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I Choose Compassion. I Choose Gratitude. I Choose to Remember. December 16, 2012

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Our hearts are broken.

As a mother who kisses my sweet boys goodbye every morning during the week, I take it for granted that I will kiss them again when we’re all back home after a day of work and school.  The tragedy last week forces me to recognize reality.  There is no promise of seeing them again at the end of the day.

I can only imagine the depths of pain felt by so many families who didn’t get to take their kiddos home on Friday.  I don’t think there is a parent out there who wasn’t struck down at the news, feeling like the breath had been knocked out of us, immediately weighed down by grief.  We can place ourselves there — the daily routines are in our collective consciousness.  We know the classrooms, the teachers, the office staff.  We imagine the terror, played out again and again in our mind’s eye, and we feel desperately helpless.  We ask questions – why? how will the parents go on? how do we keep our own children safe? how do we make them feel safe about going to school when we as parents are struggling?

A lot of people are looking to make sense of something where no sense exists.  We have had the rug pulled out from under us and we’re looking to find sure footing again.  But it won’t be found in looking for a motive.  It won’t be found in vitriolic arguments over gun control, anger at the media for how the ‘story’ is portrayed, or what individuals choose to express on social media outlets.  No.  There are choices to be made, and I choose a different path.

I choose to understand that there was something so terribly broken in this individual that I will never truly understand the motive, and knowing the motive will not make sense of this tragedy or make it hurt any less.  A sane and rational mind cannot make sense out of the senseless.

I choose to walk through the pain.  I will not turn from it or deflect it by throwing blame.  We are stronger when we allow ourselves to feel, and only then will we truly heal.

I choose compassion — for the victims, the families, the survivors, the family of the shooter, the shooter himself, and everyone who is hurting in the wake of this terrible day.  We all have a story, and we can never really know someone else’s story unless we’ve allowed them to tell it.  That person that just cut you off in traffic and is zipping ahead?  Maybe they are on their way to the hospital for a loved one’s final moments.  The lady at the grocery store who was so gruff?  Maybe she is beaten at home and feels nothing but pain.  We don’t ever know someone’s story, or the effect we have on them.  The smile we give may be the only acknowledgement or kindness someone gets.

I choose gratitude — for so many things, but most of all my family.  I felt overwhelmingly grateful to hug my boys after work on Friday and settle into the evening routine, just like it was any other day.  I felt like I had been holding my breath all day and having them in my arms allowed me to breathe again.  I am unbelievable lucky to be their mom.  I am also incredibly grateful for the teachers in my boys’ lives.  The remarkable women in their classrooms are nothing short of true gifts, who have shown time and again that they care for my boys as though they were their own.  I could not have chosen anyone I’d rather have with them, when I can’t be there.

And finally, I choose to remember.  As the weeks pass and the pain is no longer fresh, I choose to remember the lessons of the day.  We are not promised a future, so we best not take for granted the present.

No Stilettos After A Race… And Other Things Running Has Taught Me November 12, 2012

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  1. Wearing stilettos, no matter how fabulous, and then walking up and down the stairs at the Paramount Theater is a decidely bad idea when you started out the day running a 5K.
  2. Knees have long memories and like to hold a grudge (see #1).
  3. It is possible to jam your finger against a treadmill bar and then pull the pieces of your finger back into alignment, all while running a sprint interval *without* crashing onto the deck.  However, lots of bad words are likely to escape during the process.
  4. I am tougher than I thought.
  5. Mentors are invaluable, but I am the only one who can drag my butt off the couch.
  6. Carbo-loading is totally unnecessary for a 5K, but is lots of fun.
  7. Running tights are awesome.

What Do *You* Believe? October 19, 2012

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The home I grew up in was a fiscally- and socially-conservative one, in which loud opinions were voiced without reservation… for the most part. I was the youngest, the smallest, the runt of the litter. Perhaps that’s why I mainly kept my thoughts to myself. My opinions were in stark contrast to that of the conglomerate. I was not fond of putting myself out there and risk the judgment I was sure would follow, because although speaking up was encouraged, so was debate.

That was then.  With the comfortable distance that years gone by and miles traveled afford me, and bolstered by the conviction of my beliefs, I’m quiet no longer.

I’m a liberal. I’m your worst nightmare. I believe things most of you consider outrageous, outlandish, foolish, wrong… add your adjective here. If you’re going to keep reading, you may want to go get some Pepto first. Here’s a sample:

  • I believe kindness and morals are not owned or bestowed by the religious right, or any singular religious affiliation. You do not have to subscribe to a particular set of religious beliefs to show kindness to your fellow human, nor does morality magically appear when you walk through the door of your chosen place of worship. Religion has been famously used to justify deplorable acts and the discrimination of groups of people throughout time immemorial (quite the example of teaching ‘right’ from ‘wrong’), which brings me to my next point.
  • I believe in equal rights for everyone, including that most polarizing subject of gay marriage. I do not believe being gay is a ‘choice’ or ‘lifestyle.’ I believe we are born who we are, and no one’s personal (religious or otherwise) beliefs should be allowed to apply shackles to those who don’t believe what you do. I am baffled as to why people are so threatened by this notion, and I have yet to hear a cogent argument as to why loving couples should not be allowed to marry. But that’s probably because of my first point, above.
  • I believe that problems, and their solutions, are often much more complex than many would like to believe. My dad, who I love and respect greatly but often disagree with, is a perfect example of this point. He has said he could ‘fix healthcare’ in a heartbeat by some simple changes: If you’re obese or a smoker, healthcare should be limited or unavailable to you until you correct those issues. Denying healthcare to those large groups would save a bundle, yes? But going back to the issue of right and wrong, how would you justify denying coverage to a smoker when the government of the United States not only allows but makes a huge profit from the tobacco industry — even though it is fully aware that tobacco causes chronic illness and death? On the subject of obesity, the easy choice is to think that it’s a personal failing of simply eating too much and moving too little. But we know it’s much more than that. The psychological underpinnings of obesity are profound, and in a country where it is estimated that one in four girls is sexually abused before the age of adulthood, shouldn’t *more* consideration and care be given to those individuals? Ah, but that would mean acknowledging mental health issues as more than ‘mind over matter’ and worthy of not only recognition, but of adequate treatment.
  • I believe the new healthcare law got a lot of things right. For the first time ever, mental health care is required to be on par with other healthcare coverage. Insurance companies used to be able to limit the number of covered mental health care visits on a per-year basis. They are no longer allowed to do that, which is a step in the right direction in a country in which we have sorely failed at providing adequate mental health care. People are also no longer allowed to be discriminated against for pre-existing conditions — what a concept! I heard an argument recently in which someone who supports Mitt Romney said that his plan allows for preexisting conditions so long as you’ve had uninterrupted coverage — and they used the example of COBRA coverage as a means to accomplish this. How nice. How obviously stated by someone who has never been in the position of having been laid off and faced with how insanely cost-prohibitive COBRA coverage is for a family already struggling with a loss of income. But at least those folks will have the big tax break planned for all of their capital gains — because we know how all of us in the middle class have such a heavy burden with capital gains. *sigh*
  • I believe that few things are ‘all or none’ and there are so many more gray areas than most of the right’s moral outrage allows for. Pro Choice DOES NOT mean Pro Abortion. While abortion would never have been something I would have chosen for myself, that does not mean that I think the option should be removed by the government. Being pro-choice does not mean I’m a fan of abortion, although many Pro-Lifers would like you to believe that. Again, back to the issue of things being more complex than most people would like to think… there is ugliness in the world you often don’t see, don’t want to see, or are oblivious to. Saying you’re pro-life sounds nice, but it doesn’t recognize the broader social issues. Just one example among many: sexual abuse and childhood neglect often lead to drug abuse and sexual promiscuity, which in turn lead to unwanted pregnancy. Are you pro-lifers willing to address those issues? Are you willing to roll up your sleeves and combat the abuse, and then support the abused? Are you willing to support the children of unintended pregnancies, and the plethora of medical conditions plaguing those born to drug- and/or alcohol-addicted mothers? See, it’s one of those problems with thinking things are so simple again. Many believe that cute little teeny-boppers are just out having fun, get pregnant, and then use abortion as a form of birth control. The reality is much muddier. Don’t make the mistake of thinking you understand a situation you have no experience with or knowledge of. Don’t make the mistake of thinking every woman that has ever had an abortion made the decision lightly. Don’t make the mistake of closing your eyes to the broader problems and believing that if you don’t see it, it’s not really there.
  • And on this notion of ‘all or none’ — well, I believe that applies to social services too. I see countless posts on Facebook where people decry social programs as simply scams for the lazy. Doubtless, there is abuse in any system. However, your postcards that shout ‘if you can afford beer & tattoos, you don’t need food stamps’ just reflect a level of ignorance about the majority of people who receive support. Where did you get the idea that everyone on welfare of some type is a lazy fool? I’m as hard a worker as you’ll see, but if I had to collect unemployment or use food stamps to feed my family while I worked to get back on my feet, you can bet I would do it. (But the difference between us is likely that I think most people try to get back on their feet and most conservatives think they don’t and they’re just happy to ‘use’ the system). I knew a woman whose husband died very young, and they had not yet purchased life insurance. She was a stay-at-home mom who was thrust into a situation in which while mourning her husband, she was facing the loss of her home and trying to figure out how to feed her children. Do you really think there shouldn’t be social programs to help her? What about someone who suffers an accident and is now disabled in some way and unable to work? They should just suck it up and retrain, right? Immediately, with the nest egg they *should* have, maybe with all that money they’re saving on capital gains. Or maybe their families should help, and not the government/taxpayers? You do know that not everyone has family, right? Or family in a position to help? So your solution is what, exactly? My experience has been that most conservatives tend to see things as they think they ‘should’ be, and not as they really are… which leads their ‘solutions’ to be somewhat unrealistically utopian, and quite a bit too late in the grand scheme of things.

I’m basically 180 degrees from most of my family on these issues — but while our beliefs may differ, what we learned about the fundamentals of self-expression and independent thinking don’t. We learned to ask questions, speak up (loudly if necessary), and carry the courage of our convictions. It may have taken me awhile to find my voice, and many may not like it, but I was not raised in a home where children were expected to speak only when spoken to. So when my boys make a startling observation, ask probing questions, or express dismay over someone’s behavior rather than blindly following, I know I’ve been successfully passing on important lessons I learned when I was young. Thanks Mom & Dad.

I Am Not A Runner… Yet. September 30, 2012

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August 15, 2012 I started an odyssey of sorts, jokingly referring to it as “From Jabba to Leia.”  I had already started changing how and what I ate, but on that day I started a running program.  The very first workout was only 25 minutes long (including 10 minutes of warm-up and cool-down) and the 15 minute ‘active’ portion was a run/walk combination that alternated a 60 second jog with a 90 second brisk walk.  That was exactly 46 days and 18 pounds ago.  Today my workout was 35 minutes, with a solid 25 minute jog.  I would like to tell you that I loved it, but that would be a lie.  Because I’m not a runner.  Yet.

Runners love what they do.  There’s a gleam in their eyes when they talk about a great run, or what a great stress-reliever it is for them.  They grin from ear to ear at the mere mention of going running.  It almost makes me want to barf.  Almost.  Except I want to be like them.  I want to be one of them.

I’m starting from scratch and I’m still a noob, so I can’t tell you I’ve found that glorious runner’s high and am itching for the next run.  Each of my workouts is progressively harder.  Most of them involve varying amounts of self-talk to get me through the tough parts, like repeating mantras matched to each foot-fall.  You’re not going to quit if there’s a tape in your head constantly repeating I-can-do-it-I-am-power-ful. 

There was a lot of self-talk going on during the last five minutes of my run today, which was five minutes longer than my last run.  I imagine I looked an awful lot like the joggers my dad used to remark about when I was growing up.  He used to ponder why anyone would want to jog, because they always looked like they were in pain or would collapse at any moment.  Maybe.  But what I now know is that they were probably pushing themselves through a tough workout — maybe trying to go longer, faster, up a hill…  or maybe they were just getting started like I was 46 days ago.

What I also now know is that they were no doubt talking to themselves — cultivating a powerful, primal voice that delivers a mighty smack-down to snatches of doubt and memories of past failures.  A voice that says don’t stop because you want to, stop because you have to.

I’ve never been able to hear that voice before — and I’ve always stopped before I had to — always quit, always gave up, always thought about how hard it was or would be.  Maybe I just wasn’t ready to hear her.  Whatever the reason she is louder now, I’m listening, and I actually believe her.  She’s the reason I haven’t stopped, haven’t given in to fatigue or a bad mood, haven’t burned out by doing too much too soon or setting up unrealistic expectations.  She’s the reason I’ve made the huge advances I’ve made over the last 46 days.  She’s the reason I am strong, I am powerful, and I will be a runner.  And when she reminds me that she is me, I stand up a little bit taller.

whoever’s not ready, holler “I” August 23, 2009

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hide and seek
seek and hide

prying eyes
climb inside

raucous laughter?
tears I’ve cried?
secret shame?
lies I’ve lied?
compassion deep?
judgment wide?
sometimes
overwhelming pride?

visions of boys
when they’re full grown?
beating hearts
just mine on loan?
secret dreams
I have yet known?
hidden fears
that chill the bone?

who am I when all alone?
who are you when no one’s home?

what makes us strong?
what makes us weak?

seek and hide
hide and seek

My Dream August 12, 2009

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I was recently posed the question: What is your dream? Wow – I had to really think about that.

When I was a kid, I dreamt of all kinds of things. A new idea of what to do, or be, or create popped into my head every other minute and usually had something to do with horses, unicorns, castles, or anything sparkly – the Bedazzler had nothing on me. But the things we dream of as children are often so fanciful that we abandon them in our rush to grow up, lest we be viewed as a child a moment longer than we find comfortable. Too often, most of us (myself included) slog about, bogged down in our daily trials and find it hard to even remember what dreams captivated us so very long ago. But the lucky among us hold tight to those dreams, even if only to smile at the memory of them. When we get older, our dreams are usually very different and much more serious because we are busy with the oh-so-serious business of being an adult.

For a long time in my grown-up life, besides the obvious of having a home, a good job, and a happy marriage, I had the grown-up dream of having a daughter. This dream was fully developed, complete with bouncing brown curls, ruffle tights, and a name — Nora. When life brought me two sons I was confronted with having to give up that dream. I could never have known that the loss of one dream was necessary to bring me another — these two very different but equally delicious boys — who bring me more pure joy than I could have ever imagined.

When I wrote about boxing up the dream of having a little girl, the words found me. They poured out as if I had turned on some imaginary tap in my mind, emotions overflowing as my fingers danced over the keyboard and struggled to keep up. I haven’t written anything since then, telling myself that it’s because life is just too hectic, and when things slow down I’ll write about the boys. But perhaps closer to the truth is that when I think about writing about these two little gifts that life gave me, I’m afraid I won’t find the words, and they won’t find me. After all, Nora Who Wasn’t won’t read those words, but if I write about my boys, I will have a real live audience whose review could crush me in a second.

So beyond the dreams for stuff and things, for futures and possibilities, I dream of words. Words that are right. Words that tell the story in my heart. Words that will erase the memories of bad days/bad moods/times I had to raise my voice/ timeouts/disappointing dinners… Words so brilliant and weighty that someday when my little boys are men, they will read them and know what a gift it is to be their mother.

These words I seek will somehow find a way to jump off the page, reach inside them, and fill their bodies with the things I have felt. One paragraph will brim their eyes with tears and make their hearts beat wildly like mine did the first time I held them, saw them smile, and heard a first word. The next will make them laugh out loud like I did when they insisted on dancing naked or said something profoundly hysterical, sometimes at the same time. The words will create in them the same feelings of otherworldly pride and delight that make it a moral imperative for me to tell both friends and random strangers about the incredibly funny/smart/wild/sweet thing they did (um, yes, even if I’ve told them the story before). They will warm them with the gratitude I feel when my boys remind me of my childhood dreams as we explore their imaginations. And finally, the words will pump their adrenaline into that crazy, feral, mother-bear place that makes this usually fairly docile lady not hesitate to say ‘step off b*tch’ to anyone even thinking of threatening my cubs.

So, my dream? It is to one day find these magical, elusive words that have the power to transform my experiences as a mother into a captivating love note to my boys. Really, it will be a thank-you note, for the privilege of having been not just a Mommy, but their Mommy. And when I do finally write it, I’m going to put it in a Bedazzled frame and hang in on their fridge, just like all of the heartfelt treasures that have been hung on mine.

Ghosts of Nora Who Wasn’t September 13, 2008

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I used to conjure up images of her.

Bouncing mahogany curls. Eyes like her papa – a deep rich brown that twinkled just before she faded from view, never quite letting me glimpse the whole of her.

I imagined rosy, dimpled cheeks, a tiny tinkling laugh, and chubby little legs that we would somehow sausage into tights – the impossibly sweet ones with the ruffled bottom that no baby needs but every mommy wants.

Like the wisp of reverie she flitted in and out of my days, prompting an accumulation of goods year after year. A dress, outfit, cute little shoes. Enough fabric and Daisy Kingdom patterns to clothe an entire kindergarten class. These treasures I lovingly stored away for Someday. They became the warp & weft of the intricate dream I wove. They allowed the idea of My Daughter to have some tangibility, and let Someday feel not so very far away.

Every now and again I would pull the box out of the closet, unfolding and refolding the items as I got lost in the idea of Her. Occasionally I added to the box, and occasionally I thought I probably shouldn’t spend money on a wish. But I told myself that if I didn’t have a girl, I’d have lots of presents for friends and family. How very practical.

The first boy came – my love Cameron, the scientist. Three and a half thrilling years later, the doctor said we were likely having a girl. Seventy percent chance, said he. Telling ourselves to be cautious, as we wouldn’t have confirmation for five more weeks, we nevertheless dared to believe the doctor was right. The box came out again, clothing unfolded and refolded, and as the idea of Her grew larger, so did the box. Now the wish had a name – Nora.

The five weeks passed with aching slowness as pink purchases were made – sometimes warily, sometimes giddily. A small pink sweater began to grow on my knitting needles, a tiny wish in each stitch. Every day of those five weeks I woke up wondering why I hadn’t dreamt of her that night. All I got were fleeting images during the day – the same as I had for years; and although I was nearly convinced she was finally real, there was always a seed of doubt. Always a little tug that said no, this baby is a boy. The more tugs I got, the faster I knitted, as though if I knitted the sweater fast enough it would guarantee that I would have a little girl to wear it. A wooly If you build it, she will come.

There was no doubt on the next sonogram that this baby was a boy. Even we could tell, but that’s a story for another time… As soon as the sonographer said it, the tug said I told you so. It didn’t come as a shock because part of me had known all along. Growing in my belly was boy number two – sweet little Rowan. And he was a bit too little, which gave us more to worry about than the dream of the Someday girl slipping away.

As we worried and waited and worried and waited, Rowan was all that mattered, and there was no room in the day to ruminate about anything else. I already loved this boy, and nothing was more important than his safe arrival.

During those last few pregnant months, through bed rest, a dramatic delivery, and the first sleepless weeks of Rowan’s life, that wisp of a dream disappeared, quietly tucked away in some forgotten corner in my mind. Six months have passed and allowed us to discover a charming, albeit demanding, loveable boy whose smile lights up the room, who delights his big brother no end and who thoroughly enjoys the smorgasbord of his fingers.

Only just recently did she whisper to me again. While reorganizing closets and shuffling the piles of boy clothes – those already outgrown and those yet to be grown into – I spied the box. I sat on the floor and brought everything out, unfolding and refolding the clothes as tears blurred my vision and I realized that there would never be a Nora to wear them. Before when I touched them they always held the hope of a dream, but now they were reminders of my unrequited yearning. I considered my plan that if I never had a girl, I at least had great gifts to give. At the time that had sounded perfectly reasonable. Never did I imagine that giving them away would mean giving Her away.

Our days now are filled with tractors, trucks, cranes and trains, insects of all kinds and a sandbox whose sand is slowly sneaking inside by hitching a ride in pockets and cuffs. It’s often a raucous house, full of laughter and no end of drama. Our boys mean the world to us and we can’t imagine our lives without them. But there will be no more babies for us. And although I like to say our family is complete, I know that from time to time I’ll glimpse the bounce of a curl and feel a zing in my heart where forever will live the incomplete memories of Nora Who Wasn’t.

On the Cusp of Nirvana June 4, 2008

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Go Daddy Go!

 

Last night Allan started hauling 140 bags of sand (50lb each!) from the driveway into the backyard.  There the 70 cubic feet of sand would fill the newly minted octagon-shaped sandbox.  The stuff dreams are made of…

Taking a little break from his dinner, Cameron stood at the window and broke into a spontaneous cheer, “Go Daddy Go!  Go Daddy Go!  You can do it!  You can do all the work that you can do!  Go Daddy Go!  Go Daddy Go!”

One Day In May June 1, 2008

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Avast, me hearties

We went to Kirkland Parks’ free Pirate Party today. There were lots of pirates, beads (pirate booty) to wear, and activity booths where Cameron particularly enjoyed looking at real pirate artifacts. We had our picnic lunch on the lawn while we enjoyed the tunes of Captain Bogg & Salty, a Portland pirate band. After lunch, while Rowan napped on Mommy in “his pouch” (Baby Bjorn), Cam & Daddy went to get a balloon pirate sword. After having had to wait in a long line for food, Cammie was exceedingly patient waiting in another for his sword. Then he tore off down the lawn & ran around like a wild man brandishing his inflatable weapon. When the concert was over, he burned off a little more energy at the playground before it started to sprinkle again.

Pirate Boys




On the way to the car, the balloon sword started to lose air and shrank down a bit. With his imagination, Cam can turn any object into something else in an instant. As we walked up the street, he put the balloon up to his mouth & said, “I’m playing the tuba.” He did that for about a block and by then the balloon had shrunk down considerably. He took a look at it and exclaimed, “now it looks like a penis!” Then, holding it the way he had the ‘tuba’ he said, “I’m playing the penis horn!” Mommy & Daddy totally lost it in fits of laughter, so of course this refrain was repeated all the way to the car… to the enjoyment of the neighborhood.

Cameron and His Sword turned Instrument


Next up was a surprise visit to the toy store. We’ve been putting in a sandbox and yesterday I told Cameron I had ordered the sand to be delivered Monday. He was very excited and asked, “Mommy, do you think tomorrow you could order toys for the sandbox?” Well, of course we need toys for the sandbox, but we thought it would be more fun to trek down to the store to let him pick some out. As soon as we were all loaded in the car, we told him our plan. He nearly came out of his seatbelt and could barely contain his excitement until he remembered the penis horn again and got back to playing a tune. So, which reality show should he do, the rockstar one or the comedian one?

Toys, toys, toys, yeah

While Daddy finished giving Rowan a bottle, Cam & Mommy headed in to GiganticToyStore to use the potty. As we neared the restroom area, there was a vile stench that would like to knock a person over. “Sheesh it stinks in here,” Mommy says, just before we open the door to the ladies’ room. There are only two stalls, one occupied, one open. As we go into the open one, Cam says, “yeah, SOMEBODY must be pooping! Pee-yoo!” Subtle.

Before we go back out, he gives me one of his random affirmations which I adore, “Mommy, I love you! You are so cute!” awww J

We picked out some sandcastle-making equipment, met up with Rowan & Daddy, and headed for the tractors. Not a thing distracted us on the way. Ahem; I apologize. Wishful thinking… After about 3 hours we finally reach the tractors, and then the great debate is on. (Oh, I would really enjoy this one, with the remote control. That’s not for outside; how about this cool green one? But I would really enjoy it. But it’s not for outside; come look at this front-loader. Why isn’t it for outside? Because it’s not rugged enough. But I would be really careful and I would really enjoy it. And so on…) After about another 3 hours, we settle on a front-loader, a dump truck, and a crane, all Tonka. Hooray, we’re done. Oh, except first we have to trek back through the store to the baby section & get the goods for little brother. A few rattle-y toys later & we’re done. Little brother is too little for an opinion. Tender mercies.

On the way home we stop off for a milkshake at the local DQ. Somehow in all of his four years, Cammie has never had a milkshake. How could that possibly have happened? After explaining what it was, what flavors you can get, and why it’s called a ‘shake’ he settled on strawberry for his first shake experience. We hit the drivethru & passed the shakes out to their respective owners. Awww moment #2: Between sips of strawberrycreamygoodness, we hear, “wow. What a lucky boy am I to get this milkshake. And those toys, and that pirate party. AND, I got water for breakfast!” Lest you think we’re derelict and don’t actually feed the boy breakfast, he was talking about the fact that since we had run out of milk, he got to drink water with his meal. Since it’s generally all milk, all the time, this was somehow a treat in the mind of our sweet preschooler. So our only falling down was running out of milk, which is unfortunately very easy to do in this house.

Good Night

As I was finishing the neckband on Cameron’s sweater (Oh Mommy, it’s so woolly!) I listened to Cam & Daddy on the monitor, going through the bedtime routine. They were done with books and were having a nice snuggle before saying goodnight when Daddy asked Cameron what the best part of the day was. Not the party – not the pirates, the picnic, the sword, the playground; not even the cool new toys. His best was the milkshake. Simple pleasures satisfy my boy. We’ve got to remember that more. When asked about the worst part of the day, he replied, “standing in that boring loooong line!” Yes.

What a great day we had.

LYS Tour 2008 Day Two ~ Another Day Older and Deeper in Debt May 28, 2008

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5.18.2008 Another Beautiful Day/Shop Hop Day 2

(Taking sHopping to new heights)

After a night of fevered dreams of the Fall Fiber Arts Retreat (what projects to bring on the plane? what WIPs to finish & wear? can we get them done in time? what classes to take? do you curtsy before The Harlot or does she have a ring to kiss?) our brave sHoppers brushed the (estonian lace) cobwebs from their heads and awoke to sHop another day.

So happy were they when they met again behind Cultured Purls that they were literally shocked out of their idyll by Lynn’s cell phone. Knowing the call was from home, the worst ran quickly through her mind – one of the boys was hurt, had thrown up, or clogged the toilet again with another Pez dispenser. Certain that before it had even started the day was coming to a screeching halt, she answered the phone with, “hello? What’s wrong?” Take heart, dear reader, as she was actually greeted with a chuckle rather than disaster. Her DH had received a call from Full Circle Yarn with news that she had won a prize
from a drawing on the first day of the Hop! After assuring her that all was quiet on the home front, he said a bag containing $50 worth of yarn & needles was awaiting pickup. How do you like them apples?!

So it was that our sHoppers started the day. And after a quick stop for fuel at Starbucks, the two began their adventure.

First stop was Evergreen Hospital to see Clarise. We found her on the east side of the Critical Care unit, already frazzled by a busy assignment. With a couple fast hugs & well wishes, we dropped off a bag of knitterly treats and then were back on the road. Later in her day when she got a second to take a break, Clarise was delighted to find out what was inside!

Next we headed into Seattle to catch the ferry to Bainbridge. The day was just perfect for a sailing, and we enjoyed the sun from the upper deck. After arriving on the island, we went into town to find Churchmouse Yarn & Tea. We were about to discover that this was the highlight of the weekend!

This perfectly charming shop was a veritable treasure trove. Just inside the doors was a display overflowing with Manos del Uruguay. Yes! They had the silk blend, and Yes! they had my colorway! I quickly plucked a few skeins off the shelf and hugged them to me, “Hola, el amante. Encontramos otra vez.” (I speak Spanish now to my Uruguayan beau. You monolingual needle-wielders out there will have to look it up). I also grabbed a few skeins of a luscious contrast. Now I’m going to have to meditate with a skein in each hand until they tell me what they want to become.

Manos’ next door neighbor was a large selection of Koigu, and what to my wondering eyes did appear but sock yarn of an almost identical colorway to my Manos. You have got to be kidding… They had an adorable Koigu baby sweater, available as a shop kit, and a huge selection of Socks that Rock. All this and we had barely stepped inside the door!

Manos & Koigu ~ Hola, el amante. Salude su amigo pequeño.

We perused the terrific selection of yarns, buttons, patterns, teas & wares, and I found a pair of leather purse handles. Then it happened. Jacquie found the hemp she had been searching for all weekend. For a minute there I thought she was going to start channeling a gospel choir. She started to glow in a halo of light, the store dissolved away in a swirling fog, and the shop ladies began humming the hallelujah chorus. Can I get an Amen?! Srsly, delight far understates her disposition when they checked the back stock and told her they had what she needed. Holy sheep! How could it get any better?

We were about to find out. For making the trek to their lovely shop, the Churchmouse ladies gave us a measuring tape and a copy of their one-skein fingerless glove pattern. Then they pointed us to the ice cream shop…

Better? Oh, yes. To sweeten our high-fiber diet, we indulged in the fantastic treats at Mora. Oh. My. Goodness. Fresh ice cream in such fabulous flavor concoctions it makes you want to do the happy dance. Ahh, Camelot. Friends, yarn, and insanely delicious ice cream on a sunny day in Puget Sound. Jealous?

We hopped back on the ferry and used the return trip for some knitting time, and then made the trek back to Ballard to pick up the prize bag. Inside was a selection of yarns (all without labels, hmmm) and an enormous set of hand-crafted walnut needles – beautiful, but certain to become an instant weapon in the hands of my 4-yr-old – must hide them.

Prize Bag from Full Circle Yarn

We headed up to Queen Anne to our old friend Hilltop Yarn. They’ve had a rough go of it lately after a fire wreaked havoc, and it looked like their stock hadn’t been fully replenished. Or, maybe we were just late getting there, as it was the fourth official day of the Hop. We left empty-handed. C’est la vie.

Next stop was out in West Seattle, at Seattle Yarn. They left a good impression with us the first year as all stock was on sale. Unfortunately that wasn’t the case this year. I did find some Malabrigo baby merino lace to try, though.

Malabrigo baby merino lace

Pretty weary and very hungry (a whole day on only a little coffee & ice cream!), we decided to make a quick jaunt to Renton to see The Knittery and then get some dinner. Sadly, this shop has the misfortune to share a wall with a tobacco shop. Sheesh. It would not have mattered what yarn they carried, because the minute you walked in the door, all you smelled was smoke. What a shame. While Churchmouse was the highlight, this shop, ahem, was the lowlight of the Hop. Hope the lease is up soon, because y’all need to get the heck out of Dodge.

Before heading home to hearth & family, we stopped for dinner at Coho Café. Over a leisurely glass of wine and delicious meal, we relived the fun times of the Hop, dreamed of our trip in November, and talked (inevitably as moms do) about our kids. What a truly terrific weekend! Shucks, Jacquie is just so much fun that as my Cammie would say… I want to just hug her to bones! Can’t wait for Calgary J

Okay, cue the violins & somebody get me a Kleenex. I’m getting a little misty…

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