Aug. 28: Weekend wrap-up

The weekend is over. Vic goes back to work tomorrow, which bums me out almost as much as it does him—I do enjoy having him around during the day, and not just because he mopped in front of my friends last week. We’ve had a busy few days, but I shall try to catch up with the goings-on at the House of Manullang.

  • PTO is going and going and going… it’s taking way too much of my time right now, and you’re lucky I don’t blather on and on about it like I want to. Sunshine and I are getting things ready for the new school year—which starts Sep. 6—and at least for now, have stayed as sane as we were going in. We shall see what this next week brings.
  • Today we saw another one of our Broadway in Portland shows: Mamma Mia. I’ve gone back and forth on my opinion of it all afternoon, and I’ve finally decided that it’s mostly stupid, but there’s good music and generally it’s big, silly fun. Kinda like Grease. I was surprised at the acting, which I thought was quite bad—like, high school theater-caliber—and WHAT IS THE DEAL WITH KELLER AUDITORIUM’S TERRIBLE SOUND AT SOME SHOWS??? Sorry, I yelled a little there because OMG IT DRIVES ME CRAZY.
  • P.S. I hated Mamma Mia, the movie. Hated it. I’m not sure why, since I liked most of the cast and there’s that ABBA music that’s fun, but I couldn’t even stand to watch it until the end. Ugh.
  • P.S. part deux: I think my mom just disowned me for that last statement.
  • P.S. numero three-o: On a related topic, I do not like Glee. I should like Glee. I should LOVE Glee. I’ve watched five episodes and think it’s one of the worst things on TV. What’s wrong with me? As much as I love musicals and all, shouldn’t Glee be one of my favorite shows? It is not.
  • I read a book this weekend called The Penny Pinchers Club, and like the musical we saw today, it was all fluff and kind of a waste of time. Okay, it was mostly a clever little story, but when the main character was encouraged to Dumpster-dive to save money, I lost interest FAST. There were other tips on pinching pennies that made me laugh: using the empty bags from cereal boxes, because FREE WAX PAPER! (Who spends too much money on wax paper? I go through a roll of wax paper every few years, MAYBE. Is there something wrong with me? I don’t care; I’m not saving empty cereal bags.) 
  • Tomorrow night a bunch of gals are coming over to make pencil cakes for the classrooms for the first day of school. What’s a pencil cake, you ask? You totally asked that. I know you did. Here’s the basic idea, which we have used as our starting point. Our finished cakes will be approximately one vajillion times better though.
  • My mom didn’t have her surgery on Friday. It’s been postponed and the surgeon is all “meh” about it, which in a weird way makes us all feel good that they’re so NOT worried about doing the surgery immediately.
  • Vic and I went to Cannon Beach on Thursday and we ran into the delightful Fukai family there. How lucky were we? We had dinner together and then went our merry ways, so our visit was short but fun and reminded us that we’ve hardly seen the Fukais all summer and that sucks. Catching up away from home was the best part of the day because the weather was rotten on the beach—I mean, it’s still the beach, and it’s still being away from home without kids, and it’s still beautiful scenery, and it’s still a day off work… we just really coulda done without the wind.
  • I have a bunch of Pinterest finds to share but I’m too lazy to go get them. Maybe next time.

No more words.


Aug. 24: Beach pics

I promised a while back that I’d post pictures of our beach trip, and here, finally, they are:

We started our day at Cannon Beach. That there is Haystack Rock, obvy.


This is just the right level of crowded-ness for me. The other day, after the weekend’s beautiful beach weather was all over the news, I heard someone on their phone say, “We were in Seaside, and it took us and hour and a half to go one mile.” That is FAR from the right level of crowded-ness for me. Ugh.


All of these photos were taken with our iPhone cameras. It was the zoomed-in ones that turned out fuzzy and ugly.

‘Course, even blurry, Haystack Rock is pretty cool.


Starfeesh! Where you see the pack of people in some of our pics? They were lookin’ at that weird fish. It was shaped like a star!!

Goofy boy.



Weird kids.



I’m siiiiinkiiiiing!! Oh, the drama.






Love this girl. Love her.





This is the pic I took for Sherilee to prove to her the sun was shining. Ouch.


That, my friends, was a beautiful day on the Oregon Coast.


Aug. 21: A-Z Jen

Sherilee posted this meme to her blog and suggested we all answer it on our own blogs. She’s way bossy.

A. age :: 42

B. bed size :: queen

C. chore you hate :: dishes

D. dogs :: two, Casey and Oliver

E. essential start to your day :: coffee

F. favorite color :: navy blue

G. gold or silver :: silver

H. height :: 5’8”ish

I. instruments you play :: piano, flute

J. job title :: I’m a contractor and do lots of things, but lately it’s mostly database analyst work

K. kids :: two, Katie and Jack

L. live :: Oregon, born and bred

M. maiden name :: Saltmarsh

N. nicknames :: Jen

O. overnight hospital stays :: two C-sections

P. pet peeve :: inconsiderate drivers, bad grammar and punctuation

Q. quote :: Hard to choose just one, but lately this is a favorite: “Smart has the plans. Stupid has the stories.”

R. righty or lefty :: right

S. siblings :: one, Kathy

T. time you wake up :: 7-8ish

U. university attended :: Walla Walla (College) University

V. vegetables you dislike: not a fan of cauliflower or asparagus

W. what makes you run late :: traffic

X. x-rays you’ve had :: so many, mostly on my feet after stupid injuries

Y. yummy food :: potatoes are good in almost every form

Z. zoo animal favorite :: red pandas and otters

Your turn.


Aug. 21: So there *is* a floor in there!

We cleaned Jack’s room yesterday. It was a wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling cleaning; no drawer was left un-emptied, and no poster was left unturned. It took us the entire day, but the job is done and we are pleased with the outcome. Everything in Jack’s room is currently played with, worn, or read. Jack is thrilled—mostly because we pulled his dresser away from the wall and he was able to retrieve LEGOs that fell back there ages ago. (Who knew that jester cap was so important in completing the Zombie Pirate World War II scene he’s been working on all week?)

I sorted through every box of LEGOs and removed all non-LEGO items. Here are the ones I can remember:

  • Trash. SO. MUCH. TRASH.
  • Enough dog hair to make a new dog
  • Swim goggles
  • Books
  • Nine pairs of socks
  • Numerous shirts, pants, and underwear (thank god for BBQ tongs to handle that last one)
  • A Justin Bieber t-shirt that I’m pretty sure belongs to Katie
  • Leggings (also Katie’s)
  • Gum, chewed and unchewed
  • Half of a Hershey bar
  • An mp3 player
  • Jack’s long-lost Nintendo DS
  • $4.68
  • A lunch money check I wrote in January
  • Toothbrush, unwrapped but unused
  • Three brownies of unknown origin or age
  • Bank statement
  • My Bluetooth earpiece

I usually get so frustrated when I walk into Jack’s room that I turn around and walk out, and I expected to have a few meltdowns during the cleaning process yesterday. I kept my cool. This meant, of course, that I not only surprised myself (yay me!), but that we completed the task—the best part of that being that we filled many, many bags that will be donated or tossed. Decluttering feels so good.

A productive weekend day = awesome. Also = a day to lounge around doing nothing? I wish.


Aug. 20: Decontamination

It’s been at least two years since Jack’s room has had a major cleaning, and that’s mostly because I avoid his space as much as possible. The floor is covered in LEGOs, even after he has “cleaned” <cough!>, and for some reason, his guitar and amp are always—ALWAYS!—in the doorway. Dresser drawers cannot be closed because they are stuffed full of clean and dirty clothes, papers, books, and LEGOs. The closet is growing things that make noise. When I walk in to this room, my blood pressure immediately elevates to dangerous levels. You think I’m exaggerating. I am not.

This is Vic’s and my project today. When we told Jack of our plans to tackle his room, he groaned. Then I told him I didn’t want him in there while we clean, and he was very, very happy. He thinks that’s good, that he doesn’t have to help. He shall surely regret not helping. He shall surely miss many of the things he holds dear but does not take care of and therefore does not deserve. (That’s me, pretending to be Meanie Mom. I suck at being Meanie Mom. I talk the talk, sure, but my “walk” is this: I’ll pick up every single LEGO piece from the floor and put it in a safe place, where it can be played with for years to come.)

Today will start with me muttering things like, “Why do we ever buy him anything when he doesn’t appreciate it?” and it’ll end with me tearing out my hair while setting fire to his room. (It’s okay; our next-door neighbor is our insurance dude and HE WOULD NEVER TELL.) There’s a good chance you won’t hear from me after today, so I just want to say that I love many of you and the rest of you can go to hell. “Hell” being Jack’s charred bedroom.

You will hate it. Trust me on this.


Aug. 18: More miscellany

Life got a little overwhelming there for a while, but I’m back and I have many different things to show you. This first thing is sump’n I found on Pinterest, and it fits in the category of decluttering so I love it. 

What you’re supposed to do—or what I interpreted as the instructions—is fill at least one bag from each area with items that can be tossed or given away. Since I’ve been decluttering for a few months now, I was able to cross lots of areas off right away. AWESOME! The list was inspiring, but I knew I needed to change it up a little bit to work for me.

The more I edited the original list, the more I added, and mine ended up being 60+ areas long. Nothing wrong with that. I even got the kids excited about working through it, because I said the reward for getting rid of all these things would be an overnight trip to the coast. I know Katie (our little packrat) thinks getting rid of old things just makes room for lots more new ones, so there has to be decent incentive to get any real work out of her, and fortunately they think going to the beach overnight is all kinds o’ awesome.

Speaking of the beach, when we went to Seaside last week, we browsed the way-cool candy store and were way-surprised to see these are still being sold:

Those, my friends, are candy cigarettes. Lots of different ones. There were two shelves full! My personal favorite is the “Just Like Dad!” brand. Oh, and on the other side of the store, they sold these:

Have you had these? I wasn’t brave enough to try one.

OK, is it weird that I think this iPhone handset is awesome and I kinda have to have it? I miss wedging a handset between my ear and shoulder sometimes.

Here are some more fun Pinterest finds.


Alright, back to overwhelming.


Aug. 12: At world’s end (or Oregon’s, anyway)

The four of us went to the beach yesterday, finally, and it was wonderful. Oregon beaches are beautiful but almost never warm, but yesterday there was sun and blue sky as far as the eye could see! I know! I could not believe it also! We felt fortunate to enjoy that very rare Oregon coast day. The kids had a great time and didn’t drive us totally crazy, which made me and Vic smiley all day long. ‘Twas good. ‘Twas very good.

We took tons of pictures, which I’ll share later, but here’s one of my favorites:


Vic snapped this pic with his phone, and the zoom on the iPhone camera is shee-AT, so it got that weird blurriness—but it almost looks like a watercolor effect has been applied, and I think that’s kinda cool. Also, Jack looks like he’s doing the peepee dance and that makes me laugh.

I needed yesterday oh-so-badly. It wasn’t just leaving town that was so great; to sit there at the end of the earth and watch the waves, especially in the sunshine, felt so warm—inside and out—and happy, relaxing, revitalizing, and even freeing. I can’t believe it had been such a long time since I’d been to the coast. Crazy—it’s only two hours from home! Vic and I are hoping to go back by ourselves for an overnight trip later this month (Mother Mary’s birthday gift to us both). And we really want to try to go more often, like we used to, before our mellows were harshed by those meddlin’ kids.

The sand totally farked up my pedicure. I guess that was the bad thing about the day. Worth it, though. Completely worth it.


Aug. 10: Gardening woes

I’m mad at my yard.

We redid the front yard a few years ago—with a few wins, a few losses—but this year a lot of the stuff is really looking rotten. Whatever do you mean? Is that what you’re asking? I’m sure it is, because I know y’all care sooo much about my yard.

Here’s one of my favorite plants we put in, Euphorbia Tiny Tim, because it’s unique and quite beautiful. Here’s how it looked about a year ago:

That’s an extreme close-up. Cool, huh? Here’s how it looks right now:


Yup. All that cool-lookin’ red and pincer-y stuff is dead dead dead, and I’m pissed pissed pissed.

Bellflowers: so pretty. Last year they looked like this:


…and now they look like this:


Stoopid Bellflowers.

The Sea Thrifts, so cheery!


But this year they make me grouchy-faced:


This one’s even worse:


Note the Bellflowers on the right above—that particular batch is still growing well this year. In fact, it’s all bunched up with the Black-eyed Susans, which you would think would make them each grow less full, but they’re both looking quite good. We thinned the Susans down this year and they’re doing alright…


…except for the bunch we transplanted to the side yard:


Nothing seems to do well over in the side yard, even though it gets plenty of sun. For two years, our Daphne has bloomed for a week and then dropped its flowers. The Periwinkle doesn’t spread nearly as fast as in other parts of the yard. Even arborvitae has died there, and DO YOU KNOW HOW HARD IT IS TO KILL ARBORVITAE??? I think the soil is just full of poison or somethin’. So frustrating. We’ve lost a LOT of plants over yonder. (Yonder = side yard. Duh.)

Okay, it’s not a complete disappointment. The Asiatic lilies are quite pretty, as long as the neighbor kids can keep from running over them. We planted them closer to the sidewalk than we should have. The boxwoods are perfect, the dogwood is doing well, the hebes are so-so. 


And behind the lilies, growing around the path stones, you can see the little Blue Star Creepers, which are doing better this year than ever. Of course, we don’t really give a crap about the Blue Star Creepers. Isn’t that the way it always goes?

On our front porch we have the Dusty Miller that’s on its third year. Annual, my butt. We cut it and cut it, and it just keeps growing.


This mini-rant all started because we just noticed the aspen in the backyard is getting the ugly, sticky fungus-y thing it’s gotten every year since we planted it. Victor wants to cut down the aspen. Victor is crazy. I will not cut down that tree. I Googled “black sticky aspen” and found that our tree either has Marssonina Blight or Septoria (you probably knew that, right?)—whatever it is, there’s no fix. It’s fungus and will keep coming back and that’s that and that makes me angry. It makes me want to kill things, but just about everything I see is already dead. Grrr.

For you gardener folk, is it possible for plants to have an “off” year? Is that why everything in my yard is pissing me off? Or did I anger the gods somehow? Is there anything I can do to make it all pretty again? I’m totally open to voodoo…



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