Monday, December 29, 2008

Winter traveling...

Ugh. Tomorrow, bright and early, we are taking off from Kalispell, heading to Spokane, the first leg in our trip home. I think for each year I get older, I get that much more anxious about traveling. Tomorrow should be a doozy. I don't even know how much snow Kalispell has, and Spokane has about the same, if not more. Eric practiced putting the chains on this morning, and I got the windshield fluid switched to the non-freezing kind. I'm expecting about a six-hour ride, the payoff being we get to go to the Tennessee/Gonzaga ladies basketball game, spend the night in a hotel, then do it all again the next day.

But I do remember fondly the days when I would hop in my little front-wheel drive tin can with a Diet Coke Big Swig and a king sized package of Twizzlers, maybe a bag or two of funsize Twix, around 5:00 in the afternoon and just drive until I was home.

Christmas was really nice. My biggest payoff was that I snuck and bought Alex the Samsung Gravity Lime phone she had sort of wanted back in November. We had decided not to get one, mainly because they were kind of expensive and that would have been pretty much the only thing she got for Christmas. Also, she wanted me to switch phone companies to Verizon, who apparently has cooler phones than T-Mobile. But when I checked into the current airtime plans, T-Mobile still has the best plans for us. (Also, I have a sentimental attachment to T-Mobile in that I was/am a big Jan Ulrich fan, who was a professional cyclist for the T-Mobile team - sue me, I can't help it, I miss him). Then I realized we got Eric's paycheck early, I still didn't have anything for Alex, and when I checked it out, T-Mobile did give me a discount.

She was SHOCKED. I had even been trying to prepare myself for the moment she opened her present from "Santa" and turned to me and said, "Oh, so I guess this means we don't get to switch to Verizon?" instead of looking all thrilled, which is what actually happened. It was totally cool. She spent the next four days texting her fool head off, which was okay because I was happy she was so happy. But I did have to mention to her that when I see a family in, say, Target and the daughter is walking along behind the rest texting, I always think to myself, "Ugh, nice family." So what I wanted from her is to please keep that in mind in the future when the new phone is not the coolest thing in the universe.

Anyway, we are heading home tomorrow, which will be nice to have a few days before things start up again. Usually we hang here until the last minute, but with the basketball game in Spokane, we've been planning on being home for New Year's when, I can assure you, I'll be in my bed by at least 10:00. A far cry from the days of my youth...

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Eve Angst

Today started out really nicely. My girls actually played Wii together and didn't fight. Then we headed to the mall for the Santa photo. Alex (my teenager) DID NOT want to get her picture taken. Samantha (my ultra-sensitive 7-year-old) DID NOT want to get her picture taken without Alex. Can you see where this is headed? Yes, well, we got a picture which may or may not include a scowling teenager barely peeking out from under her bangs.

Then came the real fun. The girls were supposed to go to the movie with their cousins, Carter and Max. Alex, I think, honestly didn't feel great (I think too much greasy pizza for lunch and too much teen attitude could do that to a person). I decided to give her a pass on the movie and let her go home and rest it out. See, Samantha's two cousins (albeit BOYS) were going to the movie also, and I still had two or three errands to run. Well, one thing led to another, and I ended up AT THE MOVIE with all four kids. I decided maybe two hours in a dark room might be just what I needed.

The movie improved my mood somewhat, but I was quickly reminded in the car on the way home of the lovely Christmas sentiments NOT floating around me all day, which threw me right back into a funk. I stewed about it for awhile as I wrapped presents, thinking to myself that, face it, I just am not a Christmas fan. Never really have been, and today certainly hadn't helped. Plus, I didn't get my errands done, so there were three potential presents out there that didn't make it home with me.

We went to church, which was okay. Both girls had seemed to be able to let it go and move on, so I decided to do the same. We came home, nothing special, two different kinds of leftovers for dinner. We had intended to hold a Wii bowling tournament, but never got around to it. We all just sort of ended up vegging out in the living room. The girls both opened a present, and they actually worked on Sam's present together.

I've never been the kind of person to have a grand scheme for how Christmas should go. Some years I decorate, some years not so much. I am reminded of a T.V. show called Roswell from a few years back, one of their Christmas episodes, where Isabel was nicknamed "The Christmas Nazi" and had a whole planner just for Christmas. She even had measurements and specifications on what the perfect tree should be. So this Christmas may not end up being the perfect, beautiful, be-all, end-all Christmas some people plan for. All I know is that even though I didn't get those other presents and even though parts of today definitely SUCKED, when it came right down to it and I just let it all melt away, we had a really nice evening. Knock on wood for tomorrow...

Monday, December 22, 2008

Clearing off my phone

From Jana:

There's not a snowball's chance in a cat scanner. (Big Bang Theory)

We have monkey. (It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia)

We risk losing the medical officer our landing party needs. (BBT)

From Alex:

The Godzilla clause? No, that's only if she destroys Tokyo. (BBT)

So in your world, you guys are the cool ones? Recognize. (BBT)

This is banana bread. This is a doorknob. (BBT)

Queen Penelope AFK. (BBT)

Go ahead, eat it. I dare you. (BBT)

I will open my present, then excuse myself due to digestion problems, look up her present online and choose the basket closest to her gift's price. (BBT)

Yeah, Sheldon, just do what Leonard did and get Penny a new boyfriend. (BBT)

From Me:

Aren't you supposed to be at work? I don't work on Mondays. It's Thursday. (BBT)

Well played, Penny. (BBT)

Penny, with great power comes great responsibility. Understood. (BBT)

Would you like to join me in a spirited day of questing, followed by a flagon of ale at yon pub? (BBT)

So what brings you to my little slice of hell? (BBT)

I have three words for you, Wrath of Khan. (BBT)

Not many women can look as hot as you do with such greasy hair... (BBT)

Normally I'm not turned on by big teeth, but on you, they work. (BBT)

Boy, you'd think you could trust a horde of Hungarian barbarians. (BBT)

Colmanaprocil - may cause dizziness, sexual nightmares and sleep crime. (30 Rock)

Supernatural words of wisdom: Always take down your Christmas decorations after New Years or you might get fileted by a hooker from god.

It's just understood that he is hot. You actually don't even have to say it. You can just say, "David Beckham," and people think, "Ahh, yeah." It's almost that he's too hot to even say it anymore. He's transcended the word hot.

Alex and I have started this sort of game in the car lately. We'll text each other Big Bang Theory quotes back and forth. It's pretty cool, for those of you who might not think so! So I have gotten less picky about keeping quotes on my phone, since we'll probably be texting them again soon.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Weekend Update

So after three snow days in a row, we were able to finally leave early on Friday and made it to Spokane in one piece. We would have actually left earlier, but the slack-asses at Walmart made buying two new tires into a two-hour ordeal for me. I have never seen four grown men, two overweight, two extremely not intelligent looking, do so much aimless wandering around. I seriously doubt they were entirely confident in what they were doing. When I finally left, I was even less confident in my car, until I drove on ice and could feel the difference.

Anyway, we had a really nice time in Spokane hanging out with the relatives. Aside from some unfortunate football (Grizzlies losing by a ton), a great time was had by all in the record-setting snowfall. It's such a blessing to have relatives, almost exactly half-way from Buckley to Kalispell, who we love spending time with. It cuts the trip nicely and we get to catch up with more family.

We left the next morning around 11:00 for Kalispell and decided to skip the passes (4th of July and Lookout) and head up through Sandpoint, Bonner's Ferry, Troy and Libby. A usual four-hour trip took six. It sucked and the driving was stressful, but we did get to see quite a few bald eagles, which is always amazing. This time they weren't busy eating dead dear, just floating nicely above the river...

There's a ton of snow in Kalispell - should be some great sledding later this week when it warms up! Watch out Hill of Death. That actually brings up sort of an ironic story. In Buckley when it snows, the kids grab sleds and run over to the cemetery where there are some slight inclines to sled down. At my mom's house in Kalispell, there's a humongous hill, aka The Hill of Death, and my brother-in-law has a four-wheeler he uses for pulling the kids back up the hill. Alex was sort of whining about having to spend all her vacation in Kalispell away from her friends and how she would miss out on sledding in Buckley. I made fun of her for choosing an incline over THOD. Then I sort of chuckled and said, Actually, it could be said that you like sledding on the Slight Incline of Death in Buckley, which is also ironic, being that it's an actual hill of DEAD people. Our neighbor told us that yes, once in a while you may hit a tombstone, but they don't hurt that badly.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Today's Post is not about Celtic Thunder!!

Surprise! I actually have something to talk about besides the Celtic Thunder concert! My brother, (who, incidentally, is in Iraq and has just been awarded the Bronze Star, which, apparently, they pass out like party favors over there - NOT - he's just trying to make it seem like less of a big deal), has been getting updates from his wife about his daughter's basketball career. So I had to send him an update about both of my daughters and their careers. So I thought I'd rehash it here, since it's fresh in my mind.

Alex is a starter on her middle school varsity team. While her team is not very good (I think it's safe to say they are probably in the bottom four in the league - we'll see tonight - could be bottom three), they have been steadily improving. My sister in Montana discovered that there is going to be a basketball clinic in Kalispell the day after we get there, run by the people who run the NBC camps, which if you count among your successes a pair of sisters who now play for Gonzaga and Tennessee, who faithfully attended the NBC camps, I'd say your track record is pretty decent. I was so excited to let Alex know the good news - she could attend the clinic in Kalispell! Great news. Except, no. What she said was, (and I quote, which is easy for me, being that I am a VERBATIM court reporter) "You mean I have to play basketball during my break?" That got me to thinking.

You know, if there's one thing that should be easy to teach your kids, it's about regrets. I will always regret that I quit playing basketball (especially since I was actually really good, second high point next to Mary Ann Andrews, who, let's face it, nobody could touch) in the 8th grade to try out for - wait for it - THE DRILL TEAM. HELLO. Where were my parents? And I didn't even make the drill team, thankfully. I'm sure I'd be wanting to kill myself had I MADE it. My family sort of went the opposite way that a lot of families do, I think. I was the first child, and my parents didn't have a clue what I was up to most of the time. I'll never forget when I was a senior and I brought home my grades and my mom said, "You're taking Calculus?" See, back then, there were only probably two classes of 10 my senior year that took calculus. It was kind of a big deal. I was an adequate student and a fairly responsible kid, so it really wasn't a big deal that my parents didn't take a bigger interest in what I was up to. By the time my sister came along, my mom knew what homework was due when and when all the quizzes and tests were.

But I digress. I will always regret that I quit playing basketball, and I wish there were a way to stress how cool it would be to be really, really good at it.

Samantha's team, I'm afraid, is not going to be very good at all. While she is probably the second best player on the team, she's a sensitive little girl. This is a co-ed league. And while I appreciate that we get really good coaches who teach kids not to travel and to dribble, there is always a thug on the teams we are playing who learns he can just grab the ball and run. Then there is usually also one boy on the other team (ours included) who has some skills and can run fast, dribble and makes most of his shots. But watching Samantha during practice, they will have her bring the ball down the floor. She will get about ten feet from half court and pass the ball off to the other kid. It's like she doesn't want the ball when they get past half court where all the other kids are.

In a way, I think it will be easier for Samantha to end up being really good at most everything Alex does. Alex is pretty good at the sports she participates in, and Samantha gets dragged along to watch. So she sees that it is cool that Alex is good. I just wish Alex wanted to be better. But I guess that's something she'll have to teach her kids someday, which they probably won't listen to either.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Celtic Thunder hangover

Ever since the concert, I find I'm listening to some of the songs I used to sort of skip over to get to my favorites. Now that I've seen them performed live, it's piqued my interest. Needless to say, CT is the only thing playing in my car lately, aside from yesterday when Alex grabbed the ipod and played some sort of rap thing, which was okay, but not when all I want to listen to is CT. It's like the last song you listen to in the car TOTALLY stays in your head all day until you get in your car and listen to a different song. Then that one stays in your head until the next time. It's a vicious cycle, really.

Today driving Samantha to school, we were listening to one of Damien's songs, and she said, Oh, is this Damien? I said, Yes, you know your Celtic Thunder. After a minute or so, she says, Turn it off! I don't want to listen to music! I got a little mad and said, This is my car, and I do! She said, No, if I listen to this, it gets stuck in my head all day. I said, This kind of music will probably help you at school, it's that good. She said, No, yesterday I almost couldn't write because all I could hear was that song. The thing is I know what she's talking about, so I did turn it off for her. Oh, well.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Celtic Thunder

I've seen dozens of concerts in my lifetime, and I can count the times on one hand where I honestly wouldn't have cared if the performers decided to come out and sing for two extra hours. Most of the time you hear the main hits and a few extras and think, Man, I'm tired. You participate in the encore clapping thing so you don't look like a wuss for wanting to go home early.

For Christmas this year, Jana and I decided to take our parents to the Celtic Thunder concert in Spokane on December 8th. Celtic Thunder is the male take on the Celtic Women concert show that plays on PBS all the time. They do show Celtic Thunder, although not as often as Celtic Women. Anyway, Celtic Thunder is made up of five awesome Irish singers. They sing a huge range of stuff, some Eagles, a lot of Irish classics, some Moody Blues, some Foreigner, even some Donny Osmond. They totally rule. We had the best time. Think a couple of EXTREMELY hot guys who can TOTALLY sing, a couple more REALLY good-looking guys who can TOTALLY sing, and a 16-year-old who one day is going to be GORGEOUS who can also TOTALLY sing. Then imagine they have these wicked accents. Now you know why my sister and I screamed ourselves hoarse while my parents, I'm sure, were sufficiently horrified, although transfixed by the awesome Irish guys singing away not 15 feet from where we were sitting. Merry Christmas to me...

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Thursday, December 4, 2008

What to do, what to do...

If you couldn't tell by my lack of posting the last week or so, I have been working a lot lately. I'm actually getting jobs done BEFORE the due date, which is more or less unheard of, but it's happening. I am staying on top of stuff like never before, partly because it's so nice to have a steady stream of work, and partly because I don't want to have to take a bunch of work to Montana for Christmas.

Right now I'm taking a break from a transcript that is due tomorrow, one that I will have out today. I've worked in bankruptcy court for 16 years now, so I feel like a pretty good judge of most of my regular attorneys. I can think of only a handful that I really don't like. I mean, I even like the one who wrote a nasty 5-page letter to the judges saying he shouldn't have to pay the $700 bill to us because his client can't pay him and that we shouldn't be allowed to require COD from him on future orders and that he was going to do everything in his power to get us removed from the job the next time the contract came up for rebid. That was probably ten years ago, and for some strange reason, I still kind of like him. I don't want to, but I know what kind of attorney he is and I do respect him.

The attorney I'm working for now is one who I did a transcript for last year, a particularly tricky job involving a Hawaiian bankruptcy and a debtor who owned multiple properties there, which were all referenced over and over, which I took the time to log on to the Hawaiian bankruptcy site and look up how to spell all of the attorneys from Hawaii and the addresses. She actually emailed me and told me I had done a beautiful job and that she had never seen such a nice 341 hearing transcript. So needless to say, she is at the top of my list as far as wanting to do a GREAT job for her.

My problem is this. She says in one part of the transcript that some declarations were signed by the people involved saying "unexplicitively and unequivocably" that they didn't knowingly withhold any emails. Now, I think most people not even involved in proof-reading (maybe I'm wrong) would know or at least think that "unexplicitively" is not a word. Not even close. Although unexplicitly is closer to a real word, and technically I could probably get away with leaving it that way, it's clearly not what she was meaning. I totally do not want to make this attorney feel dumb or anything, but in this new age of CD's and parties being able to order CD's and, if they so choose, compare the audio CD to my transcript and, also, if they so choose, make a stink about it to someone if I leave something out, we have to really be careful. But how ridiculous is that to think that someone, either someone representing someone who is close to losing everything or someone who is losing everything, would honestly take the time to order a CD for $26 and sit and compare it to my transcript? And even if they did, nothing hinges on that word anyway. It doesn't change a thing in the case. But we are supposed to transcribe VERBATIM, so it's really hard to let it go.

But thank you for letting me talk it through. I am waiting for a call from my "Ms. Lillian's" expert, but I'm pretty sure I'm going to just leave that word out. I do beautiful transcripts, after all!

UPDATE: I just spell-checked unequivocably, and that's not a word either. I decided to leave out unexplicitively and change unequivocably to unequivocally. Case closed.