June 12, 2015

Kindergarten 2015

He started out his final day as a kindergartner with his requested breakfast: pancakes with Nutella, strawberries and fresh whipped cream.  His prank mustache glued on, he boarded the bus with even more confidence than he had back in September.

It was Trot's turn to join us for the car ride today

Later, we joined him at school: his father, some grandparents, his brother and me.  My mind battled between thinking this was the hugest of deals, and recognizing that this is only the end of kindergarten with a long way to go until college.  Regardless, I wanted to document it all.  Even the celebratory pizza lunch.

On into this evening we celebrated, wearing crowns and opening commemorative presents.  I squeezed my Mom's birthday in there too.

Document.  Document. Document.  But so far it hasn't been enough proof for me to truly grasp that my little boy isn't quite so little, nor kindergarteny any more.  Bittersweet and tender, joy laced with something darker, A heart grasping to understand this new development in motherbood: this is where I leave it at tonight.

June 09, 2015

Grilled Bok Choy at Ball Mountain Dam

You know how there are those spots relatively close to where you live that entice you to visit over and over?  They hold some sort of nostalgia, or engaging vista, they tend to transport you to another space in your head when visiting them?  Ball Mountain Dam holds that charm for me.

Not too far from home, it always feels like we are camping out in the wilderness, yet we can get the boys home in time for baths.  When I need a short-lived outdoorsy experience I hanker for a visit here.  This time around the boys rolled about like bear cubs and explored the varied species of birds while we cooked up lunch.  Let me tell you about that bok choy before I get too far ahead of myself.  My farmer friend taught me how delicious it is to grill greens; ever since then I eagerly anticipate this time of year when our CSA's arugula and kale and bok choy and escarole and mesclun greens are all vying for space in my fridge.

Grilled Bok Choy
Ready?  Heat up the grill (gas is fine, but charcoal did taste super yummy) to a low-moderate flame.  Place the intact, whole head green(s) of your choice on the grill.  Sprinkle on some salt, pepper, a little olive oil... any flavoring you desire.  I used pesto this time around because that was lingering in the fridge too.  Just keep in mind that you don't want to saturate the greens.  Grill on one side for approx 3 minutes, then flip and repeat on opposite side.  Keep an eye on your greens as they cook fast.  When all appears wilted and warmed, pull it off the grill and enjoy!  Tuck it in with your burger, or treat it as finger food like I tend to do.  On this day I had 3 heads of bok choy!  It was a picnic, why hold back?

Some sort of construction is happening at the Dam right now, but even with that we were able to walk down to the area we most like to tromp around at.

We stayed and played on the rocks and in the mud until every one was satiated with food and fresh air, yet we were still home in time for baths.

June 02, 2015

Socrates clocked me with a good one

Sometimes we all just need to admit that life is spinning a little faster in our personal solar systems.  This confession seems most obvious to me when someone else's turbo orbit has just decreased in speed- I wave thrashingly to that someone else as I wiz by. 
Champ is the ULTIMATE BEST at balancing intensity and relaxation.

Being busy is actually fine by me.  I like the structure that must be made of it, I appreciate the checks next to all the things raced to completion.  Busy in and of itself is how the majority of my hours, days, months are spent: I know this to be true because I can remember a time when I didn't have quite so much going on and I know similar frivolous moments will re-emerge in the most distant future.  For now, busy is the buzzword of my life; don't go thinking of that as a complaint, please.

If being busy keeps me constant company though, eventually all that organized chaos pummels me into a 6 cup chugging coffee drinker ( I lie.  3 cups max.  Otherwise my stomach decides to sit outside my ribs for the day.) who still doesn't have enough energy to get dressed.  That's when I curse busyness as the bane of my existence- I thrown in an extra curse to my extreme tendencies too.  Because really, Self?  You can't just keep it even keel?  Always having to whirling dervish around or lump it up on the bed? Self usually answers me in the same way: go to the books and leave me alone (Self always knows the best advice).  I begin to climb the bookshelf.

"We all have the same 24/7. What we do with our time becomes our priority. Choose what you do with your time and do not lead a life by default” 
  - Patt Hollinger Pickett

Busyness and default: two separate things.  Usually when I begin to lose my mind, it's because I've accidentally set my systems to "default".  My inner peace relies heavily on how long it takes me to find the reboot switch.  My eyes sweep around the house looking for it and I feel a vague awareness of energy beginning to overtake me; noticing all the contented creatures milling about the sunshine.

I slowly begin to remember that busy is fine, cruising default through my days is not: things must be shook up.  If it's nice weather I drag some of those creatures outside.  We turn on music and dance vigorously on the grass, I force group selfies on them to provide me evidence later (when I forget again) that children grow quickly and yes, busyness is legit. 

Look!  Look!  One must balance both or else that 'ol cliche of boys maturing and tasks never getting ticked off becomes the truth.  Who ever would want that?  I will make the time to recognize I do not want that truth.  Ever.

Socrates hangs on my bookshelf too.  He scolds, "Beware the barrenness of a busy life."  He does not like to hand words out gently, like Ms. Pickett.  The brute blows his urgent breath hotly onto my cheeks, even as he (in his own way) repeats what Ms. Pickett has already said.  Self told me to listen to their words and so I do.  The reset button found, I revisit my "to do" list (it's not like it will magically go away) and devise a plan.  

My boys easily model what those writers continually clock me over the head with.  They have their own activities to complete and timelines to manage, yet somehow they do it with a hell of a lot more grace and composure than I have.  

It's a fact people are busy, it grows exponentially with age (until, so I hear, it doesn't).  Years will pass and the lists my boys create will mature: they will scrawl down hard, most difficult things to be accomplished.  It will not always be a life of buying groceries, changing the car's oil, climbing the backyard tree.  May they never lose their ability to balance, or at the very least may they remember that books always provide fighting words when the world demands that life should be just so.

Life is intensely busy.  Life is relaxed. 
Life should never ever be just so.

May 26, 2015

Moments with Mutts

Because of my dogs, I'm committed to finding animal inspiration in the day to day moments.  What animals inspire you? Share your stories and links in the comments!   

- the coolest way ever to win a goat farm (thanks for the link, M)
- lava on one side of the Galapagos, iguanas on the other
- how did the needle even get there?
 - I am smitten with Zappa!


May 14, 2015

Moments with Books

This week I'm chatting about "Yes Please" by Amy Poehler and "Reading Lolita in Tehran" by Azar Nafisi.

VITALS: "Yes Please" by Amy Poehler
HOW WE MET: It was time
A MOMENT'S SUMMARY: Opening with a section called "Instructions For How To Use This Book", Poehler describes her book as an "open scrapbook" of memoirs, photos, advice and essays.  Beginning with a nod to her childhood acting debut, she writes her love of performing and improv grew aggressively from that moment.  The book adds details to her publicly known timeline: adventures in comedy and improv; joining the "Upright Citizen's Brigade"; her time at "Saturday Night Live", then Parks and Recreation"; friendships with Tina Fey, Seth Meyers and Rachel Dratch... even Poehler's grandious schemes when hosting the Golden Globes.  These sections of the book are spectacular; her keen balance of humor and truth felt on every single page.  I was smitten with the SNL gossip tidbits she mentions.  What makes this book more than the usual fine book to read though is that unflinching honesty, especially when directed at herself.  She writes of her drug use, journeying through divorce, beginning her career at SNL just as 9/11 impacted America, and her children Archie and Abel. All sprinkled in perfect doses throughout the timeline, leaving me wanting to know a little bit more as I turned each page. 
HEAD AND HEART: This is undoubtedly heart text.  In her section on "time travelling" she boils down clandestine moments to simply believing.  In God, or purpose, or destiny... whatever one's choice, but in always believing.  Knowing firmly that seemingly unrelated events happen for the good of our souls.  Always. 
FOR MY QUOTEBOARDS: "It's easier to be brave when you're not alone."

VITALS: "Reading Lolita in Tehran" by Azar Nafisi
HOW WE MET: I had just finished a reread of "Lolita"- this book seemed like a perfect follow up choice!
A MOMENT'S SUMMARY: The title refers to a secret book club founded by the author in the Islam Republic of Iran where she taught.  The club was composed of 7 handpicked, female students who met weekly to review the classic texts of "Lolita", "The Great Gatsby", "Daisy Miller" and "Washington Square".  Nafisi's intent was to allow the women room to discuss literature without the overriding censorship and fundamentalism that ruled the Republic just outside the book club's doorstep. Tentatively the group begins. As each week progresses, they draw strong, impactful connections between the characters in the books and the harsh day to day experiences of life as a woman in the Islam Republic 
of Iran.
HEAD AND HEART: it was a great follow up choice, but admittedly there was a time I might not have picked this type of book out so readily.  I can read about past national and world issues, but I don't tend to pick up novels that are still stinging and fresh with those same issues.  In the end, I'm glad I read this.  Parts were difficult to get through, but important for me to be reading.
KEEP AN EYE OUT FOR: the "magician"
FOR MY QUOTEBOARDS: "No I am not over dramatizing. Life in the Islamic Republic was always too explosive, too dramatic and chaotic to shape into the desired order required for a narrative effect."


AS FOR YOU: Have you decided these books are worth the read, or not?  Got an insider scoop on one of these selections?  Carry on the discussion in the comments- using the rating scale is optional ;)

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