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Standing up for Students

Posted by on 25 Apr 2015 | Tagged as: education, Education Professional, Making a Difference, parenting, Uncategorized

This is what I did Saturday morning, rallying for full funding for schools: smaller class sizes, basic cost of living increases to keep pace with inflation, more support overall for the teachers who care for our children.

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Set an example for your children and students. Take part in your democracy. Peaceably assemble and petition your government to make it better.

Our children are our hearts, our future. They depend on us to stand up for them.

[Late edit to include a newslink]

It’s not much, and no one seems to care to really cover this issue, but the AP did release a short story that was picked up by local outlets: Teachers Rally in Olympia. Thanks to Derrick Nunnally for writing about this attempt to help people understand that our nation’s children are important to all of us!

Letter to my home on the importance of children

Posted by on 12 Mar 2015 | Tagged as: celebrations, children, Gardens and Life, good things, parenting, seasons, social justice, Uncategorized

[Draft One, 12 March 2015]

Did you know that before you were here, another structure inhabited the land?

In the first Act of this land’s existence, there was a deep, varied garden, filled with nut trees and timber trees, with berries, with vines and flowers, and with creatures that depended on them all.

Then silence while the land that had been cleared regrew; Life being such that fire and harvesting do not dissuade the green mantle.

The Second Act began as a new millenium approached. For nearly 15 years, a home lived here.

A smaller structure, true, but one filled with hope and happiness. And, yes, its share of sorrow and worry.

But one filled with life, with the details and baggage of living. The cluttered countertops (no surface was safe!). The muddy steps, both in front and behind.

An entrance door with dents, scuffs and scratches from feet, boots, paws and who-knows-what attempting to get in. Or out.

The front looked out over a rapidly establishing garden with fruit trees and roses, bulbs of various lineages, lilacs and lavenders. The rear entrances referenced but did not invite the back yard, wilder and less-tamed than the front garden (but no less beautiful and in my mind more radiant).

I walked the gardens daily, front and back, when I could. When I couldn’t I watched from the windows as birds and beasts visited and moved on.

I relished the sounds of my children playing, talking and even arguing. Young life, finding its way into the maturity of young adulthood. Some times more gracefully than others.

Life ebbed and flowed in the other house, fortunes waxed and waned, time passed.

And one day, it was gone. For reasons still too painful to reflect on for long, and so I will pass over it except to mention that it was hard. So hard…

We had to leave the garden and the back yard. There was no shelter in between, nor even shelter at a distance, for a while.

But life must needs proceed, and so we planned and worked and toiled and waited until one day we could move back to the land.

Back to the land and into a new structure. A larger, more substantial dwelling, in keeping with our larger, more substantial, mature incomes. A home with a front entrance like a warm embrace, and back doors that beckon to those inside to explore the wonders of the wild unknown.

And yet, with one child grown and gone and the other on the verge of escaping the bonds of childhood, the house that finally has enough storage, fewer drafts, better plumbing…

You are emptier and harder to fill than we expected.

And here is the secret that I will share, the hope and the dream that I have for you.

Where once I wrote to my sons about staying grounded — being at one with the home-as-place; now I write to you, my home-that-is-becoming.

For it is not the structure that matters, nor even the particular shape and content of the landscape that surrounds the structure. What matters is that love lives there.

The dream is that one day, some day (not yet, for I am too young in my maturity), eventually, this house will shelter not only two people who love, but those they love. The children of the next generation. The hopes and dreams of their own parents. A dwelling, however rich and grand, does not become a home until that hope of hospitality permeates every nook and cranny, and, messily and happily, invites the clutter and chaos of friendship and family.

This space between the walls and under the roof, this is a holding zone. A moment in a larger world that waits to welcome life. The things inside are props for the play that is ongoing. Act III is about to begin.

And the trillium are in bud once again…

brilliant white bud about to open 12 March 2015

brilliant white bud about to open 12 March 2015

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Teasers…

Posted by on 21 Sep 2013 | Tagged as: children, environment, Family Matters, garden, Gardens and Life, good things, house building, parenting, seasons, Uncategorized

Yesterday, it was raining rather hard by the time we got to the house in the evening. So, no pictures to accompany this post But…

There is progress. The wooden forms that used to hold the concrete in place are removed. Jeff, the concrete man, has scored the concrete (expansion joints to prevent random cracks as the material flexes through temperature changes), and put a sign up: Please do not walk on cement.

The fennel plant is finishing its bloom cycle for the year and the seeds are almost ready to harvest. I use fennel seed to make home-made sausage and other things, and sometimes just to nibble on. So although this can be a highly invasive plant, for me only one plant has survived over about 8 years and has never propagated as far as I know. I didn’t walk in our garden-garden yesterday (I was wearing my school clothes), but the orchard looks amazing. The Asian pear with the soft-ball sized fruit is finally (two years later) sending up a new leader, so I will prune back lower branches this autumn once the leaves are down.

Matthew is now up at Western Washington University, a college junior living in the dorms for the first time. It will be a good learning experience for him. We are hoping he will be able to focus on his studies. Next quarter, hopefully, my income will be enough to help supplement his financial aid. He is (I think) looking for work-study, and hopefully isn’t rejecting the kinds of tasks I did in college because the “don’t pay enough.” I wonder, when did I manage to teach my children that no job (earning absolutely nothing) is preferable to a job with low wages (earning something and building a reference for an even better job)?

Grant is looking forward to starting his college classes on Monday. I hope he has everything ready… I wish in so many ways that I were able to drop him off for his first day, but I know he’ll be fine. He’s a great kid. He needs to apply for jobs, but there is a job fair this coming week at the mall near our home, and perhaps he will find something there.

We’ll see. It is the time of the autumnal equinox, and the weather is definitely autumnal. We should get a nice big rainstorm over the next couple of days, and I will start thinking about apple pie filling and hot mulled cider and other delicacies. The wheel of the year is turning, and the six months since the fire are behind us. A few more months, a couple more seasons, and we should again be home on the land we have cultivated and loved for so long.

Thirteen years…

Posted by on 20 Jun 2013 | Tagged as: environment, Family Matters, garden, Gardens and Life, good things, Green Living, hope, housefire, parenting, social justice, Uncategorized

Almost fourteen years ago now, the house was placed in the yard (September 1999). I planted trees in front and on the sides the following Spring. Flower beds in front the year after that, if I remember correctly. And gradually the yard and the home took shape. A few years into the process, I started recording the changes here, in the A Garden View page under the About tab.

Now, the house is being removed. Where there was a home, there is now only memory.

Memory, and hope. Monday morning, bright and sunny, the house still stood, but not for long.

Just before it all started...

Just before it all started…

And in the middle of the day… the roof gone, the interior exposed, the bulk of our lives in tatters.

the power box remains standing, the view through what was our bedroom wall

the power box remains standing, the view through what was our bedroom wall

And toward the end, the excavator in what was Matthew’s room. The remains of our lives together were piled high in dump trucks.

even the floors were torn out, and the foundations

even the floors were torn out, and the foundations

In a few weeks, with luck, we will have begun the process of rebuilding for real. We will have approval from the county, and from the bank, for a home that has more than enough space. We will have space to gather, to linger, to grow old.

the house elevations, as planned

the house elevations, as planned

I have a garden still, and that will have to do for now. Do the children understand how important it is that we have space for them? Do they understand how hard it has been, to work for so long, only to start again?

They are about to begin their own lives, and in the beginning when everything is incremental and one is responsible only for oneself, it feels much simpler. The idea that beginning now means we will be well past middle age when all this is resolved seems horrible to them.

It’s not easy, but it’s possible. We have lived through difficult times, and even now, thinking about a new thirty year mortgage it’s daunting. But we have made it this far.

The anchor of “home” will give us what we need to go a little farther.

my garden, and my darling Tom -- all that I need to be happy

my garden, and my darling Tom — all that I need to be happy

Today, not in the garden

Posted by on 22 May 2013 | Tagged as: citizenship, Family Matters, Gardens and Life, good things, hope, housefire, loss, Making a Difference, parenting, Peace Making, social justice, Uncategorized

It has been a while again since I posted, but last night I wanted to share something with friends on a social media site and browsed through the pictures I posted here last summer.

How things have changed.

Hope, sadness; light, shadows; growth, decline; laughter, sighs.

I have been waking earlier than my normal the last couple of weeks, though I finally now sleep through most nights. And then I spend the time until I wake up reading the news and email that has been filtered and partially digested overnight. Thus de-motivated, I finally emerge into the day wondering what I am supposed to accomplish, how I am supposed to maneuver myself to get things done.

Today, once I got up I started soaking some doll clothes that were only slightly impacted (these are things that were inside plastic bags and are for dolls that survived!), got a load of laundry in, spent an hour cleaning jewelry with cotton swabs and makeup pads. I just sat down to eat a little something, and read more news…

There was a tornado in Oklahoma a couple days ago. Two that were particularly devastating. One that was in the most dangerous category. I look at the devastation on the television and it’s past my comprehension.

Until, that is, I think about what we are dealing with.

Compassion is the natural result of empathy, I think — understanding what other people are going through, if not the exact situation then being able to extrapolate from what is personally experienced to imagine a similar situation.

And what is similar is people leaving their homes in the morning, thinking they could play with (fill in the blank) when they got home. Then no home. Or, the remains of a home, but not much on first, second or third glance to salvage.

I know what that is like. I know how strange the landscape seems when landmarks are gone. I know what it is like to think there is nothing left and then return the next day and on subsequent days to find little hints of what was, and some of it good enough to keep.

I know what it is like to wake up and not know where you are for a few minutes, the light is wrong, the dog isn’t leaning against the bed, there aren’t any birds…

I know what it is like several weeks later to realize there were things that were supposed to be taken care of already and we haven’t started yet. So you start when you start, and the rest will fall into place as it can.

I know that in the weeks and months to come these families, like our family, will still be wondering what happened to (fill in the blank) and not sure if it was lost in the original upheaval or misplaced later on. And wishing…

I know they, like we are doing, will be wishing that things could just be normal. They don’t want new houses and new furniture and their “dream kitchen” — they want their HOME, and their treasured paintings drawn by loving toddler hands, and that wonderful teapot from the grandmother who is long gone.

And I know that in the midst of all of this, there will be good moments, too. Times that they smile, and times that they laugh. And they will feel strange, that in the middle of grieving and feeling lost, they also are “okay.”

I hope they will understand that it is normal to have alternating times of laughter and tears. It is normal to not always be looking around trying to figure out what to do next because soon — though never soon enough, it seems — things will start making sense again and they can get back to living.

It won’t ever be the same, and the losses will keep piling up for a while. But eventually, and sooner than they expect, it will be okay again. Not the same, but okay.

Parents, hug your children close, or call them to say you love them. Friends stay connected, even if just a phone call or facebook note. In difficult times, what saves us are the relationships.

To help the people in Oklahoma and other places devastated by tragedies and disasters, consider contributing to the Red Cross or Red Crescent.

The lovely green…

Posted by on 16 Mar 2013 | Tagged as: fun, garden, Gardens and Life, good things, holidays, parenting, seasons, Uncategorized

The middle of March, one of my favorite times of the year. Spring is about to begin, according to the sun. Most years, for us, it is several weeks in. Although a few years ago, spring was still months away!

Here are the latest updates from the garden.
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My classroom, and stidkid

Posted by on 18 Feb 2013 | Tagged as: children, Gardens and Life, good things, parenting, school, teaching, Uncategorized

Tom helped me set up anther computer for the room today.

And I finished rearranging the tables. It is looking better, hopefully there are some good improvements in my technique as well.

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The last pic is of Mother and Grant with Tom in the background at the Solo and Ensemble day last weekend. He got a “Superior” rating… Not bad for his first time out!

Past Eleven and STILL Up

Posted by on 18 Feb 2013 | Tagged as: children, critters, garden, Gardens and Life, good things, parenting, seasons, teaching, Uncategorized

Some nights I find it harder to get to sleep than others.

Tonight, apparently is one of them.
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Children and high-tech safety issues

Posted by on 17 Dec 2012 | Tagged as: children, citizenship, education, Family Matters, parenting, teaching, technology in education, Uncategorized

Note to readers: I began this 16 days ago, and then was so busy this month it languished. Hopefully it’s still somewhat relevant.

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Homecoming 2012

Posted by on 27 Oct 2012 | Tagged as: children, Gardens and Life, good things, parenting, Uncategorized

Our Grant and his friends …

toasting their good fortune (with red mountain dew)

action pose, kids conversing

… and heading out the door for homecoming.

Grant and friends ready to go to supper

Being home this year so I can see the action and enjoy the excitement has been wonderful.

I am so proud of Grant’s deportment in social situations like this.

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