I kinda hate the month of April

It’s been one of the busiest beginnings of spring for us ever. Every weekend something major has been going on. We’ve had tons of people (adults, teens, babies) coming and going for various reasons. There’s been so much going on I’ve lost track of some of it, but I’ll try to summarize:

  1. We spring cleaned our house top to bottom (you can’t tell now though..) 😦 and caught up on most of the laundry.
  2. We drove to Cascade Locks for Sarah’s baby shower/meet ‘n greet (she makes adorable babies!).
  3. Kevin and a bunch of his friends tried to go camping at the beginning of spring break, for the first time on their own. They got rained out and we had to rescue them.
  4. The weather has sucked. Rain, wind, hail, wind, rain, more rain, more wind, hail… and more wind. With a few brief sun breaks thrown into the mix. It’s just sucked. I just wanted to rant about that. 😀
  5. Jason visited from Japan and brought along his wife and new baby. They stayed at our house for a few days before flying back to Japan.
    Jason and Mayumi
  6. Cody celebrated his 9th birthday.
    Cody's Birthday 011
  7. We celebrated Easter.
    Easter
  8. Melissa’s cheerleading practices have started. We’ve also enrolled her in a separate cheer tumbling class once a week to hone her skills. By the 18th, she’ll be practicing 3 days a week, plus the tumbling class. (Lil Miss H. will start gymnastics tomorrow, fortunately at the same place and time Sissa has cheer tumbling.)
  9. Casey has been busy too! He made the honor roll again. His first year of junior high and he’s made the honor roll every semester so far. We couldn’t be prouder.
  10. Kevin’s about to graduate high school!!! His senior prom is coming up, his choir tour is coming up, and his choir state competition is coming up.
  11. Jack and I have been chauffeur to most of these events, including whatever store trips, rental shops, etc. was needed to prepare for these events.

There’s a few more photos here.

This is the FIRST weekend in many weeks that we have nothing on our plate. Nada. I’m going to sit home and do nothing and enjoy the heck out of it. Because it’s going to get busy again soon.

Next on the plate is figuring out to do with another THING. This time it’s not in my boobs though. This one is on my ovary. I didn’t post here (because it was on Facebook) but one morning in mid-January I woke up in some of the worst pain ever. Jack forced me to go to the hospital and I talked him into taking me to the clinic instead. They refused to see me though because I was too distressed. They offered to take me by ambulance across the street to the ER (haha — no.. we drove).

Long story short, after a bunch of tests were done (and wonderful pain killers were administered) they found a 3.5 cm cyst on my ovary and determined this to be the cause of the pain. I was sent home that afternoon on bed rest until I wasn’t feeling pain anymore, and instructions to come back for an ultrasound six weeks later to see if the cyst dissolved. Well, it didn’t. And it’s not a “simple cyst” or “functional cyst” either. They don’t know what it is. It hasn’t gotten any bigger, but it’s not smaller either. Why it caused pain that one day and not much since? Who knows. I know it’s there. I do have pain from it from time to time but it’s mild.. not like the OMG I’M DYING pain that day in January. So it’s probably going to have to come out. I’m really not looking forward to it.

Why do these things always happen to me in the spring?? Gall bladder surgery? April of 2003. Boob issues? April of last year. Even my mom’s horrible car accident was in the spring (April). I’m beginning to hate the month of April. Or maybe the month of April hates me?

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Door to Door Part III

A couple of years ago I wrote about some interesting situations regarding door to door salespeople. I wrote about how some are kinda stupid, I wrote about how some are kinda scary (Part I), and how some are downright psychotic (Part II).

I don’t remember if I ever wrote about the time we were almost suckered into buying $14,000 windows? If I did I can’t find that post. So the short story version is, at our previous house we had aluminum windows and we were caught in the right mood by some door to door window salesmen who wanted to sell us triple-paned windows and promised to save 60% off our heating and cooling costs the first month, or they’d pay our electricity bill for a year. They also offered us a $100 gift card for a local gas station and I figured it was worth sitting through a presentation for that alone, and besides, the deal they had sounded pretty awesome. So, we sat through the extremely pushy THREE HOUR presentation. We even got to bang on their sample windows with rocks to see for ourselves how unbreakable they were. We were so impressed we wrote them a check for $100 for ‘good faith’ and signed our life away. It wasn’t until the next day that I got an extreme case of buyer’s remorse and went into full panic mode: we just agreed to pay over 14 THOUSAND dollars … for windows. Stupid much?

I called our electric company and asked them about the windows, and if they heard of this company and if they thought new windows would really knock 60% off our bill. She laughed. It was a kind, sympathetic laugh, but still, she laughed. I felt pretty darn stupid. She explained that we don’t live in Alaska and don’t need triple-paned windows, and they can agree to pay our bill for a year because they are charging us about 11 grand over what it should cost to replace our windows. We canceled the deal and got our check back, pronto. (We got to keep the $100 gas card.)

So in a nutshell, between that experience, and others (including falling for a scam involving a “poor, broke student trying to go on a school trip so buy this magazine subscription” we never got), I’m pretty against door to door salesman. I just can’t trust them!

It’s spring. And apparently spring means the door to door salesmen come out of the woodwork. Yesterday morning this guy knocked on my door:
Eric Doyle, puppet master from Heroes

No really. It was HIM! OK, fine if it wasn’t actually Eric Doyle, the puppet master from Heroes, it was his twin brother! He was dressed in a 70’s brown suit, and holding a pamphlet that said, “JESUS LOVES YOU”. I could see all this through the blinds in the window that faces the porch. I chose not to open the door.

Do you blame me? PUPPET MASTER from Heroes? SCARY!

I just pretended no one was home and as soon as he walked away I locked our security screen.

Yesterday while I was out with Melissa, Jack said some random guy wanting to sell us steaks came by. This isn’t a new one. We’ve had these guys come by before. I just LOL because seriously? Who’s going to accept RAW MEAT from some random stranger who knocks on your door? Well, obviously some people do or the steak guys wouldn’t be around still. To those people, I just bow to your braveness.

This morning my doorbell rings (sending my three rabid Cujo dogs into a frenzy) and when I peeked through the windows, it was some guy with a clipboard. This immediately reminds me of the time an insurance guy came knocking (with a clipboard) and I told him NOT INTERESTED and shut the door in his face, only to hear him say through the door, “but ma’am? I’m not a salesperson, I need to ask you about a car break-in that happened to your neighbor”.

I was so embarrassed.

Danny Devito

So today I opened the door to the guy with the clipboard, and it’s another heavy-set bald guy, but this one looked more like Danny Devito than Eric Doyle the puppet master from Heroes. Unfortunately he wasn’t here to talk about car break-ins. He wanted to talk about my finances. LeSigh. I LOL’d at him then shut the door. I know, I’m mean. But I can’t help it. He did look like Danny Devito, though!

That really should be the end of this post. But it’s not. I wish it was, but.. it’s not. Because you’re not going to believe who rang my doorbell only 3 minutes after my beloved, adorable, and oh-so-vulnerable children got off the school bus today.

Charles "Chuckie" Crandall Finster

That’s right, Charles “Chuckie” Crandall Finster, the non-cartoon, grown-up, seemingly stoned and turned surfer-dude version rang my doorbell. (Seriously? CHUCKIE? From The Rugrats??)

And he had a clipboard.

DAMN THE CLIPBOARDS.

He muttered, “aw, hi ma’am. Ah am in the NAY–ber-hood… and like… we are having this totally tubular (he really said ‘awesome’) deal on new windows… and uh, like, I was just wondering… ”

I don’t know what he said after that. Cause I LOL’d again and exclaimed “NOT INTERESTED” and shut the door IN HIS FACE.

Then I threw up my hands and demanded to know why FOUR! FOUR solicitors have been at my house in two days?!

It’s definitely time to get that “NO SOLICITORS” sign–dripping with blood for added effect–hung up on our house with a picture of my three rabid cujo dogs.

And clipboards be damned: I’m not falling for it anymore.

Go Team!!

Last week Melissa spent four days trying out for her upcoming high school’s cheerleading team (she’ll be a freshman next year). There were three days of three hour practices with one day off for her to stay home and practice on her own. She worked hard all four days and made the team! She’s very very excited. As am I. She’s so cute. She told me tonight that this was a moment she’s been waiting for all her life. Ah to be young and 14… 🙂

Her soon-to-be high school has the best cheerleading program in our portion of the state and for more than half the years the school has been in existence (11 years) they’ve been state champions. They’ve won several national championships as well. Currently there is no other school in our state that has as many big wins. So this is very very exciting for her and a huge opportunity.

Here’s a little blast from the past video (to make up for the yucky bathroom pictures yesterday) of Melissa cheering after a one day camp her older sister’s high school did for the young girls (2008):

Congratulations, Sissa!

The one with the flood

Tuesday night last week Cody came running up to me around 3 PM to inform me something “really bad is going on upstairs” and to come quick. I get upstairs and the bathroom is flooding … from the overflowing toilet Lil Miss decided to NOT tell me about. Lots of screaming for towels from anyone who could move ensued. Unfortunately that included a friend Melissa had over for the first time ever. Yes, I made her run and grab towels too. She also got to hear some choice words come out of my mouth. It was definitely a proud moment in my life. (That’s sarcasm in case you’re wondering). I had to take her home early and apologize to her parents. Fortunately they were understanding.

It was a gross, disgusting, stinky mess. To say the least.

The worst part was after getting all the water sopped up, the floor squished like a sponge UNDER the hardwood floor. I knew right away the day to finally get around to redecorating the “seizure room” had come, whether I wanted it to or not.

I call it the seizure room because the colors in that bathroom were seizure-inducing. The previous owners painted it dark pea soup green. Ceiling and all. It wouldn’t be so bad but the bathroom is on the small side and I thought everyone knew you don’t paint small rooms dark colors, especially the ceiling too! So it basically had a walls-are-closing-in-on-you effect. To make it worse, the vanity was bright turquoise. Bright turquoise and dark pea soup green do NOT mix! Especially in a small bathroom. What were they thinking??

So I’ve always wanted to paint it. And since we had to rip out the floor, and the toilet, and remove the vanity temporarily, now was the time.

Upstairs Bathroom

Here you can kinda see what I’m talking about. The floor was hardwood. The tiles you see in the above picture is what was underneath the hardwood (you can see one section of hardwood left). At least the old flooring made the vanity make sense… they matched. But why are the walls dark pea soup green? WHY?? (The toilet in the bathtub makes me giggle. We are replacing the toilet by the way since it’s part of the problem…)

Jack came home and he and Cody promptly set about tearing up the floor.

bathroom floor being ripped up

The damage went all the way to the base floor. Fortunately it was OK but the subflooring, the layer of old vinyl, and the hardwood had to go. It was a stinky mess. On top of that, whoever built this house didn’t seal anything at all. There was NOTHING to stop any sort of water damage. As such, the flooding caused water damage to the ceiling in our office and lord knows where else in the void. 😦

Friday night Jack’s brother and father came over and helped him put the new flooring in. They were at it till after midnight! Instead of cheap press board subfloor like what was there originally, Jack went with a thicker, stronger plywood. And fake “hardwood” over that. One large piece of vinyl that looks like hardwood but will be much more water resistant. Surprisingly, it’s very realistic looking. And everything is sealed properly against future water damage. It’s the kid’s bathroom so you know there’s going to be water on the floor!

new bathroom floor

The white area there is what’s behind the vanity… and yes there’s water damage there too from when Kevin flooded the sink.. At least that was just water. But it dripped down into the office then too. Our poor office!!!

Since we had the vanity and the toilet out and the new floor in, we (mostly I) set out to painting but only after a full day of applying primer. LOTS and LOTS of primer. I chose a light green to compliment the vanity since we can’t really afford to replace it and there’s nothing technically wrong with the vanity. It’s just got a turquoise counter-top. The bathroom will have an ocean theme. I have fishy wall hangings and Finding Nemo wall stickers (it IS the kids bathroom after all).

Unless you really hate fish and/or the ocean, it shouldn’t induce seizures anymore. I’ll post pictures when it’s done.

P.S. The title idea is from Friends.

Kevin in tights

Last night Kevin’s high school choir held a benefit concert to help raise money. It was hilariously fun. Kevin emceed the entire thing along with his friend, Dany.

Here’s a sample of some of the hilarity: Men in Tights I did not record this video. I did get pictures, though!

Like this one:
Choir Benefit Concert 056

Yes, that’s my 18 year old son in tights.

Here’s a sample of him and Dany emceeing the concert. (I did shoot this video.) One of the mics was having unexpected issues (it was cutting out, likely due to a short) so instead of allowing it to throw them or annoy them, they found as much humor in it as they could and it only added to their performances as emcees. I was proud!

They also did a Star Wars parody that cracked us up. A little factoid: all the props used in this performance came from our family. From the storm trooper helmet to the blasters, all ours. Even the Chewbacca on the one boy’s back… came from Kayla. 🙂

It was a great night!

Now, Jack and I are off to celebrate my birthday at the coast. A weekend away, just the two of us. We only get to do this twice a year. And it’s always a much needed break!

What were we thinking??

Have you ever had a moment where you stop, take stock of your life, then wonder what the HELL you were thinking?

Today I counted. I counted how many lives Jack and I are responsible for and I damn near had a panic attack.

We have eight kids. EIGHT KIDS. The mere thought of us having eight kids is enough to give unsuspecting people a massive heart attack.

But it doesn’t stop there.

We have three dogs, two cats, 6 fish, and a hamster.

When you add it all up:

8 – kids
3 – dogs
2 – cats
6 – fish
1 – hamster

… that’s 20 living creatures we’re responsible for. Except… wait. I forgot to count ourselves. We need to take care of ourselves too! So that is…. 22. TWENTY-TWO!

Some might think the fish don’t count… since they just swim around all day in a tank. But that’s not true! You have to clean the tank regularly, check and maintain the ph, the nitrite, nitrate, and ammonia levels and treat accordingly, feed them, etc. It’s more work than you think! And the hamster? Technically that’s Sissa’s job to care for but ultimately we’re still responsible.

I’ve never really stopped and counted just how many we’re responsible for. And when I did it today (I have no idea why….) I instantly understood why I get overwhelmed sometimes. TWENTY TWO.

I have zero regrets. NONE. Don’t get me wrong. It’s just such a large number and I couldn’t help wonder just what the hell we were thinking?! I don’t think I’m going to be so hard on myself the next time I feel bad about getting overwhelmed.

I love each all 22 of us and wouldn’t trade any of it for the world. But still.

TWENTY TWO!!!

2009 Recap

I really can’t believe what a blur 2009 was. Every year I think, ‘this is the year things will slow down’ and all it does is speed up. I guess the older you get the faster time flies. I wish I had known this when I was younger and quit being in such a dang hurry to get older! 😉

Here’s a 2009 recap with some Christmas, Birthday, and Mia (who’s doing great, btw and did NOT come down with Parvo!!!) pictures thrown in for fun.

Way too cute!

January: We purchased a new camera and I’ve bombarded this site with photos since. I’d like to think I’m getting better at taking good photos at least. 🙂 This was the month I also revealed how obsessed my kids have become with nerf dart guns. Kayla finished and came home from her internship at Disneyland.

FebruaryMarch: I (Tracie) turned 29 AGAIN. For the 11th time. Imagine that? We spent a beautiful weekend at Lincoln City, OR for my birthday. Cody turned 8 in March. I didn’t report much else in February or March and now it seems to be a blur. I really must post more often! If for nothing else, so I can remember what the heck happened throughout the blur of each passing year.

Um.. is it REALLY for ME?

April: I remember April without even having to look at the archives. April was the month that I discovered Thing #1. While having Thing #1 investigated, the docs found Thing #2. April was the month my poor poked, prodded, dyed, cut open, accessorized, and even burned boobies will never forget! April was pretty much all about my boobs. How fun! Except, not. April was also intense for other reasons (court hearings related to Lil Miss H’s adoption) that was supposed to but didn’t happen and a crap load of phone calls and drama related to that.

May: This was the month we bought our Suburban and spent the first of THREE weekends at Cathy’s house. How cool is it that we got to go to Trout Lake three times this year? And technically we went for a few hours one other time and to BZ on Christmas Eve too. That’s five trips east of Hood River this year to see Cathy and family. Maybe we can shoot for even more in 2010?? My mom also took me to see the American Idols live in concert which was pretty fun. I also remember complaining a lot about medical bills this month.

Ooooh. Aaaaah.

June: Ahhh June. How could I forget E. Coli June? June was the month I gorged myself on ate a little too much cookie dough and will never forget it. (Remember the whole cookie dough recall thing?) Technically I don’t know for sure that I got E. Coli but I know I got damn sick and that’s just too much coincidence. I rarely even eat cookie dough. Kat turned 18 and got her GED. I went with Lil Miss’ kindergarten class to the Oregon Zoo and I got a lot of laundry done.

July: was memorable for the record breaking heat. 108 degrees was just way too freakin’ hot! It was the month we camped downstairs by air conditioners, and spent money we didn’t have to buy more air conditioners. Oi. We had our annual Fourth of July party and had a blast! Casey turned 11. I also did a lot of laundry.

It was like a snuggie party!

August: Jack and I celebrated our 15th year together and our 10th wedding anniversary in gorgeous Seaside, Oregon; the same place we honeymooned. Someone ran over our mailbox kiosk, we spend insane amounts of money we didn’t have on school supplies and clothes for the kids, and I did a lot of laundry. I’m sensing a theme here.

September: was all about Pearl Jam! Well, not JUST about Pearl Jam but it was definitely one of the highlights of our year (along with our anniversary). Jack turned almost 40 (muhahahaha) and we spent Labor Day weekend at Cathy’s in Trout Lake and had a blast. The kids started back to school.

Thumbs up!

October: Miss H’s adoption was finally finalized! Jack’s Godzilla got an upgrade, and of course there was Halloween.

November: Kayla turned 20 (*gulp*), Jackie turned 15, and Kevin performed a solo in choir. We spent Thanksgiving weekend with almost all the family at Jack’s grandmother’s.

Another thumbs up!

December: Much holiday and birthday madness ensued. Kevin turned 18, Melissa turned 14, and Lil Miss turned 7. We adopted Mia, our little Rat Terrier from the Oregon Humane society who rescued her from an overwhelmed breeder in Tillamook, Oregon. She was quite sick and the first week with her was a blur of sickness, vets, and crap loads of money we did not have flying out our window to get her better (in addition to all the Christmas and Birthday shopping…) Hopefully the insurance she came with will come through and cover most of it! We spent Christmas eve at Jack’s Grandma’s and paid Sarah and her family a visit. The day after Christmas we drove up to Cathy’s and spent the night so we could visit and fix her door. New Year’s eve was spent quietly at home with family. It was a good end to a great year.

What IS it?

2009 had its ups and downs for certain. I look back on the year and feel lucky and very thankful that mostly there were ups. We are certainly blessed.

Happy New Year!