Saturday, May 9, 2015

Flying & Knitting & Pointy Toe Shoes

I'm back home after a week in Emmitsburg, Maryland for training.  This round of training was the best I'd ever received and the class I was a part of was simply amazing.  There were 29 other students in the class who were floodplain specialists from around the country.  The lessons and discussions were not only lively but often great debates were had over different strategies and approaches to our jobs.  I left with over 20 business cards of very talented, very hardworking "floodies" that I was honored to learn from over the week.  Best of all I left with several invitations to visit these professionals in the jurisdictions they not only work for but are fiercely proud to represent. Curtis and I are already starting to make 'dream' plans to visit my new friends in Jefferson Parrish Louisiana to take a tour of the old catholic churches in February of 2016.
I had many favorite moments on my trip (I'll save the Basilica for my next post), but some of the favorites included the flights to and from training.  Not only does flying allow me to knit (the photo above is an infant girl hat that is knitted with a cashmere blend, blended with pink soft boa feathers and black sparkle flecks I KNOW....Does it get any better?) but to just be able to listen to the conversations going on around me without notice.  While I'm a bit shy and introverted on a plane I'm astounded by the freedom that people around me have in sharing intimate details of their lives with strangers who happened to be seat mates.  Some of the discussions I overheard were down right funny, and some were so tragic that I cried along as they told their stories.  On the way home I was seated in the vicinity of the Public Information Officer (PIO) for the Coeur d'Alene police department in Idaho.   Upon her arrival she was helping to finish plans for the memorial service being held for Sgt. Greg Moore who had tragically been killed earlier in the week while the PIO was attending class in Emmitsburg.  While I was knitting and listening to her tell the story and share her grief, I heard her share how Sgt. Moore was once a beloved school resource officer and that his wife is a teacher.  The couple have two children, the youngest,  a girl, is just a year old.  I listened to her mourn his passing and at the same time speak with pride about how her town (Coeur d'Alene) was expecting hundreds of officers paying their respects at the memorial service and how, even as she was away, her heart was with her community and their preparations.   I remember thinking how remarkable this woman is and how thankful I am that God gives us all talents.  She is certainly in a career that helps her demonstrate her compassion as well as her ability to keep calm.  I said a silent prayer as we waited to get off the plane and was touched by how patiently she waited to get off (we were in the very last row) even though she still had a long night ahead of her and a connecting flight to make.  Never once did I hear about her talk about herself, complain or say anything even remotely negative on our very long flight home.  I said a prayer for her this morning when I woke up and have seen the photographs from the memorial service Coeur d'Alene hosted today.  They did an amazing job.  Rest in peace Sgt. Moore, thank you for your service and bravely giving your life in a career that at times is thankless.  God bless your wife and children and may they be comforted in the hard days to come.
My favorite moment of a flight has to be just before landing.  In that amazing moment that no matter how old you are, the earth becomes your playhouse and you are captured by the perspective that you have at that moment.  You realize that bright blue cars reflect the sunshine the best and that baseball is indeed America's favorite pastime as the country is FULL of fields and most of all that nothing is more cheerful than a red patio umbrella.
Oh wait, the hat that is shown above?  Hopefully by now it is sitting on the new grandchild, Gracie, of the lady who was sitting next to me on the plane ride back to Seattle.  I didn't catch my seat mates name but I did see at least five photographs of Gracie on her grandmother's one inch by one inch flip phone screen (I'm serious) and read two text messages from her son who told his mother (by text, and boy is he going to get it for that) that Gracie had been born.  The proud new grandmother sat in the center seat of my row and her husband sat in the center seat of the row ahead of us.  ("I believe this may be a very delightful mistake" was what her husband said as he took his seat.....Which was why I didn't offer him mine so they could travel together.  You're welcome sir.) They were flying into Anchorage to meet their youngest granddaughter and to "give her son hell" for not picking up the phone to call with the news instead of texting it.  I do believe that Gracie will be the only newborn in Anchorage with a hat that is knitted with a cashmere blend, blended with pink soft boa feathers and black sparkle flecks, and I kind of dig that!
Do I love you?

Saturday, April 25, 2015

I'm a Rhinestone Cowboy.....

In an earlier blog post I spoke about a funeral that Curtis and I had attended...
"Curtis and I went to a funeral this weekend.  I have to admit we had never met the person the funeral was for, but we do know, and love, the son and daughter in-law of the deceased.  We we were honored to help celebrate the life of the man we learned about.
During the funeral the family brought in mementos of the deceased.  They brought things that represented their loved one.  There was a baseball mitt, a newspaper, a menu from his favorite restaurant and some other items.  I thought it was a nice touch, but didn't realize how much it effected Curtis.
On the way home Curtis asked me what of his I would pick to symbolize his life?  (YES!  HE DID SAY THIS...HONEST!)  I have to admit that he stumped me.  I was taken aback for a moment.  I immediately pulled the "I'm stalling for time to think" card and said "First you answer."  I was even more shocked that he had an instant answer.  He told me that he would pick my IPOD because it best represents every side of me.  (I know, huh, a wonderful answer). "
I wrote that blog post on 07 February 2011....Today is 26 April 2015 and I can't believe how very true  his statement was and still is.  This past week I got a new iPod Nano (7th edition) because my old one finally gave up on me and I didn't want to run with my huge iPhone (Yes, I'm typing on a MacBook Pro so I'm not only shaped like an apple
but I love their products too.) so I bought the new Nano.  Even though the 1,000 plus songs on my iPod are the same as the ones I've always had in my library loading them on to the new device and placing them on shuffle ended up playing songs that I hadn't heard in a very long time.  I don't know about you but when I hear a song that I love I also think of the reason I love it.  Sometimes the memories are so strong and powerful that they have the ability to take me back to the place the memories were made....
Phil Collins 'Coming in the Air Tonight' takes me back to my senior homecoming dance where I think I first realized the powerful lesson of love that you may need to prove by letting it go.
Kid Rock 'Cowboy Baby' takes me back to Jackers grooving in the back seat of my Ford Aerostar and shouting "I'm a cowboy baby" to every passer at the Alderwood Mall in his stroller.....
N' Sync 'Bye, Bye, Bye' and the original 'Footloose' soundtrack are my Jacob memories.  Who would have thought that this over six foot tall child of my heart who is the gentle giant started his love of music in my high heeled black boots dancing with Justin Timberlake?
Edwin McCain 'I'll Be' takes me back to my wedding day (love you Curtie).
Johnny Mathis 'Chances Are' and many of my mother's record collection I remember playing on the stereo furniture console in the front room as I drifted off to sleep in our little farmhouse in Ferndale, Washington.
I also have my share of 70's, 80's and early 90's metal, the Seattle Grunge Music favorites, Steely Dan, Cheap Trick, Fleetwood Mac and even my ex husband's music from the band he was a part of long after our divorce.  This music reminds me of reckless love, being powerful enough to make a huge life change and the ability to know that even hard experiences help shape wonderful futures.
Kenny Loggins 'Christopher Robin' for my sweet Maria who inspired me then, now and forever.
The piano musings of Jim Brickman that remind me that you can love with all of your heart and soul and still not be the one another heart wants.
There is so much diversity than what is listed here but I realized that with the iTunes reward card that came with my purchase it was time to add to my much loved library.  And twice this week my iPod gifted me the opportunity to have incredible experiences with two of my children.  Maria sat with me and helped guide me in some great choices, she even was able to listen to my off-key singing of a part of a song that I wanted and identified it as Jack Johnson 'Banana Pancakes'.  She took the time to share her library with me and shared some great songs that I not only love but downloaded.  Now each time these play I will remember sitting around the kitchen table with my beautiful daughter (deep sigh, who is an awesome adult now) picking these songs.  Then later in the week Jackers climbed into bed with me (this is such a rare treat from my boy who is now much too old and much too young man to be the snuggle bug he once was) and had me listen to some of his much loved country music.  I admit I'm not a huge country fan but I downloaded most of his suggestions and love them.
So this week I was well armed with my new iPod, and new music memories and when I plugged in first thing Thursday morning and hit shuffle I was hit with Glen Campbell singing 'Rhinestone Cowboy'.  Why is this on my playlist you may ask?  Because it was the first "popular" song that my baby brother ever memorized.  He would sing that song for hours, over and over and over again.  I used to hate that song.  Until I became an adult and a mother and realized how very much I love my baby brother.  I love you Tony, then, now, forever, no matter what.  Cause.....I really don't mind the rain, and a smile can hide the pain.....
Do I love you?

Monday, April 20, 2015

I knew I loved you before I met you.....

I'm a blessed mother of three fantastic children.  They are each so special, so individual and so important to me.  Today is my youngest, Jack's 18th birthday.  So while I love them all so very much and can thrill you with story after story today is Jack's turn.
Jack is my baby, my funny man, my protector and my heart.  He embodies the essence of the youngest child to a tee and has throughout his life brought laughter to my heart.  I should have known on his first day of life that Jack would always keep me guessing and keep me on my toes.  As I was having an emergency c-section to have Jack in the surgery unit next door a lady was having twins (via c-section as well).  Her boy was born the same exact time as Jack and because her water had broken days before giving birth the newborn infant care unit was going to be taking her babies straight to their unit to give them maintenance antibiotics.  Guess whose baby got taken instead?  I eventually got him back but for months was secretly convinced that I had the wrong baby (sorry Jack).
My favorite birthday was Jack's seventh.  It was a Tuesday and he was a student at Whittier Elementary.  I had gone to school to eat lunch with him and when I had come home that night after work Jack was standing on top of my kitchen counter in his school uniform.  For some reason I had the video camera going and caught this now favorite moment.  I remember sneaking up on him and asking him what he was doing.  Without missing a beat my little ham looks straight in the camera and says "Washing the counters stupid head." Jack then sat on the counter, took off his socks and started to wipe the windex soaked counter with his socks.  For some reason I kept the camera going and said "I love you Jackers, Happy Birthday."  He looked back at me very seriously, got an inch away from the camera and looked at it with such seriousness that I thought I was going to catch a rare moment when my Jackers would actually be serious.  You can hear me take a breath as I wait for him to position his face right in the camera because I was so sure that I was either one, going to get an "I love you Mama" back, or two, I was going to finally win $10,000 on America's Funniest Video's.  Instead in this breath taking instant Jack lined his face up right next to the camera lens and says in a monster voice "I love you too stupid head."
Why is that my favorite birthday?
Because my Jack is my Jack.  He is my baby, my funny man, my protector and my heart.  He loves bigger than anyone I know and just like I did 11 years ago I still find myself cherishing the little moments where he does (and says) the unexpected.  I have so many wishes for my Jackers and his future but the biggest wish is that he always knows that his Mama is his biggest fan and I will always have his back.  The year Jack was born there was a popular song called 'I knew I loved you before I met you' by Savage Garden.  I know that in its true meaning it was a love song between a man and a women but I remember listening to it when I was up late taking care of Jack and thinking that it described how I felt towards my little man so very well.  I love you Jackers, happy birthday!
Do I love you?

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Juror #37*

Jury selection days are hard on Snohomish County Employees who use the parking garage. The sheer number of potential "parkers" in an unfamiliar parking garage seem to make the usual morning comfortable choreography of the "regular" most difficult.
First problem is that a large amount of the first floors parking spaces are reserved for carpools, elected officials and director level staff. Being human (and a bit intimidated) visiting jurors usually jump right into one of those spaces to only realize half way parked that they are reserved.....This begins the first frustrated pull out. As the jurors get into the deeper floors of the garage they start to see that many of the cars are backed into stalls instead of pulled right in nose first. You can almost see the light bulb above their head as they then start to look for a space that will comfortably allow a "back in" maneuver. Unfortunately it is usually level D or E when they find the appropriate space which half way into backing in realize that the space is reserved for county rigs only.....Second frustrated pull out. Finally a juror will find a perfect space for backing in, one that is not reserved and that is relatively close to an elevator. Most certainly the first back in attempt needs to be straightened, pulled out, wheels turned and attempted again. The frustrating thing about this is that by this time there is usually a long line of parking garage regulars who have now been stuck behind several of these parking novices.
This morning I was behind a juror who attempted all of the above moves. Because of his back in choreography I was able to see his face quite clearly. I tried to smile and remember that I'm a government employee and take pride in the fact that just one encounter with me may set the tone of this gentleman's visit. "Make Their Day" is something I try to strive for with every interaction. I believe in it so much that I have a poster one of our cartographers (they are so good to me) made for me that says this in bold print with a picture of the fish market workers/throwers at Pike Place Market.
Finally snugly placed (nose in) in my favorite space at the bottom of the garage I parked and walked towards the elevator. The other joy about the "jury shuffle" is stopping on multiple levels to pick up those going to the plaza level. I stopped at floor F, E, and D. At floor D we only heard a mans voice call out "Never mind I'm taking the stairs!" As the doors began to close a fellow elevator passenger yelled out "That is a lot of stairs." An arm and the head (that coincidentally belonged to the juror I watched do the parking shuffle) quickly reached into the elevator in an attempt to catch a ride. As the door continued to close on both his arm and head he popped back out. As he popped out his juror badge fell to the floor of the elevator.....Juror #37*.
Oh don't fret, I was able to catch up with Juror #37* and reunite him with his badge. He laughed and said "Thank you, you made my day."!
*In an attempt to protect the actual jury member in this story his badge may have (or may not have) been Juror #37 ;-)!
Do I love you?

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Mr. Incredible

Yesterday was a pretty big day in our house. The baby (Jack, 15) received his drivers permit. I knew this day was going to come because like his sister and brother (Sissy & Buddy) before him I cannot control how long he stays young. It was inevitable.
After proudly listening to him answer the gentleman's questions from the DMV With a respectful "Yes Sir" or "No Sir", and signed the papers I needed, I reluctantly let him finish the process on his own. He waited in line to get his picture taken and quietly placed his new treasure in his wallet (which to my joy still has a Velcro close and Disney character on the front...) and walked towards me and his Dad.
It didn't take long for him to chose to ride with me as I am the softie and he knew I would allow him to drive once we hit the safer back roads.  At our agreed upon spot I got out of the drivers seat and let Jack drive us home. He did amazingly well. I think the many years of Nana and Papa letting him drive the golf cart gave him the confidence and good start he needed. We need to work on braking and watching speed but we were off to a good start. My easiest breath surely came when we finally entered the garage (and Dad did the "Dad thing" with a do as I say and not what I do quote on using blinkers at all times they are needed.).  I sat in the van for a moment and thought of what an amazing thing life is. I flipped down the passenger side sun visor and giggled at the pealing sticker of Mr. Incredible that Jack had placed there when he was eight. I remember him begging to put that sticker somewhere in the van because Mr. Incredible looked just like Dad and it would be happy for me to have a little sticker of "daddy" in the van. (Boy I AM the softie!) I can't believe that little sticker placing stinker just drove the van.
Memories are so sweet, and making them is so amazing because the little things that happen along the way often end up being the memories that we cherish the most.
Which brings me where my heart is today. As much as I'd like to tell you it is on the work I'm doing, I have to admit that as my eyes seek one of my fellow cube mates today they happen on an empty chair. Her husband has stage four lung cancer and today is chemo day. This amazing woman is a memory maker, she whips up custom cakes for her sons birthday (seriously a half shark half Halo (or other video game) cake) does an amazing amount of inside and outside work on the lovely home that she and her husband built themselves.  She does all of this with her bright blue eyes shinning and with her stubborn Dutch pride, does much of it alone these days. My prayers for her, her husband, and her son are that God eases their pain and allows amazing memories to be made even through these darker times.  I so pray that one day that she, and her husband, watch their son hit his first home run, go to his first dance, fall in love for the first time and drive after getting his learners permit and all of the other things that I (and of course Mr. Incredible) have gotten to watch our children do.
Do I Love You?

Monday, March 11, 2013

It takes a Village to raise the dough....

Yesterday was my favorite day of the week....Baking day! Sunday morning usually means I'm up, excited and ready to greet the day by 6. The trusty sidekicks are an early morning latte out of my Starbucks Verismo (thank you Bugga), my IPad (filled with Pintrest recipes) and my magic light pink breast cancer awareness Kitchen aid mixer. (Just between you and me the Cinderella mice and Snow White blue birds also join me in my Sunday morning ritual.....That is how incredible this experience really is.)
Yesterday did not really start like this.....For one daylight savings time kicked my usual up early bootie. The 9:30 that I woke up to with a "Holy Hat Rack" ended up really being 10:30. And because of my sleepless nights the two nights before the harmless sleep aid turned out to have a much different affect on my 40 pound less body....Can You say horse tranquilizer? Needless to say I finished baking around 8 last night.
But back to what makes my usual Sunday so wonderful.....While I am the queen of the kitchen on Sundays, I'm blessed with some amazing royal subjects. Sometimes I have big burly men types in my living room watching the race (or the pre-Oscar Red Carpet Show, depending on who is telling the story) who accept broken crumbles and shout out words of encouragement. Sometimes I get my youngest hanging out, doing homework and offering great ideas for the next weeks baking routine. My youngest, Jack, is 15 so I treasure every moment I get like this with him. And when I can steal her I get my oldest, and only daughter Maria. Yesterday was a Maria day and we spent a good amount of time talking and connecting. Maria is 21, more independent with each year and this time with her is truly an amazing gift. No subject is taboo, just good, honest conversations and memories. Maria also picks up much of the "disaster duty". One day I hope Maria will give me a house full of baby granddaughters so I can spend my Sundays in frilly matching aprons with them and the Cinderella mice and Snow White blue birds. All of the time I have my Curtie. My Curtie is my other half in the kitchen. He does a majority of the "disaster duty". Curtie also helps me cut the biscotti, find the lids to containers and he is the Chief Taste Tester (NOT of anything made with fruit or veggies mind you. I have found he will sample avocado for a small price.) (better not ask about that last one)
The biggest thing Curtie does is to keep me on track. Baking all of these goodies and not cheating takes effort. For the most part my biggest challenge is the "Whoopsie" sampling. You know the warm crumbles, the broken bits....The small crunchy to die for part of baking. Yesterday I chased Curtie down several times yelling "emergency" with those hot gooey bits in my hands. Every time he stopped what he was doing and took the sacrifice. What a guy. But even Curtie gets full so he invented a "Whoopsie Bowl". The bits and pieces are stored to pour over his ice cream when he isn't too full later on..... ❤
I can't tell you at the end of the day if it is the therapy of the baking that I love, or if it is the amazing village God has blessed me with the company of on those days?
P.S. Monday morning is my second favorite day of the week because I bring the goodies to work to share.
P.P.S. Does any one know how to get a hold of Gaston from "Beauty and the Beast"? The mice, bluebirds and I could use him kneading the dough......
Do I Love You?


Saturday, March 9, 2013

Hmmmmmm it is still brown underneath.....

Most of you who read know me quite well and know that my current weight loss efforts are central in my life right now.  As sad as that is to admit, I mean sure shouldn't it be my husband, my children, my family, my friends, my job?  But it is never the less the truth. 
Being honest with you, and most importantly myself, I've realized that at this time I need to give myself the ability to make my transformation the most important and central part of my life.  Going through this transformation allows me to be a better ____ (fill in the blank).
The most exciting thing about the (Holy heck I'm going to say this out loud) 40 pounds I have lost.  Please excuse the interruption....I'm going to stop typing and dance around the table in my best 80's Wham 'Wake Me Up Before You Go Go' way......Whew....Okay where did we leave off???  OH YES I'VE LOST 40 POUNDS :-)...Where was I again...????
Oh yes the most exciting thing.  It hasn't been that I can now take the stairs at work without being winded (over 12 floors when I go from my floor to the bottom of the parking garage where I park), or that I can now say that I used to be a Type II Diabetic....It's the clothing and the shoes.  Okay, Okay, the health thing is pretty cool but really?  Fitting in clothing that is not sold in the plus size department is AMAZING!  I haven't actually purchased anything yet but the petite department at Macy's and I did have a little sobbing session a couple of weeks ago when I realized I could go pick up an outfit off of the rack and try it on (and it zipped)!  I sobbed so hard that two ladies came to see if I was okay and when I told them my story they promptly told me the skirt was too big and got me a smaller size.  We all just about brought security in the dressing room when it zipped up on it's own.  This is all pretty funny when I realize I still have LOTS of weight to lose and the size that I tried on still had a double digit rather than a single one but IT FIT (Que Wham song for another round around the table baby!)
Back to the clothing & shoes.....
Pretty much everyone in my life, even some of the men in the office who are often clueless about this sort of thing (sorry guys) are offering advice on how what I need to buy when I'm ready for new clothing.  (I can't buy anything yet because I have this "fat woman" phenomenon known as "multiple closet syndrome".  This is when women have fluctuated several sizes in several years and hang on to all of the clothing.....I'm almost at the smallest size but not quite there yet.  The rules of the "multiple closet syndrome" and dieting are that you jinx yourself if you purchase clothing below the smallest size in your closet....) I find the advice funny because if you really know me you know I only like to wear one color, black.  I don't wear black because I'm hiding, Gothic, depressed or anything else.  I just really, really like black.  It's a thing with me.  The funny thing is that everyone (by the way I love their support) who gives me advice tells me I should buy a closet full of color.  (Que record scratching sound here......) Huh?
Yes, I'm losing weight, yes I feel like a new person, and yes I'd love to rock a bright heel or scarf at times but I am still me, and well.....I LOVE BLACK!
This morning when I went outside I realized the tree in the neighbors yard is starting to make it's spring transition.  It is shedding the old bark and starting to bud out.  I've been obsessed with this tree most of the day.  I finally walked over to the tree this afternoon and snapped a picture.  It wasn't until after I edited the picture that I realized why I loved it so much.....Hmmmmm it is still brown underneath......
So underneath the ability to purchase clothing in the petite section, the ability to take stairs multiple times a day, and the ability to kick Diabetes in the BOOTIE.....I'm still shoe lovin', black clothing wearing Rox.
Do I love you?