Monday, June 15, 2015

The second-to-last day of school.

Well, I've pretty much made it to the end at this point. Lunches are packed for tomorrow and I'm getting ready to make the kids' "last day of school" signs. Plans have been made for post-school ice cream celebrating. I just went by the school to watch Ethan eat his "summer birthday kid" popsicle. He was less than excited to see me. This is the same kid who sobbed for a good 20 minutes last night at the idea of growing up and having to move away from me. I really never know where I stand with those children.

I've been spending the last week and a bit frantically scheduling all the things that I can't do easily when the kids are at home. Dentist appointments and pedicures and hair cuts and such. Even though I knew the end of school was coming, the reality of them being home all day hadn't occurred to me until it was almost too late. I'm very quick these days.

No good news on the Daniel's dad front. He's been in the hospital since Wednesday, after a bad reaction to a medical test. Still waiting for test results. Every so often, Daniel and I just look at each other and say "THIS SUCKS." There is no other term for watching a parent go through something like this. We know that he will either get better or he will get to go be with Christ in heaven, and we will see him again someday. I'm just not ready for this. Prayers greatly appreciated.

Friday, June 5, 2015

The horrible week that was simultaneously also pretty good. This makes my head hurt.

It's 70 degrees and the sun is shining and a breeze is blowing. It's Friday morning at 11:30 and I've only been up for a little while because this morning was Dads and Donuts day in Vivian's class, so Daniel had to take the kids to school. Birds are literally singing in the trees right outside my dining room, where I am sitting and typing this. And the baby who lives next door is babbling and laughing with her grandmother. Right in front of me is a gorgeous flower arrangement that I got at the first day of the local farmer's market. We had dinner there last night, so I didn't have to cook.

The flowers. 

It's been a good week. The kids are done with homework and we've more or less commenced our summer slothfulness, despite still having a week and a half of school to go. Early slothfulness is okay though, because my kids teachers are also pretty much counting the minutes. Vivian's teacher tore her rotator cuff this past weekend and is in pain and Ethan's teacher is in the first trimester of pregnancy and feels awful. So it's a mutual limp across the finish line.

But in the middle of this pretty good week, we got a phone call that felt like a slap across the face. Daniel's dad has been having an assortment of health issues for a while now and finally got in for tests (they live in Canada. Enough said). And in the middle of Daniel's phone conversation in Chinese with his mom, he suddenly spoke English to me and said "Dad has lung cancer". And then went back to talking to his mom about the details. 

Daniel's parents speak English, but definitely have issues with understanding in some situations. Even with people who know their comprehension level. So here's how the information has been traveling around the family. Daniel's parents are given information by their doctors (whose names are Indian and so they may or may not have accents, I do not know). Daniel's mom tells Daniel what's going on, in Chinese. He tells me in English. No one really understands the medical terms or tests, so translating it back and forth is particularly complicated. 

Yesterday, Daniel's sister-in-law went and got the report from the doctors to scan to send to Daniel's brother who, of course, happens to be in Asia right now on business. They also sent the report to me and I translated it into basic-er terms, because I am a scientist by training and have worked on a lot of cancer issues and everyone else in the family is an accountant or computer programmer or something related. And the news right now is that there are still a lot of questions about what stage and what to do for treatment. His next test to find out more is another week from now, so we wont know much more for a while. 

We've watched a lot of people around us go through this battle of parental illness. It's not something we've personally dealt with. As it happens, neither have our parents.  All of our grandparents either died young, had abandoned the family years before (yes, this happened with multiple of our grandparents) or died suddenly in their sleep. My mom's mom is still going strong. We've been really fortunate in that way. 

Prayers appreciated as we go down this unexpected path. 

Monday, June 1, 2015


Okay, so a couple of things are baffling me. One- it's June? June already? And why are we still not done with school... we still have more than two weeks to go....

And secondly- how is my tiny baby a 6-year-old now? I just don't know how to deal with this. Six. I have two big kids, not little kids. MY BABY IS SIX!!!

We spent the weekend in Portland and had an absolute blast. It was a perfect birthday weekend with lots of fun activities, dinner with friends, lunch with the kids' great grandmother, shopping at IKEA (actually, that turned out more stressful for mom and dad than fun, but whatever. Bathroom remodel. Stay tuned). We had perfect weather and good food and just an all around good time together. 

So, Vivian on her 6th birthday. She's a darling little girl with a steel core hidden beneath the fluff. She still cannot be bribed, pushed, or negotiated with if she doesn't want to do something. But when she does, she inevitably will do it easily and well. She loves to cross monkey bars, hula hoop and jump rope. Biking she is relatively apathetic about. Same with school things except recess. She has a good group of little friends at school and loves her kindergarten teacher.  She loves presents and pandas and panda presents. 

She still prefers sleeping with Mommy to sleeping in her own bed, although progress is being made. I know that one day that snuggly little girl wont sleep next to  me anymore, so I don't worry too much about it. She loves playing with her brother and taking care of him and talking about their mutual imaginary friends. 

Most of all, Vivian is a princess. She still loves wearing dresses every day and prefers to have on a crown as often as possible.  She's definitely my daughter :)

Vivian challenges me and makes me laugh and makes me smile and makes me crazy and I wouldn't have it any other way. Daniel and I are so blessed to have her in our lives. 

Monday, May 4, 2015

I went to Jamaica and all my husband got was a lousy jar of Jamaican Jerk seasoning

My husband? THE BEST.

So, a month or so ago, my editor sent out an email to ask if anyone wanted to cover a press trip to Jamaica and I immediately threw myself at Daniel's feet (so to speak, since it was over Skype) and begged him to let me go.  I've been doing a bunch of extra work for my company and part of it has included setting up lots of fabulous trips for other people and I was feeling itchy to pack my own bags. Without hesitation, he said yes. I then repeated the begging process to my boss and a week later had a plane ticket to Jamaica in hand.

I've traveled a good bit to tropical destinations at this point. (I know, I have the best job ever). But Jamaica was unlike any I've visited before. It reminded me a bit of Hawaii, with it's beautiful mix of mountains and blue seas and beaches.  It was warm, but there were generally enough breezes to keep me from completely melting.

I can't share all the details of the trip here because I have an actual blog post due for the site I write for, so you'll have to go look for that in a few weeks. But it was lovely and if you have the chance to go to Jamaica, you should. So, so beautiful and fun.

And then I came home and snuggled with this baby and all was well with the world. 

While I was in Jamaica, Daniel kept working his usual hours, more or less. And, of course, Ethan had an allergic reaction of some sort on the second day I was gone, necessitating a doctor's visit and staying home from school (he's fine now). And I came home last night after 5 days gone to a clean house and happy kids and even part of the laundry done.  I am keeping my husband.  He is the best! 

Friday, March 27, 2015

Tomorrow is my birthday. This is a very important fact for all to know.

My birthday is tomorrow. I'm turning 38.  It seems like a nice number, so I'm okay with it being so close to 40. I'm a big fan of even numbers. Although, it's been pretty funny with Ethan learning about even and odd numbers and him realizing that we all are at odd number ages.  He goes around saying "we're all odd!" To which I reply "yes, yes we are."  A little math humor gets me through the day.

I was thinking about my birthday this week. Not so much just the presents and celebration. I think about that year round. But being in my late 30s.  I've also been thinking a lot about my increasing crop of very grey hair.  I have so much now that, on my last visit to my 88-year-old grandmother, she looked at my hair and exclaimed "Wow! You have a LOT of grey hair!"  This is the same grandmother who, after we spent days in the hospital trying to have Ethan, and I ultimately had a c-section after 4 hours of pushing, asked why I couldn't have just waited 2 more hours so that he would have been born on her birthday. She makes me laugh. I'm awfully glad to still have her around.

Anyway. So I have a lot of grey hair and I'm turning 38.  I've decided to embrace these things.  As I was telling a friend at the park yesterday, I was a late bloomer in terms of self confidence and self acceptance. I had a perfectly nice experience in high school with good friends. We weren't popular, but we were accepted and liked. When I went to college, I got fairly significantly lost in a relationship and it took me a while to climb back out from where I sank to after that relationship ended. But then I spent a summer in Ukraine and later moved to a different part of Ukraine to live for a year. Living alone in a country on the other side of the world gives one a lot of time to figure out things about oneself.

And then I came home and moved to Seattle and went to grad school and got established in a career and made friends and had tons going on. And then I met Daniel and we fell in love and moved and had Ethan and then had Vivian and moved again. So here I am, turning 38 tomorrow.  I have a husband who is my best friend, two fairly well-behaved and adorable children, a house that I love, good school for my kids and the most fun job I could ever imagine having. I have social causes that I care deeply about and a church that encourages my faith. I like me. Yes, I'm excessively round and try to avoid speaking to other human beings for the majority of my day. But I've come to accept my quirks and foibles.  They make me me.

Because you care, random facts about me.

Jobs I have held: Babysitter, college library employee, college admissions department employee, EMT, receptionist at an eye doctor office, animal testing technician, missionary, telemarketer (seriously, this is where my hatred of the phone comes from), customer service rep, grad student, toxicologist, mom, grad student, travel writer. One of these days I should figure out what I want to be when I grow up.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Successes and failures

If you're on social media, you may have seen a picture going around. It's a photo of a scale at some sort of medical office. And it has a sign next to it saying something to the effect of "this only measures your relationship with gravity, it doesn't measure your kindness or creativity or friendships..." I have not gotten the exact things right, but I think the general idea comes through.

It reminds me of a prayer that my Chemistry professor had us pray before every test. I went to a Christian college, so praying before tests wasn't that extraordinary.  And I'd forgotten about his prayer until it came up on an online board last year when we were sharing memories of college. The prayer went like this (again, not exactly. It's been a long time since college). "Help us to remember that our performance on this test is not a measure of our worth as a person or our value to God."

These are the messages that I don't think I've been conveying well to my kids.  Not the weight one, although we've spent 5 1/2 years trying to get Ethan to gain weight, so it is an issue a bit.  But I want them to keep the proper perspective on school and good grades. Yes, they're important to me. I want my kids to live up to their potential and try as hard as they can to do well. But I don't want it to define them.

Last week, Ethan leveled up in his reading.  This is a big deal.  So much of a big deal that his special ed teacher called me immediately. I knew she was excited. And he shared the news at his friendship group (I have no idea what that actually is...) and was happy to tell my parents when we chatted on Skype that night. I'm excited too, because he's finally into books with a plot!

And a few days later, as we waited for the school bell to ring, a kindergarten teacher who has no direct involvement with Ethan's reading and who is not Vivian's teacher and was not Ethan's teacher last year, came up and congratulated him on leveling up and made sure he'd told me.  It was amazing- so many people at school are cheering on my kid.

I emailed the principal and teachers and therapists and all of Ethan's people to thank them for supporting us. And they all wrote back about what a joy it is to teach Ethan. Yes, he struggles in school and can be a pain sometimes, but he's just overflowing with love and friendliness.  We can't walk down the hall without people saying hi to him- he knows pretty much all of the teachers and staff and older kids. I love that. He makes people smile and want to support him.  That's the type of attitude that I want to see in my kids and I pray that I can figure out a way to not mess it up too much in the future. :)