This week marks the second anniversary of starting this blog. There have been 105 posts so far and in that time, my babies have continued to grow and change. I, too, have continued to grow and change. When I started this blog I wasn’t sure why I even started it, except to try something outside my comfort zone. Something that would push me to think about things a little differently – to create a personal rhythm to my week. Something to create structure where there was none, except that which relates to the growing of children. This blog was an experiment. It pushed me to try to answer these questions:
“Is there anything that I am doing this week that inspires me?”
“What am I thinking about now that will be difficult to remember later?”
“What can we do to keep exploring?””
There have been weeks when all our family could manage was to stick to the routine and get by. But then there were the weeks when I found a little extra creative energy to photograph a food dish that I was preparing for my family and wanted to share with you. There have been the weeks where it felt extremely important to mark the changes or joys happening that very minute. Or, those weeks that I thought about a project I was curious about and actually did it. Probably the most satisfying element of the blog has been when it has re-connected me to people in my community. Over the last few years the blog has held me accountable to my creative self and I have loved that.
Gus and I just took our first trip away from the babes. This felt big. This felt huge. It required so much planning and as we were leaving I wondered if the trip was actually worth all the work. I was worried about what kind of disaster would occur while we were gone. And I couldn’t stop thinking about the kids for the first few days… but eventually we relaxed. The grandparents that stepped in for us did so with gusto and everyone did so well. The whole thing was such a great experience and we are so thankful for the support. We had such a good time remembering that this whole party started with just the two of us ten years ago.
Lately, I have found my attention drifting towards a new creative project. I haven’t been posting here as frequently and I have been wondering whether the blog’s useful life is over. In some ways, it has served its purpose. It helped to re-awaken a curiosity in me and learn the value of taking time for myself to try things. This blog was started to track my progress on the path to reacquaint myself with who I am as an individual and who I want to be in the next chapter. Our trip reminded me that I have a bit more work to do on this path of discovery and separation.
In the future, it is likely that my passion projects will be shown on a different space entirely, so stay tuned for that; but whether it is on this blog or somewhere else, I am committed to continuing this work of experimenting, exploring and discovering. I hope you’re with me!
This past week was Spring Break for our crew and we were lucky enough to have some fantastic family time with my teenage nieces. My kids think that these ladies walk on water and as a mom, I feel so lucky that they still want to spend time with us!
While together, I spent a lot of time thinking about what it is like being a teenager these days and what advice I would give my “sixteen-year-old self”. My children are about a decade away from these would-be lessons, but my nieces are living through these complicated years right now. They are growing up to be strong, intelligent women and I feel so very proud of them. Still, being their aunt, versus their parent, makes me think that if I share a few things I’ve learned along the way, maybe they will tuck these thoughts into a pocket for a day when they need them.
It will all work out. I don’t mean that life will play out the way you think it will. Let me tell you here and now that it won’t. But that’s actually probably for the best. Life will continue to roll on regardless of what college you choose, whether you attend the dance, or make the game-winning shot. What feels like your entire world today, will be a line in your heart’s memory book. These current dramas will fade as time goes on and tomorrow’s math test (or whatever is causing you stress or pain) will ease with time. I promise you this.
Be Brave. Being young is wonderful and also really difficult (and pssst… this is true for almost everyone). When I think back to how much time I spent worrying about what people thought of me and whether I was good enough in high school, I feel exhausted. Start trying to find your own voice today and trust that it is good enough. Fitting in isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Be yourself and learn to love that person. Being who you are can mean feeling different, but as they say, different can be extraordinary.
Be kind. There is just no reason not to be. This lifelong skill is one that pays back tenfold. There were high school friends of mine that understood how to be nice to everyone and not get sucked into the drama. Although I cannot claim to have known this important lesson at the time, those are the people that I think had it all figured out. I am really happy to say that I am still close to a few of my high school friends and know that these friendships are different than others in my life. Long-time friendships are like sibling relationships – even though your paths do not always take you in the same direction, these are people who know who you are and where you come from. And there are times when this is important.
There is no perfect. There is no easy. We live in the age of Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook and it is difficult to remember that what people post to these sites is not the whole picture. When I was young I was striving for the fairy tale. But truly, there is beauty in simply surviving and getting through difficult times. Later you will look back (like I am doing now, as cheesy as it is) and realize that those really, really tough moments were actually the times when you were growing into the person that you are now (or will become). Also, remember that what goes on the internet, stays on the internet and not everyone needs to know every detail of your life.
You are loved. You are loved. You are loved. Rebellion is a necessary step of gaining independence and separating from the family. It feels uncomfortable, but it is so very normal. No one expects you to follow all the rules, but try not to break them all. That might just drive your parents legitimately insane. Despite all this discomfort, trust that there is still love. In a few years, it might even be possible to see your parents as human beings once again.
For some reason this post feels important for me to write, because right now I feel like I can remember some aspects of what it felt like to be a teenager. I don’t know if this will always be the case, especially when I have teenagers of my own. But I want these kids to know that there is so much on the other side. I am watching, from a distance, how they are navigating the choices that are in front of them and, wow, it feels overwhelming.
What would you tell your teenage self? Is there a piece of advice you wish you had known then? Please share – we all benefit from looking at this awkward and wonderful time of life through a different lens…
Spring is all about new beginnings. And I find myself in awe of how many friends are setting out on new roads. As excited as I am for these friends and their new adventures, I am also aware of feelings of being somewhat left behind. So, in an effort to positively move forward, I have been working hard on finding new sources of inspiration. I have been sewing like crazy and getting into other fun projects, (but many of those will have to wait to be shared)!
Taking a class can be wonderful inspiration. It could be a class about something you have always wanted to learn or something that just seems fun, or even a bit random. I have taken sewing classes that have taken my skills to new levels, as well as a random wool felting class resulting in some cute (and odd) little animals. Sometimes the best thing about taking a class isn’t the subject as much as what it inspires inside, who we meet, or simply the satisfaction of creating something with our own hands.
A few weeks ago a friend, M, and I took a class on how to bake french macarons. This is not something that I had a particular longing to know how to do… (I know how to buy them really well already). But, they do hold a certain fascination, don’t they? They reek of european sophistication and are currently very trendy. The crisp outer layer, the creamy center, the beautiful pastel colors… These three-layer cookies do make a happy little package, don’t you think?
And although I wouldn’t typically classify myself as a baker, I was reminded that it is so much fun to learn something new. There is something wonderfully beneficial in seeing someone demonstrate the intricacies of a recipe or process. By learning someone’s tips and tricks it removes the mystery and helps us to become a little more brave ourselves. Since our class a few weeks ago, at least nine batches of macarons have been made between the two of us. Can you say obsess much? We are currently looking for qualified taste-testers… Please contact me if you would like to be considered.
Author’s Note: I am excited to say that I will be taking my first Pantry at Delancey class this weekend. I have looked forward to trying out the The Pantry for a long time. It is a food photography workshop, so you can be the judge in future posts as to whether it was worth my time, but I’m sure it will be full of inspiration.
So a stage mom I am not. But, I do believe that trying new things can lead to growth and is important for all of us to keep doing. I do also love shoes… hmmm, I probably should have mentioned that first.
Last year, when I saw an informal casting call for the local kid’s shoe company, See Kai Run, I moved pretty quickly. All three of my kids have worn SKR shoes and we love their colorful and vibrant designs. See Kai Run was started in 2004 by Seattle mom, Cause Haun, who was looking for fun and stylish shoes for her kids. When she was unable to find kicks she liked in the current market, she started a a shoe company that promotes healthy footwear for kids. Now, ten years later, this local company is thriving and continues to make fantastic children’s shoes for a national audience.
So the end of this story is that the boys were picked for the See Kai Run photo shoot! The shoot happened last May, on a chilly, grey Seattle day at a beautiful home in the Seward Park neighborhood of Seattle. It was a fun to see what happens behind the scenes and get a little preview of future styles. The kids were great sports, despite the many goose bumps that were present that day. Thank you, See Kai Run, for letting these Poole boys experience something new with your cool company!
(Note: The photos will be used for the Spring/Summer 2014 marketing campaign. Please feel free to let me know if you see these cute faces – or um, feet – in your travels!)
So spring doesn’t officially begin for 13 more days (not that I am counting), but signs of winter’s end are all around. I spotted our first camelia blooming, the daffodils are poking their little yellow heads out, and I now hear the birds chirping when I wake up in the morning.
I remember when Sam first went to preschool, he came home with a simple bird feeder that they made in class. The teacher reminded the students (and parents) that it can be difficult for birds to find food at this point in winter, so we can help by putting food out. The garden is still a bit bleak, with the grass just beginning to sprout, but by placing a bird feeder in our tree we can see wildlife happening right outside our kitchen window.
This is a quick and easy activity to do with the kids and it is so satisfying to see the birds (and squirrels) show up so regularly! We used peanut butter, a pine cone that we found outside, and a birdseed mix from our local hardware store. You can use any mix of peanut butter, vegetable shortening, or suet (a high-quality animal fat) and there are lots of choices of birdseeds. One tip we have learned is that wire is necessary to hang the pine cone. In years past, we have very hopefully hung our pine cones with string or yarn and were quickly thwarted by motivated squirrels that will bite through the string and steal the whole bird feeder! So far, the wire has worked like a charm.
Pine Cone Bird Feeder
1 large pine cone
12 inch length of flexible wire (we used some picture hanging wire)
1 cup peanut butter
1 cup birdseed mix
Wrap the wire around the pine cone, leaving a length at the end to twist around a tree branch. Spread peanut butter onto the pine cone, getting it into all the little crevices. Then roll peanut butter-covered pine cone in seeds on a dish. Hang from tree and watch the birds show up. Remember to choose a tree branch that you can see from a window in your house. It took the birds a day or two to discover our bird feeder, but it has been a week now and all the seeds and peanut butter are gone. Time to make another one!