Sunday, November 28, 2010

Capturing Moments

These are random pictures of Isaac and Keila playing. I'm always told how quickly time passes and sometime when you're in the middle of it all and you're feeling a little worn at the constant demand, it's hard to imagine you'll miss it. But in the evenings when they're sleeping angel-like in bed, I look on the pictures and smile a little at the blessing of capturing this tiny moment for me to look back on. I love my 'babies'!

Isaac with his 'lasso' while we decorated after Thanksgiving. He is forever trying to rescue something!

This was a Saturday morning when Kent had some free time to build with his little man. Isaac was so proud of it and I suspect that they built something a little more lasting that day than just a castle.

Sleeping in total abandon!

They both adore their blankets and there's apparently something extra special about the edges of those things that they love to rub under their noses! This is them goofing off before bed.

It is not often that I set aside work first thing in the morning for a trip to the park, but I'm glad I did that morning. I needed a little persective for that day and they needed some time to enjoy the cool of AZ. I had tons of laundry to do that day (can you tell when Keila is in a tank top for winter? - she reminds me of something out of the 80's era) not to mention all the cleaning and housework. Somehow everything got done despite our little diversion. Balance!

I love it when the two of them snuggle. I hope and pray that they will always be close to each other and cherish the small comforts (like blankets and hugs from each other) that life offers them.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Little Symbols of the Year

We have a tradition around our home that stems from our meager days as students. We had so little money and so few ornament that we stuck our tree into the corner and purposely decorated only the visible front. We'd allow ourselves one indulgence and that was a new ornament each year for each person. Since then, with the growth in family and the years of marriage we now have a somewhat presentable tree filled with eclectic objects that have meaning to us. We're having trouble keeping track of them all, so I've decided to blog them so no one has a fit when they marry or move on taking their ornaments with them.

These are Isaac's. Unlike most children he never really had a screaming session on Santa's knee but kept his gaze on the candy cane as if to say, "If I can endure this strange man with a hairy white face, I can get that!" The squirrel stems from our stint in Houston where hoards of the chittery animals raced around everywhere we went. Isaac watched once as I lured one in with at 'tsk, tsk, tsk' sound and from that point on he'd chase them imitating me. Now as we think back, that was probably one of the worst things to teach him and we were lucky none of the beady eyed creatures took to biting him. The 'Smore' ornament is for this year. Camping is the epitome of heaven to this little boy. There is something about a tent, a sleeping bag, special time with Baba and ALWAYS the 'mushmellows', graham cracker and chocolate memory that brings the biggest grin to his face.

Keila got the bell last year and really it was for me and the reminder from The Polar Express and the power of believing and of faith. I was concerned about having a girl and felt a great deal of inadequacy, but having Keila now has brought understanding, healing and a wealth of joy hitherto unknown. The purse was for this year. As you might already know, she's a girly girl and I find myself in amazed at her inclinations to pick out clothing and shoes. Most of all, she LOVES to put a purse on her shoulder and mine is a source of great entertainment when we're out and about.

Unlike my usual choices, mine was rather ostentatious, but I chose the peacock. It was time for something with a little more flair on our tree ... or maybe it's for my vanity! ;0)

Kent chose a pair of butterflies to symbolize the changes that have come through marriage and children in our many years together. The hope is that we will continue to metamorphoses from something plain and common to something unique and beautiful.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Playing with the Mundane Things of Life

I recently chanced upon a place for kids 7 and under called Imagination Avenue. It totally lives up to it's name with none of the automated talking toys or things with flashing lights such that a parent begins to wonder if seizures are meant to be one of the side effects. They have an entire little town (fire station, police and jailhouse, boutique, grocery story, bakery and yes, even Home Depot) built in a circle with a paved road and in the center of it all is a gated play place for children 2 and under so ALL the children can be under a parent's watchful eye all the time. It's not large (obviously) but ever so cute and fully accessorized. There are grocery carts, baby strollers, a truck, police car and firetruck. Chalk and eraser with desks are in the school and a kitchen (refrigerator, oven and cupboards) complete the house. Oh, don't forget the ironing board, something every child wants to imitate but as adults we avoid like the plague! It was darling! Keila and I went one morning while Isaac was in school and she had a blast exploring and playing while I had fun squeezing into small areas to capture the miniature town.

Gotta love the cheese smile!

I tried to get Keila up in the little jailhouse so I could write a whole story about her robbing the grocery store and taking off down the road with the cart but she wouldn't cooperate!

Gotta enjoy a cup of hot chocolate after a long day of work.

We went again about a week later as a whole family. Isaac was totally enamored with the truck which he quickly loaded with as many tools as possible to 'fix' the house.

He was a pretty safe driver, shoulder checking as he moved on and off the road and looked back carefully when he backed out of the drive. Maybe there's hope for us and a few less grey hairs come the teenage years!

Keila's expression reminds me of myself whenever I bake (which is rare for good reason) ... "Something just doesn't seem right about these cookies ..."

It was nice having Kent there and we switched off watching the kids. It gave me the chance to reflect on the irony of it all. Here my children can happily spend endless hours imitating and pretending to do the mundane chores of my life. I remember I was once that way, but when did it all change? When did cooking become a chore rather than a fun activity? Grocery shopping? I'm pretty sure when I felt the weight of responsibility that things shifted but then I sometimes wonder if it would be a little more fun again if I stressed less. Perhaps if I wasn't so rushed for time (which I'm trying to save so I can move on to the next mundane chore ...) but a little more present. I suppose I'd lose efficiency but than again I might gain a little more happiness along the way. I'm sure there's a balance to be had, but I'll be darned if I can find it. I just know that when I watch my children having fun doing the things I do every day of my life, I think to myself that I ought to feel a little more joy in the living of life!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

A Cultural Exploration!

I love different cultures! When I was at college a club hosted an annual Asain celebration (usually around Chinese New Year) that featured fashion shows, food, dances and martial arts from all the major countries in that area. It was through that that I became familiar with even small countries such as Laos, Cambodia and Thailand and learned to love the vast differences that made us who we were. Despite differences there were always something that was similar which would also put a smile on my face, something familiar that felt a little like home.

When I began teaching, especially English as a Second Language classes in Phoenix, I became familiar with the middle eastern countries of Iran, Iraq and many of the African Muslim nations. Of course this lead to various forays into their food and additions of recipes to my strange repertoire. Now I like having homemade hummus on hand, or tzatziki, fafaela, etc. There is something about these experiences that make me remember the humanity in all of us that ties us together - the need to eat to stay alive and how each culture has turned that need into an art and a social connection to enrich life.

Well Kent and I branched out again last night and went to a tiny restaurant that served Somalian food. There is much of the middle east in it, but the spicy sauces, chappati bread and barris (rice) and goat meat were all new for me. We BOTH stuck out like sore thumbs there, not only due to skin color but that fact that we used a fork and spoon. I wished in some way I had had a guide to show me how it is done correctly and politely, it would have made the experience ever so much more authentic. It was a wonderful time and Kent and I both agree we'll have to go back for more!

This was the goat meat roasted to a wonderful flavor and the rice that is seasoned with cinnamon and cardamon. I LOVED the rice!

This was the chappati bread that had then be cut so it resemble noodles mixed with chicken (reminded me a little of tandoori chicken from India) and onions with a tangy sauce on the top. Between the 2 plates you'll see an empty one that had babaganosh (an eggplant based dipping sauce), Tahini sauce (sesame seed- very rich) and hummus. Had we known the servings would be that large we'd have order a little less!

Friday, November 5, 2010

This Motherhood Thing

Sometimes I feel as if the only thing I really do consistently is complain - about all the endless work, the crazy family schedule, the energy level of the kids, etc. But when I really stop to think about it, I'm blessed to be able to be at home without any huge financial strain. Yes, we're busy, but we enjoy what we do and we are lucky to be able to have so many rich experiences. The kids, it's always a bipolar feeling! They give me stress and so much work, but they are truly the beings that make me smile and enjoy life anew. It's just hard finding a way to vent without the venting steaming over and clouding the blessings I have. If I'm truly honest, my moods are often reflected in how my family behaves. Mama's crabby, well by the end of the day everyone is crabby. It's become a lot about finding balance filling my tank and knowing my limits so that we can still be efficient as a family and have a good time. I am grateful when I have (on very rare occasions) one of those days. The best part of it is that at the end of the day I'm able to say, "I can do this motherhood thing!"

The following pictures was of one of those days. We didn't have anywhere to rush too so I got breakfast ready while the kids played.

Sometimes those two really crack me up as I watch the 'power struggle' between them. Keila may be smaller, but she's not to be out done!

They love to eat outside on the picnic table and I love it because it saves me from needing to sweep as often!

Later that day we met up with a friend at a park where the 3 kiddos played happily for over 2 hours and ate a picnic lunch. I got great adult conversation time and once Keila went down for a long nap, had the energy to clean house while Isaac contently read books and cut up magazines. These are the days .... :0)

Monday, November 1, 2010

Literary Adventures!

I love everything about Isaac's preschool! Not only is he learning his letters and numbers but he's making friends and learning how to get along and solve problems. His teacher, Mrs McMurry does great things for the kids and I'm always grateful for all her efforts. She brought back a stuffed killer whale from her 60mile walk for breast cancer in Seattle to her class. They named it Lovey (we're still not sure if Lovey is a he/she ... gender seems to change with the children) and each child can take it home for a few days, have some adventures with Lovey, take pictures and 'write' a story. It's been one of the best homework assignments ever! Isaac was determined to give Lovey the best time EVER and built her (Isaac insisted it was a 'she') a Lego car which I was told in story format latter, she took over a Lego mountain and back down again. They played peekaboo with Keila from a laundry basket and Lovey did flips on our bed.

I was told that Isaac stood proudly when his adventure was read to the class. Way to go bud!