Dept. of Speculation


This book was my book club’s December/January book. Another author had recommended it. It was different than anything we had read. And for good reason. It was weird. Here’s a little about the book:

In the beginning, it was easy to imagine their future. They were young and giddy, sure of themselves and of their love for each other. “Dept. of Speculation” was their code name for all the thrilling uncertainties that lay ahead. Then they got married, had a child and navigated the familiar calamities of family life—a colicky baby, a faltering relationship, stalled ambitions.

When their marriage reaches a sudden breaking point, the wife tries to retrace the steps that have led them to this place, invoking everything from Kafka to the Stoics to doomed Russian cosmonauts as she analyzes what is lost and what remains. In language that shimmers with rage and longing and wit, Offill has created a brilliantly suspenseful love story—a novel to read in one sitting, even as its piercing meditations linger long after the last page.

This was a very fast read. I read it in just over an hour. (I had put it off and read it the day of our book club meeting.) The writing style was very different from a typical novel. The sentences were choppy, the paragraphs were brief and characters were referred to by descriptions instead of names. The story itself was a bit depressing about their lives and marriage.

I’m not sure I’d really recommend it because it was hard to find and probably not worth paying lots for. I did find my copy through the library, so it was worth it for me to give it a read.

Happy reading.


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A Breakthrough

I have been in a life rut for quite some time. Moving back home was supposed to make everything better with this rut. Unfortunately, that hasn’t exactly been the case for me. I have been struggling with the prospect of going back to work for quite some time (for example, what I want to do, what I’m capable of doing, and not being scared to try). I touched on this a bit in a previous post I wrote. Well, today I had a breakthrough.

So, for me, staying home with the kids is the easy way out. I am scared to try new things or attempt to sell myself at something new. But it hit me today that staying home is probably one of THE hardest jobs there is. It’s mentally exhausting, grueling at times, dirty, you don’t get a vacation, no time off, no pay (except for all those sweet hugs and kisses) or 401k. You spend your day teaching and playing and being a short order cook. Along with keeping things together around the house (which I fully admit I am not very good at).

I have always doubted my abilities and really my brain. I seem to think that I am smarter than people at times, yet I have no real ambition or motivation for what I want to do with my life or any trust in myself to accomplish any ideas I may have. Every time I think something sounds fun, I immediately disqualify myself because of my lack of qualifications, knowledge, because I’m worried about failing or worried about learning something new to educate myself. I would love a job I don’t have to go back to school for. And I am certain there is a good fit for me out there.

I have started contacting some friends in various fields for input, suggestions and help with various aspects of this journey. As of right now, I am not exactly sure of my direction, I feel more like I can tackle something and do it well. Because a lot of the time, when I do something, I don’t suck at it as much as I thought I would.

That was a long-winded way to say that if I can do something that many people consider so challenging (and find it to be my “easy way out”), I can really do anything. And at the very least, I can make an effort to be good (or great) at it.

I know something similar (if not exactly) has been told to me by my wonderful husband who knows what I am capable of, but today, a light came on and it just clicked. So, I’m ready to tackle the world and find an area of work where I can flourish and come back to life.

If you have any tips or insight for jobs or contacts in the tech field, project manager jobs, website building (I like the idea of a web editor or managing a website), recruiting (I’d like tech recruiting of some kind), analyst positions or something else that might be a good fit, let me know. I am working on strategizing my next steps, but please reach out if you have suggestions for me.


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Alexander is ONE!

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I know I say this every month, but time has flown by and I can’t believe our baby is one already. This past year has been a whirlwind and in what feels like a blink of my eye, my baby is no longer a baby. But I can say with all confidence that even though I am sad he’s not a baby, I am SO excited for all the things that come with him being older and not having babies in the house anymore.



It has been very freeing to get rid of all the baby stuff and I love seeing him grow up and turn into a little boy. It’s hard to tell so far how different he is than the girls were (because boys are different, I am told). 


We had his one year checkup yesterday morning (along with Dannie’s three year checkup). He got 4 total shots and the girls got flu shots. He weighs 24 pounds and is 30.5 inches long.


A couple weeks ago, all the kids got sick. They got a high temp and cold/cough that lingered until just recently. They were so tired and cranky. Alex became very snuggly when he was sick. He now likes to crawl into my lap and put his head on me or sit in my lap. I’m working on getting him to give me more kisses, too.





He just crawled up the kid picnic table the other day. I didn’t get a picture of him standing on the seat, but that’s where he was when we saw him the first time. Then he continued to crawl up it over and over until I took it back outside. I think we are going to need to find our baby gates right away.


Alex is an eater. He still loves his food and has wanted to do more and more on his own. He now just wants me to hand him half a banana to eat and doesn’t want it cut up. Mind you, the kid still only has two little bottom teeth, but he is quite proficient with them. His other new favorite thing is pretzel sticks. I know he’s my kid because he looks like he really likes licking the salt off them. He’s getting really good with his snack cup and loves his water bottle.








He babbles all the time and says “mama”, “dada”, “nana”, “baba”, can click his tongue, sticks his tongue out at me, does “so big”, claps, waves bye, points at things and signs “more” and “drink”. We are working on “all done” instead of throwing his food off his tray.


He has also learned the joy of dumping things out. Of course he doesn’t want to dump out toys….just food.



He loves playing with toys that make noise or things where he can push buttons. He likes putting toys into a box or bucket and likes to page through books. He still doesn’t want to sit still while we read him books. He mostly wants to eat them, but we are working on it.


The girls are still really good with him. They play with him and include him in everything. They are helpful and caring and sweet to him and always want to love on him and tell him how much they love him. The girls love making him laugh. It is so cute hearing them laugh at each other. Alex just wants to be doing whatever his sisters are doing.







He loves playing at our friends’ house with their little boy that is the same age. (We are going to miss them like crazy when we move!) Lately he has had a lot more fun there than here. When we are home he just wants to be in my pocket. But he plays really nicely there. I am sure it’s because we don’t have many toys here anymore and they are all getting bored with the few we do have left. I can’t wait to unpack all their toys and let them loose in the basement!



Alex has been working on his walking, too. He likes walking around with his car and cruising around the furniture. He likes it when you hold his hand and help him walk, but doesn’t seem stable enough to walk on his own quite yet. Here’s a video of him walking with this toy.



I think (and many others have commented, too) that Alex looks just like Chuck. Dannie is my mini-me, Alex is Chuck’s and I think Maddie is a good mix of us both.



Last weekend we had a birthday party for Alex and Dannie and it was a huge hit. Alex loved his cupcake and made a huge mess of himself. I will post a bit about the party soon.


We are down to the end of his bottles. Normally, I would cut him off today, but with the drive coming up, I am going to let him have his one bottle and formula for a few days until we get back home and then deal with changing him over to milk. Most days he doesn’t even finish his bottle and prefers to drink it out of a cup with a straw. Hopefully the transition won’t be too bad.




The girls like to wrestle with Chuck when he gets home from work and Alex has started to get in on the wrestling fun. I know Chuck and the girls will be excited to unpack their wrestling pillow! He likes being carried and we learned last weekend that he enjoys sitting on your shoulders.


Our little man is growing up so quickly. He is changing all the time and becoming more independent. Alex’s is the happiest boy and we love his laughs (and snorts). He wrinkles his nose when you tickle him. I can’t wait to see more of his personality as he grows up. We love you to pieces little man. Happy birthday, Alex!


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Danielle is 3!

Our baby girl is three (3) today! It's so hard to believe she is that old. This past year has been such a whirlwind and Dannie has changed so much. She is growing up so quickly and isn't my squishy little baby anymore!

This girl is full of personality. There is not a dull moment at all with her around. She is sweet, caring, loud, funny, silly, dances her heart out, sings like it's going out of style, hugs you with all her might and smiles with her whole body. (The first picture she was trying to wink. It's not just a picture up her nose.)

Dannie loves her brother and sister. She wants to copy everything Maddie does (Maddie is usually a good sport about it). They play together, laugh together, share a room, and are the best of friends. They do have their fair share of fighting and getting on each other's nerves, but for the most part, they get along great. Dannie is always thinking about Maddie even when Maddie is at school. Today when I was getting a cake pop for her, she told me she wanted to get one for Maddie, too. Then told me I wasn't supposed to call Maddie “sister” because Maddie doesn't like it. Always looking out for each other. 🙂

Dannie loves her brother, too. She insists that Alex can only be called “my baby”. She gets furious with you if you call him something else. She wants to help him if he needs it (sometimes a little too vigorously) and is starting to get the hang of playing with him and not just tossing a toy his direction. She shares her toys and is always willing to bring him a toy or help me do something for him. At night, she loves helping me put him to bed and wants to sing him a song, kiss him and say good night.

She is headstrong like most kids her age. She is determined and stubborn and tests all her boundaries. She wants to do everything herself and things need to be done in the correct order or way or the world may end! She likes picking her own clothes. Pajamas and her Rapunzel dress are her favorites. She's very curious and likes trying new things and she's turning into a little daredevil at the park. She's doing all the right things for her age, but it sure is exhausting.

Currently, she insists that you call her “Big Girl”. Nothing else will suffice.

She's very silly. She loves singing songs (at the top of her lungs) and dancing around (mostly spinning). She plays nicely by herself and will have some very funny conversations to herself (friends) while she is playing.

Dannie is my mini-me. It freaks me out at times. She is loud and obnoxious and just wants to be in your pocket. I am pretty much the same way. 🙂

She is a snuggler. The only problem is she snuggles very vigorously and leads with her pointy limbs! And she can't sit still at all. But she means well, so it's hard to be too upset even when you are in pain. And usually she likes to give you a really sweet kiss right before you are ready to toss her off your lap. She is the sweetest.

She is fluent with the iPad and loves coloring. She's getting really good at staying in the lines and drawing things. She loves Curious George (she calls him “monkey George”), Rainbow Dash (her favorite My Little Pony), her blanket (which she says “gankie”), and ice cubes in her water.

She was sick recently and she was so tired for a couple days she couldn't stay awake. She stopped taking naps a while ago, so it seems so strange when she naps during the day. Thankfully, all the kids are finally (mostly) healthy again.
Next week we have her three year checkup at the doctor (along with Alex's one year checkup). Tomorrow we are having a little party for Dannie and Alex with a few of our friends. This morning I made her pancakes (with sprinkles and chocolate chips) and we picked out ice cream to have when dad gets home from work. And we will be doing more celebrating in the coming weeks.
Happy birthday, Big Girl! We all love you to pieces and can't wait to see what this next year holds.


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This Life She’s Chosen


A friend of mine recommended this book to me (which was written by her best friend) when I told her I was moving to Seattle. The author also lives in the Seattle area.  I wasn’t able to finish it when she gave it to me because I had too much going on at the time. But we ended up reading it for book club last month and I am so glad I finally got to finish reading it.

This book is a collection of short stories. I haven’t read many short stories, so it was a little harder for me to get into it at first. Once I was able to get a hang of how short stories were written, I really enjoyed them. And thinking about the stories from the beginning after reading the whole book made those even better.

Her stories are so beautifully written and you get a feel for each of the characters. I was able to feel connected to each of the characters in a very short time with her stories. Each of the women in the book were so different and yet had an inkling of a common thread through her words. I was intrigued by how visual her words were and how in depth the stories were at only a handful of pages long.

The really exciting part for me is that we were able to get the author, Kirsten, to join us for book club so we could ask her questions and talk to her about the book. It was so fun to hear her thought process and her feelings on the characters. I love talking to authors about their books (or hearing authors talk about their books).

Kirsten wrote this book a number of years ago and wrote a second one (Swimming with Strangers) as well. She talked about a third book in the works as well! I am planning to read her second book and would love to read her third book one day, too. Kirsten, if you need more people to read advance copies…I’d love to be considered. Smile

If you love short stories, I recommend you read this. If you haven’t read many (or any) short stories, I recommend you read this. I think reading a variety of writing helps me be a better reader and also not become so stuck in one genre. This book is a little hard to get copies of (you won’t find it at your local library) because it was written a number of years ago. But if you want to read it, I would be happy to loan you my copy.

Happy reading, friends.


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Fall Play Date Fun

We went to my friend Mallory's house to hang out last week. We hang out there quite a bit. At least once a week. I actually took a few pictures this time. Our kids all pay so nicely together! The second picture is from a different day, but it was just so cute.

We also made these Berry Bars while I was there. The kids had fun helping and eating them.

Just before it was time to leave, we took them outside to play in the leaves for a few minutes. Of course, I couldn't get all my kids to look at the camera at the same time no matter how hard I tried. Typical.

The girls played hide and seek and found a worm!


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Oatmeal & Berry Bars

This recipe for Berry Bars popped up in my Facebook feed the other day. I happened to be going to a friend’s house that morning and I told her about it. Her reply was “that looks easy and delicious. Let’s make them. I have all the stuff!” So we did. We whipped them together and had the kids “help”. They were a huge hit and I will definitely be making them again and keeping them around for breakfast and/or snacks.


We sprayed the pan lightly because she didn’t have any parchment paper. Make the oatmeal mixture and press it onto the pan. I did this with my fingers and shaped it. I’d say it was maybe 1/4-1/2 inch thick or so. Then add the jam/fruit layer (we used raspberry jam and frozen blueberries) and add the rest of the oatmeal mixture on top.

The fruit layer was a little hard to spread around and I was skeptical there was really enough, but it turned out to be just fine. I decided to use the bottom of a measuring cup to press the top layer of oatmeal crust down flat since my hands were not doing the trick.


You may need to perfect your own technique, but you should definitely give them a try. My kids loved them, her kids loved them, they were simple and you know everything that went into them. And the kids can help. What more can a mom/parent ask for?!



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Monster Treats

Last week we went to a friend's house to make a little Halloween treat. She found the idea here on Pinterest. These were really easy to make and the kids had a lot of fun. We decided to make them with Fruity Pebbles because her daughter doesn't like Rice Crispies. This was a delicious substitution!

You just make crispie bars, melt some chocolate, then decorate. Easy easy easy. Goofy faces and thumbs up were had by all.

After the treats, the girls had Alex chasing the remote control car around. It was the funniest thing. 🙂

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Woodland Park Zoo

We have made a visit to the zoo here in Seattle many times. But on this visit, the kids were happy, the sun was shining and I just happened to take a bunch of pictures. So here are some pictures from a recent visit to the zoo this Fall.

We played at the park just outside the zoo for a little while before it opened. The zoo opens at 9:30, so when the kids are up before 7, it’s pretty likely that we are stir crazy before the zoo opens.



Next, the girls thought it would be fun to chase the jaguar. They don’t have much of a survival instinct. Smile


Up next were the gorillas. This one was so sweet and came to look at us right by the window.



Inside the zoo, there’s a really fun playground. They like to run around the path (over and over), stand on the ant hills, go down the rock slides and play in the spider webs.



One of their favorite places at the zoo is the farm. The animals were pretty silly when we were there.








More fun things to play in/on.



Dannie is starting to get the hang of standing on standing part of the stroller. For some reason Maddie wanted to sit in the seat.


The lions are kind of hard to see in this picture, but they were all out on the rocks which is something we don’t see very often.


We hadn’t visited the wetlands at the zoo in a long time, so we took a stroll through there. It was really pretty




The red panda (Firefox) is one of my very favorite animals. He’s so dang cute and fluffy!


We also saw the giraffes, hippos and zebras, but I didn’t get any good pictures of them. I love this zoo. The only thing I wish it had were more indoor areas. It rains here…a lot (in case you didn’t know) and it would be nice to have more options at the zoo for rainy days. But alas, it does not. I hope we can get a couple more nice weekend days to make another visit before it gets too cold (and rainy) for the season.

What is your favorite animal to see at the zoo?


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Zoo Bathrooms

So this may seem like a very weird post, but I can’t help myself. We go to the zoo fairly often and I made a bathroom stop one time and I was surprised to see all the doors to the bathrooms painted. I thought it was so cute.

They had a female lion painted on the women’s restroom door and a male lion was painted on the men’s restroom door.


And there was a lion family painted on the family restroom doors. It was so fun and so creative!


Now, here is where I show my true weirdness. Each of the stalls in the women’s rooms were painted with the front of an animal on them. And when I went inside, I was surprised to see the rear of the animal painted on the inside of the door. Since there wasn’t anyone else in the restroom, I decided to be a whack-a-doo and take pictures of each of the stalls….on both sides. So here you go, the painted stalls in the women’s restroom at the zoo. I’m sorry. And you’re welcome.













See….it may have been weird to take pictures of all of these, but they are really beautiful in person. It took a lot of time for someone to paint all of these. And they did a wonderful job. It’s such a creative idea and I haven’t seen it before. Well done, zoo. Well done.


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