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.

Friday, January 19, 2018

The Things We Say and Like

These are the results of a silly FaceBook game that we played together before bed last week, but did not want to actually post on Facebook. I thought it might be fun to look back on one day in the future. I found it interesting how sarcastic we were to each other when answering questions as we generally aren't sarcastic in our interactions. I guess we were trying to come up with funny responses. Note: Noé did not participate because he was already in bed ...miracle... /sarcasm!

My commentary is in [  ]s:

What is something JEN says a lot?
Asher: Asher, can you come over here for a second?
Ed: Talk to your father

What is something that ED says a lot?
Jen: Touché
A: Is water wet? Is the pope Catholic?

What is something that ASHER says a lot?
J: Do I have to go to school tomorrow?
E: Reasons

What makes JEN happy?
E: I don't know  [such a funny guy]
A: Chocolate  [truth]

What makes ED happy?
J: When the Dodgers win
A: Your phone  [ouch!]

What makes ASHER happy?
E: Your phone
J: When it's time for "Amazing Race"

What makes JEN sad?
E: Life  [such a funny guy]
A: our president  [truth]

What makes ED sad?
J: When the Dodgers or Stanford lose anything
A: When the Dodgers lost the world series

What makes ASHER sad?
E: School (except for Spanish and PE and Jazz Band)
J:  When the weekend is over

What is JEN's favorite thing to do?
E: Go on a bike ride
A:  Bike    [for sure]

What is ASHER's favorite thing to do?
E: Text with friends
J:  Play the piano

What is ED's favorite thing to do?
A: Watching sports and listening to the record player
J:  Going on hikes

What is JEN's favorite food?
A: Egg salad [huh?]
E: Chocolate

What is ED's favorite food?
J: Seafood
E: Pizza

What is ASHER's favorite food?
E: Bacon and eggs [thank you, Parks and Rec]
J:  Seafood

What is JEN's favorite drink?
A: You drink tea a lot
E: Chai

What is ED's favorite drink?
A: oh my gosh yeah...root beer

What is ASHER's favorite drink?
E: Root beer
J:  Hot chocolate

If JEN could go anywhere, where would it be?
A: Portland
E: Chile   [hmm...I've already LIVED in both those places...]

If ED could go anywhere, where would it be?
J: London
A: Dodgers stadium [he would like to live there, actually]

If ASHER could go anywhere, where would it be?
E: Abuelos house [?]
J: Around the world with "The Amazing Race"

Do you think you could live without JEN?
A: A big fat no
E: no  [said very casually]

Do you think you could live without ED?
J: My heart would not go on 

Do you think you could live without ASHER?
E: Absolutely not
J: Not a chance, you're our sun/son

How does JEN bother you?
A: When you don't finish your sentence [I do that...]
E: I plead the fifth 

How does ED bother you?
J: When you walk too fast, when you snore all night
A: When you say the dab is not dead

How does ASHER bother you?
E: When you don't listen to me
J: When we have to nag you to get your work done

What is JEN's favorite TV show?
A: Parks and Rec [a good one...but nope!]
E: Mad Men

What is ED's favorite TV show?
A: Mad Men
J: Friday Night Lights

What is ASHER's favorite TV show?
E: Stranger Things
J: Stranger Things

What is JEN's favorite music to listen to?
A: Christmas music or Despacito [no and NO!]
E: Ricky Martin [....and nope]

What is ED's favorite music to listen to?
J: Jazz and Beatles
A: Miles Davis 

What is ASHER's favorite music to listen to?
E: Pirates of the Caribbean theme
J: Anything with a piano tutorial

What is JEN's favorite color?
A: Green
E: Green

What is ED's favorite color?
J: Pink 
A: Dodgers blue

What is ASHER's favorite color?
E: Red
J: Red and orange

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.

Monday, January 1, 2018

Middle Aged and Rage-y

In preparation for our New Years Eve and the upcoming work and school week, I food shopped at my neighborhood Fred Meyers this afternoon and unknowingly ended up in the millennial check out line.

The female checker and the shopper in front of me both had recently turned 21. I know this because they were yucking it up while the checker rang up her groceries.

"Do you like that hard cider? It looks like beer to me. What are you doing tonight to celebrate?" Yuck-ity yuck yuck yuck.

At one point they were talking back and forth so effortlessly, I figured they had to know each other. But they didn't.

Checker finished ringing up Shopper. They said their final goodbyes. And then Checker turned to me.

Checker: "Hello, ma'am."

Me: "Hi, how's your day going so far?"

Checker: "Fine, thanks."

< Silence >

She rang up my groceries and I could only think, "Dang! I'm even wearing my on-trend jeans with holes and I still look like an old lady to her!"

I find myself vascillating between wanting to be acknowledged by millennials and being completely annoyed by them.

There is a pink-haired millennial who rents a place behind our townhouse. I run into him most mornings as I walk Noé to school. He circles with his cell phone in hand, looking ridiculously lost as he wanders his own street in pajama bottoms. It took me about a week to figure out what the hell he was doing. Finally, one day I saw him approach a car that had pulled up. The guy in the car handed him a McDonalds bag and then drove off. He had UberEats delivering him a freaking Egg McMuffin every morning!

As a penny-pinching, middle-aged rage-y mom, this is wrong to me on so many levels.

First off, I can count *five* breakfast places, all of which serve some type of egg sandwich, within a three-block radius of our street. This includes a fast food place that has an almost identical breakfast menu to McDonalds. His legs looked perfectly fine as he wandered down the street looking for his Uber delivery. And if he doesn't want to walk, heaven knows there are plenty of Lime Bikes lying around at any given time on our street.

Second, how much does it cost to get an egg McMuffin delivered to your house? I didn't find out, but the Seattle urban markup must be pretty steep. The closest McDonalds to our neighborhood is about three miles away. Plus delivery and tip, are you kidding? Whatever coding job he has better be pretty dang lucrative.

Third, even if that little pink squirt makes more money than me (which is often the case when you live just a couple miles away from Amazonia and all the other neighborhood tech companies), does he not understand the law of compound interest? I may just tape this article with accompanying charts to his front door. Those little egg sandwiches may only cost him twenty dollars each today, but they will cost him hundreds of dollars a pop by the time he wants to retire. I have another millennial co-worker who has made a really high salary since he graduated college, but ten years later, hasn't saved or invested a cent because he "doesn't trust the stock market." These super smart kids are just incredibly dumb sometimes.

I know some really impressive millennials. We host a Seattle Times intern in our home each summer. Each has been more mature, more gracious, more accomplished than the next. And I'm also quite positive that the generation before me found me just as irritating as I find some of these younger kids. From my vantage point - this generation is the pulse of the country and they certainly have the most energy, and you want to endear yourself to them. But they don't have enough life experience to command respect. It's just a strange place when you realize you are no longer the Up-and-Comer but rather the Judger from Above - The Middle-Aged Rager.

Friday, December 29, 2017

15 Years Ago in Manhattan

December 2002

December 2017

Fifteen years ago, pregnant me was flying through midtown Manhattan with a nervous Ed and an even more nervous taxi driver. I was too busy trying to avoid a taxi cab birth and the inevitably awkward local television news appearance to be scared. The cabbie won, and Noé was delivered inside NYU Medical Center six weeks short of his due date. Little did I know we would soon face much bigger problems than how to tame all that beautiful black baby hair. The last fifteen years? Unbelievably difficult and unbelievably wonderful. Noé's autism has changed the trajectory of our family. Our capacity for love and compassion has been stretched beyond former recognition. We want for very little besides a secure and happy future for him (and maybe some better sleep). 

Happy 15th Birthday, Noécito!

Sidenote: He blew out his candles this year!

Thursday, December 14, 2017


Thirteen is all legs and heart, with a dash of moodiness.

Thirteen is keeping a safe distance from your parents in public, but asking to snuggle after a tough middle school day.

Thirteen is taking advanced math, but walking half-way to school without your backpack.

Thirteen is when you finally learn your father's native tongue because your Spanish teacher looks like Miss Venezuela.

Thirteen is eating a full dinner with the family and then promptly going to the kitchen for three bowls of cereal.

Thirteen is calling puberty a "monster that is sucking away my childhood."

Thirteen is pounding on the piano for hours because there are just too many emotions.

Thirteen is alternating between being proud of your older brother with autism and being completely frustrated with him.

Thirteen is texting, jazz band, sleeping in, discovering girls, track meets, drawing in secret, Instagram, and STEM Club.

Thirteen may kill me.