Archive | November, 2011

A Weekend of Thanksgiving

28 Nov

It is a new experience for me to have to forge my own way through the holidays. Last year was our first time spending both Thanksgiving and Christmas as a family of three. When you are used to being part of a family that’s fifteen to twenty strong I’m not going to lie — it’s tough. It’s a little lonely and empty and too quiet.

Visits home now are so very special because we don’t get to do it that often. But they are also very rushed and exhausting. It always involves a two and a half hour drive to Portland, stopping to drop Hank off at the farm. A night in a hotel and then an extremely early flight with over 12 hours of traveling time, at least half in the air. When we arrive we are fighting a three hour time change and a child who just doesn’t sleep much. We split our time between two families in two states and so two of those days are road travel.

I don’t expect a medal of honor and I don’t write this to make anyone feel bad or guilty. I just need to communicate that it isn’t easy, it takes a little sacrifice. We didn’t take a family vacation in 2010 and while we’d love to go some place together, right now we have a little girl that we want very much to get to know her family and feel surrounded by that unconditional love that we felt growing up.

Some family you are born with and will always cherish because of the history you share. That family is part of your deep down-ness. The innermost part that shapes the rest of you. Ryan and I were both lucky in this department. We have great families.

Some family you create on your own – day by day, piece by piece. And when you are in charge of building the sturdy foundation it can be scary. ‘Are we doing the right thing?’ can permeate every decision you make, big and small. We’ve had a lot of those questions in the past year, as all families do. But every once in awhile you get the reassurance that you are on the right path.

This Thanksgiving holiday, while another quiet one for us, left me as satisfied as the meal it is named after. It would have been nice to be with the rest of the people that we hold close to our hearts, but I learned that it can also be full with just us. And for that, I give thanks.

Stormy Weather

22 Nov

My parents and aunt and uncle came to visit last spring.  It was sunny and dry every. single. day.  My uncle, BB, had a grand time joking about how he thought I was just making the rain up.  Don’t I wish!

Last night a storm blew in taking our usually sideways rain and making it even more sideways so it’s almost straight up and down again.

*This is not my best video effort so it may potentially make you dizzy, but I post anyway…

I’m just happy I went to the grocery store yesterday so my shopping cart was at least manageable instead of blowing away with me holding on like Mary Poppins.  Actually scratch that mental image because no one uses an umbrella around here.  It wouldn’t really help.  During the winter months shopping cart control is a real problem here, made especially scary when you have a little one strapped in.

But it’s just a part of our life.  Some people have freezing temps and snow and windshields to scrape.  We have rain and wind and shopping carts to dry off.

Giving Thanks

19 Nov

I heard something I didn’t want to yesterday so I did this.  It was a little like one of those Facebook statuses that say, “Oh my gosh.  I can’t believe that!” and are totally annoying because you think, “WHAT?!”  but the person never tells you.  But writing is an outlet for me so I did it anyway and felt better.  Sorry about that Charlie Brown moment, friends.

And today I did this because it always makes me feel even better…

Which led to this kick in the pants from the Almighty upstairs…

And I’m crumpling up that bad day like a wad of paper and slam dunking it into the trash.  Because I’m really just so thankful.  For life and my family and friends who share it with me.  For being content with the way things are.  Because the grass doesn’t get any greener than this, baby.  And you don’t get the green grass without a little (or a lot) of rain.  Right, Oregon?

Dreams Deferred

18 Nov

I’ve been distracted, preoccupied, and having a little internal struggle.  Nothing major.  Nothing dramatic even though this blog is going to make it seem that way.  I’m just dealing with a little disappointment.  Mainly as a result of my terrible habit of daydreaming.

And usually I feel so open to sharing, but now I just don’t have the words and the freedom.  But over the last few days Langston Hughes has come to the forefront of my mind.

A Dream Deferred

by Langston Hughes

What happens to a dream deferred?

Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore–
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over–
like a syrupy sweet?

Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.

Or does it explode?

I think that sums it up.  And now I’m going to try to move on.

Because what’s a little disappointment when you have an abundance of blessings?  

That’s just life.  She’s tricky like that.

Moments

13 Nov

Have you ever realized with sudden intensity that the rhythm of your everyday is on the verge of changing? A round belly that’s becoming less so.  Chubby feet that are lengthening out.  Arm creases that are only visible as a shadow.  I had one of those moments this weekend.  

 

Until the weekend came to a close with the whispering sweetness of lullabies in the darkness and a tiny hand that searched until it melted into mine.  And it was me who was comforted.  She’s still so little.  So little.

Wild Hares

6 Nov

I’m prone to getting wild hares. I’ve always been like this. I get something on my mind and I need to do it and I need to do it now. I think Ryan knows this about me even though we haven’t ever talked about it. There are some instances where his patient nature helps me calm down about certain things or decisions. But there are other times when I will not stop until I get my way. Cue nagging and endless badgering. *wink*

There is a story about me as a toddler, which may or may not be an urban legend, but it gets told every year around this time. It goes something like this…My parents had mentioned that we were going to put up our Christmas tree, which at the time was an artificial one that needed to be brought down from the attic. My dad sat down with a cup of coffee to watch a football game when I came strutting in the den, hands on my 3 year old (or 4 or 5 or 10 year old) hips and exclaim, “I THOUGHT we were going to put up the Christmas Tree.” Needless to say, the Christmas tree got put up and I’ve never lived that moment down. And before you close down this page because you think I’m going to go all Christmas crazy before Thanksgiving let me assure you that I tell this story only to give you a glimpse into what Ryan lovingly refers to as “Crazy Sarah.” (Okay, okay, I MAYBE listened to one little Bing Crosby Christmas nugget on my iPod yesterday before Ryan realized what was happening and hurried into the kitchen to put a stop to that. Just doing a little check to see what I could get away with. Too soon. Too soon.)

So today as I packed up the remaining Halloween hodge-podge and asked Ryan to take the box out to the garage I casually mentioned that he could just bring in my teaching books. “Your what?” “You know, all those books I used in my classroom.” “Sarah, why? Where are you even going to put those?” “Well, they need to come inside because it’s about to be that rainy time of year and I really don’t want them to get yucky.” “Show me where they are.” YES! SCORE!

I had him bring in three, extremely heavy and awkward to access, tubs. The first tub was the wrong one. Whoops. But as I opened the lid of the second and third tubs I think my heart skipped a beat. I had given away almost all of my classroom library except for what was left in these containers.

There, still organized by holiday and unit, were my read alouds. The books I sat in my reading corner and read year after year. We read to learn about people and faraway places. We read to learn life lessons. We read to celebrate. We read to be silly and have fun. Boy, did we read.  I kept a list of the ones we read together on pieces of chart paper that we hung on the wall.  By the end of the year it was almost always close to 150 titles.

Opening those tubs unleased memories that hung in the air as we went through the stacks book by book. There were books I had collected from vacations or museum visits. Books that I had fallen in love with because of the beautiful stories they told. Books that had been given to my classroom as gifts from students, their names still signed on the front cover.

I sometimes worry that taking these years off will make me lose the professional side of myself. My ability to teach creatively will get rusty. Maybe it will, but I don’t think the things you are passionate about ever really leave you.

I’m happy to have a new pair of hands flipping through the pages of these books. I am excited to share them with her as she grows.  Right now she loves to read.  I hope she keeps that with her always.

There are so many wondrous things to learn through the stories others choose to share with us. I think it’s important for Abigail to see me defining myself by things other than “mommy.”  She’s knows I’m her mom, but there’s more to me than that.  It’s why I like to take her running with me or have her walk with me around grown-up section of the library.  

So get those wild hares, even if the dishwasher needs to be emptied and the furniture is dusty!  It’s part of who you are.  A part of you that is important.

Saturday Baking with Abigail

5 Nov

In a moment of internet browsing (also known as time wasting) I came across a little treasure on Tasty Kitchen. I went to Fred Meyer for the sole purpose of buying a block of cheese. I wanted to have neat little rows of fish crackers lined up on my baking sheet just so. The recipe claimed it was easy, and it was!

Abigail helps me in the kitchen sometimes. She invites herself onto the kitchen counter and we have fun. Here was our fish cracker reality.

We baked with our hats on because it was so cold in our house! Actually, because I didn’t want two greasy hair pictures in the exact same shirt in one week. Please note the shirt has been washed. Also just want to point out to the big wigs at Columbia that my thermal shirt AND awesome hat are from your store, which we love, in case you wanted to give us some free stuff. And also because I snipped a hole in the bottom of this shirt sewing Christmas ornaments last year and I’ve never gotten over it. ANYWAY…

Here’s Abigail’s step by step guide:

1. Let your mom make a “fish” cookie cutter from an aluminum can. As soon as that is finished, take it and squeeze it in your hand. (See above picture.)

2. Your mom will shred a bunch of cheese. Eat some. Then, watch as she blends everything in the food processor.

3. Color while waiting for the dough to chill in the fridge.

4. Roll out the dough and start cutting crackers.

5. Put the crackers on a sheet of parchment to bake. “Eyes! Eyes!” Don’t forget to use your finger to add eyes.

6. Make some “whales” for Hank.
7. Get down off the counter because stamping out a million fish gets a little boring, but don’t forget your free hug.
8. Enjoy! And remember to share.
*For the recipe and a much more appetizing step-by-step guide, go here!

Happy Weekend. Eat something yummy and do something fun together!