Sunday, February 1, 2015

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Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The Va$ey Reunion: Here Come the 6'5" Blond-child wielding Wyomingites

Next: A short story, based on one of my all-time favorite children's books (and true events from the life of this family I happen to know).  If you haven't read The Relatives Came by Cynthia Rylant, check out the video at the bottom of this post, or go buy a copy now!
 * * *

It was the summer of the year when the relatives came.  They came up from Wyoming, and South Dakota, Colorado, and Oklahoma.  They came over from Oregon and Idaho too.  They left when the kids were almost old enough to be tired of such things as family reunions, but not quite.

 They traveled all day on Monday and almost into the night. And when they arrived at Palmer Gulch where the relatives were, they tumbled out of their minivans and SUVs and fell into the arms of their Aunt Robin and Uncle Jeff and their cousins Matthew and Ashton, Abby and Dillon.  They promised never to get into another car so long as they lived.

Then it was hugging time.  Oh those relatives!  You had to go through one big Uncle Ralph hug, two Cali hugs, and a Christie high-five before you could get from the porch to the fire pit.

The relatives stayed in cabins and cooked dinner together every night over a tiny stove and an oven that would burn the chicken.  But they didn't mind.  They were too busy talking and laughing and hugging and trying to make baby Olivia giggle. 

The relatives hardly took time to unpack.  They climbed all over Mount Rushmore in the hot sun and made the tourists wonder where had these giants come from, just how many blonde children did they bring with them, and why were they all wearing red t-shirts?

The swimming pool was too cold, so the relatives packed up their sodas and turkey sandwiches and went to Silvan Lake instead.  The most ambitious cousins followed Mike, Dan and John far out into the water and around the big rock, while the others stayed behind to watch Cole and Addy and Olivia make rivers in the sand.

There wasn't a sport that these relatives couldn't play.  The basketball game seemed to go on for hours; which could be attributed to the family's strong spirit of competition and a certain stubbornness.  Everyone cheered as little Landon got a good shot at the wiffleball.  And the winner of the epic game would be debated for years to come.

At night the relatives spent some time reminding each other about the old days.  They could remember times when Grandma Vera would cook great big dinners for her four boys and Grandpa George.  Jenny and Lisa count recount, again, the tales of Johnny Free Porker and the talent shows of years past.  The younger ones wondered how life must have been growing up in Wyoming with no internet and phones that couldn't even take pictures.  The older ones listened to stories they had heard before but loved to hear again.  And when Grandpa Dick couldn't remember, cousin JoAnn helped to fill in the historical accounts with as much accuracy and as little fiction as they could manage.

After they had eaten up all their pancakes and drank up all their soda and beer and River Ritas, it was time to go.  So they packed up their bathing suits and volleyballs and loaded their tired children into their carseats.  Ryan and Anna started planning their weeks ahead with the grandparents in Oklahoma, and Hannah tried not to cry as little Jakey came up and hugged her tightly around the leg and said bye-bye to Olivia.  They all agreed that two years was far too long to wait until the next reunion.  But they resolved to spend the time preparing their talents and honing their wiffleball skills.  

As they drove away, they thought about their homes back in Oregon and Idaho, Wyoming and Colorado.  They wondered if their friends had missed them and if their gardens had been watered.  But they thought about the relatives too, missing them.  And they recalled the lists they had made on the last night; of the peak of the trip and the pit.  But the peaks far outnumbered the pits, which mostly consisted of a few bedbugs and general agreement that they missed the relatives that couldn't come out this summer.  The next reunion would be even bigger and better.  And they could hardly wait.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Mother's Day, from 1982 to 2013

When I was 6 weeks old my mother returned to work. She was 28 years old, and she worked as a registered nurse. She worked at the hospital where my parents would go to work and be nurses for the next 10 or so years of my childhood.  My mother gave birth to me there, 6 weeks before coming back, and she would give birth to my next sister there 2 1/2 years later.  She was relatively new at the time, so she worked an evening or night shift.  And because the night workers started their weeks on Sundays, my mom started back to work on the Sunday of Mother's Day.

Mom cried all the way to work, as the story goes. It is a story I heard several times growing up. I knew that Mom was sad to leave me on the day that was meant to celebrate her. I knew it was extra special because it was her FIRST Mother's Day, and I was her first baby. I just did not understand how heartwrenching it must have been. Now that I am a mom, I have a little better idea.

My amazing mama, and Dad, and me - 1982
My first Mother's Day was spent with Olivia, Jake, the Vaseys, and Grandma Jones. We had a lovely brunch and Jake got be an antique ring with one pearl on it. Beautiful and simplistic, inexpensive but meaningful. I wear it now with pride. And I imagine wearing it some day when I am older and richer (as we all plan to be, right?). If someone were to ask me if it was real, I would say No, but it is more beautiful than all the fancy jewelry (that I would presumably own at this point in my imaginary future).

We could not afford real pearls on my first Mother's Day, and we can't really afford them now either. But I was happy that I'd been given the chance to start a new job, and that job was going really well. We were no longer in "unemployed" status. Jake was happy that he got to take the month of April off to be home with Olivia. And no one had to work the night shift that day. (Not even Olivia, who was sleeping like a champ--finally!)

My mom's story sounds so heroic to me now. She might not see it that way, and at the time I'm sure she was just trying to get through. My dad was still finishing nursing school, and I think they had just purchased a house with my grandparents' help. There were several sources of stress for them at that time. But my mom carried on. I picture her driving in her uniform in our old yellow car. I can see her pull up to the hospital and straighten herself out. Wipe away the tears. Fix the make-up in the rear view mirror. And then walk in, work her shift, clock out, and eagerly come back home to me and Dad.

That is heroic. That is motherhood.  It's everyday stuff, but it's not, too. Her baby was 6 WEEKS OLD.  That is so little.  And hardly enough time to heal from a C-section.  She could have driven back home.  She could have broken down at work and confirmed everyone's predetermined notions about women and having babies and trying to "do it all."  Instead she showed up, and made a living for her family. 

At that time, there was no such thing as FMLA or protected maternity leave or even pregnancy discrimination.  And rather than being outraged by that fact (like I am), my mom was probably just grateful that the hospital let her have 6 weeks off and did not fire her.  It's not right.  And it's not much better now, but we are getting there.

 * * *

This year was my second Mother's Day, and it was great.  It started with a brunch outdoors on the patio of a one of our favorite wineries, and it ended with a sweet little conversation that I had with my Grandma Evie, that went something like...

Grandma E:  "How is Olivia doing these days?  She is getting so big!  Isn't she getting tall?"

"Yes, she is big for her age, she is quite verbal for her age too.  Grandma, I know everyone thinks their child is special, but I really think Olivia is going to be pretty smart."

Grandma E: "Honey, you just keep thinking that, and she will be.  She will."

*Heart bursting with pride*

Love, all-

My favorite place to be

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Why I am Nominating Jake J. V., Greatest Husband Ever

By a mere technicality, this topic generated the most votes in my recent birthday fundraiser. And I suppose that's a good thing. When I wrote this topic idea, I was in a great mood. Now I'm a little exhausted and not really feeling like writing about amazing Jake is. But these are the times when it is probably most important to do just such a thing.

And I must say, it is weird writing that when I know that Jake is going to read this later, and probably several of his friends/family... but you know, this is the HMV blog, and I try to keep it real. Even Jake's biggest fans can admit that relationships are complex and everyone has their days.

So here it is, my list of great things about Jake.  People kind of love it when I post things about Jake.  I think this is because 1) Jake never posts anything, ever...he is a man of international mystery, really, and 2) everyone loves Jake.  Every. Single. Person. Ever.  So eat your heart out, internets!

1.  He cooks.  A lot.  And it's really pretty good.  Jake knows stuff about cooking that some people....well, my people...the MVs of the world, have no clue about.  He calls this stuff "basic cooking knowledge."  I grew up in a house where "basic cooking knowledge" meant "know thy microwave like you know thyself."  And we did.

2.  He seems to magically have a large, detailed amount of information about a huge variety of topics.  Pick any topic.  Jake can probably tell you a few things about it, or at least something about a related topic, or something about this one guy that he knows from a thing that once knew something about that topic.  Some folks attribute this to his addition to Wikipedia.  I'm not so sure.  It seems like magic.

3. Hmm... I want to say "Good father" here.  But that whole "He's a great dad! He really plays with his kids!  And even does laundry!" deal is so ... ugh.  We should just expect that.  No one would commend a woman for playing with her kids and tending to their every need.  Why?  BECAUSE THAT IS YOUR JOB.  Duh!  It is not the woman's job, it's just any half-decent, non-negligent parent's job.

But I will say that Jake has impressed me as a father.  I will say that he has been a wonderful partner in this journey of parenthood.  When I need a break, he steps in.  When O screams for mama for the 1 millionth time, he stays strong and turns her attention to something else.  Ok he's a good father, there!

4.  Everyone in my family loves Jake.  They don't just like him, they really love him.  There was a moment several years ago when I realized how true this was.  Our family was getting together for something (a birthday? holiday? I can't remember),  and Jake wasn't able to make it.  My sister called me about this.  After explaining the situation to her, she said that she understood, but you know, it is just hard, Jake helps keep us all ... together.  Maybe you had to be there?  It just made sense.

5. I'm going to stop at 5, just so you know. I could go on, I know. But Jake's ego is getting way too big as it is, knowing that I am writing an actual essay on how great he is.  Plus it has taken me far too long to get this post published!

So last but not least, Jake is just a really great partner. We do things together and really value each others' opinion. We are a TEAM.  And I'm sure right now you are thinking, OK but so were Simon and Garfunkel and well, 13 years of sweet melodic harmonies later and SOMEbody's ready to do a solo album and someone else is like, now I'm an actor! And it's like, hey guys...what happened to the music?  They had the voice of an angel (together), but apart...ugh...ok I'm getting sidetracked, the point is: Jacob is my bridge over troubled water. He is the diamond on the sole of my shoes. (If you aren't a S&G fan (or you were born after 1982) you are SO lost right now. Haha...sorry Maren!)

There are not enough words or metaphors in the world to explain the point I'm trying to make. When I get sad, Jake makes me happy. When I am overwhelmed, he takes over and makes things manageable again. He treats me as his equal, without really expecting or demanding equal work. That is not always what I thought marriage would be like, but it so is. It is not 50/50.  It is a constantly changing, evolving relationship. If we had insisted on 50/50 then I would never have passed law school, he would not have moved to Eugene with me, and Olivia would not have been breastfed.  He tried but, you know, anatomy...
Ok internet, I hope you've enjoyed this post as much as Jake has enjoyed watching me write it. 

Stay tuned for more ...  I will try to write something on the topics that received votes.  And thanks for all the WellMama love last month!


Sunday, March 24, 2013

WellMama Fundraiser 2013!

Final count: $360!!Thanks everyone so much~

What a wonderful birthday it has been.  I turned 31 on the 31st!  My Golden Birthday (and a very powerful one, according to Urban Dictionary).  So what has my powerful birthday brought??  Hold on to your hats, we are up to $270 in donations!!  And I reached my second goal of 10 donors.  That's ten amazing friends or family members that not only took the time to read my rants on the amazingness of WellMama, but also sent in some cash to support the cause.  It blows me away.

I will leave the voting open for 1 more day (today!).  If you did not vote, please do so now!  So far Jake's blog post choice is winning by a slim margin.  I will probably post on more than one of these, so let your voice be heard!

Once again, to donate: 

And to learn more: keep scrolling down... 

And to see my beautiful face in all it's birthday glory:

UPDATE!  I have received 4 donations and I am glowing with gratitude!  Thank you, LV, NB, JF, and AP.  Your identity is safe with me (of course, you can comment below or share your thoughts on Facebook, I just try to keep it anonymous when I'm posting about other people).  :)

I'm not yet to my goal, but we are making progress!  Thanks, all!


It's time for something new and fun at the HMV Blog.  As you are no doubt aware, this is my birthday week.  Now instead of spending all week deciding on how to celebrate this momentous occasion, I am just going to come right out and ask you to do something really great:

Please consider donating to a charity near and dear to my heart,

I've been getting involved with this group, and it would mean so much if you would send a little love our way.  (How involved did I get?  Well, you can find out here...)

And if you do, you can VOTE in the poll you see above!  Once I get a few votes, I will publish a new blog post on the topic of your choice.  So we all win!  WellMama gets much-needed funds, I get my birthday wishes, and you get a sweet slice of HMV ... probably an embarassing slice of truth-telling cause I just know you all are going to pick that one.  I just have a feeling.  I know you people.

So what is WellMama?  Well, WellMama is just a great little nonprofit.  We are dedicated to helping moms that are struggling with mental health issues.  We tell mamas that they are not alone.   We provide free support groups for moms or expecting moms.  And we are reaching out to dads too.  But none of this important work can be done without financial support.

Maternal mental health is such an important and often overlooked issue.  Clearly it is an issue that speaks to me.  And I would so appreciate your support (read: money).

My birthday fundraising goal is $250.  We can do that!  And you can help me achieve it!  My second goal is 10 donors.  If 10 of my friends donate, that would be very encouraging.

Click "Donate Now" on the home screen.  After you enter your donation, you can leave a message on the second screen.  I get to see these come in (only a few people do, it doesn't get posted to Facebook or the internet).  So feel free to share why you are donating.  You can dedicate your donation to a new mom that you know, or a new family (it's not just the mamas that benefit from maternal mental health & wellbeing)!  Or an older mama that you know.  We often hear "I wish there was a group like this when I was having kids and struggling on my own."  We are really building something great over here.

Thanks for the love, my friends.  I will update you as the donations and votes come in!  (Please send them in!!)


Wednesday, March 13, 2013

I'm not That Mom

A Valentines Day post....only 1 month after the actual holiday!
So the other night I am flipping through pictures on my Instragram feed of this amazing woman and her crafts.  The pictures are perfect, the scene is so cozy, and the crafts are so crafty.  She is not even a professional craft-maker (crafter?  craftmaster?).  All I can think is, "I will never be this good."  I will never be this mom.  Ughhhhh...just as soon as I convince myself that things are going pretty well over here, I click around to my blogs and realize that the bar has been lifted.  (Seriously, go check it out, it is inspiring what she can do with just a few doilies).

Screw it, I think to myself.  I can't win.  No.....fix that.  I can't let myself feel like I can't win.

V-day crafts:
Pulling the stickers out of the books Aunt Amy Lou sent!
Maybe I am just not that girl.  I'm not the crafty type.  I wish I were (sorta), but I'm not.

There are some things that just aren't my jam.  Try as I might to feel otherwise.  A woman that I admire greatly has famously said, "You can choose what you do, but you can’t choose what you like to do."  You must be yourself.  Why is this so hard?

My dear friend and I were having a conversation like this several weeks ago.  "When are you going to re-do your kitchen?"  I asked.

"I don't know.  Maybe never."

"Why not?  I thought you were going to re-do your bathroom too?"

"Well," she said, "it turns out that we don't really like to renovate and do weekend projects.  We like to have fun on the weekends.  We like to golf.  We wanted to be the kind of people that go to Home Depot on Saturday morning and get a bunch of stuff done, but we aren't.  We thought that maybe by buying a house we could become those kinds of people, but it just hasn't happened!   Golf is still more fun than painting a bathroom.  Have you seen how many corners there are in a bathroom?!"

"I guess you could hire a contractor."

Yes.  And that's why God invented Angie's List.

Ok, so maybe I don't like doing weekend projects that much either.  ...And maybe I needed my friend to get honest about that so that I could turn the mirror on myself.  How long have I had that thing of caulk?  For what project was it originally intended?  Certainly not for sitting on the closet shelf.  Why don't I just throw away the GD caulk?!

The hard thing now, is that it doesn't just matter what I am or what I want to be.  I also have to be a mom.  No going back on that one.  But what kind of mom must I be?

The freedom to choose which mothering approach fits me best is a luxury of the 21st century that I do not take for granted.  I can't imagine my grandmothers sitting down with their friends to discuss which of them, the husband or the wife, is in charge of Valentine-making and cookie baking.  And who will volunteer at school to help pass them out?  And which one will call the sitter and who will give her instructions?  And they even call a sitter?  Isn't that opting out of the motherly duties altogether?  Unheard of!

So now, today, I can choose.  I can stare down these awesome mom blogs and adore them for what they are, but remind myself that this is not me.  It is not my family.  But our family is still perfect.  Maybe not picture perfect, but perfect nonetheless.

* * *
Fast-forward a couple of days.  Jake and I realize that it is February 14th and wait, weren't we supposed to bring something for Olivia's daycare friends?  We race to Safeway and quickly decide on the $3.99 puppies and kitties valentine cards (she loves animals!) and find some yogurt-covered raisins for treats (healthy!).  As we pull up to the daycare, I ask Jake to park a few houses away so that we can quickly put the names on the cards.  Lucky for us, theses kids have some crazypants names.  Like Sahalie...and Kahne....wHaT?!

After 3.7 minutes of name-writing, we throw the Valentines into a bag with the treats and walk O up to the door.  "Here you are!  Have fun!"  Bolt away.

Do I feel guilty about this half-hearted grocery-store attempt at Valentine's Day participation?  A little.  But here's the thing: we are busy people and O is just a wee toddler who doesn't know a Valentine from a cardboard box (box = more fun).

Plus, our daycare people are crafty! See what they made:

And here's the other thing: all the other parents did exactly the same thing.

That's a win.


Sunday, February 24, 2013

LIVE BLOG of the 85th Academy Awards - Oscars! HMV style!

Last thoughts:
Q: Maren, you won the Oscar pool this year, did you ever think you could do it?
- Yes I did think I could do it.  It took not a lot of research, not a lot of intelligence, just a lot of common sense.  And I mean that to be a diss.  Suck it.

Q: Jake, no one thought you could do it, but you predicted best movie, how did you do it?
- A lot of hard work.   I saw the movie.  I liked it. 

Are you Ron Swanson?
- Hopefully.

Q: Hannah, who would you like thank for your super fun Oscar day extravaganza?
- I would like to thank alcohol. The internet. Also, my fans.  I would not like to thank my sister and my husband who have predicted the Oscars like a voodoo, witch, scientist, like...losers would. 

Peace out, fans.  I heart you.

* * * 
Best picture: Michelle Obama is looking gooooood.  Her bangs be bangin!  Oh wait, I guess she is not giving out the award.  Jack are funny.  The award goes to ARGO!!!!  Oh poo, I picked Lincoln.  Maren, The Unbeatable, picked Les Mis.  Haha ... Les Mis.  Anyways, nice job, Jakey!

Best actor: Daniel Day-Lewis, no surprise. Fantastic, fantastic speech.

Best score: Seth Macfarlane, I'm throwing you a bone, catch!
Didn't know you wrote Ted's Original Score, nice job. Douche.

No one worry, I'm ahead on the scoreboard.

* * *
Adele's performance drew a lot of interesting comments.  None of them topical.  Or accurate.  Let's play Guess, That, Quote!

"Is she lip syncing?"

"It's not the lip syncing we're talking about, its the lips...they've been pumped up."

"I only want Nicole Kidman to sound like she did in Practical Magic, because that was my favorite movie."

"Oh yeah, 'sequins', I know what they are. ... Wait, sparkles?"

"Oh I'm sorry I wasn't listening, I was eyes [swoon]."

* * *
Aw crap, if you are still following, we need to take a break here and recharge the battery.  And our drinks! -7:40pm hmv
* * *
Hannah- "Does anyone love Seth Macfarlane more than Seth Macfaclane?"

We have been visited by the divine Matellas!  And special guest Ms. Emmeline, the 3-week-old lil wonder.

So I just realized this Oscars is a tribute to music in the movies.  I didn't understand why we were watching Catherine Z-J singing Chicago song again... is she promoting some other movie that people under 20 have heard of?  [ZING!]

Les Mis montage.  Missy wonders "are they lip syncing this?!" Are we having a Beyonce moment?"
Maren wonders, "Is Anne Hathaway hiding a baby bump?"
Missy: "What?  Is that true?"
Maren: "Yep.  You heard it here first.  (No, I just made that up.)"

* * *
John Travolta.
Pulp Fiction. Saturday Night Fever. Grease. What do they have in common?
They have NOTHING on Phenomenon. 
* * *
Finally, Jake and I are getting some points on the board.

Argo was an amazing movie.  Just amazing.  It really got right to the point of the situation and put you there, but without  being too over-the-top.  They used humor in just the right way, in just the right amount.

Now Lincoln,  We Americans need watch movies like this.  We should be proud.  We should be ashamed.  We should see history for how it is...albeit, with a Hollywood slant.  Do we ever see history in any other light?

Dun dun DuuuuuuuNNN!

* * *
(Maren) 50 years of Bond. Who knew, not us. Except for Jake.

Halle Berry, Halle if I may, did you feel like kicking Seth in the nuts after the stomach flu, ladies looking good terrible joke?  I did.

Kerry Washington, you. are. stunning.
* * *
Shout out to Samuel L. Jackson's suit.  AND for not laughing during Seth's degrading Boob song.

Everyone is on the board with Life of Pi Visual Effects.  Sorry you got cut off visual effects man...

* * *
SCORE BOARD. Maren is winning.

Best supporting actor goes to...Maren! (Christopher Waltz)
Best animated short goes to .... Maren!  (Paperman)
Best animated feature goes to ... Maren!  And Hannah!  (Brave)

Jake and I actually went to see all the animated shorts at date night last weekend.  We should be able to pick at least THAT category.  I am saddened.  I am dishearted.  But I will never surrender!

* * *
Opening monologue:
The Boobs song.......wHaaaaaT?!  I HATE THAT BIT SO MUCH.  The anger I feel right now is indescribable.  It was so terribly offensive to sing about women in a way that reduces them to a body part that makes men feel aroused.  Auuugh!

Well, ok, Jake and Maren are telling me to lighten up.  I don't know.

Sock puppets...ok, this is getting better.

Charlize and Channing Dancing and Trio Men's Song and Dance.  Love.
Trans Am and Sally Field.  Hilarious.

* * * 
5:07 (Hannah)
Still watching the red carpet.

Hmv: "Is there anything that Halle Barry CAN'T wear?!"
JV: "She could wear a paper bag!!" [smokey old-timey lady voice]
Maren: "Yes!"

Kristin Chenoweth is seriously destroying the interview post.  "Let's talk some more about our height difference!"  And "What are you most excited for?!" (As if anyone could say anything other than that moment when I finally SHOW THESE Beezies what's up!)

* * * 
4:45, By Maren

Best dressed nominations (so far)
Maren (Me)- Charlize Theron, new haircut and looking so sexy in white.
Hannah- Catherine Zeta Jones, this is Oscar attire, ya' all!
Jake- Don't Care. Busy with push-ups or beer or being a man and what not.

P.S. Does Nicole Kidman have a personality? Did Keith Urban watch The Paperboy???!!!! If so, their sex life HAS to be suffering.

If YOU have seen The Paperboy and are still in need of a group therapy session, let me know.


* * *
4:22 We are locked and loaded and ready to JUDGE.  The red carpet is red hot. 

* * *
3:30 Check back here when the Oscars begin!

We will be live blogging the Oscars with guests:
  • Maren MV: sister, scholar, professional television-and-movie-watcher
  • Jacob V: husby, father of my child, opinion-having extraordinaire 
  • HMV: the bestest
Update: our cards have been completed....let the competition begin!