Wednesday, December 3, 2014

SoCal escape


A few weeks ago we surprised the kids with an adventure. That morning, we told them they would not be going to school. Instead, we said, we'd be getting in the car and going somewhere exciting. We didn't say where or who we would see. They were remarkably patient for the 6+ hour drive!

Surprise No. 1: We met up with our best friends in Huntington Beach. They're traveling around the country in an RV for a year. In October, they spent a couple weeks with us, attended the kids' birthday party, and gave Kris and I a much-needed escape to Banff, Alberta for our 10th wedding anniversary. It was one of the sweetest gifts we've ever received.

From here, they moved on to SoCal for a month, and we couldn't resist meeting up again. Our kids love the beach and they had never been to Disney (Surprise No. 2), so Jes and I planned a special weekend to do just that!


The beach and being with friends was the highlight of the weekend, but I have to admit -- Disneyland* was pretty magical. Beforehand, it felt like an obligation, something you're supposed to check off your kids' bucket list. Go to Disney. I didn't expect I would enjoy it so much too.


Parades. Performances. Fun rides. Courteous staff. Character sightings. Holiday lights. It was a blast. And totally relaxed and doable with a lot of adults to tend to the kids' needs (Jes' parents, her sister and brother-in-law joined us too).


This is what it's all about. Lifelong friendships and shared adventures.




(No, Miles isn't really drinking a beer. It wasn't open.)




Look for some design changes coming soon to the blog. I'm working with a talented web developer to merge my blog and writing websites into one dynamic site. Stay tuned! 


*FTC disclosure: Special thanks to Disneyland for providing us two free park passes.


Friday, October 31, 2014

Halloween 2014




As usual, one kid changed costumes mere seconds before we set out to trick or treat.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Banff


To celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary, Kris and I traveled to Banff National Park in Alberta, Canada -- a destination that's long been on our bucket list for its sheer beauty and mountain culture.


It's the first time we've traveled together without the kids. No alarm clock. No agenda. Our best friends generously offered to stay with the munchkins back home, so we didn't have to worry about them one bit.


We hiked to a high-alpine tea house, rode the gondola to the peak of Sulpher Mountain and the Skywalk, ate amazing food, and just relaxed. Kris did some fly fishing too.





The fall weather was perfect. We're hoping to go back and ski sometime too!



Tuesday, October 21, 2014

5


"Mama, you're beautiful. And Daddy is a little bit awesome."

He ran to the mirror this morning to see if he looked different. Taller maybe? Or more grown up? "I feel braver," he said. 


Thursday, October 16, 2014

open wide!


Miles refused to eat his soup last night. Said he hated it... until Daddy offered him a fun new spoon! Then, suddenly it was the yummiest dinner ever. Crazy kid.

Monday, October 13, 2014

7


She's suddenly doing seven-year-old things. Dancing to popular music. Rolling her eyes. Saying things that stop me in my tracks for their depth and insight. We're reading chapter books as quickly as we can get our hands on them and enjoying the stories together. Little House on the Prairie. Runaway Ralph. The Boxcar Children. She is more aware than ever that she is her own person.

I love who she is. She is my little, tiny, grown-up girl.


Sunday, September 21, 2014

a vegetable garden in the desert




It's taken a few years of getting used to the climate, but we're finally feeling brave enough to try growing our own veggies. While many parts of the country are winding down their gardening season, ours is ramping up. High temps are dipping below 100 with lows in the upper 70s. Time to plant, we're told.



The kids had some practice at school. Each classroom includes outdoor space, and many classes tend their own garden. Last year, B's class grew enough veggies to make a salad at lunchtime.


We built two raised beds off the patio in our backyard. As the weather slowly cools down, we're hopeful for a nice crop of carrots, kale, mint, broccoli, onions, beets, basil, and more.


B found a variety of mint called "chocolate mint," which smells and tastes divine. Miles chose heirloom carrot seeds which yield purple, yellow, and orange carrots.


There's something magical about walking into your backyard and selecting fresh veggies. Let's hope we can keep them growing!

Saturday, August 16, 2014

this week, a taste of forever



B just sneaked into the pantry, reached behind the jars of pasta and spices and emerged with the TV remote control.

I flash her a sly grin that says, I see you. I know who you are, big sister, outsmarting your little brother. I did those things too.

She laughs and runs back down the stairs to watch Scooby Doo, because it's Saturday and because I said she could.

Last night in the wee hours Miles flipped on all the lights. His bedroom. Hallway. Bathroom. Master bedroom. A cold rush of light startled me awake but calmed him. I scared of the dark, Mama. I negotiated with him in the fractured, nonsensical way you do at 1 AM. Bathroom light only. Keep your door cracked open. I'll rub your back with lavender balm. 

They started school two weeks ago, opening up a wide expanse of time and space for me to write uninterrupted, to finally stop cobbling together a career in 90-minute time blocks between preschool drop-off and pickup and lunch and naps and bursts of inspiration at 10 PM when I'm too exhausted to act on them. I've never been a stay-at-home-mom in the traditional sense, because I was a professional writer first. But in the practical sense, I am home, have always been home -- near them, with them. My work came second, and while it wasn't always easy to explain, that felt right.

I map out my deadlines and sit down at my computer, but the house is full of echoes. I wonder how many years I have of looking at Bronwynn and instantly understanding her. I wonder if Miles will always be reassured by my presence at night. I want to gather up these moments and stow them like wood for next winter.

For the first time, I don't want to tidy up their toys while they're away. 

I feel lost and unfocused, and yet 3 PM comes quicker than I'd anticipated. After school they are full of energy, full of ideas, full of stories about the work they completed that day. One week in and Bronwynn has already worked with a model volcano, made it erupt. She's diagramming sentences, writing her own chapter books in sloppy cursive. Miles worked a geographic puzzle, counted seashells, made dinosaurs out of wooden blocks, learned to use a screwdriver correctly. 

Week two I settle into more of a routine. These are strange and amazing days, writing furiously without an eye toward the clock. Reconnecting with friends without someone tugging at my hem. Running (and showering immediately after). Eating a meal prepared just for me.

I borrow a little of my kids' work ethic, the Montessori philosophy that provides the time, space and materials to learn but allows the student the freedom to choose what they will pursue. They're learning time management, how to identify their own passions and areas of improvement. They are understanding when to ask for guidance and feedback. They are beginning to embrace living and working with integrity, effective communication, compassion, respect, peacefulness.

Through all of it they are finding themselves. So am I.

Friday, June 13, 2014

a few thoughts on burying your goldfish


There are parenting moments you prepare for. You read books, talk with other parents, research and form opinions. Breastfeeding. Potty training. Screen time. Discipline. Helicopter vs. free-range. Even before you hold your first child, you think about these things.

Then, there are other moments also common in parenting, that you give precious little thought to until they actually happen.

Like the day you look at the goldfish in his tank and realize he's swimming funny, kind of lopsided and slow, and you know the end is near. The goldfish your husband won at a carnival. You hadn't expected it to survive four days, but here he (she?) is nearly four years later, fat and proud. (S)he's dying, and you have to tell the kids. Or do you? What if you didn't tell them? Could you replace Goldie or quietly send him/her to a porcelain grave?

No, your kids are too smart for that. You have to tell them. You gather them 'round and show them the tank and explain the situation. Death is inevitable. Four years is a good, long life for a fish. We can be sad and happy at the same time.

They take the news well.

Hours pass and so does Goldie. You ask the kids what would feel right, and they request a burial. They paint a rock, a miniature headstone. You each say a few words and bury the fish under a mesquite tree. The service is brief, but poignant.

The next day the kids will visit Goldie's grave several times, missing him/her and also admiring their artwork on the headstone. The day after that, they visit less. And the day after that, Miles will visit just once, but the dog will follow him outdoors, sniff the grave, and before the sweet four-year-old can stop him, your dog (the pet you once referred to as your eldest child) will dig up the goldfish and eat it.

The dog will eat the goldfish.

Your kids will be traumatized. They will scream and cry and yell at the dog. And they will run to you in anguish and recount what happened.

And I am telling you now what no parenting book will tell you. There is no suitable response when the dog eats the goldfish. All you can do is hug your children and tell them you're sorry. There's no way to fix it. You can't make it better.

The four-year-old boy might suggest something gruesome. Can you guess what he suggests? He will remind you what happens to the things we eat and suggest waiting for Goldie to reappear in the yard. "We can just bury him again," he'll say.

No. Just, no.

Instead you'll promise to dig deeper graves for the pets. You develop a plan, a family protocol for pet burials. The six-year-old puts it in writing:
Pets.
Dig.
2 feet deep.
Maybe more.
Use shovel.

But the headstone is still there, and the body is just a shell for the soul, you tell them.

And maybe the headstone could use a little more glitter and paint?

Saturday, June 7, 2014

this week













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