What I learned from LA Ink

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

(photo taken from Wikipedia)

I hadn't watched this show before but the remote control was out of batteries and I was too lazy tired to get up and change the channel.

10 things I learned:

- Kat Von D is beautiful, a classically trained pianist and is a good business woman.

- They really are artists. Anyone who can take a vague request or an idea from a picture, draw out a sketch and capture what the customer wants, is pretty good.

- I like vintage cars.

- When the girl with the tattoo on her rib cage of a 1940's glam girl-in-her-bikini-looking-over-her-shoulder-while-steering-a-ship, has a baby, that tattoo will expand to look like someone standing in front of a circus mirror, while steering a ship of course.

- This business and its clientele is very different than it was 20 years ago.

- Tattoos are not for everybody.

- There is a difference between a tattoo parlor and a tattoo shop.

- Ink is not cheap.

- Don't judge based on looks or the number of tattoos one has ( I already knew that but it's a good reminder.)

- I'm glad I don't want a tattoo because it looks painful and if I'm going to voluntarily have needles buzz around me, they better be making me look 10 years younger.

Be glad I am not your kids' Youth Leader

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

because I would be tempted to do this to their cell phones. Asking some to put them away for the whole hour we are teaching doesn't seem to be working so maybe this would do the trick, hmmm...

(I couldn't get the video to embed but it's only 37 seconds, enjoy!
And for those parents whose children I do teach - sorry!)

Santa Exchanges and A book preview

Monday, December 28, 2009

I was able to participate with two lovely ladies in a Santa Exchange.

First I headed over to my creative friend, Jenny's house and we opened up presents like a 4 year old. I received my favorite animal, that cute little Elephant which I named Ella of course. I have loved those ever since she began making them. I also found some fabric to add to my collection and growing list of sewing projects. I am a little addicted to fabric so I loved this gift. I also received a red handmade book bag with a drawing of the Eiffel tower, a Jenny first! Andes mints rounded out the gift but I ate them before I could take a picture. Jenny is one creative person and there just about isn't anything she can't make.

I also received a gift package from my dear friend, May.

In it were books that I am dying to read and candles that are waiting to be lit. She got me dead on with those books. One is "Say You're one of them" by Uwem Akpan. Oprah says it's a must read and she usually gets those right. My husband wants to read that one also since we've heard so many good things about it.

The other is "Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women worldwide" written by Pulitzer prize winning journalists. In the book they say that women and girls are one of the world’s great untapped resources, and education is the first step toward realizing it. I believe that to be true and I also believe that education is the way out of poverty for all people.

One woman they profile: "Tererai Trent, is one of the organization's great success stories, and is singled out by Kristof and WuDunn, the authors. Tererai credits the Heifer co. for her rise from poor cattle herder in Zimbabwe to Ph.D. She first encountered Heifer International when the organization’s president and CEO, Jo Luck, met with a women's group in Zimbabwe in 1992. While sitting in a circle in the dirt, Jo Luck encouraged Tererai that her dreams of getting an education were achievable. Even though she had been married off at age 11 and had no resources of her own, Tererai believed Jo Luck's inspiration, set her intention in secret, and is now in the U.S. completing her Ph.D. and working with Heifer." (quote taken from Heifer Intl. website)

I love these types of stories and their inspirational messages. May also sent a journal for me to hone my creative writing skills. She's a cheerleader of mine and my first follower on this blog. Her encouragement of my writing means more to me than she'll ever know.

Thanks girls, I loved my gifts but I love you guys even more!

A canned goods Christmas

Saturday, December 26, 2009

The wrap and prep party for Santa lasted all night.

Trae loved opening his presents but I am still convinced you could give him a can of artichoke hearts and he'd be happy. He had more fun with the wrap than with his presents. He's all, who needs cheap Chinese toys when I have an empty box and a bunch of trash?

To throw the bloodhounds off the scent, I put cans of green beans into 2 of the bags that were holding Forever 21 gift cards. After checking out the gift cards, the girls looked deeper into the bags and pulled out the beans.
"What's this?" asked Belen to which I replied they could just put it back in the cupboard. But they said they would keep it for personal food storage.
I think it will be cool when I am making something with beans next time and their friends are over, to ask them to go into their bedrooms and get me a can of green beans. I live for those types of situations. Maybe I'll even have my hair in curlers and be wearing one of those housecoats, that would be even better.

Santa couldn't find Reese or Trae's stocking because they kept putting them on as socks and you know how quickly socks disappear. Which, I think is a conspiracy to drive me nuts. Anyway, Santa had to use boots instead. I may just tell him to do that from now on because it was so cute and clever I might add.

Blair has been waiting for Splash Dora or Splash Ariel. She never really could make up her mind so Santa went with Splash Ariel. After her initial excitement, the question was, "Now where's Dora?" followed by a little sad face. Reading the mind of a 4 year old is hard. Why would he get that for her anyway? Doesn't he know we don't currently have a bathtub? Well, technically we do but it's still in the box.

I was just asked to fill up a Rubbermaid tub with water so Splash Ariel could take a swim. The water must be warm too. Man, this doll is demanding. Why can't she just like empty boxes and paper trash instead?

Hair salon love

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Photo courtesy of I don't know where

Dear Malstrom Salon,

It's been nearly eight years since I had to leave you.
I didn't want to, but the job made us move. You know a girl would never willingly leave her one and only hair guru.

I've looked for others but they have not quite measured up. When I sit down to wait for my appointment no one pours me a pop to drink and heaps magazines onto my lap. No one gives me a scalp massage with seductive, mind-soothing and stress-relieving aromatherapy oils. No one schedules my Ricks college gal, Tracy, at the same time in the salon so we can have a mini-reunion. But, I guess she would need to live here to do that...

Since I left, I went to a stylist once in Maryland with 3 inch fingernails. She couldn't hold the scissors properly because of them. Instead of using a comb to perfectly section out my hair, she'd use her nails and my hair kept getting caught in them; making me really mad. I was afraid to say anything because I figured it was akin to complaining in a fast food restaurant. Who knows what she would have done to my hair. She wouldn't have been able to hear me complain over her singing anyway.

In South Carolina it wasn't much better. There I learned that you never get your hair cut by someone who is older than your mom. Besides being subjected to menopause stories, the stylist suggested the Dorothy Hamill wedge would suit me nicely. Sure, if I were 10 years old.

I tried another place in Georgia which I thought looked promising. It figured that my name was called by the stylist who was not yet licensed. I learned this because she and the boss talked to each other the whole time. The boss said the stylist was going to get her sued if she kept messing up people's hair.
Note to self: never let anyone cut my hair who looks likes Joe Dirt.
She would have been a great candidate for Split Ends, though. Love that show.

I did find a girl here who actually does a good job. I told her of my hair cutting woes and she promised to end my search.
She passed my scrutiny but I stop short of letting her dry it. I did let her once but I came out sporting "mom hair" which is the cranial equivalent to wearing mom jeans.

It's all good though, you taught me your drying techniques well.

Now if I can just find local Aveda products, I'd be set. (no pun intended.)
(For those lucky enough to be in the vicinity of Malstrom Salon, call and ask for Chris or Tricia. Your hair will be your new BFF.)

Established 1993

Thursday, December 17, 2009

1 girl + 1 boy + a small town = meeting in highschool

Meeting in high school + friendship = going on dates

Going on dates + time = love

Love + a wedding in Portland +
16 years
6 states
2 military deployments
several tdy's
11 moves
5 kids
4 colleges
4 job changes
with some sadness and joy = a good life.

I am thankful it's been with you.
Happy Anniversary.

Hair plugs for trees

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The saga of the Christmas tree buying expedition.

We have had a few good Christmas tree buying stories over the years. The one that really sticks out in my mind though, is the Christmas of 2003.

We had just completed our first year of living in Maryland and we loaded up the kids and went off into the chilly night to the tree lot. Jon and I studied all of the trees and made sure they were straight. (Not that we have anything against alternative lifestyle trees.) But, one year I let Jon pick the tree which he did in a record 3 minutes and 24 seconds. Even the Fred Meyer garden clerk was surprised. Upon arriving home and setting it up, it kept falling over. Long story short - crooked tree, Jon wrestled, lost and in defeat he muttered some naughty words.
True to MacGyver style, I used fishing line, nails and the window sill to keep it upright. End of story. (And the end of letting Jon go it alone on the tree hunt.;)

But now back to Maryland.
We found a tree which was lush, big and full. It wasn't wrapped in netting but that was okay since we weren't far from home. I suggested putting it into the van where it could fit in between the kids. Jon, being thoughtful, didn't want to inconvenience them so he just put it on the roof of our van.

That worked too, I thought.

The tree guy didn't have much twine so Jon tied it with what he had. After getting into the car he told me to hang on to the tree and he would do the same.

"Are you kidding?" I said, not knowing if he was being facetious.
"No. Just put your arm out there and hang on. Trust me, it'll work, I've got it on this side and will drive slowly. There's no one on the roads right now anyway."

So we puttered down the road with Jon's left arm outstretched out of the window, hanging on to the tree and my right arm doing the same from the passenger side. Everything was going okay until I could feel the tree slip a little. I told Jon that it felt like it was going to come off.

"Nahhhh." Jon said smiling.
Then suddenly Jon said "Uh Oh!!" and I heard the whoosh of the branches scrape the top of our van and felt the pine needles slip through my fingers. I quickly pulled my arm in and looked at all of the needles in my hand.

I yelled, "We lost the tree!! We lost the tree!"

Instinctively, we all turned around and Jon looked in the rear view mirror.

"Oh crap."
"It hit the car behind us." Jon said dryly.

He pulled over quickly and we jumped out. The driver of the other car pulled up right behind us. An 80 year old woman got out of the car.
I was thinking we almost killed a grandma on Christmas.

She walked up to me and slowly said, "Did I hit a deeer?"
I said, "No ma'am, you hit a tree."
"A tree? What was a tree doing in the middle of the road?"
"It was our tree." I looked embarrassed.
"Your tree??" She looked confused.
"Yes, It flew off of our car and landed on yours."
"Oh, that's what it was. I was driving along and all of a sudden something came flying in front of me. I thought it was a deer." she said.

Meanwhile, Jon was trying to rescue the tree that was now in the middle of the road. The fog had rolled in and there were no street lights. I realized that no one was going to see the tree in these driving conditions. So I resorted to jumping on the side of the road waving my arms to warn motorists. I think they thought I was doing jumping jacks or was just being friendly as they waved back to me excitedly until they swerved last minute to avoid hitting it. I'm sure they thought. "Oh, that's what she was doing" when they saw the tree...

Each time, it rolled into the other lane as a car passed, getting hit on either side. One car was full of people laughing and appeared to be rocking out to their tunes. I folded my fingers into my palms and held my hands to my cheeks, nervously waiting for them to hit it. I saw them all scream as they rolled over the tree. I can still picture them in the car, arms outstretched, bracing themselves by holding on to the seat in front, mouths wide open. As their car bounced a few times over something big in the road, they screamed and laughed when they saw it was only a tree.

I couldn't help but laugh and turned to our kids in the van. Their faces were stuck to the window and their grins evidenced the hilarity of it all.

After that, the coast was finally clear and Jon rescued our poor, poor tree.
We sat silently in the car all the way home.

Belen and Charley whispered to ask if the tree was going to be okay.
I told them it was once we got her all made-over.

Jon hauled in what was left of it.
After he set it up, the tree kept falling.
Again, Jon wrestled, lost and in defeat, kicked it and possibly muttered a bad word or two.

It had already been through enough, the tree that is.

Remembering my usage of the mono filament from a few years before, I tied the tree to the window sill once more and positioned the gaping hole toward the wall. Realizing there was more than one gaping hole and mangled patches, I decided it was a matter of choosing which one was the lesser wound and filling in the others.
I used the boughs that I had on our entry door to fill in the gaps.
Think of it as extensions or hair plugs for trees.
It ended up being a beautiful tree and enjoyed the rest of its time with us.

Don't worry trees - I'll protect you.

A letter of sorts

Sunday, December 13, 2009

I have missed you mom.
Happy Birthday. I bet you look as young as you were in this picture, ha ha.

I hope you are having a good time up in Heaven.

How's dad?

All the grand kids are well. Tori and Adrianna are in college, Braiden is excited for his mission in 2 years, Tami and Blair's kids are being home schooled. David tripped over his own feet at the airport and went rolling in front of the boarding gate, holding everyone up. Lisa laughed so hard but he was a good sport. You know how sweet he is. He also got his Eagle Scout award. Bryson and Blaise may fly out to visit us which will make Charley so happy. The girls are enjoying their voice lessons and everyone else is happy and growing quickly.

Blair Noel always asks if you sit on the clouds and what you eat for snacks.

I tell her you have the comfiest cloud in the sky and feast upon the Word of God.
You were good to me, mom. Thank you for all you did. I'll  never forget it.


Dream Police

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

I was watching Oprah, or as Gail says, "Op," when Stephenie Meyer was a guest and she said that a vivid dream became chapter 13 of Twilight. After Stephenie awoke from this dream, knowing she didn't want to forget; she wrote it down and explored it. The rest, as they say, is history.
It got me thinking about some dreams I have had. I know they won't make me a bazillion dollars but they're fun to analyze, nonetheless. Some are funny, scary and down right wierd - usually due to those sleepless nights of pregnancy.
Last year I was talking with some family members about dreams and one of my
brothers and sister-in-law had dreams where their teeth fell out so we decided that must mean they were worried about aging. My other brother and a sister-in-law both had dreams where they could fly. My sister-in-law, Jodi, said she even had a good take-off and landing in this dream. She's very athletic and outgoing so we thought this represented her happy and carefree spirit.

Besides my alligator dream, ( I use to live in Hilton Head and was always worried those critters were going to eat my children) I have a recurring dream that maybe you could analyze for me. Although, it has been over a year since I have had it, so maybe I'm cured already...

But anyway,
In this dream I was in high school and could never remember my locker combination. I always had to go ask Mrs. Loop (my high school secretary) to look up the numbers which made me late for class. By the end of the day, I forgot it again so I didn't take any of my work home which was in the locker. Because of this I never turned in my assignments and didn't get to graduate.

Each time I have had this, I woke up in a panic and paused for a moment to remember if I did graduate. I quickly remembered that I had and my mind was relieved.

Any psycho analysis? Do you have strange dreams? Any recurring themes?
P.S. Baja fish tacos tonight - yum!!

A Christmas story and Pepper Spray

Monday, December 7, 2009

This past weekend we enjoyed our usual, and not so usual, flurry of activities. First there was the small town Christmas parade where main street is bedecked in the lights for the season; local churches, businesses and the school band march through town pelting kids with candy. Santa enters town on the last float and he and Mrs. Claus take their seat at the Santa House on the square.
It is then officially the Christmas season.

Each year I have been wanting to go a farm in the mountains of central PA where Clydesdale horses pull you in a wagon to find your perfect Christmas tree. So with our first snowfall of the season, and after a trip to voice lessons, I had visions of my family nestled under wool blankets on a horse drawn sleigh, sipping hot cocoa and finding the perfect tree.
So off we went.
After a beautiful drive and many Christmas carols later, we arrived there only to find some cranky people tell us we were 4 minutes late for the last wagon. Someone ahead of us had just asked as well so I think they were tired of the question. Then as we were pulling out of the parking lot we watched a wagon leave with only 4 people in it. I guess they were better at the puppy dog eyes than we were. Blair cried.

On the way home, the GPS got us lost when we went looking for fast food. It took us to a small sub-division in the middle of nowhere and we laughed so hard we cried. I distracted Jon when I yelled, "Hey, there's a buggy!" and took a picture when I saw the Amish. He missed the turn when I startled him and I endured jokes from the kids yelling, "Hey, there's a cow!," "Hey, there's a car!"

The GPS took us back and Jon almost missed the turn again and the kids asked us to keep our eyes on the road. As we passed by the Amish house again, Charley remarked that even they had a trampoline in their yard. We laughed so hard at the kids' whimpering and Reese's exclamation, "I live in a van down by the river," Chris Farley style.

The next evening we were all enjoying some down time at home. I was doing laundry and tidying up the bathroom when I heard all this ruckus going on upstairs. I figured someone was arguing so Jon would take care of it since he was upstairs. Loud, crazy noise is a daily occurrence around these parts.

I continued to clean and then I found a cute headband. I went in to the bathroom and tried it on. I was enjoying this primping but decided to go out and see what was up with everyone.
As I was leaving the bathroom I felt my throat sting and thought maybe I used too much cleanser. As I moved toward the stairs I began to choke and cough. Staggering up the stairs, I couldn't catch a breath. Jon came to my aide, pulled me up and we ran out the back door. There I saw my whole family bent over on the snow covered deck, gasping for air. I asked what in the heck was going on and they told me that Reese sprayed bear spray, a heavy duty pepper spray we take on hikes, downstairs.

Jon came running back out and told us to get to the car. He called one of his best friends from the Army who is now an Orlando police officer and has a little experience with mace. We were laughing (and choking) while Belen was retelling the story and how two of her siblings went screaming by her, their arms flailing in a panic.

Feeling ill, we had to wait an hour to let the house air out so we went to get something to drink. The kids told me they were wondering where I was but ran for their lives instead. Jon said he checked the bedroom but I wasn't there. I did hear him ask where I was but I figured he was going to pawn off what I thought was a fight, onto me.
Jon dramatically joked that they felt I would've wanted them to go on...

Good times in this household.

Thanksgiving issues

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

All together with my brothers and sister's families 2008
Thanksgiving was almost a bust.

We have been on our own as a family for nearly 16 years now with only a few times when we have spent the holidays with our family and close friends. Usually I don't mind it being just us for the holidays. We've always kind of liked the ease of being with the kids and having a smaller meal. But on this day, I was missing my extended family and was enjoying my own little pity party.

It got worse when the day was interrupted by a total house plumbing issue.
Jon came home early from work to rescue us as we were just heading up to the convenience store. We made several trips to the corner store to use their facilities. I changed it up a bit and went to different ones in the area. The kids loved this knowing I always feel I should buy something when we have to use their restroom. So I had a list of items to buy while I was waiting for the kids: gum, sundae pop-tarts, potato chips, nutty buddy bars and an Icee.
Jon started in on the FIY project (fix it yourself) and went a couple of rounds with it. Normally he's pretty good at fixin' stuff but this time was proving to be a bit more challenging. The 50 foot snake we rented didn't do a thing so we called in the pros. The whole problem stemmed from the outside drain that we didn't even know existed. It was being covered by a coffee can which was hidden by the previous owners in an attempt to fix and disguise it with shrubbery.

"It figures" Jon said, referring to our situations with previous homeowners. Remind me to tell you about the homeowner who insisted I call her "Honey girl" when we were buying her home, our first house. Just thinking about her makes me want to throw something.

Anyway, with the plumber's advice and by the light of a flashlight, it took Jon about 3 minutes to fix and we were good.

The delay made for a late evening since Jon couldn't get his homemade stuffing done or any other side dish. So we enjoyed hanging out, made a few corn husk dolls and had dinner around 10 pm that night - which is the way they eat in Europe - late. People after my own heart...

And, as I sat there enjoying conversations with each of my family members, I was grateful for it all. It's never a bust when you are part of something bigger.

Secret Santa Sign-Ups (say that 7 times fast)

Monday, November 23, 2009

OK - it's time for details about the Secret Santa.
If you're interested, this is how it's going down...

Answer the questions below and then e-mail me. We are going to draw names and you'll be assigned a person to be a Secret Santa to. This is different from a swap that way. No partners and you won't know who sent your gift.
The gifts don't have to be extravagant and don't stress about what to get. We're keeping the spending limit to $15 bucks and under. Homemade is always great! You can be creative and put a few little items in a stocking or buy/make 1 item that will spread a little Christmas cheer. If you are ok with sending a gift to someone out of state, please let me know that too.

The deadline is, of course, Christmas unless you'll be mailing it then you'll want to get it out earlier.

Please answer the questions that would be most helpful to the person who will be your Secret Santa:
Favorite color?
Fav. food?
Fav. animal?
Fav. style?
Fav. scents?
Fav. candy?
What do you like to collect?
What do you do for fun?
What do you like to read

My e-mail is
The deadline to sign-up is Monday, Nov. 30th
Have fun!!

Ten broken rabbits

Sunday, November 22, 2009

It was a good day yesterday.

Wanna know why?

*Down 10 lbs - the Dr's scale even said so.

*I made $244.00 selling my broken jewelry.

*The rabbit didn't die.

Don't forget the lyrics

Friday, November 20, 2009

Have you ever sang along to a song on the radio and misheard the lyrics?

It's always funny when someone does this. Jon and I still have jokes about some lyrics we've gotten wrong. Of course we never let each other forget.

Like when I realized that Coldplay's Viva La Vida song is saying "Roman Cavalry choirs are singing" not "Roman Catholic choirs are singing." Or when Jon sang "In the dunes of the cave" instead of "In the dunes of the cape" to the Rupert Holmes' song Escape aka "The Pina Colada song."
"Duh, caves don't have dunes" is what I think I said to him.

I got to thinking about other songs easily misunderstood.

One time I was walking passed a tent of girls at camp and they were rocking out to Van Halen's "Panama" and I heard them say instead, "cannon ball, cannon ba-hall, cannon ball, cannon ba ha ha ha ha ha, cannon ball." Of course I was thinking they were dorks for messing that up...

I laughed so hard when my friend sang Bon Jovi's, Livin on a Prayer- one line says "Gina dreams of runnin away, when she cries in the night Tommy whispers, Baby it's okay, someday." She sang it as "Tommy whispers, baby it's Christmas, someday." I told her that wasn't going to make Gina feel any better with their money problems and all. We laughed for a long time over that. She got me back though, several times over.

Some others -
The Beatles/I saw her standing there, where it says "I'll never dance with another" could be "I'll never dance with your mother."

U2/Pride, "Shot rings out in the Memphis Sky" I once thought was "Shudderings of a Memphis Sky" - doesn't even make sense I know.

How about Jimi Hendrix's famous, Purple Haze? "Excuse me while I kiss the sky" misunderstood as "Excuse me while I kiss this guy."

Of course the song Blinded by the Light sung by Manfred Mann which says "Revved up like a deuce another runner in the night," always misquoted as "Wrapped up like a douche." I knew it couldn't possibly be that and luckily, I listened closely.

Or the Rolling Stones' "I'll never be your beast of burden" as "I'll never leave a pizza burnin." Another song often misquoted in the food theme, Billy Joel's You may be right- "But it just may be a lunatic you're looking for" as "But it just may be a tuna fish you're looking for."

And Gwen Stefani's (No Doubt) line from I'm Just a Girl - "I'm just a girl all pretty and petite" I took as, "I'm just a girl all ready to eat."

Apparently there was a scientific study done on why we do this and misheard lyrics are even referred to as Mondegreens. I guess if we aren't seeing the singers lips, the brain is only processing one piece of information and making it's best guess.
Whatever the reason, I just think it's funny and I'm sure I'm not the only one whose brain is guessing wrong...right??

Bring on the Commercialization

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The only picture of myself I could find at Christmas time taken prior to the Bells Palsy Incident of 2006. I am sticking my arm into my sister's children's tree
to retrieve a ball...who said never to play ball in the house??

It is true, as soon as Fall hits, the Christmas displays in stores are going out, even before Halloween.
Every year it seems that this happens earlier and earlier. Even the Black Friday sales are starting early and they promise to bring deep discounts.

And while some have grumbled about this, present company included and to which I understand, remember that retail does want your money. They want to capitalize on every minute before Christmas day hits and they start earlier every year so as not to miss a single moment or dollar. After all that is their goal, especially when forecasts point to a gloomy selling season.

I only wish they would've given these kinds of discounts long ago but that's beside the point.

I heard Christmas music in the store yesterday and I liked it. I know it's not even Thanksgiving yet, but is it ever too early to remember the birth of the Savior of the World?

I don't think so - not when He is so desperately needed.

So setting aside the commercialism that the Christmas season brings, I like to remember that the true Spirit of Christmas lies with the Lord and within my heart.
And the rest - the lights, music, Christmas movies, people ringing bells outside the store, gift wrap, a neighbor who goes totally nuts with decorations and makes your house look like the Grinch house, presents, trees, parties, turkeys, glorious mounds of buttery mashed potatoes, cookies, cakes, more cookies, pumpkin pie, apple pie, did I mention cookies?? are all just little extras that can enhance the season we are so lucky to freely celebrate and I love it all.

When I was overseas, there were no decorations around town. This was a Buddhist nation and Christmas was just a regular work day. As night fell we were biking to a friend's home for dinner. I passed a store that had a little Christmas tree in its window decorated with twinkling lights. It was sweet and all alone like The Charlie Brown tree.

My Japanese friend loved that tree and remarked that I was lucky to be an American where such displays are common place. She thought it was probably really pretty in America and wished she had that in her country. Homesickness twinged my heart. It was pretty back home and also right there, staring at that little store front.

So to retailers I say, commercialize Christmas all you want, knock yourselves out - Thank you for allowing me another opportunity to publicly remember that sweet, little Babe born so many years ago.

Small house goodness

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Some of my family members gathered in the kitchen of my brother's house
Over the past year the talk of the economy and its effect on American households has been the topic of many news articles, stories and talks from the pulpit.
People are downsizing their homes and finally feel that it's okay to live within their means. That is the part that baffles me. When wasn't it okay to live within your means and when wasn't it okay to live in a small house?

Yesterday there was a family on t.v. who found themselves unemployed with a large mortgage payment looming. After 6 months, they sold their house and possessions, bought an RV, got wireless Internet, started homeschooling 2 kids and hit the road. They are traveling all over the country . When the teen-age son was asked if he ever wanted to go back to their big house, he said "No way."

He said in his old house they were all in their own rooms, running off with their friends, at school events and never at home together. Now, they are in tight quarters but are having the time of their life and he wouldn't change a thing. The father finally found a job that he could do from home, or RV, so they have an income now but aren't ready to go back to their old life. I was envious. Traveling with my family is one of my dreams.

It just goes to show, we're not defined by what we have. Or, we shouldn't let that define us. Not all kids need a million things. More than anything they want your time. My oldest daughter and I ran off to Target the other day, and as we got in the car she said to me, "Mom, I miss this...when it's just me and you." It seems in the daily grind, I've gotten lazy with our dates with the kids alone.

It's okay to surround yourself with the things that you love; I know I have some possessions that give me great joy - knowing it was my grandmother's china or a tablecloth made by my mom. But I guess it's more important that you surround yourself with things that love you back.

Sometimes I wish for a bigger house when there are 5 kids, 1 bathroom and no real laundry room. But even if we had a big house, I still think they would all gather in one room to play and follow me from room to room. It's not the house they want to be with, it's me, us, each other and I like hearing their laughter. Not so much the fighting, but that's part of the deal I guess.

And besides, like Erma Bombeck said, "Things taste better in small houses." Which is great - anything to enhance my culinary efforts would be appreciated.

Proud to be a Papermaker

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Mascot!

My parents with my sister at her graduation from CHS
ca 1981
The Mill


LaCamas Lake - the drive toward my home

Camas downtown

I was once a Leopard and a Spartan.

A few years later I was a Penguin and went on to become a Viking which has now morphed into a Cougar.

But the one that always gives people a pause is the Papermaker.

I am from the little town of Camas in WA state that is not so little anymore. It is situated on the Columbia River and in its heyday, was a full on Mill town.
The pulp and paper mill is still there although it has scaled back it's workforce. Growing up almost everyone in town worked for the mill. When they went on strike, the line for free meals at our school was 3 times longer than the cold lunch line. We were on strike for a long time. Every one had mortgages through the local bank in town. My parent's bank froze their mortgage until the mill was off the strike and they were able to resume payments, which lasted about 6 months the first time. I don't see banks doing that anymore.

We were proud of our town and knew it was a little gem, quietly tucked away in the East part of the county. Portland was just 25 minutes across the bridge so we had all the advantages of a progressive big city and the safe confines of a town where everyone seemed connected.

We were a small high school with 764 students, just a few kids over an AA standing, playing against larger schools. We endured being called "Toilet paper makers" and were constantly blamed for the sulphur smell that was heavy - only at certain times... They thought we were all just hicks from farm country. We were teased about our name, the Camas Papermakers and especially about our school mascot, the mean machine. It was supposed to be a big, gnarly, paper machine with thrashing teeth. One of the actual paper machines, No. 9, was named after my dad - Dobby. You don't see many schools that had a mean machine as a mascot. The closest were The Tillamook Cheesemakers in Oregon. Yes, that's for real. But we, along with Tillamook, weren't ordinary. Any school USA could be a lion, panther or bear, but a mean machine? No, that could only be us. It would be a safe bet to say that we were the only ones who checked the toilet paper in bathroom stalls to see if they were supporting the mill by using Crown Zellerbach paper goods. Even Jay Leno gave a shout out to Camas for being a strange mascot school.

I graduated high school with almost everyone that I played with in Kindergarten. Many of our dads worked together, volunteered at the Fire Department, our moms helped out in the schools; our coaches also coached our older siblings and cousins.

I always felt lucky that I could grow up there. Every time Jon and I move, we always look for a town reminiscent of that hometown in Washington.
Going back home a few times over the years, I have seen it change.
Once where my dad would hay the fields has given way to development. The place where our old barn stood and my horses grazed on the grass is now a double lane road. Our little school on the hill is now an elementary school and the new high school holds 1600 students and is a state of the art building. It's one whose football team now rolls over the larger schools.

And all those kids that teased us are now parents who want their kids to be Papermakers.

Its looks may have changed, but the gem I always saw is still quietly tucked away under the evergreens. It has fabulous views of Mt. Hood and vistas as far as the eye can see. I don't know if we'll ever go home again. I'm afraid we'd be disappointed at the changes but it's good to know that family, friends and our Camas pride is still there.
So, we are the Papermakers.
What was your mascot? Any takers for the Banana Slug? Boll Weevil?
Do tell.

I hope he feels the same

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

I'm in love with another boy.

But don't tell my husband.

His eyes, his hair, that smile...{sigh}

I'm glad I saw him first because if you did, I would be jealous.

Give-a-way Winners!

Monday, November 2, 2009

My first ever give-a-way for a subscription to Better Homes and Gardens Magazine was won by Mary ftom A Day With Me and Linda (Matt-n-Linda99.) They were chosen at random by sticking my hand into a hat (Trae's Halloween hat to be exact) and pulling out two pieces of paper with their names on them. Not hugely scientific like but it works for me and apparently for you two as well!

Now I just need you both to e-mail me at with your address! Congratulations!
Continue making your homes a haven for your family and friends and maybe my next give-a-way will find a place in your house.
*photos courtesy of

Bells Palsy Blues and an FAQ

Sunday, November 1, 2009

What is that you ask?

It is a strange thing that happens when you get a virus and it has no place to go so it quietly lands in the 7th cranial nerve, becomes inflamed and makes your face go all weird.

That happened to me 4 years ago, 2 days after I gave birth. Which I found out is when it is prime time for a strike - in the third trimester. Luckily, it's temporary for most people.
(long post alert!)
I had a cold virus 2 weeks before I had Blair and it sent me in to false labor - this is when the Dr. thinks the problem started...

I had Blair on a Wednesday in October, 2005 and was feeling awesome but then when I was being released on that Friday, I felt a little funny. Couldn't place it - just felt odd. I figured I was a little swollen from labor and drugs - yes, I used them and loved them - whee!

I stopped by the church on the way home from the hospital to decorate for the Halloween Party and I was feeling dizzy. Again, just gave birth and standing on a 15 ft. ladder - didn't think anything about it other than I was crazy. My husband and the kids were helping btw... I stayed home from the party but kept getting calls like, "Where are the awards for the chili cook-off?" "So-n-so is freaking out!" "Did you know you can put chocolate in chili?"

Each time I spoke, I felt like my lips were swelling but didn't pay attention to it. By Sunday I was having a hard time speaking. So, I called my sisters-in-law and brother-in-law who are all in the medical field. They asked me a series of questions, worrying of a stroke. I kept insisting I felt fine; it was just my face that wasn't working.

After hauling all 4 kids in to the emergency room with me at 1 am, the doctor thought I was experiencing anxiety. Yeah-I-just-hauled-4-kids-in-here-in-the-middle-of-the-night-and-waited 2-hours-to-be-seen-dufus-anybody-would-be-having-anxiety- is really what I was thinking. Then he said I could've saved a ton of money if I had just called my doc. Now that gave me anxiety. I didn't even know I could call. Who was the dufus now?

So I called my Dr. and after he asked me a few questions, again the stroke issue came up, he said, "I bet it's Bell's Palsy." Bell's what??
He said to stop by the next day and he'll check me out. By then, half of my face was paralyzed. I went in and my Dr. said, "Yep, it's Bells Palsy" from just one look.
He said to think positive; I was half way to a great Halloween costume!
His nurse and I promptly hit him.

It would take a month before I could get in to the Neurologist but within a few days, the other side of my face went paralyzed. Full facial paralysis! Couldn't blink, talk, smile, eat, drink, kiss my husband, nothing.

My face had totally fallen. I looked like a sad Basset Hound. Jon called the neurologist and said "You don't understand, her whole face is paralyzed!" So they promptly ushered me in and said the odds of anyone having Bi-Lateral Bells Palsy is super slim. Why couldn't it be the lottery I won with those odds? I had a thorough exam to rule out a tumor. When they ruled everything out, Jon kept saying "It is not a toomah," Schwarzenegger style.

Even when I was laughing inside, I looked like I was crying. In the store, strangers would come up to me and tell me "it's hard havin' a baybee,(insert southern drawl) it'll get easier next taame." I would just nod my head...
I resorted to wearing glasses indoors, even while shopping, getting my hair cut, out to dinner...and suddenly I was a rock star who wore sunglasses at night, just like Bono...

Did you know you drool all the time when your face doesn't work? And food doesn't stay in your mouth? And you have to use eye cream at night to shut them so you won't scratch your eyeballs and keep them moist? I would have to feel my way to the bathroom to wash up in the morning. And your face is sooo sore? I felt like I had just gone a couple rounds with Laila Ali. Oh, and in the middle of all of this, the Hargray Cable guy of Hilton Head Island slapped Reese on the arm twice while he was in our Apt. fixing the cable! They never apologized. (that story for another day. Remember, I hang out with crazies?)
Anywho, everyone from church was calling when word got around. The calls came and the conversation was like this...

me -"Huh"

"How are you""

me -"Oh -ay"

"I heard you can't talk, is that true?"

me -"Uh huh"

"How's the baby?"

me -"aihh"

"Did you say, sick?"

me - "no, aihhh.."

"Did you say, Kind?"

me - "no aiiihhna."

"Oh, FINE??" and we'd laugh and my eyes would water.

(remember you need your tongue to talk and mine was paralyzed)

"Wow, you really can't talk, is there any thing we can do for you?"

me - "oh"

"Well, get some rest and we'll keep you in our prayers, love you"

me -"oh haaa., uff oo ooh."

And after that I was exhausted but I appreciated all the calls. The people who
rally around you are priceless.

My mom called everyday, which she did anyway, but this time she'd say,
me- "Oh, hi ahh.."
"Don't talk, just listen..." (she loved doing this :)

It was really funny when I would check out at Target and they would do the asking for my phone number thing, I'd say "eigh, si, reh, si, seh, oh, aih.."
"I'm sorry what was that?" Clearing my throat, I'd say, "EIGH, SI, RE.." and suddenly embarrassed, the clerk just started pressing buttons hysterically.
Good times.

I had soup for 2 months straight which was great for losing the baby weight! By December, my right side was coming back which made me really happy. We went to Disney World then and I only took a few pictures because in each one I looked like I was angry or had just seen a ghost. I have a picture of me next to Mr. Incredible and I look like I am disgusted with him, poor guy.

In my mind I thought I was smiling. I would look at the picture thinking, "hey - I think this is gonna be good" but upon looking at the picture I still looked like a lady with way too much botox and a bad eye job. The kids would ask me to smile to purposely watch my face all contort and then we'd erupt in fits of laughter. Then the drool started and everyone would laugh harder.
That was some funny stuff.

By March 2006, the other side was coming back but it sustained more nerve damage. So unfortunately, one side of my face doesn't work as well as it did and I lost my nice symmetrical, big grin. The Dr. said I was lucky to have that much healed so I'll take it. When I am tired it shows up more than usual which seems to be the case this weekend.
So, there you go, a long answer to an FAQ of why I don't like pictures of myself that much.
Luckily I am more comfortable behind the lens anyway! And I'm thinking that soup diet might do me some good now to take off this baby weight.
It seems to be hanging on for dear life...

A Give-a-Way - some things in life are free!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Photos courtesy of
I always enjoy a good shelter magazine.

They are a nice departure from my regular reading material. I love to peruse the pages of good design, fashion, and DIY projects to inspire my own.
But due to the economy, higher prices for paper and tightening up the household budgets, a few of my favorites like Domino, Cottage Living and Country Home went the way of the Dodo Bird.

Luckily, Better Homes and Gardens is still around and they have reasonable subscription prices. So good in fact, that I am having a give-a-way for a free subscription to Better Homes and Gardens Magazine for two, count 'em 2, lucky readers!

Now, because there are a few of you, you'll have a pretty good chance of getting a great magazine stuffed into your mailbox every month!

**All you have to do is leave a comment titled, "BHG ME" and you're in!
And while you're at it, inspire us by telling what you are doing to make your home a haven for your family. (and friends)

This Fall, I'll be working on crafts with the kids (corn husk dolls) for Thanksgiving, testing new recipes for pumpkin cookies w/cream cheese frosting and making good, comfort foods. I want to have more things like that around just in case somebody comes by or Reese runs into the house to load up his friends who are playing outside.

And because one of my great purposes in life is to care for my little ones,
that makes my home more of a haven for me.
**The Give-a-way runs through Sunday 11/1/09

Autumn Swap Box Fun Stuff

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

I just wanted to relate my Fall Swap goodies sent to me by Sandra at In This Small House.
She has a delightful blog full of crafty ideas and family fun so be sure to check her out! I like her thought process about a small house - "it may be small, but full of love."

She sent over a box full of Fall and Halloween goodies like the sweet little frame and picture. Blair couldn't understand why I was taking a picture without her in it, so here she is Vanna-ing the little frame.

Sandra made a "happy haunting" pillow - tea stained, embroidered and all! There was also a great big acorn that I can display on my new shelves. I really like the look of acorns. Maybe it's those sweet little caps they wear.

More fun items included some nice smelling candles, a tall scarecrow, kitchen towels with an acorn shaped cookie cutter which will be put to good use now that I have Amber's awesome sugar cookie recipe. She also sent me some "bat droppings" which didn't taste like bat droppings at all, not that I would know (although I did have a scary encounter with a bat once...)they were more like chocolate mint cookies! (Think girl scouts thin mints here.) And last but not least, a little "count your blessings" sign.
It was fun to receive Autumn in a box and send one her way as well but most of all, it is great to have a new friend way out in Utah. Thanks Sandra for all of the fun stuff!
Don't you love blogging sisters?

We're working on a Christmas secret santa stocking with a minimum of $10.00 or almost nothing if it's homemade!
Let me know if you'd like to join that as well!

Happy Fall ya'll!

The girl is 4

Monday, October 26, 2009

Dear Blair,

Happy Birthday to my baby girl. You will always be that to me, even though you insist on getting older. But it makes me happy, though, to see you grow and enjoy life.
You bring us great joy. We feel it in every corner of our hearts.
Each morning I wake up wondering when you'll saunter from your room with that sweet grin on your face, what song you'll sing, what funny thing you'll say, what flower you'll run to pick.
You're the best little friend ever.
I'm so happy you were made for me.
Love, Momma

Blog Away

Sunday, October 25, 2009

An awesome mountain. Beautiful Mt. Hood. I had the privilege of seeing this mountain everyday while growing up in Washington state. She's actually in Oregon but I had the best of both worlds living on the border. From my front yard, I also had a great view of Mt. St. Helens until she blew up. That can happen when you live among volcanoes.

It's been a year since I started this blog.

I had a few friends that kept asking if I had gotten in to this "blogging thing" yet. I hadn't.

But, I was invited to read a few and found them interesting. It's strange how you can feel connected to people by reading little blurbs about their life. I've enjoyed reading all of yours, seriously. Your stories, family adventures, beautiful family photos and craft ideas make my day a little more complete. And what a great way to document your life story. I guess even when we think there is no story to tell, there really is, which is why I keep checking in!

I haven't quite found "my voice" yet. I have all these ideas - do I make it a literary blog? Keep it simple as a "mommy" blog? Start a craft blog? Keep a separate blog for all of the home improvement projects we keep starting and taking forever to finish or never finishing? Update on my design course challenges? Or just make it a potpourri of all the things swirling around in my head, leaving it a bit random?

Whatever it becomes, thanks for reading but more importantly, thanks for inspiring me by yours!

So check in tomorrow when I write up a give-a-way in honor of my 1 year mark.
It may inspire you to do something and heck, it's totally free - who says there's nothing free in life?

Little things

Friday, October 23, 2009

Three dollars and twenty-one cents.
That's what I picked up this morning doing a load of laundry and cleaning the abyss, a.k.a. the garage/laundry facility.

Nine bucks.
That's what I found today when taking the kids on a stroll. I pulled out a stroller that I don't normally use and while out walking, I opened up a pocket on the stroller. In it was a small stash of ones which I had forgotten about.

Blair holding up a blade of grass to her head when I snapped a picture.

Don't you love little things like that?

Have you checked the registry?

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Normally I don't depart from a happy blog.

I did vent once - remember this post?

Well, in light of recent news events, I'd thought I'd take a moment to remind you to check your state's sex offender registry. It is widely known as "Megan's Law."

Just put your state in the search and then narrow it down by inputting your zip code. Take a moment to look at each listing and note the address. If they have complied with the law, and we know there are many that haven't, the ones that have should be listed by wherever they work and live.

I know that people make mistakes. The registry doesn't give a full back story, of course.
There are a ton of factors that go into such problems in our society. I lay awake wishing this country put more emphasis on education. I do believe that education is the ticket out of so many sad situations. Every living human being was given the Light of Christ, or conscience, but somewhere along the way, they made terrible choices. Some are the same choices their parents made and the cycle continues...

But we need to remember that The Lord entrusted us with His/your little ones no matter their age. They will always be our little ones.

Some say this law has had no effect on community tenure. Maybe true, but at least you have the information that as a citizen of The United States of America, you have every right to.
If the only thing you do is look up this registry and make yourself aware of your surroundings, then I am happy.
And pray, in whatever way makes you comfortable - it will be a nice moment today.

Laura Lynn
Back to lighter notes tomorrow!

Their Influence

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Today I took Trae man out for a stroll. It was a nice break after having 4 kids running high fevers and waiting out the Ark-building weather.

It was a wonderful day. With the sun shining, the brisk air feeling good to breathe, leaves falling and the crunch of acorns beneath your shoes.

I asked Trae if he was having a nice time. He said "yep."

He wasn't able to ask that of me but I thought he would if he could.

I was in deep thought.
Thoughts that took me back to my mom,
like so many other times and always around holidays and decorating for the seasons.
She had "seasonal flair," I called it.
Like, amazingly good. I was always impressed by her creativity.
She had two famous lines when we would be out shopping. If an item was a great price, she'd say, "Oh, I couldn't make it for that -let's buy it!" or if the workmanship wasn't great, she'd say. "Oh, I can do better than that," and with energy and a studious face, she went about making something from all kinds of supplies. I called her the original Martha. And as I think about it now, probably "MacGyver" too.

This fall she would be happy to know that I am continuing the tradition of making corn husk dolls in their beautiful yet simple and unadorned, raw form - just like she did and just the way they were so gracefully displayed on our Thanksgiving table.

I am so thankful for mothers.

I hope they know their influence.

A case for nudity?

Monday, October 19, 2009

So I am trying to make a case for nudity.

Now, if you have a filter on your computer, I just blocked you from reading this.
If not, continue...

Why would I want to become a nudist you ask? And more importantly, why on earth would I do that to anybody??

Is it because I think the human body is an exquisite form that must be displayed for all to see?
No. Hardly.
Most of the time I wish people would cover up more and then layer more clothes on top of their layers and then do a 360 in the mirror, see what they missed and then continue layering.
No one wants to see your underwear, thank-you-very-much.
And the cleavage - oh the humanity! Cover up, pahleeze.

It's because of this...

Piles and piles of laundry. There is more too, it's on the other side of the sectional,
something a nudist never has to worry about.
But then again, I'd have to go get all toned and slim. Too much work, I'll stay modest I guess.

I actually don't mind processing laundry and I am thankful we have clothes to keep us warm.

I do wish I had a laundry room though. I have no idea why they built this house with the laundry hook ups in the garage.

And after folding and putting away all those clothes for the past two hours, I realized I need some new towels and there are 34 socks that have no match. A sock should not be alone. They should mate for life, like the Gray Wolf, French angel fish, Swan or even pigeons.
So now I'm off to search for their "sole" mate. Ha ha, get it? I just thought of that as I was writing.

Okay, it's been a long day...I'll go back to the laundry room that is my garage...

and the rest of you can enjoy some luxe laundry rooms!

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Re-thinking the mantra

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

After a week of broken dishes,
a small can of paint thrown over the railing, exploding on to the carpet,

someone "playing school teacher" on the walls and 4 rolls of tissue paper put in the toilet, (I'll spare you pictures of toilets...)

I am re-thinking my mantra...
"Calgon, take me away?" No.

"Live and let die?" Nope.

"Low expectations is the key to my sanity?" Naahhh.

"When life gets rough, drink a caffeineted diet pepsi and stuff your face with chocolate?" No, not that either, but sounds good.

I think it's going to be this...

And it's going to be framed and displayed in my living room.
(I do think there is chocolate in the cupboard, though. see ya!)