Saturday, December 31, 2011

Good Bye 2011...Possibly. Hello, Hopefully...

It's finally time to say good bye to a lot of things:

1. Good bye to to the POD that has taken up most of our drive way for the last 7 months. We will see if it is truly gone in two days. Possibly...

2. Possibly, good bye to the contractor, though I do love our team of great guys. I've had enough of coming face to face with them every morning. Rain or shine. Happy or grouchy. I have to smile and look sane, even if I'm in bunny slippers and and a fluffy robe yelling at my kids to get to school.

3. Possibly good bye to not knowing where anything is. My life has been shuffled and stuffed, hauled and mauled for the last two years. Complete strangers viewing my bra and underwear collection is bound to be over soon, right?

4. Possibly think about why I do not need to deal with miscellaneous crap and meaningless drama. Who needs that extra baggage? I've packed and lifted enough lately, forget bringing me extra stuff.

5. Possibly re-lizing and re-aligning what is truly important. I'm tired of running in circles trying to keep up with the invisible hamster wheel of craziness. Just because you are on the road, don't mean you have to keep driving in the wrong direction.

6. Hopefully saying hello to lots of time with family, good friends and quality time.

7. Hopefully saying hello to regular sleep and a life full of no boxes, packing or unpacking.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Fa La La La BLAH! My Christmas Dreams & Thank You Very Much!

OK, I have my own Christmas dreams. They include simple things, like watching Scrooge with Albert Finney once a year. I love the idea that you can be a total Scrooge and the spirits can fix you in one night. It just is not a total and proper Christmas without the song Thank You Very Much sung by the townspeople through the streets of this re-hashed musical version of the Dicken's classic.

Right now, my husband needs a visit from the three spirits, and Marley, too. I'm trying to get him to watch any version of A Christmas Carol with me. His reply: "We have at least four versions of that stupid movie, I'm going to watch football."

It doesn't take much to crush my Christmas dreams, but I need someone who finds the hope and magic that comes with the ghosts. I need to believe no matter what hair brained things I've done throughout the long year of 2011, that even I can be transformed into a new and better version of myself.

And if I'm looking for improvement, why can't everyone? Why can't we all thank the spirits and get on with it? Why can't we all buy into a little magic now and then? It's free, or maybe just a small fee on Netflix.

Thank you very much! Get rid of the Fa La La Blahs, grab some hot cocoa and watch A Christmas Carol.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Holiday Spirits: Get Out Of The Way

I hate shopping at this time of the year. This is essentially when I feel like online shopping was truly invented for me. I would rather sip my coffee, point and click and order than go anywhere near a mall in December.

I have already had my car backed into. Watched a lady get rear ended. And, if I listen carefully, I can hear all kinds of honking. Drivers are not patient, they are crazed and just want you to get the heck out of their way. Fast.

Beyond the parking lot, are the lines full of anxious shoppers. Today, I thought a man had only one item, I asked if he would like to go in front of me. "Thanks," he said, and proceeded to go in front of me and ask for something out of a special cabinet. I know, because I had to wait with my three lonely items on the conveyor belt while they got his "special" tequila out of the back cabinet.

Now, generally, if you know me, you know I appreciate good tequila. Please don't, however, accept to go in front of me in line if you are going to take 10 minutes finding your item while I wait for you. Not cool.

That tale tell energy is out there again. People are crazy, impatient and kind of mean. Ladies seem incredulous if I hold the door for them. Salespeople are incredulous that I'm not yelling at them about charging me for someone else's avocados.

Ugh. I do love hibernating this time of the year. Stay home, bake cookies and dream about the good old days with Web Van, that sounds about right.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

When Can Kids Be Kids? High School Applications and How They Can Impact Your Entire Life

Well, I have to say that I've pretty much had it. If it isn't hard enough to be 13, we've added a whole new dimension to the teenage twilight zone: high school.

My own middle school years flowed seamlessly into high school. I never thought much about it. There was the high school on Baker Road, and that is where you went after 8th grade. My 9th grade teacher did tell my parents to get me out of that place and get me into a private high school, but I was in 9th grade, I had my friends and there was no way that I would switch.

Now my 13 year old daughter is taking SSATs and writing applications and having interviews and visit days. Even I am writing essays about why my kid is so fantastic that they should be dying to have her at their school--despite me forking over the $40, 000.00 check for tuition. No matter how fantastic my own essay is, or my kid is, the old boys network still exists: if you know somebody or ARE somebody, you have a significantly better chance to beat the regular process. It's like the elite line at the airport.

Welcome to the real world kiddo, you might be 13, but this is how the world works. Welcome to decision making and test prepping and acing an interview. We send our kids to a school that treasures childhood, now it's like WTF? Grow up and grow up fast.

Ruth was playing Lego's with her 10 year old sister. I had to break into a litany about homework and getting it done and done right. No Lego, no movie, just study. There words are hard to spit out, because I don't believe much of this pressure cooker practice, but we live in a world that is steaming up.

There are people out there that are playing the game every minute. They are networking like a flu virus and they are teaching their offspring to do the same. If you go to the right high school then you can go to the right college. Heck, I know this starts at preschool for some families.

I think I'll take Ruth to Toys R Us this weekend, at least there, a kid can be a kid.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Lost November

My husband said something very interesting tonight, he said that we've lost all of November. Yes, now where did November go? Every year, we hit November and have what we basically can call the birthday month.

Deb 11/2
Francesca 11/3
John 11/4
Beth 11/6
Michelle 11/11
Rick 11/13
Birk 11/20
Lynda 11/23

It is the birthday onslaught. When two people in your family and some of your very best friends all have birthdays in this kind of succession, it is one big birthday month. One big birthday extravaganza. Non-stop, all of the time fun and frolic full of gift wrap, champagne, and party hats.

Once we hit the end of November, we are ready to slow down and take a breather, but oh, whoa, it's now December! December and the Christmas countdown has started ticking as soon as we finish the turkey leftovers.

Funny enough, we just had a week off with the kids. We slept late, stayed in our pajamas and had no routine, which was our ruin. You basically get nothing done when you aren't forced to get up and get on the move. We were slugs, but we were birthday celebrating slugs.

On a cheerier note, we learned that 6 bottles of champagne for 8 people in a limo is not enough to help us finish off the end of the birthday extravaganza month. Oh birthdays, birthdays, birthdays. Older AND wiser, what a treat.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Getting Locked In A Spa Locker At Midnight On Your 10th Birthday

Wow! That's a title that says it all, doesn't it?

It was Birk's 10th birthday. She crossed into double digits, excited and happy to be leaving 9 and all that baby jazz behind her.

Around 11 PM, her dad took Birk, her sister, Ruth, and her best friend to the pool to finish off what was a pretty terrific day. It was time for the famous night swim.

What we didn't expect, was for her best friend to lock her into a pint size spa locker and forget the combination.

No staff on duty, no manager at the front desk of the resort, and my baby trapped in a locker. This puts "use at your own risk" in a whole new light.

Luckily, after 10 minutes of panic, the smartest of the group on the outside of the locker (which included a 9 year old, my husband and a security guard), 13 year old Ruth, figured out how to talk Birk through opening the locker from the inside.

I was blissfully cleaning up from the happy day when Birk arrived shaken and tear ridden. The story was outrageous. We, of course, went on and on about how you would never put yourself into that kind of situation.

Then, we also remembered, kids get into trouble. They get into all kinds of trouble. They get into the kind of trouble that you can't begin to think of warning them about.

Even after 10 years, parenting is still a tricky job. It will always be a tricky job. Things just keep changing, and you never know what is coming up next.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Distressed County French? How 'Bout Distressed American?

We are trying to pick new furniture. I thought this was supposed to be fun, but it's only distressing me out. We only want something to sit on, why is it so complex?

It really comes down to the fact that as a family, we are not all that concerned about the "statement" that we are making. Do we want a couch that screams 2011 Ikea modern, or, are we looking for something traditional straight from the farm, er Barn?

Maybe something from a Crate or a Barrel? Perhaps, we are all just Lazy Peoples?

I'm contemplating a bench from a catalog. A bench that costs more than my first car. All I have to go on is a picture and some measurements. How does one know what that's going to be like when it arrives on my front porch?

Wish me luck. I say me, because, that's what it comes down to. Of all the people that don't care about the furniture in our house, I'm the one that cares the most.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Why, Lion, Why?????

I am an Apple customer. I have the iPhone (only 4 mind you), an iPad and a Mac computer. For a little while, my iPhone has been acting up. My calendars were not syncing, my photos were doing wonky things and my music kept disappearing.

Then, it was time to move to the "cloud." I was not so excited about the "cloud" because I was having trouble with mobile me. On the other hand, maybe the "cloud" would solve all of my problems and my life would return to normal.

I fearlessly figured out how to buy and download Lion. It was not exactly a bargain at $29.99. I clicked all the buttons. I waited hours for it to download.


Now I can't open any word documents. I'm a writer, half my life is written in word documents! My calendars still aren't syncing properly, even though I'm following everything step by step. I can't even upload my pictures to blogger. Otherwise the picture that you would see here would be a very inappropriate picture of me giving the "cloud" the bird.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Why I Love Teenagers

I was tidying up the house when I found the lyrics to Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody taped to the outside of the sliding shower doors. I love teenagers!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween Cat Costumes By Birk: Happy Halloween?

Ever wonder what your cat can morph into for Halloween? Birk can help you. Perhaps, give these a try:
Ghost Kitty
Cool Cat
Pioneer Kitty

Monday, October 24, 2011

Yay! It's Monday! Marvelous Monday!

I've written many posts about depressing Monday mornings. However, today, I'm quite glad it's Monday. I have the house to myself (along with a construction crew pouring cement and using some kind of saw) and there is a strange peace in knowing what I'll be doing for the rest of the day.

On the weekends, there is no real schedule. It shifts and changes all of the time. I plan nothing, because if I plan something, it doesn't happen anyway. We go with the flow, which might sound both difficult and nice, but this also means that we get nothing accomplished.

Yes, I have hopes and dreams on the weekend. Maybe we'll visit that museum exhibit that I want to see--and do it as a family and impart fabulous culture and knowledge upon our children. Maybe we will sort the last lot of boxes, take the donations to Good Will, or actually cook a nice Sunday dinner?

Those are my dreams, but none of those dreams ever really come true. I am a little water plant in a quick moving stream. If the wind blows in one direction, my fronds go that way. I have no power against the tide.

However, on Monday, I am once again mistress of my own destiny--to a certain point. I am in charge of myself. I can only blame me if nothing gets ticked off my list and I get ticked off. Marvelous Monday. What do you think of that? Is a certain place freezing over?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Thinking about Halloween: Life, Death and the First Day of 3rd Grade

It was the first day of school for Birk today. We were making eggs over easy on the stove together, cooking and chatting.

BIRK: Mom, when you're reincarnated, what would you like to come back as?
MOM: Reincarnated?
BIRK: You know, after you die, you come back as something else. I'd like to be a bunny or a Pegasus.
MOM: The thing is...
BIRK: Do you get to come back to the same family? Can I be in this family when I'm reincarnated?

You have to wonder where these ideas come from. I know we've discussed Heaven, so this reincarnation thing side swiped me.

Over coffee with my friend, she said her son created his own idea of Heaven after his grandmother passed away. In his idea of 6-year-old Heaven, people lay on their backs in the grass and stare up at clouds. He was also insistent that his cremated grandmother have a "stone" somewhere with her name.

It must be like being a little explorer in this vast world. Ideas and images fly around and you have to grasp and grapple. His mother wondered where he got the idea of a tombstone.

I guess we drive by cemeteries in the car and we put all kinds of freakish decorations out for Halloween. TV and movies probably add to the it and there is a bevy of information about religions and beliefs that is discussed at school.

I'm quietly thinking about a conversation that I can have with Birk later. We live in a world where ideas are colors blending on the palette. Time to paint a masterpiece.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Computerless, Artless, and Landlineless

Dear Friends,

It's been about 3 months since I've had a steady functioning computer of my own. I'm developing a permanent squint from gazing at the small, rectangular screen of my iphone. I pretty much can do anything with my phone now. It's not a skill I want to really keep honing, though.

I'm also, once again, living among the boxes. I'm tired of boxes. I'm tired of packing. I'm tired of unpacking. I'm tired of lugging. We've decided that we are not hanging any art until all of the boxes are sorted and put away. It's very weird to be living with bare walls. We have a lot of art and a lot of it created was by our kids. It feels dull and lifeless and very boxed in.

We also have no landline telephone. This is really no biggie. However, have you ever had to make every dentist, doctor and school visit appointment while squinting at your smart phone screen calendar and yelling into the speaker phone? It does not make one feel very together and organized, I can tell ya that.

Oh, and I forgot to mention that we have no tv. I probably miss this the least. It would be nice to see the fall line up, though. We did find the stereo, though.

I've gone both back and forward in time these last few months. I'm ready for good old down time.

Sign Me,
Don't Box Me In Again Until I Get My Sleeping Vacation

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Greetings from Banff

Dear Friends,

Here we are in Banff. George is at a conference, and I'm the tagalong. This is good considering our house is a wreck and my computer is broken...again!

Yes, the computer. I guess it's time to visit the Apple Genius people again. Oh, it must be nice to have a job where you are called a genius. Everyone looks up to you and wants and needs your attention. Nice. My job usually doesn't go in that direction, considering that I have two teenagers. (btw RIP Steve Jobs).

Banff is a beautiful place. Have to complain a little about the beautiful Banff Springs Hotel. For the second year in a row we ended up in the parking lot view room. We made such a scene last time, we figured that this could not happen again. AND...this was after George called 3 times to make sure that we were not in a parking lot view room. Not even if we were really looking at cars, we are looking at concrete walls. What is the point when you are in beautiful wilderness???

Now, we have been upgraded in room and price to the "best view in the house." It is truly spectacular. It is also because we have been in the "best view in the house" before that we whine so much about the parking lot view. My goodness!

House. Disaster. The renovation looks great. All of our crap? Looks bad. Need I go further? I think not.

We are celebrating 18 years of marriage. Still no one I'd rather spend my time with even after all of this time. He wants me to give up my land ownership and become a full time water girl. Love will always make you a fool. That is all I can say.

I'm going to run and watch The Help. Hope you are having a good week.


Thursday, September 29, 2011

"Falling" In

Usually, by the second week of September, things are adjusting to their own kind of normal. The routine gets rolling, all of the bills are paid and the necessary forms are turned in.

This year, the new normal is all chaos all of the time.

I'm on round two of a broken computer. I just fixed that thing and pumped money into it to do so. Now it is lifeless and needs some kind of repeat divine intervention from the geniuses at Apple.

I'm still living in my one bedroom, one tent abode with one husband, three kids and a big, hairy black dog. I now know why dressers and closets were invented. Everyone needs a sock and underwear drawer, if nothing else, unless you're a dog.

I hope to be back on track soon, if it's not overgrown and unrecognizable.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Mommy Angst: Cut-Throat Competition for Private School Acceptance

Our kids go to the cutest, private school. O-k, I've said it and you, reader, are either cringing that I used the word "private" or you have private school in your background.

My kids did not end up at an "elitist" institution out of breeding. My husband and I went to public schools and I think we turned out pretty o-k. We kind of ended up at private school by accident. How does one make a ca trillion dollar mistake such as this? Read on...

Our first born, John, is an early September birthday boy. If you are a parent of a September boy, you know there is always one question before they enter kindergarten, "Do you send them early, or do you hold them back?"

If you are new to this debate, at the heart of it, a lot of people believe that you should give a child the "gift of time." This especially holds true for boys. I'm a Montessori preschool teacher, and when it came time for our son's third year of preschool, it was considered his "kindergarten year."

My husband and I, just figured that John would enter the public school kindergarten class with his "gift of time." He would be 6, and that would be around the age of most of the boys in his class. We went to tour the public school kindergarten and uh oh.

The tour guide said that they like the kindergartners to enter school being able to write their name and that most kids are reading by the time they enter 1st grade. John was over at Montessori school probably reading chapter books as we took our tour. This wasn't going to work out so well.

We toured 1st grade. The class sizes were small, but there were 600 kids on recess that border a public park. All we could picture was our little baby in that big class. He was quiet and shy and sweet and he was going to get lost!

Meanwhile, our Montessori teacher called us in for a conference. She told us if John entered kindergarten, it was going to be a disaster. Basically, we were told there was no way John could do kindergarten again.

She recommended that we tour a number of small private schools. We started touring, and the rest is history. We chose the sweetest school that was a cross between Montessori and traditional school. It actually was nick named the "Hippie School" a long time ago.

This was not a fancy school with a parking lot full of fancy cars. Being in Northern California, it had an eensy weensy celebrity attendance, but for the most part, you wouldn't know it was a private school, until you got the bill.

There is one class for each grade. Each class has a team of teachers, usually one male and one female. Every teacher at the school knows you and knows your kid. There is music and art and a wonderful projects lab where the kids use saws, hammers and drills. It has been a lovely place for our now 8th grader to grow and learn.

However, this school ends at 8th grade. Now, we are being catapulted out of our comfort zone and into the land of high school. Public school is large and excellent and facing big budget cuts. Private school is uber competitive and exceedingly expensive and excellent--it faces no budget crisis as the prices just keep going up.

Now we are on that age old question again, what do we do? Do we sell the farm, and maybe a couple of siblings to afford an excellent secondary education? The competition is so fierce for so few spots, you can't go anywhere around 8th grade parents from our school and not have the "High School Conversation."

Where did you apply? Do you think you'll get in? How many recommendations? Test scores? How many times did you child take the SSAT? Did you take the SSAT courses? How was the interview? What did your child write their essay about? Grades?

Calgon! Take me away! We will get letters from the schools about acceptances March 18th. Until then, oh boy. There is tension among the best of friends. There is parental angst over who will get the coveted one or two spots at the top schools.

Then the rumors fly right alongside the circus. If you give more money, you have a better chance. If you have this zip code, you have a better chance. If you play such and such sport you have a better chance. If you have siblings you have a better chance. If you're famous, if you're friends with so and so, if, if, if...

If this is high school, we are going to need Valium to get through the college application process.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Overdue Greetings from California: 9/2011

Dear Friends,

September is a high action month. We are on the go, and usually don't know where we are going. I have two calendars, one paper and one electronic. Wouldn't it be nice if there was a magic system that combined them flawlessly? Oh there is, it is called organiztion! Oops, clean out of that in my mental cupboard.

We are still in the one bedroom, one tent ark. It's all ok. Every once in a while I feel like I really have things under control. The next millisecond, things are falling on me in the closet and I know I absolutely don't have ANYTHING under control.

We actually have no furniture in our regular house. We have a big, expensive job ahead of us to try to fix that situation. Since we are all so bad at trying to choose things, it may be that way for a long while.

Kids are back at school...I think today made it the ninth consecutive day that we tried to get to school somewhat around the time it starts. We usually are a little more punctual at the beginning of the year and slide backwards to being Indiana Jones rolling under the closing stone door late. The pattern already set for this year scares me...if we are this bad now, imagine where we will be by Christmas?

I know that's not a lot of info. Add a broken computer and a smashed phone, and you get a clearer picture to why this blog is suffering.

That's all I can say for now.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Blog: Canadian Chronicles: The Turn

Every summer there is a turning point. There is a day, and suddenly, I look up from my gazillionth load of summer laundry and I’ve just had it.

I’ve had it with laundry and figuring out where the next meal is coming from out of the jumble of food in the pantry. I’ve had it with scrubbing the toilets. I’ve had it with picking wrappers up from the floor.

I’ve had it with searching for batteries that work and flashlights and towels and socks. I’ve had it with making beds and unmaking beds. I’ve had it with trying to be polite and remembering my gracious hostess (oops typed hostile) manners.

I’ve had it with trying to make brilliant conversation with strangers and smiling blankly at passers by, when I just want to lock myself in my room.

And the kids…
The kids start saying how much they miss their pets and their favorite pizza place. They are kind of done.

It’s like being on a crazy road trip, and sometimes it’s time to turn that car around and head home.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

September 1st: School and Back to the Race

We are back and back to breakneck speed. If I think of everything on the to do list individually, it seems completely sane and doable. When I stand back and look at the forest that the trees make, it is a dizzy-fying Monet painting.

I guess that you could look at something like that and say that there is beauty in the chaos.

Right now, all of see is a field of crows.

Catch up and keep up are my varsity sports. I think I'm lettering in neither right now, but I'll keep you posted.


Friday, August 26, 2011

Technical Difficulties

Hi, I am so close to civilization I can taste it. Yet, I have no computer and no Internet. I'm limping along, but will hopefully be up and running soon.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Canadian Chronicles: Where The Heck Is The (Fill In The Blank)?

We are almost to the two week mark in the Canadian wilds. What was I up to today? Matching sets of sheets.

Can someone please tell me why I have the bottoms to some sets and the tops to others. One matching pillowcase here, no matching pillowcase there, and no quilt to match any of the shams? WTH?

Thank goodness for my fancy college education. Thank goodness I never went for my masters degree. How could I explain to myself that I am matching sheet sets with my years of sweat and tears of study.

Yes, I was having a worse time finding matching sheets than I ever have with socks.

Well, what is the big deal you may ask. The big deal is that we go through this stupid exercise every year and every year we come up with some big, new, wondrous idea of how to organize this linen disaster so that it never happens again.

Well, it happens again every year.

Every year, I wonder what the sheet fairies do with my icky, leftover sheets.

What the heck do they do with them? Where do they go?

If you’re coming to the Taj this summer, please bring a hostess gift of a set of Shabby Chic Sheets from Target. This kind dries the best in the dryer in this humid environment. Then you know for sure you’ll have a matching set of sheets, just like at a normal hotel.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Canadian Chronicles: Eyes Ahead: What Is Coming Down the Pike? Goofy adages and the Y2K Teen.

My son recently returned from a trip to China. He cursed me about my little “sayings.” He said, when he uses them, no one knows what he is talking about.

Hmmmm? Cooking on the back burner? Doing something like a house on fire? A month of Sundays?

Well, today, as I changed and washed sheets after our first round of guests, I was thinking about the next jump.

The next jump you may ask? Yes, when I was riding and jumping on a course, you always kept your eyes ahead and looked where you were going next. Look where you want to go…

I have a gazillion sayings that come just from me and my own experience. I suppose they are not written down anywhere and no one else in their right mind uses them, but they are a kind of short hand scrawl in my family.

My kids certainly know what “putting a bounty” on an item means. If we have to “fly like an eagle” they had better hurry up and get out the door or we’ll for sure be late.

Someone asked how I felt when all of the guests leave and I’m alone. My mind is always on the path to the next item, I’m never in the moment of the leaving, I’m approaching the next jump in my mind.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Canadian Chronicles: Family Feud Garbage and Recycling Style

Garbage is monitored in a police type state in this sector of cottage country. The local dump is filling up, and it is all about policing our own garbage and recycling if we want to keep it open.

This is garbage up close and personal. In the city, we fill our garbage cans and roll them out to the corner. The very nice garbage men come along in their truck and presto change-o, gone-o.

Two months a year, I really think my money that is paid to Marin Sanitary is quite a bargain—ever with the new rate hikes. There is a sterility and detachment that is akin to buying bologna in the supermarket.

Sometimes we think about where our garbage goes, but there is nothing like seeing a mama bear eating it with her babies. When that big momma is eating your leftovers, how can you not contemplate what your leftovers are.

On the abyss of the pit, there is very little that is poetic. Pieces of trash and more trash co-mingle in a tangle of stinky, smelly mess. Where do old toasters go to die? Just look in the hole of the garbage dump.

Maybe if were all confronted with actually putting our own garbage bags in our cars and driving them to the dump and then adding them to a cesspool of crap, we would all be recycling more vigilantly.

My son is pretty good about being in charge of the trash and recycling. That was, until some fellow Americans visited us, and 2 weeks later, when we were getting ready to take the recycling and the garbage to the dump, or a dump run as we call it, we realized, that our relatives are not very good recyclers.

Yes, old moldy orange peels, diapers and meat wrappers co-habitated with the cans, paper, plastic and glass.

Somebody had to sort it, posthumously, so to say. As the main working mama at the B&B we call the TAJ, I was stepping back from that one. All of the kids tried to pass that one on, but my eldest daughter was the worst. She was adamant that SHE was NOT sorting stinky, rotting garbage.

I told her we all have to do jobs that we’d rather not do and that is it is part of life. Not very impressed with my little speech, she resisted royally or princessly. Let the feud begin.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Canadian Chronicles: Arts and Crafts and Kayaks, Grown Up Style

As I sit on the floor of my bedroom, ripping through packing tape and sorting small parts, I think about being old and less crafty. Gasp, can that be true?

There was a time, when I did needlepoint, crocheting, sewing, rug hooking—you know the kinds of stuff that were considered hobbies. At one point, I got a new hobby, the granddaddy mac of all hobbies, I call it children.

Part of the children hobby, is assemblage. Instead of the gentler crafts, my grown up arts and crafts session feature things like today’s project: assembling a fan.

I am reading pictogram directions, twisting and turning L keys, and looking for small bolts that somehow, seem to be always missing. I know full well, if I screw this one up, the plastic fan blade could hurl across the room and kill me quicker than I can say, “read all of the directions.”

Yes, these days, I am putting together furniture, children’s toys and small household appliances as my crafts.

This makes me think of a funny story. One time my friend, Deborah, and I decided that we could pick up the two-man kayak from the local wilderness outfitter’s store by ourselves. If we DID NOT wait for the husbands to do the job, we could be enjoying the kayak that evening.

Deborah is not one to shy away from any task. She is the type of Girl Scout that you want right by your side when the zombie’s attack. We are always doing things I am sure that I would never be confident enough to do on my own. Things like fixing showers, toilets and making cement.

Anyway, we got to the kayak store, and needed help getting the giant sized kayak on top of her van. A nice man offered to help us out. Just as he was hoisting it to the top of the van, a storm cloud broke out over us Addams family style.

Half under the car, tying the rope to the frame (his bottom half was quite dry, but his top half was dripping drenched), he looked up at us and said, “Where are your husbands?”

The answer to that, my friends, is the story of my life.

However, I am sitting here with my new fan blowing on me in all its windy glory.

Bless us crafty gals. We kayak faster and get cooler quicker.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Canadian Chronicles: My Wicked Groundhog Kind of Wednesday

The cot-TAJ (from here forward, just TAJ will be used) comes complete with a sweet little guest cottage. This is a cottage in all the usual, regular sense of a Canadian description of cottage. The furniture is shabby, not even shabby chic and there is that telltale cottage smell.

You might not be familiar with the cottage smell in regular real life. It smells musty, a little moldy, stuffy and cabin in the woodsy. When you smell that smell, you know that you have arrived at a bona fide cottage.

Right now, a ground hog is living under this little piece of Canadiana. If you’ve explored some of this blog, you might know that Birk is an animal lover to extreme limits. She was mauled by a wild cat and still insisted that we adopt it, for just one example.

Sooooooo, I found the girls cornering this little ball of wild fur in the garage. They were discussing names and how they could transport him back to California.

As if.

Monday, July 25, 2011

The 2011 Canadian Chronicles: What Did You Do On Friday?

Here is my Friday blow by blow:
1. Wake up at 5:30.
2. Ruth asks what that terrible sound is. Turns out our bazillion year old beer fridge (which actually holds more meat than beer) is making a sound loud enough for the neighbors to hear. This sound can only be described as a pre-EXPLOSION sound.
3. Transfer all food and drinks out of unplugged beer fridge and squeeze everything into our kitchen fridge.
4. Round up donations for the Salvation Army, four bags of garbage, luggage for three, dog food and road trip breakfast snacks. Put all of that stuff in the car.
5. Drive two hours to Ottawa. Almost run over a bunny somewhere in the middle of nowhere.
6. Stop for gas.
7. Scope out random locations to put garbage in different garbage bins. One at Quiznos. One at Harveys.
8. Make a u turn for a donation drop box. Darn, it only took clothing! Still driving around with 4 boxes of books.
9. Stop and visit an ATM.
10. Battle construction and arrive at the dog groomers early.
11. Hit a greasy spoon, find two hairs in our food.
12. Walk around neighborhood, decide to drive to a store.
13. Drive 15 minutes & get call from ready!
14. Maneuver second u turn of the day.
15. Drive all of the way back.
16. Can't find parking, give girls $60 to run in and get dog.
17. Dog's bath actually costs $63, but the guy was feeling nice???
18. Drive to parking structure.
19. Check in early (thank you Westin!)
20. Go for walk with dog, eat lunch at Memories.
21. Pass out at 1:30
22. Freshen up, make a dinner reservation and out to dinner.
23. Get to dinner, no reservations to be found?
24. Watch the Lion King at the NAC.
25. Walk dog.
26. Fell into bed.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Past Canadian Chronicles: Travel Compatability

The first holiday debate ended amicably years ago. We chose a civilized approach to the holidays and trade off celebrating with each side of the family each year. It is very predictable and works very well for all concerned.

The other classic debate we have is over travel: do you fly the red eye or do you take the 6 am flight?

I get no sleep either way, so I might as well fly the red eye and have my kids at least sleep while we are making time to our destination.

I think this is much the same debate that parents have about night drives. Do you drive all night to take advantage of the peace and quiet of sleeping children? I grew up with a night driver, so I, of course like this idea.

George is a day driver. He is a speeding, maniac day driver. He has the tunnel vision of a coal miner with a headlight. He points the car in the direction of the destination and it takes a medical emergency or natural disaster to steer him off course. This includes use of the bathroom and eating.

If you need to go the bathroom, you have to make it abundantly clear that it's an emergency and you have to do it at the first twinge. If you are not direct and clear on this front, you could wind up trying to pee into a ziplock bag, and this is very tricky and mostly doesn't work.

In my family, eating is one of the best parts of a road trip. You buy all of the secret forbidden snacks and proceed to eat them randomly and continuously for the duration of the road trip. Of course, rules dictate that the trip must be over four hours in order to buy entire bags of doritos and assorted childhood favorite candies that you no longer allow yourself to buy in public daylight.

Shorter trips beckon fast food restaurants with poutine, onion rings and double cheeseburgers with bacon. I used to buy my snacks on the road from shady gas stations, but now I have to pre-hoard. There is no hairy eyeball to contend with from George if I pre-plan my menu.

This man believes in not eating the whole trip. You don't get the big gulp or the supersize fries, because then it warrants the aforementioned stop at the bathroom. Why would one leave their speed train and have to pass all of the semi trucks that you just got around again? You eat when you get there, even if it takes 7 hours.

Over the years, I've corrupted him a bit. He's put me more on the straight and narrow. The best thing about 15 years plus of marriage is that you can prepare and strategize for the arguments or roadblocks ahead of time.
I'll tell you one thing: if you try to pee one time in a ziplock bag and it doesn't work, your husband is more likely to make a genuine pitt stop in the future.

Monday, July 18, 2011


If you are reading this thinking that it will be about vampires and werewolves, you are barking up the wrong tree. Sorry for deceiving you.

This is about the light in our cottage closet.

I love this light. It has the most gorgeous glass and ironwork. It is from before the turn of the century. I saw it at my favorite antique lighting store and instantly fell in love. I tried to find a place for it somewhere in our light fixture void and came up with the perfect locale, the walk in closet.

However this light, it…it…it…doesn’t give off much light.

However, every time I see it, I sigh and feel romantic.

People that know me might say, especially my husband, that I have a light fixture fetish. It could possibly be less bad than other kinds, right?

Now, as I search for my clothes in the twilight of my very own closet, feeling romantic, I have something to blame mismatched socks on.

Afterall, we all look better in romantic lighting, am I not right?

Friday, July 15, 2011

The Princess and the Perception

There is something funny about perceptions. We just finished a nice dinner (with a lot of coaching on the art of having kids cleaning the kitchen), and my in laws stopped by after attending a party.

They were talking about their world travels—you know, the usual stuff, spelunking through caves, water travel trips that are billed as adventures where you are never dry, torches, malaria, sleeping with strange families in the jungle.

Good Lord, once again, I was reminded just how different people are. If I knew that I was marrying a descendent of India and Indiana Jones, I would have given this family fair warning.

They all looked completely shocked when I said that I am pretty sure that I will NEVER take any trip where I am in the wilderness in a full bug jacket with two sets of clothes: one wet and one dry.

This shock still gets both sides of the equation—on one hand, after almost 20 years of marriage I am shocked that they do not know me any better than this. On the other hand I think my in laws are shocked that my husband found me, dated me and proposed marriage.

I am not a princess. I do not crave twenty mattresses not piled on a pea. I am just damn tired. I like to have a shower from time to time. Although, if you ask anyone I know, I am not a fashionista girlie girl, I do like some girlies things, like baths.

I grew up dirty. I roamed the countryside. I rode horses in the sun, dust and grit. I mucked stalls daily. I baled hay. I waded in creeks. I swam in ponds, oceans and lakes. I picked wild raspberries. I am over it.

For goodness sake, I was working a full schedule of shifts as a waitress from the age of 12 to 25. I have three kids who are just now getting old enough not to have constant supervision.

I’m ADHD, I can barely find my car keys, let alone manage the schedule and ever shifting possessions of a family of 5.

And then there’s my husband. He is high tech and lives at high speed. Everything comes down to the wire. Our life together is fast paced and ever changing. I have to be ready to pull a bobby pin out of my hair at a moment’s notice to pick the lock when I’ve lost the keys for good.

Yes, I don’t know why I’m still surpising anyone at this point. I’m as transparent as transparent can be, and I’m the first one to admit that I am just too tired.

Note that the sleeping vacation that is my ultimate goal. I am tired. I want to be bored gosh darnnit! I want to wake up and say, “Wow, I have nothing to do today, what should I do?” Then I would go back to bed.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Sitting at the Fun Table

9.999 times I am sitting at the Fun Table. You know, if there is an event, and the entire room is full of stuffed shirts, I can be found at the loud, rambunctious table that is being shushed.

I seem to be a small-time trouble magnet. I'm not usually getting arrested or anything, but I drive the people who are not having a very fun time in life insane. This includes crabby drivers, whom I love to smile and wave at while they are having a fit, and gnarly curmudgeons that complain about both rainy AND sunny days.

My glass is always at least half full, and if I'm grouchy, maybe my glass is half full of wine. I would never have described myself as a party girl for the first 30 years of my life, but let's take a look at this...

Most of my life, I spent with my BFF sidekick from preschool all the way until college...right on down to skipping down the wedding aisle. She thought nothing of our days spent in the freezer section of the grocery store at lunch time, choosing a Sara Lee frozen cake. Then it was two girls, two forks and frozen cake in the car for lunch.

We went to concerts and found that if you go the night before a final exam, you can just stay up, go to class and ace that test the next morning. Who said that hip hop isn't educational? Or maybe it was our late night stop at Denny's on the way home for the all nutritional brain food called Hot Fudge Brownie Sundae?

In any case, maybe I didn't go to the fun table, but the fun table came to me. Whatever, I just hope my place card keeps ending up there!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Greetings from Ottawa!

Here we are. We made it to Ottawa, drove like gangbusters to Plevna. Did a little bit of work getting our lives out of boxes and bins.

Now we're back in the big city. The boys went to the Ottawa Bluesfest to see Cage the Elephant, Rage Against the Machine and the Black Keys perform in concert. Last I heard, the fans were enjoying the music, but were very wet.

The girls went shopping and then had dinner at our favorite Ottawa restaurant, Sante. Then we got to see the movie, Zookeeper. It was cute. The young girls enjoyed it--for a jaded 42 year old, it was better than I expected.

Tomorrow we forage for food and head back to the lake.

I'm back to blogging from the iPhone. Typos and crazy phrases are surely found above!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Circle of Friends

We had a fabulous gathering of friends last night. The weather was post card perfect. It really was a gorgeous, gorgeous night. It is in those occasions that I really feel blessed by the family that is our "friend" family.

When I was growing up, it was my cousins that I saw at each and every holiday and event. At these gatherings, my aunts and uncles chattered in the background, while the kids ran amok. Most of my relatives ALL live within a 15 mile radius of each other. There were, and still are, only a handful of exceptions--uh, like maybe 5, including me.

Food was always homemade and potluck. Everyone had their signature speciality. Every once in a while a fantastic new dish would appear, and the recipe was instantly shared on recipe cards. They still all do this for birthdays, graduations and holidays. That is a very hard part about living across the country from your childhood home.

When we moved to the west coast, I had to leave behind the occasions that defined my ideas of celebration and family. I also left behind the network of support that you don't really realize is there until you don't have it. Especially, after I had my first baby, I realized that I was alone. There was no one to bring over a casserole in the special sharing basket. There was no one to hold that baby while I had a shower.

Last night, I looked around the late night circle of faces on the patio in the candle light. There was so much big history in that little circle. We were all comfortable, the way that family is comfortable. There is a comfort and grace that is so reassuring.

If I had a baby now, there is no doubt that casseroles would appear magically on my doorstep. There is no doubt that any woman, or man, in that circle would hold my precious newborn so that I could take a shower.

We are not afraid to call each other out on the good. the bad or the ugly. There is no fear. We all have seen the highs and lows, and we know that these are solid, friends for good. These, are our west coast family...and we love you!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Noah, I Can Relate: Life on the Ark with 3 Kids and a Dog

Well, we are officially ark dwellers. We have crammed our family of 5 into 700 square feet. One queen size bed, one full size pull out and a loft that is meant for storage, but now sleeps two, are our accommodations.

The ark for two is perfect and romantic. The ark for three is cozy. The ark for four is a bit squished. The ark for five, need I say it?

The ark for 5 is a small scale comparison to what Noah felt like on his ark--minus all of the animal pairs.

What once was minimalistic and sleek, is now crammed with at least five of everything. As usual, the pairs that are taking over this family ark come in shoes. Two or more pairs of shoes for each ark dweller adds up to, well, adds up to a lot of shoes.

One thing is for sure, life is an adventure. If Noah could do it, so can we. We at least have much better weather. I don't know if I prefer goats to teenagers, though.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Pictures off the Walls, Undeck the Halls

Let's think about this rationally: I started packing up the house in, oh, April. Things keep changing around here, and now I'm still packing and it's, oh, end of June!

I finally had to take down the African Linsang from Birk's door. This is the kind of home that we have. Things are taped here and there. Like I've said before, we live here.

It was sad to take this little piece of the rain forest down. Our home is starting to look more like a house. The vibe is there, but it's empty and lonely without our family and our "stuff."

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Up, Down, All Around, Latest Reno Pic

Still packing, still trying to get things squared away. Crazy, just crazy I tell you!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Happy Father's Day To My Dad

My dad has always been the biggest kid. He always has a smile on his face, and in fact, he worked with high school students at his A&W restaurant most of his working career. Not everyone wants to work with teenagers, and not everyone has the patience and skill to do it so well.

I worked with him, and the rest of my family, at the A&W for 13 solid years. Not only did I learn from him as my dad, I learned from watching him handle so many situations. He always trusted me and had high expectations. Life in the fast food lane is chaotic, and he taught me how to handle the chaos with class, time after time.

Now retired, he was the guy that was tough, yet a teddy bear to his employees. Working at the A&W was the first job for a lot of kids, and he gave them their first shot, and sometimes their second chance, after they royally messed up. Yes, his mantra of "You are never too sick to work" is stuck in my brain and my own work ethic.

He also taught us simple things like, when you are on the schedule, you have to show up. However, if no one teaches you this, it's very easy to ignore responsibility--especially when you're a teenager and you'd rather go on that date with a cute boy. Yes, he was my dad, but I think he was dad to a lot of young people during that phase of his life.

My dad is also a finder, and I definitely think he passed this on to me. He can find anything you need. If it's help after you crash your 5th car, he's your guy. If you need a ticket, a missing piece to an old train set, a place to take horseback riding lessons--he will help you find a needle in a haystack, even. Even if you lose yourself, or your way, he can help you find you.

He is always excited about things and life. He loves being a grandfather, or Bompa, as my kids call him. He loves those kids with a passion, and they know it! He embraced grand parenthood with his arms wide open and full of love. No hesitations, no reservations, no crazy advice--he actually is 100 percent in my corner no matter what life throws at me.

Speaking of kids, he is the biggest kid himself. He always has time for people. He always is kind, and a good listener. He will talk to anyone (for a very long time, I learned at a young age) and he is always interested in meeting new people and hearing what they have to say.

One thing that stands out in my mind, is that after I was married, I went directly to Canada. Don't pass go, don't collect your $200 (has inflation effected that?) and don't cruise around on a honeymoon. Get yourself to Canada and hurry up, and well, wait for immigration.

I couldn't work. I couldn't go to school. We had one car that went to work with my husband each day and no money. On my birthday, my dad drove 11 hours to take me out to lunch and take me shopping for "whatever I wanted." I chose new mittens and a hat--it is cold in Ottawa. I think that was one of my best days ever.

When we needed money for our first house, he was there with his checkbook, no questions asked--and I believe most of this was his nature. I think it also was the fact that he trusted me to do the right thing, and the right thing was to pay him back as soon as we could, and we did.

Actually, my dad always expects the world to do the right thing. He is kind and generous with his time and spirit and I think he expects that from the rest of us. Sometimes he is disappointed, but most times not. He will go out of his way to help a stranger, take in stray cats and dogs, and find a silver lining when you're sure that all that is there is rust. When these are the standards, we all try our best to rise up and meet them.

There is so much more to say, but mostly, the biggest thing is thank you. Thank you, dad, for being who you are and teaching the rest of us to be better people by example. Thanks for sticking up for me all of these years, being in my corner, and teaching me how to look at the sunny side of life.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Retro Kitchen Artifacts: the Antique Kavoorkaa

If you remember back to the Seinfeld days, you might remember an episode about Kramer and the "kavoorkaa," a Latvian word for "the lure of the animal." Like many things in pop culture, I've modified the definition, and apply it liberally to my own life.

Seriously, I've taken Seinfeld-isms to the next level. I've bought the complete series dvd set and make my children watch them (when appropriate) so that they can understand why I would ever use a word like "kavoorkaa."

Now, when I am shopping, especially at antique stores, I think about the kavoorkaa. When I touch an item, and linger over it, I know better than to think that it will be there when I return. By holding it and giving it my longing energy, I've kavorkaa'd it.

The next person that comes upon said item, might feel my energy. It will lure them to the purchase, because the positive, longing energy exists.

OK, I am crazy, but I also feel that there is negative kavoorkaa. Sometimes I touch an antique and drop it on the spot. The energy is negative. Creepy. Evil.

All to say, after many visits to one of my favorite antique spots, I finally purchased this thingy as pictured above. A 1950's spoon rack in the shape of a ceramic flower pot. Oh boy. Lucy, this needs some explaining.

I am a woman who has grandma plates. If my grandma ever comes down from heaven, she will find me based on the grandma plates that she purchased with me on a shopping trip in the last months of her life.

I love the old life. The fact that there can be individual salt cellars. The fact that there are so many kinds of forks and spoons and plates. I want the old life. The complicated, but simple. The importance of a beautiful dinner. The slower, more complicated, yet a firm set of rules that establish the next move.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Blowing the Roof Off of Things

This is the latest pic. Kind of crazy, but on it's way.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

What Your Husbands Are Saying When You're Not Around

I overheard two very nice things this week:

I was sitting in the stands of a baseball game, and two men were talking about their bucket lists. One of them wanted to see a particular sport's team before he kicked the old bucket.

Man 1: That's on your bucket list???
Man 2: It's true, that's one of the things I really want to do.
Man 1: No super models or anything? You don't have a super model on your list to sleep with?
Man 2: I'm married to her.

What you need to know most of all is that his wife wasn't at the game. It was so romantic...and it was a baseball game for goodness sake!

The other thing: I was talking with my Super Dooper Contractor. We were talking about how different people are good at different things.

SDC: Yes, I'm very good at some things, but my wife truly is the other half of my brain that I didn't know I was missing. Yes, she's truly my right hand and I wouldn't know what to do without her.

Awwwwwwwww, shucks! How wonderful and wonderfully romantic to have such things said about you when you're not even around!

That was a bit of sunshine in a week filled with banging, clanging and clouds of construction demolition dust.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Out With Old Memories, In With The New?

We've been moving out of the rooms in our house in stages. Mid-stage, we were due to be out of our master bedroom by June 1st. On June 2nd, we were mostly out, I had a few odds and ends left to box up, but it was looking pretty good.

I came home from errands yesterday, and the entire upstairs hallway was boarded off.

Ugh! No fair warning, my contact lenses were still in their container. Dirty towels, shampoo, a full garbage can--it was all in there. To be clear, we are not remodelling the bathroom, so I was not thinking so much about the "crap" in there.

Ohhhhhhh, but I need that crap. Especially my contact lenses and glasses! And of course, a girl needs her concealer!

Our super dooper contractor (this man seriously should be wearing tights and a cape, he's that awesome!) kindly unbolted the wood and peeled back the plastic and let me go in to clean out my essential lotions and potions.

As I finished boxing up I spied this:
Years ago, we had visited Mrs. Grossman's Sticker Factory. These were some of the treats we brought home. As I was working on some project or another on my bedroom floor, I looked up to see that Ruth had decorated the inside of the closet door.

Yes, I am the type of mother that would let her kid's willy nilly creation remain on the inside of the closet door. I often don't have the heart to part with any of my kid's creations, and I simply didn't care or mind that this adorned my closet door.

It will all soon be a memory in a matter of minutes. The banging and clanking has started for the day.

My new memories won't be as colorful and childlike in my new bedroom, I'm sure. I'm also a little bit sad about that...

This is why I may have to, HAVE TO, go back to teaching pre school!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

It's Not Going To Happen To Me...Remodel Denial

I'm beginning to see this project in a different light. Remember before you had kids? Remember how you thought it looked so easy? Remember how you wondered why it was so tough for these whiny, new parents?

And then, you had a baby. And then, you knew.

I heard the same rumors about remodels. How tough it was. How much fighting and stress there is. How the logistics are so difficult. How so many people just give up and buy a new house.

I'm starting to get the picture.

My house is literally upside down. I spent all yesterday packing boxes of "crap." There is no way to sweetly sidestep that, I'm packing what clearly is crap. I have no more patience for sifting through all of it and trying to make sense out of it.

When you take ALL of the stuff (or crap) out of your closets and have to look at it in daylight, it is quite an experience. Not that all of it is that atrocious, but you realize just how much stuff your closets hold.

Just like babies, remodels have a whole new reality when you are holding it in the palm of your hand. It looks easy from the outside, but come in my front door (mind the bright yellow caution tape) and take a look around. It ain't so pretty right now.

Hopefully this is all worth it. I'm convinced that the babies are worth it, but this remodel thing? Maybe we should have just bought the new house?

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Summer, We Are On Our Way, Except, I Forget...

The chaos around here strangles the gentler, slower life until it is gasping for air. There is a pregnant PODS container in my driveway, boxes piled around me and unpaid bills stacked willy nilly. I have 1212 unread emails in my inbox and most of those I've saved as "new" because they represent some type of action item.

Instead of ramping into a fury of craziness, I've struck a calm, zen place. That is one of the best things about my ADHD, I just forget.

I forget that the guitar teacher is coming at 6:30, so all of the banging that I heard wasn't the construction, it was knocking at what is left of the front door.

I forget that Ruth has piano on Wednesdays. I kept staring at the clock, dialing her cell, and wondering where the heck she is.

I forget that I'm supposed to call the doctor for a follow up call on one of my exams. I re-remember every few days, but never actually remember to do it.

I forget to actually buy dinner food at the grocery store. We can snack and throw an amazing appetizer party, but dinner food? Forget it.

I'm the absent minded mommy. My brain has shut down from overload. Maybe this is Post Traumatic Remodeling Syndrome. PTRS?

Yep, I'm PeTeRsed out. No wonder they say that ignorance is bliss.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Ripping Down the Walls

Well, you haven't heard from me in a while--we are fully into the reno. Walls are being ripped out, windows removed, and now, there are two very nice pieces of plywood in my kitchen and front doorway.

My parents spent two weeks with me boxing up two rooms of the house and boxing and moving out anything that needed to be shipped north or out of the house in general. It certainly was non-stop action.

Now my house is partly empty, partly turned upside down and just down right more chaotic than usual. We have one more room of furniture and stuff to pack up. Then we will be officially living in 4 rooms of our house. Nice.

Each morning I drink coffee and start packing. Each night I fall into bed.

There are things in the recesses of the attic, that were hard to part with. One in particular was a project John had done for school. It was a little village, mounted on poster paper. He built the village that was featured in the book. Each house was made of popsicle sticks. The roofs lifted off, and inside each house was a character.

I had to crack that baby in half and throw it in the recycling. It almost killed me, but who needs a 2 foot by 3 foot village made out of popsicle sticks?

I kinda do.

I might need it to live in soon.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Construction: Demolition and Deb, When The Going Gets Tough, This Girl Goes To Napa

Well, it all started today. My own personal crew of demolitionists began hacking away at our foundation and garage wall. Digging and banging continued all day and all afternoon.

I dubiously was inside the house trying to put the furniture from one half of my house all into the other half. This is not going to be as easy as I thought.

Meanwhile, in a moving office somewhere, another Deb was emailing me and about shipping furniture to our cottage. I have various items earmarked for the journey, mixed in with my regular stuff, mixed in with the stuff I'm trying to "stuff" into the non-demolished rooms of the house.

All along, my life as usual life keeps chugging along at the end of the school year rate. Papers and bills are piling up on my desk, food is rotting in my refrigerator and the social obligations of the weekend loom ahead.

Outside the house, my super excellent contractor is fixing this and that, helping me along with the process, and valiantly trying NOT TO FREAK ME OUT.

What does a girl do that has half her house in shambles, a little bit of it packed, and a lot of it waiting for some direction? She goes to Napa with her girlfriends. On a Wednesday.

Yup. Off to Napa. Will deal with this all later.


Monday, May 9, 2011

Starting Construction, Again...

We are starting our third project. It is a remodel of the house that we actually live in, that almost overlaps with two other projects. One completed, one finishing up, and this one beginning.

Our belongings have been in a state of constant shuffle for over two years. I am pretty good with chaos, but now it seems like a sad fact of life that papers will always be everywhere, bins will always be half packed, I will always need more boxes and tape, and I can never find the mate to my husband's shoes.

We tackled the garage last week. Well, I tackled the garage with the help of my very excellent friend, our steadfast and patient contractor and his co worker. Not as many things as I was hoping went to donations and the dump. There is still enough stuff for at least three good garage sales.

Questions like, "Deb, where do you want the skulls?" and instructions like, "Be careful with the tombstone" scattered into the wind as we tried to organize years of, well, basically JUNK. We made progress, but it was only the first step in a sequence of total packing up.

Today, we are working on the attic. Luckily, my parents are here to help me haul stuff out of a sloped crawl space. However, as we work on these areas, the rest of my house is showing signs of spontaneous combustion.

You never realize how much your regular life demands of your constant attention until you focus on something else for a while. Well, the crew arrives today to start their part of the beginning, I'm here working on my part...and I'll keep you posted.

Monday, May 2, 2011

How Much Halloween Is Too Much?

We are just about to start a remodel. Perhaps the best thing about this entire project is that I am going to have to finally go through all of our JUNK and sort it out.

You know the 3 usual categories, right? JUNK, DONATE and KEEP. Yes, I know these categories, too, but I'm having a hard time with the most important ones: JUNK and DONATE.

As I spent hours this morning dragging bins out of the garage, I had to ask myself, "Just how many Halloween decorations does one family need?"

I have bins of skulls, jack o lanterns, costumes, candles, well, you name it, I probably have it in there somewhere. As I stacked the bins as high as I could, to eye level at least, I found none of the Halloween decor migrating toward JUNK or DONATE.

Maybe I will star in a special episode of Halloween Hoarders? I can't bring myself to give one little iota of my Halloween JUNK away.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Friday. Schedule. Strategy. Bathroom Stall Silence.

In Disneyland, I like to visit the restrooms. I wait in a long, hot sweaty line with other desperate women. When it is my turn, I race into the stall, lock the door and am overwhelmed by the sense of peace I feel in my 2 by 3 foot space.

As long as I remain in that stall, with the door firmly locked, it is all mine. No one can cut me off, step on my toes, give me a sideways disapproving glance or ask me for ice cream. Nope. I am calm, quiet and as alone as one can ever be at a theme park.

Which brings me to, well, here we are, another Friday. There is a full weekend ahead with lots of fun and activities. The schedule is tight, though, and it won't feel like a lazy, old weekend, that's for sure.

Our schedule is our guide book around here. I constantly need to check what our next strategic move will be: can I drive to softball, race to baseball and watch a few innings, fly over the hill to carpool pick up and be back in time to softball? How can I split my schedule so that I can be in at least 2 places at once?

It used to be that I looked forward to the weekend. I wanted to sleep in, be lazy, hang out and get a few things done around the house. Now I rest up the rest of the week so that I have a shot at surviving weekends.

It's funny how life is, here I am on Friday, knowing that tomorrow, there will be moments that I'll wish that I could lock myself in a bathroom stall and just breathe.

Monday, April 25, 2011

What Is It About Men Liking Women In High Heels? Bad Purchases, Bad Shoes

Do men like women in high heels so that they can just knock us to the ground and drag us along back to the cave more easily?

Seriously, my closet is full of shoes that I will probably never wear again, that is if I actually ever wore some of them in the first place.

Do you purge? Save them for your daughters? Take Advil and three shots of tequila so that you can dull the pain and wear them anyway?

Is anyone out there spring cleaning? I'm saying "Ugh, in my Uggs." today. I hate to part with anything that I got a good deal on even if I'm never going to use it.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Thank You Friends and Family! Our Michigan Trip Part One

There's nothing like a trip to the Midwest that makes you long for a spin class and a trip to the farmer's market. Ruth asked on the way home from the airport, "Why do we have better vegetables in California?"

Yes, even the girls were feeling the yearning for green vegetables. Ruth asked for some beet juice. Go figure.

We had a great time, and I'm including some shots to let you see what our little trip was like:
The grandkids visiting Great Grandma Smith.
The required trip to Kilwin's Chocolates in Ann Arbor. My dad told the salesperson I was engaged in that shop window 19 years ago. She said, "That's very interesting." Her tone said, "Now why would someone do that?" Long, romantic story.
Dinner at the Blue Nile. Birk declared Ethiopian her new favorite food.
Greenfield Village with cousin Maddie.

Mamma Mia with Godmomma Wendy at the Fisher Theater.

Girls on a plane!
Nana on the way to the airport in style!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Memory Lane in Photos

Here are some photos of Michigan memories:
1. My childhood home, from the time I was 8 until at least 20...
2. I worked as a car hop here for 13 years! The family business.
3. My little brother. Always playing hockey and going to tournaments. I guess I was destined to marry a Canadian.
4. My little sister on the front porch with our cats. We always had a lot of barn cats. It looks like Twinkle Toes, but she'd be pretty old if that's her.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Detroit Here We Come!

We leave the house and my husband arrives as we leave. That is the reality with split spring breaks. The girls and I are headed to the Motor City. Motown!

Stay tuned for some Detroit updates. We are going to see Mamma Mia and possibly visit Greenfield Village or the Detroit Institute of Arts and have Christmas in April at Frankenmeuth.