Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Red Pepper & Goat Cheese Pasta

I'm easy to please when it comes to lunches during the work week. I will pick something and eat it everyday for several months before I get tired of it. For a whopping 1.5 years, I ate raisin, date, and walnut oatmeal for lunch. Every. Day. I haven't been able to eat it since.

When I got tired of oatmeal, I ate peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Three months later and I started to bring a can of Campbells chicken & wild rice soup. Lately, however, I have discovered the wonderful world of Healthy Choice Iron Chef frozen meals. They are fantastic! 300 calories, 15 grams of protein, and several amazing options to choose from all for less than $2.50. My favorite is the chicken with roasted red pepper alfredo. I bought out the entire downtown Seattle Target (honest, I did!). And when they were gone, I was very sad.

But I'm a very persistent person. And I obsess easily. I wasn't about to let my obsession end with Target's stocking failures. So I found some recipes and made my own. Not quite the same as the frozen meals (yes, they are THAT good) but still amazing. This is the kind of pasta that is so good, you could serve it at a dinner party or just whip it up for Friday family pasta night.

Roasted Red Pepper & Goat Cheese Pasta

3 whole red bell peppers (or buy canned roasted red pepper)
1 diced onion
3 minced garlic cloves
1/2 cup whipping cream
3/4 cup whole milk
4 oz. goat cheese
Pre-cooked chicken breasts pieces (or rotisserie chicken)
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1/2 cup grated parm cheese
1/2 lb. whole weat pasta
olive oil
salt & pepper

1. To roast red peppers, place them on a foil-covered baking sheet in a 450 degree oven and bake until peppers are charred (about 30 mins). Remove from oven and tent with foil to prevent steam from escaping. When the peppers have cooled (at least ten mins later), peel the skin and dice them.

2. Pour olive oil into a pan over medium heat. Cook the onions and garlic until the onions soften. Then add cream and milk and allow mixture to heat up. Add the goat cheese and stir to melt.

3. Pour the mixture into a blender with the red pepper and process until mostly smooth or until the mixture has reached desired texture.

4. Return the sauce to the pan. Add the chicken breast pieces and basil. Add the parmesan cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Serve over pasta.

So yum!

Monday, April 29, 2013

Mommy Crack

I kiss his chubby cheeks and smell his soft skin.

I breath in his angel thin hair. I pinch his fatty baby thighs.

Wrap my arms tightly around his entire body. Choke back tears over his natural sweetness.

I can't enough of his babyness.

I want to inhale it.

I am absolutely addicted to him.

He is my crack.

My sweet, pinchable, chubby, soft crack.

My crack who is slowly learning to walk (stop! stop it!).

At least once a day I find myself thinking back to Ryan's early days. His newborn photos. That moment he met his big brother for the first time. An old baby phase of his that is long gone. I can't stop my tears from falling. I just see so much beauty and wonderment surrounding this little boy. As if the entire purpose of life is slowly being revealed to me, piece by small piece, in every one of his smiles.

Google Does It Again

I'm so happy that the person who googled "accidental crotch sweat" was directed to my blog. I hope they enjoyed the pictures of my post-spin class sweat.

I'm confused how six people found my blog by googling "naked full figured women." I'm sure they were disappointed.

And I'm very curious about the two people who came to my blog by googling "peeing on your leg hangover cure." The only real hangover cure is to be sick for three days in a row and then be shown pictures of you swimming in the ocean with only half your clothes on. Then, trust me, you will never want to drink again.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Not So Picture Perfect

When we were first married, I told my husband I wanted five kids. All boys. He looked at me like I was mad and asked "why?" I told him, "I love boys, they are so naughty."

He shook his head and said, "Only two." I told him we could compromise, with four. We are still negotiating.

Yesterday was pretty much a quintessential day with a house full of boys. It was crazy, unexpected, wierdly hilarious and wild. I loved every second of the chaos.

My morning started at exactly 7:19 when I heard Ryan howling from his room. He wasn't just whinning to be let free from his baby jail. He was howling. Without having to peek my head in, and even though it had never happened before, I instantly knew what was wrong. My mommy instincts are so finely tuned when it comes to pain cries.

I walked into the boys' room and found Ryan on the floor next to his crib. A long crimson trail of blood flooded from his ear, across his forehard and dripped down his face. I picked him up immediately to console him and then searched for the source of the blood. It took my a while to discover that he was bleeding from a gash in his forehead.

I cleaned him off, feeling 40% grossed out and 60% sympathy, and inspected the wound. It appeared to be gaping. It was smack in the middle of his forehead. And I swear I saw some fatty tissue peaking out from behind the cut. It instantly stopped bleeding with a bandaid, but to be on the safe side, I packed a quick diaper bag and rushed Ryan out to Urgent Care (where our family has been three times this year already!).

Thankfully, no stitches. The doctor said it was completely superficial. Phew, not even a glue bandaid was necessary. But we did walk out with the world's biggest bandaid. Such a brave daredevil!

Of course, as luck would have it, today we were scheduled for an outdoor photo shoot for family portraits. Turns out that getting a family of four ready (with two young boys), is much more difficult than getting a family of three ready (with one small boy). I had our outfits planned ahead for months but I guess I hadn't quite hammered out all the details. Jacob had no dress socks, so I convinced him to wear a pair of my black socks. He got quite the kick out of the fact that his socks went past his knees. Ryan did not have a single pair of clean matching socks. We improvised and hoped his pants would cover them. Jacob's brown belt clearly did not match his black shoes. Then, of course, there was Ryan's gory forehead and my gashed up kneed peeking out from beneath my dress. We were quite a sight.

At the last minute I stopped at a store and found a sweater for Jacob. It was meant to keep him warm (he kept complaining of being cold in the polo shirt I made him wear) but had the added bonus of hiding his brown unmatchy belt. Unfortunately, we did not look as put-together and coordinated as I had imagined, but you know what? That's life with two young boys. Chaotic, unkept, improvised, and a little frustrating. We definitely looked the part.

We met our wonderful photographer in Tacoma. Immediately my outgoing four year old turned into the shyest human on earth. He was stingy with smiles at first but finally warmed up after we kept insisting that he "better not smile this time!" In every other shot, Ryan was captured trying to smack his brother on the top of the head. Jacob wouldn't let go of his filthy, dirt-covered "special doggy" stuffed animal. When we posed them together for a sibling shot, they both kept falling over, while clutching each other. And then Jacob kept photo-bombing our couples shot.

Thank goodness we all had a great sense of humor! The photographer laughed at the chaos and captured the craziness in his photos. This is real life, people. This is our family. This is simply what little boys do. Thankfully, I know that there are at least a handful of great shots. And the photographer even promised to edit out Ryan's gashed forehead and my banged up, scabby knees. Phew!

After the photoshoot we took the kids out for dinner. It's not often we are all together and dressed so (mostly) nicely. We stopped at one of our favorite burger joints and, for the first time in a long time, all had a nice dinner out. I was enjoying our time together so much that I didn't even mind that Ryan kept trying to feed me every five second by thrusting his spoon into my mouth. I didn't mind having to shove my food down my throat while simultaneously pulling Ryan off the table and reminding Jacob to eat his burger and not just his fries. My husband and I were only a little irked that Jacob kept trying to blow bubbles in his milkshake causing it to spill all over the table. My husband and I didn't even mind taking turns interrupting our meal to take the kids to the bathroom and change their diapers.

As we piled into the car I looked back fondly on our day. It was chaotic. It was busy. It was frustrating at times. But we were together. As usual, the boys had filled our day with stress, worry, and frustration but these trying moments were interspersed with laugher, smiles, and candid, unplanned sweet moments. It was the absolute perfect picture of our life with two small boys.

I'm slowly learning not to view moments of frustration as black spots on the day but as opportunities to step up to the plate at this whole parenting thing and put our skills to the test. Not only do parents have to manage expectations (of their children and of themselves) but parents need to learn that the hard parts are the growing pains. They are evidence that our children are growing and learning and processing the world around them. Nothing is more wonderful than the journey of a child finding his place in the world and experiencing the unconditional love of his parents through their guidance and acceptance. And then your kid shits his pants and it's totally acceptable to scream at a wall.

I was almost tempted to ask the photographer not to edit the pictures. Almost.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Blind Eye

As I was running to catch the ferry today, weighted down with a heavy laptop bag and a large purse/bag, the top of my foot hit an uneven part of the pavement and I came crashing down. In a very undignified and sloppy way, I landed on my hands and knees, tangled in a web of bag straps.

I instantly felt an immensely sharp stinging pain in my knees as the surface of my flesh had been gouged out across the sidewalk. I next felt shock as I lifted my head up, looked down at the large hole in my black tights and saw bloody red circles on both knees. I then felt embarrassed. And then, as I stood to collect my stuff, I felt sad.

I was on a busy Seattle sidewalk along the waterfront. People were everyone. No one bothered to stop and help me or even ask if I was ok. They walked right by as if I wasn't there, on the ground, bleeding from my knees. In fact, I had been walking next to two business men who painfully waltzed right past me as I went down and continued walking by without so much as a glitch.

I walked down the street half a block when I passed a young, hipster-like man walking with a woman. As I passed, the man smiled, almost as if he were trying not to laugh and said to me, "We tried not to look because we didn't want you to be embarassed." He was smiling broadly and I somehow felt that his "kindness" was at my expense.

Good thing I was wearing sunglasses because as I walked the rest of the way to the ferry, and passed the two business men who had walked right by me (I walk fast, even with an injury), I started to cry. It was probably a mix of embarassment, shock, and pain--my knees are still stinging as I type this several hours later. But at the heart of my emotion was the feeling of isolation and callousness from stangers. I've fallen several times in public in Seattle (since law school my commute has always involved a lot of walking so it's bound to happen). But from each fall, I remember the kindness of at least one stranger. It's always embarrassing to take a public tumble. But I never knew how much the caloussness would hurt.

The hipster told me he "tried not to look" as if he were doing me some grand favor. Is that what we do here? When people are hurt and in pain, we try not to look? How completely sad is that? I admit that I generally prefer to mind my own business in public. I even like the fact that I can go out into public and expect not to be approached by people. I like that Seattleites are polite but not necessarily friendly or forward. But I've never known Seattleites to just walk by someone who has fallen without so much as batting an eye. Isn't that our natural instinct? When someone falls, to reach out and ask "are you ok?"

The funny thing is, while I was riding the bus last month, I overheard two people talking about Seattle. One said she was from the south and she thought Seattleites were cold people. She said, "If I fell on the street, I doubt anyone would help me, you know?" She then ranted about how southerners were so much nicer than Seattleites. The other guys didn't quite agree with her and neither did I. I was so tempted to speak up and defend my city. I wanted to butt-in and reassure the woman that I had fallen several times in downtown Seattle and had been offered assistance each time. I wanted her to know that we are nice people. But maybe I had it all wrong. Maybe the joke was on me?

So now I'm wondering, do people ignore others because they are genuinely worried about making people feeling embarrassed? Or is it a crutch. An excuse to not care or to even bother? Either way, I really AM embarrassed--embarrassed by the callousness of my peers.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013


I just spent most of my sacred work-free time shopping for dinner, prepping for dinner, and making dinner. I made pea curry from scratch. This required me to violently whack open a coconut with a hammer and peel off the fresh meat- much easier said that done. I paired the pea curry with tandoori chicken which I had prepped early in the morning (skipping my morning trip to the gym) and let marinate all day. I served the curry and chicken with rice, raita, and naan (which I usually make from scratch but ran out of time today).

After all the effort, I was pleased with the results but exhausted. I had managed to cook the meal while my husband was at the gym and with both kids getting into messes, making repeated requests from me, and being cranky and clingy. I had to toss frozen peas on the floor for Ryan as a distraction once or twice and then bribe him with a dum dum sucker.

When my husband walked through the door at 8:00 p.m. and approached a meticulously set dining table full of hot food, I was just a little burnt out. A couple bites into the meal I asked my husband what he thought of my dinner, expecting at least a "thank you." Right?

He just shrugged his shoulders and make a glutteral sound in the back of his throught that seemed to say, "I don't know."

Seriously?! Can you at least FAKE IT? PLEASE?!

I was tempted to threaten him by saying, "Fine. Tomorrow you can just eat htodogs." But I knew he would secretly love that.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Ultimate BBQ Chicken Tacos

Taco night is a big deal. Dinners haven't been the same ever since I stumbled upon a homemade tortilla recipe. Making tortillas from scratch will change your life. Soft, warm, carbolicious tortillas hugging fresh chicken and topped with mountains of fresh produce. Seriously, it's like all the food groups in one meal! Tacos are amazing.

My husband has been asking me to make BBQ chicken tacos for a while. I pretty much scoured the interweb for recipes but none of them had enough ingredients. Most were kind of blah-- bbq sauce, chicken, and cheese. Seriously? Who needs a recipe to make that? I wasn't very inspired.

So, I pulled ALL the recipes together and, with a little tweaking, based upon what I had in my own pantry, created what I like to believe is the Ultimate BBQ Chicken Soft Taco. I don't even like BBQ chicken (gasp!) and I couldn't get enough of these. Initially, I wasn't so confident that sour cream and BBQ sauce would mix. But it turned out to be a winning combo!

Please ignore my hideous food photography.

2 large chicken breasts
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon ground oregano
1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon salt

Taco "Accessories"
Sweet Baby Ray's BBQ sauce
red onions
monterrey jack cheese
sour cream

Last but not least: Homemade tortillas

1. Make the spice rub by mixing all the spices together. Rub generously over the chickent breasts. Bake chicken (covered) in a 350 degree oven until the internal temp reaches 170. When the chicken is done cooking, shred it with two forks and spoon all the juices on top. To me, the shredded chicken is a must. Regular chicken just doesn't have the right texture.

2.Serve the chicken with tortillas and "accessories." My husband liked to spoon and rub sour cream over the tortillas, add the filler, then drizzle the BBQ chicken on top. I omitted the avocado. And gave them to Ryan.

By the way, my one year old loved these- the chicken, tomatoes, and avocado especially. I love that I can put food on his tray and let him feed himself while I eat. I sure haven't missed eating with one hand.

Side note: when I purchased the avocado from the grocery store, the checker asked me what it was! Ha ha. How can you work in a grocery store and NOT know what an avocado is?!?

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Ryan's Pirate Party

We celebrated Ryan's first birthday yesterday with friends and family. I had been planning it for a while and crossing my fingers for sun so that I could take some of the kids outside for games. But it rained all week. Even though it didn't rain the day of, the grass was still too wet. Oh well. We crammed about 20 people into our tiny living room. It was definitely cozy.

I had originally planned a bunch of labor-intensive, pirate-themed games. But as the party got closer and closer, my level of caring decreased dramatically. On top of that, because there was no outdoor play space, I had to make some changes to the games.

So my fancy pirate ship bouncy house turned into a cardboard box full of balloons. Which, by the way, the kids LOVED. It was 100% giggling chaos. The "big kids" even got into it.


The outdoor treasure hunt turning into a game where the kids suspended a "fishing pole" behind a carboard "sea" curtain. My sister was on the other side attaching prizes and toys to the fishing pole. Kids got the occassional stinky sock, pair of kid's underwear, and wad of toilet paper. This generated much laughter but only so long as the lucky kid who pulled the prank gift got a "re-do."

I pulled out our building blocks and had the kids build towers for the babies to knock down. Then we used to blocks to contruct a "plank" and the kids took turns "walking the plank."

I made three different homemade pizzas: bbq chicken, pesto hawaiian, and thick crusted pepperoni and olives. We also served a mountain of sweet and spicy meatballs (cranberry sauce, sweet chili sauce, sauerkraut, and brown sugar). There was also plenty of appetizers and snacks, my personal favorite. We had a massive chocolate cake from Costco (best cake ever!). We will be eating leftover cake for the next three weeks as it served 48 people-- the only size available.

My favorite part of the day was watching my sweet Ryan dig into his birthday cake. He hated it. every time he took a bite he made this face:

But he still managed to get it all over his face.

We ended with presents and more play time.

My sweet neice who is four days older than Ryan:


This one is my favorite. It looks like they are laughing about a secret.
Uncle Mike making the babies laugh:

All in all, it was a busy whirlwind of a day. Not everything happened as expected. But, we got to celebrate our sweet little Ry-Guy with family and friends. How could it not have been a good day?

Friday, April 19, 2013

Home Is Where The Mom Is

My mom was telling me about a mutual acquaintance when she said, "You know, I don't think she will have any more kids." (She has one now). Surprised at her presumption, I asked her why.

"She isn't really the mother type," she answered.

Hmmm. I thought that was odd. But then I thought about it some more. I thought about some of the people I knew. I thought about my own challenges in parenthood. The more I thought about it the more it made sense. Not everyone who has kids is naturally inclined in the motherhood department. The characteristics we often correlate with mothering don't magically appear the moment you give birth. 

I think being a parent is my favorite part about being an adult. It by far tops all other experiences I have had. But I think people can still feel this way and still love their child beyond words and still not be naturally-inclined parents. Raising kids takes an endless supply of energy and empathy and guidance and selfessness. It's constantly putting your children's needs ahead of your own (rare exception: date night, then all bets are off). Also, it's just as much about knowing when to stand aside and give your child some opportunities to grow on his own.

Not all people are instinctively good at putting other people first. And not all people are intuitive and nurturing by nature. I think we can all learn these skills but I do believe that some people are just born with a greater amount of these characteristics than others.

Today, it seems, we are so quick to label every stated difference between men and women as sexism. Is it sexist if I say that the best mommy qualities are nurturing, patience, and selflessness? I don't think we automatically list these as desirable fathering qualities. Or do we? I don't want to speak for all of society. Regardless, in my mind, these are important components of a mother's role.

This week, I was working in my "home office" when I heard my children giggling in the next room. I heard my mom playing with them, explaining things to them, and laughing with them. Jacob started to be difficult and, at a point where I would have totally lost my mommy marbles, my mom continued to speak to him in a soft and loving and patient tone. The next minute they were all laughing again and my mom continued to be her naturally cheerful self. 

I stopped writing my motion mid-sentence and felt so very grateful for my mom. I recalled the same cheerful "mommy voice," the same understanding demeanor, and the same depths of patience from my own childhood memories. Right then, it suddenly struck me. I think I'm a good mom. I know I'm doing right by my kids. But, my own mom is just such an amazing, nurturing, patient, selfless, and loving soul. She is, without a doubt, a better mother than I am.

She always put us first. Always. I can't recall a single time that she did not put us first. This doesn't mean she always gave us what we wanted. Or caved to our demands. She was tough on us when she had to be but she was always the most cheerful person in the room. She was always the first person to get on the floor and play with us kids. She would not just supervise or watch as many parents would do. She would join in our game, on our own level.

Obviously, she isn't perfect (although she comes pretty close). When we were naughty growing up, instead of losing her cool, she would smile, close her eyes and pray outloud, "Dear Jesus, please help my children to be loving and good listeners and help them to learn to obey." We absolutely hated that. It was the worst punishment ever. We would have prefered to be thrown in our room or spanked than to have to listen to our mom pray to Jesus about our lack of character.

I have only heard my mom utter the "f" word one time in my entire life (so unlike me who has sprinkled my kid's childhood with unapolagetic f-bombs). I was 14 years old and I was rendered totally distraught by her use of the word. It was so unlike her that I was completely dumbfounded and speechless. My mom also has her sources of sadness. But she doesn't let these sources defeat her or anyone else for that matter. She has found a deep inner joy and it radiates through everything she does.

She is tough shoes to fill. While I have strength in other qualities, and while I share her nurturing and empathic qualities, I will never be as selfless or patient as she is. I will never have her unshakable cheerfulness. She is the most naturally-inclined mother I have ever met. She is simply amazing. And, while I can't be like her or even be measured on the same scale, I am equal parts ecstatic and extremely fortunate that my children have her as a grandmother. There is no doubt that she fills in where my mothering is incomplete or where my attention and time are stretched to the limits.

When I walk into her house on the weekdays that I work from her basement, I feel completely safe and serene. There is so much love and cheerfulness in her house that it engulfs both me and my children in a large invisible blanket. It's as if the entire house is hugging us from the inside. As if the walls are radiating joy. At the source of the love, we feel content and cared for. I can only hope that this is how my own children feel in our home.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Home, Part 1: Master Bedroom

I'm pretty sure I mention how tiny my house is in nearly every blogpost. But bear with me while I say it again...950 square feet! For 4 people, that's insane. But, as my husband likes to say, our has good bones. It's a 103 year old craftsman style home with a victorian peak and decorative shingles.

It's a perfect home. Except for how small it is. And the fact that everything needs updating. And as soon as we bought it we had to sink a small fortune into a brand new roof. And I haven't had a dishwasher in 6.5 years! But this year we tackle our remodel of the huge, unfinished attic. The remodel will also involve removing a couple walls from the main floor which will really open up the floor plan. And allow everyone to see my hideous green kitchen cabinets from the front door. Can't wait!

In the meantime, we're doing little things to make the tiny home more accomodating of two adults, one child, and one baby.

All this time, I've battled the crampedness of the home by making sure there is an official "place" for every object. I would say this is the #1 most important rule for small homes. Every toy has a spot. Every game has a place on a shelf. Every item of clothing, toiletry, towel, crayon, etc. has a special drawer. As soon as one object is not immediately needed, it goes RIGHT back to its spot. In a tiny house, it's amazing how five toys on the floor can make your living room look like a war zone.

Well, it turns out that while all of this is very important. It is not quite enough. Secret #2 is this: making every square foot lovable, cozy, and inviting. We have one living/dining room, a kitchen, and two bedrooms. These are the livable spaces. But for some reason, we were only spending time in the living room. At any given time, the four of us were constantly congretated within the confines of the same four walls. I am a claustrobe. I was going crazy.

After a little bit of soul searching, I finally figured out what was going on. The two bedrooms were dark, cold, often cluttered, and just not loveable. The people who owned the house before us had a very strange color pallete. In my opinion, the color of a wall should not stand out (unless it is an accent wall). You should not know the color of a room's walls unless you consciously think about it. This is why I love light neutral colors. And turns out that dark walls make rooms look smaller. I definitely do not need any of that!

So this year, we invested a tiny bit of time and a tiny bit of money to re-vamp our bedroom. This is what the "master" bedroom (absolutely nothing master about it!) looked like before we moved in.

This is what it looked like with our crap in it for over six years (because we were too poor and lazy to change anything). Gross.

The photos do not adequately capture the hideousness of that paint color. Seasickness green is what I would call it. Or booger green. Or green bean poopy diaper. Or smashed bug's guts green.

This is what is looks like NOW (at night):

It clearly needs some work- ignore the piles of crap on the floor and the cheap-ass night stands. But it's amazing how much difference a new coat of paint and a new comforter can make. It makes me so very happy! I seriously want to be in here all the time now. When my husband was gone all last week for a work conference, I lived in this room.

I love dream catchers. I really wanted a black and white sketch of a dream catcher hanging on an old wooden door. I couldn't find one. And I was too lazy to sketch one myself. But I finally found this print and I love it! So appropriate for above the bed, right? I think the walls on either side of the painting still need something more but I haven't figured it out yet.

And the birdy painting I made three years ago FINALLY has a spot on the wall. Right next to the curtains I hemmed only nine months after my husband bought them. When it comes to the bedroom, we move like molasses. Wait. That came out wrong.

Noisy Park

Another weekend has come and gone like a whisp on the wind. This weekend, like most, was so full of stuff. From sunrise to sundown, the four of us are forever moving. For the adults, it's mostly chores. Today alone I did three loads of laundry (omg! One baby boy has tripled our laundry somehow), washed countless loads of dishes (no dishwasher), and cooked way too many meals. Weekends should last longer. Or I should learn how to cram more activities into a 48 hour period.

There is a park near our house that captivates Jacob. I'm not sure why. It has a lame play structure. There are never any kids there. And we live just as close to a much better park. This one park is located at the intersection of two busy streets. Because of this, we never take Jacob there. When Jacob was not even two years old, my husband told him, "We don't go to that park. There is too much traffic. It's too noisy." Ever since then, Jacob has accurately dubbed that park "Noisy Park."

Jacob's contantly begging us to take him to Noisy Park. I'm pretty sure that 90% of the allure of the park must be in the fact that we simply don't take him there. We have been there just one time in the four years of Jacob's life. That was when he was 2 and he still talks fondly of that day and remembers every detail of our trip. (Jacob has the world's best memory. He remembers things that I don't remember--"Mommy, remember one time when I was two and we went to that store and I was wearing my green shirt?").

This weekend, I sucked it up, loaded the wagon, and took the kids to Noisy Park.

And the park is still lame. But kids...eh. Give them an open field.

Or a worm.

Or a flower.

Or even just a rickety old swing set.

And they will be entertained for hours.

I love the picture of Jacob holding a worm. It sums up everything I love about boys. Jacob was mid-swing when he saw it with his falcon-like vision wriggling five feet away deep within the bark. If there is a worm within spitting distance, Jacob will find it. He stopped the swing, dug through the bark, and picked it up without hesitation. You know, 'cause that's what you do when you find a worm! He held it out to me as part of some grand, selfless gesture.

Someday, I will be very sad when there are no longer any little boys to bring me worms.

Thursday, April 11, 2013


Exactly one year ago, I swore I would never have any more kids. The whole c-section thing (x2) was pretty traumatic. The second time around, I'm pretty sure it was mostly in my head. But it was still rough. I remember sitting there in my hospital bed, trying to recover, being in pain, not being able to walk, feeling like death. In that moment, I swore up and down, to the depth of my soul that I would not, could not, ever do it again.

But now...a year later, I don't remember what the pain felt like. I don't remember what the death felt like. I just remember that I felt like death and pain. And that memory in itself is slowly fading, like ink bathed in sunlight. That memory is being swallowed by want. A deeply-rooted want. A want that is completely illogical given that we are already so short of space (4 people in a 950 sq. ft, 2 bedroom, 1 bath home) and money (I will be paying off Ryan's hospital bill for the next two years and I will be paying off my lawschool when the kids go to college!). It is illogical given the fact that I absolutely hate pregnancy. That I just figured out daytime childcare for the two children I already have. That I just started a new job that is becoming more and more demanding.

Despite the complete irrationality, I want another baby. I feel like our family is missing someone. And as I lose my baby to toddlerhood, as his gummy smile becomes overrun with teeth, as his chunky thighs begin to lengthen, as his one-legged shuffle turns into walking, the want is overpowering. It just feels right. It feels like the next step. It feels like the answer to a question I haven't even put into words. It does not make sense in my brain, but in my heart the feeling is infallible.

But it takes two. And so far, my husband is exercising his veto power. He swears we are done. That we can't handle the kids we have. That he have no where to put another baby. We don't have room in our cars. That we cannot afford another hospital bill. That we already have no energy and no time.

I hear what he says. But the words sink lifelessly to the pit of my stomach and settle there uneasily. The logic is not enough to explain away how I feel. To satisfy my need for another person to love. To fulfill my dream of being wrinkled and bent and surrounded in a room bursting full of children. I just keep thinking that there is a life up there, waiting sadly to join us. And a chunk of my heart is wanting desperately to love it.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

It's A Beautiful Day In The Mommyhood

The working mom ups and downs are crazy sometimes. Last week was a rough one. I worked late on most days. Two of those days, I did not see my kids at all because when I got home at 8pm, they were already passed out in their beds. But, I did handle my first mediation, which was pretty cool, although very stressful.

But a week of craziness led me to today. On days like today, the crazy working-mom lifestyle feels completely worth it. I must note that days like today are only possible for me because I get to work "from home" two days a week rather than do my usual 4 hour+ commute. (To the reader who wondered why we don't just move to Seattle: the value of our [950 sq ft] house is so much lower than our mortage right now. If we wanted to move/sell, we would have to come up with 1/3 the amount of our mortgage to cover the difference. Not possible.)

But...Today was full and wonderful. It's one of those nights where I go to bed with a smile. Sure, not everything was great about today, but the good parts really outshined the bad parts. Sounds kind of like my entire life right now: extremely hard, but rescued by occassional moments of absolute, raw goodness.

My husband left today for a business trip. He will be gone the rest of the week and I get to do the single parent thing. But before he left, he accompanied us to Ryan's 1 year well-check. Ryan is ideal baby boy. He has always been 50th percentile in height and weight (with a 75th percentile head). While he's not walking or talking, he is right on track and advanced in other areas. He's tender and sweet. He has a very gently personality. He loves balls. Absolutely loves them. It makes daddy feel a little better about the fact that his other favorite toy is my blush brush.

After the check-up we took both boys to get hair cuts. It was Ryan's first haircut, We all said a happy farewell to Ryan's baby mullet. Jacob got another big boy buzz cut.

I put in a full day of work at my mom's house. At lunch time, I stopped for a short-but-meaningful cuddle time with the boys and to threaten Jacob with time-out for not listening to Grandma. Then I worked some more. I did some legal research in an unfamiliar area of law and then drafted an opposition to a motion for summary judgment.

After work, I walked into the kitchen just in time to watch Ryan feeding himself some yogurt. He is a very determined little boy. When it comes to food, he wants to do everything himself. This is totally fine with me because I can never keep the spoonfuls coming fast enough for his liking anyway.

Grandma took away his yogurt!

Then I took both boys to the gym where they played in childwatch while I cranked out 5 miles (8 minute pace! I'm getting my running legs back, slowly but surely). I have also been using a personal trainer to try to get my abs back into shape-- trying to fix the abdominal separation that Ryan gave me. My gym had a deal going on so I signed up to learn some ab exercises that I could later do on my own. I absolutely LOVE my trainer. We really connect and I love that I can count on my abs feeling so sore for the entire week that it is painful to laugh or cough. Bonus: I am now three pounds below my pre-pregnancy weight!

After I ran my heart out (feels so good to sweat!), I played with the kids a little. Ryan, no surprise, loved basketball. He's so eager to play with the big kids. We need to work a little bit on his dribble.

We had so much fun playing that I lost track of time and we didn't get home until 8:30 p.m.!

Working Mommyhood, I have conquered you! If only for one day.

Monday, April 8, 2013

A Love Note To My One Year Old

Ouch. My cheeks sting. My throat is closing, as if I swallowed a rock. And something deep inside is hurting. Tomorrow is my baby's first birthday. It should be a happy occassion. Although I am feeling many things right now, happy is not included in that list.

Can it really be a year ago that I tightly wrapped my precious newborn and carried him out into the world? I remember holding him with so much devotion, it was like he were a priceless unclaimed treasure that I had to keep clasping desperately in order to claim as my own. The day he was born, I accepted Ryan's babyhood as a beloved, sacred gift. A package straight from God, addressed to and personalized for me. A package that I had asked for and waited for patiently (and not so patiently) for too long.

Everyone talks about how special it is the first time you become a mom. It's true. There are so many special things that happen when your first child is born. It changes you, like a messy, exhausting, breathless, amazing rite of passage. But, this second time around, I am much more appreciative of every single moment. I am much more aware of the passing of each day. Every gummy smile that crossed Ryan's face alerted me to the fact that I had one less gummy smile in my future as my baby grew into a toddler.

This must be why Ryan's one-year milestone is so hard for me. I know now, more so than ever, how fleeting and precious the moments of babyhood really are. Knowledge is both a blessing and a back-stabber. While I know how much I have to look forward to as my baby grows, I also know exactly what I am losing the day Ryan turns one.

This sadness has a cure. I'm going to keep having babies. Forever. How does a person survive without a sweet toothless baby in the house? I think this is why Ryan is not yet walking or talking. He just knows that his mommy and daddy need him to be a baby a little while longer. I'm not complaining. Not one bit!

Happy Birthday Ryan. You have filled our home with so much love and admiraton. You have brought mommy and daddy so many pillow-talk conversations about how precious you are and just how lucky we are to be your parents. Not only have you given your big brother a playmate, but you have taught him how to love, how to protect, how to teach. In your quiet, gentle way, you taught Jacob what it is like to care for someone outside himself. You have taught mommy and daddy what it is like to love beyond all will and control. And you taught all of us that the fountain of love is limitless.

I was so afraid when you were born that there wouldn't be enough love to go around. That, like water in a large container, my love would only fill you and Jacob half way. But with your birth, I discovered that love is not like water at all. Love is like light. It has no boundaries and can expand to fit the container that it holds.

Like light, love has no definite boundaries. It is not guided by the same laws that bind the rest of us. It is stronger than pain, exhaustion, hunger, fear. And that is why, I feel fully confident in making you this promise:

There is nothing you or the unpredictable forces of life can do that will weaken my love. The overwhelming, brimming love that I feel for you today, as I wrap your tiny body in my arms and as your soft, chubby cheeks press against my chest, will always be here. No matter what you do. I know you will test this promise many times in your life. Go ahead. It is here for you to test and stretch and challenge. But, it will never change. Unless, of course, it grows stronger.