Friday, June 25, 2010

beach week three

beach week three took us to capitola. and, according to leah, it was a success......except for that darn parking ticket i got for parking in my stall for honestly 2 extra minutes. the cop ticketing me was doing so as i walked up with arms full to the brim of a wiggly 3 year old and all of her beach gear. he so kindly let me know that had i been there "just a few seconds earlier" he could have done something about it. riiiiiiight, mr. cop. i hope your children know what a great guy you really are.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

some days are like that...

i think we just don't give ourselves enough credit.

me. you. all of us.

we see the trials of others and think we could never, ever, in a million years do what they do...and survive. we see our own trials and think how unfair it is that we're experiencing them. we think others' lives are easier. we think we're just no good.

and it's all a big lie.

we are all given the trials that we each, individually, need in order to grow stronger. all trials are different and are internalized differently because every person experiencing them is so different. there probably is no way we could ever get through someone else's trial because it's not meant for us.

for me, writing about the good and the bad is quite therapeutic. but, it has made me realize that everyone is struggling. we're all struggling differently, but we're all struggling just the same. i'm not more amazing than anyone who reads or does not read my blog. and i sure hope i don't make others feel that way. you would not believe the emails and messages i've received from people in all walks of life thanking me for such-and-such post because it's exactly how they feel.

and to be honest, it's nice to know others feel the same way.

we're all in this together. we all need each other. we can all learn from and help each other grow. because "some days are like that, even in australia."

so, i have an idea up my sleeve for this exact topic. it's going to be good.

in the meantime, i'll let a couple of toddlers show you how it's done. how we help one another and lift each other up. how could i not like being with my friends' kids when they do stuff like this?

olallie what a day

leah and i spent a day down in watsonville at gizdich ranch picking olallieberries and strawberries.


really, yum.

fresh from the vine. cheaper than the store. and oh so worth it.

we started in the olallieberry patch, warding off any intruders into our row.we picked until our hands were stained violet
and our faces shone with dirt.we had a delicious lunch at the ranch complete with freshly squeezed {and then frozen} apple slush. i'm salivating right now.
after lunch, we headed to the strawberry patch.
and we only needed to take a few breaks.livvy preferred to pick and eat the green ones {mostly because her mom told her not to}.
we enjoyed it so much, we're going back next week. and will most definitely be going back to pick apples in the fall.

if you're lucky, you might get one of these. but at the rate we're eating it, you might not be so lucky.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

my mind is a dangerous thing...

i did it again.

i let my mind go to that dark and dreary place. that place where life just isn't fair. that place where i'm so overwhelmed with leah and what her future holds, i can barely breathe. that place where no one knows how i'm feeling. no one.

i don't do it very often. but my mind is a dangerous thing. one tiny little 'poor maren' thought leaks in and it's a downward spiral from there.

this time it happened at the beach. at the beach, people. the most relaxing place ever. and, other than one toddler dumping sand into my beach bag (camera and all) and another feeding sand to leah (only trying to help her do what she couldn't do herself!), it was a great day. leah was on her best behavior. i sat there with good friends and their darling, perfectly developing kids for four hours and i was fine. fine. and then, one random comment and my mind begins to betray me. and to make it even worse, five days later, i don't even remember what the comment was!

i snapped the group picture, held back the tears, packed up and left. as i drove away, i lost it. poor leah had no idea what was wrong with me. all i could do was whisper, "i love you. i really do." and then drove in silence the entire way home. leah fell asleep and i think the tranquil, silent, hour-long drive was all i needed.

my poor friends. they put up with so much. i'm sure they don't know how to act around me. one minute i'm sane. the next i'm a crazy person sobbing uncontrollably. they probably worry about me being around their kids when they do normal things. and all i can do is apologize. i really am sane much more often than not. i never know when it's going to hit me. but i usually love being around their kids.

i have felt so many emotions in the past year i think i might explode. i never knew you could feel so much joy, so much angst, so much love, so much pain, so much happiness, heartache, faith and fear in a matter of minutes. and i feel them all to such extremes. i feel like my heart will explode with ache and adoration all at the same time.

i had a great conversation with my cousin the night of the beach incident about my breakdown. she's basically a gift sent from heaven. and she's not really my cousin. she's married to my cousin. but i'll claim her. i don't think she expected for me to bear my soul to her and cry for 30 minutes straight, but that's what i did. she cried with me and had all the right things to say. and then it reminded me of a conversation i had with her and and her husband {my real cousin} a few months ago. it was just before leah was diagnosed and we were all simply baffled at what was going on. i was in tears at their kitchen table apologizing for the things i had said and the way i was feeling about the entire situation. and that used-to-be-bully-of-a-cousin-of-mine said, "maren. you don't need to apologize for the way you are feeling. whatever you're feeling is right."


whatever i'm feeling is right. i like that. he sure has matured over the years. he might not be a bully after all!

it's okay to be sad. it's okay to be happy. it's okay to be mad. and it's okay to explode with all those emotions {and more!} all at once.

it's okay.

Monday, June 21, 2010

dear daddy

dear daddy,

{a letter from leah}i love you.

i know i don't say it enough. ok. i don't say it at all. but i love you.

i want to be just like you.

i love how you wake up with me every morning {even when i wake up too early} and play with me. i love how you patiently feed me my breakfast one spoonful at a time, even though i'm three years old and even if it takes 10 minutes to get one bite in. i love how you always tell mommy that you get to hold me or walk with me. i love how you let me be your shadow wherever you go in the house without getting annoyed. i love that you love to cuddle with me in your ugly orange chair. i love that you love to comb my long, long locks. i love that you don't mind how goofy i am when you try to change my diaper or brush my teeth. i love that you let me splash in the tub. i love that you let me knock down your tall towers. i love that even though you won't let anyone hear you sing, you sing to me. i love that no matter how mad you are at me, you still melt at my giggle. i love that i've got you wrapped around my little finger. i love that, even though you said you never wanted girls, you can't {nor do you want to} imagine your life without me.

i love how you tackle me and tickle me, play with me and pray with me, fling me and sing to me, like me and love me.

i know i'm not the easiest part of your life. i know you've had to change a lot of your plans, close a lot of doors and forget a lot of dreams because of me. but i hope you know how much i appreciate it. i hope you know i love you. i hope the way i look into your eyes and hold you tight and give you kisses lets you know, without words, how lucky i know i am to be your little darlin'.

i love you daddy.

leah-licious karen stinky danger layton

Sunday, June 20, 2010

father's day extravaganza

these cute kiddos celebrated their fabulous dads with a gourmet meal prepared by their three fantastic moms. but the memories of bbq ribs, corn on the cob, twice baked potatoes and lounging on the back porch in the beautiful june sun are being blurred by visions of homemade pizookies.
mmmm pizookies.
aubo so graciously entertained us with his rousing rendition of follow the prophet.
i still chuckle when i think about it.

it was a good day.

i think she likes him. and he, her.

Saturday, June 19, 2010


met up with two wonderful rett moms at consuelo mexican bistro on santana row. i highly recommend it. we ate deliciously fresh guacamole and chatted for four and a half hours. i had no idea it was that late. it was that much fun.we also got to celebrate erica's birthday. mostly just an excuse to get dessert, right?
can't wait to do it again.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

i wasn't kidding when i said i thought this should be weekly

'let's go to the beach', week 2, was a success. different beach. half moon bay this time. i don't know why i never remember that half moon bay is always cold. i didn't even pack a sweatshirt. just sundresses. at least the sun was shining.

this girl was a poser. meaning, she honestly posed for pictures all day. we were there for four hours and i have probably 30 shots similar to these. i maybe have 30 posed pictures like this in her three years of life combined and then i double that in one day? she was hilarious!
she ate her entire lunch...and most of mine. i was starving by the time we got home because she ate half my sandwich, all my fruit and all of my yogurt in addition to her own lunch. at least she enjoyed it. and it's good to see her eating, so i won't complain.missing a few who had already headed home, but this is most of us.can't wait 'til next week. :)

beach fever

we had so much fun and leah was so good at the beach last thursday, we just had to take dad back with us on saturday.

we splashed in the waves, were captivated by lady bugs, snuggled in warm towels and just enjoyed one another's company.and there are those darn feet again...

sneak peak

here's a sneak peak at a little photo shoot leah and i did this afternoon.
a special tribute to dad on his special day this weekend...i think he's gonna like it.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

happy happy

love, your fans in CA. {posted with a half hour to spare. phew!}

Friday, June 11, 2010

beach babe

we hit up the beach in santa cruz this morning with a bunch of our friends. it was so. much. fun. the weather could not have been more perfect. not too hot. a little bit of a breeze. sun shining the entire time.leah loved the waves. she would run out as fast as her little legs could carry her and as soon as a wave started coming, i'd scoop her up. she would giggle as the freezing cold water splashed all over her and then we'd do it all over again. her braided pigtails just bounced with delight.
i don't think the smile left her face the entire three hours we were there.

pretty sure this should be a weekly adventure this summer.

the graduate

leah graduated from her first year of preschool last friday. then she had another week of school. her real last day is tomorrow. talk about no incentive to work hard! she already got her diploma and everything. :)

she sat in her cube chair so well...for the first half. but hey, if that's not progress, i'm not sure what is!
they called out "leah layton" and she walked to the stage. instead of walking up the two steps, she decided to sit down on them. so teacher shannon picked her up. instead of posing for a nice picture with her teacher and her diploma for mom, she gave her teacher the sweetest hug ever. then she walked down the the long wheelchair ramp and back to her seat while the remainder of the kids were called to the stage. she posed for some pictures.
and started a new fashion trend with her cap. and then we ate. if i ever had doubts that she goes to a very multi-cultural preschool, they vanished at the pot-luck lunch. there were homemade taquitos, shrimp fried rice, thai noodles, southwest chicken wraps and more. so yummy. i love all of her little friends...and their families. and to make a good day even better. daddy came home with flowers for leah. {okay, so i may have helped him out this year, but he liked the idea and is sure to do it next time!} i love leah looking at her sweaty, just-got-home-after-biking-from-work daddy. she is definitely a daddy's girl. congratulations to our little graduate!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

do you believe in magic?

i hope you do.

because leah, my friends, is magic. i'm not sure how she does it.

exhibit a:
our newest addition here at the layton household: leah's arm brace. everyone asks us how she broke her arm. she didn't. it is just constantly in her mouth. always. all the time. never stops. the poor girl had sores that wouldn't heal because her fingers are constantly wet. her hands stink. really bad. i can only imagine that it probably didn't feel very good to her to have her fingers in her mouth at all times, sores and all. but she couldn't help it!

enter leah picked out the fabric {and did a mighty good job, if i do say so myself}. and i think she likes it. it keeps that left arm {the over-active one} straight. she can't bend it at all to get it to her mouth. her fingers are dry and smell like roses. her sore is gone. the only bad thing is that she is left handed, so when she tries to do something useful with her hands like bring her sippy cup to her mouth or kiss her dolly, she can't. but she has figured out how to get around with her arm straight and everyone is happy.

exhibit b: the magic.
i'm not sure how she does it, but she can fling her arm just right and the brace seriously floats off her arm in a graceful arc all the way to the ground. it is incredible to watch. it's definitely magic.the red thing is a grippy fabric that should make it so it doesn't fall off. yet i am constantly walking into a room to find the brace and the grip strewn about. but, grippy or not, it's not leah-magic proof.

exhibit c: my nemesis.
not her. just what she's doing. in less than half a second, her fingers are ready to go. they go directly to her mouth and snap as fast as they are able. usually her hair goes with them.

we repeat this process multiple times a day. i'm getting better at wrapping it on her arm, so these incidences are less common. magic will be no match for mommy.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

rett date #2

looks like our rett friends wanted to further our relationship and take it to the next level: pool side. yup, we donned our suits, splished, splashed and had a great time.ryan was a popular guy in the leah/avery crowd. i take it back. anyone with food was popular.great day. great weather. great friends. can't wait for our third date.

see jane run 2010

so, i learned a good running lesson this month. it is not a good idea to run a half marathon with zero training.

but that doesn't stop me from doing it.

{shelbi half #1, maren half #10}

back in january, my friend shelbi came to me and said, "maren, you've inspired me. i went running for the first time this morning. and i went four miles. i felt great!"

um, you basically are a rock star in my book if you can just run four miles cold turkey and feel great. it took me awhile to build up to that. sure, i can do it now after a few years of running at least that a few times each week. but when i first started? no way. plus, i inspired her? how cool is that!?

anyway, back to shelbi. she was on fire. so we decided if she was already at four miles, she could easily train for the see jane run half marathon in june. no problem.

so she signed up. she trained.

i didn't sign up. i didn't train.

two weeks before the race, we had another conversation that went something like this:

shelbi: "maren, are you still running the see jane half?"
maren: "um, i wasn't planning on it. did you need someone to run with you?"
shelbi: "i'm just a little nervous since it's my first race, and no one else runs my pace, but i should be fine."
maren: "how about, if i can run 10 miles this weekend and live to tell the tale, i'll run see jane with you in two weeks."
shelbi: "ok."

end conversation. begin maren's stupidity. i had just gotten back from hawaii and had done nothing but lounge for at least a week. i hadn't run in a month. i was sick {really, truly. fever, cough, headache, runny nose sick}.

but i ran 10 miles. i was slow. it was ugly. i felt horrible. but i finished. and i'm pretty sure it elongated my sickness for a few days. but by thursday i was feeling better.

and then on saturday i ran see jane. and actually, i felt great. i stayed with shelbi the entire time. i had no time goals. i just wanted to help her finish. we were steady. she was strong. and we did it! like i said: rock star.

Friday, June 4, 2010

spring recital

and another semester of piano has come to an end. it was, by far, my most taxing semester yet. i think there's something about the end of the school year that screams to kids "HEY! JUST STOP BEING REMOTELY INTERESTED IN ANYTHING AT ALL. DON'T EVER PRACTICE AND YOU'LL BE FINE JUST WINGING IT AT THE RECITAL." see the caps? really, screaming. fall comes and they're all revved up and excited again, but these spring recitals are a different monster. i'm always amazed at what a little bit of fear can do to them in the last two weeks before the recital. we've had a practice chart since march with stickers as incentive and those who practiced the most were rewarded.

i played duets with two of my students. i think we pulled them off with flying colors. i think my favorite pieces this time were "music box dancer" and "hallelujah." although "chariots of fire" and "new york, new york" are close runners up. everyone did such a great job.

no one played in the wrong octave or the wrong key. one even insisted on using the pedal {even if they are still a foot too short to reach it, so they have to play it standing up!}. too cute.i got tired of the regular old let's-stand-here-stiff-as-boards-with-fake-smiles-and-pose-with-teacher-maren-picture, so we jazzed it up a bit. only missing one as she had to run off to a school play a bit early. and look, lisa, you're the tallest!!as always, this little gal stole the show with her post-recital entertainment and other shenanigans. i should get used to it by now. i think my students stay on with me in hopes they'll get to see leah every once in awhile. i'm glad she's so loved.