Saturday, December 7, 2013

Seattle Life - 6 Month Review

The Seattle Big Wheel

A solid six months into our Pacific Northwest experiment, Seattle feels like home.  For me, it is just the right amount of new adventure and cozy-warm-blanket familiarity.  Noe loves the parks and playgrounds, the ubiquitous water, our frequent bus rides around the city.  Asher would probably be happy anywhere, but has embraced the history and geography of Seattle as only his little nerdy self could do.  Ed just loves his job.  Seriously....who gets PAID to go to Redskin Seahawk games?  And his ten minute commute to the office.

Asher 'contributing to his city'
at the infamous Gum Wall

Here are some of the things we've found to be unique about our not-so-little gray city in the fog.....

So friendly.  Traffic is horrible, but someone always waves you in (I had to relearn the "courtesy driving wave").  There is a lot of politeness going on in this city....especially the polite smile.  My mouth muscles hurt a lot.  They are clearly out of smiling shape after a decade on the East Coast.

We went to Ed's department BBQ at the end of the summer.  I wasn't really looking forward to attending, figuring it would be a lot of forced, stiff conversation or a brag-fest, which has been my experience at previous other unnamed newspaper events.  But everyone was SO friendly and fun.  Most of the afternoon I spent trying to figure out everyone's angle .... What exactly did they want from us?  On the way home it finally occurred to me.  Oh, they were being nice.

Beauty. Portland is more livable, but Seattle is beautiful.  I still have frequent moments when my breath leaves me for a second   Last month, it was the leaves turning colors along the lake.  Today, it was clear and cold and the snowcapped Cascades and Olympic mountains were stunning. The combination of mountains, water, and cityscape is pretty unbeatable.  The parks and beaches within city limits are pretty amazing too.        
Carkeek Park.  Close and one of
our favorites!

Style.  I'm still trying to figure out my personal Seattle style, which has been fun. It has involved Keens, scarves, puffy vest jackets, layers.  I've always hated wearing makeup.  I love that most women don't wear much here.  I've also seen many older women with striking gray hair.  Natural is beautiful.

Marijuana.  It is in the air, on the buses, everywhere.  Legally.  I don't have any problem with people smoking responsibly, but pot smells like dead skunk to me.

Frugality.  There is a lot of money in Seattle.  But for a big city, there is a lot of frugality as well.  My days of having a fantastically-stocked Goodwill to myself in NoVA are o-ver. Saturdays and thrift stores equal a complete madhouse in Seattle.  Same with Freecycle.   I've given up trying to actually get something for free on the site and just give things away.

Seattle Gray. I spotted a shade of gray during a recent trip to the paint store called Seattle gray...and yeah... the shade perfectly captured the dominate color of the city.  I think it's majestic, tranquil, slightly eerie.  It is also impossible to tell what time of day it is outside.  It could be 7AM, noon, or 4PM and the sky looks exactly the same.  It makes it very difficult to get out of bed in the mornings.  One can easy to understand Seattle's fascination with coffee after spending a few days in Seattle Gray.      
Gray on Green Lake
Diet. We eat more fish, it is cheap and fresh here.  There are summer gardens growing everywhere, renegade gardens in public spaces and along sidewalks.  I picked a summers worth of blackberries along the lake's edge, herbs at the 'free u-pick' neighborhood garden, and got a crate of free tomatoes from our neighborhood school's garden.  As for treats, there is an awesome hot chocolate place called Chocolati and a Ben and Jerry's near the lake.  We still have a lot of restaurant exploration to do.  The high sales tax in the city makes it less fun to spend money on non-essentials.

Apparently, North Face will sponsor your bike commute?

Seattle Green. I like this aspect of the city but it can be a bit stressful.  Did I sort my recycling correctly? Is my food organic enough? Will people judge me if I drink from a disposable plastic water bottle?  There are lots of people riding bikes, but not a great biking infrastructure.  Portland is more militant green than Seattle, but for a bigger city, Seattle's environmentalism is pretty impressive.

UW campus.  We spend a lot of time
here for Noe's autism therapies.

Lost Pets. It is crazy how many people are losing and then frantically searching for lost dogs and cats in this city!  Every telephone poll in my neighborhood is wrapped inlayers of photos of perky dogs and cats who have lost their way.  The boys and I get flagged down at the park and on the street all of the time by people slowly driving the streets of North Seattle, "Have you seen Fido?" they ask.  I've even seen dedicated Facebook pages to lost pets with HUGE rewards.  I haven't figured out if there are just greater numbers of cats and dogs here, impassioned owners, or if there is some crazy factor that increases the likelihood that you will lose your pet in this city.

Enjoying a sunny day at Green Lake

Friday, December 6, 2013

Familia Guzman Dino-vember

I said an emphatic 'NO' to Elf in the Shelf when those obnoxious little elves hit the shelves.   Mostly because it felt like 'one more thing' to buy and keep up with during the holiday season.  But when I saw this, I thought....we can do this!  And we did (for a week)!  We used dinosaurs from the kids' toy closet.  Ed and I worked together to come up with fun nightly scenes of chaos and destruction (and we blatantly copied the originators as well).

Noe was 'eh' about the whole thing, but Asher LOVED it!  He was SO AMAZED by the dinosaurs antics and you could see his mind trying to logically solve the puzzle of how these toy dinosaurs could create middle-of-the-night chaos.

Here are some of our favorite pictures from that week.....

Dino breakfast cereal heist

Taking the plunge

Morning beauty routine

Strummin' Ed's guitar

Art class

Saturday, November 23, 2013

The Family That Reads Together....

Asher is like his "papi" in many ways, but none is quite as striking to me as their shared reading habits.

Both are voracious readers who are always reading several books simultaneously (which drives me crazy, btw ....I am a one book at a time girl).

Asher is an incredibly fast reader (also like his dad).  Meaning, we bring home a stack of chapter books from the library and by the next day he has read every last one.  I am fairly confident that he is faster than I am now.  It is frustrating to buy him books knowing how fast they will be consumed.  I calculated the per hour rate of enjoyment of his reading habit once and decided we might as well be at Disneyland.  Thank goodness for the library hold system.

Also like his dad, it is difficult to talk him into trying new genres and authors.  Sometimes I read Ash a chapter out loud of a book I want him try.  This occasionally piques his interest.  This strategy doesn't won't work with Ed, however.  He usually glances up from his book long enough to say, "Shut up, woman, I'm trying to read!"(Not really, but that is probably what he's thinking).

Some of Asher's favorites right now:

The Wildwood series (Colin Meloy)
My Weird School series (Dan Gutman)
The Cricket in Time Square (George Selden)
Diary of A Wimpy Kid series (Jeff Kinney)

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Halloween - Seattle version

I don't have photos of the boys in costume,
but Asher did take a pic of this cool orange spider
found on the way home from school on Halloween Day.  

Halloween never changes much at Casa Guzman, even when we move cross-country.  Noe and I hate it.  Asher loves it.  Ed conveniently has to work.  We all eat too much candy and feel horrible the next morning.  Ahh...tradition.

It didn't take long for Seattle to pull its first Halloween trick on us.

We started our festivities late because Noe had a speech therapy session at University of Washington, which requires us to catch a bus home at the height of rush hour.  After several attempts, we were on a bus and on our way along the now familiar path through U District, around the lake, and back to our street.  When it was time to get off the bus, I grabbed Asher's hand and exited through the back.  I had meant to grab Noe's hand.  Only when I looked back to make sure Asher was following us did I realize that Noe was still sitting quietly on the bus... and the bus was pulling away.  I sprinted up to the front of the bus and caught the driver's attention just before he crossed a major city artery. I skittishly hopped on board and retrieved Noe in front of a full audience of students, office workers, and others who may or may not have been in costume.

Back home, we fueled up and dressed our parts.  Asher was a ghost mummy (Don't ask. I don't know).  Noe was a Black-Eyed P.  The perfect costume for Noe is the one where he doesn't realize he is in costume.  Nevertheless, his black eye was smeared before we even left the house.

Asher wanted to head to the neighborhood north of us (condos and townhouses, lots of homeless people living in their vans on the street) to trick-or-treat.  I suggested walking south, near the boys' school, where there were houses with families and well-lit streets.  "The houses are big so they give out good candy there," I told him.  I didn't really care as much about the candy as I did about not getting axed to death on Halloween night.

Sure enough, the first door they approached, a nice man greeted the boys with multiple full-size candy bars.  Asher ran back with a huge smile, yelling, "Mom, you were right...this is a RICH neighborhood!"  All within earshot of the man still standing at his doorway as well as several families circling the neighborhood.

Can we please go home now?

Not yet.  First, Noe will need to use the bathroom twice. First, behind the school bushes (don't mind us cops)  and then at Ben and Jerry's. Entering Ben & Jerry's will cause a meltdown after I insist we are NOT getting ice cream on Halloween night.  Then I will have to run through a stranger's house to retrieve him at one of our trick-or-treat stops (it was cute at three years old, no so much at ten).  And Asher will need to carefully admire each home's Halloween decor and have a full-on conversation with the adult at each door.  What exactly is wrong with running from house to house, kid?  Two and a half hours later we will finally make it back to our house.... pillowcases full, feet tired, and my fuse really, really low.

Listen carefully to your mama, my two little Pollitos ...

The candy tax will be very high this year.  Think if-Northern-European-kids-tricked-and-treated levels of candy tax levied to central headquarters (that would be me and Papi).  RECORD levels.....

Friday, October 4, 2013

conversations with asher

last week.....

Getting ready to trim Noe and Asher's hair with the clippers out on the patio.....

Asher: [SHOUTING]  But MOM!  You didn't even go to college for this!!!!

this evening.....

Me:  Asher, thank you for vacuuming without me having to remind you....

Asher:  Your welcome, Mom.  [Thinking...]  Do you think Santa saw me vacuuming?

Me:  I don't know, maybe.  Do you want me to write him a note?

Asher:  [Quickly] No, mom....that would be a little embarrassing.

(Asher insists on believing the movie Elf over the adults on his life on the whole Santa issue....I'm sure that won't be embarrassing for him in a few years)

Friday, September 20, 2013

The Culture of School: NoVA versus Seattle

Noe and Asher are living my dream... I've
always loved old, urban schools.
We seem to hit the jackpot with public schools wherever we live.  We loved our schools in NoVA(Northern Virginia - Washington DC area) in many ways.  I'm really in love with the schools here in Seattle.  I had no idea how different public school would look in the Northwest urban corridor.

There is a lot more experimentation with education here in the Northwest.  For example, the boys attend a half-Montessori half-traditional (or Contemporary) school.  This is a neighborhood school, not a charter or magnet school.  All classrooms are mixed-aged except for the kindergarten classes.  There are quite a few K-8 schools and other non-traditional schools in our area as well.

Because we registered over the summer, both boys were placed in Contemporary classrooms, although we can probably opt them into Montessori next year.  Noe had previously spent his school career in a self-contained classroom with limited inclusion (although his previous NoVA school had fantastic teachers and resources).  This year they automatically placed him in a gen ed classroom (with support) and he will stay there about half the school day.  I am simultaneously thrilled and terrified.


Below are some more differences:

- Less emphasis on testing.  Asher's teacher at Curriculum Night: "I spend some time in the spring teaching the kids how to take the state standardize test.  Otherwise, I don't teach to the test."  It appears that teachers here have more freedom from state standards, or at least more freedom to interpret and teach standards the way they see fit.  NoVA classrooms were much more enslaved to meeting specific standards.   This doesn't mean our NoVA teachers all favored this approach, but there wasn't much escape from it.

- Keeping up with the Joneses.  Social pressures remain, but differ.  In NoVA, it was all about academic excellence and whether your child had achieved AA (Advanced Academic) placement.  I have heard nothing about an AA-type program here, although it surely must exist.

Keeping up with the Seattle Jones includes packing your child an organic lunch, doing school drop off and pickup by bicycle or foot or unicycle...really... and outdoing your neighbor's recycling efforts.

-Style. A lot more tattoos. On teachers, staff, parents.  A lot less makeup for women.  One of the upper-elementary teachers, probably in her late 40s or early 50s, has a nose piercing.  I think it looks great!  Lots of Keens, Athleta workout outfits, hipster thrifts. Teachers dress much more on the casual side.  The only time I have seen Asher's teacher in pants and a shirt that buttons was on Curriculum Night.  Otherwise it's been t-shirt, shorts and hipster glasses.  Girls at the school tend to dress kind-of Hannah Andersson with a granola twist.  Most boys wear soccer shirts and jeans or shorts.  Everyone wears flannel and fleece, of course, sillies!

- Sports.   Soccer is HUGE here.  Whereas in most of America, soccer is a springboard to American football and volleyball, you don't stop playing the beautiful game in Seattle.  Ultimate frisbee....also big.  Many elementary schools carry ultimate frisbee teams.  Everyone runs.  Noe and Asher's elementary school even has a small track!  Being surrounded by so much water, crew is also a big sport.  We have been going down to the lake on sunny early fall afternoons to watch the high school crew teams practice on the water.   It has also been fun to see that Four Square and Pickle Ball school yard favorites of mine growing up in Portland are alive and well on the playgrounds of Seattle.

- Smaller budgets.  Seattle schools, unlike NoVA schools but like just about everywhere else, have seen a lot of budget cuts over the past few years. There are no computers or fancy smart boards in the classrooms.  I've noticed some creativity with staffing (i.e.) the secretary runs out before and after school for crossing guard duties.  Music and art are both heavily subsidized with volunteer support.  Actually, volunteers are everywhere.   In our NoVA schools, the PTA was mostly a fundraising mechanism for the schools.  However, here volunteers are teaching in the classroom everyday.  I've already done some math activities with Asher's class and created all of the classroom's math centers.  I was pleasantly surprised by class sizes (Asher's 2-3 class has sixteen students and Noe's sp ed class has eight students, one teacher and 2-3 IAs.)

- Diversity.  Compared to our experience in NoVA schools aka the United Nations, diversity is a bit lacking here in Seattle.  I loved that the boys were exposed to kids of completely different ethnicity, religion, and economic circumstances each day at their old schools.  I'll never forget some of the things Asher said as he tried to process all of the differences in his classmates in NoVA: "Inniyah is spending Ramadan in Indiana" actually she and her family traveled to 'India'.    In Seattle's defense, I would bet the only other place in America as diverse as NoVA is New York City.  Seattle certainly isn't completely void of diversity.... it just isn't quite as rich.
Teaching garden...isn't it fabulous? 

- Other things.  The school day is almost 2 hours shorter here compared to NoVA (factoring in bus rides).  There are more male teachers than female teachers at Asher's school, but the principal is female.  However, there are very few non-white teachers and staff.  Kids here know and sing their school song.  Kids can eat and drink in the classroom as long as they are eating fruits or vegetables and drinking from their water bottle.  Asher says he has a lot of time to draw and read independently during the day.  Besides Winter and Spring Breaks, the kids get the entire week off for Thanksgiving as well as a week for mid-winter Break in February.  To cross the streets near the school without a crossing guard posted, there are orange flags in a bucket fastened to a post or telephone poll.  You simply grab a flag and carry it with you through the crosswalk...then place it in the bucket on the opposite side of the street.  Ed is always amazed that the flags are never stolen.   PE includes a unit on unicycling, rock climbing, ultimate frisbee, and Parkour.  The 100-year old gym has no storage so all equipment is strung up from the red brick walls. It actually looks really cool!

P. S.  The very best thing this school year has been having Noe and Asher attend the same school for the first year EVER!  The school is a 5 minute walk from our house and we can see the Space Needle en route.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

10 Years Later

August 14, 2003 is a day I'll never forget. But not for the reason you would think.

I've been reading and hearing stories all week about how this year will mark the 10th anniversary of the great power outage in New York City that also impacted most of the northeastern United States. It was, without question, the most surreal day we had while we lived there. Jen captured it well in a blog post she wrote six years ago. Yes, I really did walk to work that night (It was a little more than four miles from our apartment in Sunnyside, Queens) and I did feel like a fish swimming upstream with the mass of humanity LEAVING the city across the Queensboro Bridge.

But that was not what made the day memorable.

There were other snippets and moments that I knew I would never see again once the sun began to set: Times Square pitch black dark, for example. A partially-lit New York Times newsroom running on emergency generators, to name another.

But once again, not what made the day memorable.

We had finished putting out the paper (a great accomplishment under the circumstances), and a bunch of us decided to go outside and explore a little bit and perhaps find food and drink.

(Thinking back, it seems a little unusual that less than two years removed from 9/11 we felt it safe enough to do this. But then again, and improbably perhaps, there really was a sense of community and shared experience that night. Yeah, it was miserably hot, especially with no air conditioning. But we were in this together and we were going to get through it.)

We ended up in a bar on Eighth Ave that was making do with some improvised lighting. At some point late that night, it happened: One of my colleagues, someone I consider a friend to this day, gave me the pep talk of a lifetime.

It wasn't eloquent, but it was forceful. It didn't have one memorable line, but the message did come over clearly.

So what was the message? Aim high, because you can go as far as you want to in our profession. And if I was still doing the same thing in 10 years, he would find me and, well, I can't write what he threatened with me on this blog. In other words, failure was not an option.

For years, I would tease my friend that he went "Ben Affleck in 'Good Will Hunting'" on me that night. But there was something a little deeper than that. He talked about why it was important that I made it to a certain point, what it would mean for someone like him, who struggled and worked his way up in journalism.

I'm not entirely sure why he felt the urgency to tell me on that particular night. But from the perspective of 10 years, I'm so incredibly grateful that he did.

And it wasn't like I didn't have ambitions and had set goals for myself. But no one had ever really said: "I think you can do it. I believe in you." At least not in uncertain terms like my friend did in that bar in the middle of a sweltering night.

It was an important message during an important point in my career. And a lot of this was only going to come through hard work and time, which I gladly put in over the next 10 years.

The journey is not over. But thanks in part to that belief my friend showed, I feel I am on my way.

Sunday, May 12, 2013


In the middle of our West Coast moving madness, I decided it would simplify things if the boys and I drove our vehicle to Portland from our Washington DC area home.  And somewhere in the middle of Ohio, I bolted upright in my drivers-side seat and realized I had made a terrible, terrible mistake.

But we pushed forward, and against all odds, stopped the car in my mom's Portland driveway several days later exhausted, but safe.

Some of my reasoning was practical - it was the cheapest option.  I also didn't want to be without a car for the weeks necessary to transport a car cross-country.  We knew we would be living with my mom for several weeks while we waited for our new Seattle home to close.  I needed to bring along clothes for several seasons (we were going to be staying in Portland in the springtime, after all), homeschooling materials for the remainder of the school year, toys and games, and bicycles.  All the essentials.

The trip also sounded adventurous.  I had never been through our country's midsection.  The boys would learn so much as we drove and stopped at various landmarks.  It would be a bonding experience.  I would get to catch up on a lot of reading via audiobooks.

Here is the reality of our trip.  I was pretty exhausted and stressed out from the last two months of packing, moving logistics, cleaning, and selling the house.  Plus work and all of the other day-to-day life that needs to be handled.  Ed had to leave for his new job at the beginning of March which put an incredible amount of pressure on me to get everything taken care of before we left.  Add in some autism and it was a very difficult time.  On a Friday morning in early April, while the neighbor kids headed off to school, we loaded up the car and drove out of Reston, and then the state of Virginia, for good.  I was too tired to be sad.

I really did not want to eat fast food for the entire drive, so I packed a cooler full of food so we could picnic at rest stops.  It was just way too cold throughout the trip to do this successfully.  Our first picnic in Morgantown, WV was met with a freezing wind.  I still made the kids wrap up in blankets and eat but didn't push the issue going forward.

It was also hard to transition Noe in and out of the we just drove.  Drove right past the Hoosiers gym that I've always wanted to see, among other Midwest treasures.  It wasn't long before the weather forecasters were predicting a big snow storm in the we had to speed up our trip or risk getting stuck in the mountains.  Before long, the boys travel education had been reduced to this same conversation as we entered a new state:

"Look, we're in [state]."  (Boys look up bleary-eyed from their electronic devices)

"What is the capital of [state]?"  (Asher answers, but butchers the pronunciation)

I continue...."[State] is known for having lots of  [insert one of the following:  corn/mountains/potatoes/Republicans]


As for my plan to listen to audiobooks....yeah right.  We listened to Noe's music for the entire ride in an effort to keep him settled and happy in the car.

There were some highlights (and lowlights) along the way.

*A jaw-dropping sunset coming out of Omaha....Asher still claims this was the best part of his trip.

*Stopping to visit my sister, Kelli, in Utah.....just a day before she gave birth to my new nephew.  I got to see meet him at 1 day old!

*Experiencing first-hand the vastness of our is hard to put into words, but driving the entire country kind-of felt like watching an IMAX movie through a variety of landscapes, people, lifestyles.

*Trying to communicate with a cashier in Wyoming and not being able to understand a SINGLE WORD of his thick intermountain west accent.

*The joy of a hot shower and a good mattress after a day of driving.

*THICK FOG and then SNOW in the mountain passes between Wyoming and Utah.  I picked a truck and followed behind it...for miles and miles.

*The spray shower of pee that Asher and I got from Noe when I couldn't pull over and find a restroom for him fast enough.  Noe, miraculously, kept himself completely dry.

*Our final night in Baker City, OR and the sure signs that we were back home:  No sales tax, a sign for Pop and Ice, an attendant to pump our gas.

And it is GOOD to be home!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Perfect Son

So the past few weeks with Noe have been autism-tastic.  He knows his life is being turned completely upside down and doesn't know how to handle the changes.  He sees his house morphing into a state of boxes and blank walls....a little more each day.  He knows his father is on the other coast and that we will soon join him.  Because he can't communicate enough to process all of these changes, they come out in less constructive ways --- trouble focusing and sleeping, some violent outbursts, serious OCD behaviors.  He will run from one side of the house to another if he senses a cabinet door might be ajar.  He is constantly putting away dishes and silverware left on the counter, even if they still need washed.  He must have his hands full of his "comfort items" (favorite fabrics, ribbon and balls) at all times.  He is easily angered and agitated.

The worse Noe's behavior becomes, the harder Asher pushes himself to be the perfect child.  It is difficult for Asher to watch me struggle.  Noe throws a tantrum at dinner?  Asher quickly and quietly puts away the dishes and sweeps the floor.  Noe refuses to go into the grocery store while we are out running errands?  Asher tickles his brother and says silly things to him until he forgets his protest.  The other day Noe was lobbing pencils and paper at me because he did not want to practice his handwriting.  Asher disappeared upstairs and practiced the piano for an hour straight.

Asher tells me he loves me and appreciates me at least once an hour.  He gets upset with himself for the smallest and silliest of missteps.  His little eight-year old self is desperately trying to be everything I need right now.

I constantly tell him, "You are not responsible for your brother.  You do not need to be perfect.  You need to work hard at school, have fun with your friends, and do the things you enjoy doing like soccer and writing and making cool stuff."

However, what I'm REALLY thinking....and at some subconscious level what I think he hears is...."Thank you for not giving me any headaches.  The better you behave and the more you help out the easier it is to deal with your brother.  I really NEED you to help me out right now while we get through this challenging time.  I DEPEND on you, so please don't let me down."

I have officially started a future therapy fund for this kid.

A few years back a friend with an autistic brother passed along an article about autism siblings.  The article suggested that autism siblings fall into one of two extremes.  Siblings either become the perfect child to overcompensate for their autistic brother or sister, or they experience anger and resentment toward their family situation and rebel.  Asher was only two years old when I read the article and I already had a good sense of which camp he would join.  I remember the icy wind of sadness, guilt and relief blowing through me as I had that epiphany.

So here we stand six years later, theory in full motion.  As a mom, I can only hope that both of my sons feel my ever-present love and know they are always enough.

Postscript:  Noe's behaviors have overall improved this week, and Asher is whining about getting his own room at our new house in Seattle, so some balance has been restored.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013


Would I be, right now, sitting in a really sweet gated community with a much more conventional view of the world, a husband in the bishopric, and a killer Pinterest habit? Instead of sitting here with my not-so-orthodox Mormon life and a career I never imagined.....

- Joanna Brooks .... I'm not as cool as her, but I can definitely relate to this quote on her blog.   So happy to be living the life I've always wanted and not a life that others conceived for me.  

Thursday, February 7, 2013


Heard last night.... I was upstairs madly painting to prepare our house for sale while Ed was downstairs at the dining room table helping the boys with homework.

Ed:  (in a very exasperated voice) "Write those last two sentences, NOW!"

I think I got a peek into Easy Ed's nightly work life as well.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

A Good Cry at REI

My favorite store, REI, is not far from our neighborhood but I hardly ever go.  Everything about REI screams the Pacific NW and it makes me instantly homesick to go inside.

A couple days ago I was running errands nearby when I remembered that I really needed a new headlamp for my early morning runs.  I walked in and was suddenly submersed in NW outdoors deliciousness.  And somewhere between the inflatable canoes and energy bars I started sobbing uncontrollably.  It wasn't homesickness though.  I was going home.  In the middle REI, it had finally sunk in.  Ed got a job and we are coming home!

We have known that this job was probably going to happen for a few weeks, but between the madness of daily living and my fear that it would fall through, I never let myself feel it.  But wandering the aisles of gortex and fleece released all of the joy and relief of finally realizing this goal.

Oh there is much left to figure out - Will anyone buy our NoVA townhouse?  Where will we live and where will the boys go to school?  Noe's therapies.....we have been so incredibly blessed with autism therapists here, and we love his school.... what will happen in Seattle?  And my job.  I love my job.  I told Ed he had to find the first job because I had more marketable skills than he did ( reality...neither of us have marketable skills).  Now I have to find a job! Stress, let me tell ya.

But for that tiny moment of time life was beautiful and perfect and our future was exactly where we wanted it to be.

I guess this is an official announcement.

Familia Guzman
Seattle - Early Spring 2013

Friday, January 11, 2013

Autism Nights

Just when we thought Noe was finally developing good sleeping patterns, this week happened.

It feels like he has spent more time awake than asleep between the hours of 9PM and 6AM this week.  Two nights ago, I thought he was FINALLY down and I went up to my bed, only to awake shortly after to find him downstairs with the music on full blast, running around the house swinging a ribbon in the air, like he was trying out for the US Olympic Rhythmic Gymnastics team.

I've had lots of time this week to reflect on all of the other middle-of-the-night scenes we have woken up to over the years, including...

Noe sitting on the cold pantry floor eating hershey kisses (I think we estimated he had consumed at least 20 by the time we found him)

Noe sitting or standing on the kitchen counters eating cookies/cupcakes/fruit snacks.  Once we caught him sitting up on the fridge.

Noe playing ball on our back deck at 2AM (luckily, we always keep the back fence locked).

Noe in Asher's bed/ in our bed/under our bed.

Noe riding his razor scooter (which had been stored for winter in our downstairs closet) through the hardwoods of our house.

Noe dumping out an entire Costco-sized pail of laundry detergent in the storage room to make his own sand box.

Noe sorting his blocks/his pegboard pegs/Ed's ties by color and leaving them in piles around the house.


Friday, January 4, 2013


Double-digits, I can't believe it!  How can I even be old enough to have a ten year old?  Didn't I graduate from high school ten years ago?

You continue to amaze me, baffle me, humble me, and tire me out on a daily basis.  You have the gentlest hugs and kisses, but play the loudest music.  You are constantly in motion, but sleep so hard I have to often carry you up the stairs to your breakfast in the morning.  You still say few words, but your eyes speak volumes.

Your obsessions..... Amy Winehouse's music, iPad games, the ocean.... they are both maddening and endearing.  You pick up new things so quickly now, until I remember how far behind you are compared to your peers.

We had a great day, Noecito.  Your Papi was off of work and he took you and your brother to your favorite moon bounce local.  Later we went to your favorite restaurant, Chipotle, for dinner, so you could eat all of the beans and rice you wanted.  I made birthday cupcakes and Asher helped decorate them.  We ate cupcakes and ice cream after we sang 'Happy Birthday' to you.  You were so happy and blew out your candles through your mouth (versus most years - blowing through your nose!)  You loved being the little celebrity of the day and we loved celebrating you!