Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Full of Thanks

November is the month many people take time to think of what they are grateful for in their lives. The latest phenomenon is updating Facebook statuses every day with something that has made the person posting full of gratitude.

I’m not that organized. My first post of the month was something about giving a shout out to the employees at Home Depot for not pretending I was invisible. This is what usually happens when I venture into the cavernous maw of that store. Honestly, I can’t think of anything more boring to shop for than home improvement items, so I spend as little time as I can in those kinds of establishments. Probably because while I always knew I didn’t have a green thumb, in my maturity (okay, old age), I also realize I do not have a home improvement thumb, either.

However, for this trip I was looking for seeds for a kindergarten science lesson. Not only did the friendly employee help me find some big seeds that little five year old fingers could deftly plant in a paper cup, he pointed out an easy care shrub. I made a pact with myself that if I could keep the shrub alive for a month, it was a sign that my aptitude for homecare was changing and I might venture on to a flowering plant, vegetables, or even a home project.

Well, it’s almost a month later and the shrub is still alive! I am considering this my Grandma Moses moment – she didn’t start painting until she was in her 90’s. I even have a few decades on her for my personal revelation. So, shout out to you Home Depot.

The next day, I believe I posted that I was thankful it was no longer October. That is because after a month of scary movies, scary pumpkin patches, and scary decorations everywhere, I had reached my scary limit. I realized this after I spent a half hour trying to prod a Barbie car into the bathroom with an extended light saber. You see, there was a long, dark leg peeking out from behind the console in the car. My mind extrapolated how big the body would have to be of whatever mutant spider was attached to that leg, and I tell you, it was as big as my German Shepherd.

Once I had maneuvered the car into the bathroom, I had to muster up the courage to actually touch the Barbie car in order to put it into the bathtub. Then, I had to muster up more courage to turn on the shower water – but I had visions of the very large spider leaping out and attacking me.

After five more minutes of deep breathing and trying to look cool, calm and collected in front of my three year old, I turned on the water. I waited for the Barbie car to fill and flood, killing the mutant spider. You know that saying – you learn something new every day? Well, it’s true. I learned that Barbie cars don’t hold water. After about five minutes of soaking that car in a boiling hot shower, the water level never got above the white plastic seats.

Even though the Barbie car didn’t flood, about five more minutes passed and I was sure the spider was dead. The beast’s leg bobbed up and down, but didn’t move. I must have scalded the thing to death. Now was the time for me to meet it face to face, but I didn’t even want to see its lifeless form. Until this moment, I thought I only had an irrational fear of dentists and heights. Now I know I am also deathly afraid of spiders.

Taking the light saber, I removed the dripping car from the bathtub. Carefully, slowly I lifted the front end of the car up, so the drowned spider would tumble forward into my view. Do you know what came sliding out onto the bathmat? It was a spider alright - a plastic Halloween spider ring. I had wasted 45 minutes and given myself heart palpitations from stress – all from doing battle with a plastic Halloween spider ring. So, once I finally disposed of the ring, I gave thanks that I could put my frazzled nerves to rest until the next year’s Halloween activities.

The third day of November, I think I gave thanks that I could react quickly to parenting situations. Like when I decided against leaving my five- and three- year olds girls unattended for a few minutes in their room while I did laundry, after hearing a conversation that required them to say the words “dog” and “makeup” in the same sentence.

On the fourth day of giving thanks, I gave a silent high five to the universe for being a safety net to my own stupidity as I try to raise five kids. Our family was gathered– all seven of us – in the T.V. room. I had a glow about me as I surveyed my brood – together and cozy. My husband was reading a book to the little girls. My oldest two sons were glued to a football game. My middle boy was watching a Netflix movie on my iPad. I was updating my Facebook status.

Then my middle son ripped out his earbuds and exclaimed,” That was the best movie EVER!”
It was at this moment I realized that even though I was no more than eight feet away from my kid, I had no idea what he had been watching.

Afraid to ask, but knowing I should, I posed him the question: “What movie were you watching?”

He responded, very excited, “Beavers!”

I think I was a little ashen when I asked, “Uhm, was it about animals?”

Thankfully it was and I vowed never again to not flex my full parental rights before a person under the age of 18 used any device in my house again.

Those four days about ended my stamina for being thankful. Thirty days of thankfulness? I think I’ll stick to just the twelve days of Christmas, thank you very much.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Earthquake,.. on the East Coast?!

Yes, it's true. We Californians like to share, I guess. Did you know that one of North America's biggest earthquakes actually occurred on the Mississippi River in the early 1800's? So this is not unprecedented, although unexpected.

I love this map, which includes what we call 'authoritative' data sources (from USGS data feeds and others - agencies that are responsible for tracking this type of information and we know we can rely on) and then data from the general public - you really get a sense of how strong the liquifaction of this quake was (so much soil on the East coast! Not as much rock as we Californians have) and how far away it was felt. Seeing information in geographic space can give you a better sense of an event, a deeper understanding of what happened.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Monday already?

Father Robert Joerger, Debbie Philips, Father Edward Beck. Picture taken from Philips' blog.

Seems so, so I'll just send you directly over here to read a nice blog post to get you through today and many days to come - inspiring words from Father Edward Beck, a Passionist Priest in New York from a retreat he gave on Martha's Vineyard. Rob and I first met Father Edward at a retreat he gave at our Church. We are able to visit him periodically, primarily when he comes to the West Coast, but this past summer we bugged both him and Father Robert over in New York.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

River Rats

Our awesome home away from home! Yep, we had the double wide and we wore it well!

Seriously, the only thing I can focus on in this picture is that Froshy is really getting close to being even with me. Yipes.

Yeah, they look ready for bed, right? I don't think they can get any blonder without being dayglo colored.

I actually look... relaxed! Could it be because of no wifi or cell phone towers anywhere? Brown beast is peering over my shoulder.

Parker Dam, where we'd zoom to, cut the engine and fling small, life jacketed bodies out of the boat and into the river. I flund myself in as well, to keep the small ones from drifting far, far away.

Collecting river shells on the shore.

This is what summer time is all about! We had such a great time! Besides the sand bar incident. And the bouy incident. I didn't mind falling off the seadoos a few times. And I survived Froshy driving me into every wake imaginable when it was his turn on the 'watery-vehicle-of-death.'

Friday, July 8, 2011

Of dog poop and chicken lips

So, the eldest, who is entering his freshman year of highschool and shall from here on out be known as Froshy, is taking summer school. Because he takes after his nutty parents, he is an overachiever. It helps that his best friend is also an overachiever, so I can pass the blame later on.

His summer school class is health. Which he told me today that wasn't as easy as he thought it would be. I don't think anything is easy when you have tests each week that have more than 80 questions on them.

He watched the movie Food, Inc. which I love, because a lot of the foodie authors I read are in the film. People like Michael Pollan who created the great Omnivore's Dilemma. I own the young reader edition (I know my own intellectual limits. Actually, it was the only version available when I had the urge to read it) I fail horribly, but I know how important good food is and I have five kids, so I really can't afford to be a delinquent in the nutrition department. I do my best.

Froshy and I are having a bit of a fencing match in the kitchen these days -

"Mom, which is better for you - ketchup or mustard?"

"Is there high fructose corn syrup in that?"

"Guess how many grams of sugar are in this serving!"

I'm loving it!

Tonight was a cafeteria style dinner with everyone eating a different time, between football and cheer practices and pick ups at friend's houses. Froshy told me he didn't want to eat red meat, since he'd eaten carne asada four times this week, and even he has his limits, I guess. So, I offered him my dinner - chicken and brown rice, sans the Trader Joe's Red Thai Curry sauce.

I fed the dogs some of the raw chicken that had too much fat on it for me to handle. He asked if we would get sick if we ate raw chicken. Then he asked why dogs don't get sick. "Well, they eat their own poop, Froshy, they have stomachs of steel."

Don't bring poop up to a kid taking a health class. I had to listen to a diatribe on how poop won't make you sick since it comes from your own body. Yes, I know that, but I'm not going to eat poop any time soon.

Anyway, we got through the poop discussion. I added some watermelon to his dinner of chicken breast and brown rice. He actually told me thank you for dinner. We have crossed a huge chasm people. I simply can not wait for the other kids to come to the mother ship so I don't have to make mac and cheese or mickey mouse shaped chicken nuggets anymore. Patience, grasshopper.

The three year old, who hadn't eaten four meals of carne asada in the last few days, was eating left over tri tip. She had a question. "Why don't chickens talk?" (I'm assuming because we were talking about eating raw chicken.)

I've learned to keep quiet as long as possible, because I have become very uncreative in my 14 years of having to answer these types of questions. Froshy as a preschooler would drive me to tears with questions and insisting I read every street signs as we flew down the Interstate.

I waited for hubby to answer. "Because chickens don't have vocal chords," he responds.

To which Froshy responded, "Actually chickens do have vocal chords. They don't have lips." (don't you love teenagers?)

And then hubby, being very mature asked,"Then where did the term chicken lips come from?"

At this point it really went downhill, so I fed them all ice cream.


Sunday, July 3, 2011

Thanks Washington!

I've spent a great few weeks with the kids on vacation up in Washington. I spent enough time there that I feel like I'm going back to my chameleon ways - you know, the lizard that is known for blending in with it's environment. I adapted to the great northwest again, tossing my Southern California ways aside. I had given up my sequins and high heels for plaid and comfort shoes. I was starting to feel the urge to trade in my BMW for a gas friendly hybrid.

Sequins and bright colors just announce to the public that you aren't actually from the area anyway - natives come equipped with skin so white from lack of sunshine, who needs to compete with clothes that also glitter and glow? My teenager actually commented that he'd never seen so many pale people in his life. Nothing wrong with that - as we become preternaturally wrinkled from extended sun exposure where we live, Seattlites will be popping their vitamin D tablets and having the last laugh.

I did find that my urge to wear plaid was kind of like the same feeling you get when you go on holiday somewhere like Disneyland. You walk into a gift shop and think the Mickey Mouse emblazoned outfits are cute. Only do you realize when you put on that tuxedo jacket with the tiny Mickey heads all over the fabric does it not work anywhere outside of the Happiest Place on Earth.

I have to say it's tough to pack for three weeks away from home when you have five kids. You think that the Chevy Suburban has a vast amount of space until you load up suitcases, scooters, hockey gear, coolers and snack food. Then you realize that clothing options have to be restricted. And as the kids get older, their clothes get bigger and less outfits can be packed. I'm limited to four of each item, even for me - shirts, pants, sweaters and shoes. That means I need to be smart about my clothing choices for extended wearabilty - I'm limited to grey and brown - the colors of dirt and grubby fingers.

It's been so nice to hang out with family and friends - go to the local lake and catch tadpoles, visit playground's and eat meals together. Fill our gullets with as much great roadside lattes and copper river salmon as possible before making the trek back to the sunny, but dusty brown inland area where we live in SoCal. Thanks Washington, for being incredibly green, amazingly only cloudy with a very few showers and full of tasty food and beverages.

Monday, April 18, 2011


That's what this post is about. Okay, the sprout. Nothing as amazingly romantic as the city in Belgium. There are a couple of vegetables I haven't made friends with - brussel sprouts and beets. I hate anything that comes out of a can, unless it's refried or baked with brown sugar. That kind of limits the veggies I like that I was introduced to back in the days of my youth when canned veggies were a cool thing to do. Now, my mom is an amazing gardner - she had an amazing garden when I was a kid and I loved to eat sugar snap peas, anything salady, carrots, rhubarb and strawberries. So, why the hell she decided to feed us beets out of a can, and I think maybe brussel sprouts, I do not know. Now, as an adult, I've tried to be an adult about beets, but I don't like them fresh either. I just think that veggies should not be sweet. I don't really like sweet potatoes unless they are baked in a pie, fried as a fry, or mixed with so much brown sugar and pecans, you'd think you had dipped into a casserole dish of praline heaven. So beets, unless I find a way to wedge them on a popsicle stick, well, we aren't friends. I thought the same of brussel sprouts. Now, they aren't sweet, I know that. But the brussel sprouts of my youth were slimy, glutenous masses of green that could pass for snot. (love you mom!) So, when my five year old told me she wanted to eat brussel sprouts, I did the "Mmmmhhmmmm, that's nice honey." thing I do when I'm working at home and not really listening to what the kids are saying. Which happens maybe more than I'd like to admit. Well, I had to go to the local veggie stand in search of a green strawberry basket, since I just realized a few minutes ago that Easter is indeed this Sunday, which means I have to get party stuff ready for two preschool girls. Which includes ferreting out green strawberry baskets. Since I'm also in charge of the veggie tray at one of the school parties, we stroll in and pack our basket full of goodies. Lo and behold - I find brussel sprouts! I point them out to the five year old, who is extremely excited. Bringing them home means googling recipes. I find some that sound intriguing, but I can't get past the guilt of taking something so fresh and good for you and roasting it with bacon or slathering it with shredded cheese. So, I opt for the boil a bit, then pan fry in a scant bit of butter (for color) and salt and pepper. Delish! How could I not like brussel sprouts? I like spinach, cabbage and broccoli - now I've encountered their long lost friend. The five year old is beside herself and has thirds of her brussel sprouts. I finally confess that the reason the kid wants to eat brussel sprouts is becuase her beloved cartoon character on Nick Jr. eats them. Shout out to Nick Jr. ! How exciting that my kid came away from the tellie not wanting to go purchase Froot Loops or a Zhuzhu pet, but brussel sprouts! My gosh - watch more TV, kids! The boys at my homestead, I must say, were not quite as enamoured with the new vegetable. When the 11 year Z-man found out it was a cartoon pig who was to blame for the green stuff on his plate, he announced "Well, guess what's for dinner tomorrow? Pork chops!" Not such a good sport, that one.

Friday, March 11, 2011


Praying for everyone affected by the earthquake off Japan and resulting tsunami.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Cavemanbistro - Helping you eat the paleo way!

My good buddy from college, Craig, who married another good buddy of mine from college, Alisa, has a new Website featuring some of his most awesome dishes.

Craig has worked at a variety of restaurants, as you'll see in the about the chef section.

He uses simple ingredients, relying mostly on fruits, veggies and meats. This is great for gluten free eating (take note, in-law sibs).

Check it out here.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Eat Healthy for Free! (Kinda,..)

I just found out that NBC is creating a cool new show about opening 'America's Next Great Restaurant.' Aptly named 'America's Next Great Restaurant' one of the judges on the show is the founder of Chipotle Restaurant. I love Chipotle. Why? Because they are YUMMY. They are FAST. They serve BEER. And they are healthy - trying to serve organic food as much as they can - someday the market will actually support their endeavors so you don't have to be faced with a placard apologizing that their chicken that day isn't free range because they ran out. We'll get there, folks.

As an advertising campaign (this is genius, in my mind) they are offering a buy one get one if you watch their 90 minute promo. I'm a big lover of the Food Network and all their crazy food shows because I could never be that creative. And I am a big lover of the Food Truck culture - bringing eclectic, yummy food to the masses. Our only food truck where we live is the Kool Kactus, but I can deal with that. They are great. Not only do they have the best fish tacos ever, but yummy spinach enchiladas. I know, sounds gross, eh? But don't knock it til you've tried it.

Okay, I'm running out of time, gotta get ready for a full day of preschool fun that involves sushi, ballet, tap, and tumble bus, all before noon.

Go here to learn more about the offer.

Friday, February 18, 2011

You are Where Live

I posted here about a great new app my company created that can be used by - yes ADULTS and children alike - (ask your child to help you out, it is 21st century technology,..)

Okay, even if you haven't honed your skills on that app, here is an even simpler one and one that you can play with and fret about for hours on end,...

Because, just like we are what we eat (and today I am a stack of Thin Mint cookies, thanks a lot evil girl scouts,..) we are also where we live.

Did you know that where you live has an effect on whether or not you have a heart attack? Just listen to Bill Davenhall, one of the people I get to work with, as he addressed a TED conference (cool innovative conferences that have people like THE NAKED CHEF and last only a few minutes each, for those with Adult onset ADD, like myself.):

And it is perhaps not the fault of childhood innoculations, but instead where you live, that is attributable to autism. Here is one of many articles,.. and another,...

And while you should weigh every opinion and fact, it is always best to be equipped with the most information possible, right?

That's where this fun little app comes in handy - it's free and can help you find out what toxic chemicals and other risk factors are knocking at your door. Then, it goes a step further and helps you save and keep track fo this information so you can bring it up at your next doctor's visit. I use this as frequently as my iPhone migraine headache and blood pressure logs.

Let's see what wonderfulness I am harboring due to my place history. And I am the perfect person for this, since I have lived in a lot of places in my 40-ish years. This map is not including outside of the U.S.

So, go here and map out your place history.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Fun blog from a friend

Who says kids can't help your social life? And who says that social media doesn't keep the friend fires burning? I feel so much richer being connected, even in a technology sort of way - to many people I have no time to bond with in reality. Perhaps that sounds lonely, or condescending, or robotic - but with five kids, a job, a house, a husband, and the need to sleep and perhaps work out every now and then, I rarely even call my mother on a regular basis. (sorry Mom!)

Any hoo - I met this fun lady when our now 11 year olds were in a preschool together - it was a 'teach the parent' school that was wonderful and the expectation was that we would attend, learn with our child, and help teach the class as the year went on. We attended required parent seminars every Wednesday - which as sooo nice because it meant you got to sit down for an hour without your kid (God knows I love every one of 'em - kids I mean!) and eat yummy snacks, because our instructor had heard that if people eat while learning, they retain that information for a longer time. I have applied this in my work life, and while I don't know if this is scientifically true, it has helped me win friends and influence people - do not belittle the power of a home baked chocolate chip cookie!

Here is the link to her blog - I am constantly learning from her - and I hope you will too!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

It's all fun and games until an app gets you arrested,..

I was exiting the pizza party - which hubby craftily scheduled to combine all three of the basketball teams he is coaching so we wouldn't have to eat pizza for the next week at individual parties - and my iPhone came alive of its own volition.

Granted, after taking care of two preschoolers who were feeling a bit under the weather all day, and trying not to strangle the 9 year old while he attempted fractions/spelling words/multiplications tables, and then taking the 14 year old to orthodontist and physical therapy appointments all before said party, I was a little tired.

I had just checked my iphone calendar hearing hubby would be scarce on Wednesday evening. After, I threw the phone back in my purse. Leaned over to strap preschoolers into their seats. Threw purse on middle console and hoisted myself into the big SUV.

As I was turning on the car, I heard talking and some weird '70's music - you know, the chuckah chuckah wow wow kind of thing. I looked at 14 year old and asked, "what is that?"

He shrugged.

I realize it's coming from the bowels of my purse, so I dive in to find my phone lit up and having a little party. I look at the screen, which is somehow on Youtube and looks like a newscast. I exit out, only to come to the screen that shows the category of video I was watching.

Turkey Porn.

I kid you not. I don't know what that is, but seeing the p*** word with four of my five children under the age of 18 in the car, I quickly exited out of youtube so fast, it would make your fingers bleed. And then I yelled at my 14 year old, who was laughing so hard at this point, he could barely breathe.

"What were you doing with my phone?!?"

"Nothing! Why would I use your phone when I have one of my own?"

"I don't know!?! Maybe because you didn't want to search for turkey p*** on your own phone!"

I find myself looking out the rear view mirror, knowing the sherrif's department is just across the street and wondering how long it'll take the officers to come and take me away in handcuffs for insidious behavior.

The 9 year old pipes up - "What's turkey corn?"

I'm think quickly - "It's corn that turkeys eat."

To which he says, "Ewwwww,.." (I don't know why this would be gross, but as I'm sweating right now and trying to change the subject, I don't worry about it.)

Then I say: "I know, it is kind of fowl!" Hahahahaha.

I then try and change the subject. "So,.. what kind of icecream does everyone want tonight???"

We listen to the three year old repeating "Turkey corn! Turkey corn! Turkey corn!" for the three hour drive home. The drive is only a mile? Well, let's just say it felt like three hours.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Thnking of Egypt

These days have been tough, hearing about the uprising in Egypt.

I was only there for a few years, but what a wonderful few years they were. My big J turned 2 and 3 there. He attended the most wonderful preschool where he learned Arabic (his most hated subject), was very popular (we were always late and the kids would line the cement block fence and chant his name - I'm finding that's the same for him these days, when at his 4.0 assembly for 8th grade, there was a disturbingly loud squeal from many girls as his name was called and he shuffled to the stage,..) The kids made beautiful, yummy powdered sugar crescent moon Rhamadan cookies as well as had Santa saunter in on camelback.

My little Z-man travelled to Egypt when he was just 3 weeks old. I will never forget hubby holding him against the door in the Olympia, Washington Kinkos' to get his passport photo taken. Having to hold his little head up, but hide his hand at the same time. The ignorant idiot yelling "why does he need a passport when he's so little?!?!" And us answering him: "So he can go home."

What is so mind-boggling to me is that I just recently read an article on how Egypt was on the top of the list of vacation spots. Then the next day, total chaos. We were there during another smaller uprising. The Isreali Ambassador, our neighbor in El Ma'adi where we lived, airlifted their family out at that time too. I told my work friend not to visit. We laid low for a while. Then, we were on the move to Luxor, K having just been born back in the states, me staying with my parents for a while, getting my bearings as a mother now with three small children, moving to a foreign country, a new city. My dad came home early from a meeting to let me know that the twin towers had toppled; I wouldn't know when or on what continent I'd see my husband again.
That prompted a move to the Philippines, to get out of what hubby's company at the time thought was too much of a liability - having the only American family in Luxor at the time.

I'm watching news, tweets and facebook closely. Reminicsing with old friends who have moved, checking in with others who are still there. Thinking about those who I have lost contact with over the years, hoping they know how much we are all rooting for them and praying they are safe.

A facebook post from a friend made me smile: "Al Jezeera reported gunfire in my old expat neighborhood in Cairo. They were trying to block the entrance to Ma'adi. Here's a repost about what's happening from a CNN reporter & former neighbor, Ben Wedemen: "My wonderful wife has handed out baseball bats, clubs, kitchen knives and tea to neighbourhood patrol."

I remember going through orientation with this woman, who at the time, who wasn't half the fierce warrior she sounds like she is now. I remember Wedemen getting shot while on field reporting duty in Israel; all of us ex pats coming to their aid - not that they needed it, they are strong people - and making sure they and their kids (very small at the time) were recovering okay. Saying hello at our neighborhood hangout - Cafe Greco -way better coffee than Starbucks (sorry!). I visited the real Cafe Greco in Italy and giving a picture of it to my hangout in Cairo.

Hearing that this is being thought of as a game changing event - the Berlin Wall, the Ayatollah in Iran loosing power,.. wow.

I hope this beautiful country pulls through. I know it will. Egypt has been around for a long time and they will continue to live strong, proud and beautiful.

Friday, January 21, 2011

What I Did for Christmas Vacation

Okay, that's a misleading title. Because first, I'm going to tell you what I didn't do for Christmas vacation - I didn't deal with a projectile vomiting infant on Christmas Eve, nor did I deal with taking a kid to the ER on Christmas Eve with croup. I didn't loose a child (although I did loose a couple of dogs, we'll get to that later), and I didn't embarrass myself in front of my children with a bunch of board games (although I did do that with adults).

What I did this Christmas vacation was get through it with the skin of my teeth, I flew on the wings of angels, I skirted imminent doom.

Let's start from the beginning, which would be the week we were prepping our own sleigh full of two large dogs, gazillions of presents and five tiny children. That week I was packing, taking the 14 year old to his last physical therapy, getting him to the doctor to get his leg brace removed, making sure that the 9 year old's newly rebuilt front teeth were okay (that's a post for another time,..) and planning his last neuro/psych testing, squeezing a little work in, getting the dogs groomed so I could stand to be in close quarters with them for two whole days, dealing with the last of the football banquets, attending the Christmas performance for two preschoolers and oh yeah, doing laundry so I had something to pack.

The morning before the morning we were slated to drive up from So Cal to the grey Northwest, I got woken up at 3:30am. Not from one of the wee-est babes, but from the 11 year old. Okay, seriously, my first thought was "Really?!?" as I rolled my eyes and stomped into his room. Now, cut me some slack. I'd just come off of a week long bout with the newly turned three-year-old who sported a 103 degree fever for that entire time. I was a tired momma.

The 11 year old was crying and saying his stomach hurt. I did what every blue blooded mother would do and ran down the laundry list of home cures each time he called me into his room: try to go to the bathroom again; have a drink of water; here, eat a cracker; Omigawd, take this antacid; for criminey's sake, it's now 4:30 and I have to wake up in 30 minutes to work, come to bed with me, justgobacktosleep.

By 4:45am we were downstairs with him on the coach, me clenching my teeth warming up my computer and searching WebMD. Daddy had left for work.

By this time the kid is begging me to call the doctor. I feel bad interupting said doctor, as I'm afraid to be classified as a stalker, or some sort of freakish attention seeker. Remember, I had just been to said doctor with the three year old for her fever. I was sure she had pnemonia - but it was simply a virus, just had to wait it out. We go there so often the doctor recognizes my voice on the phone. We are known collectively when we visit as "the family." I wasn't about to just pick up the phone and call about a tummy ache.

By 5am I couldn't stand it anymore and called the doc. She recommended we go to the ER straight away. The ER is about 30 minutes away, three towns down. I called hubby. He agreed to turn around on his way up to the mountain for his last day of work until the next year, and meet me at a local gas station to do a little relay race with the kid.

I shook my almost 13 year old awake, told him he was in charge, and I'd be right back. Drove 11 year old to daddy, handed him off, and called the babysitter, who arrived a half hour earlier than she was hoping. Called preschool and told them I wouldn't be able to work in class that day. Called yet another doctor and told them I wouldn't make it for my other son's appointment. Stuck hair up in a ponytail, ate some toothpaste, found some shoes and hit the road.

On the freeway, the texts started coming - "Does Z eat dirt?" "How about pencils?"

A few minutes go by, then the text "It's his appendix." I respond "wow."

Next text, "he's scheduled for surgery this afternoon." I respond "WOW."

Then the last text, "But we can still leave tomorrow as planned." I respond (we are all adults here, right?) "WTF?"

To which I get a hurried text "But we don't have to."

Kid is in surgery before noon, I call my friend who is a nurse at the hospital and she holds our hands.

Find out it is a Seventh Day Adventist hospital, which means there is no meat, which I can deal with, but also NO CAFFIENE. This is such a departure from all the Catholic Hospitals I've become accustomed to, having had three babies and a foot operated on in them; there's a Starbucks in each one and I think also a wine bar in the reception area. But my friend hooks me up and we find the coffee pots stashed around the floors with real coffee in them. I'm saved.

The kid does great, his nurse hits him with so much morphine I feel like I'm in that Bill Murray movie Groundhog Day, every couple hours he gains consciousness and asks me the same questions, "Did they take out my appendix?" "Where's daddy?" (there is no glory for a mother,..)

I spend the night and am so exhausted I actually feel like I got a good night's sleep.

We leave the next morning and go home, so I can continue to drug my son and pack. We don't leave the next day, but we leave the day after. We are every little bit of insane.

Now, there is divine providence here, or at least some serious grace happening here. I go white thinking about what would have happened had we been on the road and had to pull over to some rediclinic on the side of the freeway? It makes me realize how fortunate we have been to be safe on all the lunatic adventures we have taken our brood on, and that someone is watching over us and indeed, we are given all we can handle. Dengue fever and malaria? Okay. Burst appendix in some tropical country? Not so cool.

Then, if that wasn't enough, on the way home from our wonderful Christmas vacation we again escaped a horrible run - the Grapevine (I-5 north of L.A.) was closed. Now, if we had left the day before, we would have been trapped, on the side of the freeway, with literally thousands of other travellers. In freezing temperatures with five kids and two dogs. In a suburban. Over night. When I told hubby this, he started laughing. "Why are you laughing?" I asked him, getting a bit annoyed. "Because you're right," he responded. "It would have been horrible."

Instead, hubby had taken an extra day off work so we could enjoy New Year's Eve with our families. I'm so glad we did. What's a little side trip to Nevada on your way from Washington to California between family?

These Friends may be Geometrically Modern, but They aren't Square!

My friend's cutie patootie daughter in a photo shoot of their gorgeously remodeled 1940's Portland, Oregon bungalow, credit to Oh bungalow, I knew you when you were nothing but a hole in the mud,..

From now on I'm just going to post the absolutely fabulous things my friends accomplish and fantasize it was really me. Much easier than posting,... No, really, a new resolution this year is to blog more than once a year,...

But I digress, please read on!