Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Travel - Reverb10

Travel. How did you travel in 2010? How and/or where would you like to travel next year?

Hmmmm.... I'm not sure why I thought December was a good month to try to start blogging again. I've fallen way behind on answering the daily prompts, but today's is easy, mostly because it doesn't require any introspection. 

Travel. I love it; although it's a bit more challenging (and expensive) with kids in tow. But, I love having the kids along, seeing new things through their eyes, and being forced to take things slowly and just enjoy the being together that happens. 

This January we spent three weeks in Bucerias, Mexico, just north of Puerto Vallarta. It was lovely, peaceful, relaxing, sunny, and warm. We spent most of our days just swimming, walking into town, and eating yummy Mexican food. Erik's parents joined us for a week and it was fun to have them with us and share that special place with them. We took the bus into Puerto Vallarta a couple of times and enjoyed walking along the malecon. We also rented a vehicle and drove up into the mountains to a lovely little town called San Sebastian del Oeste. 

That was the main travel we did this year. There were other smaller trips to see friends here in Oregon and Washington, to visit waterfalls and other such delights.

Next year? How and where wouldn't I like to travel would be easier to answer? Realistically though, if we do another big trip it will probably be to Mexico again. It's kind of our go-to destination because we use our Alaska Airlines credit card to pay for just about everything we buy, then pay it off each month. Those miles add up, and along with the $99 companion fare they offer each year, we've never paid more than about $700 for our whole family to fly to Mexico. That makes is do-able, and it's also nice that it's not too far away. So, while I'd love to travel further afield - Thailand, India, Europe, Haiti, Costa Rica - for now Mexico is probably the only place we can really get to.

This post is part of reverb10.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

5 Minutes - Reverb10

5 minutes. Imagine you will completely lose your memory of 2010 in five minutes. Set an alarm for five minutes and capture the things you most want to remember about 2010.

2010. It's hard to believe it's almost over already. Quick memories:
Warm sunshine on my baby belly in Mexico, happy splashing and swimming with the kids, tacos, whale watching, sand.
Morning snuggles with my kids.
Seeing the joy they are finding in creativity and making gifts for others.
Giving birth to Pearl; getting to know this sweetest of babies.
Raphael learning to talk; all the funny ways he pronounces his words.
Poppy sounding out her first words.
Brigid's 40 Day Blessing and her baptism.
Watching the Apparent Project grow, selling AP jewelry, and raising money to build a house in Haiti.
Evenings by the fire. 
Listening to the kids recite poetry and immerse themselves in imaginative play.
Watching my husband play with the kids and laughing together.

Time's up.

This post is part of reverb10.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Appreciate- Reverb10

Appreciate. What's the one thing you have come to appreciate most in the past year? How do you express gratitude for it?

I think I missed a whole bunch of days. It's been busy busy, happy, sad, busy. I entered the magical world of Narnia (the ballet, not the movie), grieved with a dear friend as she held her tiny lifeless baby in her arms, tried to cram a year's worth of visiting with another friend into an evening, shared my enthusiasm for Apparent Project jewelry, cooked meals, soothed owies, loved my family, lost my temper, slept (but not enough), put up our Christmas tree, and appreciated the wonder of it all. 

Which leads back to the prompt: Appreciate. I don't know if there is any one thing I can point to. I think I'm learning to appreciate my son Peregrine more. He is the one that keeps me on my toes, that challenges me at every turn. So often others tell me the wonderful things they see in him, and I need to hear that. I need to grow in my appreciation of the unique character that he is. 

Each year I appreciate my mom more. As I grow in my own motherhood I see how much she poured her life into her kids, how she still does. I see my own selfishness, and I think of how she has given her life, her interests, her self, for the sake of her family. She is one of my heroes. 

I appreciate quiet, in those fleeting moments when it can be had. 

I appreciate my husband; hard working, steady, loving, so good to us. I waited what seemed like a long time for him. He was worth it. I'm blessed.

This post is part of reverb10.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Party - Reverb10

Party. What social gathering rocked your socks off in 2010? Describe the people, music, food, drink, clothes, shenanigans.

I must be a middle aged (that sounds way too old for me) mother, because I'd have to say hands down the party of the year for me was Peregrine's 8th birthday. We've always had a costume party for him, and most years it's just been family. We wait with great excitement to see what everyone will come dressed as, and there is great anticipation as the time draws near. 
This year, for probably not the first time, Peregrine wanted to dress as a pirate. Now, I've been fighting against pirate-dom for years, but this year I finally surrendered and decided we'd just make it fun and lighthearted. He decided to ask his guests to bring a pie for a "pirate style pie contest" of which he would be the judge, and he carefully crafted ribbons for the winners of his contest. We found everything we needed for Peregrine's costume in a quick goodwill run, and I fashioned a "pie-rate" patch for the back of his vest. (I have to give him design credit though as he drew for me what he wanted it to look like.)
The day arrived, and with it the guests (some from as far away as Arizona!), the costumes, and the pies. As usual, there were grandparents, aunties, uncles, and cousins in grand costumes. There was delicious food, and then there was pie. All sorts of pie. We dished a small piece of each pie onto a large plate for the judge, who thoughtfully tried each one. The room was quiet as he pronounced the winners. And this is where our boy really shone; as he handed out the ribbons he was so diplomatic, so in charge, recognizing each entry for it's different quality, and each person for their contribution to his party. I was amazed and pleased. 

Another thing I noticed was how the gifts are changing to reflect a boy who is no longer little. Instead of lots of toys there were science kits and gadgets and books; he was thrilled with everything, and without being prompted remembered to thank people as he opened his gifts. 
It was a happy day for my happy (not-so-little) pie-rate. 

This post is part of reverb10

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Beautifully Different

December 8 – Beautifully Different. Think about what makes you different and what you do that lights people up. Reflect on all the things that make you different – you’ll find they’re what make you beautiful. (Author: Karen Walrond)

This is a hard question; different from whom? There are many ways in which I'm "different" than the mainstream culture. I have four kids and homeschool, eat very natural food, have all sorts of opinions that aren't one bit politially correct. I'm a Christian, a follower of Jesus Christ, and not only that, I'm part of the ancient eastern Orthodox Christian church. I have very hairy arms and my nose is pierced.

I've actually given a fair bit of thought to this whole being different thing. Why am I not content with the status quo? Is it a good thing? A pride thing? A bad thing? Why are some people happy to just go along with the flow, not really questioning the norm, and others of us have to question, delve into, rethink everything?. Sometimes it's lonely. Sometimes it's kind of fun. 

If any part of my "differentness" lights people up, then I hope it is the light of Christ shining through me, shining in spite of all the ways I dim that precious Light. If there is any beauty in me, in comes from Him.

This post is part of reverb10.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Community- Reverb10

December 7 – Community
Prompt: Community. Where have you discovered community, online or otherwise, in 2010? What community would you like to join, create or more deeply connect with in 2011?
Community is something I love, something I long for. I've lived in and been a part of it at different levels. Right now I live in a "micro-community" of my own little family, and it takes more effort to build and be a part of a larger community. This year I've grown closer to and more involved in my church family and as I reflect on this it makes me very glad. At times I wish I were able to participate  and serve more, or just be more involved on account of the season of my life with small children. But, there is so much grace, grace for where I'm at and gentle encouragement to keep on going. Some days it's so hard just to be there, in church, but always there is so much support, so many voices of grace. There are hands ready to help grab a toddler or hold a baby or redirect a kid with lots of energy. There is a family that embraces my family and more importantly, there is a mystical communion we share; even when we are not together, I am becoming more aware of how we are all part of One Body. 

I look forward to growing more in communion, in community, with my own "little" family, with my church family, and with everyone who is part of my life.

This post is part of reverb10.

Make - Reverb10

I'm just not going to count the popsicle stick and button snowflake ornaments I made with the kids yesterday, okay? 
In a frenzy of last minute, late night crafting, I made a stocking for my wee Brigid. I'm married to the man who claims to have the best stocking in the world, and I've lovingly fashioned unique stockings for each of my kids. They too are convinced that each of theirs is the best. So, when I set out to make a new one, I have a lot to live up to! This time I decided to do something fun, a Victorian style "Crazy quilt" stocking. Having recently done some serious purging of my fabric stash I bought all new fabrics for this project- silk, velvet, an Indian sari fabric, brocade, and a couple different trims. Erik wanted me to put some pearls on it, in honor of our little "Pearl". I also added a pearly heart shaped button, and, since she's named after an Irish saint, embroidered a Celtic knot heart. I love the way it came out and hope that she too will think she has the best stocking in the world! 
I also crafted two little felt hearts to put in the girls' stockings this year. I'd bought some ornaments on clearance after Christmas last year, but when I unpacked them I decided I really didn't like them. So, with only a few days before St. Nicholas day, when we open stockings, I decided to make ornaments. Poppy is so thrilled at having a little sister and loves to have matching things; I didn't have enough of the red felt to make them both the same, so I did them opposite. They're stuffed with bits of wool, and were a fun little project to put together. 
I have many projects I want to make, and never enough time. With Christmas coming up though, I have a few gifts left to make for various people. And that's all I have to say about that.

This post is part of reverb10.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Let Go - Reverb10

Sometimes it's all I can do to NOT take over! 

This was a hard question for me, and I was tempted to skip it. Today's prompt, after all, is a lot more fun. The more I thought on it though, the more I realized how hard it is for me to let go of control. I can't say that I have let go of it this year, but rather that I'm trying. Kids seem to go from utterly helpless to fiercely independent in a matter of moments, which means that I need to change from doing everything for them, to teaching them to do things, and then....letting go. Letting them button their own shirt, even if it's mismatched. Letting them decorate their own cake, even if it's messy, or their own gingerbread house, even if, (gasp!) all the candy is not symmetrical. It means letting them sew things and craft things and not grab the needle or the scissors and trim things up a little. It means letting them experience for themselves the joy of learning, the satisfaction of having created something by themselves. And for some reason, I find this hard. Very hard. 
As I think on this, I realize how much more intentional I need to be about this letting go, not just in the small matters, but in the bigger ones too. I mean, really, it doesn't matter that my son loves to wear nice button up shirts, one on top of another, untucked, with a belt over top and camo shorts on the bottom. This is seriously one of this favorite combinations of clothing, and I've exercised considerable restraint in not telling him how ridiculous it looks. He may look back on his pictures someday and wish I'd told him, but whatever. Clothing is not something I choose to make a battle over, but there are other areas where I need to start giving my older two kids more freedom. I need to guide, but not carry and control. I need to be there for them, but not micromanage their days. It's a hard balance, this letting go, and I hope it's something I will continue to grow in. 

This post is part of reverb10.

St. Nicholas Day

Happy Saint Nicholas Day!

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Saturday, December 04, 2010

Wonder - Reverb10

Introducing our newest child to the wonder of our faith.

 Wonder. How did you cultivate a sense of wonder in your life this year?

I like the wording of this question. It's easy to focus on the things in my life that are rather mundane; there is an abundance of laundry, cooking, diapers, sweeping, cleaning, and the like. Wonder is something that must be cultivated. I think the two things in my life that have helped me to retain a sense of wonder, or at least to grasp it at certain moments, are my children and my faith. Both of those are also things that without cultivation will not thrive. Through the eyes of my children I see life as they see it, exciting, something to be grasped and held onto. Through the eyes of faith I see life as a precious gift; I see beauty rising from ashes. I see the image of Christ in the poor, the hungry, the destitute. I see it in my children, my husband, and sometimes I glimpse it in myself, for I too, am made to be like Him. I am loved and accepted in the Beloved, and I wonder at the marvelous grace that continues to flow in and around us. 
The answer to this question is itself a wonder; it is in giving to others, dying to myself, seeking to truly live a life of faith and love, that wonder is cultivated, kept alive, and growing within. 

This post is part of reverb10.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Moment - Reverb 10

Brand New

I didn't have to think too hard about this one; the moment our little Pearl was born was probably my most "alive", intense, and wonderful one of the year. If I were never to give birth to another child, it is that moment, when the work is over and your tiny, warm, wet Life is placed on your chest, that I would be sad never to experience again. 

It's a moment of fulfillment; the little one I've grown, waited for, imagined, been sick for, prepared for, labored with all my strength for, prayed for; she is here. She has been placed upon my chest by her Daddy, my Love; he has been the first to hold her, to take her from me and give her to me, all in one motion. It's the end, and yet it is the beginning, all wrapped up in one wonderful moment. There is such a sense of relief, of release, a flowing of love, the weight of responsibility, of exhaustion and exhilaration all wrapped up one little person. There is a flood of joy as I feast my eyes upon this Baby, taking in her features, her dark hair, her perfectly formed mouth. She is all softness and warmth, fresh from my body, no longer within me, but still a part of me, forever. Soft morning light, the light of a spring morning, comes in the large window, and yet I am only aware of Her, of the miracle, the gift, that she is. She cries, the way only a brand new baby does, and I rejoice at the sound of her, this baby whom I have only felt. There is rejoicing all around me, tears of joy, praises and thanksgiving. I am surrounded by the people I love best in this world, and those who love me, all ready to love and be loved by this little child. It is a time for joy, the coming of a child, the moment I first meet my beloved little Brigid Pearl. 

One Word - Reverb10

A Typical Busy Moment in my Day

My word for this year, for 2010, would have to be Busy. Seems I run in a hundred directions at once, caring for small people and all the details of their lives. It's a good kind of busy, the best I can imagine. I never feel caught up, rarely feel as if I've accomplished all the things I'd like to by the end of the day, but I wouldn't trade it for any other life.

I'd like to look back on 2011, and call it Joy. So often I forget that, let it go, and allow feelings of frustration and anxiety to define me. I don't anticipate this next year being any less Busy than this one; in fact, with my baby becoming mobile in the next several months I imagine it being the busiest year yet. My hope, my prayer, is that I will move through it with a little more grace, a little more peace of soul, and a lot more Joy. 

Long Time No Blog

Back in the early Fall I had some idea that I was going to get back to regular posting on my blog....( insert laughter here.) Each day goes by, and I'm running along behind it trying not to swallow too much dust. Did you know that having four kids is time consuming? And cooking for, cleaning up after, homeschooling, and all the other things that come along with them take up a lot of time too? Oh, and then there's this incredible man that lives here as well; he seems familiar, like someone I knew in the past. Sometimes he gets a minute or three of my time, but not nearly enough. Someday I'm going to make it up to him, but for now he patiently goes to work each day, comes home, plays with kids, helps with dishes, rarely bats an eye at the messes that seem to pop up around here, and in general just loves me like a rock.... it's a good life.
I very much enjoy writing, and would love to make more time for it. (My high school history teacher used to say "Time is something you make, not something you have"; I think there's something to that.) For now, little Facebook "soundbites" are serving me well for jotting down a few little things here and there, leaving this space sorely neglected. My friend Rae, who lives in India, just started participating in reverb10, a daily prompt for the month of December. It's a chance for bloggers to "reflect on this year and manifest what's next". I thought it sounded like fun, although I'm not going to commit to doing it daily. Why set myself up for failure? Besides, it started on Wednesday, so I'd already be behind. So maybe, just maybe, I'll be on here a little more often.