multi-hyphenated-me

the hyphens that define my life

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.

 

Double Feature Advent-ageous Post 2 of 2 December 9, 2013

After dancing all Saturday night, I woke Sunday morning hurting.  Not from a hangover, from exhaustion.  My weekend of fun and adventure caught up with me.     The real bite was that I forgot to close the blackout curtains in my hotel room and the sun woke me up at 6:45 AM.  I realized at dawn that though I’m capable of keeping up with my nineteen year old daughter-date, I have no business keeping up with her, newsflash. Once I’m up, I’m up, so I packed my things and headed to Starbucks where I did what comes naturally, write a blog post while drinking my coffee.

My friends had scheduled a friendly soccer scrimmage so my son could play with his old team.  I hadn’t checked on him all weekend.  When I left him Friday, I told him to text me a couple of times so I’d know he was ok.  He didn’t.  I didn’t text him, or my friend he was with, either.  We clearly needed our space.

The soccer game was terrific, my son’s knee is healed and he rallied to keep up with his old teammates.  The sidelines are always a good time hanging out with my soccer mom friends.  Commenting on the game, teasing one another and just catching up keeps us very busy.  We were thrilled when a street vendor rolled his cart onto our side of the field to sell Mexican Street Corn. Have you had this?  It will most likely kill you but it is incredible.  This corn was steamed (for the record, next time, I prefer my street corn roasted), slathered in mayonnaise, covered in cojita cheese, rolled in liquid margarine and topped with ground chili powder. We opted out of the chili powder this once.  My friend doesn’t do spice and I had a long day ahead of me that I didn’t need  sabotaged by digestive disaster (see what I am willing to share, like I said, I’m a giver).  Mayo and liquid margarine though are fine.  Logic and common sense, that’s what my friend and I share, in case you’re wondering.

I make Mexican Street Corn at home slightly different as I’m not Mexican nor a street vendor but I am a foodie. First, I roast the corn on the grill which is my favorite way to eat corn on the cob.  My mayo isn’t straight for the jar.  I do use mayo from the jar and add chili powder and lime juice.  This trifecta combination is fantastic. Cojita cheese can be tricky to find sometimes.  Cojita is best, but in a pinch, use grated parmesan and chow down.

I’m pretty certain we missed the entire second half of the soccer game as I have no recollection of the game other than one goal.  All about the street corn!

After lunch, we said our goodbyes which are never easy.  Since our son has struggled with our move, we were concerned that he would be worse off by visiting than by not visiting at all.  We had been talking about our departure prior to leaving than about the trip itself.  Then we left.

At the airport our son was melancholy but not the train wreck I envisioned.  All was well, except our plane was late and we didn’t get home until 11:30 PM.  Though  a long and busy weekend, there is not one thing I would change.

Getting people together is what the holidays is about.  Anvent-ageous Day 8 is gratitude for the incredible, talented, giving, and loving people in our lives.  We are blessed for each and every person in our lives.

 

A Family Affair October 17, 2013

Three years ago, Amy moved from Michigan where she has lived most of her life, to Seattle Washington to be near her youngest son, closer to our mom and to receive incredible care at the University of Washington Medical Center. Amy has a Common Variable Immune Deficiency. Her immune system is so suppressed that it can not fight any disease. As a result, she has been sick the majority of her life. In addition, she has a diseased liver that is causing granulomas to develop all over her body. She has rheumatoid arthritis as an added bonus. All of the medications required to treat her myriad of ailments have her on the fast track to, without doubt, developing Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma, an incurable cancer within an unknown timeline, yet not to exceed 10 years-ish. Her vast team of doctors deemed the bone marrow transplant necessary.  Amy entered a new world in the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance and became in need of bone marrow.

[Disclaimer:  I may or may not have listed her illnesses correctly.  Forgive me.  If anything, I’m sure I left stuff out.]

Out of love and genetics, we three siblings were tested to see if any of us would be a blood donor match.  It was really no surprise that Jen would be not only a match, a perfect match to our sister in need. I never made it past the prescreen as a result of my cancerous past.  Our brother was also not a match.  Siblings are the best option of bone marrow match, a fact I didn’t know prior to this process.

Once the donor is identified, whether through family or anonymously, the next greatest challenge is having the recipient well and able to go through the transplant process.  Twice the transplant was “indefinitely delayed” because Amy’s body wouldn’t cooperate enough to get the thumbs up from all doctors involved.

While Amy was in and out of the hospital, Jen, who lives in Arizona, had to incur not only the initial flight costs for testing and the actual procedure, but the additional costs of flight changes.  Juggling work and time off added to her stress ramping up to the “Big Day.”  Not once, but three times.

The “Big Day” finally arrived this week.  I was assigned the role of “Caretaker of Jen” while my mom managed Amy and her care.

We had a family dinner Monday night with lots of laughs.  For Jen, it helped ease her nerves.  For Amy, it was her last meal in the company of a crowd for a many months ahead.

Bone marrow is extracted from the donor in the morning and transplanted, similar to a blood transfusion, into the patient late that same evening.  The extraction process involves 2-3 small punctures on the low back hip bones.  Through these punctures, 150-250 bone marrow extractions take place, directly into the bone.  The entire process takes two hours.  Jen ended up spending an additional 8 hours in recovery as the pain was far greater than she anticipated.  All told, we were in the hospital for 13 hours.

While the altruistic donor was giving, Amy was receiving her final doses of radiation.  Amy received three doses of chemotherapy and two doses of low-level radiation in the days leading up to the transplant to suppress her system, creating a clean slate for the new bone marrow to work its magic.

Amy was in radiation when Jen was released and we headed home.  Amy received the gift of hope at 10 PM.  Amy had a few typical reactions to the bone marrow that slowed the process a bit, but overall, the transplant was an initial success, ending the next morning.  Amy was at her apartment by 5 PM Wednesday night.

I only saw Amy maybe a whole three hours while I was in Seattle since I was on donor support.  I don’t know all of the details of her experience but with her incredible medical team, she was, and remains, in great hands.

Jen has always been the “Baby” of the family.  Her nickname, among many, was “Whiny Wimp” because, well, she whines and she has zero pain tolerance.  In total contrast, I have a very high pain tolerance and my nickname was…well let’s just say my 1970’s era CB handle was “Aggravation”…but I don’t whine.

Pairing Jen and I together is a hilarious riot on any given day.  Putting us in pre-op together with me as her nursemaid could have been a Saturday Night Live skit.  Oh, did I mention I lack compassion?  I’m working on it, but nursing will never be my career choice.  She’s hot, she’s cold, the pillow this, the blanket that and how is it possible to even squish your face so tight when they insert the IV?  The IV.  I didn’t know she doesn’t like IV’s.  Now I do.  Where I may have lacked compassion, I was a pillar of patience. I may have uttered at least one “suck it up buttercup” to her, but she was too busy to notice as Jen received a tremendous amount of attention and love for being the donor.  Being a bone marrow donor, is truly a selfless gift and Jen deservedly was given praise for putting others first.

The highlight of my morning came when the anesthesiologist gave Jen the “relaxer” just prior to going into the OR.  The doctor, anesthesiologist and I walked alongside Jen laid on the gurney as we rolled her to the OR. You could tell the moment the “relaxer” took effect. Jen, completely quiet up to this point, flirtatiously said to the doctor, “Doctor, SCCA speaks so highly of your work, but they never said you were sooooooooo handsome.”  The anesthesiologist and I laughed loudly while the shy and quiet doctor, turned bright red.  When I finally got to see Jen later that afternoon, she had no recollection of anything past the doctor consult, prior to receiving the “relaxer.”  I have gotten a million miles out of that moment.

Jen heads back to Arizona on Friday and will fully recover within 2 weeks.  Though infection is possible, it is unlikely.  Jen will be sore and tired. Because she lives at 7000 feet, she may experience more tiredness than normal.

Amy visits the Cancer Center daily for monitoring.  We won’t know if the bone marrow is accepted for months and up to a year.  She has a long road yet ahead.  Infection is the most common complication after transplant and can be life threatening. Because the body’s immune system is compromised (more so than normal), the risk of infection is high. Another concern is veno-occlusive disease that can occur within 20 days of transplant. Radiation and chemotherapy treatments can cause a buildup of dead cells that  block the blood vessels of these organs. About half of all bone marrow  transplant patients develop this complication–which can be deadly. Those at  highest risk are patients with pre-existing liver disease, infections or those  taking antibiotics at the same time as their chemotherapy treatments.  Amy has these pre-existing conditions so we’re on alert.  If that wasn’t enough, there is always Graft versus Host Disease that occurs when the newly transplanted bone marrow cells reject the body. In acute  GVHD, the condition begins within 100 days of the bone marrow transplant. In  chronic GVHD, it may not surface until 3 to 12 months after the transplant. The  condition usually starts as a skin rash that progresses to involve the liver and  intestinal tract. Preventative medication is given to transplant patients to  combat this condition before it can begin. Once this complication develops, it  is usually treatable but can be life-threatening.

The bone marrow transplant is an attempt to give Amy new life, free of some or all of her known diseases and ailments. Yet, there are serious potential obstacles she may have to hurdle along the way. We can only hope and pray at this point.

Huge thanks to our friends and family across the nation for your love, kind words and prayers.

Thank you to my employer, Ware Malcomb, for your flexibility, patience and continuous support.

A shout out of sincere thanks to Northern Arizona University, Jen’s employer, for having excellent benefits to support her generous donation.

UWMC & SCCA, what an incredibly handsome and beautiful team you have!  Thank you for your tremendous efforts, kindness and compassion that you give daily.  Please take good care of Amy.

Love and hugs to my mom for all that you do to help Amy through her struggles.  I love you momma!

Jen, you are good and sooooo handsome with incredible core strength.  I love you and Wendall.  Go Blue!

Amy, you have gone through so much and we can only hope that the upcoming days, weeks, and months throughout this year are without infection and disease and you are given an opportunity to live again.  I love you.

If you are interested in donating bone marrow, contact your local Cancer Center or register at https://www.deletebloodcancer.org

 

Be Well October 5, 2013

University recruiting is my favorite part of my job.  Not only do I travel to great cities, awesome universities that make me want to go back to school, I also get to meet really inspiring, energetic and brilliant students that renew my faith in humanity with their fearlessness, maturity and ambition.  These fantastic youth also carry germs.  The only job hazard I have, other than tripping on my way down the hall from my kitchen to my office in my own house, is catching these germs while on campus.  I shake hands with anywhere from 200-300 students.  Despite my hand-sanitizing efforts, I manage to catch their colds every fall.

I’ve tried not shaking hands, keeping my hands behind my back and just nodding but being reserve and intrinsic isn’t my style.  I’m really a hugger so engaging in a handshake is more my speed.

So after my whirlwind tour of Toronto, Cincinnati and Denver last week with poor sleep habits, I invariably caught a cold and ear infection.  I emailed in sick to work on Friday.  How lame is that?  Dear Boss, can’t make it to work today, I’m sick.  This doesn’t mean I can’t stumble down the hall and turn on my office light and sit in front of my computer.  Me calling in sick means I can not peel my head off my desk to look at my computer screen and no way possible am I able to talk on the phone.  I am unable to represent, therefore I am sick.

Sleeping all day Friday and not dragging myself out of bed until 10:30 AM this morning (plus some good meds from Urgent Care) and I’m back among the living.

Let me tell you, nothing thrills my husband more than me being gone for a week then being sick for a week.  How can I make it up to him?  Not well….I’m gone this next week and part of the following too.  Love, love will keep us together (Captain and Tenille quote) but we’re looking forward to October 19 when our lives return to normal.

Being well is my goal.  What better way to be well than to go out at night in the brisk 50 degree weather that’s quickly dropping into the low 40’s tonight for some Halloween fun!  Tonight we went to the Incredible Corn Maze (shout out http://www.incrediblecornmaze.com), specifically for the Haunted Corn Maze.

Here are my Children of the Corn:

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There were four mazes, some up a couple of miles long!  We did two of the mazes, including the haunted maze.  IT WAS AWESOME!!!  The mazes are cut into the corn field.  The haunted maze, with no dead ends, had  people jumping out and scaring the bejeezus out of you.  In the dark!  We ran, we screamed, we tripped, we fell, we laughed and laughed and most of all, we had tons of fun.  At the end, a very tall guy in a zombie clown mask carrying a real sounding but fake blade chainsaw jumps out and chases all who pass.  He chased our three boys almost all the way back to the ticket booth!  This isn’t a spoiler…you see him chasing others while you wait your turn.  Yet our boys kept running, and he kept chasing.  adrenaline was pumping at the end.

Part of our move to Spokane from Orange County California was to expose our kids, and us, to new experiences.  Corn mazes, especially haunted corn mazes and on this scale, are definitely something they never would have experienced in Southern California.  Growing up in Ohio, with plenty of corn fields, we didn’t have corn mazes, so this was a fun “first” experience for all.

A great family night outside, enjoying Autumn weather, getting a taste of Halloween fun and trying something new.

Be well.

 

Baker’s Dozen July 23, 2013

Happy 13th Anniversary to my husband and me!  A Baker’s Dozen sounds much better than the Dirty Dozen we celebrated last year.  I didn’t post last night because I couldn’t find the photo that I wanted to post.  Grr.  The photo was from our family trip to Palm Springs.  We rented a house, left Jess and the boys and went to dinner at Johanne’s.  We had one of the best meals of our lives for anniversary #12. This is a photo from 2011, we spent our 11th anniversary going to the gym (before we started dating, we were workout buddies), getting facials (which explains my shiny no makeup face – Vince grew up with 3 sisters, he is spa savvy), eating sushi and going to the OC Fair.

us

This is one of my favorite photos from our wedding (photo credit:  Mark Beat).  We were married at the Ritz Carlton, Dana Point in a buddhist ceremony (see my buddhist prayer beads on my hand) on an incredibly hot, still day.

wedding bw

Jessica was 4 years old and our beautiful flower girl.  My mom made her dress, my sister arranged all the flowers.

wedding jess

We’re not sure what we’re doing tonight.  The boys have had lots of ideas all weekend. Andre suggested we leave immediately on a cruise, dropping them off at the airport so Trace and Niko can fly to their friends, Kyle and Ryan’s house and he would fly to his friend Lachlan’s house.  Bon Voyage!  Niko, a traditionalist, suggested dinner and a movie.  Trace had no recommendations but loves to tell our engagement story, which he finds hilarious.

We met Vince’s sister and brother-in-law in San Francisco.  They were flying home from Oahu, Hawaii with an extended layover in San Francisco.  His brother-in-law had never been to San Francisco and we gave them a full tour. Vince and I spent many (at least 10) weekends in San Francisco in the two years prior as I worked with the San Francisco Starbucks Development team.  My Monday morning meetings conveniently created weekend trips to San Francisco.  Our trips were budget conscience is boutique hotels.  This trip we all stayed at the incredibly stunning, historic Palace Hotel. That night, at dinner at a restaurant I can’t remember the name, we clinked our wine glasses in a toast and I, naturally, dropped my full glass of cabernet on the table.  The glass shattered and the entire contents spilled on to Vince’s sister’s lap.  I was mortified!  She, thankful to be wearing black, took the disaster in stride, mopped up the mess and we continued with dinner. Christening his sister must have been the nudge Vince needed, he proposed that night.

Vince’s family flew home and we continued our travels to Seattle to celebrate our engagement.

Here we are, thirteen years later, in love.

 

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.

 

T-18 Perspective June 1, 2013

Filed under: Life,Quotes — multihyphenatedme @ 7:54 am
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Do you know where you were and what you were doing 6 years ago today?  I do.

My husband was working in Los Angeles. Our two older kids were at school in Kindergarten and 7th grade. The younger two ages 3 and 2 were left with a babysitter as I drove 20 miles from Parks into Flagstaff AZ to to work with a fast wifi connection before runnng errands.  My favorite stop was Late for the Train coffee shop on Milton Road for their many tables, fast wifi and good coffee.  My car was on fumes when I rolled into the parking lot.  I added “get gas” to my list of errands to run later.

After an hour of so, I received a call from the school superintendent to tell me, the school board president, that there was a fatal accident involving three sisters (two of our students and an 18-year-old) of a local Parks family travelling to California around midnight the previous night.  The two small classes (10-15 students in each) involved, 5th and 7th grade, were extremely upset and crisis counselors had been contacted. Inside the coffee shop, I yelled into the phone for information and details.  As I grabbed my computer and stuff, my phone rang again.  This time it was someone (I can’t remember who) explaining that my daughter, as well as the rest of the 7th grade class, was hysterically upset over the tragic loss of their friend and I needed to get on campus as soon as possible.  I explained I was in town and would arrive in 20 minutes.

Everyone in the coffee shop, strangers and those who knew me as a regular alike, stared silently as they witnessed my distress and sensed the urgency to get out of there as quickly as possible.

I ran to my car.  Leaving the parking lot I realized (DAMN) no gas.  I banged on the steering wheel screaming expletives.  I quickly drove to the nearest gas station.  In my haste and stress and delirium, I couldn’t remember what side the gas tank was on, even though I had owned the car many years. I drove around and around the pumps, unable to get the car positioned with the tank next to the pump.  Frustrated and crazed I got out of the car and stretched the pump until it reached around my car to pump gas. Shaking, I only pumped what I needed to get me to the school.

Eighteen miles. Blindly driving.  Crying.  Screaming.  Disbelieving.

Six years later, my friend grieves the loss of her babies. Each year, this is the hardest week of her life, May 31 the hardest day and summer is tough with each girl’s birthday one right after the other in June, July and August.

Yet it was this week that this friend beautifully posted: “someone somewhere is struggling more than you can imagine. be grateful for what you have, how very insufficient it may seem at times. be thankful for those around you. make sure your kids know, WITHOUT A DOUBT that they are loved. that is the greatest legacy we leave our children”.

That’s perspective.

Alohna, Bryanna, Charless, you are remembered,  you are loved.

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T-22 Goodbye Beach May 28, 2013

Filed under: Family,Life — multihyphenatedme @ 6:43 am
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goodbye beach

We gathered with longtime friends on Memorial Day.  This wasn’t a goodbye nice knowing you visit because we’ve been friends long enough that they see our moves as their vacation destinations.  In fact, we see them more often living further away than we do living close by.

Their 7 year old daughter returned my jam jar filled with beach sand and made a card.  In the card she wrote that the sand is “to comfort you” when you move so far from the beach.

I wasn’t expecting an emotional day, let alone an emotional moment yet this little girl grabbed my heart and the tears flowed.  Surprise attack. Kids are good that way.

A little bit of LBC is going to Spokane so I won’t have to say goodbye to the beach after all.

 

T-27 The Journey May 24, 2013

Filed under: Family,Life — multihyphenatedme @ 8:17 am
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A few years ago I started a cooking blog, Funky Chicken and Alligator Tongues.  I enjoyed this first blog attempt, but postings were sporadic.  The problem that I had with my cooking blog was that it only provided an outlet for my cooking.  All of my other talents, thoughts, stories, blunders and commentaries were left bottled on the shelf.  Last year I started Multi-Hyphenated-Me as an outlet for all of me.  One of my 2013 New Year’s Resolutions was to blog more frequently; in fact, to blog every day.

Blogging every day is no easy task.  What was I thinking?  With my life?  With all I juggle?  I, obviously, didn’t start out the year as hoped, though not for the ridiculousness of the idea.  I couldn’t blog what I couldn’t talk about.

Our plans to move were top secret.  At first the secrecy was because we were unsure that Spokane was right for us.  We chose Spokane as a possible home based on internet research and what we heard from friends and familiy. My daughter and I took a “Day in the Life” trip.  We went with to see and experience what a day in our life would be like if we moved to Spokane.  We checked out school districts, neighborhoods, shopping, restaurants and activities to see if we could live there.  We needed to see Spokane at its’ “worst” so we went in January, a steady 24 degrees F, snow on the ground, roads icy.

To a Southern Californian, “worst” and “winter” sounds really cold and miserable. I’ve had my share of earthquakes and fires but I’m not a true SoCal Gal.  I’m weathered.  I lived through the Ohio Blizzard of ’78, one of deadliest winter storms in Ohio history.  I also lived in Teton Valley Idaho during one of their worst winters on record.  I also lived at 7200′ in Parks Arizona where snow and whipping wind were a challenge.  I know cold and 24 degrees F without other conditions for 5 days was manageable and tolerable.

Once we made the decision and moved forward with the house, we still couldn’t talk about Spokane because we wanted to wait to tell the kids first.  This wasn’t  a devious plot, we just wanted to enjoy our family ski trip in February and we wanted our sixth grader to have fun at Outdoor Science Education in March.  We told the kids on Easter, after the egg hunt and breakfast. In case you’re wondering, nothing pulls your kid out of a sugar high quicker than kissing your life-as-you-know-it goodbye with a newsflash like “We’re moving!”  Go ahead, try this at home.

Did you pick up on the point that goes unsaid?  We researched Spokane.  My daughter and I went to Spokane in January.  My oldest son and I went to Spokane in May (see post T-29 Soccer Success).  There are three other people in my family that have not yet been to Spokane prior to our move:  our two younger sons and…my husband!

[The plot thickens]  Yes.  My husband is packing up, moving 1,237 miles all because I gave Spokane, a place he’s only read about yet never been, two thumbs up.

My husband has clearly lost his mind.  He has placed total trust and completely blind (hello!) faith in me with this move.  My husband is smart.  He’s strategic, extremely focused and incredibly particular. All of this makes me uneasy.  I make kneejerk decisions based on my gut instinct, say what I think and clean up the mess later.  It’s not always pretty. In spite of my eye twitch, I really think I got this one right.

Wives – would your husband trust you with this big of a decision?  Husbands – would you trust your wife with making this decision?  Discuss amongst yourselves.

As moving day nears, I’m getting more and more nervous.  He won’t hate Spokane.  How could he?  Spokane is beautiful.  Our house is beautiful.  There is a yoga studio within walking distance and he has already talked to several people about boating and waterskiing on the many lakes.  He may freeze his skinny little Southern California born and bred butt off even though he did survive the Parks AZ years just fine.  My response to complaints of the cold are already prepared – dress appropriately.

Now that, true to my resolution, I’m blogging everyday, good luck shutting me up. Or is it shutting me down in blogspeak?  Though our current focus is our move, I love our journey and our story thus far.

 

Goodbye 2012 December 31, 2012

Goodbye 2012.

It has been a good year overall.

I started a blog, this blog, multi-hyphenated-me.  Though only 8 posts this year, I love it and have big plans for the future.  I lived up to, or tried to live up to, my hyphens, every day.

My 7 month foot saga put me back in touch with my old friend Reading. Perhaps due to many Ohio winters with not much else to do or maybe it is the escape from reality that is reading’s gift, in either case, I have always been a reader.  Being a project person and needing a project that would keep me down and resting while my foot recovered, I turned to reading.  I decided to read all of the New York and Los Angeles Best Sellers , fiction, non fiction, children’s, hardback and paperback.  It was mid-January when I started this project and it was sometime in February that I realized I had to scale back the lists in order to be somewhat manageable.  The LA Times fiction nonfiction hardcover and paperback lists were my source of material.  The Public Library was my resource.  I’m happy to report that I have read 134 books in eleven and half months, roughly 12 books a month.  I have so many favorites.  I learned so much and was reminded of things I have known and lived and seen. There were a few books that were wasteful of my time spent reading them but I learned from them too. I travelled from Machu Picchu to Africa to Paris to India and points in between.  I cried.  Sobbed.  I laughed and laughed.  The library staff knows me by name. The intelligent, literary conversations I had with so many in discussing books was truly one of the highlights of this journey.  On Facebook I “liked” “The Book Isn’t Dead” Community and have been inspired by discussions and quotes and moments. This journey inspired me to be the Book Fair Chairperson with the elementary school PTA where we had our most profitable sale to date.  From my Book Fair experience and my frequent trips to the library, I learned about Battle of the Books and rallied 5 twelve year olds to form a team and read.  I was asked months ago if I would keep up the reading pace, off the same reading list in 2013.  My answer then and remains, no.  Will I continue to read?  Of course! To focus on the best-selling Pattersons, Silvas, Picoults, et al is a huge oversight to the countless great writers out there with books that deserve to be read. The best part is to say, because of this project, I have grown.

My foot finally healed and I embraced the ability to move.  I ran three 5 ks and one 8k.  My friend and I walked/ran 95+ miles in the month of August, in the wee hours of the morning before we had to go to work.

We, as a family, spent great time together.  Camping trips in the Santa Ynez mountains and at the Kern River.  An awesome house rental in Palm Springs, and resort living in San Diego.  Summer was filled with trips to the beach, the water slide park, movies and parks. We experienced the multi-facets of Southern California.

Successfully raising a child is one of life’s greatest rewards.  To bear witness to my daughter graduating high school is a huge milestone for me.  I am so proud of her.  It wasn’t until she finished her first 16 collegiate units that I realized how quickly the next phase of her life, the college years, would pass.  My work here is not complete, nor will it ever be.  Our boys are quickly aging up too and their perspectives and antics are heartwarming and hand wringing, usually at the same time.

This was my year of fundraising.  Or was it my year of baking?  A fantastic combination of both.  What I learned most, or what was reinforced most  from these efforts was the incredible group of friends and coworkers that support me and have major sugar addictions.  Thank you. I will keep you supplied.

This year, as a recruiter, I regained footing lost on the slippery slope of the recession. It feels great to have traction, being back in the groove, doing what I love.  The icing is that I get to work with awesome people at an amazing company too.  The chapter “How to Get a Job” in Augusten Burroughs book, This is How.  Any recruiting advice that starts with a dual personality reference to the movie Sybil  and the person we become when interviewing is terrific.   “The truth is:  You are only the person you actually are; you may not may not be the person they actually want.” This is How is one of my favorites and a book everyone should read.

As my boss tells me, with all on my plate, something has to give.  He’s right, just don’t tell him I said so. As much as I feel I accomplished this year, the counterbalance is that I didn’t stay on diets I self prescribed, or lose the weight I wanted to lose (with all that mileage you would think…). I didn’t travel to all the places I wanted to go.  I could have been a better wife, mother, friend, person, employee, better in all of my roles.  My garden could have been better.  I still can’t hula hoop. Something does have to give.  Figuring out that something every day is the challenge.

Two Thousand Twelve was good to me and my family and we lived life well. For this I am thankful and know we are blessed. Thank you for sharing this year with me.

2012 Reading List

*books I enjoyed

Fiction

  1. The Book Thief*
  2. Extremely Loud Incredibly Close*
  3. The Marriage Plot
  4. The Art of Fielding*
  5. 1Q84*
  6. The Goon Squad
  7. Tinker Tailor Sodier Spy
  8. The Paris Wife*
  9. Against All Enemies
  10. Bonnie
  11. Then Again
  12. The Drop
  13. The Sense of An Ending
  14. Private #1 Suspect
  15. Breakdown
  16. Believing the Lie
  17. Raylan
  18. Death Comes to Pemberly
  19. Defending Jacob
  20. Homefront*
  21. The Summer Garden
  22. Kill Shot
  23. What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank
  24. Dreams of Joy*
  25. 44 Charles Street
  26. The 9th Judgment
  27. Celebrity in Death
  28. War Horse*
  29. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children*
  30. Night Road*
  31. Capture of the Earl of Glencrae
  32. The Starboard Sea*
  33. Sacre Bleu*
  34. Fifty Shades of Grey
  35. Fifty Shades Darker
  36. Fifty Shades Freed
  37. The Fault In Our Stars*
  38. The Lucky One*
  39. Calico Joe*
  40. All There Is*
  41. State of Wonder*
  42. Istanbul Passage *
  43. The Kings of Cool
  44. Beautiful Ruins*
  45. Private Games*
  46. Guilty Wives*
  47. Bones are Forever*
  48. The Beautiful Mystery*
  49. The Night Circus*
  50. The Next Best Thing*
  51. The Prisoner of Heaven*
  52. A Hologram fro the King
  53. Mission to Paris*
  54. The Age of Miracles*
  55. Where’d You Go, Bernadette?*
  56. Creole Bell*
  57. The Fallen Angel*
  58. Shadow of Night*
  59. The Life of Pi*
  60. Broken Harbor*
  61. 3rd Wheel Diary of a Whimpy Kid
  62. Invention of Hugo Cabret*
  63. The Timekeeper*
  64. Zoo
  65. Notorious Nineteen
  66. In One Person*
  67. The Perks of Being a Wallflower*
  68. Gone Girl*

Non Fiction

  1. Bossypants*
  2. Outliers: the story of success*
  3. Unbroken*
  4. Heaven is For Real
  5. Steve Jobs
  6. Elizabeth the Queen
  7. The Obamas
  8. Ameritopia
  9. Quiet: The Power of Introverts
  10. The Power of Habit*
  11. Wild*
  12. Bringing Up Bebe
  13. Killing Lincoln*
  14. Blue Nights
  15. Full Service
  16. Take the Stairs*
  17. Great by Choice*
  18. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks*
  19. Thinking Fast and Slow*
  20. The 17 Day Diet
  21. Taking People With You
  22. Abundance*
  23. Moneyball
  24. The Big Short
  25. Tipping Point*
  26. I Am A Pole*
  27. Turn Right at Machu Pichu*
  28. Pioneer Woman Cooks
  29. Behind the Beautiful Forevers*
  30. The 5 Love Languages*
  31. The Happiness Project*
  32. Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt*
  33. I Remember Nothing
  34. The Vow
  35. Paris versus New York*
  36. The Irish Americans
  37. It Worked for Me
  38. Cronkite
  39. Mortality*
  40.  How to Be a Woman
  41. I Hate Everything Starting with Me
  42. Yes Chef
  43. Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness*
  44. Not Taco Bell Material
  45. Farther Away*
  46. A Natural Woman*
  47. Go the F*** to Sleep*
  48. American Grown*
  49. Boomerang
  50. Blood Bones and Butter*
  51. The Mobile Wave
  52. The Amateur
  53. My Berlin Kitchen*
  54. Sh*itty Mom
  55. Moonwalking with Einstein*
  56. Drift
  57. Help Thanks Wow*
  58. America Again
  59. Along the Way*
  60. The Grand Design
  61. Joseph Anton
  62. F in Exams
  63. Dearie
  64. Strength Finders 2.0
  65. This is How*
  66. Darth Vader & Son