Just a Push, and We’re On Our Way . . .

Last weekend Eleanor found my old journal that I kept when I was her age.  In it, I wrote about the time I was given my favorite childhood bike (purple Huffy, banana seat, called the “Desert Rose,” still love it).

She grew silent; she hadn’t ever really learned to ride a bike, even though she was close to figuring it out.

Imagine my surprise when she hopped on Jeff’s bike and persisted until she was doing loops around the cul-de-sac!  I had to get some video evidence on Sunday afternoon for the grandparents.  We are all so proud of her!

William Quote: Life Is Tough


Today I sat down to help William with his reading homework, and he immediately leaned in for a hug.  I realized I hadn’t really cuddled with him at all today.

ME:  Aw, William.  Is life sometimes tough for you?

WILL: Yeah.

ME: What makes it tough to be William?

WILL:  Hmmm . . . .

[he thinks for a bit]

WILL: Well, I really like ice cream.


ME: Oh, you mean you like ice cream, but you only get to have it once in a while?

WILL: Yeah.

ME:  And that’s what makes life tough?

WILL: Yeah.

ME: What else?

WILL: I have to do my reading before I can open up any of my Valentines.  And it’s really tough to keep my eyes closed when someone is saying a prayer.

ME: It’s tough to do that?

WILL: Yeah, and when I’m praying, too.


WILL:  And that’s all.

ME:  Those are the only things that make life tough?  Not having enough ice cream, having to do reading before opening valentines, and keeping your eyes closed?

WILL:  When there’s a prayer.  And when I’m praying too.

ME:  Well, let’s take care of one of those right now, okay?

Any guesses as to which one we did?

Katie Update


Katie . . .

  • Has learned how to get a drink for herself from the water dispenser in the fridge.  She usually takes a sip, then spits it out all over the kitchen floor.
  • She also knows how to get pears for herself from the fruit bowl.  I’ve slipped on three half-eaten pears this week, all left on the living room floor.
  • Pears are obtained by moving around the kitchen step-stool.  She usually does this by picking up the stool and yelling “I’ve got it!” which is now one of my most dreaded phrases to hear
  • Insists on wearing a princess dress to the park (see picture, above.  Her dress is stuffed in the swing)
  • Insists on carrying a little travel-sized bar of soap wherever she goes, including trips away from home
  • If you forget the soap, she yells “DOAP DOAP DOAP” until you get it for her
  • Has discovered how to get into the sugar bowl in the pantry, which she usually goes after with double-fisted sugar-munching action.  Last time she had a big wooden serving spoon to get more of it.
  • She’s so euphoric with sugar that any attempts to discipline her (scolding, time-outs) are pointless, since she’s just laughing madly and chuckling “SUGAH!  SUGAH! SUGAH!”  until I give up.  (Yes, I should move the sugar to a higher shelf, but that would require cleaning out my Tetris-like pantry entirely)
  • Frequent viewings of Sesame Street led to a habit of laughing like Ernie whenever she thinks she’s done something clever
  • Lately there’s a high interest in using the toilet.  Except she often confuses her consonants, and so calls the “potty” a “cubby.”  And whenever someone else uses the bathroom, she gets possessive.  “MY CUBBY!  MY CUBBY!”
  • Insists on helping fold clothes (usually unfolding whatever I’ve already done)
  • Insists on helping wash floor (usually by spitting water all over the floor first)
  • Insists on helping to re-organize china cabinet (today she dropped a glass goblet into a crystal pitcher.  The goblet broke, but the pitcher’s fine)
  • Went totally ballistic when she saw the merry-go-round during our most recent trip to the zoo.  She got to ride it (see picture, below) but the resulting tantrum when it was time to get off caused my other three children to say, “Mom, I like the zoo, but I think Katie needs to go home.”
  • Asks to snuggle on my lap with a sippy cup while watching My Little Pony.  She does this by grabbing my legs, batting her eyelashes, and asking “A ba-ba?  A pony?  A lap?”
  • is pretty much irresistible.  Thank goodness she takes 3-hour naps.


Katie Turned 2; Here’s the Birthday Party

Woodland animal cupcakes!


Owls, hedgehogs, bears, raccoons.  The hedgehogs were the most popular.  Because sprinkles.

And Aunt Kristen was there!  Grandma was there, too, but somehow wasn’t in any of my pictures.  My latest dithering efforts with the ice cream maker meant we had three kinds of sorbet: meyer lemon, blood orange, and kiwi.  Blood orange was the most popular.  Because blood.


And we didn’t have any birthday candles, so we just used regular candlesticks.  Katie enjoyed this, but when it came time to blow them out, she opened her mouth and SCREAMED.


Yeah, this picture makes it look like her mouth is open in a state of gleeful surprise.  No, she’s shrieking.  This may be my favorite new method to blow out birthday candles.

” . . . biiiiirth-daaaay toooo youuuuuu–”


We gave her a doll for her birthday.  Katie was thrilled enough that she spent a good 15 minutes at bedtime singing it a nonsense-sound lullaby.  D’awwwww.

Eleanor also spent all of dinnertime creating “party stations” upstairs.  There was a station for making paper flowers, one for a beanbag game, one for a puppet show, one for drawing.  She used colored tape on the floor and hung handwritten signs to show where each activity was to take place.  I’d have commended her more if she hadn’t used this project as an excuse to skip dinner (we were eating something she didn’t like).

But: this paper airplane.  How can you stay mad at someone when they make this for their little sister’s birthday?


Belated Birthday . . . Post

A few days ago I realized that I never posted about Jeffrey’s tenth birthday.  I’d apologize and beg your forgiveness, but  . . . really?  It’s a BLOG, who cares?

But I shall say that it was a very fun bowling party.

We even got to go into the maintenance room and SEE THE BOWLING MACHINES.  This is something I’ve always, always wanted to see.  No sarcasm, I swear!

Okay, now I realize that writing “No sarcasm, I swear” sounds MORE sarcastic than not.

Anyway, much fun was had by all, although the boys spent a lot of the time doing this:

Why do I even . . . next time I should scrap the bowling and invest in a couple rolls of quarters instead.    I do understand the lure of vintage video games, I must admit.  They had Killer Instinct II! And Mortal Instinct II!   And Galaga II!  And Pac-Man II: Cruise Control!

Note the black bowling pin in the center of the table.  It was Jeff’s “present” from the bowling alley.  Most of the gift-pins were decorated with felt to look like little clowns or whatever, but Jeff chose the one covered with googly eyes.  My mom suggested that we keep it as a Halloween decoration.  Good idea.

My only complaint is that they didn’t let me bring a homemade cake to the party.  This makes FOUR BIRTHDAYS IN A ROW of store-bought cakes.  *throws self on floor and kicks legs against the carpet while wailing*

Jeff obviously didn’t care about the quality of yon cake.  Rumor has it on the schoolyard is that cake doesn’t taste as crazy-sweet when you join the Double Digit Club.

Fortunately, my boy is just as sweet as ever.  Happy birthday, Jeffrey-Do!

OH — and the bathroom sinks at the bowling alley looked like this:

That is all.

Big Yellow School Bus

School begins late in these parts, so I still feel justified in posting these first-day-of-school pictures.

It’s been a tough transition for everyone — with the jog between our old school district and our new one, the kids had a 15 week summer break.  By the last week, I contracted a head cold brought on, I feel certain, by sheer exhaustion.

Everyone was excited when school began.  The kids were bursting with so much nervous energy that I told them to run laps around our cul-de-sac while waiting for the bus to arrive.

And can I say how jazzed everyone is by the school bus?  Ho boy, this is riding in style.

It’s hard to send little Wimmy off for full-day kindergarten; I miss our one-on-one time in the afternoons.  The transition was a little difficult for him.  For those first few days, he would jump off the bus happy about school, but then begin yelling at me over some random trivial thing (like the color of his water bottle).  He even tearfully told me that kindergarten was “too boring” and he wanted to stay home with me all day.  But I also know that if he was going to half-day school (only 2 hours long, blah) he’d be complaining about being bored at home and missing his siblings, so . . . meh.  These days, he loves school with the same sunny enthusiasm that he loves everything.

Eleanor’s 2nd grade teacher is a dude this year, which is interesting.  She’s happy to be back to doing her favorite subject (math) and very happy to be getting back to her favorite extracurricular activity, creative dance.  (I LOVE the dance school we found for her — small classes, talented kids, and a third of the class is male!).

Meanwhile, Jeffrey is in an oversized 4th grade class this year, but his teacher seems good so far.  And the school psychologist is amazing!  I’ve already had 2 face-to-face meetings with her, and his IEP is rolling forward at lightning speed.  Such a big change from the schools in Salt Lake  . . .

The demographics of our new school are very different from our old one.  There’s a lot more diversity — kids from 37 countries go to this school.  It’s a nice change, but there isn’t as much parent involvement.  I’d say less than half of the families from this school showed up for Curriculum Night.  I wonder if that’s because of cultural/language barriers (parents not being aware of what’s expected) or an inability to attend because of work schedules and transportation issues?  We’ll see how things go from here . . .


The First Month

The moment Brian and I drove our little family through downtown Seattle for the first time — after a long 9-hour drive through eastern Washington and the Snoqualmie Pass — there were two emotional outbursts from the back seat.  Jeffrey became so excited by seeing the boats on Lake Union and Lake Washington that he begged to go “boating” right away; meanwhile, Eleanor burst into tears and continued to sob until we reached our new house.

That pretty much sums up the kids’ different reactions to our new home.  Even though we took a boat ride the very next day after arrival (we rode the water taxi from the waterfront over to West Seattle) Jeffrey still begs for sailing lessons, and carries a Washington State Water Safety pamphlet around from time to time, endlessly reading up on life jackets and signal flags.  Occasionally he wistfully talks about how much he misses his best friend, Win, but otherwise he’s been the same.

Meanwhile, Eleanor has been a nuclear bomb of angry, mouthing-off, screaming and crying Girl Drama.  She hates that we have moved, even though she’s already made better friends here than she had in Salt Lake.  She balks whenever we suggest replacing any of our old furniture.  We recently acquired a new living room couch, which caused her to hide in her room for an hour; replacing the scratched-up television console caused another similar outburst.  Practicing piano has become dreadful — the first day I attempted it, she had to curl up and cry with each song we played, missing her piano teacher so much — and now it’s just known as the Daily Argument.  I hate it, I want my sweet little girl back!  Not this surly teenager-ish waif.

I can only hope that things will improve when school starts.  (Tomorrow!  Yay!)

Already Shoreline House is beginning to feel like home.  Little patterns of our daily life are falling into place: remembering which light switches to turn off, how the windows lock and unlock, only a slight pause at the top of the stairs as I remember which way to turn towards Katie’s room.  (It’s to the left.)

It didn’t feel so homey at first.  Our house had been unoccupied for five months, and the whole place smelled musty.  With no carpets or furniture, our voices echoed too loudly against the walls.  Apparently crows are common backyard birds around here and their caws easily woke us every morning — the first morning we slept here, Jeff and William arose early and ran around the house yelling “squawk!  squawk!  squawk!”  I’ve been homesick, too.  There are things about our house that are great improvements on Retro Acres (such as a lovely dark-colored kitchen floor that hides dirt) and things which are not (no basement!  I’ve never lived in a basement-less house before).

Every now and then I yearn for my old neighborhood, my old routines, like a cultural jet lag.  But it’s getting better.

Hail & Farewell

Just about all my worldly possessions are on a truck right now, heading somewhere to the Great Northwest.  This is it: the Big Move.  Brian and I realized that we’ve been anticipating and worrying about this for an entire year now (it was about this time last year that we found out that it would be unlikely for Brian to get a job in Utah).  I just want to get it over and done with.

We had an open house over the weekend for friends and family to stop by and say farewell.  I took a few photos, but none of them turned out quite right.  So this is what I’m including instead: pictures from my hike in the Albion Basin from two weeks ago.

I had been hoping and hoping that I’d be able to do this hike one more time before leaving, but it was difficult to find the time.  Many, many thanks to my sainted in-laws for making this last-minute trip possible (Kathryn came with me and the big kids, while Randy stayed at home with the baby).

We were extremely fortunate with parking (always difficult on this popular trail).  I LOVE the clear air and the smell of pine trees!  Cecret Lake was lovely as always.  Wildflowers were in abundance, and to cap it off, we saw a moose!  He looked right at us, too.  Moose are some of Wimmy’s favorite animals, so he was especially pleased.

This trail is the essence of what I’m going to truly miss about Utah.  Friends and family?  Yeah, they will also be missed, but we’ll easily keep in touch with those.  Hiking the Wasatch, on the other hand, will be mighty difficult in the near future.

But hey!  Let’s look on the bright side!  Here the things I will not miss about Utah:

Our dreadful white linoleum kitchen floor

The old kitchen stove that takes 30 minutes to boil a pot of water

Winter inversions

Ugly billboards on the freeway

A popular culture that tends toward insular provincialism and faddish trendiness

The Eagle Forum

Having to vacuum the sunroom carpet

Food storage ads featuring BYU basketball stars

A lawn that costs more to water than we can afford

Nasty looks from neighbors who disapprove of our yellowish under-watered lawn

The kids up the street who bully my kids

People who complain that it’s hard to find time to take their kids to Disneyland in the winter because it interferes with the children’s skiing lessons (oh yes, this conversation really happened)

The world’s noisiest dishwasher

All of this: Buh-bye!!

What’s the Opposite of Belated?

I often see greeting cards wishing people a “happy belated birthday,” but no equivalent for celebrating a birthday early.

‘Cause that’s what we did on Saturday.  William is unofficially five years old.  I wanted to squeeze in a party with his buddies before we moved away.

And boy howdy, how my party standards have fallen.  This is the third birthday in a row that I haven’t made the birthday cake myself.  What  . . . what has happened to me???  (Hint: her name begins with K.)

Anyway, William chose the “jungle party” cake from the big book o’ cakes at the grocery store.  I think it was adorable!  William was delighted!  He talked about it nonstop in his Primary class the next day.  And it hardly took any effort on my part!  (Remind me again why I bother making cakes at all?  Okay, I know: because they taste awesome.  But still.)


The rest of the party was “birthday” themed.  We played Pin the Tail on the Donkey using the Eyeore set my mom made for me when I was four . . .

. . . and played Musical Islands (a non-competitive version of Musical Chairs).

At the end, everyone has to crowd onto one “island” together.  It always ups the cuteness ante.

There was also a game where the kids took turns dropping a wooden clothespin into a jar, but alas, no photo evidence of such.

My family has a tradition called “Heavy Heavy Hang Over” when we give birthday presents.  Each person gets to gently “bump” the birthday kid on the head with a present in exchange for a wish.  I loved William’s reactions to various family members’ bumps.

Cousin June
Big Brother
Grandpa N.
Grandpa S.

The present from Brian and I?  A Razor scooter (or, as he puts it, “Lazer scooter”) which William has been asking for since Eleanor got one for her birthday in April.  For whatever Eleanor hath, William wants to hath also.  Or something like that.

Brian Graduates!

Status update from June 6, 2012:

Last night Brian graduated from his residency program!

We ate delicious food at the Grand America and only three people jumped up in the middle of the ceremony to watch the Transit of Venus. Scientists rule.

Just for the record, that’s 4 yrs med school + 3 years Ph.D. + 1 year fellowship + 3 years residency = 11 YEARS OF GRAD SCHOOL. OVER!!

In the interest of full disclosure, I must admit that two of the people who ran out to see the Transit of Venus were me and Brian.  BUT — there was one other scientist who came along and he had his own solar viewers in his shirt pocket.  See?  Brian and I aren’t the nerdiest people in the universe!  We’re obviously in a tie with that guy!

I also have to mention that the food at the Grand America included salmon with a honey-lavender glaze, which was unusual and delicious.

And now: Photo Evidence.