Wednesday, October 31, 2007


I’ve never been a fan of Halloween.

There’s always been an unhappy stigma attached to this day. Over the years, we lost a few animals and I think a cat went missing somewhere in there too. We hated having to lock them up a few days before and on Halloween.

And to top it off, mom would show us a Christian video about what happens around Halloween. Even though it’s been at least 15 years, I can still see the blurry pictures and can hear the scary stories.

We never had trick or treaters… turns out, walking a mile down a dark and scary road for a candy bar just wasn’t worth it.

Mom and dad wouldn't let us trick or treat as kids because they didn't want to celebrate a bad holiday - and to be honest, I didn't feel I was missing much.

When Chris and I moved to our own apartment, we never had a trick or treater there either. We always had school on Halloween.

Halloween has always been just another day to me.


Today is a big day.

Today is the first day in my whole life I will have trick or treaters coming to my door.

While I’m not excited about celebrating a day I don’t particularly like, I am excited about new experiences.

Have a safe Halloween!


Thought you might enjoy a few pictures from our trip to Ensenada...

Vending machine... condoms on the right, cigarettes on the left

The city streets

At our hotel balcony

Our hotel - Hotel Corona

And they have kids ride this thing?!?!

The fish market

Yup, that's really in a window for all to see.

The view from our balcony

The bride and groom plus the Collin's folks.

Chris and I at dinner

The boys eating bacon wrapped hot dogs with mayonnaise.

Waiting for our bus ride home

Friday, October 26, 2007

Discovering Ensenada…



We took a shuttle out of San Diego. Mexico is a laid back country in most aspects (like Chris says, Manana doesn’t mean ‘tomorrow’, it means, ‘not today’), but driving is an exception to the rule. If a ‘Califorornia Roll’ over the stop line would get you a good horn honking, I don’t even want to imagine what a full fledged stop would get.

I have to admit that I had my doubts about our bus driver. She was barely clearing 80 pounds and there were more teeth missing than showing in her mouth.

Once again, I learned not to judge.

She NAILED the trip.

On the drive home she yelled and honked with the rest of them. She inched closer and closer to a car blocking an intersection and said, ‘I’ll just give them a little bump OK?’ as she smiled back at us.

Fortunately the car moved in the nick of time.

She gave new meaning to the Carrie Underwood song, ‘Jesus Take the Wheel.’

I felt like I was driving with dad (control in chaos) and there was a comfort in that.

My Spanish vocabulary is limited to words shared with the English language. For example, I can say: burrito, taco, enchilada, tortilla, and rodeo. Beyond that, it’s an awkward game of charades.

Fortunately, the only word I really needed to know was ‘Margarita’ anyway.

Love you mom.

We stayed at the Hotel Corona on the water. Other than the plaster on the inside, it looked just like a Holiday Inn… except for the vending machine in the lobby.


D-7 = Doritos
B-1 = Nature Made Granola Bars
A-2 = Marlboro’s
A-3 = Marlboro Light’s
G-9 = condoms

Add beef jerky and it’s pretty much 7-11 in a cute compact case.

As for the food, we had fresh fish tacos at a very non FDA approved taco stand. They didn’t speak English but I’m pretty good at pointing and Spanish numbers. I said ‘Ocho’ and held up one finger. She looked confused but perhaps she didn’t get my enunciation.

They told me not to drink the water but… what’s the worst that could happen? I get sick? I could get a giant intestinal worm?

Come on! Both of those would result in effective, rapid weight loss.

I’m playing my girl card here. Give me some water.

Unfortunately I didn’t get sick and I didn’t lose weight.

Some people just don’t have ANY luck.

The wedding was a very traditional Mexican wedding – meaning – no one showed up for the ceremony and EVERYONE showed up for the party. If there’s one thing the Mexican people know how to do well, it’s throw a good party.

Reception start time: 7PM
Dinner: 10:30PM
Cake: 1:30AM
Go home: 4AM

Weddings on this side of the border suddenly look like glorified tea parties.

Not sure when I’ll be returning but Chris’ uncle and aunt - Steve and Carol - definitely made this trip memorable. I wouldn’t think to go without them… ever.

In fact, I don’t think I’ll ever travel internationally without them.

… and the next thing you know…

Thursday, October 25, 2007

The dinner dilemma…

In light of the recent fires and the slightly less than stellar air quality (if you can see the air you are breathing… you probably shouldn’t be breathing it), I’ve been sticking indoors and avoiding any extra stops between work and home.

Sure my pocketbook is benefiting, no ATM transactions in 4 days is an all time record – heck 4 hours would be a record. Unfortunately our frig, which was nearly empty in the first place, is now home to mustard and a molding bowl of sticky rice.

It’s been a struggle to make dinner to say the least.

Tuesday night I offered Chris the following options:

1.) Rice with powdered mashed potatoes
2.) Waffles with no butter or syrup
3.) Hamburger Helper… with only the ‘Helper’ part

His choice:

Burger King.

Whatever. He can’t say I didn’t try.

Last night I tried to make it up to him so I made** a roasted chicken with mashed potatoes.

Um, the asterisk is because the chicken was pre-cooked from Albertsons and the mashed potatoes were technically made by the lovely people at Country Crock. Microwavable. You should try them.

My Culinary Arts Chef would cry if he knew.

But I have BIG plans tonight. Aloha Chicken Kebabs – not prepackaged.

Then again…. We’ll see. It still stinks outside and yesterday I had to chew after I inhaled through my mouth.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Update for those who are wondering...

As I recommended yesterday, for the latest in the fire news, please visit:

They had over 9 million hits yesterday and the site crashed for a couple hours so either:

A.) I have a lot more readers than I thought

B.) A few people searched for the San Diego fires on Google or

C.) I hit 'refresh' 9 million times.

I'm guessing... C.

Here's the latest map with our homes on it...

For a bigger picture, click here

John and Lindsey are still close but they got the all clear to go home so we have reason to celebrate.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007


Hey all,

I've been pretty quiet as of late due to the fires. Fortunately all the family is safe. John and Mike are out fighting the fires and last we heard, they are doing well. This is exactly what they have been training for and we are all so proud of them.

For those who are out of town and don't have quite the news coverage, if you are interested in following the progress of the fire, I suggest you check the San Diego County Emergency homepage at:

They have all the latest evacuations.

Here's a map of the fire as of 5:30 AM. I put our families homes on there so you can kinda see where things are. It's hardly accurate (compared to the 12:30 AM map it moved A LOT in 5 short hours so you can imagine how much it's moved in 4 more) but it will give you an idea of where things are. Click here for the photo.

We'd really appreciate all your prayers, especially for John and Lindsey who are closest. What a way to start a brand new marriage huh? ; )


Wednesday, October 17, 2007


So I’m a little obsessive compulsive.

I may scrub our stainless steel kitchen sink with Comet, wipe it out with a towel, and then bleach it. But if I don’t… I get the occasional water spot!

I may plan out vacations a little too much. I may have created color coded Excel spreadsheet with three tabs (one for location, one for time and date of activities plus hours open, one for back up ideas) and the secondary sheet with travel warnings and tips from the U.S. Department of State.

I may have cried because we had to put a desk in our room and now the room looks ‘uneven’.

… OK, so maybe I’m a lot obsessive compulsive.

And our finances are no exception. Just think… if I’m obsessive about the things that don’t matter, I’m WAY worse with things that do matter.

So. You can imagine my surprise yesterday when we received a call I thought we’d never get. A call from…


‘This message is for Christopher, we have an urgent matter to discuss with you. We’re calling from Blankety Blank Collections, please call us immediately!’

Hoping and praying the call was from some jacked up peddler, I googled the number (I’m not stupid. Solicitors are sneaky turds) and…

It was a bon-a-fide collections company.

I left for school and called Chris in a panic.

‘Honey, you’ve got something in COLLECTIONS! Can you call them the second you get home!!??’

Oh but it didn’t stop there…I kept calling.


‘Hon, don’t give them your Social Security Number!’


‘Hon, don’t give them your credit card number!’


‘Don’t give them ANYTHING! You know what Jesus says, shrewd as… as… something or other!’


‘Tell them we want something in writing or an office address!’


‘HONNNNNEYYYY! Did you call yet?!?!?’

To which he exasperatedly said, ‘I’m on HOLD!! PLEASE STOP CALLING!’

Meanwhile, I’m breaking out in a cold sweat. I organize paying the bills – not because I’m a kind wife, I just really really like it. Spreadsheets and math? I’m like a kid in a candy store!

So if anyone is to blame when something goes terribly wrong… it’s ME!

I sat in class for the longest 5 hours ever.

As soon as class was over, I fumbled for my phone and frantically called Chris.

‘Honey, what was it? How much is it? Who is the bill from because I SWEAR I pay on time! You didn’t give them any information did you because if you did…’ I started.

Before a dug a hole too deep, Chris told me…

Same name, wrong person, wrong number.

Cheers to collections people. Thanks for making not only people with who can’t pay their bills miserable but also everyone else who shares their names.


Monday, October 15, 2007

THE wedding...

John and Lindsey got married this weekend!! YAY!!

The ceremony and reception were held at the Maderas Golf Course and it was BEAUTIFUL!!

I had the pleasure of serving as a bridesmaid so I wasn't able to take many photos... that and my camera battery was dying.

And this.... is about how we ALL felt at the end of the night!!!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

If you like Pina Colada…

I’m growing increasingly excited about this weekend but there is still a cloud hanging over my head.

Sure, John-E and Lindsey are getting married and I’m super stoked but as soon as that’s over I’m heading to…



Sorry to those who like Mexico, but my only experiences with Mexico have been crap.

I simply don’t enjoy paying off government employees in an effort to dodge being arrested and if I wanted to deal with gangs I’d simply take a short trip to South East San Diego.

If I’m going to throw myself through the dangers of foreign travel, I’d rather be wrongfully arrested and be able to say, ‘At least I got to see the Eiffel Tower!’ or ‘At least I got to tour the Louvre!’ but saying, ‘At least I got to haggle for this plaster Bart Simpson head piggy bank’ just doesn’t tickle my fancy.

And no taco is worth an $80 Baja bus fare and a 4+ hour drive.

But alas, I must go. In the event of my untimely death from ‘turf wars’, please bury me in the cheapest method possible – pine box… plastic wrap… tissue paper, whatever’s legal. I’m not afraid of worms.

Please be sure to identify my body. I’d hate to be sold to Venezuelan drug lords while a ‘medical use’ cadaver is buried under my headstone.

At least I have very good dental records.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

But I DID take a shower… yesterday.

Over the past few months, I’ve had a faint sewer smell that came and went in my office. I’d simply turn on my fan and the smell would go away.

Until this morning…

My office smells like a Tijuana sewage spill – the smell keeps going and going and going…

The office management people have been sniffing all around my office for the last hour.

Unfortunately the smell keeps getting worse.

Fortunately I
don’t feel much like eating so I may have a better chance of actually being able to breathe in my oh so tiny bridesmaids dress this weekend.

The office people left to check if maybe the potent stench was coming from outside. One of the guys came back inside and said, ‘Oh geez! Don’t leave and come back! It smells way worse than if you just stay here.’

Thank you?

At least they make me laugh.

I’m thinking a putting a bandana over my nose like the bank robbers of the Wild West. If people ask, I’m going to tell them I’m promoting Brad Pitt’s new Jesse James movie.

What woman wouldn’t nod in understanding?

By the way, we celebrated a girls night with Lindsey on Saturday. We went for dinner and dancing and had a really great time.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Lessons from a wino…

I’m really enjoying my wine class. It’s far more difficult than I expected – turns out, we aren’t there just to enjoy a good glass of wine. We actually have to know WHY it’s a good glass and dissect where it comes from based on totally obscure bits of information. But I thought I’d share what I’ve learned so far:

1 – I’m better at blindly identifying what microwave meal my co-workers are cooking than the amount of lychee or anise in a Barolo.

2 – When the people ask you what you smell and all you really want to say is, ‘I smell wine’, fake it.

For whites, say ‘apricots’. For reds, say ‘cherry with a hint of vanilla and spice’. Even if you’re totally wrong, people will think you’re brilliant – or at least my teacher thinks I am.

3 – There are such things as really bad wines. Trust me.

4 – I may actually get participation points for the first time in my life.

In all my years in school, I haven’t spoken unless called upon and I generally get low points in participation. But in this class, toward the fourth wine tasting, I find myself raising my hand… and saying I smell tar and tobacco in the Nebbiolo. Since when?!?!

5 – Saying you’re sorry is worth about 40 points.

I forgot about a test and bombed it. I wrote an answer for every question no matter how wrong I thought it was. For example, I wrote ‘Pig’s Bladder’ as a fining technique and for the question, ‘Why do whites not age as well as reds’ I wrote, ‘because they don’t hold up as well’. Two days later, I wrote a long letter of apology to my teacher saying I had ‘no on to blame but myself’ and ‘I hope this doesn’t reflect poorly on me as I AM here to learn’.

I passed the exam.

I love this class.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

There are some changes…

So our house wasn’t on Extreme Home Makeover (We would have applied but we figured the producers wouldn’t likely choose ‘Happy newlywedish couple seeks to make their house not icky’ over ‘Ex-crack whore mother of 13 seeks to make a better home in an effort to keep kids from becoming crack dealers’) but our house is looking pretty good - without their help.

We aren’t finished with the rest of the house, but I thought I’d share the before’s and after’s of our Master Bathroom.
He’s no Ty Pennington but he looks good in a tool belt and he did all the work himself…

Here's the before's (remember, some of these were taken before we moved in. The stuff all over the place isn't ours!):

Mop the floor often?!? Eww!

Yup. That'd be mold growing on the towel racks.

And they felt clean after washing their hands?!?!

Come on people! Cleaning supplies are cheap these days! There's no excuse!

Denture cream and a Cold Stone cup. Good Combo.

Chris tore the bathroom apart down to the studs. Speaking of studs, here's mine at work...

And THIS is our bathroom now:

Can't wait until the whole house is finished!