Feb. 26: Stupidity and failure

You know what sucks? I’ll tell ya.

What sucks is promising my daughter I’ll make an American Girl doll outfit for her cousin’s birthday and then trying to make it and ending up wanting to throw the sewing machine across the room, because it keeps getting stuff caught because I can’t thread the bobbin correctly because I’m borrowing my mother-in-law’s sewing machine because mine isn’t working and I’m too lazy to take it in to have it serviced because I don’t use my sewing machine often enough to even remember that it needs to be serviced until I go to use it.

That’s what sucks.

No, wait. I forgot one part. What also sucks is taking my daughter shopping at the fabric store and finding the perfect combination of fabrics, appliqués, buttons, and accessories, and none of it is on sale because the universe hates my guts, so I pay full price for everything, and as I leave the store I wonder why I didn’t just go over yonder to Toys R Us and buy a friggin’ pre-made outfit. Then I wonder that the whole way home and for many days afterward.

There’s more.

I bought enough extra of all the materials so I could make one of these adorable outfits for my daughter to have to match her cousin’s, and maybe even enough to make the same outfit for her other cousin too. Because wouldn’t that be so precious, all three girls having the same outfits for their American Girl dolls? Yes, yes, it’s a lovely and lofty dream. And I am an idiot.

Then there’s the fact that I waited until the last possible moment to start the actual sewing of the outfit because there were too many other things going on earlier in the week and I’ve been very, very tired. That might be the worst part of the whole thing. Well, besides the idea in the first place. They don’t get much stupider than that.

And besides the anger at myself (mostly) over the suckiness of this whole thing, it’s also made me feel like a complete and utter failure that because I can’t thread a bobbin—on a machine I’ve used before without any problem—I am quite possibly the worst mom and auntie in the whole world. It’s true.

Also making me miserable this evening? My teeth. They hurt. I’m going to bed.

And if you need me, I’ll be at Toys R Us as soon as it opens in the morning.


Feb. 26: Chemo #5 photos

I updated my previous post to include a couple of the photos April shared of our day in the infusion room earlier this week. Go to the end of the post to see the pics, and watch for more when Lisa sends me hers.

I’ve said it before and you’ll never get me to shut up about it, I’m quite sure: I HAVE THE BEST FRIENDS EVER! smiley


Feb. 24: Broadway in Portland 2010/11

I just got an email announcing the 2010/11 Broadway in Portland series. Here’s the lineup:

So… we’re not sure if we’re going to renew for next season. Usually there are at least two shows in the package we’re DYING to see, and while there are a few here that I wouldn’t mind seeing, there’s nothing that stands out as ★spectacular.★ We’ve got some time to decide before we have to surrender our seats.


Feb. 24: Chemo #5 (updated)

I have the best friends in the whole world, I tell ya what. Yesterday Lisa Ross Nicholson and April Knudson Jordan, two friends from high school, joined us in the infusion room to watch me get poisoned. I think they were there to cheer me on, not the poisoning part, because they came bearing hugs and other treats that made it seem like they like me. That’s what I choose to believe, anyway.

Lisa arrived first with a goody bag of trashy magazines and a small grocery store. She had tons of candy, potato chips and Chex mix, and these blueberry pomegranate granola pistachio I-don’t-know-what nuggets that were scrum-dilly-umptious. Lisa knows how to treat a cancer girl right. The magazines kept us occupied, and we are totally up-to-date now on Tiger’s infidelities, the Olympics, how to touch a naked man (thank you, Cosmo), Celine Dion’s infertility problems, and Carrie Underwood’s engagement to that Neanderthal-looking hockey player. Ask us anything.

April’s bags were also cram-packed with delightful items. Having just returned from a weekend at the Olympic games, she had goofy Canadian candy treats as far as my hands could reach. Canadian Pop Rocks (Power Poppers), Maynards Juicy Squirts Sours, Wonka Tinglerz (we thought these sounded like chocolate covered Pop Rocks because the package says “poppin’ tinglin’ chocolate candy,” but they were actually Nestle Crunch things—still good, but not exactly tingly), and Smarties—the M&M kind. I’d never tasted the Canadian Smarties, and while I like the color varieties, the candy-to-chocolate ratio is enough different than M&Ms that I didn’t think they were better, necessarily, just different. Still totally edible, of course. OF COURSE.

April had also made a recent trip to Seattle’s Archie McPhee, one of the coolest stores EVER, and here’s what she got for me there: Bacon Balm (bacon flavored lip balm), Bacon Flavored Toothpicks, Cupcake Mints (frosting flavored!), and best of all: HANDERPANTS! I finally have Handerpants! In case you didn’t know, Handerpants are just about the coolest thing EVER. I don’t know why; they just are. And that’s what I was wearing under my awesome Olympics mittens in my last post—so sorry to disappoint you, Sherilee—nothing bling-ier than that. smiley

These are Handerpants. Why? Just cuz.

And, of course, the big surprise was my Olympics mittens. Sooo cool, that April girl. Because I just can’t resist showing them off and I’ll use any excuse to make you jealous, here’s the photo again:

I know you're jealous.

Just as I got unhooked from my IV and we were ready to leave, April’s mom came in to say hello. It was a nice little surprise to see her too! We crowded up the chemo room right good, yes we did.

It makes me more than a little bit teary to think of all my friends have done for me during this time. I am so appreciative of you all and I hope surviving cancer is enough to let you see how much you have helped and how much I love you right back. I do!

OK, now on to the boring medical stuff…

My blood work “looked great” as usual, according to Dr. O, and she said everything is progressing exactly as we had hoped. The rash on my neck and chest went away and came back, but there’s little concern. I don’t like it but at least it doesn’t bother me, except for looking like I might have chicken pox or possibly bad, localized acne. Pffft.

The next item on my cancer calendar is a CT scan of OJ on March 11 to see if he’s still hanging around. The interpretation of the scan will determine if I go for a seventh and eighth chemotherapy treatment. If not, #6 on March 16 will be my last one. I’ll be glad when I’m finished, but I want it to be because OJ’s totally gone, so if I have to continue on for a bit with chemo, I’m alright with that.

I start physical therapy next Monday in hopes of re-strengthening my back muscles that have suffered greatly in the past year. If they suggested hours of hot tub therapy I would not complain a bit. In fact, I might have to ask if that’s a thing. It should totally be a thing.

That’s it on the cancer front. I’m still having a bit of a rough go energy-wise, but on my best days I’m able to get out of the house for a few hours if I absolutely must. Otherwise I’m sticking close to my comfy-cozy critter-covered bed with good books or Law & Order marathons. Those marathons are always calling my name, you know. You hear it too, right?



April emailed a couple chemo day photos. I’ll add Lisa’s here when she sends ‘em.

IV Pole Dancin' girls, Lisa-Jen-Ape
The IV Pole Dancin’ Girls—Lisa, Jen and April

 Jen and Vic
Eyebrow-less Me and Victor, with the very cool bag April brought back from Vancouver for me (filled with Canadian treats and Archie McPhee goodies!!). I love how my gigantic bicep is so… gigantic.


Feb. 23: Mitten geek

During the Olympics’ opening ceremonies I coveted the torch bearers’ mittens—the ones with the Olympic logo on one side and the maple leaf on the palm, remember? I looked into ordering a pair right away, but they were sold out everywhere online. I didn’t try eBay, but yes, I’m sure they can be found there for a pretty penny. Then I started browsing around the ‘net and found tons of reports on these mittens being THE hot souvenir item and people are FA-REAKING OUT to get their hands on/in a pair or ten. Here’s a Today Show video about the high demand for these fab mittens (apologies for the brief Kathie Lee moments—they’re horrific, as all Kathie Lee moments are, but I couldn’t cut her out).

April texted me the other day on her way up to Vancouver and asked if there was anything Canadian she could pick up for me. If Jack had been home, he would’ve begged for Mountain Dew (it’s non-caffeinated in Canada, which is reason enough for him to want to live there). Instead, I asked her just to keep an eye out for the red mittens, though I was sure she wouldn’t be able to find any.

Imagine my surprise when April tossed a pair in my lap this afternoon! I couldn’t believe it! She said they’d gone to The Bay downtown and there was a line around the block, so they went to a smaller store where they found a much shorter line—and a ton of mittens! They got a pair for everyone in the family. Sadly, Emma lost one of hers while they watched the women’s aerials event. The Jordans now own seven total mittens, and now I have to hide mine when Emma visits, because as of this moment, my two are still safely in (or on, actually) my hands:

What am I wearing underneath these fine mittens? You’ll have to wait until tomorrow to find out!

Thank you, April, for nabbing me a pair. I LOVE THEM! I kinda sorta love you too. smiley


Feb. 23: Thirteen happy years

Today is our 13th wedding anniversary. I still feel lucky every day that I got to marry Victor, someone who makes me laugh so much and so often, someone who is more patient with me than I deserve, someone who has our engagement photo, 1996probably had pa-lenty of regrets in the past 13 years. Ha ha, Pal! Too bad—you’re stuck with me now! smiley

When we first got married, every night seemed like a slumber party. I couldn’t believe that I got to hang out with my best friend every night! I kept waiting for that feeling to wear off, but it still hasn’t. Laying next to each other, talking and giggling until we fall asleep… it’s the best. Sure, the excessive snoring has frequently made me question my love for him, but once my middle-of-the-night murderous rage has dissipated, I usually love him again by morning. Sometimes noon-ish.

It’s in the past year, as we’ve gotten answers for my ongoing health issues, that I’ve come to see exactly how strong my husband is, and what a perfect partner he is for me as we walk through my cancer fight together. I’m so thankful for all he does. He’s a good guy. I’m a lucky girl.

Two of the many, many snaps from our wedding reception:

We were both getting pretty tired of smiling by now We thought this part was the CORNIEST

And here’s my favorite picture from February 23, 1997:

Happy anniversary, honey! Here’s to many more happy years together! I love you best.


Feb. 22: Wear the ribbon

So, my sister got that ribbon tattoo a few weeks ago, remember? And we were all like, OMG, YOU’RE SO AWESOME, KATH! Except for Not-so-Loveliest Lori, who was all WAY TO MAKE ME LOOK BAD, NOW I HAVE TO HURT YOU OR AT LEAST SHORTSHEET YOUR BED WHEN YOU VISIT. We’re not sure why Lori turns to violence at times like that, but we’re gonna say it’s because cancer makes her THAT angry. And P.S., we’re a little scared of her too.

Brenda, Kari and I—whose three initials were part of Kathy’s tat—all felt honored beyond belief to be part of Kathy’s commitment to wearing the ribbon. Along with those who went through with the Brazilian bikini waxes, we’re definitely feelin’ the love. You guys are the best, really. And to those of you who don’t wear the ribbon or get your nethers waxed, we still think you’re mostly cool too.

Now Kim F’n is thinking about getting a tattoo similar to Kathy’s, and she wants the rest of us to get one with her. While still in the planning stages, we’ve already encountered some problems; first, we chemo gals can’t get tattooed while we’re in treatment, so we’ll have to be the hand-holders at the tattoo party. The other issue is that at least one tattooee apparently needs a permission slip from her mom, and that’s going to be impossible because her mom still hasn’t forgiven her for the other tattoo she has.

What we’re looking for, then, is anyone else who wants to wear the ribbon—Kim is gonna scoff at any more hand-holding offers; she wants other people to suffer WITH her. And we also need someone who can forge Mabel’s signature. Let us know if you’re in.


Feb. 21: All weekend warrior-like

Do you ever start a project and wonder, after you’ve been at it a while, WHAT WAS I THINKING? Me too!

This morning it was sunny and beautiful outside—warm, even, for February—and I was determined to spend at least part of it outside. The front yard needed some cleanup so I put on my yardwork clothes and got my little speakers set up so Train could accompany me. Train is a very good yardwork accompanist, FYI.

About ten minutes in, I began to curse myself for attempting a project so physically demanding. It wears me out to sit in a meeting these days, and I was doing yardwork??? I’m not very smart, am I? So I ended up taking lots of breaks. Train is a very good break accompanist, FYI. It took me way longer than it should have, but I got the yard cleaned up and it looks a lot better. If you can’t tell the difference, please keep it to yourself. Also, you’re mean.

Even more newsworthy, though, is that Victor and I filled up the back of the minivan with Goodwill donations. This was another task long overdue, but we managed to get rid of tons of the crap that’s been piling up in our garage for months. We also filled up our monster-sized recycle bin, clearing up even more space. It was good. It was hard work, but it was good.

It’s been such a long time since we’ve been outside for more than a few minutes at a time, but the past several days have been beautiful and sunny here. Even though we were working, it was lovely to be out in the fresh air. I noticed a lot of the trees in the neighborhood have begun to bud, and there’s new growth on many of the things we planted last spring. About 20 crocuses have bloomed, the vinca is coming back shiny and colorful, and now that I’ve cleaned up dead leaves and other messiness, there’s little indication that winter was ever here. I love it. We’re not going to think about the plants that didn’t make it through the cold. Nope.

I had forgotten how the cat goes bat-shiat crazy when we’re out in the yard with her. I don’t know if she’s showing off, or happy that we’re out there with her, or maybe she’s like that all the time. It’s hilarious. She’ll spend five minutes stalking a leaf, and then suddenly tear across the yard and “hide” in the vinca, then climb halfway up the tree and tear off across the street. Goofy kitty.

I took a very long nap this afternoon and right now am feeling like a big slug. I waaaay overdid it today, but I still feel good about getting lots accomplished so I don’t mind so much. Tomorrow, when you hear my cursing all the way to Nova Scotia, you have my permission to ask if I still feel good about overdoing it today. You can probably guess what my answer will be.


Feb. 19: Still Summer

stillsummer I don’t blog about every book I read, but sometimes I just have to talk about books after I’ve finished them. Tonight I finished reading Still Summer, by Jacquelyn Mitchard. This was my first Mitchard novel. For some reason I think of her books as a little more mainstream than I typically enjoy, which might be unfair, but I guess I’ve avoided them. I’ve got a couple other books of hers that have been given or loaned to me, and they’ve been collecting dust on my bookshelves for years. The only reason I have Still Summer is because my mom bought it last week and as soon as we left Barnes & Noble she realized she’d already read it so she handed it to me. (Pssst… I think she just didn’t want to carry it around the mall.)

I was pleasantly surprised to find that Mitchard is a fine writer—there were just a few times the flow seemed awkward, and it was most often because she used an odd/archaic word where a perfectly common one would have worked. It bugs me when authors do that very much because it’s easy to imagine them writing with a thesaurus in their lap, just to sound more vocabularily impressive than they are. How d’ya like that word? VOCABULARILY. It’s totally real.

A description from Publishers Weekly:

Bestselling Mitchard offers the harrowing tale of four women lost at sea and pitted against nature and a cohort of contemporary pirates. Tracy, Holly and Olivia have known each other since high school, when they were glamorous, popular troublemakers. Twenty-five years after graduation, the three women, plus Tracy's 19-year-old daughter, Camille, set out on a "reading, sunning, gossiping" trip aboard a luxe sailboat helmed by a two-man crew. But a storm leaves the women adrift with no sail or engine and their co-captains gone overboard. With limited sailing experience, failing radio equipment and a rapidly diminishing cache of food and water, the women are vulnerable to the worst threats the Caribbean can offer—the elements, sharks and, most troublesome, pirates. This fast-paced novel borrows qualities from several genres—suspense, survival epic, coming-of-age—and mostly succeeds in melding the better aspects of each, though Mitchard has a surer hand in creating women characters than men. Mitchard's fans will appreciate this high-stakes adventure.

I thought the story was well-woven and could easily see it made into a movie. It has “high seas thriller” written all over it, in fact. I found it hard to put down, so I made my kids skip dinner tonight. (What? They can eat tomorrow, when Mommy’s not reading.) Characters were well-developed, and the dialogue felt real. Those are two things I appreciate about authors’ efforts.

In many ways, the story could be described as Deliverance But With Women and In The Caribbean. Squealing like a pig was kept to a minimum, but there were definitely villains and heroes. The women’s survival instinct was strong and probably quite realistic. In a team-building exercise at work many years ago, we had to get ourselves rescued after a shipwreck, and my team died on the deserted island. You might want to make a note to yourself right now: never take Jen on a three-hour tour. ♫ A three-hour tour. ♪♫ I’ll be like Ginger; I’ll have a different outfit for every day but I won’t know the first thing about making a radio out of a coconut.

Still Summer isn’t the best or most fascinating book I’ve ever read, but I enjoyed it a lot more than I expected to. I was also glad to find that Jacquelyn Mitchard’s writing style isn’t awful, and I plan to un-shun more of her books in the future. Just don’t try to get me to read Deep End of the Ocean. Child abduction? No way. Never.


Feb. 19: Many things

The weather’s been gorgeous in Portland most of the week, and people are happy wherever you go. Don’t try to explain the calendar to me; I KNOW that spring is here and nothing—NOTHING!—will convince me otherwise. The crocuses have begun to bloom, and daffodils and tulips are popping up all over. Here’s just one of many things beginning to brighten our front yard:

Besides the weather, though, I’m feeling pretty crappy this week. I’ve actually been more nauseous this week than ever, oddly, and I have the weird acne-like rash again. I running on very little energy and I’m mourning the loss of my eyebrows—they are now officially and finally gone. There’s an awful lot to complain about when it comes to cancer, so I’m going to focus on the positives, briefly.

  • Showers take a LOT less time when you don’t have hair to wash.
  • No eyelashes means no mascara means I can cry freely and don’t need a mirror to fix myself afterward. Not that I spend a lot of time crying… certainly not while watching Olympians on the medal podiums… no way…
  • No eyebrows and no eyelashes pretty much means I put on a little lipstick and I’m good to go. My prep time in the mornings is considerably less. Of course, I look like a ghost and frighten children wherever I go, but at least I got out the door quickly to do it, right?
  • Naps.

That is all.

Last night Victor and I went to Legally Blonde: The Musical. It was cute, and VERY like the movie. The UPS guy was hilarious, the dogs were pretty darn good little actors, the actress playing Elle sounded a lot like Reese Witherspoon, and it was all big, sparkly, pink fun. A review of the soundtrack on Amazon compared it to Wicked (ha, not even!) and said the biggest difference was that the Legally Blonde soundtrack was better. “Whatev” is all I have to say to that. Don’t nobody be dissin’ my Wicked!

April and her fam are headed up to Vancouver today to absorb some of that Olympic-ness. They have tickets to a freestyle skiing (aerials) event. What a great memory for the kids! I’m super-duper jealous. Thankfully, she’ll be back in time to drive to Portland to accompany me at chemo on Tuesday. Hooray!

I can’t remember if I mentioned that we were going to go to Medford tomorrow, just for a quick overnight visit. Well, we decided not to go. The idea of packing all of us up, sitting in a car for 10+ hours, and dealing with my grandmother just wears me out. I feel bad, but I need to take care of myself, right? I got kind of a snotty note from Grandma last week and felt like I should try to set things right, but I honestly don’t think I have it in me. Also, it was snotty only because of her own refusal to listen to reason; she thinks I won’t LET her come to my house for a visit, when it’s actually that NOBODY wants her here, including herself! Mom can’t deal with her wheelchair on such a long trip, and Grandma either doesn’t remember or won’t admit that she’s always grouchy at my house because it’s so hard for her to get around. It’s easier for her, apparently,  to put it all on me. Oy.

The dogs have been napping on the couch since I came downstairs this morning, and I just noticed what Scout was cuddling with:


Two of my favorite things: the beagle and the TiVo remote. smiley

Time to go outside and enjoy some of that sunshine. It’s spring now, you know. It is! No really, it is! Stop saying it isn’t! I’m not listening to your negativity. I can’t hear you la la la la la la la la la…


Feb. 18: More Olympic fever

My obsession with this year’s Winter Olympics continues, and I confess it’s gotten even worse since I saw Shaun White’s gold medal performance on the halfpipe last night. Holler with me: Wow!

Stephen Colbert appeared with Bob Costas-bot and gave a hilarious interview. Be sure you watch until the very end, when Stephen gets out of his chair. Funny guy.

Twice, so far, they’ve played the Canadian national anthem at awards ceremonies. It’s hard to believe Canada had never won a gold medal on its own soil before this year, seeing as they’ve hosted twice before and usually have a pretty high number of athletes competing. That made it even more thrilling to watch the medals ceremony for moguls (Canadian Alexandre Bilodeau won gold). I don’t know all the words to the Canadian anthem, but I sang along anyway, bursting with pride on Canada’s behalf. If you’re interested, here’s the medal count.

Vancouver 2010's medals are unusual And speaking of medals, I hadn’t gotten a close look but they seemed a little odd from afar, warped even. Here’s a good article about their design. It’s always interesting to me to hear about how the medal style is chosen for each Olympics, especially when they end up being mocked. Another thing I wondered about is what’s in the bouquets they’re giving the medal winners this year—they don’t look all that pretty (IMO) but I figured they must be some kind of Canadian flora. Not so, according to this long, detailed explanation of how the bouquet elements were chosen. Instead, they are made up of greenhouse-grown green spider chrysanthemums, green hypericum berries and green aspidistra leaves. Maybe they’re prettier close-up than they look on TV??? I sure hope so. They seem a little blah.

Something else I’ve found interesting to read are editorials and blogs posted at The Vancouver Sun’s web site. They cover all sorts of Olympics-related topics. I like reading the locals’ opinions; they’re probably a lot more truthful than some of NBC’s reports on all things Canada. I keep waiting for posts about how they hate all the tourists or the hype or that stupid Americans all of a sudden wish they were Canadian (Jen wanders away, looking innocent…). Here are blogs written by Olympics insiders, which are also fun to read.

This video is for my Sunshine Girl—Michael Bublé (currently my fave Canadian who I don’t know personally) taking Matt Lauer on a tour of Vancouver.

Lastly (for now), I want to say that no matter how big my Olympics addiction may be this year, it doesn’t compare to April’s in the 90’s, which I had forgotten about until she commented on my Olympics post from the other day. That naughty, naughty April—an unemployed newlywed, I believe—went and replaced their old TV with a new big one while Jim was away on business, just to have something decent on which to watch the Olympics. The poor girl was bored! Welcome home, honey! And, um, surprise! I emptied our bank account! She totally wins. Ha.


Feb. 18: O Canada, Can You See?

This is kind of a mess, but pretty funny. Stephen Colbert and Michael Bublé meet up at the Olympics to sing Canada’s national anthem to the tune of America’s national anthem. Not weird or difficult at all, right?


Feb. 17: Bad parental behavior

The following thoughts are brought to you by a particularly exasperating hour in my recent past, the letter ‘S’ and a generous grant by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Or maybe not those last two things.

When I was little, I remember thinking that my parents could get along with any of my friends’ parents because parents always get along with other parents. They have their kids in common and they’re grown-ups, so that automatically makes them friends, right?

Then I became a parent.

Victor and I have been lucky; we like most of the other parents we’ve met and can easily endure a couple hours together at birthday parties or school functions. There are some parents we like better than others, for sure, and I admit to subtly nudging my kids in certain directions: “Jack, Blaine is a cool kid—you should be BFF’s with him!” and “Katie, why don’t we invite Sophie’s family over?” But both of our kids are approaching an age where our approval of their friends isn’t necessary. We’re bound to run into some parents that we really dislike, that we really DON’T want to hang with, that make us so uncomfortable, we don’t want our kids going to their houses. Like that one girl, whose dad does the creepy staring-at-the-moms thing? Well, “[the girl] is nice but um… she lives too far away and um… I don’t have her mom’s phone number and um… let’s call Sophie instead!”

A couple years ago there was a helicopter mom I used to have to deal with during class parties and field trips—she was always willing to volunteer, for which I was appreciative, but the woman drove me insane. An example? She brought apples to the Valentine’s Day party “because the kids have enough candy” and then got mad when she had only managed to get rid of a few slices but had cut up, like, 15 whole apples. She told me over and over that she never let her kids have candy at home and they only drank water, never juice or (god forbid!) pop, etc. Every time I had to be around her I wanted to punch her square in the face by the end of the day.

Petty, Jen? Oh, most certainly!

But I never punched that helicopter mom. Really! I never punched her because I’m so mature ‘n stuff. Also, she’s at a different school now so I’ve lost the urge.

I’ve figured out (remember, because I’m so mature ‘n stuff) that our reasons for liking or disliking people as adults aren’t all that different from the reasons we liked or disliked people as kids. “She’s a flake” is the old “she won’t share.” “He never shuts up at meetings” was once “he brings weird stuff in his lunch.” “She’s a glory-seeker” used to be “her backpack smells like cats.”

I think the biggest difference is that, as adults, we’re supposed to hide our dislike for (or frustration with) other parents as much as we can. COUGH COUGH, right? Because sometimes it’s very difficult to hide it, even for the sake of our kids. In fact, sometimes that dislike or frustration turns us into bratty kids again. Sometimes we are terrible, terrible examples for our children and kinda suck at being very adult about anything at all.

And sometimes we’re just glad to know other adults who share our dislike and/or frustration so that we can vent a little with each other and then deal with the situation in a grown-up way. And for those adults in my life, I am so very, very grateful. smiley


Feb. 16: Blogging meme

This blogging meme is making the rounds on the ‘net, so I decided to play along. If you’re a blogger, you can too.

  1. How long have you been blogging?
    I started my web site in 1999, so… going on 11 years. I started using Blogger in 2007, and that made it easy to post more frequently.
  2. Why did you start your blog? Were you inspired by someone or something?
    I was pregnant and looking for an easy way to share information with family and friends. I think I wasn’t so much inspired as pushed by my students; I taught web publishing classes and was frequently asked what kind of web site *I* had. I needed something to show the nosy freaks.
  3. How many hours a week do you spend on your blog?
    Oh, way too many.
  4. What kind of experience or background do you have with writing? 
    I’ve kept a journal since high school, so I guess a lot of my writing experience has come from that. I took creative writing classes, wrote for the school newspaper, that sort of thing. I think the most widely circulated publication I ever wrote for was the Collegiate Quarterly. I also think everyone else at my college was asked to write for it too. I am not special.
  5. How do you come up with blog topics? Where do you get your ideas?
    I typically write about whatever pops into my mind. Sometimes I read a news item that sparks a thought, and other times it’s just the regular things in life that get me writing.
  6. Do you have any blogging rules?
    One of my pet peeves is when bloggers post without citing their sources. I try to remember to cite my sources and link to them whenever possible. I can’t think of any other rules I follow. Well, besides the attempts at perfect spelling and punctuation, but that’s just something I require of myself.
  7. Is there anything you will not blog about?
    Much to my husband’s dismay, not much is off limits. I don’t get into specifics about work—bad idea. And I won’t try to resolve issues with friends or family by writing about them, knowing they’ll read it. In other words, I try not to use it as a passive-aggressive tool. Y’know, now that I think about it, there’s a lot of stuff I won’t blog about. Maybe it’s none of your beeswax though. So there.
  8. How do you deal with blogger’s block?
    This doesn’t happen very often, probably because news items rile or humor me often enough that I can almost always find something to post. If I’m really, truly desperate I look for a meme to complete, which is not to say that if I publish a meme I have nothing else to say. Some memes are just kinda fun.
  9. Do you have a publishing schedule?
    It all depends on how post-y I’m feeling. Sometimes I post four times a day, but usually once a day is enough. I’ll publish any time of day or night, but tend to write in the mornings most often. 
  10. How many posts are in your “drafts” folder right now?
    None. Well, I suppose if I dug around in my document folders I’d find some unfinished posts, but they’re old and I’ve probably forgotten what my point was by now.
  11. What blogging program do you use (WordPress, LiveJournal, Blogger, etc.)?
    Blogger, heavily customized. I created a cascading style sheet that makes my text area wider than the standard Blogger text column. Being wider allows for larger photos and video windows that don’t get chopped off. I also created all the headings for the sidebar, my signature, etc.
  12. Do you use the blog publisher window to write your posts, or a text editor, or something else?
    I use Windows Live Writer and I love it. The Blogger posting window bugs me.
  13. Are there other blogs you feel are similar to yours in content, style, or voice?
    Yes, many. Remember? I am not special.
  14. Do you make money from your blog?
    No. I’ve considered making affiliate links or adding Google AdSense to my blog, but haven’t. I doubt I’d earn much, and those ads are annoying as hell.
  15. How did you come up your blog name?
    Well, there’s not really a theme to my blog; it’s just stuff I feel like saying. Some would call me brilliant for coming up with such a perfect name. I call them delightful (and very, very easy to please).
  16. How many blogs do you have? If you have more than one, why?
    Just the one. I can barely keep this one going sometimes, so I’m not about to try juggling another.
  17. What are some of the other blogs you read and recommend to fellow bloggers?
    I love The Bloggess, the snarky girls at Go Fug Yourself, and my friends Sunshine and Sherilee and Jen E. I follow a lot more blogs, but those have probably been in my feed reader longest, they’re updated regularly, and they’re the ones that make me happiest when I see new posts.
  18. Are you having as much fun now as when you first started blogging?
    Even more. Blogging is a very fun and creative outlet for me.


Feb. 15: Olympic fever

Like a lot of people, the only event of the winter Olympics I care much about is figure skating. At least that’s how I’ve usually been in the past; this year I’m finding nearly every event fascinating and I hardly know myself anymore. I think I’ll blame the chemo. It’s changing me.

I was hugely impressed by the opening ceremonies on Friday night. I never expected them to compare to Beijing’s, but I thought Vancouver showed itself right proud. I don’t think I’ve ever wished I was Canadian more than I did while watching the performances representing the history and culture of that huge country. The fact that Celine Dion was nowhere to be found helped, I’m sure. In a generous gesture, a Canadian friend of mine who lives in the U.S.—and who shall remain nameless unless she chooses to out herself—offered to leave her husband if I’d leave mine so we could move to Canada and be married, thus giving me Canadian citizenship. For now, I’m simply going to file away her offer, and if Vic ever makes me really, super-duper mad I’ll remind her of her PROMISE and see how serious she was. Ha!

In the absence of women’s beach volleyball—which is a darn shame, stupid WINTER Olympics!—so far my favorite event is moguls. It’s incredible to see those skiers stay upright on their skis, much less do flips and turns in the air in the middle of it all. Some of them are even graceful. Wowzers. The other night I wondered why the freestyle skiers wear loose clothing when speed counts, and it took me forever to find the answer on the Internet. I think it was hard to find because the answer is kinda silly: they have resisted wearing bodysuits primarily for aesthetic reasons. Same with snowboarders. I did learn that moguls skiers have knee patches in a contrasting color so the judges can see what their knees are doing. I wish I can say that’s why I wore those heart patches on my jeans in grade school, but that was just because my mom tried to disguise my clumsiness with cuteness. Hey, Mom—I don’t think you fooled anyone.

Another event I watched over the weekend was the Nordic Combined. I thought it was kinda boring until the surprise and very cool ending—those longer events are often yawners, IMO—but chuckled at the way the skiers went up inclines. They looked so awkward, and it made me feel a little less embarrassed at how I must look moving around in skis. Ah, so we ALL look like we’re using skis that are way too long!

The pairs’ skating was cool. Jumps always make me nervous, and there were lots of falls yesterday. The commentators were saying that there’s pretty much no room for error in the short program, so it was kind of a bummer to watch all those dreams go splat. It was also a bummer for me to watch that couple dressed like clowns; I don’t think I’ve seen anything creepier. <shivers>

Speaking of commentators, are they terribly annoying sometimes, or what? They’ll go on and on about how an athlete is so sloppy or inartistic or blah blah blah, while I’m just unbelievably impressed at their skills. But I guess as experts, those chatty folk see all the little mistakes that matter in scoring. Remember watching synchronized diving at the Beijing games? You watch a dive and think, OMG, THAT WAS AMAZING! And then they show the dives in slow motion and suddenly you’re all judge-y, like, THEY SUCKED! THAT WASN’T SYNCHRONIZED AT ALL!

And what’s the deal with Bob Costas’ hair? It’s really, really dark. Vic thinks his eyes look weird too. I noticed he almost never blinks. I’m thinking that maybe he’s not Bob Costas at all, but a Bob Costas-bot. A-ha!, right?! Never thought I’d miss that Cabbage Patch Doll Greg Gumbel.

So why is watching the Olympic games more exciting this year than any other? Maybe because they’re taking place in our backyard? Or because it’s Vancouver, and I visited Vancouver for the first time just a couple years ago and fell in love with it? Or maybe it’s because I find the Olympic Creed especially poignant at this time in my life:

The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph, but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered, but to have fought well.

Whatever the reason, you can count on me having the TV on NBC or MSNBC over the next couple weeks, and tuning in online when I can, or on my iPhone when I’m out and about. Teensy obsession, this. Teensy.

Lastly, International Olympic Committee, I have a question for you. Curling? Really?


Feb. 14: Happy Valentine’s Day

I got a card, flowers, and a bunch of yummy treats from Victor this morning. He done good.

Then Jack presented me with his handmade Valentine. I love the inside:

But it’s the front that made me spit coffee onto my computer:

Happy Valentine’s Day to all o’ you, too!


Feb. 13: Post-party

Whew. Katie’s birthday celebrations are done for another year. Last night was her slumber party, the planning of which started giving me headaches late in the week. With my mom’s help, though, it went just fine.

Mom and I spent most of Friday morning grocery shopping and party-prepping. Katie had made all the decisions about food to be served—dinner was spaghetti with non-chunky sauce, dessert was birthday cake, movie snacks were popcorn, red licorice and M&Ms—so we pretty much just followed her list. Mom and I picked up some extra goodies too, mostly because those big cinnamon gummy hearts were irresistible and Mom and I love cinnamon candy and as the hostesses we deserved a little somethin’ too, right?

Katie had also given me a list of songs she wanted on her party playlist, and I spent way too many hours tracking down crappy music and burning it onto CDs for each of the girls to take home. Here are her choices:

  1. Party in the USA—Miley Cyrus
  2. Fireflies—Owl City
  3. Lovebug—Jonas Brothers
  4. If I Didn’t Have You—Mitchel Musso & Emily Osment
  5. Don’t Stop Believin’—Journey
  6. I Wanna Be Rich—Calloway
  7. The Boys Are Back—High School Musical 3
  8. Let’s Do This—Miley Cyrus
  9. Eye of the Tiger—Survivor
  10. Naturally—Selena Gomez
  11. Let’s Make This Last 4Ever—Mitchel Musso
  12. Fly With Me—Jonas Brothers
  13. Falling Down—Selena Gomez
  14. Hey—Mitchel Musso
  15. The Sweet Escape—Gwen Stefani
  16. On the Line—Demi Lovato, featuring The Jonas Brothers
  17. Welcome to Hollywood—Mitchel Musso
  18. Viva La Vida—Coldplay

You can probably guess how much my ears bled while listening to this playlist at least four times through.  There were just a handful of tunes that didn’t hurt to hear. (Psst… I kinda sorta really really love Fireflies.)

I assembled the take-home goodie bags, which were filled with lots of girly things that hopefully weren’t so junky that they went straight into the garbage at home. Katie actually wasn’t much help with ideas for what should go in the goodie bags, but she liked everything Mom and I came up with. I have a love-hate relationship with goodie bags. Is it possible that I could be done with them now? I sure hope so.

Katie chose Imagine That as the movie for them to watch.

Erika came home from school with Katie, so the party started early for the two of them. We kicked out Victor and Jack, and Sophie and Phoebe arrived around 6. After dinner, the four girls ran around the house, made a couple phone calls, played with the dogs, changed into jammies, and finally settled in to watch the movie. It was all quite civilized. Darlene stopped by, and she and my mom sat in the living room and chatted while I watched the Olympics upstairs. The girls were great—very well-behaved and never wake-up-the-neighborhood noisy. I got up around 2:30 and heard at least a couple of them still talking. I’m pretty sure one was Katie—she’s our late-nighter. She’s also a little grouchy this evening.

Katie, Sophie, Erika (trying to get the dogs in the photo) and Phoebe

Posing with Gilly

The partyin’ girls 

Scout, one of the hairy partyin’ girls, making herself comfy on Phoebe’s blanket


I’m glad to say that everyone who was alive when the party started is still alive right now. It all went very well, and the girls are welcome back to our house any time. Most importantly, Katie made a wonderful memory of her tenth birthday celebration. And HOORAY—Mommy survived!



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