Tuesday, December 30, 2014

HI! I am still here!

December 30th. I'm sitting in my kitchen with a cup of coffee and the space heater because it's COLD here in Seattle today. Vivian is downstairs watching TV on my iPod while her brother sleeps away. He is so not a morning person. The cats are sitting in the window in front of me and making indignant cat chirping noises because a crow is sitting on a branch super close to the window. And there are people climbing on my roof and installing gutters. Just another suburban morning. 

Anyway, Christmas is over and the first week of break is past. We went to Vancouver BC for Christmas this year and it was one of the better experiences that I've had with Daniel's family. For the past decade, most of our visits have consisted of staying in his parents' overfull and small condo in a town outside of Vancouver and going out to dim sum at one of two restaurants with the relatives. Which isn't bad, but doing that every time while always hearing about the great things there are to do in the city gets old. But this visit there weren't too many relatives to visit and the kids are big enough to get out and do stuff and enjoy it, so explore we did. 

And my BIL and his wife are long-term housesitting for a friend, so we packed up Daniel's parents and ourselves and went and stayed in their large house. With lots of bedrooms and a den and huge kitchen and long hallways for the kids to ride their tricycle up and down. Which meant I had space to escape when it all got to be too much. Like when I suddenly found myself at a table of 8 people, all speaking Chinese and apparently discussing Chinese politics. I was able to politely excuse myself and go force my kids to stop watching Bubble Guppies and instead watch Elf with me and we had a blast. 

And we got out and explored the city and took in the lights in Stanley Park and visited the Art Gallery and the wonderful Vancouver Aquarium (I don't even like aquariums and still loved this one so very, very much) and it was a trip full of family time and fun time in the city and all was happy and rosy.

We came home on Christmas Day and much to my happy surprise, the kids declared that Santa had gotten them exactly what they wanted, despite having asked Santa to surprise them (which put a lot of pressure on me).  In a really funny turn of events, they actually spent most of the car ride home discussing the possibility of getting a pet bear and finally deciding that a pet panda would be the safest. Since Santa had brought Vivian a stuffed panda that walks and makes noises and takes a bottle, and that was waiting at home for her to open, I was a happy camper. And Ethan yelled and hugged me when he opened the Wii game that I had bought, telling me that it was one he'd been dreaming of (news to me!) and I spent quite a while patting myself on the back that evening. 

Today we are at home and I have big plans to purge the playroom full of toys that they never ever play with. Should be an interesting adventure. Onward! 

Monday, December 1, 2014

Thanksgiving break nearly did me in. I don't even want to think about Winter break.

The kids were off school all week last week. That's how they do it here in Seattle for the elementary school grades- no school and conferences on the weekend and during the week. We did both kids' conferences last Saturday, so no need to set foot in the school for over a week.

Both kids are doing pretty well at school. Vivian, being Vivian, required what may be the world's shortest conference, since she's doing well and making friends and has absolutely no issues. Ethan's conference, since it involved Ethan, was a bit more complicated and involved multiple people. But he's making progress and it was generally all good news. His teachers have figured out how to harness his insanely competitive spirit and use it for their own purposes.  He's a funny kid- things do not come to him easily, but he doesn't notice that. He's pretty sure he's the best at everything that he does. No problem with self confidence in that kid!

Having a week off for Thanksgiving sounded like a good idea at the beginning of the week, but by yesterday afternoon I was about to lose my mind.  Nine straight days of being around LOTS! OF! RELATIVES! was too much for me.  Thankfully Daniel and the kids went ice skating and I sat on the couch in the quiet with my book and all was right with the world.

We spent Thanksgiving proper down in Portland with my family there. We generally stay put, since Daniel never seems to have Friday off work. But this year we went down on Tuesday and saw friends that evening and spent Wednesday with my grandmother and then had early Thanksgiving dinner with my grandmother and uncles and assorted cousins and significant others and then we drove back to Seattle that evening.

And then this morning I leaped out of bed and bustled the kids into their clothes and out the door and then grinned broadly when the first bell rang at school and shoved them towards their teachers and practically sprinted out of the school. School days are a lovely thing.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Pulling out loose teeth is gross

Ethan has had a loose tooth forever. FOREVER.  It's at the point where not just Daniel and I were begging him to let us pull it out, but friends of ours as well. It just sat there in his mouth, pointing out at a funny angle, keeping him from eating with the front of his mouth (even though we kept telling him to chew with it to hopefully get it to come out already!) I tried bribery and threats of the tooth fairy running out of money.  Daniel kept trying to wiggle it loose during teeth brushing time.  NOTHING worked.

Yesterday he came down the stairs at school and said "I think my tooth fell out!" No such luck.  It was still there, but now it was bleeding.  So he was walking around with that tooth still in his mouth and now was bleeding profusely as well.  Fun times.

So we walked to the car and he kept trying to convince me that it had stopped bleeding and that he was fine (it hadn't).  I suggested that he keep wiggling it with his tongue, but he informed me he didn't know where it was (thanks to his SPD, he doesn't feel stuff like a normal kid and his mouth issues are particularly strong and the reason for all of his feeding issues. But anyway).  So he couldn't wiggle it and I wasn't going to take him to the park with a bleeding mouth, so that meant Mommy had to do something.

In the end I had to convince him to let me touch his tooth and bribed him with Mario Kart playing time if he would not bite me in the process and after a couple of tries, I pulled the tooth out.  And he was ecstatic and said "that wasn't so bad! You can pull out all of my loose teeth!" And I was trying not to gag/throw up/faint because it was so gross and such a weird feeling and I'm not even at all squeamish but NEVER AGAIN. ICKKKKKK.

And I just realized that I never blogged about Halloween and oh my goodness it's the middle of November and where is this year going!
Finally! 

Friday, October 24, 2014

And on and on it goes.

There was another school shooting today. In a small town just north of here where Vivian and I went on Saturday for a princess ball.  So sad. This world is such a depressing place sometimes.

It's Friday and I've been trying to get laundry and cleaning and work done.  Interrupted by a call from the school to let me know that Ethan had thrown up in the lunchroom. He doesn't seem sick, but I went and picked him up early anyway. 

Ethan getting a stomach flu is a particular fear of mine right now.  Last week I finally got around to taking the kids in for their well child appointments and both weighed in at 36 pounds. Which put Ethan in the 0.09th percentile for weight.  He has a BMI of just over 12.  I can't wrap my brain around that.  It was very discouraging, because we're now three years into him having the feeding tube in his stomach and I am so very tired of it.  I am so very tired of spending my days keeping track of how many calories he's eaten or not eaten.  And just when we make progress, then he gets sick.  And because he is so tiny, we can't let him play soccer or do sports that would burn too many calories, because he needs all of the calories for brain growth and physical development. Chess club it is!

He's been dealing with all of this food stuff for over five years now. He eats, but he's so far behind that just eating a normal amount is never going to cut it.

And he's so far behind in school too, despite all of the multitudes of specialists and therapists and everyone that he sees. I'm so grateful to have such a support team behind me, because it does get discouraging. He tries so hard and means well. It's just that everything is a struggle for him and sometimes he doesn't want to bother with it.

And then there's Vivian.  She's never attempted anything that she wasn't successful at within a short time. I refuse to explain how driving a car works to her, because I fear what she would do with that knowledge.  Everything is easy for her.  And it's great that I don't have to worry about her in the same way, but since they are so close in age and only one grade apart in school, it makes it more complicated to have one kid struggling and one not.

I need a nap. And a drink. Thank goodness it's Friday.

Monday, October 13, 2014

The man with the sign

Last Friday the kids had a day off of school. After a morning of listening to them play fun games like "lie on the couch and kick each other and then whine to Mommy about it", we loaded up in the car and headed over to have lunch with Daddy and then go run some errands.  A trip to Target was being contemplated as well.

Our usual route to Daddy's office was badly backed up with traffic, thanks to construction and lane closures and drawbridge openings, so we took the long way around. As I exited the freeway, I saw that there was a man with a sign standing by the side of the road.  I should note here, we live in the city and there are people standing with signs on many of our street corners. So this was not an unusual experience.

As I slowed to a stop, part of my brain silently cheered when I realized that I was one car back from the man and didn't have to pretend to be busy to avoid making eye contact with him.  I could see him well, however. He was clean shaven and tidily dressed. And his sign said something along the lines of "My family has fallen on hard times. Even a dollar would help us."

Before I go further, I'd like to say that I am a fairly generous person.  I love giving away my husband's hard earned money to all sorts of groups and causes.  But the street corner thing is a challenging one for me.  Still, as I sat there, the voice in my head started saying things like "Give him some money. He looks like he really could use it.  Can you imagine how hard it is for him to stand there and beg?" 

"Shut up, voice", said I.  I'd just paid our bills that morning and balanced the checkbook.  And although we are definitely a solidly middle class family, there have been a LOT of expenses lately and income hasn't been matching up. It's just one of those seasons. And I'd spent the morning looking over our finances and was feeling particularly anxious to hold on to my wallet and keep it closed.  "But you're on your way to pick up your husband to go out for a meal at a restaurant!" said the voice in my head. "And you were thinking about going on a random Target shopping trip this afternoon and you KNOW you'll spend way more there than whatever cash is in your wallet that you're keeping closed." 

By this point I was getting fairly annoyed with the voice in my head and also was sure that this was the longest stop light in the history of Seattle traffic control. 

Just then, Vivian's voice came from the backseat, where my kids had been unusually quiet and well-behaved for the past few minutes.  "What does his sign say, Mommy?" she asked me.  I took a deep breath, pulled out my wallet and read the sign to her while rolling down my window to hand the man some money.  As the light finally changed, I took a deep breath, thanked God for Vivian's interference and began talking (somewhat hypocritically) with my kids about the importance of taking care of others, since we have been so abundantly blessed.  It wasn't a new lesson for them, so they agreed with me and I wasn't sure they were really paying that much attention. We also talked about using wisdom in giving away our money and listening for God to tell our hearts when to give (despite me having totally ignored that second part for as long as I could).

We'd made it about 2 more blocks before Vivian's voice sounded again.  "Mommy! When I get home, I want to get one of my purses and put my 2 dollars in it (her total net worth at the moment) so that I can have money with me to give to people who need help!"

I cried the rest of the way to my husband's office with gratitude for this little girl and her caring heart.  Being a parent is the single most humbling experience I've ever had. I am blessed by it every day.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Chess Club and other recent excitement

It's suddenly early October and our lives are firmly ensconced in our fall schedule.  The kids now have homework and swim lessons and chess club and I'm ready to drop from tiredness by 7 PM every night.  Ethan's math homework is already making me feel like an idiot who knows nothing about math.  I studied math for many years and made it through Calculus II, but am confused by 1st grade math.  In my defense, I skipped first grade, so possibly that's the problem.

Ethan's still steadfastly managing to avoid learning to read beyond the very basics. Last night both kids had books that repeated the word "things" on every.single.page and both kids were completely unable to remember that word from one page to the next and my brain exploded.  Homework time is challenging because neither kid can really do his/her homework on their own, so it's a long process.

They are also not really making progress in swim lessons, but I'm determined that they are going to get it this time around, so swim lessons will be continuing on for the foreseeable future. 

But, in happy news, they both started chess club last night and both love it. Vivian likes the social aspect of meeting new friends (she's suddenly become very outgoing) and Ethan has this mysterious love of chess. We still aren't sure who taught him the basics, but he knows them somehow. He doesn't understand strategy yet, of course, but that's what chess club is for. He loves all sports and struggles so much at them that it's thrilling to see him finally finding something that he is decently good at. And yes, chess counts as a sport in some parts of the world, so we are counting it here.

In other news, I went to Cancun a few weeks ago for work and melted, but it was fun to see the beautiful views and drink margaritas for a living.  I suffer for my job.  I also started working on marketing reports for work, which appeals to my organizing side, so am enjoying that as well.  Much more fulfilling than cleaning my floors for the 400th time that day. 

And this weekend we went to the pumpkin patch and it was fun and sunny and we had a great time.  It's still warm here, so doesn't really feel like fall yet, but the activities are making it seem like fall is coming. I'm happy to hang on to the warm weather for a little while longer though.

And that's what's been going on here.

Monday, September 15, 2014

This weekend my husband rode his bike 94 miles and I did not change out of my pajamas.

Daniel's new hobby of riding distances that I feel are long even when traveling them in the car is a little hard for me to wrap my brain around. Yet he keeps doing it and I keep being simultaneously proud and confused. This weekend he got up bright and early on Saturday (I assume it was bright, I have no idea. I was sleeping, like a normal person on a Saturday morning) and met his friend somewhere downtown and they joined a bunch of other crazy people and biked their way around Puget Sound.

The kids and were exhausted from our first full week of school and activities, so we had decided on Friday evening to just sit around on Saturday.  So they played on their tablets and then Ethan played Wii and then we watched a Star Wars movie and then around 4 PM we started all getting on each other's nerves, so I went and hid on the front porch with a book.

Sunday we had church and errands to run and then cleaned the house and had people over for dinner and then I was in "overwhelmed introvert" mood and then I went and hid on the front porch with a book. I have no idea what I'm going to do when it's too cold to hide out there in the evenings.

In other news, it's day 1 of Color Weeks at Vivian's school. The kindergartners have to wear a specific color every day for two whole weeks.  It caused the expected mess this morning, as some parents forgot and had upset non-matching children on their hands and other parents sat around and shared the challenge with finding clothes for their kids in the stores, especially when one doesn't want to spend much money on a clothing item that is not in a color the child likes.  Fortunately for us, Vivian is the same size as Ethan and can wear his shirts. I have no idea how pink and purple are going to work next week. Not to encourage gender stereotyping, but you don't see a lot of pink and purple on kindergarten aged boys, and most of the clothing in those colors also feature princesses and sparkles.  And seriously, it's enough trouble to get any clothing on these kids and to school on time anyway.

In other other news, I just signed my kids up for Chess Club.  I have no idea how that's going to go, but they seem interested and Ethan randomly knows how to play chess already. It would be nice to find something that comes easily to him. Those things are far and few between these days.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

In which I face up to some of my less-great behaviors of late

Today I went to the first week of my church's fall women's Bible study. I've gone off and on for years, but usually make it through about half of the session before work or grad school or sick kids get in the way too often and I get out of the habit and stopped going.

But now I have free time. And I'm the type of person who can't have too much free time or else nothing gets accomplished in my life. And one of my priorities this new season of life is to spend much more time reading my Bible and praying.

So I went to Bible study today and my small group sat around at the beginning and introduced ourselves and mentioned our reasons for being there. Out of the 6 of us, I think I was the only one who wasn't partially motivated by the idea of not just studying the Bible, but connecting on a deeper level with other women in the church.

I REAAAAALLLLYYYY struggle with the idea of connecting with other people in the church. If it wasn't for the fact that I'm married to Mr. Outgoing Man and have gotten to know people through him, and also have met other parents while our kids were in their children's church classes, I'm pretty sure I would have made zero friends at church. And we're 8 1/2 years into attending there.

So I was thinking about that whole connecting thing and then went after Bible study and had lunch with Daniel. Because church is close to his work and the kids are already taken care of, so we're going to have cheap date lunches on Tuesdays as often as possible. But he and I were talking about some of the problems with people at church that we've both become aware of lately since Daniel is also getting more plugged in at church... family issues, sicknesses, sad times... all of the stuff that you can easily avoid getting engaged with if you are the type of church goer that I've become lately. I'm very good at serving and being friendly to the people I know through Daniel and the kids, but I have not let myself become intimately involved with the lives of my brothers and sisters at church.

And I sat there at lunch with Daniel and was thinking about all of this and pretty clearly heard God telling me that my time of avoiding and not engaging was done. I believe my first response was something along the lines of what my kids whine at me all the time "but I don't waaaaaannnnnnttt to!" I've used the excuse of having been a pastor's kid and having to know about people's problems and not wanting to know all that stuff anymore. But that's not the authentic, loving life that I want God to transform my life into.

In other news, swim lessons start tonight. They have got to learn to swim this time around!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Laundry. And other Monday morning excitement.

Well, we survived our first Monday morning school dropoff of the year. Ethan's classroom is on the second floor of the school, and last week he went upstairs with one of his classmates, but today had to walk up all alone and he looked so teeny tiny. I haven't heard from the school, so I assume he made it up the stairs.  This is challenging for both of us :)

And then after sending my tiny son up the stairs in a mass of elementary schoolers, I walked my tinier baby to her class where she managed to remember to give me a kiss before pretty much skipping off to her class. Kindergarten is a BIG hit with Vivian. She even made some friends last week. Currently her biggest challenge is recess, because she doesn't like big groups of kids. She reports that she and one other girl just walk around.  Recess was pretty much Ethan's only reason for attending school, so it's funny to see the perspective of a different kid.

I'm loving having actual free time to accomplish actual things. I made it to the gym today and have Bible study tomorrow. I wrote an article in under an hour because I could actually complete entire thoughts without interruption. Kind of weird. Mostly I am liking it as much as I thought I would, but times like after I do school dropoff or on my way to pick them up or when I need to run an errand and I have no little hand to hold... then I get a bit panicky about this whole kids growing up thing.

I've also loved the time that I have to think and meditate and pray.  Daniel and I both feel that there's something new around the corner for us.  We have no idea what it is, but we're both praying for wisdom and the ability to hear God clearly when He speaks to us.  I just finished reading Jen Hatmaker's book Interrupted last week.  Sat down to read a chapter of it and got up 2 hours later having read the whole thing. It really spoke to me where I'm at. Not wanting life to just be about being middle class comfortable Christians, but wanting to truly be His hands and feet in the world. And maybe that just looks like volunteering at school and being involved at church right now and remembering that folding 500 loads of laundry per day is my ministry to my family. I'm fine with that.  But still listening and praying.

In other news, I'm apparently going to Cancun for the weekend at the end of the month. D and the kids aren't coming on this trip, but they are going to Canada  to see his family, which is a win-win for all of us. I need to go buy sunscreen or something.

Friday, September 5, 2014

It is very quiet in my house

So.  It's day 3 of school and I'm still trying to get used to my super quiet house.  And trying to recover from what's been a crazy few weeks prior to the start of school. My parents arrived and then left the next day with the kids for my grandmother's house in Portland. Daniel and I followed on the weekend and joined them for my family's first ever family reunion, at which I met distant cousins and watched my kids play with their third cousins and saw some old grudges being laid to rest among the older generations and generally had a great time. Then Daniel and I came home the next day and my parents took the kids to Walla Walla to see my aunt and I enjoyed two days of kid-free time at home.

And then they came back and we went places and did stuff and saw the family here in Seattle and were generally busy and then this happened:

And I got all sniffly because losing a front tooth is such a grownup kid thing to do and STOP GETTING SO OLD!!! And they did not listen to me, because then on Wednesday this happened:


Argh.

Ethan's liking his first grade class so far, although he's a little disturbed by the amount of actual schoolwork that they are doing.  Vivian likes her teacher and has so far managed to avoid talking to any other children. I believe that is her goal for the first month of school. This does mean that she actually eats her lunch at school though, unlike her brother who is far too busy talking to consume any food. 

I'm home now with a long to-do list and a messy house and two big articles that are due in just a few weeks and oh, I'm going to Cancun for the weekend at the end of the month.  So far today I've worked on those things absolutely not at all, because I needed to nap and then play on Facebook. Using my time wisely, as always.

They're just going to keep growing up, aren't they? Not entirely ready for this.


Monday, August 18, 2014

The last quiet day

Tomorrow we have Kindergarten assessment testing for Vivian and get to hang out at the car repair place and get new tires put on the car (we are exciting!), because on Wednesday my parents arrive and then will be taking the kids off on a couple of trips to visit family starting on Thursday... and my kids will be run all over the place and will have so much excitement and fun and playtime with grandparents and then they start school three hours before the grandparents fly away.

All that to say, my kids are going to have a lot going on the next few weeks. So today is their last quiet day of summer vacation. As much as I hate just hanging out around the house all day, that is exactly the plan.  Vivian's been running a fever at night the past few days and Ethan's just generally grouchy, so I'm hoping that some quiet time today will help both of those situations. Much vegetating on the couch!

As for me, I have cleaning to do and final school supply lists to check and packing for my kids and also sitting around and wondering, yet again, how it is possible that I am going to have two kids in school in a few weeks. Vivian's not going to have the same teacher as Ethan, since his teacher moved up to another grade, but she will be in the same classroom, which is kind of weird. Her teacher is new to the school and it's really strange to me that the kids and I know more about the classroom than she does.  :) This also means I get to spend another year standing in the exact same spot in the hallway waiting to pick up my kindergartner. But this time without Vivian in the hall to keep me company (sniff!)

Laundry calls...

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Seven

So, the person that turned me from just being Carrie into being someones honest-to-goodness parent decided to turn 7 today.  Seriously? How did we get here already? 


So, Ethan at 7.  Loves all things sports. Obsessively.  All sports.  Cheats at most games and denies it with a giggle when caught.  Favorite activity when not playing or discussing sports is to play Mario Kart on the Wii. He also discusses that obsessively.  He's still never met a stranger and will talk the ear off of anyone who slows down to listen to him.  His conversations are totally stream of conscious conversations. This morning on the way to church we went from discussing Hong Kong Disneyland to Japan to China to sandstorms to cheetahs outrunning sandstorms to cheetahs having houses to dogs and then abruptly back to Mario Kart.  I have a low level headache most of the time when I ride in the car with him for more than 5 or 10 minutes.  Driving back from Sunriver last month (7 hours) about broke my brain permanently, as he did not stop talking the whole time.

He loves his sister and wants her around all the time. In the car they play a pretend game that is a mashup of Mario Kart and My Little Ponies and who knows what else.  At home he likes to convince her to play games with him, with the promise that he'll play some other made up game that they have called "Teachers and Puppies". I don't have a clue what that one is about, but it involves their imaginary friends as well. They share imaginary friends. 

He just watched Star Wars for the first time this week and, despite not liking it at first, got into it and can tell you most of the plot if you have time. He did not stop talking the entire time we watched Star Wars and Return of the Jedi (we skipped Empire because I don't really like it), constantly asking who was a good guy and who was a bad guy and what would happen next.

He's still a tiny guy- somewhere around 37 pounds, I think. I joke that he is going to be going on dates while driving the car from a 5-point-carseat.  He is getting taller though.

My son. My baby who is growing up too fast. There hasn't been a dull moment since he arrived and Daniel and I are so blessed to call this little one our son.  Happy 7th birthday, Ethan!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Some days you just have to be sad

I'm really really glad that it's not raining today.  Without sunshine to cheer me up, I'm pretty sure I would have spent today in my bed in the fetal position. Nothing is super wrong with me personally, but boy, the world is a sad place lately, isn't it?  I was supposed to be posting things today on the Facebook page of the group that I volunteer with, but the articles are about human trafficking and I just couldn't take that.

I read the news on the computer and see mention of fighting in Donetsk and I cannot wrap my brain around the idea of somewhere that I lived, as an adult, being a battlefield. War is something that happens far away and to strangers.  I'm glad that I have a connection to the area so that I'm in a sense of hyper awareness about it.  I need to be praying and the constant news reminds me to do so.

When I lived in Ukraine, Putin was starting to serve his first round as Russian president and he scared me even then.  I remember being asked what I thought of him by an English class that I was visiting and answering honestly and then remembering that I was in the former Soviet Union and thinking how much trouble that could have gotten me in in previous eras.  I also remember the strong pro-Russian sentiment that welled up from time to time in the area. I lived close to Lenin Square and the center of the city, and sometimes I would instinctively check to see which flag was flying.  Yes, they still have a statue of Lenin in Donetsk.

But not everyone is pro-Russian there, although they do typically speak Russian. Daniel and I drove past a Ukrainian cultural center in the outskirts of Seattle once and he suggested that I volunteer there. I reminded him that I speak Russian, not Ukrainian and he was once again confused by that.  The mission organization that I worked for sent missionaries to Eastern Ukraine rather than Russia for the language part of their work, since visas were easier to come by in Ukraine.

Many of my friends have left and gone to Western Ukraine for safety, but I still have some friends there and many of the friends who left have family and I know they are just all so concerned about their loved ones and the future of their country which, honestly, has yet to truly find its footing since gaining independence.

And I'm sad about the news coming from the middle east.  People need to just quit being awful to one another already.

And, on a more personal level, I went to a friends' house last night and we laughed and had great conversation and it was a wonderful evening. Except it was all to say goodbye to a dear friend who I'm so sad is moving away.  She was always someone that I could count on and hanging out with her always made me smile.  We prayed hard for a good answer for her family and we're all so happy that they get this new opportunity. But still. 

Sometimes though, I have to remember that I am not a robot (darn it) and am in fact a human being and that means having emotions and sometimes those are unpleasant (double darn it). But I also remember my favorite Bible scripture and that gives me peace. "In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." (John 16:33)

Friday, July 25, 2014

It is somehow the end of July.

So, it's the end of July and Vivian is finally done with school for the year. I'm pretty sure that packing one more extremely balanced lunch for her to take to school would have broken me. Poor child had no change in her lunch contents for months.  Strict lunch rules aside, we did really enjoy her time at her preschool and she definitely thrived there.
2014

2012

We slept late this morning, which was lovely.  Actually, that's not true. I slept late and was grateful for kids old enough to entertain themselves and feed themselves. Wasn't feeling well yesterday, so was very happy for a good night's sleep and feeling better this morning. 

It's been raining here all week and I am starting to despair about summer ever getting back to the weather that makes it bearable to live here.  We've gone from 90-100 degree days to 59 degrees and torrential rain.  On a positive note- haven't had to water my new plants. The old ones all died when we were traveling. Hopefully these will stick around better. 

Yeah, I'm dull today.  Felt the need to put that in writing for some reason. 

Thursday, July 17, 2014

In which my husband kicks the butt of 200 miles of road. And in which the road kicks back a little.

This is Daniel and his best friend (whom we shall call D2) in this post, at 4:45 in the morning on the first day of the STP bike ride.
And this is Daniel at D2's house in Portland the next afternoon.
He rode 204 miles and is still smiling.  I sometimes worry about him.

So, at 4 AM this past Saturday I got up and dragged two kids out of bed and fretted a bit and made coffee for the guys and fretted a bit more, then got everyone in the car and over to the university where the guys had dropped their bikes the night before. And then I hugged them and left and on my way out passed the LONG lines of cars dropping people off and felt very happy that we had gotten there before the rush.

D and D2 were in the 7th wave of riders taking off and left around 5:30. I heard from D2 a few times on messages and the pictures he sent showed everyone looking happy. And when the kids and I were playing at the Olympia Children's Museum (recommend SO highly!), Daniel called to say that he was at the halfway point where they would be spending the night. And he mentioned that there may have been a little crash and that he was a little scraped.

Ha.  He's missing the skin from a good portion of his arm, his hip and his leg.  It's pretty awful looking, but seems to be healing.  It'll take a while though. Fortunately, D2 is a doctor and specializes in skin stuff, so he knew how to patch Daniel up. And fortunately I had sent them a first aid kit and had included the things they needed. 

Daniel's bike was amazingly untouched and since Daniel wasn't irreversibly damaged, they still planned to continue on day 2. So I hugged them goodbye again and continued on my way to Portland and my grandmother's house. 

And then I went to church with my grandmother and we had lunch and I fretted some more because they were about an hour behind the pace of the day before, but they finally got to Portland and I drove to D2's house to see them. There was no way I was dragging 2 kids to the finish line. 10,000 people participated in the race plus there were helpers and spectators and no.

Daniel had trained so hard for this race and it totally paid off.  D2 kept mentioning how fast Daniel was riding and how he (who would normally be faster than Daniel) couldn't keep up and how Daniel was riding with the seriously serious bikers. On day 2, Daniel ended up leading the pack of the people he was riding with for a while (and I don't know what that means exactly) and that was apparently the high point of the experience for him.

It's fun to see my husband so lit up with success. He succeeds at work all the time and a lot of things come easy to him, even in athletics, but he trained hard for this and ended up doing so very much better than he could have imagined.

People keep asking me if I ever am interested in riding with him, and I think not, after seeing his scrapes and scratches. Maybe I'll change my mind later if supplied with a cute enough bike and helmet, but not for a few years yet.

And then we went to Sunriver and melted. And Ethan ended up with heat exhaustion because we let him play in outdoor bouncy houses in 90 degree weather and we're from Seattle and heat exhaustion didn't even occur to me to be a thing. But I knew what it was (I used to be an EMT) and we got him in a cool bath and water quickly and he stopped being pale and vomiting and went back to jumping off of furniture and the walls pretty quickly. And Vivian went to kids' day camp by herself without her brother there as a buffer and she did great and she gained confidence as well.  So we all win.




Thursday, July 10, 2014

The heat has melted my brain

It's been 80 something here lately, which has melted  my brain, since it's usually 80+ inside by the end of the day. My very longsuffering husband has graciously accepted the fact that this weather makes me even more unlikely to cook dinner than usual and willingly eats the things I suggest. "Leftover halfeaten soggy pancakes!" "A bowl of cheerios!" "An only vaguely moldy cucumber!"  I am clearly someone who should be nominated for wife of the year.

We're actually going to be traveling to hotter places soon, but in Portland we stay in my grandmother's basement which is nice and cool and then we're going to a resort for a few days that's in the desert and will be super hot but has pools and air conditioning. 

Tonight we pick up Daniel's packet for the STP. This means that I have to set foot in REI, which makes me a little itchy, but they are giving out beer and wine samples, so I will push through my fear.  There's also some mention of a bike repair shop, but I have been promised dinner out at the end of the evening. Then late tonight my husband's best friend arrives and tomorrow it's all the carbo loading and final prep for their big bike ride this weekend.  And Saturday morning I get to get myself and the kids up at 4 AM and drive the guys to the starting point of the race. So that's going to be fun.

I'm a little nervous about this whole thing. Especially since it's supposed to be close to 100 degrees on the second day that they are riding. I will see them at the halfway point, but then not again until another friend drops of Daniel on Monday morning. Because the end of the trip is going to be the part that they're really looking forward to- driving the best friend's brand new Ferrari.  I can barely type that without rolling my eyes, because I am not a car person and the amount of money that the best friend has spent on cars lately is staggering. BUT. He is wealthy and responsible with his money and has tons of money to spare and has worked enormously hard to get where he is. So, he deserves to have fun.  And that means Daniel can drive a fancy car and then picture that while driving our battered Mazda around town. 

And I have one million and five things to do today and tomorrow to get ready for the traveling and for the neighbor to take care of the cats and hopefully all of that will keep my mind off my husband riding his bike 200 miles.  Pray for him if you remember.  


Monday, June 30, 2014

Entertaining

Due to a series of random circumstances, we ended up hosting my family for Easter lunch.  And, other than miscounting the number of adults and having to cram 2 extra people in, and other than my in-laws ending up sitting next to the quiet part of the family and absolutely no one talking at all at that end of the table, it went pretty well.  And I realized that I enjoy having people over to my house.  I'm not good at socializing in large groups or at church where most of the conversations just seem so superficial, but I like getting to know people while sitting around my own table.

So we've been inviting people over. Friends that we know well as well as people that we've known casually forever and haven't spent any real time with. And it's been really fun! Every couple that's come over has come with interesting things to talk about that are going on in their lives. We've shared food that, given my lack of cooking ability, has been remarkably edible. I've been having my guests deal with dessert and we've had some really delicious ones.  And every time the friends have left, I've been sad to see them go. Which is the real marker of a good afternoon or evening.

I grew up going to friends' houses for dinner and remember playing with other kids while the parents laughed in the dining room. I want to give my kids the same memories, even if it means that I do have to remember the existence of dinner on occasion.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Ethan's mom and Daniel's wife

I have a bunch of different identities these days, but the main ones are as Ethan's mom and Daniel's wife. Which is totally understandable and fine with me. Ethan and Daniel are 1) nice and 2) believe in being outgoing and talking to people and do not do things like try to get out of church without making eye contact with or speaking to anyone. In my defense, I am a pastor's kid, which means that I spent many, many years smiling at everyone and talking to everyone. Also, I am an introvert, so casual interactions on a large scale wear me out. 

That all being said, I have a friend from grad school round 1 that's just moved back to town after being gone for 5 years or so.  And I've been really excited about this and then it dawned on me that I'm excited because, while I value my local friends greatly, they didn't know me before.  This friend knew me when I was new to town and was finding my way in Seattle. We've spent Valentine's Days together with groups of friends, trading stories about terrible first dates.  She knew me when I was dating people before Daniel.  She knows me as a science grad student and as a fellow toxicologist.  When we got our jobs, we went to happy hours together and had fun in the city. She was around when I got married, but then she moved away when I started this whole mom thing, so that side of me, the one that makes up 99% of my identity these days, isn't one she is really familiar with. And I love that!

In other news, it's dreary and rainy in Seattle and I am working on editing photos and writing text for an article that I have due this week about our Turks and Caicos trip and that's a terrible combination.  I need another tropical vacation right now!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

In which I behave irrationally and snap at my totally well-meaning husband

So, Daniel has a friend at church who has become his prayer partner. Once per week they send each other prayer requests. Daniel's email comes to my iPod, so I see these messages (yes, the prayer partner is aware that I see them). And for a couple of weeks Daniel was asking the friend to pray about what I should do now that I'm done with the grad certificate.  I joked to people that he wanted me to do something with this $12,000 midlife crisis of mine.  And I honestly was joking.  At first.

And then I kept having conversations with people about Vivian going to school in the fall and everyone (again, totally innocently and well-meaningly) would ask what I was going to do with my time. Was I going to get a job?  Go back to school again?  What was I going to do with this new chapter of my life!

All totally logical questions and probably ones I would have asked a friend without really thinking about it, but for some reason being asked one of those questions just one more time yesterday pushed me over the edge.  And I had a total freakout in the evening and Daniel got caught in the crossfire.

For starters, I have a job.  It's not a paying job, but it's one I love and that I'm good at and that fulfills me professionally. And that produces some pretty cool travel opportunities for our family.  And I'm looking forward to spending more time finding and writing about cool things in the area for other families to do. 

Other than that though, I don't know.  And I was sort of okay with that, but then the questions made me start thinking that maybe I shouldn't be okay with the idea of just taking a year to evaluate and pray and spend time in the kids' classrooms and enjoy not having 4 million balls in the air all at once.  But maybe it's wasteful of me to have not one, but two advanced degrees that I am doing absolutely nothing with. Maybe I SHOULD know what I want to be when I grow up by now!

I said all of that last night to Daniel. In no sort of understandable form. I think he was more than a little concerned and was wishing he had someplace to be. 

I'm just feeling kind of lost and pointless all of a sudden. All these questions about what's next plus the fact that it's summer and with Ethan around it's almost impossible to get anything concrete accomplished and my whole day is just a non-ending pile of magically regenerating laundry.  Is this all my life is going to be from now on?

Ugh.  I hate being a grownup.  

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Tuesday randomness

I'm supposed to be editing a major article that I have due in two days.  I'm 90% done, but have reached the point where I can't stand reading my own writing anymore, so had to walk away for a bit. I despise editing my own writing.  It's just the worst. 

1) Two more days of school after today.  Tomorrow is the kindergarten celebration.  I have to bring appetizers. The party is at 8:40 in the morning, so I am unsure what sort of appetizers to bring. I am generally against breakfast, so the concept of eating anything that early baffles me.

2) I'm feeling old for really odd reasons. First, I've started appreciating naps this year.  I never have appreciated naps. Didn't like to nap as a kid. Didn't nap in college, didn't nap when I had brand new babies. Now I nap on occasion.  This makes me feel old. The second thing that is making me feel old is that I am enjoying eating avocados.  Just in their plain form, with a little salt.  My kids are horrified by me eating some weird green mushy thing.  I used to feel as they did.

3) Yesterday I had to wear my fleece tights because it is so darned cold here in Seattle in mid-June. But it had been a while since I wore them, so I forgot about their inability to resist the lure of gravity. I spent a lot of time walking around Target yesterday, trying desperately to keep them at some sort of appropriate level. Fleece tights have been banished from my wardrobe now. Perhaps it will actually stop being cold soon so that tights are unnecessary?

4)  I have zero plans for my kids for the next few weeks.  And probably wont do anything to change that, except schedule a few playdates here and there. I have big plans for us not to have to get up early most days. That's about it.

5) My kids haven't gone to school with combed hair for weeks now. Fortunately it's not too visible with Vivian's current haircut. Ethan looks like a little ragamuffin though.  I just cannot care at this point in the year. CANNOT.

Okay. Back to editing.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

In which my husband is training for a major bike ride and I am getting tired just watching him.

When I first met Daniel 10 years ago, he was a single guy in his late 30s.  He pretty much just worked and went to the gym. In winter he went snowboarding, a sport he had enjoyed since childhood (or he skiied as a kid and then snowboarded later? I just know he threw himself down mountains with sticks of some sort strapped to his feet).  Anyway.  He was in great shape.  One time early in our relationship he went to visit a friend in Denver and decided to just go ahead and run a 10K. He had not been training for aforementioned 10K. Just ran it. Probably didn't even sweat.

He also used to bike a lot. But that was way before me.  Something like 15 years ago, he and his friends rode a bike race from Seattle to Vancouver BC.  They still vividly remember the hills and all the other details, like what they ate and border crossings and such. I've heard a lot about this ride over the years.

ANYWAY.  Daniel was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis a couple of years back. And, even though this disease causes joint pain, one of the best ways to help prevent flare ups is to stay active. He occasionally went to work out, but his old job was crazy and so he didn't go often. 

And then last year sometime, he started talking about doing a big bike ride. Even though he hadn't actually been on his bike in the entire time I'd known him. The bike had been taken apart and resided behind our couch in our old house. But it is good to have goals, so I was supportive of his idea. He started talking to the friends that had done the RSVP (Seattle to Vancouver) ride with him 15 years before and they were weighing the options of doing that race or the somewhat easier one to Portland (which still sounds completely insane to me). 

I tried to be subtle in conversation (anyone who knows me knows how difficult that is for me to do), but casually mentioned that, perhaps, since they were all now in their late 40s and hadn't done a bike ride of that magnitude in something like 15 years, the ride to Vancouver was possibly not the best of ideas. And since one of the guys lives in Portland anyway, that race makes more sense.

So, fast forward a bit. Daniel has been impressing the heck out of me. He got a new bike and has been biking to and from work almost every day.  He's even getting up before work and going to spinning class at 6 am. I deeply question his sanity on the days when he goes spinning and then rides to and from work. I also poke him a lot when he falls asleep on my shoulder at 7 pm because he's completely worn out from all that biking. 

He's starting to get worried about the race though.  The last time that we drove to Portland (about 200 miles), he kept muttering "this is FAR" to himself.  One of the two guys that he was going to do the race with has already dropped out, since family emergencies kept him from training enough. The other one did a 50 mile ride last weekend and messaged Daniel with ideas for how to get me to pick them up at the halfway point. Something about them being too old to do this.

Personally, I would not ride a bike to the end of the block, much less 200 miles, but I'm proud of the guys for trying! Keep your fingers crossed for them.


Monday, June 9, 2014

Macaroni and cheese days

Four days left. Four days with just my baby and I at home during the day.  I've been home alone with her most days since Ethan started school at 3 1/2 years old.  It's just been she and I. Hanging out, reading books, shopping, wearing tiaras and curtseying to each other.  Vivian was always a little grownup, so having her home with me has been more like hanging out with a very short friend, especially for the past year or so.

And now the school year is almost at an end and we only have a few days left with just Vivian and I before her brother comes home to join the fun. I'm glad to have him around. He's a handful at this age and you definitely never forget that he's in the room, but he's a sweet kid and we're excited for the summer. It's just different when he's around. 

But, Vivian goes to school for another 6 weeks, so on the two days per week that she's gone, it'll just be Ethan and I.  We haven't had much quality time together lately.  And honestly, Vivian was born when he was so young that a lot of the one on one time went away pretty quickly.  I look forward to doing things that Ethan thinks are fun and seeing what he's like without his sister around.

Still, I'm a little sad these days.  Both at the idea of my little friend going to school and also because of what it symbolizes. I'm almost done with being a mom with little ones under foot. I'm going to have 2 school-aged kids in a few months.  I can see why people keep having babies.  Side note- NOT a possibility in this situation. 

So I'm spoiling her rotten for these last few one on one days that we have.  Saying yes to a lot of requests. Especially her requests for mac and cheese for lunch.  That was my favorite food growing up and its hers and there's something so great about whipping up a box and sitting and giggling with her at the table as we munch on our noodles.  I'm going to miss these lunches.


Thursday, June 5, 2014

Today in Seattle

Yesterday and the day before, I kept running across an article on Facebook about a mom who had left her young son in the car for a few minutes while she ran into a store (in a safe neighborhood, on a cool day). And friends and I discussed it yesterday while our kids played in the backyard.  And I kept saying "we live in such a safe neighborhood in an affluent part of the city and I need to figure out what is safe and not for my kids. I don't want them to live in imaginary fear."

Today was a beautiful 70 degree day in Seattle. Rain is forecast for next week, so when I was picking up Ethan from school today, I mentioned to another K mom who lives close that we were planning to go to the park. Our families have kids close in age and we often go to our local park after school together. We both rounded up our kids and snacks and picnic blankets and headed that way. We all arrived and the kids downed the snacks in record time.  They played for a while and then came back for more snacks.

While they were eating, we heard sirens. We were discussing sirens and I mentioned the fact that I worked on an ambulance in college.  Conversation distracted me for a bit, but a few minutes later I realized there were more sirens. And about 5 minutes after that, still more. My friend pulled out her smart phone while she pushed her 2 year old on the swing and started looking for information. After a few minutes of updating me on random news bulletins, she went pale and said "there was a shooting at SPU".  We stared at each other for a bit, not entirely sure how to process this information. SPU is a quiet, small, private university on a gorgeous campus in the middle of one of the nicest neighborhoods in Seattle.  Vivian has been asking for weeks to go have a picnic on the lawn there, since we drive by it all the time and it's so shady and lush and beautiful.

My friend started grabbing her picnic stuff and asked me (with a smile on her face for the sake of the kids) if I wanted to relocate the playdate to her house. Given the fact that I live just 5 blocks from the university in question, I happily agreed.  We arrived back to her house (a whopping 8 blocks from the university) to the disconcerting news that there was still a shooter on the loose. We locked the doors and watched the news and hung out online while also calling our husbands.

Fortunately, the second shooter info turned out to not be true, which meant I could in all good faith return to my house, which is located just off the main roads and features a heavily wooded area behind. We would not have been returning there if things weren't supposedly safe.

On the way home, Ethan had picked up enough of what was going on to ask questions, and we also had to pass the roadblock that was on the edge of the campus, with police cars and flashing lights and arrived home to the sound of many news helicopters overhead. I was so thankful to have the Mr. Rogers quote come to mind that many people posted after another recent tragedy “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, "Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” 

One gunman, multitudes of people rushing to the scene within minutes to help. Everyone who knew about it praying and hoping for good news. The balance is tilted in the favor of good, despite everything. 

Someone died today and another is in critical condition and my heart absolutely is breaking for the university community and our neighborhood. My heart breaks for the parents who sent their child to a small, calm school in a safe neighborhood. I cannot imagine their pain. This is a close-knit community and almost everyone near us has a strong tie to the university and I know there are a lot of breaking hearts tonight.  SPU is now going to be one of those schools on the list where the worst happened out of nowhere. I really hate that.  Today is definitely not going to be a day that I can easily shake off.  Pray for those involved, please.

 

Sunday, June 1, 2014

My tiny baby is 5.

I turned my back for a second and this
 Became this.
 Hold me. 

I cannot believe I have a 5 year old. Oh, and an almost 7 year old.  I don't have little babies anymore, I have two schoolaged kids.  Who are relatively independent (or at least one of them is) and don't need me as much anymore. Which is mostly okay, because I'm not crazy about needy people, and babies are the definition of needy people. But still. It's weird.

Yesterday at Vivian's birthday party, Liz and I looked at each other and expressed simultaneous confusion about the fact that we're pretty sure we were celebrating Ethan's 5th birthday at the same place just last week, and somehow almost 2 years have passed. 

So, to my Vivian who decided to become a grown up girl even though I expressly forbid it.  You're such a fun person to have around.  You've been so mature for years, and now when I spend time with you, we have conversations and share thoughts. We play pretend and you make up great stories. You always beat me at UNO, even though I'm pretty sure you're not cheating.  Your brother simultaneously drives you crazy and is your best friend. I can't buy clothes for you without your approval first and you have a definite sense of what you want to wear.  No one can talk you into doing something that you don't want to do, but once you make up your mind about something, nothing can change your course.  You challenge me, terrify me with your diabolical plans to take over the family, and make my heart smile every single day.  I love that you still love to give Daddy and I snuggles and hugs. We were so blessed when you arrived 5 years ago. Thank you for being our daughter.

Friday, May 30, 2014

In which I debate drinking before 9 AM. Oh, and the school year just needs to end already.

Ethan keeps coming home and telling me exactly how many days are left in the school year. Which leads me to believe his teacher may be as excited about the end of the year as I am. 

This morning was fairly awful.  The only redeeming feature was that it took place on a Friday, so I don't have to do it again tomorrow.

7:40 AM. Daniel kisses me goodbye and cheerfully clomps down the stairs in his bike shoes and bikes off to work.  (Side note- yesterday he got up at 5:30, went to spinning class, came home, biked to work, then biked home after work. He also fell asleep on the couch at 8 PM.  This training for his big bike ride is making him less than interesting in the evenings.  Also, I am deeply suspicious of anyone who voluntarily exercises that much). 

7:41 AM. I get out of bed. Vivian whines at me and begs for one more snuggle. Oh, she's in my bed. Because she's started showing up there again at 3 AM. We do not have the energy to argue with her at 3 AM.  However, she is turning 5 on Sunday and takes up the majority of our bed, so something must be done. Eventually.

7:42 AM. I try to get Ethan to wake up, reminding him that today is the jog-a-thon at school and that he can take a stuffed animal to school. I tell him to be sure to not forget his stuffed animal.

7:45 AM Kids make it to the kitchen and stare at me blankly when I ask them what they would like for breakfast. I give them cheerios  and Vivian goes to get the yogurt. She pulls the yogurt out of the fridge and knocks over the carton of eggs. Fortunately, only one breaks, but I have to try to figure out how to get it out of the carton without making too much mess. Before drinking coffee. Kids stare at their breakfast in confusion, then finally begin to eat the cereal. One piece at a time.

7:46 AM. I drink as much coffee as I can in one gulp, take my vitamins and get Ethan's lunch out of the fridge. 

7:48 AM. I suggest to the children that they should maybe eat a little faster and go off to shower.

7:58 AM. I am showered and dressed. Kids have eaten a small fraction of their breakfast.  I again suggest eating more quickly. They stare at me blankly.

8 AM.  Time to end the misery of breakfast and get dressed. I remind Vivian that she has gymnastics today and needs to dress appropriately.  Ethan is told that he can wear any pair of shorts and short sleeved shirt. On my way to dry my hair, I remind them that they do not need to change their underwear, as it is still clean (they like to change at least 3 times per day, necessitating lots of laundry on my part). 

8:03 AM.  I am drying my hair and ignoring the fact that Ethan is yelling something at me from his bedroom. Trying to break the kids of the "screaming at mommy from the other side of the house" habit, as it is annoying and scares the neighbors. 

8:04 AM.  Ethan comes to see me in the bathroom, dressed only in underwear. He needs to inquire as to whether he should change his underwear. I assure him he does not.  He then leaves, only to return shortly afterward, asking what to wear (see 8 AM). 

8:06. Hallelujah! Ethan is dressed! And he manages to go get his lunchbox and put it in his backpack. And even gets his shoes on the right feet! I am a good mother after all!

8:07 AM. Vivian is still not dressed, but has pulled out a short dress to wear to gymnastics. Discuss the fact with her that she needs to wear leggings. There are no leggings in her drawer.  Convince her to wear shorts under her dress. Convince her that this is not going to ruin her fashionable outfit.  Convince her that no one will think the outfit looks funny.  Become deeply concerned about her teenage years. 

8:15. I have no idea what happened between 8:07 and 8:15.  Mornings are not my thing.  I can tell you, there was no coffee consumed. 

8:16 Kids at front door.  Ethan has backpack on and has managed to keep his shoes on. Vivian, however, is still putting on her socks. Then decides that her socks are on the wrong feet. And then one of them is backwards.  Have used up all negotiating power with the shorts, so just stand in entryway and feel tired.

8:20 We made it to the car!

8:25 We made it to the place where we park to walk the last block to school! I unhook Ethan's carseat and ask him to put on his jacket and backpack. Unhook Vivian. Ethan gets out of the car without his backpack. I try not to yell.  He stares at me blankly when I tell him to get his backpack, then finally figures out what I'm talking about. I frequently wonder if my kids speak English.

8:30 We made it to school! Am chatting with my friend and dreaming of the cup of coffee that I'm going to drink while Vivian and I wait for Ethan's class's turn in the jog-a-thon. 

8:35 Bell rings. Ethan goes in school. Coffee is close, I can feel it! My friend tells her daughter goodbye and reminds her that her stuffed animal is in her backpack. I refrain from swearing and drag Vivian quickly back to the car to get Ethan's stuffed animal.

8:45 Back at school with the stuffed animal.

8:50 Coffee! I drink a few gulps as we eat a breakfast sandwich. We then walk to the school playground to kill time while waiting for Ethan. 

9:00 I drop my 3/4 full cup of coffee, splattering it everywhere and losing its caffeinated goodness.  Refrain from swearing or crying, somehow.

I miss vacation.

In other news, have purchased store-bought cupcakes for the party tomorrow. Have decided firmly against treat bags. Am quality parent.


Tuesday, May 27, 2014

I need a substitute adult.

It's summer here in Seattle, which means that it's mostly still cold and rainy, but when it isn't cloudy, it seem to be daylight pretty much all the time. We had people over on two occasions this weekend and both times got talking and didn't realize how late it was because it NEVER GETS DARK. And this morning the sun was shining cheerily at 4:30 and I could hear the birds and practically hear the morning saying "are you getting up yet?" Same thing at 5:30 and 6:30. Birds, sunshine, cheeriness. Thankfully it's Tuesday morning and not Monday, so I didn't have to hurt anyone.

At 7:30, I put in a request for Daniel to find a substitute adult to do the morning school run, gym visit, laundry and article that I have to work on today. He said that he didn't think there was such a thing and biked off to work. Leaving me with two children who do not speak English before 9 AM.  Seriously, I say things like "go put on your socks" and they just stare at me blankly, unsure what this word "socks" means.  And then they wander off and do something else entirely and my brain explodes. 

Oh! We went to the Caribbean last week! The trip went well.  Travel was long, but my kids are extraordinarily good travelers, as long as there are sufficient electronics. We had a red-eye out to Charlotte and the kids both slept, which was good. Then we had a 6 hour layover in Charlotte and plenty of time to eat breakfast and wander around and play and I don't remember what else. Then it was 4 hours to Providenciales, where we landed at one of the most rickety airports I've ever been in (and I've traveled quite a bit), but were soon whisked off to our hotel. And then spoiled rotten for 4 days.  We pretty much went from pool to restaurant to pool to beach to our room and repeated. I couldn't for the life of me tell you what I did when.  But it was great.

And then on the way home, our flight to Miami was delayed 2 hours coming in from Miami. And everything in the airport closed except 1 bar (not that there was much more than that to begin with), and when the flight finally got there, everyone who had been sitting for 5 hours in the tiny, un-air conditioned airport broke out into applause. And then we went to Miami and customs/immigration was kind of a mess but we got through and then the airline did a good job of rebooking all the passengers on new flights. Because we'd all had 2 hour connections, so a 2 hour delay + customs=missed flights.  So we spent a few hours in a hotel in the airport and then left early the next morning. 27 hours from leaving our hotel to arriving home. Still, worth it. 


Seriously, the ocean was a gorgeous aqua color and was warm and perfect for swimming in. And the sand was soft and beautiful and white.  So very beautiful there. My family all got nice and brown and I turned pink and now am back to pale, but they are all still tanned and summery looking. I will forgive them eventually. 

Anyway, so that's all that's going on here. Except for Vivian's 5th birthday party coming up on Saturday, which I am NOT thinking about because she is my tiny baby and who said she could be 5????

Thursday, May 8, 2014

It's apparently Thursday again

People. T?oday.  Ugh.

So, I dropped Vivian off at school this morning and mentioned in passing that she was upset about something a couple of other kids had said to her last week. A mean comment that they couldn't play with her because they didn't like her shoes.  And the teacher informed me that the issue wasn't just with Vivian, that these girls have formed sort of a mean girl clique and have even been speaking rudely to the new teachers.  These girls are 3 and 4 years old. My 4 year old is dealing with mean bullying behavior. 

Earlier this year we were having a playdate with one of the girls from Ethan's class and her mom mentioned that they were having popular girl issues and cliques in the kindergarten class and I was horrified to hear that mean girl behavior was going on with 5 year olds.  I just don't even know how to wrap my brain around the fact that it's even younger.  Horrified and heartbroken for my kids. 

Vivian's so sensitive already.  She told me last week that she would just play by herself at school and maybe follow the other girls around in case they decide they like her again.  How does a mom deal with that sort of comment? 

Today also has sucked on the Ethan front.  He randomly started limping again on Tuesday and it was bad enough that his physical therapist and school nurse called me Tuesday and then again yesterday. So I took him to the doctor today and she is mystified.  It's likely another bout of toxic synovitis, like he had 2 years ago. He's not in pain (but Ethan doesn't feel pain like a non-sensory kid would), but he's just walking oddly.  No 5K for him this weekend, which makes me sad, as I was looking forward to doing it with the family this year.

I really wish I could just go back to bed and pull the covers over my head today.

Monday, May 5, 2014

I am supposed to be doing things right now.

We went to Vancouver this weekend.  When we go for short visits, we do exactly the same thing every visit.  We arrive, we sit on the couch and wait for dinner time. Then we go to the same restaurant that we always go to and eat the same food with the same people. Then we go home and go to bed and get up and go to the same restaurant for dim sum the next morning. 

I'm supposed to be working on an article or editing photos for it or something. Or laundry. Or cleaning my house, since we were gone all weekend, off eating.  But it is Monday and I am sleepy and I don't want to. What I want to be doing is shopping for our big trip that is coming up, but I wont let myself do that until I have plane tickets in hand and I am waiting for the confirmation email from the PR person that is booking them and oh my goodness time is moving so slowly this morning.

Ethan randomly decided to sleep on the floor this weekend. At home he sleeps in a bunk bed with high sides and he puts blankets all around himself and calls them his blockers.  But at the grandparents' house, he usually sleeps on a mattress on the floor and we couldn't find enough pillows to make him feel safe, so he decided to sleep on the floor between a large piece of furniture and the big bed and pillows at his feet and head, and apparently that made him feel safe. He has some odd quirks. He's also afraid of stickers and bandaids. 

I need a nap.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Thursday quick takes

1) Yesterday we went to the zoo to see the new cheetahs. The cheetahs did not get the memo that they were the stars of the show and just laid around in the grass at the very back of the exhibition and looked unamused by the whole thing.  I do love cats. 

2) It's 80 something here today.  Which means that I spend all of my time outside darting from one patch of shade to another.  I'm sure I look ridiculous. 

3) Most days I argue with Vivian about being appropriately dressed for the weather. She tends to want to wear sleeveless dresses and short skirts in the cold weather and has to have leggings and sweaters added on by me.  This week it's 80, so she dressed herself in long sleeves and leggings.  Of course.

4) It looks like Ethan is going to summer school this summer. Did you know they even HAVE summer school for kindergarteners?  I did not. Vivian goes to school through July already, so it doesn't affect any of our plans. And he is finally starting to make a tiny bit of progress, so they don't want him to revert backwards.  I just want him to get off level A books before I go completely insane from them. 

5)  Vivian now officially outweighs Ethan.  The poor kid is going to be still in a 5 point carseat when he learns to drive. 

6) Vivian is going through an old camera and is finding pictures of me and the kids and they are my tiny babies and so cute! Who turned them into grownup kids?

7) Speaking of kids, Vivian decided the other day to stop sucking her thumb.  And then she stopped.  Potty training was exactly the same way.  I just hope she keeps using her powers for good and not evil.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

And the lack of stress is amazingly fabulous

I knew that this last term of school had been particularly tough on me. I have struggled with chronic depression for years and will probably be medicated forever and I avoid unpleasant topics, real and fictional, like the plague.  I knew the combo of discussing death and death processes and all that entailed was stressing me out. Plus the very real worries for my friends in Ukraine.  It was a really tough combo of unavoidable hard things to think about. By the end of the term, my stomach hurt all of the time and I rarely slept more than a few hours at a time and I wanted to cry constantly. But I figured it was all just a coincidence.

And now I've been done with school for almost 2 weeks and instead of discussing death I am sleeping and exercising and not feeling sick all the time! I don't have to constantly worry about logging on to a discussion board and backing up my opinions to someone who disagrees with me and I don't constantly have huge papers on difficult concepts hanging over my head.  I feel like I've been carrying a 1000 pound load on my shoulders that's suddenly gone.

I still have deadlines for work- lots of articles coming due in the next few months, and I want those to be great, but I have editors! And no one is grading me on them! And I get help when I need it!

I suddenly have time to play games with my kids and clean my house and even nap when I need it! I reorganized the playroom and my half of the wardrobe and the pantry and the fridges and things are clean and organized! And I am so ridiculously glad to be done with so much stress.

On another, even more fabulous note, it looks like Ethan and I, and possibly Vivian and Daniel too (depending on Daniel's work schedule) are going to Turks and Caicos for a few days, in a couple of weeks. Did I mention what a great idea it was to stop being a scientist and start being a travel writer instead? Seriously.  My job rocks.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Done

Today has been weird.  I expected to have another week of school and a final exam next Wednesday. But yesterday morning, the professor emailed us to say that if we were happy with our grade as it stood pre-final exam, we could just be done then.  He emailed me this morning to say that I had an A so far and to have a nice summer.

So, I'm done.  What a crazy experience this was.  I managed, thanks to my amazing husband and an awful lot of prayers from people, to juggle this and even get out of it with a 4.0 average.  I've always been a good student, but that's a first for me.  Also the first time that I've 1) paid for my education and 2) really liked what I was studying.  Not a coincidence, I think.

Today the final payment on Vivian's preschool went through.  Another kind of strange milestone to reach.

Oh, and one of my bigger articles went up on the travel blog. It's been a weird day.

Clearly, I must celebrate with a lunch of mac and cheese. And possibly a trip to Target. Done with huge tuition bills!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Two more weeks- two weeks more!

The end is in sight for this crazy, expensive, middle crisis grad school thingy.  Only $12,000 to figure out absolutely nothing about what I want to do in life! But I was able to identify some new areas that I am both interested in and pretty good at, so that was a plus, I suspect.

Next up (after writing one more paper and finishing the final exam) is to work on the house. Mostly the playroom, which is also my office (which I never use) and our storage area.  When we moved in, we just shoved things in available space, but it's not all being used efficiently.  So it's time to take everything out and start over with that.  During my last grad school adventure, I did home improvement products instead of studying/writing, but this time I made Daniel hide the new organizational stuff from me and promise not to give it to me until I was really done.  I'm getting a little twitchy though.

Yesterday was Ethan's un-birthday celebration at school. He's a summer birthday and those kids get to have an un-birthday celebration at some point in time. His classmates were shocked to hear that he's almost 7. He's the second oldest in the class of 27 kids and the shortest by far.  Welcome to the world of your parents, Ethan.

We've been traveling more lately for my job, which has been fun.  I feel like none of us really talk to each other on a daily basis- not real conversations, at least. Hours together in the car helps fix that. Thankfully the kids are still great travelers, so we have fun on our trips.  Last weekend we got to meet the new girlfriend of Daniel's best friend. This friend is like a brother to us, and meeting us is usually a sign that he's getting serious about someone.  Ethan decided that he's also going to need this lady as his girlfriend and he plans to buy her jewelry. Not a ring though, because he's too young to get married. Just a necklace.  I love that kid.

Monday, March 31, 2014

In which I am old

It's true. Birthdays get less interesting as you age. Particularly when you are hurtling quickly toward a new decade of life. My birthday came and went last Friday and was overall pretty quiet.  I did manage to be in my pajamas and on the couch with my Nook by 7 PM, which was pretty much the best birthday evening ever.  (Old)  I also bought myself fancy nail polish during a Target run on my birthday. Vivian found the idea of buying yourself a birthday gift to be absolutely hysterical.  I told her those were some of the best kind of gifts, but she didn't believe me.

In other news, I am 3 weeks and 2 days from being done with grad school.  One paper and one final exam stand between me and freedom.  I can almost feel it.  I'm making lists of projects to take on around the house when I'm done with school. Top of the list is to move everything out of the playroom and start over in there. It's out of control with the kids' stuff and our stuff all crammed in.  Yesterday we went to IKEA and got some organizing items and I'm having to exercise a lot of self-control to not jump into the project now. There's very little I love more than organizing things.

In Ethan's world, he no longer likes kindergarten and looks for every excuse to get out of going.  He said that it would be okay if they just had more choice center and recess time. Not likely to happen :)

So that's our world here. Chugging along. 

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Counting the costs

I am a terrible stay-at-home mom.  I just am. I love my kids, but I am a hyper, type A personality that is insanely goal oriented. If I don't have something concrete to accomplish, I wont accomplish anything at all. Oh, and most kids' games make me insane.  Fortunately my kids are so close developmentally that they're happier with just each other anyway and I can just drop by their playroom for some storytimes. Unfortunately, I also from "sure, I can do one more thing!" syndrome and to cope with not working at my old job, I took on a lot of other random things.  

I've had a lot of balls in the air for almost 2 years now.  And some of them finally started getting dropped.  Apparently I'm not invincible after all.  During my parents' last visit, they kept gently suggesting that perhaps I was more discouraged and down than they would like to see.  My parents have always encouraged me to follow through with things I start, so it spoke volumes when I said that I was quitting grad school after this term.  I will finish with a graduate certificate, but physically and emotionally I cannot continue on as planned.

I've learned a lot in the classes that I've taken and I've found new topics that I care about passionately and things that I never knew I would enjoy. I didn't suspect that I had a secret love for studying Constitutional Law and American Political Thought.  Those classes challenged me, but they thrilled me in ways that nothing I've studied before in all my years of school have done. But some of the other classes have been more challenging on an emotional level and it's taken a toll on me, a person who has struggled with depression for years and who has a low ability to cope with other people's pain. 

I've become snappy with my kids and so tired by the end of my days that I have nothing left for my husband.  I can't tell you when I last wanted to hang out with friends or even bothered to contact anyone other than a comment on Facebook. I just haven't had anything left to contribute.

I don't know what God has next for me and what I'm to do with these newfound passions and interests. Maybe nothing for a while. And that's okay.  I'm not sorry for these last two years, but I'm glad the end is only 5 weeks away.  5 incredibly busy weeks, but just 5 weeks all the same. Deep breaths.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Today I feel like my heart weighs 1000 pounds

I really hate Tuesdays. Especially rainy Tuesdays. No good ever comes of them.

I'm home alone today, supposedly working on a 10 page paper for school. On abortion policies and laws. So I get to read 50+ articles on that cheerful topic. And then write a letter to the death row inmate that I'm corresponding with this term.  Death policy as a class topic... not the most cheerful thing.  This semester is really hard for me. As someone who struggles with chronic depression, I tend to avoid unpleasant things. But our professor, rightly, wants us to see the "real" of the world, not just theories and policy as abstractions. 

And I'm watching Facebook and Twitter and the news as all hell breaks loose in the middle of Kyiv. I have friends there and love Ukraine and hate seeing death and fire and violence and total political uncertainty.

It's just now noon and I just want to be done with today and go to bed and pull the covers over my head and cry.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

That's not how biracial works.

One of the things on my to-do list for the past few months has been registering Vivian for Kindergarten. It wasn't urgent, but I wanted to get it done before I forgot. Registering her required finding her immunization records (which were on the computer, I just had to log-in to the site) and coming up with two address verification documents (again, sitting right in my desk, just too lazy to look for them).  I just hadn't gotten around to it, until Monday when I realized that Daniel was sorting through all the bills and organizing them and could get me the two documents. And I also realized that I needed to print out the kids' immunization records anyway, since they were switching to a new pediatrician this week.

Anyway. All that to say that on Monday, I finally was ready to fill out Vivian's registration forms. (I didn't go through this with Ethan, since he has been in the public school system for several years now and was automatically registered for K).  I have a weird love for filling out forms, so I was zipping right along, filling in all the answers. And then I got to this form, which stopped me in my tracks.

I've filled out lots of these forms before.  I know that gathering demographic data is part of the whole experience for a lot of things. I have no problem with that. I will happily answer the question about whether or not my child is Hispanic, and I have no issue with checking boxes to say which race(s) my child is.  I'm happy that there is now an option for more than one answer and that I can indicate that my child is Caucasian and Chinese.

But do you see the sub-question under "What race(s) do you consider your child?" The one that says "Check all that apply." (fine) and then "Please circle your primary choice."

Excuse me? My primary choice?  I was unaware that I could just pretend that half of my child's ethnic background doesn't exist.  And why do I need to make such a choice? If I consider my child to be primarily Chinese, does she need to be educated differently than if I consider her to be primarily white?

Truth of the matter is that when my kids get older, they very well might identify more with one race than another.  Right now Vivian looks much more Chinese than her brother does. With his glasses on, he's barely identifiable as biracial. Maybe Ethan will grow up and want to embrace his Asian side and identify with that. That's fine. We're trying to raise the kids to appreciate both parts of their heritage and teach them as much about both sides of the family as possible. When they grow up they can identify themselves as being from the Purple Heffalump race for all I care. BUT I AM NOT CIRCLING MY PRIMARY CHOICE on a form for my 4-year-old. 



Monday, January 13, 2014

Brain dump

1) January in Seattle. Possibly one of the most depressing places to hang out. It's not particularly cold. No snow or polar vortex. It's just grey, drizzly and I don't remember the last time we really saw the sun.  It's just energy-draining, no matter how much coffee you drink. I almost never nap and yet I fell asleep on the couch this morning while Vivian was watching a show.  Right now I am considering curling up on the floor under the dining room table and napping some more.  But the floor is dirty because I am too unmotivated to clean it, so possibly not.

2) Ethan went to school with his hair sticking up in about 15 different directions. I just couldn't bring myself to care.  Given the number of other disheveled kids and the number of families running to school after the first bell, it was about par for the course today.

3) The kids' room has no closets, so Vivian's dresses (of which there are MANY) have been hanging in Daniel's side of the wardrobe or on the back of the kids' door. This weekend we bought a mirror/clothes hanging combo thing at IKEA, so now the kids have a full-length mirror in their room. Vivian has been spending much time admiring herself in front of it.  Our stupid cat is convinced that there is now another cat in the house and freaks out whenever she walks past it.  Our smart cat already likes to sit on counters in front of bathroom mirrors and admire herself, so she falls into the pleased camp as well.

4) I'm wearing one of Vivian's pink princess crowns right now. It really seemed like the logical solution for this Monday.

5)  My grad school class is off to a rousing start. And by rousing I mean- all but three people appear to have dropped the class. Which makes group discussions very challenging.  I can only dispute my own point of views (points of view?) so many times. 

6) Daniel's new job is great and so  much less dramatic and stressful than his old job.  I'm so glad he made the switch. Even if he is now home at 5:30, requiring me to remember that dinner exists before 7 PM. 

7)  Football. This city has gone nuts.  There are flags and banners and last week one of the dads at Vivian's school colored his beard in Seahawks colors and I have no idea what's going to happen if they lose this week.  (See point #1 above.  Football is the only thing getting us through).

8) I need a nap.

Friday, January 3, 2014

We survived Winter Break

People. Winter Break has been simultaneously a blur of activity and SO LONG at the same time. Finding ways for Ethan to use up his almost boundless energy has been a challenge, but at the same time we've had so much going on that we haven't managed to connect with any friends for playdates.  Last weekend was a whirlwind trip to Portland in which we visited 4 museums in one day, caught up with our friend and saw my grandmother and aunt and uncle as well.  Later this weekend we head to Canada to celebrate the 50th wedding anniversary of Daniel's parents. Then it's back home to prepare for school.

I'm back in school as well on Monday and it should be an interesting term.  Less reading this term but more writing and more discussions online.  One of our papers is based around a semester-long correspondence that we are supposed to develop with several death row inmates (studying public policy and death policy this term).  I wrote my intro letters this week and am trying to figure out what exactly is appropriate second letter etiquette for this type of letter. 

We have an appointment at Children's Hospital this week for Ethan's medical issues and a meeting at school this week with all his people (therapists, nurse, teachers, special instruction people) to discuss all his other stuff, so that should be fairly depressing. 

But in good news, I finally got to see my niece again today and take these pictures:


Both of my kids did so well at sitting and holding the tiny baby. Vivian was terrified to move and was a trooper while we took pictures with multiple cameras and iPods and was happy to pass off Baby C when we were done.  Ethan said C made him itchy, but smiled better for this picture than most I get of him. I know all three kids are going to be great friends when C gets older. Seriously, I cannot believe that my kids were both tinier than C at birth and now they're real little people! Life is amazing...