Monday, July 11, 2016

the best moments

the best moments are the ones like this.

having a hard day today; feeling like i am treading emotional water or just at a standstill in some parts of my life- so i am thinking back to this walk last week with my ruby. little words - none of which i remember now- and constant rain, and the sweetness of being with my daughter.

do you file those moments away for the days you need them? i try to, because when i am in a rough patch (even if it is a very brief patch) i need glimmers of goodness to remind me of all the redemption and beauty and wholeness that exists in my life. i am in a bit of a downward spiral this morning, and i am letting interactions with people in my life have more power than i should.

days like this i need to
move
pray
remember that i am a lover and prone to all the big feelings
hope in the promise of relational healing
bake
create
make lists of points of joy
spend some time with people who know and love me

what do you do when you feel stuck or sad or overwhelmed?

Saturday, July 2, 2016

happy july!

happy july!
we are on family vacation
+
thankfully
feeling a million miles away from life at home.

hello from my little munchkins to you


(happy oh happy)

today is my mom's birthday!

if you know her, and many of you do, you know that my mom is a pretty special woman.

of course she is not perfect (in fact, she'd be the first the declare that...in her self-deprecating way she might say that a little too quickly), but she is a great mom. i still learn from watching her; one of the things she keeps modeling for me is that no matter how old you are, it's important to be open to what those around you may be teaching you. 

my firstborn is a lot like i was at her age, and so as her parent, i realize some of what my mom was dealing with when she was raising me. i get these flashes of deja vu when my girls --especially #1-- say or do something and it's because i am recalling interactions i had with my mom when i was my girls' ages. parenting forces me to now love my children because my own mom loved chatty, creative, opinionated, headstrong, often complaining me. plus my parents had FOUR of us, all very unique and needing different expressions of love. it's no joke this parenting gig! i am usually struggling through the finish line of each day with just two kids! 

my mom is still quick to tell me ways that she failed or fell short as a parent, and of course there are ways she could have been a better mom. there are about 40 ways every single day i could be a better mom too, but her willingness to own that makes it easier for me to do the same with my daughters in the moment. 

i've always loved the painter mary cassatt. (i could write an entire post about that, but for now suffice it to say she was a woman artist in a world of male artists.) her tender portraits of mothers and her children capture such throwaway moments- the kind that just last for a minute or two but that are the bedrock of a relationship. now we have phones full of snapshots and selfies of these moments, but when she was painting, she was depicting sacred feminine spaces that were rarely the subjects of fine art. this past june i went to the met in new york, and loved this painting of cassatt's:
it reminds me of my mom, and how i used to climb up on her lap to snuggle or be comforted, how my own children now do the same, and how even as an adult my mom is a safe place for me. 

so on her birthday i say 

thank you, mom for letting me put my small hand in yours
for letting my climb up on your lap
for teaching me how to have faith when all seems like darkness
for showing me what it means to love well

i hope we celebrate (at least) 30 more of your birthdays! 

Thursday, June 16, 2016

summer workin'


happy summer!

i am still in lovely (although super cold and windy) tahoe,
and enjoying a respite from the daily grind at home.
(how incredible is this view?)
 i'm also hustling to knock some new illustrations and sketches out for a monday morning deadline.
thankful for matt and the way he takes over parenting/meals/play and planning so that i can work (even on vacation!)

i think it's kind of funny that without fail, every single summer, within a day of leaving my house on vacation? a freelance deadline comes up. instead of lounging by the lake i am lounging by my laptop in the main lodge, trying to get enough of a wifi connection to email my new design ideas. it's inevitable, but as a freelancer i don't really have a choice. if i want more work i have to say yes. 

somehow the pressure makes me more productive, and i've scrambled the last couple of days to come up with a bunch of ideas, "scanned" them by taking pictures of them with my phone, tried to tidy them up and correct correct as much as i could on my phone and just finished emailing them off. the fact that it is pretty chilly out and that we haven't been able to get in the water or stay for very long at the beach has made working this week a little easier.

i try to only spend part of the day working, or work when matt and the girls are resting or reading so that we still get a healthy dose of family time.

now? back to my family and the windy beach and no more staring at a screen!
hope your day - whether you're working or playing - is a good one!

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

sacred space

on vacation.

matt reading mary oliver poems to ruby
climbing on the rocks for hours
quiet moments with my girls on the beach
watching the ever-shifting sky
dusk in the water
sitting on the deck
the older i get the more it feels that the seemingly throwaway moments are the most sacred and profound ones, the ones that get etched deep into your body's memory so that even if you forget them specifically they are written on your being somewhere? 

they become a part of you.

i think so.

who am i and what am i doing? (the vocational version)

(in my studio)
this friday we drove up to tahoe for our annual week of vacation. it was a quick turnaround, with school ending just the day before, but once we got on the road i was so grateful to be heading away from our regular grind. we always drive through davis, which is about an hour from oakland, and the town where my undergrad alma mater uc davis is. (matt graduated from davis too, although no - i wasn't a child bride; we didn't get married for another six years...but that's another story.) we pulled off the freeway there to grab some lunch, and the traffic was backed up way onto the offramp. then as we inched our way to the light every lane was at a standstill. why was there so much traffic mid-day in davis of all places? could it be graduation? so early in june? i grabbed my phone and did a quick search and sure enough, it was graduation weekend. 

not a big deal...except.
i graduated from uc davis too.
in 1996.
yes, as in 20 years ago!?!

graduation doesn't feel like yesterday, but it doesn't feel like twenty years either. despite the fact that i have been posting about time racing by (it is), i am totally content with my life and what it looks like. that said, about a week ago i got a text from a friend saying, "i told my husband i think i'm having a midlife crisis. do you think that's possible?!" mid-life crisis is my middle name, so of course i said, "yes, totally possible. you probably are. me too!" 

here is the thing. i have now been out of college for 20 freaking years. 
i've been out of graduate school for nine! 
that's a lot of time, and i only have ONE life, 
so reflecting on twenty years, 
reflecting on nine years, 
reflecting on how i am using my time can be sobering. 
(detail of work in progress)

this school year (september until last week) is the most time i've had to work since my children were born eight years ago. before monrovia was born matt & i talked about how we wanted to handle childcare and our jobs. we decided at that time that as much as was possible that we would try to be with our kids before they went to school full-time. as an artist and illustrator, and with the flexibility of matt working with our congregation, we figured we would be able to be the primary caregivers for our kids even though it meant significantly less income for us, and we knew it would affect my own professional progress. (sidebar: this is a privilege and a luxury that many aren't able to do. others wouldn't choose this route, and that's fine too. for us it was a good choice.)

when we found out monrovia was deaf and that she would be starting school almost immediately as a baby, we had to reassess what that was going to look like, because it was different than we anticipated. when she was a baby, she went in a pack and play in my studio. when i drove her an hour away to deaf school i brought my freelance deadlines with me and worked on a couch at the school. when she slept at night, i stayed up late working sometimes until 2, 3 and 4 am. matt shifted his schedule around so that he could volunteer at our preschool co-op or take monrovia to appointments. this routine continued when ruby came into the picture. 

workable, yes. a small season in the long journey of life, yes. ideal for cranking out lots of work and making huge strides in my career? not really. but worth it? still yes.
(detail of painting, whitewashed, 2016)

some of the conflicts and the loves of in no particular order: 
i love painting. i love making illustrations. and yes, i love being a mom. 

and yet.
for so many years these loves have waged a certain war against each other for my limited time. 

i don't have a regular job with a boss and co-workers and annual reviews. 

i have me. in the studio. 

trying to decide where and how to allot my time: 

how many hours to my paintings? how many hours to my illustrations? 
should i lean in to my fine art studio practice? 
or put more energy into my commercial/freelance work?
should i divide my website into two separate sites? or keep it as one?
should i start working on that book project i've been wanting to do, 
or is that just one more project that stretches me thin?
should i be more savvy when it comes to social media? 
when do i leave the studio to go on field trips? 
or help out when the teacher is desperate for a volunteer? 

then throw in the question
is my work even good enough for me to be still pursuing it 
or should i move into some kind of more stable job with benefits & structure?

but what would i do?
what else would i even want to do?

i still face a blank page or blank canvas and wonder...
is what i am going to fill you with worth being made?
bottom line: what do i have to show for 20 years out of undergrad? i'm supposedly mid-career but i'm not mid-career. i don't regret the choices matt and i made so that i'd be mostly home with our girls, but i see how it's affected my professional accomplishments, and sometimes i feel lame about it. i still have a lot of fear and insecurity about the work i make- both my paintings and illustrations. and they feel so very different. they are both a part of me, but to look at them at face value they look unrelated and random. 

so a few weeks ago i went away for a couple of days to think, plan, be still, draw, think about all of these questions that rattle around in my brain and fill me with doubt. a couple of full days with no distractions, no kids, no housework, no school drop off or pick up for the girls, no wifi.
i spent hours writing and thinking about where to put my time, and how to divide up my energy. 
do i pour my time into this?
(work in progress)
or this?
(the bottom three cards- all my designs- happened to be lined up in a local store)
in the end i decided something really revolutionary and profound, and it was this:
WHATEVER.

whatever, as in...i am both of these things and all of these things and i make paintings and greeting cards and illustrations and i am a mom who takes longer to get things done in my studio because i am also raising two human beings. so whatever! to the voices in my head that say that blurring the lines and spilling over and failing and trying again and working in slow motion and across genres is a negative thing. whatever to my preconceived ideas of where i should be at 41 years old. 

when it comes down to it, i think that the very same way i have to reframe my self talk with my body and health i have to rethink my inner dialogue about making, how i see success, the reality of what my expectations are professionally. first and foremost i have to stop comparing my life's work to other artists & illustrators, because their story is not mine. and that's a good thing. i am working on owning the conflicting loves of my life to see them as a strength rather than a deficiency.

i came home from my personal retreat with more than just whatever. i looked carefully at my current commitments, accomplishments for the last year, ideal projects i'd want to do and came up with some specific goals; i am reworking my website, starting the book project i've been wanting to do, expanding my illustration work, finishing a series of paintings, and spending time looking at how much i can actually volunteer with the girls' school. 

so whatever to our imagined and real critics. let's kick them to the curb, shall we? 

and your homework...tell me: are there voices in your head that make you question yourself or compare your life's trajectory to others? maybe it isn't professionally. maybe your personal life- friends, relationship status, whether you have kids or not- looks different than you expected or hoped. how do you combat your insecurity or doubt? 

Sunday, June 12, 2016

lord have mercy

a year ago this week, we were in lake tahoe on vacation. i opened up facebook at some point and saw the news about dylan roof's horrific shooting in a charlestown, south carolina church, killing nine.

today, again on vacation in tahoe, i happened to check in on facebook and my feed was full of terrible news: of the mass shooting in orlando last night.

a year later another slaughter of lives.

i have a heavy heart tonight as i think of the families of those wounded and killed. grieving for the hate that leads some to kill. weary of the broken parts of our world.

most of you know that i come from the christian faith tradition, and to live and move in that faith means to believe that somehow and somewhere god is at work to bring healing in even the most devastating, ugliest places.

it also means to believe when it feels impossible to believe; our actions as human beings against each other, often in the name of god, cause so much damage and breakage.

but when impenetrable darkness surrounds as it does now-
in the massacre of 50 sacred human lives-
before any hope or goodness can be named
before god can be seen
there is a lament.

a deep and holy lament that cries out
why?
how long?
where are you?
how can this be?

many times when i've been at a loss for words 
or
when i don't understand
before i have the strength & wisdom to act
all i can do is pray
the ancient prayer
lord have mercy. 

lord have mercy.
hear our prayer.
move us to act for goodness, justice & mercy.
lord have mercy.


yep, i did whole30 & survived!

a few weeks ago i posted about my experience doing the whole30, and since them i’ve gotten a few texts, emails, and in person questions asking me more about it, so here you go! whether you’ve done one yourself, or think it’s whacko, or are considering doing one yourself, read this and let me know what you think!

whole30 is a month long food experiment (at least that’s what we call it in our house) in which you strip away foods that may be causing negative effects in your body in order to push reset. these foods can cause inflammation, affect your metabolism, your sleep, etc. so you to take them away for 30 days and then slowly reintroduce them back in when your body is in a blank slate status so see which of them you should probably live without and which don’t seem to affect you that much. 

you can read much, much more about whole30 on their website or in their related books, but here’s the skinny: for thirty days, you eat only whole, unprocessed meat, seafood, vegetables, fruit, and good fats.

you don’t eat any kind of sugar/sweetener (real or fake and that includes the “healthy” ones like honey, agave, etc.), alcohol, any grains, legumes, soy, dairy, or carrageenan/MSG/sulfites.

this doesn’t seem too hard until you start reading labels and realize that the aforementioned ingredients are in freaking everything. sugar, soy and grains are snuck into so much of the food we eat! there are foods that are whole30 compliant that fit the parameters and help make a whole30 successful, but it takes time to track them down.

oh, and you can’t weigh yourself for the duration of the 30 days. this is not just because whole30 isn’t a diet or weight loss program (although you will probably lose some weight if you do it- both times i did it i lost ten pounds), but because it is about shifting and transforming your relationship to food, which for many of us (ok, at least for me!) is also connected to the numbers on the scale. see my previous post about this and my 5 billion body issues.

last thing? whole30 is all or nothing. dramatic i know! but it’s 30 days of no slips, no cheating, so sneaking, no secret eating, so tasting just one bite of this or sampling a spoonful of that. this is what held me up for so long. i really didn’t think i could go for thirty days without eating a teensy bit of something on the forbidden list. spoiler alert: i did it without any mess ups! twice! 

in case this post sounds like i sailed through the thirty days without complications? SO not true. some days it's going to suck. you're going cold turkey on lots of staples and your body may freak out. i had major digestive issues the third week, got cranky without sugary treats, really missed the ritual of wine or a cocktail after a long day or in social situations, wanted to default to some of my fast and easy routines (like toast for breakfast), etc. i longed for homemade baked cookies and alcohol! i really wanted to mindlessly snack. but i got through it, and then was glad when i did.

based only on my personal experience, here are some tips that i think help going into a whole30 food experiment.


  • look at your calendar and make sure you can really commit for thirty full days. both of the times i’ve done it, i made sure to plan it knowing that it didn’t coincide with important social events (ahem, like my birthday, my cousin’s wedding, matt’s birthday). it isn’t that i couldn’t have done whole30 during those times, but it is much harder to stay compliant when you are eating a lot at others’ homes, restaurants or while you’re traveling. for my cousin’s wedding which was across the country, i knew that we would be eating at either friends and families houses or in restaurants while we were there, so it would make that time more stressful than enjoyable to be on whole30 in that context. that isn’t to say that i went crazy and ate whatever i wanted, since i had only recently finished my first round of whole30. i did choose carefully what i ate and drank, but also didn’t feel guilty about it because i was being intentional and selective. so yes, i had cheesesteaks, a hoagie, a clamshell (a powdered donut stuffed with custardy frosting), and my friend shelly’s amazing homemade scones. 
  • get one of the whole30 books. you don’t have to buy it; check it out of the library or borrow someone’s. mine was given to me as a birthday present. this isn’t imperative, as you can also look up stuff online; there are so many resources on different websites! i still liked having a physical guidebook with recipes, what to expect during the month and the philosophy behind whole30. i looked at it all the time, and made quite a few of the recipes out of it. 
  • do it with someone else! my first round matt did it with me, and my sister and some friends were also doing it at the same time. it really helped to be doing it with other people because we could text each other or complain or count down the days together. when matt did it with me he cooked a lot, which made it easier to stay on track. it also made it a lot more doable as a family!
  • expect to spend waaaaay more time the first week or two grocery shopping and looking at labels. i already look at labels, but there are so many ingredients that are thrown in to items that you would never expect and so many aren’t allowed on whole30 that checking every single thing you normally buy adds a healthy amount of time to your shopping trip. i love chicken sausages because they are an easy and healthy protein. guess what! almost all of them have 2% or less of sugar (plus other non-compliant ingredients) other items that took some time to find? compliant versions of chicken stock, coconut milk, dijon mustard, alternatives to soy sauce, kombucha. the first few weeks i did a lot of “can i eat this?” and then googling it in the grocery aisle or at home in my kitchen. 
  • if you have kids and you can swing it, go shopping without your kids! they aren’t so into the extra time that it takes to read the labels and hunt for compliant food. if you do take your kids along (which i inevitably had to), make it a trip where you’re buying just vegetables, fruit and proteins that have no additives where you have to scan the label. 
  • expect to go shopping more often and to (probably) spend more money than usual. shopping for whole foods means lots of trips to the store or farmer’s market. i found myself underestimating how quickly i’d go through fresh vegetables since you’re eating them at every meal. 
  • prepare to chop a lot! i don’t think it’s that much more prep than we usually do for meals, but since you aren’t using other fillers in your meals (sauces, pasta, rice, grains), you have to build flavor and variety with whole foods….which means chopping, peeling, dicing!
  • leftovers are your friend. make extra of any compliant recipe! i loved big ole recipes of soup, ragu, curry, etc. that i could eat throughout the week, streamlining meal prep. i’d throw them over cauliflower rice (frozen from trader joe’s or make it yourself) or sweet potatoes or potatoes. i’d make a big batch of compliant chicken sausage, roasted or grilled meat, roasted vegetables and then mix and match at different meals. hearty kale based salads can last for more than one meal. i’d also make a big salad without dressing, then add protein, more veggies and a homemade dressing whenever i was ready to eat.
  • expect to make new recipes or figure out how to tweak recipes you know and love.
  • follow whole30 accounts on social media. on instagram i follow whole30, whole30recipes, whole30approved, and wholelifesisters just to name a few. i also follow whole30 on facebook. whole30recipes has great and diverse recipes every day! 
  • give yourself 10 minutes to let cravings pass. and guess what? they will! 
  • exercise your “it’s ok to say no” muscle! this one is really, really hard for me. i am so influenced by what others around me are eating, and i often sabotage myself by mentally making good choices and then changing my mind dependent on what others are eating. when people offer me food i feel bad saying no, or i feel obligated, or i feel high maintenance saying, “oh, sorry i can’t eat that.” but saying no isn’t as big of a deal as you think it is, and no one really cares. there are food pushers for sure (and you realize that if you spend any time with other people and food and you are on whole30 or any other type of food modification), but saying no repeatedly is a good way to remind yourself that you are in control of what goes into your body. remember: you aren’t passively inhaling food, you choose every item that enters your mouth. 
  • include your kids! yes, really! my girls are pretty good eaters, but they both have complicated lists of foods they won’t eat. if you are shifting towards eating less crap and more whole food, shouldn’t they be too? this is what it looked like in our house: if we had blt’s, i had a blt salad (with compliant bacon) and my kids ate blt's on whole wheat bread. if we had chicken curry, i ate it over cauliflower rice with lots of vegetables and they had regular rice with a little bit of curry and lots of vegetables. if we had carne asada i skipped the tortillas & sour cream or cheese but had all the compliant fixings (salsa, guacamole, etc.) we didn’t make two entirely different meals: a whole30 one and a kid one. we just cooked healthy whole food and then let them keep some of the items that were taking a break from. for some families the hardest part for kids might be flavored yogurts and processed snacks. my kids don’t eat that many processed snacks; however in their lunches they might have some crackers or pretzels, and sometimes they’ll have pasta or a half-sandwich. otherwise they have veggies, fruit and nuts. i didn’t mix up their breakfasts and lunches that much and turn them into whole30 meals, but dinner was a shared activity. i also didn’t make it that much of a big deal with my kids. i just said, “mommy and daddy are doing a food experiment to see if there are certain things that don’t make our bodies feel as good or as string. sometimes we eat too much sugar or foods that aren’t as healthy for us so right now we are trying to think about how we can eat without them.” 
  • these were my friends: (you still have to check the labels) gt’s brand of kombucha (no added sugar), applegate brand deli meat, saag’s chicken bratwurst, sweet and regular potatoes, trader joe’s ghee, coconut oil, cauliflower rice & their cruciferous crunch bag of kale/cabbage/brussel sprouts/broccoli, pederson’s bacon, avocados, la croix sparkling water! plus of course so many versions of salads and roasting everything! 
  • a sampling of whole30 from my month:
 

 (those bean or lentil looking things were actually seeds)
 (a typical breakfast for me-even though i don't usually eat eggs! scrambled eggs with veggies and compliant sausages. otherwise i ate dinner leftovers :))
 roasting up some of trader joe's cruciferous mix
typical lunch: grilled protein plus some vegetables

 
i didn't make this pretty curry, but chicken curry was a favorite! i used this recipe, and added in lots more vegetables (including potatoes) than it calls for.

i'm not in the cult of whole30, but it did give me some great and sustainable tools to apply to the rest of my life, and i'm eating way healthier and cleaner than i was. it acted as a great reset for me, and the second round was easier in a lot of ways than the first.

questions? whole30 experiences of your own that are the same or different? still think i'm crazy? (that's ok too)

talk to me.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

woohoo!

and just like that?
it's summer!
end of school? and we headed away for a week of vacation right away.
i feel so lucky to be writing this with an incredible view of lake tahoe.
it is a huge gift to have a week away from work and life (although i will be working a little bit from here), in a peaceful place with a price tag we can handle. 

outside right now it just started pouring rain (and thundering too!) 

even though we are currently stuck inside our studio cabin, we are all as happy as we can be. 
you can expect the following routine from our vacation week:
  • family games: chess with daddy (i opt out of games where you have to actually strategize), uno, checkers, connect four, dominoes, suspend
  • daily workouts for me
  • early morning paddleboarding for matt on lake tahoe while the rest of us sleep
  • lots of reading 
  • family walks
  • many hours sitting on our deck, lounging on the beach here, getting dragged into the ice cold water by our children who are apparently able to withstand the freezing temperatures (i did the same thing as a kid vacationing in maine)
  • blogging 
  • dining al fresco
  • rest time every day (for me that means thinking i will blog or read but i end up managing the girls while they read/work in their summer bridge books/try to be quiet, meanwhile matt attempts mediocre naps but we are in a studio cabin so there isn't anywhere for him to escape)
  • matt's cocktails! (since i am trying not to completely sabotage my clean eating and workout routine i am-sadly-rationing these very carefully)
very exciting, i know. pretty much the same every single day! but after a jam packed school year that has been racing from one thing to the next (and most of them wonderful commitments), the very mellow and unproductive time that is our week here is just what we collectively need. 

lots i'm thinking about and lots to blog about, so hopefully i'll be blogging all the week long! 
wishing you a restful weekend whether you are in vacation mode like we are, or in the grind of daily life.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

life in fast forward

"I like to think of motherhood as a great big adventure. You set off on a journey, you don't really know how to navigate things, and you don't exactly know where you're going or how you're going to get there." —Cynthia Rowley

in so many ways this feels like yesterday: holding hours-old monrovia in the hospital.
i don't think i'd ever been so tired at this point...so tired or so elated. giving birth and cradling this baby my heart had already cracked wide open within minutes and love for this little human had filled it up to overflowing. 

how strange parenthood is, how quickly you can slip into this new role as if it was always inside you, waiting. at the same time? so much is unfamiliar and foreign and that contraction doesn't go away as you pass into each new stage. i still feel simultaneously as if i am a mother deep in my core and yet i don't know what i'm doing on a daily basis. 

a gazillion moments since those first hours of her life - heartbreak and delight and laughter and tears and annoyance, and well you know, a gazillion real life moments. all of those moments, most of which we will forget or will find fading in specificity, add up to who we are today. 

it can't be, and yet it is! this morning i sent my baby off to school for her last day of second grade! 
she has had such a good year at school. to be honest, there have been so many very hard moments with friends, and it's been challenging to know how to parent her well in the midst of social conflict. growing up is hard! (insert lots of tears and tantrums here) being a mom is hard! (insert some tears and whatever the adult version of tantrum is here) but even with those inevitable growing pains, second grade has been wonderful. 

m with her (wonderful-funny-does-all-the things-she's-supposed-to-so-monrovia-can-hear-in-class-kind-structured-warm-patient-problem-solving) teacher. we love her. 

then there's this one! who knew i could love a little baby as much as i loved monrovia? and then ruby was born and my heart stretched a little bigger, as it is made to do.
she is so very different from monrovia, and i just love all the ways she's a force in her little world.

here she is headed off to the last day of kindergarten today! 
last night she was in bed, looking at a richard scarry book, trying to sound out the words & all at once i wanted to rewind back to infancy and fast forward to see what kind of a grown-up she'll be.

kindergarten has been magical. really. she's learned so much this year, and even though she will likely always be my-stay-in-bed-a-little-longer-and-ask-if-she-has-to-go-to-school girl, she has flourished. she, too, has such an outstanding teacher, who is kind and supportive and gentle. all things that my sensitive but fierce ruby needs. 

what does next school year hold? who knows.

of course i want the best for my girls - the ideal arrangement of students in their class, and the most suited teacher for each of them; i want them to thrive! but i know that being a parent is not just about giving them the best of things. it's about teaching our children how to negotiate life when it is less than perfect, when the teacher isn't great, when the kids in their class aren't the optimal combination, when things are rough for whatever reason. (i know that in my head, but that doesn't mean that i don't complain and absolutely hate when the circumstances aren't what i would choose.)

i ask a lot of time these days.

i want it to slow down so i can soak in beautiful moments: watching ruby flip effortlessly on the play structure bars, lounging on the couch with the girls as we all flip through books, running through the sprinklers in the back yard, snuggling early in the morning, comforting monrovia after a hard day with friends. i want to fast forward through the rough: the girls' irrational tantrums, feeling overwhelmed as a mom, the hectic pace of life, the insane amounts of laundry produced in our household, the juggling act that it is to parent and work and do life. and yet we've got the gift and burden of moving through all of it at the same pace, with the delight of the good moments hopefully softening the weight of the crappy or mundane ones.

a year from now, as third and first grades come to an end, i will be astonished yet again at how all things press forward so relentlessly. time marches on, right? and it drags us along with it!

everything that the coming year holds will be by then woven into each of our stories, and my kids will have taught me how to be a mother for 365 more days, one day at a time.

Monday, June 6, 2016

today's awesome mom award

...doesn't go to me.

at 1:54 i got a text message from monrovia's teacher saying "your girls are out on the yard". it seemed kind of cryptic and i thought, maybe they are both having an extra recess and she thinks they're being cute together or something? about two minutes later i realized "oh my goodness it was a minimum day today and my kids of already been out of school for 40 minutes!" 

happy last week of school! i rolled in just shy of an hour late, to my children who were now waiting for me in the office. 

oops. yes, I knew it was a minimum day and then somehow as i worked in my studio i completely blanked. 

luckily my kids didn't seem to care because they got extra time to play. as you can tell they didn't hold my slacking against me. 


Sunday, June 5, 2016

farm to classroom!

one of my favorite things to do with the girls is chaperone their school field trips. i am lucky to have a flexible schedule, so i can often go with them and shuffle my work around. every time i have these amazing conversations with the kids - whether we walk, take the city bus, or i drive - and i get to know the girls' classmates in new ways.
this field trip, the last one of the year, was to the farmer's market in oakland's chinatown. the kids had made little journals ahead of time that they used to ask the different vendors questions: when was this food picked? how does it grow? where is your farm? how far did it travel to get here? how much per pound is your fruit?

we took the city bus downtown:


after we got off the bus, we walked a few blocks down to the farmer's market. monrovia's teacher giving the kids the guidelines for their time at the market.


the cuties i was responsible for walking around the market.

some of the vendors were so generous with samples and answering the kids' repeated questions. they sliced open new pieces of fruit and vegetables, and explained how to cook or prepare some of the more unusual varieties. they cut deals with the kids when they didn't have quite enough money to buy something.

we lucked out because it's stone fruit season so there were peaches, plums, apricots, cherries, and pluots in abundance! and really? we live in california so we always luck out in the produce department.
the kids each had their journals to record the farmers' answers, $2 to spend on fruit and a reusable bag to bring it home in. (when they got back to the classroom they cut up all the fruit and made a huge fruit salad!) even though they were only buying fruit they still stopped to look at all the booths.

considering cabbage
tasting honey
 
how beautiful are these daikon?
i brought these home and my children devoured them! (they tasted a lot like radishes)
this elderly man was playing beautiful music in the midst of the market, and although he didn't speak english, he motioned to a couple of the kids and had them sit down, positioning their fingers so they could play. it was a beautiful cross generational-cultural-linguistic moment & one of the reasons i love oakland!
there was so much goodness in this field trip: taking public transportation (they were remarkably well behaved), kids learning about where the produce comes from, trying new foods, comparing different varieties of the same fruit, discovering what goes into farming, meeting the people who grow the food, and even finding out how early some of the farmers wake up to come to the market (one vendor said 1:30 am!) we even ran into canvassers from one of my favorite non-profits, planting justice and i made the kids listen to their spiel! 
each year i fall in love with a new class of kids, with all of their quirks and charm and drama. i feel incredibly lucky that we've chosen to fashion our life so that i can go on adventures like this (and that my vocation gives me the ability/flexibility to). i think because i get to go and i know lots of parents or caregivers don't, i try to make all the kids feel like they have a special grownup along with them who cares about them and wants to hear about their little lives. you really never know what they're going to say- sometimes they blurt out things that are hilarious "are you 99?" and sometimes it's heartbreaking, "my mom can't get a visa to live here with us so i get to fly to see her this summer."

i probably won't be able to always go on as many field trips as i have the last couple of years. i also realize that as my kids get older they won't want me all up in their business, talking to their friends, and sitting next to them on the bus. for now i'm savoring these moments, and remembering that this season won't last forever! (um...in fact it's speeding by! i can't believe my little ruby is finishing kindergarten. insert sobbing emoji here)

(ps speaking of food....no one gave me any favorite summer recipes, so here's your second chance! ;))