Saturday, December 18, 2010

My friends call me Tombi

There may be a few of you who have no idea that I always introduce myself as Adriana to strangers, and since 7th grade have gone by Adriana at school and work. My middle name is Tombi, but it is the name my family has always called me by and introduced me as.

So at the recent Microsoft Christmas party I noticed that when Nick introduced me as Adriana to his co-workers that it sounded absolutely alien coming out of his mouth. Then I started thinking about the reasons I started introducing myself as Adriana. I was starting Jr. high and switching schools. The last thing I wanted to do was stand out, and a name like Tombi deep in the heart of TX was basically a giant target. To make matters worse I was a total tomboy and it doesn't take a real rocket scientist to make the Tombi-tomboy connection. Thus was born Adriana.

Pretty soon I had this elaborate name structure in which once friends were permitted into the inner circle they got to know Tombi.

While it's pretty amusing to watch people who've only known you as Adriana encounter people who only know you as Tombi it leads to lots of confusion during the birthday song.

Currently a lot of the people I consider friends call me Adriana and it seems a lengthy but worthy task to re-introduce myself as Tombi. So with just a little bit of sadness Adriana Ericson has passed away and been supplanted by Tombi Ericson.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Now for something completely different

Here are some of the outtakes from this years christmas card photo shoot. I'm still holding out hope that I can get a few cards out in the mail so I'll save the keepers for a later post.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Held Hostage by the American Dream

So the last ten days have really made me take a hard look at this country, and what it does to it's middle class citizens. The American dream . . . work hard, go to college, buy a house and live happily ever after.

College was a struggle. I started out lucky, and didn't even know it. My parents were able to pay for my school. Instead of taking advantage of this opportunity I floundered and failed out of my classes. My parents of course withdrew the checkbook, and their own financial situation had changed when I was ready to go back to school, so it would be up to me to fund my education. I don't even really know why I went to college, other than the fact that, that is what you do. When I went back to school on my own dime I was a much improved student and never made less than a B. I worked full time while I was in school and was able to keep my student loans down to about $15k. I never got any practical work training through school and my degree in Biology with an emphasis in zoology provides me with zero skills with which to get a job. It would have been really great if the school that I gave ridiculous sums of money to would have sat me down at one point and explained that I would need to work for free as an intern if I wanted any practical work experience. I wish I'd gotten a two year degree . . . then I'd have a skill and a job.

Nick fared a little better. At least he chose a degree you can make some money in. Allthough since he went for a masters his student loans ended up closer to $30k. All in all we're much better off than most students who pay their own way through loans. We came out of school with nothing but $45k in student loan debt over our heads, but at least we never got credit cards.

So we continued our frugal life. We NEVER go on vacation, maybe eat out once a month. Never got to the movies or really do anything that costs more than $5. I keep our groceries below $150 a week and work hard to be a thrifty bargain shopper.

We saved up $60k and decided to buy a house. In the Seattle market that's a scant down payment, but we found a short sale we could afford, and bought a home. 2 years later like many other Americans our house is now worth $70k less than when we bought it and we are now trapped by our house, unable to sell it and unable to rent it for anything close to our mortgage. Despite the added expense of the house we were able to purchase and payoff two used cars and save up another $60k dollars over the last two years.

Another major development was the increasing severity of my psoriatic arthritis. As if my loser father didn't do enough to ruin our family I have the lasting legacy of his genetic disease to remind me my whole life, just where I came from. My arthritis was so severe after Kiah was born that I could no longer walk without something to hold on to. I was taking multiple over the counter pain killers, prescription pain killers just to get through the day. I cried a lot, both for the pain in my body and in my heart. If you would like an idea of the pain think about how it feels to hit your bone against something hard, that sharp pain that makes you cry out, now put that pain in to every joint in your body. Even the ones you never think of in the middle of your hand or foot. It got to the point where my body had begun to refuse to follow instructions because of the pain. I got stuck in the bath tub, unable to crawl out because my body simple refused to move. It's a very strange sensation to realize that your own body is shutting down from pain.

You become keenly aware of just how many joints you have in your body when every single one of them is screaming out in pain constantly. I thought of the burden I already was on my family and the burden would become as I already needed a walker even though I had refused to admit it. I was really, really depressed and even considered taking my own life to prevent my children from having to take care of me, but hope is a miraculous thing and I just kept hoping that this miracle drug my Dr wanted to try would save the day. The day I went to the Dr for the first injection, it took me 10 min to shuffle across the 2 parking spots between my car and the door to the lobby, there was no hand rail and so I had nothing to help me walk, and would fall over from the pain if I tried to take a step.

1 week later I could walk pain free, one month later I could run. I had my life back and whatever the side effects of the drug they were minimal to the amazing glory of a pain free day, that was my salvation. We were very fortunate to have insurance that paid completely for the medication as it is $2k a month without insurance.

Now after being in Seattle for 4 years we still find ourselves unable to make any meaningful connections with people here. Sure we have acquaintances, but it's very lonely here. I don't have any girlfriends so I spend 20hrs a day, usually more at home and the only person I ever talk to is Nick, the kids, or my mom. If Nick goes out for the evening then I don't talk to anyone all day, I'm just alone. It's really hard to meet people when you are home all day with your kids, and for whatever reason our peculiar set of hobbies are shared by lots of people in Bellingham and seemingly no one in Seattle. Everyone we meet, just seems to busy to add anymore friends to their social calendar.

Nick was recently offered a well paying job in Bellingham. A job that pays this well in Belligham only comes along every 5 years or so, I was so happy. I thought everything in the world would be right again. We'd be able to move, I'd be healthy and surrounded by friends. As it turns out we can't sell our hose without being completely wiped out, so we thought we'd rent it and make up the difference in the payment and just live on an even tighter budget in Bellingham, so we could continue to save.

Then we came to the next hurdle, health insurance. We did find carriers that would insure me, but not pay any out for my medication. So I did the math and even if I work full time for $11.50/hr, I will not be able to pay for my medication. I don't even know how to really absorb that fact. I have a college degree and can't earn enough money to pay for just my medication, forget living expenses. I can never go off of this medication . . . this is something I will need my entire life and now in addition to overcoming the challenges of owning a giant money pit of a house I now know that I can never switch insurance carriers and Nick can never switch jobs unless my medication will be covered and after 16hrs on the phone with different insurance companies I am realizing that pigs will fly before that happens.

So just to re-cap before we can move away from this place that has brought us nothing but misery the housing market has to turn around (10 years hopefully). The government has to offer a public option for health care, because no insurance company wants to have anything to do with me. Based on these realizations it's obvious that we're screwed.

I feel like an indentured servant, part of Americas new class of slaves. Canada is looking better every day.

Monday, November 29, 2010

toddler powered perpetual motion

Addie, Cary, and Conan came up for a visit this weekend. The guys decided that the best way to keep the kids entertained was to get them to jump off the table onto a bunch of pillows. It was lots of fun for the kiddos and did indeed keep them very entertained for an hour, at which point they became to exhausted to move.

Monday, November 22, 2010


The girls were super excited about the snow. They even had their first snowball fight. Moira went straight for the face shot so we quickly changed the game to hit mom with snowballs. I was lucky enough to cath the fun on video.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Busy as usual

So just to catch up: We survived Halloween, both girls chose to be princesses. I made Moira's dress, but ran out of steam before I could get Kiah's done so she ended up getting pick one out from the store. She had lots of fun, and I think the process of getting to pick out fabric was a little abstract for her.

Both the girls are growing up so fast. Moira is able to read simple words now, and Kiah is almost potty trained. They have recently discovered sneaking back and forth between their bedrooms at night. I'll be the first to admit it was kind of cute at first, hearing them giggle and run back and forth between the rooms, but by 10pm it gets kind of old so Kiah's been barracaded in with a baby gate.

Some of you may not have heard that Kess was dianosed with cancer and had her right rear leg removed :( The good news is that she's getting around great, and at 3 weeks out she's back to her old self. We all kind of miss the drugged and complacent Kess, but it's nice to have the house back to its normal level of chaos. You can follow Kess's story on her very own blog

We are gearing up for a big Thanksgiving dinner at home. The girls are excited to have everyone over, and it's always fun to have an exscuse to dig out the china.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Toddler cuteness

All the guys got together this weekend, and for various reasons they all had toddlers in tow. We had beautiful weather and the kids had a great time playing while the dad's hung out and talked shop.

Friday, October 15, 2010


For as long as I can remember I've always loved dogs. When I was a kid I was instantly attracted to dogs, and finally when I was 11 I got my own dog. Coco, a ridiculously smart border collie that among other things could turn doorknobs, and knew her way all around Bellingham. On more than one occasion I got the call that Coco had walked several miles and shown up on their doorstep and scratched to be let in. Many times this was to houses we'd only driven to . . . how do they do that?

One of my friends teased that he wouldn't recognize me without my border collie familiar tagging along by my side . . . I'm ok with that.

Dogs have taught me so many wonderful things. Because of my relationship with my dogs I'm a better parent and a better person. They've taught me patience and not to be guarded with my love. When dogs love they do it with every fiber of their body . . .

I can remember the exact moment I fell in love with Kess. It wasn't at the pound, but later that night at home. She was terrified of the cats (with good reason) so she wouldn't come into the house. She was also very nervous about coming up to people. So I laid down on the floor and she came and laid next to me and then slowly started to poke her nose her and there to my giggles and within moments she was jumping all over me, wiggling like mad and licking any bit of me she could find. I was such a happy moment as if both of us just dropped a ton of baggage in that moment and started our lives together.

My dogs have taught me to live in the moment, enjoy life when it's there to be had. The price I pay for all of this therapy? Well the the cost that weighs on my mind most often is that I'll have to say goodbye to so many dogs in my life and it doesn't ever get easier.

Watching Kess grow from a scared shelter dog into the brutish athlete that she is has been amazing. I consider Kess running through an open field with pure joy in her heart to be one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. I could watch her run for hours. She was the most graceful running dog I have ever seen. That's why it seems oh so cruel that this athlete would have to endure so much injury and pain.

It's with a heavy heart that I decided to have Kess's leg amputated, but the hope that I can once again see her running and happy will help me through the tough days. So I feel both extremely sad thinking about what Kess will endure, and extremely happy that very soon she'll be able to run pain free again.

It's really hard to love dogs, and it's expensive, but I think it's worth every minute of heartache and every penny, and it's a hardship I'm willing to endure in order to share my life with them.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Giant Bubbles

There's really not much to say. The girls got a bubble wand from santa and we've taken advantage of it a couple of times on lazy afternoons. Moira got a little ambitious with the dish soap when I wasn't looking, and there are just some of the pictures of a multi-day bubble bonanza while I tried to make the best of the fact that more than 1/2 a bottle of dish soap got squeezed into the mix. Moira and I usually get about an hour of 1-1 time when Kiah's napping so I try to find some fun things to do with her.

We purchased an additional giant bubble maker with promises of 3ft bubbles, but we haven't quite figured out the right soap mix. You can be sure that there will be pictures once we have success.

NW Regional Canine DIsc Championship

Well we had another successful event. I maintained my queen of donations status and we had a plush registration packet including t-shirts, treats, and custom pint glasses. I had a great day and achieved my goal of finishing somewhere in the middle of the pack. Of course there was plenty of daydreaming about doing better, but there's always next year.

I did make this extra tasty apple pie for the after party, the dog is actually the logo from the Canine Disc Organization so it was a big hit.

and even though I didn't place high enough to win prizes the traditional way I must have been extra lucky because I won 2 raffle prizes with a combined value of over $200.

One of them was this disc bag, donated by the manufacturer, they are around $100 ea. I then got the bright idea to ask everyone in attendance to bring a custom disc to put in the bag for the raffle. Lots of folks will get a custom frisbee made for their club or if they are really good for their dog. It was a very sought after raffle prize. The company that donated the bag liked my idea so much that they are going to do the same thing at their world championships and raffle it off for charity.
We raised just over $300 for our charity, not a huge amount, but not to bad considering everything else we've got going on throughout the day.
It's A LOT of work, but already thinking or next year.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Renaissance faire

We met up with Gabe, Addie, Cary, Conan, Bo, Charlotte, and little Bella for a fun day at the faire. The girls had a blast and Moira remembered many of the things we did last year. It was fun to have all the kids out together, and the highlight was Gabes audience participation (video in the near future). We managed to make it to a couple of shows and perused the vendors. Our favorite was the gypsy horseback riders, they were off to a bit of a rough start this year so we'll make sure to hit them on the 2nd or 3rd weekend next time.

We've already got grand plans for next year and both the girls have picked out princess dress patterns so they can join in the fun.

Monday, August 09, 2010

Sorry I'm a slacker

Ok so it's been a busy summer. I will attempt to catch up the blog over the next few weeks :) Took the girls to Remlinger Farms last week. It's a small toddler themed amusement park built around a small farm. The girls had a blast and with a modest entry fee and all you can ride for the amusements it's a great value. The girls loved the pony rdes, but the roller coaster was the big hit for my little adrenaline junkies. After 5 rides on the thing mommy was done. Next time I'll make sure dad comes along.


Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Memorial Weekend

We headed up to Bellingham this weekend to hang out with several friends from college. We had a really good time and it was great to see our new little nephew and niece while we were in town. My camera battery died halfway through the first day, so I have nowhere near enough pictures of all the cute kiddos. It rained all weekend so we were stuck inside, and appreciative of all the good company.

It was nice to day dream of camping trips and sleepovers once the kids are a little older.

Monday, May 17, 2010


Moira traded in her ballet shoes for shin guards. I'm secretly delighted, and Moira has been really enjoying soccer. She's only had 2 classes, but she asks every day if she has soccer school. It's a fast paced class, and it's only 30 minutes long. They play different skill building games, each of which is around 3-5min long and then run back to high five their moms before the next activity. It's all very upbeat and the kids have a blast.

At the end of each class they line up to take a shot at the goal, and the other kids chant their name when it's their turn. This is the highlight of the class for the kids and they all feel like superstars after they boot it in the goal.

Kiah and I keep busy on the sidelines. Here's Kiah showing off her soccer skills. It's a constant battle to keep her from running out on to the field. She's bursting at the seams to start school like Moira.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Fun Day at the Fair

Juju and I took the girls to the Puyallup spring fair. We had a really fun time and the girls had a blast. There was a surprising amount of free activities. Moira started off the day getting a train painted on her cheek. Here she's checking it out in the funny mirrors.

Kiah and Moira both got to make Mr Potatos, using real potatos.

The highlight of the day was the pony rides. Both girls just grinned from ear to ear during their rides. It was really cute, and was the first time they'd actually been brave enough to get on the horse.

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Tuesday, March 30, 2010


Well we had quite a morning. I came down with the dogs around 6am and Suki went straight to the dryer and was all worked up about something. She had her hackles up and was sniffing like mad. Suki's not the brightest bulb in the world, and she's pretty much afraid of everything so I didn't think much of it. I put the dogs out and Suki immediately went to the deck and started trying to get under it. At this point I figured some creature had probably entered the house and or crawl space via the dryer vent, but since Suki was trying to get under the deck I hoped it had left the same way it had come.

Well not long after I started hearing rustling coming from the dryer area and decided it was just about time to wake up Nick. He came down and pulled the dryer out, determined the critter was stuck in the dryer exhaust. After a bit he he informed me that it had just poked its head out and it was not a rat, but something weird, maybe a weasel. Once we got the "weasel" chased into a bucket, and then dumped into a cat carrier we could see that it was in fact a ferret.

One google search later and I was able to get a hold of Washington Ferret rescue, which is actually only a couple of miles from the house. Someone in the vet clinic next door was able to house the little guy until someone from rescue could pick him up. All in all it worked out pretty well and despite needing to replace the dryer vent, we got quite a story to remember.

Friday, March 26, 2010


The girls were keeping themselves busy while I made dinner. Nick came home and decided it warranted a picture.


Well I went a little crazy with the zinnias this year. I picked up a couple seed packets last spring and had such great success with them that I ordered a bunch from seed catalogs this year. They grow 2-3' tall, flower for a month or more, and start really easily from seed. I will say that the seeds I sowed directly outdoors did not do well, but I had about 90% germination and survival after transplant from the ones I started indoors. For whatever reason they only sell them in assorted colors at nurseries, but the catalogs all had them available by color. Below is what I got.

This one is called zowie, I saw it in a magazine at the Dr's office and it's what got this whole thing started.

I had a really pretty set of containers planted with a purple theme last summer and decided to carry the theme throughout the yard. This one is called uproar rose. It's the dahlia flowered variety. Sure I could get dahlia's but then I'd have to dig them up and take care of them over the winter. Since zinnia's are annuals there's no guilt in watching them die as the cold sets in.


Cream yellow

This is a dwarf mix which only gets about 12" tall, they aren't the right colors, but I guess I'll survive.

I did manage to find cactus zinnias in mix of purples and fuchsia so that pretty much made my day.

And lastly a cactus zinnia mix. I got some really cool colors out of these last year and hope to fill several of the beds in the backyard with them. Can't wait to sit back and enjoy them this summer.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Moira Turns 4!!

Moira had a great birthday today, and we couldn't have asked for better weather. It was 60 and sunny, so we threw the kids outside and had a bbq. It was a big birthday for Moira who has now upgraded to a "big girl" room. She got a whole new set of furniture and a double size bed. If that weren't enough she got a bike too.

We had several of her friends from preschool over, and friends and family from Bellingham. It was a high energy couple of hours and we were all ready for a nap this afternoon. Expect another big round of pictures when I get them from grandpa paul and hopefully a little video.

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Monday, February 22, 2010

My Grandmother, Anne Robb

My Grandmother is truly one of the most tenacious individuals I have ever encountered. She raised her three girls on her own and managed to make a good life for herself and family. I can only hope that I am as strong as her and my mother in life.

My grandmother was attacked and stabbed multiple times in her bed last night. I can't begin to understand why someone would do this. There is no excuse. You'd like to think that someone who could commit such a violent and horrible act would stand out from the crowd that you could spot them, but you can't. It's easy to forget that this is the world we live in and some days I'm very sad to be a part of it.

My grandma is expected to survive, but it will be a long recovery both emotionally and physically. I can't imagine the strength it took for her to get up and get herself help, but I hope that even a small part of that is within me. I just can't make sense of the world today.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Sick, Sicker, Sickest

Well we've all been miserably ill for what seems like forever. It started with poor Moira who had an ear infection, then the flu, which got into her lungs resulting in pneumonia and a trip to the hospital and finally finished up with pink eye. She's still coughing a lot, but she eating and sleeping normally and her temperature is only slightly elevated. Then Kiah and I caught it and while we missed out on the ear infection and pneumonia I ended up with severe nausea and couldn't keep even water down. So this time I got a tour of the lovely emergency unit at Evergreen for dehydration. 2L of saline later and some anti-nausea meds and I was back home. I then slept for 18 hours (no I'm not joking) I finally arose from my coma to discover that the anti-nausea medication "may cause drowsiness" I haven't taken any for 24hrs and I've been ok. My fevers still 102, and I've got pink eye, but I actually feel pretty good considering, and just in time because after taking care of this lot all weekend Nick has succumbed to the virus and is now sick in bed.

All in all it's been pretty horrible and I've got about a million things going on right now the least of which is my moms big boating seminar on the 20th. Being hopelessly sick sure makes you wish for the carefree days of summer. Hopefully by this time next week we'll all be back in good health.