Monday, July 30, 2007

Cell Phone Spam?
So, does anyone actually ever respond to cell phone text message spam? I am getting more and more of these, and they are really irritating. Some vendor has decided that they can use my text allotment, that I pay for, to send me messages about their great deals? They think I am going to respond in any positive manner? Seriously?

I haven't looked into this topic at all, but it seems like there should be a Do Not Call list for this sort of thing, too. Maybe the current Do Not Call Registry does apply to text messages. Someone/some computer is dialing my number.

...OK, I couldn't just leave it at that without providing answers./

From The Privacy Rights Clearinghouse:

What can I do if I am receiving spam text messages on my cell phone?

Beginning in 2004, the federal CAN-SPAM law made it illegal to send unsolicited commercial text messages. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has compiled a list of websites to which marketers may not send unsolicited e-mail because the messages go to wireless devices. This list
was compiled with the help of the cell phone carriers.

If you are receiving unwanted messages, it is important to notify your phone carrier so they can get an idea of the scope of the problem. But remember, text messages from your phone carrier regarding your account are not considered "spam" within the meaning of the law.

You can report unwanted text messages to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The FCC cannot award monetary or other damages and does not settle individual consumer complaints, but it can issue citations or impose fines against those violating the CAN-SPAM Act, the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, the National Do-Not-Call Registry, and the FCC's related rules.

You may file a complaint with the FCC by:
E-mail : Online : Telephone : Voice (888) CALL-FCC, or (888-225-5322) TTY (888) TELL-FCC, of (888-835-5322) Mail : Federal Communications Commission Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau Consumer Inquiries and Complaint Division 445 12th Street, SW Washington, DC 20554

So, there you have it :)
Here are the results from one of those fun quizzes.
Thanks to Patti_Cake!

You Belong in 1981

Wild, over the top, and just a little bit cheesy. You're colorful at night - and successful during the day.

And that was so fun - here's another:

Your Element Is Earth
You excel at planning and strategizing.You could be a champ at chess or Survivor.
Well grounded, you are able to be realistic and rationalize.On the inside, you have a hard core. It's tough to phase you.
You are super productive, and you are able to think anything through.Focused and super charged, your instincts are a good guide for your next step.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Random Friday
No, this is not yet a regular feature....but maybe it will be. I do get a lot of random thoughts passing through my mind and there is no good reason I should not undburden myself, I mean SHARE MY THOUGHTS, with you.

I'm at work now, and am the only person here. I've been here for an hour. This is not a particularly interesting observation yet, but stay with me. Does it ever occur to others in situations like this that you could crank your music and have it blasting throughout the office? Again, maybe not so interesting for those working in a small office. I work at a major university in a decent-sized building, so the thought of blasting some Melissa Etheridge throughout the Administration wing/Dean's office area kind of amuses me. (I'm really easily amused.)

I did not realize until quite recently that not all coffee pots brew coffee at the same temperature. At one end of the hall, thre is a coffee pot from which I can easily drink coffee just moments after it is brewed, but at the other end, it is damn hot immediately after being brewed. Painful lesson. (Yes, I realize I should not drink directly from the pot.)

Shout out to Nikk who is at the end of her first week at a rockin' new job! Hope it was a great week! Check your email.

Hey - someone else is here. I am no longer alone. That's what the voices keep telling me, anyway.

Did the US President really sign an executive order this week that essentially strips all meaning from our Constitution, renders our justice system meaningless, and spits in the face of the ideals upon which our country was founded? Check out the story here. Why do we have to get news of what is going on in our country from other countries?

Well, where can I go from there? I'll just leave you all to ponder.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

What's a blogger to do?
Blog more! I've mentioned this before, but isn't the blogging phenomenon amazing? Millions of us are pouring private and not-so-private information out there into the blogosphere, waiting to be read by anyone who happens by, and anyone we've actually encouraged to read our ramblings. Many, many, many of us now have virtual friends, known only through their blogs, that we check in on daily, or at the very least, weekly.

Lots of companies have caught onto this wild wave and are paying us crazy bloggers to blog even more, and they help us out by providing a topic and a little incentive cash. Cool deal, yes? One of the companies I have signed up with is PayPerPost. I am excited to have been accepted by them, since if you research the topic of getting paid to blog, you will see they are considered the most reliable "pay you to blog" companies and the one with whom people are really making some money.

Now, as I have also mentioned, I won't write about a topic I have no interest in, or promote a product I think is trash. I feel like I owe people who spend their free time reading my blog the decency of being honest. Anyone can write pretty much anything on any topic, but I believe that word of mouth ethics, being honest about what I am passing along, is important. So far PayPerPost seems like a straight-shooting company, asking for honest reviews, and I've read only good things about their reputation and payment policies. So, I am excited to give them a try! Wife and I have already bought a new camera with blogging dollars and I would love to save up for a Disneyland vacation! Keep reading, and I'll keep writing!

I'm a photo slacker
The new camera we got has resulted in a lot of great new photos - beach shots, trips to the Water Resource Center, our fish hatchery outing, painting and more. (Wow - we've had a busy week or so!) Since I am a slacker when it comes to posting these wonderful shots, taken mostly by my wife, I thought I would just post this reminder to check out the photos from the past week on her blog.

Mayonnaise sandwich anyone?
You know how some people eat cheese sandwiches - just cheese and mayo between two pieces of bread? Kind of a typical kid lunch item, right? Others like bread and butter, not as a sandwich, just as a snack or side dish. Our Baby Girl has taken a liking - a BIG liking - to what she has termed "mayonnaise sandwiches." Mayo on bread is really what this is. She will pick the soft part of the bread, the part with the mayo on it, out of the slice and eat only that part, leaving the crusts behind. She LOVES it. Not exactly a great start to condiment preferences in life, but what are you going to do? Next week, she'll be onto something else.

Growing up, I remember instead of bread with butter with a meal, my dad liked bread with Miracle Whip. We were a Miracle Whip family. (Mom liked Mayo, but always got Miracle Whip since it is what Dad liked.) I still prefer Miracle Whip, but we buy both since Wife likes Mayo. Every now and then I test the kids to see which they prefer. So far, Boy prefers Miracle Whip and Baby Girl likes both, but requests "Mayonnaise sandwiches."
Disneyland blog up and running :)
So, I am having fun with my Disneyland Family Vacation blog. It is fun to relive the memories of past vacations and dream of our next Disney adventure. We've only been to Disneyland, but someday, we do plan to visit Disneyworld, in Florida. It sounds so huge and wonderful - and like we'd need at least 10 days to do it all. The Disney resort hotels look so fun down there. I love hotels! It would also be fun to have an Orlando vacation home. That would make visits to Disneyworld much more frequent, and affordable, and real estate is generally a good investment. Something to consider someday!
New Shoes
Ever since she was, I don't know, 16 months old, Baby Girl has loved her Crocs. OK, they are cheaper knock-off shoes, but they look the same. She is comfortable in them, and gets them on the correct feet, and they are cute, so we have indulged her. She occasionally puts on a pair of "princess" shoes (party dress shoes), or cute sandals, but the ones she really wears are her Crocs. She has assorted colors. This weekend, she actually picked out a non-Croc pair of shoes to buy. We were at the Bass outlet store, she saw some shoes, and had to have them. She tried on two different colors and was in love with the brown ones with pink trim....they look a bit like a bowling shoe to me. I am sure they have a fancy name that I just don't know. Anyone who knows me knows I know nothing about fashion. We bought them since it is the first time in MONTHS that she's been interested in anything other than Crocs. Wow - next thing you know she will be picking out hiking books, Air Jordan high tops, or high heels. I will draw the line at high heels on my two-year old.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Taking the time to breathe and appreciate
I was in a bit of a cranky mood yesterday, had been dealing with a headache all day long, and then was short with my son when he got out of the bathtub and ran all over the house without drying off (for at least the 50th time in the past month, it seemed). My wife reminded me that he is only 5 and can't remember everything we tell him. He's still little and sometimes my expectations are too high. She was right. I need to step back a bit and breathe sometimes.

I used to know this, and practice it really well. I used to give new moms the advice about just enjoying your baby all you can, even when tired or cranky or not really in the mood to enjoy. I used to be great at living in the moment and appreciating what IS - right then and there. Then I started law school, and much of my former patience was worn thin. That's not fair to my son, my family, or me. I'm going to work on that.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Blogging for Dollars
Yes, yes, I am doing some blogs for money. Call me names, make me feel cheap, say I sold out, then hear about the awesome that we bought with the money we've made from getting paid to blog. Check out the increase in my traffic. As I have mentioned before, getting a few bucks to work in a key phrase while still writing in an honest way about my life seems like a great thing. It makes me write more, which makes me a better blogger and gives my readers more to read. A lot of companies have found it pays to do blog advertising and I am happy to help them while they help me. Win-win-win situation all around, from my perspective. I may never make huge bucks doing this because even though I like to get paid to blog, I do not want to turn this into a review site because frankly, I wouldn't be that interested in a lot of the review opportunities out there. I'll do some though, if I can find a way to relate it to my life so that it keeps it interesting for me and for my readers. For instance, is a company that pays people to blog. I have done a few assignments for them - such as the one about the chair lifts, and was able to relate it to what Casey and I have been going through with our parents. Smorty has been a good company to work with so far - and paid within two weeks, actually less. If you are interesting in getting paid to blog, you might want to check them out.
Need a Part-Time Truck
Well, what I really mean is that we need a truck occassionally, but hey, a car that could be a truck sometimes seems like a good idea, too! We have an SUV and a Scion xA. Love them both. With all the rain we get, and all the stuff we often haul with us (stroller, toys, laptop computer, diapers...etc.) having an open-bed truck makes very little sense. Sometimes though, you just need to haul stuff. A nice pick-up with a truck bed liner would be ideal for taking things to the dump, bringing lumber and sand and a barbecue home from Home Depot, taking the lawn mower in for service, picking up great deals at garage sales..etc. I have a friend who has a neighborhood truck that about 3 or so friends went in on so they can all have use of it whenever. Seems like a good idea to me! I thought Flexcar might resolve the problem, but ends up the closest pickup for use is about 20 miles away. Hardly convenient. Well, fortuantely, you can get a heckuva lot more in the back of a Suzuki XL-7 than one at first suspects!

Friday, July 20, 2007

My New Blog - Disneyland Family Vacation

Hey friends, a couple years back, before law school started, I had a great website. It was all about creating the perfect Disneyland family vacation - lots of tips, ideas, money saving strategies, and ways to have fun during all phases of your Disneyland vacation. I had also written an e-guide and was doing testing via this site. The guide got great reviews, but I never made it available to the public since law school started and that was the end of my free time.

Well, I'm going to try it again - sort of. I've decided to blog about my dreams, stories, and travel tips regarding Disneyland. I hope to use this as a forum for generating new ideas and soliciting feedback in order to rewrite my ebook, which I now see could be even better than it was. (Maybe law school is paying off already!)

So - love Disneyland? Check out my new blog!

You will find it here: Disneyland Family Vacation
Cute T-Shirt:
I saw this recently on a toddler-sized T-shirt -
Warning: I do all my own stunts

That is SO both of our children! Daredevils through and through, without the age and widsom to make them fear anything. Ugh! Our couches have become trampolines, climbing structures and cliffs which to dive off of without use of parachute or bungee cord. They also double as tents and forts. We allow this, with some safety limitations - both for the kids' sakes and that of the structural integrity of the furniture. I think we need some very attractive, but industrial grade home furniture that could handle what our kids can dish out!
The Ideas are Always Flowing...
Wife and I are continuing our quest for more funds. I'm looking into options for selling hard copy and ebooks. I think she should make her blog book suitable for sales - I think it could be really comforting for a lot of stay-at-home-moms. I love writing, have lots of ideas, but always seem short on time.

We've recently started his blogging for money thing. Between the two of us, I think we're getting close to the $100 per week mark, which for our family, really makes a difference. We both stick to topics we can write in a genuine manner about, or we don't do it. For me, it is really increasing my consistency of blogging, which I think is a good thing.

I've come across a couple other ideas I'm exploring. We used to have a pet gift basket site, back before kids. We had great information about pets, and sold gift baskets with items for both pets and their people. One major glitch for a lot of folks wanting to start an online business is figuring out how to set up a shopping cart, so customers can buy their products.

Fortunately, there are a lot of companies offering ecommerce software. One company is - it offers full hosting, shopping cart services, tech support, and so much more. When you first start researching how to start an online store, there is so much to consider, but a company like this one has thought through so much of it for you that it leaves you time to be creative and worry about other things besides store set-up. Even though there are free and low cost services out there, these are rarely easy or work well. It is worth paying to have ecommerce services done quickly, easily and correctly.

I like that Ashop is set up to accept coupons, do gift certificates,and has its own affiliate program built in. They also have online movie tutorials, which makes setting up your storefront, and all related features much easier than trying to read it in text format. Ashop has different price levels to meet basic to more advanced needs. Considering all the features and services they offer, I would definitely consider them if I was about to set up an online store again.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Back from the Beach!
We are back from a great trip to the Oregon Coast! We went to a beach we'd never been to, Rockaway Beach, and had better beach access than ever before. The beach was just down a short path from the hotel. Now, I know a lot of places say "short path to the beach" and they are not short. This was MAYBE a 20 foot easy path, not steep, not rocky...and the water was right there.....not another 100 yard hike. So perfect! Our room was oceanfront - with a private deck - a separate bedroom (2 queen beds total) for getting the kids down early - a kitchen area and was very good sized. I could handle it being a bit cleaner, with linens and pillows that felt less "used" (skin crawling now, right?), but the view sure made up for the few shortcomings. We had an unbelievable sunset the first night. There was clearly a bear in the clouds. :) See pictures at Wife's blog. There are likley to be lots of beach stories and photos on her blog for the next several days. We took a TON of photos, especially since we have a new camera to experiment with - fun!

Anyway, great weather and lots of splashing around and digging in the sand with the kids. Just what we both needed!
Kids and Balls
What is it about balls that attracts kids like flowers attract bees? As you may have read in my wife's blog, we like to shop while on vacation. We love looking at the local art, nicknacks, T-shirts - anything that we can't easily pick up at home. (Of course, it's not easy to browse with children, but we keep the dream alive - always believing it will be easier than it is.) We tell the kids we will not buy them the things we could easily get at home. Fortunately, tourist traps often carry an assortment of cook kid stuff in addition to adult things. You've probably never seen polished rocks for sale by the velvet pouch-full at the local Walmart! That's great stash when you are a kid...and I kind of like them, too. *grin*

While on vacation, we did end up at Fred Meyer to pick up a few grocery items and some sunscreen. We went to look at toys, which of course, are the same as back home. It never fails, one of the many items that attracted the Boy's attention was the ball aisle - golf balls, baseballs, softballs, footballs, and his favorite, this time, ping-pong balls.

"No, honey, we already have enough balls at home."

He settled on a Transformer to add to his current collection of three.

Baby Girl got a small Care Bear.

Well, at least they couldn't easily bounce them against the walls of the hotel!
It shouldn't all be about money...
...but sometimes it feels that way, doesn't it? We just spent a bunch of money at the beach, and there is always something coming up that requires more money. Law school is like that. My tuition alone will be just under $100K and then considering books, living expenses, transportation...all of that...I'm looking at $150K in loans. UGH!

Once you pick yourself up off the floor, please continue reading....

Eventually we will be looking into school loan consolidation. We already get a lot of calls at the house, and as soon as we tell them I still have two years left, they say they will call back closer to my graduation. Sooner than I expect though, it will be time to listen to those callers and figure out how to evaluate a consolidation program. Do I use the company who most of my loans are through, or another company? I am sure there will be no shortage of companies willing to have me pay them interest for 10 years. I don't know if certain companies offer better incentives if you have on-time payments for X number of months, but I am guessing since the original loans do, consolidation loans might, too. Does anyone have any experience with consolidation loans? My parents and me, via summer jobs and scholarships, paid for my undergrad education, so I didn't have to think about this stuff back then. Thank goodness they have such programs though since the individual payments would really add up to some very unrealistic payments! Guess we have some time to shop....never know what will be being offered by May of 2009!

Friday, July 13, 2007

Well, generally I prefer to plan and dream and work on the vacation experience for a while so I can savor the experience. This week though, I am just ready to escape to the beach, and my family is so on board they were willing to leave early without me! We leave Sunday for Rockaway Beach on the Oregon Coast. It it near Tillamook, as in the cheese. If you have never been on their factory tour, you have missed possibly one of the most boring and disappointing tours of all time. It could be so good. It is not. Anyway, we are staying at a place someone recommended to my wife. Their prices were more reasonable than many and, they had oceanfront rooms left! No point in going to the beach if you can't see the ocean from your room is my philosophy. Wife's best friend will be there during the same time - totally a coincidence - so how great is that?

So, I expect to be out of communication until next Thursday, unless this place has unadvertised wireless access. I'll be wishing you all a safe and relaxing weekend.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

One Day at A Time
Remember that show from the 70's? Fun show. That's not what this post is about.

It has been a really long week. How is it only Thursday? My dad has only been gone for three days. Somehow it seems longer ago that than. Time is really distorted right now. Casey's mom has been gone for 2 months yesterday. That seems like a lifetime ago in a totally different world, and in some ways, it was. Weird how such emotional experiences twist our sense of time.

I know I have been more physically and emotionally drained than I really ever remember. I guess I was pretty exhausted after the births of our children, partly because of a long labor (first child) and because both ended up in the NICU for a few days. That had such joy attached with it too, though, so was different. Generally by lunch time, I’ve about had it and just need a nap. Not that I get one, because I am at work (no paid bereavement leave), but I have gone outside to rest in the sun a bit each day. By the time we get the kids to bed at 7 or 7:30, I am so happy to pull the blinds, turn on the TV and veg out watching The Gilmore Girls with Casey. There is a certain comfort in watching this familiar show we've watched together for years. It's like hanging with old friends. Hey - we take comfort where we can!
Inappropriate snacks
What is it about putting a bowl of dry Premium dog food on the counter that makes others, besides the dog, think that it is theirs to eat? Each night, by bedtime, we set out the dog food in their bowls for the next morning, plus the cat food bowls, a can of cat food, and our own vitamins, juice glasses and bowls for the morning. (Not all mixed together - we do have some standards.) This makes functioning in an efficient manner in the morning much easier, which is good since I get up at 5:00am.

(Also, before you judge, this is a big counter, so that when you are on one side of it, it almost feels like you are not even in the kitchen anymore. It doesn't seem so bad putting the dog food up there.)

It may be unrealistic, but I expect the dog food to remain in the bowls until I give it to the dogs. However, at least one of our cats, and I suspect others, have a different idea. They think it is great that I've set out these snack bowls for them, and will pick out pieces to messily munch on top of the counter. At first I was not sure how dog food was getting out of the bowl, especially since these are big pieces and the only cat that generally gets on the counter is teeny-tiny 7-10 lb Taz. Surely this dainty creature would not eat huge dog kibble. Wrong. I saw her do it the other night. Went right to the bowl and started snacking.

"No! Don't leave dog food crumbs on the counter, and, if I were you, I wouldn't let the dogs see me eating their food!"

Well, at least Baby Girl has mostly stopped snacking from the bowl. That had happened a few times, too. Just too much!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Female Trait, Male Trait, or Simply Human Trait?
Again, thank you all so much for the wonderful support you have been sending my way. I truly appreciate it - and it is so heartwarming to see both the names of people I know, and those of new friends. Technology truly is making ours a small world, isn't it?

As might be imagined, with my dad's passing, I have been contemplating grief lately - my own, those of my family, people in general. The last time I visited my dad I read the book hospice provided about their services and the grieving and mourning process. I'd never really considered that there were two different things going on there, but they defined them and at the time, it made sense. Now, I'd have to go do a Google search to refresh my mind, or to educate my loyal readers. Oh, OK......I'm back....a quick search tells me that grieving is the physical/emotional feeling of the loss and mourning is how those feelings are expressed. That sounds reasonable, although the hospice book had a better definition. Anyway, I was thinking about how I've heard my family talking about the grieving process - "crying," "letting it out," "allow yourself to feel," being "OK" and it was surprising to hear some female members of my family saying they've never felt free to really lose control and just cry - ever. I think as a society we generally think of this as a typical male approach, but maybe that's not so. Maybe many females, of all generations, have also accepted this idea. Though, I will say, there was at least one expression of if they ever allowed themselves to totally let go they fear not being able to come back. So, maybe from a female perspective it is less a fear of looking weak than of not being able to regain control and independence if they give in to such powerful emotions.

I know from my own perspective, it it difficult to admit when I need support and am not OK. It is such an ingrained reaction: "How are you doing?" "OK." Overall, considering the situation, that is true. I am OK - but sometimes it is less true than others. I have a great friend who has been a wonderful support during all of this, calling me at all the most crucial moments, thanks to Casey's blog, and she lets me be NOT OK. I don't know if it's hard for all women, or most, or just some, or if it's the darn overpowering testosterone that Casey claims makes me have some fairly annoying male tendencies, but even with this friend, it is often hard to admit I just need a friend to talk to. So, in the patten of men bonding over a football game or fishing trip, I call her for "no reason." We talk family, jobs, inconsequential things like wardrobe size, stables, range hoods , and drinking in Mexico. Not much is said - a lot is said - it makes a world of difference. We all need support, whether or not we want to admit it, or know how to ask for it. Thank God I have a supportive family and a friend who will talk to me about "nothing."

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

My Dad
As most of my loyal readers (and Casey's!) know, my dad passed on to another phase in his soul's journey yesterday morning. Although in some ways the past three months since his cancer diagnosis have gone by quickly and it doesn't seem like we had much time, as his family, we are relieved that we knew the end was coming so we could spend the last bit of time with him and say goodbye. We are also relieved that he went as quickly as he did, and did not linger in pain. It's so weird, how an immenent death brings people together to spend the quality time with each other that maybe they should have before the person was dying. I've gone all around with this one in my mind. Sure, there is some guilt that I didn't try harder to know my father once I become an adult, but I know it is misplaced and useless. Mostly I can reconcile this with knowing that when we were both healthy, it was both of our responsibilities to make the relationship better, but once he was unable to get out of bed, I was the only one that could do anything, so I did what I could. If I was dying, I know I'd want my children around me, and I know he appreciated me visiting and being around until the end. It was good for us both. (Please note, we did not have a "bad" relationship, just not a well-developed one.)

This is my dad, about a year ago, with the kids and me. It's not exactly the way I remember him, since in my mind he'll always be younger, and not have the stiff posture of his last several years since breaking his neck, but still, it is Dad:

My dad was a huge Johnny Cash fan. During his last days, whenever I was in his room, I played a Johnny Cash CD that I'd brought in from my car. I'm not much of a country music fan anymore, though I have had my phases. This is a CD I enjoy though, and bought sometime in the past year mostly because it reminds me of my dad. It's a great CD called "The Legend of Johnny Cash" and it spans his entire career. I know he would have liked it, and I hope it gave him comfort as he was preparing to leave. I know it comforted me, since it reminded me of listening to Johnny Cash with my dad when I was a kid. Johnny and my dad are inextricably linked in my mind, something about the music and the powerful voice and personality, and some other essence that I never will be able to explain, nor do I need to.

I found a video of Johnny Cash from the mid-90's. I wish I could post it here, but since I can't, here is the link:

If you've got an inkling that you might enjoy a short Johnny Cash song, listen in on this, and send out some good thoughts for my dad, wherever he is now.

Kids and sleeping
Those things need to go better together than they do around our house.

Some families have kids that sleep through the night practically from birth. Not ours. Our five-year-old still wakes up in the middle of the night. That part is actually good, because it is usually to go to the bathroom, and then, more often than not, crawls in bed with me. By that time, Wife has gone into Baby's room because she is awake and wanting to nurse, which if she had her choice, she'd do all night long. I have had conversations with Baby Girl about this behavior. The conversations are about how big girls do not need to nurse at night and they need their sleep, and so do mommies. She usually compromises at babies need to nurse "little tiny bit." Good thing she is adorable!

Funny the way kids sleep all over the bed, first one direction then another. We, as parents, tend to make their sheets and covers all nice and neat around them, tucking them in so they appear neat and cozy. Then, soon, the covers are thrown off and the child is diagonal across the bed, sleeping all over the stuffed animals and blankets in a way that does not look comfy at all. We spend time and money on color-coordinated, nice fitting kids bedding, but sometimes I think they'd be just as happy with a pile of pillows and assorted baby blankets thrown in the corner. That is about what they've been taking into their tent in the backyard these days, and I must say, it is quite comfy! A couple days ago, I laid in their tent with them on this pile of comfy stuff, and we watched the clouds go by. It was very peaceful.
Longing for the Ocean
Here's a question for you - is Puget Sound part of the ocean? Are the San Juan Islands in the Ocean? I will say "yes" to both. The ocean water flows in and around each, so they do qualify.

Anyway, as many of you have noted, Casey and I have had a rough time lately. We are both emotionally and physically drained and in need of some rejuvenation. Why didn't we invest in a nice piece of real estate on the ocean, or in the Islands, several years ago? Then we'd have our waterfront retreat to escape to at times like this. We didn't think we had the money back then....back when we both had jobs and a fair amount of discretionary income....but compared to our single-income life now? We had the money. OK, maybe not for waterfront property, but you know, one wise investment, and we could have turned it over for a profit and bought up from there.....Nice to dream.

Well, we will certainly be getting up at least very near the San Juan Islands in the not too distant future, as that is where we will be scattering my dad's ashes. No matter where that ritual happens, my dad will always be very much a part of the San Juan Islands, and I have no doubt his spirit will visit there often.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Thanks for the thoughts
Wow. I was so moved by all the support from our cyber-friends. I know many of you are loyal readers of Casey's blog. It was so nice of you to drop by to offer your thoughts and wishes at this tough time. I really appreciate it. As of tonight, my dad is still in this world, physically, at least. Spiritually, we are pretty sure he has mostly checked out, perhaps stopping by his body every now and then to see what's happening. I tell you, in his body is not where I'd want to be right now if I was him either, so I hope he's not there much. He seems mostly like he is sleeping very peacefully - and has not been truly conscious for 5-6 days now. My sisters, my mom, and his long-time woman-friend (he and Mom have been divorced for over 20 years) have all had our chances to spend time saying final things that needed to be said, and saying goodbye. We've taken our turns moistening his lips, applying skin care products to the dry patches on his face, holding his hands and playing music for him. Can you ever be ready for what comes next? Maybe not, but I guess I am as ready as can be and it is clear he is not really alive anymore, his body just hasn't quite caught up with that reality, yet.

Again, thank you all for your support.

Nikk - Casey says it's not creepy that you are stalking us through our blogs unless you never post anything. So, you have to come out of hiding and throw in a smart *ss comment every now and then, OK? Thanks, pal.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

The Circle of Life Sucks
It finally really hit me on an emotional level yesterday - my dad is dying. I've known this for a while now, but yesterday on my way to visit him at his new home at a hospice facility, it just suddenly seemed very overwhelming. My wife, who just went through this with her mom, had said I'd soon understand what she was going through. I'm thinking I did not need to understand. Yesteday, as I was leaving our house, promising the kids I'd be back soon so we could have 4th of July fun, I felt like I should be taking flowers or pictures or something to make his room more "homey." I was just so sad and felt so helpless. I started crying and soon my son grabbed some paper and Pens, declaring he would make some pictures for me to take. He made a great drawing, and so did our baby girl, and my wife printed out a nice family picture and put it in a frame for me to take. My dad was sleeping when I arrived, and I decorated his room for him - or maybe for me, for my sisters, and for the nursing staff so they will know he has family that loves him. It's weird thinking how I'll be bringing those things home in less than a month, maybe within a week. Hard to know with these things. Anyway, I've not been that close with my dad since I was a kid, but still, this sucks.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

The sweet smell of vacation...
is rather sadly lacking from our lives this summer. Lots of folks are on vacation this week. Work is rather empty. Traffic is light, which is nice. With all the job drama, and various extended family issues - first Casey's mom, and now my dad - it has been really hard to plan a get-away. We still hope to do something in August, but in the mean time, we are enjoying our own backyard. We've been enjoying a lot of barbecued meals, eating outside, playing on the swingset (kids, not adults), and in the blow-up pool (kids and adults. OK - one adult mostly - me!) It's nice to let the kids run around and burn off their energy, especially since the temps have been moderate. Our hot weather is starting though. It may get 90 today, or tomorrow, anyway. Soon we'll be saying, "It's too hot outside." When I get hot I try to remember that if I was in Disneyland, in the same temperature, I'd be soaking it in and loving it. So, very few complaints will be heard from me.

So, it's local fun for now, but you can bet I will be dreaming about the day when we can pack up our Samsonite luggage, and go on a REAL vacation!
Isn't that a weird word: chandeliers? Happenstance. That's weird, too. Conundrum. That's weird, too, but I like it. Ever notice how if you repeat a word too many times it loses it's meaning? Pick a word and try it.


Remember the episode of Rosanne when she and Dan are stoned and keep repeating their child's name: DJ. Deeeee Jaaaaaay.....Deeeeeeee Jaaaaaaay.....Deeeeeee Jaaaaaaaay. It lost all meaing for them. You don't have to be stoned for words to lose their meaning though. Just repetitive, and in an odd mood.

OK, here's a tidbit for you - I have never been stoned. It's true. Last quarter I had a fellow law student come up to me and say, "You know when you are stoned and you.....blah, blah, blah? I agreed, because I did know what she was talking about. I later thought how I had kind of misrepresented myself, but it wasn't like me pointing out that I'd never been stoned would have helped her make the point she was trying to make, plus she seemed kind of embarrassed. I didn't want to make it worse. Anyway, apparently I don't need drugs to achieve an altered state. My wife tells me my mind is a scary place pretty much all the time. No point in adding to the confusion!
Indoor plants and other stuff I don't have time for -
Plants make a home really nice - pretty, green, doing the whole carbon dioxide-to-oxygen thing, adding a touch of nature, alive...well, maybe not that part. Seems like since having kids all of our plants have..uh....gone away. We still have three that are barely hanging in there. A couple fell victim to curious baby hands, some just didn't get enough water/food/attention, and truthfully, our current house is not well set up for plants. The sunny locations are in front of windows that do not have room near them for plants. My plant at work does pretty well. It sits in front of my window and I always remember to water it because it is part of my morning routine as I ease into work without doing any real work. Home - not so much the same.

Do you think anyone has come up with silk trees that purify our air, yet? The fake ones - those we could maintain - as long as they don't need dusting or other cleaning. On the other hand, with all the animals, and the kids, one never really knows what will take a beating in our home and what will be ignored. Ah, it is a new adventure everyday!

Monday, July 02, 2007

Cooking with Toddlers
How fun is it when your babies start getting big enough to "help" you cook? Pretty darn fun! Yesterday Baby Girl and I decided that her new pretty pasta that is shaped like flowers would be a good thing to cook for dinner for her and her brother. (Wife and I were having barbecued steak!) "Me help cook," says the girl, grabbing the stool so she could climb up on the counter. I helped her up, sat her on the counter and got out the new box of pasta.

"Do you want some of these before they are cooked?" I asked. Of course, she did. So, I gave her a few to play with and she put them into her new Dora and Diego paper bowls. I went about my business of filling a pan with water, turning on the stove, getting out salad makings while the water was getting hot, and finally put the pasta into the boiling water.

"Mine too." Baby Girl hands me her bowl.

"You want me to cook your pasta in my pan?"

"No, cook in bowl." Apparently she thought the Dora bowl would make good cookware.

"No, we can't cook in this bowl. We have to use Mama's pan, but you can eat them out of your bowl when they are cooked."

That made her happy, and we didn't even run through the nearly endless session of "Why?" that has become a regular part of our routine.

It was simple. No big deal, but fun - just me and my daughter cooking together. Wow. I've hardly ever called her my "daughter." She's always been "the baby." She must be growing up. That's somehow happy and sad all at the same time. She is becoming such a fun-loving character, and I do mean "character." Hard to believe not long ago she was a clingly, shy introvert. Ah, she is coming into her own.
The purpose of life
Wow. That is a heavy topic start a Monday morning with, and me, without even having had a cup of coffee! What am I thinking? I heard something on the radio this morning, I don't even remember what, but it was about how we think about people. What do people think of us, how have we affected people, what will people remember about us when we are gone?

I used to think it was important to make a BIG mark in the world. Part of me still thinks that, but ultimately, does that even really matter? Sure - if you invented electricity or indoor plumbing, OK, that was really important for the world, but most of the big marks get erased before long and what is left? I came to the conclusion that we are here to have fun and make others happy.

How's that? Life is about having fun. Sure, it would be nice to be a great _____ "fill in the blank," to be rich, to have a luxury home, a vacation house on the beach, money to spoil your family and friends, and even to support lots of good causes, but is that what life is about? That could be part of it, but if you aren't having fun, laughing with people, loving your family and friends, what is the point? Hanging out on the luxury yacht alone won't be much fun. Telling your cat about your big win won't be particularly rewarding. Big success and financial gain is great, but hanging out in your backyard with a bottle or two of wine, your wife and a few good friends has more meaningful rewards.

So - message for the day - relax and have fun!