Things That Make Me Happy

I just got an iced white chocolate toasted marshmallow breve mocha. Instead of dwelling on the fact that with this one drink I have not only consumed my daily allowance of calories AND regained the 5 pounds I was so proud of losing on the last fire, I'm going to focus on the delicious crunchy Crystals of white chocolate that clog up the straw. The key to a good IWCTMBM is finding a coffee stand that A) has white chocolate POWDER, and B) has a barista that is not too snobby to approach with the intricate directions of proper composition. (i.e. one scoop of white chocolate powder, one splash of toasted marshmallow, two shots 16 oz, extra ice and Most Importantly: UNSTIRRED. That's how you get the crystals. Mmmmmm.) I found just such a coffee stand today in Sisters, Oregon. Sara's Coffee met every requisite and it. Is. Awesome. Never mind the calories. Or the guilt. Maybe I can blame that five pounds on the Pineapple Curry Thai Food I had yesterday instead.

Another thing that makes me happy is jeans. I was back in my jeans for three whole days, and it was heaven. For those of you who have never had the entirely dubious thrill of wearing nomex, maybe the enjoyment of a pair of jeans seems trite. But after several multi-day stints in forest green pants that neither breathe, wear, or look good (well), it is so nice to relocate my actual crotch and quit trying to find a way to pretend that my work pants fit me. Because they don't. At all. It's like every manufacturer of nomex pants conspired against the human race to design the Worst Pants Ever, and when they found out that pleated slacks were already taken, they had to settle for second best: alien shaped cargo pants. I saw somebody that actually fit nomex once, and I'm pretty sure that they WERE, in fact, alien. No human being Actually has an 18 inch crotch. I don't care what you say, not even Ron Jeremy needs this much room. Unless the pants are actually supposed to double as a jumpsuit/unitard. Then I could understand the amount of fabric between crotch and waist. I really could pull the stupid things up over my boobs and just skip the ultra stylish yellow shirt. It's not a bad idea. Someday, a rocket scientist will redesign nomex for actual people. And maybe even in a less 1993 shade of green. But I'm not holding my breathe to see it in this lifetime. I wonder who thought forest green was a really good idea for wild land firefighters. Like "ooh, look how outdoorsy we look!" I wonder if Eddie Bauer was on the design team when they decided denim blue was just too urban for the rugged individualists battling the flames. At least we have yellow shirts, because there are lots of really good reasons to have yellow shirts. For example: ... Oh yeah. Bees like yellow. You attract a lot of bees. And dirty sooty sweat stains are black, which contrasts nicely with yellow. And everyone basically looks good in bright effing yellow. Especially when it turns to grayish vomit colored beigy yellow after a season or two. Next time they decide to revamp wild land wardrobes, can they get Vera Wang or anybody with taste? Even Aspen does better than this. Maybe it's just so I can go home and appreciate my jeans. Lovely, soft, go-anywhere blue jeans. That fit. Or did before my mocha.

On the last fire assignment I got to work three whole shifts with my Favorite Boy Ever. I think some people are surprised that my husband is still the one person in the whole world that I'd rather hang out with than anybody else. Maybe it's just because he's still playing hard to get, and if he didn't have that silly wedding band to say otherwise he would still be denying to the world that we're in a relationship, so I feel like I have a conquest to make still. I think sometimes he likes to forget that he accidentally married me all of a sudden one day last summer, and really wants me to be chasing him still. So I do. Maybe one day I will turn the tables on him and make him chase me. I'll bet if I wear nomex it would drive him wild.

So I was driving home from the last fire and the radio station said to call right then to win a VIP table at a downtown bar for the next Ducks game (which is tonight). Being the easily directed drone that I am, I obeyed and somehow happened to be caller 10, which meant I had 30 seconds to list off three celebrities that had first and last names starting with D's. after about 45 seconds I had come up with Daisy Duck, Donald Duck, and with prompting from the DJ, Daffy Duck. I won the VIP table, though certainly not for originality. As Josh chastised my lack of creativity, I offered him the same challenge, but all he could come up with was Daisy Duke. Of course. SHE doesn't have to wear nomex. Anyway, we got the VIP table tonight, which I will be late for, since apparently I have to work forever. Also: if I get there late enough tonight can I count the calories from the hot wing for tomorrow? I love hot wings.

Things That Are Not Very Fun

I have a cold. Or some sort of sinus thingy that could be from the smoke or it could be from the 1000 germy firefighters that I sleep next to every night. I'm pretty excited that my favorite germy firefighter (namely Josh, lest there was any question) is coming tomorrow to my fire to make me feel better and sleep RIGHT next to me. Unlike the other 999. But for right now, I feel like crap. My right ear is plugged. I even drove up the hill farther to see if I could make it pop when I came back down, but it didn't pop and I just drove through a whole lot more smoke than I needed to. But it was beautiful. In a serene and almost sad way. Fire is like that. Powerful and destructive, but a little bit awe inspiring. I saw a pair of young bucks, but these ones weren't wearing nomex and they had little spikes on their heads. They're in one of the pictures but they're trying to camouflage in the smoke and black. I think they were auditioning for the fall production of The Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest's Wildlife Theatre version of Bambi. (run, Bambi, run!!!)

Yesterday on our fire one of the sawyers died from a heart attack. Apparently he had a history of heart disease, but it doesn't make it much easier when a real person goes up the hill on his own two boots but can't make it back down. I hope he died doing what he loved, not what he had to to get by.

Something like that kinda makes you stop and think. What if I died today? Or what if I lived until 61? That's only 26 years from now. What would I really have wished that I had done? It's so funny, a question like that, because I feel like the answer, generally, is Really anything that brings you happiness, but the things that bring you happiness change so drastically from age to age and season to season. At 15, my dying wish would have been to be clean in the Eyes Of The Lord, and to have kissed a boy, interesting, since the two were mutually exclusive. At 25 my greatest longing would have been to experience absolute carefree independence and no guilt. At 35? It's not too much different, except I enjoy some of my dependence a little more now. But what would I do differently? I can't say I wish I'd worked less, because I honestly feel like I have yet to do my share. I can't say I really crave travel - although I'd like to, I've already been so many places and been allowed so many experiences, that I don't feel like I'm missing that. Maybe I should have spent more time loving on my kids, but really, there's never enough of that so its like wishing you could catch ALL of the stars in your pocket. The one thing I know I haven't done yet is to produce. NOT reproduce. I overdid that already. But to give something - to create something of value to as many people as possible. You know me, I've always loved a big audience. Lately, more and more I feel like this will be in the words I write. I know there's something in there that somebody needs to read - something that changes somebody's day. So that's my new goal. To produce. To be productive. To ease the guilt of my consumption with the offering of value that I know I have within me.

Oh that pervasive guilt. It follows me everywhere like a needy black cocker spaniel. I honestly have yet to meet anybody that wallows in more uncalled for guilt than I do. Really at its core it is self absorption, because I assume every problem in the world is my fault - its so obvious that everything is about me. So then I have guilt for being unfathomably selfish! Is there a cure for this? I've tried repudiating the doctrines of my upbringing, adopting humanistic philosophies and building my self esteem, but I never get much farther than a really cute little huff-and-puff show of empty semantics. The guilt is the only thing that remains.

On a lighter note, Dutch Bros in Wenatchee is giving free coffee to all the firefighters working on our fires. I explained to them that there was like a THOUSAND of them, and those silly baristos were like: "bring it on!" awesome. I do love Dutch Bros. Go there.

I have something to say about tents. Tents should not be round. I started sleeping, one week ago, with my feet at the door of my tent, but somehow my whole sleeping ensemble has been gradually slipping, counterclockwise, around the tent until my head is now at about 3 o'clock. Ridiculous. At least in a rectangle you can just push off the end when you slide down and get all wadded up. In a circle it's like paddling endlessly to regain space, and if you've ever paddled in a mummy bag, it's not easy

Also on my list of fire camp inconveniences: I appreciate that they assigned an ambulance full of questionably certified EMTs to come hang out on my division. Less work for me right? Plus somebody to blame if things go wrong. However, was it necessary to send the EMTs who have loudspeakers and a playlist that consists of nothing by Katy Perry and bagpipes??? I mean really. The Katy Perry was something I could almost choke down for the first hour or two, but after 45 minutes of one bagpipe song that sounded like the gruesome death of a thousand wiener dogs, I became concerned that these EMTs were actually trying to create patients from suicide attempts. Rude.

Maybe I'm just getting old and boring. I like bagpipes. At least when someone dies. Or when they're playing Toxic by Brittney Spears. But 45 minutes of melodyless squartching was too much. I had to turn up my Nicki Minaj and sulk a little.

Actually there is a pop station here that plays mostly terrible music like Owl City and Carly Rae Jepson, but I keep listening because once they played Eminem. I really must like Eminem. Or maybe I'm morbidly curious to see how long it will take my soul to die under such circumstances. In the meantime I need to go do some chair dancing to LMFAO. Wiggle wiggle wiggle wiggle wiggle. Yeah.

Things That Burn

Trees. Bushes. Grass. Houses. Really crappy old camp trailers that double for houses and definitely shouldn't. Rocks. (they do!). Cars.

Wenatchee is full of smoke. I like the smell of smoke. I don't mind an exciting day on the fire line when the hotshot crews are lighting off big sections of forests and it's really amazing to watch, even when the smoke is swirling around and saturating everything in my rig, including sandwiches, medical gear, fig newtons... I don't mind all that. But when smoke has displaced more than 79% of the air we're breathing for several continuous days, it isn't much fun. I tip my hat to the Wenatcheeans who have maintained a (mostly) positive and grateful attitude in spite of the smoke hanging in the air, even inside of their Target Store. That's kind of a surreal sight. A haze of smoke over the cosmetics. I only know because I had to stop there to get Candy Corn M&Ms. Which, incidentally, are weird, but hard to stop tasting.

I'm really grateful for being able to be here, making money. I'm grateful that no one has taken it upon themselves to get seriously hurt, even though some thug in an engine just promised me he was headed out to try. Some people will do anything for attention. I'm thankful that I get to do something that, while from a socio-economic standpoint, is a ginormous, inefficient waste of resources, is also exciting and means I get to see really cool places like Peavine Canyon, where it's cool to live in a gutted rambler trailer as long as you put Christmas lights on it. Or Squilchuck Road, which I think is pretty much the coolest road name EVER. Or Beehive Reservoir, where I can't tell if the water is really translucent grey or that's just the reflection of the smoke. But it's pretty. And I haven't found any beehives. I'd like to stay here for the rest of the fire A) because I have cell coverage, unlike Peavine, and B) because there is a bathroom, of sorts. Not that I am too good to squat in plain view of the Entire World, as I was pretty much forced to do at least 1000 times in godforsaken McDermitt. I don't have much pride left in these areas, but the toilet paper sure is nice. As far as public peeing goes, I have had to adopt the perspective, in certain settings, that if somebody is looking, it serves them right when they see something I am pretty sure nobody wants to see.

Enough about peeing. Let's talk about reading. Fire time is one of the rare opportunities I get to really read. Usually I am good at burning through some literary junk food, Clive Cussler is a favorite. This summer, however, I decided to lean philosophical and brought along Atlas Shrugged. Three fires in and I am finally 3/4 of the way through it. Far enough in to say: it should be required reading, and has somewhat re-established my wavering views on conservative politics. So read it. Not so you can be a conservative, because it's my personal opinion that a lot of conservatives are kind of silly, but because it makes you THINK. And I think that thinking is something that nobody does enough of anymore, liberal or conservative. My goal is to get this book done on this fire, which will cut into my rambling time - but maybe I will have smarter things to say on the other side. In an attempt to not overload my brain, I am balancing Atlas Shrugged with crappy pop music (only between marathons of The Carpenter) and Candy Corn M&Ms. There's a certain irrational feeling that tells me I am somehow burning calories by reading the 1074 page novel, thereby justifying perpetual tasting. Also, I committed to read a book for a book club that I have loosely associated myself with, but feel I should finish AS before I start Tar Baby. So, you're next, Sue. If I can figure out a way to get my copy delivered to me here. My favorite would be if my super awesome mr mom hubby could come join me on this fire with my new book in hand and we could spend the next ten days making copious amounts of money and hanging out together. Because I miss him. And my crazy kids. But I think the fire would actually charge me if my kids showed up here. Except for Natalee, who would probably have the entire medical unit, supply cache, and inmate kitchen organized in the first hour after she arrived.

Speaking of inmate kitchen - a peculiarity of Washington DNR fires is the kitchens that are run entirely by convicts from State Prisons. Somehow it is socially counterintuitive to feel comfortable having a bunch of felons cooking your food, but they do a pretty good job. My biggest complaint is that these kitchens have always come equipped with tables that you have to STAND at to eat. They hit just above your waist, and truth be told, there nothing more unappetizing than watching 800 dirty firefighters dropping food from their mouths to the ground and table, as somehow the extra inches of travel via fork make perfect aim impossible. I suppose this methodology saves money on food for lost appetites, people too tired to stand and eat, and the rush it makes you feel in to get done and move on. I can't help but feel like its very similar to a soup line of the depression, filthy bums shuffling through, exhausted, defeated, and ultimately insulted by no offer of seating for a decent meal. While we're going about wasting boatloads of money on bottled water and Gatorade that does as much damage as good, maybe we could get some freaking chairs? I dunno. Just a thought.

Things That Make Money

this is what I do in the woods: suspend IV bags from sticks and hang out with silly boys
I am leaving for a forest fire up in Wenatchee. This will probably result in a two week silence from me, but if it works out, I will find ways to speak from fire camp. In the meantime, I will be making enough money to finance my woman-of-leisure lifestyle when I return.

Things That Are Ridiculous

Holy cow. You know, I was looking for a mostly plan-less weekend last weekend, one where the kids are playing gleefully in the yard while Josh bar-b-ques in a manly fashion and I spend most of the sunny day in a hammock. For some reason, however, we came up with this great idea: see, Josh had just a little bit of work to finish at his jobsite to be ready to paint on Monday morning, and I felt a little guilty since I had distracted him from his work by making him take me to lunch (in Prineville) to meet our buddy John. So I suggested he take the girls with him to help, since he was demoing a deck and they would be good haulers (hahahahahahahaah). ANYWAY.... these little glimpses of Terrible Teenage started showing in all three of the biggers, and I could see the writing on the wall. I volunteered myself for the work party when I began to realize that if there was no mediation, some one would probably NOT be coming back from the Mountain High neighborhood on Saturday. Since they've already had their share of murder/suicides on that street in recent months (that will be another story), I felt it best to offer my mediation skills. This may have been the fatal flaw in my weekend planning.

It was all coming together nicely - Actually, it was coming APART nicely, since we were tearing out a deck - until something set Nattie off. Whether it was the black widow nests on the beams from the underside of the deck, or the slippery mud in the flower beds that they had to tromp through, or the weight of the soggy 2x6es that were being hauled through the muddy flower beds, we may never know. My personal theory is that the socio-emotional cumulative stress of the first week of school combined with staying up until 1 AM watching H2O (this show is a socio-emotional stress in and of itself), did her in. But at any rate, Nattie snapped. Now, for those of you that know Nattie, you know what this means. Nattie is the child that learned that climbing stairs was a bad idea only after she took a header from the top at 22 months. Spankings, reprimands, lectures - none of these have ever borne any weight for the petite blond that is, in the words of all of her teachers, an ideal child. Nattie, in addition to her will of steel, wrote the book on The Human Temper. Being her mother, and primary disciplinarian, I have to admit, she terrifies me. I once sprained my wrist just trying to keep her from throwing her skull into the wall of the bathtub. Of course she was doing this to avoid a spanking that would have hurt much less than bashing her head on bathroom fixtures, but for Nattie, it's all about who's idea it is. So last Saturday, Nattie snapped. It started off with minor fuming, under-her-breath cussing and dramatic huffs-and-puffs indicating her displeasure with her tasks. The lure of a $5 reward + Cuppa Yo did nothing to dissuade her from her downward spiral, but then it got Really Nasty. I asked Nattie to help Aspen carry a piece of lattice that was twice her size to the trash pile. I knew it was a bad idea before I finished pointing, but once it had been issued, I had no choice but to back the order up. With some carefully placed grunts and sighs, Nattie found an ideal moment to "accidentally" drop the lattice on Aspen, and as it grated down her bare legs (goodmom FAIL - always wear long pants for construction demo, especially if you are 8), the shrieking started. Aspen is a tough kid, especially for a girl. Her boy cousins can cry circles around her, and everybody knows if Aspen makes a deal out of it, it's a DEAL. She was crying. Full-on, hold-you-breath, passing-out, crying. There were big, bloodyish scrapes down both of her thighs all the way to her knees, where apparently the lattice got bored with tormenting her and fell to the ground.

Nattie INSTANTLY threw her hands in the air and starting screaming about the accidental nature of her transgression, and running wildly across the yard to escape her apparently imminent retribution. Picture, if you will, a serene, wooded neighborhood, of sprawling ranch style homes and large open yards, all decorated with the ceramic cats and cement fairies that somehow become intensely appealing upon retirement. Mountain View is peopled largely by upper-middle class retirees from everywhere except central Oregon. While the clients that Josh works for in this neighborhood are some of the nicest Californians you would ever care to meet, their neighbor must have come of age in the wealthiest district of Fairbanks, Alaska, where entitlement and Seasonal Affective Disorder come crashing together in a miserable existence. She is not a nice person, and really likes to make sure Everybody Knows It. Her favorite complaint, however is about any noise. Especially noise in the morning. Like the kind of noise that Natalee was generating at a galloping pace. As quickly as I could I herded the screaming demon into the cab of the truck, where she proceeded to thrash around wildly, projecting about her impending death, which was apparently going to be inflicted by me. Natalee spent most of the rest of the morning in the truck, and I would like to establish, for the record, that I did not lose it with her. I'll admit the thought of duck taping her mouth and hands flashed through my mind, I reflected on those stories you read in the news about parents who do crap like that and since I would rather garnish fame in other ways,  I discarded the notion.

Somehow we all survived the morning, in spite of Kizzie being Bored Beyond Belief, and Aspen bouncing mindlessly through piles of old boards with rusty nail-spikes just begging to skewer her foot. We are working on that whole awareness thing. We had a robust reward of Taco Bell and Cuppa Yo (under 6 oz - which is No Small Feat) and went home, where Josh and I had a nap. Really a nap is a great way to avoid doling out well deserved sanctions on misbehaving kids, like Halle who had woken us up at 5 AM looking for a pair of shorts that I was supposed to have exchanged for her (this was the latest in a long stream of how-to-make-your-parents-despair-moves on her part).

I am writing this as I am on hold with the medical clinic to cancel appointments for sports physicals that apparently, the older girls didn't even need, but let me panic about for weeks. I can never understand a 15 minute wait time to cancel an appointment. I should have just gone to the appointment, it would have taken less time! But at least the wait music is a really terrible tropical sounding interpretation of "land down under", which will make the rest of the day seem awesome, once I am set free.

Things That are Fun

Yesterday I got to go to a music festival. I know that this casts a bad shadow on my disavowment of music snobbery, since most music festival attendees are either music snobs, rich retirees, or preppy college kids who are still bankrolled by their upperclass parents, but I really got to go only because my professional concert attendee friend payed for my day pass. (and she ROCKS). It was the Sister's Folk Festival, a much anticipated conflagration of trustafarians and hipsters from the Valley who descend on little Sisters en masse to absorb the eclectic mix of bluegrass, jazz, singer-songwriter americana, some of which can only claim the most distant of relations to folk music, whatsoever.

The SFF has been sold out for weeks, quite an accomplishment in this economic environment, until you consider that the maximum capacity of all 5 venues combined probably isn't more than 2000. I was very excited that my friend was able to conjure up a Sunday pass for me, and this was only due to the fact that another friend had bought one and wasn't able to make it. I had to buy indulgences to go and play with the Whoa! Sisters in Sisters by going to church with the family. I think it gives my Lovely Husband a glimpse of the decorum and ritual that a Well-Behaved family would exhibit regularly, when we go to church. Except he always forget about Halle's question asking and the pile of 37 handouts that Nattie accumulates and decorates for her "notes", and Kizzie's fashion "accidents" that bring the youth group boys to our row in droves. I mostly agree to go because they have free coffee, and it's pretty good. Really, me going to church at all is somewhat of a huge concession since it's hard for me to take most organized religion seriously and not despise it. But if we go, we've been going to this place called Journey. It's pretty good, and mostly, I think the people are genuine, which does a lot for me. That and the coffee.

Anyway, after church I headed out to the SFF, dutifully leaving behind pants, as per Whoa! Sister requirements. I got there just after their free community service which is sort of a gospel-universalist church thingy, and that is just as well since they DO NOT have free coffee. I found my Whoa! Sisters, all of whom are Very Excellent Individuals, and we commenced to doing what you do at Music Festivals: eating and wandering. We bounced from venue to venue in an attempt to catch a bit of as many artists as we could, as well as not disturb the rest of the audience with our chatting and gushing about food, but as Whoa! Sister Sailor Ang pointed out, this is really what most music festivals are about. I am not sure which I would rather discuss, the food or the music, but I think I might have enjoyed both equally.

We caught tidbits of Abigail Washburn - a singer songwriter who lived in china and writes and sings chinese lyrics and bluegrass songs with a definitely chinese influence. Interesting and beautiful. The girls kept telling me about some band: blah blah blah and the hi-beams, with enough regularity that I thought that was their actual name. Upon further investigation, Halden Wofford and The Hi-Beams were a fun dance band - Sailor Ang even made me polka - and who can go wrong covering Sixteen Tons, right? If you're in a melancholy mood, check out Gregory Alan Isakov. Great style, a little mournful for the strawberry rhubarb pie that Ang found. The best part and Primary Reason for going, other than, obviously, seeing the Whoa! Sisters, was Pokey LaFarge and The South City Three. This band is fun. And talented. Check them out.

There is so much more to tell you about the rest of this weekend but I don't have time right now... so check back later.

Things That Make Me Mad

<<<This is how I left the house yesterday afternoon. Apparently, when I forget to eat, I also forget to check my feet when I slid a random pair of flip flops on to run errands. Let me explain this: I have been sick for a week or so, kind of running-a-feverish, achy-all-over, not-sure-why kind of sick. One of the most awesome side effects of this bug or whatever it is, is that I've had almost no appetite. I would love to brag about how this has revealed itself in a new svelte figure, but for now I will be happy with the 3 lbs I have lost, mostly due to copious amounts of fluid loss through sweat. Anyway, since I haven't been feeling good, haven't been eating right, I have had a few run ins with low blood sugar and general retardation. Two days ago I poured a scoop of dog food right into the garbage can instead of into the bowl of the innocently waiting cocker spaniel right next to it. I actually popped the lid on the trash can open and poured in a perfectly good scoop of perfectly expensive, boutique kibble. The worst part about this incident was that my Concerned Husband was standing right there to witness it, so it wasn't like I could pretend it didn't happen or something. It was awkward. But he got an even better laugh when we pulled up to the post office yesterday and I realized my footwear faux pax. Clingly fiercly to my ever dwindling supply of pride, I refused to go into the post office, which meant he had to ship my packages, thereby witnessing the atrocious cost of postage that I, like a sucker, insist on paying to ship Scentsy and other goodies to family members. He promptly informed me that I had just shipped myself out of a prime rib dinner that night. Dangit. I could have really used that protein. For the record, Timber's East  here in Bend has Prime Rib on Thursday nights for $9.95, and it's delicious. Look for a rave review of their happy hour in my upcoming Happy Hour Report. 

One of the things that keeps me functioning up to the level of an average 5th grader on days that I am not sick is my regular consumption of multi vitamins. I noticed when I ran out of supplements for two weeks that I got way dumber. I take prenatal vitamins, and do quite well on the ones that Costco has. I don't remember the brand but I am too lazy to run downstairs and look. I have been told by several doctors that most women of childbearing age (can't I be done with that now?) should be taking prenatals. I know I like how I feel when I am taking them, but it doesn't help with the weird guilt/shame ordeal every time I have to buy them. I know I am not pregnant. My man knows I am not pregnant. But I assume that every stranger that sees me in possession of a gallon sized bottle of prenatal vitamins, along with my burgeoning, bloated mid-section, smiles in knowing approval. No! I am not glowing. Stop it! The poor cashier at Costco can't even get out a "how are you today?" before I am blurting: "mostdoctorssaythatallwomenofchildbearingageshouldtakethesevitamins!!!!" defensively. Awkward. Should I go on to explain that I am not pregnant? Do they wonder? Oh lord, I am making Josh get them next time. This is worse than Tampons. At least with Tampons everyone KNOWS you are not pregnant. Maybe next time I will buy both at the same time. That will confuse them. 

So about things that make me mad, in addition to wearing a flip flop combination in public that even embarrassed Aspen, having to publicly disavow my gestational status, and stabbing myself under the fingernail with a staple hiding in my purse, I had to get up this morning Extra Early (which is a severe punishment for anyone who knows me) to take Nattie to her sports physical to get her into Cross Country today. After spending an hour and a half talking about Gardasil and Puberty and Freezing off Warts, I delivered her proudly back to middle school with her paperwork, only to be told I missed the registration window and there was no way she was running Cross Country. But she was gone with her dad all summer! This was the soonest physical she could get! I couldn't turn in the paperwork without a physical! She ran last year! All of my cries fell on the mean, deaf ears of cranky, third-day-of-school office staff who were elated to have a power trip over an unsuspecting, hypoglycemic mother. I could have cried. I probably should have. Or pulled out my gallon of prenatal vitamins and popped a couple like anti-anxiety meds. Dangit. Why didn't I think of that earlier? I left a very tense-sounding message for the Cross Country coach, begging for mercy and drawing on the affection that all of the coaches have for my little running star. But if they remain staunch, I might be calling for signatures on a petition to overthrow the office staff at PBMS. In the meantime, I wallow in the guilt of bad motherhood, knowing I should have tried to squeeze a physical into the three days she was here in July, or tried harder or done SOMETHING about it. I need a vitamin. 

Things That (cool) Moms Listen To

On September 11, which is an unfortunate day in the US for anything happy to occur, something very happy does occur. The Avett Brother's release their second studio album, The Carpenter. Contrary to the popular but misguided opinion that I am a music snob, I have no idea what differentiates a studio album from a non-studio album, other than some big shot named Rick Rubin, who worked with even bigger shots like Madonna and stuff, produced it. None of that impresses me nearly as much as the album itself, which I have been streaming almost constantly since it was put up on NPR's first listen ((listen here). In my absolutely untrained but highly subjective opinion, this album is awesome. My favorite track is called February 7, and in my mind it speaks to the second chances that we would all be proverbially screwed without. I like that this album has horns, and so does my Eclectic Man. The album still speaks plenty of banjo, which is my favorite sound in the world, but I also really love that Joe Kwon's cello really feels like it comes of age in these songs. My (true music snob) cousin has always said that he felt Joe didn't quite fit, or at least his cello didn't. My cousin also wears sweat bands and considers beards the status symbol of hipster ideology, so I feel safe in calling his critique into question.

But as to the idea that I am a music snob, I must confess a deep rooted weakness for mainstream trash, especially from the 80s and 90s, that would make my indie friends blush. I mean, would a real music snob tear up watching the infomercial for Power Ballads of the 90s? I think not. At this point the hipsters and indie music snobs are becoming so mainstream that my cousin's Hall & Oates fetish is actually more of an indie movement. (You have to admit, Brent, the girls aren't lining up at the door.) My studly guy wisely hid his proclivity for 80s hair music from me until AFTER the nuptials, and I will never admit to him that I secretly adore it. Unfortunately he reads this blog, so now I need to find a new superiority complex to develop.

So let me talk about my favorite music, the good, the bad, the indie.

It's hard for me to really categorize my musical preferences. It's kind of like food preferences for me: yes - I prefer it. All.

Anyone who knows me even slightly has been exposed to my slightly embarrassing groupieism for The Avett Brothers. I would be more ashamed except I really believe that they are THAT GOOD. As artists and as people. As much as My Boy expects me to leave him any second for Scott Avett, the day that man gets a divorce is the day I quit listening to their music and face the reality of Total Disillusionment. I have even talked to their dad, about child rearing, no less, and how to get around the harsh realities of parenting fails. Jim Avett seems like a kind soul. And makes great music as well. But enough about them. In chasing TAB around the country, I have discovered a handful of other great bands that you may or may not have heard of, depending on how cool you are. At the top of this list is Langhorne Slim and The Law (Langhorne's Website), Sally Ford and the Sound Outside (Sallie Ford), Sasparilla, Lone Madrone, Thao and The Get Down Stay Down, and probably more that I don't remember. As The Avett Brothers began to circulate, bands with that banjo-ridden americana sound all started surfacing in my consciousness. Great bands like Old Crow Medicine Show, Mumford and Sons (incidentally not American at all), Dawes, Blind Pilot, Blitzen Trapper, Trampled by Turtles... and then I started to cross over to other cool "indie" music like Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, The Black Keys, The Decemberists, and recently The Lumineers, Fun, the Mynabirds (I'm really throwing them in because I got to ride on a shuttle to Pickathon with them)(and they're good) and many many more. If you have any questions about these bands, I probably can't help you, but I can try!

Truth be told however, I spent the entire day today listening to a stream of 90s pop hits. Nothing gets to me quite like some good Ace of Base or Spindoctors. Wow. FLASHBACK. And speaking of flashbacks - this has nothing whatsover to do with music, but if you grew up in the 90s you obviously knew about Revlon's Outrageous Shampoo, which smelled exactly like you imagined dating would feel, if you were a homeschooled teenager. Anyway, it's not available in the US anymore, but I just found it on eBay, and it smells the exact same. I'd still like to know if dating feels that way. Outrageous on eBay Wow. That was a rabbit trail. Spindoctors and Outrageous. It's like oreos and milk.

I have quite a bit more to say about music, but can't remember any of it right now, so check back for more. After you listen to The Carpenter 37 times.

Things That Moms Wear

A few months ago I had an epiphany: I am no longer a teenager. How it took me 15 years to come to terms with this fact is a question of some embarrassment, especially in consideration of my wardrobe for the last decade or so. I feel like, if you are 35 and your 15 year old daughter with questionably skanky taste Really Wants to Wear your clothes, maybe you're doing something wrong. I have a couple of Life Events that I can thank for this glorious, if overdue, revelation. The first was the accidental acquisition of 30 pounds that I didn't really notice until they were all hanging off of me suddenly. The second was a series of photos taken by innocent bystanders, including my adorable husband, that captured the, ahem, larger me in such fashion that I quickly eradicated every hint that they had ever existed. The thought process that stampeded through my head when I saw these photos was something like: "who is that fat girl in my picture and why is she wearing my shirt oh my god is that me what the heck happened I want to die."

I have slowly, painfully, ever since, been going through my embarrassingly excessive (but all bargain-acquired!!!) wardrobe and carefully picking out the pieces that Clearly Do Not Belong in the closet of a 35 year old mother of four carrying 30 extra pounds. I probably started with the MINI skirt. I use all caps because there isn't an alphabet case called microscopic, and I needed to demonstrate the extremity of the mini-ness. It was inappropriate. Really, it was inappropriate for anyone, except maybe a 22 year old hooker. I guess she could get away with it. I think it really dawned on me when I saw another mid-thirties mother of some, who clearly hadn't had The Epiphany yet, wearing a similar strip of fabric, and I was horrified by what was hanging out the backside. I was fairly certain I checked and double checked my hindquarters before I went into public, but knowing the harsh reality of my hindquarters, I realize I couldn't have looked much better.

As I mull over the loss of some of My Favorite Things, including lingeriesque tank tops that are almost not skanky on a 120 lb girl with an A cup bosom, and shorts that long ago were swallowed by the squishy fat between my thighs and just look Plain Old Bad, I guess I am ready to progress to the next stage. I have always observed, in my lofty manner, that some people seem to graduate from high school , or college, and forever remain entrapped in the Ultimate Style Trend of That Specific Year. It's actually quite comical. "Let me guess: 1995? Yep. Oh, grunge wasn't in or anything was it? Nice flannel. I also like your doc martens. They never go out of style." Let's see, what else doesn't go out of style? Penny Loafers? Pleated Slacks? Hmmmm....

So one of these days I will say something that is Entirely About Jeans, because they really deserve their own conversation, being the Single Most Important Part of my (and every other real person's) wardrobe. But today is really just an overview of how I am learning What Not to Wear.

Let's start at the top:

1. Hats. Nevermind. Skip to shirts. (my opinion on hats is strongly contradicted by voting members of this blog  - namely the husband, and therefore will be omitted)

look how much my butterfly sleeves are irritating the lady behind me. 
1. Shirts: Before we cover shirts (literally?) we'd better briefly gloss over the beautiful building block that sets us apart from the hippies of yesteryear who set the standard for sag and nipple exposure. Now, I know that Gretchen Wilson can wear walmart (refuse to capitalize) bras and still look sexy. I, on the other hand, look like a cheese sandwich that got melted in the sun and is oozing out all four sides of the bread when I put one on. I wear Victoria's Secret Bras. Have for years. I have lots of friends who can't find a VS bra they like, and honey, let me tell you, we are all shaped so weirdly (thank you, kids), that it's a wonder any of us can find anything that works. I have finally given up on the fantasy that some random, adorable bra I see online will make me look like Giselle Bundchen, no matter how many times I get sized by those jerks at Victoria's Secret Stores that keep exaggerating my measurements just to make themselves feel skinnier. I have miraculously found one or two Really Cute (by my husband's estimation) bras on sale from the Very Sexy, Sexy Little Things, Dream Angels, Pink, and other fun and flirty lines. But mostly, when I find something that Works, I work it to death. Currently, I will rarely be found emancipated from the Body By Victoria Racer Back Demi Bra (see it here). I love this bra. It's sturdy (required), comfortable (necessary), cute (also crucial) and almost flattering. I should share that last year I had another uncomfortable epiphany: I realized that I couldn't get away from side boob fat entirely because I am fat. Or I have fat. Under my arms. That will not squish into my bra and be written off as graceful endowment regardless of my contortionism. But this bra really does well, considering. I know a racer back poses a problem for some of us who have old fashioned ideas about bra straps showing (mom, you know who you are), but I LOVE that my straps don't fall down, and that the very noticeable weight from my somewhat recently acquired D cup (curses) isn't bearing down on my structurally challenged distal shoulder area. Try it. Or don't. The non racer back alternative is the demi (here) that is also cute and comfy (a little more "side boob", but again, I'm beyond helping that). Ok, enough about that painful subject.

1. (b) Shirts: most of what I have learned about flattering shirts I learned from my mom, who learned from my dad, when he accidentally told her that he liked her shirts with longer sleeves "way better" than her other ones, in a gentle hint that arm flab is for grandkids to play with, not for showing off. While I disagree that my mom really has arm flab to flaunt (brownie points anyone???),  I will contend that certain sleeve styles can do a lot to play up or play down some of these delicate, ahem, curves. For example, you will never catch me dead in butterfly sleeves. again. I am hopelessly addicted to tank tops. Partially because things with sleeves and necklines choke me, and partially because I like to imagine I look like Angelina Jolie in Tomb Raider. This is a fantasy that I choose not to expose to reality. Some people really look bad in tank tops. Like most men. I don't have a huge distaste for arm fat, but I know lots of friends who do, and apparently, my dad. I vote for short sleeves, cap sleeves that don't peak off the shoulder like Star Trek shoulder pads, and tank tops. I am not a fan of 3/4 length sleeves. They fall under my WHY? category, along with capri pants and booties. Just wear long or short. Or if you must, roll them a little. And make up your mind between boots and shoes. Really. I will offer up that my tank top fetish will be the next level of relinquishment to age. Unless my fitness routine finally starts to pay off and I actually do trend Joliesque. Another requisite for tops is length. Obviously there is some crossover on this issue with the rise of certain pants, but by and large, most shirts should be able to readily compensate for the lowest of low pants - think: loading 46lb bag of dog food on bottom rack of grocery cart squat crack. Get longer shirts. 35 year old cheeks hanging out are not pretty. Ask my kids. As for necklines, if you are claustrophobic like me, you might find it hard to find a balance between hithisismycleavage and choking to death. I really like boat necks for this. And I like V necks too, especially the ones that make me feel buxom. I have sworn off of that sheer burnout fabric since I discovered the thing it does best is demurely allude to the generous rolls of fat I have accumulated pretty much every where. I really like cotton with just enough spandex in it to mildly suppress the worst of the jiggling. Button downs definitely have their place, unless they have 3/4 length sleeves. And never, ever, ever button the top button. I don't care what Bill Gothard says. Also, I have moved away from brandishing company names across my chest like I am a billboard for Hollister. I mean, it's ok if your 15 and you really need people to know that you've been to a Hollister to establish street cred, but at 35, you're just admitting that you shop the clearance racks and try to squish into junior sized clothing.

2. Pants: First of all, there are some schools of thought that would consider throwing out this category altogether, and it isn't just my high school alma mater. I would contend that it is not worthwhile to spend much time on any pants that aren't jeans, because unless they are sweat pants they probably aren't worth wearing, and sweatpants will fall under the "leisure wear" discussion which will be held at a different time. And since we're covering jeans elsewhere as well, we can skip this whole category. Lord knows we won't touch panties. But for the record, I am STRONGLY opposed to thongs [not the shoe kind, mom]. They just aren't right. Ok, I have a pair or two. Hold on, a thong isn't a pair, is it? It's a singular. But why is a pair of panties a pair? Is it just fabric amount determined? Weird. Anyway, I have a thong or two, but only for Huge Emergencies, like that tight dress I probably shouldn't be wearing anyway, (don't read this mom) or because my husband needs me to wear them (ok you can read again), or those horrible slacks without pockets that probably no one should be wearing. NEXT SUBJECT

3. Skirts/Dresses: Obviously these go in the same category because they both go on hangers. I don't have much to say on this subject, being a wanna-be tomboy who got all of my dress wearing out of the way in the 10th grade, however, in addition to my MINI skirt revelations, I have always been away that ruffles and tiers don't do my backside any favors. When I was young and thin, I got lots of attention for my "substantial" bootie. Now It's just a big B**T (we don't say that). I am all about straight or aline styles, gathers and flounces I reserve for my 8 year old. I won't pretend I don't have a couple of ultra-comfortable empire-waisted sundresses that make me look 8 months pregnant (I like to play up on that for better seating in public), but lets just pretend that those ones "never go out of style". Like penny loafers.

4. Shoes: Two words: Flip Flops. I mean, ask my darling husband, how can you go wrong? Thin pieces of rubber that do nothing to support, protect or really even decorate your feet. They are the ultimate go-to footwear. Truthfully, I love flip flops, year round, with everything. Because I am That Cool. For those of us who struggle with the need to make more of a fashion statement, I will again restate my aversion to booties - WHY? But I will toss in to the "never out of style" consideration category the ever  popular Converse All Star. What? Yes, I did graduate in the mid nineties. I am a big fan of ballet flats, cowboy boots and one pair of multi-purpose heels. As this discussion originated on the propriety of motherly dress, I should mention a modern youthful trend: Toms. Get some. Every time I think that maybe I am too old for Toms, I put them on again. And it's ok. If you are a 35 year-old mother of 4 with 30 extra pounds, DO NOT pair said Toms with skinny jeans and a hipster t shirt. It will not be as cute as that 14 year old you saw doing it. I promise.

In conclusion - even though I haven't skimmed the controversial areas of accessories, hosiery, lounge wear and the All Important Hoodie, I have to say that the constant evolution of my closet is a study in anthropology if ever there was one. Now that you have had the first taste of my highly evolved fashion opinion, and conformed your views accordingly, I invite you to share your wins and insights with me. Mostly because I have No Idea What to Wear.

favorite places to shop: Urban OutfittersThe BuckleGoodwilleBay

Things That Smell Good

Let me start with a disclaimer: I am a Scentsy Consultant. Maybe that's more of a shameful confession than a disclaimer. I am a horrible salesperson, just ask my husband. The whole idea of selling Scentsy was mostly just to pay for a tragic habit that I had formulated after my BFF introduced me to the divine smells several years ago. These little squares of messy wax transformed my chronically dirty house into a celestial palace, if you closed your eyes and just inhaled. After moving (many times) I realized that I was ordering all of my mess-masking smells online from a consultant I didn't talk to, and there was probably a cheaper way to do it. Enter the brilliant idea to become my own consultant. Realizing I had no friends here in Bend, there was a glimmer of an idea that maybe selling this redemptive stuff would make me instantly popular. As one of my long distance buddies pointed out, selling anything really isn't the best way to make friends, but I was really looking for an excuse to throw a great party. So I signed up, got all my cool demo stuff, scheduled a party and invited EVERY person I knew, local or not. It was Christmas time, so I went all out. $200 of food and drink and new decorations, prizes - the whole schlemiel. One person came. A neighbor. We drank all of the wine, plus a very dangerous concoction of assorted liquors. Between her kids and mine we pretty much ate all of the food, and needless to say, she won the prizes. It was fun, other than being sick for three days afterward, but I didn't sell a single splotch of smelly divinity.

Fast forward 8 months. I decide to have another go. For whatever reason, Scentsy is still calling me a consultant, which would be totally absurd except for my own personal orders have kept me just above the minimum required sales - the beauty of being a consultant is that I get 20% back off my own orders... One of the very weak justifications that I have been using on my Ever Tolerant Man. So my new and pretty much only friend Desi and I put together a party. I had introduced Desi to the money pit of Scentsy when I gave her one of my demo warmers for her birthday and made her smell every single sample scent I had. She was instantly drawn into the cult. We invited over 100 people to our party. This time, being disillusioned, I decided to spend most of the party money on booze, since if no one showed up, at least we would have fun. (Actually that isn't even true, since we used left over wedding wine :)) This time, Desi's sister-in-law showed up, along with 4 of her work friends. It was a smashing success, even though I didn't know any of them. 

Anyway.... all of this was the preface to what I really planned on saying. I like Scentsy. While I am a consultant, I know that there are many questions and controversies about the stuff and would like to lend you my totally biased and unfounded opinions. Let me break it down: (does that sound like I am listening to early 90s rap? Because I am.)

1. Smell: I love Scentsy's baked smells: Cutie Pie Cupcake, Sugar Cookie, Happy Birthday = YUM. I have developed a theory that if my house smells like a cupcake that I will not need to eat one, and 37% of the time, this rings true. That plays out as 37% less cupcakes consumed, so ultimately I win, right? I have yet to find someone who can't find some scent that they Absolutely Love. My sister likes Love Story, as do many friends. I like to mix smells, like Luscious Lemon and Cutie Pie Cupcake. 

2. Lasting Power: My biggest complaint about Scentsy smells would be the longevity. I did some research, and am currently conducting my own in-house study on which flavors or styles last the longest. Feedback online indicated that the spicy smells (cinnamon, clove, ginger) and some of the citrus smells seemed to last longest. It makes sense then, that my favorite of the Scentsy Man (is that kind of oxymoronic?) smells, Hemingway, has always seemed to last longer than my other fragrances, as it is kind of clovy and exotic. 

3. Availability: Another complaint I would have is scent availability, as it seems like just when I figure out what my Favorite Smell of All Time is, they don't have it anymore. This is usually circumvented by a biannual (?) Bring Back By Bar sale, where they have a limited production of popular discontinued bars, or by finding a similar concoction. Being that all sales are online, and I am too poor a salesman to order the newest demos, you're kind of shooting in the dark when you order blindly. But for me, that's part of the excitement of opening a box of Scentsy. (which, by the way, I am expecting any minute!)

4. Cost: I don't love the cost of Scentsy. I feel like it is a tad overpriced, and to be honest, I will only buy the stuff on sale, which isn't hard. I hope that as the company grows, we will continue to see a decrease in overall cost, but I am not holding my breath. It really is a luxury item, and as much as I love it, if things got tight for us, it would be one of the first corners I cut. My solution to this : stockpile. The downfall to that solution? See #2. Lasting Power - the bars lose potency with long term storage. Luckily, for you all, this is another in-house test I am conducting, since my stockpile is well underway and I won't use all of this stuff for a very long time. So stay tuned. 

5. Maintenance: Let me say this one thing: DO NOT DO WHAT I DO. I couldn't find specific Scentsy recommendations for how long you should leave your warmer turned on, but other consultants recommend thinking of it like a lamp: you have it on when you are there, using it, otherwise, it is off. I, on the other hand, leave mine on 24/7, which (here's another in-house study bonus tibit for you), a) makes your scent last a shorter time (see #2), and b) eventually kind of burns in a crispy wax residue that is hard to clean off. When I figure out how, I will let you know. I am lazy. This is no secret and should come as no surprise to anyone who knows me. When I change the wax, I do not pour it into the original container to let it harden. I know good and well that I would forget to pop it out and throw it away and then try to reuse it, wondering why my smells are smell-less! I do what you are NOT supposed to do and pour the hot wax onto a paper towel directly into the garbage can. I do not recommend this, but will continue to do it. Because I am lazy. I have a billion little Scentsy spatulas for cleaning the residue (note: this does NOT work on crispy burned wax scum), out of the dish. If you want one I will give it to you. Just find me. I probably have the messiest Scentsy warmers of any consultant alive. But they do clean easily and beautifully on the outside with a paper towel when they are warm.

6. Mess: Closely related to maintenance is dealing with the inevitable (unless you are over 40 and live alone with no cats, dogs, or loud music) wax spills and drips and slops. The beautiful thing about wax is that when it cools and hardens, it scrapes easily off of most surfaces. Unless that surface is unfinished wood. Perhaps it's needless to say that my antique dresser now has a smooth wax finish. Also: dyed waxes might scrape up, but if the colors absorb into, oh, say, caulk, or grout, etc, well, you'd better like pink. Or green. My plan is to avoid non-neutral colored waxes in the future. Which will be hard since Happy Birthday is Peptol Bismol pink. I will be working on solutions for this problem, as will my adorable and clever husband. Again, stay tuned. 

7. Safety: My husband, ever the safety expert (no really, he is a paramedic/firefighter, and I used to think he was exaggerating how much safety research he does, but he actually does), told me he read about a Scentsy related fire back east. I totally believe him, and have been extra conscientious about making sure to leave dirty clothes and junk mail piled in places other than right next to the Scentsy warmers. I did some research myself (this is usually to try to prove him wrong, but always fails), and did read a couple of stories about possible connections, as well as the results of Scentsy's own safety investigations into related events, and some independent tests performed with warmers. With newspapers wrapped around the warmer, and fabric draped over it, the temperature of these objects never reached 100 degrees, far from flammability levels. Again, I take, and recommend taking every precaution - well, ok, I don't always turn them off when I am not around, but I plan to start doing that! But I do keep flammable objects away from all of my warmers. It's just smarter. Not to mention when those warmers get bumped and slop wax, it's a son of a gun to clean up. 

Ok, so that's my 7 scents (hahaha) on Scentsy. I love the stuff, but believe it has it's downfalls. If you can live with them (I can), then it's totally worth feeling like you have a gloriously beautiful clean house, even if you really have pink wax in your grout and haven't vacuumed in days. 

Shameless plug: if you shop at my website , my husband will like me better. 

Feel free to fire away with any questions and I will make up an answer for you! email: Bendability

Search This Blog