Saturday, March 30, 2013

I've Never Skinned A Bear

When Drew and I first met I came with a big label of false advertising.  "So, you're from Alaska" was his first question of interest.  With that, certainly, came a whole set of assumptions.  She can probably get a campfire going, she can skin a bear,  she's a good shot, she can back up a truck and trailer, she can split fire wood, she's tough, she can help build a cabin, she can live off the grid, she's not afraid to get her hands dirty, she would definitely hold her own on a camping trip (I can hear my parents and brother laughing as they read this)....

....then we went on a camping trip, and within minutes I was outed - as a priss.  A princess even.  I can't get a fire going to save my life, I am afraid of power tools, I have to wear gloves when doing anything remotely dirty to avoid touching something disgusting, I panic and scream when in close proximity to a rodent, I prefer showering daily (with hot water), I'm always cold.  Bottom line, I'm just not that hardy. 

Luckily Drew found my feminine side more alluring than carharts and man hands and we've found a happy division of labor that keeps me away from using power tools and crawling under the house looking for a rotting carcass. 

Then, there's the garden.  He's done all of the heavy lifting out there, moving big rocks, digging holes, laying stone, fertilizing the hedge and building raised beds and fences.  I weed, prune, plant, water (sporadically), and daydream (constantly) about what frilly pink flower I'm going to plant next. 

There's been a shade bed in front of the porch that I've wanted to expand for a couple of years.  I was waiting for Drew to do it, and really hadn't considered giving it a go myself until yesterday when I found myself impulsively hacking back sod and turning earth.  I tipped the wheel barrel over twice with an excessively heavy load of bricks for the border, I screamed every time a huge spider ran out of the pile of bricks I was loading from, I smashed my hand, I was working in the shade - first too cold and then sweaty, my arms were aching from chipping away at the rock hard layer of crushed gravel and oyster shells that stubbornly hovers over good dirt. 

I worked until it was done.  Planted with established bleeding heart, ferns, and Solomon's seal, and now an under story of violets, cyclamen, lily of the valley, and primroses. 

The violets and lily of the valley came from my neighbor Ellie's garden.  She lives in my second favorite house in Edison, originally a catholic church and now a beautiful home with a garden diligently cared for by her for over 30 years.  She bought it in 1978, the year I was born.  This spring she decided that was long enough and is in the process of selling it and downsizing to be closer to grandchildren.

We walked her garden together, the girls listening for fairies and Ellie telling me the stories of the garden she's tended.  With a shovel full of violets and lily of the valley in my hands she said, "those were from my mother's garden and I'm glad they'll be going to yours."  We quietly shared that moment.  A recognition of the shift of time and place that this life cycle leads us through, and the beauty in sharing the things that precede and outlast us.

After a full day of gardening with my favorite two year-old we spent a few evening minutes sharing low sunshine and spring (and an entire package of ritz crackers).

Adirondack chairs are back on the cottage porch,

the plum trees have reached their full glory,

the hose has found a new home in this giant pot,

these fat buds show promise of a banging lilac year,

and a set of walla walla sweet onions planted is a hopeful sign of abundant food to come.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Always Here For Me

Dear Laundry:
Thanks for your reliability.  I can always count on you to be here.  All day.  Every day.  Have I remembered to tell you lately that you look good in wicker?
The Laundry Goddess

Quote of the Day

Genevieve:  Mom, I made a mistake.
Me:  What happend?
Genevieve:  Well, while you were taking a shower I fed my baby (Marguerite) a bunch of chocolate chips and now her tummy hurts.  But it's okay, because I made a beer box bed for her to lay on and some chamomile tea to drink until she starts feeling better.

Monday, March 25, 2013

From Colored Eggs to Happy Hour

I'm nearing the end of a project for work that leaves my brain swirling with words like capacity building assessment, program relevance and integration.  It's good to have my brain squeezed and my eyes squinting at spreadsheets once in a while, and I'm grateful that my working brain to mama brain ratio seems to have leveled out to something manageable.  I'm also grateful that after a full year of blogging I've managed to keep Realized Mama in the mix.  It's not work.  It's not parenting.  It's indulgent and fun.

Speaking of indulgent, I declared happy hour on the upstairs deck in the sunshine.  The girls were playing in their room, a chicken was roasting in the oven for dinner, Drew was cleaning up from work, and me, I had my ass parked in an adirondack chair in the sunshine with a glass of wine in hand and a spectacular island view to enjoy.  Bliss.

The girls are in full on Easter mode, kicked off by a lot of food coloring and vinegar,

and just a dash of sass.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Stepping Out, Stepping Up

G isn't really a joiner.  She holds back.  Watches.  Gauges.  Decides she'd rather stay home with mom and little sister.  Only wants to do things with "the whole family, not just kids I don't know."  It's worried me a bit, but I've just let her be and haven't pushed her out of her comfort zone much.  I hate being out of my comfort zone, why sweat through seeing her out of hers? 

Then came gymnastics.  She really wanted to do it, and per usual, she wanted to do it "with the whole family."  We observed a class.  She loved it.  She refused to go back because of the "mom stays on the bleachers" rule.  I told her when she was ready to go she could let me know and acted as nonchalant as one can when they are worrying that their kid is an anti-social weirdo. 

She came around, and we're on week three of gymnastics lessons.  Me sitting in the bleachers, G busting out handstands and catching my eye and waving from 30 feet away.  It's a new vantage point for both of us. 

We're doing it, and I'm proud. 

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Geared Up

I spent 20 solo minutes downstairs this evening while Drew gave the girls a bath.  Have I mentioned lately how much I appreciate having a bathtub?  The kitchen sink was effective, but offered no break in the cooking dinner, cleaning up from dinner, bath time, bed time whirlwind that concluded every day.  Now, it's just me, a glass of wine (and an undisclosed number for shortbread cookies), and a blip of solitude after dinner and before putting the girls to bed. 

I was rousted out of my solitude induced bliss when I heard Drew say, "Okay girls, get your pajamas on!"  followed by a bunch of clanking, banging and general room ransacking.  Then the promenade down the stairs to get me for bedtime.

Here's the "pajamas" they picked out.

Who doesn't need cowgirls boots, purses and cats tied around their necks for a comfortable sleep?  Hoodlums.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Quote of the Day

Me:  What are you girls up to in there?
Genevieve:  Just cleaning the toilet....
Marguerite:...with markers!

Quote of the Day

Me:  G, you need to think things through.  You know right from wrong and you continue to do things you know are naughty.
Genevieve:  Well, I'm just doing what I want to do.
Me:  I know, and there are consequences for making the wrong choice.  I need you to spend more time thinking about those consequences.
Genevieve:  Mom, why would I spend time thinking about something that I don't like?
Genevieve:  Mom, why are you hiding under a blanket on the floor?

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Quote of the Day

Pancake batter connoisseurs! 

Genevieve:  It's okay that I don't know how to read recipes yet, we'll just make the same things over and over and I'll figure out how to rememberize them.

Skagit Valley Daffodil Fields

The season of me weeding/planting/pruning/scheming, then getting distracted by some child related duty and walking away from my gardening project - and later Drew picking up my trail of tools and buckets and stray gloves left strewn about the yard - has begun. 

In fits and starts the air is feeling warmer and the garden is starting to rub the sleep out of her eyes.  Marguerite and I ventured to our favorite nursery yesterday to score cyclamen ground cover for under the bleeding hearts.  We took the long way home to drive through the electric yellow daffodil fields of the Skagit Valley. 

"Beautiful lellow flowers mama.  So many.  Can I please have some for my own self?"


Wednesday, March 13, 2013


I'm typically ambivalent about my birthday.  Another year older, another year to reflect on, and I carry on as usual.  But today, today was all different.  On a cluster f%&k scale of 0 to 10, this reached a goat roping 8.  By 12:30 I'd done more crying than I do in a normal year, kicked off by an angry Genevieve who wanted to invite her friends home from preschool and then threw a record tantrum when she didn't get her way. 

I was already feeling a little raw from my earlier read of her upcoming kindergarten orientation flier over morning coffee - Fleetwood Mac lyrics cycling through my head:

Well, I've been afraid of changing
'Cause I, I built my life around you
But time makes you bolder
Children get older
I'm getting older too...

I picked up our broken pieces by mid-afternoon and was laughing with my daughters by the time Drew came home from work.  He brought me flowers, cooked my favorite meal of scallops and fresh linguine with pesto, and topped it all off with a reese's peanut butter cup over vanilla ice cream. 

Phone calls, notes, emails and facebook love flowed all day, and on this particular tear filled day, I really needed it.  Thanks, nearest and dearest.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Edison School Carnival

Hoards of kids, dark rooms, bright lights, decorations everywhere, sugar at every turn, bouncy castles and slides, pizza and hip hop, two sisters sticking close, in the fray, loving a glimpse of life at the big kid's school.

Alas, Chairs

Finding the right chair is like finding the right bra.  It has to feel good, it has to look good, and it can't cost a million dollars.  Hard to find. 

On Sunday, four mid-century modern chairs entered my life, bi-catch of a Smith & Vallee purchase of 50 of the vintage beauties. 

I'm in love.  They are perfect, and nothing like what I thought I wanted. 

Light enough for the girls to move around when they need a better view:

Fir that matches our floors and pops against the walls:

Sturdy and easy to clean:

Email if you need your own.

Sunday, March 10, 2013


I can't decide which is my favorite, so I'm blasting you with a series.  Daughters.  Sunshine.  Doorsteps.  Edison.  ♥

More Grace

In the short window of time between the births of my two daughters Genevieve and I used to make our way to Tweets on a Friday morning for a strong americano and some sort of breakfast or treat.  We'd visit with neighbors, make new friends, and bask in the ambiance of David and Charles.  When Marguerite joined the picture I lost my grip on being out and about.  A two year old and a newborn.  On purpose.  WTF was I thinking I thought to myself while attempting to keep one from tipping over the self serve water or running wildly into the street and the other from eating off the floor or crawling into the frantic kitchen.  Quickly our Friday morning forays came to an end.  Friday was re-coined "mom & daughters" day and we just stayed home instead. 

Things unfold.  Footing can be found.  We took a leap and landed at Tweets again, with more grace and better manners than a year or two ago. 

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Quote of the Day

Genevieve:  Mom, let me count the lines on your neck.  Oh wait, never mind, I don't think I can count that high.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Early Spring Garden

Weeding and pruning made it on to the agenda today.  Hurray!  I had a good assembly line going, G pulling weeds, handing them to her sister, Marguerite dropping them in the weed bucket.  Now who doesn't love a little efficiency in this often disorganized and chaotic world?!

Here's a peak at what spring has in store: