Sunday, May 17, 2015

Alls Well That Ends With A Backyard Pizza Picnic

I'm staying off Facebook because tonight is the series finale of Mad Men. And I can't watch it until tomorrow night. And I fully expect Facebook to be full of maddening spoilers or vague references (like "OMG! I can't believe what happened to Don!") that will make me want to punch a hole in a wall. Mad Men has been my favorite TV splurge for the past 7 years. I love to analyze the sh*t out of that show. After each episode I have intense dialogues with myself about the meaning of every single scene and the progressive or regressive development of each character. I need to know the ultimate fate of Don because I have been trying to predict and anticipate it for the last seven years. But I also don't want to know. Because then I will not be able to anticipate it anymore. Sadness. (Also, I will always be team Don/Betty- forever!)

So, this is also why I have no real friends. I'm too busy being involved in the lives of people who do not actually exist. Damn. Now you all know. Hmph.

Also, speaking of entertainment, I purchased Hozier's album (you probably heard his single "Take Me To Church"). It is fantastic. I know music is very relative to time, place, circumstance, and person. But man, this album is rocking my world right now. And this is coming from someone who has never really been into music. I mean, I listen to it of course and I have preferences. But unless I'm commuting, I actually prefer no music to music most of the time. I tend to like it for working out, but it's not a deal breaker.

In junior high and high school, the first thing someone would ask a person they were meeting for the first time was always "what type of music do you listen to?" I hated this question with a passion and would just shrug. I just don't really listen to music unless someone else has it on. I appreciate good music and there are some songs that really move me and can bring my freak out on a dance floor (including an abundance of shallow pop songs). But it's not really my THING and I don't like people trying to define me by music. Anyway....all that to say that Hozier has really found a place in the soul of a generally music-less soul. The music is soulful and catchy and the lyrics are artful and unpredictable.

I just wrapped up a crazy week at work. My case that went to trial had two post-trial motions pending, one filed by us and the other filed by our opposition. Last week was the deadline for the responsive and reply briefings. Altogether, I drafted and filed over 50 pages. My brain hurt. A lot. (Sidenote: an opposing lawyer has been very rude and unprofessional to us throughout this case, especially in post-trial motions, and he just asked met to connect with him on LinkedIn...the nerve!!!).

To rest my brain, I went shopping. And I discovered these amazing dresses. Dresses are hit or miss with me. Most dresses cling or drape in the wrong places. And I prefer structured material to flowy/loose material (see cling problem above). But this dress was so awesome that I bought it in TWO colors! I still can't figure out the best color to wear with the orange dress. Probably a navy blue cardigan (...because I live in the PNW. You just can't ever leave the house without a cardigan on hand. They should really make hooded cardigans, that would cover all my PNW weather issues).

A little short for my personal taste in the office...but I'm totally bending my own rules for casual Friday. 

Saturday was pretty much all tee-ball all day. We had a 9 am game 45 minutes away. Then the kids had a car wash event later int he evening. I will be a little bit happy when tee-ball is over. Jacob asked if he could sign up for Pee Wee Football...but one of the moms warned me it can be up to five days a week (hell to the never).

During Jacob's game, Ryan entertained me by bringing me flowers and caterpillars. He made a "home" for the caterpillar on his special blanket and picked some grass for caterpillar food. I saw him wrap his arms lovingly around the caterpillar home and whisper softly, "I love you caterpillar." I asked him what the caterpillar's name was and he told me it was "Jacob."

Hey there thumb!

Loving on Caterpillar Jacob

Later in the day, I actually meal planned and then grocery shopped accordingly! I usually do all this in a last ditch organizational effort Sunday night. My meal plan rules are pretty easy: I only meal plan dinner, I have to cook enough each dinner for at least one left over dinner, and I get extra points if veggie side dishes last almost all week (my kids are not big on side dishes). For all you ladies who prepare new dishes each weeknight, I bow down to you. I guess I'm lucky that my family has no problem with leftovers. So.... tomorrow/Tuesday will be pierogies (which I spent an hour hand making today!) and flank steak with brussel sprout salad. On Wednesday/Thursday, we will have cedar plank salmon with dinner rolls and brussel sprout salad. Friday will be grilled chicken and gnocchi in Pioneer Woman's tomato cream sauce. And now, I'm hungry.

This morning, I overheard this amusing conversation between Ryan and Jacob:

Ryan: "No one talk. Only I can talk. Because I'm a person."
Jacob: "I'm a person too."
Ryan: "No you're not. You're Jacob."
Jacob: "I'm Jacob AND a person."
Ryan: "No, only I'M a person."

Ok point arguing with a three year old.

I found this piece of Jacob art. Super boy v. Bad Guy Woman. Bad Guy Woman is riding a broomstick. I wonder if that is supposed to represent me?

Today was pretty rough. Let's just say Hallmark would not want to make a movie out of our day today. My older kids would not stop fighting. Grabbing toys away, hitting on each other, name calling, refusing to share, only wanting what the other one had. Ugh. It was constant! I screamed... a lot. When they fight, I can't even send them to different rooms or banish them to a play room. Because of our lovely tiny house, we are up in each other's business every second of the day. On top of this, Jon was fussy all day- I think he's getting another cold.

I was Jon's chew toy today.

But you know what? Maybe Hallmark WOULD want to make a movie out of this day because...we ended it with a family pizza picnic in our backyard and a spontaneous session of baseball practice. Everyone was at least half way clothed. And Ryan only got pounded in the stomach by the ball one time. Jacob only farted halfway through our picnic and Jon only spit up on my shorts once, resulting in a pooling of curdled/regurgitated milk up my legs and into my panties. Yes. It was very pleasant. Don't wear shorts near a spit-happy baby.

Ryan: "I don't always picnic, but when I do, I'm a roman emperor.

When the kids miss a catch, my husband makes them do push ups. Tee ball is serious business.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Revelations At Thirty

I spent nine hours working this weekend, and you know what? I don't even mind. Because life is so freaking good right now. So freaking good. No, I didn't win the lottery. My student loans or massive medical bills haven't magically been forgiven. I didn't buy a new car or a new house. I didn't lose the extra pounds that are driving me crazy. Nope.

But my life right now is split between two wonderful worlds: a job that I absolutely love and people that mean everything to me. When things are uncomfortable or difficult, I hate to even complain. Because I have everything.

Thing 1

Thing 2

Thing 3

I'm not going to lie. Sometimes I let things that don't matter get me down. I get frustrated and sad by the size and deficiencies of my house. I'm jealous of the people who own big, new vehicles (one or the other would be great!). One glance at Facebook and I see all the things I wish I had in the lives of other people. I tell myself that THINGS don't matter, people do. But sometimes I say this with a mental asterisk (*But it would really be great if ___). 

More and more, though, I'm accepting this mantra. THINGS don't matter. People do. No asterisk. I feel more grounded. I feel more secure (in all senses of the word). I make less apologies for myself. When the world is my backyard- waiting to be discovered, conquered, explored, or enjoyed- I don't have to worry about what I posses. In the end, we all freaking die. Even that mom with the perfect beach wave hair and fancy BMW. 

Hiking/Biking with my crew in the bigness of nature

Time passes for everyone. It does not discriminate. I'm going to love my life and myself while it is here. Because the alternative- not being here or not loving being here, is simply not that pleasant. And you guys, I don't even have to sweet talk myself into believing this anymore. I've accepted it. I think this is the great revelation of being 30. I finally accept all those things I've been telling myself that I've accepted. 

There was T-ball this weekend. They actually look like a real team.

Ryan can't wait to play. For now, dad will do.

Nautical Jon!

So, this weekend, this wonderful, sunny, busy, noisy, tranquil, child-filled weekend. It was excellent. I'm so charged up on love right now that I could probably go five days without chocolate (but why would anyone do that?). And how I feel can't even be traced back to any possessions. Unless of course you count the plastic plate with my phone number on it that Jacob gave me for Mother's Day.

What Mother doesn't dream of getting a plate with her phone number on it? Number blurred out to protect the innocent (or just me).

It came with this Mother's Day card that also included my full name and phone number (blurred out).

It looks just like me!

Speaking of Mother's Day, today I met up with my sister and my mom for manicures. Out of a spirit of adventure, I chose this bright color. It's kind of growing on me. I'm going to enjoy it before it chips away in the soapy waters of my dish-filled sink.

I never wear nail polish. When the boys saw my nails they looked completely shocked. Like I had an extra head. Jacob looked puzzled and kept asking, "why would you do that?!" Then Ryan kept looking at them and exclaiming, "what IS this?!"

They were so enthralled and then they asked if they could have some. Why not? We had a manicure party on our front steps. They were so thrilled and insisted on a different color for each nail. I love this time right now. Before they are unduly pressured by the expectations of society. If they want to paint their nails, who am I to tell them no? I told Jacob that if the kids at his school don't like his nails, he should ignore them. I told him it took me thirty years to realize that other people's opinions are kind of lame.

As the sun was setting softly and the kids were running around our yard playing with bubbles, I sat Jon in my lap, leaned back into the wood chairs my husband built, and just soaked it all in. The fresh air, the smell of freshly cut grass, the feel of my comfy yoga pants, the laughter of half naked children, the happy bubbling of my baby. It was the perfect moment. I was so happy that tears were welling up. 

And then this picture perfect moment was broken by the sound of Jon chocking violently on a blade of grass he had picked and shoved into his mouth, and the warm gush of an entire container of "Garden Vegetables" that oozed sloppily out of his mouth and all over my hands. That's so life. Perfect one moment, messy the next. I couldn't help but laugh. And snap a picture, of course.

And now I have to leave you with this awesome drawing I found in Jacob's homework folder:

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Post De San Diego!

So...San Diego happened! Last week my husband went to San Diego for a work conference. I got to leave all three kids with Grandma (Saint Grandma) and fly down to join him for two nights after his conference ended.

There is only one way to describe a trip (however short it may be) involving hot weather, sandy beaches, uninterrupted nights of sleep, a margarita, and no children. That way would be this: pure and utter heaven. This was only the second trip I have ever taken with just my husband in the seven years we have been married (never had a honey moon). What the heck have we been holding out for? The two nights and three days we spent in San Diego were almost magical. Not only because of the warm weather and the sandy beaches....but because sometimes I forget just how amazing my husband is.

He's smart, and funny, and handsome, and insanely responsible. People don't often think of responsible as one of the "sexy" qualities that they look for in their Prince Charming. Let me tell's probable THE sexiest quality. My husband has his retirement all planned out. He knows how to build a wall. He regularly caulks the bathroom tiles. He can pick the ripest cantelope in the produce aisle. He double checks that every door and window is locked up before we leave the house. Plus, I really like being able to just show up on vacation and rely on him to have planned out all the logistical stuff like: how to take public transportation, where the nearest grocery store is, and creating a painstakingly researched mental list of all the must see tourist destinations. I seriously love this guy.

Oh, and he's also kind of fun to hang out with.

On day two, we rented a car and drove up to La Jolla beach. Make sure you learn how to pronounce it the right way so you don't end up sounding like an idiot like me. I was amazed at how little traffic there was. I guess I was expecting it to be like Los Angeles (California + sun + destination).

We stopped at Mission beach and Pacific Beach on the ride back to the hotel. Gorgeous! All of our beach walking and downtown walking that second day added up to 9 miles! We had to scarf down a lot of tacos to keep up our energy.

On our last day, our flight didn't leave until 8 p.m. so we took advantage of our few remaining hours to do more exploring. We rented some of the public street bikes and rode to Balboa park, which was about a mile from our hotel. Balboa park is amazing. It's full of fun street vendors, museums, and stuff for tourists to do. 

Dr. Seuss tree

Museum of Man

Biking San Diego was seriously one of my favorite parts of the trip. I need to bike more. Biking is awesome. Even when you are doing it in boat shoes.

Downtown San Diego was kind of unimpressive during the day time (night life is fun). It pretty much just reeks of homeless people urine. But the San Diego waterfront was magnificent.

I make my husband take weird pictures of me. I don't know why he puts up with me.

Is it bad that I didn't miss my kids once? I mean, I kept thinking of them and how much they would enjoy our trip but...I wasn't exactly in a rush to return home. 

When we did arrive home, we were greeted by three handsome, wild boys who seemed to grow a crazy amount in the short time that we were gone.

This little boy is six months old and is almost ready to crawl! He also has two brand new teeth.

Must. Reach. Ball.

He is also the next pushup champion of the Pacific Northwest

My handsome little big guy!

All my babies! Stop growing! STOP.

Ryan loves Jon Jon. The love is not always reciprocated. "Look mom, he's standing!"

Apparently, Jon didn't get the memo that he is Jake and Ryan's pet.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

I'm On The Horizontal Career Ladder

Our office is getting to know our new boss. She scheduled one-on-one meetings with all of us to get to know us better. I didn't know what to expect for my one-on-one when I walked into her office on Monday. Maybe go over my cases?

I sat down and she said, "So, tell me about your self. I want to know about you."

Those kind of questions always catch me off guard. What do I want people to know about me? What message do I want to send? What about me should people know? What makes me "me?" I have no idea. I usually fumble around with where I grew up and how I decided to become a lawyer (political science majors don't have many options if they actually want to eat).

After I managed to squeak by on some kind of half-assed answer, my boss threw out another one. "What are your goals for the future? Where do you want to be and how can I help you get there."

Mouth. Drop.


I thought about it for a minute. Where do I want to be? Hmm. I remember when I used to be so ambitious. A go-getter. An overachiever. Never resting. Always taking on something more. Always a goal to work towards. But now? Not so much.

I thought about some of the other people in my office. One of my coworkers has a young daughter, she belongs to all the bar associations, is involved in so many organizations, and goes to all the networking lunches. I'm pretty sure she has her sights set on a judge's seat someday.

But what about me?

I looked at my boss and answered honestly. And the answer kind of surprised me. "I'm really enjoying the balance in my life right now. To be perfectly honest, I'm right where I want to be and don't have any other ambitions right now." Lame? Wrong answer to give your boss? Maybe. But it's the truth.

Seriously, I'm just happy to be employed. I'm happy to have a job I look forward to every day. Right now I have absolutely no desire to take on anything else. I have no desire to get to the next level. I see myself in a position that can probably keep me happy for a very long time.

Sometimes I wonder if I'm satisfied because I've finally landed in a position/career that I spent a lot of money and time working towards and I'm taking time to enjoy that success. Or if I am satisfied because my need to constantly achieve the next thing has been slowly escaping me. All I know is that getting home in time for dinner and park trips with my kids is much more important to me now than climbing the next rung on my career ladder. In fact, I don't even know what that rung would be. And I'm totally 100% ok with that.

In other news, I snuck into my office this weekend with an antsy three year old and fussy baby and painted and "decored" my office. This is the first step I've taken to decorating the office I moved into when I returned from maternity leave. I'm still playing around with it. But I'm loving it so far!

Cute three year old added for extra flavor

I LOVE my window that faces into a wooded ravine. You can't get that in a big city!

I love Jacob's hand art.... and I desperately need updated pics of my boys.

This is the wall I painted (so light blue you can barely tell but just enough to contrast with the white picture frames - which still have the standard picture filler from the store, I need to find something to put in them). As I was touching up a few spots with a brush, I looked over and caught Ryan dipping the roller brush in the paint tray. I yelled "NOOOO" and he whipped around, splattering paint all over the carpet and my conference table. That was a fun mess to clean up. But now my wall will always remind me of him. 

Monday, April 27, 2015

"T" Stands For T-Ball. And Total Failure. But Also Terrific.

It finally happened! One of my children participated in an organized sporting event!

THE thing I've anticipated most as a parent is watching one of my kids play tee ball. In my mind, it has always been this magical, wondrous moment. The epitome of all things good about parenting. And I've been slowly counting down the days ever since Jacob was born. I tried not to explode with happiness when Jacob told me he wanted to play this year. And while getting to practice (which requires leaving work a little early and sometimes towing two other grumpy children around) has often been a headache, tee ball has not disappointed.

The kids are clueless and unfiltered and hilarious. They spin circles at second base. They do cartwheels in the outfield. They do potty dances as short stop. They underthrow and overcatch and there is a LOT of ball chasing. When they try to tag a runner out, they end up playing tag. Sometimes they run clockwise around the bases. It's the funniest thing I've ever seen in my entire life. 

Saturday was Jacob's first game and we had been talking about it excitedly all week. I planned out a nice big breakfast the night before. I packed the car full of folding chairs and coolers and snacks and picnic blankets. I got the kids up and ready and everyone out the door much earlier than necessary. Sadly, Jacob's team hat was no where to be found. As we dashed out of the house I reluctantly grabbed a Seahawks hat and we were on our way. We even showed up at the ballfield twenty minutes early!

And no one was there.

I tried to talk myself out of a mini-panic. I took out my phone and googled the name of the field on the game schedule. This was Gordon, what the heck? I took off towards a nearby field to see if there had been a mistake. No one was there either. I went back to Gordon, still no one. With spotty reception, I looked up and called the coach. Voicemail. I then tried every single parent on the roster until finally someone answered. Turns out, there are two Gordon fields. The correct one isn't anywhere to be found on the internet. The "experienced" tee-ball parents all know this. I felt like a total newb.

We finally got to the correct field, five minutes past game time. I parked precariously close to a ditch (only spot left) and balanced the diaper bag, picnic blanket, snack bag, and Jon's carrier to the dugout while prodding the other two kids along. Apologizing profusely to the coach I asked to retrieve Jacob's uniform. The coach hands me a jersey shirt. Hmmmmm, "And pants?" I asked skeptically. 

Turns out, kids are supposed to buy their own pants. Another tee-ball secret that only the experienced parents know. Ugh. Why didn't anyone tell me this?! Am I missing all the memos? ... So Jacob runs out to join his team. In a Seahawks hat and non-matching Adidas track pants. I am officially the best tee-ball mom on the planet. 

We don't need no stinking pants!

First game hit!

Running home

We find a seat on the bleachers and Ryan immediately has to pee. There are no bathrooms. We make an inconspicuous run to the bushes, where we end up watering the plants several times over the long one hour game (no more water bottles ever again!).  

While Jacob was busy playing, Ryan was busy photographing his crocs.

But other than the location and uniform debacles, things were just as amazing as I'd imagined they would be so many times over the past six years. Cheering. Kids laughing. Watching the grass pickers. Concession stands. The sound of a bat thwacking a ball. The way you can hang your hands perfectly into the diamonds of the dugout fencing. The smell of ball field dirt. The colorful jerseys. 

Catchers have the important job of placing the ball back on the tee.

It IS just a game.

But it's an awesome game. 

And the kids. Oh the kids. I don't know all their names. But I already love every single one.

After practice, I took my three out to celebrate. Just me and the boys (husband was out of town). There was no fighting. No screaming. No whining. No crying. It was wonderful. 

The kids have been playing with an old calculator for the past week. They take turns punching buttons (for Ryan it is totally random, but Jake actually knows what he's doing) and marveling at the answers that appear on the solar-powered screen. They spend so much time playing with the calculator, or as Ryan calls it his "escalator," that I'm pretty sure they won't ever need real phones.