talk for hours, and EAT! The rain poured down and the conversation flowed. I love these two ladies - they have been a constant in my life for 21 years and time spent with them is always so much fun! 


Oh, I should also mention that on Monday, I let my son go camping with NO ADULTS for the first time ever. He was an hour and a half away with no cell phone. It's amazing how parenting changes with each child. I would NEVER have let my older girls go camping with no adult supervision at age 16, I was quite conflicted making the decision, but after consulting his dad, stepdad, and older sister, who all said "Why not?" I decided "Why not, indeed?" and let him go. I'm pretty sure the worst thing that happened was they nailed a 6-inch dildo to a tree, but I'll never know for sure. And I'm ok with that. 

Tuesday, I met Hannah and her nanny kids, along with my friend Sarah and her two sweet girls at an indoor play place. The kids ran around in endless circles while we attempted to make conversation in-between the mommy and the nanny juggling supervision, snacks and squabbles. I definitely had some nostalgia about the glory days of young motherhood, but it was also nice to be able to get into my own car to drive to lunch when Hannah's nanny child threw a fit and screamed "She cannot come to lunch with us!" at me. Lunch happened anyway, because she's not the boss of me, and it was quite sweet. Later that night, Hannah and I had dinner out, just the two of us, and we accidentally dressed exactly alike. It was a fun "Hannah" day and I got to see her in action as a (very calm) nanny. Bless her. I didn't get a picture of Hannah that day, but here's a cute on of her and Harrison at their "soon to be" stepsister's wedding over spring break.

All dressed up!

Wednesday, was Hayley day. We started out at Starbucks, then shopping at Target and Ross, where I bought her a summer wardrobe that consisted almost entirely of elephant-themed shirts. We had lunch at Panera and bought tiny plants at Molbak's. I didn't get any pictures of that day - shocking, huh? But here's a picture of Hayley anyway. And her girlfriend, Megan, because I seriously cannot find a picture of Hayley without her. :) 

Megan and Hayley

On Wednesday night, I went to one of those wine and painting places with Tonya. Except we don't drink wine! So, hard cider and beer it was, and we painted a picture of peacock feathers. Except mine looked more like sperm. And I kind of went overboard with my wavy lines. But it was hilarious and we topped it off with Mexican food and margaritas (ok, beer for Tonya!). Here we are pretending to be artists. 

Thursday was Arlie day. After much deliberation, we decided to go to the zoo. We got there kind of late - 2 ish - and the zoo closed at 4 but we decided to stay anyway. Bonus - someone gave us their parking pass so parking was free! We zipped around the zoo pretty fast and saw almost everything we wanted to see (except the elephants - they were whisked away the night before to their new home in Oklahoma City). We spent an inordinate amount of time visiting the jaguar and Arlie insisted she was communicating with him through her eyes. To say she is a little obsessed with cats is an understatement. We took dozens of photos and some video, too. She named him "Kristoff". I think the picture below sums up our day at the zoo. 

Here, kitty, kitty!

We topped off our day be eating at the Burgermaster in the U District then shopping at Value Village. Poppin' tags! 

Friday, Hannah went to Portland on the Bolt Bus and I had to drop her off at the bus station in Seattle. We decided to make it Harrison day, and after we dropped Hannah off, we explored the International District in Seattle for a bit, then headed to Fremont where we toured Theo's Chocolates, had lunch at the Red Door and walked around Gas Works Park. We walked so much that day, I actually got my 10,000 steps in! Plus we brought home delicious chocolate and enjoyed the warm sun and views of Seattle from the park. Hard to pick just one picture of the day, but I'll go with this one because he looks like a super model. 


Saturday was another glorious day so Arlie and I took Georgette to the beach. I realized I'd spent quality one-on-one time with each of my kids this week so why not my dog? Georgie used to love the beach but this time she just seemed overwhelmed and exhausted. She waded in the water, no swimming like usual, and she tried to keep up with the young pups, but she's just too old. Still, she seemed happy to be out and fell asleep in the car as soon as we left! Good old George! 

Georgette, age 13

Today, we started the day with coffee at a hipster coffee joint, then a little shopping in our local downtown.
Too cool for Starbucks

Afterwards, we did chores, puttered, and created some Sharpie art! It was another incredible Seattle spring day. 
Who needs crayons? 

We may not have enjoyed white-sand beaches, tropical cocktails, or a high-priced hotel room, but I'm going to have to say this was a pretty awesome spring break! Back to work/school tomorrow (sad face) but only eight weeks of school left until SUMMER (happy face)!!!!

I'm calling it a success! I love my life. 

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

St. Patrick's day.............

St. Patrick's day in the past:

Everything green! Green milk! Green eggs! Green cupcakes, green frosted shamrock cookies, green decorations all over the house! Coordinated green outfits. Big parties, homebrew, Scotch eggs, corned beef and cabbage, colcannon. Leprechaun traps! Gifts of gold (chocolate) from the leprechauns! 

St. Patrick's day today:

I finally dug into the bin of decorations (yesterday) that had been sitting in the hallway for two weeks. I pulled out four sad-looking metallic green streamer decorations and pinned them up above the table. Had to leave to meet my husband for dinner and that was the extent of my decorating because I never got back to it when we got home last night. Today, I just shoved everything back into the bin and accepted the fact that I totally failed at decorating this year. We had corned beef and cabbage for dinner. I tried to add potatoes but the ones in the bag were sprouted and wrinkly. Nope. The kids ran to McDonald's and got Shamrock shakes for dessert and they were gross. I did wear a green shirt, green jewelry that I made, a trio of cheap metal green bracelets and attached a glittery shamrock pin to my hair. 

Once upon a time, I decorated for EVERY holiday. My house looked like a Hallmark store display. But now even decorating for Christmas seems like such a chore and I'm often scattering things about at the last minute. When my kids were little, I always had a special meal or treat, bought them themed outfits appropriate for the holiday, planned special events, did crafts. 

Now everyone has their own car, and their own life, and I don't see them much. I guess without as many "kid" duties, I let things like decorating for holidays slide and I don't have the time or the energy to make a big deal out of every reason to celebrate. 

I wonder if they miss it? I know I do, and I often feel guilty (like today) for not making things special, because making things special is kind of my THING. But other times I feel like I knock myself out for nothing. And, truth be told, even the best-laid plans often get derailed by our "busy-ness". 

With so many holidays and six birthdays to celebrate every year, we have decorations up more often than not, it seems. Sometimes it's months before we take a Happy Birthday banner down. Or remove the balloons and streamers. But it's just so festive and fun! And taking it down is like........well, you know that feeling when the last Christmas decoration is packed away and you have that "Hells to the YES, that freaking job is done - clean slate - time to start the new year!" feeling but you also have that "Aww, I'm going to miss all the lights and warmth and festivity" feeling? It's like that. 

Part of me is thrilled and relieved to be at this stage of my life. No more tooth fairy duties - sneaking into the kids' room after they've gone to sleep (and I've waited up way too long, wanting to go to sleep myself) and trying to find a tiny tooth under a pillow in the dark. No more leprechaun traps (who invented that bullshit anyway?), or trying to pull of some leprechaun shenanigans that are somewhat believable to convince a skeptical grade-schooler that the little green guys are real. 

But I miss it, too! I miss having a reason to hang up paper hearts all over the house and make pumpkin pictures, and create a whole meal out of candy that looks surprisingly like meatloaf, mashed potatoes and gravy, and peas and carrots but is really cocoa krispy treats, ice cream with caramel sauce and candies individually rolled and shaped to look like peas. April Fools!

When the kids were little, other moms would lament the mess of painting, Play-Doh and, popsicles. I relished it. I loved nothing more than dragging out the easel and paints and dressing my toddler in a beret for effect. My day was made when we created a giant slip and slide out of an old tarp, and, upon finding it not slippery enough, lathered each kid with a bar of Irish Spring soap. It smelled heavenly (and yes, we justified is as a bath, don't judge!). 

And I know the kids don't have to be little to decorate or do things up special. But there's something so sweet about the expectancy of a little face lighting up with excitement when they see their home transformed. Yeah, it's messy and inconvenient and requires a lot of storage bins, much to my husband's chagrin, but it's just so FUN!

So, why didn't I do it this year? Was I too busy? Unmotivated? Maybe a little of both. And maybe I only disappoint myself. Maybe no one else even cares. But I do. 

Guess I'll try harder next holiday. Except it's Easter and I have the fewest decorations for that holiday. In fact, I think last Easter I "forgot" to decorate until the last minute when I scattered some baskets and bunnies around. Better get on it. 

Plus, I forgot to wear my shamrock socks today and it totally threw off my day. Because, damn it, I have to wait a whole year to wear them again. Happy St. Patrick's Day!

May your neighbors respect you
troubles neglect you
angels protect you
and Heaven accept you
~ Irish Blessing

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Cleaning house........

When I was a kid, we'd always ask my mom what she wanted for her birthday, or mother's day or any other gift-giving occasion. She'd almost always reply "A clean house!" I remember thinking, wow, moms are SO boring if all they want is a clean house! Not toys? Not new clothes? Not a nice dinner out?

Well, now that I'm grown up - and my kids are (or nearly) grown, I can vouch for the fact that a clean house is the BEST gift. There's nothing like walking into a house that is in order, who's surfaces are dust-free, who's floor is not strewn with dog-hair tumbleweeds, who's bathroom surfaces are free from spittle drops on the chrome, who's kitchen sink is empty instead of teetering with dishes, and who's carpets have fresh vacuum marks. Ahhhhh..........nirvana!

It takes a lot of work to get a house that way. I don't know about you, but I know people who vacuum every day! I know, right? Who the hell has time for that? Or people who clean their bathrooms on a schedule or (gasp!) employ a cleaning service! Not this mama. I've never paid anyone to clean my house, and while that sounds heavenly, it also sounds like a lot of work on my part to pick up and organize so someone who lives outside my home doesn't see the real chaos and filth we live in daily.

Ok, maybe not filth. I mean, we're not hoarders and there's no mouse poop on the surfaces or months' worth of dog hair collecting in the corners. But there are piles of papers, half-finished projects and dishes where they shouldn't be on the daily. It's a never-ending cycle and it's never easy to get anyone to willingly clean.

Today, though, I did ask my son to clean his room. He announced to his sister that I was "holding them hostage" until the cleaning was done. While not quite that dramatic, I appreciated that he did a passable job of cleaning (although he left the house with no sheets on his bed so that means he'll likely sleep on the floor in front of the fireplace for several more nights until he's forced to put clean sheets on the bed). He even helped me with "the high stuff" which was taking down the Valentine decorations from the ceiling. And he did it without complaining. Seriously, if there was a Hallmark card that read "Thank you for not being an asshole about cleaning up the house I let you live in for free" I'd totally buy that card for him.

And I've done the dishes and wiped down the counters and vacuumed the upstairs and tackled a pile of filing six months in the making. But the thing is? I REALLY hate cleaning. I almost hate it as much as cooking. Sure, I love the end results of both, but I figure I have four kids and a husband so why should I EVER have to run the vacuum or wash a dish? Still, I do it. Because, as the mom, I'm the only one who will pick up the wrapper that dropped on the floor days ago, or actually MOP a floor on my hands and knees (ok, like once a year, but STILL), or wipe out that little plastic tray that sits in the fridge under the water dispenser and grows pink with mold unless I clean it. Maybe I just notice it more?

But, ah, the days when the house is clean! This usually happens just before a party or event we're hosting at our house. Everything is vacuumed, dusted, bathrooms sparkle, and we light candles. And I look around and think "Wow, this is MY house!" And then I sit down with an adult beverage and soak it all in. Ok, not really, but that's how I envision it. Even better is when I come home and one of my darling children (ok, just Arlie) has done the dishes and picked up and I don't feel like I immediately have to fix something before I can sit down. That doesn't happen often, but when it does? Those are the best days!

And I make plenty of messes on my own. My office is a disaster. How I long for some type of organizational system that stays organized. But I just have so many PROJECTS I want to do, and I start them, and I run out of time or motivation and then things get pushed aside for more interesting pursuits. I'm not sure I could function in a perfectly clean and organized office. A bit of chaos seems to unleash the creative process for me.

People often say our home feels so "comfortable" - that you can "just be" in our house. I think what they're really saying is "You don't have any nice shit so we can't mess anything up." Because it's true. Sure, we have things we treasure, but our 15-year-old flattish carpet has had plenty of stains, our walls are full of pinholes because we hang decorations up for every holiday and event, and our furniture wasn't all that special or expensive even when it WAS new. It's good that people feel comfortable here. We don't bother to take off our shoes (anymore), and sometimes we go to bed and leave teriyaki containers on the coffee table which results in the dog eating styrofoam all morning. That actually happened this morning and the dog's stomach is making weird noises as I type this so who knows? There might be a pile of dog barf in my future. No worries, we have a carpet cleaner!

And I know I make things harder for myself. For example, when the kids have a pile of friends over and everyone is snuggling and watching movies and using every blanket in the house, I find it necessary to wash ALL the blankets, even though they'll probably repeat the process again the next night. I'll spend WAY too much time organizing the art cabinet even though no one really uses it anymore. And how do things get so messy anyway? Like those crumbs that collect in your silverware drawer? Seriously, how?

So, I'd rather do anything (like blog, scroll through Facebook, eat a bowl of Lucky Charms, pluck my chin hairs, fold laundry) than clean my house. I'm avoiding it right now, in fact. But my husband just texted me that he's going to be home in a couple of hours, so I'm going to do a super fast clean so it looks like I've been cleaning all day. My aunt once told me all she had to do was fold the blanket on the back of the sofa and her husband would remark that the house was nice and clean. I figure if most of the surfaces can be uncluttered and the wind doesn't blow dog-hair tufts down the hall when the door opens, it's all good. And no amount of vacuuming is going to bring the pile of my carpet back to its original fluffiness. The hardwoods don't shine like they used to.

But it's home. And I like it here.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Midwinter break........

For some reason, our school district gives us a week off in February and calls it "mid-winter break." Some say it was created to disrupt the flu cycle, others debunk that theory. Whatever the reason, I'm not one to complain about a week off work, so I've thoroughly enjoyed my break that is quickly winding down.

While others were basking on a beach in California, I opened an esty shop here. I got a hankering to make some jewelry and I've kind of been on a roll. Most of what I've made has been supplied to me from my Buy Nothing group and I've purchased a few supplies as well. But I have not made a huge investment and I don't plan to unless I need to. As in, if anyone actually buys anything! I have sold one pair of earrings and one necklace off a Facebook page, so that's cool. Mostly I'm just having fun creating. I'm planning to add Jeff's leather bags (those take a bit longer to make!) and maybe some things the kids create. Either way, it's been fun and has occupied a good portion of my time off.

While others were eating shaved ice in Hawaii, I went on a hike. It wasn't a long hike, but it was fun and made me realize how much I love being outdoors. But not alone. Which is weird. But I don't like going for walks alone and I can't imagine taking a hike on my own. I think it's because one time a big dog charged at me while I was walking, and thank God I was with Jeff, who immediately stepped in front of me and charged at the dog, because if I were alone, I'd probably have cowered to the ground and been attacked. I hate mean dogs! And I'm just so BORED when I walk alone. So, as much as I'd love to be one of those people who wanders in the woods and contemplates life, I'm much more likely to be scurrying along a trail, worried about the psychos hiding in the bushes waiting to attack me with a machete. Yes, I watch too much "Criminal Minds" on TV.

While others screamed on roller coasters in Disneyland, I had coffee and breakfast with my best friends. And by that I mean we consumed some food but mostly we sat and talked for four hours each time. "Coffee" for us is a half-day event. We don't get to see each other often, so we make the most of it. We talk about kids and college and all the things that go along with our kids getting older and our houses being empty or near-empty nests and what we do with our time. We lament our lack of exercise and laugh at people wearing purple. Because purple seems to follow us everywhere we go these days.

While others took morning jogs along an Arizona desert highway, I logged less than 3,000 steps on my Fitbit most days. Ok, some days I only did 1,500. Basically I have moved very little. Even the hike didn't put me at the pinnacle achievement of 10,000 steps which I have only achieved once, ever, according to my fitness trackers. Take today, for example. I got up at an ungodly hour (ok, the same time I get up on a normal work day, which is oddly SO painful on a vacation day), took my son to get his braces removed, took him to breakfast and a little shopping, came home, sat in front of my computer, took a two-hour nap, sat in front of the computer some more, then sat and made jewelry for a few hours, then sat in front of my computer some more. Basically at this point, my butt should be the size of Africa. And while it's close, it's not quite there yet and I do feel badly for my lack of movement today but I also feel like I'm on vacation so what the hell? I deserve to relax, right?

While others took their kids on college visits, I watched my kids lay on the couch, leave teriyaki leftovers in styrofoam containers all over the family room, take an embarrassing number of selfies, let the dishes stack up until they fell over, and sleep on the floor because their beds were covered with laundry (ok, maybe that was just my son...). But, whatevs. I'm not worried about their futures. They will come regardless. And I have some pretty smart, talented, fun and funny kids. I know they will all do well in life, even if we can't afford multiple college visits or they take more than four years to finish college or they go to (gasp) community college. Because they're pretty awesome, this foursome I have. I love them!

And I meant to do so many more things - spring cleaning, workouts every day, writing....oh, the writing I was going to do! But instead life happened and I spent time surrounded by my family and I listened - to their conversations, to their interactions with their friends and significant others, to the sweet, precious sounds of their baby voices while watching home videos, to my daughter singing softly at age 6 in a school production that made me cry. And it was all good. And I was happy. And I am happy.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Ode to a toaster oven...........

The other day, I was cleaning the kitchen when I decided to move the toaster oven just a scooch more than usual to wipe up the crumbs under it. You know, a teensy bit more than the cursory few inches where the crumbs collect in the back and you get a wild hair once in a while to REALLY clean the counter top underneath?

So, I moved the toaster oven and that flimsy bottom tray thing that's supposed to "catch" the crumbs fell off! Crumbs and bits of burned toast spilled out all over the counter. I figured it was a sign that I should give the ol' girl a good wipe down so I did and when I tried to reattach the catch tray it was, well.....toast! (Hee, hee, punny!)

The tiny little bracket had broken off and there was no getting that crumb catcher back on. No problem, I thought, I'll just set it on a cookie sheet or something. But then I got to thinking, it's time to replace that relic! After all, we'd had it for 15 years and aren't appliances supposed to crap out after, like, two years? So, we decided to put the geriatric toaster oven to rest and purchased a new one.

Even more astonishing? I didn't purchase it. I trusted my HUSBAND (I know!) to select and purchase a new toaster oven on his trip to the store that evening. I didn't research new features, compare prices or even give it a second thought until he returned with a gleaming new toaster oven, purchased for under $30. Yay!

I plugged in the new one and set aside the old one. I was pretty excited - I mean as excited as one gets about new appliances. But then the kids came home.

No one said anything right away, but a few hours later, my son said "I can't believe you replaced my childhood toaster oven!" Whaaatttt??? Who associates their childhood with an appliance? Well, apparently my kids do because not a few hours later, I heard, from my daughter, "Our childhood toaster oven is gone!"

I mean, it's not like I sold their baby teeth on ebay or ceremoniously burned their baby books! It's a TOASTER OVEN! It sat on the counter for several days until our oldest came by for a rare visit. "Oh, you got a new toaster oven?" she observed almost immediately, "Can I have the old one for my apartment?" That toaster oven was seconds away from the trash, and she swooped in and saved it!

And the best part? Her siblings can come and visit the ancient toaster oven when they get nostalgic for their childhood.

Kids are so weird.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Whatever Wednesday

Whatever Wednesday - my blog post about random stuff in the news, in my life, or....whatever.

First off, what the HELL is up with the anti-vaccination people? I mean, I understand some people cannot be vaccinated for health reasons but other than that? Please just vaccinate. We're dealing with MEASLES now, people! A disease that was all but eradicated with vaccines. And now? This should not be happening. I know people are VERY passionate about their reasons for and against, and I don't want to open THAT can of worms, but I vaccinated all my kids against everything for which a vaccine was available. The consequences of that are that my kids are healthy and fine. Am I pro-vaccine? Yes. Do I think you should be? Well, I'm not going to tell you what to do with your own kids and your own life, but if you choose not to vaccinate then please don't take your infected kids to Disneyland or on an airplane. That is all.

Vagina steaming. What the what? I don't care if consciously uncoupled Gwyneth does it, if you need to steam your vag you might have other problems. Also? Who performs this "service"? Maybe the same people who provide Brazilian waxing. I cannot imagine the ickiness of that job. Who wants to look at vaginas all day? I'm talking to you, OB/GYNs. Of course, who would choose to be a proctologist? Funny story: I actually met a proctologist in an elevator once on my way to an OB/GYN appointment (this is not a joke). I asked him WHY?? For the love of God, WHY? And he said "specializing". It's all about the money, people. But I'd have to be REALLY broke before I'd steam vaginas for dolla dolla bills.

Wait, Johnny Depp is 51? Years old? Holy shit.

And Bruce Jenner is a WOMAN? Or, soon to be? Where have I been?

There is such a thing as a pop-tart stuffed doughnut. What will they think of next? Truth be told, today I bought chocolate-dipped cheesecake on a stick. I'm not kidding. I decided to bring a treat to celebrate a friend's birthday at dinner tonight and when I saw that delicacy I just knew we had to try it. I mean, it's CHEESECAKE! On a STICK!

We have an epidemic of cell phone addiction as evidenced by this photo. Click and be sad for humanity.

These sound delicious and someone should make them for me! They're called Carmelitas and doesn't that just SOUND good? The first person who makes these for me will get something. It might just be my undying love, but that's worth a lot.

I just had to help my son get dressed in his tux for choir. WHY don't they make pants for women like tux pants? They have adjustable sides! For fat days! Also, why is it called a cummerbund? And why do people call it a cumBERbund? It serves no purpose. However, again, I think it would be awesome attire for women to disguise and hold in our muffin tops.

I'm both thrilled and dismayed that Harper Lee is publishing another novel. "To Kill a Mockingbird" is one of my all-time favorite books, but I'm afraid the hype might overshadow the new novel. And, you know, she could have just been "one and done" and rested on her laurels. But I think it's brave to publish another book, especially one written in the 1950's and lost for decades. I can't wait to read it.

Well, I'm off to birthday dinner and cheesecake-on-a-stick with my two best friends. Plus, adult beverages. Until next time!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

I haven't been writing...........

I can't believe how much I've been neglecting my blog. I LOVE my blog. It's my best friend. No, actually.

So, it really distresses me when I ignore it and let it languish for weeks. And I don't have any good reason, except:

1. Work
2. Kids
3. Life
4. Husband
5. Housework
6. Facebook
7. Making a photobook on Shutterfly that keeps screwing up so I have to keep doing it over and over until I'm so distressed I need to unplug so there goes my blogging time
8. Eating
9. Driving kids places. Except my youngest just got his license so there goes that excuse. And there goes my sense of peace and calm because where the f*ck are my kids? I have no idea.
10. Cooking dinner. That shit takes up WAY too much of my blogging time.
11. Sleeping
12. Exercising (stop laughing, it's true, I actually do, like, 20 minutes of cardio sometimes. At this rate, I should be bikini-ready by the time I'm 95)

So, as you can see, my life is full of blogging material and no time to blog it. UGH! Why can't I just stay at home and be a successful writer? Because I really don't make that much money at my job. And I work REALLY HARD at my job and I get paid the same as when I didn't have to work hard at all so that sucks. I just want to blog, and write and blog and read and research and blog and write some more.

I'm sorry, blog. I love you. I'll try to spend more time with you.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Buy Nothing for the holidays...

Our story begins in a lovely suburban neighborhood in a small town in Washington state. In a cul-de-sac of houses made up of four different floor plans and constructed by a well-known builder, Officer Jureau tucks his cruiser behind a newer-model SUV and watches. 

It's her. The same middle-aged woman driving a minivan. She's been here twice this week, to this house Officer Jureau has been watching since Mrs. Kravistan, the stooped, elderly neighbor at 3417, left multiple complaints on the local watchdog tip line. Seems cars come and go, at odd times of the day, early morning, late at night. No one knocks on the door. Rather, they root around in a plastic storage container that sits close to the front door. They emerge with a bag in hand, walk back to their cars, and leave. Occasionally, Mrs. Kravistan has observed the owner of the house reach out her front door, deposit several bags in the bin and disappear into the house as quickly as she appeared. Mrs. K doesn't know the woman; the family moved in just a few months ago and with the rain and cold, people slip out their garages and back in without so much as a nod to their neighbors. Mrs. K wishes things were more neighborly, but you can never be too sure about people these days. 

Officer Jureau watches as the woman emerges from the minivan, giving him a glance that shows little, if any, concern to his presence. She's wearing black yoga pants and her hair is in a ponytail. The woman walks right up the the front door, looks through the bin and finally makes her choice among the many bags. She walks away, swinging the re-purposed grocery bag, as if she hasn't a care in the world. 

Office Jureau knows he has to make his move. He's been watching the activity all week - cars coming and going, people from all walks of life taking bags from the bin; once he even observed a man walking away with a small microwave! Stealing, blatant and obvious, and in such a nice neighborhood. Still, he knew there had been multiple break-ins in the area and the drug problems were getting worse everywhere. From the outside, the house and its occupants appeared normal - a man and woman in their late 30's, a girl about eight to ten years old, a toddler. The lawn was often scattered with toys and he once saw the little girl talk to one of the many strangers who wandered onto the porch. He had to act before something worse happened. 

The woman stepped into the minivan and started a slow circle around the cul-de-sac. Officer Jureau decided to tail her for a bit before pulling her over. Once outside the neighborhood, he flipped on his lights near the park. The woman looked in her rear view mirror with a combined expression of startled surprise and thinly-veiled annoyance, and pulled over. Officer Jureau approached the minivan with practiced caution (the woman looked harmless and her small frame seemed no match to his athletic bulk, but he had seen enough in his day to know even a slight woman such as her could be a crossfit aficionado and he had to be ready) as the woman rolled down her window. 

"Is there a problem?" she asked as the preschool-aged child in a car seat behind her began wailing. 

"License and registration," replied Officer Jureau, scanning the contents of the passenger seat. He spotted the grocery bag, and several more similar bags, as he took the documents from the woman. 

Pretending to scan the driver's license he began, "Ma'am, I just observed you taking a bag out of a container on a porch of a residence in the Valley Trails neighborhood. This is the second time this week I've seen you do this. What's in the bag?" he asked, gesturing to the grocery-store sack. 

"Oh, this?" asked the woman, picking up the contraband.

"Ma'am, I'm just going to ask you to hand it to me slowly," replied Officer Jureau. The woman handed him the bag, expressionless, as the preschool child in the rear seat flung goldfish crackers towards his mother's ponytail. 

Officer Jureau relaxed noticeably when the woman complied without resistance. He worked the knot on the bag, which had a note affixed to it reading "Carla", and opened it up to find a......spatula. 

A spatula. Red, plastic. No drugs. No residue. Just....a spatula. 

"Ma'am, can you explain why you took this item off the porch of a house that was not your own? What was your business there? And what was in the bag you took last Tuesday?" 

The woman, looking amused, replied "Oh, that was a stack of index cards. I had an ISO for them and Felicia fulfilled it."

ISO? Index cards? What kind of ring was this? He waited patiently as the woman began to prattle on about the Buy Nothing Project. 

The Buy Nothing Project was started on Bainbridge Island, WA as a grassroots effort to build community, recycle and reuse. Using Facebook as a platform, the Buy Nothing Project has grown into a worldwide movement with over 80,000 members in 9 nations. Buy Nothing is a hyper-local gift economy. What that means is that members can give and receive goods and services, free of charge, to their neighbors. Whether a member is looking to downsize or purge their home, borrow a tool, or perhaps they're looking for a unique gift for a baby shower, the Buy Nothing Project is there to help.

Buy Nothing is a boon to new parents who can, quite literally, outfit a nursery and an infant exclusively on Buy Nothing. Toys, books, food, gift items, furniture, and yes, even a car, have been gifted freely through this amazing organization. Moving to your first apartment? Put an ISO (in search of) out for pots and pans! Have a bike your kid has outgrown? There's bound to be a kid out there who needs a new one.

My own experience with Buy Nothing has been nothing short of amazing. When I first joined, I was eager to purge items from my home. I have a big family so I was constantly giving away bags of outgrown clothing, books and toys, and even new-in-package gift items they had received for holidays and never opened. Buy Nothing was a way to share those things with people in my own community, many of them people I already knew through Facebook, our local schools and sports organizations. As I became more involved, I saw incredible things happening.

A woman with a terminally ill family member was gifted airline miles to go say goodbye. A hardworking single mom was gifted food items to last until the next paycheck. A little girl's wish was fulfilled when she was gifted a new bike, donated by one Buy Nothing family and tuned up by another Buy Nothing member. Young parents just starting out were able to put together a baby's nursery from donated items.

Buy Nothing runs the gamut from weird (half a pizza or birthday cake, leftover from a party, tampons, condoms) to hilarious (Enrique, the anatomically-correct blow-up doll) to artful (handmade soaps, jewelry, paper and wood crafts). There is something for everyone on Buy Nothing and the tenets of the group - honesty and transparency - run strong.

As with any large group, there are a few bad apples and members have been asked to leave for reselling items they have received for free, to lying about where they live (Buy Nothing is hyper local - if you live in Pleasantville, you give to and receive from other members of Pleasantville). And since it's Facebook-run, there are always a few whack-a-doodles in the bunch (one woman made up a long story about her daughter's leukemia - turned out she didn't even have a daughter!). Some groups have members in the low hundreds, some in the thousands. The more people in a group, the more likely there will be a few outliers.

But mostly Buy Nothing is incredible. Personally, I have benefited in several ways. I've been able to pare down my household excess, I've been gifted items I really needed (beds and bedding for two foster kids I took in for several months) and items I really wanted (a new purse, jewelry, clothing). I've met and befriended many new people in my community or formed stronger bonds with people I already knew. Recently someone posted that it was my birthday on our Buy Nothing page and I received multitudes of birthday greetings. One day, I posted jokingly that I was in search of (ISO) a decaf mocha and a chocolate-chip cookie and not long after my doorbell rang. There, on my porch, sat my "order" dropped off anonymously by a Buy Nothing friend (she later confessed!). I've received bilingual books for my classroom and fabulous, new-with-tags (NWT) Christmas gifts for my family.

But the best gifts I've received from being a part of Buy Nothing aren't tangible. They include my new conscientiousness when I shop - I ask myself if I really need or will use an item before I frivolously buy it. I shop less. And I ask for items (even big-ticket items) on my Buy Nothing page before I buy because you just never know who might have something. I've learned that appearances can be deceiving and that even a family who appears well-off might struggle between paychecks. So, I've learned to judge less and care more. I've realized that a well-timed comment or personal message can make a huge difference to a person. And I've learned that even a spatula in a plastic bag is a gift from the heart.

Buy Nothing. Give Freely. Share Creatively. Check it out here.