Sunday, September 17, 2017

DACA editorial

I wrote a FB post in total frustration and despair after 45 announced that he was dismantling DACA. To my shock it got a lot of traction on social media. A couple days after I posted it, I received a call from the Editorial Page Editor at the Seattle Times, asking if I'd be willing to turn the post into an editorial for the newspaper.

Here's that article. Don't read the comments.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Summer '17

Pianos in the Parks, Salt and Straw ice cream, Disneyland and California Adventure, Dodger games, a treasure hunt at Volunteer Park, picnicking at Golden Gardens, kayaking to Duck Island, Outdoors For All, riding the new burnt orange electric cargo bike around town, boogie boarding at Huntington Beach, hiking the rim of Crater Lake, In and Out burgers, fries and shakes, watching the solar eclipse with Grandma and watching the bees suddenly disappear and the crickets chirp,  picking blackberries all over town, swimming at Green Lake, 4th of July fireworks and BBQ at Grandma's house, hiking and playing in the sand at Oxbow Park with cousins, Pips Donuts, camping and tidepooling and hiking the rocky shore and the gorgeous sunset over Canada in the Peninsula, Mariner's Baseball with River, picnicking at Gasworks Park for a 16th Anniversary, biking the Burke-Gilman trail, Ultimate Frisbee camp at Woodland Park, frozen yogurt, biking EVERYWHERE!, Hollywood Walk of Stars, Tepayak and churros from a truck with good friends, mosquitos at Diamond Lake, surprise piano performance at the Portland Art Museum, Mt. Tabor and Voodoo Donuts with good friends, biking to the farmers market at Wallingford, OMSI, marionberry scones and chai and good friends at Gresham Farmers Market, pizza buffet at Track Town, walking through Portland neighborhoods and dreaming, walking around Green Lake, slurpees at 7-11, s'mores and campfires, watching the new middle school be built before our eyes, early morning boot camp at Licton Springs, smoke and hazy hot days, morning runs around East LA, LEGO mega projects, exploring Seward Park, architecture tours of downtown and Queen Anne, exploring International District, playing in the International fountain at dusk, hanging out on Abuelo's porch, drawing classes and long walks along the Alki boardwalk.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Teaching Lego Robotics to 6-year olds in North Seattle

A Lululemon mom might drop off little Espen, but the nanny picks him up.

A little boy walks in on the first day with his arm tightly bandaged. "What happened?" I asked with some exaggerated sympathy.

"I fell off a golf cart when we were in Hawaii last week."

I am helping a little girl untangle a robotics motor from her hair and she asks why I wear the same shoes every day.

Tiny backpacks for tiny pale children filled with vegan, gluten-free, non-GMO snacks. Bars that resemble cat shit and smell even worse. Organic pouches full of squashed up vegetables, basically repurposed baby food. Sunscreen, with firm instructions to apply and reapply for the ten minutes of overcast Seattle skies we will see each mid-morning break.

The kids are polite, but demanding. And not just in the typically demanding way of your average six year old. In a way that lets you know that if they ask nicely, they always get what they want.

All of the kids are nice to the little girl with dark skin and tight curls, but no one wants to be her partner.

At pickup, parents want a full report of each hour of camp. I want to say, "Sebastian stood on his head during my 45 second lesson on gears, broke a $15 motor and secretly pocketed a couple of LEGO pieces after I told him he couldn't take his robot home." But I manage to put a positive spin on the day. If I've learned anything at all running this business, I've learned that parents don't really want to hear the truth about their kids.

Moms snap iPhone photos of my robotics kits so that they can overnight their kid his own for home use. No one ever blinks at the $200+ price tag for each kit.

For these Amazon-subsidized parents, tuition for my camp is a pretty small line-item in their budget. But I stretch their money a long way. I can pay for a month of Asher's piano lessons in an hour. Noe's speech therapy for the entire year takes me a week. Oops, I still need to fill my IRA for this tax year. Done!

So I apply all the sunscreen, unwrap all the free-range vegan buffalo bars, tie all the fancy shoes, and sort all of the LEGOs. With a forced smile on my face and a pocket full of cash.

Friday, August 11, 2017

The many contradictions of Noé Guzman

He insists on shutting all the windows, even in the heat, while keeping all of the kitchen drawers and closet doors open.

He has to touch every plant that we pass, but won't pet a dog or cat that is looking for attention.

He will request a million different foods and then not eat a thing.

He carries a grown-up mug around the house. But instead of coffee, he has it full of chocolate milk. Heavy on the chocolate mix.

He plays Christmas music in July and Beach Boys in January on his beloved iPad.

He won't wave a simple hello, but will perform an 8-step handshake.

He will put on multiple layers of clothes through the night. Even the hot-as-hell-with-no AC-nights in July. But he will prance down the stairs naked with no warning.

He makes us crazy and we love him.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Root Beer Float Happiness

Tonight was Father's Day and I bought ice cream and root beer to celebrate Ed. However, Ed was not the most excited person in the room when I pulled out dessert.

That honor belonged to Noé.

Noé celebrates food in a way like no other. When he is eating something he really likes at the table, he'll close his eyes and go into a trance, chewing slowly, enjoying every bite.

When he saw the root beer and ice cream come out of the fridge, he reacted much like I would if someone handed me a check for $1 million. He first looked on with shock and surprise, and then, as realization set in, a slow, wide grin covered his face. To finish off his celebration, he started jumping and hopping around the room, laughing and whooping it up.

Sometimes, it takes very little to make him so happy. Other times, it feels like nothing will make him happy.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

On mantras

  1. (originally in Hinduism and Buddhism) a word or sound repeated to aid concentration in meditation.
    • a Vedic hymn.
    • a statement or slogan repeated frequently.

Done is Better than Perfect

This was my personal mantra for many years. I repeated it several times a day and it succeeded to make me ultra-productive and consistent, if not mediocre. I'm okay with trading off the sleepless insanity of constant perfection for a mediocre life. I'm happier with my house "pretty clean", my latest work proposal finished and emails out but with a stray typo or two, my kids dressed and clean, but not wrinkle-free, and a solid seven or even eight hours of sleep in me.

When I was on the hunt for a new mantra, and I heard this one while listening to one of my favorite podcasts, 'Happier, with Gretchen Rubin', and it instantly resonated with me:

Don't Treat A Gift Like A Burden

I took Ed out for a 40th birthday brunch recently, and we were talking about the time that had passed since we had first met. "What even happened to our thirties?" I said.

"Our thirties were all about the kids," he replied. And he was exactly right.

But "all about the kids" just isn't sustainable for me any longer. I've been feeling this angst lately,  that everything I do for my kids or Ed or my job feels like a heavy weight. I desperately need a shift of perspective to survive the next few years. I need to stop treating my gifts as if they are burdens!

Last week Asher had a science fair at his middle school and won, which was the worst possible outcome that I could imagine. Now he is competing at the district level, with new expectations and a competition time during rush hour on the south side of town. But I'm done stressing about it. Instead, I'm choosing to be proud that I have a son who works hard in school, that Ed's work schedule is slow enough right now that he can come home early to get Noé off the school bus, and I have a reliable car and plenty of podcasts to get us through the rough commute.

Oh, I'll never be a Sunny Sally... not my personality. But acknowledging and appreciating the vast amount of goodness in my life? Yes, I will be better for it. And the three biggest "gifts" in my life deserve it as well.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Green Lake

(I wrote this poem because I've been told that writing poetry helps you become an overall better writer. I entered it into a library city poetry competition so that I would have a deadline to finish a poem. It is so cliche, it's a little hard for me to read and a lot hard for me to publish. But it's a record of my writing and my family, so it goes on the blog. Also, it won a place on an interactive city poetry map and I will link to it here if the map ever goes online).

Winter dusk, like a cloud of lead hits
My boys, their chestnut eyes and moppy-heads  
dressed in various layers of flannel and fleece

One son walks with me, hand in hand
The other trails, beating his own drum

One child recounts his day to my ear in low, intimate tones
The other, voiceless, kicks up rocks on the trail, avoiding dogs like ghosts

We pass runners of olympiad stealth and grace
Rickety, reminiscing elderly couples clasp hands, while
a snowy pelican looks into the eye of the lake from its bare-limbed perch

The abandoned swimming area begs for warm summer days
And the public library stands matronly from afar
A lone kayak strays in the water, a dot on a sheet of blue

All have come to the water's edge to seek its effulgent refuge