Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Spring Obsessed.

Sorry. I can't help it. Must...post...more...pictures...of...spring....

Our patio morning dove. Let's call her Ke$ha.

Blossoms from the plum tree, which just barely survived the August hail storm and the marauding squirrels who've been attacking it.


More blooming things, coming out of hiding.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Dreams Are Back

I'm having dreams again. It feels like it's been months since I've remembered them, probably because I was on the coma-inducing allergy medication Zyrtec, which insured that I conked out and slept the sleep of the dead pretty much every night. I'm on the more human-friendly Claritin now, so some dreams are making their way through to the conscious side once again. And I'm finding them quite interesting.

Friday night's dream was this: my mom is planning an epic, medieval-sized party, one worthy of a Douglas Sirk film or an episode of Dynasty. She has made yards and yards of itemized lists and is now subjecting my stepdad and I to reviewing all of them. They're all written on these mini yellow-lined pads, like shrunken legal briefs. Some are written in her neat elementary-school script; others are scrawled, like they are in real life when she is in one of her manic phases and sends us all incomprehensible letters explaining herself.

So Dad and I are sitting there reviewing her lists with her--seating charts and decorations and entertainment and the like--and I start to get that itchy feeling I do with her in real life when she just goes on and on about her most recent project and you just have to listen and nod and smile. It's like playing school with Addie: she's the teacher, and your job is to simply sit and be told what to do.

I don't remember much else except this: for the party, Mom has commissioned a special trompe l'oeil painting on the wall in an "oriental" theme. It seems really tacky to me, which is odd, because my mom's taste is actually very sophisticated. But on this dream wall, there are giant geishas, gaudily painted, making their way around the kitchen. Then there is this blank spot, and my mom explains that this is where portraits of the family will be painted. Except she can't bring herself to get them up there. She shows me photographs of each of us that can be used to make the mural, and in mine, I have baggy cargo pants and a t-shirt on. Of course it wouldn't look right for me to be up there with those geishas.

Of course my being there would ruin the tableau.

In real life, my mom is about to turn sixty, and is planning a huge party to celebrate (as she should). E. and the girls and I will go a few days earlier, spend some time in McCall, and then meet my mom for dinner on her actual birthday. We won't be at the actual party at all. We will be missing.

And that's just fine with me.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Hobby Horse

This thing showed up in the mail this week.

I am fairly certain that, some time tomorrow, away from the innocent eyes and ears of my children, I am going to take a hammer to this foot-long papier-mache delight from Mexico and break it into a thousand little bits. Partly because it is creepy; partly because I have a little anger over not getting to go to dance class tomorrow because E. is working on a Saturday (again); but mostly because it symbolizes one of the very fucked up things about my family of origin (FOO).

See, my grandmother took these trips when I was a kid. She traveled to Africa, China, and all over the US. I think this is one of the cooler things about her, and in my mind it is associated with her financially enabling me to do some travel when I was a kid, too, which was quite huge for my personal growth and desire for freedom. Those subsidized trips eventually paved the way for my one-way trip out of Idaho.

I know enough by now about my family history, however, to guess that my grandmother's many trips may have had something to do with fights she was having with my grandfather, or even with affairs she may have had when I was young. Freedom for her too, I guess.

For example, she spent quite a bit of time mining for gold in Arizona when I was very young. I'm not kidding about that. It's not a euphemism. Though perhaps it should be, because she wasn't with my grandfather. You can fill in the blanks about as well as I can. And I'm not exposing any skeletons here: she has written an autobiography about those times and asked me to read and edit it a few years ago.

Anyway, while she was in Arizona, she made frequent trips to Mexico and bought copious amount of weird shit down there, including a vast collection of papier-mache clowns in various states of dress and emotion. They are terrifying. In fact, I can't think of one souvenir from my grandmother's many travels that is not, in some way, incredibly disturbing.

So grandma calls last week and leaves a message indicating that my mother returned this little dude on the horse to her house (you know my mom is not feeling well when she actually initiates a physical visit with my grandmother). My grandmother gave it to her many, many years ago. My mother returned the little dude on the horse because she didn't want it anymore (probably never wanted it) and my grandmother strictly forbids you to ever get rid of anything she has ever purchased for you. Ever. And if you do get rid of it, she will find out. She has a secret network of yard sale and thrift store spies strategically located all over the universe.

At least, it feels that way.

So my mother has taken to returning gifts to my grandmother over the years. This has resulted in my grandmother also returning gifts to my mother, causing massive amounts of hurt feelings and confusion on both sides. It has blown up into epic proportions such that now nobody gets anybody gifts, or else one spends an entire paycheck on a gift so magnificent it cannot be returned.

And then it is returned. Or, at the very least, disparaged. Or given away to the checkout girl at Albertson's.

In recent years, as you know, grandma has taken to sending me loads of her stuff. Anything with any feeling attached to it in particular. I am the Curator of the Family Heritage and Hurt Feelings Society. She usually calls first and asks if I want something, though my answer can never be no. True to form, the last phone message from gram asked if I wanted this horse (I didn't) and asked me to call her back right away (I didn't). So then this little fucker showed up anyway.

And tomorrow or the next day, it will get the hammer. That way it will never freak any little kids out, ever again, and it will never again be regifted, returned, or serve as retribution. Most of all, this destruction will symbolize that I will not be in the middle of my mother and grandmother on this one.

Die, little dude on the horse. Die.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Oh What A Night

Have you ever had that feeling where everything feels just right, like everything you've gone through in your life--the good stuff, the bad stuff, the stuff you weren't sure you would survive and come out the other side--somehow all makes sense? It was all so you could just have that one moment?

That was pretty much all of Saturday night for me. Because E. pulled off the double-mctwisty-birthday-surprise-party. And, well, I don't know how else to put it: I somehow felt, "I've arrived." Or, "Ah. This is what it has all been for." Or, "Holy shit, what have I done to deserve such happiness."

I don't know. Those things sound too dramatic and momentous for a little old surprise party. But something about people going to that kind of trouble, and having so many wonderful people in one place, and just being able to enjoy it, was very fabulous.

Am I making too much of it? Should feelings like that be reserved for, I don't know, accomplishments? Feats of daring? Saving the world?

Perhaps, too, I'm just narcissistic. Maybe people said to themselves, "That Jen. What a pain in the ass. But I guess I'll go to the party anyway. There will be jello shots. And karaoke." That could be. Maybe I was just high on my own pomposity.

But what I felt, really, was love. So, I'm just going to enjoy that for a momentito.

Or a lifetime.

I won't go too into the details, but the general outline was E. getting a babysitter and then arranging for a few friends to meet us at a restaurant. I thought this was the surprise. And it was a good one! It was a lovely dinner with people I love, and also hummus. But then one of the couples said, Oh, we've got this vegan dessert for you back at the house, let's go hang, and I walked in the house and a bunch of people jump out and yell surprise and I scream and hit the deck and then roll around the floor in delight (mostly at the surprise, but also because I didn't pee my pants). And then very interesting renditions of American pop hits ensued, lubed by delicious double jello shots.

That Eric. My goodness. And all of you! Keeping your traps shut. Very impressive.

I'll never forget it. Thank you loves, for everything.

Magic Words

Another magical thing about springtime: the words "Go. Play. Outside."


Friday, April 16, 2010

Kindle Craft

When one has been gifted something so special as a Kindle for one's birthday, it is only right to craft a goofball felt cover for said Kindle.

Carry on.

Product Review

Eric got me a Kindle for my birthday!

Eric got me a Kindle for my birthday!

Eric got me a Kindle for my birthday!


Birthday Extravaganza

These are a bit late, but I thought a few pictures from Addie's sixth birthday extravaganza were in order. First, a quiet party at home with family and a few special friends:

Then, a weekend trip to Southern California and Disneyland, where the girls had their faces painted in Princess-O-Rama-Land to look like kitties:

These aren't taken in the park itself because we forgot our camera. Yes, WE FORGOT TO TAKE OUR CAMERA TO DISNEYLAND. So shoot us. Let me tell you, though, it was an absolutely lovely day, despite all my anxiety. We had three goals: to visit Pixie Hollow, see a princess, and go through It's a Small World. We also had a time limit--we were only going to spend six hours there. I think that was the secret to our success: keep things manageable. Because it really was a lovely and magical, albeit very expensive, day.

Which was capped with a rousing game of "Throw the Ball on Granddad's Roof and Watch It Roll Down:"

(Yes, that is an exact replica of what Eric is going to look like in twenty-five years or so. Beer and everything. Except maybe minus the moustache).

But I think the best part of all was time spent with cousins. Because aren't cousins really the best thing ever?

All Hail the Dog Whisperer

Excuse me for a minute while I wax poetic about this man:

This is Cesar Millan. He is best known as the "Dog Whisperer." You all probably knew that, but I apparently have been living under a rock and didn't really know about him until now (yes, Aunt C., I know you told us about him long ago. But I forgot).

Because, you see, we have adopted the most perfectly perfect dog on the planet. Except for three things:

1) He has horrible leash manners. He has pulled me so hard that my back and arm have been sore. He took Addie dirt-skiing when she tried to hold the leash. He has terrifed grannies, pit bulls, and even Mike Tyson with his enthusiasm while on a walk.

2) He paws you when he wants something or is excited to see you. Because he's built like a moose, this can be quite an experience. When you're finished picking yourself up off the floor you might think about how to discipline him. But you're too bruised.

3) He slobbers like Hooch and his poop stinks.

Now, I didn't expect any dog trainer to be able to do anything about #3, but I've certainly been wanting to address items #1 and #2, both because they are annoying but also because they are dangerous given Milo's moosey stature.

I've been trying. I've been trying everything I can remember from our training classes with Burley (though we all know how that worked out). Treats and commands and affection and all that.

But it wasn't working.

Then I watched three episodes of The Dog Whisperer, streaming for free online. I haven't read Millan's books or taken his workshops. Just three episodes online. And it is as if the clouds have parted and the patron saint of dog training has descended.

I don't know how to describe it, really. Millan basically says that your energy is everything. I watched how he would stand with dogs on his shows, how he uses what he calls "the touch," and his skillful use of silence and listening. There are no treats or commands anywhere to be found, really. His motto is simply that dogs need assertive and calm leadership. Assertive AND calm.

Then, even though the show says not to try these things at home, I tried them. I took a walk with Milo today, on his short leash, which he has mostly hated (he prefers the extender. Who wouldn't?). I set the tone by getting really quiet and calm, and wouldn't let him out of the house first. I just waited for him to settle down, which took about ten seconds. Every time his energy got crazy I would stop, stand tall, and give him the touch. He quieted immediately.

Same with the walk. Millan shows you how to hold the leash and pull the dog's head sideways when he/she pulls. By the end of the second block, Milo had it.

The biggest problem has been him encountering people and other dogs. But every time I saw someone coming, I would bring Milo in, stand in front of him and gently use the touch, and by the time they had approached, he was a mellow little pussycat. One couple even asked me how I was doing it. No shit.

It was just one walk, I know. But seriously, it's like he's a different animal. And he got to play some serious catch when we got home as a reward.

I can't help but wonder how things might have been different if we had known this stuff with Burley.... But, the past is past. He was a totally different dog, and we're quite different people. I'm just glad The Dude is here to stay.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Sweet News

Feeling much better today, thank ye. Usually a head cold turns itself right into a sinus infection or bronchitis with me (especially during allergy season), but I think this one is going to just move right on through.

I'm superstitiously thinking this might be because I've started drinking homemade green smoothies--a huge one everyday. I've just been throwing whatever fruit is around in there, plus all that kale we've been having a tough time getting through from our Door to Door Organics box.

What do you think? Do you think it's helped with the cold? It is odd to be feeling so much better so quickly.

Or maybe it was just a punk-ass little germ and I kicked its sad little booty, green smoothies or not.

Either way, I'm glad to be feeling better, just in time for our weekend trip to


Oh! And FABULOUS news. We had Nolie tested for allergies (yes, we were a teensy bit worried she might be allergic to Milo, which would have been the worst thing EVER). But she's not. We get to keep our dog and our kid. Sweet.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Spring Surprises

I woke up this morning to two inches of snow outside and a gnarly, oogy, snotty spring cold.

Both of them can suck it.

Monday, April 5, 2010

On to Six

I think this time six years ago we were heading into our second day of labor, thinking we were going to see Addie any time now. She didn't actually come until the following day, the 6th. It feels like yesterday. It feels like eons ago. But that's how time goes. And here we are at Addie's golden birthday, where she turns six on the sixth.

I put her on the bus a few minutes ago for her last day of kindergarten as a five-year-old, and then came back home to put the finishing touches on her birthday doll.

This is all she is getting from us this year present-wise, since we're headed to California for a breakneck nosebleed-inducing pleasureshot through Disneyland on Saturday. If we survive I'll blog about it.

Anyway, here is what I know about Addie at this moment:

1. She has a very, very big heart. She loves her parents and her sister and her cats and her dog. When Nolie gets hurt, Addie is the first one there, putting the bandaid on and hugging her. Unless she was the one to hurt Nolie, which happens, and in which case she feels pretty bad about it. Sometimes a little, wee, tiny bit smug. But mostly bad.

2. Her bike still has training wheels, but not for much longer, I suspect. Her legs are long and strong, and she runs much straighter and more quickly than she used to.

3. Her favorite things are art, reading, and nature, though I'm not sure what order she would put them in. She is constantly building and designing things, inspecting the yard for signs of spring, and reading voraciously about everything from princesses to "mini-beasts."

4. She is still sensitive, though much more likely to laugh than cry compared to a year ago.

5. Addie is a goofball. Don't know where she gets this from. Must be E. Definitely E.

6. She is loyal and kind, and expects the same in return. This makes it very difficult to be harsh or unfair with her. A good thing.

7. She can eat three bowls of pasta in one sitting and still looks like a string bean. Also from E., goddammit.

8. She hates tags of any kind on her clothing, knows how to buckle her own seatbelt, can make herself a snack and operate the tv, on demand, and vcr, knows how to use a mouse on a desktop and laptop, still lisps and drools occasionally, can't tie her own shoes, can make her own bed, loves fruits and vegetables, hates plain milk, isn't big enough to walk Milo the Moose on her own yet, though desperately wants to, and is otherwise a wonderful, fantastic, loving kid in every way. We are so blessed, so so blessed.

Happy Birthday, my Addie.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Friday, April 2, 2010

Risk Taken. Breathe.

After much hemming and hawing, I took an armful of reJuJu upcycles into the Golden consignment boutique Rewind. I realized looking through them, there was about a year's worth of sewing and trying things out in that pile. I work slow what with the career and the kids and all.

But hey, the owner loved them! We worked out a deal and I get my own rack in the store.

Now we just see if they sell.


Big love to all of you who have supported me with sewing machines and yarns and old t-shirts and the bridesmaid's gowns from the backs of your closets and encouragement and love. And especially for the new studio space, E. I don't mean this to sound like an academy award speech, but it does feel like something. Gratitude, mainly. Thanks, y'all.

Keep those old t-shirts coming ;).

reJuJu tank, a la Alabama Chanin

Thursday, April 1, 2010

The Feeling Factory

So I'm putting the kids down tonight, and Nolie is being particularly whiny and petulant, as she is wont to be these days. So we two end up in our "thinking chair"--the rocking chair in the dark playroom where we go when one or both of us is having some difficulty expressing ourselves with kindness and respect. It gives us a chance to cool off and reconnect physically and to make things right again.

We're sitting in the thinking chair and I ask Nolie, "My goodness. Where is all this behavior coming from?" It's intended as a rhetorical question, an expression of my frustration, but after a pause she answers.

"From the factory."

"The factory?"

"The factory in my body."

"The factory in your body?"

"Yeah there's a factory in my body and when it makes sad I feel sad and when it makes nervous I feel nervous and when it makes happy I feel happy."

"Oh my."

Silence, while I digest what the hell I just heard.

"What feeling is it making right now?"


"Oh. I'm sorry."

Tummy rub. And, later, a back rub once she's back in bed.



"It's making happy now!"

The Dude Abides

I have in my brain some elaborate, bizarro post about this huge realization I've just had. A major relief, this realization. It's rolling around in my noggin and should pop out soon.

In the meanwhile, may I introduce to you...

The Dude.



Milosaurus Rex.

Mellow Milo.

Gifted to us by a family whose daughter, sadly, turned out to be allergic to dogs. So we inherited this one-and-a-half-year-old doogus, who is sweet-tempered, loves kids (Nolie is constantly poking her finger in his cheeks and his eyeballs and he just rolls around on the floor drooling and smiling), and pretty well trained in most other respects (except when it comes to chasing after other dogs and cats). It is so wonderful and peaceful having him here.

The only one who doesn't like him is Sadie. She's completely annoyed about the whole thing. So annoyed, that she has decided to become an eyeball-less geisha. So sad.

Basically, we love him in everyway, and are happily paying back the karma (dogma?) of having to give up Burley.

What do you think? Isn't he absolutely the ugliest, most revolting thing you've ever seen? I mean, really. It shouldn't be legal.