Saturday, December 26, 2015

This is Christmas

This was the weather on Christmas Eve. No snow, but dark and dramatic skies, chilly temps, rain.

These were the treats I made: Chess Pie Tarts. At some point (I think as a teenager?) they became a treat I equated with Christmas and hence something I want to taste at Christmastime. I am the only one who likes them in this house. I'm proud of myself for only eating four between Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

This is a glimpse at some of the twelve year old's haul.  Hey Molly, make sure you get right in there, and make yourself NICE and comfortable.  

This is a shot with my ten-year-old and both of us are wearing Christmas finery.  It was fun to see her getting into the giving spirit on Christmas. It's her specialty.
This is another thing baked on Christmas eve: Christmas cookies. 
My husband made them, the girls did the decorating. 
These are this year's Christmas PJs. 
They say PUMP UP THE JAMMIES. 

Marguerite, on Christmas
This is when I mention Christmas books, wrapped and given with our PJs on Christmas Eve, even at the age of ten and twelve.  Julia got Marguerite's Christmas and Avery got The Nutcracker
Elizabeth Zwerger's Nutcracker is especially good.

Molly's wondering where her book is but she didn't get a book. 
This is a great game: The Awkward Family Photo game
It's Apples to Apples with choice movie quotes and hilarious photos thrown in: a good time.  
This the view I've had from the couch in the quiet moments of the last few days and this is the movie menu: Christmas in Connecticut, Holiday Inn, A Very Merry Mix-Up, Just in Time for Christmas, Christmas Land, (My fave of Hallmark's holiday movies) The Family Stone, Home Alone, Christmas Vacation, Love Actually, Miracle on 34th Street, and White Christmas. This was my first year really watching Miracle on 34th Street. Loved it.

This year I discovered Chicago's Christmas album. Took me thirteen years to figure that one out. It's the harmony and the horns and the fact that they were the backdrop to so many moments in jr.  high that makes me enjoy their take on holiday faves.

This is a sample of some of the serious coloring I did on Christmas eve whilst watching Christmas movies using this coloring book. I know. Coloring. 

This Christmas business is hard to put a lid on. I feel that way every year. I want it to linger and last; it'll never be like it is right now. Here's hoping you made some choice memories this year, that you soaked up what is, now, while it is. 

Friday, December 18, 2015

If you want to feel the season, really FEEL the stuff of the season, spend some time watching second graders bequeathing gifts upon their teacher.

Before peeking into any tissue, the teacher tells them, "You're so kind, look at all the treats you gave me!" Without missing a beat, one kid belts, "You're kind, we get to do something for YOU!"

The gifts range from Pinterest-inspired, parentally-executed masterpieces to loving sentimental odes captured on a simple sheet of ruled paper.  All receive the pleased teacher shrug, the exaggerated gush, the opening and thanking and beaming.

The magic? It's in watching their faces as they watch her open their gift. It's the way they skip away, light and pleased with themselves afterwards. It's in the way the ones who did nothing want to do something, too. One proclaims that he will give her his mom's recipe for "These things called Haystacks, you can put basically anything in them."

To witness any teacher sufficiently loved by the children in her life, that's the magic of the season.

Don't worry, I soaked it up, real good.

Happy holidays, everyone!

Friday, October 16, 2015

"...All of growth, healing and progress begins with Stopping......You stop hitting the snooze button. You wake up--this is it! Not a dress rehearsal, not practice for when you get it all together, because you never will. Name one person who ever has...So you start...You ask yourself how alive you're willing to be. Are you ok with current levels, of presence, immediacy, laughter? Or do you long for a wilder, truer life, a goofier-duckier life?

Maybe go outside...Maybe look up at the wild canopy or stars overhead, those goofy birds? If bird song were the ONLY proof there was a God--an intelligent love energy of some sort--it would be enough for me. Thrush, chickadees, loons? I'm in. Maybe go to church, temple, mosque, dance class, a room of recovery, a concert--where you can hook into something much bigger and lovelier than your own mind? That's heaven for me....

So stop, go, wake up, spritz yourself with a plant mister of living water. Cry more--cleanse your soul, hydrate, baptize, grow the seeds at your feet. Laugh more: It's the life-iest thing we do.....You are loved and chosen; as is--annoying, motley you! Me! We heal in community; so find one. We want you. As Frederick Buechner wrote, "The grace of god means something like: Here is your life. You might never have been, but you are because the party wouldn't be complete without you. 
Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don't be afraid." 
-Anne Lamott

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Back

The thing I wondered about, waited for, thought was going to happen, happened.

I'm back to work full time this fall, teaching second grade.

My principal asked me not long after I wrote this post, and I said an enthusiastic YES without pause. It was time. And now, here I am.

The things I love about teaching lured me back: the creative outlet, the people, the growth, the inspiration. The things that are TOUGH won't scare me away, but often leave me exhausted, limply clutching the many balls I'm juggling.

It's going to be quite a year of personal growth.

 

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Longview, For the Heck of It

Elderberry
On our way south from a Seattle adventure last Sunday, I was determined to stop in Longview for a walk around Lake Sacajawea.  If ever you need a pit-stop along I-5, Longview is a pretty little spot to do so if you can land along Lake Sacajawea.

We lived in Longview until I was five, in the above 40's era-house. Those tree-lined streets surrounding Lake Sacajawea were where I experienced a lot of my earliest happinesses through the plants we grew in our yard, preschool, the birth of a new brother, etc.
Nothing but old elms lining many of the streets. Above is Kessler Ave. where I remember going "cruising" with my cousin Janet and her boyfriend. One of her boyfriend's friends saw my blond head in the seat next to them and asked, "Who's the peach?"

Longview is known for its' Squirrel Bridges. We saw three of the four on our visit.
 There's even a live Squirrel Cam on this one.
Later in August the town will celebrate Squirrel Fest in honor of the little guys. 

The library deserves its' own mention. I have good memories of gathering books in the basement of this beautiful old building.



There are so many beautiful trees, many with placards so you can read what kind they are.
Avery laid down on the grass to get this shot.
Was I tree once? Tria? I'm such a freak about them, and am happiest when in their shade.

Check out these London Plane trees, or as I refer to them: Sycamores. 
Look at this HUGE Beech.... 
Its' roots extend down to the waters edge. Beech are among some of my favorite trees, for sure.
I remember the sound of bike tires and skidding gravel on this metal bridge. It got very hot in the sun.

We even picked up some seafood takeout at a place with the most hilarious name ever:  Freddy's Just For the Halibut, which had REALLY good clam chowder and halibut. Dang.




Friday, July 10, 2015

Summer So Far

Under the St. John's Bridge

Summer I love you so much! Summer, you are so good to me! Summer, don't ever go away!

For whatever reason, this summer has been relaxing and perfect. It's always good, but each year it changes depending on what we have scheduled, the kids ages, etc. I am lucky as a teacher to get to be off with the girls, so our days can be whatever we want for the most part, which is such a luxury. That and our big two week family vacation is in August, vs. June/July, so we can float for awhile, no major force marches or over-scheduled weeks wearing us out, nothing taxing, nothing to stress about, an adventure tossed in at just the moment we seemed to need one, even if said adventure started with resistance amongst the troops, as adventures often do.

We took a trek into PTown to try Milk Glass Market
So. Adventuring. I've been wanting to try this place for awhile, lured by its' pretty wall of pods and fronds, I mean how pretty is that? A summer Tuesday afternoon fresh from my Weight Watchers weigh-in was the perfect time-no line, our pick of tables, yummy things from which to choose from on the menu. Avery enjoyed the homemade focaccia and Julia, the chocolate cream pie.
I fell in love with tomato jam. Where has it been all my life?

We zipped into Pips another day because I'd been eager to try their iced matcha latte. 
Tasty and pretty.
The girls have each been making dinner one night a week. Best idea ever and they're both really into it. It presses me to have good groceries on hand, but also for us to plan and shop together. This idea was stolen from a very wise mom friend and I thank her for it! (Thanks Gwynn!)
Here Julia makes cottage cheese pancakes
I've been enjoying reading. So far I've finished Me Before You and The First Bad Man both which I really liked.  You can read my reviews of each here. I am reading a really good teacher book, which is awesome, and just started David Sedaris' newest Let's Explore Diabetes With Owls. He is the type of funny that I find myself wanting to read aloud to someone, so we can laugh together at his phraseology and musings.

I read Tuck Everlasting to the girls. That book has some beautiful writing in it and is so perfect for a summer read. Now we're reading The Canning Season, another set-during-summer book. I am getting such a kick out of it. Upon reading reviews for this, there are two camps: the book-banning types who balk at profanity and deem it unacceptable for kids and then types like me who love its' bizarre characters and witticisms. At ten and twelve the girls seem un-phased and laugh along with me, so it's been fun to stay up late reading it to them.

Still on tap, weekend jaunts to Eugene and Seattle to see friends, our two weeks at the cabin in August, a few camps for the girls, and guaranteed other goodnesses. The best thing is, summer has really only just begun......
And what have you been up to?

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Camp Jam 2015


Picture a harried teacher, attending two full days of inservice to wrap up the school year, her brain  having already left the building. The car was packed with sleeping bags and empty jam jars, flashlights and pectin. At the end of the tunnel was a light, and that light was what would kick summer off properly: Camp Jam 2015.
The four fine ladies pictured here and wearing our Camp Jam t-shirts are the masterminds behind Camp Jam. We loved the idea of getting our kids together for a chance to hang out during the summer, make jam, and camp in one family's backyard. Of course it gave US a chance to hang out, too.

We met in 2006 when our children were three and four-year-olds at Hillsboro Parent Preschool.
Those same "children" are now going into seventh grade. WOAH! 


 These jammy campers were the two younger siblings in attendance.

 Katrina has a pizza oven in her backyard and she ROCKED the pizza oven skills. There's a definite science to heating the coals and managing the temperature. Luckily, her husband, traveling in Japan, was available to virtually advise. Britany rocked the pizza construction. They turned out very tasty.
                  
The weather was PERFECT!!!! Not too hot, not too cold, just right.
There were s'mores done in the pizza oven, too. 

Thank heavens and Lord Love a Duck for friends and time together. 

I Worried




















I worried a lot. Will the garden grow, will the rivers 
flow in the right direction, will the earth turn 
as it was taught, and if not how shall 
I correct it? 

Was I right, was I wrong, will I be forgiven, 
can I do better? 

Will I ever be able to sing, even the sparrows 
can do it and I am, well, 
hopeless. 

Is my eyesight fading or am I just imagining it, 
am I going to get rheumatism, 
lockjaw, dementia? 

Finally I saw that worrying had come to nothing. 
And gave it up. And took my old body 
and went out into the morning, 
and sang.


–Mary Oliver
Swan: Poems and Prose Poems

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Out and About

Angry Chicken wrote awhile back about Maplewood Coffee and Tea and her post motivated me to investigate, as all the best blog posts do. I'm so glad I did because it is ever-so-charming and sweet, nestled in the Maplewood neighborhood and featuring really great coffee and yummy treats. 
                                      
Avery and I attended a craft night there on a lazy Friday night and made treats for birds out of old bread cut with cookie cutters and pressed into bird seed. Sitting and working on a project together while nibbling goodies was so fun! The spot we claimed opened up into the outdoors.....


I have been back a few times, with friends for coffee, with my girls for an after school treat, and I recently brought my mom, who was visiting from out of town.  I loved showing her this place because it delighted her as much as me. I loved sitting with her enjoying an iced coffee and one of my favorites: a cappuccino creme made by Two Tarts
I would highly recommend stopping by.  If you have little people, there's also a playroom in the back, just about the CUTEST playroom ever. 

We've been back fairly often considering it's NOT in our neighborhood but oh how I wish it was, allowing me to walk there and linger on a warm evening under lush maples.....