Saturday, May 30, 2009

odds and ends

I hope you're all enjoying this summery weekend as much as I am. I'm working on a piece about summertime activities for kids, and I'd love to hear your creative ideas!

Abbott had a school event a couple of nights ago that included hauntingly beautiful performances of some of my favorite folk songs and spirituals. I've been doing my part to keep these genres of music alive and well; I've sang some of the songs they performed (If I Had a Hammer, If You Miss Me at the Back of the Bus, Swing Low Sweet Chariot) thousands of times to and with my boys. I particularly like this collection of singable songs, to enjoy with or without kids.

Oh, summer in Seattle... you are so very worth the wait.

Friday, May 29, 2009

in the ground

About a month ago, we planted vegetable seeds, and Abbott made the markers for our humble garden. The boys are really invested in it and like to water and check on its progress every day. Last weekend we bought tomato plants (last summer we grew tomatoes too), along with some herbs and strawberries. Great satisfaction, planting and working in the soil together, talking about food and the surrounding health, environmental and social/political issues.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

the cycle of life


Our time is filled these days with activities to commemorate the school year that is ending: the learning, the friendships, the growth in each child. There are events, parties... my heart gets squeezed every time I think about Abbott being a second grader (!) next year; about Cal graduating from his preschool to attend preK at his brother's elementary school. I watch my children grow. I remember being six years old. I wonder what they will remember from this time in their life. I wonder if they have met any friends that they will have as adults. Last night after dinner we took a walk, and I saw signs of moving on everywhere - the springtime iris wilting, blackberries starting to form, the first poppy of the year. And the cycle of life continues.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Corner View: Cityscape of Seattle


I love this city. The view above is partly responsible; this was taken on the beach we live across the street from. From our house, we hear the sounds of the waves, and see the marine traffic of Elliott Bay, and breathe in the salty air. When I'm away from the ocean for very long it's hard for me to breathe. I love being within minutes of a beach and at the same time not very far from the mountains. I grew up in a similar setting in Valdez, Alaska; it provides me with a sense of comfort and familiarity. I also love living in the middle of a city and at the same time being so close to wilderness. I know there are beautiful forests and beaches everywhere, but the ones here, and this city, are close to my heart. And that is why I'm pretty sure this will always be my home.

Abbott biking at our neighborhood park

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

To the Woods: Twin Falls State Park

Alexi and I spent a fair amount of time hiking together before Abbott and Cal were born, and as the boys get older and more physically capable, we look forward to more frequent family hikes. Yesterday we went to Twin Falls State Park. (One thing I love about Seattle is the ability to be in the wilderness in less than an hour.) Energy and enthusiasm were high on the way to the falls; halfway back Cal started to get tired. As we were sitting on a log resting, I overheard a Dad playing a game with his daughter. They were taking turns telling each other a Tall Tale: one person came up with the topic, the other person told a Tall Tale about it. Brilliant, right? I never would have thought it necessary to come up with something to 'do' under these circumstances, but a story as a distraction worked brilliantly to get Cal back to the car mostly powered by his own two feet. And we both got to use our imaginations and be entertained in the process.


Saturday, May 23, 2009

Happiness Is...


Happy Memorial Day weekend! We're looking forward to lots of carefree time at the beach, catching up with friends, eating outside, working in our garden; in general enjoying this weekend that marks the beginning of summer, soaking up the warm weather and sunshine.

I hope your holiday weekend is full of similar moments of leisure and play! I'll be back on Tuesday. xoxo

Friday, May 22, 2009

Erin Blogs: Mom Love

I recently asked Erin if she would be a guest here and write about motherhood. She graciously agreed and requested to do it today, her birthday! What a perfect way to celebrate a birthday: giving tribute to the one who gave you life. If you haven't already, be sure to check out her blog, House on Hill Road, full of beautiful photography and words, and her sewing, knitting, embroiderery, and cooking. Happy Birthday, Erin!


My mother gave me thick hair and blue eyes, fair skin and freckles. She taught me to write my name and how to bake. She made me a reader and lover of books. She passed on her appreciation for collections and started a few of mine. She gave me her sense of colors and taught me how high to hang a picture. She drove me to soccer practices and swim meets and paid for lessons of all sorts. She taught me good table manners just in case I was invited to eat at the White House. She let me have the yellow carpet in my room when she really wanted the green. She bought me the Izod shirts and Tretorn sneakers but would never let me have clogs. She made braided ribbon barrettes for my hair and bought me beads for friendship pins. She always makes sure there is an apple pie on Thanksgiving because it’s my favorite. She took me skiing at age 3 and pretty much every year after that. She drove me to college and didn’t cry until she was on her way home. She kissed my scraped knees and wiped away my tears. She cooked my favorite meal on my birthdays. She bought me my first sewing machine. She still has a sweater I knit her although it is really way too big. She was there when I gave birth to my babies. She trusts my judgment although she sometimes disagrees. She is sensitive and thoughtful, kind and caring, generous and gracious. She is beautiful inside and out. She supports me. She has loved me every day for the last 38 years. And I know it. I always have.

I hope my kids know I feel the same way about them. Because I gave them thick hair, blue eyes and freckles. I correct their spelling and make them hold their pencils correctly. I let them stay up reading because they love their books. I let them crack the eggs and measure the flour. I add to their bottle cap collections. I encourage them to draw and then hang up their drawings. I sit through volleyball practices and watch their swim meets. I tell them to chew with their mouths closed and to put their napkins on their laps. I’m repainting their rooms because they want a change. I let them wear clogs. I have pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving because that is their favorite. I kiss scrapes and wipe away tears, too. I take them skiing. I cried when they left kindergarten, but didn’t let them see me. I go to California Pizza Kitchen and Red Robin on their birthdays because that is what they choose. I rethread the toy sewing machine 15 times in 20 minutes. I keep all their love notes. I want to be there when they have their babies. I respect their differences although I sometimes don’t understand. I have loved them from the moment they were born.

Being a mother is a precious gift. I feel blessed to have learned from the best.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

communication


I found this scene after Abbott went to school yesterday...

Monday, May 18, 2009

words to live by


I hope your weekend was all you hoped for! It was gloriously summery here; we enjoyed some time at our neighborhood pool for the first time this year, and playing at the beach, among other things.

Recently Abbott's first grade class came up with these goals for their PE class; to me, they seem like great goals for life:

1. Play fairly and by the rules.
2. Be nice to each other.
3. Solve problems with words, and using nice voices.
4. Worry about YOU--not everyone else. It takes a lot of negative energy to worry about everyone else.
5. Don't make assumptions - talk to the person before assuming the worst when you don't know the whole story.



I hope your week's off to a great start!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

on parenting

Thank you all for taking the time to leave me a question via the comments and email earlier this week (I wondered if anyone would). You asked really good questions, just the kind of things I'd want to know about you.

From Patricia: "Everything you do looks good and happy. Is there ever any bad, a bad day where you might just lose it, or scream at someone? What is your strength? What is your weakness?"

From Heidi: "What are your toughest challenges in being a mom and how do you get through them?"

What you see and read here are glimpses of parts of my life and how I see it. I've never thought of this blog as a journal. I have days that are so full of difficulty I find it hard to catch my breath. I have difficult moments in almost any day: what household with small children can honestly say they don't? The thought that anyone would think that what I write about makes them feel inadequate is the last thing I would hope for. Many writers and bloggers find relief and comfort in sharing their hardest moments of parenting, and I do enjoy reading those stories. I'm just not inspired to write about that. This blog was started as a space for me to find and focus on the beauty in my life. My deepest hope is to inspire you to look for and create moments of beauty for yourself.

My greatest strength is probably my organizational/analytical side; it drives me to do things like make lunches the night before to make things easier in the morning.

My greatest weakness is probably impatience.

My biggest challenge as a parent right now is resisting the temptation to 'rescue' the boys from their problems, and rob them of that learning experience. That's hard for me.

A general key to a happy household for us is getting enough sleep: I am fairly rigid about bedtime (7 - 7:30pm for the boys). I read books about parenting (yes I'll post about my favorite books soon) that help me understand what is developmentally appropriate, and give me ideas and inspiration for guiding our family through these childhood years. I have a number of emotion coaching type children's books that I go through with the boys. I send them to schools that place a strong emphasis on social and emotional development. Our church has a parenting group led by a parent educator that meets monthly; this group is a source of support and information for us.

I get through the challenging moments by doing my best to get enough sleep - everything is easier to handle when I'm well-rested. Exercise keeps me feeling good, feeling optimistic. I commiserate with friends and my husband. It helps knowing that at the end of the day the kids will be asleep, and I'll get to do something relaxing. Sometimes in a particularly challenging moment I take a long trip to the bathroom with the door locked. I try to recite the pledge of allegiance (in my head, not aloud) before speaking when I'm upset.

Thank you for your questions and for joining me on this ride!

Monday, May 11, 2009

feeling the love


Today, I'm grateful for...

extra sleep over the weekend
folded laundry, courtesy of my husband
blooming tulips
family bike rides
the love of my family
time in the sun
ducks to feed

Enjoy your day!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

weapons will be checked at the gate


Since Abbott was a toddler, I've seen an increasing fascination with simulating the use of weapons, making weapons, repurposing everyday items into weapons, despite being a TV free, no-weapon-toys family. Undoubtedly there are theorists out there who've written about this; I know my boys aren't the only ones who play in this way. Recently Abbott and Cal found their (ahem) dusty Family Story Bible. I overheard Cal say to Abbott, "Will you read this to me? It's a fighting book!" And since that find, Abbott has read it cover to cover several times, as much for the 'fantasy' aspect as the fighting stories, I think. I was inspired to get the boys a beautifully illustrated book of Norse Myths, and I've put in an order for D'Aulaires' Book of Greek Myths. Perhaps Medieval history should be next on our reading agenda - any recommendations?

Monday, May 4, 2009

crafting, biking and building


Such a glorious weekend. The sun, a whole day spontaneously spent with friends, time at the beach, bike riding...just about perfect.



Alexi and I attended a Food Allergy Initiative dinner that was very thought provoking; chefs Johnathan Sundstrom and Tom Douglas spoke eloquently about the slow food movement and its importance globally, for health and for those with life threatening food allergies.

And Alexi got Abbott started on a cross stitch project. (Yes, Alexi is the adult member of our family who can sew, thanks to medical school; he can also knit, thanks to his mother.) I value our family creating time so much.



I hope your week's off to a great start!