Earlier this week, we had a day full of adventure at the Seattle Children’s Museum, which is situated in the lower level of the Armory at the Seattle Center.
The museum allowed her to try on differents hats for different careers, such as Fire Fighter, or Bus Driver.
The global village showed a little bit about how some people live in a few different parts of the world such as Japan, the Philippines, and Ghana.
COG City was all about machines and mechanics and how things work.
With supplies and opportunity to build a few things on their own.
The optometry office was a big hit for our bespectacled girl. She loved having the opportunity to wear the optometrists jacket.
She loved getting a closer look at the equipment where she could explore and study it in a way that was not possible when she got her eyes checked at the real optometrists.
Daddy was a patient patient, and even tried on her glasses.
There was a model market where they could practice shopping for food and making healthy choices.
The scale was a big hit.
And while we know that all the world is a stage, especially for a 6-year-old, nothing compares to some uninterrupted time on a real stage with mom and dad (and others) in the audience.
And then there was a magical fantasy room, full of books, and fairies, and a happy little girl who really didn’t want to leave.
The Seattle Children’s Museum is designed for kids up to ten, but I think where it really shines is for the preschoolers. It’s a lovely place to spend the day with the little ones, especially the toddlers and up to 5 or 6, but I think many kids would outgrow it before they reach ten.
* She wants the handmade crafts – the pictures, the paintings, the little sculptures, the handprints, the inedible breakfast – But the coffee, she wants the coffee to be good, so if you haven’t mastered that skill yet, step aside
* She wants to laugh without peeing her pants
* She wants her great aunt’s ring back that you tried on because it was sparkly but then lost somewhere in your bedroom
* She wants you to clean your room
* She wants some privacy in the bathroom
* She wants you to know that loves hearing you say mom, or mama, or mommy, or mumum or whatever it is you say – It’s the most beautiful sound in the world to her, until you say it 30 times in a row – or if you say it after bedtime
* She wants a nap
* She wants some help around the house
* She wants you to eat your vegetables – Yes, those of you who are grown up, you too
* She wants you to soar, but she wants you to remember where you came from – and she wants a hug and a kiss before you go
* She wants you to call more
* She wants you to chase your dreams, but do it safely and wear your seatbelt
* She wants more for you than she ever dreamed possible for herself
* She wants you to be happy, but not just a momentary glee, but the deep soulful happiness that comes when you are using your body, heart and mind to their potential
* She wants you to know that you completely changed her on a cellular level and through every aspect of her life
* She wants a little respect
* She wants you to know that she loves you
Ok, Moms, leave me a note; What else do you want for Mothers Day
If you are in the Seattle area, celebrate your mom and motherhood by joining us at the inaugural production of Listen to Your Mother in Seattle.
I will be joining a cast of 13 local writers sharing the joy, the pain, and the mess of motherhood.
This show will be pee your pants funny, with a side of tears. Bring tissue.
We got our six-year-old a butterfly habitat for her birthday. Essentially, it’s a mesh enclosure that comes with a gift certificate for caterpillars.
The caterpillars were quiet at first, but after a few days, they got active and started spinning themselves into their cocoons.
Ten days later, butterflies emerged.
So we took them to the park to give them their freedom.
We unzipped the lid to free them, and waited for them to fly away.
But they seemed quite content to hang out in their little habitat sipping orange juice.
Eventually, one flew away, and then another. But the remaining two were just hanging out on an apple core, giving no indication that they were thinking of going anywhere anytime soon.
After a while, I reached in and nudged the apple core a bit to see if the would move.
So I picked it up, and they both just continued sitting there. Since it was already in my hand, I lifted the applecore that held the two butterflies out of the enclosure and gently placed it on the grass. They just sat there. So my daughter decided to share a flower with them.
These butterflies showed no indication that they even noticed our existence. They only had eyes for each other.
They were really into each other.
Could this be a mating thing? The directions that came with the caterpillars did warn us not to wait more than a couple days before releasing the butterflies, or we would end up with a bunch of very hungry caterpillars that we would need to figure out how to feed.
These poor butterflies get no dignity, with all the detail of their first date broadcast across the internets. Also, they should get a room.
But it did give us a good opportunity to discuss the birds and bees a bit.
After a while one of them takes an interest in the flower Gem was holding out for them.
Oh, but then they discover each other again. This time a hookup in the grass.
She (or he) heads out on a stroll through the grass, while the other one watched her walk away.
Ginger adds a warm, earthy, autumn kick to this classic dessert.
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.
There have been times, oh so many times, when the thought of compiling a list of things for which to be grateful was a little more than I could bear. Those are moments when gratitude is difficult.
Life can be difficult. Excruciating, even.
Sometimes, getting through one hour after another, means holding your breath till you remember that you are supposed to inhale and exhale. Then, those repeated steps become your occupation until you think of something else to get you through the next block of time. I’ll just hold on till the end of this show, or till Mom gets here, or till Aaron gets home, or till the baby wakes up. Then you make another deal to get through the next time span.
What is your touchpoint?
I remember those days during chemotherapy, when my stomach churned and my head spun, but the worst part was the unbelievable pain from the bone marrow stimulating shots that I had to give myself the day after each chemo. My shins ached and burned; they felt like the bone would split open, and no pain reliever would touch it.
My husband would place one of his palms on each shin and somehow found just the right amount of pressure. The combination of the heat of his hand and the pressure lifted the pain just enough. The first time he did that, I let out a sob. He stopped and quickly pulled his hands away, afraid that he had hurt me. I struggled to find the words to tell him that the sob was relief. Please, please, put your hands back.
As long as he held his hands there, the pain was held at bay, but it returned when he pulled them away. So we sat like that; his hands on my shins, my hands holding them there. Sometimes we talked, and sometimes we just sat there holding each other. These were the moments I could let my guard down.
Start with just one thing
Even in those worst moments, you can look around and find that one thing that is getting you through to the next moment. What is your touchstone right now? Find something, anything, that you can focus on, that you can appreciate. Is it the chair you’re sitting in? Your favorite pillow? The grain pattern running through your wood floor? A quiet moment? A distraction? A cup of coffee?
Now, really appreciate it.
Focus on it.
Allow yourself to lean on it.
Vulnerability isn’t easy
I felt so guilty about not having the strength to take care of my baby, unassisted. I’d just had a mastectomy and was going through chemotherapy, and later, radiation, yet I managed to heap guilt on myself for being an inadequate mother to my 1-year-old daughter.
It took me a while to see how blessed I was to have my mother and my friends there to help me care for my daughter. I could not bring myself to ask for help, but they showed up anyway. They sat with me and the baby, keeping us both company, just there to help with the heavy lifting, especially in those days when I was not even allowed to pick her up.
My baby was happy, and healthy, and well cared for, whether it was me lifting her out of the crib, or one of my helpers. I felt relief immediately, but it took a bit to fully embrace the feelings of gratitude. It took an attitude shift to appreciate the fact accepting that help was not a signal that I was failing as a mother, but just the opposite. I was doing what my child needed most for her own safety. With my helpers there, I was free to nap as needed and regain my strength, so I could stay awake to watch her another day.
Sometimes gratitude requires an attitude shift
That change from thinking I am supposed to be super-mom, to acknowledging that I’m only human was difficult.
I had to redefine for myself what it meant to be a mom. I’ve always been a proponent of the idea that it takes a village to raise a child, and I had to accept my own hypocrisy, and then allow my village to participate in raising my child.
Ultimately, I also had a learn to have a little compassion for myself. By asking what I would want my daughter to do in this situation, the answer became easy. It was easier to be compassionate with myself, after experiencing a little compassion for my daughter in a hypothetically similar situation.
The process of shifting my attitude towards gratitude allowed me to have a little more compassion for myself and ultimately, it made me a better mother, because I was able to fully embrace putting my daughter’s well-being ahead of any feelings of guilt.
I also understand, even more as she gets older, that I don’t need to be, nor should I be, her everything.
Sometimes, gratitude is difficult because it means accepting that we have weaknesses.
Sometimes, gratitude is difficult simply because we lack the creativity, or the will, to think up a list.
It’s easier to hold on to what’s wrong, because there’s more energy in that.
There are times, especially when I’m really enjoying wallowing in a good funk, that I don’t want to do the whole gratitude thing because I know it will mess up my funk, and I’m quite comfortable there.
The power of repetition
This emotional morass we experience through life doesn’t always adhere to logic.
It does, however, respond to repetition.
Thought patterns become habitual.
Emotional patterns become habitual.
So, whether the habit is wallowing in a funk or in gratitude, that becomes the default. But, that default is pretty easy to change, in either direction.
I’ve maintained a gratitude journal for a little while now. It’s nothing complicated, I just try to think of 5 specific and timely things for which I am grateful and write them down at the end of the day. It takes less than 5 minutes.
One day, a particularly bad day, I opened my journal with the intent of unloading everything that was wrong with the world. But while I was thinking through my plans of everything I was going to whine about, my hand, completely out of habit, wrote the word “Gratitude” at the top of the page. So, I decided to go ahead and do the gratitude list first, and whine later. By the time I finished the short list of five items, my mood had completely changed and I lost the desire to whine.
It’s not always that simple and easy and straightforward, but it usually is.
Over time, I have come to realize that gratitude is not just a means of cheering myself up, or engaging in the socially acceptable practice of being thankful.
Gratitude is a coping mechanism, and on those bad days, it’s one of the things that helps me get from one time span to the next.
The dress is on backwards, her (my) shoes are on the wrong feet, she’s holding her camera backwards, her hair is a mess, and there’s a dog pinned under the door. Also, the lighting is off, and it’s not well focused or composed. There is not a thing I would change about this picture. This snapshot tells a story about our life. It’s messy, and lively, and it’s spontaneous. It’s beautiful, and those little imperfections are part of what makes it… well… perfect.
I love this picture.
Beauty is imperfection
I have a mint green blanket that my grandmother knit for my baby. My grandmother was in her late 90s, had arthritis in her hands, and she was close to blind, but she was determined to knit this blanket for my daughter. The blanket was probably knit, in it’s entirety, several times with the number of times mistakes were caught, ripped out, and re-knitted, and yet the finished product is still full of dropped stitches. Those holes make the blanket even more beautiful to me. If the blanket was completed flawlessly, it would be easy to overlook the effort and determination and love that went into making that blanket. That’s not to say that a perfectly finished blanket made by someone’s grandma isn’t beautiful, but for this blanket, the flaw carries the story.
I struggle with perfectionism, and sometimes it’s paralyzing. I get stalled on a project because I can’t see a perfect outcome with my abilities, or with my resources. Of course, we want to do our best, but then get busy living. Those little imperfections are sometimes the best, most memorable and most endearing parts.