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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

I had a terrible, awful, horrible dream last night – a true nightmare. It was one of those where you wake up gasping for air and praying that it was, in fact, just a dream. The gist of it was: because of my busyness and rushing about and just being negligent, Kayliana died in a horrible accident. Awful. As I lay in bed trying to recover, I fought the urge to check on her (knowing that she was, of course, fine) but decided against it as she’s the lightest sleeper and merely turning her door knob would wake her up. She’s been having a rough time sleeping already with her back molars cutting through; waking her up would’ve just been purely selfish.

But we’ve all had those dreams, right? Where something awful happens but then we wonder: what the heck does it mean?! In my sleeplessness, I analyzed this nightmare and had – what at 4am seemed like a major revelation – this nightmare was a gift. I feel like it opened my eyes (ha! Literally) to something that I’ve been ignoring for too long: and that is my children. Obviously, I take care of them and love them unconditionally and think they’re freakishly genius, ridiculously cute, insanely clever and witty little people, BUT I’m pretty sure that I kind of suck at spending quality one-on-one time with them. Occasionally it happens and we make time to read with them everyday, we talk during dinner, blahblahblah, but I’m thinking of all the time in-between. The little moments – whenever they come up – are full of the to-do’s and the busyness and are rarely spent just BEING with my family. I’m here – my body is – but I’m mentally doing a thousand things and simultaneously doing many others (dishes, laundry, cooking, checking stupid time-sucking facebook or email…and how many times a day does one really need to check the news?!). I feel constantly overwhelmed by all of the ‘stuff that needs to get done when probably about 90% of said-‘stuff’ is my fault or my (subconscience or selfish) choosing.

The laundry, the dishes, the house, the REALLY unimportant computer stuff WILL get done but it CAN wait. Kids can’t always. They won’t always be this age. They won’t always want to have dance parties, color together, cuddle on the couch and read, etc.

So, New Year’s resolution coming a bit early this year (but really, not early enough)…My Oprah-ah-ha-full circle moment: Pay attention. Slow down. Snuggle more. Internet surf less. Stop the insanity!!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

We had a Christmas-outing extravaganza: a visit with Santa -- as you can see, despite "Santa" being Kayliana's 3rd word, she's not a fan. We mailed Santa letters. We had dinner at Red Robin. Watched some performances in the mall and then went to our fave festive activity -- the drummers at Snowflake Lane. I've told the boys if they start practicing, next year they could maybe both be in it (and by-pass that whole minimum age rule). But they'd need a chaperone, so I'd just HAVE to be a Snow Princess. The sacrifices I'm willing to make for my children. Seriously! I'm basically a Saint.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

‘Tis the season – for ca-raziness! This past weekend was the ca-raziest of all the ca-razies for us. We had three parties in three days and also managed to polish up Matthew’s halo with his First Confession. Just another weekend.

I’ll start with that whole Salvation of our child thing (minor deal). For weeks we’d been doing preparation: working in his little workbook, talking about sins, going through pretend/dress-rehearsal confessions (where I played the priest and assigned Penances like, “Give your mother 5 hours of back-rubs” or “Say 105,362 Hail Mary’s, 349,817 Our Father’s” etc. I figured this way whatever Penance the priest actually gave him, it wouldn’t seem all that bad.)

As Matthew and I stood in line awaiting our turns on Saturday morning, I’m sure that I was more nervous than he. He looked at me with big eyes, and said, “Why can’t Daddy just become a priest and I tell him my sins at home?”

I went first. Now to paint the picture: this was not old school confessional confessions (you know, the closet-thing, with the screen). That’s a little too intimidating for the kids and most churches don’t do it that way anymore. You just sit in a chair across from the priest (in a little private alcove in the church) and have a nice little confessional-chat. The priest – visiting from a nearby parish – was AWESOME. I gave him the head’s up that Matthew was up next, was super shy and super nervous, so “Please be super nice!”

Matthew walked a little bit like he was on the march to the guillotine. I sat there nervously fidgeting and then after a few minutes he came out grinning from ear-to-ear. He proudly strutted over to me and said, “I feel SO much better!!” Oh my gosh, I don’t think I’ve ever felt so good after Reconciliation before!

When Mike was done with his turn, we followed the instructions given to us by Father Todd, and took Matthew (and Zachary and Kayliana) to Target for a treat. When we were sitting in the little Starbucks area, I recognized another family who had just been at church.

The dressed up little girl asked loudly, “Ahh, man. Mommy, was that my first bad word already?!”

I started cracking up and asked, “Uh-Oh, do you have to go back to Confession so soon?! We were hoping to make it at least an hour!”

Now, back to the partying that we did on Confession-Eve. It was Mike’s office party that kicked off the weekend. And it was So. Much. Fun. The event was a cooking class at Blue Ribbon Catering/Cooking School on Lake Union. We kicked off the evening with appetizers – that were already prepared for us (Ham Croquettes with Garlic and Saffron Aioli, fruit and cheese platters and plenty ‘o wine.) We were then divided into three groups and one went to each station. Our first was with a national-award winning chef (who specializes in Cajun cuisine). There we made Cider-Glazed Pork Tenderloin with Flambeed Apples and White Wine Galic Sauce Green Beans. This chef was so intense (and fun!) – you could tell he’d been in the biz a long time. He could reach his finger into a boiling pot to taste and even had an involuntary eye-twitch while savoring the flavors to discern if they were just right. (I was impressed with his eye twich.) I was put on shallot-chopping duty for the wine-sauce (that I later made on the stove). I stood there mincing the shallots in all my Christmas party finery with tears dripping down my face. Good thing I’d worn waterproof mascara.

Our next station was the wine cellar where the owner of the Blue Ribbon Cooking School taught us how to make Sweet Potato Gnocchi in a brown butter sage, fresh nutmeg sauce. Holy Cow. I’m pretty sure I died. Butternut squash, sweet potato pretty much ANYTHING and I’m a HUGE FAN. It was delicious. Amazing.

Our last stop was the salad and dessert station where we plated salads (kinda boring) and made Liquid Chocolate Cake with Caramel Sauce. I’ve decided that in another life I should volunteer myself out for food tastings. Needless to say, once we sat down for the dinner (that we’d made), we were all fairly famished and ready to enjoy the fruits of our labor. Our fruits were delicious!

The most crazy weekend of Christmas festivities has come and gone for us and now we get to just sit back and enjoy the season. Tomorrow we’re taking the kiddos to see Santa and the drummers at Bellevue Square. We’re all pretty pumped. (Think Buddy the Elf, “Santa!! SANTA!!!!” That’ll be me.)

Monday, December 05, 2011

I suppose it’s time to provide the update that I dreaded typing. Last Thursday, I drove up to visit our Mountain House – my dream home, the one that is THE ONE. that I’ve been packing and prepping for. It felt so right. The “for sale” sign was still up (despite the “Pending” status that remained on-line). As I drove down the mountain, I noticed how the thick fog clouds blanketed Issaquah and Lake Sammamish below. It didn’t help that it happened to be magical. It was all cloudy and gloomy below, but on the top of the mountain all was sunny and clear.

That night, we had friends over for dinner and told them of our plans – prepping the house post-holidays for listing – and making an offer on the Mountain House in the New Year. (Counting on the fact that the current “Pending” sale rubbish would fall through since it was all some kind of mistake, some nasty joke, seeing as the house was OUR house). As soon as our friends walked out the door, and I stood in the quiet of the kitchen doing the dishes, I felt it. A looming dread, a sad clairvoyance.

When Mike came in after putting the boys to bed I told him. “I don’t know why, but I just feel really sad all of a sudden about the mountain house.”

In the morning, the moment my alarm went off I knew. This whole thing has been weird – the feelings that I’ve had about this house. I still cling to the fact – which makes it even harder to let go – that it just felt SO RIGHT. That it felt like THE ONE (the way Mike did, the way Kayliana’s birth mom did). So, how could it not be?! I dragged myself out of bed, turned on my laptop and opened up email. Sure enough. No surprise. The email notification from informing me of “Listing updates – 1 sold.” There was the address that was supposed to be OUR address (on which I'd already mentally printed return labels)!

I’m proud to say that my first thought was, “Um, yeah, I need to go for that run.”

When I got home, Zach was sitting on the couch and I told him, “Bad news, kiddo, those OTHER people bought our Mountain house.”

“I’m sorry, Mommy,” he said. “I know how much you wanted it. I did too.”

Then, when I told Matthew (who prayed every night that we DIDN’T get the house), he did a victory fist-pump and woo-hoo’ed in the air. I told him that he wasn’t being nice like a mean winner who’s all, “Haha! I won. You lost! In your face”-about it. Seeing that I was genuinely quite sad, he dropped it.

Later that morning, at the bus stop, I told the news to a neighbor-friend, Dianna and Andrea – my running partner/dear neighbor friend who’s been pissed since Day One of my Mountain House fantasy.

“Yeah, apparently God loves Matthew more than me ‘cuz He answered his prayers and not mine,” I grumbled.

“And mine too!” spoke up Atheist Andrea.

“Oh!” Dianna said. “Apparently God decided ‘Sure, Andrea, I’ll answer your prayer of making sure Jenny doesn’t move…if it means you’ll acknowledge that I exist!'”

“Great. God loves the Atheist more than me too!” I joke. “But whatever, I guess I can give up my dream home if it means Andrea’s salvation.”

So, here we are. I will admit it feels nice to have a little more breathing room in getting our house projects done; the holidays are crazy enough without those needing to happen as well. And Mike and I’ve agreed that, we will move…just maybe not right now…not until we find (another, a different) The One. But I’m looking. Even if it takes years. Who knows, maybe the Mountain House will be back up for sale in another year or two and I will have been right afterall!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

You know time is feelin’ scarce when I resort to bullet-point blog entries!

- Thanksgiving was really nice. Pretty quiet – just us, my parents and brother Chris. Unfortunately, I’d been sick with a nasty cold for a couple of weeks, and then Mike got it, so his vacation time was spent laying low.
- Laying low, actually means – decking the house for the holidays AND Mike getting to spend an entire afternoon on the roof in the POURING rain fixing a LEAK. EAK. The last thing we need is a LEAK! (Especially as we continue to prep the house for eventually selling).
- Kayliana has six-ish teeth now!! From none to a bunch in a pretty short amount of time! I’m pleased to report that now that her middle teeth (top and bottom) are all the way out, she seems to be slightly less constantly drenched in drool. This is comforting, as I was worried that she’d be the only kindergartener in a bib. Maybe not!
- Speaking of teeth…big news: Zachary lost his first tooth today! He, like, Matthew, has the claim-to-fame of being the first kid in his class to receive a visit from the Tooth Fairy. Apparently, we have early teeth-losing boys! He is VERY excited about this loss (to put it mildly).
- Another first: Kayliana spoke her first word yesterday (other than dada). I put out my arms for a hug and she looked at me, ever so clearly spoke the word, “Hug” and then ran into my arms. Zachary – sitting about ten feet away – didn’t believe me, and the Kayli went on to say it two more times. Pretty awesome first word if you ask me.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

There are so many happy memories to reflect on right now. A year ago today, we went to the hospital and – after what felt like an eternity of waiting – got to meet, fall in love with and bring home our daughter. Matthew – while everyone at the bus stop watched – met his baby sister for the first time in the back of our minivan. There weren’t many dry eyes at the bus stop that day. When my parents brought Zachary home, he took one look at Kayliana and started giggling profusely – he just couldn’t believe that she was real and really home. And, once again, very possibly my favorite kid quote of all time, that night, while the boys rocked Kayli and sang her a lullaby, Matthew said, “I like her MORE than love…like I don’t even know the word for it.”

Through all of the joy and delirious happiness that we were experiencing, deep down, my heart also ached. If I let myself, I could clearly hear the heart-wrenching sobs in that hospital room as a brave young woman lovingly placed her baby in my arms. Those first few days with Kayli at home – and still to this day – while I whispered fervent prayers of gratitude for our daughter, another part of me prayed for peace and strength and healing to envelop Mia. I could not wrap my head around the gift that she gave us. How does someone do that? Love their child so much they give them up for a better life? It really is the ultimate gift.

And that is why we are more than happy to have a relationship with Kayliana’s birth mom. We are so blessed to have an open adoption for our daughter so that there are more people to love her. It’s funny how people have applauded us on our willingness to do that, and I understand, and there have been – and will be – times when it’s a little challenging, but I still wouldn’t change it. It’s still worth it.

So, it seemed natural that we should share Kayli’s first birthday with the people who made her life – and her presence in ours – possible. On Friday night, we had Mia and her parents over for a celebratory dinner. We hadn’t seen Mia since our joint birthday dinner in May (we share the same birthday – just to really solidify how ‘meant to be’ this all is); we hadn’t seen Mia’s mom Norah since a trip to the zoo in April; we hadn’t seen James since that day in the hospital when Kayli was two days old and left with us. I was nervous but mostly very excited to see them. I knew that they must be feeling the same (times ten). Kayli has changed so much in just the last couple of months. She’s not a baby anymore! She’s a toddling, playing, little rippin’ around machine.

In my opinion, the dinner went flawlessly. The boys were obviously VERY comfortable with Mia and her parents (as in, being very much themselves and getting a little wild and wound up – much to the amusement of our company). And, thankfully, Kayli didn’t do too much clinging and was really comfortable with all of them as well. She was pretty much perfect. It was all pretty much perfect.

Mia and I even had a heart-to-heart. We both talked about how crazy it is that it’s already been a year. She said how thankful she is that we’re open to her being a part of Kayli’s life and that, she gets that WE’RE her parents and nothing will ever change that. “You’re the ones changing the diapers, cleaning up her vomit, there with her in the middle of the night…I’m so glad that I chose you…and that you chose me…well, that we found each other.”

“And you’re her birth mom,” I said. “She’ll always know that she was in YOUR tummy and that you loved her enough to choose us for her family – these crazy people that you stuck her with – she may hate you someday for it!”

We laughed together and agreed that we are totally the poster family for Open Adoption. Look out! There’s a new Juno in town.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

I guess it takes some of the pressure off that I have a nasty head cold – I’m all fuzzy headed ‘n stuff – so that’s a good excuse for not being entirely coherent or eloquent. Even if I was at full mental capacity, today would be a difficult day to accurately capture in prose.

Today is Kayliana’s first birthday. A year ago, this morning, Mike and I clutched my cellphone waiting for news. At 10:31, we received this text message from our Social Worker, Joy: “Baby girl was just born. I will give you the stats as soon as I know them. She is lovely.” And then at 11:15: “Pushed out in 1 hour 15 minutes  8.2lbs, 21 inches long. Beautiful baby girl ” That one was from Mia, the most phenomenal young woman – Kayliana’s birth mom. Mia later asked if I wanted to see a picture or just wait and see Kayli for the first time in person. Well, if you know anything about me, you know that I’m not one to want to wait on a surprise (yes, I found Christmas presents as a child and unwrapped them and attempted to rewrap them. Then practiced my look of surprise for Christmas morning…I’m sure my parents were on to me, though I thought I deserved an Oscar for my performance). Mia sent me a couple of photos including this one. I stared at it for a day and a half until we got to meet our daughter for the first time. I still feel, when staring at this picture that Kayli is gazing into my soul and burying herself deeper into my heart. Cheesy? Yes. True? Completely.

And oh my goodness, I could not wait to kiss those little chubby cheeks and that button nose! For the record: they are some of the sweetest little baby cheeks ever.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Friday afternoon, the boys had two pals over (brothers who are the same age as Matthew and Zach). They are nice enough boys – not the worst but also not the best I’ve seen. I was quite appalled, however, (but not that surprised, really, based on our society today), when they began talking about a recent movie they’d gone to see in the theater with their parents. “Transformers – Dark of the Moon.” This movie (which Mike and I saw for a date night, for the record) is rated PG-13 and is, in my opinion, completely and totally inappropriate for the likes of an 8 and 5 year old boy. They were talking about how cool it was.

Matthew asked, “But wasn’t it scary?”

The younger boy replied, “Yeah, there was some scary stuff…but it was SO awesome!”

I eventually shifted the conversation on to something else.

Friday nights, if we’re home and don’t have anything going on, we usually do family movie night. We eat dinner downstairs and watch a KID-APPROPRIATE film together. Even before the playdate, we knew what we would be watching (as soon as they got picked up and we could start). Zachary had requested the new Winnie the Pooh movie. I was already tickled, as it were, that my five year-old (and big brother) still want to watch Winnie the Pooh, but after hearing these other boys talk, I was even more relieved and thankful.

And I must say, that snuggling on the couch with our boys and watching that movie on that night, proved to be my favorite Family Movie Night ever. Hearing and watching Matthew and Zachary absolutely succumb to hysterical giggles at the wacky antics of that silly ‘ol bear and his pals in the Hundred Acre Wood…well, it brought a tear to my eye! (And I was laughing along with them). I hugged them tighter and said a prayer of gratitude that, while they’re still growing up too fast, they are – not yet, not nearly – TOO grown up.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

I’ve found myself – a bit unwittingly – constantly comparing this whole new-house-are-we-moving-thing to our adoption process a year ago. I do think that the real estate market could learn a thing or two. First of all, I think that for the most part real estate dealings are just kinda mean. Why does it have to be so cut-throat?

On Thursday, much to my horror, the Mountain House – OUR Mountain House – status changed from “Active” to “Pending Inspection” (and not our pendingness as we were hoping to wait until after the holidays to make an offer). I’m not losing all hope yet. Inspections/pending sales fall through all the time or people choose to walk for whatever reason. Quite frankly, I’m not giving up on this house until – and hopefully this doesn’t happen – new people close and move in (at which point I may just chain myself to the door). But seeing the change in status was beyond disheartening. I found myself saying the same thing that I said a year ago when our social worker told us that – at first – we’d not been chosen to be Kayliana’s family. “Then why did it feel so right? How could it feel so perfect if it wasn’t meant to be?! I was just SURE that it was us!!!” And, of course, we all know how that story ended – thankfully happily and forever after. I’m hoping for the same outcome now!

Why can’t we apply for a house in the same way? I’d be happy to make a family profile book to plead our case. I’ll write another creative little somethin’ to stand out from the other applicants and to explain why we are the perfect family for that house and why that house is a perfect home for us. One look at our smiling faces and there’s no way they could turn us away; we’d totally be in!!!

Unfortunately, that’s not how it works, so in the meantime all we can do is wait and pray that this house works out (for US!!).

I’m still going to bust my butt to get the house ready to sell. With the holidays coming (hooray!), Kayliana’s first birthday (yippee!) and tons of house projects to complete (oye!), I’ll have plenty to keep me busy.

Kayli, alone is enough to keep me beyond busy these days. And she’s so freakin’ fun! She just learned how to wave and thinks it’s pretty much the best thing ever, so when done waving she often applauds herself. She loves hiding around the corner for peek-a-boo, and then flips out and, hysterically giggling, tries to run away after she peeks out. If I get on the floor and put my arms out for a hug, she’ll come running into my arms – although occasionally she’ll tease and stop at the last minute (which she also finds hilarious). She loves pushing her baby dolls in their little stroller (and trying to stand/sit in it herself when they’re not around). She’s REALLY close to blowing kisses (flinging drool).

Speaking of drool (yes, another entry including this topic), it’s no secret that Kayli’s a drool machine. (To the point where we’ve had someone ask if there was something wrong with her). This past week she had a cold so we added snot to the mix. Zachary was telling my parents how he’s been calling her “BABY of CUTENESS!! Because,” he said, “She’s full of cuteness on the inside and out.”

“Oh!” I exclaimed. “So, THAT’S what she’s constantly leaking. She has a never-ending supply of cuteness that just continuously spills out of her!!” Now we know why her clothes are constantly soaked! So, when people ask, “Is she teething?” Or, incredulously, “Is that ALL snot?!” I can respond, “No, that is cuteness, my friends. Cuteness.” (Now feast your eyes on this cuteness. Sorry for the rerun from facebook photos, some of our fam isn’t on fb, so I post stuff here for them to see as well. Deal. You just get to see the Cuteness twice!)

Thursday, October 27, 2011

So, now that we’ve made this crazy decision to get our house ready to sell (post-Holidays), my at-home life went from crazy to slightly manic. Well, actually, I take that back. I’m exhausted and have been really busy, but I’m actually pretty proud of myself and the amount I’ve gotten done thus far. (And yet, the kids are still getting fed and cared for, so I’d say that’s an accomplishment too). It’s just the amount that remains that looms over me…My goal has been to pack up at least two boxes every day (or if I don’t pack any one day, then I get four done the next). My parentals have been kind enough to offer their condo basement for storage, and my plan is to pack that thing to the max. We’ll wait until after Christmas to move out some furniture (you know, to open up the space, help the house look bigger and to make it easier to steam clean the carpets, etc.), but in the meantime we’ve taken two van loads of boxes and bags and storage tubs to their place. I’m a little appalled at how much I’ve already packed up but just how much there is left to go. And this is after spending the summer doing a mass decluttering! (Which is still going on. Every time I pack I have a pack it box, a recycle/garbage bag and a donation bag). Nine years in a house and adding three additional (little) people to a family definitely adds to the accumulation of STUFF.

Once I get most of the packing done and have just the minimum required items left behind (so, you know, we can still actually live here for several months), then the projects begin! Patching up nail holes and dinks in walls, doors, trim (we are apparently VERY abusive to our home). Then painting the hallway, part of the dining room and kitchen. Possibly painting the master bedroom a more neutral color (but probably not…people can just deal with the deep dark soothing romantic den that is our “Blueberry Patch”-ed walls). Getting the garden prettified (and winterified which needs to happen anyway). And the one that I’m (oddly) most excited about yet simultaneously most dready: regrouting bathtub/shower tiles. I spent Friday night watching how-to videos on YouTube (ahhh, how Friday nights have changed…). And I think I may actually try to tackle this project myself rather than leave it for Mike…he’ll be busy cleaning off the roof, gutters, powerwashing, touching up outside trim paint, etc.

Oh, and we got a new lawn mower (after borrowing neighbors’ all summer since ours died in the spring), and we have a new dishwasher coming today. How thrilling! It’s Christmas come early!

So, while all this is happening, I’m still nervously watching our Mountain House on-line (and occasionally in person). On Monday night, I had a meeting at church and decided to drive up the mountain to see what that’s like in the dark (surprisingly not too bad and there are a couple select street lights on your way up). I’d had a stressful day and was looking forward to a brief moment of dreaming that this house was our home and I was returning to it…when…oh…are you even kidding me?!! The house was all lit up, garage doors open and two cars in the driveway. PEOPLE!! PEOPLE were looking at OUR house!! On a Monday night!! Who goes to see a house on a mountain in the dark on a Monday night?! People who are serious about seeing it, that’s who!! So, I debated about, I don’t know, sneaking around the house and making ghostly-spooky sounds (‘tis the time of year anyway) and then maybe they’d think it was haunted and not be interested. I thought about turning out the car lights, doing a slow motion drive-by and blasting ‘gangstuh’ rap (so they’d think maybe it was a bad part of town)…but I didn’t want our potential new neighbors recognizing my car someday…so instead I went to Dairy Queen and bought Mike and I Blizzards in order to handle the stress.

I hope I don’t gain 50 pounds during this house-selling-buying process!

Friday, October 14, 2011

It’s confession time. I’ve not been completely honest with you and now I’m ready to finally come clean. I’ve felt badly about it but we’ve both now decided that it’s for the best. Phew. Here goes: I’ve been cheating. I swear I didn’t mean to do it at first. I thought it would just be for fun. I just wanted to see what else was out there, and then, without meaning to I totally fell in love. Totally. Completely. Until death do us part. The One. I feel like I’ve betrayed so many people and will hurt so many people by doing this, but I just have to follow my gut. People have tried to intervene; they’ve tried to talk me out of it, but to no avail. And after a bit of time, Mike’s gotten used to the idea and also thinks it’s what we should do. It’s what’s best for our family.

We’re planning to move. See! I’ve been cheating on our wonderful, amazing, comfy-cozy house! And like all cheaters I will say (and this IS true) that I really wasn’t planning on doing it. I didn’t plan to find the absolute house of my dreams. I just hopped on-line one day just to, ya know, see what else is out there.

And there It was.

Honestly, I don’t know that it was completely love at first sight, but there was definitely an initial spark and a lot of curiosity on my end. How on earth is THAT house being sold for THAT price in THAT neighborhood? And then the doubt: There must be something totally wrong with it or it would’ve sold by now. It’s probably a cleaned up Meth Lab or maybe there was a quadruple murder there…

But I still didn’t care.

I showed the pictures to Mike and he humored me, thinking that it was just a passing phase. He ooed and ahhhed and then brought me back to reality, “Even though it’s a good price for that area, we could never afford it…and we love this house. We love everything about where we live. The boys are in a great school right now. Matthew’s finally got a really great teacher that he absolutely adores. We have awesome neighbors. The new library at the bottom of the hill will be open soon. We can walk to shops, restaurants and parks. I don’t have a super long commute to work…why would we move (even if we could afford it?)”

He’s right. Of course, he’s right. I do love (nearly) everything about where we’re at right now. But….but….it sure would be nice to be in the better school district come middle school. We’d be closer to church, Costco, Trader Joe’s, plenty of shopping. Unlike our current gym, the one out there is brand new and has a pool and basketball courts, a super awesome kids’ club. There’s a great community center with a preschool (for Kayliana eventually) and tons of programs for the kids. There’s a really good public pool for swimming lessons. Not to mention the fact that, oh, this house happens to be on a decent property backing to a state park and…did I mention it is my DREAM house? The kids would all have their own rooms. We’d have space for forever and would never outgrow it and…and…

Did I mention it’s on the very tippy top of a mountain?! The neighborhood is at about 1000 feet. We’d probably have our own weather system! Of course this would be a deterant to some, but apparently, unbeknownst to me, I’ve always wanted to live on the top of a mountain.

The first time I drove up to the house – just to see it in person – I knew. I had a feeling in my gut and a lightness in my head (not caused by elevation sickness). It wasn’t just that I could see us in that house. We are MEANT to live in that house. I see our kids growing up there and someday bringing their kids to see us there.

I watched the house on-line for about two weeks. Visiting the listing every day. I drove Mike up to the house after church one Sunday. He still hoped that it was a passing phase. He even offered to remodel our current kitchen or do SOMETHING to stay where we’re at. And again, it’s not that I don’t love where we’re at, it’s just, it’s just, it’s THE house.

I was trying to let the house go…I really was. But then a neighbor of ours who I hadn’t seen in a while and who happens to be a real estate agent, happened to be at the bus stop so I chatted him up briefly about this home. He, of course, offered to show it to us should I need to just “get it out of my system.” And, then, oh THEN, later that day I saw that the price had been dropped again making it a possibility. A real life possibility! So, then Mike agreed to humor me and go see it. And then we saw it. And then I mentally moved our furniture into every room. And then I was totally a goner.

Did I mention that the master bathroom and bedroom are spectacular?! And that the house is also my absolute dream layout? And that buying into that neighborhood at that price and with these current mortgage rates…well, we’d be stupid not to do it.

Yes, Mike will have a slightly longer commute (about 15 minutes each way), but he does have a telecommuting option (and he’ll probably start working from home one or two days a week). Yes, we will be giving up the ability to walk down to stores, a new library, restaurants, our favorite little produce stand and awesome parks. Yes, we’ll be a little farther from freeways and Seattle. We won’t be as centrally located. Yes, when it gets snowy or icey we will likely be trapped, stuck, secluded on the top of our mountain… But believe it or not, all of these things are what excite me about the house.

It’s just a LITTLE bit farther away – enough that we’ll plan ahead. And to me it’s not that we’d be stuck (OK, I recognize this is all rose-colored glasses right now, and cabin fever does eventually settle in), we’d be cozy. We’d hunker down in our little mountain top oasis and play board games and drink cocoa and watch movies and listen to Christmas music 24-7 / 365 and watch deer saunter across the yard. We might even see mountain lions and bears, oh my!

So, I love everything about this house, but….but…obviously we have to sell our current house first (right, details!), and that’s going to take a little time and prep work, not to mention that we’re getting into the hardest time of year for house selling – the holidays. This is a good thing and a bad thing for us. It means that the future Martin Mountain Manor will HOPEFULLY not sell and can wait for us until January (please, please, please, please, please…). It’s a good thing because at that point we may be able to get an even better price for the Mountain house. But it also means that it’s a HUGE gamble and we run the risk of someone else swooping in and getting the house (no, no, no, no, no, no, no…). In our favor: the house has been on the market for quite some time already. So, if it didn’t sell during the spring/summer, it’s very unlikely to sell during the winter when a.) not much sells and b.) who would be crazy enough to go house-hunting and then buy a house on the top of a mountain in the winter anyway?! (Oh right, us). Plus, it would be nice to have a couple more months financially, so we can save up and be prepared for this mondo-mega-monstruous purchase. However, waiting will possibly make selling our house harder too. Ahhh, the craziness!!

In the meantime, we’ll start getting things ready and enjoying every last moment in this house that we’ve loved so very much. Yes, it is just walls and a roof, but it’s been HOME. We’ve started a family here. I’ve rocked three babies to sleep in a certain chair in a certain room. I’ve painted nearly every wall. My garden was just becoming the whimsical sanctuary that I’ve been working towards. I’ll only have a few more months of running three mornings a week in the wee dark hours with Andrea – something I’ll miss beyond words. We’ll have our last Thanksgiving and our last Christmas in the house where our children celebrated their first Thanksgiving and their first Christmas. It will be so bittersweet but so exciting at the same time! Like everything with this decision, there are compromises and give and take. But I have no doubt that should it all work out – which I hope, I FEEL it will – it was all meant to be. I feel as sure about this house as I’ve only felt about two other things in my life: #1, that Mike was The One, and that #2, Mia was the birth mom for us and she just HAD to pick us (and she did!!!). Those two things both worked out pretty darn well if I do say so myself, and I pray that this is my big #3!!

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

When Mike and I were looking through the photos that Andrea took, we couldn’t help but laugh at about half of them. (I know, MEAN parents). You see, since day 2 (our day 1 with Kayli) we’ve said that she’s a Vending Machine of Body Fluid. Since day 2 we’ve been waiting for a tooth. The amount of drool that comes out of that tiny little body is extraordinary. It’s like humanly impossible. But she makes the impossible…possible. We’ve thankfully outgrown the near-constant spitting up (and subsequent spot-cleaning of the carpet 12 times a day – I once did it eight times in one hour; yes, I counted), but there seems no end to the drool-factor. I’m a little concerned that she’ll be the drooling kindergartener that no one really wants to be friends with. And when we looked at these photos, we couldn’t help but laugh at just how…well, WET it is. I mean isn’t she slightly embarrassed?! It’s almost like having your sweaty pit-stains showing up in photos – embarrassing and AWKWARD!!

Joking aside, the girl DOES need to learn to close her mouth. It’s open ALL. OF. THE. TIME. We’ve decided this is why she’s not said “Mama” really yet – that requires putting your lips together which requires closing your mouth. She says “Dada” like a champ and she also says “All duh!” (for “all done”)….both of which conveniently leave one’s mouth gapingly open. Just her style.

She’s outgrown all of her bibs (sadly they just don’t fit around her sweet ‘lil neck rolls) and after so much use and washing the Velcro doesn’t stick much anyway, so we’ve had to succumb to awkward photos like this. Besides, I was tired of all her cute clothes being covered with bibs. Now her cute clothes are just covered in a pool of drool. At least you can usually see through the wetness to all the cuteness underneath.

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Kayliana Therese is a full-on walking machine. Last Friday afternoon/evening, she got it. It clicked and she decided to commit to this whole walkin’ thang. She’s also got some impressive moves now. She can stop, squat to pick up an item, stand back up and recommence the walking. She can even stop for a brief dance break (bending knees, shaking hands or even – her other new party trick – clapping!). Kayli can navigate turns with grace and ease. The one thing that Kayliana does not handle well is obstacles. She’ll go over them or under them but rarely take the easier route and just go around them. (This includes toys, people’s legs – if they’re sitting on the floor, the dining room table – where she’s bonked her head numerous times, and the kitchen stools where she’s gotten completely stuck all pretzeled up under/through/around the chair legs).

The other day, she’d walked over to one of her blankies. She miscalculated her stopping point and ended up standing on it, pinning it to the ground. With every bend to pick it up, her legs were just pushing even more weight down upon it and she could NOT retrieve it. This was NOT OK. She gave a shout of frustration – pure anger and rage – stood up and then clapped angrily at the blanket. The blanket remained pinned until she eventually moved off of it. The angry clapping didn’t seem to help much (other than completely amusing me).

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Brief update:

At 10 months old, Kayliana finally has a little dagger of a tooth cutting through. She doesn’t seem all that perplexed by it. We walked with Andrea yesterday morning down to our little chocolate shop/wine tasting/coffee cafĂ© (basically heaven). Andrea suddenly whipped out her camera and started shooting photos of Kayli. This is just one of many!!

Zach has become quite the little artist lately. Nearly everyday he creates pages and pages of pictures that we staple together into a book. He then dictates the storyline for me and voila! We have another award-winning original short story. He’s decided that he wants to become a famous book writer. (We’ve since taught him the word “Author” though for a while he thought we said he’d become an “Arthur.” I think he wondered why he’d have to change his name to be a book writer).

The other day, we were playing outside and Zach was doing some sidewalk chalk art on the street. He drew an adorable picture: a stick figure boy and a stick figure girl and a big heart inbetween them.

He said, “Look, mom! A boy and a girl in love!”

I replied, “Ahhh, that’s so sweet. Is it me and daddy?”

He looked at me like I had three heads and said, “Um, no. The boy’s a lizard and the girl’s a hamster. Duh!”

Sunday, September 11, 2011

It’s hard to type today’s date and not feel a tug of emotion – as we all do. Ten years ago today, we will ALL remember where we were, what we were doing. Mike and I started the day wishing each other a happy first month of marriage (though with half of it spent in the hospital and Chemotherapy looming, it really hadn’t been all that happy). I then got in the car to drive to the school where I was just a day into my first full week as a music teacher. I turned on the radio and that’s when I heard about the planes, the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, a field in Pennsylvania. I remember I happened to be driving right next to Boeing field when the radio dj announced they were grounding all planes. The irony. Yep, you never can forget those moments.

Now for more recent reflection, and thankfully, happy ones. Last weekend, we celebrated Matthew’s 8th birthday. Friday night was an army-themed party with some of his school buddies. And then on Monday, we took the boys for a surprise and magical trip to the circus. Both celebratory occasions were so much fun. Matthew and his pals had a blast at the party. We played one game where they had to wrap the wounded soldier and get him to safety. (Wrap toilet paper around him and drag him on the beach towel-gurrney). They LOVED it. We also played “Sargeant Says” and then they tromped all through the backyard fighting some sort of battle against some enemy all while wearing their army party helmet hats. It was great!

I must say the most memorable event of the evening for me was a rather strange moment. VERY strange. One of the little brothers of Matthew’s classmate is a, uh, interesting little fellow. The boy asked kept referring to Kayliana as “he” and “him;” I corrected him that Kayli is actually a girl and a “she/her” but he continued just using male pronouns, so I eventually gave up. Then all of a sudden little boy turns to me and says (pointing to Kayliana), “Is he Michael Jackson?” I looked at him for a moment blankly.

“What?” I asked.

He repeated again more slowly, “Is he Michael Jackson?”

I looked at Mike to make sure that he’d heard this and that I wasn’t in fact crazy. I looked at little boy and said, “No, that’s Matthew’s and Zach’s baby sister, Kayli.”

“Oh,” he says without skipping a beat. “Well, my dad says that Michael Jackson is dead but Jesus can bring him back as a baby.” What. The. WHAT?! So, this kid thinks that Kayliana is Michael Jackson reincarnated???? Pretty much the most random, strangest thing I’ve ever heard.

And while it wasn’t the moonwalk, Kayliana took her first steps ON Matthew’s 8th birthday!! She’s still primarily cruising, holding on to furniture and crawling when there’s nothing to hold on to, but she’s throwing in a few independent steps every now and then. We were given a little doll stroller/walker toy from a neighbor and holy majoly, does she ever love walking and giving her baby a ride in it! SO cute.

After watching Kayliana’s first steps, we left her with a babysitter and took an AMAZING trip to the Ringling Bros/Barnum Bailey Circus. I couldn’t stop tearing up as I watched the boys faces and listened to their giggles as they experienced the magic of their first ever circus. It really was incredible. Zach’s favorite part was the two “Ninja-Kung-Fu guys” (as he describes them) who while blindfolded lept through a spinning wheel that had swords and was lit on fire. His face after watching the man do a flying-somersault through the firey sword-ring was pure shock and awe. Matthew and I shared the same favorite part – the motorcycles (on which the boys got to sit before the show) that drive at 60 mph in a 16 foot wide sphere…while a woman is dangling and spinning in the middle. Just another day at the office for these performers! Craziness.

Zach hasn’t shown much interest in recommitting to gymnastics (in order to become one of the circus ninja guys), so maybe soccer will be a better fit for him. He had his first ever soccer game yesterday in the 90-degree heat (OK, maybe it was only 80, but still, it was HOT!) and on a field of pure dust and dirt. Where’s the grassy field I was envisioning?! The other team only had four kids, so they borrowed several of ours. Most of the time Zach was playing on the other team but never was really clear on which goal he should be going for. The funniest (yet saddest) moment of the game was when Zach finally got the ball. He paused for a moment to line up for a strong kick towards the correct goal when, as usual in early years-soccer games, all 16 kids on the “field” came rushing at him. One of his team mates got the ball away from him and the throng of dusty, dirty sweaty kids moved like a soccer amoeba down the field. Zach stood there frozen in shock.

“Zach! What’s wrong?” One of the coaches called out to him.

With a face of immense disgust, rage, confusion and pure tortured sorrow, Zach – fighting back tears – said, “They stole the ball from me!!!!” Like: how could this happen? The injustice. The downright MEANess. How is this fair or fun? What kind of stupid game is this where you don’t just take turns and share nicely?!

The coaches – fighting laughter – said, “That’s right, Zach. They STOLE it. That’s not nice! You go steal it right back!!!” And with a look of dedicated focus and mission, Zach took off after the ball (which was somewhere in the herd of sweaty soccer madness).

Zach was one of two kids on the team who was given the “Hustle Award” for the game – a mini-gumball dispenser. Turns out this soccer thing isn’t so bad afterall.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

I’m sad to have to keep this short and sweet but time is a-lackin’ these days. I CANNOT believe that summer is over! (Especially as it’s getting gorgeous out here again – 74 and sunny)! But it’s true; the boys started school this week! Zachary – (sniff sniff) my little monkey-pants, Baby Cakes, Zacharoo – started Kindergarten today. Zach is Mr. Can’t Wait to Do Everything my Brother Gets to do, so he insisted on riding the bus to and from school on the very first day. Mike and I put them on the bus and then hopped in the car to meet up at school for pictures. And like Matthew’s first day, I held it together until RIGHT as I was exiting his classroom to the sound of his teacher saying, “Wave bye-bye to your parents. You’ll see them again soon!” Ahhh, man.

We had an amazing month of August – beach days, swim lessons, playing on the Slip ‘n Slide, Staycationing with our BFF’s, neighborhood parties, game nights,a trip to the zoo, BBQ’s…the summer just really wasn’t long enough.

But, alas, the school year is upon us, and I will admit that I do love me some good scheduled weekdays. Summer is wonderful in the ability to be more spontaneous, more laid-back, but as one who gets a high off calendars and lists, I am ready for routine.

Tomorrow evening we will be celebrating Matthew’s 8th birthday (coming up on Monday, the 5th – it’s a National Holiday this year! As it should be). Matthew will be having just a few classmate buddies over for an army-themed party. He’s been making his own decorations with pictures of tanks and army men. I’m surprising him though and when the boys get home from school tomorrow the place will be decked out in brown and green streamers and army decals, and army hats for all of the attendees.

The party will be fun, but I personally can’t wait for his actual birthday. My parents have been kind enough to gift the four of us (Kayliana will stay home with a sitter) tickets to go see the Ringling Bros/Barnum and Bailey Circus. I seriously might pee my pants I’m so excited. The circus is SO magical and they are the PERFECT ages to experience it. I’m pretty sure I was Zachary’s age the last time I went to the circus and I can still remember parts of it. AND the boys don’t know, so it’ll be a huge surprise!! I can’t wait!!!