Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Your "What's-Gone-On-In-the-Last-Two-Weeks-If-You-Really-Care" Update

So, yeah, it's been two weeks since I last blogged.
(Way to go, me ... sounds like I'm starting with a confession. I'm not Catholic, but I do have some friends who are ... and it's not like I haven't seen movies where a character is in Confession ... I digress. Like I always do.)

Okay, since June 9th ...

Well, I WANTED this to be a fun, chatty post, since I got back in touch with my high-school Theater teacher (also taught Writing for College, which was a great class, too). (No, I'm NOT trying to suck up, okay? I really did enjoy those classes AND having him as a teacher/friend. Geez, you guys.) ... where was I? Oh yes ... AND I would have really preferred, since I told him that I have a blog and he said that he'd be glad to read it, to have something witty and funny and well-drafted ... but, well, it is what it is (didn't Vonnegut say that? I find myself saying it a lot. And I think it's a quote ... Whatever. I've just gotten up and I can't brain yet).

Sorry, Mr. A. I really did want to be clever and awesome. But, well, at least you know that I didn't hire a ghostwriter or anything, right?

SO ... the kids are out of school for the summer. Bruise and Bucket had their well-child check-up. They're current on their shots (Bucket had pumped herself up to be prepared for a vaccination, though I was pretty sure she didn't need one, so she was bummed NOT to get a shot. ... Yup, that's my girl).
That's how we started Summer Vacation -- go to the doctor's, then take the kids' to Grandma's house (while Mom and Dad go to a meeting [read that: get to a meeting rather late because the guy in charge of getting information only told us the [City] Stake Center, not an address. So we went to the church building in [City], then had to call our sister-in-law to figure out where we (and another ten cars) SHOULD be ... which meant that we were BARELY on time. Which meant that Michael had to listen to me grouse about how I HATE being late. Poor guy. At least we got to eat at the Pita Pit for dinner, so it wasn't terrible. And the meeting was good [about missionary work]).

Backtracking -- the kids had a fun time at their class trip to OMSI. I was feeling guilty about not going with (but then I'd have to run Bubbles up to Mom C's, run the kids and myself BACK into town, drive up to OMSI -- most likely carpooling, so then I'd have to drop off everyone BACK at the school and run BACK UP to Mom C's, AND THEN go back home) ... however, since I found myself being VERY GOOD FRIENDS with Mr. Toilet that day, I didn't feel so guilty.
(I would have said that I didn't feel so bad, but that would have been a lie. Since I was NOT feeling good by any means. Not for a while.)

I've agreed to be PTC (Parent-Teacher Club) Secretary for the 2015-2016 school year.
Sounds like the meetings will be moved to Tuesday evenings, which mostly work better for me. Michael can pick up the kids (and take Bucket to her Activity Days twice a month) ... I'd better prepare a metric crapton of slow cooker meals.
It also sounds like there'll be a morning meeting once a month. I'm sure they'll get used to me in pajamas, schlepping my brood in. (I jest, I jest. But I WILL be rocking a ponytail with my I-threw-this-on-right-before-running-to-the-car ensemble.)

Before the kids went down to stay a week with grandfolks (they stayed with my dad and L Monday; then, until Friday, they were with my mom and stepdad), we did the kick-off for the city summer activity/scavenger hunt/passport program/thing. It's actually really fun. You get a little passport and go around (mostly downtown) and collect stamps from participating businesses. At some places, you need to do something to earn your stamp. At others, you get to make something (like at the paint-you-own pottery, you paint a little trinket [which you'll come back later to pick up, after it's been put into the kiln and cooled. Or, at a coffee shop/deli, (at least last year) kids made their own, free, Italian soda. Or you had to shoot so many baskets on the court at the YMCA. Stuff like that]). Some are out a little ways -- in one, you go to a historic mill, which makes a nice day trip. it's fun to go on the tour and into the little interpretive center -- grind some flour by hand. Maybe feed the chickens and turkeys ...

But, yeah, Bruise, Bucket, and Bubbles had fun spending the week with grandfolks. They all came back happy, tired, and sunburned (I know they did put on sunscreen. They were JUST in the sun that much).

While they were gone, I had high hopes of laying in bed and reading all day (like I could do pre-kids). Instead I did small bursts of cleaning ... and got my hair colored.
Tuesday, I went through the kids' outgrown clothing and got that sorted. Then I went to the salon for my appointment. I'm now even blonder (working towards platinum, since that's one of the [few] colors I haven't done) and sporting some fun streaks. We tried to do teal, purple, and pink ... but the pink didn't take at all. So I have fun teal and purple streaks (hadn't done purple streaks before. I've done teal, but only on the bottom-most layer of hair. And that was years ago) happening.
Then Michael and I went to see Jurassic World (which was good despite not starring Dr. Ian Malcom. Though, trivia says (and I missed it), that Jeff Goldblum's picture IS featured on a couple books held by two characters in the film).

Wednesday, I cleaned up the house a bit and organized a freezer (which NEEDED to happen, because I was sick and tired of foisting off an impeding avalanche EVERY time I opened that stinkin' freezer), since we were feeding the missionaries. One of the elders is going to be going home soon. Which is a bummer (for us) since he's really fun. But we know that his family misses him, so we'll deal.
After dinner, we went to Home Depot to go pick up supplies for Thursday evening ...

Thursday, I spent around four hours cleaning up the kids' room. Two bags of stuff to donate. Another FULL bag of trash, countless passes with the vacuum on every bit of floor that I could reach, cleaning off the BIG shelves ... and their room was clean. BUT ONLY HALF OF THEIR ROOM.
(We worked on the other half of the floor and the closet on Sunday. Happy Father's Day, Honey!)

Then I went shoe shopping. I ended up with a pair of sneakers (goal), a pair of dress shoes (secondary goal), a pair of nice flip-flops, and a new shirt (bonus!) And some new socks. And a swim cap to protect my dye job (which sort of worked).

Thursday night, we spent building Bubbles's new bed, since she bent the frame of her (used) toddler bed by jumping on it. Whoops. Michael cut the boards, I sanded the boards. We ran to Home Depot again (another board and more sandpaper). We bolted the thing together and screwed down the plywood ... If a bomb should happen, that bed might burn to the ground. But it'll burn to the ground as a thing SOLIDLY BOLTED TOGETHER. Doesn't even shake or shiver when I sit on it.

Friday, I went to work with Michael. I helped Paige (the office manager) by collapsing cardboard boxes (which brought back memories as I used the boxcutter. Even though it's been around 20 years, I still know how to employ boxcutter safety. Thank you Shop Smart and your [kinda boring] safety videos). Then we took out the recycling ... which, being Paige and me, was filled with giggling and nearly dropping bags of precariously-piled bags of magazines and newspapers. She's totally fun to hang with. And I got to meet her son in the survey department (Lest you misunderstand, this is NOT a large company. I think they have about 15-20 employees. But I hadn't met everyone ... usually since, if we come with the kids, I work to take the kids out to the stores in the complex or the park, so that Michael can actually get some work done. That and we never can turn down a trip to Trader Jo's. :P).

After work, we got lunch (even though Cafe Yumm did mess up our order a little. It was still delicious.) and headed down to my hometown. We collected the kids so we could check into the hotel (and give my mom a chance to rest -- between taking care of the kids AND my stepdad [who has dementia], she was exhausted. Poor girl).

We checked in, got settled, waited for my aunt and my cousin's daughter (who Aunt J is taking care of this summer) to come, then we went swimming.
Since I mentioned that my swim cap mostly worked, instead of having nice delineated technicolor streaks, they turned into more ... mermaid hair. Which isn't BAD by any means. Just a little different.

After that, we got dressed and ready and headed back to Mom's for dinner.
After eating and the kids (Cousin + my munchkin brigade) playing, we headed back to the hotel, took a small tour of the casino, and went to bed.

Michael joked that, "Hey, maybe this is the room that Mike Rowe stayed in a few weeks back." But I had to break it to him that, no, THAT hotel is the one across the highway.
(Though, it WOULD have been awesome to be able to make that claim. Heck, I think that THAT hotel should get a little brass historical event plaque for the door: "On ___, 2015, Mike Rowe slept in this room." We could use the added tourism, I'm sure.)

Saturday, we started back fro home, making a stop at Wildlife Safari (If you have a membership at the Oregon Zoo [Ours is almost ready to expire], you can get your admission for 1/2 price. #TheMoreYouKnow) So we made it worth our while. Then we scouted some stores for another LEGO set that's all sold out up here. No dice. And we got some fast food for the drive home.

We got the sad news that Michael did not pass his HUGE engineering test that he took back in April.
He'll be taking it again, next April.
Please send prayers, good thoughts, happy muju, whatever.
Passing this test (next year) will make him a full-fledged Civil Engineer.
Which is what he's been working for.
(I'm just irritated that OSBEELS is dumb in not letting you know your actual score or what you missed or anything. Just a Pass/Fail. Which isn't very helpful. How can you gauge how much you need to improve? Bah.)

Bubbles loves her new bed. The kids are enjoying their clean room (still need to go through three dressers -- hoping to get Bucket's clothes into ONE dresser, so that the other dresser can START housing Bubbles's clothes -- getting THOSE out of OUR room -- AND one set of shelves. THEN they will have a CLEAN-clean room.
And they'll just have to do maintenance on it ... or face the wrath of a frustrated mommy. (A fate worse than death!)

We wished everyone (Michael's dad, my stepdad, my dad, and my Grampy) a happy Father's Day on Sunday. The little craft that the kids in Nursery did for the dads was well-received (the kids did a handprint on a page that said "Daddy, I'm hooked on you." We added a googly eye and orange lips to make the handprints into fish. I made it about as simple and easy as possible. just had to ink up the kids' hands, make the prints, wipe off the hands, let dry, draw on lips with an orange marker, glue on the googly eye, and let dry. Most of them were even done last week. Even better).

Yesterday, we did some chores while Michael was at work. Then we went to a Health Fair, to the library, and back home. The big kids worked on Duolingo (Spanish) and khanacademy (math) and read a bit. And played outside with a neighbor.
Then we went to their swim lesson, where they had fun with Bob.

Today (and the rest of this week) will be more of the same -- housework, not forgetting everything they learned last year, playing ... and doing some of the town passport program.

As I type all this out, I realize that I have a vaguely boring life. But ... well, I like it.

Because, unfortunately, there are much worse alternatives.
Like what happened in my hometown Saturday night.

I don't know how much it's been on the news, but there was a shooting.
In my small hometown.
Which left my cousin's best friend's husband dead.
By his nephew (who was one of my classmates since Kindergarten).

Both the victim, JP, and BF, who shot him are family members of a couple that are in my home Ward (church congregation, if you're not LDS) family.
J is the son of this couple. B is their grandson.

And we're just left reeling. Because ... how could this have happened?
My cousin's BFF went from having a perfect, happy family to being a widow in seconds. And she witnessed the whole thing. I can't imagine how she's feeling.
And poor N (the mom/grandma) ... because she and her husband are some of the nicest, kindest people around ... nobody deserves for this to happen, least of all them.

I keep hoping that this is just some crap nightmare. But it's not.

And I can't wrap my head around this.
BF was a nice guy.
When we were in Kindergarten together, after school, we'd walk the block north from the school, then part ways (he towards his grandma's house about a block away to the west, me further north to my house).
"See you in a million years!" he'd call as he crossed the street.
"No, see you tomorrow," literal-minded little me would call back.

And, in middle school, when he was in the popular group and I was not ... One time, in P.E., he came up to me after another less-than-pleasant bout of existence with some of the in-crowd kids.
"You know," he told me, "you could be popular."
"What?" I replied. As quick on the uptake as ever. Typical Allanna.
"You could be popular, too. If you drop [friend's name] as a friend."
(I mean, I didn't make that choice. But I knew that BF didn't have to tell me that. And that he did because he saw what was going on. And I was sure that he remembered how we were friends in elementary school ... and that ... well, it's not the type of thing someone without empathy and caring would do.)

Even on Facebook, now, people are all commenting that they can't believe that BF would ever do something like that. He was So-and-so's friend. He was always a good guy. ...

... what happened?

And I keep wondering if there was something that I could have done.
I mean, after middle school, we weren't close or anything. We were in the same school and we'd say "hi" to each other when we saw each other. But we didn't move in the same circles, really.
But I always thought of him as a friend.

I mean, I was DOWN in our hometown that day.
If I knew then what I do now, I'd have worked to track him down and talked to him.

But, I mean, what could I have said ... "Hey, later tonight, don't shoot your uncle. AT ALL. Not even once, let alone a bunch. M'kay? That'd be great. So, how's it been going for the last decade or so? You doing okay?"

Not very realistic, I know. But ... could I have been a better friend to him? Was he even on Facebook? I could have sent him a friend request ... let him know that I always remember him fondly, since we were friends a long time ago. That I appreciated that he offered me that chance at being in the in-crowd when nobody else really seemed to care (except jumping at the chance to make my friend's life pretty awful).

Michael tells me there's really nothing that I could have done differently.
Which is true. Unless I had a time-machine or something ...

Which then makes me wonder WHY this happened? HOW could this happen?
This is the kind of thing you read about.
It's not something that you can prepare yourself for in advance (well, not and remain mentally healthy).

And I find myself, squatting to find refried beans or tomato sauce in the pantry cupboard and wondering, "What am I doing with my life??? Why am I even here ... what's the significance of my existence right now? I should be doing something ... and ..."
And then I have to get on with my life because I have three kids who need to be fed and a husband to assist and a cat to snuggle (so she won't get all anxious and pee in the laundry pile or over-groom herself. Seriously, I cannot believe that out of all of us, it's the CAT that has a prescription for Prozac. Obviously, this is the perfect cat for me. Obviously.)

However, I think that it's time to escape into a book sometime today.
I have a pile of library books that need to be read ... but I'm feeling the need to jump into a tested-and-true old friend. Something familiar. Something safe. Something that will be good to read while Bubbles is napping.

I mean, I have faith that there's an overall plan. And that we all are going to learn and grow from this ... horrible ... happenstance.

But, still, I really wish it hadn't happened at all.

When I am benevolent dictator of the world, all conflicts will be dealt with hugging-it-out. Or maybe pie-eating contests. Or staring contests whilst eating dark chocolate (unless one is allergic. To chocolate. I've not yet heard of anyone being allergic to staring ... but what do I know?).

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