22 Jul

I have been interested in photography since before Max was born,  but have never really had the right kind of camera to take great photos. My dad is a photographer and my whole life was always in my face with a camera.  Now I am doing the same to my kids! My brother in law (M’s brother in law.  Is he still also my brother in law? The labels are confusing) kindly loaned me, with the option to purchase, a mirrorless style camera which is fancier than a basic point and shoot camera but doesn’t do quite everything a giant dslr camera does.  So far I love it! I am a total novice just trying to wrap my sleep deprived brain around concepts like aperture,  iso and shutter speed but still I am getting great pictures.  For example:





Yesterday I took the boys downtown on the bus.  We went to the aquarium,  which was fun although Mars’ incredibly short attention span made it hard to see the fish as much as I had wanted. We took a ride on the carousel on the pier and the kids both fell asleep in the stroller and I got a chance to walk through a bit of the Nordstrom sale before we checked out a Summer play area complete with live music before taking the bus home.  It was a fun and exhausting day. 


To stay at home or to work?

14 Jul

On the internet there seems to be a lot of hand wringing and fighting about whether working vs stay at home moms are “better”.  I am having my own personal mommy war in my brain.  It’s been seven months since my job ended and I have applied for a few things but haven’t tried *that* hard to get a new job.  I am truly conflicted about whether I want a job at all.  The thing is, financially it doesn’t make that much of a difference for us.  By the time we pay for childcare and gas I’d wouldn’t be making all that much money, and with how very many days at least one child has been sick in the past 8 months I’m not sure I would have actually made it to work very much.  I also agonize over the options for childcare, mainly because Max is so sensitive and tortured by being left in a new situation with new people (he still sometimes freaks out when I leave him at his loved preschool).  I know he would eventually adapt but it still hurts.  And I want to be the kind of mom who goes on field trips and helps with homework after school and is on time to pick them up from school.  So just stay home right? I MISS WORKING.  I’ve been in kind of a funk lately.  I just miss work, talking to grown ups, using the knowledge I spent five years, hard work and a ton of money to obtain.  And then I feel guilty because my kids are only going to be little once.  Later I feel panicked that the longer I don’t work the harder it will be to get a job later (already in one interview I had the woman said, “what have you been DOING for the past six months?”)  M tells me I should just be pursuing places I might want to work in case something opens up, but I have neither the time, nor energy for long term planning like that.  I’ve applied for a few things as they come up, but most part-time jobs seem to be 3-4 days a week and involve an hour each way driving.  I’m not sure I want to be away from the kids for so long.  I miss my old job, where two days a week I was gone for maybe 9 hours, and I started early so I was home by 4pm.  But my old job was a contract that ended with no more funding for me now so I can’t get it back.  And there is part of me that wants to be at home.  In a year both kids will be in preschool part of the day and then perhaps I will have more time to pursue things I want to do.  In the meantime I need to figure out things I can do to keep me from going crazy.  I’m still applying for things as they come up but the opportunities are few and far between and the likelihood of me finding the right fit and actually get hired is low.  And it varies from day to day how I feel about that.

One thing that I’ve discovered is Mars and I can not sit at home while Max is at school.  When he was littler he would play or snuggle with me while I watched tv in the background.  He is no longer content to play alone at home and has tantrum after tantrum because he wants to play outside in the front of our house (which is currently under construction and not the safest place).  So we go to the gym, the store, the park—anywhere but home (shudder to think what we will do when the weather gets crappy again).  He still screeches at me while Max naps—not much I can do about that.  Mars lately has been taking one, 60 min nap and that’s it.  Max will usually sleep 1.5-2 hours or longer, but Mars (who frankly is the one I could use a break from) wakes up just as I finally get Max down for his nap.  It is this juggling that exhausts me, the tantrums and insistence on doing things that are not allowed or unsafe.  It wears me down.  Once Max is up to play with Mars is much happier , and they sometimes play very nicely together (other times Max doesn’t want Mars anywhere near him or Mars just destroys whatever Max is trying to build or do).

They are mostly fun and funny and sweet and as much as I complain about being tired I love being their mom.  I had a date with Max on Sunday night and we went to see “Minions.”  It was nice to have some one on one time.  Mars is still passionately territorial when it comes to me and will throw himself into my lap if Max is coming near me, and still gets upset every time we go to the chiropractor even though you’d think he would be used to it by now.  They are funny guys.

Weird Fun

27 Jun

I am realizing that traveling with small children is always going to be at best a mixed bag.  We decided pretty last minute to spend the weekend at Ocean Shores,  primarily because it was supposed to be in the 90s this weekend in Seattle (unusually hot for June) and the beach would be cooler.  We had a hard time finding a place to stay last minute, but finally found a place that isn’t a hotel exactly,  more like a cluster of stand alone tiny houses.  The place was over priced,  given that it had some quirks.  The biggest annoyance to me was that the bedroom windows (which are high up and strangely shaped) don’t have curtains,  so it was impossible to get Mars to sleep before 9:30 when it finally started to get dark.  It also apparently smells like dog hair to which M is allergic,  and when we tried to bathe the sand covered children we discovered the bath tub stopper doesn’t work,  and we were given four bottles of conditioner but no shampoo or soap except for hand soap.

Saturday morning we set out around 9 in search of breakfast.  We had a hard time even finding a place and then when we did they told us it could be over an hour before we would get food.  We found a second place with a horribly disorganized system,  a long line and minimal tables.  It was over an hour before we got to eat there too,  by the time we finished breakfast it was 11am. We bought some food for lunch at the grocery store and headed to the beach. When we arrived the previous evening (after abysmal traffic) it was really cold and windy and I worried we would freeze all weekend but Saturday it was sunny and lovely.

The beach was perfect.  Perfect temperature, not crowded, and we had fun building sand castles and playing catch.  Mars was starting to meltdown so we packed up and drove an hour to Lake Quinault, while the boys slept in the car.  

The lake was beautiful but way too hot, and by the time we left it was dinner time.  By the time we found a restaurant it was 7pm and the boys were over tired and over stimulated and both being insane.  Neither one ate his dinner and they were loud, bouncing around, throwing sugar packets and emptying the salt shakers.  It was not a fun meal.

Sunday morning we found a playground and then headed home with a stop at the Tacoma Children’s museum.  It was fun but also exhausting and good to be home.

Father’s Day and a minivan

23 Jun

I had an awesome Father’s Day weekend with my parents.  They came up on Wednesday and stayed through Monday.  We went to the zoo and a strawberry festival with the kids, and even better, on Father’s Day while the kids went to the Museum of Flight with M and his Dad, my parents and I went downtown to the Experience Music Project (a museum allegedly about music but also containing random other entertainment exhibits). 

Then we took the monorail to the central part of downtown, did a little shopping and had lunch before heading back.  It was a wonderful day—I don’t see my dad very often (he’s in school training to become an Occupational Therapy Assistant so he can’t get away that often) and I don’t think I’ve had an outing with just my parents in a decade or more.  It was also badly needed adult conversation time, since I have been trapped at home with the kids for a month.

We also bought a minivan this weekend, though unfortunately it wasn’t ready in time to save my parents from having to take turns wedging themselves between the boys carseats in the back of our Jeep Cherokee.  Next time they come we will have space for everyone!  So far I like it.  It is a lot easier to get the kids in and out, though I am not yet used to driving it and it makes me nervous when I have to park or drive in a tight space.  We will be selling our car and keeping the Jeep since we don’t commute long distances anymore, but I am sad to see it go—I really like driving the small car (though now that I’m not working I don’t do it much anymore).

This week we are finally back to our routine.  I went back to the gym, Max is at school, and we have several playdates lined up.  It was a tremendous relief-   let’s all cross our fingers we stay well for awhile.

Max turns 3.5 today.  I took a picture of him to compare to the one I took on the first day of school and it is astounding how much he has grown in the past 9 months.

Pox part 2 and a test drive

19 Jun

As I suppose was inevitable, two weeks to the day after Max came down with the pox, Mars had them too.  The first day there were just a few and I hoped it would be a mild case.  By day two he was already worse than Max had been, pox upon pox everywhere poor baby.  We had a couple rough nights where he squirmed and scratched and cried, then the cough came which was worse than the itching and just like big brother, fever and vomiting.  No ER trips for this one, but the cough is the worst because it keeps him awake much of the night and makes it hard to sleep.  Three days in a row he has not napped well in his bed and then slept on me instead.

Yesterday he slept an incredible four hours on my lap.  I woke him at 6:30pm to eat a little dinner and he was in bed for the night by 7:00.  We did some interesting gymnastics trying to keep Mars away from the other kids at Max’s school for drop off and pick up, a combination of late arrival, strollers, and leaving quickly.  One day the director came and brought Max in from the parking lot but he really hated that so we only did it once.  He clings enough to my leg at the door as it is, being stripped from me before he was ready was not ok.  (I am told he recovered quickly. I may or may not have cried the whole way home).

For a month now I’ve been mostly trapped at home with sick kids and I’m starting to lose my mind.  Oh and on top of that, for the first week of Mars’ pox I was sick too, with some mystery virus or truly insane allergy attack that left my head pounding, my throat hurting and my patience thin.  I was very upset to miss the end of the year party for my choir, the one and only outlet I have and the last day until September, but unfortunately my head was pounding and I had a slight fever so there was no way I could go.

It’s been a rough couple of months.  I would like us to be all done with drama now. And I miss exercise.

This evening Max and I had a park date just the two of us.  I don’t often get to focus my full attention on him and it was fun, though he sweetly told me when we got home he wanted his brother to come too next time.

We are in the market for a mini van, which is hilarious because ten years ago (even five) I would have told you I absolutely, positively was never going to drive one (I also would have told you I definitely wasn’t going to be a stay at home mom either).  They are still super uncool, I just find that I don’t care very much.  We need more space, and I was quite surprised how much I liked the one we test drove.  M and the boys stayed at the dealership and explored the interior of another van while I took one for a spin with the sales guy so we didn’t have to deal with carseats.  I gave him a bit of free nutrition advice while we chatted (he asked, I never would offer it unsolicited) so I felt no guilt when we left without making a purchase (the interior was not in great shape and the price was absurdly high so we will keep looking).  Soccer mom in the making people.

An Emergency visit

1 Jun

I will start this story by saying that Max is fine,  and it all ended well.  Yesterday,  after having a week of itchy but otherwise cheerful three year old he suddenly Max was coughing, vomiting and had a fever of 102, with chills. I Googled symptoms of complications of chicken pox and got scared he had some kind of bad infection and so at dinner time I packed him up with a couple snacks and hauled him to the Emergency Room.

M insisted I take him to the main hospital ER which can treat children instead of the Children’s hospital because he knows for sure they take our insurance.  If I had to do it again I’d rather have taken him to children’s but they did okay and I liked the pediatrician and most of the nurses.

The hospital is in downtown Seattle and I have never driven there before and I couldn’t find the patient parking lot,  so I paid in another lot three blocks away and carried my heavy boy the whole way to the ER my heart beating hard in my chest as I tried to keep my panic that he was gravely ill in check.

I have had the great fortune of never having been a patient in an emergency room that I can recall (I think I did once when I was about Max’s age but I don’t remember it).  It seemed an awful lot like a regular doctor’s office despite what you see on TV.  I waited in line behind a couple chatting easily,  who told the receptionist he was having a flare up for terrible pain though he seemed pretty laid back about it.  They took quite awhile and with great difficulty I managed not to yell at them, “I have a child with an actual emergency here!” as I held my burning hot and heavy 37 pound preschooler while they discussed the fact this man has semi regular flare ups of this pain (could you not address this with your regular doctor then?)

Finally it was our turn and the slow as molasses reception lady took our information and told us to have a seat.  I bought Max some orange juice from the vending machine (he rarely gets juice but if an ER visit doesn’t warrant a treat I don’t know what does).  We immediately moved across the lobby as we were seated near a woman who was vomiting constantly.

We only had to wait about ten minutes until we were shown into a room and asked asked the same questions repeatedly by the nurse,  the resident and the pediatrician.  The pediatrician agreed with me it was concerning to have such symptoms at what should be the end of his pox.  I’d expected a fever towards the beginning but not now when he isn’t even contagious anymore. Tests were run,  which unfortunately involved a blood draw.  They did a really good job,  the male nurse gently wrapped Max in a sheet and then hugged him/held him down while the other nurse put an IV line in his arm and he screamed and cried and hurt my heart and my ears while I put my face close to his.  I wasn’t expecting them to leave the line in his arm,  which they did so they could draw blood easily again later,  but it poked him and hurt and every time he remembered it was there he screamed and screamed.  They brought us a TV with a DVD player and some kid dvds which helped (Sunday night basic TV channels not cutting it for preschool appropriate television). He sipped juice,  ate crackers and alternated watching TV and screaming.  Someone came and took us for a chest x-ray at some point.  The x-ray guy was disturbed by Max’s screaming about the IV but mostly he did ok.


Then we waited and waited some more and at last the pediatrician came to tell us his blood work looked fine but that his x-ray wasn’t great,  that he had some stuff in his lungs,  and that if it wasn’t for the chicken pox she’d probably just wait and see but because of it she gave us a prescription for antibiotics to be safe and at last we were discharged,  but not before we waited another hour for someone to come remove the stupid IV and end the screaming.

We arrived home well after bedtime,  but M let x stay up a bit longer,  I think just so he could hold his boy and revel in the relief it wasn’t more serious.  We were lucky,  and I’m not sorry I took him in just in case,  even if it was a little traumatic for us both.

A pox upon our house

28 May

My poor Max has the chicken pox.  I have no idea where it came from either.  Over the weekend he had a few itchy spots we thought were bug bites.  We even stripped his bed and vacuumed underneath thinking something must be lurking under there.  He didn’t otherwise appear sick,  and we unfortunately spent time with both the 9 month olds we know.  I googled symptoms of chicken pox,  but it didn’t seem like that’s what it was until I dragged him to the doctor yesterday and they confirmed it is most likely chicken pox.  Since then he has just gotten  worse,  with more bumps and a slight fever.  I am hopeful it is peaking and we will be past this soon,  though it seems certain  Mars will meet a similar fate.

We are quarantined at home for at least a couple of weeks which only one day in is already making us a little crazy.  These boys need to run  and climb,  the weather is beautiful and we are stuck inside.

I feel horrible that he got this at all.  There exists a vaccine. Neither of my kids has had it yet,  not because I am anti vaccine,  but just because due to how sick everyone was all Winter and schedules we are a little behind on some of the vaccines and last time we did one I chose ones that were more serious illnesses but we really were going to do it next.  There are many in the natural health community who prefer their children to get immunity from having the disease and seek it out since the younger the child the less severe the illness usually.  Our NDs office were giddy with excitement since chickenpox is pretty rare anymore, which I found baffling.  I feel terrible that he got something that I could have prevented.  I’m glad other than being itchy he isn’t feeling too bad but I still feel awful about it.  My punishment,  besides seeing my beautiful boy covered in pox,  is to be trapped in the house with them for two weeks.  I guess I deserve it.  I am praying my baby niece and my girlfriends baby boy don’t get it. 


Where’d my baby go?

27 May

20150510_090910 20150514_190727 20150516_180652 20150519_104201I don’t know what happened, but my baby is suddenly 18 months old and not a baby anymore.  He is still happy and smiley as he has been his whole little life, but he is also a major handful.  This child has crazy tantrums when he doesn’t get his way.  I don’t remember Max doing that.  But let’s say Max is sitting on my lap and Mars wants me to walk somewhere with him.  If I say no, not right now, he throws himself on the floor and cries.  But the worst is when he is hungry.  Mars gets HANGRY, to which I can relate.  Every evening when I am making dinner, and usually while I am making breakfast too, he pulls on my leg, crying and screeching at me, wanting to be held, wanting every component I am trying to cook (raw potatoes, raw meat, etc) and furious when I finally lock him out of the kitchen for his own safety.  The moment we sit down to the table he is happy as could be again.  He is also clearly going through a growth spurt, as he eats more than I do most meals and is always hungry and willing to eat again moments later.  On Monday we had lunch with my in-laws and Mars ate 3 full ears of corn! (they were cut in half, so he had six halves).

While Max at this age worked very hard on the handful of words he knew, with not a lot of babbling in between (which is very much Max’s personality, to be sure he’s correct before saying it out loud), Mars babbles a lot, clearly trying to tell me all kinds of things, but so far here are the words that are somewhat recognizable:




Max (Mah)


More (sometimes will sign it too)

“E” ( all letters and numbers are “E!”)



Banana= nana

Moo = oooo

Shoe = oooo

Water/drink =Wawa

Hot = hhhh sound

Toes = ooooh

I got hurt/ something hurts= Ow (and points to where)

I want that food thing right now! = WHAWHAWHA

Baby = Mimi

Today he was working on saying rice and ice, both of which sounded something like yhyce

Signs all done, occasionally signs “eat” and “more”.

The greatest joy of Mars’ little life is when Max plays with him, though he is learning to stand up for himself and fight back when Max tries to take a toy he is playing with.  When I tell him it is time to go get Max from school he says “Mah! Mah!” he whole way there.  He is still very physical and fearless when it comes to climbing things.  I’m pretty sure he thinks anything Max can do is completely reasonable to imitate.

He loves to be read to and brings me book after book, his favorites being any with elephants .  Mars loves to carry around his babydoll “Mimi” (what he calls all babies, and also what he says when he wants to be picked up).

We have been to the gym childcare a few times and it is going well (I only take Mars when Max is at school).  He seems to do well there.  It’s not ever crowded and despite my fear that he would cry the whole time he is fine once I leave the room.  I have been exercising more lately in part because I just need a break from Mars’ bossy demands (he is SO LOUD when he is mad about something!)  but also because exercise is good for me.

Mars is into EVERYTHING. He has figured out how to open the bifold doors to all the closets in the hall.  He pulls out the brooms and dust pans, takes puzzles out and throws the pieces all over the floor, gets into the pantry and carries potatoes all over the house etc. It is messy and exhausting and we definitely need to get locks.

He is still very snuggly and very protective of me. He does not like anyone messing with me, which has made for some interesting trips to the doctor and the chiropractor. He gets very jealous if Max sits on my lap and tries to shove him off. Even M gets the evil eye for playing too rough with me or hugging me too long.

Almost every morning Mars wakes up between 530-6 (Except for the unfortunate occasions when he wakes up at 430 instead). I always bring him to bed with me when he wakes up. If I am lucky we go back to sleep until Max wakes up at 630, but sometimes Mars just wants to play and brings me books from his room instead.

On Saturday I cleaned our entire house from top to bottom.  It took 9 hours, plus I finished cleaning the bathtub the following day.  It hadn’t been really, truly cleaned since probably Thanksgiving and it feels awesome, except the more I clean, the more messes I notice.  I haven’t had the energy, motivation or time in quite awhile but all of those things finally came together this weekend.  Hopefully we can keep it that way for awhile, but it’s tough to do much of anything productive during the week when Mars is awake, so it requires M to be home and me to be not too tired.  My guest room/office/overflow toy storage area still needs cleaning but that is harder and I haven’t gotten to it, but I will soon.

Every time I think we have decided definitively about the third child issue we change our minds.  We had decided we were good with two, then we decided we for sure wanted a third, and after a couple of weeks of tantrums and limited patience from both parents we once again are back around wondering if maybe we should stick with two.  I have no answer.  I feel like maybe we are supposed to have a third child, like it is destined or something.  But I also feel like it might kill me.

When it rains it pours

28 Apr

Boy we have had a rough couple of weeks.  Mars was incredibly fussy and clingy for at least a week (it all blends together and I can’t remember exactly how long). He is usually such a cheerful sunshiny smiley guy that having him be constantly fussy really wore me down– I’m just not used to having a fussy baby.  Finally last Thursday Max had a doctor’s appointment to catch up on a vaccine and I had the doctor look in Mars’ ears– big time ear infection.  So after several days on antibiotics, he is his cheerful self again.  That said, we have developed some bad habits and now every night he ends up in bed with me.  It’s a vicious cycle– I am so tired from having him in bed with me (not relaxing at all because he is squirmy and every time he moves around I jolt awake to make sure he isn’t going to fall off the edge, plus his preferred sleeping position is on top of me), that when he wakes up in the night I just take him to bed with me instead of dealing with the hours of crying involved in re-training him to sleep in his own bed involves.

He also decided to wean himself in the last few weeks.  I did intend to stop nursing around 18 months anyway, but I am surprised at how little effort it took on my part– he just lost interest in it.  He’s perfectly happy to be glued to me 24/7 with a pacifier in his mouth, no breastfeeding required.

Due to my weeks of no sleep, I ended up with a head cold and for several days in a row woke up with a pounding head and no voice.

M has been spending all weekend every weekend trying to finish rebuilding the front deck.  This has also been exhausting for me because he is occupied all weekend and I don’t get much of a break from the kids to accomplish anything.  Then, on Sunday afternoon he fell hard on the deck frame and badly injured his left hand.  He came inside and iced it and took some ibuprofen but it was still very swollen and I strongly advised him to go to urgent care.  Two hours later they insisted he go to the hospital because it was broken in three places and he might need surgery immediately.  Fortunately the ER doctor was less concerned, put a cast on him and referred him to a specialist for later in the week.  We are hoping he doesn’t need surgery, but either way he is pretty limited in what he can do with only one hand, both at work (one handed typing!) and at home.  Max is self sufficient enough that M is mostly ok with doing things for him, but Mars is a two handed kid.  He’s very squirmy and fights getting his diaper changed, he constantly tries to climb things he shouldn’t and needs rescuing, and requires two handed help in the bathtub.

So it’s been a wild time around here, but hopefully from here things will get better.

Spring Things

14 Apr

The kids say and do the funniest things. I wish I was better about writing them down when they happen.
Max and I sometimes have hilarious conversations on the way to school. A couple of weeks ago he was talking about some minor bruise or cut he had, and he told me he got it when we were in Hawaii.
Me: “Max we went before you were born”
Max: “Who stayed with me while you and dad went to Hawaii?”
Me: “It was before you were a baby in my tummy. Before you were even on Earth.”
Max: (thinks about this for awhile) “Who stayed with me when I was in space?”

I took Mars to his first swimming lesson a couple of weeks ago. He did pretty well, especially since the water was FREEZING due to a heater problem in the pool. The lady who teaches the class is approximately 80 and very sweet but a little loud and he wasn’t sure if he liked her or not, but it was mostly pretty fun. We will go again soon. I wish I had started swimming lessons with Max when he was younger—now he’s really scared of the class and it’s hard.

The past few days Mars has been either teething or going through some kind of growth spurt or something. He resists going to bed and wakes up in the night and refuses to go back to sleep unless he is not only in bed with me but directly on me, wrapped around my neck like a scarf. It’s sweet but I can’t sleep very well on my back and he is very squirmy. If I turn on my side he sits up and tries to push me back on to my back so he can climb back up. He also has a chronic runny nose going on two months now. We think he might just have allergies like his daddy.
Now that the weather is better I have started taking Max to school via stroller. His preschool is about 1.5 miles away, but it’s up (steep!) hill the whole way. It’s an awesome workout, although pushing the heavy stroller is giving me a flareup of tendonitis/carpal tunnel. Our old stroller just got harder and harder to push and I finally replaced it with a different used one. I considered getting a double Bob since I have loved our single Bob but they are just so very wide and we spend a lot of time in town going in and out of stores (plus I think they would mess with each other and fight). So we got a Britax B ready and I really like it.

The cheerful green makes me happy too. It rolls much better than our old one but it is still heavy—there’s no getting around that pushing 50+ pounds of kid + 35 pounds of stroller uphill is hard work. I still pick him up in the car, in part because I don’t really want to do that hill twice in one day, but also because I need to get them home to take a nap and I don’t want them falling asleep in the stroller. (Mars still sometimes does in the morning).

I am loving the mostly lovely Spring weather—last week we went to the beach all morning and played in the sand. As the boys get older it gets easier to take them places like the park or the beach on my own. I don’t know what we’d do if we have another child—just not leave the house without M. until the little one is older I guess.
I still feel like we barely have it together most of the time. My house is so messy, there is always laundry, and I am stuck in a rut with making the same dinners over and over. But we are happy and healthy. I am getting used to being at home with the kids and finding ways to carve out time for myself. M is working on rebuilding the deck and walkway in the front of our house. Eventually we will fence it and put in grass and then the kids will be able to play in our front yard! Right now we have no safe outdoor space and I am really looking forward to it.


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