December 31, 2016

On The Eve

It's New Year's Eve and we are anxious to close out a very full 2016, heavy from the weight of so many downs and ups and downs. I'm certain that 2017 will carry much of the same -- thankfully we won't have to struggle through selling a house and the not knowing when we will be together under the same roof again.

Yesterday I was a chaperone for Carter's Robotics competition in Portland. On the way home, as four teenage boys slept and I drove in dark silence, I experienced for the first time what it's like to drive a kid to Portland, or anywhere out of town really, and not involve a hospital visit. It felt really wonderful. And kind of like a promise, like more of this feeling is still to come.

So there will always be a weight but the weight is lifting and shifting.

I have a few goals for the new year in mind, like taking photos of the kids, reading more, and knitting every day, and learning to play the piano again. I'm no longer a fan of words of the year but kind of like the idea of the phrase Search Party. I'm going to keep searching, opening my eyes, and I need to make it more of a bright party with lights and less of a dark appointment.

I always start with hope and end with hope, may that never end.

December 17, 2016

Snowbound and a Gift Guide

We are going on hour 72 of not being able to leave our house due to snow and ice. Jeff was able to get his car back into the garage yesterday but mine has been down at the bottom of our road since Wednesday. It might actually get above 32 degrees later this afternoon and maybe the snow will finally start to melt away, but no guarantees.

Thankfully I keep our pantry and freezer STOCKED. We are eating like queens and kings but might run out of milk by tomorrow. Breakfasts have been chocolate chip waffles and hashbrowns and today I made some pretty good biscuits and gravy. If there's enough milk tomorrow morning I'm going to bake coffee cake. The other day it was looking bleak and like we might never get out of here so I did place a giant Prime Pantry order. Here's hoping UPS can make their rounds safely today... we have quite a pile of delayed deliveries to receive!

As far as keeping busy, we have enough books to read to last all of winter break and we've been watching every holiday movie while I knit socks and I can make plenty thanks to my yarn buying obsession. All in all it's not a bad gig.

There's been a little bit of boredom, though, for sure. In my head I was compiling a realistic gift guide, if you have some hard to buy for people left on your list, you can find these in stores or get them in time if you have Amazon Prime. So here you go:

Buxom Freezes Over 15 mini lip collection (on sale for $45 at Sephora)
I bought this for myself before the holiday season and it's been like a gift every day. They are delightful and happy-making. I think you can get these at your local Ulta or Sephora if you don't have time for online.

Crane Travel Ultrasonic Cool Mist Humidifier ($20 at Target) 
Here's something super practical but also a life changer. We are adjusting to a drier climate now that we are no longer living on the ocean. Bloody noses and stuffy noses and coughs all night long no more! I found these at Target in the pharmacy section but they're also on Amazon and probably anywhere that sells humidifiers. You just fill up the cup and mist away! I carry mine around the house with me and then have it on my nightstand when I go to bed. The boys have one in their room and it has helped tremendously.
Mystic Emoji Ball, $14.99 on Amazon
What to get the kid who has everything and didn't put anything on his Christmas list other than candy and you need more things for him to open so that everyone has an equal amount? This looks fun. I hope he likes it.
Hammond's dark Chocolate Peppermint Crunch, $6.95 at your local fancy grocery store
These dark chocolate peppermints look like chocolate covered almonds but instead of almonds it's peppermint candy and so so so so so good. As soon as we can drive our cars again I am going straight to the grocery store and buying all they have. BIG mistake only buying one bag, Steph! Perfect stocking stuffer or gift for anyone sweet on your list.

Ugg Ansley slippers, $100 with free super fast shipping at Zappos
These have been on my feet since receiving them for Christmas last year. Unless Ivy is wearing them, which happens a lot and so she might have a certain pair in leopard print coming her way this Christmas morn... I found hers on a super sale at Ugg on Cyber Monday, many high end local department stores carry these, and also Zappos has free next day shipping if you are in a hurry. They are worth every penny.

Okay that's all for today. Must get back to my knitting. There's a few more items I would like to add but I don't want to ruin any surprises that are currently under our tree. One week 'til Christmas! 

December 11, 2016

December days

We have a large spider that has been hanging out on her web for months now in the corner of the garage. I check on her every time I go in and out, partly because I want to see that she's doing okay and also if she wasn't there then WHERE IS SHE. This morning I searched "what do spiders do for fun?" and then it suggested we stop trying to assign people feelings to animals. Also, they don't move unless they have to respond to something, to conserve as much energy as possible. Sounds good to me.

December got off to a pretty good start. We went to Seattle and Noah is officially in remission. It took us over two years to get to this point, so we are relieved yet a bit too tired to celebrate. It was a bit anticlimactic to hear it from his doctor, to be honest, but maybe the haze will clear and we'll feel the excitement eventually. He must still continue with infusions and medication as normal, but at least we are out of the danger zone, he's not in pain, and he's starting to grow again.

Snow on the trees, view from school pick up.

We had a snow day last week! For the first time since we left Ohio almost four years ago we saw snow fall. It only snowed a little bit, but school was cancelled for one day- mainly because of ice. We live on a mountain annnnd the mail carrier couldn't even get up our road.

This is the kids' last week of school until after New Year's. I am so ready. We have almost all of our gifts wrapped and under the tree or on their way to family. We have a full week of Cats rehearsals, a school concert, and robotics ahead. Then, we will conserve our energy under blankets with sugar cookies and holiday movies and no other plans.

November 30, 2016

The last day of November

This is our kitchen nook, the little happy place I see when I stand at my stove. 

I have been operating with a great sense of urgency about buying all the Christmas gifts on my list and then I realized it wasn't even December yet. We have several wrapped and under the tree already, and I feel confident that I'll be done pretty soon, and that feels like a relief even though I don't know why. I don't usually feel the need to get it all done so soon, I don't mind waiting until life around us is in more of a Christmas-sy mood, but this year has me like this.

I only have a couple things on my Christmas wish list and I guess it makes me that person: I want for my friend's daughter to not have cancer, I would like a different president-elect, and I wish for my family to be in good health. And world peace. Not to be picky but I would love for our country to be at peace, full of kindness and understanding and love.

Along with most of my friends, I am so very ready for 2016 to be over. A new start, new decade for me never sounded so good. I am thankful that we are closing out this year with my family in the same house, that's very nice. The togetherness here is a good thing, I feel like when we're not running around we can actually put our feet up and take our minds off things.

This Friday Noah and I head up to Seattle for a check-up and infusion and we have hopes that we can get something in place to move his infusions closer to our house. It would be pretty amazing to only have to drive to Seattle a couple times a year vs. every 8 weeks.

It's funny because I thought as fall faded away here that it would be less pretty, but that is the opposite. As the leaves fall I can see Christmas lights on the mountain, when I drive down our hill -- or anywhere around town, really, I can see snow-capped peaks. There are new birds and a rain we fall asleep to every night. We are adjusting to the cold temps again, it's been years since we needed coats and gloves! The kids are still trying to get away with just their hoodies but I think they'll be giving in soon.

I know I said I was done with 2016 but I just decided that now is just as good a time as ever to have a fresh start. I welcome you, December 2016. Show up and be awesome.

November 25, 2016

Put away the pumpkins

We actually slept in today. It still felt like such a long day, in a good way. We put away the pumpkins and put up Christmas. Ivy hung most of the ornaments, which was nice because by then I was feeling pretty done.

This is the fourth house where we've hung our stockings, but home goes with us wherever we go. I don't really gave a good spot for my Willow Tree Nativity set here (or as Ivy said, "oh, your Jesus stuff!") so I put it up without the creche on the mantel. I plan to add something with lights. I might just have to leave the house tomorrow for that.

November 24, 2016

Thanksgiving 2016

It was still dark when I got up and baked the coffee cake for the kids and got the turkey ready. The rain fell all afternoon and we kept warm and cozy inside, just like we'd planned. We worked on a puzzle, FaceTimed with family, and I even got a nap.

Leading up to today I was feeling down but it all turned around in the end. I feel like I did get my Family Stone house after all and this is just the early years. If we're still here I can picture the kids all returning and bringing more people, their people, to our table. Right now I want to keep them close as I can.

November 23, 2016

Turkeys United

Hoo mama I got a lot done today. I made the kids a wonderful waffle & bacon breakfast while I enjoyed a Bloody Mary for myself thankyouverymuch. I made three pies, the green bean casserole, lunch and dinner, and have a clean kitchen at the end of it all.

I only lost one Pyrex to an explosion in the sink, which is not bad for this year and thankfully it wasn't in the oven and didn't have food in it. I recalled a time when I was little and washing my Mom's Visions cookware and one of them shattered. I can't remember if I just thought she was going to accuse me of doing it on purpose so I could get out of doing the dishes or if she actually did think that. From what I can remember, it happened totally innocently. 

Tomorrow I'm going to make Grandma's coffee cake recipe for breakfast and possibly more Bloody Marys while I get the turkey ready. Everything else is pretty easy. I'm kind of looking forward to the supersized newspaper that will arrive early full of ads -- no plans to leave the house to shop but I'll see if there's anything good. Otherwise it will be eating and knitting and more eating all the day long if we get our way. I try not to bring it up or let my mind linger but we'll never forget the holidays we've spent in the hospital, namely The One Thanksgiving that would change our lives forever so many years ago. It's easy to find out what you're thankful for when you come near losing what matters the most. I miss my family and friends, yes. but I'm so thankful for who I'm with tonight at home, and tomorrow. 

P.S. Ivy has an important message, from the Turkeys. 

November 22, 2016


This morning it was hard to get moving. I started listening to the Making Oprah podcast (thanks, Jen!) and that was an unexpected joy. I shopped for a replacement water filter for the fridge ... so exciting I know... the guy at Sears had a bad attitude and was super NOT HELPFUL and rude. He did offer - in an annoyed manner - to order what I needed but I was like - "Nope, I'll go to Home Depot or do Amazon Prime," dude. See ya. Found it at Home Depot, btw.

I helped out in Ivy's class for hours today, melting and stirring caramel for caramel apples. I kind of found some Zen moments in stirring over and over and over (I have a blister to prove it). It was the first time I was able to observe her new class and I was pleasantly surprised at how calm the room was, and how happy and well behaved the kids were. I love her new teacher. I found myself wondering, as I stirred and stared into the caramel swirls, if she could be my friend. Maybe she wants to come over for Thanksgiving and/or move in downstairs... but turns out her family is nearby and she's got plans for the holidays so I didn't bring it up.

After school I was trying to rest and started thinking about when the kids were little and all toddler-y and warm and needy and so I called Ivy into my room and asked her to snuggle with me under the covers until we had to start dinner. To my sad discovery she doesn't remember sleeping with me every night as a newborn until she was three or four years old. She said she doesn't remember anything about being a baby except for being born- she apparently remembers that.

I'm hoping we all get to sleep in a little tomorrow. Eventually I need to start on the pies and green bean casserole that I like to make ahead. Other than that we are going to take cover from the rain and maybe do some more snuggling.

November 21, 2016

All By Myself

I knit a Where's Waldo hat for Ivy's turkey disguise.

It's a good thing I like myself because I'm all I have most of my day. Many mornings after dropping the kids off at school I cherish the quiet and freedom but also there are times I wish I had friends to meet for coffee or a lunch date or a girls night out with easy conversation over margaritas. I don't see that happening anytime soon, unless all my friends move here. Please get on that.

But it's fine for now - I get stuff done, make things,  do a lot of listening and observing. And there's always the Internet to connect us. 

November 20, 2016


Ivy and I went in search of more yarn as soon as the craft stores opened. We of course stopped for coffee and a scone along the way (iced latte for me and a vanilla steamer with cinnamon for her.) Carter had Robotics and then we dropped Gray off at a birthday party nearby. My little shopping partner and I ran a few more errands and even painted some pottery before having to pick the boys up again.

Tonight we watched The Brady Bunch (The Not So Ugly Duckling) while I combed her hair after her shower. She figured out the plot within seconds, just by the way Clark looked at Marcia and how Jan looked at them both. Also, Alice is her favorite because "she is hilarious."

November 19, 2016


We pancake breakfasted and had a fun time working the event. When we got home I finished a Christmas gift and then sorted through boxes in the storage room for decorations -- it took me three separate times to locate our tree. I was certain the movers must have lost it or hidden it somewhere but finally found it! I moved all the Christmas decor to the guest room until after Thanksgiving. Then we will deck the house.

I'm really looking forward to next week. I wish the kids were off more days but I'm glad they only have to go on Monday & Tuesday. If I get my wish, we won't leave the house after that for several days!

November 18, 2016

Getting Stuff Done

Things were achieved today! I took a shower, even did my hair and all that. I shopped for almost our entire Thanksgiving meal and desserts plus this weekend's meal of tacos, fajitas, and rice. I even made room in the freezer for the turkey.

The elementary kids had early pick-up so we slipped in a birthday card and gift run (Gray has a birthday party to attend this weekend) before picking up Noah and Carter. From there, Noah got a hair cut. THEN it was Subway for dinner. I can't do everything.

Ivy and I attended Corvallis High School's fall play, A Wrinkle In Time. It was awesome.  It will be exciting to see her up on that stage in a few months.

We came home late but not too late to clean out the gerbil and hamster cages. Everyone has a clean place to sleep tonight.

In the morning we are working the pancake breakfast for Carter's Robotics team. It checks off our required parent volunteer hours and also PANCAKES.

November 17, 2016

Today was... a day

This morning I worked in the school library (covering new books with a protective coating, a nice quiet kid-free way to volunteer each week) until it was time for a special assembly on kindness. Gray was selected to participate in the Eagle Eye Action Team, a news crew type bunch who report on kindness around school. They showed their first video interviewing students and school staff on what being kind means to them. Yeah I teared up.

I had a little over an hour until I needed to be back to the school to help serve the turkey hot lunch. My kids pack their lunch but it was fun working in the cafeteria. 

After school it was a mad rush getting Gray to drum lessons (where we learned the music store was going out of business and the instructor needed to find a new practice studio...) then we zoomed home to take Carter to the pediatrician (twice in one week! What is up, teenagers??) where I was certain they were going to find wax build up to blame for his stuffy ear but nope, it's an ear infection.

After some craniosacral therapy thing and some Flonase we literally ran out of the dr's office (I mean literally and I didn't let Carter put his shoes on until we got to the car) because we had five minutes to drive the ten minutes home and get Ivy to her school choir concert for which we were totally late. I found the last parking spot, and someone graciously offered me the last folding chair in the very last row of the gym. By then I didn't even care. I didn't need to see the cute kindergarteners or 1st grade- I've been to one too many of these things. I just stood up when the second grade sang and squinted in Ivy's direction and hightailed it out of there as soon as she was dismissed.

When I walked in the door Carter was standing there looking ready to go somewhere and my heart sank, my body almost went weak as I remembered he needed to go to Home Depot for class project materials and then Jeff said he was going to take him and life went on.

Oh PS Ivy is in the Kitten Crew! She made the cast of Cats! 

November 16, 2016

FIRST in line

I am FIRST in the car line today. WIN! We have places to be and things to do in a short amount of time. Ivy auditioned for a local production of Cats and has a callback after school. If all goes well we won't be late, especially thanks to my early car line arrival plan.

Hovering over the washer this afternoon I took a moment to observe myself, as I hurriedly transferred clothes into the dryer... I briefly recalled the days of being "stranded" on the couch under a sleeping, nursing baby. The bliss, the tiredness, the sometimes frustration when I wanted to get up and just do whatever it was that so badly needed doing. Yeah, babies really don't keep.

There's still slivers of bliss, tiredness, and frustration over different things, often over too much needing to be done and not even knowing where to begin. Now if I get to sit it's while I'm waiting all the time. But not a day goes by that I don't look forward to their return to my car, if not in my arms they are at least in my nest.

November 15, 2016


This past weekend was pancakes for breakfast - three kinds: regular, chocolate chip, and gluten-free pumpkin with chocolate chips. Catching up on laundry, thinking about Christmas gifts, getting started on making some presents. Not believing that Thanksgiving is next week... feels like we literally lost seven days somewhere in this craziness.

Yesterday was me dropping the kids off at school and then driving straight to Target for retail therapy. Even though we live near one again I hardly ever go, so when I do it's like everything is new to me. I was in there for two hours, up and down every aisle. I bought things like malted hot chocolate and coconut Thai chai for my tea drawer, and yes, even wrapping paper.  

November 10, 2016

Mercury is not in Retrograde

I'm not feeling the optimism today. My eye has been twitching for a couple days now, the upper right eyelid and it seems to be getting worse, not better. And I'm constantly blinking away tears because I feel so sad right now.

Every now and then I have to google "is Mercury in Retrograde?" Yesterday I burned my arm something fierce with my curling wand, today while preparing my lunch I got the glass container my soup was in stuck inside the bowl I was going to eat it in which ended up splattering hot autumn squash soup all over my hand and clothes. Side note, I have made that squash soup (a rendition of Panera's similar to this recipe- I usually roast acorn squash and butternut and I don't do the puree, I also don't blend it, just mash it) more this past fall than ever. Comfort foods, ahoy!

Alas, Mercury is not in Retrograde. I just need to sit still for more than a minute.

I did get out of volunteering for the school Jogathon yesterday because one of my kids has an infected thumb wart and had to see the doctor.

Another bright spot is that last week I did some online shopping and little did past Steph know, but present Steph really needed that delivery of cozy sweaters today. Ahhhh. I think I'm going to wrap up and hide inside them for a while.

November 9, 2016


We all had a fitful sleep but we were up early and already rolling up our sleeves. The line at Starbucks today was about ten times longer than usual.

The kids took the news better than I had feared. Because they are good people and are going to be amazing leaders and examples of goodness and kindness as they leave this house.

I'm stunned and disappointed, but optimism is how I cope.

Hope is still hanging around. We are ready to get to work.

November 8, 2016

Sunday Monday we made it to Tuesday

"Are you Ivy's mom?" I have been asked this several times while helping out at the school - at the book fair, field trip that we will not speak of again, health screening, and now Jogathon all this week. I will ask how did they know and they will say, "your necklace."

A while back Ivy and I started wearing BFF-style necklaces that I found on etsy, a half sunshine for each of us. We rarely take them off, and when I tuck her into bed she likes to put them together as we kiss goodnight.

I feel like now that life is on an upswing at school with the new smaller classes, I am able to see the good things that I was blind to before. The health screening day was pretty organized and went smoother than I thought it would, the Jogathon has been super fun and I am starting to get to know some of the kids, and I appreciate the great energy and positivity from the school staff. Maybe everyone is in better moods now that their load has been lightened a little bit. I'll take it, and I'm going to be sure to keep noticing the good.

So, today is Election Day and I feel strangely calm. Here in Oregon we are vote by mail, so no polls for us. I quietly dropped my ballot into the blue box inside the gas station near our house. The kids wondered on the way to school today what would happen if a different President is chosen from what we hope, and I reminded them that we would not move to Canada like a certain kid keeps bringing up -- we will not run away from it, we will be sure to dig in and fight harder for those who would be left behind and who will really need our help. We will love and support the voices who need to be heard and cared for.

My parents always taught and encouraged me to be and do anything I dreamed... and I continue to do so. I've found that it takes a lot of lessons and often changing minds and view points - especially my own. There is still so much to see and so many more ways to be changed. My vote is so that my children can be who they truly are, and that they can do anything they dream. My vote is for my dearest LGBTQ family and friends, friends and future family and leaders who are People of Color, and for a more loving, accepting United States. As this painful election cycle has shown... America, you need a woman to look after you.

November 5, 2016


Today was a good start to a "leisurely" weekend. We wanted to stay in all day but decided to head to Costco right when they opened. Then I took Ivy shopping -- we were hoping to find some fall decor but alas everything is Christmas. I got a new coat and a rosemary Le Creuset pot instead. Then we all went to see Trolls (it is worth it- go see it!) Now Ivy and I are watching Cake Wars before bed and we both want cake.

November 4, 2016

In The Current

Welp, I already failed #NaBloPoMo by the 3rd day. I had good intentions and will try to keep up from now on. Yesterday I was just tired beyond words. I don't know how I pushed through, but I did. I managed to get Gray to drum lessons after school, make dinner, send Carter to Robotics, and attend Taste of Albany with Jeff. (The mashed potato balls from Cellar Cat were my favorite, and the pineapple cider from Growler Garage.)

All our late nights from World Series watching and then the final WIN FOR THE CUBS have caught up with us... needless to say we are all looking forward to getting that extra Daylight Savings hour this weekend.

Currently, this is the view from my living room couch. I praised myself for the good idea to stop at Starbucks after school drop off (it depends on traffic and which way I turn out of the parking lot- today I chose wisely). The next layer in this photo represents the laundry my kids have been told to "just dig in there until you find something" for the past two days. I plan to get that all sorted and put away eventually. Behind the laundry baskets are the two gerbil cages on the floor. I need to take them back upstairs. We had to separate them because they decided to try to kill each other and I wish we could get the full story on that. I'm thinking Mocha said something to piss Smokey off but we may never know.

I don't even know what is on the dining table. Board games left over from company visiting, binoculars, Halloween decor needing to be stored away, more laundry. I still love my new tablecloth so I should make sure it's visible again... also that window. My favorite part of this house.

My plan for today was to just sit here and work while listening to podcasts -- and that would be resting for me, but I think I need to do something about this laundry and the kitchen that won't be making it into pictures anytime soon... and I need to go to Target and it's early release at school, then haircuts for a couple kids. Any-way.

November 2, 2016

Happy Places

Yesterday we went on an adventure to Silver Falls. I never knew a cave could be so inviting but I found one and I kind of didn't want to leave. 

We got the good news -- after some bad experiences, circumstances, and a whole lot of anxiety and worrying -- that Ivy will be getting a new teacher at school. Due to overcrowding, they are turning two classes into three. We are so relieved! 

And, tonight the Cubs won the World Series. We have had so much fun watching and rooting for our team. For a sliver of a moment I could see the appeal of sports, if only for how it got my mind off of everything and only in the present of the game. I didn't know how much I needed that, and that I was even capable of it. I am also surprised at how good this win feels.

November 1, 2016


Okay, I tried the private blogging thing and that's not going to work. It didn't allow me enough readers and my own Dad couldn't log in and so, anyway, I'll save all the private stuff drafts for the book I write someday.

So, I finally was able to get the scoop on Skelly. He didn't have a name, but our neighbors said Skelly is kind of a great name so it might stick. It was a Costco purchase a couple years back and they never took him down. He does a good job watching over the curve on the road. We all had a good laugh, and I have permission to stop and take a pic with my skeleton friend one of these days.

This Halloween was the first time Noah and Carter didn't go trick or treating with us. They had school and Ivy and Gray were off. We trick-or-treated in downtown Corvallis with our family (Aunt Lois is visiting with cousin Steph and her awesome girlfriend Sarah -- I don't want them to leave and am trying to convince them to just move in with us.) We didn't even attempt to find a neighborhood to go to at night-- it didn't seem like a big deal and the less candy the better, probably... although I did promise to get in on the clearance candy action at the stores today.

We have had some over-crowded classroom elementary school headaches (literal headache in my head right now) but it appears to be working out. I'm hoping I can give an update on that soon.

Video posts are starting up again at Listen To Your Mother. Here's a favorite I chose for today.

It's the last day our family is here and we're going to make the most of it, ending with a Cubs win tonight!

October 13, 2016


I was worried that I'd be leaving the night sky and stars behind when we left Bandon -- the town opted for dark sky light fixtures to avoid nighttime light pollution, giving us pitch black evenings and gorgeous bright stars. But here in the forest we have the darkest nights I've ever (not) seen. Like, can't see a couple feet in front of your face. If I need to go to the mailbox or take the garbage cans up too late you will find me clapping my hands the whole way up our driveway and back just in case any wild creatures are out there. I have no idea if clapping does anything but alert them to my presence but hopefully they stay away.

One of the first nights we were here this past summer I had to make a late grocery run. On my way home I was still unfamiliar with the roads and on alert for deer so I was driving super slow. As I turned a curve toward our street my headlights slowly scanned over a yard, where there was a tree and a fence... and a skeleton looking right at me.

Had it been this time of year maybe I would not have been so freaking startled, but it was the middle of summer!

I didn't tell anyone until the next time we were all on a drive after dark. I drove them past and told them to watch for Skelly. Yeah I named it. And not a day goes by that we don't drive by and say "Hi, Skelly." Ask anyone who has come to visit us. They know Skelly.

I think Skelly is my first and only friend here.

Yesterday when I drove by, a little girl was getting the mail at Skelly's house. It was a girl who is on Ivy's soccer team- the coach's daughter! This revelation is the most exciting thing that has happened to me in weeks.

I can not wait to find out more about Skelly's story at the game on Saturday.

October 4, 2016

Going Private

Outside my bedroom door.

I'm going to start blogging again. To write the things I want to write I'm going to make my blog private. If you'd like to keep reading, please send me a message.

August 11, 2016

The Mickey Tate Fan Club

Last night Ivy and I attended a production of The Wizard of Oz at Salem's Historic Grand Theatre. It was fabulous. I was blown away by the talent on that stage. P.S. I also love when a theatre sells wine and lets you take it to your seats. But Mickey Tate was the real treat. Mickey Tate, the dog who performed the role of Toto had his own too-cool-for-school headshot and bio in the program. This delighted Ivy to no end. The joy on her face the entire night is something I hope to never forget.  We joked that we are going to start a Mickey Tate fan club and want to see every show he's in, and how next time we'll have to ask for his pawtograph.

We love you, Mickey Tate! 

August 2, 2016


(said like an Oprah shout)

Briochealicious beginnings

Well, I took my first online knitting class to learn how to do the not-new but latest knitting craze-- the brioche stitch and I do love it. I think mostly I am really into the yarn (Madelinetosh, Hazel Knits!) and the pattern I'm working on right now because I did not care for most of what I did in the online class, at all. Anyway, it got me started and getting started is my greatest obstacle. So it's all pure knitting enjoyment now (so far mostly knit on the plane and while re-watching Parenthood and Stranger Things on Netflix) and I looooovve it!

August 1, 2016

Up In The Air


We just got in from a family trip to Louisiana late last night and Ivy's already off to dance camp this morning. It's just how we do. This is the summer of fast forward and pause at the same time. I kind of love it.

So, we did it. We made it. We are moved and we are here. Mostly unpacked, still finding the right new places for old things. I'm waiting to put nails in the walls until my parents come to visit in a few weeks. My dad helped me hang stuff in our last house and maybe it's our thing now.

We've only been here a little over a month and already checked off: two Seattle trips, orthodontist appointments, new doctors, finding a hair stylist, theater camp, having friends over for dinner, overnight guests, launching over 500 new LTYM videos, joining a CSA, discovering new animal friends - mostly deer who like to sleep under our back porch (!?!?), and making seven thousand trips to Home Goods, Marshalls, Ross, Trader Joe's, and Costco. Also Ivy and I are now official experts at putting together Target bar stools and chairs, if you're in need.

I am waiting for all of this to stop feeling new. Already this place doesn't smell like other people's houses every time I open the door, so I know I'm close.

In the grand scheme of things I feel stronger. Despite the challenges our family faces at our baseline, we are happy and things are actually going so well right now that it tends to spin me out on a daily basis, but I'm trying to enjoy both the ride and the destination even if it means I have to close my eyes to even see where we're going.

May 8, 2016

Thank you, Mom.

I pinned Ivy's hair into a bun for her ballet dress rehearsal, placing possibly the thousandth bobby pin that will be lost by the end of the day. We regarded each other in the mirror as she sincerely announced, "Thank you, Mom. Without you, none of this would be possible."

She's seven. Something I am chronically reminding everyone including myself. She feels and thinks and acts dramatically. She has opinions about Donald Trump. She really hopes Bernie has a chance but her eyes gleam at the thought of the first woman President. She's seven. She lights up that theater with her whole body. She moves among a whole group of dancers but commands your gaze -- she is the only one up there.

She can see all the layers, especially the underneath ones, of life. She gets that from me. And I get it from her -- and so we just reflect it back and forth and hopefully out into this world.

A good memory from a Colorado trip, yes I cut out the rest of the family.

I've been struggling with what to write about my mom for Mother's Day. I don't want to make her cry or feel bad because we're too far away to celebrate together. The privilege my parents gave me in constant support, encouragement to be myself, countless hours spent packed inside sweaty school gyms for my choir performances or giving me rides to play practice -- it all seems too shallow and cliché to tell those stories of thanks again.

My mom always had a job outside of the home but I can not recall her missing anything important because of it. Now I can only imagine the balls she must have dropped without my ever knowing. The backstage contortionist a mother learns to become, pulling all the ropes and levers and turning all the wheels to keep things going behind the scenes, to keep things just go-ing, period. The things I was never privy to. She kept it all together. And like a good mom, she never let on, never made me go look behind the curtain.

And it's not like I wasn't aware of struggles or hard times -- things weren't perfect and I knew it, and I knew we always got through it.

Like a good mom, she allowed me to go on about my childhood lost in imagination without ever having to think about the inner workings, without needing to notice that Mom was there or not there because she always just was.

The mother I am is a direct result of the mother I have. It's in our DNA, to take care of people and to keep things going. To raise good people who will raise up more good people.

Thank you, Mom. Without you, none of this would be possible.

May 4, 2016

The End Is Near

Noah and I drove our 8-hours-one-way trip to Seattle for the last time. His next appointment is a couple days after we move, which will cut our trip in half from now on, meaning we can be up there and back home in the same day.

A couple weeks ago I found myself seated in a veterinary hospital waiting room with a tiny cage in my lap, holding our gerbil Snowflake. She hadn't been acting well and I couldn't stand the idea of her being in discomfort. I expected them to pressure me to put her down, but when she grabbed hold of the vet's finger with her teeth and would not let go, I knew she still had plenty of life in her. She's fighting to live! He reluctantly sent me home with some "ointment" to treat a mysterious ailment on her underside (I am almost sure it was just a tiny bottle of vaseline and water only to make me happy but I forked over my forty dollars for it.)

In the same week, the hamster died unexpectedly. Some of the closest and sweetest moments we've experienced as a family have been in a circle around a small pile of dirt in the backyard.

Snowflake didn't make it after all, either.

We move next month. This house isn't feeling like home anymore. I'm looking forward to when the next one does. Last weekend we stayed overnight in the new tree house. It was a whirlwind trip we fit between baseball practices, games, and dance recitals. The views are expansive, as is the future. Wide open.

April 12, 2016

There's Still Time

We sold our house. Money has changed hands so I feel like I'm allowed to say those words, finally. I'm an optimist and I truly wasn't sure it was ever going to happen. That's how dire it had become. We are going to see the new house next week and maybe that will bring back the feeling in my, well, all the areas where you feel feelings. It's the only house I liked when we went house hunting over a year and a half ago. A giant house in the trees. There it sat, waiting for me. I do not know why it took this long, I do not think it was perfect timing, I do not find a lesson or blessing in it all, but none of that matters anyway. It's done. Jeff's getting the Internet hooked up next week so then it will be Officially Official.

During this time I've rallied around giving myself permission to feel sad and mad, sitting with it, actually feeling it and getting a good look at it -- and that helped, for sure. It's made me stronger and more compassionate and a better parent. So maybe that could technically count as something good coming out of all of this but I still cry no fair. But now, I'm finding myself feeling moments that don't resemble sadness and funny enough -- it's kind of scary. So a new thing I tell myself is that it's okay to be not okay and it's also okay to be happy.

Next week we are going to "camp out" at the giant tree house one night with the kids and no furniture and today that sounds like it will be a lot of fun but eventually I'll have to think about the logistics. Presently I find myself waking up at night worrying about what I'm going to do with everything in the fridge and freezer in this current house. We're here for two more months. I have reminded myself of this way too much already. There's still plenty of time to get to that.

February 16, 2016

Happy Places

The kids were describing their happy places. Ivy's happy place is SCHOOL (said in all caps) and Carter's is a world made of Legos. Gray's was "a field full of animals" and Noah's happy place is an arcade.

I asked them what they thought my happy place would be -- Gray quickly responded, "anywhere around us."

They are my oxygen. I don't know if could breathe without them.

And now, some things that I am sending off into the universe where I hope they land on the doorsteps of the people for whom they are meant.

I can't talk right now, because I might cry and you won't be able to understand what I'm saying. Also, I just don't have the energy to bring myself to pick up the phone/to write the email/to send the message. It's not you, it's totally me, although maybe you're going through it yourself, too, and so we both are in deep and should let each other off the hook. I hope you understand. I'm in a weird place right now, it's not a good time. I'm hoping it will pass, and when it does, I hope you're still around and won't hold it against me. I wish I could function as a person in your life. To even try to hold a conversation is too heavy for me right now. There are too many questions with hard answers asking more questions. I wish I could be and do more, but I am literally doing the minimum to get through the next hour to the next day to put another foot in front of the other to hopefully, eventually, find that I made it to the other side.

January 7, 2016

Closing Time

The house is getting listed again. We were on a break for a bit but it's time. New year, new plan. It's gotta work. Otherwise I'm more convinced this town has a powerful force that refuses to let us leave. Which could possibly be more truth than science fiction.

We all seem to have more oomph in our step and are powering through closets and under beds with motivation. The kids decided to "organize" their closets so now Gray is trying to convince me that his two sizes too small fleece hoodie fits just fine, all zipped up and squashing his head. And of course organizing to them is pulling absolutely everything out of the closet and onto the floor and leaving it there while they play with long forgotten Nerf guns and old Halloween masks.

I think this time it's going to work, I dare hope the house sells quickly. We still don't really know where we'll go from here - a rental? Something that fits us all and is in the school district I want? We're a little sore about buying another house, but who knows what's next. Blind or open-eyed, I don't think it matters in the end.

January 2, 2016

we've read the book and you come out on top

More Joseph today. It came to me, as I was loading the dishwasher and worrying about not cultivating my passion, as Ivy was seated at the counter with my laptop and another viewing of Joseph on YouTube, that I am doing good work. I'm growing a child to love and know my passion. And I might still get there myself.

I almost wrote that I still have time, but I've been thinking about that a lot. Do we really? No one can know. My hope is that when time does run out, for anyone, that they did get to a moment in their life of realization and clarity. Something that makes them feel like it was worth it. I think about this a bit too much lately and wish I didn't. So instead I'm trying to think and do more in the right now, and hopefully bring the kids along with me, and in doing so making it worth it for all of us.

This week I accomplished a few tasks I've been putting off for an unacceptable amount of time. Today I did one more thing. I don't know what has caused my suddenly ambitious actions, but I'm making the most of it while supplies last.

January 1, 2016

The first of many.

It was a great start to the year. Ivy and I have exhausted our current musical soundtracks of Hamilton, Annie, Phantom, & Into the Woods and then I realized I had never introduced her to Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat... what a throwback. I still remember every note in the chorus. She made minestrone soup by my instruction, chopping all the veggies and adding all the ingredients herself. She also discovered that she absolutely loves Billie Holiday's name and voice, as well as any song on Cole Porter radio on Pandora. These small things make me so happy, and feel like we are on course after all.