the hyphens that define my life

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.


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….


Near Death Experience December 16, 2013

Last week, I thought I overdid my prior weekend in LA and Orange County and needed an incredible amount of rest.  Turns out I caught a nasty virus that caused 104 fevers, chest pressure, coughing, sneezing, watery eyes, aches and pains and the most gravelly, miserable sounding voice ever.  I wasn’t near death, but for five days I was dragging tail.  I functioned as best I could, working every day, taking care of my family at bare minimum levels, but still plugging ahead.  In the middle of my meltdown, on Thursday, my husband had a four-day trip planned to Southern California that couldn’t be waylaid due to my recoverable but miserable illness.  Off he went and I dragged myself around to keep our lives on track.

On Saturday, my dear friend posted on Facebook that, after 4 days of not posting, if my hands weren’t broken, I should be blogging.  Saturday I saw the light of recovery but with my energy levels so depleted, there was no way I could even think of posting on this blog. As the day progressed, I could feel the black cloud of death and despair leaving my body.  Unfortunately, the cloud didn’t blow away, it only drifted to our oldest son and filled his life with misery.  Caring for a sick person while you too are sick has to be one of the hardest things to do.  He was going through the motions I just lived through and, at 12 years old, needed his momma and she was there for him.

On limited sleep due to nursemaid duties, I felt much better on Sunday.  I cleaned, did laundry, cooked and pulled our lives together.  Just in time as the two younger boys came down with the same illness.  I took temperatures, applied cool cloths, dispensed medication and rubbed their sore achy muscles while juggling my chores.  My husband finally (FINALLY) returned home mid-afternoon on Sunday and jumped into co-nurse action.

What a long week.  What a ridiculously long week.

And that’s when our true near death experience arrived.  Near death, as in near to us, as in directly across the street.

At approximately 7:15 PM Sunday night, while I loaded dinner dishes into the dishwasher and my husband sat at the kitchen table keeping me company discussing our upcoming schedules, cop cars, fire engines and an ambulance arrived on our street, in front of our house with policemen, firemen and EMTs running up our neighbors driveway.  What just happened?  Was there an accident?  What’s going on?  No sirens, just a full response to something and we weren’t digging near the gas lines.  We watched from our windows, front row seats to the action. We thought our elderly neighbor had a heart attack.  We have never been more wrong.

We learned, through the news and the police coming to our door, that six shots were fired from our neighbors, a home invasion robbery, leaving the husband dead on the scene.

Gun shots?  We heard nothing.  Less than 100 yards directly across the street and we heard not one shot.  My dishwasher is loud, we weren’t paying attention, but, come on, gun shots are incredibly loud, how is it possible we heard nothing?

Through the night, Spokane’s Major Crimes was on the scene.  K-9 units were released to track the suspect still at large.  The police told us by bull horn to stay in our homes, lock our doors and cover our windows.  At midnight, I went to bed, suspect still at large.  Those are four disturbing words.  Suspect.  Still. At. Large.

We did not sleep comfortably Sunday night.  We were frightened.  We were disturbed by possibility of our home being attacked.  Why them?  Why not us?  How would we respond?  What should we do?  What if I was travelling?  What if my husband was travelling?  Thousands of thoughts raced through our minds.

Yet life goes on.  With sick kids, I was up at 2 AM and 4 AM addressing their fevers and hacking coughs.  With each awakening, I peeked outside to see if there was any change in the action.  As at midnight, at 2 AM there were hordes of policemen milling about the crime scene.  At 4 AM, only Forensics remained on the scene.

When I awoke this morning at 6:30 AM and opened the shades and curtains, the paparazzi had arrived.  Every Spokane news crew was on the scene.  Within an hour, several cameramen and reporters knocked on our door in hopes of a statement or willingness to be interviewed.  My husband and I, after first declaring today not pajama day, agreed early on to not give statements or agree to be interviewed.  We really had nothing to say, nothing relevant.  We heard nothing, we saw nothing.

The one thing we did know, is that we are looked after and loved by our new neighbors and friends throughout our neighborhood.  Last night and today, every single person that has our phone number or email contacted us to make sure we were safe and to reassure us that we live in a safe neighborhood.  They were as freaked as we were, never experiencing something literally so close to home as this before.  Thank you, our Spokane friends, for your friendship, love, kindness and care.

Though the crime remains unsolved, we have learned that it wasn’t a random home invasion.  Due to some business dealings gone awry, so the news reports, the suspect targeted, stalked and killed our neighbor.  We don’t know why,  and, really, we don’t want to know.  Despite the reason, the murderous death of our neighbor is tragic. No one life should be taken.  Our thoughts go out to his wife and six adult children and their families as they deal with their loss and this tragedy.

I have never been closer to murder than these 100 yards.  This near death experience reminds me to act with care and compassion and to express love for those in my life.

Every week I send a “thought of the week” out to my co-workers.  I changed the giving season email I had planned and sent this thought out instead:

A Gift List

To your enemy, forgiveness

To an opponent, tolerance

To a friend, your heart

To a customer, service

To all, charity

To every child, a good example

To yourself, respect.

~Oren Arnold

Tread lightly my friends, my readers.  Be safe this holiday season for you are in my heart.


Advent-ageous Day 6 December 8, 2013

Filed under: Life — multihyphenatedme @ 9:40 am
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After four very short hours of sleep Thursday night (my own fault for over booking and procrastination packing), my twelve-year-old son and I boarded Delta airlines direct flight from Spokane to LAX.  Before I begin my story, this is my new favorite flight.  Yes, even with flying into LAX.  Fast, direct, and reasonably priced, I will take this flight any day.  Flying into LAX is typically not my favorite due to crowds, chaos and traffic.  Friday morning was a breeze, from gate to rental car bus, less than 15 minutes passed and what was dreaded turned out to pleasant and easy.

My company’s holiday party was the purpose of my trip.  This party is not one to be missed and I would go to great lengths to attend, and have, each year.  Somebody had to stay with the kids and my husband readily volunteered as his company party is in the near future, he can only handle so many holiday parties.  Our son, thanks to improved behavior and grades, was treated to a trip south so he could spend the weekend with his friends, specifically his BFF whose birthday is next week.  Our son has really struggled with the move to Spokane, leaving his friends, his soccer team, and everything he knows.  As if tween/teenage years aren’t complicated enough, pack one up and move one a thousand miles away to really know a good time.  We told him he would have opportunity to visit and this weekend was the perfect opportunity.  His friend’s mother, my dear friend, had a complete agenda put together and published to guarantee he would see all of his friends and have an incredible visit for which I’m incredibly thankful.

Our first stop was Terranea Resort in Palos Verdes to meet Grandma and Teta for lunch on the coast. (  At Nelson’s, we sat outside and soaking up the sun rays – having left six degree Spokane weather Friday morning – and enjoyed our company and lunch.  My son loved Grandma’s new Fiat.  How many 82-year-old grandma’s drive a sport car?  His does, he knows it and loves her for awesomeness!

We then headed to Placentia for a party at the park with my son’s closest twenty-plus friends gathered right after school to play soccer, eat a ton of snacks and unsuccessfully attempt to avoid the Canadian Goose and Duck Poop that covered the playing field.  My favorite part of this party was that most of the kids While the kids played I got to hang out my mom friends.

A wonderful Mexican food dinner, to satisfy our out-of-town cravings, for thirty followed.  Thirty. For us?  We are loved and so thankful for each and every friend.  My son was glowing when he left to go play soccer tennis. I dragged my tired, disaster struck looking self to my hotel to end the first day of our travel adventure.

Advent-ageous Day 6 is dedicated to our friends.  Where would we be with our friends? Their love, support, humor, honesty, and graciousness is a true reflection of Christmas.  We are blessed to have our friends in our lives.


Rough Life November 10, 2013

Yesterday our youngest went to a friend’s house for the first time for a play date.  He came home after four peaceful hours and announced his friend’s family live a rough life.  Huh.  The dad is a cardiologist and the mom is a nurse.  I had to ask, “What’s so rough?”  I should have guessed his reply.  “They have a Wii but they are only allowed to play sometimes, so really no video game time.  They are barely allowed to watch TV, even cartoons! And, when we had hot chocolate, they don’t have marshmallows or whipped cream.”  “Oh my gosh!” I exclaimed in mock horror.  “What did you do for four hours?” “Oh,” he shrugged and said “we played outside, played in his room, teased his sister, helped rake leaves and just played.”  “It sounds like you had a good time.”  “Yes, but I couldn’t live like that every day.”

This was his first play date since we moved and I am so thankful he’s making friends and experiencing new perspectives on life.  Isn’t that what friends are for?

While he was away, my husband and I were painting the dining room.  I love my dining room.  First, its oval which is just awesome.  Built in china cabinets and valances above the huge window at one end and another over the buffet cabinet. The problem with this room since the second I saw the house, is the color.  The room was painted a glaring caution sign yellow-gold with the window trim, baseboards, valances and outer cabinets painted white.  The inside of the cabinets painted blue.  Every day since June I have asked if we could paint the dining room since every meal in that room (every day) makes me want to scream.  Color has huge impact on me.  I’m color sensitive apparently because the boys and my husband didn’t mind the combination. Eek.

The first step is, of course, to agree on paint colors.  Even though he is not, I’m certain my husband is color blind.  It took us a solid month to pull paint samples, test colors and finally (FINALLY) agree on colors.  With that accomplished, we scheduled this 3-day weekend to paint.  I just want to point out my husband and kids have Monday off, I had to take a vacation day to paint.  Not an ideal vacation, but I am willing since the yellow-gold paint needs to go.

While painting, we listen to music.  My husband is a metal head but appreciates a good dance track (aka, he loves Justin Timberlake).  We’re listening to the playlist I created and labeled “Housecleaning.”  It doubles as my “Dance Party” playlist.  I hate cleaning so if I have to clean, I might as well dance while scrubbing.  There are a few timeless ballads included so I can sing in full voice occasionally too.  This playlist is a good time.  My husband is tolerant, even dancing along from time to time, but he’s a serious worker and focused on task.

The playlist contains everyone.  Eminem, Michael Jackson, Lady Antebellum, JT, Jay-Z and Beyoncé and everyone in between.  At one point, Enrique Iglesias came on with “I Like It.”  My husband asked if this was Bull Dog.  You mean, Pit Bull?  No, it’s Enrique, I love Enrique. “You know he has a new album out,” he said.  “What?  How do you know?  You didn’t even know this was Enrique.”  He said, “I saw him interviewed on Ellen DeGeneres. Enrique lives with his partner in Puerto Rico, has two boys and parasails.”  “WHAT?!?!?” I asked, “When did you watch Ellen DeGeneres?”  Remember we don’t watch TV, we Netflix.  Ellen also airs in the afternoon when he is working.  We don’t TiVo anything, ever, either. While I’m thinking he has too much free time, he told me he watched the episode while waiting for the doctor the other day.  Ah yes, that explains it.  Shocking, but explained.

We’re still painting today, photos will post when we’re done.  So far it’s awesome and I love it.  The kids are raking and bagging leaves, living the rough life (minus the crepes for breakfast and the hot chocolate fortification during break time).


My Daily Blog: T-4 Man Enough to Cry June 15, 2013

Nothing makes my heart hurt more than seeing my children cry.  I’m not talking about the whiney fit throwing cry when they don’t get their way, then they can cry all they want, I am immune (or, at the very least, I talk a good game).  After the final soccer game with his Chelsea Blue team today, his coaches said incredibly kind words and wished our twelve-year-old, Trace, well on his journey.  Trace accepted the words, the gifts and hugs with chin quivering and tears streaming down his face.

Trace is hit hardest, emotionally, with our move.  He’s leaving the school he’s attended and friends he has made since first grade.  He’s leaving the team and coaches he has played with for two years.  He’s really just coming into his own and we’re yanking the rug out from under him. We are paying the price.  The solemn looks, the anger, the frustration, the sadness and lots of tears have been given in heavy doses since we announced the move.  Totally understandable but it doesn’t change our decision.

On the drive home today after the game, we talked about emotions.  I told Trace I was proud of him for letting his emotions show, for crying and not holding in or masking his feelings.  Trace said he loved playing with the team and his coaches are awesome. He appreciated his coach saying that whenever Trace is in town, he has an open invitation to play with the Chelsea team.  He felt loved, his efforts appreciated.

Trace is looking forward to playing with FC Spokane.  We arrive in Spokane on Friday and he will begin training on Monday.  Trace has had great coaches over the years and has developed well with their training.  We are excited to see how Trace’s game develops further with new coaches, a new team and new training.

When we first joined with Chelsea, (it was then JUSA Crew), I forewarned the coaches I was loud, I cheer words of encouragement, and I question the referees occasionally.  The coach said he welcomed the entire family.  To my credit, I haven’t gotten kicked out of a game or scolded by a referee. Yet.  I didn’t happen to mention my sideline charm to the FC Spokane coaches.  I’ll let this post be their fair warning. They will learn soon enough, plus I didn’t want to hurt Trace’s chances of getting on a team.  Since we are so busy getting settled this summer, and I need time to learn all the boys names, I’m going to try really really hard to be mellow this summer and ease my way in with the fall season. Wishing myself luck with that plan.

I love watching Trace play soccer.  I have loved his time spent with JUSA Crew/Chelsea Blue. Though it was a tear jerker for everyone watching, I am proud that he loves his team and coaches so much he needed to cry today.  My maternal reaction when my kids cry is to run to them, hold them and comfort them.  You know your kid is growing up when they reach out to his teammates for support and they are there to support him.

One final group hug, Trace called out the final team huddle and we left with well wishes from all. Thank you Andy and Dave for the time, energy, dedication, encouragement, love and support you gave to our son.

FC Spokane I hope you’re ready for Trace.  He is a beast on the soccer field and emotionally in the game.  And **BONUS** you got me on the sideline.


My Daily Blog: T-7 Survival Mode June 12, 2013

My friend said ‘We’re still on for Tuesday, right?’ Wait.  What’s Tuesday?  ‘We’re having lunch.’ Oh yeah, right, lunch Tuesday.  Definitely.  What a flake I’ve become.  Maybe I’ve always been flakey but the mysterious blank spaces in my mind are becoming more and more apparent as our move draws near.  Our family calendar is so crammed full of activities, even with written and electronic calendars which help tremendously, I can’t keep everything committed to memory.  I was supposed to walk with a friend last night during our son’s soccer practice.  Nope, didn’t remember and committed to packing with my husband.  I’m not even focusing on and selecting the fun stuff.  I chose work over fun.  Something is seriously wrong with me.

Perfect timing.  Just what I need for this move is a mental breakdown.  No joking around, I’m concerned.  Yet I question it too.  Why am I forgetting the fun stuff?  Why am I not forgetting the work stuff? Why am I not shirking my move responsibilities?  Why am I meeting my family’s needs?  Why is the laundry getting done?

Oh. Dear. God.  I’ve crossed the line.  I’ve reached the point where I’m so focused on the move and on work that both have totally consumed me. There is no room left in my brain for fun.  EEK!  I should run away. Fast.

Don’t get me wrong, I am having fun, too much fun, and I’m having fun having fun.  In fact, I am having more fun on a daily basis in the past few weeks than I have had in many months, if not years.  Almost every day includes a social event. On a regular basis, I’m social.  I socialize.  But I don’t socialize daily. Let’s remember who I am – I’m on a first name basis with the local librarian!  I’m a bibliophile!  I sew.  I cook.  I garden.  I like getting massages and pedicures.  My hair needs to be cut! Fun is taxing and I miss my projects.  My projects kept me organized and on task.  Without my projects, I am lost.

My mind is not lost.  My life is lost.  Don’t misread my writing.  I love going out with my friends.  We have had good times, great laughs and I will miss them dearly.  With my life packed into 122 boxes and counting, I can not go on much longer sorting, pitching, donating, keeping, wrapping, packing, taping, boxing and stacking my life.  The good, yet sad news is that I don’t have too much longer.  Only 7 days remain.  One week.

I’m in survival mode now.  What would Bear Grills do in a time like this?  He’d probably eat our pets and make clothing, furniture and shelter out of the packing materials so I won’t follow his lead.  What I need is my friends.  What I need, to paraphrase Bill Withers “Lean On Me” lyrics,  is to let me lean on you, because I’m not strong. I need you to be my friend and help me carry on.

This isn’t a cry for help.  It is a plea to my friends for understanding and compassion for my flakiness and general brain meltdown as we are in the final stretch.