multi-hyphenated-me

the hyphens that define my life

13 Years Ago, Today September 11, 2014

Filed under: Life — multihyphenatedme @ 8:39 pm
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Today, 9/11.

I read several articles, saw many photographs and watched a few videos related to the terrorist attacks thirteen years ago.

Many things affected me then, and affected me today.

Six moments of silence were observed this morning in New York City:

8:46 when the North Tower was hit

9:03 when the South Tower was hit

9:37 when the Pentagon was hit

9:59 when the South Tower collapsed

10:03 when the hijacked plane crashed in Pennsylvania

10:28 when the North Tower collapsed.

In total, 2,977 victims from 90 countries.  Not included in the number of casualties are the 6,294 that were treated for injuries.

3 additional people died from exposure to dust.

1,140 responders have been diagnosed with cancer.

1,400 9/11 rescue workers have died since the attacks, responding to the scene months after the attacks.

11 unborn babies died on 9/11. The numerical relationship is not lost on me.

Nor do these numbers include the deaths of the 17 hijacking terrorists.  [insert scream] [insert multiple expletives] [insert tears]

Horrific.  Tragic.  Senseless.

My words fall short.

Tonight at dinner, our family observed a moment of silence for those lost, those suffering and their families.

One hundred and ninety words in, I too will be silent.

 

 

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Be well my friend September 9, 2014

At the northwest corner, where the road met the state route, stood a four bedroom, two bathroom bluish-grayish farmhouse and a big, old white barn. In the house lived a family, the parents with a son, the oldest, and two daughters.  The youngest daughter was a mischievous child with brown hair, brown eyes and a strong willed spirit that took her on many adventures  and got her into plenty of trouble.

The summers of her elementary school years were spent playing jump rope, football with the few neighborhood boys and girls, and playing school (as nutty as that sounds, so many girls spend their summers playing school, when they couldn’t wait for the school year to end).  The kids drank Kool-Aid by the gallon and ate popsicles wear cut-offs while swinging on either the tire swing or rope swing that hung from the Black Walnut and Northern Catalpa trees in the neighbor’s yard.

When life was moving by too slowly, the girl and her friends would smash large Catalpa worms, spraying green caterpillar goo on each other.  Or, without permission, the kids would swim in the ponds located in the quarry behind the neighborhood, taking care to pull the leaches off of one another after a quick dip in the cool water.  Or, if trapped in the house, reading her older sister’s diary was always thrilling. The kids felt like they owned the world, that is, until the older siblings got involved.

The girl’s brother once turned the farm rooster loose in the yard.  He chased the rooster and the rooster, wings spread, standing tall, chased the girl and her friend.  The girl and her friend ended up cowering on top of the picnic table as her brother, close to ten years older, kept the rooster near as he mimicked an old Ritz Cracker commercial starring Andy Griffith (of the Andy Griffith Show, you know, with Don Knotts and Opie and Aunt Bee). In the commercial, Andy Griffith said, “Everything tastes better on a Ritz Cracker.”  In real life, the crazed brother and that frightening rooster ran around the table chanting in a wicked witch voice “You girls would taste GREAT on a burnt Ritz Cracker.”  The girl and her friend paid back the brother when he was stuck babysitting during a sleepover.  The girls were rummaging through the bathroom looking for makeup to try on and accidently broke the mercurial thermometer.  The brother was convinced he was going to die from mercury poisoning.

The girl grew into a teenager, into a woman, a wife, a mom and a grandmother.  The girl and her friend separated near the end of their elementary years as the friend moved away. By the Power of Facebook, the friends reunited in the past few years.

The girl is my oldest friend. The above story was conjured up from pasted together fragments of my memory and may or may not be true.  What is sadly true is that I learned yesterday that my friend has breast cancer.  She spent today being tested to see if the cancer had metastasized anywhere else in her body.  Thoughts of her filled my mind today.  Be well my friend.

 

Thought of the Week: Attitude September 8, 2014

Eleven years ago, I joined a company by pitching the idea to hire me in order to meet their growth goals.  They, to my shock and surprise, agreed.  When hired, because the position was new to everyone, we couldn’t decide on a title, so we opted for a three part title divided by backslashes until the dust settled.  One of the backslash titles was “Special Projects,” a catch-all role that tasked me with some diverse, some wacky, some fun and some effective projects.  The backslash titles and most of the projects have gone to the wayside as my primary function and responsibility have grown with the company.  The lone Special Project task that has carried on all these years is sending out a weekly companywide email, known as the “Thought of the Week.”

The weekly “Thought of the Week” emails are motivational or inspirational quotes said  by anyone, from Dr. Seuss to Mahatma Ghandi.  I choose the quotes at random yet they typically reflect a current event, holiday or whatever strikes my mood.  This week to honor my kids first full week back to school, this thought email was sent:

Coincidence

Though I say this photo circulated through Facebook, I was inspired to send this thought email out after it was forwarded to me from a co-worker and friend.  I’m fairly certain he sent this to me as a “hey, check this out” email, and was not telling me to check my attitude.  No, not me.

My kids thought this was awesome.  From the responses received from co-workers thanking me for this message for getting their brains thinking on this Monday, I can tell they liked it too.  They tallied up other words too, inspiration, inspirational, persevere, but none reach one hundred percent. I find this fascinating (fascinating = 103, in case you’re wondering).

I love receiving feedback from co-workers on the weekly quotes I send out.  Sometimes I just hear that they love to receive the quotes, others comment on how the quote resonates with where they are in life.  Sometimes the quotes fall flat and I hear from no one, and that’s ok.  I’m not sending them for a response, I send them to our creative bunch to inspire, motivate and as a reminder that we are all in this boat, in stormy seas or still water, together.

The message in this week’s quote is a good, simple reminder that attitude is everything. My kid’s attitude toward school is good and positive as of this morning, but I know this could change at any minute, any day and continue to flip flop through the year.  Employee attitude, my attitude, equally waffles.  Workload stress, work/life balance stress, control, appreciation, encouragement, and attitudes of others play part in the health of our attitudes.

I am a glass half full, optimistic, positive person (with an affinity for f-bombs) yet a piss poor attitude plagues me more often than I care to share.  A good attitude one hundred percent of the time is difficult! With these 500+ words, I promise to TRY 100% of the time to have a good attitude, or maybe just LOOK like I’m trying.

In the words of Tupac Shakur, “You gotta be able to smile through all this bullshit.”

 

Walk the Talk September 6, 2014

Filed under: Life — multihyphenatedme @ 10:12 pm
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Whether we’re discussing parenting, leadership or every day life, walking the talk is essential to your credibility.  Parents, leaders and everyone should be accountable to their words and do what they say they are going to do.  Sounds simple, yet daily we stumble.  We’re human.  Shit happens.  I get it, though it is important that you learn from your mistakes.

As the result of my husband’s detention hall experience, known as J.U.G, Justice Under God, in Jesuit high school where he had to write essays with an ever changing assigned number of words, in our house, if our kids “forget” to do a homework assignment, bring something to school or home, or choose not to do extra credit assignments (our rule is to always do extra credit for the practice or the extra points, mandatory, no exceptions), or the like, they must answer to J.U.G.  I think I’m being lenient assigning 10 behavior altering sentences instead of, say, a 500 word essay.  They are tortured at the mere thought of writing sentences.  J.U.G. is a powerful three letter word in our home.

These are not easy, “I will not forget my saxophone” sentences.  We like to focus on the positive habit forming sentence “To be a better person takes practice; moreover, you need to have all resources available with which to practice, including my saxophone.”  Ten times, please.  Effective?  You betcha.  Each kid will write sentences at least once during the school year, rarely but occasionally twice, never three times.

Before anyone goes crazy on me for being a mean mom (I already have a badge, fyi), they know all about J.U.G. before the big day arrives.  My kids also get one freebie, one warning that J.U.G. is next and BAM!  Third times the charm, start writing.  All is fair in love, school and war.

Unfortunately, I have smart children.  They turned on me this year and asked what I would do if I forgot to put lunch money in their accounts, washed their clothes, bought what they needed or, you know, the occasional forgot to pick you up from school.  Damn it, they’re on to me!  Of course I thought “Hurray my kids are brilliant!”  But yo’ momma is one step wiser. Silly kids forgot that I love to write!  If they accepted their fate with J.U.G. (without fits or fights), I would agree to write 500 words per school day to show them that it can be done.  Done deal.

For you, dear reader, this means, after a sporadic blogging year, my blog is back in full force.  Monday through Friday, I will post 500 words each day on a wide variety of topics, but my usual favorites, me, my kids, gardening, cooking and books and then back to me.  As much as I love to write, this could be a challenge.  Thankfully their are plenty of school holidays!

This post is a warm-up run, to get me back in the game.  Muscles stiff, brain slow, and what is it about sentence structure I’m supposed to know?

505.  That’s how you walk the talk. J.U.G, what?

 

Summer Breeze August 19, 2014

Seals and Croft got it right, “Summer breeze, makes me feel fine, blowing through the jasmine in my mind.”

I love summer and all of it’s glory, the water, the sun, the smell of coconut sunblock, beach towels and vacations. Salt water, fresh water, or chlorinated pool water, it doesn’t matter, each spell a variation of summer.

Taking full advantage of our incredible outdoor surroundings, we have had an indulgent, fantastic summer.  We spent a crazy action-packed week with friends at Hoopfest (the world’s largest 3-on-3 street basketball), Silverwood (the local amusement and waterslide park), rafting the Spokane River, picking fruit in the orchards of Green Bluff, riding the Route of the Hiawatha, boating and tubing on the Spokane River, Lake Coeur D’Alene from multiple perspectives, lots of ice cream, lots of food, and a minor league baseball game (Go Indians!).  Cheers to you, our friends, for making the adventure possible.

Before we caught our breath, we found ourselves on a road trip destined to crash a Mormon Family Reunion.  Top that!  We learned our dear friends would be in Southern Idaho, approximately 8 hours away, so the boys and I  jumped in the Suburban and headed east, then south, destined for Bear Lake.  We ended up in Utah, much further than we planned but who cares!  We saw our friends, our kids got together as if a day hadn’t passed and the whole family reunion welcomed us, and fed us. as if we were there own.  I have always been a Mormon magnet, in the best of ways.  Family values, good food, and lots of laughs, what more do you need?  All families are wacky, we fit right in.

On the return trip home, the boys and I took the scenic route through Yellowstone National Park, one of my all-time favorite national parks.  Our oldest son was 6 months old the last time we ventured through the park, so 12 1/2 years later, Yellowstone was still a sight to behold.  We saw elk and bison and bear, billy goats, and deer.  Yellow stones and thermal ponds, bubbling mud and geysers too.  Lots of ice cream along the route to keep us cool and sane.  We took a photo outside Roosevelt Lodge where their by-gone Grandpa Frankie used to stay.  Grandma appreciated the picture of our wiley mutts.  In the midnight hours, we made it home, driving a delirious 13 hours that day, worth every minute of our Yellowstone detour.

Honey, if you’re tired, our summer is just half way through.

From our Yellowstone road trip, we regrouped and tended to home affairs.  The garden, the animals, oh and yes, work.  We had summer camps of Extreme Sports, Videography, a week long YMCA camp at a pristine lake in the woods and a visit with Grandma in Seattle.

Our final summer vacation took us to the majestic state of Montana. We boated and tubed Flathead Lake, aerial adventured and ziplined Big Mountain at Whitefish Resort and explored Glacier National Park. WOW!  If that isn’t enough, we shared a camp fire and s’mores with a Harley Davidson biker bunch from Chicago and made great friends with some Canadians! Eh?  Yes, you heard me, some good folks from Calgary.

Our daughter transferred to Washington State University this week.  She has worked hard and has transferred in as a Junior, studying Elementary Education.  I am so proud of her, my girl.  She knows school is BAE, before anything else.  My heart surges with pride for her wisdom and strength, and lack of entitlement.  She has worked hard, knows what she wants to do and has earned the privilege of an education. Go girl!

My garden is a vegetable producing machine, resulting in me putting up pints and quarts of vegetables for summer-in-winter deliciousness. I think of my sister with every harvest, every photo of my great nieces and great nephew, every interaction with her sons.  My neighbors stop me every day to tell me how much they enjoy the sight of my garden. My hard work has paid off with my sister in my heart.

The boys refuse to cut their hair and have become wildebeasts of the inland northwest.  Mugs only their mother could love, they are adventurous and brave, fun and crazy. Most days I feel they are trying to kill me, though, in reality, they are just being boys,, wild with spirit in their hearts and daredevil in their souls.  I do my best to woo the savages with cookies and good food to tame their wild weirdness.  My favorite moment of the summer was when the boys declared Dad to be “Scrooge” over me.   Dad was confounded and perplexed at the thought!  The boys said mom gets mad as hornets but does lots of nice things. Dad just gets mad.  You know I love a good victory lap and I took it, laughing the entire way!

As rosey as I paint our summer, it all hasn’t been grand.  There have been factors in my life that have sucked the summer breeze right out of my sail, disheartened and derailed my spirit. Because these factors are still on the active attack, I can’t go into further detail; however, as emotional as these instances may be, I am not beaten, I am still in the fight and I will prevail, one way or another.  For future reference, be accountable to the words you speak to me. don’t lie, don’t mislead.  Be true. Aside from this vague and aggravating issue, that is my expectation of every one in my life – be true, be honorable, be real.  Is this really too much to ask?

Summer Breeze, makes me feel fine.

Maybe it’s just the fan.

There is no jasmine in the great inland northwest, but there is jasmine in the memories of my mind.

Our summer provided incredible experiences and unforgettable memories.

The best part?  We still have two weeks to go….

 

A Rough Road – Our Year In Review – Part 3 June 16, 2014

To say that every single aspect of our move to Spokane has been smooth and easy would be a bold faced, italicized, triple exclamation point lie.  Yes, we arrived in Spokane safe and sound, or as sound as a mother could be with her chatterbox then 7 year old as her driving companion.  The beauty of our tree-tunneled street was awesome to see as we pulled into the driveway of our new home.  As soon as the kids inspected the house, claimed their rooms and whooped it up, they begged for their bikes to be taken off the trailer so they could inspect the neighborhood.  A lot of complaining and rope untying later, the three helmeted blonds were off on the BMX rides in search of adventure, and hopefully, a friend. My husband and I stayed at home and unpacked with strict instructions to stick together, ride safe and report back within the half hour.

Twenty minutes into our peace, their exploration, our middle son returns home reporting that his younger seven year old brother fell and hurt his thumb on the school playground and won’t ride his bike home.  We thought it was just his obstinate nature, so my husband rode his bike to the school, leaving Within minutes I received the call to drive over and pick up the injured child and his bike.  We went out and bought a thumb brace and arm sling and tended to our wounded soldier.  He wore the brace and sling a few days then ditched them both proclaiming himself healed and ready to go.  In our 19 years of child-rearing up to this point, we believed that if the kid was willing and able to use the appendage he was healed.  Such fools.  Ten days after the initial injury, we took our first trip to Lake Coeur D’Alene.  We played and swam and splashed and though it was plenty hot, our youngest would not go into the water, swim with his right arm, throw a ball or Frisbee, or use his arm at all.  He couldn’t raise his arm.  He was able to get dressed, eat and use his arm, and fool his oblivious parents, but his arm was showing true signs of being broken.  When I took him to the doctor and the x-ray confirmed that his arm was indeed broken, the doctor said to me, “You must be in the running for Parent of the Year.”  Who knew my reputation proceeded me to Spokane.

That was our first broken bone.

The next injury wasn’t a break but was a sprained knee with pulled ligaments to our oldest soccer playing son.  Almost at the end of August, he was running on the field, then suddenly, he was done.  Like any good soccer player, he knows a good flop, but this was no typical son-of-mine flop.  He was down and didn’t run again for three months.  Within two months we had hotlines to orthopedics and physical therapists.

Our second broken bone was mine.  If you’ve read my blog at any point over the last year, you know I was attacked by squirrels.  What really happened is that I startled them, they scared me, I didn’t see the bump in the sidewalk and fell exactly how you’re not supposed to – with your arms out in front of you.  My youngest and I have high tolerances for pain apparently.  It wasn’t until my hand swelled a week or so later, so much so that I had to have my wedding rings cut off, that I decided to head on over to urgent care.

Our then twelve, now thirteen year old had a tough year.  Transitioning into a new school, limping, unable to run, unable to play the sport he loves, having left his awesome friends behind and no new friends to help heal the wounds, we experienced teenage wrath that we knew we had coming.  We knew he’d have a hard year.  Our crystal ball just didn’t foretell his drama to be compounded with injury.  We sent him to California for a fantastic weekend surrounded by friends and his soccer teammates.  That seemed to do him good.  His grades improved, newly recovered he signed up for interscholastic basketball, his attitude had changed.  We had a great winter, we skied at Silver and he loved it, he started playing basketball, then we went skiing again, this time to 49 degrees North.

On January 20, we drove, about an hour and half, and got on the mountain early.   We skied all day.  We saw people we knew.  We were happy and comfortable and enjoying our day.  After lunch my husband wanted to take our oldest and more experienced skier out, just the two of them.  I took the younger two to my comfort zone, the green diamond runs.  I ski so slow my ten year old was twisted so far around to talk to me that he could have been skiing backward.  No need for speed here.  My husband and I agreed to meet back at the lodge at 3:30, just as the mountain shuts down.  Remember, in the Great North, the sun sets early in the winter and stays up late in the summer.  The boys and I were back at the lodge on time, drinking hot chocolates.  Our hot chocolates ran out, the kitchen closed, no sign of my husband and son.  Two ski patrol snow mobiles shot out from the left side of the lodge to the top of the mountain.  Ski patrol stood around outside.  Do you know that uncomfortable tingle you get, that premonition, when you know something is wrong to someone you love?  Leaving the boys inside, I ran out to talk to Ski Patrol.  They told me there were two accidents, one for sure was a broken collar bone, the other was a dislocated or broken hip.  “Please be the collar bone, please be the collar bone,” I began chanting to myself.  My husband then skied down, holding my son’s skis, as the snow mobile and toboggan pulled our son to triage.  My husband gathered gear and took care of the younger boys while I ran to the Ski Patrol triage area.  The ambulance was called to take us to the small local hospital.  My husband drove the boys home leaving us in the ER, unsure if we would be transported to Spokane’s hospitals or released. Five hours later, we were released, knowing that his hip wasn’t broken but unsure of total damage.  The small hospital didn’t have an MRI and we were instructed to call an orthopedic and get further care once we arrived back in Spokane. My husband drove back, an hour and a half, to get us. This was an ordeal in an of itself, yet while I stood in the ER, fretting over my son, my mom called to tell me that my older sister was dying and the doctor called the family together.

On January 22, my sister passed away surrounded by her sons, their wife and girlfriend, her mother and her siblings at University of Washington Medical Center.  She received the best of care and we received incredible support.  Though we knew the possibility of this outcome when she had her bone marrow transplant in October, the reality of my sister being gone is still impossible to believe.

Parts of me are still in shock from that week.

I returned home from Seattle to an injured son, who, according to the MRI, had pulled ligaments in his hip.  He remained on crutches for 2 1/2 months.  He walked in the pool at physical therapy while I travelled to  sister’s memorial service in Michigan.

Life goes on.

Until the next bone breaks.

The young one was back in form, playing a stealth game of basketball.  He got checked to the asphalt by a scrappy hockey playing classmate using his ring finger of his right hand to break his fall.  The injury happened at lunch time, but high pain tolerance strikes again.  Despite the swelling and discoloration that had to be brutally painful, he didn’t shed a tear.  His teacher nor the office knew he was injured.  When he got home from school at 3 PM with a purple sausage for a finger, I ran him immediately to urgent care.  Since nothing is ever easy with this kid, it wasn’t a simple break, but a tricky one involving his growth plate, requiring a specialist.

Except for the hole in my heart and in my life, we have all recovered from our injuries.  We have paid our dues to Spokane’s healthcare system and made some friends and connections along the way.  I also scored a “Squirrel Whisperer” t-shirt and some cute squirrel knick knacks from my younger sister and friends that thing they are hilarious.  Har dee har har.

Our oldest son came home a week before school let out and asked if I had heard of this weeklong overnight camp.  Yes, I told him I knew about it, why, I asked.  My friends are going this particular week and I want to go too.  Wait.  Time stood still as I wanted to find out more about these friends, what friends?  All year we heard nothing but how this school sucks and he has no friends and now suddenly there are friends and they are making friends.  I almost passed out.  Instead, I took a deep breath and said, sure, yes, you can go.  Off he went to school.  I sat down, poured another cup of coffee to jolt me into action and sign him up for camp.

Though in so many ways our year has been spectacular, this year has been rough. I am so thankful and grateful to be surrounded by family and friends and teachers and coworkers and new friends and community that care.  Thank you for supporting us through our journey.

 

 

 

Oh, The Places We’ve Been – Our Year In Review – Part 2 June 15, 2014

One reason we chose Spokane as our new home was where we could, what we could experience if we travelled 2-4-6-8 hours from our front door.  Not only the incredible places, but the diversity in experience as well.

We’ve done and seen some pretty awesome things this year.  Here is a photo essay of our year in Spokane, experiencing and enjoying all four seasons.

Thirty minutes down the road, we spent our summer on the Spokane River at Post Falls and tubed the riverway up to Lake Coeur D’Alene.  Good times.

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Much closer to home was the rope swing adventure:

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Not a bad start to our year.

Then school started and finished.  See how they’ve grown:

first day of school 2013last day of school 2014

At least their hair has grown.

All Spokanites will tell you that winter is their least favorite season, then they will all tell you that spring, summer and fall are their favorite months.  Fall was an incredibly colorful end to summer.

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We went to our first corn maze that would never legal, insured or permitted in Southern California.  The novelty of  this insane adventure near the Idaho state line will be etched in my children’s brains forever. My eight year old brought home his daily journal from school.  He wrote “We went to a corn maze. People chased us with real chainsaws and there was a joker that scared me and my brothers.”  Recorded sound effects can have a huge impact on an 8 year old. I laughed remembering the moment, that he wrote about it, and how frightened we all were by the 6’5″ scary Joker.  Here are my children of the corn

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Summer and Fall we went to Green Bluff, WA, straight to the farmers to pick peaches, blackberries and pumpkins.

Bounty summer 2013 ???????????????????????????????

Then….

Brr 2013

We didn’t let the cold stop us.  We travelled about an hour north to Elk, WA to cut down a Christmas Tree.

christmas tree 2013

Old man winter supplied an “easy winter” by Spokane standards.  Thank you.  With snow arriving late, we only went skiing four times.  Only.  There are 5 mountain resorts within 2 hours of home and we managed to get to four of the five, missing the one closest to home, Mt. Spokane.  We skied Silver Mtn (ok, this is the one I sat with ski anxiety in the lodge),  49 degrees North, Lookout and Schweitzer.   Lookout was great for early snow; Silver was too steep for the boys and I (I’m sticking the boys in my anti-steep anxiety zone); 49 degrees North was my personal favorite and got me over my issues and back on my skis; and Schweitzer, at the end of March, won all of our hearts.

schweitzer top o the world (2) schweiter boys 2013

Our two hour travels took us skiing, our 4 hour circles took us to west to Seattle and east to Missoula and Butte Montana.

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Back in Spokane, spring color exploded with color.  This beautiful lilac peeked through my backyard fence.

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For now we’re staying close to home.  Who needs to go anywhere with this spectacular scenery in Spokane?

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