We just got back from Disney World and it was amazing.  There is nothing like seeing your child  bursting with excitement, awe, and pure joy.

Disney World is a magical place where your child’s imagination becomes real life.  One of my favorite moments of our trip was when Kiki and her 6 year-old cousin Jane met Princess Ariel in her Grotto.  You walk into this cool mystical cave and Ariel is sitting in all her mermaid beauty waiting to talk to you.  Kiki and Jane sat next to Ariel and they all just started talking.  Ariel was asking them about their hair and their outfits and all the things they liked to do.  They were just chatting away like old friends.  It was so adorable.  Here’s a sample of what made the interaction so incredible:

Kiki:  Ariel, your tail is really long.

Ariel:  Yes, it is.  Is it longer than you imagined it would be?

Kiki:  It’s way longer than the real Ariel.

Ariel:  Well, I’m the real Ariel.

Kiki:  No, no, no.  I KNOW that.  I mean it’s longer than the Ariel that’s in the Ariel movie I have.

Ariel:  Oh, I see.

After literally five minutes of Kiki and Jane shooting the breeze with Ariel, we tried to tell the girls that it was time to let someone else have a turn.  Ariel quickly brandished our urgings for the girls to wrap it up by saying, “Oh no.  No need to hurry.  We have all the time under the sea.”  Amazing.

Another Disney highlight was Enchanted Tales with Belle.  We were ushered into a room that was decorated like the study from Beauty and the Beast.  Members of the audience were picked to act out a story with Belle and Kiki was chosen to play the Beast.  At the end of the story my daughter, dressed in her Snow White dress, got to dance to Belle.  It was the most touching thing ever.  I had tears in my eyes watching my little girl sway back and forth with Princess Belle.  It was magical.

The funny thing about vacation highlights though is that your highlights are not always the same as someone else’s highlights.  You would think that Kiki’s favorite thing from the trip might also be meeting the princesses or maybe riding all the different rides.  But those were so not Kiki’s favorite things.  My daughter was all about the merchandise.  As you might guess, Disney World is all over the merchandise.  There are stands outside of every ride filled to the brim with Disney toys.  Kiki would beg for us to stop at each and every stand.  She would even pass on going to another attraction in favor of just playing with the stuffed toys.  It was hilarious to us, but she loved it.

For me, Disney World really was the happiest  place on earth.  For my daughter, she may have been just as happy at the Disney Store in the local mall.

No, I’m just kidding.  Kiki did love the merchandise, but now that we’re home she’s not telling people about the toys.  She’s telling them about the rides and about having lunch at Cinderella’s castle.  At bedtime on the night we got back from Disney, Kiki picked up the souvenir 8×10  photo of her and Cinderella at Cinderella’s castle and repeatedly whispered, “I wish I could go back to Disney World.  I wish I could go back to Disney World.”
I’d like to go back too.  But I’ll need at least a couple of years to recover from the exhaustion.



As parents we’re always on the lookout for new milestones… the first time our child rolls over, the first smile, laugh, the first steps they take on shaky legs.  Lately our house has been full of milestones.  This past Saturday LMJ turned one.  One year has passed since Red let me sleep and decided to labor in the bathroom right up until LMJ came knocking with a few moments to spare.  Thankfully we live blocks from the hospital, otherwise she would’ve been born in the car on the way.  Our first child took her time showing up.  She wasn’t quite ready and kept Red in labor for what seemed like an eternity.  Not LMJ, she arrived 18 minutes after we walked through the doors of the hospital with a round face that looked like mine and a tough demeanor that has served her well so far.

Milestones bring reflection, LMJ’s birthday made us think back on a long winding year that started in that hospital room.  Three months.  Three months after she was born, she got sick, and we reeled under the weight of doctors, tests, blood work and scary words I never wanted to look up on google in the first place.  Three months.  Three months is how long it’s been since LMJ has needed neupogen, the life saving drug that told her bones to keep making neutrophils.  Three months since we’ve had to put needles in our child on a regular basis.  Three glorious months.

Three weeks.  It’s been three weeks since LMJ started walking around like it ain’t no thang.  She strolls around the house like she owns the place… determined to access any nook and cranny she’s not supposed to explore.  Those first tentative steps remind you just how fragile and helpless children are, while at the same time signaling both a beginning, and an ending.  She’s not a baby any more.  Babies don’t walk.  Babies don’t saunter into a room and hand you a book to read them.

Three years.  Three years is how old Little Miss is.  Three years going on 20.  Little Miss will be 4 in February, and she’s counting the minutes to her next birthday with eager anticipation.  Much her like mom, LM is a natural communicator.  She was signing at 8 months, and talking shortly thereafter.  She talks day and night, and the questions never, ever stop.  She’s eager to understand everything you say, and everything she hears.  She’s growing up faster than I want (apparently you can’t keep them as children forever), yet I marvel at her cognition and retention. This weekend we took LM on a hike and discovered she’s a rock climber… delightfully scrambling up large challenging rock faces with Mom in tow while I watched and winced.  Our clumsy little day dreamer who makes the princesses talk and asks endless reams of questions is a rock climber.  Red is thrilled.

Ten years.  Ten years ago Red married me in a little church by the shore in Cape May, NJ.  Surrounded by family and friends she agreed to make a life with me and ten years later here we are doing it.  I remember meeting her back when she was still in college, with her beautiful shock of red hair and firecracker attitude that captured my attention.  I remember a life changing moment when she leaned against me at a party after having recently met and she jokingly threw out that we should get married in 5 years, to which I agreed… and then we did.  Ten years.

I don’t always make good decisions (see our lifetime supply of dish detergent).  There are no guarantees in life.  But when I walk down the stairs from my home office at the end of the day, and my two little girls come bounding into my arms with squawks of ‘dada!’ and “are you done working?” … I know I’ve done some things right.

It’s all about the money

We had the chance to go to the World Series on Saturday night.  Our flights were booked, our babysitter (Grandma) had flown to our house, and we had a free place to stay in St. Louis.  The problem?  We didn’t end up getting the free tickets we’d hoped for and so we had to buy our own tickets if we wanted to go.  (And for those of you wondering, we booked flights on Southwest so that we could cancel them and get a credit.)

Well, ONE standing room ticket was going to cost about $400…and we needed two of them…so, $800 minimum.  Add to that the fact that I am not even five foot tall, get cold very easily and have to pee every 1.5-2 hours…I’m not really cut out to stand at a baseball game for 3-4 hours.  So I kind of wanted an actual SEAT.  Now we’re talking $500 for ONE of the WORST seats in the stadium and $1000 total.  Geez.  $1000 is a lot of flippin’ money!  So, in the end, we didn’t go and we got a credit on Southwest that we’ll use to fly to the Jersey shore for our family vacation in July.

But my husband is a huge Red Sox fan and he really, really wanted to go.  He said, “We always find an excuse not to do stuff like this.”  And that’s true, we do.  We try to be very frugal whenever we can because there always seems to be so much we have to spend money on.  We haven’t even done one major repair to our new house and it needs many, MANY major repairs.  We have saved no money for our kids to go to college.  Not one cent.  We are both still paying off some super steep student loans from our own college days.  And on and on and on.  So we don’t tend to do things like go to the World Series when the tickets alone are going to cost a grand.

But there is a part of both of us that knows you only live once and that your whole life could end tomorrow.  I keep thinking about how much salt would be thrown into the wound if something happened to my husband anytime soon.  I would so totally and completely regret our decision to not go.  I would ask myself over and over and over why I didn’t just spend the money (I mean it’s only money, right?).  I would have to live with it forever…and ever and ever.

Deciding what to spend money on and what not to is such a huge, hard decision.  We really want to do something “big” for our ten year anniversary in 2016.  But I also really want to take our girls to Disney sometime in the next two years.  Oh, and P.S., we have to spend thousands of dollars every time we want to see any of our family because we live so far away from them.

I know I’ve kind of rambled my way through this post and I thank you if you’ve read it all the way through!  I guess my point is that we certainly cannot afford to do everything we want to do in this life and I find the picking and choosing to be so incredibly difficult.

All I know is that I’m rooting for the Sox to win the series so I don’t feel so guilty!

3 Minutes of Wisdom

LMJ turned 1 on Saturday!  Happy Birthday to her!  It’s been quite a year and I wish I had longer to write this piece but I literally have 3 minutes, and then 20 minutes to get ready for work.

I made a little speech at LMJ’s first birthday party.  Like this blog, it was short and sweet, thanking the people in the room for all of their help and support this year as well as stating my gratitude for LMJ’s current vibrance and health.  Lastly, I thanked LMJ for teaching me what life is all about in such a short time.  I posted something similar on my FB feed and I would like to share it more in depth.  It, too, is short and sweet.  Here is my life lesson from LMJ:

Slow down.  Spend more time being quiet with the ones you love.  My children and husband are more important than anyone else on Earth to me.  If you need help – ask for it.  There are people who will lend help and won’t judge the asking.  In moments of acute stress or panic stop, breathe and look around you.  Usually, if you are as lucky as me, everything in the moment is OK.

Well, there you have it.  My 3 minutes of wisdom from a one year old.  I’m trying very hard to hold onto it as she grows into a healthy little toddler.



When you throw in a unicorn costume, all bets are off.

When you throw in a unicorn costume, all bets are off.

I was trying to decide on Rose’s Halloween costume and mulled over a few options. And then my oldest sister, who got wind of my conundrum…sent a baby unicorn costume. It is as awesome as it sounds.

I came across some wise advice recently and it immediately came to mind when I opened the package.


Thanks sis!

Heading out to rock it with my very own unicorn and yes, I’m dressed as a rainbow.



It has been over a month since we have moved into this neighborhood and we are finally feeling more settled. Emerson is thankfully passed his transition phase. He loves his school and wants to talk about school every night before he goes to bed. We have also gone on one afternoon play date with one of his school friends.

I have been lamenting to Daddykush that while we met a few neighbors, we almost NEVER see them even though I know there are kids around. I think it’s the “everyone has a backyard” factor. Some of the kids around here are also older so they have school all day. On Saturday afternoon, just as I was leaving with Lemon Cake to a harvest fair nearby, a woman stopped by with her daughter with a plate of chocolate chip cookies as a welcome to the neighborhood gesture. I was so touched and happy. It helps that the chocolate chip cookies are truly excellent. Daddykush has been going on and on about it, making me feel just a tad bit inadequate with my chocolate chip cookies. I found out they have two daughters 4.5 years old and 8 months old and they live across the street a few houses down. We ended up with a spontaneous play date on Sunday afternoon at their home in addition to another neighbor and her 6 years old daughter joining it. It was a blast. They also had a small bouncy house and a brand new swing/slide set in their backyard. Most importantly, we got along with the couple and conversations flowed easily. I look forward to trick or treating in this neighborhood.

I suppose this is not a particularly interesting post. More like an update of our adjustment to new neighborhood. We have started on our two months long basement renovation. I hope it will not be too stressful.

Next week I will try to post about a few fascinating playground observations I made about Lemon Cake!

NY State of Mind

I was driving behind two different cars today that both had New York license plates (one of them also had a big UB sticker on it), and both times a deep feeling of sadness swept over me. In those moments when I was waiting for the light to turn and peering into the NY cars, I just missed home so much. I kind of ached. I often wonder how long I’ll feel this way. The other time in my life when I lived outside of the northeast was when we lived in Seattle for six years and, during that period, I never got over my desire to be back on the east coast. But, at that point, hubby was getting his PhD so I knew that there was an end in sight and that we would most likely move back. I guess I wasn’t that worried about it then.

Fast forward to now. We are going to be here – in Portland – for as long as we can see into the future. Forever? Maybe that’s why it hurts so much. I really wanted to flag down the drivers of both cars today and ask them about their lives. Did they just recently get here (I assume the answer is yes since they don’t have Oregon license plates)? What part of NY are they from? Are they going to be here “forever” too?

I think the hardest thing for me is knowing that my children will grow up and only know themselves as Oregonians. I don’t have anything against people from Oregon, but I’m certainly not one, and I don’t know that I’ll ever feel like one. And yet both my girls will have no memory of ever living anywhere else. We moved here when my oldest was two and a half and my younger daughter was only 3 weeks old. They will grow up here and all of their friends will be here and they’ll probably want to go to an Oregon college and they won’t think anything of it. Will I long for NY that whole time? Will it ever feel like my roots are here? I know I may sound massively over dramatic, but I feel like someone very close to me has passed away and I mourn for them everyday. And some days are better than others, for sure. And the more time that passes, the less it stings, but I’m just not sure I’ll ever get over it.  I guess you can take the girl out of NY but you can’t take NY out of the girl.