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Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Just another Friday afternoon...???

The whole time I was a little bit questioning my sanity.  I mean, it’s not every weekday afternoon that I dress up as not one, but TWO, princesses and have a photo shoot. (I swear, this is not normal for me).  Am I really doing this?  Is this for real?  Is this really like a thing? That I DO?!!  But I did it.  It’s done.  I’ve put it out there.  It’s on my website ( and it’s on my Facebook page ( ).  There’s no going back now!

I’ve also just landed a new gig as THE preschool music program for the city of Renton!  I’ll start this May teaching two back-to-back classes on Friday mornings.  One class will be a 2-3 year olds with parent helper class and the second will be a 3 ½- 6 year olds drop-off class.  When the center director was looking over my website, she saw the princess stuff and squealed.  “Um, we were going to be booking an Elsa for an event in December.  And we do birthday parties all the time.  Maybe you can be our in-house Princess!”
So, while I’m launching this new career-venture of mine, Mike has been busy making HUGE changes as well.  After 13 years with the same company (the place he’s been since graduating from college), he’s moving on.  It’ll be a bittersweet move for sure.  His current company has been so good to us through the years.  I’ll miss the flexibility and the fact that two days a week, he worked from home.  But, I’m so excited about his move.  He’ll be getting his foot in the door of the videogame-programming world at a software company called Wargaming.  It’s been his lifelong dream to program for games, so we’re super excited about it! 

Big changes a-happening here, for sure!

Sunday, February 01, 2015

Character Party #1!

And we’re off!  I worked yesterday afternoon.  Most people wouldn’t be super pumped to have to work on a Saturday, but I couldn’t wait!  And, the job did not disappoint!

One of my dear book club friends – Kendra – asked (when I announced about my birthday party plan) if I might be willing to be Crysta (a rain forest fairy from the movie Ferngully) for her daughter’s birthday.  I accepted the challenge and immediately began pulling a costume together and all of my rain forest/jungle themed music.  It went really well (in my humble opinion) and was tons of fun. 

Their girls didn’t know that I was coming, but when I walked in Kendra’s younger daughter looked at me and without skipping a beat goes, “Oh, hi Crysta.  Can I try on your wings?”  She also wanted to touch my pointy elf ears and try on my shoes.  I had to turn down those requests because a.) I was worried my prosthetic elf ears would pop off (and they were difficult to get on – practically had to fold the top part of my ear in half and shove ‘em in) and b.) I didn’t really want to take off my shoes since this fairy needs a pedicure.

I began quietly setting up my stuff when all of a sudden birthday girl Lennox walked in.  I knew Kendra wanted to see Lennox’s reaction to me, but I couldn’t exactly be unseen.  Lennox’s eyes got huge, her jaw dropped but she kept walking towards me almost in slow motion.  It. Was. Awesome.

I said, “Happy Birthday, Lennox! Do you know who I am?”

She slowly nodded and said, “Hi Crysta!” And proceeded to give me a huge hug.  Super the cutest!

The 12 party attendees (mostly 5-6ish year olds) did great. They were so good!  We sang a lot, danced with scarves, played egg shakers, passed the musical instruments, played with the parachute and I blew bubbles. 

My friend Megan (also from book club) said that her daughter’s post party commentary was, “Mom, I didn't know fairies were real, but they are, cause Crysta is a fairy and she is real! And she flew all the way from the rain forest to play with us. And she has instruments that she let us play with, only you can't throw them or she will take them away.

Yep, I’m a fairy with rules!

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.