Thursday, July 18, 2013

Not Perfect

So.....this week we went to the beach. I love a lot about these photos. The grey skies, the horses in the first picture. I love the way my children are clearly conspiring in picture number two. She looks so little next to his teenage bigness. For a brief moment they got along. My boy, a handsome almost-adult. My girl, so kind and pretty.

What I don't love? Pretty much everything that happened after these photos.

She was cold. And sandy. And wanted to take a shower.

He wanted to eat. He's 15, he always wants to eat.

I wanted to sit on the towel and finish my book. Two days later, my book sits unfinished.

Jay wanted to walk to the big rock. He didn't make it.

I feel like these moments aren't mentioned enough. Those moments when you as a parent want everything to be perfect but yet they turn to shit. You have everything planned. You know how it's supposed to be. But then someone is too cold/tired/hot/wet/hungry/miserable/etc.

So you pile back in the car and turn up the radio because even if the song sucks at least you aren't hearing these jerks complain anymore.



You stop for Subway. Shitty, non-exciting Subway. Someone makes a joke about something silly and, for whatever reason, everyone ends up being in a good mood for the rest of the ride home. There are jokes, silliness, tickles, and Macklemore.

Was the day perfect or as I planned? No. Far from it.

But it wasn't a waste.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

It's Summer Again

I'm trying to make the most of summer, I really am. When I'm off of work I know I should play games and go to the pool and the park, and occasionally I do these things, but my heart isn't in it. It's just too hot, the sun is too bright, and the days are far too long. The fact that I hate it so much exacerbates the Mommy Guilt that I already have for being at work so much lately.

But I'm trying. I'm trying to be in the moment and notice all those little things that go hand in hand with summer. Monty had a friend spend the night last night and as I was taking him home this afternoon, driving down the country road he lives off of, I could smell lavender growing. It was so fragrant that I commented on it and my son's friend said, "Wow. It does smell like lavender." And for a brief moment I was happy to be in the car with my children and this boy, the wind blowing through our hair, all of us collectively enjoying the smell of lavender. 

I tried to not dwell on the fact that the reason our hair was blowing and we could smell the lavender in the first place was because the air conditioning in the Pontiac isn't working properly. I tried to not be aware of the feeling of the sun on my arm, and how my pasty white skin felt as if it would soon start to erupt in hot boils. 

The negativity got the best of me though and when we arrived back home I had wilted. There was nothing left. All energy and life had been sucked from me.

This weather makes it so hard for me to be me. I don't feel like myself. I can't focus and I struggle to be happy, funny, and creative. 

Case in point, I had intended for this blog to be about this skirt I made for the girl in an all too rare moment of lucid creativity. It's a piece refashioned from a dress of mine that I loved but replacing the broken zipper proved to be beyond my skill set. It's much easier to chop it in half and create something smaller and new.

It's moments like this, when I actually do or create something, that make me think I can get through this summer. Somewhere, deep beneath the sweat, I still exist. I'm just hibernating temporarily.

Fall and Winter will be here soon. Just not soon enough

(On the bright side, I'm ahead of the game for December. As the above picture shows, my Christmas lights are up.)

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Almost Summer

The kids have about ten more days of school. The end can't come soon enough for me. I have a hard time getting myself  up out of bed and out the door, much less two other people. Especially the youngest of the two, who has a morning disposition much like her mother's: unpleasant.

We have nothing planned for summer, but I'm sure the days will be full as soon we only have the work schedules to plan around. I foresee Tuesday hikes, impromptu trips to the beach on a Wednesday, or just lazy days spent not doing much of anything.

The weather here has still been cool, with highs barely reaching the sixties. The sun was out today though so after school I grabbed Lucy and her buddy for some pool action.

What the pictures don't show: Me wearing a sweater, lightweight scarf, and my fuzziest boots. 

I don't mind. Come August, I'll be praying for the day I can put my fuzzy boots back on.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

What I've Been Reading Lately

So......I've only read eight books so far this year, which surprises me because I feel like I've been reading pretty regularly. Just reading slower than usual I guess. If this pace continues I'll end the year with my lowest book total in the six years I've been keeping track of titles.

Since I hardly ever write about books anymore, I thought I'd take a few moments to mention the eight (seriously, it's almost June! EIGHT?!) books I've read this year.

*Gone Girl

This book about a husband who may or may not have killed his wife was fantastic. In fact everything Gillian Flynn writes is nothing short of amazing.  Flynn's three books have changed me and if you read nothing else ever, please read them. I'm forever in debt to Daphne for first introducing me to this brilliant author.

*Portlandia: A Guide for Visitors

I love the show and I love Fred and Carrie. I enjoyed the book but I don't know if I would have liked it as much if I didn't live in Portland. At times it just felt like a re-hashing of the show.

*Girl with a Pearl Earring
I always say that I hate historical fiction, but then I read some and find out that it's not so bad. This was read for book club and I did like it, but I would have liked more of it. It ended with me feeling unfulfilled.

*The Language of Flowers
Victoria, a young girl who's aged out of the foster care system, finds a job with a florist and uses her knowledge of floriography to create magical bouquets that have the power to change the lives of those who receive them. Meanwhile, Victoria works to clean up the mess she's made of her own life.

Chick lit is another genre that I like to say I hate, but then I read something beautiful and well written and I'm forced to change my opinion. The Language of Flowers was a book club book although we never had the meeting to discuss it. Sadly, book club is in limbo right now since the general consensus is that most of us find one member hard to be around. I think I might need to find (or create) a new book club.

*The Almost Moon

I enjoyed The Lovely Bones and had high hopes for this book by Alice Sebold about a woman who murders her dying, abusive mother. But the story dragged and I found myself skimming through most of it.

*Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls
Yay for David Sedaris! His last book was a huge, sad disappointment that made no sense to me. This is classic Sedaris and I loved it. I was so excited when Peggy sent me this book along with a box from Godiva. Chocolates and a book? Yes please.

*Attempting Normal

I LOVED this book. But, as mentioned before (in this post), I've loved Marc Maron for a long time. When I was in high school I sent away for an autographed picture. At that time he hosted a show on Comedy Central called Short Attention Span Theatre. About a year ago I found that photo, scanned it, and emailed it to Maron. His response? "Wow." That sort of thing is thrilling to me. But yeah, I loved this book, I love his podcasts, and I love his show on IFC. For what it's worth, Jay likes him too, so I'm not just being a crazy fan. But I am a crazy fan.

*Dad is Fat

I like Gaffigan. Jay and I saw him in Miami once and we laughed until our sides hurt. The book was okay but I didn't love it, but that was most likely because I read it immediately after reading the Maron book. Sorry Jim, I'm a Maron gal all the way.

So that's what I've been reading.

 I recently started I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell (sexist, misogynistic, maybe racist) and The Joy Luck Club. It's an odd mix, I'll admit.

Saturday, May 25, 2013


A few weeks ago I received a phone call from the Family Liaison at Lucy's school. Lucy's teacher had expressed some concern that she might need glasses. Lucy had been squinting and she had more than once asked the teacher to make things bigger on the overhead projector.

Let me say straight off that not only do I love that Lucy's teacher was so on top of this situation and cared enough to let me know, but I'm also pleased that there even is someone known as a Family Liaison. But when a stranger calls to tell you something about your child that you probably should know but don't, you get a sinking feeling. Oh. My child is slowly going blind? I had no idea. At that point you know not to check the mail for your Mother of the Year award because it won't be coming anytime soon.

The fact that this phone call coincided with the start of  my new job, a job with different, at times, longer hours, made me feel even worse. Then I started to mentally play the 'Let's List All The Ways I'm A Failure as A Mother' game. A game where there are never any winners. Does the second guessing of every parenting decision ever stop?

Anyway, an appointment was made with the eye doctor and frames were picked out. Lucy was a little upset that they didn't have any with flames on the sides, but she's still pleased with her choice.

In the car on the way home, Lucy kept talking about how clear and crisp everything was and at one point she exclaimed, "The trees look so much more beautiful now!"

I'm an incredibly imperfect parent, but if I can occasionally help to make the world more beautiful for my child, then I guess I'm doing an okay job.

Friday, May 24, 2013

The Phone Call

(Note: In case you weren't here for chunks of this story, I used to be one of Jehovah's Witnesses but haven't been for a while. My dad still is. In his eyes, by leaving the organization, I committed the highest sin. He hasn't spoken to me in quite some time. I've written more about this in these posts.)

Today my mom called me to tell me that my dad had called her to inquire about me and the family. Well, me and the kids. He doesn't really care about Jay because he's still convinced that Jay is the reason I'm no longer one of Jehovah's Witnesses. Which isn't true. I was having doubts about the religion long before I mentioned anything to Jay. It's also sad that my dad thinks so little of me, thinks I'm so simple and unable to think for myself, that I would let someone else influence such an important part of my life. As Jay said this afternoon, "Wow. He really doesn't know you at all." No, he doesn't.

Anyway, my mom's conversation with him went something like this:

Mom: Hello.
Dad: Can you tell me anything about Tammie and the kids? Are they dead?
Mom: Wow. That's kind of rude.
Dad: Well, they never answer any of my calls.
Mom: I don't know what to tell you. Sometimes they don't answer my calls either. Tammie works.

The conversation continued with my father listing all the many ways in which I have hurt him. Basically, it's a list of one thing: Me no longer having the same beliefs as him. Because me going on with my life and living it as I choose is clearly a personal attack aimed at him.

For what it's worth my father has called me twice in the past three years. The first time, about 2 1/2 years ago, was because Monty accidentally called him when meaning to call a friend. Upon realizing his mistake he just hung up. My dad called back, Monty answered and said, "Oh sorry Grandpa, I didn't mean to call you. I meant to call someone else." According to my mom, that interaction hurt my dad's feelings, although for the life of us we can't figure out the reasons why. But I'm sure they are illogical. What adult gets upset by the actions of an otherwise well-meaning 12 year old?

His second call came about a month and a half ago. The timing of it coincided with the annual Memorial Meeting at the Jehovah's Witness church. It's a big deal. I knew why he was calling-to nag me about going. No, I didn't answer that call. My mom mentioned it in her chat with him today. He was quiet, so I guess my assumption was correct.

To my mom's credit, she remained calm and reiterated that we are busy people and don't always answer phone calls right away. She then told my dad that he needed to stop acting like a martyr and maybe just try to be nice. To which he yelled into the phone, "Don't you tell me how to act!"

Hmmmm. Why am I not answering his phone calls? WHY do I NOT want to be a part of this conversation?

I have a lot of valid reasons to not want to have a relationship with my father. He wasn't around a lot when I was growing up, basically relying on my mom to maintain any kind of parent/child relationship. He was never truly supportive of anything I've done. He never did anything in his power to make me feel good about myself and he raised me in an organization that thinks women are second class citizens.

But I'm over all of that. Really. On an average day I don't even think about any of it. I have a full life.  I have kids and a husband who I love and enjoy being around. I have a job that has the potential to be the career I've longed for. I have hobbies, go to book signings, have lunch dates with friends, and occasionally I'll sit in a bar and drink a few whiskey sours and stare at Canadian rock stars.  I'm fine. I'm happy.

I truly am at a point in my life where I could overlook all my father's past wrongs. If they were in the past. Therein lies the problem. His conversation with my mom proves that nothing has changed. I don't know if I need any of that in my life.

I guess it dosn't matter anyway. Before my parents ended their phone call, my father said that he was "done trying." Because apparently two weird/loaded phone calls in 3 1/2 years constitutes proper effort.

It is what it is. 

Friday, May 17, 2013

Hanging With the Band

Last Saturday night Jay and I had a date night and concert tickets to see Born Ruffians. Here is a bulleted list of the evening.

*We arrived at the venue about two hours before the show was to start. Fashionably overeager and mega-early, that's how we roll.

*As we waited in line for our place to open, we looked across the street at the (considerably larger) crowd waiting to get into the Sara Bareilles concert. Sorry Sara,  Ruffians fans are hipper.

*Once in, we headed to the bar because of all the time we had to kill. While Jay was ordering our drinks from the salty bartender, I was trying to not be a dork-wad-Mcspaz-a-tron over the fact that THE BAND was at a table near us. Jay later tried to covertly take a picture. It only sort of worked.

*As noted in the picture, Mitch came and talked to us. Not really because we are exceptionally fabulous  and rock stars want to be near us, but because our table was close to the bar. While Mitch was talking to us, Luke came to the table to bring Mitch his beer. I could have pinched his tiny little butt. I didn't though. Not gonna lie, kinda regrettin' it.

*Also noted in the picture: I'm pretty sure we were the oldest people there. When Mitch was at our table I said, "Be honest, are we the oldest people in this room?" He looked around and said," Nah, but even if you were, that just means you're the coolest." He was totally lying but I'll take what I can get.

*Once the concert began, it was loud and fun and young and I felt alive. As a mom, I sometimes don't feel alive. In fact I feel as if my life is being sucked from me. It's good to return to the land of the living every once in a while.

*You can never escape being a mom though. There was a girl dancing next to me. She was fun and a little dorky. All I could think about was how I wished Monty could meet a girl like her. That's just what moms do.

*Even though Jay and I didn't fall asleep until after 2 and we both had work the next day, all I could think about was how we need to do stuff like this more often.

I always think that. Every time.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Mother's Day

I don't really love Mother's Day. Every Mother's Day I've ever celebrated has been kind of a disappointment. (Side Note: Jay's Father's Days are shit also. Sorry Jay. I just never know how to make them special.) I always build it up in my head to be this day of relaxation where everyone does everything for me and it never works out that way. I end up washing dishes, the laundry still needs to be cleaned and folded, and inevitably I have to referee a sibling fight. This Mother's Day was no different. It's fine really, I was expecting it so it was ok. But you know what I really want for Mother's Day? To stop being a mother. Not long term of course, but for that one 24 hour period. Or maybe even just those 12-18 awake hours. I'd use that time to sleep, eat alone, drink wine at one in the afternoon, listen to my favorite songs uninterrupted, read chapter upon chapter of whatever book I'm into, watch a TV show with a lot of curse words, you get the idea.

My day really did get better though. Jay made the kids get their shit together and we went and ate french fries in the park. There was extra ketchup and no fighting, which is all I need. Afterwards I made brownies with Lucy and just chilled out. Work called, wanting to know if I'd be interested in coming in. I wasn't.

Later in the evening Jay and I went to Powell's to see Marc Maron. I've loved him since high school and was super excited to see him in person. We were in the second row. Close enough to see all the good details (jewelry, footwear, the variations in beard color, etc) but not so close that I'm forced to make constant eye contact with minor celebrity. (By the way: Maron's book is raw, funny, and real. Get it.)

I didn't wait around to get my book signed. I did not-so-covertly take a picture though.

As far as Mother's Day goes, next year I'm setting my expectations low. If it ends up being fabulous, yay. If not, it's just another day that I didn't die a violent death. Also, yay.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Random Thoughts

* My first few shifts at work have been spent doing research. Hours spent in the back room at my new job reading books, watching videos, and taking quizzes. The new job is pretty strict about the amount of knowledge it expects. Which isn't a bad thing, I'm up for the challenge. But it's been intense. At my last job I had reached the point where I could solve most problems with my eyes closed. It was a no brainer.  So, 'the challenge', while fun and exciting, is also draining. I like it when I reach the point in a job when I know everything. That's a good feeling.

*My new job requires that I wear black. Head to toe, black. This is tough for me because I've spent my lifetime avoiding black. Being the animal lover that I am, I'm pretty much covered in hair that is not my own at any given moment. Not only from my own beloved pets, but from any random scabies covered animal I happen to come across. Plus, have you been shopping lately?! NEON everywhere. It's horrible. Acquiring an ample work wardrobe has also been a challenge.

*Jay and I are going to a Born Ruffians concert next Friday. It doesn't start until 9. I might have to nap earlier in the day. Because I'm old.

*The other day I was joking with Monty, calling him a jerk and saying that he wasn't very nice. He THEN related a story of how a while back he bought, with his own money and by his own initiative, a bag of Taco Bell burritos for the homeless man who panhandles near the grocery store closest to our house. Hello?!!? What?! This is the kind of stuff I'm preaching about all the time! Appreciate that you are so lucky in so many ways and then just be good to other people. The fact that some of what I nag about is sinking in and my self obsessed teenager might actually be a nice person, almost brings tears to my eyes.

Friday, April 26, 2013


Today was my last day working at the toy store.

I start the new gig this weekend.

I had been searching for a new job for about six months now, although the search got considerably more active within the last two months. There is a lot about my old job that I loved but I could no longer ignore the complete lack of opportunity for upward mobility. When you take ten years off to be a stay at home mom, any career goals you have will take the hit, and I don't have time to waste staying in one place, spinning my wheels. I have places to go people. There are many steps between Toy Store Worker and Secretary of State. Shit, I have a lot of work to do.

There are other reasons too, but really they aren't important. If I had stayed and voiced my feelings and thoughts, it wouldn't have mattered or helped. Jay and I have been discussing this for months and he made a great point when he more or less said, "All of these things you have issues with, there's nothing you can do about them. They aren't going to stop and people aren't going to change, so at this point, it's a YOU problem and the best thing to do is to just remove YOURSELF from the equation."

Which is what I'm doing.

I'm really, really excited about the new job. I had interviews with four different people before being hired so just the fact that I got the job at all makes me feel pretty great about myself. I would have thought that somewhere between interviews one and four I'd have said or done something to take myself out of contention, but I didn't! I managed to not fuck up four times in a row! The company offers a lot of room for professional growth plus I think that it's just a good fit for me. I'm at the point in my life where I want a career, not just a job.

Onward and Upward!


A few recently snapped photos.......

Cinnamon pine cones (Christmas year round, bitches!), a birdhouse made by the girl in her after school gardening club (topped by a bird made for me long ago by Hester, and a lovely blue jar found while antiquing with Visty. (I've written about the vase before, made by Catherine Reece.)

A Carter/Mondale poster purchased for Jay at the aforementioned antique shop. Jay's a huge Carter fan.

Lucy playing with Julius. Julius is all boy and tons of fun. He's no Isabelle of course, but he's sweet and fun. He's furry family.

Ants! I bought this ant farm mainly for the girl but the entire family has become smitten with it. Who knew that watching ants at work would be so relaxing? (This photo was taken two days ago. Numerous tunnels have been dug since then. Ants are busy, yo.)

I've been trying to do that more, bringing my camera with me when I go places, or even just remembering to grab it at home before a moment is lost. Life has been happening fast lately and I feel as if, even though I'm an active participant, I'm still missing something. I need to be better at documenting it all.

A few favorite things I don't have pictures of:

* Drinks last night with co-workers. Ladies who, after tomorrow, will be ex co-workers. As displeased as I've been lately with my work situation, these two gals have kept me sane. I'm excited about my new job, but I will so miss seeing these two on a regular basis.

*John Hodgman! Jay and I went and saw him last month. So fun. We really need to do stuff like that more often. As much as I scoff about the cost, I never regret a Date Night.

*Salt and Straw.  Odd flavored ice cream. (Pad Thai Iced Tea? Delicious!)

*Kornblatts Deli. The best bagels in town and a Seinfeldian menu. I must go back for the "Big Salad."

Monday, April 22, 2013

Monday, April 22

When I mention to people that I have a blog, or more specifically blog friends, they get this strange look on their faces and I immediately know what they're thinking. They have an image of me at a computer chatting with a bunch of boring people who can't get friends in real life. This couldn't be further from the truth. My blog friends are all smart, funny women with jobs or interesting hobbies and skills. They are strong women who focus mindfully on the good times and never stop fighting through the bad times. I've been lucky enough to have a relationship with a lot of these women outside of the internet, either meeting them in person or communicating via letters, phone calls, or packages, and would love to be able to one day say that I've met all my blog friends. They are people I've chosen, and more importantly who have chosen me, because over the course of time it's been clear that in some way we connect.

This weekend one of my blog friends passed away. Late last year she found out she was sick and her doctors only gave her three months to live. She fought hard and lasted six.

Even though she hadn't blogged in over a year, we were able to stay in touch through the magic that is Facebook. I'm struggling with how to deal with this loss. Obviously I'm not grieving in the same way her family is, but I'm still feeling her absence and dealing with the sadness that goes with it.

Five years ago, when we first "met", I immediately connected with her because she was funny, brave, independent, and totally honest about who she was. She was the type of person I hoped to be.

Everyday I still strive to be that person. Now I have to try even harder, because there is one less awesome person like that on the planet. I have big shoes to fill.

Rest in Peace my Ducky friend. You will be missed.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

An Open Letter to Old Navy

Dear Old Navy:

After having been lucky enough to avoid you for the last few years, I've recently found myself darkening your doorstep twice in one month. Once to shop for inexpensive black clothes for a job I'll be starting soon, and the second time was to find a dress for my daughter. Both times I found what I was looking for. Sort of. I mean, I really didn't. I settled. Every time I walk through your doors I think, "I'm not going to find the exact thing I want here, yet I will still probably buy something." Maybe you can make that your new motto: Old Navy. You'll leave disappointed, but not empty handed! Feel free to use that in a commercial with Jennifer Love Hewitt.

When I was looking for black clothing I found a cute pair of pants but then flipped over the price tag and saw that it read $34.50. HA. I literally laughed out loud in the store, and in my head I thought, "Yeah, that is not gonna be happening." If I'm going to overpay at a store, it's not going to be at Old Navy. I will go somewhere else and pay $30 MORE to NOT be wearing Old Navy pants. Here's the thing, I will never, ever, EVER, pay more than $24.50 for anything at your store, and if your sales rack is any indication, neither will anyone else on the planet. So, just stop. STOP. No one thinks they are getting style or quality at Old Navy, so just be the dollar store you know you are. That being said, I have another new motto for you! Can't afford to dress for the job you want? Forced to dress for the job you have? Old Navy has you covered.

Moving on..........

Your visual merchandising. Or lack of it. I would love, love, love to be a fly on the wall during a meeting of your visual merchandisers. I imagine it would go something like this:

Clueless Corporate Old Navy Person #1: Yeah, um, we're about to send out the new merchandising plans to all the stores. What important info should we pass on this season?

Clueless Corporate Old Navy Person #2:  Well, once they've dressed all the creepy mannequins, just tell them to open up boxes and start throwing clothes, completely un-ironed of course...

Clueless Corporate Old Navy Person #1: OF COURSE!!!

Clueless Corporate Old Navy Person #2: the direction of the walls. Hopefully it will land on the rack, but if not, whatever. Just remind the employees to not step on them as they are walking around actively avoiding customers.

Clueless Corporate Old Navy Person #1: Sounds like a plan! Work done!  Wanna go shopping?

Clueless Corporate Old Navy Person #2: Not at Old Navy.

Clueless Corporate Old Navy Person #1: Dude, of course not.

Once I've resolved to buy whatever inferior product I've been halfheartedly carrying around, I make my way to the checkout section of the store, which inevitably, is being manned by one completely ineffectual person. During the twenty minute wait in line, I'm forced to look at all the junky toys and video games that now litter your checkout lanes. Why, Old Navy? WHY!?!? Have you never been shopping with children? I've already lived through the hellish experience of shopping in your store with a child and I'm seeing the light at the end of the tunnel when I hear, "MOM!!! They have Kirby's Epic Yarn! Will you get it for me? Mom?! Mom!? MOM!? MOOOOOOOOMMMMMMM!"

I'm on to you Old Navy. I know you think that it's a good idea to have these add-ons near the register where my resolve is weakened. I've been in your store for eons, I'm tired and sad and clearly my life isn't going well (because I'm in Old Navy.) You think that I'm going to buy this overpriced shit just to shut my kid up. I'm not. Her whining doesn't bother me. I don't even hear it anymore. You're wasting valuable merchandising real estate on these items that I'm absolutely not going to purchase. The only thing you're really doing is giving me yet another reason to not return.

In conclusion, I do think that Old Navy could be a decent store, but it's gonna take a lot of work and I don't know if you have the energy for it. It might be easier to just to die, in which case, no one would blame you. For my part, I will assist in your suicide by no longer shopping at your store.

Feel free to contact me if you want to use the clever mottos I came up with. Contact me for information on where to send payments. Please note though, I don't accept Old Navy gift cards.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Parent/Child Dance

Tonight was the parent/child dance at Lucy's school.

Earlier in the week when I had a day off, I spent a large portion of it looking for a dress, one "with sequins that looked like a disco ball." I found one at Nordstrom but it was $45.  Eh. I carried it around for a bit before coming to my senses. After about six stores I braved Old Navy. (Seriously, it was bravery. I should win a medal.) I found this striped number with the pink tassels and, knowing it wasn't even remotely what Lucy requested, I bought it anyway.

When Lucy came home from school she saw the dress and proclaimed, "It will be perfect for the dance!!!!"

I've been doing this parenting thing for a while now so at this point I knew better than to point out that this particular dress didn't shimmer like a disco ball. I smiled and said, "Good! I'm glad you like it."

Jay and Lucy were at the dance for about an hour and a half before coming home. Apparently all of Lucy's favorite songs had been played so there was no reason to stay.

(As a side note, Jay told me that while Lucy was rocking the hula hoop, he danced all by himself to Dancing Queen. Because he's awesome.)

Monday, April 15, 2013


"Take care now--that last risk you took had hidden costs."

How did the horoscope on the Yahoo! homepage know that I recently got a $260 ticket from a traffic camera for not coming to a complete stop before making a right turn on red?

It's been a stressful couple of months:

There was the above mentioned ticket, which made me weep for days. Not just because of the cost, but because I've now ruined the perfect driving record I've had for nearly two decades.

I was sick for about three weeks, the sickest I've been in my adult life. When I finally broke down and went to the doctor I had a sinus infection, bronchitis, and a little bit of pneumonia thrown in for fun.

I've been job hunting, which, even under the best of circumstances, is never fun. But when you're doing it while being sick, it's even worse. On the day that I got my ticket, I was on my way to a job interview, had just finished working all day with my least favorite co-worker, and I had a fever of 102.6. Still the traffic camera took no pity on me.

What the heck?! Did the month of March not get the memo that this was to be The Year of Tammie?

But.....the ticket will get paid, I'm healthy again, and the job thing has worked out (more on that in a future post), so now that March is over I'll forgive it for dumping on me in such an unfriendly manner.

Let The Year of Tammie resume.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Long Time No See

Where have I been?

I fluctuate between having time but nothing to write about and something to write about and no time.

And then I feel like a loser because there is so much that I could have written about but never did. I never finished writing about California, and I really should because the trip was so wonderful and I think about it often. I haven't bragged about Monty making the honor roll or the fact that Lucy gets more and more independent every day and how I love the big girl that she's becoming. I haven't written about the books I've read, the movies I've seen, or the places that I've been. I didn't tell you that I lost track of where I parked the car in the most confusing parking garage in Portland when I went on a job interview for a job that I didn't get. I haven't mentioned how I'm always on the lookout for a new job because I read somewhere recently that "A man is not a financial plan" and that has stuck with me and further reinforced the fact that I need to be able to support myself and the kids.

I've just been living my life.

But I miss this space. The majority of my internet time used to be spent blogging now it's spent on Facebook or Pinterest. Hopefully this is all just a phase.

(All of the above photos were taken at a local wildlife refuge that is just minutes from our apartment. Scenery wise, it's not my favorite, but I do enjoy the ease of getting there and the fact that we can work in a quick hike before the kids get pissy. No one likes pissy kids. Plus, the fact that they have parking for hybrid vehicles makes me feel special.)

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Sunday January 13

Winter has officially arrived. I think the high today was 28, which is pretty cold for us. Jay was at work and the boy piled on a bunch of clothes and went to the skate park, so it's been just me and the girl at the home front.

We puttered around all day, each doing our own thing, until late in the afternoon when she and I (and both pets) decided that Mom and Dad's bedroom was the place to be, what with its comfy bed and access to sunlight.

Quickly it became obvious that she wasn't going to let me take a nap, so we listened to music, played board games, created with fake snow, and just lazed around.

Now she's watching TV and I'm snacking on rum balls left over from the holidays.

For most of my life, I hated Sundays. It wasn't until recently that I realized my hatred for the day stemmed from the fact that I was forced, first by my parents, later by my own fear and sense of obligation, to go to church.

Once you take away that burden, Sundays can be pretty sweet.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Giving Back

After the initial shock of the car fire of Christmas 2012 wore off, Jay and I had to decide what to do next. Do we get another cheap, used car from another cash strapped college student? Do we get a more expensive used car from a dealership? Do we get a brand new car and go back into the realm of real car payments?

In the end, we decided on the brand new. Our other family car, while still awesome, (and I will always love it for safely moving our family to Oregon!) is getting up there in years and really, is it so wrong to have two reliable cars? (Let's not even mention the fact that my son will be learner's permit age in 7 months and we'll then have three drivers in the house. Sweet Jesus.)

So we have this brand new car, the car I've always wanted. The car I've dreamed of owning. It's so quiet, gets amazing mileage, smells wonderful, and it's really freaking cute. I get into it, push the button that starts it, and I feel like Fancy Tammie. (Seriously, it starts with the push of a button. When did this Jetson technology become a real thing? ) Honestly, the fact that I have this car is more shocking to me than the fact that my last car burned in front of my home while all of my neighbors watched.

And....then I feel guilty. I don't deserve this. How did I get so lucky? How did I end up living in this place I love, with this funny, wonderful, husband and these two crazy kids that I actually kind of like being around? I have great, sweet friends and a fun job and now I get to drive this car too?

I don't have answers to those questions. Hard work? Sure, we're hard workers. But six months ago we were hard workers and I was driving a much less amazing car. Also, a lot of people work hard. We aren't that special. Luck? Maybe. I don't really believe in that sort of thing, but who am I to say how or why things happen? I'd like to think that it's just the ebb and flow of things. Sometimes good things happen. Sometimes bad things happen. There are ups and downs. It's life.

But at this moment in my life I'm thinking more about what I can do to give back. If I get to be as happy as I am, I should try to make life happy for others, even if it's just for a little bit. So, I'm curious, how do you all give back? Because the more people I talk to, the more I realize that there are so many of you out there like me, average people of average means, wanting to do better, be kinder, and give more.

Here are some of the ways Jay and I have been giving back:

*Volunteering at the kids' schools. Obviously the easiest of volunteer options because our kids are there and we like them.

*Blessing Bags, although Jay and I prefer to call them Care Packages. Basically you fill a large Ziploc bag with items that a homeless person might need: toothpaste, high protein foods, dental floss, tissues, etc. Keep these bags in your car and when you spot someone who looks like they could use one, you hand it to them. Jay's handed out quite a few (my commute takes me in the opposite direction of those who need this sort of thing) and has been met with nothing but positive responses from recipients.  (This website has a great list of items for care packages.)

*Volunteering for causes we care about. Another no brainer. But it's so simple to go, I'd love to volunteer with XYZ, and then just never do it.  This past election season, Jay rocked this and I'm totally proud of him.

*The Food Bank. Oh My God. I went to our local food bank with a friend's Girl Scout Troop and it was such an eye opener. Here's the thing: Shit happens and anyone of us could need the Food Bank at anytime, and the fact of the matter is that a lot of people do. If I ever need it, I hope there is more on the shelves than creamed corn and cranberry sauce left over from Thanksgiving. Jay and I try to pick up an item or two whenever we get groceries and when we have enough to fill a bag, we drop it off. It's truly a drop in the bucket, a small thing, but it's what we can do. (I think about this one a lot. Like, if I needed the food bank and there was nothing on the shelves that my kids would eat, how awful would that be? Because of this, I try to buy kid friendly foods, even though they aren't always the healthiest. Also, toilet paper. Food Banks need toilet paper!)

*Writing a check. This is the hardest for me because it's money leaving my account in a way that I can very clearly see. Money that I could easily spend on something fun. But I still try to do it a few times a year. I have silly rules about this one. For instance, if I can afford to spend a certain amount of money at Whole Foods (because they are stupid expensive), then I should, in turn, give money to the Portland Rescue Mission or another worthy cause. ( Like this one.) The key, I think, is finding causes that mean something to you or that you want to support, then it becomes easier.

Again, the things I've mentioned aren't major. None of them hit us really hard, but they are small ways that we can do good. Here are other ways:

*Visty's latest post about her time in Africa just made me ache.

*Maria Rose always has good ideas for Random Acts of Kindness. She's the master.

Tell me, how have you been giving?

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Sutro Sam

When I was in California, one of the places Daphne took me to was the Sutro Baths. The baths were a privately owned swimming pool complex that burned down in the sixties.
The remains are rocky, uneven, and somewhat scary. But so, so pretty.

As we were climbing over the remains, we saw the cutest little otter:

We watched him swim back and forth through the wreckage of the various baths. He would grab some grass in his mouth and swim beneath the remains, obviously building some type of sweet otter home.

Daphne and I must have watched him for at least 15 minutes. As we were walking away, he swam to the edge and popped his head up as if to say, "Hey, where ya going? Come back and watch me some more." So we did. Daphne and I are both total animal lovers so we aren't above talking to them as if they are people. Clearly, this otter wanted to hang with us some more.

The funny part about this story is that Daphne sent me this article the other day from the San Francisco Chronicle. Apparently our otter (as we call him) is the first otter seen in this area in decades and they've nicknamed him Sutro Sam. On the Sutro Wikipedia page, it reads, "A river otter nicknamed 'Sutro Sam' was spotted at this location in December 2012."

Well, if you want to get picky, Daphne and I FIRST spotted him in early November. He's our otter, after all.