Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Potty and Professional Miracles

OK-- In a few blogs, I'll be off the potty training subject. I promise. We are so excited to announce that Cameron pretty much has the #1 thing down pat. Sure, he's already figured out that the sure-fire way to get our attention of late is to announce that he has to go potty, and sure he likes to flush about 16 times after we've dumped and said "bye-bye" to his pee-pees... but we're pretty sure he GETS it. Case in point: he went potty at Mark's office. Tonight. Without his Sesame Street padded/fitted butt ring adapter. Very cool.

#2... we're still working on that. Do you think the internet will still be around when Cameron's a teenager and we can embarras him with these blogs?

On a completely unrelated subject, does everyone know I've resigned my position with the Red Cross? I have had the distinct pleasure to get to know a fantastic gal by the name of Shannon Polk, who works for a company called World Financial Group. She helped us with the construction loan on the new house, and halfway through the process jokingly mentioned that I should go to work for her. I seem to remember my response was something along the lines of "don't tempt me." A-la Peanut Butter Sandwiches and two months later, I've resigned my position and will in fact go to work for WFG as an associate, with Shannon as my Provisional and soon to be Marketing Director. I will very much miss the pace and the rewarding work I've been doing at the American Red Cross for the past five years. I will also very much miss the team I've worked with and those I've come to consider my friends. But I've finally decided to begin working smarter, not harder, and found the company with which to do that. In addition to the tremendous earning potential, my day can be flexible and I can meet my family's needs as I persue new and exciting career opportunities at the same time.

In my short time here on this earth, I've at least learned that people come into our lives and doors open at particular moments in time for a reason. When Hurricane Katrina blew into my professional life just at the time when I was beginning my path into Associate-hood with WFG, I realized that if I continued to work full-time for the Red Cross there was always going to be an emergency or there was always going to be a disaster that would demand more of my attention than I am willing to give and that would set me back in my day-to-day activities so that I couldn't get my work done in a timely and efficient manner. That's just the nature of emergency work. Quite honestly, I'm tired. I've given the organization the best and most productive five years of my life. The organization, in return, has been good to me. So as to not leave it in its greatest time of need, I hope I can continue on until October 31 by which time my replacement should be up and running and somewhat initiated into Red Cross ways and means. But I was with the Red Cross after 9-11 and saw what a combination of donor fatigue, some damaging media coverage and a relatively low-key local director did to our contributions and revenue generation. In short, I can see the challenges that lie ahead for our local office and I just don't have the energy and the strength that will be required to battle the future fiscal storms. So I'm throwin' in the towel.

I'll explain more about WFG in later blogs (maybe some blogwatchers will pick it up and spread the good word...) so stay tuned.

More great news: we have our building permits. Finally! The sooner we get going on construction, the less of an impact Katrina will have on our schedule and costs. I can't believe how much she's impacted our little lives here in Bend... careers to construction costs to childhood friends. Amazing.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Potty Training 100. Yes, we're going backwards here.

If Potty Training 101 can be described as "making sure your child is ready," surely Potty Training 100 surely should have been "make sure the parents are ready." Jeromy and I missed that class somewhere along the way. We sure weren't ready for this.

How is it possible that you can place your child on the $28 Baby Bjorn potty contraption with removable pee-pee receptacle and fancy pee shield, sit there and read the Dora Potty Book and Once Upon a Potty five times each, then watch your child announce that he's done, pull up his pants, walk four feet to the east and pee his pants? Right in front of you? Gosh.


So, we're three days into what Ruth promises to be two weeks of hell. Jeromy is self-medicating with Copenhagen, I'm self medicating with Rice Krispie treats from Costco. We'll keep you posted on our goings on from the potty front lines.

On a slightly different note, I resigned from my job today. I am very anxious to begin my career in the mortgage/financial planning and securities business but was hoping to be able to hold out until the end of the year. Hurricane Katrina had other plans for me, and while I know she's devastated so many others' lives, she put too much stress on my organization-- an organization already suffering from too little staff, too little momentum and too little money. My job has become increasingly frustrating in the last six/nine months and this disaster exacerbated shortcomings already tearing at our weakened structure. So as to not leave my organization in its greatest time of need, I'll hopefully be staying on until October 31 but will wait for word from my ED on that.


Monday, September 19, 2005


Ruth Crawmer summed it up for me today: it's not potty miracle. It's potty training. After having gone several weeks with a dry overnight diaper and having now gone two weeks at Crawmers' showing enough interest in the whole potty process to warrant attention, Russ and Ruth approached me late last week with a new idea: potty training Cameron.

My reply: "sign me up. If you're that motivated, I'm on board."

So, we showed up today with a diaper on but enough clean underpants to clothe the entire Crawmers' group. I'm new to this whole parenting thing, so I thought I would let the professionals take over from square one. When I arrived to pick Cameron up at day's end, he was on his third pair of shorts and underpants for the day. The second pair of underpants went the way of the garbage can, but reports indicate that he did tinkle in the potty. Once.

In our several stops this evening, I made sure to put him on every potty available with no results. I limited his water intake as much as possible in our travels, but forgot the golden rule:
if he hasn't gone in more than three hours, really, really get him on the potty whenever you can. Sadly, Cameron had his fourth accident of the day in our driveway while mommy visited with the neighbors and fell completely off task. But hey... I'm in training too, right?

The Second Bi-Annual Haima Family Reunion

As many of you know, Jeromy's family is, well, huge. Compared to mine (twenty members at best), Jeromy can credit nearly 100 immediate-family on both sides of his family tree. This past weekend, we were lucky enough to visit and reunite with more than sixty of them at the Second Bi-Annual Haima Family Reunion, held at the Hallmark Inn in Newport, Oregon.

This is a must-attend event, if only to witness Grandparents playing beach volleyball, Larry Haima trying his hand at backwards auctioneering ("whaddya think we outta start this out at?... Fifty Bucks?... Forty?... Thirty?...) or waiting for the Top Ten List of Things you Don't Want to hear at a Haima Family Reunion (number seven: "um... did you get the memo? Grandma isn't paying this year. Number five: Go Ducks! Number Three: hey, look at my plumber's crack. Number One: Grandma's got a new boyfriend and she's bringing him to next year's event)

Grandma and Grandpa had six children, those children had children, and now those children have children. We lost grandpa in '02, and the first Family Reunion was held a year after his passing and included a touching Memorial Service for him the Sunday morning we all departed. This year, everyone was present but one of Jeromy's cousins and his young family, citing conflicts and travel from Oklahoma. With an eight-month-old. We can relate and empathize entirely. While Charlie, Melissa, Charlie III and baby Julia were missed, the rest of us visited and laughed enough for all of them. Friday night's events opened with a delicious dinner (Grandma joked that she slaved away all day in the kitchen...) and was followed immediately by a giant family picture (kudos to Nicole Roth for wrangling 60+ family members onto a staircase in the lobby) and then the famous family auction, the proceeds from which will go to '07's celebration.

Saturday kicked off with breakfast at Georgie's, the embarassing Beaver game in Louisville Kentucky, a walk on the beach for Cameron and I while Jeromy and Grandpa Gail traumatized themselves by watching above-mentioned game, then a nap for Cam and I while Jeromy journed to Lincoln City with his siblings. We were rustled to the beach volleyball court for a family tournament organized by Sara Haima, where Larry's family beat up on one another (Lance accidentally toppled his mother in law Sandy, Lance unintentionally creamed his little guy Brady, and Chad unknowingly kicked a fair amount of sand in his sister Sara's face) and the blue team eventually won. After that, we made our way to an outdoor Texas BBQ with a live band playing in the background (the sons of the beaches), then had smores around a bonfire. By then, night was setting in so we made our way inside for Texas Hold'em for the guys and crafts for the girls while all the kids screamed, hollered and ran around the other side of the convention room with the hired-gun babysitter watching over them. We finally made our way to bed at around 10:30. Cameron was so overtired he couldn't fall asleep; I finally drifted off at 11:30 listening to him rattling off the names of all his new friends and second cousins that he met: Alex, Maddie, Easton, Landon, Grace, Emma, Brady....

Sunday started with a light breakfast before a family gathering: singing of hymns, sharing of stories and bonding of family. After that, everyone eventually made their way out of their rooms and some of us went down to Mo's in Newport for some clam chowder and more visiting. We spent some time on the pier next to Mo's, then joined Donnie, Misty and their three kids (Easton, Landon and Olivia) on another pier to watch the sea lions. Ever my curious kiddo, Cameron ventured off for just a second and when we turned around, he was peering over the end of the pier, with little seperating him from his footing and the water twenty feet below. A small heart attack and an announcement from Donnie ("I think that's our cue to leave") later, we headed back to the truck and home to Central Oregon for an oyster and steak feed at Gail and Jean's.

Every time Jeromy and I get together with the Haima clan, we have a delightful time. Our paths don't cross enough, but maybe in the coming years we can hook up with more of them during our Beaver games and other trips to the valley during the year. With such a large group, it's hard for us to keep up with our immediate family members (parents, siblings, nieces and nephews) let alone cousins and second cousins, aunts and uncles. But this weekend's gathering really reminded us that, even if the opportunities are few and far between, we should really make an effort to spend time with the extended family. We feel blessed to be a part of their clan.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Meeting Miss Bridget

Thursday, September 15 started out like any other day since Hurricane Katrina hit... drop Cameron off at preschool (he did great again, by the way), make my way to the office, pour a cup of coffee, read emails from my fellow overworked and underpaid colleagues, shed a few tears out of unbridled frustration, collect my wits and move on.

Just to show that He does have mercy, about an hour into my day my phone rang. Lo and behold, it was Ryan Ott, our friend from New Orleans Louisiana. Ryan and I lived together for one half of a year at Whitman College; he was finishing up his remaining credits during the fall of 1995 and I was in the first semester of my senior year. One October weekend, a group of Ryan's friends from high school (Central Oregon, to be exact) came up to hunt and play, and Jeromy was among them. The rest, they say, is history. Ryan can be credited for being the reason that Jeromy and I met. After the fall of 1995, Ryan went on to obtain his Masters in Geology at Baylor University in Waco Texas. There he met the delightful Georgina Cuzzort (a Texan, through and through) and they were married six months prior to our nuptuals. Jeromy was in their wedding; Ryan was in ours. We eventually made our way back to Central Oregon, while Ryan began his career with Chevron-Texaco and is slated to begin a program in Business Administraiton care of his company. He is currently stationed in New Orleans working on a big drilling project. Or, I should say was in New Orleans.

We knew the Otts would have evacuated well in advance of Katrina's approach. With George's family still in Texas and with six-month-old Bridget in most definate need of basic amenities, we called Grandma Ott the day after the storm hit to make sure they got out and were safe and sound. Going about our busy lives, we thought to check in on them when we knew people were returning to the area. When Ryan called on Thursday, I wasn't surprised to learn they had made their way up North. After surveying the damage to their Madisonville, LA home the previous week (lots of tree and wind damage, broken fences, and freezers and refrigerators in much need of replacement) they decided to venture to Central Oregon as part of their Katrina-induced short term vacation and invited us over for a barbequed salmon dinner to catch up.

Miss Bridget is just adorable. Rosy-cheeked and red-haired with her Grandpa Ott's blue eyes, there is no doubt she lives up to her nickname-- "sweet pea." She is so well-mannered and was all smiles the whole time we were there. She really brightened up whenever Cameron's two-year-old path crossed hers and they shared a couple of adorable moments together. It was really a special time to be able to meet her and spend a few hours talking and sharing a couple of mommy-things with George. Dinner was delicious, and after that the Otts' friends the Thackery clan came over to visit, share dessert and watch the video Ryan made the weekend he returned to Secluded Forest Lane in Madisonville to survey his damage. We've decided that they should rename the street "Moderately Secluded Forest Lane," but in all they were very lucky. Up next: Ryan's company is moving its headquarters to Sugarland Texas while it decides what to do with their previous office building (three blocks from the now-famous Superdome, no less). I doubt Ryan and George will ever live in their Madisonville house again; Ryan has already returned to Texas and George is leaving in the morning to drive down there with Bridget and their three dogs. I suspect they're taking everything week by week.

It was a lovely way to end our Thursday and our week: in the presence of good old friends during their time of relative chaos. We'll be helping them in any way we can during the coming weeks and months.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

I am trying to get on the computer with daily frequency now to check our home email (which I rarely used to do) and do some work from home. I even managed to do this magical thing called balancing our checkbook with online banking... I fall dreadfully behind with our personal balances when all I do all day is books at work.

Cameron had another excellent day today. After picking him up, we went to Newport Market to buy some ingredients for one of his favorite meals: tacos. I forgot that Newport Market has miniature carts for the little ones to push around and "shop," and they're not the fakey-plastic ones either. They're the real deal. Once Cameron spotted a couple of girls that were just about his size pushing their carts, it was all over. Fortunately, we were almost at the checkout and I convinced him to help me pay and take a piece of sugarless gum in exchange for pushing around his very own cart. My pitiful attempt at redirecting Cameron: bribing him.

We got to meet Katelyn Grace today; Mike Mawdsley brought her into the office to show her off. I forgot how adorable and little newborns can be. She looks exactly like her big brother Ethan. We picked up a little something for Ethan while we were at Newport Market-- just a little gift for him to mark the occasion.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Nothin' but Smiles

Today was the first morning at Crawmers where we didn't have tears, wails and clinging to mommy's body as she tried to leave for work. After a great Friday and reminding Cameron all weekend that he had school on Monday, I simply set him down when I signed in this morning and he led himself to the breakfast table and the Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal that awaited him. No texts or emails from Ruth all day, and when I picked him up at 4:30 he had an excellent report... nothing but smiles all day long!

I should also add that tonight before bed, Cameron and I sang a "goodnight Bruce" and an "I love you Bruce" song after he simultaneously fed and terrorized the poor fish, poking at him wherever he swam. Then it was off to bed, (... "goodnight house...") where Cameron announced (for the first time ever) his book request for the evening: Goodnight Moon. So good night wishes all around.

Here's hoping everyone who gets FSN saw the great Beaver Game against Boise State on Saturday. Boise State was ranked 15th in the nation going into this season (... yah, I said it too... "huh?") and had something to prove after their pitiful season opener against the Georgia Bulldogs. The Beavers reminded the Broncos that they were in OUR HOUSE, and although they started slow, the game ended with a dramatic field goal by Serna to capture the game in its final seconds. Serna almost made up for his miss in the season opener at LSU last year. Almost. But what a difference a year makes; last year we were opening the season on national television in Louisiana... this year Louisiana is receiving national attention of a very different sort.

Courtney and her team did well in their meet in Eugene, placing third in the team scores. Courtney won third place in the beam. Not bad for a team of newbie level sixes in their debut event. We are especially excited and anxious for her winter "tour," as she actually has a meet in North Idaho at Coeur d' Alene. After cajoling them and stopping this short of begging them for ten years to make a trip up to NIdaho, we are finally going to get Mark and Charlotte up there. In the dead of winter, but hey, beggers can't be choosers.

Work continues to consume both of us during the daytime; it's hard to leave it at the office but having a 2.5 year old helps immensely. I am once again overwhelmed by the generosity of Central Oregonians who give of their blood, their time and their treasure. As of Friday, no fewer than $236,000 has crossed my desk for hurricane relief; this is just the money I personally have handled and doesn't include much of our district offices' reporting nor the people who live in our zip codes who donated online through redcross.org. When I think that this disaster is only two weeks old it helps put much into perspective: this incredible amount of money that I have forwarded and continue to forward to our National Headquarters represents more than twice our contributions to our local efforts for the entire fiscal year. That being said, our organization is under tremendous pressure in carrying out our mission and (just between me and the blog) our local staff is starting to feel this pressure. We do continue to receive incredible support from our donors, supporters and the media so morale remains as high as it can be for those of us who already put in 110% before the hurricane hit.

No word on the house permits. Can you believe final permit approval is the responsibility of one guy and he goes on vacation in three-week increments? Sheesh.

Have a great week, everybody!

Friday, September 09, 2005

Early September Update

It seems like it's been all Katrina, all the time. But while that consumes my work and my thoughts and sometimes my dreams (one memorable one the night after watching the Meth 'Clock News --channel 10-- which involved me, some sort of shelter and what appeared to be a meth addict) life does exist outside of the Red Cross office again. Finally.

Cameron's new Castle is again on indefinate hold. Sigh. After receiving advice from our excavator, it was suggested and decided that we "mirror" the floorplan on the new house and put the driveway at a higher, more level section of the lot than was previously drawn and submitted for plan approval. It's the same house, same engineering, same everything... but the city of Redmond has decided that the permit process must start all over because of this seemingly harmless rationalization. At the end of his rope, Jeromy pointed out to the brain donor at the City of Redmond that Bend's process is much more streamlined. This, evidently, was the wrong thing to say, as she reminded him that the name on the door through which he just entered said "CITY OF REDMOND." Whatever. We just hope we get the damn thing going before 1. Winter and B. They start to rebuild the entire Gulf Coast.

"Mommy, I have fun at school" was my son's declaration to me on the way home from Crawmer's today. Yes, Cameron has completed his first week at Crawmer's Critterz and all signs point to a successful transition. Aside from a couple dramatic mornings which involved peeling his clinging body from mine at the appointed moment, he has done great assimilating into the group, the routine and the fold at Crawmer's. Russ commented to me today that Cameorn fits in very well with their dynamic and that they're really happy to have him. I'm just so glad that he's in a more learning-oriented environment. He actually brings stuff and crafts home pretty much every day. Heck, he had show and tell today! It doesn't get more "school" than show and tell! Just in this past week alone we have seen him forming more and more sentences with his words and he seems more happier and (as my mom would say) less contrary than in weeks past. Coincidence? Probably not. Kudos to Crawmer's! I think Cameron can hardly wait 'till Monday.

Our friends, the Mawdsleys, welcomed baby Katelyn Grace to the world yesterday. Born September 8 at nearly midnight, she's the baby sister Ethan had told me he wanted just hours before she arrived. Ethan and Cameron go to school together; Ethan is part time and we are indebted to him and Mike and Kerrie for the recommendation and familiarization with Crawmer's.

The Beaver game this weekend is at home tomorrow; Mark and Jeromy will be travelling, tailgating and watching the game together while Charlotte attends Courtney's first meet of her new Level Six season in Eugene and Cameron and I stay home. Some of the Haima ladies came over from the valley for Blakley's wedding shower that was held tonight, so the plan is that we all go out for breakfast at the West Side Cafe tomorrow morning before they leave. I'm glad to join them and even more glad that we'll be spending the weekend together at the Haima Family Reunion September 17 and 18 in Newport. We are very much looking forward to it.