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.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Year-end review!

The Moore/Gordon Gazette – 2014 Highlight Edition

In January, Harrison turned 15 and started driving with a permit. Terrifying! He’s actually a good driver and can’t WAIT to turn 16 on January 9 so he can finally drive by himself (ahem, legally).

In February, Arlie turned 16 and we haven’t seen her since, although we feel confident we can usually find her at Starbucks. Her 16th was sweetened when I won tickets to Bruno Mars on the radio! The Seahawks won the Superbowl – GO HAWKS! and Jeff took a trip to San Diego to visit Grandpa Vern. Harrison and Hannah saw Pentatonix in concert and were speechless afterward.

March kicked off with Jeff taking a fishing trip, and me trying Zumba for the first (and last) time. A blog post I wrote about it ended up on BlogHer’s fitness page – woohoo! Jeff and I took a wonderful trip to Ohio for Aunt Laurie’s surprise party and enjoyed seeing Hocking Hills State Park and visiting with our Ohio family.

April’s highlight was the musical “Bye, Bye Birdie” where Arlie performed in the ensemble and featured parts. She powered through six shows singing and dancing her way across the stage – who would ever guess she was once a shy girl?

In May, Harrison starred as Horton in “Seussical, Jr.” What a fantastic show! Jeff took me to Teatro ZinZanni as a mother’s day present, we went camping at Camp Killoqua with good friends, and had a quick trip to Leavenworth to wrap up the month.

June brought Jeff to his first “rondy” (rendezvous) for his mountain man group. This is a fairly new thing for him and has expanded to include a full-size canvas tent and candle holders made out of horseshoes. We don’t pretend to understand everything about Jeff, but we love him for being such a renaissance man! June also took Harrison to a professional recording studio (Bear Creek) to record his first song! I spent the month going on job interviews as my position in the integrated kindergarten class was not renewed. Mid-month, Hayley’s girlfriend, Megan, visited from Indiana with her mom and sister. The rest of the family took off on a week-long trip to Montana where we visited Glacier National Park, the National Bison Range, University of Montana, and enjoyed boating on the Missouri river/Holter lake. On the way home, we stopped overnight in Coeur d’ Alene to visit extended family. The last day of the month, I had a successful interview and accepted a new position as an ELL (English language learner) tutor.

We headed to Boise in July to visit for the 4th, celebrate the great-nephew’s birthdays, and participate in the chalk festival under our team name “Chaos Rains” (a nod to our Seattle roots). We were pathetically under-qualified and it was over 100 degrees, so we probably won’t do a repeat. Jeff celebrated his 46th birthday unceremoniously on the 9 hr drive. When we returned, Hayley quietly celebrated her 21st birthday. We took in some new roommates, family friends Rylie and DeSean, and spent the better part of the month kayaking and enjoying Jeff’s birthday present – a stand-up paddleboard! At the end of the month, Hannah and I attended the BlogHer conference in San Jose and had a GREAT time. Lots of writing inspiration, long days and a crazy closing party hosted by Rev Run (of Run/DMC fame!). Harrison, Arlie, Rylie and DeSean worked as camp counselors at Camp Coyote (Camp Fire) at the end of the month, carrying on a years-long tradition.

August rolled in with Hannah and I going to see Us the Duo in concert while Harrison enjoyed a trip to Mt. Rainier with his dad. The whole family saw “The Book of Mormon” and it was scandalously hilarious and horribly irreverent. So, it was awesome! Harrison, Hannah, Arlie and Rylie saw Bruno Mars at the Gorge on Hannah’s 19th birthday. The next day, Jeff and I flew to San Francisco for four days while Harrison began rehearsals for “Legally Blonde” in which he played a gay pool boy. So, that was also awesome. Hayley started working full-time at Starbucks, and Jeff and M-L saw “Styx” in concert (23 years after I first saw them when I was an 8th grader). We took another trip to visit Grandpa Vern in San Diego in late August.

In September, Jeff and I celebrated 8 years of wedded bliss, Rylie moved back with her mom, and we took another trip to San Diego to see Grandpa Vern. Hayley went to Indiana to visit Megan for two weeks. School started back up, and Harrison and DeSean went to the homecoming dance with their lady friends. I started my new job, and Jeff took a quick deer hunting trip (now referred to “a walk in the woods with a gun” because no actual hunting happened).

In October, Hayley and Arlie attended the Demi Lovato concert, Jeff, Hannah and I took a weekend trip to Goldendale, WA and Harrison took a solo trip to Boise to visit family and see comedian Jim Gaffigan in concert. DeSean moved out, Jeff took a week-long work trip to Pennsylvania and we miraculously managed an hour-long trip the pumpkin patch as a family. Hannah started a full-time nanny job, and Arlie’s gymnastics career came to a screeching halt when we learned that she had a broken back (likely for months). Jeff took yet another trip to San Diego/Grandpa Vern.

November brought another “walk in the woods with a gun” trip for Jeff, Dramafest for the kids (Harrison’s play “Wade the Bird” in which he played Wade, and Arlie’s play “Premature Adults and Their Parents” in which she played Beatrice, both won a trip to the state festival this spring), and we had a wonderful Thanksgiving with family. We went to Teatro ZinZanni, visited Chihuly Garden and Glass, and had dinner at Izumi, our favorite Japanese restaurant for over 25 years.

December has been busy, festive and fun. The kids and I saw “A Christmas Story” at the 5th Avenue Theatre this past weekend, Harrison has performed in many holiday jazz choir concerts, and we’re down to the last week of school and work until we’re off for a couple of weeks. We had an Ugly Sweater party with our first open mic night and it was a ton of fun. Jeff has been in San Diego (two-week trip) helping Grandpa Vern transition from hospital to rehab, to long-term care facility. It’s become a necessity and he won’t be returning home. It’s a sad, busy time for Jeff, but we’re grateful he was able to take the time off work to go help out. When he returns, we’ll enjoy some more Christmas festivities, Arlie will go to Spokane on Christmas day for a visit with her family, Megan will come for another visit from Indiana, and Jeff will squeeze in some more fishing.

We hope the new year brings you lots of laughs and memories. For, those are what really matters.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Go away, week!

This past week has been exhausting for a multitude of reasons, not the least of which involved a broken back and a flu shot. Oh, and it's only Thursday. Let me explain.

On Monday I worked then did a quick grocery trip to a nearby grocery store, which happened to be Grocery Outlet. Grocery Outlet is sketchy at best, and sells interesting foods like your favorite breakfast cereal only in a totally weird flavor you've never heard of. But they also have an expansive wine collection which is also maybe sketchy but I don't like wine so I wouldn't know. I did score some new pot holders there for $2.99 because mine look like something you'd wipe a dog's ass with and are so thin you scald off a layer of skin each time you retrieve a casserole from the oven. But I digress......

After the grocery shopping, I picked up my daughter so we could have some fun mother/daughter bonding time which meant Starbucks on the way to the hospital. The children's hospital is probably only a few dozen miles from my home but in traffic it might as well be in Oregon. My daughter needed to be fitted for a back brace. Last week, we found out she has a broken back! Apparently she broke it doing gymnastics and has been in pain off and on for about two years. We never really thought much of it because she would complain after gymnastic workouts and then she would stop complaining after a few days. We figured it was just the nature of the sport. In June, the pain got worse so she had an x-ray. The x-ray revealed spina bifida (yes, the horrific birth defect, only in this case it was "occulta" which means "hidden" and so it wasn't discovered until this x-ray). We were referred to the children's hospital for a consult with the orthopedic specialists and after a follow-up visit it was determined she needed a CT scan. The result of that was a complete break in one of her vertebrae, which may or may not heal up on its own. So, now she gets to wear a back brace for 3-6 months. The spina bifida, by the way, is unrelated. Just a weird fluke.

As you might imagine, a back brace is no small appliance. As soon as we left the appointment, my daughter reminded me that she needed a "business" outfit for a conference the next day and we determined she did not have black pants or a polo shirt (as specified in the flyer) at home, so we headed to a clothing store. An hour later, we managed to find black jeans that sort of, kind of, looked like dress pants, a pair of pricey boots and a maternity sweater that fit nicely over the back brace. Ka-ching! We got home around 8 p.m. and the only good thing about that day was that my husband made dinner.

Tuesday I got my flu shot. Plus I had work and got to deal with all the requisite bullshit involved in raising multiple kids. I was tired.

Wednesday I had a long and stressful meeting at work followed by a long training with information overload so my head was swimming by the time I arrived home and all I wanted to do was lie down on the floor and eat homemade chocolate chip cookies. But, alas, no cookies. So, I cobbled together a dinner (I HATE MAKING DINNER) and then we had an evening of forced family fun carving pumpkins. But let me backtrack a bit.

Coordinating a family of six, including two young adults and two teenagers with their own busy lives for a trip to the pumpkin farm requires the organizing skills of a hopped-up housewife with a California Closet magazine. Fortunately, I am pretty good at such things, so that after a two-week investment in time and multiple text messages to the kids, I managed to carve out approximately two hours in which to drive to the pumpkin farm, take adorable photos, pick the perfect pumpkins, and leave in time for everyone to get to work and activities on time. We enjoyed this blissful family outing on Sunday before noon, which was notable in that we left the house before noon on a weekend and I have teenagers!! Did I mention that? Plus, none of them looked like hobos. And I have the pictures to prove it. See?

So, since we dropped $51 on pumpkins, and since last year we never got around to carving pumpkins because we were dealing with things like surgery and hospitalization, I was determined that this year we WOULD carve them. And we did, but for some reason, the evening turned out differently than I planned. For one thing, my oldest suddenly decided she would like to try on my wedding dress. So, she did. 

I had never taken it out of its tissue-paper stuffed, coffin-like box it was carefully preserved in. It looked like a headless dead person. I tossed aside the stuffing and shimmied her into it. She declared it "unattractive and so 90's." But then my youngest daughter wanted to try it on as well. So, she did. 

The really depressing thing was it fit both of them, and so I have living, breathing proof that I was once that small. SIGH! However, we did end up carving pumpkins and then, while the kids were finishing up someone exclaimed that American Horror Story was on and the little serrated pumpkin-carving knives were dropped like the bass as my four scurried to the family room to watch, leaving the carnage in their wake. 

Thank God they cleaned it up (after I told them to) and we ended up with some pretty cute pumpkins. I declined to carve mine because I am fundamentally opposed to carving pumpkins on the grounds that pumpkin guts stink and feel disgusting and I kind of liked my little gourd intact. 

We went to bed way too late so that this morning (and this whole day) I was pretty tired and really did NOT want to go to work. More stressful meetings at work ensued and I couldn't wait to get out of there. I was so happy to be able to come home and not run errands all afternoon. But that glee was short-lived when I remembered I signed up to help with the Fall auction/choir concert tonight. I'm supposed to "man" a table while the concert is going on, which I have no idea why I would have agreed to this because I could care less about the auction and only want to watch my son perform. I know I'm supposed to be a good music booster and all, but I'm REALLY not looking forward to interacting with a bunch of tired parents bleeding money on hot-ticket items like pizza gift certificates and Seahawks memorabilia. But, I soldier on! 

Except that my son JUST arrived home, exhausted and running a fever, insisting he cannot miss the concert because his teacher is mean and will grade him down if he misses. Plus, he's in two choirs. And has some solos. There's no time for dinner, and we're already late to pick up the husband on the way to the concert. Late as in, he's still in the shower at 4:57 and I'm supposed to drive in traffic to pick up my husband and arrive at the school at 5:15. And there's no way to notify the overly-zealous booster mom who's heading up the auction that I'm going to be late to "man" her table. So, yeah. This week can suck it. 

Tomorrow my calendar is unmarred by pencil marks. I have nothing on my agenda (yet). Perhaps I'll just lie on the floor and eat chocolate-chip cookies. But I'd have to make them first. 

Saturday, October 11, 2014

I'm so tired of the bullshit............

I just read yet another blog post written by a mom who was basically screaming "Yeah, I'm a mom but I'm still a cool person! Motherhood doesn't define me! I smoke, for Christ's sake!" And to that I say:

Yeah, whatever.

I'm SO tired of all the bullshit we feed ourselves about motherhood, kids, and all the trappings therein. As if being a mother was not ENOUGH. It's a fucking HARD JOB, people. The hardest. In fact, no sane person would ever CHOOSE this job, but how do you know what you're getting yourself into? You don't know how your little angel is going to turn out. All you know is that you pee on a stick, you have life growing inside you, and you plan and scheme and imagine all the wonderful things that will come from having the world's cutest, smartest, most amazing baby.

And you have that baby and guess what? They're pretty freaking amazing! They're cute and smart and funny and WAY better than that other mom's kid. They're also little monsters, they throw tantrums (not only when they're two!), they hurl insults at you, they debate everything you say, and they break your heart over and over and over again. So, why in the HELL would you want to be a mom?

Some moms pride themselves on not driving minivans. As if that were the ultimate selling out. The truth is, it's a lot easier to haul your kids and their friends around in a minivan and thirteen cupholders looks pretty good when you're trying to feed everyone on a road trip. Better than sixteen ounces of pop on the floor. But there WILL be pop on the floor. And milk and Goldfish crackers and candy wrappers and all manner of other disgusting things you can't even imagine as you swaddle your soft, pink bundle of joy into the car seat for the first time.

Some moms will cry actual tears when they look in the mirror and they are carrying an extra five or ten or fifty pounds on their frame after giving birth. And they will lament how they've "let themselves go" no matter that their newborn has colic or their preschooler was just diagnosed with autism or their teenager is in rehab. As if they can actually do it all - maintain their beauty, their sanity and their sense of humor at the same time, while life stabs them in the heart time and time again.

Some moms will go back to school or change careers or take up public speaking so they can constantly reassure themselves that they still "got it" - ambition, drive, the ability to reinvent themselves over and over again. For what? To impress who? The kids don't care. The kids will love you no matter what you look like, or what you serve for dinner or how much money you make at your fascinating career. The kids will be thrilled when you play a board game, or get a Blizzard in the drive-thru at Dairy Queen, or take a picture of their latest Play-Doh creation.

I'm so tired of the expectations. I'm sick of people asking what you DO, instead of who you are. What do I do? Sometimes I solve problems that make achieving world peace look easy and sometimes I eat cake over the kitchen sink. But who am I? I'm a multi-faceted individual with many interests and dreams and hopes and wishes just like you. Why do I need to "prove" it by constantly achieving? Why can't I embrace whatever station of life I'm in without explanation or disparaging it or somehow adding a "yes, but?"

It's ok to be wherever you are. It's ok to be whatever you are. If you truly don't like where you've come to rest in life, you can change it. And if you truly DO like it, you don't need to explain it to anyone. Your enough is not their enough. What drives you, what you're passionate about, doesn't need to fit into anyone's mold. If having many irons in the fire fuels you, go for it! If living a simple life makes you content, so be it. As long as you are taking care of yourself and the humans you brought into this world, you're doing a great job.

Life is dynamic. It will twist and turn and change and you will become many different people over the course of your lifetime. What you once could not imagine may become your daily norm. What you once thought you could NEVER do, you will do over and over again. You will become so many different people. Who you are today is NOT who you will be tomorrow or ten years from now or on your deathbed.

You started out your life as an individual. You took a path known only to you. If you choose to be a mom, you'll have a chunk of time dedicated to the raising of little humans and that time will feel both endless and fleeting. It will be full of unimaginable joy and unimaginable pain. And it will be over before you know it. And then? You'll be a new individual. One who's weathered the storm and come out relatively unscathed. You'll have more time, more money and perhaps more energy to try new things. To reinvent yourself yet again. And hopefully you won't feel the need to justify everything you do and say. To prove you are more than "just a mom."

Stop kidding yourself. Embrace who you are, right now, without explanations or excuses. Chances are you're doing the best you can. And that's pretty freaking amazing.