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.

Thanksgiving Preparations (or Lack Thereof)

I am aware that Thanksgiving in the time of the Pilgrims was probably pretty difficult. I mean, finding and killing a turkey. Growing everything you were going to eat. Staying alive until the holiday. You know, stuff. But there are things that we have to deal with that they did not. Namely, Pinterest.

 

 

 

 

 

Pinterest can be great – recipes, crafts to do with the kids, attractive wreaths for the front door. Look at this stuff:

Baby Rabies Thom Turkey Wreath

Pounds 4 Pennies Family Thanksgiving Crafts

 

Averie Cooks Caramel Apple Crumble Pie

These all look awesome. Each post promises that the craft or recipe is easy. But here’s the catch. I’m not crafty. I’m not a great cook or baker. Remember these? 

For example, I had this great picture in my head this weekend that I would bake with the girls. All of the baking mixes I had (so yeah, I’m using baking mixes to start) were expired. Like 3 years past the expiration date expired. Then I thought we’d make chocolate chip cookies from scratch. We have no flour. Ok. A suggests using the pancake/baking mix – which yes, has a chocolate chip cookie recipe. Yada yada yada, I burn the cookies. Badly. You can see how fancy meals or handmade pie crusts are not really in my repitore.

So Thanksgiving for me is a time of hope – this is the year I will get it together. I will make handprint turkeys with the kids to save for years to come. I will make place cards for every guest, properly gilded in gold. I will have new recipes that seem like I’ve been making them for years. My pies will not burn.

But let’s be honest. My cookies burn. I don’t do crafts. I’ll buy my pumpkin pie at Costco. I’ll make the same tried and true side dishes for Thanksgiving and I’ll let the Dora plates indicate who will be sitting where at dinner.

Earning a Relaxing Veterans Day

Veterans Day is always a funny day for me. The appreciation for those of us who chose to join the military is nice – as is the free cupcakes and coffee. The overabundance of commercialization of the day bothers me some – camouflage on every football uniform and other feel good actions. The day makes me humble as well; while I am a veteran, I didn’t deploy, served a short period of time and didn’t do anything spectacular to earn the title.

But my favorite thing about Veterans Day is that I am the only one who has it off. I mean, the postman has it off too, but A works, day care is open and I have it off. The past two years I have protected this day, not filled it with must dos or errands. A day to enjoy my coffee while it is still warm. To shop without toddlers and yes, eat cupcakes.

Today I enjoyed my Veterans Day bagel, followed by my Veterans Day coffee, while catching up on all those emails that I’ve been snoozing for a week. Then I had a massage. Now, I’m not complaining, but this was the most intense massage I’ve ever had. Things clicked – is your back supposed to click? I am so sore after this massage that I’ve taken two hot showers and am sitting with a heating pad on my back. A massage is a lovely thing, this one was just perhaps a little too much of a lovely thing.

Veterans Day always come at a time when I really need it. In the middle of the hectic fall, before the (official) start of the holiday season. Overall, Veterans Day 2014 was a success, relaxing and helped prepare me for the coming weeks – but already leaves me dreaming about Veterans Day 2015.

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

Raising Kids in a PC World

Raising Children in a Politically Correct WorldThis past Monday was a holiday in parts of the country, but there was no three day weekend here in Seattle. Not only is Columbus Day not a holiday here, but as of October 6, it isn’t even Columbus Day anymore. Seattle (and Minneapolis) now celebrates Indigenous People Day.  The change in name is an attempt to shift the holiday’s focus from Christopher Columbus to the people he encountered in the New World and their modern-day descendants.

Now I get it. I know Christopher Columbus wasn’t the nicest guy. And I realize that there were already people living in the Americas when he “discovered” it, so I have no problem celebrating/honoring the indigenous people. But growing up we learned about Columbus and the ocean blue, his three ships and all. So what do we tell our kids? What do you teach them and when do you allow political correctness to rule the day?

This question of course doesn’t just apply to the Nina, the Pinta and the Santa Maria. There are many things we grew up being taught that are no longer considered “PC.” How much do you try to teach your children political correctness and when is it too reactionary?

Of course, the definition of politically correct is in the eye of the beholder. Some may see the acceptance of same sex marriage as a politically correct change, while I see it as a welcome change to extend a basic right to all. (And Lila thinks having a family with two moms would be really great.) Others see one of our favorite team names as offensive and in need of a change.

We aim to make our children into kind, caring and informed people. And even though we celebrated Columbus Day as a child, A and I turned out ok.  I suppose there will always be changes in public opinion and teaching, and we just need to do our best to teach our children what we think is right.

Celebrating Seattle Style

As you may have heard, Tuesday was A’s birthday. Being an excellent father, husband and generally good guy, he deserved a pretty exciting birthday celebration, so I worked hard to try to make it a celebration worthy of him.

I aimed to combine things I knew he loved – his daughters, beer and pizza. While we really love PNW beer, we’ve never really had a chance to explore some of the great breweries in Seattle, so I thought I’d try to plan a “tour” of kinds for A’s birthday. I targeted the southern area of the city for our tour, and of course had to make sure all our stops were family friendly. Here’s what our tour looked like:

 

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Our first stop was Machine House Brewery. Beer wise it was our least favorite – cask ale, not our first choice for drinks. Location wise it was in the middle of Georgetown, great old warehouse location. They show only English Premier League games (some on Tivo). Family friendly and even had toys, games and a kids’ corner.

A bonus stop on our tour was across the alley from Machine House, the Fran’s chocolate factory. The kids were able to watch them making the delicious chocolates and everyone agreed that children as adorable as ours were in need of chocolate samples. Lila ate all of them, Lucy just liked holding them in her hand.

Next on the tour was Georgetown Brewing. Lucille IPA is one of our favorite beers, both in flavor and name. We were excited to stop by the brewery. Sadly we arrived just before their 4pm last call. We each had one sample of beer (I highly recommend the Johnny Utah) and then moved on. We hope to go back at some point to enjoy some more beer and maybe pick up Lucille tee shirt.

I mention this next one because I really like the beer and the location was adorable with a beer garden, but it ended up being 21 and over, so we were unable to enjoy the atmosphere. Two Beers has a nice IPA and is partnered with the Seattle Cider Co. If you are doing a tour without children, I’d recommend stopping by here.

Last stop was Seapine Brewing. This place was fantastic! The staff was super friendly – even bought A his first pint for his birthday. The location has a front porch, open air room and amazing workmanship. The bartender, who also brews the beer, showed us how the planks in the wall were from his parents’ old barn on Bainbridge Island. The beer was really tasty, and you can buy a half pint, which is great for the designated driver on the tour. The kids had a lot of fun (though I did pull out all the snacks on this stop, which helped a great deal). And of course, the biggest hit of the tour was Jenga!

Family Friendly South Seattle Brewery Tour

 

 

We ended the tour in our own neighborhood at our favorite pizza joint, Flying Squirrel Pizza (or “the squirrel restaurant” as Lila calls it).

IPA, chocolate, soccer, pepperoni and cupcakes? Seems like a pretty excellent birthday to me.

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Happy, happy birthday Andrew. We love you and we hope you enjoyed your birthday weekend – even if it could have used a little more natitude.

 

Nailed It

A’s birthday is on Tuesday, but we did some early celebrating this weekend. While I’d be happiest buying some delicious Trophy Cupcakes, I know that Lila really enjoys helping to bake and decorate, especially for birthdays. I went to the store to grab some cake and frosting and had the bright idea that making ice cream cone cupcakes would be fun. Easy for the girls to eat, super cute to look at. Yes, I am crafty and handy in the kitchen, this is a brilliant idea.

 

Nailed it. 

 

I am not crafty.

I am not crafty.

Keeping Up Appearances

I think we can all agree that at this point I am a) barely a blogger and b) never going to be able to catch up on everything that’s happened in the past (gulp) two months. So let’s hit some highlights and just go from there.

1. We went to the Oregon coast for the 4th of July. It was delightful and I can’t wait to go back. Beautiful (giant) beaches, cute little seaside towns that are family/dog friendly. We went with another family – Lila’s best friend from day care. Four kids ages 3.5 to 6 months was hectic, but we had a great time and just laughed off the temper tantrums. There were fireworks, cheese, ice cream and s’mores. Definitely the best 4th of July we’ve spent on the West Coast. I often get homesick on the 4th, never really able to find a celebration that feels like those we were used to back in the East and this trip really helped to show what the 4th on the left coast could be.

Say Cheese!

 

 

2.  We went to New England for a week with all the grandparents. We rented a beach house and it was great. It was after the 4th, so the girls knew how much they loved the beach. Unfortunately we didn’t have the best beach weather, but we had a lot of fun, including visiting the aquarium twice. It is always nice to have the girls together with their grandparents so they can see what little people they are. As Lila continues to grow and be crazy fun, Lucy is now really entering “person-hood” with her own GIANT personality and this trip was probably the first time that the grandparents were able to experience it. As always, the cross country trip took a lot out of all of us, but it definitely cemented Lila’s new identity as beach babe.

beach babes

 

3.  Re-entry. Since being back, A and I have been adjusting to having no vacation to look forward to anymore (sad face) and lots of stress at work. Add to that some day care drama and the daily challenge of a 3 year old and a 19 month old, and we’re just happy to make it to bedtime every night.

4.  Seattle summer. This summer has been out of control. Warm, sunny, no rain. AMAZING. If only work didn’t get in the way of enjoying so many of the days, but we’ve been trying to make the most of it. After work trips to the splash park or impromptu picnics – all which lead to later bedtimes – are to be expected when it is 80 degrees and delightful outside. We’ve even been to the Seattle beach – a first for us, even though  this is our fifth summer here.

So much of what we have to talk about is just the daily running of a household with two kids, two pets, two careers. Work hard, play hard, never enough sleep. You know, the usual. We finished Veronica Mars (with the movie saved for tomorrow’s stay at home date night) and I read a book in the month of July. (That’s an exaggeration. I finished a book in July. I had been reading it for like 4 months.) I still go to Zumba. A still loves to eat Fruity Os. Cal is still a beagle. Oh, we watch a lot of Love It or List It, Too.

What have you been up to?

 

 

 

Things I Learned in Canada

To celebrate Lucy’s birthday (and Boxing Day of course) we headed to Vancouver for a few days. It was the girls’ first international trip and we avoided any major incident. Here’s a recap of things I learned in our time away.

1. If the border wait time is listed as 5 min, it will take at least 30. If the border wait time is listed as 45 minutes, get comfy.

2. Canadians are friendly. Like super friendly. We went to dinner at a relatively hip location and worried the owner was trying to convince us not to stay. I think we were just caught off guard by his concern. He sent appetizers and drinks out to us on the (cold) patio as we waited for seats. The front desk staff of the hotel sang happy birthday to Lucy as we headed out for the day and a random passerby on the street helped us find the cupcake shop so we could properly celebrate.

3. Baby belugas, despite what the song says, do not in fact swim wild and free. At least not at the Vancouver Aquarium.

4. The Vancouver Aquarium is a lovely place. Unless you want to use the bathroom with a toddler or change an infant’s diaper. Which is odd because of the make up of their guests.  IMG_00745

5. Vancouver has really great food. And Vancouver-ites like to eat this food very early. We arrived at our restaurant choices at 5pm each evening and encountered at least a 30 minute wait. Worth it at both places. (For the record, Vij’s – get the lamb popsicles- and Anton’s -get the olive bruschetta. Go, enjoy.)

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6. We may be old and married with two kids, but we can still manage to negotiate a new city by bus, even without being able to depend on our phones to look everything up. We hiked through Stanley Park and still found the bus stop, made it back to the hotel and then navigated our way to the restaurant. (All with a baby on my back)

7. No matter how awesome an itinerary of a trip may be, nothing will compare to the hotel in a child’s eyes. Lila returned to day care on Monday and shared with everyone that she went to Canada, stayed at a hotel and slept in a big bed.

 

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8. Olympic stuff is cool.

9. Tim Horton’s is overrated. And if you try to order donut holes, they will look at you strangely. Because apparently they call them Tim Bits. Which is weird.

10. A one year old will watch jellyfish for hours. And maybe try to eat them.

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