Mother’s Tea, Round Two

Piper had her Mother’s Tea last Friday, a few days after Ellie. It’s quite a different format in the toddler classroom than the primary classroom. The kids helped the teachers make cookies with jam in them and they squeezed the lemons for the lemon tea. We sat on their tiny little stools and had tea with them, played outside in the water trough, did some work and then did circle time. The kids made us these adorable keychains with their pictures in them, which I hung in my car.


The kids do this little dance individually after circle time before they go outside:

Mother’s Tea, Round One

Tonight we had Mother’s Tea at Ellie’s school, an annual tradition that all of us moms (and dads) really love so much. It’s always quite a bit of effort to hold back the tears when they start singing “You are my sunshine,” etc. It is extremely sweet of all the teachers to work with the kids for weeks to practice songs to sing us, make us our sandwiches, our “about mom” papers, our corsages, and our gift. This year’s gift was soap; mine was purple of course, in the shape of a heart with tiny little seashells in it. It smells wonderful. The bag Ellie made for the soap has 3 little yellow stars on it.

One of the other things I really love about Mother’s Tea is seeing all of the other kids and the other parents. It’s fun to see how unique everyone is and how they’re growing up. Today when I picked Ellie up from school so we could go get some dinner before Spring tea, one of her little friends was talking to me and when we were about to leave she told me she loved me…melt my heart! There is another little girl who has the most amazing style. I love her tie dye rainbow dresses and headbands. It’s fun to see Ellie in her element with her buddies as well and it’s great to see her treat her friends kindly and love them.

The “about mom” papers are always one of my favorite things about Spring tea.  This years was quite different from last years:

  • Within a single year I grew 12 years older. That one actually does feel accurate.
  • Somehow laundry grew exponentially in the last year. That one actually does feel accurate.
  • My movie preferences changed from Frozen (which I’ve actually never seen) to “grown up movies.” Thank God I’m sure she means movies capable of being shown in theaters.
  • My favorite color changed from blue to black.

My hands down favorite thing about this year’s “about mom” card is that she thinks I look pretty when I laugh at her. That makes me so happy to hear because if that is her definition of beauty for the rest of her life I will be so proud.

Here is a video of their first song:

And here are a couple of pics from the festivities:

Let Your Hair Down – Ellie’s 4th Birthday Celebration

When Ellie was about one, I had to travel for work. I read a book called Carry On Warrior, which I also wrote about here. I distinctly remember a part of the book where the author talks about being in line at Target with 3 crazed children in the checkout line and some older woman looks at her and says something to the effect of “Treasure these moments, they go by too fast.” At that point I’m pretty sure Glennon (the author) was visualizing throwing a huge middle finger, while in actuality she smiled sweetly and held her breath. The point is, I’m starting to feel the need to treasure those moments now with the girls.

Time is just continuing to go by faster and faster and I find myself even more frequently sitting in a moment and focusing so as to never forget it. Ellie’s 4th birthday was exactly one of those times when I wanted to pause and never forget it. Although it was pretty busy and crazy, I felt like it slowed down a bit by me focusing on being conscious and present.

Although I’m no princess fan, Ellie loves Rapunzel, so we threw a Rapunzel party. Luckily, my friend Niki had already thrown one for one of her daughters, so she shared her decor. We hired a local company, Seattle Princesses, and Rapunzel herself came out to read, paint Ellie’s face and play with the kiddos. We also did a lantern decoration station since Rapunzel’s parents and townspeople sent them off every year on her birthday in Tangled.

Photos are below and if you’re interested in doing the lantern decoration station or making your own Rapunzel party hats for your Rapunzel party, I’ve listed the items I bought from Amazon below the photos.



And here are the goods from Amazon:

Lantern decorations:

I used fishing line to string through the led light and tied it to the inside of the lantern.

Rapunzel hats:

I made braids with the yellow yarn and tied them off at the top and the bottom with the clear rubber bands. Then Brian stapled the braid to the inside back of the hats.

Photos of the Girls

The girls’ former teacher Ruoyun reached out to see if any families were interested in getting a free photoshoot with a photographer who wanted to expand her portfolio. I couldn’t help but take her up on it and I am so glad I did. Here is a link to the photographer’s Facebook page and below are the images – some are edited and some are raw.

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Eek, I know it’s December 7th, but I really wanted to post about Thanksgiving this year, so I thought “better late than never, right?”

This year, Thanksgiving weekend was truly one for the books. It was a five day weekend for the girls, so the fun really started on Wednesday. Wednesday we made quite a few of the dishes for Turkey Day and for the first time in my life I made homemade gyros for dinner. I followed this recipe, which I found on Pinterest. Don’t believe it when they say they take 20 minutes, but they were pretty delicious. Our friends Heras and Parris brought their adorable little six month babe Weston over and once the kids went down to bed we had a good old time with some Cards Against Humanity.

After that night, I couldn’t believe we made it up and out the door to run our traditional Issaquah Turkey Trot 5k. It was super freezing cold, but Grandy hung out with the girls and they cheered us on at the finish line.

After the 5k, we got back to the house, where we made Bloody Mary’s, Brian got to playing the Annual Four Lakes flag football game, and the rest of us cooked. The Kochevar’s joined us for the fun and the girls had a ball playing with their cousins.

After that we got to the food. Grandy and Tutu brought 5 dozen oysters and 6 bottles of Champagne (don’t worry, we didn’t get to them all) and the Kochevar’s brought smoked salmon. Drool. When it came to dinner, we had quite a few options: shaved brusselsprouts, cheesy sweet potatoes, turkey, cranberry sauce with blood oranges, homemade rolls, etc. This was the first Thanksgiving where I can honestly say there wasn’t anything on the table I didn’t care for. It was all scrumptious. I do have to call out my personal faves:

  • The B to the Tizzle nailed the turkey – it was epic!
  • My mom made this stuffing and it was to die for.
  • This green bean casserole is by far the most amazing I think I’ve ever had. I will definitely do that again!

And of course, Thanksgiving would not have been complete without a very large bottle of wine:


Thankfully Friday  morning was super chill. My mom and I shopped online for a couple of hours while the kiddos played and we saved up enough energy for night three of wild and crazy fun. Friday night was Four Lakes Friendsgiving and it set the bar very high for future Friendsgivings. Our friends Niki and George hosted the meal at their house, where everyone contributed their T-Day leftovers. Then we all walked over to our house, where we had two amazing babysitters (Piper’s teachers) to watch and put to bed all the kiddos while us parents danced our tails off in our garage to a very cool band, The Social Animals, who our friends the Ricchio’s booked. And this is where I think to myself “being a parent does not mean we have to be lame, eh?”

Needless to say we were pretty exhausted by the time Saturday came around, but there is no rest for the wicked. We carted Piper to swim, spent the day cleaning, & spent the evening at The Doman’s. It was a stellar relaxing night with Grandpa Peter and Grandma Maureen. Sunday was our day to relax and relax we did. Breathe.

Piper is 2!

And she woke me up this morning at about the exact same time she was born two years ago, right around 5 am! It was okay today because it’s her day and we got some extra special cuddle time in Ellie’s bed while I tried [and failed] to get her to go back to sleep with me.

Her party was yesterday and we did a rainbow theme – several pics are below. She’s not a shy one, Piper G. She was incredibly excited when she saw the cake coming her way and glowed when everyone sang to her. She blew the candles out with a little of daddy’s help and when everyone clapped, she clapped too.

Some of Piper’s favorite things to do at the ripe old age of two include:

  • Singing her ABC’s
  • Counting to 5
  • Singing “Twinkle Twinkle”
  • Playing with Legos
  • Holding her dolls
  • Anything that Ellie is doing
  • Going potty on the toilet
  • Playing with her buddies at school
  • Giving hugs and kisses

Having parties like this always fills my heart with gratitude. To see all the family and friends come together to celebrate someone’s birth is so meaningful. After everyone left and we rested for a bit, Piper opened her presents. It was so sweet to see how excited she was with every single one. If it was clothes, she wanted to try them on right away and literally peeled her existing clothes off every time. She put her backpack on right away. And every toy we opened she wanted to play with immediately. We read two of the new books last night and there are more on the schedule for tonight. I can’t thank our family and friends enough for their generosity – we feel VERY blessed.

I’ve also posted the icing recipe below, courtesy of my sister-in-law Heather-Jo, as several people asked about it.

Birthday cheese post-cake consumption!

Yummy frosting

Blowing out the candles

Piñata fun. I don’t know whether I like watching her hit it or try to say it more.

The tutu lasted about 4 seconds.

Rainbow food

Her Rainbow birthday cake

Ellie pre-party frosting enjoyment

Ellie making necklaces with died pasta while Grandy decorates the blackboard.

Ellie and Nana waiting for CAKE!

7 minute Icing recipe:

Get a double-broiler and a handheld electric mixer with beaters. Combine all below ingredients in the top pan of the double broiler:

  • 1.5 c. sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar OR 1 TBSP white corn syrup (we prefer the cream of tartar)
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/3 c. water
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract (add this at the end – see directions below)

Beat with mixer for 1 minute. Then put on top of the bottom double-broiler pan with water boiling in it. Make sure the water does not touch the bottom of the top double-broiler pan. Beat with mixer for another 7 minutes. At the end, beat in the vanilla. If the icing isn’t think enough, beat longer and faster until it reaches the consistency you’d like. Frost your cake before the icing cools.

Dining with Kids

Tonight I took the girls to dinner at a restaurant by myself. I knew what I was getting myself into, but I just didn’t want to cook a meal at home and clean up after it, so I talked to Ellie and Piper about it advance and they were in a good place. Ellie is at the age where she can relatively behave herself, minus the fact that she still feels the need to yell everything she says, a la her uncle Chad – love you Chad! We went to the local Mexican restaurant we’ve been to many times because that’s where they said they wanted to go. Overall, it was just fine – I can’t complain. But the whole experience got me thinking – why don’t they have a playbook for servers for handling tables with young kids? I know we’re not the only ones – I see them everywhere we go. Normally parents aren’t brave or dumb enough to go by themselves with two kids under four, but I think there some tactics servers could use to make it a more pleasant experience for everyone, including themselves. I want to make sure to include the fact that I served tables for many years, basically from when I was 18 to somewhere around 23 or 24, so I get it. No one ever told me back them what to do when I get parents with young kids in. I wish I would have had some sort of training or playbook for those types of situations. If I were to make one, it would go a little something like this:

  • Bring a stack of napkins pronto
  • If there’s a kid under 1 or 1 and a half, bring a spoon and a straw for them to play with – a paper or plastic cup with ice cubes isn’t a bad idea either
  • Remove the condiment section altogether – let me know you’re doing it and that you’re happy to leave anything I need
  • Have something at the table for the kids to munch on as soon as possible – Mexican restaurants are good at this
  • It’s ok to talk to the kids – they have voices and can speak
  • Fill their drink cup half full – I have yet to encounter a restaurant with kids cups that are too small
  • Don’t set a sharp knife or a scalding hot plate right in front of my child, not to mention my glass of wine or cocktail – it will only result in more work for you
  • If there are toys or coloring things or anything else around to keep their attention, bring it. We went to an Italian restaurant recently that brought a little thing of pizza dough for the girls to play with – effing brilliant!

That’s it. I think most of these things are relatively easy, especially if it’s a slow night, which it usually is when us parents come to dine at an ungodly early hour. Like I said, I’ve been in your shoes you hard working servers – this just might help you survive my toddlers a little easier and would almost certainly result in more dinero in your pocket.

Are we Crazy?

Update: Brian took Piper to Children’s this morning and they don’t see a break on the X-ray at all. It sounds like the fuzzy X-ray from Pediatric Associates was inaccurate and she doesn’t need a cast. Seems weird, but I’m super thankful!

There are two reasons I ask this question:

I feel like it’s a new kind of crazy when:

  1. You’ve got two toddlers
  2. Your husband is going on a 10 day vacation in 4.5 weeks, and
  3. You still decide together that it makes a ton of sense to squeeze in a kitchen renovation before the trip

I will say we did a pretty good job of putting together a thorough renovation schedule and budget. So far, we’ve stuck on schedule and while we’ve gone over budget on a couple of things, a couple of things came in under budget. The only variable we didn’t taken into consideration is life. Brian’s been very busy at work, which of course is great. It just makes doing some of the work a little more challenging.

This brings me to my second question of craziness. We took the girls to the park yesterday and Piper was climbing a ladder and fell. She’s always been such a daredevil and it’s always made me nervous. I’ve gotten used to her way and she’s always held her own. Still, I was standing right next to the play toy at the park as she climbed the ladder because it was a little scary. When she fell, I thought she was going to be fine, but she didn’t really bounce back up. I climbed in and picked her up and after I held her and she calmed down, I set her down to walk. But she couldn’t. And it makes me want. to. cry. Since it was about 4 or 5 pm, we brought the girls home, fed them, bathed them and put them to bed. We were thinking a good night’s sleep would help it heal, but she was no better this morning. I took her to the doctor this morning and the unbelievable became reality: she broke her foot. I must say I know I did nothing wrong, but I feel a bit like a failure. Is that just parenthood? It’s so irrational (a.k.a. crazy), but it is the case regardless. The doctor put her foot in a stint and we’re going to Children’s to have it casted tomorrow. What makes me feel better is her demeanor. For the most part she doesn’t act like anything is wrong. It’s only when she tries to walk on it that she’s in pain. Other than that she seems pretty happy and normal.

Of course the first thing Piper did in the car on the ride home from the doctor was try to take the bandage off. Evidence here:    

And if you’re interested in the renovation thus far, here is one of me hand staining our island cabinets: 

And our new floors being installed – notice the still awesome neon yellow light coming through the front door glass: 

And the demo: 1st is slightly before, 2nd is halfway through the demo, 3rd is when everything was taken out.

And me cutting open the wall between the kitchen and the living room: 

Brian and I cleaning up all the sawdust insulation that came down from the attic when we pulled the ceiling off:

Me swinging the sledgehammer during demo:  

School Progress Reports

Two months ago I started this post after I received the girls’ progress reports from school. I never finished it and this summer was so busy, I’ve been away from writing for awhile. I wanted to be sure to document it though, mostly for the girls when they’re older, so here goes:

The girls just finished their school year, which makes me chuckle a little because I’m still not used to the concept of kids that young going to school. When I go and see what they learn though and what they spend their time doing, I absolutely do believe it should be called a school, not just a daycare.

At the end of the school year, the teachers do progress reports and believe it or not they are quite extensive. I don’t expect everyone to read these, but I’m putting them here so the girls can see them when they get older. Piper seems to have mastered the outdoors and Ellie mastered the days of the week. School starts again in a week and I’m excited to see their next set to see how it compares. Piper’s is a mere 4 pages, while Ellie’s primary classroom has 7 pages of evaluation!

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Father’s Day and my Broken Nose

Father’s Day weekend was so much fun, right up until the very end. I took Friday off work and got a bunch of stuff done around the house. Saturday my dad came over and we hung out around the house all day, which was so nice and relaxing. We made some lunch and the girls played with the water table Grandpa Peter brought over. After that we drove up to the beer festival at Marrymore Park and had a few beer tastings. The girls ran around and got really tired, came home and passed out.

The next day I was really excited because my friend Liz and I rented a boat on Lake Washington for the dads. We packed all our stuff, brought sandwich fixings and off to the boat we went. It was a really pretty 28 foot Cobalt, so we were definitely in heaven. The boys were happy, the kiddos were happy, it couldn’t have been more perfect.  The only thing is it didn’t end on a particularly great note. As we were docking the boat, I did a dumb thing in standing up on the side of the boat to push off another one to avoid hitting it. As the boats drifted closer to each other, my head got stuck between the stationary hull anchor on the other boat and the canopy arm on our boat. My sunglasses crunched, cutting up my face and I broke my nose and had a minor head injury. I feel incredibly lucky and like it could have been so much worse! Brian told me later he thought in the moment it was going to be a lot worse. When my mom took me home from the ER she reminded me of the most important boating rule her dad always taught her: never put your body between two boats. Lesson learned. The hard way.