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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

If you haven’t heard: it’s HAWT. It’s so hot in Seattle right now that it is not just hot nor is it HOT, only HAWT will do justice to the HAWTness that is Seattle at the moment. It cooled all the way down to 85 last night…at midnight! And our house cooled down to maybe 185. Dang. Only 15% of homes in the Seattle area have AC. These are the fascinating tidbits that you can learn watching the local news these days.

I’ve been trying, ever so hard to not be a typical Seattlite and whine about the weather. Seattle-peeps are so whiny. “We” whine when it starts raining, we whine when it snows saying we prefer the rain, we whine when we have three consecutive days over 75. So, here we are, expected to heat up to 101-105 today. And I’ve decided that when we hit the 100 mark I, too, am allowed to join the whiny party. I’ve also decided that this heat calls for the Martin Home to turn into a Nudist Colony ‘cuz it’s so flippin’ hot in here. And even with as few clothes on as possible it still feels like a sauna. Maybe I’ll lose some weight. Isn’t that the point of sweating or doing ‘hot yoga’?! Mike’s missing out on the Nudey Party. He set out to work happily this morning. Yeah, he’s got AC at the office, I wouldn’t blame him if he worked until midnight.

The HAWTness makes us all a wee bit cranky. It doesn’t help that I’ve been a little preoccupied with my Summer ‘o Decluttering, Cleaning, Painting and Reorganizing. The entire contents of every hall closet – linen, coat, pantry – and all kitchen cupboards have been covering every possible surface – kitchen counter, dining room table, floors, etc. while I paint and reorganize. So, here, we are 101 degrees outside, 1001 degrees inside (yes, the number will get bigger every time), and the place is CHAOS. It looks like the Clutter Monster had Disarray Diarrhea all over our home. And I’m on clean-up. AND we leave tomorrow (Mike & I) for the EE Convention in Park City, UT. So, ideally the home will look a bit more habitable so we don’t have to return to this wreck. The boys are THRILLED about spending a weekend at the beach at Port Ludlow with my parents. So, not only do I have to finish cleaning this joint but packing for all of us as well. And it’s 2000 degrees inside!!

The serious HAWT and MESS-induced crankiness is in full swing, and the slightest thing seems capable of setting us off. Matthew was so distraught the other day because I didn’t give him his first choice of straw color that he wept and yelled, “YOU’RE BREAKING MY HEART!” He gulped for air, and then in a voice shaking with emotion, he sadly muttered, “I no longer have love in my heart for you, Mom.” Dude. If this is how you feel about me after a wee straw debacle, the teenage years are going to be seriously rough.


We have had some fun, recently, don’t get me wrong. The highlight was last weekend’s Renton River Days Parade. The preschool always participates and we joined in for the first time. The kiddos can ride bikes or trikes or scooters or get pulled in wagons or just walk. One of the preschool families has a classic convertible that went first for our group – all decked out with our preschool banner, all the kids and parents followed, and then Mike and another dad got to bring up the rear with a big banner. The theme was “Discover the Hart of Renton” – so the kids all had red heart balloons, red streamers, pompoms, etc. to deck us out.

Matthew was pretty hesitant about the parade thing at first. I was worried that the whole shebang would be a complete disaster. In the car on the way there, Matthew was crying that he didn’t want to be in the parade, he didn’t want to wear his helmet, he didn’t want to ride his bike, everyone would laugh at him, he had a hang-nail, on and on with the reasons why this was a bad idea. Mike even glanced at me over the din of two whiny children and asked, “Uh, why are we doing this again?” Through gritted teeth, I growled, “It. Will. Be. Fun. This. Is. Family. Together-ness. FUN. We WILL have fun.”

And we did! Matthew totally stepped up, did great – rode his bike the whole way – and had a fantastic time. Zachary would hop on his scooter occasionally, scoot for maybe ten feet, then give it to me to pull alongside us. I had a red pompom that I’d been given by one of the moms. He didn’t want it at first ‘cuz it was too “girlyish” (a word he learned from Matthew). I told Zach that it was a magic wand and if he waved it at the people lining the sidewalk they would wave back. Worked like a charm. Look out Ms. Washington and the SeaFair Pirates – our children are parade naturals!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Looks like I have some competition in the writing department – it might be a family business. The boys have some serious story-writing skill. Last week, my writerly friend Rachel was here for a visit. She had the boys dictate stories to her. Here are a few of my favorites:

By Matthew Martin, age 5 ¾:
Fishy’s brother is named Bubba. Bubba was dead by fisherman Jim. Fisherman Jim caught Bubba and shot Bubba or kicked Bubba. [Such violence. I’m not a fan of tragedies.] Bubba got brought back to life again. [Ahh, love a good Resurrection story.]. Bubba played with his brother Nunna, I mean Fishy and he is happy to be with his brother Bubba again. The End.

Also by Matthew:
Robot had a good plan. He wanted to build a robot brother and he found a box that was open and he found the material and he needed tape, scissors and paper and markers. And then his robot brother was built, and he needed a button….

[This was left as a cliff-hanger until the later installment. The reader is left wondering, WILL Robot Brother get his much-needed button?!!….tune in next time…or right now…to find out.]

“Now I just need to turn him on.” [Guess he got the button.] It was very steamy work for him because it was hot. He put flashlights on him so he could see in the dark just like his brother could see in the dark.

“And now I have to play with my brother. We will dig in the sandbox together.” The End

By Zachary Martin, age 3-and-not-quite ½ [Zach heard Matthew’s robot story and stuck with the theme.]
Once upon a time, there’s a robot making a machine, and they were sharing it with all the people. The machine was for making popcorn for at the movie theater. All of the robots ate some popcorn at the movie theater. And there were lots of seats for them. The End.

These authors are going to give me a run for my money. Look for the complete box set of original and complete Martin-boy works in a bookstore near you.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Martin family has big news. Huge. Wait for it…wait for it…The Martins have become a camping people. I know. It’s true. Shocking and true. Betcha didn’t see that one come now did ya? Did ya?

I was raised in a clan of camping people. But, for some reason, maybe it’s my oober-girly nature, I was just not a super huge fan of camping all the time. I actually – in my pre-teen years – began to refer to it as “The C-Word;” oh, that dreaded C-Word. And for years, my mom and I, upon seeing gray, rainy, cold and miserable weather would say, “Ahh, it’s perfect camping weather!” We did have a bad-camping-weather curse though. There’s no argument with that. My poor dad, he was definitely the pro-camper and got no camping respect from his peeps, that’s for sure.

So, over the last couple of years, I’ve asked Mike if he’d want to start camping. Mike’s only been camping once in his life, I believe, with some cousins when he was young. His answer to any camping-related question was, “Why?” He was in this strange school of thought where camping should be heading out into nature with just the clothes on your back and maybe a pocket knife…or you might as well just stay home and be comfortable. “What’s with all this, ‘bring everything but the kitchen sink with you when you pack’ business?” he would wonder.

As you may know, Mike and I are a presenting team for Engaged Encounter – we present to couples some tools for marriage, some ideas of ‘do’s and don’ts’, if you will. So, I did what any good wife would do: I went out, knowing Mike wasn’t campily-pumped-up, and bought an 8-person tent and a bunch of camping gear for Mike for Father’s Day. Yea! It’s hard to say no to camping when you have a really cool, big tent.

It has been suggested – by some of my experienced camping friends – that we should take some baby-steps into becoming a camping family. So, this past weekend, we did our first camp-out…in the backyard. We pitched the tent, broke in the air mattress and the boys’ new sleeping bags. We BBQed dinner and then really roughed it – we ate dinner in the house while doing ‘family movie night.’ (Hey, I did say this is BABY steps into camping, my friends.)

We even made S’mores on the gas grill. Did you know that there’s a new generation of S’mores? Things have sure changed from my camping days. Now, instead of the old graham cracker, Hershey milk chocolate bar, marshmallow combo, you can seriously shake it up with your toasted marshmallow, graham cracker and REECE’S PEANUT BUTTER CUP. Genius, people! Pure inspired genius.

The boys had so much fun ripping around in the new tent…until…they discovered that two flies had gotten in while the flap door was left ajar. This is a problem. This is why we need to start getting the boys into nature. They’ve seriously dropped the ball on the whole boys-and-bugs front. Why am I still the one having to kill spiders?! I thought having TWO boys bought me an immediate pass from having to kill bugs for the next 18-20 years! So, heaven forbid a couple of flies sneak into our tent. After we recovered and accepted the fact that bugs MAY just be a part of camping, Matthew suddenly realized he’d forgotten something in the house. I don’t know how he could have since half his bedroom came out to the tent. He ran in and came back out with two small plastic, food storage containers. One has a plastic frog in it and the other has a plastic snake. They’re covered with wax paper and holes are poked in the top to allow ventilation for these “pets.” I thought that Matthew was thinking of releasing them to the wild, but apparently he just wanted his snake and frog to come camping with us.

Finally, we were all tucked in and ready to tell “scary stories” – their idea, not mine. Matthew’s scary story was about John Deeres-gone bad and angry, mean dirt. I’m serious. Zach’s scary story was, well, completely incoherent. It went something like this: “Once-a-time, there was…and it was scary…and everybody was spooky…and it was dark…The End.” Kind of a modern work of prose, really. Deep. It was just too existential and profound for me apparently.

Eventually – after yet another trip into the house for yet another potty stop – we fell asleep for the night. I’d say, all in all, camping was a big success. Except for the darn crows. What’s with birds, right? Right? They were so freakin’ loud at like 6:30 in the morning! Hello! We’re camping here! Could you keep it down? We did, at least, have the sound of the neighbors’ three-tier waterfall to listen to as we drifted in and out of consciousness. So, that was kind of naturey...and campey.

In the morning, the boys were so proud of themselves for camping. I said, “Yes, you were great campers! We’ll definitely be ready for our real camping trip at the end of August!” (We’re doing a weekend with our soul mate family: Jason – tall, quieter, computer nerdy like Mike. Rebecca – dark, curly hair, likes running, reading, writing, wine, chocolate and coffee, exceptionally beautiful…sound familiar? And their two boys Joshua and Noah.)

“We’re camping by a lake!” I told the boys expecting cheers and general exultation of excitement.

“Um, no,” Matthew said, “We can’t.”

“Why not?” I asked.

“Because are there woods? Will we be camping in the woods?”

“Well, yeah, there will be plenty of trees. It’s not like we’re camping in a parking lot,” I told him.

Yeah, no. Apparently, that’s not going to work for him.

“The woods are too dark and scary,” Matthew said.

“And there are creatures,” Zach piped in.

“Yeah,” Matthew agreed, “I don’t want to go camping in the woods.”

“Me neither,” said Zach.

So, we’re a camping family…in our backyard. For now. We’ve got six weeks to pump up our brave, outdoorsy boys for actual camping. Six weeks. I think we’ll need six weeks.

Friday, July 10, 2009

The boys making silling morning faces

Zach rocking his mystery shiner from a few weeks ago (we really don't know how it happened and he never really complained about it...I swear we don't beat our children).
It’s official: I have finally begun work on writing my ‘memoir’. I feel so hoity-toity even calling it that though. The working title, for now, is Tales of a Terrorist Cervix…and Beyond. (I’m open to suggestions. The work will include such highlights as our wedding night (woah, that sounds steamy to those of you who may not know what went down on our wedding night. Sorry, you’ll just have to buy a copy of the award-winning, best selling memoir). It will also be my take on the whole pregnancy with a girl but then having a boy thing, bed rest, postpartum depression, therapy and kids in general. I know you’ll just be on the edge of your seats until I’m published. The good news for you, my dedicated readers (family and friends) is that you’ve got the inside scoop – you’ve got the 411 – you’re in the KNOW. (And since some of what I write will be with the help of looking back through my 271 pages single-space Blog, some of it will be recognizable material).

Since I’m not rolling around in piles of free time (I wonder what that would look like…), I’ve got to squeeze in my writing time – as always – wherever I can get it. This is extra tricky as Zach is an early bird. On the rare occasion that he doesn’t beat us out of bed, I find myself tip-toeing through the house and trying to make no sudden movements lest I bump something and create a ruckus. But the biggest issue is that, like a cat responds to the sound of the can opener, Zach could be in the deepest sleep of his life, but once he hears that cereal hitting the bowl, he’s by your side in the kitchen in 2.2 seconds flat. And guess what? He’s now proving my point. This morning, to get ‘me time’ in, I was up at 5:30, went for a run, haven’t showered yet, so I could squeeze in some writing time, even sat here doing a peepee dance to make the most of my cherished writing time, and now I hear him walking down the hall. And what did I accomplish?! These two paragraphs. This memoir-writing business could take me a LONG time. I just hope, in the time it takes me to write my memoir, I don’t add to my already-well-stocked plethora of material; I’ve already got more than enough to choose from.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

And a Happy Independence Day to you and yours. We had a delightful day. We were fairly loungy and lazy (a rarity for us) until the afternoon when our friends Sara & Greg and Larissa & daughter Abby joined us. We brought a picnic dinner down to the park (about a ½ mile walk from the house) and played and hung out until the fireworks at 10.

The Martin boys were champs. Matthew – always the cautious and sensitive one – was a little apprehensive. Loud noises have always made him nervous, so we brought my big rocker-type, sound-cancelling headphones for him to wear. That seemed to do the trick as shortly after the show started Matthew yelled, “Hey! I like fireworks. Actually, they’re awesome. They’re awesome because they’re beautiful.” (Look, we know I like to embellish a bit, but I promise you that anything put in quotations is verbatim what these little people said. Half the stuff that comes out of their mouths is too good for even my imagination to come up with).

Now, quick change of topic: I wish to address the differences between men and women. And they are different – these differences – ever so different. I’m by no means an expert on all the idiosyncrasies of the genders, but I do have a fair amount of experience what with having a fair amount of guy friends, two brothers, a dad, a husband, and two boys. So, let me just state outright that Mike is a phenomenal father and spousal unit – totally hands on, devoted and wonderful. OK, now that I have that out of the way, let me also say that Mike is a man. Obviously. And therefore he shares some of the generic qualities that all Homo sapiens of the male persuasion seem to exude. The most prevalent issue, I think – the biggest difference between us (man and woman) – is man’s inability to multitask. He just can’t. Just plain and simple, he is incapable of thinking or doing more than one thing/task at a time.

An example: this afternoon I started a load of laundry, I took out the garbage on my way outside to get the sprinkler going to water the flowers, listened to an audio book while I did the dishes, talked on the phone while I moved the sprinkler and then moved the laundry, thought about dinner plans when I walked up to take care of my out-of-town neighbor’s yard, came back home, turned off the sprinkler, and folded laundry while watching Mike and Matthew have their ‘bonding’ time (playing the Lego Batman game on the Wii). I made sure to carry the laundry on my way up the stairs and deliver it to rooms before I cleaned the kitchen floor which I did while occasionally reading through emails.

Now, this, I promise, is not to illustrate all that I did this afternoon, because it was, for the record, pretty dang productive and impressive (and not necessarily completely typical of a Sunday afternoon). What I wish to show is how, when I start one task, I am immediately thinking about starting another project or am already working on the undertaking of said additional project. I plan my time so that I can get the most bang for my buck, so that I can be as productive as possible, SO THAT I can just sit and relax at some point…to read, or write, or watch a movie, etc.

So, I’ve given you an example of what I did. And realistically, I did a fair amount of that (the first several tasks, maybe even about the first half of the list) in approximately 30 minutes. When we were getting lunch prepared this afternoon Mike put chicken in the oven…and commenced…to pace. I looked around the kitchen – the piles of post-4th of July crappola heaped on the ‘peninsula’ – and said, “Um, I would love it if instead of pacing you helped me put this stuff away.” OK, so, I have since learned, after our ‘discussion’ that there is a better way to ask him to a.) stop pacing and b.) start helping. I am, of course, a little perplexed as to why I even need to c.25-h4) ask for his help in the first place. But I was informed that, literally, this would be his typical thought process during this scenario: I have successfully put the chicken in the oven and set the timer, so now it is my duty to wait for the timer to inform me that the chicken is done at which point I will turn off the timer and remove the chicken from the oven. Now, I wait for the chicken timer to ding. I am waiting upon the chicken.

(Yes, this is my interpretation of his thought process.)

Dude. Do you know what I could do until the chicken was done? I could have a whole bathtub grouted (if I knew how to grout), or an apron sewed (if I knew how to sew); a child birthed (if I was capable of birthing a child); I could have the entire world saved from the evil of mankind (if I was capable of miracle-working). That’s how freakin’ productive I am, my people. But instead: We wait. For. The Chicken.