April 29: Month in review

Here’s my review of April 2012.

Special days I celebrated this month and how:

  • We did that belated anniversary celebration mini-vacation. Such fun.
  • Victor was honored for 20 years of work at the hospital at their annual awards banquet. I played the proud wife one who was thankful for a regular paycheck.
  • This weekend Victor’s with former classmates in Seattle for their 30th high school reunion. He was out until 1am last night, so either they were having a really great time together or he forgot where he was staying and drove around for hours crying about how old he is.
  • There were lots of celebrations at school in April. The volunteer appreciation dinner was my favorite.
  • It wasn’t for a special occasion, but it was definitely a special day when Sherilee came to Portland earlier this month. We caught up over shopping and lunch at Gustav’s—the only thing that would’ve made it better was more time. Possibly more fondue.
  • Happy anniversary to Eric and Kim F’n Wick! Today marks one year since their royal wedding.

Gifts I gave and/or received this month:

  • The kids got chocolate bunnies on Easter. The Easter Bunny has gotten really lazy.
  • My dear friend Stephanie gave us a gift bag of goodies last week. We love her!

Books I read this month:

Movies and TV shows worth mentioning:

  • Jack and I saw Titanic on the 100th anniversary of the collision. We went over to Bridgeport to see it in IMAX and 3D, which made it better than I expected (doesn’t it seem like old movies that are reformatted into 3D are not usually improved all that much?). He’s been asking lots of questions ever since. Grandpa Curt would be proud—as far back as I can remember, Dad was fascinated with the ship; when it was finally found in 1985, he got me interested in it too.
  • Is Smash the best thing on TV, or what?
  • This past week’s Community is a must-see if you’re a Law & Order fan.
  • Both the east- and west-coast live versions of 30 Rock were LOL-funny.

New recipes or restaurants I tried:

Nothing remarkable.

Special or unusual purchases I made:

Can’t think of any. Wait, does deliciously addictive hard pear cider count for “special or unusual”? If it does, then ignore my first answer.

This month’s disappointments:

  • Reality is sinking in: my BFF is moving far, far away. If not for special drugs, I don’t know how I’d get through it.
  • Not so much disappointing as sad, my grandma passed away on April 20.

My accomplishments:

I didn’t kill a single person. Month ain’t over yet, though.

Anything else noteworthy:

  • Katie went to Outdoor School this past week. She sounded so much like me when she described the experience—she talked about the uncomfortable, smelly parts as much as the super-fun memory-making parts. My Outdoor School experience 30 years ago wasn’t a total suck-fest, but it wasn’t nonstop cool, either.
  • I’ve been surprised at how many people aren’t familiar with the concept of Outdoor School—is this really just an Oregon thing???
  • Last month I whined about the horrible weather. This month I have to show off the beautiful blooms in our front yard:

That’s it, doods.


Apr. 28: Funnies

Let’s see how many posts I can squeeze in before I start Screen-Free Week on Monday.

I’ve got a bunch to share, so this is a long-ish post. I think I’ve posted a few of these images to Facebook already, but I’m sure you’ll forgive repeats and if you won’t, then whatevs. You smell like butt. (I’ve been spending a lot of time with my fourth-grader, obvy.)

A bit different version of this quote:

“If you really want to hurt your parents, and you don't have the nerve to be gay, the least you can do is go into the arts. I'm not kidding. The arts are not a way to make a living. They are a very human way to make life more bearable.”
Kurt Vonnegut, A Man Without a Country

I love this idea so, so much. It reminds me of one of my favorite quotes from Dead Poet’s Society:

We don't read and write poetry because it's cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for. To quote from Whitman, "O me! O life!... of the questions of these recurring; of the endless trains of the faithless... of cities filled with the foolish; what good amid these, O me, O life?" Answer. That you are here - that life exists, and identity; that the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. That the powerful play *goes on* and you may contribute a verse. What will your verse be?

When I saw Dead Poet’s Society, I was so moved by this particular moment that when I left the theater, I was determined to change my major to English—something I’d considered for a couple years but didn’t have the nerve to do. I was on the home stretch to graduation, though, and my earlier decisions had already extended my education an extra year; I just couldn’t stand the idea of tacking on one more. I convinced myself that a business degree would take me further than an English degree—such silliness. Having been out of school 20+ years now, I know it would’ve made no difference at all.

Still, I love music and books and poetry and creativity. I love making things—doing artsy shit does make my soul grow.

Every once in a while I check my blog stats because I love to see the weird search terms that brought people to my blog. This one made me laugh out loud—and I bet the searcher was just as disappointed not to find pictures of Debi’s sparkly butt as the ones who used to find me searching for “zac efron pantsless.”


This is kinda hard to read. Here’s what it says:

1) The “Lurker” - Never posts anything or comments on your post, but reads everything, and might make reference to your status if they see you in public.

2) The “Hyena” – Doesn’t ever really say anything, just LOLs and LMAOs at everything.

3) “Mr./Ms. Popular” - Has 4,367 friends for NO reason.

4) The “Gamer” - Plays Words With Friends, Mafia Wars, bakes virtual cakes and stuff, etc., ALL DAY.

5) The “Prophet” - Every post makes reference to God or Jesus.

6) The “Thief” - Steals status updates... and will probably steal this one.

7) The “Cynic” - Hates their life, and everything in it, as evidenced by the somber tone in ALL of their status updates.

8) The “Collector” - Never posts anything either, but joins every group and becomes fans of the most random stuff.

9) The “Promoter” - Always sends event invitations to things that you ultimately delete or ignore.

10) The “Liker” - Never actually says anything, but always clicks the ‘like’ button.

11) The “Hater” - Every post revolves around someone hating on them, and they swear people are trying to ruin their life.

12) The “Anti-Proofreader” - This person would benefit greatly from spellcheck, and sometimes you feel bad for them because you don’t know if they were typing fast, or really can’t spell.

13) “Drama Queen/King” - This person always posts stuff like ‘I can't believe this!’ or ‘They gonna make me snap today!’ in the hopes that you will ask what happened, or what’s wrong... but then they never finish telling the story.

14) “Womp Womp” - This person consistently tries to be funny... but never is.

15) The “News” - Always updates you on what they are doing and who they are doing it with, no matter how arbitrary.

16) The “Rooster” - Feels that it is their job to tell Facebook "Good Morning" every day.

Which one are you? I think I’m the Lurker or the Liker most the time.

I used to think anything “sock monkey” was adorable. I have now been proven wrong.

I love this path design and would definitely do it to the path in our front yard if we didn’t have The Great Re-arranger next door. Yep, Alex likes to move our fountain rocks around—good thing we don’t spend time making them look perfect. If I did this path design, I would get all yell-y whenever anyone came near it. I don’t want to be the neighborhood’s Crazy Lady.

Still… isn’t it pretty? Maybe for the backyard???

Sherilee posted this on her blog yesterday. I love the sentiment, and the pretty pretty pretty handwriting is icing.

How awesome is this pregnancy announcement???

That’s good for now. Have a lovely Saturday!


Apr. 27: Jen’s experiment

sfwI’m kind of on a countdown right now… I have approximately 56 hours left until my voluntary torture begins: National Screen-Free Week is April 30-May 6 and I’m giving it a try. Will I make it to May 6? My magic 8-ball says “outlook not so good.” That’s also what my mouth says. And my friends’ mouths. My mean, horrible, evil friends’ mouths.

I’ve been NOT looking forward to the start of SFW so much that I thought it started Sunday, not Monday. Just now, when I calculated the 56 hours I have left? It was 24 more than I expected. That should make me happy, right? Well, less grouchy, at the very least. And yet… I still don’t want to do this SO MU H. I can do it; I’m pretty sure of that. I just don’t really want to.

No one’s making me turn off all my screens. This event is something the PTO is sponsoring at Jack’s school as part of our reading incentive month; encouraging the kids to go screen-free but not doing it myself would be hypocritical, wouldn’t it?


And that means you’re about to meet Screen-Free Jen, the Surliest Girl This Side of Anyone Who Dares to Mention One of Her Favorite TV Shows.

TV itself is not a problem—I almost never watch TV on a television. I watch it ALL THE TIME on my computer and iThings, though. That will have to stop. Here’s what I won’t be doing April 30-May 6:

  • Watching Hulu+, nbc.com, cbs.com, abc.com, etc. Whose sick joke was it to schedule Screen-Free Week during sweeps? Imma stab someone for that.
  • Facebook. This one’s a killer, since it’s my sole method of communication with lots of friends. It’s also a tremendous time-waster. If I could just use FB to keep up with friends’ news, I think it’d be fine, but NO. They have to go and post funny videos and links and make Facebook a big no-no for SFW. Damn my entertaining friends!
  • Blogging. Pretty sure the world can live without my nonsense for a week.
  • Playing games on my phone. I waste HOURS every week playing games on my phone—it’s what I do while waiting for Jack to get out of school, how I slow/shut down before I go to sleep, how I avoid talking to people while standing in lines… games like Scramble with Friends, Draw Something, Drop7, and Sudoku have become habits and will be hard to give up. I predict I’ll forget more than once. Should you see me forgetting, you do NOT have permission to slap my phone out of my hand, y’hear???
  • Pinterest. Screen-Free Week was made for us Pinterest addicts, pretty sure.

Here’s stuff I’ll still be doing:

  • Reading/answering email. I’m not about to cut myself off from the world in EVERY way.
  • Texting. I don’t text excessively as it is, so this is not a form of time-wasting screen entertainment.
  • Working. I’m still going to use my computer for school and work stuff. It’s using screens for entertainment that I’ll avoid.
  • Checking weather and news. Again, I have no intention of shutting out the world.
  • Listening to music. I can have Pandora on without staring at the screen for hours, so I say music on my iPod is fine.

What will I do? Here’s the flyer I made for the kids at school that has one beellion ideas.

  • Read a book or fifty. At our Moms’ Book Exchange Night this week, I picked up eight new books. That should be enough to get me through SFW Day One.
  • Nap. I loves me my naps, SFW or not.
  • Go for walks. Maybe take one of the dogs along.
  • Build a fort. IT WILL BE AWESOME.
  • Whine. Probably a lot. Vic will probably Facebook about it. Watch and see.
  • Drink heavily.

Screen-Free Week used to be TV Turnoff Week, back in the olden days before we walked around with an iDevice in each hand. It’s also been called Digital Detox Week. It’s a time to unplug and “engage in life” for seven days—long enough to get in a habit of easily finding non-screen forms of entertainment. Really, it’s a very good idea; I could use some detox-ing. Of course, I’ll probably pick up a bunch of way-worse habits next week that I’ll need to detox from…

It’s trading one addiction for another.

And that’s what life’s all about, right?

Dare I ask you to join me in Screen-Free Week? I do. I dare.


Apr. 20: Next comes the haunting

If you’ve been here awhile, you’ve read the sometimes-humorous, mostly irritating stories about my grandma. I was going to give you links, but after reading over some of those posts, I decided that they make me sound more evil than I ever accused her of being. Actually, this one is pretty good. Just ignore the others for a while, OK?

Grandma died this afternoon.

She was in hospice for the last couple months, so it wasn’t a shock. Honestly, we’ve been expecting it for a few years now. I talked to her the other day and told her I loved her—I guess that’s my closure. Still, the finality of death is super-sucky; that part makes me sad. Mostly, I feel for my mom and her brother. The combination of relief and loss they’re feeling right now can be even more upsetting when it starts making moods swing like ca-razy. Of course, Mom and Uncle Paul are the ones who are really going to be resting in peace now. No more middle-of-the-night phone calls from Grandma!

When I was little, I thought my grandma was awesome. She was 18 years younger than my other grandma, so she seemed young and energetic in comparison. Her silly sayings (“Can you watch my purse? It’s got a million dollars in it!” … “You left some trademarks” –how she told us to pick up our stuff) and stopped-being-cute-years-ago ways (you’d say “I’ll pick you up at 10,” and she’d call at 8:30 accusing you of being late) became the stuff of family folklore. We will undoubtedly roll our eyes forever at those memories.

It was when I became an adult that Grandma and I started butting heads. I hope someday I’ll be able to put that crap away and just remember the good times, when she had both her legs, whined way less, and was fun to be around. One thing that definitely helps me forget the rotten stuff is that she was a pretty good great-grandma to Katie and Jack. I’m glad their memories of Nana will always be smiley ones. Here’s one of my favorites, when Jack was four years old and Grandma was 132:

For better AND worse, my grandma left her “trademark” on the world. No doubt about that.


Apr. 13: On unfriending and world peace

unfriendLike many people, I am in-real-life friends with about half of the people on my Facebook friends list. And, like many people, I have a very loose policy on friending and unfriending. OK, loose-ish.

I know this for sure: I won’t friend anyone I have no connection with whatsoever. Why do people send requests when they don’t have even one friend in common with me? Or an interest, or past, or anything? They’re collectors, I assume—they want to be the Facebook user who has one beeeellion friends. Ugh.

I also know this: it takes a LOT for me to unfriend someone. I’m not talking about the cleaning-up stuff, the I-barely-know-this-person-why-are-they-on-my-list unfriending, but consciously clicking “unfriend” because you are saying I DO NOT LIKE THIS PERSON.

Because, and you know this if you’re even a little bit FB-savvy, if a friend drives you nuts you simply remove them from your feed and voila! You rarely see the things they post. This is the best way to handle people you like and/or are related to but have, say, polar opposite political views. Or they turn out to be the type who needs to constantly share every one of their emotions as they occur. Or you just don’t have the heart to let them know the minutiae of their lives does not really matter to you. These kinds of friends *might* be harmless, but they also might be the people who can mess up your mood in a single post.

“Hide” is a fabulous little housekeeping tool.

Cleaning up my feed makes my visits to Facebook an absolute joy. Well, most the time. Sometimes the people in my feed share bad news. That sucks. But I don’t take it personally. (Ha.)

I avoid unfriending because it’s such a passive-aggressive way to tell someone how I feel. Although I’ve probably been unfriended more times than I know (that fbDefriended app came along long after I joined FB), there have been just a handful of times that I’ve really cared. The first time I was unfriended, I was hurt—it was someone who had become dear to me, and it showed me that we weren’t friends in real life after all. The second time someone unfriended me, I was baffled. It was in response to an exchange of emails about our kids. In talking with mutual friends afterward, we concluded that this woman is cuckoo-crazy—not because she no longer wanted to be friends with me, but because her response to our conversation was so rash… also because she continued to harass me indirectly by telling her kid that I didn’t love mine, and sending nasty letters to the school principal. WHAT!ever.

The third time I was unfriended broke my heart, and I won’t talk about it here.

I’ve got a short but powerful “blocked” list—I don’t see them and they don’t see me. There are three or four people on my list that are there because I don’t want them to find me or the people I love. The others are people I absolutely do NOT want to see when I’m going along my merry Facebook way, enjoying my very filtered feed. La la la la la la life is better if I pretend you don’t exist la la la la la!

meaniesI’ve with-malice-and-aforethought unfriended people on Facebook two times. The first time was soon after joining, when the person posted “I’m almost to 1,000 friends! Help me get there!” I clicked that unfriend button soooo hard. Not a fan of the collectors!

The second time was today. I know, I know—passive-aggressive. But, to be fair, the person I unfriended today is a complete asshole.

And yet I still feel like a total shit for the unfriending. I mean, it’s not like I wouldn’t tell this asshole to its asshole face that it’s an asshole, given the opportunity (which brings up an entirely different type of guilt, that it would be so easy for me to say that). I gave this a lot of thought;  it verges on the ridiculous that I took it so seriously. While it was the right thing to do to keep my mental state in the she’s-not-going-to-explode range, I have an icky, I’m-a-terrible-person feeling, which is weird because I’m pretty sure the people who have unfriended me haven’t given it a second thought.

Geez. I like life way better when everyone’s getting along and bad stuff doesn’t happen and people are happy and nothing changes and I don’t feel frowny-faced and I don’t do things that make other people frowny-faced and the sky is sunny and blue and I’m thin and gorgeous and I don’t pop the blood pressure cuff. It sucks to pop the blood pressure cuff.


Apr. 4: Our trip to Long Beach

Our 15th wedding anniversary was right before the very busy school carnival in February, so we had to delay our out-of-town celebrating. This past weekend we went to Long Beach, Washington. If you’re not familiar with Long Beach—I was surprised how many friends had never heard of it—it’s on the Washington coast, just across the border.



Long Beach is 28 miles long, and is supposedly the longest stretch of beach in the U.S. One big draw to Oregonians is that in Washington, you can drive on the beach. Yes, Oregon beaches are beautiful and pristine, but they don’t have tire tracks. Anyway…

Sunday we left home and drove up to Astoria. It was rainy and an un-fun drive. It snowed as we drove through the coast range—it snowed big, fluffy, happy flakes that stuck to the ground. In any other month but April, this might make me giddy. However, since I’ve seen enough early spring snow this year to last me a lifetime, the snow in the coast range made me curse big, fluffy angry words.

When we got to Astoria, we had no idea what to do. We had planned on walking around, exploring the newly restored areas of Astoria, but none of that seemed so appealing in the pouring-down rain. So here’s what we did:

  1. Drove around. Boooooring.
  2. Found the Goonies house. It was open to foot traffic only and we decided we didn’t love the movie enough to get out in the rain to peek into the house—which people actually live in, so, y’know, that’s stalker-y.
  3. Found Astoria Elementary School, where several scenes from Kindergarten Cop were filmed. It looked pretty much like we expected, i.e., yawn.
  4. Looked for the Astoria Column. I distinctly remembered from my field trip there in third grade that it wasn’t on a hill, but we saw signs and they were most certainly leading us up a hill. I think they might have moved the Astoria Column sometime in the past 35 years. It totally was not on a hill back then. Or maybe the city just sank all around it. That’s it.

    And since when is it the Astoria Column and not the Astor Column? Back in my day… Seriously, I can’t find anything anywhere about why or when the name was changed. Pretty sure someone’s messing with me. Or maybe I’ve called it the wrong thing all these years. That can’t be, can it?

    We found the dang thing, parked, and started the 164-step climb up. It’s a very narrow and steep metal spiral staircase, and it took several minutes to climb, what with the stopping for the catching of the breath. I kept asking Vic if he was sure he wanted to climb because he’s somewhat (read: very) afraid of heights. He kept insisting he was fine, but the second we got to the top and went out he said he needed to go back down. Weeeener.

    (I couldn’t climb those steps in third grade. I started up and turned back around over and over. I was scared to death. This time I wasn’t scared; I was mostly just “meh” about it. I mean, it’s not like I was gonna see Paris or London at the top. Sheesh. Yeah, I know I should turn in my “proud life-long Oregonian” card right now.) 

    It was cold at the top, and I had no interest in admiring the cloudy view from on high, so I followed Vic back to the ground. Here’s a picture he took before he hightailed it outta there:

    Although it is almost as ugly, that is not my hair
  5. I know the bridge in the photo doesn’t look all that impressive, but it kind of is. It’s the Astoria-Megler Bridge and the longest of its kind in the U.S.—four miles. Crossing it means a heck of a long time on one bridge, I can tell you that. Here’s a cool panoramic pic of the bridge (scroll down). My favorite view while crossing was actually the one in my lap—looking at the GPS and seeing blue all around us. I may or may not have made a blasphemous comment about us driving on water. 

So, it turns out that most of what we know about Astoria is based on movies that were filmed there. That is sad. I enjoy learning about our state history, but I must not have paid much attention on that field trip because I don’t remember what any of those landmarks are about. However, when Vic reminded me what Cape Disappointment was, I suggested that if the explorers named it today, it’d be Cape OMG Where the Eff is That River?  …which makes me think creating my own Oregon history is way better.

After we crossed the bridge we were in Washington state and a few minutes later we got to Long Beach.


We stayed at the Adrift Hotel, which is a newly refurbished spot on the south end of the town of Long Beach. I read lots on tripadvisor beforehand, so Adrift’s philosophy (and décor) was not a surprise:

Owners, Brady and Tiffany Turner, acquired the former Edgewater Inn with a particular vision in mind. They wanted to create a hotel that was unique, modern, fun, and relaxed...an ocean front retreat for all types of travelers to fully enjoy. They had previously built the '"Inn at Discovery Coast", which is a boutique inn with twelve well appointed ocean front rooms right next to Adrift. The Inn at Discovery Coast caters to couples. With Adrift Hotel, they wanted to offer something for everyone; couples, groups, individuals, professionals and families alike. They wanted to provide clean, modern rooms with a minimalist and relaxed feel. They care about the earth and its resources and wanted to remodel and operate the hotel with the environment and sustainability in mind. Much of the decor and furnishings throughout the property are reclaimed and/or recycled. Through operations, the hotel uses green and recycled products as much as possible.

It’s hilarious to read reviews of the hotel from people who did NOT do any research before their arrival. I’m not so sure I would be thrilled about the minimalist feel if I wasn’t expecting it, but that’s why I research options before I make hotel reservations. Duh, idiot travelers. Anyway, we LOVED Adrift. Yes, it was very simple, but it was also clean and comfortable. We had a deluxe ocean view room, and Vic got friendly with the chaise near the window immediately. Across the room, I discovered that if I sat in the bed just so, I could see the ocean in the mirror by the window. I didn’t have to move my arse to see the ocean! I loved that!

Here was the view from our room when we first arrived:


Although the clouds never completely disappeared during our stay, we had quite a bit of blue sky and sunshine the second day. The third day was rainy and icky again, making it slightly easier to leave for home than it usually is when we’re at the coast.

We went through Astoria again and made a quick detour to Cannon Beach, just in time to see a teensy bit of sunshine. Vic and I stood next to each other and took pictures, one with an iPhone 3GS and one with an iPhone 4. Which do you think is which, and most importantly, which do you think is better???

Cannon BeachCannon Beach

The winner will be showered with praise. The loser will be taunted and booed until my throat is sore.


The beach is the big attraction in Long Beach, obviously. There’s a short boardwalk that begins and ends at parts of the town that are good for exploring—in other words, I recommend combining the boardwalk trek with shopping/sightseeing. You can make bonfires on the beach, and of course, it’s nice for walking, kite-flying, beachcombing, clam-digging, biking, etc.

  • Driving on the beach. (Woo. Hoo.) Travel guides say that Long Beach is technically a state highway and regular rules of the road apply when driving on the beach. I think that’s kooky talk, but that’s because I’m an Oregonian. I also hate pumping my own gas and paying sales tax.
  • Jake the Alligator Man. I’m not even going to post a link to this abomination. Google it yourself. He can be found at Marsh’s Free Museum, a gross souvenir-store/Goodwill/museum/you’ll-want-hand-sanitizer/taffy-store.
  • The giant frying pan. I don’t get what’s so neato about a big frying pan or the oversized clam they display next to it. Laaaame.
  • World Kite Museum & Hall of Fame. Wow, that’s so boring I fell asleep typing it out. I saw the kite museum (it’s on the same street as Adrift Hotel) and still can’t believe it exists. Let’s see, a more boring museum theme… World Toast Museum & Hall of Fame. World Toothbrush Museum & Hall of Fame. World Extension Cord Museum & Hall of Fame. World Cracker Museum & Hall of Fame.
  • Surrey, moped, and bike rentals. We planned to rent mopeds our last day but it was too rainy. Bummer.


Tuscany Café, in Ilwaco. This hidden little gem was an amazing find (thank you, tripadvisor!). Delicious Italian food, the best chocolate mousse I’ve ever had, and a gorgeous presentation of bananas flambé.

Lost Roo, in Long Beach. It’s pretty much a non-chain version of Outback. I had a grilled chicken sandwich with bacon, roasted chile, and avocado—big yum. Liked the choice of fries or tots. Also enjoyed the cranberry bistro salad—perfect proportions of all ingredients.

Castaways Seafood Grille, in Long Beach. My food was below so-so. Vic got fish and chips and said it was fine.

Pig ‘n Pancake, in Astoria. We always go here as kind of a joke—like, “Oh, we have to go to Pig ‘n Pancake! It’s an Oregon Coast tradition!” but then we eat there and we’re all YEAH, UM, THIS IS SAMBO’S. However, the food wasn’t terrible this time and, in fact, I had eggs Benedict that was actually pretty good.

We enjoyed our relaxing getaway, and we hope to take the kids to Long Beach the next time we want to do something coast-y beyond Lincoln City/Newport or Cannon Beach. They’ll like Long Beach; we’re eager to go back when the weather’s nicer. What stands out most from our weekend, though, is how glad we feel to mark 15 years of being married. We look forward to 15 more. (But that’s it. Thirty, tops.)



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