Monday, April 30, 2012

Weekending- Quarterly Meeting

We spent the weekend at Quarterly Meeting. And now I have to explain that, despite the title, Quarterly only happens twice a year. It's a unit of people, not of time. Basically Quakers have their local Monthly Meeting where they worship every week. A regional collection of Monthly Meetings forms a Quarterly. Ours is all of Washington and a bit of Northern Idaho. A collection of Quarterlies forms a Yearly Meeting. Our Yearly is composed of Friends from Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana and the northern part of Wyoming. And our Yearly Meeting belongs to the larger association of Friends General Conference. FGC is a collection of 14 Yearly Meetings and various other groups. Our connection to FGC describes our type of worship (liberal, silent). There are other kinds of Quakers that have different styles but this is ours. It's a little like a chain of command, except of course the Spirit is in charge, not a person.

I guess for some people all this structure might seem...confusing? Superfluous? I love it. I do. I love the idea that a group of people from difference places can gather together and explore this identity that we share. I love watching our kids playing and building friendships and the way that the adults take turns caring for them. I love hearing about the different ways we worship and seeing them come together. Even these odd words that don't quite make sense in a contemporary context. I love this sense that this our culture, this is what keeps us a little out of step with the wider culture and gives us something back, something rich and joyful.

This weekend I volunteered to teach the preschool kids. I know the kids program is a service and a blessing to all the families and since the preschool group would include Unity, I felt pretty comfortable with that. Whew. I tell you, I am exhausted. It was only two days, and I had a co-teacher and several adult volunteers but man, it's all a blur. Whatever preschool teachers get paid, it isn't enough. We had ten kids between the ages of 3 and 5. Which I'm learning is a biiiig range, in terms of interests and personality. It actually went really well but I don't have any pictures.

I was too busy making boats out of plastic trays and floating them in the stream and drying off the kids who ventured in, and reading books and building towers and playing with a parachute and making hats with paper plates and crepe paper and parading around with tamborines singing Jingle Bells and sculpting with shaving creme and and and.....

In the car on the way home I realized in addition to the grass stains on my clothes, I also have a cold. No surprise really. But I do have a deeper admiration for all the preschool teachers out there who do this every single day. And while  I loved spending time with the kids of our community and getting to know them better, next Quarterly Meeting I'm looking forward to having a bit more silent worship.
When I see those preschool teachers though, I'm going to give them such gratitude.

Linking with Weekending.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Jane and Mars

When the kids were each born, a family friend gave them a special teddy bear. The bears came with a bib that had the kid's first and middle name and birth date on it. Because of that we started calling Unity's bear Jane, which is her middle name.

When Brixton came along, I couldn't call his bear Marcel. Brixton's middle name was after my beloved friend who tragically died much too soon. It felt so right to name my son after him and so strange to name a teddy bear that name. So we called his bear Mars, a variation, a nickname that the real Marcel used but felt a little easier.

In our current culture middle names don't play much of a role. When I think about my adult friends, I don't know many of their middle names. They don't show up much, except for official documents or in origin stories.

When we were naming our kids, of course, middle names were a very important discussion. We knew they would have a long and complicated (and hyphenated!) last name. They were both named after songs we love, but the names themselves were unusual. We loved that, but we wanted them to have an escape hatch, in case the long distinctive name became too much.

Jane. What could be sweeter or more simple? One single easy syllable. I love Jane Austen, Chris grew up with a family friend named Jane. We loved the rhythm it gave, the gallop of Unity and then the settling of Jane.

Marcel was a different story. Since Marcel my friend died before my second pregnancy, I always knew his name would be somehow incorporated in our second child's name. I felt strange using Marcel as a first name since it was so connected to the Marcel I had known and loved, but the middle name felt right. It was a honor to my friend and a gift to my child. We didn't find out the sex of our children before they were born, but we knew either way that Marcel would be the middle name. In this culture it's not as basic as Jane, it still has more of a French flair. In France it's an old standard but we don't hear it that way. And of course when I hear it, I think of the wisdom and daring and deep heart of my old friend.

Even if their middle names mostly show up on paperwork and on teddy bears, I am glad my kids get to carry them. I'm glad of the stories we can tell them and the new meanings they will find for themselves.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Sun Sun Sun

                                            When the sun is out, I feel like I can handle anything.

                                    The household chores seem easier somehow.

                                        We can while away the days at the park, and take long walks home.

                                  Growing up in the Mid-West, I never really understood the power
                                  of sunlight. But here, we reach for it, we try and cup it in our hands,
                                  we follow it across the day.
                                  Well, that's what I do. My Northwest born kids sometimes scream and

                                 We linger.

Sunday, April 22, 2012


This weekend we helped Reuben celebrate turning one whole hand.

                                   His birthday was a Western theme, based on a favorite movie.
                                   We haven't seen it yet, but it's supposed to be a good one.
                                  Everyone wore a cowboy hat, even Baird.

                                      The birthday boy had lots of help opening his gifts.

                                          Speaking of helpful.....the kids assisted in the garden this afternoon.
                                     Chris and I planted squash, cukes, spinach, beets (again, after the last planting didn't come up) and carrots (ditto.) Brixton poked at stuff with a trowel and called it weeding.

Unity cuddled with worms.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Tromping through the tulips

Friday Chris took the day off work and we participated in one of our semi-annual acts of farm tourism, the Tulip Festival. (Oh, the insurance company is helping us out with a rental car, in case you were wondering.) Yes, it's muddy and yes, it's not good for the soil to have the same crop planted year after year but is beautiful.

                                   I just can't resist.
                           There is something about tulips, those bright bowls of color, that rejuvinate me.

                            As Unity said, it's like a sunset on the ground.

We also stopped at the Mt. Vernon street fair and checked out all the fun booths. Came home with this chalkboard made from an old cabinet door. Isn't that cool? I think we're going to find it mighty useful in our kitchen.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Special Projects- Spring Break Edition

On Thursday, Unity and Reuben helped Chris take apart an old computer. Chris has been on a big kick lately about women in the sciences, particularly computer science. He read a book called Unlocking the Clubhouse that explains some of the reasons why there are so few women in computer

                               The book mentioned that parents are more likely to encourage their sons to tinker with gadgets than their daughters. Well. That was all he needed.

                         Always the equal oportunist, Chris helped both Unity and Reuben take the whole computer apart and showed them what everything was called and how it worked. The kids especially liked hearing about the motherboard.

Who knows if engineering will be in either of their futures but they had fun knowing they could see the inner workings of a mysterious machine and learn more about it.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

a mid week update

                     It has been quite the week. Monday morning we woke up to find that our car
                    had been stolen, from in front of our house. Chris left it unlocked, so I guess
                    someone just couldn't pass up the opportunity. But it's strange for me to picture
                   my idea of a car thief driving around our old Prius with the car seats bumping
                   Dan Zanes. Even the cop said "Wow, people don't usually steal Priuses."
                   I think the saddest part is that we had a tape deck in that car, and thus a bunch
                   of old irreplaceable mix tapes. (Including one Chris made for me when we had
                   been dating for four months!)

Tap dancing with Thalia.
                               On the good side, we got news of Unity's school assignment for next year.
                               And....we got in to the public Montessori program we were hoping for.
                               I am excited and relieved at this new direction our lives will go for the next
                               six or more years.  We know at least four other kids who will be in the program
                               so that should help with the transition to Kindergarten.

Boogying with Beatrix to Willie Nelson's Christmas album. Yes really.

Between the insurance paperwork and the school chats, we've been having play dates and park days, reading one million books and drawing one million pictures. It's not very warm, sadly, but we are making do with our free time. And last night Chris and I went to see Jeff Mangum. It was a great show and a helpful neighbor lent us their car so we could take the babysitter home.  Riding out those highs and lows.

Sunday, April 15, 2012


                             It's finally nice here. We spent a lot of time this weekend just soaking up
the sun. Hanging on the back porch. Following the sun spots around the house.

                                                 Unity helped her dad fix an extention cord. They've got big
                                    plans for later in the week.

                                             It's Spring Break so I may not be posting much this week. We'll see.
We've got a million playdates and projects lined up. And tomorrow it's supposed to be in the 80s.
Rock on.

Friday, April 13, 2012

This Moment-What's for Dinner?

Linking with Soule Mama for more moments.

Thursday, April 12, 2012


Tuesday, April 10, 2012


Yesterday we got to hang with my friend, the lovely and talented Stephanie Kuehnert.
We lounged on the back porch and talked about everything while basking in that strange rare thing, the sun. Three cheers for visits, for friends and for spring.

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Our Easter Weekend

                             We had such a lovely weekend. The sun was out. Friends were frolicking.
                              Sugar was coursing through our veins.

                                 Some friends of ours from Meeting have a house out in Kingston.
                                 Washington, not Jamaica. They invited us all out for a potluck
                                 egg hunt.
                                  Brixton forgot what he was hunting for. The big kids got him
                                  back on track.

                                Then everyone spread out on the lawn to inventory their loot.

                                 Then we went to the beach. Chris and I decided we're ready
                                 to retire to Kingston too.

                                  Today we went to Meeting for Worship. In keeping with Quaker
                                  tradition, we have the same kind of silent unprogrammed Meeting
                                  we always have, nothing is different for Easter. The idea is that you
                                  should feel and act the same way on "ordinary" days as you do you

                                 Nevertheless. We decorate and get dressed up. It's a middle ground
                                 I guess.

I made this too. Not our ordinary dinner.

Happy Passover, Happy Easter, Happy Spring,
 Hallelujah Oh Susannah Amen.

Linking with Amanda at Habit of Being.

Friday, April 06, 2012

This Moment

Linking with Amanda for This Moment.

Thursday, April 05, 2012