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Thursday, September 30, 2004

The Ugly House on the Left...and I love it. Posted by Hello

The ONLY asphalt driveway in the neighborhood. Posted by Hello

It's dirty work, but someone's gotta do it! Posted by Hello

Out with the old... Posted by Hello

Damn....that's gonna be a lot of concrete! Posted by Hello

Framing the walkway and porch Posted by Hello

Concrete Driveway Posted by Hello

The Ugly House on the Left

For the past 7 years, since we bought our house from my father, whenever I give someone directions on how to get here, I always say "Once you turn on our street, we're the ugly house on the left." Please don't get me wrong. I'm VERY grateful we have a home of our own. It's just that the realities are, with three kids and one income, the house is the last thing on the priorities list that gets any attention. As a result, we truly have, the ugliest house in the neighborhood. It's not just my opinion. The evidence states that that's pretty much the opinion of the neighbors as well. We've received anonymous hate mail over the years. People have threatened to report us to the homeowners association. Which cracks me up because we don't belong to a homeowners association. Whatever. Knock yourselves out.

It's funny now, but it used to really bother me. I wondered why people paid so much attention to our house. Yeah, the yard was overgrown with weeds for a little while. That was during the time my mother had cancer and I was caring for her in her last days. I didn't give a damn about stupid weeds. Ok, so the asphalt driveway was falling apart and everyone else had concrete. My dad had kidney failure after my mom passed away, and I struggled to then attend to his needs. We moved into the house to help take care of him. When he remarried (his dialysis nurse) and moved away with his new family, we took over with the house. Then came Charlie's dad's passing and subsequently caring for Charlie's mom. You get the picture. With family and other issues, the house just didn't rate way up there on the "gotta do it" scale.

As time passed, we saved money here and there to keep the inside looking nice. But the outside continued to suffer. Neighbors would make comments about how much our property value (meaning THEIR property value) would increase if we would just paint, or put in a new driveway, or reseed our lawn. Well, duh people. We know that. If you want to donate the money to do that, we won't turn it down. {crickets chirping} Yeah, that's what I thought.

So finally, after seven years, things start happening. Charlie and the Grommet start digging up the yard to prepare to install a sprinkler system. Suddenly, the men in the neighborhood start showing up. To help? NOOOOOO. To watch. They're fascinated. They're drawn like moths to a flame. They offer advice on how Bryson should hold a shovel, or how Charlie should lay the piping. They stand on the sidewalk and literally, just watch.

The next day the crew comes to dig up the old asphalt driveway. Sure enough, here comes the Peanut Gallery. Interestingly enough, we've lived in this house since 1992 (with a year break in 97 when we lived in Sioux Falls, SD), and NEVER have we seen so many of our neighbors. Bring out some heavy machinery and suddenly you see neighbors you've never met.

The Saturday before last, the concrete driveway was put in. I swear, if I set up chairs across the street and charged admission, I would have enough money to buy paint. No kidding. Caris was tempted to put on a Broadway-esque show since we had an audience. I told her she'd be better off selling Jello shots. Diva that she is, she harumphed off, not appreciating being upstaged by a house. Averie came outside at one point and seeing all the neighbors camped out across the street to watch, commented, "Geez, if you build it, they will come!"

Now, we're just doing work as we can afford it. That 14 yards of concrete cost a pretty penny. In fact, it cost LOTS of pretty pennies. So there won't be much work going on for a few more weeks. Meaning, lacking paint and a lawn, we're STILL the ugly house on the left. However, I just went out to water down the new driveway and I noticed that our neighbor across the street already has his lawnchairs set up facing our house. I wonder if he knows something I don't know?

Monday, September 27, 2004

The Marina; fun for some, work for others. Posted by Hello

Hey Mom! Check out THESE Sweet Guns! Posted by Hello

Grommet and Dad; Teamwork Posted by Hello

Time Well Spent

The Grommet has a job. He's had this particular job since he was 13. He and his buddy Kyle wash boats down at the marina. Bryson's uncle owns a boat and asked Bry one summer if he'd like to start his own little business washing boats. It turned into something quite perfect for two little meatheads. They took it pretty seriously. They even had business cards attached to those little squishy, floaty, boat keychain thingies:

Bryson & Kyle's Boat Washing "Two Guys, Two Buckets, and a Dream"

It was a sweet little deal. Until this summer, when Kyle decided he didn't want to work that hard anymore and left Bryson holding the bucket, so to speak. Bryson continued on his own. I even asked him if he considered getting a new partner. He said, he'd rather handle things himself. It's a pretty big undertaking for one kid, but he carried on. I was proud of him.

Most weeks, I drive Bryson down to the marina myself. While he's working, I either walk the dog around the Dunes, or bring a book, a chair, and sit under a shady tree and read. I've been doing this with him for two years now. Sometimes, I marvel at this area we call home. We don't live in affluent Newport Beach. We live in Costa Mesa; just a few miles away. We have the "luxury" of living close to the ocean, but on "the other side" of the money tracks, so to speak. I sometimes wonder if I'd continued with my career instead of staying home with the kids, if we'd live like most of our friends live. Big, beautiful houses, nice cars, private schools, boats, etc. Affluence. It doesn't hit me that often, but when you're surrounded by all this "stuff," you can't help but think about it. And then...something happens and I'm reminded how lucky we are.

Lately, with all that's been going on in our world, Charlie's been working from 6am to 3pm, leaving work and going straight to visit his Mom (I visit with her during the day). Then, he goes to her house, picks up her mail, brings it home and goes through her bills and paperwork. After that, he eats dinner with us, takes care of our bills and paperwork, and usually around 9 pm, he falls asleep from sheer exhaustion. In between all of this, he struggles to get to Bryson's games, or PTA, or Back-to-school nights, or all those other things dads try to do. Since his mom got hurt, he's pretty much missed most of Bry's games, or any other of the girl's happenings. On the weekends, where you'd think he would just lounge around and rest, he's still going to see his mom, AND take care of the things around our falling apart house that need attention. Sometimes, the kids and I worry it's just too much. But he handles it.

On Saturday night, after he spent some dad/daughter time with Caris, I mentioned to him that I needed to take the Grommet down to the marina to wash boats the next morning. He said, to my surprise; "I'll go." I asked him why, with all that he's been doing, would he want to go do that. He responded; "I want to spend some time with him." So on Sunday, the three of us went down to the docks. As I expected, Charlie picked up a scrub brush and started helping Bry wash the boat. Someone else's boat. He didn't have to spend HIS free time like that. He just wanted to be with his son. Bryson, at first protested, but then, he relented, enjoying his dad's company. A job became fun.

As I watched them, I realized that nothing is more valueable. Those silly, wistful, sometimes even lustful, covetous thoughts I have. Oh hell, everyone has them. It's hard not to living where we live. Boats, fancy cars, big houses; they all have price tags. This family stuff, it's completely priceless. I wouldn't trade that for all the money in the world.

Last night, while we lay in bed talking about the day, my thoughts, his hard work; I told him how awesome a dad I thought he was. He said to me; "Don't you wish you and I had us for parents?" I laughed and said; "Parents? What about kids? You're a terrific son too." "Oh yeah?" He said. And with a sly grin asked; "How good a husband am I?" I smiled. "I'll let you know in about an hour or so...."

Friday, September 24, 2004

Ladies and Gentlemen....Start Your Cellphones!

Charlie just called from work. He's taking off early. He wants to go to the Brew Pub. We haven't been since the Mum-in-law broke her hip. I'm absolutely tingling! Just start shaking the Cosmos boys, Pua's on her way!

Hell Hath No Fury

Update I: The Grommet gets a call from "the accusor" in the incident at school. She apologizes and says she didn't mean to hurt him. I'm surprised he even let her talk and didn't hang up as soon as he heard her voice. Seems she was upset because he was taking another girl to the Homecoming dance next weekend. Newsflash Girlie; You don't get a guy to like you by getting him called to the principal's office on a bogus charge.

In the ever-popular words of Napoleon Dynamite; "Idiot!....God!"

Update II: I asked the Grommet today if he was too embarrassed to tell me about the "real" situation and just substituted urine for the other fluid when he told me the story. He said, and I quote, "WHAT???...They're saying it was really WHAT???" He said he had NO idea that that's what it was that he was being accused of and that he's even more grossed out now and doesn't want to have anything whatsoever to do with the girl. AND that even if he understood from the beginning what the story really was, he would have told me anyway and he wouldn't have been embarrassed. Well, maybe a little. Awwwwwww...what a good guy. Makes up for that horrible day yesterday.

Still, I told him to watch his back. Smited girls don't play nice.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Pua's Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

It started out right. Got everyone off to school and work. Tidied up, washed the breakfast dishes, got a couple of loads of laundry done, and was just about to head out into the world. Unlike other days, I had a short list today. Some of my list included some well deserved playtime, on good advisement:

1. Take a picture for the new tribe photo project. (I love field trips!)
2. Find a nice postcard for Hot Toddy
3. Visit Mum-in-law at the nursing home and take her clean laundry to her.
4. Go to Bry's waterpolo game.
5. Play Tag and Duck, Duck, Goose with Patrick.

Doesn't seem so awful difficult. In fact, I was looking forward to it. I was actually a little giddy about it. I even called Charlie at work and flirted with him. Does phone sex count as real sex? Let's just humor me, shall we? Yes indeed, it was going to be a good day.

And then Hurricane Reality hit; full-force. The bitch.

First the call from the nursing home. Mom had fallen down by stubbornly attempting to exert her independence. Even though she knows the rules about not trying to stand up on her own, she did. And now we're back at square one. Three weeks of rehab down the drain.

On the way to the nursing home; the call from the son. Bryson had missed his bus to get to the game:

He: So, um, uh, I, uh, I missed the bus.

Me: Excuse me?

He: I missed the bus to waterpolo.

Me: Why did you miss the bus?

He: I was in the lunch line.

Me: Why were you in the lunch line when I made your lunch for you?

He: Uh, well, I was waiting for a friend to get their lunch.

Me: That "friend" a girl?

He: *silence*

Me: So do I have to come and get you to take you to the game?

He: No. It's no big deal. It's just one game.

Me: It is too a big deal. Your team is depending on you. Besides, it's a class Bry. Just like any other class. It still gets a grade. You don't get a good grade by not showing.

He: Fine. I just don't want to go.

Me: Why? What's the story?

He: Well, it's one thing for YOU to be pissed at me. But it's WORSE to have Coach be pissed at me. And he's gonna be pissed at me. I don't wanna see his face when I show up.

Me: (laughing) Great! Don't budge from that spot. I'll be right there to take you.

He he he. Sometimes it works out so much better when I'm not alone in the pissy department.

So I pick up the son and while we're driving along, there is complete silence. After a LONG ten or so minutes, he talks:

He: So, I'm sitting in French class today and the phone rings. Then Madame tells me to go to the office.

Me: Am I gonna be unhappy about this?

He: NO...I didn't do anything.

Me: Ok. Go ahead.

He: So I go to the office and I see Max (his buddy) sitting outside the principal's office and they tell me to sit next to him. And I ask Max what was going on. He says this chick accused us of peeing on some guy.

Me: WHAT???

He: Yeah! I'm like "WHAT THE HELL?" (yes, he actually said that). Who said that we did that? So Max tells me this chick throws some stuff in a bottle at this guy and then tells the guy that she PAID Bryson and Max ten bucks to pee in the bottle. WHAT THE HELL? (yes, he said it again).

Me: So Grommet, what happened?

He: The principal called me and Max in and told us the story. She said she didn't believe the girl and the story sounded too stupid and unbelieveable to be true. She also said that the girl has been in trouble before.

Me: Do you know this girl?

He: Well, I saw her at the football game last week. But that's it. I said "hi" to her, but I don't think she heard me and she got mad at me and stormed off.

Me: So what happened with the principal? Do I have to call and follow up?

He: No, I handled it.

Me: Well, it can't hurt to find out what they're doing about it. Not that I don't trust you Bry. I don't trust that girl. If she's willing to say nasty stuff like that for attention and attach your name to it, it can't hurt for the principal to know your parents are behind you. I appreciate you telling me this. Says a lot about you. Now, let's get you to waterpolo...because I gotta go take care of your grandmother.

He: (smiling slyly) If it would be less trouble for you, you can just drop me off at home. You don't have to take me all the way to waterpolo.

Me: Nice try Hot Shot. You're going. I wanna see Coach's face when you show up.

I drop Bry off and on the way, yet again, to the nursing home, I make a call to the principal:

Me: Hi, this is Pua H. I'm Bryson's mom.

She: Ah yes, nice young man. Very respectful. I'm sorry he got dragged into this. Shame really. I knew it wasn't true. It's just too preposterous. But, we had to get the story since it could boil down to something truly serious if it was actual bodily fluids. You know, health issues, and even sexual harassment. Seems the boys have been full of testoserone lately. This is the second incident this week involving sperm.

Me: Excuse me?

She: (continuing) Luckily, the fluid was just lotion and not ejaculate as the accusor stated.

Me: WHAT???

She: I can assure you that this young girl is being dealt with and her parents are being notified of her involvement. Bryson's name is not showing up on any school documents. He was very helpful in setting the record straight. I'm very happy he spoke with you about it. He's a very lovely young man.

Me: Um, yes. Well thank you. Thanks. Goodbye.

Okay, so now I have to figure out whether my son just changed the story a little bit because he just couldn't talk to me about cum. Pee is still up for open dialogue with the parental units. But I guess spooey is just a little too much for a 15 year old freshman to talk with his mom about. Then I imagine this girl and how that conversation with her parents must be going. "Mr. and Mrs. Smith, your daughter is being suspended for ...um....well..." Just exactly how would you present that? Geez, what's the world coming to. Uh, no pun intended.

While my frazzled brain is trying to wrap itself around all of this as I'm driving, I notice that my tank is pretty low and I should probably get some gas. Pull up to the pump, run my ATM card through, pump my gas, stick my card in my pocket, and I'm off again. There's a store on the way to the rehab center, so I pull over and grab a few things, one of which is a nice little postcard that should soon be on it's way to PFO. Get up to the register, open my wallet; no ATM. Oh yeah, I put it in my pocket at the gas station. Reach into my pocket; no ATM. SHIT! Apologize to the clerk because I have NO CASH, and walk out the door, frustrated.

Get to my car, search high and low; no ATM. Must have fallen out of my pocket at the gas station. Go back to the gas station, look around the pump, go inside and talk to the clerk; no ATM. CRAP! Get on the phone, call the bank to report it missing. I'll go back to the store later and retrieve those needed things, but for now, I gotta get to the nursing home.

Pull into the parking lot, which will only accomodate 8 cars, and those spaces are all full. I literally have to BACK my van out of the parking lot, drive around the block, and park a block away in another business's parking lot. When I walked into Mom's room, both she and her roomie were fast asleep, mouths wide open. The nurse informs me they gave her a pain pill and she'll probably be out for awhile. I hang her clean laundry in her closet and leave. I'll go back later.

When I get out to my van, there's a HUGE cement mixer blocking me in. I can't go anywhere. So I sit and wait. While I'm waiting, my phone rings, it's my mother in law:

She: Hi Honey. I thought you were coming to bring me my clothes.

Me: I did Mom. Your things are in your closet.

She: No you didn't. I've been waiting for you.

Me: Mom, I was just in there. You were asleep and the nurse said you had taken a pain pill and would be out for awhile. So I hung your clothes up and left.

She: Honey, I've been sitting here all this time and I haven't seen you.

Me: ::sigh:: Fine.

So I get out of my car and walk the block back to the home, go into her room, and she's dozed off, with the phone in her hand. I take the phone out of her hand and she wakes with a start. I say hello, walk over to the closet and open the door to show her her clean clothes.

She: Well, goodness, you're fast.

Me: Yes, I amaze even myself.

She: Thank you Honey.

Me: You're welcome.

She falls asleep again. I kiss her forehead and leave. Again. When I get back to my van, the cement truck is gone and I'm free to go. I figure, I'm THIS close to the beach. That would make a really nice picture for the tribe photo project and I head down the hill to the water. Find a parking space, walk out to get a good shot of the jetty with the pier in the distance. Beautiful. Turn my camera on. Nothing.
Dead as a doornail. I give up.

I head home quickly. Before there's an earthquake and the ground opens up and swallows me. Nah...I couldn't get THAT lucky.

Tomorrow, I think I'll stay in.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Tired Team Posted by Hello

Lucky No. 13 bringing up the rear! Posted by Hello

Coach gives the pep-talk Posted by Hello

Days of Firsts

It's been...WOW! That's pretty much how I sum it up. Last night, Caris' first appearance, albeit small, on a national television show, and today, Bryson's first goal for his J.V. waterpolo team resulting in their first win of the season. We're off to a roaring start. What can I say? It's like riding a roller coaster around here. The highs are real damn high, with lots of screaming on the way down.

Caris thought I was making too big a deal out of her tv thing. She gets embarassed and would rather keep things on the downlow. Especially at school. Only a few of her closest friends know that she even does background work and she prefers it that way. But dangit, there was a lot of work behind that BIG two minute appearance, and all the other appearances to come. That two minutes of screen time represented a 12 hour day. Lots of standing around, lots of waiting to be called, lots of down time, lots of set up time, lots of blocking time. Then there's the drive to get to LA and back again. She's worked on two made-for-tv movies, one of which didn't get picked up by the network and won't even be seen...and who knows when or if the other will ever air. So, I didn't think it was too big a deal to invite those couple of friends over for pizza and tv. After all, when Averie had her television days last year on Ellen, we did the same thing. You GOTTA make a little to-do. Create your own fan club. Right?

We all gathered around the television in our little living room. Caris and her friends all huddled together on the couch, Averie and Bry on the loveseat, and Charlie and I sharing an easy chair. There was lots of giggling and lots of "SHHHHHHHSH"ing when the show finally came on. We've never really watched this particular show before, so we didn't know the premise other than it was a family sitcom. Jamie Gertz ("It's Always Something; The Gilda Radner Story) and Mark Addy (The Full Monty) are both talented, funny actors and as the story unfolds, we get a sense of the "acerbic wit" of their characters (like that Aaron?). Suddenly, and almost in unison, Averie and Caris blurt out..."Dang, they're MEAN parents! I'm glad YOU GUYS aren't like them." Well hey, score one for us! We're not mean! Wooohoooooooooo! Yay Charlie and me!

Soon, the pool party scene, and again lots of "SHHHHHHHHHHHSH"ing. Good thing too, because if you blinked, you would have missed her. She had one REAL good full front shot...bikini and all. And before you could say "That's my kid!" it was over. Caris covered her face with a pillow the entire time, only peeking out long enough to ask; "Is it over?" To which, her friends mockingly asked for her autograph. The phone began ringing before the epilogue began and we never really got to watch the end of the show. Family and friends all over the place were calling to tell her they'd seen her. It was a lot of fun....for two minutes of air time. Next show; "Unfabulous" on Nickelodeon, Sunday, October 10th. She has a "walk-by" in a juice store. Maybe we'll do burgers that night.

Monday, September 20, 2004

Still Standing

I sat here for a minute or two trying to think of a title for this post and then realized that this IS the perfect one. If it was a snake....yeah you know. Anyway, that's how it really feels. I've been through the ringer, but I have to admit, I haven't been through it alone. Charlie's had his share and I realize how very lucky I am. The one thing I know about this man is that he doesn't complain. EVER. He's like a saint or something. I remember when we first met, I called him a perpetual optimist. He never seemed phased by obstacles. I'm sure he was, but he handled them with an unrivaled calm. I was, and remain, amazed by that. It's probably why the Powers That Be thought we would be a good match. Me; the frazzled, gelatinous mass of emotion, and he; the keep-it-together guy. I picture the four of us, the kids and me, as the storm, and Charlie as the eye of the storm. One at a time, he reaches out into the fray and plucks us out of the raging tempest. The law of nature says that we could suck up anything in our way, but most of the time, he remains there, calm and the voice of reason.

God, I'm a lucky wench. As if having Charlie around wasn't enough, I also have these wonderful people who encourage me, stick up for me, gird me up and love me, and get this; offer to beat people up for me that make my kids cry. I imagined a boatload of bloggers showing up to Averie's job, hogtying that nasty woman up, dipping her in paint, and then glazing her. It made me smile. It mighta not been a very nice thing for me to think. But I liked it. Color Me Tickled Pink.

I have an appointment at the doc today. I didn't want to have to go, but I know I do. I'm also gonna get out there and do some walking. I have a love/hate relationship with walking. I love being out there once I'm out there, but the getting out there is the hate part. I'm WAY too far out of shape to just jump right back into gym type exercize, but I know I need to do something. That, and wire my jaw shut. Food=drug of choice. I'm like the Tazmanian Devil of food addiction. Picture it in your head. Go ahead, I'll wait. Yep, that's me, ripping my way around anything I can get my hands on when I'm in the midst of emotions. If Dr. Phil tried to stop me, I'd probably eat him too.

On the upswing and in line with shameless mom-type pluggging, a lot of you know that my daughter Caris has been doing television and movie background work since February. It's not glamorous. There's no money in it, in fact, I ended up paying more to have her participate. I keep telling the stage moms that I meet on set that are new to it that if they're in it for the money, they're never gonna see it in background work. Caris does it because it's fun, and whether or not there's any money in it, she says every little job looks good on her resume. Anyway, we've waited patiently, and finally tonight is the first time we'll actually see one of the shows she worked on get aired. She'll be on Still Standing on CBS at 8:00 Pacific Time. She plays one of the pool party friends of the daughter, Lauren.
We're ordering pizza and having some of her friends from her Drama class over and making it a party of sorts. She says that it will be her luck that all of her appearance will be cut. We really won't know until tonight. In any case, be watching for a pretty, petite little thing in a red and yellow bikini in the doorway of the house behind Jamie Gertz. Yep folks, that's it. My little girl in her first national television appearance wearing a bikini. :::sigh::: Every mother's dream.

Sunday, September 19, 2004

Live Strong, Live Lazy, Live Happy

I felt kinda bad for Averie yesterday. She had to work on her birthday. Granted, I did too, but you really shouldn't have to work on your 19th birthday. You just shouldn't. Her boss didn't seem to care, and in fact hasn't treated Averie very kindly. She keeps bringing in family members to work who steal from her, treat customers poorly, hog all the tips, and take the prime hours. Last week, they cut Averie's hours from 19 to 7. You can't make a car insurance payment on 7 hours a week. Being the sweet girl that she is, she continues to work, smile on her face, and give back more than she's receiving. She has a great work ethic and I have to say, I'm proud of her. She's putting up with a lot more crap than I would.

About an hour into her shift, she called me:

She: Hi Mommy!

Me: Hey Aves. How's it going?

She: It's ok. Really dead in here, so I'm paining one of the reject pieces that can't be sold. We'll use it for a display. Guess what I just heard on the radio?

Me: I dunno. What?

She: Today is Lance Armstrong's birthday too. That means we're "friends!"

Me: Oh yeah? I wonder if "your friend" Lance is working on HIS birthday.

She: (laughing) Probably not. But it is kinda cool isn't it? I mean, I'm wearing one of his yellow "Live Strong" bracelets and here it is, OUR birthday.

Me: Hmmm. I wonder if he's wearing a purple Averie bracelet in your honor?

She: (giggle) What would it say on it..."Live Lazy?" I a'int no Lance.

Me: (laughing) You're a goofball.

She: I gotta go...customers.

Me: Bye Sweetie. Happy Birthday.

I thought, since she had to work, I'd go and bring her a few things to make it a little better for her. So Caris and I went to Starbuck's and got her favorite Frappucino (Java Chip) and a miniature chocolate blackout cake. Then we went to the party store and got her some purple balloons, a musical candleholder for the cake; a little tiny one that plays "Happy Birthday to You," and a button that says, "It's my Birthday!" Charlie and I had already given her her present; two tickets to "Hairspray" at the Orange County Performing Arts Center in October. A nice present for sure, but since she had to work, it kinda took the party mood out of it. I figured I would take a little party to her.

When we got there, there was only one couple at a table painting. Averie was sitting in the back of the store painting and her co-worker Amber was sitting with her. When she saw us walk in with the balloon bouquet and goodies, she smiled a huge smile and got up to greet us. She invited us to stay awhile since it wasn't really busy. Caris decided to pick out a piece to paint and so we sat and visited with them.

While we were there, the store owner called to check on things and spoke with Amber. Averie told Amber that when she was done, she'd like to speak with the owner because she wanted to let her know what her school and drama rehearsal schedule was for the following week. She was thinking that if she let her know early, the lady might give her more hours. Instead, after a short conversation, Averie hung up the phone, and hid her face from me. I could tell she was crying:

Me: Ave, what happened?

She: She's so mean to me.

Me: What did she say?

She: I told her that I could take a couple of closings next week and she basically talked to me like I was a child and "reprimanded" me. She says that I can't keep changing my hours. I wasn't the one who changed my hours...SHE DID. She's the one who took all my hours away from me to give to her stupid niece who is worthless.

Me: Averie, you don't have to keep this job you know. Daddy and I have already told you that you don't deserve to be treated the way they treat you, and you have our blessing to leave.

She: I don't want to quit when I haven't lined up another job yet.

Me: Does that woman even KNOW it's your birthday? I have half a mind to call her back and remind her that she's making you work on your birthday and making you cry. Please don't be sad, Honey. She's not worth it. This job isn't worth it. You can find another job.

She: I know...I just don't understand why she has to be such a bitch to me.

Me: Think Karma Aves.

She: She's lucky I stay.

Me: No kidding. You're the best artist she has.

She: (smiling) No I'm not.

Me: I say you are. Now eat your birthday cake and drink your Java Chip, or I will.

She: Thanks Mommy. For everything.

Caris finished painting her piece, we gave Averie hugs, and left the store. On the way out, I said to Caris; "You see? These are the times it's really difficult for me to remember that I have to let you guys fight your own battles. I wanna get up in that lady's dish for hurting your sister. But I know I have to step back because...she's an adult now." Caris smiled a knowing smile and said; "I know Mommy. I know."

Saturday, September 18, 2004

Happy Birthday Averie Posted by Hello

The Circle Game

Yesterday was hard. And I thank you for your love. I lost a friend. A friend I've never met. Much like all of you have become my friends. This friend I met in a similar way. And yesterday; she died. Her name was Linda and she lived in Orange, Texas. We met through her son, also my friend; Chris. Chris and I met 8 years ago in a grief chatroom. He had lost his dad to cancer. I had lost my mom. He said to me: "Don't worry Baby, you can share my mama. She's got a heart as big as Texas." He wasn't kidding. Before I knew it, I was calling Linda "Mom." She was a teacher. She taught 6th grade and she ADORED her kids. Yesterday, she had a massive heart attack at school. Chris called me. Instead of that happy-go-lucky "Hey BABY!" in that beautiful Texan drawl, I heard him sobbing: "Pua, she's gone. Mom's gone."

With everything going on in my world, this was just more than I could handle. I kinda caved. I did my best to comfort Chris, and he, in turn, comforted me. Last year, I was supposed to go to Texas and meet Linda. Chris had already been out to California twice to visit us. Once I got there, we planned on driving the 4 hours from Orange to New Orleans and have some fun. But Linda cancelled because she had an opportunity to teach. She never missed an opportunity to teach. We promised we would reschedule. You always think you have all the time in the world.

Cut to today. Nineteen years ago today, at 4:49 a.m. on a Wednesday morning, after 19 1/2 hours of labor, Charlie and I added to our family:

Averie Joy Maikalima Omakua
7 lbs. 9 oz. 19.5 in

She was beautiful. Perfect in every way. She turned our twoness into threeness. She made us a family. Her name means "From the hand of the Father", and she was and is our joy. She didn't cry, she just opened her eyes and looked around; surveying her world. It was an indication of things to come. The way that she would function; eyes open, always watching and writing down everything she saw. She has the soul of a poet and an easy laugh. She was my first. My entrance into parenthood. The beginning of what is my continual well of worry, and my constant source of awe. She makes me feel that everything is worth it. I wrote little things she said down and I called them "Averie-isms" and sometimes, I look through that little rememberance and I smile. For all the bad, for all the fuckups, for all the hurt, for every stupid decision I've made in my life, I look at her and know without a doubt that she is part of my reward for hanging in. I did something good. And every night, when she says "I love you Mommy." My heart swells.

Life is a circle. And you don't always have all the time in the world. Rest well, dear Linda Mom. I'll miss you and I love you. Happy Birthday Sweet Averie. Thank you for teaching me how to be a mommy.


Yesterday a child came out to wonder
Caught a dragonfly inside a jar
Fearful when the sky was full of thunder
And tearful at the falling of a star
Then the child moved ten times round the seasons
Skated over ten clear frozen streams
Words like, when you're older, must appease him
And promises of someday make his dreams
And the seasons they go round and round
And the painted ponies go up and down
We're captive on the carousel of time
We can't return we can only look behind
From where we came
And go round and round and round
In the circle game

Sixteen springs and sixteen summers gone now
Cartwheels turn to car wheels thru the town
And they tell him,
Take your time, it won't be long now
Till you drag your feet to slow the circles down
And the seasons they go round and round
And the painted ponies go up and down
We're captive on the carousel of time
We can't return we can only look behind
From where we came
And go round and round and round
In the circle game

So the years spin by and now the boy is twenty
Though his dreams have lost some grandeur coming true
There'll be new dreams, maybe better dreams and plenty
Before the last revolving year is through
And the seasons they go round and round
And the painted ponies go up and down
We're captive on the carousel of time
We can't return, we can only look behind
From where we came
And go round and round and round
In the circle game

JONI MITCHELL 1966-69 Siquomb Publishing Co. BMI

Friday, September 17, 2004

God Who?

Last night, I decided that I was going to be an aetheist. Then I decided I couldn't be an aetheist because I was pissed off at God. If I'm an aetheist, who am I gonna be pissed at?

Let George Michael have faith. I'll have a Latte.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

I Got Nothing Left

I'm spent. Tired, lost, lonely. Surrounded by people, but very lonely. I'm on auto-pilot. Going through the motions, but in a state of despair. I got nothing left. Nada. I just keep going because I have no choice. I can't fall apart, because people depend on me. I smile, but I don't feel it. It's just for show.

After my daily visit with Mom today, I sat in my car in the parking lot of the nursing home and lost it. Cried my eyes out. Literally. I cried so hard, my contact came out. I drove home with one eye closed because I couldn't see.

I'm depressed. Been depressed for a few weeks now, but I've worked hard to convince myself it wasn't back. I can't be depressed. I can't. People depend on me. I felt it creeping in slowly and I tried to stave it off. I find I'm afraid of happy things right now. Because everytime something good happens for us, double bads are right behind it and it's so hard to get through. I would write in more detail, but it doesn't matter, and really, who cares? It's just a bunch of whining.

Tomorrow, I'll write some light, fluffy, trifle about something. For now, I want to curl into the fetal position. I'm tired. And I got nothing left. But I gotta keep going because people depend on me.

Oh, Woe Is Me

I overestimated my importance in their world. ::sigh::

NHL Lockout

As a fan, I'm devastated. When I'm down and things in my life aren't going so great, I know that come October, I'll have a little escape a couple of days a week. Charlie used to call himself a "Hockey Widower", until he got wrapped up in the excitement as well. Say what you will, but we are talking about the challenge for the oldest trophy in sports history. The coveted Holy Grail; Lord Stanley's Cup.

It seems insane doesn't it? That a girl born and raised on a tropical island would become a crazed hockey fanatic? It flies in the face of conformity. That's me; a hockey "Fly Girl." Move over J-Lo. I learned during our short stint in the midwest, that if you aren't a Cheesehead or a Viking fan, and you absolutely abhore football, you'd better love hockey. And I did.

It helped that my son took to ice like a duck to water, and could skate better than he could walk. Thus forcing me to learn very quickly the difference between a cross-check and a slash. From surfing to skating in the blink of an eye. When you're a 6 year old boy, the most important cup in your world is the one that protects "the goods"...so he always called his protective gear HIS Stanley cup. It wasn't until he saw the real deal when he was 13 that he stopped refering to it that way. A new reverence emerged. He looked at it with starry eyes and heroic dreams, but never touched it. A hockey player doesn't touch the Cup unless he wins the Cup. That's commonly known. You don't wanna jinx your chances.

So now, both the Grommet and I look toward this season, or the lack of season, as the case may be, with sadness. Sadness that they couldn't come to an agreement. Sadness that again, money is the endall. Literally. The owners are asking for a salary cap. Why is that so awful? Let's do some math. If they cap out at, say, a million. Hmmm, a million divided by 84 games. That's approximately $11,900 a game. An average player...nah, let's think big..a good player will have about 15 to 17 minutes of ice time, on the average. That's around $700 a minute. Hello?

Now I know I'm simplifying it. But really, come on guys. Do you REALLY have anything to complain about? I know you're not making as much as NFL or NBA players. And I know you're not as popular. Hey, there's no accounting for taste. Don't EVEN get me started on why I hate football, :::yawn::: basketball, and America's favorite pastime :::gag::: baseball. In our world, drop the puck and you've got game. And now, you're depriving us. Which makes you no better to me than THEM. I held you in much higher esteem.

We raise a family on what you make in less than 6 games. So do those couple hundred people that work for the NHL, who are out of a job after this week. All because $1.3 million isn't enough? Shame on you. Shame on all of you.

Go to your rooms. I can't even look at you right now. And don't even THINK about asking to borrow the car. Ungrateful brats.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Desperately Seeking Hockey

Dear NHL Players and Owners:

I'm a seriously stressed out hockey fan that really needs her fix. Every year I suffer through the NBA, March Madness, MLB. I can take it only because I know that in the fall, my beloved hockey returns. In September, I get my jersey out from the winter box, clean it, and hang it in my room, at the ready. I double check with the cable company to make sure I'm lined up for Center Ice. I print out the schedule for MY team, and then I wait. This has never been a problem until now.

Please stop being petty, selfish, pig-headed babies. Think about the fans. Think about the ones who depend on you. Think about the countless children sharpening their blades in idol worship. Think about ME damn you! You owe it to all of us (ME) to do the right thing. WE are (I'M) the reason you're all overpaid anyway.

You have until midnight tomorrow to pull your heads out of your collective asses and make things work. I can do without sex for a short while. But I can't do without sex AND hockey. Prove to me there's a reason I stay a fan.

Face-off or Face Me,


Monday, September 13, 2004

If you gotta be in the hospital...this isn't a bad view. Posted by Hello

Sunday, September 12, 2004

Brrrr...It's A Little Chilly Around Here

Despite the fact were in the middle of a scorching SoCal heat wave, things have been downright frosty around here. Perhaps it IS the temperature that's causing sudden bursts of nastiness all around me. Perhaps it's just the everyday monotony of making daily trips back and forth to the SNF (Skilled Nursing Facility) or "Sniff" as the staff calls it. Yeah, the word itself brings unpleasant thoughts to mind. Perhaps its just the lack of nookie in my world. Whatever the reason is; it's kinda ugly. Even the ants that I've been battling in my kitchen have decided to go on sabbatical and visit more pleasant climes. I'm okay with that.

Saturday, while I was visiting Mum-in-law, I watched as she offended the people around her. Now, for the most part I understand that she wasn't doing it deliberately. And I try to take into account that she's in a good amount of pain, that she's old, and that she'd probably rather be home than stuck in a "dump and die" (HER words, NOT mine and it's not like that at all). But sometimes, the compassion leaves me when she says stupid-ass things and treats the people around her like crap. After physical therapy, where she actually put some weight on her new hip and took two steps, she was in a bit of pain. So the physical therapist went to get a nurse to give her a pain pill. The nurse was a very pretty woman, with OBVIOUS features that would lead one, by a simple glance, to KNOW that she was more than likely from India. The bindi in the middle of her forehead would be a dead giveaway, even to the ignorant. Apparantly not to Mom:

Nurse: (with slight accent) Is your pain moderate or severe?

Mom: Huh?

Nurse: (a little louder) Is your pain moderate of severe?

Mom: I'm sorry, I don't speak Spanish.

Nurse: I'm not speaking Spanish. Is your pain moderate or severe?

Mom: Huh? (Looks over at me for help.)

Me: (loudly) Mom, she wants to know if you have a lot of pain, or a little pain.

Mom: Well, all she had to do was say that. I don't speak Spanish.

Nurse: (perterbed) I'm not Latina, I'm Indian. I don't speak Spanish.

Mom: With all you dark skinned girls around here, it's hard for me to tell.

Me: (under my breath and putting my hands in my face to hide my embarrassment) Oh God.

At this point, Mom takes the administered pain pill and the nurse leaves. I took the opportunity to say something:

Me: You know Mom, what you said just now to the nurse was offensive.

Mom: What? What did I say? I didn't say anything wrong. It's not MY fault I didn't understand her.

Me: Well, you could have simply said; "I'm sorry, could you say that a little louder and slower? I didn't quite understand." You didn't have to mention ethnicity.

Mom: Oh well (shrugging her shoulders) EVERYONE around here looks Mexican. How am I supposed to be able to tell one dark-skinned person from another?

Me: You see? That's a perfect example. Why would you say something like "dark-skinned person?" Mom, I'M a dark-skinned person for heaven's sake! You don't even have to bring that up. It's offensive, AND rude.

Mom: Well Honey, I don't mean it that way.

I wouldn't be surprised if the staff begins spitting in her food.

Not minutes after this, Mom's bedside phone rings and it's Bryson. He's mumbling something about his sister being on crack. I tell him I'll go outside (you can't use cell phones in the facility) and call him back while Mom is finishing her breakfast.

Me: Okay Grommet, what's going on?

Bryson: It's Averie. She's friggin crazy!

Me: What happened?

Bryson: I was putting a new coat of wax on her surfboard for her, and she flipped out.

Me: Bryson...tell me the whole story.

Bryson: That IS the whole story.

Me: Okay, don't play games with me.

Bryson: Fine. While I was putting wax on her board, I peeled the stickers that she had on it off. They were in the way. Besides, what's the big deal, she hasn't used her board this summer. She's being a drama queen. (He's starting to figure it out)

Me: First; let's be real about this. I'm not stupid and neither is she. The only reason that you took her board down and started waxing it in the first place is because you intended to use it. Did you even ask her if you could use it?

Bryson: Well....no. But I don't see what the big deal is.

Me: The fact that you don't see what the big deal is, is probably the reason that your sister is having a fit. You didn't even ask. It's hers. You had NO right to touch her board without asking her. Next, taking the stickers off HER board...c'mon Buddy, you KNOW you're on a sinking ship. Bail out now. You were wrong and you owe her an apology AND new stickers. Put your sister on the phone.

Averie: He's an ass.

Me: Yeah, yeah, and you're over-reacting. It's a few stickers. They can be replaced.

Averie: Those stickers had good memories.

Me: And you still have those memories intact. His peeling the stickers off doesn't take your memories away.

Averie: (crying) Well, he shouldn't have touched my stuff.

Me: You're absolutely right. I'll beat him senseless when I get home. After I finish off your Grandmother.

Averie: (laughing) Is she being poopy?

Me: To say the least.

Averie: Sorry.

Me: I gotta go. I'll take care of this later. Okay?

As I stood there on the outside patio, cell phone in hand and my resolve a bit shaken; I contemplated my life as it is. This was the tip of the iceberg. Some days, I just feel like I'm sinking. Some days, I can tread that water endlessly. I know it's gonna get even harder and some days I'm really scared. I wonder if I have what it takes to handle it.

Then I noticed the view. Wow. All the madness, for the moment, goes away and the frost is lifted. I watch the boats in the harbor and the ocean beyond. It's beautiful. You can't look at that and be sad. It's warm and lovely and peaceful. I take a deep breath, and then head back inside to run interference. Maybe I should ask for a pain pill...

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Thank You For the Birthday Love Posted by Hello

Best Laid Plans...

I hesitate to use the word "laid", because in answer to your question about my birthday wishes Patrick; "NO". Through no fault of Charlie's however. We just didn't get off to exactly the right start. I guess with all of this Mum-in-law stuff going on, the hubby's birthday plans just didn't have lift-off. I just cracked myself up with that one.

Anyhooo, one out of three children remembered and I got that hug from her as she was leaving for school, bless her heart. The other daughter completely gelled until her friend reminded her because it was HIS birthday too and he asked "So what did you get your mom for her birthday?" So, when I picked her up from school, she was waiting for me with tears in her eyes and apologies. It was actually kinda cute. The son was in complete LALA land until darling Patrick called and made me smile and giggle with a stirring rendition of "Happy Birthday to you!" I especially liked the "Deeaaarrrr Pooooooooooo Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh" part. We laughed about what I REALLY wanted for my birthday when he suggested jewelry and I countered with birthday nookie. At which time my son rolled his eyes and turned red because other members of the waterpolo team just happened to be in my van at the time. Ohhh Mommm! Geeezzz!

A fun call to Rick, just because. And even if I wasn't drunk, it was GREAT to hear his voice. Again, one of those simple pleasures that make up for bumps in the road. Birthday emails from like-minded Moms and massive monkey-faced love. Aaron, that pic is about as creative as I can get right now. My muse must be sleeping with Toddy's Tequila Slut.

Calls from a newly found sister and brother that I have grown to love as if no time whatsoever had passed in our lives. And the capper; from the woman that gave birth to me, my very first birthday call. Whatever was going wrong with the day, softly melted away. I have no reason to complain.

We missed our dinner reservations because I had to take middle daughter to the doctor as she was absolutely sure the red, spreading bump on her thigh was actually a mosquito bite. She was going to die of West Nile. After an hour wait, the doctor assured her it was a spider bite and she would live. Whatever time I would have had to get "gussied up" was missed, so we ended up in casual jeans at a walk-in shrimp bar. Which was fine. I preferred it that way.

My sister-in-law had, earlier in the day, given me a plastic, handheld, battery operated fan for my birthday. For when I get "hot flashes". She's 56. I'm 44. What exactly was she saying about me? I supposed I could use it later on in the evening for my hot and heavy date with Charlie. :::sigh::: Yeah.

A gift that excited me; Famous Author Rob Byrnes'"Trust Fund Boys". If there was going to be any sex on my birthday, I guess I was only going to read about it. I AM going to read about it. Aren't I Rob????

I love you all. More than you know. You've MADE my world a mush better place. Yes, I meant "mush". :o)

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Close Your Eyes, Make A Wish, and BLOW!

It's been a hell of a week. I'm tired. And this little angel above is probably exactly what my birthday angel looks like. It's actually how I feel. I feel much older than I really am. I used to think that I would never be able to say the "F" word when someone asked my age. I was in such deep denial about it that I would say "I'm thirty-eleven" or "thirty-twelve". Now I'm the double "F" word. That's right. I'm ONLY 44. But damn, I feel 100.

Today I'd like to play. I'd like to be a kid without any cares in the world. I'd like to blow the candles out and really have my wish come true. I'd like to have ALL your phone numbers so that I can call you when I've had my birthday drinks and I can slur my words and you can laugh at me. I'd like to forget about hospitals, and in-laws, and nursing centers. I'd like to find a playground, and sit on a swing, and have Charlie push me high. So high I can touch the clouds. I'd like to have no one to take care of but me for just this one special day. Just this one day.

But it's ok. I'll take a walk on the beach BEFORE I go to the nursing center. I'll drop my kids off at school and they'll give me birthday hugs. I'll go to lunch after I make sure Mom eats and I'll order "an American meal" and make sure they give me fries. I won't have to share my fries with anyone. I'll pick up my son from waterpolo practice, and my daughter from drama practice. I'll come home tired but grateful for simple pleasures, good health, and love in my life. Happy Birthday to me. Lucky Girl.

Monday, September 06, 2004


Mom's surgery went well. The scary part came after when she showed definite signs of having had another blood clot induced stroke (TIA). She wasn't herself, didn't come out of the medication coma as quickly as we thought, and was uttering gibberish for two days. The doctors assured us that they believed it was just the morphine and we need to give her more time than you would give someone of lesser years. As Averie was trying to feed her dinner, she kept calling her "Trigonometry" and saying in her cute little Kiwi accent that she was "quite fond of Landmabashish" and that she'd like some mailbox with her tea. This morning, she was wide awake as we arrived to feed her breakfast. She was no longer hooked up to any IVs and she smiled and called us all by name. Full recognition and all faculties in place. Whew!

We left her in the capable hands of her Physical Therapist, who was going to try to get her out of bed for the first time since surgery. She asked us to leave this time and said she really didn't want us to see her pain. Funny, she doesn't really know how much pain we've seen over the last few years. But, we honored her wishes. Now, we're on our way back for the lunchtime visit. You see, if we don't go and make sure she eats, she won't. So, we're there for every meal. Hopefully, tomorrow or the next day, she'll be transferred to a rehab facility. I don't think she knows yet that her days of independence are at an end. She'll never be on her own again. Charlie and I want her to come and live with us, but she has somehow managed to convince herself that she'd be "too much of a burden" for us.

I'm having a hard time understanding this "disposable parent" mentality. When my mom was dying of cancer, we were right there. When my dad went into permanant kidney dialysis mode, we were right there. I noticed over the summer when we went back to Hawaii to meet my birth family, that my younger sister had my birth parents come and live with her. Yeah, life wasn't perfect and they may not have been the best parents in the world, but they did the best with what they had. I guess I was just raised with the mindset that you take care of your parents.

Anyway my wonderful Blog family; I want you to know how much I love all of you. Your kind words and thoughts in a difficult time have lifted us. All of us. I read your notes of love and prayers, your hugs from afar that give me the strength to continue to do what I know in my heart is the right thing. Stuart; as always, your words wisely chosen and strung together brought a tear to my eye. Sometimes, I'm not sure the people in my 3d world get it. It can be thankless. I appreciate what you said very much.

Okay kiddos...lunch time at the hospital! We're having Pasta Primavera and peas! Wooohooooo! Love you massively.

Friday, September 03, 2004

Long Night

Long Night

As always, we were out on our Thursday "date night". Had a great time, visited with friends over dinner and a couple of beers and then headed over to the high school to watch my nephew's first football game of the year. Just as third quarter kickoff was taking place, Charlie's phone and my phone ring simultaneously...it was "Life Alert". You know, the "I've fallen and I can't get up" people. We've had Charlie's mom on the system since her stroke in February. Good thing. They were telling us that Charlie's mom had pushed her alert button because she'd fallen down and believed she had broken her hip. We yelled our goodbye to friends and family in the stands and literally FLEW down the bleachers.

Long story short; Charlie's mom had indeed broken her hip and we had to call the paramedics. That was at 9:30 pm on Thursday night. It's now 5:53 pm Friday night. We've just gotten home from the hospital. We waited in the ER, got her admitted, waited for her oncologist, her orthopedist, her internist, and her cardio-vascular doctor to pow-wow and then let us know the plan of attack. All this while Mom slept peacefully with the pain-free help of Morpheus. I'd like to be a friend of Morpheus right now myself. I think I'll go lie down next to my napping husband. It's gonna be a long haul. Surgery tomorrow morning at 7:30 am. Please send good thoughts. If you don't hear from me for a couple days, you'll know why.

I should mention how phenomenal Averie has been. She helped SO much through all of this difficulty. She's grown to be a beautiful woman; inside and out.

Be good kids. Love one another.