Life is still good

Every year since 2011 my kids and I have attended the Life is Good conference in Vancouver, Washington.  As a stay-home mom conference was a refreshing time when my ex and I could theoretically “share” parenting responsibilities, which meant I’d have time to socialize with the women.  This year, however, since I’ve been working full time, I’m mostly looking forward to just hanging out with my kids.  Sure, I’ll get some mom-time with the ladies, but most of our itinerary involves funshops and games and a field trip to OMSI, exploring Portland and Vancouver and other fun times.  My mom is out of town this week for a family reunion so I cut down my work schedule a bit and I’ve been spending more time at home. Preparing for conference (without spending a fortune) means cooking.  We’ve laid out an entire week’s worth of meals and snacks and I’ve been kitchening like crazy, packaging up everything we’re going to need in order to keep from starving to death or eating out in desperation.  Eating out is NOT IN THE BUDGET. It’s just not.
Continue Reading

Click here to like GypsyMom.com on Facebook

Seattle Staycation For Spring Break

With 2 “grown” kids and 4 younger ones still in the house, life is busy. I brought my mom out to live with us a few months ago and she’s been an enormous help, giving me the time I need to be a good employee (Still can’t believe I’m working for someone else these days). In fact, after less than 3 months with the company, I was promoted to store manager. I could NOT have done that without knowing my mom was here to help with the girls.

But Mom needed a break and went on a trip over Spring Break, so I brought my oldest out to visit for a few days and changed my work schedule a little bit so that we could have somewhat of a Spring Break. We had a blast. Here’s a sampling of our adventures over our Spring Break Staycation:
Continue Reading

Click here to like GypsyMom.com on Facebook

Such a fine line…

I’ve been working at an adorable little independent boutique grocer in Seattle. It has the high quality grocery items you’d expect to find in an upscale store, with the vibe of an old country general store.  I’m surrounded by fun people who are working hard to create something awesome for the neighborhood. I’m inspired by the owner and her story as well as by the determination, skills and personalities of my coworkers. It’s been great.conesteiner

My main goal when seeking employment was to be able to move to Seattle, to meet new people, to interact with other adults in real life on a regular basis, and to be part of something cool and fun.  I’ve met all of those objectives. Life is good. So many people idealize the experience of being self-employed and working from home.  Yes, it was fun and awesome and I definitely could make my own hours and work in my pajamas but that really got old after a few years and I needed more social interaction.

 

We’re in Pioneer Square, a neighborhood that’s undergoing a major identity explosion lately, a new residential building has nearly doubled the amount of people who call this place home and several new restaurants and shops have turned it into more of a destination. Two years ago, hardly any of these places were in business, the building construction had just begun.  They’re building another in an adjacent lot now, right in front of the stadium.

 

seattle homelessBeing surrounded by the area’s homeless is often an adventure. I know each one of them has their own story about how they came to live on the streets and I don’t envy a single one of them.  Still, when a young man (under 25 I’d say) popped into the store ten minutes before closing, ranting about the laws of the Universe and banging his head on the counter, I was a little freaked out. His tone was more positive than negative, which was comforting, but still, the content was awkward because the nature of it was woowoo spirituality and the sentences never really ended: “I know times are tough right now but I have faith, I mean, I know things come around and…” Usually an ellipse stands for missing words that trail off but these sentences just ended and another one started right up. “You wouldn’t believe some of the hard times I’ve had, it’s just… And I don’t even know sometimes how things work out they just…  All you gotta do is smile and know that this moment will pass because no matter… Are those peanuts?”

While my coworker was chatting with the guy, I slipped into the back to dial up the building security guard.  I didn’t feel like I was in danger, but I wouldn’t have been surprised if the situation turned quickly.

Plus, I had recently had a serious talk with myself about personal safety.  After getting off my morning bus one day last week, I accidentally intervened in a police situation with an angry homeless man threatening to slice a cop’s throat with razorblades and I PROMISED my friend I’d never try to be a badass again.  (Intervening consisted of offering the guy a cigarette and verbally sympathizing with him, encouraging him to walk away.  Not superhero stuff but still, kind of dumb)

When the security officer arrived, he began to talk about the cycles of the moon and how “for some reason because of the way the planets are aligned,  the craziness of people hasn’t died down.”  Apparently it goes in cycles and “everything will be peaceful until all hell breaks loose and then they calm down again for a while until next time.”  Normally. But this particular current planetary alignment is affecting that process, so “God only knows when this will end.”

As I offered him a drink and thanked him for coming so quickly, I had to weigh whether or not it was fair to have the uniformed person in a similar mental state as the homeless guy. Also, I wondered which of these two people I’d rather be alone in a room with.  Who was dangerous? Who was safe?  It was weird. I think I’m more curious about the homeless man’s life story than I am about the security guard’s philosophy of human nature.  I need to read up on ways to casually engage in conversations with people on the edge without endangering myself.  Has anyone written a book called “How to talk to homeless people?”

 

 

Click here to like GypsyMom.com on Facebook

7 Tips for How to Drive With The Progressive Snapshot Device

progressive-snapshot


I recently switched my family’s car insurance from Geico to Progressive. First of all, I really like the snarky Flo a lot more than the gecko. Second, the rate they offered me was more than $50 cheaper.  The hitch was that I had to install their spy device into my car’s data port so they could measure my driving skills.  I’m nearly 40, I don’t have any accidents in the past 20 years and I think I have 2 speeding tickets, but nothing reckless or crazy. So I’m thinking my driving skills are damned good.

The gadget measures “hard braking” and when it arrived and I read the documentation I wasn’t really concerned.  I couldn’t recall a time when I’ve slammed on the brakes and I don’t make a habit of following too closely because I totally don’t ever want to rear end anyone and so far it’s been working so I’m thinking this will be a cinch.  I’ve got this. Apparently their gadget disagrees.  Here are the new driving skills I have learned from progressive:
Continue Reading

Click here to like GypsyMom.com on Facebook

In Defense of Magical Mothering

I simply MUST respond to a recent article on Huffington Post by Bunmi Laditan, author of the book The Honest Toddler; A Child’s Guide to Parenting  titled “I’m done making my kids’ childhood magical

I think the main point of this article is that we shouldn’t stress ourselves out to create memories with our kids because we don’t know WHAT they’re likely to remember and because kids enjoy life anyway. As she says, “Seeing the world through innocent eyes is magical.” And “magical” here isn’t a reference to any woowoo spirituality. It’s just referring to the way kids see things. “It is not our responsibility to manufacture contrived memories on a daily basis.”
Continue Reading

Click here to like GypsyMom.com on Facebook

Being all of the things

be1
I got my cosmetology license when I was 16, through a vocational program offered at my high school. Then I decided I wanted to go to school to teach.  Motherhood, lack of financial aid knowledge (seriously, I wish someone had just told me how easy it was to fill out the forms. I didn’t even know there were forms) and actually working in a salon and as a substitute teacher put an end to my college days back then, but not to my career.

Or, should I say, careers. I was a Tupperware lady, an Avon lady and an Usborne Books representative (more than once). I had my own business publishing newspaper-style birth announcements, I self-published a local newspaper for parents (Yakima Family Times) and my ex husband and I ran a small chain of restaurants.  At another time, we also ran a business renting out a camera crane to the motion picture industry in Southern California. I have worked as a waitress, a used car salesperson and a pre-school teacher in 2000 and again in 2012. I helped a friend start her business training people in social media marketing and I worked as a web designer and in social networking. I once painted thrift-shop furniture and made a crazy profit at resale.
Continue Reading

Click here to like GypsyMom.com on Facebook

FOX Cosmos Lesson Plans

Ann Druyan, Carl Sagan’s widow has helped create lesson plans for kids using the new Cosmos series with Neil DeGrasse Tyson. These are supposed to be for middle school grades and they’re a fine resource.  In my house, we’re more self-directed.  Maddy (10) and Grace (8) are very interested in the show. We DVR it and they tend to take notes, pause so they can look things up and mute the commercials to talk about what’s on the screen. Don’t be intimidated if you ave really small kids, the lesson plans are more like discussion guides.  I like that I can print them and stick them to the fridge so the kids can see the keywords for things they might want to look up after the show. I’m not really an advocate for forcing an interest where there is none, but you’ve got to admit that the universe is pretty freaking amazing.
Continue Reading

Click here to like GypsyMom.com on Facebook

Like the Hobos of the Sea

cargoI just read an article called Secret Tourism: Traveling the World on a Freight Ship and it seems so awesome. I mean- the idea of a cruise, where everyone is stuck on the boat and maybe the food is included but isn’t it all the same and everything is social but do you really WANT to be social with all those people? And forced gratuities…. just didn’t seem like something I was terribly interested in except for the fact that it would be an experience and something I can say I’ve done.  SO I still might do it.  But this, THIS sounds so much more adventurous. I’ve bookmarked the three websites she links to for more information but I’m saving them here mostly for my reference, but you can check them out too:
Continue Reading

Click here to like GypsyMom.com on Facebook

Moving to the City, Dagnabbit

Right now we’re living 2.5 hours East of Seattle and 3.5 hours NE of Portland. The town is called Yakima. Maybe you’ve seen the episode of iCarly where Carly’s Grandfather comes to visit from Yakima. Yes, that’s us.

I’d like to move to the city.

For the past eleven years I’ve been holding out hope that eventually we’d move out of this town but so far it hasn’t happened yet.

Not for lack of trying, though. In 2008 I actually signed a lease on a house in Tacoma and paid a deposit and we never moved in. That decision was made by my ex husband, who thought it would be better to build a third restaurant without a contract and not get paid for his time and energy. Instead of moving to a bigger city, we ended up moving to a dilapidated house in the country, 12 miles from town.  In his defense, he didn’t know that the lack-of-contract would have such disastrous results.
Continue Reading

Click here to like GypsyMom.com on Facebook

Renting Weird Spaces

Surely you’ve heard of AirBnB.com, right?  This is the website where you can rent a furnished apartment in <insert name of city> just for the night or a treehouse or a log cabin or a house on stilts or even a private island. Just for the night, or the weekend, or the duration of your trip.

If you’re not into traveling, you can use these websites as a second (or primary) source of income, by hosting travelers. I have a friend who lives in Portland who keeps her studio apartment listed on AirBnB and whenever she gets a renter, she just packs up her son and spends the night at Grandma’s house.
Continue Reading

Click here to like GypsyMom.com on Facebook