a new year

2014 was a good one, all things considered. A few highlights:

—In January, A had his second surgery to remove his tonsils. Recovery was a bit rough, including an overnight ER visit where we discovered that he has bad reactions to morphine. We also learned how to pin a child to force them to take their pain meds. But his breathing and sleep are SO much better now and the long few weeks of having a child on my lap nonstop were worth it.

A few weeks later, A began developmental preschool through the district. We had to fight a little to get him in, since he was denied at first, but I’ve never been more glad we asked a second time, went to some meetings, sent some emails. School, more than anything else, has been a huge boost for A’s speech and social development. At his parent/teacher conference, his teacher said he’s completely able to interact and communicate with the other kids. He comes home telling me the name of his new friends. And academically, he is already where they like to see kindergarteners by November (and he still has all of next school year in preschool), so he’s definitely thriving.

1902955_10151982136436395_1105500908_n

Speechwise, he’s come miles from this time last year. Where we still struggled to understand words last year, we’re getting full phrases and sentences. It’s such a joy to be able to know his thoughts and feelings! We still have a long way to go, but he’s doing great. I no longer stay awake at night worrying . . . I know he’s going to be more than okay.

—In February, our beloved Hawks won the Super Bowl. I don’t mind telling you, there were some teary eyes among the menfolk in attendance at our SB Party.

1690087_10151941419706395_1135985673_n

—In March, I began work on my tattoo over at Seattle Ink & Oil. Two months and roughly 27 hours later, my Bird-by-Bird piece is complete. I still can’t get over how beautiful it turned out, how much meaning it carries for me.

o

I also attended a women’s art retreat that helped me connect not only with other women, but also with the benefits of taking time to work with my hands as a way to slow down and encourage myself. I hadn’t been away from the kids for more than an overnight before, and the break was really helpful.

—In May, we began painting the downstairs! It’s going to be awhile before I can get to the upstairs, but in the meantime I have an amazingly bright green kitchen and I LOVE IT. Special thanks to Justin, who allowed me to buy more paint when I had an idiot moment at Home Depot and, in a moment of panic, second-guessed my original choice and bought the wrong green. That’s love, folks.

10247193_10152125772531395_1708222596962649702_n

We also turned 34 together. One of my favorite weeks of the year.

Justin also took me to my first Symphony — a performance of music from Tim Burton films. It was such a great night — I was teary eyed a few times as I took it all in. What meant the most, I think, was Justin showing me he understands me and wants to cheer me on in the things I enjoy.

10464408_10152221385371395_6027430583889929950_n

—In June, I threw my back out. The night before our first getaway from both kids. That part was not so much fun — I have never been in so much pain, except maybe after my car accidents — but we managed a good time anyway, complete with long rambly conversations, movies, a Food Odyssey through Bellingham, and trips to our favorite used bookstores. Our bed and breakfast in La Conner was beautiful, and we bought way too many books, many of which, I am sad to say, I have yet to read.

10402521_10152197186426395_6458210862831167848_n

—In July, we rented a beach cabin in Westport and went on our first family vacation. Justin and I went in with low expectations — worried about how the boys would sleep mostly, but it was a ton of fun and more relaxing than I anticipated. The boys were ecstatic and high on adventure the whole time, and they slept really well after long days spent on the beach.

10410689_10152263122421395_6399731468720986579_n

—August brought a family reunion on Justin’s side, and we loved having Roger (Justin’s brother) and Jenny and their friends come stay with us! We took in a Mariner’s Game, the menfolk cooked for us, and we enjoyed one of the nicest meals I’ve ever eaten at the Salish Lodge. Can’t wait for them to visit again. I always eat good food and drink good wine when Rog and Jenny are around! 🙂

10570310_10152292616362058_9022444252112142887_n

—In September, we decided that whole 3rd kid question.

A went back to school with the world’s best preschool teacher.

We also began speech therapy for F, who also has Apraxia of Speech, though he has a much milder case. Working with a therapist was a challenge for him — he fought it hard, but we realized he will work with me — so for now I’m putting all I learned with A into being F’s speech therapist. He’s growing, little by little. I’m excited for six months from now when we’ll be able to understand a lot more of what he’s saying. In the meantime, our playful, strong-willed second-born finds plenty of ways to let his wishes be known.

—In October, this happened (A was Wall-E, F was Buzz Lightyear):

12751_10152474520566395_4587622484713230845_n

—November brought us to our 8th anniversary — and I got some special news that day. We found out we are expecting a little girl!

I also went on a writing retreat for 3 days in Port Townsend. Still working on creating the time I need to write, but I’m getting there little by little.

—December was busy and just fun. The boys are at a great age for Christmas, and for the first time we got smiles on Santa’s lap.

Oh, and I said goodbye to my Explorer — my high school dream car — and we joined the mini-vanned masses. I want to get a bumper sticker that says “I used to be cool” but the truth is, I love the thing. We bought it used (but barely) with low miles, and plan to drive it to death. For now, I’m feeling fancy with the bluetooth and power doors. And the travel mugs I demanded of our salesman.

***
All in all, 2014 was a good year. Much less of the scary stuff this year — it was less learning about our kids’ challenges and more a matter of continuing to be intentional with the boys on their therapies. We’ve seen tremendous growth and know that good things are ahead. Forget that — good stuff is happening now. They’re smart, funny little boys.

I got a little better at creating some space for myself. Being a stay-at-home-working-mom with kids who have appointments 3 or 4 days each week, it’s easy to let the to-do’s take over. I did projects that were deeply satisfying. I had friends over for Art & Wine nights. I got away for a few days. I got a giant tattoo. And though I felt a little selfish, I also felt parts of me coming back to life that had been dormant since the trauma of A’s early days and the emotional challenges that followed.

Justin made all that happen for me. When I’d bring up retreats, not really knowing if it was feasible, he said “Go!” before he even knew the details. He cheered me on at every turn when I was getting my tattoo done, though it meant long afternoons after work with the kids. He kicks me out of the house if I haven’t been out of the house alone in a few days. He asks me — often these days — if I need a nap when he gets home. Goodness, what a man.

Speaking of him, the other major thing this year: we’re also learning how to be more intentional with each other. Marriage is a whole other game when you’re in the midst of raising littles and I think it’s easy to feel like 2 ships passing, to not appreciate your partner like you should, to feel unappreciated yourself. This year we made time for hard conversations. We had the freedom, thanks to grandparents, friends and a trustworthy nanny, to go out and make good memories together as much as possible. We kept in mind that with #3 on the way, we’ll have less freedom next year, so we’re making the most of this time.

LIfe is messy, imperfect. But I dearly love the people I get to live it with. And in a few months I’ll get to meet the newest (and last) addition to our family. Gratitude isn’t hard to manage these days and I find myself genuinely excited for the year ahead.

Happy 2015, friends. Whether 2014 was an amazing year or a tremendously tough one, I wish you bright days ahead.

I miss the me-too’s

I hate not blogging right now. I miss it, both as a means of reflection/memoir and as a means of connection to other like-minded types.

It’s weird. So many people begin blogging once they start a family. My blog, begun in 2004, has been on life support ever since Ash was born (and let’s be honest, since I did that whole falling-in-love business).

I could say that it’s a lack of time, and it is partially that. For most of 2011, I cared for A during the day and worked my arse off until the wee hours of the morning. It was tough stuff.

But . . . it’s also not being real sure what to write about. My world is smaller than it used to be, my focus much narrower — out of sheer necessity. When I’m not working, I’ve got two main objectives: keep connected to my husband and keep my baby loved and thriving (also, sneak in a nap).

Often — in life and in writing — I feel awkward and self-conscious. These days I often approach conversations feeling like I don’t have a single interesting thing to say (unless you’re interested in how many BM’s my kid had today or how many naps he skipped).

Red cheeks . . . the far-off stare . . . this face means bad things are happening.

Becoming a parent is such an odd change of identity and it happens so quickly. Don’t get me wrong: my heart thrills at being a mama. I seriously dig it. But the moment A let out his first cry, a bomb went off in my life. My previous identity was obliterated. And I’m still trying to figure out what this new building should look like.

Right now the building has 3-inches of undyed hair growout. It has a tiny red speck of nail polish on each big toe, the last remnant of getting “all dolled up” with a sloppy, self-administered pedicure 6 months ago.

Time: my nail-polish remover.

Glam-or-ous.

The messy hair pajama brigade at around 7 am 11 am 4 pm.

Lastly, it’s this: it’s hard to find the right balance of good stuff and tough stuff.

Share only the good stuff (oh-so-tempting!), and I’m presenting this oddly idealized, non-existent mama haven, where every moment is filled with heart-warming baby-gurgling goodness. In addition, my hair and makeup are always done and my teeth are brushed.

(I read this article recently entitled “Facebook Is Making Us Miserable,” and couldn’t help but think that some of that “den of comparison” applies to blogs too. Also interesting is this post, called “Don’t Carpe Diem,” about releasing the pressure to enjoy every single moment of motherhood. Both are great).

Share only the bad stuff, and it sounds self-indulgent. I have several friends who would do anything to be a mama and still aren’t. Somehow it seems rotten to complain in the face of so many blessings.

So I haven’t shared much. I shared some of A’s challenges and milestones, but I remained largely silent on my own. And man, I miss those me-too’s right about now.

So I’m hoping to give this whole thing another shot and get some good conversations going again. I have some fun ideas and I’m oddly excited about the whole thing.

Hope to be back tomorrow.

(I think. Or maybe next Wednesday).

* * *

Have any of you read the articles I mentioned? What’d you think?

 

 

 

 

big update — we’re moving!

We are so excited. After starting the home-buying process earlier this year, we are moving into our very own place in Maple Valley 2 weeks from today!


I never thought in a million years that we’d find something like this in our budget . . . I feel incredibly blessed/spoiled/etc. To have my own office again and room to spare! Wow.

Now, just to finally begin packing. Usually I begin packing the moment I know I’m going to be moving, but with A in the picture and a full workload, I haven’t even started. Mom is coming over to watch A tomorrow, so we’ll have a good chunk of time to get going.

Justin and I keep joking it’s like we’re trying to become grownups all in one year or something.

done… almost

Hey, everyone who may (against all odds) still pop by here from time to time despite my failure to keep up blogging…

We’re doing great up here in The Ham.  Here are a few updates, after which I hope to get back to semi-regular blogging if I can tear myself away from Facebook long enough…

Justin just graduated (yay!) and I am oh-so-close…  I’ll be graduating in March, but I figured out a way to do two correspondence courses this coming quarter.  As a result, I’ll only have to be on campus a couple of hours each Tuesday and Thursday with a prof I really admire.  Easy, peasy.

I finished finals this past Tuesday and then had the rest of the week off work.  I have been reveling in the extra time.  How do I revel in extra time, you ask?  I’ve been on an OCD rampage for nearly a week — cleaning out neglected drawers, de-linting sweaters, organizing our game chest — you know, all that important stuff.  I can see most of my desk here in the office for the first time in about two months.  Ahhh.  That’s better.

I’ve also been doing large amounts of cooking and baking.  Which, for Justin, helps to offset the fact that so much of my time has been spent, say, trying out all the pens and markers in our pen box to see which ones need to go.

Justin and I treated ourselves to a used bookstore visit a few days ago.  It’s fantastic, to have the time available to actually read the books we purchased.  I finally read Little Prince to the end, knocked out The Catcher in the Rye for the first time, and since we bought a pretty version of Love in the Time of Cholera rather than the hideously ugly one Justin had picked up a while back, I think I’ll be finally able to give that one a good shot.  I know it seems silly to, um, judge a book by its cover, but this copy is beeee-yutiful.  It’s hardcover and has those cool uneven page edges and everything.

It seems I am not a good candidate for the Kindle.  I like my cool uneven pages.  Grace knows what I mean. 

By the way, don’t bother with the movie version of LitToC.  It was awful.  I made Justin stop it about forty-five minutes in because I didn’t want to have the movie’s lameness stuck in my head when I finally got around to finishing the book.  Yikes, it was bad.   

A few others I picked up:

Anecdotes of Destiny and Ehrengard by Isak Dinesen.  Includes “Babette’s Feast,” which I’ve been wanting to read for quite a while.

Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov –This falls into the category — “should’a read a long time ago.”  Continuing on with the weird fascination with how books are presented, I was able to find an Everyman’s Library version.  This makes me quite happy.  They have the little ribbon in the middle to use as a bookmark.  I never end up using it, but knowing it’s there.  That’s the thing.

Arcadia: A Play by Tom Stoppard — this was a recommendation from one of my favorite lit profs.  I have a list about six pages long from Dr. M, listing what he considers the best of literature from ancient writers to today.  It’s in ten-point font.  Might take me a while to work through it.

And this last book, Excerpts from a Family Medical Dictionary, is by Rebecca Brown, a woman I had the privilege of meeting when I was at the writer’s conference over the summer.  For several years, she was a home care worker for people with AIDS (though fiction, she drew on her experiences when writing The Gifts of the Body) — and then she ended up caring for her own mother during the last six months of her battle with cancer.  This book chronicles that journey.

Rebecca is one of the warmest, most human people I’ve ever had the opportunity to sit at a breakfast table with.  Check out her stuff.

* * *

Alright, kids, I think that will do it for now.  Hope you’re enjoying the holiday season (I find that to do this, you just need to avoid going out as much as possible).  More soon, if all goes as planned.  Which it frequently doesn’t.

* * *

Oh — one last thing.  The hubby and I are all signed up to go to the Writer’s Conference this coming summer… together.

I’m still alive

Hi friends!

So… school craziness hit me a little earlier this year than last.  Last year, I wasn’t burned out until about week five of Spring quarter.  This year, it hit me about week three of Fall quarter.  Oops.  It’s probably an extremely fortunate thing that I graduate in March and not June.  I’m enjoying my teachers and my classes for the most part and I know I can do the work — I’m just ready to be done. 

Last year, when the hubs and I had the same schedule and even had a couple of classes together, I saw being in school as this idyllic kind of time, reminiscent of when we were buddies at school ten years ago.  Now that we’re on very different schedules and I’m riding the bus and our apartment is thrashed and we’re back to zero social life, I’m looking forward to finishing this hectic season and calming things down a bit. 

I know, deep down, that our lives aren’t going to get less complicated by any means — life just doesn’t tend to work that way, and things always seem to be moving faster and faster.  But when we’re not trying to balance school on top of marriage and work, it might be a simpler kind of complicated (at least, this is what I tell myself.  Leave me to my illusions, at least til school is done). 

Then we’ll toss kids in the mix at some point and seriously give ourselves an aneurysm.

(Yes, that sentence just came out of my mouth, er, fingers, and it sounded weird to me, too.  Dear God!  We should not be allowed to be official grownups.  People who joke about naming their firstborn “Bloodface” are clearly not qualified for parent-dom).

***
In other news, is anyone else ready for the elections to be over? 

There’s a tension in people — I sense it at school, in our patients at work, all over the place.  It’s been tough not to let it be a huge emotion-and-energy suck.  I’m not good at insulation.  I struggle not to get defensive when I get all sorts of email forwards talking about how “we” Christians need to vote our values come November 4 — and it’s clear in the emails who “we” need to vote for.  And those are the nice ones.  Don’t get me started on the ones talking about the dangers of Obama the socialist and Obama the Terrorist Pal.  Sigh.

I find myself identifying less and less with “we” all the time.  It’s probably a good thing.