All posts by beckerina

Dear Otis- 6 Years!

Dear Otis-

I feel like at the ripe old age of 6, we are already getting a glimpse into who you’ll be when you grow up. You are showing all the signs of being a very compassionate, empathetic friend to all who has many hobbies and a minor hoarding obsession. In all seriousness, I am loving watching you mature.

This year you dove into kindergarten. You absolutely loved school- from trading Pokémon cards on the bus, to PE and dance class, to swinging at recess, and all the classroom learning- you were a huge fan! We lucked out with a great group of neighborhood kids and families. Our bus stop gang and after school play dates were highlights of the week.

The switch to remote learning and full on quarantine had its challenges, but the homebody in you was secretly pleased. You somehow never get sick of our house and yard. Even after barely leaving for all these months, you claim you are never moving out. Just this past week you told grandma that you weren’t going to college because that would mean leaving mom, dad, and Lucy.

Physically you’ve become so much more confident and adventurous this year. You pump on the swings endlessly, climb huge granite rocks, and are super proud of your swimming skills. After months of lessons you are now limited to our hot(ish) tub and our creek. Can’t wait to get you to a pool or lake and see what you can do!! It also appears that kayaking may be your sport of choice. You had no problem steering and paddling solo in Lake Tahoe.

And mentally you completely blow us away. You love math. We play the bean bag toss and I’ll say “I had 50 and just got 20. How many . .” and before I can finish the question you’ll be like “70. Easy!” And your reading is the highlight of my day. I rush home from work and head straight to your bedroom so you can read me a book before bed. You are a great storyteller. You do voices and everything. My favorite is when you read a book about a parrot. Your parrot voice cracks me up. The coolest thing is that you are really proud of your academic accomplishments. You’ll say “mom, I didn’t even have to sound out a single word in that sentence!”

Socially you are here, there, and everywhere. You can ham and clown it up with the best of them. The goofball is strong in you.

You also feel things very deeply. At times this challenges your mom, like when you mourn the loss of a missing Pokémon card with the full 5 stages of grief. Most times, though, it is incredibly heartwarming like when you take care of your sister or want to bring a present to a sick friend. When Lucy got hurt and we thought we might need to go to the ER, you were nearly hyperventilating with worry for her. You were beside yourself with pride when you saw a video of your cousin swimming on his own. And you were intensely angry when you learned someone had insulted your teachers. You care about those you love and support them and stand up for them and that’s a quality in you that makes me so proud.

You are quite the hobbyist and when a new pastime enters your life, you go all in. Pokémon cards can be sorted, re-sorted and read for hours. And oh the rocks! They are everywhere and you and your dad love them. Thunder eggs, geodes, agate, tiger eye, amethyst . . . you find them, buy them, tumble them, crack them, polish them. You guys are even building your own rock buffer from scratch. This shouldn’t surprise me as you two are also working on a stop motion animation film with clay and needle felt figurines. Dad and Otis garage time is no joke!

You have become pretty helpful- carrying groceries in from the car, feeding the dog, pulling weeds. You will even make yourself a quesadilla all on your own. You like to brag about how you can handle spicy food. You like a little jalapeño in your salsa.

For your birthday you wanted a charcuterie platter and a metal detector. Done and done! In place of a party, we hosted 2 backyard bday play dates with those in our bubble. You made goody bags of exotic rocks for them that they had to find in a treasure box. You even got to have grandma and grandpa here for your 6th birthday. You declared it the best birthday ever and thanked dad and I for planning it.

Your dad and I still have a lot to teach you, but I am also finding that you teach me a lot. Today we had a COVID style drive by the elementary school to meet your 1st grade teacher. The two minute interaction we got to have with her (she’s great) left me a bit melancholy, but as we drove out of the parking lot you said, with enthusiasm, “well that was pretty awesome.” Wow! Your positivity is a daily inspiration. Love you lots Otis Taco!

Love, Mom

Dear Lucy- 3 Years

If I were to try to describe you in a nutshell I’d have to go with snuggly, feisty, smarty pants. I was re-reading your old bday posts and I discovered that at age 1 Dad described you as a happy lightning bolt. I’d say you are sticking with that.

You have a pretty awesome mix of nobody’s gonna mess with me and I’m gonna be the best caregiver of all time.

You definitely know how to pack a punch. You had a pretty epic biting phase at daycare that we are glad is finally over. You like to tell dad he’s stinky. And poor Keegan will never be forgiven for calling your dress a shirt. For the record, it was a shirt. You went through a dresses only phase so I would just tell you that a long shirt was a dress so I didn’t have to find a clean dress. Well sweet Keegan said “I like your shirt Lucy” one day and you took it as a personal assault to your “dress.” You are still holding a grudge half a year later.

When we made the 10 hour drive from Petaluma to Vancouver last June you were adamant that there could be no music in the car. Since I choose not to negotiate with terrorists I insisted there would be music and for every waking moment in that car you complained about my choices. Currently you insist that you will only listen to female vocalists. You also often insist that you can’t help clean up because you will get hot. When you get mad you do what we call accordion hands where you pump them in and out really fast. The stubborn streak runs strong in you my dear.

However that stubborn streak fuels you well. It feeds your daring, your independence, and your confidence and you have those qualities in spades. You climb, leap, and run with abandon (falling often but who’s counting) and will take 20 minutes to tell a story to anyone who will listen with complete confidence that your tale is riveting. Your long winded stories are a favorite around here. You are also completely content to play by yourself.

Your independence and confidence was evident in your gymnastics this year. You and I took a mommy and me gymnastics class and before you were 2.5 they suggested you move up to the 3 year old class where the parents stay outside the gym. I thought you might be reluctant the first day, but you ran into the gym and never looked back. You LOVE “nastics” and it’s the thing you mourn most during this pandemic.

On the other side of feisty, sassy Lucy is snuggly, lovey Lucy. You are seriously the best hugger I have ever come in contact with. You like to give squeezy hugs and heaven help me if I don’t hug you back with two arms. You will grab my arm and put it where you’d like it to be. You are so emotive. You tell us you love us multiple times a day. You say “Otis I love your art work!” And the typing here does not do you justice because the way you says these things is way too heartfelt and animated to be captured in text. Your biggest heartbreak is when we ask not to be hugged in that moment.

You are also a caregiver. You ensure that Ally has all her toys and blankets around her at all times and are always taking care of your puppy stuffed animals. You have zero interest in dolls, but your puppies get stroller rides, bedtime stories, and snuggles galore. You sleep with quite the menagerie.

Besides pups, some of your favorite things are soup, anything purple, slumber parties with Otis, Micky Mouse Clubhouse, and Penelope (your best day care bud). You love anything water related- baths last until I pull the plug and you’ll play with your water table for an hour. You also LOVE jokes. You and dad have a few inside jokes that get you in hysterics. One involves you pretending to talk while he says “what? I can’t hear you!” Another involves you swinging on the swing set and knocking him over with your legs (he is quite the stunt man).

You love learning. In the times of COVID, Otis’ school is on an iPad and you insist you get iPad school too. You love PBS kids games! You also love to play school in the bathtub. You know your shapes and colors, and can write “L,” “t,” and “o.” You also count to 20. Oh and did I mention that you only speak in complete sentences sprinkled with fancy vocab?! “Mama your nails look glorious.” “Yum, this milk is so refreshing.” “Somebody definitely needs to cut my nails.”

My sweet Lu, our Goose, this year we watched you morph from baby to big girl. No more crib, high chair, stroller, or diapers. You like to soap yourself, dress yourself, and put on your own shoes. You would love to jump right on that school bus with Otis because you are so ready for life and all of its potential. You are a go getter at age 3. Happy Birthday to our happy, snuggly, sassy, smart lightning bolt! We love you!

Love, Mom

P.S. we may have gone overboard on your bday. Since the virus meant no party you got a bounce house and a princess tent.

Home Sweet (stuck at) Home

As we complete our second month of never leaving our house, it dawns on me that I never took the time to write about our new house. I did a Farewell Petaluma post, but never got around to a Hello Washington post. So today I will take you on a tour of our newish home while I share our trials and triumphs in the age of COVID 19. I will attempt humor and realism without a rose colored glasses treatment.

As soon as we made the decision to move to Vancouver, WA, Brad and I started trolling real estate apps for our new house. The home we eventually bought stole our heart the first time we saw it only to go sale pending immediately. As luck would have it (for us), that sale fell through and the house was back on the market 2 days before our house hunting trip. After seeing it we told our realtor we were done looking and went straight to his office to craft our offer (one that required us to gamble with earnest money since our Petaluma house had yet to have any nibbles). Fast forward through much stress and worry (even through we had two amazing realtors) to us hitting the road one Friday morning to drive from old house to new house. In Ukiah Friday afternoon we got the call that our CA home had closed and money was on route to WA. In Eugene Friday night we got the call that the WA house was ours. And Saturday morning we moved in. Talk about crazy!

Now that we are “trapped” in this house, I am so thankful we found it and fought for it because it is making our stay-at-home life as good as it can get.

Now I promised no rose colored glasses and I meant it. The ups and downs the last two months have been intense. Brad, after many failed tests, has learned just how many pillows it takes to buy yourself some personal space on our couch.

And today I yelled, yes yelled, “THIS IS SO HARD!!!” as I tried to finish one work email with Lucy on my lap while simultaneously helping Otis with his math assignment.

Because let’s face it, while many are feeling alone right now, families with young kids and pets are mourning the lack of solitude.

We love you, but we miss personal space.

In the absence of school, we are aiming to teach our kids life lessons. Yesterday’s lesson brought to you by Brad “when people are moaning on the floor, you are not supposed to touch them.” Not to worry, this is not a sexual reference, merely an allusion to an after dinner ritual that we recently began. It entails dirty dishes sitting on the table and throughout the kitchen while the adults lie on the floor avoiding responsibility. Sadly this usually ends with a dog licking our face or a child jumping on us, and in the end, we have to rally and face the dishes and bedtime routine to come.

Perhaps slightly more valuable lessons learned are that Otis now knows how to cut his own meat and make his own quesadilla and Lucy has learned that if you wake up before it is light out, you are supposed to read your books and not wake up your mom yet.

I’d be lying if I said I was not enjoying this quality time with my family. My usual schedule involves me getting home at 9pm four nights out of the week. So family dinners and bedtime stories have not been taken for granted. I like that Otis and I are into chapter books together and there have been a plethora of awesome family memories made.

However, I did promise humor so I’ll let the pictures illustrate the good times and move on to some noteworthy quotes of late.

“Mom can I have another snack since you ate my first snack?” -Lucy

“Mom look what my penis does when I jump up and down!” -Otis

“Mom is not currently available.” -Mom said while hiding in the bathroom.

We have learned a lot of things during this crazy time. We know that the Tooth Fairy operates an essential business as she has paid us two visits during quarantine.

We have learned that Becky can give haircuts (kind of). Here are the before and after shots.

We have learned what’s truly important to us in life. When Brad asked us all what we miss the most:

Otis- charcuterie platters and play dates.

Lucy- ‘nastics (short for gymnastics). When she and Otis found dandelions to make wishes on he wished the virus had never happened and she wished the “birus” wasn’t at Otis’ school and her ‘nastics.

Becky- eating lunch alone, separation of work and family.

Brad- going to the bathroom without an audience and making music with others.

We also now know that insane levels of multi tasking actually diminish brain function.

To illustrate this last tidbit of knowledge . . . a story . . .

I want to start by acknowledging that we are among the lucky ones. Brad and I are still gainfully employed and are incredibly thankful that financial stress is not an issue for us. We do not take this for granted by any means. However, that does not mean I will refrain from kvetching about the difficulties of two parents working full-time with a 2 and 5 year old underfoot. A typical day:

6am the children wake us up and ask for breakfast #1

Here is our lovely kitchen/entryway/my current office/ballet studio

7am Brad starts work. This past fall we converted a tool shed into a detached office for him. We didn’t even know how brilliant that idea would turn out to be.

Before:

After:

7:30am I respond to requests about breakfast #2 and then try to have some couch time with a second cup of coffee to ease into the day.

8:00am Get wiggles out in the backyard. Sorry neighbors, we need some noisy time.

8:30 I assist Otis while he does his reading/writing assignment of the day on his iPad (issued to him by his school), followed by listening to him read the book of the week. Lucy is largely ignored during this time. #honest. Lucy requests to do school as well which she insists is done on an ipad (enter pbs kids games app).

9:00am breakfast #3 is requested and delivered so that Mom can shower.

10:00am-12:00pm Becky teaches ballet virtually while Brad monitors the crazies. Should Brad need to get work done (which is always the case since he works to create online courses which are oddly popular right now) screen time ensues. Brad moves in from his detached office to the guest room where he attempts to exercise on the treadmill while working while child wrangling. When fighting begins over which show to watch starts, one of two courses of action are taken. 1) children are made to compromise or take turns. 2) one child is set up in front of the TV while the other is given the Nintendo or iPad. Which option is chosen is based entirely on parental sanity and whether the reservoir of patience exists or has run dry (note: this reservoir currently requires constant refilling and occasionally we find that everywhere is out of stock on patience and we must carry on without it).

Should Brad have a meeting at the same time as Becky teaches, children are left to their own devices and one parent may be called to leave work should a scream of a certain decibel be heard. Today was one of those days. Lucy’s emergency was extreme hunger (she’d gone like 45 minutes without sustenance) so she got to make an appearance on Mom’s livestream (which have moved out of the kitchen and into the bedroom to keep things fresh).

12:00pm Lunch (usually Brad cooking while Becky scrambles to get some desk work done)

12:30pm wiggle session part 2.

Sometimes we head to the front yard for a change of scenery.

Sometimes it gets weird 😂

1:00pm Lucy naps while Mom and Otis work on math and writing.

2:00pm Mom forces Otis to play by himself while she gets work done. Otis usually coerces Dad to play with him instead.

3:00pm craftiness ensues. Thank goodness for cardboard and imagination.

4:00-6:00pm Mom teaches again or gets work done while dad takes the parenting reins and tries to tie up the loose ends of his work day.

6:30pm Family dinner. One upside to this wild time is we no longer have to feel guilty about all the takeout and delivery we order. Now we can just feel proud as we support local businesses.

7:00pm puzzle time or perhaps a volcano walk from our backyard, but more often than not laps in the backyard to make sure bedtime won’t be the straw that breaks the parents’ backs.

8:00pm bedtime ritual begins

8:30pm Adults must decide whether to continue working or collapse exhausted on the couch. Note adult beverages are permitted for either option. Again this decision is made with regards to long-term preservation of sanity.

Now this timeline began with me saying that we’ve learned that insane levels of multi-tasking (i.e. full-time jobs and full-time parenting) leads to diminished brain function. Enter the tomato story. One night half a tomato was eaten with dinner. The next morning Brad opened the drawer where we keep our foil, parchment paper, etc. and said “why is there half a tomato in here?” After 5 minutes straight of laughing until we cried, the misplaced tomato incident got even funnier. . . we discovered we had no idea which of us had done that. You see both of us assumed that our mental state could have easily lead us to putting that tomato in the drawer. The cylinders are clearly sputtering!

All I can say is thank goodness there are two of us at the helm right now because we often need to tag out. Brad and I have gotten fairly adept at taking turns when it comes to melting down.

I am so thankful that we can walk out our back gate and stroll for 5 minutes to Salmon Creek. This little “beach” has become my destination of choice when I need to unplug and breath. Again, thank you universe for leading us to this house.

I am also thankful that Brad never runs out of ideas for projects. They’ve created a nerf shooting range.

Made a CGI short.

They are polishing up rocks galore.

And are painting miniatures, molding clay figurines, and creating landscapes for an animation they have planned.

Last thankful thing I’ll mention is for this incredible community. We are having a chalk conversation with neighbors we’ve never met.

We’ve got 4 elementary school kids on the block that leave each other notes and gifts. Otis has a kindergarten teacher that lets the kids connect and talk about their emotions on zoom and patiently councils parents with way too many questions 🙋🏼‍♀️.

And I am thankful for the community of ballet students I get the privilege of working with.  They keep me sane as, together, we channel the emotions we are experiencing through our art.

If I had to pick the one thing I am struggling most with (a hard choice as there are many), I’d say it is managing my own expectations.  The first week that school “started back up” Otis was frustrated having me as his teacher.  That night at bedtime I told him I was sorry I was not as good a teacher as Mrs. McLaughlin and that I was going to try my very best to learn to be better.  He looked at me and said with all seriousness, “Mom- you are medium good.”  And that has become a mantra for me.  I need to be satisfied with medium good in all areas of my life right now.  I know this.  I understand this.  But being okay with being medium good is a daily struggle.

It’s a good thing I have an incredible husband and two contagiously happy kids who think that “math bath” is the coolest thing ever.  They keep me loving life and loving myself during this wild time.

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And now I’d like to offer up cheers to anyone reading this.  I miss you!  I am off to ignore work for the evening and enjoy the peace of our deck.

Followed by a soak in my happy place.

May we all embrace our medium good-ness and find the courage to just let some things be.

What a Weekend!

To use a favorite Otis phrase- this weekend was “literally epic!”

On Friday afternoon we hit the road for the 3.5 hour drive to Kennewick, WA. We arrived at our best friends’ house around 8:30pm. Otis and Eli took to the basement to concoct LEGO masterpieces. Amelia and Lucy immediately donned princess dresses and began tending to their menagerie of stuffed animals. The parents capitalized on this rare gift of demand-less, squabble-free time and enjoyed some wine and beer and catching up. We let the kids stay up way past their bedtime in the name of Slumber Party!

On Saturday morning I left Brad and the kids with Jodi and family and headed off to meet up with 4 of my students at Mid-Columbia Ballet in Richland. You see, after years of dreaming of starting a dance class for kids with special needs, I was finally beginning my training. We attended a training with the incredible Rebecca Rogo, founder of INCLUDE (Inspiring, with no Challenges or Limitations, the Universality of Dance Experiences).

What an inspiring day! We watched 11 children with special needs interact, follow directions, stand on one leg, create, and dance, dance, dance. So many smiles! I am so incredibly excited to bring this program to the community of Vancouver. One of the aspects that is truly genius in this program is it’s use of Dance Partners. High school students from the ballet program dance alongside children with disabilities such as autism, Down syndrome, and cerebral palsy. The obvious benefit of this is the ratio of instructors/assistants to students. Many of the students have their own Dance Partner and at the most there are 2 students per Dance Partner. But the true impact extends far beyond the impact on the INCLUDE students. Through their use of dozens of Dance Partners a year as well as the creation of their sensory friendly performances, the INCLUDE program demystifies disability. It is easy to be afraid or wary of things we haven’t been exposed to. By bringing the special needs community into their school, Mid-Columbia Ballet is educating so many people and creating friends, advocates and champions for those with special needs.

Stay tuned for the launch of INCLUDE at Columbia Dance!

After our training finished I grabbed the family and we hit the road to Spokane. You see, the second leg of our trip also had a purpose. It was time for the Moore family to rescue a new dog!

Our rescue beagle Lani passed away 2 years ago. As some of you may recall, Lani was found in West Virginia, abandoned with her new litter of pups. She was starving and even in foster care they couldn’t fatten her up because with her litter in the house she wouldn’t stop producing milk. Brad and I took this terrified beagle with sad eyes in as a foster pup and adopted her soon after. Over the next 10 years she moved cross country and became a big sister to our two human babies.

Well our family has missed having a dog these past few years, Miss Lu in particular. So after Christmas we began searching for our next four-legged family member. We quickly learned that finding a rescue dog suitable for a rambunctious home with a 2 and 5 year old was going to prove quite tricky. Most of the rescues we read about needed quite homes without little ones. So I reached out to an old friend of mine. For 11 years I saw Phillip twice a year when he be would travel to Marin to fit my students in their pointe shoes. I knew, from Facebook, that in his retirement he was volunteering at the Spokane Humane Society so I figured I’d ask him to be on the lookout for a rescue that would thrive in our chaotic house.

As luck would have it, his good friend Stephanie was fostering a mama dog named Ally and her 11 puppies for Must Luv Boxer Rescue. Phillip connected us and we got our application in right away. The pups are called the Preschool of Rock.

Hendrix, Benatar, Joplin, Ozzy, Bono, Tina Turner, Freddie Mercury, Joan Jett, Sting, Stevie Nicks, and Bowie are pretty much the cutest pups and they were being raised by a lady who owns a dog training business. Ideal!!! So I starting tuning in to the weekly live feed on the pups and as cute as they were, Brad and I were once again drawn to the mama. Stephanie put mama Ally around kiddos and reported back that she did great and that she thought she’d be an excellent family dog. And so that is who we headed out to adopt this past weekend. We stayed with Phillip and Sally Saturday night and then headed out Sunday morning to collect our new family member and head out on the 6 hour trek home.

The kids adored her immediately. She was a trooper on the 6 hour drive home and she slept seamlessly in our house the first night. Our Ally Zeppelin Moore is a keeper!

So yes it was quite a weekend! Excited to start these new chapters!

Dear Otis- 5 years!

Dear Otis-

You are finally 5 years old. Your dad and I were saying that it seems like you’ve been 5 for months, but perhaps that’s just because you begin planning your bday parties 6 months in advance. I think it’s also partially because you are an old soul.

Your attention span often surpasses adults. You can study your Pokémon cards for hours, complete a lego masterpiece in one sitting, and you are even starting to tackle Nintendo.

You are also Lucy’s third parent. Often this is wonderful as we hear you saying “Lucy what color is that? Purple? You are right! Good job.” You quiz her about her day and teach her so so much. At times you veer towards the realm of enabler, catering to her every need. We are trying to help you say no to her, because Princess Lucy does not need to be calling the shots around here. You two have plenty of bickering moments. We even got you a locking cabinet for your birthday to keep her from getting to your prized possessions and unleashing the wrath of Otis. However, more often than not she’s your favorite playmate and you adore her.

You have your official first day of Kindergarten in 3 days, but you got to do a full week of kindergarten half days in preparation and you did great. Nerves for sure, but no tears, and when I’d ask you how your day was you’d reply with “Awesome!” I think you are going to love it. The other night we were reading and you got so excited and said “mom- I know that word!!!! It says art!!!!” I see a lot of proud moments in your future.

That said, you do have your demons. You are incredibly hard on yourself especially when it comes to art and legos. You choose to color in the lines, even though nobody is asking you to, and when your hand doesn’t obey you’ll rip the paper and shout “it’s horrible!” The other night when you were struggling to build your new LEGO spaceship you started crying and said “I’m having a stupid day.” My heart absolutely broke. Your perfectionism serves you so well, but we have to continue to help you have patience with yourself.

Some of your recent masterpieces-

We’ve had a big break through with swimming after a few years of failed swim lessons. You like things to be your idea so now that we live by a creek that you want to swim in you willingly and happily go to swim class. Granted all you are doing so far is completely assisted by the instructor, but the fact that you are excited about it is huge. Other physical accomplishments include learning to swing all by yourself- not even a starter push and pumping to get super high. And you also love to hike now, regaling us with your knowledge of bird and insect life along the way. We love our explorations!

You planned a pretty sweet Pokémon birthday party complete with an Eli sleepover. The two of you like to “chat” in bed and you even plan out your talking points- “first let’s talk about Pokémon, then Sonic the Hedgehog, and then Transformers.” I thought it pretty impressive that you have so many friends after only a few months in Washington.

I love that we got a fair bit of mom and Otis time in this week before you are off to real school. I love our conversations and jokes. While you test my patience at times, you also make me laugh and amaze me constantly. You are a kind, thoughtful, goofball and I love you so much! Happy 5th Birthday!

Mom

Long live art (and a Becky update)

If you are reading this, you likely know me pretty well, and if you know me pretty well you know that I am a planner, a lover of control, a woman who walks the fine line between Type A and OCD.  It’s just in my nature to crave control, stability, and a clear path forward.  And, as a result, change has often been a scary concept for me.  Change inherently brings with it a level of unknown, and I don’t like the unknown.

Now over the years I have developed an impressive array of coping strategies to address my aversion to change.  In college when I was receiving rejection upon rejection from ballet companies and had no idea where I would physically live or how I would pay the bills in a month’s time, I assuaged my anxiety by not only creating a Plan A and B, but plans all the way up to the letter M.  So long as I could manage to follow one of those 12 plans I would be in control.

Later in life when I was asked by my doctor to create a “Birth Plan” I chose for my plan to be that I had no plan.  I had heard enough stories to understand that labor rarely goes according to plan so I decided that rather than have the stress of straying from my plan I would just not have one at all.  That way no matter what happened, things would be going according to my plan.

I also fell in love with a man who loves change- be it trying every IPA known to man or every instrument he can get his hands on, my soul mate has zero aversion to change.  While I have built my skillset by staying in jobs for 4 years and 11 years, he has built his skillset by changing jobs frequently to stay relevant and cutting edge.  Granted he works in the fast paced world of technology and I work in the old world of ballet, but nevertheless I have been privy to the benefits of welcoming change into one’s life from watching him.  And over the years he has worn my distaste for change down.  If it weren’t for Brad, I would probably eat the same meal every night, live in the same house for decades, and wear the same clothes I wore in high school (ok this I actually still currently do :).  And I would be happy, but I would be stagnant.  And I don’t want to be stagnant.

So when faced last September with a potential opportunity to make a major life change I didn’t run the other way immediately.  I stuck one foot in to gather more info.  A school that I was acquainted with through a regional dance organization was conducting a nationwide search for a new Artistic Director (their long-time director was retiring).  A new job for Becky?  Huge change!  A new job in Vancouver, WA?  Colossal change! Sell a house, buy a house, uproot two kids and a husband, start a new job!  Well when I looked at it that way I was terrified, but I also knew that I would regret not pursuing it further.  So I somewhat reluctantly applied.

After an initial remote interview, they invited me up last January for a 4 day interview process.  On the flight up I remember saying to Brad “I just want to leave knowing 100% what I want.”  After all, I liked working at Marin Ballet and I liked living in Petaluma, so I didn’t need this change.  I didn’t want to feel wishy washy on which path forward was the one I wanted.  Well, after 4 days of observing, teaching, meeting and presenting, I got my wish.  I knew 100% that I wanted to be the new Artistic Director of Columbia Dance in Vancouver, WA.  The Columbia Dance community- students, parents, staff, and board members completely drew me in.  I felt welcomed, appreciated, and needed.  I can honestly say that I felt compelled to join an incredible organization.  Compelled is a strong word, but that is exactly how I felt.  I just knew that my particular skillset and passion were the right fit for Columbia Dance.  As a good friend and mentor once said about me landing at Marin Ballet, it was kismet.

I am now a month into my full-time new venture (after months of working part-time remotely) and my feelings remain the same.  I am so thankful that I didn’t let my aversion to change prevent me from pursuing this path.  I am already rather in love with this organization and here is where I ask you to help support my love for this organization.  Columbia Dance has embarked on a Capital Campaign that will allow us to purchase the incredible building that we are in and allow us to have a permanent home.  This purchase is truly imperative to the school thriving and if you are in a place where you are able to donate to a non-profit organization, I can attest that this is a very worthy cause.

I know that there are so many organizations worthy of our donations.  And I know that it’s hard to choose to donate to the arts when your heart is tugged in all directions.  Brad and I currently give recurring (in absurdly small amounts as befits our current finances) donations to Brady Center for Gun Violence, Metavivor Metastatic Breast Cancer Research, Planned Parenthood, and Gigi’s Playhouse Down Syndrome Achievement Centers.  We could easily tell ourselves that we are doing enough, but we will absolutely be donating to Columbia Dance’s Capital Campaign because arts are as important as everything else.  AND . . . and this I feel ridiculously passionate about . . . arts education is essential, crucial, and imperative to the future of this country.  I can speak first hand to say that taking ballet doesn’t just help you be a good dancer.  It helps you be a good person.  At Columbia Dance (and all the other schools I have taught at) we are in the business of creating good people.  Ballet training gives kids a strong work ethic, a sense of self-esteem, and a place to relieve the stress that is causing widespread anxiety among today’s youth.  When they enter the studio they leave their stress (and cell phones) at the door.  The endorphins feed them, the music feeds them, their classmates feed them.  We can’t be the best people we can be unless we are thriving ourselves.  Art feeds us and I truly feel that in this day and age when we have access to all information and all news on our cell phones, we need to be fed more than ever.  It has gotten so hard to “turn off” or “unplug” and as a result I feel like we often walk around feeling completely depleted.  Depleted people cannot give their best to society.  Art revives us and inspires us.  Giving children the gift of art in their lives gives them a leg up on loving who they are and giving that love back to the world.

If you made it this far, I thank you for listening.  If you are inclined to donate I thank you for not just supporting my new endeavor, but for championing art.  Checks payable to Columbia Dance can be mailed to Columbia Dance, 1700 Broadway Street, Vancouver, WA 98663 or you can pay via credit card by clicking this link http://columbiadance.org/capital-campaign/

 

Farewell Fairview

In 2009 two newlyweds named Brad and Becky vacated their one bedroom place in Berkeley and purchased their first home on Fairview Terrace.

This was one of the best decisions we’ve ever made, giving us 9.5 years of incredible memories. When I mentioned checking out Petaluma as a place to buy our first home, Brad was skeptical. I convinced him to take a day trip up just for fun 😉 and after visiting Tall Toad music, walking the downtown, and popping into an open house of a place with a chicken coop in the backyard, he was completely sold!

The rose colored old carpeting, backyard mural, and grandma style wallpaper didn’t scare us. The views, the space (4 bedrooms and a bonus room), the workshop, and the ability to walk to downtown made us fall in love with the place.

Lani, the beagle, especially appreciated the 180 degree viewing opportunities.

The downstairs bonus room was dubbed “The Rumpus Room” and was inaugurated as a band/game room.

With no kids at the time, we had no idea what to do with the 4th bedroom . . . so naturally we created a yoga/sitar room.

Chapter 1 of life at The Fairview was filled with visitors. We hosted 3 couples from out of town for New Year’s Eve. We had a blast creating their “guest rooms”. Even if their room only had an air bed, it came with a placard naming their room and the amenities it included- bottled water, free WiFi, etc. We got very creative.

We hosted full bands of musicians from the east coast too! The more the merrier was our motto especially since it took us a while to meet local friends.

Once we met some locals we hosted weekly “Walking Dead” viewings.

Brad’s brother even lived with us for a bit when he moved home from Japan.

The plan to have kids took longer than expected, but we kept our young selves busy with our critters,

Brad’s bands,

Becky’s teaching,

Exploring the outdoors around us,

And, of course, the growing of beards for Brad (I mean we lived in a town with a festival called Whiskerino).

Phase 2 at The Fairview started with a bump called Rubis.

The resident of my belly was to be named Ruby if a girl and Otis if a boy so until we knew the gender he/she was Rubis. We used my pregnancy as a good excuse to give The Fairview a makeover. We’d already spent way too many hours painstakingly scraping wall paper and painting rooms, but now we added new floors, windows, toilets, and created a baby’s room of course.

Oh dear- one kid on the way and we were full on adulting 😁. I even traded my hot rod in for a sensible vehicle.

On August 19, 2014 Otis took up residency at The Fairview.

And through him, I became completely entwined in the Petaluma community. I joined the Petaluma Mother’s Club and met some of the best friends I’ve ever had in my life.

Otis, too met life long friends (who he still plays with).

Lucy joined the Fairview tenants list on May 27, 2017 and suddenly all those bedrooms had true uses. Bye bye yoga/sitar room!

Our get togethers at the house became even more lively with the addition of kids. Birthday parties, Christmas parties, impromptu happy hours- such great memories having our Petaluma community in our home!

I can’t tell you how this gang ended up in Lucy’s crib at last year’s Christmas party- we simply discovered them there having a blast!

Petaluma we are going to miss you so much! From sweaty July days at the Rivertown Revival Festival

To the Christmas season kick off of Santa’s riverboat arrival-

You are a unique town that is irreplaceable and we are so glad we spent nearly a decade with you!

But while we’ll miss this oft stinky little town immensely, it’s the people we’ll miss the most. The Monday afternoons at the park,

the Saturday evenings at Pinky’s Pizza parlor,

and the too many to count outings to The Block.

All excuses to spend time with our friends!

Our house and this town have been the backdrop of some of our live’s greatest memories and friendships. We became the family we are today in that home! As we start Phase 3 in Vancouver, WA we’ll hug these memories close. It’s the end of an era for sure!

We out!

Dear Otis- Pre-School Grad

Dear Otis-

You are officially kindergarten bound after a fantastic Pre-K year at You & Me Childrens’ Center. I truly believe that we found the perfect pre-school for you. After 3 years at Tia Amelia’s daycare we decided last August to enroll you in pre-school to help prepare you for kindergarten. It’s always hard choosing a school, but somehow luck was on my side and you landed at the perfect place! Here you are on your first day.

We had a few teary drop offs the first week, but Teacher Kelly would pull you aside and distract you with an art project. She “got you” right away.

You love learning! You are so proud to be a Wise Owl at You & Me. You love to come home and tell us all about the letter of the week or the nature walk you went on.

We enjoyed a Halloween Parade at your school (you were Rocketship Man).

And a trip on the Polar Express.

You even let me come read The Nutcracker to the Wise Owls.

You have learned to write your first and last name and you like to write random letters and ask me what they spell or copy my own writing.

You love to do art.

Teacher Kelly and Teacher Nancy gave you a chapter book when you filled your Pom Pom cup for good behavior.

You made all sorts of friends- Bodhi, Baen, Will, and Liam being your closest buds. Will taught you all about bugs and snakes and Liam taught you about birds. You are quite the naturalist! We are going to attempt to be pen pals with them.

All in all, its been a great year and we are so proud of you. To quote Teacher Kelly “you are a kind boy and you use your thinker.” Thank you to Teachers Nancy, Kelly, Nell, Donya and all the rest of the staff for starting your education in a fun and exciting way!

In Otis’ own words “you are the best school I’ve ever seen! You rock!”

Dear Lucy- 2 Years Old

Dear Lucy-

You turn 2 today! You are definitely a big kid now with the vocabulary and mood swings to match. Some of our favorite Lucy sentences include “daddy back work right now.” Poor dad- you love to send him to his office. “Lucy do it-” this is usually pertaining to putting your shoes on by yourself. “Too scary-” applies to anything you don’t want to do. “Too spicy- applies to anything you don’t feel like eating. You are also pretty good at please and thank you and you never miss the opportunity to say “bless you” when someone sneezes.

Your face is extremely emotive. It’s usually pretty clear to see how you feel about things.

You want to do all the things your brother does. You like to count, usually saying “six seven eight.” You like to state your age including quarters- you currently are steadfast in your belief that you are 6 quarters old. And you LOVE to read. If someone isn’t available to read to you, you simply “read” to yourself. You sit through 10 minute long books and will sit in your room on your bear chair for up to 45 minutes perusing your library.

You have started to sing songs. Happy Birthday and Itsy Bitsy Spider are faves, and then, of course, there’s the Paw Patrol theme song. You’ve got that one down pat!

You have a strong opinion about what you wear, with hearts being your preference, and you are pretty tolerant of my hair styling (and Tia’s too).

You still go to Tia’s where, according to you, you play outside with Eeeooo (Leo) and Peyee (Perry) and always eat pizza for lunch. You also took a little soccer class at a Mother’s Club field trip.

You are pretty adventurous, already climbing all over playgrounds, and much more comfortable straying from mom than your brother is.

Your are my Baby Boot Camp buddy where you like to hang with Grace and eat snacks.

Lylah and Julia are your other best buds

Buy Otis is hands down your best friend (even if you bully him a tiny bit).

Up until a week ago you would sleep through the night consistently after family storytime. Nightmares seem to have just appeared for you. You’ve got front teeth and molars but nothing in between. You are obsessed with cats and dogs. You would eat soup and oranges for every meal if we let you. And you are the biggest snuggler I know. You always want to climb up to our laps for hugs. We love you so much Lu!!!!!

Festive for Days!

Christmas spirit was off the charts in the Moore household this year! We had a blast indulging in all things holiday for the last month.

Brad was sick Thanksgiving weekend, but still managed to haul all 5 boxes of decorations in from the shed before collapsing into bed for 12 hours straight. With my Elves in Training we managed to have the house fully transformed to wonderland by November 24. Each morning thereafter when Lucy awoke she would utter “light, lights, pretty lights” until all Xmas lights had been plugged in.

Hmmm . . . What else did we do? What didn’t we do would be the more concise answer, but here we go.

Greet Santa as he arrives by Riverboat ✅

Gingerbread house ✅

Christmas movies ✅ (Elf and The Santa Clause were hits)

Costco impulse buy ✅

Nutcracker Storytime at Otis’ pre-school ✅

Cookie decorating after Boot Camp ✅

Go see the Nutcracker ✅. Grandma and Otis went on a date for this. Special outfits, lunch out, and attended the performance with friends. Favorite character- the Nutcracker himself. Favorite scene- the Battle Scene.

12 Days of Jolly the Kindness Elf ✅. This was new for Otis this year. Among my favorite Jolly requests- make grandma and grandpa lunch (salami sandwiches of course), help mom clean for the party (“mom would you like me to sweep the floor for you?” 🤗), make cards for your teachers

And bake cookies to thank the Nutcracker dancers (damn that Jolly is ambitious). Goal- 100 cookies. Actual- 40 cookies.

Holiday outfits ✅

Don’t worry- Brad has matching pjs too. He is just too wily to be caught on camera.

Polar Express day at pre-school. It was so freakin’ (don’t say that word mom) magical! The Polar Bear even made an appearance!

Christmas Party ✅. This year’s title was Moore Merriment Happy Hour. I’d consider it a successful party when you go to check on the “big kids” and find them all in the little kid’s crib 🤷‍♀️

Xmas light drive with hot apple cider ✅

And that brings us to Christmas morning. So many smiles!

It really is my favorite month of ever year! Traditions abound and family is cherished. Magic is real and joy is tangible. Until next year!