Mar. 30: Soooo done with March

marchMarch is almost over (good riddance, March weather!) so here’s my review of the month.

Special days I celebrated this month and how:

The kids went to a few birthday parties. We “celebrated” St. Patrick’s Day in that we used it as an excuse to eat corned beef in Reuben sandwich form. We marked a bittersweet day for Sunshine the other night that was way more fun than it should have been (mostly because it involved voodoo and some really, really fun people).

Gifts I gave and/or received this month:

Um… none? Not any memorable ones, anyway. I’m not pouting…

Books I read this month:

  • The Shadow of the Wind. Still reading, and loving, this beautiful story.
  • I wrote about the other books I’ve been reading here.
  • I haven’t read it yet (obvy), but Anne Tyler’s new book comes out next week!

Movies and TV shows worth mentioning:

I so rarely see movies, and I already go on way too much about the TV shows I love. Can I talk instead about seeing the touring production of Wicked in Portland last night? It was Jack’s first time, and he really enjoyed it—I KNEW he would!—he saw one of his best buddies there so the shame factor was lowered considerably. Two shows left in our season: Million Dollar Quartet in May and Jersey Boys in July. We decided not to renew for next season, so Jack’s off the hook for at least a year and then I hope to start dragging him to musicals again.

New recipes or restaurants I tried:

Victor made pulled pork (heehee), which became delicious sandwiches. I tried a new recipe for chicken enchilada soup; Vic loved it but I thought it was “meh.” If I tried any new restaurants, they were unremarkable because I don’t remember them.

Special or unusual purchases I made:

I suppose we “purchased” Lucy’s fixin’… I got some new earrings… Vic got boring clothes… I bought all the good “Smash” songs from iTunes… I bought my first bottle of essential oil—lavender, one of my favorite scents—and now look forward to lots of homemade hair tonics, cleaners, deodorizers, etc. Pinterest has so many ideas that call for essential oil.

Lavender BottleCan I be honest for a second? I never really understood what made essential oils “essential.” Like, are they really that necessary? So necessary that I can’t ever find them in regular stores and I really seem to be doing just fine without them all these years? Turns out “essential” in this context means “essence.” Duh.

This month’s disappointments:

Too many meetings… some way-awkward PTO stuff… all that friggin’ snow…

My accomplishments:

I managed to keep a very loose hold on my sanity. The kids were home for WAY too much of their spring break and—get this—they expected to be entertained. And fed! Given the circumstances, I’d say keeping my sanity was a pretty darn big accomplishment.

Something I considered doing: redesigning my web site. Sherilee did hers, and it got my wheels turning… but I finally decided that I just don’t have the energy to attempt such a project right now. I mean, I’ve got a billion work and school things going anyway, and a redesign always seems minor and then you lose all your archives and yell curse words and wish you’d never been born. So you’re gonna have to please just live with the current look for a while longer. Thanks.

Anything else noteworthy:

The kids’ report cards for the second trimester were great. Jack’s showed lots of improvement.

With all the rain and grey skies we’ve had lately, all the color in our yard is a welcome sight. Purple and white crocuses, yellow daffodils, pink hyacinths, periwinkle periwinkle (it is—it’s periwinkle), tulips on their way… and lots of new growth on the greenery. Now, if the sun would come out and dry the yard up a little, I could work in it. Also, some sun would make me way less grouchy.

That’s it, doods.


Mar. 26: Currently

Happy new week.

I am currently:


…to the relative peace of the house. The kids are in Seattle. The dogs are in separate rooms for now, so they’re not doing that Tasmanian Devil tornado thing all over the place. The Monday landscapers finished the neighborhood early and all their noise is done. I can actually hear birds chirping! The frogs are quiet for now—probably tired after croaking ALL NIGHT LONG OMG I HATE THOSE FROGS SO MUCH.


…gummy bears. Breakfast of champions.


…iced coffee. Makes for a better-balanced breakfast of champions. Yup.


…very happy. We had such a nice weekend. The weather was beautiful on Saturday and we spent a lot of time out in it. Early yesterday the kids took off to Seattle with Grandpa & Grandma, so Victor and I had most the day to ourselves. We ran errands, went shopping, had lunch out, watched some Hulu, and thoroughly appreciated a kid-free day.

…eager about coming events. Tonight we’re having dinner with one of my fave sisters-in-law, Sally, who’s visiting from Florida. We’ve got tickets to see Wicked on Thursday night—it’ll be Jack’s first time (my fifth, Vic’s fourth, Katie’s third… we’re fans, obvy). At this time next week, Vic and I will be belatedly celebrating our 15th anniversary in Long Beach, Washington. And a lunch (involving fondue!) with Sherilee next week? Yes, please!


…to hang with friends I haven’t seen nearly enough lately. Val, this means you!


…to do some gardening while the weather’s nice. Will I get outside today? I sure hope so… but reading away the afternoon doesn’t sound terrible either. Pretty sure my laziness will beat my ambition. It usually does.


…some projects that have been on my to-do list for a long time. Last month I bought a rug for our kitchen, and on Friday I finally put it down. This actually turned out to be a pretty time-consuming project, involving moving the other rug out (and cleaning it before storage), thoroughly scrubbing the floors (might as well do all the hardwoods, not just the kitchen, right?), and getting the new rug perfectly situated underneath the table and chairs. Because Lucy loves to chase the broom and mop, I did most of the work while she was at the vet last week. And y’know how one minor task often turns into eleventy more? That’s where I am now: prioritizing the eleventy others. Only a couple of them involve paint. (Can you hear my husband groaning over the mention of “paint”??? He totally is.)


…vicariously, my friends’ spring break vacations. Some are on ships, one is in Texas, several have family visiting… and then there’s me. Staying home. I’m trying not to whine too much, because a big trip is in the works for later this year—I hope I hope I hope. Plus there’s our getaway thing next week.

…way too much TV. I think I actually watch more TV now than I did before we cancelled cable—Hulu makes it so dang easy. GCB is a recent guilty pleasure, and Bent has been amusing. I’m totally obsessed with Smash… happy that Community is back on… 30 Rock is as funny as ever… still waiting to find Suburgatory a waste of time and it’s not happening… Cougar Town is clever, sweet, and underrated… I catch CSI episodes online as often as possible (they’re not on Hulu, just… I can’t believe I’m still watching Alcatraz and Grimm, which are so NOT my usual types of must-see TV… as well as my other old favorites, The Office, Modern Family, The Middle, Parks & Recreation, SVU… See, way, way too much TV.

sharing silly stuff











I’m off to decide how best to waste my day. Smell ya later—


Mar. 24: Beautiful day to be outdoors

Thursday morning we woke to two inches of snow—the most we’ve add all winter—and school was on a 2-hour delay. Yesterday was sunny and gorgeous and I needed my sunglasses at 7am.

Weather is so stupid.

But when it’s sunshiney and warm(ish) and beautiful and cheery, I will not complain.

(Weather is still totally stupid.)

Victor mowed the backyard today. It took him longer to clean up the yard than it did to mow. All the stuff out there is courtesy of our giant puppy. Here’s a pic I took of Her Silliness about a month ago:

She's 16 times bigger now than she was when I took this picture

It’s a little hard to see, but that’s a big piece of firewood, tons of bamboo leaves and tree branches—or, as Lucy would put it if she could speak, “my trophies!” What you can’t see here are the plastic bags that once held pea gravel (I think she ate all the gravel out of them and then dragged the bags into the yard), and the pieces of Charlie Brown tree. A few years ago Victor came home with the saddest little pine tree, but he loved it back to health—seriously, I don’t know *what* he was doing out there with that tree night after night—and it got all bushy and not Charlie Brown-y. AND THEN LUCY CAME TO LIVE HERE.

We took our sweet girl in to be spayed yesterday. She’s still a little wobbly and groggy, and 53 groggy pounds is a LOT to herd around the house, especially wearing an Elizabethan collar (her, not me). We’re trying to keep her apart from the little dog for 24 hours or so, just to let her heal a bit before they start in again with their constant romping. That is also a challenge, and a noisy one. There is lots of barking (them, not me) and whining (mostly me). I’m glad dogs recover faster from abdominal surgeries than people do.

On a beautiful day like today, though, Lucy is LOVING being outside and sunbathing on the deck, chewing on something she shouldn’t have.


Tummy stitches and everything, that is one happy pup.


Mar. 20: Books, books, and more books


I’m not, for a second, suggesting my life is terrible, but sometimes I feel the need to get away from it more urgent and powerful than others. While my attention span has been sadly, frustratingly short in recent months, I’m finally feeling like I can concentrate enough to follow the plot of a story for more than an hour-long TV show. This means I can read a real book. Not bits and pieces, magazine-style, but an honest-to-Buddha novel.

With a narration and characters and EVERYTHING.

I know. In the words of my favorite Pixar German caterpillar, I cannot believe it also.

“I love books. I like that the moment you open one and sink into it you can escape from the world, into a story that's way more interesting that yours will ever be.” –Elizabeth Scott

The book I just finished was written by Chris Bohjalian, who has become one of my go-to authors for socially-charged novels (not always my favorite type, but I do like the way they make me think). I have read The Double Bind and Midwives, and most recently, Secrets of Eden. His writing is beautiful and imaginative; in Secrets of Eden he writes in four different voices, and he does it well.

But there’s nothing like finishing a book you’ve really enjoyed and then finding out a Lifetime movie was made from it—starring, of all D-list actors, John “Uncle Jesse” Stamos. Way to ruin it, Lifetime. Pfffttt.

“While thought exists, words are alive and literature becomes an escape, not from, but into living.” –Cyril Connolly

Other books I’ve read, tried to read, or started reading:

The Dark Side of Disney. Sherilee sent me this one, an entertaining, sometimes shocking travel guide to Walt Disney World. I learned where to sneak in to the parks, how to get free food (i.e., carry bugs in a vial and put them in my food near the end of the meal), which rides I’ll get on faster if I’m in a wheelchair, and more unethical tips. It was funny and made me feel like a decent person for never even considering those things before. But now that I know about them… well… I want to go to Disney more than ever.

Curly Girl: The Handbook. No, this book has nothing to do with that adorable artist Leigh Standley (whom I’ve met. Have I told you that I met her? We’re totally, like, BFFs.). This book tells me how to deal with this crazy hair o’ mine. What’s crazier than my hair? The idea that I’m never supposed to wash it. Seriously, that’s just kooky-talk, right? There are lots of other suggestions in here, though, and some of them are pretty good ones.

Don't Go Shopping for Hair-Care Products Without Me. This book has been on my shelf for years, but after reading Curly Girl, I needed to refer to it again. If I’m not supposed to use hair products with alcohol in them, how can I tell they’re actually alcohol-free? Same with silicone. This book shares all the scientific names for these common products—those silly companies can’t hide their ingredients from me anymore! Ha! This book reviews tons of products and desperately needs an update, but it’s still useful in a general way. There are web sites with current info, and I’m guessing that’s why the book hasn’t been updated and re-published.

Out of Oz. The fourth and final book in the Wicked series was so boring and disappointing, I didn’t finish it. Why is it that I feel like a failure when I don’t finish reading a book, even when it’s crap?

The Shadow of the Wind. I just started this one. It’s got teeny-tiny print and hurts my eyes, but the words are beautiful and magical and I think I’m going to love it.

“Books don't offer real escape, but they can stop a mind scratching itself raw.” –David Mitchell

I’m off to Barcelona now—in my noggin—and will probably not miss Clackamas even a tiny bit while I’m there.


Mar. 15: Spring project

springcleanWhat should I do this spring?

  • Clean the garage
  • Organize my office
  • Train the puppy not to be naughty
  • Sand and stain the deck
  • Refinish the kitchen tabletop
  • Shave my legs
  • Get a job

What am I going to do this spring?

  • Work in my front yard
  • Maybe shave my legs

Yep, I’m dedicating my free time for the upcoming months to getting the front yard fixed up. We started from scratch with it four years ago (four? three? I can’t remember) but it’s calling for attention again. It’s not completely dead yet, but now that the crocuses, daffodils, and tulips are popping up, the dead and almost-dead plants are more noticeable. I don’t want to say this too loud, but some of those plants need to be put out of their miseries. (They heard, didn’t they? And they’re gonna form a big ol’ super-hedge and suffocate me in my sleep, aren’t they?)

I have no intention of redoing the entire yard. Not even close. The stone path is fine, the bubbling fountain/bidet is still running, the trees are growing well. I like the idea of trying some new plant varieties to replace the dead junk, but my biggest goal is to get the yard cleaned up and looking beautiful again.

Now, if the sky would knock off the raining and snowing, I might be able to get started with my plan. As of now, the yard is puddly. No way am I going out in that. I’ll slip and break my spleen for sure.

Last weekend Sherilee sent me this link: Yards Gone Disney. I love that it makes the simple, understated Disney-ness of our yard look… um… simple and understated. We just have a set of small Mickey and Minnie stone statues, which are on their sides most of the time, thanks to the wind or the stompy little dude next door. It’s so funny how teacups and plastic flowers look so right at Disneyland, but put them in your yard and suddenly you’re that house on your street.

This is me, assuring my neighbors that I will not be putting up the Small World re-creation this spring.

Maybe next.


Mar. 10: More of the same

My last several blog posts have contained very little continuous thoughts of the cohesive variety. You probably haven’t noticed, but I have, and it just seems like that’s how my brain is working these days. My life, really… just lots of little stuff happening. Weird, since I’m usually obsessed with something, it seems.

But not lately. Nope. Just a constant flow of nothingness.

Soooo… here’s some more!


Here’s Sunshine demonstrating my new hands-free device for my iPhone. Awesome, right? Even though she’s holding it, I still call it “hands-free” because you can totally prop it up on your shoulder and use your hands for typing or making dinner or playing games on your phone while you talk. I love it! I ordered mine from a Groupon special a couple weeks ago, but if you search for “retro handset” you can find lots of others out there. Overstock has the inexpensivest I’ve seen.



I offer this one without comment.
OK, maybe with apologies to certain people who exceeded their texting allowances this week.





man of this house


I read this book last week. You can probably guess what drew me to it—I thought it would be a how-to guide. (hahaha hilare…) The story was amusing/cleverish and not exactly a painful read, but as our PTO treasurer put it, “it’s not going to win a Pulitzer prize.” What bothered me more than anything? The author’s name on the cover in Comic Sans. Ugh.


We made something similar to these treats in honor of the school’s classified employees this week. I thought they were cute, and they were easy to put together. I actually didn’t find them on Pinterest, but I’m sure they’ve popped up there—such a great resource for teacher gifts, that Pinterest.


A bunch of the area schools went in lockdown on Thursday morning because of this. It’s hard to believe people are that flippin’ stupid. Gah.

This Pinterest find is going in the crockpot this morning.

I’m off to get my hair cut—it’s been months and I’m actually getting shaggy. I found this book that I’m hoping will help me manage the texture of my post-chemo hair, which seems to be here to stay. Argh.

Have a great weekend!


Mar. 1: Bits o’ nothing

bunnyI have never understood why people say “rabbit rabbit” on the first day of the month. I’m pretty sure no one knows why they do it and they’re all too embarrassed to admit it. But we in the Pacific Northwest woke up to a winter wonderland this morning, and I LOL’d when I saw my friend Melodie had FB-posted “snowshoe rabbit snowshoe rabbit.”


(I still don’t get it, though.)

Yesterday I pointed to a guy crossing the street in front of us and said to Victor, “You should get a sweater like that.” Right away he was all NO WAY, I HATE SWEATERS, THEY’RE TOO TIGHT, THEY’RE TOO HOT, THEY’RE TOO TIGHT, AND THEY’RE ALSO TOO HOT.

And it went on like that for a good 15 minutes. I swear, his voice went up at least one octave.


I shall never bring up the topic of sweaters again.

The PTO received a brochure from the Oregon Area Jewish Committee that listed and explained all the Jewish holy days. I find this useful because…

  1. I never know when they are.
  2. I never know what they mean.
  3. Those two things make me seem ignorant and insensitive.
  4. I am ignorant and insensitive—there’s no “seem” about it.

…so I read it over and then quizzed Jack, “Hey, do you know what Yom Kippur is?”

“Um… Chinese food?”

You know what show is more amusing than I expect it to be? Cougar Town. I am not joking about that—it really is LOL-worthy.

On March 1, 1961, John F. Kennedy established the Peace Corps. Makes all I’ve accomplished so far today seem trivial.

Day ain’t over yet.

BUT I’m pretty sure anything I do accomplish today won’t come be Peace Corps-y. Nowadays getting through one day without the puppy chewing up something we treasure is a success.

There we Manullangs go with the over-achieving again.

securityYou know what I hate? When you buy something and the clerk doesn’t take that plastic security thingie off it and you have to go back to the store with the item and even with your receipt, you still feel like a thief. That.

This has happened to us twice in the past five days, once with a large, heavy and awkward item. What a pain in the ass. Makes you wonder why they even put those plastic security thingies on stuff. They obviously don’t set off alarms.

I wonder if I can buy one of the plastic security thingie remover thingies on eBay. I totally should.

My new Sonicare is awesome. Added bonus: it’s a great ring cleaner. My rings are always gunked up with hand sanitizer goo, and this sparkles them right up.

That, my friends, is the very definition of spit shine.

I’m off to start my day, forming Peace Corps ‘n stuff. I hope you contribute to society today too.



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