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).

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.

Gift Cards: Evil or Evil Genius?

So the holidays are here. Ho ho ho. I love the holidays, I really do, though I do tend to get wrapped up in all the to dos and out a bit. After a late arriving birthday party invitation through our weekend schedule into disarray this week, I may have had a small anxiety attack that resulted in me hyperventilating at my assistant’s desk. (You guys, the struggle is real in December.)

As I discussed over at Liberating Working Moms this week, gift giving is a huge part of the holidays and one that takes up a lot of energy. As the name Two Washingtons suggests, we still have lots of family and friends on the east coast. So their holiday gifts not only need to be purchased, but then shipped to the other side of the country to make it in time for the holiday.

This is our fifth (!) Christmas in Seattle, so I’ve got the shipping things done to a science. I know when things need to be shipped by, I know how to pack a box and what a great friend the self serve shipping machine is. It’s not the shipping that has my losing sleep this season. It is the what the heck do I get you thing that is killing me. It sounds sort of silly, but honestly, why do we have to give gifts EVERY year?

It is not the gift giving itself that I mind. I’m all for giving something to people that they want and can use. But it is the gift giving for gift giving sake that drives me crazy. The proliferation of stuff everywhere that accumulates from the need to just give something. I’d love to be able to find the perfect gift for everyone that I know they will love and use, and not feel like I am just needlessly contributing to the clutter in their lives. (Maybe this is partly me projecting that I do not know where we will put all the stuff that will accumulate in our house this holiday season. We want to move in the spring and every time something new enters the house I think, where will I put that and how will I pack it.)

So what are your gift giving tips? Honestly, I’m to the point of only giving gift cards this year. Part of me thinks it is a cop out but I spend so much of the holiday gift trying to find the “perfect” gift that meets my usabililty requirements, that I end up driving myself crazy. A gift card that allows the receiver to use as they wish – be that for more things or something they truly find useful – seems to be the best plan right now. I think the ability for them to truly buy what they want/need helps to reduce the guilt of sending the impersonal gift card.

Do you feel overwhelmed by stuff at the holidays? Have you found a good “non-thing” gift for your loved ones? (And to those on my gift list – SURPRISE! – you’re getting a gift card.)

How Do You Find the Time?

I’m pretty frustrated with my weight. I’m the heaviest I’ve been (non-pregnant) in the last 5 years. I know that I need to eat better. I’ve cut out some simple things like alcohol during the week and soy lattes. I’m working on the food part of things, though to be honest the holidays are a hard time to do that. I’m social coordinator at our office and running four weeks of cookie exchanges. That’s tough.

What I really need to do is find a way to work regular exercise into my schedule. I just don’t know how to do it. I’m not trying to allege that I’m too busy. Everyone is busy. Busy people work out. I’m just not sure where it works in my life right now. As I see it, there are three possible times to try to work out each day.

Before Work: Getting to a class wouldn’t be impossible. Many places around here have 6am classes. Our morning schedule is to get up around 6:15, we get ready, then get the kids up at 7. We rush around and get everyone out the door by 8, hopefully 7:45. So if I go to a 6am class, I won’t be back until about 7:15. Then I need to get cleaned up and dressed – leaving A to get the kids up and ready on his own. Sure, that would my mornings less stressful but it doesn’t seem very fair to A (and it would likely delay our leaving the house every morning).

During the Day: I usually try to sneak out of work for a lunchtime Zumba on Fridays, but that isn’t workable everyday. I have a pretty tight 8:30-5 work day, which fits in the day care schedule. While I work more than 40 hours a week, it is not enough to get it all down. I rarely take a lunch away from my desk. So how do I fit a work out in? Not to mention, how do people deal with being gross and sweaty in the middle of the day.

After Work: Like our mornings, there is not much time to spare. Home by 6, dinner around 6:30, kids in bed at 7:30. Again there are many classes that start around 7 or 7:30, but it would mean I had to leave A to do bedtime on his own. It’s not that I don’t think he can do it, he is probably better at bedtime than I am, I just don’t think it is fair to leave him to do it alone three times a week. Plus, we have lots of other things going on during the week – laundry, cleaning, occasional meetings/social events. Oh, and I’m tired at the end of the day. Really, really tired.

So, what do you think dear reader? How do you fit exercise in? Does during the day work for you, despite the sweatiness? How do you manage morning workouts? Help me and my jeans.

#blessed

It is very easy to get overwhelmed in the holiday season. To wish that there wasn’t a giant meal to make, or parties to attend, or cookies to bake or gifts to buy. But the truth is, we are so blessed to have so many stresses. So many #firstworldproblems to deal with and no real problems to contend with.

So for this Thanksgiving, I am thankful for the stress, the hustle and bustle, and the demands of the holiday season. We are blessed to have such worried.

– I am thankful for crowded grocery stores and expensive organic turkeys.  My only concerns are the annoying crowds, not how I will pay for my family’s meal.

– I am thankful for a large list of people for whom I need to buy gifts. My concerns are what to buy and how to ship, not how I’ll afford Christmas this year.

– I am thankful for the stress of figuring out which dish to cook when because I have a warm, safe place to cook it in.

– I am thankful for a very full calendar because it is filled with parties, ballets, and holiday celebrations because it means we are full, exciting lives.

– I am thankful for missing my friends and their babies back east because we are lucky to have friends across the country (and the world really!)

– I am thankful for the hassle of trying to get my kids to talk to their grandparents on Google talk. It may be hard to convince them to sit still long enough to have a meaningful conversation but we are lucky to technology that  allows us to stay in contact with our families.

– I am thankful for the stress of a busy time at work. I have a job, a good job, as does A. We are lucky.

– I am thankful for the stress of constant day care colds because it is a minor inconvenience in the scheme of health issues.

This holiday season I am stressed, overwhelmed, and overextended and I am so thankful for all of it.

How Zumba Taught Me How to Be 35

So I’m 35 today. I’m not overly excited about it. In fact, I’ve been dreading it since turning 34. I’m old. I’m cranky. I’m out of shape. Oh, and I’m tired. Oh so very tired. But in preparing to write this post, I tried to think about what the angle would be. I’m old and I don’t like it? A bucket list of what I’ll do going forward? A list of all I’ve accomplished in my 35 years? Nothing seemed just right. I did start thinking about how I’ve changed – how 35 years of being a daughter, 10 years of being an attorney, (almost) 8 years of being a wife and 4 years of being a mother – has molded me. The surprising thing that came to me is not what all of that life has taught me, but what doing Zumba for the past 12 months has taught me.

I’ve fallen in with a Zumba teacher I like, who makes class fun, gives us a great workout and has created a community within her classes. She teaches four times a week and I aim to attend twice a week, though most weeks I’m lucky to make it to one. (Ironically she has the same birthday as I do too!) Doing Zumba is never something I really thought of as being a “me” thing, but I’ve really come to enjoy it and miss it when I can’t go. But more than just a great hour of exercise and fun, I’ve taken more from this teacher and these classes.

– Be silly. Our teacher is always encouraging us to just let go and do the silly stuff. Don’t be afraid to make the “ham sandwich” hand motion during “Wiggle,” do the running man during “Work It” and just have fun. No one is too cool to be silly. Having kids has helped a lot with this. You go from being self-conscious about so many things to singing and dancing to Baby Beluga in the check out line because it keeps your kid happy while the man in front of you tries to push 14 items through the 10 item express lane.

– No one is watching you. Certainly part of learning to be silly and not take yourself so seriously is learning that no one really cares about you. I don’t mean this in a life is cruel and lonely sort of way. I mean no one really cares what you are doing on a daily basis. No one is judging you – and if they are, who cares. No one in Zumba is watching you dance. They are all doing their own thing. Stop worrying about what others are thinking about and just do the fake Beyonce walk – and yeah, do the Beyonce walk not just in Zumba but in life in general because everyone needs more Beyonce.

– Make it bigger. Our teacher always tells us to “take up more space” or to “be bigger” when we’re dancing. Swing your arms, use all your space. It may sound a little frou frou but these are powerful words. Take up space. Don’t be afraid to be out there. Sheryl Sandburg talks about it in Lean In – women tend to sit on the periphery in meetings and let men sit at the table. Sit at the table. Take up space, tell others you belong there. Make your presence known. I just read that doing a “power pose” before a big meeting can help you to feel more in command. Do the Wonder Woman pose. Take up that space. (You know, being Beyonce is works here too. Maybe we all just need to be Beyonce.)

So that’s it. That’s what I’ve taken from 35 years of life. (Ok maybe a bit more, but that’s what I’m thinking about these days.) As I strive to be sillier, not worry what others think and be bigger in life, I feel better (albeit a little bit better) about turning 35. I live a life that allows me to do these things, surrounded by people who support me in doing it and turning 35 isn’t going to change any of that.

Buried Under

First, the title of this post refers to the Rayna James hit “Buried Under.” If you’re asking, who is Rayna James? Well, maybe you should reconsider your Two Washingtons fandom. Rayna James is the Nashville persona of Tami Taylor. And if you don’t know who Tami Taylor is, well then we really can. not. be friends. Clear Eyes. Full Hearts. Can’t Lose. 

So yes, this title refers to Rayna James, but it also is how I feel. The fall always sneaks up on me. I think things won’t get really busy until November,but some how September and October bring more challenge and stress than I expect. Two years ago I was very pregnant and not sure I would make it full term. Last year I figured that things would be easy since I wasn’t pregnant, but it turns out two outside babies are harder than 1 outside/1 inside baby. This year, A is out of a retail role at work which means a little less stress through the holiday season – and yet? I barely survived Halloween and I’m not sure how I’ll pull it all together for two more holidays.

While I feel like curling up in a tight ball and sleeping for the next few weeks (as B-Cat and Cal demonstrate and make look so attractive). However, I don’t my job, my kids or the dustbunnies that form daily in our house would agree with this strategy. Instead, I’ll take some vitamin C, try to get a few extra minutes of sleep and stay off evil Pinterest. Oh, and stare at this photo of these adorable costumed children. Because really, how adorbs, right?

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Pumpkin Patches Are Overrated (There, I said it.)

In today’s social media age, you can watch the seasons progress in photos featured on Facebook and Instagram. Summer features adorable children on the beach, then back to school on the front steps with back ups and now, we’re in the pumpkin patch season of the year. (This will soon be followed by Halloween costume photos and crying children on Santa’s lap photo season.) As is our constitutional duty, we took our kids to the pumpkin patch last weekend.

Pumpkin Patches Just May Be Overrated

Pumpkin Patches Just May Be Overrated

It was an unseasonably warm day, about 70 degrees out. It was muddy. It was crowded. And honestly? It was way overrated. We drove about an hour, stuck in pumpkin patch traffic, to get there. There was advertised as being games, pumpkin patches, animals, food. There was a rabbit. Who looked horrified. And one large muddy field with some pumpkins, which Lucy was pretty horrified to walk through.

Lucy Says Pumpkin Patches are Overrated

Lucy Says Pumpkin Patches are Overrated

Lila enjoyed exploring, but I feel like we could have had the same type of experience by letting them run around the dog park, going to a playground and then picking up pumpkins at the grocery. Pumpkins are cool, pumpkin patches? Not so much.

Pumpkins are Cooler than Pumpkin Patches

Pumpkins are Cool

Enter the Plague

Our house has been a house of plague this past week. It’s had an odd run, managing to slow roll through the whole house and stretch out for more than a week.

It all started last Saturday when we went to the Seattle Children’s Museum for a birthday party. We’d never been and the girls were having a fantastic time exploring, pretending to shop, climbing stairs, being firemen. Lucy started to get a little fussy and wanted to be held. I tried to get her interested again, but it was clear she wasn’t feel well. Soon she felt feverish. We decided to go say happy birthday in the party room, try to get some food in Lucy and then head out a bit early. Lucy was uninterested in food. As the cake was bring brought to the birthday girl, Lucy began to cry for me, so I picked her up onto my lap. As the candle was placed in front of Josie to make a wish, Lucy vomited all over me. So happy birthday from us, Josie.

Lucy and I hung out the next day while A and Lila hit the beach with friends, ensuring her fever (that rose really high over night) came down. She seemed to feel better so we went to a splash park in the afternoon. All was well.

Enter Monday. Lila heads to school super happy that it is water day at school. The kids played in the sprinklers outside and had a blast. I stayed late at work that night, having a meeting after work. A was going to pick up the girls. So of course, at 5:15 when I am still at work and without a car, I get a call from day care that Lila has vomited everywhere. An impatient ride in an Uber and I met A at day care where a sad, very feverish little girl was. She woke up with a 104 fever in the middle of the night, and spent the rest of the night in our bed. I worked from home the next day, hoping Angelina Ballerina had healing powers. It seemed to, Lila returned to day care on Wednesday.

But then Thursday, A texted me from work at 2pm to let me know he had the chills and was lightheaded. High fever for him and a long night of discomfort. He worked from home Friday, waiting for his fever to go down. By Friday around 1pm, I was miserable. My body hurt, my throat hurt and I wanted to sleep. Home to bed I went.

Sadly, the version of the plague that A and I have contracted seems to be sticking around a little longer. No more fever, but we don’t feel great. Neither is sleeping well and my throat and ears are super painful. Even my sure-fire illness cure of egg drop soup and chicken and broccoli did not heal me last night. I’m drinking hot throat coat tea, despite the 90 degree temps outside.

Its been over a week and I really hope this icky summer illness clears out soon. It is never fun to be sick, but missing anytime in this amazing Seattle summer is really unfair. We missed a picnic yesterday and Lucy and I missed a beach day. Here’s hoping some sun and rest this weekend will rid of us of all these germs.