cold mornings...and warm kitchens

*warning: this post will not have the sharp, clear pictures of yesterday's. It will instead be images taken from my cell just squint and use your imagination* In order to kindly be the taste tester around here, I am having to step up my work outs (which basically means, work out!) So, I am dragging my butt, kicking and screaming to the gym...or to my living room to do my kick boxing dvd. This morning I had plans to meet a friend at the gym- very early. I was dreading it at first, but once I got up and going, I felt great. (my mango strawberry smoothie) (It did help that my hubby started the car and even made me a fruit smoothie- sweetest man on the planet). (my sunny drive home) It was soooo soooo cold outside, but the sun was shining and it was really beautiful out. (sunshine and frost on the windows) We played raquetball, biked, jogged did some weights and ended the workout with a nice steam...ah...great way to start the day. I am sold! Then pollywog and I made some Christmas sugar cookies. She thoroughly enjoyed herself, making sure to test out the sprinkles before they went on. We made a fun mess! and yummy cookies to work off tomorrow!

~Welcome~ is so cold outside. Hurry come in... Warm yourself by the fire. Would you like some hot apple cider? The house is full of Christmas cheer. Presents are wrapped and under the tree. There is roasted vegetable stew simmering on the stove and warm bread. Smells of cinnamon, baked goods and cider are filling the air. Oh, don't mind us...we are spending the holidays in our pajamas. Snuggling under freshly washed blankets...watching Christmas movies, playing games, baking, and singing Christmas carols. Tomorrow we will play board games, bake and decorate cookies then attempt to make a gingerbread house. It is so wonderful to have everyone home. No school, no plans, no appointments- just enjoying one another. Happy Holidays to all!

Happy Birthday my dearest son!

I would love to fill this post with sweet baby pictures of you... wild and muddy little boy photos...scraped knees, pet frogs, toothless grins and rosy cheeks...but you have a reputation to keep! I mean, really mom, "I'm fourteen now." Thankfully all of those precious moments that went by far too fast, our safely tucked away in scrapbooks and in the treasure boxes of my mind. Writing this birthday post has proven hard for me. You see, we have so much history together. We have grown up together, we have been a team, we've comforted each other, have had many adventures. We know each other well because we are practically twins...(my mother warned me that I would see one day what I put her through :D ) Thankfully, you are wiser than I was at your age. Thankfully, you have a heart of gold. Thankfully, I know all the tricks ;) I remember holding you as a baby, contemplating your future. Thinking about how one day you would be a boy, a teen, and one day a full grown man leaving our nest. Time is going by faster and faster and sometimes I just want to stop it. But I can't, so dad and I encourage your growth, support your many wonders and ideas, and bask in our pride for you. I am so thankful for the wonderful relationship you and your father have. Especially as you enter these teen years. Buddies for life! It's so neat watching the two of you do "man" things. Like Man Night, fishing, playing video games, darts, target practice, building things, night time bike rides...the list goes on and on... CJ: always excited hilarious humor wise beyond your years kind loves to teach and guide full of so many ideas creative witty brave athlete encouraging wild nature boy great with animals good friend great big brother always trying to do your best adventurous and really cool I leave you with the words I have been saying to you since you were a tiny bean in my arms. "I love you more than all the sand on the beaches, more than all the stars in the sky, more than all the water in the ocean. That is how much I love you." Happy Birthday!

Happy Birthday sweet baby girl

I remember the day I found out I would be having you!!!Happiness beyond happiness! You are a thousands smiles a day... You are snuggles, and sugar sweetness, kisses and all things girly... You are spunky,goofy, independent, strong, and a bit of a stinker (which sends you into giggles when we call you that) You are inquisitive, brilliant, smart- a thinker... Some things that you love to do: -sing... if mommy is singing you quickly join in and on key I might add-but- often I watch you sing as you play, sit in the car looking out the window, taking care of your baby doll, when you think no one is looking. Then you see us smiling brightly at you and you laugh. - have had dancing feet since before you were mobile. If there is a tune or a beat you are moving. I love turning music on and dancing with you. - are so good at putting these together. I am often blown away by your skills. If mommy tries to help you, you quickly remove that piece and re-do all on your own. You are independent in such a perfect way. You remind me of your father...always in thought and accomplishing tasks with such ease. - animals...all things animals. Animal books, songs, and pictures. You have no problem identifying each animal and making their sounds. - much prefer to draw with a pencil or pen then a crayon or marker. Although, we do have some lovely marker art on our door and carpet :O Unlike me when I was a child, you have no use for careful drawing- you draw with abandon. - food...I was worried you would never like food being that you love your NaNa's- and you still do but now you love to eat. Crackers, cheese, green olives, Annie's Mac n Chz, Annie O's, apples, bananas,raisins, yogurt, miso soup, rice, Chinese noodles, tofu, smoked salmon, tacos, hamburgers, Popsicles, pizza, and smoothies. When you see the blender come out you get excited for a yummy fruit or green smoothie. - counting...daddy and I have been counting with you since before you could talk. You can just about count to 10 on your own. We burst at the seams with pride - your bubbie... he is your hero! You love to copy everything he does. You want what he is eating, what he is playing with. Before going to bed you always make sure he hugs and kisses you (bubbie mmmuwah) When he is gone you say "where's bubbie"and when he is going to Martial Arts you say, "bubbie HiYa"! When he teases you, you say, "aw bubbie" and giggle. Watching the two of you together is special. He loves to teach you to say funny things! are without a doubt the apple of his eye. He melts around you. Often we find you perched in his arms as he goes about his day. Always explaining everything he is doing and letting you assist him. He teaches you so much. You love to scratch his beard and climb on him. He lets you do fun and exciting things that mommy doesn't. He sneaks you bits of gum, and loves to take you on dinner dates. Watching him, watch you...well there are no words. Just love -overwhelming love. mommy...we have almost been like one beating heart for so long. For the first year of your life I don't know that you left my arms at all. We breathed together at night, rhythmically. Now you are slowly beginning your separation from me and I watch you with so much delight. I love our snuggles and giggles, how many kisses and hugs I get. I love how we get ready in the bathroom mirror together and you want to do everything I am doing. I love our friendship, and kinship and our future. Your BIRTHday is my gift...every single moment. there is so much more to share- but we will do that! This morning as I lay watching you sleep and thought about you being 2 years heart felt funny- and I remembered that this is the feeling I get each time I see my children grow. Bitter but oh so sweet. This evening we will have a simple family celebration. Spaghetti dinner and a brownie cake decorated by our resident cake decorator: CJ also known as Bubbie! and of course gift opening!

what I have been up tooooooooooooooooooo

I haven't been blogging or reading many blogs lately. I have been busy and I just wanted to share some things that have been going on. My life is a series of stages- even steps. Each one exciting, different, and building on the one before. Childhood, Adolescents, The Teen Years, Young Adult, and thirties :O The past three years I have solely dedicated myself to my family. When I was pregnant with my daughter I made it a point to be very much, in each moment. Although I was sick most of the time, when I wasn't I was basking in the joys of carrying the little one. I kept a daily journal, took prenatal yoga, swam, lay staring at my belly and dreaming of holding her in my arms. When I wasn't doing that- we were spending lots of time with our son, soaking up these last months of just the three of us. At the time we lived on a farm, and took long walks almost daily, built fires and stared at the stars, invented new recipes and ate loads of soups (it was winter), and tried to build structures like Andy Goldsworthy on the property. Magical to say the least! Then soon after I gave birth to my sweet babe we moved to Portland, Oregon for hubby's new job. This time was difficult, only b/c we didn't know anyone, I had recently given birth and was also homeschooling my boy. The three of us frequently suffered cabin fever and homesickness. But through these stages/steps we grew so close as a family. Then my father became ill and my son and I missed home and synchronistically my husband was offered a full academic scholarship with an internship, to complete his Masters, in none other then my home town. So off we went... we stayed with my parents (all 4 of us) until we found a home. This time at my parents I will always treasure. I didn't know then, that my father would be leaving us...never would have even thought it...he was so alive and happy. We made so many wonderful memories. I even had a bit of that wonderful feeling of being a kid again. Eating dinners that my mom made, giggling with my daddy, the kids soaked in love...Treasure! Later as you know, my father passed away. It was on my daughter's birthday, a year from tomorrow (wow, has it really been a year?) that my dad got sick and was hospitalized. A few days later he came home and we were all excited about our Christmas together. The day after his return, he fell and broke his hip. That's when everything fell apart. Why? Why, when he was the happiest he had ever been...when life was finally right? After that he never left the hospital again, except when he came home to die. I remember standing in the kitchen as they wheeled him in, he smiled at me from the bed, so glad to be home. He looked so small and I remember thinking, he will never leave this house alive again. He stayed with us longer then they thought he would. Ornery little booger :) He was alive for my birthday, March 1st, in fact that was the last time he spoke and ate. He was laughing and jovial then suddenly he wasn't. A couple of days later he was gone... I don't know why I wrote all of that. I wasn't planning too- I guess remembering makes him feel alive. Somewhere in all of this...the amazing natural birth of my daughter, the two years of breastfeeding (still am and we have loved it...she has only had a cold twice and nothing else:D), the co-sleeping (which we love and wouldn't trade for the world...there is absolutely no better way to wake up then to a smiling child saying, "up mommy, up daddy"), the moving several times, the home-schooling my son (which has been beyond gratifying with results beyond what I could have imagined), the new relationship with my husband that happens with each additional child (deep and more unconditional then before), the death of my father and the shifts that continue to happen in my heart and spirit without him...somewhere in all of this I got lost. I am not upset about this. It's natural when you have a child to re-emerge 2, 3 years later and redefine yourself. I figured it was time b/c I was starting to feel invisible and often frustrated. Who was I? What did I like to do? Even getting dressed to go to dinner with a friend was hard b/c I couldn't remember what my "style" was. So I have been taking baby steps. Sometimes it's hard b/c the "guilty mother syndrome" creeps in and I have to be prodded and pushed by my supportive and loving husband to go do something for myself. (I love this man so much!) This is what I have been working on: I started with nutrition. I believe that when you need a change in your life- a new head space or whatever, nutrition is always a good place to start. Heal your gut and it will trickle into everything. Being a vegetarian for the last 13 years has been wonderful, but I wanted a re-charge. So I have been experimenting with a vegan raw diet. It has been amazing. I have fallen off the wagon several times, but each time I jump back on, I am reminded of it's instant benefits. And their are soooo many.(I will post a blog all about this another time) At this point I am not 100% raw and don't have any near future plans to be...but I am about 70% raw and loving it! Secondly, I began working on my fitness. This increases the serotonin in the brain and makes me feel alive. Feeling my muscles work makes me feel connected to my body where lately I have felt that my body wasn't my own. So when I can't get to the gym I do a kickboxing dvd (that leaves me very sore) and this week my sweet friend is meeting me early in the morning (before the fam wakes up), to play racquetball, jog and lift weights! YIPPEE! Thirdly, I have been slowly getting rid of excess in our home. Excess weighs my life and my families life down. I think all this consumerism mentality during the holidays spurred this on. I just get so sick of this "give me, give buy buy" attitude. The more you have the more time is zapped from you. So I cleaned out my closet...I mean really cleaned it out. If I didn't wear it on a regular basis it was put in a pile. Each time I struggled with an item and then finally tossed it, it was such a free feeling. By the end I was flying! I even did my daughters and son's and B did his. We have bags of clothes to donate. I basically did every room...including toys, gadgets, etc. Fourthly (is that a word?), I got a job...whoa! It has been a long time. I knew this would be good for me. I have become socially inept over the last few years. My social calendar and conversation skills are kid oriented. It worked out so well. Because this is B's last semester he only has two classes, twice a week. So now I work about 20 hours while he is home with the kids. I am a receptionist at a fancy hair salon. It's so strange to be working, and even more strange to be around adults. I am still adjusting. I have so much more confidence then I did when I was in my twenties...but I have been feeling homely. Everyone is so hip and exciting and I come in, in my fanciest mom clothes :D I didn't know if I should be offended when at least 3 stylist asked if I wanted my hair done ;D... So now I am trying to figure out my personal style again (which is so fun) and I am getting my hair done this Wednesday. It will be drastically different...I figure go big or go home. I will post a picture. I am beginning to remember who I am. I am beginning to feel excited about new adventures and learning to flick the guilt I sometimes feel when I am gone for the few hours a day- that is easy to do when I come through the door and see the kids playing on the living room floor with their dad, laughing and jumping up and down as they tell me the fun stuff dad did. I find myself jumping out of the car bounding up the driveway when I get home...excited to embrace my family running to greet me (if they aren't busy playing)!!!oh...and did I mention my husband has dinner ready for all of us...lucky gal here! These changes are good. I am even more present each day as I sit and read stories, play with baby dolls or assist in putting together puzzles...and I think of better subjects when we play 20 questions in the evening before bedtime, (CJ's favorite game)...I think I even give better kisses and hugs to my husband ;) If it was even possible, I feel more blessed today then I did yesterday. and maybe, just maybe the hole that was left when my father passed, will get smaller. Now I gotta go...clean up the coffee that was spilt, the crushed cheerios on the floor, and think of something to entertain my children...oh yeah, and brush my teeth and get dressed :) Life is good!

all I want for Christmas

Along with the excitement and joys of the holidays, a lump of sadness has firmly placed itself in my heart. Today, when the house was silent and I sat alone, that lump moved up into my throat and I began to cry. I cannot hear a Christmas song without hearing his voice singing loudly, in his own special way. I cannot shop, without passing by the gadget sections and thinking of him. Who will open their presents with the enthusiasm that he did. He would always say, "man, I love my family." Who will eat the tins of cookies? Who will tell the Christmas story like he did, on Christmas Eve? With all the lights out he would pass us each a candle and tell how Jesus was the light of the earth and slowly light all our candles till the room was aglow. Who will tease me about the funny gifts I give? Who will even notice? Who will help the kids get their toys working and gladly watch them when they say, "look grandpa, look!" Today I made one Christmas see my father for just five minutes. To hear his voice and put my hand in his. That's all I want for Christmas.

yummy goodness

This girl loves her green smoothies!

Sincerly, Pollywog

Dear Birdies, How are you? I think about you a lot, especially with it being so cold outside. I hope that you are enjoying all the yummy seeds I put out for you each day. I try and put them in all of the flower pots so that you can rest there while you eat. I also like to throw the seed, ever so carefully, on the ground and deck, because I like you so much. I get so excited when all of you fly around waiting for me to finish putting the seed out. My bubbie made you a nice feeder with scraps of wood, I hope you like it- I sure do! Aside from feeding you, my favorite thing to do is look out the window and watch you eat. I am getting good at making birdy sounds. That's all for now. Stay warm. Sincerely, Pollywog

simple traditions

"It is better to give, then to receive" Each year, I am still surprised with how this time of year becomes more, and more complicated- and even more about, "buy buy buy". Thankfully my husband and I don't come from upbringings of excess and consumerism, so it is easy to continue the time honored traditions of making heartfelt gifts and continuing simple traditions. It's not always easy to maintain this frame of mind. One is easily bombarded when entering the stores during Christmas time. Suddenly, one can feel that they "need more"... and with a teenager(s) in the house and two birthday's a week before Christmas, well, one can forget that gifts of love can come in many forms, not only via Ipods and cell phones :) Sometimes it seems that the days of small Christmas trees with home-made decorations warm kitchens and happy bakers singing Christmas carols- and counters full of fresh baked goodies and decorated cookies ...are long gone. So it is with much thoughtfulness that we remind our children and ourselves that the holidays are a time to reflect on how blessed we are, to share traditions and make new ones that bind us together, to share stories and laughter around the table while making home-made decorations a time to acknowledge one another and offer gifts of our time and consideration-not an amount of money spent on one another, a recognition of our faith...deep and grounding, and... a time to give.