If you read or see something that resonates with you, 
please leave a comment! I'd love to hear from you!


Finding gratitude and grace in a lovely quote

plaque at new site honoring women at PSU, Portland, Oregon

"Across the curve of the earth, there are women getting up before dawn, in the blackness before the point of light, in the twilight before sunrise, there are women rising earlier than men and children, to break the ice, to start the stove, to put up the pup, the coffee, the rice, to iron the pants, to braid the hair, to pull the day's water up from the well, to boil water for tea, to wash the children for school, to pull the vegetables and start the walk to market, to run to catch the bus for the work that is paid. I don't know when most women sleep."  - Adrienne Rich

I took this picture while in Portland last month. It would have been great for mother's day, but I was really feeling this after reading Eren's post (from This Vintage Chica) for today. My heart goes out to her.


Inspiration, weeding the garden of your mind, gratitude

One night, when my son was just over a year old, I couldn't sleep. I got up and wrote in my diary that I wanted to become the woman I am inspired by. This is not any particular person, it's just who or what I feel inspired by at any given moment. I had watched "Iconoclasts" on the Sundance channel earlier in the evening with the pairing of Ruby Dee and Alicia Keys. I hadn't really ever seen either one of these talented women before, but I found myself thinking about them in the middle of the night, and feeling inspired by them both. "I want to be the woman whom I am inspired by," I wrote. what does this mean to me now? It's led me to be a more conscientious mother. To be more conscious of the choices I make and how they affect my life. To strive to feel good - that means taking care of myself. I'll be a much happier wife and mother if I'm eating healthy and exercising regularly (although the exercise part can be challenging to get to at times). If I'm having an abundance of creativity I feel very inspired. Creativity spawns inspiration and inspiration spawns creativity. It is a wonderful cycle to be in.

I read a short article in Body & Soul magazine from the July/August 2008 issue about a book called Plant, Seed, Pull Weed: Nurturing the Garden of Your Life by Geri Larkin. "Larkin takes readers into her vegetable and flower garden to teach them a few lessons about what our minds and spirits need to thrive. One of the most important tasks? Weeding. 'If you have a garden, you'll get weeds...If you have a mind, you'll get junky thinking.'...So how do you rid yourself of useless, unnecessary thoughts? 'We stop feeding them the fertilizer of attention. As a result, our minds calm down, and as they do, we watch our lives become lighter, happier, and surprisingly more interesting. When the weeds are gone, you'll be amazed at how quickly everything else takes over. Beauty is there, expanding by the minute.'" I snipped this article and posted it on my wall. It's currently above my desk and I look to it whenever my mind is bogged down with negative thinking. It provides the same lovely lift that a gratitude list does and it doesn't cost a cent. It also reminds me to take stock of my life and to stop doing something if it isn't working for me. I partially credit this idea of weeding the mind of junky thinking for all the creativity I've had lately. It's amazing what shows up when my mind isn't cluttered by useless thought. I'm still working on this though.

I feel that lately some of my posts have been less than optimal. I have been a very busy bee working in this little "room of my own" on a big project that I will be able to tell you about in the coming weeks. It is an exciting time for me here, but also a little bit stressful, and this little blog has been taking the backseat lately. I hope to return to it more fully soon, with fresh inspiration.

When I remember to be grateful, I am inspired. So here is my little list of gratitude:

~the feel of old, well-washed linen in my hand
~an organized desk
~a well-taken picture
~packages in the mail
~memories of our trip to Boston (what a lovely city)
~pictures of Tristan when he was a newborn, baby, toddler (it's amazing what can be forgotten. Thank goodness for pictures!)


Green and white

yogurt in a bowl

The Apples for Poppyanne blog has sent me on a green and white treasure hunt this week for her "It begins with a colour..." series. Green and white is about my favorite color combination. I didn't have trouble coming up with too many photos for this one! 

 hydrangea leaf

swinging over grass

loitering fern


green tomatoes

strawberry flower


Lovely song

Ever heard of Gillian Welch? I love this woman's voice. And I like the song Dear Someone a lot. I was listening to it last night as I did dishes and watched my husband and son through the kitchen window washing the cars. These lyrics don't apply to me, but the melody sure does.

Unfortunately, I can't find the full length version online. But here is a sample (click here and then click the "sample" button.) Like a lazy evening on a front porch swing at the end of a Louisiana summer. That's what this song feels like to me.

I want to go all over the world
And start living free
I know that there's somebody who
Is waiting for me
I'll build a boat, steady and true
As soon as it's done
I'm going to sail along in the dreams
Of my dear someone

One little star, smiling tonight
Knows where you are
Stay, little star, steady and bright
To guide me afar
Blow, little wind, over the deep
For now I've begun
Hurry and take me straight into the arms
Of my dear someone
Hurry and take me straight into the arms
Of my dear someone



A growing boy

Tristan with rocks in hands

So far, I've been fairly lucky in terms of parenting a 2-year old. I'd heard when they turn 2, look out. But our little one seemed to have missed that and has been mostly a doll with exception to a few incidents that seemed to occur when he was overly tired. His personality had been changing slowly enough that I could adjust my parenting to work for his changes - at least that's how I see it. But recently, it seems that his personality is changing faster than I can keep up with. As a growing boy he has a certain amount of aggression that I didn't expect. Before I had a child I always assumed that parents would put trucks in boys' hands and dolls in girls' hands. But seeing how my son has grown around these types of toys, I now know I was wrong. Don't get me wrong, he has two dolls and a few stuffed animals and he can be very sweet and nurturing, but he does love his cars and tools. I did not place any truck into my son's hand. He picked the truck up, literally and metaphorically speaking. 

I have thus far felt good about my parenting but sometimes now I forget to listen to my heart or can't hear what it is saying through my frustration. If he's overly tired, he's overly aggressive. The late spring sun is difficult to work in - if it's light outside, it's daytime and he doesn't want to take a bath or go to sleep in the day! People don't sleep in the day, he says (even though he naps every day for 2 1/2 hours!), people sleep at night. "It is night time, but the sun stays up longer in the spring." Well, I'm speaking logic and he doesn't yet speak that language. So, I have to wait for fatigue to come, and it does. He's usually good about bath - it's really not very hard to get him to take one. But last night, after bath, he pulled my hair again! It started with him brushing my hair. I would want to brush his after bath and he wasn't crazy about that idea, so I would let him brush mine to make it an even trade. It was great for a time, then he discovered that he could get a rise out of me when he pulled a little too hard with the comb. That turned into his hand pulling. He seemed to think it was hilarious when I told him it hurt (little monster!) But last night I raised my voice at him and he cried. I felt like a bad mommy. He is growing so fast and I imagine that this is the 2-year old version of adolescence. Sometimes they do things you don't understand, nor perhaps do they, but something compels them to do something not nice, they want to push their limits, see what is possible, see what they can get away with, see what causes a rise in mom or dad, see what they can and cannot do, see if they can do what their imagination can do....on and on.

A few  months back, he woke up one morning itching his hands. When I looked at them they were splotchy red. When the little rash and his itching was still there the next day, we went to see his doctor, who gave us a pretty unsatisfactory answer. Over the next few weeks, the itchy rash disappeared but the skin on both of his hands cracked and then peeled off. Just like a snake. I guess maybe he was just growing out of his skin - literally and metaphorically speaking. Something I have to get used to as his growth becomes exponential.

Now I just have to learn to grow out of mine.


A new look at Jack and Jill, Looking to the past for answers

Lately I have been thinking about how people lived in the past, and how they were naturally more environmentally conscious than we are now because so much less was available. Machines weren't being made for household use yet, chemical companies weren't bombarding us with as many products and grocery stores had maybe one item available for cleaning. Might it have been vinegar? Or baking soda (which I'm finding cleans my sinks way better than the 7th Generation spray I was using)?

Surely, you've heard this:

Jack and Jill went up the hill to fetch a pail of water.
Jack fell down and broke his crown and Jill came tumbling after.

But have you heard the second stanza?

Then up Jack got and off did trot as fast as he could caper,
to old Dame Dob who patched his knob with vinegar and brown paper.

Why? Because vinegar is antiseptic, and it's been around for quite awhile. There are articles all over the web about this and vinegar's other myriad of uses. I mentioned once before that I am on a path to discover all the lovely things vinegar can do and what it can replace in my home: cleaning products, beauty products and things I can't imagine yet, but looking online can give me direction. I just have to try some of these myself.

One thing I thought it might work with is getting rid of ants. Since the weather has turned warmer, ants have invaded our kitchen and trying to keep them off the countertops and now the floor has not been fun. I looked online and several people said that vinegar can help. I tried it but it doesn't really help. It helps clean the floor, it gets rid of the ants for awhile, but then they return - not immediately, but eventually.

I've been thinking about how my lifestyle has changed lately, hanging clothes instead of machine drying them (by the way, our gas bill was reduced by over $100 the month after I started doing this), holding onto kitchen scraps for the compost, being more conscientious about what I buy and use, and wondering how all of us could look to the past to see how people lived in order to live more in line with the environment today. I'd like to ask anyone reading this right now to think about any "green" thing you do in your life that is not much different than how your grandmother or grandfather (or further back) might have done. Or better yet, something that you remember your grandparents doing that was better for the environment than a current norm. Please send me a comment about anything you come up with.

I think our predecessors were onto something.


The power of positive thinking

geraniums reaching for the sun

I am amazed by the power of positive thinking. It sounds corny, right? Out of some new-agey workshop, which both draw me in and make me a little wary. But what I am talking about is what I see with my own eyes. 

I seem to surround myself with people who get exactly what they go for. I was raised with the idea that "if you set your mind to it, it will happen," and "you can do anything you want to do." My friends apparently got the same message, because I can't think of a single friend or person in my everyday life who is not exactly where they want to be. Set a goal. Work toward it. Achieve it. It's all in the thought process right? Each goal that has been achieved started as an idea, and small goals were set and achieved until the outcome they wanted has occurred.

"I've decided to move to NYC. But first I'm going to get a job." Really, how can you get a job without going to interviews and what not...what a negative girl I am, really, because my friend C. did get a job before moving to NYC, and then within 6 months she was living there in an apartment with her new job. Nevermind what the economy has changed since then, the girl always lands on her feet. Amazing.

After years of teaching, another friend wanted to go back to school to become an occupational therapist. She started school last fall, and is on her way to getting her advanced degree. 

Another friend wanted to move to Portland, but get a job first. She got it. She's there. 

Another friend wanted to rent a house in a nearby town before she had her baby. She needed a certain number of bedrooms and had a few other specifications. She's living there now, and moved in just a month before her baby was due.

Another wanted not just to be a pediatrician, but to be a pediatric cardiologist. Wow. She's doing it.

Law school...applications are in.

My hubby wanted to start a business with his boys...done.

So when this positive thinking gets you to your goals, why not stretch that idea? What about the power of prayer? Does a collective force of energy toward a certain goal change the outcome of a situation?  

Yesterday when I was on my way out of the gym parking lot, I saw the person in the car in front of me talking to the woman in the ticket booth. The person in the car reached their hand out and the woman took it, and the person in the car squeezed her hand. Then I drove up. The woman told me what she had just told the other person, that her daughter who is 34 years old is in the hospital getting surgery for the 4th time and that the doctors say her arteries are clogged more than anyone they've ever seen for her age. "We're asking everyone to pray for her." By telling each person she comes across, she's aiming to garner a collective prayer, because the force of positive energy can be very powerful, so if a lot of people are sending the same message, perhaps that message will be met. Is it possible? I pointed out a lot of positive results based on goals - but these are all very tangible goals with tangible outcomes. What about what you cannot know? If this woman's daughter recovers well (and I pray that she does), is it a result of common prayer, or a result of luck, or a result of having a good surgeon? Or all three? There is really no way to tell, right? Anything is possible. I certainly think it's possible, but I can't point out any example because there is no way to prove tangible results. But since it is possible, why not try? The same way being conscious of what I am grateful for makes me feel better all the way around, a conscious prayer in the direction of another person may change the dis-ease in their body. And since I'm on the subject, I may as well list a few things I'm grateful for.
~open spaces,
~positive people,
~clean rooms,
~strangers who ask you to pray for them,
~strangers who say they'll pray for you (for no apparent reason),
~friends who remind me of all that is possible,
~parents who taught me that I can do anything I set my mind to (thanks mom, dad and Linda!).

By the way, today is my mom and aunt's birthday. They are twins. But not identical. Happy Birthday!


Fleeting Spring, fruit foraging, an early Summer weekend

basket of cherries

In these parts if you blink, you'll miss spring. Spring lasts about as long as a holiday weekend. Sometimes it will tease you as early as February where you'll get a warm day or two. In March it will tantalize you into thinking it's here! it's here! But then the rains and the winds will come and you'll feel duped. In April, you'll get your full bucket of spring. A week or two period where everything is lovely. If you're lucky you won't have any too hot days (but don't count on it). And in May, just when you think the going is good, that the world couldn't get any sweeter than this, spring turns on you and becomes summer. 

Summer here is hot. Yesterday, supposedly it got to be around 103 degrees. It's not my favorite like it used to be. With global warming, the smog of this northern California valley, and having a little boy with tender skin (I'm sure the sun thinks of it as "fresh meat"), how can it be fully enjoyed? But yet, I am still a summer girl. I always loved the summer growing up and that carefree feeling I used to get is still there, coming out in the early mornings when it is cool enough to enjoy, and in the evenings when the heat breaks to the 80's or 90's (hopefully) or 70's (if we're lucky). This weekend I got a taste of that, and those carefree memories.

Our neighbors, the one with the big urban garden? They are gone for the entire month of May. they have friends watching over their house and garden, but also asked us to come in and pick a bit before the birds get to things. Like cherries. Yes, cherries! Their cherry tree is full of lovely red morsels and already have a few bird bites in them, but we saved a basketful and I imagine another basket will be saved today. Somebody has to do it. My husband loves fruit. Growing up, his mother gave he and his siblings fruit as a treat (like, "finish your supper and you can have some figs") so he is in heaven this time 
of year as we take our neighborhood walks. Loquats on the trees free for the taking, 
japanese plums in the parks (he doesn't mind if they're a bit sour - in fact likes them that way), citrus left over from winter - lemons and oranges are always bountiful here in California (it's amazing what people don't eat from their own trees), and later this summer there are a few fig trees around these parts that the 'hoodies know about. Hopefully we'll get some of those before they've all been pilfered. Anyway, be warned: if you see us walking around your neighborhood, look out -  we are serious fruit pillagers. 

My mom found me a great quilt at a yard sale this weekend! For eight bucks I got this lovely
wedding ring quilt - but it was store bought, apparently. Not handmade as I hoped...but still it was nice. I washed it, hung it to dry, and took off our big winter comforter from the bed to replace with our new summer quilt. Much better. I also made some great finds at an estate sale that I am very excited about.

Saturday evening, sitting out in the backyard, we spotted a hummingbird on a wire. How often do you see that? I rarely see hummingbirds and I've never seen one still. But I ran to get my camera because he kept returning to this perch. My hubby said he thinks his mate or a nest is nearby. He's keeping his eyes out for somebody, anyway...

During Tristan's nap I got my office cleaned almost completely! I am very excited about an upcoming project I am making way for. Cleaning this office is a big part of that.

On Sunday afternoon, after nap, Tristan and I walked over to Grampa and Mimi's (my dad and step-mom's) house for a dip in their pool and some Sunday supper. I am so pleased that he enjoys water as much as I do. After supper, he wanted to go back in so we sat on the steps with Mimi and I went around to get the net to fish out one of his toys from the middle. Instead I jumped in. "Do it again!" Tristan yelled! I did. And again. He thought it was very funny. I was happy to cool off. 

A little bit later we walked home. I am happy to report that the temperature did in fact cool a bit and it is still. officially. spring.


High fructose corn syrup, groggy morning

I've mentioned before that I read labels, right? There's a reason for that. My (ahem) stepson left a message for my husband recently, and I watched as my husband listened intently, twice, then replayed it for me. He wanted his father to know that "Genny was right," (he he he) that high fructose corn syrup is really not good for you. Not just that, but that it is bad for you. He had done a little research. Corn. Fructose. These aren't that bad are they? It turns out they are. When they undergo the process that makes them into high fructose corn syrup (hfcs), they are. You can read a little bit about that here and here. Don't worry they are not super-long, boring articles. I found a couple that were short and sweet. Do me a favor, even if you don't read the entire articles, just click on that first "here" and peruse it before you read this blog entry any further (unless you're already well-informed on the ills of hfcs). Thanks.

I think the main thing to remember about hfcs is that it is cheaper to add as a sweetener than sugar, and as long as producing food is the gigantic industry that it is (for good reason: we have how many millions of people to produce food for?), the cheapest method will most always win out, regardless of the cost to our health. The other thing to remember about the items you see in food labels is the less nature had a hand in making it, the less likely it's good for you. This is not based on lots of research on my part, just common sense. It's hard because a lot of those ingredients have very complicated names and some of them are awful chemicals and others are just the scientific name for some ingredients. The third thing I go by? Ingredient list length. The longer the list, the more crap is in it - and the less likely I'll buy it. All this is leading toward a healthier life and being more conscientious about what I put into my body. Here's to having a mom and step-moms (o.k., there are two ladies I call step-mom but they both can be included here) who pay attention to what goes in. Thanks for teaching me.

This stems from something. Last night, we decided to take my lovely, cheerful, sweet son to get some ice cream at our local, old-fashioned ice cream parlor. Our local ice creamery is an icon in our neighborhood. It's been there since the 1940's. My step-mom grew up with it, I grew up with it, and now my son is growing up with it. It makes walking certain directions difficult but usually I'll just tell him that I don't have any money when he says he wants to go into the ice cream store (I purposely leave all funds at home), and that suffices, but occasionally we'll take him for a cone. We always regret it. Last night that lovely boy became a little wrecking ball! Recalcitrant, whiny, unpleasant. Why? Is it the sugar? I'll have to see if they use sugar or hfcs to make their ice cream. I am curious about the effects certain items have on our personalities. Personally I think things would be a lot more peaceful and there would be lot less health problems if everyone would just stop drinking soda. Yes, that puts it mildly, but you know what I mean. I'm looking forward to seeing this movie this summer, because I want to know more about agri-business and hopefully scare myself into eating better. You didn't think I just got a cone for my son, did you? Nah, I partook too. A kiddie-sized scoop of Butter Brittle. In a cup.

But I'm paying for it this morning.


Friday Gratitude

a moment of stillness on Willamette River - Portland Marina

Thank you to Erin from the blog Apples for Poppyanne for my gratitude list reminder. My mind is a blank otherwise.

Today I am grateful for ~
~hummingbirds outside my window.
~pomegranate blossoms in all their fire-orange glory.
~picture frames for prints, long rolled in the closet, waiting to be framed.
~original artwork I love to look at.
~drives to places where you can unroll your window, step outside and hear nothing.
~infinite possibilities from finite choices.
~opening the door to smell honeysuckle in the air.
~when people are conscious about the choices they make.
~discovering a blog and feeling really good and comfortable reading it.
~blank canvases and creating something where there was nothing.


The latest creative endeavors

turquoise ramikins with river stones

On the creative front, I have been busy. Sometimes my little projects take a backseat to chores, blogspotting, and other stuff but I have been making things. My little paper-cut collage card scenes have taken a backseat for awhile (the last one I posted was the Field of Poppies from April 4th) because I'm having so much fun with fabric and sewing. I got four cute little pieces from Sew Mama Sew that I wanted to use to make Tristan some nice summer pants. There is a nice little tutorial for making pants in the book The Creative Family that I purchased last month, and although it calls for repurposing an old shirt, it was easy enough to use the fabric, although I probably wasted more fabric than necessary. Of course I had to jump right in and try out my favorite fabric first, a cute little design by Alexander Henry 
 Toadstool but unfortunately cut too soon...I will need to increase that waistband! The next one I made was not to Tristan's liking. A dark green with froggies by Heather Ross. He didn't like the froggies on it, and wanted to know, "Where's the blue pants?" He had especially liked a blue that I had gotten, another one by Alexander Henry, called First Spring Light Blue. Ah, the blue pants. I'll make them for you little boy! These turned out very well. He wore them. He liked them. A successful story. 

I was also busy making this little buttercup bag (tutorial listed on my sidebar). I love Amy Butler fabric - so this was an obvious choice for me. I am almost finished with my belated spring top, also done with an Amy Butler fabric, but I've never used bias tape before so I'm waiting for mom or auntie to come over and give me a tutorial on that so I can finish my little smock top! It's so Easy by Simplicity turns out to be not so easy. At least not for me, but then, I'm a novice.

The photo at the top of this post of the two ramekins with river stones is through a favorite new blog of mine called Apples for Poppyanne. She's starting a new project called, "It begins with a color..." Her color this week is turquoise. I had these cute little ramekins being unused (can you imagine?) I love ramekins - in all different shapes, colors, sizes. I also had collected some river stones a few weeks ago. When I picked up the stones they were wet and I chose them because they were more brightly colored than the other stones around. After drying, they weren't quite as bright but still subtly colored. Anyway, my exploration of turquoise in my daily life! I like this project of hers. Join the fun if you get a chance!

I am also working on an exciting big project that will take a bit of time but I will let you know and see the outcome!


Mother's day highs and lows, God's mysterious ways

Yesterday. Was a lovely mother's day. I spent time with my mama and my boy. Later, my husband and my boy, but first thing in the morning, around 6:30 a.m. I received a disturbing phone call.

C. and I had spent some time together before I moved last October. I hadn't moved far, just changed neighborhoods a few miles away. But she was rather homebound without a car (that was one of several mysteries - I was never sure if she did or did not have a car). Something was a little off with C. - she was fine - her son was a year older than mine and it was through him that I initially saw that something was just "off" if you know what I mean. Something just didn't mesh with the mother and son's personalities. She was sweet, friendly, easy to talk to and I enjoyed being with her. Her son was a little terror. He would be fine for awhile, then do something just mean to my son. My boy would end up crying and after this happened two or three times, I determined that this other boy's behavior was purposeful and we stopped spending time with the two of them almost altogether. I was sad about this because I enjoyed C's company so much, but I had other priorities - mainly my son's well-being. So.

When I moved I gave her my number, and she gave me hers. I didn't expect to really see her, but I thought maybe after some time had passed her son would change and become nicer. A few days ago I called her out of the blue when I was visiting the old neighborhood. No answer. Weird outgoing message left by her husband. I left a message and called again, just to hear that outgoing message - to be sure I heard right. It was just "off" -again. I mentioned it to my husband. "I don't think her husband is a nice person," I said.

Then, at 6:30 a.m. yesterday I happen to be up and my phone happens to be nearby. She calls out of the blue. I see her name on the screen and think, "That's strange...it's so early." Of course you know all the phone calls you get after 10 at night or before 7 in the morning are probably bad news. Don't you just brace yourself when you hear the phone ring at odd times? At first she didn't know who she was calling. She was calling me because she had seen the phone number on her phone and didn't recognize the number (her husband hadn't relayed my message). She wanted to see who it was. Her voice was steely and sad until she realized who I was (I had to explain three different ways until she realized). Then she was happy to hear from me - she just needed to talk to someone and I was the only person that had answered. Her circumstances were very sad. 

On this mother's day, she caught her husband with another woman asleep in their bed alongside their son. This was not the first time he was caught and now I find out what I felt was just "off" - he was abusive (physically, she mentioned one episode, but mainly it sounded like very mentally/emotionally abusive) to her and their relationship was not a good one (that perhaps helped explain her son's behavior toward mine). The police had been there when he had been pounding on the door and their little boy was a witness to all of this. It sounded as though her husband was a mean drunk (as opposed to a thoughtful drunk?) - I had a brief experience of this with my first husband and relived an episode or two while I spoke to her. At the moment I was talking to her, she was in the bath trying to decide what to do as her son slept. I asked her to call WEAVE or another such center and she said she had all the numbers. "That's a great idea I'm so glad I talked to you." She was obviously not thinking clearly - I thought I just told her what was obvious. After talking with her for about 20 minutes she decided to call WEAVE and told me she would call me later to let me know how she was and what her plan was.

We talked throughout the day and at some point early on she decided she would call her father and go there on lightrail and stay there for awhile. In one conversation with her later on in the morning, she said her husband was at work, but already starting with the "honeymoon phase," (the lovey-dovey make up period after a period of abuse) asking her if he should get off work early to go out to dinner for mother's day. We sent a few text messages throughout the day as well, and at some point I offered to drive her and her son to her father's house since she was packing a bag to take, plus, I hoped that seeing a friend would do her some good. Domestic situations are ugly though, and I was a little nervous. I thought I'd meet her around the corner, just in case her husband happened to come home early.

In the middle of the day though, I said to my husband, "You know, when you are going through this in the middle of the night, things seem hopeless and you get desperate and you're not thinking clearly. But in the clear light of day, when the sky is blue and the birds are chirping like they are right now, you think, 'maybe it's not that bad...how can it be that bad when the day is this beautiful and families are out celebrating mother's day...'  I'm thinking I probably won't hear from her. I think she'll stay with him. As mad as she was with him last night, she's been doubting herself all day." She had said to me in some conversation, "Can I do this? Can I be a single mom?" Yes, I told her. You can be a better mom as a single mom than you can being married to him." She had a B.A. from a prestigious university - she was not a "stereotypical" battered woman (whatever that is), this was an educated girl. When it comes to matters of the heart though, I think most of us gals leave logic at the wayside, and feel our way through a situation. 

When I was with my first husband, miserable, at one point I said to myself, "Is this me? Is this who I am and how I want to live? I didn't envision this for myself. I hate this life." It was at that moment that I knew I would leave. I just needed the opportunity to do so. I asked for it. It was dramatic, but I received it and I left.

People always seem to ask, 'why didn't God help me?' but the truth is, he does - maybe he doesn't snap his fingers and change things, but he gives us opportunities. It's up to us to take them. I told her yesterday that this was an opportunity for her to leave this awful relationship, and that she had to think about her son and his environment. 

But I didn't hear back from her. I didn't get that call to come pick her up. I'd had a feeling she was changing her mind. I text'd her to see if she was o.k. and she wrote back that she was, and "thanks." And that is it. And I imagine she is still with him, and maybe they made up. All you can give is what people are willing to receive. I hope she seeks another opportunity and finds her way out.

For her son, at least.


Mother's day gifts

Last night, my very exhausted son wanted the scissors. My husband handed him two different pairs from the direction Tristan was pointing and got only tears because he was handing the wrong pairs to Tristan! Tristan wanted the ones with decorative edges so he could cut pretty designs on paper (obviously, we have a lot of scissors around - don't worry, they're all out of Tristan's reach). I went up to start his long-overdue bath and a few minutes later, Tristan came up the stairs and ran over to me with a cute little square with some scribbles on it. "Here mommy, happy mother!" Aww, my very first mother's day card from my son. That one will be treasured. 

This morning I woke up to come to this gadget of mine and on my desk was a lovely fuschia-colored orchid and a balloon with a note in my husband's handwriting, signed "Tristan bug  lion"-this from my husband, who is not big on getting gifts for special days. He believes every day should be like a birthday or Valentine's day or Christmas and doesn't need to be told when he should do something special for his loved ones (to his credit, he really does live up to this point of view, and most every day is special with him!) So needless to say, this orchid is lovely and very special.

I got another great mother's day gift in the form of a song. Certainly not for me, it's for everyone, but is very special. I found it on this great new blog I've found called Apples for Poppyanne. A post from her sent me to a lovely Etsy site, which in turn sent me to a myspace site where you can post music, as this gal, Elizabeth Ann Barlow, has here. Listening to both of her tracks at this link this has given me the best feeling of peace this morning. Especially the second track. I love this type of "mountain" music. She sang this song in the woods - her idea was to make it sound as if you just came across someone singing in the woods. I love this. 

Happy Mother's Day.


Gratitude List

I have had two reminders, not very subtle, to do my gratitude list. I think - since it is only 7:40 in the morning and already I have had these reminders, I better do that little list.

today I am grateful for -
-a wonderful new blog I just found called apples for poppyanne. She brings spirituality to the forefront of her writing, and was a nice reminder. I added her blog to my sidebar under "Blogs for the Soul"
-papasoule's friday blog entry. See the Soule Mama blog. Very nice reminder.
-the reminders of what is important
-a bountiful life. So often I get bombarded with things I need to do, "what a hassle" I think. What would my father-in-law (God bless his soul) say about that? change your perspective...and that bombardment becomes bounty.
-my son's unique sweetness.
-the feel of freshly cut fabric.
-raisins or currents in certain rice dishes - they really change it all and spice it up. Imagine a chocolate chip cookie without the chocolate chips. Blah.

Green mountains, Portland, listlessness

Tristan at farmer's market

Back from Portland, I am listless...literally - I need to write out a "to-do" list. But also pittering around listless and trying to get back into the groove of being home. On the drive home Tuesday, there was a rare two-hour period of time that I drove. Usually my hubby drives the whole trip, but he hadn't slept well the night before so he and Tristan were sleeping in the backseat. I couldn't take a picture since I had a wheel in hand, but picture verdant pastures surrounded by equally green and gray mountains, covered with a slight mist and occasional sprinkles...it was heaven to me. Oregon is such a lovely place. California ain't bad either.

Portland was great - we didn't do anything extraordinary...took a lot of walks - to the river, around the neighborhood (near PSU), in downtown. We went to the zoo one day. We got a parking ticket one day. Saturdays are the Portland Farmer's market and I go mainly for breakfast and a show. They have scrumptious breakfast burritos and always a great band playing. Tristan made some friends and they danced to the music while I feasted on scrambled eggs, melted cheese and salsa. It is always so festive on Saturday morning. The farmer's market is why I fell head over heels for Portland. That, and the accessible river, the walkable city, a central place downtown called Pioneer Courthouse square where lots of events happen (but it is called "Portland's living room" so no smoking is allowed!!), and the courtesy drivers show you when crossing the street. Pedestrian-ability is my litmus test for livability in a city. 

Anyhoo, I will hopefully get my head screwed on straight over the next few days and get organized. Thank you for this brief hiatus. I post much better when my head is on so my heart can think...


Gossip and Gratitude

In the movie Doubt, Philip Seymour Hoffman's character, a priest in a catholic church, gives a sermon on gossip, telling a story to illustrate his point. 

"A woman was gossiping with a friend about a man she hardly knew - I know none of you have ever done this - that night she had a dream. A great hand appeared over her and pointed down at her. She was immediately seized with an overwhelming sense of guilt. The next day she went to confession. She got the old parish priest, Father O'Rourke, and she told him the whole thing.

'Is gossiping a sin?' she asked the old man. 'Was that the hand of God Almighty pointing a finger at me? Should I be asking your absolution? Father, tell me, have I done something wrong?'

(Irish Brogue)
'Yes!' Father O'Rourke answered her. 'Yes, you ignorant, badly brought up female! You have borne false witness against your neighbor, you have played fast and loose with his reputation, and you should be heartily ashamed!'

So the woman said she was sorry and asked for forgiveness.

'Not so fast!' says O'Rourke. 'I want you to go home, take a pillow up on your roof, cut it open with a knife, and return here to me!'

So the woman went home, took a pillow off her bed, a knife from the drawer, went up the fire escape to the roof, and stabbed the pillow. Then she went back to the old parish priest as instructed.

'Did you gut the pillow with the knife?' he says.

'Yes Father.'

'And what was the result?'

'Feathers,' she said.

'Feathers?' he repeated.

'Feathers everywhere, Father!'

'Now I want you to go back and gather up every last feather that flew out on the wind!'

'Well,' she said, 'it can't be done. I don't know where they went. The wind took them all over.'

'And that,' said Father O'Rourke, 'is GOSSIP!'

In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, Amen."

I really heard this story. Gossip is one of those things I take part in but don't enjoy. It is alluring, an offer of camaraderie, a secret no one knows but you and one other. But not really. It doesn't feel good. It doesn't leave me feeling uplifted or inspired. But it's hard to stop. It's hard to cut off the person telling you the gossip for fear of hurting their feelings, and it's also hard to stop instigating the gossip because it has become somewhat of a habit. How does one break a bad habit? Cold turkey? 

This is where I begin to be conscious about my instigating gossip. When I write it down, I remember better. I better remember. 

Here is something: in January I started using a little ipod application on gratitude. Every day I would write down five or more things that I was grateful for. Gratitude seemed to inspire more gratitude, and I was surprised at all I was grateful for but didn't even realize it. This went on for about two weeks and then dissipated. During this time, I felt light and I didn't engage in gossip. Focusing on what I was grateful for left no room for petty things. 

So today, I am grateful for -
-my son's patience at 2 1/2. I have a lot to learn from this little guy.
-a lovely conversation I had with my husband last night as our son slept during our last hour of traveling home.
-being home again.

File this one under spirituality and healthy living. Really, what else could it be?


Hard at Play, Unexpected Goodbyes

Last night, after Tristan had woken up from his very late nap, the two of us were reinacting a scene from the book, Are You My Mother? by P.D. Eastman. He had been a little scared of the Big Snort in the book, but after I explained that the Big Snort was a nice guy, that it had actually helped the little bird by lifting the little bird up from the ground and taken it back to its nest where its mama could find it, he seemed to like Big Snort o.k. and wanted to reinact the scene I just mentioned. He spread a blanket on the floor and that was our nest. I was both the Big Snort and the mama bird and he was, of course, baby bird. It was all very sweet. While I was sitting there, I realized how happy he was just playing in this simple way with me, and all of that feeling, like, "I should be doing....(this, this or this)" just went away. He knows the difference from when I'm playing with him preoccupied with other thoughts, or if I'm fully present with our play. Sometimes he'll even say to me, "Mommy come here," even when I'm right next to him. He knows when my mind is elsewhere.

I forget this sometimes - all of the things that have to get done in daily life often take priority over play. Obviously, that is necessary sometimes, but not always. I notice how much smoother things go when he has undivided attention too. If we play hard for a given time, he seems more agreeable for the non-play things later on. And he's so happy when we play! This I have to remember: when we play, play hard, play with abandon. These moments are fleeting and there will be a time when he doesn't want to play and when he has other things he needs to get done. Two and a half years have flashed by already, before my eyes. I tell him all the time, "When you were a baby, you would play with this," or some thing or another about a time not really all that long ago. He'll repeat, "When I was little, I...." Such precious moments.

What I never expected from motherhood - especially when he's still so young, are all the things I have to say goodbye to - like baby talk, sitting him in his high chair, or his nickname (Tristan-bug. He's informed us that he is not a bug, and presented with the option of being called Tristan-bear, he consented to letting us call him that. But I'm having a little trouble remembering. He will always be my little bug.) Sometimes you don't even realize when the last time will be that your child will do something. I (regretfully now) sold my Ergo baby carrier last fall when it didn't seem like I'd used it for awhile and I didn't expect to use it again. When was the very last time I carried him in it? Was it on my front or back? I imagine it was sometime in August or September, but I don't know for sure. Since we've been in Portland there are several times I thought I could have used it, but I just put gave him a piggy-back ride instead. I let go of that carrier too soon. Probably because he's heavy and carrying him was giving me back pains, but I miss that most literal part of "attachment" parenting, and I wish I had let that go on a little longer.

Someday, there will be a last time he nurses. There will be a last time he sleeps beside me. I may not even realize it at the time. I just pray we will never stop playing and never stop laughing with me. Motherhood is full of goodbyes.

I had no idea.