8:47 – I want to remember our mornings when we have nowhere to be. We eat breakfast in the sunroom, run to Starbucks (despite their horribly offensive red holiday cups this year… I kid), the girls watch Sofia the First or Daniel Tiger while I sew. We are usually so busy that it’s nice to have a special treat of eating in front of the TV.10:02 – I want to remember this time with Harriet. I totally hate this age when she has so much to say, but she doesn’t have the words to say it. This moment, she had something terrible to tell me about this ball, but I just couldn’t figure out what she was saying. Then she spent my entire shower yelling at me to help her find her backpack (that ended up being on the floor in the hallway…). She is whiny and screechy. I’m not sure why I want to remember all of this, but I get the feeling it will be funny to look back at it all. Right? 10:48 – I want to remember how difficult the girls are in the car these days. They always want what the other one has. You can tell by how firmly Alma is holding Hodor and Bear. Obviously, Harriet was whining and screeching about wanting just those things. Driving is frustrating these days, but maybe in the future, I’ll miss it. Maybe they won’t need me or want anything to do with me or their cute little toys. Maybe…? 10:57 – I want to remember their wonder (and their happiness at being out of the car). Right here Alma said, “I don’t want to smell the flowers because of allergies.” The she smelled the flowers. She doesn’t have allergies, by the way.11:03 – I want to remember all the beauty of Autumn. Snowberries are a favorite, and it was fun to be able to share them with the girls. We also call most wild berries ‘bird berries’ because I want the girls to know not to eat them – they are only good for birds. So far, this has worked to keep them from eating random poison berries. 11:05 – I want to remember how Alma asked literally every person on the sidewalk from our car, past a dorm, to the museum the same question: “Do you go to college?” Everyone chuckled and answered that yes, they were going to college. It was sweet, and I loved it because it’s helping to plant the seed that college is something that she should do. 11:17 – I want to remember these sweet friends. I love that our kids won’t remember a time that these kids weren’t in their lives. Since it was a holiday, a lot of my friends (and their kids) had the day off of work and school, so we made plans to meet at the Museum of Natural and Cultural History. I’d never taken the kids there, so it was especially fun. Not to mention the cool backpacks that each kid got to wear. And the fact that Harriet’s was almost bigger than she is.12:03 – I want to remember how these kids were curious, engaged, interested, and awesome. The museum is set up so well, and our kids did a great job exploring.12:05 – I want to remember how this girl tries (and succeeds) to keep up with the big kids. She’s difficult these days, but watching her learn and grow is a joy, truly. 12:30 – I want to remember how big these kids seem to me. I know I will look back at this day and think that they look so tiny, but right now I want to remember how big they seem.12:32 – I want to remember these friendships. 12:48 – I want to remember how we got lunch at one of the dorms, and ate outside. I’d like to forget how crazy it was trying to wrangle two girls (plus the others), pick out food for us, order it, pay for it, and not lose either kid. But I want to remember how, as we were leaving the food court, Jane said, “And as they leave, they throw condoms to the audience.” I’m sure watching all of us with our kids was enough to inspire abstinence in at least a few of the college students. 1:07 – I want to remember how Harriet pouts. It’s adorable and sad and pathetic. This was a particularly lovely pout. It was actually nice because I knew where she was as I got Alma into her carseat. After this, she didn’t want to get in the car, so I called her bluff and said “Bye!” and got in my seat – she jumped right up with a big smile and got into her carseat with no problem. One point for me! 3:49 – I want to remember how Alma likes to take my camera and take photos. This one worked out because it’s nice to have photos of me in these posts, since I’m the one usually taking the photos. I also want to remember how busy I’ve been getting some Christmas things ready. 4:41 – I want to remember how, whenever Rory comes over, it becomes a dress-up party. They change and play and run and dance.4:45 – I want to remember how Harriet says Sofia: Yii-a. I want to remember how Harriet says unicorn: Coa. I want to remember how Harriet says Alma: Malma. 4:53 – I want to remember Poppy’s sweet red curls and how much Alma loves her. She’s funny and happy. Having friends over is Alma’s favorite thing, and to be honest, we all love it, too. 4:57 – I want to remember these three. Right now they’re the big kids (Poppy will catch up soon) and they are the best. I want to remember the way Harriet still sucks on her fingers and rubs her eyelashes. I want to remember Alma’s dramatic flair (look at those pinkies!). I want to remember how I forgot to take any more photos because we were just having a good time with our friends, getting pizza, eating pizza, talking about god and God, and Heaven and heaven. Sometimes it’s better to just put the camera down and live and remember.
But, spoken words. Spoken words hold a power that is hardly ever matched. Look at Churchill and how he inspired a damaged and hopeless nation. Look at Lincoln and how he united and freed and led. Look at King and how he changed the world and accomplished something impossible.
I’m watching my two-year-old discover the power of her voice. A couple months ago, she didn’t have any words. Now, if you’re listening, she’s telling you everything on her mind. Everyday she learns new words, and figures out how to pronounce them. There is a power in her words, and she’s just learning how to use it.
I can’t tell you how many times during each day I say, “Use your words.” I’m not only telling my kids to communicate what they need with words, but I’m telling them that their words have power. I’m telling them that their voices have power.
There are some words that hold more power than others. One word I teach my girls to wield and use is this – no. No. When we are playing and they say ‘no,’ or ‘stop,’ I stop. It feels like my girls are too young to even be affected by the rape culture in which we live, but I know that it is irresponsible to just ignore it. I need to teach my girls to honor themselves, and to know their worth.
I teach my girls that they can say ‘no’ to anyone. If I ask for a hug and they don’t want to hug me, they have the power to say ‘no.’ If grandparents are saying goodbye and want a kiss, but they don’t want to, they have the power to say ‘no.’
Sometimes, when we’re out, Alma will scowl at strangers and refuse to talk to them. She won’t give them high fives or say hello. I appreciate this from her, I know that she’s doing what feels right. It feels strange, but I try not to change her in these moments.
“I won’t raise her to be nice, to give her laugh away… I can’t trust this world to teach their sons how to treat my daughter, so I will raise her to be a sword, a spear, a shield.” – Elizabeth Acevedo
I want my daughters to know the reality of their world, and I want them to be prepared for anything. I am teaching them to talk, but I’m also teaching them to use their words. I want them to see the world with wonder and joy, but not naivete.
This is a world where they need to be spears and shields, but it’s also a world “made out of sugar, it can crumble so easily, but don’t be afraid to stick your tongue out and taste it… Always apologize when you’ve done something wrong, but don’t you ever apologize for the way your eyes refuse to stop shining, your voice is small, but don’t ever stop singing. And when they finally hand you heartache, when they slip war and hatred under your door and offer you handouts on street corners of cynicism and defeat, you tell them that they really ought to meet your mother.” (Sarah Kay)
I also want to teach my daughters the power of another word – yes. I want them to go out into the world with hope and excitement. I want them to embrace the world and everything that comes their way. I want them to try and say yes and yes and yes. I want them to see me as who I am – a positive, hopeful woman. I want them to know that their mother isn’t scared to live in this world. I see the wonder in the world every single day.
Sometimes when we’re out, Alma is amazingly outgoing and personable. She will ask strangers if they want to come over to our house. She will hold hands with someone she just met. She will smile and dance and play. I also appreciate this from her. I love her innocence and her belief that the world is good and that people aren’t out to hurt her – I agree with her that this, for the most part, is true.
I want my daughters to trust that this world is good, but to be ready for when it isn’t. And I’m going to show them poems, and teach them words, and tell them to never stop using their words.
The title says it all. Halloween was rainy. It didn’t stop us, though! We headed out with Jane, Rory, Poppy, and Rachel.
This was the third year we’ve spent Halloween with this crew. I hope we it was the third out of infinity. It will be fun when we go trick or treating with Rory’s kids (because obviously he will marry one of our girls and Rory’s kids will, in turn, be our grandchildren… anyway…).
Before we went trick or treating Alma said to Rachel, “We will go trick or treating, then we will come home and Mommy will take a picture of you tickling Harriet.” This girl has such an amazing memory. It blows my mind sometimes. I mean, maybe she had recently seen this photo from three years ago:
So, we had Rachel over for dinner, then we grabbing umbrellas, boots and glowsticks and were out for about an hour. We were soaked. We had buckets full of candy. It was great.
We came home and warmed up.
And, of course, Rachel tickled Harriet:
Last Christmas, Alma’s gift from my mom and step-dad was a camping trip with her cousin Liam and their dads. They decided to go to Silver Fall State Park. Of course, it turned out to be the first rainy weekend in months. They went anyway, and decided to play the camping part by ear.
When they got to the park, it was sunny and warm. They hiked around the waterfalls, in the woods, and had lots of fun. They had a picnic lunch in the lodge and hiked some more. Alma and Liam are just a few months apart in age, so it was fun for them to get to spend so much time together. One of the stories they came home with was from the caves. Alma said to Liam, “Will you protect me?” and Liam replied, “I AM SCARED.” Alma has been looking forward to her camping trip for months. She would tell me, “I’m going camping with Grams and Grandpa. You are not coming. Harriet is not coming. Daddy is coming.” She was very clear about this. There was no way I was going to sneak into the car. Of course, the rain showed up. They embraced the water and got soaked. At this point, it didn’t matter if the rain was falling, or the creek was splashing. It was warm enough that it was still fun. It was so wet, though, that everyone decided to head home. They realized they would have just spent the whole night in their tents as a fire would have been impossible and everything would be too wet to sit on. I don’t think Alma was too disappointed. They got to do all the fun things of camping without sleeping on the wet ground. I can’t wait for this to be an annual tradition. Maybe next year Grams and Grandpa will take Alma and Liam without their parents… maybe they’ll take Harriet, too!
The photos in this post were all taken by Jesse. He did a great job, didn’t he?
The blog has kind of gotten away from me this week. I’ve had a few posts planned, but my camera has been held hostage in my parents’ car. If I take some of our homebrew, they say I can have it back. But until I can get around to doing that, I thought I would just write.
Right now, I’m sitting at a coffee shop. My back is to the fire and there is a distinct Autumny feel in the air. It’s colder, there’s a sharp breeze. I can smell wood smoke from fires in the neighborhood.
I’m sharing a long, wooden table with two older women and a sharply dressed boy. They each have a copy of the New York Times crossword puzzle. They are discussing all the answers, and it’s one of the most heartwarming things I’ve ever seen.
The boy is probably in middle school, but he acts much older. He has a dark plaid button up shirt, a charcoal vest, and a maroon necktie. He knows the answers for philosopher’s quotations, and other literature questions. He just asked one of the women for the definition of ‘iambic.’
I think a lot about what I can do for my kids that will help them turn out like this boy. There’s something that I do each time I substitute teach. I look at all the girls in the class and decide which ones I want Alma and Harriet to be like. It’s always the girls who are creative, funny, personable. The ones who are helpful and comfortable speaking with a grown-up. Not necessarily the most popular, or the ones with the best hair. One day I wrote down all the things that the good girls are like – they draw, they read, they participate, they volunteer, they have boy friends, but not boyfriends (although, a boyfriend like this crossword puzzle boy would be fine with me).
As Alma and Harriet grow up, I am learning more and more about their personalities. Alma is gregarious; she says hello to everyone and often invites them to come to our house. Harriet is more reserved, and very stubborn; she can throw an epic fit if she doesn’t get what she wants.
Another thing I do when I sub is try to find the girls who most remind me of my girls, and this isn’t always the same girl as the one I described above. For Alma, it’s usually the girl who is most like I was in middle school.
So far, I think that Alma is pretty much just like me – she looks like me, she acts like me. In middle school, I was a weirdo. I had lots of friends, but wasn’t the queen bee or anything. I liked musicals, dance, music, and boys. I danced around the hallways like a goofball. My locker was very ‘cultural’ – I had ticket stubs, postcards of Monet’s paintings – and I was very proud of this fact. I’m pretty sure Alma will be a lot like that.
I’m not as sure about Harriet yet. Granted, she isn’t talking much yet, so it’s a bit hard to guess what her personality will be. I imagine that her fits are a result of her inability to communicate. I also image that her stubborn streak will stay. That’s okay – there’s nothing wrong with a strong woman with strong opinions and convictions. Lean in, Harriet. I just need to make sure to encourage her to use her strength for good and noble causes.
Well, they just finished the puzzle. Them women congratulated the young man for his skillful participation. With that, I will bring this to a close. If you’re still reading, thank you for letting me ramble on. Have a great weekend!
Our Fourth Annual Pumpkin Patch Playgroup. I could write a lot about this, but I’d basically just say the same thing I’ve said before (here, and here, and here, and here, and here, and here). I won’t put you, the reader, through that again. I’ll just say that I love raising my kids with these people.
Before I post the photos from this year, let’s take a little trip down memory lane, shall we?
2012: So many Ergos, so few people. This was one of our first organized outings. We have grown in families and children. Most kids weren’t walking yet. Leia and I were almost pregnant, but this was it! Seven kids in this photo!
2013: Quite a bit bigger. A few pregnant moms, two new babies, eleven kids. 2014: Even more! More families, more babies, more pregnant moms! Just more! Fifteen kids (I think!) 2015: Wow! So many kids! So many people! No pregnant women (as far as I know!) Nineteen kids! Today was one for the books. We were planning on going to our usual, traditional farm. Someone (Jane I think) checked their website and saw that they didn’t open until noon. We were all on Facebook discussing what to do. My family was already in the car, ready to go, so I suggested a change of venue (after changes of time and other ideas had been thrown out there). Everyone agreed and spread the word. It might not sound impressive, but it was quite amazing to watch 10 moms discuss and agree and mobilize all within about three minutes. I told you this playgroup was special. I love these people.
Hayride, pumpkin picking, corn mazing, fun, fun, fun. It was an oddly beautiful day. I love these sunny, crisp days, but I have to admit, I’m getting anxious for the rain to come (and stay for a while). Call me crazy!
I can’t write this post without writing about Roseburg. It is my husband’s town, where my in-laws live. My sister-in-law is from there. Some of our best friends. It is heartbreaking to have this happen there. It’s hard for me because this is the second big shooting that has happened close to me, and has affected people I know and love. Events like this always take me right back to high school chemistry class and the grief I felt when a high school in our community experienced a devastating shooting. The words that my teacher, Sharon Rodgers, spoke always come back to me in the aftermath of these horrific shootings-
I am only one, but I am one.
I cannot do everything, but I can do something.
What I can do, I ought to do.
What I ought to do, by God’s grace, I WILL.
Yesterday began beautifully. We went out to have an Autumn adventure with my parents. It was a beautiful day out in the country.
Whenever we go out to the farm, we drive though a little town called Coburg. Whenever we drive through Coburg, Alma says she doesn’t like it.
“Are we in Eugene?” Alma asks.
“Nope, we’re in Coburg.” I say.
“I don’t like Coburg! I want to go back to Eugene!”
“Well, we’re still in Oregon.”
That girl. Every single time. She really doesn’t like it. She says she doesn’t like the buildings, the plants, or the trees. It’s too small. I always tell her that I love Coburg. That I had good friends there, and I had sleepovers there. It concerns her that I have such a history with Coburg.
I got this idea from my friend Jodie (wife of author Anthony St. Clair). Jodie is a beautiful artist of many things. She is always creating, and her Instagram account is totally inspiring. I mean, I never thought I’d want to take up cross-stitch again, but she has me thinking about it. You should totally follow her.
She is homeschooling her son who is Alma’s age. She posted this photo a few weeks back:
I thought this was a great idea, but that Alma didn’t really need it. Then I started listening to Alma. Ever since my parents told her they were taking her camping, she’s been packing and talking all about it. I have to constantly remind her, “No, Alma, not today. Not this weekend… in 7 weeks!” and so on.
Today, on the way home from my mom’s house, I ran through EVERYTHING we’re doing in the next three months… “Okay, on Thursday we’re going apple picking. Then on Saturday you’ll see cousin Liam. Then we’re having friends over…. (etc etc etc)… then it’s Christmas, then dad’s birthday, then new year’s, then your birthday.” I think it might have overwhelmed her a little. Ha!
Anyway, Jodie’s calendar popped into my mind and I asked Alma if she’d like me to make one for her. Of course she said yes. So I did. I’ll add things as they come up, and she can cross off the days. I hope this helps!
We’ll put it on the kitchen door where we have lots of other important lists and stuff. She said she wants it in her room, but her room is crazy town right now, so I know it will get lost or destroyed in there.
- Drink hot cider.
- Drink pumpkin beer.
- Go to the pumpkin patch.
- Make art.
- Make Halloween costumes.
- Go trick or treating.
- Make new Beatrix top.
- Christmas gifts.
- Make apple crisp.
- Jump in puddles.
- Go on a date.
- #30daysof thanksgiving on Instagram.
- Go on a hay ride.
- Go to a Halloween party.
- Find some snow.
- Put the garden to bed for the winter.
Decorate for Autumn. Done!
- Make Christmas banner for CaroMade.
- Prep the December Daily album.
- Get some Advent things ready like:
Drink tea. Done! That one was easy!
- Do a puzzle.
- Eat some cheese.
- Plan our 10th Anniversary Party.
- Go to the library.
Here are some updates from our summer to do list. I think we did quite a good job checking things off the list. We didn’t get to everything, but we got to a lot! At the beginning of the summer, I was so anxious and scared about what I was going to do to keep all of us entertained for the entire summer. It all worked out and we had lots of fun. We got into a groove and had lots of help.
Pick a summer theme song. Right now I’m thinking of something by Jenny Lewis or Rilo Kiley. We just saw Jenny last week, so I’m on a Jenny/Rilo kick. Or I might throw back to some of my favorite summers, and go with a Dave Matthews song. DMB songs always make me think of summer.I decided on Budapest because it’s fun, it’s on the radio a lot, and Peter just did a cool version.
Take, and post to Instagram, a photo every day, starting June 21st and ending September 22nd– the first and last days of summer. Recently I’ve gotten into sharing my day to day stuff on Snapchat, and haven’t been posting as much on Instagram. I think I’ll look back and wish I’d taken more permanent documentation of these days. This summer, I will post (at least) one photo a day and I’ll use the hashtag #93summerdays if you want to play along! I did this pretty well! The past few weeks, I sort of stopped because it hasn’t felt very summery. I did have one friend play along, and it was fun to see our photos together in the #93summerdays on Instagram. Thanks for playing, Meredith! Run through the sprinklers. I tend to be an observer in this activity. I vow to participate this summer. I did this a couple times, but I also got in the kiddie pool, too! Play outside everyday.This is a long-term goal to get my kids to play outside everyday, rain or shine or snow or fog or whatever. I think they’re getting to be old enough, and creative enough that I can start this. Best to start in the summer, I figure! Not sure we did this absolutely everyday, but pretty darn close!
- Have a dinner of corn on the cob. When corn is in season, there’s nothing better. Nope. We had some good corn, but not a full meal. Then we started Whole30 and couldn’t eat corn anymore at all.
Go to a concert.We went to a few of the free concerts at the Hult Center. It was fun to have things to do out on the town.
- Stargaze with Alma. Ideally, I want to take her out into the country or wilderness where stars are brighter. I think it would be fun to let her stay up late (or get her up) and take her out, just the two of us. Nope. It got dark way too late for this. Maybe we’ll bundle up and do it this winter.
KonMari Method everything.This will likely be an entire blog post, but I have read The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up and am in the process of getting rid of things that don’t spark joy. It’s already been incredible, I can’t wait to continue. We are soooo close to being done! I did the photographs last weekend, and there are just a few boxes in the attic to tackle. I’ve been waiting for it to cool down so it’s not an oven up there. Go on a day date with Jesse. Hike. Camp.We went to my parents’ annual campout for Harriet’s first camping trip. She loved it and we all had fun!
Ride bikes.We didn’t ride as much as I thought we would…
- Make lemonade from scratch. Nope.
- Watch fireworks. Big ones this year, I think. Nope. Next year.
Build a sandcastle.In Coronado, Alma spent lots of time digging and building and ruining sand castles.
Make ice cream from scratch.We made a cherry dark chocolate ice cream. I liked it, Alma didn’t, Jesse was indifferent, Harriet likes anything.
Redecorate the living room– specifically the mantel. It still is covered in Easter decorations. Come on. Jesus has already ascended into Heaven and we’re fully in a new church season. Seriously, Carolyn. We did this, but now it’s time to do it again! Go to the beach.This should be easy. We have another vacation to Coronado planned. Yep. Alma loved it, Harriet fell asleep every time we went to play in the waves. Go to the mountains. Bake a crisp, or other summery dessert.Blueberry cobbler ftw. Swim in nature – ocean, river,lake, stream.
- Eat wild berries. Nope. What? How did we miss this?
- Take each Harriet and Alma on an adventure, just us. I don’t think we really did this… I mean, I spent some time with each of them, but not on purpose.
- Plan our tenth anniversary celebration. Ten years! What? We are still working on this one…
- Learn how to shop at thrift stores. They totally overwhelm me and I never buy anything. I love to idea of not wearing new clothes – better for earth, better for the workers who make clothes, cheaper – I just don’t know how to do it. Nope. Someday, maybe!
Go to the Country Fair.Photos here! Go to new parks.Maybe try for all the parks in Eugene? Is that crazy? Anyone want to attempt this with us? We went to lots of new parks and found some new favorites! Shop at the farmer’s market as often as possible.Maybe make it a weekly activity. We never really made it to the farmer’s market, but we went to the farm a lot! I decided it would be much easier with the girls to go somewhere that they can run around, feed goats, climb in hay, etc.
- Have a water balloon fight. Ugh! We never did this! Boo!
- Buy some treats from the ice cream truck. I tried hard for this one. We never even saw an ice cream truck, darn it! A couple times after the kids were in bed I heard one in the distance…
Go to the library.Another weekly activity? We went a lot, but not weekly. Swim in a pool.We went to my parents’ club pool a few times. Both girls love being in the water. Alma got really brave with jumping off, and even went off the diving board!
- Tie dye something. Nope.
- Go berry picking. Nope.