Secular Missionaries Take to the Streets!

We have a new project we wanted to share with you all.  The big girls and I are taking to the streets this summer as Secular Missionaries, and we’re going to be making and distributing care packages for people affected by homelessness.  We’re joined in this by my lovely sister, Renny, her awesome daughter, Rosalind, and my dear friend, Lori.

To raise money for the care packages, which will include things like toothbrushes and socks as well as food, we’re running an Indiegogo campaign.  We’ve never done this before, and we’re not sure how it will go, but we’re trying to just enjoy the process.  And however much or little we raise, we can work with to carry out our mission at that level.  We’re super excited.

The hardest part about the campaign so far was making the video.  We have lots of little kids around, and they were all determined to star in it.  I tried to edit around that, but you can still see it.  And I’m planning on making a bloopers reel some time in the next few weeks, because the footage we didn’t use is pretty funny.

Anyway, if you’d like to get involved or just see more about what we’re doing, check us out!

And I’ll end with a few unrelated but adorable recent photos:

imbrie hall

 

marley

 

eila

 

girls

 

Tuesday News Day, Feb 18th

Tuesday News Day is back on the air!  See this week’s edition here:

 

 

Here are a few photos from the “snowpocalypse” mentioned by Davia:

 

Eila bundle

K and E in the snow

K and S and D in snow

Papa and Eila

Tuesday News Day

A couple years ago, in response to the big girls complaining about the virtual absence of art in their school curriculum, we came up with something we call “Art Wednesday”.  Which is basically just a weekly (ideally) after school art project we do together.  Then this year, we started doing “Mindful Mondays,” time set aside to discuss and practice mindfulness together.  (Why would one do that, you wonder?  Stuff like this and this and this and this, to mention just a few.)  The girls respond really well to this kind of special time.

We’re currently trying to build more routine into the girls’ lives, as part of a greater plan for increasing general family harmony and effectiveness in our home.  One thing we just started is Special Activity Time, which we’ll be doing every weekday after Tea at Three.

Tea at Three

Special Activity Time includes Art Wednesday and Mindful Monday.  And a new addition that the girls are very excited about is Tuesday News Day.  I had originally thought it could be a time for us to see what’s going on in the world.  But then I decided to try letting the girls do their own news and see what they came up with.

Please excuse the sloppy video.  The computer I’m used to making videos on, along with all its lovely video tools, died recently, so I had to do this the hard way.  That’s why, in addition to the poor quality, this video is getting posted on Friday night.  I do realized that might be a confusing time to share a video with “Tuesday” in the title.  Hopefully we’ll get the technical difficulties worked out soon so we can all be clear about what day it is!

So here you have it, ladies and gentlemen.  Our very first Tuesday News Day!

Hope you liked it.  And hope everyone has a very nice weekend.  Because that starts tomorrow.  Don’t think it’s Wednesday when you wake up in the morning!

I’ll leave you with this photo of Eila earlier this week.  Til next time!  xoxox

Coloring can be exhausting!

Happy 9th Birthday, Shaelyn and Davia!

Today is Shaelyn and Davia’s 9th Birthday!!

Most of my older photos of them are not dated, so the pictures below are probably not in perfect chronological order.  Besides the photos, I’ve included excerpts from a journal I kept for the first several years of their lives.

Here you can watch them grow before your very eyes, as I have.  Hope you enjoy it.

“I love twins.  (Mine especially of course)  I’ve been telling people that I want to someday adopt 5 more sets of twins.  I do.  I bet not every set is as wonderful as Shaelyn and Davia though.”

– Kate, January 19, 2004

“What beautiful girls I have!  I swear they get cuter every day.  They’re just gorgeous.  I was looking at them yesterday and thinking about how when you look at them you can tell they’re just always going to be beautiful.  They couldn’t not be.  They’re just perfect.”

– Kate, February 3, 2004

“These girls are totally obsessed with frogs.  They love frogs.  They ask for frogs and babble about frogs any chance they get.  They’ll find a frog in any book that has one, even if it’s only a teeny tiny one down in the corner on some page that doesn’t even mention frogs in the words.  When we sing “Old Mac Donald” and get to the “had a…” part, they always say “froggy!”  I put up some pictures of frogs for them that they love, and I put pictures of frogs in their photo album.  Anything that they see that even remotely resembles a frog (for example, a crocodile or the avocado on Lori’s burrito), they’ll ask “Froggy? Froggy?”  My cute little weirdos.”

– Kate, February 26, 2005

*Cut to 5 years later…

******************

“Hooray!  They finally know that one of them is named Shaelyn!  They’re sitting in their high chairs facing eachother, and I just asked Davia who “this” is, pointing to Shaelyn.  “Sha-sha” she said.  YES!!!  And then Shaelyn patted both of her hands on her chest and said “Sha Sha!”  YES!!!  For the past month or two, they’ve just both been “Da da”.”

– Kate, January 7th, 2005

“Also over there today, they were playing in the planter where, a couple months ago, I told them to be careful of the baby lettuces.  Shaelyn said to Davia “That’s baby salad, Day Day!”

When something happens that upsets Davia, she cries for a little bit, then she says “It’s okay, Davia.”

Another favorite thing of theirs to do is running away.  And they say “Run away! Run away!” as they go.  It’s sort of a pain, because they do it outside.  As soon as we get out there, they’re half way down the block, giggling, “Run away!”

Today we were at Longs to get wipes, and I was pushing the girls in the stroller.  Shaelyn leaned over toward Davia and said “I love my sweet baby girl.”

– Kate, August 22, 2005

“This morning while me and S and D were all snuggled in bed together, just waking up, Shaelyn pinched Davia.  (I forget why.)  Davia said, ‘Are you an earwig, Shaelyn?  You don’t pinch people!'”

– Kate, November 22, 2006

“Lately Shaelyn has been calling people ‘old girl’.  As in, ‘Don’t say that, silly old girl!'”

– Kate, November 25, 2006

“We rode up in Bubba’s car – me, shaelyn, Davia, Renny and Bubba.  On the way back, we stopped at In n Out for fries and milk shakes, and we played games.  The best game we played was “I’m thinking of a thing” where you give clues about what (or who) you’re thinking about.  Renny did the first few (her first two things being Shaelyn and Davia), and I did a couple.  Then we asked the girls if they wanted to try.  Shaelyn went first, saying “I’m thinking of a thing… with sharp teeth… that bites you… (some other clues that I forget)… that says wuff wuff” A dog?  “No… that says meow… with sharp teeth” (more clues that I forget) A cat?  “No… that starts with a… it has sharp teeth… a zebra!!”  Then Davia went:  “I’m thinking of a thing… that’s round… and squishy…” A ball?  A bagel?  “No… that’s yellow… that’s on my nose” A sock? (She was holding a sock next to her nose)  “No…” What is it?  “A booger!'”

– Kate, November 25, 2006

“This morning, we were talking about making pancakes, and Shaelyn said, ‘To make pancakes, we need to get the pancake batteries!'”

-Kate, March 10, 2007

“At night, when I’m putting the girls to bed, before affirmations and after stories, we all say a couple things we’re thankful for.  Davia for some reason always says something like “I’m thankful for the Julia that I eat!”  Or “I’m thankful for eating Shaelyn and Bubba!”  Last night, when I asked Shaelyn what she was thankful for, she said “I’m thankful for you, mama!”  Melt my heart!  Then when she saw how happy that made me, she said about 10 more times.”

-Kate, March 10, 2007

“I love these girls so much.  I’ve been worrying lately about money and stuff, because I’m still not working.  But this morning, before the girls’ nap and after a banana breakfast, they were laying on the living room floor, and I was practicing our signs by signing to them (which they absolutely love)…  And I was looking at them, and I realized how much better they make me feel about everything.  No problem I could have now matters half as much as having these girls matters.  They’re more important to me than everything else in my life combined.  If I lost everything in the world except them, I would still be so much more happy than I ever thought I could be.  As long as (we) are together, any problems I might have now seem totally insignificant.  I can’t even believe how lucky I am to have these girls.”

-Kate, April 3, 2004

Nine years later, I still feel the same way.  (Of course, as our family has grown, that feeling has grown to encompass my wonderful husband and newest baby.)  When I first met Shaelyn and Davia and held them in my arms, they were more beautiful and amazing and perfect than I ever could have hoped for.  And every day, as I watch them grow into the amazing people they are becoming, I am blown away by their spirit, their insights and curiosity, their courage and strength, their beauty and grace, their spunk and their wit, and their huge, glowing hearts.  I couldn’t have dreamed they’d turn out like this.  I can’t wait to see what they have in store for us, and for the world, next.  And I am so very grateful to have them in my life.

Happy Birthday, big girls!  We love you!!

Another Busy Morning, In a Busy Month

Mornings – especially school mornings – are every mother’s favorite time of day.  Ha ha!  See what I did there?  That was a joke.  In that it couldn’t be farther from the truth.  School mornings were sent by the devil to punish mothers for having children, populating the world with little angels.  Devils hate angels.  Is that right?  Something like that.

Anyway, my point is that a school morning is a very painful thing for a mom.  Or at least for many moms.  Lunches have to be made.  Shoes have to be located.  Papers have to be signed.  Jackets, toothbrushes, backpacks, “she took my blah blah blah!”, “I can’t find my blah blah blah!”, “Where did you hide my blah blah blah?!”, etc.  You get the picture.  And mom’s trying to deal with all this while still only half awake.  And have I mentioned that my kids’ school starts at 7:45am?

This morning actually went relatively smoothly, especially considering that I was up part of the night last night with a sick baby.  (Don’t worry, she’s made a full recovery.)  But it was still a morning.  I caught a little of it on video to show you here.  But keep in mind, this was one of the more mild segments of the morning.  And this morning was one of the more mild mornings.  There’s often screaming and tears.  This isn’t that bad…

(If anyone’s wondering, when I said “Quick, before Memory leaves,” I wasn’t threatening them with amnesia or anything.   I was referring to our wonderful neighbor who drives them to school in the mornings, who happens to be named Memory.)
In other news, October is a very busy month for us!  All three girls have birthdays, and our favorite holiday wraps it all up.  Kane’s coming home for a visit, and Grandpa Jim (Kate’s dad) is coming to visit as well.  The following display is on our entryway closet and is maintained mostly by S and D, with a little input from adults:

Busy Month

 

Wait, what?!  Does that say “TWO DAYS LEFT” at the bottom?  Uh oh, I’ve got stuff to do.  (That’s the big girls’ countdown to their birthday.)  Eek!

 

Love to all, and Happy October!

Our Geocache Adventure! (with photojournal)

Ever heard of geocaching?  If not, I’ll summarize by saying it’s a sort of a worldwide treasure hunt.  I use the word “treasure” there loosely.  It’s not a search for gold or jewels or doubloons or anything like that.  It’s more of a treasure of the spirit.  Of community and adventure and problem-solving and fun.  But there is some tangible treasure involved.  Hey, we made out yesterday with a small Papa Smurf figurine.  Try telling Davia that’s not treasure.

Anyway, if you’re the type who enjoys learning about something on the internet with a video, here’s geocaching in a video:

 

 

If you’re the type who needs a verbal description of geocaching, here’s what they say it is on their website:

Geocaching is a real-world, outdoor treasure hunting game using GPS-enabled devices. Participants navigate to a specific set of GPS coordinates and then attempt to find the geocache (container) hidden at that location.

And here’s the rules:

  1. If you take something from the geocache (or “cache”), leave something of equal or greater value.
  2. Write about your find in the cache logbook.
  3. Log your experience at www.geocaching.com.

 

 

But if you’re the type of person who learns best about something from a photo journal documenting the subject matter, you’re in luck!  Because we went geocaching yesterday, and I took pictures.  Enjoy!

The team of explorers included myself, Lori, Shaelyn, Davia, the girls’ neighborhood friend Hope, Eila and Roxie the dog.

Three girls and a dog, on a mission.

Our littlest explorer, Eila.

We used a GPS app specifically for geocaching on Lori’s phone.

The biggest explorers.

Davia came prepared with basket for collecting treasures.

Lori’s phone tells us we’re in the general vicinity of the treasure!

Shaelyn, under a tree at the site.

Every once in awhile Lori would read a clue or someone would announce an idea. Here, an inspired Davia, runs.

Shaelyn searches, suggests the perspective of apples as treasure.

Girls on site, still looking.

Davia and Shaelyn keep hunting, in their own separate ways.

Maybe it’s hidden near this old house!

Lori reads a clue from her phone.

Eila is watching all the action.

We learn that this house is the oldest in our whole county!

Shaelyn’s looking…

Eila quite enjoys geocaching.

Getting warmer!

It’s gotta be around here somewhere!!

The treasure is located! Success!!

So exciting! We did it!

It feels good to find treasure. See Davia rejoice here.

Once you find the treasure capsule, you get to open it.

Each geocache has a log book in it. This was Kate’s favorite part.

Lori enters our discovery in the log book.

Our furriest explorer.

What a fun time we had!

Third Grader Girls!!!

Guess who’s started third grade now!!  It’s Shaelyn and Davia.  They’re amazing.  Only three days into the school year, they’re rocking it.  I’ve already received positive feedback from both of their teachers.  And I’m optimistically looking forward to volunteering in both their classes this year.  They’re both happy with their new teachers.  Things are looking good, school-wise.

This picture was taken as the girls walked home from their first day of third grade.  Aren’t they radiant?  We’re all so proud of them.
Meanwhile, the feel of summer lingers, and playing with neighborhood friends, whether after school hours or on weekends, remains a priority for our growing girls.  Here are a few pictures snapped this afternoon of Shaelyn and Davia with some of their favorite neighbor friends….

Here’s wishing Shaelyn and Davia both a productive, successful and happy third grade year.  May they learn things that inspire them.  May they make new friends and keep the old.  May their intense curiosity and hunger for knowledge continue to characterize them.  May they achieve all their goals and make new ones boldly.  May they discover new things about themselves and love what they find.  May they see themselves and each other with the same awe and appreciation so many of us see them with.  May their enthusiasm, reverence and passion continue to touch and inspire all of us lucky enough to know them.  I know all their friends and family are rooting for them, waiting eagerly to see what’s next to come from these two such special girls.

Shaelyn and Davia!  Best of luck in this new school year.  We all believe in you.  Love you girls.

Things that go Wheee! and Things that go Bang!

Is it all boys who love to blow things up, or just my husband?  I get the sense its a trend among their gender.  But whether the gender difference on explosions is widespread, it’s certainly a great divide in our house.  Those of you who’ve seen his wallet website lately might have noticed that he’s promised $10 of each wallet sale to go toward the purchase of “face melting fireworks”.  (Really?)  Oh, and something about “for the kids.”  Yeah… right.  Anyway, he’s obsessed with getting the most elaborate and impressive set of explosives he can given his budget and state law.  So he’s been keeping on eye on ads in the newspaper and stuff.  Seriously, you should see his eyes light up when he sees a coupon for some giant set of things called “thunder bombs” or “green lightning shooters” or “eagles of flaming death.”  He looks like a kid on Christmas morning.

So he noticed some sale at the Safeway parking lot across the street from our house the other day, and he saw that they had a giant bouncy house style slide thing for kids.  Uh oh, now he knew his in.  See, I’m not generally supportive of things like explosions or spending money, and I tend to be kind of a wet blanket wrapped around Kane’s glowing, sparkly fourth-of-July experience.  Sorry, it’s just not in my nature.  I told him I’ll be hiding in the closet with the baby, probably wearing a helmet, when he’s setting off all these things he’s buying.  BUT if there’s one thing he knows I’ll almost always go for, it’s some quiet time in the house.  (I love having a house full of kids… but I love a break too.  Oh, so much.)  So I’m sure Kane knew he’d found a jackpot in a place that both sold fireworks AND provided a place for rowdy kids to burn off some energy for awhile.  I was sure to go for it.  “Yes!  Take them!”  I said, when he suggested it to me.  I don’t think he even finished his sentence.

Then away they went, and from the pictures they came home with, it looks like they had a great time…

 

 

 

 

 

 

And they came home with an arsenal of rockets and sparklers and shooters and poppers and other things that go bang in the night.

The End

Goodbye, Grade 2!

Shaelyn and Davia are now officially second grade graduates!  Today was their last day.

I snapped a couple pictures of them walking to school yesterday, their last full day of second grade.  (Today was a half day.)

 

That’s Shaelyn on the left and Davia on the right, paused for a photo on their penultimate walk to second grade.  (They just recently learned the word “penultimate.”)

This morning, we took potted flowers with ribbons tied around the pots to their teachers.  Didn’t get a picture of that.

After school, Kane, Eila and I met them with flowers and doughnuts.  (I’m not sure an entire box of doughnuts was necessary, but Kane was in charge of that.  And anything that makes those girls smile, Kane likes to do to the max.)

Last day as second graders!

 

 

with Eila

 

 

I think Eila looks very proud of her now-3rd-grader big sisters.  We all are.  They did amazing all year long, and we just know they’re going to continue to be superstars in school.  Good job, big girls!  We love you.

Tonight, per their request, sushi dinner followed by chocolate chip banana bread.

Dark End of a Tunnel, and Some Light

Kate’s new footwear

You know those days where it seems like life itself is messing with you?  With little jabs and mishaps and annoyances scattered from sun-up to sun-down?  To the point where you start looking for hidden cameras or something, convinced that this can’t all be real.  Yesterday was a day like that for me.  The grand finale, after a full day of life trying to piss me off, was my slipping (for no good reason) while trying to climb onto my bed, falling to the floor and spraining my ankle.  Ugh.

And then you know those weeks or months or years, that are similarly sprinkled with misfortune?  Where it seems like you’ve got the cards stacked against you?  And it all seems, at the risk of sounding a lot like one of our 8-year-olds, “No fair!”  And this is harder to find the humor in than a bad day.  And as time goes on, it gets harder to find a silver lining, a light at the end of the tunnel, or any other metaphor that might make one feel better about things.  I’m an optimistic girl.  But things are rough right now.  Again.

But if there’s anything silver or light going on, in what I guess would be our cloudy tunnel, it is most certainly these three little girls.  Two tall, one small, all gorgeous and brilliant.  With their bright eyes and little voices, radiating innocence and wonder, somehow encompassing Life and also oblivious to it.  Somehow making it all okay.

While her father’s breaking his back to try and get the lawn under control, armed only with a cheap, rusty lawn-mower, facing foot high blades of grass the whole lawn over… And he’s worrying about what the property management wants, what the neighbors might say, how much the lawn mower cost, how much he could afford to put down on some other tool to get the job done… there’s Eila.  In her bouncer, bouncing, and the sun’s bouncing off her cheeks, and she’s giggling so genuinely, and she hasn’t a care in the world.

In the middle of the street, in 80 degree Oregon heat, these twins are being who they are, doing what they do.  Wet from the hose and from sweat, dressed in a bathing suit or in long sleeves and pants (what’s that about?), dancing and playing and kicking up their heels, they’re making me laugh.  Though my jaw hurts from clenching through the stresses of adulthood, and my mind is racing from one worry to another, these girls are making me laugh.

I know as well as anyone that childhood is no picnic.  As this shot was snapped, a drama was unfolding on all sides, with neighborhood kids.  Someone made fun of someone.  Someone made someone mad.  There’s this whole, organic social structure that exists within groups of children that I think grown-ups don’t really understand.  And it’s hard.  But it’s wild.  Wild and free, like childhood is.  It’s a ground-up, roots-close, open-hearted kind of being.  Even when it’s hard.

Shaelyn and Davia are old enough to know that things are hard for the grown-ups too right now.  And that our family’s future is unpredictable.  We try to only tell them what they need to know.  We try to assure them that, whatever happens, they will be safe and taken care of.  Unfortunately, I think they still worry about it some.  But they can only worry so much about grown up stuff.  They’ve got more pertinent things to focus on.  Like building a club “house”…

Like monitoring the wildlife in our yard…

Like honoring the artistic inspiration they derive from time spent in front of the TV…

And like making sure their parents don’t forget to join them now and again for some vegging out…

Those two girls, who every day step closer to adulthood, who are navigating a world that’s difficult both from their own childhood perspective and from the perspective of the parents caring for them, and who are truly unlike anyone I’ve met, somehow provide us with that light and that silver lining we so desperately need.

Meanwhile little Eila is set to the task of navigating this world (and this family) as well.  She’s too young to understand so much of it, but I swear… sometimes she’s able to explain it all to me in one glance of those incredible eyes.  And no matter what’s going on in our adult lives, or her sisters’ preteen lives, she’s busy at work in her own infant life.

Trying to figure out how the flavor of peas found its way into her beloved “ice pop”…

Trying to figure out how to hold up her own bottle to get that last drop of milk…

Trying to figure out her relation to these crazy people in her life…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And so it goes.  Life is a glorious prankster.  And our loud, expensive, messy children are our best medicine.  And as messed up as a lot of it feels right now, I guess all is as it should be.  And looking into three beautiful sets of round, blue eyes, I know it’s going to be okay.  Somehow.

Previous Older Entries