Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The funny and the not so funny

Leif gets a kick out of making up lines of words to go along songs or nursery rhymes he hears. The other night for example, “Mary had a little lamb, little lamb, little lamb, Mary had a little lamb and she fell down on her nose!”

Hilarious, right?

Skadi has picked up this tendency. I kind of feel for Leif because I remember way back when my sister would say something funny and EVERYONE would laugh and think it was so funny. And I sat there with my jokes that drew rolled eyes.

(My favorite joke when I was 5 years old: “Why did the little girl monster eat bullets?” Answer: “Because she wanted to grow bangs!”)

Leif has modified his joke that we forbade him from saying anymore the other day. Now instead of asking “what’s your name?”, he asks, “what’s your first name?” When you look at him like ‘I told you we aren’t doing this’, he insists it is different. Now he asks for your first name, second name and last name, then goes on to “what color is the sky” and “what direction am I pointing?” Then he again insists it is different. And we scowl or roll our eyes.

(Brian, I told Leif your joke and he looked at me blankly… sorry!)

Then it just comes so naturally with Skadi.

Skadi: “Humpty dumpty sat on the wall, Humpty Dumpty had an atomic wedgie!”

Yes… sad to say, we all laughed. I know I probably shouldn't have encouraged it, it was just... just... so Skadi. Not sure where she picked up “atomic wedgie”…

And poor Leif is left wondering how to be funny like her.

Sorry Leif. Really sorry to have saddled you with a lack of joke telling ability.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Design major?


I am not a decorator. I loved art classes through high school and when I meet up with people who only knew me in high school, they typically speaking put me with the art crowd… not the science crowd. I started out college as a double major – biology and art. I dropped the art major deciding that I could do art anytime I wanted, what was more important was that I had a good paying job (and art wasn’t it). Soon after I switched from bio to chem.

Given that I liked art so much you might think that my home looks like a designer magazine.

Ha ha ha ha ha ha!

I suffer in the design department. Badly.

On houses in general…
When AB and I house shopped for both houses we toyed with the notion of “fixer uppers”. I envy people who can do that. Who can come up with neat layouts and see options in houses that need an upgrade. Who don’t mind flipping through tile after tile and carpet books and can make decisions on granite versus… well versus whatever the countertop of the minute is. We have dreamed about renovating a house and then we laugh. Our weekends are almost always full so doing it ourselves is out of the question and neither of us likes dealing with contractors. Flipping houses? Not for us.

On knick knacks…
Does it surprise you if I say that I am not into knick knacks? I don’t like things that collect dust. I don’t mind clutter and you will find clutter in my house. But something that is purposefully left out to collect dust? Doesn’t work for me. I don’t have shelves with things on them save for my china cabinet and hutch. When I do have a shelf, I am never quite sure what to put on it. I have a cute corner shelf in my entryway… no idea what I am supposed to put on it. Seriously. The cat likes to sleep on the bottom shelf and so it is half filled with a framed photograph, a wooden carved bird my dad sent me and a candle, then the bottom two shelves serve as a cat bed.

My hutch I love. My mom bought it for me one Christmas and I walked past it at Ennis a few times before AB pointed it out. I sat there and looked at it, not so sure about it. It wasn’t what I was envisioning. (Wasn’t even sure what I was envisioning.) But I liked the two tone black and wood. And functionality was there. It could hold my very few pieces of crystal and serving ware. Once it was in my home, it was perfect and now holds more china and crystal than I ever expected it would.

Speaking of those crystal pieces… during the trek to Colorado, and then Wyoming, in July I returned with luggage and to wait for about 8 boxes I shipped to myself. In the stacks of stuff are a few pieces of crystal from my grandmother’s house and some knick knack type things from my mom’s house. For as neat and tidy as my mom’s house was, they have a number of knick knacks. A few of those things spoke to me and I returned with things that I would deem to be knick knacks. Thus, I have been completely perplexed what to do with them. The crystal, notsomuch. It goes in my hutch. My mom’s five little pie birds? Well they belong out somewhere, not in a cupboard. Where… I haven’t quite figured out.

Knick knack type things perplex me.

On painting…
If you know me, then you also know that I love painting walls. This is my idea of decorating. I wasn’t always this way. My mom enjoyed painting when they bought a home after I graduated from high school. I didn’t always care for my mom’s color selection and techniques. So when we bought our first home I shy’d away from color. Then one boring weekend BC (before children) I painted a bathroom green. Before I knew it I was hooked and had an orange kitchen. Not everyone liked my orange kitchen… which is fine.

AB and I have taken a bit more conservative approach with painting in the new house. One problem we had in the other house was a lack of cohesiveness with color. We want to avoid that this time around and have taken loads more time to decide on colors than we ever did before. I had to have a colored wall to put my black and white photos on and so that was one of the first things we did. A deep green… that now doesn’t sit nearly as well with me as it did a year ago. Then we jumped to the kids’ rooms and I let my mom’s painting influence take over. The kids rooms include colors like black and pepto bismol pink.

Now I am faced with the dining room.

Amazingly AB and I are on the same page in the dining room. We don’t really argue over decorating much (because we don’t decorate much). But we don’t always see eye to eye on what should be done and IMO, my husband likes to be too involved somedays. Though fickle me… I want to make all the decisions, but don’t want to do all the work.

The July goal is nearly done, we have selected the color for the dining room – a slate grey blue color. Actually we have a few selections in this color scheme, but haven’t honed in on a color as the light is so bad in the dining room that we fear making a decision before changing out the chandelier. Taking things one step at a time… the August goal is looking like it will be a new chandelier followed by paint.

On art…

This is where I get really, really picky. I have an interior designer friend who really enjoys finding art to fit a space, but her husband drives her nuts. He believes that a piece of art on the wall should mean something, i.e., come from a vacation or have a story with it.

I agree with her husband.

We have a few prints by one of AB’s closest friends’ dad. They are in our favored contemporary style, are by someone we know and even better are personalized. We love our paintings.

And I like photographs that I (or someone else) has taken of subjects that I know. Namely, my kids. I have photos of my kids all over the house. For a long time they were professional photos that I paid an arm and a leg for after sitting in a studio with whiney kids. More lately, they have become photos that I have taken of the kids and then have processed professionally. I emulate my sister in law a lot. Even lately with family photos? The best ones are proving to be ones that our friends or family take and thus no whiney children in studios.

At the Colorado Renaissance Festival AB found a piece of art he loved and thought would work fabulously in our newly decorated dining room, but failed to get me back to see. This has created an unfortunate circumstance whereby he really, really wants the piece he found, but has no way to get it and furthermore, cannot find anything similar.

The challenges ahead…

Melding the treasures I found at my grandmother’s house, the items I took from my mother’s house and my design / d├ęcor together. We are talking three very different styles here – my grandmother’s antiques, my mother’s traditional styling and my contemporary stylings. Melding these three together is proving to be an interesting challenge.

Chandelier, oh chandelier, why must you be so ugly? Yes, replacing the chandelier in the formal dining room is a must. Soon. AB and I like this:
Once the chandelier goes then so does the matching window treatments and non-matching hardware. Window treatments. Yeah, I haven’t even gone there yet. Window treatments I will tackle AFTER the new chandelier and paint.

I wish I could say goodbye to the grey carpet that has seen better days, but that will still be awhile.

And my neverending battle with clutter.

Monday, July 19, 2010

To be a winner

Do you remember the first thing you won? Something you succeeded in all by yourself, with no help, or limited help from others?

I remember winning a poetry contest when I was in about 2nd grade. I wrote something about "Oreos and ice cream, such a lovely pair, I wish I could eat them everywhere!"

Ok, so I think there were more poems in it... it was a collection of poems and there had to be something else in there. Right? (I think there was a haiku requirement... "weep weeping willow, look at the soft fresh new dew, what a pretty tree"... rings a bell.)

I placed at gymnastics meets when I was a kid, winning first in one city meet at a pretty young age. I placed first on everything but the vault, which I placed third in, but still managed to pull the "all around" win. I remember the pride for that day like it was yesterday and I still have the ribbons and clipping from the newsletter.

Leif does well on soccer and his teams (both baseball and soccer) have won before. Not that they are actually supposed to know that, no score keeping and all... but tell that to a competitive nearly 6 year old. Scores are kept in their heads. And amazingly, they are very honest! When they lose, Leif declares a loss and doesn't sugar coat it. I think we underestimate our kids in this manner.

Leif had his first solo win at something this last week. We ventured to the Colorado Renaissance festival in Larkspur, CO with my sister and her family and Vargasgirl. For those of you from Washington, this is something like Leavenworth. The entire area is devoted to the Renaissance Festival and is the equivelent of a number of city blocks all in theme.
Leif is a gamer... he loves board games, iPhone games, Wii games, Leapster games... you name it. The kid loves games. At the festival were all sorts of skill games. Leif tested out many of them:

He succeeded at the rock wall only to find out there was no prize for ringing the bell...

I think the prize here is evident...


But Leif really honed in on the jousting:



While his sister watched... not thrilled that she couldn't do it.

Yes, he had to put that big stick through this little hole while flying through the air and steadying himself on a wooden horse.

It didn't happen. He got two tries for his money and walked away disappointed.
Then we saw the other jousting ring a little later and he convinced us to let him try it again. This one was a griffin, not a horse, that made all the difference I am sure.

Steady, steady...
Looking good!
He got it!!
And here is the part he was waiting for the entire day. The honor of standing on the podium while the referree announced very, very loudly to everyone around that Leif has succeeded at the jousting! Then he handed Leif a plastic knife with a sheath that has been THE object of his obsession for well over a week now. No plastic toy has EVER meant so much to him.

Funny things my kids said

In the Seattle airport, Skadi and I go into the crowded restroom where she promptly screams at the very top of her little lungs:

"WALK THE PLANK SCURVY DOGS!"

Scared two little old ladies to pieces. Sigh.

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Putting Leif to bed last night:

Leif: "But mommy, I want you to sleep with me!"

Me: "I love you honey, but I sleep in my bed and you sleep in yours."

Leif: "Well I don't understand your choice. I like painted rooms and I would only want to sleep in a painted room if I were you."

(If pleading doesn't work, change up the tactic I guess.)

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Skadi on the way home, last leg from Seattle to Pasco, headed down the stairs to the plane she turns around and looks at the woman behind us:

"I am going to Hawaii!"

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While in Colorado, Rick asked me to make a sign for the door downstairs so that the kids would stay out of the basement, where the kitties would be. Leif and I came up with a skull and cross bones that said, "Stay Out Scurvy Dogs". Leif was quite thrilled with it.

He came back up to me and told me that we needed a sign on the inside now that said, "Stay in Scurvy Cats!" Oh and he showed nearly every visitor all the while giggling.

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Leif inherited my talent for telling jokes. You should know that I have no talent for telling jokes and am somewhat notorious for getting to the end of the joke and blanking, which drove my husband up the wall. Now I don't tell jokes.

Leif has a joke he tells.

Leif: "What's your name?"

You: "[Insert name]"

Leif: "What color is the sky?"

You: "Blue."

Leif: "Which way am I pointing?" (He points up.)

You: "Up."

Leif: "Mommy (or whatever the name is) blew up! Ha ha ha ha ha ha!

He has been telling us this joke for nearly a year. The kid is in sore need of a new joke because we actually forbade him from telling it anymore while in Colorado. It is that desperate.

Please help him.

Soon.

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Putting Skadi to bed last night.

Me: "Skadi stop it, you kicked my glasses!"

Skadi: "No mommy, your glasses kicked my foot and it hurt very much."

I didn't laugh. Instead I held her bedtime books hostage until she apologized for kicking my glasses. It took awhile, but she eventually came around to see things my way.

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Not a kid funny... but the sad truth. I am switching my comments over to moderated because I can no longer stand the spam my blog is receiving. I really believe that a blog should have open comments and it has always bugged me to have moderated comments, but desperate times in fighting spam call for desperate measures. My apologies to everyone and I will work to get legit comments turned around as quickly as possible.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Two lifetimes of stuff

Part of our trip to Colorado has included plans to clean out / organize / distribute the stuff that accumulates after a lifetime. My grandmother has gone into an assisted living facility in Denver, which means that her home in Casper needs to be cleaned out and sold. My mom passed away just over two months ago and her stuff needs to be sorted through as well.

The very obvious aspect of this to the family involved is that these are two different worlds. If you have ever been in my grandmother's house, you would never forget it. My grandmother is from the Depression era. This means that she does not easily get rid of anything, ever. Her house is stacked deep. My grandmother doesn't really clean, so the house is grimy as well.

As a child I spent many years at my grandmother's house. We used to explore her basement and find all sorts of treasures. We would play hide and seek, we would draw on the little chalkboard, we would play dress up in the stacks of clothes. We would play on the ancient electric piano and we would stay away from the very scary dolls in the corner. I looked at the basement this time around happy that my children weren't with me. Danger was everywhere!

My mother was the opposite of my grandmother and she always claimed this was my grandmother's fault and I believe her. She didn't save things. My mom is a clean freak who spent every Saturday morning cleaning the house from top to bottom regardless of whether it needed it or not. My mom's house is cleaner than I can ever hope that my house would be... and I pay for a weekly housecleaner.

When you walk through my mom's basement storage there are no sheets hanging from the ceiling to create rooms, instead, they have clear plastic bins with neatly typed labels describing the contents. As a kid I was often irritated with my mom for getting rid of things. Yes, I admit it, I have packrat tendencies. As an adult - and especially after going through my grandmother's belongings - I can appreciate more my mom's tendency to rid her home of clutter.

During our days of cleaning out the houses of mother and daughter we have discovered a few more similarities than we ever anticipated. Both my mom and grandmother have an affinity for beauty products, lots of different beauty products. In my grandmother's case it is beauty products from the last 20 years that she has received as gifts and has all this time "saved for a special occasion" - eventually never to be used. My mom bought really great stuff and wonderful smelling soaps.

My mom, like me, couldn't ever get rid of a book. I inherited my love for books from her. A love for a fresh, brand new, clean, creaseless book. And despite reading it and maybe not even liking it? Getting rid of a book is just not something either of us does with ease.

All of us? Huge fans of photos. None of us have ever thrown away a photo, no matter how out of focus.

We have all moved away from Casper, Wyoming. So cleaning out my grandmother's house had to be a quick activity. We squished it in to a few days where the three remaining brothers and myself and my cousin went up and grabbed items we "needed". By the time I got there, many of the items were gone. But I spent a few hours picking through items. I got the crystal bowl that I admired as a child and that I was told I would someday get. My cousin took the matching cake pedestal. My grandmother had set aside a number of things with our names on them, she labeled special things as to who they had belonged to or which family member had made what. She put non-sticky paper tags in photo covers that said who each person in the picture was. For as grimy and stuffed to the gills her house was, things were actually a bit organized. I will never forget the box I pulled out that was labeled, "Travel memories, throw away when I am gone".

It was sad to see the boxes and boxes of every single school paper that my mom and her brothers had ever completed going into the dumpster. We all worried about how much money was thrown away... my grandmother was notorious for hiding money. And we all wondered if we weren't throwing away old pieces of art that were just maybe a missing Rembrandt. But time... none of us had it to put towards picking through things paper by paper.

I drove off with my mom's wedding dress, some questionable valuables, a Little Black Sambo book, an original copy of Old Yeller, a blanket and pillow that my great grandmother made, the crystal bowl I wanted, a set of Depression glass with a very funky and fun pattern, photos, my grandmother's nursing service pins, and many coins of questionable worth. I packed up a stack of my mom's and my grandmother's school papers. (Me = packrat) I also grabbed my great uncle's purple heart and am hoping I can get his address and send it to him someday. I am sure he doesn't remember that my grandmother was holding it for him for some reason.

I helped my stepdad in clearing through some of my mom's stuff. I took a few of her cookbooks that I remember as a child and that held a few of my drawings as well as some of her newer cookbooks. I took her rolling pins and her good pie pans, her sweater from Ireland, some nice outdoor wear, loads of fancy soaps, lots of Aveda products (we both have a weak spot for anything labeled Aveda) and some jewelry.

Clearing out both houses provided very different experiences. Clearing my grandmother's house was enjoyable, an adventure coupled with a little fear of reaching my hand into each box. She has had a long and good, active life with a lot of accomplishments. Helping her on to that last stage in life.

Clearing my mother's house is bittersweet as I held items in my hands that I knew my mother still had dreams of using. Things that she should still be using. Helping my stepdad move onto the next phase of his life.

Friday, July 09, 2010

Fridays = Mondays?

Since when did this happen? And is anyone else having this problem?

It used to be that Wednesdays were my busy work days, now it is Thursdays and Fridays.

Mondays are those notorious days that everyone rolls their eyes about. Maybe if you have a big week, people will meet on Mondays and assign duties on those big projects. I have never been on those types of projects. Mondays tend to be quiet in my world and I think that is the case around the lab. No one I know is usually swamped on Mondays, we need to ease into the week.

Tuesdays aren't as relaxing as Mondays. I think we start on Tuesdays to slowly ramp up the week. Tuesdays are days commong for meetings. Clients - at least mine - usually travel on Mondays and start their days visiting on Tuesdays. Tuesdays are nice days.

Wednesdays were always my busy days. I think it is the day that a lot of people get busy. Wednesdays are common for meetings and wrapping up or continuing client visits.

Thursday is when my week starts to kick into full gear. One of my clients and my team hold our weekly teleconference. And because we are gluttons for punishment... or we just like each other a whole lot... we then hold our internal meeting afterward.

I walk in on Fridays with my "Friday latte" and it is quiet. A lot of people take Fridays off (I assume) or they come in early and leave early. Or something. Or maybe they are just like me... and really, really busy.

My Fridays lately have been absolutely swamped. This morning I was in at 7:30 for a teleconference with an east coast client who was hoping to escape early in the afternoon. Then I had a number of other meetings thrown on my schedule. This doesn't seem to be an anomaly.

Fridays? Busy in my book.

Anyone else?

Sunday, July 04, 2010

July Goals

My goal for the month of July is to decide on a design tactic for my dining room. I have no intention of tackling the decorating in July - just too much going on - I just want to have a strategy in mind.



Part of that strategy allows for time to convince AB of my plan!

In no way did I expect to have this complete by July 4th.

Ok, so it isn't totally complete as in paint this color and start here and stop here.
Nope, my first goal was to convince AB that the dining room needed to be addressed. Thanks to my sister in law, who has been residing with us for a few months now, this became a little easier.

"Well we actually have been using the room a fair amount, that makes it easier to justify" AB relented way too easily. "What were you thinking?"

"Slate," I replied.

AB's eyebrows raised in an intrigued manner.

"With some sort of light neutral, like a tan or something, just a bit darker than the off-white that is already here, something close to the color in the coffer," I went on enthused by the lack of puking noises on his part.

"What would you paint?" he asked.

"The wall with the buffet, the wall with the arch and maybe the stairs wall," I replied.
"Well you probably would want to hit some in the coffer I think," he goes on. (This is going well... maybe we can do this!"
"And in an ideal world we would dump the light fixture and the curtains too," I said seeing my chance.
"Really?" AB said, "but I thought those were your favorite things in the house?" He joked. "What do you think of doing it in one of the textured paints?"

Ok, so maybe we haven't been through the hardest part yet, selecting the actual colors... but I am making up for only having four recipes written out from June's goal!

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Fishergirl


I was born in Central Wyoming to a father who enjoyed fishing and a grandfather who lived fishing. From a young age I had a pole in my hand.

Through the years I continued to fish even into high school. I went fishing on occasion with one of my best friends, Brian, from high school. I remember one night camping out at a lake around a bunch of old people (who were all quite nice) and fishing. The wind blew so hard that night I feared the tent was going to blow away with us in it.


Given that my husband's moniker is "Alaska Boy", you can probably guess that I have fished in Alaska. One of our most recent trips I even outfished AB for sockeye!

One of my favorite Alaska fishing memories is fishing with my mother in law at 1am with wine glasses in our hands. We have fished in a number of different places in Alaska - the Kenai peninsula, Talkeetna area, and King Salmon.

AB hasn't fished much in this area though we keep talking about changing that. Leif has a desire to fish and he caught his first fish, a nice rainbow trout, in Alaska two years ago. AB needs to get out there with Leif.

AB has his list of fish to catch - salmon shark tops the list, but includes sturgeon and tuna.

For Father's Day this year I decided to get AB a sturgeon fishing charter. I conspired one morning (while in a meeting) with a coworker who is an avid fisherman. When I told him what I wanted to do he rattled off a phone number. One of his good buddies is a guide and would be happy to take AB out.

I called and organized the trip after giving in and divulging to AB my plans. See putting anything on AB's schedule is hard. AB was thrilled.
Unfortunately the first trip was cancelled. There is an issue with trying to get a single guy, one guy I mean, on a charter. No guide is going to take a single person out. The guide worked with me trying to fit AB on with other groups, but it wasn't looking good.
Finally one evening I said to AB, "I could probably go with".

I hadn't really thought about it to that point. It isn't an inexpensive venture, but I love fishing too. AB smiled. The big issue with doing this lies with the kids. Being out of touch of the school, the kids in daycare, is a tough thing. Thankfully we have great friends who can back us up!

I called and asked him to fit us in and offered a few days. Thursday night he called and asked if we wanted to go out the next day. Even though my gut said no way, too short notice, what about the kids, this is less than 12 hours notice, I agreed to go.


AB caught the first sturgeon.




I got the second... when our guide saw him jump he had me sit down in the chair and brace myself...


Then he jumped again and I completely freaked out!



Once I got the fish all worn out - after about 20 minutes - I passed it off to AB to pull in. (Which only took about 40 minutes or so!




Hello big boy!


8-9 feet long, 200-300 lbs, and about 60-70 years old.



AB holding on to his mouth. I got to do that too! Then we let him go.



This is me bringing sturgeon number three!



Me and my fish! This one was only 25 years old or so. (Then we tossed him back in.)


Then I caught a catfish... that was a surprise. It was our guide's first catfish on the river after 14 years of guiding!