Wednesday, May 6, 2015


I'm almost through my first year of my 40's. Last summer, I turned 40. I've never been one to care about age before, wondering why my step-mom always joked she was 39.

But turning 40 threw me for a loop.

Who cares, really? Its just a number. A few months before my 40th, as I stood in front of two sales clerks in their 20's (or younger?!) asking for shoe advice, it hit me like it never has before. The looks on their youthful faces spoke volumes.

As we get older, our age horizon expands, no longer pigeon-holing each person we come across into their stereotypical age bracket: when we are teenagers, everyone over 20 is simply old and therefore un-cool. In our 20's, anyone over 30 must be stiff and conservative. In our 30's, well, we start to figure out that age doesn't necessarily define a person. In my early 30's, I found myself spending my lunch hour working out with a friend in her 50's. We enjoyed each other's company, and the age differential was simply fuel for our introspective discussions. She had a son entering college; I hadn't yet meandered into the world of parenthood. She is one of the reasons I became a mother.

But I had forgotten that to those young sales clerks, I am an alien. I am, perhaps, the same age as their own mothers, which puts me in a different category, and certainly not one to chat with about trends in footwear.

I thought about it as I drove home, and felt ashamed at even worrying about it. I should be proud and grateful of my 40+ years on this earth. I had childhood adventures that molded me into a well-rounded person. I embraced high school with all its delicate social nuances. In my late teens and early 20's, I dipped my toes in the craziness of unencumbered youth. I successfully navigated college life and got my degree from a well respected school. I experienced the broken heart that is a requisite for successful future relationships. I traveled to a variety of places around the world and gained perspective that cannot come from TV or books. I was swept away by the love of my life and got married. I have a career that I love. I have two happy, healthy little girls. I've got 14 years of a solid, happy marriage under my belt. I have truly good friends and a supportive, loving family.

Unlike most of my friends that opted to throw big parties or go on elaborate trips to celebrate, I spent my 40th birthday quietly, with my mom and my daughters. I decided to commemorate the day with a ride on the Giant Dipper, one of the oldest wooden roller coasters in the world. Something that someone youthful would do! Apropos of my age, I grumbled at the cost, $6 per person, enjoyed seeing my daughters' excitement at being tall enough to ride the BIG coaster, but definitely felt my age at the 55 mph trip on the jarring, uneven wooden tracks...
taken before the ride

Of course, I don't feel any different being 40. But the awareness is there, and sometimes I am reminded of my age. Like when I took the girls roller skating and while skating circles on the wooden floor with them, it occurred to me that I was the only person over 35 not sitting on the sidelines.

Today, grabbing a few groceries at Target, a gaggle of teenage girls stood talking loudly in front of the milk cooler. A woman a few years older than me and I stood patiently waiting for them to move on. One of them told their friends, "these ladies are waiting!" I looked over at my comrade in age and whispered, "we're the ladies". We both laughed and I said, "I'd rather be that than a teenager". And I meant it.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

To The Moon And Back

"...witnessing the growth and evolution of a child is exquisite. To love and be loved unconditionally is both like being encased in protective armor, and also like having it shatter daily, because it’s the most tender, vulnerable skin you’ll ever wear." - Rachel Turiel 

Tangled was the first movie my girls ever saw in a theater. They sat mesmerized, legs sticking straight out, like miniature movie reviewers glued to the screen, with enormous 3D glasses perched atop their button notes. When Rapunzel responds to Mother Gotham's "I love you" with "I love you more", Mother Gotham, although a witch and a kidnapper, completes the quaint back and forth with, "I love you most". Now the girls say the same to me. 

In the book "Guess How Much I Love You", Little Nutbrown Hare and Big Nutbrown Hare outdo one another trying to describe how much they love each other ending with "I love you right up to the moon - and back". The girls play a game to compete with me to come up with the biggest distance with which to measure our love. To the moon and back isn't even close.   

Lastnight I read them a story called "My Most Precious Thing" about a mom whose daughter tries to guess what her mom's best memory is via a scrapbook documenting her mom's life. They love the end, when the mom tells her daughter that her most precious thing was holding her for the first time. 

After the book was over, Jaeda said to me, "you and daddy and sister are my most precious thing". Tristyn agreed. As I closed the door to their bedroom, repeating "go to sleep" like a broken record, both of their faces turned towards me, they both stated, in their unique ways, that I was their most precious thing. And even when they had babies, I would still be their most precious thing.   

Rachel's quote about being loved unconditionally by our children made my realize how lucky I am to be the recipient of this love that bursts from their souls in such a pure way. 
My little movie goers

Saturday, April 27, 2013


I began this post in January. Almost half-way through the year, and I'm finally getting around to posting my Welcome to 2013 thoughts. Here's why.

As I look back on 2012, I feel as though it was the year of downsizing. I had the distinct goal of making my life smaller, in the sense that I wanted to focus on my family and my home. I alluded to this in this post last February.

You know that feeling of being stretched too thin? Pulled in too many directions? Yeah, that's how I was feeling at the end of 2011.

I'm striving for simplicity. What's important in my life? My kids, my husband, my family and friends. That's it. The rest are just possessions, and those don't love us back.

I scaled back on social media - I relinquished my volunteer position as Twitter coordinator for Postpartum Support International of Washington. I rarely post on Facebook and I quit my fashion blog. Because, what started as a light-hearted outlet to express one of my hobbies became something different - I started to feel the need to Keep Up With The Jones', or in the fashion blog world, Kendi. On this blog, I posted exactly 6 times in 2012, compared to a few times a month in 2011. My dad always says (in jest), "I post, therefore I am" regarding the frenzy of social media postings. I don't need to tell the world that I'm doing laundry in order to feel validated. All I need is the love of my family and friends. And oh, the hugs from those two little girls.

Lately, I'm big on perspective. When our completely decorated, HUGE Christmas tree crashed onto the coffee table, obliterating glass ornaments and creating a mess of pine needles and tiny spiders all over my living room, my girls were practically overwrought with anxiety. I hugged them and told them the only thing that is important is that we are OK. And I believed it. Yes, it was a mess to clean up, but I want them to focus on the big picture...

In 2012, I drove 16 hours with two spirited 4 year olds to see my "baby" cousin and his new wife celebrate their wedding. I traveled with my dad to visit family in Ohio, and I cherished every moment with my aunts, uncles, cousins, and my 94 year old grandmother. I celebrated my step-mom's birthday lounging at a Russian Spa with her and my step-sister. I celebrated 12 years of camping with our closest friends, who have become like family. I reminisced with old friends at my 20 year high school reunion. I took my daughters to visit my mom for a week in August. I attempted quality time with my mom friends during Friday play dates. And I hugged and kissed my daughters every single day.

The horrific shootings at Sandy Hook brought it all home for me. I wept looking at those earnest faces of the children, the same ages as my daughters. As with many mothers, I'm sure, those 2 words still make my heart quiver with pain... The pain I felt validated that I am on the right path, so long as my children and my family are my biggest priority, and my possessions are just that; possessions.

The company I work for is moving our office and as I was packing up my desk, I came across a book called The Little Book of Calm. I noticed that a page was marked. When I turned to the page, it read: "S I M P L I F Y: The fewer things you must do in life, the fewer things you own, manage or are responsible for, the fewer are the stresses that accompany them".

I don't remember marking that page, but it would seem that my subconscious does.

This was our Christmas card photo. Family + Mini-golf + ice-cream = the perfect day. 

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Sleeping Synchronicity

I love to take pictures of the girls sleeping. Oh, their innocent little faces! Arms splayed in that wanton, youthful fashion that disappears as we age.

they are anti pajamas, can you tell? 

They remained happily in their cribs until they were 4. When most parents are contemplating toddler beds (I shuddered at the thought), my husband constructed the perfect, escape-free obstacle in the form of a long, narrow board drilled above the drop-side of each crib, at such an angle to prevent little climbers from escaping, much in the same way that barbed-wire fences are slanted at the top of a prison yard.

When they were old enough to need to use the bathroom in the middle of the night, we simply dropped the sides so they could climb over and out. We put an ottoman near each crib to use as a sturdy platform to get out safely and easily.

Finally, when their beanpole bodies took up too much space in the cribs, we put 2 foam mattresses side by side on the floor. Their room was too small for this arrangement, but we all sort of loved it. We could spread out, read books and more importantly, I could stealthily escape after they closed their eyes.

During my nightly check-in, I would often see them in the same position, or mirroring each other, such as in the picture above. Sometimes it was downright uncanny, as though a whimsical twin fairy appeared to rearrange their limbs just so. 

Around their 5th birthday, we decided bunk beds would be the most efficient use of space in their small bedroom, and besides, what kid doesn't love bunk beds? I worried they would argue about who got the top, but it wasn't a problem - Tristyn chose the top and Jaeda happily took the bottom. It has changed a few times, but the drama has been minimal, much to my surprise. Plus, the twin mattresses are still big enough for them to sleep together if they can't decide. 

They do tend to stay up and giggle or talk if they sleep on the same level, so I have mostly discouraged it, but lately, they are both on the bottom bunk in the morning about 75% of the time. (Why they don't sleep together on the top is beyond me. For some reason, they prefer the bottom.) 

Usually they are my reliable alarm clocks, two loquacious little girls discussing god-knows-what in their bathroom, which shares a wall with my bedroom.

But on one recent morning, I found them splayed in that twin fashion, Tristyn's head within an inch of Jaeda's spasmodic feet, and attempted to rouse them, with no result. I decided to let them sleep a while longer while I showered and when I returned, they hadn't moved. I cooed good morning salutations to them, feeling bad for having to wake them. Nothing! I sat on the edge of the bed to wait and contemplated my next move. Suddenly, apropos of nothing, with impressive identical twin you-wouldn't-believe-it-unless-you-were-there synchronicity, they both raised their heads at the Exact. Same. Moment.

Tonight, as I was wedged between the wall and the mattress of the bottom bunk bed, with Jaeda grinding her teeth next to me, and Tristyn's legs twitching between us, I schemed at how to maneuver myself carefully out of the bed without waking either of them and risk being reprimanded for leaving. (Do they really think I'm going to sleep there all night?)

As I stared up at the wood slats supporting the top mattress, I thought about how it feels like yesterday when they were chubby little babies and in the blink of an eye they will be moody teenagers, and I reminded myself to just Be.

"And when the night is cloudy there is still a light that shines on me... Shine until tomorrow, let it be" - The Beatles 

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Morning Routine

I've always prided myself on being low-maintenance. To this day, I can be showered and ready - presentable even - in 15 minutes flat. My husband never complains that his wife takes too long to get ready. And it was always me waiting on my friends to finish their silly hair and makeup rituals before going out.

Just as with 99% of life's normalcies, having babies changed things. Take getting ready in the morning. When I started back to to work at 8 weeks postpartum, my morning routine went from 20 minutes to two and a half hours: Besides showering and dressing myself, I had two babies to tend to. Diaper and dress. Breastfeed the squeaky-wheel  infant while the other one waited patiently (ha ha) in her crib. Pump opposite side (yes, while nursing).

Rinse and repeat.

Pack their "lunch". Six carefully prepared bottles, measured to the exact milliliter.

Pack the diaper bag (see list) and re-supply portable breast pump for use in my office.

Strap both babies into car seats and lug them out to car, making sure not to forget my purse, their lunch, diaper bag, breast pump and keys.

After dropping the babies at daycare and an hour commute to work, I was exhausted before my day even started!

Now? I awake to their sisterly bickering outside my bedroom door. Sometimes, they will stand by my bedside and pester me by tickling my feet or touching my face. They take my warm place in the bed and I turn on Dora the Explorer and hop in the shower. As soon as I hear Dora signing that irritating "We did it" tune, I click the TV off and they scamper to their bedroom to get dressed and brush their teeth and hair.

Assuming no bumps in the road, we can be out the door in 30 minutes flat. The daycare feeds them breakfast and I grab a coffee at my local espresso stand before hitting the road and eat yogurt and fruit at my desk.

Of course, getting to this routine took blood, sweat and tears to perfect. Lots of tears. Encouraging two grumpy toddlers to get dressed while attempting to get myself presentable for work was not always easy, and I ended up practically in tears myself while arriving late at the office many more times that I can count.

I can laugh at this video now, but I can tell by the tone in my voice that this was one of those mornings...

Sorry for the sideways video! Obviously, I had more important things on my mind.

Thursday, June 7, 2012


While filling out doctor forms for Jaeda & Tristyn's 5 year wellness check, I contemplated how to describe the exercise the girls get. Inside our house. Let's face it - we live in the soggy (and very often, cold) Pacific Northwest, and I'm not the most outdoorsy person (as my favorite comedian, Jim Gaffigan would say; I'm "indoorsy") so we find ways to expend some of that childhood energy inside the house. As it just so happens, the bottom floor of our house makes for a great running track.

The other night, while engrossed in a spirited game of monster, I chased them in circles around the house, stopping only when they begged to rest and drink water. I removed my socks for better traction and continued the pursuit.

After thoroughly tiring myself out, (which meant they still had loads of energy) I stole away up the stairs to the quiet sanctity of my craft table.

A few minutes later, Colin came upstairs to report that there was blood "all over the carpet" downstairs. HUH? We tried to figure out where it could have possibly come from until I looked down at my own feet and whaddya know? The chair mat (and partially the carpet) under my big toe was a pool of blood. And true to the report, there were smeared blood stains All. Over. The. Carpet.

Growing up, there were four of us teenagers in a small mobile home. We used to rough house so much that we'd put holes in the walls. Literally. We called it the cardboard house.

Our house has certainly suffered under the proverbial weight of children, but blood stains all over the carpet trumps spilled formula on the couch or vomit soaked into a mattress.

I'm constantly reminding myself to live in the moment with my children instead of stressing out about the condition of my house.

I want my girls to remember their mom letting loose and having fun with them, not worrying about messes. I can do that after they've gone to bed.


Does this count as exercise?

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Sign of The Times

Before I had kids, I expressed the fear that many of my childless friends shared - the worry that we would bring a child/children into this cruel, over populated world full of hatred, crime and evil. Especially after 9/11.

A world with homelessness, starvation, child abuse and cancer. Teenage pregnancy, Jersey Shore and  MTV reality shows that glorify despicable behavior.

But from their precarious first moments of life, they have benefited from the age we live in.

The advances in healthcare - from the sophisticated gadgets in the NICU to the nasal spray flu vaccine.

They can talk to their grandma face to face, despite the fact that she is 1,000 miles away.

They have the internet, where knowledge and images, no matter how esoteric, are just a click away.

Velcro on shoes. Elastic bands on sleeping bags instead of those maddening nylon ties. TV that can be paused for a potty break.

But, more than all that, they also live in a world where a woman's vote means just as much as a man's. And where women can aspire to be doctors, engineers or professors.

My girls have entered that delicious stage where they are piecing together the knowledge they have gathered into the jigsaw puzzle of life.

While watching The Smurfs Movie and I mentioned that the actor (Neil Patrick Harris) and his husband have twins too! Tristyn hesitantly corrected me by saying, "Husband? That's a man." To which I responded, "Yes, he has a husband. Remember that song about Two Daddies and *Two Mommies?" She stared at me for a second (I could almost see the wheels turning), nodded her head and filed it away in her little knowledge box.

The other night, snuggled up in their beds after reading books, we talked about what they did in pre-school that day. They learned about George Washington! I asked a few follow up questions and then asked them if they knew who the president was today. Jaeda thought for a second before proudly bursting out with the answer, "Barack Obama"!

It isn't relevant to them that he is the first African American president. And I love that.

Reaping the benefits of modern medical technology @ 2 days old. Their first time side by side (outside of the womb) 

This post was inspired by Kim of Baby Feet.

*From the album A Cow Says Moock, by Alastair Moock. It is awesome - buy it now.
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