Tuesday, June 5, 2018

You Need A Mexican!

I was frantically weeding my side yard, which faces the street (because: THE MOVE), when a man with the same shade of skin as Ed, somewhere in his late twenties or early thirties, missing a couple of teeth and with a young child in each hand, approached me and pulled out a business card and said with a warm smile,

"You need a Mexican for that!"

I looked at him and then his card, and then up at my house, where somewhere within resided a Mexican. My Mexican. Likely on his laptop doing work, but not the work that is stereotypically ascribed to his race.

And all I could do was nod and agree. And laugh.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Bar Graph-ing Our Move

I made a representational bar graph of our family in the middle of packing and getting our house ready to sell, because..... because..... it seemed productive at the time. 

Monday, May 7, 2018

Last Blog Standing

When I mentioned to a casual friend that I still keep a personal blog, her reply was, "Wow, so 2006!"

It was a little rude of her to say, but she is correct that the mommy blog era is no longer. But just like cargo pants and Gilmore Girl reruns, also 2006 favorites, the blog still works for me.

If I'm in a busy phase of life (kind of like now- we're selling our Seattle house, preparing to move to Portland, and ending the school year), the blog is a quick way to guarantee I'll get at least a little writing done. And it is still nice to have a place to record family milestones as well as the quirky everyday happenings of Familia Guzman.

I have no idea who, if anyone, is still reading. But for some reason, it is more satisfying for me to publish on a blog rather than keep a traditional journal.

And I'm so glad I started this blog. Even if I was bending to mommy peer pressure to go along with a current trend (but I don't think I was as I never bought a maxi dress, I just like to write), it has already become a treasure trove of family memories. It is so fun to look back at earlier posts to see what the kids were doing, what they were like, what things about them drove me batty! One of the things I love to do most with Asher right now is go back and read old posts about him. And he loves it, too! He can't believe he was such a silly little kid! I can't believe he's almost grown.

It is interesting to see how the blog has evolved through the years. The first couple of years of entries are sugary and cute. I think I was subconsciously copying the style of other mommy blogs at that time, which leaned towards the idyllic.

At some point, I tired of that style and started getting real about our family life. These posts are my favorite.

These days, I'm a little stuck for material, as Asher does not want me writing too much about him, and I want to respect his privacy. I also feel like I should be mindful of Noé's privacy, as he cannot give explicit consent. But I also think autism families need to tell their stories. Well, all families need to tell their stories. It's a hard balance.

Perhaps, we need to get a dog to generate more blog material.

But I'll keep writing my 2006 mommy blog. Even if it is only about our imaginary dog.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Visiting my Ex-Boyfriend: New York City

New York City is the ex-boyfriend that I can't quite leave for good. I occasionally go back for a few days of fun and excitement, and then quickly realize why it didn't work out in the first place.

Asher and I had a great trip to the city this past week. But by the final day of the trip, I was done waiting underground in stinky dark stations for trains that could never arrive on time. Tired of constantly swimming through the waves of people on the street, not to mention swimming through the actual monsoon-like rain that hit the city on the final day of our trip. Tired of people constantly selling me things on the street and putting paper advertisements in my hand. Tired of waiting in long lines for everything. Tired and ready to come back to my real husband and the relative calm that is Seattle.

But let's back up to the days before the affair went bad.

It was so fun to see the city through Asher's eyes. We moved to DC when Asher was a toddler, and we've returned a couple of times for visits, but he has very few memories of the city. Once he was finally out of bed, we were out exploring until late each day. He couldn't seem to get enough of the city. He loved its rhythm, its shiny attractions, and the freedom the subway system provided to get you anywhere you wanted to go. "If we lived here, I could go anywhere," he exclaimed with fresh realization. "Even Coney Island!"

Even Coney Island.

Asher said his city favorites were the views from the Staten Island Ferry and Highline Park. I could see his future city planner brain in high gear the entire trip. We were on the 7 one morning, headed into the city, and a mariachi band stepped into our train and started playing for the commuters. Not a single person looked up except Asher, with his wide-eyed wonder. He didn't know they were supposed to be an annoyance. He dug out a dollar from his velcro Nike wallet and put it in the accordion player's open hat as they passed our seats.

We stayed in an AirBnB in Sunnyside, our first Queens neighborhood. I was lukewarm on the neighborhood when we lived there, but loved our AirBnB apartment, a renovated flat in Sunnyside Gardens, and I was in awe of all the new bike lanes that criss-crossed the neighborhood and the hipster coffee shops. There was even a dog park in the middle of the vast cement jungle otherwise known as Skillman Park!

More than the shiny attractions, the part of New York that will always have my heart is the coexistence of diverse communities. Walking back to our AirBnB from the subway station at sundown on a Friday night, I spotted a family in their home observing Shabbat over flickering candlelight and a large meal. In a park in Chinatown, we watched groups of elderly Chinese, segregated by gender, gambling on card games and playing Xiangqi on cement picnic tables. They looked just kids in a school yard, except with wrinkles. Back at Skillman Park, we saw Ecuadorians playing soccer in a light rain on a concrete playfield with their flag draped over a goal.

New York City is like a patchwork quilt with fat fabric quarters from each part of the world that, arranged together, make a beautiful finished blanket. The blanket might be frayed at the edges and you will find a lot of flaws in the construction, but the imperfections create a uniquely beautiful work.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Noé at 15

Noé brings a lot of joy and laughs (and some frustration as well) to our family.

Just this week:

I told Noé he could have an ice cream bar as an after school treat. He pulled out the bar from the freezer and quickly disappeared, leaving the wrapper on the kitchen counter. I found him sitting on the couch with his ice cream bar and his iPad. I asked him to throw away the wrapper. He laid his iPad and ice cream bar on our white couch to throw away the wrapper.

"NOT ON THE COUCH!" I shouted. He promptly picked up the iPad and left the ice cream bar on the couch cushion.

He is also obsessed with my slippers. Whenever I look for them, I inevitably find them on Noé's 15 year old feet. The other morning, he REALLY wanted to wear them to school. I thought we were going to have a showdown of wills. Then I told him, "Noé, it's just not cool for an eighth grader to wear his mom's slippers to school."

He looked at them longingly, then took them off and carefully lined them up next to the other shoes before putting on his sneakers.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Ode to the RadWagon

One of my biggest pleasures in life is riding my bike, or really any bike. When we moved to Seattle, I hoped to make it a full family affair. Maybe we could even sell our car and use our bicycles as our primary mode of transportation.

That fantasy hasn't played out, but we're getting closer to a car-free life, thanks to our RadWagon.

Probably the biggest obstacle to our car-free utopia was Noé's inability to ride a bike independently. He can balance himself on a bike and ride in an open area, but I can't trust him to ride the highly-trafficked streets of Seattle. Maybe we'll get there eventually, but not today.

Soon after our move to Seattle, I was itching to ride the city with my boys. I looked at SO many cargo bike options. They were SO expensive. And SO heavy to ride up and down the hills of Seattle. Meanwhile, Noé just kept growing and getting heavier. I *almost* purchased a tandem bike for him last spring, but changed my mind. I know Noé pretty darn well. I knew he wouldn't pedal if he knew I was pedaling, too. I could picture myself trying to haul the bike, with Noé still sitting on it, up some of Seattle's cliff-like hills. Seattle Hill Hell. I knew it would become miserable and that we would eventually stop riding the bike altogether.

Later last spring, I started hearing some buzz about Rad Power Bikes. I did some research and I was impressed with the RadWagon. It was everything I wanted and needed in a bike for Noé and I. The cargo long-tail structure would be a comfortable ride for both of us. The electric assist would get us up those nasty hills. The burnt orange color was bright and badass. It was in our bike budget...far and away the best priced electric-assist cargo bike on the market. They are based out of Seattle, so I set up an appointment at their Ballard shop for a test ride in early June, but they pretty much already had me at "electric-assist-cargo-bike-under-2g."

Nine months and 500+ miles later, my love only grows for my RadWagon. Noé and I have had so many great city rides together, around the lakes of Seattle, along the Burke-Gilman trail that winds around the city, to and from summer daycamp.  He loves riding with me and often requests to do so on his iPad communication device. Many days, I'll ride him to school, even though the school is only a seven-minute walk from our house. It is a great start to the morning. Yesterday, we were riding around the lake on a sunny but cool, early-spring day and Noé kept standing up on the bike. I looked back at him and he looked so free and happy. Kind of like that famous Titantic movie scene where Jack stands on the mast of the ship. I laughed, and then I told him to sit down.

I follow the owner of Rad Power Bikes, Mike Radenbaugh, on my Instagram. He is the ultimate bachelor entrepreneur and adventure-seeker dude. I will see Instagram stories of him out on Lake Union on an SUP in the middle of winter at 6am. He seems like a good guy, but I think it's pretty safe to say that he didn't have disabled kids and their bike-crazy moms in mind when he rolled out the Rad Wagon. Much like Steve Jobs had no idea how much his Apple technologies and devices would change the lives of kids with nonverbal autism.

But I'm happy to benefit from both of their genius.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

A Goodbye Letter to Seattle

Dear Seattle,
I will miss your emerald skyline, your parks that make the city feel like a giant playground. I will miss your ubiquitous water that is like liquid Prozac on my nerves. I will miss Rainier keeping a distant but studious eye over you and your soaring housing prices.
I will miss trying to order a Bitchwich at Biscuit Bitch with a straight face, fancy brunch at Portage Bay, and I will also miss scrounging the inner linings of my car for spare change to buy a Dicks Burger.
I will miss your magical summer evenings: splashing in the International Fountain with my boys and random nude adults on quaaludes, and bike rides along the Burke-Gilman trail - can we make it to Lake Washington tonight, kids?
I will miss ALL the salmon. Fresh salmon lofted between fishmongers at Pike Place Market, salmon grilled on cedar planks, salmon murals, salmon-shaped slides on your playgrounds. I will miss going to Ballard Locks with my Mexican father-in-law and trying to explain that no, you cannot just grab the salmon off the ladders and take them home to grill because they are "protected" - and that word getting completely lost in translation.
I will miss M's games and guessing if the giant roof will be open or closed at Safeco during the rainy drizzle. I will miss having to explain to my kid why people refer to the Downtown Biospheres as "Bezos Balls."
I will miss worrying that my pink-haired techy millennial neighbors will starve if UberEats ever goes under. And I will miss other neighbors with big houses who leave their Christmas lights up through the winter because the darkness at 4PM on a January afternoon can feel unbearable. I will miss giggling at the irony of your wealthy all-white neighborhoods dotted with Black Lives Matters signs, but I will also miss how those same neighbors cradled and reaffirmed our mixed family post-election.
I might even miss the jaw-dropping, white-knuckled bus ride that is the E-line a little bit.
No. No, I won't.
But most of all, I will miss you, Green Lake. Beautiful Green Lake, you have been the backdrop to my boys' childhoods. We have swung in your trees, swam in your water, boated to the epic and mysterious Duck Island. We have circled your path while trying to make sense of our own lives and the world we live in. And we always leave your shores feeling a little bit better.