Friday, November 21, 2014


Time passes differently in Hawaii. An hour seems like a minute. It is just so beautiful here, the weather is perfect and most living occurs outside (my favorite place). Also, being on vacation is great -- no errands, no to-dos, no schedule.

Yesterday, we visited the North Shore. Ryan surfed at a famous surf spot --Pipeline. It was very sunny and very hot and after a couple of hours, the kids and I were cooked. We headed into Haliewa for lunch at the Grass Skirt Grill and shaved ice at Matsumoto's ( I think it was voted best shaved ice in the world -- it's that good).  We drove along the coast and stopped again at Swanzi beach for a smoothie at Uncle Bobo's. It felt like the eating tour of Hawaii. There is a lot of great food here. 

Later, we visited the Kailua farmers market where an entertaining Hawaiian played local music on his guitar. Sonia danced. Ryan and I ate delicious poke. Jack ate quickly and avoided the music.


kids are wiped out from the heat - happy to have shaved ice

Today, Ryan took the kids to the science center near the Bishop museum and I visited Shangri La, Doris Duke's Hawaiian home. It is now a museum of Islamic art with one of the most impressive collections in the world.
the guest entrance

We headed to a shady park in Waikiki for a picnic but the kids were really whiny. It may be hotter than our last visit. They seem cranky since we left the Disney resort... perhaps we should have expected that one. Anyway, we headed back to the beach near our home in Kailua. It was very windy and even cloudy. It was a great break from the heat. Sonia played in the sand. I watched the kite surfers.  Ryan and Jack played in the water until Ryan was stung by a portugese man o' war.

I wish I could have captured this guy flying. He could sail over the water for 50 yards at a time at least.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Halloween photos (very late)

I had the best Halloween costume of my life thus far:

Sleeping beauty on the left - Maleficient on right. The children (and some adults) were frightened.

The kids also dressed up

Happy 8th to Jack

We are spending Jack's birthday at the Disney Aulani resort on the west side of Oahu. It has been a lovely few days.  The kids are both proficient swimmers so they have been free to wander independently around the pools and slides. It's been quite a luxury not to have to make meals or run errands and spend all of our time lounging in the sun.

Jack has enjoyed his birthday. He got to choose what he ate (mostly sugar) and what he did (a lot of screen time). We convinced him to swim a lot too.  He and Sonia have also loved Auntie's Beach House which is essentially a free child care center. They have gone there for a few hours each afternoon and had dinner there.

Yesterday, while they were with Auntie, I visited the spa (without my camera so here a few from the web)


Stonehenge showers

It also had 5 outdoor hydrotherapy tubs and steam and dry saunas inside. Everything at this resort is perfect. If someone thinks you are having an experience that is less-than-perfect they are trying to fix it before you consciously know it's a problem.

Example: yesterday we went to the "character breakfast" We didn't know that the buffet breakfast was themed. It was and this meant that Disney characters were walking around greeting the children. A Hawaiian woman was also walking around serenading people at their tables with Hawaiian music. I heard one child ask her if she was Santa Claus. While other children were enjoying the festivities, Jack freaked out, left the table, and walked as far as he could go on the property. When the waitress returned, I asked if we could take Jack's food to-go since he could not handle the gaiety. She said no -- they didn't have to-go boxes since it was a buffet. I said that was fine. I understood. No problem and then I ate his food.

About 1 minute later a man with an ear piece comes to the table to say he was sorry Jack had freaked out and not eaten. He would make sure we were not charged for the meal. I pointed out that I had already eaten the food so that was not necessary. He insisted. What else could he do? Nothing. Ask the characters to stay away from Sonia as well? She was also nervous.

So, it is nice to be somewhere where everything is perfect. It is also a little weird. I am used to my unpredictable, messy world.

I am 8!
Flipper while walking to the slide

slightly crooked picture of the entry to the resort's restaurant. We sat at the table just to the left of the entry and just stared at the ocean the whole time. how can this place be so amazing?

We swim every night. It is fun.. until the children are so exhausted they become monsters. Then we know, it's time to go.

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Dude, I miss my dad

Today would have been my dad's 88th birthday. I miss my dad. What else can I say?

Monday, September 15, 2014

Sonia is 5

To celebrate Sonia's 5th birthday, we partied all weekend. First, we had a party with Sonia's preschool buddies at our usual park. I failed to take any pictures, per usual. However, luckily, I got one from a mom pal:

Then, we went on a boating adventure with friends. We motored around Lake Washington on the beautiful 80 degree day. We swam -- we even "tubed"

We got home around 9pm. Big day. Then Sunday we had brunch with all the grandparents at Vios. Jack hit the boat show with his dad and Grandpa while I made Sonia lay down for a couple of hours since we had one more celebration planned.

We had our next door neighbors over because they are Sonia's favorite people - especially the gal in the striped dress. We enjoyed pizza and cake and lots of play.

School is going to start in 10 minutes and both kids are still asleep. Ryan said it was too much but he is not the extrovert in the house and also, he does none of the planning. I used to socialize more and I think these parties are as much fun for me as they are for my kids. Birthday parties are one of the only ways that adults gather in a social setting these days. That said, this year, I did not tell Sonia who to invite. I did not invite any of my friends. Next year, I agreed we would tone it down. I told half the parents not to bring gifts and there were still too many gifts. 

In any case, Sonia enjoyed her 5th birthday. We are so glad she is here.

Monday, September 08, 2014

An ad for visiting Cortes Island

You must visit. You must. Stay at Cedar Moon. It was grand. All fun, all the time.

On ferry going home - our only group shot

Kids playing on beach behind the house

Ryan and Jack at Cedar Moon

Attempting to take photos at Squirrel Cove

Our family with our Swedish exchange student -- jk that's my friends' oldest

Ho hum sunrise

Ryan relaxing with our other Dad pal

our backyard

Squirrel Cove

All the kids

Wednesday, August 27, 2014


We love Canada! We are in Cortes Island for 7 heavenly days. We are with another family -- a friend of mine for the last 20 years, her husband and 2 kids who are the same age as mine.  It is just lovely and glorious and stunning.  This is the view from our house:

We step outside and walk 20 feet to get to water when the tide is high. Whales swim by every evening. I now know what a whale sounds like when it is surfacing. Beauty is everywhere. 9's all around.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

More on 9's and 1's

A friend once told me about an article she read describing life as a parent as "all 9's and 1's." Before kids, most of your days are 7's (on a 1-10 scale). After kids, 9's and 1's. This past week: all 1's. One of Jack's cavities developed an abscess. All night on Thursday, he cried because of the pain. I had given him Tylenol but it did nothing. It was awful. Thankfully, we got some antibiotics to treat the infection on Friday and his pain has subsided.

Later on Friday, I took the kids for a haircut and was informed in the middle of Sonia's haircut that she had lice. On subsequent inspection at Lice Knowing You(TM), I learned we all had it. Super! 5 hours and $400 later (seriously), we were lice-free. I may open my own Lice Knowing You franchise as they are seriously raking in the money.

So, that happened. On Friday morning, pre-lice discovery, I thought "I hate my job." It reminds me of the Peace Corps slogan "The toughest job you'll ever love except when you hate it which is some of the time" (slightly amended to meet my needs). The weight of being responsible for these little people feels like tons of bricks on my chest after a sleepless night comforting a crying child.

But last weekend: 9's. I took Sonia camping in the North Cascades while Ryan and Jack went fishing outside of Olympia. Jack has seemed much happier after having Dad to himself. Sonia and I loved being outside with friends in the American Alps(TM).

pre-louse-removal. Kids are happy. My face looks different.. more like Ryan's face in the background

North Cascades kid-friendly hiking trail

Thursday, July 31, 2014

First they step on your toes

While we've been having a great summer, there has a been a persistent storm occurring inside our home. Jack has been the rainmaker. He and I have been having mountains of conflict.  When he doesn't get what he wants -- screen time or time with our neighbors or having to do something he doesn't want to do (ie go to the Seattle Art Museum), he screams all the invective he knows. A few months ago, it was all directed at me and Ryan. Now it's being directed at other people: the neighbors, his grandparents.  He says things like 'you are stupid' or 'you need to die' and he screams these words.

I firmly explain that anger is fine but you can't express your anger in a way that hurts others. He doesn't seem to notice that people either ignore him or don't want to be around him (in the case of our neighbors). He doesn't understand the effect. He seems to lack the ability to see how his words hurt him more than anyone else because they isolate him.

A recent conversation:

Jack: Mom, do you love me?
Mom: Yes. I always love you.
Jack: Well, I don't love you.

This was outside of any conflict.. just a matter-of-fact observation of the moment on his part.

We learned this summer that Jack has 7 cavities.  In the last few years, he has become increasingly resistant to teeth brushing. We brushed his teeth once a day rather than have the fight. And this is what we got for our lack of effort: a mouth full of cavities. I learned that sometimes the fight is worth it. He cannot see the consequences of his actions. Oddly, because of the cavity situation, I have decided the conflict may just be part of the deal for the things I need to care about most -- mental and physical health issues.

Since the cavity diagnosis, Jack no longer resists twice daily dental hygiene. He gets it because he experienced the consequences. That is also going to be part of deal. I can't grow up for Jack. Mistakes are life's greatest teacher. I'll do my best then he'll have to do the rest.

PS. My mom visited this week. Jack was stepping on my feet and I asked him to please stop doing that. My mom said 'First they step on your toes. Then they step on your heart.' She was quoting a friend who had many children and even lost one. It was not comforting. However, it acknowledges that sadness is a part of parenthood.

summer happenings

In many ways, this has been a lovely summer. GREAT weather. We visit the pool, hang out at parks, visit with grandparents and even my aunts. My kids are becoming pretty good swimmers. Jack has passed the swim test at our pool so he can swim solo. They both love the pool.

I realize I have taken very few photos.. Here are a few:

Swimming in Lake Washington with our friend D

Ferry ride to visit grandparents for the weekend. Parents had free time!

Visited the Seattle Art Museum where Montlake Elem had an exhibit. Each student contributed to this color palette. They invented the color names -- slime green, macaroon maroon are a couple of examples. 

Saturday, July 12, 2014

What we do these days

It's funny that when I think of summer I think of a slower, more relaxed season. But it doesn't feel that way. I am trying to work on my website while doing all the usual house chores and take care of the kids. It's busier than the school year. Still fun though. A few highlights:

Miniature golf with grandma and grandpa in Kingston

science center and fountain

fountain with our cousins 

picnic at gasworks with above pictured cousins

Ryan and I had our 10th anniversary dinner at the Ajax Cafe in Port Hadlock. They had great celebrity art on the walls and this was my favorite
Sonia now loves the diving board. She says they should call it the jumping board.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

I've discovered collage art

Me (age 7), Ryan(age 8) and Jack(age 7)

3 months to last day of preschool

Thursday, June 05, 2014

Day in the life

Most days, Ryan leaves at 8am. Today, he took Sonia to school because the school was having their annual 'Donuts with Dad' father's day celebration. So he was at home throughout the entire before school morning routine. He made Sonia and Jack breakfast -- hardboiled eggs and toast. Sonia requested toast from a baguette. There were only two pieces so he gave her both. Jack said he wanted a piece of the baguette bread. Ryan asked Sonia if she would share. She said no. He tried to reason with her (waste of time), then he took one piece of toast from her plate and exchanged it with a piece from Jack's plate. Chaos ensues. Sonia screams that she wanted that toast. She cries and cries. Then she tries to grab the toast from Jack. At first, he is hurt that she is bugging him. Then he gets out of his chair and starts to hit her. More screaming. Meanwhile, Ryan is still trying to explain to Sonia why it is nice to share. I am standing to the side, sipping my coffee. Finally, Ryan apologized for his hubris.  Sonia successfully grabbed Jack's toast, took a bite, and gave it back to Jack. Both continued to eat in silence. I asked Ryan if he had learned anything. He said, 'yes, I should leave at 8am.'

Thursday, May 01, 2014

Recently heard at my house

Jack (yelling, exasperated) : Sonia! When are you going to leave me alone?!

Sonia (yelling, victorious): NEVER!!

Christ is a Raisin!

Last fall I started taking the kids to church. A devout atheist, Ryan does not attend. I've realized over the years of child raising that there isn't a great way to teach kids about the value of silence and "unproductive" time. I hope I am teaching them to be kind to others and to be generous. I hope I am teaching them that they are worthy of love no matter what they do or who they become. And that all people are worthy of love no matter what they do or who they become.

However, I am just one person and it turns out there is an institution dedicated to all of those lessons. We attend an Episcopalian church. I am Catholic and would like to take them to that church. Sadly, they require a pledge of fealty by both parents in order to enroll the kids in their education program. And, see above, that's not going to happen. Also, I would have a lot of explaining to do.. Hey mom, why aren't there women priests? Why don't gay people feel comfortable here? Errrrr, no non-hypocritical answers there.

The Episcopalians are great. I have Henry VIII to thank for their separation from the pope because as a result, each church can truly meet the needs of their congregation. We in Seattle are very liberal. We like the gays. We don't think the poor deserve what they get. Our church embraces all that. We always sit near a trans-gendered woman and I am just so pleased she is comfortable and welcome.

The priest (married two kids) gave a great sermon at the Easter service. He knows that some of the people in attendance may not actually believe that Jesus walked out of that tomb. But he also knows we are there for a reason. He talked about the mystery of our faith. He told a story of an easter egg hunt where all the eggs had little messages for the kids. One 5 year old girl opened her egg which said 'Christ in risen' and read 'Christ is a raisin?'.  He said the first is just as mysterious as the second. He talked about Brene Brown and her teachings on vulnerability as well as Jesus' call for us to be vulnerable in order to serve others and love ourselves unconditionally. There was lots more but I thought it was great.

The kids gave up pizza for lent. A few days before Easter I explained more about what Easter was about and how it was the end of lent. I then asked, "So what are we celebrating this sunday?" and they both shouted, "Pizza!"

Hmmm. They'll get it one day though.

Easter celebration and our lovely church

egg hunt with neighbors

post egg hunt (beautiful day!)

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

The hammock

We purchased a hammock last year from REI. Laying in this hammock is heaven for adults and great fun for kids. It's hours of entertainment and loved by all. I am grateful we have had some hammock-appropriate weather lately.


The other night, Sonia had a big melt down. I left and she was tired so she flipped out. In all of her crying and gnashing of teeth, she listed many complaints for Ryan. One was that "mom does not dress fancy."  This is true.

Sonia has recently tried to pick out my clothes. When I tell her I'd rather she didn't, she threatens me in a way that sounds sort of familiar "If you let me pick out your clothes then I won't kick you." She has picked up on the fact that Ryan and I say "If you do not do x, then we can't do y." Clearly, this is the blowback from our ill-considered behavior modification methods. Alfie Kohn would not be pleased but as far as I can tell the internal motivation of my kids does not match mine in any way. Therefore, the x then y method of child-raising.

So back to clothes, recently Sonia has been very interested in being twins. We wear the same color pants and shirt for example and this makes her happy. I do not remember ever wanting to be twins with my mother but I do know there is a picture somewhere of me and my mom in an identical tan shirt/skirt with embroidered rainbows on them. So I must not have minded the twin thing.

Dress with bunnies from aunt katie
I do not have the same dress.

Recently heard at my house

Jack: Mom, life is like fine cheese.
Mom: why is that?
Jack: Um (pause) because it's so good?

I later learned that there is a panel in the Garfield comic book that Jack loves that has part of this dialog. Garfield says "Life is like fine cheese because it gets more precious with age."

Jack loves Garfield. I think he really loves the facial expressions because he doesn't understand the humor. The above example is good reason why it is hard to explain.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Fast forward

Ryan purchased an app that takes video and replays it at triple the normal speed. It's especially cool for watching seemingly boring, low-key events like the hour we prepare and eat dinner with the kids. Ryan took this one of him playing with the kids.. shows you how they are always moving.

Waiting is the hardest part

Because my kids are human, they are very impatient. When they want things NOW, I often sing the chorus to Tom Petty's song The Waiting so they know that this is such a common part of the human experience that there is a song about it.  We play the song from time to time and they know the chorus. We were playing it recently and they started to dance. About 20 seconds in you get to see what great dancers we have.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The age of reason and external motivation

Someone told me that 7 is the age of reason.  I have observed that Jack seems older all of a sudden. He is reading. He likes to read and reads whenever there is a book around. He has been enjoying the Garfield cartoon books.  The popularity of cat videos on youtube reminds me that people really enjoy funny cats.

He takes his plate to the sink. He rarely has tantrums. He brings his back pack in from the car after school. He loves legos. He is HIGHLY motivated by the promise of screen time. We have started watching a 20 minute bbc show in the evenings called 'Shaun the Sheep.' We all love this show. It is laugh-out-loud funny. So with the promise of the show, the kids clean up, get ready for bed and Jack works on his homework. Alfie Kohn says this is terrible. I am raising children who will only participate with the promise of a reward. They will develop no internal motivation. For many, many years, I tried to develop internal motivation in my kids. They never helped around the house. They were not motivated by their responsibility as part of the family or ephemeral concepts like being kind. They are both motivated by the only things I fervently control - sugar and screen time. They are also motivated (albeit less so) when I tell them if they don't pick up their toys, I'll throw them away. I always follow through but they just don't care that much about most toys.

Monday, February 10, 2014

A recent conversation in our house

Sonia (crying and yelling): Mom, you don't know anything about life!

Mom: Sonia, you are sitting in a glass house.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Sonia's deep thoughts

"Dear Class: I threw up"

Over the break Sonia wrote the above as a letter to her class describing what happened to her during her vacation. She wanted them to know. She told me her teachers would be so sad. Lots happened over vacation but this was her full report. 

Today, she got dressed for the second time. She put on this outfit anticipating a visit from our neighbors.  

She said to me, "this is an outfit that a little girl wears when she goes hunting with her daddy and they kill people." That was definitely not where I thought that was going.

Little Snow

This year's snow fall at our nearest resort has been a big disappointment so far. However, we signed the kids up for ski lessons so we are going.  Today was our first day. They seemed to have fun.