Monday, June 30, 2008

Indigo Girls

This past weekend I had the fantastic opportunity to join several of my close girlfriends and go to see the Indigo Girls in concert at the zoo. Strange venue? Maybe, unless you've seen the Oregon Zoo and the beautiful lawn ampitheater there. We each brought food and blankets/chairs to share and found a good spot on the grass. Fun!!! We killed a couple of hours snacking and talking and laughing and SWEATING (it was nearly 100 degrees that day and we had to get there at 5pm or earlier in order to get a spot on the grass. It goes without saying that I would never have braved the heat had it not been for this fun group and good music.)

And let me tell you, open air concerts provide some really good people-watching opportunities! Especially when the concert you are attending is a show by well-known, very public lesbians. It tends to draw an interesting crowd. The lesbians seemed to all behave themselves - it was the hetero couple right in front of us that squicked us out, essentially giving us all a soft-core show that made us all want to plead with them to get a room already! Geez! We had some interesting conversations while eating yummy food and drinking yummy drinks, such as pondering how many of the people with very large, visible tattoos regret them now? And just when did it become the trendy thing to do - get a tattoo? I'm all for tattoos - I have one - but I like to keep it under wraps and one would only know I had one if I choose to reveal it. Wearing shorts or tank tops doesn't automatically show my ink to the world.

Anyway, I've been to see Indigo Girls before and really enjoy them in concert. They harmonize so well it's amazing to listen to. And they both play guitar and I swear, each of them changed guitars before every song! The guitars from one song to the next looked the same to me (acoustic), so that just demonstrates my total ignorance about these things. The Girls played a lot of new stuff - they have a new album coming out - but they also played some of their more well-known songs like Closer to Fine and Galileo. Good stuff. I was really hoping they'd play Dear Mr. President, the song that recently came out with Pink, but sadly they didn't. I really like that song and it's in my Favorites playlist on my iPod. Powerful lyrics that make you think.

If you ever get a chance to hear these ladies perform live I highly recommend it!!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Lucky 7

7 years ago this very minute I was experiencing my first real labor pains. In total denial that I was in labor, of course, never having had a baby before. Plus, it was a week before my due date and I was assured, repeatedly, that "all women in our family go late." uh-huh, right. Late. Which is why the personalized "my first year" calendar my sisters made for me/baby didn't even START until July. My due date was June 30, and I wasn't expected to have the baby until the first part of July. So labor on June 23? NOT POSSIBLE. Except it was.

26 hours of labor, including 3 hours of pushing, an epidural, and episiotomy, a "sunny-side up" baby, and a vacuum extraction later, Nicholas was born. All 9 lbs, 1oz of him. A full week early. So much for all of us going late with our pregnancies.

And now he's 7! (well, technically not until tomorrow, but we celebrated his birthday yesterday so as far as I'm concerned, he's 7.)

At first Nicholas wanted a bowling birthday party. Perfect! Love the idea. Bowling it is. I called the local bowling alley for pricing and availability and we were good to go. Until Mr. Chick and I went to Vegas for the weekend and Opa took the kids to the zoo, where they currently have a dinosaur exhibit. (Lauren: "Mom! They're REAL dinosaurs because all the animals at the zoo are real, right?!") And from that moment Nicholas decided he wanted a dinosaur birthday party. At home or at the park, depending on the weather. Which in Oregon in mid/late June is unpredictable and fate is sorely tempted if you dare to plan something for outdoors. But feeling reckless (and not feeling like I wanted a bunch of rowdy 7 year olds running rampant in my house), I planned the dinosaur party at our local park. Thankfully Mother Nature was feeling charitable and we were rewarded with nice weather!

Planning a party, or more accurately, planning this party,
took quite a bit of time. I planned a bunch of dinosaur-themed activities for the kids, including a dino dig in the sand at the park. Thankfully there are lots of good dinosaur ideas to be found online and plenty of dinosaur stuff available in a bunch of stores. However, to collect the dino stuff we had to stop at all the stores. Seriously, I went to at least 8 different stores shopping for dinosaur items. Plenty of stores have dinosaur-related items, just not much. So getting a few things here and a few thing there was required to execute the party. My gas bill was not happy, but my kid was.

We started out the party letting the early arrivals run around like freaks with silly string. God love the Dollar Store! It didn't take long for several 7 year old boys to kill several cans of silly string. Once all the kids arrived we started playing a game of Carnivore/Herbivore, which is essentially freeze tag. You divide the kids into teams and arm the Carnivore team with dino stickers. If they can get a sticker on an Herbivore, the Herbivore is "frozen" until another Herbivore can take the sticker off and unfreeze them. Play for 5-10 minutes and then switch teams so the Carnivores from round 1 become the Herbivores. The kids love running around and the parents enjoy the kids getting a little tired out. From there we moved onto the main attraction, the Dino Dig. We'd plotted out a small-ish section of sand and buried a bunch of little plastic dinosaurs, some T-Rex claws that I'd made with this recipe, and a big dino egg (one per kid) that foams up when placed in warm water and inside are parts of a dinosaur that you get to assemble. I gave each kid a bucket with their name on it and a shovel to use for the dig. The kids loved it! Afterwards I had the kids work on a dino-themed word-find puzzle that I'd created while we filled their buckets with warm water (had to remember to bring a big coffee carafe of hot water from home!) to let their dino eggs foam up and break apart. After everyone had assembled their dinosaurs from the eggs it was time for the pinata, in the shape of a giant "7" (couldn't find a dinosaur pinata to save my life! This was the best I could do...). We used a wimpy plastic bat for the first round to help ensure each kid would get a turn to whack the pinata, then switched to a real bat, which did the trick and cracked the pinata open. The kids were all over it at that point like vultures, grabbing candy and the various stuff I'd put in there. Again, the buckets I'd given each of them came in handy to collect the goodies. From there it was time for cake, then presents. 2 hours went by pretty fast and all the kids seemed to really have a lot of fun. Smiles were everywhere. I especially liked these two smiles with the matching gap-toothed grins. Nicholas lost his other front tooth recently and now has a big hole in the front of his smile, just like his buddy. How cute are they?!! Even little sister Lauren enjoyed herself and made sure to wear her dinosaur shirt to get into the spirit of the party. (I'd convinced her to let me put her hair in a ponytail because it made her look like she had short hair "like a boy", something she really wants right now, as well as telling her it's how all the soccer kids wear their hair. She was agreeable for about 2 hours and then pulled it out. Progress, right??). The kids all left with little goody bags containing a different form of hatching dino egg, some dinosaur "magic towels", misc. gum and plastic dinosaur toys, etc. Plus the buckets/shovels. Nice, right? You totally want to come to the next birthday party I throw/host, don't you?! I worked my ass off on that party and was happy with how well it went. Nicholas had a fantastic time, as did his friends. Complete success - the most I could ask for.

When we got home from the party we met Opa and let Nicholas open his BIG present: a Wii! From us and grandparents. He FLIPPED OUT with excitement and threw himself on me in the tightest hug he's given me in quite some time. It was awesome! He's been begging for a Wii for ages now. He visits the Wii website. He plays whenever he goes to my sisters house or the neighbors who have one. He plays so hard he gets sweaty. It's a big deal for us to get it for him, but we figured it would be something we could ALL play. So we gave Lauren the other controller as a way of emphasizing that the Wii is not solely Nicholas's. He understands and couldn't wait to get it set up. And promptly gave us all lessons on how to play. He and Mr. Chick played boxing and Nicholas worked up a sweat beating Daddy. What fun! It was quite a day.

Happy Birthday, Nicholas! You're the coolest 7 year old I know!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Mad Catch-up

Hi hi hi.. hello! Yes, still here, just busy with life and whatnot. Thanks to everyone who shared condolences about my dad. He's ok. Really - he's doing fine. He's considering his options and is now leaning towards surgery. Whatever treatment he chooses I'm confident the outcome will be good. I just feel it.

Last weekend was my dragonboat race and what a fun weekend experience it was! My team, the Tsunami Sisters, did really well. The first day, Saturday, you race for time. We raced in two heats and achieved times that were really fast for us, beating plenty of teams who race competitively year 'round. Despite that, we were placed in the "B" division, which pissed me off, frankly, but oh well. On Sunday, amid rumors of intentionally thrown races by one or two year round teams, we raced again. This time, you need to place 1st or 2nd in your race or you're done. Our first race was a huge win - first place by more than a boat length. THAT was invigorating! Second race was also a big win by just under a boat length. We were now racing in the finals. 4 teams in the final race - 2 year round teams (1 of which were the rumored cheaters) and 2 "seasonal" teams that only do dragonboats for Rose Festival (my team). Oh boy, the race was close! We thought we had it for a bit, but lost by a close margin to a year round team and beat the pants off the suspected cheaters. 2nd in our division - not bad! Especially when you consider that half the paddlers on our team were first-timers like me. Strong women, all, and it was a fun experience. :)

The same weekend was Nicholas' ballet recital. That kid was scheduled to perform 4 TIMES in 2 days, which is a LOT for a kid that age. And he did beautifully, I'm told! Sadly, I wasn't able to see him perform, but I got to peek during the dress rehearsal so I had a good idea what it was like. SO CUTE!

My crazy mother-in-law flew in for the weekend, and man, is THAT a story for another post. Let's just say she's still nuts and I was happy to spend the majority of 2 whole days down at the waterfront, leaving Mr. Chick to deal with her. We made it through, and that's saying a lot.

The last day of school for Nicholas was yesterday - officially a 2nd grader now. Wow - time flies. And so summer begins.... and between swimming lessons, gymnastics, and a couple of half-day summer camps it seems we'll have plenty to do, and yet have plenty of "down" time left intentionally open for play and even boredom. Because that's what summer is all about, right? I'm kicking off summer by starting my training for Hood To Coast, the 197-mile relay I'll be running with Mr. Chick at the end of August. I need to improve both my speed and endurance as I'm only able to go about 3-4 miles now at a mid-9 minute mile pace. I want to be in the 8 min. mile range and able to go 6 miles. I have a couple of months to get there.

So now I'll return to getting ready to host Bunco tonight. Silly, I know - Bunco. But it's a good excuse to get some friends together and it's my turn to host. So I've spent my morning going a little crazy making earrings. I started to make a single pair as the gift to give the person holding the fuzzy dice at the end of the game, but I got on a roll, as I tend to do when it comes to crafts, and made 5 pairs of earrings - all different - for each of the category winners. why not? I just raided my "stash" and had all the materials on hand. No biggie, and it's fun for me to make them. Even if each pair is only worn once, good enough in my book! Next up: making the hot archichoke and bacon dip for snacks, and finishing the frozen peanut butter pie I made last night (just need to "embellish" it with shaved chocolate and crushed nuts). And oh yeah, finish tidying up the house. THAT job never ends, does it?!

Now you're caught up!

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

The C-Word

So Mr. Chick and I were in Las Vegas this past weekend celebrating a decade of marital bliss. We had a really fun time, great weather, a beautiful hotel (really, I recommend the Palazzo if you're headed to Vegas anytime soon! You can find some great deals online since they've only been open a short while. Gorgeous!!) We did lots of sight-seeing (driving and walking style), ate at more than one buffet, partied at a few clubs (memory a bit fuzzy after a certain point in the evening... ) saw a show (Zumanity - a Cirque du Soleil show at New York, New York. Rique in that it's a T&A show in true Vegas style), lounged pool side, shopped, and soaked up lots of time together. Made a few good memories (but you know the saying... what happens in Vegas and all... so I'm not sharing THOSE stories!). It was really nice to get away together and long overdue. The kids were with my sister and her family for one night, and then Mr. Chick's dad drove up to take the kids for a couple of days. We're very lucky to have willing family for these kinds of things. Opa totally did great with the kids and spoiled them rotten in true grandparent fashion. :)

And then reality came crashing down. Hard.

My dad called me last night. It's not good news. He'd had a routine physical several weeks ago and the doctor noted a hard lump on/near his prostate. He was referred to a urologist for further testing. The urologist did a biopsy. It took nearly 2 weeks for them to finally call him with the results - more than a week AFTER they'd told him they'd get back to him. Assholes. And yes, they found cancer. My dad has prostate cancer. I don't know whether to scream or cry. Or both. He's taking it quite well and isn't getting his feathers too ruffled. My mom has been in Cambridge helping move my sister for grad school, so he's completely by himself. He was driving when they finally called to give him the news. Again, assholes. I guess there is some sort of 1 - 5 scale for prostate cancer, with 1 being essentially cancer-free (highly differentiated) and 5 being the worst. My dad is a 3. Top of the bell-curve - most common. Caught fairly early, but he's had it awhile. I guess prostate cancer doesn't move/grow very fast. My mom gets home tomorrow and then they're meeting with the doctor to discuss this whole thing and start reviewing treatment options. My dad is 64.

According to what my dad said the doctors told him, if a man lives long enough he's bound to get prostate cancer. I've heard that, too. Something like by the age of 80-85, 90% of men have or have had it. More men die with it than from it. So it sort of felt inevitable, I suppose, to my dad. He's known several friends/acquaintances who've gone through this already. It sounds like he'll have some options, and some time to fully consider them. There is no huge rush, I'm told. But still - MY DAD HAS CANCER! AAAaaahhhhh!!!

Reality Bites.

PS - I officially "fired" my client last week due to repeated non/late payment issues and have a phone interview with a different company this afternoon. As an employee, not independent contractor. My heart/head is NOT in it and I'll probably blow it. Plus, I'm not sure they fully understand I'm only interested in part-time work. We'll see.

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