Monday, January 31, 2011

lighter and sweeter


I am slightly conflicted as I think about the ending of this month. I'm always glad to see January go. And I'm aware, perhaps for the first time, that this winter's passage means my kids will be a year older next winter. I will be a year older. Time does not flow on indefinitely.

I'm feeling good at this point in time. I've been productive at home; I've settled into a satisfying domestic groove. Lots of organizing and making things better. Making myself better.

Reading Charlotte's Web over the weekend with the kids I found a particular truth in the passage below. I'm coming to think that winter's spiritual intention involves quiet waiting.

"What do people catch in the Queensborough Bridge - bugs?" asked Wilbur. "No," said Charlotte. "They don't catch anything. They just keep trotting back and forth across the bridge thinking there is something better on the other side. If they'd hang head-down at the top of the thing and wait quietly, maybe something good would come along. But no - with men it's rush, rush, rush, every minute. I'm glad I'm a sedentary spider." - Charlotte's Web, E.B. White.

I am appreciating the ever lengthening days, the first of the buds. My friend Valerie today wished me a happy February, lighter and sweeter days. I do welcome them. xo

Sunday, January 30, 2011

suffice it to say

We're better for these couple of days we've had together. I hope your weekend was nice, too.

Best wishes for the start of your week.

Love,
Lecia

Friday, January 28, 2011

Happy Weekend!


Hello there, and happy Friday! What will you be doing over the next couple of days? We've got hockey and more hockey on the agenda. We're planning to see the Harry Potter exhibit one more time before it closes. I'm hoping to make a batch of scones; I've been craving them all week.

Thank you so much for your sweet comments this week. Enjoy your weekend.

Love,
Lecia

PS - Movies About Forgiveness

Thursday, January 27, 2011

from Thursday evening

This day began with fog and foghorns, eggs over easy and cinnamon toast. I'm a bit under the weather, and spent most of the day at home doing little more than some cooking, and noticing the light as it changed throughout the day, ending in an explosion of color.

A really wonderful video from Stockholm.

Looking for some laughs?

Vivian Maier, street photographer and nanny.

I hope you're having a nice week. xo

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

January 26

My kids - perhaps all children - really love surprises; believe every happy thing should be a surprise, whether on the giving or receiving end. Even the after school snack must be kept top-secret until it's served.

Enjoy your day. xoxo

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

layered


I woke up, hilariously, with my glasses on. They weren't on when I went to bed last night. It was one of those rare mornings when I woke of my own accord with plenty of time to spare.

At one point I got into a parenting situation that left me wondering if I'm really onto something, in terms of managing a difficult behavior, or if this morning will be remembered by Cal as a dark moment in his childhood.

On my run I saw buds! Not many, but incredibly, optimistically there.

For the first time in a while, I left the house in a coat without a hood.

In love with the layers of light and shadow and color today.

Monday, January 24, 2011

about the salad

Some time ago, I mentioned being smitten with a salad I'd made. Then December was upon us, and I had cookies much more on the brain than salad. Now that we are solidly in post-holiday winter, I'm ready to share it here. The key to this dish is having plenty of time...about 2 1/2 hours all told. Active time is around 20 minutes, and some minding.

I made this for the first time on Thanksgiving. I have a bad habit of making new recipes for the first time on major holidays and for dinner parties; I can't seem to stop myself. The results of this behavior have occasionally been embarrassing, sometimes due to my error, sometimes because the concept of the dish looked better than the reality. Happily for everyone present, this turned out to be fantastically delicious.

Farro is a wheat grain reminiscent of barley in appearance, with a slightly sweet, slightly nutty flavor. I love it.

Farro Salad with Oven-Roasted Grapes and Greens
adapted slightly from Martha Stewart Living, November 2010

3 cups seedless red grapes (about 1 pound), halved crosswise
1/4 cup best-quality grape juice
coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
8 ounces farro (about 1 1/2 cups)
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh rosemary
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 small red onions, sliced into 1/2 inch thick rounds
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar
4 cups mixed small greens such as baby kale, baby swiss chard, red mustard, red mizuna

1. Preheat oven to 250F. Arrange the grape halves in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle with 3/4 teaspoon salt. Bake until the grapes have shrunk to about half their size but are still juicy, about 1 hour 30 minutes.

2. While the grapes bake, place the farro in a medium sized bowl, cover with cold water, and soak for 30 minutes, then drain.

3. Combine the drained farro, 1 tablespoon rosemary, and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt in a medium saucepan; cover with water by 1 inch. Bring to a simmer, and cook until tender, about 30 minutes.

4. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a medium skillet over medium high heat. Cook the onions and remaining tablespoon rosemary for 2 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium, and cook until the onions are golden brown, about 2 minutes more. Flip the onions, and season with a pinch of salt. Cook, flipping, until the onions are tender and browned on both sides, about 10 minutes more. Remove from heat. Stir in vinegar and remaining 2 tablespoons oil. Pour the mixture and the grape juice over the farro; toss. Season with 1 teaspoon salt and a little bit of pepper. Let stand for 20 minutes.

4. Gently stir in greens just before serving. Arrange the salad on a platter.

Serves 12.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

a surprise encounter

Driving home from church early this afternoon, I spotted this eagle perched low in a tree on the ocean side of the street. I pulled over with the thought of taking a picture. It flew across the street to someone's yard, landed, picked up the straw you see in it's feet and then flew back across. Perhaps s/he's using the straw as an easy source of nest making material? I think the runner you see in the background (bottom picture) about had a heart attack at the sight of such a huge bird approaching it at close range.

This is blocks from where we live and the jogger you see is on the path I usually run on. I can't wait to show these pictures to the neighbor whose lawn the eagle was sitting on.

Hope you're enjoying your Sunday. xo

Friday, January 21, 2011

just right

Hello, hello! I don't know about you, but I couldn't be happier for the start of the weekend. Everyone in the family except me is a little sick, and we're looking forward to the down time.

Best wishes. xoxo Lecia

Thursday, January 20, 2011

oh, bother

Yesterday, Cal lost a tooth. On the way to bed tonight Abbott told me, with a grin and a cackle (fortunately out of Cal's earshot), that he recognized my handwriting on the tooth fairy's note. I flushed, was speechless for a moment and then told him not to tell Cal. Oof. (Normally Santa is the only one who leaves notes - typewritten, in a script-like font - around here; Cal got a note from the tooth fairy because he was so sad about the thought of giving up his tooth. The note said that he should keep it.) I probably shouldn't be as sad about this occurrence as I am, given that Abbott is eight years old and was bound to find out sooner than later who the tooth fairy is but that's just the way it is; I am. Going to sleep a very sad mama. xo

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

golden

I overslept. Miraculously I was not all that bothered by it; just figured we'd get to school on time, or not. When I raised the shades in the boys' room, there was the moon, huge, luminous, low on the horizon and reflected on the water. Rising or setting, I don't know which.

Later. In the car, heading to the Children's Theatre with a car full of kindergartners. "I've been looking forward to this for a long time." "Is it ok if I cough during the play?" "What if I think something's funny - is it ok to laugh? What if it's not supposed to be funny?" "Your car is almost as dirty as ours."

Later still. Alexi picks them up from school and from there they all go to hockey practice. I go running in the last of the daylight, the golden hour, though the light is more pale yellow than golden this time of year, I noticed. I'm not used to all the traffic noise I heard - it's really quiet mid-morning when I usually run - but I didn't mind. I thought about the drivers of those cars and how they must be so glad to be coming home to such a glorious evening, they must be in a hurry because daylight is fading fast.

Monday, January 17, 2011

that about sums it up

Alexi put together a great video of Abbott scoring a (hockey) goal and then receiving an MVP award for that game; you can see it here.

Over the weekend a car in front of us had a bumper sticker that read, 'Don't believe everything you think.'

together, safe


The weekend felt as long and restful, as full of friends and time together as I'd hoped it would. I hope yours was nice, too.

Moving through my shadowy house last night near midnight, I was acutely aware of its size, its solidity, its paradoxical peacefulness even as the wind raged outside. I felt complete calm; totally in it with Alexi as we moved bedding and kids to the first floor so we could all sleep in our office, the safest spot should a tree fall on our house. I woke up sore from sleeping on a fold out couch, but I didn't mind. The boys woke up surprised not to be in their own beds, excited, wanting to know when we could do it again. I found myself wondering the same thing. I'm not always one to do the thing that's disruptive, that doesn't involve staying in my warm and cozy bed, scared, just hoping the trees don't fall on us.

Martin's big words

"Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that."

-Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

I don't recall exactly when or how I learned about the civil rights movement. I have childhood memories of questioning my parents about their experiences growing up in the Jim Crow south. The recollections shared with me were of two sets of water fountains and restrooms in public buildings in larger towns, one labeled 'colored' and one 'white'. When my parents were in high school in the mid-sixties, the 'black' school was condemned and the schools became integrated at that time. Their impression was that friends were made fairly easily and there was never any trouble they saw or heard about. Throughout my childhood I never had a discussion about the significance of these realities for their sleepy farm town, or for us in the present time. My sense was, that's just how things were. And things are better now. And while there are plenty of prejudiced people, they are outnumbered by people who know better. I spent a portion of my early childhood in that same town in the seventies. My family attended the 'black' church, while my grandparents attended the 'white' church. My understanding is that many years after we moved to Alaska the two churches combined, though there were some who stopped attending after the merge.

Cal's kindergarten teacher introduced me to NurtureShock. “To be effective...conversations about race have to explicit, in unmistakable terms that children understand.” (Chapter 3, “Why White Parents Don’t Talk About Race,” p. 63) The authors recommend that such discussions occur early, in preschool and kindergarten when children are already beginning to form their understandings and attitudes about race. The chapter was excerpted in Newsweek over a year ago and is available here.

At school and at home, in preparation for Marthin Luther King, Jr. Day we've been reading about Dr. King's life and discussing concepts of discrimination, segregation, non-violent protest, fairness, and respect. We've also read about other people involved in the Civil Rights Movement such as Ruby Bridges (a courageous first grader who was involved in desegregating one of the elementary schools in New Orleans) and Rosa Parks (who refused to get out of her bus seat, thereby initiating the Montgomery bus boycott, one of the key events in Civil Rights history).

In recognition of this day, here is an excerpt from Martin Luther King, Jr's Last Speech (full text here):



And this incredible performance of We Shall Overcome.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

a long weekend


Thank you all for your nice comments, your suggestions, your commiseration about my January blues. I feel a little better already, just from having talked about it. Of course, it also helps that it's the weekend.

What are your plans for the next few days? I would love to see The King's Speech (Colin Firth!). Among other things, we'll be attending a couple of birthday parties. One of the families requested that if guests would like to bring a gift, to bring something for the Children's Hospital Wish List. (If you're looking to do some good, this would be a great place to start. Many of the need items are basic, like markers and Uno games.)

From my archives, in case you missed them:
What God Looks Like
Remembering Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

Have a wonderful long weekend. xoxo

Friday, January 14, 2011

January blues

January has never been my favorite month. The wet, the dark, the gray...they all start to seem endless. I've been feeling kind of overwhelmed this week. I made myself a list of strategies to help in the weeks to come:

1. Get outside and exercise immediately after getting home from taking the kids to school in the morning. I'm inconsistent about this (many days it's noon before I make it outside), but when I do it, I feel great the rest of the day.

2. Wear pretty shoes, a scarf, or some accessory every day. It can be a huge mood lift for me to put a bit of time and attention into how I look and have that to feel good about.

(Scarf pictured above was purchased here and is sold out; a new line will be available soon - add your name to the mailing list!)

3. Talk about how I feel more regularly to Alexi and friends.

4. Prioritize seeing friends regularly. Get out of the house!

5. Remember to listen to music! In general I like it quiet during the day, but when I'm down the quiet can feel oppressive.

I'd love to hear how you fight the blues.

xoxo Lecia

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

by heart

(at the Harvest Vine)

I spent the evening with one of my oldest friends.
It's fair to say there are times she knows me better than I know myself.
We caught each other up on the particulars of our relatives, of friends we have in common.
And then there was parenting - oh, parenting.
Probably half the conversation was about sleep.
I love the way she thinks.
They never seem to happen frequently enough, these evenings.
I'm heading to bed now, feeling full and loved.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

from Tuesday evening

Thank you so much - so much - for your heartfelt comments about Ellie. They mean the world to me and my family.

Somehow saying anything else seems like too little.

A few links:

I've been listening to the new decemberists on npr's website: peaceful, beautiful music (via Jennifer)
it's good to be a girl
snow on the beach
10 Ways to Get the Most Out of Technology

xoxo Lecia