A Tattoo Story

I believe I promised a tattoo picture!  I believe one Facebook friend even said, “No pictures, it didn’t happen.”

Let’s fix that, shall we?  It definitely happened.

Even our feet look like twins.

It took us awhile to agree on an appropriate representation of our relationship, but once we hit on it, we knew.

The music is the line, “There were never such devoted sisters.”  Remember that one?  White Christmas?  Rosemary Clooney and [dubbed] Vera Ellen?  Yep.  It’s our song.  Okay, one of our songs.

The initials were Heather’s idea – she has the ‘A’ I sign in my name, and I have her handwritten ‘H’.

I can’t wait for flip-flop season.  Oh, wait, that’s right!  I get to show it off in Hawaii later this month.  (If it sounds like I’m bragging…you’re quite astute.  I’m sorry.  Mostly.)

Tattoo counts: Heather – 3, Aimee – 2.  For now.  You’ve heard tattooing is addictive?  You’ve heard correctly…

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So, January’s Almost Over

Happy New Year!

It’s still January, I can legitimately say that.  I think.

Lessons I have learned this month:

There are people who come into your life with very, very important information.  You need to listen to them.  Sometimes, that is the only reason you cross their path.  Then?  You need to let them go, with huge thanks and a firm good-bye.  If you cannot do this on your own, employ family and friends to help.

Petting dogs can spread poison ivy and poison oak.  (Okay, I already knew this one from experience, but several years’ distance can cause forgetfulness.)

Prednisone makes me HUNGRY.  When I am HUNGRY, I will bake.  Spice cake, anyone?  (Kidding – I’m not really in the mood to share.)

Tubing. Is. Fun.

Nicky will probably need braces, too. (SIGH…)

I can make yarn!

Watching a fictional character die of a traumatic episode you have experienced is, unsurprisingly, traumatic.

When you are spacey enough to leave your anniversary band in the dressing room of Sears’ Lands End department, there just might be enough honest people in the world that when you call in a panic, they will have it waiting for you to pick up.  People are inherently good.

There is an awful lot of cool stuff to do in Hawaii, and trying some of it is going to be a nice change from foggy, rainy February in Seattle.

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Autumn Wrap-Up

Oh, my poor, dear, neglected bloggy friends.  It’s become a thing this year, my not blogging.  Not at all how I want it.

However, the longer I don’t blog, the harder it is to come back and share, because how could I possibly update you all on everything?  Well, like this I guess.  Bullet-point style.  (I’ll try my best not to be overly verbose, but come on.  We all know me better than that.)

*Last night, I finished the annual family calendar.  I began this tradition for 2010, when we had moved across country, away from all the family, as a way to have our (mostly the kids’) smiling faces in the grandparents’ homes.  I’ve continued it, because we all love it.  I send a copy to my sister, to Jason’s parents, and to my parents, and we have one on our kitchen wall.  Jason even hangs one in his office at work, where it apparently gets all sorts of compliments.  It’s fun.  The cover always looks something like this.

There you go, 2013 in a nutshell.

*In early November, I took a weekend to visit my sister in L.A.  We don’t get nearly enough time together, much less alone time together.  It was a blast, even if she was way sick.

Artsy. The photo that launched a thousand, “Are you twins?” Facebook comments.  Short answer — no, we’re not.

We hung out at her Georgia Bar (The bar where all the UGA alums watch the UGA games.  I even cheered for the Dawgs – this is how much I love my sister.), watched movies, and got tattoos.  Yes, matching sister tattoos!!  SO awesome.  Neither of us were tattoo virgins, but these ones were a bit more painful.  Top of the foot = ouch.

I can’t believe it, but I don’t have a good photo of our finished tattoos.  I know we took one, but it’s neither on my phone nor on my camera’s SD card.  I’ll see if we can get another one when she’s here for Christmas next week.

I’m such a tease.

*Oh, I also got to meet Gretchen and Elizabeth while I was down Cali Way!

Grainy cell phone pic!  AWESOME ladies.

Gretchen took me on a whirlwind tour of Hollywood.  Sort of an insiders thing.  (Not really, but it’s fun to say.)  We drove up to the Hollywood Sign (as close as one can get), past large homes, to the Griffith Observatory, and met Elizabeth for lunch at a (and I am quoting here) “trendy L.A. lunch spot.”  Total Hollywood tourist treatment, and I loved every moment of it, but mostly because we all like to TALK.  It was fabulous.  Chatty, chatty, chatty.  I want them both to come to Seattle for a weekend.  We’ll end up with sore throats from talking ceaselessly, and it will be wonderful.

*In September, I rowed in the Race For the Cure.  I believe I talked about it.  Well, get this – we medaled!  Sure, we probably had an edge, as the only boat in the novice race containing people who had been rowing a month too long to be considered novices, but the rules confused us.  Anyway, we worked hard, we dressed cute, and we worked very, very hard.  (It’s worth mentioning twice.)

See? Totally cute.  And a medal!

*I also rowed at Tail of the Lake in October, this time in the appropriate category.  Therefore, I did not come home with a medal.  It will be quite a long time before I earn another one, as I am up against some incredibly strong, talented, women.  I am 100% okay with that.  I just want to row and race.

*Nicky made Junior All-State Band!  The ONLY kid from his middle school to do so, and he’s only a 7th grader.  Can you say Proud Parents?  Kiddo deserves it.  The best part?  He was totally unimpressed.  Forgot to tell us about making it for four days.  FOUR. Days.  He goes in February.

*Jason’s parents are coming for Christmas!  They’ll be here in three days.  I am so excited to see them, and my house is completely unprepared.  I think I’ve passed stressing about it.  It will get done.  Or partially, anyway.  Either way, we get to spend a week with them.

*Jason and I saw Wicked at the Paramount Theater in Seattle for his birthday.  It was fabulous.  (No surprise!)  It’s been his favorite musical for years, but we had never seen it.  (He has the soundtrack memorized.)  In other musical news, LES MIS IS IN THEATERS NEXT WEEK!  I am slightly, just a tad, looking forward to it.

*Life has been happening.  Piano lessons.  Trumpet lessons.  Kalen took a few drum lessons.  Rowing, working out, eating too much.  Laundry, dishes.  Church choir (we sang Britten’s A Ceremony of Carols yesterday – whoa.).  LIFE.  It’s busy; it’s good.

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Mama Bear Roars

Please forgive the self-focused, I-ness of this post.  I’m still processing, and I have to get it out.  I had no words for my grief all day, but it poured out when I sat down here…

The suggestion to “hold your kids a little closer tonight” has never been one that really hits home with me.  I’ve heard it dozens of times.  When a child is diagnosed with – or lost to – cancer.  When there’s an accident.  A violent act.  I’ve always thought, “Yes, I appreciate my healthy kiddos,” and I’ve kissed them and hugged them and gone on my way.  I’ve worked hard, especially as they’ve gotten older and I’ve begun to recognize how fast this childhood business goes from a parent’s point of view, to remember [almost] every day how lucky we are, so the suggestion of a little bit of “extra” love never much affected me.

Twelve-and-a-half years I’ve been doing this mothering thing, and today it hit home.

When the news came out of Connecticut this morning, the internal keening began.  My soul wailed.  My stomach turned inside out.  My chest hurt.  And I had to physically press my legs into the ground in front of the sofa to stop myself from jumping up to race to the elementary school and envelop the office staff, principal, Kalen’s lovely teacher, and all the sweet nine-and-ten-year-old babies in his class in hugs and tears.

I spent the day doing – visiting the chiropractor, grocery shopping – in between sobs and gasps.  I’m sorry to say I’d grown painfully accustomed to shootings in our country.  In temples, malls, even schools.  I remember the victims, I question what could have been done to make the gunmen feel less unloved, less hopeless…and I move on.

I suppose we’ll all move on this time, too, but it certainly doesn’t feel like it now.  It’s the gut-wrenching, nauseating, heart-crushing kind of emotional pain that stops a person in her tracks.

Right now, I’m waiting for Jason to arrive home from work, and after dinner, we’ll sit down and talk about this with the boys.  For now, they’re blissfully ignorant, laughing and scheming to beat a level on Lego Lord of the Rings.  I don’t want to take that away from them, but if I don’t, someone else – the media, a classmate, an adult having a conversation near them in public – will, and that’s not okay.

So, yes, hug your babies tonight, and say a little prayer of comfort for those who cannot, and for the families of the teachers and staff in that lovely little Connecticut town, too.  And for yourself, too.

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It’s the Most Spookified Time of the Year

I could have said it’s the most wonderful time of the year, but do we really need a Halloween versus Christmas battle on my blog?  I think not.

Still.  Halloween!  FUN!!

We’ve been dressing up.  A lot.  So much, in fact, that I may just plop my witch’s hat on my head tonight and call it good.

He is NOT the grim reaper. He is OBVIOUSLY a demon executioner. Duh.

Last Friday night, the Very Large Company For Which Jason Works hosted its annual trick or treat time for the kids.  Due to previously-mentioned releases, and related heightened security, not as many buildings were decorated or open for the kiddos, but they had fun going around where they could and collecting sugar.

Meow. Which is scarier – cat with claws or ninja?

We saw some great costumes.  My personal favorite was the little girl in an inflatable Violet Beauregard As a Blueberry costume.  Seriously!

Before the smoky eyes & other assorted make-up. Sadly, this is the best photo of me from that night.  Scary.

Saturday evening, we attended a Halloween party, the boys in their same costumes, and Jason and I as witch and wizard.  We got to know people – very nice people.  It was fun.  Also? More great costumes.

Blurry, but notable, pile of costumes that are so large on me I can’t wear them – WOOT!

Sunday morning, costumes were encouraged at church, for obvious reasons.  (Well, obvious if  you know the origins of costume-wearing at Halloween, and if you know Unitarian Universalist churches.  So, yeah.  Totally obvious.)  I went back to the cat ears and make-up.

I went through a lot of eyeliner last weekend.

Random adorable pumpkin-choosing photo!

And, tonight?  Oh, right.  Tonight is the actual Halloween.  We are, per usual, making chili (it is simmering on the stove) and driving to some friends’ house to share in their trick-or-treating.  (Hauling said pot o’ chili with us.)  We invited ourselves, having found last year to be a near dud for the sport in our neighborhood.  We saw no one else out trick-or-treating.  Sad!

Tomorrow?  All Saints Day, I suppose.  I prefer to call it All Sisters Day, as I’ll be hopping a flight to So Cal to see my sister!  (And, while she’s working, meet up with a blogger or two, too.)

Be safe tonight, and if you’re in the Sandy-affected areas, I hope you find a fun way to celebrate amid the stress.

Happy Halloween!

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While He Was Out

Let’s pick up where we left off, shall we?

Last month, Jason left home early on a Thursday morning.  He had a 6am flight to join his uncles and cousins in St. Louis for a golf weekend.  It was a well-deserved break and a chance to catch his breath before the big push on various releases at work.  (One of which I am using to create this post right now.  Hello, Surface!)

While he played all that weekend, I decided to work.  I’ve always wished someone would pull a “While You Were Out” on me, so I did the next best thing: I pulled one on my husband, and now we have a lovely master bathroom.

I couldn’t achieve everything I’d want to, had it been under ideal circumstances (i.e., unlimited budget) — the old linoleum and ugly countertop are still there, I don’t have the electrical expertise to install an exhaust fan, and I couldn’t quite find a way to enlarge the room and install a bathtub.  Still, for the first time since buying the house, we walk into that bathroom and smile at what we see.  I don’t mind not being able to soak in the evening quite so much, now there are pretty curtains greeting me as I step out of the shower.

So, over the course of four days, I shopped, washed walls, removed caulk, recaulked, painted, primed, painted more, shopped more, made the aforementioned curtains, and (get this) changed out the light switch.  By myself.  My first foray into the electrical trade, and it was a great success.  (Yes, before you ask, I did turn the electricity off at the breaker.  Why does everyone who hears about this feel the need to ask such a silly question?)

 

Somehow, I even managed to be a semi-decent parent during all the hubbub, too.  If semi-decent includes a trip for frozen yogurt, which, I believe, in my kids’ eyes, it certainly does.  Perhaps even decent.  Or spectacular.

 

The wall color was chosen to coordinate with the paint color we’ve chosen for the master bedroom, and the cabinet color to coordinate with the curtains and wall color.  The very first things I bought were the cobalt cabinet knobs – Jason’s favorite color.  I’ve finally decided to go with instinct and do blue and green throughout the whole house. Why fight favorite colors?  Blue for Jason, green for me.

 

While the light switch was my proudest achievement, the artwork in the room is a particular point of pride, too.

 

It’s our song.

Jason loves it and was completely surprised.  And, with that, finally, nineteen months after moving in, we can call one room finished.

(Well, finished-ish.  I still want that bathtub someday.)

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Hey, Look! I’m Using a Pen!

[I'll admit, I've thought about doing this before, but I never 'got around to it.'

*Blogging by hand.* I finally saw it done today at Geek Mom.  Cool.  And now you can see my handwriting.  (Any graphologists out there?)

When I was in elementary school, the only 'C' I ever got was in handwriting.  It drove me nuts, bu there was seemingly nothing I could do about it.  I suspect now that it's related to the Sensory Processing Disorder.

Happily I type at well over 80wpm, so my handwriting isn't as important as it used to be.

People whose handwriting I envy:

*My sister
*My bestest friend

Both Heathers have lovely penmanship.

All of my high school & college notes were filled with doodles.  I think and receive/process info best when my hands are occupied...writing, doodling, knitting.

So, do you write by hand anymore?  I kind of miss it...especially old-fashioned letters.  If you could write a letter to anyone, who would it be?

<3,
Aimee] 

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Nailed It

Hi guys.

I could say I’ve been busy, and I have.  A bit.  But more?  I’ve been uninspired.  Not feeling it.

I’m a bit jealous of the creative writing class Mom is taking, and it occurred to me today, maybe I should look for one to take, too?  I love writing.  I want to improve my writing.  A class would therefore make sense, no?  So now I think I will look around.

I do have a golf lesson scheduled for tomorrow.  Random, right?  I’m excited.  Jason came back from a golf weekend with his uncles and some cousins last week and declared that we were finally going to start golfing.  I could only laugh, as I’ve been suggesting it for years.  The difference between the two of us, however, is that I have a lesson scheduled, and he doesn’t.  Okay, that’s only part of the difference.  The other part is that he is naturally good at stuff like this (i.e., new physical skills), and I feel unprepared and unskilled and embarrassed until I am shown the “proper form and technique.”  An impostor among professionals, even.  I’ll be fine after a few lessons.  (Not good at the game…just not embarrassed on the course.)

Um, insert witty segue here.

After rowing today, a teammate complimented me on my nails and asked how I keep them looking so pretty.  Hers, she shared, are horrible.  So, I shared, are mine, which is why I use this as a base coat.  The manicures seem to last a day or so longer when I do.  Bonus!  I go through phases a couple of times each year where I keep them painted for a few weeks, and they look wonderful, but it doesn’t last.  I wonder how long I can make this bout last?  it’s been two-and-a-half weeks.

 Kalen chose this week’s color. The boys like Bright and Sparkly Things.

I have lots about which to tell you.  I have raced in two regattas since last we chatted, and I’ve completed a nice little makeover on one room in the house.  (Think small.)  There has also been knitting and reading and such.  Somehow, I’ve managed to find myself on the PTSA board again.  There is in-public singing for the first time since college.

And, of course, laundry.  When isn’t there laundry?

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In the Pink

{Could I BE any more corny with my post titles?}

As of tomorrow, I will have worked out five days in one week for the first time in months.  Woo hoo!  Go, me!

That’s right, fall rowing season has begun.  (Can I get a whoop for new blisters??  Love ‘em!  No seriously, they make me feel so industrious as they harden into callouses.)   Last fall, I raced once, at the end of the season.  This year, we’re jumping in with all 18 feet and going for it right out of the gate.  With head races.  Fall is head race season, much like it’s cross country season in the running world.  Spring is for rowing sprints and running around a track.

Head races range in distance from 4k to 10k meters.  Runners who regularly race 5k and 10k races will shrug at this…but I promise, it is difficult.  I don’t discount the difficulty of running – heck, I don’t run, because it’s hard, you guys, and it hurts.  But rowing?  Yeah, it’s awfully hard, in a totally different way.

This Sunday?  Row For the Cure.  Yes “The” Cure.  I, along with my teammates, am going pink.

 Wearing these in our hair during the race – too bad it’s not all the way to San Fran.  Or maybe it’s not too bad.  That’s a realllly long row.

Some of you know my mixed feelings about the foundation benefited by this cause.  Gosh, not about breast cancer itself.  I have family and friends who have fought…who ARE FIGHTING…breast cancer.  I hate breast cancer.  I get how important it is.  What I have a problem with is the marketing machine that has monopolized corporate giving toward this cause, to the detriment of many other, equally worthy causes.

I want breast cancer’s ass kicked, yes I do.  I really, really do, I promise.  However.  I also want to find cures for every other cancer and preeclampsia and epilepsy and Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s and diabetes and a thousand other diseases and conditions.  It’s endlessly frustrating when approaching companies for sponsorship or support for one of these “other” causes to hear, time and time again, “Oh, I’m sorry, we already support breast cancer charities.”  Period.  Goodbye.  I’ve heard that response a dozen times.

So, anyway, that’s off my chest.  Phew.  I feel better.

To get ready for this, I’ve been working.  Hard.  We all have.  5,500 meters is a long race for all of us in the boat.  The only person who will have raced a head race before Sunday is the coxswain, and while she has an important and difficult job, she’s not doing the physical bit.  That leaves all eight rowers as newbies to this aspect of the sport.  We’ve had a couple of off-day special practices, including this morning.

It’s going well.  It’s all good.  I’m only a little nervous.  I am choosing to push hard and sweat a lot and ignore the nerves.  (And the mixed feelings.  The mix had been nixed!)  (I do apologize for that.  I like rhymes.)

AND, because it’s a lot of hard work, AND because I want to kick breast cancer’s ass, I am embracing the pink of it all.  Not as much as these ladies, but still.  There are pink t-shirts, and flowers, and pink ribbon cheek temporary tattoos…and maybe more!  We will be PINK as PINK can be! (Minus the flamingos.)

If you are so inclined, here is our club’s fundraising site.  (Thanks!)  100% of the proceeds from Row For the Cure go toward local breast cancer support programs and breast cancer research.  This is from the Seattle Row For the Cure’s website:

Planned Parenthood endorses the event!

“We are delighted to endorse Seattle’s Row for the Cure, an event that raises important funds for breast health in our community. Keep up the good work,” says Christine Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, a longtime grantee of funds raised by Seattle’s Row for the Cure.

Since 2000, the event has raised over $500,000 for the Puget Sound Affiliate of the Susan G. Komen for the Cure, who then carefully awards the money to local organizations that provide underserved women with breast health education, as well as cancer screening and support.

“Recent government cutbacks and a drop-off in the Komen Race for the Cure donations make fundraising events like Row for the Cure critical to meeting the needs of low income and underserved women. This is why we appreciate Planned Parenthood’s endorsement of Row for the Cure. With everyone pulling together, we can make a real difference,” says Cheryl Shaw, Executive Director of Komen Puget Sound.

I like that.  I like it a lot.

So, to sum up: Lots and lots of working and sweating leading to Sunday’s “quick” race…and lots and lots of money raised for a very good cause.  And – bonus! – the weather’s going to be beautimous.

Second Blooming
“Exercise”

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Yes, We Can!

Ooh, please don’t worry; this isn’t a political post!

Unless, that is, you find plums political.

150 pounds of plums.  A Super PAC of plums?  A plethora?  Whatever you call it, it’s a lot of fruit.

Plum pickers.  (i.e., cheap labor.)

We have a single Italian Prune Plum tree in our front yard, and we spent last Sunday giving it our undivided attention.  Jason and I spent a couple of hours on it, and the boys even climbed the branches to help us reach some of the fruit.

We never did get the stuff up on the very highest branches, but I feel okay about that.  The squirrels are loving it, and after not realizing what we had last year (and therefore letting it all rot on the tree – gasp!), at least we took advantage of most of it this time around.

Yes, to the tune of one-hundred-fifty pounds.  Geez.

Bags and bags and bags of plums!

What followed this past week made me feel a lot like Bubba, of Forrest Gump fame.  We made plum chutney and plum sauce and plum pie and plum bread.  We pitted plums and chopped plums and sliced plums and boiled plums and canned plums and froze plums.  We gave bags of plums out to family, neighbors, teachers, office workers, therapists, coworkers, principals, and the exterminator.

My fingernails have been purple.

I feel so accomplished!

 Holiday presents – done!

It was a very successful week.  I had only one failure, when I tried to double a batch of plum preserves and burned the whole pot.  (Lesson learned!)  Our house smelled like a very large, burned marshmallow for about thirty-six hours.  I was more annoyed with myself than upset.

Soon to be a sticky, candied catastrophe.

Okay, in all honesty, I was too tired to be upset.  This was Monday night, after a full day of chopping, cooking, and canning.  I was simply glad at that point that Jason was home to help me clean up the burned, sticky mess.

A huge shout out to Mom, and thanks for all her help with the chopping, slicing and canning.  (And for taking one of the big bags off our hands and into her own kitchen!)

And for the four pounds of peaches, which today made it into jars as Spicy Peach BBQ Sauce.

Next…I’m thinking squash pickles…I figure, since I’m on a roll, why not keep going?

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