Thursday, December 27, 2007

Guns don't kill people

People kill people. And, occasionally, tigers do too. "The San Francisco Zoo is a great zoo." It probably is. But I kind of think you have to say that. You are the freaking president of zoos. Have I ever mentioned that I do not like going to the zoo? And here is yet another reason why.

I also do not ever want to visit a chimp sanctuary for my birthday. Or for a chimp's birthday. Or for any other reason.

C'mon. You know I had to go there. I can't talk about a tiger maulling and not bring up St. James.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas Y'all

Saturday, December 22, 2007


You visited me
through my silly blog and I
wish I had said more

Thursday, December 20, 2007

A Christmas gift for my parents that keeps on giving

This is what you buy for a person who has everything (everything you can afford to buy, that is).

This little piggy...

Can't recall if I posted these pictures or not, but Ch@ndy and I laughed our butts off posing the piggies around my parent's house last summer. Yes, we found this nonsense in the garage. Apparently, it is a crocheted doorstop. A happy crocheted doorstop - note the smile.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007


Tired of unrealistic optimism? Check out - a dose of reality sure to demotivate the best of them. I highly recommend watching the videos under the "Spin" section.

I'd like to say that I hope I've brightened your day a bit by sharing, but we both know it will be the regular crap-fest regardless. At least browsing will give you something to do while you are killing time.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Well that just sucks

My vacuum finally died on Friday. Knowing that this day would come soon enough, I had been researching consumer opinions and already had an idea of what type of vacuum I would buy.

On Sunday afternoon, the oldest daughter and I went to the Best Electronic Crap for Sale store to make our purchase as I was fairly certain I would have the best chance there to wheel and deal with the sales associate. Just my luck, it happened to be a 20-something boy. So I flashed my award winning smile and lured him into the price matching web.

Of course I couldn't get straight down to business; instead, I engaged the salesboy with flirtatious vacuum chat. "Which vacuum gets great reviews?" I mused. Coyly, I pretended that I hadn't spent the last two days pouring over said reviews. Then he began to walk over to the luxury 500$ models. To which I stopped him dead in his tracks with a terse "Ah, no. I'm not buying one of those."

Yeah, I was prepared to waste some time to make the deal, but there was no way I would concede to purchase a vacuum that would die in five years - regardless if it is made with a titanium lined swirling vortex of suction or not. Due to the volume of hair, dirt, and miscellaneous garbage that it would be forced to suck up daily shed from a family of six, a dog, and a cat, any vacuum used in my house is doomed from day one.

So the vacuum boy and I chatted more about the features of various models, and he kept comparing them to the luxury vacuum. I asked him if he was working on commission. And since he wasn't, after a few more minutes of chit-chat, I eventually admited that I saw the few vacuums I was interested in buying online...with a slightly smaller price tag.

After we made a deal and he went to get a cart so that I could lug the vacuum in box to the register and my car, I noticed a few floor models sat off to the side that had drastically reduced price tags. Tempted, I looked over the dust encrusted machines, pulling out filters and such, and seriously thought about aborting the sale in order to snag one of these ridiculous deals.

In the mean time, my oldest returned from trying out video games, and I told her that I was waiting for the salesboy to get a cart so that we could take our vacuum to the front register and pay for it.

By the time he returned, three or four other sales boys were hanging out at the computer near where I was standing. My sales boy snagged the print out of the price-match, and then nonchalantly offered me a tissue. To wipe off the large smudge of dirt on my face. To which the other sales boys quietly snickered.

I was embarrassed, which was quite obvious due to the thirteen shades of red my face was turning. To which he replied, "You hang around with vacuums, you are bound to get a little dirty." Quietly, I rubbed the smudge off with the tissue.

There is no moment in my life this far that made me feel so middle aged. Geeze. It's not like I have big boobs and cleavage working for me either. Just a bunch of sagging skin. Soon enough the only way I'll be able to haggle a deal is if a poor sales boy has pity on me because I remind him of his mother.

I thanked him, and flashed a look at my daughter that said, "You could have told me I had dirt on my face!"

That's not the end of it. The kid walked me up to the register, I bought the thing, and of course I had to show the receipt to the security dude on the way out. That's two more people I had engaged in conversation at this point.

When I got into the car, I took a gander in the mirror. The smudge I rubbed off while in the store was gone, but the four other ashen finger prints all around my mouth were not. So much for being charming. My daughter swore that she couldn't see the smudges of dirt. She needs to have her eyes checked.

And! And! On top of all that, I realized that I lost an earring in the store. Lucky for me, my daughter agreed to go back in there and search for it. Lucky for her, she found it - which easily redeems her for letting me walk around with ick on my face.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

As always, a big finish

My parents went back to Oregon today; I took them to the airport at 4:45 this morning. And I am exhausted, but not from lack of sleep. We had a fantastic visit though uneventful. That is the best kind of visit! Mostly we shopped and talked and ate. We did a lot of eating. With celebrating two birthdays in one week (Poetroad's on Tuesday and my mom's on Saturday), I ate two month's worth of cake, ice cream, and miscellaneous junk food in this week alone.

The truly exhausting part of the week, however, was enduring the goodbyes from last night. I think I forgot how attached my children are to my parents - for which I am sincerely grateful, but that fact makes saying goodbye all the more difficult. The 6 year old was sobbing her eyes out. So was the 12 year old. And the 9 year old. And the three year old was just saying, "But I don't want you to go, Grandpa."

And then my dad lightened the mood by making fart sounds. Thank goodness for potty humor!

Still, the 12 year old left this note on the steering wheel of my car so I could read it as I took my parents back to the hotel that evening: "I hate Texas. We never get to spend any holidays with our grandparents any more and we don't get to see them every day." Rip my heart out!

Today, I miss my mom and dad very much and I am glad for that. I could have had really crappy parents; I got the opposite of crappy - and if you knew the odds they had to overcome in order to be kind, loving, and caring people, you would understand the miracle that, unfortunately, I often loose sight of in the daily grind of life.

Texas makes the heart grow fonder.

Friday, December 14, 2007

A little of my work, as promised

Finally, I had a chance to sneak over to the school and take pictures of the art projects I did for the door decorations at school. Her is a close-up of the face I watercolored (using watercolor pencils) for the kindergarten door - Mr. Minty:

And the dog (a representation of the principal's dog) that I sketched out in about a half an hour (also using the watercolor pencils, but I didn't blend the colors as I wasn't using the right kind of paper AND I only had a little bit of time to work on it) - Ivan:

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


Yay! My mom and dad are visiting this week! The kids are elated to see their grandma and grandpa. From the time we picked my parents up from the airport until my daughters finally went to sleep around 10:00 PM, my girls chatted incessantly. I can tell that it will good medicine for my parents to spend time with their grandchildren this week - I don't think anyone adores their grandparents more than my kids do.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Look what kind of randomness I found in my garage...

Here is a toast to longevity, girls. You both look just as beautiful today as you did all those years ago.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Put on your shorts and tank tops, girls, 'cause were getting a Christmas tree

By the time we made it out of the house, though, we actually needed to put on our sweatshirts, as it was a chilly 62 degrees outside. Yes, Virginia, we really do live in Texas now. It's different, and different can be good. But when different messes with a long held tradition...well, it takes time to adjust.

Every Christmas ever since my girls can remember, come rain or come rain, we would drive a few minutes from our house to one of the many local tree farms, trudge through the muck, hunt and cut down the perfect Christmas tree. Depending on the quality of the trees, we would either choose a Douglas fir (the Oregon state tree) or a Grand fir (my favorite because it looks like a wild Noble fir, but it has a strong and sweet evergreen scent).

This year, we drove a few minutes to the Home D-place and trudged through the chain link gate in order to pick out the perfect tree. Of course, since we didn't want to spend a ton of money, we had to walk to the very back of the store where the 25$ trees were. And it was a little difficult to find the perfect tree since almost all of the trees were still bundled in twine - fresh off the truck. Lucky for us, the cheap trees were none other than Douglas firs. And, bonus - miracle of all miracles, we noticed that the very Home D-place way over here in Texas imported our perfect tree from this place:

Poetroad and I couldn't believe it! We can't be in Oregon for Christmas, but we can bring a piece of Oregon home with us. Trees: another one of the best parts of Oregon.

Saturday, December 08, 2007


ok, then; I see
how you are and am unmoved
except I wrote this

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Warning Signs

I suspected the eventuality of it all - I just didn't think it would be so soon. First, we get a little bit of attitude, and before we know it, there is outright rebellion. Should have saw it coming. Finding ways to cut corners, not quite stopping when asked - these were clear warning signs. Then a light clicked on - I realized it was time for a check up. Of course there was nothing inherently wrong, I was told. Typical age appropriate behavior.

But that was before the authorities got involved.

We were driving down the parkway going the flow of traffic, but our little red mini-van, thinking she knew better, just wouldn't listen to reason. She pushed the limit and got pulled over. I tried to talk to the officer, to no avail. She was going sixteen miles per hour over the speed limit! There will be a hefty fine for that ticket too; luckily, if *I* go to traffic school, we can get the fine reduced significantly.

After getting the ticket, I thought she would have learned her lesson, our little mini-van. Poetroad took her out not long after the ticket, and wouldn't you know it - she got another one! This time a parking violation. So I guess her lesson wasn't learned after all. Perhaps if she was the one who had to attend traffic school then our problem would be addressed.

And the light that went off before - it won't turn off. We will have to take her to the specialist at the dealership. Rough times ahead.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Hammered in Oregon

No - this is not a commentary on a favored pastime of Oregonians (although there are some mighty fine spirits made - and consumed - in the Northwest).

Actually, a fairly significant storm hammered Oregon and Washington yesterday. I-5, the major (and only) interstate between Seattle and Portland is closed. Basically, anyone who wants to travel from Seattle to Portland will have to drive east to the Dalles, head up north past Yakima to Ellensburg, and then cut back west across the mountains on I-90. In the best of conditions, that drive would take an extra three hours to trek. Add snow - and traffic - to the mix, and were talking a seven or eight hour drive to get to Seattle from P-town. Holiday travelers, you'd better start driving.

To make matters worse, this latest storm that pummeled the Oregon coast - which was the strongest storm of three consecutive blasts that hit the area over the weekend and early this week - virtually cut off transportation between the valley and the coast. Only recently was highway 20 between Corvallis and Newport opened, which is the main route to the closest major hospital for area coastal residents.

My 80 year old grandma lives in Seal Rock (located about 10 miles south of Newport), and her power has been out since yesterday. Luckily, I have an aunt and uncle that live nearby there, and they were able to transport her to their house. Thankfully, my aunt and uncle have a wood stove and generator supplied electricity.

I haven't heard from the rest of my family - although I chatted with my dad for a bit yesterday afternoon. He said that in the morning the creek behind their house seemed to be at normal levels, but he wouldn't be surprised if the water was up over the road by the time he got home from work (yeah, did I mention that he is back to work already after having a hip replacement no less than two months ago?). Anyway, high water means flooding at my brother's house. I'm not really worried about my parent's home - even in the big flood of 1996, the water only came within a foot to the back door. But where my brother lives down the road - that house was under two feet of water in 1996.

Hopefully, all of the wind and water damage will not affect my parent's flight next Monday. They are coming to Texas next week! Yay!

This kind of sounds like a news report, eh? I need a byline perhaps? Okay, then. Reporting from Texas, this is J@na.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Art for School Sake

This past week, I volunteered to help with door decorations at JG and KJ's elementary school. For the past few years, the PTO has utilized the "Candy Land" theme, and every grade is responsible for door decorations that reflect the given theme. The school is decorated from top to bottom. Seriously. They go all out for this school wide project. It's like nothing I've experienced at any other school my children have attended.

I decided to volunteer to help JG's class with the "Mr. Minty" theme as there didn't seem to be many people jumping at the chance to work on the Kindergarten door. Two other moms from the class and I tackled the project together, and we had a blast. Mostly because all three of us were willing to go with the flow on this project, and that fact makes anything I create turn out better than expected.

I know you don't want to read all the boring details, but I'm including them anyway.

I ended up water coloring (using water color pencils) Mr. Minty's face, and we made the body out of paper and striped wrapping paper. We also put each child's face on the tummy of a die cut paper gingerbread man ("Misty's" cool idea) and placed those randomly on the door. "Kelsey" cut out candy canes for the "Candy Cane Forest" and worked on the "required" big gingerbread man that must be on every door. Because we didn't "focus on the gingerbread man" as instructed (guess which one us us encouraged non-conformity?), our door isn't quite mainstream, and that is why it turned out so great. I'll have to take a picture of the finished product and post it here.

We also were assigned another door: Art - which turned into a two door project, as there are two art rooms. Actually, another class was supposed to do the other door, but they liked what we did so much that they delegated the entire task to us, lol. It was a challenge. How does one creatively approach "Grandma Nut"? For this door, I threw out some ideas, and the other two ladies ran with it. The Grandma Nut project turned out even better than our first door! While I worked on the gingerbread interpretation of grandma (okay, I caved and incorporated the required gingerbread element more directly), the other two made nuts and vines.

While we were working on the nut project today, I somehow was volunteered or agreed to draw a resemblance of the principal's dog (a very cute Sir Charles Spaniel). That was a stretch for me. I'm kind of (freakishly) a perfectionist about what I draw/paint when the finished project is supposed to look like something. Someone provided a few photos of the dog, and I drew it with my watercolor pencils. More than anything, I was anxious about the fact that (a.) there was a time factor involved (I had the youngest with me, and she is very patient - but I could work on a drawing for hours and hours if left to my own devices), and (b.) I didn't have the right type of paper for the pencils I was using. Plus, the whole idea of using watercolor pencils is that one should actually use water to blend the colors, which I did not (refer to reason "b"). Then they wanted me to sign it and all, and I wouldn't because I didn't want everyone to know who did the drawing (particularly, I didn't want any *real* artists to know, lol).

Anyway, I've forgotten how much creating art energizes me. I am not a trained visual artist, by and stretch of the imagination, but I really like to draw and paint. More importantly, this whole experience helped me understand my mom a little bit better. She is one of the most talented artists I know, but she never did anything with art because she has not even an ounce of self confidence. Ugh. Today, I was my mother!!! Freakishly so. Perhaps creating visual art is one more talent that I restrain because I fear failure (just as I do with my writing). In my mind, I already know that I can't compete with the best, so I don't even want to try.

Interestingly enough, a few months ago, I had a "what do you want to be when you grow up" conversation with Poetroad. Out of nowhere, I replied, "A visual artist." He was a little caught off guard by that and said, "Really. Hmm, well I guess you had better start producing some art, and we will see how that works out. Maybe you can take some classes or something." He wasn't being unkind, but his surprised response was similar to one that I had when a 5 foot tall chubby boy who didn't play on a school or club team told me that his aspiration was to be a professional basketball player. I've got a plan, though. I'm going to start working on Artist Trading Cards. I figure it will give me a creative outlet and a chance to develop my skills.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

More finger news

Great news - I talked with Saul today, and Tia did really well when they re-attached her finger. They will find out tomorrow when they visit a hand surgeon whether or not the reattached finger will survive. Luckily, she only lost the tip (right below the fingernail) of her middle finger (not sure if it was the right or left hand).

Saul (being a top chef for a prominent frozen food company; his dishes are delicious - not at all like the typical frozen food fare) confessed that he is used to finding random fingers in the workplace - ah, that's the food industry for you. But he said he was falling to pieces when he saw the finger chopped off of his cute little daughter's hand.

Get this - the culprit was none other than...a toy box. So scary! When they returned from the hospital last night, Tia told her dad, "Get rid of that toy box right now, Daddy! Smash it to pieces!" Which he promptly did with an ax in the back yard as she cheered him on. He is a great dad!

Saturday, December 01, 2007

I am a terrible, terrible person.

As if my last little story had not already swayed you to that reality, this story will show you how truly terrible I am.

Rushing, rushing, rushing around. That is how every day begins in my house. And such was the case yesterday morning too - even though it was a Saturday. So after the eating of the breakfast and the taking of a jog and the showering and the dressing and the getting the two older children ready to go shopping, I headed out the door. Only to return two hours later in a rush because child two had to sing in a concert that afternoon. Poetroad rushed out the door with her, and I gathered together the stuff we needed for a project we were working on at the church later that day.

So I rushed out the door, hastily plopped the two younger kids in their car seats, buckled them in - all the while hearing sirens in the distance getting louder and louder as if they were nearing our street.

In the back of my mind, I knew instinctively (as any idiot would when she hears sirens drawing nigh) that something wasn't quite right. Then I saw my neighbor, "Saul", in his front yard sobbing and holding a telephone.

"Saul, what's wrong? Is everything okay?" I asked as I rushed over to him.

"It's Tia! It's Tia. [Saul and Gwen's four year old daughter, their only child] She cut her finger off."

She cut her finger off! Not "cut her finger." Cut it OFF!

I could tell that Saul was in shock. His face was panic stricken. I put my arm around his shoulder and asked, "Is it on ice?"


"It will be okay, Saul. They reattach fingers all the time. They'll take care of Tia."

I saw the officer cautiously pull onto our street as if he were looking for the correct house. I waved him down and introduced Saul to the officer. The officer took over my job with Saul. Then the fire truck drove up. It blocked my entire driveway.

Knowing that our daughter number two was now beginning her concert - and that Poetroad had asked me to bring some equipment to the concert which led me to believe that he needed it for the concert - I felt an urgency to get to my destination. I told the officer that I couldn't stay. He said that they would take it from there.

Then I looked at the fire engine blocking my driveway - and the three paramedic/firefighters piling out of the engine in a rush to help little Tia. I was thinking, "Did you have to block my driveway?" but I said, again, "I'm sorry, but I need to leave." The firefighters looked at me as if trying to figure out who I was and what I wanted, but they quickly ignored me and went on to do their job.

Here is the thing. Here is what makes me so terrible: I actually - for more than a split second - wanted one of the three firefighters to stop what he was doing, go back, and move the truck.

Thankfully, the officer, not sensing my selfishness, said in his gentle Texan drawl, "That's alright Miss. You go right along. We'll take it from here."

So I waved and got into my car. I felt like an idiot. Here this little girl could be dying for all I know. Loosing quarts of blood. I had no idea how bad the injury was, and all I could think about was where I needed to be and who was in my way.

God help me!

The irony is that this is the very "suburban" attitude we (Poetroad and I - and others) are fighting to change in our homes and churches and neighborhoods and in America and in the world. Self-centeredness rots. Change my attitude, Holy Spirit.

It was a great reminder that I cannot judge others. Just when I think I've got this Christ thing figured out, the ugly truth of my nature is revealed. I am still just a seeker.

I sat in my car wondering how I would exit graciously. Then I remembered that I drive a big rig and, in Texas, would have no problem driving across my lawn. So I did. It was a tight squeeze that I had to negotiate when driving between the firetruck and the neighbor's truck parked across the street, but I managed to skillfully squeeze through without leaving a scratch on any vehicle.

Still, I felt guilty the moment I left. If I had stayed, could I have made a difference? Gwen is a nurse, so I'm sure she had everything under control with Tia. I'm not sure that I could have done anything with my two little ones there either. Who knows what kind of god awful condition Tia was in, and she is a buddy of my two little ones. I couldn't have exposed them to that.

Today I'll go check on my neighbors. I'll do whatever I can to help them through the post-trauma. What I'm sure they'll need is encouragement and prayers (which is all I know to give in a situation like this one).

Kind of a Crappy Morning

Actually, the night before wasn't that great, and that is what ushered in yesterday's crappy morning. Sometime around 3:00 AM on Friday, JG - the 6 year old - crawled into bed.

Let me interject that as a mom of four, it is not unusual for a kid or two to wander into our bed in the middle of the night. Sure, my sleep is disrupted, but I sympathize because I remember having vivid nightmares as a kid that sent me running and screaming all the way to my mom and dad's room. Typically when one of our kids wants some cuddles, I move to the middle of the bed and lay there until daylight like a mummy entombed by people might.

So I lay there still and silent like any mummy would, and then the littlest daughter wandered into our room. Now there were four people in our bed. After about an hour of me rolling around the bed, repositioning the children, and trying to find a slice of space, I finally gave up and went to sleep on the couch.

Of course, Poetroad slept through the whole thing.

The alarming part of the story is what I discovered in our bed the next morning...

Something brown and squishy that leaves skid marks. Go ahead - take your best guess. The worse part about the discovery was that the skid marks and the deposit were in the very spot I was rolling around in during the wee hours of the morning.

Of course, I did what any parent would in this situation: I totally freaked out.

And I went on a mission to root out (and possibly clean up) the offender. I was certain that it came from our three year old as she is the only one potty training in our house. I checked her pants - nothing. Then I checked the other of the two little bed-mates - not even a hint of brownness.

I didn't even want to venture there with Poetroad; besides, he was still asleep. Instead I looked in the toilet - ah ha, a piece of brown-streaked toilet paper. Who used our toilet in the middle of the night? It wasn't me, so that left only one other possibility in my mind.

Still, I wondered if possibly a nugget could have fallen from our three year old's pants. Could her pull-up have pulled to the side in her sleep? Did she somehow miraculously mess her pants and clean up the evidence herself? No - couldn't be. So, again, that narrowed it down to Poetroad.

When he woke up - all the while I was frantically packing lunches, serving breakfast, and managing the normal morning chaos - I blurted out, "You pooped the bed."

"What?!" he sleepily questioned.

"There is poop in the bed. The girls didn't do it. I didn't do it. A dingle ball must have fell off when you were sleeping."

"No. No! What are you talking about?"

"I cleaned up poop from our bed this morning. None of us did it. It must have been you," I accused. "You must have went poop in the middle of the night and not wiped very well."

"Uh, no. I think I would know if I pooped in the middle of the night."

"Uh, apparently you would not know."

Quietly and obviously annoyed with me, he went back into the room. Only to come out moments later to declare, "That's not poop. That's chocolate. Who ate chocolate in the bed last night?"

"Oooops. We did. Sorry. You should have seen the log, though. Melted and squished peanut M&Ms really look like a nugget of poo. Nevermind then. Apologies all around."

And that was that.