Outside looking in: a flash-forward peek at my future in parenting

Outside looking in: a flash-forward peek at my future in parenting

My daughter recently competed in her first chess tournament. I was more nervous than she was.

She’s only 5, and I worried about sportsmanship, I worried about whether she would have fun. I worried about whether she would get bored, or scared.

She was just excited that she would get to play chess: Five games of chess  – with other kids.

outside looking in

And trophies!

outside looking in

She wanted one of those trophies.

So we got up at the butt-crack of too early to get up on a Saturday morning, and still had to run to school to get there in time to check-in, because, of course, late check-in means forfeiting the first game.

So, we get all checked in, and wait. Why is it that the big days in life seem to involve so much waiting?

Finally, we got the pairings, and the judge for the Kindergarten tournament introduced himself, recapped the rules,  reminded the little ones about sportsmanship,



ushered all the parents out of the room.

So we sat on the floor in the hallway, we parents of the 25 kindergarteners duking it out across chessboards in that classroom. The door to the classroom had a thin window, and the parents rotated throughout the game play, taking turns peeking through the window trying to get a glimpse of what was going on in our child’s game.

outside looking inI got a little glimpse that morning – a preview of my future in parenting.

More and more, as she gets older, her important events will take place outside of my control. I can lead her up to the door, but she has to take it from there.

I don’t think they’ll let me in the room when she takes her SATs either.

I’ve said it before, and I still believe that parenthood seems to be one big, long, excruciating yet joyous exercise in letting go.

And the chess tournament? That went very well. The kids were all well behaved, and gracious winners and losers. As a whole, they seemed to be pretty good at getting their pieces into the middle of the board, but only a few of them were closing the deal. There were a lot of stalemates.

Gem had one draw, lost 3, and then because there were an odd number of kids, there was a bye every round. Gem got a bye on the fourth round. She was more disappointed about not getting to play that game than any of her losses.

But in the end, since this was kindergarten, she did get her trophy, along with all the other kids.

outside looking in


And she still loves playing chess.

Recipe: Blueberry Crisp with Peaches and Ginger

Recipe: Blueberry Crisp with Peaches and Ginger

Ginger adds a warm, earthy, autumn kick to this classic dessert.

blueberry crisp with peaches and ginger

Years ago, my mother taught me how to make a skillet pie. This is much like a regular pie, but quicker, and quite a bit more rustic. Simply start with a cast iron (or other oven safe) skillet. Melt butter, add a touch of flour and sugar and fruit, and heat in the skillet till the fruit starts releasing it’s juices and forming a syrup. Then top it with a pie crust and pop it in the oven. So simple and easy.

I started combining ginger with blueberries in dishes recently, and I just love the flavor combination: down home with a kick.  A few weeks ago, my friend Diane baked me a blueberry and nectarine pie, and that inspired the addition of the peaches.

I wanted a simple dessert like that, but I did not want to bother with pie crust, so I substituted with a standard crisp topping – with a touch of ginger for a little more kick. Toasted nuts would be delightful in this topping as well.

We are fruit smoothie people, so our freezer is always stocked with frozen fruit; this recipe was easy to whip up with ingredients we keep on hand all the time.

As always, delightful kitchen helpers make the food taste more delicious.

gem is a wonderful cook


Blueberry Crisp with Peaches and Ginger

Blueberry Crisp with Peaches and Ginger


3 cups blueberries (fresh or frozen)
2 cups sliced peaches (fresh or frozen)
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon flour
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 cup flour
3/4 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons butter (melted)



In an oven safe skillet, melt butter, add flour, brown sugar, and ginger.

Allow this mixture to melt together, then add the fruit. As the fruit softens and releases it's juices, start working on the topping.


Mix together flour, oats, brown sugar, ginger, cinnamon, salt, and top with melted butter.


Spoon the topping over the fruit mixture. Place in oven heated to 350 F. Allow to cook 20 minutes or until the topping is lightly browned.


Serve hot, with ice cream. Also delicious cold, straight from the pan while standing in front of the fridge.

First Sleepover

First Sleepover

Gem and her BFF/cousin had their first sleepover recently.  It was a big rite of passage for both little girls.

First Sleepover

Checking out that awesome tent.

First Sleepover

Puppy snuggles.

The tent was set up so they could see the TV and watch a movie before falling asleep.

First Sleepover

They did eventually get some sleep.

Respect the School Zone

Respect the School Zone

I’ll admit to being annoyed by the 20-mile per hour speed limit in school zones… in the past.  Funny how things change now that I have a 5-year-old walking to school every day. And now, every day, I give those fast drivers a mama bear glare.

school zone

The neighborhood in which we now live has well marked school zone signs, but there are a few school zones around Seattle that I suspect have become quite the source of income for city hall. School zone signs that are hidden behind trees or tucked in around a corner, placed where a driver wouldn’t notice if they were watching the road – those are a problem. Those not only put the driver at risk of being ticketed, they put our children at risk, too.

Last year, I contacted the city about one hidden sign, and since the sign is now much more easily seen, I suspect the overgrown bushes and trees were trimmed back.

If you see signs that are poorly placed, or where shrubbery has obscured the sign, please contact your city and ask to have it fixed.

And please, respect the reduced speed limit in school zones. A child’s life is worth so much more than the couple extra seconds it takes to get through that part of the road.

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Building personal connections through social media #ShareAwesome

Building personal connections through social media #ShareAwesome

My daughter doesn’t have a baby keepsake book, she has my blog. For the past decade, social media has been the family scrapbook, recording the bumps and bubbles along the way, with a bit of introspection here and there to frame, add context, and derive meaning from the stories.

confidence - CoffeeJitters.Net

Five years ago we celebrated the 20-year reunion of my high school graduation. I wasn’t able to attend the gathering, but still, it gave me pause…  My friendships with many of my classmates are more robust and meaningful now that we live thousands of miles apart than the were when we saw each other every day in school. Social media helped us to leap-frog over superficial variables like social status, that extra 40 pounds, or even proximity, and we began to connect over conversations, shared values, and even our differences.

When I was diagnosed with cancer, social media played another role in my life. One of the devastating impacts of cancer is the way it isolates us from the rest of the world: long, dark hours holed up in the bedroom, too tired for company, yet still lonely. Social media allowed me to chat with others and keep up with my friends at my own pace. Facebook and my blog allowed me to maintain contact with the outside world, update loved ones on my condition, and even coordinate some of the help around the house I so desperately needed. Now that I have completed cancer treatment, I use social media to help and encourage others who are dealing with cancer and it’s lingering side-effects.

McKinley Family Alaska 1947

McKinley family after the move to Alaska. 1947 – My mom is the little one in braids, peeking out from under her grandfather’s elbow.

This wonderful interconnected age also helps me explore my family history. Old photos brought down from dusty attics can be scanned in and broadcast to family members around the world, and the comments return with fascinating stories. Collectively, my family’s understanding of our past is enriched as we each participate in sharing these photos and stories. And as they are recorded, in the blog and elsewhere, they will be a resource for future generations as well.

With all this awesome of social media and digital technology comes some responsibility. We need to be smart about what we share about ourselves and others.  National PTA has partnered with LifeLock to share awesome ways families can create an open, evolving conversation about positive, safe decisions when using digital tools. It’s all part of having a happy, healthy lifestyle. For you, your family, your friends, and the whole world – everyone benefits when you #ShareAwesome!

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Snap a photo of an awesome moment in your day and share it on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram with the #ShareAwesome hashtag!

Students who enter the #ShareAwesome contest between September 15 – November 30, 2014 will have a chance to win fantastic prizes, including tablets and a $2,500 scholarship!ShareAwesome Clever Gram

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I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.