Exploring Oregon 2009

Exploring Oregon 2009

Tuesday, December 28, 2010


Our Christmas Tree 2010
Whomever wrote the lyrics "It's the moooooost wonderful tiiiiiiiime of the yeeeeeeeeeaaaaaar" (just 'googled' this and found that it is two gentleman (funny, I would have thought it would have been a woman) by the names of Eddie Pola and George Wyle) is one (or I guess two) of the few people who truly relate to how I feel about the holiday season. There are so many things that I love about summertime; the warmth, the long days full of sunshine, camping, hiking, backpacking, kayaking, boating, riding bikes, running the river trail, etc., etc., but there is just something magical about Christmastime.  Seeing cars go down the road with Christmas Trees strapped to their roofs, the warm glow of Christmas lights speckling the neighborhood, the beauty of fresh fallen snow and the peaceful quiet it brings and the overwhelming and lighthearted joy I feel whenever I hear Christmas music playing are what make this time of year truly wonderful.  It is a part of my life that is steeped in family values and tradition.

 As a child, Christmas meant platefuls of cookies and candies, beautiful, sparkling lights and decorations, feasts fit for a king, getting together with the family, and of course, mountains of presents.  My sister and I were both pretty good as far as kids go, and we were heavily rewarded for our outstanding behaviour, not only by Santa, but by the rest of the family as well.  In the final weeks leading up to Christmas, we would watch eagerly as more and more beautifully wrapped presents would find their way under the tree.  My sister and I would dig through them every so often, rejoicing every time we found one with our names on it, and counting how many we each had.  This of course meant that our mom would have to make sure that we each had an equal number of presents, or else there would be some taunting and pouting going on between us kids...something along the lines of one of us being loved more, or being the 'favorite child.'  My poor parents. 

Christmas Eve meant laying in my bed trying desperately to fall asleep, fully knowing that the sooner I could fall asleep, the sooner it would be Christmas morning.  Despite my best efforts, I usually laid awake for hours, perking up every time I thought I heard the sound of hoofs on the rooftop.  Now, I've never been a morning person, even as a child, with the exception of Christmas morning.  As soon as my eyes fluttered open, I was up and out of bed, peeking to see if Santa had come.  Next stop was my parents bedroom to wake them, which usually resulted in them telling me that I needed to go back to bed, and that I could come wake them up when the little hand pointed at the 7.  That was torture unlike any other 'time-out.'  Could time move ANY slower??

Christmas morning meant that we could open our presents that Santa left us, then we tore ourselves away from playing with them long enough to eat some breakfast and get dressed.  Just after lunch, my Grandparents, Aunt and Uncle and my two cousins would show up, and then the real fun began.  That's when we all exchanged presents and the kids went crazy ripping open gift after gift, screaming in excitement at every toy and feigning appreciation for the sweaters and mittens.  The rest of the day was spent playing with shiny, new toys and ended with the feast of all feasts followed by pies, candies and cookies.

These days Christmas is looked forward to for different reasons.  Don't get me wrong, I still love the cookies and candies, the always delicious prime rib dinner, all the gorgeous decorations and of course the presents...but it's really the time with my family that I cherish most. 

My mom has always made a big event out of Christmas, with decorations aplenty.  I love coming home to sit in the family room and just enjoy the beauty of her tree.  Every inch of the house gets 'made-over' in the Christmas spirit and it warms my soul.

My Mom's Tree 2010
As a child, I grew up in Southern California, and every year after Thanksgiving had come and gone, we would make our way down to the local tree lot to pick out our Christmas tree.  These days, my mom has traded the fresh tree for an artificial one for a few reasons.  First, the fire hazard and clean-up of a real tree.  Having needles all over the house is something she couldn't really stand, being the perpetually clean person she is.   Second, there is the simplicity an artificial tree brings as there is no need to have to string lights on and off the tree every year since they can remain in place.  This is invaluable time saved, as transforming every room of her beautiful home into a Christmas wonderland takes weeks of dedication to the task, and any time that can be saved in the process is priceless.  Finally, trying to find a fresh, real tree that could house all of her ornaments without buckling under the load would be practically impossible.  My dad always jokes that after she gets finished decorating the tree, the actual tree can no longer be seen.  There is some truth to this, as I believe the ornament to tree ratio is through the roof, but the finished product is spectacular.

Bringing Home the Tree
Now that I am a grown, married woman with a home of my own, I have gone back to my roots and drag my husband out to the tree lot every year in search of the perfect Christmas tree.  Many families in the Pacific Northwest buy a pass to go out into the woods in search of the perfect tree, and while I love the idea of this, there are a handful reasons that I stick to the tree lots.  First, it was the family tradition I had as a child.  Growing up outside of Los Angeles made it just a tad bit difficult to go to the woods to pick out a tree, so to the tree lot we went.  Second, the trees are always gorgeously full and perfectly shaped.  Third, it helps the local economy as Oregon is one of the top Christmas Tree producing states (just another reason why I love Oregon).  My final reason is the most important, and it is that I can't bring myself to go cut down a little tree out in the woods when there are gorgeous trees that are grown on farms for the specific purpose of becoming Christmas trees.  These trees are cut down and brought into the city and sold at the tree lots.  It breaks my heart to see trees that are still sitting in the tree lot the day before Christmas, knowing that they weren't chosen and didn't get to fulfill their purpose.  Why cut down a perfectly good tree in the forest when there are already ones that were cut and will go to waste if not bought at the tree lots?  This may sound extremely silly to some, but trees are living creatures, and I think of them like little animals.  The idea of not being picked makes me think of little homeless animals at the shelter just begging to be taken home and loved.  Support your local tree lots!!!

Our Christmas Lights
I also enjoy covering my home in Christmas decorations.  I may not be as extreme as my mom, but every year my decoration collection grows a little and I get that much closer.  Last year we won the prize for the best Christmas lights/outdoor decorations in our neighborhood, which earned us a $100 gift certificate to the Old Mill Shopping District.  This allowed me to prove to my husband that all the hard work is worth it, to which he responded 'Yeah, this year.'  Scrooge.  He is just like my dad, and I am so like my mother when it comes to Christmas.

A Creative Approach to Christmas Lights
in a neighboring community. 

"Thanks for the delicious bow Auntie
Summer and Uncle Jason!"
This year we had the added joy of celebrating Christmas with a child, my nephew.  Children just add so much excitement to the holidays.  While he was too young to understand anything that was going on (he's only 7 months) we all still had great fun spoiling him and watching him help rip open presents.  It was all a little overwhelming for the little guy, and with all the money spent on him, his favorite item of the day was the red bow that adorned the present that Jason and I gave him.  Naturally.  I can't wait for Christmases in the future when he is a little older and can understand some of what is going on.  I'm also looking forward to starting our own family and the excitement that having a child of our own to spoil will bring.

It is now December 28th, and I sit in the leather recliner in my parents family room, basking in the glow of the Christmas tree as I type.  I am saddened at the realization that Christmas has come and gone, but plan to enjoy the beautiful decorations and lights for as long as possible.  When we return home, I will undoubtedly keep my decorations up as long as possible before finally caving in and putting them away for another year.  I will miss the Christmas music on the radio on my way to work.  This always, well usually always, brightened my morning drive.  I love Christmas music and never really grow tired of it.  I could listen to it all day, much to my co-worker's dismay.  There is just something about it that instantly lifts my spirits and makes me all warm and fuzzy inside.  Lately however, it seems that the radio stations that play Christmas music have really been reaching to add to their repertoire.  So many sad songs of heartbreak and loneliness have made their way onto the radio, and while I feel for the families who have soldiers over seas, how does depressing Christmas music make it better?  I think there should be a ban on the writing of new Christmas music.  I love the music from my youth and the traditional songs.  Bring on 'Frosty the Snowman,' 'Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer,' 'I'll be Home for Christmas,' 'Let It Snow,' 'Walking in a Winter Wonderland,' 'Oh Holy Night,' and so on and so forth.  Bring on Perry Como, Dean Martin, Nat King Cole and Frank Sinatra.  They are the grandfathers of Christmas's melodic soul.  So in future years when you are grumbling about all the Christmas music on the radio, think of all the joy it is bringing me and try not complain so loudly. It is only one month out of the year that I get to enjoy it!!

My adorable nephew and his new pillow pet!
 I hope the holidays were good to everyone, and that you all got to experience a little bit of the magic that this season brings.

My sister, her husband and my nephew
with his pile of presents


Monday, October 4, 2010


Holes in your passport
= travel denied
 Most anyone who is a friend of mine on facebook has probably already heard bits of this story, but I'm still kicking myself over this and am wondering what exactly I did to deserve this very cruel prank.  I'm convinced that the someone 'up there' has a sick sense of humor, and somehow I became the butt end of a mean joke.

Months ago I received an email from my father-in-law stating that they wanted to send all us kids to go visit Grandma Kath in England this year.  He asked about times and dates that would work for us and the next thing I know, Jason and I have tickets booked for September 14-21.  A wave of excitement washed over me as I immediately put the dates on my work calendar and informed my project manager of my trip.

Come to find out that London was hosting its 'Open House' the weekend we would be there, which means that buildings all over the city that are never open to the public, open their doors......wait for it......for free!  Can there be anything more exciting for someone who studied and works in architecture and interior design?! 

Now, Jason and I have been trying to get some money saved up as we are looking to buy a new house (expect posts on this soon), so we were a little worried about the cost of this trip.  Overall, it would be a fairly inexpensive vacation being that our plane tickets were paid for, we were staying with his Grandma and that she would provide us with breakfast every morning, and dinner on the nights we were there.  We did consider the fact that we would be out and about most afternoons, which means purchasing lunch and transportation costs, plus whatever shopping and shows we decided to do, so the fact that the Open House was going on and that it was free was very exciting for us.

We have also both been totally swamped with work this summer, and of course my team had multiple deadlines that ended up falling right around the dates of our trip.  This led to numerous hours of overtime in the weeks leading up to our trip, making it difficult to even get excited for the vacation as I was only focused on the work I needed to get finished before I went.

I literally worked until 10pm the night before we were to leave.  By the time I got all packed and crawled into bed, I think it was somewhere around 2am.  Our flight was scheduled to leave out of Portland at 2:50pm on Tuesday the 21st, so we woke up at 7am, got everything packed into the car, went and got coffee and gassed up the car, then headed to the dog kennel where we had reservations for Cameo to stay for the next week (I like to call it Doggie Summer Camp, because kennels and/or boarding doesn't sound nearly as fun).  At 8:15am, we left for Portland.  We arrived at Jason's Aunt's house a little after 12pm.  We walked down to a cute, little cafe (in what used to be the library) that we make a point to visit every time we are there, for lunch with his Aunt Mary.  After a mouth watering pulled pork sandwich, we headed back to transfer our bags into Mary's car so that she could drop us off at the airport.

We arrived at the Portland airport around 1:30pm.  Now, a brief warning as I'm about to go on a mini rant.  Typically I have never bothered to print off my boarding passes ahead of time, unless I am only traveling with a carry on, as it always seemed pointless to me otherwise since you still had to check you luggage.  Jason and I debated this the night before and read that by printing our boarding pass ahead of time, we could skip the check-in lines and simply check our bags at the bag drop.  Okay, we decided we would give it a go.  Much to our dismay, we arrived at the 'bag drop' whose line was longer than the check-in stations.  We thought, 'Okay, maybe it goes quickly.'  Wrong.  Lucky us, we managed to get in line directly behind a family with four kids, one of which was a baby, which means that they had a million bags and baby paraphernalia to check (think strollers, car seat, etc.).

We finally make it up to bag check, and Jason quickly gets his checked, on we are on to mine.  I hand the man at the counter my boarding pass and my passport.  A moment later he is asking me if I got a new passport.  It seems that the passport that Jason grabbed out of our safe was my old passport in my maiden name...which was no longer valid and there were holes punched in it.  Uh...panic.  What?!  So I explain to him that I got a new passport after we got married and my husband must have grabbed my old one.  He asks where my new passport is, and I tell him that it must still be in our safe at home.  So he asks me where home is, and I tell him, Bend...3 hours away, to which he replies 'Oh.  You're not gonna make this flight.'  Yeah, thanks genius.  So he tells us to talk with another agent to see about changing our tickets to a later flight. 

After many long painful moments we are told there is nothing available later in the day, but that there were seats available on the same flight leaving the next day. Momentary relief.  We could get my passport by then and be on our way having only missed a day.  Then the most helpful agent tells us that he has to check on the rebooking costs.  We had already begun to brace ourselves knowing that it would be a miracle beyond all miracles if we managed to get off scott free.  This stupid mistake would cost us a couple hundred, we were sure of it.  Imagine our surprise when he told us that it would be nearly two grand...each.  I'm pretty sure my jaw hit the counter and remained there the entire time that the agent explained the cost.  Apparently, there are something like 8 different price categories...in coach.  It really didn't make much sense to me.  Coach is coach right?  He explained that our tickets were bought at the cheapest price category, and all that was left were tickets at the third highest category.  Are you kidding me?  Third highest?  Meaning people pay even more than that for a flight?  Who?  And why?  Did you get an extra bag of peanuts or something that make the tickets worth more than three times what we paid for?  Blown.  Away.  So the guy told us that there wasn't anything in our price range any time soon, so Jason asked him what would happen if we just walked away since spending an additional four grand wasn't in our cards.  We knew the tickets weren't refundable, so did we just loose the money all together?  He told us that we would need to rebook for a later date when they had tickets in our price category and that there would be a $250 rebooking fee per ticket.  Okay.  Still not great, but $500 is better than $4k, and it beats loosing the price of the tickets all together.

Defeated, we gathered our things, hopped on the MAX and headed back to Jason's Aunt's.  We figured that we would just have to postpone the trip a bit, and decided to make the most out of our drive to Portland.  I finally got to visit Powell's books, then we had a really nice dinner at a pub and finally I gorged myself on some delicious gelato.  Mmmm.  By the time we got back into Bend around 10pm, I had pretty much come to terms with our bad luck.  I was bummed because I had worked so hard the week previous in order to take this vacation, and I was looking forward to getting to spend time in London while Sarah was there too.  The worst part however was knowing that now I was going to miss the Open House.  I was really looking forward to it, and was excited that it wasn't going to cost us anything.  Oh well.  C'est la vie .

As I was brushing my teeth and preparing to call it a night, the thought ran through my head that I should pull out my valid passport, as Jason had mentioned that he didn't see it in the safe when he grabbed them.  I should also mention that I got a little reprimanding for even keeping my old passport, and that even if I did want to keep it, that I shouldn't put it in the safe with the new one, as that was just asking for something like this to happen.  I agreed that it was stupid and I didn't think it through very well, but I was concerned when he said he didn't see another passport in there.  Surely he just missed it.  So I started to look and began to panic when I wasn't finding it.  I emptied every envelope in there and came up empty handed.  Great.  Where else would it be?  This is the only place I keep it.  As soon as I get back from a trip, into the safe it goes.  I started to think back to the last time I needed it.  Jeez.  It was over a year ago, June 2009 when we took an Alaskan cruise that had a stop in Canada.  I took a quick trip down memory lane in an effort to recall what luggage I had taken on that trip.  Well, I was pretty sure it was the same bags I had for this trip.  Gasp!  No.  It couldn't be.  I unzipped the front pocket of my carry-on bag, and lo-and-behold, there was my passport...practically laughing at me.

I HAD IT THE ENTIRE TIME!!!  At first I laughed at this.  It was just too ridiculous to even fully comprehend.  Then I got really, really angry.  Why?!?  Why couldn't there have been a reason for me to check that pocket.  Seriously.  That's all it would have taken.  This is a sick, cruel joke.  Again, I got even angrier thinking about how hard I worked for this vacation, and how I didn't deserve this.  After much slamming of drawers and doors, and crying myself to exhaustion, I collapsed into bed.

I woke up the next morning to find the bitter taste in my mouth had not dissolved.  I rolled over and went back to sleep, not yet ready to face reality.  I finally forced myself out of bed and joined Jason downstairs sometime around 10:30am.  I had some breakfast and then we began the search for dates/tickets for our rescheduled trip.  We must have found 3 different itineraries that we thought would work, but then when we would confirm with his folks, would find out that they wouldn't work and had to go back to the drawing board.  Finally, we found some dates that worked for everyone and we headed to Jason's office to book the tickets (we don't have secure internet at home...in fact, I 'borrow' my neighbors.  Their fault for not securing it really...that's how I look at it).

Once at his office, we logged in with our confirmation information to access our account.  At the top of the page read 'You missed your flight.'  Thanks again, Captain Obvious.  Underneath that was a link that said 'Find alternate flights.'  We clicked it, and it only lists that day (Wednesday) and the following day to find flights with.  Uh, okay.  So then we see at the top of this page that it says 'There will be no fees for accepting an alternate flight.'  You've got to be kidding me.  So apparently if you know you will miss your flight and try to rebook, it will cost you thousands, but if you miss it and then rebook, it won't cost you a dime.  Hmmph.  Awesome.  We just came to terms with the fact that we were going to go in October.  Now what?  The alternate flight that they showed was the same flight we were supposed to take on Tuesday but on Thursday.  Then it hit me.  Had we known that it wouldn't cost us to rebook after we missed the flight, we could have gotten on and rebooked for the Wednesday flight instead of the Thursday, but noooooo, most helpful agent man failed to mention that little tidbit to us.  I'm trying to believe that he was a good person and simply didn't even know that you could rebook online for free after missing a flight, but I struggle with that from time to time.

So now we had a new decision to make; rebook our flight to leave the next day and shorten our trip by two days (this after calling and talking with an agent to see if it was possibly to change our return flight by a couple days, only to find that would cost us $350 each...not an option), or rebook for an entire week in October and pay the $500 in rebooking fees.  It became pretty obvious that we should just go now, as it wouldn't cost us anything additionally, we already had the time off work, and we would still be there to see the Open House.

Luckily we hadn't unpacked, so it was very much de ja vu on Thursday morning...packing up the car, getting coffee and gas, dropping the doggie off at 'Summer Camp' and heading to Portland.  This time, no problems getting on the plane and we were on our way.

On another little side note/rant, the tickets that we were rebooked to were supposedly in that same $4k price category.  I was hoping that this meant we got seats in one of those rows in the front or the emergency exit rows with more leg room.  WROOOOOOONG!!  Oh so wrong.  We got put in the very last row for both of our flights.  Not only did this mean little-to-no reclining, it also had slightly less leg room than the average row.  Not so zesty when you are on a 14+ hour flight.  Pretty much the worst flight ever, but it did teach us to appreciate the space in the normal cabin rows on our way home.

In the end, we had a great trip.  Got to spend time with Grandma Kath, got to tour some great buildings and spaces (for free), got to see our friends, the Kings and do some shopping (got an awesome Halloween costume), and I got to see Phantom of the Opera in the theatre that housed the world premiere in back in 1986 and continued to play ever since.  All of it was amazing, and we packed it all into the short 3.5 days we were there.  We gave some serious thought to just 'accidentally' missing our flight home and rebooking, but thought that there could be a chance that they wouldn't give us two free rebookings in one trip.  We hadn't been very lucky lately, so decided not to push it.

Lesson learned, even if you are sure you have your passport, check and check again.  Physically pull it out, open it and look at it.  Also, if you get a new passport, never keep your old one in the same place, take it from me.  Finally, always unpack and put important documents away as soon as you get home!  One little mistake can lead to a serious crick in your neck and mild headache due to lack of/very bad sleep due to horrible seat reassignments.  I have to wonder if we would have been stuck in those same awful excuses for seats had we actually paid the four thousand for them.  Now THAT would have been infuriating!!

Monday, July 26, 2010


Loving on my day old Nephew
I got the news sometime last Fall that my sister was pregnant.  I had known that they had started trying earlier in the year, and for a while, I had some mixed feelings about this.  First, she is my younger sister.  Younger by three years.  She is my only sister, and therefore will always be my 'baby' sister.  It seems that in the last five years she has grown up so much, and it has even seemed that she was in a hurry to grow up, and that at times has been a little hard for me.  She got engaged a few months after I did, but beat me to the alter by almost exactly five months.  Not a big deal, but was a little strange, again being that she was my younger sister.  It made me feel like I was a little behind for not getting married sooner, although I know this is completely ludicrous.

The new family
Then I hear talk that they are thinking about starting a family.  Oh Lord.  First they buy a new car, and not just any new car but a brand new Honda CRV.  It's a great little car, and when I ask why they decided to go with that particular car, the list they gave me had more to do with having kids than anything else.  Oh boy.

On a side note, it was about this time that I threatened my sister to come and visit me in Oregon.  I officially moved to Bend in May of 2007, and I wasn't even in town a week before my Mom and Sister made a trip out to visit me.  My Mom has managed to come and visit again with my Dad last summer, but my sister has not come back since.  Her husband even has a brother who lives down the road from me, and even between the two of us, we have not convinced them to come and visit.  So when I find out that they have decided that they want to start a family, I told my sister that she was NOT allowed to have a baby until she came to Bend, because after that point, it would become beyond impossible for them to visit.  Okay, it is far from 'beyond impossible,' but being that I've been trying to get them out here for years to no avail when their pets were their only responsibility, having a child to worry about traveling with seems to make the idea of them making the trip pretty hopeless.  Anyway, it becomes apparent that my threats don't hold any salt, because the next thing I know, they are pregnant. 

Mommy & Brodie meeting for the first time
So at this point, I have all SORTS of emotions going on.  First, I'm extremely excited about the prospect of becoming an Aunt.  How fantastic will that be!  Neither Jason nor myself is ready to have kids yet, so having someone else in the family to have them for us to play with is great!  Second, I'm feeling a little bit old and behind the times that my baby sister is going to have a baby...before me.  Not really something to get worked up about, but I did stop and examine my life a little.  I took stock of all my high school and college friends who already have toddlers, infants or were pregnant (some with their second child) and it made me feel like I was dragging my feet in that I don't have plans to have a kid anytime soon.  I also looked around my neighborhood and realized that we are basically the only young couple without kids.  Hmmmm.  I started to freak out a little because I know that there are things I need and want to do (like get my architectural license) before starting a family, but I had this sense that I was running out of time.  I had read once that it was beneficial to the female body to have your first child by the age of thirty.  I had always thought that I would have my first by thirty...until I got to age 26 or so and realized that 30 was NOT that far off.  When I got married at 27, I had already come to terms with the fact that I would not have kids by 30, and was fine with that.  In the last year or so, I've decided however, that I want to have kids sooner than later.  I don't want to be an old and uncool mother.  I don't want to be too old to enjoy my freedom when the kids are old enough to move out of the house.  On the other hand, I had hoped to do more traveling before starting a family, but due to financial responsibilities, traveling has been placed on a back burner.  You can still travel with kids...right?  Okay, maybe the backpack tour of Europe is out, but is flying to New Zealand too much?  Time will tell I suppose.  Anyhow, this is a whole other subject matter that I may or may not touch on at a later time.  To sum things up, I suppose that I was a little jealous of my sister and my friends for being at the point where they are ready and wanted to be parents.  I know I want to be, but I just don't feel ready yet, and I'm beginning to wonder if the time will ever come that I will truly feel ready.

Me and my hour old Nephew.  Welcome Broderick!
Third and lastly, I'm feeling a little sad/angry that my request for them to visit before having a baby was thrown to the wayside.  I know that my sister's life doesn't revolve around my wishes, but I've seriously been living here for over three years now, and the only time I ever see them is when I come to visit them.  I know the drive isn't fun, and I know that it takes time, but I do it because I want to see my family.  It really isn't that hard.  You just have to pick a weekend, plan to take off early that Friday and get on the road.  You get into Bend late Friday night and you have all day Saturday and Sunday afternoon to hang out before hitting the road around 2 or 3pm to head home.  Yes, it's a short visit, but it's something.  I can't say how many times I've done it.  If you really want to make a trip out of it, you take Friday and Monday off and make it an extended weekend.  Is it too much to ask that you take one or two days off work a year to visit??

New Mother, Grandmother and Baby
After bringing this up, my sister says that they will probably not be able to visit before having the baby because she was saving up all her vacation time to tack onto her maternity leave after the baby was born.  So then I am told they will come visit during that time.  Yeah right I think, but I can't help but let a small part of me get really, really excited at the prospect of it.  Needless to say, she goes back to work in about two weeks, so I gave up and am going to visit them the weekend before she starts work.

Great Grandma, Auntie Summer and Brodie
So those are my mixed emotions.  More than anything, I'm stoked to be an Aunt and am so, SO happy for my sister and her husband, but there is a little jealousy and sadness mixed in as well.  On top of this is the horrible feeling that I'm missing out on my nephew's youth by living so far away.  It would be one thing if they came to see us half as much as we go to see them.  Then I would see him every couple of months or so, but this is not the case.  I flew home to see him born back in May and when I go home in a couple weeks, this will be the first time I've seen him since, and he's already doubled in size.  I really truly want to be a great Aunt, but at this point, I'm beginning to fear that this child will really have no idea who I am, and this is by far the worst feeling of all.

Sunday, July 25, 2010


When I moved out of the sorority house and into my first apartment while in college, I was lucky enough to have an entire apartment's worth of furniture at my disposal.  While not the most fashionable of pieces, my apartment was hands down nicer than 90% of my friends (not to brag, just saying that I was fortunate).  All the furniture matched and was in like-new condition in comparison to the mismatched hand-me-downs that inhabited most college apartments.  The exception to my furniture was my bed.  My grandmother donated a couple of old wood frame twin beds.  I don't want you to think when I say that they were wood frames that they were anything to write home about.  They were cheap and on the verge of falling apart and were probably made for a child's room.  The mattresses were obviously not as old as the bed frames themselves, but were nothing spectacular either.  For a while I slept on a single twin bed, until my last year of college when I pushed the two beds together to create an enormous king bed in my tiny bedroom apartment.  Spare sheets and comforters were shoved into the 'crack' between the two mattresses, and a king sized foam topper was thrown over the entire bed.  This proved to be a great improvement over sleeping on the mattress without any kind of topper, but honestly, I didn't spend much time in my bed my grad year as thesis approached.  I often found myself napping in my mini papason chair at studio instead.

During my last year of grad school, Jason was living and working in Bend, OR.  We had bought a house there that fall and again were lucky enough to have an entire houseload of furniture at our disposal.  A couple years earlier, Jason's parents bought a second home in Clarkston, WA and decided to keep their home in Moscow for those winter days when the weather was bad enough that they wanted to avoid making the commute.  Thus, a second set of furniture was purchased for their new home in Clarkston.  After the first year, they realized that they weren't using the Moscow home enough to warrant keeping it and then placed the home up for sale.  Once the sale was complete, movers were hired to pack up the entire house and everything was moved into a storage unit.  This entire storage unit was put on a truck and sent to Bend for us to sift though and make sense of.  (As a side note, when you hire movers to pack up your house, they don't ask questions, they just throw everything into boxes.  This includes a random assortment of bits and pieces, such as safety pins, thumb tacks, pennies, pencil shavings, you-name-it.  This was a nightmare to sort through and many an item we came across we played the 'What does this doo-dad do?' game and actually came up with a few immaginative solutions).  The furniture was perfect for our first rental house in Bend, but didn't quite fit, or work very well with the house we purchased. 

After I graduated, I moved out to Bend to be with Jason and brought a couple pieces from my apartment with me to use in the new house and we were able to give some of the Oman furniture to Jason's sister for her to use in her new apartment.  While still not the style of furniture I wanted, the pieces I brought were an improvement over the over-sized pieces of furniture that were currently crammed into the house.  Shortly after this time, I found out about craigslist.  Truely a life saver and an admitted addiction.  This eventually led to me finding our new bar/sidetable, entertainment center, dresser, bed set, nightstands, dining room table and chairs, among other smaller purchases. 

Our master bedroom before
For this particular blog, I want to focus on our bedroom aquistions.  The queen sized bed that Jason's parents had given us was comfortable, but entirely too large for out tiny master bedroom, and not to mention completely outdated as far as style is concerned (see above photo.  What you can't see are the storage drawers underneath and the built-in lights and mirror in the headboard which are hidden by the pillows in this photo).  I searched craigslist for a good long time before stumbling upon a deal that seemed too good to be true.  A gentleman was leaving town and selling his bedroom set which included the solid wood headboard, footboard, side rails, and two nightstands for $250.  He would also 'throw in' the mattress and a down mattress pad as well.  I went to look at the pieces, and could see the potential.  The entire set was painted black and needed a new coat of paint as well as some updated hardware.  I quickly wrote him a check for the $250 and for that price, he even rented a u-haul trailer and delivered the set to my house the next day.  WHAT A STEAL!!  Once the set arrived, I was still very pleased with my purchase, but could see why he was 'throwing in' the mattress set.  Honestly, I think it may have been older than me.

The Old Mattress (that was 'thrown in' the bedroom set deal)
We got to work repainting the set and shopping for and installing the new hardware.  It looked amazing when we were finished, and we took Jason's parents bed apart, and stored it in the garage.  For the following week, we slept in our guest room while we repainted the master bedroom and installed our new bedroom set.  What an improvement!  Since no one was using the Oman bed, we continued to use the nicer mattress and kept the one that came with the bed in the garage.  After storing the old bed for a couple months, Jason's sister adopted it when she moved to Corvallis to attend OSU.  We felt that we couldn't rightfully keep the mattress and give her the crummy one, so we switched them out.  After a couple nights sleep on this sorry excuse for a mattress, I began searching craigslist for anything because honestly, anything would have felt like an improvement.  Jason however, was not so onboard for spending a couple hundred dollars on a new mattress when we already had one that he thought was fine. 

Flash forward another year or so.  We are still sleeping on the same crummy mattress, and it has gotten to the point where I was sleeping horribly and waking up sore.  For Christmas this past year, the local ski mountain was running a special for 5 ski lessons and a 12 day pass for first timers which my parents had bought us as our Christmas gift.  Jason has always snowboarded, and I haven't skiied for over 10 years, so we figured we could count as first timers.  Apparently we were wrong.  First timers meant that you have never been to the mountain at all, so they checked our records, saw that we had bought passes before and left Jason a nice little message on his phone letting us know that we didn't qualify for the program and that our money was refunded.  DRAT!!  It really was a deal that was too good to be true.  The lessons were just something to do for fun, but the whole package only cost $200 and you got a 12-day lift pass which normally cost $500 alone.  After some brief grieving, we began discussing what we should do with the $400.  I knew immediately that if it were up to me, that money would go towards a new mattress.  Jason agreed it would be a good purchase (though not nearly as fun) and the mattress shopping had officially begun!

We began looking at mattresses that were in the $500-$700 range and they all seemed to be a HUGE improvement over what we had.  I had been hearing an advertisement on the radio at work about a mattress store in Bend selling last year's models at a deep discount, and that the only difference between the 2009 and 2010 models was the color of the fabric.  Fine by me!  I could care less if my mattress was blue or white or tie-dye for that matter, just so long as it was comfortable and was going to last.  We walked into the store and immediately started noticing the price tags.  These were a lot nicer mattresses than the ones we originally started looking at as they were the big brand names that start with an 'S.'  We told the salesman what we had been looking at, and that we were interested in some of their close-out sales.  He showed us a few beds before pointing us to the 'Best Deal in the Store.'  It was a mattress we passed as we walked in and the price tag on the mattress was $999 and that was after taking a little over 50% off!  Now you have to understand that Jason and I (especially Jason) are always on the hunt for a great deal, and that 50% off usually, in our minds, constitutes a 'great deal.'  Still, dropping an extra $600 on top of the $400 we started out with was a big hit.  Then I laid on the bed.  O...M...G.  I could have fallen asleep right then and there in the store, that is how incredibly comfortable that bed was.  After seeing how much I loved the bed, but seeing how were were stumbling over the price tag, the salesman mentioned that he could check other showrooms to see if they had one on display that they were selling for a deeper discount.  We could have bought the one at the showroom we were at if we were in the market for a king size, but alas, our bed frame is for a queen, and that's about all our little master bedroom could handle.  We waitied patiently as he searched the store database and came across a winner!  In the end we paid $699 for an $1800 mattress set that was delivered and set up in our house, and they hauled our pitiful old mattress away to be recycled.  Hurray!  Now that's a deal!

The only hitch in the whole new mattress deal was the delivery.  We placed the order on a Saturday morning and were pleasantly surprised that they could deliver the mattress as soon as Monday afternoon.  Hooray!  Only 2 more nights of sleep on that aweful excuse for a mattress!  Monday morning came and I stripped the bed and said my 'goodbyes' to that old mattress and hapily went to work knowing I'd come home and find our shiny new pillowtop mattress waiting for me.  Later in the day I get in touch with Jason only to find out they delivered the wrong mattress (a king size) and wouldn't be able to deliver our mattress until Wednesday now.  DRAT!!  That meant another 2 days of horrible sleep...AND I have to remake the bed now only to strip it again on Wednesday.  Darn them.  Of course I had to go to Portland for work on Wednesday morning, and my clients were being a little more than fashionably late, which turned out to be fortunate for me.  I had received multiple messages from the mattress delivery guy saying that they needed to deliver the mattress earlier than planed (they told Jason they would be there sometime between 2-3pm and were calling me at 9am saying that they would be there within the hour) and they couldn't reach Jason.  I tried calling him, but got his voice mail.  I called a couple more times and still got no answer and the delivery guys were starting to ask me if there was a way to get into the garage so they could leave it there.  No, no, no...I was NOT giving them my garage code, or telling them where our hide-a-key was, and then letting them into my house unmonitored.  No thanks.  So then they started asking if a neighbor had a key and could let them in.  Again, not happening.  So I had to resort to calling a friend who's husband is Jason's boss, so that she could call her husband and tell him to have Jason call me.  10 minutes later, I'm finally in touch with my husband (turns out he forgot his phone at home...convenient).  I explain to him what is going on and give him the delivery guy's number.

An hour later I get this photo sent to my phone.

My darling husband gloating that he got to lay on the new mattress first

I was exhausted at the end of the day and didn't get back home until 10pm that evening.  The entire three hour drive back to Bend all I could think about was how excited I was to crawl into that bed, and how nice it will be after such a long and on-the-go day I had.  I came home and Jason had already had the bed all made up and ready to go.  I crawled in and it was heaven, or as close to it as one can be.  It honestly felt like I was laying on a cloud.  The pillowtop was soft enough to allow me to sink in slightly, but the mattress was firm enough to support me in all the right places without any pressure points.

Our amazing new mattress set

Needless to say, I've slept amazingly well these last seven months and can't think of a better way to have spent that money.  No regrets.  In fact, I highly believe after this experience that a mattress is something that should not be skimped on.  There are ways to get a good deal on a quality mattress, as we did, but saving yourself $400-600 for a 'budget' mattress should be avoided.  Save those mattresses for the rarely used guest bed.  I promise that you will never regret spending that extra money on the purchase of a quality mattress.  If you think about it, you truely spend about a third of your life in your bed, and having a good, supportive mattress will help you get quality sleep and eliminate many aches and pains.  I convinced a coworker of this after I got my mattress and hearing that he was waking up every hour or so every evening because his mattress was so uncomfortable.  He saved up his money and last I heard, it was money well spent.  Trust me people!  I've never felt more rested, even when my hectic life causes me to only squeeze in six hours of sleep a night.  My only regret...that we didn't get the new mattress sooner, and Jason agrees.  My master bedroom is finally complete!

Our amazing new Master Bedroom
The other side of our new bedroom

Even doggie got a sweet new bed

Saturday, April 24, 2010


When I started this blog, it was intended to be an outlet for me and a way for me to continue to improve on my writing skills.  It was in no way supposed to be a daily brain dump of mindless jabber, but an occasional opinion on a subject, or a snapshot of something happening in my life.  With that said, far too much time has elapsed since my last post and I apologize for that, mostly to myself since I doubt anyone has been waiting with bated breath for the next post.  It's not that there haven't been things to write about, but quite the opposite actually.  My life lately has been completely overloaded with activities, work, and my new attempts to get myself in shape.

I found myself with a few free minutes this morning (actually, I'm avoiding washing out a pan that is sitting in my sink from breakfast) and thought that I would write a brief update on what's to come!  In addition to my fitness and nutrition changes in my life (which I'm sure there will be numerous posts on this subject, and maybe even some progress photos), my husband and I have made a big purchase which has affected our lives quite positively, which I would like to share with everyone.  I'm also just about a month away from becoming an Aunt, and I have photos and information to share regarding my sister's nursery and the baby shower I threw her.  There is also something that I've committed myself to that I am trying, in what free time I can find, to train for.  I've also met a new friend (this sounds so juvenile, but is really exciting for me) who just moved to the area and enjoys many of the same things I do.  I'm really looking forward to our adventures this summer.  Finally, I turn 30 this June.  Of course this shouldn't be a big deal, but I can't help but dread it on some levels.  My 20's have been good to me thus far, so I'm having a hard time letting go (only two more months left!).  You can expect a blog or two on this subject and how I'm coping.  :)

So that's a small preview of what is to come.  I'm sure there are things I'm forgetting, and other things that will come up along the way, but at the very least, there are these handful of events that will be written about in the near (hopefully I'll have time to start a 'real' blog tomorrow) future.

Till then, Ciao!

Saturday, January 16, 2010


Having grown up in Southern California, I experienced my fair share of earthquakes, and they have all left their impact on my life.

The first earthquake I recall experiencing, I had to be somewhere between 3 and 5 years old. I can remember awaking to an eerie sound as my mother pulled me from my bed by the arm. I had no idea what was happening, but I clearly remember her looking very frightened, and she was moving at what seemed to be the speed of light. I don't recall my feet ever hitting the floor from the moment she grabbed me, and continued on into my sister's bedroom. She snatched my sister up and out of the crib, and then stood there for a moment, trying to decide what to do next. The earth stopped moving just seconds after we reached my sister's room. It was over as quickly as it had begun. That was the night that I learned how angry and unpredictable this world of ours can be.

That night taught me what to expect from an earthquake, and subsequent years of earthquake safety lessons taught me how best to survive. They teach you at a young age that you need to get under something sturdy to protect you from items falling around you. I learned that you don't want to go running through the house, and out the door, you just want to get somewhere where you will be protected. I learned that doorways, with all the extra framing around them, are one of the safer places you could be if the building you're in starts crumbling around you. These lessons became engrained in me, to the point where I acted on instinct before I really even comprehended what was happening. I learned that the eerie sound I heard that first night always precedes the shaking by a couple seconds. Yes, you can hear an earthquake coming just moments before it hits. I learned to fear that sound, to the point where it would wake me from a dead sleep and I would be in my bedroom door before the shaking began, and before my mom could even open her bedroom door. The angry, unpredictable world had me well trained.

I am writing this blog on nearly 16 years to date from the scariest night of my life. January 17, 1994. 4:31am. 20 seconds of terror that has been forever etched into my memory, commonly known as 'The Northridge Earthquake.' Up until Hurricane Katrina, it had been the costliest natural disaster in the U.S. It measured a notable 6.7 on the Richter scale, but it wasn't the sheer size of this quake that made it infamous, but the accelerated ground motion. Rather than the ground shaking from side to side, as typical for earthquakes in that area, it seemed to almost 'jump' straight up and down. This caused structural failures that no one was prepared for. Interstate overpasses collapsed, parking garages bent and buckled, hillsides gave way, water and gas lines exploded. Luckily, because of the early hour of the quake and the fact that it was a national holiday, people were not on the roads, in the parking garages, or at their offices...they were at home in bed. This translated into very little loss of life, but billions of dollars in destruction.

Watching now, the images of the destruction in Haiti, I can barely even begin to understand what they are feeling, even having gone through an earthquake of similar magnitude. They don't have the stringent building codes to withstand the forces placed upon them while the ground moved beneath them. They simply crumbled down, submitting mercilessly to the violent shaking. I remember during the Northridge Earthquake, the horrific sounds of glass breaking and everything falling around you, but that can't even hold a candle to experiencing everything coming down on you, and after what seems like an eternity of shaking, everything going quiet and the only sounds to be heard are the moans and screams of the people around you. If you are lucky enough to walk away from it all, then what do you do? No home, no food, no water, and some left without a single other living family member.

The images of the aftermath are something out of one of Hollywood's 'End of the World' disaster movies. Ruins everywhere you look, people huddled in masses with nothing but some sheets and sticks for shelter, dozens of unidentified dead bodies lining the roads. It is nothing short of a real life nightmare. There are hundreds of millions of dollars in aid being rushed to the island in the form of food, water and rescue workers being sent from all corners of our planet. It's unfortunate that it takes events of this nature to bring the various countries together, in a combined relief effort, but is refreshing to see. There is still some good left in humanity.

My question is how does this unfortunate, poverty stricken country pick themselves up, dust off, and begin again? They don't have earthquake insurance, nor do they have enough money stored away in their savings account to build again. I've heard that the silver lining to this dismal and dark rain cloud is that this creates an opportunity for Haiti to start with a clean slate. This time, they can build their structures to better withstand these angry, unexpected outbursts from our beloved planet. We shall hope and wait, with bated breath, that this unfortunate incident will lead to a better and brighter tomorrow for the people of Haiti.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


I have often thought that one must have an incredibly exciting life in order to validate having a blog. This may yet turn out to be true, but after reading a blog written by a college friend and admiring their ability to put thoughts and experiences into written word so beautifully, I could hardly pass up the chance to push myself to share the ups and downs of this thing we call life, in written form.  It has been years since I have sat down and truely written out my thoughts on any particular subject.  In fact, I can say with a high level of confidence that the last time I wrote, it was for a required assignment in college.  Being that I graduated in '07, I reckon that I haven't tapped into those creative writting brain lobes (I obviously didn't study human anatomy) for quite some time and I am therefore long overdue.

I've come to realize that the age old saying "If you don't use it, you lose it" is true in many forms.  Aside from the lack of muscle tone, which I attribute to my desk job, I've noticed myself slipping in other ways.  I started singing at a young age and became involved with muscial theatre in elementary school.  From there I joined the choir in middle school and continued on through high school.  Upon deciding to study architecture in college, I found myself with very little free time in my school schedule and outside of class.  Choir was no longer an option.  I still found myself singing along to the radio, or whenever I was in the shower, or even when I was doing laundry at 3am at the sorority (much to the housemother's dismay, as her bedroom was one floor above the laundry room).  The difference between singing along to the radio and singing in a choir was the range in which I sang.  I was a first soprano, which means I sang the glass shattering high notes.  Notes you don't often hear on the radio, which meant I rarely sang them outside of choir.  Now, I only hope there is enough insulation in the walls of my home to keep my neighbors from hearing me screach my way up the scales with my piano.  My cats usually run and hide, or cry at me, pleading with me to stop.  Lucky for our dog that her hearing is going, as it is truely that painful to hear. 

I'm shocked at how much of my vocal range I lost over the years.  And while it may be too late for me to ever join the Opera, I still have time to save my writting skills before I turn into a babbling fool...I hope.  With this, I apologize to anyone reading my first post, and I hope that in time my posts will improve as I exercise my brain muscles (just as the rest of me will hopefully improve as I exercise the rest of my muscles).  So, here's to 2010 and a complete body make-over!  Cheers!