01/52 // THE 52 PROJECT REVISITED

January 7, 2015

emetkendamajan715

jaderunjan715

rouxswingjan715

“a portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2015”

emet: his current obsession.
jade: my child wild.
roux: the quiet observer.

A lot more than this portrait series got away from me last year, that’s for sure. While I’m not one to harbor regret, I can say with a great deal of certainty that I simply did not slow down enough to enjoy the little things, and away they slipped. With nearly a full week behind us already, it seemed as if this year was headed in much the same manner, which is precisely why, instead of driving straight home after school this afternoon, we took a small detour to the playground. It’s amazing how special half an hour can feel, even on an ordinary Wednesday afternoon.

A DREAM IS A WISH YOUR HEART MAKES

December 29, 2014

babyjade2008

this photo is old and blurry, but i love it. mostly because it was taken by emet, but also, her eyes. and that runny nose!

I was raised on fairy tales of the Disney variety, never thinking twice that the good people at the House of Mouse weren’t actually the ones responsible for those stories. So, naturally, when I discovered the Brothers Grimm, I was a little miffed that ol’ Walt and his team of animators positively bastardized the complexities of the German folklore.

When Emet was born, one of the sweetest gifts I was given was a complete and unabridged collection of the original Grimm’s Fairy Tales. I suppose the only thing more complete would be an untranslated version, but sprechen sie Deutsch I do not. So, English it was, and oh! The language in those stories is just poetic.

It was a few years later, when I was in training to become a Waldorf teacher, that I learned just how important these particular narratives – and the eloquent language contained therewithin – are to young children. The curriculum of the Early Childhood and the First Grade are based entirely upon classic fairy tales and so it was that I decided my children would not bear witness to the animated movies of my childhood. Also, I’m of the media-free childhood persuasion, so it wasn’t really an issue.

As my children have grown, they have indeed been exposed to their fair share of movies and television shows, albeit far less than the average American child. And yet, purely by coincidence, the Disney movies were left unwatched. A few months ago, we were at a restaurant where each of my big kids were given a coloring page. Emet’s was Sponge Bob, and Jade’s was Belle. And while Mr. Squarepants was instantly recognized by the both of them, neither Emet nor Jade could name the princess or the film from whence she came. I felt a little bit proud and a little bit sad, because truly, I loved those movies. LOVED THEM.

So, when my handsome mister called me into his office a week or so ago to show me a trailer he’d come across of a live-action version of Cinderella due to hit theaters this coming Spring, I rolled my eyes a little because, honestly, how good could it be? Only so good that I cried. Not once, not twice, but three times. Every hair on my body was standing on end, and the flutters in my heart told me I had to share this with my daughter.

I will never forget her eyes as she watched, like saucers they were, filled with stars and fairy dust and all the magic I remember from when I was a little girl. In that moment, I knew exactly what I had to do. Why, read her Ashputtel of course, a tale which she’s heard at least a half dozen times.

When Christmas morning came, there was a small package finished with glittering gold ribbon addressed to the youngest maiden of the house. And when she opened it up, she squealed with delight to find her very own copy of Disney’s Cinderella.

To be honest, I can’t remember the last time I saw that movie. I’m almost positive I was Jade’s age, or thereabouts. But when she and I sat down later Christmas day to watch it together, from the moment the first note of the overture sounded, I was mesmerized. I remembered all the songs, all the funny little things the mice say, all the magic. Sharing this film with my beautiful girl, at an age when she is more than ready to appreciate it purely as entertainment, well, it was perfect.

She and I have a date to the movie theatre this coming March, and we are so excited we can hardly stand it!

THE CROWNING OF THE YEAR

December 21, 2014

bokehtree

This is it, folks. The home stretch. All the candles on the Advent Wreath are illuminated, we’re more than halfway through Hanukkah, and tonight is the longest night of the year which might be the one I look forward to most of all. I love a good Winter Solstice the way I love a good song, a firm tug on the old heartstrings kind of thing. Also, there’s a new moon tonight and I read somewhere on Instagram that this will actually be the longest night in history? I’m not sure about that last bit, but it sure sounded mystical.

This part of the year just gets me, you guys. It’s my spirit season, I think, because I’m always filled with so much gratitude and inspiration, something about looking back and forward all at once, celebrating what has been and what is yet to come. All the caroling and cookie baking and tidings of good cheer, all the decorations and the stories and the movies, this stuff thrills me through and through.

We spent nine straight hours cleaning our house today – it might actually be shining like the top of Chrysler Building, thank you very much Mrs. Hannigan – and tomorrow morning, the Salvation Army will be coming by to collect a dozen bags filled with things that have worn their welcome with us but that might find new purpose elsewhere. I’ve intended to make this a sort of tradition for the past few years, and the fact that I’ve finally managed to pull it all together is extremely gratifying.

With only four sleeps until Christmas morning, the excitement is mounting by the minute. Our halls have had a proper decking and our tree is finally all gussied up in her holiday finest after spending three straight weeks standing in our living room naked as the day we brought her home from the lot. I’ve named her Aster, fitting for the lovely late bloomer she’s turned out to be, and she smells divine.

There are a few projects that need finishing, a few packages that need wrapping, and at least a half dozen movies that need watching before the big day arrives, not to mention countless cookies that need to be baked and eaten. All the makings of a cozy, quiet, homemade holiday with my happy, healthy(-ish, we’ve got some coughs and runny noses), adorable family in our super clean home in the hills of sunny San Diego. All my Christmas wishes granted, and I haven’t even opened a single present!

Wishing you and yours a week filled with joy, from the bottom of my very happy heart.

THANKSGIVING WEEKEND RECAP

November 30, 2014

thanksgiving2014

a feast so nice, I made it twice

I’m in complete denial of the fact that twelve hours from now I’ll be in the middle of first grade main lesson. This break shaped up to be everything I wanted it to be and I just don’t want it to end. I’m already dreading kissing that baby goodbye, the familiar pit in my stomach having returned after taking a few days off, long enough for me to entirely reconsider our present arrangement.

Being at home has been good, real heart warming and such. This family of mine is something else, tantrums and all. Eleven and eight is just about as far apart as three years can get, is what I’ve come to think about the whole situation. That it’s a phase doesn’t make it any more tolerable, however, so patience can be tested and often is. But between the erratic sleeping schedule of our precious nine month old and the seemingly constant bickering of the elder siblings, we all managed to really relax over the Holiday weekend. Even B was able to unplug from work for a few days, something that very rarely happens, which made everything that much more cozy and delightful.

We watched our fair share of seasonal flicks:

Christmas Classics, Volume One
How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966)
Arthur’s Christmas
Elf
A Muppet Christmas Carol
Miracle on 34th Street (1994)

We ate more than our fair share of festive fare:

Mashed Potatoes with Broccoli, White Carrots, and Chives
Roasted Brussels Sprouts
Leek and French Lentil Gravy
Butter Lettuce Salad with Persian Cucumber, Black Olive, Purple Carrot, Pomegranate Seed, and Avocado with a Shallot Champagne Vinaigrette
Stuffffing
Cranberry Sauce
Dinner Rolls
Pumpkin Pie
Maple Bourbon Apple Pie
S’mores Bites

Most of my time since Wednesday has been spent in the kitchen and frankly, I wouldn’t have it any other way. And yes, everything was delicious. Which is why I made almost all of it again from scratch on Saturday, mostly because there was a surplus of cranberry sauce and no leftovers left, but plenty of on-hand ingredients. Including the most important ingredient of all, time.

Oh, spare time. You elusive unicorn. How I have reveled in your luxury.

Also, one of my dearest friends for nearly twenty years came and spent the weekend with us. And to top things off, we got our Christmas tree this afternoon. She doesn’t have a name yet, but she’s a beauty.

I might not have gotten my act together in time to set up our Advent wreath or bake any molasses cookies, but the scent of evergreen is swirling through the air and it’s beginning to look a lot like you know what.

Hallelujah!

THANKSGIVING EVE

November 27, 2014

forsunandrain

a blessing from Jade’s second grade class

It’s just before midnight, which means that by the time I’m finished writing this, my pumpkin pie will be fresh out of the oven and it will officially be Thanksgiving.

Prep Day was every bit as wonderful as I hoped it would be, surprisingly much less chaotic, even. I might actually serve our meal on time! Although, I didn’t take nearly as many photos as I had intended. One of these days I’ll figure that part out. But for now, I’m pleased just to have things so neatly organized. I’m anticipating another fun day in the kitchen pulling everything together, especially the part where my daughter and I set the table.

And then we feast!

As is customary on this occasion, I present unto you my Thankful List.

My family, above all my family. I am so lucky to share my life with my sweet mister, a man so kind and hard-working, who cares for me and my children in such a beautiful way. The three little spirits that chose me to be their mama are my biggest inspiration, and my proudest accomplishment. Being a mother is a fundamental part of my identity, and watching these three grow makes me happier than anything else on Earth.

Our life here in San Diego is beyond my wildest dreams. Our house, our neighborhood, our school, our friends, all of it is just so good. Granted, it’s obscenely expensive and a lot of hustling is required in order for us to stay, but we’ve lived at the same address going on fifteen months and I’m so grateful to get to have this experience.

There are a million different little things like late night sewing, strong coffee, good comedy, the sound of my children laughing, the way B’s neck smells, I simply could not list them all here. But it is these little things that conspire to make my life so darn lovely, and I’m never not aware of what a lucky girl I am.

I have been challenged this year in many ways, but none so agonizing as day my tiny guy was born. Those nine days, and the nine months that followed, taught me about faith and resilience, opening my eyes and my heart to the delicacy in each and every moment. I am a different person than I was before I was put under anesthesia, and it’s hard not to be grateful for something, even something awful, that I believe actually bettered me.

Before I go, I want to let you in on one of my little secrets. The night before Thanksgiving, I put a whole bunch of vegetable scraps (like the ones I gathered while prepping the stuffing, salad, and gravy) into my crock pot along with a handful of fresh herbs and a sprinkling of some spices, cover it all up with water, turn that sucker on low, and let the savory aroma of fresh vegetable stock filter through my house all night long. When we wake up, the air will be positively intoxicating, and I’ll not have cooked a darn thing yet. It’s a great way to get the day started, in my humble opinion, as there is definitely something rather wholesome and fulfilling to a house smelling so delicious.

With that, I’m off. Wishing you and yours a very cozy and very yummy Holiday!