Sunday, December 30, 2007

Another Year Gone

Another one afoot.

I am very pleased to report that mom got to go home on Christmas Eve. On Christmas day, hubby and children and I joined my sister, one of our brothers, and their respective families at mom's house to fill it with love and laughter. Mom was very tired but thoroughly enjoyed being home with us all. A more blessed Christmas I've never had--I felt the glory of the holiday spirit alive in the gathering of close loved ones.

I am loving my new job. Of course, there are some things that are annoying, but my supervisors are supportive and generally happy, my office finally has some light (!) and I am continuously given challenges and opportunities to exercise my knowledge and skills. I've only been there for about six weeks but I feel that I am in the right place.

My son is doing well. He earned 90 out of 100 points last week in his program and achieved the next "phase." He is now allowed four hour passes and every time he gets to another level means that he will be home sooner!

Midwifery continues to be on my brain. As I read posts from my one-time classmates (Niki, Louisa, and Tiffany), I realize what I gave up almost a year ago. I will one day go back to school and become a midwife but it seems further and further away. At this point I have decided to wait until my youngest child is a freshman in high school. If the time seems right I will pursue my education sooner, but if I stay on my current path, I will return to school in 2013. I will be 39 years old and my eldest son will be 22. At that point I will have to begin the program all over again. I'm OK with it. Five years will vanish in no time.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Mommy, Football, Holidaze

OK, I admit it, I'm a HUGE football fan. Specifically, I'm a Seahawks fan. For our holiday gift this year, hubby and I went to see a Seahawks game two weeks ago. We watched them cream Arizona from 16 rows off the sideline, right behind the Seahawks defensive bench. I was soooo thrilled. Here is a pic of hubby and me in the stands. Excited? Yeah, I think we were!

Here is a shot of some of my favorite players. Specifically, here is a shot if my absolute 'Hawk,' Nate Burleson, number 81, my baby, the one hubby needs to be afraid of! Hahahahaa, just kidding.

We got into a wreck on the freeway on our way to the game. It was minor and no one was hurt, but our Subie has a nice-sized ding in the rear. Damn ice. Always collects on the bridges first...

My mom is still in the hospital and likely won't be out by Christmas Day. She had to have a second surgery, this time to remove a small portion of her small intestine because some scar tissue was adhering to itself. We were all pretty worried there for a couple of days but she is bouncing back and healing well. I have a small hope that we'll be able to give her the awesome gift of taking her home on Christmas.

I've been thinking a lot about moms who don't get to spend this holiday season with their children. My sister's son is on his way to battle in Iraq, along with so many other moms' kids. Another mom I know is in the hospital because she had a brain aneurysm. She was approximately 33 weeks pregnant when she underwent brain surgery and gave birth to her daughter via cesearean section a few days later. She has not been able to spend time with her new baby and has not seen her 8 year old son since being flown to the hospital in the beginning of all of this. If you'd like to visit her husband's hospital blog, please go here. Both mom and daughter are doing well and I wish them well.

So many other moms lost their babies this year to many different circumstances and my heart is with them.

I'm hoping that all of you who celebrate this time of year are being safe. Many blessings of light and laughter to everyone in the New Year and always.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007


If you haven't taken the opportunity as of yet to visit my friend Iris, please do. She is an inspiration. Seeing her, talking to her, reading her blog always reminds me that there is beauty in the world. I've had the distinct pleasure of knowing her in a few different ways--when I first met her, she was the new girlfriend of a long-time good friend of mine; then she became a friend; then she became my partner in the low end, playing killer drum grooves to my weird bass lines.
But, I think we really connected throughout her pregnancy. I was so excited when she told me she was going to have a baby--then she asked me to be there and I about hit the floor!
Thank you, Iris, for being my friend and bestowing upon me the honor of knowing you the way I do.
I love you.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

New House, New Job, etcetera, etcetera...

A complete, up-to-the-minute update would take me a couple of days to write and would take you way too long to read. As a compromise, I will give a brief update of a lot of the goings on here in Casa de los Guzstiltsmans.

Here are a few before and after photos of our new house. We officially moved in last weekend and have been wading through the aftermath ever since.

Here is the dining room before we moved in:

And here it is now:

The living room with a couple of our belongings in it:

The living room now:

And this is where I've been hanging out every night:

Yes, it looks like a moving truck vomited everywhere in the house, but at least we're here and the walkways are opening up.

Zack is finally in treatment. It's been five or more weeks since this process began and he's been up and down with the idea. He doesn't think he needs treatment but I keep trying to explain to him that it's not just drug rehab--it's also behavior modification. It's learning new ways to deal with stress and learning how to prioritize his responsibilities and desires. He doesn't see that skipping school to get stoned with his friends is a problem--he doesn't think education is a big deal. I told him to try telling that to some kids on other countries who would give anything to be able to go to school, but can't.

He doesn't listen.

I have to stop expecting him to.

But it's official...he lives with us. He has his own room and everything! My first born child is back in my arms...sort of.

My mom is having surgery today. Her body seems to be organizing a mutiny and each little faction is waiting for their uprising.

Last week she had surgery to repair her arm. Recall this post in which I described her car accident. I took her to the surgery center to have the pins put in her arm on Monday and spent the night with her. I came home Tuesday for a job interview and to get my family so we could go back down to Seattle to give mom and her partner (Chuck) a Thanksgiving feast. I received a call from Chuck early Wednesday morning saying that mom had been readmitted to the hospital late Tuesday night because of pain ostensibly stemming from inflammation of small pouches on her colon known as diverticula. She had been through it before and recognized the signs.

Upon arrival at the emergency room, with mom writhing and screaming in pain, they were treated poorly by a nurse who decided that mom was "faking it." This nurse even had the audacity to comment that mom started "really playing it up" when Chuck re-entered the room after ducking out to have a smoke. Mom was denied pain meds and treated like a prescription pill addict.

Finally, a doctor ordered a CT scan and confirmed that mom was having an episode of diverticulitis. Nurse Ratchet then understood that mom is not a raving lunatic and gave her a healthy dose of dilaudid and admitted for inpatient services. The doctor was very close to operating right away and removing her entire colon. However, he decided to be prudent about surgery, and opted instead to boost her up on anti-biotics to eliminate the infection and reduce inflammation. The next course of action would be a colonoscopy to make sure that the rest of her colon is healthy and then remove her sigmoid colon. The sigmoid colon is the lowest part of the large intestine, extending from the distal end of the descending colon to the rectum. It gets its name from the "S" shape it makes as it winds toward the exit. Mom had her colonoscopy yesterday and everything looked great. I just received a call a moment ago from Chuck that mom is heading into surgery right now. It's 12:30 in the afternoon. Please be thinking of her.

Last but not least, I received a phone call on Monday this week from the company I interviewed with last Tuesday and they offered me the job! I am now an administrative assistant for a company that assists developmentally disabled adults find jobs and housing and teaches them skills for managing their lives. It pays well and had medical benefits as well as paid sick and vacation time. I start Monday. I am so excited!

So there you have it. A (not-so) brief update. Hope you've enjoyed it.

I love you, mommy.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Fall Photoblog

I thought I'd share some photos from our fall so far. Enjoy!

Jeremyah had so much fun playing football this year. It was his first season. They only won one game but I don't think I saw any of the kids getting upset over not winning. They just had a great time, which I think is wonderful!

Here are Meadow, Jaden, and James (Hubby) walking to the field for one of Jeremyah's games.

Jeremyah is the one in the camo shorts running toward the kid with the ball. Click on the pic to enlarge it.

My smiley boy

Almost the whole team on the big day that they won! Jeremyah is the kid kneeling with his arms in the air.

This kid is a fast runner!

This is the Japanese Maple outside our door that I'm going to miss so much when we move. It is so beautiful in the summer and fall when it becomes vibrantly green and then changes to blood red.

This is Ruby sitting on the front walk. I love the contrast in color between the fallen maple leaves and Ruby.

Here is Jaden, Meadow, Denali, and Jeremyah getting pumpkins after Jeremyah's last football game.

I hope everyone's fall is going well. This upcoming holiday season is a difficult one for some. I am wishing you all warmth and love during the holidaze. Please be smart--don't drink and drive, remember to hug the ones you love and shower love on those who are less fortunate.

"...I wish you shelter from the storm, a cozy fire to keep you warm; most of all, when snowflakes fall, I wish you love." -Frank Sinatra

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

9-10 Centimeters and Progressing

Sometimes transition takes so long but sometimes you get a break right before or in the middle of it.

I think I'm in the middle of the break.

I think if I posted more often then I wouldn't be writing these long, involved posts.

The treatment center I took my son to did not keep him. During the orientation they decided that he has increased levels of certain traits that aren't conducive to their program and that he needs a more intensive program.

The night before we left the treatment center my mom got into a car accident. She is okay but she is pretty badly hurt with a broken right arm (quite impressive, really--compound fractures of both the radius and the ulna); bruised sternum, clavicle and ribs (from the seatbelt); and contusions to the entire left side of her head. I don't know that I've ever seen a shiner like hers, and the whole side of her head is swollen. Her major concern is how ugly she thinks she looks but I told her that the vision of her standing there (standing!) talking to me following a wreck like that is the most beautiful thing I've ever seen, and I really mean that mom--I don't know what I'd do if you were hurt worse, or even worse. Her car is totalled; her body is healing. Mom's boyfriend received a bruised spleen (not ruptured) and some muscle straining from dragging my screaming mommy out of the wreckage through the passenger side door because the driver's side door was crunched in and unable to open. His body is also healing and I'm so thankful that he was there with her. He really shouldn't have pulled her out of the car because she could have had serious back or neck injuries, but thankfully she didn't. She also commented that she felt like she would have had a heart attack if he hadn't pulled her out because she was in a complete panic and feeling the most claustrophobic she's ever felt (which is saying a lot).

So Zack and I went to mom's for a few days after leaving the center to take care of mom and her boyfriend. However, after five days being gone from my hubby and younger children, I was itching to get home. So we headed out and got home on halloween in time to go trick-or-treating.

We went to a neighborhood that we go to regularly for Hallows Eve festivities. The people who live there get very into the spirit of things and decorate heavily as well as role-play!

Here is our dressed-up group for this year:
(R-L) Melanie, not sure; Jaden, Batman; Meadow, superstar; Caleb, Ninja; Michael, punk rock skeletor (my own title); Denali, poor wizard student; Zack, not sure; Jeremyah, scary; Josiah, Grim Reaper.

My three monsters: Meadow, Zack, Jeremyah.

It's a JJ Batman!

In the days following, I had a pretty major emotional breakdown. I haven't had a period since the end of July and I can just feel the hormones building up in my body, almost, it seems, to toxicity. Add this to the intense stress I've been feeling regarding my significant change in circumstances and there is a recipe for disaster. Luckily, I have a very supportive group of friends and they held my hand through it. I'm now coming out the other side relatively intact.

Since Hubby and I have decided to take Zack on, my employment endeavors have shifted. I need to find a full-time regular job so I will not be able to do the birth assisting gig. I am hoping to still be able to do doula work occasionally but it will be very limited.

The main reason I have to find full-time employment is that we have to move. We had to find a house with enough space to fit all of us comfortably (i.e. Zack not sleeping on the couch, etc.). We found a beautiful house at the very top of our price range and have signed a lease. Things will be tight for a while until I begin working but I am so excited about our new house. Here are some photos.

The entryway:

The living room

The dining room

The kitchen

I look around and am in disbelief that we will be living in this house. It's simply amazing. There are four bedrooms with two and a half bathrooms plus a two-car garage. The "master" bathroom has a giant jetted tub, which is the cat's meow for me. I love taking baths but am too big to fit in a standard sized tub.
It almost feels sinful to live in a house like this. Sometimes I think we should just all cram into a shack and use the extra money to feed hungry kids. The truth is, we'll be able to feed hungry kids as well as pay our bills. And also to settle some old debts.
So there you have it.

Friday, October 26, 2007


Tomorrow afternoon, following my youngest son's flag football game and end-of-season pizza party, I will embark on a 4 hour journey with my eldest son to take him to inpatient drug and alcohol treatment. This is a journey I took with my father almost exactly 16 years ago. A journey that I thought would end with my son in my arms. Maybe I've already told that story.

I am ecstatic to report that my son is not a father (wow, that sounded like Maury Povich), and I am not a grandmother (whew!) so I don't think as much hangs in the balance with this situation. However, my husband has made it painfully clear that he cannot live with us if he continues to blow every responsibility off in order to get stoned. I understand his reasoning and I agree with him.

Wish me luck for tomorrow and the following two-day orientation. I'll be home Monday night.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Breast Rash

If you want to read a most rediculous urban legend that has been circulating via e-mail since 2003, go here. The picture is so blatanly photoshopped and I love the use of the terms, "more certified doctor," and "milk canals."

Friday, October 19, 2007


My oh my how quickly things change around here. We are now going through a brand new transition. Some day I'll get to push the proverbial baby out.

My son is coming to live with us. He has set fire to most of his bridges and, although few are completely burned down, he is left with few options for where to go until he turns 18. Advice solicited!

About a month ago, my aunt and uncle decided they couldn't handle him anymore and began the process to relinquish their guardianship to the State. They've not been allowed to do that thus far but they've made it clear that they don't want him back in their house and he doesn't want to be there anyway.

Enter the social worker. She is an awesome woman who makes it clear that she is working for Zack's best interest but also sympathizes with us (aunt, uncle, hubby and me) about the difficulty of the situation. She called me when aunt and uncle first contacted the State about relinquishing and asked for my opinion of the situation, which I gave unflinchingly, and asked if we were an option for Zack's placement.

Until this past Wednesday hubby was vehemently against having Zack come here to live. Not because he doesn't care about the kid--because of the financial, emotional, and sanity draining nature of caring full time for a kid with as many problems as my number one son. However, after lengthy discussion with the social worker, we both agreed that we could do it. Not without many troubles and a lot of stress, but we can do it nonetheless. I forgot to include the LOVE part. Zack has a lot of love to give and he's fiercely loyal when you gain his trust and respect.

I am incredibly nervous going into this endeavor. I cried a little yesterday and I'm sure I will have many more days of stress and tears, but this life is coming full circle. He was with me at the beginning of his life and now he'll be with me at the end of his dependent life. It is my sincere hope that he will grow wings while he is here.

And soar when he leaves.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

This and That

I'm having a lot of feelings today and I need to get them out.

First, something funny.

My dog, Ruby.

For a long time she's had this habit of stealing stuffed animals from various places around the house and cuddling with them. She doesn't chew them up, she doesn't pee on them--she just moves them and licks them or cuddles them. Usually she does this when she's home alone.

So I've had this cute little scrubby bath-tub pig friend for a couple of years. I bought it to give to a friend who got married in October of 2005 because they love pigs. They call them "pink pork" because of a family member from Cuba who didn't know the word "pig" for a long time. I never got around to sending it because I'm a procrastinator and life always seems to get in the way.

A few weeks ago I noticed that Ruby had discovered Pink Pork in his hiding place and moved him onto my bed. I didn't scold Ruby because she's not doing anything bad and really it's pretty cute. So, I moved Pink Pork onto my dresser, which I thought was high enough that Ruby couldn't get to him, and I thought I would still send it or at least give it to another friend. Then I left for a while and came home to discover Pink Pork on the living room floor. I thought it was strange and put him back on my dresser. The next time I noticed Pink Pork in a place other than where I was sure I left him, I assumed my kids had gotten to him and were playing with him. I asked them both and they hadn't been playing with him so I wondered if I just thought I had put Pink Pork on the dresser.

So today I conducted a test. Before I left this morning to go have coffee with my dad, I made sure Pink Pork was on the dresser. Hubby had already left for work and kidlets were on the bus to school. When I came home about two hours later, Pink Pork was no longer on the dresser. He was on my bed, happy as a, well, pig! Obviously Ruby is enamoured with Pink Pork. The thing is, how did she manage to get him off of my dresser without knocking over any of the various things made of glass that are in front of the place where I put little Porky? I wish I had one of those video baby monitors so I could see how she does it.

I gave Pink Pork to Ruby. It's clear to me now that they belong together.

I think I'll save the other stuff for another post. I'm still working on slowing my brain down to pluck out a few thoughts.

Hasta luego, que les vayan bien.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Welcome Hank!

On Tuesday, September 25 I received the phone call that I'd been waiting for. Iris was in labor and they wanted me to come. I've posted a few photos here, with permission from Iris and Solly, of her long and beautiful labor and, of course, their beautiful son, Henry "Hank" Orrin Perry. I won't go into details about the birth as it is their story to tell, but please enjoy the photos.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Summer Vacation Photo Essay

Finally I am posting pics from our two-part vacation at the end of August/beginning of September!

We bought a new car this summer: a 2003 Subaru Outback--a car that I've been wanting since they first came out. The funny thing is, the other two families we went camping with have a 2000 blue Outback and a 2001 green Outback respectively. We looked like dorks but we didn't care!

Here she is on her maiden voyage!

This is Ruby's favorite way to travel.

But sometimes we make her go in the back with the kids.

Self-portrait with girl sticking her tongue out.

The first thing the kids wanted to do when we got there was go swimming. They were offered this raft to play on by some other people hanging around. Here are six-sevenths of the kids from all three of our families. R-L: Eli, Isaac, Jeremyah, Meadow, Michael, Caleb.

I'm so glad my kids learned how to swim...finally!

Despite his best efforts at dodging the camera, I caught this rare photo of Eli smiling.

Here are all seven kids at the table eating. R-L: Meadow, Isaac (you can only see his sleeves next to Meadow), Jeremyah, Josiah, Eli, Michael, Caleb.

Two of my best number one girls: Melanie and Meadow. Melanie is super-mom to Michael, Josiah, and Caleb.

This is Odin proving his skills. Bowhunting skills, computer hacking skills, beer opening skills. Odin is Melanie's hubby.

R-L: Jeff, Kim, and Melanie. Jeff and Kim are mom and dad to Eli and Isaac. Jeff is also the owner of the company that my hubby works for. He's probably the best boss in the world.

Odin says, "Peace out homechickens!"

Hubby and Melanie. Gawd I love these two!

A beautiful photo of two beautiful women. I love these two also!

Six out of seven kids (and a mom) adopting salute stance. I think they were saluting the hawthorn bushes. And of course, my defector daughter!

This beautiful snag was along side of the twisty-turning mountain road where we went for a hike in the hazy hills. There was a forest fire about 30 miles northwest that sent smoke all over, obscuring the ridges.

Ruby the trail dog. She had so much fun running as fast as she could and then turning around to see where we were.

The Columbia River Basin with a blanket of smoke hanging over it.

Michael turned 12 this month! He's very gifted with stringed instruments. I gave him my old bass guitar for his birthday.

Moonrise on the lake.

Jeff holding our finished-off bottle of Milagro Reposado tequila. Leyenda del milagro tequila!

Firelight sparks.

My Mellie and Me.

Kim with her lovely youngest son, both such a pleasure to have on the trip. I've only just begun to get to know Kim after being acquaintences for about 9 years. What an awesome mom and WOMAN!!

Mellie and Odin. Falling in love all over again!

On our way back to the highway from the lake we saw this cliff. Over the years people have scaled its rocky face to spray paint the year on it. Click on the photo to see it enlarged so you can see the painting. I think the earliest year we saw was 1928.

This is an old building in a settler's town that we saw on our way to my mom's house. We saw the sign for a historic town and thought it might be a ghost town, but it turned out that people live there still. It's a cute town, though.

For part two of our trip, hubby and I dropped the kids off at my mom's house and headed north to an island in the Straits. Here is hubby on the foggy morning ferry.

A month or so before, hubby and Jeff did a job on the island (they're environmental scientists doing wetland delineation and water and gas monitoring among other things) and stayed in an apartment on the piece of property they were working on. The Jeff made a deal with the owner, giving hubby and him the opportunity to bring wives to the island for a getaway, with the apartment being the accomodations. This is a big deal because accomodations on the island are sparse and expensive. It's a two bedroom, fully furnished apartment about a seven minute casual walk to the "downtown" area of the biggest town on the island.

Here's one of the bedrooms complete with a king sized bed which Ruby could sleep on with us!

A chair for Ruby.

The livingroom.

The dining area and kitchen behind it.

Cascade Lake.

A pretty pond.

Hubby, Ruby and I at the top of the highest point on the island. If you look closely you can see my hometown to the left of me across the water.

A big, beautiful cedar on the trail we hiked.

Light through stone window.

The tower at the top of the mountain.

Queen Anne's Lace. I never knew that when it goes to seed, the flowers form these little cups that look like hummingbird nests. Nature is so cool.

Lake reflection.

This was the view from our breakfast table the morning we left.

The ferry ride home.

Mountains upon the straits. These mountains have been my home since I was born. They give me comfort.

Sunset on the pond.

Thanks for scrolling through all of these pics. It was an awesome vacation. Much love to all of my all made it such a pleasure!