Sunday, December 13, 2009

It's Not Officially Christmas Until..

..someone cries at the tree farm.

Fortunately, he was quick to recover. And proclaim every single tree in the forest "Perfect!"

Ultimately, it was time to be done. The nearest tree became the perfect tree, and was chopped and hauled to our home.. the Pied Piper of Grand Firs leading his merry minions back to the truck with the siren song of hot cocoa and ginger snap cookies waiting at home.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Testing, testing, 1..2..3

Just making sure this thing still works. Feeling a bit creaky, almost forgot my password, but we're back in business.

Can you tell I've got a bazillion things to do to prepare for our Thanksgiving departure tomorrow? I'm desperately procrastinating on all the packing decisions that need to be made, laundry that needs to be tended to, facebook updates that must be read, etc.

Come on over..cinnamon rolls are the oven, I'm about to start a craft project with the boys, and I'll probably come up with some other monumental distractions.

Or, maybe I'll just post the pictures that I've been neglecting for the past two months on here.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

What A Difference A Bus Ride Makes

Max on his first day of Kindergarten, feeling a wee bit nervous and silly.
At the bus stop, the boys and I had a little snuggle before Max climbed onto the bus and bravely waved goodbye.

But here he is, all grins and accomplishment after he got off the bus at the end of a long and memorable day. And look! He remembered his sweatshirt! So proud!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Ready Or Not..Here We Come!

Max will soon be waking and getting himself ready for his first day of Kindergarten. He's excited, anxious, and very ready for this new transition.

I tucked the very getsited Max into bed last night and his little body was a mess of wiggly dinosaur fleece and story-time anticipation. I snuggled up next to him on his bed and we listened to music in the dark and tried to find stillness.

I thought of all the attributes of Max's that I love and strive to bring more of into my own life: his sense of humor, his enormous heart and compassion, and his irrepressible curiosity and wonder. He will love school and the joys that are ahead.

I'm just a little sad that the apron strings are being loosened a bit today. This new joyful adventure will be one that he discovers without me giving him the high-fives, good-job-hugs and laughter that we both find so satisfying throughout the day. I will miss his giggles and wonder and curiosity, and especially his enormous hugs and smiles.

Now it will be Max's chance to filter out his day and share the highs and lows with us with the benefit of past-tense. High-fives and hugs will be delayed until the tail lights on the bus blink and we trudge back up the dirt road together.

He is ready for this. He will shine.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Morning At The Monkey Ranch

Our new camera arrived this week to replace its worn and weary predecessor who has opted to no longer point nor shoot. As soon as my new toy was out of the box I took these photos. I love how they reflect the peaceful (albeit rare) moments around here when the boys are engrossed in their world and I in mine.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Summer Nights

This is what I'm gonna remember come February when I haven't seen the sun for 93 straight days and the lawn is too wet to walk on, let alone lay down and dream upon:

I'll remember this ordinary, yet magical, night when the boys came home from swim lessons and launched their new foam rockets with the force of air and laughter and joy.

I'll remember how they burst over and through the ripe blackberries with the fuel of giggles and cheers, smelling of summer's magical mixture of pool chemicals and fresh tomato sauce. I'll remember how Summer serenaded us with birds in the woods and speedboats on The Sound.

I will remember the far-away laughs of neighborhood children and the nearby tackles and songs of my Monkeyboys launching their rocket ships to the heavens as they aimed for the nearest cloud.

And I'll remember how we all seemed to sense that nights like this were going to end soon as the days grow cooler, damper and darker and school and responsibility creep upon us. And I'll remember how, on this ordinary and yet magical night, we all wished that we could have this feeling forever.

Freedom's Just Another Word For Nothing Left To Lose

Among Sam's many charms and endearments is the adorable way that he says his age, "My Free" and holds up five fingers.

Our little "free"dom rider has been in quite a state of three this week. He's been defiant, objectionable and veeerrrrryyyy whiny. Part of this may be attributed to the lack of sleep he's been getting as he's transitioned to a "big boy bed" and has been staying up very late reading and playing. He's also been deprived of his normal nap ritual this week due to some scheduling craziness surrounding his brother's sports camp. Sensing that he really needed some quality sleep last night, I put Sam to bed back in his crib and watched him fall into peaceful slumber faster than you could say "Meltdown at Target".

He awoke this morning and yelled from his crib "Mommy! Get me out of here! Right now!", then proceeded to kick me and wiggle out of my arms whining about how he didn't want to be carried. Charming. Clearly, he wants some independence and to be a big boy, and yet, sometimes, he's all about being the baby.

This attitude continued this morning as I made the wrong breakfast, put his bowl down at the wrong chair and did, in general, all the wrong things. I made it clear I didn't appreciate the way he was acting. Then, he brought me over to the fridge and asked me to pick him up and talk about the picture of me and my Grandpa Ralph on the horse.

He asked if it was him and his Grandpa. When I told him (for the umpteenth millionth time) that no, it was me when I was a baby , he said oh so sweetly..."When you whined?"

I smiled and hugged my impressive little man. Yes, Sam, that one time that I whined. That one time that I felt conflicted and confused and not quite right in my skin. That one time that I didn't quite know who I was or how to act or why people were expecting so much of me. That one time that I was learning all sorts of new vocabulary and trying to figure out a new schedule and just really wanted to hug somebody all the time but also felt like I needed to act like I didn't need a hug all the time.

Kind of like that one time when my first child started Kindergarten. Kind of like that time when I have to start thinking about putting the kid who cheers for firetrucks! and cement mixers! and garbage trucks! onto a school bus while praying that he gets from my hugging and high-five-ing arms into the arms of someone else who will love him, understand him and honor him as much as we do. Kind of like learning about late-start Wednesdays and manipulative math curriculum and literacy boxes and lunch boxes and peanut free zones and filling out a field trip permission slip for the child who still can't even make a trip to the bathroom without some parental assistance.

Kind of like that time that I whined.

Freedom, Sam. It's not *just* another word for nothing left to lose, as Janice Joplin said. It's a little about loss, and also a little about something to gain. Like more time to spend with your sweet little face...

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


Last month we took a little family road trip to see my in-laws and their adored farm. Along the way we drove through an eternity of forests and mountains; following long, wide highways with pull-outs perfect for viewing volcanic destruction or for disciplining small children, depending on your needs. We also traveled on the treacherous dirt roads normally driven by the Forest Service and logging trucks. "Roads" that bump and haul their way up and down winding, steep passes while jostling the minivan's suspension and sloshing my vertigous stomach juices. It's never a good sign when your vacation involves focusing on the horizon while telling everyone in the car to stop talking; especially if they are under the age of five.

Fortunately, some technology saint invented this cure for road-weary travelers:

On our travels, we even drove by to catch a closer glimpse of Mt. Rainier, whose majestic white tip is visible from where we live. Each day, the boys eagerly await the moment when we cross the bridge to see if they can be the first to spot it or if it's hidden by the clouds. Locals refer to a day when she's visible as "The Mountain is Out"; but in the getsited way that Max enjoys abbreviation and contraction, he has come to simply calling it, "Outin'".

It was certainly "Outin" from up there.

We stopped for a picnic and our ever-present travel buddy offered up his interpretation of the National Park:
These Happy Campers were far more interested in the pic-a-nic basket.

And asking the age-old question on the meaning of life and true existentialism... "Are we there yet?"

Yes, boys. I think we're right where we need to be.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

One Stitch, Two Stitch, Red Fish, Blue Fish

I'll admit that I've been enjoying sewing recently, but I really wasn't a big fan of yesterday's new stitch.

On the back of Max's head.

Thankfully, Grandpa Tom was able to take us to Urgent Care where he gave us some moral support and even some bonus commentary on Le Tour de France.

He also snapped a photo while we waited for the analgesic to take effect.

Nothing like a little bump in the road (or head) to make me realize how fast it can all go downhill, and how grateful I am for my pit crew. Thanks Mom and Dad.

Now, where did we put that helmet?

Friday, July 10, 2009

Great Balls of Fire

Once again, our home is buzzing with getsitement in anticipation of a summertime visit from my folks who are estimated to arrive tomorrow. Max and Sam are bouncing off the newly painted walls (thank you, Mr. "Mellow Yellow" Wonderful). The boys are digging out all the toys that they CAN'T WAIT to show Bubbi and speculating on how much fun they'll have watching "Cars" with Grandpa Tom.

The total self-absorption that defines this stage of child development matches perfectly with my parents' cross-generational adoration and delight in playing with their grandchildren; even if it's the same toy/movie/book played/watched/read a thousand times before on previous visits. Fresh and new is not what it's about.

It's not about scheduling an itinerary of activities to keep us busy and connected through similar experience; those days will come when we have teenagers with acne and ipods and attitude. Right now we have two little snuggle bunnies who want nothing more than to jump and run and show new tricks to an adoring audience. They can't wait to find a loving lap to snuggle on and someone who will read to them about sharks, or dinosaurs or Tow Mater without saying "Ok, I gotta get moving here guys, times up..."

This is what it's all about.

After having lost my own grandmother this Spring, I am especially nostalgic for that remarkable, unconditional grandparental love. I know how lucky our kids are to have this unique and rewarding relationship; and also how lucky I am to have the support of two sets of parents who think their grandkids are pretty special. This kind of love will build us up and stand long after the seeds we sow have been harvested, long after the lego towers have been knocked down or the sand castles washed away.


So, here's our itinerary for the next week: Lots of snuggles and books and playing trains and racecars. Lots of walks in the woods, along the beach, and down the dirt road. And, of course, a bit of dirt digging and planting seeds with Grandpa.

Dirt under the fingernails and hugs around the knees. THAT's what summertime is all about. Ooooh, and some of these great seedballs, too...

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Bed shmed

Big boy beds are highly over-rated; the floor works just fine and is actually Sammy's preferred locale for catching some zzzzzzs.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Piston (the) Cup

Sam has been a diligent and dedicated potty learner (Oh Lord, yes, I am really posting about this) who tolerates our eager Getsitement over his voiding accomplishments with mild disdain. Giving what is clearly the toddler equivalent of an adolescent eye roll, he waves me away from the bathroom after I place him on his thrown with a request for "Primacy, please". We are admonished to "No clapping" and there is a great deal of modesty about the accomplishments and newly acquired undergarments. He doesn't quite have the hang of anticipating how the plumbing all works - which I'm sure will come later - but he's doing a great job of making regular pit stops.

Right now we're staying focused on the fundamentals..keeping the race car dry and being reassured that life does indeed go on when we have to stop the fun and run to the bathroom. In order to keep things dry and happy we've been setting the timer for every 30 minutes to remind him (and me) to take a trip into the bathroom.

Consequently, we are a house full of interruption and crazy energy as I madly try to wrap things up in tidy 30 minute windows before the kitchen timer forces us to huddle in the powder room. This has resulted in dry underpants (yay!), constant interruption (boo!) and keeping our eyes on the independence of diapers (yay yay!). It has also resulted in some veeeerrrryyyy loooooonnnnggg days as we hang out around the house rinsing out odorous, wet underwear while waiting for the timer to ding! This rhythmic shift of constantly having our self-imposed exile and total boredom interrupted by the kitchen timer calling us to the bathroom is aggravating for all members of the household. Much to Max's disappointment, there are never freshly baked cookies when that dinger goes off...just a fast dash to the home of the poopy prize.

Fortunately, Sam's a lot like his dad and is pretty easy to reward with small amounts of chocolate. We're big fans of the miniature M&M's, which he has affectionately termed "Chocowit baby gum" as a reward for making a show at the porcelain racetrack. Today I even looked up to see if I could order some Cars M&Ms and was delighted to find that yes, you can get everything ever imagined off of these here internets.

When placing the photo on here to share with all of you, I noticed the photo's title: DISNEY_CAR_lentils.jpg

With those colors, I can see why the good people in Bangalore who are working diligently on the website for Mars North America might be confused and assume that us crazy Americans are buying lentils with pictures of a rusty tow-truck on them.


Sunday, July 5, 2009

Beach Boys

We celebrated the 4th at a friend's beach house and enjoyed an amazing afternoon that transformed into a mystical full moon evening. The boys played in the sand, moved water from buckets, built sand castles, snuck cookies and paddled in the frigid waters of Puget Sound.

Sam demonstrates his patience and determination by delivering water via net. Once again - despite my suggestions to use a bucket - I learn from Sammy that the joy is in the process and not the finished product. This little guy has so much to teach me.

Sam practices sand dives while his Daddy and Max paddle out to the water slide.

Later, as the hot blazes of a glaring mid-Summer sun began to set, we took a magic boat ride. This gave me ample opportunity to cuddle and nuzzle with pudgy arms and thighs that were slippery with SPF and smelled of salt and sun and sandy goodness.

Sam's cheers of "Faster! Faster!" were surprising and delightful to all of us.

Summer...I adore you!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Independence Day

Operation Queen Car Underwear is officially underway at the Monkey Ranch.

While at the park with a friend yesterday, Sam decided that he was done with this messy diaper business and snuck into the woods, removed his diaper from beneath his pants, and handed me his diaper while proclaiming that he wants to wear underwear. Always.

Fire up the washing machine, load up on poopy prizes, and here we go! Here's to independence!

Real Live Nephew of Uncle Sam

Happy Fourth of July!

Max, age 3 months
What a firecracker!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The Song Always Ends Too Soon

Words I will *never* tire of hearing...

"Mommy...come dance with us!"

Why yes, Freddy Mercury, you are correct. It most certainly is a Crazy Little Thing Called Love.


On Max's last day of preschool, his teacher led the class out to the school's Friendship Garden to release little butterflies that had transformed in the weeks before the school year ended. It was magical to witness the little insects fly for the first time after being caged in net. The children and parents had followed their amazing transformation from caterpillar to chrysalis to butterfly inside of a classroom full of screaming and curious banshees.

Max was mesmerized and quiet during the entire process, and in this rare opportunity for stillness, one even landed on his red shirt. He stayed very calm until it flew off, and then he cheered that little butterfly's journey as if it's soaring arches were powered by the sheer getsitement of Max's jumps.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Shark Camp

I'm a veritable machine of efficiency this afternoon as I enjoy the first quiet moments in my house in over two weeks. Sam took a nap (bless you, dear boy) and Max got packed off to "Shark Camp" at the local zoo for the afternoon. Two hours of Nirvana and accomplishment for me.

The quiet stillness coupled with the ability to complete a phone call or task (of which there are many) without someone crying, bleeding, sneezing or fighting is positively motivating. Which is why I'm logged onto this here Internets.

Alright already, Laundry. I hear you whimpering down there.

Photos taken at the Maritime Festival earlier this month.
Video of trout gut removal to follow at a later date.