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Sunday, December 29, 2013


So, Christmas happened.  It was nice…enough.  Obviously, considering the circumstances, things – holidays, joyous occasions, events, etc. – just aren’t going to be amazing, wonderful, great.  I don’t know that I’ve used any really pleasant adjectives to describe anything over the last month.  (Unless it was a full 50-50 mix of awful and yet wonderful like the day of dad’s funeral). I think when people have asked how something was, I give a kind of pause-sigh, exhilation, “Good” type of response.  And I follow it with a mumbled, “You know, fine” or “OK.”  I suppose I’ve occasionally experienced surprise when – for a few moments I’m able to ignore reality – and do feel a little fun, a little joy.  I say, “I actually had fun.”
But Christmas this year wasn’t fun.  It was nice…enough.  It was quiet.  We were already planning on hosting it here which was a first.  We’ve often done Thanksgiving but Christmas has always been at mom and dad’s.  We’d decided pre-Thanksgiving and pre-dad’s passing to switch it up this year.  So, I suppose it was good that we had a change in scenery, a shift in the Christmas routine. 
Mom and Chris came over around 10:30; we opened gifts, played a couple of games, helped mom check email.  Mom had a bad headache and napped while I made dinner.  It was quiet.  Nice…enough.
Mom made all three kids look alike mini-me gingerbread cookies.  She spent a lot of time on them…and then, of course, the kids devoured them pretty quickly.  So much for all her hard work, but I suppose she knew that would be the end result.
What should’ve/would’ve been the most exciting gift presentation of the day was a little anti-climatic.  We gave the kids 2014 calendars – the boys got Lego ones and for Kayli’s was Disney princess themed.  For February 16-22nd, I’d printed and pasted pictures on each day’s square – an airplane, Disneyland pictures, Legoland and another airplane.  That’s right – we’re going on a trip!!  We’ll get to see Mike’s dad and stepmom and hopefully my uncle and aunt as well.  Anyway, the kids got to the pictures and just stared blankly at them.  It was a dramatic, LONG pause before they finally figured it out.  When they did they were pretty pumped…as the pictures show!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Sometimes going through the poop is worth it

What we needed was an actual night of family holiday fun.  And a trip to Santa.  I told the boys happily in the morning that we were going to FINALLY get to the mall to see Santa that night (thinking this would thrill them, of course).  Well, I didn’t get the reaction I anticipated.  Matthew bursts into tears.


“I don’t WANT to see Santa,” he sobbed. 


After I got over my shock from this unexpected reaction, I listened to him continue on, “I just…I’m just so nervous…I just don’t know what to say!”


Great, here we’re at our first year where chances are good that Kayliana won’t cry but now I had to worry about my ten year old falling apart.


In the end, visiting Santa, went well.  All kids smiled and talked to him (though the picture – of course – didn’t turn out ideal, it was at least tear-free).  After, our Santa visit, we went downstairs to a sitting area of the mall while we decided what our next activity would be. And that’s when it happened.  The unimaginable.  The inconceivable. 


I sent the following letting to the mall info email address the next day.  I will let my email deliver to YOU the news of what happened to us on our much-needed holiday family outing.


“I'm sorry to write an email like this, but our night was ruined this evening by a surprising and disgusting occurrence while at Bellevue Square.  We took our three young children to Santa and for a photo.  Afterwards, we were resting for a moment in the small cluster of chairs and sofa just outside of Helzberg Diamonds.  I was sitting in the chair, when my seven year old discovered a huge pile of dog poop on the ground right next to me.  This wasn't just dog feces that someone had tracked in on their shoes, this was 'a dog had full on done its business on the mall floor' dog poop.  Now, normally, I'd be able to think, "Well, hopefully it was a service dog and the owner was unaware or unable to clean up after it." 


However, we'd seen not one but two NON-service dogs in the mall before we saw the dog pile.  One dog was sitting on a chair with its front paws on the table outside of Specialty's CafĂ© and Bakery.  I wouldn't want to be dining at a table that had a dog on it.  Again, this was no service dog.  It was a little lap dog. 


Earlier, when waiting in line for Santa photos, our son pointed out the sign that said, "No pets allowed."  Well, two groups after us, people exited after having their photo taken with Santa -- along with their holiday sweater vest-wearing dog.  Again, not a service dog but this time a small chihuahua. It sure gives a mixed message when a sign says, "No pets allowed," and a minute later people are leaving after having their dog's picture taken with Santa.


Now, sorry, to be descriptive, but the pile of dog poop we saw probably couldn't have come from either of these small dogs, but I was already astounded to see dogs so freely allowed in the mall.  Is this a new policy?  If it is then I suggest you supply dog mess clean-up bags that are provided at outside parks.  I'd also request that you supply santizer wipes everywhere as, after discovering the dog poop -- a little too late -- we found that one of our children had dragged his coat in it.  And I'd set my purse down next to the chair in some of it that someone else had tracked from the bigger pile.  By the time we got home -- our car stinking of dog feces -- we found dog poop on my purse, my wrist, my shirt, my 10 year old's pants' knee, my 10 year old's coat hood, my 10 year old's hand and my 7 year old's shoes.  We're not idiots.  We didn't roll around in the pile of poop, yet it being where we weren't expecting it caused a major problem.  This was like a full-on dog poop attack and it ruined our night out for some holiday family fun.


After discovering the feces, by the way, my husband, placed one of the chairs over the pile so others would not step in it.  We also went straight to Guest Services and informed them of the mess. 


Please put an end to the poop problem -- pronto!

Thank you”


So, yeah, that’s how our night went.  The next morning, the boys and I were rushing out the door to get to the bus.  Zach’s shoes were still wet from being depooped and cleaned.  He got in his rainboots.  Matthew pulled on his tennis shoes only to discover that somehow a rather large poop situation still lingered on one of his shoes.  I told him to grab his old shoes and we ran out the door.  We ran down the hill to the bus stop and made it JUST in time.


I told a couple of the moms about our poopy experience the previous night.  One gal said, “Oh! I was just at JCPenney a couple of days ago and totally saw someone walking their dog through the store.”  She also went on to tell me that she’d worked at a winery for a while and the dog situation had become quite a problem there.  People take their canine companions into stores, restaurants, establishments, etc. knowing that most of the time the establishment won’t say anything for fear of being accused of discrimination lest the dog actually be a helper dog.  She said, “Oh yeah, people will just say, it’s my comfort dog…I have stress.”


“Then I’m going to start carrying around an open bottle of wine and telling people it’s my comfort wine…I have stress,” I said.  Plus, as someone pointed out upon hearing my new plan: the bottle of wine won’t leave a trail of poop.


As I walked home from the bus stop contemplating all this poop business, I looked down and noticed a rather fresh pile of the exact substance about which I pondered.  “Oh…poop,” I thought.  “I wonder if the boys and I ran through that on our way to the bus.”  My shoes were clean though.


When Matthew got home from school he glumly told me, “When I got to school, I found some MORE dog poop on my shoes that were supposed to be the clean ones.  When I went to wipe them on the grass, I looked down and was wiping them next to another huge pile of dog poop.”


OH MY GOSH.  There is a dog poop curse upon our family right now.


After all this frustration, I was amazed and in awe when I received a quick response from the mall.


“Jenny,                                                                                                                                                               Thank you for bringing this to our attention.  I am beyond disgusted for you.  We do not allow pets in the shopping center and we absolutely do not allow them in the Santa booth.  I actually made those No Pets Please signs myself after there was an issue with someone bringing their dog in and the staff there feeling “uncomfortable” saying no without the signs.  So to find out that they’ve been ignoring this rule again, is frustrating to say the least.  I am contacting the proprietor this morning to… discuss.

As far as the dog with the paws on the table… I really don’t know what to say to that.  I’m dog lover, but I just don’t understand this bringing your pet to the mall thing.  I have forwarded your email to our Facilities Director who is currently working on the best way to provide sanitary wipes for customers in convenient locations for times when our facilities staff is not in that particular area to clean a table or seating area.

I also sent this to our VP of Security to have him reinforce with his staff our rules and what they should be telling people who bring their pets in.  My  General Manager and I would like to send you $200 in gift certificates and a free car detail service.  Also, if you could let me know how your experience at Guest Services was reporting this, I would appreciate it. 

Please give me the best address to send the certificates to.                                                                                       Best Regards, Anna”

A Christmas miracle, indeed.  I immediately emailed Anna back and started with this: “Anna,

We're touched and so pleased with your genuine concern, response and generosity in making it up to us.  I didn't share this part of the story, but yesterday marked three weeks to the day that my dad suddenly passed away.  (He -- in perfect health -- had a massive and unexpected heart attack on November 26th).  My parents lived (my mom still does) walking distance from Bellevue Square and every year we make an outing to Santa and many trips to Snowflake Lane a tradition.  Yesterday, was the first chance we had in the three weeks since my dad died to actually take the kids for the fun outing.  So, needless-to-say, the frustration we dealt with was just extra...frustrating.  Thank you SO much for your very kind reaction.”

She, yet again, responded with such sweet sincerity and went on to tell me the changes that they’d made just since receiving my email.  The security staff had already had a meeting, someone was busy at work producing bigger signs explaining the dog policy, they would be providing more kiosks with hand sanitizing wipes (you know, just in case) and they’d researched the ADA/Service Dog laws so they know how to ask someone without risking lawsuit or complaint.  BOOM!

Now THAT, my friends, is customer service. 


Tuesday, December 17, 2013

My story

Last Wednesday, was dad’s rosary, funeral mass and reception.  I can honestly say – like so much about this – it was an intense combination of awful and yet wonderful at the same time.  The funeral was beautiful.  It was such a perfect celebration of who dad.  We were so touched that all of dad’s siblings could make it (from Chicago and Connecticut) and one of mom’s sister’s (from South Carolina) joined us as well.  For a mid-week, late morning service, the fact that over 250 people came to honor dad is just amazing.  What a guy!

Kayliana made quite a scene at the funeral.  There we were in the very front pew, with Kayli – in her gorgeous Christmas dress – with her left arm covered in neon hot pink cast (yeah, that’s been going on too).  She had an impeccably timed cry (upon seeing one tear escape Mike’s eye – she’s used to seeing my eyes leak, but some liquid coming out of daddy’s freaked her out).  This cry brought the house down.  It was right after Deacon Frank talked about my dad as “D-dad” to our kids.  How they’d said he’s now, “Saint D-Dad.” And a moment later, Kayli let out the most window-shattering sob.  The drama.  Not a dry eye in the house.

We’d made a picture slide show (Mike, my brother Timothy and I) to play at the reception and had Irish music playing.  My Timothy and his wife Rebecca had made beautiful centerpieces for the photo table.  They were little glass dishes of all sizes full of sand and shells with a lit candle suspended by wire above each one.  Dad always loved the water and the beach.  We spent a lot of time there.

Time has turned into a strange phenomenon to me.  It’s going too, fast yet I feel like I’m moving at snail-speed.  Christmas Eve is a week from today.  Normally I’d be beyond excited – thoroughly enjoying every aspect of the Advent season.  Obviously, things just aren’t going to be the same this year…and will never be the same again.  My new normal has changed.  I’ll forever feel this – at least the memory of this – what it was like to have dad die two days before Thanksgiving.  This season has been eternally changed.  But not for many other people.  Other people – while saddened by the loss of their friend or knowing that I’ve lost my dad – they’re affected but obviously not to the depth that we are.  They’re still enjoying the holidays.  They’re still sending out their joyous Christmas greetings and smiling photos.  I had picked what picture would go on ours (down below).  But there won’t be a mailed out greeting from us this year.  I just can’t do it.    

I told Mike that right now the most I can give is about 70% to anything.  I have a constant 30% of me that’s just devoted to pain and sadness.  I never stop thinking about it.  It’s always there.  The second someone stops talking (or even while they’re talking) or there’s a lull in activity (or no lull at all) something pops into my head and the pain swells in my heart.  I’ll just feel it.  Or sometimes I’ll instantly replay three weeks ago today.  Especially the morning.  Especially when Mike called me on the phone.

I’m going to attempt – today – to go back to my beloved Spin class at the gym.  I haven’t exercised in these past three weeks.  The irony is, in some ways, I will be recreating that exact morning.  I’ll go to Spin and then I think I may actually force myself to go to the shopping center.  (I do have a little bit of Christmas shopping to do still and I feel like, well, I might as well go there).  The mall where – standing in the parking lot and about to get Kayli out of the car to go in – Mike called and over the phone said the two life changing words, “Your dad.”

That day was awful.  That day was hell.  And yet, in a weird way, part of me wants to relive it.  I don’t want to forget it.  I was talking to Rebecca about this – wondering why I’m such a wacko and want to relive the worst day of my life.  She, as so often, understood me before I did.  She said, “You’re still there.  In your heart, you still feel like you’re in that day.”

And that’s exactly it.  Everyone else will move on.  And I know that eventually this will get easier, this won’t always hurt this much.  There have been many, many moments where I’m able to 100% enjoy something – with the 70% of me that’s available right now to experience enjoyment…

People say weird things.  Again, I get it.  I understand that people just don’t know what to say.  The worst?  A guy (who I’d just met who was assisting with the catering for the funeral reception) said, “You know, at least you didn’t have to watch him suffer.” [Yes, this is true.  I know this.] “He could have gotten really old and miserable like my dad.  I had to change his diapers.  It was awful.  You just hate to see your parent in that situation.  Let me tell you, it wasn’t pretty.  He and I both cried the first time I had to change him…So, you know, you just think about that.  You think about how you didn’t have to change your dad.  Just think about me changing my dad’s diapers.” 

Um, no thank you.  He literally ended the conversation with this…with this awful painted picture.  Thanks, I’ll pass. 

Another conversation that sticks out in my mind is with one of my neighbors.  Tom said, not in a rude way, but in a quite matter-of-fact kind of way, “You know, pretty soon, all you’ll have of your dad is happy memories.  The pain will go away and this will just become part of your life history.  It’s part of your story now.”

Yeah.  I don’t want it to be part of my story.  This part sucks.

Thursday, December 05, 2013

Dad's Obituary

If you are friends or family and haven't seen my dad's on-line obituary yet, send me an email and I'll give you the link.

Monday, December 02, 2013

If only

It was a week ago today that I saw my dad alive for the last time.  Of course, I had no idea that it would be the last chance I ever had to talk to him.  Kayliana had no idea that it would be the last time she’d ever see her Grandad (“D-dad”).  None of us could have known how much our world would be changed in just a matter of hours.

Because the last six days have been such a blur – such a foggy haze of confusion, shock and emotion – I really haven’t thought much about last Monday.  Until today.  Every Monday, I take Kayli over to my parents’ condo and then I go teach music.  Last Monday, like many, I went over early so we could have lunch together. 

As dad sometimes would do, when we arrived, he got down on his knees, spread open his arms and Kayli went running at him.  The hug turned into a full-on knock-down, tickle, wrestling-situation.  I don’t know how they spent their time together while I was gone; I just take comfort in the fact that they did.  Plus, last week, I picked up the boys before getting Kayli (something I don’t do everytime), so Matthew and Zachary got to see him as well.

When we were getting ready to leave and head home, once again, dad got down on the floor, opened his arms and Kayli ran repeatedly into them for hugs…to the point where, I was getting frustrated because she wouldn’t stop.  I’m sure I prodded her with impatient comments: “Come on, Kayli.  Alright.  You already got your last hug.”   I was, of course, in a rush to leave.  The fighting through traffic, getting home to dinner and homework just seemed SO important.  Like it just can’t wait any longer.  Like it’s what matters most.  If only I’d known.  If only we could always remember and be aware of what really matters most. 

The boys had already gone out the door.  As Kayli and I exited and I pulled the door shut behind us, she and dad called repeated, “Good-bye!”  “Good-bye!”  “Good-bye!”’s to each other…all the way up the stairs until they couldn’t hear each other any longer. 

If only. 

Saturday, November 30, 2013

My dad

This is not a blog post I ever imagined writing…and certainly not soon.  Tuesday morning, November 26th, after going to my weekly indoor cycle class at the gym, Kayli and I were going to run a few errands.  I’d just parked the car in front of the shopping center and had opened Kayli’s door when my cellphone rang.  It was Mike.  He sounded weird or mad or something.  He asked where I was and asked if I could come home he needed to talk to me.  Well, obviously, I wasn’t just going to drop everything and head home unless I knew what was up. 

He just kept saying, “I just really need you home.  I don’t want to tell you over the phone.  Do you want me to come there?”  Eventually, after a pause and my brain catching up it clicked that something was very wrong.  I asked, “What’s wrong?”  After a long pause, I asked, “Did someone die?”  My first thought was of my mom’s brother, Phil – the amazing uncle that the boys call “Uncle Phuzzy.”  He’s had all sorts of medical stuff going on and hasn’t been doing great. 

"Yes,” Mike said.

I kind of gasped and said, “Who??”  I could tell that Mike didn’t want to tell me.  There was another very long pause and then he quietly said, “Your dad.”

I can’t really describe the feeling that I had.  I kind of let out one of those guttural throat-sobs that just escapes without your meaning it to.  I didn’t care.  I didn’t know.  I couldn’t really process.  I sat back in the car and said some stuff like, “What?  What?  Wait, my dad?  Did you say my dad?  Oh my God.  Oh my God.  Oh my God.”

Mike went on to say that dad had a heart attack.  The priest had called Mike; he was with my mom at the hospital.  Mike asked if I wanted him (Mike) to come get me.  I said yes.  Then no. There was no way I could just sit in the car and wait.  I had to get home as soon as possible so that I could get to the hospital as soon as possible. 

I did my best to be conscious of safe-driving.  I was sobbing and gasping, but I kept forcing myself to take deep breaths and to try to not lose it too much so that I could see and drive and somehow survive this.  I called Rebecca so that I could talk to someone while driving.  So, yeah, sobbing and on the cellphone and in shock…probably not the smartest, but I couldn’t really do much else. 

Kayli and I got home – after what felt like an eternity (really a 10 minute drive).  Mike was pacing in the driveway.  We hugged, I sobbed, and then I came in to call my mom.  I just needed to get there.  She sounded calm-ish on the phone.  She told me to come to the ER and tell them dad’s name and they’d take me back. 

Since I’d gone to the gym, I was sweaty and gross and super hungry.  You’d think these things wouldn’t matter, but I did have the forethought that it would be a long day and if I didn’t at least change I’d be freezing.  I changed, threw on a hat and grabbed a granola bar and two small oranges and ate them while I drove.  I tried not to lose it.  I just needed to get there.  I was shaking the whole time. 

I arrived at the ER and didn’t manage to hold it together at the check-in desk.  I didn’t care.  I was so confused and knew I needed a parking pass or my car would be towed – the stupid, mundane things that you still worry about.  The girls at the desk were great – they’re used to this – got my car model, color and said they’d take care of it.  I was sent back through an automatic door and eventually found the room with my mom…and my dad.


Mom and Dad had attended daily Mass at 8am Tuesday morning just like they always do.  Afterwards, Dad stayed to volunteer with a group of men that do yardwork around the church.  They were going to be working on the priest’s yard at his house across the street.  Dad had told the guys that he was feeling light-headed and thought he might go home.  He took a few steps down the driveway and fell to his knees, basically right in front of the statue of Mary.  I didn’t find out until later that the priest – Father F – was the one who performed CPR on my dad.  Dad  was basically gone right away though.  There’s nothing they could’ve done.  What a way to go!  Having just received Communion and then dying doing the Lord’s work.  We take comfort in that.  As I’ve been saying, “Well, great.  It’s awesome for him…just sucks for the rest of us!”

My mom – thankfully!!!!!! – was with one of her very best friends and just a 10 minute drive away.  They received a call from the church secretary saying, “Therese, Bob collapsed.  Father F is here with him and the aid cars are here.”  Kathy was able to drive my mom, be with my mom; my mom was never alone.  Kathy stayed with us at the hospital all day, making calls to family, arranging friends to meet us with dinner.  Kathy picked up my brother Chris for us.  We are so, unbelievably grateful that she was there.

Really, there are so many things we are thankful for in how this all happened.  My dad’s been spending a lot of time at the Port Ludlow beach house.  He’d go for a few days during the week to get work done. If it’d happened there, who knows how long it would’ve been until we’d found out, gotten to him, etc.  Of course, friends and family have all been unbelievably amazing, and I certainly haven’t forgotten that we’re all going through this together.  My parents have been blessed with a huge group of friends from church, from Port Ludlow, from all over the place.  Everyone else is just as shocked as we are.  Dad was seriously the healthiest person I’ve ever known.  He did everything right.  No one – NO ONE – would’ve put him down as the first to go (of all their siblings/my aunts and uncles, their friends, etc.), that’s for sure. 

We spent the whole day at the hospital.  They moved us – and dad – to a private room.  The hospital staff was phenomenal.  One amazing thing: my dad is an organ donor (just as I want to be and have down on my driver’s license).  Mom spent about 25 minutes talking to someone – who was amazing and kind and patient – about the donor business.  We found out that dad’s corneas will help two different blind people and up to 40 people will benefit from tissue and bone.  He’s the gift that keeps on giving.  As my brother Timothy (the ‘green,’ pro-Earth architect said), “Well, it looks like I had an effect on his recycling habits.”

This is another thing about us – humor.  We’re blessed with the stupid ability to never, ever run out of tears.  There’s an endless reservoir.  Just when my eyeballs start to dry out, they must panic and go, “Oh, we haven’t been washed for a few minutes…let’s turn the water back on.”  But we’ve also laughed.  We’ve needed the comedic relief and it’s also how dad would’ve been.

Timothy and his wife Rebecca were able to drive up and arrive within three hours (record time considering the potential pre-Thanksgiving traffic).  We let my brother Chris, finish out his work day and then Tim went with mom’s friend Kathy to pick him up.  We had no idea how my sweet, gentle (and Special Needs) brother would handle this.  We still don’t really know.  He was great at the hospital –even making some jokes.  The next morning, we went to Mass together and met with the priest afterwards.  We all cried and I saw Chris shed some tears too…that’s a good sign.  I think he does understand what’s going on.

Mike, in the meantime, has been amazing – of course.  He’s been on nonstop kid duty so that I can be with mom and my brothers.  He was the one to tell the boys in the evening what had happened.  I arrived home a little while later.  Matthew, of course, our sensitive one, has cried a lot. Zachary, of course, our more wild-animal/resilient one has been tough.  That night, like most nights, we read a saint story with them.  Matthew said, “Well, someday there will be a story of Saint D-dad.”  (That’s how he could say “Grandad” when he was little and the name stuck ever since.)

On Thanksgiving morning, we went to Mass with the family.  Kayliana turned around to the lady behind us and said, “D-dad is gone…in heaven.  With Jesus.  He’s very fragile.”  I don’t get the fragile part so much, but if anyone should talk about being fragile, it’s Kayli. 

After a quite nice Thanksgiving – with laughter and tears – we got home late and went to bed.  At 3am Kayli woke up crying.  Mike went in and saw that she had her left arm pinned underneath her.  He thought it must’ve fallen asleep and was tingly-hurting.  He gently pulled it out from under her and she freaked out, crying in pain.  A year ago, August, we’d gone through the nursemaid/dislocated elbow thing with her, but that was her right arm, and she was bending her left elbow so we knew it wasn’t that.  She was pointing to her wrist.  After not long though she fell asleep and we figured it must’ve just been tingling or something.  However, she woke up screaming yesterday morning and wouldn’t move her arm.  I ended up taking her to the doctor where they did XRays.  The doctor – despite not really seeing anything too clear on the film – is convinced that she likely has a fractured elbow.  She’s now in a splint and sling  I  take her Monday morning to see the Children’s Hospital Orthopedic people for more Xrays and possibly a cast.  ‘Cuz, you know, we don’t have anything else going on.  L Poor thing. 

All, I’ve been able to say about all of this is, “Surreal.”  At least ten times a day, I think or say, “It’s just so surreal.”  It’s a weird bad dream from which I’ve yet to awaken.  Through all of it, though, I take so much comfort in our Catholic faith.  Catholics ROCK death.  We have so many beliefs and traditions that help the living cope with the dead and I don’t know what I’d do without them.  The funeral will be Wed. Dec. 11th, so we’re busy getting ready for that.  All the while, shaking our heads and thinking, “This is just surreal.”

I put this picture up on my facebook page.  It’s one of my favorites.  When I took dad camping with me and the kids this August (a trip, I’m extra thankful for now), he helped the boys construct this ridiculous ‘rope swing’ (in the hopes that they would stop bickering and driving us bonkers.  It sorta worked).  But really, the best thing I got out of it was this photo.  A couple of weeks later, I gave dad this picture in a frame with the caption, “CAMPING: it makes you feel like a kid again!”  The picture is still on his desk.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Our (almost!) three year old!

I’ve been tired.  Pretty pooped.  Kayliana (and Matthew) have had a nasty cough-cold situation for four plus weeks now.  Kayli started hacking everynight between 11pm-1am-ish.  Like clockwork.  We finally slept through the night Sunday and Monday.  It was amazing.  When you’re having interrupted sleep, finally slumbering for hours is the most magical thing ever. Then last night/this morning it was Matthew – nasty-coughing at 4:00am.  I was supposed to go for a run at 6 and therefore my alarm was going to go off at 5:30.  Needless-to-say, I didn’t quite make it up (after finally falling back asleep at 5:20). Anyway, I’ve been a little tired, but that’s not going to stop me from enjoying this week and celebrating our sweet little girl who will turn THREE on Friday!
I’m extra excited for her birthday this year.  See, November happens to also be Adoption Awareness Month.  On Saturday, we will be meeting up with Kayli’s birth mom, Mia, at the celebration day that the adoption agency hosts every November.  We’ve never been able to attend before.  They have a professional photographer providing free family portraits, face painting (for after the photoshoot, I assume!), live music, treats, etc.  It’ll be such a fun way to celebrate Kayliana and WITH her birth mom!
At (almost) three years old, there are things that I want to remember about Kayli at this age:
-  Since her first giggles at six weeks old, Kayli STILL gets the hiccups after a serious belly laugh.
- Kayliana is very complimentary.  She told my mom last week, “Grandma, I like your pretty yellow hair.”  She yelled across the street to a woman walking her dogs: “I sure like your tiny little dogs!”
-Kayliana is pretty much 100% potty-trained now.  Woohoo!  She picked out cupcake/cake-themed underwear at the store.
- She is NOT shy.  She likes to talk to people in the line at the grocery store and almost always includes the tidbit: “I’m getting bigger, and I’ll have gum like my Matthew and Zach!”
-Kayli is often the first to say, “I love you” and it melts my heart everytime.
- Kayliana frequently uses expressive adjectives.  For example, she recently said, “These pajamas are so wonderful.”  She also uses the word “thunderous” – we’re still not quite sure exactly what she means by this but it’s usually positive.
- Kayli still can throw seriously impressive (and creative) tantrums.  I find myself having to say things like, “Don’t angrily drool, Kayli!”
- She’s getting more and more into pretend, imaginary play.  Last night at bedtime, she gasped, hopped out of bed and scooped an (invisible) “baby giraffe” that was apparently perched on my foot.  She ever so gently, cradled it against her and put it in a box on her book shelf. She made me check on the baby giraffe one last time before leaving her room.  I assured her it was sound asleep and she didn’t need to get out of bed to see for herself.
- Kayli sings along with EVERY song despite rarely knowing the words. 
- She’s gotten to be a bit of a picky eater and would choose fruit over almost anything else…except maybe lollipops and Snickers.
-Right now, for her birthday Kayli will say she wants a “chocolate one.” (Cake – that’s my girl).  And if you ask her what she wants for Christmas, her current answer is, “Halloween candy.”
- Kayli loves wearing her princess dresses and when she does she calls me “Mommy Tiana Princess” (her – and my – favorite Disney princess).
-Kayliana is a crazy, active girl who we have to tell MANY times a day to stop climbing and jumping on the furniture.  We also, still have MANY near misses due to her active-nature and clumsiness.  Thankfully we haven’t needed to go in for stitches since her two days in a row in August.
- Kayli absolutely adores her big brothers and, despite bugging them often, they, thankfully, still find her more cute than annoying.
-Every week at church, she shows our priest, Father Todd, any new boo-boo’s or bandaids that she’s sporting.  This began the Sunday after her stitches when Father Todd, ironically, had also needed stitches that week.  They have quite the bond apparently.
-Without fail, even when she’s driving me bananas, I can’t believe the gift that Kayliana is to our family.


Thursday, October 24, 2013

Dream Walk

What needs to happen: is I need to not freak out.  I started sort of freaking out – about this going back to school business.  I was freaking about big things like: how will I manage to do this?  Can I really learn and master college math when Math is my sworn enemy, my arch-nemesis, the ultimate evil?!  Why would I leave Kayli to do my student teaching during HER last few years at home before she’s in school full-day?  (This one was REALLY upsetting me).  But I also started freaking about some smaller things (but still realistic issues): If we’re both working full-day, how do I stay on top of the laundry (which even now as a ‘stay at home’ mom consumes many hours of my days)?  How will we get healthy dinners made?  (Again, now as a mostly at home parent, I’m able to spend some of my time – typically earlier in the day – doing at least some dinner prep to make our afterschool/homework/dinner/evening time less chaotic and stressful.)  How will I survive without my weekly Tuesday morning Spin class at the gym?! A class that I’ve attended for six years now!  Needless-to-say, I was starting to freak out. 

In the end, I don’t have answers (yet) to these questions, though I did realize that it’s okay for me to just SLOW DOWN.  I will have MANY years when Kayli is in school.  That day is coming, it’s just not here yet.  And I don’t want to be there yet.  I want to enjoy these last couple of years with her at home.  (Next year, she’ll do two half-days of preschool; the following year she’ll do 3-4 half days, the school year after THAT, 2016-17, is when she’ll start Kindergarten).  So, for today anyway, I am NOT freaking out; and we had a wonderful day.  Kayliana helped me make muffins and pumpkin smoothies.  We played with my felt board stuff from music class.  We had a mini-dance party.  I did about 35 minutes of arms/abs P90x while she watched a PBS cartoon. (Yes, I’m trying to defend her watching of TV mid-day).  Then, I decided to do that thing that I actually have been looking forward to for YEARS.

When we bought our first house (in 2002), we were told that the empty lot at the bottom of the hill (about two blocks away) would eventually be the location of our city library.  I couldn’t wait!  I dreamt about walking the kids down for storytime (and the inevidable schlep back up the hill with the wagon full of books).  Well, my dream didn’t EXACTLY work out as I’d imagined.  They didn’t build the library for a while…like a long while.  The doors didn’t open until December 2012 (slightly off from their goal of 2008).  We moved away in May 2012.  We only moved two miles east, but still!  So, while we’ve still benefitted immensely from the new library, my dreams of walking down and back never came to fruition…until today. 

Let me paint the picture:  we now live two miles (exactly) from our old house/the library/our little downtown area.  But these aren’t just two miles – these are two miles with an elevation change of 400 feet.  Our house is perched at 800 feet.  Downtown is at 400 feet.  These numbers don’t really mean anything to me…until I walk out the front door for a run…or load Kayli in the stroller, throw on my empty backpack and fill it with books at the library and a few essentials from the grocery store and head back home.  Then the numbers mean something to me.  Needless-to-say:  Downhill the whole way there and then up hill the whole way back. 

To further illustrate the scene for this hike: it’s been really, really super foggy in the Seattle area lately.  For some reason last year, when we had a foggy spell, it kind of weirded me out.  I felt a little claustrophobic driving down the street or walking to the school bus stop and not being able to see very far ahead of me.  This year, I LOVE it.  Huh! Go figure.

 Let me wax poetic for you (on you?) a moment. (I’ve never liked this expression: wax poetic. I know it has to do with the kind of wax like a ‘waxing’ and not ‘waning’ moon, but it just makes me think: Am I putting poetic wax ON you?  Anyway, here goes).  As Kayli and I descended through the fog – huge maple leaves crunching under the strollers’ tires – we noticed the shimmering spiderwebs bedazzled in dew like millions of tiny chandeliers adorning the trees.  (See, I told you I was gonna get my poetic on!)  The leaves were fifty shades of not gray.  Every bright color conceivable hung on the trees.  We went down the steepest part of our neighborhood hill.  I looked to my left and saw a very life-like statue of a young buck – antlers and everything.  There are tons of deer in our neighborhood (we back to an enormous state park.  I’ve also experienced one bear sighting if you’ll recall), so I honestly thought that this statue was to scare actual, real deer away from the plants and garden of these homeowners.  Kayli and I slowly continued by the house and then I saw another deer statue – but then this one moved.  OK, I sound like a moron, because we do see deer frequently, but honestly, I watched the buck for quite a while and it didn’t twitch at all; I couldn’t even see it breathing and we were pretty darn close to it!  So, as soon as this other deer moves, I look back at the buck and watch in awe as it majestically stands up…and then starts to slowly saunter towards us.  I quickened my pace a tad and we continued down the hill. Where, at the side of the next house, I spy two more bucks, a doe and a still youngish looking fawn.

Beautiful!  The fog.  The intense fall colors.  The crisp air.  It really was breath-taking.  (And, seriously, climbing that 400 feet back up to home, literally took my breath away).  As I was finally nearing the end of our ascent, another (or one of the previous) bucks and a doe go leaping around the yard about ten feet to the left of where I was. I could hear the sound of their hooves as they crunched through the leaves bounding so effortlessly into the misty fog.

 All I could think was: seriously, are we in Narnia?!  This is amazing.  And for now, anyway, I am not freaking out.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

BIG decision(s)

I sincerely apologize that I’ve left you wondering.  I’m sure you’ve lost sleep since my last post – tossing and turning with the unknown verdict: Will she or will she not cut my hair?  Will she really commit to growing it out in order to donate 8 inches for Cancer patient wig making?  Well, fear not, I’m here now with an answer.


Away she grows!  I’ve decided – and you’ve heard it hear first (or from my mouth if you’ve been blessed as a person with whom I’ve discussed my hair in deep detail) – that for the next 1.5-2 years I’ll grow my hair.  I’m also going to get Kayliana a good trim in the next few weeks and grow hers as well.  She has such gorgeous hair and I think it’s a pretty amazing thought that a little girl could help someone in need in that way as well.  (Obviously she doesn’t really ‘get’ the plan, but oh well.  Plus, it’ll sure save us both on hair cut costs!)


So, a big decision has been made, oh, and another maybe just slightly more significant and life-changing one as well: I’ve decided to go back to school.  WHA?!  I know, right?! I really need to finally buckle down and get my teaching certificate.  That’s right, I’ve taught without for years now – I’m an illegal teacher! (Well, not actually, just a non-certified one).  Having my certificate will give me the ability to – once the kids are all in school full-time – sub occasionally and then eventually should it become necessary or desired I could teach full-time in a public school.  Ideally I will also – later down the road – get my Music endorsement.  The actual program that I’m looking at is on-line and typically only takes a year and a half.  I, however, need to do some Pre-Req work before I can even apply.  Plus, the last term is the full time 12 week student teaching bit, and I really don’t want to do full-day work until Kayli is in school full-day…which isn’t for a few years yet!


The part that freaks me out the most is MATH.  Math is the enemy.  I’ve bragged and boasted for years now on how I managed to graduate from the University of Washington without ever having to step foot in a math class.  Actually, I even worked it so I only had to take three years of math in high school.  I’ve not been in a mathematics course in SIXTEEN YEARS.  I really did think that I would just relearn math along with my children.  So far, that’s worked pretty well and I’ve been able to keep up with Matthew’s 4th grade load!  However, it’s going to take a little more than that to get my Post Bacc in Elementary Education.  I have to have two college level math classes.  Initially, this thought to me sounded so awful, I’d rather have someone slowly spork out my eyeballs.  However, I’m actually starting to warm up to the idea.  I even spent an hour last night doing some math review and practice problems.  I’d like to say, “Thank goodness! It wasn’t nearly as hard as I thought it’d be and I’ll be just fine!”  But no, it was hard and I’m embarrassingly rusty/inept. BUT, I do feel more ready and excited with the prospect of really committing myself to this whole plan. 


I’ve teeter-tottered back and forth the last few days (while looking into the program and going back to school in general).  I’ve gone from – eh! It’ll be a piece of cake! To Holy Crap! I can’t even do basic math, what if I can’t even get in??!  I mean, not only will I have to brush up on math in order to be ready for taking college level courses, but I have to actually pass two different assessment exams that both have math sections.  I’ve kind of freaked out.  I’m still kind of freaking out.  And yet…I think I can do it.  I know I can do it.  I have yet to not do something that I’ve really set my mind to.  (Now, we’ll just see if I can actually grow my hair as well.  It’s going to be a busy few years!)