the hyphens that define my life

No Shoes, No Shirt, No Service June 30, 2013

If you’ve crossed paths with my family ever, or truly in the past 7 years, you know we are not shy about showing skin.  This does not mean we’re locals at the Kaniksu Ranch Family Nudist Park I saw advertised in the Out There Monthly paper highlighting “The Original Bare Buns Fun Run” and other weekend or weeklong activities. Let me keep a joke alive by saying, no one needs to see old man junk.  We are not exhibitionist by any means, but my children, specifically my youngest, has been known to run down the street in the buff and flash anyone who is interested or not.  Keep in mind this is the same child that has serious issue with getting up in front of the class or to have the spotlight on him for school events like Student/Star of the Week.  The kid is a walking conundrum. As he ages up, he is becoming slightly more modest.  Slightly.  We’ll get there, maybe.

The point is, we’re accustomed to a little nudity.  We shouldn’t have been surprised earlier this week when Andre and I were in Rosauer’s (pronounced Row-zers, I learned the hard way) grabbing some groceries and a dad and his two boys walked in and all the males were shirtless.  I noticed, was surprised and said nothing.  Andre was quick to speak up and say, “Mom, they’re naked”.  Not technically, but yes, they are shirtless.  I witnessed this phenomenon earlier in the week too but it didn’t register.  This second time around, I thought what ever happened to No Shoes, No Shirt, No Service.

Yesterday at Hoopfest, we were in Riverfront Mall, a multi-story complex with the movie theaters on the 3-5 floors. I understand people were playing basketball.  I understand we had thunderstorms most of the day.  They were all most likely wet from rain and sweat.  That is no excuse to not wear a shirt. Yet in the mall, in the food court, many men were shirtless. There’s a time and a place to be shirtless or topless. I’ve played part as well, I’m no holy roller.  But at 5 PM in a suburban grocery store not next to a body of water or in a mall, with food?  Not the time or the place.

Andre’s phrase “No one needs to see your nibs” comes from his misunderstanding that nipples were called nibbles so we will forever refer to them as nibs.  A good code word.  He’s right.  No one needs to see you nibs or your belly hanging over your shorts, especially while thinking about, shopping for or eating food.  I should mention I haven’t seen anything close to six-pack stomachs, though I will admit to seeing some ripped mighty guns of nice looking men sporting sleeveless basketball shirts.

There is no real harm in nib and belly bearing, but what really concerns me is that Andre is going to adopt the practice. As if I don’t have enough to manage with this kid, I envision that he will soon try to sport the local non-attire for inappropiate events….like eating dinner or going anywhere where water isn’t involved.

I ask the men of Spokane, for my sake as a mother raising boys, when appropriate, please put a shirt on.

Requests for photos of our adventures have been received.  Please note that photos of shirtless men with man boobs and big bellys is not photo-worthy.  If I had my phone or camera with me yesterday at Hoopfest, I would have stopped this one guy for a photo-op but I missed the opportunity.  You know I’m not shy.



A Day in the Life June 29, 2013

Around 3:30 PM today, after I spent an exciting day unpacking boxes while Vince worked on his office, we headed downtown to experience Hoopfest.  Before we get into Hoopfest, I have to clear the air that Vince hasn’t worked from home in 6 years.  He wants to set his office up correct the first time then being able to focus on all that he does without worrying about office setup.  I still call him high maintenance, but his claims, I will vouch, are true.  Back to our day.

We live in South Hill, 3 miles south of the heart of downtown Spokane, on a hill, so is the name, South Hill. Downtown Spokane is not some Main Street driven downtown.  Downtown Spokane is a true downtown metro area complete with multiple high-rise buildings and parking structures, restaurants, museums, a mall and a central park known as Riverfront Park.

This weekend is Hoopfest, the world’s largest 3 on 3 street basketball tournament. Vince and I are not fans of crowds or festivals so the thought of going to Hoopfest was not high on our list of things to do.  The boys were really amped to check it out as they had met some kids playing in the event.  We did the right thing and took them to Hoopfest. Coming from Southern California, our thought of a popular event this large would mean parking miles away, being swallowed by hordes of people, somebody getting lost and attending being more hassle than fun, which is why we don’t like festivals.  Because Hoopfest is  a street event with 454 courts, streets were closed adding to what we thought would be the frenzy.

Never have we been more wrong. Our plan was to check out Hoopfest, grab food from the vendors at Riverfront Park then go to the AMC 20 in Riverfront Mall in the middle of the action to see Monsters University.  If we’re going to go, we’re going to go big.  We passed several $20 event parking lots on our first pass to figure out where to park.  Our goal was to get as close to the mall as possible.  Not only were we able to get to the mall, we were able to park with no issue! Unbelievable! The mall was packed like we were in the midst of holiday shopping as people were using the mall as a thoroughfare from the park on the north side  of the mall to the courts set up on the streets on the south side of the mall.

The food vendors were busy with a handful of people in line to order.  Manageable!  The food was good and everyone was happy.  After eating we checked out the basketball action.  The games we saw were men 50+, women 40’s, kids under 12 and older kids 18-22.  The old men kept strictly to a passing game and taking long shots.  The 40-year-old women were fierce, not afraid to slide on the wet asphalt from the earlier thunderstorms and get a leg full of road rash to make a shot or complete a pass.  I’m definitely not tough enough to play next year was the concensus. The kids were fun to watch hot dogging shots and travelling all over.  The older kids made me question whether any rules were in place.  Game play was nasty, no fouls called but plenty of fouls made, I was surprised no one took a punch.  I’m too much of a wuss to get road rash, but I would throw a punch if someone pushed me around in an unclean game.  Let’s analyze that another day.

Trace made from free throws and earned a Hoopfest lanyard.  He’s stoked.  Trace told me he heard on the radio that Macklemore was in town (a fellow Washingtonian, aka my new best friend) for the event or after parties. Is this true, I don’t know but if we can see Snoop Dog/Lion at Brea Mall, anything is possible.

Totally random thing happened at Hoopfest.  I recognized someone!  Not someone I know, but while I was so busy ranting about the guy in Wal-Mart, I didn’t mention the cool Rastafarian guy that was at Wal-Mart that made music when he walked.  I saw the exact same guy at Hoopfest!  He was still making music.  I’m not talking about accordian between his knees music, he wears a chain of bells that hang on his left side and make melodious tunes when he walks.  He stood out in Wal-Mart because he was the only Rasta I had seen in Spokane and dbecause I was envious of his musical swagger.  When he passed me in the store I made a mental note to get some bells.  When I passed him on the street today at Hoopfest, I did a 180 turn and nearly walked on top of him while checking out how he was making the music.  When I caught back up with Vince and the boys, I told them my story.  Of course they looked at me like I’m insane. Which is exactly why I blog.  You understand me.

We then went to the mall and saw Monsters University.  Cute. Funny.  Good teamwork, let’s all get along in spite of our differences message which is always good for my kids to hear.  We all enjoyed the show.

My hairstylist, Taylor, recommended we check out South Perry Street Pizza.  For dinner, we grabbed a couple of pies to go on our way home.  A good recommendation.  Finding a good pizza in town is a huge comfort.  Boxes getting checked off daily.

Sigh.  We’re getting settled.  It feels good.




Note:  This blog site and all posts are about me and all parts of me, my hyphens.  My intention is not to project my values, morales, beliefs or attitude on anyone.  I’m just sharing.  Take these posts for what they are.  If I offend, forgive me.



Lunchtime Adventures June 27, 2013

Juggling kids and careers during summer is a both rewarding and a challenge.  We balance our lives by waking early while the kids sleep late, handing out their to-do (or not to-do) lists and tag team run interference should play time go awry.  As part of our newly planned Summer Fun and to celebrate our first full week in Spokane, we ventured out to Riverfront Park to see the pre-Hoopfest hype, Spokane Falls and have lunch at Anthony’s Home Port, all in downtown Spokane, a quick 3 miles downhill from our house.Riverfront Park is an awesome stretch of park in downtown Spokane, along the Spokane river, complete with walking paths, “all wheels paths”, amusement rides, Spokane Falls Skyride, Looff Carousel and IMAX, not to mention spectacular views of Spokane falls. Check it out

I had visited the park in January with Jessica and in May with Trace and still haven’t seen or done all that the park has to offer.  Today was the first visit for Vince, Niko and Andre.  No matter the number of visits, Spokane Falls are an amazing sight.

Riverfront park was alive with Hoopfest event set-up.  Portable basketball hoops in heights for all ages, food vendors, volunteers and news cameras were on the scene to get ready for the world’s largest 3-on-3 street basketball tournament.  We are looking forward to checking out the action on Saturday.

After a stroll through the park, we headed across bridges spanning the river to arrive at Anthony’s Home Port on the northwest side of the river. Anthony’s is a Pacific Northwest seafood restaurant chain  If you’ve ever flown into Seattle, you’ve walked past or eaten at Anthony’s at SeaTac.  Anthony’s Home Port in Spokane features indoor and patio seating with spectacular views of the falls.  Trace and I had lunch here in May and he was excited to return for their Ponzu Salmon bowl with jasmine rice and salad.  Niko, our adventurous eater, loves mussels and ordered their Mussels and Fries plate.  Vince ordered Cioppino and Ceaser, a delicious twist on a typical soup and salad lunch.  I had the Chop Chop Seafood Salad with shrimp and crab.  Andre, our pickiest eater safely ordered Mac-n-Cheese off the kids menu and requested a caeser salad as well.  Andre’s green foods include avocado, artichokes and green grapes.  That’s it.  I told the waiter no side salad which Andre didn’t hear.  When the food arrived, everyone dug in except Andre who was looking for his caeser salad.  Vince told him they put it on his plate and put half of his salad on a spare bread plate.  Andre said ok and started eating the salad.  I asked him when did he begin liking salad?  He told me “I have my secrets”.  Andre proceeded to eat the entire portion of salad and then ate his Mac-n-Cheese.  Not only did he eat salad, but he ate salad first!  If I hadn’t been there to bear witness, I wouldn’t have believed it.  Since everyone polished their meals, we ordered the three special desserts featuring strawberries – strawberry cheesecake, strawberry shortcake and strawberry sorbet. All delicious and gone in a flash as if we just didn’t eat a full meal!  Our service, from hostess to waiter was excellent.  If you haven’t been to an Anthony’s restaurant, we highly recommend you go.

After all that food, we walked back to Riverfront Park and decided to take the Spokane Falls SkyRide for a view of the falls from the bottom. We scored a $2 discount with our AAA card and also picked up movie information at the IMAX.  Again, the views were beautiful.

Spokane Falls SkyRide

Vince captured the adventure today best by saying, “This is awesome!  We are so lucky to live here!” We all had to agree.


To quickly touch on my image issue of looking like a dependent housewife highlighted in yesterday’s post, I am happy to report that I (1) found an awesome salon and fantastic stylist, Taylor, on my first try, hallelujah; (2) Taylor thinks my gray is elegant and he said I have great bone structure for short hair (flattery will get you a big tip…but…); (3) the salon is a non-tipping salon as in no cash tips allowed.  WTH?  Fine by me AND I feel human again with a super short cut.  Refreshing on many levels. Thanks Tay-Tay for the cut and all the great insight on neighborhoods, great pizza, restaurants and outdoors adventures.


Thanks Spokane!  Our first week has been great and we are all happy to be here.


The Calm After the Storm June 25, 2013

Today was the rainbow day as the result of yesterday’s storm.  Only it rained today too. In spite of and in the midst of the rain, we unloaded a third of our boxes off the trailer that arrived via Amtrak last night. Progress!  Still a lot of unpacking and “where are we going to put this?”, cleaning and working toward getting our lives back in order.

The United States Postal Service is functioning well and forwarding our mail as pre-arranged. Tuesday is trash pick up day, a big life adjustment from our previous Thursday pick up.

Trace is feeling much better and enjoyed his first practice with FC Spokane.  Meeting the coach and putting a face with the voice, emails and texts for the first time was great.  Trace met a couple of kids that he will attend middle school with so things are looking up for him tremendously from yesterday.  He managed to get invited to a birthday party tomorrow where he’ll meet more middle school kids.  Thank you kind soccer mom for the invite and for understanding the pressures 12-year-olds face with a big move.

Andre met some kids at the school playground who are playing in Hoopfest this weekend.  Andre is more basketball obsessed than usual.  He wants to join a league and start planning his own 3-man for next year. Yes!

Niko is mellow as usual.  Just cruising wherever life takes him, checking the sights, jumping around like a loon.  All is well.

Vince played nice and work went smoothly.

Tonight we decided to see if Spokane could offer up good Mexican food.  Thanks to a little Yelp help, we found Hacienda Las Flores. Don’t let the exterior fool you, this dive offered fantastic meals that rivaled some of the best Mexican food we’ve ever had in Southern California.  Check that box, we have found a go-to Mexican restaurant!  Woo! Could there be others?

The icing on my cupcake of a day was when I received a compliment on an old outfit I wore today.  I’ll quote my friend Lita who said when she started a new job “my old clothes are new to them”!

Kid happiness is mom happiness.  What a difference a day makes.  Today was the calm after yesterday’s storm. Perhaps we just treaded more softly around each other, helping without complaining, or just being aware of each other’s needs.

I didn’t get the Summer Fun schedule planned today but we all contributed some great ideas.

With a little time and patience things come together nicely. Good thing.  These blow-by-blow accounts of my days is not why I’m writing these blog posts.  Trust that this move will sometime end (sooner than later I hope) so the writing, the stories, and adventures will improve.

Thanks for subscribing, following and reading.  I really appreciate your support…and tolerance.


Through Our Children’s Eyes June 24, 2013

This summer is no fun, at least through our children’s eyes.

First,  we rip them away from everything and everyone they know.  We force them to participate in the arduous task of moving.  We strap them in the car for 20+ hours, sitting next to each other, looking at each other, torturing each other, and, yes, torturing us. As soon as we arrive, we spend the entire weekend working to unload the trailer, clean the house and garage and begin getting settled. Their only hope for fun was for internet hookup on Monday to distract their misery with Minecraft.

Trace was looking forward to his first day at soccer academy today with FC Spokane, his new soccer team.  With the preceding week filled with so much hard work, hotel germs, poor diet and emotional damage, he started playing strong and lasted about 45 minutes before his stomach gave way and he got sick. He was really impressed with the Indoor Soccer Center and trainer and hopes he’s well enough for regular practice tomorrow on the field and academy again on Wednesday.  A rough start with his new team.

Niko and Andre are bored senseless.  They are not inspired or motivated to play in the rain.  They haven’t seen one kid in the neighborhood that isn’t a baby (the memory of playing soccer with some kids on Saturday is completely erased from their minds).  Andre said and I quote, “there is probably no chance I’ll ever make any friends here”.

Today, Vince and I  had to work as we would any Monday.   This was our first “real” Monday of summer.  The kids are bored and whiney and we’re losing our minds.  Yeah, summer! Ugh.  Vince and I are also temporarily sharing an office for about a week until he’s finished modifying his space to his grandiose specifications.  Read this correctly, I’m low maintenance, he is high maintenance.  We survived Monday.

Tonight at dinner, along with a great meal of homemade chicken and rice stew to heal the ailing and provide comfort in rainy weather, I served french bread and strawberry jam.  Trace sighed, “oh, it’s not homemade bread”.  Niko looked at the jam and said, “it’s not homemade strawberry jam either”.  I nearly fell off my chair. Did they not see me busting my butt all weekend?  Did they not see me working all day today? Do they not realize I have a skillet, a pot and a grand total of three cooking utensils?  I held it together while Vince calmly reminded them that we are still in transition mode.  We’re still getting settled, he told them, while he looked at me to concur that store bought bread and jam are temporary.  Spoiled brats every one of them and I’m outnumbered.  I’m convinced they only keep me around so they are well fed.

Well fed they are and will be.  Fun will be had. Where Vince and I have already found Spokane to be great with every experience, Spokane has nothing to offer the kids, at least through their eyes and gathered from their comments. Woe is them.

Patience and planning is all that’s needed.  I only planned up to the move.  Now the kids are staring at us for entertainment and I’ve got nothing to offer.   What was I thinking? The kids lack of patience definitely comes from me.  I, too, want my oompah loompah now.  Tomorrow we are planning our Summer Fun schedule.   Our family day camp will be open for business and fully operational soon.  Advertures await!

Correction:  Reading the Inlander, Spokane’s weekly rag, today, I realized I made a mistake in an earlier post that Hoopfest was scheduled for the weekend we moved to Spokane 6/20 & 6/21.  Wrong!  Phew, we didn’t miss a thing.  Hoopfest is scheduled for this upcoming weekend June 29 & 30.

Feel free to fact check me and correct my errors.


My Daily Blog: T-5 H.A.G.S. June 14, 2013

Schools Out for Summer.

HAGS!! is the new acronym to hit elementary school yearbooks.  I couldn’t decipher it on my own, I had to enlist the help of my 9-year-old to guide me through the elementary school vernacular.  My thought was that HAGS!! was similar to WHAS UP?!?!  Instead of saying HUGS!! you say HAGS!! Oh no.  HAGS is simply Have A Great Summer.  Of course. has some entertaining definitions and examples using HAGS in a sentence.  I won’t go into great detail here and highly recommend you check it out yourself, but I will tell you that my favorite defined HAGS as an STD (yes, you read that correctly, sexually transmitted disease).  HAGS could also stand for Herpes, AIDS, Ghonorrea and Syphilis.  Now read your elementary kid’s yearbook and interpret all 37 HAGS references with the STD message.  Fun to frightening in seconds flat.

No more pencils.  No more books.  No more teachers dirty looks.  These are all things worth celebrating, but school out for summer for me should be celebrated for not having to wake sleeping children, pack lunches and no homework!  Woo!  My life just got easier.  Except, now  I have to entertain 3 kids so they don’t fry their brains playing video games all summer, fight like mad dogs or push me further into the well of insanity.

What are your summer plans?  Here’s a newsflash in case you haven’t been paying attention – we’re moving to Spokane.  Though moving is a big project, it isn’t all-consuming right now, nor will it be once we arrive.  We’ll take it one box at a time.

We’re billing this summer as the “Summer of Adventure”.  It could equally be named “Spokane, You Got It, We’re Doing It”.  “Summer of Adventure” actually begins on Tuesday, before we leave, with our final trip to Disneyland.  As annual pass holders, we have our fill of Disney often, but Tuesday, with the help of our adult daughter, the boys will be at Disney all day long.  We’ll show up for dinner and take over for the rest of the night.  (Smart).

Nothing says summer like a good road trip!  We will be on the road and we will cover 1,237 miles but that is the beginning and end of “trip”.  We’re moving, no sightseeing or time-consuming tourist attractions on the way up.  Not much of an adventure?  Yeah.  Right.  If that’s what you think, you’ve never travelled 20 hours, in a car, with children, not to mention our menagerie.  Door to door in less than the 20 prescribed hours it takes to get there without losing our minds.  Safety first, of course.

The Adventure picks back up when we arrive in Spokane at the start of Hoopfest, “the largest  3-on-3 street basketball tournament on the planet”.  Check it out Spokane utilizes 42 city blocks for 456 courts on day one of this weekend extravaganza.  We are definitely going to check out this action.  The boys are already talking about forming teams next year.

That’s as far as we have planned.  Knowing what we’re doing next weekend hardly qualifies a dramatic action-packed title like “Summer of Adventure”.  Buying furniture doesn’t qualify either, yet it counts for me..  If you’re one of the kids, your biggest concern is when will the internet be connected?  If you’re my husband, his plans include buying a boat which certainly lends credibility to “Summer of Adventure”.  Buying a boat will be great for all of the lakes and summer fun in Spokane.  I cringe at the thought.  This will be our fourth boat since we’ve been together.  Boats are a lot of fun, but they are a lot of work.  There is no work sitting on the beach with a book where I am perfectly content.  Just the thought of the beach and a book takes me to a happy place on a lake, at the ocean, or next to a mud puddle.  With adventurous boys and a water-skiing husband that also loves to sail, we’re definitely boating this summer if not sailing too.

Bicycling, checking out the sites, entertaining friends and family, trying new restaurants and just absorbing our new surroundings will be adventure in itself.  Our summer will be full of fun.

HAGS!  Whether this is a wish for fun or catching an STD, I hope you have a great time doing whatever you have planned this summer!  Make it count.