Tuesday, May 20, 2014

If I get married, I want to be very married.

Audrey Hepburn

 

A couple summers ago, just prior to a trip to San Diego to visit family, my wedding ring began waging war against my finger. It started with itchiness and escalated to a rash of tiny blisters everywhere the ring touched--including the surrounding fingers. At the time I was up to my elbows in chemistry and biology labs and assumed it had come in contact with a chemical or the finish had worn off with repeated hand washings. On a friend's suggestion, I took it to a reputable jeweler in SoCal and had it re-plated. My finger took weeks to heal completely but it was smooth sailing after that.

 

Then it happened again this February while we were in Brazil. Only worse. It looked like my ring had left a chemical burn on my skin. It took a solid month of salves and going ring-less for it to heal.


I did a little research and found that "wedding ring dermatitis" isn't all that uncommon. The nickel ions used to make the white gold finish have surfaced with time and I'm allergic. And each subsequent exposure will worsen the symptoms. So what's a married girl to do?

 

I don't wear my wedding ring every day. I attend CrossFit 4-5 days a week, and weight lifting in a wedding ring is asking for trouble. So it stays at home. But on date nights, non-CrossFit days and during vacations it adorns my left hand. One day here and there won't make my finger fall off, but what about those times that I want to wear it for prolonged periods? Do I suffer through the allergic symptoms? Stop wearing it altogether? Buy a new one?

 

Once I came to the realization that my relationship with my wedding ring was going to be forever altered, I sought out to find a replacement. I'm not nearly as attached to my wedding ring as I am my engagement ring. (My current ring is a white gold band with a row of square diamonds across the top half.) It's lovely and a symbol of our love, yes, but even a simple band would suffice as its replacement. There's no ego here about diamonds or certain metals. Or so I thought.

 

As I perused Etsy, I found myself gravitating toward certain styles of rings, and not one of them resembled the one I have. And my quest for nickel-free metals led me toward platinum and rhodium. (At least that was the rationale, though now I think it goes a bit deeper than that.) I pride myself in being non-materialistic. I always say the "stuff" in our lives means little at the end of the day, but perhaps that is not as true as I'd like it to be. Some self exploration was in order.

 

 

 

When I picked out that wedding band almost 8 years ago, I was a different girl. I was in my mid-twenties, and although I was 100% sure about the guy I was about to marry, I was completely lost in every other way. I had no idea what I wanted out of life. We had a tight budget, as our income was limited and we were paying for our own wedding, and I picked the ring I did because I liked it and it was practical. I'm different now. Our marriage is different (in only the best ways). We are more secure economically and emotionally. My thoughts on life, love and the world around me are vastly different. In some ways I feel like I've outgrown my old ring. In my quest to find a replacement, I was really looking to find a ring that represents the wife and woman I am now.

 

Perhaps my body's rejection of my ring was also an emotional rejection of sorts. Not of the marriage itself, but rather a subconscious desire to shed the old and carry a new, more representative symbol of my love for Mario. And myself. In just weeks we are starting over. Our future is wide open. Sometimes dreams and desires manifest themselves in unexpected ways, and my ring crisis was no exception.

 

While all this was going on, something serendipitous happened: a jewelry company, Anjolee, contacted me about doing a collaboration. Because I've shied away from making this blog into a business, which would forever alter the atmosphere, I typically turn these things down. But this was different. A post about my wedding ring woes had been ruminating in my brain for a while and a jewelry store contacted me. So after mulling it over for a couple weeks, I agreed. It's funny how things work out sometimes, isn't it?

 

First and foremost, I was smitten with their whole approach to choosing a ring. I perused their diamond anniversary rings, which is the style I'm attracted to, and found The One. They allow you to customize the ring based on metal type and the size and clarity of the diamonds. One of the setbacks I faced while ring shopping was price. We are about to embark on a major cross country relocation and I couldn't bring myself to drop thousands on a ring at this juncture. It just didn't feel right and was far from practical. Anjolee gives you options for every budget.

 

I received the ring late last week and have spent the last few days getting to know it. It's stunning, sparkly, and everything I didn't know I wanted when I first set out. I have short, chubby fingers that can make ring buying difficult, yet it fits perfectly.

 

I needed a new ring for my everyday life. This is it (and more). And you know what? Metal type and diamond size became totally irrelevant somewhere along this process. It's about what this ring represents in my life: Change. New beginnings. A great marriage.

 

 

 

 

 

Anjolee provided me with a ring in exchange for a review of their product. Every single word in this post and the opinions contained within are 100% my own. I genuinely love the ring.

 

 

 

 

Monday, May 19, 2014

Only those who attempt the absurd can achieve the impossible.

Albert Einstein

Our local weatherman is a savant. Seriously. The guy is almost never wrong. So when he predicted rain storms worthy of an ark, I had in mind a weekend spent at home. Lucky for us, he was totally off base with his prediction. Not a drop of precipitation fell on this head of mine and our weekend was about as wondrous as they come weather-wise.

Saturday was spent purging and reorganizing the dreaded basement space. It's all the stuff that we want to ignore and therefore the last place we want to spend our unexpectedly sunny Saturday. It had to be done nonetheless. Mario has trouble letting go of things and I have trouble dealing with his trouble. And thus it was less than sunny in our basement. But we persevered. The "keep" pile got smaller and the "donate" pile grew significantly. Although our next house will be a few hundred square feet larger than the one we have now, it lacks the storage space. We will enjoy a bigger kitchen, an extra bathroom, and roomier bedrooms, but a single car garage will take the place of a full-size basement. And if we want to be able to pull an actual car in the garage, things have to be sacrificed. Though it's not really a sacrifice if those items have remained unseen and unused for over 5 years. But we all have our internal battles, I certainly have mine, so one must be sensitive to the hurdles that must be overcome by the one they love. I could certainly use a lesson in softening my demeanor when it comes to these matters.


Our friend Angy proposed an impromptu date night. It's like she knew we were waging an epic battle over our earthly possessions all day and needed a night out sans kid. She's pretty spectacular that way. I was already one martini in by the time they got to the restaurant. (Does Portland have a place that serves pickle juice martinis? Gosh I hope so. They kind of make life grand.) Mario and I shed our frazzled-ness and enjoyed ourselves thoroughly. Three martinis later, all was forgiven and forgotten. Though now I'm slightly worried I could develop a drinking problem as a result of this move. We haven't tackled 2/3 of the house yet, which could translate into a lot of martinis and a big bar tab.



Sunday felt more devil-may-care. Once we roused Kiddo from his coma, which is no easy feat let me tell you, we went out for a leisurely breakfast. Mario has had an Oakley gift card burning a hole in his wallet since his birthday, so we took a short drive to the nearest store. Windows down, sunroof open, music up. Mario, an Oakley devotee, carefully researched lens and frame combinations and came up with a winning pair of shades, in my humble opinion. Kiddo, who has only owned Target sunglasses up until this point, scored a pair of his own. Jared is one of those amazing human beings that can pull off almost any look... and his new neon green Frogskins are no exception. 

Motherhood is such a mixed bag of emotions. Just a week ago I was weeping pitifully in an empty living room at the crack of dawn: How can he be fourteen? Welp. When did this happen? Welp. It's all happening too fast! Welp. Yesterday, as he picked out a fancy new pair of grownup sunglasses and his second pair of Converse All-Stars (red low-tops, for the record), I realized we are moving into a very cool phase, indeed. In our lives and his. He's more responsible and mature; he can and should have nicer things. (Within reason, of course. We are parents to just a single offspring, so that helps.) We aren't frivolous or showy people by any means, far from it, but we have a unique, funky kiddo and we are in the fortunate position to be able to buy him the sneakers he loves if we want to. And I love that. (Know that I don't take this luxury for granted for a single second. But we work hard to have what we have and that should be celebrated, too.) I also love that he loves things based on his attraction to them, not because society dictates their coolness. He marches to the beat of his own drum, that one.

Did I mention that in the midst of all this, we got 3 whole offers on our house? On a sunny Sunday afternoon? It's true.


Today it was back to the grindstone. An alarm that went off way too early and a mundane school morning routine. Today was personal record day at CrossFit and I went in at peace with the fact that I likely wasn't going to surpass my previous PRs. I knew it in my gut and whatever I did manage was going to be okay. And then, as often happens when it comes to my chosen form of fitness, I surprised myself. My back squat and press went up by 10 pounds each, and I reached a significant milestone: a 300 pound deadlift. On this rather unassuming Monday. When do you think I'll stop underestimating myself? Sure, it feels safer not to get my hopes up about things, to constantly manage my expectations, but why live like that? Why exist in a constant state of underestimation? Why not wake up every morning thinking, This is THE DAY that x, y and z are going to happen!? If it doesn't, I'm no worse for the wear (and that's what I have to realize). But when I actually set out to accomplish something and succeed? Well, that's icing on the (paleo) cake.

Friday, May 16, 2014

It's spring fever.

 That is what the name of it is. And when you've got it, 
you want—oh, you don't quite know what it is you do want, 
but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so!

Mark Twain

 Sometimes a post is better written in words. Half sentences at most. Short snippets that convey the overall feel of life at that moment; a paragraph's worth of words seeming superfluous. Is that a poetic way of saying I'm feeling melancholy and uninspired? Perhaps. But when it comes to externalizing one's thoughts and emotions, sometimes a little something is better than nothing. Getting it out is the point; how is less important.







// kiddo's birthday. it was a good day. // legos. // homemade pretzel dogs for breakfast and an attempt at ketchup art. // mexican food for dinner. boy's choice. // a birthday banner put in place while he slept. // shenanigans. // vegan cookies and cream cupcakes made with love. shared with kiddo's class. // 



// mother's day with my two favorite dudes. // lettuce wraps. i could eat them every day. // carrot cake cheesecake. life altering. //



// friends with chickens are awesome. friends who bring fresh eggs to our weekly coffee date? ah-mazing. my friend jill hooks me up and i love her for it. // 


// kiddo's last may day concert. it has been an honor to be a member of this small, sweet school. we will move forward with some great memories. how many kids can say they danced around a maypole? //


// the blooms have been slow to appear this spring. but there are little oases where spring is apparent. mother nature has come alive. and for the first time in months, a small nugget of my soul has awakened. i want to be outside. movement feels more natural. my spirits are noticeably lifted and optimism abounds. //


// windows opened for the first time this year. //

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Parents can only give good advice or put them on the right paths,

but the final forming of a person's character lies in their own hands.

 

Anne Frank

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Today is Kiddo's birthday. This one hit me hard. A sneak attack of motherly emotion. Uncharacteristic tears that can't be tempered so easily.

Last night, just after midnight, I watch him sleep and kissed that spot where his forehead meets his hair. That spot that still smells impossibly sweet and baby-like. Fourteen years ago, a lifetime ago, I first held that unfathomably small creature with a shock of white blond hair. The most I've ever seen on a newborn--blond babies are usually bald! said the doctor.

A very different girl gave birth to him on that night. Almost nothing about me is the same, except for a love so strong I'd jump in front a speeding train a hundred times over to save him. He's challenged me, boy has he, but I wouldn't change a thing. Not one iota of a second. Not even the moments that felt impossible at the time. Because it's all good. He's perfectly imperfect and those what ifs that are so prevalent in the rest of my life never cross my mind where he is concerned.

You have a baby and it feels like you have forever. Forever before they sleep through the night. Forever before they start school so you can have one moment to yourself. But motherhood is fleeting and in the blink of an eye you are looking at the beginnings of adulthood. Don't be fooled; they never need you less. They just think they do. Though the fear of letting them leave the nest can be crippling.

A naive, shy girl held him that night. A brave, strong woman parents him now. Because when you love someone, heart and soul agape love, they transform you. For them you become the best possible version of yourself. And when a child is so exceptional, you work even harder. I owe him everything and he owes me nothing.

Motherhood takes my breath away. He takes my breath away.

 

Here's to you, Kiddo. May you never lose your love of Legos, penguins and the color green. I can't wait to see where you take this life of yours. It has been a great honor to be along for the ride.

 

 

 

 

Thursday, May 8, 2014

You're always you,

and that don't change,
and you're always changing,
and there's nothing you can do about it.

Neil Gaiman, The Graveyard Book 


I had this whole melancholy post chronicling my recent bout of blogging ennui planned for today. But then today is a new day, as all days are, and I feel differently. There is no point in waxing poetic about those posts imagined at the most inopportune times; times when my hands are in a sink full of soapy water and dirty dishes. I can write and rewrite entire posts, inspired posts, in those quiet moments. Times when my conscious mind is occupied by the mundane and my thoughts are free to flow. Unfortunately, those things that were thunk don't tend to loiter, and I'm left with just an outline when I finally sit down to write them out. Exact words, so brilliantly thought, I think, are lost. Perhaps I could record my words and transcribe them later, but I'm not sure they can be translated in the same spirit they were spoken. You know what I mean?

Last night, desperate to write something meaningful, I sat in front of my computer for two solid hours. Forcing the writing process is the kiss of death for creativity, as four years of writing formal lab reports demonstrated, but I was both determined and fearful that my mojo may be permanently on hiatus. I thought about making it a goal to write a post every day for the next 30 days, then decided I was just setting myself up to fail horribly. Instead, I tweaked my blog's exterior. New fonts, new header, re-orientation of the date...I spent that chunk of time streamlining its appearance. No fluff, just simple and modern. And I feel better. I chalk that up to change. I've experienced a lot of little evolutions in the relatively short time I have blogged, and the aesthetic of the page where I lay my words is no exception. Sometimes a haircut can help you rediscover that bounce in your step, no? My hope is that by setting aside the design that inspired me a year ago, I can set forth from this day with a fresh relationship with this platform. That I can write with the same voice, but coming from where I am in this world now.


This has been a weird week full of coincidences. Or signs. The jury is still out on my belief in signs, and how best to interpret them; but sometimes, when grouped into a short span, they seem like a signal sent from the ether. 

On Tuesday I took my car in for a state inspection and oil change. I left it at a place in the heart of downtown so I could spend the morning camped out at my local coffee shop. About 45 minutes later, as I was just getting into the proper head space, I got a call from the shop saying my tires failed inspection. Four new tires, a serpentine belt, an alignment, an inspection, and an oil change later, my car was ready. The price? $666. I'm an agnostic when it comes to believing bad omens as well, but what are the odds? Then twice that same day someone walked up to me and said they knew me. But they didn't, actually, and couldn't explain why they thought they did. Each encounter was odd and slightly uncomfortable. This morning I grabbed a quick breakfast at a local diner before meeting a friend for coffee. The cost for my huevos rancheros and cranberry juice? $8.88. Did I mention I keep finding dimes on the ground? Dimes everywhere. Enough of them that my parking meter fund has grown with some significance.


I'm buying a lotto ticket today. Because something is in the air. It's also Thursday and Thursdays have been kind to us the past month. We found our new home and Kiddo's new school on a Thursday. We got the house and Kiddo's magnet program acceptance letter last Thursday. What will today bring? Tough telling. But it is a new day, after all.

I have also decided to become a more optimistic person. A more cheerful person. A person who sees the joy in the everyday moments we often observe fleetingly; the moments that get buried too quickly when the undesirable occurs. Without realizing it, I had already joined the 100 Happy Days movement unofficially. I was posting photos on Instagram that struck my fancy with some frequency, but I decided to make it a goal and signed up. I read an article asserting the impossibility of this project, as no one could possibly find something that makes them happy every single day for over 3 months. I say why not? I saw a blossom on a tree yesterday morning that brightened my spirits. I picked up four dimes just walking to and from my car today. They are there if we want to find them. I do. Such a thing is so unlike me at first glance, but my continual aspiration is to step out of my comfort zone and improve my outlook. What do I have to lose? We have a lot going on in our lives, sometimes too much, I think, and I don't want the stress that comes with colossal life changes to overshadow the really rad things happening 'round these parts.


I took these pictures in our friends' beautiful backyard in Vancouver, Washington. It took Mario and I a whole afternoon to put our finger on what was so different. Color. There was color all around us. We haven't seen natural color in almost 8 months. All of these were shot in manual...and I haven't done a lick of editing. No filters. Pinky swear. If the color saturation isn't enough to convince me to stay away from auto, I don't know what is.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

The sea is emotion incarnate.

It loves, hates, and weeps. It defies all attempts to capture it with words and rejects all shackles. No matter what you say about it, there is always that which you can't.

 Christopher Paolini, Eragon

During our recent side excursion to Seattle while visiting Portland, Kiddo and I hit up the Seattle Aquarium. I've never met an aquarium I didn't like, honestly, as practicality barely won out over a career in marine biology. But my heart never fails to go pitter-patter when I'm around citizens of the ocean.

It is a great aquarium, and what we thought would be a 90 minute visit blossomed into a solid three hour adventure. We couldn't get enough. I became obsessed with the touch pools brimming with urchins, anemones, and starfish. Kiddo took dozens upon dozens of photos of the otters, seals and sea lions. He sat and watched the seals for a solid half hour, totally immersed in their world. He became quite the little shutterbug during the course of our visit, and some of our best photos are courtesy of his keen eye. Going through all of them once we got home was a joy.

Photo courtesy of Kiddo (and my personal favorite).
Gosh I think puffins are cool.
Photo courtesy of Kiddo. He's going through a snail phase. Obsessed with them.
Photo courtesy of Kiddo. This little guy reminded him of Spock. There is something decidedly Vulcan about him.
Kiddo. Again. He was on fire, I tell you.