Tuesday, December 30, 2008

I'm Hired and Surprised All On The Same Day

After three long weeks, and after giving up entirely on the job at the casino coming through for me, I got a call this morning that they're offering me the restaurant hostess job I interviewed for.

I was told I had to come to the casino by 3pm today to sign a contingency letter to begin the hiring process. I wasn't sure why they were so insistent I do it today, but I was excited and eagerly drove over to do it.

When I got there the lady told me this was actually for the drug test, but that they don't tell people that, because some people won't show up, or will want to reschedule for a more "convenient" day.

Well, they sure fooled me! As long as they don't test for high levels of chocolate, I should be okay.

So the process begins...I have more hoops to jump through for them next week, and then some training, but hey, I'm on my way to a second paycheck again. Hurray!

Notes on Christmas

December 23, Christmas Light Excursion
We always go to a certain neighborhood when we visit my dad at Christmas time that's known for it's awesome light display. This year we found a couple new spots too. My new favorite thing is lights synchronized to music.

To me, looking at Christmas lights is the thing that really gets me into the spirit of Christmas. I absolutely love it. I am a cheap Christmas date, for sure-show me some lights and I'm good!

Christmas Eve, celebrate with Aunt and Uncle and Grandpa
I bought a gingerbread cookie kit for the kids since I never had time to bake this year. This also kept them busy while waiting for Aunt Tracy and Uncle Dave to come visit and spoil them all.

Let the spoiling begin!

Christmas morning at home

The big kids' dad came and spent Christmas morning with us. It was really, really nice, and a small Christmas miracle.

Here's a happy kid that got just what she wanted

and here's one that almost got thrown out with the trash

and who knew my son would still want (and enjoy) Legos at age 21? Nat enjoys them too, and here she and Bub build their Legos together.

I "conveniently" had my purse stolen right before Christmas giving the kids inspiration for my gift (a new wallet and purse). See how accommodating I am?

But the best gift of all was just having all my babies under one roof and enjoying each other's company. Moms are easy to please that way.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Articles of Faith Challenge

On Saturday, the Primary president had a small get-together of the kids who are working to get their Articles of Faith memorized by the end of the year so that they can receive their special certificates. Nat and Shel were there earnestly trying to get the last of their's checked off.

The Bishop of the church showed up, because he too wanted to accept the challenge of memorizing all 13 of these basic points of belief of the LDS church (and be a good example to the kids of course). He sat at the table surrounded by little girls and diligently worked on reciting them to the Primary president.

Nat looked up at him and noticed his Blue tooth headset on his ear, and asked him what it was. Before he could explain, she asked him if it was telling him the words. We all had a good laugh over that---the thought of the Bishop having someone on the line feeding him the answers!

The Articles of Faith are not easy to memorize (although thankfully there are songs that make it easier) and the Bishop left still having #13 (by far the most wordy) to work on. About an hour later, we received a call from him however, and over speaker phone, he was able to pass off this last one. The kids were proud of him.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Sick Kid, Warm Dog

Nat has the creeping crud, so I left her home with Sis while Shel and I went to church this morning.

This is the scene as I left--Nat using our "ferocious" pit bull Suey as a lounge while watching tv. Thank goodness for tolerant, cuddly dogs!

The Gift of Music

Two years ago Cam and his dad went around "caroling" as a trumpet and trombone duet. Here they are in front of our house playing Carol of the Bells, which has since become my all time favorite Christmas carol.

Being able to play music and share that gift with others is so incredible (spoken by someone who wishes she had that gift). This really made my Christmas in 2006.

Carol of the Bells-Cam on Trumpet

Friday, December 19, 2008

One Less Job, One Less Paycheck

Well I'm partially unemployed as of today. It was my last day at the printing place. I seriously counted down the days (only 8 more days...only 3 more days, 1 more day to go...).

I have been a printer before. Right out of high school I started at PIP printing running a press and put myself through college with that job. Then I worked at this current printing company some 9 years ago, again running a press.

I know the printing business is stressful. There's always a deadline and there's always a machine that seems to want to work against you making that deadline, but it was something I knew and was ok with, until I came back to work at said printing place. Now I know that I really don't ever need to revisit the printing business as a viable job option again. Ever. If I even think about it slap some sense into me, seriously.

This time when I came back to the printing place, they had gotten rid of the offset press, so I was their Jill of all trades so to speak. They just put me where they needed me. Then I learned that things had gone down hill a bit in the management area, and there was a lot of yelling and blaming and tense feelings as well as very little training.

I thought it was just me, until a gal that's worked there for 12 years confided in me that she planned on working 2 more years until she was of retirement age, but because things had gotten so bad at the shop she wasn't sure she would make it that long.

It was such a relief to walk out today and know I didn't have to come back. But then it was scary because I need a second job still (my restaurant job is only Friday and Saturday nights plus a few events per month). I'm learning that the job market is very competitive right now, even for part-time no-benefit minimum-wage type jobs.

So should I have stuck it out until I had another job? Probably, but already my attitude is uplifted and the stress has melted from my shoulders. What price sanity and happiness? I guess I'll find out!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

A Poetic Masterpiece?

This week has been crazy. I've felt like I'm on a treadmill and someone keeps increasing the speed. I've been filling out job applications and updating my resume and bothering people to write me letters of reference all in my search for another job (I gave my 2 weeks notice at the printing job on Monday. I figured I didn't need to be working at a place that made me want to kill myself. Yeah, that's just NOT good.)

So on Wednesday night, after doing my day job and returning at 10pm from my restaurant job, I'm sitting at the computer writing my resume, when Sis informs me that if I'm going to do a senior ad for her in the yearbook, the deadline is the following day. Whoops! I know she really wants me to do this for her, she's been pretty blatant about letting me know, and leaving the form in a convenient spot for me, but in my busy-ness, I had forgotten about it.

So here it is, after 11pm, I am beat, I've got tons of things still to do, but I want to make sure this gets done tonight. I search for inspiration on the internet, and not finding anything that sounds just right, I decide to compose a poem on my own. I really must have been delirious, because I just don't DO poetry.

I start typing stuff out, and finding rhyming words, and before I know it, I'm getting all sappy and sentimental and even tearing up a bit. It's about midnight when I finally finish it. I put my poetic masterpiece in a sealed envelope along with the requisite form and money for Sis to take to school the next day. I give myself a hearty pat on the back and I'm off to bed.

Well the next day after work, I start thinking about this poem and go back and re-read it. It is seriously heavy on the sap...and a little dorky sounding...and well, to be honest it sounds like I was drunk when I wrote it (keeping in mind that I don't drink). Sis is pretty hard to embarrass, but this may actually do it.

I can't print it here and ruin the "surprise", but Sis may come to regret pushing me to do a senior ad for her!

Note to self: Writing poetry at midnight, when it's not your strong suit to begin with, is a BAD IDEA.

Thursday, December 11, 2008


Tonight Shelby was involved in a school music concert. Mike and the girls arrived before me and I arrived with a few minutes to spare. I had to park way out on the street, and I tossed my purse on the floor board because I knew I wouldn't need it, then locked my car and hurriedly walked to the auditorium.

Well, this is what I found after the program was over:

A jagged hole where my passenger window used to be, and a missing purse. Dang it! I felt so dumb! I don't think my purse would've been noticeable had I not parked right under a street light. It was really unexpected, as I've never had anything like this happen in our close-knit little community.

Nat and Shel were totally freaked out and started crying. They definitely took it harder than I did.

After the sheriff arrived and took a report, I drove home and immediately canceled my credit and debit cards. My credit card had already been used, but they charged only $1. The credit card lady said it was probably a "test charge" to see if the card was good. Weird. I called the sheriff and told him when and where the card had been used, and maybe that information will prove useful.

Luckily I only had $5 in my wallet and had just deposited the checks that were in my purse. I will notify the bank tomorrow, and am racking my brain to think of what else I may need to be concerned about that was in my purse.

Scrooged! Someone's getting coal in their stocking this year for sure!

Special Visitors

Cam and Cass drove up for the day yesterday to visit. I was able to leave work at noon and they treated me to a picnic at the park.

Then we strolled through town for a little window shopping. Really fun! I love hanging out with these two. They're adorable together.

Shel, and especially Nat look at their brother like he's a rock star. They just adore him and can't get enough of being near him. It's very sweet.

Sis and her boyfriend arrived after school. We happened to have some melty beads out and wouldn't you know all 6 of these "kids" started making things with beads, then Cam got out some Legos, to add to the fun.

I got a kick out of seeing them all "playing together". It kind of reminded me of doing daycare!

But it was also really cool to get a feel for how it might be in years to come when I have a daughter or son-in-law. I could really get used to that!

We'll get to have more fun with Cam and Cass in a couple weeks at Chritmas. I can't wait!

Saturday, December 6, 2008


Wow! I got to see the likes of Rachel Brice, Zoe Jakes and Ariellah dance tonight. It was fantastic. A different style of bellydance than I practice, but fantastic just the same. A lot of the music was very industrial, I guess you'd say. Lots of clanking and such. The dancing consisted of a lot of locking and snakey movements. Very different, but very inspiring. I think I have a new tribal fusion favorite:

Zoe Jakes

She's just oozing personality and talent. What a treat it was to see her perform.

The cool thing was the performance was fairly local, so nearly all the dancers in our area showed up. As we waited for the performance to start, I made the rounds saying hello, and catching up with women I haven't seen in a while.

It stuck me, that it really wasn't that long ago that I was at a local event seeing a troupe of belly dancers perform, and I was just so in awe of them. I thought at the time how cool it would be to learn belly dance, and now here I am a part of the local belly dance community, and friends with those same women who inspired me not so many years ago.

Wow. Funny what you can accomplish when you set your mind to it. Inspiring indeed.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

There's No Such Thing As Too Much Thankfulness Or Too Much Turkey, Right?

Ok, here I go being all thankful again, because it beats being all poopy like I have been (but seriously this is not my favorite time of year -- I hate the pressure of Christmas and I don't like the short days and dark, cold nights...but I digress, oops!)

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving visiting my dad, my sister and my brother-in-law. Mike did all the cooking as usual, and I did the last minute cranberry sauce (or rolls, or butter, or turkey baster) run to the grocery store just hours before the big meal, as usual.

So in honor of Thanksgiving here's a few more things I'm thankful about:

My dad for generously helping me out with Christmas and for refraining from telling me that I seriously need to get my life together one of these years, 'cause I'm 44, for Pete's sake.

Getting to hang out with my incredibly grown up son and his incredibly gorgeous and sweet girlfriend (who totally knows how to tease Mike).

Turkey, seriously I can't get enough of left-over sandwiches.

The weather on Thanksgiving day for being so warm and sunny and nice! Phooey on all you crisp fall day people!

Having 2 1/2 days off of work. Sheer bliss!

Shopping at the mall with my girls (and dare I say I'm thankful for Mrs. Field's and her tasty cookies?)

My dog, because she's so easy to take with us. (Plus also Petsmart, because it's fun to have a place to take the dog shopping too.)

I call this photo "Dogouflage"

Getting to spend time with my sister. and how sweet she is with the girls.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Thankfulness, I Has It

Since I've been such a Negative Nellie and had such a craptastic attitude lately, I thought I would post some of the things I'm thankful for, (being as Thanksgiving is nigh) and get myself out of my funk.

By the way, Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays (Halloween being first). What's not to love? A day that is nationally dedicated to getting families together to share a meal in the spirit of gratefulness. It can get pricey, but it doesn't have to be. There's no pressure to purchase gifts, not a lot of commercialness, and it involves wonderful food. I love it and I have so many fond memories of family gatherings at Thanksgiving.

I thought I would list some of the more obscure things I'm thankful for. Of course I'm thankful for the obvious ones too: family, friends, a home, a job, a car.

So here's my thankfulness list of things that I'm thankful for that are a bit different:

Car heaters, and cranking up the heat until it's like a rolling sauna. Even better if the sun is beaming in through the window. Because I'm always cold, this is a special treat for me, but no one else can stand it, so I can only do it when I'm alone.

Fuse beads (you place these little plastic beads on templates and then iron them and they fuse into a solid design) because they will keep my girls occupied for a good 2 hours straight.

Digital cameras. Seriously, they're magic.

My pets. They bring me so much joy, and they each have their own gentle soul. They teach us the basics of love. Plus they are four legged weather gauges. My little cat Mouse just came in and I reached down to pet her and realized it must have started to rain as the weather man predicted. Good job Mouse!

Glasses (the wearing kind, not the drinking kind). 'Nuff said.

Laughing fits. I love it when I'm with someone (especially my kids) and something funny happens and we laugh until our cheeks hurt and I end up snorting and actually crying which makes it even that much funnier, and then we forget what started us laughing in the first place because the actual laughing is so hilarious and contagious. Wow, I love that!

Days when I'm cozy in bed and having the alarm wake me up and then realizing that it's my day off and I can snuggle down and sleep as long as I want.

M&M's, especially if they're melty...mmmmm....

Calculators (math is NOT my strong suit!)

Minor daily miracles, like choosing to keep my mouth shut and realizing later I would've said something really stupid, or just by chance being in the right place at the right time, or having everything fall into place just like I planned, and like today's minor miracle: my son called and said he finally found a job (after about 2 months of searching), but that's not the miracle really, the miracle is that he got a job at Godiva Chocolates! I am one proud mama, let me tell you! And I've decided that I will have to visit him much more frequently now...when he's at work...and when there's free samples available...and maybe he'll give me the rejects that get dropped on the floor or that someone sneezes on...(ok I'm not really THAT bad...), but how cool is that?!

Have a very plentiful, wonderful, grateful Thanksgiving everyone!

Monday, November 24, 2008

I Hate Money, It's the Root of All Stress

I thought I was doing ok with all this so-called "down-sizing" and losing our house and everything. Until Sis came home tonight and told me she needed $125 for soccer. Then all this money stress we've been going through came up and hit me smack in the face. I don't have it. I don't know when I'll have it. She may as well asked me for a million dollars at this stage of the game.

Then I went in the bedroom and cried for 15 minutes. Because I can't afford to pay for all the stuff my kids need, and because we lost our flippin' house, and because I have 2 jobs that pay crappy wages, and because Christmas is coming, and I think I officially hate Christmas now. What kind of attitude is that?

Lots of deep breathing followed this pity party, and nothing really changed. I just have to keep pulling myself up by the bootstraps and plug along, and hopefully, hopefully things will get better.

Sigh....money stinks.

Feeding Time !

Nat was feeding the guinea pigs carrots while they sat in her lap today.

Suey would like to be in Nat's lap too, feeding on the guinea pigs!

She's showing great restraint, but never takes her eyes off of them. She's come a long way since we first got them though! Can you say "obsessed"?

We certainly never take our eyes off her when the guinea pigs are out, but she is a really good girl.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The Bridge is OK

One of the speakers at church today was relating a time when she listened to the Holy Ghost, and hastily left the bay area without making the stops they had planned. This particular day she was waiting for her husband in the car and said she kept watching the clock and something kept telling her they needed to leave right away.

The time was about 4:45 when he returned and she urged him to just get them home. She said they ended up going over a different bridge instead of over the Bay Bridge. This was October 17, 1989, the day the Loma Prieta quake hit the bay area at 5:04pm.

When she got home her neighbor tearfully told her that the Bay Bridge had "fallen down". Had she made a stop or gone the other route she would've been on the Bay Bridge at the fateful time of the big earthquake of 1989.

My girls, at the time this lady was speaking, were busily making paper boats out of Sacrament programs and putting their little plastic animals in them, but as soon as the speaker had said that the Bay Bridge had fallen down, Nat's face fell and she looked up at me on the verge of tears. She said, "You mean we can't visit Cam anymore?" I had to explain to her that this event happened many years ago and that they fixed the bridge and made it stronger so it wouldn't happen again.

Nat was very relieved to hear that! It was funny that I didn't even think she was listening, but she did hear that part and made the connection. It was just really sweet to see the concern she had for her brother. I hope that maybe she absorbed some of the lesson of listening to promptings as well.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

A Nature Walk Of Sorts

The girls were so cute today, they wanted to take the guinea pigs for a walk. They searched for something they could transport them in and finally found a basket for each.

Away we went with the dog and two baskets of pigs for a walk around the block.

The first thing we saw was an acorn woodpecker (I looked it up-and even found a picture).

He was on a telephone pole and the pole was just riddled with holes. In each of these holes was an acorn and the woodpecker was busily pounding another into a hole. It was pretty darned cool.

Then we met an older couple walking their dog. Nat asked them if they wanted to see the guinea pigs (she's famous for striking up conversations with people-just like her dad). The lady made a big fuss over them and I could tell she got a kick out of the girls and their little pets.

I think the guineas liked their little walk too. The girls sure love those two little rodents. They're very lucky critters in my opinion (plus they are super cute and very gentle, what's not to love).

A Hunting I Will Go

I've been job hunting recently. The job at the printing shop is driving me crazy. Two things about it in fact:

1. There's not much interaction with others. We each go to our respective area or machine and put our shoulders to the wheel until time's up. (oh and there are no windows so it's a bit depressing).

2. The boss' assistant who thinks she needs to micro-manage everyone and everything to feel important, including a press man who's been printing for 20 years. Everyone kind of cringes when she comes to the back of the shop. Usually she goes on a rant that wastes everyone's time but changes nothing. Grrrr.

I knew this job would be fairly temporary being that there's really no prospect of advancement and there are no benefits, but I was hoping I'd be able to stick with it longer than this. Oh well, lesson learned.

I applied to our local hospital for a patient registration position and interviewed on Tuesday. I didn't get the position, however. The lady that interviewed me said I did well and she encouraged me to apply again because she's expecting another position to open up. She also said she had 25 applicants and usually when she has an opening she has about 4 or 5 applicants. Apparently there are a lot of folks looking for work right now.

So yesterday I applied at our local Starbucks (did you know they offer benefits? I guess that's why their drinks are so expensive). I was a bit surprised when I came across this question: "What do you like most about coffee?" Well, since I don't drink it (or anything containing caffeine) and the few times I've tasted it I was appalled by the bitter, nasty taste, I thought quick and wrote, "The aroma". And it's not even a lie. I do indeed love the smell of it. I don't think I'm required to drink the stuff to work there, right?

Well, here's hoping something comes up soon that is a little more, um..., tolerable and decaffeinated.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

How I Was Taught Empathy

I remember getting a stuffed animal for Christmas one year when I was probably 6ish. It was a beige dog that looked as if it were sleeping. For some reason I wasn't that thrilled with this little dog. It's head was a little floppy, and since it was sleeping, it didn't really lead to a lot of imaginative play.

My sister and I would usually get identical gifts when we were younger, but my sister seemed to like her floppy sleeping pup. When she caught on that I didn't really like mine, she taught me something I'll never forget.

That something was that even inanimate objects have feelings too.

My sister laid a guilt trip on me so thick about how this little dog was so sad that I didn't love it, and how all it wanted was some attention. The poor thing was just thrown aside and neglected and now it's feelings were deeply hurt. It couldn't help it if it was made sleeping and floppy, but it deserved to be loved just the same.

Well, I felt horrible after that! Who wouldn't? So I named this little dog "Puppy" (I was original with names like that) and slept with that stuffed animal for at least the next 6 years. That soft little animal was loved and cherished like no other because I felt so bad about how I had treated it at the beginning.

That was really typical of my sister. She has always felt bad for the spiders that get squashed to the flowers that get plucked. Everything has feelings and a soul to her. Her unique perspective has led her to do dog rescue and fostering, and to being a strict vegetarian.

Last year I came across a Dr Seuss book called What Was I Scared Of. I fell in love with it at first read. It reminded me so much of my sister that I had to get her a copy too.

This is one of Dr Seuss' books that's not that well known. It's about a dude (for lack of a better word for the Seuss character) who is just going about his business when he gets spooked by some "pale green pants with nobody inside them". It seems these pants are kind of stalking him when he's just going about his errands, and it's becoming more and more unnerving to him, so much so that he hides in a brickle bush for 2 nights straight.

The next thing you know this guy has to go to a gloomy field and pick a peck of snide, "then I reached inside a snide bush, and the next that I knew, I felt my hand touch someone, and I bet that you know who". And then there's my favorite line, "and there I was caught in the snide,
and in that dreadful place, those spooky empty pants and I were standing face to face".

And finally after much screaming and shrieking on the dude's part, this happens, "but then a strange thing happened, why those pants began to cry, those pants began to tremble, they were just as scared as I" because, "...I was just as strange to them, as they were strange to me."

Then the best part (the part that channels my sister), "I put my arm around their waist, and sat right down beside them. I calmed them down, poor empty pants with nobody inside them." Gosh, I really felt for those pants! It's hard to make friends when you're just a pair of pale green pants with nobody inside you!

It all ends happily with the Seuss-dude and the empty pants smiling and being friendly whenever they cross each other's paths after that.

Thanks, Big Sis for teaching me empathy. Stuffed puppies, empty pants, spiders, I've never seen them the same way since.

Saturday, November 15, 2008


We're trying to get the last of the stuff out of the old house and down here to the new house this weekend.

There was no push to get out of the old house so we've been kind of dragging our feet. Ya know sometimes when you move and you have to be out of your old place and into your new one in a weekend? Well, we didn't have that pressure to get it done, and I was glad, but now I'm thinking it would've been better to have been motivated to do it all at once, because now it's getting to be a drag.

There are some adjustments going from about 1800 square feet of living space to 1050 square feet. Especially when the kitchen is MUCH smaller. Luckily we have a large garage off the kitchen which is becoming the kitchen storage overflow with the use of a bookshelf and a cabinet (that there wasn't any room for inside the house anyway).

The other adjustment has been the master bedroom closet. I had an entire closet to myself at the other house and about half of it was filled with bellydance costuming, so now Mike and I are fighting for what little space there is and trying to figure out a creative solution (that doesn't look hokey. Sorry Mike!)

We now live on a street with a sidewalk, and we have an actual mailbox in front. We've had a post office box for the last 20 years, so this is really weird. It took me a few days to remember to even check it.

And now that I'm within walking distance of one of my jobs (my Monday through Friday gig) I have been late twice! How embarrassing is that? I know it only takes a couple of minutes to get there so I end up just doing that one more thing that makes me late by a minute or two. We always have a production meeting first thing so I can't even sneak in and get away with no one noticing. In fact the boss loves to greet late-comers with, "Good afternoon!"

I hoping the adjustment period is near it's end and that I'll feel completely settled soon. Now for more unpacking....

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Pigs In Love

If you are interested in owning a guinea pig, please check out these sites FIRST and read up on their care http://www.cavyspirit.com/ and http://www.guinealynx.info/ .

Well, because I didn't have enough going on what with moving, working two jobs, taking care of my kids, going to visit Kathy in San Francisco, etc. I decided we needed to adopt another guinea pig in the middle of it all.

I've been looking for a companion for Moe, our guinea pig, since I read up on them and found out that they are used to living in herds and are happier having a friend. Far be it from me to deprive my pet of happiness, so I started trying to find another pig.

Well, a lady at church said they had a guinea pig that she wanted to find a home for because her daughter didn't pay any attention to it anymore. She said they moved it out into the barn so at least it could be around the rabbits (that they raise for 4H) for company. That did it for me, because when I was reading about guineas it also said they shouldn't be kept in cold, drafty places, and I couldn't stand the thought of this poor pig out in a barn.

So we had the Great Guinea Pig Rescue on the Sunday after the big move.

When we went to go get this little piggy, we found her in an open barn in a metal rabbit cage (my reading told me GP's also shouldn't be kept in that kind of cage, because unlike rabbits, it will deform their feet). She was just a sweetheart from the moment she was handed over to us.

Needless to say, Moe was very happy to have a companion and the newly re-named Guinea Girl Gidget was happy to have a warm cage and lots of fresh veggies. We also soon found out what the guinea pig mating call sounds like! (Kind of like a load purr).

I didn't want to get a female, because it's not my intention to have guinea babies, let alone contribute to the pet population when there are so many that need homes already, but the former owners said that this guinea pig had babies a few years ago and then they tried to breed her a couple other times and nothing happened. Here's hoping we have an infertile pig. (Especially since I priced guinea pig neutering and it runs around $200!)

We sure love little Gidget. She loves to be held, and since her arrival, a formerly shy and hard to catch Moe has gotten very social as well (he'd rather be held and be with his girl than to be left in the cage by himself).

Last Sunday the girls held a wedding for Moe and Gidget, complete with formal attire

and Nat's hamster Otis officiating.

The happy couple then enjoyed a lovely wedding banquet.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Long Lost Pen Pals, at Long Last Reunite

In the summer of '75, when I was 11, a new girl moved in a few houses down. My friends and I were curious about this new-comer, and finally we approached her and made friends.

Turns out she was from Wisconsin and was visiting her older sister for a month in California. Well, despite the fact that Kathy was 13 and closer in age to my sister (who was 14), we became fast friends. I remember hanging out in her sister's house. Her sister had an amazing collection of plants, plus one of those cool wicker chairs that hung from the ceiling (it was the '70s after all).
Kathy also introduced me to the wonders of yard sale-ing. I was amazed at what I could buy for a mere quarter.

We spent a lot of time together that summer. It sure felt longer than one month. After Kathy left and went back home to Wisconsin, we were dedicated pen pals. We kept in touch through high school, marriages, kids, you name it. Once in a while we would call, but mostly we wrote letters.

We saw each other once, for a day, when Kathy and her family were out visiting her sister again. Her sister had since moved to the bay area and I had moved from my home town, but we managed to both travel and get together and introduce our kids to one another. That was in 1996.

Kathy and I are not so much pen pals anymore. We email and call occasionally, but somehow we still manage to stay close. She let me know about a month ago that she would be out visiting her sister once again in November. I told her we HAD to make a point of getting together again.

I drove down to San Francisco on the 3rd of November and met Kathy at her sister's home. It was so strange, but not for reasons that you might think. The strange thing is that it wasn't strange at all. No awkwardness. I felt like I had just seen her yesterday and not over a decade ago. She said she felt the same way. It was really nice actually.

We had a great time despite the rainy and blustery weather. We ate Mexican food, did some sight seeing at Crissy Field,

ducked into a coffee shop,

and peeked into some fun boutiques. Later her sister fixed home made pizza while we sat around and chatted.

What a wonderful day, and what a blessing to have such a close bond to this friend who lives so many miles away.

I'm a Sap

I cried watching High School Musical 3 today. A total, absolute sap, that's me.

I got the day off being that it's Veteran's Day and the kids didn't have school. It was high time we saw the new High School Musical movie, so we grabbed one of Shelby's good friends, and off we went.

The kids in the movie are now in their senior year and are going to their last prom and putting together their last musical and preparing to go off to different colleges, and say goodbye, and sniff, sniff, I got all sentimental and started sobbing. Sheesh!

I started thinking about this being Sis's senior year, and how most of her class she's known since preschool, and how I've watched all those kids grow up together, and she's going to have her last prom, and everyone's going to go off to different colleges, and have to say goodbye, and sniff, there I went again. Wah!

I also thought about my high school experience and how horrible it was and how I never went to a prom, or fit in, and missed out on so much, then I really had a pity party and started crying again!

Yeah, I'm a complete sap. I did really enjoy the movie though. Especially when Gabriella and Troy waltzed on the rooftop...sniff, sniff, sob!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Small But Mighty Primary Program

Well, we did our Primary Sacrament Presentation today. The Primary President put me in charge of it this year.I was pretty proud of Nat. The last two years she has refused to participate, but this year she was very much into it (she loves a microphone--who knew?!)

I had to get up at the beginning and say a little something. No small feat for me. Public speaking is not something I relish--I don't get up and give my testimony, and I've turned down the Bishop when asked to do a talk for Sacrament, I've said a prayer twice, but that's it. I try to avoid getting up in front of the congregation at all costs.

I decided to just kind of wing it instead of write out something. First I had to brag a little that my children made up a full 1/3 of the Primary (we only have 6 girls in our whole Primary class). Then I decided to relay my own experience in Primary (here it is in a nutshell): I was born into the church but we quit going when I was 11, so the next 27 years I was completely inactive, but because of the strong foundation Primary gave me, I always considered myself a Mormon, I chose not to smoke or drink, and when I would attend other churches I would come away thinking, "that was nice, but there was just something missing". I told how I felt that the teachings were in my heart, even though I couldn't recall specifics, and because of my strong testimony of Primary, it eventually led me back to church. And then I added how it was kind of funny that when I did come back to church that they gave me a calling to teach Primary, so I was kind of right back where I left off.

The kids did a fantastic job, reading their parts and singing. I saw quite a few folks dabbing their eyes. There's just something about a group of sweet little girls singing about Jesus that is very heartwarming. We have one little almost 4-year-old who literally was belting out the songs. I'll give her credit though, she knew almost every word to every song. Too cute.

The Primary President and I had so many folks come up to us afterward and tell us that was the best program yet. We had visitors from Washington that told us that they had been to 3 other wards during their travels and seen other Primary Programs but ours was the best. It was really gratifying to know that our small group of girls touched so many with their sweet spirits.

One gentleman in our ward (my former home teacher) lost his grown son exactly a week ago today, and the funeral was yesterday. He really looked like the weight of the world was on his shoulders as I saw him sitting in the congregation, but as the girls got up and sang and recited scriptures I really saw the light come back into his eyes and saw him smiling. I was very touched that these children could bring him some joy after he suffered such a great loss. He made a point of coming up to me afterward and saying how much it meant to him. He was actually the one who gave me my calling in Primary and he didn't know until today how perfect that calling was for me.

I was really proud to be a part of the program and extremely proud of each and every one of the girls in our very small Primary.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Brief Update

Halloween--need to post about that later and post the photos as well.

Saturday (November 1) a group of about 10 men from the Elder's Quorum at church showed up on Saturday at 9am to help us move. By 10:30am we were unloading at our new place. I have never seen a house empty out so fast. I've moved a lot, and this by far was the easiest and fastest! Kudos to the Elder's Quorum!

Now to get everything to fit. We went from 1800 square feet to just over 1000. I do believe another yard sale is in order!

Sunday Shel came down with a sore throat, and was diagnosed with Strep throat on Monday. Now Nat and I have the creeping crud, but it doesn't seem like Strep--yet.

Monday I got together with a long lost friend in San Francisco. That's a whole post in itself!

We moved the cats down to the new place on Tuesday--howling and yowling the whole way. My little feral cat Mouse, whom I was so worried about, made the move fairly easily and is adjusting well. Opie, our kitty boy, is happy to be with us too. I'm sure they were wondering where we and all our belongings went!

We adopted a guinea pig on Sunday---again I think that's a whole other post for you critter lovers.

We're still getting odds and ends out of the old house (we have lots of time, but it looks like the short sale is going to go through ok, and we'll be out from under it soon!)

We're getting ready for our big Primary Sacrament presentation for Sunday at church (which I'm in charge of this year!) Looks like Nat will actually participate this year. I have to give a talk though---eek! (At least it's just a short talk at the beginning, but still!)

We should have DSL by Monday. Goodness, I've missed my blog and internet!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


Last weekend we spent time with our cousins at the pumpkin patch.

Here are the girls with their little cousin Emma. Some lady stepped into the picture at the last moment and I got an unfortunate shot of her rear end. Oh well.

...and this ladies and gentlemen, is our little preemie nephew Zach at 5 1/2 months. He's a happy little breastfed baby, can ya tell!?

They Like Us! They Really, Really Like Us!

We finally found a house to rent. Hooray!

We can start moving in this coming Monday. Hooray!

We'll be living right across the street from our Bishop. Hooray!

I'll be close enough to walk to work. Hooray!

We can even walk to church, the historic downtown area and the community pool. Hooray!

Now I have to really get serious about moving and packing and cleaning and all that that entails. Boo. Ugh. and Boo!

I'm feeling very overwhelmed at the thought of it, but am so thankful that we finally found someone who would allow pets and rent to us. Yay. Boo. Yay.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Oh, the Politics (and I'm not talking about the election)

At my restaurant job, they decided to train me as a fill-in hostess. Saturday night was the first night that I was on my own.

Our restaurant is run a bit differently from others (from my understanding). Our waitresses don't have sections of tables that are theirs, rather the tables are assigned as customers are seated, and it's the hostess' job to make sure the tables and amount of customers are as evenly distributed as possible so that the waitresses make as close to the same amount of tips as possible.

This is where the politics enter. I've seen the waitresses throw fits because they didn't get what they perceived as an even amount of customers. The hostess training me told me that no other restaurant would put up with this, but at ours we do. Go figure.

At any rate, Saturday was thankfully slow for my maiden voyage hostessing. The tables and sitting times were working out perfectly. One waitress was going to get 3 more customers than the other, but that's as good as I could make it. I was feeling fairly confident (and competent, for that matter).

Well, when it came time to add up the tips, one of the waitresses got $114, the other about $65, for reasons that were out of my control. I could immediately smell trouble. My only hope was that the waitress with the big bucks would just keep it to herself.

Guess what? She didn't. Miss Got-Bucks comes up, picks up her tickets and declares, "Holy Cow! Oh wow! I had a better night than I thought! Woo look at this!" Then the other waitress, gets all sullen and starts going over her tickets with a fine tooth comb, and complaining, "Well, it didn't even pay me to show up tonight." (Although $65 is nothing to sneeze at in my opinion, considering that the hostess doesn't even GET any tips!)

I tried to explain that I did my best to keep it even, but it fell on deaf ears. I'm a terrible hostess because I didn't force the customers to tip her exactly the same as the other waitress. Grrrrrrr.

I'm sure that suggesting that they pool their tips and then divvy them up equally wouldn't go over too well. It would take all the competition out of it, and make the hostess' job way too easy and less stressful. Or maybe they could just be good sports, and not gloat, or fight over customers and tips. Yeah, that's not going to happen either. Oh well.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

21 Years Ago Today...

My little boy was born. Of course he's not so little anymore, but he'll always be MY little boy.

Cam was a great little kid. Everyone made such a fuss about how difficult it was to raise a boy and how rambunctious and hard to control boys were. Well, that wasn't my experience at all. Cam was an extremely mellow child. When he was 2 my mom and I would take him and go antique shopping. We would kind of see the store owners cringe when they saw Cam come in with us, but he was always very content just looking at things. If something caught his eye he would be content just to look at it for the longest time and absorb every little detail of it.
I would often get comments from people who would be surprised at my son's mellow behavior. Of course I would chalk it up to my superior parenting skills, but I now realize that it was just his personality and had nothing to do with me at all (energetic child Sis came along and gave me that reality check!)

Cam always loved vehicles and trains of all kinds. He had to have a car in each hand when we left to go somewhere and he called them "go-go's". His dad taught him all about trains when he was very young and it wasn't unusual to go by the train yard and hear him in the back seat naming all the cars he saw, "hopper car, auto rack, tank car", etc. He also knew the difference between a diesel and steam locomotive.

Cam has an eye for details. When he was little he would draw vehicles and wouldn't be satisfied until he had drawn every reflector and lug nut on them. He is now majoring in computer animation in college and I think his eye for detail is now paying off for him. He's done some amazing projects and sculptures.

Cam is an excellent big brother. He's always set a good example for all his little sisters. I think honesty and patience are two of his strong suits.

Anyway, he's just an all around great kid (can I still call him a kid now that he's in his 20's?), and I'm an extremely lucky mom to have him for a son. Happy Birthday Cam!

Monday, October 13, 2008

A Trip to the City

Cam turns 21 on Wednesday, so we made a trip to San Francisco Sunday to spend the day with him.

We started out early---tried to leave by 8am, but at least the girls and I were loaded to go in the car at 8:20 (Sis and I even both showered and did full hair and make-up). And there we sat...because anytime Mike goes with us, we always end up waiting for him. I'm not sure what last minute things he always finds to do, but he's putting his manly gender to shame when he has 4 girls that are ready to go before he is!

It was a beautiful day in the bay area. Sunny and warm. And let me tell ya, we were ready for warm after we got snow (yes, snow!) on Friday (it didn't stick, but still!).

I got Cam some luggage because he and his girlfriend Cassie are going to Disneyland on Thursday and he had nothing but a black plastic garbage bag to pack his belongings in, and that would be a nightmare to check in and out at the airport (ok, so he actually has a small duffel bag, but the garbage bag sounded more dramatic).

I hid little goodies in all the compartments of his luggage. Such college guy staples as mac and cheese, Cheezit, Skittles and the like.

We then headed for Golden Gate Park and walked around Stow Lake. It was really pretty. Fleet Week was going on at the wharf and we were treated to a show by the Blue Angels. Very cool...and loud.

Lots of photo ops and cute turtles and geese abound at Stow Lake.

Even after our very filling lunch at Chipotle (my first time there...honestly those burritos are the size of a small vehicle, but SO good!), everyone was pushing to have Cam's birthday pie. (He requested my famous puddin' pie-an Oreo cookie crust filled with chocolate and vanilla pudding- instead of cake.) We headed to the beach for pie eating. It was good, but windy!

Lots of playing in the waves ensued along with more photo ops.

We parted ways at around 6pm. We were actually on the freeway at 6:00--We made it across the Bay Bridge at 7:20pm. It took us that long to go maybe all of 5 miles. I thought I was going to lose my mind. I'll give the girls credit though, they never complained. Nat entertained herself by writing stories about potatoes and someone named Mr. B who had to go pee. Sis and Shel entertained themselves by taking (hundreds) of photos of themselves,

(yeah, there's lots more just like that, but you get the idea...) and Mike gave me a running commentary on all the interesting things found on the side of the road. He resisted getting out and picking up very handy items like bungee cords, gloves and towels. That showed real restraint. We even saw an old rat walking along the roadside. Fun times.

It was definitely hardest on me, the driver. I was beginning to get a little road rage.

I guess in addition to all the extra people in town for fleet week, there was also traffic from people attending the 49ers and Raiders' football games. So much for the less traffic on Sunday theory.

We were pooped when we got home, but it was a fun trip. We love spending time with Cam and Cass, and we had some serious family bonding time crammed into my car for hours on end (inching along...aaarggg!).

Thursday, October 9, 2008

The Art of Photography, Dance, and Friendship

So as I said in my previous post, we had a real, honest-to-goodness photographer come out and take photos of us getting ready for our dance performance.

I was so impressed by the detail that her eye caught, versus what we normal humans see. She has a true talent.

I asked her if she wouldn't mind photographing me in my cabaret costume before I put on my more tribal style costume for the performance.

I love how she caught the movement.

This photographer has a special place in my heart, as she is my ex-sister-in-law. (Although I really hate putting "ex" in front of anyone's title). I prefer to call her my kids' aunt.

We haven't spoken for 13 or so years, I guess. We had just recently (over the past year) gotten back in touch by reading each other's blogs. I am thankful that we are now friends again. I am really flattered that she was interested enough in our troupe and in bellydance to come photograph us. Thanks, Karen!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Pictures from our Dance Performance

Our troupe danced at a local festival this weekend. Here are some photos. We also had a professional photographer come and take pictures of us getting ready and rehearsing. Can't wait to see those, but for now these will do: