Sunday, January 27, 2013

Back to bouncy


Lately, the news has been spouting off about "the flu this", and "the flu that", making sure everyone and their mother is shaking in their boots, or standing in ridiculous lines to get a highly coveted flu shot. "The worst flu season in years!!" warned channel 5. The "deadly flu," said channel 4. I kinda passed off this fear based mumbo jumbo, and wondered if some drug company was in trouble and payed the local media to rattle enough peoples nerves to stock up on their products. My bad. My real bad.

It's flu season folks, and I can confirm, it is that bad.

Last Sunday morning, Grace woke up with a stomach ache. Okay, I said, passing it off as just maybe she was hungry, or maybe she wanted a reason to laze around in bed a bit longer. It was after 10am (which is not abnormal for her on a weekend), so, I let her stay in bed. And she stayed, and stayed, and there she stayed for almost literally a week straight. What started as a upset tummy, quickly blossomed into a fever, and aches, and then by Monday morning, fever spikes of 104+. This mama was scared, and we began a cycle of cold washcloths, then tepid baths, and children's Advil to keep the fever controlled a bit, for days. Around mid week, she awoke at 1am as her fever was breaking, and scared this mama clear into next week. She was talking, but not making sense. She didn't know who I was, or Jeremy, and was talking to her alarm clock like it was a person. She wanted people to "get off the ceiling, because she was afraid they would fall." Then she was totally terrified of us. She cried as Jeremy tried to take her temperature as she would blink, and then scream as if we were trying to hurt her. I immediately called the doctor on call, which took a while since you had to go through a nurse on call first. When he finally called back, he asked me to see if she could dip her chin to her chest. We asked her and she tried, but puked instead. Oh, this mama was scared. I knew he was checking her for possible suspected meningitis, and I knew if he suspected it, it would mean a hospital visit and a spinal tap. No spinal taps, was all I could pray for. It brought back many unpleasant memories as I tried to shove the thought to the back of my brain. I had packed a hospital bag just in case, the night before, and eyed it, shoving  a couple more things into it as I talked to the doctor. I was sure there might be a middle of the night trip to the nearest ER. I've never been so glad to unpack a bag in my life. As we talked, she calmed down, and became more lucid, and finally recognized us as her parents, and the temperature probe, not as an instrument of torture. The doc stayed on the phone with me a bit, until we felt she was over her "flu fever night terror," he called it, and I got off the phone, and she puked again. It was to be a very long night.

By the next morning her fever hung around 100-102, a marked improvement over the last couple of days, and slowly it went away, but in came the terrible junky cough, runny nose, and weakness. Then, on Thursday, my other (bigger) baby came home coughing, and by midnight, Jeremy had a fever of 103. And, there he has stayed, and his cycle started, and is still going. Yech, folks. Not a fun one.

Grace is doing much better except for her junky cough. She is back to being bouncy and Tigger tailed, snarky, sweet, and sneaky, just how I like it. It's good to have my baby back. So good. Now I just need my other Tigger back to bouncy...

Before we became the "House of sickness," I was getting into birthday mode, as Grace also has a January birthday coming up this week, and I wanted to start decorating.  Since her sewing machine has found a semi permanent place at the dining room table, it is just begging to be used, so I made some Birthday Bunting to decorate our windows with.

It goes a little something like this:


Cut out felt triangles of various colors. I cut mine 3 1/4 inches on the top, and 4 1/2 inches on the long side, and ended up using 21 triangles per 3 yard strand. I made two strands. Sorry for the word problem. Your math for the day. : )

You will need two packs of double fold bias tape quilting binding, each, 3 yards in length. I wanted a powder blue color, but all they had in was red, so I bought red. This is what it looks like:

Then, I set out my felt triangles in the rainbow I wanted them to be in, so I wouldn't have to sift through the colors to find my next little flag as I was assembling. Having it all laid out, helped with the flow.

I then opened up one pack of bias tape, and ironed out the folds. Starting about three inches from the end, I tucked a felt triangle between the folds. Make sure your flags are tucked all the way into the binding fold though, so when you sew, the seam will grab both the binding and the flag. To be sure it held as I sewed, I got out my glue gun and put a small dab of glue on the back of the felt to secure it, so it wouldn't move around. The glue is purely optional. I think though, you may have just as much luck not using the sewing machine at all, and simply hot gluing the felt triangles into the bias tape. That may work. Let me know. ; )

Anyways, I lined up about six or so little flags tucked into my bias tape, spacing them two inches apart from each other, and started to sew a (sort of) straight line. "Straight," is pushing it. I really can't sew worth a darn.

I finished one 3 yarder, and then did the second one, and viola! I have two colorful strands of Birthday Bunting to use year after year.

Happy bunting to you, and after you get done reading this post, go wash your hands. Or, bath in Purell. Just in case.

Stay well, my friends!!!!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

I almost burnt my house down.....over a burrito.

When I was very, very pregnant with Vanessa, I almost burnt my new house down.....over a burrito.

During my whole first pregnancy, we were in the midst of building our brand new house. We were living on the property while it was being built, and were acting as our own general contractors, and subbing out the work as budget allowed. The running joke was, that as soon as I saw ground breaking at the new house site, it was the green light to try and start to have a baby. It was no joke though, I was very serious about that, and to Jeremy's surprise, it happened very quickly. I was 25, and chomping at the bit to start our family. I always knew I wanted young bunnies in my twenties, and now that we could house them, darn it, I wanted to fill that house by the time I was 30. Jeremy took a little time to come around to my master plan, dragging his feet a bit, but was at least willing to start.

We moved into our new house when I was about five months pregnant, just at the time when bending down and tying shoes was something you really had to think about before you did it. Very slowly, the house started to come to shape, at the pace of a very pregnant moving crew. Bit by bit, we started to nest, and the last few months was spent getting used to the new sounds, smells, and stairs of the new digs. To this day, new carpet fresh drywall,  the smell of 2x4's, the aroma of a new house, brings to mind that 25 year old pregnant girl, and the feelings she was feeling. Scared, excited, dreamy, terrified.

This was all happening fresh post 9/11, and it's repercussions were starting to ripple across the states. By the time December rolled around, right before Christmas, on a Friday, Jeremy received a pink slip along with the hundreds of other Boeing employees. Sweeping lay-offs. The air industry was in trouble, and the cuts were deep and swift.

New house. New baby. No job.

We were shaken, but not to the point of a total freak out. Okay, well maybe a little.  His last day was at the end-ish of January, and we had insurance for a while thereafter, so we had a bit of time to think, think, think.  By mid-January we had baby on the brain, and that was all I could worry about. I had no room to worry about much else. No job worry would have to wait.

Vanessa's due date wasn't until early February, but by the beginning of January, I knew she was going to be early. I was a water balloon ready to pop, the timer was about to chime, forget about tying those shoes, I'll go barefoot....carry me? Jeremy's last day at Boeing was fast approaching, and I felt like any day was going to be THE day, and he had his pager (yes, a pager!! how old school) strapped to his hip ready to be the one to break up with Boeing, not the other way around. Which would come first, the last day? or the baby? Dude, catch you later. I'm having a BABY! (Actually, it was almost a tie breaker. He had to go to work only one last day after Vanessa was born)

On a Friday in late January, about eleven years ago, I was getting ready for lunch, or maybe a snack... never mind,  I was just HUNGRY, so I waddled into the kitchen to make myself a burrito. As I was making it, I thought, "Now, wouldn't this burrito be better, fried??? like in butter and oil? With a crispy skin on the outside? Melty cheese in the middle?" The drool dripping off my chin onto my pregnant belly meant yes, yes it would. Just as I got one side crisped, there was honking in the driveway. It was the mail lady with a package. With my pregnant brain, I left the burrito to go grab the package, and didn't hear the door shut behind me as I went out onto the deck to meet her. As I turned to go back inside, my hand felt resistance. The door was locked. Eeeep! I tried again. Ya, locked, just like ten seconds ago. Omg, my burrito!! I was still not used to our self locking doors to the new house, and have since then, locked myself out many, many times. Old dog, new tricks, you know.

Hurriedly, I checked the windows closest to me. Nope. Shut and shut hard against the late January weather. I scurried to the back of the house. Yup, backdoor locked too. And smoke, I see smoke! I shuffled over to the front of the house again and spied my suspicions. I DID leave our bedroom window open just a tiny crack to let in some fresh air that morning! Problem was, the window was laughing at me from the second story. "You think you can make it up here? With that belly?", it laughed. That thought did cross my mind. Instead I decided to run. My sister in-law lived next door at the time, and she might have a key? Or an idea? Or a phone to frantically call 911? I held my belly with both hands and ran across the field as hard as I could. I felt something tear a bit, and hurt too, but all I could think was, "My house is going to burn down. My brand. New. House. And it's going to be all my fault. Jeremy is going to KILL me!  All my fault!! And, crispy burrito??? I never crisp my burritos!! No job, no house, OUCH!! new baby, oh god, Betsy, please be home!!!!

I got to her door and pounded on it. No footsteps came. More pounding, and no sound from behind the door. I whimpered a bit and decided to run to Jeremy's parents house, the next house over, and pound on their door.  To my surprise and relief, Sue, my mother-in-law was there, and so was Betsy, visiting. I breathed the rundown through gasps of breath, and we all ran back to the house. More running. I thought Vanessa would slide on out as I ran through the tall golden grass all "Little house on the Prairie" style. Man, it hurt to run! About half way through the field my ears caught the sound of our fire alarms. They were all going off, alerting us that inside was in trouble. Betsy decided she was going to try and get on the roof, and scale her way across and open that bedroom window, and get in that way. One small problem......Betsy was pregnant too.

Sue decided no, it would be her to get on the roof. No pregnant girls allowed. So, my very dear mother-in-law scaled my second story roof, and slipped into my bedroom window filled with smoke while Betsy and I waited safely on the ground, clutching each other, scared out of our wits. A minute later, smoke came pouring out of the front door as it opened, and Sue emerged holding a very smoky pan at arms length with super, duper, charred remnants of  what once was a burrito. Crispy, it was. Edible? way beyond that.

The house was okay. Very, very smoky, but okay. The only victim, my favorite pan, but I am totally fine with that, and feel so lucky to have a mother-in-law that awesome, who will scale a roof for us. Much love and gratitude to you, Sue. XXX's and OOO's. You saved our house.

The rest of that day and night was spent feeling very sheepish and grateful, and laying completely still on my back, as the running caught up with me. I was hurting more than normal, but she wasn't due for weeks. Three days later, still hobbling and shaken a bit from the almost fire, I was talking on the phone with a co-worker who was checking up on me ( Tammy C., it was you!) and had to get off the phone because I felt like I might need to go to the bathroom. As soon as I stepped foot in the bathroom, I felt a sudden dizziness and water start to flow. My water broke. Totally spontaneous. Just like in the movies.  I stood there stunned, and amazed. There was so. much. water BROKE!!! I sat down, shaking, trying to wrap my head on what was happening. Water breaking....means baby, coming? Now? Being a greenhorn, birthing, and the timeline, was still a mystery.

I got up. What do I do? I grabbed for the phone, and called my next door neighbor. She would know what to do.



"Betsy! My water broke!! What do I do?"

"WHAT???!! I'm coming over!!"

A minute later, and she was on my couch. I was contracting, nothing major, but decided to call not 911, but our local fire station to ask what to do. Greenhorn, I'm tellin' ya.

I talk to the person at the fire station, and she casually decides to send a unit over to come check me over. I tell her it is not an emergency, and no hurry, so she says okay, and hangs up.

I call Jeremy and give him the news, then I hear it as I am talking to him.


My eyes are wide and catches Betsy's wide eyes and we laugh nervously because we hope those are not my, they couldn't be....omg, they are!

I am so embarrassed as the sirens get louder and closer, and the aid unit barrels down my driveway. Then another unit, then some more big first responder units. There are many, many men outside my door. A couple young lads in heavy fireman gear bust into the house, boots and all.....on my new carpet....BIG heavy fireman boots...could you maybe...take off..? No? Ya, no, that's okay...No biggie...just new light grey carpet...Eish! let it go, you are going to have a BABY!

One of the young lads grabs my wrist to take my pulse, as the other busily puts some oxygen on me, looking at me with worried, concerned eyes. Betsy's in the corner giggling, and a higher up paramedic walks into the room, takes one look at me and scoffs " Take that thing off her. Look at her. She don't need it." as he walks up and yanks it off my face. Gently, of course. Sort of.  I want to crawl under a rock. Right now. Just pass me an epidural when the screaming gets loud. I'll be okay under here.

They decide to give me a medical transport, and Jeremy meets us at the Fauntleroy terminal, and we are headed to the hospital. It's time to have our first baby. It is time to hold the world in our hands, only to have that world ripped away from us ten months later.

This story started eleven years ago on MLK day, 2002. After a seventeen hour labor, an induction, a failed epidural, and three hours of pushing, Vanessa Rose Smith was born during a slice of night at 1:38 am, on January the 22nd. This Tuesday we will let off eleven balloons graveside into the sky, filled with kisses, hugs, and messages. Her birthday candle will be lit, and I will be thinking of the day my world broke open to let love in.

This is Vanessa's birth story, a very, very dear memory of mine.

And with shaking hands as I write this, I share it with you.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Red Zone

 Okay, so I am not a techie person at all. Talk to me about browsers, folders, links, gigabytes, terabytes, control panels, downloads, and I will give you a blank stare. I might nod like I know what you are talking about, but I really, really don't. Inside my head, the commentary is " do what to the what? Then cut and paste what to the where? Gosh, I like your shoes....Just nod and smile...Do I have limes in the fridge?...  2013! I should know what an app is! Get with the program, Marla. Smile again, and google it later. Or not." 

My computer is in the red zone. And by red zone, when I click on the Microsoft flag and click "computer", there is a little bar showing the tiniest sliver of white, and the rest of it is blood red and inching closer to completely filling the bar, which I am assuming is not good, not good at all. I get a pit in my stomach every time I click to wake up the computer in the morning. Will it turn on? If I talk nice to it, will the red recede? Is my computer going to explode or implode? Where is that big red easy button located?


I am pretty sure I have drowned the poor thing in the thousands and thousands of RAW images I have accidentally stored on it. Even though I have backed everything up ( I think..maybe) I am afraid to delete anything, so my computer is slogging through a gazillion pictures, and now all that is left is this tiny white flag of surrender on the horizon in a sea of red giving a pitiful wave. That is my theory.

After a week of almost giving up the blog for a while, I finally painstakingly figured out how to post pictures on it again. For now. In the future, if I go quiet, it is because my computer grew teeth, and swallowed me whole. If this happens, send for help. Message my mom, and tell her I am okay. I'm just trying to figure a way out of the belly of the beast. Alive, hopefully.

Eeeesh. The bowels of technology have me, my friends.

Anyhoo, here are some very late pictures of the holidays.

                Trader Joe's had this fantastic little house to make this year. It is so cute, I think I may over season it and keep it for next year. Or, forever. I am pretty sure it will last, as it already gives back a hard "ting!" when I flick it. Petrifiably perfect.

Grace had her first solo at church with her violin teacher, and did so well. I am very proud of her, and wonder where she got her non-stage fright super chill vibe from. Definitely not from me.

 Remember the post The Story of Sabina? Well, she's done all grown up. Teeth, and everything, including a cute little garbled gnome voice that jabbers gibberish. Say that five times fast. She can.

                               She's also a flirt, and likes to flirt with my man. Paws off, chica.

       My little reindeer, giving some Christmas cheer. Bina in the background trying to woo Jeremy with her antlers. If only men were that easy.

                                                   My pops getting his turn to jingle jangle.

             Another cutie patootie. What in the world are we going to do with all these girls? Tell the world to watch out, that's what.

                              Holla!  This one likes to sing. A lot. This one here, is the family comedian.

Sergey, is a techie by nature, so it was only natural that he got an ipad for Christmas. And, a carton of blueberries. He's thrilled, can't you tell?

                                   My bro likes Seattle. Another Needle, for your tree.

        Grace has been blessed with many cousins on each side. What a lucky girl. I pray, that her being the only kiddo in our house, with these blood cousins, that she will never, ever be lonely. May blood always be thicker than water.

                                    Had to throw this one in because she is scrumptious.

"Santa gets ONE cookie," she says, then only healthy food. Carrots, pomegranate seed, and water. Wow. Where did that come from? Her mom is not strict at all.

                                                            Dude. Sew, what do we do, next?

                           Sew American girl doll pillow cases, and lavender sachets, that's what. And make mama's heart pound very fast, as she squeaks "watch your fingers!", as she hovers, holding her breath.

                              Cute little machine, tho. I have to say, I am pretty impressed with it.

          Dawg was all pupil when she discovered there was a stocking for her, and went berserk.

          Sheepish grin. It took all of five minutes to completely destroy the soccer ball Santa gave her.

            Here are Grace's other cousins. Such a lucky girl she is. And me too. I love my nieces and nephew something fierce.

                                                        Hangin' with her auntie B.

    Getting everyone "synced up." I suppose I should get in there, too. How do you turn this thing on, again?

Here is my Christmas table. I didn't take food pictures, because I was too busy eating. And, eating. And, eating. And, get the picture.

So, that was Christmas 2012. Each year, I am so incredibly grateful that the people I love are healthy, and that we can all communicate and love each other. It is truly the small graces, that make a person whole. There is always a pang of sadness too, missing the ones that should be here, but aren't. Candles are lit, and they are remembered, loved, and never forgotten in the bustle. Always loved.

It is almost mid January, and the new year shine has lost its newness in these past days.

That's okay, tho.

To me, the new year shine has just begun.

                           This has been our walk to the bus stop these frosty mornings. Beauteous.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Let's play pretend

Well, Happy 2013 to you all.

 I hope it has met you well, and that you are feeling all the possibilities a new year can hold. I feel like I am going into the year blindfolded, reaching out to feel before I see. I have not made our yearly calendar yet (!!!), and haven't even started designing it, so I have no dates to scrawl on where days are scheduled, even though they are. It feels weird and somewhat free-ing to not have a calendar staring back at you, telling you your future constantly.  Ahhh, the freedom of pretending that how you spend your days are up to you, and not the other way around. I do like to play pretend. : )

We are doing some renovations about the house, and just yesterday started swinging the hammer. Drywall dust is floating in the air, closets are being cleaned and ripped out, and the panic is setting in.

Yep, we just demoed a wall....Yep, the drain pipe from the upstairs bathroom is in the middle of the wall we want do we reroute it...Where is this new pipe going to go...we are not plumbers, but, let's pretend we are.....Oh, hey, I know!! Jeremy! Let's pretend we are contractors, too!! Do you still have that pair of overalls? Now, where is my hard hat? Eek!!!

We have big plans for the renovation and are doing a lot of the work ourselves. I have a feeling we will be meeting guests at the door with an embarrassed smile and will say the words "work in progress", more than a million times as they traverse ripped up floors, sharp stuff everywhere, and see through walls for the next year or two. I am excited and nervous and ready. I can't wait to say "welcome to our new abode" when we are all done, and I can flop on the couch with a fleece blanket and enjoy my new surroundings. 2013 is going to be the "year of renovation," and maybe not just with the house, I feel a change too, a creative crack in the foundation, and I want to chase that stallion, my creative beast, but where is it leading me? I can't wait to find out.


Christmas 2012 was very pleasant. Grace and I were sick (no surprise there) up until a couple days before, but we managed to get prep done, and were able to enjoy the holiday, which I was very grateful for. 

Christmas eve was spent with my side of the family, and the gaggle of girl cousins that make up "The Girls," as they are all fondly known as. I think I might try and change that to "The Posse." I like that better, and it feels more western movie-ish. It makes me think of a lasso which is what you need when they are all together, bouncing off the walls.

Aaaaand, here is supposed to be our story of Christmas in pictures, but, Blogger isn't letting me put pictures on tonight. It won't even let me browse to find them. So, I will post the seconds half of the post sometime this week when it will let me put pictures on. Sheeeesh!!

Until then, my friends!