Thursday, May 21, 2009

Songs of change

I get the feeling that we are moving into a time of transition. And I don't mean to reference the world and society, which is arguably in its own transition between changing leaders and the changing face of our economy. No, I mean this quite selfishly. There is a lot of change on the horizon for me and my family.

To run through briefly:

- I am (hopefully - crossing fingers) starting nursing school in fall.
- Stephen and I will no longer be singing with the Seattle Bach Choir with no immediate plans for singing anywhere else.
- Stephen's mom (who is Catherine's day care provider) is losing her house and therefore her day care. She will still be watching her grandkids, but that will be (get ready for it...) at our house!
- Two very dear friends of ours, and part of Catherine's godfamily, will be moving overseas and they will be missed very much.

Alright, so the list doesn't look very long when I write it like that. But these are huge, life altering changes for us. Interwoven between these changes are doubts, unknowns, hope, excitement, sadness, and... emptiness.

The emptiness I mention here only refers to the change of us not singing any more. We decided to stop singing with this choir because of our changing priorities and the political garbage that has been happening within the choir. It has nothing to do with us not wanting to sing. Unfortunately singing for us this past year has meant a weekly 2 hour round trip to Seattle and the stress of dealing with ridiculous ... ugh... grrr... just plain stupidness. (for the lack of a better way to really explain it) It has been less joy and more stress, which is not what singing is meant to be.

It's the right decision, but it leaves me feeling very sad. Making this decision brought upon a lot of soul searching for me. I closely examined what singing means to me, and where my voice and music experience and capibilities could bring me. It led me to an unexpected path - realizing and accepting the limitations of my skill. I've always been insecure about my voice. My voice is much more of a supporting role, not a leading actress. And not even in a Judi_Dench kind of way. More like a person in the chorus in a musical. And in the back row at that. So this has always been at the back of my mind in the form of insecurity. It's different now - this is knowing my limitations.

"Come on Brie, don't say that! You're great! Believe in yourself!"

OK, I know, I know. But it's not like that. It was hard coming to this conclusion. I've fought for so long to give myself confidence. And I just couldn't understand that if God gave me this gift, what use is it if I'm not good enough to really use it? The answer that I was given for this very question is what gave me the acceptance I needed: just because you have a gift from God does not mean that you have to be the best in it, and just because you are not the best does not mean that it is not a gift from God.

So I will still sing. I will sing with Catherine and teach her to love music. I will sing in the shower. I will sing in the garden. I've been thinking about joining my church choir again, if my new schedule in fall allows. And I will sing karaoke, oh YES! I love my karaoke!!! But will I sing Mozart, Bach, Eben, Britten, Poulenc...? I don't know. Maybe again someday. But for now I will remember and cherish all of the incredible memories that we have with this choir and choirs that I've been with previously. I will enjoy our last concert this weekend. And we will move on.

Mother's day, part two

My mom and sis came up to visit last weekend, making it the second part of mother's day for me. On Saturday we went up to Seattle and walked around downtown. That night I had the performace with the Puget Sound Symphony Orchestra, so they got to come to that. And of course Stephen came up for that, as well as his dad and new girlfriend, Claire. After the performance we went to the Cheesecake Factory. We had a great time laughing and enjoying the best desserts on earth.
Sunday they got to spend some more time with Catherine, and we went to the ZOO!! Lots of fun and lots of pictures!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Mother's day, part one

Pictures from the first part of my mother's day, which was Sunday morning. We had breakfast at Jen's church with some family, and then got to play in the park for a little bit. My mother's day present from Stephen? Besides being all around supportive and extra attentive that day? A couple of new garden tools, which I had asked for since mine broke not just 2 days before, and a stack of clear plastic organizing bins. OK, so I like to organize, but I didn't know what he was getting at. Then he explained that the bins come with a promise - for him to organize all of his computer/electronic components and parts. YEA!!!!!!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

mother's day

I've been struggling with mother's day this year. I'm down that I've had to work on Mother's day weekend for the last 3 years. And not just a little work shift that makes doing anything else inconvenient. More like working 20 hours in 2 days and work swallowing up my whole weekend. If you've heard me complain about this a million times already I sincerely apologize and thank you for letting me vent. But I'm sorry, it sucks.

A month ago I told Stephen that I wanted to forget that mother's day existed this weekend and I announced that in our household mother's day would officially be the following weekend. As the day got closer, I changed my mind. To be a mother and to have to miss out on the one special day a year that is all about the appreciation that we secretly (or not so secretly) crave, it just bummed me out. Even if I can't fully participate, I want to join in just a little bit.

So we'll go to breakfast at Jen's church so I can be with her (whom I've shared every motherhood experience since we were both pregnant together) and my godmother/mother-in-law, Theresa. At least for a short time. And more importantly, I'm making every minute spent with Catherine count, before I have to leave. And then my mom and sister are coming up next weekend to spend some special time. So it will be nice. It will work out.

Then there's the gifts - the tokens of the above-mentioned appreciation. I've struggled with this as well, and I'm just now realizing why. I guess I haven't quite figured out yet what to expect as a mother myself. Ever since I've became a mom there is only one thing to truly expect for this day: work. But what do I want for gifts, what do I expect from those around me whom I am craving this appreciation from?

So I thought about it - what have I done for my mom for 30 years? There's been the handmade cards, the flowers, the breakfast in bed. A gift every once in a while - usually handmade. But one thing was always the same - spending time with mom. And maybe an especially tight hug and a special kiss.

So is that my problem? Because I can't have the time that I want with my family, I'm looking for something else? I kept giving Stephen hints about things that I wanted. Because it's not about gifts. It's about time together. It's about saying "thank you" and "I love you". And maybe a handmade card or some other little, hearfelt token to specially say these things.

It's times like this that I still feel like a new mom. I'm still figuring these things out. I usually have a pretty good idea of what to do for my mom. But for me? What do I want? I'll just have to take a cue from the pros. ;)

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Video time

If you haven't already seen these on Facebook, enjoy! If you have already seen them, enjoy again!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

First haircut and other funny stories

I finally did it. I broke down and had Catherine's haircut. Why? Because being an active toddler means that it gets messed up easily and things get in her hair and all gross, and her being uncooperative about taking care of it makes life not fun for everyone. She won't even let her hair up in a pony tail for more than 47 seconds. So... it was time. Even with all of the above logic, I still had to talk myself through it. Why is this so traumatic? It seems silly. Her beautiful long curls... *sniff*... that will grow back, for cryin' out loud.

Well, it was worth it. She did great. Partially due to the great staff at Kid Cuts, partially due to her fascination with the sucker I allowed her to have. And she is so CUTE! Her new "doo" makes her look a little older. It is possible for a toddler to look sophisticated? Even Stephen approved, and he was more pouty about cutting her hair than I was. Here are pictures to prove it:

Other funny stories: (I think these could be featured on that show "Kids say the darndest things")
Stephen was in the car with her, and because he has a 2 seater, she gets to sit right next to him. She was playing with his beard and she declared "daddy fuzzy!".
Stephen: That's right. Is mommy fuzzy?
Catherine: Nooooo (giggles)
Stephen: Is Auntie Jenny fuzzy?
Catherine: Nooooo
Stephen: Is Uncle Phil fuzzy?
Catherine: Nooooo
Stephen: Actually, Uncle Phil IS fuzzy.
Catherine stops, furrows her brows, purses her lips, and thinks about that for a while.
Later, Phil came by to pick something up. Catherine had lots of fun playing with her Uncle Phil, and even made up a song with "I want Uncle Phil". After he left, she turned to Stephen and announced: "Uncle Phil fuzzy!" Stephen said he practically cried, he was laughing so hard. Smart girl for putting all of that together.
My story - Catherine and I get out of the car and are walking toward the house and she says "I see my house". Being silly, I point to our neighbor's house and ask her "is that our house?"
Catherine: Noooooo
Me: (pointing to another neighbor's house) Is that our house?
Catherine: Noooooo
Me: (pointing to our garage, which is separate from the house) Is that our house?
Catherine: No, that's daddy's house!
She made me laugh so hard that I could barely walk. I told Stephen that story and he smiled, saying "that's my girl!"

Friday, March 27, 2009

Recent fun stuff

Today Catherine had TWO firsts! This morning she said her first Spanish word without any prompting (ie: not repeating something for fun while watching Dora). I helped her with something and instead of saying thank you she said "gracias"! Wahoo! And then this evening she recognized her first letter! "B"! She can mostly sing her ABC's, and when she sees letters she'll sometimes exclaim "A-B-C-D!" But she's never recognized an individual letter before. I'm doing my excited and proud mom dance.

Random cute pictures:

upside down day

If you saw my Facebook status yesterday about my day turning upside down, here's the story. I was enjoying a leisurely day. I got to sleep in - really sleep in - for the first time in... I don't know, a year. I made my self breakfast and coffee, caught up on American Idol that I missed the night before, and then was trying to decide how I could productively use the next several hours before having to go to work.

I needed to get started on nursing applications, so I pulled up the information for the school that has the deadline coming up a little too soon. I'd been frustrated already with this application process because they require that you go to this information session to get the application materials. It makes sense, and quite helpful, except that the last scheduled session was 6 weeks ago, with no word about scheduling another date before the deadline. I pulled up the information, and suddenly I see that they scheduled a last minute session - that afternoon - making it my last opportunity to be able to apply. Which meant that the rest of my afternoon was instantly shot. I had to get ready to leave early enough because the meeting was up in Poulsbo, about an hour north of here. And I had to rearrange my work schedule at the last minute. Ugh.

So that's why my day was turned upside down. And the most frustrating thing of all is that it turns out I'm not going to apply. The number of sequential hoops that need to be jumped through in order to have everything completed in 3 days, with a 99% chance (estimated of course) of me not even having a shot of getting in. Yeah right. I would still be optimistic and apply anyways, but one of the things I learned is that all of the nursing classes are taught at this far away campus, not the more reasonably close campus. It's just inconceivable.


Friday, March 20, 2009

Oh yeah. Have I not mentioned my Twilight addiction? Well, now I have.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

The final of all finals

It's official. I'm done. Before the next stage of course. It's funny how finally finding the light at the end of one tunnel only allows you to see the entrance to another tunnel. But what I mean is that I am officially done with my prerequisites. The whole list is crossed off, and now I only need to start begging to nursing schools to let me in.

After being a mean little ball of stress for the last 2 weeks, my final grades showed that the stress and hard work paid off. Which reminds me, I apologize to anyone who I have neglected or simply been mean to in the last couple weeks. Hopefully you understand it was all for a good cause? And I intend to make it up to you.

The end of this class was similar to other classes, what with the endless hours of studying and banging my head on various hard surfaces. But the final moment had a different air about it. I handed my completed final exam to the prof, walked out the door into an empty hallway, and took a deep breath. It was a moment riddled with various emotions that I wasn't prepared for. Relief: I'm done, I survived! Triumph: I conquered the mountain! Apprehension: I wonder how I did? Anxiety: Oh boy, now for nursing school applications and stressing when and if I'll get in. And finally, sadness: I have grown to love this class. As much as it made me want to kill myself at times, I love it. I love the teacher. I love my classmates. We've all been working together now for over 6 months. I got to know nearly everyone in the class, and became dear friends with a few. And it was time to say goodbye. With all of this surging through my head, I didn't know whether to cheer or cry. I wound up doing a combination of both.

So... next. Once again I am faced with reality. (ditto to all said here, just minus the Christmas decorating. Yes, I'm purposely not excluded the unpacking)

Back to "normal". I'll be catching up on everything in the next couple of weeks. If I haven't been in touch with you, I hope that you'll get a phone call from me soon. Thank you everyone for the positive thoughts, prayers, and other various methods of support. It means so much to me and really helped me through everything. I'll still be needing all of this in the next few months, as I go through several tedious application processes, and then much more when I start the insanity that is nursing school. I suppose the appropriate term is "stay tuned". =)

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Catherine update

I've been begging myself to catch up with the Catherine update for weeks! So here's what she's been up to:

We had her 2-year doctor's checkup. (it was a month ago, but I'm catching up) Stats: Height 35.25 inches; weight 31.5 (80th and 90th percentiles, respectively) Perfectly healthy, besides her persistent dry skin. Sorry sweetheart, you get that from me. The doctor was super, super impressed by her. She complemented her language skills, vocabulary, problem solving, behavior - the whole package And on the development checklist (activities and skills that she can or can't do), she was at the 3-4 years level. I still haven't come down from that boost of pride!

She really is an amazing conversationalist for a 2 year old. She surprises me more and more each day. She's talking mostly in sentences now. Her vocabulary is huge, but I'm noticing how much more she's throwing in the "in between" words like 'and', 'that', 'it'. She's been experimenting with pronouns and past tenses, too. I feel like half of the time I'm with her I'm just staring at her with my jaw to the ground.

Today I realized how much she's grasping the flow of stories. She was walking around with one of her little books that is "humpty dumpty". And with each page, she wanted to tell me what the picture was. "He falling" was the picture of him just falling off the wall. "He fall down" was the picture of him at the bottom of the wall. "He crying" was the next page (when I asked why he was crying, she said "he has owie"). "He all better" was the picture of the horses coming to help. And then she would flip back to the beginning to the picture with him sitting on top of the wall and she said "he back up again". Cutest thing.
Catherine is continuing to embrace her toddlerhood and wants to fight about something new each day. I try to remind myself that it's natural and I fight along with her, fighting to go with the flow. Her favorite tantrum move is jumping up with both feet and throwing herself down on her knees. It makes me wince every time she does it, but I have to stifle a laugh, too.
Another sign that she's my child (my mom will crack up at this). Her crazy, curly hair is getting pretty long. When I brush it, I can pull it half way down her back. Being an active toddler, her hair gets pretty tangled. And naturally she is getting more vocal about not wanting her hair fussed with. I still get to brush it, but putting it up in a pony tail or anything? She won't have it. It might last 5-10 minutes, but then she complains "no ponytail!" and pulls it out. Sigh. I might actually need to get it cut.
Yesterday morning I'm trying to drag myself out of bed, Stephen is up and getting ready and he has the door open. I hadn't heard Catherine get up yet, but suddenly I hear her calling "Mommy, I wake up!" Oh boy.

talk about a bad hair day - this is what her crazy hair looks like the morning after a bath

at Sarah's baby shower - my beautiful little 2 year old girl

conflicting memories

I was reminded this morning that yesterday was the wedding anniversary of 2 good friends of ours. I smiled as I thought of their wedding 7 years ago, how great that time was, and how happy I am for them, as I always have been.

But then my smile faded a little and I groaned to myself.

I have to admit that I have conflicting memories of that time 7 years ago.

It was the first (and the last) wedding that Stephen and I have ever been to... uninvited. Ouch! Yes, confession is out. Well, I should say semi-uninvited. I learned my lesson that day - never attend a wedding with invitation only from someone OTHER than the bride or groom. Never. And especially not when the bride can kick your ass.

I do feel bad about that, and I don't think that I've ever been able to fully grovel and make up for it, mainly because I can be a wimp when it comes to confrontation. But what I've never been able to explain is how unbelievably significant that weekend was for me. Without going to that wonderful wedding that weekend...

Stephen and I had only been dating for a few weeks. I'd already pretty much made up my mind that I was going to marry him someday (whew! I was right!). This was our first trip away together. It was only in Portland, so it wasn't supposed to be very long. But his car broke down and we wound up spending the night until we could be rescued in the morning. Jen and Phil came that morning for said rescue, and it was on the trip back that I really got to know them for the first time. Since then I've been inseparable with his family.

Perhaps the biggest significance for me was that it was sitting in that church waiting for the ceremony to begin that I decided I wanted to convert to Catholicism. Stephen is Catholic, and I kept asking questions about everything symbolic in the church. I probably sounded like a 4 year old: "what's that?" "why?", over and over. When I told him, Stephen was concerned that I was wanting to make the commitment for him, but he didn't understand that it wasn't about him at all; it was about me and my search for my faith. I'd been wandering around this search for a few years, not knowing what I was really looking for. But it was sitting in that church that I realized for the first time: I'm home.

Setting aside the nature of how we wound up there in the first place, I couldn't be more grateful that we were there. It changed my life. So, thank you. And happy anniversary.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

a small handful of birthday pics

I will hopefully get some more soon. I'm still rounding them up, and it may take a while. But here's a few now, just for fun. (and because I'm looking for excuses to procrastinate).

Me and my dad

My beautiful cake, made by my good friend Keleigh

Catherine "helping" decorate

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The first official blog post as a 30-year-old

Yes, it actually happened. I turned 30. Instead of running from it (how many people out there have turned 29 numerous times?), I welcomed it with open arms. But it was still a big deal to me. Stephen asked why, and I had to think about it. Truly, I think that my reasons are two fold: 1) it has made me reflect on my last 30 years; and 2) it means that I am undeniably an adult.

1) I have been through a lot in the last 10 years. Good and bad, I bring it all. It all brought me to where I am now. It helps that I am very happy where I am at in life. Stressed, busy, crazy... yes, yes, and hell yes. But I am so thankful and grateful for everything I have. I am the luckiest mom in the world to have Catherine, I have the best husband I could possibly ask for, we own our home, Stephen has a great secure job that he loves, and I'm going to school to do something that I love. Add to that great friends, great family, and great support. What more can I really ask for? Why wouldn't I be happy? If this is 30, bring it on!

2) I know. I'm a mom, I'm a wife - why would I need further proof that I'm an adult? It's not that I need proof or that I was feeling particularly immature. But it's a symbolic time. Saying good bye to the 20's and moving on to the 30's. There's a song titled "my next 30 years" - and one of the closing lines is "I'll do it better in my next 30 years". I love it. That's where I am.

My birthday weekend was awesome. Choosing to do the big party the night before my actual birthday was better than I thought - it was somewhat reminiscent of parties in my early twenties. And to help with that, I got drunk. I can't remember the last time I was able to have enough alcohol to actually get me drunk. I loved it. Not enough to do it more often, mind you. But for my birthday, it was great. I got to see tons of people that I love. We even went out for a round of karaoke after the number of guests dwindled.

My mom, sister, bro Jason, and best friend Dawn spent the night. So the morning was filled with more fun. We all went to lunch, joined also by friend Lori and Papa Steve. When we got home, we had to say goodbye to family, and then settled in for the night enjoying the drama that only the Oscars can bring.

Just fabulous. If this could happen every weekend, sign me up.

(I wanted to add all of the other things that I haven't been sharing in the last few weeks, but I wound up babbling about how much I loved my birthday, so I'll post soon to catch up on everything else.)

Friday, February 6, 2009

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

"MY party!"

Sunday morning
Me: "Who's birthday party is today, Catherine?"
Catherine: "MY party!" (with extra emphasis on "my")

She definitely knew, and she was excited for sure. We picked up her cake that morning, and it was "my" cake. And even though it was a joyful kind of crazy with so many people in our home, she was great the whole day. Despite the "mine!" phase that she's going through, she was even pretty good about sharing with all the other kids. Wow, I know.

The rest of the story can be told with pictures:

The beautiful birthday girl, munching on a cookie (sugar free, of course)
My too-adorable-for-his-own-good nephew, Toby

A bunch of the big kids watching the Super Bowl in the other room. Our house is perfect for these occasions: we set up the play room with all of the kid birthday stuff, and then the Super Bowl party was happening in the living room. Very nice, if I do say so myself!

One of Catherine's presents: cute Tigger ears. And further proof that moms will do anything to make their kid laugh.

We started a dress up trunk for her as our birthday gift to her. And thanks to a smart heads up from us, lots of her gifts were additions to the dress up collection. She loved the hats!

I forget which present she was looking at, but I love the look on her face.

And oh, did she love her feather boa!

Is it me, or does she kind of look like a turtle in this picture? (it's the stretching neck, I think)

She was so cute! She loved every present she opened. The first present she opened was a gorgeous handmade sweater from our Aunt Sue. She looked at it, appraising it up and down, and declared clearly "I like it!" So cute!

Another cute moment: When she saw the candles on the cake, she got this alarmed look and exclaimed "hot! hot!" Yes, we've taught her well. And, not really knowing what else to say, I told her that yes, it's hot, so let's blow on it! But this picture captures that first expression on her face.

All of the kids loved the train set from Papa Steve. Especially Stephen.

Catherine playing with Anna and her new teaset, on her new table and chairs.

The end of the long day. I collapsed on the couch after the last guest left. And then Catherine climbed up and laid across the couch, too. Unfortunately, Stephen was making me laugh when he took the picture, so it doesn't capture the true exhaustion that I felt.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Big week

Have you heard that Catherine turned 2? Yup, I'm officially the mom of a 2-year-old. Yikes! For some reason, it really hit me when I received my weekly email newsletter from and suddenly it's not "toddler", but "preschooler". What? When did that happen?

I'm currently taking a break from studying by searching through the tons of pictures from her party on Sunday. Hopefully I'll be able to post those... soon. But I have a lot to go through and tweak. I at least wanted to do this much and say hello. And brag just a little bit.

A "before and after" for you:

Our play room, the week before the party (and 5 minutes before this picture was taken, we also had part of the carpet pulled up):

The day of the party, just before guests arrived:

Yea for us!!! OK yes, I know the ugly walls and horrible carpet are still there. The room still has a long way to go. But to even clean it out and get it in a livable condition? That's all I asked for. For now. =)

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Option #5:

Wine country! This is Stephen's request - I'm not sure how this will come together because there is almost too many options. His idea was to go to Willamette Valley, then Rogue River Vally, then Napa Valley, then Santa Barbara area... driving the whole way and driving everywhere in between. Hmmm... I don't know. That's a lot of driving, and spending the whole vacation in the car is really not my idea of relaxation.

But the idea of drinking wine all day every day. That is my idea of relaxation.

So... the option is there.

Experts in the wine country for So Cal? Ideas? Recommendations?

need. vacation. now.

Something to look forward to, though months away: Stephen and I have decided to take a short vacation in July for our wedding anniversary. When we were talking about the possibility, we realized how long it has been since we've taken a trip JUST US. And even just a SINGLE night away just us. Not going with 30 other people and a full itinerary (like Europe last summer), not a family reunion - not visiting anyone, in fact. Just us. It was a while before Catherine was born, I think. Before I was pregnant even? Possibly. She's turning 2 on Monday. It's about damn time.

We're tossing around ideas. Two limitations: time, only 4-5 days. And money, of course. We are really needing to keep it down to a minimum. So likely no airplanes, nothing too fancy.

Idea #1: our favorite of all time, Ashland. But the show tickets might put us over our limit. So we're considering it. Don't know.

Idea #2: (and I haven't told Stephen about this one - I think he might cut it down right away because of the cost) a short, discount-type cruise. There are some good prices out there. Now, is it actually within our budget? Not likely. But I'm looking.

Idea # 3: Vegas, baby. Good rates are definitely available for hotels, but it's dangerous going there with a budget. It is the city of spending money. And flights? Ick. I haven't looked at this one yet. Maybe I shouldn't even try.

Idea #4: we've been there a hundred times, but not for a trip just for us - Oregon Coast. We know the area pretty well, but never having actually stayed there, I'm coming up short for actual direction - like where to stay. I don't know.

So... I know plenty of people that have been out there. Any ideas? Suggestions or recommendations of a place to stay? Known wineries out there?

You have no idea how much I really need this. I wish we didn't have to wait 5 months.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

2008: the year in pictures

I know that the new year's celebrations have come and gone, but I'm a bit behind. So here is my look back at the last year in my favorite way, by pictures.

This is probably the most beautiful picture that was taken from the year. I love the smile in her eyes and how the bright colors in the shot really bring out her eyes. We were playing at an indoor playground, and she was having so much fun running all around and up and down the slides.

I love this picture because it captures her thoughtful mood. We were playing at Papa Steve's house, and she took a moment to gaze out the window. This is a pretty common look on her face. My thoughtful little girl.

This is still my favorite picture of her from the whole year. We were at Sack Camp, the annual family reunion for Stephen's side. With that cool shirt and those cool sunglasses - who can resist? It was hilarious because she said "cool baby" when she put on the glasses. She's so funny.
OK, not the greatest of pictures, especially because of that grumpy face. But it is the moment, the time, that it captures. And because it was one of the high points of the year, I can't resist including it.

Well, as if the election wasn't enough of a high point. Buying our first home was definitely another high. We're still getting settled, and might even be able to use the "play room" for our upcoming birthday parties. It makes things a bit more difficult right now, but the joy makes it all worth it. 2008 will always be remembered as the year we became homeowners.