Jun. 30: Focused, maybe?

My hungry seven-year-old, looking at the cover of the Thriller CD:

“Why does Michael Jackson have a slice of pizza in his pocket?”




I guess the animal print handkerchief makes a little more sense when one sees the other Thriller album photo:



Still, I think my boy’s a bit of a smartass, god love ‘im.


Jun. 30: What’s happening

I’m feeling a little bit pulled in every direction this morning and need to focus. Hopefully this stolen meme from Jen E @ MommaBlogsaLot will help.


not enough armsOutside my window: The sun is shining, the sky is a beautiful blue, and I hear birds singing. It’s true! It’s a gorgeous morning here in the suburbs. I’d love to enjoy my coffee out on the back deck but the dogs would follow me out there, and then the kids would follow them out there, and then my own personal sky would totally cloud over and ruin my morning. I love my kids and the dogs, but they can harsh a mellow real quick.

I am hearing: The dryer. The birds. The clicking of 12 paws’ worth of nails on the floors. My stomach growling. The High School Musical soundtrack. Non-stop noise, in fact, coming from upstairs, moving downstairs until I order it back upstairs and then coming downstairs again. Jack has a friend over and they’re tormenting Katie, which is getting her AND the dogs worked up. Calgon, take me away! Is it too early to open the vodka?

I am thinking: I’ve got so many important things I’d like to accomplish today, but just ONE thing crossed off my list would make me happy.

I am hoping: My mom gets to Colorado. She flew out of Portland yesterday but her connecting flight in Phoenix was cancelled so she’s stuck there until 3 p.m. today with no deodorant. For her seatmates’ sake, I’m hoping she finds deodorant and finally arrives at Kathy’s tonight.

I am reading: David Sedaris because that’s what I do if I don’t dive right into another book after finishing one. I’ve got several books in my to-be-read stack but haven’t taken the time to choose my next one. Ever since my head bonk last week I’m not concentrating quite so well, so I’m enjoying the lightness and laughs from Mr. Sedaris.

I am creating: A new filing system, which I think is what’s exhausting my brain. I’m just so tired of having piles of papers all over the place. The filing cabinet I moved to the garage last year—to make more room elsewhere—has sat unopened ever since. It’s just not working for me out there. A big pile of PTO paperwork, which I need to be able to access easily, has been my big prompt to get my butt in gear with this project.

I am wearing: Jeans and a white tank, my usual post-shower attire when I’m not racing right out the door. I probably would have put jammies back on if I wasn’t expecting visitors in a few minutes.

In the kitchen: We’re trying a menu plan kind of thing for the summer. So far it’s working out alright, but I’m sure some or all of us will get tired of it soon because it’s a really boring one.

  • Monday: Pasta (we had macaroni and cheese last night)
  • Tuesday: It’s Mexican on the menu plan, but today’s the last day to use our California Pizza Kitchen free dinner prizes. We’ve actually gotten a little tired of eating there this month. I think I’ll get a few take-out pizzas for dinner tonight.
  • Wednesday: Sandwiches
  • Thursday: Rice and chicken (rice and nattō for Jack, which I encourage him to eat outside because it is quite the stinkified “food”)
  • Friday: Pizza’s on the menu, but we might be pizza-d out by then.

Around the house: Besides working on the new filing system, I’m also reorganizing some bookshelves and listing some books on Bookins… doing some laundry… trying to keep peace between the dogs… nagging Katie to get her room cleaned up… dead-heading petunias in the front and back… with all this stuff, how am I supposed to fit in the Law & Order marathon today??? 

Plans for the week: Send out June invoices, get an algae eater for our very green aquarium (the goldfish keep eating them, so I’ll get a big, bad-ass one this time and see how that goes), organize the piles of DVDs that have taken over the shelf below the TV, and get my FrankenBrow stitches removed.

One of my favorite things: This week, it’s listening to the Rent soundtrack on repeat. But I’m also enjoying sitting on the front porch, listening to our fountain. It’s running again, by the way—I’m not sure I ever mentioned that it wasn’t, but we were kinda pissed when it stopped working after just three weeks, until we discovered the fuse had blown—and I love its peaceful, bubbly sound. Now, if only Lovely Lori H can be convinced our fountain is NOT a bidet…

A picture thought: (click to read captions)


Sophie’s here! Jack and Mack have disappeared to who-knows-where. I suppose I should go smoke them out. They’d hate to miss out on tormenting Katie AND her friend.


Jun. 29: ‘Cause everything is Rent

Click for close-up view of the cast

Local news interview video, Oregonian interview with Anthony Rapp

Yesterday we saw Rent on its tour stop in Portland. I’ve written about the movie and music repeatedly here (because I love the movie and music), but it was my first time seeing the show performed on stage. The big draw on this particular tour is that Anthony Rapp (Mark) and Adam Pascal (Roger) are starring in their original roles. It was one of those shows for which you really really really really hope you don’t get an understudy.

We didn’t.

So it was awesome.

The last Broadway performance was filmed and recently released on DVD; many of those starring in the show have continued in the current tour around the country. For me—because I’ve watched that DVD a meellion times—that means there were familiar faces besides just Mark and Roger. The actors playing Angel, Collins and Benny were in the “Live” DVD. Gwen Stewart (oh she of the amazing “Seasons of Love” solo) also appeared.

The actress playing Maureen was a surprise as a blonde, but I really enjoyed her. I’ve always had a hard time accepting the very dreamy Taye Diggs as a smarmy jackass, so I liked seeing a different actor as Benny. Of course, that is also why you didn’t read any headlines in The Oregonian today mentioning two women (the non-criminals Loveliest Lori and me) arrested for rushing the stage to touch the very dreamy Taye Diggs.

Speaking of Loveliest Lori, she and her group had a couple of extra unoccupied seats, and they invited me and Victor to sit with them. Their seats were 19 rows closer than our ticketed seats so we said yes because we are not idiots. Perhaps the best part, though, was getting to whisper with Lori throughout the show, occasionally about how Mimi’s derrière was way fab. (Is that wrong? I mean, for us to admire that girl’s derrière? Vic said he didn’t even notice Mimi’s derrière. Vic is a big fat liar.) At intermission I went to the back of the theater, where Mom was sitting with Betty and Manford, and dragged them up to sit near us, as there were lots of empty seats in the front. They loved the improved view, but Manford was disappointed that Mimi had changed from her derrière-emphasizing blue pants into a loose-fitting dress. Apparently he had noticed Mimi’s derrière along with me and Lori. But not Vic. Remember, Vic did not even notice.

After the show we all talked about how the cast’s energy was absolutely infectious. Seeing the performance live was a huge difference from watching it on DVD, and I’m already looking forward to seeing it again and again and again. I enjoyed it so much more than I expected to, and I fully intended to love it. The message and power of Rent simply consumed us in the best possible way. It was incredible.


Jun. 27: Don’t get too attached, Mary

gilly062709 Gilly’s here to stay with us for a couple weeks. Vic, Jen, Katie and Jack are thrilled! Scout, Casey and Millie? Not so much. Gilly’s big and loud and takes our attention away from the critters who live here. But we love Gilly, so the critters who live here just need to adjust.

I know he’ll have a good time staying with us while Mom’s in Colorado, even though he’ll miss her tons. Mom’s had Gilly for over a year now and the two of them have definitely bonded. He adores her, and they communicate really well—people comment on it all the time.

My grandma recently told Mom it was neat how she and Gilly are such good pals but she was concerned. “Why?” Mom asked. Grandma replied, “Because he’s gonna die someday.”

The old bat’s a real Pollyanna, huh?


Jun. 27: Not *this* victim

Not to make light of this news item, but I feel I should clarify that the unidentified stabbing victim in the story was not Jennifer Manullang. Remember, I don’t need anyone’s help getting stabbed.

But even more importantly, isn’t this scary? That stuff like this happens in the ‘burbs? Specifically, my ‘burbs?

Stabbing victim found wandering Clackamas parking lot, bleeding

At-large suspect may be 'armed and dangerous'

04:43 PM PDT on Saturday, June 27, 2009

By BILL GALLAGHER, Kgw.com Staff

CLACKAMAS, Ore. -- A late-night stabbing in Clackamas left one man in critical condition with multiple wounds, a suspect on the loose and a blood-smeared parking lot in the shadow of Interstate 205, according to sheriff’s deputies.

Clackamas County Sheriff's deputies got the call about 11 last night from 8868 SE Jannsen Road. They discovered a 35-year old man who'd been stabbed. 

The man had been wandering around the parking area, bleeding profusely, said Detective Jim Strovinck, a spokesperson for Clackamas Sheriff’s Office.

Ambulance crews stabilized the stabbing victim and transported him to OHSU in Portland.

He was conscious and breathing but listed in critical condition Saturday afternoon, Strovinck said.

A suspect in the stabbing was identified as Casey James Hatch, 30.

Hatch was wanted on first-degree assault charges and should be considered armed and dangerous, sheriff’s deputies said.

The stabbing victim was not immediately identified.


Jun. 27: Are you an Oregonian?

Here’s a forwarded forwarded forwarded forwarded e-mail I received today.

You probably live in Oregon if:

  • ...someone in a Home Depot store offers you assistance and they don’t work there
  • ...you’ve worn shorts, sandals and a parka at the same time
  • ...you’ve had a lengthy telephone conversation with someone who dialed the wrong number
  • ...you measure distance in hours
  • ...you know several people who have hit a deer more than once
  • ...you have switched from ‘heat’ to ‘A/C’ and back again in the same day
  • ...you install security lights on your house and garage but leave both doors unlocked
  • ...you can drive 75 mph through two feet of snow during a raging blizzard without flinching (applies to Central, Southern or Eastern Oregonians only)
  • ...you design your kid’s Halloween costume to fit over two layers of clothes or under a raincoat
  • ...driving is better in the winter because the potholes are filled with snow and ice
  • ...you know all four seasons: almost winter, winter, still winter, and road construction
  • ...you feel guilty throwing aluminum cans or paper in the trash
  • ...you know more than ten ways to order coffee
  • ...you know more people who own boats than air conditioners
  • ...you stand on a deserted corner in the rain waiting for the “Walk” signal
  • ...you consider that if it has no snow or has not recently erupted, it’s not a real mountain
  • ...you can taste the difference between Starbucks, Seattle’s Best, and Dutch Bros.
  • ...you know the difference between Chinook, Coho and Sockeye salmon
  • ...you know how to correctly pronounce Sequim, Puyallup, Abiqua, Issaquah, Oregon, Umpqua, Yakima and Willamette
  • ...you consider swimming an indoor sport
  • ...you know that Boring is a city and not just a feeling
  • ...you can tell the difference between Japanese, Chinese and Thai food
  • ...you never go camping without waterproof matches and a poncho
  • ...you have actually used your mountain bike on a mountain
  • ...you think people who use umbrellas are either wimps or tourists
  • ...you buy new sunglasses every year because you cannot find the old ones after such a long time

Not sure about all of these, but the Halloween costume? Definitely.


Jun. 26: Witness my awesome power

This is the latch on the right armoire door:

Armoire door latch


And this is the latch on the left armoire door after I fell against it yesterday:

Busted armoire door latch


Looks like my forehead’s super-strong. Explains the triangular cut on my FrankenBrow, no?

This morning I’m hurting much worse than I did yesterday.

  • While my left knee is no more swollen, it’s become incredibly painful. I can walk on it just fine—putting weight on it doesn’t increase the pain at all—but the minute I turn my knee or demi-plié, my mouth lets loose with a string of profanities the likes of which I haven’t uttered in an entire hour. I’m still confident that my knee’s not broken, but there must be some severe soft tissue damage in there.
  • One of my toes is also hurting quite a bit more than it was during my “this little piggie” exam yesterday. ‘Course, nothing much can be done for a broken or sprained toe so I’ve resorted to whining.
  • My right forearm, which I must have landed on in my graceful fall, is scraped, swollen and bruised and has a mysterious puncture wound. It’s possible that was caused by the fact that my bedroom floor has not been vacuumed since Christmas 2004.
  • And surprisingly, even though the anesthetic has worn off, my facial injury isn’t any more ouchie than it was last night. Except when I look in the mirror. It’s truly hideous. Ugh. The swelling has decreased but it’s still very bruised and red, and those blue stitches are standing out like, well, BLUE STITCHES.
  • As if the pain I inflict on myself isn’t enough, my arm feels like I got slugged, thank to the after-effects of the tetanus shot, which I believe gives me every right to curse the E.R. doctor even though he was perfectly nice. That’s what he gets for prescribing nothing more potent than Motrin. Because Motrin? WTF?

Many of my Facebook friends had excellent suggestions to prevent future accidents:

Advice from Facebook 'friends'

In keeping with Sheila’s advice, I ‘shopped myself into a helmet for a new Facebook profile pic and am seriously considering making it my new everyday real-life look:

 Helmeted Jen

Also, if anyone knows how I might be able to punch the incredibly injurious 2009 in its big fat face, please tell me.


Jun. 25: Call me FrankenJen

Trust me. As you read this post and think, over and over again, “When will this clumsiness ever end?” you can be sure that I am asking myself the very same question.

Today I was resting with a heating pad on my back—still dealing with the back pain from all the yard work—and heard the kids come in the front door after a day with their grandparents and cousins. I jumped up from the bed and immediately tripped on something and fell, hitting my forehead on the open armoire door on the way down. It hurt pretty bad, so I put my hand against my head and just stayed there on the floor for a bit. Katie came in and asked what was wrong and I assured her I was okay. To prove it, I started to stand up. I took my hand away from my head to find it full of blood.

I ran to the sink and Katie ran for Grandma. Once I got the blood cleaned up a little I could see two large cuts just below my eyebrow. I had landed on my knee and it, too, was quickly swelling.

Wellington said the cuts looked deep enough that I would probably need stitches, so Darlene called Vic and asked if he’d meet me (y’know, at our usual place) at the emergency room. They figured out the car situation and how Katie and Jack would get to their last swimming lessons tonight while I changed into regular clothes and started to realize how much worse I’d hurt myself than I first thought.

Surprisingly, the doctor didn’t think my knee was seriously injured. True, I can put weight on it without any pain, but it’s HUGE, and way worse than the facial lacerations, ouchie-wise. As for the cuts on my eyebrow, they required two stitches each—believe it or not, I’ve never needed stitches for an injury before this one—and because one cut was especially deep, the doctor irrigated it thoroughly, which made it swell up even more. Yay, now I look like I got punched. Hard.

While waiting for my tetanus shot at the end, I had Vic take a picture of my eye. I had no idea it looked so awful. I mean, when I left home it was a little swollen but I had cleaned it up pretty well, so you could just see the outlines of the cuts. This was a HUGE difference. The stitches—done with blue thread, so I guess I’ll be coordinating my clothing with BLUE THREAD for the next week—were bad, but the swelling, the betadine, the bruising, the horror! I was shocked. I laughed so hard I started crying, and a nurse came and shut my door so other patients wouldn’t freak out that I’d gone cuckoo for cocoa puffs.

Here’s a picture of my eye repair. I’m showing you a teeny tiny preview and you have the option of clicking it to get a better look. Because I’m warning you—it’s oozy and stitchy and gross.

Click to see the up close and personal view of my latest injury

If you really feel bad for me and my extreme clumsiness, please leave your sympathies with a casserole in a comment. Because even injured girls need to eat.


Jun. 25: Witty twitters

twitter A couple of the entertainment-y blogs I follow regularly post a collection of celebrity twitters and I think they’re annoying as hell because most of these celebrities think they’re being funny but they’re not. Most of them need more than 140 characters to adequately express their true humor, or maybe they just need script writers. Or maybe they’re not trying to be funny at all. That could be it.

Of the celebrity twitterers I actually follow—the ones who are really, truly, who they claim to be—I think Jim Gaffigan is my favorite (duh). The other is Rainn Wilson (Dwight on The Office), who is probably more consistently funny than most celebrity twitterers, and even that is questionable; lately he re-tweets more than he writes original stuff.

Rather than share a boring collection of twitters from people you’ve heard of, I’m going to share a collection of amusing twitters from people you’ve probably never heard of. They’re way, way cooler. Links go to their twitter pages, where you can add them to your “follow” list. You shall not regret it.

Here are some of my favorite tweets from the past couple months.

gknauss Where would we be without big family gatherings? Some place happier, is my guess. Maybe we'd be taking a nap.

KatyDidSays Nephew threw a rock on my foot. I didn't punch him, but I did spike his juice with vodka. We'll see how he likes walking into walls.

secretsquirrel To the next guy who finds the cool telescope I fashioned out of toilet-roll cardboard tubes in the bathroom: you're welcome.

CcSteff Niece pops up from behind a chair and says "Here I am." Teaching her to follow it up with "Rock you like a hurricane."

strutting Point a gun at one person and you're a gunman. Menace 20 people with a churro and the damned local news still won't call you a churroman.

essdogg Only one thing could make me anti-gay marriage: David Gest outing himself and marrying Perez Hilton. Just imagine their poodles. *shudder*

fireland Woke up early and went for a run. Never thought I'd write those words but I also never thought the cops would find my meth lab.

secretsquirrel Blessed are the meek, for where the hell else would I get my lunch money.

jimgaffigan Ever seen someone on a unicycle and not wanted to push them over?

essdogg Boy: "I want candy." Me: "How about raisins?" Boy: "How about candy?" Dear Science: I believe I have isolated the smartass gene.

meowrey Lady walking behind me kept saying, "Good girl, good girl," over and over. I know she was probably talking to her dog, but I feel affirmed.

lonelysandwich I admire your healthy lifestyle. Which sort of makes me just as healthy as you, so get over yourself.

Moltz Came to the office clean-shaven for the first time in years. People were surprised. Mostly by the chaps, but how else would I show it off?

thedayhascome I've noticed the neighbor watch me undress and each time I think he's about to let me in, he opens the window and punches me off the ladder.

secretsquirrel Wasabi & toothpaste: it's like a party in my mouth and someone vomited in the lounge, then killed a stripper with a rake. Trust me on this.

essdogg If my wife didn't want me using the guest bathroom she shouldn't have made it so damn tranquil.

emilybrianna No matter how hard I try to make this the most traumatic event our family has ever endured, Quinn thinks his head lice are HILARIOUS.

fireland OK don't freak out, but someone broke into the house, ate all the ice cream, smashed that picture of your mother, and didn't do the dishes.

Moltz Karen: He had the dog locked in the basement and was spraying him with water through the cat door! Me: Ha-ha! [pause] Uh, I mean, *Hank!*

Moltz I'm *sorry*, ma'am, but if you don't want me to say "suck" around your child might I suggest you not dress him in a Yankees shirt. [Please replace “Yankees” with your own very hated team. –Jen]

gordonshumway I just ate a McGriddle and drank a large McCafe iced coffee, so I should be enjoying my first McAneurysm before lunch.

robcorddry Watching both kids. When people say "they grow up so fast" I want to slap them right in their bad memory.

Fine, you’re still interested in celebrity twitterers? You can find a whole bunch of ‘em at CelebrityTweet.


Jun. 24: Words, words and more words

dictionary ‘Member Sniglets? They were, like, THE thing for a little while back in the 80’s, thanks to Rich Hall and HBO’s Not Necessarily The News. Sniglets are words that belong in the dictionary but aren’t—words like todlitter (food debris residing under a high chair following an attempted feeding) and meganegabar (the line one draws after writing the amount on a check, to prevent the recipient from adding “and a million dollars”) and ignoranus (a person who’s both stupid and an asshole).

Sniglets were/are awesome. There’s probably a better word to describe them than “awesome,” but I don’t have a single one of the ten Sniglet books that were published way back when, so we’re going with “awesome.” Sorry.

Why do I mention these made-up words? Because in my last post I used the word-that’s-not-a-word “funner” and Lovely Lori H called me on it. She’s a total editor-snob, and that makes her way cool until I have to start defending my own word usage. When I told her that “funner” is a perfectly cromulent word, I GOT HER.

(What? You’ve never heard the word “cromulent” either? What is WRONG with you??? I mean, if you don’t watch The Simpsons, how do you know what to think about religion and politics? Gah.)

Some made-up words become such a part of our popular culture that we forget they’re not even real. I don’t mean words like “orientate” or “irregardless” or “supposably” or “whole ‘nother.” Those are letters that don’t belong together and that only friggin’ morons think are actual words. I’m talking about words like “Jazzercise” and “smackdown” and “hottie” and “unibrow.” These are words that have been added to English language dictionaries in recent years.

Cracked.com published a list of their top 12 most memorable words and phrases first heard on The Simpsons, some of which are now recognized by Webster’s. Kinda scary, huh? (Some of my favorites that didn’t quite make the list: debigulator, disembowelingest, embiggen, sacrilicious, Jeebus, shutterbuggery, and yoink. We use several of these on a regular basis in our household, along with fab phrases like “you can’t win friends with salad” and “Marge, honey-fräulein, I'm home.” Now don’t you wish you lived with us? It’s a laugh a minute, I tells ya.)

That list led me to a blog called Wordlustitude and it contains such fabulousness, I just can’t keep it to myself. My fellow word-lovers will enjoy it too, I’m sure.

Mark Peters (better known as wordlust on Twitter) is a language columnist for Good, a euphemism-collector for Visual Thesaurus, a blogger for Oxford University Press, and a Contributing Editor for Verbatim: The Language Quarterly. He has written about language for The Boston Globe, The Chronicle of Higher Education, Esquire, The Funny Times, Good, Mental Floss, and Nerve. This blog is a growing dictionary of ephemeral words, also known as nonce or stunt words. All readers are strongly encouraged to use these terms (here's the index) in their blogs, poems, prophecies, and recipes.

If the first page of Mr. Peters’ posts don’t grab you, check out some of the links in his sidebar. I think he’s my new favorite dude! (So sorry, Vic—we were good for a few years, though.)


Jun. 23: Great Wolf Lodge trip report

Great Wolf Lodge As I mentioned in a previous post and have been status-updating about in Facebook for several days, we went to Great Wolf Lodge at Grand Mound this past weekend. If you don’t know about Great Wolf Lodge, it’s a “northwoods-themed” chain of indoor water parks. The one in Washington state (Centralia) opened last year.

Darlene arranged for all of us to spend a couple days at GWL while Sonya and the kids are in the states. Ted brought Alec and Abby down from Seattle and the rest of us drove up from Portland. We had three room reservations and had already decided they would be divided into snoring and non-snoring; Sonya and I stayed with Julianne, Katie and Abby, while the boys and Darlene/Grandma stayed in the rooms across the hall.

Turns out Abby shoulda stayed across the hall. But it’s okay; we love her even if she’s as loud as Grandpa.  :)

There are “special” rooms at GWL that are almost Disney-like in their efforts to carry the woodsy theme throughout the decor. Fortunately there are also regular (read: affordable) rooms, which sleep six people and are quite spacious. We snuck a peek at the themed rooms on our way out of the resort our last day and they’re really very cute. Katie and Jack have already decided we’ll be staying in one of those next time.

The GWL experience reminded me a lot of the Disney cruise, and not just because I was seasick. I love the idea of spending a vacation at a place you never really need to leave—there are restaurants, stores, all sorts of activities, and a spa on site. There are activity areas for all different age groups, and the water park has a lot of different types of water slides, pools, hot tubs, play areas, etc. It’s definitely family-oriented.

One of my favorite parts of the trip had nothing to do with my family or really, even Great Wolf Lodge. My friend Sheila (oh she of occasional commenting fame here at Stuff Jen Says) lives about 20 minutes from the resort, so she came over and hung out with me for a few hours. We hadn’t seen each other in person for nine years or so, and there was a lot of catching up to do. It was great fun. Not Great Wolf Lodge fun, but funner.

We’ll definitely go back to Great Wolf Lodge someday; the kids had a blast in the water park and overall we really loved the resort. I was impressed at how clean and well-maintained it was. Of course, there were a few things I’d change if they asked me, but for the most part they all have to do with one big thing: MagiQuest.

magiquest There’s a game that—I swear—every kid in the place was playing. They all ran around with “magic” wands that activated otherwise stationary and QUIET objects throughout the resort. Ted said his kids had played it on their last visit and that MagiQuest is actually kinda fun, but we gave OUR kids the excuse that we didn’t have enough time to complete the quest because we are the worst parents in the world, or so they told us with their crossed arms and frowny faces.

“So, Grouchy Jen,” you ask, “why did the MagiQuest wands drive you insane?” Well, I eventually stopped counting the number of times I got wand-jabbed by kids running past me to get to their next challenge. I was also freaked out by how many times kids pointed them at me, as though I was part of the game. WTF??? But it was mostly the jabbing. I did not like the jabbing. I think the MagiQuest slogan should be “It’s always fun until someone loses an eye,” but it would probably be less popular with the parents that way.

(Oh lord, I just stumbled across a web site for MagiQuest. Looks like the kiddie version of Dungeons & Dragons. If you look at the site, note the four kids at the top of the page, all pointing their wands and smiling? That’s not real. No kid smiles while they point their wand. They point their wand like they have something to prove, especially when jabbing me in my already plenty-injured body.)

One of the large crowd-attracting parts of the *&%$@# MagiQuest game was situated at the entrance to the second floor guest rooms, called the Pixie something-or-other. I made up my own name for it, which is not something I can print here in this family-friendlyish blog. Anyway, if you were directing a stab-happy kid to the Pixie Pleasure Center or whatever, here’s what you’d tell that kid: “Go to the door of room #2004; turn around and there is the Pixie Palace [or whatever]. Or go to room #2007 and take one step to the left and there you’ll find the Pixie Poopdeck [or whatever].” Why do I mention this? Because two of our three rooms were #2004 and #2007. Apparently the check-in desk folk thought we looked like nice, family-loving people (which we are) who don’t mind shoving our way through jabbing hordes of unsupervised booger-eaters to get to our rooms (which we do).

THANK THE GREAT WOLF, the MagiQuest game ends at 9:00 every night.

There was one part of MagiQuest that made me hee-haw. While I was waiting for Sheila in the lobby, one of the pictures on the wall behind me kept coming alive. It was some mystical bad-ass wolf that the kids were supposed to fear, so it spoke in a scary voice and its eyes lit up like it had rabies. It made several different short speeches, and I swear to the aforementioned Great Wolf, every time it said “wolf,” it pronounced it “woof.” I even went and stood right next to it to make sure I was hearing it correctly (which, now that I think about it, might be why kids thought I was part of the show).

So I was supposed to be super scared when he roared, “If I stalk you, your days are numbered, for I am the woof in the stars!” but y’know, a wolf that calls himself a “woof” isn’t so intimidating.

If you get the chance, go to Great Wolf Lodge. But remember, you’ve been warned about the evil that lurks within.


Jun. 23: Pause for a moment

I love these social experiment things. You’ve gotta watch these two videos, made in very busy train stations.


This Sound of Music one’s been shared everywhere, but in case you’ve missed it, here ya go. Makes me smile every time.


Jun. 23: Tuesday morning business

  • I thought I had our network and Internet connection all fixed, but now it’s giving me grief again. The network randomly stops broadcasting, it seems, and if it is broadcasting, the Internet connection doesn’t seem very stable. There has been much cursing ‘round here while I’ve been trying to fix it.
  • We went to Great Wolf Lodge this past weekend. It was a lot of fun and I plan to publish my thorough trip report later today.
  • The kids are in their second week of swimming lessons now. Katie’s in Level E and loves it; when I told her she didn’t need to take any more lessons after this, she was disappointed. I’m hoping she’s not going to purposely fail the class just to be able to take it again. Jack, on the other hand, thinks swimming lessons are a complete bore. Although he’s doing better now than he has in years past, it’s still a challenge for him to keep his face in the water for more than three strokes. Yesterday he asked what “treading water” meant when Katie mentioned it. I hope the reason he doesn’t know is because they use a cuter name for it in class, because he’s taken enough lessons that he ought to freakin’ know how to tread water by now. The kid’s definitely going to have a major water mishap someday, to be sure.

    The pool we go to has a zero-entry. If we’re watching Jack swim in after his lesson, he loves to repeatedly fall down and act like he’s struggling to get to shore. Ultimately he lays down in the inch-deep water and moans. It’s all quite amusing, as you can imagine, but having an audience is the key—and the huge grin on his face is the giveaway that he’s goofing off. Yesterday he told me “I like to pretend all the water is blood and I’m laying in blood and I’m all bloody and almost dead of the blood.” All of a sudden this whole routine seems way less neat-o to Mommy. Boys are so weird.
  • Katie went to a sleepover birthday party yesterday and it’s time to pick her up. It ought to be fun dealing with a grouchy girl who didn’t get much sleep last night with her friends, nor the night before with her cousins. Wish me luck.

More later if I can get this Interwebby thing working.


Jun. 21: Don’t even reply

Admit it. Every once in a while you read a classified ad and are sooo tempted to reply with some kind of smartass comment. Well, here’s a guy who actually does reply, and he shares the conversations that follow on his web site, Don’t Even Reply – Emails from an Asshole. Here’s how he describes the purpose of this very important work:

This is a collection of e-mails I have sent to people who post classified ads. My goal is to mess with them, confuse them, and/or piss them off. These are the ones that succeeded.

Is that awesome, or what? You gotta read some of these; they’re hilarious. Warning, though: extreme potty language. Check out How Did She Know? and Kittens for My Tiger.


Jun. 21: Happy Father’s Day, Victor!

In a perfect world, where there is no limit to our imagination or bank account, these are the gifts we would choose for the dad in our house.

Katie chooses…

“The Mariners baseball team, because Dad loves them.”

“A German Shepherd, because it would remind Dad of the dogs he had when he was little.”

“A Homer Simpson doll, because Dad thinks Homer is funny.”

Jack chooses:

“An Indiana Jones hat—and one for me, to match—because Dad would make a good Indy.”


“Another Wii baseball game, because he’s really good at baseball and he would like this game.”


“A cool convertible, because Dad would look good driving me around in it.”

Jen chooses:

“A vacation, preferably a Disney cruise. Vic needs the excuse to relax and enjoy himself, and this is a fun place to do it. I’m kinda hoping he would invite me along. Kids? Maybe.”

“An honest-to-gosh landscaping service so Vic wouldn’t have to do all our yard work himself. The guy in this picture looks like a hard worker, but I’d feel like a better wife if I got a woman in a bikini to do all the work.”

“Speaking of being a good wife, I’d get Vic a good wife. He could really use one, the poor guy.”

Happy Father’s Day, honey! We all love you very, very much.


Jun. 19: A wee Wii question

“Wee Wii” = hee hee.

wiiWe surprised Katie and Jack with a Nintendo Wii this week and they instantly decreed we were the best parents EVER. I think our neighbors are possibly the most grateful of all because it means our kids will invade their homes less often and really, who would want Jack around all the time? He’s loud and stinky. We can barely stand him in our own house.

The Wii console comes with Wii Sports, which Victor is enjoying a little bit too much. I’ve seen very little of him after the kids’ bedtime because he finally gets the Wii to himself and doesn’t have to let the kids win every game. Also, he’s getting winded at the Wii bat and I’m worried about his real heart. But I checked, and our life insurance is all paid up so, y’know, whatevs.

We also bought Lego Indiana Jones because Jack is insane for all things Lego and Indiana Jones. Also, he kept asking to go over to some kid’s house for a play date but finally admitted he just wanted some time to play the game. We thought having our own Wii was a better option than calling some parent we don’t know to ask if our kid can spend time at their kid’s house. Jack loves the Wii version of the game (he’s mastered the DS version) and is excited to try out the other Lego Wii games too.

Katie’s first game choice was Wii Play, which is mostly just fun practice for using the Wii remote in all possible ways other games may require. It’s a fun assortment of activities, though—there’s a game similar to air hockey that I love, and I rocked on the fishing one. (Clearly, action games are not my thing. Give me Scrabble any day.)

So, my question is this: what are the big Wii hits at your house, and why? We want to add to our collection of games but would like some variety and are hoping for suggestions from other Wii owners. Please leave your advice in a comment. Thanks!


Jun. 19: Berry, berry good

The Lovely Lori H invited us to go strawberry-picking this week. Hood strawberries are ready and they are delicious! I think this description of the little beauties says it all:

“The reason I love summer in Oregon can be summed up in two words: Hood strawberries. This is the strawberry that all other strawberries aspire to be. Their flavor is so intensely sweet and luscious it might cause you to wonder why have you wasted your tastebuds on those rubbery, bland, pseudo-strawberries from elsewhere.” (Lisa Sedlar, President, New Seasons Market)

The season for Hood strawberries is short, so it was important we go right away to get them at their best. Fortunately, there’s a u-pick field nearby (in Boring) and they opened their fields Wednesday. (There are so few u-pick fields around anymore; not sure why. And geez, what I would have given to NOT have u-pick fields everywhere 30+ years ago.)

berries Yesterday Sonya (Victor’s sister), Julianne and Jacob (her kids) joined us to gather up a feast’s worth of berries. It didn’t take too long, which is a good thing, because conversation in our group was quickly taking a downhill turn by the time we were done. Lori was quite sure the word “scrotum” had never been uttered so many times in a strawberry field. She also suggested that, along with pre-weighing our containers, they should have pre-weighed our kids—Parker really, really likes fresh strawberries and Riley really, really liked to announce to the field whenever he ate one. Katie and Jack mostly just screamed about the ones shaped like butts and kept asking why we were there because they don’t even like strawberries, even though neither of them has ever tried one. And Jake demonstrated some fine strawberry throwing techniques, which Jack immediately tried to imitate. It looks like next fall will be spent un-learning all the naughty habits Jacob plans to share with his young, impressionable cousin this summer.

Lori got busy cleaning up her berries and made batches of jam yesterday afternoon. I was not quite so ambitious; my back hurt from all that bending and crawling through the rows so I waited until today to get to ours. This morning I filled a huge bowl with de-stemmed berries and now they’re just waiting to be dealt with. I’m thinking strawberry shortcake, using Sherilee’s shared recipe, and milkshakes for sure. I’ll probably freeze quite a few too. But for starters, I ate a handful with some whipped cream. Nummers.


Jun. 19: I am not a Luddite

…but I was hating technology today. I did yesterday, too, and the day before.

I upgraded my iPhone software and our Internet connection died. While I doubt the two events are connected, they did happen at the same time and I find that highly suspect. After running around the house and checking all the computersrepair, I finally decided the problem was with our router. I bought a new one last night and went through the set-up with the highest of hopes. Did it work? Did we get reconnected?

Hay-ull no.

In desperation, I called tech support and explained my problem, admitting that I was pretty sure it was something I had done wrong. The guy—who was in Beaverton, not India, believe it or not—assured me that he knew exactly what was happening and could fix it for me remotely because IT WASN’T MY FAULT AT ALL. And that’s exactly what he did. And it took every bit of restraint I could muster not to offer to have his babies.

Jim, at Comcast in Beaverton? I love you.

Now that I’m back online I can catch up on everything I’ve been unable to do for the past few days. Watch this space for more updates soon. Oh, and the coolest thing about the iPhone upgrade? Now I can sync my Outlook notes. I’m sure you’re relieved to know this.


Jun. 16: Book recommendation

belongtome I’m always in the middle of a book, it seems, but it’s not very often that one stands out so far from the constant stream, one that I enjoy so much I’m sorry to finally finish reading. Belong to Me, by Marisa de los Santos, was that book.

Laura, a former classmate with whom I’ve reconnected on Facebook this year, recommended Belong to Me in a status update last month and I eagerly added it to my list, hoping that she might have similar taste in books. Now that I’ve read it, I have this to say: yay, Laura! I think what I loved most about the book was the author’s writing style—very poetic, but without being high brow, like she was trying to impress us. She described people and situations and emotions with such clarity, and by using a wide variety of adjectives (none of which I think I ever needed my dictionary), that it was impossible not to form clear pictures in my mind as I made my way through the story.

The plot itself was appealing, too, featuring a “perfect” young couple starting their family in the suburbs, a newcomer to town with a son and a huge secret, a snobby neighbor with ridiculously high standards, a woman dying of cancer amid her devoted family and best friend; all of them are well developed characters who interact in ways that ultimately make them realize they belong to each other. The chapters take turns telling the not always likeable characters’ stories, with a minimum of overlap. Sometimes a story told in different voices can get confusing, but in my opinion, de los Santos managed it very well.

Cornelia, the primary character in Belong to Me, is also in Marisa de los Santos’ first novel, Love Walked In. I didn’t know that until I had almost finished reading Belong to Me. If you’re big on reading things in sequence, you’ll want to read Love Walked In first. 

Belong to Me was a delightful read. If you’re looking for a heartwarming-almost-to-the-point-of-being-sappy story of family, friends and love, I would definitely recommend it. It made me smile.


Jun. 16: Plinky ~ old movie

Today’s Plinky prompt:

What's your favorite movie that was made before you were born?

Explain what makes this oldie a goodie.

My all-time favorite movie was made 14 years before I was born; it’s White Christmas, released in 1954. Why is it my favorite movie? Because it’s awesome. How can you top “Sisters” as performed by Rosemary Clooney and a voice-overed Vera-Ellen (unless it was performed by me and Kathy, of course)? Or “Sisters” as performed by Bing and Danny in drag? My other favorite song in the movie is “Love, You Didn’t Do Right By Me.” And yes, the movie’s Christmas songs are pretty darn good too.

The Sound of Music (1965) is definitely a close second.

And lest you think I’m just a sucker for old movies, I ain’t. I hated Holiday Inn (1942), It’s a Wonderful Life (1946) and The Wizard of Oz (1939). I know, that probably makes me some kind of unpatriotic something-or-other. Meh.

What’s your favorite movie from before you were born?


Jun. 14: The word clouding of Stuff Jen Says

Have you heard of Wordle? Here’s how the site describe what it does:

Wordle is a toy for generating “word clouds” from text that you provide. The clouds give greater prominence to words that appear more frequently in the source text. You can tweak your clouds with different fonts, layouts, and color schemes. The images you create with Wordle are yours to use however you like. You can print them out, or save them to the Wordle gallery to share with your friends.

Here’s an example, using the lyrics of Mary Had a Little Lamb (click the image).

Click for a larger view

I’ve run my blog through Wordle a number of times in the past, to extremely uninteresting results. The thing is, it only uses the first page of the blog, which is ten days of posts here at Stuff Jen Says. If my entire blog could be used, I’m sure the most frequent words seen in the word cloud would not be things of which I would be very proud. Phrases like “bastard jackasses,” “everyone’s stupid but me,” and “I broke my foot again” would be huge. HUGE.

I was kind of surprised when I created a Wordle word cloud today and the most frequently used words from my past ten days’ posts were not “bruise” or “Guess how I hurt myself today?” In fact, I was surprised at what the largest word was—look for yourself:


Maybe I’m not such a negative Nelly after all. Or maybe Wordle is just a lying bastard jackass.



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