Archive for the ‘reflections’ Category

Ohhhhh, January.  January.  JANUARY!!!  What a friggin’ month it was.  Cold and dark and fraught with political turmoil the likes of which I’ve never seen.  Looking back at my photo log, I see it held a few bright spots, though…

We spent a Friday out at the summit watching Juliette get her ski on.  This kid is a natural!

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Before long, she’ll be zipping down mountains like these!

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The chant of the morning was, “Faster, Daddy!  I wanna go faster!”

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I was so proud of her unshakable spirit – even after a tumble, she squealed with laughter and popped right back up.

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The staff member at the top of the magic carpet became Juliette’s new best friend, as she exuberantly high-fived her at each dismount.

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This place we live in really is somethin’ else…

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There were a handful of lovely (though freezing) sunsets last month – Juliette and I enjoyed this one from the grass at Jose Rizal Park in Beacon Hill.

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A buddy turned four on the 14th and we partied hard.

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On the 21st, we gathered with our crew and 130,000 other Seattleites to take to the streets for the post-inaugural Women’s March.  It was a beautiful day, full of sunshine and incredible kindness.

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This girl refuses to despair.

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And oh, the dinners!  So many warm, restorative, good-for-the-soul meals shared with friends (these two make a mean cornbread).

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Today marks the beginning of a new month.  The world outside is still feeling awfully shaky and dark.  But as I was taking my lunchtime walk today and listening to the latest report on immigration reform, I heard a voice: TURN IT OFF.  I paused my podcast and queued up Oceans by Hillsong.

I will call upon Your Name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine

The waves are indeed huge.  The future is so uncertain.  And yet, God offers rest to the weary.  I sensed Him urging me to unplug for a couple of days as I head into the mountains tomorrow for a snowy getaway with Shane and Jules.  I’ve felt an overwhelming sense of responsibility to stay informed, concerned that I can’t properly empathize or advocate if I’m not up to speed on all the latest coming out of D.C., but I need a detox.  I need to let God pull my head above water.

And once I’ve rested?  I will march on, this verse ringing in my ears:

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior

I sat back and breathed a small sigh of relief after I published my last post.  No resolutions.  No obligations.  No pressure.  I was officially off the hook.  Only…if ever there was a time when I should feel compelled toward self-education and action, it seems THIS.  IS.  IT.

Donald Trump has been president for one week.  Each cabinet appointment he announces, each executive order he signs affirms my fears that he cares little for the poor, for the environment, for the public education system or the people suffering abroad.  I mean, I knew he and I wouldn’t see eye-to-eye on most things, but wowsers, my head is spinning.  And then, Wednesday night, as I was reading the latest headlines about his notorious border wall and falling deeper into despair, something inside of me awoke.  I don’t have to sit idly by.  I can do something.  I have to do something.

Yesterday I left voicemails for several senators, urging them to vote against Betsy DeVos as secretary of education.  Today Juliette and I shopped for diapers and wipes and dropped them off at the Refugee Womens Alliance, a non-profit down the street which serves refugee and immigrant families in our community.  I’m organizing a group of co-workers to spend an evening serving dinner to homeless men at the Union Gospel Mission.  Shane and I have a date this weekend to sit down and re-evaluate our charitable giving as we seek to support organizations that fight for human rights.

And finally, I’m opening my eyes and ears wider than they’ve ever been before.  Reading, researching, seeking, listening.  I’m turning off The Daily Show and getting my news from less-partisan news sources (if you have a non-partisan news source, let me know!).  I’m asking my gay friends how I can support them.  I’m looking for was to uplift and learn from the immigrant community that’s so vibrant at Juliette’s school.  I’m reaching out to conservative friends and family members in an effort to understand their frustrations with the previous administration and their hopes for the current one.  I’m rooting myself in truthful reporting, not just of the goings-on in D.C., but of the lives and stories of my nearest and dearest, as we’re all walking into the new political era from very different places.

A friend marched with a sign last Saturday that read, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”  Humbly, step by step, I’m trying.

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A lot of people were closing the door on 2016 before the clock had even struck midnight on New Years Eve, eager to bid farewell to a year of loss and division, injustice and tragedy.  I get it.  But dammit if I can’t get closure on the year without hitting publish my annual recaps!  So bear with me.  I’ll keep it light.

 

Favorite movie:

I went to the movie theater once last year, for Finding Dory (we have got to get out more!), but we saw quite a few flicks at home.  Best film award goes to Brooklyn.  Shane and I watched this on our low-key-but-luxurious anniversary, when we took the day off to do the things we can’t normally do with a toddler in tow (like watch a movie in the middle of the day!).  It’s been awhile since I’ve seen a romantic movie that’s not cheesy or over-sexed, but this one nailed it.

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Favorite TV show:

I’m a little behind-the-times on this, but after much ranting and raving, Shane convinced me to sit down and give Leftovers a go.  I’d seen bits of it as he watched Seasons 1 and 2 when they first came out, but gosh, I felt like someone was either wailing with despair or writhing in pain every time I walked by the TV.  I was more interested in Season 5 of Girls and powering through the guilty pleasure that is Gilmore Girls.  Finally, though, I got on board the dark-and-twisty train, and dang, this show is good.  Superb acting, heart-wrenching characters, a complex weaving of relationships and time.  Can’t wait for Season 3.

(Honorable mentions to This is Us, Better Things, and O.J.: Made in America.)

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Favorite podcast:

Weather-permitting, I try to push away from my desk at lunchtime a couple of times a week and get out for a long walk down by the waterfront.  I’ll lace up my running shoes, put on my headphones, and queue up a podcast, fully reveling in an hour of distraction-free listening.  I’m still a devoted Reply All listener and think This American Life pretty consistently knocks it out of the park (check out Will I Know Anyone At This Party? if you have an hour), but Heavyweight stands out a new favorite.  Listen to Episode 4 for some especially sublime story-telling.

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Favorite song:

I came across Vance Joy’s Fire and the Flood when I was looking for a soundtrack to Juliette’s third birthday video and have had it at the top of my playlist ever since.  It’s got that whole slow-acoustic to happy-dance crescendo thing happening that I’m such a sucker for.  And in the oldie-but-goodie category, Juliette and I love belting out The Long Way Around by the Dixie Chicks when we’re bopping around town together.

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Favorite app:

I went on a week-long word game Letterpress binge, and I spend way more time than I should scrolling through Instagram, but I keep circling back to Wunderlist as my most-loved app.  I know, I already sang this app’s praises in my 2015 favorites, but seriously, having one place to store shopping lists and work to-do’s and house chores and meal plans has kinda changed my life.

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Favorite professional moment:

I was immensely thankful for the gracious way my office hosted Juliette on Take Your Kid to Work Day, but the real stand-out moment came right before Christmas when, with my team members huddled around my desk, I clicked Send on the final construction drawings for UW Medicine Phase 3.2.  I started working on this campus 11 years ago when I was just an intern that hardly knew AutoCAD and over a decade later, I’m leading the charge on this most recent phase of UW Medicine’s development in South Lake Union.  That single mouse click felt like the culmination of so, so much learning and collaboration.  It’s also the culmination of a fair amount of stress and far too many mind-numbing meetings with city officials and lawyers, but in 2018, when I walk through this courtyard, I don’t doubt it will all have been worth it.

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Favorite personal project:

I read a lot last year, got back into knitting once the cooler weather set in, and organized the heck out of our closets.  But far and away, the most satisfying “me-time” I spent was at a four-week summer print-making workshop at Pratt.  I hadn’t been in the studio since Juliette was born, and it just felt…right to be back there again.

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Favorite family pastime:

I cherish my personal time somethin’ fierce, but the reality is that I would usually sometimes prefer a day with Jules and Shane to a day alone.  2016 was chock-full of quality family time, but our camping trips stand out as my favorite adventures.  I had such high hopes when we set out for that trip to Owhi campground back in June, fervently praying that Juliette would sleep well and love the campfire and walk away without any severe injuries.  And although that weekend was rainy, we rocked it.  Our trip to the North Cascades was incredible.  Tinkham was a blast.  Looking forward to busting out our mondo tent again at the first sign of summer!

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And, favorite days…

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2016 was good to our family.

Shane, Juliette, and I went over to Jack and La Verne’s last night to eat nachos and watch the election coverage, our moods hopeful as we pulled into their driveway.  I donned my “I Voted” sticker and Juliette asked if we were going to watch Hillary on TV.  The vibe was warm and cheery as we walked in, Jack uncorking a bottle of wine, Nance putting together a salad, the Rust boys giving us the NBC play-by-play from the den.  La Verne was wearing her Hillary socks.  Shane immediately popped open the laptop and glued himself to Nate Silver’s electoral map, but I paid little attention to the count until Shane announced with concern, “We’ve got a Michigan situation.”  We watched Hillary’s chances of winning drop from 80% to 60% and continue to spiral downward.  There was an enthusiastic cheer when the results from Colorado came in, but our joy was short-lived.  By the time we left Jack and La Verne’s house at 8:00, things were bleak.  Very bleak.  I was anxious and frustrated and frankly, baffled.  It occurred to me as we turned onto our street that come January, Juliette’s first inaugural experience would likely be watching Donald Trump take office as our president.  And I started to sob.

I know, I know, Hillary was far from flawless, but I fiercely believed in her message of inclusion.  And everything about Donald Trump’s message felt counter to the values we’ve tried so hard to instill in our daughter.

From the time she was a baby, we have told Juliette that she was wonderfully made, that she is strong and beautiful and capable.  And now America has elected a man who says horrible, vulgar things about women, who has been caught time and again treating females like objects to be judged and/or conquered and/or disregarded.

We enrolled Juliette in her current bilingual preschool because we wanted her to be part of a diverse community, for her to revel in the ways God has created his people with a variety of skin colors and languages and rituals.  And now America has elected a man who preaches that minorities should either be feared as thugs or terrorists, or should be disdained for taking advantage of an American “handout”.

We have reminded our daughter that she is blessed beyond measure, that it is her duty to speak kindly to others, to share her belongings openly, to offer a hug to a crying classmate or give up her swing to the little boy quietly standing by the playground.  And now America has elected a man who shows little concern for the people on the margins, angrily silencing anyone who dares not share his views.

With more fervor than ever, we will speak messages of love and unity and generosity over our child.  How it aches, though, to know our nation has elected a man that will not do the same.

Architecture has had it downturns and upswings for me over the past 11 years, but at the moment I’m flying high, ending most weeks feeling super-satisfied with the work I’ve done.  It’s a good gig.  And yet…this gig comes at a cost.  There’s a guilt-tax when Juliette has a particularly rough time saying good-bye to me in the morning and I have to thrust her into the arms of her teachers as she cries, “Just one more hug, Mamaaaaaaa!”.  I make deposits in the pity-bank most Sunday evenings, when I’d really love one more day with my girl but instead know that we’re facing four days of seeing each other only during our morning dash and our evening ritual of meal-bath-books-bed.  The anxiety toll can be steep, as we worry about how she’ll do in her new preschool or if she’ll catch the head lice found in her classmate’s hair.  Which leads me to question, over and over again, am I doing the right thing?  Wouldn’t Jules be better off spending her days at home with mama?

But really, would she?

I’ve spent the past two and a half years reminding myself that Juliette loves being around other kids and, despite the tear-filled drop-offs, seems to find a lot of joy in the classroom.  And as she starts to show interest in what it is I do during her days at school, I’m discovering the added bonus of being able to give her an early glimpse of what the professional world looks like.  Which is why I jumped at the chance to participate in my office’s “Take Your Kid to Work Day” – I was eager to show Jules the ropes, to start planting the seeds of ambition.

She clutched my hand tightly as the elevator doors opened onto my lobby on Friday morning, excited but clearly unnerved by the fact that she was treading in grown-up waters.  Soon enough, though, she loosened her grip on me and eased into the apparent luxuries office life.  I mean..twirly chairs!

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This view!

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Walls you can write on!

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A coffee machine full of buttons…

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And the fanciest little dollhouses she’d ever seen!

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Once we’d made the rounds, I settled Juliette into my desk so that she could “get some work done” while I checked in with my team.

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Once she’d caught up on email and marked up her floor plans, we joined the rest of the kids for some pre-lunch yoga and story-time.

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By noon, she was strutting down the halls like she actually worked there.  If it were up to me, she’d be hired (good thing it’s not up to me).

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Juliette’s mind was officially blown when they pulled out the Pirate’s Booty and Capri Suns at lunchtime (serious, serious thanks to the thoughtful folks that made the mundane seem magical for a day!).  We chowed down and clocked out.

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It was a great morning – completely unproductive, work-wise, but so much fun.  Shane picked us up and as Juliette exclaimed, “I was an archi-tek, Daddy!”, my guilt and anxiety was washed away in a wave of pride.  No doubt, I still wish I had more time with my favorite little person.  But at the moment, this work-life thing feels right.  Be an archi-tek, kiddo.  Be a teacher or a doctor or a contractor.  And be a mama, too, if that’s your heart’s desire.  You can do both.

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Ten years ago today, Shane and I said our I do’s.  Wowsers!  Either I’m getting old, or we were just a couple of kids when we got hitched.  Maybe both.

We dropped Juliette off at daycare yesterday and played hooky from work so that we could pay homage to ten years with a kid-free day of marital bliss.  We kicked off the celebration with breakfast at London Plane and probably said more to each other at that meal than we have in the span of the past few weeks. Juliette is insistent on playing a central part in all of our conversations lately (talk to ME, daddy!), and while I love an adorable toddler tale, it limits our subject matter.  It took Shane and I a few minutes to find our footing on grown-up ground, but soon enough we were laughing and then I was soul-baring with tears in my eyes and then we were laughing again, giddy with each other’s undivided attention.  The bill came and we just let it sit there for 20 minutes while we talked some more and I savored another refill of coffee.

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We left the restaurant hand-in-hand and thought about going grand with a day of indoor rock-climbing or outdoor exploring, but at 10 am we found ourselves back at home, in our pajamas, spreading blankets out on the living room floor and queuing up a movie.  Talk about bliss!  After we’d vegged and dozed and thoroughly recharged, we visited the Frye art museum to check out their Young Blood exhibit (go see it!) and popped into the Chop Shop for happy hour bubbly cocktails, toasting to ten years past and decades to come.  It was a decidedly quiet day, not quite the trip to Paris I’d envisioned years ago for our milestone anniversary, but still, it was perfect.

Our friend Steve, best man at our wedding, has been holding onto our written vows since our wedding day and sent them to us in the mail this week.  As Shane and I held the wrinkled pieces of paper in our hands today and re-read the promises that were made a decade ago by a couple of starry-eyed twenty-somethings, we smiled at all the ways we’ve both fallen short of and exceeded our wildest dreams.  We’ve done good.  And we’ve done…not so good, sometimes hurling hurtful words when the going got tough or falling into the roommate rut when the going got slow.  But we’re in this for the long haul, Shane and I.  We’ll keep relishing in the joys, doing our best to band together when life feels hard or just incredibly mundane.  I imagine some day we’ll look back and think, “Ten years?  We were just getting started.”  And then we’ll take another bite our Nutella crepe as the lights of Paris glimmer on the Seine.  😉

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In spite of the pink fluffy trees and the sunshiny weekends, I’ve found myself feeling funky these past few weeks.  No single thing has me down, but a handful of stresses and sadnesses have left me anxious and blue.  And I noticed over the weekend that I wasn’t just being mopey and withdrawn, I was being impatient with Jules and cold toward Shane.  It was time to nip this funk in the bud.  I needed a reboot, a little time to introspect, a day off.

I’m pretty scroogey with my vacation days, hoarding my time off for…what, exactly?  A spur-of-the-moment three-week trip to Paris?  Ha!  I figured I could spare a day for the sake of self-care and told my team on Tuesday afternoon that I’d catch them on Thursday.  Now…what to do with nine luxurious hours of freedom?  I thought about going shopping or working on a house project or just staying in bed all day with a book, but decided I’d mix things up and head to the mountains for a hike.  I dropped Juliette off at daycare on Wednesday morning and drove east to the Little Si trailhead in North Bend, feeling so very Carpe Diem-ish.

Shane and I hiked this trail back in 2009, but I’d forgotten how rugged it was.  Or maybe I’d just forgotten what hiking is really like?  I mean, it’s been awhile.  Still, scrambling over those rocks felt good – I was 36 pounds lighter without a toddler in tow!

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Brace yourselves – it was a moss bonanza out there I got shutter-happy trying to capture the infinite shades of green.

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Seriously though, this moss!

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Finally, just as my ankles started to get wobbly and my knees started to ache, the light at the end of the tunnel…

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Satisfaction.

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This guy took my spot…

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Not to worry though – I found another monster of a rock a little further up that had my name on it.  I pulled out an apple and just sat, the crunch of my Fuji seeming like the only sound for miles.

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After 15 minutes of lonesome zen, I was joined by another couple who recommended that I check out the Boulder Garden Loop on my way back down.  I took swig from my water bottle and was off.

 

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Something about the word “garden” in Boulder Garden Loop conjured up images of easy, meandering, flat pathways.  WRONG.

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But I huffed and I puffed to another summit and then flew down the hill, satisfyingly bone-tired by the time I reached the car.

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This little out-of-character foray into the woods did me a world of good – I’m not completely funk-free, but I’m on the path toward gratitude and contentedness.  And let me tell you, that path is covered in moss.

Back at the beginning of January we vaguely started talking about preschool options for Juliette – she’s been really happy at her current school, but it’s a small, humble space and we thought this coming Fall would be a good time to introduce her to a new environment and expand her horizons a bit.  Sure, the next school year wouldn’t start for another eight months, but we wanted to be ahead of the game and take some time to weigh our options.  Turns out we almost missed the game, as open houses and preschool fairs and application deadlines all happen in January and February!  We were quickly swept up in the frenzy and after much research, decided to apply to a couple of programs.  One place in particular really piqued my interest – after speaking with their director and touring their school, I eagerly texted Shane:  “Such a great space!  Art rooms and music lessons!  Super-thoughtful teaching!  Organic meals!  I WANT IN!”  We moved forward with the application process, excited and hopeful despite our knowledge that the Seattle preschool circuit is very (very) competitive.

Last Friday a letter came in the mail with the preschool’s name in the upper left corner.  I had a brief flashback to the way my heart fluttered when I was eighteen years old, tearing open letters from the colleges I had applied to.  I pulled out a single piece of paper (never a good sign!) and then my heart sank.  “We’re sorry, but…”

Damn.

The past week has been a flurry of unhappy, unseemly emotions as that letter has hung heavy in my mind.  I’ve lost sleep and shed tears and probably driven Shane bat-shit crazy as I’ve processed the rejection, surprising even myself at how completely nuts I’ve been.

There were twinges of guilt and shame that Shane and I can’t give Juliette the best of the best.  Did I really do all that I could to get her in?  Was it my essay?  I must not have adequately conveyed her joyous, fun-loving character!   And maybe I should have offered more of myself to the school?  I could have volunteered to take time off of work a couple of times a month to teach art classes or help with playground duty or disinfect Legos or something!  Have I failed her in some way?

There was also a bit of self-righteous indignation, as my ultra-protective mama bear instinct wondered how they could turn down a chance to engage with my sweet, bright child.  Screw them, with their high-falutin’ speak of philosophy and pedagogy!  They don’t know what they’re missing!

There were about three hours of irrational fear, where I wondered if Juliette would be academically challenged for years to come if we don’t get her into a high-end top-notch preschool.

There was a whole lot of sadness that she won’t be going to school with her best friend next year, as he incidentally did secure a spot in the coveted program.  It’s been so much fun to see N and J share a class for the past year – his is the first name from Juliette’s lips every evening when we ask her who she played with that day.  La Verne and I have made something of a game of corroborating their toddler tales, texting each other things like “N said he put chips in Juliette’s hair today?  Tell her he’s sorry!”.  Since the time they were born, N and J’s lives have been gradually knit closer and closer together, and in a lot of ways, they’ve brought us parents right along with them.  Now it feels like we’re taking a step back – I’m certain we’ll all remain close, but dang, the classmates gig was awfully sweet!

And, for the love of God, when did our baby become preschool-age, anyway?  That parental passage-of-time melancholy is thick these days as we’ve watched our girl grow more independent, as our conversations about preschool have led into conversations about kindergarten (should she start elementary school in 2018 or 2019?) and then into conversations about high school graduation and even leaving home (if she starts kindergarten in 2018, she might move out when she’s 17!).  Things are changing all too fast – several of the buddies Juliette and I hang out with on Friday mornings are heading off to their own Friday preschool programs next year and I’m longing for the days when we were all just a bunch of new moms on maternity leave, watching our babies crawl around together.  I let Juliette nap in my lap a couple of days ago, because man, it felt so good to hold her so close.

I’m slowly finding my way toward acceptance – it looks like an exciting transition just isn’t in the cards for us this year.  Juliette will stay at her current school and I’m daily reminding myself that she’ll be fine.  She’ll be in a place that’s safe, where she’s known and loved.  Her current school might not serve organic veggies at snack time, but the cook adores Juliette and gave her the friendliest, longest embrace when Juliette handed her a homemade card at Christmastime.  They might not have a formal “anti-bias curriculum”, but she’ll be surrounded by teachers and students from a variety of cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds.  And as I watched Juliette interact with several of her classmates on a field trip to the library last week, I sensed how very much at home those kids feel in one another’s company, how easily they put their arms around each other and how happily they danced when the librarian cranked up the music.  Yes, she’ll be fine.

Which I suppose means I will be, too.

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Project Tidy continued last weekend with an emptying of our bathroom cupboards and our linen closet, followed by a go-through of Juliette’s toy collection.  There actually wasn’t a whole lot to discard from her toy shelf, but pulling everything out, putting all the stuffed animals and puzzles and matchbox cars into one big pile, was a good opportunity for me to stand back and consider my philosophy on playthings.  I read Simplicity Parenting last year and could only vaguely remember my favorite passages, so I took a second look at my highlights on Sunday and recommitted to a few main goals:

Don’t accumulate, don’t buy on a whim.

“To a child, a mountain of toys is more than something to trip over.  It’s a topographical map of their emerging worldview.  The mountain, casting a large symbolic shadow, means “I can choose this toy, or that, or this one way down here, or that: They are all mine!  But there are so many that none of them have value.  I must want something else!”  This worldview shapes their emotional landscape as well; children given so very many choices learn to undervalue them all, and hold out – always – for whatever elusive thing isn’t offered.  “More!” “

I love watching Juliette tear into gifts and get so much satisfaction from seeing her happily engage with a new toy.  But we’ve learned that her interest is fleeting, that she’d rather have a few precious playthings that allow her to imagine and pretend, like her MagnaTiles and her baby doll, than a mountain of “single-use” stuff.  It’s tempting to give in when she asks for that super-cuddly teddy bear from Costco or that cute wooden cash register from IKEA, but I’ve learned to stand my ground (and then treat her to a cookie instead!).  She gets toys for her birthday and on holidays, maybe an irresistible trinket or book every couple months, but other than that, “not right now, honey” is the party line.  If she does get something new, something old has gotta go – real estate is scarce on this toy shelf!

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Keep it real.

“I think it is important that, whenever possible, what a child touches be real.  A plastic hammer has no solidity, no weight or heft in the hands of a five-year-old.  Even small versions of real tools are preferable to such blatantly false imitations…With such play comes the bonus of genuine involvement and mastery.”

Juliette is free to rummage in our tool drawer and our kitchen cupboards for playthings when her usual toys aren’t piquing her interest – cabinets and drawers that are off-limits are either locked or out of reach so that we don’t have to worry about her wielding knives or wine glasses.  She spent a solid 20 minutes under the dining room table with a screwdriver and a set of Allen wrenches a few weeks ago, shouting “I fix it, Mama!” as she tinkered away.  When I tell her I’m hungry, she’ll pull out a pot and a wooden spoon and throw together a batch of “spicy pepper soup” (main ingredients are puzzle pieces and spare change).  I love watching her flex her imagination as she gives new meaning to the contents of our junk drawer.  Letting her play with “real” things also goes a long way in helping me stick to objective #1, as I’m not buying a kid’s version of the stuff we already have on hand.

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Let her “help”.

“Children love to be busy, and useful.  They delight in seeing that there is a place for them in the hum of doing, making, and fixing that surrounds them…As small beings they can feel like inferior, passive observers of all that happens around them.  A sense of industry – of busyness and purpose – counteracts feelings of overwhelm.”

I’ve mentioned before how much Jules loves helping me in the kitchen, and while her assistance usually doubles my cooking and clean-up time, I do my best to let her in on the action.  I know she’s facing several years of being told she’s not old enough or big enough to do grown-up things, but she sure can stir with the best of them!  Now if only she could scrub a toilet…

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2016, I’m comin’ for ya, but first, a look back at last year’s faves, to properly memorialize 2015’s goodness:

 

Favorite movie:

I think we made it to the movies a total of one time last year, but we hit Netflix pretty hard from the comfort of our couch.  We randomly happened upon Tig one night and were hooked from the start – it was refreshing to watch something heartfelt and real, to get a glimpse of this woman’s indefatigable spirit.

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Favorite TV show:

This one almost went to Mad Men, but…Parenthood for the win!  Shane, in all his cinematic snobbery, is probably shuddering as he reads this, but I’ll take a sappy Braverman family softball game over Don Draper’s spiral of self destruction any day.

PARENTHOOD -- "Family Portrait" Episode 401 -- Pictured: (l-r) Mae Whitman as Amber Holt, Jason Ritter as Mark Cyr, Lauren Graham as Sarah Braverman, Miles Heizer as Drew Holt, Joy Bryant as Jasmine Trussell, Tyree Brown as Jabbar Trussell, Dax Shepard as Crosby Braverman, Max Burkholder as Max Braverman, Bonnie Bedelia as Camille Braverman, Savannah Paige Rae as Sydney Graham, Peter Krause as Adam Braverman, Craig T. Nelson as Zeek Braverman, Monica Potter as Kristina Braverman, Sarah Ramos as Haddie Braverman, Sam Jaeger as Joel Graham, Xolo Mariduena as Victor, Erika Christensen as Julia Braverman-Graham -- (Photo by: Chris Haston/NBC)

(Honorable mentions to Catastrophe and Girls.)

 

Favorite podcast:

I’m finally getting on board with this podcast thing, queuing up a list of episodes for my lunchtime walks or my rare moments of solo driving.  My favorites all tend to be the podcasts where you’re really connected to the hosts, where it feels like you’re hanging out with them while they chit-chat and tell stories, and Reply All nailed it several times this year.  PJ and Alex are super-likable guys – I dare you to listen to Today’s the Day without cracking a smile.

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Favorite album:

I still remember the day a few months ago when a chat message popped up from Shane on my phone:  “Have you heard Ryan Adams’ new cover of Taylor Swift’s album?!”  I opened up Spotify within seconds and did a search for 1989, and oooooohhhhhhh my word.  I spent the rest of the afternoon texting Shane:  “Oh my gosh – did you listen to Bad Blood?!  Clean is blowing my mind.  This is too good!”  I don’t want to over-hype it, but I’ve been a Ryan Adams groupie for years and a closet Taylor Swift fan for quite some time, and this album kind of rocked my world.

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Favorite app:

Wunderlist, Wunderlist, Wunderlist!  I’m a compulsive list-maker, and this app is an organizational fiend’s dream.  I use it to track my personal to-do’s, my work to-do’s, our weekly meal plan, my shopping lists for the grocery store and Target and Costco.  A number of my lists are shared with Shane, so if he’s out running errands and offers to stop at Costco, I just tell him to check the list.  If he’s hanging at home and looking for something to do, he can check our weekly cleaning list and see what needs to be vacuumed or scrubbed (ok, this has never happened, but I can hope!).

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Favorite meal:

We didn’t make it out for many fancy meals last year, but as I was flipping through some old photos on my phone, I came across this one from Taylor Shellfish in Pioneer Square and my mouth started to water.  Shane and I dropped Juliette off with the Rusts on his birthday and spent a couple of hours here drinking Cava and slurping oysters and soaking up the broth of steamed clams with a crispy baguettte.  Simple but scrumptious.

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Favorite purchase:

Easy call – win goes to the new car!  Loving our Forester.  Not just because of the heated seats and the panoramic sunroof and the relative ease of strapping Juliette into her higher-up carseat, but because it’s caused an unexpected-but-fun change in the way we spend our weekends.  Hey!  We’re mountains-and-snow people now!

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Favorite professional moment:

I shared this photo in 2014’s update and talked about how exciting it was to see this project coming together.

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And…Ta-da!  It’s done.  It looks amazing.  Standing in the center of this atrium, seeing the light stream in from the skylight that I looked at only on paper for so, so long, watching the researchers move in and out of their labs and collaborate with one another on very meaningful work in a space that I helped design…these are the mountaintop moments of being an architect.

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(photo by Hedrich Blessing)

 

Favorite days:

This was grand:

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As was this:

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And this video will forever make me grin from ear to ear:

 

Nicely done, 2015.  Nicely done.