A Letter to My Bear & Goose: Season Five

To my Bear and Goose,

Year 5. Can you believe it? Our fifth football season as a family. It will be hard to beat last year’s season, I think we can all admit that. That last second grab? It will live in my heart forever.

You know what else will live in my heart forever, Lila Bear? The way you ran to me and hugged me as I sobbed, realizing that the impossible had come true; the Super Bowl curse had ended. You didn’t understand happy tears (or why your father was outside beeping the car horn) but you wanted to be sure I was ok. You’re a good egg, Lila Bear and I love you more than even Pat the Patriot for it.

Lila, you’ve reached a funny age, where you are starting to make your own decisions and that is beginning to be reflected in your choice of teams. You girls are, after all, Seattle-ites. Which is why, even though painful to hear, it was not surprising when during the pre-season you, Lila Bear, declared “I love the Seahawks!” While I will always be there to remind you who the real 12th man is, I support you becoming your own person and not necessarily cheering for a team just because your mom does. (But c’mon Lila, it is a really great team, based on an American fight for freedom from tyranny. What has a hawk ever done to earn your freedom?)

Lucy, you in so many ways are your own person, but you’re still figuring it out football wise. You’ll let me dress in you in your Tom Brady jersey for at least one more year, though it is entirely possible you are swayed by your sister’s new found fandom. (Also, we’re sorry you got stuck with the 4th year of a 4 year jersey plan with that RGIII jersey. Think of it as a badge of honor or an ironic throwback.) You may be a momma’s girl Lucy Goose, but you are undeniably a little sister who wants to be just like her older sister. Not to mention all those Seahawks colored jimmy donuts you’ll see this season. You love your sister and jimmy donuts.

It’s our first football season in our new house. While house hunting we would walk in to each one and say, how can you hold a Super Bowl party here? Who knows if we’ll ever host a Super Bowl party, but we knew it was important to buy a house that allowed the possibility of doing so. And I think it does. I think we did a good job – there is room for you to play (inside and out) while we watch football, there is space for guests and snacks, soon there will be a tv mounted over the mantle, and yes, one day hopefully in the not so far future, there will even be a couch on which one can watch football. (We have a few months before the Super Bowl, thankfully.)

A new football season is a new start, and I am so excited to see it through your eyes again. Really I’m excited to see football and hope that this fifth year of football fandom is the year you both learn to entertain yourself through a full football game. Please. For all those times we’ve watched Frozen, let me have this.

All my love,
Momma

From Spring to Summer to Fall

It was spring and we moved to a townhouse. We sold our house. We bought a new one.

It was summer and we waited for our new house to be ready. (And waited and waited.)

It is almost fall and we are in our new home, getting settled and feeling happy about where we are.

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Many things happened in between there – construction delays, vacations, weddings, soccer games, furniture shopping, beach days, concerts, and lazy mornings.

To list them all would be a dull, long, post, with much whining about the stress. But the other day, as A and the kids played upstairs while I cooked dinner in the kitchen, dancing barefoot to Wilco’s California Stars, I realized how good things were. How settled we felt (even without a couch) and how happy I was we were finally to this point.

This summer seemed both very long, as we waited to stop being in between, and short, with the focus always being on when we would be moving. But now it’s fall, and things are good. And we are happy. And I look forward to sharing it with all of you again.

Spring into Summer into Fall

 

Living Life Vertically: An Update

Things we’ve learned in the past month or so:

  • Moving is a big undertaking
  • Moving with kids is a really big undertaking
  • Selling a home is stressful and busy and not easy and did I mention stressful?
  • You may not sleep for 2 weeks, but this too shall pass

We’re in the townhouse we’re renting for the summer and I’d say about 85% settled in. It is still an adjustment but we’re making it work. Every box that is going to be unpacked has been unpacked, the rest stored in the garage, not to be unpacked until we move to our next “real home.” And while we’re unpacked, there are still some things to be worked out – like where are the tissues or the Clorox wipes or the cutting boards. But, day to day, we’re doing just fine. Though living on four floors is a change. We’re hoping our butts look really good after climbing stairs all day this summer.

The house officially went on the market on Wednesday. (Wanna live in Seattle?) We’ve had a good response, but we won’t know anything for sure until Tuesday when we review offers (which we will hopefully have received by then). It’s hard to not obsess over every little thing and try to decide if a certain number of likes or “x-outs” mean anything. We’ve made it to the weekend with ballet and gymnastics classes, as well as basketball games to distract us.

That’s the brief update. Until Tuesday we’re pretty much living, breathing and sleeping the house sale. Trust me, we’re as tired about talking about it as everyone around us is tired of hearing about it. But it’s a big deal, a big undertaking and a big chance we took. So bear with us for a few more weeks, hopefully the next words you hear from us will be sold!

 

Moving in the Right Direction

The past month has been hectic, to put it mildly. We had known that we wanted to find a new family home in 2015. I laid in bed on New Year’s Eve and thought – wow, we are going to sell our house this year. And buy a new one! Not that I stayed up until midnight (because #old) but it definitely gave me some sleepless moments. After looking at many open houses and consulting with our real estate agent, we decided for a multitude of reasons selling our house first, then finding out next home, was the best option for us. (Note I didn’t say easiest.)

So we’re renting a townhouse for the summer – starting today! – and putting our house on the market in about 10 days. It’s been a whirlwind of to dos and house fixes and contractors and moving plans and contracts and OMG what are we thinking for the past 30 days. We’re crossing things off our list, and one way or another, we’ll be in the townhouse by Tuesday.

But here we are – getting ready to move out of the home we’ve lived in for almost five years. The home we brought our babies home to. Sometimes I’m ok with this. I know our family needs more space and a house that works better for us. And I know that the house isn’t what is important – it is the people, pets and moments inside it that are special. Good news – those are all coming with us! I have moments of sadness and nostalgia, but after moving across the country five years ago (and surviving!) I know that a move within the neighborhood is something we will all survive.

On to our next adventure: our family in a townhouse, less space and things than we are used to but a summer adventure. My kids love open houses and will probably be disappointed when we finally do find the right home for us, so I know they are enjoying the ride. As for A and I, we’re just hanging on and trying to take the move one day at a time (or one box at a time as it is this weekend).

Ballet Birthday Bash

Over the past few months I’ve learned a few things about almost four year olds. Things become a big deal when you are four (or almost). Between Christmas and her birthday, Lila has been beside herself excited since the end of November. Just too much holiday fun to bear. And since her sister’s birthday is at the end of December and since November we’ve attended about eighty-five (by rough count) birthday parties, Lila was ready for it to be her turn.

Now I am not a Pinterest mom. If you are, good on you. You pin those projects, follow through and have beautiful handmade party favors with themed food. That is not me. I’m a manager, an outsourcer, an idea woman. So while I wanted nothing more than for Lila’s party to be a success and everything she hoped for, I knew no amount of time spent on Pinterest figuring out how to make ballet themed snacks would prove worthwhile. (For the record, I did spend on afternoon on Pinterest. After following one link, it took me to a blog discussing the three year old ballet birthday party and CREDITING THEIR PROFESSIONAL PHOTOGRAPHER AND PARTY PLANNER. I slowly backed away from the internet and realized this was not for me.)

No Pinterest, but using Google led me to the Evergreen City Ballet in Renton, WA, just south of Seattle. This ballet studio offered ballet birthday parties with crafts, dancing and two real live ballerinas. I knew it was about 25 minutes away from home, but hoped the party would be worth the travel. I’ll let the photos speak for themselves.

Ballet Birthday Bash in Seattle

Birthday Party with the ballerinas

Ballet Birthday Bash in Seattle

Releve!

Ballet Birthday Bash in Seattle

Arabesque

Ballet Birthday Bash in Seattle

Warm Ups

Ballet Birthday Bash in Seattle

Ballet Princess Cake

The birthday party was a huge success and perfect for a ballet and birthday obsessed four year. My only complaint? It is sure going to be hard to top next year.

 

My Bear Cub

My Lila Bear turns 4 today and I truly can’t believe it, despite 4 being a prominent number in her birth. She was born at 4lbs 8oz, a tiny, skinny, alien looking thing, at 4:44pm, 4 weeks before her due date. Holding that little baby burrito in my arms, I couldn’t imagine the walking, talking, intelligent, funny little person who is in our lives today.

I don’t even know where to start when describing Lila. She calls herself a princess and she loves ballet. Nothing makes her happier than putting on some kind, any kind, of music and dancing around to it. At the same time, she is not currently a fan of ballet class. Her shyness makes being in class sometimes too much for her, as well as the fact that she’d like a little more “real ballet” and less dancing around to Mary Had a Little Lamb with pool noodles, thank you very much. We’ve been trying to explain that few, if any, professional ballet dancers are autodidacts, but Lila seems ready to prove the world wrong on that one. (I blame Belinda.)

Lila loves princesses, but I would definitely not call her princess crazed as some girls her age may be. Given the option to watch Frozen or Daniel Tiger, she’ll always choose Daniel Tiger. At Christmas she wanted superhero books and her recent wardrobe choices tend more towards tee shirts and jeans. She loves doing yoga with me before bed, and I love watching her do a downward dog or sit crossed legged and say “namaste.” (I love cuddling with her during the shavasana relaxation at the end the best.) Dinosaurs and space amaze her and the other day she expressed wanting to do nothing more than take a rocket into outer space.

So many times I look at Lila and see only her father. While Lucy looks more like me, Lila looks like her dad. She acts like her dad too – they share a silly streak, a love for cereal and hamburgers, and of watching sports on tv, especially Duke basketball. As much as it can pain me, Lila and I butt heads more than she does with her dad because I think we share an emotional, hot headedness. Neither one of us can let the other win. And when you’re four – or the mom of a four year old – this results in some disagreements, which can result in both of us crying. We feel all the feels, though that makes Lila amazingly empathetic. As I sobbed at the improbable Patriots Super Bowl win, Lila ran to me hugged my legs and said “I love you mommy.” She didn’t realize I was crying happy tears and just wanted to help things be better. You’re a good egg, Lila Bear.

Lila’s first Patriots’ Super Bowl was on the eve of her first birthday. A less spectacular outcome resulted and I cried myself to sleep that night because the Pats had lost and my baby was one. I felt no happiness at her growing bigger, no longer my baby. But now, as she turns four, I may still miss my first baby but I am amazed at what a wonder person she is. Lila tells stories, takes care of her little sister, loves her dog and cat, cannot read enough books, enjoys math, and wants to travel the world. Best of all, even though she’s tall and lanky and much bigger than that 4lb burrito placed in my arms four years ago, Lila still loves to cuddle with her momma.

My favorite Lila

My favorite Lila

Lila Bear, you are my special bear cub. You challenge me, inspire me and make me want to be the best momma I can for you. I know I fail but I love that you let me cuddle you and say I’m sorry and try again. I love you and your sister and I can’t wait to watch your dance parties for the rest of your lives. 

Happy birthday Lila Bear!

Very Superstitious

Sports Superstitions

All the cute girls love the New England Patriots

I’m not really that superstitious. Friday the 13th doesn’t phase me, I like black cats and if I were to be concerned every time something like salt was spilled around here, it would make for some very long days.  That is, unless it involves sports. If it involves sports, I’m superstitious. Very superstitious.

Last year UConn was in the NCAA tournament, on their way to an incredibly improbably national championship title. Every Friday of the tournament I wore the same outfit – jean skirt, Connecticut sweat shirt, brown boots. It kept working and clearly that was because of my consistency in wardrobe choices.

This year, my Patriots met the Seattle Seahawks in the Super Bowl. Living in Seattle, this made me quite the outcast and in my belief, required a great deal of good will and juju to overcome all the blue and green here. I wore Pats gear everyday the week before the game. The kids wore their “go Pats” shirts to school on Friday (which someone pointed out will help them learn to stand up for unpopular opinions). But this year, I needed more than just wardrobe to gain favor with the football gods.

When planning the meal for our Super Bowl party (small, family only because we COULD NOT have a non-Pats fan in our midst), I wanted New England themed food. However, A doesn’t eat clam chowder, the kids don’t eat lobster, so I settled on Boston baked beans. But when I went to the grocery store, there was only Bush’s Baked Beans. These are from Tennessee. This would not do. I needed Boston baked beans. I wanted the B&M beans I had grown up with. Tennessee beans were not going to do the job. Clearly Seattle beer was out. Even though our fridge was filled with our favorite Seattle brewed beer, I could not allow it to be drunk at the party. Sam Adams (of course) for me and A graciously compromised with Pacifico from Mexico. (We settled on basic, non-denominational Super Bowl food of pigs in a blanket, enchilada bites, mac & cheese and some carrot sticks for fiber.)

As the game got closer, I began to look for signs everywhere. The Super Bowl porcupine who had chosen correctly 8 years running had chosen the Seahawks. This was bad. A thick, impenetrable fog rolled into Seattle on Friday. What did it mean? Was Seattle doomed? Lost in their own clouds? But by noon it was bright and sunny. Wait, what did THIS mean? Would the sun come out for Seattle? As the weekend progressed, I did a number of favors for individuals in Arizona for the game (Seahawks fans), clearly this put them in my debt, and by transference, the Hawks in the Pats debt. Lastly, Sunday morning I ran out for some last minute items at the grocery store and ran into the only other Pats fan I encountered all season. He exclaimed excitedly, gave me a friendly hug and said “I feel good about today.” It didn’t ease my anxious stomach, but I clung to his optimism.

And it all worked out in what was the most intense last two minutes of anything I’ve lived through. I won’t insult my kids and husband to say it was the greatest moment of my life, watching that interception, but it’s in the top five. As I cried happy tears watching Tom Brady jump on the sidelines like a school girl, I knew that the signs had been right all along and all those Mexican cervasas had payed off. The good guys won, the Pats were champs. (And until next year, A is welcome to drink whatever beer he likes.)

Traveling with Kids: Time Changes

The problem with the two Washingtons is not just the distance between the two. It is the three hour time change that really gets you, especially when traveling with children. We’ve tried just about every strategy and technique over the past 4 years to survive the time change with kids and we certainly haven’t found the magic bullet, but maybe our trials will help you find what may be best for you.

– Travel times. Traditionally we’ve traveled in the afternoon, leaving Seattle at about 2pm. The goal was for the kids to take their naps on the airplane. We would arrive in the Other Washington around bedtime and they would be ready to go to sleep. I mean all of that was theoretical, it never worked, the kids wouldn’t nap, be terribly cranky by the time we landed and just blah. This time we took a morning flight. Getting the kids out of the house at 5am wasn’t great, but they were in a good mood on the plane, had breakfast on the airplane and then napped in the car once we got to the Other Washington. Our return flight is usually the 5pm flight out of the Other Washington and they do usually sleep on the flight. We arrive slightly after their west coast bed time and put them straight to bed. There can definitely be some melt downs with all the transitions with sleepy kids (plane to stroller, stroller to parking shuttle, shuttle to car, car to house, pjs and bed) but ultimately the evening return flight has worked for us and having the kids quickly get back on a west coast schedule.

– Bedtimes. When we first flew to the Other Washington with 4 month old Lila, we kept her on a west coast schedule. This wasn’t a big deal because she napped every 3 hours, slept through the night and was pretty cute and easy while she was awake. We had this time zone thing figured out. Now our kids are 2 and 4 and bedtimes are much more complicated. Kids don’t nap or they don’t nap until 5pm local time – so bedtime at 7pm local doesn’t work. Keeping west coast bedtimes can be done, but keep in mind that means the kids won’t be in bed until 11pm local time. Which may be cool, unless you are on the east coast for a business trip and have a 7am local time event. Because that sucks.

– Meals. This one may be easy or hard, depending on how you look at it. My kids are in the toddler/preschooler eating phase, in which they both just eat continuously and whenever they want. Lucy especially NEEDS breakfast the moment she wakes up, or else all hell breaks loose. And please do not tell her you don’t have rice crispies. Don’t even try. Anyway, we try to keep them on some kind of meal schedule, but they like to snack all day and by the time dinner rolls around, they’ve probably had 2 apples, cheese, bread and yogurt in the past 3 hours. We also found that if they were going to bed on west coast time, feeding them east coast dinner at 6pm doesn’t really work. They will need another snack. (Parenting is really all about snacks and never leaving the house without them.)

– Forget the schedule. My kids really thrive on schedules, really need them to keep calm and happy. But it is hard to do on vacations. We’re out and about, visiting people, working with others’ schedules, etc, and this destroys their schedule (even before adding in the 3 hour time difference). It stresses me out, I hate staying up until 11:30pm waiting for them to tire for bed, I hate that they don’t get regular naps and the stress and lack of sleep all combine to make traveling really difficult. But we do it, and we suck it up and give them snacks at midnight even when we have to be at work in 7 hours.

So realizing I have no real tips for travel schedules for kids? Check out this great webinar on sleep and time zone travel here (from the former Isis Parenting, whose sleep webinars I miss all the time). Have tips to share? I’d love to hear it before I swear off traveling between time zones forever.

Traveling with Children – Preparing

Traveling with Kids: The Preparation

Ready for Take Off!

We’ve traveled a fair amount with both of our children. At not even 4 years old, Lila has taken more cross country flights than many adults. Lucy was on her first flight at 3 weeks old. This isn’t to suggest we’re experts at flying with children. I will say, however, that we at least have an idea what to expect and are never surprised when asked to take our shoes off by TSA.

So what have I learned through all these experiences traveling with children? Number one thing is to never think you are prepared for everything. You will not be. You can bring your child’s favorite snack, favorite book, favorite stuffed animal and have 20 hours of Dora the Explorer downloaded and they will still have a meltdown at some point. No one likes traveling. Not adults, not kids and no, not babies. So how do we prepare for a trip with 2 kids these days?

– Packing. I try to reduce the duplication of work by packing straight out of the laundry, instead of putting away clean clothes and then taking them back out to pack. This weekend I just sat on the floor with the clean laundry for all of us and made piles of what to pack. Straight from laundry basket to suitcase – and this helps ensure what I packed are things the kids will wear, since they recently wore it.

– Lists. I make a list for everything. I use big index cards and have one for each type of packing needed – suitcases, carry ons – as well as things that need to be done at home before we leave. I check off as things get packed in their correct spot and then circle what is still needed (like last minute items such as toiletries, shoes, etc.) I also try to be as general as possible in this list. Unless I think there is really a specific outfit I need (or the kids need) I don’t write down “blue pants, pink top;” I keep it more general to “7 casual outfits,” “2 work outfits.” Oh and I always forget pjs. Don’t forget pjs.

– Involve the kids. Asking a 2 year old and a 4 year old to pack their own clothes will not end well. However, asking them each to pick 2 books, a stuffed animal and a snack to put in their own backpacks to bring on the plane will. It helps them feel ownership over the packing process, as well as what they have on the place. This is of course not all I bring because 2 books does not last 6 hours, and neither does one snack, but it helps.

– Chillax. So I’m no good at this step, but the fact is our family could be the only people on the flight and I could have endless applesauce and peanut butter bars and the kids will still be bored. Because no one likes flying for 6 hours. Do your best, be as prepared as you can be and there is no shame in a glass of wine on an 8am flight because it will help you breathe easier for the next 6 hours. I mean, we’re headed east and it will practically be lunchtime there.

Good luck with your travels – I’ll keep you posted as our trip progress as to how ours goes.

Working Smartly in the New Year

3596829214_93ddeb6cbf_z2015, amiright? The new year holds lots of possibilities, but also so many unknowns and things we want to do. We’re already planning for a busy year (at the moment mostly filled with preschooler birthday parties which seem to be the party of the season right now). With travel, potentially putting our house on the market, finding a new house, blogging, making sure Cal is fed three times a day, I need to find a way to say on task and focused this year.

Both in my volunteering work as well as at work I’ve been exposed to SMART goals, Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely. I’ve also seen other bloggers use their blogs as way to stay true to their goals and see what goals they reach each month. And with that, I suppose I’ve reached my first goal of the year – check in and continue to develop goals monthly.

My thought is to come up with categories now and work throughout the year on goals within those categories.

Categories for Goals for 2015:

– Family

– Health

– Personal

– Blogging

– Work

And with that, here are my SMART goals for January:

– Family – have one unscheduled afternoon a weekend for the girls to hang out and do what they choose and compete the January Subtraction Project.

– Health – complete the 5 day clean eating challenge and work out in some manner 3x/week.

– Personal – read one book this month. (Yes, really just one. My goal is 12 this year, which would be a sixfold increase over 2014. Baby steps).

– Blogging – complete blogging calendar and post 3x/week.

– Work – network with new contacts at the conference the end of this month.
So that’s it for now. Keep me accountable this year, readers. What are your goals for the new year? How will you stay motivated to follow through on them?