As you know, tomorrow is Thanksgiving. As an adult, I’ve been more of a fan of Thanksgiving than Christmas, since there are not quite as many expectations. Just share a meal together, and give thanks. I like the idea of a holiday that’s centered around gratitude.

This Thanksgiving eve, my heart is filled with gratitude. I’m so blessed to be a mom of two healthy and (mostly) happy little people. Yes, being a mom of a 3-year-old and a baby is exhausting and often overwhelming. But there couldn’t possibly be a more rewarding job than mom.

I’m so thankful that I get to stay at home with my kids and supplement our family income as a writer/editor/publicity person. As a work-from-home mom, I get to be there for it all. I was there when baby Paul started crawling in his fifth month, and I will be there when he takes his first steps. I was there to hear Marie’s first word – “Mama,” and there to see her little toddler legs run across our living room as she yelled, “Runnnn baby!”

I’ve been thinking lately how it takes a large investment of time to build close relationships. I haven’t been able to invest much time in friendships since becoming a mom. I would like to focus on that more – having friends is nice. But, I have been investing very deeply in building relationships with my children and my husband. My whole self is pretty much invested in these people.

Marie & Paul, if you read this post someday, I just want to say that I love you both with my whole heart. I’m so glad I’ve been able to spend this time at home with you while you are small. There is no place else I’d rather be.

What are you thankful for this Thanksgiving?

Yesterday was my birthday – I turned 32. I was woken up by my 7-month-old around 6 am; I nursed him and then he went back to sleep. Around 6:45 my 3-year-old daughter came in the room, and said, “Mommy! It’s your birthday! Daddy said I could sing the Happy Birthday song to you today!” Then she burst into song.

My birthday is on Veteran’s Day, so there was no preschool. I decided to find a new place to take the kids, so we visited Old School. When I was getting Baby Paul out of the car, I discovered he had a poopy diaper. So I changed him on the front seat, trying to do it quickly because it was a very cold and rainy morning. In the process, he peed all over his onesie and coat. I found him a new outfit, but not a new coat, so he was stuck wearing the pee coat. Marie then told me she needed to go potty, even though she had just went before we left the house. She has a fascination with trying the potty in new places. After using the potty in the 5th Street Market, we crossed to the 5th & Pearl building and took the 5 foot elevator ride to the first floor, and ventured down the hall to Old School.

Maybe it was just the mini elevator ride (remember Being John Malkovich?), but I felt like I’d arrived in a magical place when I stepped into Old School. It’s just a space where kids can play and work on crafts, but something about the ambiance is very special. We arrived a few minutes before 11, an hour past my original goal, but just in time for story time. We listened to stories, made a birdfeeder, and then Marie just played dress-up for about an hour before I decided it was time to leave.

When we left, Marie told me she needed to use the potty again. We went into a new restroom (so fun!) and she laid down on the floor of the stall to look at the mom and child in the next door stall. Meanwhile, I was holding baby Paul in the Ergo carrier. “Get up Marie! You’re being rude!” I told her.

“But I’m tired,” she said. I had to pick her up off the floor and set her on the potty, while holding the baby. Then of course I had to pick her up again when it was time to wash hands. All this to say – it’s a major ordeal to go anywhere with a 3-year-old and a baby.

Additionally, I was recovering from a bladder infection that I’d been trying to fend off naturally without antibiotics. So my mom got off work early to come help me out with the kids. When she got to our apartment, I tried to get some chores done, but I got dizzy and had to lie down. She took Marie to her house so I could rest, and I was able to nap with the baby for awhile.

By the time Spencer got home from work, I decided that he should take me to the after-hours clinic. I was imagining my UTI spreading to my kidneys and of course, leading to my imminent death. So instead of a date night, we got to visit the doctor. And the good news was that we found out my UTI was gone. At that point I think I was just feeling sick from fighting off the virus that Marie turned out to have later that evening! She woke up around 11 pm with a nasty cough and a fever.

Ah. So it was a hectic day. Additionally we found out my husband’s grandma had a heart attack that morning, induced by a panic attack. And I was thinking of my friend who is battling Stage 3 breast cancer — at age 30 — and had a bilateral mastectomy scheduled the next day (today).

But I still came out of the day feeling loved and appreciated. Spencer gave me a really thoughtful gift, as he tends to do. He got me books by two of my favorite writers, T.S. Eliot and Gregory Maguire. I’d even forgotten that I love Gregory Maguire, and I didn’t know he has a new book out, about Alice in Wonderland. So by remembering that I love a writer that I didn’t even remember I love (does that make sense?) Spencer pretty much proved that he is a good best friend/husband. And I had the opportunity to hear from quite a few people throughout the day via phone and Facebook. My college friends Jay and Holly called me for a surprise FaceTime chat while Spencer and I were watching our current Netflix favorite, Jane the Virgin. And my two best friends from high school texted me to wish me a happy birthday.

So it was fun to think about all the people who are an important part of my life now, or who have been important in the past. I’m thankful to have had a lot of special people in my life during the past 32 years. I’m thankful that my husband has been my best friend for the past 12 years, and that he’s been there for me in many ways – like taking me to the ER in the middle of the night when my son was 1-week-old and I had endometritis, planning a surprise ice skating birthday party for my 23rd birthday, bringing me takeout from Pine State Biscuits after I had a miscarriage, and celebrating our 5th wedding anniversary with a trip to Kauai. I’m thankful that we are able to live near my parents who offer me constant support – my mom is in our kitchen washing my dishes right now. And I’m thankful to be sharing my life now with two precious little ones – my daughter, the feisty future Broadway performer, and my sweet happy baby boy.

It really is a wonderful life.

I tried to take this selfie a few weeks ago, but my daughter hijacked it.

I tried to take this selfie a few weeks ago, but my daughter hijacked it.

Earlier this week, in a rare moment when I was not being woken up by my daughter or my son, I had a dream about my grandfather. It’s been almost 4 years since he died, of an aggressive lung cancer. It was against his wishes to have a memorial service, and I was away at the beach celebrating my last child-free birthday when a few of my family members scattered his ashes into Amazon Creek.

My mom and I visiting Papa Jack near the end of his life.

My mom and I visiting Papa Jack near the end of his life.

My grandparents were never churchgoers when I knew them. Living most of their lives in the Bible Belt, they felt they didn’t fit in with church people. They were raised in church, and took their own children to church for a time. I’m not sure what my grandfather believed, but I certainly never heard him profess to be a Christian. In the months leading up to his death, I heard that some of my cousins in Kansas wanted, but were unable to, fly out to Oregon to lead him to Jesus. My mother said in his last days she spent hours holding his hand, reciting the 23rd Psalm and saying the name Jesus over and over.

Anyway, I have very orthodox Christian beliefs. I believe in heaven and hell, but who goes where is a private matter between each person and God. God is inviting us all to heaven – we just have to say yes. I think there are plenty of people who claim to be Christians who haven’t really said yes to Jesus, and I think there are also people who don’t go to church or don’t talk much about religion who are on good terms with God. And who knows what might happen on someone’s deathbed.

In my dream about my grandfather, he was still alive. I was surprised. “I thought you died!” I said.

He explained that he was still alive, but he was just living in another place where I couldn’t visit him right now. “I’m with Jesus,” he told me joyfully.

I’ve been talking a lot lately with my 3-year-old about spiritual things. She just keeps bringing up all these questions about God and what happens when people die. “Is God real?” she asks me. “Someone at the park told me He’s not real.”

“Well I believe God is real,” I say. “Some people have different beliefs though. It’s all a little bit of a mystery.”

So we’ve been talking about mysteries. Questions that haven’t quite been answered by science. Bigfoot is a local mystery we’ve talked about. Most people don’t believe in Bigfoot, but a few people are really convinced. Dreams are a bit of a mystery too. Sometimes I’ve had precognitive dreams – I had a friend who was biking across America and I dreamed she was hurt. I found out later she’d broken her arm. I had some friends in Portland and I dreamed they were moving away – I knew it couldn’t be true because the husband was in the middle of a master’s program. Then we had them over for dinner and found out that in fact, he was dropping his program and they were about to move to Alabama. There was no reason I should have known about either of those events.

So my dream about Papa Jack? Was it just my unconscious mind telling me what I wanted to hear? Or could it be something more?

Well, it’s all a little bit of a mystery isn’t it?

My grandfather with his first four children. That's my mom on his right.

My grandfather with his first four children. That’s my mom on his right.

Papa Jack and Mama Anne with Aunt Cathy, Uncle Joe and my mom (the baby).

Papa Jack and Mama Anne with Aunt Cathy, Uncle Joe and my mom (the baby).


Happy Halloween and Happy birthday to my grandmother :)

A few weeks ago my parents treated us to a family beach weekend. My husband works a lot and we don’t have extra money, so it’s rare to get away for a weekend. It was a gorgeous, sunny September weekend in Newport, Oregon. We walked along the edge of our continent, dined on corned beef and Scotch eggs at Nana’s Irish Pub, watched sea otters play at the Oregon Coast Aquarium, and slept deeply and peacefully against the white noise of ocean waves out our window.

On Sunday morning, I felt the urge to visit the wax museum. I used to love visiting the wax museum as a kid, hadn’t been there in about 16 years, and wanted to check it out as an adult. I thought it might be a tiny bit scary but surely my brave 3-year-old could handle it.

We arrived and then as soon as my mom purchased tickets and it was time to go through the turnstile into the museum, MJ started to freak out. She noticed it was dark inside. I wanted to go in, so I told her that she could just wait outside with Grandma and we would see her in about half an hour when we got done. My husband and I (plus baby in Ergo carrier) entered the museum and I was quickly entranced by the American Idol exhibit which featured…karaoke! Much to Spencer’s chagrin, I began singing “Total Eclipse of the Heart,” on stage, and then moments later MJ and my mom arrived. Both my mom and daughter were thrilled to sing on stage with me.

What made MJ change her mind and be willing to enter the wax museum?


The woman at the front desk gave MJ a tiny flashlight to wear on her finger. “Will this help you go through?” she asked. “Yes,” my little daughter nodded and bravely ventured in holding Grandma’s hand.

Light makes things not so scary.

Our world is in a crisis. The refugee crisis, the climate crisis, the gun violence crisis. There are a lot of scary and dark things going on in the world. Politicians don’t seem to be helping much. Religious people don’t seem to be helping much either. It would be easy to get very discouraged by the darkness. But….

The light has already come into this world. Jesus is our light. He helps us to see in dark places. And he is always with us .

“In him was life, and that life was the light of man. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” – John 1:4-5

I don’t have to be afraid, because God is with me always. I can be thankful for that.

At Oregon Coast Aquarium with MJ, facing one of my big fears. Photo credit: Alice Evans

At Oregon Coast Aquarium with MJ, facing one of my big fears. Photo credit: Alice Evans

Today is my son’s 5 month birthday. I can definitely say that I’ve fallen in love with the little guy in the last couple months. I guess all the attachment parenting tactics have been working for me – breastfeeding, baby-wearing, co-sleeping. I know you’re not “supposed to” co-sleep, and I actually prefer not to but I just can’t keep getting out of bed every time he wakes up in the middle of the night. So he sleeps in his crib part-time and in our bed part-time. I never planned to co-sleep with my daughter either, but it also became a necessity…and it’s only since Paul’s been born that she’s been willing to sleep by herself. Anyway…

I feel almost back to my normal self. Definitely not thriving like I was during my pregnancy, but it seems like my hormones have stabilized enough that I’m no longer feeling as moody. I feel exhausted but mostly okay lately. The one problem is that I’ve been so sleep deprived that now I’m having a hard time sleeping even when everyone else is asleep. The little ones are both asleep now, so I should quickly wrap up this post and try to get to bed.

I’m looking forward to preschool starting again soon. Of course I love my 3-year-old, but I know we’ll both be happier once she’s back in school. She needs kids to play with, and I need some time to do the dishes without being interrupted by “Mom you pretend to be the Evil Queen and I’ll be Snow White, okay?”

In other good news, I got an email from an editor today saying that my travel articles were good, and that he wouldn’t say it if it weren’t true, because he’s worked with a lot of “terrible” writers lately. So that made me feel good. I’m glad that I’m staying connected with my career even though I don’t get the opportunity to work very much right now.

My sweet baby boy is almost crawling already. That puts him about a month ahead of his sister, which was already super early. He also has a delightful laugh. Just thinking about his laugh makes my heart melt.

I was hanging out with a new friend yesterday who’s a first-time mom of a 2-month-old. She seemed to be coping as well as could be expected, but it reminded me of how overwhelmed I felt when I was a new mom. I thought of all the mama skills I’ve gained that have helped make my life easier.

Not easy mind you. But easier – today I was able to accomplish taking my four-month-old and three-year-old with me to the grocery store. And I also did laundry. And applied for a job. And tonight we took the little ones out for pizza and dancing. So it was a productive day.

My friend Catherine writes a blog called The Ten Thousand Hour Mama. There’s a theory that if you spend ten thousand hours practicing something you will become an expert at it. So, ten thousand hours of violin practice, and hopefully you’re ready for a career as a professional musician.

After 3 and 1/4 years as a full-time mom, I think I’ve easily surpassed the ten thousand hour mark. A conservative estimate of ten hours of mama time per day for 3 years puts the total at 10,950 hours as of my daughter’s April birthday. So even subtracting the hours my mom has watched my daughter or that she’s been at preschool, we can call it good.

Skills that I’ve gained? Breastfeeding has been much easier this time around. In part because of my baby, but in part because I knew what to do. I also used to be really uncomfortable breastfeeding in public because I was worried about offending people. But I don’t care anymore. My baby’s need to eat comes first.

I’ve also mastered the skill of getting out of the house. This is incredibly hard as a new mom. Packing the diaper bag with enough wipes, diapers and outfit changes. Getting the baby strapped into the carseat without too much screaming. Or just maintaining your calm throughout the screaming. Now also getting the three-year-old ready and in the car. This is actually one of the most important skills I’ve mastered – I try to have an outing every day in order to maintain my sanity.

I’ve managed to get my 3-year-old potty trained while taking care of my newborn. Or rather, she accepted the bribe of going to ballet camp if she would start pooping on the potty. Ballerinas use the potty.

The things is, you can’t ever be an expert mama because every child is different and every stage is different. I feel like taking care of the baby is easier this time because I’ve done it before and perhaps because of the baby’s personality. But age 3 is new territory and it’s hard.

Maybe once both of my children have graduated from college, then I can consider myself an expert mama. Until then, I’m still learning.

Baby Paul just turned four-months-old last week. He’s a happy little guy with a warm smile and an infectious laugh. His dark red hair has been falling out, leaving bald patches on the back and sides of his head. We’re curious to see if it comes back the same color, or perhaps light blonde to match his eyebrows. Recently he started rolling over from his back to his tummy and getting stuck. This has led to more frequent nighttime wakings.

As for me, my hair has also been falling out for the past month or so. I’m about at my pre-pregnancy weight, but the hole in my abdominals hasn’t healed, so I’ve started doing exercises to correct that. My moods are up and down – I’m not quite sure what my baseline mood should be anymore, since I’ve been either pregnant or breastfeeding for the past 4 years. I also haven’t gotten very good quality sleep for the past 3 + years since my daughter was born.

I’m tired.

I miss working and interacting with other adults regularly.

I’m thankful for two healthy children. Very thankful. I’m enjoying the many opportunities to snuggle with my baby. I know the snuggling age will go by quickly.

It was perfect weather for baby's first trip to the beach.

It was perfect weather for baby’s first trip to the beach.


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