Thursday, January 31, 2013

times like these.

last night, i did what i always do. i asked the kids what they learned at school that day.

for alex it's usually something regarding math or the current animal they are studying. for ian it goes something like, 'nothing, i learned nothing' or 'i don't like school, or learning'.

tonight, in unison they both said, 'we learned the lockout drill!'

'excuse me?' lockout drill? (i ponder) 'is this like a fire drill, or an earthquake drill?'

'yes' alex replies. 'but instead of an earthquake or fire we are protecting ourselves from burglars, or bears, or anything outside of the school trying to come in to hurt us'.

'i see. well good (i lie). now eat your peas.'

Sunday, January 27, 2013

check check 1, 2. testing...

sometimes, you just have to check yourself. just like your yearly review at work, or requesting feedback after an interview it's nice to know, 'are you performing well?'

this is true at home too. and so i decided to check in with the kids (and sean) with a few fun interview questions. let's find out if i make the grade.

so here we go, a girl (7) a boy (5),  and a very 'reluctant to participate husband'.  do they know their momma (wife)? is she painting the right picture for them? showing them in the right ways that she loves them?

here goes. i'm scared.

1.  what is something mommy always says to you?

I: i love you

A: settle down

S: don't tell me to relax

2.  what makes mommy happy?

I: snuggling

A:  when we're quieter

S: your couch

3.  what makes mommy sad?

I:  when i scratch my face

A:  when we don't listen

S: your couch (damn fallen back support pillows from hell)

4.  how does mommy make you laugh?

I:  tickling me!

A:  when you make silly faces. 

S:  by tickling me. (lies, I ask again) your funny FUNNY jokes (ass). i say i can't believe he doesn't have a long list of things that make him laugh because i am SO FUNNY. (he laughs). and I say, 'see?'

5.  what was mommy like as a child?

I:  a little girl

A:  like me?

S:  a brat

6.  how old is mommy?

I:  43

A:  um, 34!

S: 34

7.  how tall is mommy?

I:  10

A:  6 feet?

S: 5'7"" (close)

8.  what is mommys favorite thing to do?

I:  hug me

A:  cook

S: paint, NO no no. interior decorating.

9.  what does mommy do when you're not around?

I:  work

A:  be with friends

S: re-arrange the house. and then put it back to where it was before.

10.  if mommy becomes famous, what will it be for?

I:  being a good worker

A:  singing

S:  uh, interior decorating

11.  what is mommy really good at?

I:  hugging

A: cooking, coloring, reading

S: cooking. and you're good at being a mom. 

12.  what does mommy do for her job?

I:  work. a job is like when you do something really nice.

A: work for Nike. for the golf part.

S: crunch numbers

13.  what is mommy's favorite food?

I:  little radishes, what are those called? oh, brussel sprouts.

A:  hmmmmm, radishes? 

S:  you do like a good french dip. salmon.

14.  what makes you proud of mommy?

I:  saying that i love you all the time.

A: when you read to me.

S: uhhhhhhhhhh (long pause I won't read into it) your parenting.

15.  if mommy was a cartoon character, who would she be?

I:  mickey mouse!

A: mickey mouse!


16.  what do you and mommy do together?

I:  snuggle, hug, play mariokart and read books.

A: watch movies, eat dinner.

S:  is this public? we laugh. we watch movies. we try to play nintendo but i hate it so then we fight about how i don't want to play.

17.  how are you and mommy the same?

I:  we both have short hair and our eyes are the same and our nose is the same and our mouth is the same and our body is the same. but not our boobies.

A: when we were little you had curly hair too. 

S: that's hard. we enjoy our families.

18.  how are you and mommy different?

I:  well, that I don't have any boobies and you do. and you have different color hair.

A: you're taller than me. and, you have short hair. 

S:  you are WAY more compassionate than I am.

19.  how do you know mommy loves you?

I:  because she hugs and kisses me and she always says that she loves me.

A: when you give me hugs and kisses. 

S: you still like to snuggle with me.

20.  where is mommy's favorite place to go?

I:  that's hard. john's incredible pizza? (no). chucky cheese? (no) i don't want to say your favorite place because I don't know.

A: out to dinner?

S: anywhere with sun


thursdays for me are just like wednesdays, and tuesdays, and monday's. they are all basically the same. and by thursday night i feel like i'm on the verge of crazy a little tiny bit. like, is this really happening? again? same as yesterday? get up, get ready, get kids ready, drive to work, work work work, drive home, pick up kids, make dinner, make lunches, put kids to bed, pass out on the couch in a crumpled embarrassing mess.

last night. thursday night. i found myself sitting at the stop light turning left to home with the kids in the back and knew...i just knew that i could not do EXACTLY what i did last night again. i had to mix it up or else i might just find myself resting within the confines of a padded room in some institution.

so i turned right instead. and i drove to trader joes.

we had no food in the house, and i do not enjoy shopping with the kids or without a detailed list of needs, but i couldn't go home. not yet, at 5:37 the same time as yesterday and the day before and the day before.

so we shopped, and we filled two tiny munchkin carts with pizza fixings. and we pushed those little carts around the store hunting down the hidden monkey so the kids could dig in the treasure box. alex, taking it very seriously and minding the rules of the road, stacking her cart in an organized manner. ian, pretending to race in the grand prix, stuffing his cart with the punches of his fists and nearly cutting off every other shopper in the store with the screech of his cart's wheels.

and we went home at 6:25 instead.

and we found daddy home already, and the dog had been let out, and the mail was brought in. all different from yesterday.

we made dinner as a family instead of me, alone.

we made a mess, and didn't clean it up.

we skipped homework, and made funny faces instead.

we ate scraps instead of saving our appetites for dinner.

we ate in the living room, on the couch instead of the table.

we watched 'sweet genius' instead of reading books.

then i asked sean if he'd put the kids to bed so i could watch the last and final episode of 'private practice' ever and he said yes.

and then i passed out in a crumpled and embarrassing mess on the couch. just like yesterday and the day before, and the day before that.

Monday, January 14, 2013


one month ago today, 26 people were shot and killed in a Connecticut elementary school. 20 of them were children under the age of 7. the school district in the neighboring town to where my 3 cousins attend school. 3 days before that, a mall in our hometown was attacked, where 2 others died.

i have not been the same since.

something changed in me that day. i might say it's a positive change, but somehow you don't want anything positive to come from such a tragedy. or, maybe that's how people get through these events. they take something so horrific, and they find that silver lining that can somehow make sense of it. but, on that morning, when i started to see the headlines a perspective was pounded so deep within me, i see it every day. in the face of my 5 and 7 year old children. 

i can do anything as long as my children are safe. i can get through anything as long as my children are alive and healthy. nothing should seem hard so long as i'm not grieving the loss of my small child. these thoughts pour through my mind each and every day. at 11:30 at night when i'm hunched over my laptop getting some work done, or at 5 pm when i'm exhausted and parked on the freeway that hasn't moved in 5 minutes, at 8:15 at night when i think i can't possible stay awake long enough to get my kids to bed. at 2pm on a sunday, when i'm wondering how many times more I'll be able to tell my grandparents i love them.

the level at which this event has affected me cannot be explained in words. and knowing this, I cannot imagine how the deep pain the parents of those 20 small children must feel. one evening after scrolling through the names and ages of each child on the internet i fell to my knees in the middle of the kitchen with a feeling so powerful and overwhelming I could no longer stand. the story is one that's hard to believe. and even today, as i think about it my first instinct is that it is only a bad dream. i must have dreamt it. something so horrible could never happy in my lifetime. 

and then reality sets in, and when it does my body naturally goes searching for my kids. who i embrace, and squeeze, and maybe even scare a little as they wonder why mommy hugs them so hard with tears in her eyes. 

this weekend, I spent the majority of my time at fort vancouver convalescent home where my grandmother is (prayers prayers prayers) staying temporarily. both her and my grandfather have suffered some serious medical complications in the past weeks and as my family comes together to help them through this time i'm reminded of what is so important in life. it's only the people we share it with. these people are gifts to us. our family, our friends, our children. gifts. gifts that are not promised to us forever.  my family is clinging to each other during this time. hugs are longer, more words are said, closure is made on issues unimportant. 

a month ago if someone asked me, 'what's up?' I may have said. 'oh man, i'm so busy. work work work, kids kids kids, i have no food in the house and the laundry is piled in the laundry room! my moldings are half complete and some are ripped off the walls, the garage is a MESS, and the car needs servicing. i maybe have thought to myself, 'i never brought in those plants from the yard this winter', and 'crap, that water bill is still left un-paid'. but today, i could really care less about all of that. honest to god, who cares.

i sat with my grandmother at dinner last night in a dining hall full of wheel chairs. my sister, my aunt and myself squeezed our chairs around the small two person table my grandmother was sharing with leota kyle. leota, a recent heart attack victim who was having rehabilitation therapy for the coming 3 weeks. leota was busy poking at her pureed food, and trying to pour her thick buttermilk onto her tray when she said, 'every time i ask for regular milk, and all they do is bring me this crap'. we laughed and asked if we were crowding her. 'oh no!', she said, 'i welcome the company'. so we talked.

the two old ladies asked each other what they 'were in for' as if they were serving time at the county jail. they shared health stories and then deep dived into the important stuff. 'tell me about your family'. the two of them talked about their children, their grandchildren, their great grand-children. they talked about their husbands and how many years they'd been married.

it was interesting to me, that at 78 and 82 these people talked only about the people in their lives. there were was no mention of jobs, or where they lived, how successful they were or weren't. no talk of what kind of house they lived in, what kind of car they drove. it's the people at the end of the day that matter and mean anything at all. it was profound. 

i looked around the room at all the people sitting alone and felt sadness. betty lou in the corner, who we'd invited to grandma's birthday party the day prior was causing a ruckus at the dinner table. she asked, 'my family, what if they never come?' and here, my grandmother with her daughter and two granddaughters was the richest of all. 

so today, when someone said, 'how are you?' my answer was not 'tired, or busy', it was 'i'm great, yesterday i was able to spend the entire day visiting with my 82 year grandmother. today, both kids bounced out of bed with their two healthy bodies, and i came to work to a job that has supported me and my family all these years. 

i have such an amazing family that sometimes i'm overcome by it. we have so much fun together, and laugh and even in the toughest situations support each other. sometimes pulling from the depths of our beings to provide it. none of us are perfect, and we all have our individual struggles and worries. we are all tired with the stress of the last few weeks, but it's from the giving to each other. the gifts that hopefully one day, when I'm rolling myself into a dining hall of strangers i'll get to share. in the same proud and super brave way my grandmother did last night. after dinner, as we waited for the wheelchair traffic jam to clear in the hallway she looked at me and sort of laughed. after her stroke she's still struggling to string a sentence all the way together but i know what she said was this; 'i can't believe that i'm here. that i'm old enough to be here'. i said, 'it must be so surreal.' because at the young age of 34 (in her eyes) you begin to realize that although the years tick by, the person you are on the inside never changes. she looked at me with a tear in her eye and nodded, 'yes, yes it is.'

for a brief moment, i put myself in her shoes (or, her slippers) and was given a gift, such a gift of perspective. and with that I say, my new years 'motto' which is to live each day just one minute at a time. let the mood of the day not be tainted by a bad moment, soak it up, hug the people you love, do for others, and always be kind as everyone is fighting a hard battle. 

Thursday, January 10, 2013

dear 5 year old Ian,

i'm writing this to you now when your 5 because, i think it's my favorite age. now, i'm pretty sure i said that when you were 1, and 2, and 3 and 4. well maybe not 3, but definitely the others. it's the age i find myself staring at you just as i did alex at 5...with wonder, with hope, with happiness. sometimes with frustration. your little personality is shining through. you're 'figuring it out'. you need me, but not as much. you're not a baby, but you constantly remind us we aren't done parenting. not by a long shot. you challenge us, you make us laugh, and at least once a day cause your dad and i too look at each other with a mutual look of acknowledgement of just how much we love you. 

i figure, someday when you are reading more than just long vowels you'll read this and wonder what you were like at 5. so here goes.

yesterday was a really super day for mommy. you've been having a lot of anger and frustration lately and it's left me nervous that we are doing something wrong. we've been talking with your teacher and your after school daycare counselor about your crazy energy and silliness. focusing in class is not super easy for you at 5. sometimes i feel guilty that i chose to put you in full day kindergarten before you were ready. sometimes i feel guilty that i can't be home after school for you to come home to after school. when you and alex tell me you're sad i have to work. i feel guilty.

i know your tired. i know that school is a big transition and creates a lot of expectations. your dad and i have been working on ways to keep your attention and reward you positively. we've been trying to build your confidence at school so you enjoy it more. yesterday, your teacher sent me an email that you've asked me to read to you over and over again. 

it said,

Ian is a rockstar reader!  He read long vowel words to me today!  He said that he was trying hard in all of his work - and he is right!  

He has also been a good listener and not being silly.  I am so impressed with his work.

Mrs. Kolb

when you came running through the door after school screaming, 'did you get the email mom? did you get the email?' my heart melted. you may have been more proud than your dad and i. and that's saying a lot and maybe even impossible.

i love 5. i love that you sneak into our bed at 4 am so we can snuggle. i love that your dad pretends to be annoyed, but really isn't. i love how you're so good at angry birds and mariokart. i love that you are learning to read. i love that you'll go shoot hoops underhand for hours and always say 'good job' when someone else makes a shot. i love that you compliment our neighbors on their 'cool christmas lights'. i love how you bop your head to music in the car and pretend to sing along but not so loud than anyone can hear. i love how you always get mixed up on your favorite sports teams which are really your dad's favorite sports teams and say your favorite baseball team is the bears. i love how your dad always smiles and follows up with, 'red sox buddy'. 

i don't like that your getting too big for me to hold. i try anyway, and it usually results in a sore back or pinched neck. i don't like that i have to shop in the big boys clothes for you now, and that your starting to have an opinion on what you wear. i don't like that your dad cut your hair too short and look even older than you are. i don't like that most days i only have 2 short hours to spend with you. i don't like that each day that passes, you'll only get older than the last. 

love you my ian bian.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013


my new years motto: 'live today, one minute at a time.'

achieving this for me, is actually worse than vowing to workout more, or picking up that wine bottle a little less. 

i have this nasty habit of living in both the past and the future. i don't blog because i'm so far behind, or i spend time in my day planning the future. i'm about to admit a sick and twisted fact about myself. i don't just balance my checkbook. i balance it's future too. yes. i like to know our financial situation not now, or for tomorrow or til the end of the month. i also like to know what it might look like in august 2014. sick, i know. but i'm a planner. and it's good in many ways. it keeps our lives organized, it keeps our social calendar just the right amount of full, and it keeps our life together. and a life with two jobs and two kids can be challenging. however, it prevents me from enjoying the now. 

so, in the spirit of living today i post my first photos on my now photo-less blog. just because. not because they are wrapping up any events in the past i have yet to write about. but because just now, i took a break at work to look at pictures of my kids. because i miss them when i'm here.

This photo just captures Ian. He lives every moment to the fullest. And usually with a smile.

My sweet girl.

Alex learned to ride her bike ALAS! And Ian is not far behind.

listening to music, wearing teeny bopper clothes

Ian's first Blazer game with dad

I'm so blessed to have such happy kids with sense of humor's for days

my beautiful sister and her fiance

Christmas Morning

Christmas Morning

Tree hunting with style

Thankful to have had Donna & Lauren for Thanksgiving this year

Hermione & Harry Potter for Halloween!

Ian completes his first season of organized sports and does it smashingly