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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.

Thursday, November 06, 2014

My plan

I’ve decided something.  I’m actually going to wait to listen to Christmas music until the day after Thanksgiving this year…I’m going to try anyway.  The funny thing is that this is the ‘rule’ I’m supposed to follow (gently put into place by Mike and vigorously policed by Zachary who just doesn’t appreciate my intense love for all things Christmas.)  The thing is, this year, more than any other, I probably could really use the joy and uplifting power of Christmas music pre-Thanksgiving, but I’m hoping it will work another way.  I want to use it as an award – a light at the end of the tunnel – once I’ve gotten through the most difficult days.  I also don’t want the music to be tainted – if you will – by all the other events and emotions that I’ll have going on.

The day before Thanksgiving will be the one year Anniversary of dad dying.  Then there’s Thanksgiving.  And then there’s the day after Thanksgiving which, in the Martin home, is “Christmas Decorating Day.”  Well, that may have to wait this year (at least until later in the day).  At 10:30am on Friday, November 28th, we will be at the Veteran’s Cemetery doing the interment of dad’s cremains.  (I’m mad that I even know these terms now.)  The military honor guard will play Taps and perform a rifle salute.  The Air Force honor guard will also be there.  I know it will be beautiful and moving, but holy moly, I’m dreading it.

Thus the reward of Christmas-magic as soon as it’s done.  I don’t know if this plan of mine works.  I mean, quite frankly, just thinking about all of it makes me want to run straight to my Nat King Cole Christmas music and wrap myself in it like a cozy blanket and not leave for the next three weeks…so we’ll see.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

After the ER, I find my true calling...

We’d really had hopes that 2014 could be ER/medical emergency free.  Bummer.  After taking Kayli to the doctor Thursday for her arm injury, we waited through a rough night and morning.  We were supposed to wait for the Radiologist to call Friday morning with results.  I waited until 10:30 and called them.  Kayliana was in the worst pain I've ever seen her in -- worse than when she broke her left arm last November.  

The doctor said the Radiologist couldn't see a fracture either, but since Kayli was in so much pain, we should head to the ER at Seattle Childrens' Hospital.  We spent all Friday afternoon there.  They did more xRays ($$$$ -erg) and were finally told that she actually had dislocated her elbow.  (Which we’d talked to the doctor about the night before but she was pretty quick to rule it out saying Kayli was 'too old' to still have nursemaid elbow...even though we pointed out that she'd had it for that same arm.)  Totally frustrating!  We’re obviously relieved that it wasn't broken and she didn't need a cast again but sure wish that it had been figured out Thursday night -- would've saved tons of time, money and SO much pain.

In the ER, we had a Resident and then his Attending Physician.  After the xRays were done, I saw them out in the hall practicing.  The Physician was showing the Resident how to pop an elbow back in.  It wasn’t very reassuring and, unfortunately, when he tried on Kayli he failed miserably.  I could even tell (through all her screaming) that it hadn’t popped back in.  The poor thing (mostly Kayli, but I did feel sorry for the Resident too).  The other doctor, reached down and with a quick flick of his wrist, popped her arm back in.  It was awful. The Resident left the room hanging his head in shame and defeat.

Once her arm was popped back, Kayli was ripping around the ER (after hours of not moving she had a wee bit of extra energy built up.)  I thought she might pop something else out.  The doctor told me, “Well, we’re here all the time if you ever need to come back to get that arm popped back in.”

I said, “Thanks, you’ve been great and all.  But I never want to see you ever again.”

Thankfully, after that crazy day, we were able to go to the school Costume Carnival later that night.  Kayliana was all ready to go in her Ninja girl costume, but she took one look at me and decided to go with Snow White instead (so that she, too, could have red lipstick.)  I’ll admit that being Snow White in a packed gymnasium full of kids – and nearly half of them little girls (and about 90% of those sporting princess gowns) – was pretty fun.  Dreams do come true!  I had several little girls come up and just stare at me in awe.  One mom apologized and said, “We just went to Disneyland, so she’s pretty sure you’re the real deal.”  Um, I am the real deal.  Dreams do come true!  I got to be Snow White for the evening and, quite honestly, it’s a look I may rock more often!

Mom of the year -- I had to go to four stores to find Zachary a werewolf mask.  He loved being incognito.  But something's going on with that wolf -- it sheds fur everywhere.

 I have to say, I'm quite proud of how Mike's costume turned out.  All I did was buy  t-shirt at Goodwill and cut the sleeves off -- add a tablecloth, pin, my belt and voila! I gots me a Prince!