Monday, November 30, 2015

Monday, November 23, 2015

Los Estados Unidos en Mexico

We are in Sayulita, a small town north of Puerto Vallarta.  Here is the view from our mostly-outdoor home:

It's really wonderful that we have this view because many of us have been spending a lot of time here. Ryan had a surfing accident of sorts. When exiting a wave, he was slammed into the sand and really can't move much. He cannot swim. He cannot sneeze. He cannot move his upper body without a great deal of discomfort.  Last night, Jack woke up vomiting and did that every hour until I went to a little clinic here and got him anti-nausea medicine. He now has a fever. 

A bummer, since it's not the ideal way to spend vacation but it's still a lovely vacation. We are moving at a snail's pace. Sonia and I hung out at the beach and at the home of our friends who are staying about 10 minutes walk from our home. 

A few nights this week, we've hired two women to cook for us at our friends' home. The home also has a pool so we lounge about there a lot too.

The weather is warm. There is lots of sun. We are happy to be here.

9 years!

Jack is 9. We have been parents for 9 years. It's hard to believe we existed before that. Who were those people? Too bad I didn't keep a blog then. This blog is also 9 years old. 9! The transformation of becoming a parent is impossible to overstate or accurately state. My focus and identity are completely different now. That may also be due to aging and experiencing life.

In any case, Jack is 9. He talks most about Minecraft. He enjoys swimming and our weekly trip to circus school. He reads most of the time he is at home. Our biggest parenting challenge is control over the screens in Jack's life. He seems ambivalent about school.. or maybe I am just ambivalent about his school experience as I experience it. Hard to separate my perceptions from my perceptions of his perceptions.

We are in Mexico right now... We started our vacation at a bland but kid-friendly all-inclusive resort outside of Puerto Vallarta. I wouldn't come back but it's been an easy three days. Jack was thrilled to spend his birthday on an airplane (in front of a screen) and then in the ocean and swimming pool later. I am grateful to be with him and our little family.

Jack declined to be in this photo:

Monday, October 26, 2015


Time passes so quickly. It's darker now and on Saturday, we will celebrate Halloween. Surreal. We carved pumpkins with our dear friend Heather and her family on Sunday.

We also visited Heather's cousin (and our former nanny) Gen. She has a child of her own now and a really cool mini John Deere tractor that Jack loved. I think he would have liked living on a farm.

Monday, October 19, 2015


Ryan loves surfing so we are teaching the kids to surf. Growing up in the Northwest, this means wet suits. Getting a wetsuit on a child is like getting a wet suit on a monkey. I was very tempted to swear. Besides that inconvenience, going to the beach with the kids is great fun. We visited the amazing Cape Lookout State Park. We had to hike two miles down a steep hill with all of our gear (and up of course). The kids did really well. I was very surprised. The love surfing with Dad.

We also visited Short Sands - a lovely beach between Manzanita and Cannon Beach Oregon. We had great weather too. It was a memorable vacation.

Cape Lookout State Park

Before the big hike down

Haystack Rock

Short Sands Beach - Photo by Jack

Dad and daughter

Tuesday, October 13, 2015


My kids are now both in elementary school. They are in the same place for 6 consecutive hours. What do I do with all my time, you ask? Well. I am transitioning. I had planned to use my time to work on my software. I do that. But I work alone and now I can work for 5 hour stretches. I get bored and a bit lonely. I need to figure out how to structure my time so I can pay attention. Maybe I will schedule shorter stretches of work outside my house?

That would be a better idea than what I did this past week. This week, I downloaded the first series of Outlander and watched 15 hours of TV in three days. I have not watched 15 hours of TV in the last 9 years combined. I was just looking at an Outlander fan website. Soon, I will gain 30 pounds, have an outdated hair style, start knitting and posting favorite cat pictures on Pinterest.

God help me.

Sunday, September 20, 2015


The longer I parent, the less I think it has any effect on the parented. My kids are so different from me. I am sure my habits influence them. I know the environment does too. However, I don't think anything I say or insist on guides them except maybe to inspire them to rebellion.

Here is a video of Sonia playing soccer. She is a very competitive and aggressive little player. At this stage of play, the faster, tougher girls just get more time with the ball. Sonia cried yesterday when her team lost. She is motivated to practice and be a good player. I have no part in this. Neither does Ryan. She is just this way. Jack, meanwhile, laid on the soccer field during scrimmage when Ryan signed him up for a league. He has no interest in competition but don't get him started on airplanes or dinosaurs or Minecraft or the solar system.

It seems the main job of a parent is to keep the children fed and step out of their way as you can't control much anyway.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Happy 6th birthday Sonia!

Sonia's birthday was all celebration. Aunt Katie surprised her for a visit. We had ten girls over for tea. We painted bird houses, ate small sandwiches, sipped tea, ate cake, had a dance party and pillow fight, watched a show then destroyed a pinata. Great fun had by all.

My mom and stepfather came for a spaghetti dinner. The adults ate while Sonia and Jack played with the neighbors and some friends that hung out while their parents worked. The kids ate dinner then more dessert. The kids get to choose whatever they want to eat all day on their birthday so a mountain of sugar was consumed.

Thursday, September 10, 2015


Sonia frequently contradicts me. She doesn't seem to trust many of the things I say to her. She might believe she knows more than I do.  Here is an example:

Tonight she wanted to play Marco Polo.  As the person calling Marco! she ran into the wall. I commented that was why Marco Polo is better played in the pool. She said that wasn't true. She knew someone (but I didn't know this person) who hit their head on the side of the pool while playing Marco Polo. This person's head split open and they couldn't fix it. Then she died. Well, she didn't die but she looked really weird because of all the bandages.

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Other side of summer

It seems I've been posting our summer highlights on Instagram and our summer lows on the blog. Here is a little photo essay of our summer. These past few months have actually been the most fun the kids and I have had yet.

A day at the Science Center to see the Grossology exhibit

Seattle center fountain

I was able to read for 10 minutes one day while the kids played. Worth noting.

Hot summer

Gathering with buddies in our favorite relaxation spot: the hammock

MOHAI -- Prohibition exhibit

Library time

A visit to Lincoln park wading pool to see one of Sonia's favorite preschool teachers. Her daughter has the same birthday as Sonia.

Great time on Guemes Island with family friends

Building blocks at my old yoga studio that is now closing
Sonia and I camped with family friends in the North Cascades. It rained the whole time. We had to leave one night early as our friends' tent was swamped the first night. We still had fun though.

Ryan and Jack went to the Oregon coast while Sonia and I camped

We had our pool to ourselves on many hot, sunny afternoons. The kids are with our 10 year old buddy

Lots of slow time around the house just doing ..whatever.

Saturday, August 22, 2015


Yesterday, Ryan, Jack and I were eating dinner. Sonia went outside to play with our neighbors. A few minutes later, Ryan asked where she was and I said she was at the neighbors. Then I ran up there to check on her. The neighbors weren't home. Then I started calling her name. I went to the home of two other neighbors with kids and neither had seen her.

Then my brain made the following connection: If Sonia is not on this block, then someone has taken her. And I became hysterical. I started screaming her name. I was crying. All of the neighbors who knew me came out of their homes and started helping me look for her. I insisted someone call the police. When I was talking to the dispatcher, I was so panicked I could not remember what Sonia had been wearing.

Then, someone had the sense to check the home of a neighbor who is not on the block but lives across the street. As I stood on the corner sobbing, a police car drove up and Sonia walked out onto the corner. She had simply gone somewhere she doesn't usually go without telling me. Because my mind had made the leap into panic that thought had not occurred to me.

My neighbors were kind. I was embarrassed.

There is a saying: if you hear hoof beats, think horses not zebras.  While running around my block, I thought about all the people who've lectured me because I allow my kids the freedom to walk around on their own. I thought about the news stories that would say I am a bad parent because I don't keep them in my view all the time.

I believe giving my kids freedom is important for their development. My hope is next time I will think about horses.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Crabbing and crabs

We visited the grandparents this weekend on the beautiful Olympic peninsula. We had great weather and lots of fun activities but both of the kids were crabby complainers all weekend.  It was annoying. In my more generous moments, I know that this is just life with kids. They can be moody or tired or whatever and that misery is foisted on the rest of us. In less generous moments, I want to run away.

They seem happy on the boat while crabbing.

Tuesday, August 04, 2015

Heard in my house

Jack does not like going to church. He doesn't like to do anything if he doesn't want to do so he digs in. He eventually comes with me but not before he spews invective -- all the swear words he knows + the worst things he can think to say.

Me: Jack,  we are going to church now.

Jack: I hate church.

Me: Ok, but you still have to go. It's important to spend time in silence with nothing to do but be with God.

Jack: I hate God. Jesus got what he deserved.

Cue the record player needle scratching across the record as my grandmother turns over in her grave or, at least, feels sorry for me.

Sonia recently began speaking Chinese.  She told Jack that she was speaking Chinese and he was impressed.

Jack: Where did you learn that?

Sonia: Well, it's not exactly Chinese. It's fairy Chinese. It's the Chinese the fairies speak. So if you want to go to a restaurant you say 'ma sha ka da ma'

Jack: Oh restaurant is ka da ma?

Sonia: Yes.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Seabrook sucked

Apologies for my bad word.

It did though.

Seabrook is this great little beach town created all at once .. like the way Venus sprung out of Zeus' head a fully formed adult. It was created for families -- bike paths, a small retail street, a central park with lots of space for games, fire pits, and a beautiful beach.

Unfortunately, we visited on a rainy, crappy Washington coast weekend. It was beautiful in Seattle though. We visited the indoor pool, braved the cold beach, played Life, Uno, Settlers of Cataan, and introduced the kids to The Simpsons. We made the best of it but we probably won't return.

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

Happy 4th!

My independent kids really enjoyed Independence Day. Every year, we visit the Bainbridge Island festival and parade. We play mini golf, eat ice cream, and watch the parade. I find parades really boring and have never been sure why they are popular.. but I digress. We met our family friends, the Armstrongs, and visited the mom's parents' home -- a beautiful mid-century place they purchased 30 years ago that sits right on the water.  We played more games, drank beer and enjoyed conversation while the kids ran around. Americana at its best. We headed home on the ferry as fireworks exploded across the city. Since it was so warm we could watch the spectacle from the ferry deck and the breeze was warm ( a first ).  We arrived home at 11pm and the kids were crazy with exhaustion.

Monday, June 29, 2015

WooHoo Summer

Sonia graduates from pre-school. I will be amazed if any year of Sonia's education will top this one. It's all downhill from here.

Last day at Jack's school with our pal Sofia. 

While I promised myself I would make notes about what we do each day, I haven't done that. This was Day 2. We spent the day at Madison Park Beach with our pals. Their dad is one of my favorite parents. He says things like - maybe Jack doesn't talk to anyone at school because he doesn't like anyone. I don't want to talk to 98% of these people. It's comforting.

Day 3: My high school friend and I hike 12.8 miles through Wallace Falls State Park. She is child-free so she has energy for these things. We have known each other 28 years. Sat together in freshman English with Mr. Nelson.

at that State Park. Great day to hike.

Day 4: West Seattle. I take lots of pictures of kids in the shade. We rode bikes to the Colman Pool and had a picnic while waiting for the pool to open.

Visited Marination for shaved ice.

children are un-impressed by amazing views and perfect weather. 

Sonia in disguise.

Playing Life. Lots of fun to finally find a game we can all play. Sonia is very competitive and wants to cheat. So far, we catch her each time.

Yesterday -- We visit Madison Park beach and are foiled by the lifeguard when Jack tries to swim to the dock to visit the high dive. Then we swing.

While searching for pictures for today's post, I found this. Sonia was around 2. 

In addition to beaches and pools and sun, we've had a great time making ice cream. We made traditional ice cream (vanilla and chocolate chip) with our ice cream maker. Then my friend Katie told us about a wonderful treat: frozen bananas and any other frozen fruit that sounds good + almond milk mixed in a food processor. I add a few chocolate chips and the taste of this concoction rivals ice cream of the fat and sugar variety. It's so good we make it every night now. Lots of fun.