The lamest blog.

Aaron and I just came to the blog to check on how miserably we were failing at our resolutions and I became aware that I have not posted since February. So pretty much I have to move my own blog to the dead blogs list.

But wait! I am going to resuscitate it! I would blame being pregnant, but since I was not pregnant between February and June it seems this is not a valid excuse. Anyway, I am not sure anyone still follows this fascinating blog (the death of google reader still stings) but if you do you can look forward to at least one more post this year. Or maybe I will get wild and post twice. Stay tuned.

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Friend #2

When I calculated that I have know this friend for over 13 years and that I met her at college…  Well I started to feel quite old.  I mean, I am 31 1/2, so that is getting up there.  Anyway, the best way to describe this friend is like the sun.  She is so vibrant and alive, she just makes anywhere she goes an immediately better and more fun place.  She makes you instantly feel happy just talking to her, and I kid you not when I say there can’t possibly be anyone who doesn’t absolutely adore her.  Recently she was in town visiting her sister and I had the very good fortune of having her come over and have a blast with me and my kids.  I had to laugh, because she had probably 1,000 other people who wanted her attention in the short span of her visit, and when I accused her of being too popular she denied it, but I know that it is true.  She has so many people that absolutely adore her.  You really can’t help but love her.  Her zest for life, her positive upbeat personality, and just how fun she is!  I have so many fond memories of her making me laugh and laugh.  And then laugh some more.  Plus she is a great listener with perfect advice.  There is some sort of timeless wisdom that she has going on that always seems spot on.  On top of that, she is an absolutely amazing artist.  I have yet to see any form of art that she stinks at, but most notably she is an extremely talented sculptor/ceramics artist (she will probably laugh because I don’t know her title, but she gets paid dollars to be an artist!!!), and a talented musician with a gorgeous voice.  Oh!  And seamstress.  Her clothing designing (and repairing!) skills are off the chart.  And at least 20 other artistic type things.

There is just such a quality of goodness about this friend.  She makes me want to be happier, to be kinder, to be more fun, and to enjoy life more, because that’s how she is.  As I write this I feel like there isn’t really a good way to even describe her awesomeness well enough.  So I will just leave it at that.  I am grateful for a friend who loves life and spreads that joy to me and everyone she meets.

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What About Your Friends?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2436DSTOYo4
(Sorry, I have some quality TLC stuck in my head all night long.  Feel free to not listen to that if you hate TLC and good music.)  (P.S. My friends are not low down, and will be around, thanks for asking.)

Last night in my insomnia state my mind wandered to how blessed I am to have a variety of amazing friends.  (As a side note, how on earth does someone super sleep deprived ever suffer from insomnia?  I mean really body, you are super tired, get with the program!)  As I thought about a lot of my different friends over the years I was really really impressed with each of them, with their unique strengths and talents, with their ability to deal with life’s junk, and overall their ability to be real and people that I look up to.  Then I thought that I should really write to each of them and tell them how awesome they are, and how much they have positively impacted my life.  But then I thought about how I should do it on the blog, because then I would have a good record, and it would be fun.  Also it’s my blog so I will do whatever I please.  I won’t try hard to disguise who the friend is, but I will withhold names so they don’t have to be overly embarrassed (in the off chance someone reads this!)  In addition to these forthcoming posts, I will make a point to send a copy to the actual friend it is written about, because, duh, they might need a reminder of their awesomeness.  I should point out that I am not going in any particular order, and I will probably give up this pursuit before I complete all of my friends.  So no offenseies.  (That is a new word.  Totally going in the dictionary next year.)

Without further ramble, here is my first post:

Friend #1
This friend is perhaps my oldest genuine friend (by friendship length, not age) that I am still really friends with.  I have many fond memories of going to play at her house as a child, and because I cannot remember her moving to the area, I assume it must have been pretty young (or also me going senile).  This friend is amazing.  She is so thoughtful, so caring, and so kind.  She is smart and a great mother.  She is really put together, she is always classy and classic, both in behavior and appearance.  This friend is a great listener, and has great advice.  She is sweet and funny, and her laugh and beautiful smile both instantly make me feel happier.  This friend is strong.  She is able to take life’s challenges and handle them with grace and courage.  One thing I love about this friend is our ability to pick up as if we never left off, that things are never strange even when we haven’t seen each other in a long time.  She is also forgiving, especially of the fact that I am such a bad friend who never emails or skypes when she lives so far away.  (Did I mention that I miss her a lot and think about her often?)  She is also generous, which really goes along with her thoughtfulness.  She writes sweet cards, bakes delicious cakes & tasty food, and is a true friend.  I know that if I ever have a problem she will be there for me, that if she says she will do something she will do it (and do it excellently), and that I love her!  I often find myself wishing that she lived closer, but since she currently does not, I resolve to be a better friend and at least email her more!  The end.  Thanks friend, I really do love you.

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Allison’s Port Wine Stain Birthmark

I have been meaning to write this post for a long time, but as I am lazy and haven’t been blogging much in the past year (something about having a new baby and two crazy older kids) it never happened.  But without further ado, I give you: “Is that a birthmark???”

When Allison was born I was mostly incoherent.  Something about having a human come out of you makes you reallllllly exhausted.  She was pretty purple to begin with (as was Sammy, and lots of other babies) so I didn’t really notice anything.  Those in the room that were coherent (Aaron, my mom, and Rebecca the midwife) noticed that part of Allison’s head was much darker purple than the rest.  I remember at some point my mom and Rebecca talking about it, and them both saying something about it being a birthmark.  I was really in a bad way after delivery, and for several hours after, so I don’t remember thinking about much of anything except “I hope I am not going to pass out.”

When I was more coherent (and able to hold/pay attention to Allison) someone reintroduced the idea that Allison had a prominent birthmark, and that it was likely a Port Wine Stain birthmark.  Enter internet searching, the only thing I could really do from my bed.  As it turns out, Port Wine Stain (PWS from here on out) Birthmarks are basically a malformation of blood vessels in the skin.  They range from light pink to dark purple, and do not really go away on their own like some of the other birthmarks.  They are not super common, about 3 in every 1,000 babies have them.  Since Allison has been born, new research has found some gene that mutates early in development (estimated 2-8 weeks gestation) and that is what causes PWS.  It is not caused by anything the parents did, or placement of baby in the womb, delivery, heredity, etc.

What I really wanted to know for my new sweet baby was potential health problems associated with it.  First there are a few serious syndromes that are often indicated by a PWS, especially over the bridge of the nose and a large portion of the face.  Since Allison’s is primarily on the right side of her head, much of it is covered by her hair, and extends over her ear and touches the tip of the right eyelid, and a bit down on her cheek, she didn’t seems to be a likely candidate for any of those.  That put me greatly at ease.  The only major issue left is a condition called cobbling.  Sometimes PWS can turn darker purple in adulthood and become raised and bumpy, and sometimes crack and bleed.  As you can imagine that would not be a really great situation for anyone.  Because Allison’s PWS is not a continuous patch (there are small patches of normal colored skins inside of the PWS) she is less likely to have the cobbling as an adult.  But it is not guaranteed.

One other thing I almost forgot to mention is that when there is a PWS over the eye, it sometimes causes a swelling in the optical nerve which can cause glaucoma/blindness.  Because Allison’s PWS just touches the tip of her eyelid, we had the pressure checked to be sure.  She was fine at 6 months, and also at 12 months, and since there is no real indication of problems, the ophthalmologist thinks that a yearly check of eye pressure should be fine, and that she is not a high risk case.  But we will continue to monitor.

Often times kids with PWS are treated with lasers to lighten their birthmark.  The main reason for this is to hopefully prevent cobbling as an adult, and to make the birthmark less noticeable.  Many parents choose to begin laser treatments right away, because the younger the skin, the thinner the skin, hopefully making the treatment more successful.  I want to stop here and say that I think every parent has to choose for themselves what is best for their child.  I am in no position to judge people who do or do not use laser treatment on their child.  I think that parents who choose to do it are making the best choice for their child, and those who choose not to are also making the best choice for their child.  And now I will go into a ramble of what we are doing and why.

I love my child.  I love her darling sweet face.  I love her birthmark.  She is so incredibly beautiful and always has been.  I know that I am partial to each of my children’s stunning cuteness because I am their mother, but the fact remains I think I have pretty much cornered the market on cute faced children.  I never want Allison to feel like we didn’t like her face, that it needed changed.  Because it doesn’t.  Sometimes people will sweetly tell me things like “don’t worry, it will fade” and “oh, it is getting lighter, I almost don’t notice it” and “she can always wear makeup and put her hair over it because it’s on the side!”.  My midwife even said “it’s punk rock!  I like it”.  I love/hate these comments.  I love them because people really are trying to be nice.  They are saying things they would want to hear, or think I would want to hear, and I love them for that.  I hate them because I love my child.  I love her face.  I love it just the way it is and sometimes it bugs me to hear that others “almost don’t notice it”.  I could care less if someone notices it.  It is who she is.

When she was first born we had some outside pressure to “get it lasered off”.  I know that those who said that had good intentions, but it was not what we wanted for our child.  I have heard arguments that are essentially “think of your child in elementary/middle/high school!  They will be teased!” and “would you want that on your face?”  My answer?  I hope that my amazing daughter will help others learn about people who look different from them with grace.  That she will help them mature and learn what love and being a good person really is.  I hope that if I “had that on my face” that my parents would have made me feel beautiful, that they would have taught me that I was smart, kind, funny, thoughtful, and beautiful, and that an interesting birthmark on my face couldn’t change that.  Just like I intend to do for my daughter.  Will some people be jerky?  Yes.  But there will always be someone to be rude about something.  I don’t like the idea that we all have to be the same/look the same/do and like the same things, so why on earth would it matter that my daughter had a BIRTHMARK on her that was different than other people????

(Can you tell I feel passionately about it?)

And, I should add that doing laser surgery almost always involves putting a child (or tiny baby!) under general anesthesia for the procedure, and leaves very dark marks on the face for a while after treatment, can’t go in the sun, etc.  In our mind the small potential for reduced chance of cobbling as an adult was not nearly enough reason for the many potential risks of the procedure.

I have heard stories from other parents who get a lot of weird/rude comments from strangers.  So far I have not been the target of any of these (maybe they know I will neck chop them?).  Sometimes people ask about it, mostly “is it a birthmark?”  I love to tell people about it.  My favorite is when little kids ask “what happened to her face?” because they are so innocent and sweet and just want to know because they are curious.  I love to tell them it is a birthmark and see their faces get excited when I ask them if they have any birthmarks and they realize they do too!

Allison’s birthmark has lightened a bit from when she was first born.  That is mostly because she is an older baby/child who has better blood flow everywhere in general.  When she is hot it is redder, when she is cold it is darker and purple, and when she is just right it is a light pink.

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Here is a very recent photo of Allison.  You can see her birthmark in her hair, and coming down touching the outer tip of her eyelid, and on her ear and lower jawline.  Ta-da.  Cute baby with a birthmark.  It has a tendency to show up darker in photos than in real life.

My mind has kind of gone blank, but that in a nutshell is a crash course on a Port Wine Stain Birthmark.  I am obviously no expert, but it has been interesting learning about something that just over a year ago I really had no idea even existed.  If you have any questions, please feel free to ask.  No need to be shy, because we all know I’m not.

Posted in Allison | 8 Comments

He gets me.

I turned on the computer just now to find the following message from Aaron waiting for me on skype chat:

[12:24:41 PM] Aaron: Rush Limbaugh: Success is getting paid to do what you love doing. Whatever you want to do first thing when you wake up in the morning is what you love.
[12:24:51 PM] Aaron: Should we sign you up for some sleep experiments?

Posted in aaron, true colors | 1 Comment

Accessible Art

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My kids love doing anything art related.  This is great, but sometimes as the one who has to clean up the mess often associated with art projects I find myself less eager to bust out the paint, glitter, etc.  With a one-year-old tornado on the loose, I find myself even more inclined to lock all cupboards which the older kids previously had easy access to, full of crayons, markers, stickers, paper, etc.

Then the other day I read this article talking about how to encourage creativity in your kids.  And it inspired me to bust the things out of the cupboards and put them where the big kids could get them.  (Because 13-month-olds are still not allowed to use crayons and scissors unattended, duh.)

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Right now the kids each have an old school desk to work at, so I installed Ikea’s spice racks (that were previously being used as book racks that got pulled off the walls far too often) above their desks.  Then I needed containers to hold markers, crayons, glue, etc.  I had the awesome 100 year anniversary blue Mason jars that I had used for a recent wedding centerpieces and they seemed perfect…  I LOVE how they look.  Aaron however thinks they are living on borrowed time, and that shortly I will be cleaning up shards of glass from the floor and using 200 bandages on the afflicted child.  So far so good, and I am LOVING the “art stations”.

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Since putting these in/putting the art supplies out the kids have both been playing more happily with the art supplies, especially Sammy.  She works on various art projects for hours at a time, multiple times a day.  Today I introduced string and a hole puncher (dollar store, holla!) and she is in love with making construction paper necklaces.  And I love it.  It is definitely a leap of faith to put out bottles of glue and scissors (in glass jars no less!) but it has been good, even with a few spills of glue here and there.  So do it.  Be brave.  Put out those art supplies.  Let it be messy.  It is totally worth it.

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(Remind me I said that the first time the baby climbs on the table, pulls the racks off the wall, breaking all 4 jars, and then plays in it getting bloody, pours the glue everywhere, and then eats all the crayons and draws on the walls using all the markers.)

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So. Many. Toys.

Ok.  And junk.  My junk.

Those of you who know me well (or have visited my house even once) know that there are so many things everywhere.  Even though we have less furniture than most (though we are gaining on regular people) because we purged heavily when we went to Ecuador last time, we still have so many things.

And I am a semi-packrat.  I say semi because I work hard at not being one, but it is definitely my natural inclination.  If I didn’t occasionally intervene in my own junk it would be nuts.  Ok, it would be beyond nuts, because right now (after 1.5 years of living in the same house) it is pretty close to nuts.

When I begin to purge things I have the worst internal battle which I am sure that so many struggle with.  “What if I need this later?” “Even though the older kids don’t really like this (but I do) maybe the baby will like it when she’s older…”  “I remember when I got this, that time was so fun/special/great, and this (piece of junk) makes me think about it.  I can’t possibly let go of this…”  And so on.

[An idea suddenly occurred to me, that when I find junk that I don’t need to save that reminds me of something special, I should write it down in a notebook of memories.  Then I can have ONE things that contains it instead of lots of randoms.  I have taken pictures of things in the past, but probably writing it down too would be better.]

The biggest annoyance to me lately is TOYS.  People with more than three kids, how do you even survive???  I admittedly buy the kids too many toys.  I try to buy high quality toys, but I also let them buy pure junk from the dollar store, etc.  And, truthfully even if I were to buy exclusively “high quality” toys, there are simply too many out there, and my kids don’t need to own all of them.  Also we are blessed with a lot of generous family members who spoil our kids with lots of gifts, and lots of excellent hand-me-downs from my younger siblings (hello 3 awesome giant bins of legos, robotic construction set, etc.!)  The fact that all my kids have birthdays in the two months right before Christmas doesn’t help either.  So naturally come January I feel ready to explode/purge.

On top of the actual feeling of suffocation from too many toys (and breaking your ankle/impaling your foot with toys every time you cross the room) there is also the idea of how too many toys ruins your kids.  I read this article a while back, and while extreme, I sometimes want to take away all my kids’ toys like this lady did.  I do find that when my kids have too much stuff it becomes worthless to them and they begin to act more greedy/entitled/demanding/begging for things.  And that is stinky and not how I want my hooligans to behave.  Sometimes I do take toys away for a while, but I have yet to take away all the toys forever.  I still maintain that is too extreme.

Anyway, I am rambling.  The point is, we have too much stuff in our home.  And I am fighting desperately (against myself) to stop.  It is hard to stop the purchasing (oh this is on clearance at Target, maybe I will use it one day…) and also hard to purge (but I love the print of this shirt that will never fit me correctly…) but I press on.  Last week I went though my closet and made myself try on everything that I hadn’t worn in a year to prove to myself that I was going to keep it.  This was a good start and I filled a really large cardboard box of clothing.  Today I am tackling toys, I will be purging and also storing some away to rotate in and out so they don’t always form a layer on the floor.  The kids always want to seem to save the broken junk they never play with, and so this will be an activity I will will be trying to do alone.  Wish me luck…

Anyone good at not keeping a lot of stuff?  Or keeping it orderly/useful?  Any ideas other than moving out of the country every so often?

Posted in true colors | 3 Comments

24 in 365 – Go Big or Take a Nap

I am not a fan of resolutions (which I never keep) but I am a big fan of lists.  So instead of resolutions this year I created this lovely list of things I am going to do.  When I told Aaron he told me I was ridiculous and should only do 14.  So he will be doing 14 for 2014 instead.  And then by 2025 he will be sorry he has to do more than me.  Without further ado…

Kelsey’s 24 in 365*
1. Eliminate all unworn/ill-fitting clothes
2. Read 25 books
3. Finish surprise quilt (I can’t say who for, in the off chance they read this)
4. All photobooks finished up to 2013 and Allison’s 1st year book.
5. No restaurant eating for one month.
6. Learn a new skill
7. Assemble a car first aid kit.  And put it in the car.
8. Baby books up to date
9. Shoot and develop one roll of film
10. Finish 5 already started sewing projects
11. Read 2 books in Spanish
12. Work on Ecuador book
13. Visit 3 temples I have never been to before
14. Can something tasty
15. Learn a new song on the piano
16. Send 12 pieces of real mail
17. Sort/get rid of extra toys
18. Send birthday cards to nieces & nephews.  And maybe siblings and more.
19. Have a super fun party.
20. Blog 14 times
21. Build a front entry bench
22. Get dressers
23. Watch an old movie that I should have seen already
24. Save up for a new heavy duty sewing machine

*All activities may be substituted for taking a nap of 1 hour or longer duration.

Aaron’s 14 in 2014
1. Make a quilt (I said I didn’t want to learn computer programming, and how would he like to make a quilt?  Apparently a lot.)
2. Pay off our car
3. Make an abridgment of The Hobbit to be read as bedtime stories
4. Get in shape
5. Make jerky or smoked meat
6. Go to the temple
7. Go surfing
8. Find a delicious new restaurant
9. Do something super fun with each of the kids
10. Climb a mountain
11. Plant a garden
12. Make a new friend
13. Camping.  Real camping!
14. Send Kelsey to the spa.

The end.

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Vacationing. Sort of.

Recently Aaron told me he was going to San Francisco for a conference the day after my favorite day of the year (Halloween, obviously!) and I told him how horrible that would be, him not being home for Halloween.  But I guess important conferences are important, so we decided the kids and I would celebrate Halloween in Seattle with my family and our old awesome friends.  But that meant I had to get to Seattle with three kids.  By myself.  I am not sure where I thought that would be a good idea…

Although the kids were supremely well behaved, it was still a terrible traveling experience.  First, the stuff!  Why so much stuff?!?!  Second, I feel like you should be allowed to grow at least two extra arms for every child you have.  My kids stayed close, but for real.  Third, we had all had the stomach flu, but I thought we were over it.  As soon as we got on the plane and all settled, Sammy announced she needed to barf.  And so she did.  Luckily I am a skillful master who managed to procure a bag just in time.  Oh, and did I mention she did that two more times during the flight?  Delightful.  Just imagine me holding a baby (who wanted nothing more than to get down on the floor and run away) and frantically trying to grab a barf bag and hold it in the right spot while comforting my sick child.  So great!  Sorry to anyone we grossed out.

The rest of the trip was good and less eventful.  We had a fun Halloween with our Seattle friends, spent good times with my family, and were happy to be reunited with Aaron on Saturday morning.  My family was extra nice and watched all three of our kids (the smallest spent half the time screaming) while we went to dinner at our most favorite restaurant in the United States.  It was so so so tasty and wonderful.  So wonderful that I hardly thought about my poor screaming baby.  It is rough to be a third child.  So I hear anyway.

This morning we got up “in the nighttime” and caught a plane back.  And here we are.  And we are never flying again.  Just like every time.  The end.

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The Build Up. And why the UPS man can live.

Today I went to the dentist for a cleaning and checkup.  The dentist starts out raving: WOW!  Your teeth are so great!  Assistant!  Look at these teeth!  She is 31 and this is her original tooth with no fillings!  Wow!  Good work!  I hope your kids get your teeth too!

But eventually he has to stop and tell me in a slightly more sober voice: Well, like we have to tell just about everyone, you really need to floss more.  But!  I’m sure you know that, and otherwise your teeth look great!!!

I thought it was going to end there.  He transitions to: Ok, we have this funny spot we need to watch.  It is a bit gray, and we will just watch it.

More serious voice appears: Ok I have to show you something.  See these fillings you have on the x-ray?  Were those done in the last 6 months? {no.}  Ok, it looks like there is decay between the filling and the tooth.  Like maybe your last dentist didn’t clean out all the decay when he filled them.  It wouldn’t be that big of a deal because it looks small right now, but see how close it is to your nerve???  I am kinda worried.  Let’s fix that.

Then the whisper: See this here?  That is your bone level on your molars.  It looks awesome.  See this here?  This is the bone level on the front of your bottom teeth.  Not good.  Your teeth won’t fall out tonight, but…

Next time I would like a little more even approach Mr. Dentist.  Thanks in advance.

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12:50pm Put baby down for nap
1:10pm Sucessfully get older kids down for nap and begin my unheard of nap
1:20pm Baby wakes up.  Get her back to sleep.  Miraculously resume nap.
1:40pm EVERYONE sleeping!  Ding-dong!  NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!  WHO CAN BE RINGING THE DOORBELL!  The UPS man never rings, and the neighbor girl always rings 20 times and knocks, and no one else ever comes over.  Horrible.  I ignore it, and maybe I can go back to sleep because everyone else kept sleeping.  I can’t.  I lay in bed mentally weeping because I needed a nap so badly.
1:50pm Baby wakes up and because her teeth hurt and I can’t get her back to sleep.  We go downstairs and I look out the front door to see if there were any packages.  I open the door shocked to find it blockaded by packages including 4 computer monitors (don’t ask) and other computer equipment.  Alright, that seems like a pretty reasonable reason to ring the doorbell.  Oh, and that and it was FedEx anyway.

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