Tuesday, July 29, 2008

St. Martha

Yesterday was the feast day of St. Martha, patron saint of homemakers, laundresses, and servants and, despite my lapsed Catholic upbringing, one of my favorite saints. I completely identify with Martha's dueling personality traits. She was the epitome of an overworked housewife. Being a good hostess was important to her... but not important enough to keep her from complaining to her guest that she was working too hard!

When Jesus came to visit she worked her tail off to make sure everything was perfect. Yeah, yeah, Jesus could feed 5000 but when he was in her house she was going to make sure he didn't have to lift a finger... and she was getting more and more annoyed that no one was helping her. So she did what most of us do when we are feeling put upon. She started bitching about her sister.

"Lord, don't you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself?
Tell her to help me!"

But Jesus told her to stop freaking out about the darned house and pay attention to what's really important. Now Martha was a good girl and I'm sure she tried hard to do what Jesus wanted. Maybe she relaxed a bit, didn't worry so much about her brother's dirty tunics, or only swept the scorpions out of the house twice a day... I don't know, and the Bible doesn't really detail her life story, but the next time we see her she is grieving the death of her brother. When she heard that Jesus was coming she jumped up and left her guests to rush to Jesus... And immediately started bitching again.

"Lord," Martha said to Jesus, "if you had been here, my brother would not have died."

But I'll bet that deep down inside she was really beating herself up for letting Lazarus get sick. Because that's the kind of girl she was... a control freak... and I get that. It does my heart good to know that a woman who had the audacity to scold God would end up a saint instead of a pillar of salt or something.

It's rumored that later in life Martha went to France, I don't know if she had retired there or was just vacationing but true to her nature, probably between the Boeuf Bourguignon and the Profiteroles, she waded into the swamp and tamed a dragon that had been terrorizing the village. After charming the beasty with hymns and holy water she led him back to town, where the locals rushed up and killed it. And I'll bet Martha responded just like I would.

"Goddammit! I just finished cleaning this floor!"

Yesterday, in honor of St. Martha, I didn't do a darn thing because I know that what every overworked homemaker really wants is a day where no one messes up the kitchen.

Now somebody really needs to come help me fold this laundry. Or am I just here to do all the work? Oh, that's it, right? I'm just the maid around here. No, no, don't get up! I'll just vacuum around you...

Monday, July 28, 2008

A decade ago I lived north of Seattle in a town called Edmonds. It's a smallish town, sitting right on the Puget Sound, with a beautiful marina, a busy Ferry terminal, and an incredible view of the islands in the Sound, the ships headed for the sea, and the mountains of the Olympic Peninsula, which some mornings look as if they too are sailing away. The Edmonds waterfront was a balm to my troubled soul on days when the rain wouldn't stop, the toddler was grumpy, or the baby wouldn't nap. While Taylor slept in her carseat Zane would stand on the front seat, naming ships and talking about where they were going to. It didn't matter what the weather was like or how irritable we were, a half an hour there, sitting in the car, watching the ships go by, always made life seem better.

Edmonds is also where I became a "real writer" who was actually paid to put words on paper. It wasn't a lot but it was real money and it made me feel wonderful. When we moved I lost my momentum and didn't write for several years. The other day I was trolling around the internet and stumbled on a notice about Write on the Sound, a writer's conference in Edmonds. The conference is an annual event that I never had the time or money to attend when I lived there. Years later, when I had the time, I was living in California and couldn't justify a plane ticket and hotel for an event I had never made an effort to go to when I lived six blocks from it. Now I live sixty miles away; close enough to make a weekend conference seem a little less like an indulgence and more like a good investment in the career that has been languishing since I moved away. Honestly I'm a little frightened. The first weekend of October I am driving north and for a few days I'm going to be a writer again...

But during the breaks it's possible you might find me parked on the waterfront remembering my babies.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Blueberry Daze

Today we went to Linbo Blueberry Farm and sifted through acres of bushes to find ripe blueberries. It's been a very cool summer so far, and Mr. Linbo told us that the berries still need a bit more time, but I couldn't resist going out to take a look. Some of my favorite childhood memories are of picking raspberries at my Uncle Ozzie's farm in Michigan. I've been craving the peace that comes with wandering through rows of bushes focusing my whole attention on finding sweet tiny jewels hiding in the leaves. Linbo Farm is my new favorite berry picking patch because they play classical music out in the field to enhance the experience. It's a good thing I took the kids with me or I might still be there, meditating with the berries. We brought home almost three pounds of berries... but since Zane can eat a pound in one sitting, we will definitely need to go back and pick some more!

Menu Plan Monday

Week two of my new, more organized life, (hahahahahahahahahahahah!) and I'm happy to report that we did a pretty good job of staying with the plan last week. Although we had some major shuffling of menus the last minute trips to the grocery store or burger shack were almost non-existent. So I guess I can call week one a success.

Monday - Vegetarian Paella (this is one we didn't get to last week)
Tuesday - Grilled Chicken, Veggie Hot Dogs, Potato Salad
Wednesday - Fish Tacos, Mexican Coleslaw
Thursday - Cobb Salad
Friday - Make Your Own Pizza
Saturday - Leftovers
Sunday - Prime Rib, Mashed Potatoes, Salad (I'm not sure what the vegetarians will eat besides side dishes)
Thanks to Laura at Orgjunkie.com for hosting Menu Plan Monday.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

A room of one's own...

I'm a sucker for a written argument but, until recently, this is a weakness that my children haven't exploited. I have often told them if they dispute a rule or decision in writing I will seriously consider what they have to say. I didn't say this because I didn't want to listen to them complain, although I don't want to listen to them complain, but to protect myself against being bullied. Wow, that sounds terrible.. but you see, Ian is a master debater and could argue me in circles when he was about three years old. I simply couldn't withstand the barrage so I put a stop to it. I made it my personal policy to always say "no" to a verbal argument. I've probably never even articulated this to the younger kids. They were just victims of "this is how it is". My standard answer to just about any request is "I'll have to think about it." and if I'm pushed the answer is always "No."

Taylor and Delaney share a bedroom. They have always shared a bedroom. I think it's really special for sisters to share rooms, and clothes, and make-up, and whispered conversations in the middle of the night. Can you tell that I didn't grow up with a sister? Taylor, however, doesn't seem to think it's all that special and has been trying to secure a room of her own for a while now... I think it started about the time that Delaney came home from the hospital... but we simply haven't had the space until recently.

When Ian moved out last summer we finally did have an extra bedroom and the lobbying for separate rooms began. However, room allocation was difficult since we have two normal sized rooms and the room the girls share, which is 18' x 14', so we made the extra bedroom a guest room instead. This also helped a bit with the issue of parental guilt that comes with having an 18yr old out on his own. Completely giving his bedroom away was not something I was ready to do just yet. For the last year the "guest room" has primarily been a laundry folding (hahahahahaha) room, a storage junkyard, and a constant topic of conversation.

Well... someone finally took me up on my offer to consider arguments presented in writing and yesterday I was given the following:

Reasons to let everyone have their own room

1. Delaney & Taylor have own space.
2. More storage for Delaney.
3. Less arguments.
4. Less decoration problems.
5. Delaney & Taylor help clean up guest room.
6. Delaney stops waking Taylor up earlier.
7. Delaney has more room for sleepovers.
8. Taylor can have sleepovers in her room.
9. During school Delaney can get up without bothering Taylor.
10. Taylor and Delaney can have quiet to do their homework.
11. Delaney can sing.
12. Taylor can play her music.
13. Taylor can be in her room when Delaney has a friend over.
14. Delaney faces her fear.
15. Both girls have more privacy.

All three children are in agreement with Delaney getting the big room, Taylor getting the guest room, and Zane staying in his room. Letting Taylor have the guest room will help bring peace to her and Delaney. There will not be arguments about things like "your music's too loud" or "stop looking at my side!"

All three of them worked on the list (which could probably be shortened to 8 points but I won't quibble). So we agreed. The only change we made is that Zane will take the big bedroom, since he is the oldest and his room is where they all congregate to play computer games anyway. Right now it looks like a bomb exploded upstairs but they are all happily working together to move stuff around. It's nice to see them excited to clean their rooms!

Now I'm going to have to go fold the laundry because it's been evicted from Taylor's new bedroom and is lounging on MY bed. Why is it that eventually everything comes back to laundry?

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Menu Plan Monday

Ever wonder why the title of the blog is Ginaagain, and again, and again? Back in the old days of newsgroups and chat rooms I was occasionally hit on by guys who thought my screen name was an invitation of sorts. But it wasn't. And I'm mean to guys who hit on me. Ginaagain is actually a reference to my mobius strip sort of life. Round and round I go, thinking I'm actually getting somewhere, but, far too often, I end up back where I started. Gina... do it again and again. Until I get it right. So, knowing this about me it shouldn't be any surprise to see me doing Menu Plan Monday again. I know that menu planning is a good idea but I'm not very good at planning anything. Oh well. Now you know something new about me.

Here's the menu for the coming week.

Monday - Summer Rolls- shrimp and veggie, Chilled Thai Noodle Salad with Peanut Dressing

Tuesday - Spaghetti with Red Sauce, Meatballs, Salad

Wednesday - Pork, Pineapple, and Pepper Skewers with Rice and Grilled Zucchini

Thursday - Vegetarian Paella, Grilled Chicken Legs and Corn on the Cob

Friday - Make Your Own Pizza

Saturday - Finnish Summer Soup- K√ęsakeitto, Sandwiches

Sunday - Fajita Salad

Thanks to Laura at Orgjunkie.com for hosting Menu Plan Monday. Go check out her site lots of great menus.

Monday, July 14, 2008

A few days with the mouse...

I know, I know... it's taking me longer to post about my vacation than it did to actually experience it.

The last stop for our crazy train was Disneyland. On the day we arrived we had spent eight hours travelling but still managed to close down the park at midnight. A feat which we repeated four days in a row.

Strange things happen at Disneyland in the wee hours of the morning. As we were crawling towards the gate at about 12:15am on our third night there we saw a group of people in bathrobes, lead by a Disney "cast member" strolling through the park. I can't shake the idea that they were on their way to a secret spa hidden on Pirate Island. Captain Jack's Ayurvedic massage and herbal wraps perhaps? Natural sea salt scrub anyone?

I believe the secret entrance to the night spa may be somewhere behind the black sails but I wasn't allowed to look for it. Notice how my husband made sure I didn't get too close to the Jack Sparrow look alike... soon after this picture was taken he dragged from the island and forced me to ride the psychedelic Winnie the Pooh ride in an attempt to distract me.

Of course, I forgave him and we went on to enjoy more wholesome, non-pirate attractions.

Until the accident in Toon Town....

And the unfortunate incarceration of my three precious children.

Since we had spent all of our money on food I thought I would be forced to sell my body lanyard to the pirates for bail money but I was rescued by...

The Mouse... King of All Pirates!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Tales from Oklahoma...

After four days of wedding festivities we were definitely ready for some downtime. Our next stop was Oklahoma and the Grand Lake O' the Cherokees where my inlaws have a home on the water. We spent the week resting, floating, and sometimes speeding in circles until we were dizzy.

Well, some of us sped in circles... What you don't see in these pictures is me standing on the dock and biting my nails while my family hurtles through the water at 50 mph, but that's where I was. I'm just no fun at all. But then again I will never forget the 4th of July I spent in the hospital waiting room while a surgeon reconnected three of the tendons in my husband's hand after a jetski accident. Funny, isn't it, that he still rides?

When they weren't on the water having fun the kids were riding around the complex on golf carts, learning first aid (it turns out that golf carts are more dangerous than jetskis when teenagers are driving), and hanging out with their cousins.

Cousins can be a great combination of friends and family but Zane and Taylor are extra fortunate to have cousins that are their age... Zach is two weeks younger than Zane and Emily is two weeks older than Taylor.

On the 4th of July we drove to Tulsa to see a matinee performance of The Phantom of the Opera and then returned for a night of fireworks on the lake.

And then there was the night we went to the yacht club.... Apparently I ordered the bottomless Cosmopolitan but I don't remember much after the fourth refill. At one point I was giggling uncontrollably over the fact that the yacht club keeps complimentary deodorant spray in the ladies room. Yes, I am a classy drunk. At least I didn't dance on the tables... I think.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

One beautiful day...

...in San Diego.

Two fantastic people became husband and wife.

And they invited some crazy people to participate in the ceremony!

It was a very special day.