Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Meditation: Peace

We can never obtain peace in the world if we neglect the inner world and don't make peace with ourselves. World peace must develop out of inner peace.
~ The Dalai Lama
I read this anecdote from someone who had attended a symposium where the Dalai Lama was speaking.  At one point someone from the audience asked the Dalai Lama "Why didn't you fight back against the Chinese?" The Dalai Lama looked down, swung his feet just a bit, then looked back up at us and said with a gentle smile, "Of course the mind can rationalize fighting back... but the heart, the heart would never understand. Then you would be divided in yourself, the heart and the mind, and the war would be inside you."

Like so many things, if you want to make a difference in the world, it helps to start small, with yourself and with your family.  I am sometimes frustrated that there is so much war and suffering in the world and I feel helpless to do anything about it.  I appreciate being reminded that I can focus on bringing peace into my own heart, being kinder and more patient in my actions, and promoting gentleness and awareness in my family.  Sometimes it is in the form of eating less meat, sometimes in helping my daughter find ways to express herself without having a tantrum, or doing yoga (yes, yes, yes!!!).  We are trying to embrace ahimsa (non-violence) in our family, and maybe those small and simple things we do will somehow radiate out into the world and contribute to a more peaceful atmosphere.

Namaste, my friends!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

New design

Hey mamas!

As you can see, we're updating the look of wabisabimama.com. Bear with us as you'll see some changes over the next few days.

Thanks for reading!

Really McCormick?

No one in your research and development department has thought of putting the label on the TOP of the jar?

Friday, June 25, 2010

Thank you Uncle Sam

It's always fun to get a tax return and figure out how to spend it. Well, not all of it--we'll be opening a 529 account for Olive and made a huge payment on our truck--but we also kept a little for some projects around the house.

Like these ledge shelves in my dining room (contents are still a work in progress):

And storage racks for the garage! Nothing makes me happier than organized storage.

What'd you do with your money?

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

3 Things: People I Want to Meet and Who I Think Are Really, Really Cool...

Food and activism seems to be a common thread here.  Five years ago I'm sure my choices would've been different (undoubtedly they'd be actors or artists or musicians), but today, these are the three people I'd like to hang out with for a bit.  Definitely have dinner with.

1. Michael Pollan: author and food activist who is trying to change the way America eats.  After reading (devouring, really) The Omivore's Dilemma didn't you want to give a copy to everyone you knew?  Didn't you love seeing and  hearing him in Food, Inc.

2. Alice Waters: extraordinary chef, founder and owner of Chez Panisse restaurant, creator of the Edible Schoolyard and vice president of Slow Food International... I wonder how I can get invite over to her place for dinner?  I'm convinced it would be the culinary pinnacle of my life.  And though I plan to homeschool, I SO appreciate her drive to help students learn about REAL food and help schools improve their lunch offerings, along with their entire curriculum.

3. Wendell Berry: farmer, professor, author, poet, essayest... I imagine he would be the most wonderful and wise grandfather figure.  He might be the only one I'd feel comfortable inviting into my home for dinner, because I'm quite sure he wouldn't complain and would appreciate my meager but sincere offerings. 

How about you?  Who's on your wish list?

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Meditation: Humility

There is no true and constant gentleness without humility. While we are so fond of ourselves, we are easily offended with others. Let us be persuaded that nothing is due to us, and then nothing will disturb us. Let us often think of our own infirmities, and we will become indulgent towards those of others.
~Francois Fenelon

Humility is a hard habit to cultivate.  And it can be difficult to avoid the pitfall of self-deprecation when striving for humility.  But I like the idea that we should avoid feelings of entitlement or thinking "I deserve such and such." I find I can have more patience with my daughter when I try to put myself in her shoes and understand things from her perspective instead of focusing on my own needs and desires.  I think humility probably comes from truly internalizing those two most important commandments: to love God more than anything and then to love your neighbor as yourself.  Perhaps true humility is really about equality - we give other people the same consideration we give to ourselves.  And this, hopefully, leads to peace in our hearts, peace in our homes, and peace in the world.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Happy Father's Day!

It definitely makes it easier to be a good mama when you have a good papa by your side. Thanks to our wonderful hubbies for being amazing fathers to our girls.

Happy Father's Day!

Mr. Q and Mayumi

PapaM and Olive

PapaD and Lucy

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Trialogue: For the Love of Dad

The dynamic duo: wabisabi mom and wabisabi dad

Q: Given the subject matter of our blog, it is understandable (though perhaps not quite forgivable?) that we spend the majority of our time focusing on motherhood and all its glories.

M: However, with Father's Day just around the corner (tomorrow, ladies--don't forget!), we would be remiss if we didn't honor our wabisabi dad.

Q: There is no doubt that dads are important in the life of a child. They leave an impression.

D: Grandpas too! The lives of our little ones are so much fuller with these men.

Wabisabi Grandpa with granddaughter #2

Q: Dads are lucky because they often get to be the "fun one." Growing up in our house, Mom was the one home all day holding down the fort, doing the majority of the disciplining, and Dad got to come home and be the novelty. But the truth is, he was also just a fun guy. He loves to laugh and play and joke around. Many Monday family nights turned into Razzle Frazzle - Dad's own invention where he crawled around on all fours and tried to fend off tickle attacks from all us kids. It was always a hit.

M: I believe he learned that game at "Daddy School," the answer he always gave when we kids asked, "How'd you know how to do that?" I think that's where he learned all of his jokes, too. Like the one when I would ask for a tissue and he would respond, "Tissue? Why I hardly know you!" It actually took me years to figure out what he meant by that.

Dad, a lover of meat, sharing a meal with wabisabi brother (also shamefully neglected on this blog, but we love him, too!)

D: Our dad was also the "soft" one. When I wanted something like money for a movie ticket or permission to go to some sort of activity, I could always count on my dad's answer, "Sure! I don't see why not..." He was also good for cuddles - I remember one time being at church and being so tired that my dad held me in his lap with my head resting on his shoulder while I fell into a deep sleep and drooled all over him. And he didn't even complain about the huge, wet mark on his suit.

A new young father (with MamaQ).  Check out the hi-fi and tape deck!

Q: Some of my fondest memories of Dad are centered around his passion for family history work. We would take a weekend, just he and I, to go on a genealogical expedition. When I was a junior in high school we went hiking up in New Hampshire, visited Dartmouth College campus and then spent a few hours at the town hall searching through records trying to track down some information on one of our ancestors. Another time we were hoofing it through a cemetery up in Maine looking for the tombstone of Gershom Mann, another ancestor. Dad is passionate about genealogy, with volumes of pedigree charts that he has researched and compiled, tracing his family lineage back to the Mayflower and beyond!

M: Dad also enjoyed (and still enjoys) hiking, which we did a fair share of growing up. I must have been only in elementary school when I did a 15-mile hike with him and my brother for my brother's Boy Scout merit badge. It was a great introduction to camping and the great outdoors. Hiking has now turned into one of my favorite pastimes, too.

Hiking in the beautiful Rocky Mountains.

D: One thing is for sure - you can always count on Dad!

Q: We were incredibly lucky to have had his love, support and influence in our lives. While we focus a lot on our Japanese heritage, we are just as impacted by and grateful for our New England Yankee spirit that we've inherited from him. We love you, Daddy. Have a wonderful Father's Day!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Growing Up

Mayumi is 2 years and 8 months old. She should still be fitting into her size 2T clothes, right? But her pants were rising up above her ankles and her long-sleeved shirts are all about 3/4 length now. I feel as though she shot up overnight. My little amazon girl needed a little wardrobe rehaul.

I spent the better part of the morning going through her drawers and replacing most of her stuff with size 3T clothes (thankfully we were stocked up from generous grandparents at Christmas and from good friends passing on some gently-worn outfits). As I pulled out the too-small pants that have gotten worn at the knees and the shirts with stains across the chest I couldn't help but get a little teary-eyed. We have so many memories associated with these miniature outfits: the trip to the zoo when she insisted on poking the straw into her chocolate milk box all by herself and sprayed herself with brown ooze. The time she wore her "kiss berry" shirt to Mr. Q's work and melted all his co-workers' hearts. The beautiful shirt and sweater set that she received as a gift from my best friend in Japan.

When Mayumi was a newborn I remember laying next to her and sobbing one night as she slept. I had realized that someday this precious little one would leave me to go to college. I almost couldn't bear it. I still find myself facing these moments when I feel as though time is passing by far too quickly and she won't always be my little girl. I sometimes wish I could freeze these moments forever...

But the other truth is that I keep loving her more as she grows. Just when I think it can't get any better, she does something new and I am fascinated and proud. She keeps getting more fun! And I cling to that truth to combat my fear of losing her.

Her clothes are packed away in a tupperware bin in the basement (oh, there are so many!) in easy reach, just in case I need to take them out to reminisce or (please, God, pretty please) I get a shot at raising another little sweet pea who gets to add more memories and stains to some lovingly-worn clothes.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Meditation: The Star-Spangled Banner

If anyone, then, asks me the meaning of our flag, I say to him - it means just what Concord and Lexington meant; what Bunker Hill meant; which was, in short, the rising up of a valiant young people against an old tyranny to establish the most momentous doctrine that the world had ever known - the right of men to their own selves and to their liberties.
~Henry Ward Beecher
You're a grand ol' flag, you're a high-flying flag and forever in peace may you wave!
You're the emblem of the land I love. The home of the free and the brave.
Every heart beats true 'neath the red, white and blue
where there's never a boast or brag.
But should auld acquaintance be forgot, keep your eye on the grand ol' flag!
~George M. Cohan
I may not always agree with what our country is doing, politically, and I may not approve of some of our cultural practices, but I love this country and I love what the flag symbolizes. As a mama I feel the responsibility to raise my daughter as a patriot, a lover of American history, and an advocate for freedom and justice. Thankfully, she is a lover of music, and patriotic songs are a specialty. Enjoy the serenade, and happy Flag Day!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

3 Things I Wish I Liked More...

Do you ever have those things that you wished you liked because it seemed fashionable or everyone else liked it but you just don't or you could take it or leave it or you haven't even made that step in trying it? I have a few:

1. Tea
I went through a phase where I was buying tea a lot and ordering it at restaurants for dinner or dessert. It seems so classy and sophisticated and so many cool people I knew loved tea and I guess I wanted to emulate that coolness. But I've tried quite a few and no matter what, it leaves me saying, "Meh." I thought I could acquire a taste for it but I can't. Still have some leftover lemon tea in the cupboard that won't ever be consumed. I'm much more of a hot cocoa kind of girl.

2. Jazz
No, not the basketball team in Utah (although I'm kinda "meh" about them too - Go Celtics!) but the music. This again is one of those things that seems so cool to me - going to some restaurant or bar that plays live jazz music or a jazz concert. But I could take it or leave it. Maybe I just haven't been exposed to enough of the good stuff. Maybe I'll appreciate it more as I get older? Or maybe I'll just fake it with all the people that I like who like it.

3. Animal prints
This is one of those things that I see other people wearing and think that looks so fun and sassy but just can't imagine it on myself. Maybe I just need to try. Like an animal print shoe or scarf or purse. This post gives me a little more motivation to try it out.

Maybe you might be wondering why I would lament not liking something. But come on - haven't you ever felt left out of a trend or hobby that just didn't work for you but seemed to work for everyone else - skinny jeans/leggings (which I love now), books (there are probably more people than you know that don't really like to read) or some television show that you just don't get (I miss So You Think You Can Dance so much since we unplugged our television)? I'm sure that there are guys that take up golf just because of the socialization/business opportunity or status aspect of it. Shallow? I don't know - maybe our motivation for liking some things isn't the point but whether it could turn into something that we truly love and gain satisfaction from.

I saw a zebra print the other day -- I think I could rock that.

How about you -- what are your things?

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Mama Lit

You know when you're a mom it can be tough to steal away to read.  If and when the little pumpkin naps, you must weigh your options: check email, update the blog, prepare dinner, prepare your sunday school lesson, complete your work assignment, do some yoga, catch up on episodes of Parks and Recreation, finish knitting that sweater for your niece, or even take a nap yourself.  But reading is a must!  Don't you feel as though you would wither away without this retreat?

There are always several books by my bedside.  Sometimes I feel like getting lost in a novel, sometimes I need some factual magazine instant gratification, and sometimes Shakespeare beckons me.  I recently came across this list on NPR and I'm intrigued: Three Books for a More Honest Mother's Day.  It seems there is a whole new genre of books out there: Mama Lit (this was news to me!). A quick search on Amazon turned up a plethora of Mama Lit choices, from books with titles like What Do you Do All Day? to The Yummy Mummy to Yoga Mamas I see I have some fluffier options to add to my ever-expanding reading list.

I recently finished reading The Ghost Map: The Story of London' Most Terrifying Epidemic and How it Changed Cities, Science and the Modern World by Steven Johnson, Posession by A.S. Byatt and Comfort Me with Apples by Ruth Reichl .  All were delicious getaways and I highly recommend them. 

Currently I'm working through:
The Art of Choosing by Sheena Iyengar
Collected Poems, 1957-1982 by Wendell Berry
Playful Parenting by Lawrence J. Cohen

Phew!  (Can you tell I love making lists?)  I love recommendations, though.  So all you saucy and savvy mamas out there, what are you reading these days?

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Waiting for marshmallows

At church recently, a lesson was given on patience. The lesson was based on a talk given by Dieter Uchtdorf, who used the following anecdote:

In the 1960s, a professor at Stanford University began a modest experiment testing the willpower of four-year-old children. He placed before them a large marshmallow and then told them they could eat it right away or, if they waited for 15 minutes, they could have two marshmallows.
He then left the children alone and watched what happened behind a two-way mirror. Some of the children ate the marshmallow immediately; some could wait only a few minutes before giving in to temptation. Only 30 percent were able to wait.
It was a mildly interesting experiment, and the professor moved on to other areas of research, for, in his own words, “there are only so many things you can do with kids trying not to eat marshmallows.” But as time went on, he kept track of the children and began to notice an interesting correlation: the children who could not wait struggled later in life and had more behavioral problems, while those who waited tended to be more positive and better motivated, have higher grades and incomes, and have healthier relationships.
What started as a simple experiment with children and marshmallows became a landmark study suggesting that the ability to wait—to be patient—was a key character trait that might predict later success in life.
So interesting--self-discipline is a key to success! Do you have the guts to try this with your four-year-old? :)
I did some research on this study and found this video where some motivational speaker discusses the experiment and includes footage from a modern-day reproduction of the experiment. It is hilarious to watch the kids try to resist the marshmallow. 
I wonder what the four-year-old MamaM would have done...

Monday, June 7, 2010

Meditation: Adversity

It is by going down into the abyss that we recover the treasures of life. Where you stumble, there lies your treasure.
~ Joseph Campbell
This idea is along the lines that your weak things will become your strengths, right?  This is my wishful thinking... that all the things I struggle with will become the things that are the most easy for me.  Communicating, being a good friend, managing my time, being patient and thoughtful... I could go on and on! 

But seriously, the refining process really works, doesn't it?  What doesn't kill us only makes us stronger.  I wish it didn't have to be such a struggle all the time, that motherhood was easy.  But then I suppose you'd start to take things for granted.  And you wouldn't realize what a treasure you have.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Oishii: Chocolate-dipped strawberries

Hubby bought a huge pack of strawberries at Costco the other day and I thought, "What better way to eat these than dipped in CHOCOLATE!" It was a good excuse to experiment with making chocolate-covered strawberries, which I've never done before, so I pulled out my Test Kitchen cookbook (great cookbook, by the way). 

To my delight, the recipe was easy: melt 8 ounces of chopped bittersweet chocolate in the microwave for a few minutes (whisking often), dip and refrigerate for half an hour. Repeat if you want white chocolate, only drizzle the chocolate with a spoon instead of dipping. 

They tasted as good as they look. Yum!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Produce and pesticides

As a continuation of MamaQ's post yesterday, I found this list in American Baby magazine about produce with the most and least amounts of pesticide. Maybe it will help you prioritize what types of produce on which you should splurge and go organic, or at least take extra care in washing before eating.

Produce with the highest pesticide levels
1. peaches
2. apples
3. bell peppers
4. celery
5. nectarines
6. strawberries
7. cherries
8. kale
9. lettuce
10. imported grapes
11. carrots
12. peas

Produce with lowest pesticide levels
1. onions
2. avocado
3. corn
4. pineapple
5. mangoes
6. asparagus
7. sweet peas
8. kiwi
9. cabbage
10. eggplant
11. papaya
12. watermelon

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Another Reason to Go Organic!

By now almost everyone I know has made the switch to organic.  You have, right?  (If not, please check out this article from CBS).

Organic produce and foods are so much more expensive than the conventional stuff (which I can't understand how it is still legal to grow food that way when the evidence is mounting and mounting about the damage exposure to pesticides).  But when you weigh the health benefits, it seems like a necessary expense.  As if I needed another reason, some new research has shown that exposure to pesticides is linked to an increase in ADHD in children.  In an excerpt from the article:
The population is typically exposed to pesticides through food, drinking water, and residential use. Major sources of exposure for children and infants is through the diet, as some fruits and vegetables have been shown to have pesticide residue.

The potential harm from pesticide exposure is greater in children because the developing brain is more vulnerable, and doses per body weight are likely to be higher than in adults.
Ahhhh! Okay, let's not get too alarmed.  But seriously, my friends.  Buy local, organically grown produce, join a CSA or better yet, grow your own veggies with your kids. For the sake of our children, right?

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

TV time

Just found out that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no television for kids under age 2, even if it's "educational." That sounds fantastic to me.

It also sounds unrealistic.

When Olive was a newborn, I would frequently watch TV when I nursed her. But after a couple of months, she started getting distracted by what was on the tube, turning her head away from my breast and towards the TV, so I quickly nixed that practice. However, PapaM and I occasionally let Olive watch some evening TV with us: she's seen her fair share of Survivor and Deadliest Catch (PapaM has a slight obsession with that show).

I also throw in a Baby Einstein DVD a few times a week so I can have time to make dinner. The DVDs I have show stimulating visuals of moving objects with Mozart music in the background or teach about different animals. Things I would teach her myself, but I'm just letting the TV do it. Plus, the shows are only 30 minutes long. (Okay, sometimes I play them twice so Olive gets 60 minutes of tube time--but that's only for fancy dinners!) So it's okay, right?

Actually, I don't feel completely okay about it, but don't know how else to get dinner done. I try to do the food prep while Olive's napping, but that isn't always possible. Other times, I'll put Olive in her bouncy chair in the kitchen and turn on some music to keep her entertained, but that doesn't always work either.  I do feel like she is too young (four months old) to be exposed to television, but sometimes I feel like it's my only option.

I try not to beat myself up over stuff like this. I would love to have the time and stamina to play with Olive 24/7, but ultimately I don't think a little TV is going to ruin my daughter. Growing up, my mother limited our TV time to two hours a day (less than the average three hours today's kids watch each day). I thought that was a good balance and think I turned out to be a pretty engaged kid, still able to interact with and explore the non-TV world around me.

If any of you mamas have ideas for how to avoid TV and still get stuff done, please share! I'm sure this will continue to be a challenge as my child grows up.