Monday, June 30, 2008

Horribly Terrified and Mentally Limping

Forget about what people tell you what "HTML" stands for. For me, the acronym means "Horribly Terrified and Mentally Limping." That is the exact way I felt yesterday as I set about the task of learning how to create a website. To wit, learning HTML code so that I can create my own websites. I've been trying to do this for MONTHS. And there are so many people who have tried to teach me how to do HTML coding to create websites, but it never sunk in.

I have a friend who is so tech-savvy and has created several websites. They ARE impressive sites and I always enjoy how beautiful her sites are. So I've asked her recently, "How did you learn it?" She told me she had to learn EVERYTHING on her own. She started talking about it and I tripped up over something in her email. I asked my husband, "What is a host?" He explained it's where people are able to put up their sites. He asked why I wanted to know and I told him I am trying to learn website design so that I can create my own sites (namely, an author site). We spent many hours at the computer last night as he showed me different codes and techniques on creating a website. (It helps to be married to a computer programmer. LOL) He said one easy thing to do is to just create the site the way I want it to appear on Notepad then go back and put all of the codes around it.

Now, learning HTML code has been the biggest challenge for me. I mean, I only know basic HTML, nothing as complicated as font size and color numbers or extra features like sound files or anything like that. I don't even know what that thingy is called at the top of the window that shows the page title! So as we worked together on that last night, I kept looking over the different codes and how they are all used. There's a code for the background color, the text size AND color, a code for how text appears and where everything will go.

In the past, when I tried to learn HTML code on my own, I enlisted the help of the Internet. Now the problem with this is that there are bazillions of sites out there offering HTML code tutorials, and I soon had a headache trying to sort through them all. It was just REALLY confusing! I also asked many people what sites are the best to use to learn HTML coding and I visited those. Another thing I tried was taking a free online course that teaches HTML coding, but without a program like FrontPage to work with and test out everything I did, it was hard to learn everything.

My husband went to the site and downloaded the free program, Page Breeze. We were working with it last night and THIS is how I have something that BOTH teaches me about HTML and gives me a way to practice the codes and see what turns up. YAY!! (My friend said that's what FrontPage is like.) But in addition to using this program, I am also going to keep checking out sites and read a couple of books. (One book I have heard is really good for the beginner is HTML for Dummies.) There's so many things I still don't know about. I got proof of this when my friend sent me an email with even more site-creating info in it and I was so confused after even reading it twice. So maybe after I get some more practice done and read up on it some more, my brain won't be limping through this task as much as it is now.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Morning mental fogginess

This morning, after I fed the baby, I wanted to go get some donuts from the store. I had to get my husband up first, though, to keep an eye on the kids while I was gone. So I woke him up sometime after 10. "I'm going to go get donuts," I said.

My husband looked at me and said, "I have to punch poi..." The word he almost said was "point" but it totally looked like he was saying "you."

And that made me freak! WHA???!!!! Punch me?? I don't have to get us donuts! I'll get croissants instead! Please don't hurt me!!

"What did you say?" I gasped, moving away from him on the bed.

He shook his head and looked around. "What?" He shook his head again, rolled his eyes then looked at me and said, "Never mind. I was dreaming about work."

I started laughing. Oh, my gosh. That is just so funny. He has NEVER threatened to hurt me physically but I admit that what he said clutched my heart. He later explained he was dreaming about punching holes into metal at work and he thought he was still in his dream when he woke up. (Gee, thanks for the appearance comment, sweetie pie!) I just thought it was so hilarious that happened.

But one time that he woke up all confused, it wasn't so funny. Actually, it was downright frustrating!

When he was working a different job in California, he occasionally had to drive his boss, Alan, to work. On these days, he had to get up for work extra early. He usually told me the night before if he had to or not but one time, he didn't say anything. So I woke him up early the next morning, just in case he did have to drive his boss to work. The exchange went something like this:

Me: "Do you have to drive Alan to work today?"

Him: "Who?"


"Alan what?"

"Do you have to drive him to work today?"



"Alan what?"

"Do you have to drive him to work today?"



This kinda thing doesn't happen very often. My husband is not all too keen on remembering his dreams and, last time I checked, he isn't in charge of driving anyone to work. But when it does happen, at least it can be something funny, even scary, to reflect on every now and then.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Decisions, decisions

My wedding anniversary is coming up! It's this Friday but, because my husband has to work, we won't be able to celebrate it until Saturday. We are just going to exchange gifts and go out for dinner. Nothing all that glamorous or exciting. But I'm just as happy with the low-key stuff. It's a chance to go out to eat! Yay!

The problem is, I'm having a hard time figuring out where I want to go out to eat. I've thrown a few suggestions my husband's way but he can't decide, either.

Here are the usual suspects:

Ring of Fire

This restaurant is right across the street from us. You can imagine how tantalizing it must be to smell their delicious Thai food every day! LOL I've been tempted to run over there a time or two to grab dinner!

Golden Orient

I went here only once when I was out and about, having a break from the kids. (And I ended up dropping off some of their food at home on my way to the bookstore after I finished eating there.) This Chinese restaurant is very good. The service is excellent and their restaurant is clean and attractive.


This is a buffet and because I have a neice named Izabel, I'm tempted to pick this one. Hah! I once asked a lady who works at a local bank where I can get the best pizza. After some thought, Izzy's was her choice. But it's not just pizza they serve as a main course; they also have pasta, chicken and beef dishes. The first time I went to eat here, I got lost trying to find it. (Unfortunately, I have a knack for getting lost!) I was told to go in one direction looking for the street when actually it was in the OTHER direction. (And that right there is the story of how I ended up at Fern Ridge Lake, Katy. LOL) NOW I know how to get there and they DO have good food. Their food choices are small, but, hey! It's a buffet! All the more reason to walk back to your table with a full plate!


When I lived in the California desert, I used to go to the Applebee's in Rancho Mirage all the time. So you can imagine my joy when they FINALLY opened an Applebee's in my neighborhood. WOO-HOO!! I love eating at Applebee's. Their food is just so different and tasty. The restaurant has a fun atmosphere (though not as fun as TGI Friday's) and reasonable prices. I have YET to eat at the new Applebee's here, though, so I can't really say if the service is pleasant. Still, memories of eating their offerings has me ready to run right over there ASAP and check 'em out. Though not sure if for my anniversary.

The Mission

For two years in a row, I went here for my birthday. They are, IMO, the best Mexican restaurant in Eugene. Though I'll admit I haven't eaten at too many Mexican restaurants to make a fair comparison. ;) But I really love eating here and not just because it's one of those "dressed up" Mexican restaurants (complete with colorful chairs). Their food is to die for and it's always hard from me to pick something from their menu. If you are ever in Eugene, do eat here if you can!

So those are the usual choices to select from when it comes to going out to eat. My husband likes to eat at the Kam Loon Restaurant and I have been meaning to pay a visit at the Jade Palace Chinese Restaurant. There are also a couple of other places we have enjoyed dining at: Sweet Basil Thai Cuisine and the Lotus Garden Vegetarian Restaurant.

As I paged through the phone book, looking at all of the other places to have dinner at, all these restaurants we haven't tried yet, I'm tempted to try something different. Something we haven't tried before. Some place we haven't dined at yet.

Maybe it isn't so terrible to try some place new for a special occasion. The usual suspects are definitely good to have in mind to pick from when it comes to picking a place to eat, but this is our first "second marriage" anniversary. Might as well mark the occasion by trying to have dinner at some place new.

Now all I need to do is pick one!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Baseball fever

Last night, I told Jennifer she couldn't stay up late because she had a game today and needed her rest. This morning when I forced myself out of bed at 8, I sure wish I had taken that advice. I didn't get to bed until 3 a.m.! (I just couldn't sleep.) But force myself out of bed I did and stumble to the shower I also did. The kids were still asleep and if I wanted to get a shower before noon, it was either now or never!

Fortunately, Jennifer wasn't too sick to play today. She missed the last game because she'd had a high fever that had her temperature going up and down for 3 days and I was hoping she'd make it to today's game. This morning she woke up complaining of a tummyache. I tensed. Her temperature was normal and her appetite was normal. But she said her stomach was just bothering her. I told her to lie down for a while and maybe she'd feel better later. Sure enough, she was feeling just fine after a while and ready to play ball!

We all loaded up into the car and drove out to the park. This park is the same one I got horribly lost trying to find last time. I was supposed to get to Kincaid Park and ended up at Tugman, scratching my head staring at the map and trying to figure out WHERE the heck I should go! Fortunately, my husband was driving this time. Map in hand, he went along the same route I did when I'd got lost. (The problem was, the map told me to make a left turn where there was no left turn, but I soon learned WHY: I was on the EAST street and not WEST. D'OH!) I just sat back and watched how exactly he would get us there. Last time, I got us there completely by accident. I was driving all over the place and just found it, an hour after the game had started. (Gah!) So I watched him get onto the WEST street via Fox Hollow and, sure enough, the turn the map said to make was RIGHT THERE! So I guess there are TWO 39th streets?? Anyway, I figured out how to get there now and so NOW I won't get lost next time.

We camped out on the grass and watched the game, with Jesse sitting up in his stroller. I noticed how Jesse kept leaning forward and watching the game as closely as he could. It was so cute how he was REALLY getting into the game. (We even had him dressed up in a baseball outfit that said "shortstop" on the back and, just like his big sister, he, too, wore a baseball cap.) I bet if he was able to talk, he'd be saying something like, "Hit a homer!" Here's a picture of him in one of his "paying close attention" looks:

I was really impressed with how well Jennifer was hitting the ball. She REALLY smacked that ball right out there! We were kinda bummed how she got tagged out on her way to home base, but I still think she played really well. She is definitely improving!

After the game, I was talking with the coach while she held a baby in her arms. The baby was 15 months old. Sooo cute!! I told her about how Jesse got interested in watching the game and she laughed and said the baby she was holding is the same way. He really gets into watching baseball and football games on TV. One thought struck my mind when she said that: "It's a guy thing." LOL Apparently, men have it wired into them to get all crazy about sports! It's just a part of their nature.

Anyway, we went to the Valley River Center Mall. On the way there, I took a small catnap in the car. (I was sooo tired and had started dozing off while watching the game.) First we went to Sports Authority and my husband spent time with Jennifer looking at baseball stuff. Jen wandered off to check out some basketball stuff then went back to looking at bats and baseball gloves with her father. I tried to check out the baseball mitts, too, but was disheartened that almost every single one of the gloves I saw were for left-handed people. My husband said that if you're left-handed, you have to wear a right-handed glove, and vice versa. I am right-handed but there's no way I can fit my left hand into a baseball mitt. (Here's why: ) I'd need a custom-made mitt! That just stinks. Once when I was practicing catch with Jennifer, I hurt my hand trying to catch the ball without wearing a mitt. I noticed how her coach was catching the ball thrown to her with her bare hand and wondered if it hurt at all. (Maybe she is used to it??)

Later, after we got home, Jen and I went outside to practice throwing and catching. It went pretty well until I threw the ball wrong and it hit her in the eye. RIGHT SMACK IN THE EYE! OUCH!! I ran up to her, my heart pounding and I was all freaking out, trying to calm her down as she stood there clutching her eye and crying. OH, MAN!!! Why did I have to throw the ball wrong?? I swear it was an accident! I wasn't even aiming for her face; I was aiming for her lower chest. It just rolled right up to her eye. Thank God it didn't break her glasses.

I felt so terribly, terribly guilty. :(

I took her into the house, telling her that sometimes this happens in baseball (I should know; I once got hit right in the face when playing baseball as a kid) and had her sit on the couch with an ice pack on her eye. Thankfully, the only visible owie was where her glasses were hit against her cheek. Her eye seemed okay. I still felt rotten about that, though. What a way to end her game day. Sigh. Somebody kick me. Hard.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

School's out!

Today was Jennifer's last day of kindergarten. Woo-hoo!! I have been anticipating this moment but, at the same time, I've been feeling a touch of sadness that her preschool AND kindergarten years are now history. My wittle baby's growing up. *sniff*

Jennifer had been sick with a fever the day before and I was worried she was once again going to have a high fever this morning and have to miss her last day. (On Tuesday morning, she'd crawled into my bed burning up with a 103 temperature. Eek! She was VERY sluggish and woozy.) But, thankfully, her temperature was not as high. It wasn't normal, but at least it was under 100. All the same, I gave her Children's Tylenol, just to be safe. She seemed to be feeling all right, though she was really sad that today was her last day of kindergarten. She LOVES her school, her classmates and her teacher. Oh, and the class dog, Bentley, too. She told me the other day she wished she could stay in kindergarten forever. (Heck, don't we ALL?? Haha.)

I dropped her off this morning, watching her walk with her friend into the school. And I was sitting there in the car, thinking, 'This is the last time I'll be watching her going into the school as a kindergartner.' Next year, she'll be with the "big kids" in first grade. No more fun and games. Sigh! They grow so fast.

Today all of the grades at the school had an early dismissal. In the morning, Jennifer had made it very clear to me that she wanted me to take pictures. So I took a couple. Here's a picture of the class coming out of the building following their early release (led by their teacher, Mrs. Gilliand):

And here is a picture of Jennifer with Mrs. Gilliand:

After I picked her up from school, we ran an errand then went to McDonald's and I treated her to an ice cream cone. Later in the day, we went through the contents of her backpack together, looking at all of the things she'd drawn and activity books she worked in. We talked about school and the things that she did. Through the school year, I'd seen what progress Jennifer has made with her reading, writing and arithmetic. Sometimes I felt bad she was doing SO well compared to how she did when I was homeschooling her for some of her preschool (yes, I was actually comparing my abilities to educate my child to a real school curriculum! LOL) but I was very pleased at just how wonderfully she has been doing and I'm grateful I enrolled her in such a good school. She really has come a long way in her learning. Her reading is good, her writing has improved and we've been working with her on the math. I really think her biggest accomplishment in kindergarten was learning how to read a whole book by herself. (Actually, she has now read two. Yay!) But there are so many other good accomplishments she has made and so many memories she will cherish.

We talked about her friends at school and if she'll be seeing them again next year. I had a good laugh when she told me a boy in her class had given her his phone number and she held up his number as proof. LOL! I guess you could say she's got a good start on moving on to bigger things in life.

Monday, June 16, 2008

The Yellow Rose

Some time ago, I wrote a children's story titled "The Yellow Rose." My daughter's kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Gilliand, knows I am a writer, and has asked to read something of mine in the past. When I needed some beta readers for the first book in my MG series, I thought about asking Mrs. G. if she'd be interested. However, after I printed the manuscript, it seemed to be too long in case she might want to read it to the class. So I went through some other manuscripts, specifically stories I've written for children. I came across one manuscript I've been shopping around: A story called "The Yellow Rose." It's a story about a farmer who receives a gift from the Earth: A beautiful yellow rose that can never die.

After Mrs. G. read it to the class, she told me the children were going to draw pictures for it. I thought that might be interesting to see what sort of pictures my story inspired. I thought that meant they'd draw pictures to go with the story, but that isn't exactly how it went. (And as for how they liked the story? I guess they liked it, because they clapped at the end!)
On Thursday, May 15th, I attended a family barbecue at the school. After we ate and had recess, I returned to the classroom with everyone. Mrs. G. was whispering to Jennifer about something and I started to wonder about what was going on. I was really surprised to be presented with a book the teacher made, showing off the pictures the children had drawn for my story! Oh, wow!! I was so touched and moved. It even brought tears to my eyes as Mrs. G. went through the book and showed it to the class. What a wonderful gift!

You can see the cover of the book here:

I started reading some of the pages but, because my voice was not 100% restored (read about how I lost and got some of my voice back here:, Jennifer and Mrs. G. helped with the reading. Every single picture was a brand new surprise and I was just so touched and deeply moved by how they'd done this project for my story.

I am uploading the PDF file of this book to my web site, at Right now, my computer isn't cooperating with uploading files to the site, but I'll be putting it there, on the homepage, as soon as possible. I just want to show off the great artwork the children did for this story!

Here is a picture of Mrs. Gilliand and her kindergarten class:

Thank you, Mrs. Gilliand! And thank you, children, for such a wonderful gift! It will be treasured forever!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

We are all in this world together

Yesterday, Jen and I did some last-minute Father's Day shopping while we were also getting a birthday present for a little boy's birthday party we had to go to. After we were done, as I waited for Jennifer to finish riding the mechanical horse, I noticed a woman standing outside of the store with a pushcart next to her, in which was a toddler and a store bag with baby formula in it. She held up an index card with writing on it. People who left the store didn't even look at her. I felt bad over such insensitivity and walked outside to read what her card said. To paraphrase, she had no money to buy food for her three children and she needed some help. I was grateful that she did, at least, have enough money to buy the formula. I became angry that so many people had just passed her right by, ignoring her and not reaching out to help. Well, I'm going to help! So I opened my purse and gave her a $5 bill, telling her I wish I could give more but I really couldn't. I just had the $5 to spare.

Seeing her, though, it brought back memories. I remembered how it was when I was divorced: I barely had enough money to put food on the table for my child. I can still remember the time she came to me saying she was hungry and all we had was a box of crackers. My parents occasionally wired us a little money here and there to help out, too, but here again, you know, the money can only go so far until next week. But at least they were able to give us more than $10! (This hardship lasted until, thank the Lord, I got two jobs that brought in extra money to buy food: Babysitting and housecleaning.) So in a way, I could relate to this woman's situation. And I only had one child to feed instead of three!

But there was also something that I could relate to here: The $5 I gave to here. I really, really wanted to give her more, but I couldn't. And I was trying to think of what she could buy for her children to feed them with that $5. She could buy a box of cereal and milk. Spaghetti and meat sauce. Canned soup or stew. Bread and a jar of peanut butter. Some fruit.

Believe me, I know all about trying to stretch that food money. And here again comes another memory: I was able to receive food benefit from the state. But because I have an annuity, I was only able to get $10 a month in food benefit. Yep, you read that right: $10 a month to feed one child. And believe me, that $10 was practically the bulk of what food money I had for us until I got those jobs. The "magic" of being a divorced mom is that you have to pay for EVERYTHING -- rent, utilities, home repair, gas, etc. -- and we got child support in bits and pieces. (Yeah, it was a pretty hard time until I got those jobs.) So I know all about trying to stretch that food money. I used coupons a lot and shopped at a grocery warehouse whenever possible. We wouldn't have even had a Thanksgiving unless my church gave us a box of food complete with a turkey. (And I have since donated money to their Thanksgiving food drive as a way of showing my gratitude for this.)

Now some may see this kinda thing and think, "She was probably some con artist trying to get free money." Or, "That kid probably wasn't even hers." You know what? All of that doesn't matter. It even didn't matter if she was just trying to get money to buy booze! If I just got swindled by a con artist, so what. I still felt good about giving her the $5. I had a smile on my face after doing that. (I had an even bigger smile after I saw other people walk up to her and help her out, too.) The giving was its reward.

But all of that "memory" stuff isn't what compelled me to reach out to this woman and help her. I did it for a bigger reason: Because I was able to. And because I truly believe that we are all in this world together, and we all need to be there for each other no matter what. We need to tear down the walls of discrimination, the walls of prejudice and status, and reach out to help other people when they need that help. We can't say "I'm better than you" or "you're just a lazy bum who only wants a handout" because hunger sees no status and no difference. Hunger affects ALL of us and it really does hit all of us hard. Hunger is a very real problem for a lot of people, and we just can't look the other way.

I really think it's unfair of people to have somebody go hungry instead of helping them out. I think it's unfair that there are people who refuse to give just because they are stingy or they don't want to "encourage" other people to be "deadbeats." (And I REALLY think that right there is a myth. One of my brothers was once homeless, and he had four kids to feed. He'd be out there on the street begging for money for food, just so he could feed his children. And where is he today? He has a job, he's getting an education, his children are getting an education, and he has his own house to live in. So, no, we DO NOT encourage people to keep being deadbeats if we give them something to help out!!)

We are all in this world together. It's not about how different we are from each other, how our status is different, how our color or religion is different, or how the past was bad. We are all in this world together! And we need to be there for each other and help each other out, no matter what.

Friday, June 13, 2008

First ball game

On Saturday, June 8th, Jennifer had her first ball game. She played pretty well, except she wasn't too quick on her feet after catching the ball. She kinda did a happy dance in outfield after catching the ball before she went to first base with it. (Heh, yay!) She batted pretty well (better than before) and I was concerned the game lasted longer than her usual practices but she hung in there. They took a break for snack time and I had to choose a future date to bring the snacks to the game. (I am currently freaking out over one or more of the kids on the team having a food allergy and how I should pick out the best healthiest snacks that ALL of them would be able to eat. Besides fruit.)

Here are pictures my husband took. The first is of Jennifer before the game.

During the game, she took every free chance she could to run back to where we were to drink from her water bottle or to say hi to her brother. Fortunately, we had nice weather and AMAZINGLY, it didn't rain. I'm still planning on bringing an umbrella to future games. You never know with weather in the Northwest!

At one point during the game, I saw a man walking his dog around the diamond. I almost laughed when the dog lifted his leg and peed on the batting stick! I guess you could say he "blessed" it. :D

Thursday, June 05, 2008

This is what happens when you let your kids plan their weekends

Not only does my 6-year-old want to run in a race and play at her baseball game, but she also wants to go play golf! (That will LIKELY happen after church and the usual library visit.)

I can just see those two boxes on my calendar now:

Saturday: filled.
Sunday: filled.

My daughter, the future Iron Man Championship contestant! *faints*

I should take solace in the fact that at least she doesn't want to sit in front of the TV all weekend. Though if I DID finally give in to her constantly begging me to buying her video games or gave her free reign on playing computer games, she might end up spending her weekend in front of a DIFFERENT kind of screen.

I tell you one thing: I sure do envy her all that energy.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Family ties across the miles

There are some things that I try to ignore. Some things that I try to overlook or just explain away. Anything to feel offended or hurt or just....forgotten. But I can only do that for so long. That will only work after taking so much.

And after I can't keep doing that anymore, that's when the hurt starts to sink in. That's when I just can't keep my blinders on about it anymore.
I am referring, of course, to the way certain people in my family have been with me for some time. When I first moved to Oregon (I am from California originally), we both shared how much we really missed each other. How hard it was to live so far apart. And the neverending plans for me and my daughter to move back. (This went down when I was going through my divorce.) But we never got to move back. Life changed again. And here I am, still living "so far away" from my sisters, my brothers, my parents, nephews, nieces and in-laws. (Yes, I EVEN miss the in-laws. Ha! My parents-in-law were always very good to me!) I still miss everyone so much and we've all tried to stay connected in some way.

In the beginning, I wrote my mom letters like crazy. My family is not much for letter-writing, though. Mostly, phone-calling. But the phone thing just isn't possible with me. So, we use Internet. At least, some of us. We used AOL to chat and also sent emails back and forth. We used sites like deviantART and, later, MySpace. (My youngest sister talked me into joining up with MySpace. It WASN'T EASY! LOL She had to bug me about it and bug me about it.) I finally joined after friends I knew created accounts and soon used it to network with the family. Soon MySpace became our ONLY WAY to stay connected, especially since I threw in the towel with AOL (and have not looked back) and we weren't really chatting so much anymore.

I guess that is what caused a certain rift to develop as of recently. There are some family members who DO stay in touch with me, but not as many of them as before. And that's the thing that bothers me, you know? That's the thing that hurts.

Of course, I take this rift personally. I get angry about it. I feel like they don't talk to me anymore because I still live "so far away" and they don't see me anymore. I'm not there in person so why bother trying to stay connected with me when I'm there online? I guess for them, it's not the same. But it hurts me very badly, because I love them so much and I miss them, too. I was especially hurt none of my nephews wished me a happy birthday. I guess I'm out of sight and out of mind with them. (And it's not just the birthday thing that really bothers me. It's the fact that I don't hear from them anymore at all!)

I try not to get upset about it. I try to stay focused on just living life and doing what I got to do. But this IS my family and it just really hurts that there's this huge RIFT between us now. Just because I live so far away! It's not fair that I have to live in California for them to even talk to me, but apparently, that's the way it is. Their love is conditional.

I try to take solace in the "family" that I have here, with friends who are like family. But I know that doing so will only strengthen the rift between me and my REAL family.

It sucks.

I guess I should just learn to accept that only SOME PEOPLE in my family are able to stay connected with us across the miles. That they realize family ties CAN exist no matter how far apart people in the family are living. But I just can't keep giving and giving and giving anymore. Not when that giving is met with no giving in return at all.