500 Miles

Last year, I made a goal to run 800-ish miles, and failed miserably. I thought I got close but when I looked at my Garmin activity, my actual miles logged was less than 200. Weak. I was ready to try again this year but then did some calculations and had a serious talk with myself about what I can actually accomplish given this new weather, two kids, a dog, and various activities. 20+ miles a week was not something that I could commit to for 52 weeks. So I regrouped and thought about what I could commit to that would be a reachable goal but still something that I would have to work at and decided to try for 500 miles, less than 10 miles a week. Which, I admit, doesn’t sound like a lot but please consider that I have to plan this around nap time, school drop off and pick up, weather, swim lessons, gymnastics, ballet, meal times, and whatever illness might pop up in a given week. Les than 10 is something I can do. 

I sat down and broke down the mileage so that I would know exactly where I needed to be and when and then made a list of other things I would need to support me in this goal. This is totally out of the norm for me. Usually when I make a goal, I don’t put a lot of thought into them. I say them to myself (rarely letting anyone else know what I’m planning) and then go about my day-to-day life. I don’t make a plan; I just sort of assume I’ll reach my goal. 

Most of the time, as you might expect, I don’t accomplish my goal. And yes, it feels pretty shitty to fail but I’ve never thought about changing how I work. One year I made a goal to read 100 books and, if not for a friend who pointed out that is basically two books a week, I would probably have failed because I wasn’t thinking in terms of what I need to do. I just sort of thought that I would easily read 100 books without a plan. 

So I have my plan written down and I have my gps watch and my running journal and I set out to run my 500 miles. The first few weeks I had to really work at those 9.61 miles. I had to make myself run on Sunday to reach that goal. But then I was getting more than 10 and I was setting higher weekly mileage goals and I was reaching them. When I got sick and had to take a week off, that helped keep me on track. 

I was supposed to have 83.33 miles by February 28. I reached that number a week early. 

I’m supposed to have 166.66 miles by April 30. I’m only 20 miles away from that number and it’s not even April. 

I’m so unbelievably excited about the progress I’m making. I can feel a difference in my running and in my attitude. I’m stronger, I’m happier, and I’m really proud of myself for making a plan.

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Three Years: Stella 


Stella turned three years old right in the middle of our move so, of course, we celebrated multiple times. Once in Hawaii, at the same restaurant where we’ve celebrated all of her birthdays.



Then a big party, surrounded by her entire family when we got to Vancouver. We had the cake we always get for the kids’ birthday and the weather was nice enough that she could wear her favorite dress. No beach this year, but I think have grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins more than made up for that.


On her actual birthday, we woke up early and went to a restaurant where you can make pancakes at your table. Stella loves pancakes and would probably eat them for every meal if I let her, so this was the perfect way to start her third year. We bought her a bike and she got enough toys to keep her occupied until our things arrived.

The other day as we were getting ready for school, Stella ran into my bathroom. “Mooooom,” she called as she ran. “I want to sleep with my sleeping bag tonight,” she said as seriously as possible before adding, “because I’m suffering and I’m cold.” She used her sad and cold faces to emphasize how much she was suffering and how cold she was. No matter that she sleeps in the warmest room in the house and regularly wakes up covered in sweat. As soon as the word “suffering” popped out of her mouth I started to laugh, a strange mixture of sadness that my baby knows this word and can use it in context (however untruthful it might have been) and pride that she knows this word and can use it context.

I use Google photos to back up my pictures and videos and every day it shows what I was documenting on that day one year ago, two years ago, etc. A few days after Christmas, there were some videos of Stella, snippets of longer conversations I didn’t manage to record. Just Stella, dressed in the fairy costume we had given her for Christmas. Her voice is so little. I sent the video to Wes and he said that was her voice, and yes, of course it’s her voice. But it’s the voice of a 2-year old who is still learning how to say a complete sentence and what things are called and how to describe something new.

I see the changes daily, which is to say: I don’t see them at all. They are subtle and slow when you’re around her all the time, but comparing the Stella of one year ago to the Stella of today and I’m stopped in my tracks. She still seems so small to me. How is it possible that she was even smaller? She still has so much to learn that it’s hard to recall how much she’s already discovered.

She regularly has to pee as soon as she sits down at the dining room table for any meal and as she’s running to the bathroom she always looks back and says, “Make sure James doesn’t get any of my food.” I would scoff at the idea that James wanted what Stella had when his plate was exactly the same but a few months ago we switched him to a booster seat so now he can climb out. Without fail, once she’s in the bathroom, he’ll climb down from his chair, walk to her seat, and try to steal her food. I try to tell her that it’s because he loves her so much, but I know how annoying it is to have to share with someone just because they love you.

We’ve stopped nap time after a month or so of terrible sleep all around. The first week or so was a little rough, but we’re in the swing of things now. She’s sleeping better and going to bed easier (yeah, sure, Dad had to step in and play Tough Parent for a while because I just couldn’t stand the tears and screaming) but every third or fourth day she hits her wall and needs a good nap.

She’s in preschool near our house and loves it. The first day, she ran in without a glance back. It’s hard to get her to tell us what she learned, but when she sits down to play teacher with her dolls, or points out letters and numbers that she’s learned, I’m glad we enrolled her. James misses her while she’s gone but the school also has an area for kids to play, whether they go to school or not, and he loves that.

She’s starting to play by herself and use her imagination to create scenes for her ponies, or dolls, or cars and I’m tempted to hop in and play, but don’t because learning how to play alone is just as important as learning how to play with friends.

This morning she snuggled up in my arms and told me, “I love my mama.” She does this often and it’s the best part of my day. It reminds to take a step back, slow down, and work on being a better person.



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Welcome Home

We left Hawaii on the night of September 11th and I remember thinking that I’d be a mess of tears at leaving the place we’d called home for the past 5+ years. We left with a bunch of suitcases, a stroller, and Tsunami in her kennel. Everything else would get packed up two weeks later when Wes flew back to supervise. I remember thinking that I’d be a mess of tears when we left, but really, it felt just like every other time we’d left for a trip. Our living room still had everything in it. There was a moment when I nearly lost it. Wes had started taking pictures down from the bedrooms and I made the mistake of looking in on it. The bare walls of the place where so much of life happened were a little too much for me and I quickly went back downstairs where I could pretend that nothing was changing.

When we landed in Portland and saw my parents, and then went to Wes’ parents and had dinner all together and I forgot about being sad. For six years we’ve lived at least a 12-hour travel day away, at least. Getting to and from Hawaii isn’t easy, and that had been our biggest complaint about living there (yes, there were other complaints, but that was the Big One). That weekend we had a birthday party for Stella and had all the family over for a BBQ and it was so fun.

The next week we went up to look for houses. We hadn’t quite decided where we wanted to live but had narrowed it down to two locations. Once we looked at both, it was clear we wanted to live in Gig Harbor. The city has a small town feel but also has everything that we need. It’s full of trees and trails the overall feel of the town is welcoming. We spent three days looking at houses and narrowed it down between two. We picked up our cars from Seattle and on the drive home we decided which one we wanted and then put an offer in a few days later. By Saturday, we had accepted the counter offer and had a house:

 Well, sort of had a house. The process is so drawn out. For a month we signed contracts and dealt with the home inspection and lived out of suitcases. After Wes spent a week in Hawaii closing out our life there, he had to start work in Federal Way. He would drive up Monday morning and come back to his parents’ house Friday night and spend the weekend. The kids and I spent a night or two in a hotel with him for the inspection and then quickly went back to Vancouver where we all had our own bedrooms and room to play. It still didn’t quite feel real that we had moved. I didn’t miss anything yet because, without a concrete change (a house, our things), it didn’t feel like we had moved yet. It felt like a trip to see our family. We enjoyed the late summer weather and spent time with family and friends and I didn’t miss anything in Hawaii.

We finally got possession of our house on October 23rd, after three nights in two hotels. Our things weren’t scheduled to arrive until Monday so we had all weekend to play around in an empty house. We had so much stuff to  move up from Vancouver that I’m still not sure where it all came from. Tsunami didn’t even come up with us! IMG_0894

After a few days of sleeping in bags on the floor, painting a few rooms (turning one from a dark dungeon to some place guests would want to sleep, and adding a pink accent wall to Stella’s room), exploring our neighborhood, and eating at every restaurant we could, our things finally arrived. The weekend was beautiful, so of course it rained Monday morning when the movers arrived!
And then proceeded to rain and rain and rain through most of November and December. El Nino is hitting hard and making it rain. Everyone I have talked to says that this much rain isn’t normal, but that hasn’t made it any easier to transition to. We had a few weeks without a dog and were able to get out when ever we wanted, or stay inside if the weather was bad, but once she got up we had to start getting her out every day, and that’s when things got rough. Have you ever taken an excited dog and two toddlers for a walk in the rain? It starts out fun, with a lot of puddle jumping, but it dissolves quickly into tears because pants are wet or hands are cold or, something.  I didn’t have any friends, the kids didn’t have any friends, and it was always raining and cold. I missed Hawaii. I missed our friends. After listening to screaming children every time I went upstairs, I even missed our tiny apartment where I was always 10 steps away from the kids. Even harder to deal with than the rain, though, was the dark. Hawaii has a pretty even 12 hours of light every day, year round. As the dark started rolling in, I’d think Oh, cool. I’ll start dinner and have a glass of wine and Wes will be home soon only to look at the clock and realize that it was only 3 o’clock. Those were rough nights. I don’t recommend moving from Hawaii to the Pacific Northwest in the middle of the darkest time of the year.

But then Stella started school and we gradually got our things put away and pictures hung. I started running in the rain and tried to time it so that one of the kids was asleep and not whining. I tried to cut myself some slack on cooking and cleaning and, really, everything. Some days we watch a lot of movies and some days we do all the activities. And that’s good enough for me.

The kids have seen snow a few times now and love to go outside and play in it for a few minutes before they’re too cold. Tsunami still hates the rain and cold but we finally decided to try to leave her inside and she didn’t destroy anything! We hope that in the summer she’ll be back to loving the grass and backyard, but for now it’s a little too cold for this Hawaii dog and she gets to enjoy the house while we’re gone.

We have trails and a few ponds near our house and it’s mostly easy to get out there for walk. The kids love to splash in puddles, or crack the ice, or just watch ducks. Tsunami loves to run around just exploring it all. It’s amazing how much energy she has now that it’s not so hot every day.  Our backyard doesn’t get a lot of sun so we don’t spend too much time out there. James loves it but I’m having a hard time keeping warm! But the time we have spent out there has been great. The kids helping Wes mow the lawn, or building snowmen, or climbing on the retaining wall and jumping down. And did I mention that we have a hot tub? Yes, that’s been nice.

I’m slowly starting to make friends and when I start to miss the beach, I remind myself of all the times I saw pictures of kids dressed in snowsuits playing in the snow, or hiking, and felt jealous that my kids hadn’t had a chance to do that. This summer there will be plenty of time to enjoy the sun. For now, it’s time to bundle up and enjoy the cold.

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18 Months: James

James turned 18 months old on January 1st and marked the occasion by not getting out of his pajamas. Seriously, the kids loves his pjs and most days it’s a big production to convince him to put clothes on. I’m not sure I blame him, though. It is pretty cold and some days I wouldn’t mind hanging out all day in footie pjs.


I took him for his wellness check up this morning and he’s 33.5 inches long (a one inch growth 3 months!), and weighs 24lbs 8oz (less than a pound growth), which puts him at the high end for height and middle for weight. He didn’t have any shots this time and thoroughly impressed the NP by not freaking out when she examined him. I was shocked because he’s never been easy at the pediatrician. This woman had the magic touch and I’m hoping that all future visits go this smoothly.

He is mostly happy but when he is not, he makes sure everyone knows. If he has to wait 30 seconds for whatever fruit he’s asked for, he will scream and cry like it’s the end of the world. Wes has tried the stern approach of looking at him and sharply saying, “Pull yourself together” and it works, but he will hear no such thing from me.

He loves to be outside no matter what the temperature is and would happily play out back all day if only Stella and I didn’t get so cold so quickly! Of course, when his hands do get too cold to be outside, it’s the end of the world (again).

After a few rough months of sleep, we’re getting back on track and he’s sleeping through the night, though he still wakes up way too early for our liking (especially now that we lived in the land of constant dark!) and is sometimes so angry that he probably should go back to bed, but try telling an 18-month old that. If Stella hears him in the morning, she’ll run to his room to check on him and then come wake me and Wes up, as if we can’t hear him calling out (we can, we just want to see if he’ll go back to sleep). Actually, I think it cheers him up to see her first thing in the morning, and any time Stella’s playing nicely with him, I’m happy.

He’s taken an interest in trains and cars, but also dolls and strollers and dress up. He will bring me Stella’s tutus and when we put it on him, he’ll twirl around and he looks so damn happy.


He loves to cuddle, but has a hard time sitting still for too long. A few nights ago I asked him if he wanted to snuggle before bed and he said yes, but after just a few minutes he was ready to get in bed. When we lay him in bed, he puts his hands behind his head in the ultimate rest position and there’s something about a toddler in that position that is so cute and hilarious all at once.


He loves piggy back rides and running around like a crazy person in the house. We have so much space here that he can run from everyone. His vocabulary is growing each day and lately he’s taken to squealing “Get you!” when he runs around.

He’s the reason for most of my frustrations between 3pm and the time Wes walks through the door, but I get it. He wants what he wants but doesn’t yet have all the words to say what he wants. Sure he can tell you that he wants cheerios, but he can’t articulate that he wants to pour them himself, or that he wants grapes on the vine. And he doesn’t understand why we won’t just let him hold the damn dog leash, even though he took a big crash last night and darted right in to our neighbor’s house when Wes gave him a shot at it. But he’s also the reason for so many smiles throughout the day. His smile is huge and is laugh is infectious and his love for everyone in this house is immense.


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First Snow

The kids have sort of seen snow before but it’s never stuck on the ground so it’s a little hard for them to understand how it’s different than rain. This afternoon, though, it finally started to stick so we all bundled up to check it out.    

James was a little unsure of it but was excited to be outside in his rain boots. I decided to get a family photo before everyone got too cold and started crying. 

It was a little hard to get one with everyone looking at the camera, particularly Stella who was preoccupied with all the snow falling on her hair!

I tried to write our names in the snow but it didn’t show up and Stella immediately wanted to skate once she realized how slippery it was.   
 Tsunami ran around like a crazy dog and James just sort of stared in awe. We’ve got while until everyone here is acclimated to the cold weather but seeing them enjoy this new environment will hopefully make the transition a little easier. 


Filed under Family, Life in the PNW


A few weeks ago, Santa came through the neighborhood in a fire truck. The kids were excited until they had a chance to get close and then they wanted nothing to do with him. Wes and I were prepared to skip the visit this year, but then they suddenly couldn’t stop talking about Santa. There was a Santa-looking man at Costco wearing the red and white hat, never-ending Christmas movies on Netflix, and James just kept saying, “Santa” in a sad little voice so we decided to brave the holiday shopping and find one for them to visit. 

We settled on Bass Pro Shop because they have a million stuffed animals and a huge fish tank that would entertain them while we waited. We got there around 2pm and the line looked pretty short but then we were told we needed a Bass Pass and the next time slot was 5pm. So we got our pass, walked around for a bit and then headed to the nearby mall to make a return and kill some more time. 

Back at Bass, we wandered the aisles looking for a present for Tsunami. We walked through every department and finally headed to Santa’s wonderland where there was coloring, toys, games, and a train to entertain them until it was our time. 

We anticipated them freaking out about sitting on a stranger’s lap, Santa or not, but he was incredibly nice and asked both of their names before telling them they were going to get a picture and then a candy cane. Luckily, candy canes have been my kids ‘ love language lately and as soon as they heard that they sat patiently for the picture.   

When asked what they would like for Christmas, they both stared blankly. Strange considering Stella spent a good portion of our afternoon grabbing things and proclaiming “oh, I love this!” Wes got them to agree that they’d like the very things Santa was actually bringing them, and then they grabbed their candy canes but very nicely waited until they were out of Santa’s lap to demand we open them. 

All in all, a success. We are spending Christmas with Wes’ family this year, our first family Christmas in 6 years! 

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Filed under James, Stella

Adventures of Ratface & RatGrace

For Unlce Porter’s spring break, he decided to come visit us. We were thrilled to have him. We started off with a trip to the Kroc Center, where Stella showed off her swimming skills. And also used Uncle Porter as a sort of flotation device. 

I got someone to enjoy whiskey with me and teach me new cooking stuff. Wes had been working long hours for a few months at this point, so just having another adult to talk to was really nice.

Our first full day we decided to try a the Hanauma Bay Ridge hike when our swim lessons were cancelled. We got a late start and had to park at Koko Head and then got a little lost trying to find the trail head, which is actually a gate with a “No Trespassing” sign so by the time we actually started the hike, we were all a little tired and hot (not to mention worried that we were going to get fined for trespassing because I worry about things like that) so we didn’t make it to the top. We managed to still get a great view and Stella walked most of it so we called it a win and celebrated with Kona Brewing for lunch.

My brother is like a giant kid, so Stella had a blast with him from the very start. Wednesday afternoon we headed to a small beach in Ko ‘Olina that is usually full of sea turtles. We try to take guests here to see them, even though it’s kind of a pain to get in and out of with small children. My brother said he wasn’t expecting such large turtles, which is kind of funny because when I think of a sea turtle I think of something rather large. Uncle Porter convinced Stella to let him bury her, which is something she’s never been interested in before.

The next day we decided to trek into town to try some Indian food at Monsoon Indian near Ala Moana (if you’re looking for good Indian food on Oahu, go here.). Stella was a big of the samosas (who isn’t?) and tried everything else. Her favorite, in true toddler form, was the rice.

After lunch, we wandered around the mall and found Stella a new beach hat before heading to Ala Moana Beach Park to swim.

At the beach the kids got to burn off some energy after sitting for most of the morning. It’s a lot rockier there than we’re used to at Ko ‘Olina, but we still had a lot of fun. Uncle Porter brought a selfie stick that he and Coop had received as a gift so we were able to get some group photos, though it’s not as easy to use as I thought they were.

On our way to the showers at the beach, Stella started crawling around in the sand and grunting and Uncle Porter nearly lost his damn mind he thought it was so funny. I managed to get a short video of them grunting back and forth to each other while Porter tried not to fall down with laughter.

After the beach we checked on traffic and decided that we should have dinner and wait it out before heading back home. James was asleep before we even got back to the mall and slept all through dinner but we still managed to have a peaceful drive home and put him to bed on time!

Saturday Wes miraculously had off so we made a day of Haleiwa for breakfast burritos and a little shopping.

After Haleiwa we went back to the turtle beach at Ko ‘Olina. It was Uncle Porter’s last day so we decided to make the most of it and just go full tilt! Stella and James both fell asleep on the way home from the beach and I think Stella would have slept all night if we let her, but we woke her up to go to Monkeypod.

We came home and put the kids to bed and then enjoyed one last glass of whiskey. Uncle Porter’s flight out was early the next morning so we didn’t stay up too late. Good thing I have James as my alarm clock. James & I dropped him off at the airport and then grabbed donuts. The apartment was decidedly quiet the next week and having him here for nearly a week just made me sad that we didn’t live near our families.

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