Wednesday, May 30, 2012

That was a loong hiatus, but I have never missed a birthday

Happy Birthday Lana!  You are 6. SIX!?! How did this happen again? Weren't you just a teeny tiny baby?  We have been celebrating for nearly a week now.  Last Saturday we had a "family day" where we went to the zoo in Seattle after a fun lunch at a hip udon restaurant with the four of us plus Grandma Dianne and Amma and Gong Gong.  It was a beautiful, sunny, warm day and we all had so much fun.  Sunday we had your birthday party with girlfriends from school at our house.  It was a garden party and we did many crafts and games.  You had 5 friends and you were kind to include your sister in the festivities.  It was a great party, even for me.  I went to my book club that night and when I got home you wrote me a thank you note, thanking me for a super fun birthday party. You also wrote all of your friends thank you notes and they were even sealed and addressed.  This illustrates who you really are--a thoughtful and kind girl with the biggest heart.  You make me so proud every single day.

This year you have grown so much.  You thrive in Kindergarten.  You love your teachers and your classmates. You have become so confident and have overcome so many scary things--like singing alone during the spring musical (mommy had happy tears) and reading an entire book to your whole school (more happy tears), even taking questions, comments or compliments after.  You are so brave!  I love all that you have learned, I think its so cool that you love math and I treasure all of your art work and creations. Every single one goes straight to my heart.

I look at you and feel so incredibly happy at the girl you are growing up to be.  I love your energy, your creativity, your sweetness, your kindness and your helpfulness. I even love that you talk constantly, even if I say that I don't. I love watching your relationship with your Baba grow.  I know the two of you will always be close and having that bond is such an immense gift. I keep telling you that one day a long time from now you will fly away and you tell me to stop saying that, that you will always live with us.  You are so fun to be with and I am looking forward to spending lots of time together this summer before you start elementary school.  It's going to be a special time for us.

Although I cannot imagine its even possible that you are six, enjoy this birthday and thank you for being such an awesome and fun little girl.  You make us so very happy.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Our house

And now for something completely different...

I feel like all of my posts have been re-iterations of the same themes, like I am a broken record. I have decided to try to do at least one post a month that has nothing to do with the kids. Perhaps I will write about something else going on in our life, or maybe even myself (gasp!). For the first branch out post, I will talk about what we have done to our home in more detail than anyone needs.

We have spent the last year and a half remodeling our house. The remodel has been finished now for about 6 months, but it has taken additional time to decorate and live in the now dust-free environment. We love love love the changes we have made. We moved in to this 100 year old house 4 years ago and we loved it because it was mostly remodeled--the kitchen and all the baths were pretty much brand new and tasteful. The bedrooms were large with big closets (so hard to find in an old house) and there was a lot of character--woodwork around stained glass windows, original fireplace, built-ins. But, what we didn't love was the pink carpet and paint in the living/dining space and the antique-y looking brass lighting fixtures. The worst was that we had no fridge in the kitchen! The previous owners were retired and when they did the kitchen remodel, they put in drawer style fridge and freezers, under the counter, so there was no free-standing fridge. Its probably okay for older people, but for a young family, it was a major pain in the ass. We liked their choices for cabinets, counters, etc. so we didn't want to go through the expense of a full-on kitchen remodel, so we re-arranged things and added cabinets. We also, blew out the back wall of the house and added an eat-in space to the kitchen, which has been a great space for messy meals (hello, kids!) and crafts. It also really opens up the floor plan. We also added a deck for outdoor space and re-landscaped, eliminating 90% of our ridiculous foliage and putting in edibles--fruit trees and a veggie garden and easy to maintain shrubs/flowers. In the Pacific NW the rain makes things grow like crazy, plus we never get too cold, so things grow year round--we learned the hard way that a big garden is way too much work.

We are so pleased with our changes, especially the eat-in space, where the kids can be kids and its easy to clean up. Our most recent update is that we finally got a real bed! Yes, we are in our mid-30s and we finally bought a bed and got the mattress up off the floor. I suppose now we are grown ups!

PICS! (disclaimer: its usually way more cluttered--I picked up for the pics)

The crazy part is, I took these pics to document our remodel but also because we are thinking about moving--hopefully not to a fixer!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Happy Birthday Lacey!

One of the many surprises about motherhood is how emotional I feel on my kid's birthday. A mix of happy, nostalgic, a little sad and proud. A birthday really makes you look back at how they have grown and milestones they have achieved and it also makes you look forward to the year ahead, the good times you will enjoy together and the excitement of new discoveries. Sweet Lacey--you are TWO! I can't believe it!

Crap, I am already crying.

After we had Lana I wasn't entirely sure I wanted another baby, but Lacey, you have been such a blessing and a treasure to our family! I almost can't remember life before you came. Its true how your heart just opens up and loves the second baby, even if you think you couldn't possible love another human being as much as your first born. But now I know the truth--the love I have for you is unending and pure.

Lacey, you are sweet, sweet, sweet. At 2 years old you give hugs and kisses, just because, or when Lana is crying or if we ask for one. You love to laugh--anything that is funny to you just cracks you up and I never get tired of your belly laugh. You TALK, oh my goodness, the talking--in sentences and paragraphs. Of course, I usually need to translate for strangers, but we can usually understand your words, even the messed up ones like "aebee gub" (lady bug). You are so excited for your birthday--you tell everyone that you are "almost two", that you will have "docolate cake" (chocolate cake) that you will "share Nana" (share with Lana) and "party hats". You also sing Happy Birthday to yourself--"Happy Birtday to you, mei mei..."

At two you know a lot of stuff. You count from 1-13, then skip to 18, then clap. You can sing your ABCs. You can identify numbers 1-5 and a handful of letters. You also sing Twinkle twinkle, Row row row your boat and of course Happy Birthday. You know all your colors including the weird ones like pink, black, white and gray. You are quite obedient most of the time, you are helpful in cleaning up, you say please, thank you and sorry quite often. You also like to use the potty sometimes, but I think its only to get the jelly bean or swedish fish. You also call yourself Mei mei but if we ask you your name you always say Lacey. You love Curious George and Dora (ugh), you love to read books like The Runaway Bunny, Goodnight Moon and The Eye Book and you are just starting to experiment with Play-Doh and painting. You run and jump (almost). You play "cannonball" with Lana--jumping off the sofa onto a pile of cushions. You also love to play dance party in my room, wearing a tutu of course. You are quite coordinated and rarely fall, but when you do its no big deal, no tears or anything.

Lacey, your eating habits are horrendous. You eat 6 things + fruit + any junk food. Chicken noodle soup, spaghetti and meatballs, meatball soup, chinese rice soup with tofu, udon noodles with eddamame, chicken nuggets and french fries (that last one hurts a little to write). You are no longer allergic to dairy and we were excited to try to give you cheese and yogurt, but sadly the only benefit to your outgrown allergy has been ice cream. But you eat fruit, copious amounts of fruit and you are growing, so I am assuming you are okay.

Happy Birthday sweet girl. We love you more than words can express! I can't wait to see what the next year brings for you and us as a family.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Sweet spot

You know how sometimes your kids are just behaving wonderfully, there are no major meltdowns or "issues" and you are just thinking--This is just great! Easy, even. We are in a good space. I could maybe even have another kid and it would be not that big of a deal! Well, life has not been like that lately in our house. I haven't really been blogging because at the end of the day I am worn out emotionally and I have nothing nice to write.

But, it is one of my parenting philosophies to find the good in every day. Find a moment or two that lift you up, that make you smile, that remind you how very lucky you are. My don't sweat the small stuff moments, because really things could be so much worse. So my favorite moments lately involve soaking in those smiles. The big smiles, the laughing ones--not the cheese for the camera smiles. Lana has a perfect symmetrical smile--those little white teeth in a perfect row. I love her smile and I may be a little sad when she starts losing the baby teeth. Lacey's smile involves dimples--one under her bottom lip, to the right, one on her cheek. She also giggles when she smiles sometimes. Love it.

Lana asks me everyday when Lacey will be able to follow directions and play pretend with her. I tell her soon--a few more months-- because I think 2.5 is one of those sweet spots, where they are not babies anymore. Today after school Lana wanted to play swimming, so she put on her swimsuit and jumped onto my bed to "swim". Lacey then asked for a swimsuit, plopped down on her belly and said, "sploosh, splash, sploosh, splash." We are so close Lana!!

I am also really loving the interaction between the girls. Okay, 85% of the time Lana is screaming, "NO LACEY! MOM she is _____". I know this is normal, but sheesh. Lacey just loves Lana, will do anything to get her attention and just wants to be like her. Lana is usually annoyed, but lately she has been showing sweetness to Lacey. This morning they both climbed into Lacey's crib and cuddled. Lacey was loving it. I almost passed out it was so cute.

So even though we are decidedly going through a rough patch with behavior and with parenting (I have not been winning any awards for patience lately), there are these little nuggets of sweetness--the ones that pull me out of my bad mood and make me so very grateful.

Friday, September 16, 2011

School, I heart thee

We made it through the first week of Kindergarten! As I mentioned briefly before, Lana has been dealing with "the worries", worrying about anything and everything. It sounds like a silly phase, but in actuality it has been very difficult to deal with on a daily basis. It had become so intense that I spoke to her pediatrician and considered seeing a psychologist. The weeks leading up to school starting were the worst and even though I predicted that school would be just the distraction she needed, it felt like the constant cycle of worrying and reassuring and crying and hyperventilating would never cease. Ah yes, this is my genetic gift to her--I am sorry sweet Lana, its all my fault.

The first day of school Lana was visibly nervous, but once she was in her classroom, everything seemed peachy. She came home exhausted and I was so frustrated that bedtime was the same ridiculousness pattern about worrying about not being able to fall asleep and that once she was asleep a bad guy would get in the house and steal her, which resulted in crying like a banshee, me yelling (not my best choice here) and then her passing out at 10pm.

When I picked her up on the second day of school, Lana seemed so happy (tired, but happy) and she told me, "Mom, the second day of school is a LOT easier than the first!" At bedtime, she promptly fell asleep within 5 min and SLEPT ALL NIGHT. First time in weeks! No middle of the night crawling in bed with us, no being kicked in the kidneys or face!

We started a reward sticker chart for going to sleep without crying to earn a family game night. Before school started, it was hopeless--there were no stickers earned. This week, she did awesome, fell asleep without the crazies and tomorrow night is our very first family game night ever (after Lacey is in bed obviously). YAY SCHOOL!

Thank you school, thank you routine, thank you distraction, thank you socialization. You have made me sane, once again.

By far, the best part of this whole ordeal is that Lana seems happy. When the worries were at their worst, she seemed so distressed, all the time. I answered the same questions over and over again. She was bored and scared. Now Lana is back to smiling, laughing and her creative wheels are turning. She is constantly talking and imagining and asking curious questions. My happy kid is back. I am sure we haven't seen the last of the worries--I was exactly like that when I was little, but for now I am enjoying sweet and carefree Lana. Now if I could only pretend I am not feeling that sore throat...

Monday, September 12, 2011


FINALLY. The first day of school! Good grief, Lana's school starts late and I am more ready than she is! She always says, "Mom, are you actually HAPPY that I will be in school and you won't have to play with me?" Well, not exactly happy in a relieved sort of way, but happy because she needs to go back to school to be with her friends and have structured activities and learn all sorts of interesting things, as opposed to whining about how bored she is and how she doesn't feel like playing with the same old boring toys and how Lacey doesn't listen when she tries to play with her, blah, blah blah... I am sick of the whining and I am looking forward to hearing about new adventures and new accomplishments. Lana is that kid who really digs school--so off you go!

Unlike most of our peers, Kindergarten was not a big transition for us. Lana's preschool offers Kindergarten and we decided to keep her there instead of starting her at the local public school simply because we love her school and she is happy and secure there. I am so glad we made this decision because even though it is totally familiar to her--she knows 11 of the 15 kids in her class, as well as her teacher--she has been very very nervous about starting up again. I think its just a worrying type of phase, but it has been interfering with sleep (going to sleep and staying asleep) as well as general anxiety about becoming lost or separated from mom or abandoned, bad guys coming in the house, being stolen by a bad guy at the park or in a store--you know really uplifting things. Geesh. I am hoping that re-establishing the routine of school will give her security and self-confidence and she can get off the worrying and get back to being her fun-loving self.

As for Kindergarten, it does seem pretty much impossible that the little round-faced infant we brought home from the hospital all wrapped up like a burrito is now in elementary school. How did this happen so fast? In the blink of an eye.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Two years

This weekend was the 2 year anniversary of my father's death. I have been fully aware of it, the dreaded date, that it was approaching. I am not an overly sentimental person, but there is something about my dad's birthday, Father's Day and the anniversary of his passing that just get me. I try to forget it, to remind myself that its just another day, but I still woke up in a bad mood and shed a few tears before even getting out of bed. Luckily we had a lot of fun things planned for the day, to keep me occupied and my BFF remembered and called me and that felt good too.

Most of the time I am okay. I remember in the days after he died, I wondered if I would feel true happiness and laughter again and how long it would take for me to not feel distracted by grief. But as time goes on, its true that it becomes easier and normalcy returns. Most days I don't think about the loss, but I definitely think about Dad, often in a happy way--like he would love this or he would think this is so funny. But then out of nowhere, something seemingly innocuous happens and bam--I am bawling my eyes out. Like when Amalah was pregnant and her father lost his battle with cancer. I regularly read her blog because she is so darn witty and funny and then I read those posts and her writing is so beautiful and poignant and wow, it was like re-living those final days all over again, except that she was actually there, with her dad and I was not.

In these two years, sadness and pain have given way to remembering the good memories, especially my dad's super hilarious sense of humor. Dad loved to laugh. Dad had this key chain, from one of those goofy novelty stores, called the Fart Master. It has sound effects for various toots like the Power, the Nervous, the Ripper, the Cough-Fart. You don't get the full effect unless you hear it in person. Its totally in bad taste, but it would make him laugh every time. My stepmom gave it to Lana (per Lana's request), so now we own our very own Fart Master key chain. What a legacy! He would think its funny that we are playing with the Fart Master, laughing away, thinking of him.

My stepmom also forwarded some photo albums from Dad's childhood and some really interesting artifacts from my paternal grandparents including recipes from the candy store my grandfather ran years ago. These recipes are hand written in a tiny black book and date back to the 1940s or 50s. Crazy cool stuff.

It's hard for me to look at the photos of Dad and I together. It just highlights the relationship that I miss. I can't believe it has been two years since I have talked to him, heard his voice, swapped a recipe. The biggest dagger to the heart though is that he was so excited to be a grandpa and he loved Lana so much, even though he didn't see her that often, but he died 31 days before Lacey was born. I wish he could have met Lacey, held her, watched her grow just a little bit. I knew this cancer would take his life, but I was hoping and praying for a year or two. Lacey is so much like my dad--she is a cuddler, she is funny and a little quiet, she has his long narrow feet. He would have just adored her! Lana claims to remember her grandpa, even though the last time she saw him she wasn't even 3. We talk about him a lot, things he used to say, things he loved. He loved being a grandpa. Loved it.

The other thing that continues to plague me, two years later is regret. I have regret--loads of it. When someone gets diagnosed with cancer, even if the prognosis is grim, doctors advise the patient to have a positive outlook--you have to have hope that you can beat it and win. There is plenty of research that shows that attitude makes a difference. I always tried to put a positive spin on things, even when there didn't seem to be any good news. We all tried to lift his spirits, tell him his fight would be worth it, that there was only one more round of chemo left and he could get a break. I know this was the right thing to do at the time, but I can't help feeling like I didn't get to really talk to him about his life, our life. I never thanked him for being a great father. I wish I would have visited him once a month, even though he was on the other side of the country because when a person is gone, they are gone forever and I should have just done it, despite the distance and cost. I also regret not being there for his final few days. Yes I was 36 weeks pregnant, but I wish now that I was there, like Amalah was, to hold his hand and have that conversation. I know he would have wanted me to keep Lacey safe in my belly and not travel, but I don't know if that feeling of regret will ever leave me.

My dad was a wonderful father. The best kind of dad that always loves you and supports you. He was never critical and I can't even remember one instance where he raised his voice. It has become clear to me, more than ever recently, that not everyone is blessed to have this kind of father. I just wish he was still here because I have so much I would have loved to share with him.