Sunday, November 30, 2008

a little more of a good thing....

So much to be thankful for.
Mt. Rainier at sunrise.... I feel home rush through my body when I catch a glimpse of her beauty.

I'm so thankful for babies who love to dance. This would be my nephew Mathew. He's got rhythm!
How can you not be thankful for a great 'Incredible Hulk' impersonation. As promised in a previous post- Will as the Hulkster-
Whip cream is also a wonderful creation. Nothing like filling your mouth with spray whip cream after eating a huge turkey dinner! 
Had to post this photo of two of my favorite ladies: Mom and My Baby.  We had a great day at Alki on Friday. Walked the boardwalk and had dinner at a killer Irish Pub.  Thanks for the great weekend Mom!
It is difficult to verbalize how lucky I feel to have such a wonderful and loving family. Next to my health, they share the top spot what I am most thankful for. 

A few other things worth mentioning...... cute hats, flow bindings, good conversation, sonicare toothbrushes, books, free online tv episodes, pets, laughter, anything home-made with love, Febreeze, canon xti, Nordstrom's Rack shoe shopping, old people, international travel, my sister's massages, gravy, music, oh geez.... i could go on and on... too sleepy to continue....

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving Day

I am full. I'm tired and I forgot my photo cable, so I plan to keep this post short and sweet. 

Today we had Thanksgiving dinner at my brother's house, which I have been looking forward to for at least a month. My sister-in-law Angie prepared what I believe was a perfect meal! Mom's pies were to die for and the company couldn't have been better. I can't get enough of my nephews and my niece. I asked them to share what they were thankful for and what they wanted Santa to bring them in a short video clip. 

Mathew will be turning 1 next week, so he wasn't able to articulate exactly what he was hoping for, but I had to share this since he is so darn cute! 
Megan is a funny one--
I have watched this little clip about 37 times already. Just tugs on my heart strings. 

We talked, watched the Hawks loose, played Wii golf, ate appetizers, played football outside, ate dinner, played more football outside, then had some great pie. After most of the guests left, that was when the video fun began. This photobooth stuff is very entertaining. These photos are also worth a look:
I bet my brother will be thrilled about this pic!
'the crew'
Sometimes I wonder why I live so far away from these kiddos? Love'em all!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Giving thanks to my Pumpkin

It is that time of year again. The time when we all are forced to catch our breath and give thanks for all our blessings. 

This blog will be devoted to giving thanks for my dog, Baby.

I am so thankful for my little pumpkin that I'm doing a bit of a tribute.... not when my pup has left the earth, but while her sweet soul is here for kisses. Lately, I have been so worried about money, job, career, blah blah blah, that I haven't been giving Baby the attention she deserves. Regretfully, she has put on a few pounds and for her body, that is a few pounds too many. In order to combat re-occurring back inflammation issues, I have been walking Baby 5 days a week, 3-6 miles a day. I might also be hoping to benefit from these walks(my hip joints are not so happy these days). I also invested in some oldie/weight loss food for the Baby, hoping this will contribute to a healthy existence. Every time she exhibits anything out of the ordinary, I panic. I know.... this isn't healthy, but Baby's love has been solid and well... I just want her to be around forever, so I will do everything in my power to keep her here.

So here is my mini(actually pretty extensive) photo tribute to my Pumpkin. I know it is extreme and I may seem a bit obsessed, but truthfully it was too hard to narrow my picture choices. She is just too photogenic.

This pic was taken about 10 minutes after I met Baby for the first time. I found her posting on and the instant I saw her thumbnail shot, I knew I had to have her. She was living in South Carolina at the time and her rescue group refused to adopt her out of the area. I was devastated. I repeatedly emailed her foster Mom, hoping she might have good news. Finally after about 6 months of email contact, they considered my application. No one was interested in adopting here because at the time her timid and fearful personality was unattractive to all who saw her. She was terribly abused and she didn't want anything to do with strangers and especially men. I didn't care. I would love her back to a safe place.  At the time, I was about to move back West after spending nearly 3 years in Delaware. I planned a beach vacation around the adoption. Just a quick 14 hour drive from Delaware and I had my Pup. She was so shy, but seemed hopeful about our bond.... from the very beginning....

The rest of these pics are not in chronological order. Just a collection of some of my favorites. 

Baby is definitely a beach dog.
This was our first experience swimming together. I know. the life vest is ridiculous. I couldn't bear the thought of her sinking to the bottom, so we had to use it just in case!
Baby also kept me company while I was writing my Master's thesis. Here she was, just 3 years old hanging out illegally in my dorm at the time. She was so skinny!
This was Baby's first experience with volunteer work. I took her to the Senior Center I volunteered at in Delaware. 
I had to include a picture of her and Magic. They were two peas in a pod. Best friends forever. Sadly, the two had to be separated when we moved back West, but Baby still responds to Magic's name.
Baby posing for the camera... or just licking her lips.
This is what Baby looks like when she is turkey hunting. Very happy dog!
Being a big Sister isn't easy. Especially when your Mom leashes you to each other and the cat is stronger :-)
Baby looking very sophisticated on the University of Delaware campus.
Waiting patiently for the Crawdads.
My Grandpa Mel loved Baby. Baby also brought love to dozens of hospice patients while I was working in the nursing home. These days she makes regular visits to my dementia program. Something about her old soul is very calming to older adults in distress. Natural therapy dog I guess??
She loves to hit the Mt. too!She even makes the parking lot look good....
Fishing with Mom...Baby the snow cap explorer. She was a trooper on our Dublin Lake trip. We hiked over 20 miles that weekend. She is also a great sleeping bag heater on those chilly spring nights.This trip, it was her and myself, relaxing, reading, fishing, etc. 
Nature dog on yet another backpacking trip.

Baby also waits patiently for her mom when she is surfing on the Oregon coast. She has a little pop-up tent for shelter and protection.
Life on the tracks is rough. Doesn't she look tough?
I love this pic. She was only 3. Now she is almost 10! I'm so thankful for the last 7 years and hope for as many more as I can get. 
She is my co-pilot. Thanks Pumpkin!

Monday, November 24, 2008

edit change;Four out of the last five.....

Can it be? The Cougs have won the Apple Cup for the past four years? Edit Change: The cougs have won the last four out of five apple cups. They lost in 2006. My bad!!!

I watched the game with friends this past Saturday and all I can say is that our sh!#$* stunk less! Yay for the Cougs and their ability to kick field goals!!! 

I tried not to have any expectations at the game, in fact I knew I would be VERY excited if we scored a touchdown. When we finally did, I captured it with a picture! These things haven't happened much this season!
Temojai and Brian came for moral support. Brian's attention was also on the Cal game. Jamie and his kiddos....
Karen and I being cheesy- We went to high school together, college and now we both live in Portland. She also lives in a pretty cute house in the Sellwood neighborhood-
Hello? Had to have a picture of Eva's berets! How do you spell beret anyways?

Long story short, the last quarter was nail biting! I was so proud to be a Coug as they persistently tried with each unsuccessful completion to work their way down the field. Their minimal success finally added up and they were able to make some key plays towards the end of the game, which put them in overtime TWICE! So glad I stuck around for the ending. 

Both teams suck, but now I can officially say the Cougs suck less..... for a whole year!

Early Thanksgiving with friends

And so it begins... the first large meal of the holiday season. 

This past weekend we had a potluck style early Thanksgiving Dinner. Thomas and Tyler hosted, providing a perfectly cooked turkey, and the rest of us brought the fixins! My contribution was a pear/cranberry/Gorgonzola/walnut salad. As always, getting together with this group guarantees laughter and great conversation. It has been a little over a year since I met this crew and it was funny to sit around and reminisce about our adventures over the past year.

The Two Heathers
Heather S. with Thomas making her family's secret recipe gravy-I couldn't resist this shot, especially since if you look closely in the background you can see Heather positioning herself to take a bite out of my candied Yams. These little nuances kept me laughing through our entire Peru trip. 
New Buds- Adam and Jamie
Madness in the kitchen as everyone was scurrying to dish up their plate.

It was extremely uncharacteristic of me to play with my food(because I usually eat it all!), but for some unknown reason I decided to make art out of my yams. I was going for a Zen feel I think. I had a long day of drinking and eating (GO COUGS) and was pretty exhausted late Saturday evening. I was a bit embarrassed, but Tyler insisted that I photograph my work and looking back, why not share it?
I'm still full from that dinner and it was over a day ago. This is going to be a great Thanksgiving and I can't wait to do the real thing with my family. Thanks Friends for the wonderful meal!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

$100 dollar night!

Yep. I just made one hundred buckaroos. I saw an ad for a focus group on craigslist jobs and gave them a call. They recorded my demographic information and gave me a call.  There was a group of 12 of us and we were chosen because we supposedly represented a typical Portland jury. I'm sad to say that I thought Portland was more ethnically diverse!

I took an oath not to discuss the case details because it will be in the courts in about 2 years. Listening to the arguments was fascinating. I wouldn't want to be a part of a real jury because it was exhausting. After 4 hours and minimal details I was ready to take a break. 

The guy who ran the focus group was brilliant. I never have been a big 'law' person, but after tonight and witnessing the facilitator's persuasive skills, I have a new respect for the J.D.!!

Thanks focus group for funding nearly a fourth of my Mt. Hood Season Pass!!! And after this evening's discussions 
I am absolutely thankful for my health. 

Sunday, November 16, 2008

a pretty darn good day...

I have had several wonderful mornings over the past two weeks. Why? Because I have been indulging in my seasonal peppermint mocha coffee creamer. I literally sigh out loud to myself after I take my first big sip. 

After messing around on my computer all morning... (feeling less and less left handed every day) I got a call from my friend Rebeca who wanted to know if she left her cell phone in my car. Last night we had ladies bowling night and I picked up Rebeca beforehand. I don't want to make any assumptions, but I think it is safe to say that she was having one of those days, the one where things easily go wrong and really the universe is in control. So when she called this morning and said that her phone was MIA, I felt terrible for her. I decided to check the parking garage where we had parked the night before and to my surprise, Rebeca's phone was there! Waiting for me to pick it up! This may not sound like a big deal, but I felt this small victory in some way soothed the pain of losing so many personal items last weekend in Seattle. I dropped the phone off at Rebeca's and then met Bree and Steph at the french bakery.

Bree and Steph were driving through Portland after enjoying their week long honeymoon at Cannon Beach. We shared pictures and they shared stories from their wonderfully relaxing week. After a couple hours, they got back on the road and headed back to reality. 

After seeing them off, I met Erica at the Leif Erickson trail. We walked 3 miles up and 3 miles back down. The trail actually ends after 11 miles allowing mountain bikers and extreme runners an opportunity to travel 22 miles. It was very dog friendly and the incline was gradual, allowing us to gab.... the whole way. Erica and I found ourselves inspired by the level of athleticism we witnessed on the trail. Makes me want to run right now! well maybe tomorrow.

After our hike, we planned to make a yummy dinner. Erica made a fabulous salad with cucumber and avocado. I made spinach and egg fettuccine with an asparagus puree. The dish was actually very tasty and I wonder what it would have been like if I had added the toasted pine nuts to the puree? I almost burnt down my apartment because I forgot I was toasting the nuts..... I can't believe how fast my studio apartment filled up with smoke! Yeah- the smoke detector went off and I was freaking out for about 17 seconds. I managed to clear the smoke out and calm my dog down before taking my noodle creation to Erica's place.
Now I'm home. Exhausted, full and about to sleep in my burnt toast smelling apartment. What a great day!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Job Update:

I'm not here to say that I scored my dream job that pays a ton of money and has great benefits. But, I do have a few things to be grateful for. 

First, my time with LifeworksNW will be increased from 3 to 4 days a week. Currently, I manage a dementia day program that runs 5 days a week. They can only pay me to be there 3 days a week, which has been challenging because it is difficult to be a good and useful supervisor when  I am not there. So, after almost two years of requesting additional time with my program (because I hate not being as effective as I can while I'm there), they never did allow me to work more hours. 

Taking on a new task has been difficult because it feels, in part, like I'm enabling the system by taking on additional hours for something else and passively accepting my coordinator position as it is. But, I don't have much choice since it seems like everyone in Portland is trying to find work! I will also be eligible for health insurance, but will still have to pay about 100 bucks a month. At least I will be covered if I snowboard off a cliff.

I will be spending my extra day per week organizing and working on starting a substance abuse program specifically designed for older adults. This is an extremely challenging task. Older adults are more likely to live alone where they can stay in their homes, usually self medicating with alcohol or prescription medications. There are programs out there, but these services have been stunted by the stigma that surrounds elderly people and substance abuse in our society. You will often here, "well why don't you let them do what they want to?" or "They are already 80, so what is the use?". It is even common in movies to see the grandma that drinks at 11:30am and always has a glass of wine or a martini glass. What we don't see are the broken family relationships. So many older adults find meaning near the end of their lives through their family relationships, so the absence of that connection can absolutely influence quality of life.

My personal experience with older adult substance abuse occurred while I was living in Corvallis, Oregon about 2 years ago. As a part-time social worker(I was also in grad school), I was the only person interested in helping one of the residents in the community I was working in. I worked closely with this lady to help her acknowledge her situation and the endless cycle that her daily drinking and prescription med use would have on her dwindling family relationships. Her only son refused to communicate with her because of the countless times she had lied to him over the years. She first started using in the 60's when the Dr. prescribed her Valium for her 'busy thoughts'. She has been hooked ever since. Most of us have one primary physician. This lady had countless PCP's(primary care physicians) because she would make rounds(not telling the MD's) to ensure that she would always have enough pain killers to use regularly. When I started working with her, she had a pain patch on 24/7. Her health issues were very minimal and she always had that 'glazed' look in her eyes. I decided to approach the topic with her. It took several months and talking about someone else I knew who had been through the same process. Once she admitted her dependence, we worked with the Dr. to taper several of her meds. We also found a machine that kept her meds locked up. We hired a caregiver to fill her meds weekly. I went with her to her appt.'s since her son still refused to talk to her. She was doing great and her son was starting to warm up a bit.....but she still needed A LOT of support.... from me.... since I was the only person she would talk to. I tried repeatedly to find a formal program that would give her support with this issue, but never found anything in the area. She was clean for about 7 weeks and seemed very happy. Then one day she did not come down for lunch and she wouldn't answer her door. The neighbors heard crying sounds. I keyed into her apartment and found her foaming at the mouth and convulsing on the floor. She had lied to me and had a stash of meds in her possession, which she used to try and OD with. It wore on me. I wanted her to be successful, but with only my support the future looked grim. I left that Corvallis and moved to Portland shortly after that to pursue my own personal endeavors and hoped that she would find her way. I think about her often.

I came to Lifeworks and immediately asked them what addiction services they offered specifically for older adults. There was nothing, however my boss said it was 'in the works'. Now they finally got some seed money and it is in my hands to create an outpatient program that will hopefully become sustainable. 

When I think about this, I immediately become overwhelmed. How will I get people out of their homes? What will it take to keep people from trying to OD when it gets too hard? How will I get families involved? Yikes! so much to think about and plan for. I have my work cut out for me I guess. 

First on the To-Do list:
  • research addictions programs, and any other similar programs in the country.
  • develop the program as it will be offered through lifeworks
  • create a marketing scheme; brochure, mailings, outreach meetings.
  • hopefully get at least 25 people to participate(this will be the hard part I think! It takes a lot for someone to leave the house when they leave maybe once every 2 weeks.)
  • Test the before and after results and hopefully get some data for a potential publication
  • find ways to keep this program available for people in the future
Holy COW! All in the next year! 

Oh yeah and I'm also completing 160 hours of data collection in the next 3 months with a very well known dementia researcher in the Portland area. I'm doing this for minimal pay and hoping the relationships I make will be helpful in the future. 

So, I'm pretty busy over the next 3 or 4 months. Still the biggest priority in my brain is making sure I still have at least one weekday per week to make it to Mt. Hood. I'll work weekends if I have to. A girl has to have priorities!

Happy to be busy again and hoping these things will blossom to bigger and brighter opportunities in the future!

Monday, November 10, 2008

something special

November 9th.... the day that Bree and Steph made it official. I have known Bree for nearly 10 years. We lived in the same dorm in college and worked in residence life together. She is not only a fantastic people person, but also a great friend. She met Steph about a year after I met her and she has never been the same since. These two women have the best of both worlds.... best friends and lovers in life.

They presented each other with tear-jerking vows. I shed a tear or two.
After Bree's sister pronounced them Partners In Life, we started the celebration with a great meal. My favorite was the assortment of cheeses. When do you have the opportunity to try 10 different cheeses? love it.I had my first red velvet cupcake with the most decadent cream cheese frosting. Delish!
After filling our tummies, it was time to dance. Look at the happy couple!
Picture time! Steph's dress was jaw droppingly beautiful.
My old Chum Rita- I have been lucky enough to see Rita frequently with her business trips to Portland. She is the next one to take the plunge..... in Puerto Vallarta in February! Early congrats Rita!
The last photo is of beautiful Stephanie gettin' her groove on!
Congratulations to the beautiful couple! Next on the checklist--- a baby! Good luck you two! Love you!

blue-eyed blonde boys

Prepare yourselves....this will be another post filled with pictures of my brother's beautiful boys, Will and Mathew.

This first photo is of my newest nephew Mathew. He will be one year old on December 4th. Look at those curls! This next pic pretty much illustrates what we do at Dave and Ang's house. We sit in the family room and laugh with (and sometimes at) the boys. They are hilarious! We also managed to watch the Seahawks put up a good fight.
Mr. Will is quite the actor and spent most of the afternoon impersonating The Incredible Hulk. In this pic he is just drinking juice. I'll have to capture the scary face at Thanksgiving. He is growing up so fast!! This pic shows my brother and how happy Mathew is when his Daddy is holding him. This kid loves his Daddy. Brings a tear to his Sis's eye.

I never can get enough of these cuties!