Aloha!

21 Oct

We had a couple of 4:00 AM mornings on our Hawaiian adventure.  It wasn’t as bad as it sounded, allowing us unhurried viewing of the first morning light.  It also meant time for reading guidebooks, more specifically an article on Hawaii’s history and the birth of an island.

Islands, like Maui, are shoved into being by a force below the ocean’s floor.  These volcanic islands start as barren geological features and over the course of thousands of years become the beautiful places they are today.  This mostly happens by circumstance — a seed drifts ashore, a bird is blown off course by a storm, people discover and settle.

And there was this thought of our trip and friendships and the parallels it all held to the life span of an island.  People are drawn together by these forces we cannot see, maybe its chance; maybe it’s the result of a much greater force at work.

But whatever you believe, the result is just as miraculous.  Small, seemingly insignificant things accumulate over time — a walk, a meal, an adventure — all of these things build to create a unique landscape between the people that shared them.

An island has a lifespan.  Maui, the guidebook explained, was in its twilight years, the last active volcano hasn’t erupted since 1790.  Its growth has slowed.  Our trip has ended, too, but the bits and pieces we collected will become the good memories that add life to our friendships, until we meet again.

A hui hou kakou.

 

Take It Slow

4 Oct

We bought a new CD for our car.  It’s by the Laurie Berkner Band and we discovered it after riding to the zoo with my sister in law.

There’s one particular song that took my breath away the first time I heard it and has been stuck in my head ever since.  You may know it.  It’s called “Fast and Slow.”  If you don’t know it take a listen.  Humor me.  I don’t post videos too often and everything will make much better sense if you watch it.

I know I delve too deep sometimes, but I  think it’s a beautiful song.  It’s one of those songs I want to learn so I can sing it to Abigail before she goes to sleep.  I want those words to swirl around her mind as she dreams.

Ryan and I have joked before about being on Abigail time and I’m sure I’ve mentioned it before in some previous post.  Yes, we are quite sure that when Abigail returns home from her first day of kindergarten she will also return with a mostly full lunchbox not yet understanding the concept of eating lunch in 20 minutes.

Abigail wants to do it her way, in her time, and there’s not a whole lot of convincing her otherwise.  I lovingly refer to her as spuuuuuun-KY!

I’m fairly patient and I’m no “rabbit” but how many times have I said, “Hurry, Hurry!”  “Go fast!”  “Quick!”  And while sometimes we do need to hurry, I know that most of the time when I say those things we aren’t in a rush at all — that playground is still going to be standing, the milk and string cheese will still be plentiful at the grocery store, the line at the post office will still be ridiculous.

So why do we do it?  All of this rushing and flying about.  What’s the first thing people tell you when you have a swollen belly full with a growing baby?

Enjoy it.  It goes by in a blink.

Or when a grandmother-type stops to ask about your toddler whose legs are dangling out of the front of the shopping cart and whose cheeks are carrying crumbs from the free cookie.

They grow up so fast.

These people are right.

And maybe it’s just me, but I know that the “rabbit” and “turtle” are just decoys.  That turtle singing, telling us to “slow down and wait for me,” warning us that “you may find yourself missing the world you go past” that may not be a turtle at all but instead the inner voice of a child.

It’s hard to be patient when my to do list and Abigail’s don’t match up.  The walk back from the middle of the apple orchard is long when she wants to try to carry the load herself.  A bike ride around the neighborhood is slow when every ant, branch, stick, and rock needs to be examined.  But instead of thinking of these things as painstakingly long and excruciatingly slow maybe I need to think of them as perfectly long and wonderfully slow.

Join me?

“And other times we can go fast!”

On another note:

In the spirit of slowing down, you may have noticed my blog slowing down.  After a lot of thinking and almost reconciling that it may be time to end this little space, my husband stopped me.  That would be sad, he simply said.  And I agree.  I need this space, I want Abigail to have these words one day, and maybe in meantime it’s been fun or helpful for some of the people who share it with us.

But there is this other part of me that acknowledges that my time is limited and there is some other writing I’d like to work on outside of here.  So I’m going to be working on finding that balance between blogging about our real life and trying my hand at a different kind of storytelling.  I hope you’ll bear with me.

Sandwiched

21 Sep

We are between places.  Where we are right now is not our destination, but we have been busy and filled up and that has been good.

Visiting the Art Lady’s House.

All of that stuff that makes a big move stressful has been put on hold for us.  It’s like we’re speed dating the East Coast after being gone from the scene for a couple of years.  As a result, my mind which is usually pretty good at sorting out the background noise from the important stuff is running on a different set of cylinders doing all of the those things you do when you are buying a house and playing with cousins and living close to Target.

And spent.

But somehow amidst the noisy everyday stuff is the reality that our life as we know it at this minute is just temporary.  Beyond the unpacking and organizing that we are going to face, moving is hard work and filled with questions.  Sometimes it’s just little stuff like adjusting to grocery stores with new layouts or learning street names and short cuts.  But there are these other questions that are pretty big:  Who will you call when your baby gets sick?  Who will give you that haircut that makes you feel fantastic?  Who will you invite over on a Friday night to share a pizza with?

Drawing “our family.”  

The good news is that this time around thinking about all of these things doesn’t make me feel as overwhelmed and off balance.  I have the experience of having done it twice before.  I know all of those questions will get answered and things that seem new and different will fade into normalness.  Now I know that when the time comes to roll up my sleeves and get the work done I can handle it.

“Apparently my size makes me kind of scary.” ~ Hank

All of the writing I did over the last two years, facing my struggles head on and being hell bent on learning from them was one of the most worthwhile things I’ve ever done for myself.  My experience moving to Oregon was like having that really challenging teacher.  You know the one, she made you work harder than you ever had to before, but you stuck it out and when you think of great teachers it’s her that you think of first.

The only size that matters between friends is the size of your heart.

The biggest lessons I learned were about having patience and appreciating that one moment you are living that you will never get back.  That is what I want to take with me on this move and every one to come.  Life is happening so be a part of it, wherever you are and with whatever gifts you have been given.  And try; really try, to embrace it.

We spend our lives in a state of in between.  It’s a great place to be if you really think about it, looking back and appreciating where you’ve been and staying hopeful about the future.  It isn’t always easy, but if you assemble it right you’ll end up sandwiched between a whole lot of good stuff.

Lost and Found

16 Sep

Lately we’ve been digging through the rumpled items in the lost and found bin and finding some missing things.

Most notably, this was the week rabbit decided to sleep over in TJ Maxx leaving Abigail and I sick with worry and shedding tears over lovies lost. Later we learned that rabbit had spent the evening trying on shoes a half size too small, perusing infused olive oils, and debating over whether or not she needed that large pumpkin serving platter. Needless to say rabbit is grounded indefinitely.

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We recovered plenty more.
Lungs better prepared to withstand humidity and the return of longer runs for me.

A sneak peek into my favorite time of year with cooler mornings and a few eager leaves just itching to update their wardrobes for fall, meaning only one thing to Abigail at this point — more time for scootering and sidewalk chalk.

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And we reunited with Ryan after his first week at his new job!

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It was only two years that we were gone, but it was enough time to allow my experience shape a new part of me. I’ll never give that up. I like being southern with a twist of northwest. But I have to say, spending the weekend where college football is an all day event, eating chicken wings with family makes me feel like I’ve blown the dust off of a little part of me that I’ve been missing.

And I’ll drink a sweet tea to that.

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Smoother Sailing

8 Sep

Apparently there used to be such a thing as a clubhouse for potato heads. Why I never knew about this before our first week bunked up at Nanny and Gramps’ house I have no idea, but it is awesome and doing a pretty good job of entertaining Abigail while I hunt and peck this quick blog post out on my iPhone.

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I don’t have a real computer right now or the ability to upload real pictures or a clever new name for this space but I’m checking in anyway.

It’s been a week – a whole lot of week. After a fantastic welcome back life settled for long enough to uncover what I had anticipated.  I assumed Abigail would be a little homesick and that her behavior would reflect that. What I didn’t expect was her to be so vocal about it, telling me “want to leave, want to go home” when things didn’t quite go her way. And I would be lying if I said I didn’t have any homesick moments of my own. There may have been one tiny incident involving stubbing my toe on a shopping cart and not finding my usual Greek yogurt in a Publix. But it’s amazing how quickly finding your long lost favorite brand of cold cuts can turn that frown upside down!

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Things have already gotten better due in part to a load of new toys, ahem potato head clubhouse, and a maiden voyage complete with lake swim up to an island and cabin picnic.

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It’s not all smooth sailing, we are rediscovering the joy of mosquito bites and chest compressing running in humidity, but our crew here is pretty special making the whole starting over thing a little bit easier.
As for Hank, well, he’s hot.

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“So freaking hot.”- Hank
And as for Oregon, we love finding little pieces of you in unexpected places.

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Flying With Her Own Wings

29 Aug

Almost two years ago I wrote a blog, a blog that would mark the beginning of perhaps the grandest adventure of my life.  In the months that would follow I would pour out my raw feelings on a computer screen and hit publish.  I wrote through my ups and downs, every struggle I faced, every moment to be celebrated.  It was unedited and real and often, I’m sure, grammatically incorrect.

Through words I would find catharsis, purging the sometimes overwhelming emotions of homesickness, motherhood, and adjusting to a new place.  Today I find myself in a familiar situation: typing with held breath and tears welling up and spilling over.  And while I am excited for what the future holds for our family, today I am sad.

Newport, Oregon.

The hardest thing about putting yourself out there, letting everyone in on your experience, is that you don’t know at the time what the ending will be.  You never know how you will evolve and what turns your life will take.  So when you get to the end and it isn’t at all what you expect it’s a lot to process.

I never expected Oregon to touch my heart as much as it did.  I came here dragging my feet but what I endured and discovered has changed me forever.    It takes heart to live here, through the months and months of soggy gray and roaring winds.  I was only here for two winters but I’m proud of surviving through each one.  Your reward is living in a place whose beauty cannot be measured.  How strange it seemed to wear your fleece on the beach, to run in the rain, and to wear fall clothes all year, but now it feels right.

But the hardest part of leaving is the saying goodbye to our friends.  When I first arrived I felt like the biggest outsider.  I was awkwardly aware of my uptightness in a community that welcomed us with open arms.  It wasn’t long before I found a kindred spirit that would eventually become not just an important part of my life, but also my daughter’s, hereby proclaiming “No Pants Wednesdays” as a necessary part of the week.  Soon after I was scooped up by a story time friend who never questioned why I was there with my 6 month old – she became my rock, the person who had walked the path closest to my own.   Another friend filled rainy days with aquarium visits and baking and Chai.  A book club who had known each other for years treated me like one of the gang, no questions asked.  A beautiful mother but also a fellow girl’s girl was always up for going on an adventure, sharing a glass of wine, or gossiping about Bravo housewives.  A fun loving couple who didn’t mind a toddler running around their deck and chasing their cat during barbeques on the bayfront — all of these people saying in their own way, “come, relax, enjoy, be.”  Oregon snuck into my soul and I didn’t even notice.

Finally, there’s the ocean.  It deserves its own mention.  How very lucky we all were to experience daily something that so beautifully reminds you of the world’s vastness.  Forever now it will be the place that centers me.  It’s the first home Abigail has really known and she is alive here.  I think she loves it most of all.  It’s hard to take her away when I see how her soul dances on the sand, but I know she is about to add some new and great chapters to her story.  We will be back to visit.  I want my all of my children to know and love the Oregon coast, like we do now.  But mostly, I want Abigail to one day know the reason that the sea whispers her name.  Because for a short time, this was home.

So thank you, Oregon.  This is the place where I discovered my passion for writing.  This is the place we became a family.  This is the place I unearthed the strength I never knew I had.  And I am forever grateful.

Long Distance Friends

22 Aug

It’s been a busy week and with no signs of slowing down I thought I’d pop in for a quick update.

Heather and I during our fabulous Californian spring break. Hello, blondness! c.2007 

My friend, Heather, is here.  Well, she’s in Portland, but I get to see her tomorrow afternoon when we pick her up in the big van for Hood to Coast.  She flew all the way out here to race with Team Platypus.  I should have been packing, but instead I sifted through old photos on the computer.

In 2004 we were both brand new teachers, Heather got a job teaching 2nd grade at the school where I had just taken a job teaching 3rd.  It wasn’t until two years later when I moved to 2nd grade that we became close.  Some people you just click with and we just did.  Heather is someoen you can laugh with and cry with and spill your guts to and she never judges you.  She’s the kind of person that still sends snail mail and once had a big, dried beetle on her desk.  I also give her credit for getting me hooked on running.

Monument Avenue 10K c.2009 – I had a bum knee and I was pretty slow, but she ran with me anyway.

Heather was the person who told me I should definitely run a 5K, then 10K, then 10 miler, and last year she even encouraged me to do this crazy thing called Hood to Coast.  So it’s really special for me that she’s here.  I should also mention that she is an amazing runner!

Meeting brand new Abigail c.2010

We don’t talk that often, but it doesn’t really matter.  Our friendship has always been carved a little deeper.  We aren’t the same person, but we understand each other.  Maybe it’s from working so many hours together teaching and creating, maybe it’s because she cries over all that happy, sappy, and sad stuff just like me, or maybe it’s because we were just destined to be friends – whatever the reason I’m glad she’s a part of my life.  It’s extra sparkly when she’s around.

Heather and Gregg’s wedding c.2010

 

If you want to know more about Hood to Coast you can check out these posts I wrote last year.

 

 

 

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