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Wednesday, January 14, 2015


At 3am this morning, Kayliana started yelling urgently, "Mommy! Mommy! MOMMY!!!"  I rushed in to her room to see what the problem was.

"What?!" I panted half-asleep and also a little alarmed with the urgency with which she'd been yelling.

As calmly as could be, she said, "I love you so much."  Like this is a totally normal thing to scream for at 3am.

I half-chuckled-groaned and responded, "I love you so much too, but let's not yell at 3am to tell me that, k?  Let's have you go potty since we're up."  I toss back her blankets and my hand hits something kinda hard.  Huh?

On top of her footy pajamas, Kayli was wearing the still-too-big-but-she's-desperate-to-wear-them pair of pink cheetah-print boots she'd received as a birthday present.  Also, perfectly normal at 3am on Wednesdays, apparently.  (For the record, she hadn't been wearing them when I'd put her to bed.)

My mom has told me the story of when I was four and had gotten a pair of shiny black Mary Janes.  When she tucked me in for bed that night, something told her to take a peek and, sure enough, I was sporting my new shoes in bed.  Like mother, like daughter.

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

2015, here we come!

Christmas has come and gone.  New Year’s is over.  I’m still kind of in denial though.  The Martin home has yet to be de-Christmasified.  But that’s allowed – it’s just Epiphany today!  I’ll probably slowly start tomorrow, but honestly, for some reason, this year, I did NOT get my fill of Christmas music and magic.  I may keep on keepin’ on with the music for a while yet.

We had a good Christmas.  I think maybe my expectations (as often happens) made it a bit of a letdown though.  Last year was so horrible (seeing as my dad had died just a month previous).  Obviously this year was better than that, but it still wasn’t totally awesome.  The kids – well, the two younger of the three – were insanely cranky.  Like terrible grumpy aliens took over their bodies cranky.  I don’t know what was going on there.  It’s hard not to let that start to get you down.  You want to scream, “It’s Christmas, for crying out loud! BE MERRY!!!”

Post Christmas, things did look up.  Mike and I took my mom to see, “A Christmas Story, the Musical” at the 5th Ave Theater.  It’s my parents’ all time fave Christmas movie (they even received a leg lamp one year that my brother had made).  That was super fun.  Then on Sunday, our annual Camp Christmas began.  Jason, Rebecca, Jason’s daughter Adrienne and their 4 kiddos moved in for four nights-five days.  Most people think this is nuts.  Most don’t understand.  When we told the kids that they’d be staying for four whole nights this year, Zach whined.  (‘Cuz that’s still not long enough.)  When it was time for them to leave (after five days of togetherness, playing games, hanging out), one of their kids cried, “But we didn’t get to play!”  This is just how we roll, these two families – no time together is ever time enough.

New Year’s Eve was party central.  Adrienne stayed here to put all of the kiddos to bed (and did a great job) while Jason, Rebecca, Mike and I went with Rebecca’s family on a party bus in Seattle.  We went to a bar (that we proceeded to OWN) and then went up Queen Anne hill to watch the fireworks at the Space Needle.  We ended the night at Dick’s Drive-In and an insane amount of burgers, fries and milkshakes at 2am.  We partied like rock stars. 

What will 2015 bring?  We’re already off to a good start.  Mike and I had a date night courtesy of dear friends, Jason and Julia, on Saturday.  We used the time (sans kids) to talk about the upcoming year.  We’ve got to figure out Kayliana’s next school year’s pre-Kindergarten plan SOON (which seems crazy and as if I’m figuring out who she is as a human being…like now. No pressure).  She got to start the year with a beautiful new bedroom set that we got from friends!  Matthew just started baseball (we finally bit the bullet and bid adieu to our local drama politics-filled league and moved to the bigger one in Bellevue).  They do an awesome job of providing equal prep/practice time for all kids at the local batting cages with all coaches helping all kids equally - what a concept!  Zachary starts an acting class next week that he is SO insanely excited about.  Mike’s busy with some work projects and continuing to get my website ready for on-line registration for my classes and birthday parties!  I’m excited with my new found life plan to be the princess I was always meant to be.  I need to get my Elsa dress altered and schedule a photo-shoot with my friend Andrea, and then I’ll really be ready to rock the 2-6 year old birthday party scene.  We’re working on some house projects – including getting a gas fireplace insert in the next month or so (which I’ve always wanted and is abnormally exciting to me).  We’re hoping to go to Spokane in April to see Mike’s family (and attend an Engaged Encounter meeting).  We’ve got a trip to California planned for the end of June and a camping trip scheduled with Jason and Rebecca for August.  
All good things!  And thank you, GOD, for getting us through 2014 and that it's behind us!

Friday, December 19, 2014

Introducing: !

So, we’ve had a little project that we’ve been working on.  Remember post-Halloween when I might have implied that I was a little more into being Snow White than is normal?  It wasn’t just a standard Halloween-costume wearing night for me.  It turned into a game-changer…or possible career-changer (or adder on thingy or something).  In a nutshell: I AM going to be a Princess when I grow up!  Mike and I have been working on getting my website ready to be released to the world. 

Every few years, we’ve looked into starting a website for my music class business – primarily so that I could accept on-line payments.  However, dumb website-squatter peeps have been squatting on and wanted nearly $2000 for the domain.  Forget it.  We decided – because of my increased number of students and my goal to branch out to the princess market (especially for birthday parties) – to go with .  It’s a work-in-progress.  Let me know what you think – I’d love feedback! We still need to add some features and details (like pictures for my other princess characters), but it’s pretty exciting (and also slightly terrifying)! 

I have my first character party scheduled for January 31st – it’s actually a custom character!  For my dear book club friend Kendra’s daughter’s birthday party, I’ll be Crysta, the scantily clad fairy from the movie Fern Gully.  Never fear, there will be no mid-drift baring for me!  I found a super cute one-shoulder (short-ish, but not TOO short) red dress that’ll work. 

I’ve been busily collecting my other princess paraphernalia as well.  Probably most important of all (and likely to be the bread and butter of the princess biz) is Elsa, the Frozen queen (though I have to be careful when advertising since she’s a licensed character).  Did you notice how about 98% of girls ages 8 and under were Elsa this Halloween?  (Our own little princess asked Santa for an Elsa dress and wig for Christmas!  Then again, she probably feels weirdly left out seeing as her mom has them!)  I have a feeling Elsa will be my money maker.  (Which is a little bit of a bummer since she’s my character that will be the trickiest to pull off – the dress, the wig, etc.) After extensively researching other Elsa’s in the greater Seattle area, I’ve learned that they are all pretty much booked through March already.  I still need to find good Elsa shoes and get my dress altered a little, but I’m fairly ready to go.  But holy poop, it’s frustrating that – of all the Disney princess songs out there – Let it Go – is by far one of the most challenging.  Let’s just saying, I’ve been practicing it A LOT and every Martin knows every word (though most Martins wouldn’t admit it).

I’m trying to take my time really putting it all there – I haven’t advertised with my preschools yet – as we’re not quite ready to launch on-line payment.  I know once word gets out, I really need to be ready to go.  I plan on donating a party (or two) to our school auction which is coming up in a few months.  It’s exciting but also scary and then, let’s face it, it’s a little bigger than just adding to my existing business.  I’ve not forgotten that dad – months before he died – wanted me to go back to school for my masters so that I could teach full-time in a public school (for the purpose of job security and long-term retirement planning).  I’m well aware that Bob would not be pro-my princess plan.  But, for now, with our kids being the ages they are and (honestly, financially) it makes more sense for me to do this.  And I want to do this – at least give it a shot.  I figure I probably only have a few princess years in me anyway as no little girl wants a middle-aged wrinkly princess singing and dancing at her party, so I better give it a-go now or it’ll never happen.  Plus, it gives me motivation to (get in and) stay in-shape.  (Though with holiday sweets and treats, I need to start doing a better job!) Sad, but true, there ain’t no chunky princesses out there!  Hmmm, Disney, maybe it’s time…they’ve had princesses of different races, is it time for a plus-sized princess?!  

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Our Best Story

Something’s been very cool since Kayliana turned four – she’s been asking a lot of questions about being adopted.  Last week, when we were driving to swim lessons, she asked me, “Where was I before I was here?”  I wasn’t entirely sure that I understood her question, but I went with it.  I told her some details about how she came to be.  I won’t lie, I may have told her story in a way slightly similar to the birth of Christ – listen, I’m not saying she’s the Messiah, but she’s pretty dang special.

I told her that there was a family – a Mike and Jenny and a Matthew and Zachary – and they heard God tell them that their family needed a little girl.  Meanwhile, there was a young woman named Mia, who found herself with child.  She so loved that child (and God so loved that family) that God told Mia that little baby would be the baby for this family…

“Daddy and I couldn’t wait to meet you.  We went to the hospital when you were two days old.  We got to see you for the first time.  We loved you so much right away, but we actually loved you before you were even born.  Before Birth Mom Mia chose us to be your family, we loved our baby girl.  When Birth Mom Mia put you in my arms…” 

This is Kayli’s favorite part of the story and she will tell anyone interested.  She took over and said, “When Birth Mom Mia put me in mommy’s arms I FIRST TOOTED!!!”  And then she laughs and laughs.  Yep, ‘tis true.  The first thing Kayliana did was pass gas the moment I held her…she’s been full of surprises ever since.

I went on to tell Kayli how we put her in her car seat and drove to the bus stop.  We picked up Matthew from school in the afternoon.  It was a super rainy day and everyone at the bus stop had umbrellas and they were all crowding around to see our new baby girl.  Matthew got in the van and looked at his new baby sister and just grinned from ear-to-ear.  

A little while after we got home, Grandma and D-dad came to see their new baby granddaughter and they had Big Brother Zachary with them.  Zach took one look at Kayli and just started laughing and laughing and laughing.  He couldn’t believe that the baby girl we’d prayed about for so long was finally here.

That night, the boys sat in the big cozy rocking chair (the one still in her room).  They rocked her and sang a lullaby and then Matthew said the thing that I’ll never ever forget, “I like Kayliana MORE than love.  Like I don’t even know the word for it.”

I love this story.  I love the fact that now Kayliana can really start to (try to) understand how amazing it is.  I love her favorite part and that she loves telling it to people.  And believe me, if and when you see her and you want to hear what she did when Birth Mom Mia first put her in Mommy’s arms, she’ll be SO happy to tell you!

Saturday, November 29, 2014

The Cemetery

Well, we buried dad yesterday – did the interment of his ashes at Tahoma National Veteran’s Cemetery.  It was a dark and stormy day – no exaggeration – it absolutely POURED and the wind cut right through you.  Mom made a comment that we’d camped in worse weather than yesterday’s.  Poor dad, we always gave him such a hard time about the terrible camping weather we so often got stuck in – as if it was his fault.

It was a beautiful service – I was deeply touched by the fact that most of the honor guard and people who work at the cemetery are retired veterans and volunteers.  They saluted our cars as we drove to the shelter for the service.  The trumpeter played America the Beautiful and, of course, Taps, and one other song though I can’t remember what it was.  Deacon Jack and Father N were there and both spoke.  One of the Veterans gave our kids some of the empty shell casings from the Rifle Salute which was very cool.  Several of mom’s and dad’s close friends braved the elements to join us and a few came to mom’s afterwards for lunch provided by my brother and sister-in-law.

We got through it.  Kind of like the last year.  People have said that doing the cemetery service would be “good” and would bring me “closure.”  I don’t love that – I don’t see how it can bring closure – though, yes, I am thankful that there’s a place where we can go to visit dad.  There have been a couple of places during this last year that have been places like that.  I can’t drive by Father F’s house across the street from my parents’ parish without staring at the spot where my dad fell on his knees and died.  The Port Ludlow beach house was the other place where I felt so close to dad and his spirit.  Man, he loved it there. Maybe the Cemetery will bring comfort, who knows; maybe it will even bring closure.  All I know is there was such finality in their taking his urn away that I didn’t love.  That urn stayed with mom for the last year, it was always there and sure, yeah, it wasn’t DAD, but it was a very visible reminder of his presence and now that’s gone.

We came home yesterday after the cemetery and lunch and attempted to start our traditional day-after-Thankgsiving festivities: “Christmas Decorating Day.”  It was a joke.  What a flop.  What a lame-ass attempt to pretend we hadn’t actually spent the morning doing something VERY unfestive.  I laid down and took a short nap – hoping that would help.  I was an emotional hot-mess.  Zachary was cranky and had a total meltdown.  Kayli had a total meltdown.  Matthew saw their meltdowns and had a meltdown.  Mike was cranky.  We were a disaster.  We managed to rally and put up some of the decorations, but eventually gave up and watched Home Alone hoping that maybe the first Christmas movie of the season would lift our spirits.  It helped a little.  We went to bed telling ourselves today was a new day.  We would wake up ready to embrace the spirit of the season.

We woke up to a soft layer of snow on the ground and more flurries floating down.  Perfect for Christmas Decorating Day round 2.  Perfect for lifting our seasonal-spirits.     

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

November 26th

It was today.  It was today – November 26th.  I’ve relived every moment of that day so many times during the past year.  I’ve tried to really put myself there – for whatever reason, while it was awful – I also find some comfort in going back to when the shock and pain was so raw; it makes today’s pain still seem valid and reasonable.

I have prepared for today (as much as one can) – for the one year anniversary of dad’s death – to be really hard.  People have warned me.  What I was not at all prepared for is that maybe it’s not the number – 26, November 26th – maybe it’s more the day, as in ‘the Tuesday before Thanksgiving.’  Yesterday hit me like a ton of bricks.  It was Tuesday last year.  I’m such a creature of habit; I always go to my gym for spin class on Tuesdays.  Despite having a cold right now (that will not end and that I’ve had for 2 weeks already!), I knew that going to spin would be cathartic and good – it always is. 

I walked into the spin room and stopped abruptly.  Setting up in the front of the room was not my dear wonderful usual instructor (and friend) Heather – it was Laurie.  (Laurie teaches evening classes but on the very rare occasion subs for morning ones).  In that moment, I’m immediately transported to the last class I had with Laurie which was, of course, November 26th. (Apparently she has a regular gig teaching the Tuesday before Thanksgiving). The last time I took her class, I had no idea the news that Mike would be delivering to me over the phone when I was done with that class.  But walking into that room and seeing her and realizing all that…well, I was done.  A friend in class saw me just standing there and asked if I was OK.  I shook my head, explained the situation and said, “I can’t be here.  I just can’t do this.” I grabbed my stuff and went to the locker room before I could cause too much of a scene.

The rest of the day was just sorta downhill from there.  I gave into it, I embraced the pain.  I was a hot mess.

So, I’m hoping that maybe yesterday was the worst of it.  But who knows…

I heard, yesterday morning, for the first time this season, the line that will never be the same to me ever again: “Fall on your knees and hear the angel voices…”  And this morning, the quote at the beginning of my daily meditation (For Working Through Grief), “So he passed over, and all the trumpets sounded for him on the other side,” – John Bunyan.  There seems to be a theme: angelic choirs and orchestras just totally rocked out when dad arrived.  I’m sure they’re still jamming now.  I’m sure it’s amazing.  But I sure just wish he was still here.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Growing up

You know it’s coming – it’s happening all of the time – but it still sneaks up on you.  They grow up.  Each of our three children did a little extra growing up this past week and, quite frankly, I’m not a huge fan.  Sure, you’re excited when they reach a new maturity, when they know more stuff, can do more things on their own, but still.  I’m. Not. Ready.

Kayliana turned four on Saturday 4!  How is THAT possible?  Our little baby girl is a full-on KID.  She’ll tell ya, too.  She’s told nearly everyone we’ve interacted with, “I’m four!”  And, if they’re lucky she’ll sometimes add this anecdote that I – maybe made the mistake and – told her recently. “When birth mom Mia, put me in mommy’s arms for the first time, I TOOTED!”  (True story).

We celebrated Kayli’s birthday with an ocean/under the sea-themed music party.  I did a bunch of my music class/party fun – singing, dancing, instruments, scarves, parachute and bubbles.  It was good times!

Two children who were not present for most of the music mania were our two eldest – Matthew is just way too cool (and shy) to be seen shaking shakers and dancing with scarves.  Zachary, on the other hand, watched from upstairs – pretending to mock us, but secretly loving it and just couldn’t resist joining us for the bubbles at the end.

So, they’re all growing up, but yesterday, I had one of the moments that I’ve been dreading more than any other moment in parenting growing-up kiddos. 

Matthew and I had ‘The Talk.’

Now, perhaps you’ll recall we had ‘The Talk’ – the sex/where-do-babies-come-from version a couple of summers ago.  So, this was a different The Talk – the one I dreaded more than any other.

Matthew asked about Santa.  I mean, he’s asked about Santa before, but I was able to pull it off, but he recently lost his last tooth and point blank asked me, “You’re the Tooth Fairy, aren’t you?”  I thought for sure that would be the gate-way talk to Santa, but he left it at just knowing the truth about the Tooth Fairy.  But, last night, he just had to know.

I said all the right stuff, but the whole time my heart was breaking so much.  Why?!  Why did it have to be right before Christmas?  I wanted one last Christmas knowing that all three of our kids are still innocent, wide-eyed believers.  I was so sad, but held it together while Matthew fell apart and cried over his lost childhood.  (I’m not exaggerating, he cried, “I don’t want to grow up.  I don’t want to know stuff.  I wish I’d never asked.”  I wished he hadn’t either). 

But here’s the thing, I feel like, as Catholics, we kind of extra rock Santa.  I mean, he is Saint Nicholas.  Santa’s Catholic, for crying out loud!

I explained how we keep the magic of Santa alive by continuing the tradition just as the generations before us did.  He’s now a part of Saint Nicholas’ work – spreading joy at Christmas to celebrate Jesus’ birthday – and how that means keeping the secret and encouraging the magic.  (And obviously, with two younger siblings and lots of younger friends, I VERY MUCH STRESSED not sharing this knowledge with anyone.  He argued that I wanted him to lie, and I explained that no, it’s not a lie saying, “Yes, I believe in Santa” or “Yes, Santa is real” because the spirit of it, the magic of it is.) 

I think I rocked the talk.  But I hated every second of it and it was so stinkin’ sucky.  I hope to, somehow, make this Christmas even more magical for Matthew…’cuz otherwise it’s just sucky.  (I mean, I cried two years ago when talking about how bummed I am that Santa isn’t an actual live person).  Matthew even said, “What’s the point in even asking for anything?  Now, I know it’s you guys and not Santa and some of the stuff costs lots of money!”

I appreciated his sentiment on this one – especially in light of our (just the day before) receiving Kayliana’s $1500 Childrens’ Hospital ER bill.  Christmas might not be too prolific for us – and really, we don’t want or need tons of stuff, but there will still be ways to make it magical.  Any ideas?!

A little while post-talk, Zach and Kayli had rejoined us downstairs and Matthew even practiced ‘walkin’ the walk and talkin’ the talk’ – we started asking Kayli about what she’s going to ask Santa for this Christmas and if she’s so excited to get to go see him.  I demonstrated how it’s easy enough to talk about Santa even being ‘in on it.’  He rocked the talk.  He’s growing up.  But man, it’s still sucky.

So, while Matthew’s doing that kind of growing up, Zachary had a big first yesterday as well.  Last night, we got a phone call from his sweet little friend Alexis.  She was worried about him because he wasn’t at school yesterday (due to his cold).  As I handed the phone off to him, he picked it up and shyly said, “Hi,” and proceeded to turn beat red.  Alexis did most of the talking – as us ladies tend to do. 

After a long pause (when I assume Alexis is talking his ear off), Zachary looks at me and in a loud whisper says, “This is SO super awkward. Neither of us are talking!”  I nearly died.  I suggested he ask how her day was and the conversation picked back up for a bit.

I’d just left the room when I heard Zach say, “Soooo, we’ve been on the phone for a while now, are we don’t yet?”  He signed off and handed me the phone shaking his head like, ‘that was so weird.’  I chatted with Alexis’ mom for a bit – who I’ve never met.  She sounds wonderful and we had a good laugh about their conversation.

My sweet, sweet kids – all of them so different – growing up.

Last night at bedtime, it’s like Matthew (just as I do) wanted to keep fighting for his youth.  He asked me to come in his room and sing him a lullaby. 

I managed to not cry…until afterwards.