Sunday, March 30, 2008

The Conservatory

Now that most of our pressing house projects are off our plates, we decided to do something fun together this weekend! And with the weather continuing to be so cold, it had to be an indoors fun thing. And preferably a free fun thing. We decided on a trip to the Volunteer Park Conservatory.

The conservatory is made up of several connected glass houses and each has it's own temperature, humidity, and collection of exotic plants which makes the whole place feel like a field trip to another land. There's the palm house with it's jungle-like feel, the seasonal house which is always full of lots of color and flowers in bloom that I often recognize from local gardens, the desert house, the bromeliad house, and my favorite, the fern house.

The air in the fern house is heavy and warm and it has a grotto. Actually I think they call it a bog, but there's a an area in the middle that is dark and cave-like with plants tumbling down into pools of water. There's even a little waterfall. And the plants here are huge and strange. If you ever visit Seattle, you should check it out. Here are a few photos:

There's Beck and the entrance. It was built in 1912 and modeled after London's Crystal Palace.

Inside the seasonal house.

The boys saw this giant orange when we first walked in. Beck shouted, "A big apple!" and ran straight toward it. It was probably some kind of rare specimen or something and I noticed a few visitors looking on with alarm. I turned on the good mom routine and shouted for him to stop even though I had to chuckle to myself at the whole scene. And I knew he wouldn't touch it!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Bloggy Business

Just wanted to mention that I've changed my link lists. My agency sent out an alarming message about blogging and the importance of not revealing any identifying information. I'm not sure if it's an urban legend or what, but I heard that a family lost their referral and any chance of ever adopting from Ethiopia in the future because of posting photos and other details about their referral before a successful court date. And with that scary news almost all CHI bloggers (that's Children's House International, mind you) closed their doors. Well, all but a few that I know of! If there are others lurking out there that have blogs, I'd love to hear from you!

I've added a few links I enjoy reading of other families in the same process, but working through other agencies.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Weather Report

I hate to interrupt, but have you looked outside? It's snowing! It's March 28th and it's snowing. Unbelievable.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

From Albert

I don't quite agree with uninvited, but I like the rest of it!

"Our situation on this earth seems strange. Every one of us appears here involuntarily and uninvited, for a short stay, without knowing why. For me it is enough to wonder at the secrets."

-Albert Einstein

New Toy

If you ever buy Play Foam, don't expect the colors to stay separated for more than the first 2 minutes. I knew I wasn't being very child-centered at the time, but today when the boys and I sat down to our new set of play foam blocks my obsessive side got the best of me. I just wanted to keep the colors separate - the little blocks are so clean and organized and the pastel colors so true when you first peel off the cellophane wrappers. Even Beck said he didn't want to mix the colors, but Yogi did. At first it was just the blue and white. And I decided that since it was only two colors I would try to separate them out again. I worked painstakingly for 40 minutes (40 minutes!) and I barely made progress. And while I was doing it, Yogi had the green and pink all smashed together. Listen to me. Just mix them up and get it over with.

Oh, and the pictures on the package make it look like you can create anything with the stuff. Not true! Before we even opened the package the boys were asking if we could make front loaders or fighting dinosaurs. The best we came up with were snakes. But they did enjoy sticking gobs of it on their faces as beards and mustaches and they spent a lot of time loading up their trucks and burying their hot wheels in it. They also crammed it down a paper tube and spent a lot of time trying to get it back out.

On the bright side, it's very clean, easy to pick up, and kept the boys occupied for more than an hour.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Island Solace

Yesterday we had a lucky break in the weather; it was actually sunny so we decided to take an excursion over to Vashon Island. After lunch at the Hardware Store and a quick stop for lattes at the Monkey Tree we headed for Jensen Point.(For those of you who check out the map, Jensen Point is on the tip of the Burton Peninsula.) And there each of us scattered to do our own beach work. Ed and I took photos, the boys played in a fort they found and also tried to scramble up a dirt bank. Melanie took it all in and remarked several times at how peaceful it was.

Vashon has always been special to me. Both sets of grandparents lived there so we visited regularly and made some of the best memories of my childhood -- whole days spent on the beach - hunting for baby sand dollars and agates, setting up house amidst the boulders on the edge, watching the tide pull out and slide in - noticing the rhythms and the pulse of the place. Later in college I spent my summers working on the island at Camp Sealth which holds its own set of special memories for me.

Yesterday we had a lucky break in the weather; it was actually sunny so we decided to take an excursion over to Vashon Island.

What We Keep

I just finished What We Keep by Elizabeth Berg and I can heartily recommend it.It was poignant - and as always with Elizabeth Berg, beautifully written.

Sunday, March 23, 2008


What a wonderful
day! No one in the village
doing anything.


A spark in the sun,
this tiny flower has roots deep in the cool earth.

Harry Behn

It is nice to read
news that our spring rain also
visited your town.


The Relatives

Our brother and sister-in-law are visiting for Easter and we're having a blast! The boys just love having relatives visit and they are so loving towards their Auntie and Uncle. It's very cute! Yogi even went downstairs and wanted to climb into bed with them the other morning. Here are a few photos.

Playing with balloon rockets in the park.

Auntie and Yogi, Beck and me.

The final burst of an underdog on the swing.

Friday, March 21, 2008

What I Miss

Yesterday I read in the paper that age 40 "is the magical benchmark that separates young and wannabe-young." And since I'll be 39 (honestly!) in just a few weeks these words made me pause. It's not that I really mind the physical aspects of aging yet;it's that I miss some of my life as a younger person - a 20-something person. And you know what I miss the most? Laughing. I was just thinking the other day that I don't have any big laughs any more. I can even remember the last few times I had the kind of laughing fit that makes your stomach cramp and eyes water. It was when I worked at a residential summer camp each summer during college. The campers were crazy, the staff was crazy, and we had nothing better to do than find life funny. Don't get me wrong; I still find things humorous, but I just don't find myself falling apart laughing like I once did.

The mostly complete list of what I miss about being 10 years younger than I am now:

1. Laughing
2. Time
3. The Big Unknowns (All the big questions that filled me with angst at the time, but were also exciting and fun to think about like: What career? Who to marry? Where to live? Kids?)
4. Skiing
5. Being creative
6. Summer break - to work in National Parks, at camp, travel, classes in cool places

Wednesday, March 19, 2008


"On the deepest level, there is no giver, no gift, and no recipient...only the universe rearranging itself."

Jon Kabat-Zinn

The Gemini

You know what I want?


And a generous wedge of yellow cake with fudge frosting and a book. Right now.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Adoption Update

Well, our agency finally followed up after that email I got a few weeks ago titled "Referral Packets". This time we got the regular Ethiopia Update newsletter saying that if we haven't heard from them, then we are not getting a referral at this time and that we have moved up on the list. Of course, this makes me wonder where exactly we are on the list, but we've been told not to ask. So, to sum it all up: we have no news! New referrals should come in a few weeks to a month, so maybe we'll get our referral then, or maybe we'll just move up on the list again. I'll let you know when it happens!

The newsletter also made it very clear that all of us in the Ethiopia program are not allowed to share any identifying information about a child we get as a referral. This means once we get matched with a baby we can't share photos or her given name or any identifying information at all until we have a successful court date and she legally becomes ours. I still plan to share our process. After all these months of blogging about nothing, it will be nice to have some real news, don't you think?!


Yogi had a serious asthma episode this weekend. We were up most of the night on Saturday and in the emergency room for eight hours yesterday. After a lot of discussion with the doctors we were allowed to leave for the night last night with the agreement that we give him puffs every four hours and take him to the pediatrician today. Whew, I am exhausted.

At least Beck had fun! He had his first ever sleep-over at my parents' house so we could concentrate on Yogi. And it sounds like he did great!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Caulk Fight

I'm not sure where they got this, but my boys love guns right now. We don't have guns, don't approve of guns, and tell the kids constantly that guns kill people, but nonetheless they are fascinated. Beck tries to make it ok by telling us that his guns have "rescue bullets" in them and when I say "his guns", I mean the pencil or stick or other pointy object he has in his hand. Yogi prefers his own pointer finger.

The other day I took the boys to a roofing supply store to pick up a few scuppers. As we walked into the store they both ran over to a big display of caulk and immediately armed themselves with two tubes each. And then they started their "shoot-out". They ducked behind displays and then popped out with the caulk pointed at the other and made little air burst noises for the bullets. While I tried to complete my transaction with the sour clerk I noticed she seemed annoyed with all three of us. Finally I had my scuppers and it was time to leave and the clerk walked over to the boys.

"Put the caulk down and step away from the display," she growled.

All she needed to do was flip her badge and ask the boys to put their hands in the air and she would've made their day...a real shoot out complete with the sheriff!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

On Location

Hello! Here I am on location at my parents' cabin. I snuck away while the boys float their little wooden boats on the stream with their grampa. The sky:clearest blue studded with clouds, the air: impossibly crisp and fresh, the landscape: tawny dry grasses bending in the wind, bright evergreens, dark mountains low in the distance under heavy caps of clouds, the water in the harbor rough from the wind. What is it with this place? Is the air just that much cleaner here than in the city? We left yesterday for a spur of the moment trip since our stairs were being refinished and I didn't want the boys to breath in all the outgassing.

So then. Let's catch up first! My "weekend improvement plan"? Well, it didn't work out exactly as I had planned. Basically I just had more time to work on other house projects. Thanks to my parents the basement is almost finished. We're so close now. I've actually started on our next big project: the backyard. Now that we're getting close to the end - the end of a 5 year project that has consumed us, I've thought a little about our decision to buy a mid-century fixer-upper, get married, and start our family all at the same time. It's been challenging. We're tired.

And last, but not least, I want to note that today I finally sent in my letter of resignation to my school district. This is the same school district where I attended school k-12, did my student teaching, and started my career 17 years ago. Really for the first time since I was 5 years old (not counting the first 3 years of college)I'm not connected to the Edmonds School Disctrit. And you know what? It feels good!

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Just Up

My international adoption book suggests cleaning out all of your closets while you wait for your referral so that you:

1. keep busy and productive - maintain a sense of accomplishment and
2. get things cleaned up now since you won't have time after your baby arrives

I'm working my way through the hall closet now and found this in a bag of papers that accumulated during one of our remodels. Before I file it away I thought I'd share it.

Just Up

When we awaken there is a moment
before we remember
the burdens we bear,
that yesterday we lost or won
a fortune or a battle or a love
or that today we must go
to work or to court or to hospital
or we have nowhere to go,
before we start piecing together
who we have been or who we will be,
and in that moment we are simply
consciousness, sensation,
appetite not yet linked to
memory or will.
I like the way we are
in that naked moment
before we are defined,
in that briefest moment
before we don ourselves.

-Steven Barza

Friday, March 7, 2008


And just when I got last week's dried vomit brushed off of my Keens, I get hit again! The grand finale to Yogi's long lasting cold was a terrible ear infection that lead to vomiting - once on me at the doctor's office and all over his bed the second time. Poor guy! Hopefully he's on the mend now.

Well, I'd stay and chat, but I have a new "weekend improvement strategy". Basically I'm trying to get all of the once-a-week cleaning chores accomplished today so that I'm not so busy over the weekend and we have a better time as a family. And why is working like a house slave better on Fridays than Saturdays you ask? Because I have this expectation that weekends are going to be easier and more relaxing and therefore more fun than a normal weekday. And I'm tired of being disappointed. It's worth a try.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

A Flurry of Comments

Well, that was fun! If I had known that Juice Plus would stir up a record-breaking number of comments (for Homecake), I would've mentioned it sooner! Hey, where are all the comments for book recommendations? Thanks goes to my sister in law for her participation because at this point, I need a good book way more than Juice Plus.

I mentioned Elizabeth Berg in the comments section of the post asking for reading suggestions. If you haven't read her, you should. She's very consistent and a pleasure to read. I really like a lot of her stuff, but what stands out for me are her coming of age novels - especially True to Form.

And another great book that I can easily recommend - especially to stay-at-home moms or dads or anyone with young children in their life - is Believing It All: What my children taught me about trout fishing, jelly toast, and life by Marc Parent. This is a beautiful book of sweet essays. Just trust me and get yourself a copy so you can pass it on to a friend when you're finished.

Ok, that's it for tonight. Now it's your turn!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

100 Books

I picked up a flyer at the library the other day listing the 100 books that every child should hear before going to school. I checked off about 2/3 of them already. I don't really like all the books on this list, but I think it'll be fun to work our way through it. Besides, it's good to share with kids why some books don't work for you.

I think there may be at least one other mom of preschool aged children who might read this post so this is for you! :)

Help, I need a new book!

Last night I finished the third book in the six book Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon. Here is my very brief take on the first three books:

Outlander: Part bodice ripper, part time travel, part historical fiction, a page turner and great start to a big adventure.How could any woman not fall in love with Jamie Fraser?!

Dragonfly in Ashes: More historical fiction and much less bodice ripper. I enjoyed it, but definitely skimmed some of the 700+ pages.

Voyager: Maybe my favorite of the three. Heavy on adventure with lots of unexpected twists and turns.

I think I'll take a break before I dive into the last three. Any suggestions for a great read?

Monday, March 3, 2008

Library Trip

Today the boys and I took our weekly trip to the library. Besides our giant library bag full of books, both boys chose something special that they wanted to carry around and keep with them in the car on the way home. Beck selected Smash and Crash (a book about two trucks) and Yogi chose Easy Cut-Up Cakes for Kids which he saw on a shelf as we walked by. I think it's so cute how much he likes this book. He showed it to everyone and paged through the whole thing several times. But the funny thing is, it's a great book! I think it would make a perfect baby shower gift because there are so many cute ideas for birthday parties, holidays, and seasonal celebrations.

Good Morning Granola

Over Christmas break my sister in law passed on You On a Diet and I'm trying to incorporate Dr. Oz's ideas into my life. Of course, with our remodel and the boys, things move at glacial speed around here, but I'm happy to report some modest progress. Actually, I think I've gained a little weight since Christmas, but I'm eating healthier and am developing an exercise routine. So far that amounts to a 30 minute brisk walk each night and I'm trying to add one floor exercise a week starting with abs. And this week, I added supplements to my regime: multi-vitamin, vitamin D3, and fish oil. My doctor also suggested I add Juice Plus, but I don't have any of that yet.

Part of my plan is to eat breakfast every day - something that I have mostly stopped doing since having children. And finally I get to the part that I actually wanted to share with you: a granola recipe my sister gave me! I made it this past weekend and it's easy and delicious. Try it!

Good Morning Granola

Combine following in a roasting pan or large broiler pan:
8 cups raw oatmeal
4 cups walnuts - chopped or coarsely ground
2 cups wheat germ

Add to grains:
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup boiling water

Stir into above:
1/2 cup canola oil

Bake at 200 degrees F until desired doneness (about 2 hours)

Sunday, March 2, 2008


Chris learned a new photoshop trick called "Fake Miniatures". This is an actual photo of the Seattle ferry that he manipulated to look like a miniature. Isn't it cute?

Beck on our field


When I lived in Bozeman, Montana I had a friend who was an English professor at Montana State University. About once season she held a gathering at her house where all of the guests came prepared to share a bit of literature, poetry, or even perform a musical instrument. I remember one guy even sharing some love letters he'd received! She set it up as a potluck and called it a "reading night", but really the more appropriate term (and more fun!) is salon. So, I've been thinking that I'd like to hold a salon in our house this month. Doesn't that sound like fun? Let's see:

postcard invitations
the menu (a light nosh?, wine and cheese?, a sumptuous dessert?)
prepare a piece on my guitar
select a Music Together song the boys know for group participation

I'm already excited!