My Calendar System

Holy 2009. WTNewman happened to the year? Sigh, this is such a reminder of getting old. The years are going by faster, they're blurring together, and I'm wondering how blue gray hair will look on me. Help me Rhonda, help me. I want my year back.

Forget the year. I want the freaking decade back. I want my NSYNC cd, I want my letterman's jacket back (it made Friday dressing so much simpler), I want my title as "That Girl" back. I've noticed lately that I'm "That Lady". This does not sit well with me. This is not the same or in anyway similar to becoming a "Big Kid" halfway through elementary school. That was joy. This is me writing my eulogy.

It has been quite a year, hasn't it?

Since numbers ain't working for me (numbers imply age, age implies kill me) and I'm not about to learn the Chinese calendar, we'll go for calling 2009 "The year of the blog". Or "The year Susie got publicly annoying". Or better "The year 5 people read about Susie's life and looked the other way".

Sigh. Maybe this isn't the year of just the blog. It was a big year for us, banner, if you will. But what sums it up? Too much to choose from.

Perhaps "The Year of the House".
We found out that house painting is the worst idea ever and is grounds for divorce.
We found out that arborvitaes can be personified. Bless his soul. I miss him more each day.
We found out that Chuck can take a joke, ride it too far, and bury it into the ground.
**Actually that's a lie. I knew he did that before I married him. Nan put it in the release form I had to sign stating that I "knew what I was getting myself into".

Maybe it's "The Year of Lucy".
Loved her at birth.
Loved her at Nordstrom.
Loved her on photoshoots.
She has changed everything. Except her own diaper. She should work on that.

I tried to lobby for "The Year Twilight came into My Life", but Chuck wouldn't even dignify that suggestion with a response. It changes nothing. I'm still leaving him for Edward.
I also suggested "The Year We Decided to Have a 2053" but Chuck didn't feel it was enough of a catch-all for our whole year.

Maybe it doesn't need a name. Maybe I should just let this go. No. Wait. "Let this go". That doesn't sound like me at all.

2009. It just was. Really, when I think about it, it was The Year of Us. The year Chuck and I got back to being us after spending two years in airline purgatory, and you know what was great about 2009? No one ever said "I wish Chuck could have been here". He didn't miss anything. Come to think of it, maybe I miss that...

We got to be us this year and we got to share it with all 5 of you. And we thank you for that. For putting up with our antics. For humoring us. For acknowledging what I've long suspected that it isn't normal what goes on around here.

Happy New Year.
See you in 2010.

Nan-made objects

My sister-in-law is more creative than your sister-in-law. I guarantee it -- Men's Wearhouse style.

My sister-in-law is Nan. She's a bit artistic, a bit vintage, and a bit of a hipster (she hates being called a hipster. She's going to kill me in an obscure way that you've probably never heard of for even saying/typing that -- worth it). But it's all true. If you were to compare Nan and Shelley on the sister scale, I'd place Shelley at "cool" and Nan at "chic". I'm somewhere between "lame" and "last year", in case you were keeping score.

Back to Nan. Nan makes "things". Objects: Nan-made objects. Get it -- handmade. Nan-made. Ugh, apparently bad puns run in the Allison bloodline. Lucky for my 2053 offspring. It's taken a few years of "why aren't you selling these" and "when are you going to open a store", along with some light brow-beating, to get us to where we are with Nan today.

Nan has finally set-up shop. Well, kind of. Nan's in the process of opening a store on The store exists. Phase two is pictures of products. Phase three is excessive inventory because Nan's objects will sell. Then she'll open web doors officially.

Just to give you a warm-up, a preview, I thought I'd post some of her amazingness on the blog. A little because it's cool stuff. A lot because I'm proud. She's finally doing it.'Bout time.

Hair pins.

Brooches for sweaters, jackets, or to wear in your hair.

Vintage fabric and Pendleton wool coffee cozies. Because those cardboard ones aren't reusable. And these are. Plus they're cute. Really cute.

Moving away from her products to just general creativity: It'd be nice, in a perfect world, if Nan could tone down the creativity for Christmas. At least give me a fighting chance. My hope had always been that the artistic gene was genetic through osmosis, but after 8 year, I've given up. I suck. She presents presents just a tad better (hope you enjoyed reading that sentence. Little literary humor. Your Mis-Reading=My Pleasure: To Susie, From Susie).

Bread and butter pickles. Orange cranberry sauce.

Salted lavender short bread.

And her gifts were wrapped like this:

Oh yes, she made the poms. Hey Nancy, my present next Christmas would be for you to wrap with a blindfold on, one hand behind your back, hopping on your left foot, and utilizing NO tape. There. That'd level the playing field.

I'll let you know when Nan goes public with more bells and even more obnoxious whistles. Trust me. I can do worse than this. Much worse.

First Christmas.

Unbelievable. We made it a year. Last Christmas seems like a lifetime ago. Chuck and I lived in a 2-bedroom claustrophobic death trap. Referring to houses as "the ship's wheel place" was still a joke (simpler times). And Shelley was laying on the living room floor like a beached whale. Memories. Like the corners of my mind.

It's a little different 'round here now.

First Christmas with Lucy was perfect. She opened her gifts -- Yo Gabba Gabba dolls and a stroller for her babies (she's a doting mother) -- but she was much more interested in our gifts. She's apparently a big fan of iPhones, camera flashes, and flight simulator. Who knew?

Oh, Dolly. A year in two weeks.

Her first Christmas in pictures (by her obnoxious Aunt/Best Friend):

I wish I could kindly apologize for the pictures, but no. I won't do it. Lucy is a Christmas Miracle. Playing paparazzi to her cute mug is well within my realm as obsessive Aunt.

Now this one. This one is joy. Someone loves her Uncle very much and has him a bit wrapped around her finger. They were flying around the kitchen. Chuck is mid-airplane. Lucy is mid-giggle.

To be expected.

If you honestly thought Santa pictures would be taken seriously around here, you honestly should stop reading. Be real.

Shelley is set on making Christmas a fun-no pressure holiday for Lucy -- right down to the dreaded Christmas card pictures. While other parents painstakingly picked out and purchased velvet red dresses, Shelley was doing her own version of said ritual.

So, off Lucy and Shelley went to Mecca (Bellevue Square). Lucy in her favorite ballerina tutu and, oh yes, her Yoda Hat. No pressure, Lu. Just have fun with it. That's your mother's legacy.

Seriously. To be expected.
Merry Christmas from Lucy to You!!!
(oh and I guess from Chuck and Me, too)

The Pioneer Woman + Susie = BFF

Ok, so that may be going a little far, a slight hyperbole, but whatevs.

A photo I took was picked by The Pioneer Woman again and had to share the news with you, again. You know me -- super psyched, super humble, as always.

PW asked for favorite Black and Whites and I had no choice but to submit my two favorites in a black and white. I'm sure that's what she meant. Anyhoo, I made group 5 -- pretty sinking exciting to see Shelley's smiling mug on The Pioneer Woman's web site.

Here's the screen shot:

Here's the link: The Pioneer Woman Photography

Thanks for any amount of care you can give to this. However small it may be...


Let's talk about life moments that I've cherished with Lucy:
First giggle.
Mobility in her first walker.

But now, it all means nothing because I missed the biggest life moment of all:
First shoe purchase from Nordstrom.

Sigh. I'm so disappointed. So distraught. I come home and find out that while I was at the Happiest Place on Earth, Shelley and Lu were at the Happiest Place in Bellevue. And I missed first shoe buying day. Ugh.

Fe decided that Lucy need shoes. Real shoes. Real baby Adidas shoes. Pink, of course. Nordstrom was apparently fabulous about the first shoe purchase (I wouldn't know first hand -- I wasn't there. You can spell bitter: S-u-s-i-e.). Lu got a Nordie doll, a balloon, and her picture taken. Not by my camera, of course, because I WASN'T THERE.

Today, Fe and I took Lucy back to the Mother Land for lunch and some last minute shopping (and by shopping, I mean buying Aunt Sister a new pair of boots to make the hurt go away).

Someone did not want to be confined to the stroller.

Oh no. She can do this on her own. I sang Miss Independent as she marched. Did I forget to mention that we started walking almost immediately after shoe purchase? I know. She's amazing. And I'm still more upset about missing first shoes than first steps. I have my priorities in order.
See? BIG steps for a BIG girl.
We took Lucy to the third floor play area. Holy, wow. I was overstimulated. She, however, loved it.

She was not interested in waiting up for me. I was left in the dust.

Lucy also met a baby and loved her. We're very into pointing these days and baby Kate got a lot of points.

Someone got a little faklempt watching all the big toddlers run around, but got it back together and sprinted (more like hobbled) after them.

Isn't she the best?
Isn't she amazing?
Isn't she going to have a time opening her presents Friday?
Now that's a first I won't be missing.

When planes are delayed.

We attempted to hop on a plane at LAX with a dream and a cardigan. It did not go as planned.

Our plane was delayed 3 hours because fog in San Fransisco trapped our flight crew. Apparently, you need one of those to fly the plane home. I offered Chuck's services but was rejected. Honestly, how hard can it be to fly an Airbus? Most the time those don't even fly, they just glide into rivers so it's not like Chuck would be up against strict competition. Whatevs.

We needed entertainment. It was 5+hours of sitting, contemplating leg-amputation because we hurt so bad from Disneyland, and wondering if sleeping in the rental car would've been a better choice.

We came up with a few things.
First, we photoshopped some of our favorite Disneyland pictures. I showed Mark the ropes (and successfully converted another victim to the Photoshop cult) so he took the lead. Kid's got vision. And now I know this kind of behavior/humor is genetic from the Allison-side, which really makes you wonder about Baby 2053.

Our creations:

Once we'd finished photoshopping, we settled a little bet. Not so much a bet, as much as Mark running his 14-year-old mouth and needing an education. Mark had never heard of the "gallon milk in an hour" impossibility. He had also never heard of "6 Saltines in a minute". In his teenage greatness, Mark assured us he could drink 2 gallons in an hour and at least 12 Saltines in a minute. Milk was not available in that quantity in an airport. Saltines. however, are.

Mark learned a lot on Monday.

First, hand sanitizer from Momma Janelle.

Next, he lined up his Saltines.

I intervened and deemed Mark a cheater before even beginning.

Look at this Saltine? That's not regulation quality. A whole substitute was selected in its place.

Chuck ran the timing station. This needed to be official.

Let the games begin:
Mark learned that this was easier said than done. It took him three tries and 400% of his daily sodium intake. He was determined to win and I appreciate this level of commitment and dedication to victory. We called it a success when he downed six in 1minute 2seconds. Not perfect, but we were impressed. I don't see 12 happening any time soon...

So, we celebrated Mark's semi-triumph with a photoshopped collector's item (putting our two games into one):
And that concludes Disneyland 2009.
80 hours.
1 bathroom incident.
3 hour plane delay.
12 hours to sleep the non-restful vacation off.

I'd do it again in a heart beat.


We went to Disneyland. We came. We saw. We conquered. We got locked in a bathroom. Well, ok, only I got locked in a bathroom (because only I could), but whatever. It was quite a vacation. It was one of those moments in time where you actually think, "I will remember this forever". And I know I will.

We took Chuck's only Allison cousins, Mark and Janelle (fabulously 14 and 17), and basically we took the opportunity to revert back to their respective ages for the four days. Because, let's be honest, Chuck and I are also about 14 and 17 respectively so, yeah, not such a big stretch.

The vacation was too much. Too much fun. Too much ridiculousness. Too much to blog. What I did was put together photo collages for each of us. Take a look. Click to enlarge. Jot down a few notes (because we do Disneyland right). LOL and I'll BRB (there was a LOT of texting when you take a 14 year old out of state -- I'm trying to adjust out of text speak).

We may have spent years together as a family, but let me tell you -- the things you learn about people when you go on vacation with them.

For example, Janelle is a better, more responsible parent than I am. She brought a backpack filled with snacks and an emergency kit. She made us use hand sanitizer before each meal. She made sure Mark slept with his retainer in. I got locked in a bathroom and cried when I saw Belle. Janelle is a beautiful mother for Chuck and Me.

And then there's Mark. Mark has too many friends. Mark is always "on". You may have noticed Mark's photo collage was a little full. It was hard to keep up with Mark's posing. Mark is also 14. Mark would ditch us in a hot second to ride by himself (in the much faster single rider line), Mark answered his cell phone during the loop-de-loop, Mark was awesome.
Janelle, bless her soul, has dealt with said awesomeness for 14 years and is immune to Mark "putting out the vibe". See completely candid photo example.

And I'd say that's the game. We rocked Disneyland. We exploited the single rider program and destroyed fast passing. We made it happen. Because Disneyland, as Mark and I decided, is a giant life game. Winning isn't everything, it's the only thing. And we brought it.

If you'd like to see the other 261 pictures that I took, I'd be more than happy to arrange that. See, while on the airplane, I had Mark and Janelle sign a completely non-binding napkin explaining that they understood any and all shenanigans would be put on the blog. They bought their tickets. They knew what they were getting themselves into.

Be thankful that I paired this down (somewhat) and put your game face on for round 2 later tonight: What to do with teenagers in an airport when you're plane is delayed 3 hours.

How I got locked in a bathroom.

Last night, I was locked in a hotel bathroom and maintenance had to kick the door down to save me. I am not joking. You know me. You know this is entirely within the realm of my life's possibility.

I just felt like it was better to lead with the punchline.

Now let's begin.
We are in Anaheim.
We are going to Disneyland.
We are here without real parents, but somehow in the custody of Chuck's cousins, Mark and Janelle. I introduced you to them here -- so don't think I'm being rude by not focusing on them.

We got to our hotel around midnight. We were tired. I was fussy. I needed pajamas a-sap. All I did was go into the bathroom to change. All I did was shut the door. I even thought to myself "I'm not even going to bother locking the door -- who's going to come in?"

That was the last time I would see Janelle and Mark's beautiful, angelic faces for the next horrifying 30 minutes. I was stuck. The knob had jammed. My first instinct was to call 911. Precious cargo was trapped. Get the jaws of life.

Instead, Mark tried with all his might (which I doubt a little because it is Mark and he would a little bit want me to stay stuck).

Chuck decided not to call the SWAT team as I had requested, but instead called hotel management, who laughed, and asked if I knew how to use a door knob. Chuck said it was debatable, but never-the-less, I was stuck.

The issue, I would later determine, was that the lock was stuck in the purgatory land between un- and locked. Believe it or not, I had some time on my hands to stare at a lock.

It took the workmen two trips and two set of tools before they finally gave up.

And kicked the door down.

I was saved.

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