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Not all bad, not all good.

I have this awful habit where I call a day bad if a few bad things happened, and I call it good if ONLY good things have happened. I’ve got to knock that off.

So, with that in mind, we had a good experience at Music Together this morning. Both kids had a lot of fun. Ms. G. busted out the parachute, and that is always a major hit with Maddie and Simon.

We had a good experience at the library, where Maddie insisted on checking out several books about winter and snow. I thought about fighting it. I thought about telling her how much I was looking forward to checking out books about spring, but then I thought: “Renee, you are an adult. Let her get the winter books, and if you want to read Lily’s Victory Garden or Miss Rumphius, just do it, for Pete’s sake.”

Let’s talk about how much I love Miss Rumphius one of these days.









We had a bad experience at the train park. I wore Simon in the Ergo carrier and Maddie and I held hands and walked there from the apartment, so I didn’t have to deal with the stroller. I asked her to use the bathroom before we left. I told her we’d have to come home if there was an accident. Ten minutes after Becky and her kids arrived, there was an accident. A wretchedly stinky accident. So we went home, because a.) I’m trying to be consistent and b.) things were very stinky. Maddie screamed her head off the entire walk home. It was a bummer. (Heh heh. Bummer. Because there was also poop.) 

Potty training is quite a thing. Maddie is 100% potty trained… IF she is completely nude from the waist down. But put a pair of pants on her and it’s Poop City.

And you know what? No one enjoys Poop City. No one.

Well, maybe dung beetles do.

Now I’m hiding from my children for a few and scarfing a good (nay, delicious) Nature Valley blueberry oatmeal square. Ramona (the younger and fluffier of our two cats) also believes this to be a good moment.



So, it hasn’t been all bad. Or all good. Stinkier than hoped for, I will say.

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Reluctantly springing forward.

Simon woke me up at 6:00. He had no trouble adjusting to the time change, unfortunately. So while I nursed him and felt sorry for my tired self this morning, I poked around on Pinterest, and found a recipe at Averie Cooks for a carrot apple bread that handled a couple of different perishables I’ve been meaning to use up. Once Simon detached, I got busy in the kitchen. Voila!



It tasted great, but was somewhat flatter than expected… But maybe it’s because I used canola oil instead of coconut oil, and baking soda that’s been in our cabinet since people were genuinely concerned about Sputnik. Whatevs. It was devoured by all four Lutes in a matter of minutes.

It was a do-over day, after the bread. The problem with do-over days is you never actually get to do them over. You just wish you could.

First, there was church. I dragged myself and the two smallest Lutes there, and just after the offertory, I got a call from the church nursery. Both kids were a mess. Simon had been trying to escape (and nearly succeeding: he’s learned how to manage doorknobs), and Maddie was slumped over in a little pile, sobbing because she wasn’t allowed to eat the snacks from the snack table until coffee hour after the service. Miss E. looked kind of sad and said, “I think they might be done for today.” I think Miss E. must have also been feeling pretty done for the day. My kids are the best, but they’re also kind of an energy drain. 

So we went home early, and I dropped the kids off with Zach so I could go grocery shopping. We’re running an experiment this month to see whether it’s more or less expensive to traditionally shop at Safeway than it is to use Amazon Fresh. So far, I’m more tired and irritable (as expected), AND spending more money (not as expected). At the end of the month, maybe we’ll return to my beloved Amazon Fresh after all. (They bring your stuff right to your door. You just order it online. How can you beat that?)

Zach made chili for dinner, and we all sat around the table and… Argued. It was one of those nights. Everyone was on everyone else’s case. Even Simon had a problem, and he doesn’t actually talk yet. He just growled and chuffed in his high chair, covered in sauce and cheese and indignance. I blame Daylight Savings for our apartmentful of bad attitudes. Suck it, Daylight Savings. 

It’s the only Sunday of the year that has me looking forward to Monday. C’mon, Monday. Surely you’ll bring nicer things.

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Our very own little blue house.

Once upon a time, Zach and I lived in our sweet little sage house in Barrington, Rhode Island. Things were good. Things were better than good, actually, because we’d just bought our house, Zach had a job that he LOVED at Curt Schilling’s game studio, and I was extremely pregnant and just two weeks away from meeting our baby girl. 

This would be a boring story if that were the end, right?

All of a sudden, Curt Schilling’s game studio collapsed. Very publicly. We’d just bought the house, we were about to have a baby, it was Stress City.

That’s putting it lightly, actually. I put it much more heavily in my Chicken Soup for the Soul: From Lemons to Lemonade story, which has been reprinted here

Anyway, life changed (as it does), and we moved on (as we do). On to Seattle, in fact. Or, more specifically, to Issaquah. And we love Issaquah. Capital L LOVE Issaquah. My friend Abbie visited recently, and told me that Issaquah reminds her of Stars Hollow (from Gilmore Girls). I totally agree. I love the vibe, and I love the people. I love living in this gorgeous, quirky, artsy city. The real estate prices are a liiiiittle frightening (for a growing family with one game developer parent and one writer/stay-at-home-parent), and that’s where Renton comes in.

Guess what.

We’re buying a house in Renton.



This house, specifically. I am over the MOON about it. I love this house. I love the space, the potential, the gorgeous fenced-in backyard that my kids can play in, the tri-level coolness that will let us all spread out when we need to. I can’t wait to move into this house.





That’s Zach and the kids, exploring our new space. Have I mentioned that I am over the MOON about this? I can’t wait to see what will bloom this spring. I can’t wait to plant my vegetable garden. I can’t wait to move in!



That sweet little purple crocus is totally a good sign.

Issaquah, I will always love you. I’ll attend your fabulous wine walks and St. Michael and All Angels and I’ll spend too much time shopping in Gilman Village. Renton, here we come. We can’t wait to see what you have in store for us!

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We saw all of Issaquah today.

I tried my best to make up for yesterday, because while we made oatmeal singles and read books and played, we also stayed inside all day and watched too much Sprout.

I’m conflicted regarding my feelings about Sprout vs. PBS. PBS is more educational, and I really love Curious George and Peg + Cat. But Sprout has The Pajanimals (ADORABLE) and the Goodnight Show and Chica, who Simon adores. I mean, he really adores her. He has a stuffed Chica that he goes to bed with every single night. Of course, he also goes to bed with his stuffed Curious George every night. Do you see my dilemma? Anyway.

Too much TV yesterday, so almost no TV today. Maddie’s ballet class was cancelled this morning, so I retrieved the wagon from our outdoor storage, and I took the kids for a walk. A loooong walk. The longest walk. The funny thing about the wagon is it’s MURDER on your arms when you’re pulling it all over the city. But the kids love it more than the double stroller, so it was worth it. 

We walked to Target and bought picnic foods.



Then we found a cool little park we’d never been to before. We had the whole place to ourselves, except for the occasional passing dog and owner.











It was fun. Then we walked to the library because we were a little early meeting friends for frozen yogurt, and Simon laughed his pants off over a couple of Biscuit books. Simon freaking LOVES Biscuit books. It’s written all over his face here. “Biscuit?! RAISE THE ROOF.”





Then we randomly ran into the people from artEAST who are making a documentary that Maddie is in, and they asked me to come back in next week to do some voice over work. Pretty neat! Maybe I’ll even manage to redeem myself after the prior interview I gave in which I said: “Well, I think children have a more pure appreciation for art. They don’t have their MFAs. No one’s told them what to like. They just like what they like.” Ugh. I really didn’t mean to sound down on MFAs. I love my MFA. I’m just TERRIBLE at answering questions on the spot. I hope the police never call me in for questioning. I’d implicate everyone I know by accident. 

Then we met up with Becky and her girls, had frozen yogurt, and went to the playground.

Sounds like a pretty perfect day, right?

The thing is, it wasn’t.

And before I tell you what I’m upset about, I will also tell you that I’m PMSing in such an extreme, feverish way.

I spiral cut six zucchinis tonight and made Italian baked eggs to go over them.

And Maddie wouldn’t touch it. Just like she didn’t touch her dinner last night. She wouldn’t even stay at the table this time. I was anxious over the potential rudeness of this, and what if she NEVER sits at the table for dinner? What if we are guests at someone’s home and she refuses to sit at the table? So I totally freaked, put her in time out, dealt with a straight eight minutes of her yelling at me… And I accomplished nothing.

What would Jim Fay do, here?

(Obsessed with the Love and Logic parenting stuff. I’m just awful at sticking to it lately. Especially because Maddie is what they call a very spirited child, and she’s already seemingly outsmarted the system.)

We don’t have wine at the moment, but I am going to make a really massive cup of tea. Goodnight.

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Sick day.

On one of the loveliest days of 2015 (so far)



it would happen that one of us is sick. This time it’s Simon. Sweetest sick boy on the planet.









Said in a truly excellent Christopher Walken voice: He’s got a fever. And the only prescription is some tickles from his sister.





And maybe some of these puppies.



They’re strawberry banana baked oatmeal singles, and you can find the recipe right here at Emily Bites. I love her recipes, because a ton of them are foods shaped like cupcakes. And I will eat ANY food shaped like a cupcake.

Even sushi.

Anyway, no outdoor playing for us today, because of poor sick Simon. But after we eat a shameful number of these oatmeal singles, we’re going to pile into my bed and plow through our library books. Maybe we’ll even open a window. That way, the weather won’t be entirely wasted on us.

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Mom blogs.

I love reading them. My gateway blog was Elizabeth Ivie’s, which I started reading when I was pregnant with Maddie in 2011/2012. Elizabeth linked to Erstwhile Dear, and Erstwhile Dear linked to Homebook, and now we’re basically falling down the rabbit hole of mom blogs. They’re great.

But I’ll tell you a secret.

A really sad, very petty secret.

I didn’t want to have my own mom blog (despite enjoying motherhood, writing, cooking, planting things and desperately trying to keep them alive, etc.), because…

Well, because one time I knew a mom blogger and she wasn’t very nice. That’s ridiculous, right? It’s totally ridiculous.

So I’m overcoming the prejudice, and I’m here. This isn’t the first time something like that has happened. I’ve gone too many years without listening to The Beatles because I once knew someone who had every Beatles album and a terrible attitude. I stopped loving David Sedaris as devotedly as I once did because I met a really rude person at one of his readings. Mustaches have made me vaguely anxious ever since I was pulled over by a mustachioed police officer who yelled at me, and I haven’t been able to eat sushi because… Well, actually, I’ve just never liked sushi. But you get the idea.

It’s time to stop the madness, I think. At the very least, it’s time to stop this particular brand of madness. It’s time to dust off a copy of something by David Sedaris (only, not Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk. I never was able to get into that one) and stop eschewing things for various dumb reasons. It’ll be a whole new zen thing. It’ll be good for me.

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This is my toddler, Maddie, being zen.