autumn days

Friday, September 16, 2016

The Granny Privilege

Wee four-month-old Charlotte and I got to visit my granny in Utah last winter.  Granny is at the time in her life when she is sharing her life's bounty with others.  As a baby, her mother had given her a beautiful silver finger ring.  She has held onto this ring until now, nearly 90 years later.  On this visit, she generously gifted it to our little Charlotte.  What an incredibly tiny yet extraordinary gift.  What a privilege it is to have the ring my great grandmother gave to her baby, my children's great grandmother.  

My partner met some of his grandparents when he was a toddler.  Only Hannah got to meet her daddy's mama, not his dad.  Her siblings did not get to meet their daddy's parents.  I understand the great privilege I have of meeting all four of my grandparents, having both my parents still alive, and spending this extended time loving on my elderly grandmother.  Since my granny's husband's death a few years ago, we have traveled to visit one another at least once each year.  My partner loves my granny so deeply, his eyes moisten each time we say goodbye to her.  As we talk with my granny on the phone and send her postcards, we all look forward to hugging her again, as this ring hugs my daughter's finger.

Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden

Every year our family has a list of traditions, from activities we share to places we visit and revisit.  The Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden is one of our favorites.  We've gotten to visit every year of Liam's life with a variety of friends.  With our family's unusual summer, we have yet to visit this year.  Last year my granny delighted in the colorful bounty with us.  In the ebb and flow of life, I am so grateful for these tradition my children and I share.

Sitting back to watch the geese and ducks in 2013

Visiting with their great-granny in 2015

The Privilege of Celebrating Gray Hair

I have earned every single one of my gray hairs.  With the birth of my third child in my 38th year, I earned tiny wisps above my ears, like little wings to commemorate my new beloved babe.  There is quite the forest cropping up now with my partner's journey with cancer.  As my face ages before my very eyes, I kindly remind myself I have earned each gray hair.  For me, each one is a badge of experience, a symbol of a life lived fully.  Not everyone is privileged to grow old enough for gray hair.  Here is a quote that rings true for me.  May you take comfort in knowing as you age, you grow in so many ways, seen and unseen, known and unknown.  Blessings upon you in all your stages of life.

"Growing older is like climbing a mountain: the higher you get, the more strength you need, but the further you see."

Sidewalk Chalk Science

We are at it again.  We love making and using and recreating our own sidewalk chalk.  We use simple ingredients we have on hand, only purchasing plaster of paris.  Simple science fuels our curiosity.  These make great gifts as well.  I really love these photos of colorful art supplies.  Thank you for letting me share them with you.

Jelly Belly Factory Tour

Last year we were able to go to the Jelly Belly Factory in Fairfield, California, for a tour.  We heard about the history of this famous bean and go to sample different flavors.  Our wildest adventure was partaking in odd flavors such as boogers, diaper wipes, and barf.  The last one was my very least favorite.  With my pregnant belly as large as a watermelon, I fantasized about wearing a maternity jelly belly shirt.  We left instead with a new appreciation for this sweet treat and a bag of delicious "belly flop" imperfect beans.

Portland Children's Museum

A friend of ours volunteers with the Portland Children's Museum.  She graciously shared a family pass with us so we could go play.  There are so many spaces and delights at this interactive museum.  Sand, clay, water, face paint, wood, music, theater, puppets, and nature are just some of the details we enjoy at the museum.  We look forward to our next visit.

Dog Doodles

Last summer we got to partake in a free online art class taught by a friend's friend.  Due to all our other projects and imaginative play, we chose to only participated in a couple of the lessons.  Our favorite was abstract canines, otherwise known as doodle dogs.  Simple steps and materials led to what you see here.  We really enjoyed this time creating together.  These paintings have been displayed in our kitchen since then.  What a treat!

Harry Potter Party

Last autumn, as my dear Hannah turned eight years old, we hosted a Harry Potter party.  In my nesting bliss awaiting our third child, we spent a couple months preparing for this occasion.  My children and I have read through several of the Potter books together, though we are currently stalled in the middle of the fifth.  (I read aloud with my children mostly at night and the Potter books are a bit intense for nighttime reading.)  Never the less, we had plenty of inspiration for our little bash.  I treasure putting such thought and detail into a gathering, though usually my hosting is more minimalist.  What a gift for Hannah to get to invite friends to join her for a day at her own little Hogwarts.  She even got to finish festivities with a friendly game of quidditch on homemade broomsticks.

Oaks Amusement Park Delights

Every year or two my children get to play at Oaks Amusement Park.  When my children were younger, we attended preschool ride times, which include all the preschool rides you can desire, cookies and milk, and story time with Chipper the park mascot.  Younger brother Liam loves the wild and spinning rollercoaster and teacup rides, while older sister Hannah prefers the slower rides.  We got to attend the amusement park last week with friends.  Our library reading program discount cut the price in half.  With the help of other adults, Liam got to partake in the big rides with friends while Hannah delighted in a slower pace.  I got to hold our wee Charlotte and visit with friends.  Community is such a gift.  We are so thankful for our friends, for running into them when out and about, and our local amusement park.

Portland Gold Medal Rose Garden

My granny came to visit a year ago and she has a thing for flowers.  We spent a couple hours loving on the roses at the Gold Medal Rose Garden in the City of Roses.  I can still smell them.  What a delicious combination, taking my beloved granny to hang out with sweet smelling roses.  We could replay this day with my granny again and again.

Skate Park Dreams

My children and I have a little fantasy of getting up early one morning and heading straight to the skate park before anyone else is out of bed.  Imagine having an hour to ourselves on the ramps!  Inspired by others, I'd love to see my baby out there on a board swooping around with ease.  Until this dream becomes a reality, we will continue to share our time on the slopes, watch the big kids perform fancy tricks, and laugh and play until we sweat.  What a gift to dream such dreams and skate at our local park.

Girl Scout Family

My dear Hannah has been in Girl Scouts for three years now and loved every minute of it.  She can sell a cookie like no one else!  She saves up her cookie credit earnings for science games, books, and stickers for her brother.  Hannah, Liam, and I have attended two years of scout camp with an incredible group of people.  From day one of camp, these folks felt like family.  Family plus volunteer discount!  So naturally we're totally hooked.  Our baby Charlotte got to attend camp this summer as well, hanging out with the teenagers, wooing the adults.  It is such a gift to my children loved by others.  Below are photographs of some SWAPs we create and trade each year with other scouts.  These are created entirely with materials we already have on hand at home, much of it from neighbors' decluttering projects.  No purchase necessary.  Even though camp was a couple months behind us for this year, we still faithfully sing the camp songs and hear them in our sleep.  We give great thanks for our scout family and look forward to being together again next year.

Dragonfly SWAPs

Robot SWAPs

Flower SWAPs

Pillowcases and a sheet for tie dye day

Tie dyed pillowcases

Farm School

My children's favorite class is working on the local farm.  Oh, the thrill of putting on stained overalls and rain boots to romp out in the elements.  My children have watched me farm my own little garden every year with only  a couple hours of interest each year.  My partner and I joke that the farm should be paying us for our children's labor, as they construct, weed, plant, and harvest for the farm.  There is also a good amount of preparing and devouring vegetables, followed by muddy exploration and play.  

Since attending farm school, my big kids have been pulling weeds in their garden, weeds in my garden, tending to our compost bins, watering, joyfully harvesting our abundance, letting me assign random gardening tasks, and planning and planting like never before.  Thankfully they still get to participate in this program after a day of public school.  The joy of gardening as a family is such a gift.

One in a Minion Party

I find great humor in knowing I am sharing photos from a year ago, from a time when I was the mother of two children instead of three, a time before my partner's cancer diagnosis.  Times were simpler then.  We were very late to the Minion fan club, though now that we've caught up with the movies, we adore them.  Here are some photos of a friend's creative One in a Minion Party.  Not included in the spread is when I got to wear a long purple wig cascading down my round baby belly for our family photo.

Bento Boxes

My beautiful Hannah made lunch for our family with bento boxes last autumn.  She was thrilled to assemble and label each one for us (with repurposed sticky notes).  She found this idea in The Girl's Book of Adventure, a gift from a friend.  Simple and sweet.  I give thanks for these little things that bring us joy.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Orcas Island 2015

Last summer we took a big trip all the way to Orcas Island before our third wee babe joined our family.  On the island, colors are vibrant, the water is cool, the air is so refreshing, and the people are so friendly.  Cousins joined us and cooked up an incredible banquet of endless foods.  We have our funny little stories of when Mom's Night Out became our children's favorite movie, when our little car was the very last one to make it onto the ferry, when we ate for hours only to be served another meal, when we found wild clams on a protected beach and returned them to their holes.  What an amazing adventure to share with our children.

Awaiting the Orcas Island Ferry

Clamming with cousins

Protected giant clams

Our favorite swimming lake

Sandy adventure

A view of Canada in the distance

So much green and blue

Finding a dead jellyfish on the beach