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.