Friday, September 08, 2017

Rock Star Baby

Noah is a fount of delight.

Words bubble out of him that make me chuckle for days on end.

For example, one morning I came down wearing bright coral pants (and a black blazer) and he exclaimed "Mommy! I like your pants! You look like a rock star!"

We are not a household of rock-related influences so his word choice was hilariously special.

Noah imitates his idea of a rock star, one of his professed future career options

But that's Noah. He often comments on my wardrobe in a way you'd expect of a 20 year old girlfriend, not a 4 year old preschooler. Often if I wear a new shirt he'll say - I like your shirt mommy!

Groupie Fact #1: being kissed by a rockstar makes YOU feel like a rockstar.

If I wear a dress on an odd occasion he'll say - you look beautiful mommy!

And because he is my no-filter, non-consequence-thinking, impulsive kid, I take everything he says at face value - and it truly makes me feel like a beautiful princess rock star.


Noah is also in a phase where he likes to tell me he farted. But he does it in the most charming of ways.

The other week he farted just as he snapped in the last piece of a puzzle and said, "Mommy, I finished the puzzle and my butt said 'good job!'"

Noah (and his butt) gives thumbs up!

Judah and I had a good laugh over that. Now whenever we fart we say our butt is applauding us.


Another endearing trait of Noah's is his random questions. He will sit quietly in the car for 7-8 minutes, pondering life, and then his little voice pipes up, Mommy, what do BART police do?

Noah, puzzler of life, and ball mazes.

Or, Mommy, what's more expensive, a house or a car, or a house-car?

Or, Mommy, what's your favorite kind of door?

Door?! Did you say door? As in, open the door to get inside the house?

Yeah, like do you like wood doors, or glass doors, or red doors?, I guess, I like glass...

And you, Noah, I like you. I really, really, really like you.

Saturday, September 02, 2017

In the Land of Triage

Every day I'm faced with this time dilemma:

I have one hour ONLY and I need to decide what task to do in that precious time. Do I...

1. Workout?

2. Clean (crumbs, dishes, little pieces of paper blanketing the floor because Noah is really into making snowflakes right now)?

3. Cook?

4. Email?

5. Read?

Ideally I would be able to do all these things every day, but I can only choose one to do well and thoroughly. So my solution?

Half-assing everything...and never working out!

Workout - meh, my pants still fit, it can wait - thank you Lycra and Elastene.

Clean - I'll just clear the obvious clutter away (by frantically stuffing them in closets and other dark recesses of my home and garage in no meaningful order) - no wonder I can't find anything that I "put away"!

Cook - Prepackaged, pre-cooked food is my best friend. Rice? done in 3 minutes. Veggies? defrosted in 2-3 minutes. Protein? thank goodness for canned beans.

Email - Many get written only in my head and no matter how hard I try, I still have 1,310 emails in my inbox. I'm making progress - it was 1500+ last year!

Read - There are SO MANY books I need/want to read. Sigh. My to read list is at least 5 books long and sadly it keeps growing. Currently on the burner:
1. Parenting, by Paul David Tripp
2. The Explosive Child (because Noah is killing me with his chronic inflexibility and inability to handle frustration)
3. Word Centered Women's Ministry
4. Adorned (Titus 2 Women's Mentorship)
5. Raising a Secure Child, How Circle of Security Parenting can Help You Nurture Your Child's Attachment, Emotional Resilience, and Freedom to Explore
6. Cutting For Stone (a rare fictional novel because my friend says it's her FAVORITE book of all time and I just HAVE to read it)
7. The Bright Hour by Nina Riggs (because it's an achingly soul-baring memoir written by a women of my SAME age with two young sons LIKE ME who died of cancer at the SAME age as I am now. How could I pass up something so eerily relatable?)

So, where am I going to find an extra few hours a day? Nowhere. Never. Not going to happen. Ever. Goodbye hopes and dreams and desires.

You are done.

By the way, nowhere in my life is there room for "fun." There isn't even room for the necessities.

Motherhood is triage.

And constantly coming to terms with living without the things you really really really want to do. And a fierce urgency to CHOOSE gratitude, CHOOSE contentment, and THANKSGIVING because bitterness is an ocean that I could drown in any second of my frantic, too-short, no-fun-for-me, only-chores-and-errands day. Day after day after day after day, after forsaken day.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Oh, Hi Yo!

We just came back from a visit to Ohio to see family...

and Abraham Lincoln. NBD.

The Spouse's mom lives in a suburb right outside Cleveland and after being there for several days, I kind of want to move there.

Behind us: acres of forest and lots of deer.

Giant trees and green lawns abound. Sprawling metroparks criss-cross large areas devoted to biking and hiking. Community recreation centers boast everything a healthy family would need at a mere annual membership costing just $145 - full service gyms, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, preschool programs, adult community programs, AND FREE CHILD CARE.

Did I mention free child care?

Our entire trip can be pretty much summed up in this way:
Libraries, swimming, playgrounds, rinse and repeat.

Here's proof:

We went to 3 different local branches, each with fantastic play areas for the preschool set.

Another day, another library.

And we went swimming way too often. I had to get over my lifelong disgust of soaking in other people's fluids. Let's just say, it got really hard when I was around a giant group of kids and the water felt suddenly very warm.

Noah gives this places two thumbs up!

Noah didn't like this place as much, despite the giant pirate ship.

And to complete the trifecta - playgrounds! Lots and lots of very nice playgrounds!

Sprinkled in there was a few tourist traps, including the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo. Noah was super excited to see the rhino (since we've never seen one at California zoos), but when we got there, it was on its lunch hour! The nerve of some animals.

Sorry Noah, this cutout was the closest you got to seeing a rhino.

I assumed the zoo would be meh - seen one, you've seen them all - but I was pleasantly surprised by the Rainforest exhibit that boasted animals I never knew existed - like the capybara, the largest rodent on earth - crazy!

This guy is roughly the size of a grown pig - the inspiration for Okja, methinks.

Our one and only family pic that wasn't a selfie.

Of course we had to visit at least one museum so we chose the one that was the most fun from last year - the Space and Science Museum. The only new exhibit was on Legos so it felt like we just paid $100 to go to a giant Lego store. Ugh.

We built an arch! Sort of.

Still my favorite exhibit, the harmonograph.

And last, but not least, we attended a Civil War Reenactment, because, well, why not. I regret not getting a selfie with President Lincoln, but at least the kids got a picture with him. He handed out shiny pennies but no aphorisms or witticisms, unfortunately.

The day's climax was a battle that included cavalry, cannons, and a twice as many Union soldiers as Southern rebels, and yet the rebels won. The kids got bored quickly and smelled like gun powder for the rest of the day.

So realistic against the backdrop of the Ohio woods.

Two brothers on their way. One wore blue and one wore gray.

Obligatory photo with a gatling gun. Because gatling gun.

If you ask Judah what his favorite part of the trip was, he would unhesitatingly chirp - My birthday party with Grandma and Grandpa Neil!

Judah turned 7 in the middle of our trip and we feted with a homemade chocolate cake with chocolate icing made by our resident baker, Grandpa Neil. It was so good, all you could hear when we cut the cake was a chorus of "mmmmmm, mmmmmmm, mmmmmmm" for a good 5 minutes.

Other home baked goods we enjoyed during the trip include: corn bread, chocolate cookies with peanut butter chips and coconut, and chocolate chip pancakes. I couldn't wear the same pair of jeans upon my return home. And it was well worth it.

Add to that all the hearty soups my mother-in-law made, and there you have it - the most delicious trip we've ever taken.

But it was also exhausting. Although the kids traveled a lot easier and better than they ever have before in their short lives, it was still a constant struggle to keep them from bouncing around destructively indoors and melting down in boredom or exhaustion. And being with them 24-7 is never going to be a walk in the park.

But they do reward you with the most random things. I swear, the Spouse just asked Noah to smile so he could take a picture of us coloring together...and Noah did this.

Things like this remind me - my kids are just plain weird.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Everything, EVERYTHING and not everything

This Summer has flown by! And no blog entries reflect all the STUFF that's happened.

So, in an effort to download my memory banks (because in 10 years I'm going to wonder...what did we do the Summer of 2017?), here goes...

For about 6 weeks this Summer I was plagued by a virus from hell. It manifested in the weirdest ways - ways in which I didn't know my body was capable of dysfunctioning.

No sore throat, no runny nose (well, very minimal snotting) - those are the usual suspects. Instead I had pink-eye. I've never had pink-eye in my ENTIRE life. It was very weird.

And I coughed a lot. Especially at night. For almost 2 weeks I spent EACH and EVERY night coughing my lungs out for about 3-4 hours. Sweating from the effort, sucking hard on Ricola, and pleading to God for mercy. I know things are really bad when I literally pray - God help me. Please God help me. Please, please, please. Have mercy on me, a sinner.

The weird thing was, I was fine all day, but then at night - the horrible coughing marathon.

So after a lot of Googling and consulting doctor friends, my best guess was I had a viral infection that caused a lot of post-nasal drip which is accentuated and greatly exacerbated when you lie down. And so for weeks I slept propped up on two pillows, as if one were to fall asleep sitting on the couch.

So six weeks is a long time to feel crappy. And during that time a lot of other stuff happened.

For one, I crashed our family car. Again.

I was stopped at a red light; there were 2 cars in front of me. The light turned green and we all started to roll forward slowly. Two seconds in, I thought it was a good time to look down for a box of tissues and then BOOM!

The first car slammed on his breaks completely, which caused the 2nd car to slam on his breaks completely, which caused me, the downward-gazing driver to slam into the 2nd car.

I was going maybe 5 mph? If that.

The car I hit had a small dent in his back bumper.

My car, however, feigned like an NBA pro, crumpling completely.

Sigh, another one bites the dust.

Things I felt in the immediate aftermath - horror, shame, disgust (at myself), sad, sad, very, very sad.

And also during my 6 week viral illness, Judah had one of the toughest days of his short life.

We noticed one of his bottom teeth was growing in but his baby teeth were not wiggling enough. It slowly dawned on the Spouse and I that Judah would need to get his baby teeth extracted. ASAP.

The day of the scheduled extraction I went to pick up Judah from Summer Camp and saw a giant circle bruise right in between his eyes. Apparently he had been hit by a baseball (which he called the "moneyball" because it's the pitch that's supposed to be the hardest and fastest) which a strong 9 year old batted in the direction of his face.

Moneyball indeed.

Judah was in a lot of pain and moaned about having a headache, which means he's really hurt because this guy doesn't complain about physical pain, ever.

And now he was getting his teeth pulled, but he didn't know it because the Spouse and I decided it was best to not tell him! Why worry him needlessly with anticipation? We merely told Judah the dentist was going to "look at" his teeth.

The moment he received the bad news while reclining on the padded dentist chair was one I'll recall for a long time. Judah, I'm so sorry but the dentist said he has to take out BOTH your bottom two teeth. (An x-ray revealed that the other adult teeth was just days away from making it's debut as well).

His eyes opened wide with fear, filled with tears, shock, betrayal, worry.

I wondered how this would end.

But my brave, accommodating, good boy was true to his brave, accommodating, good nature, and despite his intense fear, laid still and let the dentist give him two numbing shots with a giant needle and yank out both his teeth.

Two hours and 8 extremely bloody gauzes (and a good dose of ibuprofen) later, he was smiling again.

Judah - Minus two teeth; Plus one swollen bruise

There's nothing quite like your baby losing his baby teeth that makes you feel like he's not a baby anymore.

Another milestone. Another passage. Another clear marker that...that...there's life and growth and change...and very real loss.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

One more time, with FEELING

"I'm so excited!" I read out loud from the book, The Mouse and The Motorcycle, our current bedtime story.

We had just reached the high point where Ralph is finally reunited with his beloved motorcycle.

I thought I had read it with proper gusto, but out of the dark, Judah's voice arose - Mom, you didn't sound very excited. Can you read it again? This time with more feeling?

What?! I balked for 2 seconds in silence. In his whole life I have read him over 15,693 stories and he has never critiqued my delivery of a single line, not once.

Please Mom, for my sake?

Who is this kid and why does he say things I've never heard him say before that sound too mature to be coming out of his mouth?

Uh, okay, Judah, I'll try again - I'M SO EXCITED!!!!

And then Noah's voice pipes up - I can say it better Mommy - I'M SO EXCITED!!!!!

Thanks for the post-shout ringing sound in my ears, Noah.

Little brothers aside, six year olds who are turning seven soon are so much fun. Judah is turning that magical age - the first that I remember of my own life in full living color - in just a few weeks.

I'm so excited!!

Thursday, July 06, 2017

Sweet and Surly

Last week we went to a book fair and the kids instantly picked out what they wanted with zero hesitation.

Judah asked for a book that came with a pink bunny charm bracelet. (And cited the bunny charm as the main reason he wanted this book).

And Noah enthusiastically grabbed a book about villains that looks down right satanic. Seriously, every picture in this book looks like pure evil.

And that is now how I explain to people, in under 30 seconds, how different my kids are from each other.

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

My Punny Sonny

What do you call a bullfrog with no legs?

I don't know, sad?

No, "unhoppy"!

What is an alligator's favorite drink?

I don't know, swamp juice?

No, "gator-ade"!

Judah told me these two jokes this week and I'm LOVING it. He knows I love puns and he saves them up for me, a few every week for the last 3 months or so.

He's so punny.

But what cracks me up the most is when he chooses a perfect phrase that seems way too mature for him. I'll never forget the time last year, when I sat at the kitchen table, pausing in weariness after taking a long sip of water.

Judah looked at me with anxious eyes and said, "There followed a dreadful silence..."

It was a direct quote from a Roald Dahl book we had been reading at bedtime, and it was perfect.

The dreadful silence was quickly swallowed up by mirthful chuckles, story of my life with kids.

Monday, June 05, 2017

Logical Larry

I'm starting to realize what a tight little logical mind Noah possesses. It's fascinating to me to watch my kid's inner mind unfold - one of the best things about parenting: figuring out who the heck they are and how they think.

Noah, much more than Judah, loves categories and distinctions. I caught a glimpse of this last year when he pronounced in a musing tone - Mommy, mommy...your penis is a vagina...but...our butts are the same!

It was a revelation to him.

Logical Larry in an outfit that defies logic

A delightful categorization of unmentionable parts - the stuff we hide behind undies and the distinction between genders. What is different? What is the same? I considered blowing his mind right then and there by telling him that males and females actually have the same kind of genital tissue, but at the fetus stage, various hormones cause the tissue to develop into a vagina or penis...but women technically have "under-developed" penises and some people are hermaphrodites.

But then I remembered he was I'll save it.

Last week, Noah revealed more of his love of logic in the car, this time on the topic of ciphers. He randomly asked me - Mommy, what is A + B?

This is a guy who has been doing simple arithmetic with numbers for over a year now so I know he was trying to extend that logic to a new category.

I answered..."AB"? "A, B"? Not wanting to guess the obvious punchline - C, so as not to steal his thunder.

He answered reliably - No, it's 'C', Mommy!

Oh! I said, pretending to be amused and surprised.

Yeah, he said, because A = 1 and B = 2 and C = 3.

Okay, I thought, he has a mind for ciphers. Which is amusing because never in his life did we ever talk about or play any games relating to ciphers.

And then, much to my further amusement, he went on - Mommy, what is C + D?

I thought, hmmm...I wonder if he's going to say the cop out answer - E? Would he just be lazily sequential instead of doing the hard work of logical consistency?

I don't know, Noah, I said, waiting for him to answer.

He paused for a good long minute and mumbled and finger counted and finally shouted out - G!

Why yes, my boy! My logical, cipher-loving, math-pondering boy!

And just to show me how he did it, he explained - Because C = 3 and D = 4 and 3+4 = 7 and G = 7!

And I thought, yes, my son. MY son. I have always loved logic and found the application of it to be wonderfully cleansing, something akin to that clean squeaky feeling you get when the dentist blasts each tooth with a water pick and scrapes all the plaque off your gums.

And then today, driving in the car, Noah's logical mind made me want to stick a screwdriver in my eye. He kept asking me, again and again, to explain the strange phenomenon he witnessed over the weekend.

We had attended a kid's musical of Willy Wonka and Noah was perplexed by the girl in the violet fat suit who was blown up with an air pump. She was not the same girl who played the "normal" Violet Beauregard, as the costume change was too quick.

Again and again, Noah pondered how she got so big, so round, and slightly taller in one second...on and on his questioning went for what seemed like an eternity to me.

Logic, a double-edged sword.

Thursday, May 25, 2017


A couple weeks ago I made a pilgrimage of sorts.

I went to visit my longtime friend (favorite ex-college roommate) at her workplace - Facebook Headquarters, Menlo Park, the most expensive real estate perhaps in the entire nation.

I primarily went to reconnect with my friend, but part of me was also curious about the world I left behind when I decided to be a stay-at-home mom for the last four years. I always worked in SF, so a foray down to the tech capital would be novel, I thought.

What greeted me was a mishmash of elite college vibes, a lot of money, and a modern art museum.

Across their giant campus were many parking lots (filled to the gills with Maseratis, noticed the mom driving a Hyundai with a GIANT bird dropping on it, ugh) with valet parking and a premiere shuttle service linking each one. On top of each building was a rooftop garden perfectly landscaped to make you feel like you're walking through an Architectural Digest magazine spread, with an outdoor bistro on each, of course.

And parked in front of each building was my favorite feature, a set of shiny, light blue beach cruisers that employees used to bike to and fro on campus.

Inside each building was a giant open office plan and floor-to-ceiling glass walled conference rooms. There would be no jerking off in this place, you could be sure. I commented to my friend how, as a non-assertive introvert, this would be my workplace version of hell.

And hoodies. Lots of hipster hoodies with the white zipper flocking that you could buy for $19.99 at H&M.

My friend took me to eat at their gourmet cafeteria and bid me adieu at the end with snacks from their "snack room" chock full of organic, gluten-free goodness and drinks of every possible variety (it was seriously insane, think 7-11 for millionaires).

All this.

All this for what?

To prop up a social media empire.

But what is at the heart of this industry? What product is it selling? What service is it providing?

Connection. Connection? With "friends"?

And yet I couldn't help thinking of the article I read just a few days prior to my visit - about the link between social media use and depression. Not surprisingly, the longer a person is on social media, the more depressed that person gets. And it's CAUSATIVE, not correlative.

And we all know it to be true. Because lies.

Lies of omission.

A million status updates about baby births.
Only a handful about miscarriages.

A million status updates about weddings.
Only one that I've ever seen announcing a divorce.

A million pictures/videos of smiling kids.
None of a MULTI-HOUR meltdown.

A million beautiful vacation shots.
None of mundane office life or shopping at Walmart in elastic gray sweatpants with glasses and greasy hair (shut up, don't judge).

I could go on, but there's no need.

If you're marketing a substance that causes users to get sick, the FDA would pull you off the shelf. Is mental illness not as legitimate as physical harm?

At the very least, FB should come with a warning label: Being on this site for more than 10 minutes a day has been shown to cause mild to severe depression. Use responsibly.

Either way, being on the real FB campus was like being in an uneasy paradise. Like when a movie shows a happy scene with discordant strings in the background (think: Jaws). Something's off...but the grilled portobello mushroom steaks with balsamic dressing is amazing!

And in the end, the scene that stays with me is the wall of Latino and Black laborers in the dish-washing room being handed trays of dirty plates by White and Asian employees. A literal stainless steel half-wall dividing the races clear down the middle.

Now that's keepin' it real.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Story of My Life

I got the sweetest kid-made gifts for Mother's Day, but this "story" written by Judah was by far the most amusing. The kid gets an A+ for getting right to the point!

The Wonderful Mom

Once upon a time, there was a beautiful young lady named Christina. A couple years later, she met a handsome man named Michael Chung. After they dated, they... married. Then after some years they had a baby. Christina did all the work. When she had another baby, she did the same. The End.

Pretty darn accurate, I'd say - especially about the childcare work distribution!

Friday, May 12, 2017

In which something really hit me...

Yesterday, as always, I braced myself for 3:30 pm, the time when both my kids would be home from school.

That's when I turn everything off so I can be totally "on" for them.

Need cuddles? Want to talk about your day? Want a story? A snack? A trip to the park?

I'm your woman.

I'm mentally prepared to handle anything they might dish at me - grumpiness, meltdowns, whining, boredom...

Or so I thought.

Yesterday really caught me off guard. Yesterday, they came home and...and...and...

...didn't need me.

They ran upstairs to play with each other. They traded Pokemon cards. They played a made-up game with our Uno card deck. The 6 year old read books to the 4 year old.

They played and they played and they played without any conflict for two hours.

At first, I stood around bewildered.

What is this weird feeling? Not being needed/summoned/demanded to do something while both my kids are around?

I think it's called freedom?

For someone who has spent the last 6 years of her life lurching from one loud "Mooooooooooommmmyyyyyyyyy!" call to the other, the silence was...deafening.


Are we really moving on here? Are my kids really growing up? Is this how it feels to watch your kids grow in independence and healthy detachment?

If I've yearned for this day for the last 6 years, why does my heart feel so hollow?

Why does victory feel like loss?

Triumph, like emptiness?

But on the plus side, my kitchen never looked so clean on a Thursday afternoon.

Friday, May 05, 2017

In which my hackles rise

Here's a post you never see on my blog - the rant post.

But what good is a blog if you don't ever rant on it?!?!

The blog and it's anonymous voyeurs are the PERFECT catharsis for airing your totally bursting irritation at some horrible thing in the world so if you'll allow me...

People who run these kind of phishing scams should be publicly executed in the most torturous and humiliating way possible. Crucifixion is a good option.

There is just NO moral justification for this kind of evil. No "Robin Hood" balancing of thievery with social justice. The kind of people that it may be justified to steal from - the rich and sophisticated - would never fall for this kind of dumbass scheme.

It's the poor elderly people, the less sophisticated immigrants, the widow, the orphan, the sojourner, that may be tricked.

I wish, just once, just once, JUST ONCE, the faces of these hacking cowards would be exposed in public in a journalistic piece and we could all spit on them...and then wipe off our computer screens.

May you burn in hell, you disgusting excuse for a shell of existence, bottom-feeding scum sucker sludge. You are worse than pedophiles who at least have the excuse of a predisposition that is inborn in them. You, however, are just an ass-hole. A pre-meditating, code-writing, sociopathic ass-hole.

End rant.

Tuesday, May 02, 2017

An eyeful, an armful, a heartful

This morning it was already 70 degrees by 8:00 am.

I took a jog through a gentle trail around a grand lake.

The surface of the lake was as still as a mirror. Even the ripples were like hand-drawn lines in a graphic novel.

I saw a doe stop right in front of me, and then proceed up the mountain, followed by two fawns. Me and my two kids, I thought.

I saw a bird stop right by me for the briefest fraction of a second, just enough time to see her beak filled with nesting straw. Time to build a home.

I saw wildflowers in bright pink and yellow scattered carelessly, abundantly.

And occasional breaks in the dense foliage that revealed EVERYTHING perfectly - sky, water, mountains, trees, bushes, grass, near and far.

And a little speck of a bird, a sparrow, I like to think, myself.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Spring Has Sprung - Again!

I realize every year I have one blog post in the middle of April that acknowledges the coming of another Spring. So here it is.

For me, the main signs of Spring are the stuff my kids produce at school.

Noah's awesome preschool (that I love times a million) made this helpful display to announce the season. Big props to a pre-K for making me literally laugh out loud (LLOL, yes, I'm still trying to make it a 'thing') with the craft of Noah's face as a boy fairy. Kill me now. Just kill me with cuteness.

And, as if that wasn't awesome enough, his preschool has little Spring animals. They had catepillars in a cup (which turned into butterflies) and these sweet little baby chicks.

Y'all, I held a baby chick two weeks ago. My first time ever. Life just never stops getting better. Remember that young people. Life just keeps getting better. Because baby animals.

Judah's school kindly reminds me of Spring every year with his Spring portrait. And also reminds me how cheap I am as I take another picture of picture.

But man, I almost caved this year. Looking at this sweet face of the boy I love so so so much. How could I resist?!?! The marketing print even asked me - "How can you resist this smile?" I can't! I can't!

I was *this* close. I'm pretty sure next year I'm going to cave.

Spring is an amazing time to do our nature walks. This picture was taken when Judah and I explored a brand new trail just minutes from our house on one of our "just us" dates. I'll never forget how bursting at the seams happy Judah was during this walk.

He was literally bounding up and down the trails like a puppy wagging his tail. Talking happy nonsense, bouncing, smiling, filled with sweetness. And all around us, the vibrant green of new life shouting 'joy!' in living color.

I need to make that experience into a candle somehow...

Easter weekend was insanely busy but awesome. One highlight was the kids earning their first stripe on their jiu-jitsu belts. The ceremony consisted of them sitting for 90 minutes, completely still and quiet while each kid was called up for a promotion.

I am still AMAZED that my 4 year old did that. There is some magical obedience voodoo going on here. I must investigate further and figure out how to harness that to my advantage.

On Easter Sunday the kids took an obligatory picture and then quickly lapsed back into their "normal" weird looking selves.

And as if getting a bunch of goodies and candies from Easter wasn't good enough, we topped of the day with a fabulous birthday party by a mom who went all out with the incredibly cute and well-designed decorations. Pinterest needs to hire this mom, seriously.

There is nothing easy about motherhood. Nothing. BUT, it does absolutely keep getting better.

And sweeter.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Our Pilgrimage Back

Last weekend we made the 90 minute trek (by car) back to Muir Woods National Monument.

The last time we were there was in 2010! We kept saying we'd go back, as hiking in the redwoods is pretty much our favorite thing to do on the planet, but never made it until now.

Seven years. Seven years later.

The number of completion. A lifetime.

When I look back on this picture of my first born, 7 years ago, I cringe with pain.

This poor, young(ish) first-time mom had no idea. No. I. Dea. The depth of pain, monotony, mind-numbing boredom, and feelings of isolation she would face in the coming years.

She had no idea what a colossally bad idea it would be for her to be a stay-at-home mom with a newborn and a 2.5 year old (but it was an experience she is immensely grateful for anyway). How it would drive her to the edge of her mental well-being every day by 4 pm and yet, the day stretched on. Far, far beyond her capacity to cope.

What a wilderness has been traversed in these last few years. What a grinding, daily furnace of cursing the moment I opened my eyes to realize I had regained consciousness each morning.

I am not the same person making the pilgrimage back to these ancient woods.

I am so so so profoundly grateful.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Don't Bump the Glump and Other Tales

The days keep rolling by like someone flipping an old-fashioned animation sketchbook - fast and then faster.

And I now have a bunch of photos of the kids and memories that need memorializing. So here goes...

During the insanely frequent rainy days this Winter (seriously California hasn't had this much rain for my entire lifetime of living here!) the kids often made their own indoor fun. One of their favorite pastimes by far was and still is using giant shipping boxes to create nooks.

I love this picture because it reminds me how excited Judah was to draw different scenes for Noah's box nook. One of them was of a zombie graveyard and the other of an underwater world.

Judah is never happier than when he's doing something creative for Noah. His joy is the joy he anticipates Noah will feel. It is pretty much the highlight of motherhood...until, that is, Noah looks at Judah's handiwork and responds with a tepid "meh".

Then Judah's feelings get hurt and crying and gnashing of teeth begins.

This is another creation of Judah's. Noah is "Wolfman" because he loves wolves, because he loves Wolverine (because there is no reason as we have NEVER bought any wolverine toys or watched any wolverine shows, so this kid is a real mystery to me).

Judah drew a head band, chest symbol, and utility belt, and on the back of the cape is another giant wolf symbol. Noah was only mildly appreciative, but still put it on for good sport. Phew.

Since the rain was so frequent, I tried frantically to get outdoors with the kids whenever there was a tiny break in the downpour. March marks the time of year I get panicked about my long lazy winter of eating lots of carbs and LOTS of butter and moving very little.

Thankfully boys are like dogs, you HAVE to take them outside every day or else they will chew up all your furniture and pee all over the floor.

Judah has fully graduated to the "big kid" bike. He never had training wheels as we started him out on a balance bike when he was 3. Noah on the other hand has no idea how to balance and he's already 4.

Like many siblings, the first one gets gold-star treatment and the second (or third or fourth...) gets shafted. Sorry Noah, maybe you'll figure out how to ride a bike by the time you're 10.

The boys have been doing Jiu-Jitsu since January. This is literally an answered prayer for Judah who has been begging me (and God) to give him martial arts lessons for the last two years.

I just never wanted to sit around with my fussy second kid while waiting for the first kid's lesson to end. Now that they're both old enough to participate together, I'm all in.

Judah is LOVING it. This kid loves to compete and is focused like a laser on everything the coach says.

Noah on the other hand, simply endures and is only doing this cuz he hero-worships Judah. Every time class is about to end, Noah skips to the end-line and sings "Yay! This is my favorite part! Class is over!"

Noah continues to be my wonderful weirdo. He is constantly changing outfits throughout the day for no particular reason. Here he's wearing his favorite things - his favorite hat, his favorite cardigan, and shorts - he loves shorts.

Once, last month, he went to church in a full ninja Halloween costume (2 sizes too small from Old Navy). He had normal clothes underneath. It was...a battle I was just too tired to fight. Ninja: 1, me: 0.

Kids are awesome because they make you do constructive things you might have otherwise given up on. Noah wanted desperately to grow some veggies in our garden, but I had given up.

Two years ago, I tried but badly hurt my foot with the shovel. One year ago, I tried again, but broke my arm in early Spring and couldn't shovel.

This year, I just didn't try...even though deep down I wished I would. Enter: Noah and his motivating enthusiasm for growing veggies, thanks to his awesome preschool.

On a whim and a random Saturday, we went to a hardware store and bought a cucumber plant, a tomato plant, a watermelon plant, and some strawberry plants. And thus came into being our humble patch:

Within a week, the watermelon plant was completely devoured by a stray cat.

We'll see if any of this comes into fruition (hahaha, see what I did there?). I have a notorious history of killing plants of all kinds - indoors, outdoors, succulents, flowers, sigh.

Just call me Mrs. Blackthumb.