Sunday, February 24, 2013

weekend highlights

:: brunched with neighbors and admired their babies (5 new babies on our block within a few months of each other!)
:: made more pop tarts! devoured more pop tarts! love homemade pop tarts!
:: cleaning, reorganizing, de-cluttering: an ongoing process!
:: flexed my creative muscle at a dog & pony dc rehearsal/meeting.
:: satisfied my inner voyeur be attending a neighbor's open house and admiring her clever decorating style.
:: received our order of Girl Scout cookies!
:: cared for three sniffly, croupy children and hoping I can avoid getting what they have... fingers crossed.
:: going to bed early... why do I love that so much?

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

President's Day walk

President's Day holiday. Of course there were projects that needed to be done around the house, but we decided to put them off and take advantage of having PapaQ home for an extra day this weekend. Taking a walk through the woods together as a family seemed perfect on this sunny, easy-going day.. Finding such wilderness required driving a few minutes away to the National Arboretum where you'd never know you were in the middle of a major city. Despite seeing signs of spring in our neighborhood, here it seemed as though nature was still slumbering through winter. Surrounded by lovely shades of brown, amber and gold we leapt over muddy patches (as best and one can leap while carrying a baby strapped to you) and poked at thinly iced ponds with sticks. Such a brisk, refreshing outing; I hope that our children's memories of growing up include these lovely little patches of free play in the brilliant outdoors.
And yes, Mayumi chose to wear a bonnet from her dress-up basket. I'm sure the few people we ran across thought we were some kind of Amish or something... charming but a little strange.

Friday, February 15, 2013

{this moment}

A Friday ritual (inspired by Soulemama). 
A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. 
A simple, special, extraordinary moment. 
A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Thursday, February 14, 2013


All my sweet valentines got a little bit of mama love today. Nothing over the top, just those simple gestures that remind every one that it is a special day.
::the red polyester tablecloth that on any other day would be tacky
::pink embroidered napkins
::jammy hearts on hot oatmeal
::pink strawberry peach smoothie (with just a spoonful on Nutella!)
::oohhhing and ahhhing all the handmade love notes (such creative friends!)
::lots of paper hearts, cuddles, and "I love yous"
::making heart-shaped toaster pastries and eating way more than I should have
::roses for everyone!
::staying up for a while after the littles are in bed (wink, wink)

Oh St. Valentine, could you have ever imagined what you have wrought?

with love...

My friend, Christine shared this. I teared up a bit. You can think what you want about Valentine's Day, but Love is good!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

yarn along: more hats

Joining Ginny over at Small Things for the regular Wednesday Yarn Along!
Two of my favorite things are knitting and reading, and the evidence of this often shows up in my photographs. I love seeing what other people are knitting and reading as well. So, what are you knitting or crocheting right now? What are you reading? Ginny Sheller from Small Things

Two weeks ago I mentioned the hat project I'm working on and I've been touched by the response I've gotten from some of you out there. Thank you for offering to contribute! For those of you who don't know, my congregation has committed to making 500 hats for the oncology ward of Children's Hospital here in DC and our deadline is mid-March. They especially need hats for 8-13 year-old boys and girls that are brand new and preferably handmade (because these very sick kids enjoy seeing something made especially for them). Any type of yarn or pattern is okay (there are lots of free hat patterns on Ravelry). I finished the little slouchy hat (the purplish one above) and now I'm casting on for a cute cabled hat from Vogue Knitting Chunky Hats and Scarves.
If you are interested in contributing a handmade hat to the project, please let me know!

I finished Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See and I enjoyed it; it was quite an interesting story about the power of female relationships.  The narrator and her "old same" had such a dear, close friendship that was crushed by pride and misunderstanding - a warning as to how delicate relationships can be. The background of the story was absolutely fascinating to me, too, from the description of Chinese foot binding to the hierarchal structure of Chinese families (and society). Excellent read, I highly recommend it. Now I'm delving into The Idea Factory: Bell Labs and the Great Age of American Innovation by Jon Gertner as some reading for our upcoming play creation with dog and pony dc. I'm also reading Raising Self-Reliant Children in a Self-Indulgent World by H. Stephen Glenn and Jane Nelson which has been encouraging and eye-opening. More on that later...

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

what's my favorite word?

"Sticks and stones will break my bones but names will never hurt" me is not really true is it? Words, like thoughts, are powerful things. Though I'm not very good with them (open mouth, insert foot) I like words. I like reading, writing, singing, talking, praying...

PapaQ likes to use positive words and phrases for his internet passwords. He figures that since he has to type them on a regular basis, he wants them to be uplifting reminders to help him get through his day. You know, because words shape your thoughts and attitudes.

The words you keep in your mind can reflect on the kind of person you are, don't you think? My dad sent me an article in Japan Today about a survey asking people in Japan what their favorite word is. Here are the top 10 results, complete with their English counterparts:

1. ありがとう arigato - thank you 
2. 努力 doryoku - exertion/great effort
3. 愛 ai - love 
4. 思いやり omoiyari - consideration
5. 前向き maemuki - looking forward
6. 一期一会 ichigo ichie - once in a lifetime opportunity 
7. 笑い・笑顔 warai/egao - laugh/smiling face
8. 健康 kenko - health
9. 平和 heiwa - peace 
10. なんとかなる nantoka ni naru - ”We’ll get by some way or other.” 
Isn't that amazing? I'm a big believer in our own power to shape our environment; being proactive as opposed to reactive. On gloomy, overcast days I remind myself that I can make my own sunshine. When the news is depressing (and it always is, isn't it?) I focus on trying to make my one little corner of the world a better place. And my favorite word in the English language? "Mama", preferably spoken by one of my sweet littles.
I'm tempted to apologize for my saccharine-ness, but since when should people be sorry for being positive? Life's too short to complain and hide under a rock, right? 
What's your favorite word?

Sunday, February 10, 2013

happy new year again

Happy Chinese new year!
The Japanese also use the same zodiac as the Chinese, and 2013 is the year of the (back water) snake, which is my sign.
I'm not a big believer in astrology but I do find it amusing (especially when it predicts good things for me). As a young girl I was disappointed to be a snake because of the negative connotations, but in Chinese culture, the snake is considered a good omen, a bringer of good luck. The snake represents inquisitiveness and passion. Not bad for a scaly animal with no legs.

I think we'll do a little exploration of all things Chinese this month. Here are a few resources we'll be looking to:
Montessori-inspired Chinese activities
Discovery Kid Zone Chinese New Year activities
make Chinese lanterns

Chinese zodiac story game
Chinese Zodiac yoga
cook dumplings

make a lap book

make a paper chain snake

make felt fortune cookies

Friday, February 8, 2013

{this moment}

A Friday ritual (inspired by Soulemama). 
A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. 
A simple, special, extraordinary moment. 
A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

four shots

Last Saturday Maya had her five year check-up with the doctor (a few months late, I know, but that's how things roll around here). She needed four immunization/booster shots to be caught up for where she needs to be to start school in the fall. FOUR! (If, indeed, we do enroll her in school because I'm still pretty gung-ho about homeschooling her or doing some sort of hybrid thingy, but how can I compete with a Mandarin immersion program and a really cool playground?)

Anyhow, at the doctor's she needed four shots. She was so scared, of course, but she handled it like a champ. Afterwards she and PapaQ got a treat to celebrate her bravery (hot chocolate!). She came home and proudly showed me her four bandaids on her poor little arm as if they were war wounds. Because they kind of are, right?

Oh my goodness... I simply cannot believe how much she has grown in the past year. It has been staggering. It seems that our chubby little toddler is all-of-a-sudden a big girl, all long-limbed and loose-toothed. And oh, the things she says! Why don't I write them down the second they're out of her mouth so I don't forget? A huge part of me mourns the little girl that she is not anymore. A part of me wants to freeze time so she'll stay like this forever and stop growing up (and eventually away?). But the other part of me adores watching her grow and learn and become even more amazing than the day before.

Oh, my sweet daughter, the days go by so quickly and sometimes at night I watch you sleeping and I wonder if I did enough to today to make you feel loved and treasured. Did I remind you what a miracle your arrival was? Did I hug you enough and breathe in your shampoo/outdoor/sweaty hair smell? Did I memorize the different contours of your face? Did I read to you enough? Did I laugh loud enough at your jokes? Did we play enough games and color enough pictures together? Did I pay enough attention to you even though it seems so much of my focus is on your brothers these days? Did I tell you that I love you? Because I do. So fiercely, my sweet love, my five year-old daughter, my Mayumi bear. So, so much!

Saturday, February 2, 2013

busy-ness and the space between

It's been a few days since I've been able to be in this blogging space and I've missed it. I can hardly believe it is February already (Happy Groundhog Day!). Sometimes during the day or as I drift off to sleep at night I find myself composing posts in my head. Most of them never see the light of day. I don't know why sometimes it can seem so difficult to make the time to write things down. You know how an  entire day can pass and the only thing I've done is breastfeed, change diapers, and make dinner? Busy isn't quite the right word, but speaking of busy...

I recently read a post on my friend's blog about banishing the word "busy" from one's vocabulary. She cites a couple of different eye-opening articles (here and here), which I read and have been thinking about ever since (after all this is my year to be more thoughtful). I was struck by how obnoxious it is to comment to everyone about how busy I am, followed by a listing all the different activities and commitments I have (which aren't even that many, let's be honest. I'm just a poor time manager). Blech. Everyone is busy, just like every one breathes and eats. Everyone always has something that needs to be checked off the list, something that needs tending to, fires that need to be extinguished. So why continuously point it out and compete with each other about it?

Enough of that already.

A few years ago during a koto lesson, my sensei was trying to articulate to me the difference between Japanese and Chinese styles of playing. She pointed out that the Chinese style was very complex and full. By comparison, the Japanese style seemed simpler and... more sparse. She explained that the music wasn't just about the notes, but about the space between. The Japanese call this kongoseki and it is not unlike the artistic principle of negative space. It's that space that brings the note (or the image) into sharper focus, giving it more meaning and value. Like the pause between the inhale and the exhale, it's not rushed or crowded. It is deliberate and confident, strong and supportive. It is the opposite of busy.

Isn't that a refreshing idea? Rather than competing with everyone for the more busy (therefore important?) lifestyle, why not focus on a few things and really take the time to enjoy them? To allow ourselves moments of peace and pleasure in between the responsibilities and tasks, without feeling guilty about it. Yes please... but is it possible? That was one of the reasons for starting this little blog in the first place - to chronicle our attempts at trying to live a Wabi Sabi life - being mindful and present in the space between. Sometimes that means not being able to blog for a few days or weeks or months even... and I suppose that's okay (so forgive us if our posts are somewhat inconsistent).

Just some thoughts. What do you think?