Friday, October 06, 2017

Silas 4.5

The things that Silas says. Oh my. Where do I even start?

“Puke Brothers”
Silas is prone to exaggeration with his health. A microscopic scratch renders him paralyzed. Hypochondriac at all? But with this one, Leif had been pukey feeling, so I wasn’t taking my chances.

Silas: “MOM! I need water or I am going to puke!”
Me: “Silas we are in the car I don’t think I have anything.”
(I found a random water bottle with old water, it was the closest I could get.)
Silas (after guzzling it): “Oh that’s better. The puke brothers said, ‘come on, let’s go back to the stomach, we don’t need to leave his throat now’.”

Ever since Silas was a baby he has been a sweaty kid. He would wake up from nap, drenched. He could never wear fleece footy jammies because he would get too hot. But he doesn’t say “I am sweaty.” He says, “I am sweat”. Like this.

Silas: “Mom, I am so sweat.”
Me: “Well you should take your jacket off at school and not wear it in class. Then you wouldn’t get sweaty.”
Silas: “No, I didn’t say I was sweaty, I said I AM sweat.”

Me: “Silas, I love you to the moon and back!”
Silas: “Oh yeah, well I love you 159.”
(That would be the highest number he knows, so it is the most in the world... it used to be 23 just a few weeks ago.)

Me: “Silas, would you please quiet down, you are being SO loud!”
Silas: “What? You want me to be loud? Let me go get a friend and I will be even more loud,” (Suddenly increasing his voice volume.)
This kid doesn’t miss a beat. I guess you would have to know that this is from Mouse Soup. One of his favorite books. But I cannot tell him he is being too loud anymore as we get into this long routine whereby he just keeps getting louder.

Silas wants Siri to NOT call him April when he talks to her on my phone. So he tells her to call him (me, really), something new.
Silas: “Siri, call me ‘Silas again’.”
Siri changes my name to “Silas again” - everything says “Silas again”.
Yesterday Skadi changed it to her name. Well that was short lived. Silas snatched my phone and changed it again.

Except this morning I woke up to learn that I am now “Starlord”. Leif officially believes that Silas is a genius.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Bye September

Something about the changing weather invigorates me. I find the energy that I knew I had once, several months ago, and my drive returns. September is always a good goal month for me. I did crank it out this month.

My one goal was to figure out something with photos. I have so many photos on my phone and I did recently sign up for Google Photos as another stop gap for the "what if I lost them" feeling. But that didn't fully cut it. One of my sister's and my favorite things when we were a kid was sitting down and flipping through our old sticky, magnetic photo albums. We loved flipping through the pages of memories. My parents had some old ones - paper ones with corners on the photos, that were there too from the time before we were born. But we rarely looked at those because WE - the center of attention in the house - were not in them.

This is a bit similar to our house. I have albums upon albums of 11 years of our joint lives before children. Every once in awhile one of them gets pulled out - our wedding, or look at the monkeys we saw in Costa Rica, or the bears at Katmai National Park, and it inevitably migrates to look how skinny dad was and how young mom was! We have an album of Leif as a baby I think. Back when we thought we were so busy. But apparently I wasn't busy enough not to do a photo album.

Then I did some photo books. That was always kind of nice because I could print off a few of those as gifts. But then life smacked us in the face and there was no longer time to organize the digital photos and caption them electronically either. I have managed an occasional album here and there - focused on single events - like Disneyworld trip #2 or Disney cruise and Disney trip #3. But the photos are slapped into a themed album and called good.

I have been using Instagram since Silas was about 4 weeks old. And I have used it pretty consistently, so I thought my easiest, low hanging fruit solution would be something that prints my feed. And Chatbooks is so far easy. An app on my phone that continuously uploads my Instagram feed into volumes. I go through the volumes and pull the dumb photos, the food photos (well most of them), and they print up 60 page hard bound small books. I have enough photos for 25 of the books so far... so it isn't an inexpensive deal. I am buying 5 volumes a month, which means in another 4 months or so I will have my last 4.5 years of important photos in hard bound books.

The quality is alright. I wasn't blown away, but he photos are there, available to be handled and loved and laughed at. And someday if I want, I can reprint or create custom books for each of the kids.

It works for now. I am inspired to continue posting to my Instagram. And my September goals is done.

And because it is fall now and my motivation has returned I also accomplished a boat load around the house this month. Because I feel better when I can document my accomplishments, well here they are:

  • Cleaned, purged, and organized our linen closet.
  • Cleaned, purged, and organized our medicine closet. 
  • Cleaned, purged, and organized the linen closet in the boys' bathroom. 
  • Cleaned, purged, and organized Silas' bathroom
  • Cleaned, purged, and organized the laundry room. Ugh. You have no idea on that one. Apparently it has just been neglected since we moved in. But I organized and threw away a ton of stuff, scrubbed the floors and walls, relocated a bunch of stuff from my medicine closet (second linen closet in the master) that the kids and everyone comes to our room to retrieve (Kleenex, toilet paper, wet wipes, etc.) to the shelves in there. I am now very happy with that space. I dream of painting it... but I don't fantasize about making it happen yet. 
  • Patched and painted a massively dinged up wall in my front stairway. Then relocated a few pictures there. 
  • Patched and painted a messy, dinged up small hallway between my kitchen, pantry, and dining room. It needed it so badly. 
  • And then since I had a nice clean freshly painted hallway, but measurements from 2 of my 3 kids were now gone, I pilfered a really nice board from AB's stash and made a giant ruler thing, then sealed it, hung it, and moved over all my kids' height measurements from their growth records and the walls. Now I have a beautiful board with a boatload of interesting data! I LOVE it. 
  • And last today - I cleaned out my pantry. 
See - - really pretty amazing for one month. I also worked on my plans for my October - November - and probably December project. The playroom reno- which will be the next blog post.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Counting Down...

The signs of the weather changing are there. The evenings are cooler - in the mountains this weekend they were downright cold. School is starting (7th, 5th, and last year of preschool). My pumpkins in the garden are starting to turn orange. The garden is overflowing with yumminess. Fantasy football is spinning up.

My absolute favorite time of the year. I am pretty sure I say it every year - I used to despise summer the way many people around here complain about snow. I love snow. I want to live around it more. This last snowy year was fabulous in my book. But anyways, summer is my 4th favorite season - but despite that, I don't hate it anymore. I don't like the heat (neither does AB, probably even more so than me). But since moving to the Pacific Northwest 15 years ago I have found a summer I can go with. The days are longer, the super hot days are shorter lived. The summers in the Pacific Northwest are yummier than anywhere else I have lived (except for the RibFest in Reno, and Palisade Peaches and Corn in Colorado).

I can't wait. I love the football season weather, the cool nights, the Indian summer warm days, the food, the Holidays and watching my kids anticipate the upcoming holidays. I'll take it.

So I always take a break from my goals in the summer. I didn't write about them much last spring - just no time. (Even right now I am sitting near a squealing 4yo, after I moved from a room where he was rough housing.) But I did work them and succeed in redecorating our bedroom.

So here it is.

September Goals:
1. Figure out my photos. Create a plan. I miss having photos in hand, but don't have time for sorting, printing, putting in albums, or photo books. I have recently come across some subscription services that print your Instagram feed monthly for a fee. That's where most of my "good" photos. This might meet my need.
2. Plan the "Playroom Transition". We are taking the kids' play space that Skadi no longer uses, filled with toys that no one plays with, and transitioning to a teen space. Skadi and I are doing this together and have been pinning many ideas. She even saw some chairs she liked recently at camp and went to the director and asked where she got the chairs. Then promptly forgot. But I loved that she is thinking about this and excited to make this transition.

October Goals:
1. Start the Playroom Transition. This may be a two month thing... and actually the completely finished date may be Christmas time since some of the upgrades (new TV, game system) will likely be gifts.

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Community Part 2

So Community part 2. It's only taken me three or so weeks to finalize this post. But I have another hour in an airport until my flight boards, so here I am!

I thought I should say that there are different levels of community that I am referring to throughout. I hope that it is clear from context which I am speaking about. Part 1 I discussed my community as my City and my neighborhood. The things that make AB and I say "this place, this location where I am residing is not right". 

I have heard people in passing over the past few weeks reference "community" and my ears always perk up. It's my current fixation I suppose - what does community mean, what makes one good or bad, what do I want in a community, and how do I get there? 

I pulled out of my driveway one morning this past week and there was a City vehicle with someone in it sitting in front of my house. Again. The stress that this is causing me is ridiculous. I ran through the list in a note to AB - the dogs are locked up and not barking (weren't barking this morning, I have read what a nuisance dog barking violation is and our dogs aren't it, and the animal control agrees, we don't have that and then they thanked us for choosing rescue dogs), the yard was just fully trimmed and there are no weeds or plants extending onto the sidewalks, the trailer is parked within guidelines and has moved several times in the last few weeks and will be taken out in one week. All within City regs. What is it now? 

Then another day, I drive up my street and see an older woman photographing my buses. Why? Because it was extending onto the sidewalk by 3 inches? Or am I just paranoid and she liked the bush. Somehow I suspect it the former when I parked and went to the front yard and she turned around and walked away and wouldn't speak with me.

I tell myself it is just nosy, cranky, mean, busy bodies. I can hope that the city vehicle was there to investigate the many reports of speeding up and down our street? But my guess is not. They are loathe to deal with anything that is ACTUALLY a documented issue. 

I have taken a new and strong interest in our current City Council election. AB even managed to utter the words that I should run someday. Yeah no, politics is NOT my thing. But I am spending these couple of days researching each individual who has put his/her hat into the ring. I am not confident much would change, but it is reassuring to see that several people have identified the issue of "the city is NOT listening to the residents".

I know, I am a professional and I don't always listen to the general public either. There is just so much depth to the issues that people who read the internet for their source of news just do.not.get. There is never enough money, wheels are already in motion that are hard to stop, etc., etc. I guess I think the difference between them and me is that I can counter the arguments with facts. The city's only response to me is that 75% of the vehicles driving on my street are not going 35 mph or more (10 mph over the speed limit). According to their little machine that they conveniently set at intersections and next to corners. 

I told AB the other day in the midst of tears that I am done. I want to move. He said that another neighborhood probably has similar issues. I replied that I don't want another neighborhood. I want to be in the boondocks where nothing that I do is going to bother anyone. Where I don't feel rage when I see a city vehicle on my street or someone on my street photographing. 

Anyways... how can this one aspect of where I reside and pay taxes cause me so much stress? When I have other aspects of community that I love? The community I am talking about here is my work. I am so lucky that everyday when I drop off my kids I get to go somewhere where I feel appreciated, helpful, viewed as a resource, people are kind to each other... And that for both AB and I is part of our light. 

I spent some time recently with my mom's brother and his wife. They raised their girls and had a great one career family in Casper, Wyoming. They hated Casper. I recall when he went to medical school and his raving about how it would be a cold day in hell before he returned there. But he did, he married, had a family, raised my cousins, and then left. Ran fast and hard and (as he told me the other day) will never ever go back now. He said though, that despite his hatred of the place, it had awesome schools, his kids were away from many influences that young kids shouldn't have to deal with, he made a good living, and they made lifelong friends. And that's what is important. 

This is calming my frayed nerves and my desire to box up my house and leave. I have those things (mostly*). I need to calm my heels, enjoy what we do have, count our blessings, and pray to God that I live to see the age that I will get to retire and run fast and hard from here. My mom didn't get that blessing of retiring and starting the next phase, and I hold a deep fear in my heart of the same fate. 

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Community - Part One

A friend recently posted (ok, several months ago) on Facebook a tribute of sorts that has been rolling around in my head and occasionally out of my mouth to AB. Her tribute to the wonderful community we reside in. How loved she feels by the community, what a great place to raise her kids, how much there is to offer here, etc. 

I am so so so happy she has this. But I can't help wondering where she lives? It can't possibly be just a few miles from me, can it?  I live in a different place. When I read her post, my eyes immediately jumped up to the header to make sure it was that person posting and not someone in some far distant realm - was this really about MY community? Someone thinks my community rocks? What the? I am obviously missing something. 

It's no secret on this blog that AB and I don't have a fondness for this region and we agree that it probably stems from both of us, separately, growing up in what we remember as really wonderful and special spots. I think about it and wonder what my kids will take away from growing up here? Maybe some of the same as I had as a kid growing up... 

So that I can get this out of the way first, I am going to list the positives I see with living here. Then we will move on to my complaints: 

  • We can escape to nature, to the mountains, easily. 
  • We have the cabin on the Sound that we spend time at every summer and the kids LOVE that. 
  • Access to a couple big cities (Seattle and Portland) and a smaller one (Spokane)
  • Growing up with great farmer's markets (wonder if my kids see that as a bonus? I certainly do.) I didn't have produce when I was a kid. It was red "delicious" apples (it's no wonder I despised apples growing up), bananas, and navel oranges.
  • Schools closing for a few inches of snow. Lots of snow days in 2017!
  • Going out in the trailer - playing games in the trailer, campfires, snuggling on the tiny couch to watch movies. 
  • Skiing at local ski resorts - ok, it's not the champagne powder I grew up on. But I have learned to adjust as a skier. 
  • Going to Canada and exploring hot springs as a family. Experiencing newness and exploring as a family.
  • The ability to travel. (This is a big one, having good jobs enables us to do big vacations.)
  • The play house and zipline in the backyard, dad building things in the yard and them helping. 
  • Schools and teachers really are pretty dang good. I have a few issues with the school district and specific instances with teachers, but they are one offs - we have some truly fabulous educators and a community that is always willing to invest in education. I have lived places where the opposite is true.
It's awesome, right? I am giving my kids a great childhood. I mean really, what is my problem? 

When I was a kid I was always going to return to the places I lived. I had no intention of living elsewhere. (I do now, you couldn't force me back to live in Colorado or Wyoming.) But my kids? Leif plans to live in Seattle (or any big city), and Skadi intends to move to Alaska or Canada. Neither of my older two want to live here as adults. And further, they both ask to move on a reasonably regular basis. Skadi asks why we can't go live in Alaska with the rest of AB's family and Leif thinks I should seriously pursue that offer from my place of employment to place me offsite in Florida, or any one of the other reasonable offsite positions available. 

Now my list of complaints: 
  • My neighborhood. I hate my neighborhood. Friends in other neighborhoods have neighborly type interactions and forge awesome relationships. I get to deal with complaints to the city on us from our "neighbors" several times a year. One of the reasons we chose this neighborhood was because there was no HOA. We could park our trailer/boats/RVs on our property within city guidance (no we don't have all those). No annoying oversight. Wrong. Because of our "neighbors" the city is spending significant efforts (time and money) issuing me (and I think others) notices of violation that aren't really a big deal or actually within violation. Example, our trailer is parked on our property. When we put our RV pad in we confirmed location and compliance with the city. I have a letter from the city indicating we are in compliance. But that doesn't stop neighbors from calling the city, complaining, the City issuing a violation (sight unseen), me having to call the city, send them photos of the location (because they cannot set foot on our property to measure), remind them this is an ongoing issue with a cranky neighbor, and the city to use time and resources to (once again) clear the complaint. It isn't just the trailer. It's the foliage - if one of my trees dangles a branch on the sidewalk, the city is notified. If my dog is in the front yard off leash, the city is notified. The city, the animal control, others have come to know me and many apologize when I phone or they show up at my door. Moving has become a serious thought from us - but we always said if we move it won't be within this region. It will be to leave here. 
  • The City Council is a joke - they ask the community to vote on issues, but do whatever they want in the end. Why waste my time requesting input? The city's lack of responsiveness to observed issues and how they deal with issues (see above). But wait... I thought you said they were overbearing, right? Yes, I did above. They don't properly respond, they don't tell the "neighbors" to stop filing dumb ass complaints. But they also don't listen to the real issues. Like speeding through our neighborhoods. Like the ridiculous traffic situations that SHOULD NOT BE for a town this size. 
  • The region is ugly. I am sorry, I don't find desert beautiful. Actually, that's not true, I actually like New Mexico, but that's real desert, not this cheet grass infected vast nothingness area. And our local "mountain"? HA! (I know, this is dumb, the "community" has nothing to do with this.) Ok, sunsets can be amazing here. That's it. 
  • Lack of family nearby. (Not a fault of the region, but people don't even really want to come see us.)
  • Nature at its best is hours away. Negative aspect - HOURS. 
  • Chains, chains, and more chains. Chain restaurants. WTF. And we don't even get good chains at that.
  • The road system. Seriously, we are a small city and our roads are disasters. (See above again - a city thing).
  • Lack of quality physicians (though we do have access to Seattle and Spokane)
Ok, it isn't all negative. There are some good items for us, but sometimes it feels as though the days when the good doesn't always outweigh the bad are on the rise. What keeps us here then? 

  • Good jobs and happiness in my job
  • Job satisfaction. I am at a place right now where I LOVE my job. Things are going really well and I have the flexibility our family needs.
  • Good school system - see above. 
  • Continuous community investment in schools (though schoools aren't yet fully funded as they are supposed to be)
  • Cost of living is reasonable
I have lived in this region longer than I have lived anywhere in my life. I can honestly say that I don't have a physical place that I call home. I call my family and my house, home. First and foremost, my family is home, wherever they are is home. But AB will always call Alaska home. Washington will never be his true home. This connection to somewhere is something I am kind of jealous of. 

I wonder if it is my own head that refuses to wrap around this city as my home? Or a love of this community? AB and I are presently not huge community involved sorts at this point in our lives. A lot of the reason for that is that we are really, really busy. Work and running everyone everywhere keeps me crazy busy. There are things I would love to do, but I have no time. You may note that this is Part One - I have a Part Two rolling around in my head, nearly ready to go on record. But not just quite yet... 

Sunday, June 04, 2017

Four and a bit more

Now Silas is four. Isn't there a poem or something that starts that way? Actually he has been four for two months now.

We have had some pretty miraculous changes on his part in last two months. One day he realized he was now four, and that means he is a big boy and that he was going to behave like one. This has resulted in a huge change in him at daycare and at home. All changes that have been very welcome. Being kicked out of daycare is no longer an everyday concern. Now that said I am still counting down the weeks until he leaves daycare and gets to attend public school.

I am thrust into the new generation of parents through daycare and thus work - several of the younger people I work with have their first child at the same daycare. And I see myself 12 years ago. And then I see how very differently I view things now. I want to tell them that THIS daycare, this particular beacon of light in your world? Not the be all end all and not in control. You are.

I would rate Silas' daycare at about a 6 out of 10. His lead teacher is tired (one of the few who was there when my older kids were), prefers he not be there more than absolutely necessary, isn't pushing academics (though he is showing great interest at home). The second teacher is wary, a bit cranky given she isn't even a year on the job, not her ideal job, doesn't smile much. But she is nice and has some fun ideas. The third teachers - are the amazing ones. But they are still new with aspirations and dreams of making a difference in a kids eyes. And, they do. Silas adores every single "third" teacher he has had over the last year. (There has been several...)

Silas... he is a very different kid as compared to the other two. He looks like them and the similarities stop there.

1. Silas eats everything. He discovered lettuce in the garden yesterday and devoured much of it. He can't wait for the carrots to pop up. He tried daikon yesterday and didn't like it, but was able to tell us why he didn't like it, "it spiced my tongue too much". Leif is emerging from his picky stage. Skadi is beyond hope - though she DID eat a single strawberry on her own accord last weekend. Silas has moments of picky, but for the most part he eats what we put in front of him particularly if it is a simply prepared fruit or veggie. His down side? Where we start really questioning his being a Carman? He doesn't like fish. I mean WTF? Never in my life would I have thought that I would have a child that didn't like fish.

2. Silas loves books. Thank you, thank you, thank you. He likes to read, he will pick up a book and flip through it and "read" to himself. Working hard to ensure this is a quality that stays with him.

3. Inquisitive. "Mom, how do you spell [insert long word or phrase]." Ok, so all my kids were inquisitive, but I don't recall any of my other two asking me how to spell something until the point they were writing for school. Some kids ask "why" incessantly? Not Silas, he wants everything spelled for him. (Weird... though I do recall quizzing my babysitters on whether they could spell Wyoming...)

4. Third child. My first two never said, "stupid". I just heard Silas say "stupid" twice while typing - regarding my hair dryer. I guess I am like his first teacher at school. My desire to fight his using the word stupid is waning. He watches cartoons and movies I am positive I never let my older two watch at this age... but it is freaking HARD to keep him separate from the other two when they are watching their shows. Silas has a play date today. Probably his first official play date. I invited the other boy to come over and knowing the parents a bit (knew the dad as a student intern ages ago and we have worked in similar spheres since), I suggested they drop him off and go have lunch or have an afternoon together. The boys will just play here! No dice, lol. He and his mom are coming over for the play date. Now my friends and I also did this, but it also usually involved a cocktail. Do I offer her a cocktail? Or a glass of wine? Or does that just further call into question my abilities? Silas is a pretty solo kid, he is king of imaginary play, hangs with his big sister a lot, runs the backyard by himself. I am suddenly freaking out and trying to recall how helicopter-ish I may or may not have been with Leif. Would I have been outside with him hovering over his play at 4? Oh this play date suggestion may have been a horrible idea.

5. Stats... I will have to add this in later this week after his well child... See bullet #4.  I will say though that I just bought him a bunch of size 4 clothes and was wishing I would have bought 5's.

6. Activities. Silas is chomping at the bit to do every organized activity. He starts piano lessons tomorrow. I am skeptical... but Leif's teacher wanted to try a new toddler piano program with Silas because he is very musically oriented (this teacher? The first Silas has had who sees his "genius", lol! Maybe for that I will pay him?? He probably tells all parents this...). Leif quit piano this month, and I felt a little guilty and would love to have a pianist in the family. So I bought the program and we will see if it works. Silas has suddenly excelled at swimming and AB said the other day that his teacher talked about skipping the next level with him and putting him in Level 3. We will see. He starts soccer in a few weeks - totally excited for that. And he is begging to start Tae Kwon Do with his dad and brother too. Trying to figure out how we are going to fit everything in.

All in all, Silas is an amazing and wonderful kid. He is smart, funny, expressive, and brings a huge amount of joy to the entire rest of the family. Can't imagine a world without him!

Friday, May 19, 2017

Logistics and stuff

I have been blogging. A lot. In my imagination as well as on various platforms. I have blog posts started, some finished, many in my head, but somehow they don't make it here. I wish there was a decent app that I could open and blog, offline, and set to post when I am back online. But it doesn't exist. I am never on my home PC anymore. Never. One of the kids is always on it and I am too busy. But I have my iPad ready handy many times.

Anyways, I have e-mails written to myself. I have posts written on my iPad. I am going to try and get them all pulled together and posted over the next few weeks. AB is headed to Alaska, then he gets back and I go on travel again back to Albuquerque. I am hoping to have some time where I can sit and get things caught up here because I have been in a real funk lately.

Blogging used to help me see things straight. I miss writing a lot. I have had a lot of tears lately and while AB has been good about helping me through some part of me feels as though if I had this outlet active, I might have less frustrations and hurts? Maybe not. But I'll try.