33 things for Thursday

  1. Just kidding. I can’t come up with 33 things. I just think it’s funny when I run across blog posts with titles such as “457 must haves for your minimalist kitchen!” What does that even mean? How do they come up with those random numbers? I’ll tell you how I came up with 33: Alliteration.
  2. I am writing this from my porch, looking at a partially obstructed Mount Hood. Because of clouds. It’s humid, which is weird for the Pacific Northwest. Just thought you should know that.
  3. I have seen three deer in the past week visit our yard. I haven’t seen three deer in all 16 years we’ve lived here, so I wonder what’s up. Eric is afraid they’ll find our blueberry bushes, but so far they’re oblivious. The kittens hunker down when the deer come through to see if anything sketchy is going to go down. They clearly have no plan of attack, but in their defense, neither do the deer.
  4. Lists are fun! I should do this more often.
  5. I probably won’t.
  6. I have been waiting, literally, since December to read “The Good Neighbor” by Maxwell King, a biography on Mr. Rogers, via the eLibrary on my Kindle. I watched Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood as a kid and while it wasn’t one of my favorite shows (I was more of an “Electric Company” kind of girl), I didn’t mind it, either. Anyway, the writing is so repetitive and boring that I’m having a hard time getting into it. I’m about half-way done and would have ditched by now if it wasn’t about Mr. Rogers. I feel like I owe it to ol’ Fred to keep plodding along.
  7. This is really too bad because I’ve been in a reading slump. I haven’t been in the mood for the past couple of months and haven’t had anything to read anyway. But I am ready to get back into the game, especially since this is prime reading on the deck season. Perhaps the issue is that I don’t like nonfiction as much as I like fiction. That’s on me.
  8. But! I just checked out “Call the Midwife” (also on my Kindle; I prefer it to real books) and have high hopes for its entertainment value. I’ve never seen the TV show, but then again, I’m not that into TV.
  9. We’re watching “Stranger Things III” on Netflix. Which is TV, you are correct. Eric is not letting us binge watch so we’re only on, like, episode five. I don’t know, he’s trying to teach us patience or something.
  10. The end, I guess.

On traveling

When we accept our limits, we go beyond them. — Einstein

I am a terrible traveler.

I haven’t always been. I am a homebody and I love routine and I hate surprises, but my memory tells me that I used to not mind traveling so much.

I think what happened is this: I had a kid who made traveling a nightmare (looking at you, Abs — the stories I could tell!) and my stomach issues got trickier. So now, when I think about going anywhere for an extended period of time, it makes me exceedingly anxious.

Blog Waterton

Very true, Waterton Starbucks!

The last week of June, our little family plus my mother-in-law rented a van and made for Canada. It was a trip that’s been in the works since at least the beginning of the year, as my in-laws wanted to take us somewhere for a once in a lifetime experience. We decided that what we really wanted to do was take the girls to Banff — Eric and I went in 1997, but the girls have never been any farther north than Washington State.

Maybe because this trip had been on my radar for so long, I had plenty of time to worry — and plenty of time to wrap my head around the fact that I could make or break this trip for everyone, just based on my overall outlook. Moms have power, yo.

So here’s what I did: I decided to look at it not as a Trisha, but as a traveler. Every day, I woke up and made the intention to be open to whatever adventures and experiences came our way. I was the designated recorder for the journey, which meant I also had my journal and my camera (or phone) with me at all times so I could keep track of everything from how much we spent on gas to what we were doing.

I enjoyed going to Mass in Kalispell, Mont., in a gym with the tabernacle underneath the basketball hoop. I enjoyed the hot tub at the hotel. I enjoyed Glacier National Park even though it was raining. (I’ve been there plenty of times and it was kind of fun to see it this way.)

I enjoyed staying at the Prince of Wales hotel in Waterton Lakes and tried not to be scared by the ghost stories we heard during the historical talk that evening. I enjoyed walking around the town of Waterton and taking in the views, seeing a black bear and a waterfall. I enjoyed my coffee the next morning in the hotel dining room (and my Lara Bar) as the family had breakfast and the discussions on whether or not we were haunted (Abby said definitely, Johanna said no way, Joni was disappointed her ghosts turned out to be the people walking around upstairs).

I enjoyed standing in line at the Lake Louise overflow parking area, waiting for an hour to board a school bus that would take us to the lake, then another half hour for the bus to fill before leaving. I enjoyed talking to the Scottish tourist who sat by Eric. I enjoyed our time at the lake, taking photos and laughing because all kids, regardless of country of origin, act the same.

I enjoyed the gorgeous scenery of Banff, our condo and the town. I enjoyed seeing all of the recycling and trash bins on the side of the road, as well as the wildlife overpasses that crossed the highway. I enjoyed a carriage ride around town and listening to Abby chatter about how awesome she felt about getting her first legal drink. (Drinking age in the US is 21. Not so in Canada. She was thrilled to be carded.)

I enjoyed our trip to Jasper National Park and walking on a glacier, then a skybridge. Okay, I did not enjoy the skybridge because I’m afraid of heights and walking on glass does not seem wise to me, regardless of how much steel is holding it up, but I DID IT. I enjoyed seeing admittedly scraggly mountain goats and a marmot.

I enjoyed looking for stickers to decorate my journal in gift shops and buying postcards. I enjoyed writing about the experience and having time to read and relax in the evenings. I enjoyed finding ketchup chips and the reactions of the family as they tried them. I enjoyed seeing everything in English and French and hearing all of the different languages being used around us. (I’m used to hearing a mix of English and Spanish, so it was at once familiar and jarring.)

I enjoyed the naps I took in the van, the chatter of my girls, my weighted blanket at night, and the fact that my reusable coffee cup was accepted everywhere. I enjoyed the look of Canadian currency and the general friendliness of the people we met. I enjoyed not looking at American newspapers or websites to see what craziness was going on back home.

When we got back, Eric said he was proud of me — he knows how hard this kind of thing is on my general constitution. I was proud of myself. This trip was super fun and I’m working on a scrapbook for our family and my mother-in-law so we can remember everything we did. The overall lesson I’ve taken away from this is that not being Trisha on vacation is genius and that accepting our limits means that we can go beyond them. (Thanks, Einstein.)

Ten out of ten stars, would go again.

Remembering why I write

Trisha’s Note: I was going through my drafts folder recently and found this post. I think this all happened in April, but I still mean it, so I decided to make it live.

Work has been extra stressful lately: Big deadlines, coworkers out sick and others out on vacation (a rather big deal when you’re a writing staff of three and a half), and expectations that aren’t realistic but have to be met nonetheless. It can be kind of soul crushing.

But last Wednesday — after being told an end of day deadline was really 10 a.m. and busting my ass to meet it — I met with a group of fifth graders who were taking a special writing class “so they can meet a real writer,” as the teacher put it. “Well, I’m a real writer,” she added (very true), “but you make your living as a writer.” (I’d hardly call a poverty wage “making a living,” but whatever.)

It reminded me of why I’m a writer — why I actually do enjoy my job.

The class was 10 or so girls, and they had a lot of questions about writing and what we do at the newspaper: When did I start writing? How many stories do I write each day? Where do I get my ideas? What do I like about it?

What DO I like about it? I was surprised that the answer came quickly: I like talking to people and hearing their stories. I like taking complicated issues and writing them in a way that everyone can understand. I like learning about things. I like giving people a voice.

I’ve been feeling burned out, so it was nice to realize that I do like my job. Um, perhaps deep, deep down, but like nonetheless.

The teacher was all about writing to be read, but I tend to think that writing just to write is a worthwhile endeavor. I wouldn’t have so many journals going at once if I didn’t. Most of what I write does not get read because it’s just for me. Some of what I write is meant for family only — like a book of 365 memories I’m working on for my girls about my childhood and experiences. And, of course, whatever I write for the paper (or this blog, I guess) is out there for the world.

I have concluded that, should my job ever end (always a possibility in the newspaper world), I would be okay doing something else — anything else, really, I just need to get out of the house for a bit — because the words would still be there.

I write because I like to write. The end.

Chasing a good night’s sleep

I have always been a terrible sleeper.

I can remember laying awake in my bed as a 6-year-old, listening to the sounds of the house, bored out of my mind, nowhere near sleep. (Which is why I started hiding books under my pillow.) I can remember watching my digital alarm clock’s bright red numbers creep towards the 11 p.m. mark as a teenager, worrying about having to get up for class the next morning.


Photo by Jonathan Fink on Unsplash. Also yes please to this kitten.

It’s pretty common that, when I wake up at night, I’m up for two hours before I can fall back to sleep. I can’t remember a time when that’s not been the case.

And we won’t talk about how it took Johanna THREE YEARS to finally sleep through the night when she was an infant/toddler, and how, even if I did manage to fall asleep, I would be up multiple times each night trying to soothe her. Spoiler alert: She was not easily soothed.

I was having coffee with a friend last month (two months ago? It might be time for another coffee date) and felt so much better when she said that she is at the age where sleep is a priority — how to get more and better sleep. It’s a topic that’s close to my heart, because even though my kids are way past needing me at night, I rarely sleep through.

I really, really want to sleep through the night. It’s my life goal at this point.

Of course I’ve researched the problem and tried the suggestions laid out in various articles. I’ve come to the conclusion, though, that bodies are different and that we all have our own issues and hang ups when it comes to getting a solid night’s rest.

I don’t need it particularly dark or quiet, but for whatever reason, my body doesn’t often fall into a deep sleep. I wake myself up simply by moving. Or feeling Eric move. Or because the cats are jumping up on the bed and are incapable of stealth. Once I’m up, my brain starts on a negative loop and it’s hard to settle back down.

All 400 of those words are just to say that I’ve been experimenting with a couple of different sleep tricks lately that seem to be working. (Fingers, toes, everything crossed.)

The first: A meditation / white noise app.

After looking at a few, I settled on an app called Tide. There is a subscription service you can purchase (I haven’t), but the free content is pretty damn good. The white noise aspect is what originally made me check it out — and I now fall asleep to “Muse” (“Storm” is another favorite), which turns off on its own after a set amount of time. The upside: It works. The downside: I’ve got earbuds in and even with the volume turned low, I wonder what this is doing to my hearing. Another upside: The app also contains breathing and meditation exercises that I try to do during the day, and I’ve found this greatly helps in my overall outlook. A calmer, more peaceful me during the day seems to continue into the night.

Anyway, the suggestion here is not that Tide is right for you, but that perhaps a meditation / white noise app could prove helpful in a general sort of way.

The second: I broke down and purchased a weighted blanket off of Amazon since apparently they don’t exist in the real world.

Let me tell you the downsides to a weighted blanket right up front to get that out of the way: They are HEAVY. 😉 I got a 15-pound blanket and am wondering if maybe I should have gotten the 10. It’s a workout trying to maneuver that thing and in the beginning, I’d wake myself up every time I tried to move. Also, I’m tall, so it doesn’t completely cover my body. Actually that’s not really a downside because I hate having my feet covered. (They get hot and itchy.) And it can be a little too warm to sleep under, especially now that summer is here.

I’ve had it for about a month now, though, and the positives greatly outnumber the negatives. I love this thing. I am used to the weight at this point, so it’s not waking me up when I move around. I’m noticing that I sleep more deeply and longer with the blanket — I’m not sleeping through the night, but I am falling asleep more quickly when I wake up. And for whatever reason, it seems to be cushioning me from any of Eric’s movements (my blanket is twin-size), so I’m also not waking up because of that.

I love the feeling of that weight on my body and am finding that I like to cuddle up in it after work or on the weekends. (It’s a very soothing reading blanket. Um, and I’ve got it on my lap as I type this up on Freida.) It still feels heavy to me and it can be awkward to maneuver, but I see that as an opportunity cost.

Anyway, these two combined seem to be working, and for that, I am grateful. Grateful enough to write a post about it.

Any other bad sleepers out there? What do you do to cope?

Mistaken identity

It’s the season of graduation parties, the local high school having held its commencement ceremony for students last Friday night. We were invited to a group party for four of the graduates on Saturday to celebrate the occasion.

Johanna made the cards. I wrote the words inside and grabbed envelopes while Eric wrote the checks. I had a brief flash that perhaps I should look at the invite to make sure we had the correct location … but eh, of course we did, it’s not like town is that big and places are easily confused.

We hop in the car and head down. The golf course parking lot was PACKED. We made our way to the patio and saw lots of people milling around.

Definitely a party. Whew!

I’m searching the crowd to find our friends and I’m coming up short. I’m not overly worried about it — so what if I’m not seeing any familiar faces? Four boys, one party. There will probably be lots of people I don’t know.

Except …

Um, this IS the right party, isn’t it? I whisper to Eric. He’s looking around and sees a friend of his. Are we in the right place? Eric asks, and the guy is like, oh, yeah, have a beer, have some food!

So Eric grabs a beer. I tell him I’m going to go stand in the sun … and then realize that the party decorations feature one boy and this is not a kid I even recognize.

Eric! I hiss. We’re totally at the wrong party! Look!

I point to the wall of photos featuring whoever the heck this kid is from kindergarten through now. Eric quickly puts back his unopened drink. We laugh. We head to the foyer to make a quick phone call.

I’m embarrassed to even ask this, Eric begins, but, um, when is Ben’s party?

Sunday. Huh, I guess I should have looked at that invite after all.

Eric went back to apologize for crashing (I mean, at least he knew the guy) and was encouraged to stay, but we felt bad and weird so we headed back home. Um, and made it to the correct party on Sunday.

You know I checked the invite beforehand.

The end, I guess.

Let’s hear it for small revolutions

I’ve mentioned more than a few times about how I do our grocery shopping once a week — on Saturday mornings, generally — and that, by Friday, the cupboards are pretty bare.

And sometimes even by Wednesday, as was the case last week.

I was finishing up a book when I caught wind of some grumblings in the kitchen. My family was bemoaning the fact that there was little in the house they could pack for lunch the next day. There were even some complaints over the sorry state of that night’s dinner (random crap in a tortilla. I mean, really, they could do a lot worse).

So I pointed out the obvious: That, aside from Johanna (who wasn’t complaining, that’s why she’s my favorite), everyone in our household not only has a vehicle, but a job. Which means that any one of us can go grocery shopping at any time. That waiting for me to get around to it on Saturday wasn’t necessary.

Abby and Eric just looked at me. I could see the wheels turning. It almost made me laugh.

First, they apologized. I was like, seriously, no sweat, I’m just reminding you that you have options. (Truth. I wasn’t worried; my dinner had been fine.) And Abby was all, you know what? You’re absolutely right, which kind of surprised me but also was a lovely thing to hear. Vindication! I went back to my book and Eric and Abby started making a plan.

Abby will be living off campus next school year with some friends and she keeps talking about learning to cook — so actually, maybe that helped my case. She’s been in the mood for taco soup and, as our weather went from the pleasant 80s to the rather chilly 50s in the span of a day and a half, she decided that was what was going on the menu Thursday night.

They found a recipe. They made a list. Eric went shopping after work (Abby was going to do it, but Eric ended up having more time than he expected, so he made the trip). While I lounged around, they made dinner. I had to save the day when it came to taco seasoning and home-canned tomatoes, but for the most part, everyone left me alone.

It was awesome.

They ended up with a big pot of soup. Johanna has textural issues (she refuses to eat cooked vegetables) and made herself eggs instead, and I can’t eat it, thanks to my jerk of a stomach (although I would if I could), so I had a rather lovely salad with leftover shredded chicken instead. But both Eric and Abby were happy with the meal.

Once upon a time, I’d have been ashamed that I had failed to keep the kitchen stocked. (Or the bathroom clean or the laundry washed.) I’d have taken the complaints as personal criticism. And I’m not sure if a switch flipped or if I’m finally learning my lesson, but I can see that this really isn’t a commentary on me at all. It’s a little bit being spoiled. It’s a little bit thoughtlessness — because they don’t have to think about how the fridge gets filled. And it’s also probably a bit of laziness.

I feel like a revolutionary. I feel like I’ve got a new notch on my feminist belt.

I’m kind of wondering if this will be a lasting lesson or if they’ll forget by Wednesday of this week.

Note to self: I don’t have to do it all. And it’s probably better if I don’t — for me, of course, because that means I can do more fulfilling work (or not: Reading, writing, taking a nap, playing with kittens, whatever). But also for them, particularly the girls, to learn a few basic life skills.

Also, this makes it sound like Eric is terrible. He’s not. He regularly cooks, does dishes, folds laundry and goes to The Store That Must Not Be Named to pick up toilet paper. (He doesn’t like to sit down, that’s why.) But groceries aren’t generally on his list. Um, they might be now. 😉

How to tell if the Walker Four are all under one roof

  • There are no glasses in the cupboard.
  • The food you thought would last the week actually lasts until Tuesday.
  • You try to go to sleep but end up having a slumber party until Mom gets cranky about being pushed off HER OWN BED.
  • Constant chatter.
  • Art supplies everywhere.
  • Requests for gas money.
  • More laundry.
  • We watch an extraordinary amount of The Office reruns.
  • More kids in and out of the house.
  • More schedules to coordinate.
  • General chaos.
  • I’m at my happiest.