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Friday, December 19, 2014

Introducing: www.littleditties.us !

So, we’ve had a little project that we’ve been working on.  Remember post-Halloween when I might have implied that I was a little more into being Snow White than is normal?  It wasn’t just a standard Halloween-costume wearing night for me.  It turned into a game-changer…or possible career-changer (or adder on thingy or something).  In a nutshell: I AM going to be a Princess when I grow up!  Mike and I have been working on getting my website ready to be released to the world. 

Every few years, we’ve looked into starting a website for my music class business – primarily so that I could accept on-line payments.  However, dumb website-squatter peeps have been squatting on littleditties.com and wanted nearly $2000 for the domain.  Forget it.  We decided – because of my increased number of students and my goal to branch out to the princess market (especially for birthday parties) – to go with www.littleditties.us .  It’s a work-in-progress.  Let me know what you think – I’d love feedback!  jenny@littleditties.us We still need to add some features and details (like pictures for my other princess characters), but it’s pretty exciting (and also slightly terrifying)! 

I have my first character party scheduled for January 31st – it’s actually a custom character!  For my dear book club friend Kendra’s daughter’s birthday party, I’ll be Crysta, the scantily clad fairy from the movie Fern Gully.  Never fear, there will be no mid-drift baring for me!  I found a super cute one-shoulder (short-ish, but not TOO short) red dress that’ll work. 

I’ve been busily collecting my other princess paraphernalia as well.  Probably most important of all (and likely to be the bread and butter of the princess biz) is Elsa, the Frozen queen (though I have to be careful when advertising since she’s a licensed character).  Did you notice how about 98% of girls ages 8 and under were Elsa this Halloween?  (Our own little princess asked Santa for an Elsa dress and wig for Christmas!  Then again, she probably feels weirdly left out seeing as her mom has them!)  I have a feeling Elsa will be my money maker.  (Which is a little bit of a bummer since she’s my character that will be the trickiest to pull off – the dress, the wig, etc.) After extensively researching other Elsa’s in the greater Seattle area, I’ve learned that they are all pretty much booked through March already.  I still need to find good Elsa shoes and get my dress altered a little, but I’m fairly ready to go.  But holy poop, it’s frustrating that – of all the Disney princess songs out there – Let it Go – is by far one of the most challenging.  Let’s just saying, I’ve been practicing it A LOT and every Martin knows every word (though most Martins wouldn’t admit it).


I’m trying to take my time really putting it all there – I haven’t advertised with my preschools yet – as we’re not quite ready to launch on-line payment.  I know once word gets out, I really need to be ready to go.  I plan on donating a party (or two) to our school auction which is coming up in a few months.  It’s exciting but also scary and then, let’s face it, it’s a little bigger than just adding to my existing business.  I’ve not forgotten that dad – months before he died – wanted me to go back to school for my masters so that I could teach full-time in a public school (for the purpose of job security and long-term retirement planning).  I’m well aware that Bob would not be pro-my princess plan.  But, for now, with our kids being the ages they are and (honestly, financially) it makes more sense for me to do this.  And I want to do this – at least give it a shot.  I figure I probably only have a few princess years in me anyway as no little girl wants a middle-aged wrinkly princess singing and dancing at her party, so I better give it a-go now or it’ll never happen.  Plus, it gives me motivation to (get in and) stay in-shape.  (Though with holiday sweets and treats, I need to start doing a better job!) Sad, but true, there ain’t no chunky princesses out there!  Hmmm, Disney, maybe it’s time…they’ve had princesses of different races, is it time for a plus-sized princess?!  

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Our Best Story

Something’s been very cool since Kayliana turned four – she’s been asking a lot of questions about being adopted.  Last week, when we were driving to swim lessons, she asked me, “Where was I before I was here?”  I wasn’t entirely sure that I understood her question, but I went with it.  I told her some details about how she came to be.  I won’t lie, I may have told her story in a way slightly similar to the birth of Christ – listen, I’m not saying she’s the Messiah, but she’s pretty dang special.

I told her that there was a family – a Mike and Jenny and a Matthew and Zachary – and they heard God tell them that their family needed a little girl.  Meanwhile, there was a young woman named Mia, who found herself with child.  She so loved that child (and God so loved that family) that God told Mia that little baby would be the baby for this family…

“Daddy and I couldn’t wait to meet you.  We went to the hospital when you were two days old.  We got to see you for the first time.  We loved you so much right away, but we actually loved you before you were even born.  Before Birth Mom Mia chose us to be your family, we loved our baby girl.  When Birth Mom Mia put you in my arms…” 

This is Kayli’s favorite part of the story and she will tell anyone interested.  She took over and said, “When Birth Mom Mia put me in mommy’s arms I FIRST TOOTED!!!”  And then she laughs and laughs.  Yep, ‘tis true.  The first thing Kayliana did was pass gas the moment I held her…she’s been full of surprises ever since.


I went on to tell Kayli how we put her in her car seat and drove to the bus stop.  We picked up Matthew from school in the afternoon.  It was a super rainy day and everyone at the bus stop had umbrellas and they were all crowding around to see our new baby girl.  Matthew got in the van and looked at his new baby sister and just grinned from ear-to-ear.  


A little while after we got home, Grandma and D-dad came to see their new baby granddaughter and they had Big Brother Zachary with them.  Zach took one look at Kayli and just started laughing and laughing and laughing.  He couldn’t believe that the baby girl we’d prayed about for so long was finally here.



That night, the boys sat in the big cozy rocking chair (the one still in her room).  They rocked her and sang a lullaby and then Matthew said the thing that I’ll never ever forget, “I like Kayliana MORE than love.  Like I don’t even know the word for it.”


I love this story.  I love the fact that now Kayliana can really start to (try to) understand how amazing it is.  I love her favorite part and that she loves telling it to people.  And believe me, if and when you see her and you want to hear what she did when Birth Mom Mia first put her in Mommy’s arms, she’ll be SO happy to tell you!

Saturday, November 29, 2014

The Cemetery

Well, we buried dad yesterday – did the interment of his ashes at Tahoma National Veteran’s Cemetery.  It was a dark and stormy day – no exaggeration – it absolutely POURED and the wind cut right through you.  Mom made a comment that we’d camped in worse weather than yesterday’s.  Poor dad, we always gave him such a hard time about the terrible camping weather we so often got stuck in – as if it was his fault.

It was a beautiful service – I was deeply touched by the fact that most of the honor guard and people who work at the cemetery are retired veterans and volunteers.  They saluted our cars as we drove to the shelter for the service.  The trumpeter played America the Beautiful and, of course, Taps, and one other song though I can’t remember what it was.  Deacon Jack and Father N were there and both spoke.  One of the Veterans gave our kids some of the empty shell casings from the Rifle Salute which was very cool.  Several of mom’s and dad’s close friends braved the elements to join us and a few came to mom’s afterwards for lunch provided by my brother and sister-in-law.

We got through it.  Kind of like the last year.  People have said that doing the cemetery service would be “good” and would bring me “closure.”  I don’t love that – I don’t see how it can bring closure – though, yes, I am thankful that there’s a place where we can go to visit dad.  There have been a couple of places during this last year that have been places like that.  I can’t drive by Father F’s house across the street from my parents’ parish without staring at the spot where my dad fell on his knees and died.  The Port Ludlow beach house was the other place where I felt so close to dad and his spirit.  Man, he loved it there. Maybe the Cemetery will bring comfort, who knows; maybe it will even bring closure.  All I know is there was such finality in their taking his urn away that I didn’t love.  That urn stayed with mom for the last year, it was always there and sure, yeah, it wasn’t DAD, but it was a very visible reminder of his presence and now that’s gone.

We came home yesterday after the cemetery and lunch and attempted to start our traditional day-after-Thankgsiving festivities: “Christmas Decorating Day.”  It was a joke.  What a flop.  What a lame-ass attempt to pretend we hadn’t actually spent the morning doing something VERY unfestive.  I laid down and took a short nap – hoping that would help.  I was an emotional hot-mess.  Zachary was cranky and had a total meltdown.  Kayli had a total meltdown.  Matthew saw their meltdowns and had a meltdown.  Mike was cranky.  We were a disaster.  We managed to rally and put up some of the decorations, but eventually gave up and watched Home Alone hoping that maybe the first Christmas movie of the season would lift our spirits.  It helped a little.  We went to bed telling ourselves today was a new day.  We would wake up ready to embrace the spirit of the season.

We woke up to a soft layer of snow on the ground and more flurries floating down.  Perfect for Christmas Decorating Day round 2.  Perfect for lifting our seasonal-spirits.     











Wednesday, November 26, 2014

November 26th

It was today.  It was today – November 26th.  I’ve relived every moment of that day so many times during the past year.  I’ve tried to really put myself there – for whatever reason, while it was awful – I also find some comfort in going back to when the shock and pain was so raw; it makes today’s pain still seem valid and reasonable.

I have prepared for today (as much as one can) – for the one year anniversary of dad’s death – to be really hard.  People have warned me.  What I was not at all prepared for is that maybe it’s not the number – 26, November 26th – maybe it’s more the day, as in ‘the Tuesday before Thanksgiving.’  Yesterday hit me like a ton of bricks.  It was Tuesday last year.  I’m such a creature of habit; I always go to my gym for spin class on Tuesdays.  Despite having a cold right now (that will not end and that I’ve had for 2 weeks already!), I knew that going to spin would be cathartic and good – it always is. 

I walked into the spin room and stopped abruptly.  Setting up in the front of the room was not my dear wonderful usual instructor (and friend) Heather – it was Laurie.  (Laurie teaches evening classes but on the very rare occasion subs for morning ones).  In that moment, I’m immediately transported to the last class I had with Laurie which was, of course, November 26th. (Apparently she has a regular gig teaching the Tuesday before Thanksgiving). The last time I took her class, I had no idea the news that Mike would be delivering to me over the phone when I was done with that class.  But walking into that room and seeing her and realizing all that…well, I was done.  A friend in class saw me just standing there and asked if I was OK.  I shook my head, explained the situation and said, “I can’t be here.  I just can’t do this.” I grabbed my stuff and went to the locker room before I could cause too much of a scene.

The rest of the day was just sorta downhill from there.  I gave into it, I embraced the pain.  I was a hot mess.

So, I’m hoping that maybe yesterday was the worst of it.  But who knows…


I heard, yesterday morning, for the first time this season, the line that will never be the same to me ever again: “Fall on your knees and hear the angel voices…”  And this morning, the quote at the beginning of my daily meditation (For Working Through Grief), “So he passed over, and all the trumpets sounded for him on the other side,” – John Bunyan.  There seems to be a theme: angelic choirs and orchestras just totally rocked out when dad arrived.  I’m sure they’re still jamming now.  I’m sure it’s amazing.  But I sure just wish he was still here.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Growing up

You know it’s coming – it’s happening all of the time – but it still sneaks up on you.  They grow up.  Each of our three children did a little extra growing up this past week and, quite frankly, I’m not a huge fan.  Sure, you’re excited when they reach a new maturity, when they know more stuff, can do more things on their own, but still.  I’m. Not. Ready.

Kayliana turned four on Saturday 4!  How is THAT possible?  Our little baby girl is a full-on KID.  She’ll tell ya, too.  She’s told nearly everyone we’ve interacted with, “I’m four!”  And, if they’re lucky she’ll sometimes add this anecdote that I – maybe made the mistake and – told her recently. “When birth mom Mia, put me in mommy’s arms for the first time, I TOOTED!”  (True story).

We celebrated Kayli’s birthday with an ocean/under the sea-themed music party.  I did a bunch of my music class/party fun – singing, dancing, instruments, scarves, parachute and bubbles.  It was good times!

Two children who were not present for most of the music mania were our two eldest – Matthew is just way too cool (and shy) to be seen shaking shakers and dancing with scarves.  Zachary, on the other hand, watched from upstairs – pretending to mock us, but secretly loving it and just couldn’t resist joining us for the bubbles at the end.

So, they’re all growing up, but yesterday, I had one of the moments that I’ve been dreading more than any other moment in parenting growing-up kiddos. 

Matthew and I had ‘The Talk.’

Now, perhaps you’ll recall we had ‘The Talk’ – the sex/where-do-babies-come-from version a couple of summers ago.  So, this was a different The Talk – the one I dreaded more than any other.

Matthew asked about Santa.  I mean, he’s asked about Santa before, but I was able to pull it off, but he recently lost his last tooth and point blank asked me, “You’re the Tooth Fairy, aren’t you?”  I thought for sure that would be the gate-way talk to Santa, but he left it at just knowing the truth about the Tooth Fairy.  But, last night, he just had to know.

I said all the right stuff, but the whole time my heart was breaking so much.  Why?!  Why did it have to be right before Christmas?  I wanted one last Christmas knowing that all three of our kids are still innocent, wide-eyed believers.  I was so sad, but held it together while Matthew fell apart and cried over his lost childhood.  (I’m not exaggerating, he cried, “I don’t want to grow up.  I don’t want to know stuff.  I wish I’d never asked.”  I wished he hadn’t either). 

But here’s the thing, I feel like, as Catholics, we kind of extra rock Santa.  I mean, he is Saint Nicholas.  Santa’s Catholic, for crying out loud!

I explained how we keep the magic of Santa alive by continuing the tradition just as the generations before us did.  He’s now a part of Saint Nicholas’ work – spreading joy at Christmas to celebrate Jesus’ birthday – and how that means keeping the secret and encouraging the magic.  (And obviously, with two younger siblings and lots of younger friends, I VERY MUCH STRESSED not sharing this knowledge with anyone.  He argued that I wanted him to lie, and I explained that no, it’s not a lie saying, “Yes, I believe in Santa” or “Yes, Santa is real” because the spirit of it, the magic of it is.) 

I think I rocked the talk.  But I hated every second of it and it was so stinkin’ sucky.  I hope to, somehow, make this Christmas even more magical for Matthew…’cuz otherwise it’s just sucky.  (I mean, I cried two years ago when talking about how bummed I am that Santa isn’t an actual live person).  Matthew even said, “What’s the point in even asking for anything?  Now, I know it’s you guys and not Santa and some of the stuff costs lots of money!”

I appreciated his sentiment on this one – especially in light of our (just the day before) receiving Kayliana’s $1500 Childrens’ Hospital ER bill.  Christmas might not be too prolific for us – and really, we don’t want or need tons of stuff, but there will still be ways to make it magical.  Any ideas?!

A little while post-talk, Zach and Kayli had rejoined us downstairs and Matthew even practiced ‘walkin’ the walk and talkin’ the talk’ – we started asking Kayli about what she’s going to ask Santa for this Christmas and if she’s so excited to get to go see him.  I demonstrated how it’s easy enough to talk about Santa even being ‘in on it.’  He rocked the talk.  He’s growing up.  But man, it’s still sucky.

So, while Matthew’s doing that kind of growing up, Zachary had a big first yesterday as well.  Last night, we got a phone call from his sweet little friend Alexis.  She was worried about him because he wasn’t at school yesterday (due to his cold).  As I handed the phone off to him, he picked it up and shyly said, “Hi,” and proceeded to turn beat red.  Alexis did most of the talking – as us ladies tend to do. 

After a long pause (when I assume Alexis is talking his ear off), Zachary looks at me and in a loud whisper says, “This is SO super awkward. Neither of us are talking!”  I nearly died.  I suggested he ask how her day was and the conversation picked back up for a bit.

I’d just left the room when I heard Zach say, “Soooo, we’ve been on the phone for a while now, are we don’t yet?”  He signed off and handed me the phone shaking his head like, ‘that was so weird.’  I chatted with Alexis’ mom for a bit – who I’ve never met.  She sounds wonderful and we had a good laugh about their conversation.

My sweet, sweet kids – all of them so different – growing up.

Last night at bedtime, it’s like Matthew (just as I do) wanted to keep fighting for his youth.  He asked me to come in his room and sing him a lullaby. 


I managed to not cry…until afterwards.

Thursday, November 06, 2014

My plan

I’ve decided something.  I’m actually going to wait to listen to Christmas music until the day after Thanksgiving this year…I’m going to try anyway.  The funny thing is that this is the ‘rule’ I’m supposed to follow (gently put into place by Mike and vigorously policed by Zachary who just doesn’t appreciate my intense love for all things Christmas.)  The thing is, this year, more than any other, I probably could really use the joy and uplifting power of Christmas music pre-Thanksgiving, but I’m hoping it will work another way.  I want to use it as an award – a light at the end of the tunnel – once I’ve gotten through the most difficult days.  I also don’t want the music to be tainted – if you will – by all the other events and emotions that I’ll have going on.

The day before Thanksgiving will be the one year Anniversary of dad dying.  Then there’s Thanksgiving.  And then there’s the day after Thanksgiving which, in the Martin home, is “Christmas Decorating Day.”  Well, that may have to wait this year (at least until later in the day).  At 10:30am on Friday, November 28th, we will be at the Veteran’s Cemetery doing the interment of dad’s cremains.  (I’m mad that I even know these terms now.)  The military honor guard will play Taps and perform a rifle salute.  The Air Force honor guard will also be there.  I know it will be beautiful and moving, but holy moly, I’m dreading it.


Thus the reward of Christmas-magic as soon as it’s done.  I don’t know if this plan of mine works.  I mean, quite frankly, just thinking about all of it makes me want to run straight to my Nat King Cole Christmas music and wrap myself in it like a cozy blanket and not leave for the next three weeks…so we’ll see.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

After the ER, I find my true calling...

We’d really had hopes that 2014 could be ER/medical emergency free.  Bummer.  After taking Kayli to the doctor Thursday for her arm injury, we waited through a rough night and morning.  We were supposed to wait for the Radiologist to call Friday morning with results.  I waited until 10:30 and called them.  Kayliana was in the worst pain I've ever seen her in -- worse than when she broke her left arm last November.  

The doctor said the Radiologist couldn't see a fracture either, but since Kayli was in so much pain, we should head to the ER at Seattle Childrens' Hospital.  We spent all Friday afternoon there.  They did more xRays ($$$$ -erg) and were finally told that she actually had dislocated her elbow.  (Which we’d talked to the doctor about the night before but she was pretty quick to rule it out saying Kayli was 'too old' to still have nursemaid elbow...even though we pointed out that she'd had it for that same arm.)  Totally frustrating!  We’re obviously relieved that it wasn't broken and she didn't need a cast again but sure wish that it had been figured out Thursday night -- would've saved tons of time, money and SO much pain.

In the ER, we had a Resident and then his Attending Physician.  After the xRays were done, I saw them out in the hall practicing.  The Physician was showing the Resident how to pop an elbow back in.  It wasn’t very reassuring and, unfortunately, when he tried on Kayli he failed miserably.  I could even tell (through all her screaming) that it hadn’t popped back in.  The poor thing (mostly Kayli, but I did feel sorry for the Resident too).  The other doctor, reached down and with a quick flick of his wrist, popped her arm back in.  It was awful. The Resident left the room hanging his head in shame and defeat.

Once her arm was popped back, Kayli was ripping around the ER (after hours of not moving she had a wee bit of extra energy built up.)  I thought she might pop something else out.  The doctor told me, “Well, we’re here all the time if you ever need to come back to get that arm popped back in.”

I said, “Thanks, you’ve been great and all.  But I never want to see you ever again.”

Thankfully, after that crazy day, we were able to go to the school Costume Carnival later that night.  Kayliana was all ready to go in her Ninja girl costume, but she took one look at me and decided to go with Snow White instead (so that she, too, could have red lipstick.)  I’ll admit that being Snow White in a packed gymnasium full of kids – and nearly half of them little girls (and about 90% of those sporting princess gowns) – was pretty fun.  Dreams do come true!  I had several little girls come up and just stare at me in awe.  One mom apologized and said, “We just went to Disneyland, so she’s pretty sure you’re the real deal.”  Um, I am the real deal.  Dreams do come true!  I got to be Snow White for the evening and, quite honestly, it’s a look I may rock more often!


Mom of the year -- I had to go to four stores to find Zachary a werewolf mask.  He loved being incognito.  But something's going on with that wolf -- it sheds fur everywhere.

 I have to say, I'm quite proud of how Mike's costume turned out.  All I did was buy  t-shirt at Goodwill and cut the sleeves off -- add a tablecloth, pin, my belt and voila! I gots me a Prince!
 Twinsies!

Friday, October 24, 2014

More Crap for the Crapalanche

I now give you permission to point and laugh.  (I’ll join in.)  Was my last post – 3 days ago, titled “Crapalanche” – for real?  Did we all love how I spent a paragraph complaining about the annoying little things that I’ve been dealing with?  (Things like cancelled credit cards. Wah, poor thing.)  I said my go-to lines of late: “I just want things to get easier” and “I’m waiting for things to settle down, for life to get a little less complicated.”  I didn’t even mention that we’ve been having car problems…that we realized we hadn’t gotten the oil changed in the minivan in WELL over a year (like possibly two years) and – gasp! Shocker! – that’s now causing car issues.  So, whatever, a bunch of administrative annoyingness and car issues.  Why was I complaining?!

Kayliana may have broken her arm yesterday…again…her other arm.  Her right arm (the one to which over two years ago she dislocated her elbow twice in three days).  Last year – four days after dad died – she kinda-sorta woke up with a broken left elbow.  They never did entirely figure it out, but we spent 4 weeks after dad died going to go get more torturous (and not exactly cheap) Xrays at Childrens’, just so they could scratch their heads and say, “Well, we think it’s broken, we can’t quite tell though…let’s put a different kind of cast on this week.”  And here we go again.  But, now it seems to be her right elbow—upper arm, we’re not sure…and they’re not either.

The sad, sad irony is that I’d THOUGHT I was keeping her from getting injured.  We’d just had thunder, lightning and hail (ha!  A fitting backdrop to my emotions); maybe that’s what got her all charged up.  Kayli started running around – zooming and slipping in her socks on the hardwood floor.
“Kayliana,” I’d said, “You’re going to fall and get hurt.” (Famous last words.)

A couple minutes later, I say, “Stop running.”

(Meanwhile I’m also helping Zachary with homework and am not totally 100% aware that Kayli continues running.)  Finally, I realize it and say, “You’re not listening.  I said stop running.”  I put her in time-out (she sits on the bottom step.)  Immediately – instead of having the fit that usually accompanies this – she puts on a sweet face and says, “I’m sorry, Mommy.”

I say, “Yeah, awesome.  You should’ve been sorry and stopped the first time.  You have to sit in time-out and then we can talk about how ‘sorry’ you are.”  I set the timer for four minutes and sit back down to 3rd grade math.

Maybe half-way through her time-out, I hear too much noise – she’s hopping, jumping, dancing (a la Ginger Rogers but without the grace and finesse) on the bottom two stairs.  I’m about to go when BOOM – followed by high-pitched scream and then the long pause as she holds her breath before letting out a HUGE sob.  I can tell right away there’s something wrong with her right arm.  She fell off of the step landing on the hardwood floor with all of her weight on her bent arm.

Shit.

They were able to get us in for the very last appointment of the day – 6:20pm.  We dropped the unfed-and-still-needing-homework-to-be-finished boys at my amazing neighbor-friend’s house (where she proceeded to – along with her 3rd grade twin boys and 5th grade boy – feed them and get Matthew ready for his weekly Friday exam.) 

The doctor examined Kayli’s arm – initially ruling out nursemaid’s elbow (the dislocation issue of two years ago).  They then did two xrays – the second one more painful and awful than the first.  (They wanted her arm straightened out with palm up – yeah, there was no way Kayli was going to let her arm be moved like that.)  The result?  Basically the same exact scenario as last November: we see fluid build-up in her elbow, so can’t really see that there’s an obvious break, but we’ll have to wait for the Radiologist to take a look at in the morning.  All I can say is – and Mike agrees – there’s GOT to be a break or something going on.  She is in SO MUCH PAIN.  It’s way worse than last time even.  It’s awful. 

So, we wait for the call – which will probably be: “Nope, everything looks fine.”  To which, I’ll have to put on my mean-mom voice and say, “Everything is NOT fine.  She can’t move her arm and screams in pain when she barely shifts her entire body to try to get comfortable.”  And then we’ll go to Childrens’ and spend WAY more money on a fancier Xray…that might also tell us absolutely nothing. 

It’s a bit of déjà vu, and man, it sure brings up bad memories.  Last time, I remember sitting there in shock when the doctor said, “Well, let’s do more Xrays…how’s next Wednesday?”  And I looked at him and said, “My dad’s funeral is next Wednesday.”  They got us in on Tuesday.

I’m sad and frustrated for so many reasons.  Most of all, because it’s HORRIBLE watching your children suffer and this seems to be the worst we’ve had to see/hear/watch.  Kayliana is a tough cookie but holy crap she’s in pain.  I’m also bummed because we finally felt like she was ready to do more activities – she’s been in swim lessons (back with her favorite, awesome teacher) and gymnastics (for the purpose of working out her wiggles AND learning how to fall correctly)!  If we’re looking at a broken arm both of those things – which she LOVES – will have to be put on hold for a while.  And, I kid you not – it takes swimming twice a week, gymnastics and me taking her for the occasional run to use up her energy for good sleeping at night!  I don’t want to have to stop that stuff (and she won’t either)!  And lastly, I’m frustrated because, well, I was already stressed and feeling like we were getting buried under a crapalanche of too much crap.  Guess I was wrong.  There was more crap to come.

Last night, once we got her settled in bed, I was talking with her about how brave she was getting the Xrays.  Her eyes started to well up with tears.  I said, “It’s OK to be sad and cry though.  That hurts!”


She sniffed and said, “I’m not crying. I’m sweating out of my eyeballs.”

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Crapalanche

Two weeks ago, Mom, Timothy, Chris and I went to Port Ludlow and – with the help of some good friends – emptied out the beach house.  We bid adieu to the place that Dad loved and where he’d spent so much time laboring over the last few years.  A labor of love.  He’d painted every wall, tiled floors, fixed plumbing, built a beautiful stone column on the deck, worked on the roof and filled over 20 truck loads with overgrown vegetation.  When we’d finally taken the last load out of the house, we went over to the condo (which we just listed for sale) and popped the bottle of champagne that’s been waiting for a sold-property celebration for three years.  (Mom and Dad had bought it to celebrate the condo selling…we took that off the market after dad died, listed the house first and their Bellevue condo instead.  After a summer of frustration and dropping prices on both properties WAY too much, both ended up selling and closing within a week at the beginning of October.)

Yes, it’s a relief to have two properties sold.  Yes, it helps…a bit.  There’s still a ridiculous amount of stuff to figure out.  Tax stuff (that I don’t even get at all and try to avoid thinking about since it causes brain-pain).  Then there’s the annoying little stuff – the home phone that we cancelled and yet they’re still charging mom for.  The cable modems that got returned and yet they’re saying they don’t have.  We just got a bill for Dad’s cell phone for the month of September.  We cancelled his phone a while ago.  I didn’t know they got reception in Heaven, but we’re getting charged for it!

I’ve been saying for a while, “I just want things to get easier.”  All the administrative broo-ha-ha from having five properties to manage (the Bellevue condo, the beach house, the Port Ludlow condo, Mom’s new place, Chris’ new apartment).  It’s just too much.  I’ve been so nervous that I’m going to make a huge mistake and royally screw things up.  It all feels way too adult.  It’s way too many utility bills for one person to keep track of.  So, we are down two places.  There are only three properties to manage now.  Yep, only three.  And, sure, it’s gotten a little easier, but it’s continued to feel like a bit a crap-avalanche.  A crapalanche. The minute one big thing closes/settles/eases up a bit, there’s something else.  We get notification that Mom’s credit card (that took 6 months to get) was ‘compromised’ in the Home Depot credit card fraud dealy and they have to cancel it (I kid you not – within two weeks after I’d finally managed to set up so many bills to be autopaid on it to simplify our lives).  Her credit card is finally back – new number, all good, up and running.  We get notification that Chris’ credit card has been compromised.  Here we go again.

I’m the biggest whiner.  The biggest complainer.  Here’s the deal: life is hard, I get that.  I realize that my problems – compared to so many people in the world – well, they’re a joke, really; a walk in the park.  And, honestly, I wouldn’t trade with anyone.  So, at what point, can I just really accept the ‘life is hard business – just work with it’ mentality?  These are the cards we’ve been dealt – play the game without being such a wuss.


I’m waiting.  I’m waiting for things to settle down, for life to get a little less complicated.  People keep telling me that it will, but maybe instead, I should stop waiting and just embrace this new ‘normal.’  It’s a heck of a lot more challenging than my life used to be, but people have said I’m not one for boring.  We’ve always tended to have more drama in our lives than is normal.  Can’t just have a wedding night without a trip to the ER.  Why have a baby at 40 weeks when you can make a more surprising entrance and have a BOY 5 weeks early?!  You know I could go on and on…but – the drama, the excitement, the stress – maybe it’s the only way I know how to do things.  It’s how we roll.  Now I gots to just own it.  

Friday, October 03, 2014

Fall

We’ve sold the first of my mom’s properties – her condo in Bellevue.  This is a good thing.  This is SUCH a relief and will lift an enormous burden off all of our shoulders.  But it’s also bittersweet.  It’s all so bittersweet.  This is how everything is right now.  It was the place where I last saw and spent time with dad.  It was the place where lots of events happened over the last 14 years. (College graduation celebrations, our post-Wedding day brunch – also bittersweet thanks to our Wedding night spent in the ER, it’s where we brought babies to visit Grandma and D-dad, it’s where we threw an amazing surprise birthday party for mom’s 70th, it’s where we went after dad died).

Yesterday, I was driving home from dropping Kayliana off at preschool.  I was kind of just zoning out when, all of a sudden, I became uber aware of my surroundings.  I think it was the combination of sun and the color of the autumn leaves around me.  It also happened to be the same road that I had to drive home on after getting the call from Mike.  I was immediately transported back to that moment, that day.

This year, the changes of fall make me feel just a little ill.  It’s beautiful, but it puts a pit of dread in my stomach. It just means we’re in the season and nearing the inevitable first anniversary of dad’s death.  Every moment causes me, in some way, to think about that.  Well, a year ago when we were putting up our harvest-Halloween decorations, I had no idea what would happen in just a matter of weeks.  I was also all sorts of confused and stressed, fall 2013, with my new (dad-initiated) plan to go back to school and get my Masters.  (A plan that has been completely shelved, put on the back-burning, has a pin in it – you name it.  I feel like, for the last 10 months, I’ve hardly been able to get through a day without falling apart.   I can barely look a week ahead right now without feeling overwhelmed.   Figuring out my future career path is the last thing on my mind.) 

People have already started talking a bit about the holidays.  I saw Christmas trees in a store already.  Normally, this would thrill me to no end (and, of course, it partly does).  But Thanksgiving will be forever tainted.  I’ll never be able to experience it for just Thanksgiving.  It will always bring back memories of last Thanksgiving – reeling and really, still being in shock, from the two days before.

I think I’ve even already blogged about this, and it makes me sad that this has become the tone of my blog, but whatchya-gonna-do, right?  November 26th looms like a dark shadow in front of me.  It’s the day before Thanksgiving this year.  I (selfishly) pre-dread seeing all the happy Thanksgiving posts on Facebook or having to listen to people complain about the stress of the holiday, the family madness, the cooking, the cleaning, the prep-work (even though I will grumble about some of that too). I assume that we’ll probably have Thanksgiving here.  I do think it’s good that we won’t be having it in the same place as last year, but I know it won’t necessarily be any easier.


This is the thing with grief – and a dear friend from Engaged Encounter (who lost her son) – told me: it’s the build-up to the days – the holidays, the anniversaries and birthdays – that’s usually the hardest.  That, and the random days (like today and yesterday) when, for whatever reason, it’s just extra painful.  The hurt is just a little more constantly present.  So, maybe that’s what I’m in now.  The random hard days.  The build-up to the big days.  No matter how you slice it, it sucks; it’s all hard.  Different levels of hard, but all sucky.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

And we're off!

The school year has gotten off to a good though super-frenzy-paced start.  I feel like a switch got flipped and BOOM – life and busyness and all that there is to do is just swirling around us.  The next few weeks, unfortunately, aren’t going to get any tamer.  A couple of upcoming weekends will be spent going to Port Ludlow to pack up and out of the beach house (which has a sale pending).  Very bittersweet.
The kids are in full school stuffs craziness.  They have swim lessons Tuesdays and Thursdays at 5:30 until the 2nd week of October.  I start teaching my music classes (4 classes back-to-back) next Monday.  We’ve been mentoring an engaged couple from church on Wednesdays.  The weekends have been packed with fun activities (but still packed).  The 1st of October, the boys will start a Parkour class (to, ya know, start learning how to become ninja warriors).  Kayli does gymnastics on Wednesday mornings; we go to the gym Tuesday mornings; she has preschool Tuesday and Thursday afternoons.  I’m toying with the idea – once this session is over and the boys are done – of having her do swim lessons Tuesday/Thursday mornings between gym and preschool. The fact is: it takes A LOT of energy to use up all her energy.  Last week, she had swimming Tues/Thurs., gymnastics Wednesday morning and I took her out for a 1.5 mile run Wednesday night evening…with all that she FINALLY started going to bed better.  I just got a new pair of Nike running shoes…for her.
Speaking of running, I feel pretty good that I’m starting to get more of a running routine again.  Without running, I feel weird.  So, basically in addition to everything else we’ve been dealing with, I’ve felt no-running-weird for most of the last nine months.  Unfortunately, getting up to run is just as hard as ever…we’re sleeping like crap.  Zachary is in a bad sleep phase.  He wakes up EVERY SINGLE night – sometimes more than once – and is scared.  He usually can’t totally explain why, he’s just scared.  Some nights he doesn’t even remember getting up.  He typically ends up flying under the covers of our bed and we groggily roll over, not waking up enough to get up, get him up and back to bed.  The fact that we haven’t consistently slept through the night in a couple of months, definitely doesn’t help…well, anything.  BUT I have managed to still get up early most mornings and have gotten out for runs a couple of times a week.  I run with my friend/neighbor Tiffany.  Last week, we heard a coyote howling.  On Monday, we were very startled when the (rather large cousin-of-canines) came crashing through a yard and ran across the street a couple houses ahead of us to the golf course.  A little bit later, he crossed in front of us again heading back to the woods.  Dang, those things are way bigger than I expected!
School is going well(ish) for the boys.  It’s always a transition to get back into the school routine.  Matthew (now 5th grade), for the 2nd year, has a guy teacher, which is pretty exciting.  It’s a funny generalization (but true, I’ve found), that the male teachers are usually the favorites – the ones all the kids and parents want.  And, I have to say, I think, for a boy, its extra cool that Matthew’s gotten dude teachers two years in a row.  Zachary has an adorable young woman for his 3rd grade teacher – one that everyone has raved about – so it appears they’re both in very good hands!
Matthew turned 11 the 3rd day of school. ELEVEN.  And he’s SO freakishly tall – 5 foot 1.5 inches.  ELEVEN and he’s only 2 ½ inches shorter than me!  We celebrated his birthday with a super-packed fun weekend.  We went to the little Newcastle Days celebration at the park – inflatable bouncy houses and obstacle courses, climbing wall, live music, free junk, food vendors, pony rides and petting zoo.  Then the next day, we REALLY went all out and went to the Washington State Fair down in Puyallup.  It was super hot that day and a little bit like Disneyland in that everyone gets all sugar-wired and wound up – yet tired – so you’re doing this very fun (and stupid-expensive!) outing and people tend to get real cranky real quick.  All in all, good family fun times!
Zachary on Butterscotch

Kayliana on Candy


Up, up

and away

A boy and his...bunny

Kayli :)

Our adrenaline junkies ready for the "Extreme Scream."  (Sadly, adrenaline junky #3 -- Kayli -- wasn't big enough) 






Tuesday, September 02, 2014

It was awesome

Well, that’s telling – I just started to type “August” for today’s date.  The summer felt like it was over before it really began.  I knew it would go fast, but WHAT?!  At least, I feel confident in that we succeeded in smooshing as much ‘summer’ into the last full week of summer vacation as we possibly could.  We spent a weekend with our Engaged Encounter friends (more like family) at a big house up on Lake Cavanagh.  We boated.  We drank.  The kids swam.  We roasted marshmallows.  We drank.  We had a sing-along.  We drank.  The kids swam.  We boated.  We drank…it was great, I think. J It was awesome…and hard to admit it was over.

Then, a couple of days later, we drove down to Seaside, Oregon where we stayed with our neighbors/friends Erik and Melissa and their two kids.  We had a wonderful time.  The weather turned out surprisingly good and we filled each minute of every day.  We did the beach and the pool as much as possible.  We rode bikes on the boardwalk and flew kites.  We went to the little aquarium and fed the seals.  We did bumper cars, rode the carousel and played lots of games.  It was awesome…and hard to admit it was over.

On Sunday, after church, we drove to Suncadia for a day at the beautiful vacation home of friends from baseball/the boys’ school.  I’m so mad at myself for not taking pictures, but if I had you would’ve thought I was just posting photos from a travel or home magazine.  Stacey’s and Angela’s vacation house is hands down the most breathtaking home I’ve ever stepped foot in.  Angela designed nearly every aspect of it herself.  I can’t even begin to describe the place.  Just imagine the most beautiful home set in the most breathtaking mountain location you can picture…and you’re almost there.  The entire back wall off the kitchen opens up (via accordion door/wall) to the patio and boasts a panoramic view of forest and mountains.  You feel like – well, you are – sitting on a bluff overlooking God’s glorious creation.  Again, I’m a moron for not having taken pictures, but you wouldn’t have believed them anyway. 

We spent the day with five families from school/baseball – just hanging out.  The kids (and a couple of the dads) swam at the resort pool.  We all talked…and drank…made s’mores.  The kids watched a movie.  It was awesome…and hard to admit it was over.

And, here, we are.  SEPTEMBER.  I take the boys this morning to meet their teachers and see their classrooms.  Tomorrow is the first day of school.  Tomorrow, Kayliana has her first day of gymnastics.  Thursday, Kayli meets her preschool teacher and sees her first ever classroom.  On Friday, Matthew turns ELEVEN.  Next week, swim lessons start back up for all three kids.  A week after, that we start at-home faith formation lessons.  A couple of weeks after that my music classes start back up.  A couple of weeks after that the boys starts a Parkour class (so they can learn to become American Ninja Warriors). A couple of weeks after that it’ll be Christmas and then summer and then the kids will graduate…and their childhoods will be over in a blink of an eye…

It was awesome…and hard to admit it was over.


Flying our kites -- in the lower left hand corner, you can see Mike (blue t-shirt) and Kayli


The kids -- heading to the aquarium





Incredible neighbors and friends -- Erik & Melissa!



Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Stormy Skies


 It’s funny – not at all, actually – how it can still hurt so much sometimes.  I feel like I’m doing alright, but it’s always there and I have to just stop ignoring it and living through the pain and just totally embrace it.  I think about dad in nearly every moment.  Silly things that I just wish I could tell him or that he could see.  I wish he could see Kayli ride her bike.  I wish I could tell him about the boys – and even me! – knee boarding while we were camping.   I want to talk to him about my brother Chris in his very own apartment – and how well he’s done with the huge change.

I also feel guilty for feeling sad.  I know that’s dumb because loss is loss and grief is grief.  But when I hear about tragedy in the world, when I think about how some people lose their loved one in such heart-breaking and tragic ways, I do feel badly for asking the ‘why me? Why him? Why us?’ questions.

My mom told me that a friend of hers from Port Ludlow stopped by to see her new place.  Mom said this friend ‘still can’t really believe it.  He was the healthiest and most active of all their friends.’  “She’s really in shock.”

“Aren’t we all?” I’d said.

Mom’s been so busy – so nonstop since dad died – figuring out managing/hopefully selling properties, taking care of Chris’ needs (filing the required 3 year guardianship report with the court was a completely overwhelming task), moving both Chris and herself.  She hasn’t had a second to really process I don’t think.

Next Tuesday, August 26th would’ve been mom and dad’s 47th wedding anniversary.  I don’t even know how to help her with that one. 

We just celebrated our 13th anniversary on the 11th. Again, these are the moments – the firsts – since dad died; every single event has an undertone of grief for me and it sucks.  I just can’t 100% fully celebrate anything.  But I do my best. 

Rebecca watched the kids for us on the 13th so that we could have a just-us date which was lovely and a much-needed night out. On the 11th, we didn’t have a babysitter so we decided to do something special as a family.  We went to the Newcastle Golf Club for dessert and drinks.  Shortly after we arrived, Zachary handed me a folded piece of paper.  He’d made us a card and brought it with him.  It had our names in a heart and a picture of our family holding hands. 

We watched and listened to the bagpiper.  As he played ‘Amazing Grace,’ the sun turned into a glowing ball of red and fell into the clouds before setting.  After the sun set and it grew darker, we were able to watch a little bit of a lightning storm over the hills to the East. 

I suppose you could say the sky that night – with the serene sunset on one side and the wild storm in the other direction – was similar to how I’ve felt since dad died.  It’s a constant mix with sudden bursts of ugly, angry grief and yet also peaceful acceptance – understanding that the way dad died was beautiful and being thankful for that despite how hard it is.


We've packed a ton into 13 years -- Cancer, pregnancies, preemies, bed rest, adoption, moving, grief...
but always with a heck of a lot of love