Friday, December 29, 2006

license to ill

Did I mention that Paige is now a licensed driver? She took her test on the 19th, and what a freaking nightmare. Wayne and I are so irresponsible sometimes.
Things we didn't remember we needed until we were out the door and on our way to the test:

  • Current vehicle registration. Wayne's registration expired late November, and he still hadn't renewed it. My van has a current registration but old tabs. We have license plate covers, and we are too lazy to remove them in order to apply the new year tab.
  • Current insurance card. Our card expired on 12/2/2006.
  • Paige's Driver's Ed certificate
Needless to say, it was a frantic 45 minutes prior to testing. We drove separately. While Paige and I drove to the department of licensing, Wayne got the tabs, headed back to the house to print off a new insurance card. I called him as he was leaving our development and asked him togo back and get the damn driver's ed certificate.

He made it to the DoL 10 minutes before her test. Yea!

She goes out back to wait for the tester, who is about 25 minutes late, and the tester won't test Paige because the tabs aren't current.

Wayne didn't put the new tabs on once he renewed the registration. DoL lady came in and told me our vehicle is "not good." I explained that the reg is current and all we have to do is put the little sticker on to be good to go.

"No. You can be on stand-by at 1pm."

This was at 12:15, and she told Paige she was cutting into her lunch hour.

Wayne went out back and broke the damn license plate cover (no wrench on hand to remove it the right way) and applied the stickers. The tester, who is your stereotypical gruff female DoL worker, was out back on her umpteenth cig.

Needless to say, we waited until 1pm.

At 1pm, a different person came out to test, and he was really nice. Paige misplaced her permit within the 45 minutes between the first and second test, but he was okay with it. The test took 5 minutes, and she passed with an 88%.

Then we had to hunt for the lost permit. Paige never left the car from the beginning of the first test, when she gave the DoL lady her permit until the end of the second test. We think the DoL lady had it on her clipboard, but it didn't matter. Paige didn't need it anymore because she was, at that point, licensed to drive!

Afterwards, she immediately went to her dad's.

She came back this Tuesday, and she has driven only a little bit. We have no insurance on her right now-- Tuesday we will. She is going to cost us over $200/mo. more on our insurance. We need to get her a beater vehicle that we can get just liability on and that won't completely inconvenience us if she totals it.

The first night she drove off on her own, Wayne was sick with anxiety. He was literally throwing up and dry-heaving. I was excited; he was ill. Can you see how we handle these things differently? I am so happy to not have to chauffeur her around anymore-- she's my high-maintenance kid, as far as "take me here; take me there" goes. He's ill over the idea of her out there driving, the cost of insurance, gas, etc. I say, let her get a damn job! He's not so on-board with that idea. I am all for it. Let the girl gain a work ethic and learn the value of money while helping to off-set the cost of her growing independence.

Ummmm... what else is happening here?

Oh, I start a class in 10 days and I have ONE couple? What is up with that? I had a TON of calls, and they all fell through. If I only have one couple, I will cancel the class. I cannot teach for just one couple. I've done it before, and it was a great couple, but they just didn't get the full value of the class.

Also, I keep thinking I need to get a real job. You know: clocking in, time cards, paid a regular wage kind of job. I get nauseous just thinking about it because I haven't had that kind of a job since 1998. My neighbor had a baby in July, and she is thinking about going back to work. I entertained the idea of possibly doing childcare for them. I don't know. I think I need a more real job than that. It's just that I know that I know how to take care of babies. It's my comfort zone. Ugh. This is just stressing me out, so I'm going to stop now.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

I Shouldn't Be Alive

Okay, I am slightly buzzed, which is the only way I can even consider relaxing so close to Chrustmas. Am I the only one who is wound tight before Christmas? I think the arrival of my period two days ago doesn't help. Oh well. Better a period than another baby, I say. Ugh. That's another blog altogether.

Okay post #2 for today is all about freezing and mountains.

If any of you tuned in to CNN over the past week or so, you have probably seen the story about the climbers on Mt Hood, in Oregon. This story comes after the tragedy sufffered by the Kim family from California. Each of these news stories made me so sad. I was so hopeful that James Kim would be found alive and that the rescuers would find the other two climbers on Mount Hood.

No such luck in either case.

(Okay, I was far too buzzed to continue this post last night; I saved it and will continue with it now).

Wayne and I were watching "I Shouldn't Be Alive" on Discovery Channel last night. The first episode was about a trio of men who were climbing Mount McKinley in Alaska. They get caught in a storm on the mountain; one guy leaves the other two, so he can bring back help. It was just disastrous and difficult to watch. All three men survive with fewer limbs and/or fingers/toes/nose.

It was just so similar, as far as I know, to the three guys on Mount Hood. All week I kept hoping that the men would be found alive on Mount Hood. When they found the first guy, Kelly James, deceased in a snow cave, I still held out hope for the other two, Brian Hall & Jerry Cooke, to be found alive. They just haven't been found at all. Yet.

It completely amazes me that people put themselves at risk by climbing mountains. It fascinates me-- their drive to get to the top of these high peaks. I so don't have "it" in me, whatever "it" is. I kind of wish I had "it"-- that drive.

The other episode was about a family in, like, 1992 who were on their way from California to Idaho for a funeral. They got stuck in the snow after taking a route that was actually closed for the season. They were, of course, unaware that the road was closed. They had their infant son with them, too. They seek help; dad ends up leaving mom and baby in a cave while he seeks helps. he actually finds help after walking miles upon miles; mom and baby are rescued. Mom and dad end up losing only part of their feet, as a result. Read about it here and here.

I was reminded of that saga when the Kim family was in a similar predicament a few weeks ago. The same situation: dad left the mom and kid(s, in this case) to seek help. However, mom and kids were found first and only later was the dad found, frozen to death.


fa la la la la la la la la

Christmas tizzy. That's where I am now, or actually, what I am coming off of. It has been a crazy week of tying up loose ends in anticipation of The Biggest Holiday of the Year!

We celebrate a secular holiday, as I think I have mentioned in the past. Wayne is Atheist, but I am too wimpy to declare myself as such. I prefer the wishy-washy label of Agnostic.

I was raised Catholic; well, for my first 13 or so years. Maybe a little longer than that. As an adult, I have struggled with the whole "raised Catholic" thing and the Agnostic thing. I love the ritual of the Catholic church; I love the idea of a virgin who carries the son of God, births him in a manger (unassisted "home" birth) and so on.

Mary is my favorite Christian hero. She's like a biblical Wonder Woman of sorts. I love that I can go into a Catholic church and see beautiful images of Mary and the infant Jesus that just make me want to cry. Even if I don't believe that Jesus truly was the son of God (whomever "he" may be), conceived via immaculate conception, the story makes me cry. I get all choked up when I hear the Christ-y Christmas songs. I mean, how can one not-- believer or not?

Wayne asked me the other day if I was going to go to church on Christmas eve. I got a wild hair a few times and dragged the family to services on Christmas eve in the past. I don't feel that need this year, but I have to admit, that I miss the beauty of mass at Christmas. Protestants just don't know what they are missing. The Catholics have the mass thing down perfectly.

Anyway, I participated in a Secret Snowflake exchange with a step-parents group that I've been a part of for years now; my SS gave me the CD "Letting Go of God" by Julia Sweeney. It is wonderful, so far. She was raised Catholic (far more Catholic than I ever was) and was a practicing Catholic well into her adult years. This CD is a 2 hour monologue that details (in a rather humorous way) her transition from Catholic to Atheist. It is so interesting, and so much of what she talks about, I am like, "YES! That is exactly how I feel/think!"

It was a perfect Christmas gift for me.

She talks about the culture of Catholicism, which is what I tend to miss. She says that culturally, she is Catholic. But what exactly is it to be culturally Catholic? I feel the same way, but I'm not quite sure what that means.

This is the first year that I did not buy any Christmas cards with Mary and Jesus. Usually I get a set of secular cards and a set of religious cards; Wayne makes fun of me for it, but I feel like this is a day to honor Mary, if no one else. That poor girl! That poor woman! She suffered much. This year, my cards honored snowy trees and snowmen. Very secular all a round, which made Wayne happy. I think I am falling farther away from faith in God, which makes me sad a little, but I feel secure about it. It's a feeling of sadness in the same way that I feel about the day that Maya will stop believing in Santa Claus.

Julia Sweeney has a blog that is interesting.

As part of our holiday tradition, my mom came over yesterday to bake cookies with me. We made a bazillion cookies, and I was exhausted when we were done. I have one more batch to cook up today: cut-outs that I am doing with Maya, who is at a friend's house now.

Tomorrow our big celebration begins...after the football game.

Wayne and my brother just hooked up one of our Christmas gifts: a 42" LCD TV, which is now hanging on our bedroom wall. It looks suh-weet!

Happy Holidays to you all!

Monday, December 18, 2006

power outage

our power was out for 30 hours this weekend, and it was great fun. We've never had such an enduring power outage since we've lived together. It was crazy. It was all throughout the puget sound. Paige's dad and stepmom still have no power, and they may not get power until the end of the week-- or later.

It was okay, though. We had food, a gas fireplace and a propane grill out back. No hot water, however. We would have had hot water (we had a gas hot water tank), but we got a continuous water heater that uses an ELECTRIC ignition. How stupid is that?? Well, at least we never run out of hot water when there is electricity.

After Maya went to bed and Wayne and I had some time alone, we spent our time as any other hot and heavy couple would:
playing Scrabble, of course!

We played a sober version, first; that was far too difficult. Can I please have a vocabulary that consists of words longer than four or five letters? Ugh! I was playing Wayne; I easily beat him.

Then we played our not-so-sober version. Well, I played it, anyway. He couldn't focus and create words, so I played for both of us. We did quite well in the not-so-sober version. My vocabulary greatly expanded. I think I still beat him, though.

The Scrabble board was a beauty, so I took some pictures of it with the sole intention of a bragging blog.

I think some of the words might be real words. I bet they are all five letters or less, however. Sometimes I hate my damn brain!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

old news, but still...

I came across a letter to the editor almost two weeks ago that made me so mad, made my mouth drop open in disgust and compelled me to cut it out and read it to every member of my family.

The letter is re: the representative from Minnesota, Keith Ellison, who was going to take his "oath of office" on the book of his faith, the Qur'an. This had people completely enraged, which made no sense to me.

It came out soon enough that we Americans don't know diddly squat about our own government (duh) because the reps don't take an oath of office. They do a mass swearing-in type of thing and there are no bibles involved anyway. The bible (or Qur'an) is used as a prop only during photos.

Here is the letter in all it's patriotic greatness:

Someone should tell Ellison this is America, not Iraq


Last updated: December 2nd, 2006 01:31 AM (PST)

Re: Rep.-elect Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) and his statement that he will swear his oath on the Quran (TNT, 12-1).

This is an outrage. If Ellison wants to swear on the Quran, let him move to Iraq. Is this the same Quran that allows beheading and the stoning of women? Not in our back yard.

Someone should tell him this is the United States of America. If he is allowed to do this, what next for our country? We are already running scared of offending anyone, regardless if their objective is to blow us up on not.

Originally published: December 2nd, 2006 01:00 AM (PST)


I can't believe this person actually wrote that out loud. Billie Tilstra in Graham should be ashamed of him/herself. What American in their right mind would ever have such thoughts?!? A truly UN-American American, if you ask me.

I truly appreciate that The News Tribune printed that little letter because I have always been very proud to live here, in the pacific northwest, where we tend to be more progressive than the rest of the good ol' US of A. This letter is a reminder that there are ignorant, bigoted assholes right in my backyard! Howdy, neighbor! Ew.

Oh, and I just heard on the radio that the Moore Theater used to have separate white and black entrances. I was aghast. I've always told Wayne that there was no segregation here in Washington. I don't know why I thought that; it just seemed like Washington would be above such behavior. I guess I kind of forgot about the Japanese internment, too. Okay, so maybe Washington isn't exempt from a history of bigotry like I like to think.

Friday, December 8, 2006

cook this!

I love this show. Their family is a lot like mine. Their house looks a lot like mine. Chaos. Complete chaos. Always.

The other day I was watching TV and saw that the Roloffs were going to be on Rachael Ray. I'm not a fan of Rachael Ray; she's a little too perky for me to handle, so I've never watched any of her shows, but if the Roloffs are going to be guests, I'll tune in.

It was on earlier this week, but I watched the segment yesterday (love our DVR!!). She had them cook a meal that looked so good I completely changed my dinner idea for the evening and headed to the store at 4pm to get what I needed for this recipe.

It was so good. It was so easy. It was so quick. I think I am sold on Rachael Ray after just one 15-minute segment on her show.

It's called Paprika Chicken Stew with Potato Pierogies. I've never had a pierogi, so for those of you who have also never had a pierogi, it is a potato filled past shell. It's like a potato pot-sticker. I bought frozen potato and onion pierogies. There was also potato and cheese. Anyway, you boil them for a few minutes, then you fry them in butter until they get crunchy like a pot-sticker. So yummy.

My entire family loved this meal. It was hearty, filling and warmifying. Perfect for a cold night.
We ate the pierogies on the side not on top of the stew. We used sour cream and chives instead of lemon and rosemary.


Paprika Chicken Stew with Potato Pierogies

This is a great meal for a family because the longer it sits, the better it gets. Leave the stew on the stove top with the lid on and brown up the pierogies right before serving.


1/2 pound (about half of a package) smoky, good-quality bacon, chopped into half-inch pieces
3 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO), divided plus some for coating the pierogies
3 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts and thighs, cut into chunks
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 large onions, chopped
4 carrots, peeled and chopped
5 cloves garlic, smashed and roughly chopped
2 tablespoons flour
2 rounded tablespoons sweet paprika
1 tablespoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram
2 bay leaves
1/2 cup white wine
2 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
4 tablespoons butter
24 potato pierogies (if unavailable, serve over buttered egg noodles)
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup chives, chopped

1 tablespoon lemon zest
1 tablespoon rosemary, chopped
2 tablespoon parsley, chopped


Place a large pot of water over high heat and bring up to a boil for the pierogies.

Place a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat with 1 turn of the pan of EVOO, about 1 tablespoon, add the bacon and cook until brown and crisp, about 2-3 minutes. Season chicken with salt and pepper, add to the pot with the bacon and brown all sides, about 5 minutes. Add onions, carrots and garlic, paprika, cumin, marjoram and bay leaves and cook for about 4-5 minutes, until the veggies are tender. Make a well in the middle of the pan and add 2 tablespoons of EVOO. Add the flour to the EVOO and mix to form a paste.

Add the white wine, scrapping up all of the brown bits on the bottom of the pan. Add the chicken stock and tomatoes and cook for about 20 minutes until the stew has thickened.

While the stew is cooking, cook the pierogies according to the package in boiling water. Remove from the water, drain and coat lightly with EVOO so they do not stick together. Heat a medium non-stick skillet over medium-high heat, add the butter and cook until butter turns slightly brown and gives off a nutty smell. Make sure not to burn the butter though! Add the cooked pierogies to the pan and cook until slightly browned on both sides, about 1-2 minutes per side.

Serve the stew in large bowls with about a tablespoon of sour cream and chopped chives. Or serve the stew with a sprinkle of lemon zest, rosemary and parsley. Place the pierogies on top of the stew and eat! Yields 6 servings.

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

noble $84.50

This week was christmas tree hunting time for the family.

I don't remember ever having a pre-cut Christmas tree in all my life; I know we did have pre-cuts, but I was far too young to recall those years. The main tradition in my family was going out and hunting down a tree, saw in hand, whining and bitching in full gear. And tripping. Lots of tripping. My parents were cool like that.

No, not that kind of tripping. Tripping over cut stumps, blackberry brambles and whatnot.

But the big reward came at the end:

cocoa (or hot apple cider).

Yes, we had cocoa at home, but it tasted so much better out of styrofoam cups with water that was so hot it would burn the upper layer of flesh from your tongue--including all taste buds, which meant you couldn't taste the damn cocoa anyway.

And candy canes. We went to the places that gave away the regular size candy canes; those were the best. I hate the tiny candy canes. We just tromped our asses out in the wet and cold and spent a fortune on a tree that is going to be put on the curb (or the woods out back) in two weeks, so you better give us freaking full size candy canes.

This is a family tradition that I have continued with my own family now. The kids usually bitch and moan, as they did at the pumpkin patch. I actually considered buying a pre-lit artificial tree this year because my neighbor has one, and it looks so good. I couldn't quite go there yet, however, and when I mentioned a fake tree, the kids flipped out, which was nice. It made me think that they really do appreciate the ritual of going out and finding The Perfect Tree for our Perfect Christmas.

We didn't get to the tree farm until 4pm, which meant we had 15 minutes of daylight left to find The Perfect Tree.

Here they are, the tallest of our troops, armed (with saw) and ready to find the one tree that meets Mom's criteria for The Perfect Tree.

Paige checks it out:

Wayne checks the needles (these are Grand Fir, my favorite christmas tree):

Brittani...self explanatory:

Maya wants a little tree:

But we're thinking more along these lines:

Paige thinks she's found The One:

Ha, ha, ha, ha... No.

Maya wishes her opinion counted. It doesn't. Yet. Actually, the only opinion that matters is mine.

Paige lecturing her younger sibs. As usual.

And this is what Brittani thinks:

This picture is, like, the one picture that could sum up my older kids:


Searching high; searching low:

Still no tree:

See how dark it was by the time we threw in the towel? We ended up buying one of the pre-cut trees that they had at the entrance to the tree farm. I almost cried because tradition is something I love, and change is something I detest.

We chose a 9-10' Noble Fir (a first for us) for $84.50. For a tree that we will toss out to the curb for the boy scouts to pick up the week after christmas. What a waste. The fake tree route 9with lights already placed in abundance on each branch) is looking better and better.

Getting the tree up is another blog altogether.

Happy Holiday, peops!

Sunday, December 3, 2006

brit brit and a confession of sorts

As everyone knows by now, Britney and Kevin have split.
I was hopeful for the girl. I thought, she's seems pretty devoted to her kid(s). She was one of a handful of celebrities who are actually seen holding their children. Her wild days were past her, and she really beginning to seem to me to have her maternal hat on somewhat squarely.

Well, there was THIS.

and THIS.

and there was THIS, TOO, but I think this last one was just overblown. Anyone who actually holds their babes in arms will come across a moment where they may stumble. She might want to consider a sling for Jayden, however.

So she leaves K-Fed. Smart move. That decision gave me hope that she would continue to make wiser decisions for herself and for her kids.


Of course, soon after her separation, she began leaving the kids at home and partying with the scourge that is Paris Hilton.

I remember when I split with my previous husband-- I started hanging out with a friend who was somewhat toxic for me. I think it's normal for women who are finally free of and independent from a burdensome man to transition to a female friend who is equally toxic.

My friend was named Melissa Maier. She was so much fun! We clicked really well together pretty much immediately. She and I worked together as CNAs at a nursing home in town. We worked the swing shift (3p-11p), which left us with time to go out after work and time to sleep in in the morning. Did I neglect to mention that I had a 4 y.o. daughter at the time? Okay, well, I did. Paige was pretty much on her own or cared for by my mom in the mornings.

I was not a good mom. I was self-centered and focused on what I needed at the expense of my child's needs. I even allowed Melissa to, at times, discipline my child.

Looking back, I am totally embarassed by my lack of concern for Paige. Obviously I loved Paige, and I cared about what happened to her, but i was simply too preoccupied with what I wanted to see what she needed beyond the basic necessities. It takes work to be consistent with discipline, and I was too lazy and over-worked to deal with being consistent. I let Melissa take up the slack. She wasn't always the kindest person with her words towards Paige. I think she may have even begun to see herself as a parent-type to Paige.

Paige was a holy terror, as either my brother or sister will attest, but she was totally a product of her child-rearing. Kids who act up like she used to are often acting out to attract attention. Any attention (including negative) is better than zero or minimal attention; is better than feeling like your parent sees right through you except to yell at you.

It makes me so sad to see other women doing exactly what I did. It's difficult for me to say anything about that type of behavior without sounding condescending, and I have definitely been accused of looking down upon others from my high horse. I'm not, though. I have so totally been there, and I know the damage that can be done on so many levels.

Melissa and I eventually moved in together (ROOMIES! YAY! How FUN!), and Paige was miserable. Partying was intensified. Paige was usually gone for those parties because she did see her dad regularly, but then she would have to deal with tired, cranky, too busy for Paige mom. Sometimes hung-over mom, too. I thought it was all okay because i would party while she was gone. How could it possibly affect her?

Melissa was definitely my Paris-- until she started stealing money from my checking account, lost her job because she was always high and would call-in to work and then she eventually moved out. Abruptly with no notice and leaving me responsible for 4 more months on a lease that I could not afford on my own. I doubt Paris will do that to Brit-Brit, but you know what I mean.

I wonder how many women surround themselves with a toxic friend after a big break-up-- the kind of friend who can smell vulnerability and a desire for rebellion in a person and who feeds off of that to her own benefit. I've known other women who have gone through the same type of thing, but the difficulty is that a relationship of that type is not really recognizable until damage has been done. To kids. To the mother-child relationship. To the woman's financial well-being. To her mental well-being. And so on.

Poor Brit-Brit. She's just trying to assert her independence. She's trying to feel like she's not suffocating.

I hope she curbs her partying a bit simply because she will never gain back these years with her kids. Anyone who says to her, "Girl, you need this! Your kids are fine; they won't even know you're gone" etc are not doing her any favors. Our kids do not ask to be brought into this world; we brought them here, so the least we can do is respect their presence.

Saturday, December 2, 2006

you can get anything you want...

Maya and I just finished watching Alice's Restaurant. If you don't know what Alice's Restaurant is, you have horrible parents. No lie. As it is for many people, Alice's Restaurant is a Thanksgiving tradition for my family; I used to roll my eyes when mom would put the record on, but it always made me laugh. Arlo's a funny guy. And I used to think he was cute-- just look at the album cover. He was cute.

For all the times I have listened to Alice's Restaurant, I don't think I've ever seen the movie. I'm sure I have, but it isn't in my memory bank.

I liked it. It was sad. Maya said to me, "Don't cry mommy..." I didn't expect it to be so sad. I was really impressed at how well it has held up; it didn't seem dated--especially with our troops endlessly serving in Iraq.

There was a very nice love scene between Arlo and his chick; it wasn't graphic at all. There were bare limbs and backs. No breasts or pecs. Totally PG. Not even PG-13.

Wayne calls minutes after the scene and Maya wants to talk to him. She tells him: "Mommy and me are watching a movie with sex in it, and I don't like that part."


We ended up having a discussion about how sex is something that adults do when they feel very strongly about each other. When they love each other. She still thinks sex is gross, and I told her that's good because she's not an adult; sex is supposed to be gross when you're 6. Duh. I also reminded her that sex is how one conceives (makes) a baby. her reply: "oh, okay."

I figured we were done.

Several minutes later, she says: "So you had sex because you wanted me and Paige, and daddy had sex with Brittani's mommy so he could have Brittani, and two plus one is three, right?"

I answered yes to all of her questions.

The she said, "I'm going to write that down!" and she ran to her whiteboard. I was afraid of what she'd write. Was it going to be a 6-year-old's drawing of baby-makin' sex? I am not one to thwart creativity or inquisitiveness (unless it interrupts my movie!), so I allowed her to proceed to express our discussion on whiteboard. In purple pen.

Fortunately, she wrote 2+1=3.

My girl is going to be a mathematical genius.

OH! I forgot to mention that Arlo's wife has a youtube! It's kinda cool.