Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Justice Delayed

My Dad has had a beard most of my life. Its had a life of its own - various lengths, bushiness, scraggliness, groomedness (I made that word up), but its always been there. Just part of the landscape of his face. I always thought (still do) that it helped add up to his general handsomeness.

One day, when I was in high school, he came home with some bad news. Company policy had changed and all employees needed to be clean shaven for safety reasons, regardless of their (lack of) risk. Everyone in the family thought that, despite the obnoxiousness of the edict, it was going to be so much fun to find out what he looked like without that beard. Would he have a jaw (or be chinless like me? Why must that be my fate??!!) Would his skin be 8 or just 4 shades lighter than the rest of his face? Would mom have to knit him one of those special "beard hats" to keep his delicate skin warm during the harsh Maine winters? (I made that last one up, but it would have been kind of funny!)

the adult version was too creepy to show!

I was not wondering any of those things. I was 100% against any and all beard removal.

A couple of nights later I came home from basketball practice, innocent, happy, and unsuspecting. There in the dining room was my Dad, busy reading a book. I should have clued into something sinister going on since he was STANDING in the MIDDLE of the DINING ROOM "reading a book" and my brother and sister were flitting around him with excitement and anticipation, but, as I mentioned, I was innocent and naive.

Then he lowered the book.

And a stranger with my Dad's voice said "hi".

And I burst into tears and cried for a week.

I'm not even joking.

My Dad drove me to school and every morning that week we sat in silence as I tried not to cry. Because, as soon as he said anything the tears would spill out and make me even more pathetic.

Yes, I eventually got over it but, I also breathed a HUGE sigh of relief when he got a new job and grew that beard back right away!

Note: my brother thought I was totally ridiculous during this entire episode.

Justice Delayed:
I got a note from my sister-in-law the other day which said (I've replaced the names, don't be confused):

"We just thought of you because 'my brother' shaved off his beard and 'my sweet little niece' cried. He had a temporary mustache which was what really freaked her out! 

I replied back:

That is hysterical!!! I am in complete sympathy/empathy/horror with her! It is terribly traumatizing!!! 

So there. It's not just me!

Monday, February 27, 2012

30 seconds

We finally made it down the stairs and I had both girls strapped into their car seats; off to ballet class after much discussion about what to wear, which shoes were appropriate and why her hair shouldn't hang in her eyes while she dances... We're on a schedule here!

As we pulled away there was a sudden panicked cry. "I need my blanket!"

"No you don't. You can't dance with your blanket. It'll be safe in the house and waiting for you when you get home."

And then I heard the tears in her voice. "But I wanted to take it with me."

I stopped, I sighed with the burden, I leaned towards teaching her a lesson about being responsible for her possessions and prioritizing wants versus needs, I looked at the clock counting down the minutes.

And then I backed up, ran into the house and grabbed the carefully placed so she wouldn't forget it blanket waiting on the futon.

And those teary eyes, the arms cradling the pink polka dots and the hint of a smile - they inspired my little prayer of thanks that I'd chosen those 30 seconds to nurture her little heart rather than adding a tiny little crack. Adulthood adds enough cracks as it is.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Rainy Season

Can you believe that this is the first pair of rain boots (wellies - awesome word!) I've owned despite living in the Pacific Northwest for the last sixteen years?

(I just FREAKED OUT when I realized that I've been here for 16 years!!!!  I'm like a real (pretend) adult - I've lived in ONE spot (well, region. I can console myself with that) for over a decade!!! I'm not sure what to do with this information except worry about my impending death because I might be A LOT OLDER than I think I am!!!)

Thursday, February 23, 2012

My Mess

My mind is a snarled mess of thoughts, so tangled that I can't find a full one; just snippets and hints of ideas that taunt me as I follow the string until it gets lost in the giant knot again.

It's driving me crazy!

How to turn my tangles into this...???
image from Attic24, she's an amazing yarn artist

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

I Love Reading

I'm back! My brain decided that since Monday was an official holiday it was going to take an entire week off...I think it's switched itself back on now.
I've started reading consistently again. Yay!! That first baby year is really not conducive to reading much of anything, at least when there's another kid in the mix. Now, of course, I've got a huge backlog of books to get through and, as I've been choosing which one to start next (!), I've started thinking about what I really like reading (at least right now.)

I went back to some of the reviews I've posted (mostly on Do you know that website? It is one of my favorites!) and re-played various conversations I've had recently about books and a couple of words keep coming up.

Redemption and Grace.

I like books with happy endings, hopeful endings, endings that reassure me that people can and will be stronger, nicer, and more forgiving. Wrongs will be avenged and lives are in a better place when I turn that final page. It doesn't have to be wrapped up with a little bow every time, although sometimes that's nice. I just want to know that they're on their way to a better place, internally and externally.

No, it's not always real life, but that's not necessarily why I read. I've got plenty of real life all around me. I'll take some angst and I'll eat up conflict, war, and trauma if the payout in the end is worth it. I want to suffer so long as I can fly with ecstasy when wrongs are finally righted, futures open up wide, and love becomes true.

Why do you read??

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


I took a whole bunch of photos yesterday to document my "hard work" to celebrate Valentines day. Alas, they are still on my camera because I can't find the cable to download them.

I'll just say it was a fun day with a decorated door in the morning, little Valentine flags in their bananas at breakfast, and heart shaped peanut butter and jelly sandwiches...then I ran out of steam.

Oh, and I thought make Steve one of his favorite dinners - spaghetti with marinara sauce. I managed to burn the onions, forget the garlic all together and used at least 6 month old wine that smelled like vinegar and had gotten lost in the back of the pantry because I didn't have any good stuff on hand (!)

Nothing says Happy Valentine's Day like messing up the meal you can make in your sleep!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Quiet Time Quilt

I finally pulled apart the crib bedding I made for Sweetpea to make a "Quiet Time Quilt". I did the same thing with the bedding I made for The Princess' crib. (See what it looked like originally here)

I have been calling The Princess' quilt her "Quiet Time Blanket" and she, of course, picked up on the discrepancy immediately and, even though I've been trying to convince her that they are EXACTLY THE SAME except for the fabric print, she's convinced that I either need to give her the new quilt, or make another one for her...

I still had a lot of scraps so I thought I'd do a little more for their room...I'm slow on the decorating front, but it came out pretty cute I think (so far).

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

I'm not really a teacher

Our experiences impact our perspective on life, on the world, on our dreams for the future, and our passions at the moment. So, I'm collecting my experiences and my memories as I continue to figure out who I am in this world.

While in college, I lived in Ivory Coast for a semester. I lived with two Ivorian families, one in Abidjan, the capital, and one out in the western part of the country close to the Liberian border; so close to the border that the town had doubled in size because of the refugee population fleeing their civil war. I taught 7th grade science to those refugee children – a classroom with ages that spanned from 13 years to 20 years because schooling had been so disrupted by war. I tried my best to teach, with one book for the entire class and one notebook for each student. I was strict, wanting to do a good job with these students who knew they were privileged to be in school, but also distracted with having a white American girl teaching them. There was lots of laughter and teasing and trying to get out of homework and tests. Looking back, I think that perhaps, though schooling was important, maybe just as important was the fact that they had a routine, they had somewhere safe to be, they had stable adults and expectations they could count on each day. Maybe the grade they received in their life science class was the least of the goals for the school…

I was overwhelmed with the Liberian population. I knew of the country – recognized the name, that it existed somewhere on the continent, recalled a vague connection with the U.S.…that’s about all I knew. And yet, when I arrived I was faced with hoards of kids and a group of teachers who threw questions at me constantly. You see, Liberia was originally settled by slaves from the United States. Their capital is Monrovia (named after President Monroe), their currency is the dollar, and the national language is English (though I struggled at first to understand what they were saying as much as I did my French speaking family). The questions weren’t about where I was from, how many siblings I had and what I ate – I was prepared for those. The questions were about U.S. politics, upcoming elections, what did the American people think about their civil war, how up to date were the politicians on their situation, did the American people know how much the food aid we were sending was helping them, were they collecting money to help with the civil war?

How do you tell a people so intimately connected with your country that, actually, less than 1% of the population probably even knows of their country’s existence, much less the historical connection between the two countries, or that we were even sending aid (food and possibly other aid? I have no idea.)? I stammered through my answers, trying to tell the truth diplomatically without crushing hope – that excited hope I saw in their eyes.

It’s not that we don’t care, I know this. It’s that we don’t know. There’s so much to learn about history and current events, we can’t know everything but it was still humbling to see the visceral connection they felt with my country and know that it wasn’t returned. My time with my students, their families and the Liberian community was happy and humbling, inspiring and depressing. I watched soccer games, joined in church services, and attended the end of the school year celebration. I struggled to teach students my age who had more experience with horror than I will most likely ever accumulate in my lifetime. I received thank yous for my meager teaching skills (not what I was studying to be) and admonishments to keep my community (so disconnected and isolated compared to their own) educated about their country.

I was taken to the food distribution center and saw my own students in line for their weekly ration of rice, corn, and oil. I walked through the warehouse and saw the stack of bags and rows of cans, all stamped with “United States”, ready to be doled out to those who had no other resources, dependent on others for their survival, hoping to go home to restart their lives and make it on their own.

It’s a complicated world and I can easily be cynical about the United States’ position in the world. So many of our government actions speak of selfish interests and blind ambition that I get discouraged, and even the good things we do around the world start feeling tainted. But, I don’t want to believe that every act of kindness, relief, or fight for justice is purely selfish. Sometimes the desire is right, even if the action gets skewed and doesn’t play out exactly as we’d hoped. Mostly, it comes down to being personal. Because when it's personal the giver can be sincere, the recipient can be thankful, and much of the "politics" are covered with grace.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Walking all over my heart

I found these shoes when Sweetpea was tiny enough to sleep in the left one. On sale - I grabbed them and put them away not really believing she'd ever actually wear them.

This afternoon I slipped them over her little toes with a sigh, and then she stood up and walked away.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Wind Storm

Our last hiking trip to Multnomah Falls was such a hit that we're trying to do more of it. In spite of the strong winds, we made a trip out to Beacon Rock this weekend.

Strong winds doesn't really capture what was going on. We're talking what felt like gale-force, hurricane strength gusts. The Princess was almost blown over in the parking lot.

Steve asked me at one point if we were crazy parents for bringing our children out in it but then we ran into other families so we knew that we weren't alone in questionable parenting! Luckily, most of the switchback trail was on the side blocked from the wind.

The Princess enthusiastically tackled the trail, hiking with constant commentary until we rounded a corner and the strength of the wind hit us full force (37 mph gusts). We stopped for a rest and then she said "I'm tired. I think we should go back down."

I assured her that we were almost there, just five more minutes and she'd reach the top. "But I'm feeling a little nervous so I think we should go down." I assured her that I'd hold on tight so she decided that she could make it. We got to the top and braced ourselves for a few minutes - that's as long as she could stand it before we were headed back down and, as soon as we were out of the wind, she was happy.

We had lunch in Stevenson and then headed home. As we drove past the rock again I pointed it out to her and congratulated her on how high she'd climbed. "Yeah, but I don't ever want to do that again. I was too nervous." she answered. A mental note has been made to check the wind forecast next time we go out!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Best Commercial EVER

One day I will expound on my Star Wars obsession...

Until then I will just say that this is the best commercial ever made and I hope they run it forever.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012


The Princess is well known for her reticence. She’s one who studies the situation carefully and, six months later, if she’s comfortable, she’ll start to interact with the kids and adults in said situation. She’s extremely confident, outgoing and talkative at home but is still practicing interacting with the rest of the world. We’re encouraging but not demanding about it. Emotions of all kind tend to overwhelm her.

I wasn’t sure how she’d react to her first ballet class. When we went to Target to buy her leotard, tights and shoes she was so overwhelmed with the idea that she could hardly make eye contact with me. The day of the first class she was twirling and screeching with abandoned excitement all morning, right up until we got in the car. And then she was silent, wrapped up carefully in her thoughts.

We arrived early so that we could check out the classroom without an audience. She was happily intrigued with the bar and mirrors. Finally, little girls started showing up and, with eyes carefully watching the activity, she quickly put on her shoes. Then she straightened her back, picked up her chin, and walked into that classroom like she owned it. As she crossed the threshold she turned and waved with a smile and then sailed into a conversation between two other little girls and proceeded to lead them all in some graceful little girl stretches and races until the teacher arrived.

Parents were allowed to watch the first class so we sat at the edge of the room as ten little girls turned into graceful ballerinas and I snapped picture after picture of The Princess’ back, completely forgotten as she concentrated on first position and leaping across the room. It was breathtaking to see a glimpse of the confident woman she’s going to become.

And then when we had to leave, all of the emotions and adrenaline from the day came crashing down and she reminded me that she’s just four years old (thank goodness!) with a screaming tantrum as I carried her to the car.