Saturday, August 29, 2009

"Working" Vacation

As most of you know, last week, I was gone on a sort of vacation. I say "sort of" because for the first part, I was (happily, just unexpectedly) a personal attendant for my friend, E, at her wedding, and the second part, I was partially there just to do whatever my Mama needed while she is still recovering from her recent surgery.

When I got into FAR on Thursday night, the bridal party and some miscellaneous friends & family were hanging out by the pool (bride & groom had a poolside room that night). I finally got to meet her man, her 10 yo daughter (K), and her soon-to-be daughter (A) who is 7 yo. The girls are wonderful and I adore her husband! We all finally got off to bed at midnight, but had a lot of fun.

Friday (wedding day) was extremely busy, of course. Hair appointments, room set-up, make-up, dresses & shoes, pictures, and (of course!) the wedding itself! I'm pretty sure that had I not been glued to E's side, she would have forgotten her veil, forgotten to eat, and punched the photographer in the nose. Luckily, I am a VERY organized person, and kept her in check while making sure her bridal party were where they needed to be (and when), her shoes were clean (I should have smacked the photog myself), and her hair/make-up/nails were perfect. Minor hitches, but the end result was beautiful -- traditional mixed with military... awesome.

Dinner was served afterward, speeches were made, and then there were many hours of dancing. I think that all of us ladies temporarily misplaced our shoes more than once that night, but we had a BLAST (and I <3 E's other friends, too). After the DJ closed up shop, a bunch of us pitched in to de-fancify the hall; we all dragged ourselves to our rooms at 1am.

Saturday morning, E called me at 830a and had me meet them in one of the conference rooms; it was present-opening time!! Many photos and cups of coffee later, and it was time for me to go. Her hubs told me that since they all get free (standby) seating on military flights, they'll be coming out here for a visit next year; he's never seen the beach! I reminded him about the family's beach house, and said that I'd LOVE to show them around the area!! That would be fantastic; our daughters would totally have a blast together!

I met up with Ace in DEN (a wedding is never a good time to meet someone for the first time, and, not only did he have to work, but, as busy as I was, it was a good thing he wasn't there; he'd have been bored!) and we headed to RAP to visit my parents. Dad met us at the airport and we drove to his campground ( -- it's a GREAT place). He gave us one of the cabins and a car, so we had full mobility during our stay.

Dinner was Chinese food that night, from Mama's favorite place. For those who aren't aware, she has been going through some medical issues and just got back from a serious surgery a couple weeks ago; making her very tired. This trip was somewhat just to see for myself that she was on the road to recovery, and that she wasn't going to die any time soon. When I originally got the news of her diagnosis, I was very scared, and had a good, long cry. This woman means the world to me; she's been my mama for almost 30 years!

Anyway, eating that night tired her out. It literally took her four tries just to finish a plate of shrimp fried rice! She's lost too much weight, and has to be reminded to eat on a regular basis. She takes a two-hour nap every day. It's not pretty, and I am even more in awe of my father for not having lost it yet.

Oh, forgot to mention, up until early August, Grandma had been living with them (age 96). Grandma's mental health has been slowly declining for the last 6 months, so they moved her into their place (instead of the cabin she'd had, across the path from their house) and got her hospice care 2 days a week. Still, with the campground busy (and currently for sale) along with mama's recovery, she was getting to be too much, so my aunt came to get her (she's a nurse) and took her back to Texas. There, she gets 5 days a week hospice and my aunt can leave to go to work (and escape the exasperating behaviors).

Ok, back to our visit. So, the other half was, of course, to see some sites we hadn't before. The last time Ace was out there was 2003 (when we did some tourist-y stuff, bought my engagement ring, and he asked my dad for his permission to marry me). The last visit I went was with Princess in 2005 for a mini-family reunion. There's been some expansion, but not a great deal, so the area is still beautiful, and most towns still have the small hometown feel to them.

Sunday, we had about 3 1/2 hours to kill before meeting up with my parents again, so we took a drive through Custer State Park. The lake there (Sylvan Lake) is beautiful (took a short walk on the path)! Then, we drove through part of the Needles Scenic Highway; two tunnels in this part are only wide enough for one car to pass through it at a time. The Wildlife Loop took us another 45 minutes, and we saw bison ("tahtanka" to the Lakota Indians), longhorn (mistakenly called "elk"), burros, etc. What a beautiful drive; definitely a recommend if you ever get out there (remember, though, the state park has a day use fee).

We then met up with my parents back at their house, and drove together to my sister's and her bf's house, back in Rapid City. J has a very nice house (as he should; he's paid very well for what he does)! They made a lot of food, and it was all good. Then, sis broke out the photo albums. Apparently, the parents gave her all their old photos to organize as she had the time and energy to do so. With a full time school schedule, as well as her job, there's not much of those, but she's put together a wedding album for my parents, a baby album for herself, and has started albums for all six of us "kids". I can't wait 'til they're done!!

When we got back, Dad went to close up shop at the office, so Ace and I went to the store for a few things. We knew there was a storm headed in, so we were fast about it, but still... as we left the grocery store, the wind kicked up and knocked a bunch of carts all over the parking lot! We picked them all up and got them corralled, then headed back to our porch to watch the storm. SD storms are different from storms in the Pacific Northwest, so it's always a joy to get to watch them. I even got a little video!

Monday, Ace and I had the whole day to ourselves. After getting our morning mochas, we started our little road trip with a helicopter ride over some bison and got a full-on view (from both sides of the copter) of the Crazy Horse monument. I'd never been in a helicopter before, so that was cool; I even got to sit up front and got some great photos!

We then took the main north/south highway to the main highway loop, and hit (among other things) Pactola Lake (pontooning there is fun), and the cities of Lead, Sturgis, and Deadwood. Along the way, there were waterfalls, wild animals, and a lot of windy roads. Ace decided that next time we go out there, we're bringing our motorcycle! This time, though, it won't be so long until our next visit!

Side note: Sturgis is just another small town when the Rally's not going on... but we still spent a good 2 1/2 hours there, checking stuff out. Lunch at the Loud American Roadhouse was AWESOME, and I highly recommend stopping there to eat, then heading over to the Motorcycle Museum before you leave. We finally returned to the campground at 530p; in good spirits.

Tuesday morning, we meandered downtown Custer and met up with the parents about 2 hours before our flight left. Both parents joined us on this leg, and it was nice to have the time to chat with them. Dad, of course, would love for us to move out there, but with Ace's two kids still in h.s., that's just not going to happen. Maybe when his kids are grown... we'll see.

Anyway, it was a good sort-of vacation. I got to see a long-distance friend and watch her get married, and I got to see my parents, which doesn't happen nearly as often as we'd like (Dad did mention, btw, that he likes this husband a thousand times better than the previous one; I, for one, have to agree). Next visit, we'll bring the Princess (Grandpa's orders!).

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


Or, just the "lights" part of that. Friday, after my BFF's mom did my hair (her shop is in Vancouver), BFF and I went to the best lighting store EVER! GLOBE LIGHTING has almost everything you could ever want. Kristi (the manager) is a crack-up, and a very good client of BFF's mom. Dann is Kristi's sales guy extraordinaire! While BFF & Kristi were busy cackling in the back areas, Dann followed me around with his little pad of paper, writing down all the SKUs of the stuff I liked.

There, we found three of the lights I need, and he took notes on a few others I had my eye on "just in case Ace wants..." (things I'd like to replace, but don't need to be just now). Kristi kicks such @$$ that she gave me a discount 'cuz of how much BFF's mom rocks! I took the printout Dann gave me when we were all done, thanked both him & Kristi, and proceeded to go home. I showed Ace on Saturday (you can look things up by item number on their website), and he liked what I chose... but wanted to see it all in person.

Monday, we decided to take my printout from the Vancouver GLOBE to the Beaverton store. Mike, the manager of the Beaverton one, helped us finalize our decisions. Since Kristi gave me a discount - which Mike honored as well - we weren't out any extra money, Dann got the sales credit, and we didn't have to drive all the way up to the 'Couv to get our lights! Everyone wins!

Since yesterday was Ace's last day off for the week, we took advantage and went to a couple more stores to get the rest of what we need as far as lighting is concerned. In addition to the stuff from GLOBE, we bought: a new main-kitchen fixture, a new set of track lights to go in where we currently have can/recessed lighting, and two matching lanterns for the front yard (with cool security features, btw). Lighting for the bedrooms will come later (probably when we get to painting them). I also already have everything I need to paint our ceiling.

Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday, we plan to rip out the deck & small garden, have our fascia boards redone, remove all the old lighting we're replacing inside, then prep & hopefully paint the main living areas' ceiling, and replace all the lighting with the new stuff. I can't (of course) replace the outdoor lighting until the painters are done next month. We also plan to get something better for our house numbers, but I'm not going to ruin the surprise by telling you what we're going to do.

Everything is coming along nicely...

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Home Improvement... So Far

Since paying off our home last year, we have been (little by little) making much-needed improvements & upgrades. Actually, it started when I first moved into this house with my ex (we moved here February of 2000 with a three-month old baby).

He decided to use his (I'll admit, limited) knowledge of areas of construction to tile our kitchen (such a crappy job was done that it needed to be REdone within a year). We also painted (well, mostly I painted) Princess' room in pastel green, blue, yellow, and (a minor wall) pink with accents in bright green, blue, yellow, and red.

After we split, mom offered to replace the ugly green carpet in the house with nice, low-maintenance Berber. She also helped me completely turn Princess's "baby" room into a "big girl" room when she turned two (butter yellow, light blue, stars & moon themed).

When Ace moved in (February of 2002), we almost-fully gutted the bathroom and redid it. I built the under sink cabinet and the over-toilet cabinet; he soldered new plumbing, and we both ripped out the old (and reinstalled a new) tub insert then painted the whole bathroom. New sink, new lighting, new towels & rugs; we were good to go!

From then until about a year ago, we've slowly replaced things as they've worn out &/or we had the money. We've replaced some stuff (furniture, appliances, heat pump, roofing, etc), but not others... yet. It was usually a matter of money. No longer.

We've also started to paint. It started with Princess's room (again), which turned into Gamerboy's room about three years ago (the girls now share a room, and it will be painted, too; as will ours). He, of course, "couldn't stand" the "toddler room decor" so we updated it to his tastes. New-to-us bed (painted), dresser, bookshelf (painted), hardware, desk, curtains, and framed prints to tie it all together, along with newly-painted walls, trim, and the back of his door, and he was set.

So far, my garage has been painted (both the main garage area, as well as the laundry section), and Ace has built some serious work benches, shelves, and cabinets. Three walls in the main living area have been painted, as well. However, before I can proceed with painting more walls, I'd like to do the ceiling. Before I do the ceiling, I want to replace all of our lighting (both inside and outside).

This weekend, we start the hunt for new lighting. I have some ideas for kitchen, dining, living room, and our bedroom lighting. We really need better (and, in some cases, brighter). Not sure about the hall light (my cousin called it "the pineapple"), but I'm pretty sure the specialist I'm going to see can help me with that. I also figured that I can start looking for new outside lighting, too, since we're going to do away with the ugly brass fixtures we currently have.

One of the biggest current projects -- next month, our home is going to be painted! In all the years I've lived here, I've never been able to afford to have someone do it professionally, and painting the house was just one of a thousand things my ex said he was "going to get around to" doing, which just never happened. (He, apparently, preferred to hang out with his friends and his girlfriend instead of working to support our family & make our home the best place it could be.)

We also have plans for landscaping (both the front and the back yards, as well as fencing for the side yards), redoing the paint, flooring, & trim in the bathroom, installing new flooring all over the house (to be done after all the painting is done), and the other big project -- our kitchen redo. That will have to wait 'til next spring or summer, but it WILL be done.

All in all, I am happy with what's been accomplished so far, happy my husband & I are able to work together to get this stuff done, and happy the rest is no longer just a dream; it's becoming reality.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

So Quiet...

After some discussion about a multitude of things, Ace and I decided that our older two children should skip their final summer weekend with us (this coming weekend would have been the last one until after school starts up again).

One of Gamerboy's best friends is having an end-of-summer party this weekend up at the mountain (possibly the only weekend all of his buddies are free), and Squeaks's Girl Scout troop has an informal get-together happening. Since Gamerboy hasn't been able to spend much time with friends this summer (in person, anyway), and Squeaks missed out on her troop's annual camping trip, we figured it was a small concession to give up one weekend.

This weekend also happens to be the weekend that T, D, & C are coming through and swiping the Princess, my mom, and mom's friend (NP). The six of them are headed south for a weekend of good food, family/friend visits, and some culture!

Since we will be kid-free, and Ace has this Saturday off, we plan do get more things done around the house (this home improvement stuff is time-consuming, but SO MUCH FUN - I love owning my own home and finally being able to afford all the upgrades!), and take a day trip on the bike up to the Gorge.

We plan to continue to work our butts off on the upgrades, one project at a time, until they're done or the weather gets too yucky to do anymore (the kitchen will be our "big" one, probably next spring). Photos are posted both on MySpace and on FB. Bring on the power tools & paintbrushes!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009


I just thought I'd take a few moments to give you who chose to respond to my first poll (piercings)...

My & Ace's personal beliefs:
EARS -- 1st hole when babies is fine, but definitely a parental choice. 2nd and subsequent holes should be when both the parents and the child agree to do so. For us, the second hole will probably be granted to our youngest for her next birthday, if she so chooses. I had my second hole done at the age of 14, but for no other reason than my family's finances.
NOSE/TONGUE/FACIALs -- We believe once children are 14, they may pierce their nose (although our older two must get their mother to take them & sign the forms, as she is the custodial parent. I'm also pretty sure the boy wouldn't want his nose pierced, but seeing as he's never actually said anything about it, who knows?). If the Princess decides she wants her nose pierced, I will take her at the age of 14, assuming Oregon laws support that decision. However, due to the legal ramifications of other piercings (like the possibility of a potential boss not hiring them because of it), we would prefer they wait until the age of 18 (or later).
BELLY BUTTON -- This is a tough one. Fourteen is OBVIOUSLY (to me, anyway) too young. Belly buttons are not fast healers (I speak from experience), and take much more care than other piercings; I just don't think 14 year olds are mature and responsible enough to take proper care of them. At the age of 14, a child is too young to handle the responsibility (apparently, though, the mother of the 14 yo girl who got me thinking about this subject either foolishly allowed her daughter to get this piercing or found out after the fact and doesn't care -- either of which would account for the daughter's other behavioral issues, btw, but that's another story).
I think this one would be subjective to the child who wants to get it done. Squeaks is too young to handle the care that comes with it, so as far as we're concerned, will not be getting it any time soon (if at all). Princess, however, is more mature than Squeaks was at her age, so we decided that if she wants one, she can do so at the age of 16. And, yes, I would go with her.

Piercings, for the most part, should be a personal choice, but we are parents and as such, we do get to control (or try to) some aspect of our minor children's lives. Tattoos, as well, are an expression of self; a way to tell others who you are. Piercings are not permanent, though, so I am more likely to let my children experiment a little... but not to the point of looking like a hooker or white trash (like some parents I know).

Another Poll

I know where Ace and I stand on these questions, but I'm curious as to how our own beliefs/requirements compare to others'...

At what age would you allow your child to have a networking site (MySpace, Facebook, Bebo, etc) account? What restrictions, rules, etc would apply? How closely (and how) would you keep tabs on it (or would you at all?)? Thanks!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Baby Scare

I mean my fuzzy baby, of course (no more human ones for us, thanks!). For those who don't know, we have two dogs; Anabelle and Isabelle (Belle and Izzy for short). Belle is a black lab/whippet mix, about 7 years old (a rescue from the Humane Society, so they're not exactly sure) and 55 lbs. Izzy is a blonde mutt, 5 years old this October and about 45 lbs. Belle is a mama's girl, and Izzy is her Papa's baby.

A typical morning goes like this: Mama gets up, and before I get to the bathroom, Belle is wagging her tail and tapping her front paws on my legs; trying to get a hug & kiss (yes, my dog hugs). Izzy is never too far behind her, also greeting me with kisses, but she's not quite as energetic about it. When I'm at the computer, Belle is next to the chair. When I'm making my morning mocha, she's at the edge of the kitchen, watching me. When I'm watching The Price is Right, she's on the floor at my feet.

This morning, there was no greeting. There was no tail wagging so hard, it sounds like she's knocking on the bathroom door. There was no nose poking into the bathroom to greet me in there. When I came out, she was lying down in her kennel. I thought, "Huh. That's weird. Maybe she's tired or hot," and I made my mocha.

I checked all my messages, responded to a few, and sat on the couch to watch t.v. At this point, I called Belle over to sit at my feet, and she just looked at me. It took some coaxing (TOTALLY out of character), but she finally got up, and meandered to my lap, then sort of flopped down next to me. I watched her walk over and noticed her back legs weren't functioning correctly. My first thought was, "Probably laying on them wrong," as she's done with her front paw (not sure if dogs get pins & needles, but that's about how she acted with one front paw a few weeks ago).

As time went on, she still wouldn't get up, and when she did, she didn't go very far, and looked like she was in pain, so I started to get concerned. I had her lay in my lap on her back, and moved her back legs around; feeling for broken or dislocated bones/joints. I didn't feel anything unusual, but I considered cancelling my one client, just in case. Ace told me that I should go (it was only a pedicure), and he would keep an eye on my dog while I was gone. If she didn't get better, we'd take her together when I got home.

He then called me when I was just starting my client, and told me he & the girls were taking Belle in; she wasn't getting better and he was now getting concerned. The only other thing we had to go on was the boy telling us that when she came in from being let out this morning, she was "walking really slowly."

The doc did a bunch of motion & manipulation tests on her, and (sweet girl) she didn't even whimper. No nipping, no trying to get away, just tolerated the whole ordeal very well. At times, she did give Ace that pleading look, but all in all, handled it perfectly. They found nothing with any of those tests, so decided to X-Ray her, just to be safe.

X-Ray results took about 1/2 hour, but came back clear. No broken bones, no dislocation, and no joint damage. Very healthy, probably just a sprain. Our best guess is that while outside this morning, she must have caught a hole just-so, and twisted. Docs gave us a couple days worth of pain meds for her, and now, she seems to be feeling better. She's walking stiffly, but still no jumping or anything. Only $214 for everything; and she's worth every penny, and I'd spend thousands more making sure she has a long and healthy life.