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.

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!

Elle 2015-08-23 20.38.37 Elle 2015-08-23 20.39.20 Elle 2015-08-23 20.39.51 Elle 2015-08-23 20.40.25 Elle 2015-08-23 20.40.42 Elle 2015-08-23 20.40.56 Ellie 2015-08-23 20.38.59 Piper 2015-08-23 20.43.40 Piper 2015-08-23 20.43.53 Piper 2015-08-23 20.44.06 Piper 2015-08-23 20.44.16

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. 


Mom Tricks

Lately Ellie’s been regressing a bit. She’s crying like a baby about things like not being able to put the top on her water bottle or not getting the pink straw. She’s also been asking for help getting dressed when previously she loved doing it herself. She’s requesting that someone feed her during dinner, which is clearly not necessary. We’ve been trying to rationalize with her, but at the end of the day we find ourselves beating our head with redundancy. I know a part of parenting is saying the same thing over and over again and I know that’s what I signed up for. But lately I’ve been thinking there’s got to be a better way. And by better, I mean smarter and more clever. I tend to believe Brian and I should be able to come up with creative ways to out-wit our children – we’ve got to be smarter than toddlers, right?

Sometimes I doubt that to be honest. And sometimes it’s good to get help from people outside of our little tunnel. Hence, one of my first Mom Tricks:

1. The Star System: I remember my mom having a chore board for the week for everyone in the family. It was “fair,” which is what all pre-teens absolutely require. We did a chore and we got a sticker for it on the board. I was talking to a friend about Ellie’s recent regression and he said his sister started a star board for her three-nager. “It seems so obvious,” I thought afterward. But my sleep deprived, frustrated brain had not thought of it. So I started talking to Ellie about it. She was whining one night before dinner and I told her if she stopped whining she would get a gold star. She stopped immediately. “Sold,” I thought, “I’ll take ten!” So tonight, this is what I made:

Ellie's Star Board

This whole situation made me think of what other Mom Tricks or Hacks I’ve used that other parents might want to know. I don’t have that many, so more importantly, I’d love to hear your comments on out of the box or just everyday tips/tricks that make life with toddlers easier! Here are a few things that seem to work okay for us:

2. The countdown calendar: When Brian or I have to travel for work (which by the way I absolutely dread…don’t tell my boss) we circle the day on the calendar the other one is going to return. Every morning when Ellie wakes up we go in and cross off the previous day so she can see how much closer we are to seeing each other.

3. Kisses and Hugs: Again, this may seem super obvious for some. Piper is one of those children who just absolutely HATES being restricted. We recently gave up completely on the high chair and getting her into the car seat is an everyday struggle. Sometimes the binky works, but as she’s getting older we’re trying to rely on that less. Sometimes a book or a toy works, but the golden ticket is usually the kiss monster. I kiss her on her belly and her face and she stops being a screaming plank. Ellie’s the same way; she knows now that when she’s upset a hug makes her feel better and she requests it almost every time she does something wrong, intentionally or accidentally.

4. Choices: This isn’t necessarily 100% effective, but sometimes giving them choices makes them feel like they’re in control of something. When Piper and I are rocking in her chair at night and she’s struggling to break loose and run amok, I ask her if she wants to get in her crib. She usually says “no” and calms down.

These are a few of the things that have worked for us, but there are so many more things I actually want to know. It may seem like I’m offering guidance here, but really I’m asking for it. What are some tricks for helping kids learn to not throw their food on the floor? Or only talk about poop in the bathroom? Or not pull their sister’s hair constantly? Or not scream at the top of their lungs in the car? Or spit on things other than the sink or outside? Or be perfect little angels all the time? Oh, there’s not a solution for that? Hmmm…I’m shocked.

Progress, Evolution & Perspective

I frequently see posts on Facebook or articles out there about “the right way” to parent. Guidance is the friendly way to define these tidbits. Guidance is always helpful. I appreciate so much the guidance I’ve received in my life. But I find some of the guidance out there seems to come with a grain of judgment. It’s as if I’m not doing it right if I don’t take the guidance. And when I say “I”, I really mean “we.” I have a bone to pick with this guidance. I have a bone to pick because I truly don’t think there’s one right way. I truly think everyone ought to do it the way that works best for them.

Most of my friends and family know I have a few things I am stubborn about when it comes to raising our kids: 1) I do everything within reason to give them balanced organic meals full of vitamins and the right fuel for their bodies, and 2) I do everything within reason to keep them away from screens. These are “my things.” And every parent has their things, things that are highest priority that they don’t waiver on when possible. I know some parents prioritize manners. I know some parents prioritize sleep training. I know some parents never raise their voices at their kids. I obviously value those as well, but they’re not “my things.” And that should be okay. I shouldn’t feel guilty about that and if you give your kids fish sticks and french fries and stick an iPad in front of them at dinner you shouldn’t feel guilty either. We’re all just operating under what we value to be the most important things for us and our families and sometimes the most valuable thing for our families is some sanity for ourselves…can I get an amen?

It probably sounds so cliche but I really do wish there was less guidance in the world and more understanding. We should all feel comfortable sharing our learnings, but we should all feel comfortable taking in other people’s learnings. No one person knows everything, except for maybe Gandhi and Oprah. Lord knows I’m not perfect when it comes to these things, but I am working and striving toward it.

Anyway, I’ll get off my soapbox now and spend a few moments focusing on the progress of my peanuts. Piper, oh where to start with Piper. Piper is such a little wild child. She goes and goes and goes until she absolutely stops. She climbs up everything – in fact, today when I picked her up from school she was literally climbing up the baby gate. I’m pretty sure if I wouldn’t have grabbed her off it she would have made it over. She also loves to climb up all the bars to the top of the jungle gym platform at school. She’s visibly proud of herself whenever she accomplishes anything or gets something she wants. She’s getting her lower molars in and tonight at dinner she kept saying “ice.” Whenever she would say it I took a piece of ice out of my ice water and gave it to her, to which she replied with a larger than life smile and bounced up and down. Speaking of up and down, her new favorite thing is to stand up while yelling “up,” and then squat down while yelling “down.”

Her sister then joins in and they both go up and down together. Piper recently learned how to “kiss” and she is blowing kisses all the time. Brian says it’s because she likes the sound it makes. I also think she just really loves to be hugged and kissed. When I kiss her it makes her so happy and content it’s amazing. She doesn’t want to get in her car seat, really ever, so I just hug her and kiss her pretty much nonstop for a little bit and she seems to calm down enough for me to buckle her in. The most innocent and beautiful thing is to see how Ellie interacts with her now. When Piper makes the kissing face, Ellie blows her kisses and when they’re close enough to make contact they actually kiss. It’s so sweet and pure. It’s also great to see them play together so much. Now that Ellie’s in a different class with older kids it seems like she’s maturing exponentially. It’s hard for me to believe Ellie’s going to be 3 years old in less than a week. I remember when she was born it felt like 3 was an eternity. It’s funny how kids change so much so quickly and it’s also funny how they change us so quickly. Here are a few pics of the girls and their silliness.

With her water bottle from Santa that Ellie has now bogarted.

With her water bottle from Santa that Ellie has now bogarted.

She loves her giant teddy bear!

She loves her giant teddy bear!


To a baby at school, Harper

Ellie Reading to a baby at school, Harper

Ellie's first day of "skiing" was mostly composed of eating snow

Ellie’s first day of “skiing” was mostly composed of eating snow

She can't resist climbing into our bed at night and I can't resist taking a picture I'm sure she'll despise when she gets older:)

She can’t resist climbing into our bed at night and I can’t resist taking a picture I’m sure she’ll despise when she gets older:)

What I’ve Learned this Year

This is our first entire year with two kids and man it is Nuts. Bonkers. Insane. Cray Cray. It’s been a lot of fun, which I’m sure is obvious. But it’s also actually been one of the most humbling years and I’ve learned more this year than any other in a long time, both about my surroundings and about myself. I know Oprah has her Things she Knows for Sure. I’m no Oprah, but for the sake of retrospect, here are the things I’ll try to take away from this year the most. There are many components to our life, so these are a little all over the board.

  1. I can really do anything I choose to. Isn’t it an absolutely incredibly country we live in? We’re so fortunate that we can do pretty much anything we want. This becomes very apparent when I think about priorities. Some people prioritize health and fitness. Some people prioritize their families. Some people prioritize work. Some prioritize learning. The point is there are days when I think to myself, “I’m so frustrated I can’t do that.” And then after a little while I realize that I actually can; it’s just a matter of prioritization. Sometimes I’ll take that information and simply prioritize what I want and sometimes it’s a matter of understanding I actually have more important priorities and I can’t do it all, but I can do what I choose to.
  2. Love is an action. One of the consistent things I hear people try to figure out is love. They want to know how they can make their relationships work for life and how other people do it. Being in a family with divorce and seeing so many people get divorced, I obviously want to do everything I can to not only make my marriage last forever, but be happy doing so. On one of our date nights this year, Brian told me “love is a verb and a verb is an action.” I thought about that for awhile. Sometimes as human beings we get in a funk or something’s not right and we just keep going and doing and operating, but we forget about investing in our relationships. Sometimes all it takes is making sure you look at someone in the eyes, smile and give them a kiss. Simple actions can make our time together more pleasant, even when we feel like we’re caught up in the grind.
  3. Energy and connections are what life is about. There are few things that make me more happy than a genuine experience with someone I’m really connected to. I’ve seen people try so hard to make relationships work when there just isn’t a natural energy or connection. It probably sounds a little woo-woo, but I sincerely believe that there is an element of energy in the world we do not understand and cannot explain. When we force a connection (which I’ve definitely done it the past) it inevitably fails. When we focus our energy on the natural connections that please us, the joy that comes from them is immense.
  4. Imperfection is perfection. I took a Myer’s Briggs test at work this year and discovered what I already knew about myself and what every other Myer’s Briggs test and Myer’s Briggs-like test had told me in the past – that I am a perfectionist. I try very hard at pretty much everything I do. But I think what I’ve learned more and more about perfection as I’ve gotten older is what the definition is to me. Having everything appear to be perfect and look perfect and feel perfect is not perfection; it is stagnation. It is being blind. Perfection to me is trying new things, sometimes failing at them, sometimes being wrong (although not very often in my case…wink wink). Perfection is sharing our failures and our vulnerabilities with others so that they may learn something from them and feel empowered to be vulnerable to us. Perfection in life is feeling the downs so that we may fully appreciate the ups. I love this definition because it allows me to not be scared of doing the wrong thing; it allows me to take action and try something new. As a parent, there are too many things out of my control to be scared of – I don’t need to worry about falling on my face or appearing a little “un-put-together.”
  5. Death is unpredictable and unfair. This year, my step mom and one of my friends lost several family members each. For some of them, we may have known their time was near, but for too many of them, their deaths were completely surprising and unpredictable. Last Christmas my dad spent a lot of time in the hospital and narrowly escaped dying. My dad is not a man of many words, but this Christmas he wrote in our Christmas card: “Love to see your family grow and mature. Enjoy it since it goes so fast. Hoping that 2015 will be joyous and rewarding.” I’ll do my best to heed the advice of enjoying the people around me and my life.
  6. Life is unpredictable and unfair. Every day things happen to us. What I do know is we have a choice about what to put out there in advance and of how to respond after. Even when I know I’m not responding perfectly, I talk to myself about it. If I’m mad about something, I literally sit there an tell myself “you don’t need to be mad Lacie, what is it really going to accomplish?” At the end of the day I don’t want to make myself a happy little robot, but I do want to get better and quicker at processing situations and responding in the most productive way possible.
  7. It’s cliche, but it really is the little things. Sometimes Ellie will randomly say to me “Mom, you look so beautiful” or Piper will blow me a kiss. If joys and sorrows are a bank in life, these little things on a daily basis keep me richer. Cherishing those little moments and responding positively keeps me going and I’ve noticed it keeps the little things more plentiful.
  8. Health feels good. For me, the first year after having a baby is the most difficult. Like all parents, we sacrifice greatly for our kids. Part of that for me has been not prioritizing my normal workout regimen. Getting back into a more active lifestyle makes me feel so good. Putting good food in my body produces the same results. If someone asked me what they can do to make themselves feel better, the first thing I would ask them about is their health. I truly think it’s key.
  9. You can pick your battles with a toddler, but when you do, you better be ready to win. It’s never fun to go through a toddler meltdown. Toddlers are the most one-track-minded people I have ever met. They will wear on you with their request over and over and over again, but once you’ve said no, standing firm is mandatory. I’m no expert for sure (and I know there are many out there), but there is a way to pick a battle and win without a meltdown and in a loving way. It’s tough and definitely a daily struggle, but I truly believe it’s imperative in order to help a toddler grow and learn.
  10. Lead by example. Our kids, our spouses, our co-workers – everyone around us – will respond to us in the way we respond to them. It’s a basic principle we’ve been teaching Ellie. If she grabs toys from Piper, Piper will grab toys from her. If she pushes Piper, Piper will push her. I actually had a breakthrough the other day in the car with Ellie. She was playing with Piper’s new “cell phone” that she got from her buddies Enzo and Archie. Piper was trying to get it from her for a few minutes and Ellie would not give it up. Over and over again I said “Ellie, I know you’re playing with Piper’s toy, but I think she would really love it if you shared with her.” At some point she set the plastic phone down and at some point later I handed Piper Ellie’s Violet (a talking stuffed dog). Ellie kept saying “I want Violet, that’s my Violet.” I said “Ellie, if you want Piper to hand you Violet, maybe you should offer her the cell phone.” Ellie gave Piper the cell phone and Piper handed her the Violet. I literally wanted to jump up and down. The way to get what you want in the world is to give it.
  11. We’re all the same. This is the one thing I’ve thought about so much throughout this year especially. We are all made out of the same stuff. We are all human beings. Some of us were fortunate to be born into lives and families that are more comfortable than others and admittedly I happen to be one of them, something I’m incredibly grateful for. That doesn’t make me any better than anyone else. I literally could have been in a multitude of other situations just out of pure chance. I think about this all the time when I hear people express political views that benefit or harm certain people in the world. I think about it all the time when I hear people give parenting advice. I think about it all the time when something great happens to someone or when something bad happens to someone. If we’re all the same in this world, philosophically we ought to treat each other nicer. We don’t have to love everyone in the world, but by truly understanding we’re all the same and in some way connected, perhaps our actions toward each other would be slightly more positive.

This year has been amazing and incredible, and at the same time challenging and sometimes excruciating. The beauty of a new year is reflecting on that, learning from it and using those learnings to shape the next year and beyond. I guess that’s what a resolution is all about, so my resolution this year is to take what I learned last year and apply it moving forward. Vague, I know. Perhaps lame. But I’ve never been a resolutions person, so why start now?