Saturday, December 31, 2011

Farewell 2011!

Ah, the end of 2011 draws near. So far we've spent this last day over at Green Lake, where I ran very slowly while the kids and Daniel played.  I've also braved the madness at Trader Joe's to stock up on a few things for tonight and tomorrow.  Daniel's off cleaning the car now, because I can't possibly start 2012 with a dirty car. And there's a Target trip still in our future tonight. We've managed to go to Target on Black Friday, the Saturday before Christmas, Boxing Day...(and many, many days in between) so let's round off 2011 with another crazy venture into the busy shopping world.

At Thanksgiving Daniel said that he was thankful for a good year, and at that time I wasn't sure if I was totally in agreement. Yes, it's been a fairly quiet one, overall. January and February were insane with the situation with our renter who didn't believe in paying rent, but that finally got settled (not financially, but she left, and that's all I care about).  January also was when we did the first feeding tube for Ethan.  Occasionally he'll see a picture of another kid with a NG tube on TV or at the hospital, and he'll say "Mommy? Remember when I had a tube in my nose?"  And I assure him that the image is branded on Mommy's brain and will probably be there until the day I die.  The gastric tube that he has now is still complicated at times, but it's much easier for me to deal with emotionally, and he's getting the calories that he needs for brain development and is gaining weight too. We are so blessed to have such an amazing hospital like Seattle Children's nearby, with all the amazing doctors and nurses and therapists that work there.

But it's also been the year that Ethan got into his special preschool and started getting tons of therapy and started making huge progress on the areas he's delayed in. And he made friends and started having this whole life outside our home.  Which was weird, but also meant that I got to spend some more solitary time with Vivian, who pretty much grew up overnight this year. She went from a baby at the beginning of the year to a toddler/preschooler (who thinks she's a teenager) by the end.

And it's been the year when I finally admitted that I was not okay and got help from medication and my therapist. And when God showed me where He's leading me to spend my spare energy and passions. I submitted my application for grad school this week- keep your fingers crossed for me! 

I think I have to agree with Daniel that it's been a pretty good year, when I look back at it. Challenging, yes, but that's life in the adult world. I'm blessed to have been able to share this year with such an amazing husband and wonderful kids.  We have a home that we love and friends to share our lives with us.  So, farewell to 2011 and welcome to 2012.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Math makes me want to cry

I last studied algebra and geometry sometime in the late 80s, early 90s. And I did well at them the first time around, but I was 13-16 years old and still had all my brain cells. Now I am almost 35 and I haven't used my math skills (not in the way they use them on the test at least) in almost 20 years and I have been studying for a month and STILL just failed the practice test. Which makes me want to cry.

I did ace the verbal part of the test though. Because I have used my verbal skills in the past two decades. 

Daniel took the kids out and (I AM STUDYING, DANIEL! Don't judge!! This blog post is taking 2 minutes to write while I eat lunch!) and I'm supposed to be learning everything that I can about geometry and algebra.  I only have a little over a month before the GRE and I want to hide under my covers and cry instead of studying.

Sadly, I threw away all the Christmas cookies.  Probably a wise choice, but I'm regretting it now.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Just when you think you know someone

Daniel and I went out on our first date in May of 2004. That's a pretty long time ago. We got engaged in April 2005, and after that, we spent Thursday-Sunday of every week at each other's home.  But we were not sleeping together, in case you were wondering. Then we got married in February of 2006. After which we did start sleeping together, as evidenced by the two small people who showed up in rapid succession.

I thought I knew Daniel really well. In the almost 8 years (really!?) that we have known each other, I have seen him get really mad or emotional probably twice.  Which is really impressive, because I am a bit crazy  and I have LOTS OF EMOTIONS! and I do not fight fair and I know his triggers and everything. Still, he remains calm. Daniel is one of those people that you should watch in a really serious situation, because if he is freaking out, you are doomed.

I think if you asked anyone who has ever met him, (other than his coworkers, who have muttered to me things about him being a crazy workaholic), you would hear that he is a nice, calm guy.

Tonight we went to our second hockey game as a family.  We watch a lot of hockey on TV, because we get the Canadian station and Ethan is obsessed. And Daniel wanted to go to a game tonight and it was half price ticket night (and $2 beer night!) so we went. I thought I knew what to expect, since we had been to a women's hockey game during the Vancouver Olympics. And we walked in and there were lots of families and SO many tiny babies and other little kids and I felt comfortable.

And then the game started. And suddenly players were being slammed against the walls and sticks were flying and my dear, sweet, "nice" husband was joining in the crowd clamouring for a fight. And when a fight broke out (and went on for several minutes), my nice, passive husband was cheering and screaming along with everyone else.  And a few minute later, he, who I have not in 7.5 years even heard say the word "darn" was screaming something about the opposing team "sucking".

BEFORE YOU HATE ME- I don't have a problem with any of this, I'm just trying to wrap my brain around hockey in general and my husband having a side of him that I had no idea even existed.  I asked Daniel if perhaps hockey is the reason why Canadians have such a reputation for being nice, because they get all their bloodllust out on the hockey field.  Maybe that's a good thing? I have been to NBA games and professional baseball games and I have never seen the mix of such a family-friendly environment and people screaming for fights and cheering the roughness.  Maybe it's just because the stadium was small today and I am just not seated near these people. I don't know.  Admittedly, I haven't ever been to a football game or other sport with crashing and slamming, so this is all new to me. 

I'm just trying to figure all this out because I have a 4-year-old who, with a feeding tube is in the 4th percentile for size, and who dreams of playing hockey and soccer and football and every other sport that he sees.  He talks about hockey constantly and is always playing that or football in our living room. Obviously I am going to be a sports mom in the future, so I need to get used to all of this.  But it's so outside of my "girly" world.

On another note. Dudes- this week? With so many extra people around and so many outings and things to do? Kicking my butt. And tomorrow I get to go on a playdate with my son to visit one of his classmates and I don't know if I'm supposed to go or stay and I am FREAKING OUT! and Christmas vacation just needs to be over already.

Monday, December 26, 2011

The sound of silence (oh, and the washing machine)

I'm alone in the condo, listening to the washing machine wash the first of what is going to be many loads of laundry. And also listening to the remnants of the turkey bubble on the stove as I make turkey stock for later use in soup.  There are no other sounds, because I have been left all alone. Deep sigh of pleasure.

Daniel and the kids are off to lunch with Daniel's family. Given that we ate out on Saturday night and Sunday brunch, and had a big dinner here last night, I bowed out of lunch today. My system cannot take another high salt meal.  I'm so old. It's kind of pathetic.

Also, I have lots of laundry to do and review blog posts to catch up on and then there's the GRE prep math book lurking on the counter.  For the past month I've been saying "oh, I'll study and work on my admission essay the week after Christmas when Daniel's home to watch the kids." And now it's that week and I'm procrastinating by de-decorating the house and doing laundry.

Christmas went pretty well here. The kids started opening presents, one at a time, on the 23rd and continued until Christmas afternoon, so they're pretty happy campers.  I'm proud that we spent less than $100 total on gifts for the four of us.  I know we wont be able to keep that up when the kids are older, so I'm enjoying it while it lasts.

I am a little annoyed at one participant in the Christmas festivities- me.  I am getting so used to being home and not having people around that when people show up with stuff and noise and disorder, it absolutely freaks me out. I was snippy on a couple of occasions this weekend and overreacted to minor things and wanted to slap myself at times.  Seriously, I'm almost 35 years old... WAY too old to be acting like I did. New Year's Resolution, behave better!

Speaking of turning 35, now that we're done with Christmas, we can all focus on this big (and kind of scary) birthday that's only 3 months and 2 days off. I'm requesting a party from Daniel, but I'm not sure if we'll have the time/energy for that or not.  And, given the things I detailed in the previous paragraph, that might be a good thing :) I also requested a new purse, then I won the purse I wanted last week on a Facebook giveaway, so that's taken care of!

Anyway, algebra calls. Hope everyone had a very Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Things I still need to do before Christmas

I'm looking at the date on the screen of my computer and am having a bit of difficulty comprehending the fact that it's December 21st already.  Seriously, where did this year go?  After a totally wasted day yesterday, when I may or may not have let the kids watch a bunch of TV and also watch me play a kids' game on the Wii for many hours, we left the house this morning for a shopping trip to Target and a playdate with friends. 

Even though I went to Target, I neglected to do the top thing on my to-do-before-Christmas list- buy gifts for Daniel's parents and his brother and sister-in-law.  Which is a problem, because they will be arriving here to celebrate Christmas with us in just a few days. 

I also neglected to buy any groceries for Christmas dinner. Which I have known about for months, but somehow it never dawned on me that I actually had to plan and cook the darned thing. My brain has a total block on accepting the concept of cooking. 

So, now I need to load the kids up in the car (hurray for a car day!) and head out and do the two things that I still need to do before Christmas- buy gifts and buy food. Both without spending much money, as I just paid our credit card bill (Merry Christmas to us- a major plumbing issue and a dental crown for me!) and I can't currently handle the idea of spending even another penny.

In other news, I started studying the algebra section of my GRE prep book and I think it's starting to come back to me.  So that's good :)

Monday, December 19, 2011

Santa update

So, I put the kids in reasonably good clothes on Friday and headed to the mall near Daniel's office, where I knew there was a Santa and generally not too huge of crowds.  When we got up to Santa, I learned that photos with Santa aren't cheap- at this mall it was $18 for one picture.  Which might be normal, I have no idea. But it was sticker shock for Daniel and I, and after discussing it, we decided we could use the money in much better ways.  The good news though was that photos weren't required, and the kids were able to go sit on Santa's lap and meet him, which is all that really mattered to Ethan anyway. He asked the kids what they wanted for Christmas, they muttered something that no one understood, Ethan pulled on Santa's beard and we were done. Oh, and there were candy canes, so everyone was happy :)
Candy Cane eating break

Then today, in a quest to stay busy during this long week of Christmas break, I took the kids out for sushi for lunch, then we headed over to the Children's Museum.  And when we walked in, one of the people who worked there said to us "would you like to meet Santa?". The kids did, so we headed to Santa.  No lines, no other people. Free picture :)  Now this is my kind of event.  Again, the kids mumbled something to Santa about what they wanted for Christmas, and then they excitedly picked up their full size! candy canes and we headed off to play.

With Santa. Ethan is again, pulling on Santa's beard.

Santa tries desperately to understand what Ethan is asking for

 So, Santa visits are done and the kids are happy (and really sugared up from all these candy canes).  And I got a picture of them and Santa and we didn't have to spend any money. Win-win!


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Christmas vacation is almost here. Send chocolate and wine, please.

Yesterday Vivian had one of those fabulous, super-long naps that make mommies so happy. I got SO much done, which was such a blessing after having everyone home sick the week before and getting almost nothing done for days.  Today she didn't nap (drat), but I still got a few last things done.

Which was important, because today was the end of the "Ethan off at school" days until January 3rd. I'm almost hyperventilating just thinking about that.  I've barely recovered from Thanksgiving break and now another break is almost upon us. I love getting to spend time with Ethan, but I've gotten really used to my couple of hours of free time to do things (read- time to fold laundry without little people unfolding it again, and going to the bathroom without anyone on the other side of the door asking questions about what I'm doing in there) and a few hours of break from the constant bickering.  Deep breath.

Ethan actually has school tomorrow, but I have things going on during the time he's gone and wont be home myself. One of those must-dos for tomorrow is to figure out what on earth to buy all his teachers and therapists! Nothing like leaving it to the last minute, hey?

On the plus side, Vivian and I went to the grocery store today and they gave us free advent calendars. Since it's the 14th, that means that we have 13 extra days on each calendar to make up for. I may go through all the extra by the end of the day Friday :)

And on a totally unrelated note, I made pomegranate relish this afternoon and am now in the middle of making a roasted beet salad. I feel the need to record this, given my hatred of cooking and usual total failure in the kitchen.  I feel like I've been possessed by some Food Channel cook or something. 


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Santa Claus

Daniel and I are both very ambivalent about Santa Claus.  I didn't grow up celebrating Christmas at all, so there was definitely no Santa for me.  When I did start celebrating Christmas, I was too old for it to be an issue. I remember my college boyfriend explaining his family's view on Santa, that they didn't have a problem with it, but that the parents worked hard to buy gifts, and they weren't giving away the credit for the gifts to someone else :)

Daniel apparently didn't grow up believing in Santa either- I don't think it's a big deal in Hong Kong and by the time he got to Canada, again he was too old to go for the idea.

Neither of us has a problem with Santa as one of the symbols of the season. But we don't plan to give the kids gifts from Santa, and I never saw the point of taking the kids for photos with Santa.  Keep in mind that we are both insanely frugal, so it just didn't seem like a necessary expense.

Then came Sunday. We were downtown doing the whole Teddy Bear Suite/Gingerbread Village thing, and on our way back to the monorail, we walked past the downtown Santa. We watched the kids visiting with Santa, then we walked on.  A couple of hours later, Ethan wandered into the room and said "Mom? When can I go meet Santa?"  I explained that it wasn't something we planned to do.  I think I said something about Santa not being real, and just being a symbol of the season. Ethan pointed out to me that he had seen Santa that day and he was in fact real.  Outwitted by a 4-year-old. Then I asked why he wanted to go see Santa, and Ethan said "I just want to meet him."

So now I'm planning to take the kids to see Santa at a nearby mall on Friday. My parents, who are ardent anti-Christmas-other-than-church-stuff people are going to have a heart attack.  But it's apparently important to my friendly little boy, so, what the heck.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

In which I express my great desire for my husband to just go away for a little bit

I love my husband. He is hands-down the best man for me. I rarely complain about him here on the blog because there's almost nothing to complain about.  He's an incredible friend, husband, and dad. He's a hard worker and provides so well for our family. There's no one I'd rather spend my time with.

But right now, he is driving me insane. He's been sick all week and has pretty much not left the house except to go to work Monday-Wednesday. Thursday he worked from home (and monopolized our lone computer) all day. Then yesterday he was supposed to be taking a sick day, but still ended up working from home  most of the time.  Again, on my computer. Which is problematic, because my entire social life is online. And it's not like he was interacting with us. He was just sitting in the middle of my living room, in his pajamas (which I'm so tired of looking at now that I want to burn them), staring at the computer screen.

Between wiping Vivian's nose and glaring at Daniel and trying to mentally move him away from the computer, nothing much else got done this week. And I'm realizing how desperately I need a break from my family from time to time.  It makes me appreciate them so much more if they go away occasionally.

Ethan and I left the house of germs today to go run errands and pick up my race bib and shirt for the Jingle Bell Run that I'm "running" tomorrow. Between the sicknesses and lack of training, it's going to be a pretty pathetic effort. But they give us a free pint of beer at the end of the race, so there's that. Yeah! Free beer at 10 AM! Outside in the rain and 40 degree weather! Whatever, I'm still drinking it. It's been that kind of week.


Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Green lights

I would like to start this post with a disclaimer- this is the most random thing that I have ever complained about. And possibly the most ridiculous.

God is seriously big time green-lighting this grad school thing. It started in October at the Women of Faith conference.  At that conference, the university that my brother attended was advertising. And at that point, the words "law and public policy degree" popped into my head.  I did not want to hear those words, so I ignored them. But they wouldn't go away.  So I finally went to the university's website and was relieved to see that they did not offer a law and public policy degree. Off the hook.

Then I randomly googled law and public policy and online degree. And another school popped up. One with an all online program. And a certificate program, rather than a full-on master's degree, but with the option to transfer credits to the master's program later. Oh, and it's a Christian school with faith-based learning. And it's really well known.

Then I started the application and tried to send it in, only to get an error screen for several days.  A sign that this idea was a bad one? (I secretly hoped so).  Then I got an email from the university saying that my application had been caught in a system upgrade and that they were waiving the application fee for me because of that. Seriously?

So then I was thinking "okay, I still have to write a big paper and pass the GRE and  maybe I won't do well at that".  Today I got another email from them, letting me know that people who are applying for the certificate program don't have to write the big paper, just a personal essay. And the GRE is optional, and really only needs to be taken if planning to enter the master's program later on.

I'm starting to think that I'm not going to get out of this.  :)  I'm going to have to learn to study again and spend my time doing something more than blogging or playing on Facebook.

I'm still going to take the GRE because I have the study books and it's scheduled and I have some time to study in the afternoons now, and I think that I probably will continue on to get my master's degree after Vivian goes to school in a few years.

So far the only negative is that certificate students don't qualify for financial aid, so we'll be doing this all out of pocket.  Not ideal, but not something that's going to stop me from doing this. It's kind of funny- I've had lots of decisions to make in my life, and so many times I've dreamed of a big arrow pointing to the right choice or a neon sign saying "do this".  This is coming awfully close to that neon sign and it's a little scary, to be perfectly honest.  But it's nice to have the reassurance too.


Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Studying

I'm studying math today. It is about as much fun as it was the first time around, 20 years ago.  Fortunately, I've always been fairly good at math. Unfortunately, I've forgotten every speck of what I learned in middle school and high school.  Today I started studying for the GRE, which is about 50% math.  To see what I needed to focus on, I took some assessment tests.  Basic math skills I did fine on, since those are actually useful, but geometry and algebra haven't entered my life in any real way since I walked out of the classroom.

Ironically, even though I spent several hours today studying math, I failed to spot the fact that our plumber overcharged us by $100 until well after he'd left.  So much for real-world application of math skills. It's been a very expensive day- bunch of money to the dentist this morning for a crown, then a staggering amount of money to replace the pipe and faucet in our bathroom. Which, according to the plumber (who did look apologetic as he said this) were clogged up because of my hair.  Yeah, I needed to be reminded of my role in this as I  handed over my credit card. 

So now I'm eating cookies and recovering from the agony of trying to remember algebra and geometry and of spending large sums of money on totally non-exciting things.  It's definitely a Tuesday!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Kitchen smells

Right now my kitchen smells like my kitchen back in Ukraine- the smell of cooking beets and onions, garlic and potatoes.  Our farm box came this morning and contained beets and carrots and tomatoes, so I got the urge to make borscht.  It's been a long time since I made it- mostly because you cannot make borscht in small amounts, so you have to have enough people around to make the time and effort worthwhile. As it is, we are going to be eating borscht for the next century. 
My first roommate, another missionary, in our living room. Note the classy carpet on the wall decor. Very traditional

My Ukrainian roommate who taught me how to make borscht

Enjoying tea in the kitchen with friends. Notice the old radio on the wall over my friend Sasha's head. It's an old Soviet model that only plays one station, has no antenna and can only be turned on or off. It played music that the government chose. http://www.bellybuttonwindow.com/1997/russia/there_is_only_one_ra.html


There's something about this time of year that makes me think of my time in Ukraine. The memories seem to be especially strong when I'm walking out in the cold late autumn weather. I remember my mornings, bundled up in my warm coat and gloves, walking across town from my flat in the center of the city to the university a little way away.  I remember breathing the cold air as I made my way through parks lined with pensioners and craftsmen selling items from their homes- old medals and Soviet souvenirs, matroshkas and other Ukrainian artwork. I remember making my way up the old staircase inside the university, in to the rundown and barely heated classroom where I would study grammar and vocabulary with my teacher and sip from small plastic cups filled with hot tea.

My building- I lived on the second floor- with the enclosed balcony (which was full of ancient things belonging to the landlord)

The University building where I studied

It seems like a lifetime ago that I was that person.  Pretty much the only resemblance to that life is that I still live in a city... and right now my kitchen smells like cooked beets.
At Livadia Palace in Yalta

I had a thing about photographing Lenin statues

Saturday, November 26, 2011

An unexpected twist in the road

We survived Thanksgiving. Most of the day was pretty quiet- went running (along with most of the population of Seattle, or so it looked like), watched the parade on TV, then went to my uncle's house to bond with a couple of dozen relatives.  These are relatives that I am not actually biologically related to and I see one branch of this family only about once a decade.  My grandmother had the good suggestion that, since the local family and the family from the other city don't see each other often, we should try to not sit with our spouses and people we know well, but with people we don't talk to often. This backfired in a terrible way, as no one really could think of anything to talk about, and we were busy with the 12 kids who were sitting all over the place.  It was the quietest gathering of 27 people ever, I'm pretty sure.

But the food was good and we made it through and yesterday Daniel took Ethan to work with him (hurray!) and I recovered and cleaned our house and did things like that. And when we went out in the late afternoon to Target, it wasn't too crowded and we still got some good deals. And Daniel bought a new pair of jeans. In the kids department.  And you wonder why I have body issues.

Okay, so when I was about 3, my dad went back to school. He already had a degree but wanted a different one. I'm vague on the details, because I was 3. And then he got a master's degree at some point in time.  Again, I'm vague on the details.  My mom was a stay-at-home mom until I was 13, when my family realized that they could not pay for college on a pastor's tiny salary. So then Mom went back and got her master's degree and that took up several years when I was a teenager.

My brother has started a collection of master's degrees and certifications and things like that. He has been studying and in school pretty much non-stop for the past decade, with no plans to stop.

I got my master's degree when I was single, and always prided myself on the fact that I was done with all that and would never disrupt my family by going back to school. When Daniel and I married, I sighed a breath of relief knowing that he (disliking reading  and very well established in his career) would not ever want to go back to school.

I smirked when friends at church and in my other life went through the "going back to school while juggling family life" thing. Because that would NEVER be us.

I should have heard God laughing at me about then.  Because I spent a good bit of last week working on my grad school application. 

For a couple of months now, I've been thinking a lot about the idea of pursuing a degree in law and public policy. I've gotten involved in the anti-human trafficking cause and have been learning a lot about advocacy and lobbying. And I've had the feeling that I really needed some education and could be a much more effective advocate with some further education.  After a good bit of research, I found a program that really appeals to me- it's an online course of study through a major Christian university back east.  Right now I'm just applying for the certificate program, but when the kids are both in school, I can transfer my credits over and go for another master's degree, if I so choose.

So now I'm filling out applications and buying GRE study books (darned test scores are only valid for 5 years, and it's been way longer than that since I last took it) and freaking out about writing an essay and personal statement and things like that.  Oh, and wondering what the heck I'm doing, but at the same time really feeling that this is the path I need to walk down. 

I'm not applying to start until Fall 2012, so this wont cut into my blogging and Facebook time for a while yet. I know you were all concerned :)

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

I am not going to survive this week

It's Tuesday.  It's raining. I did not get up and go running this morning.  It's after noon and my kids are still wearing their jammies.  And they are making me INSANE.  Ethan's off school this week, and that means there's no break, ever.  How quickly I got used to the quiet afternoons when he is at school and Vivian naps. This week it's constant bickering and shoving and Ethan is completely incapable of saying a single phrase without prefacing it with "Mom! Mom? Mom!" EVERY SINGLE TIME.  He's doing it now.

I've been struggling with Ethan lately- I'm so glad that he's gaining weight and the feeding tube has been such a huge relief. But him getting more calories means more energy. And with Ethan that means that some of his sensory issues are dialed up too.  He's a sensory seeker, which means he has to be touching someone and crashing into them and climbing and just constantly requiring input.  And I prefer to never have anyone touching me ever.  I've always been anti-physical contact. So much so that my grad school friends laughed at me because I required a large personal space bubble and would flinch if someone sat too close to me in class. So being climbed and bumped into and shoved all day by a little person is not my favorite thing. I love the hugs and kisses, but the rest of the constant touching makes me batty.

I really don't know how Ethan's teachers and therapists at school manage with 16 of these special needs boys. 

Oh, and Vivian's response to Ethan's pushing and shoving all day is to shriek and overreact at the top of her lungs.  ARGH. Thank goodness we have plans for tomorrow, because I think making it through today is going to do me in and I cannot do this for another day.

And did I mention that we are going to Thanksgiving with our usual group of relatives, but this year there are 14 extra people coming along. So there will be 27 people in my uncle's not huge house.  I have trouble breathing when I even think about that.  Thank goodness I am in charge of bringing the wine and can prepare properly :)

Now I need to stop whining and go work on being thankful for my kids and this free time we have together.  Deep breath.


Monday, November 14, 2011

Decluttering

We spent the long weekend up in Canada this weekend, hanging out with Daniel's friends and family, and actually finally getting to see my uncle. We hadn't seen him or his wife since our wedding, almost 6 years ago, so we were glad to finally have a less busy visit and to be able to make it to his home.

This weekend, when we weren't at home or at my uncle's house, we were hanging out with hordes of people. On Friday (which pretty much everyone had off school/work up in Canada), we made the gigantic mistake of going to the local mega-mall, where I'm pretty sure half of the population of Canada also was hanging out. Then we went to the Chinese mall, which was slightly less crowded. But not much.  We also went to crowded restaurants, the very crowded science museum and in between places sat in a lot of traffic.

As you know, I am an introvert. And I am an introvert who spends 90% of her waking hours at home with the kids, not interacting with anyone except via Facebook or Skype chat.  I don't usually talk on the phone (because I am scared of it), and I rarely even write emails any more. So I've totally lost what little ability I once had for being around lots of people.

This socialization overload has a weird effect on me- I develop the obsessive need to purge our home of everything unnecessary and to clean and tidy and organize.  Even things like my Facebook feed or the number of blogs that I follow but don't read finally got to be too much. So, since we got home last night, I've been bouncing from project to project, tidying, purging, removing, etc.

I hope this little episode lasts long enough to get to the things that really need organized, like the junk drawer and the snack cabinet. Must stay crazy a little longer!!!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Romance

Yesterday, Daniel did one of the most romantic things ever- he came home at 1:15 PM.  It's been a really hard week for him at work with some really late nights. But today they were not trying another of their (ultimately doomed) deploys, so he packed up and made it home early. And we were SO happy. We had a morning playdate with good friends, then only few hours of each others' company and then the fabulous Daddy was home and we were so happy.

And then last night my amazing church hosted a Parents Night Out, and we dropped the kids off and ran away to dinner and then to Target. It was so nice to have a meal without anyone throwing food or dancing next to the table.  During our date, I kept thinking- we should be more romantic or we should have more romantic conversations. And then I realized- this is who we are. These are the conversations we had when we were dating- ones about the economy and technology and bank accounts. Because this is us. We are not romantic people (Although Daniel does bring me flowers fairly regularly) Neither of us likes overt displays of emotion. We operate best in a world that is controlled and calm. And that works for us, even if it's not the type of romance that you see in the movies.  

So in my world, yesterday was perfect. My husband came home early, and was here for us. And then we spent time together at dinner and at Target. And we were happy.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Once upon a time, my life did not revolve around poop

Poop. Poop, poop, poop. That's all we talk about or think about around here anymore. Has Ethan gone lately?  How's his stomach doing? Should we run a feed tonight since he hasn't pooped lately? What about Vivian? How's she doing?  MY LIFE IS ALL ABOUT THE POOP.

This does not fill me with a great sense of accomplishment as a person. Particularly since the whole pooping thing has turned into a giant power struggle with Ethan. He'll just sit there for HOURS and do nothing. He just stares into space and doesn't make any attempt to go and it makes me insane.  Which I generally fix by lurking just out of his sight in the kitchen and trying to eat my weight in snack food while I wait for him to JUST DO SOMETHING ALREADY!!!

In 48 hours though, we will be ditching our kids at our church for a few hours for a free babysitting evening! Three and a half hours of free child care!  Daniel and I have been so overwhelmed with Ethan's health and Vivian's recent viruses and Daniel's insanely busy job that we haven't even really had a conversation (at least one that wasn't about website deployments (his obsession of late) or poop (mine, obviously)). 

Our big plans for the evening involve going to an Indian restaurant and then to Target.  Because we are wild and crazy that way :)

In other news, anxiously waiting for the time change on Sunday morning so that I can actually run in the mornings again without worry of being attacked in the darkness. Because really, if you were some sort of bad guy and you had your choice of who to grab, I'm clearly the slowest runner out there and provide the best chance.  At least that's my excuse for why I've not been running lately. What I really need is a running partner, but that's not terribly likely to happen. 

And in other, other news, I have two social events scheduled for the next two days. I get to talk to other actual human beings (probably about poop, but I'll try to think of something else to contribute to the conversation). So happy!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Emotional stretching

As I think most of you know, I was diagnosed with severe clinical depression back in the spring. And I started going to therapy and taking medication, and I'm overall doing much better.  But I'm still not doing a good job of being in touch with my emotions or dealing with them. Over the last 15 years, I've become very disassociated from my feelings. It's just easier that way.  Not healthy, but much easier.

But sometimes I have no choice but to come in contact with emotions. The past three weeks have been especially emotional, starting with Ethan's surgery and recovery. A little stretching of the emotions there, although I also had to be strong and in charge and responsible for Ethan's health and feeding, so I could kind of ignore it then.

And then last weekend I spent Saturday at an anti-human trafficking conference.  Try not feeling emotions at a place like that.  Again, I was able to mostly just put aside my emotions and think about the practical side of things- what the group I'm involved with can be doing, how we can get more involved, how I can be physically doing more.  Emotions again successfully avoided.

Then this weekend I had the opportunity to attend Women of Faith here in Seattle. Two days of worshiping and laughing and crying and listening to women tell their stories on stage, and having my faith encouraged. All in a massive arena full of 5000 women.  By yesterday evening, my friend and I were utterly emotionally drained.  So many thoughts, so many feelings, so much input.  I came home last night feeling tireder than I was after I ran my 10K this fall. 

I told Daniel that attending the conference this weekend was like being dropped into an emotional marathon with almost no training.  This emotional, personal stuff is hard work.  But I'm glad that I went to Women of Faith- I heard so many things that I desperately needed to hear.  I got so many reminders that I don't have to do it all and I don't have to do it perfectly. I got reminders of God's ever present grace and love. I got reminded that I am beautiful in His sight. And I got the much, much needed message that, if I am still walking this earth, then God's purpose for me is not fulfilled. Even the small things that I do in life can have a profound effect in years to come.

And now I need a nap :)

Monday, October 24, 2011

30.4 pounds

* If you are my friend on Facebook, you might not want to waste your time reading this post.  You've heard it all already :)


We started out our week by getting up while it was still dark and driving through the rain to Children's Hospital for Ethan's post-op check up.  And all the grey and gloom of the day was soon pushed aside when Ethan weighed in- because he is up to 30.4 pounds!!!! He's never gotten above 29 before, so this was huge for us.  He gained almost three pounds in two weeks! I am not a very emotional person, but I got a little choked up when the nurse told us what he weighs. What a blessing!

We were planning to go to a farm/pumpkin patch after our morning appointment, but today's predicted "partly cloudy skies" were doing a lot more raining than being partly cloudy this morning, so attempt #2 to go to this place was scrapped. We're hoping for Wednesday. We'll see.

And on the Vivian front, she continues to entertain and amuse us. Last night during bedtime prayers I burst out laughing and startled Daniel. Because while he was praying for Vivian, she raised her hand and said "Jesus! Here I am!" Funniest thing she's done in a long time :)

Also on the Vivian front, I've gotten her to sleep in her own bed for two nights in a row now, by telling her that her stuffed pandas (which number 7 or 8 now) get too lonely and cry when she leaves them to go sleep in Mommy and Daddy's bed. She's going through a very maternal stage, so this is seeming to work, as she loves and takes care of her pandas and didn't like the idea of them being sad.  I'm not sure if that's good parenting or not, but I'm really tired of being kicked in the ribs by little toes.

Happy Monday!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Yawning

We had a couple of gorgeous autumn days here, then the grey returned yesterday afternoon. We were all sad and increased our coffee consumption.  Despite the grey and cold, I was determined to go out running this morning. I've pretty much done nothing healthy for the past 6 weeks and have instead sat around loathing myself and feeling lumpish. It's not a good thing. 

So I managed to get up on time this morning and, after waiting for the sun to finally rise around 7:30, headed out on a run.  In an attempt to NOT injure my legs (again), I'm starting over with the couch to 5K program.  I had gotten into some bad running habits before, and I'm going to try to fix those and focus on running well, rather than running further. And it wasn't a bad run this morning.  I didn't go far, but I was able to run and breathe and focus on form and I felt good at the end of it.  And when I got home I felt all energized and "hurray me! I did something not self-destructive for once!". 

Then the endorphins and coffee wore off and when I went to make my bed, it took every ounce of willpower to not crawl back under the covers. That's the problem with morning exercise for me, it makes me SO DARNED SLEEPY all day.

In other news, I'm going to my first human trafficking conference on Saturday. I'm looking forward to it, because I really do want to learn more about this topic and figure out more ways to help. But I also know it's going to be incredibly depressing and sad, so I'm stocking up on the wine and chocolate for Saturday night. Then I get to round out my weekend by going to try on bridesmaids dresses on Sunday afternoon, and staring at my round, pale self in lots of full-length mirrors. This is less depressing than talking about human trafficking, of course, but not what I would call fun or encouraging.  Should be an interesting weekend :)




Monday, October 17, 2011

Ah, a perfect autumn day

It's 3 PM. I'm sitting in my sun-filled living room, enjoying a diet coke and some quiet.  Ethan returned to school on the bus today (I drove him to and from school on Thursday). Since I was about to lose my mind from all the fighting and whining this morning, I was very happy to buckle him into his seat on the bus, wave goodbye, put my headphones in and enjoy a nice stroll to the post office with Vivian.  After which she napped. Bliss! 

I am kind of glad in a weird way to see the return of the bickering and shoving, as it means Ethan is feeling better. We're still messing with the timing of his feeds, since he doesn't really sleep soundly when he's getting fed through the tube, but otherwise it's going well. He's still a little slow when he bends over, but otherwise is almost back to full strength. Last week was pretty awful, so I'm glad that this week is starting out better.

In other, weird news, I had an acquaintance from church come up to me yesterday and let me know that she'd run across my review blog while looking at reviews for a play at the local children's theater. And that, my friends, is why I don't write posts for the online adult store much anymore.  Yes, I was only writing about candles and other totally G-rated stuff, but still.  Oh, and my parents found the review blog last month too, so that's another reason. 

Seriously, diet coke, a pile of neatly folded laundry, sunshine and quiet. Best afternoon ever :)

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Today? It kind of sucked.

Last night my parents called at the absolute worst time ever. We were all concerned because Ethan hadn't pooped in 4 days and I was rustling through my papers and trying to figure out who to call and I was annoyed at Ethan who didn't even seem to be trying.... and then my mom and dad called and I know it was a terrible conversation and I probably snarled at them.

I topped off the bad daughter routine with a psycho Mommy routine this morning, forever cementing me as the "least able to deal with things woman ever!" winner.  Thankfully, we had decided and done major car-juggling so that I could drive Ethan to school, so I got to drop him off this afternoon and Vivian and I got to go to the grocery store AND Goodwill and we were happy and felt rewarded.

Ethan also refused to be friendly with his grandparents tonight on Skype and started hitting Vivian again, but we actually see that now as a good thing, since it means he's recovering.  It's all about frames of reference, people.

I need a vacation.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Fanning the flames

Okay, so this is totally NOT on the topic of Ethan and his surgery or Children's Hospital. For once.  This is something that happened last week and I knew I had to write about it, but keep forgetting.

So, this takes place last Friday, at my oral surgeon's office. I had an implant placed a couple of weeks ago and had to go back on Friday afternoon for them to check it. And, since Daniel had missed work for my implant and would be missing this week for Ethan's stuff, I had to take the kids along.  It was to be a fast appointment, and we have plenty of distracting electronic devices for them to play with, so no big deal.

And the kids were good, other than spilling a cup of ice water on my lap in the waiting room and disagreeing a bit on who got to hold the toy.

So the appointment was done and we were ready to check out. And the guy at the front desk starts talking to me loudly about my kids and how cute they are, and then began to say this: "You're my hero! I don't know how you stay at home with kids all day. You're just amazing!" (Not too bad so far, right?) And then he turns to the woman sitting at the desk next to him and said "I think she's just amazing! She stays home with her kids all day!"  And THEN he says to me "(Name of the coworker sitting next to him) has a baby who is almost 1 and who is just starting to walk."

That's right! He gushed effusively about the wonders of stay-at-home moms IN FRONT OF HIS WORKING MOM COWORKER! I wanted to throw the remnants of the cup of ice water at him.  Fortunately, before he made the comment about his coworker also being a mom, I had made comments about how much I enjoy the days when my son goes to school and how it is tough and I do often miss my job. 

Working moms and stay-at-home moms have enough angst as it is, justifying our choices to ourselves and our friends and trying to figure out what works for our families, and (obviously well-meaning, but misguided) comments like this do not help.  Personally, I know that I need to be at home now, especially with all of Ethan's issues.  But that doesn't mean I'm going to be a stay-at-home mom forever or that I think I am doing a better job than I was when I was a working mom- in fact most of the time I worry that Vivian isn't getting all the education and stimulation that Ethan got when he was in daycare.  Still, this is what's right for my family right now.  But it has no relevance for what is right for anyone else and her situation.

And now I am done venting and it is 3PM and I think I need another cup of coffee to get me through the afternoon.

Home again

We finally got discharged from Children's last night around 6 and made it back home to our place around 7.  It was so nice to be done with all the hospital stuff and back where we all belonged. They took great care of us at Children's, but it's still not the most fun place to hang out.

Ethan's doing okay, but definitely is having a harder time recovering that we anticipated. I told Daniel last night that I'm really glad we had exhausted every single other option and knew this was absolutely what we had to do, because it's tough to watch Ethan be in pain on Monday and Tuesday and now just tired and not wanting to do much more than sitting.

Last night I was too exhausted to deal with a nighttime pump feeding (how quickly you lose the ability to deal with sleep deprivation!) so we held off until this morning. Probably a good thing, as Ethan finally broke down last night and spent a good 30 minutes just sobbing. Not because of pain or discomfort, just because of all he had been through in the past two days. I can't imagine being 4 and not understanding what's going on or why you're there or why you hurt. I remember being angry and frustrated after the four surgeries I've had in my life, and I was old enough to know what's going on every time.

The feeding tube does seem to be working well now, and it's WAY easier to use than the NG tube was. No checking tube placement or worrying that the tube is in the lungs or that it's too far out of the stomach.  I just program the pump, load the bag and plug Ethan in.  Definitely less stressful and worrisome than before. I'm running a small amount of food into him right now while he watches TV, then we'll start with nighttime feeds tonight.

On multiple occasions over the past week, people have asked me how I'm doing with all of this.  And I keep having the same comment, that I'm tired, but fine.  I don't know if this is how all parents feel, but I just feel like in the midst of the surgery and recovery and treatment, I don't have the time or energy to deal with my own emotions. I have to be paying attention to what's going on and advocating for my child and taking care of his needs. I'm sure there is some stress and other emotions lurking in the back of my brain, but the "what I need to deal with right now" part of my brain is not letting those through. Also, there's the fact that when you go to Children's, it's pretty likely that you're going to be surrounded by kids who are much sicker than your own. The girl that was in the same room as Ethan had been there for a month.  A MONTH at Children's.  So our two days there and Ethan's surgery didn't seem so bad after all.

In other news, Vivian has spent the past 4 days going from being alone with Daddy to being spoiled rotten by lots of relatives up in Canada to being back here with me (briefly) to being home alone with Grandma, to hanging out at the hospital for hours...and you can probably imagine what that ends up with in a 2 year old.  Reprogramming of the toddler desperately needed!  Poor kid though, she understands even less about what's going on than Ethan does.

So, spending today at home trying to get Ethan back on track and catch up with the laundry. Oh, and admire all the piles of random things that my mother-in-law folded while she was here.  She's not one to sit still or rest, so between chasing Vivian around and entertain her, she tidies up, and since my home is already pretty tidy, she's reduced to folding anything that isn't folded. It's both useful and entertaining, all at once.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Monday at Children's Hospital

Today was Ethan's surgery day, so early this morning we dragged Ethan out of bed, said goodbye to Vivian and Grandma and headed to the hospital.  Things went quickly from there, with Ethan soon in surgery and after a couple of hours, we were all reunited in his hospital room.  The procedure went well, but he's pretty upset about the IV and the tube in his stomach.  He also seems to be in pain, which is hard to watch.

I know we had to do this and that it will be the right choice long-term, but it's awfully painful to sit here and stare at my child, knowing that I carried him into the operating room and then when he woke up, everything had changed and was painful. 

This is one of those times when parenthood seems very real.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Trying to focus

My therapist once asked me a question- along the lines of "what is the worst part of your appointments to discuss Ethan's growth?" And without a doubt, the answer was "telling the grandparents." Okay, so here's the truth. Sometimes I've joked about the value of going straight from no kids to being a grandparent. My mom's best friend married late in life and did just that.  But the problem of being a grandparent, as I see it, is that you have all of the love (and possibly even a bit more) than a parent has, and almost none of the say in decisions.

My parents and Daniel's parents have been completely supportive about us going forward with the surgery for Ethan's feeding tube. So much so that Daniel's mom has insisted on coming down and staying with us Sunday-Tuesday so that she can watch Vivian and come visit Ethan, even though she herself is now having cataract surgery on Thursday (they're Canadian, and appointments kind of choose you, not the other way around). My  parents, who have been totally and 1000000% behind the decision, were all of a sudden sounding freaked out on Skype today when we chatted.

The truth is, I know, beyond the faintest shadow of a doubt, that my 28 pound 4-year-old is never going to gain weight on his own. He eats approximately one meal per day, which is great, but that's not even enough to maintain weight, much less gain the weight he needs.  It's just really hard being in a position where I have to be strong for Ethan and for my parents and Daniel's parents, and for Daniel, while I'm at it.  And it hurts to be away from Vivian this weekend (she went with Daniel to Canada today to pick up his mom) and know that I'm mostly going to be away from her on Monday and Tuesday as well. Sometimes I just want to be 6 years old again and stamp my feet and scream "BUT I DON'T WANT TO BE A GROWN-UP!!!!"

Fortunately, I have a lot of peace and prayers going out with us and the memory of my dear friend putting her hand on Ethan on Friday and saying "God Bless You and Keep You" as she left.  That small act of kindness and shared faith broke me down into a small fit of (good) crying on Friday. It's nice to have reminders that I am not alone, and that God loves and is taking care of my little boy.  There's a lot of peace in that.

On a related note, I have consumed approximately 2000 calories of chocolate today, and I'm pretty sure once I'm relegated to sleeping in the kids' room tomorrow night (since my mother-in-law will be sleeping in our room) I will consume at least 1000 calories more. Seriously, there should be some rule that calories consumed within a week of a child's visit to Children's Hospital don't count. Let's get on that people, okay :)

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The October doldrums

It's definitely October here in Seattle. Right now it's something like 53 degrees and drizzling. And the oppressive gray skies that drive us to drink lots of coffee have returned.  I'm thrilled that it's cooled off outside and inside, but I'm definitely experiencing a lack of light slump.  We've pretty much spent the whole week holed up inside, looking out at the drizzle and sighing. Eventually I will have to get over this and start venturing out of the house again, because if I wait for sunshine and blue skies, I will be stuck at home until sometime in August of 2012.

Not only have we been home all week, but I have accomplished nothing. On my to-do list: make sure everything is ready for Ethan's surgery and hospital stay, get Vivian and Daniel packed for their quick trip to Canada this weekend, clean the house before Daniel's mom arrives, work on my anti human trafficking volunteer work, send long overdue emails to some friends, plan our meal schedule for this week and next week.  What I have actually done: laundry, spent hours searching the house for chocolate, drank lots of coffee, played on Facebook. Yeah, I'm super productive and energetic.

Part of the problem is that I haven't got anything fun to look forward to.  Next week isn't exactly going to be lots of fun, and although the feeding tube should really help Ethan, it is going to be an ongoing maintenance issue for me. And I tried to plan a couple of playdates for this week and next, only to discover that everyone is on different preschool schedules and there seems to be no overlap in free time. Thankfully I think I have plans with one friend later this week- hurray for that!

Send sunshine. And chocolate :)

Friday, September 30, 2011

Friday! Hurray!

Hurray! It's Friday! And we're off to Target soon.  And it's 65 degrees and sunny here, again. Perfection!

Glad to be done with this week. Can't really remember what went on, but it was not impressive, for sure. Ethan was off school on Wednesday for inservice, and might I say- the second week of school? TOO SOON for the kids to be home for a day. 

Yesterday I had dental surgery and it was done under sedation, so I couldn't eat or drink for 8 hours before. Honestly, the food I could live without, but getting through the morning with the kids sans coffee was very difficult. I felt like I was half sedated already by the time my appointment rolled around. Fortunately the morning without coffee was the worst of the whole thing. After that, I showed up at the oral surgeon, they gave me an IV, I went to sleep, woke up a bit to go home with Daniel, then napped the rest of the day.  And I think that any mom could tell you that a day off is a good thing, however it comes about.  I have no idea what Daniel and the kids did- when I was semi-awake, there seemed to be a lot of watching of Wonder Pets, but whatever.

Speaking of Wonder Pets, my kids seem to have a true gift for becoming obsessed with the worst kids' shows.  Our Netflix queue has so many cute options, but they pick the most annoying. Which is why Barney is not allowed to be played in our home under any circumstances. I suffered through that back when I was a teenager and was babysitting. It will never be allowed in my home. 

Okay, being dragged off the computer to play hockey with the kids. Hope everyone has a good weekend! 


Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Bravery

Ethan's first surgery is finally scheduled- the first feeding tube will be placed on October 10th.  Then he'll have a follow-up surgery in three months to replace it with another type of tube.  Not looking forward to dealing with the pump all night again, but glad that there's a solution to his weight loss coming soon.

It's a glorious, quiet afternoon here in my condo. All the bus drama of last week is finally dealt with and Ethan was whisked off to school on time this afternoon. Vivian has happily started napping again now that there's nothing more exciting going on, so that's pretty terrific.  I'm cleaning and trying to catch up on blog posts, as I'm having dental surgery on Thursday and will be out of commission for that day. 

I've also been thinking a lot today, after some interesting conversations with my therapist this morning.  Having thoughts about courage and bravery. That's a topic that's been on my mind a lot lately, thanks to a couple of books that I read.  Thinking about the person I used to be- the EMT who worked on an ambulance, the 23-year-old who moved to Ukraine for a year, not knowing a soul there.  I've never been a live-on-the edge type, but I lived a pretty big life.  I've been feeling lately like I sort of lost that bravery and sense of wondering what's out there to experience. I'm controlled by silly things, like my phobia of making phone calls. And I avoid books or movies or TV shows that aren't almost entirely positive and happy and fluffy. 

I want my old courage back- I want to start experiencing new things again, and I want Ethan and Vivian to grow up thinking of life as a great adventure. 

Just not sure how to go about it yet. 

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Carrie and the no-good day

Today was a Children's Hospital day. I've yet to experience one of those that didn't leave me feeling emotionally drained and exhausted.  Today the emotional tiredness started as soon as I woke up. I was confused, but then remembered what was on our morning schedule.

Don't get me wrong, I love Children's Hospital and the amazing staff there. Everyone we've ever interacted with has been friendly and welcoming and supportive.  But it's hard to go there with a sick kid. And it's even harder to see how many other families are there and see kids that are obviously not doing well. Every parent in the building has the same look- hopeful about a solution, but also a look of tiredness.

Finally, after months and months and years of Ethan not eating and trying every therapy available and attempts at high-calorie foods and supplement drinks and even months of Vivian sitting next to him and showing him how a "normal" kid eats, Ethan has actually lost weight since his 4 year well-child appointment. My 4 year old weighs in at 27 pounds. So today we made the decision to go ahead and have a gastric tube placed. This is going to mean surgery in the next few weeks, then another in three months.  I'm overwhelmed and sad, but also know that we have done EVERYTHING in our human power and we've all prayed our hearts out, but the solution was not what we hoped.  I'm so grateful to have a solution at all though, that I'm okay with this.

After Ethan's appointment, we came home to wait for his school bus.  Yesterday it was about 30 minutes late, but it was the first day and the driver assured me that it was a fluke. Today the bus was 90 minutes late. It finally showed up 10 minutes after we'd given up and gone in (since Vivian was having a total nap-needing toddler melt-down outside).  25 minutes after the actual start of school.  I momentarily thought about running Ethan back downstairs, but two hours on the bus for 90 minutes of school just didn't work for me. So I unexpectedly had a preschooler home all day, and a very disappointed one at that.

I reassured him that tonight would be fun, that we were going to enjoy a gorgeous Seattle night and have dinner on the beach with our church friends. Our gathering with them started an hour ago.  I'm sitting in my pjs on the couch, and the kids are in bed. Daniel's still at work, so that outing got canceled at the last minute too.

I think the kids are dealing with all of today's stresses and disappointments better than I am.  However, Glee is on tonight, and that almost never disappoints :) Bring on the wine and the great television!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Taking a deep breath

My parents left yesterday morning. Then we had our usual crazy Friday before meeting up with my brother and his wife for dinner. They flew out early this morning. And at 7:30 this morning, Daniel headed to the mountains for our church's mens' retreat.  The kids and I are sitting around the house in our pjs, confused by the concept of free time and also by the fact that there are no other adults around. I'm really hoping that I remember how to actually take care of my kids by myself :)

Ethan starts school on Monday, so we're trying to have a quiet weekend between the insanity of the past two weeks and the upcoming crowded calendar.  This year he's in afternoon preschool, which makes me beyond happy.  Last year he got home at the same time that Vivian sometimes naps, so she didn't nap for most of the school year.  This year he'll be leaving at the same time that she goes down, so there's hope for quiet and free time for me.  I'm also happy because I'm great at entertaining the kids in the morning, but not in the afternoon, so this solves a big part of that problem.

I do worry about his teachers though, because the PM preschool class is currently made up of 10 boys. No girls. And remember that these are all special needs kids.  Those are going to be some tired teachers by 3:30 every day.

In other good news, it's cooled off here in Seattle, and the coolness has finally found its way into my home.  We're down to 75 in the living room, so I've been able to put away the fans and what not. And I can dry my hair and put on my makeup without sweating. Score!


Monday, September 12, 2011

Yesterday, I ran a 10K. And did not come in last.

Yesterday morning, entirely too early, my sister-in-law and I laced up our shoes and headed to join the 3000+ other women lined up to run at the Iron Girl race going on at Green Lake. My poor sister-in-law got dragged into the race by virtue of planning a visit on the weekend when I was going to be running.  And I'm so glad she was here- she ran with me, no matter how slow I went, also hated all the crazy fast people who were finishing the 10K at the same time we passed the 5K/halfway point, was willing to walk with me when I needed a break, and actually tried to finish behind me when we crossed the finish line. In the end, we crossed at the same time, and she is now alphabetically ahead of me, so she placed first.  I'm so grateful for her support that I don't even mind.
Us, pre-race. My family was forbidden from taking photos during or post-race. I love them so much for complying. :)
It's still a little mind-boggling that I actually ran and completed a 6.2 mile race.  Me, the person who never ran a step until last spring.

Now I'm going to rest up my achy legs and try to decide what to shoot for next. I don't think I have the attention span for a longer distance, which means I probably need to work on refining my running and maybe actually doing it in a way that I don't injure myself and end up fatter than I was before I started running. Just a thought.

Still, I'm awfully happy and proud of the 6.2 miles that I logged in public this weekend. Especially given that only 525 of the 3000+ people participating even attempted the 10K distance.  It's nice to know that I am capable of something physical like this. I'm terribly uncoordinated and am chubby, but I can accomplish things that I set my mind to.  It's good to know.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

In which I confess to not really missing my children

I admit it, I haven't really missed the kids these past two days. Don't get me wrong, I'm going to be absolutely thrilled to see them and hear about their trip and get hugs and snuggles and kisses tonight.  But I've REALLY enjoyed my three days of freedom.  I expected to miss the kids more- especially Vivian, since I normally spend almost 24 hours a day with her. She sleeps next to us, wants to be held all the time and is rarely more than a few feet away from me. So I thought I would feel her absence especially strongly.


But I haven't. 

I was talking about this last night with Daniel (since I feel a little guilty about it), and noted that I think it's because they've just been SO MUCH lately.  They're always around, always talking, always bickering.  I'm constantly stressed about Ethan's food and supplement intake and weight and worried about his upcoming appointment. It's just all-consuming sometimes.

And it's been pretty terrific to be able to clean the house and have it stay cleaned. And to be able to get some things checked off my long-term to-do list.  I'm definitely more efficient without little ones underfoot.  And today I'm going off alone downtown to a blogger luncheon and to do some shopping and to the library, and I'm entirely too excited about it :)

But it will be good to have them home tonight. Daniel's just not as snuggly as the kids. :)

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Absent

Thinking about absences today.  Probably because there are some noticeable absences in my life right now.

1) The kids! They went to Portland this morning with my parents to visit my grandmother. They're not coming home until Thursday afternoon/evening.  Fortunately they were in rare form this morning, so I was not too sad to send them off. Am already missing them a bit though.

2) All kid furniture in the living room. That's right, we've completely gotten anything kid-related out of our living room and safely tucked into their bedroom.  That's thanks to the absence of another thing...

3) Vivian's toddler bed/crib. We've had the big crib in the kids' room since Ethan was a baby, and had converted it to a toddler bed last year for Vivian.  Ethan had a smaller toddler bed on his side of the room. But look what we got this weekend!


Ethan doesn't do change very well, so thoroughly rejected the idea of a new bed last time we were at IKEA. This Saturday we went and expected the same result when we casually suggested the bed to Ethan, only to be met with acceptance from him. Because he's recently started climbing everything and was thrilled by the idea of a ladder.

We actually bought the bed on Sunday, and Daniel and I put it together that afternoon/evening, with help from his brother and his dad, and thanks to the fact that all four grandparents and an uncle and aunt were around to distract the kids.  Yes, eight adults is the right number for keeping two small kids entertained and under control.

The new bed necessitated some redecoration, since it went up on Vivian's side of the room, but I dusted off my crafting skills and made this for Ethan.
 So simple and cheap!

We also moved over his rocket decal, although he was insistent that we leave the yellow flowers. 


Vivian's got her little space too, with her dollhouse tucked in a corner. We're calling her space the Panda Cave, since she's currently in a panda phase. And the other side of the room is great for all their toys.
The best news though, is that we can now use our Murphy bed again (it's behind the table and easel there).  Since Ethan's bed has been in front of it, we haven't been able to use that since Vivian was born.  We rarely have overnight guests, but it's nice to have somewhere to stay if we do need to have someone sleep over in our room, rather than us sleeping in the living room.

Other absences
4) Mess in the house
5) Noise in the house
6) Snuggles and hugs :(


So far I've spent my day of freedom doing laundry, going to the dentist and walking to the post office.  I told my dentist this and he gave me a look of total disapproval.  The hygienist suggested that I should take a nap and seemed very disappointed in me when I said that I don't nap. I did assure them that Daniel and I were going out for dinner tonight and he's taking tomorrow off work, so my patheticness wouldn't last long.  The people at the grocery store also had suggestions for my free time and I walked away from the checkout line to the sounds of the checker and bagger saying "have a great time while they're gone!"  I love my neighborhood- everyone knows us and cares. It's a good feeling. 


Friday, September 2, 2011

The last day of summer vacation

Summer vacation sort of ends for us today. This is the last of the long, relatively unstructured days for the kids and I.  Tomorrow night my parents arrive. Then Daniel's parents and his brother and sister-in-law are coming down for the day on Sunday.  And my brother and sister-in-law arrive next week. And the kids are going to Portland with my parents to see my grandmother.  Do you have any idea how horribly spoiled these kids are going to be by the time my parents go home in two weeks? They're the only grandkids on both sides.  So they are adored and spoiled by everyone, and they're seeing pretty much everyone in the next week or so.

I told Daniel that he should go to our church's men's retreat the weekend between my family leaving and schools starting, because I was just going to need to spend the weekend reprogramming the kids anyway.

We're all excited, because we love seeing my parents and Daniel's parents and everyone.  And I always like having extra adults around.  And don't even get me started on the fact that my parents are taking the kids away for two days. Alone time in my own house! That never happens.  I have big plans to rent a carpet cleaner and clean the carpets.  Yes, I am wild and crazy.  Daniel is going to take one day off work, and we're going to try to remember what life was like pre-kids.  I'm pretty sure that we'll just talk about the kids non-stop and I'll whine about missing them :)

And then everyone will be gone again and Ethan will be off to preschool and we'll have to learn a new routine. I can't believe September is here and school is on its way back.  Hopefully it'll be a good year for all of us!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Bandaids

First off, I'd like to admit to how utterly pathetic we are on Mondays. Every week, when Daniel leaves for work, we all just sort of look at each other and begin randomly wandering around the condo looking for things to do. It's like all of our usual structure and ability to entertain ourselves gets lost somewhere in the weekend rush.  Thankfully we have plans for most of the rest of the week, so I'm hopeful.

Ethan lately has been obsessed with car crashes and things falling over and such.  I know he's only 4 and there's only so much he can understand, but I've been trying to introduce him to the idea that sometimes people get hurt in these situations and they aren't something we should laugh at. My cause is not helped by his obsession with the show Wipeout, in which people fall and run into things and get hit and are seemingly undamaged. But I digress. Whenever I tell him that people can get hurt, he generally responds with "I'll give them a bandaid".  Because that's the extent of his understanding of being hurt. Since he's uber-cautious, he's only even had a handful of scrapes and bumps. 

Then on Saturday we went to a screening of Lion King 3D. And when we got to the scene of the wildebeest stampede where the Daddy lion gets killed, I looked over to see Ethan wiping his eyes and sniffing and saying "I'm not crying, Mommy", even though he clearly was. And a bit of my heart broke as I realized that he understood a bit more than before.  I know kids grow up and eventually they understand hard and sad things, but it's still tough to see them lose that innocence and start to realize that in their world, bandaids and hugs from Mommies can't actually fix everything.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

"Need to hurry!"

I only move at two speeds- reallyreallyreallyfast and not at all.  Most of the time I'm moving at reallyreallyreallyfast speed with either my mind or body. It's really hard for me to slow down- relaxing stresses me out, I've probably only taken a handful of naps this decade, and sleeping at night is always challenging.

This need to move move move fast fast fast has helped me throughout life- I was known at my job for my efficiency and speed in getting work done.  But now I'm not spending my day writing technical papers, I'm spending my day with a 4-year-old and a 2-year-old. And they do not move fast.  Particularly when we're out and about.  Until recently, I managed this slowness by taking the kids out in the double stroller whenever we went out.  And then I started training for the 10K (coming up way too soon) and have been fighting with nasty shin splints and pushing around 75 pounds of kids and stroller is just no longer an option. 

So now when we go places, we go at Ethan speed (Vivian still prefers the stroller most of the time). And when I stop and listen to myself, I'm appalled at just how often I hear myself telling Ethan to speed up or hurry up or keep moving.  He's 4, he's discovering the world and I am NOT helping.  And the thing is- most of the time there is no good reason for me to be telling the kids to hurry.  We generally have nothing on the schedule for the day and there's no reason to make our walk home from the museum take only 15 minutes instead of 30. There is usually nothing at home except laundry.

This tendency of mine has been really made real to me lately by the fact that both kids will randomly say "Mama, we need to hurry!".  It kind of hurts to hear that- I've turned my kids into worriers who feel the need (randomly, never when I want them to hurry) to move fast. 

I'm trying to work on this- today when I was walking Ethan over to his day camp at the Children's Museum, I was careful about my words and let him go as slowly as he wanted. And it hurt me a little.  But I don't want my kids to grow up with the internal and external frenzy that has consumed my life. I need to learn from them and move at preschooler speed once in a while.

On a totally different note, about 3 weeks ago Vivian got up one night from our bed, walked into her room and got in her bed and has been sleeping there through the night ever since.  This, my friends, is why I'm not potty training the child. When she doesn't want to do something, no power on earth can move her. And when she makes up her mind, there's no effort at all.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The problem with my new t-shirt

Last week I ventured over to Etsy to look at running stuff, and ended up buying a t-shirt with the phrase "running sucks" across the front. Which, if you run and are not completely weird, you will realize is true. Running is hard and it hurts and (worst of all, in my opinion), you get all sweaty and yucky. I really enjoy running only when I've just finished a run and I'm all busy being proud of myself and happy that I don't have to run anymore that day. 

Suckiness aside, I still do it and I know it's good for me.

So, this morning, I set out around the lake, wearing my pretty new purple shirt, with the bright lettering that read "running sucks" on it.  And about 10 feet into my run, I realized that there is a serious problem with wearing a shirt that makes a statement like that. In order for me to be making a funny jokey statement with the shirt, I actually had to be running. All the time. Or at least whenever anyone would run past, which is pretty much all of the time. No more lazy fat girl breaks. If I'm wearing a shirt that says "running sucks" out at a busy running area and NOT running, then I'm just pathetic and maybe even a little judgmental.  

On a good note, I ran the 6K this morning several minutes faster than on any other run in the recent past. So perhaps it was a good motivation.  :)

Monday, August 15, 2011

Lather, rinse, repeat

Before I get into the main point of this post, I'd like to record for posterity the details of the cartoon that my kids are watching right now. It's their newest obsession and it's called Fishtronaut. The main characters are a girl, a talking monkey, and a fish who flies around in a space suit. And the three of them help solve environmental problems. WHO THINKS UP THESE SHOWS?

Anyway. We're just back from Ethan's 4-year well child appointment and post-appointment trip to the Science Museum. Not a good combo for promotion of maternal mental stability.  Ethan's healthy as always, tolerated his multitude of shots well and everything looks good. Except his weight. I feel like we're in this endless loop. Every well child appointment comes around, we're all concerned about his weight, we go to Children's and they run tests or have a suggestion, we try it, it fails, we're back at his regular doctor for another appointment, we're all concerned, she refers us to Children's....

After the NG tube and the beginning of therapy and school, we were all really hopeful and he did seem to make a bit of progress. But not enough.  Our primary care doctor got detailed info from several people at Children's so that we know when to be a lot concerned versus in a "wait and see" level of concerned.  In Ethan's particular case, the recommendation was that he gain a certain amount of weight every month, in order to start catching up on the curve and maintain what he needs for proper physical and mental development.  Instead of gaining this amount of weight EACH month, he gained that amount of weight total. 

I was so hopeful that we'd be able to get some weight on him this summer while he's home four extra hours per day. I thought that with those extra four hours I could stuff him full of ice cream and nutritional supplement. But it didn't happen.

Back last December when we were trying to make a decision about the NG tube, Ethan once asked me to sing "Jesus Loves Me" to him.  Ever since then, I've had the line in the song "little ones to Him belong- they are weak, but He is strong." stuck in my head. I KNOW that's true. And it helps immensely. I'm a big believer in prayer and healing and guidance. But it's still hard being the one who's on the front lines with this and who has to make the big decisions that are going to affect my son forever.

In other, much fluffier news, I went to a fancy haircut place this weekend with one of those deal of the day coupons and got a great cut and color. And I finally got some backup on the evils of my hair- after cutting it, the stylish said "yeah, you have some really interesting growth patterns going on here." She also affirmed me in my resolution to never, ever, ever again get bangs.  She said that she's recommended bangs for every client who has ever asked for them, but that my hair's growth pattern is going to make sure that it's always a wrong choice for me. I love fancy hair stylists!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Four

Somehow, without me really noticing, four years have passed.  And in the blink of an eye, we've gone from this:
To this:
Four is a little hard for me to wrap my brain around, but I'm not too freaked out by it. I think I did all my "he's growing up so fast!" freaking out back in February when I put him on a school bus and sent him off to school.  But now his crazy grownupness seems normal. Or at least normalish :)

We celebrated last night since today's a busy day and we'll be out tonight at Bible study. I made Ethan a yellow dinosaur cake for his birthday, at his request. It was insanely easy, thanks to some great Betty Crocker instructions online.  I didn't spend a whole lot of time on it, since we were celebrating at home with just the four of us, but I was happy with the results and Ethan was thrilled.




It'll be interesting to see how four goes for us.  Because of his sensory/development issues, Ethan hasn't really gone through the terrible twos or threes. We had a tough time with him back around 14 months, but since then he's been pretty low key. He is a pleaser and likes following the rules (most of the time), so we've not gone through the rebelliousness and pushing the limits too much. Before you get annoyed by how easy we've had it, let me assure you that Vivian is making sure to make up for it :)

So- Ethan at four.  He's still tiny, but is speaking well now and is learning to jump and run. He is obsessed with all things sports- curling, hockey, football, soccer, lacrosse, baseball, basketball... you name it, he loves to watch it and pretend to play it.  He's definitely still a ladies' man- if there's a woman in the room, chances are pretty good that he'll be trying to sit on her lap or hug her or hold her hand.  Ethan's favorite color is yellow, his favorite book is his Children's Bible, and he's inseparable from his stuffed Monkey and Froggie.  He just discovered Star Wars, and loves that. And he thinks he's Harry Potter :)

I said on Facebook this morning that four years ago was one of the most stressful and crazy days of my life, but with the biggest reward.  We are truly blessed to have Ethan in our lives, he's an amazing and fun and loving little boy. Happy birthday, Ethan!


Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Tuesday, part 2

One of my bloggy friends left a comment on my last post about being ready to run away from home and wanting to come here. No, you may not come here, because I'm ready to run as well.

Two years and two months. That's how long this non-eating, weight-worry has been going on with Ethan. He made it up to the 5th percentile at one point in time, and we rejoiced. I think I can count on one hand how many days out of the 2 years and 2 months he's eaten more than a couple hundred calories worth of solid food.

And now he's sick again. Which I feel badly about on so many levels, because he was sick Saturday morning once and Sunday morning, once, but seemed fine on Monday, so we went to a friend's house. And then he got sick Monday night on our way to the baseball game, but we figured he was just overexcited, so we went anyway... and then he spent the entire day today on the couch or in bed (of his own volition), then he got up tonight, asked for a snack and promptly threw up all over the table and floor.

I. Am. Tired. I am tired of keeping track of his intake and pushing the supplement and worrying. I'm tired of this horrible stress when he does get sick and loses a few pounds, because those pounds are SO hard fought. I hate the fact that he turns 4 next week and is in 18-24 month clothes.  I am tired of worrying about the double standard for food that we have in our house for him and for his sister.  And I'm sad that so much of my mental energy is tied up in Ethan's stuff that some days I don't even think to check in with my husband, who has a serious degenerative autoimmune disease of his own, but doesn't complain, so his problems take second place because I just don't have the mental energy left.

My therapist keeps getting annoyed with me because whenever this stuff comes up in our meetings, I brush it off. Because I am insanely blessed to have good doctors and therapist and the finances to pay for them and the ability to stay home and make sure Ethan's eating and drinking and whatnot.  But it's true. This is hard. And it's wearing me out. 

Tuesday

It's Tuesday here, and so far my kids have gotten out of bed only to then immediately lie on the floor or the couch.  Ethan's back in bed again now. Not sleeping, just hanging out.  I think a weekend of being sick, followed by a super-fun, but very busy day yesterday did them in.  So now here we are.  Hanging out in the house, while I wonder how on earth it's messy again, when I spent pretty much all of my time Thursday-Sunday here at home, cleaning.  Seriously, I don't think I can handle ever living anywhere that's bigger than 900 square feet, since I can barely keep up with this.

Although, my husband is looking at slightly bigger condos in the city, and if we want to stay in an urban environment, this is the time to move.  After we change the carpet here and repaint and empty our closets into a storage unit and wait for winter so that it isn't always 80 degrees in here.  Other than all that stuff. Which I have told Daniel I will support him with and help out with, but if he's serious about moving, he has to get the ball rolling.  So we'll see if that ever happens.

On an unrelated note- my baby is going to be FOUR next week! How did that happen? He has new glasses now and looks all grown up with his wire frames.  And he's gotten a bit taller, so he's looking so totally un-baby and un-preschooler these days. And Vivian's certainly no longer a baby, as she will inform you if you ask.  I don't even really like babies or enjoy that stage, but the further I get away from it, the weirder it gets.  I keep having these weird spells where I'll just start crying to Daniel about the kids growing up and being teenagers and hating us. Then Daniel tries to be all logical and rational and also tries to pretend that he's not totally concerned for my sanity.

And on another unrelated note, we're at 5 weeks and 5 days until my 10K.  And my shin splints SUCK, but I am going to run it even if I can't walk without pain for the next few months. After September it gets hard to run much anyway, since it starts getting light later, and I have to run early in the morning before Daniel goes to work.  So I just need to be able to keep going until mid-September and then slowly not die while I run two laps around Green Lake.  I can do this. I NEED to do this, for my own sanity.