Jul. 31: July in review

july2012Time to summarize July at the Manullangs’ house.

Special days I celebrated this month and how:

  • Independence Day. Quiet-ish celebration at home but-cept for a little bit of blowin’ shit up after dark.
  • Relay for Life 2012!
  • Darlene’s and Alec’s birthdays. The fam gathered at Darlene and Wellington’s. Fun was had by all, especially those who ate that cake Sonya brought.
  • Victor turned older on July 29. We didn’t do a whole lot, but in two years: WATCH OUT. Big celebration for the elderly guy in my house!

Books I read this month:

  • One Thousand White Women: The Journals of May Dodd, by Jim Fergus. I loved this story, loved the white woman’s view of the blending of cultures.
  • I started reading several books that I didn’t finish, either because they were totally uninteresting or simply not my thing. What a waste of time with those. Ugh.
  • We met Carlos Ruiz Zafon, author of The Shadow of the Wind, at Powell’s last week and I bought his latest book (The Prisoner of Heaven) and the one before it, The Angel’s Game. They are all part of the Cemetery of Forgotten Books series. So excited to go back to that place! He’s a very talented storyteller.

Movies and TV shows worth mentioning:

  • I’ve been watching a little Olympics, but otherwise not much interests me on TV these days.
  • I finally got the second season of Samantha Who? on DVD. I really loved that show. So much.
  • Mirror Mirror. Cute-sy cute.
  • It was neither a movie nor a TV show, but we saw Jersey Boys on its stop in Portland last week. I made the mistake of not checking the appropriateness of the show for 10-year-olds, and Jack heard more profanity in three hours than he’s heard in his whole life. Oops. Heh heh.

New recipes or restaurants we tried:

  • No new restaurants; just returned to some of our favorites.
  • No new recipes, either. Jack and I baked cookies today and I was instantly reminded of why I hate baking cookies. An all-day summer project involving constant use of the oven? No thanks. Come talk to me when you have a Popsicle in your hand.

Special or unusual purchases we made:

  • Guitar strings to replace the ones that kept snapping on Katie’s new guitar.
  • I floated again. Got kinda bored this time.
  • I bought a LOT of polished river rocks so I could make one of these:


This month’s disappointments:

  • That guitar string problem.
  • Vic’s stay-cation. (I hate that word so much. No, I resent that word so much. We needed to get o-u-t of here.) It was nice having him home for a week, though.
  • Football camps and practices started. Sorry, Jill, but for me, it super-sucks.

My accomplishments:

  • I almost have all the glue off me after making the river rock doormat. For a couple days, I felt like Clark Griswold in this scene from Christmas Vacation:


  • We got a good report from the oncologist on my 18-month post-treatment tests. I don’t think anything I did had anything to do with that happening, so to call it an accomplishment is awfully generous. Let’s just say it happened and it was a good thing. There.
  • We organized our garage and took loads of stuff to Goodwill. Related: someone stole our stove—but it was our old one, so we didn’t care. Related: we got Katie to give up a bunch of stuff (though you’d never know it by looking at her room) for the neighbors’ garage sale. Related: I cleaned and cleaned and cleaned. And cleaned. I also cleaned.
  • Another Pinterest-inspired project: these planners. The glass in the frames (I used two of these) makes a good dry-erase surface, and the scrapbook paper inside serves as separator between days. Every week I change the headings and write in the upcoming week’s stuff. These hang in the kitchen where everyone in the family can see them and now they are no longer allowed to yell at me for not telling them what’s going on. It’s working well so far.


  • I got  my new laptop set up with minimum difficulty, and now I hardly even notice that it’s a different one. Whew. Don’t get me wrong; I’m still bitter that I had to buy a new one.
  • I didn’t kill anyone, even though several people who crossed my path TOTALLY asked for it.

Anything else noteworthy:

  • Pamela Ribon’s newest book, You Take it From Here, came out on July 3. My name is in it. I’m way more proud of that than I deserve to be. Acknowledgement or not, I loved the book and encourage all y’all to buy it.
  • We got to hang with the Fukais for the first time in way too long. Val and I caught up on People magazine news, Vic and Chris enjoyed their new fire pit, Jack dressed up in a skirt with a parasol, and Katie got schooled by Val in a Nerf gun fight (followed by Val shooting herself in the face).

nerf guns

  • We met up with Debi and Greg while they were in Portland last weekend. Greg got a new dress! Yes, some might call it a kilt, but I called it a dress. In Portland, he was not even given a second glance because in Portland, guys in kilts aren’t even a little bit unusual. Portland is so weird and awesome. Debi and Greg aren’t so bad either.
  • OMG, OMG, OMG! Snoop Dogg changed his name. That’s noteworthy, right? Yahoo News thought so and put it all big and headline-like on my page. Yay???

Bring it, August. I’m ready for ya.


Jul. 22: Sleepwalk with him

I recently finished reading Sleepwalk with Me: and Other Painfully True Stories, by comedian Mike Birbiglia. I’ve also been listening to bits and pieces of his act on Pandora and Slacker, and please don’t tell his wife or my husband, but I have a bit of a monster-sized crush on him. I do. I likes me the funny.

And this guy is fun-NEE (not p’awkward, as one critic suggested, at all!). I want to take a long car ride with him and, since I hate how boring long car rides are, force him to talk the entire time. He’s a hilarious storyteller; his sharing about serious health issues are way more entertaining than they should be. The fact that one of his more well-known sleepwalking episodes occurred in Walla Walla makes him even more appealing (never mind that I was long-gone from WW by the time he was there; the very slightest of connections to it is still… p’awesome).

He has a movie coming out (here’s the trailer) in August/September, and if it interests you more to know that Ira Glass was involved, Ira Glass was involved. There are lots of videos of Birbiglia doing stand-up on YouTube. One of my favorite videos is this one, in which he costars with NPR’s Terry Gross, whose fine interviewing skills extend way past her studio:

If you’re not already familiar with Mike Birbiglia, take a few moments to enjoy him now.


Jul. 16: Our water dog

We took our gigantic Lab puppy to the river today. Did you know there’s a river near us? Yeah yeah, the Willamette and  Columbia run through Portland, but I’m talking about the Clackamas River, which is popular with rafters and drunks and a bunch of people drown in it every year. This river is super-close to us—like walking distance-close—and I don’t think I’d actually ever been on it before today.

The problem with going to a river we’ve never been to before is we didn’t exactly know how to get there. I mean, it’s a long, wind-y thing and we drove along it for miles. There were people out there. HOW DID THEY GET OUT THERE? We couldn’t figure it out. All we wanted to do was park the car and walk out into the water—no boat ramp necessary. We wanted a beach-ish area and shallow water. That’s it.

We eventually ended up at Clackamette Park, which is where the Clackamas and Willamette rivers meet. I know it best as the park at which a scene from Grimm was set last season, and also from the time it was underwater during the floods of 1996.

“The floods of 1996.” That makes me sound like an old lady. Back in myyyy day, this was all underwater, far as the eye could see, dontcha know. You kids today don’t know floods like we knew floods. Anyhoooo…

Lucy hadn’t experienced a river before, but she loved it like we expected she would. It would have been fun to let her off the leash to see if she’d swim, but we just don’t know how much we can trust her yet. She was especially interested in four ducklings swimming by, and I was a little worried her instincts might kick in and suddenly we’d have ourselves a bird dog. No thanks.


On the way home, we bought a very small kiddie pool for our water-loving girl. She’s a fan. She sloshed around happily and then came inside to shake herself dry. (We’re still working out the kinks on learnin’ her proper pool behavior.)


Later this week: the Oregon coast. Happy Lucy!


Jul. 13: Poor me. Yeah.

hatefootballTonight, as I tore a chunk off a fresh, crusty baguette, I wondered if I might not have cut the correct amount of brie to go with it. Isn’t that the worst, when your brie-to-baguette ratio is way off? You try to fix it and suddenly the whole baguette gets eaten by me.

My computer died suddenly last week, and I spent this week researching replacements, purchasing the replacement, and transferring files from the old to new computer. I can’t remember the last time I bought a new computer and was excited about it—nowadays they have such short life spans that they’re never really an upgrade from the previous one. I’m not excited; I’m just all pissy that I have to fork out the $$ for a new computer. Grrr.

This new laptop has a number pad (bonus!) but the keyboard layout is just different enough that I’m mis-typing everything. Here’s the same sentence with my fingers on the keys that *feel* right:

yjod mre ;s[yp[ jsd s mi,nrt [sf z9npmid@) niy yjr lrunpstf ;supiy od kidy foggrtrmy rmpihj yjsy O

, ,od-yu[omh rbrtuyjhomh/

Vic has all next week off work, so we were hoping to get out of town for a few days. When I put all of Jack’s football clinics and camps on the calendar, though, it seems that football-related things might just keep us from going more than a couple hours away, and we’re definitely not going anywhere overnight. As if I didn’t already have a good enough reason to hate football (my reason: “just cuz”), I super-DOOPER hate it now. Pfft.

I had a really great story to share on my blog about when Victor and I first started dating and now I can’t remember it.

Yup, those are Jen’s First-World Problems of the Day. Week. Whatever. I’m whiny.


Jul. 10: Relay for Life 2012

This past weekend, finally, was Relay for Life. During the months of planning leading up to July 7 and 8, I was eager to participate. Friends and family motivated me further as they registered for our team and asked how they could help with fundraising. My spirits were high; Relay is an event I've really come to enjoy.

If you’ve been involved with Relay before, you know that much of its 24-hour length is a roller coaster of emotions, topped with an exceedingly powerful reminder of the hope we have to find a cure for that asshole of a disease, cancer. It’s exciting to honor the survivors at Relay, and the event planners give us lots of opportunities to celebrate that we’re still here. Caregivers are also given special recognition. The Luminaria ceremony is a touching and solemn time to honor everyone who's ever heard the words "You have cancer," and a time to remember loved ones who lost their fight. Relay truly honors everyone.

I expected that Relay would be as emotional an experience as it’s been in the past two years. But when Relay day actually arrived, I felt detached from the celebration part of it. I mean, I participated in all of the survivor activities and fundraised my ass off, but I could tell I wasn’t all in. It was as though part of my brain had shut off—the part that would have let me break down into a crumpled mess of snotty tears on the track. And I say that it was my brain, not my heart, because my heart is a big idiot that doesn't know when too much is too much.

Apparently this was too much.

I can't share the specifics of WHY it was too much (I'm not even sure what they are), but here's what I know:
  • I'm fine, health-wise. Ish. Actually, today I had an 18-month post-treatment scan and it looked good, so there is little to worry about there.
  • I'm exhausted from staying up too late for too many nights, stressing over silly stuff, and trying to make everything be perfect. 
  • I've slept at least 18 hours a day for the past three days.
  • My mom is fabtaculous.
  • The part of my brain that shut off was apparently the part that knew when to apply sunscreen. I am very, very ouchy.
The good news is that our little event raised $60,000 for American Cancer Society, and our team was responsible for nearly $4,000 of that. Cancer can sooooo suck it.

P.S. Please ignore the straight quotes and apostrophes. I have NOT the energy to fix them.

Jul. 1: June in review

june2012Shoulda posted this yesterday. Oops.

Special days I celebrated this month and how:

  • The last day of school on June 14. From what I remember, it was a good time.
  • Mother Mary’s birthday. We took her out for lunch but that’s about it. Bad Jen.
  • Father’s Day. I don’t remember how we celebrated. Wow. I’m a terrible daughter and wife.

Gifts I gave and/or received this month:

  • End-of-the-school-year parting gifts from friends. Such sweet surprises!
  • Mother Mary’s birthday gift was a slightly customized version of this bracelet. I got myself a matching one. The etsy seller has some really fun items—she’s my new favorite. 


Books I read this month:

Movies and TV shows worth mentioning:

New recipes or restaurants I tried:

  • The kids and I had breakfast at IKEA. I like some of their regular food, but had never tried their breakfast before. It was delicious. Totally cheap and way yummy.
  • I made key lime cake balls. More accurately, they were cookie balls. Or truffles. Yes, truffles sounds better. Key Lime Truffles. Here’s the closest thing to the recipe I ended up using. They were pretty good, but I will definitely add more lime juice next time to cut the crazy-sweetness.

Special or unusual purchases I made:

  • We bought two tents for using at Relay for Life this year. I never thought I’d own a tent, since I hate camping so, so, so much, but THANK BUDDHA the North Clackamas Relay isn’t in the wilderness. With air mattresses and my favorite down comforter, I be way cozy, but JUST FOR ONE NIGHT. Then I go back to having a nighttime restroom closer than a half-lap away.
  • I bought the supplies for our Lap Beads Relay for Life fundraiser. My fingers are sore from adding jump rings to eleventy billion charms and lobster clasps.
  • Floats! I floated! I’ve pre-purchased four more floats; just the idea that I have them available to me at any time is relaxing all by itself. That’s weird, isn’t it?

This month’s disappointments:

  • We had to send Oliver away. Sad face.
  • June 7, the anniversary of my dad’s death, is always a tough day. It’s been seven years.
  • The weather. Ugh. We’ve had a few perfect and gorgeous days, but they’ve been unpredictable, with way, way too much rain and cold.
  • Sunshine visited, but then she left again.

My accomplishments:

  • My office is in a usable state again! Lucy’s got roaming rights to the entire house now, so I don’t have to be downstairs all the time and that means I’m pretty much living in my office. I like. I like very much. It’s a happy place.
  • I made planning calendars all pretty-like. Picture proof to come.
  • I lived through the school year. That’s big.

Anything else noteworthy:

  • Katie and Jack had their piano recitals—Katie’s fifth, Jack’s third. They’re both doing so well and really enjoy it—though if you ask Jack, he’ll deny it. Katie is starting guitar now, and I’m sooo glad it’s not violin. Early guitar practice, even when the notes are wrong, is much less likely to make my ears bleed than anything as vile as a violin. Vile-lin. THAT’S what it should be called.
  • One of Katie’s electives for the last term of sixth grade was Musical Theater. I don’t know why they called it that, because there was nothing musical about it. The class went to a high school play—not a musical, just a regular ol’ play—and their big performance at the end of the term was changed from an evening program to a during-class performance; most parents couldn’t even be there. We took off work to watch, and I was surprised at how unprepared the students were—they didn’t have props or microphones when they needed them, didn’t know their lines, and the whole thing was as though they were doing it for the first time. I don’t expect perfection, but I don’t see what guidance the teacher gave them at all. I was disappointed with what could have been a very fun learning experience for them.

    This wasn’t the only meaningless middle school elective, though… my friend’s daughter took a sewing class in which the only project was one of those no-sew fleece pillows. WTF???
  • I finally figured out how to get Jack to clean up his room: ground him. Unfortunately, he thought it was kinda cool to be grounded, so it took him a week to clean enough to be set free. Whatever… it’s done. We had to go through his garbage carefully, though. Where Katie keeps every scrap of paper EVER (oh, how I wish I were exaggerating), Jack throws out old yearbooks, pictures, books he wrote in first grade, and clothes. Sheesh.

Here’s to a sunny July! Smell ya later, doods.



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