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Thursday, March 26, 2015

Leprechaun Hunting

Dear Over-achieving Parents:
 I don’t appreciate you.  With your nonstop crafting, your way over-the-top-excessive gift-giving…You make my already difficult job (as a self-proclaimed Slacker Mom) even more challenging! 

It’s just gotten to be too much.  Enough!  Stop the madness!  The kids come home from school with stories about what the Tooth Fairy brought their classmates.  And I’m not just talking about the money (which is, in my opinion, always too much).  The Tooth Fairy leaves notes and fairy dust and little tiny sparkling footprints and on and on and on.  But now the madness has carried over to St. Patrick’s Day. 

On St. Patrick’s Eve, Zachary calls me into his room and excitedly shows me two notes.  He’s written one for Matthew and one for Kayli.  They are from leprechauns and each note has a quarter attached to it.  Zach points out how he ‘disguised’ his hand-writing so that Matthew and Kayli wouldn’t realize who they were actually from.  Well, he kept the secret for all of 4.8 minutes and then brought Matthew into his room to show him.  So, together, the boys stealthily left the note on the floor of Kayli’s room while she slept.

St. Patrick’s Day arrives and we’re greeted with two emotional extremes – Kayliana is beside herself with excitement that she got money and a note from a “what are the little guys called?” – she kept having to ask.  I look at Zach to see if he’s thrilled that his plan worked.  His face, on the other hand, is the epitome of depression mingled with angst.  After Kayli goes upstairs, Zach starts crying.

“Even though I did the notes.  I thought leprechauns were real, but I didn’t get ANYTHING!  I think it’s just parents and you guys probably do the Tooth Fairy too!”  Fearing that the downward spiral was about to begin (and having just gone through our first Christmas with Matthew knowing ‘the truth’ ( , I was very quick to nip it in the bud. 

“You know, I’ve lived my whole life and never saw a leprechaun and certainly never received anything from one.  They’re sneaking little guys.  K, time to get ready for school!”  Thankfully, my distraction tactic managed to work for once.

After school, Zach gets home and is the walking opposite of his morning-somber-self.  “Mom!!  I was wrong!  Leprechauns wouldn’t have come last night!  They come ON St. Patrick’s night!  I’m going to work on building a leprechaun trap!” 

Crisis diverted….I guess??

While he worked on his trap, I found some info on leprechaun folklore to read to the kids.  Stressing the parts about leprechauns being tricky little guys…rarely-if-ever seen by humans. 

I also pointed out that not one article said the leprechaun would leave money or presents.  (The story goes, they only leave gold IF they have the bad luck of actually being spotted by a human).

I asked Zach if he’d still believe in leprechauns even if his trap didn’t work again (he’d built one last year).  “I don’t even know if they actually come inside our house,” I pointed out.  He assured me that a.) Yes, they come in houses because, of course, kids at school had reported finding all sorts of treasure and b.) Yes, he’d still believe even if there was no leprechaun proof.

After Zach built his trap and got it all set up, Matthew came downstairs and quietly said, “Mom, I’m concerned that Zach’s believing in this so much.  We don’t want him to be disappointed when there’s nothing in the trap in the morning.  Can we like write him a note or explaining ‘the truth’ or just leave him some money so that he keeps believing?!”

I explained my genius plan: Do Nothing.  He looked at me incredulously.  (I feel like after having me as a mom for years now, he should be unsurprised to my ‘set their expectations as low as possible’ approach to parenting.)

“Matthew, the more we do, the more involved we get and elaborate this becomes, the harder it is to maintain.  We want him to keep believing because of his imagination and faith…And we (I) certainly don’t want to make more work for (myself) in the future!”  So, he dropped it and we did nothing…or so I thought.

Mike told me later, that he snuck into the trap (through the ‘decoy trapdoor’ that Zach had put on top) a little Lego leprechaun that he’d made.  I wasn’t sure if I liked this plan or not.

Come morning time, Zach woke Kayli up and the two eagerly inspected his leprechaun trap.  He very quickly decided that the trap door had definitely been messed up a little bit.  He was quite certain his ‘gold’ (a.k.a. gold duct tape wrapped around a scrap of paper) had done the trick in getting a leprechaun’s attention in the first place.  He looked down into the trap (where glue had covered the floor of the box in the hopes that poor Mr. Unsuspecting Leprechaun would get stuck) and saw the little Lego guy. 

I held my breath, sure that he’d immediately jump to a “Mom! YOU did this!” conclusion.

“That. Sneaky. Little. Guy!”  Zachary declared, shaking his head in utter disbelief.  “He totally snuck in my room and made a little leprechaun Lego guy to leave as a decoy!  Ha!”

And then we moved on.  He just accepted this with complete childlike wonder and faith, never for a second questioning.  PHEW.

The leprechaun trap is still set-up on the stairs.  I think he’s still hoping for a catch.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Saint Joseph

So, I’m a pretty big Saint Joseph fan – and by that, I mean the man, not just the church (although that happens to be our parish too and I like it as well; I’m just currently discussing the guy).  I’ll admit that, selfishly, my pro-St. Joe-ness started when we were trying to sell our house.  Desperate for a sale, I finally caved under the pressure and suggestions (the last one coming from a priest!) to do the ‘ol hokey – bury poor Saint Joseph (a small statue version) in your garden deal.  And, yep, it did work, although, I think a.) the house would’ve sold eventually anyway and b.) it’s faith and trusting God’s plan that helps, not the belief in some superstition. But praying is always comforting and asking for prayers from friends – and friends in high places (Saints!) – is never a bad thing!

Once a month, we have Adoration at St. Joe’s – keeping a round the clock vigil in church with the Blessed Sacrament.  I like to sign up for a butt-crack-of-dawn time and this month scored the 5am-6am time slot meaning I was up at the ungodly (sorry) hour of 4am.  Kayli actually had me up at 3, and I didn’t sleep much after that knowing that I’d have to get up soon.  I think, honestly, being tired adds to the experience.  Once I’m in the quiet church, with only the sound of the holy water font bubbling behind me, and the darkness coming through the windows enclosing me, it’s very easy to get into a slight form of “St. Joseph’s Prayer.”  Through His angels, God chose to speak to St. Joseph when he was asleep; therefore, nodding off while praying is merely slipping into prayer the way St. Joe did!
Friends of ours from Engaged Encounter, go to Adoration weekly on Mondays from 4-5am.  Maureen said that because it’s so stinkin’ early in the morning, she often feels like she has ‘God mostly to herself.’  I love that. 

There are supposed to be two people signed up for every hour – that way you’re never alone in the church or there’s at least someone else there, if the other person oversleeps/can’t make it.  When I arrived at 4:50, there were three people in the church.  Shortly after 5, they all left and I had the church – and Jesus – completely to myself for nearly an hour.  I feel like saying ‘it was magical’ is pretty lame, but it basically was.  (Movingly spiritual or spiritually moving would probably be more appropriate.)

Towards the end of my hour, I started thinking about St. Joseph…which now, so often, makes me think about my dad.  After dad died, the boys even commented that ‘D-dad’ was like St. Joseph – he was a worker.  As I thought about it I had a sudden image of St. Joseph and my dad – sporting his ‘work clothes’ (old paint-splattered jeans, grubby sweatshirt, blue coat) – working together.  Side by side.  Just chillin’ in Heaven building stuff like total buddies.  I couldn’t help but smile.  After a bit, I pulled out my Kindle – and went to one of my faves – some of Pope Francis’ homilies from Lent last year.  (Um, pretty much love that guy more than life itself.)  I just started at a random one and what was the whole thing about?  Yup.  Saint Joseph.

I read: “Jesus is born and lives in a family, in the Holy Family, learning the carpenter’s craft from St. Joseph in his workshop in Nazareth, sharing with him the commitment, effort, satisfaction and also the difficulties of every day…St. Joseph also experienced moments of difficulty, but he never lost faith and was able to overcome them, in the certainty that God never abandons us…”

Stuff I love about Joseph: I love – especially as an adoptive parent – that St. Joseph is the foster and adoptive father of Jesus.  I love that Joseph is called “the terror of demons.”  (Boom! Take THAT scary stuff!)  I love that St. Joe is a worker and, in his example, we should see our work not as monotonous chore, but as a gift that we’ve been given and that we can perform with a happy heart. 

In most any St. Joseph prayer, we ask him to pray that we might have “the grace of a happy death,” that he “assist me at the hour of my death;” that “I might merit to die as you (St. Joseph) did in the arms of Jesus and Mary.”  Obviously, I can’t help but think of my dad and – knowing how devout he was – and feel such comfort.  My dad had a beautiful, grace-filled death.  He was working for the church (WORKING – in his grubby work clothes).  Thank you, St. Joseph.

All of these thoughts were swirling in me as I finished my hour of Adoration.  I could NOT stop thinking about St. Joseph and feeling this strong connection to him and between him and my dad.   There’s a stand in the back of the vestibule that has audio books/presentations.  I always check them out after Adoration to see if there are any good ones.  In the very middle of the CD’s, one just happened to jump out at me.  In huge bold letters it said, “St. Joseph.”  Ha!  Guess that’s the one I’ll pick up this month!  Next to the CD stand, there was a basket full of prayer cards: “Solemnity of St. Joseph, March 19th” with a picture of St. Joseph and Jesus.  The back of the card has the beautiful prayer that starting on – oh! March 10th – can be said for 9 days as a Novena.  As I finally made my way out of the church, there was a big sign for the “St. Joseph Feast Day – Parish Dinner!”  OK, I hear ya. 

I was telling Mike about this and said that I’d really love to have a small St. Joseph statue for in the kitchen.  He pointed out that he knew where one was buried!  Rather than, under the cloak of darkness (and an act of total weirdness), digging up the guy we left in the backyard at the old house, the Easter bunny will be bringing me a new, fresh St. Joseph.  I found one that I love and that will, of course, also remind me of dad.  St. Joseph even has on HIS work clothes – robes and apron – and is holding a couple of tools.

I’m a big fan.  

Sunday, March 01, 2015


A momentous occasion is upon us: my blog (the word document in which I type before posting here) has reached 500 pages.  FIVE HUNDRED SINGLE SPACED PAGES…all about me.  Narcissistic much?!  Plus, it’s nearly 9 years old.  I started my hospital bed rest to keep Zachary cookin’ on March 12th, 2006.  And thus, this blog was born.  (And the kid was born seven weeks later). 

My, a lot has changed in our lives during these last 9 years, these 500 pages.  I should probably print it out since it’s my journal that our children will – I’m sure – cherish someday.  But printing 500 pages of my mental diarrhea seems like a pretty hefty amount of tree-killing to embark on.  (EmBARK…trees…Dad would be proud – or embarrassed – of my horrible pun-attempt.)  Besides, I’m sure by the time I’m dead and gone, the kids can just have my blog scanned into their brains or something.

So many changes.  Mike and I have talked a lot recently about how we feel like we’re right in the middle of massive change.  We’re entering a new chapter in our lives.  The kids are almost all school-aged, mostly civilized humans and somewhat-sorta-a-little-bit-more independent.  (Kayliana still acts like a wild animal half the time, but she’s cute and house-trained at least).  Mike’s just (one week in) – started a new job, his dream career of software engineering for video games.  He came home the first day, grinning from ear-to-ear like a kid in a candy store.  My music class biz and silly attempts at being a princess (lame plug: ) is starting to pick up.  I will soon have three Montessori schools (with multiple campuses), Kayli’s preschool, a community center and a library gig all underway.  And I have 3 birthday parties tentatively scheduled – one as me (doing my dinosaur-themed music for a 2 year old boy’s birthday) and two as Elsa.  Exciting times!

Matthew – our 5 pound baby peanut – is now 5 foot 3 ¾ and checks almost every morning to see if he’s finally met my whopping height of 5 foot 4.  We wear the same shoe size now.  He leaves tomorrow for three days of 5th grade camp, and while the boys bicker on a daily basis, Zachary has already said several times, “I’m going to miss Matthew.”  And Kayliana cried when Matthew told her he’d be gone for a few days.

As I write this, I face our living room window and our pink blossom-filled cherry tree.  The daffodil bulbs my dad brought back from our beach house a couple of years ago are up and open, BOBbing in the breeze.  (That one is totally for you, dad.)  While it's not officially here, Spring has sprung super early in Seattle this year, and a season of change has definitely come for our family as well. 

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!