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. :)

Friday, March 6, 2015

Kindergarten and first grade are complicated!

If you follow me on Facebook or Instagram, you've seen some of the math problems that Ethan has been assigned. I'm not kidding, some of them have flat out asked us to solve for A and B. We're talking algebra, people. Then the next week will be standard addition problems and I can breathe again. I'm not struggling to do the problems myself, but explaining it to Ethan is an entirely different story. Just hoping to not mess him up too bad. Then there's the mindnumbing horror of their reading homework. Ethan's reading at a mid-first grade level and Vivian at a mid-kindergarten level. We sit down to work on homework and I say that I want them to both read 2 or 3 books, but usually am curled up in the fetal position and wondering if it's too early for a shot of vodka after only one book.  "THE WORD IS OF! IT'S THE SAME AS IT WAS ON THE LAST SIX PAGES! OF!! OF!!!" (Fortunately that screaming is usually confined to the interior of my brain).

But having a boy go through school first, I missed out on the interpersonal drama that comes with having a daughter. I knew it started early- Vivian had some issues with being bullied in preschool. And most of my friends last year had daughters in Ethan's class, so I knew there was an issue with popular kids and cliques and stuff like that. But Ethan's fairly oblivious to anything except running around and kicking a soccer ball or catching a football. As long as he has a ball or people to run with, it's a good day at recess.

Vivian has been coming home this week and telling me stories of the kids meeting up in groups at recess and having conversations about adult things, like kissing. She tells me that they are all a little concerned that kissing is involved when people get married. But then she also tells me that they were trying to get one of the little boys to kiss another little girl. And then yesterday she came home and told me that another classmate kissed her twice.

Oh, and she also has been telling me that her closest friend now has rules and steps for Vivian being her friend and that Vivian is no longer her friend because she hasn't met all the rules and steps yet. Vivian is not upset by this at all.

I just didn't know how grateful I should be for having one kid who exists pretty much totally outside of any social interactions and is more or less completely fine with that. All of this drama with 5 year olds!

I did email the teacher this morning to keep her in the loop with the kissing issue and had several conversations with Vivian about appropriate behavior and standing up for herself if someone is making her uncomfortable.

I'm just not even going to let myself think about middle school and high school yet to come.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

My cat keeps hogging the heater

It got down to 50 degrees here in Seattle and the sun went back behind its normal February clouds, so I've spent the past day and a half huddling in front of my space heater and quietly whining to myself. And every so often I notice that, despite the space heater being on and only a few feet away, no heat is getting to me. And I usually then look over and see this.
And then I yell at her, because she has a fur coat on already and I am COLD and then she stares at me blankly and then I try to rationalize with her and then she turns away from looking at me and settles down in front of the heater for a long stay.

I need to talk to more actual human beings during my day.

Things that I have done while I was not here. Spent a lot of time with a headache. Everything is in bloom here already, meaning spring allergies in the middle of winter, meaning sinus issues. Dislike. Spent a day down at the state capital building speaking with various state representatives about abolishing the death penalty. Almost went into a meeting with one of them with my skirt tucked up in my underwear. Good times. Oddly enough, while down at the capitol, I was sitting on the steps inside the building and eating a free baked potato, provided by the state potato lobby, when a childhood friend whom I haven't seen since my wedding walked past.  Totally random. Free potatoes bring people together!

Celebrated one of my best ever Valentine's Days with Daniel and the kids on a local beach on a 65 degree day with gorgeous views.

Celebrated Chinese New Year with friends and with these two.

Went to a Beth Moore conference. It was really good and I got a lot out of it. But I did have to gaze directly into the eyes of another woman and repeat a bunch of stuff that Beth made us say and I've barely recovered from the last time we had to do that when my church was doing another one of her studies. Introverts beware! 

Celebrated mine and Daniel's 9th wedding anniversary. He took the day off work and we hung out in downtown Seattle. We couldn't get up to the room where we got married this year (it's closed for renovation) to take our annual picture, but he brainstormed and we went to a taller building and took a picture looking down on Smith Tower. On a side note, we have a terrible time taking selfies. I think we're just too old.

Today, while freezing in my living room, I am setting up review trips to various beach resorts for other people. And working on a client report about previous beach trips that various coworkers have taken. This is not an ideal activity on a grey Thursday.  But, no snow here this year, so I can't complain too much. 

The cat fell asleep and is now blocking less of the heater, so I like her a bit better now. 

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

I'm considering running away to join the circus

My kids were especially loud this morning and then I went and dropped them off at school. And sat quietly in the hallway and cut out ears for the paper teddy bear headbands that the kids are going to wear for their Valentine's Day party. I kind of love sitting quietly in the hallway at school and mindlessly cutting things out. Makes me feel productive, unlike the endless piles of laundry and constantly dirty floors at home. And then I went and helped out in Vivian's not-at-all-quiet classroom and the kids were especially loud in there too. I blame the weather. It's been unseasonably warm here and we're all getting spring fever. Unfortunately, it's only January.

I got an email from Ethan's teacher and special ed teacher yesterday, giving me a heads up about more problems that they are having with him in class. I had to wait a while to reply because what I really wanted to write was "sorry my kid is such an absolute pain-in-the-butt lately", but that seemed like a poor parenting choice. But he kind of is.  He has the memory span of a forgetful gnat and feels that he needs to be helped with everything. Unfortunately, even though we try to get him to be independent and do things for himself, he's got Vivian convinced to do most things for him at home, and then that translates to helplessness at school. So we have to add that to the LONG list of things we're working on with him.  He's a sweet kid. I wish that everything in life wasn't such an uphill battle for him.

And today in V's class, I noticed that she's one of the lowest readers in the class. Nothing problematic, but I feel I could be doing more with her, but I'm totally burned out after I deal with Ethan and his stuff. She's doing fine though, and she is one of the youngest in the class and I need to not stress out. I don't typically struggle with mom guilt, but it's been rearing its ugly head lately.

I love my kids and I enjoy spending time with them and seeing how their brains work and laughing at the funny things they come up with. But they've been challenging lately and I'm tired.