Saturday, March 31, 2012

30. Toy & 31. Where You Relax

Today is the end of the March Photo of the Day Challenge. It was fun, but I got a little tired of it by the end, I'm not going to lie. Some of the days were more fun than others. And because of my issues with technology, I spent all my blog-brain power figuring out how to get the pictures on here instead of writing. Have no fear, I have a list of blog ideas to start April fresh tomorrow!

This is not really a toy, but one of my kids' favorite things to do when they play is to draw. This was drawn by Big Girl on March 30th. It's a drawing of recess. When you stand near the school building, first you see girls jumping rope and then behind them soccer, football or baseball and "tag". Eric, who actually knows how to draw (I draw like a 2nd grader), was impressed with the perspective. I just thought, "What a cool looking drawing!" 

This is one of my favorite places to relax, and I caught Eric, Big Girl and Pippin relaxing when I went to take the picture!! I love our comfy chair and couch, and especially the super soft white blanket!! 

Thursday, March 29, 2012

28. Trash & 29. Feet

Once again, technology conspires against me. Suddenly the Instant Upload of my pictures to my computer isn't instantly uploading anymore. I figured out how to force the upload of these two at least.

No joke, yesterday on "trash" day, Little Man got invited to help take out the garbage at the church/school where Eric is the principal. He was SO EXCITED about this, he didn't even notice I was taking his picture. Want to know what was even more awesome? THERE IS A DUMPSTER BEHIND THAT BRICK WALL! (Can you believe it?)

I was going to change my toenail polish, but decided we would take our picture without any preening. Little Man needs some toenail clipping before bed tonight! 

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

27. Your Name

OK, OK, this is not a "photo". It is a "picture". I didn't want to take a picture of something with my name on it. Like my church nametag? Instead I decided to make a picture with the meanings of my first and middle name. Since my last name means "the rooster", I decided to leave that off. Kind of ruined things.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

25. Breakfast

Some explanation is probably in order. Normally, I eat a bigger breakfast than this. Greek yogurt, toast with peanut butter, oatmeal, cereal with berries, etc. (Not all at the same time, of course) I have been dealing with a stomach thing lately, so I'm a little off. Despite the absence of an actual breakfast here, most of my breakfast staples are present: host of vitamins and supplements, glass of water, newspaper, coffee (travelling to church with me today!). I had a Cutie before church too. I know, I know, not a healthy breakfast in total. If it helps, I did eat a Thin Mint after church! 

Saturday, March 24, 2012

24. Animal

I took a few action shots, but settled on the relatively rare "mellow" version of our dog.

Friday, March 23, 2012

23. Moon

It's about 7:30pm and there is no sign of the moon. A quick check tells me that there isn't going to be a moon, or much at all, tonight. And I am tired. In lieu of taking a photo of someone's butt, this is the best I can do -- a photo of approximately where I think the moon would be, if there was a moon tonight.  'Night.

Today I Tried Something New: Planting Strawberries!

Coming to the end of the second year of our backyard landscaping adventure, I took a big step today. I planted strawberries!

I am not much of a gardener. Growing up, we lived in a townhouse where the landscaping was taken care of by the homeowner's association. Planting annuals in containers on the deck was about as garden-y as I got.
I had a small amount of success creating a corner garden in our last yard, but used plants transplanted from friends yards - friends who actually know something about gardening.

When we moved into our house here, one of the big draws for us was the backyard. We have just over a quarter of an acre, and the backyard was a blank slate. A flat, large area of grass. Eric's mom made us an awesome landscape plan that we started working on over spring break of 2010. I posted about that adventure HERE! (Even with before and after pictures and everything!)

Since that spring break -- 2 years ago now! -- we have added 2 trees, numerous (but only about 1/2 of the plan's worth) of plants and shrubs, landscaped the front yard, had the curbing work and patio extension done and had a gigantic pergola built.

The plants and trees will come with time - a few a year until we get everything in. But the part of the landscape plan I am most looking forward to, and hoping we can start this spring break, are the raised planters for gardening! I want to try to grow some vegetables, herbs and possibly fruit!   Our plan calls for 4 6X6 raised planter beds. I am hoping for 1 or 2 this spring.

And then I am stuck. Because I have never planted vegetables or done any skill-requiring gardening. Yikes! I bought bean and zucchini seeds the other day at the store. They are in their packages, waiting patiently in the kitchen for me to figure out what to do with them!!

The other day I was looking at a large black pot that Eric put out on our front porch when he did his last manic garage decluttering and clean out. Yes, he cleans by putting empty pots out on our front porch. I thought, "This needs... something!" And then strawberry plants went on sale!

I did some online research. Probably 10 whole minutes worth! And then went to the store. Got a little sidetracked and ended up buying these!!

  And, they're rubber! (or something)

I did actually also buy strawberry plants and some veggie/fruit related potting soil. I ended up picking an "everbearing" strawberry variety - see? I've already learned something because I didn't know there were everbearing, June and one other type of strawberries that I can't remember now! 

This morning I planted my strawberries. Hopefully they will live. My first decision needs to be made soon because some of the plants are flowering and I read that if I deflower them, it will take longer to get strawberries, but when the strawberries come there will be more of them. Kind of a "patience pays off" thing. Or I can leave them and cross my fingers for at least 2 strawberries to grow at some point so at least each of the kids can pick one! 

Happy spring to you! Hopefully where you live it is nicer than it is here, where we are still hanging on to gross "not quite winter" disgusting weather for the most part. And may your gardens bloom this year! =) 

Thursday, March 22, 2012

21. Delicious & 22. Kitchen Sink

Playing catch-up after being sidetracked by the photo editing involved in the "before and after" picture!

This is what I get for letting Little Man decide what he thought looked "delicious" at the store. I could quite possibly win a contest for the most disgusting looking "delicious" photo, if such a contest existed. 

My actual kitchen sink isn't very exciting, but one of the things I liked right away about our house is that from the kitchen I can see out into the backyard while the kids are playing. In our old house, our kitchen was in the center of the floorplan, so there was not an exterior window. And, yes, on March 22nd, we woke up with snow and frost on the ground!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

20. Before and After

The 20th March photo of the day was challenging because I am a techno-moron and can't figure out how to use the photo programs on my phone or computer. I'm sure there was an easier way to do this, but oh well. Sorry for the bad crop. For some reason, I could get this to save with a tiny border, but not if I cropped in to the photo. Blech!

March 2009 & March 2012

March Photo of the Day Challenge

Monday, March 19, 2012

19. Funny

The photo of the day challenge has been fun, and it is nice that it only takes a couple of minutes to do, but I wish I could find more time to actually write. I saw a few really funny things online today, but lifting a funny picture off of facebook seemed like cheating. And then Little Man and I got home for lunch and I found this very funny strawberry in our strawberry container. It was essentially 3 strawberries morphed together in to one. Little Man says he will "never, ever, ever" eat this "funny strawberry". I'm guessing when I cut it up into chunks, he isn't going to know the difference.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

18. A Corner of my Home

This is one of the less traditional corners of my home, and also one of my favorite pieces of furniture! 

Saturday, March 17, 2012

16. Sunglasses & 17. Green

I actually did take these 2 photos on their correct day, but I have been out of town and away from the computer, so I am catching up tonight.

Since it was raining, I decided to get artsy. 

I live in a place that isn't very green, but was visiting a place that is!! 

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

14. Clouds

Since today was pretty overcast and dreary, I thought a picture of clouds might be boring. I was hoping for a blue sky day with a few puffy clouds. Instead, as some rain came in this afternoon, I got a picture full of mystery!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

13. A Sign

I'm not exactly sure what "the rule" is. No running? No diving in the shallow end? No troublemaking?

A Year of Dates: March

Last weekend Eric and I went on our March date as part of our Year of Dates.  For those of you who just joined us, for Eric's birthday I gave him a Year of Dates -- one date a month, pre-planned and mostly pre-paid. Our lives have gotten really crazy over the past year and this is a way to make sure we have some couple time (other than zoning out in front of the tv next to each other after the kids go to bed).  This is the third month, obviously, and I have to say that the pre-planned date thing has been good for us. We, especially Eric, have been super busy and when our date rolls around each month, I think we both realize that we would not have carved time out to be together on that particular evening. We would have collapsed at home or gone to bed at 8pm.  But we go on our date instead and it has been nice to spend time together. The only problem with the system so far is that I planned all the dates and focused on planning things we have not done before, but the dates haven't been particularly "manly" so far. Other than the auto show. Maybe that is enough manliness for the whole year.

March 2012

The Date: A night out in Richland to see the Hanford High School drama department at their dessert theater. We haven't seen any local theater since we moved here, but Hanford High's drama department has an excellent reputation. Plus... DESSERT!

The Envelope: Two tickets, procured drug dealer style when I met up with a drama girl outside Big Girl's allergist's office and exchanged my check for the tickets; and a little advertising flier I picked up somewhere that said a little bit about the drama program

Eric officially does not like the part of the date where I make him pose with the envelope.  I thought this one was cute though -- some of the performers were lined up at the entrance to welcome people as they walked in. I have a couple of pictures with them photo crashing with weird faces, but they were blurry because Eric started getting annoyed and I was taking the pictures on the move! 

It Went a Little Something Like This...

I had never been to a dessert theater, and we didn't know much about how this was going to go. And by "this" I mean the most important part of the evening: dessert! Each person received basically a tasting plate with a few different desserts. Luck of the draw, you got whatever the server put in front of you. Here are our plates:



Dessert was good. The performances were really great.  There were some full cast numbers from Music Man, the spring musical at Hanford High.  And then some of the students who placed high enough in competition to perform at the state level (this weekend!) performed their pieces. So there were large cast numbers, solos, monologues, duets and 2 person acting scenes.  After every 5th or so performance, there was a 15 minute break and ongoing silent auctions.  

Some pictures!! 
Stubborn in Iowa - Music Man

Scene from The Producers

My 2nd dessert!! 

Eric's 2nd dessert! 

Not for the Life of Me - Thoroughly Modern Millie

Trouble (in River City) - Music Man
 Overall, it was a fun evening.  Not really Eric's "thing", but the kids were REALLY good. And did I mention there was dessert? It was a good "date we've never gone on before", and we got a chance to talk and walk around together during the intermissions.

Next Month: April will be our first month date that isn't tied to a specific day. So we are adding in a little challenge, which is to make time for the date! We decided on our March date that we are going to sit down with a calendar SOON and mark the date in, set in stone.


Sunday, March 11, 2012

11. Someone I Talked to Today

I cheated a little today because instead of "someone", I decided to take a picture of "someoneS".  Once a month we go to ARK (Acts of Random Kindness) Club for our church.  The group is small and we have started doing potluck dinner as part of our meeting. It is always nice to have dinner with friends! 

Saturday, March 10, 2012

10. Loud

This was a tough one! This is Eric attempting to do P90X2 with Big Girl making all sorts of noise and Little Man listening to a book narrated by his Papa. As Eric is doing pushups and lunges and stuff, he's shouting, "Stop being so loud!"

Friday, March 9, 2012

9. Red

This really freaked Big Girl out. I took a picture of my just-iced swollen knee, but it was kind of disgusting so I decided on this instead.  Since Little Man was featured on Smile Day, I decided to use Big Girl as my subject for today.

Today I Tried Something New: Folding Fitted Sheets!

A couple of months ago, I blogged about how my house appears to be clean, but actually I hide all my junk in closets and cabinets.  I've been trying to tackle those areas over the past week or so. It feels really good to accomplish those little jobs.  Our closets and cabinets are not that big, so most of these jobs are things I can squeeze in during part of an afternoon.

Today's goal was our upstairs hall closet.  I should have taken a "before" picture, but I didn't. It is a small closet that holds: dog paraphernalia, toilet paper, kleenex, towels, hand towels, wash cloths, thank you cards, bubbles, batteries, candles, swim goggles, sheets for our bed and the guest bed, reward stickers, glue sticks, childproofing gear and a whole bunch of other small homeless items.

Most of this job was easy for me. I weeded out items for the garage sale tub. I put some things in their new "rightful place". I filled a bucket with all of the random crap and will be organizing and weeding that stuff out right after I finish doing this!

The stumbling block came with the sheets.  I have long since used the organizing method of putting the sheet set inside one of the pillow cases so that it stays together. Only I do it like this: carefully fold the 2nd pillow case.  Carefully fold the flat sheet.  Fold the fitted sheet in half and then jam it into the pillow case. My pillow case organizing solution ends up with fat, round balls of sheets, instead of the space saving and visually attractive version you see here:

So, today I set out to learn how to fold a fitted sheet. Naturally, I turned to Martha Stewart.

OK, lie. I googled "how to fold a fitted sheet", got a ton of results, scrolled down a little and then figured, "Martha Stewart probably knows how to do this." 

I watched this video.

I am not familiar with Martha Stewart's tv show. I have never watched it. I only know her reputation as being super creative, organizing and skilled in all things homemaker-ish.  

First, how condescending is she at the beginning of this clip? "Some people, hee hee, can't tackle simple tasks like... folding a fitted sheet!" She might as well roll her eyes and point at the lady. Or me. 

Then she calls the lady's sheet "pitiful"!!! Twice!  "You just can't have a nice linen closet if you put that... pitiful THING in your closet! Shame on you!" (OK, that was me inserting what she was actually thinking instead of what she was saying.)

So then they bring in the sheet folding lady and practice folding sheets.  Here Martha becomes more humble because she isn't doing this without flaw.  And that poor lady!! 

I watched the video. Honestly, I watched 3 of the 4 minutes of the video and then I turned it off. 

I have to say, I feel like I did a little better than the "I can't fold my sheets" lady. But my end product actually did not look much better than her first, "pitiful" version. I didn't care. At least they were more flat than they were before I watched the video.

Hopefully Martha Stewart will not show up at my house and inspect my closet. I wouldn't want to feel her wrath. And what would she say about my towels?? 


Update, a little later....


Thursday, March 8, 2012

8. Window

It's Thursday morning, which means I am at the library with Little Man. Again. I didn't remember what the photo of the day task was, so I checked it on the library computer. What do you know? Window!! And here I am, looking at lots and lots of windows.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

7. Something You Wore

Idea 1: wedding rings
Idea 2: snoopy bandaid I wore after cutting my finger this morning 
Idea 3: Pink plastic mini-tiara I wore for Kindergarten lunch on "Fancy Day"

God's Lesson for Me

Today I'm going to tell a story that I have started to write a few times but never completed. But now that it appears my story has an ending, I am going to write about it today. This is a story about fear, growth and things I have learned about God.

A few years ago, Eric and I became accidental landlords when he was called to his current job and we moved at the height of the housing collapse.  We felt that God really was calling him here and left it at "if we are supposed to go, the house stuff will get figured out".  We lived in one of the places where the housing market was really terrible -- the community regularly topped lists of the worst places to try to sell a home because there was serious home inflation prior to the collapse.  Our house was unsellable. But we had a friend who was looking for a rental at the same time we planned to move, so she became our tenant.

For a year and a half, we were horrible, long distance landlords. Our friend's rent covered our mortgage and anything extra came out of our pocket. We didn't make money, but at least we weren't paying 2 mortgages.  Until last spring, when we found out our tenant was moving out of state.

We briefly considered keeping the house as a rental and using a property management company, because we were still underwater on the mortgage. But in the end, we are not landlords and weren't interested in being landlords. I viewed that route as a long, slow walk towards financial problems for us, additional stress, and a continued risk that it might be many years before our house was worth what we owed.  After talking to real estate agents, financial planners, a real estate attorney and our CPA, we decided to take the hit up front to be done with the house and sell the property as a short sale.

What an experience!

The same weekend our renter moved out, I moved in with the kids.  We lived in the house with basic furniture and a few toys, and committed to doing that until our house sold.  Thankfully, we received an offer the first week we were on the market, and the short sale went through in what our real estate agent (who specializes in short sales) called "the smoothest short sale she has ever been a part of".  We had to bring a sizeable amount of cash to closing, our credit scores took a hit, there was a loss on the house, but it was done.  At the end of July 2011, I was able to move back up here with the kids. And it was done in early August.

Except the taxes...

No one could tell us what would happen with our taxes.  Everyone knows the tax code is complicated, but the specifics of our situation made it even more so. In speaking with all of the different professionals working with us, the only commonality was a bottom line: "You'll just have to see how it shakes out at tax time."

And God tapped me on the shoulder, cleared His throat and said, "Do I have your attention?"  You see, I am not a "You'll just have to wait and see" person.  I am a "we have this much in the bank and I want to know 6 months ahead if we have what we need" person.    And finances especially are my weakness - my biggest anxiety and the place where my faith is tested.

Our taxes were completed today, and now that we are at the end of this process, I can see how God has been preparing me and using this situation to grow my faith.

For YEARS, definitely since we started a family on a single income and probably before, I have been a worrier when it comes to money.  Even the smallest unforeseen financial problem was thrown me off into an anxiety ridden tizzy.  But I have moved from that person, to where I found myself this morning.  This morning I was ok with the possibility that we may have to turn over our entire savings if that is how things "shook out".  That is huge!!  And it is all God. Using small things people have said, the Sunday School class Eric and I are teaching right now on the book "Fearless" by Max Lucado, Bible readings and devotions, God has brought me here.

Earlier today I picture God, coming to me with His outstretched hand.  "Come with me," He gently said. And I walked with him to a beautiful overlook.... and He pushed me over.  "This is an area where your faith needs to be refined and I am going to throw you right into it!"

But then I realized, that is not the way this happened at all.  Instead, God took my hand and led me to a beautiful overlook, and then together we ran down the slope.  You see? He has been here holding my hand this entire time.  And in His hand, I have made it from the beginning of this process to the end, with faith that has grown.  Not only that, but that momentum of running down the slope will propel me forward from here!

God has us in His hand. And when the time comes for a challenge to our faith, in whatever form, we need to trust in Him.

The verse that came to mind for me as I thought of my "running down the hill with God" image is from Deuteronomy: "Never will I leave you; Never will I forsake you." (31:6)  And because I didn't know the Scripture reference, I looked it up online.  It wasn't Deuteronomy 31:6 that came back as the search result, though. Instead it was this:

Hebrews 13:5 (NIV)
Keep your lives free from the love of money and 
be content with what you have, 
because God has said, 
"Never will I leave you; Never will I forsake you."' 

And I think that's pretty cool!

Epilogue (for Anna): I found out at 10am today that our tax documents were ready for us to sign, but waited 2 hours for the final answer about the bottom line.  2 "anxiety knob turned to 10" hours, but I knew there were people in prayer for us.  And the outcome was beyond what I even dared to imagine! We are going to be ok, without tears or anxiety, without loans or me going back to work "too soon".  Now my prayer is that I would have known we would be ok even if it did not turn out the way it did.  Because God still has my hand.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

6. 5pm

I am going to tell you the truth. I took this picture at 5:08pm. Between 4 and 4:30pm, I had Facebook conversations with 2 separate people about the 5pm picture.  One had already taken hers (Midwest), one was supposed to take hers the same time as me.  I gave myself a 30% chance of remembering to take the picture at 5pm.

I forgot!

And what's up with my family eating dinner at 5:08pm? Twice a week the kids have swimming across town at 6pm and they eat dinner with the swim attending parent around 5pm.  Tonight that parent is Eric. (Have no fear, I also ate dinner, I just got them started first.)

Library Book Addiction

There have been periods in my life when I was a frequent library visitor, but never as frequent as recently. Little Man really enjoys Library Story Time at our library, which coincidentally is on the same mornings that he does not have school. He also likes playing games on the library computer.  He has not yet figured out that he can play the same or very similar computer games at our house. We do not actually have to travel to the library so that he can color pictures on the computer.  Pictures like this. That I just linked to. At my house on our home computer.

Once or twice a week we go to the library for story time, and so that Little Man can play on the computer.  While he is doing his computer stuff, I have 20 minutes or so to think about... books!!

I have become seriously addicted to checking out books from the library! Especially the New Releases, as you may have gathered from these earlier posts. I love wandering through the New Releases and reading the blurbs for the ones with names and covers I like. I also admit that I have figured out how to put a GoodReads app on my fancy phone, so I can find a bunch of "to reads" with just a few weird movements of my fingers. And a pair of glasses.

The addiction part comes in here. I almost cannot stop myself from checking out new books!! For example, right now I have 100 pages to go in a library book. Another library book waiting on my bedside table. And, I have a book to read for book club that meets at the end of the month. And, I want to re-read The Hunger Games before I see the movie because I am an overachiever like that. Not to mention my physical "to read" shelf in the bedroom that currently has about 10 books & 3 magazines that I own and haven't yet read.

I am a girl who does NOT need to be checking out more library books for myself at this point.

Today I avoided checking out books for myself only because Eric asked me to check out a book for him. So that way I got my book fix on without saddling myself with more book reading responsibilities.  Oddly enough, checking out 5 Elephant and Piggie books does not seem to help with my library book cravings. (Little Man is in LOVE with these right now because he can read them himself.)

Monday, March 5, 2012

The Mystery of the Missing Backpack

Subtitle: The Irony of Organizing
Alternate Subtitle: Career Day Causes Chaos! 

Since realizing my house is a cluttered and disorganized mess, as I do about 3 times a year, Eric and I have been decluttering and cleaning like fools this month.  He spent the weekend sorting junk in the garage. I cleaned Big Girls room a week or so ago and spent my weekend in the mess that we call our playroom.  Tonight I tackled the deceptively deep hall closet. Things are looking good! The next goal is the upstairs linen closet.

Big Girl has managed to keep her room clean for a whole week! Mostly because she hasn't been playing with the toys now that they are in clear storage tubs, and instead lays around on the couch in her pajamas sucking on her 2 fingers and whining that she wants to watch Cupcake Wars. (To Big Girl's future husband: I am very sorry. I am doing the best I can!)

Today kicked off National Lutheran Schools Week. For those of you who are lacking insight in the world of Lutheran schools, it is essentially "spirit week" from public school.  There are theme days and the kids dress up. There are some special events like book fair and science night.  Today's theme was "Career Day", so last night I spent time with both kids figuring out clothes to go with their career.

No surprise, Little Man wanted to be a "worker man". But I couldn't find the "worker man" shirt he wore at Halloween (when he was also a "worker man"), so instead he was going to wear his fighter pilot dress up outfit. And bring his red guitar. ("Because I want to play guitar in the airplane.")

Big Girl decided to be a teacher. This was iron clad because she wrote it on a handwriting paper at school which is apparently A VERY SERIOUS COMMITMENT.  Dressing up for career day as a teacher has got to be one of the lamest clothing adventures out there. Unfortunately we do not have a denim romper with an apple patch.  I gave her the choice between two jumpers and she seemed fine with that. (Equally lame is dressing up like a "mom". I'm not saying teacher and mom aren't good careers, I'm just saying if you have an excuse to dress up for school you should really go for it! But I guess the young ladies in question just wanted to be true to themselves. Yada yada yada.)

This morning we got up and I started my daily ritual of herding the kids around the upstairs repeating, "Put on your underwear. Get your clothes on. Did you brush your hair? I said put on your underwear. Get your clothes on. Did you brush your hair?"  Little Man started crying because he doesn't want to be a guitar playing fighter pilot anymore. He wants to be a "worker man". Thankfully, the missing "worker man" shirt was located and mom saved the day!

In the meantime, Big Girl decided she no longer wanted to wear the jumper she picked last night. She wants a different jumper, the one she can't reach that needs to be ironed. Done and done.

But then it is time to go to school and I can't find Big Girl's water bottle to fill up before we leave. Not uncommon, she regularly leaves it in her backpack. So I asked for the backpack. And...

It is missing!
Have you seen this backpack? 

I ask, how is it possible that in our newly cleaned and organized house the backpack is now missing? (Along with the water bottle I just spent $15 on at REI not even 2 weeks ago! And her folder. And my Burts Bees chapstick that she stole from me.)

I told her to look for the backpack and she came back with her other backpack. The one she got for this school year but doesn't ever use because it is a messenger bag (which she selected) and she doesn't like that it is a messenger bag. She was all, "It's ok, I'll just use this one."

But I am not as easily able to just let it go. I applaud her "roll with the punches" attitude, but inside I'm thinking, "You don't just lose your brand new fancy water bottle and not care about that!" "You don't just lose the backpack you have taken to school almost every day for 3 years and just say, 'On to the next, personal items be damned!'"

I have since looked around for the backpack. I sent her after school on a backpack hunt. Her Daddy even did a thorough search. No backpack.

So we now have a cleaned and organized house, and now somehow Big Girl's backpack is missing. Finger crossed that we did not throw it away!!

5. A Smile

I decided to take a picture of Little Man smiling since he has one of the best smiles I know. Unfortunately, capturing it on camera is a little difficult at times. He let me take his picture, in exchange for giving me feedback on the layout and design.  The photo of the day label for this picture is all his doing.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

4. Bedside

The most important thing I keep bedside is the stack of books I am reading, or will be reading soon. 

Saturday, March 3, 2012

3. My Neighborhood

"It was a cold and blustery day in my neighborhood. Uncharacteristic overcast skies in the distance..."

Today I Did Something New: Primary Caucus!

Today I did something new! I attended my first ever presidential caucus! Washington recently switched from primary voting to caucusing, and I have never lived in a caucus state before. Everything I know about caucuses I learned from watching CNN.

Today's Republican presidential caucus was an open caucus, so I trotted my Independent opinions down there with my mom, ready to vote for Ron Paul.   Washington is considered "in play" for Ron Paul -- you know, crazy liberal West coasters we are! -- but I actually live in the more conservative part of the state.  Heading over today, I was fairly certain that Mitt Romney would be the preferred candidate by people voting from our county.  His business background is sure to be a draw, and there is quite a large Mormon population here so that isn't a distraction.  And while people here are fiscally conservative, they might find Rick Santorum too "Christian".

We arrived just after 8:30am to check in for the 10am caucus.  The published information said doors opened at 8:30am.  In the paper this morning, the predicted voter turnout statewide was expected to be around 60,000 people, and I heard a county guy saying that they expected about 3000 people at our county caucus location here.

The entire county caucused at the convention center. I think they would probably re-think that plan after today.

So first, we waited in line...

My mom said, "Look around. These are your peers." Apparently my peers are middle aged white people who like to drink Starbucks.  I noticed quite a few Ron Paul related t-shirts and hats. Not much in the way of merchandise for other candidates. But there were a lot of Romney stickers.  Romney definitely had the most "ground game", with Paul a close second. Gingrich and Santorum did not have anyone there handing out stickers, buttons or pamphlets, as far as I saw.  

We stood in line for about a half an hour.  Some kind of official came down the line apologizing for the wait. He said there were already 4000 people inside at that point. (If he was correct about that, I would guess that there were at least 6000 people there today.)  Behind us, the line snacked up and down through the convention center lobby about 5 times. 

A random guy walked through with "Ron Paul donuts", meaning he was giving free donuts to people wearing Ron Paul gear. Unfortunately, I hadn't found the Ron Paul sticker man yet, so I missed out on a really yummy looking donut. 

When we got to the check in area, they had run out of the little badges for each precinct, so instead they wrote on our arms.  I was in precinct 2641. Want some blurry proof?

That was written with a Sharpie, so I will probably be able to prove it all week if I want to.

There were 2 large convention rooms in use for the caucus. And no obvious rationale about how the precincts were organized within those rooms. So I headed into the large room that included my number.  Thankfully, I saw a lady standing at the very first table with my precinct number!

Part of our precinct, with one of our members holding up the precinct number. 

We had one small table for our precinct and I got the 8th and last chair.  It quickly became apparent that my Ron Paul sticker and I were in the minority. In fact, the whole table pretty much said (in a joking, not threatening, manner) that the precinct is for Romney, but I could sit with them if I wanted.  See the ladies in the picture above? All of them knew each other.  Walking partners. And their husbands. 

A few more people came along to our precinct/table.  I thought everyone was very cordial in the way that I kind of expected.  They boasted about their candidate and then asked why the other person liked someone else.  The Romney people all talked about how the number one goal for the Republicans ought to be defeating Barack Obama and Romney is "the man to do the job". (Why? It's a mystery!)  The Santorum people liked that he is a "true conservative".  I noticed that there weren't a lot of details.  It was like people were supporting caracatures of the candidates, and they may or may not have known many details about the people they wanted to vote for. 

The room got more and more crowded. I was thankful we were near the door, because I might have had a crowd induced freak out if I were in the middle. 

The caucus was supposed to start at 10am and around that time we started hearing that the doors were going to be closed at that point with no one else let in. Even the people who had been in line since before 10am.  There was some booing.  This was posted on our local newspaper's facebook page earlier today:

Kim *** 
I love the way the news is stating that...probably got this wording from the unorganized republican party in charge of the caucus "had to be turned away" How about "were denied their constitutional right to vote"? I think that wording fits better. I have voted in every primary and general election for as long as I can remember. But the governor took away the primary and gave us the caucus. So my husband and I got up early on a Saturday and went and stood in line to have our chance to vote. I have a migraine, so standing in noisy room with 6000+ people was not my idea of fun, but I take my civic duty seriously. After being in ling for quite some time (and the line snaked the full length of the lobby of the 3 rivers conv cntr 5 times) we were at the back of one of the loops when they announced that those with voter registration cards could come to the front. Mayhem broke out and the lines were history....they all melded into a mess and we ended up at the back of it. We patiently moved slowly forward with a crowd about 20+ people wide. When we got near the front...they announced if you weren't already validated you would not be able to particpate in the caucus or in the voting process!!! By this time I look back and there are still hundreds of people behind us!!! Seriously!!! I will be very busy tomorrow making calls to all of the candidates, the county, the governor, the republican party, our representatives..etc....
about an hour ago ·  ·  3

After some lengthy instructions on how to vote in a straw poll and elect delegates. We finally got to the real action. Which lasted all of 15 minutes.  

We voted in the straw poll. Our precinct ended up with 15 people in attendance.  7 for Romney, 7 for Santorum, 1 for Paul.  And then we were to vote for county delegates. 

As a dutiful Ron Paul supporter, I know that as the only Paul member of our precinct, I am almost FORCED to nominate myself as a county delegate. Even though it costs $50 and is on my mom's birthday.  There are 5 of us nominated for 3 spots.  7 of those fools actually voted for me!! I don't think they understand the role of delegates -- that by voting for me, they are sending a Paul delegate to the county level. I think they just thought I seem like a nice, young, naive and optimistic girl.  Fortunately and unfortunately, I was 1 vote short of being elected as a delegate. 

But now you can say you know a county delegate ALTERNATE. Ta-da!

After straw polling and picking our delegates (2 Romney, 1 Santorum), we were dismissed. I went and found my mom, who was causing all sorts of problems in her precinct. I wouldn't expect anything less! 

The overwhelming mood of the caucus was... crowded.  It was ridiculously crowded. And too loud to hear the instructions. I know the local Republican people in charge of planning to caucus were very overwhelmed. One woman took the microphone to make an announcement about something else and essentially said, "This is our first time doing this and I am very sorry" and then starting crying.  I felt bad for her. 

So, that was how I spent my morning today! I have to say that I am more interested than ever in how the caucus process works in states like Iowa where it is tradition and a well oiled machine. And if other caucus states are more like that, or more like us?