Saturday, June 30, 2012

The Gym: My Favorite Vacation

Going to the gym with more than one kid is an Olympic event.

After waking up and making breakfast for Jacob and myself, I usually spend 20 minutes trying to convince myself to go. I finally commit and check the clock. Hmm, the spin class I like starts in 1.5 hours. I have JUST ENOUGH TIME to get there.

First, I feed and change Ryan. This alone takes at least 30 minutes. While getting him dressed I remember I need an extra outfit for his diaper bag. I don't know for sure if he actually NEEDS an extra outfit each time we go or if the people in the childwatch center just like to play house and dress him like a doll. Without fail, he is always wearing a different outfit when I pick him up. I reach my hand inside the mountainous pile of clean laundry in my bedroom and pull out the first thing that feels like a baby outfit. One day I'm going to throw everyone for a loop and accidentally pack some lingerie. I can just see their faces now....

I walk to the livingroom and see Jacob in his pajamas. "Jacob. Get dressed, we're going to the Y."

I change out of my "unacceptable-for-public-viewing" yoga pants and change into my "acceptable" yoga pants. The difference between these is usually just the amount of spit up caked onto each one. Let's face it, these days, my wardrobe decisions are pretty simple: yoga pants, or yoga pants? Is it more socially acceptable to wear yoga pants when they cost $60 and are from Nordstrom? Or am I just kidding myself?

After I get dressed, I pack my workout bag. I throw in some shorts. A tank top. Clean undergarments-usually if I forget this particular item, I am ok with rewearing an old pair inside out. But today they are essential because but I totally DRAW THE LINE of using this trick after a sweaty spin class.

I come back out to the living room and see that Jacob is half naked. "Jacob, you need pants!"

"Why?" Jacob asks. "What happens if I go to the Y without pants?"

"Everyone will see you and scream, 'Hey! that guy has no pants on!'" I respond.

"But I want people to say that." He says with a grin.

"Pants. Now."

I buckle Ryan into his carseat and check my bags. Dang, I forgot my towel. I run and get it. Oh and shampoo. I throw both items into my work out bag.

Jacob comes out of his room appropriately dressed.

"Go get your shoes on." I say as I search the cabinets frantically for my water bottle. I find it hiding in the most logical spot- somewhere I never would have put it.

Then I pack Ryan's diaper bag. I spend the next 10 minutes tracking down and grabbing the following items: a pre-made bottle, diapers, wipes, binky, extra bib, burpcloth, butt cream, nursing pads, nursing cover, baby sweater in case the weather changes. Hmm, I think that's everything.

"Mommy, can I bring a toy?" Jacob asks me.

"Only if you can share with the other kids." I respond, knowing full well that he will either lose the toy or that he will cry when other kids want to play with it. Jacob spends 3 minutes sorting through all his toys and selecting two very special cars, one for each hand. Finally, it looks like we're ready.

I open the door and let Jacob out ahead of me while I put my shoes on. On my way out, I grab an extra jacket for myself and Jacob. I then make my first trip to the car to load the diaper and gym bags. Then I come back for Ryan. As I walk out the door, I see a stack of baby diapers lying on the floor. Oh no! Disaster averted! I grab the diapers and carry them out to the car as I lock up behind me.

Jacob is in his carseat, kicking his legs against the passenger seat. I suddenly remember that they won't let him into the sports class if he's wearing crocs. I get Ryan into the car and run back into the house and grab Jacob's sneakers. He'll have to change when we get there because my spin class is starting soon.

I plop into the driver's seat and do a quick mental checklist.  That's when I notice that my water bottle is not in it's usual compartment. UGH! I run BACK into the house and search for it frantically. There it is, on a kitchen counter. I grab it and run back outside, locking the door.

I go two steps further before it occurs to me that I should bring a sweat rag. I sweated so much during my first spin class that liquid was pouring down my forehead, running along the ridge of my nose, and pooling on the floor in front of me. I grab my keys out of my pocket, unlock the door AGAIN, and make a mad dash to grab whatever rag I can find. I get back to my car, hoping that my kids are still there.

Jacob is sitting patiently in his carseat, kicking his legs, and singing the chorus of my favorite Taylor Swift song (score one for mommy!), and Ryan is scowling from his carseat as if to say, "Are you ready YET?!"

We finally get to the Y with three minutes to spare before my class starts. Days like today, when it takes me 60 minutes to get everyone out the door for my 60 minute class, I sometimes feel like it's not worth it. But then I unload my kids and all their stuff at the Childwatch center and the most amazing feeling rushes over me. The feeling of being FREE. For the next 60 minutes, I don't have to worry about anyone else. I can focus on just myself...and the tight biker shorts on the guy riding the bike in front of me.

Before I had two kids, I never in a million years would have saw the gym as a mini-vacation. I could tell people that I go to the Y everyday because I'm training for a half marathon or working to rebuild my abs. But honestly, I go to the Y everyday so that I can have conversations with other adults --conversations that don't revolve around poop. So that, after my spin class, I can take a 20 minute shower BY MYSELF without hearing a baby cry or a toddler ask me for juice five thousand times in a row.

Basically, I go to the Y so that, for even just a short period of time, I can feel like a normal human.  Even if I'm just pretending.


They will be sea-inspired rings!

I painted a sea-polished ceramic shard in Calypso blue...

And a lovely beach pebble got a marine look with a sea-star on it!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Drunken Chicken, Monsoon Style

Last weekend, we ate at Monsoon, a delicious Vietnamese restaurant in Seattle. All the dishes we tried were great. But my absolute favorite was the most popular dish on their menu- drunken chicken. It was so good that it's all I've thought about this past week. I wondered if I could recreate it- or at least come slightly close.

Apparently, there are many versions of drunken chicken. At least this is what I discovered from my google searching. The traditional Chinese dish is marinated overnight in a rice wine sauce and served cold. There is also a version in which the chicken is coated in a beer batter. But I was craving the drunken chicken that I had at Monsoon. It was an american take on the Chinese version. The chicken was deep fried and served with a rice wine sauce.

To make the dish, I started with a traditional Chinese recipe that I found and changed it up a bit. I took the rice wine marinade (an internet source told me I could use dry sherry instead of rice wine) tinkered just a little bit, and reduced it into a yummy sauce. Then I fried the chicken pieces (the Chiense version calls for poaching the chicken) and drizzled the sauce on top.

My first try didn't work so well. But my second try did! The result was fantastic. Of course, it's not JUST like the restaurant (which I HIGHLY recommend) but it's close, at least according to my memory.

2 chicken breasts, cut into 1 inch pieces
3 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup cornstarch
2 cups sherry
1 cup chicken broth
2 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
1 1/2 tsp juice from one ginger
1 1/2 tsp salt
5 tbsp sugar
Cooked rice
Green onions for garnish

1. First tackle the sauce so that the alcohol has enough time to burn off. To get the juice out of the ginger, peel the ginger and shred it. Take the shavings and squeeze them over a bowl. Fresh ginger is pretty juicy! Be careful not to stick to the 1.5 teaspoons of ginger and not use too much. Fresh ginger has a very potent flavor, which I learned the hard way.

2. Combine the sherry, water, soy sauce, ginger, salt and sugar in a pot over medium heat. Bring it to a boil then turn the heat down to let it simmer. Simmer until the alcohol burns off- you have to keep tasting it to know for sure when it's done. It should eventually be sweet with a taste of ginger. The sauce won't really thicken but it tastes fantastic anyway! If I recall correctly, the restaurant's sauce wasn't very thick either.

3. Beat your eggs into a large bowl. Add the cornstarch and whisk until it all combines. The mixture should be thick enough to stick to the chicken.

4. Dip chicken pieces into the coating and drop them into a deep fryer (or you can pan fry them over the stove but you will have to turn them over halfway through).

4. When chicken pieces are golden brown, remove from fryer and let them cool on a stack of paper towels. Place the chicken on a dish and drizzle the sauce on top. Serve over rice and garnish with green onions!

Ryan Says


Do you remember I promised I would show you my work-place by the sea? Well, that's not exactly the view "from" my work-place, but rather the view OF my work-place... Look at the red push-pins: that's where my little jewelry stall is located! And the view FROM my work-place is coming too! Stay tuned! :)

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Poopy Mail, Hostage Candy, And Free Grocery Store Childcare

The thought of keeping up a blog about my kids was really daunting at first. I kept thinking- "What happens if I run out of things to say? What happens if there are no more weird or funny stories?" No need to worry at ALL. I seriously couldn't make this stuff up if I tried. Who knew having two kids created so much craziness.

This morning, Jacob was full of questions:

"This is fascinating!... What does 'fascinating' mean?"

"Mommy, what does 'pain in the neck' mean?"

"Am I supposed to wear my swimsuit in the pool? What happens if I don't? Grandma Cathy let's me be naked in her pool."

When I needed a break from playing teacher, I announced that I was going to get the mail. When I opened the door, Jacob began to giggle. I wondered what he was giggling about but didn't give it too much thought. I stepped outside and smiled at the sun on my way to the mailbox. I soon discovered EXACTLY what was so funny:

Jacob had stuck Ryan's sopping wet, overnight diaper in the mailbox. Ew. I pulled it out by pinching the very edge of it with my fingers (but not before running inside to grab a camera). I really hope he put it in there AFTER the mailman had already come by.

We spent the rest of the morning hanging out and talking to Ryan until he got tired. Ryan has stopped falling asleep in his swing. My electronic babysitter is failing me (NOOOOO!). So I broke my back rocking him to sleep several times. But every time I put him down, he startled himself awake and began to scream. So I picked him up and rocked him again. This has become our new sleep-time routine and it's getting really old. I do not believe in sleep training methods, especially the "Cry It Out" method. But even if I wanted to do one, Ryan is way too young. So, I just chant my mantra of "enjoy the rough times" and remind myself to take pleasure in the fact that I have a kid that actually WANTS to be held.

Fast forward to when Ryan is finally sleeping. This is when I endured a brand new form of torture. Mommy torture: being stuck at home with two crabby boys, KNOWING that there is an entire container of chocolate covered almonds somewhere in the house but not being able to find it because your husband hid it from you!!

Text Messages:

Me: "Where are the chocolate covered almonds?"

Husband: "I hid them from abusive eaters."

Me: "I NEED them. Tell me where they are."

 -- No response--


-- Still no response--


I started tearing apart the kitchen trying to find the secret hiding spot. Unfortunately, all I found was stale, unwrapped Pez candies and a mini chocolate santa.

I glanced down at Jacob's train table...and I saw it! There, glistening atop a wooden train track, was one lonely and forgotten chocolate almond. You have no idea how happy this made me. Finally, a taste! Just a TASTE of chocolate! I scooped it up and realized it was just one of Jacob's polished rocks. My shoulders slumped and I nearly cried in disappointment.

After more text-begging, I still had no response from my husband. So I packed up both kids- even sleeping Ryan- and dragged them all downtown under the pretext of going to the park. This park just happens to be two blocks from an ice cream shop.

It ended up being a great day to visit the park. It was warm out and the fountains had attracted a number of families to splash around in the water. Both kids enjoyed the fresh air. It was awesome. But not as awesome as the ice cream we ate afterwards.

I'm not c-c-cold!

My handsome guy enjoying from a distance.

Because I still hadn't learned my lesson about choosing grocery delivery, I stopped at the grocery store on our way home. Ryan started to fuss as soon as we walked in the door but I was determined to get what I needed for the dinner I had planned in my head. I headed for the produce aisle first. To calm Ryan's cries, everytime I had to stop to pick out an item, I jiggled the cart back and forth while "shushing" him. I know I looked weird but I stopped caring about looking cool at the grocery store long ago.

Eventually, Ryan was done with my pathetic attempts to soothe him. He began to wail. I quickly ran to the baby aisle and picked up the Most Amazing Thing Ever:

Ready-made baby bottles full of formula. A lazy/travelling mom's savior!

I looked around me to see if anyone was watching, then I ripped the package open. I plopped a bottle straight into Ryan's mouth and he was immediately soothed.

But right at that moment, Jacob exclaimed, "I have to pee!"

"You have to hold it for one minute" I said.

"I CAN'T!" He cried dancing up and down holding his crotch.

"Fine. You have to go by yourself then." I said desperately as I shooed him towards the bathroom doors. Just then, one of the grocery checkers stopped by to admire Ryan, who still had a bottle in his mouth. I was really embarrassed about the opened-but-not-paid-for package of bottles sitting right there in the cart but the grocery store employee didn't seem to mind. We chatted for a couple minutes when I realized that Jacob had still not returned.

"My three year old went to the bathroom and he's not back yet." I said, not knowing what to do.

"I'll feed your baby while you go get him." The checker offered.

"OK. Thanks SO MUCH!" I yelled back at the cart as I made a mad dash towards the bathrooms. Really? I just left my two month old (and my wallet) with a random grocery store employee? Mom of the Year Award?

I was just about to enter the Women's bathroom when an older man walks out of the Men's room. "Are you Jacob's mommy?" He asked.

"Yes." I replied, almost out of breath.

"There's a little boy in there who can't reach the sink to wash his hands. He told me his mommy was out here waiting." At that moment, I didn't know whether to be proud that I had instilled such a strong habit of handwashing in my son or frustrated that he couldn't just come out and tell me himself.

"You can go in there," the older gentlemen says, "the Men's room is empty now."

And, for not the first time in my life, heck, not even the first time THIS YEAR, I opened the door to the Men's bathroom and walked right in. (Someday I'll tell you about the time I strutted into a men's bathroom and didn't realize it was the men's bathroom until I walked out of the stall and saw three pairs of puzzled MALE eyes staring me down). I walked into the Men's bathroom, the smell of pee overwhelming, and I saw Jacob standing by the tall bathroom counter, looking helpless. When he saw me, his eyes lit up.

"Mommy! I went into THE.....(he paused for drum-roll effect) BOY'S BATHROOM!"

"Yeah, I know Jake. Here I'll help you reach."

"Can Moms come in here when they need to help boys named Jacob wash their hands?"

"Yes, Jake." I plopped some soap in his hands and helped him scrub.

"Mommy, where's Ry?"

Oh crap! Good question. "Come on, we gotta go!" I grabbed Jacob who was in mid-wipe with a paper towel and whisked him out of the bathroom. Ryan was still there, thank goodness. He was cooing away at the grocery store employee.

"Thank you SO MUCH." I tell her. "For not being a serial killer or pedophile" I added in my head.

Having had enough adventure for one trip, we finished up and paid for groceries. It wasn't until I unloaded the car back at home that I noticed Ryan had picked up a new bad habit. My little petty thief:

Sorry grocery store. We owe you $2.49.

Also, I noticed that my husband had beat us home AND that the container of chocolate covered almonds had mysteriously returned to their rightful place in the pantry.

Off Duty

When you're a mom, time is a currency. And the most valuable and sought-after type of time is time you get to have to yourself. This time is rare and coveted and NOT to be wasted on folding laundry, cleaning out the cat box, or scrubbing dishes. In fact, I'm pretty sure it's a basic rule that when you get time to yourself, you HAVE to be selfish... and go all out.

This evening, something amazing happened. After dinner, my husband offered to take Jacob down to the park. Because I never waste the opportunity to donate a child, I thrust the baby towards him in my outstretched arms. "Ryan wants to go too!" My husband then took both kids (BOTH!) down to the park. It was amazing. As if the stars had aligned and God himself peered through the clouds, reached down, and handed me a "Get Out Of Life for 30 Minutes" card.

As soon as my husband left with the kids, I sank into the couch and sighed deeply. I could surf the web in leisure, take a bath, stare lustfully at the latest Nordstrom catalogue. No one was crying. No one was soiling himself. No one needed me. I didn't have to tip toe around the house and wince with every closing of a door. I was OFF DUTY!

But....What was I going to do?


I was like a child, home alone for the first time. I overloaded on indulgence! The first thing on my list was to go the bathroom BY MYSELF just because I could! Then I ran to the refrigerator and grabbed a can of soda. Happily ignoring my one-can-a-day rule, I threw all responsibility out the window and drowned my stomach in the acidic, temporal pleasures of Diet Dr. Pepper-- cancer in a can. It was amazing. Moderation is SO over-rated.

Then, I grabbed a candy bar that I had been hiding so I wouldn't have to share it with Jacob. (Seriously, why is it that I cannot lose my last couple pregnancy pounds when Jacob eats all my food and I carry a 12 pound infant everywhere I go?). After peeling back the wrapper and destroying the evidence, I returned to the couch, spread out all my limbs, and made sofa-snow angels.

I laid there and reveled in the fact that no one was trying to dive from the arm of the couch onto my stomach. Then I pulled out my computer and read an entire online news article without being interrupted by shouts of "Mommy, can I have some juice? Can I play on your computer? Why do girls pee out of their butt?" At the end of my article, I sat there and just listened to the absolute SILENCE! Who knew silence could be so beautiful!?

Lastly, I passed out. Literally and figuratively. For ten glorious minutes I was able to ignore the dirty diapers on the floor, wrapped like saturated, smelly origami. I became blind to the parade of wooden toy trains strewn across my living room floor. I glanced past the clothes, both dirty and clean, littering my house in random places. I closed my eyes and my soul left both my body and my discheveled house far behind as it soared to the wonderful world of sleep.

When I finally woke up a few minutes later, it was to the sound of a pint-sized human pounding on the door. Instead of rushing to open it, however, I snapped my eyes shut again, feigned sleep, and stole an 45 extra seconds of glorious me-time.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Thai Chicken Skewers

This recipe originated from one I found on Pinterest.  It's pretty simple, though I did make a couple tweaks to the original- adding ginger, combining both soy and fish sauce, and skewering it (faster cook times and more kid friendly). Next time, I'm going to add lime juice to the marinade and/or drizzled over the final product (I heart limes!) and see how that works.

And here it is...delicious chicken in 4 easy steps!


2 chicken breasts
1 tsp minced ginger
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbs low sodium soy sauce
1 Tbs fish sauce
1 Tbs sesame oil
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped

1. Combine ginger, garlic, soy sauce, fish oil, sesame oil and cilantro in a large bowl or ziplock bag.

2. Cut the chicken breast into large chunks (1-2 inches).

3. Place chicken into the bowl of marinade and let it sit for at least 30 minutes in the refrigerater.

4. Heat a grill and skewer the chicken pieces. Grill for about 15 minutes (depending on how hot the grill is and how big your chicken pieces are), turning half way through.


P.S. Kids love eating food on sticks!

Monday, June 25, 2012

From Now On, I'm Choosing Grocery Delivery

This morning was hectic. I whisked all three of us out the door at 8:58 am, just in time to get to the YMCA at 9:15 so Jacob could attend Parachute Games. Remember elementary school gym class? We waited ALL YEAR for our gym teacher to pull out the gigantic parachute. The 30 or so of us, standing in a circle and holding onto the edge of the chute would throw our arms up into the air, sending the parachute to the ceiling. Then we would run under as fast as we could, creating a gigantic tent. That is my favorite elementary school memory! And now I was so excited for Jacob to have a turn.

By the time I got both kids piled into the car and buckled up (a feat in and of itself), I put the key in the ignition. But it wouldn't turn. The steering wheel was stuck causing the ignition-starter hole thingy to lock up. I grabbed the wheel as hard as I could, trying to straighten it up. It was 9:01, time was running short and I was beginning to panic. This was my third attempt to get Jacob to the parachute class after a month of talking up how amazing it would be and DANG IT we were going to get there this time!

I grabbed one end of the wheel and pulled like a mad-woman, groaning and swearing under my breath. Ryan started fussing. Time was ticking away on my cell phone. Jacob, sensing my increasing frustration, began to interrogate me, "Why aren't we going? We're going to be late! I'm going to miss my class! Mommy, why aren't you driving? Mommy, WHAT'S HAPPENING?"

"CHILL OUT EVERYONE!" I was so upset. I really wanted to get Jacob to the class this time. I even woke up EARLY and had spent the past 45 minutes dressing the three of us and organizing the diaper and work-out bags.

"UGH!" I yelled defeated. I got out of the car and started boxing at a random cloud in the sky. "WHY DID THIS HAVE TO HAPPEN TODAY!" Then, giving up, I leaned into the car to grab the diaper bag out of the passenger seat. I rested my arm on the steering wheel and "CLICK." Just like that, the wheel straightened out. My cell phone said it was 9:04. I just might have time to make it. I hopped quickly back into the car and booked it to the Y, driving like a rude, crazy person. We got there at 9:14, one minute to spare!

I breathed a huge sigh of relief as we sauntered up to the childwatch counter. One look at the sign-in sheet told me the awful truth-  Parachute Games started at 10:30 today. I did everything possible to stop myself from pounding my head into the wall.

After dropping the kids off, I attended my first Zumba class. OMG. ZUMBA. LOVE IT. It's hardly a "work-out." It's more like clubbing but without booze and creepy men hitting on you. I'm a total fan! Half the time I couldn't figure out the steps, but that didn't stop me. I slapped on my "duck lips" face and partied it up in the corner doing the macarena to upbeat-clubbing music.

When Zumba finished, I picked up the kids and made a quick stop at the craft store where, against my better judgment, I purchased these:

Battery operated rings that shoot lasers into the air.  Who the heck thinks up these things? Not that I can talk, I did buy them...

Despite painful experience, I haven't quite figured out that I can only run two errands or make two stops on each outing. Whenever I try to do more, something inevitably goes haywire. But I was obviously not in my right mind today as evidenced by the purchase mentioned above (laser rings!). So.....I attempted a trip to the grocery store.

Although I had told Jacob that he couldn't play with the rings until we got home (seriously, it's like giving a kid a ball and telling him not to throw it), the rings had somehow made their way to his fingers by the time we picked out a shopping cart.

As we walked the aisles, every three feet Jacob would bound out of the cart to ask if he could have something.

"Mommy, can I have this can of fruit."

"No. I'm buying real fruit. Get in the car." His eyes caught something farther down the aisle and I saw him get that sparkle in his eyes. "Get in the cart NOW!" Without waiting for him to get all the way in, I wondered to the produce section. "Jacob, do you want some carrots this week?"


I peeked into the cart and see that Jacob's spot is empty. What the heck? "JACOB! JACOB! Where are you?"

He came hobbling around the corner carrying a huge gallon of some pink liquid labelled "11% Real Fruit Juice." "No," I say. "Put it back. Put it back now. NOW! Now get in the cart. STAY THERE!"

We moved onto the next aisle and I saw that the customers in front of us had weird multi-colored dots on their backs. I looked down and saw Jacob pointing his laser rings at everyone we passed. "Jacob, don't point those at people."

He turned his weapons on me:

"Not the face. ESPECIALLY not in the face." My yelling woke Ryan up from his light slumber. Rudely startled awake, he began to cry. "Come on. Ryan is crying, let's go." Unfortunately, pushing the cart did not settle him down.  He kept screaming so I finished my shopping frantically.

Finally, I grabbed the last item on my shopping list. I turned around to put it in the cart and saw Jacob pointing his lasers at the top of Ryan's head, making gun noises, "pew, pew, pew! I shot ya!" He said.

"Jacob. GET IN THE CART. STOP SHOOTING RYAN. DON'T POINT THE LASERS AT PEOPLE!" Did I cover everything? "Oh and get your hands out of your pants!" Now I did. We quickly paid for groceries. Ryan was charming the pants off everyone with his frantic screaming. Maybe he'll be an opera singer? He's got the lungs!

I strolled us quickly out to the car, Jacob's hands were flailing out of the front of the cart, shooting invisible bad guys with his laser guns, "pew, pew!" When we got to the car, I saw a smashed paper cup on the ground, oozing out mysterious bubbling liquid. Knowing Jacob, I forewarned him, "Jacob, there is garbage by your door. DO NOT TOUCH IT."

I opened Ryan's door and stuck him in. I came around to buckle Jacob and found him holding the smashed cup in his hands. "Jacob. I told you not to touch that! Put it down."

"But Mommy, you said not to pick up TRASH. This is a TREASURE!"

AAAAAAH!!! I smacked it out of his hands, fastened him in, and climbed in the driver's seat. The car was burning hot, so I rolled down the windows, hoping Ryan wouldn't get a heat rash. We stopped for a red light at the next intersection. Ryan was still screaming out of an open window and Jacob was waving his hand out of the other, "pewing" everything in sight.

And me.... I was yelling at Jacob every three seconds: "Don't shoot people. I said DON'T shoot people. Get your arm in the car. Don't make me take that away!"


At that precise moment, a group of teenagers stopped at the intersection just feet away. They were all staring in our direction. As they eyeballed us, I totally wanted to sink into the floor board and melt away. Then I had a thought. I should get "Abstinence Education Mobile" painted on the sides of my Subaru and drive around highschools. I ignored the urge to yell out the window, "THIS is why you don't have sex until you're 40, and married so you can share the torture with another human!"

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Where I Prove To The World That I Am Still Human

This was it! The day of my 10 year highschool reunion. How did that happen? Just yesterday my parents were snapping photos of me on their bright sunny deck overlooking Agate Pass. I was wearing the graduation outfit I had spent an hour pulling together- a white sundress and light jean jacket. I'm still not sure that was the best choice, although with my huge-normous bushy eyebrows, it probably didn't matter what I wore. Why couldn't someone, ANYONE, have introduced me to the fine art of brow shaping back then? Letting a girl walk around life with a squirrel tail above her eyes is worse than not telling someone she has blue cake frosting in her front teeth.

I was totally daunted by the challenge of having to go from Sweatpants Mommy to Acceptable In Public And I'm Not Just Talking Walmart in just a couple hours. The reunion was at a bar in Seattle. What do you wear to a reunion at a bar? Dress? Jeans? Tight leather pants? After 30 minutes of googling "what to wear to highschool reunion at a bar," I threw in the towel and decided it would be jeans. Seattle is pretty informal to begin with. Besides, it would be much easier for me to go from 0 to 50 than it would be for me to go from 0 to 100.

Now it was time to pick a top. I grabbed my favorite go-to for special events. There was a huge spit up stain on it. "Oh yeah, I wore this two weeks ago...." I thought as I looked at it longingly. Then I placed it right back on the hanger and into my closet where I could find it and be disappointed again for the next special event. 15 shirts later, I settled on whatever didn't scream "I'm a mommy and haven't gotten dressed up in 11 months!"

Before we left, I glanced in the mirror. I had the jeans, I had the shirt, I had the hair, and I was wearing a lipcolor that wasn't my natural "I just made out with a white crayon." Wow! What a 180! From 4-day-old yoga pants, a stretched out cotton shirt, and greasy hair that had been rubbed with tiny peanut buttery fingers almost normal human. I might have even slipped into a thong as well (without accidentally putting it on backwards first! Extra points!).

We dropped off our kids for what would be our longest time away from them since Ryan was born. I'm not even ashamed to say that I wasn't sad and never had the urge to rush home early to see them. In fact, when I was sipping my all-natural diet cherry coke over dinner, I enjoyed every minute of being able to feed myself with TWO hands...oh, and SILVERWARE! THIS! Is what a human feels like!

After a fabulous dinner with my best friend from highschool and her husband, we headed out to the reunion, purposefully and fashionably late. It was SO refreshing to be "fashionably" late instead of "I had to coax my stubborn toddler out of wearing his Batman cape and my high heels, then the baby dropped a poop bomb on the highway" late.

We circled the block a couple times before finding coveted parking in Capital Hill. As we began to walk up Pike Street, excitement fluttered in my chest. Or maybe that was just the sign that I needed to pump. Or maybe it was both. As we walked, the streets became crowded with loud, jovial pedestrians. We passed two overweight, shirtless men in matching suspenders, leather chaps, speedos, and firemen hats. They were standing on the corner of the sidewalk, laughing loudly. Behind them I saw a group of men wearing booty shorts and sporting neon-colored shirts and glasses.

"Wrong!" I thought. "This is just so wrong. Those men CANNOT look better in booty shorts than I do!" My face burned as I became suddenly envious of the smooth, sleek legs carrying slender, chiseled male bodies. Before we crossed the street, we passed several other scantily clad men and women in flashy outfits. That's when I realized that, no, my former highschool classmates had not all joined a circus and shown up at the reunion in their sparkly and revealing attire. In fact, we had walked into the very heart of the Gay Pride Festival.

When we finally arrived at the bar, it was almost an out-of-body experience to see my former classmates together in one place. While some of their names rolled easily off my tongue, I was embarrassed that I could not name a large number of them. And who were the random, creepy old men walking around?

One look at my super skinny classmates made me suddenly conscious of the 7 pounds I had yet to lose since having Ryan and so I jettisoned my plan for drinking the former football players under the table while I was jacked-up on Ibuprofen and opted instead for a wild night of Diet Cokes and "that's what she said" jokes.

In line for drinks, I chatted up a couple of familiar faces...

"Wow, you've performed five dozen open heart surgeries? And you invented a wedgy adjuster app for the iphone? You're saving orphans in a fourth world country?" Wow, I gasped, genuinely impressed. "Oh me? Well, for the last three months, I've been wiping toddler noses and infant butts. Oh and my son can hiss like a snake. And I can put away a family size bag of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups in four days or less. Ha!... What was that? The sound of your mind being blown? Why thank you!"

I was genuinely happy for all my successful classmates. I thought back to all the dreams and ambitions I had when I was in highschool. Back then, I had looked into the future with excitement and eagerness. I was going to be an astronaut. Piloting the first shuttle to Mars. Or I was going to be a diplomat, traveling across the globe, mingling with foreign dignitaries, speaking a dozen languages. Whatever I did, it was going to be big. And adventurous. And unusual. And I would set the world on fire.

And now, ten years later, here I am. A human sponge for the bio-hazardous liquid of two mini-people. Jumping to their every need. Smiling for them when all I want to do is pass out on the couch. My need for them, the cause of the temporary down-size of my career. Where there used to be an ambitous, ladder-climbing professional, there now is a person who would give up anything to be home by dinner. A person who would give status, paycheck, and socially acceptable outfits to play Thomas the Train Uno with an emotionally abusive three year old while jingling plasting rings in front of a toothless, grinning, poop-bomb.

"So. you're a lawyer right?" My former classmates asked.

"Yes." I would respond. I didn't really want to talk about the lawyer part of me. Sure, it's my job, I truly enjoy it, and I think it's perfect for me. But that's not WHO I am. Since having kids, my identity has shifted from what I do to what I live for. And right now that's the two precious people in my care.

After a bit of chatting, I grabbed my purse and headed for the restroom. Once there, I sat on a couch to pump and made small talk with the girl sitting next to me adjusting her make-up. We chatted for a bit until I accidentally flung milk droplets in her direction while adjusting myself. I guess that's a conversation killer?

I finally joined the reunion again and sat next to my husband and best friend. We looked around the room and saw the same highschool groups forming around each other. It struck me that while it was nice to see people from highschool, I was having more fun hanging out with the guy I see every day- my husband, and my friend who lives just minutes away. The four of us sat there for a couple minutes before exchanging glances that seemed to say, "Wanna find some more naked firemen?"

We left the bar and headed to an icream place around the corner where we dined on delicious fresh icecream.  As we lapped at our dessert, celebrants of Pride Fest ran happily down the street high-fiving us and yelling, "Happy Pride!" We cheered back at them.

Molly Moon's: best ice cream in town!
At the end of our evening, my husband and I walked onto the ferry and chatted as the lights of downtown Seattle slipped quietly away behind us. It had been a good night. Eating with silverware, Half-naked firemen, catching up with people from the past, hanging out semi-topless in the women's restroom, and maple walnut icecream. There was also a little bit of self-inflicted glamour shots:

What else could you want for your ten year high school reunion?

We came home. And I mean HOME, home- my parent's house. I slipped into bed between my husband and my 2 month old. My husband slid his arm under my pillow and I placed mine around the 2 foot human curled up beside me. It was warm. I was happy.

I may not be the astronaut I had planned but I love where I ended up. As I started to fall asleep, my mind drifted between the past and the present. I decided that I was happy to leave the past in the past and to be thankful for now.

Saturday, June 23, 2012


I have finally turned the new pieces I had shown a while back into rings! I created them using gorgeous turquoise polymer clay, seashell beads and little ceramic beads.

This is the first ring...

This is the second ring...

And here is the third ring, with a different kind of shell embedded in the polymer clay...

Thursday, June 21, 2012

"Enjoy The Rough Times" -- A Mommy's Mantra

During one particularly rough night when Ryan was two weeks old, I had a major meltdown. I angrily kicked the tower of poopy diapers collecting by my bed and shouted "shut-up!" to the screaming newborn who was waking me every 1.5 hours. It was definitely my mommy-low. As soon as he was fed, he drifted to sleep. I watched his purple-tinted eyelids fall and flutter softly, like darkness over a harbor of swaying ships. While he slept, his innocence struck me. I was suddenly ashamed of my prior outburst. When I woke up groggy, hours later (probably just 1.5 hours later!), I was still feeling sad about my earlier shouting match with the screaming baby.

It hit me that I was up against many, many more nights JUST like the one I just had. I decided right then to change my outlook on Ryan's babyhood. I didn't want to waste Ryan's one and only year of babyhood being angry or floundering around in frustration. Whenever things got rough, I was going to remind myself that SOMEDAY I will give anything to be right where I am. Since that moment, my mantra has become, "enjoy it, even the hard times."

Today, I had to repeat this mantra MANY TIMES....

The day started out innocently enough. I awoke to Ryan cooing sweetly from his spot beside me in bed. I smiled to myself, eyes still closed, and tried to drift back to sleep. Suddenly, "Twack! Twack! Twack!" I felt a tiny fist socking me in the nose with quick, jerky spasms. I kept trying to dodge Ryan's baby fist-punches but there's not really anywhere to go in a double bed hosting 2.5 occupants. Ugh! "Enjoy the rough times, enjoy the rough times," I whispered groggily as I picked up Ryan and walked to the living room, leaving my hope for sleep far behind me, on those soft, warm, flannel sheets of my bed.

Walking out to the living room, I realized that my back was still aching from when I threw it out days earlier. Slowly and awkwardly, I put Ryan in his bouncer chair while I set out to make some toast. The second I put him down, he emitted a shrill cry. Ugh. I was starving. I tried to ignore his cries for a minute or two. Suddenly, however, his cries turned into to screams, little beacons of despair and horror ("My mommy is ignoring me! My mommy is ignoring me!") stabbed through the air to my eardrums.

I picked Ryan up and tried to make my breakfast with one hand. If someone had entered the kitchen at that precise moment, they would have seen the counter littered with dirty silverware, an opened jelly jar, a loaf of bread leaning out of its packaging like mischevious wheaty dominos, me in my discheveled pajamas holding a screaming baby in one hand, and the other hand, dripping with chunks of raspberry preserves, quickly cramming an entire piece of toasted bread into my mouth.

Long gone are the mornings of sitting down at a table with a breakfast-spread rolled out before me like red carpet, sipping tea and catching up on the news on my laptop while I tried to decide if my greasy hair was bad enough that I had to take a shower. If I had only known back then that hot, uninterrupted showers would someday be as valuable as gold- I would have taken them more often.

Between exasperated sighs, I chanted, "Enjoy the rough times, enjoy the rough times...."

Ryan kept crying so I knew that he must have been tired. With sticky, raspberry hands, I rocked him back and forth. He turned his face into the crook of my elbow, the "tell" that sleepy-time was near. Thank goodness because with each sway, it felt as if someone was stabbing me in the sciatic nerve. His eyes drooped and he was finally out. I hunched down and gingerly placed him in his baby swing. I turned it on and rejoiced. "YES! Freedom!"

I walked away from the swing and he began to stir. Like a gambler waiting for his dice to land, I leaned over the stirring baby. Breath-held and wide-eyed in suspense, I prayed with everything in my being that he would quickly drift back to sleep. Then, like a waking Tyrannosaurus Rex, one of his eyes popped open so suddenly, that I SWORE I could hear his eyelid snap.

"NO!!! PLEASE, NO!" I screamed to myself.

Too late, he was awake. When he realized that I was just standing there, NOT bounding forward to pick his highness up, Ryan's bottom lip quivered. His chin wrinkled like a blue eggfoam roll, and he began to scream once again.

"Enjoy the rough times. ENJOY the ROUGH times!" I muttered through a clenched jaw.

I rocked Ryan again. He fell asleep. I put him down. He screamed. Over. And Over. And Over. This little song and dance played out five times. Finally after the fifth time and three herniated discs later, he had fallen asleep for good.


And then...."Good morning Mommy!" I heard a sweet, enthusiastic voice say.

I turned around and saw Jacob behind me, sopping wet from the waist down. One smell told all- pee. And I'm not sure what troubled me more- the load of pee-drenched laundry that was in my imminent future or the fact that Jacob's sing-songy "good morning" caused Tyrannosaurus-Ryan's eyes to pop open yet again.

I took a deep breath. I told myself to let it go. To take it all in, the good and the bad. "Enjoy....the rough...times!" I said, almost convincingly.

Because experience had taught me that this:

Eventually becomes this: