Monday, July 28, 2008

Happy B-day to Me!

I turned 44 today. Yay! I think 44 is a good number. Now I'm a 44 year old mom of 4. That kind of flows. I've learned to embrace each year instead of whine about being older. You may want to check back with me on my 50th though, and see if that theory is still working.

I had to work and then I had to scoot off to dance rehearsal, so I wasn't home much today. But when I came home I was greeted by this incredible sight:

Sis (our resident cake decorator) spent the entire afternoon creating this chocolate extravaganza for me. She came up with the idea herself. I think it is just gorgeous. Knowing my affinity for dark chocolate, it's dark chocolate cake, dark chocolate frosting, and dark chocolate M&M's, AND real sunflower seeds for the little bit of salty-sweet thing.

Sis has done some beautiful cakes, but she really outdid herself with this one!

I really hated to cut into it, but it was well worth it. Wow!

I also had lots of messages on the machine with wishes for a happy birthday, and quite a few cards to open. This whole getting older thing is pretty sweet if you ask me!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

You Ate What?

Today at church during Primary (the children's class), after I taught my lesson, the music leader came up with a big bowl and spoon, an apron, and handed out small squares of paper to the kids. She then told them that if they mixed the right ingredients together, their song would give them a sweet surprise. She then quizzed them on Called to Serve, the song we've been learning this month. They were allowed to add their ingredient (piece of paper) and stir it in after answering the questions whether they answered right or not.

Nat was the only one that gave an iffy answer, so at the end, the music leader handed out spoons to the kids and revealed what it was that the class had cooked up: a bowl of whipped cream sprinkled with green beans and pepper!

The other kids were a bit confused and tentative, but not my girls, they eagerly approached with their spoons and took a big bite. Yum! They just didn't get that it was supposed to be gross. Because of my girls' enthusiasm some of the other kids dug in too. Their response wasn't so enthusiastic however.

Well, the leader went through the song with the kids and once they figured out the mistake and were able to sing the song, she revealed what they had cooked up the second time around: whipped cream covered in blueberries. The kids each got a spoonful and the consensus was that it was much better!

At the end of class when everyone was gone except me and the music leader, my girls asked if they could finish up the treat. She gave them the go ahead--they commenced to licking both bowls clean, green beans and all. They are SO their father's daughters! Honestly, I've never seen him turn his nose up to anything, and if it's covered in pepper so much the better!

Yeah, we don't need any fancy paternity tests around here, just a bowl of whipped cream and green beans will do the trick!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Nekkid Face

Last week hubby shaved his face. In normal families this is not shocking or newsworthy. In ours it is. Mike has had a beard since he was 17 or 18. And not just a beard, but a full beard, a pirate worthy beard, a beard that makes Grizzly Adams look like a wimp. (I wish I could find a picture, but I'm not having any luck...)

This is a guy who would get a haircut and beard trim once a year whether he needed it or not. Because that started to drive me a little crazy, and I didn't like all the Santa references he got, he kept it a little more under control after we got together.

He has always claimed that he couldn't shave because it made his skin break out, but I would always counter that excuse with the fact that razors have changed a bit in the 30 some odd years since he actually used one. (He had the kind where you bought the blades and put them in the razor--just a step up from a straight razor!)

In the last year or so he's been keeping it fairly short since his BBQ catering business has taken off and he has wanted to look a bit more professional. It was a nice change.

He has threatened to shave his face more than once, but I really thought he would never do it. For some reason he got a wild hair (ha ha!) and followed through on his threat last week.

It was shocking that's all I can say. I wouldn't think it would be that big of a difference, but it truly was. I really had a hard time even looking at him. Not that he looked that bad, but it was truly like having a stranger in the house. Weird, weird, weird!

By day 3, I was used to it, and kind of liking it, but alas he was already growing it back. I told him he may want to try the mustache-goatee thing first, but then he thought I wanted him to grow a "Fu Man Chu", which he doesn't like, and he suggested a "cowboy mustache" which I was against. So beard it is.

The whole Mike with a nekkid face was a big topic amongst the family, especially since he and his brother have always had full beards, and none of the nieces or nephews or wives have ever actually seen their faces. Our niece finally figured out why it was so weird for Mike to be beardless. He looked too NORMAL. It kind of took away his character, and made him look like Joe Schmoe. Once she figured this out, it was an "Ah Ha! moment" for me.

At any rate Mike's character is well on it's way back. Right now his face is the texture of a ticked-off hedgehog. He's definitely going through the "awkward stage"! I was pretty impressed that he actually took a risk and shaved (and guess what, razors really have changed!) and stepped out of his furry comfort zone.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Whirlwind Vacation

We went to Tahoe for a quick overnight on Sunday and Monday. It very nearly didn't happen. My husband is very difficult when it comes to committing to something (which I guess explains why he was single until he was 42) and planning ahead--but that's a whole other story, and thankfully it all worked out in the end.

(Sis didn't go with us, she had just returned from a week at fine arts camp and had to work, but before you feel too bad for her, she spends a lot of time at Tahoe since her dad's family owns a cabin up there.)

Two years ago when Mike's sister was visiting from Alaska, she camped at Tahoe, and we drove up to see her for the afternoon. It was way too quick a trip, and the girls had so much fun on the beach, that we vowed we'd make it up there again soon. Well, a couple years is soon in our books!

We packed an amazing amount of stuff into my Honda Civic. Every nook and cranny had a pillow or pack or bag of snacks shoved into it. The girls were situated snuggly between suitcases and pillows in the back seat. Have you ever heard the expression, "10 pounds of s*** in a 5 pound sack?" Well, this was clearly a case of 10 pounds of stuff in a 5 pound car, and it became a bit comical as we unloaded it all. It didn't help that one whole backpack was filled with stuffed animals. Next time I'll pay closer attention to what the girls are packing!

As we arrived on Sunday there were intermittent thunder storms, luckily it all cleared off on Monday, but the rain was kind of fun too, once we got the tent up!

We visited the Tallac Historic site

and the beach on Sunday, then went to State Line for dinner. On Monday we saw native trout at the stream profile chamber,

Stream profile chamber...and one of it's handsome inhabitants!
Shelby checks out the fish...
Nat looks at a crawdad and fish (not real, but cast from real specimens)--there were all kinds of surprises to be discovered in the paintings and displays--it was really cool!

then went to the Emerald Bay vista, and back to swim on the beach.

It's rare that Mike and I actually work it out to go somewhere together...him with his "non-committal-ness", me with my crazy schedule, add to that pets to care for and lack of money, so that this trip happened at all is nothing short of miraculous. I'm so glad it did though; it was well worth the effort and expense.

Some memories:

Having to shop for swim fins for Mike, because he wanted to snorkel. We spent the first 1 1/2 hours going to Kmart and all the sporting goods stores in greater South Shore, and I didn't even nag or complain!

Natalie's "snaggle tooth" falling out the morning of our trip and finding out that the Tooth Fairy will find you even if you're in a tent at Lake Tahoe.

The smell of sage brush, Jeffery pine, and Skunk Cabbage and how it brought back memories of where I grew up. It smelled sooooo good!

Seeing trout of all sizes and crawdads fighting over a dead fish in the creek on the trail to the stream profile chamber.

Telling ghost stories around the campfire.

Lying on the beach and watching the clouds roll by and change shapes.

Hearing, "How much longer?" for a good 2 hours there and back!

Monday, July 14, 2008

It's The BIG ONE, Elizabeth. I'm Coming to Join You.

Ok, does anyone remember Sanford and Son, and how Redd Foxx's character would always clutch his chest and say the above phrase? Whenever he got in trouble with his son, he'd fake the BIG ONE to create a diversion. I loved that show...I'm just sayin'...

Anyhoo, hopefully that will all make sense eventually, but the chef at my work and I have been having migraine headache discussions of late. His are related to food preservative sensitivities and he has to be very careful about what he eats. Mine are more hormonally driven and I can count on at least one doozy a month.

Some time ago my doctor gave me a prescription for Imitrex, the migraine headache miracle drug. Hurrah! I was so excited to get it filled! Off I went to the pharmacy, but when they told me the total cost was two hundred somethin' dollars for a few lousy pills I got very discouraged, and told the nice lady that there was no way I could pay for it. So I've done without.

Well, Chef gets his Imitrex from Canada for about a quarter of what it costs in the US. He gave me the website information and I got another prescription from my doctor. Chef said before I got the prescription filled that I should try it first, so he was generous enough to give me one of his pills.

I've had the precious medication in my purse for a few weeks now. I didn't want to waste it on any old headache, so like Fred Sanford, I was waiting for the BIG ONE. I've had a couple headaches, but I could tell they weren't going to be THAT bad, not laying down in a dark room with a pillow over my head bad, or throwing up bad, or "Please God, put me out of my misery" bad, so I didn't use the pill. But last night one started coming on that had promise. I waited just to make sure, and by the time I decided to take the pill I knew it was definitely a worthwhile headache to experiment with.

Of course with any medication, Imitrex comes with a list of warnings and possible side effects that will scare a person to death, and Chef has experienced nausea with it so I didn't want to try it at work where I might inconveniently succumb to heart attack, stroke or just throwing up all over the place. I was really thankful that the BIG ONE happened on my day off!

I was surprised that it took over an hour for the medication to fully kick in. I experience a little tightness in my throat, but nothing too concerning, and it soon went away. Slowly I felt the throbbing and tenseness lessening, and before I knew it MY HEADACHE WAS COMPLETELY GONE. Wow! I felt normal. I could function. I wasn't out of commission for the day. WOOOO! I even felt energetic. I took the pill at about 7pm, and at 11 I went to bed and experienced the best night's sleep I've had in a long time. I woke up so incredibly rested. I never felt like the medication was making me drowsy, but it definitely really helped me sleep.

So, with my headache experiment complete, I will now contact the friendly Canadians and get my prescription filled. I'm really excited to know that I won't have to suffer anymore. Yay!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Ear Holes

(By the way, this all happened yesterday, folks.)

Well first of all we woke up to this in our front yard:

A whole family of wild turkeys: mom, dad and about 5 young ones. Very cool.

Okay, now for the big news. This is how Nat decided to spend some of her birthday money:

She got her ears pierced!

Here's the after pic, which you can't see the earrings too well, but it was kind of cute because she was crying, but she wanted a picture so she dabbed her eyes dry and did her best to smile. Awwww.

I don't know why all of a sudden she decided she wanted her ears done, but about 2 weeks ago she made the decision and has been pestering ever since. This from the worry wart who was more upset than Shelby when she got hers done, and this from the child who literally freaks out when she has to have a vaccination, so much so, that the last time I didn't tell her she was going until we pulled up in the doctor's office parking lot (and then she commenced acting like someone was pulling her toenails off--before we even got in the door).

Yeah, I didn't think she'd volunteer for a piercing of any kind until she was well into her 30's at least. And then I figured she'd have to be anesthetized. Just goes to show, 'mom don't know everything'!

Anyway because gas is so flippin' expensive, I didn't want to drive all the way to the valley to get her ears done, and we already tried Wal-mart and had a bad experience (with Sis many years ago), so I decided to see if anyone in town offered the service, and what do you know, I found a salon that did. On the phone I asked her if she used a gun, and she said yes (but when we arrived, I found out it wasn't the same as the guns that they use at the places in the mall). This was more like a modified stapler. (I guess it still beats a hot needle and a potato though.)

And the lady didn't actually have 2 earrings that matched. The closest she had were a flower shaped one and a cross shaped one. I asked Nat if that was ok, and she said yes, so we went for it. The lady was very good with Nat, but after she did the first one, poor Nat lost it and broke down in tears. I'll give Nat her props though, cause she told the lady to go ahead and do the other one (I figured she would just leave with one ear pierced at that point).

Nat is very proud of her earrings and is even a bit of an over achiever when it comes to cleaning and turning them. Her instructions were to do that twice a day, but she does it at least 4-5. The best thing though, is that the day that the 6 weeks is up and she can put other earrings in is also the first day of school. She is thrilled that she will be able to wear new earrings on the first day of school. Go Nat!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Deadliest Catch

Does anyone else watch this program on Discovery? I think it is just fascinating, but every time I watch it, I am so struck by how it is the epitome of my worse nightmare.

Three things I hate are: water, cold, and spiders.

Deadliest Catch is basically being tossed around in the ocean, in freezing wet weather, catching giant water dwelling pinching spiders. It doesn't get much worse than that for me. My version of hell for sure!

Add to that a cursing captain with no patience and a bunch of guys with too much testosterone. That's just scary! (But still fascinating...)

Work Perks

Today at work while Jean and I were running the snack bar flipping burgers, they had an event in the restaurant. A gathering of a ladies Bridge club. I didn't even know people still played Bridge! I remember my mom playing Bridge with her friends a looonnnnggggg time ago, when I was 4 or 5. Oh course I think it was just all an excuse to get together and gossip, and not about cards at all, and I'm thinking that that was the case today as well.

At any rate, because of this event, the chef was in the kitchen (which is connected to our snack bar area) and was fixing all the little old ladies their luncheon. He presented Jean and I each with a plate of pesto linguine with bay shrimp topped with parmesan. It was so dang good! We always get a free meal when we work, but our choices at the snack bar are limited (and usually greasy or deep fried) so this was a real treat.

I had to walk by the dining room a couple times and it smelled like little old lady perfume in there. It was a nice grandma-ish perfumey smell. They were a nice smelling bunch, that's for sure. It was just kind of funny that they fragranced the whole restaurant.

Later my new best friend the chef came by with a slice of cheesecake for us. And we just had to put raspberry, chocolate and caramel sauce on top. It was soooooooooooo good. Jean and I were in heaven there for a moment enjoying the lusciousness of the cheesecake, but a short time later we both slowed down considerably and I kept wanting to find a quiet spot and just curl up and take a nap.

Lesson learned: Wait to eat cheesecake at the end of your shift. And little old ladies smell nice.

Friday, July 4, 2008

A Mini Vacation

For 3 weeks I've been counting down to the day that we got to go to San Francisco to visit Cam and see Wall-E with him. Since he's studying animation at college, it's fun to see the Pixar flicks with him. Who knows, maybe someday we'll see his name in the credits.

We set the date of July 2nd to correspond with all of our days off from work, and I've been so excited this last week leading up to it, I could hardly stand myself.

At any rate, the big day finally arrived and Nat and Shelby and I took off for the City. Yay! It's nice to get off the mountain once in a while!

Sis intended to go with us, but at her orthodontic appointment on Tuesday, her doctor told her that if she could get a quick x-ray on Wednesday, and return on Thursday morning, that he would remove her "rotating palatal expander" that looked similar to this photo (and which I had the "joy" of cranking one turn every night for the first 6 weeks she had it in. Ewww).

If she didn't take that particular appointment, the next opening would be in August. Ugh. She's had her expander in for almost a year, and she's been so anxious to get it out and get reacquainted with the roof of her mouth, that she made the difficult decision to stay home.

Wednesday we made it to the City in good time, even though I have difficulty driving more than 60 mph. I'm out of practice driving on freeways, and on mountain roads you just don't usually get the chance to go over 55, let alone go 65+ with hundreds of other cars zooming and zipping along with you (or around you, in my case).

We enjoyed the movie, heck, I enjoyed the movie theater itself: several stories high, the biggest snack bar I'd ever seen and I-don't-know-how-many-screens. Wooo-doggies! I kind of felt like Jethro from the Beverly Hillbillies! Nat sat on Cam's lap for the whole show. I'm glad he was tolerant of his little wiggly sister that needed her big brother fix!

Cam's sweet girlfriend Cassie was gracious enough to let us stay at her place for the night (a nice 4 bedroom house she shares with 3 other college students), and I tried to repay her kindness with a home-cooked meal, followed by warm brownies from the oven and bake-and-serve cinnamon rolls the next morning. (I'm smart enough to know that the way to a college student's heart is through their stomach.)

The girls were fascinated by the train that rumbled by every 10 minutes right outside.

But even more intriguing to Nat was that we had to make sure our car was moved off the street the next morning for the weekly visit of the street sweeper. She had lots of questions about the street sweeper and SO wanted to wait for the sweeper to come the next day, but we needed to go before it arrived. On our way back to drop Cam and Cass off after our busy day, Nat says, "Well there's a boring street sweeper.", and I looked to see what she was referring to and saw a man sweeping the sidewalk! Yes, a boring street sweeper indeed!

(Coincidentally on our arrival back to our little community that evening, we passed a street sweeper who happened to be cleaning a dirty part of the highway caused by recent construction. Hurrah! A real life street sweeper. Curiosity fulfilled!)

On Thursday we enjoyed a fun day at the San Francisco Zoo,

a trip across the Golden Gate with a windy picnic at the vista point,

then a quick trip to the beach.

SO. MUCH. FUN. I can't even tell you.

The other thing the girls loved was that to enter Cassie's house there's a buzzer that unlocks the gate at the bottom of the stairs. They had lots of fun pushing the buzzer so someone could enter or exit. Gosh, next time I could save a lot of money and just let them ride the Muni, push the buzzer and wait to see the street sweeper! Who needs a movie and a trip to the zoo when you have girls this easy to entertain?

What a fun couple of days and it was so nice to spend time with Cam and get to know Cassie better (she loves penguins and she actually was bitten by a rabid dog when she was 5 and had to go through all the rabies shots---wow!) She's very fun to be around and very good with my Cam's exuberant little sisters. (So thanks guys for letting us come visit! I hope we can do it again soon!)

Goin' Hands Free

Yes, the new law is putting a cramp in my style. I don't do a LOT of driving and talking, but still, when I need to talk to someone I'd just as soon not have to pull over and stop. I haven't yet gotten a fancy Blue Tooth or other device, so for now, this is my hands free device:

It works pretty well for now. Well, unless I need to go somewhere alone...

My hands free device will even read directions! And once I explained the difference between .3 of a mile versus 3 miles and how important that little dot is, we did quite well.