Thursday, August 23, 2012


We've had some kind of heavy conversations and play around here lately. It started when we had to put Simon to sleep; I explained in very general terms to the kids what was going to happen. Pacey accepted it and moved on, but Brighton has had more questions as time goes by. She thought, for instance, that he went to sleep and woke up as someone else's dog (well, I mean, who knows right?) and was really sad that he isn't OUR dog anymore. She has shown surprising compassion for Huff, giving him far more love and attention than ever before. Today she told me he looked worried, and said he was wondering where Simon was. I guess I didn't anticipate how much of this she'd be working over in her mind over time.

Then the kids started watching a Land Before Time movie (the second, I think, there seem to be about 10 of them) and there is a story line about some of the parent dinosaurs dying. Since then, dying has featured as a theme in various ways through our day. The other night Brighton was laying down in the bathtub with her eyes shut and I asked if she was tired. "No, Mom," she said, "I'm just pretending I'm dying." I won't lie, that was pretty unnerving. She lays her dinosaurs down and says they are dead or dying and believes that pouring water over them will save them. Today at a playdate she presented me with a stuffed horse and informed me in a sad voice that he had died. The other mom looked a little unnerved too. I haven't really given much of a response to these things, and she doesn't particularly seem to be looking for one.

I'm surprised at how squeamish I feel on the topic. I've tried to answer her questions (which have been relatively few, thankfully) honestly and only give her the information she's really after. She doesn't seem upset by any of it, and I don't actually think she really grasps what death means yet. We've been so incredibly fortunate that our friends and family have stayed healthy and safe and we have not yet had to discuss the concept of people dying, but I don't think it's far away. More than the subject of death, I'm REALLY uncomfortable with discussing violence and killing. I posted on Facebook awhile back that Brighton was asking very detailed questions about the gun that came with a Playmobil pirate and what it is used for. I wrote that I'd significantly prefer questions about "how babies get in mommies' tummies" to questions that lead to the loss of a little bit of their innocence. Already Brighton will make a toy aggressively advance towards another and threaten to "die them." I can only assume this comes from the episode of Babar involving the hunter killing his mother I inadvertently let them watch (oops). I don't know where else she would even have the concept of violence from.

It's really fascinating to watch how kids process things. I can see how Brighton is working out her place in the world, and it's fun to see her perspective widening a little. When she wants to grow up, she tells me, she'd like to be a unicorn with a rainbow mane that goes to Mars. And she'd also like to be a mommy. There's plenty of light here to balance out the heavy but once again I am struck by the enormity of the task of raising this little person.


Pacey, on the other hand, seems almost to be becoming more self-aware these days (heh, not something my girl child has ever been lacking in). He's always been a really compassionate kid, quick to comfort others and really never goes out of his way to be intentionally mean. And while he will stand up for himself, it doesn't seem like he's the type of person to put himself first. He is getting better and better at advocating for himself though, and with his increased language I'm starting to understand him a little more (as in, understand what makes him tick, as well as purely comprehending what he's saying). The other night we were getting his pajamas on and he asked me about the scars he has on his belly. There's a line across his right side where he had his initial abdominal surgery as well as a puckered little starburst of a scar where his g-tube was placed. He's never asked about them before, but I explained that they were scars from when he was a baby and doctors helped make him well. I don't know how much of it he absorbed, but I love that he's developing an interest in himself.

Thinking about his scars definitely led me down a path of remembering his first year and what a genuine miracle it is that he is thriving in the way he is today. I look at this enthusiastic, cheerful, energetic, funny kid and I sort of can't believe he is the same baby that was born so small and faced so many challenges and discomforts. I am so very very grateful that I get to know him at all, and even more so that he is becoming more able to share his world with us.

Friday, August 17, 2012

A Day in the Life - August 2012

Feel free to skip this post, it's probably dull as dishwater to anyone but me. I've seen lots of bloggers do this and I like the idea of looking back one day at what the rhythm of our days was like during this season. I am going to try to do it three or four times a year and hope to build something fun for the kids and I to look back at. 

5:30 I wake up to a little face staring at me silently in the dark. "I want to sleep with you, Mom," whispers Brighton. She knows she's not allowed to sleep with me at night, but at 5:30 am it's too early for the fight I know would ensue if I tried to walk her back to her room. She snuggles into me and promptly takes over my entire pillow. I doze uncomfortably for another hour.

7:00 Having finally fallen back asleep, I wake to the sound of running water. This doesn't compute as Chris is already getting dressed after his shower; after a minute I realize it's absolutely pouring outside. On rainy mornings it feels like a real luxury not to have to be anywhere specific. Pacey's up now too and both kids are in phenomenally good moods, giggling and jumping around. I grab a cup of coffee and set the kids up watching a hideous princess movie Brighton picked at the library while I have a shower.

Huff hasn't quite roused himself yet

7:45 Pacey has had his fill of lame princess animation so he's taken over the computer in the kitchen. His proficiency is amazing and somewhat terrifying. Our elementary school has a beautiful Mac lab so I'm happy he will go in familiar with computers and ready to get real benefit from the resource. I empty the dishwasher and start some laundry to the sounds of the PBS Kids website.

8:00 Brighton has finished her princess movie and comes out to help me make some monkey bread. I have a friend coming over and the rainy morning is begging for something cinnamon-y baking in the oven. My mother--in-law has always given us traditional gifts for each anniversary; the ninth anniversary is the pottery one and so she sent us a pottery monkey bread pan. It's required some creativity on her part! I was happy to be able to use the pan. We put it in the oven, I get the kids some breakfast and sit down to answer some emails.

9:30 My friend and her two-year-old son arrive. She and I are on the Board of our MOMS fact, I took over the president position last month. Our budget is due to the International chapter this month so we need to look over some numbers. I'm not great with financial things, especially as I don't know the ins and outs of non-profits but we manage to put something together in between mediating arguments over toys. My friend is due with a baby girl in a few months and I don't envy her having to chase after a two-year-old right now.

11:00 Despite the fact Chris told me several times he'd be home at 11:00, my heart leaps into my throat when I hear someone bust into the mud room. He runs through on the phone and goes to change clothes; his boss gave him some tickets to the Twins and a friend has just turned up in a Mercedes with a driver to chauffer them to the game. Nice life, eh?? (just kidding, he's been working really hard lately and deserved an afternoon off!)

Running off to the game

11:15 I start preparing some things for dinner, knowing that we'll be in a time crunch at the end of the day. We're having stir-fry so I am dry frying some tofu to marinate. This is the first method I've used successfully to prepare tofu and even my carnivorous husband has been willingly eating it. It takes a little time but is worth it.

11:45 My sister calls on her way into work. She has a commute and a couple of times a week it works out for me to keep her company while she drives. It's a good time to catch up and we have a good chat. Much as a I hate not living nearer, I think we actually talk more now than we did living 5 miles apart. Talking to her distracts me from the fact that I am preparing the seven thousandth identical lunch for the kids: chicken nuggets for Pacey and a quesadilla for Brighton. If there was one thing I could outsource in my day, it would be preparing kid food, no question.

Mmmm, sweet and sour tofu

12:45 I make a quick sandwich for myself and start preparing the list of documents we'll need to refinance our house. I quickly get frustrated at the fact that my best efforts at maintaining organized files still don't make this an easy process. So many different documents from so many different places and requires remembering a zillion different log-ins and passwords. I really have to figure out a safe way to put all that information somewhere. I find everything eventually except for our tax returns from last year, which are nowhere to be found. ARGH. I make a note to ask Chris to help track down a copy.

1:15 I realize we need to leave for swimming lessons in five minutes and no one and nothing is ready. I run around gathering swimsuit and towel, snacks and drinks for afterward. I tell the kids approximately 479823 times to please put their shoes on. We fly out the door with just enough time to get to the pool.

1:40 Brighton has her swimming lesson while Pacey plays the iPad. I signed him up for a session too but naturally he got sick and we will have to try again later this fall. Brighton has done really well and she'll move on to the next level in September. I have a chat with the woman who coordinates all the lessons. She is incredibly helpful and friendly; I'd like to make sure that whoever is her boss knows what a great job she does.

She's the little one on the right. Look at those
straight arms!

After a warm shower to stop the shivering

2:30 Pacey requests ice cream so I bargain with the kids: if we can make a quick trip to Target with no fuss, we'll get ice cream after. They are actually pretty good in Target and the deal is sweetened for them when I agree to buy them each a pair of goggles (or "dobbles" as Brighton calls them).

3:15 We drive across the street to Dairy Queen where the kids each get a "brown ice cream." I regret the day I ever introduced the idea that ice cream came in any color but white. Thank goodness for good stain removers.

Two little monkeys

Pacey was standing up in the booth and I told him to sit
down. He deliberately sat down ON the table and this is the
look he turned to give me: "what are you going to do about

3:45 We have 45 minutes until Pacey needs to be at speech therapy, and I know that B could do with a nap. We drive around looking at fancy lakeshore homes until she's asleep and then we go park at the therapy center. Pacey plays iPad, B snoozes and I browse the internet.

4:30 I run Pacey into therapy and apologize profusely to his therapist for completely forgetting our appointment yesterday. At the start of the summer we changed his morning appointments for afternoon ones and I have had the HARDEST time remembering. Adding in swimming lessons further threw me off. She is understanding as always and I head back to the car to sit with my sleeping girl.

Sleepy girl and one very raggedy blankie

My little yogi

5:00 B is awake and we retrieve Pacey from the center. They both take FOORREEEVVVER to walk across the stepping stone path from the door to the parking lot. The therapy center is the same building that houses Brighton's preschool and this stupid path causes my blood pressure (as well as all the other parents') to spike all through the school year and especially during the winter. Stupid meaningful decorative touches.

5:30 Home now and I feed the kids dinner while I continue folding the mountain of laundry I washed today. C texts me to say that he's eating dinner before the car brings him home so I postpone the stir fry til tomorrow evening and make a quick dinner for myself.

I lure the kids into the tub with the promise of trying out their new "dobbles." Bath time is relatively peaceful for a change and we proceed through the bedtime routine without incident.

8:00 The kids are in bed and I relax with a glass of wine and the newest season of Dexter on Apple TV. One of my absolute favorite parts about not having an infant anymore is my uninterrupted evenings. With occasional exceptions, once the kids are down they are down and we can relax for a couple of hours before bed.

10:00 Lights out (and thank goodness because I'm tired of typing this. If you actually made it to the end, bravo!)

Monday, August 13, 2012

Another Monday

Oh man, sometimes a well-planned weekend just hits the spot. This one was the perfect mix of family time and couple time, fun and productiveness, activity and bumming around. I got my girls' night out, we hit up a county fair, had a date night at home, got some jobs done around the house and even got to "sleep in" until 7:00 am one morning. Oh, and I found a coupon for $15 off a Wittlebee box which I've been intrigued by but reluctant to try for $40. Man I love me some bargains on kids' clothes!

To celebrate, I thought I would finally post some pictures from my vacation. It's kind of hard to look at them because it makes me sad knowing I won't see my sister and her family for awhile now. It was a great trip though, and gave me much more hope for fun travel as a family in the future than any of the other semi-disastrous trips we have taken to date.

Riding the airport light rail on the way to
the train station. BART was kind of loud
for Pacey's preferences, but I think they
enjoyed it in general

Cousins bonding over the iPad

Riding the carousel at Fairyland in Oakland. The kids
loved the park. I...did not.

Super secret Cousin Club meeting

All three kids asleep on the way to Monterey. They didn't
even make us pay for this (too much).

Pool time in my sister's neighborhood pool

This kid loves the water as long as he can stick to you like a barnacle


The kids and their Teetee

A picture! Of all three of us! And we are all looking at the camera!

Fun afternoon at Tilden Park in Berkeley

It can be hard to get a real, genuine smile from Pacey but we managed it

Day 2: a veritable feast of "real" Mexican food (i.e. without Norwegian
flair). I ate most of a burrito the size of my arm.

Triple trouble at the Oakland Zoo

Pacey adores elephants and this was his first time seeing them "live." 

Splash park in Concord. 

Friday, August 10, 2012

7 Quick Takes for Friday

1. I've been out of sorts lately. Not feeling energized or motivated, but restless at the same time. Patience is in seriously short know when you used to spend the entire weekend with your best friend and by Sunday you were both a little sick of each other? I think the kids and I feel a little like that. Just kind of sick of each other's company. August is kind of a strange month. There's a subtle change in the air so it doesn't feel like summer anymore, but it's not fall yet. There is lots of transition on the horizon but nothing actually changing yet. The weather is a little unpredictable and moody; sort of fitting I suppose. Only a few more weeks until school starts and I am counting down.

2. I'm starting to wonder whether I need to get Brighton's hearing checked by an audiologist. Her pediatrician checked it in the office at her 3-year well check but she either didn't *get* what she was supposed to do or couldn't actually hear. Lately she's asking me to repeat myself ALL. THE. TIME. Sometimes even multiple times. The thing is, she also hears me asking Pacey to repeat himself a lot. He is still difficult to understand and doesn't have a particularly loud speaking voice so it's hard for me to hear/comprehend him a lot of the time. So I don't know if she's just developing a habit based on that or is actually having difficulty hearing. It would be easy enough to get checked, but I feel like we've spent an awful lot of time in various medical offices lately and I sort of just don't wanna. Anyone have experience with this in an otherwise healthy/normally developing 3-year-old? She hasn't had an ear infection in more than a year...

3. Speaking of the girl child, I am feeling very out of my depth parenting her lately. She's...well, honestly? She's not very pleasant to be around. Her default response setting right now is Grating Whine, even if she gets the answer she wants. She is extremely reactive and dramatic and tends to fall apart over seemingly small things. Managing her sleep has been tricky...I am very protective of my evenings and so I tend toward not enforcing nap/rest time lest bedtime be pushed back but it's really not working too well. I'm hoping we land in a better place this fall and in the meantime I am reading this book for advice. I'm not very far in, so thoughts to come at a later date. It's a really good thing she's so cute.

4. My parents are coming to visit and I can't wait!! It'll be a great opportunity to get out and explore some new places with additional hands to help with the kids. I am going to do my level best NOT to be sick this year so we can all hit the state fair together. P and B are really excited to see their Nana and Papa.

5. I am going out with friends tonight. The timing could NOT be better for a night out, change of scenery and much needed girl time. Now I just have to negotiate with my husband to get him to take the early shift with the kids tomorrow morning (they are still waking up at 6:00 on the dot - or even earlier sometimes).

6. I made a decision about Pacey's school schedule for kindergarten; I didn't realize how much it had been weighing on my mind til I talked to C about it and we came to a decision. I had intended to have him attend the standard kindergarten session here (half days - AM session is from 9:33 - 12:08) and then attend an optional afternoon session three days a week. There are several advantages to doing that, but I was subconsciously really worrying that it was asking too much of him to go from three half-days a week in a school he was familiar with to five mornings and three afternoons in a new school. There is still the option of extending his days later in the year if we feel comfortable with that. Next year, obviously, he will go all day every day so I am feeling less like pushing him forward into it at least until spring semester. I still have to make some decisions about how much therapy time and other activities we are going to try to keep up during the school year. He's made such wonderful progress with his speech this summer and I wish I knew how much was a result of his private therapy vs. other factors. As always, I feel exceptionally lucky to have so many options to consider but still feel the weight of being the one to decide.

7. I used to buy a lot of kids' clothes ahead in larger sizes before we moved to MN. When we began living somewhere with more distinct seasons it got harder to predict who would need what when and I stopped stocking up ahead. That means both kids need entire fall/winter wardrobes this year. They have both grown so much and changed shape such that I can't even buy online...we are going to have to actually go into stores and try things on. I can see B getting into the spirit (although I am SURE we will disagree on what is seasonally appropriate) but pretty much can't think of anything Pacey would rather do less than try on clothes. And? I'll more likely than not be shopping in the Big Boys sections. Weep.

Happy Weekend everyone.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

My House is My Home; My Home is My Family

So I mentioned awhile back that we had our house on the market. We didn't need to move, but we figured we would put it on and if we could sell it fast for a good price, maybe we'd take advantage of low interest rates to get into our Forever Home.

Clearly, seeing as I agreed to put a house up for sale when I didn't need to, I had NO IDEA just how much it sucks. The entire 2.5 months it was on the market I was cataloguing the myriad ways it sucked so I could come here and complain about it. I thought about it, though, and decided that 1) hellllooooo First World Problem, and 2) anyone who has ever sold a house is well aware how much it sucks and anyone who hasn't....well, let's just keep that a nice surprise for you someday.

In the end, we came close to a deal a couple of times but all the houses we were interested in buying had already sold and the whole thing started to feel a little pointless. We took it off the market a week or so before we left for vacation and I am not sure I have EVER breathed a bigger sigh of relief. It's a huge amount of work keeping a house ready to show at a moment's notice, but more than that I really hated not feeling like I had my sanctuary. We are Home People. We like to be at home, hanging out. We eat the vast majority of our meals at home and feeding my family is one way I have learned that I express nurturing. I like being surrounded by the objects and photos we've collected along the way (though we are definitely not knick-knack types). For the most part, it's a safe place where I can relax my eagle eye on the kids and know they'll be ok.

Preparing a home for sale in this country seems to mean making it as impersonal as possible; photos come down, personal design aesthetics should disappear and really you're supposed to provide a neutral backdrop for potential buyers to imagine playing THEIR lives out on, rather than giving any little glimpses into how you've spent your time in the home. My mother-in-law marveled at the process when she was here...apparently in England it is not uncommon for owners themselves to show the home and there is not the same requirement to keep the home immaculate.

Anyway, all this to say it is a huge relief to have our space back to ourselves. I always prefer a tidy house, but I typically do NOT mop the floors every single day. The day after we took it off the market Chris cooked smelly Indian food for us and I am reveling in being able to cook whatever I want without worrying about lingering food smells. Our photos are slowly going back up on the walls, though we have yet to re-hang our gallery wall (I've decided to take the opportunity to update it which means it *might* be back up before the end of the year). Sometimes I even leave underwear on the floor in my bathroom, just because I can.

I don't regret the experience because I think we learned a lot about the process and about our particular home and what we'd need to invest in should we decide to give it another go next year. We have also identified a few things we really don't like about the house that we CAN change, and will start slowly tackling those as we have time/energy/want to spend the cash. I just couldn't be happier that it's done and we have our Happy Place back.


I've always been prone to homesickness. When I was a kid, I don't know how many times my parents came to pick me up in the middle of the night because I couldn't stop crying to sleep. It's not that I didn't have fun at friends' houses, I just always imagined the normal scene at my own house and longed to be there. It still hits me sometimes...I've been on lovely vacations before and really just wanted to be back at home.

This recent vacation was different though. Chris and I took different flights out there since he was flying for work (lord help me), and he met up with us late in the afternoon on the first day of the trip. The kids and I arrived at my sister's house after the flight and an hour-long train ride. I'd never been to the area she lives in now and had only seen a few pictures of her new house. We started to get settled in but I was having a few of the familiar pangs of "I wish I was at home right now." As soon as Chris arrived in the afternoon, however, all traces of the feeling disappeared. I had my family around me - with the added bonus of my sister, brother-in-law and nephew - and it felt like I was back at home.

Sometimes I wonder whether it has less to do with being a certain place than with being a part of things. Perhaps it's a middle child thing...I don't want to be the center of attention (EVER), but please don't leave me out! I feel a similar feeling when I'm at a wedding or visiting a friend that has a new baby. Although you're invited to bear witness to these events, you're not really part of them. It's not like I WANT to be a part of someone else's intensely personal experience...maybe it's partly the realization that those events are over for me and it's more nostalgia than anything else.

ANYWAY, badly described in a terribly rambling manner, but it's very comforting to know that my sense of home travels with me now in the form of my three most important people.