Monday, September 29, 2008

The Mudflats Blog from Alaska

I discovered this blog while avoiding homework and it is funny AND political - my favorite combination outside of tequila and limes.  Dad will especially appreciate this blog!  The latest post is about a moose who stole a swingset.

One of my favorite quotes is from yesterday's post, "the McCain campaign is getting desperate.  They've tried just about everything to postpone, or lessen the carnage of the looming bloodbath that will be the Vice Presidential debate this Thursday night".  What a fitting description!

I'm thinking Thursday night might be a good night for a party...

Sunday, September 28, 2008

I Hate Grocery Shopping

Am I the only one?  I loathe grocery shopping with the heat of a thousands suns.  A dentist appointment would be better.  A bikini wax, hell a BRAZILIAN wax would be better.  And why is it that the thing I hate hate hate the most (even more than ironing) has to be done all the fucking time?  Two or three times a week sometimes, especially if the kids have friends over which they do a LOT.  Every time I turn around we are out of milk, cheese, apples, green beans...  (ok, I lied.  We will never run out of green beans because no one ever eats them.  I will die with the same package of frozen green beans in my freezer that I bought when we were first married).

Today I have taken matters into my own hands.

I sent husband to Costco.  He will come home with everything on the list plus eleventy-million other things that he felt we HAD TO HAVE.  I have to clean out the pantry and the mudroom in preparation to house all the crap he will buy and it still might not all fit.  We will have to take out a second mortgage on the house to pay for everything he will buy.  The house will be full to the rafters with gigantic bags of chips, ten pounds of bananas, eight gallons of milk, fourteen bottles of shampoo, six thousand cans of soda, a gazillion eggs, and seven heads of lettuce.

If I'm lucky I won't have to go grocery shopping for at least a week.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Canbert the Robot

Thing two built a very cool little robot from a tin can and a kit we bought at the new game store in town.  Of course, husband had to get in on the action.  Thing two was very impressed when husband showed him how to fix a not-working joint piece with chewing gum.

All three of my guys with Canbert.  This picture pretty much sums up their personalities perfectly.

Here's the newest addition to the family.  After much discussion (read, yelling and screaming) he was christened Canbert the Robot.

Dog does not like Canbert very much.  He makes noise and walks funny.  But she tolerates him because she is a VERY GOOD dog.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Very Scary

Daughter called me this afternoon from tutoring, more than a little freaked out.  The backstory is that on Tuesdays and Thursdays she goes to a tutoring center for extra help with math.  She takes a different school bus, gets off at the closest stop, and then has to walk about 3/4 of a mile to the tutor.  It is along a main arterial road that is adjacent to her old middle school.  I pick her up after her 2 hours of tutoring is over.

Today she was walking along and a police officer cruised by her three or four times before finally stopping in front of her and motioning her over to his car.  He asked her if she had noticed that a guy on a bicycle had been following her for five or six blocks.  She hadn't, and he told her that this guy was known to the police and not a good person to have following her.  Police officer got her name and cell phone number, told her to take her iPod headphones out of her ears and walk to where she was going without dawdling while he went to "talk" to the guy on the bike.

She was disturbed by the whole episode, and made it quite clear that she didn't ever want to walk to tutoring from the bus stop again.  I am disturbed too.  The what-might-have-been is hard not to think about and I'm also more than a little pissed off by the fact that a high school freshman cannot walk three-quarters of a mile on a well-travelled small town street and feel safe.  I don't think this is an unreasonable expectation, and yet here we are.

I sent an email to the city police station to thank that officer.  Had he not said something to her, we never would have known and this weirdo who was following her (and how weird must he have been acting WHILE he was following her for the cop to pick up on it from a moving vehicle?!?!?) might have noticed the pattern of her walking along there every Tuesday and Thursday and made a move to hurt her.  I don't know that officer but if I ever get to meet him, I might just kiss him.  I shudder to think about what might have happened had he not been so observant and concerned for a young girl's safety.

I'll be changing her tutoring schedule so I can drive her from now on.

Playing Heroscape - aka, Dungeons & Dragons for Dummies

Thing two finally found a game he likes and I can understand.  It takes a minimal amount of set-up, doesn't take weeks to play, and is enough like a normal game so as not to make me want to flay the flesh from my body.
I did drink wine while playing.  So shoot me.

Thing two made sure all of our little men made the appropriate noises when they made their various moves.  Deaths were gruesome and noisy.

The little man in the blue cape was important.  I have no idea why.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Onto a New Chapter

School starts for me today.  After starting at community college in 2004 and inching along a little at a time just taking one class per quarter, I finally realized that I'd never finish unless I went full-time.  It took 5 quarters of full-time classes to get to the 2 year mark and now I'm starting at the University of Washington.

I'm not nervous, just excited.  The school is a satellite that shares the campus with the community college I attended so I know the campus inside and out already, including the library, bookstore, and most importantly, the COFFEE CARTS!  So I have the bonus of not having to navigate in unfamiliar territory.  And I have to admit, it will be nice not sharing a classroom with running start students.  They are sharp as whips and a big asset to every class they are in but it is unnerving to be working on group projects with kids only two or three years older than daughter.  I had one group meeting at my house last year and decided never to do it again when daughter remarked on how "hawt" one of my group members was.

Somehow it feels like this is the beginning of something new and big for me.  I don't know what's coming, but it will be an interesting ride.  Of course I have a plan, but anyone who knows me knows that my idea of a plan is more like a general outline and could change at any moment.  (Especially if I can convince husband that Las Vegas would be a very nice place to live!)  But for now, I am off to class in search of the coveted 4.0.

I can't let scientistgeekbrother beat me in the grade department!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Unleashing my Inner Teenager

You'll have to imagine the eyerolling, barely muffled stomping through the house and air of disdain.  I can't project it properly in this medium.

I am paying for my teenage years.  Paying dearly.

School Starts WHEN?

I go back to school at the UofW on WEDNESDAY!  I haven't cleaned out my office & organized it for schoolwork, finished hemming the downstairs drapes, cleaned out my closet, unburied the mudroom, taken Grandmother to the senior center to see about signing her up for activities, taken Thing 2 to the YMCA to see about signing him up for activities, set up our business accounts for online banking...

I'm never gonna get all this shit done.  Where did the summer go?

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Sailing the High Seas - Part Four

Daughter said that when she and Stepdan took the dingy out to these rocks, the sea lions looked up at them and then dove off the rocks and swam up to their little boat to see what they were all about.  It was the highlight of her life, sea lions were close enough for her touch.  It doesn't get much better than that.

Hark!  Canada, eh?

My Grandfather was born in Canada, eh?  I am the queen of Canada, eh?  I drink tea and am really polite to rude people, eh?

I think this is Mount Baker but I wouldn't bet your firstborn on it.  (Unless you're like me and you're really trying to get rid of your firstborn!)  Taken from the deck, bridge, thingy of the boat.  Sailboat.  Ship.  Floating thingy.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Sailing the High Seas - Part Three

Doesn't this look like a church ad?

An eagle on a light, um, thingy.  I'm very up on my seafaring terms.

I think this is a heron but it could well be a tyrannasaurus rex for all I know.  A bird-ologist I am not.

To be continued...

Friday, September 19, 2008

Sailing the High Seas - Part Two

The very best Nana EVER!

Fabulous rainbow over the sound.

Look at this sunset!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Sailing the High Seas - Part One

I'm going to try this one more time. My writing has mysteriously disappeared off of this post THREE TIMES now.

For a week in August, daughter went sailing with Mom & Stepdan. She had an absolutely lovely time and is already trying to weasel her way into another invitation.

Daughter tying a hitch onto a cleat or some such nautical nonsense. She can be HELPFUL! Who knew? (Unfortunately it only happens for her grandparents. Sigh.)

This is Mom & Stepdan's boat. It is a 35' Catalina. (I think) I hear it's pretty comfortable for a tiny cave floating on water. I puke if I take a bath so a week on a sailboat is the definition of hell as far as I'm concerned but daughter NEVER gets seasick (or carsick, airsick, trainsick...) so she just loved it.

Boaters are very nice, friendly people. When they're alive.

Daughter only got crabby once, this is the photographic evidence.

Since Stepdan takes eleventy-million pictures when he is on the water, AND since he's a good photographer so there are a lot of really cool pictures, AND since blogger gets cranky when I try to post more than three or four pics in one post, AND since I'm leaving for Chelan today (for the whole weekend, with NO KIDS!!), this is the first in a series of photo-laden posts.

To be continued...
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FEMA Fucks Hurricane Survivors Yet Again

I cannot believe that after Katrina, the federal bureaucrats in D.C. didn't pull their collective heads out of their collective asses to put together post-disaster plans that might actually HELP people.  Now they have decided that they are not going to distribute ice to survivors of the latest round of hurricanes - nope, that is now the state's jobs.  Except, as the director of the Mississippi Emergency Agency says, "because neighboring states have to contract out their plans for ice, they are essentially competing against each other in the face of disaster".  

So Texas and Louisiana get to pay for ice at the highest possible price after a disaster that devastates their states and incurs billions of dollars of damages they are also responsible for because FEMA - which is a FEDERAL AGENCY - is delegating it's job back to the states????  Isn't the point of having a federal agency to make things like post-disaster aid and relief move more quickly and efficiently because it is all done by ONE agency (like, oh, FEMA, there's an idea!) rather than have it parceled out to the states to do individually?

Or maybe we should have the governors of any states affected by hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, etc. just have a WWF smack down to decide which state's citizens get first crack at the ice?

I need to bitch-slap someone, where's Dick Cheney when I need him?

Erica C. Barnett at the Stranger alerted me to the latest incompetency of our government with this piece on Slog.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Daughter's First High School Football Game

I forgot what a zoo it is at a high school football game.  Our team lost 28-20 but the kids had a great time.  I was just impressed that daughter knew the score when I picked them up - I don't think her girlfriend even knew there was a game going on, she's all about the socializing!

The kids painted their faces with SHARPIES.  I still can't believe it washed off.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

McCain & Palin Can Suck It

I know a lot of bloggers don't post political things because they don't like the arguments and controversy.  I love me a good argument and thrive on controversy - the more yelling the better.  This was on Stepmonster's blog yesterday courtesy of her friend Kevin who I know I have met but can't for the life of me remember.  We'll just call it a blonde moment.

McCain has destroyed every shred of respect I had for him (and I did like him once upon a time because he did what was right not what was politically advantageous).  And Palin is a fucking lunatic who isn't qualified to be a kindergarten teacher let alone the second in command of the most powerful country on the planet.

I'm a little confused.  Let me see if I have this straight...

If you grow up in Hawaii, raised by your grandparents, you're "exotic, different."
Grow up in Alaska eating mooseburgers, a quintessential American story.

If your name is Barack you're a radical, unpatriotic Muslim.
Name your kids Willow, Trig and Track, you're a maverick.

Graduate from Harvard Law School and you are unstable.
Attend 5 different small colleges before graduating, you're well grounded.

If you spend 3 years as a brilliant community organizer, become the first black President of the Harvard Law Review, create a voter registration drive that registers 150,000 new voters, spend 12 years as a Constitutional Law professor, spend 8 years as a State Senator representing a district with over 750,000 people, become chairman of the state Senate's Health and Human Services committee, spend 4 years in the Unite States Senate representing a state of 13 million people while sponsoring 131 bills and serving on the Foreign Affairs, Environment and Public Works and Veteran's Affairs committees, you don't have any real leadership experience.
If your total resume is: local weather girl, 4 years on the city council and 6 years as the mayor of a town with less than 7,000 people, 20 months as the governor of a state with only 650,000 people, then you're qualified to become the country's second highest ranking executive.

If you have been married to the same woman for 19 years while raising 2 beautiful daughters, all within Protestant churches, you're not a real Christian.
If you cheated on your first wife with a rich heiress, and you left your disfigured wife and married the heiress the next month, you're a Christian.

If you teach children about sexual predators, you are irresponsible and eroding the fiber of society.
If, while governor, you staunchly advocate abstinence only, with no other option in sex education in your state's school system while your unwed teen daughter ends up pregnant, you're very responsible.

If your wife is a Harvard graduate lawyer who gave up a position in a prestigious law firm to work for the betterment of her inner city community, then gave that up to raise a family, your family's values don't represent America's.
If your husband is nicknamed "First Dude", with at least one DUI conviction and no college education, who didn't register to vote until age 25 and once was a member of a group that hates America and advocated the secession of Alaska from the USA, your family is extremely admirable.

OK, much clearer now.

Excuse me while I go make another donation to the Obama/Biden campaign.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Fundraising Auction & Dinner

Decorating for the Tavon fundraising auction and dinner is my contribution to this fabulous organization every year and each time it goes more smoothly and looks better.  The tables this year had galvanized pails on them filled with 4" pots of various herbs.  It went along beautifully with the evening's theme, "Cultivate the Earth, Celebrate the Individual", as well as Tavon's mission to use horticultural therapy as a part of their program for young adults with disabilities. 

The venue was perfect and the decorations looked lovely in such a pretty setting.

Daughter and her best friend were two of the many teens who volunteered for the event.  They helped set up dessert plates, decorate, sold raffle tickets, cleared tables and assisted at the live auction.  It was so great to see how many teenagers were willing to spend their Saturday volunteering for such an important and worthy cause.

Mom was at the ocean with her sisters but Stepdad was able to come, here he and I are talking to husband and brotherinlaw.  I am going to have to have a word with Stepdad regarding the horror he calls a haircut!

I don't know how much money we raised yet but I do know it was a LOT.  Husband shocked the shit out of me by bidding on and buying a six day, six night safari trip to AFRICA!  It's the trip of a lifetime and I still can't quite believe that he actually bought it.  I'm so excited!  We have 2 years to use it so I have to get planning.  Mom, can you watch the kids for us....

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Six Years Ago Today

On September 14, 2002, very dear friends of ours lost their youngest son in a canoeing accident.  He was four years old and a sunny, happy kid.  He loved "screaming yellow" and "screaming orange" of all the colors and that's how he lived - at full speed and full volume.  His parents lives are less colorful and bright now and his two older brothers have learned about loss and grief far younger than anyone should ever have to.

It's a beautiful sunny day here today, the flowers he helped me plant in the garden are blooming, and I'm going to spend the afternoon outside in the sun remembering a very special little boy.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Art I Must Own

The technology gods frowned upon my attempts to post a photo of the most masterful work of art I need to possess so you will just have to click here to view it for yourself.  (It's the first one, natch)

Mine, all mine.  Now where is my credit card?

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Ikea Anyone?

The one store I haven't made it to with motherinlaw is Ikea and it's too late to take her now because she leaves on Sunday.  I love taking Ikea virgins shopping, it's like watching someone get their first heroin fix, but it's probably just as well we didn't go.  Motherinlaw would run over innocent shoppers with the cart she insists on pushing (but is incapable of steering) and want to buy everything in the store.  Then I would have to figure out how to ship it all to her home without taking out a second mortgage to pay the shipping fees.

So now I just have to fit in a day at Ikea between now and September 24th when I start school.  Somehow I think I will find a way.  I've been lusting over their new fabrics ever since I got the catalog and my sewing machine is up and ready for action.

Picture found via Design Talk

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Privacy and Blogging

Mid-Century Modern Moms has a thought-provoking post up today.  Sylvia Wrigley says, "children of the future may be searching on each others photographs, matching based on facial features in a way we can't conceive of now.  Perhaps you'll see google searches matching based on the IP address from which the blog files were uploaded.  It's not that I was foolish enough to use his real name, it's that I couldn't second guess how things were going to move on."

Joining blogmanity late in the game, I thought long and hard about how to make this blog mine without sacrificing my children's privacy on the alter of the internet.  My kids are old enough to know what a blog is (two of them have their own blogs) and to realize the repercussions of having just anything out there on the www for anyone to see.  So I don't use full names, not even mine and I check google regularly to make sure this site doesn't come up attached to my name.  But I do post pictures because my main reason for starting a blog is so that people we love who live far far away can see the kids and how they're doing.

My biggest decision was to allow the kids to read my blog.  They don't read it often and we talk about it when they do read it but it keeps me from posting things in anger and the heat of the moment that I might regret later.  I talk about some of my frustrations here but always things that I have already talked about with them and the posts that directly relate to them, I let them read before I post.  And I always keep in mind that this is not a journal, it is completely public and wide open to everyone and as much as I try to keep it private, it may come back to me in the future.  Remembering this with every post has - so far - kept me from making a total and complete fool out of myself.  (I'm ok with being a partial fool.)

So anyone else out there struggle with this issue?

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Australians Come Up On Top

It's a Condom Competition to "help re-create a culture of condom use" sponsored by the Queensland Association for Healthy Communities.

Out of the winners, this is my favorite:

Have I mentioned I have Australian relatives?  Obviously their awesome Australian-ness is in my blood.

Who wants to go to Queensland?

Monday, September 8, 2008

Whatever, the Penis Edition

I have a new nickname for husband...

Your Penis Name Is...

Bavarian Beefstick

I may never get anything done again but I can find dumb shit on the internet like nobody's business!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Whatever, the Soda Edition

I found this on a blog written by Stephie in Malaysia.  My life is now complete, my blog has it's own drink.  I wonder how it tastes with vodka?

Saturday, September 6, 2008

A Different Start to the School Year

Daughter started public high school this year - 9th grade - she loves it and we're dealing.

Thing One is in 7th grade and returning to the public middle school he attended last year. I'm thankful he doesn't have any weird transitions to make because change is not his favorite thing and he was and continues to be very successful at this wonderful school. He's in honors humanities, 8th grade math, loves band and is looking forward to being in the drama club again. Word on the street is that the production this year will be The Music Man. Last year they did Pirates of Penzance.

Thing Two is going to 7th grade at home. He is enrolled in a "Virtual Academy" in Washington State that is an online school. For the past 7 years he has gone to the same public elementary and middle school as his brother and sister do/did but has struggled with his interactions with his peers.

When the boys were nine I finally copped to the fact that they were not your average kids and maybe some medical detective work was in order to see what we could do to help them out. They went through extensive testing, evaluations with neuro-docs and psychiatrists, yadda yadda yadda and the end diagnosis was Asperger's Syndrome. But the neurologist saw something more in Thing Two and he got a couple of extra diagnosis (diagnosi?) in addition to AS. With two years of seeing a psychologist weekly, the care of a psychiatrist and medication as well as husband and I learning a whole new way of parenting these two unusual kids, they are doing wonderfully well and thriving. Except Thing Two, at school, with the kids he has grown up with.

The years of diagnosis and therapy were hell for him and school was not a great place to be. I pretty much went to all of fourth grade with him to help him with appropriate reactions and behaviors but he was suspended for the first time that year and many many more suspensions followed. It wasn't the school's fault, they did the best they could, and it wasn't Thing Two's fault, he just had a lot of things he needed to learn to deal and cope with. We all did our best and have come out the other side better for it. But those kids at school that saw him at his worst - they haven't forgotten. And he has become stuck in a pattern of behavior and reactions with them. They expect him to behave like he did at his worst, even now when he is doing so SO well, and he reacts to him in that same old way because they expect it. It is a self-fulfilling prophecy from hell.

So to break the pattern, we've pulled him from school. He still has teachers, a curriculum and books that are provided for us, and will be keeping up with his brother in his studies. But he will not be at school. I am willing to try anything once and we have learned in the past that creative parenting and problem solving is the way to go with this kid. He is not an average 12 year old so we can't treat him like one.

He is a dedicated gamer and has a group he plays D&D with on a regular basis, he is deciding on some extra-curricular activities such as 4-H and fencing (???) so he will still be hanging out with other kids, just not the same kids he has spent so much time with up until now. In watching him this summer, he made instant friends everywhere we went. I know he can have successful relationships with his peers, just not the ones that expect the OLD behavior from him.

I'm excited for this school year and also a little nervous. My role will be completely different and I have new things to learn. But if it means Thing Two can finally find his niche and enjoy school and other kids, it will all be worth it.

Friday, September 5, 2008

I Love Politics!

I've seen this video clip on several blogs including Lesbian Dad and Slog but I had to post it here just in case YOU haven't seen it.  It is freaking hysterical and shows what idiots the GOP talking heads are by using their very own words.  No left-wing conspiracy here, they said it themselves.  And they are morons.

What a GREAT election season this is turning out to be!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

News Flash - There are HAWT GUYS in high school

Daughter loves her teachers, art is awesome, humanities teacher is hysterically funny and there are HAWT GUYS in all her classes.  Taking a different bus to tutoring after school is no big deal because there were lots of HAWT GUYS that talked to her.  And in the halls, a HAWT GUY thought she was a new transfer upperclasswoman (girl) rather than the lowly freshman that she is.  In Spanish class, another HAWT GUY sat in front of her and checked her out.

Holy shit, shoot me now.  This is karma kicking my ass for my own teenage years.  I can hear my father laughing all the way from Las Vegas.

Is it too late for Catholic boarding school?

Labor Day at Lake Chelan

Thing Two pulling Thing One out on the floatie.  Thing One is very cautiously enjoying his cast-free existence and finally getting to go swimming for the first time this summer.

Thing Two mocking a sculpture in Chelan.  Whose kid is that?  Certainly not mine.  I teach my children to respect and revere art, not make fun of it.  What?  Quit laughing...

Thing Two finally mastered the art of rock skipping, he got up to four skips with one rock.  We're so proud.

Daughter and Husband on the balcony.  He is trying to restrain himself from covering her up with a turtleneck and baggy sweats.  Men have such a hard time with their baby girls growing up and it doesn't help that she's 13 but looks way way older.  Sigh.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Catching the Bus at 6:38am Might Just Kill Her

Daughter starts high school today.  Like all teenagers she enjoys rolling her eyes, wearing whatever clothes/makeup/jewelry will give her father the most fits, dyeing her hair weird colors and most importantly, sleeping until after lunchtime.  I laughed myself silly when I got the letter from the school district that said her bus would pick her up at 6:38 in the morning.  School starts at 7:20 so it could be worse but she didn't see it that way.  Getting up at o'dark thirty is a fate worse than death as far as she's concerned.  I didn't have much sympathy, I've wasted years of my life trying to drag her ass out of bed so this is sweet revenge.

Hmmm, daughter at 7 and she's in bed reading.  Not much has changed.  It's not just her as a teenager, she's always been a night-owl that likes to sleep in until I'm having a cow because she's still in bed and it's WHAT TIME?!?!?!

And here she is this weekend in Chelan.  Thinking she's all that and a bag of chips 'cause she's going into high school.  Brat.

Now I'm going to go cry myself back to sleep.  (I don't have to go to school at 7:20 in the morning, why should I lose my beauty sleep?)  She's ready for high school but I'm not.  

Have fun baby, I love you.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

My Stepmonster and Me (apologies to Shrek fans everywhere)

Friday night we got our party on with my Dad, Stepmonster and the rest of the family.  They were here all weekend for my, um, Step-Uncle's (?) wedding and festivities.  The family tree got pretty complicated when Dad married a woman 16 years younger than him who is also YOUNGER than my husband - her soninlaw - who is 12 years older than me.  Got that? 
 No?  Good.  I'm aiming for total confusion.  Stepmonster's little sister, my AUNT, is just 20.  And her mother, my kids GREAT-GRANDMOTHER, is younger than my father, their grandfather.  We have so much fun fucking with people when they ask about our family tree! 

As you can see, I hold Stepmonster in the highest regard and have nothing but respect for her wisdom and authority over me.

The other reason we get along so well is our shared love of and devotion to red wine.  (And margaritas - Stepmonster makes the best damn margaritas in the known universe - but we restrained ourselves to only one alcoholic beverage out of respect for motherinlaw who might have exploded with the scandal of her daughterinlaw drinking not one but TWO types of alcohol in a few short hours.  The things I do for my family, the sacrifices I make.  Sigh.)