Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Halloween 2012

The summer seemed to last forever but Halloween week has been cool and rainy. Costumes were worn  over long sleeve tees or with jackets over them, but it was beautiful and sweet nonetheless.

The girl was a fairy. When Jay found her dress for $6 at Goodwill the initial plan of her being a robot was tossed. The fairy dress was just too pretty to pass up. Her night was filled with glitter, makeup, sparkly gems on her face, and people complimenting her on how lovely she looked. There aren't many times an average gal gets to feel like a princess, but Lucy definitely had a princess night.

The boy pulls the same junk every year. He says he's too old to dress up, too old to go trick or treating. Then at the last minute he throws together some weird teenage boy costume. He and his quirky friends got it in their head to dress up and trek to the rich neighborhood. Monty was a walking billboard for marijuana legalization (something we've discussed in our house a lot lately), Friend #1 was a meth addict, and Friend #2 (a Middle Eastern guy) dressed as a "terrorist." Needless to say, their costume choices didn't score them the full size candy bars they hoped for.

They would have had better luck staying closer to home, Lucy brought home quite a haul.

Happy Halloween!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Growing Up

Thursday evening was conference night at the high school. I had been keeping up with the boy's grades online so I knew he was doing pretty well,  but I still wanted to meet face to face with his teachers and get their opinions of my kid.

I don't think I touched on this too much over the past few years, but Middle School was tough for us. Monty wasn't bad, just really lazy and unmotivated. It was a struggle to get him to do much of anything and I knew he wasn't working to his potential. None of his teachers knew how smart he truly was because he gave them absolutely no reason to suspect that he was anything but average at best.

But conference night.... it was AMAZING.

Conference Night Randomness:

1.  Three separate teacher described my son as "pleasant."

2.  He has the highest math grade in his class and the teacher referred to Monty as his "go-to guy" when no one is raising their hand or knows the answer.

3. One teacher said that he "probably isn't being challenged enough."

4. His science teacher looked me in the eye and said, "You're raising a good kid."

5. He'll probably be in honors classes next year.

To say that I was pleased is an understatement. I didn't even wait in line to speak to all of the teachers because I felt that it would be greedy of me to hear more people praise my kid.

I think that as a parent you have this vague, hopeful idea or image of how your kid is going to turn out and how you want them to be. The reality is that they rarely turn out how you imagine or hope, and that isn't always a bad thing. My son doesn't read as much as I would like, he sucks at making a bed, and he'll probably never be President. But Monty is funny and unceasingly kind. He sticks up for people. He has a phenomenal vocabulary. And he's smart. I've always known all of this.

But it's nice to hear it from other people.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

It's Almost Tomorrow.......

....and I haven't blogged yet. I already missed one day, let's see if I can get back on track.


*I am BEYOND sick of election stuff. I voted already. My job is done. I don't care. (That's not true. I do care. A lot. But it's out of my hands.)  I really just want it to be over with. Jay is obsessed, which makes me want to scream at him. At this point: whatever happens, happens. If the guy I hate is elected, Fine. I'll just drink a lot for the next four years. If the guy I like is elected, also Fine. I will still drink, just a bit less. Really. Just everyone Shut Up, you're hurting my head.

*Our latest TV obsession is Louie. It's been a while since I laughed this hard at television.

*My birthday is Thursday. I'll be 36. I haven't had a moment to actually stop and dwell on this fact.

*For my birthday, Jay arranged for me to fly to California to hang out with Daphne for a few days. I admit I had a minor freak out about this. I don't love surprises nor do I love having things done behind my back and in order to make it all work out, Jay had to contact Daphne and my boss without me knowing. (I know. I'm a control freak/brat. Sorry, it's who I am.) After Daphne talked me down from my stress ledge (is that a thing?) and insisted that I would not be an imposition and that she's excited about it, I'm feeling better. Now it's starting to sink in: Yay, I'm going to see Daphne! In California! Alone! Without children!

*Have I mentioned I'm scared of airports and haven't been on a plane since 1996?

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Because You Asked

When I made the list of things my family suggested I write about,  one of the most popular ones was how Jay got his ass slapped at work.

Today, I'll expound on that topic.

Earlier in the week Jay was at work moving shoes from one part of the store to the other when an old guy walked up behind him, slapped him on the ass, and said, "Nice business you have here." Jay said that he was shocked into momentary silence (which NEVER happens to him) and that he wasn't sure if the "business" the man was referring to was the actual store, or his ass. (Jay does have a very nice, round ass. I could see how the man would want to compliment it.)

Jay eventually regained his composure, said, "Thanks" and walked away.

But here's the thing, and this is where it gets serious: There is a small segment of the population, mainly older folk, who think that this behavior is totally okay. It's not okay, EVER, to slap someones ass. Not your kids or grandkids, not your co-workers, and definitely not a stranger. It doesn't matter if you meant it in an endearing, loving, or friendly way. It's still wrong.  In fact, it's sexual harassment.

Since Jay was at work and wanted to remain professional (and wasn't truly threatened) he got over it pretty quickly and blew the whole thing off. But I can't stop thinking about the different ways in which this scenario could have played out. Had it been me getting my ass slapped, would I have acted differently? As a female, I think I would have definitely felt more threatened. I may have screamed and called mall security to have the man escorted out of the store. Maybe that would be overreacting. Or would it? Does the fact that Jay is a fairly large guy who didn't feel threatened by this old man make a difference? Does it mean that he has to put up with his ass being touched in the work place?

How would you have reacted?

Saturday, October 20, 2012


Last weekend the girl asked me if she could sign up to bring home the classroom pet. I agreed, assuming there would be a very long waiting list and that it would be weeks before we had a weekend visitor.


Meet Scrunchie the desert tortoise.

Clearly he's thrilled to be here.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Things My Family Suggested I Write About

I'm sitting here wondering what I can write about for Friday. I'm drawing a blank. I have a few things floating around in my head, but I would like to get into bed sometime before midnight. So, I'm taking the easy way out.


Things My Family Suggested I Write About:

*The corny weather guy on the local news.

*How Tapas is stupid.

*How I would make a terrible politician. (I would definitely be the worst. I can't lie, spin, or 'play the game'.)

*Dumb things my kids say. (I don't have that kind of time.)

*How Jay wants to find a loooong pumpkin so he can make a Peyton Manning jack-o-lantern.

*Cat pictures.

*How Jay wants to be Zach Galifianakis for Halloween.

*Tips for getting the most ketchup from fast food restaurants. (Monty, obviously.)

*Pointless stickers on fruit.

*How the cashier at Goodwill kept trying to get me to go to see male strippers in Vegas with her. (It was a weird day.)

*My love of sriracha.

*How an old man slapped Jay's ass at work the other day.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Linky Randomness

When attempting NaBloWriMo, is doing a post with just links considered cheating? Is it more cheaty than letting your husband write a post for you? Honestly, I'm amazed I've made it this far in NaBloWriMo. I'm taking it day by day at this point people.

*Kevin over at Closet Cooking makes some delicious nummers. I first stumbled upon him on Pinterest but now Jay and I both regularly look at his site. Really, he's magic.

*You may have noticed (or not) that I've been in a few photos around here lately. I've been working on this but it's been hard. I'm not comfortable having my picture taken and I generally don't like the way I look on any given day. But I read this post by Allison Tate over on HuffPo and it's changed my way of thinking. I mean, I still hate the way I look but my kids probably don't, and one day when I'm not around, they might want a visual reminder of what their mom looked like. When I look at pictures of my kids or Jay, or any of my loved ones, I don't see their flaws. I need to cut myself some slack and remember that the people who love me probably don't see my flaws either.

*I can't stop thinking about Lori's rule books. I hope she opens at Etsy shop one day.

*I'm reading the first of the Wildwood Chronicles right now and loving it. I also recently bought The Perks of Being a Wallflower. It's been on my to-read list for about a decade so I'm excited to finally have it in my possession.

*I gave up on reading The Night Circus. I was enjoying the story but it was very slow moving.

*I really love this necklace.

*This picture makes me smile.

What around the internet are you loving?

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Spinach Pie

Jay's had a few vacation days this week and he kindly offered to blog for me. So, on Tuesday while he was making spinach pie (my favorite!!!) and watching a marathon of MSNBC (seriously, Chris Matthews is in my house more than I am), he kindly took some pictures and wrote this blog post.

What you'll need:
A day or two before making this, take the phyllo and frozen spinach out of the freezer and put in the fridge.  The morning of, take both out of the fridge to thaw, but don’t open the packages.  Put unopened spinach in a bowl, unless you like cleaning up spinach juice.

For the filling:

First, open the thawed frozen spinach and squeeze out (and discard) all of the excess spinach juice.  To the spinach we add 1 tbs. dill weed (if using fresh, a handful), 3 sections of garlic, (finely chopped) 4 green onions, and the 3 eggs.  Mix these all together and then crumble up the feta and add to the mixture and fold in. I like some good size hunks of feta in mine (Me too!-T).   This can go in the fridge for now.

Now you can preheat the oven to 375.  I hate it when you read a recipe, and the first thing it says is preheat the oven to such and such and then do some shit for an hour while your house gets hot, and you’re running up the power bill to feed some jerk-off’s ego.  I digress.

For the crusty goodness:

Melt the 2 sticks of butter in a saucepan, you may need more, depending on how heavy handed you get from here on out.  Take a pastry brush, and brush the bottom and sides of a 10 X 14 casserole with butter.  Start by laying 1 sheet of phyllo on the bottom of the pan (it should run up the sides a little) brush the phyllo with more butter. (You are gonna do this between each sheet, so you don’t need a lot). 

Each sheet has to be angled slightly from the previous sheet, or you will get a dough ball, instead of light crusty goodness.  Don’t believe me?  Ask Tammie and her mom. (He's right, many years ago my mom and I attempted this once. It was sad.  Also, don't try to be all 'healthy' and 'diet' and use cooking spray instead of butter.-T)  Repeat this process until about half of the phyllo is gone.  

Dump in the filling.

Flatten out in the pan.

Fold over the edges and brush with butter.

Repeat the process we did for the bottom, but fold the excess dough on the edges over top, and brush again.

After placing the last sheet, dump any leftover butter on top (Why not, You saving it for future use?) and brush it over the top and down the sides.  Then cut vent holes in the top.  This helps the sheets to separate when baking.

Bake it for about 30-40 minutes, until it looks like this:

Fight friends and family for a corner piece.
A super sexy close up:

Thank you Jay for taking the time to do all this! The spinach pie was delicious.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Pumpkin Patch

Even though we bought our pumpkins at the grocery store this year,  this past weekend we headed out to the pumpkin patch anyway. It just seems like the thing to do once autumn comes.

We always seem to end up on Sauvie Island, which is filled with farms, some small, some so large that their fall celebration seems more like a carnival. The first farm we went to was like that. It was the big one, the farm everyone heads to the island to go to. It was super crowded and there were a lot of people milling about sucking down sausages. I'm not gonna lie, we succumbed to various meats (the menfolk) and greasy elephant ears (me and a couple of crumb snatchers):

After our bellies were full (well, partially) we left and headed to the other side of the island to go to Krueger's Farm. Krueger's is my favorite and this is our second year going there. It's still really crowded but it has a laid back vibe. Monty calls it the hipster pumpkin patch. Whatever, I still love it. I think that if I were to live on a commune, I would want it to be with everyone at this pumpkin patch.

(It's going to be a sad day when the girl stops letting me pick her clothes. Her outfits put me in a good mood.)

Farm life:

Floppy haired boy band who reminded me of Mumford & Sons.
These guys were adorable and sounded great. I would have loved to have put them in my purse and taken them home with me. Sadly, kidnapping is frowned upon.

While Jay and Monty ate more meats and I sipped on a very dark beer, the girl ran through the flowers:

Lastly, the corn maze:

As you can see by some of these pictures, the grey skies and rain have come and I, of course, couldn't be happier. I feel renewed this time of year. I have more energy and creativity.I love Fall.

Monday, October 15, 2012

A Memory

Yesterday, in my review of Zombie Spaceship Wasteland, I mentioned that when my dad came home I'd go and hide out in my room for 12 hours.

That wasn't a lie. I can honestly and without hyperbole say that I remember having very little contact with my father throughout my teen years.

I know I've said this before but it bears repeating: My dad never hit me or abused me physically. 

He just didn't like me all that much. I wasn't pretty or compliant or exceptional in any way. I was simply disappointing.

There were two doors between my room and the living room: a sliding door that separated the living room from "my" half of the house, and then my bedroom door. When I saw my dad's truck pull into the driveway, I'd jump off the couch, turn the TV off, run to the kitchen to re-fill my Simpsons water bottle, and head to my room. Day after day, when my dad entered the house, I'm pretty sure that the first sight he saw was that first door slamming shut.

Here's the thing: I have a teenager, and if I came home everyday to him not only avoiding me, but putting up a physical barrier between to the two of us, I'd be concerned. 

My father wasn't. He never questioned it. He never knocked on either door. He didn't know what color my bed spread was, what my curtains looked like, or what posters I had hung on my walls. He was oblivious to the fact that every night I'd let the cat in through my window to sleep on my pillow.

My mom tried. She'd come in my room and we'd play Scrabble or watch sitcoms. But she was avoiding him too. She was probably disappointing as well.

My dad hasn't spoken to me in probably four years, not since I committed the ultimate disappointing act and officially told him I would never be one of Jehovah's Witnesses again. I don't know how he does it. I can't imagine actively making the choice to not speak to my children.

The weird thing is, I'm not really sad about this. Not any sadder than usual anyway. I think I mourned it all a long time ago when I realized as a teenager that my father didn't love me the way the other kids' dad's did: unconditionally.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Book Review: Zombie Spaceship Wasteland

Have I ever mentioned to you my long standing love for comedians? I remember coming home from high school in the early nineties, making a fresh pot of coffee, and turning on Comedy Central. Back then CC didn't have a lot of its own shows yet so the channel was basically a forum for Stand Up. I'd sit there watching the likes of (among others)  Janeane Garofalo, Marc Maron, and Patton Oswalt until my dad came home and told me to "turn off that crap." At that point I'd go to my room and hide out for the next 12 hours only to start the whole process over again the following day.

At this time, comedians really weren't thought of as celebrities. (Jerry Seinfeld had had his own show for a few years, but he was the exception not the rule.) So they seemed like real, normal people-only more observant and so much funnier. They appeared to be totally accessible and were this bright spot in my otherwise boring and sad, if not somewhat lonely, day.

Unfortunately, Comedy Central is not what it used to be and neither are comedians. They're all attractive and smug and want to be on The Daily Show or better yet, have their own show. So when I need my laugh I have to hunt down my favorites and get it in the form of podcasts, blogs, or a book. Which brings me to Zombie Spaceship Wasteland:
This is a difficult book to review because humor is so subjective. I thought it was funny and loved it. You might hate it.

I will say that the chapters where Oswalt is brave enough to write about real events from his life are the best. Whether it be working in a movie theatre, playing Dungeons and Dragons, or remembering his visits to an odd uncle, he writes about it in a way that is both poignant and funny.

The other chapters are the ones that might not appeal to everyone. I mean, while I thought the story of two vampires fighting over the same street corner in New Orleans was hilarious, you might not. If your idea of humor is a little dark and a little dry, then this is for you.

The bottom line: Would I recommend this book? Yes. Does that mean you'll like it? Not necessarily.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

A Journal Moment: Saturday October 13

Jay and I had some time to kill last night after we dropped the boy and his friend off to do the Friday-night-teenager-at-the-mall thing. Right now that is my least favorite thing about being the parent of a teenager-the dropping off, picking up, and the waiting that goes in between. I never know what to do with myself. Do I go home and come back? Do I hover within a few miles of where they are? If so, doing what? Most of the time I'd really rather just be home in my jammies.

We first went to Goodwill. The girl was excited because in her opinion, "Goodwill has the best toys." I find this hilarious since I work at a toy store and haul home some pretty awesome stuff on an almost weekly basis. But nope, Goodwill is where it's at. I think she's like her parents and enjoys the hunt. Those toys I bring home are too easy, there's no thrill. It's much more exciting to dig through six shelves of creepy dolls and half broken Fisher Price toys in the hopes of unearthing some treasure. Last night, the treasure was a brand new Webkinz dog with the super secret web code still attached. She was thrilled.

Afterwards we went to Powell's which has some great puzzles right now. A pretty sweet selection of Charley Harper and Edward Gorey. It was hard choosing just one. I may find myself headed back there sooner than I planned. Maybe someone will need to be dropped off at the mall.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Flashback Friday

I really do have a very good Best Friend. Knowing it's October and that I need something to write about, she kindly handed over a bunch of school photos for me to put on the internet and ridicule. She's my buddy though, so I'll be kind. Plus, it's not like I wouldn't do the same thing to myself. (Go here.)

Today we're discussing: Dawn circa 1986.
My initial plan was to send Dawn some fluff interview questions and stretch this thing out as long as possible. But Dawn was so forthcoming and her answers so interesting, that I didn't need to use the fluff questions or stretch it out at all.

Me: You're wearing a cross in the photo and I remember you told me you wanted to be a Nun at that time. Tell me more about this. Why did you want to be a Nun?

Dawn: I have no idea.  I don't think it lasted long but I remember my mom being concerned. She wanted me to get married and have kids and have a life.  She even talked to the priest's wife about it, who had been a Catholic Nun.  I spent a lot of time at the church.  I was very close to my mom.  She worked there as a bookkeeper. I even went to Episcopalian summer camp for a week after fourth grade.  I watched Superbook every morning before school.  I think I just wanted to be "good."  Who knows?  

I'm glad I was exposed to organized religion and I'm really happy my mom was so open about it all.  She didn't BS at all and being the only child, I was treated more like an adult than a child.  (Which has its pros and cons.) I'm glad she was open with me and I'm glad I was exposed to more than just one religion.  We didn't always go to church, but I remember always wanting to go,  probably because everyone else did.  I also remember one of my friends being Baptist and riding one of those big school buses to her church once.  I went to a Methodist vacation bible school one year.  I got a Kumbaya record.  And when I met you and were a Jehovah's Witness,  my mom was again very open with me.  As long as "they didn't try to kidnap" me. Ha!  We had just watched a Sally Jessie Raphael episode where that happened. You also gave me a Witness book once and I know I must have showed her, but she was still very open about it.  I didn't realize how lucky I was. Some parents would have freaked out.  

Me: How would you describe your religious beliefs now?

Dawn:  Hmmm.....this is hard!  Hopefully I don't offend anyone. No form of organized religion appeals to me.  It seems very "cultish" to me.  I didn't realize how lucky I was growing up, for awhile I was very religious.  I forgot how "into it" I was and it was right at the time this photo was taken. 

I did always question a few things though.  The hell concept always got me.  They were telling us how God and Jesus loved us so much, but if you weren't "good" you were going to hell.  Looking back, I'm glad its part of my life.  In a weird way, I'm proud to say I was an Episcopalian.  If I had to choose out of all the Christian religions, it would be that one.  They're definitely the most liberal I would think.  Growing up, I was embarrassed because no one had heard of it.  It was a funny name - you had to say E"piss"copalian.  Kids made fun of it.  All the cool kids were Catholic.  We were what you called "back door Catholics" ....I was an acolyte.  Dare I say, I was the "star" acolyte.  I was awesome.  

The Episcopalians were different because they allowed girls to do it.  I am now remembering that it was there too where I first learned the term "gay".  I remember my mom talking about the choir director or youth group leader and said he was "gay" and then I asked what that meant and all she said was "sometimes boys love other boys and some girls love other girls".  I kinda love that. 

But now, if I had to describe my religious beliefs, I would say "spiritual".  I definitely believe there is some sort of higher power.  I'm just really turned off from organized religion.  I don't know how people can blindly follow like that.  Just not my thing.  I feel like its taken such a long time to get to this point.  And I feel a bit guilty because I sometimes feel I'm letting my kids down a bit.  Not in not taking them to church, but because I'm anti-church.  So much so, just thinking of it hurts my stomach.  But I do want to guide them somewhat.  And because I feel like I'm just getting to that point in my life, its hard to explain in to them at their age.  Once in a while, but not so much now, they would come home from school and ask, "What religion are we? How come we don't go to church?" and I'm sure I just fumbled some answer out. It aggravated me that some kids at school were talking about it and they probably felt superior because they were "good and went to church." But that was probably me. I guess all I can do is answer any questions they have as honestly as I can.

There's an Episcopalian church within walking distance of my house.  I've thought of going a few times, just for kicks.  They had a public garden and I read some of the "god" stuff and I just couldn't do it.  For some reason, I just wanted to go and sit in the church, but I think deep down I just wanted to go and see if I would feel the way I used to feel.   

Me: As you know, my father wouldn't let me cut my hair and thought that short hair wasn't feminine. Your parents obviously felt quite different. Tell me about your hair in this photo.

Dawn: This is all so interesting.  I've never questioned any of this.  Maybe my parents were way cooler and progressive than I thought!  Hair length was never an issue in my house.  I had really nice normal "girl" hair until my mom decided to chop it right before kindergarten.  She claimed I never took care of it and the short hair was easier.  Looking back I must have had a very compliant attitude because I don't remember voicing an opinion one way or another.  Every now and then I would decide I was "growing it out" but it never lasted long and I would end up getting it cut short again. 

My mom wasn't very girly ~ I never learned how to "do" hair or braid or anything like that.  I do remember getting called a boy a lot (before I got boobs) so that was probably at this time.  I mean at random, it seems old men would come up to me in grocery and hardware stores and call me a seems weird.  And like I say, I'm finding this so interesting, because I don't know if I've ever thought of this.  When I think back, I think my mom just preferred short hair, and because I was so easy and compliant, that's the way it was:  I had short hair. And I just don't think my dad cared one way or the other. I do remember other people suggesting I should have long hair.  Perhaps this is why when I was older and had short hair, I never understood hairdressers or other people asking if my boyfriend or husband cared if I had short hair. I couldn't imagine being with someone who would tell you how you should have your own hair.  

Me: If you could give the fourth grade you any advice, what would it be?

Dawn: Don't worry so much about pleasing everyone and making sure they like you.  Think about if you really like THEM. And don't take that job at McDonald's when you turn 16. You can do better. Oh, and don't race your Honda Civic on the last day of school in the 10th grade.

Me: Do you mind if I transform your fourth grade photo into that of a child vampire?

Dawn:  Ha ha! No, not at all.

Thank you Dawn for letting me interview you! And I highly recommend that everyone interview their loved ones from time to time. You might find out something you didn't know.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Work Related Haiku

Work related Haiku. Idea blatantly stolen from the brilliant mind over at My Pet Blog.  Only hers are much better because she takes the time to write them in the moment, at work. Whereas I throw mine together late at night after drinking two glasses of wine and coming to the realization that I have nothing written for Thursday.

First kids in the door
Trashed the entire store and,
Then left screaming. Thanks.


I will overpay
For you to bring me coffee.
This is why I'm poor.


Nice UPS guy
Offered me Nordstrom boxes.
Only half joking.


Thirty doll boxes
Where am I gonna put them?
Oh well. Shift's over.


The boss has candy.
Her office door is open.
Candy is now gone.


And two more from Jay:

Three buses today
From a mental hospital
They all shopped my store.


We should wear all white
Then the customers today
Know we're orderlies.

Well, Jay wins. His day was officially worse than mine.

This was fun.  Don't be surprised if this becomes a new thing.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Cat Related Randomness

Don't be fooled by the handsome face. Chances are, he's thinking about being up to no good.

* Julius is spunky and fun and a great diversion, but he's no Isabelle. He doesn't smell, feel, or snuggle like Isabelle. I'm okay with that though. In fact, I'm mostly okay in general. There are moments, of course. Moments when I miss her so much that I feel it in my bones. But yeah, I'm mostly okay.

* I don't know what to do with Isabelle's ashes. They are in a lovely little tin on a shelf in my living room. I feel like I should do something special with them though. I like the idea of sprinkling them in with the potting soil of a large houseplant or container garden, but it would have to be something super hardy that wouldn't die. If I kill the houseplant Isabelle's ashes are buried in, it would be like losing her all over again. I was also given a small baggie with a bit of her fur in it. I haven't opened it though. I don't know if I want to feel it.

*The other morning I yelled for Lucy to get out of bed and I called her "Isabelle." That's a defining moment folks. That's a moment when you take stock of your emotional state and you tell yourself you need to get your poop in a group. I think ever since then I've been a bit more clear headed.

*I'm really thankful for all the people I've dumped on in the past few weeks. Not only here on the internet (I just can't say it often enough-my blog people are amazing and kind. Bloggers I hadn't heard from in months sent me email love), but also my two very good local friends Kim and Visty who have been over and have helped me deal. You know someone is a good friend and truly loves you when they don't mind that you have a very old, kinda smelly, cat living out her last few days just inches from your dining room table. They were gentle and respected the fact that Isabelle was (and still is) important to me. I only hope I can return the kindness when needed.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Cooper Mountain

We went hiking this past Sunday. It seemed like such a good idea at the time but after about a half hour in, nobody was really having a lot of fun. The rains haven't started yet and everything was still so dry and dusty. As much as I love Oregon, the deadness of their summers really bum me out. I'm ready for the rainy season.

I truly hate the way my son is dressed in the following picture. One more reason to look forward to cooler weather: no more teenage boys in tank tops.

The girl's clothes though? Love them!

The skyline was pretty, but again, everything was just so parched.

We had to take numerous breaks. The high was only 79 degrees that day, but it felt much warmer.

I'm not sure what I was expecting from Cooper Mountain, but I didn't expect it to look the way it did. But then again, the only other time I was there was back in January. (See here.)  What a difference a few seasons make.

Monday, October 8, 2012

My Neighborhood

I generally work five days a week but my days off vary from month to month. This month, I'm off every weekend. Sometimes I prefer my days off to be during the week because then it means more time to myself. Time for Jay and I to have a coffee date or just time to be alone and putter around cleaning, crafting, or whatever. But right now I'm enjoying the weekends off. The kids are home more and they're going through a phase where they are mostly pleasant to be around and I'm enjoying being near them.

This past Saturday I walked with the girl to the neighborhood park. As I sat watching her swing, I thought about how much I love my neighborhood.

Neighborhood Randomness:

*It's quiet, safe, and filled with kooky people.

*It's within walking distance of both of the kids' schools, the library, the grocery store, the skate park, the liquor store (just sayin') and the farmers market. I'm also close enough to ride my bike to work. I never have, but I could.

*The park is walled off on one side by wild blackberry bushes.
They're definitely thorny, but that doesn't stop me from taking their delicious fruit. There are actually quite a few spots in my 'burb where wild berries grow and people routinely pick them. At first this was a weird sight for me to see because in Florida there really is no such thing as fruit that grows wildly for public consumption. If you happen upon a fruit tree, it most likely belongs to someone and they don't want you picking from it. I'm used to it now though, and have nothing against public picking. I've done it before and will most likely do it again.

*There's a man in my neighborhood who rides a unicycle to work. He walks his daughter half-way to school, kisses her at the corner, then hops on his unicycle and goes on his way. The first time I saw this I wasn't quite sure what I was looking at. I had to see it one more time for it to register in my brain that the man was indeed on a unicycle. (Unrelated: We also used to have a neighbor who rode a Segway to work but I think he moved.)

Jay and I had never planned to stay in this apartment as long as we have. It was meant to be a stop gap measure while we settled into life in Oregon. But, three years later, here we still are. We've talked about moving many times (the major downside to where we live is that the apartment is small) but the list of Pros in favor of staying far outweighs the Cons, so for now anyway, we remain.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Crazy Hair Day

Last week was school spirit week at the elementary school, with Wednesday being Crazy Hair Day. The girl decided to go bright pink and sparkly. By Saturday, most of it had washed out, save for the small spot at the top of her forehead where I got distracted during the spraying process and pinked up her scalp.

I only wished I'd remembered to get a picture of her on pajama day when she wore her footie pajamas. When worn in public, footie pajamas can make you look as if you just escaped from the hospital.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Things You Probably Like, That I Hate

It's once again time for the list of Things You Probably Like, That I Hate.

*Modern Family. Oh hush! I know. I'm obviously in the minority here because this show wins tons of awards and everyone I know watches it and loves it, but I just don't see the appeal. The stories are unoriginal, the characters are all stereotypes, the jokes aren't funny, and if they are funny, they've been done before. Plus, this show does something SO MANY sitcoms do these days: They pair up an attractive, long suffering mother with a bumbling idiot dad. Why do people keep falling for this garbage? Do women watch this show and think, This is just like my life because my husband is retarded too! And are men thinking, My wife is hot and rolls her eyes at me just like the blonde lady on TV, I can relate! If so, then I feel really bad about the state of marriages in this country.

I hate to use the word 'offensive', but this show is almost offensive to me in its horribleness. Oh, and one more thing, having a couple of gay parents on your show does not make it "groundbreaking". Especially if you actually know gay people.  Or parents. Or people in general. Honestly, everything about this show just gives me the icks.

*Coldplay. And not just because the lead singer is married to Gwyneth Paltrow, who I would LOVE to see repeatedly being stabbed while she is simultaneously being burned to death in a car going over the side of a very tall bridge into shark infested waters. Their music is boring and that is a sin. I'm pretty sure that their song "Clocks" is 18 minutes long. (Note: A quick Google search reveals it to be 5 minutes 14 seconds. But it feels like 18 minutes.)

*Robert Downey Jr. I should like him. He seems like someone I would like. He's smug though and that makes me angry.

*Manicure pictures on Pinterest. I log on to Pinterest to look at cat pictures and recipes for foods I will never make. Get your nails off my internet.

*Fifty Shades. Again, people I love and respect adore these books. It was sexy at first, but got old real fast for me.

*The Mall. Back in the day, I used to love the mall and could spend all day there. But the thrifting in the Portland area is just too damn good and it's ruined me for mall prices. For instance, a few weeks back I went into Goodwill for the sole purpose of looking at work clothes. I bought a pair of J. Crew cords, three Gap sweaters, and two dresses. Everything was like new, barely worn. I spent $38. Now when I go to Nordstrom, the prices seem ASTRONOMICAL. (And don't even get me started on the stores that the boy wants to go in! The music is too loud, the store manager is 15 years old, and all the clothes are confusing and advertising bands or musicians I don't know. Nothing can make me feel older than I do when I escort my son to Hot Topic.)

*Cars and Driving. I drive most places because I have no choice, but I'd much rather walk. And fancy cars don't impress me at all.

*Puppy smell. I'm probably the devil. I just think it's weird and not good.

*Kate and/or Pippa Middleton. Neither of them seems very interesting or clever and while they are both attractive, it's a commonplace, everyday kind of attractive. I could go to the mall and find 20 women that look just like them. What's all the hubbub for?

What do you hate that everyone else inexplicably loves? And for more things I hate, go here.

Friday, October 5, 2012

In My Living Room Right Now

Reading Material.

For second graders:

For adults:

For teenage boys:

Shred into Fall everyone.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Book: The Tenth Good Thing About Barney

(I know I don't usually write about children's books, but this one was timely for me and I thought it was worth mentioning.)

A young boy is sad when his cat, Barney, dies. After his family and his friend Annie have a funeral and bury Barney, the boy and Annie have a discussion over where Barney is exactly. Annie, in a very well meaning way, insists that Barney is in heaven eating tuna and drinking cream. The boy says that Barney is in the ground.

They ask the boy's father to settle the argument.

Dad says, "We don't know too much about heaven. We can't be absolutely sure that it's there." He then leaves to go work in the garden because clearly he does NOT want to be having this discussion.

The boy follows Dad out to the garden where they plant seeds and talk about how things change underground, seeds turn into flowers and Barney will change too now that he's part of the garden.

The boy makes a list of things he loved about Barney, the tenth one being that Barney is helping the flowers grow.

I bought this book a few months back because I thought it might be good to have on hand for Lucy when the time came. For whatever reason, Lucy doesn't need a book. She's doing just fine on her own.

I still really like this book though and am glad that I bought it. When looking for children's books that deal with grief surrounding the death of a pet, I came across a lot of books mentioning that the pet would be in heaven. While that is wonderful if you believe that sort of thing, for those of us who don't, that notion provides little comfort.

In reading reviews for this book I found that most who didn't like it felt that way because it questioned the idea of heaven. The reasoning in this book is in line with my beliefs but I can understand that if you have been teaching your kids that heaven exists, this book probably isn't for you. While I see nothing wrong with occasionally stopping to question why we believe what we do, I totally get that the best time to do that might not be when a child is processing their feelings of grief.

People also didn't like the mental imagery of Barney being in the ground. They said it was too intense for small children. As one reviewer put it, "This book was great until you get to the tenth good thing about Barney, which is that he's fertilizer."

Personally, the fact that this book is so matter-of-fact is one of the things that I loved about it. Nothing is sugar coated and no false hope is given. It's just a family trying to help their son deal with his grief.

The sweetness and simplicity of this passage really speaks to me:

I told him [the Dad] I didn't like it that Barney was dead.
He said, why should I like it? It's sad, he said.
He told me that it might not feel so sad tomorrow.

One more plus: Barney was written by the amazing Judith Viorst, who also penned Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, a childhood favorite of mine.

I know that The Tenth Good Thing About Barney isn't for everyone, but it's a good addition to my kids' bookshelf in case I ever need it.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

ERMAHGERD: My New Best Friend

You may have already met her. She's pretty popular around the internet. But if you haven't had the pleasure of making her acquaintance, allow me to tell you about my new best friend and illustrate why we get along so well.

She has strong opinions about books:

She likes to drink:

She likes to dance and isn't afraid to show her curves:

Trips to Starbucks are a breeze since we both love the same drink:

She remembers my birthday:

We both love starchy comfort food:

I predict we will be BFF's for a very long time.

(The story of Ermahgerd can be found here.)