Category Archives: holidays

Love and Laughter

From one journey to the next, there is always beauty and learning.  Right as our lives had become unexpectedly absorbed with boat logistics, we set out for Breitenbush, a retreat to hot springs and mindfulness for body, mind, and soul.   At a moment when we most needed to unite as a family, we had luckily organized a visit to a place where it is impossible to feel anything but love for one another.  It was everything we needed- rest, time to simply BE together, nourishing meals prepared for us, warmth in fresh air, and a practice run for our upcoming road trip across America.

And then it was back to the frantic pace of the modern American Christmas.  “How can this be?” I wondered.  I try to keep it simple.  Yet, somehow, I also want everything to be just right.

Grandma arrived the day after we returned, Winter Solstice.  I spent the morning making everything ready for an evening celebration to pay tribute to the longest night of the year.  We brought in our four year old live Christmas tree, small and majestic.  We decorated her and enjoyed the best of holiday carols.

The next morning we took Joey to the train and settled into our new rhythm.  As I hurried to play Santa and finish my gifts,  the last of the packages arrived, and the girls eagerly found the anticipated candy tucked into the tissue paper by Uncle Ron.

Finally, at 1am on Christmas Eve, I threw in the towel and accepted that  I would not completely finish the art totes for the girls.  I had to find solace in simply enjoying their covers, the Crow and the Owl.

Once Christmas morning came, my whole body could finally relax and go with the flow.  It was incredibly fulfilling to see that my girls found their greatest joy in marbles, books, and modeling wax.  And then they spent the rest of the day wrapping and sharing presents with each other.  Their whole beings were immersed in the pleasure of giving with love.  Our hearts were overflowing.

And at the end of the day, we were most thankful for cooking together, sharing meals in mindfulness, being silly with laughter, and walking in the great outdoors with Grandma (and April, Jeff, Greysen, and Olive).

And now we prepare for the new beginning.

We are hoping that love and laughter are blessing all of your days!


Switching Gears

We’ve been searching for owls A LOT lately. Juniper is obsessed and owl hunts help motivate Pearl out the door.  Last Sunday though, the sun was bright and I was eager to show Pearl the “winter guests” I had recently seen at Derby Pond.  I prepared us for a proper birding adventure, complete with binoculars and bird book.  As we reached the access road at Whatcom Falls Park, a woman told us an owl was perched up in a tree ahead.  We eagerly scanned the forest as we walked to the pond.  We were two-thirds of the way down the road when I felt as though I should look behind us.  And there I saw its silhouette sitting on a branch we had just passed.  We stayed with it for a long time. It just sat- watching, turning its head back and forth, and enjoying its little patch of sunshine.  Its eyes were blacker than black, a deep endless sort of black.  There we were ready for ducks, when we were blessed with a Barred Owl.  And wouldn’t you know, there were no winter visitors on Derby Pond that day.  We did not feel slighted in the least.

As much as we humans try to mold our experiences, other forces remind us that we have little control in how it all plays out.  Didn’t I just write that I have taken a break from preparing for our sailing adventure, happy to relax with my kids for the holiday season?  Oh well, guess I’m not meant to take a break because I think we may have found a boat deal that we need to jump on, literally, as I fly out next week to Charleston, to sneak a peek.  She’s a 27′ Albin Vega- small, not pretty, but a sea-worthy, dependable design.  I long ago realized that we could have a pretty boat or we could go cruising.  Our financial status in life does not yet support both endeavors.  I’ll gladly take fun times over aesthetics any day though.  As for this old boat, a retired ship’s engineer prepared her to go cruising with his wife to the Bahamas.  They made it from Canada to Beaufort, SC where she became ill, and they decided to abandon the adventure.  This tale reminds me why we are doing this now.  I have seen so many people wait until retirement to have fun, only to have sickness or death strike.  Of course I realize that bad times can strike at any age, I just want to at least try for something great while the odds are stacked in my favor.  So, the boat is for sale, cheaply, as is, and loaded with the essentials for cruising in the Bahamas.  And cruising in the Bahamas just so happens to be what we want to do presently.  Joey misses the girls and they miss him.  Lucky me, I get a plane ride all to myself and seventy degrees for two days.  I guess I’m now taking a break from Christmas.

Counting Blessings

You may have noticed that I have not posted anything about our sailing journey preparations.  That is because I haven’t been.   Preparing, that is.  I decided not to burden myself with trying to pack up my house while enjoying the process of the holiday season.  Christmas is such a magical time for children and I want my kids to feel joy during this season, not transition.  I was so eager to jump into Christmas mode that I actually got dates confused and started our advent calendar a day early.  I guess that worked out in our favor though.  Both girls got a go at number one.  Luckily, our advent calendar is homemade and can accommodate such minor mix ups.  I made the calendar last year with our sailing trip in mind, in case we needed to depart before Santa’s arrival.  It is easily packable.  It just rolls up neatly.  It is quite possibly my most favorite item that I have conceptualized and crafted myself.  Maybe it is the rainbow thread or the trunk made of velvet acquired on our honeymoon, or perhaps it is the jingle bells.  Most likely, my love for it stems from the satisfaction that it is finished and it serves its purpose beautifully.  I have it hanging in the kitchen, so I can gaze at it often.  What sweet delight handmade items bring.  Each night before bed, I write a note about whatever special thing we will be doing the next day to feel warm and fuzzy about Christmas.  I fold it up and tuck it in between the yellow and red felt.  Yesterday was hugs.  Today was kisses.  Tonight as we spoke of our favorite things of the day, the kisses were at the top of Pearl’s list.  What a blessing to feel so much love.

Juncos Sing Together

Juncos have been the highlight of our walks these past few days.  All the way down our street there have been lots of them- flitting about in the trees, hanging out on power lines, pecking at the ground, and singing with their friends.  Juncos are slightly larger than a chickadee with black caps and black eyes.  They forage on the ground and along tree branches for seeds and insects.  In the winter, they congregate in large flocks.  I have long since admired Juncos for they are so darn cute.  But this week, I really got to know them.  Juniper and I (and once our friend, Finley) spent time watching them.  I would try counting them and realized that where I thought I saw five or six, there were actually nine or ten.  It was akin to noticing one mushroom on the forest floor and then looking around and seeing that mushrooms actually covered the forest floor.  I’ve been trying for awhile to figure out the Junco’s call, and finally I was serenaded with it.  Their rapid trill and flat “chip, chip” are forever etched in my memory.  In winter’s dark days, these little birds happily get together, feast, and sing.  So simple. So merry.

Cheers to Slow Food

Last night I went to mix up my pumpkin pie and realized I never baked the pumpkin.  Oops, minor detail.  Pearl had mentioned a desire for cherry pie, so I decided I could change the menu, go to bed, and deal with pies later.  So, today I got busy on my pie and found that my crust just did not want to stay together under pressure of a rolling pin.  That is fine and well for the bottom crust which can be mushed together and then covered up, but what about the cherry pie top crust.  I took a deep breath and decided to take my time and play around a little bit.  What is the point, if not to enjoy oneself.  June woke from her nap eager to participate.  I found random objects in my kitchen drawer ready to be used for cutting small circles.  And then it came to me,  I realized I could make it pretty and exciting for June, who loves owls.  Here’s the pie before and after the oven…



The cherry owl pie was a hit and the inspiration for photos within photos (thanks Oso and Teresa).  It tasted alright too!   Hoping everyone had many reasons to feel thankful on this pleasant day.


The day is grey and I am struck with the reality that Joey leaves tomorrow for work and I have not completed my to-do-while-Joey-is-home list.  I’m forcing myself to ignore the bins of fabric that I meant to go through and I’m finding ways to laugh off the discouragement I feel about publishing a book.  Going through my emails I am reminded that this week is about remembering to give thanks.  My mind races back in time to a night I was sitting in a bar with Joey when our relationship was newly forming.  I recall sharing with him my belief that the secret to a good life is to be always thankful.  Gratitude, I realize, is what I desire to be the foundation of our life together as a family. 

I then stumbled upon a link to the making of a gratitude tree (from the blog This Cosy Life).  Walking outside with Juniper to gather branches for our tree, I looked around and inhaled the majestic beauty of this grey day- the towering trees, crazy wind, and swirling clouds.  I felt blessed to have this awesome child in my life with her sweet hugs and happy disposition.  I realized I am thankful that I finally got my garden put to bed for the winter, better late than never.  As I prepared dinner, Pearl cut out leaves from previously painted paper.  I was struck by her developing abilities- to cut, to diligently finish a task.  After dinner, we wrote from hearts to leaves and put together our gratitude tree.  I was thankful we could celebrate while Joey was still with us.  Trip preparations and publishing books no longer mattered.  They will happen when they need to.  What matters is that we are present with one another, feeling thankful.

Rainy Day Sewing

We are staying inside today, at least for this moment anyway.  Blue skies and an aching need for the outdoors have officially transformed into blankets, nettle tea, and UNO by the glowing warmth of the woodstove while swirling grey clouds and raindrops are happily observed from indoors.  My sewing machine has become uncovered after its sunny days of slumber.  Pearl wants to be a frog for Halloween.  Which stage of the frog she suddenly cannot decide- egg, tadpole, immature frog with tail, or mature adult?  I encourage her to choose the adult frog on a lily pad because I have invested much thought in making it this way.  I delight in knowing that this costume will be free of charge.

I’m finally finding a use for my piles of fabric and wool.  I’ve been amassing a ridiculous amount of materials in my reluctance to see anything wasted.  Clothes that I have loved and worn to holes are saved along with the pile of zippers that I acquired from my Grandmother back in college.   I managed to use the zippers recently in Juniper’s birthday gift, a baby backpack sewn from a pair of old favorite pants and her receiving blanket.  There is richness in recycling these fabrics and creating new treasures with old memories.