Thursday, December 30, 2010

On Christmas, Briefly.

In remembrance of the emotional frenzy into which I whipped myself last Christmas, my only goal for this Christmas past was to keep my own stress at a minimal level and to just enjoy myself and the family. This endeavor was only tested once as I knelt before Chloe on Christmas day in Mom A's bathroom and surveyed the streaks of vomit that now decorated her white shirt, her jeans and her hair. It splattered around the toilet and slid across the sleeves of her parka, and for two seconds I fought back tears as they stung the backs of my eyelids.

They were not tears for throw up, but tears for Paul who was napping at home and safely removed from a puke-splattered seven year old; tears for his oldest daughter who hasn't quite figured it all out; tears for cranky attitudes; tears for homesickness, and tears for sleep deprivation. But, as I am learning how to do, I pulled it together, grabbed a roll of paper towels to mop up the offending detritus as thoroughly as possible, and poured another glass of wine.

Our Christmas should not be summed up in my own overwhelmed tears, but in family, in generous spirits, in good food and in celebration. It was with these attitudes that we trekked from one parent's house to the next--from Gig Harbor to Oak Harbor and back.

And although I didn't dwell on the fact, I knew in the back of my mind that this was the last Christmas to be celebrated in Oak Harbor--the last Christmas to be spent at home.

It was a good one.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

A Little of Nothing

  • I just made our ferry reservations to head up to the island on the day after Christmas.
  • I'm excited about that just a little...
  • We have less than half of our Christmas shopping done, but I'm okay with that. I'm not panicking.
  • A few of you will be getting homemade gifts this year.
  • But most of you will not.
  • I was going to take a picture of my socks just now, but my co-worker walked in and caught me. How embarrassing.
  • I think I covered well though.
  • The Wall was amazing.
  • The aging hippies and rednecks, not so much.
  • The pot smoke...let's just say that if my sinuses hadn't been so stuffed up, I probably would have gotten a delicious contact high.
  • But it made Paul furious.
  • Back to the socks... one is Lauren's. It's aqua.
  • The other is mine. It's grey.
  • I can't find any of my socks but I'm pretty sure they're at the bottom of the 'giant laundry basket of doom' that waits so patiently for me to fold its contents.
  • I always know it's time to do laundry when I've run out of clean socks, and Paul has run out of clean socks, too, because I've worn them all.
  • My first dress fitting is in three weeks. Do you think I can lose 20 lbs by then?
  • No, me either. But I can try...

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

One Thing Before I Die

I don't have a bucket list. I probably should, and of course there are many things that I would love to do, but I've never gotten around to composing a list--mostly because I can never coordinate my thoughts for long enough to remember the things I want to do. But if I did have a bucket list I know exactly what item number one would be. It's been on my mind for years.

I want to blow something up with a Molotov Cocktail. It doesn't matter what (although I have a few ideas...), as long as I have the pleasure of watching the ensuing destruction.

I let my thoughts wander every now and then (usually when I see one being thrown on TV), and I imagine myself clutching the glass bottle in my right hand, my shaking left hand holding a Bic lighter to the kerosene-soaked rag that snakes out of the bottle neck. I watch the rag ignite; I watch it burn just for a moment before I cock my arm back and hurl the explosive at my target. The bottle shatters against the object, releasing a flaming ball of kerosene and glass shards and I shiver as I watch the explosive results of my efforts.

I feel powerful. I feel destructive. I feel like a bamf.

Don't let my subdued nature fool you...I walk on the wild side! can stop laughing now. Really.

Wordless Wednesday--So Excited



Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Topical Tuesday...Just Go With It

-I learned about throw up last weekend. There's a reason why moms are supposed to learn about throw up from babies. There are fewer chunks, and babies are cuter and therefore less gross. Step moms get to learn about it from seven year olds. Seven year olds who have little brothers who dump over the throw up bowl in the Durango. Seven year olds who had Top Ramen for lunch.

-Fortunately for all involved, the up-chucking only took place at night and in the car, so our mornings and afternoons were free for festive holiday fun! This year I decided to, for the first time, attempt Christmas candy. Since Max has cornered the market on cookies, I planned to make peppermint bark, peanut brittle, buckeyes, and the Christmas fudge that my mom used to make when I was little. The kids were more than willing to help, especially since helping included pounding the crap out of candy canes (and I might have let them eat one, too. Before lunch! I've invoked a 'no candy before lunch' rule, so this was a little exciting.)

Yes, she's still in her pajamas. Sue me...

-Candy-making, unfortunately, results in large quantities of candy in the house. I'm sure Paul doesn't mind, but I decided to share the sugar-heavy wealth with my co-workers. I even packed them up in cute little Holiday-themed take out boxes. I may turn into Martha Stewart yet!

-But the best part? All day men from the shops have been coming into my office and helping themselves to a piece of fudge. They are usually on the run, but every single one has frozen in their tracks, spun around and exclaimed something along the lines of, "That is good!" "Who made that?" "I'll be back in half an hour for more!" I'm a little flattered. Butter, marshmallow creme and chocolate chips can get you everywhere.

-The worst part? Once one of those guys sticks their grubby hands into the candy jar, the threat of germs and filth far outweighs the appeal of chocolatey goodness.

-Wait. Maybe that's the best part...

-Paul had to work late on Friday, so I took the kids out to eat at The Hat (El Sombrero for those of you who want to be literal). Paul's half-Mexican children both ate cheeseburgers and french fries.

I'm pretty sure they think ketchup is a food group

-We also embarked into the wonderful world of learning table manners and restaurant etiquette. Apparently chewing with your mouth closed is very funny when you're five....sigh...

-This post should have been a lot more random and topically wide-spread, but yeah...not a lot has been going on.

-Except we finally got Netflix, which is awesome.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Will the Real Santa Please Stand Up?

Technically, my parents never confirmed nor denied the existence of Santa Claus to Sarah and me. He remained shrouded in mystery, and to be honest I don't know what I thought on those occasions that we were invited to plop ourselves onto the lap of the Jolly Elf, himself. I was probably skeptical, but I know that a part of me wanted so desperately to believe.

On Saturday, Chloe, Nicholas and I headed north to Poulsbo for the annual Shop With A Cop event (go here for an event rundown). As usual, Grandma Max turned on her charm as Mrs. Claus and this year Bill joined her as Santa, and it occured to me that this might be confusing. Grandma and Bill were Mrs. Claus and Santa?

We got around this little discrepancy by telling the kids that Grandma would take messages for Santa, and e-mail him later. Makes sense!

Sunday found us at Camp Murray for Paul's Christmas Party. Santa was to make an appearance here as well, and I found myself by the bouncy house when he made his grand entrance into the gym, Ho Ho Ho-ing and shaking his jingle bells.

Nicholas had already flown out of the inflated castle, but the other little boy inside wasn't as quick. He poked his head out of the mesh entry, took one look at Santa and announced, "That's not Santa!"

"Of course it is," I replied.

"Nope," he retorted. "That guy's wearing Army boots. Santa wears black boots." Sharp kid...

Fortunately I was ready for him. "They flew Santa in from the North Pole on a helicopter, so he had to wear Army boots!"

The kid narrowed his eyes at me, but he seemed, for the moment, to believe me.

Funny how, in a culture inundated with caucasian Santas, not one kid noticed that this Santa was black...but they noticed that he was wearing the wrong boots!

How many Santas will the kids see this year? There's a Santa in every mall, every department store, and on the street corners. He's in parades and on tv. Shouldn't he be up at the North Pole, working his prodigious bottom off in efforts to be ready by December 25?

This thought doesn't occur to those who believe in him most; it's the child-like wonder and unquestioning spirit that makes the holidays magical. And I have to remind myself that I should enjoy the season in that same way.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Mildly Tongue In Cheek

Paul bought a new, very large TV for our bedroom. It hangs almost from the ceiling and is tilted in such a way that we do not have to rearrange ourselves from our sleeping positions in the slightest to view it comfortably.

I'm thinking of calling it Cousin.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Untimely Death

Last Friday as I trundled up the on ramp to Highway 16, a little bunny decided he needed to dash down the same ramp, and unfortunately he did not quite make it. I didn't know such a small rabbit could cause such a large bump beneath my tires.

Apparently news of my bunnycide travelled quickly. Last night Paul returned from filling our water jugs at Chris and Tiffany's with a thoughtful gift from Hailey and Tayla:

Friday, November 26, 2010

We're Legit!

My family made it for Thanksgiving. After a two-day water loss scare, our water came back on just in time for me to tell them, yes, go ahead and make the trip down. However, when the eight people in my home woke up on Thursday morning, the water was gone again, and has yet to return. We survived.

But this is a different story.

Last night we all gathered, more or less, around the table in Maxine's front room. Thanksgiving was different this year--quieter. Instead of the usual chaos that marks a family holiday, we found ourselves eating together, all in the same room, all at the same time, chit chatting, teasing, and enjoying each other's company. My family dominated the table--Mom and Dad, Sarah and Lindsey, Paul and Lauren--and Chris and Tiffany occupied the two left over seats. Max and Bill sat on the couch behind us, and Aunt Sara folded her tall frame into the chair in the corner.

As we finished up our meal, Tiffany, the family sentimentalist, made a suggestion: "I know it's kind of cheesy, but what if we all say what we're thankful for?" Chris volunteered to go first, and one by one each person in the room offered their thanks, mostly for family, shelter and delicious food.

My turn came second to last, with only Paul left. I fought tears as I thought about what I would say, but when the time came I was composed enough to say, "I'm thankful for you guys, my new family. I'm thankful that you're here for me as my own family moves to Arizona." (I might have included the term 'abandoned')

"You're jumping the gun a bit on the whole family thing, aren't you?" Paul teased.

And I shot back, "you know that if we break up they're keeping me and sending you packing!"

He turned in his chair to face me as he took his turn. "I'm thankful for second chances," he began.

"And third, and fourth!" Chris couldn't help but add.

Paul continued, "and I'm thankful that the Johnson family is here to share this day with us. And I would be especially thankful if..."

Paul put his hand in his pocket, and all of a sudden we were alone in the room. He took my left hand in his own and began to remove my promise ring. It stuck, of course, so I took it off myself, and as he slipped a new ring on my finger, he continued, "Will you?"

With tears streaming down my cheeks I retorted, "You didn't ask me!"

"Will you be my wife?"

My arms flew around his neck and I pressed my cheek to his as I answerd, "Yes! Of course I will!"

To be honest, I have no idea what was going on around me. I was vaguely aware that Tiffany had eaten dinner with her camera in her lap and was now snapping pictures. My mom's eyes glistened as she grinned at me, and suddenly I realized that I had been set up...everyone knew. And it worked--I was completely shocked and surprised.

A family proposal isn't right for everybody, but at that moment, with almost all of the people that I love best present, the timing was perfect. I've always known that I wouldn't just be marrying Paul--I'd be marrying his whole family. And I couldn't be happier.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Followed By A Sentimental Thought

My mom and I are chatting on Facebook as is our daily routine (what, you thought the Navy paid me to work? Psshh...). I am asking her for recipes that I have loved growing up--recipes that she got from my dad's mom who died when I was a baby.

Mom told me recently that when Virginia died, she used her weight as the oldest daughter-in-law to obtain the little box of recipes that was apparently coveted by the other wives. She said that Virginia was an amazing cook and a tireless hostess, and Mom wanted this piece of her.

That little wooden box sits in the cupboard above my mom's oven. It's filled with yellowed index cards that bear the scars of years of love and use. Their edges curl and the favorite recipes are stained in grease and chocolate and flour. Some recipes are written in Virginia's neat, spidery handwriting, using archaic words like oleo. Others are printed recipes torn from soup can labels and shoved in between the note cards. Still others have been added by my mom, written in her own soft, curling handwriting on recipe cards decorated in pink and blue.

Mom has offered to type up the recipes so I can add them to my own collection. Obviously, I am excited! But at the same time, I feel a twinge of sadness. A computer printout on stark white paper seems so sterile to me. I've just realized that the handwriting, the ancient stains, the yellowed paper were as much a part of the recipes as the eggs and the sugar.

This isn't worth feeling sad over, but maybe someday I'll use my weight as the oldest daughter to get that little box of history for myself.

Get A Heart, Heather!

Every now and then I get the urge to work on myself. You know...self improvement and all that ambitious stuff. It very rarely lasts long as I usually forget what I was doing before I make any real progress.

Lately my ambition has been sentimentality. Now, if you have suggestions on how one can force oneself to become sentimental, please, please share. I apparently need all the help I can get.

I know that I must have been sentimental at one point. On top of my dining room bookshelf sits a hat box that is filled to the brim with notes, cards, mementos, knick knacks, drawings and other bits of flotsam and jetsam that document the life of a high schooler. Yet another slightly less full box sits next to that with physical reminders of my early 20s. But that's it.

I remained blissfully unaware of my lack of a warm, beating heart until several months ago when I found myself following Paul around a Michael's craft store as we waited for a movie to begin. He indulged me in a brief stop at the wedding aisle where I perused their do-it-yourself ideas.

A set of engravable champagne glasses caught his eye. "Are you going to get some of these?"

I probably should have thought before I responded, but why implement that habit now? "Ugh!" I replied. "I hate those things. Nothing is tackier to me than engraving your name and anniversary on ugly glasses!"

Paul looked shocked. "You mean you wouldn't want to have them? We could take them out and toast each other on our anniversary! Where's your sentimentality?"

"I mean, I...well..." I stammered. "I just don't like the looks of engraved glass, that's all. I think it's dumb."

"You have no heart," Paul determined.

I'll admit, that kind of bothered me. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that I wasn't sentimental. It never occurred to me that I might want to keep stuff like that. I guess I just figured that when the wedding was over, it was over and we moved on with our new life as husband and wife.

Our heated discussion continued as we walked into the movie theatre. "It's not that I'm not sentimental. I just don't like stuff!"

"That's why you're so hard to shop for," Paul retorted. "I never know what you'll like because you don't like anything."

We did reach a middle ground, please be assured. I found a pair of beautiful, hand-painted champagne glasses that do not need to be engraved, but we can still take them out each year to celebrate each other.

Fast forward to just a few weeks ago. Paul and I were discussing invitations and how many to order, and Paul brought up something I hadn't even thought about.

"You'll get one to keep for your scrapbook, right?"

"My what?"

"Aren't you going to keep a scrapbook of all the wedding stuff? A memory book."

It had never once crossed my mind. Of course I would, but I was a little sad that he had to remind me to keep memories.

The more I think about it, the more I realize that mementos of memories are not just for me. Someday I might have grandkids, and I want to be able to show them pieces of Paul's and my past, to tell them stories and share those little trinkets with them. In the sunset of my life, wouldn't it be nice to pick up a knick knack and reminisce about the vacation on which it was purchased, the situations surrounding its history?

That will be my motivation. Not my own memories, but the history I can create for my stepchildren and grandchildren. The pieces of Paul and me that they might cherish when we are gone.

So...I guess I've succeeded in my first step towards sentimentality--admitting that I have a problem. Next step? I supposed I should get over my fear of having 'stuff.' After all stuff is only stuff until there's a good memory behind it.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


Today. Today! Today, he is free to be wholly and completely mine. I love today. 

Monday, November 15, 2010

My Lil' Sister the Senior

My mom and Lindsey came to visit a few weekends ago, and Tiffany spent a rainy Saturday morning at the Bremerton waterfront with us, capturing Lindsey's Senior portraits.

I spent the day in denial.

Photos by Tiffany


Written 9.29.2010

My mom, with the urging of the Navy, moved to Whidbey Island in 1978 and although it has been considered a few times over the years, she has never moved away. But if you were to ask her where her home was, she would immediately reply with Wisconsin.

Home, to her, is with her mom and dad, her sister and brother, and all the aunts, uncles and cousins that accompanied her through her childhood. Home is a place she visits once a year or every couple of years. Home is a town in the midwest, even if the actual house has changed once or twice.

Whidbey Island is the place the Navy sent her 32 years ago.

My home is with Paul and the kids. It's not a house or a town, but a place in my heart where I hold us all together--a place to fill with love, comfort and security. It's where I belong, I have learned.

But today, I realized that home can be more than one place. In a way, I still consider Whidbey Island to be my home, as well. The Island is a part of me; salt water runs through my veins, and I retain my Islander characteristics, both good and bad. My family is on the Island. The houses that I grew up in are on the Island. It is, perhaps, the only place in the world with which I am thoroughly familiar and comfortable.

And now to let the cat out of the bag. Next June, after Lindsey graduates from highschool, she and my parents will pack up the house that we have lived in for 12 years, leave their church and our community, and head south to Arizona. Instead of a three hour drive away, they will be a three hour flight away.

When I first heard this news almost a year ago, I was more than excited for them. Despite its charm, Whidbey Island can sometimes be a dead end and I was glad for the opportunities that they would experience in another state. Paul's family had already gathered me in as one of their own, so I knew I would be okay here.

But today, Tiffany mentioned something that gave me pause--she couldn't imagine her family living anywhere but San Angelo.

Are my family and the Island separate from each other, or do they complement each other? Collectively, do they make up what I consider to be one of my homes? When I visit my parents in  Arizona, will it feel like the home I used to know?

What will happen when they move out of state, and I'm here, and Sarah is on the Island? Will the time between visits lengthen as the years go by? Will we end up like my dad and his brothers, grown completely out of touch by distance and a lack of commonality? Or like my mom's? Children growing up without their grandparents, without aunts and uncles and all the things I never knew I had missed until I gained them through in-laws?

Families break away from each other through the course of life. It's a natural evolution. But the main core usually stays in tact. There is usually a place to return to--a familiar home with cluster of relatives.

Will we still have that?

I'm still okay with this move. I still think it's a great opportunity.

But today I am homesick, and I wonder where that home really is.

Green Lantern Lines

Jesse stood behind the counter, tall and slightly cumbersome with one beefy hand planted firmly on either side of the register. "Welcome to Taco Bell," he greeted Tiffany, who studiously examined the menu board despite the fact that she knew exactly what she wanted.

Jesse lives in his mother's basement, I'm sure. His eyes, his hair, his skin are all the same tone of bland, and his wire-framed glasses are perched low on a nose covered in adult acne. He must be 30 at least. I wonder about his Mountain Dew consumption...his online girlfriend...the percentage of his paycheck that must be devoted to his World of Warcraft account. Jesse has peaked.

I stepped up to the counter once Tiffany had retrieved her paper cup and receipt and opened my mouth to order, but Jesse beat me to the punch.

"Green Lantern comes out in May," he announced. He said it quietly and his colorless eye peered at me sideways, waiting for my reaction.

This guy is good! I thought to myself and my mind raced backwards to my first encounter with Jesse.

Several weeks before, Tiffany and I had gazed up at the menu board as we did every other week or so, (Okay, once a week. Sheesh.) while Jesse waited patiently for our order. I took my place at the counter to order and was taken off guard by this baffling statement: "Didja know Ryan Reynolds is playing Green Lantern in the new movie coming out?"


I blinked blankly at the tall man and his random statement, and scrambled for an intelligent response. "Uh...yeah, I did hear that. Pretty excited for the movie?"

Thank you, Paul, for giving me an unsolicited rundown on your expectations for the new Green Lantern movie.

He answered with a comic book trivia-riddled reply and a thought dawned on me. I was wearing Paul's Green Lantern sweatshirt. This guy mistook me for someone who has even a slight idea about comics! I waded my way through the conversation and even managed to leave him thinking that maybe, just maybe I knew what I was talking about. My food arrived just as I ran out of comic book intellect, and I scrambled with relief to escape the conversation.

Today, my mind was blank--completely devoid of Green Lantern chit chat. Jesse gazed at me expectantly, and this time he creeped me out. I mumbled an excuse of a reply and avoided his stare  as he completed the transaction. His transparent eyes followed me as I filled my plastic cup with diet Pepsi, and they clung to me as I took my seat across from Tiffany. Directly in front of Jesse's station. Awkward.

I felt his eyes bore into me as we ate, and it occured to me... I wasn't wearing the sweatshirt today. Six or eight weeks had passed between my encounters with Jesse, and he remembered me and our conversation. Maybe I still have it. But...I'm pretty sure I don't want it.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Hit the Snooze Button. It's OK. I Do It Too.

It's time to admit it. I'm boring.

Please shuffle through my backlog of entries and find something a little more brilliant to remind yourself that yes, at one time I did have something interesting to say. And I might have even said it fairly well.

How do you shake your boring?

In the meantime, here's a photo of the kids in their Piratey gear. Arggh.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

How Facebook Ruined My Life

For years, coffee was an unwelcome presence in the Johnson family home. My parents both hated the taste, and coffee-drinking never became a part of their morning routine. The only time that nutty aroma of freshly brewed coffee showed its face in our home was on the occasion that my grandparents visited, or the even rarer occasion that my mom hosted a baby or wedding shower, or a church home group meeting. (And truth be told, she served instant coffee for those home gatherings)

It was a special treat then to take a small sip from the top of Grandma or Grandpa's steaming mug of bitter brew. I never dared to slurp too much, though. My parents reminded us continually that coffee drinking will make you short. And I believed them. My non-coffee drinking parents, at 6'1" and 5'10", towered over my caffeine-addicted grandparents. It made perfect sense.

But with the advent of Starbucks and a cozy coffee house or drive-through stand on every corner, my mom found her opinion of coffee changing. She found that, hidden beneath plenty of milk and a more than healthy dose of chocolate syrup, coffee was quite bearable.

And then, the world invented French Vanilla Coffee Mate creamer. My mom loves Coffee Mate creamer. Every morning she has a few cups of Coffee Mate creamer, diluted with a splash of coffee. And in the afternoon she microwaves the remains of the morning's coffee to enjoy her creamer again.

Coffee time has become family time when we're all at home. My mom, Sarah and I sit around the kitchen table with our mugs of coffee...Mom's diluted to within an inch of its life (especially if Sarah made the pot), Sarah's strong and heavy, but lightened with a healthy dose of Coffee Mate, and mine with just enough creamer to turn my coffee the color of a CPO's khaki uniform.  While we have graduated to more complex flavors than just French vanilla (Belgian chocolate toffee anyone?), you are hard pressed to find us drinking cofee without Coffee Mate.

Coffee Mate has established itself as a pillar of our culture of comfort and togetherness.

But yesterday my world was shattered--by a simple Facebook status update.
Sorry to make you bust out your reading glasses...
Prompted by Jennifer's comment about creamer having no dairy (which I knew), I decided to read the ingredients on the back of Steve's carton of Coffee Mate as I poured some into my waiting coffee mug. Big mistake.

**Note: If you prefer to have your illusions of flavored coffee creamer remain unsquelched, please stop reading now.

-Partially hydrogenated soybean oil or cottonseed oil
-Less than 2% of Sodim Caseinate (a milk derivative)
-A long list of chemicals whose names I can barely sound out

I almost threw up in my mouth. And then I poured the creamer into my cup. After all, I've been drinking the stuff for years. Why should anything be different today? Could knowledge really change taste?

I took a sip of my coffee and my mouth filled with the bitter, greasy taste of vegetable oil. The smooth texture that I once loved now reminded me of the feeling you get when you've eaten too much tempura. I might as well just drink motor oil.

Needless to say, the mug sat full on my desk for the rest of the day.

Maybe it was just a fluke. Maybe it was just a temporary reaction to becoming aware of some of the things we put in our bodies. Maybe this morning, my coffee would taste ok.

I poured a dollop of Toffee Nut Coffee Mate into my cup, topped it off with coffee, and went to work.

Alas, that cup, half filled with a combination of Folgers and vegetable oil, still sits in the Durango. I couldn't drink it.

Facebook ruined coffee for me.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Take Paul's Cat, Please!

Free to Good Home or Mediocre Chinese Restaurant

One Extremely Large, Moderately Entertaining Cat

Answers to Natasha, or more commonly, Fat A$$, Fat Fatty Fat Fat, Dumb Sh!t, Fatty McFatstein, etc.

Rubics cube is provided for scale and is not included in this giveaway

Physical Characteristics Include:
  • Morbid Obesity
  • Random, asthetically confusing multi-colored markings, giving her the appearance of a pigmentally mutated bovine.
  • One crumpled ear
  • Crossed eyes, granting her a perpetual air of confusion
  • Kitty tourettes
  • Butt clumps
  • Litter toes 
  • Belly flop
  • Nails-on-a-chalkboard meow
  • Multi-colored/shaped/textured hairballs left in inappropriate places
  • Walking results in household tremors
  • Communicates with a voice similar to Eric Cartman
  • Terrible at math
Personality Characteristics Include:
  • Extreme stupidity (even for a cat)
  • Lack of social awareness
  • Lack of consideration for personal space
    Only surviving stem of what could
    have been a thriving houseplant
    Lack of consideration for personal property
  • Cannot cover her own poo
  • Will not go more than 12 minutes without a meal
  • Refuses to allow my heritage shamrock to sprout without being promptly eaten
  • Cannot keep her disgusting hair to herself
  • Refuses to do laundry or clean up when humans are away
Please reply to this advert to make this mutant feline a part of your family. Better yours than mine...

Disclaimer: You may have to engage Paul in hand-to-hand combat to succeed in removing Natasha from our home.

How I Really Rate

With a new home location and a closer proximity to civilization came new carpooling arrangements. Now, instead of meeting up at a park and ride, I head directly to Chris and Tiffany's each morning and go with Tiff to drop her girls off at daycare. And at the end of the day we pick them up and head home together.

Each afternoon, I unbuckle Tayla from her car seat, gather my things and head to my car to go home. Before I can get too far, Tayla cries after me, "Hug and kiss! Hug and kiss!" Of course I oblige...who can resist that three-year-old face tilted up for some end-of-day affection?

Yesterday, the warm and fuzzies followed me down the driveway as Tayla yelled after me, "I love you! I love you!"

"I love you, too, Tayla!"

The fuzzies didn't seem to last very long. This morning on the way to daycare, Tayla asked her mom, "Do we have Heather every morning?"

Photos by Tiffany
"I think we're going to keep Heather for a very long time, Tayla. She's a nice girl."

I had to butt in. "Are you tired of me, Tayla?"


I love you, too, Tayla...

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Thankful Thursday

I haven't done one of these in quite some time, and I'm feeling a little guilty about it. No matter what is going on, there's always something to be thankful for. Sometimes you just don't wanna, ya know?

Today, my honeyface (new nickname. Ya like? I don't think he does, but this is my blog and I can do what I want.) isn't feeling well. He has a headache and an upset tummy, and last night he woke up a few times to indulge in a good coughing fit. He's a miserable man.

Makes me sound kinda mean, huh? Talking about Paul's illness on a Thankful post... But there's more.

This morning I looked up the symptoms of nicotine withdrawal, and they include:
  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Cold symptoms
  • Insomnia
  • Boredom
Why does this matter, you ask? Because up until last Wednesday, Paul smoked a pack a day. And today he has gone eight whole days without smoking once.

So while I'm sad that he's not feeling well, I am so so proud of him. He's been strong and determined, and while I know it has been difficult for him, he hasn't given up or given in. He has a goal, and he is well on his way to seeing it through.

I love you baby; I'm proud of you; I'm thankful for you, and I'm behind you every step of the way.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Six Thoughts This Tuesday. I mean Wednesday.

1. What happened to my tongue? All of a sudden my Ss are coming out like annoying Ts with a little pphhttbbtt lined up behind them to give the illusion of a certified sibilant. My tongue is like a stone between my teeth. Words trip and stumble to find their way out of my mouth, and I sometimes get so frustrated with trying to get those words out properly that I simply stop talking. I used to be an excellent speaker. I haven't always been as shy as I may seem now, and believe it or not, I do have a few opinions. I just can't talk.

2. Last night I turned onto our gravel road with our garbage cans on my mind. For the first time in a year, I wouldn't have to climb a quarter mile of slippery mud, dragging the cans behind me to be put away. I would simply walk the 50 flat feet between the road and the house. To say this fact excites me is a gross understatement.

My mind quickly leaped from the garbage cans to the refuse, itself, when I found the contents of one of our bags strewn across the road and in our new neighbors' yards. One black bag hadn't fit into our can, and I had set it aside to be included in next week's objectionable offerings. Our friendly neighborhood free range canine apparently found the bag, dragged it through through the gravel past three of our neighbors' driveways, and proceeded to rip through the waste and distribute it throughout the neighborhood. While this is the third time our garbage has been knocked over and strewn about, it is the first time that the mess extended beyond the confines of our driveway. Lovely.

So what do we do? Knock on the offending owner's door, introduce ourselves, and demand that the dog be tied up? To complicate matters even more, another neighbor has already proclaimed her affection for the yellow lab, and let us know in no uncertain terms that he should be allowed to run freely as he pleases. Not the best way to start out these relationships.
Ok, so this may not be our street, and it may be an exaggeration, but still!
 3. Lady Looney is asleep at her desk. Soon she'll let out a snore and wake herself up.

4. I can't commit to anything wedding related. This could start to be a problem soon, but I don't know what's keeping me from committing to what I thought I had already decided on. I want to be married...I just don't know how. I don't know when, either, or where. Fortunately, I do know who, what and why so in the long run I should be able to conquer this ridiculous mindset.

5. There is a new mindset in our house, starting tonight. For Paul, it is a "pass PT!!!!" mindset, and for me, it is a "don't hate yourself in wedding pictures!!!!" mindset. So we're going to run. Well, Paul is going to run; I'll walk, and feel guilty for not running too, but we all know that I just can't do it. And speed walking, for women is just as good or better (please don't picture me with my arms windmilling maniacally and my hypothetical ponytail bobbing in rhythm. I promise, I don't look that stupid when I'm walking). Sorry honey, but just because the Army says it's the right way to do things doesn't necessarily mean it is the right way to do things. Not for me anyway. He's determined, and that will help me to be determined, too. Now if I could just sneak more green things into his diet... Wish us luck!

6. Speaking of the Army....Grrr!!! Remember those seven values, please, and reorganize yourself a bit to return to them.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Nicholas, the Good Sport

Nicholas and I had last weekend all to ourselves.

After an uneventful Saturday that consisted of a trip to Goodwill (wherein we purchased an only slightly dented file cabinet for $6.99, and Nicholas found himself terrified speechless by a well-meaning employee dressed in an inflatable muscle man costume) and a quick stop at Wal-Mart, I decided that we should get out of town for a bit on Sunday.

Now believe me, I vacillated on the wisdom of our impending trip. My tentative plan was to take Nicholas with me to Silverdale. To check out our previously unchecked-out reception location, and to try to find a dress. A formal dress.

I finally decided that yes, we would go, but that I would be kind and wouldn't exhaust Nicholas' little body or his patience in my search for a lovely dress that would agree to zip over my decolletage.

Our first stop was Ross, Dress for Less. Nicholas followed me quietly while I scanned the dress racks. Occassionally he would grab a frock by the sleeve and ask, "What about this one?" He was only mildly disappointed when I rejected a black polyester number with metal biker studs around the waistband. I just wasn't sure how the biker look would stand up next to Paul's dress blues...

Finally I selected five dresses and we made our way to the fitting rooms. I positioned Nicholas in an empty room directly across from mine, closed the curtain and began to remove my high top Chuck Taylors. I had my sweatshirt and one shoe off when I heard my name called from the opposite room. "Heather? I have to go to the bathroom!"

After our pit stop (I had to go, too!), Nicholas made barely a peep as I tried on each dress and stepped out of the curtained room to show him. His reactions varied from a tiny wrinkled up nose to a quiet nod accompanied by "I like it."

After a few more fruitless stops, we found ourselves in a dressing room at JCPenney. Nicholas perched on a little padded stool outside of my fitting room and remained non-committal to the first few dresses. A shrug of his skinny shoulders said it all.

After several dresses, I stepped out in a floor length black gown and asked Nicholas what he thought.

He scrutinized me closely and with all the wisdom of his five years, he uttered these words: "It doesn't matter what I think. You have to like it."

His daddy taught him well.

"Nicholas!" I exclaimed. "You don't like it?"

Once again he shrugged his shoulders. "Nah. It's too long. Try on that short black and white one."

"Yes sir!"

I think I've found my new stylist...

Exhausted by an afternoon of retail therapy.
Don't feel too sorry for him...he was compensated for his patience with a vanilla bean Frappaccino, a Happy Meal and a scoop of bubble gum ice cream from Baskin Robbins.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Cold Feet: Not For the Marriage...Just the Wedding.

There's a contract sitting on my desk.
It's been there for well over a week.
It's due tomorrow, in addition to a $250 deposit.
To be dropped off at the Kitsap County Parks & Rec office.
For a wedding reception location.
A location that I haven't actually had the chance to look at yet.
I don't know which idea makes me more nervous.
That I haven't seen it...
Or that it will be the first absolute, the first handing over of funds, the first real, followed-through plan.
The date will be locked.
I'll be having an actual wedding.
Not Vegas.
Not a back yard.
I wish Paul had a little more opinion on these things.
I don't want to make these decisions alone.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

We Made Tayla Cry

Last Thursday after work, Tiffany picked her girls up from daycare and stopped by our house where all the boys were hard at work laying bamboo flooring. Tayla, Chris and Tiffany's three year old daughter, looked around with wide blue eyes at what used to be her grandma's house. All of Grandma's photos and knick knacks were gone. Her furniture was gone, and in place of Grandma's familiar ordered chaos, sawdust, power tools and carpet scraps reigned.

Tayla's eyes filled with tears and her lower lip pouted out. "Where's Grandma's house? I want Grandma's house back!"

Tiffany explained that Grandma lived with Bill now, and that this was Uncle Paul and Heather's house. Tayla really didn't like the idea and her sadness and confusion evolved into full on crying.

Until I handed her a marker and told her she could color on the subfloor.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Subfloor Messages

The floors are down, and they are beautiful. The guys did an excellent job and I'm both proud of them and impressed by them.

Before they laid the flooring in the dining room, the guys added their own bit of personality to live on, unseen, beneath the bamboo. I couldn't help but add my two cents.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

I Never Want to See Another Paint Roller Again

I realize that this blog has lost any semblance of art it may once have held. I love writing good pieces and believe me, once I can write them again I will. But for now you have to be content with boring updates and insights into my little world.

After a very long week we are done painting the house. Well, a few spots might need touch up, but all the hard work is done. And not a moment too body is about to succumb to painting exhaustion. How do people do this for a living? It turned out pretty nicely if I do say so...

This is the living room. Trust me, it's not nearly as yellow as this picture makes it look. The room looks bright and warm and mellow.

And here is the dining room. Believe it or not, Paul picked out the purple. I think it turned out really nicely!

Seen all together, the red of the kitchen, the yellow living room and the purple dining room coordinate really well. I was worried that it might look like Rainbow Bright puked all over our house, but that's not the case at all.

This Thursday, Paul, Christopher and Peter will lay bamboo flooring in the kitchen, dining room and entryway, and at long last we'll be able to finish moving in! I can't wait...I'm really sick of this whole moving thing.

I thought you'd like to know that I survived my first dress-trying-on experience. And I actually had fun! Once I discovered that I don't necessarily look like a linebacker draped in satin, I was able to relax and get an idea of what I want to wear.

At one point, the consultant said, "do what you're the bride!"

And I thought, oh my goodness. I am. How weird is that?

I didn't find the dress, but I did find a lovely number for my mom to wear. It's what we in the Johnson family fondly refer to as a 'mother of the bride' dress. In other words, awful beyond words. Here's Tiffany modeling the frothy, bedazzled confection: