Navigational Nag

I am pretty sure there is some study some where that says a couple’s communication on a road trip is indicative of their entire relationship. If that is the case my husband and I are in even more trouble that I thought. Here is a conversation from our final day, day 7 of our family road trip vacation this summer. The kids were in the car as my witness. 

Me: “It says to take exit 37A in 3 miles.”

Hubby: (driving)

GPS: “In 2.2 miles take exit 37A/I-80 East.”

Hubby: (driving)

Me: “Exit 37A is in 1 mile, 37A”

Hubby: (driving) “What exit do I want?”

Me: “Exit 37A. Its the next exit on your right.”

GPS:  “Use the two right lanes to exit 37A to I-80 East.”

Hubby: (driving in the inside right lane, in ok position to exit correctly, but looking iffy)

Me:  (pointing to the exit on right) “You’re taking that exit right?”

Hubby: (swerves left off the exit ramp at the last second to take 37B instead of 37A.)

Me: “Why did you do that? That was the right exit!”

Hubby: “You said 37B!?”

Me: “No, I have been telling you exit 37A for the last 3 miles. I think I said it 4 times.”

Hubby:  “Well I heard 37B.”

I look at kids, they shake their heads and agree with me. Then a fifteen minute long argument ensues where he blames me and my horrible navigational skills for him missing his exit. His Taco Bell nachos slide off my lap while I am reaching for the Atlas because Google maps has still not caught up to recalculate our mess up. He yells at me about spilling his food “You need to concentrate on holding my food!”

Me, laughing, “Really because you just said I needed to concentrate on navigation. You can’t have it both ways.”

 We finally get on the correct path in the correct direction while I get a stern lecturing that I need to be very specific, clear and loud in my instructions, and I cannot use words like that or there or use pointing. Twenty miles or so down the road, his story is that it is all the kids’ fault for him not correctly hearing me because they misbehave so much that I am always yelling at the kids so he has learned to tune me out over the years and so now everything I say goes in one ear and out the other. I tell him its nice he finally admits that out loud, I’ve already known that for years.

A couple hours later we get off the Interstate to gas up, use the potty, and turn onto Highway 95. I make sure I am very clear in my instructions this time, and say them as if I am the GPS voice. (Which by the way the GPS is still going and is visible to the driver.)

Hubby turns onto the main street. I tell him “you’re next turn is going to be left in 1 mile, so you’ll want left lane.” He waits until a truck gets out of his way then changes into left lane. Within less than a minute he switches back to right lane. The truck in front of him was slow so I assume he is just going around him, then will get left again in time to turn. When he has passed said slow truck and still hasn’t switched lanes I say loud and clear, “turn LEFT in 0.6 miles”. He still does not change lanes. I look at him and say “turn LEFT in 0.4 miles”. I am greatly emphasizing the LEFT. He is smirking. So I repeat again “turn LEFT in 0.3 miles”. He is still smirking. So now I think he is messing with me on purpose and assume he wants to drive through town to see something or something. He does this kind of stuff all the time where he has an idea to do something but doesn’t tell me what it is until after he does it. As we’re almost to pass our turn off onto Highway 95, he gets a panicked look on his face and says “isn’t that our turn?” swerving left to make the turn at the last minute. I’m exasperated! “Yes. That is what I have been telling you for the last mile. You were smirking so I thought you were messing with me.”

“Well its a good thing I saw the sign when I did or we would have missed it. You’re a horrible navigator.”

“ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME?!”

And even the kids cannot believe it and come to my defense as we all bust up laughing at how ridiculous he is being today. We decide he needs to get his hearing checked and we might also get him checked for a possible stroke. His defense again is his natural tendency to tune out my voice. That’s real comforting. So I say “fine”, I turn up the volume on the GPS and promise not to speak to him the rest of the way. Good grief! Next time we’re flying.

Pool Time

Any family vacation with my kids quickly turns from a sightseeing tour of our Nation’s beauty to a tour of hotel swimming pools. “What was your favorite part of vacation kids? The Beach? Hiking trails?” They always answer, “the pool”. Consequently they will of course judge a hotel on its most important feature being the swimming pool. I know this and so I now shop for hotels with the pool atmosphere in mind. Not just do they have a pool, but will the kids have a blast at that pool, and will I enjoy being there too? And here is their history I base it off of:

1. My children have only spent one night in Las Vegas but they honestly think people stay at the Luxor for their fantastic four-pool glory, not giving a second thought to gambling, shows or cuisine. Luxor-Hotel-Las-Vegas-Pool

2. This photo is of one of our favorite hotel pools experiences at a Best Western Seven Seas in San Diego in 2011, where we spent our down-time (in between the exhausting famous parks and attractions), as our room was a tiny claustrophobic outdated room with barely enough space to walk between the two double beds. The kids had fun doing cannonballs, the weather was perfect, and I remember it as the most peaceful part of that whirlwind trip. Poolside San Diego

3. And after a day and a half at Lego Land, they begged to leave the Lego Land water park early to go back to this hotel pool at Carlsbad By the Sea. Pool view Carlsbad

4. This year’s summer vacation across Oregon to the majestic Crater Lake, then the Redwoods of the Northern Coast of California found this gem of a pool at the Best Western Plus Humboldt Bay Inn in Eureka, whose basketball hoop, indoor/outdoor seating areas with heater lamps and billiards table, will go down in their all-time favorites collection: Eureka, CA: Best Western Plus Humboldt Bay

 5. And after a full day in the car on what must have been California’s most winding highway (36-East) where we had three separate tearful vomit incidents, we rewarded the road-weary kiddos with this fancy pool-topia at the Peppermill Resort & Casino in Reno, Nevada.

  Peppermill Upper Pool

So for fellow parents out there, those are some ideas for your next road trip. And for anyone owning, building, or remodeling a hotel…if you want family business, next to the beds & fridge, the swimming pool is where it is at.

Bachelorette Andi – episode 2 – Male Dance Review

After eating my weight in potato salad this Memorial Day, I then partook in more gluttony with our favorite guilty pleasure: the Bachelorette. Episode 2 of Andi’s season is the first round of dates.

First individual date: “Eric the Explorer”. We already know from last week’s prelude that since filming the show, Eric has tragically passed away from a paragliding accident. Which means I would be a horrible person to say anything bad about him. Luckily, I don’t have anything bad to say. I found him to be cute and likeable and Andi seemed to have both comfort and chemistry with him. Explorer – is that a paying profession? Or does this mean he has a giant trust fund that allows him to do all this world traveling? I don’t know but I’m not going to hold it against him either way. An adventurous thrill-seeker is always hot to me, but I’ve also always known they are out of my league. I would never be enough for a man like that, constantly on the go looking to conquer the next big thing, because I like to chill too much. I can’t snow ski, or mountain climb or wear a bikini. “Explorers” are good at everything, and I am good at almost nothing. Luckily Andi is not me and she looks great in a bikini. However, she does have a pretty awesome career that requires her be there. Could they be a good match? We’ll see. Date grade: A. This date was perfectly geared toward Eric with snowboarding so it was fun instead of awkwardness. They look good together, actually had great conversations and seemed to have chemistry.

Group Date: “Bare our Balls, I mean Souls, Bare our Souls”
Is it just me, or does it seem a little early in the season/relationship to be in such a intimate situation as a public male strip tease and see thirteen of your potential suitors almost naked? I mean sure I see the benefits to it, but I also felt a little embarrassed for them all, and that it was degrading to men. Just as I would have felt a similar event with women on the Bachelor would be extremely degrading. BUT, that doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy the scenery. For the second time so far this season Andi admits she is extremely attracted to Marcus and picks him for a solo act. I do not disagree! Marcus is not as excited to strut himself as some of the others and seems a little shy, which scores him even higher points in my book. Cody is annoying (this seems right up his alley). Craig is annoying and oddly aware of Josh. Patrick has a butt-chin, which I kind of like, because he reminds me of Austin from Young & Restless, but not quite as cute. I think Bradley the Opera singer should pair up with Charlene from last season. Craig gets drunk and makes a fool of himself, no surprise, but I think Andi is a little over dramatic about it. She gives Marcus the group date rose, which I completely agree with. Did I mention there were firefighter strippers? Yum! It was not horrible. Could you imagine if you were to do this dating challenge in a real life dating pool though? There would be a lot more truffle shuffle and body hair. Qualified to be a stripped must have been one of the boxes to check on the Bachelorette application. And once again the media makes us drool for a type of man none of us could ever get in real life. (because most of them are dating each other)

Date #3 – Country Chris. Chris is the farmer from Iowa. He seems very nice and is good looking, but I just don’t foresee him making it to the top 4, and I don’t see Andi living on a farm in Iowa. The date is to the horse races, with a personal concert afterward. I give the date a grade of C+ because it went fine, but was nothing spectacular. She looks like she is feeling good about the fact that he is a nice guy but I don’t think she is falling in love or lust with him. She does kiss him however, and did I miss her kissing Eric or is this her first? I predict Chris will be friend-zoned.

Rose Ceremony: Andi enters in a fancy low cut gown, Josh’s eyes are on her boobs, Craig’s hand is on Josh’s shoulder. Hmmm. Also, it says Craig is a tax accountant. I know many accountants, none of which are that outgoing or goofy. I’m pretty sure he is lying about his occupation (just kidding). A thought about Tasos…are there really straight men that are wedding planners? If so, why? If not, I’m pretty sure he is lying about his sexuality (just kidding). But not kidding that Brett is on the verge of a mullet, and Nick V. is nice but Nick S. is creepy, so their last initials are very important. Nick V. asks Andi what she is looking for in a man and she says she doesn’t know. WTF? I think women say that only when they know the man that is asking doesn’t fit the profile. Not only should she have made a list for the show, but if she’s like most girls, she’s had a list since 8th grade that has been edited many times over. I agree with Andi tossing Craig & Nick S out, but I would have kept the glasses guy over the Opera guy. Glasses guy was Carl the firefighter who has a slight Ryan Gosling factor going on. Bummed he is gone already. So far my watch list consists of (in no particular order) Brian, Marquel, Eric, Marcus & maybe Dylan (looks wise I’m interested but haven’t seen his personality yet). What are you guys thinking? Until next week…

The Bachelorette: A new season – Andi episode 1

Hey Bachelor fans and anti-fans, it’s been a long time. Over the last few months I’ve been everywhere BUT on my blog, and I’ve missed it. A new season of the Bachelorette snuck up on us, with the return of Andi Dorfman, Assistant Attorney General from Atlanta – the girl we cheered on last season as she called Juan Pablo out on the carpet for his ridiculous self-centered, chauvinistic ways. Here’s what we like about her:

She’s smart! She’s assertive. She’s accomplished. She’s not a bimbo. She seems like substance over fluff. I’d like to think she’s someone who’d prefer an after work beer with male coworkers or college friends over a trip to the mall. Or at least that is what I am imagining. Her hair is one color this season, and I love that she says “y’all” a lot. There is potential for a great season.

 

Here are my first impressions and observations of episode 1 – the intros.

Andi seems genuinely excited and humble on opening night prior to introductions. No one instantly jumped out at me as my favorite during the 25 introductions. I liked the soccer guy but didn’t even write down his name. The Opera singer is cute but for whatever reason, singing opera is a turn off for me. Cody reminds me of Mackelmore on steroids. JJ creeps me out. I picture him being a ventriloquist. There’s a bartender, you can’t marry a bartender, they sleep around. And as cute as Chris is, I wouldn’t marry a farmer either, their job is their life and they never take a day off. Guys wearing bowties should be sent home on principle alone because I hate bowties!

 

So now that I’ve thrown my judgmental, stereotypical impressions out there, I’ll lay down the positives. Josh, Eric and Ron are good looking. Nick V. is super sweet, has tens siblings, and gets the 1st impression rose. Of course, I can’t tell yet who is going to be great for Andi, but Marquel is who I’d pick for myself. Not only is he hot, but the cookie test tasting – are you kidding me?!? I could totally hang out with this guy. He seems down to earth and fun, so he’s my guy. Andi didn’t eliminate all the bowties, but did send all the surfer looking dudes with long blonde hair on their way. She says the tall, dark and handsome, athletic, cocky-looking Josh M is her typical type. Apparently the blonde surfer look is the opposite of that.

 

Although I am not hugely enthusiastic about the new season yet, it should be interesting to see where it goes. Who am I kidding, it will be exactly same as all seasons: helicopter dates, dancing to a personal concert, someone gets stupid-drunk, drama, someone has a girlfriend, repelling from scary heights, tears, and every episode will be the most DRAMATIC episode ever. Or maybe our producers will realize they’ve been on repeat and mix it up some….Naa, don’t hold your breath.

Bad Things Happening Creates Good People

I read this quote that stuck in my mind: “Not so much that bad things happen to good people, as sometimes bad things happening creates good people.”

 

We see this during times of national tragedy, when events such as hurricane Katrina or Sandy, or Sept 11th, have moved people to band together, helps others, donate to causes or strive for change. I have also witnessed hard times creating better people in my personal life.

When the frustrations of drama in the workplace and a bad apple making my life stressful drove me from my old job, I made sure I was a different person at my new job. I kept an emotional distance from others in the beginning, I kept work and personal life separate and stayed away from gossip and negative people. I became a better coworker and had no troubles. Only after I had left the bad situation did I realize I was at least half of the problem.

 

The most monumental change in my life came from my Dad passing away when I was thirty-one. One lesson I learned was the importance of being there for others in their time of loss and how much it can mean to them. Or how much the lack of support, empathy and grieving time can also hurt. And as crazy as it sounds, I think my father’s death also made me a Democrat, or at least a more generous compassionate person. The struggles my father had in his last few years and my guilt over wishing I could help is what started the change. My Dad was a hard worker and had instilled in me the same work ethics. He was also a staunch Republican that passed on his view that the government should not take care of people, people should work and earn their own way. Homeless people were just lazy con-artists. Towards his end, my father had lost everything and became essentially homeless, living in his camper or motel room. I wanted to give him money and help him but any time I gave him money he went on a bender. His mind was going and I couldn’t have him around my small children possibly being a threat to them or our home. One evening, months after my Dad had passed, my husband and I were downtown on a date night. Walking from the restaurant back to the parking garage we passed a homeless man begging on the street. I walked past him looking him in the eyes – the same brown alcoholic eyes like my father. I smiled at him hoping to bring some miniscule happiness to him but everything inside me wanted to stop, hug him, give him money, pray for him, or tell him something – anything. I did nothing as my husband (who also does not believe in giving money to homeless people) dragged me quickly to the car where once inside I started crying and shaking in a panic attack. Maybe that homeless guy had an estranged daughter somewhere that wished someone could help her dad. Maybe he hadn’t meant to become homeless but had made bad choices and taken it too far to turn back now like my father had. Maybe that was my Dad inside that man’s eyes calling out to me, seeing if I would notice him. I wanted to go back and do something. But maybe he was a psychopath that would hurt me if I did. I cried all the way home, missing my dad, feeling guilty I couldn’t do anything to help, memories of my father’s predicament haunting me. That was the turning point in my life where I no longer viewed all homeless people as lazy druggies that should just go get a job. I now realized that many had physical or psychological issues that prevented them from working. Yes, mostly caused by their own bad decisions, but just because they had taken a wrong turn in life didn’t mean they didn’t have someone some where that missed them and loved them and mourned for their old life. The next week I donated all my Dad’s clothing to the men’s shelter. It took my father dying for me to become a compassionate person.

 

Recently a friend of mine lost her mother to suicide, something we would never wish on anyone. The traumatic experience has been hard on her, of course, and I cannot imagine the grief and guilt that accompanies it. But I have noticed a change in my friend. I notice her now outwardly loving and enjoying her friends and family even more than before. Reaching out to others more than before. Her father and her have become closer than before. And you can bet that she will always be sensitive to those who have shared similar circumstances. These are the positive traits that have developed out of a horrible experience.

 

That which does not kill us makes us stronger. And it is not so much that bad things happen to good people, as sometimes bad things happening creates good people. That is why with each passing year as we experience more in life, we grow better and wiser.

Spiders Are Ruining My Yard

Spiders are out to get me! I fucking hate spiders! I had to use the harsh “F” word for emphasis because that is how severely I detest them. And lately I feel like spiders are trying to ruin my life, well parts of it at least. The last two summers have been especially bad spider years in our yard here in Idaho. I don’t see many in the house (just their annoying webs) but anytime I weed the flowerbeds (which I have many of and wish to enjoy) or work in the yard, spiders and their webs are everywhere. I kill as many as I can when I see them. But usually get grossed out by their presence and give up returning to the safety of the house. I wanted to have a professional come spray for spiders this year but my husband wouldn’t let me. He is a cheap skate who also happens to not be bothered by spiders and says let them live. He rarely gets the whole phrase out of his mouth before I am stomping the shit out of it with my shoe. I don’t let any of them live if I can help it. And now they are out for revenge. Let me tell about my freak-out experience yesterday.

This is the first year we’ve had edible grapes on our vine as it took three years to establish itself apparently. We now have eight delectable bundles of perfectly ripe red/purple seedless grapes waiting for us. We had tasted them for the first time the night before and they were delicious. Really small grapes, but very tasty. So I went out to our yard to cut some fresh grapes to have waiting for the boys when they got home from school. I cut a bundle, carried it in my hand, rinsed them at the sink briefly then set it them on a paper plate on the kitchen counter. After all these are organic, grown in my own yard with no chemicals, so just have to rinse off any dust. I grabbed a couple and popped them in my mouth while I rinsed out the sink. Then turned around to the plate to grab another grape but there was a white spider escaping the wet bundle right by where I was grabbing. Holy Hell! I rushed the plate back over to the sink and rinsed him down the drain. Yuck! I just ate some of those grapes. So I rinse the grapes again. Set them down on counter again. Look back to find two more of the white spiders, tinier ones, scurrying from the grapes. OMG! I rush plate back to sink rinse them down the drain, leave the grapes in the sink and take the high-power sprayer to them. By the time I was done I had found a total of 4 spiders (2 adults, 2 kids I think) and a very small white web/nest in between the grapes. There had been a family of these little fuckers living in those grapes. The nest had been hard to see. Now I had a full-blown case of the heebie-jeebies. Yes, that is a real thing. What is the heebie-jeebies? It is that feeling you get when you see a spider (or insert bug or creeper of choice here) and it freaks you out and the rest of the day every time a hair touches the back of your arm or neck you think a spider is crawling on you and you’re so paranoid about it you have to go shower to get rid of that itchy feeling. Now I don’t want to eat those grapes. Dammit, those were yummy grapes too. Damn you spiders ruining my appetite for the goodness of homegrown fruit. Now I’m pissed and feeling a little anxiety attack coming as I cannot think of anything else but the spiders on my food. 20130828_125257

I got out our book “The National Wildlife Federation Field Guide to Insects and Spiders of North America” to see what kind of spider we are dealing with. Maybe there are certain spiders that hang out on fruit and they are harmless. Maybe they are not so harmless. I want to know but do not see any pictures in the book that look like my little white spiders. I live in North America dammit, why are they not in this book? Amazingly enough I made it through the night without nightmares of spiders. And today did a brave thing. I went outside with gardening gloves & scissors, a jar, and a giant bowl. I was going to cut another bunch of grapes, purposefully find more white spiders and trap them in my jar so I could find out what they are. I repeated yesterday’s process of rinsing and waiting for spiders to come out. Today I only got one baby one, but did see two other little web/nests within the grapes. They are so hard to see someone could totally eat the whole bundle of grapes before they noticed it. And these Mo-Fo’s are so fast that I cannot get a picture of it so I am waiting for the sucker to suffocate so I can then study it. It is all starting to feel a little scientific to me, but really I am just fuelled by hatred and fear.

I can barely go outside into my yard anymore I am so bothered by all the spiders. I have beautiful flowers, now overrun with weeds. I have a patio I could enjoy but I’d have to hose & sweep it everyday to keep the spider webs away. I don’t even clean the inside of my house that much. I just want my space back without spiders. I don’t care how people say they are good because they kill other bugs. Well they do a shit-ass job because my flowers still have aphids or some kind of little bug on them. Flies are still getting in the house if the door is left open. I really don’t think spiders make a dent in the bug population – maybe in the forest but not in my yard. And how come all these birds in my yard don’t eat the spiders?

So now I will have to research ways of killing spiders on vegetation without killing the plant and poisoning the food. I also need to find out what type of spider this is. It is not the only kind I see around here we also have the black hairy jumpy ones inside, and the brown garden spiders outside. But these little white assholes made it to the top of my most wanted list. And maybe, just maybe I’ll burn all my bushes to the ground this fall and start fresh next year. Now excuse me while I go shower the heebie-jeebies off again…I think there’s a spider in my hair.

Thirty-Seven

I am thirty-seven years old. I think I am at that age where you decide to take good care of yourself to stay healthy , young and active, or to let yourself get older. It is definitely a conscious choice that needs to be made. My husband already decided to let himself go years ago to be old and seems to have no desire to change his mind. Not me, I want to take the you healthier, more active route, but it is not easy. It is a constant life change that I need to practice.

I have weeks where thirty-seven doesn’t phase me. These weeks I do 3-5 workouts of 30-60 minutes each, and I feel great. I feel stronger and more athletic than I was in my twenties (although I am still not athletic). Some weeks I remember to take my vitamins and try to make healthy food choices. Although I am never perfect I certainly feel wiser than in my younger days. These are the weeks I feel like I am taking better care of myself than ever before. Even when I can’t see results on the scale, I feel better and younger inside. I forget my age. I swim or wrestle with my kids. I bounce on the trampoline. I dive off boats. Life is great.

Then there are the other weeks. Weeks where I drag and drag and drag. Getting to bed too late and ditching my early morning workouts for thirty more minutes of sleep or a drowsy bath instead. I forget to take my vitamins. I eat pizza, chocolate and Doritos to settle my cravings. My eyes grow heavy at my desk each afternoon from three to four; until I do the head bob and have to get up to walk around. I am desperate for a nap I never get when I get home at night. These are the weeks I feel my age. I am sleepy, my mind is not fresh or alert, I am sluggish, my eyes are droopy. I don’t have the energy to keep the housework or take the kids to the park. I only want to lounge around. I don’t like those weeks but am having one right now – coming off a vacation and my period, I haven’t exercised in 4 days – and today I am certainly feeling my age.

It just reminds me that I can never stop. Going forward I will always have to exercise and eat right to keep feeling good. Any breaks I take, just take me backward into sleepy despair. That is an exhausting thought.

Well, maybe next week…

Meeting My Recipient

Something really neat happened to me. I got to meet “my girl”, the recipient of my stem cell donation. Followers of my Blog/Facebook/Twitter know that last spring I was contacted by the National Marrow Donor Program that I was a match. All I could know about my matched recipient was that she was a thirteen year old girl with Fanconi Anemia (FA). About a month later I flew to San Francisco to donate my stem cells via PBSC (Peripheral Blood Stem Cell) Donation. I was given a couple brief updates on the recipient’s status a few months later “Transplant a success. Patient doing well with minor set-backs.” I then had to wait a year to find out who “my girl” was, and if the family would want to meet me. Our Anniversary date came. I emailed my NMDP contact for the form, filled it out and sent it back. About a week later I received her name and address – Jordan Flynn. She lived in Maine: the opposite side of the country from me. I found the clip I saw on Rock Center that I thought might be her and watched it again. It was her! I bought a cute card and mailed it off to let her know I had been thinking about her, hoped she was feeling well and I was up for contact if they were. About a week later I received a message and friend request on Facebook from her mom, Doreen.

“Hi Katy! You don’t know me but you and I have something in common, my daughter Jordan! You did a very selfless act last April by donating your bone marrow and by doing that you saved my daughter’s life. Words cannot describe the gratitude I have for what you have done. Because of you I get to see my daughter grow into a young lady, I get to see her enjoy her High School years and finally enjoy being a teenager!! I am forever indebted for the opportunity you have given her. If you hadn’t donated your marrow Jordan wouldn’t be with us today. You have no idea how much this means to me and her family. I hope that this can be the beginning of a new friendship. I do appreciate you allowing Sloan Kettering to give me your contact information as we have been very anxious to know the identity of the person who we owe so very much to! Hope to hear from you soon!  – Doreen”

We started a daily back and forth conversation on Facebook getting to know each other bit by bit. I shared my blog with her and read her online journal about what they went through during that year of transplant and recuperation. It was so satisfying to know that the transplant graft went well, but so scary to find out there were a couple infections developed afterwards that were close calls. The PBSC collection was on Monday, May 7th. She received my cells on Tuesday May 8th. I was back to work on Wednesday May 9th. Not so easy for her: Jordan was in the hospital or Ronald McDonald house for something like nine months before she could go home to her family and normal life, her mother Doreen by her side the entire time. This humbled me.

I also received multiple Facebook messages from their friends and family thanking me. They all made me feel so good. This message Jordan posted meant the very most:

“Thanks everyone, for the birthday wishes! So blessed I was given another chance to be on this planet today. And thank you, Katy, for saving my life so I could be here to celebrate my 15th birthday! – Jordan”

There was an out-pouring of support and gratitude. A couple weeks into our online friendship, Doreen invited us to fly out to surprise Jordan. I couldn’t write about it or post anything about my excitement then because I didn’t want to ruin the surprise. But now that we are back from our trip I can reflect upon it. From start to finish, this donation process has truly been one of the best experiences of my life.

My husband couldn’t go with us to Maine, he is a corporate accountant and July is his hell month of fiscal year end reports, which means vacations are impossible for him at that time. But honestly I knew he was ok to stay back, he’s not that sociable. So my boys and I, and my mom who had accompanied me on the journey to San Francisco last year, flew out to Portland, Maine where Doreen met us at the airport. I felt like I already knew her, so was never nervous to meet her until that moment I texted her from baggage claim that we were ready and saw her cross the street to greet us. Oh boy, here goes the butterflies and emotions. But much to my surprise I didn’t cry. A nice long hug later we were in the car for a 30 or 40 minute drive to their house. Jordan had no idea we were coming. We followed Doreen into her front door where Jordan gave a quizzical look from the kitchen. “Do you recognize who this is?” Her mom asked her. “No,” she replied tentatively. And a few seconds later when she realized it was me, her face light up in an OMG surprise and she ran forward to hug me.

Jordan was adorable. She’s very small and thin and a little pale, but has beautiful blue eyes with long lashes, a few cute freckles and a great smile. Her hair is still growing back from when it fell out after the chemotherapy she had prior to transplant. She had the cutest little ringlet curls hitting the back of her neck – not her pre-transplant style perhaps but so cute everybody wants to touch them. She was a normal teenager. Most importantly she wasn’t sick.

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The family was very laid back going about their normal routine which made it feel like we were longtime friends stopped by for a casual visit. It was nice. They have a lovely home on a quiet dead end street backed up to a gorgeous natural reserve thick with trees. We visited on the deck while my boys swam in their pool for a couple hours. Then we headed off to our hotel to rest up from our long night’s flight while they took care of some last minute wedding arrangements. That’s right – wedding – we were there on that particular weekend to be guests at their wedding: Doreen (mom) and Shawn (step-Dad). We checked into the hotel and had lunch. It was nice to lay down for a bit, shower and brush my teeth. I’m sure we were quite the sight coming fresh from 12-hours of red-eye flight where makeup had long-before worn off and hair gone flat. The Flynn’s picked us back up a few hours later to go back to their house for dinner. We got to meet the rest of the kids, 8 total in the combined family: Abby, Sammy, James, Jordan, Jacob, Jorga & Julia, and Ally. Wow, that’s a lot of dirty socks (or maybe my boys are the only ones that leave them all over the house driving me crazy). That evening we had pizza & beer and visited as more and more of their friends and family arrived. It felt so normal. Family and friends, running around the house, half of them were trying to get things accomplished for the big event the next day, the other half sitting and laughing and telling stories. It was a great way to gradually sink into the groove so that before I knew it they felt like my family and friends. Actually, it was nicer because everyone was so happy to meet us. It was amazing to watch Doreen. The night before her wedding, with a house full of people – I would have been stressed out – she was a rock star and I’d learn over the rest of the weekend that she was a true Super Mom – could get a hundred things done in a day, never lose her cool and never say I’m tired. Holy cow, she’s amazingly.

The family lent us their car to drive back to the hotel for the night and so we could make our way to the wedding the next day. We had some free time on Saturday morning to lounge, swim and get ready. Good thing too since we were not used to the time change and slept in until ten. Thanks to the car’s GPS we made it to the wedding location about twenty minutes out of town at a beautiful country venue in Grey, Maine. In Boise I would have felt nervous arriving at a function where I knew only a handful or less of the people but most were strangers, but for whatever reason it didn’t faze us there. I had met Doreen’s parents, neighbor, sister and close friend the night before and was greeted with welcome smiles.

The wedding was a casual outdoor event where the gents wore khaki shorts and the ladies wore cute colorful summer dresses. My Jordan was in the most adorable white eyelet lace dress. The ceremony included the children and the melding of the families with a mixing-of-sand-in-bottles-kind of deal that was really neat. The reception was there with a large tented area with tables for eating, dance floor in front of the stage where the ceremony had been, booze in the barn, and acres of green grass for the kids to run and play and explore. They were genius in providing outdoor games, Frisbees, footballs etc for the kids so the adults could stick around longer visiting and dancing and enjoying the festivities without being pestered by little nagging voices “I want to go home. When can we go home?” Nope, there was plenty to do, and the name of the game was to hang out until dark for campfire and S’mores. My boys even broke out of their comfort zone enough to dance a little and make friends. It felt more like a family reunion. I think this is my favorite wedding I’ve ever been to.

Shortly after our pulled pork and homemade mac-n-cheese, Doreen introduced me over the microphone. Everyone stood up and applauded, it was one of those super-sweet, kind of embarrassing moments when you don’t know what to do with yourself so you smile and wave. But it was really cool because then the rest of the day people came up to me thanking me, asking me for a hug, and just being all-round-awesome. I think I felt better hugging those ‘strangers’ more than most of my own family. Everyone showed such warmth and gratitude and kindness. My seven year old even said, “Why are they all so nice?” They really were. They made me feel like a celebrity or something. I felt my heart overflowing with…pride? Joy? Fellowship? Love? All of it. By the end of the night we had a new family we belonged to and it felt great.

Sunday we went out to lunch with the Flynn-Gummoe family for some much needed Maine seafood where we compared all our similarities and odd coincidences that made it seem like our two families were destined to be intertwined all along. Then we drove to the coast for some sight-seeing. We went to Fort William at Cape Elizabeth. It was beautiful. We walked around visiting while we looked at the old fort walls, took pictures on the rocks, and the kids hiked through the wooded areas. My boys put their toes in the Atlantic Ocean for the first time marking that off their life’s to-do-list. By the time we got back to town Mom was exhausted so we dropped her off at the hotel for some alone time and the boys and I went back to the Flynn-Gummoe house for dinner and more hang-out time. My boys got along so well with their son Jacob – playing video games, Chess and swimming – they stayed entertained the whole time. I got to bond with the teenage girls a little over some twitter talk/boy talk. We said our goodbyes to Jordan and the other kids that night knowing they wouldn’t want to get up at 4am to take us to the airport. It took me forever to fall asleep that night. I wasn’t ready to leave yet. But 4am came really fast (especially when that is 2am our time) and Doreen was there to take us to the airport at 5. Thankfully we had about a forty-minute drive to the airport in Portland to visit some more (or sleep in the kids’ case) before we had to say our final goodbyes. But I know it won’t be final, won’t be a one-time meet. These are great, generous, fun, loving people who I bonded to so quickly that I missed them already after only a couple days back. We are already talking about them possibly traveling out to see us in Idaho next summer, or some kind of annual or biannual reunion. There have been almost daily interactions via text, Facebook or Twitter since we left. I truly grew attached. Life’s reward for this donation experience is new lifelong friends and it can’t get much better than that.

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{Do you want to help save a life – visit http://bethematch.org/ to learn how}

Bachelorette – D3 – Dodging Balls

Only one more day to the new episode of the Bachelorette and I realize I have not posted my thoughts on last week’s show. It’s been a week so I don’t have anything brilliant or funny to say. Brief rundown:

Week 3 of Desiree’s quest for love included two group dates, one individual date and the unfolding drama of Brian’s girlfriend. The first group date was a dodge ball competition that had the boys in their short shorts. Brooks proved to be a whiney wuss when he broke his finger. Not that a broken finger wouldn’t hurt, it would, but you’d think when surrounded by your competition and the girl you’re trying to woo that you’d play tough and hold back the tears and shake that off a little, at least until the cameras weren’t looking. So yes, he slipped a notch on my list. However, without the headband, he still reminds me of the cute Timothy Olyphant in the movie Catch And Release.
Timothy_Olyphant           bachelorette brooks vneck
Actually I’m noticing a number of the guys seem like whiney girls this season. I’m especially ready for Michael G. to go home. His and Mikey’s ongoing feud with Ben is irritating.

The individual date went to Kasey, but not until unfolding demise of Brian, whose girlfriend Stephanie showed up to “out” him on national television. Des kicks him off the show, no skin off our backs as I don’t even remember this dude. The one negative effect of the dramatic confrontation the house witnesses is it turns Brandon into an emotional wreck. The man is hot without his shirt on, but he’s a hot mess in the emotional department. He’s a sweetheart and after a couple years of therapy and getting himself together he’ll be a great catch, but he’s not ready. Yes a girl likes a man that isn’t afraid to cry, but they have to be able to control it and cry at appropriate times. Add this to his early divulgence of feelings to Des and I assume he will be sent home soon. Kasey and Des’ date went well but not spectacular. I didn’t see sparks flying but they danced on the side of a building without too much fear or drama, then went for a swim and kissed after their date got stormed out. She gave him the rose to keep him around another week.

The second group date was probably my favorite group date of all seasons. Des took a smaller group of five guys to a ranch where they dressed up like cowboys, learned stunts and acted out old western scenes. The guys were hot in their cowboy gear and had a lot of fun with it. Juan Pablo was the funniest rattling off Spanish and kicking dirt on the bad guy in his scene to win the prize of watching a movie with Des. Bryden proved once again why he is my favorite. He’s sweet, cute and doesn’t make a fool of himself. I was afraid Des wouldn’t be that into him because he’s not as aggressive as her but I might be wrong. I think she sees the good in him too. Here’s a surprising thought – I kind of like Zak W. (shirtless guy). I don’t think he is the cutest but I like his personality. I think he’s thoughtful, positive and has a good spirit. I’d keep him around for awhile to find out more.

Good twist: instead of a dress-up reception they have a pool-side party – if I was Bachelorette that would be my choice every week – HELLO, Shirtless!!  Chris, James and Kasey start out with roses; Bryden, Juan Pablo, Zak W, Brooks, Drew, Zack K, Brad, Michael G, Mike & Ben get roses. We say good-bye to Dan and Brandon. I’d like to see more of Drew next week. I think it is still an open race for Des’s heart. And boy she is not shy about kissing them all.

Bachelorette -D2 – The Right Reasons Rappers

Why has it taken me all week to get up my weekly reflection on the Bachelorette? Well I was hoping the negative reaction I was having to Monday’s show could be blamed on a grumpy mood and lack of sleep. However, after giving it a couple of days and watching the show again, my feelings didn’t change. So here it goes. Before this season started I really liked Desiree. My opinion of her was that she was genuine, likeable, intelligent, athletic, fun, strong, and emotionally level-headed. But for some reason, all of episode 2, she seems really fake to me. I have the feeling that she is really caught up in the excitement of the show, LA, the fancy cars, mansions and over-the-top dates. Who can blame her? That stuff is exciting and overwhelming for those of us who are less fortunate and I can only imagine between the lifestyle and the hot guys hanging on your every word that you would feel like a kid on Christmas morning. And so maybe the fakey vibe I’m getting is just her excitement being more about the experience than the men?? I don’t know. I just felt she was using her kindergarten teacher voice on the dates and it felt fake and a little forced. Or maybe it’s just me being a tired, grumpy, cynic.  Also I don’t like it when they fake surprise – the men don’t know what is going to happen on the date but the Bachelorette does and I think the faking ignorance is irritating – like me acting surprised when my kids tell me they got two dollars from the Tooth Fairy. Necessary for seven-year olds, not for grown men.

 The 1st one-on-one date of the season went to Brooks, Mr. Wavy hair & smile. He is very nice to look at, and proved to be a fun date. Con #1: the already over-done bridal salon date. Let’s take two people who have barely met and force them to dress as if they are getting married tonight, nothing awkward about that. Bachelor producers, please! Can we take this theme out of the rotation now? Just like with American Idol using the same theme nights after 12 seasons, I am equally bored of the Bachelor Franchise using the same date ideas every season. The wedding photos, the dinner in a closed off public location (this case middle of a bridge), and most staged of all dancing to a private concert.  But date choice is not Brook’s fault and he does well yakking it up in a bright green leprechaun suit, which is Pro #1: silly side. Con #2: they hiked to the Hollywood sign in a freaking wedding gown and tux. Yeah, that screams reality. Pro #2: conversation went well. Pro #3: Did I mention how good-looking Brooks is? Con #3: My cynic side is annoyed when Brooks talks about his feels. I have a hard time believing that it is real too. Probably more to do with being married to a man who NEVER talks about his feelings for twelve years than actually to do with Brooks. Good thing I’m not in the dating world because I’d probably never again believe a word out of a man’s mouth. I’ve already seen the wizard behind the curtain.

Group Date: Rapping “Right Reasons” under direction of actual rapper Soulja Boy. The worst white boy rhymes ever, and easily the most humiliating date of all time. I’m glad they had fun with it but if I was the Bachelorette I wouldn’t even want to put them through that. And WTH, the only black guy can’t dance? Bummer. I would have really liked to see more of Will. They drew a few comparisons of this seasons men to some of the seasons past and I couldn’t help but think of “Guard & Protect Your Heart” Kasey every time I saw Brandon after that. If he ends up leaving soon, it will be because of that comparison. Please don’t be that guy. James was a constant comic relief (or pain in the ass heckler depending on how you look at it). Side note: I wonder how bad the bachelor pad house smells. I mean just because these are all well manscaped, waxed men doesn’t mean they aren’t still farting, pooping, stinking men like the ones we’re married too. Just less hair on the bathroom floor.

 2nd One-on-One Date – Road trip with Bryden. Pro# 1: Now this date I liked! This is totally what I would have enjoyed and a great way to get to know someone and not just have it be about the glitz. Pro #2: Bryden was sweet and the right amount of shy and fun. I’m sticking with my first impression of liking him. I liked that he admitted that he wasn’t ready for a relationship before and used the military as an excuse not to have one, now he’s ready. I felt it was pretty genuine. I cannot tell if Des is into him or just thinks he’s nice and is telling all the guys how much fun she’s having. Con 31: During their end of night dip in the pool, Des tries easing the awkward tension of Bryden’s nervous stalling before their first kiss by saying “just kiss me already” I go back and forth between thinking it was cute, and being turned off by it. I just felt like he’s a shy traditional guy and being that aggressive could have turned him off or made me felt emasculated. I’ve learned through personal experience that sometimes guys don’t want those moments taken away from them, they want to feel that they’re in charge. And I just felt like that was not really the sweet first kiss moment you want to look back on. There was obviously an uncomfortable lull in the conversation before she said that, but, I don’t know just didn’t feel right to me. I really like Bryden, but I have a feeling she is going to end up being too forward and aggressive for him, or him to reserved for her, however you want to look at it. Also she seems very ready to kiss all the guys. Nothing wrong with that necessarily, just none of them have felt special yet.

 Reception night:  Pro #1: Zak W. (aka shirtless guy) surprised Des with an antique journal with a message from a father to his daughter written on the inside cover. I actually really thought that was a thoughtful and special gift. I would have been impressed and I think she was too. She may not be into him romantically but that was a very good effort and showed some depth on his side. Con #1: Boy drama – oh brother – this is the whiniest bunch of boys we’ve had on here to date. I don’t think Ben was as bad as the previews made him look. Yes they all feel competitive with him because they can tell he’s “in the lead” but he doesn’t seem intentional about it like Bentley or Tierra. When approached by the other guys about his rude ‘cutting-in’ I thought he handled himself like a gentleman. The nice-guy thing would be not to interrupt people when you already have a rose, but at least afterwards he wasn’t all “I’m not here to be your friend” “I’ll do what I want”. He was still respectful in word, even if not in action. So I will wait and see what happens before I decide if he is the evil one to hate this season or if the other guys are just jealous. Con #2: Michael needs to learn how to tell a story faster anyway. I mean why do they always have to start a story out with “well it all started with a phone call…(add drama & suspense) instead of just saying …”I have diabetes.” Come on, make a long story short people you know you could be interrupted at any second, and whoops you were. Pro #2: I LOVE Desiree’s green gown, so beautiful.  Pro/Con?: Brandon shares his story of a tough childhood with Des and she appreciates it but is she into him? I can see him possibly getting labeled as the “too emotional/insecure one”.

At the Rose Ceremony Des sends home Will (No!), Nick (No!) and Robert (aka Caterpillar-brow). I thought Will and Nick were two of the hotter guys and certainly would have kept them around longer. Disappointed in that decision. This week my top picks are Bryden, Brooks, and Juan Pablo. Ben & Brandon are now questionable. What are your thoughts? Anyone else feel as irritable about it as I did?

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