Friday, June 23, 2017

The Boys Make a Discovery/Father's Day

Ryan's been pretty good about making sure the lawn stays mowed lately, and the kids seem to have discovered that we actually have a yard! Gareth lost our soccer ball when he was playing with it on the deck and kicked it over the rail, onto the street, where we assume it rolled down the hill and into the busy road. So I purchased new soccer balls and some foam baseballs so the kids would stop using the bat with the soccer ball. And the kids actually spent some time playing in the yard for the next couple days. Shocking, I know. They have now reverted to their usual patterns of playing solely on the deck and inside. But it was nice while it lasted.

Both the kids made cute Father's Day gifts for Ryan, though neither actually handed them to him. I found Gareth's sitting on a pile of end-of-year papers he brought home, and Mal decided his needed to be housed in the linen closet.

Mal told me that he was starting to cry in this picture because it was hurting his neck to hold that pose. And you can see that we have a lot of work to do in the learning letters/writing department still.  

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Post-quarter Happenings

Right in the middle of finals I had my last orchestra concert of the season. We performed Rachmaninov's Third Symphony and Rite of Spring.

I got to play the Eb clarinet part on Rite of Spring. I'd previously assumed all the solo stuff in the piece was first clarinet; turns out, it's all Eb clarinet. Yikes! I started practicing the part back in October, just so it wouldn't be too stressful with school going on. Unfortunately, my performance was not my best. Things went a little wonky for everyone in the opening and I messed up a couple things I'd never messed up before. But, after that, all my other solos went well. There were plenty of things that were not perfect for the orchestra as a whole throughout the piece, but we made it to the end in one piece. I'm glad I had the opportunity to play it because, as one trumpet player put it, most community orchestras wouldn't be insane enough to even think about programming Rite of Spring. We also had our largest audience of the year - just over 1100 people; it's always fun to play to such a full hall.

Mal's been pretending to be Darth Vader a lot lately. One day he went to preschool with his makeshift Vader cape on:

And he's been insistent about wearing the rain boots quite a lot lately. Of course he would be, now that it's not raining anymore.

Ryan's birthday also fell during my finals, so we held off celebrating that until this past weekend. I made one of his favorite dinner dishes and a German chocolate cake. We only had 15 candles, so we just kept relighting them until he'd blown out 36. Ryan didn't really want any items, because anything he really wants he'll just buy himself anyway. So I'm trying to get Gareth to do a thorough cleaning of the boys room instead of buying a gift. And Mal decided he wanted to get Daddy 16 sparkling waters "because Daddy's turning 16". I informed him that Daddy is actually turning 36. "Oh, then I'll get him 36 sparkling waters". The idea made me laugh, so Ryan's gift he got to open was 36 cans of sparkling water. When Gareth found out Ryan was turning 36, his response was, "Oh! I thought he was 46!".

The day after I finished classes, I swept and mopped all of the main level floors. It was so satisfying! I finished that before noon, so I even got to enjoy a clean living room for a few hours before the kids came home to make a mess in it again. Cleaning is so much more enjoyable when there aren't kids around to try to help. I find if I start out intending to have them help I can deal with that much better than when they come along and decide they want to "help". And sometimes you just want to get the cleaning done and having a 5 year old do the cleaning isn't conducive to the end goal.

Gareth still has a few more weeks of school, so we won't be in full summer mode for a bit yet (plus, the temps have dropped into the low 60s again - I turned the heat back on yesterday). I'm trying to keep myself on task and get as much done as I can before he's done with school. Hopefully we'll be able to get the occasional fun outing in over the summer alongside all the work I need to do.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Year One

Year one of graduate school is in the books. Granted, I have things to do over the summer. Lots of things actually, if I think about it for more than a minute. I have a portfolio due at the end of June, an online Nutrition Management course to finish by the end of July, a community rotation to complete (I'm going to a camp for kids with diabetes the day after my online course finishes), and I'm hoping to make a huge amount of progress on my capstone project (currently working on IRB revisions).

The past 8 months have been extremely rewarding, even if incredibly stressful at times. I started out more than a little unsure of myself, wondering if I'd feel horrifically unprepared compared to everyone else, and knowing I was the last person to get in off the wait list leaving me wondering if I really could hack the program. All that good impostor syndrome stuff. My first metabolism exam showed me that at least the academic side of things was definitely doable for me. And having a cohort to go through everything with is great. When this comic sums your life up just a couple weeks into winter quarter, you know everyone else is right there with you.

A couple weeks into winter quarter I got a moment of validation when I received an email informing me the faculty had nominated me to apply for a scholarship through Mortar Board/Tolo Foundation. This particular scholarship, in honor of Betty Runstad, is reserved for Nutrition students. Whether I got the scholarship or not, I was grateful to have been nominated. I spent the next couple months compiling a cover letter, resume, and my qualifications in scholarship, leadership, and service. My brother was very helpful in the editing process on these as I'm apparently prone to downplay what I've done. A couple months later I did an interview, and, in the end, I got the scholarship. I've also been given a scholarship by the department for next year. Between the two, my tuition for fall and winter quarters will be just about covered. I'm very grateful for that because it helps keep the loan amount at something more reasonable.

Anyway, this past quarter has been so enjoyable. Between starting on my capstone and taking classes that are more oriented toward practical application, I found a lot to enjoy. I also had the opportunity to attend a 4-day pediatric nutrition conference that was here in Seattle (I applied for a scholarship to it, didn't get it, but was instead offered the chance to attend as a volunteer). The conference was exhausting, but an incredibly valuable learning experience. And it was fun to meet some RDs who are already practicing in pediatrics. I attended another conference this week, a 1-day event at a local hospital. These types of events are getting me excited for the rotations we'll do next year, though I'm certainly nervous about them as well!

Next year will be extremely busy as well, but I'm hopeful that this summer, despite all I need to do, will provide enough of a break for our whole family to take a deep breath before plunging into the final year.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Emerald City Bike Ride 2017

Yesterday I rode in the Emerald City Bike Ride. This is only the second year they've held the ride; I missed last year because it conflicted with a concert. It was exciting to get to go this year and the weather was beautiful. This ride is a 25-mile loop that starts at the stadiums, rides the I-5 express lanes, crosses the 520 bridge, then comes back via the I-90 express lanes. It's not a difficult ride (no real hills), but gives you access to some routes you normally can't bike on, meaning you get some great views and experiences.

You can start the ride as early as 6 am, so I was up at 5 in order to get my stuff together and ride over to Redpath's in order to catch a (car) ride with them to the route start. Biking at 5:15 on a weekend with no car traffic around was so nice! I made it to Redpath's right on time, added my bike to the rack, and we were off. We started the ride around 6:30 and finished at 9 - leaving plenty of time for other activities that day.

Looking back toward the Space Needle from I-5

Looking toward the Aurora Bridge from I-5

Headed back toward downtown on I-90
I was grateful the ride started so early since we were going to hit the mid-80s yesterday - no one wants to be riding in that heat! Which was confirmed later in the day when Gareth asked to go ride bikes at the park. We were less than a block from the house before Mal was complaining about the heat. And when we got to the playground Mal rode his bike for a couple minutes before declaring it too hot. He played in the shade for a bit and then decided he could handle the heat and headed to the playground. Gareth rode his bike for a while, headed to the playground, and within a couple minutes came back declaring "That's not going to work for me. It's too hot." So he went back to riding his bike, but looked like he was melting while doing so. He took frequent breaks to sit in the shade and drink water. The trip ended when Mal fell on the blacktop and decided that one drop of blood meant he was going to die. Gareth said he was ready to go anyway - it'd only been 45 minutes or so since we'd arrived.

Playing in the shade of the school entry
Hopefully my schedule allows me to participate in the ride again next year. I think it's one Gareth could do as well - there were quite a few kids around his age. He's starting to outgrow his current bike, so if we get him on a different bike and out riding a bit more during the next year I might try to figure out if I can bring him along.

Sunday, May 14, 2017


We spent the evening with some friends last night. One of these friends, JR, is amazing with kids; he took our boys for the day when we needed to get a new car last summer and Mal was excited to get to see him all day yesterday. When we were done eating, JR offered to take Mal to look for dead crabs at the beach (it's been an obsession of Mal's since last summer when they saw some on the beach while we were buying the car; he often talks about how he's going to eat dead crabs with JR). And then it turned from just Mal to taking all of the kids and taking the all in the rain at that. 

I wish I'd caught a picture of Mal when he got back. Wet curls, in a jacket a size or two too big for him (it'd been nice out when we left the house, so he borrowed one). He was quite possibly the proudest, happiest little Mal I've ever seen as he ran in, holding a plastic bag, and saying "I found a dead crab!!" It was seriously adorable. 

We caught a picture later in the evening, when he was getting a little tired and didn't want to show his face:

Then he took the crab out of the bag:

Don't worry, we made sure the out of the bag experience was brief. And that he washed his hands after putting the crab back in the bag. He was convinced that we could cook and eat the crab, but all the adults managed to get through to him eventually that doing so could make us sick. And I made sure to quickly shut down any ideas of the crab being carried into bed with him. He was convinced though that we could store the crab in our fridge. Thankfully, by the time we got home he was so tired he didn't notice that we didn't bring the crab in the house. And this morning when he asked about it I just told him it started getting really smelly, so we'd had to throw it away, which he thankfully seemed to accept. 

Monday, April 17, 2017

Easter, Ten, and Other Things

Mal's preschool takes spring pictures (as does Gareth's school, actually - I guess the photo companies weren't making enough off the fall pictures, so decided to try and get parents to buy pictures twice a year). I picked up Mal's to look through the other day and they just made me laugh. Here's one of the individual pictures:

Gotta love the blueberry stained lips. And who knows what provoked that facial expression. In the class photo he's giving the photographer some serious side-eye and leaning away from his classmates. Looks like he was in quite the mood that day. Which may not be entirely surprising since they were taken the day he got back from being home sick for a week.

He got to spend the past week hanging out in Kindergarten since Gareth was on spring break and in the "school-age" room. Occasionally they'll let Mal go to Kindergarten anyway, but I guess with the extra school kids there they allowed him to more than usual. He came home with a sheet of the three letters he's willing to write. If only he'd be willing to figure out an L and a C, he'd be able to write his name. Not that he'd write them in the correct order. You'd think the M and A would be more difficult than L and C, but for some reason, these are the three letters he likes best.

Gareth just turned 10. Most of his friends were out of town for his birthday celebration, but we had fun with the couple kids who were around. I fed them lunch and took them all to the movies (ugh, Boss Baby was the only kid show in theaters; you'd think they'd try harder to have decent shows out around typical Spring Break times, but apparently not) then came back home for cake. Gareth wanted the Minecraft cake again, so it was pretty easy to repeat what I'd done just a few weeks before, except with orange jello for lava instead of blue for water.

I keep forgetting to buy more birthday wrapping paper, so Gareth got some Christmas paper instead.

It was an exhausting day where I got not schoolwork done, but he and his friends really enjoyed it. He got a sports camera from my mom, which he's been having fun with over the past few days, taking video of running around the yard and making a dialogue with himself as two different characters.

Easter weekend was some of the best weather we've had yet this spring. I discovered that I can sit in the yard and still have access to internet, so did so in order to encourage the kids to play outside. Mal prefers to sit next to me rather than play. At some point he did get up and manage to twist his ankle a bit, which he's showing off here:

Clearly a severe injury. And here's Gareth finishing up a lap around the yard with his camera attached to his waistband:

Mal trying to sleep in his chair.

Mal offered to do my work for me:

Eventually Mal tired of me doing work and insisted we go for a walk. We headed down to the school playground where he finally decided he could be a little active. He's still too scared to try monkey bars, but he was more brave than usual about the slides and willingly went down the big slide several times.

We didn't do much for Easter. I knew we'd have had tons of sweets recently, so I picked up a couple non-food items for each of them and then put an apple, a package of blueberries, and a pez dispenser in each of their baskets. They didn't even notice their baskets when they first came into the living room and were just sitting on the couch playing with toys. Gareth finally saw them. "Oh, yeah! It's Easter; look Malcolm! (Mal gives a confused look toward the baskets) Can we open our Easter stuff, Mom?"

Mal opened his stuff but didn't want to eat anything. He got sick a few minutes later, then ate all of his blueberries (which did stay down) before deciding he was done eating for the day. So Easter was rather low-key at our house. He rallied to do a very quick egg hunt later (I need to find better hiding spots), but hasn't really touched the candy from the eggs - most unusual for him. He took a couple of good naps during the day, so hopefully he'll be feeling his usual self soon.

Monday, April 3, 2017


The cherry trees are in bloom at UW. Because our program is housed in a building on the quad (Raitt Hall), we get to take in the beauty somewhat regularly (all of our classes are actually elsewhere, but we often head up to Raitt for meetings or to study). My pictures certainly aren't the greatest, and the quad was more crowded than usual with people coming to check out the blossoms, but here's what I snagged on my phone while walking to Raitt last week:

We're starting to get more spring-like weather, as you can see in the pictures above. I made time to go on a bike ride at the end of last week. We headed up to Iron Horse State Park and rode a portion of the John Wayne Pioneer Trail. It's a packed gravel trail that is an old railroad bed. You can ride it all the way to Idaho - apparently many people who ride cross country use the trail for that portion of the ride. We were hoping to make it 18 miles in, to a tunnel that doesn't open until May 1. We made it almost 11 miles before the snow we were hitting more and more frequently made us give up - we were getting to where we were walking more than riding. Riding through the snow was nerve-wracking, probably more so for Steve than for me since he was responsible for keeping the bike in control, which the snow really didn't want to allow. But it's a great ride - nice wide trail, lovely scenery, peaceful; we'll be heading back once the tunnel is open and the snow is gone.

Sunday, April 2, 2017


Mal turned five recently, which is somewhat startling to me since Gareth was turning five when Mal was born, and that doesn't feel like all that long ago. He was extremely excited for his day. He got to take in cupcakes to school and picked the ones that were spring themed, with flower rings. He wanted pasta for dinner, so we had that and some corn.

And then he wanted a Minecraft landscape cake, like Gareth had last year. I was even less meticulous this year, but he was happy with it.

Then he got to open presents before bed. One of his preK teachers got him a present, which he was very excited to open. We gave him some marble run accessories and a sonic screwdriver (which actually came from a cohort friend who had gotten it in a box she won at comic con. She knew the kids were into Dr. Who, so passed it on just in time for Mal's birthday. He was also very excited about some new books, Nightmare Before Christmas, and a camera.

I made him wait until the next day to put together his gift from his teacher. He sat there watching the hexbug climb through the tunnels for a good half hour the next morning.

Although he was very excited about being five, he's actually in an anti-growing-up stage at the moment. He often insists that he isn't growing up. And the other day the doctor mentioned that his feet were huge (they have always been long and skinny, which both the doctor and I commented on) and that he was going to be a giant. He spent the rest of the day periodically checking in, asking, "Am I not going to turn into a giant?". When we ask if he's our baby-babes, he'll still usually say yes.

He's still as stubborn/determined as ever, which makes me a tad anxious about Kindergarten next year. Only recently has he begun recognizing several letters; I think he can write three of them. He's not putting sounds to them yet, that I know of anyway. He can, however, recite the entire opening sequence of Star Trek: The Next Generation and pair soundtracks with movie titles within a bar or two, or recognize what yogurt his babysitter bought two years ago - he's got an amazing memory. But he only seems to remember what he chooses to, and if he's not interested in doing/learning something, it's incredibly difficult to get him to do it. School might be a very interesting journey with Mal.

He likes to "joke" right now. Often he'll come up and tell you something ridiculous or pretend he broke something and then say, "I'm just joking!". He's not biking yet - we need to get him out on the balance bike more. He's such a cautious kid that getting him on a pedal bike could take a while, despite his love for them. He's also playing with his imagination a lot more recently (which probably goes along with the joking phase), so it's fun to hear what he comes up with. I'm looking forward to seeing how he grows over this next year.

Thursday, March 16, 2017


This has been a very unusual winter. The kids got a snow day a few days into February, which we now have to make up at the end of the year because apparently we stupidly assigned our single snow day to a specific date - February 1st. Gareth made several snowpeople while Mal enjoyed throwing large balls of snow at the tree.

We actually had even more snow early on the 27th of February. It came down in big flakes really fast, but it happened so close to the start of school that school was not cancelled, which was a huge disappointment to Gareth. Ryan and Mal stayed home because trying to go down our hill in the snow isn't something we're too keen on. Probably would've been fine, but things get slick quickly and we prefer not to risk it. Between all the snow and still being in the upper 30s/low 40s into March, it's been a very odd winter indeed.

One day Gareth had his 3rd Grade yearbook pulled out, so Ryan went and found his from the same grade. We compared the signatures in their books, and while Gareth had many from his classmates, I lovingly pointed out to Ryan that most of his few were from teachers. And we had a good laugh about his 2nd place Tug of War ribbon.

I had one particularly rough day at school but Mal wanted to make molecules when we got home and that helped work off some of my frustration. He specifically requested the molecule that looks like a dog (propane) and was very excited about the oxygen molecule I made him. And then he curled up in my lap and told me he was a kitty. 

It's also been a horrible year for illness. Mal got sent home from preschool last week for a fever. We thought it went away, but then it maybe came back, then he seemed fine, then over this past weekend it came back again. Horrible timing, but it worked out pretty well because I've been able to be home most of the week and that means Ryan hasn't had to stay home from work for it too much. I took him to the doctor and his exam didn't indicate anything scary, so they figured that he was just taking particularly long to get over norovirus or some other bug going around. He's been home all week now, but has finally been fever-free today, so he'll head back to school tomorrow. Wednesday, Gareth woke up with pink eye, so he's been home the past couple days as well. Luckily we still had drops left from their bouts of pink eye back in the fall. I'm really hoping all the illness stops as we get into spring. They are never sick this much and it's really not helping Ryan's work or my schooling to constantly have one or the other ill. Mostly Ryan's work since he gets stuck having to stay home so I can go to classes still.

I'm a few edits to a paper away from closing out the quarter. It's been much more difficult than the previous quarter, but I've learned a lot. And I'm excited for next quarter, when we get to start having more application-oriented classes. I'm also excited to get going on my capstone project, which is going to be on tube feeding. It's going to be a huge project, so can be a little daunting to think about at times, but it should prove incredibly useful and help a lot of patients, so I'm excited about that. I'm also going to learn a ton, so that's good as well. I have one meeting for that over the break and I'm getting going on my literature review. I've read a ridiculous amount of papers in the past couple weeks, but reading bunches of papers is always easier when it's a topic you're excited about!

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Busy Quarter

Things are moving along in our lives. This quarter is definitely more intense than last quarter, which means posts will be even fewer and further between than they were in the fall. Ryan goes to work and then comes home and does most of the work around the house. Gareth has assigned chores for each day, so that helps a bit. I have fewer classes this quarter, but more credit hours. And a lot more papers/projects with much longer page requirements. I definitely made a good choice in not applying for a TA position. I don't know how I would have handled that on top of classes and everything else. They just posted the TA opportunities for next quarter and, quite frankly, I don't even have time to think about if I could manage it next quarter, which means I probably won't apply because applications are due next week, just as we're hitting midterms.

I'm also attempting to decide between a thesis and a capstone. I went to the faculty research forum and came home all excited about the research that's being done and swayed to the thesis side. Then I went to the capstone meeting and came home excited about the project options and swayed to the capstone side. I've met with a couple of researchers who have been very nice and have actually seemed to push the capstone option a lot, which was surprising to me. Due to the time limits of the degree, a thesis would likely be a secondary data analysis, so everyone tells you to think about how much you're enjoying biostats (which we're taking right now) and how comfortable you are working with data sets. That I'm not hating it but just very, very "meh" about it has me leaning toward a capstone, which seems like it will be more directly applicable to where I want to go with my career. But I don't have to decide until the end of the quarter, so it's nice to have time to mull things over.

I'm also taking metabolism (covering lipids this quarter), food safety, and public health nutrition. The professor for public health nutrition is great, but the subject matter is confirming to me that doing the MS instead of the MPH was the right choice. Policy creation is good to understand, but definitely not where I want to be working (especially right now, ugh)!

Mal is officially registered for kindergarten - we got the confirmation email a few days ago. It's a relief to have that item off the to-do list. Hopefully his transition to K will go more smoothly than his transition to the new preschool did. Gareth will likely be done with his first round of braces this summer. I'm just assuming he'll need a round two in a few years. He enjoys telling me that he's not a little kid anymore, but is "almost a teenager" or "almost in middle school", which is just terrifying to think about. He just started kindergarten, how can we possibly be so close to entering middle school?!

I managed to squeeze in a bike ride this past week. Didn't really have time, but decided making time for mental health breaks is good once in a while. School work would take up every second if I let it. We rode much farther than we planned to, which was a bit much for me since I haven't been riding often lately. Went to bed early that night! But it was a beautiful day.

Looking across I-90 to Bellevue

View of Rainier from I-90

Looking across the 520 bridge
You can ride out on the 520 bridge, but they haven't completed the bike/pedestrian lane all the way across yet, so you can't get all the way to Seattle and end up having to turn around and come back. I'm hoping that that actually does get completed at some point. We were planning to ride down and come back, but it was chilly and windy (and would be even windier on the bridge) so decided to save that for another day. Which was good because as it was we rode 45 miles and I was dead by the time we got done. And so, so sore. A year ago this ride wouldn't have been a big deal, but it turns out you actually have to keep practicing skills in order to maintain them. We stopped to warm up at a tea shop, which was an unexpectedly excellent choice. I'm rather sad the shop is in Kirkland instead of near me. They had so many tea options and made me a delicious tea latte with one of them.

And that's where we're at right now. Next post will probably be over spring break, at the end of March.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

End of Break

We spent the last week of break doing more hanging out and relaxing. Got Gareth together with some friends. Went out for our annual winter break breakfast. That kind of thing. I went to see Fences, which was excellent. I'd love to see a stage production of it some day.

Mal enjoyed playing with Gareth's new Dr. Who set. He makes all the appropriate sound effects for the Tardis, which is awesome. Now we've got a couple Tardis sets, which I'm hopeful will help the kids stop fighting over the one we already had (technically both are Gareth's, but Mal adores them). 

We did the puzzle Gareth got for Christmas. It turned out more difficult than I initially expected because there are Marvel characters in the background as well. Gareth helped me sort the pieces and put the edge together and put together all of the Groots, but Ryan and I did most of the work on the puzzle.

Gareth built a "masterpiece" with the magnatiles.

And we made our New Year's gingerbread house. Didn't actually put it together until the last day of break, but the kids didn't seem to care that it was delayed. I learned that trying to make frosting designs on the roof is best done before any candy gets put on.