Thursday, December 24, 2009

christmas season 2009

My favorite memories this year....
  • Saben's incessant, yet trusting questions about Santa, our elf Mary, and his love for Rudolph
  • Both kids getting attached to Christmas songs - Annika loves Jingle Bells and The Little Drummer Boy (aka rum pa dum dum) and Saben loves Rudolph. In the car, it was an eternal war over which songs we would listen too first.
  • Saben being an Angel in his school Christmas pageant. (his first christmas program ever!) He was the only boy angel, but he picked it out himself and didn't seem to mind. (I reminded him that all the angels the bible mentions were male)
  • Annika deciding to quit sleeping one week before Christmas. We do have that solved now, I am happy to report. It took some "tough love" but it worked! She now stays in bed and goes to sleep in just 10-20 minutes. (and it only took 3 days once we had a plan/strategy) As soon as we used our plan, she quit waking at night too. Unfortunately we let her drop her nap, which has been tough on mommy and is starting to show in her too.
  • Annika getting completely giddy off of Puppy Chow that we ate right before the Christmas eve service. She didn't hold still for more than 5 seconds for the entire thing and we were sitting right at the front edge of a balcony so I just sat making sure she didn't drop chapstick or her candle on the people below us. Or start screaming. If the service was an 8 on a ten point scale of insanity, dinner was a 9....but we got her asleep before she hit 10. Hurray!
  • A new car. We finally replaced our aging (not currently running) Honda yesterday, with a 2001 Mercedes E55 AMG. (after a two hour drive to Everett and back with the kids. Blech.) It is speedy. I drove it this morning for the first time and then Kyle spent most of our Christmas Eve "Look at Christmas Lights Drive" burning out at all the stop signs. "Look at those pretty lights kids!! Is that a Santa statue?!" "SCREEEEEEEEEEEECHHHH" (neighbors shudder at the psycho driving outside)

Lots more I'm sure I'm forgetting, but goodnight and Merry Christmas!!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Saben: "Daddy, what would you wish for if you were at a wishing well?"
Kyle: "Probably world peace or and end to poverty"
Saben: "But what about legos?"

Friday, December 18, 2009

sleep drama

Annika has always been such an odd sleeper. The first three months of her life were hard, she would fall asleep, go into her crib and then wake up about 3-5 minutes after I left. Over and over and over. 2-3 hours worth some nights.

Then suddenly she started sleeping perfect and became the easiest child ever to get to sleep. I would lay her down in the crib awake and she'd just doze off, all on her own.
She had her set backs here & there, but we even transitioned her effortlessly to a bed.

The last few months since her & saben moved to their new bedroom, she's been sort of weird. You know, the whole bee thing. And she's always wanted very specific things in bed with her. I always sort of knew that if we didn't give them to her, she'd probably stay awake fighting us on it until midnight. But as long as you followed her special routine, she'd eventually settle in and go to sleep.

Week by week lately, things have gotten a bit trickier. More crying, a bit more screaming, more threats, discipline, etc. She'd stay in bed crying and when I went back in she'd ask for one last thing and then go to sleep. A few times she ran out of bed, we disciplined her and then she would stay in bed.

Then on Tuesday, nothing worked. As soon as we left the room she jumped out of bed screaming and crying and running to the door. Over and over and over. That night we used force because it was so new...holding her down in bed, putting her back in, holding the door shut so she couldn't escape the room. It was horrible. Then at 2am it happened all over again and I was awake for 2.5 hours. She finally fell asleep in the pack & play in our living room.

Wednesday, I took the "day off" to spend LOTS of time with her, gave her lots of choices all day and was very intentional about everything we did. At bedtime I would say "can I leave and come back to check on you in 2 minutes?" and it worked pretty well. She generally fell asleep in 10-15 minutes of that. She was up at 2am again, but only for 10 minutes or so.

Last night, it quit working. She would agree to us leaving and then freak out as soon as we were out of sight. (jump out of bed, run for the door, crying) She wanted to sleep in the pack & play again, so we moved it to the bedroom. We left her in there for 20 minutes at a time and she would be tossing & turning and never fell asleep. Eventually she'd start crying and we'd have to go back in. Finally at 9:45 I sat on the floor next to her for about 15 minutes and she fell asleep.

4am - awake again, had to sit on the floor until she fell asleep and did this twice because she woke up when I left the first time. Before this all started, she would wake up in the middle of the night maybe twice a week. Usually when she didn't eat enough dinner and would be starving at 4am. Six months ago, she NEVER woke up in the middle of the night.

So. Tonight. No sugar today, no nap, lots of exercise. We are moving her bed to the other room so she doesn't disturb Saben anymore. We will play classical music. I am not sure if I will sit in her room again, or try just putting her back in bed 100 times.

It is just so weird, it feels like she is suddenly slightly deranged. I mean, she sort of did these things before, but never, ever to this level. It was so sudden. We had lots of babysitters this weekend too, so I keep wondering if it is some sort of separation thing? Or too much Christmas sugar? It seems worse on days she has had candy in the late afternoon.

I am worried enough that I felt like I had to document what's been going on. I know some of you have kids that never fall asleep easy, but like I said - this is so sudden & new, except that her sleep has been getting steadily worse for about 3-4 months now. And I hoped writing it out might give me some new insight as I analyzed what's happened the last three nights.

My mom suggested the classical music and I'm excited because I think that might comfort her. It seems like a "comfort" thing more than a power play - yes, she is being VERY stubborn, but I think its out of genuine fear, not just wanting power. Everytime she wakes up (after a nap, in the morning or at 4am) she jumps up crying and runs for the door. She used to do that lazy stretching wake up, now its like she wakes up scared.

If you think of us at 8pm tonite, say a little prayer and if you have suggestions, we are all ears!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Are you ready for this?

I am pretty sure we could win awards with this photo. It is just too perfect. (be sure to click & enlarge)

Oh the drama. I knew neither kid wanted to sit on Santa's lap this year, Saben kept saying he didn't want to and Annika said "santa yucky" even though she adores his picture in books. But I figured we might as well try anyways so we could have the obligatory picture.

This is what we ended up with. Annika was terrified, quivering in my arms crying and Saben was trying to run away while Kyle held his arm. Both kids were definitely feeding off of eachother's fears. It was embarassing and ridiculous, but they did calm down enough to take this picture where no one is actually holding them down. Candy cane bribery was our savior.

It was only later that I took a close look at the picture and thought to myself "hmm...that Santa does look sort of creepy." And I couldn't put my finger on why....until I later noticed the white furry thing winding down his arm. It's a HIPPY SANTA! No wonder! Only in Bellingham.....

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Unravelling life's mysteries

I had an epiphany the other day as we drove to get our Christmas tree. I finally understood a mystery I have been contemplating for about fifteen years now. Let me explain.

One night when I was just out of college, a huge group of us were sleeping in a small mountain cabin in Austria. Boys on one side, girls on the other, so we could hear them. The entire trip, the guys had been reveling us with details of their late night shenanigans. Extraordinary accomplishments in the art of blue flames, an exemplary extra loud fart, feces in the toilet that were particularly fascinating.

The night we were all together, the guys just could not stop farting and laughing. It seemed to go on for hours and they laughed harder and harder.

**Warning: Graphic potty humor abounds below. And some huge sex stereotyping. Stop now if that last paragraph grossed you out.**

I remember lying there thinking to myself "Its not that its gross or anything. It just really isn't that funny. I have absolutely no idea why they are laughing so hard. NO IDEA." It has haunted me ever since then - why do guys think "potty humor" is so hilarious? What gives the toot its comedy power?

As I had babies and became surrounded by poo 24 hours a day, I did find humor in how bizarre it was - potty training Saben was definitely not something I was even remotely prepared for.

I also remember thinking how funny it was that most women/moms are not that grossed out by their baby's poo & toots - but often the dad really struggles with it and grimaces every time they change a diaper. I mean, it is gross, but I feel pretty much over it - its poo, what else is new?

So the mystery deepened - guys think poo & farts are soooo funny and spend their adolescent years taunting us with it, but when it comes down to it, it seems like moms handle the reality of it much better than dads.

Seeing how I don't really find poo & toots funny or all that gross, I figured I'd have no problem at all being one of those moms who just goes along with the kid's potty humor. No stifling giggles, my dream was to be matter of fact & honest about it, laugh sometimes, but no big deal. You know, the cool mom.

Then Kyle taught my sweet innocent 3 year old to call his poo "logs". And to say "take a monster dump". And I'll admit, I cringed. I told him to knock it off. I mean, I'm accepting of it and all, but seriously, does he have to start him in at such a young age? But for some mysterious reason, it stuck and Saben still always uses those phrases....

So we're on our way to get our Christmas tree this year, and Saben and Kyle were singing the song "Jingle Poop". (Jingle bells with poop instead of bells) I don't even remember which one of them started it, but I cringed again and told Kyle to knock it off. Its CHRISTMAS and we're getting our CHRISTMAS TREE. Please stop singing about POOP!

And guess what. They laughed harder. And harder. Every time I made the slightest response, it got funnier and funnier. And suddenly it hit me, the only thing funny about poop for boys is that from the very first potty joke they remember, mom has told them knock it off. It is pure rebellion, and its hilarious to watch mom get mad.

Potty humor has no comedy on its own, or at least a very limited amount. But throw in someone (most likely a woman) getting angry, embarrassed or fed up, and suddenly it is very funny indeed. And its not that women are grossed out by potty humor, its just so STUPID that they often don't see the humor in it. Because the humor is actually themselves & their reaction. Its a vicious cycle, and I am not sure its a war you can win.

Even if you think you are fine and cool about potty humor, your husband and son's main goals in life will be to push the edges of poo comedy as far as they can until they get a rise out of you. Because even if your husband says he wants you to be cool with it, what he really wants is for you to tell him to knock it off. And he will go to any length to get that response. The cooler you are, the more hideous things your husband will teach your son, until you finally break.

So really, you might as well just be mean, and make them stop at the first outbreak. Not sure it will help, but worth a try. Consider yourself warned.

Yes, I know girls laugh about poo too, (I certainly do on occasion) but much more fun to complain about men and pretend its all their fault.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Tree hunt 2009 - not a disaster!

Yes it is true, we actually had a wonderful, fabulous time hunting for our tree this year. I suppose realistically, it was only last year that everything seemed to go wrong (pouring rain, no camera, forgot cash), but it was still a huge relief that we had such a fun time this year. (sparkling sun, remembered camera, brought cash)

For some reason it was a stellar day for photos, both kids were in such good moods & the lighting was photogenic. I had a hard time narrowing it down to just these fifty pictures. ha ha, just kidding. There's only fifteen.

Annika fell down four times and each time she just lay there until someone helped pick her up. It was hilarious because she wouldn't put her hands down in the mud and was so upset about it.

Wow, a good shot with me & the kids! I told you it was a miraculous day. But just wait for it...

That's right TWO good shots. Amazing.

And then Annika's naptime rolled around. Whenever we skip naps, Annika gets super hyper. She insisted on taking her coat off and proceeded to go adorably nutso.

Watching Daddy cut down the tree. She was entranced.

I love this particular tree farm because it is in such a beautiful setting. I have realized these last few years that I am quite picky about my tree farms. (so odd, because I'm never picky about anything usually...) This one is about 80% perfect and we've gone to it twice now.

My adorable son.

The hug picture outtakes are the best, most of them Annika's face is getting all squished up and Saben has his head facing away from the camera. But we did manage to get one good one... Time for some more crazies.

Loading the tree, and really, we had so much fun. Wonderful.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009


Today I cooked my first Turkey. Yes, its a bit late for the holiday festivities, but it was given to us by someone who couldn't use it and needed to be cooked right away. Did I mention it was a 20lb turkey? And that I am the only one in the family who even likes turkey? Kyle will eat it, but no one can make him enjoy it. And the kids might eat a couple ounces at most.

I wasn't even sure why I said I'd take it, but I've always wanted to try cooking one, and hey, I like turkey! I was ready to give it a go, freeze a ton and have turkey every day for months....But I also recently met this woman who lives in and works as a chaplain for some low income housing down the street. So I played all day with the idea of giving her the turkey and even sent her an email.

So I have this gigantic turkey in the oven, but it went in very late because it was so beautiful outside, I couldn't help but let the kids linger at the park. At 6:00 the thing still had an hour to go and we were starving. So we went out and got burritos.

While we were eating the takeout, I finally heard back from the woman I had emailed. The place she lives is housing for the diabled and elderly and since they are often sick or in the hospital, she goes to pray with them. She also helps organize meals, game nights & other outreach things to have people get to know eachother and helps those who are having a hard time supporting themselves.

She was anxious to take my turkey and I was so excited to find a home for my first bird. In 20 minutes, we were shredding it together and it will be used in soups, sandwiches & salads for various ministries to residents in the next few weeks.

I don't think things could have worked out more perfectly today.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Biblical Coloring

Bible verse at the bottom "For man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart." - I Samuel 16:7

I found these at a church we meet at for my moms group...they had a few uncolored ones which I figured they wouldn't mind me taking, but it took all my will -power not to rip down some of the ones that had already been colored from the wall that I couldn't find uncolored copies of. Cause you know...stealing kids artwork would be a little low, even for a good laugh.
"And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus." -Colossians 3:17

My favorite was one with Alladin on a horse with the princess clinging on behind him that said "The Lord is my rock". God is just like Alladin and we are all princesses. Awesome.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Thank You Bellingham

Today I am grateful that the city finally got its stop lights re-calibrated as you drive through downtown. Two weeks ago, they added a new one and suddenly I was hitting every single red light on the way to Saben's Preschool. That made me 3-4 minutes late each day, which is a long time if you are waiting for your mom to pick you up.

We breezed through this morning and I was so happy. It's the little things, you know?

Monday, November 16, 2009


Fall evening at the park

Last week and today, the kids have been devouring the Target christmas toy catalog. My sweet commercialist kids have circled about 50% of the catalog. Saben started out one day during Annika's nap. A bit into it he looks at me and earnestly says "I love Christmas catalogs Mom"

The next day, Annika wanted in on the action, so they sat at the table for 45 minutes (WOW) and he carefully asked her which things she wanted so he could circle them for her.

My favorite moments were when he referred to a toy tool bench and said "Do you want to pretend to be a grown up Annika? This one is for boys, but you can play with it too!" Annika was really easy going and agreed to most things Saben suggested. "Wow Annika, you sure want a lot of things!"

Annika's favorites were the 7 pack of disney princess dolls, a $100 doll house (ouch) and two crawling baby dolls, one of whom she kept calling "Baby Ayda". (guess which race that one was) She actually really wants one that "looks like baby Ayda" so that is pretty sweet.

Saben, first day of preschool, 2009. He was having anxiety about his new class so I made the morning extra special to encourage him, including this crown. He ended up going great.

Saben pretty much only wants legos for Christmas, although he circled quite a few other play sets in the catalog too.
Visit from some longtime friends

This summer, Annika got her own big girl bed. I'm not sure if I wrote about it, but it was the easiest transition ever. She slept in it perfectly the very first night and was so excited to be just like her big brother. He is so good about staying in bed, he modeled it for her really well.

This is their old bedroom and the night we went in to check on them and found them sleeping like this. So funny, Saben was about to fall off the bed & Annika wasn't even in it. It was the heat of summer which is why Saben has no pajamas on.

In September (or late August?), they finally moved into their new bedroom downstairs & we bought this awesome bunk bed from IKEA. They love their new bed & bedroom, but the playroom nextdoor gets almost no use because they always want to be upstairs with me. Sigh.

The whole point of the bed story is how much I love the way Annika wakes up. Saben has always just jumped out of bed and been wide awake in the morning. Annika lately has gotten so cute and lazy. She opens her eyes, rolls over, tries to sleep some more, stretches and just generally doesn't want to get out of bed. She looks just like a mini adult, savoring just a couple more minutes. It is adorable.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Grateful, day three

I am so grateful for my sweet, funny, hardworking husband. Each year he amazes me more and more. I love watching him with the kids, hearing about his work and just cozying up on the couch with a good (or really bad) movie. I am so proud of him and he is the perfect partner for me.

I love you Kyle!

ps. for the record...there is a picture of Kyle with his neck fur on that he chose to put on the Transition blog, so i'm not betraying him all all. In fact, I think it will be on their buisness cards next year. sigh.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Grateful #2 (aka, kari's confessions, part 2)

Many women love a great romance novel. Generally, (Twilight excluded) I find them boring, but I admit I haven't read a ton of them. I figured since we are all airing our guilty pleasures this month (or is that just me?), disguised as "things we are grateful for", I would introduce you to my very favorite type of reading. I gobble up these books whenever I need something light, and especially read a ton of them when I was nursing Annika. I am grateful for: Cooking AND/OR Living Abroad Memoirs.

Just for kicks, in case you need something new to read and just happen to be obsessed with food like me...I think that excluded most of my readers. But plunging ahead, I am going to give you a brief synopsis of my favorite ones - at least the most memorable ones, because really, this list is just the ones I remember liking after only thinking about it for ten minutes.

The title above is one of my favorite books of all times, filled with the nerdiest possible details about food all around the world. Wonder what the difference is between wet & dry aged beef? I can tell you, thanks to this book. Ever wanted to know how blood sausage is made? What exactly goes into Pot de feu? Enjoy hearing about the fascinating world of Japanese haute cuisine? Then read Jeffrey Steingarten's book. (click on images for amazon links) Oh, and he's even funny too.

Each chapter is a story in and of itself - in fact I think they were all articles written for Vogue magazine. So its perfect for those with short attention spans.
Man goes to work for Mario Batali, lots of hot stoves, steep learning curve, learns to cook with his nose. He can actually smell when a piece of meat is done. Love it. Then he goes to apprentice with a master butcher in Tuscany. Pretty fascinating, although sort of a weird thing to do just so you can write a book about it. My favorite part was learning that Batali can drink like 6 bottles of wine in an evening and stay on his feet. Amazing.

The life of a restaurant critic in Manhattan and all the amusing stories that go with the job, especially when she starts disguising herself to go places so that they don't know she's a critic.

Oh I loved this book. Two women from Great Britain somehow (I forget how) end up buying this cute little stone house with an olive farm on the Italian Riveria. The town they are in is not touristy and it is such a romantic notion, you can't help falling in love with them. Simple life, lots of hard work, and very interesting insight into the culture they moved into.

They constantly offend the old farmers or break traditional rules/customs - even living in this house is a breach, since they aren't usually a residence for Italians, just a place to stay while they do some farm work. Who would want to live out in the middle of nowhere instead of in town? So antisocial! So dangerous! The culture communications was my favorite part. Unique because the women are pretty young & flippant instead of adoring like the next book....

American cookbook author buys a dilapidated but AMAZING house in a french village & fixes it up, learns to deal with the culture & makes friends. There are so many of this genre, but this one is probably my favorite (it, and the tuscan one below). I think this one had recipes in it or maybe she just described this lunch that I made for dinner several times: an omelet, with an apple, blue cheese & walnut salad on the side. Yum.
I am reading this one right now and love, love, love it. It inspired this post actually. Last time (the first time) Kyle went to China, he brought me back a small package of Sichuan Pepper that his agent's wife had given him. They are little crunchy seed pod things, but when you bite them, this menthol-y incense-y flavor fills your mouth. And your lips tingle and go numb.

So I went to the library to find a Sichuan cookbook and came back with Fuchsia Dunlop's "Land of Plenty: A Treasury of Authentic Sichuan Cooking" It was marvelous and I made a couple things from it, but when I saw she had a memoir, I knew I had to read it.

Mostly, I love how she explains chinese culinary aspects. Why there are 30 different words for the shape you could cut a cucumber into. (sliver, slice, half moon, thumbnail, wedge, triangle...on and on) How she went from generally avoiding offal to eating rabbit heads as a snack on the way home from a night of drinking. Why goose intestines, chicken feet, eyeballs, abalone, goose tongue and rabbit heads are actually worth eating. (all these are things eaten almost entirely for the enjoyment of their texture)

The book does get a teeny bit slow as she talks about herself to much, sometimes I wish she'd just stick to the food explanations. But maybe that's just because they are so interesting.
After marrying a Venetian, and American woman and her husband move to a small town in tuscany and she befriends one of the older more traditional men in the village who teaches her all the ultra traditional & rustic food methods of that area. Amazing to hear what they used to eat, why they eat it, why they liked it and what it was like living in Tuscany through two world wars. Fascinating glimpse into an Italian village food culture & history.
What list wouldn't be complete without this classic? Discover France through the eyes of Julia Child. I remember loving it, but I'm tired, my memory is growing frail, so I will just suggest you read it.

There, SEE! I can write about things other than my kids!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


Today, I would like to express gratefulness for my Addiction Sweater.

If you've spent anytime with me lately, you might have thought to yourself "hmmm....kari sure looks....the same?"

Yes. Yes I do.
Every morning, I wake up and think about what to wear. The first bit is easy..pants, shirt, blah blah blah. But I'm still a little cold. Sitting in a heap where I dropped it the night before, I spy my Addiction Sweater.

"I know, I'll just wear it a few minutes till I warm up and then take it off before I go anywhere"

Because, you know...I wore it all day yesterday. And the day before that. And...well I have to admit I've worn it almost every day for the 2 months I've had it. I just can't stop. It beckons me each morning with promises of coziness and it's even fairly cute.

The sweater at the top of this post is not actually my Addiction Sweater. But it is similar, black & super long, long enough to feel like you are wrapped up in a cozy blanket all day. I did buy it at Old Navy and had a similar one (ok, exact same one, just brown) that I borrowed for maternity wear and fell in love with years ago. I loved it so much, I wore it for months after Annika was born. Months. There's not many maternity clothes you have that hard of time saying goodbye to. I think it must appear each fall and I feel so blessed to have spotted it on the rack this year.

It's just dressy enough that I don't look slobby. I tried to break my addiction with an American Apparel hoodie to switch back & forth with, but that one is definitely sporty, a crazy 80's forest green and has to be matched just right so it looks trendy instead of slobby. But my Addiction Sweater looks good with anything. It can even dress up sweatpants to a reasonable level. It's never too hot, never to cold.

The most embarassing thing is that I do this each year. No matter how many sweaters or sweatshirts I own, I always fall in love with one that I really want to wear over and over. You may remember such classics as the "gray sweatshirt with pastel trees". I may have even worn that one for two winters. But its time is now past.

I love my new Addiction Sweater and I am so grateful I found it.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Annika loves....

Annika loves...

  • Sleeping with toys in her bed
  • bringing her umbrella with us everywhere she goes
  • picking out what coat to wear when we go out
  • princesses
  • Bananas, yogurt, cornbread, cheeses (cheddar, parmesan, feta...), beans & crackers
  • watching super-why & blues clues on tv
  • riding on Saben's old glider bike, especially when we push it for her, but does it herself too
  • harrassing her brother for attention
  • playing any sort of game with saben & copying what he does (she calls him "sah-bah")
  • jumping off the couch arm onto a pile of cushions
  • balloons
  • reading her princess book
  • drawing circles, especially with markers
  • getting out lots and lots of paper to draw on, a few marks on each piece
  • stickers
  • being tickled
  • playing hide and go seek
  • making us do what she wants us to do
  • sliding and swinging
  • splashing in mud puddles
  • "playing" hi-ho cherrio
  • her daddy
  • sitting next to us during story time, rather than cuddled in our lap
  • sitting in our laps most other times
  • singing twinkle twinkle little store and demanding us to sing certain songs (and not sing others)

Things that scare Annika...

  • When we let go of balloons and they fly around the house
  • WIND. Its November and she is still clinging, crying and even screaming whenever it is gusty outside.
  • bugs, especially bees
  • men, except for ones she knows very well.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Disney on Ice

Have you ever seen hundreds and hundreds of miniature princesses all in one place? Fancy dresses, plastic crystal high heels, sparkling earrings? And oh the crowns....the magic wands, the glitter... Welcome to Disney on Ice and the hip crowd who goes to watch it.

The beauty of little eyes & faces beaming with joy as their wildest dreams were fulfilled by a waving cinderella almost made me forget that princess worship disturbs me and that a beautiful gown wearing woman waiting for a man to fall in love her is not really my ideal role model for my daughter...I digress. But I do sometimes wish my dreams were that simple - to see a princess in person while wearing a shiny dress. If that was all it took for complete happiness, life would be so easy.

Caught up in the magical spirit, I even shelled out $31 for cotton candy, a snow cone and a box of popcorn. (Yes, the snow cone came in a "keepsake" water bottle and the cotton candy came with a foam hat. Still a complete rip-off.)

When the huge plastic Mater drove out onto the ice and Saben gasped with a HUGE grin on his face - It's MATER! It's LIGHTNING! (from the boy who is constantly asking whether things are real or pretend); when Annika just stared and stared at the waving Cinderella; when she danced down the street on our way there singing "See the Princess!"; how can a mom not enjoy every minute of that?

It did get a bit nasty in the end - Annika wiggling erratically on my lap in a cotton candy induced haze, Fairies who seemed to ice skate for ever and ever to songs we'd never heard before. And the parents who must have spent at least $60 in food & toys and made me look incredibly stingy with only $30 worth of snacks. It went way past bedtime, so no surprises that things got a bit crazy when I denied Annika her twirling light-up magic wand, but by 10pm we were home safe, sound and fast asleep.

ps. Thanks for taking us mom!

Thursday, November 05, 2009

"Swine Flu" mushroom hunt, Oct 2009

November seems to be the hot month for renewing vows with your blog. I love band wagons, so here I am, making promises...I will try to post a tid bit every day in November except for the first 5 days and maybe some other ones if I'm too lazy. I will express some gratitude occaisionally, post pictures from our wonderful summer that I missed blogging about, and attempt to capture the hilarious complex overwhelming personalities of my offspring. All while balancing annika climbing around on my lap and pulling/leaning on my arms whining while I type. (which is far easier than writing anything slightly sane and not-humiliating-in-the-morning after 8pm at night)

A couple recent weeks were practically consumed by the swine flu. No, we did not get it, but in a matter of days, it suddenly seemed like everyone we knew had it. Since giving up television, NPR, news and any other form of mental stimulation after having children (ie. too lazy to read anything super serious and having panic attacks everytime I hear another horrific story about children dying/being abused) I felt really out of the loop about the flu.

Everyone at Kyle's work ended up getting swine flu except for him. I like to credit all the garlic we grow & eat, or maybe its just his sparkling personality that drives away germs. Unfortunately we did not yet know about his super swine flu fighting powers and because he had been exposed, we spent a week in self imposed quarantine, just waiting to fall ill. Not fun I tell you. But we did get out one day and hiked on trails where we knew chanterelles lurk. 3lbs of chanterelles later, we headed home with happy grins and ate most of them that night, sauteed in butter. Yum.

Annika in her chosen mushroom hunting outfit. Not one, but two pink shawls. (the knitted one was mine as a child, grandma young made the fleece one)

About 5 days after exposure, the kids got immunized and I have been stress free ever since. I read all the pandemic notices from the preschool and just laugh. Ha ha ha! I am free from their panic inducing power! Even though it takes ten days to become immune and they need a booster in 3 weeks to be 100% immune. But who wants boring details like that stressing you out? Not me.

Note: If your blog is missing from my list, it is because my whole list got erased when I switched to the charming mouse & dolphin blog template and I didn't have a back up list anywhere and last time I worked on finishing the list my computer crashed and didn't save it so now I am procrastinating doing it again. And who are we kidding, I had a breast cancer awareness motif up for an entire year, it could be decades before I finish the list. So trust me, it's not you, it's me.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Friday, October 30, 2009

Bee update

So apparently our bees reside in the changing table. A couple days after writing the last post, I randomly had the idea of covering up the area where Annika swore she saw bees with a towel and voila - no more bee fears. Granted, every night (or nap) she now says "Cover it! Towel on the bee!" but once I put the towel in just the right spot, she quiets down & goes to sleep. I wonder how long she'll insist on me covering up the bees....

For Annika, bossing around her parents must trigger sleep. Sort of like a bedtime story?

Friday, October 23, 2009

Annika's Bee

So about a week ago, Annika wakes up at 2am and starts screaming about a bee. We run downstairs and calm her crying, but she keeps insisting there is a bee and says it over and over. Finally she asks for her sunglasses (which she has not worn for 3 months at least) and when we put them on her, she calms down and goes back to sleep.

Every single nap or bedtime since then, right when its time for her to go to bed, she starts crying and saying there is a bee. Over and over and right now she is punctuating it with screams from her bed. Naptimes are easier, I just say "there's no bee" about 20 times and then leave her in there. She only cries 3-5 minutes. At night she'll cry for 15 minutes or more sometimes.

We've asked her where it is, many many times. Usually its by her door somewhere, but tonite she pointed at the top of her dresser, where there was quite clearly no bee, and said over and over "Bee!" "Bee!" "Right there!", crying and distraught. We've faked killing the bee, we've tried to reason with her, looked everywhere for it, all to no avail.

It is so frustrating and I wish I understood what was going on in her little brain. All I can figure out is that she doesn't want to go to bed and pins her emotions on the imaginary bee so that she can express herself. It seems like the bee is the worst on days I know she had a long late nap and might not be too tired.

We were having sleep issues before this happened too, she used to be the easiest child to get into bed. From about 7 mos - 2 years we just laid her down and she went to sleep as long as she had a teddy bear or some toy she had picked out. Ever since she's turned two, she's gotten super picky and has a list of about 10-15 things she wants before she can go to sleep. We've gotten tough lately and made her pick just 2 things, and kyle has gone in to discipline her when she gets out of bed crying. Then, just when we thought we were making progress....the imaginary bee appears.


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

My New Job

In September, I accepted a part time job being the volunteer coordinator for a small, growing, non-profit called Giving Anonymously. ( I call it a job, but the entire non-profit is run by unpaid volunteers – so I am not hiring childcare and will be doing most of my work in the afternoons during naptime & “quiet time” and in the evenings. The beauty of it is that I can do almost everything from home during very flexible hours. Ideal for a stay at home mom!

Giving Anonymously (GA) is an organization that facilitates people giving each other anonymous gifts. You see a friend in need or a family member who is struggling and you can give them a financial gift with complete anonymity through the organization. Just go to the website, enter your credit card & the person you want to give to and GA takes care of the rest. A volunteer (maybe me!) contacts your recipient through email or phone and once they have confirmed their address we mail them a check with our name on it so they don’t know who the gift is from. If they want, they can call and leave a thank you message and we will forward it to the gift-giver as a voice file email. That’s it!

Friends of mine started Giving Anonymously in 2007 and the husband was managing the entire thing by himself in the evenings AFTER working his fulltime job, going to grad school for his MBA and managing his consulting company on the side. This summer, the NY Times found the website and did an article about it. NPR read the story and did an interview with him a few weeks later, and by August, NBC national news was sending out a film crew for interviews. NBC did two stories weeks apart and by then everything exploded and he was suddenly swamped with anonymous gifts, way beyond his capacity to handle alone. That’s where I came in….

Before I had kids, I spent my entire career working with non-profits. I loved it and managed to land my dream job at World Vision exactly 9 months before giving birth to Saben. Making the decision to stay home with him was so hard for me because I loved that job! When I heard Giving Anonymously needed help desperately I thought there was no way I could fit it in…but my heart yearned to help them and I felt absolutely giddy about working for such an amazing non-profit, using skills that had been inactive for years. So I offered a few hours and loved it so much….I got to call people and let them know we had money for them! It was a blast and next thing you know, I had become “volunteer coordinator” and was helping organize many aspects of the day to day responsibilities.

Giving Anonymously excites me because it is such a new way of giving. At World Vision, I was always fascinated by Child Sponsorship – how they take the time & energy to connect people with a real child, a face & a story. It would be easier for them to just ask for money, but World Vision wants to engage & educate donors, not just take their money. Sponsorship is one of the ways they do this. They take it so far too – if you are traveling to the country where your child lives, they will actually spend time & money to help arrange for you to meet your sponsored child. That would be such an incredible experience.

In my mind, Giving Anonymously is an extension of this. It encourages thoughtful giving, it lets you see need in your community and respond to it. It engages people in the giving process. So many times when you donate, you just let the non-profit take on all the responsibility of solving the problem with your money. There’s nothing wrong with this, and I wholeheartedly support non-profits. But I still love the idea of a more personal sort of giving.

So that is my story of why I am THRILLED to be volunteering for this unique non-profit, I feel like this “part time job” is a dream come true and I am so excited to have the opportunity to pursue it.

*I wrote this when I resigned as president of a local moms club, so if it sounds oddly formal, that is why. I am still involved with the club, just no longer president, which actually is a huge relief. : )

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Princess Dilema

It is official. Annika would sell her soul for a princess. Particularly, anything - anything at all - that has the disney princesses on it.

She's been saying "princess" for about a month now, but only in the last two weeks has she started shrieking "PRINCESSSSS!!!!!" every...single...time....that she sees one in the store. And I bet you never noticed (unless you have a daughter) - PRINCESSES ARE EVERYWHERE. They surround us.

Princesses stand for everything I don't like in life. Ok, that's a bit extreme, but relatively true statement. Let's try again.

I don't like princesses. I hate how they portray unrealistic beauty, I hate how they are helpless, I hate how ridiculous the romance with a prince is, and I hate how skinny their little waists are. If I could do exactly what I wanted with no consequences, my daughter would never see a princess and especially a princess movie her entire life. (ogre, I know)

BUT, I've always said "I won't encourage princesses, but if my daughter is into princesses and barbies, I won't forbid them". Because I know all about the allures of forbidden fruit. And they snuck into our house via birthdays - because I didn't want to be psychotic about it and never told anyone I didn't like them. (I promise, promise, PROMISE, I am not angry if you gave my child a princess. Promise.)

Unfortunately, two year olds LOVE branded characters. Saben loved Thomas the Train at this age. But somehow boys are offered a hardworking train to admire, while girls are offered helpless beautiful damsels. And more than anything, more than I even hate BRATZ dolls, I HATE how...commercialism? the media? THE MAN? gets to choose what my child will be into. By plastering those stupid smug faces on absolutely everything. What two year old isn't going to be excited to see someone she recognizes on everything from toothbrushes to pillows? It is such glorious fun having someone you recognize on all your stuff.

So I've given up. I will get her the princesses because her joy in them is beautiful. I know a couple princesses won't ruin her forever. Saben stopped liking Thomas, so maybe she'll outgrow the princess phase too? (of course he never got into superheroes either - an entirely different blog post altogether)

Did I mention that she wants to wear her princess nightgown each and every night? She squeals and dances around everytime I pull it out. Who am I to deny my child's happiness? Even if it does make me gag a little everytime I look at their stupid little starry eyed faces and teeny waists.

First Family Camping Trip

It's been quite the summer, the busiest one I have ever had, but so many wonderful times & great family memories created. I am going to work super hard to get caught up here on the blog because there are so many things I just don't want to forget!

So way back at the end of July, we went car camping on San Juan Island together as a family for the very first time. The campground was absolutely gorgeous, situated on the east side of the island where we could watch the sunset over the water & behind Vancouver Island.

We arrived late afternoon via the ferry. Even though the Islands are close, the trip ends up taking several hours because you have to get there so early to catch the boat you want. We had fun waiting though and ran around on the beach with Roxxy. When we got off in Friday Harbor, we ran down to the docks & bought ourselves 2 live crabs to cook for dinner. Because what says "camping" more than fresh crab? I know, not normal, but I will say it was easy, low clean up and nothing beats cracking crab while watching the sunset....

Of course the kids immediately started playing in the dirt. Very normal.
I seriously can't believe it, but I didn't take a single picture of our campsite or the campground. Anyways, 1/2 way through our delicious crab, the sun was about to set so we all ran down to the beach to watch. It was glorious. We put the kids to bed in our giant tent and then finished our crab by lantern light.

Kyle is super cautious about leaving food out in camp and I sort of got annoyed because he kept putting everything that I needed away. How many couples do you know that fight because the husband is too tidy? Well now you know one. I'd go for a knife and it would be washed & in the car. Chips? Buried in a tub that I have to unpack.

Anyways, my point is....about 1 am the first night we hear this racket outside and Kyle immediately thinks it must be our cooler - the only thing we left out. He goes outside and finds out its not our cooler, but these black foxes that are breaking into our neighbors stuff. So thank goodness for tidy hubby.

We also kept waking up because Annika was rolling all over and not staying in her sleeping bag or on the pad we put down. So she'd start crying because she was cold, we'd wake up and have to get her covered again.

The next morning was freezing. It had been 95 degrees in our house when I was packing, heat records were being broken all over the state. It was only supposed to cool a bit that weekend - into the low 90's for seattle. So it seemed absolutely insane to pack pants or sweatshirts. I mean, I hadn't worn either one for weeks. Bad idea, I was sooo cold and so were the kids. This fog rolled in, a breeze was blowing away our breakfast and so we loaded the car and went into town to escape into warm stores & look for some cheap warm clothes.

Annika had a breakdown as soon as we arrived in town, I did not find any cheap warm clothes and we barely survived until lunch. Annika napped on the way back to camp, the sun came out and we were much happier campers by late afternoon.

I was relaxing in the sun reading a magazine when I suddenly realized there were crowds of people down on the beach - ORCAS! I squealed and ran down with Saben - he was interested for about 3 minutes while I ooohed and ahhhed for a good 30 minutes as they slowly faded from site.

That night, our friends arrived to share our campsite. They have two girls, one who is Sabens age & one who is older. They had so much fun the next couple days, exploring, playing in the dirt, walking roxxy, etc.

That night we made our first Jiffy Pop and took it down to the water to watch the sunset again. We watched divers enter the water for a night dive and the kids climbed around & jumped off a giant log that was there. Divine.

That night went much the same way - Annika waking outside her sleeping bag, scootching all over the tent in her sleep. We had no idea what to do with her. Then at 6:30am our neighbors who'd ridden in on a LOUD Harley decided to warm their bike up before heading out. TEN MINUTES of a super loud Harley puttering away, then them riding out of camp. I'm sure the entire campground woke up.

Later I was complaining about it and our friend says "well, I figure it doesn't matter, I mean, sometimes our kids are really noisy & that probably annoys people too. It just happens." I replied that "Well, if I thought my kid was going to wake everyone up by crying or screaming, I wouldn't even risk coming camping". Please. Do not ever say anything like that to anybody. You will be sorry. Read on....

We headed out to American camp in the morning and once again it was pretty foggy, but a lot warmer. We had an amazing beach all to ourselves and spent hours exploring it.

I love how Allison just assumed she would be part of our picture when we asked her Dad to take one for us. So cute. We took 15 pics at least and never got a decent one of both kids. oh well.

When we got to the beach, Annika insisted on putting on her swimsuit. She quickly figured out it was too cold to swim, but wouldn't change back.

Saben & Allison spent a lot of time "building" this fort that was already there. They would take sticks and wedge them in or lay them on top....

As the afternoon wore on, it was clear the Annika was exhausted. (I mistyped that, but I can't bring myself to change "The" to "That". "The Annika" is so perfect....)

Went back to camp, Annika napped while our friends went kayaking. The whales showed up again and I took all the big kids down to see them. We stayed & played on the beach in the sun and it was relaxing & wonderful.

That night we decided to take a risk and try going to Roche Harbor for dinner. We had no idea what sort of restaurant was there or if they'd be appropriate for kids. It was late, we were all hungry - very risky. Amazingly, there was only one restaurant and it was absolutely perfect. They were super busy but happened to have a table for six open on the balcony overlooking the marina. Beautiful. Our food took forever, but it was still perfect.

Then...Saturday night. Annika was still having trouble sleeping and woke up sort of screaming/crying at about 4am. It took us a couple minutes to get her calmed down and she managed to wake our friends & their kids. I felt awful.

At about 8:30 am, Annika woke up and immediately completely lost it. Crying, screaming, shrieking - I had no idea what was going on or what was wrong with her. We tried everything - offering her food, getting her dressed warmly, but she was in complete hysterics. I couldn't even get her diaper changed, she was writhing and screaming so violently.

At this point the whole camp was pretty much awake anyways (before she started screaming) and we just were trying to make sure there was nothing wrong with her. Unfortunately the only people still in their tents were our neighbors, but I kept hoping maybe they were out somewhere else.....

She calmed down when we left her alone for a few minutes and we thought we were through. But as soon as I went back in to offer her breakfast, she lost it again. So I decided to take her down to the water for distraction and to get her away from everyone having to listen to her. As we were walking and she is screaming & writhing out of my arms, I realized we needed to get her in the car & out of the campground.

Of course, right at this moment a man walks up and I literally thought he might have some clue why my precious girl had suddenly gone beserk and offer me helpful advice. I was so upset at this point. Instead he goes "I know you don't want to hear this, but when my kids did this at a campground, we put them in the car and left so that no one else had to listen to them."

I of course broke down into tears. Because really, I was trying to get her away from everyone and the only reason I didn't stick her immediately in the car is because I didn't know what was wrong with her. And we needed to get dressed first. So I learned my lessons (1) 3 nights of poor sleep does not work for Annika at this point (2) Next time just stick her in the car, because ultimately, that is what calmed her down (3) Never complain about a loud harley again, you never know when you will be the one annoying the entire campground.

Angel or demon? (taken about 30 minutes after she calmed down)

All in all, it was a super fun trip and I LOVE the San Juans. I want to go there every year really.