Friday, January 27, 2012

Blech.

I have a case of the blechies. The kids are annoying me. The sound of Jay yelling at the kids is also annoying me.

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Work has been weird. There are a lot of changes happening that are kind of awkward and stressful.

Jay's work has also been weird but for different reasons than my work weird. But yeah, two work weirds in one house can be messy.

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The speech pathologist at Lucy's school observed her recently and I received the paperwork in the mail today regarding the observation. The bad news is that she is a 'moderate to severe stutterer.' The good news (I guess) is that she qualifies for special help from the school because technically she has a Communication Disorder. I fluctuate between really hating the label because I don't like to think of my daughter being reduced to a label. But also, I know the label is necessary (in regards to funding) for the school to get her the help she needs.

I'm actually kind of surprised that Lucy qualifies for extra help since one of the stipulations is that the stutter has to 'interfere with her ability to learn' and since Lucy is academically quite awesome, that's obviously not the case. But there's this: "Lucy's teacher expresses concern about peers being able to understand Lucy when she has a stuttering moment and that some peers do not approach her because they are not sure if they will understand her or how to communicate." As painful as those words are for me to read, I am so thankful that the girl's teacher is observant and thoughtful enough to include that in the evaluation because it may have been the deciding factor in whether or not my girl gets help at school.

I don't know. The whole thing just hurts my heart. On the eighth I have a meeting with Lucy's teacher and the speech teacher and we're going to set up an Individualized Education Program (IEP) for Lucy. I really don't know what that means. I guess I'm about to find out.

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I'm trying to remain cheerful. I actually have a fun weekend ahead of me. Tomorrow the girl and I are going over to Visty's for a birthday party for her youngest. Visty and her people make me happy. Then on Sunday I have a day of doing nothing topped off by a book club meeting. I can handle that. I may stay in my jammies and drink General Foods International Coffee until 4 in the afternoon.

A few other things keeping me from spending the next few weeks crying:

* This song by Woodpigeon.

* This article by Drew Magary. Drew Magary probably isn't on your radar because he mainly writes about sports (I know. Ugh.) But he also writes some totally hilarious parenting articles that are realistic and filled with curse words, as all parenting articles should be.(Note: Drew also writes books, one of which is resting on the back of my toilet as we speak. We're highbrow that way.)

*Olek's crochet graffiti

*Barney Frank is getting married. I want to go that wedding. SO BADLY.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Car Update

It's occurred to me that I haven't posted about all the work Jay's been doing to my 'vintage' Cabriolet. (Doesn't vintage sound so much better than old?) He's replaced the broken window, installed the stereo, had the car detailed, and replaced the ugly fuel tank cap with the original, (very German) one that requires the owner to not only use a key, but then to rotate the cap much like you would if you were opening a safe. Needless to say, I've not yet mastered the complexities of the cap and neither has anyone who works at the gas station, so poor Jay still has to go get gas for me. (You long time readers might remember that I hate pumping gas and have only done it once in my life. Not a problem here in Oregon where it's illegal to pump your own gas and there are attendants to do it for you. Unless you have a gas tank that the attendant can't open. Maybe one day the gas station nearest my house will hire an old German fellow and Jay won't have to do this chore anymore.)

My favorite car improvement though is the stereo:

Does it look odd to you? That's because it has a tape deck. (Definition of such an archaic device can be found here.) And that white thing sticking out is called a cassette tape. I've clearly labeled it in the picture below:That particular cassette tape is Erasure's Wonderland. I've mentioned before how much I love Erasure and this album is especially......um....flaming. So much so that when I get out of my car, I'm shocked to see that it isn't actually 1986 and the people around me aren't wearing popped collars and talking into giant cell phones. I would like to expand my cassette collection, but for some reason, nobody sells cassettes anymore. Peculiar.

Interesting little tidbit about me and my car: I work with a gal who shares my name and also drives a vintage white Cabriolet, although mine is just a wee bit more vintage than hers. When anyone new comes to work with us, it takes them a while to realize which Tammie they're gonna get. It's been a fun and unexpected way to fuck with people.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Book Review:: Waterfall

To Gabi and Lia Betarrini, summers in Italy are nothing new. The girls are used to spending time in exotic places while their archaeologist mother digs through ancient rubble. It was a typical day in Tuscany when Gabi and Lia place their hands atop a hand print on a tomb wall and are transported to the fourteenth century.

Once there, they're separated and find themselves in the castles of feuding families. Lia with the ruthless and brutal Parratores and Gabi with the kind and strong Forellis. At first, Gabi's main goal is to locate her sister so they can together get back to their time, but then she finds herself falling in love with the handsome knight Marcello, future Lord of the Forelli family. Not only does Gabi have to decide whether to go home or stay in the fourteenth century with her true love, but she has to find a way to survive during the harsh and bloody Medieval times.

Okay. Obviously this is not a book I would have chosen for myself. This was the first pick for my new book club and it is very YA. The story is somewhat flat, the characters aren't developed very well, and the editing seems to have been done a bit lazily. For instance on page 265 the word "massive" is used twice, two sentences apart. There are the "massive numbers of horses rumbling towards the gate" and then a "massive, rusted metal beam." The author definitely could have benefited from the use of a thesaurus.

Thee author of Waterfall mentions being inspired by the Twilight series and I can definitely see the similarities between the two. Both have female main characters who seem to inexplicably hold some sort of power over the handsome guy that everyone wants. Both stories also have a main character choosing between two worlds-the world they know or the world where they think their soul mate is. Waterfall is only the first book in a series of three and I'm curious to see how the author will tie all the loose ends together. (Not curious enough to read the other two books though.)

The biggest difference between Waterfall and Twilight is that where Bella was weak, helpless, and constantly needing to be saved, Gabi is a strong chick. She can wield a sword and isn't afraid to fight. The fact that there is a strong female main character is probably the best I can say about this book. All in all, the story itself wasn't very compelling.

I had mentioned last week that I was worried this book would have a lot of religious overtones because the publisher is known for its Christian material. In actuality there ended up being very little mention of God or Christianity at all. In fact, the times they were mentioned, it almost felt like an afterthought. (Examples: Gabi voices some not-very-heartfelt prayers during times of distress, asks if 'The Big Guy" is listening to her, etc.) There are also a few times where Christian tidbits are thrown in as a way of describing something. For instance, the age of a tomb is described as being "built three or four hundred years before Christ came to earth." These descriptions felt forced and unnecessary, because Gabi even describes herself as not very religious and as having read only the children's Bible her Grandma gave her when she was little. It felt out of character for Gabi to be tossing such descriptions into casual conversation.

So should you read it? I'd say no, it's pretty much garbage. BUT, in looking at Goodreads, I found that a lot of gals loved it. So if you enjoy YA literature this may be the book for you. As for me, I just found it silly and not very engrossing.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Sunday

I love how a lot of my blog people are journaling more lately. Journaling is so low pressure and easy to do. And I don't feel as if I have to write a certain 'way'. I'm just chronicling my days, not writing a novel.

This past Friday we had dinner at Jay's Aunt's house. (We'd been trying to get together since we moved here, but every one's schedules being what they are, it's been tough.) She and her partner have a beautiful condo in N. Portland overlooking the Columbia River. They served us great food, spectacular wine, and put up with our obnoxiously loud daughter. Plus, they play board games. I want to spend more time with these ladies.

This morning the kids slept in until after 10 so Jay and I woke up lazily, turned on the TV and started watching Greenberg. Have any of you seen this movie? It's Ben Stiller as I've never seen him before. Usually, he kind of annoys me but now I'm looking at him a bit differently. It felt very luxurious to lay in bed in the morning watching a movie, getting up only to make myself a bowl of cereal. We need to do this more often. (Speaking of movies: We Need To Talk About Kevin will be coming to theatres in Portland next month. I'm giddy. I really, really, want to see this film.)

Since Jay and I were both off of work today, our initial plan was to go hiking again, but it's been raining so much and all I really felt like doing was staying home and eating bowl after bowl of potato leek soup. Of course, that plan didn't excite the kids as much, especially the girl, who was racing and jumping through the house by mid afternoon. Instead of just yelling at her to settle down, (our usual plan) we took her to PlayDate PDX, which is a giant indoor playground. It may have been the best $10 I ever spent because the girl has been quiet and relatively calm since coming home. The evening, as a whole, has been peaceful.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Cooper Mountain Nature Park

I suppose this could also be entitled, "The One In Which I Post Too Many Pictures of Snowy Nature."

I've missed our family nature outings. Up until this weekend it seems as if it's been months since we'd been out together, in the woods, near the water, or in the mountains.This past Sunday the weather was perfect. Cold, a little bit snowy, and with the sky such a beautiful shade of silvery grey.There was just enough snow on the ground to make the walk interesting, not enough to make it dangerous or more difficult for hiking.
The first part of our walk was all downhill and we were wondering why it seemed so easy. But then we got to the bottom, turned the corner, and saw this:Two days later, I'm still feeling the effects of the steep trail.

I feel like these moments we spend together outside are especially important for my thirteen year old son. When it's just our family, outside at some semi-secluded place, he can be himself. He doesn't have to try to be anything else, the way that he does so often with his peers. If he wants to do something so dorky as getting into a snowball fight with his dad and little sister, he doesn't feel the need to first stop and consider whether or not it would look 'cool' to do so.
(For me, one of the most frustrating aspects of being the parent of a teenager is trying to convince that teenager that he's totally fine just the way he is. That everything about him is the way it should be and that eventually he'll be mad at himself for attempting to change to impress people he doesn't really care about anyway. That life is far too short to spend it trying to get people whom you don't like, to like you. My best friend and I were just discussing this topic today and we both agreed that we wished we could get certain years of our lives back, years spent devoting too much time to what others think.)

After our hike was over and we got back to the car, it began to snow again.
We don't really get much snow here, so of course we had to hang out and soak it all in just a little bit longer. Come summertime, I'll need these memories to get me through the heat and the long, oppressively bright sunny days.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Random Thoughts

* I still have Christmas decorations up. The tree is gone but there are still smatterings of the holiday season randomly around my apartment. Today may have to be the day though.

*I've joined a book club. I'm very excited because I've wanted a book club for a while but had a hard time finding one that worked with my schedule. This particular one was started by a couple of gals who I work with though, so scheduling isn't an issue. The first book we're reading is Waterfall by Lisa Bergren, which is quite a popular book right now, but as I'm reading it, it seems kinda Christian-y. So I looked up the publisher, and sure enough, they publish a lot Christian literature and curriculum. I was kinda pissed at first, but it should make for an opinionated me at the book club meeting.

*The other night I took the boy to Hot Topic so that he could spend his Christmas gift card. As he was browsing the skinny jeans and black hooded sweatshirts, the girl and I stood by the counter looking at the wall of Hello Kitty merchandise. Since it's January, the store was slow and the girl who worked there came up and started talking to me. (Side note: I'm always shocked when ultra hip people speak to me, even if it's their job to do so.) Anyway, this gal had about 15 piercings on her face and ears, including a giant one protruding from her cheek. As a general rule, I don't spend each day feeling old. Basically, I feel like a teenager still who somehow stumbled into adulthood and now has to deal with things like bills and kids. But looking at that girl, I felt ancient because it would never occur to me to pierce my cheek.

*The other day I got a weird, spammy looking email from my old real estate agent in Florida. I didn't actually click the link inside, but ever since then it seems as if other weird spammy email is being generated from my account. So if anyone gets an email from me, be careful about looking at it. I'm not one to put "IMPORTANT" in the subject line. Leave it to the RE agent to find one more way to screw me.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Book Review:: Dance Upon the Air

In an attempt to get away from her violently abusive husband, Helen Remington fakes her death, changes her name to Nell Channing, and flees to the tiny island of Three Sisters. Within just a few days she meets some of the island's residents: the beguiling Mia, who takes Nell under her wing and gives her a job cooking in the cafe that she owns; Ripley, the tough as nails female cop; and Zack, Ripley's brother, also a cop, and OF COURSE he's totally handsome and falls head over heels in love with timid Nell. Of course he does.

It isn't long before Nell discovers that Mia and Ripley have always practiced witchcraft and that they, along with Nell, are descendants of the Three Sisters for whom the island is named after. Magic and witchery is in their blood.

Uh-oh. But evil this way cometh. The women know this because Mia, the strongest of the three, senses it in the wind, or the clouds, or the moon, or something like that. Nell's ex husband has gotten word that she's alive and doing quite well without him, and he is none to pleased about it. He hops on the next ferry with the intent of hunting her down.

Can the combined powers of the three witches stop him before it's too late?

Okay, obviously total chick lit. Not something I would normally read, but a couple of my co-workers were discussing it and it sounded kinda fun, and all in all, it was. It was total mindless fluff that I didn't really have to think about. In a way, it sort of felt like the Twilight series, only for adults, and with witches instead of vampires. The characters were all pretty one dimensional. I knew the story wasn't going to go in any groundbreaking direction and that all would end well.

My biggest complaint would be the descriptions of the kind and gentle (yet somehow also seismic) sex between Nell and Zack. Example: She vibrated beneath him, a volcano on the brink of erupting. Flashes of white hot heat, curls of keen edged longing raced through her system until she was raw and ready. Curls of keen edged longing? What does that even mean? I don't know, I guess it's standard fare for chick lit, it's just not my type of thing.

I imagine it sounds as if I hated the book, but I really didn't. It was a fun, easy read that didn't tax my brain too much. This was actually the first book in the Three Sisters Trilogy and I plan to read the remaining two. Maybe I'm just getting soft in my old age, but more and more I find myself needing the occasional junk read.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Wishes For My Now Seven Year Old Daughter

Lucy,

Please continue to love what you love, even if it's not popular. Don't let society tell you what to like and not like. It's a waste of time because in my experience society is either way off base or just plain stupid. I'm so glad you chose a Sonic cake this year. It doesn't matter if he's an old character and none of the other little girls love him or even know who he is. You do, and that's what matters. If someone has a problem with that, screw 'em. And I give you permission to say that.

I hope that spaghetti remains your favorite food for the rest of your life. You may not always be able to afford Nutella or fancy cheese, but chances are you'll always be able to afford spaghetti. It's a gift to find something you love that is also affordable.

Hold on to the friends who will take the time to make you a hand made gift.

Please don't stop singing and humming. I love how there is always a tune in your head.
Always remain as strong willed and stubborn as you are today. Sure it annoys me now, but those are traits that will get you what you want out of life. At the very least, people will submit to your will out of sheer exhaustion.

Right now, at seven years old, you see yourself as this totally adorable, smart, cool chick. And that's accurate. But pretty soon, sooner than I would probably like, there are going to be people who will try to tell you that you aren't cool or cute or smart. To those people, I say a loud fuck you.

And I give you permission to say that too.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Random Thoughts

*I hope everyone had a wonderful New Year's Eve. Mine was great because I went to bed at 11:00 and was not awakened by the sound of any fireworks come midnight. It would seem that my neighbors are as unimpressed by fireworks as I am.

*Along those lines, the other morning Jay and I awoke to the sounds of one of our neighbors blaring Peter Murphy. Neither of us has listened to him in a long time but we both agreed it was an oddly peaceful way to wake up.

*My Christmas tree is still up. The girl's birthday is tomorrow and I've arranged all her presents underneath it and declared it The Birthday Tree.Jay jokingly asked if the tree was still going to be up in February for his birthday. Don't tempt me. Seriously though, it's probably time for it to come down. As the branches begin to droop, ornaments fall off and then get thrown back on the tree willy nilly. It just doesn't look as cheery anymore.

*I'm still struggling with the idea of a birthday party for the girl. I've been going back and forth with the idea for the last few weeks, wondering if I should send out invitations, or at this point, just call people and tell them to be at my house at a certain time. Ultimately, I'm leaning towards it just being family again this year. Maybe it's selfish of me, because I know that the girl would love a party where she can be the center of attention, but those moments when it's just the four of us are so special to me. With Jay and I both working and the kids having their own schedules, those moments are rare anymore.

*A few weeks back, Daphne sent me this link about how to make a candle from a clementine peel. Since I'm still having my love affair with clementines, I make these almost daily.
I wish all of you a Happy New Year and a wonderful 2012!