Monday, December 7, 2015

Marrying Right

It's not always great, but it's generally above average and it's always supportive.

Fwiw, I think you are an incredible mother, an amazing friend, an astute businesswoman, and a wife who has rocked my world and blessed my life in ways that I did not think we're possible. While it is just my opinion on these matter, I am a doctor so you can trust me.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Holiday Moxie

I spoke earlier about taking a bit more risk-- well, one of those "stick your neck out there moments" was my deciding to be a part of our local production of the Nutcracker.  I have never been in the Nutcracker but had always wanted to be.   Kid dreams deferred here we are-- opening night!

It's been YEARS since I have been in a play myself. I have worked/directed countless times but never went out for it myself- so here in the year of Moxie, I am going to play Mother Ginger- which is basically the head on top of a barbie cake- where dancers come out from underneath the skirt.  It's really fun and I am having a blast hanging with the kids in my scene.

Also totally awesome-- I get to do this with Deirdre who is a Little Angel-- she spends most of the performance giving a thumbs up to the audience or pointing at fog- but it's awesome regardless.  She LOVES rehearsals-- it's exciting to see her interests emerge and even more so exciting to see her interested in some of the same kinds of things I am interested in.

so alas-- here is Daisy in her debut as Thumbs up Angel.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Off the Bench

recognize that posting has been light.  cough. all year.  I am not sure what to really do about that-- there was a lot going on with me professionally this year which is very hard to write about in a public space. 

The short of it- I took a job that was based in another city. I spent much of the spring traveling in and out of Ketchikan and for the most part it was working for us as a family  We then started to talk about relocation to the new city as a more permanent decision and that's when the heavy conversation started.

Now if you want a peek behind the marriage of Matt and Dana- let me set the stage.  It often involves a bottle of wine, late nights, foot massages and heavy conversations on values.   We talked and talked and then talked some more for almost a month straight while my job somewhat patiently let us work through this step as a family.  This talking isn't new to us, it's something that we had established early in our relationship and has only grown as our lives have become more complicated.  We don't have a perfect marriage by any standard but we do have an extremely candid and earnest one. To a fault we are open about what is going on. . . and in the times of big decisions it can be almost debilitating.  There were late, late nights on this one.

When I describe our decision to move to Ketchikan I often use the term "values driven life."  I think people roll their eyes a bit at that-- but that's really as simple as it was.  We were commuting a bunch, on the run and had dinner as a family maybe once or twice a week.  We met some great folks- especially through our adoption with Simon who lived life just the way they wanted to, and it was inspiring.  Moving to Ketchikan was about creating the space for us to really bond as a family.  Our decision to come to Ketchikan looked and acted very similarly to these conversations.  There was wine, there was conversations around the practicalities of our choices and the impact to our kids and relationship.  A bit of déjà vu for us.

The reality was that although another adventure sounded exciting, especially to me- the reality of living in a new city with both of us working and me traveling a lot was too much.   It also took us away from the values we have found in Ketchikan. In the end, I decided to resign my job and continue our life in Ketchikan.  We had intended to be here for 18 months but that time has now come and gone and we are still here.  It feels good, the values are still in check, the marriage still strong and the kids still thriving. Staying feels good, so that's where we are.

So now what. . . as those of you who follow the blog over the last couple years will know that we adopt a new years resolution as a family.  This has varied over the years but this year was moxie.  Now moxie indicates some resemblance to swagger and general ass kicking.  To date, this has NOT been the year of moxie- but a year of indecision and angst.  Not moxie at all.   Now we are in late October and I am not sure what happened other than that we almost made a big move,  decided not to, and didn't have another plan in place.

I give myself a pass for the spring of indecision, the summer of fun while I connected with some old friends and family with a plan to fully carpe the diem out of this fall.  

Soon fall was amidst us and I am still lacking traction.  I could point to one hundred excuses of why my life is hard  or didn't go the way I though- but that's not really the point.  The year was called MOXIE not MAKING SCHOOL LUNCHES. 

It turns out that getting four kids into the swing of school is not easy-- it's half a loaf of bread in sandwiches, 2 hours a day in the car and several rounds of IEP's. Again,excuses.  It turns out getting pneumonia at 35, will derail you for almost a month and turn you into a albuterol shaky, codeine seeking druggie. Again, excuses.  It turns out having your confidence shaken with a tough career pivot will make it hard to stick your neck out.  Again, excuses.

Well, that ends about now.  I'm coming off the bench.  I may have not nailed the theme this year, but damn if I can't finish strong.  Nothing about moxie breeds temperance.   Let's get this done. 

I came across this cover recently from a singer I like and have been listening to it a lot during my work outs.    It's the attitude I am going to adopt for the balance of the year.  The relentless pursuit of happiness and shameful enthusiasm. 
I'm on the pursuit of happiness and I know everything that shines ain't always gonna be gold. Hey, I'll be fine once I get it, I'll be good

There is a lot going on in our little world- even by our standards.  Some of you who care for us may caution us on moderation- but I (lovingly) won't have it for the next couple months.  I have been living this new philosophy for a couple weeks now, and man. . . it feels awesome.

People told me slow my roll, I'm screaming out: Fuck that.  I'm a do just what I want, looking ahead no turning back

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Simon Tirfe

We have been doing a lot of celebrating in this house-- it seems like we are always doing a lot of celebrating but today is a special day because Simon Tirfe is three!

We celebrated Simon's birthday a couple weeks ago with a beach barbecue.  I wasn't sure if I was going to do a kid party for Simon because I didn't think he would 'get' it.  Boy, was I wrong.  Thank goodness for friends who encouraged me to do it!

My heart was warm with love as I saw him open his own presents-- blow out his own birthday candles and give away his bubble favors to his friends.  It was one of my favorite days so far as a parent.  I love seeing him confident and feeling like the king of the world!

He is three but in some ways I feel like I am just getting to know him.   He has been talking so much more in the last couple months-- and with more confidence.  It's opened up a whole side of his personality that I think we were guessing at before.  He was a toddler who spoke like a baby---suddenly we have a boy in the house with all these opinions, tinkering, joy, pain and some pretty awesome, fall on the floor, kick your legs, cartoony temper tantrums.   It's pretty great.

It's been just over two years since he came to our home in Minneapolis.  I am in awe of how far we have come-- we all have come. I was thinking back to those early days with this motoring baby speed crawling through our house, getting up at 3 AM with coffee, venturing out with him for the first time, the trust that we had to build, the joy yet to experience.  There was so much expectation and hope.

It took some time, but I feel like we are seeing what the promise of what we hoped for in those first few days and weeks.   Everything with Simon has been sudden*-- we suddenly had a motoring baby in the house** Now we suddenly have a little boy.

Happy Birthday Simon.

*Except for that three year waiting thing.  Not sudden at all.
** which is so different of an experience than bringing a newborn home.  

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Mimi Mae

The last of the littles is entering not so little.  Moira Mable, "Mimi" to her sibs, is now one.  It's been a sweet year for miss M.  Mimi is in many ways the most entertaining baby to grace the Fitzpatrick house hold but she is also probably the most demanding as well.  She smiles, waves, hoots and hollers.  She is up in the middle of the night- screaming her head off but also quick with the smile and a "hi ya".     I am not entirely sure how miss Mimi will turn out-- but I am willing to bet it will be a wild and fun ride.

I am not sure if it was because life was more hectic with the others or that I am just at a place to appreciate the simple, the sentimental.. . whatever.  She rocks. I love this babe.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

The Authentic Kid

James has been wanting a mohawk for some time.  At his last hair cut he boldly told the hair stylist that he wanted a mohawk while I grimaced and revised his request to "faux-hawk".  The stylist confirmed that this meant that there would be hair on the side and I noted my exact understanding of the haircut.  

Fast forward-- James looks in the mirror at home and his little lip trembles and he said that he wanted a real mohawk.

It's summer-- and you know. . . why not.  I hack it together with a little painters tape and Matt's clippers and we have a real mohawk.

Fast forward-- lip tremble-- it's not a color. ..  well, if you are like me you grew up with the book "if you give a mouse a cookie, you know at the end of the day you get a happy mouse.

Well, we let him do it-- and I think this is one of my proudest moments as a parent.  He is so confident with his new hair- like a peacock strutting about.  The best part though is the self talk he does in the mirror-- hey you, guy there with the purple hair.  (guns, pew pew, fist pump) Yeah!

I am not sure what sort of expression is in this kid-- he has always been so excited about his looks and  I guess it's natural for it to expand to hair.  I wish I could say that I was totally on board- but I did have to give it a bit to warm up.  Now I see him running around with the lightness of someone who KNOWS just how cool they look and I can't believe that I made him ask me for 3 years before letting him do it.

It might not be for every one-- and I am sure there are mothers out there judging me for my child's semi-permanent look-- but this has been great. for both of us.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Sweet Sassy Molassy

Deirdre is three.  Hard to believe--

One little story about miss Daisy before I turn you over to the video.  On Daisy's first birthday she pinched out her birthday candles while her three year old brother threw a conniption because he thought the honor was his.  We all gasped about the burned baby but she was fine-- because that's just how Deirdre rolls.  Blowing is for losers.

On her third birthday* we go to light the candle and sing happy birthday and Deirdre disappears into the basement and comes back with a candle lighter.  You know, from her personal stash.** 

Hard to believe this is the same kid two years later, right? Well, that's Deirdre. Independent, competent, sassy.


* Her first friend birthday-- which she asked for, planned and overall orchestrated with the help of pinterest. I kid you not.  The kid was on fucking pinterest. "I said Fairy Pancakes!"
**Crap parents we are, we do not keep the fire starters in the play room. 

Saturday, January 31, 2015


Well folks-- once again I need to put my tail between my legs, scratch my toe a little on the ground and apologize about not writing.

I know some of you actually read this little thing of mine-- and sadly I do write-- I just often forget to post.  So the next few days* you will be treated to some random musings about life in Fitztopia.
A quick update on where life stands these days-- and some comments that are long overdue in terms of things I mentioned here and then totally failed to circle back on. 
  1. Moira.  Still awesome.
  2. Moira.  We went through her official hearing test and she did awesome.  Like seriously seriously awesome.   Nana, James, Moira and I did a full day appointment at the U of Minnesota.**   Through a miraculous coincidence of nursing and a super sleep-deprived baby we were able to do the test without sedation. She shows minor hearing loss in one ear.   One ear is just a shade below normal (bad enough to fail the screen but not bad enough to need a hearing aid and the other ear is hearing at a level that would be considered quite normal for an adult (25db).   At this point we are not going to do hearing aids-- my experience having gone through this before is that they are damn impossible to keep on their little ears anyway and since we don't have access to getting the rubber mold done at the monthly frequency needed when they grow that rapidly-- we are going to pass and re-evaluate in a few months.  Our audiologist is fully supportive of this plan and we feel comfortable having been through this gauntlet before.   She is continuing to meet her language milestones-- humming and singing and the basic bubble making that babies do.   As you can imagine-- this was TREMENDOUS news and we are feeling so incredibly grateful.  She is so clearly our most extroverted (read: LOUD) child so we will know if something changes and she isn't picking up as much.   We are so glad that we are dealing with a minor issue and that she has such an awesome bro to guide her on the path.
  3. James' hearing is still stable at around 40-50db in some frequencies.  We did an awesome game of dinosaur basketball where he threw dinos into a box whenever he heard a hum.  Hearing tests are loads more fun as they get older and can actually participate.  Young hearing loss parents-- have faith. It gets better.      
  4. James and Moira are getting tested for a genetic link to the hearing loss.  It's probable that the CMV diagnosis that we thought James had was a red herring and that there is a link genetically with our kiddos.  When we tested James we didn't find anything but in simple simple terms-- the 5 or so tests that were common then are now 100's. Amazing what science can do in a few short years.  We are doing a panel on both kids and will hopefully know more soon.
  5. Speaking of Speech and language--Simon is starting speech therapy.  He has come so far but still struggles to annunciate the ends of his words.  For example, I wouldn't know the difference between Mom, Milk or More out of context.   It's getting better but his speech is more at the level of an 18-monther than a 30-monther and we aren't sure how to coach it. We have had a couple great initial meetings and evaluations and we feel great about the guidance already coming in from the pros.  It is very possible that three of the four of my children will be in speech therapy.  Uffda.
  6. We spent Christmas in Minnesota and it was pretty awesome.  It was the first year since Matt and I have been together that we didn't go to Florida.  It was different but good.  The kids really understood Santa this year and I felt such joy with all the festivities.  Deirdre was probably my favorite in terms of Christmas reactions.  She hyperventilated when she opened her favorite gift and spent much of the day outside in her Frozen dress***  We have a great video of her standing on the edge of lake (her tundra)  belting Let It Go in the musical styling of  her dress while Pop Pop tried to get her to put her coat on. Elsa does not wear a coat.  Her passionate interpretation reminded me of the Star Search youth category. But without the skill.   It was awesome and now we have a cat bell to tell where our daughter is.****
  7. We saw so many friends and family which was perfect.  I have been so blessed in this life time and it felt so special to have so many folks to pick right back up with-- squeeze kids, sit and contemplate life, celebrate birthdays, meet new boyfriends and just laugh and cry and celebrate without any filter. 
  8. I have a job. Through the last few months I have been consulting with some old friends which led me to an opportunity I was excited about.  It is very similar to the work I did in a past life but in a way that is much more entrepreneurial.  I am almost one month in and in general-- it's going well. I am re-adjusting to life in  a more structured world-- liking the ability to use my analytical side and work with a team.  It's been a little tricky on the family front-- I am on my third trip in the month and will be planning to travel twice a month or so for the next few months.   Matt is a champ however and we are making the appropriate modifications for me to have balance-- which frankly for me involves having something outside the home.  I could write a novel about my experience with trying to be a stay-at- home mom.  I may still one day-- but let's just say I have respect for all choices of mothering. It's a tough job-full time, part time, any time.  My brain is a busy place and my old friend insomnia is back in my life.  It isn't anxiety as much as excitement as I navigate new problems, organizations and the work environment.  We have launched our first few initiatives and I feel like I am winning some basic battles- so hopefully my enthusiasm intensity, obsession will settle in time as I get more comfortable in the role.
  9. We are back in Ketchikan and that feels really good too.  The weather has been tough-- cloudy and rainy but it's still such an incredibly beautiful place with such interesting folks.****   
  10. Last week I marked the 20th anniversary of my mom's passing.  Hard to believe that is the truth- but again, here we are.  I have a whole lot to say on that topic as well but it doesn't belong here.
Love to all of you who support us with such love.  We are grateful as always.
*Let's be real. . . Weeks.  It's important to  maintain my mystery.
**  Nana the source of all support and happiness.  She was INSANELY helpful in what ended up being a really long day.  I asked her to come to help with the kids but also because she is a positive force of nature.  I didn't know how I would do emotionally with the appointment and Matt wasn't there-- she proved to be incredibly awesome-- both on the kid front and the mom front.
***Which sang and lit up.  At Target, Matt and I saw it at the same time and both said. . . That is Awesome/Awful at the exact same time.  For the record- I am of the awesome persuasion- as was my daughter.
****The 12 dollar lights and sound dress isn't of the highest quality so goes off without notice from time to time.  But for 12 bucks I feel like I have already gotten my value out of it.
*****Have I mentioned that my neighbors include an artist and a sled dog racer?  Cool shit folks.  We have a sled team in our neighborhood. 

Friday, December 19, 2014

Mom to a Five Year Old

I am not sure when this happened-- well last month actually.  But I now have a big ol' five year old.  Sweet baby James is now so much a boy that with the exception of those mile-long eye lashes I barely recognize what was my first baby.

James is five. . .

So here it is-- his birthday video-- less than a month late.  It's nice to confirm that I am not playing favorites.   He's just as late as everyone else is.    New Year's resolution anyone?

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Is that Happiness I Feel?

I wasn't sure where I was going to go with this post-- as I have been in a damn reflective mood lately.  But last night I found the perfect way to frame up what is going in my head.

I struggle with parenting- yell too much, count to three more times than is ever effective, and feel late no matter what I am trying to get done.  Yet,  it's oddly rewarding. And funny.

I have a hard time articulating what it is exactly that makes me love this job- especially when so much of it is just plain fucking hard.  I often feel like a foreigner in someone else's land-- crossing borders that I judged in the past- such as apologizing for the stickiness of the counter or the naked kids getting ready for bath time.  Don't mind Deirdre- that's just poop on her nose. It'll be gone soon... we're taking showers.*

The weird blend of pain and suffering and joy seems to be the normal dichotomy in my life.  As a self-proclaimed moderation-hater, I seem to enjoy life best when it's lived in the extremes.  Extremes of parenting are hard to really explain even to myself.  I seem to jump back and forth between the joy /frustration threshold minute by minute  As I have transitioned from career gal to SAHM to somewhere in-between this identity and confusion has really left me pensive.  Is this the greatest job ever? I've been told so- but man it's hard.

And then this happened--
Go Get Those Horcruxes, Bud.

This is James who thinks I can't see him underneath his cloak of invisibility.

I often spend much of the hours between 7-10 escorting children to bed.  We've been struggling with bed time and some night time phone thieves, milk capers and non-essential pee-ers.  In effort to claim my evening, I decided to take a bath with the door open so they would have to pass the door if they were out of bed.  

Cymbals clang, lightbulbs pop and the thunder clapped-- that's it.  That is frustration, lack of sleep, counting to three, time outs and joy all in one little boy.

I called out to James-- and he continued to creep past the door, careful not to make any noise.  Those floor boards are a death trap.  After he safely made it back to his room with a phone (I presume). I continued to call to him and he popped on over as if nothing had ever happened.  That's right, the blanket WORKS. 

Yep, I think that is happiness.

It's pretty fucking awesome.**

* " "Tonight.  We are big into changing our own diaper lately.  Which works, you know. . . most of the time. Until it REALLY doesn't.
**As I write this post with a baby in my lap- a glass of wine in sight and spaghetti stuck to the wall next me. 

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

A Beary Happy Halloween

Halloween anticipation is building over here. . . . we've had many practice runs at wearing the costumes and are only two days away from the big day!   Wahoo!  I love parenting for many reasons but one of my top five (or one) is the fact that I can totally love up the kids traditions again.  It's Halloween man!  Heck yeah!

We had a very Alaskan experience last week.  We spent a good long time researching the perfect pumpkin design and settled on Iron Man.  By "We" I think we all know who drove this decision. 

I searched Pinterest for a design and saw this guy:

Clearly that didn't happen.  Ours resembled more of a traditional jack-o-lantern face with a small mouth.  However if you say "Wow, IRON MAN" emphatically enough, even a four year old can see your artistic interpretation.

Despite the vision, James was not willing to do any heavy lifting.  Note his excellent delegation.

After all that work, we proudly put our pumpkin out.  The next morning when James caught the bus, I noticed it was gone and the little chair it was sitting on was tipped over.  I conferred with Matt- but no, he didn't take our pumpkin to work to show his co-workers.   

Pretty sure a bear visited us and swiped our pumpkin.  I am feeling pretty good about the fact that there was a bear on our front porch. Once again, our kids will never be allowed outside without an adult.  Yikes.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Hey There. .. .You Come Here Often?

Well, wouldn't you know.  I have a blog.  

I keep picturing this day-- a day that is dreary and rainy* where I am sitting in a quaint coffee shop staring out the window while sipping on my chai latte all well contemplating my place in this world.   I will then take my journal  with all these lovely handwritten notes on above contemplation and convert them into witty fodder for the blog .**

So that hasn't happened yet.  But I SWEAR TO GOD one of these days it will.  Until then, posting remains light. 

You know what has happened?  Y'all I have four kids.  FOUR!  I am in disbelief myself.   My lovely little world remains lovely but is busy, busy.***  I am almost always behind and although I am no longer a working gal, I have once again started scheduling my life by the 30 minute block.****

So despite the four kids just happening, I am really happy.  Today James helped Deirdre get dressed with the comment "this sure is tricky"- Deirdre helped Simon build a train track and Deirdre realized that her jammies were too small and happily passed them down to Moira.  My babes are growing up and life is sweet. It doesn't take a coffee shop and a chai for me to realize that this little life I have built is pretty fucking awesome.*****
Moira sporting Daisy's jammies

So what's new.  In no particular order:

  1. It rains a lot.  Ketchikan is known for the liquid sunshine.  The rep is well deserved.  Most of the time it's a-ok though and it's rainy season.. . . so perspective.  At least it isn't 50 below.   Vitamin-D gummies all around. 
  2. Computers are scarce.  See above commentary about trying to find work life balance.  I am still consulting and have a few clients but am trying to keep all things in moderation.  Well, most things. . .   I am sorry if I owe you an email. 
  3. I am getting my groove back post baby. I have committed to working out 60 minutes each day.  I am doing really well with it and am starting to feel a connection to my body that I have sorely missed.  I love feeling strong and it's a value of mine.  I am a lousy athlete so we will have to do with a value instead of a skill.  A friend is going to teach me to swim tomorrow night.  I am stoked!
  4. We had a special friend visit us last weekend from CSB/SJU (my alma mater).  Lately I have been thinking about Ketchikan and how often I use the word 'community' to describe it.   As I have grown further away from CSB I have realized that few people drop the C-word as frequently as the Bennies. Lately though, I can't keep that word from my thoughts as CSB-esque community is everywhere.  I am feeling pretty darn fortunate to live in this little place and was thrilled when an admissions peep from CSB/SJU came to visit.  He came for naked lady night******, joined us at Harvest Festival and even helped parent our kids when we were short a hand.  We loved having Tom here and were so thankful to bring two great communities together.
    Tom and Daisy dancing

  5. Moira is one of my greatest joys. I know I am a little cranky about the colic and a little cranky about the lack of sleep but crankihood aside-- have so enjoyed this little one. Love having a baby in my life again.  So sweet.
Nummy duty.
So that's the five minute update.  I would promise to post more but that might be disingenuous.  Instead I'll promise to do my best.

*We are talking Ketchikan after all.
**Nevermind the fact that even I can't read my own handwriting.  Odd, I know. .. however, I often leave out the last few letters of words and I have several letters that look exactly alike.  It's not uncommon for me to write something, walk away, come back and have no fucking clue what I was thinking two minutes earlier.  Actually the NFC happens a lot.   That could be it's own blog post, really.
*** The double busy to stress just how little computer time there is in my life.
****This is humorous because I have a colicky baby.  Look up colic-- yes, it reads MORE than 4 hours of crying a day.  Yes, that is my life.  Sweet baby girl needs a good toot.  There is nothing more devastating to a baby that GI distress.  So sad poor girl.
*****Pardon my french.
******Clothing exchange for the ladies in K-town.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014


Life is marching on steadily.  One of the things I like best about living in Ketchikan is the way the sun's pattern has an exaggerated affect on our life. The solstice seems a while ago and quickly the days are getting shorter and shorter.  The famous Ketchikan rain is also setting in nicely for the fall.

We first visited Ketchikan a year ago and it rained cats and dogs and this weekend I was brought back to that memory. It just poured and poured.

It reminds me a little of living in MN in the dead of winter--when you realize that you can't get your kids and their five-point harnassses off quickly enough to get from the car to the store or whatever and you just stay home where it's warm and the risk of frost-bite is negligible.

Literally it rained so hard while we were getting ready for church that I realized that we would never make it from the car to the church without being soaked to the bone.  I'm sure God understands.

Our new house is built into the mountain a bit so the view is broader-- it's been fun to see the cloud formations roll in-- I never thought I would enjoy watching it so much but I really do. The other perk to living up a bit is the perspective of the fog-there have been a couple times where we have woken up to living "in" the cloud and have slowly seen it burn off in different areas starting with the house.  It's pretty cool.

And a little claustrophobic.  On Saturday the fog was so dense you couldn't see the edge of the deck.

There were a few breaks in the clouds today and I was shocked at how the funk from the last few days was instantly gone!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Double Dare Birthday Party

I mentioned that a couple weeks back was my birthday.  I didn't mention that I decided to embrace my middle age by celebrating my childhood.

One quick preface: I love birthdays.  All birthdays.  I think it is such an easy way to celebrate life.  I felt a little self-indulgant as a younger person because of this love of the b-day but as I get older I am more confident in my silliness.  A trait that I really hope to pass along to my kids.

One of our first purchases as a pre-family was a ridiculous foam birthday cake top hat.   We bought it at a time when spending 25 bucks on a purchase that had absolutely no true purpose was a questionable use of valuable resources.  However, for the past six years I have found so much joy in our little hat and have been thankful for the splurge.  My kids look forward to birthdays and the joy of special breakfasts, toasts and yes, my little sponge hat. Net/Net in this house we live by the rules: Life is awesome. Eat Cake.

This wasn't a particularly easy year thus far with many seemingly simple things not being all that easy--too many logistics, some post-partum funk and a little apprehensive about turning 35 (a year I thought marked the official passage into the "finally get your shit together" zone of adulthood).  Given that my general attitude for the last several months has been falling into the range of pensive to angsty, I decided to take a moment for some shameless joy.

How does one bring joy?--- well, you throw a Double Dare birthday party.  I wasn't sure if people would play my reindeer games since this was my first big party since coming to Ketchikan but boy, did the Ketchie's bring it. 

Some of my favorite parts:
  • 80's trivia
  • Costume contest
  • Speed tissue box emptying
  • Tic-Tac dog on a bone
  • Obstacle course with a slime pool (find spider man amongst many other little men"
  • Paper airplane toss
  • Green slime food- including jello shots (a first for me)

It was surprisingly competitive considering the grand prize was a gift certificate for a scoop of ice cream!

Paper Airplanes

Sponge Water Relay

Elephant Heads

I had so much joy prepping for this one-- sometimes a little shameless joy all you need. 

Monday, September 1, 2014

No Bake Quesadillas*

My little birthday was oddly reflective this year-- 35, folks--which seems like a big turning point.  Combine my inward focus with a rainy day, a pre-schooler, two toddlers and an infant and even the most SSRI'd out there would reflect on their life path.  

It was a quiet little day on the island.  I met some friends for coffee then hung out with Mo for most of the day.  I had planned on journaling and setting some life goals but a colicky** baby got in the way of my awesome self actualization.  Oh well.

The kids did surprise me with a little dinner at home.

Moira and I went down stairs to check email (nurse)  and about one minute later I heard a chair moving across the floor above me.  Those of you with kids in the same life stage as mine know that the scraping rattle of a chair being moved is very, very dangerous.

Anywhoo-- I decided not to check it out, but instead call to the four year old*** to tell the two-two year olds to stop it.  He confirmed with an "ok".    So, I think we can all agree that this was a bad idea

Ominous noises continue and  I holler again to James who comes down.  I ask what he is doing and he says they are making me dinner.  Good. I ask him if they made a mess-- and he responds in a series of rapid fire statements:

"You wait right here, k?"
"I'll be right back,k?"
"You sit right here, while I'll be right back"

Then I hear upstairs a bad stage whisper: "Guys, GUYS. We have to CLEAN UP."    "GGGGUUUUUUYYYYYSSS!!!"

I have a pretty good idea of the bad news that's going on upstairs at this point but decide to give it thirty seconds so that they have at least a fighting chance at reducing the damage. Moira, still attached to me from our feeding/email session head upstairs to see this.

The apple slicer is obviously very helpful for this recipe. What a time saver.

I am saving this one to show her future prom date.

On tonight's menu: No bake quesadillas.  

I put M in her bouncy seat and started to clean up but Moira disagreed about this plan (likely fear of falling cheese) so I sat back down with her, nursed some more and snapped some photos.

Then, I called the babysitter to come a bit early.

Happy birthday to me.

Mo and I went out for a girls date, journaling, self-actualization and a little alcohol.  I'd call that a success.

*Alternate title: "Get the Cheese off the Baby."
**I think we are getting close to calling that formal diagnosis. . . . wow, girly gets UPSET.
***A perfectly responsible proxy parent.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

And So it Goes

Friends, it's been a while.   I feel like that is such a classic blogger phrase-- I meant to write, but then life got in the way-- you know four kids blah blah blah.

Well, that's only half true this time.  There were lots of times where I meant to sit down and write but there were plenty more where I felt like a whiny brat and didn't want my vast, vast* readership to feel obliged to put up with my BA.**  But it's better now-- hormones are more in check, life more balanced, sun shining more inside and out, sarcastic state fully returned, and poop is once again funny.

So what happened-- well, a couple things really.

The first and more importantly we are all so incredibly smitten with our newest. 

Today it struck me that never again will we have a teeny tiny baby in our household.  Moira has already passed that fragile infants stage. It was over in an instant.  I have put away the newborn size clothing in favor of bigger clothing and we have purchased our last box of N diapers.   Her once resting, not quite ready for the world face has been replaced with bright, alert eyes with the corners of her mouth beginning to smile.  It's the "hey, you look familiar" phase. . . but the precious itty-bitty is gone.*** It's heartbreaking and exciting all in the same moment.

This is likely the last time we will be down this journey with an infant and I am feeling frustrated that I am already missing what was, even if what 'was', was just last week or last month. 

Secondly, we find ourselves trekking through a familiar valley.  Moira didn't pass her newborn hearing screen. I chalked it up originally to a failure in equipment but it after two repeat tests, it appears that sweet daughter is hard of hearing.

I almost instantly felt a familiar wash of nausea and cold memories of having gone through this with James.  Looking back, I don't think I really processed those beginning days with James-- It was a dark time.  Routinely I have wanted to kick myself for not being more optimistic. I was so fearful of what the virus would mean for my sweet baby that I missed some sweet of the baby. 

Lessons aren't always learned just because you are able to articulate them in your mind's eye.  I am working through this lesson once again.

The darkest part for me was the suggestion by the pediatrician that we screen her for CMV.  I was always under the impression that it was nearly impossible to contract it again once you have immunity-- but it turns out there is a one in a million**** chance and it was worth screening.  Call it PTSD, but I sobbed for days-- walk into a room and sob, look at the sky and sob, look at the sweet baby and sob.  I couldn't deal with the guilt that I might have passed a virus to another child of mine-- especially after being so careful about my health.   It took two weeks to get the testing completed and for that time, I couldn't think about blogging with any sense of logic--in fact, there was very little I did successfully during this time.  I doggie paddled through the day and tried to fake it when out in public but inside I was still gutted with guilt and sadness.  The hormones probably didn't help either. 

So hence, the absence-- there isn't much to write when you want to finish each paragraph with "and I am sad and whiny."

I will save you the time and give you the spoiler alert, Moira doesn't have CMV, which was a tremendous outcome for us.  It means there are a lot of associated risks that we won't have to be on high alert for.  However it raises even more questions for James-- we have two kids with the same sort of hearing loss- which means we need to re-visit the genetic testing once again.  We didn't find a genetic tie when we went through this in 2009 but are told that much has advanced since then.  There is a possibility that although James did have CMV at 9 weeks old, that he either a) got it shortly after birth or b) did have congenital CMV but it didn't cause his hearing loss.*****    Moira looks great (to me at least) and seems like she is developing well-- we are hopeful that we will just be dealing with the hearing aids.

I have thought a lot about James these last few weeks-- especially James, the baby.  Those first few days and weeks were so fearful and I am working hard to not repeat those mistake again.  He has brought tremendous joy -- especially when I hear him sing or watch him break dance to his favorite tune.  Again, I know that not everyone has a good outcome, and many have it far worse-- but I am so delighted with seeing the journey of my little boy.  I couldn't have a better example of a fantastic outcome and a fantastic role model for his little sister.   I am not blind to the fact that we will once again be busy with extra appointments, specialists, insurance battles and the what not-- but I am going to try and slow down my racing mind when it comes to my relationship with her-- focus on the sweetness of the baby.  If Moira is half as fun as James, we should be in for a good time.

 So next steps--

Emotionally I am doing much better.  I have been keeping busy and focusing on joy.  I am also successfully enjoying the sweet within the sweet baby.  I can't get back the two weeks of fear and sadness but I am focused on the positive now and it feels pretty fantastic.  Loving a baby is a pretty good way to get your joy index up.

Clinically, there isn't a lot that can be done in Ketchikan so we are seeking treatment back in Minnesota.  We will return in December so that we can meet with the team at the U (where James went) and use our audiologist to do an ABR on Moira.  At that point, we will know exactly what she hears and doesn't so that she can be fitted with hearing aids.   A visit from friends and family should help the joy index as well.

So that's the life right now. . .We are carrying on as our merry band of six.  How sweet it is. 

*All six of you.
**Bad Friggen Attitude.
***Let's be real, it's not like she's graduating or anything, knuckle-bite. They grow old so fast. 
****Hyperbole. very small.
*****Matt has brought up the fact that we are an interesting clinical case.   It's certainly odd either way.

Sunday, August 10, 2014


We are celebrating again in our little house today.  Simon Tirfe is two.  That's right-- although we have been feeling the effects for quite some time. . . today we officially have two-two year olds.   Wrap your arms around that one folks. . . TWO two year olds.   I am sure you are all feeling immense pangs of jealousy.*

Kidding aside, it's pretty sweet.  A good 90% is hilarious-- the other 10% is epic badness.  I think that's what having kids means though.

Simon has had an incredible couple months-- the arrival of the baby has made him suddenly a big boy.  He is very nurturing and caring for the baby while keeping up better with the bigger kids.   He is still our busy boy-- either taking things apart or putting them together.  We have found that he likes cars and trucks with a special love for construction vehicles which bring together the best of the  break/build/moving trifecta.

His smile lights up the room, his beginning words more frequent and his adventures dunking in the toilet less frequent.**  All in all, he is becoming one heck of a little boy.

Love this kid.

Simon's Birthday Video

*If that's not enough. . . we now have four kids in diapers. Granted James is only in night times. . and Daisy is ready but we haven't set the time aside to formally make the leap. . . but still-- we are currently buying diapers for four children.  

**Despite having giardia for almost two years of his life-- he has an odd magnetic relationship with standing water.  ie.  drinking out of a puddle on the deck etc.   Matt has contemplated calling him Darwin because of his combined sense for adventure and lack of self-preservation.

Last week I found him on a ladder eight feet up in the air.  AWESOME.  It's amazing what an industrious two year old can do with thirty seconds of unsupervised play.  Lesson learned, Mama.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014


We are celebrating at the Fitz household-- one year ago a small boy joined our family.  Happy Gotcha day to Simon Tirfe.  

It's been an amazing year for him and even more amazing for us.  A year ago, he was a baby and now he is a running, busy toddler.  He is perhaps the most curious little boy I have met-- constantly moving, exploring, thinking, touching.  It's a bit of a handful as a two year old-- but I bet he is someone who will scale Everest- just because he wants to see what is on top.  He has so much to do in this world . . .

We are so grateful to have Simon in our life-- it's been a tremendous honor to be part of his journey. 

Monday, July 14, 2014

The Divine Miss M

Moira Mable Fitzpatrick 
July 6, 9:47am 
9 lbs, 21.5 inches

Excited for a sister.

The fan club
I am late on posting the news-- but I posted on Facebook, so I am covered.  :) Life with little M is going well-- everyone seems to be adjusting well to the new addition and we are maximizing sleep as best we can with an infant!  It's been a busy couple weeks but will hopefully slow down a bit as Nana is here to help!  Yay for reinforcements-- especially of the Nana variety.

All are in love with our sweet girl. 

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Forty Plus One

Well, my due date has come and gone and Matt is starting his third (and final) week of paternity leave.  No baby.    I wrote here before that this pregnancy has been very different than my other two-- I've had significant contractions for several weeks and yet this is my longest pregnancy.

All is probably working out the way that it was intended and I have been lucky in that I have felt very good at the end of this pregnancy.  It wasn't until last week or so that I finally started to feel the underlying exhaustion that claims many women's entire third trimester.    In other news on the "things working out" front, we ended up moving this week.  We found a house that was a much better long term option for us.   Although we thought we would have a baby before we moved, we instead moved the day before my due date.  Great timing, I know.

If this were Sesame Street, I would say that the word of the day was friendship.  We've been blessed with some truly amazing people here in Ketchikan who in essence saved our butt to help us get from one place to another despite the fact that day by day we didn't know if we would even be able to participate in our own move.  Although it was a messy day- we are almost entirely settled in our new space.  And let the angels sing. . . .it's not month to month.

One other blessing was getting to take part in the Ketchikan 4th of July festivities.  It's a big deal here-- tons of booths, a parade, great food and barbecues.   I feel like we were really part of the community today and I am so glad that we didn't miss it due to that pesky baby.  ;)

We've been talking lately about how our other two births have been very indicative of the child's personalities.  James was induced. . . .which is so very James-- thinking long and hard before commitment.  Daisy sprang into this world on her own schedule- six hours after the joy of my water breaking at Pizza Luce- determined, plucky and headstrong.  This baby faked me out for several weeks, a couple nights in Labor and Delivery only to wait to come after a big transition.  If historical patterns hold, this kid is either a joker or entirely considerate.

So that's all for the baby posts. . . . one day past due and still waiting.  We did talk to our OB about how this works from here-- how long we go before inducing, how to stay* in labor if more contractions start etc.   I feel like we have half a game plan so that helps.

We've all lost the pool for when baby will arrive- but revised bets are forming. Baby watch marches on.

*Starting labor hasn't been the issue-- I've had many nights with contractions 2-3 minutes apart only to have them magically clear up at 7:00am.  The trick is making the labor stick the landing.