multi-hyphenated-me

the hyphens that define my life

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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Michigan March 7, 2014

You can take the girl out of Michigan, but you can’t take Michigan out of the girl.

As if this trip to my sister’s memorial service isn’t emotional enough, I didn’t anticipate the flood of emotion from recognizing city sign markers driving into town, under an hour away from my grandparents home. It has been an easy 20 years since I’ve visited central Michigan, Branch Township, where I spent weeks of my childhood summers at my grandparents’ home, eighty acres in the Manistee National Forest.

My grandfather drove a yellow Scout. Whenever we went to Reed City, Big Rapids, Irons, Baldwin, White Cloud or Ludington, we didn’t take the main roads and highways. My grandfather drove dirt roads, typically named some-number Mile Road, or two tracks, stopping along the way so my grandmother could harvest some anti-itch orange flower she’d boil and make ice cubes or shake chokecherries or crabapples out of the tree so she’d make into jam, or so he could catch a snapping turtle to make into soup. I kid you not you uneducated city folk. A trip to town was always an adventure.

It was the 70’s and my grandparents were into their CB and police scanner. We all had CD handles. Did you?

Breaker one-nine, breaker one-nine (somehow it was always channel 19). What were our CB handles? I know my cousins will piece it together for me tomorrow. There was Buckeye Ike and Buckeye Rambler. My mom’s was Katydid, I think. I can’t remember either of my sister’s CB handles. My brother was Kingfisher (uh huh, sure) and all I can say about my CB handle is that I’m consistent, Aggravation. Right? No shit.

Michigan.

Pine trees, walks in the woods, ferns, deer, bluegill and bass fishing, Troutorama, Blue Moon and Mint Chip ice cream, sand dunes, French fries in coon fat, playing cards, sun tea, snowmobiles, tractor rides, ATVs, mopeds, wild blueberries, sassafras, wintergreen, mushroom hunting, jam, pie, fish fry, homemade noodles, boating on the lake, building forts, 2 miles to check the mail, two tracks, deer blinds, salt licks, outhouses, main house, cabin, hammocks, chipmunks, which way: the front way or the back way, quilts, crochet, knit, old typewriter, Harlequin romance novels, cookbooks, jam, the ladder to the basement, then the back porch, lake house, slide shows, cousins, aunts, uncles, family.

The last time I was here, not counting funerals, on purely social accounts, was when I was 21, maybe 22. I took a month and drove across country, National Park hopping and camping, mostly by myself, with the exception of 4 days at the start with a friend. That was 23 years ago. Some things never change. Michigan may have changed, but not in my heart.

 

Brrrrrrr. February 27, 2014

Brrrrr.
F-f-f-freezing.
I wasn’t outside much today but when I was, I froze. Negative wind chill temps suck. Nothing more can be said.
An old lady approached me when I entered the hotel tonight and said, “close the door,” (note: it’s an automatic door) “I’m from Iowa and I can’t stand this God damn cold.” What could I say? “Word.”

One guy told me he becomes a United States citizen next week. His excitement was contagious and made me proud to be an American.

One woman today handcrafted her portfolio cover that included hand stitching. I commented that I appreciated her handiwork. She told me that she grew up quilting with her grandmother and wanted to include that personal piece in her work. (double-heart love!) I then went on a crazy Amish quilting nonsensical rant while she graciously tolerated me.

No cookies at Iowa State. I’m not sure what or who is the Iowa State mascot. Yet, I did meet some awesome and incredibly talented students today at Iowa State which is refreshing and exciting. Iowa State delivered, thank you.

 

Road Trip February 26, 2014

Lawrence Kansas to Ames Iowa
287 miles
approximately 4 hours

I didn’t think I’d have anything to share tonight but America the Beautiful provides excellent fodder.

Goodbye Kansas. Hello Missouri.

I stopped only once in Missouri at a stray Starbucks to work and catch up on emails and calls. Other than a faded freeway sign announcing the birthplace of Jesse James and crossing a fantastic suspension bridge, the Christopher S. Bond Bridge, over the Missouri River, Missouri was uneventful.

bond bridge

(Photo from Google Images.)

Then BAM!  I crossed into Iowa.  Who knew Iowa was where the action happened?

Four miles into the state is the Iowa Welcome Center in Lamoni AND Amish Country Store.  Growing up in Ohio, my family would go to Amish towns for the country drive, the good food and excellent craftsmanship.  As kids, with our limited luxuries of a color TV and Pong, we were shocked at the thought of Amish children having to do without.   I had to stop. I took exit 4 to Lamoni Iowa and pulled into the gravel parking lot of the Amish Country Store, noticing there were no buggies or horses tied up at the designated hitching posts.  Inside the store, stacks and stacks and a huge variety of handmade baskets were for sale, shelved according to Amish maker.  Handmade quilts, candies, aprons and jam also lined the shelves.  If I had a bigger suitcase and didn’t have another leg of my journey, I would have purchased a few things.  I did find and buy a book (big surprise), The Amish Cook’s Anniversary Book by Lovina Eicher.

The Amish Cook began as a column by Lovina’s mother, Elizabeth Coblentz, in 1990.  Lovina Eicher, took over the column in 2003. Cultural insight, daily living, and Amish recipes are detailed in this syndicated column that appears in over 130 newspapers.  How have I not heard of this column?  There are several books, The Amish Cook, The Amish Cook at Home, and The Amish Cook’s Baking Book.

I wanted to buy a loaf of homemade bread and jam and spend my afternoon chowing down, but thought of my waistline and refrained.  I started reading The Amish Cook’s Anniversary Book tonight and was pleased with my decision to forego bread and jam when I read Elizaabeth Coblentz’s account of a quilting bee she attended in November 1991 where she was served coffee and a large doughnut.  She commented “Ugh.  Hard on the waistline.”  Elizabeth and I have bonded.

I’m only through 1992, but if you think you cook a lot or think I cook a lot, ooohweee, nobody cooks like the Amish.  I need to bake more bread and pies and meat and do a whole heck of a lot more cleaning before 6 AM to hone my Amish-ness.  Probably not.  Though I am inspired to start a quilt.

Back in the car, proud of my purchase, I drive out of the parking lot and notice the neighboring gas station.

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Really Iowa?  That’s the best name for a gas station you could kum up with?  Oy!  I’ve seen this posted on Facebook by others but it is a shock to witness it in person.  I stopped and went in to get a t-shirt but, can you believe it, they don’t sell t-shirts.   A money-maker waiting to happen.

Once I recovered from the Amish Store and the Kum & Go (not to mention the irony of being neighbors), back on the road to Ames.

I still had over a hundred miles to go, but after the past ho-hum Missouri miles, my expectations were low for Iowa.  Then BAM!  Take Exit 52 for the Covered Bridges of Madison County.  Oh I loved this book!  As tempted as I was to venture off the highway, snow and cold kept me on my path.  Just before this same exit, another sign – John Wayne’s birthplace in Winterset Iowa.  Huh, who knew?  Not me.

Des Moines then appeared in giant mass, as if all Iowans live here.  Though I drove through a hundred miles of Iowa farmland to get to Des Moines, it is in the near middle of Des Moines that the National Silo and Smokestack Heritage Area exists.  Why here? I wondered.  I didn’t pull off the highway to check it out.

I safely arrived in Ames and head to Iowa State tomorrow.  Iowa has a lot to check out from Amish to Covered Bridges to smokestacks and silos to a rumor that I heard that Iowa offers skiing!  Iowa is also in the middle of the polar vortex and tomorrow offers a high of 1 degree.  One.  At 8 AM, the forecast says -8.  The high nor the low include windchill.  Ugh.  Cold weather can’t be good for the waistline either.

 

Trendsetter February 25, 2014

Filed under: Life — multihyphenatedme @ 6:54 pm
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kujayhawk

Once upon a time, I could have been considered a trendsetter, but mostly I was considered a freak.
Nowadays, I consider myself a freak magnet, but mostly it is I who is the freak.

Admitting is the first step, right?

Today, I woke up in Kansas (at least I remembered how I got here) and worked for a couple of hours before my presence was required at the University of Kansas for an Architecture and Interior Design Career Fair. My plan was good, my plan was in action. Then, I lost track of time; my computer clock is on Pacific Time and I’m in the Central Time Zone. I was dressed and ready to go when I realized the time confusion. I wasn’t late, but I was rushed getting out the door. Read: Agh! Panic! Grab and go, go, go!

I made it to where I needed to be and quickly began setting up my booth, noting that everyone was already at lunch. Dang it! I hate missing lunch but more importantly, I didn’t want to miss the Dean’s speech on the direction of the architecture program as well as networking opportunities to meet and lure people away from other companies, typical recruiting stuff.

I’m directed to the ballroom for lunch and the tables are filled with career fair firm representatives. Believing that I’m late, I beeline to the buffet and start loading up my plate. There are 7 or 8 servers standing around and I make the comment that the buffet looks untouched, they must have just restocked. They look at me like I am a freak and say that I’m the first one to go through the buffet line. So much for being late. In Kansas, apparently, you wait until you’re invited to eat or something, I’m still not sure what happened. One of the servers, noticing my confusion at what all these people are waiting for, encouraged me to “be the trendsetter.” I concurred and replied that I was going to get this party started. The party didn’t take my lead, though they did watch me walk with loaded plate to my seat. Nobody moved. The people at my table only commented that the food looked good, yet didn’t move. The Dean entered the room shortly thereafter and asked “Why isn’t anyone eating? It’s a buffet, please help yourselves.”

Was everyone being polite? Are they just dumb? Am I a freak or just an overachiever? Whatever the reason, it was the most odd, Twilight Zone surreal lunch I’ve every experienced.

The highlight of my lunch was being introduced to a KU Jayhawk cookie, a butter cookie with dried blueberries, dried cranberries and white chocolate chips to honor their Red and Blue colors. Though the introductions to the fellow career fair firm representatives was not productive the Jayhawk students were smart, talented and impressive. Phew. Mission accomplished.

 

On The Road Again February 24, 2014

Filed under: Life — multihyphenatedme @ 10:49 pm
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3:00 AM the harp ringtone melodically sings my wake up alarm.
3:20 AM my eyelids are finally forced open and I jump in the shower
3:45 AM my awesome husband gets up to start the car and, judging road conditions by the amount of snowfall, decides he’ll drive me to the airport. Hurray!
4:00 AM Leave for the airport. Brrrr-isk!
5:00 AM STARBUCKS!!! Coffee infusion.
5:45 AM Flight departs for Kansas City Missouri via Denver.

Here’s why I can’t work on a plane. I’m in the aisle seat with a couple in the window and middle seat. The wife is petrified of flying and is twitching and jumpy and flopping in her seat. The husband says “Relax” at least 100 times prior to take-off which did nothing to calm her. Why does this always happen? “Relax” is not a calming word, don’t use it. As soon as the wheels left the ground, the guy passed out and the woman shifted about nervously until she too fell asleep. Peace. All was well for about 10 minutes. Diagonally to the right, across the aisle, a man had a little Chihuahua in a Louis Vuitton carrier stowed under the seat in front of him. This little itty bitty dog proceeded to explosively fart and crap all over his carrier. The owner was responsive and took the dog and carrier to the bathroom to clean up (note: no one used the bathroom afterward). Over the course of the flight, the owner/dog/cleanup occurred three times. We just had to deal with the vile, make you gag stench left in the cabin. Horrible! This is a great reason why, just because you can, you shouldn’t, take your animal on a plane. For everyone’s sake. Poor dog. Poor owner. Poor us. I found a Hall’s Cough Drop in the bottom of my purse and covered my face with my scarf to prevent breathing in the rancid air. Mentholyptus to the rescue!

Denver Airport was my walking workout for the day. Whenever I fly through Denver, the gates between connecting flights is always 30-40 gates away. Then, after you reach your gate, you walk another mile onto the tarmac to board your plane.

The guy I sat next to on the flight from Denver to Kansas City was mellow, a reader, excellent. All was well, the plane was quiet as we all waited for the door to close and plane to take-off. The woman behind us decided this was her personal space and made several phone calls to discuss how month end had to be wrapped up before she could do her gig, whether her friend would pick her up or if she needed to rent a car (why wasn’t this determined earlier?) and her final call was the best when she detailed every item she packed in her suitcase. I was annoyed by the volume of her call and disregard for others but Mr. Mild Mannered next to me became unhinged! He was so agitated! He turned in his seat and glared at her and, playing into her call, started reciting what he had packed – while she was still on the phone! She got pissed and they had a brief exchange of words after her call. Mr. Mild-turned-Psycho gave me a lesson on the illegal but available phone jammer (thingamajig) that he has to scramble cell calls. I let him rant, then turned to my book and we all went our separate ways in Kansas City.

Happy to be on terra firma, I realized I had an hour drive to the University of Kansas in Lawrence, southwest of Kansas City Missouri. In case you don’t know, Kansas City Missouri and Kansas City Kansas sit opposite of one another in their own state. What genius thought this was a good idea I’ll never know but I’m sure there’s a story out there.

I’ve only been to Lawrence KS once before, in 2008 but remembered Wheatfield’s an awesome bakery café with wifi where I set up shop and worked this afternoon. I stopped by another find from 2008, Shark’s Surf Shop. The surf shop logo is a guy standing in a wheat field holding a surfboard that has a big shark bite. Surf Kansas! I bought my husband a new t-shirt. Driving to my hotel tonight, I passed Billy Vanilly’s Cupcake Shop. I love a town with a sense of humor.

The town is abuzz with a Kansas Jayhawks basketball game tonight. I thought about getting a ticket to the game but opted to work, blog and sleep instead.

Tomorrow’s blog topic: snow, polar vortex, arctic wind warning and an architecture job fair. Good times ahead.

 

Meanwhile… February 4, 2014

Filed under: Life — multihyphenatedme @ 9:25 pm
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Approximately fifty days a year, I travel for work attending university recruiting events across the US and Toronto to recruit Architecture and Interior Design interns and new graduates for our growing company. University recruiting is hands-down my favorite part of my job. The students fresh perspective and energy is contagious and they make me excited representing our company, our vision and goals.

The challenge is that the majority of my travel occurs between February and April on a very tight schedule, causing a huge juggle in my home life to pull it off. After 10 years, my family and I have it down to a science; however, sometimes life just happens and you gotta roll with it.

So here’s today, a day in my life.

I have a hard shell, I’m thick-skinned but right now, with my sister gone, I’m wounded, fragile, and I don’t feel whole. Not in my comfort zone, I’m needy and leaving my family at home, saying goodbye to the kids last night, was really difficult. Coming to Ohio made the transition easier as I have a TON of family in Ohio, many of which I will see this week. My husband, who has been so fantastic these past few weeks, woke up with me at 3:30 this morning to drive me to the airport with big hugs and love in support. 3:30 AM, that’s love.

The flight to Denver provided a much-needed nap. Once in Denver, people watching was good while waiting forever for the plane’s flat tire to be changed. Once on board, we waited and waited as Denver was cold and snowy and the line to de-ice was backlogged. I worked on the plane to the best of my ability, limited by the lack of wifi access on the plane. What the hell United? It’s 2014, on a 2.5 hour flight, with no wifi. RIDICULOUS!

We finally land in Cincinnati. While waiting at baggage claim, I received a call informing me that the University of Cincinnati recruiting event was cancelled. Of course I took the news graciously on the phone, but I did my fair share of stomping and cursing off the call. Dang it! There was no snow on the ground at the time of the call. To cancel school a day in advance really tells you how responsive Ohio is to storm warnings. Ohioans have lived and learned.

Other than an apple and tangerine I brought with me, I was starving at this point. I checked into hotel and searched Yelp for food options that will let me stay on my Whole Life Challenge diet – no wheat/corn/white rice, no dairy, no sugar and I can’t remember what else. Clean eating. I found Myra’s Dionysus, a Middle Eastern Vegetarian gem a half mile from my hotel. I ventured out in the snow and wind (the snow I can handle, wind is miserable) fingers crossed I would find good food. Thank you Yelp! I had Imam Bialdi, a Turkish inspired dish of eggplant and tomato seasoned with allspice and currants on a bed of (allowed) brown rice.
Inches of snow had accumulated while I enjoyed my meal, so I high-tailed my way back to the hotel to hunker down and catch up on work.

Meanwhile….

Our thirteen year old son was in a ski accident on January 20. We spent hours in the ER to learn nothing was broken, but he can’t put any weight on his right leg and has been on crutches ever since, in his 3rd week. The follow-up with the orthopedist was delayed a week because my sister passed on January 22. The orthopedist ordered an MRI because the small hospital near the ski resort didn’t have an MRI (hello, 2014, wifi and MRI’s should be standard operating procedure). We waited 8 days for insurance to authorize the MRI. We have PPO insurance. Why does it take a week to approve? Nobody can tell me. I called the insurance company and asked, they had no answer for me, until day 8, today. I’m out-of-town hanging out in the snow and my son is having an MRI.

Side note, our son has been home from school for 12 days so far as the orthopedist doesn’t want him further injuring what we don’t know is injured. Not to mention, crutches are no fun and not easy in the ice and snow. Managing his school work, the insurance and teenage awesomeness has been fantastic fun. Now, the moment we’ve been waiting for has arrived, and I’m not there. Sigh. I’m thankful and relieved his injury is finally (FINALLY!!) being addressed.

We’ll find out tomorrow afternoon what is really going on. The orthopedist believes the muscle is torn from the bone (gnarly) but there is really no change in the course of care, physical therapy and time.

Here in Cincinnati I wait to see what happens.