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Pearl’s letter and a lots of thanks

Pearl summed up things quite nicely in this letter that she dictated to me for her school friends:

Dear Friends,

I have been having fun except for when Lusa bit a porcupine on a ranch in Colorado.  We had to take Lusa to a vet to get the quills out.  We saw a hot air balloon.  We fed alpacas.  We saw an ice castle that was big.  We stayed in a motel last night in Texas.  A motel is a place where you open the door to the outside.

In the van, I sit in the back with my mom and my sister.  Lusa sits in the front seat next to Papa.  The van is full of bags.  The bags have clothes, sewing things, art kits, sleeping bags, stuffed animals, blankets, dolls, food, and tea.  We make presents, listen to stories, take naps, draw, and eat in the van.

My favorite part of the trip so far has been in the van because I am a traveler.  I miss my bunny and all of you.  Little Rose [Pearl’s doll] is enjoying the trip.

Love, Pearl

The only thing that I need to add is that I no longer need to regret that we did not have room for skis or snow gear, as there was hardly any snow in Colorado.  I guess Mother Nature didn’t want me to feel like I was missing out.  Now that we have passed, winter storms are being forecasted.

Acknowledgements thus far:

Many people have helped us along on our journey and a little thanks is in order.   Thanks to April, Jeff, Greysen, and Olive for being the best friends we could ever possibly wish for.  We also thank you for feeding us, helping with the girls and whatever else we seem to need, always being ready to hang out, and for taking such great care of our animals in our absence.  I want to give a special thanks to April for helping me laugh about all of life’s lessons and for always being there to support me.  And thanks to the April and Iris team for helping me get my Pleather on, even when I didn’t know I needed it.  Thanks to Sagit, Alex, and Elinor for giving us some fantastic accommodations while we packed up our house.  We know who to move in with, if ever we need to.  Thanks, Oso, for altering a harness for our little Juniper.  Thanks to Jess, Noah, and Isla Bandstra for the awesome activity bag.  We especially love the bird stickers and bird origami paper.  Thanks to all of our Bellingham friends for making such an incredible and supportive community to live in and for helping us feel so welcome and appreciated.

Thanks to the McDermotts- Barry, Susi, Leina, Marty, and Mira for adopting us as family so many years ago.  The binoculars Barry gave us have already helped us immensely. Today I got to see wood ducks so clearly!  The pocket Chapmans will be indispensable.  Barry, you always know how to give us the gifts we most need.  And you all share your Kirkland home with us so graciously.

Thanks Tammy and Dale for putting us up in Boise and making that awesome stew.  Juniper is still asking to see Tammy.

Thanks Grace, Brian, and Penny the cat for the sweet sleep and walk in Palisade, CO.  Pearl has been trying to sleep in forts ever since.  Pearl also reminds me daily that she promised Grace that we will stop back by on our return trip.

Thanks Sarah for such swell accommodations in the intern house on the Carpenter Ranch outside of Steamboat Springs, CO.  Lusa has fully recovered from her porcupine experience and it was so good to reconnect with you and Kristen.  The pickles are grand!

And thanks to Denise, Ken, Chase, and Casen here in New Braunfels, TX.  We are so comfortable and we saw some amazing birds today at Landa Park- LOTS of wood ducks, grackles, geese, an egret, and other birds that I have to figure out.  Oh yes, and we saw a nutria- funny, large, swimming rodents from South American that cause havoc in wetlands.  Pearl and Juniper are ever so happy to be with their cousins.

And many thanks to all of you who read this blog.  We feel your support and good wishes!

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And We’re Off

My fingers were shaking and my heart was racing as I turned the key to lock my clean, empty home.  Everything was out.  Our beds, artwork, and vast array of books were tucked into the outbuilding we recently constructed.  The canoe was nestled into our walled off, half of the garage with our bikes, gardening tools, and dishes.  While my home was empty of its stuff, my mind reeled with memories as I mopped the floors.  Babies born, friendships forged, songs sung, meals shared, books read, games played, projects created, gardens grown are all part of the richness that Joey and I created together within these walls and on this little plot of land.

And ever so quickly, under the cover of night, we were gone.  The car was loaded down and a bit squirrely under the weight of 700 feet of line, an anchor, chain, books, games, art materials, and clothes.  If you do anything with boats and you find yourself in Bellingham, WA, you must make your way to Pacific Marine Exchange (www.pacificmarine.com), a store of previously owned marine equipment and supplies.  We saved an incredible amount of money there.  Now we just have to share the car with our bounty.

We are spending the day with family like friends in Kirkland, recovering from three days of a mad dash to get out of the house.  We are resting and getting ready for the long drive to more family and friends and finally the boat in Charleston, SC.  While we all feel some sadness in leaving our chosen clan, incredible friends, inspiring community, and lovely life in Bellingham, the joys of travel are upon us.

And we have a Bristol…almost

It looks as though we have a boat, although nothing feels absolute until the paperwork is in hand.  We negotiated a realistic price for us dependent on an engine survey, which luckily checked out just fine.  The check goes in the mail tomorrow.  The name will have to be changed. Lazy Faire just won’t do. 

We also have a great family renting our house, a huge relief.  We push-off from Bellingham at the end of January.  Currently, our path will take us through Colorado, down to San Antonio, and then to the Carolinas.  We never have been good at traveling in a straight line.  Hopefully, we will set sail out of Charleston harbor come early March.  Fingers crossed for fair winds.

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!

some of my favorite things

Gratitude

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.