July 29, 2011

Friday Fragments - Finally Summer!

Friday Fragments are bits and pieces of your week that are usually brief; too short for a stand-alone post, but too good to discard. Collect humorous observations, "Heard" items, and other small gems and put them together in a Friday Fragments post.

Friday Fragments are the brainchild of Mrs.4444 and you can find more at Half Past Kissin' Time.

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I FINALLY got around to uploading a ton of photos to Flickr today, so I'll put a few of my recent favorites in this post.

Finally captured his freckles that I love so much.

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So, there are a couple of places here in Bellingham where there are mid-sized pro-life/anti-abortion billboards. One of them in particular really bothers me. It's a quote from one of the Popes about how a country that kills it's children has no future. On the right side of the sign, it has a realistic looking photo of a fetus lying on top of a sort of nested American flag. First of all, gag me with your 'patriotic' imagery. Secondly? WHO decided that it's okay to put a photo of a DEAD FETUS on a poster in public? In this case, I'm not sure it's a real fetus, if it is it is developed enough that it would be too old to be aborted in most places. But, that's not really my point. My point is that you would never put a photo of a dead 6 month old corpse on a poster for SIDS. You would not put a photo of a 6 year old dead little kid on a billboard against drunk driving. There's basically nowhere else you would just be brutally confronted with a photo of a DEAD BODY where you could not avoid seeing it. So, why is this okay? I get it if people are against abortion. I disagree, but everyone is entitled to their own views. I just find it offensive that this is how some people choose to get their message out...

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Bowing in the rain.

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Yeah... so now that I blurted all that out, let's talk about HARRY POTTER! A week ago, Justin and I FINALLY got to the theater - I don't know how I managed to wait a whole week! We even drove down and saw it in IMAX 3-D. The IMAX was TOTALLY worth it! It was so good. Minor spoilers follow...

There was only one slight thing I would have added, but other than that it was amazing. In the scene where Harry is in the woods and his family appear to him, I always pictured him walking towards Voldemort with them behind him like his own private little army. It didn't appear that way in the movie. But, like I said, totally minor. That part always makes me cry. I did weep a bit in the movie, pretty much from the time they started going into Snape's story until Harry found Voldemort. I LOVE Snape, and throughout all seven books I was always rooting for him. The fact that he's played by Alan Rickman, who I totally LOVE also is just perfect. That whole story was just done so well. And I'm SO glad they kept in the bit at the end with them grown up, awesome. I totally want to see it 100 more times.

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Close to flying.

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Justin bought me a Nook color a few months ago, and I really love it. I have been reading so much more this year, I'm more on track to reach my 50 books a year goal than I have been since the first year I did it. Right now I'm in the middle of a couple of books - "Bossypants" by Tina Fey, which is my book club book for August, "Unbroken" by Laura Hillenbrand, about an Olympic runner turned WW2 pilot lost at sea, and "Shopaholic Takes Manhattan" by Sophie Kinsella for some fluff. What are you reading this summer?

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Daddy love.

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Danny and Sam are both getting SO big. I am working on 'birthday' letters... I'm so behind. I try to write Sam a letter on his birthday every year, and I just never got around to it this year. Hopefully I'll have them done in the next week. I'm very excited about this fall - one of the days that Sam's at Kindergarten, my mom is going to watch Danny so I can have a day to myself again. I used to have Sam go to a babysitter one day a week, but since Danny arrived, I haven't had that, and I can't wait to have more time to write again.

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It's blurry, but I LOVE this photo my sister took of me, my boys, and my Grandmom. She is in her 80s and lives in assisted living now, she has Alzheimer's and when we're there, she doesn't necessarily know who I am or who the kids are, but she really enjoys having them around. I don't get to see her as much as I'd like, because she's in Pennsylvania, but every time I get over there, I make sure to go see her.

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When 'Community' came on TV two years ago, I watched the first couple of episodes then for some reason stopped. Last week my Mom said they'd been watching it and enjoying it, so we got the first 2 season. We went through the first season over the weekend while Sam was gone. It's so good. I can't believe I haven't been watching it! I can't wait to make our way through Season 2!

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I took this picture of myself in May, and came across it while uploading stuff. There's something about it that I like... it's really just real, and it's from a perspective of me that I don't usually see.

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I guess that's it for this week, but I'm glad to be fragmenting again! I'm off to link up and check everyone's posts out. Hope you all have a great weekend, it's finally starting to seem like summer here in WA (knock on wood...), so we should have a good weekend!
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July 27, 2011

30 Days of Truth - Days 21-28: Knocking 'Em Out

Okay, there is just NO WAY I can somehow squeeze 8 blog posts out of the next 8 prompts. Let's knock some out, right here, right now.

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The prompt for Day 21 of 30 Days of Truth is "(scenario) Your best friend is in a car accident and you two got into a fight an hour before. What do you do?"

Really? Is this a question? GO. To her. Simple.

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The prompt for Day 22 of 30 Days of Truth is "Something you wish you hadn't done in your life."

I really, really, wish that I had not give up playing the piano. I started around 6th grade and took lessons well into high school. I got to the point where I was supposed to practice an hour a day, and I quit my lessons. I wish that I'd kept with it, I really loved playing and now I very much want to start again, but I'm going to have to re-learn a lot of stuff.

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The prompt for Day 23 of 30 Days of Truth is "Something you wish you had done in your life."

I wish that I'd had someone videotape the birth of my first son. Not for anyone else, just for me. I wish I'd realized that I'd be so empowered and want to see it. I didn't know that, nor did I know that the second time around I would plan for a video but there would be no time to make it happen.

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The prompt for Day 24 of 30 Days of Truth is "Make a playlist to someone, and explain why you chose all the songs. (Just post the titles and artists and letter)"

For my Mom

Return to Pooh Corner - Kenny Loggins
Because I remember having this sung to me, and in my head it is entwined with my childhood.

In China or a Woman's Heart - Kate Wolf
Because you are so beautiful when you play the guitar, and this song is like a hug from you - every time I hear it I feel so at peace.

Rockin' With the Rhythm of the Rain - The Judds
Because it reminds me of rockin' out with you in our living room as a kid.

Kiss Me - Sixpence None the Richer
Because it reminds you of our time in England, and since I know that, it reminds me too.

Addicted to Love - Robert Palmer
Because we played this record and danced, and that's kid of funny.

LOVE.
Rachael

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The prompt for Day 25 of 30 Days of Truth is "The reason you believe you're still alive today."

Really? WTH kind of question is this? I don't even know. Because I haven't died, and am usually pretty smart.

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The prompt for Day 26 of 30 Days of Truth is "Have you ever thought about giving up on life? If so, when and why?"

Nope. Never.

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The prompt for Day 27 of 30 Days of Truth is "What's the best thing going for you right now?"

My family. My amazing sons. My husband. My Mom and my sister. They're everything.

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The prompt for Day 28 of 30 Days of Truth is "What if you were pregnant or got someone pregnant, what would you do?"

Honestly, I don't know. We have 2 kids now, and we're definitely not looking to add to the family - it seems just right the way it is. Additionally, having two kids? Freaking HARD. I don't know how we would handle adding another to the mix. So, instead, we shall be smart and a more permanent solution will be in our near future.

For the other 29 days, click here.
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July 26, 2011

30 Days of Truth - Day 20: Tax that Shit

The prompt for Day 20 of 30 Days of Truth is "Your views on drugs and alcohol."

Put simply, I think they're a much smaller deal than people like to make of them. There are people who abuse both. There are also people who abuse credit cards and food. Addiction comes in many destructive forms and the problems is not the thing itself, but the person addicted to it.

All right... so I started typing this serious post about what I think about drugs and alcohol, but now I feel like that's boring and I really don't feel like doing it. So here are my favorite drinks:

Mojito
Mudslide
Malibu & Coke
Lemon Drop
Amaretto Sour

I totally think pot should be legal, and that in many cases it is WAY less dangerous than alcohol.

Also, we could probably pave some roads and buy some books for the library if we taxed that shit.

That's all...

For the other 29 days, click here.
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July 24, 2011

30 Days of Truth - Day 19: The Good Far Outweighs the Bad

The prompt for day 19 of 30 Days of Truth is "What do you think of religion? Or what do you think of politics." Yes, it's been a while since my last post (or any post for that matter), but I want to knock out the rest of my 30 days!

I have had an interesting religious journey. I became a Christian in my mid-20s, and I spent most of my life trying to figure out how people believed in God. Here's what I believe now...

Religion is personal. Everyone believes what they believe. Even within one church congregation, I believe that each person will have slightly or widely varying ideas about what God is. And THAT IS OKAY!

As far as Christianity goes, I believe there are a lot of people out there who like to proclaim loudly that they're Christians but behave in a very non-Christian way. I wish that more people could understand the difference. In fact, this goes far beyond Christianity. In EVERY religion - Mormonism, Muslim, Christianity, whatever - there are believers and there are EXTREMISTS. They are NOT the same thing. Disliking the actions of an extremist sect should not be grounds for dismissing an entire religion.

I believe that it's okay to talk about your beliefs, absolutely. However, I don't think that trying to FORCE beliefs on people is the way to expose them to them, or make them understand what you believe or how you feel.

I believe that when it comes to religion, we should all focus on the POSITIVE. As in, how do my beliefs guide me to something that will make the world a better place? The basis for my personal belief system lies with Jesus and the lessons he taught about how to treat one another. I hope that in the end I'll be viewed as a good person, and leave the world at least a little better and brighter than it was before I came into it.

I think that religion is a valuable tool, something that brings us together, provides community and a guide for us to remember to be selfless and love each other. Unfortunately, not everyone looks at it that way and it can be used for nefarious purposes. As a whole though, we shouldn't let the small percentage of bad outweigh the mass of good it can (and does) do.

For the other 29 days, click here.
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July 22, 2011

Goodbye, Borders

Ironically, I heard the news from the Barnes & Noble bookseller who was gift-wrapping a purchase for me. Borders Books would be no more. Friday July 22, 2011 would mark the beginning of the end for 399 stores and over 10,000 employees as the sales begin and the inventory is liquidated.

I don't know that I was shocked, but on the way home in the car, I found myself teary-eyed for the dying book giant. I worked at Borders for three years while I was in college and after I graduated, and even though I felt totally silly shedding a tear for a retail store, I later told Justin it kind of felt like an old boss died.

I've worked for several companies in my short career, and my time at Borders was absolutely my favorite job. As a book lover, going to a place where I could be surrounded by them all day (and get a pretty awesome employee discount) was awesome. I also met my best friend there, and my co-workers WERE my friends - I got to go to work and hang out with them every day.

I worked as a cashier and a seller. I worked on the special process team doing inventory, periodicals, pulling books to be sent back to various places, processing defective and damaged merchandising and unpacking and sorting hundreds of boxes of books. I worked in the children's section arranging oddly sized books and grumbling internally about the crazy mess, but loving the picture books I discovered while shelving. I ended up as a cafe supervisor, got great experience with ordering and supervising and opening and closing the three story bookstore in Bellevue Square.

It's been 8 years since I worked at Borders - it's hard for me to believe it's been so long. I've had two kids, moved a few times, and watched from afar on Facebook as my old friends have moved around and gotten married. I often wish that I could still be as close with some of them as I was back then, but distance and circumstance and just being in different places in life has carried us away from each other. I still miss them.

The ones I do keep in contact with regularly, I enjoy. I'm so happy that these people were brought into my life. As for my best friend, I will never, ever forget the times we had together laughing in the sort room and all of that lead to the friendship we have today.

I've been a Borders girl for years. I've shopped at Barnes and Noble recently due to the fact that we didn't have a Borders here in Bellingham. I'm going to miss it.
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July 19, 2011

It's Worth Feeling Stupid

The screaming startled me. I was at a stop light, waiting to turn, and I heard a man's voice screaming at someone. I looked around to try and find the source, not sure if it was someone yelling from a car, or someone on the street.

I spotted them across the street I was making a left turn onto. A man and a woman, both wearing backpacks. He was talking loudly and animatedly, following after her. She was very obviously walking away from him, and he was exhibiting what I can only describe as threatening behavior. I'm not sure, but I may have seen him grab at her arm.

What now?

The light turned green, and I made my turn. But instead of turning into the 7-11 parking lot where I was headed, I slowly drove past them, watching. Nothing really crazy was happening, they were both angry looking and he was still walking behind her. About a block ahead there was a turn-off to a trail head. I made a u-turn and pulled in, and just sat there. My window was down already.

Should I say something, or just drive away?

At this point, it was obvious that I was watching them, and the man began to cross the street, looking directly at me. He shouted to me something to the effect of 'why don't you mind your own business and stay out of other people's.'

My heart was pounding.

I heard her say 'no doubt.' I called out, "Are you okay?" He replied, "YEAH, she's okay!" Incredulously. Those were his words, but in his tone I heard 'stupid meddling bitch.'

I drove away.

I hope she really was okay. I was prepared to offer her a ride, a way out of the situation if she needed it. Once I stopped, it seemed like she was not running from him. Maybe it was just a fight.

But, you never know.

I hope that I didn't cause her any more trouble than she already seemed to have on her hands. I'm sure that both of those people thought I was meddling, that I was an idiot. Maybe it was just a fight that got out of hand. Maybe later they'd be embarrassed. Whatever they thought, I don't regret stopping.

Because you never know.

What if she had needed a way out? What if she had been in danger, and I could have helped? In any case, if you choose to behave like that in public, you SHOULD expect someone to say something.

Every 12 seconds a woman is battered in the United States (
Ms. Magazine, 2000).

Last week, Kriston Peterman-Dunya was shot to death by her estranged husband here in Bellingham. She left behind a 7 year old son.

Domestic Violence is the largest single cause of injury to women in the United States, more than car accidents, muggings, and rapes (Surgeon General of the U.S., 1990).

In my training and volunteering for Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Services, it's become apparent that we need to do more. We need to educate people about domestic violence. We need to empower people to speak out. We cannot rely on the fact that someone ELSE is going to help.

When we lived in Redmond 9 years ago, there was a night I heard our neighbors fighting. I heard him yelling at her, I heard her shoved up against the door. I stood at our front door, phone in hand, absolutely ready to dial 911. Luckily, she'd called friends and they picked her up before it escalated further.

It can be difficult to step into a situation where we don't feel we belong.

Sometimes, it's worth feeling a little stupid.

I would rather feel stupid than wonder if someone needed my help, and I didn't offer it.
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July 6, 2011

Home, Not Home

The unbearably hot day has faded into perfection. As the sky dims, it is perfect for sandals and tank tops and the humidity has given way to a pleasant breeze.

Neighbors, two houses, three families, so different, come together into one big family. The parents in their 30s with young boys - 1 & 5 - rent 1/2 of the older couple's house. In their 60s, so kind and generous - surrogate grandparents for all. The single mom in her 50s with a daughter, 12 going on 13. In other circumstances, who knows, but here they have their village.

As day fades to night, the kids play in the yard past normal bedtimes. From 5 to 12 to 60, monkey in the middle fills my ears with gleeful shouts, laughter & bouncing balls.

I retreat to the back stairs, after a full day now is my time to breathe. I gaze into the yard, looking at nothing really, until lightning bugs begin to light the night. I sit and wait for glow, blink, hover, wondering how a bug can possibly seem so magical. Past 8:30, birds and cicadas sing in the trees, chirps and tweets and the hum of the air conditioners in the windows all bring me peace somehow.

Lianna catches a firefly and shows it to the kids, and Sam hops up and down with excitement. This is nothing short of perfect, summer come to life before my eyes, and part of me wishes it was forever. Thousands fo miles from the place I call home, but I'm split in two because this feels like home to me too.

Traveling alone with two kids I won't have time to cry on the airplane home, but when I think about it now, I feel the tears welling up inside me. The country seperates us, families so widespread, and I miss my sister's dance recitals and birthdays, and when I visit she is the same, but different, every time more grown up. I don't like to think about how I am missing out on her life because it's just too much.

There are no easy choices. Wherever I am, there is someone to miss, some things become easier and some harder. I wish it wasn't this way. Tonight, I see what's in front of me, I watch my son play with his aunt, surrounded by friends and am sad we don't have this at home. I wish I could pack it all up and take it with me. I wish.

So I try to enjoy it now while I'm here, I sit, I write, then I put down the pencil and a firefly blinks and the light is fading and I am home, not home.
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