Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 in review

2013 was our first and last full year as a family of three. In 2014, our family will grow to a family of four. Here is a quick look back at some of this year's highlights:
 Brandon learned to walk and talk (and run and climb).  
 First birthday! Brandon turns one. The cake is not a hit (with him, at least).
 We take a family trip to Kansas City. Brandon is a menace, but he's so damn cute that I can't stay mad.
 Brandon is our little deejay. He switches out CDs, turns on the iPod, and dances to "Blurred Lines."

 We visit Washington in September. We announce that Brandon is going to be a big brother.
 Brandon loves animals. He rides a pony at daycare, pets the goats at the Pumpkin Patch.
 We find out our future child is another boy! We all rejoice.
 Shortly after this costume viking hat, I buy him a knit viking hat. Brandon is adorable as a viking.
 First time trick-or-treating! He loves going from house to house.
 Brandon wins "best dressed most dapper boy ever" award (in my mind).
For the first time, we spend Christmas morning together in our own home. We're creating our own family traditions and memories. Steve and I realize we're grown ups now. No turning back.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

knee deep in creeps

Perhaps these kids aren't spaced apart quite far enough. Don't get me wrong - they're not Irish twins and they are just barely far enough apart that I don't look like one of those nuts who doesn't believe in birth control. But they will be two weeks less than two years apart. Which makes some things a bit inconvenient. Like having two kids in diapers at once. Or having to buy Brandon a bed rather than convert his crib to a toddler bed since Holden will need it.

I was shopping online tonight for this bed for Brandon. I started off tamely enough: Google Shopping, Amazon, Wayfair, Overstock. Then, I got desperate. I started trolling local eBay auctions and Craigslist. I hate Craiglist. A guy at my work posted one of our open jobs on Craigslist and asked me to call back the applicants. I refused. I wouldn't and couldn't do it. I told him he could. He didn't call them, either.

Have you heard of the Craigslist killer? Or the many other crimes of Craigslist? Looking at these pictures of disassembled beds against unfinished cement basement walls gave me the heebie jebbies. I had to get up and walk away from the computer for a few minutes to feel clean again.

"What were you doing in there?" Steve asked.
"Looking for a bed for Brandon," I answered innocently.
"Where at?" He asked.
"I started on Amazon, then ended up on eBay and Craigslist," I answered, ashamed.
"You were on auction sites?" He asked, horrified.
"Don't go there. Once you do, you're knee deep in creeps."
I agreed. I'm going to take a break from internet bed shopping for awhile. Maybe I'll check tomorrow's newspaper classifieds and see what gems I can uncover.  

Thursday, December 26, 2013

3 more months

Pregnancy is getting old. This is my third pregnancy, and with each subsequent one, I grow an additional twenty pounds from the last. I think this is my last pregnancy. And not just selfishly because my body will be over 200 pounds soon, but also because I've always wanted two boys and soon I will have just that. We will wait a little while after Holden is born before coming to a firm decision, and then, snip snip.

I am the largest I've ever been, and let me tell you - it's uncomfortable. Even unfolding myself from the car is a hassle. Climbing up a flight of stairs feels equivalent to scaling a wall. Pregnancy is such a weird stage - a stage of waiting. You can dream about and make a list of "after pregnancy" to do items, but there's not much use in starting many of them while you're still pregnant (like starting to limit sweets - that won't happen).

I feel like the rest of my life will start after Holden is born. Until then, I am in a weird state of limbo. I have dreams of taking my two sons to the children's museum, the zoo, large parks. I dream of running again, of not having acid reflux anymore, of working less hours. They are dreams which can come true, but not today. Today, they are locked away in a time capsule, waiting to be opened after another season comes and goes.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Some things never change

When Steve was a child, he watched Mister Magoo's Christmas Carol every year. This year, Brandon is watching it with him. This kid won't stay put for anything other than Mickey Mouse, but somehow, he is contentedly watching Mister Magoo with his daddy.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Christmas memories

Every year on Christmas Eve, mom would make goodies while Evie's Christmas Memories played on the graphanola. She went all out: she made no bake fudgies and fudge and stained glass windows and homemade candies. Us kids would help her in the kitchen and then dust and vacuum and scrub the toilets for the company we were going to have that night. I remember watching out the window for them to get to our house, anxiously wondering if each set of headlights belonged to their car.

We didn't see my dad's family at all really, except on Christmas Eve. I have four cousins on my dad's side, all older than us by quite a ways - they were adults before I wore a bra. It was always awkward when they first came in, and I remember looking forward to the hour or so into the evening when things loosened up and we brought out the marble board or Deanna would color with my sister and me in our room.

I would round the kitchen table time after time, gorging myself on the salty chips and sugary desserts. Mom would have a pot of apple cider with cinnamon sticks in it simmering on the stove and I would ladle myself some of that, too. Evie was still playing on the graphanola when everyone left. Then, each of us got to pick out one present we could open. We dove right for the selected presents - we had each plotted which one it would be over the past two weeks by rattling and shaking boxes and rearranging tissue paper.

When it was time to bed, my sister and I would pull out our sleeping bags and lie with our heads near the closed door. Mom and dad would peek in and we'd pretend to be asleep. Then we listened to them setting up downstairs for the next morning. We'd listen to Christmas music on the clock radio and eventually, although we didn't think we could, we would fall asleep.

I have a family of my own now and the only traditions my kids will know are the ones Steve and I create. I want them to remember fondly the hominess of the Christmas season spent with family. So this year I decided to do a small scale version of my childhood Christmas Eve on the Sunday before Christmas. I emailed my mom for the recipe to the stained glass windows I love so much. I bought all the ingredients and kept her email open on my Kindle next to the stove while the butter and chocolate chips melted.

I'm not a domestic type of woman. But yesterday, I was determined to give it a whirl. I reread my mom's instructions about a hundred times. I poured over every word as if they were instructions to land a plane and I was the pilot. I studied and analyzed each preposition (does it mean sprinkle on or should it be in?). I measured and double checked. Then, while they were hardening, I baked batch after batch of sugar cookies. The stained glass windows turned out just like my mom's.

Steve's family came over and we grazed on food and the kids played with each other. They chased each other and shrieked and giggled. They didn't want to leave. When Kylie was walking out the door, I'm nearly positive I heard her say, "this was the best day ever." I smiled, while shoving yet another stained glass window into my mouth. Just what I had hoped for: Christmas memories children will blog about someday.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

That wasn't an answer

I have always been decisive and opinionated. There are few things more obnoxious to me than an answer like, I don't care, sure, or you decide. I have always known what I like. To me, knowing what I like is the obvious answer over trying out something I might not. Of course, there are times I'm forced to try something I didn't know I liked, and then I add it to my roster. But for the most part, I don't waste my energy on trying something that could be a bust when I know I can get something I will enjoy. Some people don't get me. Most, actually. But finally, I read something by someone who gets it:

"I just don't want to have bad experiences. And I don't want you to have them, either." After four decades on this earth, time was no longer infinite to him. Those mediocre dinners and pointless films become less forgivable. In a grudging way, I suppose I admire this kind of moral absolutism, this willingness to stand one's ground despite raised eyebrows. It's better to be with a man who knows exactly what he likes than with some of the anything-goes guys of my past. The only thing more exhausting than being around someone with iron regulations is being around someone with none. It takes guts to stand by your principles, as uncool or outrageous as they may seem.
~Why is My Mother Getting a Tattoo by Jancee Dunn

As people age, they undeniably become more opinionated and decisive or "set in their ways." Sometimes younger people don't have the experience and knowledge to make wise decisions, yet. Maybe I should remember that when I get one of those indecisive non-answers. But it's hard for me to be patient with this flippant I-don't-know-any-better attitude. I don't know why everyone else takes so long to get to where I've been since I was a child. Maybe I'm precocious. This eighty-year-old woman is trapped in a thirty-year-old's body. Will all the other thirty-year-olds start acting eighty already? I'll give you a jigsaw puzzle to jump start your catch-up.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

not once bitten, but twice?

Brandon is at the biting age. Not that he's biting, but getting bitten. Which is a bit shocking to me, because I thought my kid was more the bullying type than the type to be bullied. Just this morning he stole the banana from the mild-mannered kid sitting next to him. Yet two days this week he has come home with a full dental imprint on his arm. And daycare won't tell me which kid it is that bit him. His incident report said "Brandon was standing close to Friend and Friend didn't like it."

Who the fuck is Friend? I want to know. The girl I ask won't tell me. She's tactful and diplomatic as I'm sure she was told to be. So I resort to elementary school tactics and start naming off kids. "Was it Dan?" I ask. "That kid is probably jealous that my son is so much cuter than he is." I say that or something else overly snarky about an innocent one-year-old boy. "It wasn't Dan," she answers.

"So it was Sam, then?" I press. "Sam would never bite," she answers. Which I know is bullshit, because I just spoke to Sam's dad earlier that day and he told me Sam has been biting like a vampire. This girl won't give up a name for anything. She's the kind of person you want to know if you're looking for a partner in crime. Loyal to the end. I've got to admire her commitment. I make a mental note to get her phone number later. You know, just in case.

I'm Nancy Drew and I'm on the case. If I have to, I will bring in enough plaster of Paris to get a full dental impression from each kid, then compare it to Brandon's arm the next time this happens. Steve said it best: there should be some sort of a consequence for the parents of the biting kid. "They should pay our tuition for a week," he mused. That got me thinking - $176 will certainly buy enough plaster of Paris to solve this mystery. Or, for about 20 bucks, I could probably get one of the daycare girls drunk enough to talk. I hear the bar next to the daycare makes a mean Snake Bite.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Mom Goggles

First of all, I have to plug a completely underrated show. The Goldbergs. The cast is a bunch of nobodies (unless you know the daughter from X Factor and the dad from Curb Your Enthusiasm, but I don't expect any of you to watch as much TV as I do), so I don't think the show is too popular. But it's fantastic. The characters are all vastly different and entertaining in their own right. And who doesn't love a show set in the 80s?

On last night's episode, they introduced us to Mom Goggles. Which is basically like beer goggles, yet for your kids. You know, when us moms think that everything our kids do is adorable or smart or funny, even if it isn't? Yeah, that's me. I think my kid is the smartest 1-year-old in the world. Maybe he is. And maybe the reason he doesn't complete the puzzle in this picture is because he leaves to poop. That didn't make the video. Because even with my Mom Goggles on, I know some people just don't get my kid's awesomeness yet. But one day, they will.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Best dressed

I'll admit it. I take great pride in my son's appearance. My kid is not going to be the slob wearing pajamas to daycare or with snot and slobber all over his shirt. My kid is much too cute for any of that. I don't want him to get a complex already and end up living at home in my basement in 30 years. So he wears decent clothes and we gel his hair when his cowlicks are too long to lay flat without it. He is a damn fine little man.

I pick out stylish clothes for him and make sure he's not wearing conflicting colors or prints. I buy non-babyish baby clothes and stay away from pastels and the animal shit. He doesn't re-wear stained or ripped clothes. He is my dapper little boy. And today, someone commented. 20 months of life and someone finally noticed how smashing my son is! Not that I do it for the praise.

A mom at his daycare asked me where I get Brandon's clothes and said he always has the best outfits. I agreed. He does. She told me she wanted to discreetly ask if we were done having kids so she could buy some of his old clothes off of me. They're not for sale. They're for Holden. He will be just as stylish and dapper as Brandon. Not that I care whether anyone notices. Not that that comment today made my day or anything.

Quick! Someone steal my credit card before I log on to H&M or Gap and go nuts.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013


We watched The Family Man the other day. I love that movie. I have a theory that that movie would be a huge hit if it had a different leading actor. If Ryan Gosling or Bradley Cooper or Jon Hamm played the lead role.  No one likes Nicholas Cage. But it is a great story nonetheless. Towards end, when Nicholas Cage is telling Téa Leoni about the life he had before he was a family man, this is how she responds:

Kate: I think about it too. I do. I wonder about what kind of life I would have had if I hadn't married you. 
Jack: And? 
Kate: Then I realize I've just erased all the things in my life that I'm sure about. You and the kids. 
Jack: Good things.

I love that. I don't know if it's natural, but being a (previously) fiercely independent woman, I sometimes wonder about if life had turned out differently. If I would be married or have kids or live in a house or be happy. And what Téa Leoni said is exactly what I know. If I didn't have Steve and Brandon and baby Holden, I wouldn't have anything solid at all. My boys are the first people I have ever felt loved me unconditionally. They know I'm stubborn and opinionated and moody. They love me despite my shortcomings. They don't only accept me as I am, they love me as I am.

My whole life I have felt pushed and prodded to be someone other than myself. To be someone different - someone that people will like and accept as normal. I always feel pressured to act more pious or diplomatic or agreeable. It all feels phony. And I've come to realize that it's hard to be anyone other than yourself. To be these different versions for different people is exhausting. It emotionally drains me and I am stressed out and anxious and frustrated as a result.  And I wish I could say I no longer have to be those other versions. But I am. So it is home where I find my solace. My boys here love me for the authentic me. They are the only things in my life that I am sure about. Good things. 

(Sureness: Middle English, from Old French, safe, from Latin securus; see secure.)

Saturday, November 30, 2013

rock a bye babies

Tonight I rocked Brandon to sleep after reading books while we listened to Jack Johnson. Holden jumped and kicked so furiously that he would move Brandon's arm. Brandon didn't seem to mind, he just closed his eyes and drifted off to sleep. It was a pretty amazing moment - my two sons and I, our hearts beating within inches of each other. I know Brandon is probably too old to rock to sleep each night, but it is my favorite time of the day and I can't seem to give it up. I will give up everything else, but not that. Not yet.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Holden's home

I started ordering the artwork for Holden's room. This is my first purchase:
It's times like this that I wish my sister hadn't moved away. I wish she was here to help me paint the walls red and arrange the furniture and go shopping for little knick knacks that make the room special that only Amber would think of. That god damn Pacific Northwest's siren song is undeniable.

Monday, November 11, 2013

weekend update

Cool Joe. Slobber is real cool, you know.
Yesterday, my boys and I tended the yard. We had quite a few leaves.
 Brandon loves to help.
 And sometimes, he just wants to play.
 He loves chocolate muffins as much as his mom does. 

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Our second child

It has been no secret that Steve and I would love another boy. Steve picked out Brandon's name in an agreement that I would get to pick out our second child's name. I've been holding onto this name for two years, waiting to have a baby to give it to. The name, of course, is for a boy. Our toys and clothes are for a boy. Our personalities are suited for a boy.

So today, at our 20-week appointment, we anxiously waited to hear that our next baby is also a boy. If it isn't, I would be faking a sonogram like Miranda did in Sex and the City. I brought all of my testosterone with me - both Steve and Brandon; I stacked the deck in our favor. And the ultrasound tech got a good look at our littlest one and announced that it is, indeed a boy.

Holden Paul will be here in twenty more weeks. My baby has an identity that has been long awaiting his arrival. I feel like I already know him. He is my sweet second boy. A bit less adventurous and more quiet than Brandon, I presume. Yet funny and loving and smart. He will be here soon, in my arms at last, this second boy I've been hoping for since I was a young child. My dream of having two boys is reality now.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013


When we are young, we are vibrant and adventurous and energetic and charismatic. Or at least, that’s how we choose to remember ourselves.

What is it about adulthood that churns us all out into these drab, reasonable and cautious people? It’s as if responsibility is a vacuum and it takes all of us in our different colors, shapes and textures and empties us out as the same gray fuzz.

Sometimes I wonder when it is that I sold out to the me of my youth. When did I start doing something I hate to make a reasonable salary rather than pursuing something I love? When did I stop being spontaneous and adventurous and become predictable and boring? When did I begin redeeming coupons at restaurants and buying tank tops at Costco and needing a nap on the weekends?

And if I really try to answer those questions, I realize all of these changes we go through come gradually as we age. As much as people try, we can not reverse aging. With our experiences come wisdom and a new perspective that we hadn’t seen when we hadn’t a use for it. After we’re through with our recklessness, we try instead to repair damage. After we’ve burnt ourselves out on things of little importance, we decide to spend the time we have left on what matters most.

And sometimes, of course, we do lose our way. We become creatures of habit and don’t make changes we should out of comfort. There is great comfort in predictability. Predictability for adults is spontaneity for the young. So there is a balance to be found, between the versions of our adult selves and our younger selves. And this year, I’m on a quest to find it. I am not seeking a fountain of youth, rather a perfect marriage of purpose and joy. They need not be mutually exclusive, after all.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Beautiful autumn

I walked by Brandon's room and thought I left the light on.
 My little monkey didn't like wearing his hood.
 First time trick-or-treating. 
Every time kids came to the door, he tried to go back out with them.
 Cheesing for the camera.
 Candy, candy, candy.
Foreshadowing on the left.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Angry moments

Not long ago, I was devastated. I was disappointed, then upset, then resentful. I let those emotions play out. I wrote to clear my head of it. I talked it through with Steve. And then, I chose to let it go. I decided I can chose to harbor resentment and be angry, but that is not a state of mind I constantly want to be in. I choose otherwise. I don't feel that I did wrong, I feel that I was wronged, but that doesn't matter. Who did what or who hurt who or why is outside of my control. What is inside my control is how I react. And I responded in all of the natural ways - the ways my mind told me to. I said my piece, I was honest and transparent. And now, I've moved on.

This is a maturity turning point for me. I am aging, and trying to do so more gracefully than my youth would have told you I would. And do you know what happened once I said my piece and played out my emotions and then let it go? The person who wronged me apologized. We all have a choice of how to respond to what happens to us. Life is too short to be constantly weighed down by hate and anger. I choose to let it go. I choose to get rid of the anger so the happiness can stay.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Tale of two hands

I love how much my boys love each other.
"Stud muffin" as they call him at daycare.
 The tale of two hands.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Pumpkin Patch

Last night we went to the Pumpkin Patch.
Last time I was there, Brandon was just a little thing in my belly.
Next time I go there, this little thing in my belly can enjoy it, too. 

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Wishes for my adult son

Steve and I have started reading our first parenting book. And something I read tonight stuck out to me: 

What is it that I really want from my child? When my baby has grown into an adult, what characteristics do I want him to have?

Here is what I wish for the adult Brandon:

Respect: I hope that he treats people with respect. And I don't just mean the polite stuff like opening and holding doors. I mean when people talk to him, he listens. He seeks to understand other people from their point of view, rather than his own. He treats people as they can and should be, rather than as they are.

Independence: I hope that he is resourceful and self-reliant and adventurous enough to take care of himself and his family. That although he has people he can rely on, he will not rely on them in lieu or learning and doing it himself. That he gains a quiet confidence in his own capability because of what he was able to build himself.

Self-assurance: I hope that he is instilled with an intrinsic sense of self-worth so he does not need outside forces to tell him his value. He will not rely on others to define himself. He will not require accolades for motivation, he will not require compliments to feel attractive, he will not need a challenge to prove what he can do. He is good enough, smart enough, capable enough despite the unpredictable bars of those around him.

Unconditional love: I hope that he loves without condition. That when someone he loves disagrees with him or changes a bit or is being hard to love, that that doesn't change his love for them. I hope that his love for others is more than a passing feeling - that it is a deep, committed friendship. That he doesn't hold grudges or avoid someone he loves who has wronged him. Instead, he has faith in who they will become and loves them anyway.

Passion: I hope that he finds activities, people, projects, jobs that motivate him, excite him, and energize him. I hope that he maintains the curiosity and creativity he had in his adolescence and is continually recharged by it.

Humility: Despite what a spectacular individual he becomes, I hope that he does not act like he is better than anyone else. I hope that maintains a level-head and an approachable personality and a positive outlook. I hope he leads by example, rather than by authority. I hope his actions speak louder than other people's words.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Song of the snails

Song of the snails on their way to a funeral
Translation - original text is in French
by Jacques Prévert 

Two snails went to the burial of a dead leaf.
 They had black shells with crêpe on the horns.
 They left in the evening, a beautiful evening in autumn.
 But when they arrived, it was already spring.
 The leaves which were dead were all resurrected,
 and the two snails were very disappointed.
 But then the sun -- it was the sun which said to them,
 "Take, oh take the sorrow, the grief that weighs on you.... 
Take a glass of beer, if the heart says so to you;  if you wish take the bus to Paris.
 It leaves tonight.  But do not take the grief. It is I who says this to you.
 That blackens the white of the eye and then spoils the tales of the  coffins.
 It is sad and not happy. Take back your colors, the colors of life,
 and then all the beasts, the trees and plants began to sing to themselves
 the true songs of spring." And all had something to drink and toast.
 It is a very beautiful evening, a beautiful evening in summer,
 and the two snails returned home. 
They went warmed and happily, because they had drunk much. 
They staggered a little. But high above in the heavens
 -- the old moon was over them.

Thursday, October 3, 2013


People give pain, are callous and insensitive, empty and cruel...but place heals the hurt, soothes the outrage, fills the terrible vacuum that these human beings make. ~ Eudora Welty

I love coming home. The highlight of my day is bringing Brandon back home after long days at work and daycare. Here I am happy. Here, I am free from all the people who cause pain. Here, I can read and write and refocus. Here I am no longer bombarded with the days ups and downs that don't matter in the grand scheme of life. Here, life has purpose. Here, there is love and happiness and warmth.

Outside, it's man's cruel world. Out there is hatred and spite and malice and evil. But inside, we're family. Inside, there's love.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Pony rides

Brandon loves going to daycare. He has friends there and different toys and plenty of activities to keep him busy.  The first day I dropped him off at daycare, I cried my eyes out. I didn't want to leave my child with other people to care for him. Although I still wish I could spend more time with him, I'm happy that he enjoys it.If you are one of those people who think daycare is all bad, check out what Brandon did there today:

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Best Bro Ever

 What do you think when you read Brandon's shirt?
 It really didn't land in Washington.
So I'll try again on my blog. I have faith in all of you.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Last week

 We had a blast in Washington and Oregon.
Last Saturday, we went to the Puyallup Fair. Saryn won the tractor pull and then did some mutton busting. Brandon loved seeing all the animals. He's a bit too small for the rides still.
 My little outlaw.
On Sunday, we drove down to Amber and Dan's place in Portland. We went to Multnomah Falls and to Steve's favorite part - the Rogue brewery and distillery. 

Tuesday, September 17, 2013


We just returned from vacation in the Pacific Northwest. I'll throw more pictures on here later, but first, here are some quick iPhone pictures: