the hyphens that define my life

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….


Fair Eve September 4, 2013

This eve is not fair.  It’s hot and humid with a storm on the way promising relief.

Tonight is Fair Eve, the night before baking entries are due at the Spokane County Fair.  Judging takes place on September 5th & 6th.

Oh yes, it’s ba-king night, and the fee-ling’s right.  Oh yes, it’s baking night, oh what a night. Oh what a night!  I hope you sang along to the classic disco tune Ladies Night, if not read it again.

I have no time to blog, let alone sit down, and shouldn’t be posting this blog right now but, I’m a giver, you want to read, so who am I to stop you?

I can’t tell you what I’m submitting to the fair just yet.  Photos and full details will follow in tomorrow’s post.  I will tell you that I’m submitting six entries. Two are entries in the Fleischmann’s Yeast Best Baking Contest, first category is baked goods and the second category is dessert pizza. Each category has a $125 first prize and momma needs a new pair of shoes. A quick bread, cookies and two pies is all that I’ll tell you about my other entries for now.  I’m in it to win it, but I really just love the motivation to bake.  I’m really anxious to see the competition too. What does Spokane County have to offer?  We’ll just have to see.

I have seen some great fair photos across the country from The Fabulous Beekman Boys from Sharon Springs NY (Josh Kilmer-Purcell and Brent Ridge), known December winners of CBS’s “Amazing Race,” were grand marshals for the Grand Sunshine Fair Parade in Schoharie County.  I follow them on Facebook and  find them funny and practical and awesome, you might too.

My cousin is a ridiculously talented knitter and took first place for each of her entries, a shawl and tam at the Medina County Fair in Northeast Ohio.  She also took second place for a quart of cherries she canned.  I just want to say that we had the same knitting teacher, our Grandma, yet I own “The Idiot’s Guide to Knitting” and she is a professional knitter, providing samples for knitting magazines to show in books and patterns.  Blood is one thing, talent is another.  I hope she doesn’t mind me bragging her up and showing off her blue ribbons.

kim craigs

My friend’s kids are true 4-H animal raising fair winning professionals.  Her teenage high school daughter took the Grand Champion prize for her steer (Go Taya!) at the Coconino County Fair in Flagstaff, AZ.  Her husband also proudly won the Hogs in Heels Race – envision this guy –  6’3, skinny as a rail, in jeans and heels chasing a full size pig around a corral with a bunch of other men in heels.  If my friend and her husband didn’t have 5 kids, I’d question his real motivation other than good old-fashioned fair fun.  The kids also showed chickens, pigs, goats and steer and have a bunch of really cool giant belt buckles from past year victories to prove they are serious contenders.

One of my co-workers worked at the Orange County Fair in Southern California for three weekends pouring wine samples from the various wines submitted for judging.  He likes to think of himself as a Carney, but he is just one of the important people who make county fairs fun, even if it is the OC Fair which is a county fair on steroids.

Now it’s my turn.  I wasn’t going to blog but just churned out 575 words and counting just reliving the summer fun my connections have had at their county fairs.  I hope you found some summer fun at your county fair.

Back to baking!


Staycation Part 3 August 27, 2013

Some weeks are just hell to get through, and some are not.

Today is my Friday as I’m vacation for the next 6 days.  This is Staycation Part 3 of Summer 2013.  This Staycation is sure to top the rest with the incredible fun we have planned.

Tomorrow, first thing bright and early, I get to go to Washington’s Department of Motor Vehicles and become an official Washington licensed driver.  Yes, you are supposed to get your new state license after living here for 30 days but I’ve been busy and going to the DMV isn’t my favorite thing to do so it has taken me 60 days.  I’m slightly anxious because there is no appointment scheduling for new licenses.  Moving from California, I am programmed to schedule an appointment as without an appointment you will wait hours to take care of your DMV business.  Hours, as in four plus hours.  No joke.

When we lived in Flagstaff AZ, appointments weren’t available there either.  After only waiting 20 minutes at most, you are issued a 33 year driving license.  Never having to return to the AZ Department of Transportation for 33 years was the absolute best part of living in Arizona.  Ok, maybe there were some other perks, but just thinking about the awesomeness of a 33 year drivers license brings me joy.

I have high hopes for the Spokane Washington Department of Motor Vehicles.  I have noticed retail stores that offer vehicle licensing.  Separating drivers licensing and related issues and vehicle licensing is a stroke of genius.  I’m excited to spend the morning of my first day of my Staycation at the DMV.

Tomorrow afternoon, we will tour the boys’ schools, get their schedules and figure out the lay of the land.  I am giddy with excitement to get on campus, meet the teachers and take the first step toward the new school year.  The boys are nervous and anxious, not wanting summer to end and definitely not wanting to be the new kid. When I asked my oldest what he needed to go back to school, he replied “a friend.”  Since I was referring to school supplies and clothes, my heart flopped to the floor and broke to pieces.  My poor babies!  A friend could be made tomorrow, my fingers are crossed and hopes are high.  School supplies and clothes are purchased so the rest of the day will be spent getting everyone,mainly their dressers and back packs, organized.

That’s just Day 1.  The remaining 5 days of our Staycation is to just enjoy the outdoors as much as possible.  We’re schedule to go boating at least once, hopefully twice.  When at home, the plan is to just get everything done (like laundry) and more organized (namely everything) in preparation for Back-to-School Tuesday.

This is the best weekend of the year.  It is practice weekend.  My county fair baked goods are due next week and I have to practice and perfect my wares.  My recipes are solid, it is just this confounded, awesome yet particular, O’Keefe & Merritt stove that I love but don’t quite yet trust. Temperatures and time need to be tested before I bake my final entries.

Do I really need to take vacation time to do this stuff?  Ab-so-freaking-lutely. My stress levels just dropped an octave and I need time to breathe.  Plus, when the kids go back to school, distractions, fights, cries of starvation will be gone and I will have uninterrupted work time. Novel!   Vacation now is really me just throwing in the towel to bide my time until the kids are in school.  I mean to say that vacation time is time to spend with the kids, cherishing every brawl, hallmarking every backtalk, photographing their lion-like laziness sprawled around the house and mostly to worship them while they play their coveted video games.  If you believe this, you obviously need a vacation more than I.


Staycation Part Deux August 16, 2013

Day two of our four day staycation and here’s a list why staycations don’t work:

1.  Alarm clocks.  I forgot to turn off my alarm off both days.  5:30 AM is not my favorite (thank you RGal for teaching me to not say I freaking hate 5:30 AM) and is even less so on my vacation days off work when I don’t need to be awake at 5 freaking 30.  I could have easily have forgotten to turn off my alarm if I was truly on vacation in a hotel or camping, but my husband and I have vacation protocol we follow that includes turning off the alarm.  At home, the alarm is part of the home routine, thus the staycation routine.

2. Routine unchanged.  Now that I’m awake thanks only to forgetful self, my routine is unchanged.  I go through my morning motions, drink my tea, turn on my computer and look at my phone.  Oh look, emails.  Oh yeah, thanks for the email, I forgot to do that, let me send a quick email.  Next think you know, I’m working.  Not really working, just skimming, yet working.  On vacation, I’d have to walk out to get coffee, my routine would be broken.  Staycations don’t break the cycle of your habits.  Vacations are intended to change your momentum, break cycles and change your habits.

[note to my boss who reads my blog:  sending you a text pix of the Cabela’s ad to brag that I get better junk mail that he does (and that I have a Cabela’s nearby) was all in fun, not the “work” I am referring to in #2]

3. Vacation does not include chores.  Staycation includes chores.  I’m stupidly awake while everyone else sleeps, I’ve taken a vacation day so I’m not working, what else am I supposed to do?  Laundry is relentless and there is always something to do.  I spent several hours of my staycation on chores.  Productive, but lame.

4. No chefs, bartenders or wait staff on staycations.  I’m cooking, cleaning, serving and no one is bringing me a cocktail.  This is the definite “not a vacation” of staycation.  My banana pancakes were inhaled by my fellow staycationers this morning.  Service is marginal, the bartender needs to show up but the food is outstanding.  The best part of a staycation is homecooked meals.

5.  We were invaded by ducks.  Where I vacation, even in my dreams, there are no ducks.  At home on our staycation, we have enjoyed the Canadian Geese honking as they fly overhead. We’re damn close to Canada, who am I to say get a new flight path?  Flying overhead geese I can tolerate.  Then the ducks loudly arrived next door.  No other words came to mind than “WTF!”  I thought my neighbors, who already have boisterous chickens, added ducks to their urban farm.  Quack, quack, quack, quack, quack, quack, quack, came booming into my house for at least an hour.  I saw my neighbor over the backyard fence later and started randomly discussing her hollyhocks (I didn’t want to shout out “WTF you have ducks?”, rather ease into it).  Once the hollyhock discussion ended, I segued into ducks.  Smooth, I know.  “Where are you keeping you ducks?”  They have a ‘Chalet de Poulet’ (truly, the sign on the chicken coop says chalet de poulet) for the chickens, maybe they’ve installed ‘Lac de Canard’ for the ducks.  She looked at me dumbfounded and said “What ducks?”  Really?   Now she’s bold-faced lying to me over ducks?  Turns out, there are no ducks, no lies about ducks, not even a remote duck cover-up.   While she was out, her fireman husband on his off day was hanging out with his almost two-year old, playing with his duck call, as he is a duck hunter.  Over and over and over and over again. Of course.  On staycations, you have to deal with your neighbors (who I love, except during duck season prep).

6. No maid service.  After running around all day on vacation, isn’t it fantastic to open your hotel room door and have the place clean and straightened and the beds made?  Staycation house is the same as everyday house, a disaster.  On staycation, you go out all day, come home and BAM you’re smacked in the face with everything just as you left it.

7.  Vacation Mode.  When you’re on vacation, you flip a mental switch and you’re in a different mode, vacation mode.  Staycation means same old every day mode.  No switches flipped.  No change.

8.  No Kids Club.  Let me start by saying I have never once put my kids in a kids club while on vacation.  With that said, where is the Kids Club?  I’m ready.  Not really, but I would like to have the option.  Staycation does not offer the Kids Club option.

9.  No hype.  If I told my family we were going on vacation for 4 days they would whoop and holler and be thrilled.  Telling them we’re going to have a staycation for 4 days provides no hype.  Staycation, to them, sends the same press release it sends to me, hang around the house for hours until we leave to do something you may or may not want to do, then come home and do all your daily chores because life goes on.  No hype.

10.  I can’t think of a 10th reason why staycations don’t have the same effect as vacations.

[after typing this post and spell checking for errors, here’s #10 why staycations don’t work…staycations is not a recognized word!

Staycations are great because:

1. sleep in your own bed – YES!

2. nothing forgotten, everything is here, unless we ran out and I forgot to replace, it happens.

3. we happen to live in an awesome place(hype, hype, Outside magazine just named Spokane one of the best towns in the nation

4. multiple rooms.  Not only do you get to sleep in your own bed, but in your own room!  A hotel suite for a family of 5 doesn’t compare to a house.

5. Ambience to suit your need.  Half naked or fancy, whichever you prefer, anything goes on a staycation at home.  For the record, I prefer loungy, where my youngest is typically found half-naked.

6. On your schedule.  Staycations allow you to set the pace and the agenda, preferably without 5:30 wake up alarms

7.  No resort fees, no parking fees, no gratuities.  Sweet.

Vacations in any form are pretty fantastic, even as staycations.  Next time we staycation, I need to plan better to sleep in, work less and hire a cleaning service.


Ready to Rumble July 17, 2013

Filed under: Life — multihyphenatedme @ 8:37 am
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Are your ready to rumble?  I’m not talking about some WWE smackdown. I’m also not talking about any given minute with my boys.  My favorite rumble is in the sky.  Tonight a thunderstorm is predicted in Spokane skies.

Growing up in Ohio, summer showers are a regular occurrence.  My cousin posted on Facebook the other day that it had rained 16 days straight in Ohio.  Summers in Northern Arizona are hot until the afternoon when huge monsoon clouds would roll in, thunder cracked and rain poured from the sky and cool off the temperatures.

We missed the changing weather while we lived in Southern California.  Southern California is fantastic for its consistent temperatures and we enjoyed the warmth while we were there.

Now living in the Inland Northwest, we have loved the cool weather on our arrival, rainstorms, and fantastic thunder and lightning storms.  We’ve had our share of high heat too which I’m ready to turn off.  They say Spokane only has two seasons, July and Winter, and we’re halfway through July.  Tonight, with only a 30% chance of a storm, we are hopeful for some weather.

Yes, I have nothing else to post about other than the weather.  Call it writer’s block if you will.  It was just a day, nothing extraordinary, all straightforward, simple and true to form, for which, I am thankful.  No additional broken bones, no calamities or crisis.  I did submit my photo of Vince jumping into the Spokane River to the Spokane Valley Photo Contest. I also returned some items I bought online. I watered the grass (the sprinkler system is broken).  Thunder and stormy skies are exciting.

With the first rumblings in the distance, I say goodnight.


Slackers July 15, 2013

Filed under: Life — multihyphenatedme @ 7:37 pm
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We have become slackers.  Not as our normal every day lie around the house doing nothing slacker selves. We are new and improved slackers.

We were inspired to become slackers at the Spokane Hoopfest when this guy, inside the mall, 4 or 5 stories high, walked a slack line across the length of the atrium with a crowd, including us, below.


Truth be told, I am not inspired to be a slacker, but my 9-year-old, Niko, definitely wants to be a slacker.

I don’t honestly know that people who walk slacklines are called slackers, but I think it is the perfect moniker.  According to, “slacklining is the sport of walking a small, flat nylon rope between two points. It is practiced in the backyard, on college campuses and city parks, and even 3000 feet above the ground. Some people do it for fun, others for the obvious athletic benefits, and others still for a meditative purpose, in seeking a higher state of mind. Since slacklining’s development in the late 1970s, slacklining has grown into an international craze, and is a common and popular pastime within the outdoor community.”

Today we (meaning Vince) went out with Niko to REI to purchase a slackline to suspend 15 feet between two trees in our back yard, 1-1/2 feet off the ground, so we all (meaning Vince and the boys) can practice being slackers.  I am more of the lets hang a hammock between the trees and really slack off  but the distance is too great between the pines and I missed my calling as a slacker.

Three feet above the slackline, Vince rigged a guide rope so the kids can hold onto until they gain their balance walking the slackline.

Niko is pretty good for a first timer with Trace quickly getting the hang of it.  Andre, unable to test drive the slack line due to his broken arm, heckles their attempts.  I missed seeing Vince’s turn on the line and thankfully, he missed mine.

Of course I tried!  I was the closest I’ve ever been to being a Weeble.  True to form, Weebles wobble but they don’t fall down.  The slack line was whipping back and forth and I held onto the guide rope for survival.  Niko was not impressed with my performance.  He pointed out that I’m probably too out of shape for the slack line.  Thanks kid, you know how to make a girl feel good.  Ah well, he’s not far from the truth.

Where will the slack line get us? Hopefully not over some bottomless chasm or at the top of a circus tent, or a mall.  Most likely a fun summertime challenge for all, myself included.



The Spokane River: An Introduction July 13, 2013

Filed under: Life — multihyphenatedme @ 10:25 pm
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With Andre, our 7 year old, breaking his arm, our Spokane adventures have been halted to keep the boy and his arm mellow without exertion to allow healing and avoid surgery.  A sling is not much of a restraint from his wild antics so we have decided to stay home, work on getting settled and limit all activity.  That successfully lasted a week and now we’re all stir crazy.

Whenever Vince and I meet someone new, whether the paint store guy or the bank teller or just anyone, we ask which is their favorite lake and their swimming hole in the Spokane River.  We have been given great insight to the local waters, natural waterslides off Lake Pain D’Oreille (pronounced Pon-dor-ray), great fishing spots in the lakes and rivers and a lead to a rope swing into the Spokane River.

Today we decided to check out the Spokane River.  Not check it out, we’ve seen it every single day since arrival.  Today was the day we were jumping in and going for a swim.  One guy told me about a swimming hole west of town.  The bank teller told Vince about the rope swing.  When discussed with the boys, hands down, the rope swing location won.  We left the house around 3 PM and headed to this not so secret spot.

Forgive me, the place is managed by Spokane Parks and Recreation.  I saw the name of the place on a sign.  I meant to take a picture so I wouldn’t forget, but I forgot to take the picture so I have no hope of remembering the name of the rope swing spot.

We climbed down this short, loose-gravel-slippery path to the river’s edge.  Houses with docks were scattered along the opposite side of the Spokane River.  Our side of the river had trees and big boulders dropping into the river with spots to swim.  The highlight of this location was the rope swing.  A very generous, show-off of a guy, demonstrated how to grab the rope, where to hold on and when was the best time to let go.

Vince and the boys were stoked!  Woo!  Who will go first?  I had a full panic attack.  Spines snapping, paralysis, broken bones…my babies.  I seriously thought I was going to vomit.  Vince and the boys thought I was ridiculous.  I asked the daredevil demonstrator about water depth, when shouldn’t they let go and other panic stricken but legitimate questions.  Vince made me sit down, with clear instruction to stop talking and just watch.

Andre was pissed off.  He couldn’t swing, which we discussed before arrival and he accepted.  When he saw how dangerous it was and that he was missing all the fun, he made it clear to all that he was not happy.  Because there wasn’t really a beach, he couldn’t wade or play either without quickly being in over his head, unable to swim with one arm.  We sat together, misery loves company.

Vince was the first one to launch.  He performed a mid-air twirl.  He swam the long way around  the rocks before getting out to enjoy the cool (read: freezing), crystal clear water.


Trace was up next.  I held on to Andre and broke into a cold sweat.  I was stressing heavy.


Then my Niko took his turn.  I had a hard time watching, let alone taking photos.


Of course they loved it.  Of course they want to go back.  Our first introduction to the Spokane River was a great experience by a 3-2 split vote.  Andre and I have no plans to return to the rope swing. We are all ready to check out the other recommended spots both up and down stream.


Forgive me for not posting yesterday.  I have allergies (maybe all those dead flowers in my front lawn?) or a cold and I opted to sleep yesterday rather than post.  This has been a rough week.  I’m glad it is done.

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