2012 Year in Review —- Facebook Status Style

January:

  • As part of an inherent, natural adaptation designed to keep me from eating them, early morning babies are cuter than rest-of-the-day babies.
  • “Hi.  Hello.  Hi.  Howdy.  Hello.  Excuse me. Hi. Yes, a very nice day.  Hi.  Excuse me.  Howdy.  Oh, you first.  Thank you.  Hi.”  ……….. Hiking in Southern California just isn’t quite as relaxing as it is in other parts of the world.
  • This morning’s bacon screamed in high-pitched, anguished tones as I was cooking it.  Should I be concerned?
  • Two boys.  Early risers.  Destructive.  Will trade for horse, full night’s sleep, or thin/toned thighs.
  • Updated ad:  Lack of sleep forces quick sale  Two healthy male Caucasian young’uns, to good home only.  Beautiful movement – possible endurance prospects!  Excellent vocal cords – should mature with an impressive set of lungs.  Lack of verbal skills means they can go any direction/nationality.  Don’t let this opportunity pass you by.

     

  • Becky Bean:  asking non-pregnant women when they’re due since 1981.

February:


  •  The Squidgelet is one year old today.  To celebrate we are heading out to buy him his very first birthday suit made out of clothes.
  • I dreamed I was a fox, and that my purpose in life was hunting down zombie baby bunnies (a la Buffy the Vampire Slayer) and ridding the earth of their evil presence by biting their heads off.  Beat THAT, Internet.
  • Project going to the gym after work:  Success. 
    Project working out for longer than 10 minutes and not getting called to collect your kids and go home because one of them sprayed vomit all over Kids Club:  Not such a success.
  • Simultaneous child flu dilemma:  How do you choose which kid gets held lovingly while soothed in a comforting manner as they puke in the toilet, and which one is left to scream in desolate isolation on the cold bathroom floor?  Obviously, it’s the one you love more.
  • Thank you, TV show I was watching, for ending the episode with the character shouting out, “Damnit!”  I really appreciate it.  It’s been great listening to the DragonMonkey wander around the house whispering, “Damnit.  Damnit.  Damnitdamnitdamnitdamnitdamnit.  Damnit.  Damn.  Damnit. Mit. Damn. Damnit.”
  • Yes.  Thank you, Internet.  When I googled “quick easy recipes for a crowd” to figure out what to make for people on Squidgelet’s birthday party on Saturday “Bourbon beef tenderloin, “Shrimp salad cups”, and “Six layer chocolate cake” were exactly what I had in mind.  Those sound very easy.

March:

  • A little over 48 hours from now and we’ll be at seven straight days of no puking from the Squidgelet!  This will be our longest streak since December.  Cross your fingers, peoples!  Also, in similar news…. he’s eating again.  After two weeks of surviving on, well, AIR, as far as I can tell, the little booger is eating again.
  • The DragonMonkey grabbed our little net for scooping fish out of the aquarium and announced he was going bug hunting.  Since I have no idea where he learned this concept I asked him, “Then what?” 

    His response?  “Then I catch a bug, and I put a bug in a cage!  Then I pet a bug!  Then Mama open cage and Mama eat the bug.  Yummy!” 

    Well…. at least he’s providing for the family?

  • “Good morning, Max.  You look good.  Nice, haircut. Good morning. Sleep tight?  You look nice.” 

    When I overhear snippets like this out of the DragonMonkey it gives me hope I’m not totally screwing him up.

  • “You want to finish your bachelor’s?  What do you need with an education?  How’s that going to help you when you’re in the kitchen making me food and babies.  An education isn’t going to help you keep the house clean.” 

    Today’s quote is brought to you by my husband, The Bean.  There, there, ladies.  There, there.  I know you’re all disappointed you didn’t nab him first.

  • When I first found out I was pregnant back in 2008 I tired to imagine what life with a child was going to be like.  I knew being a parent wasn’t going to be easy, but I can assure you, I did not envision myself having to say, “For the last time, DON’T pee on the dog!”  Oh well.  Live and learn.
  • I have magical powers.  I summon baby vomit by making plans to go to the gym. I’m not really sure how I can use this to fight crime or fulfill some powerful destiny, by maybe I’ll think of something.
  • Today my plans to go to the gym produced a fever in the DragonMonkey.  My superhero powers are refining.  Influenza Girl to the rescue!
  • Some families read stories before bed time, or engage in cute little verbal rituals.  In my family, we do this: 

    “I PEE ON MAMA!” 

    “DragonMonkey, PUT THAT AWAY.  If you pee on me you get five spanks.” 

    “Pee on Mama little bit….. one spank?” 

    “No.  Any pee that goes on Mama results in five spanks.  Now PUT THAT AWAY.”

    Every night, without fail.

  • Dressed up like Katniss, complete with side braid.  Sitting in the theater, waiting for a midnight showing.  Surrounded by talkative teenagers.  Not only do I feel really old in comparison to everyone else, all I can think is how comfy my bed would be about now.
  • It is 2:30 pm.  I just pulled into the driveway in Bakersfield.  Let the wild rumpus of horseback riding begin.
  • I love country music, and most days I’m proud to love it…. but when I hear “I love the gap between your teeth” as one of the lines in a popular top 10 song, sometimes I have to wonder.
  • “… And now we’re going to test your baby’s blood for a reaction milk….” says the doctor in a patronizing tone.

    “But won’t the IgE antibodies only be present in his bloodstream if he has been consuming dairy products?  He’s been off them for weeks.” 

    “…. Uh….. I don’t have time to go into how it works, but if he’s allergic to milk, it’ll show up.” 

    I lack a medical degree.  That doesn’t mean my brain is filled with only butterflies and ponies.  Sigh.

  • The Bean’s out of town in Kentucky until tomorrow night.  If’ I’m really quick, and really discrete, maybe I can hurry up and buy a horse while he’s distracted.  When he gets home I’ll just tell him it’s always been here, and he just wasn’t paying attention.  I figure I’ve got a 50/50 shot of this working.

April:

  • Yesterday evening the Squid stood and took his first few steps.  By this morning he was taking four and five steps in a row.  he took a long nap, woke up, and now he’s just nonchalantly walking everywhere.  It’s impressive and extremely disconcerting.
  • After thirty minutes spent playing around on one of those “create your own style collage” sites….. and after going through hundreds, maybe even thousands of tops, pants, accessories, and jackets…. I came up with a pair of jeans, a black tank top, and a pair of converse shoes. 

    The good news is that my dreams are very achievable.  The bad news is that I have no sense of style.

  • Only 56 more days before we’re on the road to Oregon.  That’s 1 month 26 days, and just a smidge under 8 weeks.  Not that anyone’s counting.
  • The DragonMonkey’s prayer tonight:  “Bless Dada, Mama, Squid, Tata (Grandma), Toto (Grandpa), Shcautzie (their dog), Jimmy, Tammy, people, horses, doggies, Santa, and windows.  Amen.”
  • People don’t seem to understand that “period specific” dress kind of needs to be, uh, “period specific”.  Last night we saw people dressed up to honor the 100th anniversary of the Titanic sinking, and they wore flapper dresses, 1940s jazz singer outfits, and basically a wide variety of costumes set somewhere within, oh, 30-40 years of what Titanic passengers might have worn in 1912.  TO put it in perspective, this means that in 100 years, when people who show up in period specific dress to a 9/11 memorial, they could be wearing leisure suits, parachute pants, grunge, and jeggings…. just like the people did in 2001.
  • Tomorrow morning I get up, get dressed, go to work…. and give my 35 day notice.  The whole moving thing is about to get *real*.
  • First box:  Taped.  Labeled.  Stored. GAME ON.
  • …two saddles that I’ve out-fatted, an English saddle, one bareback pad, two halters, a trailering helmet/guard, a bunch of bridles, martingales, draw reins, several sets of split reins, one sturdy saddle rack, three different bits that I’ve never even used…. That imaginary horse I own is really decked out.
  • “Twelve Steps to Spring-Clean Your Facebook Friend List!”  Laura Ingalls Wilder wouldn’t have made nearly as much money with her books if she were born in 1995.  Sometimes it’s just embarrassing to live in today’s society.
  • One 1-hour whirlwind of a shopping trip and six clothing stores later, all I got was confused….. people actually like that stuff?  It looks like a pile of technicolored dirty laundry.
  • My friend Google told me yesterday that there is a year-round pool open near my house, practically in my backyard.  Win.  Win, win, win, win, win, WIN.  On a brighter note (pun intended), I bet for the first time in my life, everyone else’s legs will be just as white as mine.
  • Just got home from a surprise going-away party – a goodbye beach bonfire, with hot dogs, smores, sun, sand, family, friens ,and Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus cupcakes.  What an incredible night.

May:

  • Last night while I was sitting on the toilet going pee (or, uh, powdering my nose), The Bean burst in holding a cat, then thrust him under my nose in excitement.  “Quick!  Smell him!  Doesn’t he smell strange?”  Marriage is weird.
  • I have to take a shower.  I’m sticky, and dirty, and I don’t want to ruin the nice, clean sheets.  But if I take a shower it will remove the slight horse smell still lingering on me, and I’m probably not going to be around horses again until mid-June at the earliest.  What a lose-lose situation.
  •  Is there a better love story than The Cutting Edge?  It’s been 20 years since that movie came out and it’s still the only romance I can watch repeatedly and not grow tired of it.
  •  Dude.  Going to a noisy gun range, surrounded by strangers and explosions and flying casings and the scent of gunpowder, stressing over not yanking the trigger, not yanking, squeeze-don’t-yank-crap-roll-shoulders-try-again….. is INCREDIBLY relaxing.
  •  What happened:  The DragonMonkey got my makeup (AGAIN).  I made him wash it off with the hose…. with his clothes on.  Said clothes got wet.  What it sounded like:  I dragged him outside, beat him wildly, set him on fire, and then killed his favorite puppy.
  • Dear Internet:  I have a Mother’s Day question for you:  How do you get permanent marker off of toddler skin?
  • Some idiot packed the kitchen first.  Was it *really* necessary to pack the salt away on the first day?  Why, Becky?  Why?
  • The Bean and I are going out on a date tonight.  I thought we were going out for sushi–yaaaaay!  It turns out we are going out to a Japanese pub.  I checked out their menu, and according to Yelp, some of the tastier items are: 

    Sea urchin dumplings, tongue, fried gizzards, bacon-wrapped garlic (probably not a good date night food), pork belly, raw oysters, and my personal favorite, liver on a stick. 

    Next time I get to choose the restaurant.

  • After four and a half years of juggling a new marriage, two new kids, full time jobs, and countless lonely evenings and Sundays while he’s at school….. The Bean is taking his last final this morning. 

    WE. ARE. DONE. 

    Also, he finished school in 4 years witha  nearly 4.0 average (two or three B’s total?) all while working a combined 40-50 hours a week at two jobs (at one point it was three jobs). 

    At the risk of sounding like a jerk:  Occupy THAT.

  • The Bean is home all day today.  And tonight.  He’ll also be home all day tomorrow.  After work on Monday, he’ll come home…. and it won’t even be nine or ten o’clock at night.  I could get used to this.
  • Ow.  My eyes.  But I saw the eclipse….. I think.
  • After a very long day spent packing the trailer, we are at the final few items.  Space is very tight so it’s taking some finagling to make it fit.  I just need to focus, push through, and we’ll have it done…. yet all I can think is, “Would it just be easier to heap it in a big pile on the front yard and set it on fire?”
  • T-minus five.
  • T-minus, uh, three.  Hmmm.  No wonder NASA didn’t hire me.
  • My boss took me out for a delicious goodbye breakfast at a classy hotel. I just got back into my car and noticed I have food on my face. It’s dry, so I must have smeared it there sometime at the beginning of the meal.  Sometimes, I hate being me.
  • 3:40 in the morning.  Last time up Brookhurst Street, quick stop at 7-11 for coffee…. Three…. Two…. One…. Blast Off.
  • So far, so good, and we even arrived in Redding ahead of schedule!  We’re going to leave early again tomorrow, and may even make it home by early afternoon.  Also, Northern California sure is gorgeous.  Also, a lot of the area around Central California really isn’t.  Modesto, what were you thinking, naming that creepy turn-off “Shanks Road”?  Was that a warning, or a self-defense weapon recommendation?
  • Oh.  Oh, my.  Oregon, you stunning little state, you.  Where have you been all my life?
  • Going 62 mph in the fast lane of the freeway.  Passing people.  This is going to take a bit of adjustment.

June:

  • Either our front yard came equipped with a complimentary flock of hundreds of the world’s tiniest hummingbirds…… or HOLY CRAP this place has some scary mosquitoes.
  • Becky, you idiot, you must learn to read maps ahead of time.  The local Starbucks is only 1.7 miles away if you take the highway.  If you take sidestreets because you have a stroller, two kids, and a dog, it is almost six miles roundtrip.  Moron.
  • Well, it is twilight edging on full dark here.  Finally.  At 9:50 at night.  My body is so confused by this new sun schedule.
  • I dreamed I was a 19th century hooker with a heart of gold.  When an uppity, cruel 20 year old client started picking on the 7 year old handicapped son of a fellow prostitute, I had enough.  I challenged him to a brawl, saying if he won, he would get five, uh, free ones.  IF I won, he would never show his face at the brothel again. 

    He accepted.

    Little did he know I was actually a time traveller who had several championship belts from my time in the ring as an MMA fighter.  The beatdown was juuuuuuuuuust about to begin….

    …..when Max woke me up to go pee.  Sometimes I hate that dog.

  • ….. today, over at a little town on the Oregon coast, it’s the one weekend a year you can go crabbing without a license.  In addition to the fun of crabbing, there is a crab derby.  Twenty-six tagged crabs are released, and one of the grand prizes you can win is a vasectomy.  I’m not making this up.
  • After a long week of studying up on the proper do’s and dont’s of recycling, learning about recyclables versus composting material, reusing paper towels, and sorting everything into its proper bin, The Bean and I proudly dragged our trash bins to the corner….. and watched as the same trash truck picked them up, one after another, and dumped them in the same hole.  What the heck, Portland.
  • I just finished parking my car in downtown Portland for the first AND LAST time.  Childbirth was less work and much less stressful than that experience.
  • Sigh.  Passed the driving test, but due to the fact I have a leased car it will take awhile before I get my Oregon plates….. so three more weeks of averting my eyes and hunching my shoulders while making my way down the road with my California plates.
  • How to tell if you have a favorite child:  The DragonMonkeys’ room’s theme:  Camping!  Maybe some cowboys and horses!  And trains!  Stars!  The Squid’s room’s theme:  Broccoli.
  • Oh.  Gee.  Darn. I seem to have missed this year’s Portland Naked Bike Ride.  No, that’s not a euphemism.  It’s exactly what it sounds like – a bunch of people who get together and get up on their bikes and take off into the sunset, fat and various body parts jiggling in the wind.  Yeah, I’m just crushed to have missed out on it.  And actually, I think I’m going to go wash my hands, just thinking about it.  Ewww.
  • The best part of staying in a hotel is the delicious continental breakfast that you get to trip and spill all over the stairs.  I mean, that is what you’re supposed to do with it, right?
  • Going riding…. for the second time in a week.  I am not excited about this at all. My life is just awful, terrible.  Everyone should pity me.  Also, I am being sarcastic.
  • Murphietta’s Law:  No matter where you are, or what item you are carrying – be it a wallet, purse, bag of groceries, backpack, or whatever – if it tips over, a tampon will fall out, and there will be witnesses.
  • Did I say 11 am?  I meant four.  I am leaving for Renegade Rendezvous endurance ride at four.

July:

  • Riding a horse is like scratching a mosquito bite.  It feels good and satisfied the itch as long as youer’ doing it, but as soon as you stop the itch returns, usually worse than it was before.
  • Why, yes, people of Oregon.  Fireworks are shiny, and they do make lots of noise.  Fascinating, isn’t it?  Can we be done now?
  • Sigh.  Thank you, Code Enforcement, for the $191 fine for being four days late in licensing our dog…. and now we can’t pay the fine because the judge is out of town, on vacation.  Hello, Small Town, USA.
  • Children.  Some days I truly, truly believe I should have eaten them at birth.
  • Haikus to the swarms of Western Box Elder Bugs that infest our front yard:

    Stay out of my hair
    Please, please don’t land on my shirt
    NO! NOT DOWN MY BRA!

    or

    Why me? Why my house?
    No one else’s yard will do?
    I don’t want you here

    or

    You ain’t endangered
    Enough with the gross bug sex
    We don’t need any more

    or

    Die, die, die, die, die
    Seriously, please just die
    Die, die, die, die, die

  • Poor, poor little Oregon mosquitoes.  What did you eat before I arrived?  You poor, starving little things.  There, there.  I’m here now.
  • I taught the Squid how to lick a plate today.  Also, he grabbed The Bean’s beer earlier and dumped it on the ground, so some of it got on his shorts.  The important part of this is to fast forward to right now.  Right now he is walking around, shirtless, licking a plate and smelling of beer.  I feel like all the other parents out there should just give up now, because they will obviously never be as cool as me.
  • Sigh.  DragonMonkey hid his booger in the house and won’t tell me where he put it.  My apologies to anyone who comes to visit me any time soon.
  • Spent the afternoon pampering the dog – petting him, shaving him, bathing him, slowly grooming every inch of him.  It took almost three hours of being bent over without straightening up, and my back is SHOT form the process.  Apparently, all that attention confused Max.  In the three minutes it took me to go upstairs and change Sebastian’s diaper, Max proceeded to anointed my kitchen with about 46 cubic gallons of, “Ohmigawd, something is different” pee.  While I fumed and cleaned up the mess, the boys ran onto the front porch and played “Let’s Throw the Bags of Shaved Dog Hair Around Like Confetti”, which is apparently the best game ever. 

    I will not kill small, defenseless creatures, human or otherwise.  I will not kill, I will not kill, I will not kill small defenseless creatures…..

  • DUDE.  I dreamed I was a My Little Pony.  I’ve been waiting for this dream since I WAS FOUR YEARS OLD! 

    I was Twilight Sparkles’ up-and-coming protege, with more magic than any pony ever.  We formed an elite team and used our powers to take down a nasty band of terrorists holed up in Afghanistan. 

    ARE YOU PAYING ATTENTION?  I WAS A MY LITTLE PONY WITH AN ASSAULT RIFLE.  IT WAS AWESOME. 

    So, after we infiltrated the house, I decided to take down the sheikh (who I think was actually Iranian…. whatever, my geography sucks when I’m conscious, and obviously even more so when I’m asleep) by hiding out in his harem and killing him in his sleep. 

    ONLY INSTEAD OF KILLING HIM, I SOMEHOW ENDED UP PREGNANT, AND I SPENT THE REST OF THE DREAM HOVERING AROUND THE TOILET, PUKING AND FEELING SORRY FOR MYSELF.

    I waited for this dream for 27 years.  I want a do-over.  Why does being an adult have to ruin everything?

  • I went outside to load the stroller into the trunk of the car.  In that brief time (seriously – three minutes tops?) the boys rolled a toy over to the counter, stood on it, grabbed a full bag of brown sugar…. and then proceeded to have a sugar-throwing fight in the main part of the house.  Sugar.  My entire house – sofa, living room, entry way, kitchen, kitchen floor….. EVERYTHING is coated in gritty, sticky sugar.  It was so thick on the floor that when I came in through the door it was to the sight of DragonMonkey laying on his back on the kitchen floor, flapping his arms and trying to show Squid how to make a sugar angel.
  • And forever after we shall be known as “that family that knocked down two display cases at Walgreens.”  Sigh.

August:

  • Dude – why haven’t they banned the USA from playing basketball in the Olympics yet?  It’s not even sportsmanlike – it’s like watching high schoolers playing with third graders.
  • “Being fat is like a trophy for all the awesome food you ate.”
  • Squid was so angry he lunged forward, grabbed my finger between his teeth, and bit down hard enough to make me cry.  I couldn’t get my finger out – the more I tried to pry open his jaws, the harder he bit.  It’s been forty minutes and the teeth marks are still there. 

    Why? 

    Because I wouldn’t let him play in traffic.

    I MUST NOT SELL MY CHILDREN TO THE GYPSIES.  I MUST NOT SELL MY CHILDREN TO THE GYPSIES.  I MUST NOT, MUST NOT, MUST NOT…..

  • Dear Oregon. I like you.  You’re very pretty.  And wow, have you lost weight? No?  Well, it looks like you have.  Your legs look GREAT in those jeans.  Anyways, can I ask you a little favor?  Can you please stop giving me poison oak?  I’m running out of space on my legs to look all nasty and leprosy-like.  Thanks!
  • “What do you mean I don’t have any game?  I get up early, I go to work, and I bleed numbers out of my face.  How much more sexy does it get than a tax accountant?”  Back off girls, he’s mine.
  • The weather is going to be hot the next two days – high 90s, maybe even reaching 100 – warm enough to be uncomfortable, but not crazy warm like it used to get in Taft or Kernville.  Let’s not even talk about how hot it gets in Phoenix. 

    The Portland news station has been reporting on this upcoming heatwave for over a week, alerting the public about emergency “Cooling Stations” and issuing dire warnings about the heat, like we’re about to be enveloped in a deadly forest fire/acid rain combo. 

    It’ s heat, people.  Your skin isn’t made of wax, and you won’t melt and die.  This is the first time since I’ve moved here that I feel like a smug Californian.  I imagine it’s how Oregonians feel when they see SoCal’s ridiculous “Storm Watch!” newscasting urging everyone to stay inside every time it rains.

  • Seriously?  Two months after I leave California, Dexter decides to film a scene at the bar I used to work at.  I’m so stinking jealous.
  • What I have:  An old, square workdesk someone left behind at our house, a bunch of free wood I picked up off of Craigslist, some tools, a desperate desire for chickens, and health insurance.

    What I lack:  A plan, knowledge about chicken coops, any previous carpentry experiencing, an engineering-type brain, ability to understand “How to Build a Chicken Coop” designs I found on the internet, knowledge about chickens, adult supervision, and babysitting for my young, accident-prone children.

    Let’s do this.

  • I am driving around town with my new Oregon license plates…. and for the first time since we got here, I feel like I belong.
  • The Bean and I each have separate bank accounts and we often transfer money back and forth.  Every time I am responsible for the transfer I like to come up with a new and interesting “memo”.  Listening to his little accountant sounds of dismay over improperly labeled credits and debits makes my week (“Becky, you know this appears on our formal bank statements, right?”) 

    Last time the fund  transfer was for the purchase of Guatemalan hookers.  This time it’s “Groceries for Guatamalan hookers”.  I mean, everyone knows they don’t just feed themsleves.


September

  • Well, that’s good.  Squid’s one unmarred cheek just looked out of place on the rest of his bruised-up face.  Glad we know have symmetry.  Sigh.  Better go get out his cutest, most expensive-looking clothes and do his hair extra-nice so people don’t think he’s a feral baby and start offering to adopt him.
  • Just finished attending Portland’s Pirate Festival in St. Helen’s.  The wenches were a little more… err…. realistic than I am used to seeing. On a related note, after today I will never be embarrassed of my cellulite again.
  • Countless hours of Internet surfing finally paid off – reunited a lost dog owner with a found dog ad on Craigslist….. man, that feels good.
  • Kids are handing out free kittens in front of Walmart.  Do you have any idea how much inner strength one has to have to say no to a free kitten when it is right in front of you?
  • Sitting in the sun at a small town Sauerkraut Festival, watching my sons jump on a bouncie, great band playing in the background, scent of autumn filling the Oregon air.  Man, I have a great life.  What did I do to deserve all this?
  • And now presenting today’s episode of “sweet nothings” by The Bean.  “Some people say fifty years of marriage is a commitment.  Pah.  You wanna see commitment?  Look at this car of mine.”  He gestures at the gleaming Civic.  “Now *THAT* is commitment.” 

    He looked up at me, expectant, only to be surprised as well as vaguely insulted when I didn’t fling myself into his manly arms with a reckless passion, overcome by the sheer romance of his flowery speech.

  • “Damnit!  I peepeed on my pajamamas!” I’m not sure whether I should wash his mouth out with soap, or mine.
  • Oatmeal fight?  REALLY?  I go into the back room to switch out the laundry and the two of you decide to have an OATMEAL FIGHT?  That’s it.  I’m selling you to the gypsies.
  • While I took a ten minute shower (indulging in the luxury of washing my hair for the first time in two days) my children had a salt and pepper fight in the kitchen and living room. I  was doing okay and maintaining decent composure until I cleaned it all up and went outside to take out the trash….. and they started a second war with the emergency reserves they’d poured into a toy truck. 

    I’m going to go ahead and count today a parenting win, as both children are still alive and unharmed.

  • WE ARE ON OUR WAY TO GO GET CHICKENS.  YES, THAT’S RIGHT.  CHICKENS!!!
  • DragonMonkey is insisting on calling the biggest, fattest chicken “The Mommy”.  That’s it.  It’s official.  Squid is my favorite.

October:

  • He’s listened to Mozart.  he’s listened to Beethoven.  I’ve exposed him to Michael Buble, and Eric Clapton, and Etta James, and Sin Bandera.  Blues, and salsa, cello and piano, classical and country – he’s heard it all, and ignored it completely.  I’ve got the soft rock station on for company, and like a shark on the scent of blood, DragonMonkey zeroed in on two songs with an absolutely feral intensity: 

    Carly Rae Jensen’s “Call Me Maybe” and Katy Perry’s “Teenage Dream”. 

    “MY SONGS!  MY SONGS!” he screams with all the frenzied delight of a teenage girl, every time they come on.  What have I done to deserve this?  Where did I go wrong?

  • DragonMonkey just sidled past me with lumpy, dirty sock held behind his back – a sock that obviously hid something.  When I asked him what was behind his back, he responded, “Mama, it’s not glue in a sock.”  That sounds legit, right?
  • Today’s “Special Weather Statement”:  A significant weather change is expected Friday and into the weekend…. we transition to a wet and stormy weather pattern….”  So it begins.  Somehow I find Portland’s understated warning text of “finish all outdoor chores” so much more ominous than all the “STORM WATCH!!!!”  warnings I’ve seen in Southern California.
  • Today DragonMonkey turns four.  FOUR?!  To assist in the early celebrations, Squid has been up since about 2:30.  Yaay.
  • Today I woke up early, took a long shower, blow dried and curled my hair, and applied my makeup in tasteful yet very alluring fashion.  I am now sitting in the house looking pretty dang hot in my tight jeans and sexy top.  The boys are quietly practicing their ABCs, the house is spotless, and I just folded the rest of the laundry and put it away.  Now what?  I’ve run out of things to do.

    Also, I’m lying.

  • It’s so nice to have a vacuum – err, a dog in the house again.
  • Good news:  This town’s parents are feeling very good about themselves, their offspring, and their parenting abilities.  Bad news:  I doubt I am invited back to baby lapsit at the library.
  • “I”m sorry, Mama.  I won’t do this again.”

    “Huh?  Do what?  I was only in the bathroom for two minutes.”

    “I’m very sorry, Mama.  I won’t do it again. I won’t’ be mean to Squid.”

    “Oh.  Uh, well, it was bad that you’d id that, but that’s a good decision.  Thank you for your honesty.”

    “And I sorry I play with the toilet tank.”

    “You WHAT?”

    “And I sorry I bad with Squid in your bedroom, and I mess up your bed.  And I sorry I play with the toilet.  And I sorry about the banana.”

    Unfortunately, I made the mistake of saying “What banana?!” in a shrill voice, and now he won’t fess up about it.  Some days I miss my 50 hour a week job.  It was much less stressful.

November:

  • Does anyone out there speak toddler?  Squid would like a “rawl-rawl-rawl-rawl-rawrawrawraw-raw!” Thanks.
  • I’ve decided I don’t like writing books. Books are boring to write.  I just want to write a series of interesting scenes that I have in my mind for my characters, and not bother tying them together with any mundane details like “How did they get there”, “Why are they doing that” and “Who the heck is this person, anyways?”  You guys would all buy a book like that, right?
  • If YOU have experienced hardening of your vaginal mesh, YOU may be entitled to compensation!!!!! CALL NOW!!  I really miss old timey commercials, where cute little twins sang about Doublemint gum, and whatnot.
  • Language acquisition is fascinating:

    “My hair is longry!”
    “Huh?” 
    “My hair is long and hungry for a hair cut!  It longry!”

    “I was a jungle bee for Halloween!”
    “A bumblebee?”
    “Yeah, a junglebee!”

    “Look, Mama, a rocket!  5…4….3…2…1…. Admission!”

  • “Hey!  HEY!  Don’t smell my butt!  That’s where my poo comes out!  Hey!  Quit it! PUPPY!  No smelling my butt!  It’s my butt!  NO!” 

    Adding Artemis to the mix of this household is turning out to be more amusing than I thought it would be.

  • “MAMA!  MAMA!  Come see!  It’s a baby spider!  It so cute…. cute little baby spider.  Awww…. Come see!”

    “Let’s see what you have there —- DragonMonkey, gross.  Get that away from me.  That may have been a baby spider, but now it’s dead.  That thing is completely squished.”

    “Yeah, I no like it when they run away from me.”

  • Trying to give the main character of my book a love interest is the stupidest thing I’ve ever done.  It turns out I’m even more awkward at flirting when I’m in charge of both sides of the conversation.
  • ……… and now, finally, my main characters are getting all makey-outy with each other, and it’s good stuff, and the story is just flowing out of me…… Only I’m typing this while at my local library, sitting right next to the Children’s Section, and “Harold and The Purple Crayon” is looking at me with judgy, judgy eyes.
  • COOCHIE WHITE.  COOCHIE WHITES!  COOCHIE WHITES!  COOCHIE WHITES! Coochie!  coochie!  Coochie white.  COOCHIE!  COOCHIE WHITES COOCHIE WHITES!  COOCHIE WHITES!  COOCHIE WHITES COOCHIE WHITES!!!!!! 

    Dude.  Bean?  We really need to teach the Squid how to say “Christmas lights”, and soon, or the holiday season is never going to be the same for me.

December:

  • On Thursday I finished NaNoWriMo, and today I ran my first 5k…… our goal was 41 minutes, and we finished in 36:57.  I feel like I could take on the entire world right now.
  • OMG I USED TO LIKE CHRISTMAS, BUT THEN I HAD KIDS, AND A PUPPY, AND EVERYONE JUST LEAVE THE STUPID CHRISTMAS TREE ALONE OR I’M SELLING YOU ALL TO THE GYPSIES AND THERE WON’T *BE* ANY CHRISTMAS THIS YEAR.
  • I didn’t tell many people that I was training for a 5k.  There was a reason for that.  I’m not superstitious— I don’t believe that’s the way God works…… But on the other hand, I started training for a 5k, and I got pregnant with Matty.  So I waited until he was older and went to sign up for one, and we had a financial catastrophe occur.  So I waited, and I started training again – and my RA came back, and I got pregnant.  So, this time, I started training secretly, and I kept my head low, and I snuck a race in….. And then I bragged about it on my blog yesterday. 

    Today I am the proud owner of a sprained ankle.  The doc thinks I should be able to jump right back into training for a 10k…… in about 4-6 weeks.  SIGH.

  • Today’s installment of “Back off Ladies, He’s Mine!”, brought to you by my beloved husband, Bean:  “You’re not…. you’re not going to use crutches, or that ugly cane thing at the Christmas party, are you?  Because that’s not really the look I’m going for.”
  • Know what’s sexy?  Corner of the lip pimples.  Now that’s sexy.  Be jealous, y’all.
  • “Hi, Santa.”

    “Why, hello there.  Have you been good?”

    “Yes.”

    “And what do you want for Christmas.”

    “A clock.”

    A clock.  Really?  Next thing you know, he’ll want a nice set of dishes and some sensible silverware.

  • Stupid, idiotic Democrats and their stupid, gun-hating laws!  When will they ever learn?  This was COMPLETELY preventable!  Arm the entire populace and this kind of crap would never happen! 

    Stupid, idiotic Republicans and their stupid, fear-mongering gun laws!  When will they ever learn?  This was COMPLETELY preventable! Disarm the entire populace and this kind of crap would never happen!

    Too soon, people.  Too soon.

  • Today the boys stripped the bottom layer of ribbons and ornaments off the tree and replaced them with tampons they found under the bathroom sink.  Merry Christmas.  Happy Monday.  Sigh.
  • “Mama, how is Santa coming in?”

    “Uh…. Santa isn’t real.  We’ve been through this, over and over.  A long time ago, in the third century, there was a wonderful man called St. Nicholas, who did many wonderful things, and we honor his memory and the way he celebrated the true meaning of Christmas.  People, like your Grandpa, like to dress up like he used to dress, and celebrate Christmas.  Santa isn’t real….. He’s just a symbol of the season.” 

    “…. So Santa isn’t bringing me any presents?”

    “Mommy and Daddy will be bringing you presents.  But some of them will say ‘Santa’, because we like to participate in Christmas tradition.”

    “….. but how is Santa coming in?  We need to leave a window open.”

    “SIGH.  Fine.  He comes in through the heater vent.”

    “WITH ALL THE SPIDERS?!”

  • Despite my attempts at honesty, according to the children in my house:

    Santa is real.  On Christmas Eve he will hitch all the reindeer to his sleigh, yell at them, and hit them with a whip, and then tie that sleigh to his big car, and stop by the gas station to make sure it’s got a nice full tank before heading out.  Also, he will be coming in through the heater vents, along with all the spiders (?!?!?!).  We should leave some food for him – maybe “lots and lotsa food” – and we should leave it on plates by the heater vents.  And maybe we should leave some food for the spiders, too.  But only the spiders with smiles on their faces.

  • Things I am not lying about:

    The area I live in has giant, ugly, orange-toothed 20 pound beaver-rats called “Coypus” (they are also known as Nutrias.)  I know, I know.  I didn’t believe it either – but google it.  It’s a for-real thing.

    Also, there’s a squirrel bridge over in Longview.  Yes, that’s right.  A squirrel bridge.  It’s a little bitty miniature 60 foot suspension bridge, built just for squirrels.  It’s called the “Nutty Narrows Bridge”. 

    I promise you, I am not making any of this up.

************

Merry Christmas and a happy New Year, everyone, and may 2013 be just as exciting (if a little more well-behaved!)

Uh-Oh. I’m the Bad Idea Fairy

I don’t think it’s going to come as a shock to people who read this blog that I like horses.

What you may not know is that I never competed, or showed, or did anything particular when it came to riding horses.   Well, once I did place in an ETI Competition  (Equestrian Trails Incorporated, or International, or something – some trail horse thingie), but that’s just because I showed up to ride my friend’s horses, and that’s where she was that weekend.  It was completely on accident.)

My lack of formal training and focus was due to three factors, primarily:

  1. Lack of competitive drive:  Actually, this one’s a bit of a misnomer.  I do have a competitive drive.  In fact, I have a little bit too much of a competitive drive.  When I used to work with the local junior high church group, I once pushed a 7th grader off the stage in the middle of a “break the ice” social game because HE NEEDED TO GET OFF THE STAGE IN ORDER FOR OUR TEAM TO WIN, AND HE WASN’T PAYING ATTENTION, AND THE OTHER TEAM WAS ABOUT TO WIN, AND MY TEAM WAS GOING TO LOSE!

    It wasn’t exactly my best moment. 

  2. Anyways, despite the competitiveness in my blood – or maybe because of it – I’ve just never felt the need to compete with horses.  I think it’s because horses are kind of my happy spot – they bring me peace, and I worry that if I bring competition into the mix, it might ruin that for me.

  3. On the day we bought my first horse, Catarina, the unscrupulous horse trader who sold her to us asked, “So, what are you going to use her for?”

    “Oh, I’m just going to ride her.  I’m not going to actually show, or anything.”

    The trader rolled his eyes at me.  “Mark my words,” he said to my mother.  “In six months she’s going to be complaining. ‘I need matching tack, and a show outfit, and’….”  He laughed.

    I did not laugh with him.  “No, I don’t think that’s gong to happen to me.  I just want to ride.”

    He rolled his eyes at me.  “That’s what they all say,” he said, turning to nod at my mom.  “You mark my words – it’ll be within six months.”

    Hey, horse trader dude? I have two things to say to you – Number one, thanks for lying to us about Catarina’s age as well as selling us a lame horse. You suck. I can’t believe the vet backed you up.  How much were you paying him? You guys both really, really suck.

    Number two, I’m 31 years old, and I still haven’t gone down that road, so THERE. Hah. I guess I sure showed you.

  4. Money.  That’s honestly the biggest reason.  Showing and competing costs money, and  I’m still daydreaming about the day I can take regular lessons.  Heck, as you all know, at this point I’m still daydreaming about the day I can have a horse again.  Would anyone like to buy a slightly used kidney?

Anyways, onto the point of this post.

I think I really like endurance. 

I will say that it’s tough to say “I love endurance!” when my longest ride was only about 15 miles.  It feels dishonest, somehow, like I haven’t earned the right to say it – kind of like how I feel I’m not allowed to go on and on about how much I love Oregon until I’ve survived at least two winters here.

Still.

There’s something about the start of an endurance ride that I could really see myself being a part of.  There’s a friendly excitement to the chilly morning air- the horses are jigging, and the riders are a little tense.

When they signal the start, it’s both understated and magical.  The front riders start out – all lean muscled and long-trotting or cantering – heads high and slightly braced against the bit with the excitement of the moment, and it’s a beautiful sight.  There’s a poetry to be found in the way the horses move, and the way the riders move with them – even when they’re battling, you can see the miles they’ve spent together in the way they respond with each other.

The crowd cheers, but quietly – they’re horse people, too.

I may, or may not have gotten goosebumps as I did my own quiet cheering.

Anyways.

Needless to say, I’m really looking forward to learning more about this sport….. which reminds me:

Aarene from HaikuFarm has finally released the paper version of her book:

Dude.

The book is good – like, really good.

I don’t know if it was the plethora of pretty horse pictures, or the readability of writing, or what – but it held my attention like a fiction book, which is saying something.

I have the attention span of a gnat, and I pretty much only read fiction books.

I wish that weren’t true, because at the rate I read books I would be the smartest person alive if I liked non-fiction, but it is what it is.

I love horses, but I don’t usually love horse books – especially non-fiction books…. but I really loved this book.  I bought it for myself, and I’m going to buy extras as presents for the horse people in my life. 

I learned a lot.  Seriously, someone out there needs to hire Aarene to write how-to manuals, because it was down-to-earth and easy to read, but it actually contained a lot of information.  That’s actually harder to do than you may think.

It’s also pretty funny.  I may have laughed out loud once or twice.

The only part that wasn’t funny is when I was reading along, laughing at the Bad Idea fairy and all of her, well, bad ideas…. and one of them was her deciding not to print out directions to the ride ahead of time, because she can just rely on her smartphone’s GPS, right?

Oh.

Whoops.

Well, if you can’t be an example, be a warning, right?

Anyways, I’m too late to recommend it for Christmas (am I the only person who hasn’t bought a single Christmas present yet?), but some of you guys out there will probably get a gift card or two ias gifts… and if you do, I heartily recommend this book.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to go daydream about horses.

This is my latest heartthrob:

Three years old, 16 hands, and a Standardbred, so he’ll probably be even taller when he’s done maturing.

Doesn’t he just look strangely lopsided without me on his back?

    28

    This is not a happy post.

    Sorry.  At least you’re warned.

    I don’t know why the whole Connecticut thing got to me so much.  They estimate about 160 children have been killed in the drone strikes in Pakistan.  160.  That’s eight times what happened a little under a week ago in Connecticut.  Eight classrooms filled with little children’s bodies.  Why am I not more upset about that? 

    I think the Connecticut thing rips me up more because it’s easier for me to understand.

    So I’m going to focus on that right now – not because the deaths in Connecticut are any better or any worse than what happens overseas, or that they mean more or less, but because it’s something I can wrap my brain around.

    I’ve got nothing new to say about Connecticut that hasn’t been said already. 

    Except:

    I’m so, so, SO very sick of hearing “26 deaths”. 

    Everywhere I turn – amidst the rabid debates over gun control and the availability of medical health care – I keep hearing about the 26 deaths from the shooting. 

    Pay it forward with 26 random acts of kindness.  Stand on a stage with 26 white placards with names on them.  26 candles lit.

    Etc, etc, etc.

    It wasn’t 26, people.

    It was 28 people.

    Look, I can get why people don’t want to count Adam Lanza among the dead –  although I find it a little hypocritical that people are using him as a platform to shout about access to mental health care but won’t even count his death…..but why does his mom no longer count as a person, as a death? Why is she not counted as a victim? Because she was shot somewhere other than the school?

    I don’t know why, but something about that rips my heart most of all.

    Anyways, I just wanted to take a moment and say that.

    It wasn’t 26.

    It was 28.

    ******

    I was going to post that – and it would have made a more poignant ending to this post, but I realized I didn’t want to just end with that.

    I know it’s been almost a week, so if I were trying to be timely with this message, I should have posted it earlier.  The thing is, I wasn’t really planning on posting about Connecticut, until the whole 26/28 thing got to me last night.

    So, in case it helps anyone else, here are some words that my friend, John Norling (the photographer from my sidebar) shared last Friday.  Something about it really helped me find the beginnings of peace in my heart . 

    It’s written from a Christian perspective, so if that sort of thing just riles you up, rather than helping you find peace, then you’ve been warned, and you don’t have to read it.

    *****

    I think I immediately went through the same emotions as everyone else when I heard about the news on Friday morning. My mind kept kept trying to wrap around what had happened. A thought wouldn’t get far before I would realize I was only thinking about one small part of the problem – not the whole. Like a photographer that has to keep backing up to fit everyone in a picture,  I had to keep backing up mentally to try to see the root.

    Why did this school shooting hit such a raw nerve? I want to say it was because it’s so wrong, and so evil,  but there are examples of evil everyday that I can read about with little reaction.
    What happened was horrible. Yet it was no more horrible than much of what has happen in the long, ugly history of man. In the mid 90’s an estimated 800,000 people were slaughtered in Rwanda. Most of them were killed with machetes, and often while UN troops watched. That was no less evil.

    Every day it seems that bodies are found just across the border in Mexico, oftentimes without their heads, but that has become second page news at best.
    As I  thought about it, I realized that I have been lulled into a false reality. I (or “we”, if you want to include yourself) have come to think that the world is good, and that we can plan out each tomorrow.

    That is not reality.

    Where I live – in the time and place that I do –  allows me to believe in the illusion….. until I’m hit with reality, like I was with the events that unfolded on Friday morning.

    I have not earned my blessings.
    No where can I point at my life, at what I’ve done,  and say I deserve to not have pain in my life.
    There is no reason that my children are home in their beds tonight and not in a morgue. It is not because I am a better person. There is nothing those parents did that would make them deserving of losing their child. 

    History is full of wars, and rape, and words like “pillage”. The Mayans would demand children from other tribes to offer as a sacrifice. Those mothers didn’t hurt any less than the mothers that grieve today.

    All history is written in blood.

    Yet we, as Americans, have been so blessed for so long we have forgotten that this life is a vale of tears. I am a Christian. As such, I believe that there is good and there is evil. The Bible describes this world as Satan’s home. Most of history points to that, but there have been a few, brief times in history that a group has been so sheltered from the many evils of the world that they begin to think that they can enjoy a heaven-like state here on Earth.

    I had a friend who was in a class at Orange Coast College on Monday, September the 10th, 2001.  The professor lectured that day that there was no such thing as good and evil on this earth –  only what some people like,  and what some people don’t like. On that Monday morning, the students sat quietly and took notes.

    When that class met again, two days later on the 12th, many of the students walked in, angry,  and told the teacher he was a fool.

    We can only believe the lie until we are hit with the harsh reality of the truth.

    Friday morning, December 14th, the truth hit many of us that we live in a evil world.

    It honestly shouldn’t have come as such a surprise to us.

    Ask any of the relatives of the estimated 75 million that Mao Zedong killed while bring communism to China about whether there is evil in this world. Ask the relatives of the 19,000 lost in the Japanese tsunami.

    I am in no way trying to take away from the evil that happened Friday, nor am I trying to put their loss into perspective. It’s just…. for those of us on the outside, who feel kicked in the chest (even though we didn’t know any of them personally), I think there is a lesson. Our reaction shows how isolated we are from what so much of the world deals with every day, and what is common to history.

    If we are blessed,  we should adopted an attitude of “blessed to be a blessing”. I have heard people use the phrase “count your blessings” before.  In the past, I’ve only thought about it as counting the good things that have happened to me.
    Today, for the first time, I thought about it differently.    I have never thought to count the things that haven’t happened as blessings.

    The cancer I haven’t gotten.

    The children that I haven’t lost.
    No where can I point to my life and say I deserve to not have pain.

    I am not trying to cover all the, “How can a good God allow this” type questions writing this. I’m just sharing that I was convicted as I thought about what had happened, and I realized I had taken my eyes of the goal.
    This is not my home.

    This life will pass in a moment, and only what I have done that affects souls will matter, because only they will last. I need to be more focused on the eternal.

    By keeping the eternal in focus I will see this world for what it is/

    It will be easy to be obsessed with this story and get glued to the news.

    I am going to choose a different path. I am going to focus on who I can bless. I get to go help at a Christmas party this Saturday, taking Christmas pictures for abused women and children. They don’t need more sorrow.

    Also,  I want to do more then just hug my kids. I want to teach them that none of us knows how much time we have, but we should spend what time we do have affecting those around us.

    I want them to understand that there is evil in the world— and yet even still they should be able to find joy.

    A New Low

    Xerox the cat is fat and healthy.

    She’s a sweet, happy, OUTDOOR cat. We tried to make her an indoor cat, but we ran into a little problem.

    She pees in the house.

    She doesn’t mark her territory – she actually squats and leaves a puddle.  The first night she stayed inside the house, she peed on the kitchen floor. 

    I moved one of our three (THREE!) kitty litter boxes upstairs and out of the basement, thinking maybe she didn’t know we had litter boxes.

    The next night she slept inside she jumped up on the kitchen counter and peed on a plastic bag I had left out.

    I didn’t know the pee was there, so when I moved the bag the next morning, it scattered cat pee all over the kitchen. 

    And seriously, is there anything worse than cat pee?

    The next day, on her way out the door, she backed up to the vacuum cleaner and sprayed it with pee to mark it.

    She is now an outside cat, despite her sweet nature and the way she likes to sleep under the  covers at night.

    Still, every once in awhile, despite our vigilance, she manages to sneak in – and when she does, she pees on something. 

    It’s hard to dislike a cat that sweet, but I’m learning to do it…..especially after what happened.

    A couple of weeks ago I took the boys swimming at the local pool.  I hadn’t planned on doing it until the next morning, but the DragonMonkey misunderstood what I meant when I told him we were doing it later.  I had told him we’d go swimming, tomorrow, after a good night’s sleep.  He ignored the “tomorrow” portion of description, and when he woke up from his nap, he came bounding down the stairs.  “FWIMMING!  We’re goin’ fwimming!” 

    When I tried to convince him that I’d meant we’d go “fwimming” tomorrow, his face crumpled with legitimate devastation. Something about the way he turned away instead of whining, trying to be brave—it tugged at my heart.  Glancing up at the clock I saw that there was still forty minutes left of the afternoon session. 

    To heck with it.  “DragonMonkey, if you get in your swim trunks, right now, we can go swimming.”

    He disappeared back upstairs with a flash of skinny legs, while I ran around the house, shoving towels and floaties and goggles and swim diapers and various other paraphernalia in the swim bag, before trotting upstairs to wake The Squid up from his nap.  Three minutes later we were in the car and on the way to the pool.  It had to be some kind of a record.

    When we got to the pool, the lady behind the counter took one look at us before glancing at the clock over her shoulder.  “You’ve only got thirty minutes until we’re closed,” she warned.

    “We’ll be quick,” I said with a smile, herding the boys into the small family changing room and closing the door behind us.

    As I stripped clothes off kids and dragged their swim suits on them, I couldn’t help but notice the faint smell of cat pee rising up from the bag.

    Great.  Just…. Just great.  That stupid cat had peed on the bag.  She was sweet, but man, I was really beginning to dislike that cat.

    And then I went to go blow up the floaties.

    I was in a hurry – I had less than 30 minutes to get the kids dressed, showered, in the pool, and then exercised well enough that they wouldn’t throw a fit about having to get out so soon.

    I was in a hurry. 

    I learned something that day.

    Did you know that after cat pee sits in a puddle for a week or two that it dries out and becomes flaky, condensed cat pee? 

    I was in a hurry – and I didn’t look at the arm floatie before I put the little plastic tab in my mouth to blow it up. 

    Which is why I did not notice the  dried-out puddle of cat pee around the tab before I put it into my mouth, using my teeth to open the lid.

    Which is how I ended up popping an entire little puddle of condensed cat pee flakes into my mouth.

    I’ve had a lot of gross stuff happen to me.

    I have never had anything that gross happen to me before.

    I’m here to let you know that eating condensed cat urine is about as nice as it sounds.

    Also, you know how cat pee smell never seems to go away, no matter how much you wash it?

    Yeah, well, cat pee taste is kind of the same way.

    Xerox is a sweet cat, don’t get me wrong, but I doubt I’ll ever really like her again.

    Free cat.  Does anyone want a free cat?  Very friendly.  Excellent mouser.  Fantastic with dogs and children.

    Not-so-tasty pee.

    Anyone?

    Do I have any takers?

    Really, Bean?

    I have family coming into town tomorrow.

    My dad is here in the states, visiting from Thailand, and I’m finally going to get a chance to meet my new stepmom.

    My uncle is also coming up to visit.

    After they arrive tomorrow the Bean and I are heading over to downtown Portland, to go to some uber-fancy Christmas party for his work. 

    It’s all Filet Mignon, formal wear and fancy champagne flutes.

    And guess who has a giant new hicky on her neck?

    (PS:  I take back all the bad things I ever said about people who take pictures in bathrooms – it’s harder than you think.)

    The Bean and I were…. uh….. “folding towels”, and I was like, “Yeah!  You fold that towel!  Woohoo for towels!   Folding towels is great!  Go laundry!…… wait.  WAIT.  STOP.  DID YOU JUST GIVE ME A HICKY?”

    But by then it was too late.

    Seriously, who even gives hickies anymore? We’re 31 years old, Bean.   Nobody is going to buy the whole “I burnt myself with a curling iron” excuse.

    If anyone asks me about it, I plan on telling them, “Yeah, my husband – that guy over there – gave it to me during a vigorous towel-folding session”, and then refuse to elaborate.

    Unless it’s my dad that’s doing the asking. 

    In that case, I burnt myself with a curling iron. 

    Hot Damn. I’m a Winner.

    On Thursday, I finished up NaNoWriMo – a full day ahead of schedule.

    This was….

    Well, it was huge for me.

    I’m not sure why I needed the “win” so bad, but I think it had a little to do with becoming a stay-at-home mom, and the move to Portland, and… well, everything all wrapped up all in one big ball.

    One of the things that happened, right after I moved here to Oregon, was that my words left me.  I don’t know how else to explain it. 

    Under normal circumstances, most of the day, as I go around doing my stuff, I have stories and scenarios playing in the back of my head.  I don’t know if that’s how it is for other people, but it’s how it is for me.

    It could be something as simple as seeing an interesting character on the street and recreating a back story for them, to playing back an argument I had with someone coughTHEBEANcough and inventing a newer, better ending for it (I’m always brilliantly witty and verbally annihilate the opposition, in case you are curious).  Sometimes I just imagine how I can best use to describe something I’ve seen, tasting the different words in my head until they feel just right.

    This blog has always been my happy place.  Back when I started getting more readers – not because I was actively recruiting anyone, but because you guys became my friends, in a weird sort of a way – I started playing around with the idea of trying to make it a big blog. If I had about 100 people when I was only updating about once a week – what if I tried harder? What would happen then?

    What if I promoted myself, and tweeted about it, and created a Facebook page, and posted 3-4 times a week, on a schedule, and tried harder with my stories, and, and and….

    And seriously… who needs all that headache?

    Not me.

    So, this blog has been my happy place.

    I may share some of the trials and tribulations of parenting, and stupid stuff that I do, but I’m not really complaining – and that’s on purpose. Because, honestly, even when my life gets hard, or emotionally draining things occur….

    Seriously.  I’m a “rich white chick” (comparatively speaking, at least) who grew up in Orange County, one of the wealthiest sections of California, one of the wealthiest states of the United States, one of the wealthiest superpower nations of the world.  

    If I start complaining about my life, I give you full permission to pick me up, stick me on a plane, and drop me in the middle of refugee camp in southern Somalia.  You know who has free reign to complain?  Them.  Not me.

    So, I try not to complain. 

    That last year in California- the last two years, really – they were not easy years.  We worked our proverbial heinies off to make it happen and to get where we are.  I got up, I went to work, I came home, I fed the kids, I did a chore or two, I went to bed.

    Over, and over, and over.

    It wasn’t all hard work, but the majority of days were like this.

    That’s okay, though.  It was worth it.  I’m not complaining.

    It’s just that – when we got here, after the initial excitement wore off, I was left with a kind of “Well, now what?” feeling.  I’d been “Becky who loves horses and works 24/7 and wants to move out of California” for so long that I wasn’t really sure what to do now that I was “Becky who loves horses and lives in beautiful Oregon and only has to keep two kids alive during the day”.

    It was hard enough to deal with without my words leaving me.  I rely on my words to help me process my life, even if they never even make it onto paper.  Not only was it very quiet in my head (that makes me sound creepy and schizophrenic, doesn’t it?), but every time I went to go write something, it took days, instead of an hour or so, and it felt forced.   It wasn’t depression – I’ve done depression – heaven knows I’ve done depression.

    It felt more like I’d had one of my senses amputated.  I’m not sure what caused it, but time was the only thing that fixed it.  I think I just needed to be quiet for awhile, and that was okay, because my words are back now.

    Still, by the time my words started to come back to me, I was caught up in trying to figure out how to be a stay-at-home mom again. The Bean’s hours this first year at his new accounting job are…. are pretty horrendous.  So, most days, it’s just me and the boys, from the time they wake up until about 30 minutes before they go to sleep.

    I love my children.  I love them, I love them, I love them. 

    But sometimes, when I hang out with them, and only them, for days on end, they make me want to poke a fork into my eardrum so I can remember what quiet sounds like.

    The problem with being a stay-at-home mom is that, well…. errr….

    I don’t feel like I’m accomplishing much.

    I know, I know, them’s fighting words.  I’m not saying that I’m not doing anything, because I’m actually working my a@@ off trying to keep my two little mongrels alive, and fed, and teaching them manners, and the alphabet, and reading, and counting, and skills, and all that necessary human crap that none of us actually remember learning, even though someone in our past worked really, really hard to teach it to us. .

    I work hard, I just don’t feel like I’m accomplishing anything.

    I went from a pretty decent job as an office manager/executive assistant to running around and saying, “SQUID, get away from that toilet!  DragonMonkey,  put some pants on!  SQUID, FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS HOLY, PLEASE JUST STAY OUT OF THE STUPID BATHROOM!”about ten times a day, with no noticeable effect.

    I trained the dog how to sit in three tries.  Why can’t I get through to the boys that easily?

    When I work with my children, it seems never-ending.  The progress is so slow that looking for results is like trying to watch grass grow.  Some days, the only thing measurable thing my hard work seems to produce is diapers full of poo— which I hate, because when the kids are going poo it means they’re making room for more food – and holy crap, you two are hungry again?!  Already?

    This makes it sound like I don’t love them, and I don’t appreciate the chance to be home with them – I do, and I do.  It’s just that me, on a personal level – I like seeing results.  I like having a tangible feeling of accomplishment at the end of the day…. and that’s something that’s hard to find as a stay-at-home-mom.

    So.

    I started writing.

    And then I won NaNoWriMo.

    And you know what? 

    That felt incredible.

    And then, on Saturday, I got up early in the morning, and I went out and ran a 5k – an actual 5k race, with an official time, and everything.

    I’ve never run in a race before.  In fact, I’m not really a runner.  I am really, REALLY not a runner, but I used the Couch to 5k program (I highly recommend it), and I went from running a 14 minute mile (for reference, people walk a 15 minute mile), to a 13 minute, to a 12 minute….

    …..and on Saturday, my jogging partner and I crossed the finish line with a 36:57, which means we ran an 11:53 pace.

    To really understand what that meant to me, you have to understand that back in April of 2010, I was walking with a cane.  I know that’s not really that big of a deal in the grand scheme of things, but it really bothered me. 

    I hate Rheumatoid Arthritis. 

    I hate it.  I hate it, I hate it, I hate it.  I hate that there’s no real cure, and I hate most of all that it is nobody’s fault but my own, really – that it is my own stupid body destroying itself. 

    I hated the pain – it wasn’t so bad, compared to some pain – it was just that it didn’t stop.

    Ever.

    There was no respite. 

    Pain isn’t so bad in small bursts- but when it never lets up, even for five minutes – when you spend all day trying to ignore it, and then all night, and then all the next day… and the days meld into nights, and then back into days,  and back into nights, and that pain is still there – gnawing and chewing at you with its hot, pressure-filled little fangs—-

    I only had to deal with it for three or four months before the immune-system response from pregnancy knocked it into something manageable again.

    There are people out there who deal with flares that last for years – even decades.

    I don’t know how they manage it.  I really don’t. 

    So there I was 28 years old, and hiding my cane in the trunk of my car like it was an illicit drug habit – gritting my teeth and faking a limping “real” walk in front of my family so I didn’t look broken or weak….

    ….pulling into the parking lot at work an waiting for it to be empty so nobody saw me using the cane…..

    ….staring at the stairs in front of my work –  should I use the cane and try to hop up one-legged?  My knee hadn’t bent out of its locked position for almost three months, so there was no way to fake it up the stairs, not anymore.  Should I try it, or should  I take the long-way around to the elevator, doubling my distance when every step really, really, REALLY hurt?

    Anyways, you get the point.

    People – I FREAKING RAN A 5K YESTERDAY.  IN 36 MINUTES. 

    Do you have any idea how good it felt to do that?   Yesterday, I didn’t just run a 5k.  Yesterday, I owned this body. 

    If you’ll pardon my french, yesterday this body was my bitch.  Boo-yah.

    Something about the jogging seems to be making my joints feel better, so I’m going to keep on doing this and see how far I can run (ha, ha, pun) with it.  My knees hurt at first, but if I push past that first bit of hot pain, it actually recedes and I feel better than if I don’t run at all. 

    Even better, it feels so incredibly empowering to actually be doing something to beat back my idiotic immune system, instead of just passively watching it eat my joints.

    Take that, body.

    So.

    On Thursday, I finished NaNoWriMo.

    And yesterday, I ran a 5k.

    And it feels good.  Really, really good.

    Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go to bed.  I’ve got to get up early so I can go jogging in the morning before I take the boys over for a “Thomas the Train” playdate.  Then, if they both take a nap at the same time, I’m going to go back to my NaNoWriMo story, to see if I can finish it up over the next month.

    Why?

    Because I can.  Because, lately, I’ve been good about finishing things I start…. and that feels good.

    Nah, forget that.

    That feels great.