Leave a comment

Daily Reflection: Rose, Bud and Thorn

At a dinner gathering a while ago, some friends of ours introduced us to the Rose, Bud and Thorn daily reflection activity. For those of you who have not heard of it, it works like this: You begin by reflecting on your day. The best part of your day is considered your “Rose”. The worst part of your day is your “Thorn,” and your “Rosebud” or “Bud” is something you are looking forward to (either later that day, or tomorrow). From searching the web I can see that it is often used as a classroom exercise or dinner table conversation starter, where each person takes a turn to share their Rose, Bud, and Thorn.

Here are my Rose, Bud and Thorn for today:

Rose: While I was driving Chloe to preschool this morning, I was singing along to Taylor Swift. Chloe exclaimed “Mama, you and the music sound the same! I can’t tell you apart at all!” Such a compliment, even from a four-year-old!

Thorn: Since Leo refuses to sit in a shopping cart, I’ve gone back to carrying him in the Beco on my back. I even gave him his beloved pacifier in the hopes of having a quiet 10 minute shopping experience. Instead, he spit the pacifier out on the floor, pulled my hair, yelled, purposefully spit saliva down my back and tried to bite a hole in my shirt. Seriously! My son does not like shopping. It’s strange because Leo is generally easy going. Anyway, not a fun experience.

Rosebud: I’m already looking forward to the weekend. Hopefully, we’ll be painting our bedroom. I’ve got a gallon of Benjamin Moore’s Natura paint waiting at the ready!

So, what was your Rose, Bud and Thorn for the day? Be sure to ask your husband or kids and see what they have to say. You may be surprised. 🙂

P.S. Here is a nice listing of the benefits of using the Rose, Bud and Thorn as a family conversation starter.


1 Comment

Out with the Kids: Into the Woods

I can’t believe it’s almost the weekend again! I got so much accomplished last weekend, including spray painting some kid furniture, organizing my craft drawers and purging a ton of stuff. For whatever reason I was highly motivated, and hope that some of that motivation will carry over into this weekend as well. We also had a day of fun family adventure, too! David decided we’d take the kids fishing, and despite the cold Pacific Northwest weather, that is what we did!

It isn’t always easy taking kids this young somewhere this remote. In fact, sometimes it is really hard. You can’t let them out of your sight for a minute. But it’s always worth it. The kids see and find all kinds of things, and I want them to have these experiences in nature, with no house for miles and miles. Of course, I would never take them out this far by myself, but with two parents (or people) its fine. It does take a bit of planning though.

For us, planning usually falls into three categories:

1. Food & Snacks.
2. Entertainment
3. Clothing & Gear

Food & Snacks are a given, especially on long trips. It is so much cheaper to bring food, and often the next town is too far away to bother. Also, snacks can work wonders on long car rides, so they really double as entertainment.

While we try to have the kids just look out the windows and talk about what we see (including songs, i spy, etc), sometimes its easier after a while to just hand Chloe her ipad and headphones. At twenty-months, Leo is a pretty good traveler. Sometimes he’ll nap or be content to snack on something. When that doesn’t work we’ll hand him back various toys (cars, little animals, small board books) and as a last resort sometimes we’ll hand him an iphone. Unfortunately, he isn’t into shows like Chloe is, but he has a few apps that interest him right now like Peekaboo Wild, Where’s Gumbo, Wheels on the Bus and Itsy Bitsy Spider (the two latter by Duck Duck Moose). When we get where we’re going there always seems to be plenty to do – in this case, collecting rocks, seeing waterfalls, and discussing how a beaver gnaws down trees with his teeth to make his home.

Lastly there is Clothing & Gear. If there is mud, the kids will fall in it. If there is water, the kids will splash in it. That is life. I know this and always bring a full change of clothes and shoes. One thing I always make sure the kids have is quality long-underwear, usually purchased on deep discount from REI outlet. Chloe’s old ones get handed down to Leo (which is why his current bottoms are pink, but now I am buying them in neutral colors). Diapers and wipes are also necessities. Gear depends on where we go, but I always bring our becco baby carrier and sometimes we’ll bring our Kelty backpack carrier as well. For this trip, David also brought our pop-up shelter, which works as a “base” and makes a nice covered place to share a meal or hang out.

Like I mentioned earlier, it isn’t always easy. But easy isn’t always as meaningful, either, is it? So the kids get dirty and wet and I let them, knowing we’re prepared to clean them up once we get back to the car. We also try and listen and let the kids tell us when they’ve had enough. If they are too cold or uncomfortable, then no fun will be had and that isn’t the point.

And then we arrive back home to our cozy house and warm beds and all is right with the world…

 


6 Comments

The “C” Word

Now that the kids are finally better, I’ve been reflecting on my week away. I am not sure how to share these thoughts here, or even if I should, though it seems inauthentic not to. While it affects me, the story is actually my mom’s, and she is a very, very private person. So private that I had to slowly coax the information out of her. Thank goodness for my sister, or I might not have known as soon as I did.

Not too long ago, my mom went to see her doctor because she wasn’t feeling well. She felt worn down all the time, in pain from rheumatoid arthritis in her legs and unable to sleep at night from high blood pressure. It didn’t help that she worked two full-time restaurant jobs, and was on her feet all day. Nor did it help that she didn’t have a single full day off. Anyone would recognize this as an unhealthy situation. When pressed, my mom would reply that she had no reason to stay at home. I also know that she was worried about having enough money to retire.

After a plethora of tests, they found something. It had been 6 years since her last mammogram.

Nobody wants to hear the “c” word. And when you are not a native English speaker, things become even more stressful and confusing. All those questions, all the forms that you can’t read and can’t fill out properly, all the big words and painful tests become overwhelming.

That is why I flew out to be with her. We are not exactly “close,” but we do love each other. I wasn’t sure what my role would be, and before I left I found myself googling ideas from other children of survivors. As time unfolded I could see where I could help: supporting her after surgery, trying to organize and make sense of the insurance and work-related paperwork, recording her many medical appointments and contacts into a portable monthly calendar, putting her in contact with a veteran survivor, reading aloud from the dauntingly thick handbook… but most of all, just being there.

We had good times, too. Normal mother/daughter things – shopping for cute clothes for the kids, watching TV, seeing a movie with my sister followed by a special dinner out.

The surgery is past, but there is still a long road ahead. First chemo starts in a few weeks, then radiation therapy, then hormone blockers… its going to be really hard. I wish we didn’t live on opposite coasts. I wish she was healthy and took better care of herself. For now, I just want her to be brave, to tough it out, to… survive. I want her to be around to watch my kids grow up, unlike my own grandmother. Most of all, I just want this to all be successfully behind us.

 

 

 


2 Comments

Happy New Year from Cancun!

We just returned from an amazing two week adventure – first in snowy Colorado for sledding, sleigh rides and Christmastime, followed by a five-day once-in-a-lifetime stay at a resort in Cancun! Looking back, it almost seems too good to be true, but we all lived it and I have photos, too!

Since my card-reader is acting up, all I have right now are iPhone photos from Cancun to share. Here are some of my favorites with more on Flickr. We stayed at Barcelo Maya Palace which is an all-inclusive resort on the Riviera Maya, where we met up with David’s parents, his brothers and their families.

Chloe loved getting to spend time with everyone, especially her cousin Paolo. Leo, on the other hand, wanted to pretty much stick to me like a barnacle, although he loved the water and the sand every bit as much as his sister. For New Year’s Eve, grandma and grandpa watched the kids so the three couples could enjoy a peaceful five-course dinner and then ring in the New Year right on the beach.

There were a ton of activities available on the resort for both adults and kids, and because Chloe and Leo are still so young we stayed on the resort the entire time. My hope is that we”ll come back one day when the kids are older and see the famous sites like Tulum and Xel-ha and swim in a cenote (the third photo above is a tiny cenote they had on the property).

My very favorite thing, besides the sunshine, was holding hands while snorkeling with David. My least favorite thing was dining with the kids at the buffet, since neither could sit still for very long and Leo always seemed to make a mess. The food was incredible though. I tried a little bit of everything – duck, quail, rabbit, giant crayfish, crab, lobster and so many other fish and specialty dishes. And the desserts! More choices at one time than I’ll probably every see again in my life. Truly a vacation of a lifetime!

P.S. If you happen to choose a stay at any section of the Barceló Maya resort, we found this unnofficial web site to be really helpful.

 


3 Comments

Camping with the kids

This past weekend we took the kids camping at Nehalem Bay State Park. It was… challenging. Not that it wasn’t worth it… it just… took a lot of effort. There were times we had to remind ourselves that home was less than two hours away and we could leave at any time. But hey, we did it! The kids had a great time playing on the beach both days – soaking up the sun, splashing in the water, flying the kite, and generally getting sand everywhere. The hardest part was in the evening, I think. Of course the kids couldn’t get to sleep on time, were occasionally loud which I worried bothered our fellow campers, and then there were “incidences” – like when Leo jabbed himself in the eye with a fork and I feared that we’d have to rush to the hospital, or when Chloe fell face first into the fire pit, scraping her face, bloodying her nose and getting soot all over herself. And sleeping, well… we only have 3 sleeping bags, so I shared mine with Leo, which was kind of awkward, and I kept waking up all night wondering if he or Chloe was cold.

Anyways, it was a good learning experience (and exercise in patience!). Next time we are going to do what our neighbors are doing this week, and getting a yurt. 🙂
More photos can be seen here.


2 Comments

Sun + Sand

We went to the beach on Sunday. I just love it there. It was sunny, but with a cold breeze, and we were glad we brought our sun shelter along. Although this wasn’t Leo’s first trip to the coast, it was the first time I took some photos of him there. Like his sister, he seems to be a big fan of the sand. Unlike his sister, he is a pacifier baby, which helped to keep him from eating it.

This was also our first trip in our new-to-us minivan. What a difference! Room for everyone, and even Barkley got a seat to himself. I hesitate to say this, but if anything good came out of the car crash, its that we got a vehicle better suited to our family (the Element we bought pre-kids). The inside still smelled a little of ozone from the extra interior detail we had done, but even that has since dissippated. The car feels as good as new. I just hope it lasts us longer than our last one.


1 Comment

Pumpkins & Mushrooms

Why does it seem like these fall weeks are flying by? This weekend David and I took the kids out mushroom hunting. David carried Chloe in the Kelty and I carried Leo in the Moby, since the areas we explore are densely wooded, steep and overgrown. Afterward, I was exhausted and sore in a way I couldn’t believe. Our haul was lighter than usual, mostly because it is slow going with two kids, but honestly, I think there are more people out mushroom hunting this year than I have ever seen before. David went back the next day by himself, and found plenty more, so we’ll still be set for the year no matter what.

I didn’t bring my camera mushroom hunting, but I did bring it to The Pumpkin Patch last weekend. I love this ritual of fall. We told Chloe she could pick any pumpkin that she wanted (and I was willing to stand by this, no matter what she happened to choose), but in the end she didn’t want one from the patch, but instead asked for a “baby” miniature pumpkin she had seen back at the farm store. I should have known.

And, just as he did the last time we were there, David spotted a little green frog, even tinier than the one before. He managed to catch him twice, so I could get this photo.


5 Comments

Molalla River

We haven’t gone fishing with David since way before Leo was born. It just got too difficult – being pregnant, dealing with Chloe on the long car rides (usually 2.5+ hours each way), keeping her from getting hurt, or falling in, dealing with the consequences of an absent nap, packing everything we might need and then un-packing/washing/putting it away… it just got to be too much. These aren’t friendly, easy to manage areas with picnic tables or park-like settings either. They are out-there, and miles and miles from “civilization,” not that I ever minded before. And now there are two little ones with very different needs to consider.

Anyway, we tried it on Sunday. Both kids were asleep in their car seats at the first spot, so I stayed in the car with them. It was a lovely, picturesque spot, too. I think I was the one who accidentally woke them up, trying to get my camera and things I’d want to have if we stayed there. David came back up the path right as we were all about to emerge and we decided to try another spot. The next one was bad. We should never have stopped there. It was down an extremely steep embankment and into a large but shallow section of running water with lots of rocks, but no place to actually stand, or sit without getting wet. Chloe fell several times and got her shoes and pants wet almost instantly. Did I mention the weather was cold and rainy? It turned particularly miserable while we were there. I was also worried. If something happened, I would only be able to take one kid up the steep embankment back to the car at a time, which means one would have to wait by himself/herself while I locked the other in the car, neither a good choice to be alone next to a rushing river.

We finally moved to a third spot. By this time I knew what we needed to look for, and I got out first to give the place a looking over before agreeing. Still not ideal, but less water flow with a dirt/rock section to pitch our pop-up shelter. While here, I wrote down the two things I felt I needed for safety and sanity:

1. To be close enough to the car that I could take both kids back to it at the same time, by myself, if we needed something. That means leaving the keys with me, too. (I didn’t have them at the previous spot, and David was beyond yelling distance and couldn’t hear me, so we couldn’t have gone back to the car anyway).

2. A spot near the river that gently slopes into it so Chloe can splash (there would be no keeping her out of it), and possibly fall in (which she did, of course), but far enough from the fast water that I could fish her out with plenty of time to spare. Plus a place for me to sit and safetley put Leo down.

The other thing would be to have more time to pack. By the time I realized David was serious about going and taking us with him I was rushing around trying to get everything I thought we’d need. The two things I had forgotten were a good pair of trail shoes for me and Leo’s bouncy seat (it was too muddy to just put him down on a blanket). That meant leaving him in his car seat when I wasn’t holding him, and what baby wants to spend that much time in his car seat?

So anyway, the trip wasn’t the perfect family outting we had all hoped for, but it was a very good learning experience. I really miss photographing nature like I used to, but I realized it was not easy while being responsible for my children. All in its time, I guess. One day they’ll be big enough to know the dangers, and by then be joining their father fishing, like I’d be doing. Then maybe I can spend more time with my camera. I did get this photo though… priceless.


4 Comments

Bainbridge Island

Last week was full of adventures. At the beginning of the week David took a few days off and we rented a tiny beach cottage on Bainbridge Island on Puget Sound (that is Chloe above, playing right out front). We hung out, played by the water, checked out the parks and sampled a few local eateries (our picks: Treehouse Cafe, Blackbird Cafe, Pegasus Coffee House, Sawadty Thai, and not to be missed Mora’s Ice Cream. If we had a bigger budget and a baby sitter we totally would have tried Cafe Nola. Just reading their menu – bacon wrapped peaches! – made me salivate).


That chunky peach pecan muffin at Pegasus Cafe was super-yummy, and the ivy that covered the building was like out of a fairytale. There was a lively group of what looked to be local old men just chatting away. Maybe they get together and hang out there every morning.


The waterfront marina behind the cafe.


Chloe had a blast exploring this huge play structure at Battle Point Park.


Chloe and David at Fay Bainbridge State Park.


Chloe’s first ferry ride, Bainbridge Island to Seattle on the “Tacoma.”


Getting a rare photo of Leo and I while watching the islands go by from the ferry.

Later in the week we packed up again and headed to the Oregon coast for a family gathering with David’s work. They generously put us up in a plush 2-bedroom beach house just steps from the sand. At one point David took Chloe to play on the beach and, for the first time in a long while, I was able to browse the little shops in Manzanita at my own pace, with Leo sleeping peacefully on my chest in his carrier. I really enjoyed that dose of solitude. How different life is now from just a few short years ago. But I wouldn’t have it any other way.

(More photos of our Bainbridge Island trip are here).


7 Comments

One month down

Leo turned one month old this week. Several times I sat down to try and write about what life has been like this past month, but I can’t seem to find the right words.

Basically, it’s complicated.

One thing for sure – being a mother of a newborn and a toddler is HARD. Existing on such minimal sleep is the worst part – like living life through a fog. Simple tasks can seem monumental. And I feel like I should be happier – like when my mom was here, I felt like I should have been so happy, but I wasn’t quite as happy as I thought I should be. Does that make sense?

Anyway, in a nutshell, this past month has been stressful, but things are getting better. I am feeling better, both mentally and physically. Best of all, we are slowly starting to adjust to our new shape as a family.

As for Leo, he is definitely growing. Seriously. It was like I woke up one morning and my tiny newborn was replaced by a hefty baby boy (which makes sense when I think about it, since all he wants to do is nurse). Nights are getting somewhat easier, and what seemed to be his constant fussing and crying is giving way to a few more periods of “quiet alertness.” Thank goodness.

The thing I miss most is the little time I had for myself, and going out with the “ease” of having just one child. Now there are two little individuals with vastly different needs. There are moments I feel trapped and frustrated in my own house, and other times when I don’t want to leave again, ever. Plus, I miss my husband. He’s here, too, doing his part, but our whole lives are revolving around the kids right now, with no time for us. It will be good when Grandma Sandy (my mother-in-law) comes next week. Hopefully that might give us time to reconnect. So, again, it’s hard. But we’re dealing. And learning. And living.

One day at a time.

(Btw – that photo was taken by David a week or so ago, so Leo is not a one-month old in that photo. Note to self: take more photos!)


2 Comments

Hello from DC!

Chloe in the sand box

Hello from the DC area! Chloe and I have been here a little
over a week, visiting with my parents and sister. It’s been quite
cold here, and silly me, I didn’t bring our warmer coats, so our
outings have been somewhat limited. However, that hasn’t stopped us from enjoying the nearby parks and nature center.

Chloe & Grandma, at the Nature Center

I am always amazed every time we visit either set of grandparents, how Chloe just blossoms from all the love and attention. I get to watch from my rare position on the sideline as her vocabulary grows, and her individual personality develops as she interacts with other members of her family that she rarely sees.

Now that Chloe is quite a talker, sometimes I worry that she will pick up bad language habits while she is here. My dad has an endearing, but grammatically incorrect, “baby language” that he uses with her (and Likely used with my sister and I), but so far I haven’t noticed her responding in a similar way. Sometimes it’s good to remind myself to butt out and let Chloe have her own experiences with others, uninterrupted by my motherly instincts. 🙂


2 Comments

Christmas Recap

I hope you all had a very Merry Christmas!

We are spending the holidays with Grandma and Grandpa in Colorado. Sadly, there is no snow to be seen this week, but we did get an incredible surprise visit from Santa on Christmas Day. I’m actually not sure who was more shocked, Chloe and her cousin Paolo, or us parents. Although Chloe has seen pictures of Santa, and waved to him briefly during a short trip to the mall, she was still a little wary and didn’t want to leave the safety of daddy’s arms. Maybe next year. However, both kids made out like bandits in the gift department, including books and much desired Lego sets.

Christmas dinner was also a real treat – Roast pheasant and quail with apricots and dates (caught earlier in the hunting season by Grandpa) and prepared by Grandma Sandy and Chloe’s Aunt Liza, along with wild rice, toasted parmesean bread and procuitto-wrapped asparagus and gruyere. Dessert was freshly made chocolate peanut butter balls using Chloe’s Great Grandma Vera’s family recipe. Certainly a holiday meal to remember!


3 Comments

Despite the best intentions

Chloe had an unusually accident prone day today. It started with a bloody split lip on a picnic bench at the park, with further little mishaps throughout the day, ending with a scraped cheek on one of the short bamboo poles that surround our smallest garden plot.

After the early split lip, I tried to be careful of the foods I offered her afterwards – banana, scrambled eggs, macaroni and cheese – but after lunch I forgot and gave her kiwi. I felt so bad after she cried out that in a mild panic I offered her vanilla ice cream, hoping to soothe the swelling and sting. David gave me a brief hard time for the kiwi, but then during dinner he gave her ketchup, which, from her reaction, must have been worse. Uh-huh. Despite the depth of our love for our daughter and our willingness to protect her, both of us accidentally caused her just a little more pain due to simple forgetfulness. I don’t know why, but it surprises me. We’re only human? We make mistakes? But they’re careless mistakes, despite our best intentions.

After our al fresco dinner, we stayed in the backyard for a while longer, soaking up the beautiful blue skies and temperate weather. David and Chloe were playing together, so I started clearing the table, but them came back out to sit and watch. It was weird though, because I kept feeling pulled to do something else – get on the computer, play with my iphone (did you know you can watch netflix movies now?), read through a catalog that came in the mail, anything but just sit there, enjoying a beautiful evening with my family. That didn’t seem right either. Summer will be over in less than a month, and I could barely seem to quiet my mind long enough to appreciate it. I shared these thoughts aloud to David, and he replied that I’ve always been like that. That my mind is always going, and I often seem to be somewhere else. He continued to tease me (I think) with some exaggerations, but there was some truth to what he was saying. Anyway, eventually we lay there on the grass in each others arms, with Chloe and Barkley playing close by, and I was able to focus in on the moment, for which I am grateful. It seems that it shouldn’t be so hard, to be in the present, but sometimes it is. I, in particular, have to work at it. Maybe that is why I enjoy reading so much, because I like to “get away” for a while. But it is nice, and important, to come back, too.

Oh, and two more things: 1) I finally got a decent shot of one of the elusive white butterflies (above) that I mentioned here.  2) The article on how Digital Devices Deprive Brain of Needed Downtime (NYTimes) is worth a read. Goodnight!


7 Comments

Weekend Camping

We went camping this weekend in celebration of a friend’s 40th birthday. Once upon a time, 40 seemed so far away, but now that I am creeping up there myself, I can’t say I feel like I thought I’d feel. While I do feel like a grown-up (especially after the baby was born), I don’t feel as “grown-up” as I thought I’d feel by this point. I’m guessing it is true for most people, that though we live our adult lives every day, being grown-up doesn’t feel like we thought it would feel when we were kids thinking about being grown-up. Does that make sense?

Anyway, the highlight of this trip for me was the 2.2 mile hike to the Blue Pool, also known as Tamolitch Falls. The “Falls” actually no longer exists here. What used to be the upper section of the McKenzie river has been diverted, and now the water that fills this pool comes from an underground source. This is my favorite kind of hike -  with a destination, or “reward” at the end, and this one did not disappoint. As a matter of fact, the pool contained the bluest water I’ve ever seen in my life, more like a really deep turquoise. The photo does not do the color justice, nor does it even hint at it’s incredible depth.  Let me tell you, it was hard to resist the pull of all that glistening water on a summer day, but a quick temperature check with a dipped hand into the freezing cold instantly warned us that would not be a good idea.

And did I mention that I carried Chloe on my back on the hike up? I was pretty proud of myself. I think it actually made the experience more fun, hiking with friends with our babies on our backs. We brought the Beco carrier instead of the framed Kelty carrier because it packs down so much smaller in an already full car (Barkley was also with us). I’m happy to say the Beco continues to be worth every penny, although we use it less now than when Chloe was a newborn. And although camping with a toddler is quite challenging at times, I think it was still a good experience.


1 Comment

Happy Fourth of July, 2010

Happy Fourth of July! We attended our neighborhood Independence Day parade this morning, and I have to say, every year it gets better and better. It was fun to see so many families out. At first, Chloe wasn’t sure what to make of all the hubub, and was startled when the leading police car sounded his siren, but she was quickly distracted by the waves of tossed candy (I’m sure more than one spectator was beamed in the head by a flying jolly rancher), and the many young parade participants riding by on their bikes or being pulled in wagons or floats. It was kind of like Halloween. Without even trying we came home with candy, a small American flag, a patriotic folding fan, a packet of wildflower seeds, a USA tatoo, and a packet of salon-brand hair conditioner. Go figure.


Leave a comment

Self-portrait plus, week 20

My mom, Chloe, and me at the Live Butterfly exhibit at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. Yes, that is a butterfly whizzing by my forehead. As part of my goals for 2010, I am posting a weekly self-portrait “plus.” See the entire set here.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...