Thursday, July 2, 2015

What I Did On My Half-Day Summer Vacation

My mom called at 7:45 this morning to relay the news that she is sick and would not be able to watch the kids today. This did not appear to be a very good omen for what was supposed to be a busy day. I scrambled and checked my work calendar to see how bad the damage would be and then touched base with my husband. We decided to tag-team childcare for the day. He took the morning shift while I went into the office and I returned home halfway through to allow him to get some work done.

This. This is how working moms make it work. With husbands who share equally in child care responsibilities. Sometimes I feel guilty for asking my husband to help with things. I worry about "putting him out," interfering with his work plans, asking him to do too much. And the fact that I feel guilty makes me cringe because I know I shouldn't. He certainly never makes me feel guilty. In fact, he goes out of the way to help. It must be the fact that *I* have always been the strong advocate for more children. All he's ever wanted was a Porsche. (For those of you keeping up, I have three children and a coveted minivan....and he has zero Porsches).


Sometimes I can hear myself double checking my husband's child care work. "What did the kids have for dinner?" "You made Jacob change his clothes, right?" "How much TV did they watch?"... It's all with good intentions. But I know it's unfair and probably makes him feel incompetent or unsupported (which is far from the truth). We do things differently and there are certainly many things I do at which would cause him to shake his head. So I do my very best to choke back my questions and smile appreciatively. It's taken a while for us to get all the kinks out. But our (laid back) system works pretty well.

Back to today, when I rushed out the door this morning, I was a little stressed and worried about having to leave work early. But I got as much done as I could and when I got home I realized the blessing in the last minute change of plans: I had an entire afternoon free. And the forecast was sunny and hot.

I grabbed the kids (my husband had dutifully fed both each one hotdog and one corndog for lunch, which is sadly their new favorite meal lately) and we snuck out for an impromptu afternoon adventure in our city.

I pushed Jon and Ryan in the double stroller while Jacob rode his bike. We traveled the .8 miles to our downtown and took in all the sights and activities of the city.



We stopped by the brand new arcade where I blew a whole $10 on a (rigged!) bubble gum claw machine, a slot machine that gives out a random number of prize tickets, and other games. I hate gambling, but arcade games get me every time.

Jacob and Ryan played a game of air hockey.


And Jon tested out his dance moves. Although he probably should master standing before we come back and play again.


After blowing a couple tens at the arcade and claiming some prizes we continued our stroll. We discovered a new store that sells Pokemon cards and Lego sets (I wish we could "undiscover" that one). And the kids danced in the front window display of my favorite boutique while I tried on some summer dresses. I asked the clerk if she wanted to hire my children as dancing mannequins. Surprisingly, she declined the offer.



Then we bought some ice tea and walked down to the ferry terminal, fountain park, and waterfront. It was a gorgeous day. And the perfect weather for some splish-splashing (Jon's new favorite activity). Who am I kidding? That's everyone's favorite activity!



Jon was not a big fan at first.


But I'd say it grew on him.




I love this picture of Ryan sneaking in for a Jon-Jon kiss!


Eruption!


Last time we were at this park, Ryan was terrified of the fountains. He wouldn't go anywhere near them. I was so happy to see him having fun this time around. He's more cautious...or is it stubborness...or is it finickiness? Sometimes I worry that he misses out on fun for no good reason. It brought me so much joy to see him having such fun.


This picture below captures my city perfectly. The water. The ferry. The fountains. The expansive views. When you tell people you live near Seattle they always ask "don't you hate the rain?" The answer is "no." But even if I did...this makes up for it tenfold:





We watched the ferry come in and the kids waved enthusiastically to all the uninterested passengers aboard. 


It was a wonderful, wonderful day. And it was only made possibly due to my mom's sudden, mysterious flu. Sorry mom, but now we're kind of glad you got sick. 

And before I sign off for bed, I have some selfies to share:



Sunday, June 28, 2015

Waterfilled Weekend

My mother in law is still hanging on strong. We try to visit her as much as possible. It's hard not knowing how much time is left. Visiting her makes me think a lot about death and life (but so does Game of Thrones, and Toy Story, and my quickly growing babies). When death is around you, so many stressful and hard things seem unimportant. And at the same time, the happy and fun things seem so very important. You have to revel in the joys of this earthly life and shrug off the negative.

And there are oh so many joys. My kids have the unique ability to fill my life with so much joy (odd that they can bring just as much hard work and frustration as well....let's just say I'm never one to disparage Mondays).

This is an old photo that I didn't get to share last week, but for Father's Day last week I asked Jacob to make a card. He made this, all of his own mind and creation. This kid is pretty awesome:


Ever since Mother's Day and Father's Day has come and passed, Ryan has been wishing us all Happy Mother's and Father's Day at random times. While I was putting Jon down for a nap this afternoon, I heard him say, "Happy Mother's Day, Jacob!"

Friday night on an act of spontanaiety (my favorite kind!), we ate dinner early and then the five of us walked down to our local movie theater to see Inside Out. We are fortunate to live less than a mile from this new theater (and a month ago, a new arcade popped in across the street from it). The place we live kinda has a bad rap (Sir Mix-A-Lot calls us Bremerlos). But in the past couple years, it's been an amazing place for kids with brand new parks, new streets and sidewalks, movie theater, arcade, etc). How many people can just walk their three young kids to the movies at 7:00pm?



I had second thought about taking a baby to a movie theater. But he did great. I popped him in the Baby Bjorn and he enjoyed the first ten minutes, kicking excitedly at the big screen, before passing out for the rest of the show. Ryan has been talking about the move ever since. Personally, I thought it kinda sucked. It was exhausting, and not in a good way. But I had fun hanging out with the kids and enjoying it through them. 


We've been experiencing a crazy heatwave up here in the northwest. Like most of our neighbors, we are ill-equipped for the hot weather. This has been our house for the past five nights (notice that the time is 9:33pm):


In anticipation of the freaking hotness, I shuffled the kids out of the house early on Saturday morning so that we could wait in line to get into the only outdoor wave pool in Washington (that I know of). We got there at 11:20, 40 minutes before it opened, and there was already a line. It was worth the wait though. This place is freaking awesome.

To kill wait time, I tried to very thoroughly apply sunscreen to all three of the kids (did I mention, I did this adventure solo- yeah, I'm brave). I discovered that applying sunscreen to a baby is kind of difficult. Good thing they have dark skin and don't burn (none of my children have ever had a sunburn, even though I've forgotten sunscreen several times).


Wave pools. They rock.


Here is Jacob, ready to tackle whatever wave the pool throws at him. The water is heated. So even I went in the pool (AND had fun!).


Ryan stayed exclusively in the kiddie pool. Which was fine with me because I hadn't figured out how to chase after a three year old in a large pool while holding on to a squirmy baby who desperately wants to jump into the water.


Everytime I put Jon down, he immediately crawled for the pool. I kept having to redirect him back to the shallow end, where he would happily splash the water over and over and over. I haven't tested this theory yet but I'm sure he'd continue splashing forever if I let him. He loves water.


SPLASH!


I had to give him a shoe to chew on to distract him from the tempting depths of the wave pool. 


So, I had imagined that my solo trip with three kids to the wave pool would be heaven on earth, especially considering the heat wave. HA HA HA. Within one hour of being there, Jon had sneakily attempted to eat many things. I pulled from his mouth: a tiny rock, several shoes, several leafs, and a candy wrapper. After I applied sunscreen to Ryan, he demanded that I remove all of it at once and had a 45 minute screaming fest when I couldn't find a way to un-apply the sunscreen seeping into every inch of his skin. Jacob kept rushing off from pool to pool and getting lost among the crowds. Jon was trying to squirm away and drown. I had to do everything with one hand, including purchasing, carrying, and serving hot dogs to the big kids. I got ketchup all over my suit and my wallet fell into the pool as a result. It was a little crazy. But to be absolutely honest, I actually love it. I love being overwhelmed by and lost in the craziness of children. I hate it too. But I also love it. Makes perfect sense right?

Glorious nap time. Mostly.



We survived Saturday's adventure and when Sunday morning came, we all lounged around and caught our breath. Except for Ryan. He dressed up like an underwear Power Ranger and did his part to save the world. 


I love lazy days at home. For thirty minutes. Then the kids get cooped up and literally start behaving like animals. This doesn't really work when you have a tiny house.


So we spend a lot of time outside. 


Before I sign off, I have to share the magical discovery I made last weekend. GROCERY. DELIVERY. It's amazing. I LOVE grocery shopping. It is seriously my favorite thing to do ever. I love to browse the aisles and look at the products, and pop completely unnecessary snack food into my cart. But shopping with three kids is not always fun. And it takes a long time. And involved buckling and unbuckling three car seats several times. 

I've been tempted to try grocery delivery for years. I finally pulled the trigger. And not only do the friendly delivery people bring my groceries to my DOOR (no hauling grocery bags in the car/in the house), but with the 2 hours I saves shopping, driving kids around, and bringing everything into the house, I did all the laundry and the dishes and more. It was pretty fantastic. I didn't just buy groceries. I bought TIME. WEEKEND TIME. I'm sold. 

Also, I saved a shit ton of money by not perusing the aisles and buying at least 15 items I don't even need.

All my groceries....hand delivered to my front door! 



Sunday, June 21, 2015

Life Goes On, Careless To Our Turmoil

My mother in law is dying of cancer. For eight long, tough years she fought its relentless scourge. Treatments were harsh and took their toll. And yet she fought on, and was awarded the much-deserved Remission status. But Remission didn't last very long. It came back. Life seemed normal (to us anyway) for a year or two. But every time things appeared great, another obstacle struck.

Last week, when faced with disappointing news, she made the decision to stop fighting. She's at home, confined to a bed, just hanging on until she is claimed by a force much larger than she. She probably doesn't have many days left. She appears just a shell of her typically strong and commanding self.

She amazes me and I love her story. She met my father-in-law in the Philippines while he was in the Navy. After a very quick courtship, they had a shotgun wedding so she could come to America. From what I understand of her story, my father-in-law was deployed when she came to America for the first time, speaking little English, not knowing a soul. She met my father-in-law's parents, people she had never met before, at the airport that first time she set foot on American soil. She lived with them, among strange people, in strange country, far from family and home. My husband was born while she lived with her in-laws and while my father-in-law was in and out of the country on deployments. She was brave, strong, courageous.

I don't see that person now, as she sinks into the many folds of a hospital gown, eyes closed and primarily sleeping. Too weak to clear her throat. She's leaving and she won't be with us much longer.

I want to comfort her but I have no idea what to say. My mind is completely blank as I sit by her bed. I want to tell her thank you. She gave me the thing I love and treasure most. The thing from which all my greatest treasures of my life have come. She gave me my husband. He's responsible and loving, smart and caring, funny and fun. He's a lot like her in many ways. He's my best companion. My best friend. She has given me everything. And yet, I sit by her side and can tell her nothing.

The words are too profound to speak. I only have such a short time left to communicate with her. I may only have days left to express all the gratitude I feel. If there is anything I will ever want to say to her, I have to say it now. But I just don't have the words. I don't know what profound thing I want to say to her, if anything. And I worry that I won't find the words to do so in time.

I don't know her as well as I would have liked. I had hoped that time would have given me the same close relationship with her that she had with her own mother-in-law. But that never happened. And now, it looks like it will never happen.

As her end comes near, there is sadness everywhere. It's mostly unspoken. In my husband's silent eyes. In my father-in-law's dutiful actions. We've never done this before. Faced imminent death. It's hard and uncertain. It's hard to wait for someone to die. The grief is protracted and gripping. And yet, life goes on. I am expected to go to meetings. To prepare for hearings. To cook meals. To go grocery shopping. To celebrate Father's Day. To live as if everything is normal. But it's not. Nothing is normal.

It all just hurts.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Moving-Up, Minivan, and Mommycation

Big things have been happening around here, guys!

Jacob had his "moving-up" ceremony to celebrate that he survived Kindergarten. Or did Kindergarten survive him? We arrived at the school at 9:30 and gathered in the library, waiting for the ceremony to begin. The kids filed in wearing special hand-designed tshirts signed by all their classmates. Jacob and a couple other kids stood in a separate line in front of the group. This puzzled us, until the ceremony. Jacob and the other four kids in front were specially selected to read lines from "Oh the places you'll go." 


He didn't just read his lines, he went the extra step and recited them from memory. I couldn't really hear him because a kid sitting next to me was screeching. But it was adorable and we were very proud. They sang some cute songs and then there was a photo slide show of the kids throughout the year. I was smiling and laughing at the cute faces on the slide show when the song "You'll always be my baby" came on. All of a sudden without any warning, the tears started to well up behind my eyes. 

He's such a big boy. He's smart. He's (mostly kind). He's creative. He's funny. But he WILL always be my baby. He was my first baby. It's amazing to see how his confidence has grown, how he's built relationships, and how much he's learned in just the past year. I love this guy so much. Even when he's driving me crazy (which is a lot). 


Tomorrow is Jacob's last day of school so I asked him this morning to make his teacher a nice Thank You card. I went to my room to get dressed and when I came back to check on Jacob's card-making progress, he showed me this...


It says, "dead bear on a carrot." Apparently, that is what the drawing is supposed to depict. 

Yeah.

I made him re-do the card and he was most displeased. Ha ha ha. What the heck?

Other big news: I have a fourth baby! Ta-da! It's a minivan. A 2010 Honda Odyssey to be precise. And I absolutely LOVE it. It's the most amazing vehicle ever. There is so much ROOM. There are TWO sliding doors. I can haul THREE extra people! The A/C WORKS! And the mileage is low at 50,000 miles. Well, that's low for me. My Subaru wagon has 285,000 miles on it. It doesn't take much to please me, obvi. But I seriously do love it. I find myself gazing lovingly out the window to admire its beauty and to make sure it hasn't been stolen. 

I have never looked more gangster in my life. 


The kids love it almost as much as I do. Jacob loves that he gets the back seat all to himself and can sprawl out back there. The first time we drove it somewhere, he packed a large blanket to take with us. Just because he could. Minivans change lives. Seriously. My life is changed. For the better, of course. 

We've had unusually hot weather lately, even getting up to 80 degrees. (yay for working A/C!) However, Ryan still insisted on wearing this on Tuesday:


Jon started to crawl! But he prefers to do yoga. 


He loves to go into this pose and rock back and forth violently with a wide grin. He uses this as a launch pad for crawling. 

I have my own special pose. After the kids go to bed, you can find me like this:


Putting three kids to bed is exhausting. I'm seriously drained at the end of each day. Which explains the pile of dirty dishes that keeps accumulating in my sink (maybe some day I'll get a dishwasher).

I've been working 10-13 hour days this week thanks to a big hearing scheduled for Monday. Briefing for this hearing was a little crazy. But I submitted all my briefing just in time to leave for a work conference in beautiful Lake Chelan, Washington. I got to enjoy the beautiful four hour drive by MYSELF, drink Diet Dr. Pepper, and listen to all my favorite music without having to accommodate requests from the back seat. 

For the next three days, I'm FREE. Free to sleep in. Free to take up every single milimeter of my king size bed. Free to drink wine for lunch. Free to exercize at the 24 hour fitness center any time I want. I looked out my balcony at the beautiful sandy beach and beach-side pool and felt intense pangs of guilt for leaving my kids behind. But then I saw my coworker wrestling her four whiny, sand-covered kids across the lawn and then immediately the guilt ended. 

I have my first massage ever scheduled for tomorrow afternoon and I have a bottle of Riesling chilling in my fridge. Yay for mommycations! Yes I have to sit and listen to law related presentations...but the free all-expenses paid trip is a nice trade off.

Tonight, I enjoyed a glass of wine on the beach while watching the sun set. I was tempted to jump into the water for a swim. But the wine won.


Monday, June 8, 2015

Pacific Paradise

Now that T-ball is over for the year I feel like I have my life back! Well, I have my evenings back anyway. As cute as it was to watch a rag tag team of grass pickers transform into a legit baseball team (they were even doing coach-pitch at the end of the season!), I did not enjoy the insane time suck. I was totally unprepared for the three-days-a-week-two-hour practice schedule. And the 9 am Saturday games. Everything else. Totally awesome.


Jacob's last game was fun. And enjoyed by all, even the babies.



The day after Jacob's game (and my previously documented horrible birthday- thanks for your sympathies and comments...basically, it sucked, I cried, I got over it), we headed out to Cannon Beach, Oregon for a mini family vacation.

When planning this trip, I was tempted to keep everything as cheap as possible. Many years ago we took baby Jacob to Seaside, Oregon which is just ten miles north of Cannon Beach. Before heading home, we drove to Cannon Beach to sight-see and while walking around town, I fell in love with Surfsand Resort because of it's beach-facing rooms and proximity to beautiful Haystack Rock.

When I looked up room rates last month, I was a little shocked by the sticker price of the rooms at Surfsand Resort. After much internal struggle, I bit the bullet and reserved the cheapest room they had, a non-view ADA room. After a disappointing birthday, I was feeling sorry for myself and decided if we were going to Cannon Beach, we should do it RIGHT. I called and upgraded to a room with a view. And it was worth it!

Million dollar view


While I was initially hesitant to spend the money on a hotel, Surfsand quickly proved to us that our money was well spent (it helped that they were having a third-night-free special). Everything was perfect and exceeded expectations. First there was the view. Holy Mackerel.


And... GUYS...a soaking tub IN THE LIVING ROOM! Don't worry, there was a pull-out wall for privacy when desired.


My life needs a soaking tub. Tiny people, big tub!


The day we arrived, the resort hosted free hot dogs on the beach. And every day starting at 3:30, the resort served freshly-baked cookies in the lobby! Every time they cleaned our room, the maid left gourmet mints and toys on the beds. And, with an arm band given to us at check-in, kids ate free at the nearby restaurants! Basically, I'm a sucker for free stuff, even if I have to pay $350 a night to get it.

The indoor pool was freaking amazing. It claimed to be heated and...it actually WAS heated, almost like bath water! The worst thing in the world is the misrepresentation of a heated pool that turns out to still be cold. This was Jon's first time in the pool and he absolutely LOVED it. And because it was heated, I didn't feel bad sticking him in the floaty while we played.


Ryan, being daring and bold in the six inch deep water...


Ryan was a hoot in the pool. He's a tough guy when it suits him, but underneath his bully exterior, he is the world's biggest wimp. He refused to go any deeper than the large shallow area, which was no more than six inches deep. So he swam/crawled back and forth in his floaty in a mere six inches of water. It was hilARious.

He also was afraid of the sand. And the wind. And the waves. So, yeah, he had a blast at the beach. Occasionally, I could coax him off the lawn chairs for some fun. But it wasn't always easy.





Jake is my beach bum, water bunny. He had a blast on the beach and he could swim for HOURS in the pool. This vacation was pretty much his idea of heaven. And that we had in common.


Not exactly sure what is happening in this picture but it sums up Jacob's craziness, Jon's third-chil-easy-going apathy, and Ryan's general feelings about the beach. 



After our first night at the resort, I woke up to the news that there had been four earthquakes out in the ocean during the night. This immediately made me uneasy as I recalled the numerous "Tsunami Evacuation" signs that we had passed on our drive down. But I was (mostly) able to forget about earthquakes and tsunamis and potentially life-threatening devastation and enjoy the remainder of the trip. As you can guess, we all survived, tsunami-free.

One night we drove up to Seaside and hit up the arcades, the indoor carousel, and the bumper cars. To top off the magical day for the kids, they got to eat dinner at McDonald's (so easy to please). The next day we went to Tillamook County and explored the cheese factory. Jacob and Ryan were enthralled in the cheese making process. We rounded out the trip with some freshly made (I think?) ice cream at the gift shop cafeteria.

Watching the cheese makers


On the way home, we stopped at an air museum and explored an old blimp hangar. Apparently, it is the largest wooden structure (1,000 feet), in the country. It was pretty impressive.


On a whim, and at the suggestion of one of our restaurant servers, we ended our Cannon Beach trip with a stop at Hug Point. It was absolutely gorgeous. Apparently some scenes from one of the Twilight movies were filmed here. Not being a Twilight fan, that didn't impress me nearly as much as this:

Ryan's funny face kills me...the stinker


or this:



or this:





During our trip, Jon discovered a taste for sand. He decided it didn't taste very good, but he couldn't stop eating it anyway. Which is exactly how I feel about five hour old french fries.

Sand mustache


Look at all this sand!


Just. Can't. Stop. Eating.


It was such a beautiful, glorious trip. It was so nice to escape the daily grind and experience my children in a new and exciting environment. I forgot how adorable Ryan can be when he is distracted from making his older brother's life miserable. And how adventurous Jacob can be in the face of new places to explore. I fall in love with my kids all over again on trips like these. Don't misunderstand....it's not all fun and games. It's a lot of work. But somehow, the memories that shine the brightest are the high points. 

Me and a sand-eating baby


Jacob was here


All my favorite boys in the whole world.


Salt Water Taffy for DAYZZZZZ



Hugging at Hug Point. Yes. This is stuff I make my kids do. I'm cool like that.


Ahhhh.....I already miss it! Goodbye Cannon Beach!