the hyphens that define my life

Gratitude Month November 3, 2013

Filed under: Gardening — multihyphenatedme @ 8:15 pm

“Kids say the darndest things” ~ Art Linkletter

At our dinner table, we give thanks before our meals. We don’t recite a prayer or say grace, we go around the table and each person says “I am thankful for ___________.”

Earlier today while we were driving around town, I mentioned that my Facebook friends are playing “30 Days of Gratitude” and posting every day what they’re grateful for in their lives.  We decided tonight at dinner that we would list three things we are thankful for to catch up for November 1, 2 and 3.

We were out driving around because I told the boys in October we would have Gnocchi with Bolognese Ragu as soon as it snowed.  Sure enough, we woke to snow falling from the sky, the yard had a good dusting.  The boys’ first reaction was “WHOOP! It’s snowing.” Before breakfast was over, they remembered that with snow comes gnocchi.  We were picking up the ingredients.

Please remember that my husband and I are on a detox diet.  Today I’ve eaten, cherries, apples, raisins, arugula, jicama, tomatoes, avocado, spinach, snow peas, broccoli and green beans.  I’ve washed this down with a juice combination of kale, spinach, cucumber, celery, apple and ginger; herbal teas and water.  I feel great and I’m not hungry.  Cooking for the boys is a challenge.  Making gnocchi with Bolognese (a delicious family favorite) was tough.  I managed just fine, without issue. My husband couldn’t resist and had a scoop.

We sat around the dinner table and we started giving thanks.  I’m not going to say who said what but the list of three things they were grateful for are awesome:

List A:  1. Life, 2. God, 3. Love

List B:  1. Wildlife, 2. Life, 3.  Friends

List C:  1. Life, 2. Food, 3. First Snow

I didn’t respond to their lists, nor did I say that I was thankful their responses didn’t include video games.  The gnocchi and sauce that took over two hours to make didn’t make the top three list either.  I like that they all copied one response from the first, that they are thankful for life.  I love that they think in general terms, not one animal specific, just wildlife in its entirety.

The boys said later at dinner that they hoped it would snow tomorrow so they could have a snow day. Poor Southern California kids thought “Snow Day” meant that they don’t have to go to school if it was snowing. Once I stopped laughing, I explained “Snow Days” were called if the roads were unsafe and the buses can’t make it to school. Their eyes grew wide thinking about the amount of snow that would have to fall in order to cancel school. They were disappointed at the difference, hoping their wild dreams of missing school for most of winter would come true.

Until our first snow day, we’ll just give thanks.


Monster Mash October 25, 2013

Filed under: Family,Gardening — multihyphenatedme @ 10:46 pm
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Spokane schools, as a district wide rule, do not celebrate or acknowledge Halloween on the actual day.  Instead, the Parent Teacher Group hosts a Monster Mash where all students are invited to attend, in full costume, for two hours of fun that includes pumpkin bowling, dancing, a shockingly great science station and snacks.  Having had kids in public schools for 15 years, this is the first I have ever experienced not including a nationally recognized holiday and the first I have ever experienced a Monster Mash.

Yet not celebrating Halloween in school isn’t my biggest issue.  What rubs me wrong is that the Monster Mash is one full week before Halloween, seriously cutting into my sewing, crafting and creativity timeline.  Sheesh!  October has been, forgive the use of this over used phrase, CRAZY BUSY!  Really.  Insane.  Toronto, Columbus, Cincinnati, Denver, Newark, NYC, Chicago filled two weeks of travel for work.  Then I spent three days in Seattle with my family for health issues.  In 30 days I have been home thirteen days.  Four of these thirteen days I had a cold thanks to those germy college students.

So what, suck it up.  Other than the cold, my month has been great, just not enough time that I would like to spend on Halloween costumes.  The past three nights have been extremely late nights.  Burning the midnight oil and multiple glue sticks, two of my three costumes were assembled with last-minute touches this afternoon before the big event.

My 9-year-old decided to be a Raven.  I had read Edgar Allen Poe’s The Raven to him recently and he wanted to be an evil raven with talons and feet and feathers and wings.  He probably wanted to be able to fly too, but I had three nights.  Here’s what he got.


My biggest concern working with feathers was to not make him look like Phyllis Diller in her feather dress.  When my son had a fitting midway through the production process, his eyes welled with tears.  He was not happy when I thought I was more than halfway done.  The costume started as an old Voldemort pullover costume with hood and sleeves.  I glued feathers to the ragged fringe that hung down at the bottom and from the sleeves.  This is where he tried it on.  He wanted real wings.  I really should stop saying that I have mad skills.  My kids have the bar set really high for me and it’s my own fault.  With cardboard, a wire hanger and a whole lot of feathers, the wings on his hands were created, glued to black knit gloves and tied at the wrist for stability.  The mask was a crow’s mask with a yellow beak and gold sequins and black feathers.  I painted the mask black and glued the sides to the hood to create a more rounded look.  Getting his Hanes’ black sweatpants after going to two, not one, but two Wal-Marts to find them added to the time involved in pulling off this costume.  Not my best work, but considering the challenge and the time involved, I think it turned out pretty awesome.

Keep in mind that I have two in elementary school, so the raven was just half of my workload.  My young buck wanted to be Zombie Atlantis or a Zombie Diver.  My mother-in-law sent him this awesome round, costume plush and pliable diving helmet.  Add zombie makeup, green hair color, some hair gel and his own Hanes’ sweat suit (from the same two, not one but two, trips to Walmart), his costume was complete.

My youngest owns every gray hair on my head and there are plenty.  Last night he informed me, after loving his costume all week, that a black sweat suit, representing a black wet suit, wasn’t good enough.  He, being way to damn techno-saavy, pulled up some Google images of real vintage diving suits and he wanted the whole suit, not just the helmet.  Of course.  What was I thinking?

Today, I realized, he just doesn’t like change.  He wanted to wear his store-bought skeleton suit that he has worn two years running.  He just got caught up in the Halloween-I-gotta-have-a-new-costume-hype and had a new helmet costume to start and the ball just kept rolling.


The skeleton costume is too small too, but that doesn’t stop my youngest son.

The Monster Mash was packed with entire families, grandparents, extended family and pretty awesome.  The boys had a blast, my husband and I met new people and we became more familiar with the school.

The class won’t get to sample my fun Halloween wares like these that I made last year, but Halloween is off to a good start.

halloween ghosts

Now one more costume to go….


In the Zone September 7, 2013

Today I went to the Friends of Manito Plant Sale.

manito plant sale 

Manito Park is one of the nation’s most beautiful parks and it happens to be a half mile from my front door.  The Friends of Manito are responsible for the spectacular gardens at the park, so when I saw that they were having a plant sale this weekend, I had to go.

The weather was cool, in the high 60’s, when I set out this morning at 9 AM.  The skies were overcast but rain wasn’t in the forecast until late this afternoon.  I really had no business attending the sale as our timeline for the front and back yard projects doesn’t begin until Spring.  I had to seize the opportunity.

A live band greeted my arrival at the sale, then BAM, sensory overload.  Tables spread out from one end of the parking lot to the next and wrapped back around to the front, filled with every type of plant, grass and flower imaginable.  Conveniently and smartly, the Friends of Manito provided shopping carts to load up the potted plants.  I bypassed the entire section of houseplants because my house is nowhere near ready for plant decor yet.

Bypassing house plants was the only time I exercised self-control.  I bought raspberry, blackberry and blueberry bushes, some with berries ready to ripen.  I have a berry patch planned for my front yard next year, but the time is now.  Our backyard is completely unlanscaped with the exception of 2 tall pines, a mountain ash and an original fountain that needs work.  The fences along the property line are low on the east side and the neighbor is against putting in a higher fence, wanting vines and other flora to green screen between the two properties.  Our westerly neighbors have a tall fence with nice architectural detail. 

To accommodate our east side neighbors, my husband and I planned to plant tall shrubs, again, in the spring.  Since I was at the sale and spring will eventually come, I bought a BUNCH of shrubs.  Several butterfly bushes, a mountain variation of hibiscus’, bee balms, hydrangeas, and a variegated elderberry.  I added a couple of dinnerplate peonies (dinnerplate size flowers!!), coneflowers,  Denver and Marmalade Rudbeckia variations of black-eyed susans.

When I was deciding which elderberry to purchase, an elderly gentleman pointed out that, whatever I do, don’t buy zone 5 plants. “Spokane,” he said “is really a zone 3 or 4 and plants from these zones thrive best.”  “Oh, thanks,” I said, totally confused.

Before I left the house, I consulted Sunset Magazines Western Gardening Book, one of the premier resources for western gardening.  Sunset’s book told me that Spokane is in zone 2, the second coldest climate in the west.  Let me inform you that zone 1 is the top of the rocky mountains, the top of the Sierra Nevada mountains and the top of all local mountains.  Brrr.  This zone, it turns out, is only specific to the Western Gardening Book and the plants it references within. 

To bring some clarity to the situation, and relieve the stress from my brain at the thought of changing out all of the plants I already selected, I consulted with a couple of Friends of Manito working the sale.  The Friends all concurred that Spokane is Zone 5 and all plantings at Manito Park are Zone 5.  Phew.  Living only a few blocks from the park, my zone 5 plant selections were safe. 

Aside from the momentary zone delirium, I was so happy, in my element, looking at plants, touching their leaves, smelling their flowers.  At checkout, I became a card-carrying member of  the Friends of Manito and look forward to participating in upcoming meetings and events.  Washington State University’s Master Gardener program had a table set up and I look forward to engaging with them soon too.

After paying for my plants, I asked the cashier if I could leave my cart behind the checkout table while I pulled my car into the loading zone.  Many people were doing the same and it was no issue that I followed suit.  When I came back with my car, my cart was gone.  I asked the checker if he knew what happened, but he didn’t know and was stunned.  I was on the verge of tears.  Tears!  I was so sad my plants were gone, not that they couldn’t be replaced, just that they were mine for a fleeting bit of time, then gone.  Sadness.

Two women walked up and said, we grabbed the wrong cart.  They had my cart!  My plants were back!  I quickly loaded up my car and brought my treasures home.  The boys unloaded the car and my husband and I plotted and planned our plantings for tomorrow.  The rain fell at 5 PM just as we were done for the day.  The photo of my plants may not look like much but they have huge growth potential, the bushes will grow up to 8 feet tall, and the elderberry can be 13 feet tall.

manito carload

In case you’re wondering, we’re in the zone, and that would be zone 5.  Know your zone!


Get Your Bake On! September 5, 2013

There are great combinations in the world – milk and cookies, peanut butter and jelly, Sonny and Cher, and the list goes on.

The last 24 hours of my life has been a rough combination – late night baking, thunderstorms, kids wide-eyed and up all night watching the storm, our dog’s toenails clickety clacking on the wood floors all night from his storm nerves, me not getting even 6 hours of sleep, getting the kids ready for school 45 minutes before school starts because I didn’t know Thursday was late start at 9:30 (aren’t we already starting late at 9?) and I had to work all day, no more staycation or vacations for me.

From the deepest depths of exhaustion I write this blog post tonight. I only write because I’m a total showoff (that’s for you DB) and want you to know that my exhaustion stems from my six baking entries in the Spokane County Interstate Fair.

No drum rolls, no fanfare, just photos and brief commentary.

As you know in previous years, I have won awards at the Coconino County Fair in Flagstaff, AZ.  This year, I thought it would be great to test Coconino County against Spokane County and submit my winning entries.

The very first prize I ever won at the fair was Best of Show for my peanut butter and jelly bar cookies.  My mother in law and I went to the fair with my baby who is now 12 in the stroller.  My mother in law and I whooped and cheered when we saw the Best of Show ribbon on my cookies!  I have a photo of that day somewhere but here is today’s entry for Peanut Butter Jelly Bars.


The boys had one after school today and RAVED about them as if I had never once cooked anything good for them, ever.  My husband doesn’t like them.  He didn’t like them the first time I made them and won big, nor this time.  The boys gave him a full ration of grief, I didn’t have to say a word.

I have won more blue ribbons for my pies than anything else I’ve ever submitted.  Of course I had to submit a pie to the Spokane County Interstate Fair!  Today’s entry was an Old Fashioned Apple Pie.  Straightforward and simple, double crust, granny smith apples sweetened with minimal sugar, lemon juice and zest and just enough cinnamon.  I had to make an extra pie for the house (to keep the wolves at bay).  My husband may not like the bar cookies but since last night, he’s already eaten half a pie.


Banana Walnut Bread is our household staple. Coconino gave me blue, let’s see what Spokane County thinks.


Three nods to the past and three nods to the future.

Spokane County Interstate Fair hosts the Fleischmann’s Yeast Best Baking Contest with two categories, one for baked goods (anything goes) and one category for dessert pizza.  I have never entered a brand name contest so why not try for both.  Each category has a $125 first place prize.

For most Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners, I make Parker House Rolls that the family loves.  I modified the recipe I typically use to abide by contest rules and hope for the best.


The second category, dessert pizza, is the main reason I was up later than I should have been.  I was stuck.  I went into baking last night without a clear plan and I suffer now because of poor planning.  Yet in my cross-eyed delirium last night, I came up with Honey cardamom Raspberry Focaccia.  A crazy combination of recipes from various sources that turned out to be one of the best looking entries of the day.


In August when I signed up to participate in the fair, I felt the need to expand my horizons and push my limits.  Trust me, I was cursing myself last night for my idiocy.  In all fairness to myself, it was a good idea, what wasn’t a good idea was six entries.

For my sixth entry, I decided to go beyond what I know – wheat – and make a gluten-free pie. Suspenseful, right?  For me too.  I won a blue ribbon for a strawberry frangipane tart in Coconino, so why not make it gluten-free for Spokane?  Spokane foiled my plan because they disallow fresh fruit entries.  Instead, I made an almond frangipane nectarine tart with fig glaze.  Turned out pretty good I think, who knows for sure though, no taste tests available as I had to turn in the whole pie!


I’ll let you know the results when them come in!


Aero-post August 21, 2013

Filed under: Gardening — multihyphenatedme @ 9:52 pm

Anyone can blog, just sign up and start typing.  Blogging can occur anywhere.  I mainly blog in my pajamas just before going to bed, or, occasionally, as I enjoy my first cup of coffee in the morning.

Tonight, I blog from Row 4, Seat D on Southwest Flight 389 from Spokane (GEG) to Orange County (SNA) as I travel to my Irvine corporate office to work and attend an operations meeting.  Always multi-tasking, I’m chaperoning my son’s friend back to his parents after a week-long visit. We’re both sad he has to leave, so we’re drowning our sorrows in Sprite and peanuts without much conversation.

The guy in the middle seat behind me has major B.O., I pity the people sitting adjacent, sharing space. Row 4 ABC is an interesting combination.  Two young guys, each in the aisle and window, are mesmerized by some super chatty techno whiz old guy who is holding court on whatever he does for a living.  We picked up the old guy in Oakland, and from what I can gather from eavesdropping on their conversation he has developed some software.  Cool.

3 ABC are old-time golfers, decked out in their golf attire.  They have both Inland Northwest and Newport Coast style, so I’m not sure where they call home.  Most likely, a home in each place.

I should be working, making use of this confined space and time but the thought of arriving at 10:15, getting my travel partner home and back to the hotel doesn’t make for good blogging at midnight.  You know I love my 8 hours.

This is my first trip back to Orange County since we moved to Spokane exactly two months ago. The two months have flown by, yet we have done so much in such short time.  Well, not finishing my projects, but getting out and experience what Spokane has to offer has definitely taken precedence over house projects.  I’m a little anxious, which strikes me odd, I’m not an anxious person.  Will I realize what I miss about OC?  As I sit in this plane now, I don’t think I miss any one thing that OC has to offer (family and friends excluded, of course).  Will I once I’m there?

We’re in our final descent so I must end now.


Reduce Your Environmental Impact August 19, 2013

In 2012, my collegiate daughter enrolled in an English class that required her to read No Impact Man by Colin Beavan.  I found the book at the library and read it before handing it over to the actual student.  No Impact Man is chronicles the year-long experiment by Beavan and his family to have zero impact on the planet while living in Manhattan, NY.  This isn’t a story about a homesteader with a bunch of acreage in the middle of nowhere self-sustaining.  The author and his family give up things we take for granted, electricity and travel and only consuming food within a 250 mile radius of your home while living in the largest city in the world.

As a voracious reader, I loved the story for the impact it had on me.  This book made me think about how I can reduce my impact, my carbon footprint on the planet.   Your carbon footprint is the amount of gas emissions created by you and your family through the course of  life.  Of the 100 ways to reduce your carbon footprint on Green Wiki, I’m happy to report we are responsibly taking 50 measures to reduce our carbon footprint.  (This list was obtained from  check it out)

  1. Buy locally produced goods and services.
  2. Reduce consumption. Reuse items when you can. Recycle your waste.
  3. Make compost.
  4. Use reusable bags for grocery shopping.
  5. Clean the lint filter in your dryer. This will reduce energy consumption as well as electrical and environmental costs.
  6. Rake leaves and shovel snow manually instead of using a leafblower or snowblower.
  7. Only use your dryer, dishwasher and washing machine when you have a full load; don’t do half loads. This reduces the number of loads and energy consumption.
  8. Use a dishwasher rather than washing by hand as the efficient ones use less water.
  9. Whenever possible, hang laundry outside to dry on a clothes line rather than throwing laundry into a dryer.
  10. When you remodel or paint a room, buy the right amount of paint. This reduces chemicals entering the atmosphere from paint production, energy to make the paint, and saves you money.
  11. Eat one less serving of meat a week. Use a cheese-free alternative each week. Cheese is an animal product and has the same carbon cost as meat. Cattle release a great deal of methane into the atmosphere. Consider unendangered fish, beans, and soy as replacements for beef, dairy, and fowl protein.
  12. Plant an organic garden and grow your own vegetables even if it’s just a small patch or a windowsill planter.
  13. Create a wormery. This uses worms in a sealed, hygienic, and non-smelling unit to compost your waste, which can then be used to fertilize your garden.
  14. Fit your garden hose with a trigger sprayer, this will reduce your water consumption.
  15. Stop watering your lawn. Grow a garden instead. Lawns require lawnmowers, which require fuel. Gardens allow you to grow veggies which require less trips to the produce section.
  16. Water your garden in the evening as this will save water.
  17. Use cotton towels and fabric napkins rather than paper ones.
  18. When cooking, don’t overfill saucepans and pots.
  19. Use the top shelf (the hottest shelf) of the oven so food cooks quicker and less energy is consumed.
  20. Use a toaster to toast bread instead of toasting bread under the grill.
  21. When cooking put the lids on your pots and pans to reduce heat loss.
  22. Don’t put hot or warm foods and drinks into your refrigerator.
  23. Use a laptop as opposed to a desktop, as laptops use up to 80% less energy.
  24. Unplug your phone charger when not in use.
  25. Buy secondhand household items and save the C cost of the production of new goods.
  26. Adjust your central heating thermostat down by 1°C (2°F) in winter and up in summer.
  27. Use passive solar heating to capture heat in your home by opening the curtains during the day and closing them at dusk. In summer, close your curtains during the heat of the day. You’ll save 25-75% on your heating and gas bill.
  28. Run ceiling fans instead of using air conditioning. Avoid using air conditioning in your home and car whenever possible. If you live in a hot climate, doing this could save more than one ton of CO2.
  29. Get your boiler serviced regularly to ensure it is working properly and not wasting your money.
  30. Switch off lights in rooms at home when leaving the room.
  31. Use “task” lighting rather than whole room lighting when a small amount of light is required.
  32. Take advantage of natural daylight as much as possible.
  33. Install insulated blinds on windows to crease energy escape.
  34. Only heat rooms in your house that are in use.
  35. Donate or recycle your old clothing to a thrift shop rather than throwing them away.
  36. Defrost your refrigerator; this will ensure that it runs efficiently.
  37. Buy uncertified wood to ensure sustainable forest management.
  38. Take a shower instead of a bath; a shower uses approximately one twentieth of the energy that a bath does.
  39. Filter your own water, rather than buying bottled water. Most tap water is safe to drink, and some bottled waters are flown in from the far corners of the earth and the production process of the bottles adds to greenhouse gas release. Additionally, many find that tap water tastes about the same as bottled water because bottled water is derived from tapwater to begin with.
  40. Adjust your water heater temperature downwards.
  41. Insulate your water heater or water tank with an insulation blanket to save on heat loss.
  42. Use cold water to wash and rinse clothes.
  43. Fix dripping faucets.
  44. Insulate your water pipes.
  45. Turn off the tap while brushing your teeth.
  46. Space and water heating account for over 70% of energy used in the home, so switching to clean, renewable energy (e.g. wood fuel, solar energy or heat pump systems) makes a big reduction in the environmental impact of your home.
  47. Reduce excess baggage and pack lighter when travelling. Planes flying with extra baggage use more fuel.
  48. Telecommute or arrange with your employer to work one day a week from home.
  49. Drive at or below the speed limit as this reduces your vehicles emissions.
  50. Whenever possible only drive during non peak hours.

 This spring, I am ripping up my front lawn and installing our raised bed vegetable garden complete with a worm composting system. Plans are in process and I can hardly wait. Prior to our move (which definitely added to our footprint), I saw a project in Whole Living magazine that creatively used old cotton, collared shirts to make simple fringe-edged napkins. This project gave me the idea to use excess fabric yardage I had stored (every person that sews has a fabric horde somewhere) to make 17″ napkins instead of using paper napkins.  We now have very colorful meals using these napkins. I haven’t bought paper napkins since moving in June.

Being a total paper towel abuser, I decided to take this project a step further and stop buying paper towels.  I went to Ikea and purchased 70 white cotton kitchen towels with red stripe. Seventy is too many I now realize, forty is really the number I use on a weekly rotation.  I have a drawer in my kitchen filled with these towels and use them in place of paper towels.   The excess towels that I purchased are used for cleaning.  I wrote “cleaning” across the bottom of each with a fabric marker. Old habits die-hard, I am still buying paper towels but instead of purchasing the Costco super pack regularly, one roll is lasting weeks. According to the National Resource Defense Council, if every household in the United States replaced just one roll of virgin fiber paper towels (70 sheets) with 100% recycled ones, we could save 544,000 trees.  The NRDC also states that if every household in the United States replaced just one package of virgin fiber napkins (250 count) with 100% recycled ones, we could save 1 million trees. Though my cloth napkin and towel project has increased my laundry, my paper goods costs have dropped dramatically and trees are saved in the process.  That’s good, I like trees.

Use less, use better, use smarter is really the message. Kermit the Frog said, “It ain’t easy being green.”  Actually, Kermie, it is easy to be green, just try.  Take a look at the list and see what you currently do and what you could do better. 


Staycation Part Deux August 16, 2013

Day two of our four day staycation and here’s a list why staycations don’t work:

1.  Alarm clocks.  I forgot to turn off my alarm off both days.  5:30 AM is not my favorite (thank you RGal for teaching me to not say I freaking hate 5:30 AM) and is even less so on my vacation days off work when I don’t need to be awake at 5 freaking 30.  I could have easily have forgotten to turn off my alarm if I was truly on vacation in a hotel or camping, but my husband and I have vacation protocol we follow that includes turning off the alarm.  At home, the alarm is part of the home routine, thus the staycation routine.

2. Routine unchanged.  Now that I’m awake thanks only to forgetful self, my routine is unchanged.  I go through my morning motions, drink my tea, turn on my computer and look at my phone.  Oh look, emails.  Oh yeah, thanks for the email, I forgot to do that, let me send a quick email.  Next think you know, I’m working.  Not really working, just skimming, yet working.  On vacation, I’d have to walk out to get coffee, my routine would be broken.  Staycations don’t break the cycle of your habits.  Vacations are intended to change your momentum, break cycles and change your habits.

[note to my boss who reads my blog:  sending you a text pix of the Cabela’s ad to brag that I get better junk mail that he does (and that I have a Cabela’s nearby) was all in fun, not the “work” I am referring to in #2]

3. Vacation does not include chores.  Staycation includes chores.  I’m stupidly awake while everyone else sleeps, I’ve taken a vacation day so I’m not working, what else am I supposed to do?  Laundry is relentless and there is always something to do.  I spent several hours of my staycation on chores.  Productive, but lame.

4. No chefs, bartenders or wait staff on staycations.  I’m cooking, cleaning, serving and no one is bringing me a cocktail.  This is the definite “not a vacation” of staycation.  My banana pancakes were inhaled by my fellow staycationers this morning.  Service is marginal, the bartender needs to show up but the food is outstanding.  The best part of a staycation is homecooked meals.

5.  We were invaded by ducks.  Where I vacation, even in my dreams, there are no ducks.  At home on our staycation, we have enjoyed the Canadian Geese honking as they fly overhead. We’re damn close to Canada, who am I to say get a new flight path?  Flying overhead geese I can tolerate.  Then the ducks loudly arrived next door.  No other words came to mind than “WTF!”  I thought my neighbors, who already have boisterous chickens, added ducks to their urban farm.  Quack, quack, quack, quack, quack, quack, quack, came booming into my house for at least an hour.  I saw my neighbor over the backyard fence later and started randomly discussing her hollyhocks (I didn’t want to shout out “WTF you have ducks?”, rather ease into it).  Once the hollyhock discussion ended, I segued into ducks.  Smooth, I know.  “Where are you keeping you ducks?”  They have a ‘Chalet de Poulet’ (truly, the sign on the chicken coop says chalet de poulet) for the chickens, maybe they’ve installed ‘Lac de Canard’ for the ducks.  She looked at me dumbfounded and said “What ducks?”  Really?   Now she’s bold-faced lying to me over ducks?  Turns out, there are no ducks, no lies about ducks, not even a remote duck cover-up.   While she was out, her fireman husband on his off day was hanging out with his almost two-year old, playing with his duck call, as he is a duck hunter.  Over and over and over and over again. Of course.  On staycations, you have to deal with your neighbors (who I love, except during duck season prep).

6. No maid service.  After running around all day on vacation, isn’t it fantastic to open your hotel room door and have the place clean and straightened and the beds made?  Staycation house is the same as everyday house, a disaster.  On staycation, you go out all day, come home and BAM you’re smacked in the face with everything just as you left it.

7.  Vacation Mode.  When you’re on vacation, you flip a mental switch and you’re in a different mode, vacation mode.  Staycation means same old every day mode.  No switches flipped.  No change.

8.  No Kids Club.  Let me start by saying I have never once put my kids in a kids club while on vacation.  With that said, where is the Kids Club?  I’m ready.  Not really, but I would like to have the option.  Staycation does not offer the Kids Club option.

9.  No hype.  If I told my family we were going on vacation for 4 days they would whoop and holler and be thrilled.  Telling them we’re going to have a staycation for 4 days provides no hype.  Staycation, to them, sends the same press release it sends to me, hang around the house for hours until we leave to do something you may or may not want to do, then come home and do all your daily chores because life goes on.  No hype.

10.  I can’t think of a 10th reason why staycations don’t have the same effect as vacations.

[after typing this post and spell checking for errors, here’s #10 why staycations don’t work…staycations is not a recognized word!

Staycations are great because:

1. sleep in your own bed – YES!

2. nothing forgotten, everything is here, unless we ran out and I forgot to replace, it happens.

3. we happen to live in an awesome place(hype, hype, Outside magazine just named Spokane one of the best towns in the nation

4. multiple rooms.  Not only do you get to sleep in your own bed, but in your own room!  A hotel suite for a family of 5 doesn’t compare to a house.

5. Ambience to suit your need.  Half naked or fancy, whichever you prefer, anything goes on a staycation at home.  For the record, I prefer loungy, where my youngest is typically found half-naked.

6. On your schedule.  Staycations allow you to set the pace and the agenda, preferably without 5:30 wake up alarms

7.  No resort fees, no parking fees, no gratuities.  Sweet.

Vacations in any form are pretty fantastic, even as staycations.  Next time we staycation, I need to plan better to sleep in, work less and hire a cleaning service.