Sunday, April 25, 2010

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

There's no way around it- paying my mortgage each month isn't easy. We live a paycheck-to-paycheck existence and it's stressful. But I just can't bring myself to sell the house and move somewhere cheaper. I LOVE Seattle, this neighborhood, the people on my block. Maybe someday it won't be such a struggle but in the meantime I'll find a way to make it work because this is such an ideal place to be, for both of us.

While I knew that this was a very diverse area, a recent article affirmed that my zip code is actually the most diverse in the entire country! During the adoption process I never had to worry about raising a black child in an all-white environment. In the larger neighborhood, whites are the minority. Plus, Seattle is a very liberal city and I never feel like we stand out. It isn't unusual to see families with two dads or children whose skintone doesn't match their parents. And while general diversity is wonderful, even more important to us is that there is also a very large Ethiopian community in Seattle. Within walking distance of our house, there are 3 Ethiopian restaurants. We eat at the closest one almost weekly and Isa will actually ask for injera if allowed to choose a restaurant for dinner. (Well, sometimes she chooses pizza, but it's pretty evenly split!) It's something small but it helps make " 'Opia" part of her normal routine.

The Ethiopian community in Seattle is a wonderful resource. Everytime we attend a community event, we are welcomed with open arms and Isa, of course, charms the pants off everyone. One organization holds bimonthly gatherings for families that include cultural presentations and dance lessons. I believe they have Amharic lessons for older children as well. Because these events are always scheduled smack in the middle of naptime, we had yet to get to one. Yesterday Isa went down really early for her nap, so I decided to wake her in time to join in. It was a blast! Isa found another 3 year old to run around and dance with.

Our block is amazing as well. The first weekend I had my house, my dad and I were painting when we heard a knock at the door. It was the neighbors bringing over freshly baked cookies (still warm) to say welcome to the neighborhood. I had no idea that people did that nowadays! Every summer there's a big block party and pre-Isa I would join neighbors to sit on their front porch in the evenings drinking and talking. We have a lovely old library, tiny cinema, a dozen or so restaurants with a wide variety of cuisines (Mexican, Caribbean, BBQ, Italian, Thai, etc), a Farmers' Market in warmer months. I've said numerous times that when we need a bigger house, I'd rather find a way to add onto this house than move.

Last Sunday was gorgeous and warm. I was reminded again why I love this neighborhood. The school playground down the block from us was swarming with families playing in the sunshine. When we got back from playing, the neighbors were out front having a picnic and Isa decided to insert herself into the fun. Gracie brought out her facepainting kit and while I went into our house to fix dinner, Isa sat next door being turned into a clown. Here is the result of Gracie's handiwork on her mother and Isa:

So, somehow I will find a way to keep paying the mortgage. Because it really is worth it.

Friday, April 9, 2010


Today was Isa's first day of preschool!

Until June she'll be going to school Monday and Friday, 8:30-12:30. When she finishes with Wednesday morning ballet classes, she'll be in preschool Wednesday mornings as well. The school is within easy walking distance (when the weather permits, which sadly wasn't today) and I absolutely love her primary teacher. She's someone I would be friends with outside of the school in a heartbeat. Plus, her daughter is very much like Isa, so I know she's prepared to deal with Isa's over the top personality. It's ideal in so many ways.

Isa was beyond excited, although perhaps most of all about the fact that she got to bring a lunch with her. Teacher Rebecca told me that Isa grabbed her lunchbag from her cubby numerous times before it was actually lunchtime. I cut her cheese slices into heart shapes last night to make it a bit more special but I'm not sure she even noticed.

She had zero trouble saying goodbye to me which was good and bad. Much easier for me to not have to deal with tears, but sometimes a Mama does want to feel like she'll be missed! I got a little teary-eyed leaving her there. I knew it would be bittersweet. These mornings apart are going to be so good for both of us but I feel a bit guilty sending her off when I don't really need to. And it just reminds me how quickly she's growing up.

I went straight to the gym after dropping her off. It was so lovely to do a hard workout and go right home to a shower that could be as long as I wanted it to be! Then my friend Autumn came down for brunch to celebrate the big day. I have a long list of fun projects to do in my new free time and I'm going to add in a little more work as well.

Not surprisingly, Isa had a glorious time! They did artwork, made peanut butter balls, and did lots of playing. She had tons of things to tell me about her preschool and was also so thoroughly exhausted that she went down for her nap without any fuss (a bit of a problem in the last week).

On another note, for the first time today when I asked Isa to smile for a picture, she did it. And a real, nice smile not the usual cheesy face she normally makes. Nearly as exciting for me as the start of preschool.

my big girl with her princess lunch bag
eating her peanut butter balls with Auntie Autumn

today's artwork (bad pic, I know)

Saturday, April 3, 2010

2010 To-Do List

I realize I'm about 3 months late posting this, but I promise they have been on my bulletin board since January. This year I decided to forgo New Year's Resolutions in favor of a 2010 To-Do List. For some reason resolutions seem made to be broken. I'm constantly making daily to-do lists anyhow, so why not a yearly one with all the big things that really need to get done.

So, here it is:

1) Declutter & organize: okay, this is more of a "motto for the year" rather than a to-do item since I think it will be continuously happening all year long.

2) Lose 40lbs in time for my sister's wedding in August: down 10lbs already!

3) Potty train Isa: umm... I've still got 8 months, right?

4) Get Isa into preschool: DONE! She starts on Friday.

5) Cut credit card debt in half: this one is going to be a tough one. But so far I've at least stopped the outflow on the credit card. The only things I've charged this year are big things like Heritage Camp.

6) Isa's readoption: yep. Lazy me has yet to do the readoption. Isa isn't a US citizen yet and legally, she isn't even "Isa."

It isn't too daunting a list but every item is pretty darn important. I'm looking forward to checking them all off!