Wednesday, April 30, 2008

So my Mom is back at work

It's hard to believe that she was just here a few days ago! But alas, all awesome visits must end and after a day off to recuperate from a week with my kids (anyone would need time to recover, trust me), she is back to the old grind today.

Now it's time to BLOG! I'm finally feeling like myself following our crappy drive home on Sunday night but I need to tell ya'll about Mom and Jack's awesome trip.

So look for the first of several blog entries later today - for now, here's a link to some of the awesome pictures I took while they were here!

Monday, April 28, 2008

911....what's your emergency?

"Yes ma'am. I am on Eastbound 84 between mile markers here and there and there is a body lying in the righthand lane."

That was the conversation I found myself having around 9:15 last night. After spending a wonderful and busy afternoon in Portland with my Mom and Jack, Skippy was driving a van full of sleeping kids (and a sleeping wife) homeward.

He woke me up just outside of town so that I could get my bearings a bit. Traffic was light. I could hear Banana snoring. As we were chatting about what a wonderful week it had been, I think we both noticed the vehicle two cars up hit its brakes and swerve but it's not as if it caught our full attention - we were just driving along, almost home. However, when the car in front of us swerved, Skippy was suddenly more focused on the road - just in time for us to swerve as well - around what appeared at first to be a sack of clothes.

In split seconds he looked at me and I looked at him and we both realized that what we had just seen was a person. He immediately pulled over to the shoulder and jumped out of the van (he has past emergency training) and I scrambled for my phone to call 911. Both cars in front of us had also pulled over and the two behind us as well, but my call was the first one into dispatch.

That conversation will stay with me forever I think. The woman was so calm and I could hear my own voice rising and struggling to keep from getting hysterical. A police car was on the scene before I was off the phone and seconds later, the fire truck and ambulance arrived.

The young man lying in the right lane was dead on the scene. As long as I live I will never forget what I saw. Last night I kept trying to close my eyes and all I could see in my mind was a lone shoe - in the left lane about twenty feet from the body.

The whole thing was surreal. Our small knot of witnesses stuck pretty close together. One woman was crying. One was praying. And I thought I might be sick. Skippy was answering questions for the medics, and then suddenly the woman who had been driving the truck two cars in front of us said, "I swear, I thought it was a deer. Oh God, I thought it was a deer."

To see this woman who was obviously in shock, who's just struck and killed another human being, rocked me to the core. Several of us surrounded her - in part to make sure she stayed on the scene and in part to help hold her together. She was shaking. Her skin was cold as ice.

It didn't feel real. I've seen highways shut down for accidents - but to be a witness standing on the OTHER side of the flashing lights is another thing all together. You couldn't help seeing things that you wish you could un-see. Even though we didn't see the actual accident occur, I saw plenty of the aftermath that I wish I hadn't, and THAT was out of the corner of my eye because I couldn't bear to actually look. But it was hard not to see things - cops are standing there asking us questions and ten feet away a human being is laying in the middle of the freeway. It kind of screws you up. There was a young group of kids across the street at one of the motels trying to get a glimpse of what was happening and believe me, they don't know how lucky they are that they couldn't see squat because what I saw gave me nightmares last night.

Finally we were told that we could go, that the police would be in touch if they had any more questions, and to call if we remembered anything that might be useful. I'll never forget walking away from the woman who hit the young kid - thinking that in a heartbeat her entire life had changed - even if nothing happens legally, she will certainly never be the same. And somewhere a family was about to receive the news that no one wants to hear.

My own kids slept through the entire thing. As we were getting in the van Banana woke up and asked us what was happening. We just told her that there had been an accident and that mommy and daddy were seeing if anyone needed any help. She dozed back off until we got home five minutes later. I am so thankful that today I don't have to worry about them asking questions or being scared. I am so thankful that we weren't just two cars up when that kid decided to run across the freeway. I am so thankful for my family.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

A very cherry of a day....

And so another Cherry Fest bites the dust. What a difference a year makes. Last year I was still trying to figure out which streets in downtown were One Way Only, not to mention trying to remember which way they went. Last year I knew almost no one.

This year I could barely turn around without bumping into someone that I knew from somewhere. And my Mom and Jack were here, which made it an even better Cherry Fest.

I'll blog all about our wild and crazy week very soon. Tomorrow is our last day with Mom and Jack and we'll be spending it in Portland. We're going to go to OMSI and Powell's and Voodoo donuts and who knows what else. But at the end of the day, once dinner is eaten and sights are seen, it will be time to say good-bye.

And that will be rough.

Lots of blogging and lots of stories and TONS of pictures are all coming soon! Happy Cherry Fest!

Friday, April 18, 2008

What happens in Vegas....

Come on, you know the rest!

What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas......

EXCEPT MY MOMMA! Because even though she is going to Vegas tonight and through the weekend, she will be HERE in the wonderfully fantastic and beautiful Pacific Northwest on Monday night!

<--- that's Mom and her main squeeze Jack. I think they are at Wrigley Field in that picture which will make Skippy temporarily hate them just a tiny bit. But it's a cute picture.

I haven't seen her since last July and the girls haven't seen her since right after the baby was born so I absolutely CANNOT WAIT!

(Obviously, my Mom and I are pretty close, LOL)

We have lots of fun stuff planned. We're going to make a trip to the coast, we're going to go to Banana's school, and we're going to go to Cherry Fest and OMSI and do whatever else we can squeeze in! The kids can't wait to see Nana. I can't wait either.

Now if the damn weather will just cooperate. It's supposed to SNOW this weekend! Can you believe it? It was eighty three degrees last Saturday and now they are calling for SNOW all up and down the mountain ranges and in the Gorge. What a bunch of bull huh?

Be wrong Mr. Weatherman. You win some, you lose some. Trust me, no one will mind!

Travel safe Mom!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008


I know that I've mentioned my "mommy board" here before, but today I am once again reminded of what a huge part it plays in my life.

One of the girls I post with in a more private forum suffered a house fire last night. Her home is a total loss. Her husband is recovering from burns, her children are singed and scared, and she had to run through the flames with her son in her arms. They lost their dog. They lost everything they owned. This morning they wathced their house burn to the ground, with nothing but the pajamas they were wearing, and each other.

My heart aches for this woman that I have never met. She is my friend, despite the fact that we've only exchanged typewritten words on a message board filled with hundreds (if not thousands) of other women. In an online community filled with funny and sometimes crude user names, she's just another poster. But she is my friend.

Mommy boards are interesting places. They can be like sorority houses - cliquey and snotty and exclusive. Sometimes in a lull they like to invade other mommy boards and stir the pot for fun. They can be silly and catty. But they can also be places to learn. They are places to find advice. This one has been there for me through the birth of three children, through the death of a sister-in-law and a father, and through job changes and a cross country move. They have encouraged me when I have been ready to call it quits with breastfeeding, when I was ready to throw up my hands at potty training, and they didn't laugh at my tears when my oldest started school. They are moms too - they understand.

And they are places that can reach out in the most astounding ways.

Several years ago, Skippy and I were both laid off not too long before the holidays. We had a brand new baby. We were both scared. One day, a one hundred dollar gift card showed up in the mail - some of the moms on my board had chipped in to make our holidays a little easier. I will never forget that simple, unexpected kindness. They were there for me.

The night my parents left my house after telling me that my Dad had cancer, I cried on my husband's shoulder. Then I had a drink. Then I got on my mommy board. And again, they were there for me.

When I needed emergency surgery because of an ectopic pregnancy, Skippy signed on and gave my online friends the scoop. And once again, they helped get me through - they were there for me.

Today, the donations are already being gathered. Clothes and toys, restaurant cards and gas money, gift certificates and cash - it's all being sent to this one woman - a woman who isn't even a face on a message board - she's just another name; a fun, sassy, shining personality. She's a woman who needs help. Another Mom. Another friend.

My thoughts and prayers continue to be with you sweetie. And to that mommy board, I am so proud to be a part of your community. I am blessed to have you all in my life.

Monday, April 14, 2008

We fought the lawn.....

And the lawn won.

Ouch. At least it won from the perspective that today I can't sit down. I couldn't really sit down (or walk, or um, MOVE) yesterday either but I still sucked it up and put on my big girl panties and went back outside after we spent all day Saturday helping pull up the "grass" in our front yard with our landlord.

In case you've missed it in earlier blogs, I hate the house that we rent. It's small and cramped and all I do is sit in it and think of all of the minor ways our landlord could improve it - with HIS money. Because I'm not spending MY money to do it. But a big point of contention has been the front yard. Because despite the size issues with the house, it sits on a double lot and is completely fenced it. That is nice because it keeps the kids somewhat contained. I mean, forget the dog, just contain my kids. We live on a fairly busy street so that fence is important in a multitude of ways. But the yard.....

Let's put it this way. We had more crabgrass and clover than we did anything else. It was a mess of weeds, prickles, and new cross species of who knows what other kind of vegetation. And I mean really, who wants to sit outside in a crappy yard? Not me man.

So I've been pestering my landlord about it for awhile and finally, he caved. I have that effect on people because I'm freakishly persistent. Or maybe I just get bitchy. I'll have to ask Skippy, LOL. But anyway, the catch was that he would do it, but we were going to help. Little did we know that it would take all weekend. Our weekends have been stretched thin lately. Three weekends ago everything revolved around the Chunk's birthday party. Then last weekend, some dear and wonderful friends threw some other dear and wonderful (pregnant) friends the unisex family friendly baby shower to end all baby showers, complete with no less than eighteen dozen cupcakes. Of all of the more recent weekends that one has been my favorite because all I had to do was show up with two dozen frosted cupcakes in hand and my perfectly groomed and well behaved brood in tow.

At least I managed to get the cupcakes frosted. The brood....well let's just say that they were there. But K & A know how to throw a party that's for sure. And when all was said and done, I was really looking forward to sitting on my big old butt this weekend and enjoying the sunshine that was forecast. But instead I got turned into a landscaper extraordinaire.

So Saturday the landlord rented a sod cutter - it's basically a huge bread knife for grass. And I will say, watching Skippy and Landlord try to work the damn thing was high entertainment on a Saturday. But man, it was 83 here that afternoon. And after six hours of cutting, rolling, moving, hauling, and swearing at rolls of prickly dry icky grass in the sun, we were beat. And burned. And tired. Then yesterday we started all over again, ripping up the rest, and then tilling the whole mess, raking it by hand, and finally.....FINALLY getting the seed down.

Now it had better flippin' grow. That's all I'm sayin'. Because my shoulders are killing me. And my legs. And my butt.

Grow grass. GROW.

Friday, April 11, 2008

New friends....or OLD friends?


Yesterday the kiddos and I drove into Portland and met up with some mommy friends and all of their assorted kiddos at OMSI. It was pretty wild because I was meeting up with two other moms that I have technically known for six years or so, but who I have never met.

When I was pregnant with Banana, my old college roommate (Hi Tracey!) was a member of an online pregnancy and child rearing support board called storknet. She got me completely and totally hooked on the pregnancy forums. I was in a "storkclub" with a bunch of other women from all over, and we were all due to have babies in the same three month time period. We talked about everything, from child rearing to cravings to insomnia. Very tight bonds began to form - we gave each other support with the good and the bad, and we helped to calm each other's fears or to give support when someone got less-than-great news. We depended on each other. And when the babies came, we all moved on to a whole new adventure - some of us with our first child, some of us with our second, third, or even fourth. But most of us stayed in touch.

Then when Banana was about three or four months old, I was having a really difficult time nursing her. I was desperate and frantic for support - a brand new first time mama who really didn't have a clue what I was doing. (God if I had only known then what I know now, but that's a whole different rant.) Anyway, I started looking on other online communities and made some new "friends" and received great advice from one other board in particular (which shall remain unnamed, LOL). When I found out that several of the mommies from my original storkclub had also migrated over to the new place, I was hooked.

So for six years, I have talked to these women almost daily. They were there for me when my second and third babies were born. They were sweet and wonderful when we had a miscarriage, and again when we had a dangerous ectopic. When my Dad got sick, they were some of the first people I turned to for help, for prayers, and for tears. They know about all of my struggles and all of my victories, and a few of them are counted among my closest friends.

So to meet two of them in person yesterday was a blast. It was a little bit like a blind date. I was nervous! But when all was said and done it was fun and surreal and just a general hoot. It was like seeing old friends for the first time. Hell, that's exactly what it was. We went to OMSI and took the kids out for pizza and when we got into the van to head home much MUCH later than I ever could have imagined, I realized how much I depend on my mommy-board friends. But now to put faces and hugs with those user names....well that's really neat.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

My brilliant little scholar

Today Banana brought home a behavior slip. Cue ominous music: *da da da dummmmmmmmm*

She got it because she was talking during class time. And talking during circle time. And talking during patterns. And talking during handwriting.

The kid chatters like a blue jay. There's no stopping her.

(Somewhere my Mother is laughing because I'm sure that *my* little girl sounds just like *another* little girl my Mom once knew. Just desserts indeed.)

So Banana was warned. And then she was moved. And then she was warned again. And then she was moved again. And then she had to put her head down on the desk. And then she got morning recces taken away.

And she would.not.stop.talking.

Apparently she was still going strong when it was time for patterns. That's when Ms. G claps a pattern and then the kids clap it back to her. Way intense Kindergarten work ya know?

So all through patterns Banana is discussing nuclear physics and Hannah Montana and who knows what else and finally Ms. G had really just about had enough.

(She's laughing while she's telling me this story, and I pretty much just want to duct tape my kids' jaw at this point.)

So finally in the middle of patterns, Ms. G is fed up and she snaps "BANANA W!"

Well Banana's head snapped right up.

She stopped talking.

And the damn kid clapped the damn pattern.

*snort* Little monkey.

Monday, April 7, 2008

My dinnertime dilemma

I seriously don't know what my problem is. Lately I cannot seem to make an adequate meal plan for the week to save my life.

Here's the deal: At least for the time being, I am a stay at home Mom. That means that every day I attempt to clean my house. I chase my kids around. I let the dog out, change diapers, do my best to keep banshee screaming to a minimum. Last but not least, every night I make an effort to perform feats in the kitchen that result in a nutritious and filling meal for my family. Except sometimes on Wednesdays. That's dollar ninety nine kids meal night at KFC. I know. Barf-o-rama. But seriously people - I can't FEED my kids the same amount of food that they get for a buck ninety nine at KFC on Wednesdays, and at least I'm not overrun with McDonald's toys.

But anyway, back to dinner. I'm having major meal anxiety. First of all, I'm one of those freaks who likes to grocery shop. Dare I say it, but I enjoy it. Yes I had toys when I was a child. Be nice. I just like going to the grocery store - especially when the girl-offspring are both at school. Then it's like a vacation. I peruse the meat department and I can practically smell the grill. I meander through produce and envision brightly colored salads, and smiling happy children who always eat their vegetables. Or I walk past the margarita mixers and imagine myself on a beach, where the stock boy Jon stops shelving grape juice long enough to become Javier, the cabana boy who hovers anxiously at my elbow waiting for me to finish one umbrella clad drink so that he can fulfill his sole purpose in life, to get me a new one.

Then the baby usually knocks over a display of something terribly embarrassing, like a tower Kotex and I come back to Earth and scurry away to go stock up on yogurt or something equally practical, but the bottom line is that I like to grocery shop.

I love getting a good deal and I can usually find one, in part because I'm a tightwad like my Dad was and in part because I'm addicted to The Grocery Game. (check it out: - use me as a referral if you sign up) Our deep freezer is currently full of frozen shrimp meat, flank steaks, ground pork and ground beef, pot roast Italian sausage, hamburgers, chicken breasts, and a small turkey.

I have no idea what to do with any of it.

Seriously. It's really sad, but I feel like I just keep on making the same five or six meals over and over. I wake up in the morning and one of the first thoughts in my head is "crap what am I going to make for dinner tonight?" I'm having some major culinary issues here people. It doesn't have to be fancy. Or expensive. Or gourmet. I honestly couldn't care less. I just want it to taste good and not be the exact same thing we ate last week. And I want my family to enjoy it. In fact, recently when I told Skippy's mom that her son has gotten much better at complimenting my cooking, he replied over shoulder, "You've gotten better at cooking!" So I suppose that's something. I used to be way too intimidated to try a new recipe, or to make something completely from scratch. If it didn't come out of a box, I wasn't sure what to do with it.

But I appear to be in a rut. I'm attempting to plan meals at least a week in advance, and I find myself sitting at the table with my pen poised over my list, and I'm just writing the same things over and over.

So here's where you all come in. Yes, the ten faithful people who read my blog, LOL. I need some help. Ya'll need to email this blog to your friends, your moms, your personal chefs, whatever and then everyone needs to send me some recipes at because this old apron-wearing dog obviously needs some new tricks. Skippy is a whiz in the kitchen (he's even learned to clean up his own messes, double bonus!) but his hours don't let him have much time to cook at home during the week. So give me some new ideas. Email me an old family favorite, or get that recipe from a friend that you've been dying to try out yourself and pass it along.

All I ask is that it's fairly easy, uses ingredients that I can find in Safeway, and isn't full of too much processed crap. After all, I DO feed my kids KCF once a week.

Help a gal out, would ya?

What's that smell?


It's big soft pretzels....

*sniff sniff*

And caramel corn....and fountain soda.


It's an ice skating rink.


Oh - and it's clothes. New clothes hanging on racks under fluorescent lights that have never been worn. Clothes that still have creases in them from their shipping boxes. Clothes that are from THIS season.

It's the smell......of the mall.

Be still my heart.

Last week a girlfriend and I had had enough. Despite the fact that we both love our nice little town in the middle-of-nowhere Oregon, we needed to take a road trip. And what better way to get out of town than to go to the mall. We are female and therefore, we shop. It's a deep seeded primal need that sometimes cannot be ignored.

And I have a minivan. Sweet.

In theory, it was a great idea. Get out of town for the day, have some lunch, and shop till we dropped right?

Um. Kinda.

In reality it was more like a roller coaster with no brakes. After a beautiful hour long ride into Portland, full of girlie chatter while our angelic cherubs blissfully napped away secure in their car seats and safely strapped into my van enjoying ample leg room, we unloaded all the kids and attacked Lloyd Center.

My sincere apologies to Lloyd Center.

That's two mommies, four children under age five, and a butt load of insanity. On the outside, I bet we looked pretty dang organized - kids holding hands, baby in the stroller, everyone happy and chattering. But from the inside (the eye of the storm, if you will), it was like a hurricane. We were like one of those storms of the century that you always see meteorologists drooling about - the ones that make any self respecting weatherman's eyes gleam - a huge slow-moving mass full of barely contained fury, steadily creeping in to systematically devour everything in our path with complete and unrestrained chaos. People scattered in our wake, running to the safety of Mrs. Fields with reckless abandon. The sales staff at Ross hid behind the counter, huddled trembling in tornado position until we were safely past. The ice skaters twirled and whizzed out of our range. And the poor young kids offering free samples of hand lotion obviously had a death wish.

But damn it, we had fun.

Just to be in a mall - a REAL mall was so worth it.

Oregon is beautiful. The trees are huge. The mountains are breathtaking. The waterfalls and the rivers and the panoramic landscape that greets me every morning is stunning.

But dear Lord - sometimes I just miss the mall. Thank you Almighty, for the Lloyd Center. I'm just happy that once we left, it was still standing.