Wednesday, December 19, 2007

How do you add more joy to Christmas?

How about an endometrial ablation on Christmas Eve?

After bleeding 48 of the last 60 days and taking ten days worth of medication that did nothing to help it has become apparent that something more must be done. And.. since our insurance is changing to an incredibly crappy plan January 1st I really need to do it now. I'll be working extra hard in the next few days to complete all of my Christmas tasks plus pack for our trip to California. There will be no last minute wrapping in the wee hours of Christmas morning. Getting old really sucks.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Seven Random Things About Me...

MS Teacher has tagged me with this Meme. I've done it before but I'm random enough that it shouldn't be a problem to do it again. I think I will do a theme this time.

Here are the rules:
- Link to the person that tagged you and post the rules on your blog.
- Share 7 random and or weird things about yourself.
- Tag 7 random people at the end of your post and include links to their blogs.
- Let each person know that they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

Seven Random Things About Gina: The Pet Edition

1 - When I was born my Grandparents had a dog named Davette who adopted me as her own. When I was two I bit her nose.. then she bit mine. I've never bitten a dog again.
2- When I was seven I loved to catch lizards and keep them in my doll house. I never figured out if they escaped during the night or if my Mom snuck in and released them.
3- When I was ten I had a pet rock but I never really bonded with it. I think it ran away (or maybe my Mom released it.)
4 - When I was twelve I had a pet rat named Gabriel. I named him after Gabe Kaplan, the handsome star of Welcome Back Kotter. What a dork I was.. I didn't even notice John Travola who also starred in that show.

5 - Gabriel helped me win first prize at the Santa Clara County Science Fair. My project was Sleep Deprivation. I'm not sure who was actually more sleep deprived, the rat, me, or my poor mother who was stuck with the rat in her bathroom with the lights on all night for a month. She didn't release him though..
6 - I have an almost hairless cat named Jack. He's a Cornish Rex, he's an idiot and he's always cold. But man does he have personality!
7 - My children wanted hermit crabs. I let them buy hermit crabs. Then I started researching hermit crabs and discovered that if they are well taken care of they can live up to 25 years in captivity. The kids lost interest the first time they got pinched but I suffer from a very complex guilt complex that requires me to do everything I can to make sure these little guys are happy. I will probably have hermit crabs for the rest of my life.
*Bonus* I can't leave out Gracie.. She's eleven months old and spoiled rotten.

Now.. who do I tag??? Eeeny Meeny, Miney, Mo....

Author Mom with Dogs
Cupcake at A Truth Universally Acknowledged
Jenny at Chased By Children
Nicole at You Have Got to be Kidding
Professor J
Nikki at Rural Writings
Anne! at Nantucket Dreamer

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Tagged again and again

I'm having so much trouble finding time to post lately! You would think that after Nablopomo I would just be in the habit of posting regularly, but as soon as it ended I just started slacking off!

Fortunately I have friends to encourage and pester me to post... and when I don't respond to that they tag me! I've been tagged by two friends this weekend and I feel like I would be letting them down if I don't at least try to rise to the challenge. Tonight I will do the Christmas Hoopla and tomorrow I will return for 7 random things about me.

My wonderful friend Leeann at Is It Morning Already? tagged me to do this Christmas Hoopla.

She writes:

Ok, this is specifically not a meme. It's a HOOPLA. Got it?

Here are the rules:

1. List 12 random things about yourself that have to do with Christmas
2. Please refer to it as a 'hoopla' and not the dreaded 'm'-word
3. You have to specifically tag people when you're done. None of this "if you're reading this, consider yourself tagged" stuff is allowed...then nobody ends up actually doing it. The number of people who you tag is really up to you -- but the more, the merrier to get this 'hoopla' circulating through the blogosphere.
4. Please try and do it as quickly as possible. The Christmas season will be over before we know it and I'd like to get as many people involved as possible.

So... Here are twelve random things about me that have to do with Christmas:

1 - I'm a Christmas baby.. not born on Christmas but pretty darn close. Having a birthday between Christmas and New Years stinks when you are a little kid but is pretty nice when you are over 40 and would prefer people just forget you have a birthday coming.

2 - I know all the words to just about every Christmas carol but I don't sing them.

3 - I like fruitcake.

4 - When I was twelve I made a Christmas present for our mailman but when I gave it to him he looked at me like I was a stalker.

5 - I love dorky Christmas sweaters and can't wait to wear them each year... from November 1st through January 15th.

6 - One of my favorite Christmas ornaments is a fish with giant sparkly lips.

7 - I have three trees this year. A traditional tree with lots of glass and white lights in the living room, a palm tree with colored lights in the front hall, and a small tree with great big colored bulbs on the upstairs landing.

8 - The tallest tree we ever had was 16 feet tall. This is a picture from upstairs. It was ridiculously tall.. we couldn't even decorate it properly!

9 - Our traditional Christmas Eve dinner is Chinese take-out.

10 - I have moved immediately before or after Christmas three times in my adult life. The first time we had an 18 inch tree in our hotel room, the second time we completely skipped Christmas at our house (but spent the week of Christmas with family), the third time was last year, we moved on Dec. 7th and decorated for Christmas the following weekend.

11 - Every year, at least once, I fantasize about just running away and not coming back until after Christmas.

12 - I always wanted to have a perfect Christmas.. you know, the kind where you bake all the right cookies, decorate beautifully, volunteer for important things, help the needy, give your kids the most excellent presents, cook the perfect meals, have every detail planned out so that there are no last minute surprises, and have everything done in advance so that on Christmas Eve all you have to do is drink eggnog and listen to Christmas music. I always wanted that until the year I finally almost got it right. Then, on Christmas Eve we got terrible news and needed to get in the car and drive twelve hours to be with family. We literally picked up the tree, ornaments and all, and set it in the garage. It sat there until February... I just couldn't face undecorating it because it had become the symbol of my failure. Not failure to create the perfect Christmas but failure to understand that none of it mattered. I learned that year that there is no such thing as a perfect Christmas and trying to create it distracted me from what was truly important. The important thing is loving our family because we just don't know how long we will have them.

I'm tagging the following people. I hope you all find time to join the hoopla.

MS Teacher, Heidi at Viking Conquest, Mrs. G, and I was going to tag Karen MEG but she just did another Christmas themed list so I'll just tell you all to go read her great post!

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Watch your punctuation...

It was the Monday after Thanksgiving and I was tired. In one week we had entertained three different sets of overnight guests, celebrated our twentieth anniversary and celebrated Thanksgiving. I had been working odd hours, going in very early and working from home at night, in order to maximize the amount of time I could spend with our guests. It had been a great week but I was tired. Monday was our final night with guests and we were having a fiesta. Fajitas, nachos, pitchers of margaritas.. and absolutely no turkey!
In the midst of preparation the phone rang... It was the dentist's office calling to find out why my oldest children were not there for an appointment. Oops! In the craziness of the week I had completely forgotten about the appointment. The receptionist tartly remarked that she had called to remind me of the appointment the day before... the last business day before.. which happened to have been the Monday before Thanksgiving.

Oh well. Obviously this was my fault and I apologized profusely and asked to reschedule. Ms. Receptionist was not pleased. She did not like my excuses. She frowned upon my silly desire to have children that could actually chew their dinner that evening. She reminded me that I had signed an agreement to PAY A CANCELLATION FEE if I didn't give 24 hours notice to cancel an appointment. I agreed that I had indeed signed and understood that there would be a fee but I was just going to have to pay it because I was not bringing the children in. She tersely informed me that they would be unable to work my children into the schedule again until December. So I rescheduled the appointment and went back to enjoying the fiesta. Arriba!

Yesterday I received a statement for the cancellation fee. I expected it. I wasn't shocked. I wasn't upset. I understand that in these challenging times a dentist can't afford to just give away appointment slots... blah, blah, blah. However, the statement annoyed the snot out of me. The charges are entered and duly noted as missed appointment fees but at the bottom of the page, in the comment box, Ms. Dentist's Receptionist typed: Mother "forgot" appointment.

Now I know I am being petty... but I was perfectly pleasant to this woman. I admitted my wrong-doing, I apologized, I did not make a fuss about being charged extra. Plus I'm a darn good patient! I'm always on time (with the exception of this one missed appointment.) I never complain when I have to wait. I pay my copay at the time of service. I even bought a fancy electric toothbrush from their office for ten dollars more than I could have gotten it at Costco! But none of that matters. I "forgot". With one little set of quotation marks my integrity was called into question. The comment was superfluous and petty and it pissed me off.

My question to you, dear reader, is this. Am I silly for being offended enough that I don't want to go back to that office again? Obviously I need to bring my children in for the appointment next week but after that I believe I will start looking for a new dentist.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

How to gain ten pounds in two days...

I love baklava and I rarely buy it because I am physically and emotionally unable to walk away from it. If I can get past it in the store I am fine. It's not the kind of pastry that calls to me in my dreams. However, once I've let it into my house I'm done for. This weekend a huge tray somehow followed me home.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Shopping with the girls...

It was Friday night and the mood was somber. Zane was on his way out to spend a final evening with his best/girl friend. Dad was gone for the weekend. Taylor had just "dumped" her "boyfriend" (a very good choice, indeed). Delaney was reeling from her recent orthodontic adjustment. Then there was Mom... There's just no delicate way to say this.... on day sixteen of her second period since Halloween, and starting to feel more than a little, umm, drained.

Any sane woman would have curled up with a heating pad and Jack Daniels called the doctor, but I come from a long line of women who refuse to admit anything is wrong until someone forcibly delivers them to the doctor, or body parts start to fall off, whichever comes first. I was not going to let my dear, sore at heart, and tooth, girls spend the night watching Hannah Montana reruns and bickering over who's feet were on whom.

Plus, it's eighteen days until Christmas and the presents are not buying themselves. What we needed was a little retail therapy and some good food too. So off we went to the mall. We didn't actually go into the mall (that would have been crazy) but to the mall outside of the mall... the mall annex...
Don't you love the way malls have morphed into something like a university of commercial indulgence? We have mall central, the institute of higher shopping, all of your basics in one megolithic structure. Then on the outskirts of the campus we have the annexes of specialized shopping (Talbots, Ann Taylor, boutique jewelry) for those more advanced in shopping skills, or conversly, the remedial annex (Target and Big Lots) for the continuation shoppers.
Anyway... back to my story..
Our first stop was for food since Taylor had skipped lunch because the "breakup" had upset her stomach, and Delaney had been unable to eat because her teeth hurt. We needed something special, and easy to chew. The extremely thin crust pizzas at I.talia were a perfect fit, and a table in front of the enormous open fire pizza oven was heavenly. While we waited we played with the "make your own pizza" toy on the table. Pretend pizza baking quickly became an impromptu fractions lesson. It does a mathphobic mother's heart good to see girls enjoying division. After pizza came the gelato... the perfect combination of teeth comforting cold and heart soothing chocolate.. before we knew it all three of us were giggling, and one of us had a chocolate mustache. (no, not me)

After dinner we went to Borders Books and the girls picked out books for their cousins. Two hours of discussion and debate eventually produced perfect books for eleven unique individuals. They were focused and thoughtful and, despite hundreds of tempting books, neither of them asked for anything. Our only disappointment was that the wrapping station had shut down for the evening and we will be forced to wrap our own gifts. Perhaps Saturday will be wrapping day...

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Advent Event - Day one

What a silly title! But I'm going to leave it because it tickles me and I've been a complete bitch all day so something that makes me smile is a big deal.

Today I have finally pulled the Advent cabinet out of storage and I'm starting our countdown to Christmas. The kids don't know this because I've scared them all up to their rooms with my growling and banging around the kitchen that they all trashed in the hour it took me to stop at the grocery store on the way home from work. So, when they all come down later to a clean kitchen, dinner, and a smiling mom (riggghhhhtt), they will get to open the 4th drawer.



This post was interupted by life exploding around me... but I didn't scream at anyone so I guess everything is ok. The first night activity was Pirates of the Caribbean, At World's End. The girls were thrilled, the boy said he had too much homework, and the husband fell asleep 45 minutes into the movie, but it doesn't matter because I had an evening with Mrs. G's secret boyfriend. Ha! Plus the kids have a late start tomorrow morning so I don't have to feel like the world's worst most negligent mother for letting them stay up until 11pm.

Now I'm off to bed. Hopefully tomorrow I won't be so grumpy. (Fat Chance of that!)

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Menu Plan Monday

If you believe the weather forcast, we have a cold, wet week ahead of us. With this in mind I'm trying to plan some nice warm meals that can be cooked in the crockpot for Monday and Tuesday. Of course, this is assuming that we won't lose power and end up eating sandwiches. Last year we had a terrible storm in December and some people in our area were without electricty for weeks. Let's hope that doesn't happen again.

This week we will start our Advent Countdown Calendar. We have a cabinet with 24 drawers that I fill with candy somedays and notes others. I have always tried to have a good mix of fun, education, and candy, however, In 2006 I only did candy. Yesterday Zane and Taylor started talking about how much fun our Advent Calender "used to be" and when I said it will be fun again Zane replied "No it won't because you are working now." Ah.. guilt.. such a Christmas-y emotion! I haven't taken out the cabinet yet but tomorrow we will officially start the season.

Hanukkah also begins this week, December 4th through the 12th, and we will having a celebration Saturday night. When I was a teen I spent one night of Hanukkah with my best friend's family each year and it's a tradition I have tried to continue with my own children. I feel it is very important that they grow up appreciating and understanding other religious traditions, as well as learning about the foundations of their own religion.

Well this is a bit long-winded... so on with the menu!

  • Monday - Beef Stew, French Bread

  • Tuesday - Chunky Bean Soup with Ham and Kale

  • Wednesday - Quesadillas and Salad

  • Thursday - Stuffed Chicken Breasts, Roasted Sweet and White Potatoes

  • Friday - Broccoli Quiche and Fruit Salad

  • Saturday - Chicken Soup, Latkes, Applesauce, Honey Cake

  • Sunday - To Be Decided Later

Thanks to Debi at for hosting. If you don't know her go visit.. she's got lots of great ideas.

Have a good week!


We had our first snow of the year yesterday. It didn't stick and has now turned into torrential rain that is flooding my backyard but, for a few beautiful hours, there were big, fat, swirling, snowflakes to fascinate puppies and girls. What a perfect start to December.




Friday, November 30, 2007

NaBloPo No Mo

This is my final post for nablopomo and I am happy to say I am finally working on my own computer again! Best Buy came through for me and finished fixing it before the end of November. (hahaha) I'm so happy to have it back.. but I'm also happy to say that despite the inconvenience (mostly to Bob since I commandeered his computer) I managed to post every day. Yay me!

Ok.. enough self-congratulatory drivel. I want to take a moment to recognize my friends, old and new, who made this month fun and kept me motivated to keep posting.

Some of you only dropped by a few times but your visits were wonderful. Professor J, Your comment about my old dog warmed my heart. Don Mills Diva, I'm glad you stopped by and I'm enjoy reading your blog. MS Teacher, you are in my thoughts often. If you want to talk you know where I am.

Some of you checked in regularly and, after a month of wondering what you might like to read, I feel like you are friends.
Heidi, I am looking forward to seeing more of Norway.. and the rest of your journey. I'm a bit jealous but happy I can live vicariously through your blog. Karen Try not to stress too much about December. I have a feeling you are going to do just fine. I hope you will keep blogging when you get a chance.. at least keep posting your wardrobe! Mrs. G, what can I say? You are a nut and I love your blog. You need a few more secret boyfriends though...

Then there are two of you who have been there for me forever. You were reading my long-winded foolishness long before blogs were invented and the fact that you have stuck around for TEN years is amazing, and a bit humbling. Nic, I'm so glad you decided to start your own blog! I'm awed that you have time to write with everything else you are doing. And your post today... I'm still processing what that could possibly mean!
Leeann, You never gave up on me... even though I didn't post for months at a time. Thank you so much for your compassion and encouragement. You are such a true friend to everyone and you leave your sparkle on every person you touch.

Finally, there are a few people who I know read this blog but don't respond here. My lovely sister in law, Anne, my great friend and kindred spirit, Ellen, and my sister at heart, Bev. I love you all and I'm so excited that I might be seeing all of you at the end of December!

Writing is a solitary business, mostly done within the confines of the empty space between my ears, but there would be very little reason to waste my time if no one ever read what I wrote. Thank you so much for giving me the gift of your time... I hope that this is just the beginning.


Thursday, November 29, 2007

Worth Reading

I have truly enjoyed this marathon month of posting and reading and fully immersing myself in this bloggy world we have created on the internet. It's amazing to me that there are so many fantastic writers out there and so much to read every single day. Years ago I gave up on newspapers because I just couldn't stomach the poor quality anymore, most modern fiction gives me similar indigestion.

There are so many blogs worthy of note and quite a few of them are listed on my sidebar. Fascinating people who travel, and knit, and teach, and raise children, who share their real lives with a bunch of strangers and make the world better for it! Thank you so much.. each and every one of you.

From what I can see most of the people reading my blog also read many of the blogs I love but there is one that I don't see on your lists. Sweet Juniper is a thought provoking, sometimes funny, sometimes sad, and always amazingly intelligent blog written by a husband and wife team. I think you will enjoy reading it.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Santa's Holiday

Today I put out the first Christmas decoration.


See, I'm not a total holiday curmudgeon.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Carol of the Hells... I mean Bells

Just a quick little rant about Christmas Commercial season. I've never been a big fan of television commercials, possibly because I'm not a big fan of commercial television, but this season something has gone terribly wrong. Last night I suddenly became aware that every other television advertisement was using the exact same Christmas carol as background music.

"Carol of the Bells" or "Ukrainian Bell Carol" has been one of my favorite carols since I sang it in Jr. High choir a million years ago but I think this might be the Christmas that my love of it ends. Apparently this classic carol, which first premiered in 1916, makes discount stores, cell phones, jewelry, cars, and alcohol more appealing. I counted six commercials using the same music and airing with alarming frequency. The worst of these ads is a car commercial that shows a choir singing the song with the lyrics changed to simply "Duh" over and over and over. It's obnoxious... and sad.

A quick search of YouTube reveals that "Carol of the Bells" is a favorite for all manner of weird video. So it is with chagrin that I post this... the death knell of the bells.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Menu Plan Monday

We've got lots of leftovers to make use of this week. The problem is making them palatable to my family.
  • Monday - Beef and Chicken Fajitas (nope.. not a leftover)
  • Tuesday - Turkey Potpie
  • Wednesday - Potato and Ham Soup
  • Thursday - Thai Peanut Noodles with Brocolli and Peppers
  • Friday - Dinner and a Movie
  • Saturday - Bob cooks
  • Sunday - To be decided later
It's not very creative this week. Next week I'll get back to more detailed menu planning.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

My dear friend Leeann wrote a fun post celebrating the arrival of her Christmas cards today. Now I enjoy Christmas as much as the next Scrooge but Christmas cards are an ongoing nightmare for me. Year after year I plan on sending out cards something always goes wrong. So, today I will share with you all the ghosts of Christmas Cards past. These were the photos that should have been.. and in a few cases actually were.. made into family Christmas cards but somehow never made it to the post office.





This year I don't intend to try making a card. It would just be too weird to create a family card with only three of the kids and yet it feels dishonest to try and get a photo of all four looking like a happy Christmas family. Perhaps I can find a nice Grinch card.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Momma needs a new pair of shoes...

I'm trying to come up with a realistic justification for spending way too much money on these. I was looking for a pair of boots... which I'm going to need pretty soon... but boots are so confining. These are lined with sheepskin so they'll keep my feet warm... right?

Friday, November 23, 2007


What a lazy day we have had! I didn't get to sleep late this morning because the poor dog was desperate to get outside at 6am (she definitely had too many treats yesterday) but, despite the early wake up call, I managed to do very little today. After my inlaws left for the airport I even took a nap (I don't think I've done that since the last time I was pregnant!) Now I'm curled up on the couch with a nice fire going and the dog at my feet while Bob and the girls play blackjack in the dining room. It's heaven.

Karen MEG at A day in the life has tagged me for a Meme so here's Seven Weird/Random things about me...

1) I love shoes but I hate wearing them. I would love to have a closet full of stylish footwear but I'm a practical person.. so I have a small and eclectic collection of clogs that are easy to get my claustrophobic feet out of quickly.

2) I was thirty before I saw a live ice hockey game and it was love at first face-off.

3) By the time I started high school I had lived in eleven different houses and attended nine different schools.

4) I love laying tile and if I was younger would consider making a career of it.

5) I have had the same email address and screen name for thirteen years. I actually had aol for DOS back in the dark ages before Windows. My original screen name was simply Gina but I lost that during one of our moves and instead of accepting Gina and a random number as a substitute I decided to be gina-again.. and a legend was born! (hahahahahaa)

6) Science fiction is my favorite genre.. of literature and movies.. and it makes me very sad that the quality is so incredibly poor most of the time.

7) My son says I'm really a 14yr old Japanese girl masquerading as an old lady. I think he's just jealous of my MMORPG skills.

Thursday, November 22, 2007


The day is over, everyone is asleep, and I'm sitting here reflecting on the day. Tonight I am truly thankful for the family and friends who shared our celebration today. I'm especially thankful that everyone had a great day and raved about the food despite the fact that I seemed to be having one disaster after another. People rarely complain about my cooking but holidays really give me the opportunity to prove just how mediocre I am.

Every cook hopes to have a signature dish, a recipe that no one else in the family would ever dream of competing with. I guess we all want to be a little famous even if it's just in our own kitchen. I'm famous for my pumpkin pie. Famous because my pies are truly spectacular. Unfortunately spectacular isn't always a positive adjective. I don't mean to brag but I make very good pie crust and it's important to me that pies be made from scratch because I just don't like premade crust. I should probably stop caring because my skill at pie making ends at the crust. My pumpkin pies are the stuff of legend because I always do something wrong. In past years I have forgotten to add sugar, put in way too much cinnamon, and dropped pies. This year I put two beautiful pies in the oven and 65 minutes later I pulled out two pie crusts filled with fragrant, bubbling, pumpkin soup. That's when I relized that there were still four eggs sitting on the counter. In my rush to get the pies baked I had completely forgotten to add eggs. So, at 1am I got in the car and went looking for pumpkin pies.

It only took me another hour and a half to bake the frozen pies I found so I was just a little tired at 8am when I dragged myself out of bed to stuff the twenty-eight pound turkey. Do you have any idea how big a twenty-eight pound turkey is? It was big.. too big in fact. Too big for the flimsy aluminum pan I planned on using. After sending Bob out on a fruitless search for a bigger pan I was forced to modify the pan and hope that it would work. Thankfully it did just fine although I had to siphon off the turkey juices frequently. When I pulled it from the oven everyone was amazed by it's golden browny perfection... until I moved it to the cutting board and pulled the legs off trying to get it out of the pan.

After the turkey was out of the oven I made gravy and put the yams in the oven to brown. My family always makes marshmellow covered yams. The marshmellows are supposed to be brown and crispy. If you cook them at a temperature that is too low the marshmellows will just melt and if the temperature is too high or the cook gets distracted they can end up over-toasted..or black. This year I hit a brand new low. I didn't just burn the yams.. they caught fire! I certainly impressed my guests as I rushed my flaming cassarole through the dining room on my way to the backyard.

In the end it was a nice day. Good friends.. edible food.. and plenty of wine. Next year I may just avoid cooking with orange vegetables.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Once upon a time and Happily ever after...

Once upon a time I married the boy I loved and we lived happily ever after. Have you ever thought about that phrase? Happily ever after what?

Happily ever after... our wedding we left on a dream honeymoon. A train trip through the Canadian Rockies with stays at fine hotels in Vancouver, Banff and Calgary. What our travel agent failed to tell us was that every hotel we stayed at was under construction in anticipation of the upcoming Olympics. We have fantastic pictures of the construction cranes outside the windows of each hotel room. Unfortunately we don't have a picture of the crane operator who peered in our window early one morning.. and thankfully he didn't have a camera to take a picture of what he probably saw! We were young, inexperienced, and had never been on vacation before. We started running out of money on the third day. By the time we reached Banff, the most expensive stop on our trip, we couldn't afford much more than deli sandwiches and Labatts. The doorman looked embarrassed when we walked through the elegant lobby with groceries but we enjoyed our improvised room service. Our honeymoon was a far cry from the romantic travelogues in Modern Bride but we were blissfully happy anyway.

Happily ever after... Happiness isn't a measured by how closely our expectations are met but by how we deal with what life brings us. When we promise to live together until death do us part we have no idea what the future will be. Marriage isn't a fairytale. Along with joy there are challenges, tragedy, comedy and countless, messy, unplanned events. For the last twenty years I have been able to face ever after happily because I am walking into the future with my best friend. He's a man who can make me laugh even when there is nothing to laugh about, who challenges me to think, and has kept me fascinated for more than half of my life. I cannot imagine a better way to spend ever after.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

How to Clean A Toilet...

What is it about men that requires them to make everything more difficult than it needs to be? I clean the toilets all the time.. it's simple, gross, but simple. So, when Bob said he was going to clean the bathroom (actually he swapped chores with Taylor.. he was vacuuming the stairs) I didn't think it would take him long. Silly me!

Step One: Loosen the bolts and remove seat from toilet.

Step Two: Scrub the disassembled toilet well. Be sure to use at least three rags. One to scrub, one to dry, and one to buff the plastic to glossy perfection.

Step Three: Reassemble. I'm not complaining. The toilet is very clean and I didn't have to clean it. However, while I do find his method worthy of documenting but I don't intend to EVER follow it!

While we are talking about bathrooms, here's a few pictures of my new vanity and sink. I love it! However, it's kind of hard to take a picture in a tiny bathroom so I'll have to show it to you in pieces.

The Cabinet is cherry. It's darker than the hallway floor but they look good together.

The top is granite and the mirror matches the vanity. I love the brushed nickel fixtures.. they match the light fixture too but I didn't take a picture of that.

Our first guests are arriving this evening so I've got to go compulsively clean something now!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Menu Monday

Oh this is such an easy week to plan since the Thanksgiving menu is kind of set in stone.

Monday - Macaroni and Cheese and Chicken Strips
Tuesday - Salmon, Steamed Red Potatoes, Asparagus
Wednesday - 20th Anniversary (OUR'S!) Dinner Out with family.
Thursday - Thanksgiving Feast
Friday - Soup and Leftovers
Saturday - Who knows...
Sunday - Something that's not Turkey

Have a great week everyone!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

A change in the weather

I wanted to write a poem about autumn
with words guaranteed to make you feel
the warmth of the sun
wheat and whipped honey, pumpkins and acorn squash
the texture of the sky
meringue and marshmallow fluff
the beauty of the leaves
toast and cheddar, mustard and cranberry
but the frigid air blew in stainless steel clouds
and left me feeling empty
So I came inside and made you lunch

Saturday, November 17, 2007

I'm So Bad

I never did come back to finish my favorite things post and I'm not going to do it right now either. I've been so busy today and hopefully tomorrow I'll have some cool pictures to post. We are almost done putting the new vanity in the bathroom. I ended up getting something entirely different from the two that I posted the other day. Actually it's kind of a combination of the two. Tomorrow we need to finish installing that, get the house cleaned up and ready for guests, and I've got about ten hours worth of work sitting on my desk that I need to finish before Monday morning. I'm not sure when I'm going to find time to bake pies!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Derfwad Manor is one of my favorite things... and I'm really looking forward to lounging in the Derfwad Dining Room, enjoying one of Mrs. G's fantastic slow cooked suppers, and talking about the rest of my favorite things this evening. See you all there after work!

..... update......

Work went on forever and I forgot a promise to go to the movies with Bob and the kids (which is one of my favorite things to do) so my list of favorite things is going to have to wait a few more hours. I promise I'll be back if I don't indulge in too much of this favorite thing:

(No, Mrs. G... I don't drink heavily.. often)

Thursday, November 15, 2007

The New Dog

The New Dog

Into the gravity of my life,
the serious ceremonies
of polish and paper
and pen, has come

this manic animal
whose innocent disruptions
make nonsense
of my old simplicities--

as if I needed him
to prove again that after
all the careful planning,
anything can happen.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Extra Adjectives

This is my son Ian two years ago. He was sixteen; finally old enough to get a part time job, old enough to drive, old enough to start making some serious decisions about his life. He was involved in student leadership and peer counseling at our church, as well as teaching 5th and 6th grade Sunday school. At school he was the wrestling team captain and played clarinet in the band. Academically he was an underachiever but some teachers loved him. He was the kind of student who wouldn't do homework and still score 100% on tests. He had a lovely girlfriend who lived 500 miles away. After a rather shaky beginning and a lot of worries we were finally starting to believe he was going to grow up just fine. Three months later he was a drug addict.

Raising children is like gambling. With your heart and soul as collateral. Everything... genetics, discipline, school, snack foods, friends... is a roll of the dice. It's easy to look backward and point to the reasons why this may have happened to Ian, but honestly it would be just as easy to look backward and find reasons for him to have turned out well.

Regardless, we now find ourselves with a son living away from home and fighting some mighty demons. When we don't hear from him in a week we worry, we speculate, my husband tends to get cynical and I get sad, sometimes we fight, most of the time we console each other and try to share the load. We stay strong because we have each other and because we have to.

My sister-in-law, Anne, responded to one of my posts about Ian and what she had to say is lovely, practical, and hopeful:
It's called "tough" love for a reason. If it were easy, it wouldn't need an extra adjective. All kids should have an extra adjective - like "exuberant" or "creative". Come to think of it, even adults need an extra adjective. The dictionary defines tough as "capable of great endurance; sturdy; hardy" You have to believe that you are tough - and so are all of your children.

I love the idea of extra adjectives for all of us. Today I will chose tenacious for my adjective. Tenacious means persistent in maintaining or adhering. It also means not easily pulled apart. I remain tenacious for Ian. I saw him today.. he looks better.. and it would be easy to be relieved, excited, or hopeful but I've been those before and it's too far to fall when he doesn't look so good. Instead I'll cling to the hope that he is getting better, adhere to my belief that he can get well, but I won't be pulled apart if things change.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


It's noisy here. Way too noisy. The TV is blaring like a billion trumpets. The dog is gnawing her way through a dinosaur bone. The fish tank is buzzing like a hornet's nest. There is a high pitched whine coming from somewhere in my computer. Bob is sitting on the couch moving his eyeballs and breathing. The earth is turning. I just can't work with all this chaos around me!

I've been working a "real job" for a month now and it's finally starting to wear on me a bit. It's not the work itself or lack of time.. it's the noise that is starting to make me crazy. Everyone has their own way to recharge, some need exercise, or laughter, or artwork, or professional wrestling. I need silence. It doesn't have to be at a certain time or even for a specific length of time but it is essential to my peace of mind.

All of this complaining is my way of saying that I just can't calm myself down enough to write something tonight. I want so badly to write more than a lame post to satisfy my daily commitment but the words just buzz around in my head and refuse to form coherent sentences on the page. I have become a NaBloPoMoron. Yammering on about nothing at all... a bloggy mirror of my environment.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Menu Plan Monday

I have eight days until my Thanksgiving guests arrive. I am trying to keep meals very simple this week so that I have time to plan, clean, and work some extra hours. Hopefully I'll be able to work from home next week and enjoy having family around.

  • Monday - Chicken and Dumplings
  • Tuesday - Steak (left over from Sunday) Quesadillas and Salad
  • Wednesday -Baked Ziti and Green Beans
  • Thursday - Thai Peanut Chicken with Rice Noodles
  • Friday - Dinner and a movie
  • Saturday - Ham and Cheese Panini with Tomato Soup
  • Sunday - Undecided
Thanks to Laura at for hosting Menu Plan Monday!

Sunday, November 11, 2007


I have a little half bathroom downstairs that actually gets more use than the two upstairs. Unfortunately the builder decided to skimp in this one spot and only put in a little pedestal sink with no storage at all. So, one of the first projects that I want to do in this house is to put a new vanity in there. I'm trying to decide if I want to go with a craftsman style, like the first picture, that would go very well with the general style of the house. Or something more dramatic and try to turn the little bathroom into a showpiece (hahahahahaa). What do you think? If you were working with a very generic room, taupe walls, a white toilet, stone floor, which one of these vanities would you choose?

Saturday, November 10, 2007


I did not see this movie. In fact I don't remember even hearing about it until about a week ago. When I was young and actually knew something about movies I would have been shocked to have never heard of a movie that suddenly everyone is talking about.. oh well, I'm not young anymore. It's supposed to be a very good movie. Reviewers were predicting the sound track would win awards when the movie was first released.
I'm generally not a fan of romance movies, a fact that makes my husband a very happy man indeed, so even if someone had told me to see it when it was in the theater I probably wouldn't have. However, this week Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova played one concert in Seattle so the radio station that I listen to every morning started playing this song... and I fell in love. Now I want to see the movie, and to hear more of their music, and to know all about the real story behind the film story. Isn't it amazing how music can change the way you feel about everything? (or is it just me?)

Friday, November 9, 2007

One good thing..

...about this computer is that it has a direct link to the network storage black box thingy that houses all of our pictures. Plus it has a really cool program that randomly displays those pictures on the desktop. I wouldn't normally sit down and look at seven years worth of pictures but having them right here in front of me is really neat.

Leeann commented that she can really see how Zane has grown so I thought I'd share one more. It's amazing what two years will do to a boy.

Jet lag... Zane style..

I hate this computer! Hate, hate, hate it! It makes my back cramp, my fingers fall asleep and my head ache. I want my laptop back.

So, rather than make you all suffer through my whiney temper tantrum I'll show you one of my favorite pictures.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Writer's Block Isn't Fun...

But these blocks are...

Aren't they adorable?

This shameless advertisement is brought to you by the patheticly uncreative mind of Gina...

Alexander Girard Blocks available at along with a few items that are a bit less wholesome.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Concert Night

Tonight was Taylor's first Jr. High School concert. It was terrific. I am constantly amazed at how fast kids go from the screeching and squealing of 5th grade band to actually playing beautiful music. This is the ninth year we have had a child in band and I'm so pleased with the music instruction in Washington. Taylor's Jr. High band is bigger than Ian's High school band in California was.

She doesn't look much like herself in this picture. She's so serious! She's the first trombone player.. the one staring right at the camera.. the only girl trombonist in the entire school and proud of it. She's also a fantastic musician but she just laughs when anyone says that. Her band teacher told me that she is the only student who has scored 100% on every playing test this year but she really doesn't believe she's that good. I love her humility.

I have a musical family. Bob plays the guitar and drums. Ian played the clarinet, alto clarinet, and bass clarinet. Zane played the coronet for a year but playing was triggering migraines and he decided he just wasn't that interested in continuing. Taylor, of course, plays the trombone and Delaney wants to play the saxophone but right now she plays the recorder and Dad's drums, when he lets her. My house can be a rather noisy place. I, however, don't play anything except the willing audience to their creativity. I don't sing either... in fact when my kids were babies lullabies made them cry! But I truly love music and I'm blessed to have married a man who could pass talent down on to our kids.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Post Halloween Recovery Week

I am really unmotivated to plan a menu this week but I know that I have to do this. If I don’t have a basic plan we will end up eating junk all week… and after a weekend of Halloween candy overload I really need to stop eating junk!

  • Monday - Mongolian Beef with Stir-Fried Rice Noodles

  • Tuesday - Turkey Meatloaf, Mashed Potatoes, Green Beans

  • Wednesday - Spiced Pork Loin, Fingerling Potatoes, Baked Yams

  • Thursday - Slow Cooker Chicken Paella

  • Friday - Make Your Own Pizzas

  • Saturday – Bob Cooks Something Delectable

  • Sunday - Probably Soup and Sandwiches although I might not be able to get away with it three weeks in a row.

I reserve the right to change any of these to something healthier if I have time and inclination. Thanks again to Laura at for hosting.

Hey Mom!

I saw Ian today... kind of by accident. He called yesterday looking for rent money and after a few minutes on the phone I just knew I didn't want to see him. So today Bob took him a check and I snuck out to shop at our new gargantuan neighborhood hardware supply store. I was wandering through the appliances dreaming about a new dishwasher (with drawers!) when I heard "Hey Mom!" There was my kid... looking like I expected him to look... unkempt is the kindest description, walking toward me with another kid who was obviously high. He said he was there to fill out a job application, which should have made me very happy, but all I could think of was how unlikely it is that anyone would consider hiring him when he didn't even brush his hair and appeared to have slept in his clothing. Ah well.. at least I know he is alive and still living where he was two weeks ago.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

More Stories From an Unconventional Girlhood...

For most of my childhood my grandparents lived in an old copper mining town. Jerome is a ghost town 5000 ft straight up a mountain in Northern Arizona and for one perfect year I lived with them.

There were no schools in Jerome so my brother and I took a school bus down the winding mountain roads. At first it was frightening but after a few weeks I had learned to read rather than look out the windows. Jerome also had no radio or tv station reception. It was simply too high up. Books were the best entertainment around.

Although the schools had been shut down for years the town still had a library. A magical library with mahogany shelves and card catalogs that smelled of beeswax. There was a sweet librarian who sat behind the huge carved desk two days a week and tried to get the town kids (all eight of us) hooked on reading. Although the library's collection was permanently stuck in 1950 I found plenty to read in the K section.. Carolyn Keene was my author of choice. The summer I was eleven I read every Nancy Drew I could get my hands on. These weren't the abridged and modernized Nancy Drew's but the original copies complete with recipes and fashion advice. I fantasized about spectator pumps, tweed jackets, and blue organdy prom dresses.

I suffered acute culture shock when I moved back to 1976 and a California Jr. High School the following year. Everyone was wearing bell bottom jeans, disco t-shirts and saying "dy-no-mite!" It was very weird. I guess sixth grade was a fashion formative year and I missed out on something important living way up in the mountains. I never did figure out how to dress normally and I still have a wicked pump fetish. Thanks Nancy.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Stories From An Unconventional Girlhood...

The first home I really remember could have been a castle. (Yes, this is really a picture of it.) My bedroom had high ceilings, tall windows and cold stone floors. I remember it being in the turret.. although I bet my mother would disagree with me. My backyard had acres of beautifully landscaped pathways with plenty of trees and statuary. There were always many adults around but I was the ONLY little girl and I knew how special I was. I was the princess.. sort of.

Actually I was the daughter of the dorm parents. I was born when my parents were very young and for a few years we lived in the "married housing" apartments. But after my father finished his degree we moved up in the world. As a graduate student he was considered mature enough to supervise a dorm full of "men". (I seem to remember my mother doing most of the supervising.) The dormitory was one of the original historic buildings at Northern Arizona University. It really was beautiful.. and still is. It's now a museum but I haven't been there since I was a little girl.

Being a child on a college campus was a unique and enriching experience. Nowdays people would be terrified to let a little girl wander around unsupervised but I have nothing but wonderful memories of the boys in our house. I can't remember ever being afraid of any of them... or the young men who I knew later in life. I knew how a princess was supposed to be treated and wouldn't settle for kissing frogs. I also think the surplus of men in my early childhood carried me through the later years without a father around but that's a story for another post.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) and NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month)

I've decided to throw caution to the wind and sign up for both. No, I'm not losing my mind. I have serious doubts that I'll complete either one but, for the month of November, I am committed to writing a novel and posting to this blog every day. Why am I doing this? I guess to prove that I can. I have been saying for the last twenty years that I want to write, I just don't have enough time. However, I'm finally beginning to see that I will never have enough time. The world isn't going to stop for me so I'm just going to have to thumb my nose at it and do what I want. This is what I want and I'm going to do it!

Wasting My Free Time

I cleverly managed to get the afternoon off today and rushed home to accomplish much. On my agenda were :

Clearing off my desk in the dining room
Walking the dog
Donating all the Halloween candy
Putting up shelves in my new office (the closet in the den)
Sorting and Filing all paperwork that has been accumulating since I last filed (1999)
Fashioning some sort of rudimentary lathe
Writing 1628 words for NaNoWriMo
Updating my blog colors for Thanksgiving
Writing a thoughtful yet humorous post for my blog
Cooking a fabulous meal

You, my dear reader, are looking at everything I completed in those lovely empty hours... I don't much like the new colors and I'm ready to scream because I can't get the formatting to work. I want a do over!

My last Halloween post

Where's the can opener?

There's a wolf pelt shawl in her basket of goodies.

She's a natural red-head.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

It's 9pm. All good trick-or-treaters are safely home. It's probably time to move the pumpkins from the front porch and into the garbage can before the bad trick-or-trashers come out. My kids are holed up in the den (where the puppy can't go) surrounded by mountains of candy. They are engaged in a ritual that I remember fondly from my childhood. Counting out and trading their loot. I love sitting here listening to their negotiations. This is a new experience for the three of them. In the past we had a "no trading" rule to protect them from intimidation and coercion. We don't need that rule anymore. It's times like this.. listening to these three kids that I feel the most grief for the fourth.

It hit me earlier today... the guilt and anger and loss... and I had to go out to the garage to cry for awhile. But crying for Ian is more like dry heaves.. the reflexive action of a body empty of everything but still unable to recover. I wonder if I will ever have tears again. Life is calmer for the five of us without him living here. It's so obvious that we are doing what is best for Zane, Taylor and Delaney... and when I doubt it I have a few counselors I can call who will remind me why this decision was made. But giving Ian the freedom he was fighting for meant giving up the child we were fighting to save.

I don't know where Ian is tonight. Maybe he will call me tomorrow but I don't think he will. We talked with his former roommates Sunday and it sounds like he is out of control. They had good reasons to ask him to leave but felt he had manipulated the situation to make it look as though they had thrown him out for insignificant reasons. It was sad talking with them. They know well the danger he is putting himself in but they can't risk their own sobriety to save him.

Where do you draw the line? How much should you do to save someone who doesn't want help? I don't know. What I do know is that there are three children laughing down the hall who didn't laugh much a year ago. They are my reason for going on when I think I can't.

I love their laughter.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The Knight Before Halloween

Despite all plans to the contrary I did manage to leave one costume until the last minute. I just finished it.. sort of. The breastplate and back are one piece of cardboard with a hole for his head to go through. I need to make a belt to attach them at the waist so it doesn't bounce around when he walks. I'm going to stop at the fabric store on the way home tomorrow and get some elastic for that. It looks pretty good on the kid. He's happy and it's really hard to make a 14yr old happy.. so I'm happy too.