Best Friends

My brother and I are about 10 years apart. I love him to death, but I don't think he and I experienced the kind of sibling relationship that most of my other friends who had brothers or sisters close in age did. But now, I get to watch it unfold with my own kids, and it's quite the trip.

Now, I was warned about a lot of things before having two kids, but nobody told me about how cool it would be to watch my son and my daughter grow to love each other so much. Nobody told me that watching them play together and react so strongly to one another would sucker punch my heart and make me lose my breath from the intensity of my love for them as a unit. Nobody told me that I would never be able to explain just how incredible it would feel to raise two kids who were so in love with each other.

my kids over a year ago. all about the love.

These two silly kids of mine... They crack each other up like no one else can. They drive each other nuts like no one else can. They support one another. They get into all sorts of trouble together. They are always, always thinking and looking out for the other. In short, they are inseparable. Wherever one goes, the other follows; whatever one does, the other must do as well.

our two monkeys goofing off a few months ago at Five Guys Burger & Fries

It fills my mama heart so much to see my kids growing up together. My husband and I will seriously sit on the couch and do nothing but watch them for 30 minutes straight, in total awe of their relationship. I don't think I've ever witnessed a love like these two have for one another. It's crazy cool. It helps make the really difficult moments of raising two kids (of which, there are M.A.N.Y!) totally completely over the moon worth it. And then some. And then some.

PS - wanna know the freakiest activity these two like to do together all the time? Clean the house. Yep. If I'm picking up around the house, one will grab the Clorox wipes and they both will excitedly start cleaning the tables, chairs, stairs, or one will grab the broom and start sweeping while the other picks up items to put away... I am most definitely NOT going to mess with a good thing and let them continue with this weird behavior for as long as they want! You know, because it obviously brings them closer together. :)


My kid's not shy, he's just not that into you

I'm totally kidding about that headline, but I've always wanted to say it to annoying strangers who get in my kids' faces at the grocery store.

My kids are my greatest teachers, and perhaps the best lesson they have given me is that no person - be it Mother, Father, Teacher - has the ability to control another person's soul. We may be able to help shape ideals, help instill values, but there are personality traits that are just inherent in us from the time we're conceived.

My son is what a lot of people call "shy." It's not a label I agree with, because he's really not. He just knows what he likes and what he doesn't like. During a fabulous hour-long pediatrician's visit for his 5-year visit (love our kids' pediatrician!) she observed him for a while, asked a lot of questions, and noted "he's just that kid in the class who's a little bit smarter than the others. He's smart enough to know better." Now I'm not saying my kid is smarter than other kids (hee hee!), but I do know he's keenly aware, almost hyper-aware, of his surroundings: the noise, the logistics, the possibilities of what could happen. He's always been that way. He observes everything in great detail, makes very quick assessments, and decides. If he decides it's not the situation for him, all bets are off. The doc says most kids grow out of this, and eventually play into what we adults expect as normal social kid behavior, and we just need to understand that he just may not be the lead in the school play.

When people who know (very loud, extroverted) me observe my "shy" son, they often say (and I've heard this a LOT): "How did YOU get a shy kid? Is Dad shy?" No, actually. I was. When I look at my son, I see myself at exactly 5 years old, wearing this ridiculous peach pouffy hideous dress ...thing... that was my mom's favorite, hiding in the bedroom during one of my parent's many gatherings. We always had tons of people over at our house when I was growing up. I remember very clearly this one party, where my mom came into the room and begged me to come outside and say hello to everyone. I really didn't want to. I cried. A lot. I remember the moment - and the feelings I had- clearly. I wasn't necessarily a shy kid, I just knew I did not want to be in that room with those specific people at that moment. I went out on my own eventually. Which is how I've always been, and still am to some extent this day.

My son is not quiet, by any means. He is not at all reserved. He is quite loud, animated, boisterous, imaginative, and extremely high energy. Have I mentioned how LOUD he is? I think it's funny that some people think he's shy. To me, he's anything but shy!

So now I'm the Mama. I'm the one throwing the parties and bringing my kids to this social activity and that. But when my son doesn't want to go to someone's house, as much as it pains me sometimes because it's my friend's house and *I* really want to go socialize, we talk about his reasons for not wanting to go, and if they're reasonable, I say... okay.

There are many, many circumstances where I think I need to be firm with my kids about rules. And certainly we discuss the importance of being polite. But when it comes to circumstances that are not so important in the grand scheme of things? It's not my job to push my kids into doing things that make them totally uncomfortable; what kind of message does that send? I definitely work with them to go outside of their comfort zones, but not to the point of making them miserable. I am working on just letting them be themselves. It's not always easy. My friends don't always understand, especially if their kids are different, and especially if my friends have totally different parenting values (many of them do). For me, it's just another step in the process of learning to let go, and let them grow.


Magical Adventure, Part Two: The Sistahs

Hi. My name is Marlynn, and I am in a sorority.

It's true. Most of my life I've replied to the question of whether or not I joined a sorority with "Noooo, I'm part of a sisterhood!" or "It's really more of a supportive community than a sorority" or "whatchyou talkin' about Willis?" (actually, I just like to answer every question with that question when I can). If you would have told me in high school that I would someday be part of a sorority, I would have probably told you to go f*ck yourself. No way! I saw sororities as groups of sheep, people who liked to follow, they were blonde and blue-eyed and did stupid shit like have high teas. Well, my sorority experience was certainly different - very different - from the sorority stories I would hear from friends at other colleges. When I met the women of Sigma Pi Theta at Emerson College, I didn't see a group of followers, I saw a diverse group of extremely strong women who were all leaders in their own way. To this small town fish out of water, I think they initially scared the shit out of me. But I couldn't have had a better welcoming committee to not only help introduce me to the college, but to the possibilities of my life.

When I went to college, I had never been to the East Coast, never visited the college, didn't know a soul in Boston, and was a general wreck with a lot of emotional baggage. It's true: you can't fully give love unless you learn to love yourself exactly as you are and learn to support and trust others despite your differences. That is the gift that my Sigma sisters gave me: the gift of self-awareness, self-acceptance, and eventually, self-love.

No matter where I've been since joining Sigma, no matter what I've done, it is their unconditional, unending support during those college years and beyond that helps carry me through my darkest days and helps widen my smile on my most exciting life highs. We do not all see eye-to-eye, but at the end of the day, I know that we are all here for each other 100 percent. I do not exaggerate when I say I would do almost anything for my sisters, and I know in my heart that they would do anything for me.

So last weekend was like coming home for me. Not only to the place where I finally became ME, but to be with the women who helped me understand myself so that I could have the strength to be myself, life scars and all.

Look at this picture: these women are accomplished lawyers, executive tv producers, actresses, nonprofit leaders, supermoms, journalists, event producers, cancer survivors, ad execs...but more importantly than those titles, they are supportive, genuine, generous, kind, compassionate, trustworthy and loving. These women will always have my heart. They will always have my sisterhood, trust, and love. I wish for every woman in the world to have the kind of support & strength I know I have in these women. It has made such a difference in all that I do. Thanks, sistahs ;-)

photo posted originally by the amazing Vicki Ceasar Rule but I think it was taken by cute waiter #2 (the one who somehow convinced me that I *needed* the larger, more expensive glass of wine)


Magical Adventure, Part One

I write this on the last leg of a journey that I didn’t know I would be embarking upon even 72 hours ago. A wild, spontaneous trip down memory lane. A gift to my soul. A weekend that perhaps will be one of the best in my entire life, for so many reasons.

It began Thursday round 7 am. I checked my phone, twitter stream and facebook updates. There they were: updates from girlfriends near and far all packing, reminiscing, giddy with excitement for our sorority’s 30th anniversary reunion in Boston (and no I’m not a rah-rah typical sorority girl but I am part of an incredible sisterhood – more on that in a different post). I wasn’t planning on going. I couldn’t afford to. I had no idea until a few days prior whether my weekend would require work or not. It didn’t. My sisters’ voices came through. Their words fed into my gut, and my gut was telling me that I needed to go to Boston. I always listen to my gut.


As the mother of two young children, owner of two businesses, and slave to a million different commitments at any given time, going with the flow is my life. I didn’t think twice about setting the wheels in motion. This felt right. I had to go. I just needed to get the all clear from the man I loved, who has always supported me and my kooky ideas and crazy adventures. But even this was crazier than anything I had ever done before. Would he go for it? At 7:23 I called my husband and asked him if it would be too crazy for me to fly to Boston, like, TOMORROW for the weekend. Would he be ok with that? Without hesitation, my sweet, supportive husband said yes, go. Then I texted my friend K in Portland, who is also a sister and an adventurous spirit. I needed a partner in crime. I went about my morning getting the kids ready for school, getting myself ready for work, waiting to hear back from K. After I got into work around 9:30 am I got an email from K. And then another one. She was in. I was shocked and ecstatic. The chase was on to find a cheap flight/hotel deal at the last minute.


For the next 5 hours, K and I exchanged emails and phone calls in between work, my spending time with my son (who went to work with me that day instead of school – that’s another story), and scavenging the internet for travel deals. At 3:05pm, as I was headed with my son to pick up my daughter from school, I secured a deal. It took forever, and I am pretty sure I racked up more late charges from picking up my daughter late from preschool. Our flight was a red-eye, set to take off from Portland at 11:15pm THAT. VERY. NIGHT. Oh shit. We got a super sweet deal for flights and a hotel room. I got on the phone to now find a babysitter for the kids for Friday. As luck would have it, my dad was taking the next day off. He agreed to watch the kids the whole day. A miracle.


I drove back home with both kids, fed them their usual snacks, and called my pal Susy. I knew it was a total long shot, but could she fit me in for a haircut today? 4:30? Sure! Another miracle. Now keep in mind I have both kids with me… my kids are absolutely crazy wild together in public places, so I knew I was taking a huge chance in asking them to sit and play in one area while I sat in a chair and got a haircut. But I finished up snack time with them, stuffed my son’s backpack full of toys, changed my daughter’s diaper, stuffed my purse with bags of snacks and off we went. We got there 5 minutes late, but I got my haircut. AND, my kids were ANGELS. Absolute wonder kids who listened to me, played nicely, and my daughter even sat in ONE SPOT for a few minutes, contentedly. It was like magic!


A freak huge storm brewed out of the blue skies while we were at the salon, so I had to grab both of my kids (who were dressed for the sunny weather) and run to the car in the pouring rain. We were all laughing so much from racing to the car in pouring rain, in our tank tops and shorts. We battled traffic on the way home, and I listened to news reports of possible flight delays that night due to the storm. Oh hell no! I don’t think so! I just spent my whole day and bought nonrefundable tickets so we were going to go on this trip!

Hubby and I got home around the same time, and I started getting the kids’ food prepped for the night and for the next day. Then I packed/threw whatever clothes I knew fit me into my bag, wrote my usual notes to my husband and the kids that I leave for them before I go on a trip, spent about 15 minutes yelling at Travelocity on the phone about an error they made that they weren’t taking accountability for, and then it was time to go pick up K.


We made our flight. Somehow we were upgraded to exit row seats and had glorious legroom. More magic! We flew into Chicago for the most beautiful sunrise, with the city lights still twinkling against a bright pink and violet sky. We flew into Logan airport, rode the T like we’ve never left, and emerged from the T station at Copley place with this incredible sense of coming home. It had been 13 years since I had stepped foot in Boston, and it gave me a huge welcome home hug that made me want to cry.

The rest of the weekend has been an amazing whirlwind that I will write about in another post, because the significance of what this weekend means to me, the person I’ve become, the life I now choose to lead, needs to be written. But right now, I am sitting on a plane, having had 2 hours of sleep, a magical weekend worth of memories dancing in my tired brain, feeling so alive, so thankful, so blessed . I can’t believe my pal K agreed to come along with me on this last-minute madcap adventure. I can’t believe my amazing husband was so supportive of this trip. I can’t believe we were all able to pull off organizing a weekend’s worth of planning in just a few hours. I can’t believe…as a busy mamapreneur with a crazy wacked out schedule…I can’t believe I was able to pull it off, and now I’m coming home again, having been with my sisters, and can’t wait to snuggle my babies!!


The Pelican Beach

If you don't live near a coastline, you might want to stop reading, because after this post, you're going to SO be wishing you lived near a beach, you just might try to convince your loved ones to make a move :) At least, that's my goal.

My little family likes to go to the beach. A lot. Did I say "like?" I meant LOVE. We try to go at least once a month, and often will go twice a month during the summer months. One of the many benefits of living in Portland, Oregon is that we can hit the coast and smell that Pacific Ocean air in a little over an hour. We've determined we can't live more than a couple of hours away from an ocean, and I honestly don't know how some folks do live so far away from an ocean all their lives (really: how do you??).

We frequent many different beaches, all between 1 and 3 hours away from home, but my son's favorite is Pacific City, or what he calls "The Pelican beach" mainly because of this:

The Pelican Pub & Brewery has changed a LOT since I was young, but so too has Pacific City (for better or worse). Some think it's gotten too built up; food is quite expensive, I must say, at the Pelican Pub & Brewery. Some think it hasn't been "commercialized" enough: no real room service (read: no breakfast in bed that includes eggs, bacon, pancakes, etc nor dinner or late night snacks) in their main hotel, the Inn at Cape Kiwanda.

But what you do get is this:

A beautiful huge cliff that rises above the beach.
And this:

the most amazing view of the Pacific Ocean, a big huge crazy rock, blue skies with fast moving artsy clouds, and sand that isn't as peppered with broken branches and random debris as some other Oregon beaches are.

If you do go, we love the Inn at Cape Kiwanda, even without the benefit of full room service (sniff sniff - perhaps a future addition to the hotel amenities? hmm???!). The hotel is a short walk from the beach and the Pelican Pub & Brewery. The staff is honestly one of the best I have ever encountered. They are attentive, have a policy of responding to your needs/requests with immediate, kind attention, and they're honestly just so, so nice. Friday and Saturday evenings they have a wine tasting in the lobby with nice Oregon wines, where you get to meet some of the other guests, who are seriously usually as nice as the staff. The rooms are spacious enough for our wild little family of four, they have pet-friendly room options, and the prices are reasonable compared to other Oregon beach hotels. Check it out.

Plus, all rooms face the ocean, so this would be your view:

Not a bad view at all :)


It was good while it lasted

Taking vacation when you run 2 businesses is never an easy task. I was supposed to be on vacation from last Wednesday May 27th through tomorrow, June 1st. Well, new clients came in (hooray for new clients! but why is the timing always off?), requiring me to work all day & night last Wednesday after a 14-hour work day on Tuesday. Then Thursday my husband stayed home sick and my son stayed home for what was supposed to be a special birthday fun day. And then today, on what should be my day of solitude and peace, I've been battling my bank on business banking issues that really should have been resolved at least a year ago (grrr banks), making necessary appointments for my kids (that were supposed to be made last week), and dealing with technology issues (like none of my software works and I can't reply to any emails. it's great fun! grr...).

So in the end, what I really had instead of a nice, relaxing 5-day vacation, was 2.5 days at the beach with my family, which, as you know, can sometimes not be so relaxing but heck, I'll take it! I enjoyed at least one full day of Vacation, with a capital V. It was awesome. LOVED it. And I wish it didn't seem so long ago already...

At least, I made an attempt to take a vacation, and at least, I was able to spend the weekend with my family doing things other than our usual weekend housework and errands. And now, back to the grind...