Saturday, April 30, 2011


There was a boy in Miss E's pre-K class who had cancer. He was diagnosed at age 3 and up until he was 6 all he knew was doctor's, hospitals, needles, medication and sickness. Cancer. His parents bravely fought this battle while still trying to preserve the parts of his childhood that they could, like sending him to preschool, even though if he got a fever, it meant a hospital stay for him. But it made him feel somewhat normal. At the end of November last year, he took his last dose of chemo. The doctors declared him cancer-free and we all were elated for this family. His mom and dad got tattoos commemorating the battle and had 5 months to celebrate him being a normal boy. Going to school, coming home, skate-boarding, not worrying terribly if someone in his kindergarten class had a cold. A big sigh of relief.

I saw his mom yesterday and we chatted about how Miss E and her son were liking kindergarten, how great it was and how great they were both doing. How excited we were that the kids were getting bigger.

This morning a post on her facebook page - "cancer is back, it's leukemia this time". An entirely different cancer. A new, entirely different cancer. And now her little boy is lying in the children's hospital getting blood transfusions, talking about bone marrow transplants and his family is seeing their "normal" being yanked away. Any sigh of relief they breathed is over. She wrote on her blog today that the survival rates of a relapse are "not good".  And here I sit, watching my beautiful healthy girl play with her beautiful healthy cousin and know that Mr. T and my niece are playing at my parents without a care in the world other that what is for dinner and who's turn it is with a certain toy. It almost feels unfair. We are so so lucky and there is not a reason for it. Not one reason why it's not our child that we are warning family and friends might not survive.  We are blessed beyond measure. Truly and completely blessed and my heart is just breaking for this little boy and his family.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Reading to the Cousins

My sister and her husband are in lovely, sunny Southern California for a wedding this weekend so my mom is watching their kids. We went to join them for dinner tonight and tomorrow, Mr. T is spending the night at my mom's house with my little niece and my nephew is coming to spend the night at our house with Miss E. Tonight though, we all hung out together and while my parents were out getting pizza and I was making a salad, Miss E entertained the kids by reading to them all. She is such a good reader! She also is having a much better week than last week which is making me feel a little more comfortable about leaving.

I was starting to feel super-guilty about it. About leaving the kids, about leaving Peter. I mean, 2 weeks is a LONG time. But then the other night I was having a glass of wine with some friends and I told them about it and one of them said "but your mom isn't going to be able to backpack forever". And it kind of struck me. She's right. I am leaving my kids to help my mom fulfill a lifelong (or at least since I was a kid) dream of backpacking in Europe. The kids are not the only loved ones in my life that are important to me. Time is marching on. My mom is in her late 60's. It's incredible that she can do this now. If I can do a 73 mile backpacking trip in my late 60's I will consider things a success. But we don't know what the future brings. So yes, it will be a hard 2 weeks on the kids but they will adjust. Peter will adjust and so will I. In the big scheme of things, a trip to Spain for 2 weeks with my mom and my sister (and my Dad -kind of) will be worth it.

Thursday, April 28, 2011


Look who was hanging out in our yard this morning? It's mating or hatching season (or both) and the males have their full tails now. Did you know they don't have them year-around? It's true. In the summer, the long feathers fall out leaving them with shorter tails for the winter. We have a herd of somewhere between 6 and 12 peacocks living in our neighborhood. When we moved in there were 2 but each year they have more babies and while several have "disappeared" thanks to our local coyote, they keep adding to their numbers. Some people hate them, I think their kind of neat. This time of year they can be noisy, especially when their nest is threatened at night but other than that they just wander through our front yard once or twice a day eating bugs and whatever else they can find. When Miss E was little and there were only 2, she called the male "Peakie" and to this day, that is the name of all the males in the herd.

I walked out of work this afternoon for the last time until almost the end of May. This week was crazy, I had a ton of stuff to do but it's done and that is one more thing finished up before my trip. Our customs saga continues, they are claiming the clothes are in "import", despite the fact that we are picking them up after we backpack and then taking them back to the States with us. We have been told there is "no way" this package will get out of customs duty free but if we would like to change our declared value, they might lower the fee. This feels a lot like extortion to me, but we are going to end up paying it.  All fingers crossed that our box is in Santiago when we get there! Otherwise I may come home with several new Spanish outfits.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

First Lawn Mowing

In a weird way, this is always a momentous occasion in my mind. The first time each year that we (Peter) mows the lawn. It probably could have been done last weekend but we didn't have any zip ties and our lawn mower is broken in such a way that we need to attach a zip tie to a certain part and then it works fine. I don't know what that part is and Peter was out of town so the lawn did not get mowed. Today though, it did and I'm pretty happy with how it looks. Yes, it looks patchy and scraggly but when you are trying to grow chemical-free lawn under a canopy of fir trees this is pretty good. A little (organic) fertilizer, some sun, some water and we will have a passable lawn for the year.

This morning, Peter and I had a little date while the kids were in school involving the coffee shop and the mall (getting some pants hemmed). See how crazy we are? It was pleasant though, UNTIL my mom called to inform me that the box we mailed to Spain containing our clothes was hung up in customs and they want 170 Euros to release it - which is about $300. After a flurry of phone calls and e-mails it is kind of figured out but we'll see. We're going to have to pay something even though it's not an import. Hopefully our stuff will get there in time!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Lens is back!

Guess who got her new (then broken and now repaired) lens back? That's right!!!

I have to hand it to Canon, I moaned and groaned about how LONG it was going to take if I had to ship it off and how EXPENSIVE it was going to be, but in reality, it took about a week and cost under $100.  And the Canon people were unfailingly polite when I called them three times a day to ask how it was going.

Also, the kids and I learned how to play Old Maid today. Well, I re-learned and they learned but still, it was fun.

Mr. T needs a haircut. It's not going to happen before I go to Spain.

That is all.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Monday Monday

Snippets of Monday:

I miss my camera lens.

Miss E and I went to school early to shelve books in the library. It was my day to and even though I had 8 million things at work that need to be done YESTERDAY, we went and shelved books.

My ipod takes shittier pictures than even the bad camera we have.

Miss E looks cute no matter what kind of camera you take her picture with.

Peter came home from his trip a little grumpy. I hate that. You don't get to be gone for a few days and then come home and complain about how it's raining and you're tired and the kids are bugging you. Totally against the rules. Hopefully I will avoid doing that when I get back from Spain.

I'm worried about leaving the kids for 2 weeks. It's a long time.

I'm also getting really excited about the trip.

Excited and worried. That pretty much sums up motherhood as a whole.

Sunday, April 24, 2011


This morning when we woke up (6:15!) we found that the tricky Easter bunny had hidden the kid's buckets and left them a bunch of clues to follow to find them. The clues were harder this year than in the past and involved going out to the van, in the backyard and in the shed as well as all over the house. Once the kids found their buckets, they were so happy! Mr. T kept exclaiming "Mommy! Guess what? The Easter bunny knows I like Batman! He brought me Batman stuff!". It was maybe one of the cutest things ever.

Miss E was pretty happy with her bucket too, despite the fact that she did not get the puppy she asked for. We went to my mom's for a delicious brunch and an egg hunt and then the 4 of us went to see Rio which was an awesome movie. Really, I haven't laughed that much at a movie in a long time.

In the afternoon, Peter came home and we had a lovely family dinner, including the homemade ice cream cake, my first, which turned out fantastic. Too good really, but it kept me from stealing the kid's Easter candy because truthfully, I'm not above doing that.

Just to keep it real, in the midst of all this lovely holiday stuff, Miss E threw a few fits, the kids asked me if they could have candy about 100,000 times and Mr. T cried quite a bit because his tummy hurt. But, it's not really a holiday without a few of those things happening, at least not with kiddos!

Saturday, April 23, 2011


This is Peter's dad fishing on the Metolius River. Apparently the guys are all having a great time. This is a fishing trip my dad has done with his friends for years - since I was a little girl and our family camped on this river many times as I was growing up. This is the first year Peter has been invited with them and his dad was invited along too. It's kind of a fun tradition they all are continuing. I can imagine Mr. T going in a few years as well.

As for the kids and I, well it was super sunny today and we just stayed home all day. I can't remember the last time we didn't even get in the car once for an entire day. We played, colored eggs, made an ice cream cake for Easter and the Easter bunny stayed up WAY too late making tons of rhyming clues for the kids to chase all over the house in the morning. And that is about it. Oh, and Miss E ate a few peas, which doesn't sound like much but considering the monumental food strike we've had going on around here it's a BIG DEAL.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Beautiful Day

Snippets of our day:

-Peter left this morning at 5:30 (!) for a weekend fishing trip with my Dad, his Dad and some friends

-On my way to pick up Miss E, I saw a coyote eating a squirrel. It was pretty cool. He even let me pull over and watch him (her?) for a few minutes before picking up the squirrel and taking off.

-The kids both had GREAT days at school

-This afternoon we (I) cleaned off the back deck, uncovered the furniture and swept away all the pine cones

-Miss E got a letter from her friend S. The girls are going to be pen pals for a bit. Isn't that a cute idea? She was so excited and immediately sat down to write a return letter.

-We got Easter treats in the mail from Peter's Grandma. The kids each got to eat some of the chocolate this afternoon (see dirty face)

-Canon has already shipped my lens back meaning I'm 90% sure I'll have it to take to Spain

-I feel organized, rested and on top of the weekend. It's going to be a good one.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Swim Lessons

Oh swim lessons. Mr. T does not like swim lessons. At the pace we are going, we're going to spend a few thousand bucks before the kid gets his face in the water. He tries though, he gets to the point where he is scared and then he pushes a little further. And that is really all I ever ask of my kiddos. I'm proud of him for that - very proud. It's just that the point where he is scared is about in water up to his waist or when his face is about 6 inches from the water or when he's wearing a life jacket. We are a long way off from swimming or really enjoyment of the water. The hard part is that he has to learn to swim. Neither Peter nor I feel like this is an optional life skill. On top of that, I actually want him to enjoy the water. I don't care if he's on the swim team or some kind of great swimmer but when we go to Black Butte with our whole family and spend the day playing in and around the pool, I want that to be kind of fun for him.

Fortunately, we have a FANTASTIC teacher this term. She pushes him, but never too hard and is very kind and loving to him. I think this summer we are going to have as many Daddy/Mr. T pool dates as we can and then also try and get him some private lessons from this same teacher. The great thing about Mr. T (one of them) is that even though he doesn't love swim lessons, he willingly goes every week and tries. There are no tears, fussing or tantrums and truthfully, as important as it is that he learn this I don't think I would drag a crying kid there every week. He puts on his swim suit, takes his shower, greets his teacher and participates in class. Twice a week he does this. And that makes me pretty proud.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Something's not quite right

I've been feeling for a bit that something is not quite right. Something is a bit off. And I can't quite put my finger on it.

When Miss E was a baby, I quickly learned that the only thing constant was change. Once we got into a good schedule / routine, it would change, she would change or I would change. Then we would go through a brief, and sometimes painful, period of adjustment and soon we would be in a new routine or schedule that was working great. The kids are obviously older now so things don't change as rapidly as they did when they were little but the painful part of the change is often slower too. Lately I've been feeling like something isn't going right for Miss E. Her routine is wrong, she's somehow not having her needs met, I don't know. But look at her face - she looks tired to me, kind of worn out. We've had more behavior issues than normal as well. More power struggles.

I cannot figure out what it is though. Her teacher says everything is fine, she hasn't dropped any hints and things in general seem OK. It's like how you tell if a great work of art is a forgery. Everything can be technically perfect, but there just is an overall sense that something is wrong. That's kind of how this feels. Nothing is wrong with her, nothing is wrong with us, something just needs to be tweaked so our family works better as a whole. Part of it, I know, is that Miss E has kind of given up eating most things. This is actually a symptom (hello power struggle!) and part of the cause of her not feeling great. We are working through that in a few ways and I hope that over the next few weeks we are able to change a few things so she is able to thrive better.

I don't know if I need to be home more, we need to do more family things, the house needs to be more orderly, things need to be more planned ahead or she needs some one on one attention. All those are things that are important to her and have fallen a little bit to the wayside. In a way, it's good when this happens because it reminds me once again that part of Peter and I's job is making sure our family and our life works for all 4 of us, not just him and not just me. It makes me step up my game a bit and reminds me to put our family first and foremost in my life.

It could also be not about us at all. She could be going through a growth spurt or something at school. I have encouraged her to write in her journal more and set aside time for her and I to do things together. I've tried to keep on top of the house and be more attentive to cooking healthy meals while not making a huge issue out of food. Unfortunately, I don't think things will settle out fully until a few weeks after I get back from Spain. Being away from them for 2 weeks isn't going to help much and I know she is anxious about that. All of us are anxious about it. Sometimes I feel super selfish for taking this trip but I know that I wouldn't want Peter, or the kids in the future, to pass up on a once in a lifetime experience like this.

This got really long. Hmm.... let's just say that I'm worried about my baby and at the same time, I know everything will be fine. Eventually.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

At the Lake

Sorry for the cell phone picture! Peter took the kids to the park today while I was at work. He's so much better about doing stuff like that than I am. When they have a free afternoon with me, we most often play at home, in the yard, run errands or do chores. Peter is much more of a "park on a Tuesday afternoon" sort of Dad. He inspires me to get out more with them as well. This weekend he's going to be gone and I fully intend to hit a few local parks if the weather is nice.

Can I just say that Miss E dresses herself? She has since she was 2 and she has some strong ideas about clothes. You can really tell in Kindergarten which kids dress themselves and which ones are dressed by their parents. Picking her own outfits has resulted in some interesting looks - I kind like to call her style "kindergarten hobo" since she like the multi-layered look - but she has also come up with some really great outfits. I am such a boring dresser myself that I would have her in jeans and a tee-shirt every day. It's just the way I am. Today she wanted to wear capri's but it was too cold. Solution? Wear yoga pants under the capris. Genius.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Tax Day. Finally.

Today is the official end of tax season and I dropped Miss E off at school this morning wearing only a sundress and shoes. No sweater, no tights, no undershirt. It was MAYBE 40 degrees out. Maybe.

We actually ended up lucky that she even WENT to school, let alone wearing clothes. She came in at 7 this morning to wake me up and I was tired and cranky and frankly sick of being asked every single morning what we were having for breakfast. So I snapped at her. And I hurt her feelings. And she hid under her covers for the next 45 minutes, despite my apologies, coaxing, rising above it and subtly veiled threats. Eventually she got herself up, put on a sundress and walked out to the car.

As for all the parents giving me looks on the way in because she was so inappropriately dressed for the weather? Well, what can I say? She was. She had a coat in her backpack if that makes it any better. This is kind of what the end of tax season is like - things fall apart a bit.

I say "finally" in the title but really, this is my busiest week of work all year. After the taxes are done and filed, we send our bills out. This is my job. Since we are all leaving for Spain (my mom, my dad and myself - or 2 of the partners and the billing person) at the beginning of May, bills need to go out sometime around, oh, YESTERDAY. And there is a lot of prep work that goes into it. The bottom line is a lot of work for me. A lot of hours and pressure for me. Fortunately, today I was able to come home and make things better with Miss E. And fortunately, Peter and I are helping each other out during this busy time instead of arguing (yeah, that's happened).

Also, I'm stalking Canon about when my lens will be back. 3 phone calls today. Maybe they will just get irritated with me and fix is ASAP. Or get irritated with me and send my lens to the back of the line....maybe I should lay off for the next few days.

Sunday, April 17, 2011


Sunday, errand day. I dragged the kids to the mall once again (return some things) and then we spent the day hanging around the house. It was lovely and mellow and I packed like a mad woman. Our box of  clothes is being shipped to Spain tomorrow and I really suck at packing light. It's taking a long time to pare everything down to just a few things. The stuff we are shipping has to last me a week, in weather that will be warm, cold and rainy. It has to look nice and be comfortable to walk in and wear all day long. Anything that doesn't get shipped is going to have to be carried on a week-long, 73 mile back packing trip. That's pretty good incentive to get it all organized for shipping!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Kiss the Stitch

Peter titled this picture -firefighter have a kind of a gross sense of humor. I kind of fell down on the picture taking today, worked all day (on a Saturday!) and got home late.  I snapped a few of Peter watching the soccer game but it was more just to get it done. This was kind of a joke shot. Funny, right? This is what you think of when you think "funny"? A bloody hole in someone's toe? Yeah, me too.

I ended up sending my camera lens back to Canon today. The focus was working very intermittently and I really really really hope that it gets fixed and returned before my trip in May. So far I have been stalking the Canon folks a bit but no word on cost or repair timeline. Maybe if I call them about 20 more times..... just kidding. Kind of.

Sorry about the grossness of this photo. Just scroll down and make it go away.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Yep, that's me.

A big old no-make up picture of me with my cleavage blurred out. Mr. T has really been taking to the camera lately and it seems everytime I download pictures, there are about 50 of their toys, Miss E or other random stuff that caught his eye. For this one, we were just being silly together.

This morning, I crashed the car. In a little but annoying way, but still, I crashed the car. Well, more like rolled it into the back of a tow truck because I was talking to Miss E at a stoplight and my foot eased off the brake and then it rolled into the tow truck. Remember how we just got it back from the body shop? Like a few weeks ago after Peter rubbed it on a tree stump? Me too. The worst part is, I am so off my game this week that I didn't even get the other driver's insurance company name or his phone number. Um...yeah. Isn't the first thing you do in a crash after you figure out everyone is ok, is get insurance information?????? What was I thinking? I was kind of thinking that MAYBE if I just pretended it didn't happen, that it would go away. You know, the mature, adult, responsible way of taking care of things.

To further my day, I kept Miss E home from school because she wasn't feeling great. She was OK, just congested and not feeling too good. But, this is my last day to get stuff together that I am going to mail to Spain. The box has to be in the mail Monday and there were a few things I had to get at the mall. So I dragged a sick kid to the mall. Let me repeat that - yes, I dragged a sick kiddo to the mall to help me get ready for my trip. To be fair, I did buy her a scone.

It was kind of like that.

After post - I usually post these in present time, but since it is now Monday, I have to do a little follow up. Miss E didn't come home today with her Friday folder (weekly folder of work) that she missed getting on Friday. I asked her if she wanted me to e-mail the teacher to ask for it to be sent home tomorrow and she said she wanted to do that. I set her up at the computer, told her not to send it before I looked at it and went to help Mr. T with his bath. When I came back, here is what she had written:

"Dear Ms. N, can you pleese put my friday folder in my cuby so i can tacek it home after school toomaro. what did the class do on friday? i was kcoanjgested on friday so in sted of school i went to the mall
it was boring but we went to the coffee shop in the mall.


I am not kidding about that. I laughed out loud, suggested that maybe we shouldn't put the part about going to the mall in there and when she asked "why?" I told her it would be OK and we could send it as is. So we did. Hopefully her teacher will get a laugh from it instead of being annoyed. 

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Our Living Room The Jungle Gym

I swear, if this couch makes it through their childhood I'm throwing it a party. Photo credit on this one goes to Mr. T. 

Peter and I have been really busy this week. Incredibly busy, with work and getting ready for trips we are each taking and more work. And it is starting to seem that there are not enough hours in the day. There is not enough time:

To work
To exercise
To spend all the time with the kids that I want
To hang out with my husband
To see my friends
To volunteer
To meal plan
To plan and pack for my trip
To do all the projects around the house that I want to
To take care of the yard
To cook
To take care of the house
To get all the errands done
To read books
To walk the dog
To blog
To write
To craft with the kids
To homeschool with the kids
To take pictures.

I know this is a phase, a season if you will, of life where things are incredibly busy. Someday there will be enough hours, the house will be quiet, and Peter and I will be puttering around each other. We will have time to maintain the house, to craft, to recreate, to read. And the house will be quiet. Which, I think, will feel a bit more lonely than blissful. For now, I am trying to embrace the busyness, not let the kids get lost in the shuffle and enjoy where we are right now. But sometimes, an extra day or a few extra hours would be very welcome. 

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Benefits of Play-School

My camera lens is working intermittently. The focus is off for sure but sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. I'm still trying to decide if I should risk sending it back before Spain)

As I have mentioned before on the blog, our kids go to a play-school, which is basically a preschool with a play-based philosophy. They do circle time, and have set art activities/stations, but the bulk of the time is free-choice in a room with 4 centers set up - dramatic play, blocks, art and science/creation. The centers change at least every 2 to 3 weeks so there is always something new and interesting to do. They do not spend a ton of time learning to write letters, numbers or other "school-work" types of stuff. There is a writing table, they are encouraged to write their names on everything and when they do art or make cards, they are encouraged to write what they can on it or dictate what it is about. In Pre-K, their last year before Kindergarten, they do a few more structured activities and work a little more on counting and letters, but it's still not the main focus.  

When Miss E started school, she was 2 and I found the only preschool around that would take 2 year olds in a part time program, which was 2 1/2 hours a day, 2 days a week. I didn't pay much attention to the TYPE of school so we did kind of fall into the play-school thing. As the kids got older, we just loved it so we stayed. Miss E did three years of preschool and so will Mr. T. Each year they go for a few more hours but it's still not a lot of time. This year is Mr. T's Pre-K year and he is going 3 hours a day for 3 mornings a week. 

As Miss E neared Kindergarten I started to worry about the freedom, the lack of structure, the play style. I wondered if she would be behind when she started kindergarten and how she would adapt to structure. I started to have doubts about the play-school model. It was fun for the kids and all, but really, how was it getting them ready to learn? But, we carried on and hoped for the best. Miss E was always a smart kid who was interested in letters and writing and liked structure so I kind of figured it would be OK. Mr. T on the other hand, I became concerned about. He never had quite that same inclination and to boot, he is younger for his grade than Miss E.

Now that she is in kindergarten and I have seen what it's like, I am a whole-hearted supporter of the play-school model. Kindergarten has SO MUCH structure and worksheets and really an appalling lack of free and creative time. Some of this is due to the half day model - in 2 and a half hours a day, the kids have to learn a TON of stuff, but some of it is just due to the bureaucracy of the school system and the curriculum. I like Miss E's school a lot and her teacher has grown on me to the point that I am a huge fan of hers as well, and Miss E is blossoming like nobody's business in Kindergarten but oh, I am so glad that she had 3 years to play in the sand, paint what she wanted, if she wanted, glue all kinds of crazy stuff together and just generally learn that school is FUN and explore her imagination and learn to interact with kids her age. 

Now that I know what to expect in Kindergarten, I know that Mr. T will be fine. Better than fine, he also is going to excel in Kindergarten and I am glad that he has this year to dig in the sandbox, be in love with his teacher, skip the art he doesn't want to do and build block towers up to his shoulders. At home, when he asks to, I pull out the Pre-K workbook I bought for him and he gets to practice his letters and numbers. But I would hate to think that for the 3 hours he's in preschool with his friends he's doing worksheets. Ick. There is enough time for that in the future. The kids learn so much through play in these early years, I really think it lays a huge, strong foundation for their continued success. In hind sight, we could not have made a better decision for our kiddos. And that feels good. 

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Hurt Foot

Peter had a thing cut off the bottom of  his foot today that had been bugging him for awhile. This means that he is laid up for a few days though. I stayed home from work today to help keep him resting and take care of the kiddos and to spend a little one on one time with each of them. Miss E and I went out to lunch (Village Inn - it was us and the old folks!) and to the bookstore and when I got home, Mr. T and I baked an apple upside down cake. That kid loves to help me bake. He was so excited. Miss E and I had a chance to chat about school and friends and some things that have been bugging her. I love that she and I are able to do that. I am very aware that my parenting now, is laying the foundation for a future relationship. My hope is that if she is comfortable talking to me about hard topics now, she also will be when she is a teenager. Or, more realistically, if she won't talk to us about how she's feeling at 6, it's not likely that she will at 12 or 16. 

Why am I not as concerned about Mr. T in this respect? Well, for right now, THE KID WILL NOT STOP TALKING.  It's comical in a way, he is so sweet and earnest and excited about everything but sometimes the constant chatter drives us all nuts. He also wears his feelings out in the open. I know if he is sad, hurt, angry, happy, excited or whatever....

They both took their role in "helping me take care of Daddy" very seriously. When I left for lunch with Miss E, I told Mr. T to make sure that Peter didn't get up and as soon as we got back he told me proudly that Peter only got up twice the whole time we were gone. Peter has also been pretty good (so far) about keeping his foot up. Let's just say that it would not have been completely unexpected for him to either over do things and not rest enough OR be kind of cranky and snappy. However, neither of those things happened, which made all of us happier. The kids were happy as clams that they got to lay on the couch with him and play games on the ipod, and I was kind of happy to take the day off of work. 

Monday, April 11, 2011

Spraying the Hose and Migraines

Come summer, this is one of Mr. T's favorite activities. You give the kid a hose, and he is happy for hours. Today he was out spraying the rocks, the flower beds and the street (when cars weren't going by). Everything is soaked anyway due to 4 months of pretty much straight rain, but he was determined to "water".

As for me, I had another migraine today. Every month I get migraines for about 4 or 5 days straight. I have meds and if I do everything right, I can manage that time with little medication and very little pain. "Doing everything right" means:

Getting enough sleep but not too much
Not having too much stress
Not letting my body get too hot or too cold
Eating enough "real" food
Not having too much sugar or foods with food coloring
Drink enough water
Don't drink any alcohol
Making sure the top of my head doesn't get too cold.
Not spending too much time in front of the computer
Not taking too much medication
Taking enough ibuprofen and migraine meds at the right time.
Drink the right amount of coffee -not too much, not too little
Don't be exposed to really bright lights or be in the sun too much

See where I'm going with this? I mean I look at that list and think "are you kidding me"? Most months, surprise surprise, I cannot maintain this perfect level of homeostasis and end up taking more medication than I would like. Right now, I'm OK with that. When I am in pain, it's hard to take care of the kids. Especially hard to take care of them for 24 hours straight, let alone 48. Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to just have to make it until 5:30 when my husband comes home from work and but I think not much would be different. I still wouldn't want to be sequestered away from my family due to pain. Pain that is treatable. Even if the meds are not the greatest thing for me. Right now the only side affects that I feel is after a few days of medication, mentally, things are slow. Duller. I'm not sleepy or tired, it just seems like my mind is not as quick. Truthfully, the medicine has been a wonderful thing for me, despite it's side effects. It's worth it to not give up whole days of my life to pain, as I was doing before. I hope someday though, that I won't ever have to take it anymore.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Girl Scouts Tour the Fire Station

The Daisy petal Miss E's group is working on this month is "respect for authority" so for the meeting, they all came to tour Peter's fire station. This was a big deal to Miss E. It's the first time any of her Kindergarten friends got to come to the station and she helped Peter lead them around. Most of these girls had never been to a fire station before and Peter gave an excellent tour.

Miss E helped him get dressed and put on his pack. They do this every tour to help kids learn what a firefighter in full gear looks and sounds like. Kids have hidden in fires before because they are scared of the firefighters coming to look for them. And it does look kind of scary. When he has all his gear on, his mask on, the air going and all the beeping and hissing noises that come with it, you almost wouldn't recognize him as a human in a dark smokey environment. After he gets dressed he always has the kids come up to touch him, give him a high five or something just so they see that it's still him under there. This doesn't seem like it would be a big deal but up until about the age of 4 or 5, one or two kids always cries during this part of the tour, and even in this group there was one girl who would not go anywhere near him.

Miss E was also his medical model, showing how the pulse oximeter worked and getting hooked up to the heart rate monitor. Then they got to spray the hose and knock down some cones. It was a really fun tour. The kids are old enough to ask questions and really want to learn a bit about the fire station and what life is like there. When Peter explained his 24 hour schedule one of the girls raised her hand and very worriedly asked "do you ever get to go home? To see your family?". He assured her that yes, of course, he did get to go home (sometimes!) and see us.
Afterward Mr. T got to choose a treat since he (once again) was getting dragged around on one of Miss E's things and he picked doughnuts. So doughnuts it was and then we all laid around the rest of the day with the exception of a bought of street hockey because, as Peter put it, we really need more games where the kids play in the street.

This was Peter's one day off in 4 - he just worked a 48 and tomorrow he goes back for his regular shift and it ended up being a lovely low key family day.

Saturday, April 9, 2011


This morning started off looking like a no good terrible day. Actually, the day started of promising to be great, went to the terrible, and then ended up being good in an entirely different kind of way.

Miss E and I had haircuts scheduled together and she was going to get a feather extension put in her hair (see above). I had intended for us to have a mother/daughter day today. Then Peter ended up getting a shift and something came up at work that had to be taken care of, leaving me with 2 kids to drag on work stuff and Mr. T had to come to the salon with us. OK, no problem, this is not my first day at this, so deep breaths and it all will be fine.

Then the kids woke up grumpy. And I broke my new camera lens. Yes, I really typed that last sentence. It pains me to even write that. My camera was sitting on the desk, I grabbed it (by the body ) to take a picture, the strap caught on the edge of the desk, yanking it out of my hand and slamming it into the ground. I got my new lens last week. You know how many times I've dropped that camera in the 4 years since I've had it? Maybe once. If that. At the same point that this happened, Miss E amped up the whining and Mr. T started throwing a fit about his birthday presents. I excused myself into our bedroom to phone a friend. I'm not kidding, I really did. After a few moment, I came out, explained that I was upset about my camera and calmed everyone down enough to leave the house.

After a few errands we got to the salon where Miss E promptly stated that she did not in fact, want to get her hair cut or have a feather put it. She was pissed because at Starbucks earlier I wouldn't let her have an entire blueberry scone (460 calories, full of trans fat!) and this was how she put it out there. I felt really bad since this was our first appointment with this lady and here I am dragging 2 cranky kids into a salon, one of whom did NOT want to get her hair cut. She was super nice about the entire thing and I just went ahead with my hair cut (thankfully we were the only people in there). I called Miss E over a few times to "see if my hair was short enough" but really just to get her used to being near the chair, talking to the lady, etc. When I was done, she changed her mind (surprise surprise) and got a lovely cut and picked out a pink feather to put in her hair. It looks adorable and she is thrilled with it.

We ran more errands, had my camera looked at, came home and played outside in the sunshine. Mr. T was a trooper, being dragged around all day with really nothing in it for him. Especially sitting in a hair salon for an hour while his mom and sister got their haircut. That's a lot to ask of a 4 year old boy and he did great.

As for my camera lens, I'm trying to just figure out how to fix it and if I can get it done in time for Spain. I am kind of heartbroken about it but also, it's a "thing" and I can't really get too upset about breaking it. It was a complete and total fluke of an accident and I'm glad that I am the one who broke it and not one of the kids or Peter. We'll get it fixed somehow (insert sad face here).

At the end of the day, we all went to bed happy and peaceful. It didn't end up being the lovely girls spa day I had envision but it also didn't end up being terrible in any way. I'm proud that my kids can adapt and be dragged around when need be and feel confident in my abilities to manage the family. And I think Miss E's hair feather is awesome. After Spain I may get one myself -maybe not pink though....

Friday, April 8, 2011

Curled up with a Book

Friday friday friday. What a great day. A little sunshine, some time to myself this morning, a lovely day at home with the kiddos, and movie night.

Miss E woke up this morning, moved from her bed to the couch and promptly lay down to read her book. This is happening more and more that she just wants to sit and read, which is great for most of us. Mr. T, however, is not a fan. He almost just can't stand that she is in the same room as him yet doesn't want to play. She will nicely tell him that she is reading and doesn't want to play Batcave, he'll say OK, and then proceed to talk non-stop to her. I know he just doesn't get it yet, and we're trying to gently explain it, but boy is it hard for him. I don't want her to feel like she has to shut herself in her room every single time she wants to read (although she knows that is an option) but sometimes we all just want to be in the same space doing our own thing.

This afternoon it was so nice that Mr. T and I headed outside to do some yard work while she stayed inside to read. That worked out lovely because he could talk to me (about an hour straight) while I was working and she got some quiet time in the house. The sibling relationship is a constantly evolving beast. I inwardly chuckle a bit when a new mom with a month old baby declares how great the big brother or sister gets along and how well they are handling the baby because it's just so constantly evolving. Although I was that mom, 1 month after Mr. T was born saying how great Miss E was getting along with him. Now I know to amend it with a "now" on it. Overall I shoot for sibling harmony about 85% of the time. If I can get that, then that feels like a success.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Point Your Toes

At this point in tax season, things seem to level out a bit. Yes, everyone at work is pretty tired and a little grumpy, but my family seems to have adjusted to me working me, and I have adjusted. I missed Miss E's gymnastics show this afternoon and as much as I would have liked to have been there, it's OK that I wasn't. It used to be that I felt guilty for not being at every single thing for them, but then I realized that Peter missed a lot of stuff because of his work and he doesn't go around beating himself up for it. If I miss a few things because of work, well, that's life and thankfully they have Dad who is at everything I miss.

I'm seriously impressed by how far Miss E has come in gymnastics. She is a bundle of muscles and she knows how to control them. Next year I think she'll be ready for a real gym if she still likes it. (Real as in, not a preschool one with a few classes for older kids - not an Olympic training facility)

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Mid-way Matinee

This is the halfway point in the kids gym classes and today parents got to come in for the whole class to participate and watch. I missed it due to work (starting to hate tax season...) but Peter got to go.

See the front support that Mr. T is doing? It has taken him all year to get the arm strength and the comfort level to do this. Mostly the comfort part. That teacher (Teacher Angela- we love her!) has been so kind and patient and encouraging with him and just in the last few weeks he is starting to get it. I'm so proud of him! He is really great about allowing himself to be coached through things that are scary for him. It's so amazing to watch them grow.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Miss E and the Tree and a Fight

Today Miss E and I had a fight. A huge, yelling, lose your temper in a big way, knock down drag out, fight. And oh, it has been a long time since we have had one of those. From the time she was little (in utero really) I knew that she was independent. Stubborn. Strong-willed. She is the independent, stubborn, strong-willed child born of an independent, stubborn and strong-willed mother. My first real clue as to how this was going to play out was potty training. I royally screwed that up by not getting to know my kid before starting out. I listened to books, instead of her. She is not a kid who would use the potty just because you promised her an M&M. No way, no how. She would refuse to pee for an entire day just because I WANTED HER TO USE THE POTTY. She doesn't do what others tell her to just because she is told, bribed, threatened, coaxed, cajoled or anything else. The minute she senses a power struggle, there is a line in the sand that she will not cross for anything.

I have to say, that while these personality traits can be difficult in a kid because she is not always compliant, I do want her to be a strong-willed, independent adult and before that, a teenager who can make up her own mind. As soon as I learned a bit about her and stopped reading parenting books, things got a lot better. I figured out how to side-step power struggles, ignore the behavior that I knew was just button pushing and when to tell if her acting out meant that she really wanted a hug. She is a good natured girl. She is smart and sweet and empathetic and bright and interesting and funny. She can be difficult at times and she has really made me look at myself and learn about managing temper and control issues. (Ahem, not that I have any of those...)
In time, I have come to feel pretty good about my mothering of her. I think I'm a really good mother to her and I think that I have learned to handle her in a manner that works for all of us and avoids some of the hugs blow out fights that we used to have, which is good for both of us.

But every once in awhile, I slip. Today I was tired, I've been working a lot and feeling a bit down. Not at my best for sure and everything blew up in my face. The worst part, is that I had a huge screaming yelling fight with my 6 year old over pretty much nothing. I asked her if she wanted to help me set up my new ipod. She was holding it and dropped it. At this point, I wasn't angry. I mean, I let a 6 year old hold my ipod, you can't exactly yell at her for dropping it, that's what 6 year olds do. Instead I said "oh honey, we have to be careful with that, that's how my last one broke". In response she stomped off to her room. A minute later, I followed her in and explained that while I wasn't mad, she needed to apologize, that when you do something like that on accident, or hurt someone on accident, you still have to say you're sorry. She looked at my, said "whatever, I'll just play in here". Oh now that pissed me off. And it began. In hindsight, I know she was just really worried about being in trouble and how she handled that flood of "feeling bad" emotions was to stomp to her room. I should have given her more time to let those feelings dissipate and then talked to her about it. But I didn't.

I'm ashamed to say that this was one of my worst moments in parenting in awhile. I put her in time out, she wouldn't go, she told Mr. T she hated him, I yelled at her to get in her room, she wouldn't go. On and on and on. After we had reached some resolution and CALMED DOWN, we talked. About how time outs are to help us both calm down and about the choices that we each made every step of the way that led to this and what we could have done differently. Then I told her I was sorry, so very very sorry that I yelled at her and that I grabbed her arm and that even though I was angry, I shouldn't have done those things. And then I told her that she still needed to apologize to me and her brother (for saying she hated him) which she did. Then, because the kids are still working on put words to feelings, she and I both sat down and wrote the end to these sentences:

I felt sad when...

I felt scared when....

I felt angry when...

 I felt sorry when....

And then we read our papers to each other and ripped them up. It was exhausting folks. The whole thing took so much energy. But I really feel like one of our duties as parents is to teach them how to handle anger and other strong emotions. Peter and I argue in front of the kids and they know that it is a given that people who live together will get in fights. The tough part about losing it with your kids, really losing it, is that you can't take it back. Not entirely. When I get overly angry at Peter, I can apologize and explain that I was over the top about something and he understands. You can't do that with kids, not in the same way. Oh, you can apologize, but it doesn't take it away. Needless to say, even after numerous hugs and I love you's, I still went to bed feeling bad for both of us. However, I also know that I need to brush it off, get up tomorrow and get over it. Parents lose it sometimes. They do. Or they drink way too much. I'm not sure which is better for the kids - probably the realistic non-drinking method. Only time will tell though..only time will tell.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Night-time Routine

Since Miss E was little, we have had a night-time routine set up for bath and bedtime. First it was to help her get to sleep better, than it became a method to manage putting her and a baby to sleep, and now, it is aimed at keeping things as easy as possible in the evening for me. Peter is gone at least 1/3 of the nights, usually more, and I was finding that bedtime was when I usually lost my shit with the kids and the yelling started. So, I took a long look at how we were doing things and made some changes so it was less chaotic and therefore, less stressful on me. Which in turn leads to me not losing my cool and that means less yelling, which is good for all of us.

Because Peter's schedule is so, shall we say, NON-TRADITIONAL, we have to set up everything, all of our routines, schedules, classes and errands, as if there were only one parent in our household. Then, when he's home 2 parents pitch in and do the work together.

Part of our nighttime routine, is free-reading. During this time, each kid is supposed to be in their own room looking at books. This allows me to deal with them one at a time for brushing teeth, hair, etc. and I read them books separately too. We used to read books together, and still sometimes do, but they like different things and I have found that they wind each other up at bedtime so it's better to have some quiet separate time to settle down. Tonight Peter was here and he actually did most of the work since I worked late. When I came home I found he and Mr. T free-reading together. How sweet is that?

Sunday, April 3, 2011

The Circus!

We took the kids to the circus today -their first time and Peter and I's first time as adults. It was a semi-hokey, old school, cash-only traveling circus. The guy that Mr. T bought his very red slushy from was also the guy who rode the motorcycle in the CAGE OF DEATH (which was kind of awesome by the way). The ringmaster sang. Instead of a net beneath the tightrope walker, there were three huge guys standing there (to break his fall? I don't know). Several of the acts seemed downright dangerous, to the point where I was holding my breath and it was SO MUCH FUN.  Adding to the amusement was that it was in the old Memorial Coliseum in Portland, which is where I saw some very similar circuses when I was a kid. It felt like a little time warp back to my childhood. Except I had to pay this time. And deal with my daughter's grumpy mood (she warmed up about half way through).

Overall, I loved it. And I loved spending the afternoon laughing with my family

(And yes, Mr. T wore his fire costume there)

Saturday, April 2, 2011


Well, today is Saturday. Usually on Saturday in the mornings, especially if Peter is working, I let the kids get up by themselves and watch TV. Miss E can get yogurt for both of them and work the TV and knows that Channel 10 (PBS) is all they can watch. Then I get to sleep in until 8ish. That was how this morning was supposed to go. Instead, I woke up at the crack of 7 to hear arguing. And then one child threatening to hit another child, and then more arguing. Sigh. So I got up, flipped off the TV, put the most offending child in a brief time out and started to cook breakfast.

Once we ate and everyone was in a better mood, I said "go play" - which means "find something to do". After a bit of flitting from one activity to another, they settled on making our couch into an airplane. Miss E used this music board as her control panel and Mr. T packed his bags and his "friends" and off they went on an adventure. More often than not, if I leave them alone, they end up playing a game of some sort or another together.

It worked out well today because I have a ton of catching up to do at the house. We are at the busy busy busy part of tax season and for the last few weeks I have been trying to work a lot of ours, continue my full-time mom and house duties, exercise and get ready for my trip to Spain. At the end of the days I am really exhausted. Too exhausted for laundry or meal planning or kids room cleaning or bill paying or grocery list making.  So that is what I am going to do today. While the kids angelically amuse themselves and each other. Ok, it may not all be angelic but overall they are super helpful kiddos.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Mr. T's toes

For awhile now, I have been noticing that 2 of Mr. T's toes are growing over each other. It kind of looks like he is crossing them and they are slightly curved toward each other. Lately his skin has gotten little rub spots around those toes as well.  Peter didn't think anything was wrong (note: firefighters never think something is wrong unless you are in danger of imminent death. It took me awhile after we had kids to realize  that my definition of "wrong" was VERY different than his), but agreed to take  him to the podiatrist the next time he went. Sort of a father/son thing.

Their appointment was this morning and I met them for coffee and bagels when it was over. As soon as I walked into the bagel shop Mr. T very excitedly held up x-rays of his feet and loudly said "look mommy, these are pictures of my feet! Those are my bones! The camera could see THROUGH my foot!". As soon as I heard that my heart sunk a bit. Because, Dr.'s don't take x-rays on a 4 year old for nothing, right? But I put a smile on my face and let him show me the x-rays and tell me all about his appointment and how nice the Dr. was and then tell me again about the magic camera that took pictures of his bones. After that Peter told me that indeed, his toes are growing crooked but right now we are going to wait and see if they correct themselves. If they don't then we try spacer-thingies and if that doesn't work then surgery. In short, it probably will be fine but I hate to have something to watch and monitor. I want my babies to be perfect. But then I think of all those parents who have children who are suffering from real problems and real issues and have real health worries and then I go to Peter's side of thinking about the toes, and realize that he will be (as Mr. T said himself) "just fine".