Sunday, November 30, 2008

52 books - year one

Book 16 of 52

Chasing Harry Winston, by Lauren Weisberger

OK, so I fell waaaayyy short of my goal this year of reading 52 books. But I have absolutely no doubt that I read - and finished - at least twice as many books this year as last. So I'm starting over, and I'll keep trying until I actually get there. But for 2009 (starting a month early, again) I'm going for a more reasonable 50 books (I like those nice round numbers).

Chasing Harry Winston was panned by most of the reviewers on Amazon but luckily I didn't read any of them until just now. I thought it was a delightful chick lit romp, perfect for my mini-vacation over Thanksgiving.


Saturday, November 08, 2008

Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant

Book 15 of 52

Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant, by Anne Tyler

I love Anne Tyler. Something about her characters... so rich, so sad, so ordinary.


Let's Spend the Night Together

Book 14 of 52

Let's Spend the Night Together:
Backstage secrets of rock muses and supergroupies, by Pamela Des Barres

I love PDB's "I'm with the Band." I was hopeful that this would be more of the same. I was disappointed. Despite her perky commentary, PDB couldn't make some of these "dolls" interesting. I don't really want to know that "Sweet, sweet Connie" is still "doing her act" in Little Rock. Ick.


Thursday, October 16, 2008

I've been laughing all day about this

Yet another reason to be grateful for my ever lovin' hubby. And to be glad I'm no longer 25...

Sunday, September 14, 2008

New 'do

I've been thinking about changing my hair for awhile now, and finally took the plunge today.

Looks a little Selma Blair'ish, doesn't it?


Thursday, September 11, 2008

Such a Pretty Fat

Book 13 of 52

Such a Pretty Fat or Why Pie is not the Answer, by Jen Lancaster

I haven't read Jen's previous two memoirs, but I cracked up when I read the cover of this one "One narcissist's quest to discover if her life makes her ass look big." Jen is most definitely a narcissist, but she is very very funny, and she goes about changing her life and ends up with a slightly smaller ass. Her husband Fletch has got the requisite sense of humor for a man whose wife tells the world about the "manscaping" debris he leaves on the bathroom floor.


Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Comeback calendar - week 2

This week's area of focus is weightloss/physical fitness. Sigh. The bane of my existence. In trying to come up with a new way to address this old problem, a few key ideas occurred to me. So for my comeback, I will strive to:

a. get sufficient sleep each night (this requires not only great discipline to go to bed early, but the cooperation of my offspring to stay quietly asleep all night)

b. walk 30-60 min daily (my work is a lovely 25 min walk from home)

c. keep a food diary (trivia: my hot single friend was the PR genius behind this story)

Anyone care to join me?


Saturday, August 30, 2008

Goodnight Nobody

Book 12 of 52

Goodnight Nobody, by Jennifer Weiner

I've been on a bit of a chick lit roll lately. Even though I have another Jennifer Weiner book on my dresser, I went for this one first. I almost didn't buy it, because it is a murder mystery and that's not my thing. But I loved this book! It was smart and funny and engaging, and true to the cover "begs to be read in one sitting." At the end the author mentions some other chick lit mystery authors, and I may check them out as well.


Everyone Worth Knowing

Book 11 of 52

Everyone Worth Knowing
, by Lauren Weisberger

This little chick lit confection, by the author of The Devil Wears Prada, was fun to read. Although it seemed a bit improbable to have the main character be a closet romance novel enthusiast, and the ending was a bit of a let-down, it was fun and easy nonetheless, and I'm looking forward to checking out her latest book "Chasing Harry Winston."


Wednesday, August 27, 2008

This is what 43 looks like

Today is my birthday, and my sister is staging a Comeback Calendar for all of us ladies who have misplaced our best look. The first week is "The big picture" so I thought I would just post one of myself. You can call this the "before" shot. This is me, dressed for work, about two weeks ago. Looking at this picture I see a couple of things right off the bat: 1. my jackets need to be shorter, and 2. my hair is too square.

And for a close up of what I normally look like on my day off, one from today (and isn't that little fella cute?). It was a great day... slept in, had my very first mani-pedi, lunch with hubby, then a matinée showing of Vicki Cristina Barcelona. We topped off the evening with a lovely family dinner out, including cake and ice cream.


Saturday, August 16, 2008

Staging your Comeback

Book 10 of 52

Staging your Comeback: a complete beauty revival for women over 45, by Christopher Hopkins

OK, I'm not yet 45. But this is my sister's new favorite so I had to check it out. What I learned:

1. Never wear dark top with light pants (for my body type)
2. I only need one or two colors of eyeshadow (which is good because I always come home with the same few shades anyway)
3. I should biff my turtlenecks.

My sister is on a campaign to get me to return to my (childhood) natural haircolor. She even roped in the author of this book to bolster her claim that losing the warmth of my current base color and ditching the highlights will make me look more dramatic and younger. I'm thinking about it.

For fun, here are two photos showing the difference:

My last known "natural hair color." I think the suggestion is to cover the grey with the dark.

My current hair color (warm brown with ash gold highlights).

Something in between...


Eat, Pray, Love

Book 9 of 52

Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

I was a bit skeptical, due to the hype, but my SIL insisted it was a 'must read.' I thoroughly enjoyed Liz's romp through the three I's (Italy, India, Indonesia) and I recognized the character even if I didn't identify with her all that much. We all have *that friend.* The story-book ending was a bit much, I thought, which perhaps is why the tale is so popular. Chicks love a happy ending.


Lord John and the Hand of Devils

Book 8 of 52

Lord John and the Hand of Devils, by Diana Gabaldan

I actually finished this trio of stories months ago. Another fine installment in the Lord John series. My favorite gay British soldier.


Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Quirky (or not)

I’ve been tagged by my sister. Here’s what I’m supposed to do:

* Link the person who tagged you - check.
* Mention the rules in your blog - check.
* Tell about six unspectacular quirks of your’s - see below.
* Tag a new set of six following bloggers by linking them:

I don't know six bloggers! If anyone who reads this has a blog, consider yourself tagged. Or feel free to leave your list in the comments.

Six unspectacular quirks o’ mine:

1. I cannot sew. At all. Not even a button.

2. My husband says I chew chocolate chips like I'm grinding gravel.

3. I am confident speaking in front of a group unless I have doubts about my knowledge of the subject, in which case a full-blown panic attack is a distinct possibility.

4. I cannot help but smile at babies (and their parents) but always secretly wonder if they are being breastfed.

5. I recently found a performance evaluation from a job I had in 1991. My "area for improvement" was the same as it is now (my straightforward communication style can be seen by others as being 'curt').

6. I hold my breath when I'm washing my hair.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The Beck Diet Solution

Book 7 of 52

The Beck Diet Solution, by Judith Beck

Judith Beck is a nationally renowned cognitive behavioral therapist (her dad invented it). She applies CBT techniques to dieting, addressing the thoughts that occur before we eat and how our thoughts influence what we do and how we feel about it. I learned some cognitive behavioral techniques a few years ago when addressing my panic attacks, so the ideas were familiar. Her techniques can be used in conjunction with any diet, and she recommends that you choose two (a plan A and a plan B).

Recommended for those who struggle with their weight.


It's all too much

Book 6 of 52

It's All Too Much: An easy plan for living a richer life with less stuff
by Peter Walsh

I actually finished this about a month ago, but my time has been occupied with co-chairing my son's school auction (success!). This book was recommended by my sister, and it proved to be a great motivator. I took a stab at clearing the clutter from my bedroom (need to go back for round 2) and am ready to tackle more. Since we are unsure whether we will be staying in this house, there is no time like the present to clear the clutter.

Recommended for anyone who has felt overwhelmed by their "stuff."


Saturday, February 02, 2008

Pictures from the party

Nothing like a balloon fight to cheer everyone up!

Flanked by her current favorites, Charlie and Josephine.

The party continues with free dinner and a sundae at Red Robin.


Happy Birthday, Little Beans

My baby turned three yesterday. She had a lovely two day celebration, and there are still more presents to open. Yesterday started with presents in the morning, then a party at school featuring mom-made muffins, home for pizza and Nemo. Today 10 of her friends came over to celebrate. The party reminded me of the old "Thursday morning playgroup" get togethers we used to have when Sam was little. I got to meet all her school chums and their parents. Many of the kids were attending their first real birthday party. It was a lot of fun for everyone. No tantrums, all the parents were nice and sociable, Athena played nice -- all good.

We've been talking a lot lately about the day she came out of mommy's tummy (Sam said when he came out he was thinking he wished he was still swimming around in there -- I'm sure he's right). Here is my recollection of it at the time.


Saturday, January 19, 2008

The Skinny

Book 5 of 52

The Skinny: How to fit into your little black dress forever, by Melissa Clark & Robin Aronson

These ladies have a fresh voice on an old topic - how to eat fewer calories without going insane. Their basic premise is that every slender woman restricts what she eats, whether she realizes (or admits) it or not. That cuts right to the feelings of unfairness that those of who struggle with our weight feel when we see a skinny person eating (ice cream, potato chips, french fries, whatever). They talk about "Happy Skinny" which means enjoying your food AND enjoying your body. They emphasize eating what you want, not eating what you don't want, favoring fruits and veggies, and balancing your meals throughout the day.

These are all common sense notions that are far from common. Yet, it makes perfect sense that skinny people would eat this way. I watch my own friends who have maintained a slender figure. If they have a donut for breakfast, they don't have ice cream at lunch and cookies after dinner. They fill up on the things they do like, and don't bother with the things they don't like. They've learned to be satisfied with smaller portions, which seem "normal" to them. They leave food on the plate.

The last 100 pages are full of recipes, menu suggestions, and a basic glossary. Some interesting combinations in the recipes (all heavily focused on fruits and veggies), and none too difficult.

They even have a website (of course) and blog The tip that got me to order the book (from the library, although I might end up buying it):

"Food is everywhere now. When you don’t know what you want, go with the freshest thing around. The fruit, the steamed green beans, the salad. It may sound less than exciting, but there’s always another more exciting meal around the corner!"

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Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade

Book 4/52

Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade, by Diana Gabaldon

I adore Diana Gabaldon. She wrote (is writing, it's not done yet) the Outlander series about a time traveling American woman from the 60's and her Scottish husband from the mid 1700's. But the books only come out every 3 years or so, so it is a long time between. Lord John is a recurring character in the Outlander series, and Ms. Gabaldon has given him a rich story with her side series.

I read Lord John and the Private Matter some years ago, and thoroughly enjoyed getting to know this honorable gay British soldier. The story continues in Brotherhood of the Blade, adding a richness to Lord John's character that perfectly complements the other series. If you are a Diana Gabaldon fan, I highly recommend this book (start with The Private Matter). And yes, Jamie makes an appearance in this one too.

Thanks so SIL Melissa, I have the next book in the Lord John series to look forward to.


Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The Book of Vice

Book 3 of 52

The Book of Vice: Very Naughty Things (and how to do them), by Peter Sagal

First, it's not what you think. Second, he doesn't really tell you.

This book takes an outsider's look in to the worlds of swinging, eating, strip clubs, lying, gambling, consumption, and pornography. The 30-second recap:

Swinging: even a smörgåsbord can get boring eventually
Eating: with too much science and "art" food can easily overwhelm
Strip clubs: lonely (for men at female clubs), bonding (for women at male clubs)
Lying: the best chapter (IMO), good liars believe they are telling the (carefully worded) truth
Gambling: too much time on "why" especially the "why" of high stakes games; no new info here
Consumption: best chapter subhead: How to keep up with the Joneses when the Joneses are Insane.
Pornography: if your involvement extends beyond viewing, you'll never live it down

A quick read, a few laugh out loud moments, but the author seemed to be looking for stories that support his hypothesis, rather than drawing any surprising or innovative conclusions.


Sunday, December 23, 2007

The Measure of a Man

Book 2 of 52

The Measure of a Man: a spiritual autobiography, by Sidney Poitier

I found this paperback at a used book store that my parents took us to on the Oregon Coast, a place that reminded me of Powell's in it's rambling enormity. Guess Who's Coming to Dinner is one of my all-time favorite movies, and the book jacket looked interesting. Having an "Oprah's Book Club" insignia added a certain cache, but also a note of caution.

The book was mildly interesting, at times tediously repetitive, but overall "not bad." Since part of my goal in reading so many books is to branch out a bit, go ahead and plow through difficult books, and expand my reading repertoire, this fit the bill. When the author finally got around to his definition of God (on page 196) it reflected nearly exactly my own:

"I simply believe that there's a very organic, immeasurable consciousness of which we're a part. I believe that this consciousness is a force so powerful that I'm incapable of comprehending its power through the puny instrument of my human mind. And yet I believe that this consciousness is so unimaginable calibrated in its sensitivity that not one leaf falls in the deepest of forests on the darkest of nights unnoticed."

He goes on, but you get the point. Which pretty much sums up most of the book.


Sunday, December 09, 2007

52 books

Inspired by pal Dana's commitment two years ago, I have decided to read 52 books in the next 12 months. Rather than wait for January, I started December 1. Since I should have more slack time with my extra days off for the holidays, I figured I could get a jump start.

First up: Dear Catastrophe Waitress by Brendan Halpin

I read a review of this novel in a UUA magazine; one of the main characters is Unitarian and his faith plays a role in the story. I enjoyed the book, and am interested to see what else he has written. There were definitely some holes in the character development, but it was a nice light read. Sort of chick lit but including the guy's perspective. Anyone who has dated a musician (who hasn't?) and had a song written about them (who hasn't?), may find this book especially amusing.


Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Wow, that's a really cool "angry face"

Athena is quite impressed with her cousin Collin.

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Just call me McLovin'

Chicks dig the Sam.

Today at Y-care, one of the girls Sam talks about came up and asked me if she could have a playdate with Sam. I said sure. Then his real girlfriend said she wanted a playdate. I said sure. The teacher tells me that Sam and Maddie-Jo have been playing together all day (well, at least for the two hours of Y-care; she's not in his class).

I know Maddie-Jo is the real girlfriend because on the way home Sam tells me: "Maddie-Jo likes to play StarWars with me. We love each other but we're not going to get married."

"Oh, really? Whose idea was that?"


Chicks dig the Sam.


Monday, October 08, 2007

Of sisters

Whilst nursing Athena tonight...

Me, nuzzling her: "Sweet baby. Are you my sweet baby?"
She shakes her head, no.
Me, puzzled: "You're not my sweet baby?"
Athena:"No, I'm your big sister."

ps -- Happy Birthday to my *actual* big sister.


Sunday, October 07, 2007

The art of friend-making

I was talking to the guy who "sculpts" my brows yesterday, about making friends. He has had a hard time meeting people here in PDX, and just recently has been able to make some connections. I told him the hard thing about reaching out to people is knowing them well enough to know what they might be interested in doing with you. With moms it is even harder, as they have to weigh your invitation against spending time with their family, potentially getting a sitter, etc. Which makes the casual "let's go for drinks" seem like almost too much work.

I have met a couple of women since moving here that I seem to "click" with, but haven't taken that next step of really reaching out to them. I had a nice surprise this morning, when I heard someone calling my name at church. I looked up to see M., one of the few women at work that I have connected with. We've had lunch a few times, but we never got around to, "So, what do you do on Sunday mornings?" Funny how that never came up. I was happy to see her, and it made me feel like my instincts were correct that we could be friends.

I took the extra effort to attend a PTA meeting, and a nursing mother's activist meeting, last week. I had hoped to open the door to some new friends, with common interests. It's like dating though, finding new girlfriends is labor intensive. It takes time. But as my PT friends feel further and further away (Becca -- can't we trade dinner this week??) it's important that I establish some new pals here. And if they have interesting partners, so much the better. Now that we have a reliable babysitter, double dinner dates sound really appealing. But so does coffee on Saturday morning, scrapbooking on Sunday afternoon, or drinks after kid's bedtime any old night.

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Saturday, August 25, 2007

nothin' much

Steve went out to a movie tonight and the kids went to sleep remarkably easily, so here I sit with a little time on my hands. A few things from my world:

1. Parents, you must read this. It's witty and true. And if you comment, maybe he'll keep writing.

2. Until he gets a job. Steve is considering a full time position that he is easily qualified for, pays OK, and would probably not be too stressful. He is very worried about the kids being with "others" all day. I'm a little less worried about that, but certainly not happy at losing my wife.

3. "Knocked Up" = very funny movie. Haven't laughed that hard in eons. See it. We went to this nearby theatre that has childcare -- whoot! The kids liked it, we liked it (it's also one of those PDX "beer & pizza" theatres). I love this town.

4. My birthday is Monday, and I've lost 10 pounds in the past 5 weeks.

5. I had blood drawn for some standard tests this morning, and seven hours later I got an email notifying me that my results were available online. I love that! My cholesterol is a kick ass 120, and my glucose is a perfectly fine 85. Triglycerides, an amazing 37. No transfats around here, sir. My HDL could be improved with more exercise (and red wine).

6. Spaceburgers are better when you're a kid, but the county fair is still pretty damn fun.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Happy Birthday, family!

When Sam turned five yesterday, I was reminded of what difference his birth made in all of our lives. We went from a couple of newlyweds to a family of three. Our priorities shifted, never to return. And we started down the path that led us to Athena.

Happy Birthday, SammyT. You're the best.

Samuel Thelonious Wilmart 8/1/02

One year old

Not so terrible two.

Three years old & still wearing QS.

Four years old... growing up!

Happy 5th Birthday, Sam!


Monday, July 30, 2007

The "new" new job and what I wore

Late last week, I was offered (and accepted) a new job. Yes, I just started my current job a few months ago. This job is with the same company, doing similar work, but in a different department. And it pays 44% more. You read that right. I just got a forty four percent pay raise.

On the day I accepted the job, I had started using some of the suggestions in my latest read. I wore a black skirt and jacket that passed for a suit. A knit sleeveless shell. Pantihose and black pumps (purchased on my lunch break for $14.99 at Payless).

I attended a large meeting in the afternoon, at which I spoke briefly. A woman I have met several times -- I would recognize her from across a crowded room -- came up to me at the end. She said, "Beth, I was sitting here trying to figure out who you were. I was thinking, "Is she a manager?"

Is she a manager? I am now.


Thursday, July 19, 2007

Grandmother Adella

We visited my parents new house last month on my mom's birthday. My grandmother, Adella Rebecca Baker, now lives with my parents in Moses Lake. We had a lovely but too short visit. Three generations of Rebecca's!

Oh, and check out how grown up my beautiful nieces are:


Claim the prize

When Sam told me his tooth hurt last weekend, I thought he just needed some dental floss. On closer inspection, it was all wiggly-waggly. We had to quickly explain the tooth fairy (a pretend person) and the process (put your tooth in a special place, and she'll bring you a prize).

We got a lovely little tooth pillow from Niki, and two days later out it came. We had tried to pull it out the night before, but when Sam went to school on Monday he "just stuck my finger in there and pulled it right out!"

The tooth went in the pillow - it has a special pouch - and the tooth fairy brought him a transformer. He was so excited he woke up in the middle of the night to see what she brought.


Sunday, June 17, 2007

Fathers Day 07

It happens to be Father's Day, but this is really an update on how amazingly happy we are to be living in Portland. One of the great things about being here, is when I told Steve at 11am "Between now and 6:30pm you can do whatever you want" he actually had someplace to go. In PT we would have had to leave the house in order for Steve to have some quality alone time. Here, he took his Father's Day cash and hit the record shops. By foot and train, with good food and coffee along the way. Sweet.

I get asked every once in awhile whether I miss Port Townsend, and I have to say only, "I miss my girlfriends." Nothing else ever really enters my mind. I don't miss the judgments and expectations I seemed to have cultivated in my circle of acquaintances. I don't miss the Chinese water torture quality of financial stress we lived with for most of the years we were there. I don't miss the sameness of virtually everything: the people, the ideas, the goods and services, the attitudes. I'm not saying I was any different, then. The small town things sucks you in and before you know it you are small town too.

What do I love about Portland? I love the urban feel of our home, and having all the bedrooms upstairs. I love seeing 20-somethings dressed for business. I love seeing brown skin of all shades and ages and hearing different languages. I love walking five blocks to Trader Joes at 8pm. I love getting paycheck every two weeks, paid holidays, and excellent health benefits for $15 a month (total for the whole family). I love that Steve is home with the kids and he does the dishes and the laundry in between unpacking all our stuff. I know this last part will end fairly soon but it is sooooo nice right now.

We had a fun visit with Pam, Brock and Baxter a few weeks ago and discovered some good pizza for delivery. Tonight we found awesome Chinese (salt & pepper squid, Kung Pao w/ chicken, shrimp and beef, the juiciest BBQ pork ever) just a few blocks away. Both were recommended by the family across the street; two attorneys with a new baby and a two year old, who are taking turns staying home (Dad first). Note to self: invite them over for dinner.

The kids and I are settling in to our church, and looking forward to meeting the new minister who starts in August. Both kids are now in school three days a week (different schools), so Steve has the enviable schedule of Mon & Fri w/no kids, Tues & Thurs w/one, and Wednesdays with both. As productive as he's been with the kids home things can only improve with them gone. Lucky me!

We visited my parents at their new house in Moses Lake and got to see my grandma (who now lives with them) and my sister & her family. In two weeks Steve's parents will visit. We have no plans to visit PT but feel that we are getting close to an offer on our house. So hey, you! Come visit! It's a wonderful time to be in the Rose City.


Sunday, May 20, 2007

First week

We are here in Portland, and it feels like we've been here much longer than 10 days. I started my new job last week, and things went pretty well. It is exhausting though, working full time. The last time I did this (1999) I could come home and just crash. Now I have family to attend to, not to mention all the chores of moving into a new home. Oh, and I'm a bit older now too.

I have hardly done any of the unpacking. Steve is doing it all. He's so awesome.

I am loving walking to the train each day, and delving into the corporate environment. Politics are pretty thick where I work, so I'm trying to figure out where I fit in. Mostly I want to learn the job, score some early wins, and not piss anybody off too much.

Athena is doing great at her new (temporary) daycare situation. We don't love it but it is what we found, so it will have to do for another week. She goes M-F from 9am-1pm. It wasn't a good fit for Sam, so he has been home with Steve. Sam is having a hard time adjusting to being away from his friends. He doesn't say so, but I know he misses the rhythm of his life in Port Townsend. He had friends to play with everyday; he doesn't have that here. It is causing him to act out and try everyone's patience.

Again, Steve is getting the worst of this. He is awesome. xoxoxo

We have ventured out a bit into the neighborhood. Steve and the kids have found several parks (indoors and out -- yes they have indoor parks here). We tried the Tibetan restaurant half a block away and it was good. I walk past Trader Joe's twice a day and find it hard not to stop and grab something we "need." We're planning to take the kids to see Shrek III -- it plays every half hour on the weekends starting at 9:30AM!

Sam and I went to church today, and I think this one will work out. They meet at 5pm on Sundays which is a great time for me. Athena stayed home this time to get some play time with Dad. Sam is having trouble getting used to the new place/people, but the songs are familiar and I think he'll get it in a few weeks.

I went to another NIA class today, (I went last Sunday too) which is taught by one of the founders, Carlos Rosas. I still think it is amazing and I look forward to going each week. With all the walking I do to/from and at work, if I can get in one dance class a week I think that will feel pretty good. My body already feels different just from all the walking. In a good way.


Saturday, May 12, 2007

Why I Blog

Sister Rebecca tagged me with this question. I started blogging because my husband suggested it. At the time he was posting a lot more; we both started on LiveJournal. Now I blog for a couple of reasons:

1. To share pictures with my extended family and friends.
2. To share major events in my life with same.
3. To share and document good (or not so good) recipes and menus (World of Food)
3. To "talk" about things in my life.

This last one is the most sensitive, I suppose. I tend to blog about people being rude to me, as a way to heal from hurt feelings. This has backfired, when one of those people identified themselves and took offense. I also muse about things I've read, heard, or thought about recently. This sometimes starts a discussion that is almost always highly civil, since it is mostly my friends and family who read the blog.

I don't blog for the benefit of people I don't know -- what I write would be exceedingly boring to them. I don't have any agenda, topic, theme, or even style. This is my public diary, and like anything public I don't post anything I would be embarrassed to have my mother read. Likewise, if I'm blogging about another person, I don't blog anything I wouldn't say to their face.

I blog because I can, and because I like to share!

Friday, May 04, 2007

It was bound to happen, or How to Ruin a Perfectly Good Morning

This morning was a little hectic, getting the kids off to school with Athena screaming nonstop and fighting every move I made (esp. putting her in her car seat). I finally got them situated at school, swung by home for a bottle of water, and headed off to NIA class. I bought a five-card class a month ago but haven't found/made the time to attend but one. Now with only five days left until we move and no weekend classes, I will probably leave one class "on the table" as they say.

I love NIA. It is a body-positive class populated by (mostly) women of all ages, shapes, and sizes. The instructor is a fortyish hard-body mama with absolutely no attitude about it. She wants you to feel sexy and have fun. I always leave there thinking, "I want to do this every day."

Today was no different. The last two songs were specific "Thank You" anthems to our bodies and our classmates/friends/community. I got up to leave feeling energized, alive, peaceful, and grateful. Then an older woman came up to me and said: "This class is the best thing you can do for your baby. It's good for you, and for the baby. I'm a nurse. Keep coming to class. It really is so good for both of you."

I shit you not, she actually said this. I smiled, said, "Thank you" and got out of there just before the waterworks began. The last hour of feeling good about my body was blown to shreds by some old lady mistaking my belly fat for pregnancy.

I'm mostly over it now, but left wondering what I'm going to say if I see her at class next week. I know she meant well, and pretty much every overweight woman I know has had this happen to them too. It was just my first time. Not something I care to repeat.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Four down, one to go

Things are moving quickly now. Tuesday we sold the record store. Wednesday we leased (to own) a house in Portland. Now all we have to do is sell our old house, and we are done with our spring "To Do" list.

Then on to our Summer To Do list: job for Steve, schools and childcare for both kids, and all the million and one things that come with a new house in a new neighborhood in a new city in a new state. And plan our Fall vacation.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Two down, three to go

Today I accepted an offer from Kaiser Permanente to work in their communications department as Liaison, NW Permanente. The job is a marketing communications manager position, with writing responsibility. I will be working on internal and external communications projects for the physicians of Kaiser, some 800-900 of them. I am thrilled to be back in the workaday world, doing what I like to do and happen to be good at. Provided I pass my drug test and background check, I will start work on May 14th.

Also today, I offered the job of Executive Director of The Women's Health Project to a bright, confident woman who will do great at keeping the organization moving forward. I am so relieved. I will train her for the next few weeks, then she is free to make the job her own. Once we make an announcement about her, the fundraising should kick back in to gear.

Not bad for one day.


Thursday, April 12, 2007

Fun w/Face Paint

Friday, April 06, 2007

Moving right along

It has been an interesting experiment to try and manage the spin on our upcoming relocation. Our timing is so heavily dependent on a bunch of things coming together at roughly the same time, it's hard to tell people exactly what we are up to. But here's an update, such as it is:

We have five major points to address in this life-change we've embarked on.

1. Sell the store. We are working with a terrific buyer, and if all goes well we will be transferring ownership in the near future. That's about as specific as I can get at the moment.

2. Sell our house in PT. It was listed this week, and we are READY TO SHOW!

3. Get a job (for me) in PDX. I have a second interview next week.

4. Transfer my nonprofit organization to a new Director. I am interviewing four candidates in the next several days.

5. Buy a house in PDX. This can't happen until all of the above is accomplished, plus probably Steve getting a job. But we're looking at lots of places next weekend!


Monday, March 19, 2007

Some good news (finally)

One of the hardest parts for me of our upcoming transition has been what to do about The Women's Health Project. I launched this nonprofit organization last summer, and quit my job to work on it full time in November. At the end of January, we decided to move to Portland, so my fledgling organization was suddenly about to lose the founder. Two board members quit on the spot when they heard the news. Individual donations dried up, and fundraising came to a stand still. Meanwhile, the bills kept coming and the community kept asking when our programs would be ready.

I am far from being done worrying about what is going to happen, but today my mailbox brought me a little piece of joy. No, it was not a sizable donation from someone who really *ought* to be contributing to this venture if only to show their support of me personally (no, I don't mean you RJM). Nor was it notice that we won one of the half dozen grants that I have applied for. It was a letter from the IRS, telling me that the Women's Health Project is now officially a federally-recognized non profit organization. Yes, we received our 501 (C) 3 determination today and I let out the biggest WHOOP! when I read it.

It is a small step, but it makes the entity much more real. It lets us out of our fiscal sponsorship arrangement, which while helpful, was also cumbersome. We are on our own now, succeed or fail. I'm voting for succeed, although I won't be around to lead the way.


Friday, February 23, 2007

On the edge of panic

(written last night but I had trouble posting to blogger until today)

I have been having panic attacks for almost twenty years. I go through phases where I have them more frequently, such as when I was pregnant with Athena. I saw a therapist who helped me learn ways to reduce both the frequency and the severity of attacks.

I can often tell when an attack is imminent. I don’t feel quite right; a little anxious, a little off kilter. Frequently this is when I am either stressed, or exhausted, or both. I was feeling a bit off last night, and today was a struggle to keep myself from succumbing to a full-blown attack.

If you have never suffered from panic disorder, it is hard to explain how debilitating it can be. Imagine feeling like you are about to pass out, throw up, and/or drive yourself off a cliff (or all three) at any given moment. Then imagine that you never know when these feelings will strike. It used to be that it only happened to me while I was driving, or when there was snow on the ground. Then one day I flipped out in a business meeting, and realized it could happen anywhere.

I now know that getting enough rest, good nutrition, absolutely zero caffeine, and plenty of water all help me avoid an attack. I have also figured out ways to keep myself from completely losing it. This is what happened today. I got up at 5am after about six hours of interrupted sleep. Drove to the Bainbridge Island ferry to catch a 7:05am boat to Seattle. I felt a bit anxious in the car, but focused on keeping my mind clear of excess clutter (rapid thoughts are a symptom of panic). I breathed slowly and drank some water. It helped.

At the conference today I didn’t feel panicked but I felt so very tired, and a little scared of driving home. I battled the feeling of impending panic for half of the way home. For about 15 minutes things got pretty hairy. I felt clammy and disconnected from my body. I was in danger of hyperventilating. My mind was flitting from one thought to the next, interspersed with judgment about my inability to control my symptoms. The sun was in my eyes, making things even worse (panic brings great photo sensitivity – for me anyway). I focused on all the tools I had learned to try and calm myself down. It worked, eventually. For the last 25 minutes of the drive, I was fine. Calm, normal, even awake.

The sense of relief I felt when I realized the panic had passed was immense. After a full-blown attack, I can feel ‘on edge’ for days afterward. In this case, I felt almost back to normal. Every time these techniques work and I don’t go off the deep end, I feel more empowered that I am not at the mercy of random panic. It is a good reminder, though, that I need to take care of myself – physically and emotionally – if I want to keep these experiences to a minimum.


Monday, February 12, 2007

It's not all bad

Athena turned two on February first, earning the right to her very own lunch box. Considering that her first sentence was "I want mine own!" that seemed appropriate. Although she has only read one Dora the Explorer book and never seen a Dora video (that we know of) she recognized the character immediately and fell in love with her new lunch box.

This was the first and only time I put a clip in her hair, but I think it's cute!

Sam turned four and a half on February first, which he is proud to tell anyone who asks. His babysitter Michele gave him this Hot Wheels lunch box, which he uses to store his 30+ Hot Wheels cars. The following weekend he got his own new Power Rangers lunchbox. He has never seen Power Rangers, but seems to know everything about them.

Sam is still crazy about his flourescent striped tights that Santa brought him. So much so, that we got him another pair in a different (flourescent) color. They make him "super fast!"

For Athena's Birthday, I made this fleece blanket to match the one that Sam has on his bed. It is a "no sew" design, which is good because I do not sew. At all. It was fun to pick out the fabric, measure and cut the tassles, and tie them all up. She loves it and looks so adorable snuggled up in it.

As you can see, she still sleeps with her Teletubbies, "Winky" and "Po," who must be wrapped in her "blankie." She has been known to wake up and say, "Where's my Winky? Where's my Po? Where's my Blankie?"
Posted by Picasa

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Lovey the Killer Lab

Our new dog Lovey has a dark side. Last weekend, while we were in Portland, Lovey stayed with some friends who have two kids a few years older than ours. They played, they ran on the beach, they played fetch until the tennis ball sank in the ocean. They called us on Sunday and said they wanted to steal him from us.

Then it all went very very bad.

They took him to a relative's house, where another dog lives. They were very careful to observe the two dogs together; everything was fine. Then about two hours into the day, Lovey attacked the other dog. Nobody saw what happened (a 5yo kid was the only human in the vicinity) but the sounds of snarling gnashing and yipping made it pretty easy to put the pieces together. Oh, and the gaping wound that covered half of the other dog's face and nearly caused her to lose an eye.

Lovey acted very sheepish and moped around the house for several days after he came home. Tuesday another friend was here with his dogs and insisted that I let Lovey out to see how he would behave. Even after hearing the above story, he said, "Let's see how it goes. I take full responsibility for whatever happens." Within two minutes Lovey had one of the dogs by the haunches, whipping his head back and forth trying to pull a leg off. "Oh, *that* kind of biting." Yeah, that kind.

Not sure what this means for Lovey as a permanent member of the Wilmo household. He has never shown any signs of aggression toward the kids. But it makes me nervous. We'll see.

Update 2/10/07: Lovey is gone. We are all very sad.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Double Whammy

When my monthlong "Winter Crud" began to recycle symptoms, I decided to come out of denial and seek medical attention. My regular doctor (and her entire clinic) could not see me, so I went to the new-ish urgent care center at the edge of town. A very friendly and relatively swift exam and X-ray revealed double pneumonia.

Why double, you say? Double means I have the dreaded goo in both lungs, not just one. I must have the "walking" kind of pneumonia because I had barely missed any work and up until that point was not considering cancelling my weekend plans (which I subsequently did, and was glad). Steve came home early from work, we bailed on various playdates and other activities, and I have been laying low with my antiboitics and inhaler. I feel roughly the same... marginally better, I suppose, but I didn't feel *that bad* before.

When I started really listening to Athena's breath earlier today, I got skittish and took her up there too. Since she had RSV as a newborn, she's more susceptible to respitory infections and asthma. She's been coughing for a few weeks too, but not nearly as horribly as I. She is fine -- a cold, they say. "No mom, you are the only one who is sick."

Well, that's good.


Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Christmas 2006

This was taken shortly before Athena stole the show at church on Christmas Eve. The little minx insisted on dancing, prancing, and generally doing everything short of crawling into the manger at the children's Christmas Eve service. Her only saving grace was she was quiet about it. Sam was a little sweetheart -- spent most of the time giving me hugs and kisses and calling me his "little sweetie" as he often does.

Our holiday was marked this year by the huge emotional rollercoaster that is 4th quarter retail. Thanks to everyone who bought something (anything) at Quimper Sound this season. Steve works so hard leading up to and including Christmas Eve and then we get about 36 hours off to spend with family and right back at it. We were both up and out to work at 8am Tuesday morning; December is a very busy time for nonprofits too.

As I talked to some friends about our various Christmas experiences, I was grateful for a deepening spirituality that has bloomed during the last year. I found myself wishing I was at the adult service so I could concentrate on the sermon rather than the children's Christmas pageant. For the first time in a long time I didn't feel conflicted about the season and its spiritual component. I enjoy shopping for gifts but we really scaled back this year and it was totally fine. I relaxed my expectations and focused on enjoying my friends and family. So although it was stressfull, it wasn't *insane* as it sometimes can be. And the stress wasn't really related to the holiday, except insofar as retail is always related to this time of year.

Merry Ho Ho, one and all. Posted by Picasa

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Unhappy Dino

Sam REALLY wanted to put his trick or treat bag all the way over his head. We finally resigned ourselves to the fact that Sam doesn't like trick or treating. The crowds, the "ask" -- too much for my sensitive little man. He likes candy, but not enough to accept it from strangers and certainly not enough to ask for it. Crowds make him claustrophobic. Next year, we'll skip the parade and downtown trick or treating, and have a peaceful night on Blaine Street. Which is, after all, THE place to be in our little burg on the spookiest night of the year. Posted by Picasa


Our little bat, before she injured her "wing." Posted by Picasa

Lovey Dog

Last week, we adopted a four year old purebred Chocolate Lab from the pound. His name was Brutus, which Sam opted to change to "Lovey Dog." He is very lovey... sweet with the kids and only wants to be where the family is. But he loves to run and jump and play fetch too. He's a big dog, so he needs to get some good exercise daily. His only faults (that we know of) are an aggressive nature toward other male dogs (his scheduled snip-snip on Tuesday should temper that) and putrid farts (well, we can't complain too much about that around here). He is used to being in the house for hours at a time which is good because he easily jumps our fence. He only does it when he sees us all trying to leave though. If we are home he would much prefer to be in the house. Posted by Picasa

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Nursemaid Elbow

Athena took two trips to the Emergency Room this week, for nursemaid elbow. Hard to believe this never happened to Sam and now it happened twice in one week to Athena (on different arms, too). The first time was Halloween -- during the annual parade, of course. Athena was on daddy's shoulders, playing a game they often play where she leans back and he keeps her from falling. She leaned back too quickly, he wisely held her tight, and yowch! Nursemaid elbow. We cut short our festivities, got fixed up in the ER, and came home to watch a movie. Since our street is a hot spot for trick or treating, we put our 500 or so pieces of candy in a bowl outside the gate and watched it disappear in about ten minutes.

The second time was yesterday. After playing beautifully together all morning, Sam decided Athena absolutely must not play in his room upstairs. Rather than waiting for daddy to help, he tried to drag her out by her arm. Uh oh. Back to the ER (these things always happen after office hours or on the weekend, don't they?) This time they insisted on an X ray before they would adjust her.

Athena is fine, Sam is apologetic, and I am scared to see the bill for this week.

Sunday, October 22, 2006


Athena loving on Great Grandpa Paul and Grandpa Jim (aka Grammpy) Posted by Picasa

Soccer for four year olds

Sam's team of five boys was "Madagascar" -- the country, not the movie. Posted by Picasa

School Pals

Sam and two of his buddies from school, Caullin and Keenan. Posted by Picasa

Moving a bit too fast

I have been neglecting a lot lately, not the least of which is my blog. The last week or so I had a good excuse: I was sick (awful head cold which has now felled my dear hubby). I neglected many many things last week, some I meant to and some I simply forgot. What has been going on that has me so distracted?

1. I am starting a new non-profit organization, The Women's Health Project. In two weeks we will have our first event, and hopefully before then we will have fiscal sponsorship so I can begin fundraising in earnest. Which is good because

2. I have only another month left at my job as Program Manager for the Community Network. My able replacement, Anne, is already taking over nearly everything. Which is good, because I am starting to suffer from serious short-timer's disease. I did promise to clean up the office a bit before I go.

3. The kids. Oh, they are sooooooo great! Athena is chattering up a storm, and Sam is his sweet, sensitive self. Sam has been playing soccer for about six weeks; today was his last game. He loved it, and cried when the game ended today. Rather than go straight into basketball (basketball? for a four year old?) we are planning to detour through some gymnastics lessons instead. Soccer was one game and one practice per week, which was almost too much for my little man. I think he will dig gymnastics, as I did.

4. Church. I am chair of my church's capital campaign, which is in full swing. I have a great team of people doing most of the heavy lifting, but there is still a lot for me to keep track of, meetings to attend, congregational events to speak at, etc. I am basically the spokesperson/hot-seat-sitter for the campaign. We hope to raise $750k and as of the 19th we already had $508k. As the chair, I am also obligated to canvass several of my fellow congregants, which takes additional time and energy.

5. The rest of life. Quimper Sound, Playschool, babysitting co-op, AAUW, weekly support group (w/homework), various events, obligations, and social gatherings. I pride myself on staying on top of what's going on around me, but sometimes I just want to hide under the covers and disconnect the phone (and email). Or, oohh, take a vacation! Vacations have taken on this elusive fantasy quality, sort of like winning the lottery. Which apparently we will have to do if I ever want to take a vacation. Sigh. Oh for 1999. (just kidding!)

Monday, September 04, 2006

Ethics and maternity leave

I had occasion to speak with a woman today -- a very nice lady who was on her first excursion out of the house post baby #2 -- when she confided to me that she was "not going back to work, but they don't know that yet." I have seen this happen time and time and time again: women who promise their employers that they will be back just as soon as their maternity leave is over. Then, sometime between their last day on the job and their first day back (or even before) they decide, nah... I'm not comin' back. But I have *never* known a woman who, once she made this choice, did the ethical thing and told her employer right away. Every single time, they (the great big "they") wait until the last possible moment before clueing their employer in. I remember one woman who was told by her benefits person that she should not tell her boss she wasn't planning to come back, so that she could take full (financial) benefit of her maternity leave.

So... what's wrong with this "me first" attitude? It is harmful to business, but it is also harmful to women. It perpetuates stereotypes of women in the workplace, particularly women of child bearing age. When I applied for the job I am currently leaving, I was 7 months pregnant with my first child. The three women who interviewed me all wanted to hire me, but the lone man on the committee was hesitant. "Women change when they have a baby" he said. The others laughed and/or glared at him, overruled, and I was offered the job within a few weeks of my son's birth. I started when he was 8 weeks old (it was part time and I could take him with me).

But what he said is often true. I wonder what this means for (some) women's ability to be true to their word, or more importantly, be true to themselves. I'm not saying that we always know how we will feel when life's major events overtake us, but we should be able to conduct ourselves with honesty and respect. We should give these decisions (when and whether to work) the forethought that they deserve, and when circumstances change we should do the right thing.

This ideal has applications far beyond maternity leave, of course. As a small business owner I have been on the short end of the stick with employees more than once. It would never occur to me to lie about a doctor's appointment in order to take advantage of a sick leave policy, or simply not show up for work one day (or show up and quit on the spot). Until recently, I probably thought it was illegal to not give two weeks notice when leaving a job.

I have no good way to wrap this up other than, treat your employers, your co-oworkers, and yourself with respect, always. Be the kind of person who can be trusted to follow through. Set a good example - you never know who is watching.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Birthday Weekend

What a great birthday weekend! Friday night was cocktails and a movie with a friend. Two thumbs up. Saturday morning I slept WAY in, thanks to Steve, then did some puttering and hit the Farmer's Market. My parents arrived around 2pm, we hung out and then showed them the new store. Back home and dinner two doors down at an open house/yard party, then nice chat with the 'rents before bed. Sunday, my actual Birthday, included coffee and pastries with my folks before they headed back to Moses Lake. Then off to a beautiful baby shower/blessingway for a dear friend. The best food I have EVER had at a baby shower, hands down. And what a wonderful outpouring of love for my friend. Back home for leisure time in the afternoon, then another friend came over to babysit while Steve and I walked downtown for sushi. Tumbled into my freshly made bed (virtually all housework this weekend was done by my family, mostly Steve).

Oh, and the earrings. Steve got me the most stunning, elegant, PERFECT pearl and diamond earrings from our favorite jeweler. A near-total surprise, and very welcome. I adore them. And him too.

A perfect mix of groups, family, alone time, variety of activities. The only thing missing was singing (that's OK!) and cake (had a fabulous slice at the shower). I am feeling very blessed right now...

Saturday, August 12, 2006

The Meaning of Wife, Part III

I talked my now-defunct book club into reading The Meaning of Wife, and we broke up before we had a chance to discuss it. So for all you book clubbers (and anyone else) - here is a forum for us to discuss. See this post, and this post, and this one for starters. I'll jump in again once you get going.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Ready for kitchen duty

Sam has been helping me a lot in the kitchen, even asking to learn how to wash dishes. So I got him his very own apron, so he will be properly attired. Doesn't he look sweet enough to eat? Posted by Picasa

Did somebody say Party??

There is so much going on in this picture, it is hard to know where to start. Sam had 20+ friends over for his party (lots of siblings). Someone called our back yard a big rumpus room. Yeah, baby. Posted by Picasa

The Cake

SammyT turned four on August 1. He wanted to have a Hot Wheels party, which meant he wanted us to buy a bunch of Hot Wheels cars for his friends to play with and take home. No presents for himself, just plenty o'Hot Wheels. No problem. Steve, Sam and I all worked together to make the cake, which was the prime focus of Sam's attention. All in all, a successfull party. More photos to come. Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

More on the topic of women and the home

This one actually references this one at the end. My favorite line: ...because this is one of those articles that include sentences like "Of course we're not telling you to jump off a cliff" directly before lines like "but you sure will look pretty in mid-air,"


Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Camp Wilmo

Last Friday night, we camped for the first time. We set up two tents in the backyard, one that would fit all of us tightly, and a back up in case somebody needed more space during the night. It was a warm evening, and with all four of us in one tent we stayed nice and toasty. Steve and I slept on an air mattress in the center, and the kids each had a cozy "pod" on either side of us. Sam enjoyed playing with the flashlight and telling stories, and Athena liked bouncing on the mattress. Everyone was asleep by around 10pm, which is when the racoons starting going down the slide. Next time we'll wake Sam up so he can see them. All in all, a very restful, fun night.

Oh, and in case you couldn't tell, Sam has finally figured out how to smile for the camera. Those of you who received copies of his preschool picture last year will be glad to know that! Posted by Picasa

Breaking the Code

Remember this? Here's what it was about:

1. Quimper Sound & the Analog Lounge opened at 230 Taylor Street on July 1st.
2. The Women's Health Project will be my new "job" starting in January, provided I can enlist a Board of Directors and raise sufficient funds. Tonight, I had the very first person come right out and say, "I'll contribute." An hour later, she had offered to join the board. Whoo hoo!
3. It took me a minute to remember who both of these people were. One of them moved away, and the other one I rarely see any more but I made a specific effort to reach out last time we were in proximity.
4. Good GYN. Problem solved.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Scenes from a family

Tonight after dinner, we all went for a walk. No stroller, no 'motorcycle', just two grown ups and two kids trekin' up the street. We walked to Aldrich's for gummi worms ("sssssssss...." says Athena. She thinks they are gummi snakes) and ice cream. I shared my soft-serve cone with both kids.

"Moe! Moe!" -- Athena

"Mommy, HOW do you think they make this super good ice cream?" - Sammy
"I don't know Sammy. But you know, we have an ice cream maker at home." - Mom
"Really?! Where IS he??!!" - Sam

Sunday, July 02, 2006

The munchkins

Early morning snuggle while watching "Jakers!" Posted by Picasa