Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Lucky in Love/Couple's Counseling

I've been taking a mindfulness/meditation class my friend is teaching on Mondays for the last several weeks. Rather than drive home from working in Vancouver and back to NW Portland, I take a couple of hours to myself between work and class. I've been fortunate that the weather has been consistently dry on Monday's, so I have been walking/hiking/running in Forest Park. It is just the solo outdoor time I've been needing in my week. This Monday I forgot my sports bra so simply walked the 5 miles of trail. I saw many runners, and several mountain bikers. Each guy on a bike who passed, admittedly, I checked out. I have a thing for active mountain men, after all. A few were cute enough, but I caught myself comparing them to my husband. "His leg tattoos are kind of sexy, but I like Alex's better." "He has a beard. Alex grows a better beard." "That guy seems like a badass. Alex is seriously a badass. I bet Alex is faster." Then I got lost in thought about what a catch my husband truly is (and how I'm not sure why I got so lucky to convince him to fall in love with and marry me).

Even though I didn't know him then, I feel a sense of pride that he was a D1 athlete. I like that he played soccer at Oregon State, and it does indeed earn him some clout in certain circles. I was marveling the other day at what a natural athlete he is. Sometimes I find it annoying, because everything I can do he can do better. Skiing, hiking, biking, even running, there's no competition there. (Remember that time I trained hard and ran my second-best half-marathon time? And Alex ran the Vancouver Half, too, but without training? And I finished before him, oh-so-pleased with myself? And then we got home to check our actual times, and HE BEAT ME BY 20 SECONDS?!?! I just crossed the finish line before him, because he was peeing or taking a pre-run dump or drinking coffee or something casual).

Even when we got the slackline a couple years ago, I started out a little more stable and successful, but in just a week's time he was walking back and forth without a stick to balance and could even stop a fall. I imagine I might be better at yoga than him, but only because my limbs are proportionately longer. His dad often comments about how much he likes to watch Alex ski, about how comfortable and graceful and easy he makes it look. I don't necessarily notice those kinds of things, but I see what he means. He does make it look easy. Even bike commuting, he just decided one day in Eugene that if he couldn't live in the mountains and mountain bike everyday, then he should learn to love riding on the road. So he did. And without all the talk and the gear that often makes enthusiasts annoying. He biked nearly everyday to Southridge, which was only 5 or 6 miles each way. But even when he transferred to West Linn, he still bikes a few days each week, some 13 miles each way. In the dark. So yeah, I think he's kind of a sexy athlete badass.

But then he goes and shows me how smart and well-read and perceptive he is, too. He talks to my friend's parents all about Ken Kesey. And then carries on a political/financial conversation with his brother and dad. And understands current socio-emotional issues and goes out of his way to advocate for his students. And then there's his charm. All my friends love him. Seriously. I think some of them like him more than me. And his ability to easily get along with anyone anywhere. And his sense of humor. And supreme parenting. I could go on. But I might barf on myself if I do. Too much praise all on one page. Sure, his nose is crooked. He spends all his money beer-making supplies. And he NEVER puts his shoes away. But bitch please, small potatoes.

Yet here we find ourselves, an upcoming appointment for couples counseling. I feel a bubbling sense of shame just at writing that. And certainly at the knowledge that at least a few others will read that admission. I'll freely discuss my near-lifetime involvement in individual therapy, but there's something about confessing participation in therapy as a couple/family that feels more vulnerable. So there you have it, my "truth" for the day.

When I sheepishly admitted this to a few friends/acquaintances at a 2nd birthday party the other day, I was surprised that each of them had also participated in therapy with their respective partners. They sang the praises of just a few sessions, to help them get through hard times, and were encouraging for our endeavor.

Me, well, I'm just anxious as can be about it. I told Alex this weekend that I wanted to cancel the appointment, to save the money, and to my surprise he said he wanted to go. That he had things he wanted to talk about and thought it was a good idea. While I appreciate his openness to accepting professional mediation, his interest only heightens my sense of anxiety. What if he tells me things I don't want to hear? What if I say something I can't take back? What if it's all bad? What if it's all good? What if he decides he doesn't want to be with me anymore? What if we decide to continue this attempt to grow our family? What if we decide not to? I am indeed the one who initiated the idea for couples counseling, sought out a provider, and made the appointment - for us to address issues related to not/having more kids and in/fertility - and here I am the one trying to bail last minute.

I'm not sure if and how much I'll be sharing about this process on here. As tell-all as I often come off, both at the expense of my husband and myself, I tend toward over-sharing what I consider funny things. And all this family planning business doesn't feel so funny right now. At least, not yet. I'm sure we'll try to find the humor in it all (defense mechanism anyone?), but it might take a bit of distance. And a resolution. Definitely, a resolution. And if my future-hypothetical-second-kid ever comes across this mess of words on a page, and feels unwanted or unloved, I promise to pay for your therapy, too. You have my word. A public declaration. In writing.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

(43 Months) - 3 Years + 7 Months

She now likes princesses (sputter, gag, ugh).
She got her hair cut, and has a morning dose of "hair medicine" to help tame that beast of a squirrel's nest.
She coined the term "vagina bridge."
Prolific artist. She's single-handedly bringing down every last tree with the amount of paper this one goes through.
She said "motherfucker," and I've rarely laughed so hard. #greatparenting
Can say she was marooned on BIRI.
A poet in the making, she told Beebee: "Your car is old. Your house is very old. You are very, very old. I am young."
Getting good at her letters, identifying nearly all of them in written words (only capital letters), and writing several, including F, E, O, P, B, M, N, A, S. I'm hopeful she'll love the written word as much as both her parents do.
Still crushing on Caillou. Asks nearly daily if she can watch a show (my chest tightens even writing that).
She still prefers to wear her shoes on the wrong feet.
She's a nail picker.
She's up for new things, like riding aboard a paddle board with daddy, or going for a family canoe ride, or trying a new food.
We thought there was going to be a resurgence of the epic tantrums circa earlier this year, but alas, it was just a two-night ordeal, not the makings for a trend. And also, we started bedtime a bit earlier.
Loves reading the same few library books every single night for a couple weeks, then getting new ones. Lately we've been reading: Pretzel, about a very long dachshund who is in love with Greta, who doesn't care for long dogs, but Pretzel wins her over by saving her life; Swimming, about tiny fish who get eaten by sea predators, and the crafty idea of one of the survivors to make their school look like a large predator by swimming in the shape of a big ole fish; and You Can't See Your Bones With Binoculars, my personal favorite, because I'm a health/medicine/bio-science geek like that, and apparently she is too. ("Mama! Our fingers and toes are PHALANGES!!!")

The skybridge between the VA and OHSU, when she and Beebee came for a Wednesday coffee date.

This was my first visit from Francie at the Portland VA campus since she's been a kid, rather than a baby. She and my dad were waiting for me in the lobby, while I was with a patient back in the treatment area. I walked the patient out an Francie ran up to me, "mamaaaa!! Did you help that person?!?" Then she handed me a drawing for "the person you helped. With a brain injury." I couldn't help but feel a bit embarrassed, like she said aloud something the rest of us would just think. But also proud, such compassion in that one. Call it a HIPAA violation, but I introduced her to my "friend" and let her give him her art. It was a sheet of printer paper with black letter A's all over it. He's a college student, so maybe it's grade inspiration?

Xander and the Bean sharing snacks at the park. It was like creepy forecasting for the future.

Greenleaf visit.

Working out with Daddy in the WLHS weight room.

Power stance. She chooses her own outfits. And clutches. They knocked down the two houses on our street, which made for some good preschool entertainment.


Mila's 4th birthday party was at a creepy-ish tea house, where Jeremiah and Alex made it extra creepy by also playing dress-up. And drinking whiskey in tiny teacups.

We celebrated Beebee's 72nd birthday with brunch at Bread and Ink Cafe and a SE Portland Parkways walk.

Crossing the new public transit/walker/biker Tilikum Bridge.

Girlcation to BIRI to visit Bri and Zahavah.

Windy times island on island drives.

Island bound = painting with grown-up paints.

Uncle B and his Bean. My heart.

Before/After haircut at Sit Still. From manbun to bob, she can rock it all.

Her Daddy was SO happy to have his girls back after a prolonged girlcation away.

Flamly portrait. This has replaced the photo from our wedding that has been at my bedside for 6 years. Is this what having kids does? Eliminates the memories of being young and thin and relatively beautiful, with a face that looks overly round and with a crooked smile?

Her drawing changes, from faces to bodies.

Apron, buns, hearing protection, Fetty Wap. The makings for a good home video.

Texting the BFF's about all the hilarious random shit this Bean says. Potty mouth.


She told her teacher her mom is her best friend!!! I've trained her so well.

We spent a weekend away at our friends' cabin near Willamette Pass. Paddleboards, canoes, good food, and great company.

Francine, Jo, Amy, Peter.

Peter and Francie sharing a stick on "Frog Island."

Flamly at Crescent Lake.

Indoor s'mores are a treat.

Flamly canoe ride.

Francie and Evan loving on each other.

Mama time.

This just reminds me of Francie, because I can't even tell you how many times I'm asking her to please only scratch her butthole in the bath. I mean, the girl gets her ass wiped with baby wipes, what's she complaining about?!?

Her first word, "pooop." #proud

Drawing Grandma Nancy - with earrings and legs. "Isn't she pretty?"

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Grandma Nancy's Arms and Legs

Kids are notorious for asking tough questions. I still have it on my to-do list to look up why flamingoes stand on only one foot. And I'm constantly referring her to her daddy for anything related to how cars work or what time raccoons wake up in the evening. But then there are the big stumpers - how babies are made, the value of money, and what happens when we die. For better or worse, my Bean has been exposed to conversations and concepts of death from an early ages mostly because she's got a morbid mother. But she, too, seems to have a slight natural propensity for dark things, a little Wednesday Adams in her. 

For example, her most memorable moment in Ireland was the dead pig - explaining how the pig had an infection from having its tail removed, then how it died in its cage with other the other pigs who just trampled it, and the subsequent stinky smell. 

Once, when she came upon a slug apparently eating a dead bird, she was fascinated, her curiosity piqued. Then she surprised me with her sadistic proclamation - if she were alone she would STOMP the dead bird. 

And then the other day she asked me when Beebee would "be dead" (sorry, Dad). She seemed to understand that if he were dead he wouldn't be able to hang out with her on Wednesdays. 

Tonight she inquired about Grandma Nancy. 

"Does Grandma Nancy not have arms or legs?" she asked while I was clearing the table after dinner. She was in the kitchen, too, practicing her letters on the chalk wall. 

"Ummmm that's kind of a hard question to answer," I giggled. "When she was alive she had arms and legs. But she's dead now, so she doesn't really have a body at all."

"Look! I drawed her ... Doesn't she look pretty?!?"

Ultimately, she seemed appeased by my vague answer, and gave Grandma Nancy's portrait two legs and some earrings. 

While I am so very grateful for a number of things about this interaction - her eagerness to ask questions, her interest in Grandma Nancy, her evolving art skills - I am also fully aware why even atheists might reference heaven as a place where the dead reside.

Friday, October 16, 2015

(Just Pics) - Sauvie Island Pumpkins

We spent last Sunday in our traditional trip to Kruger's Farm on Sauvie Island with Laura and Garret to get pumpkins. Beer was drunk, large sows were observed, ponies were ridden, hay rides were taken, pumpkins were chosen, sausages were eaten, and sunshine was enjoyed.

Monday, October 12, 2015

(Pics) - Marooned on Block Island, RI

Alternate title: I Survived the Ferry, Bitches!

When the swells were reported to be about 8 feet. And one of the ferry workers told me that the ride was indeed about a "7" on a scale of 1-10.

And then it took me six days to get back on that beast.

The Bean and I took what was planned to be a 4-day trip back east, to Block Island, Rhode Island, to visit my brother and his wife. I checked the weather ahead of time - by check I mean I looked at the icons on the iPhone app - and anticipated that we wouldn't be doing much hanging out at the beach in bikinis. What I didn't do was anticipate that there might be actual bad weather, as in, I'd-rather-die-than-ride-the-ferry bad weather. Or the threat of a hurricane. Nah, none of this occurred to me.

We nailed our red-eye, although I felt a little hungover from the Ativan that travel necessitates. It was rainy when we arrived in Providence the next morning. But I didn't think much of it when I struggled to get the carseat in the taxi all by myself. (Block Island is accessible planes-trains-and-automobile style; it requires at least two flights, a cab ride, and a ferry ride to get to the island). Both the Bean and I passed out during the hour-long taxi ride, and when I awoke, just minutes before the 11 a.m. ferry was set to leave the dock, it was raining sideways and the seas looked like something out of Castaway or The Perfect Storm or some other awful boat/water movie I've never actually seen. We hunkered down in the lobby of a shitty little motel across the street from the ferry dock for several hours, awaiting the fate of the 3 p.m. ferry. I wasn't sure I was going to make it on that boat, and with closer examination of the weather, this would likely be our last chance. Uncle B, inspired by my anxiety and avoidance and the possibility that we would cross thousands of miles to only be separated by a dozen at sea, ferried himself from BI to the mainland to rescue us. And the Bean couldn't have been more delighted to be surprised by his appearance. I sucked it up and we all loaded the 3 o clock, and I meditated/slept/prayed for the entire one hour and fifteen minute ride from hell. When I got off the boat I ran to land. Literally. And I vowed not to get back on that bitch until the ocean was glassy, even if it took until next summer. Turns out Hurricane Joaquin had the same idea, and the ferries stopped running for several days, extending our stay. Who else can call into work and say they can't make it Monday or Tuesday and to cancel their full patient schedule because they've been marooned on a remote island?

I did more of certain activities in this concentrated period of time than I have cumulatively:
- posted to social media
- rolled dice with lobsters on them 
- thought about ways to gauge my eyes out
- let my child watch TV. Hours of TV. Disney Junior. Nickelodeon. Calliou. Daniel Tiger.
- sat/reclined on the couch without being sick or pregnant 
- eaten dinner at a fine dining restaurant

- checked the maritime reports
- painted with nice paints and nice paper
- let my child take selfies upon selfies with my iPhone

It was SO GOOD to see the Bean love on her Uncle B and Aunt Zahavah. And we will look forward to their NW visit next month.

Our week on Block Island in pictures ...

Team Red prevails. F got a new big kid suitcase for our trip.

PJ's at PDX for the red-eye.

Girlfriend got to visit the cockpit! She still wants to be an astronaut, not a pilot.

Uncle B to the rescue. I don't even look as shitty as I feel.


That shit was BLUSTERY.

Her drawing has progressed from faces to people.

Like I said, windy.

And island drive to the North Lighthouse.

I love this girl.

Her favorite at the animal farm were the "toddler" emus.

Z, J, F, and B.

Different day, same island. Drive to the Bluffs with SE Lighthouse in the back. Uncle B, Aunt Z, and the Bean.


My heart felt so full seeing Francie love her Uncle B so much. Grandma Nancy would have been delighted as well.

So. Much. Art.

Home-cooked meal when your bro is a chef.


Baking with Z, aprons and all.

The white doesn't usually go back that far.

A morning walk to get coffee, at the cafe where I spent all of my travel money.

Fancy dinner out at the Manisses. She's pointing to her uncle's name on the menu as Executive Chef.

This was just before Francie made new "friends" and she basically crashed a rehearsal dinner. That's our girl.

In the kitchen with Chef B Love.

Chowda at Mohegan, reminiscent of island life with LVB.

I did get a bit of reading in. Only if the Bean was watching some tube.

There was a lot of this.

Fresh homemade apple pie face.

Lots of yoga and stretching.


Oral surgery. Bri lost a tooth stealing my Jujyfruits. That'll show him.

Our guest room. And the Bean watching Calliou. Don't judge me, I already hate myself.

A break in the weather! And another island drive, this time we got to enjoy some sun.

This girl.

My person.

B and Z.

Flash tattoos.

Looking at pics.

Bri gets a matching tummy tat.


This would steal Grandma Nancy's heart, I think.

Tha gang.


He let her drive his truck!

Annnnnd, it was sunny, and very nearly glassy, when we left the island.

Until next time, BIRI.

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