7 days: 1 - all I need

7 days: 1 - all I need

The Mister was working a short gig at the fanciest hotel in town so the girls and I tagged along to explore how the other half lives.  That world? Seductive.  The girls had a blast running all over the grounds and touching everything in the row of upscale gift shops.  I even got a few minutes to relax with a mocha and watch the girls play in the big dramatic windows.  Nice place to visit...

See my alternate shot here.

The seasonal 7 days photography project is back and I'm pleased as punch!

take me to the river

perfect spot

After the fair (which was super fun, by the way) we headed over to Placerville to visit Mark's brother Steve for a couple days.  I love being there... he has a huge garden full of odd veggies, a stream by which blackberries grow, tree frogs to delight the children and has fixed up his spare room, just for our girls (or, at least that's what they think).  It's a magical place.  And then there's the river.

daughter | father

Such a beautiful place full of caves and tiny little fish that like to bite your toes and rocks to skip and cool, clean water and shady rocks to sleep under.

wet dog

We all love it there, especially the dog.

Here's a couple videos of the fun:

We didn't want to leave, that's for sure.  And now that we're home and I'm dealing with post-vacation fallout at work, I'd like to go back.

Blerg.

At least we have some awesome memories!  Thanks "Uncle Steve!"

Words

We're back from our vacation and I am at work today, trying to catch up after my week away.  Everything is... difficult here, so many tiny issues to solve and problems that cropped up due to my absence.  Vacation was so much more simple.  Saturday we spent all day at the river and I didn't want to ever leave that bit of cool rock, tiny rushing waterfalls, and perfect smooth skipping stones.  I'll have photos soon.

For now, I give you "words", another film from Will Hoffman (this time with Daniel Mercadante) to accompany Radiolab's Words episode.  I previously posted their short film called "Moments" which, if you happened to miss, you can find here.

 

date night in Grass Valley

Mark at Diegos with a spot of sunlight on his face

I love date night.

But date night in Grass Valley? Awesome.

There's something about going out on a date while on vacation that unlocks that concern about money and familiar routine.  Up here, we can do anything we want, rather than fall into comfortable routines.  That said, we do have a tendency to always go to the same restaurant while up here.  But it's so very awesome that's OK.

Yesterday, we said goodbye to the girls and ran off for something different: couples massage.  I found a coupon via yelp for a local spa that made the price totally reasonable.  I made sure to mention when booking that my Mister is a former massage therapist and when he says he wants a deep tissue massage, he actually means deep tissue.  "Do you have someone who is strong enough to go really deep?" I asked.  They assured me they did.  And did they ever.  Mark got Christine who, the one time I glanced over, grinned from ear to ear as she dug into my Mister, commenting happily that she's never seen a scapula move quite like his.  My therapist looked over and gasped, "Angel wings!"  Mark knows how to work with a therapist to really allow work to get done and Christine seemed thrilled to be doing hard work, thanking him for allowing her to go as deep as needed.  After, all the back pain he'd been experiencing was gone.  He practically danced to the car.

After that we hit up Diegos, our favorite Chilean restaurant in the area.  Amazing food, delish sangria and dessert that makes you moan with pleasure.  We were both in a deeply zen place after our massages and ate dinner while smiling stupidly at each other, gushing over the food and telling each other how much we loved the other.  Seriously, every marriage could be improved with massage and sangria.

Oddly, I woke just before 2am with an odd restlessness and fear.  I ended up waking Mark, spitting out that I needed him to go check on the kids.  Why couldn't I do so? I was afraid, though of what I don't know.  I burst into tears and he pulled on some clothes so he could go check on them in the bunkhouse.  He came back with reports of peacefully slumbering children and I apologized for making him go out.  "It's OK. Massage can do that." 

"Do what?" I asked.

"Open things up."

After that I slept beautifully. 

More pictures from our trip here.  Today, we go to the fair!

Summer Road Trip

PICTURE BOOKS (& me)

We're up in Grass Valley with Mark's family, typing this on a keyboard so old you have to violently punch each button and even then will have to back up to slip in all the missing letters.  So this will have to be brief as I'd rather not start throwing things across the room.  In fact, I just told my mother-in-law that Mark & I will be buying her a new one ASAP.

Maya & her people

Anyway, the drive was fine with very little traffic and mostly happy kids.  We got here in time to take a quick dip in the pool & enjoy dinner with the family, then tuck ourselves into bed early and sleep for ten hours... in a row.  It was glorious.  Coffee shop / book store this morning for breakfast and book worshiping, now the girls are back in the pool with the Mister while I bang away at the computer.

post-pool Anya  post-pool Lily

Tomorrow afternoon Mark and I get to run off for a couples massage & dinner while the girls get treated like the wee princesses they are.  Awesome.

In the Northern California Sun
Anya in the Northern California Sun

 

Feeding the horses
Lily feeding the horses

 

find the quiet to bloom

Sunflowers

Tomorrow we head up to Northern California to visit the Mister's family, leaving chickens, garden and home in the hands of the housemates and shutting down this thing called work. 

I could not be more thrilled.

Things have been intense at the theatre with three shows running at the same time, often producing a swarm of people from multiple houses all expecting to get their intermission treats at roughly the same damn time.  I can't serve 1500 people at once.  I can try, but I will fail.  Although we've been doing a stellar job and I am mostly feeling warm fuzzies for my staff, who are all doing a hell of a job. 

But enough about work.

Sunflowers - Open

Instead, I'm going to focus on the small moments of this road trip.  I'm doing to see what I pass through an open window.  I'm going to watch the children giggle from the back seat.  I'm going to settle in to life at my in-laws.  I'm going to sleep late.  I'm going to have a couples massage with my Mister and then we're going to take each other out to dinner.  We will listen to the bullfrogs and the crickets from our little guest bungalow and know our children are being cared for by their Grandmother inside the house.  We're going to feed the horses carrots and visit with Mark's 94-year-old grandfather.  We'll make the drive over to Mark's brother's house and pick berries from the bushes that grow wild by the creek and eat veggies picked straight from his garden. We will do nothing for long hours each day.

Sunflowers - wildlife

I cannot wait.

So wish us luck as we start off at 4am, just four hours from right now.  I'm off to pack and cook some food and make myself ready.  Hopefully this time, our road trip will not involve getting stitches in anyone's face (or elsewhere, really)!

a soul-wide event

Support

Lily & I offering Anya support when she once got very hurt.

A while back I witnessed something that fundamentally shifted my perspective of the world and how it treats mothers.  I don't have permission to talk about the actual event, but I can say that it was deeply profound, mostly horrifying with small handfuls of deep and permanent magic, and it left me with an emotional bruise so purple, I thought a part of me might die from the impact.  Mind you, I only witnessed this event, so you can understand why those you actually experienced it would say that I could share nothing of it, especially not on the big, wide, scary, interwebs.

But here's the problem with agreeing to shut up (even when you think it's inherently the right thing to do): it makes you shut up in a thousand other ways.  I was so angry I needed my tribe to take me in and let me spew it all out.  But I couldn't.  Not really.  I sobbed into my husbands arms and told him over and over again that I loved him, that we were so lucky to have what we do.  His touch and quiet words helped the bruise start to heal.  I told my best friend about it and felt the purple parts of the bruise fade away, leaning towards that ugly greenish-yellow of a healing wound.  And I watched the people involved heal and celebrate the magic it brought into their lives.

But I didn't write about it.  I didn't share the powerfully raw images I captured.  After all, I didn't have permission and I can respect that.

You may have noticed though, I haven't written about anything. 

I cannot blame this incident for that, my life has become infinitely more complicated since I went back to work full time, decided to start a new garden, kept active with the girls and the summer school program we helped designed, started working with a new theatre (for free and in my "spare" time) and, oh yeah, took on weekly care of a co-op goat.  But the desire to write or photograph and share bits of my life... it dried up around the same time.  It's almost as though keeping quiet is a soul-wide event.

The other day, a friend contacted me to tell me this website was gone.  My domain name had expired and I didn't even notice.  Did any of you?  I doubt it, because in some way, this site expired a long time ago. 

But, I don't really want to give it up.  It's an ongoing meditation for my girls and I don't simply want to let it go. There are years and years of love dropped onto these pages and I hate the idea that it would simply stop because I didn't fully know how to heal myself from something I can't really even own.  I've been busy before and still committed to these pages so I wonder if this really is at the heart of my silence.

How do I fix this?  Where do I go from here?  How do I find my way back home?

Summer School

I've mentioned before how very much I like our school.  A big part of that love comes from the other parents we've met there and the kids we all made.  This summer, in an effort to make things easier on the parents and allow plenty of time for the kids to get together, we created a co-op summer school program, meeting twice a week.

We've "studied" yoga & anatomy, carpentry, gardening, cooking, chickens, self expression, theatre, lots of art, pottery, Asian cooking & culture, and Spanish.  It's been amazing. 

Want to know more?  Why would you not.  Click on over to the little blog I set up for it.  You can find it here.

you, on a Sunday morning

Early Sunday morning after a late night at work. A night at work where all the minions of chaos came together to render it an unmitigated disaster... as far as disasters can go, that is, when you're running a glorified theatre concessions stand.  The alarm is demanding you get up, because dammit, there is a seven-year-old's birthday to attend and you said you'd go.  Also? You have to put on a swimsuit.  Sigh.  Roll out of bed, climb into the kids' bed and attempt to wake them by falling back to sleep across their tiny bodies.  The big one responds to the words, "birthday pool party" by stumbling up and pulling on her swimsuit, wandering about with a clean pair of underwear muttering to her dad, "Where's the swim bag?".  The little one remains asleep, mouth open and back pressed into your own belly while you snuggle into the nape of her sweet neck, breathing in the smell of her and wondering how you make it through each day without eating her up, you love her so.

Back into your own bedroom you go, rummaging around for a swimsuit, dreading the image you'll see once all your parts are tucked into the unforgiving material.  "Blerg" you tell your Mister and your reflection. "Mmmm." He replies, wrapping his arms around you and planting a kiss on your shoulder.  You are loved, even if you look slightly like a sausage.

Breakfast for you, the kids, the dog, the chickens, brief thoughts of the goat you don't have and would have to be milking right now if you did.  Totally waiting on the goat until the world changes a bit, yep.  Check the garden, remove a couple bugs, add some water to the Three Sisters patch and then back inside to gather the family, trying to get them into the car in one fell swoop (or swell foop, as the Mister likes to say).  Realize there was no coffee this morning and shake it off, making your way to the YMCA pool you've never seen.  

Wrong turn.  Thank goodness for the Mister who spies the water slide and tells you where to go. 

This is what you find:

Psst, not my photo.  I refuse to bring my camera to places full of wet.

It's like a Mecca for wee people.  When the big water slide opens you try to talk the big kid into going, but she refuses, too afraid.  Instead, spend the next hour swapping with the Mister so you both can ride it, pleasantly surprised and excited to be reminded how brilliantly awesome a water slide can be.  The water is warm, the sun is burning you all a bit, but you are having a great time.  Happy to be together and playing and not even thinking about how you look as you rawr through the water with a five-year-old giggling on your back, flinging children around feeling like a kid, yourself.

You realize, for only a moment, that you are not even thinking of the things that made you yell, "This cannot happen again!" at your staff just 12 hours ago.  All you can see is that the little kid is learning the breast stroke right in front of you and the big kid has just discovered that even if she can't touch the bottom of the pool, she can save herself by simply swimming to the edge and the Mister is grinning foolishly from the top of the big water slide, pure joy all around.  Who knew you could find a moments redemption in an aquatic park?

This is you, on a Sunday morning. 

And dammit, you like this version of you. 

Goat Laser Protection System 2000

At work today I was talking to one of the tech guys about how we want to get a goat*. He suggested I could just let it roam free about the property and it would eat things with wild abandon.  Which would be great, if, you know, we didn't have coyotes on the property that also tend to eat (living) things with wild abandon.  "Oh, that's simple!" he proclaimed, "All you need is a Goat Laser Protection System." 

"Um, why don't you draw that up for me, Dean."

Less than an hour later he came by my office and presented me with this:

Goat Laser Protection System

We're totally going into business.

 

*Dean and I go way back, are excellent friends and tend to talk about all manor of things, so discussing a goat isn't that odd for me and the Tech guy to be doing.

The seven switch

Miss Lil
Lily, age 7, at a birthday pool party for a friend

Something has changed with Lily.  On her birthday we went to The Children's Museum and she was talking to everyone, telling them she was now seven, telling them about her day, telling them whatever thought happened to come into her head.  She was approaching random strangers at the book loft and Starbucks later in the day to tell them about all she'd done for her birthday and to elicit a "Happy Birthday", smiling big and open at them when they complied.  By bedtime she was telling me how she felt older.  She told me she wasn't afraid to talk to people and was super comfortable the whole day and was just really happy with her confidence.  And it hasn't really stopped.  It's like turning seven flipped a magic switch in her head and she's no longer so shy or emotional.  I don't know if it'll continue, but for now, I'm enjoying seeing the smile on her face and the confidence in her voice.  More than that even, I'm in love with the pride she feels in her own progress and that she sees the world with a few less fears now.

I've been thinking about how fortunate I feel with Lily's placement in the multi-age, dual teacher class last year.  While I believe she would have thrived in the smaller, more intimate setting of the first-graders-only class, I have a feeling that teachers nurturing style and the small class size would have allowed her to stay in her shell.  I don't know, of course, but it's something I suspect.  While 40 kids was overwhelming to me, Lily never got lost in her class; not with multiple teachers to keep a hand on her and their commitment to addressing each child's individual needs.  That dynamic, coupled with the age variations, allowed her to feel safe, comforted, cared for and... free to step forward and explore who she is.  She grew SO much this year and is, in many ways, a very different kid.  One that is more confident and, I think, more happy.

She still has her moments of intense introspection and emotion, but I see this summer as an opportunity for her to step into her own.  And honestly, I cannot wait for Fall and for her to return to school.  Anything that makes my child feel so deeply part of the world... well, it's something I can't help but cherish.

7 Days: 6 - funky chicken

7 Days: 6 - funky chicken

About a month or two back my Mister rescued a pair of chickens.  They were in need of a home or a soup pot and we decided to give them a home for a while.  We were told that one was what's called a "naked neck" and before he picked them up, we all speculated as to how odd this bird would look. 

She's ridiculous. 

I think she's silly enough that she needs a name (we don't name all our chickens). 

Any suggestions?

7 days: 5 - Anya and her loot

7 days: 5 - Anya and her loot

We went to a friend's birthday party today, complete with a swimming pool, bounce house and a piñata to whack the crap out of.  The girls had a blast though Anya stayed stuck to me the whole time.  Lily noticed later that there weren't as many photos of her, which could have to do with the fact that she was off having a good time and wanted nothing to do with me.  Honestly, she's grown so much this year and is so much more confident and strong and happy.  I love to watch her just BE out in the world.

But anyway, Anya is one happy bug in this shot.  She got candy, something her mean Mama rarely lets her have. 

7 days: 4 - making art

7 days: 4 - making art

Today is my big kid's birthday and she wanted to spend it at the Children's Museum.  This is the three of us working on making art for the Mini-Country project, where you make something that you'd find on a farm.  Lily made a red tape barn, I made a water tower thingie and Anya... well, Anya is 5.  She piled strips of cardboard, tape and fabric in layers and called it a day.  It was kind of awesome. 

We had a really busy day of fun to celebrate my big seven-year-old.  It was awesome. 

7 days: 3 - first day of summer?

7 days: 3 - first day of summer?

So what did you do for your first day of summer?  We went to school.  My big kid has always had a bit of a rough go at transitions.  So, we decided for her first day off from school we'd go to school and help clean up the classroom.  She got to see her teachers for a couple hours, we got to fulfill some of our volunteer hours (the school is a co-op) and we got to help out with the monumental task of cleaning up a year of crazy kids.  I was going through the book bins to put things back where they belong while Lily was washing down tables and chairs.  Anya was mostly reading books, but earlier she had gone through about half of the marker bin to test each pen and see which could stay and which had to go to the marker graveyard (aka trash).  It was a lovely couple hours.  

7 days: 2 - Hotcakes with my Mister

7 days: 2 - Hotcakes with my Mister

A large chunk of my extended family (dad's side) got together this morning for brunch to celebrate Father's Day.  I got the breakfast burrito (first time I had one of them with hash browns inside) and my Mister had the hotcakes sandwich.  The girls followed his example with Mickey Mouse inspired hotcakes and then the big kid ate some of my burrito.  Most people complain about getting their kids to eat anything at all.  Mine?  The eat all day long.  Their food, my food, your food... WATCH OUT.  They will eat it all.

And yes, my Mister and I always bring our own cups.  Especially when we stop at his favorite coffee shop on the way to breakfast!