31 October 2007

IOU (Grandma)

My grandma's apartment is full of treasures.

We popped in at her place last week, piled the whole family in the Odyssey and made that ninety minute drive that we don't attempt nearly often enough. We spent the afternoon with her, and I walked away thinking how good, how very good she is at loving us.

She loved us with dips of ice cream in pointy cones, with homemade sugar cookies. With helping Elle take down dozens of tiny porcelain trinkets--roosters, angels, puppies--from their shadowboxes and line them up on the carpet in play as if they weren't the least bit breakable. With sifting through the contents of her cedar chest with me: old handkerchiefs, bitsy saddle shoes in cream and brown, Grandpa's baby blanket, my mum's dainty first dress and slip, a stack of quilts she'd hand-stitched over the years.

With letting me leave the house with one of those precious quilts, pieced together from her childhood dresses, each stitch tiny and sure.

With a trove of stories: burrowing in the church during a tornado, and the hard trek back to the farmhouse; my great-grandpa bringing home chicken feed in matching sacks so the girls could sew dresses; how she and her sister had two school-dresses apiece, and wore one for three days and the other for two, and never minded.

So much in her life has changed, has been lost, or is being slowly pulled from her. And yet she's beautiful and astoundingly strong in ways I'm just beginning to realize.

Grandma, you render my life with richness and such sweet grace.

28 October 2007


I crave light. I walk around the house, opening windows, doors, curtains, always opening. Washing the walls with lucent morning light, or the burnished glow of four o'clock, or pre-dusk's blushing patina.

As autumn whittles down the days, light becomes all the more precious. And I hoard it, gather it up in bouquets so pungent I can breathe in the memory of it all winter long.


"Come," said the wind to
the leaves one day,

"Come o're the meadows
and we will play.

Put on your dresses
scarlet and gold,

For summer is gone
and the days grow cold."

(Children's song, 1800's)

26 October 2007

I'm fall-breakin'-it with my kids

more photos to come.

PS When I was a kid, we didn't have fall break. Nor did we have iPods or Webkinz or Cheeseburger in Paradise. Plus, you know, that whole bit about trudging to school in waist-deep snow and the uphill-both-ways thing.

25 October 2007

Just in case you were wondering

Right now? Right now I am eating dried apricots and chocolate. And thinking it's possible the vitamins and fiber in the apricots will offset the chocolate in the chocolate, but not really caring if they don't.

24 October 2007

blessings of the frigid sort

at our place, forty-six degrees means:

-plum-colored mums shivering on the front porch

-thick hot chocolate, plumed with whipped cream and a dusting of cocoa

-lots of sibling togetherness (which basically means that Zee has to dole out more quarters than usual for harassing his younger brother)

-the commencement of Christmas carols (hey, only 61 days, 10 hours, 9 minutes and counting)

-trains snaking along wooden tracks

-the wearing of fleeced hoodies and striped knee-socks

-creamy soups and warm waffles

-coldish noses

-board games and snuggly book time.

Here's hoping your Wednesday involves fuzzy socks. :) Be warm, friends.

18 October 2007

small things

1. Elle is talking her head off these days. I'm in love with her choice of pronunciation. ie:

emymore (as in, "my head doesn't hurt emymore")

how to speak rooster: patapatadooooooo

2. Things I miss from home:

the smell of ocean; Tanioka's sushi; mountains breaking the skyline; short people; plate lunches; Zippy's bentos; Sam Choy's Breakfast, Lunch & Crab; kalbi; good kimchi; streets that curve and tunnel and ramble; normal rice; mochiko chicken; my grandpa's oranges and papayas; fresh saimin noodles; perpetual sun. (Plus my family and good friends, but that was a given.) So mostly it's food with a little climate thrown in.

3. Things I don't miss:

red dirt; centipedes; cane spiders on my bedroom wall; paying $6 for a gallon of milk; that on Oahu, the shortest distance between two points is under construction (old joke, but annoyingly true); dive-bombing cockroaches; Kona weather.

4. I used to say that the reason I'm hesitant to run into any old school chums (aside from my bestest buds) is because I'd be such a disappointment. Me, the esteemed work-at-home-mom. But I recently realized that that's not it at all. It's just that I've outgrown the high school me; the skin they're trying to cram me back into is so small it's suffocating.

5. My husband has made a habit of telling me daily that he loves me and that I'm beautiful. I'm keeping him forever.

6. If you ever receive something in the mail from Lovelyn, it will strike you just how together this girl is. I never knew my envelopes were so unsightly and uninspiring until I held one of hers in my actual hands. Gorgeous. Thanks, Love!

7. My five-year-old slipped a note under the bathroom door while I was combing the tangles from my damp hair. He told me it says: "Can we paint now?" How could I possibly deny him?

8. I'm thinking about Christmas cards. I'll still probably mail them out on December 22nd, but just the fact that I'm devoting thought to them in October should be worth a gold foil star or two from the Department of People Who Plan Ahead.

9. My latest goal for the quilt is to finish it up while my mum is here. You know, so she can give me pointers and I can ignore them only to later find out she was spot-on. This is another thing you'd think I'd have outgrown, but no, it's still here.

10. I'm off to parent-teacher-conference with my first grader's teacher. I think that lady wakes up with a smile on her face. She is so perfect for my Zee.

Happy Monday!


I love fallish days like these, the rain-slicked pavement, the wind pulling at my hair and teasing leaves from cresting branches. During preschool this morning, we took a walk to find out what the world looks like wet. I thought we'd bring you along (especially you, Mom, who will ever feel that pining for Midwest autumns).

our discoveries--

: heart-shaped leaves cupping rainwater : pale gold leaflets : puddles that soak you clear to your socks : a stray piece of packing Styrofoam turning cartwheels along the street : water footprints from the soles of our boots : berries like red pearls : moss-encrusted tree bark : pools of Sweetgum leaves like floating stars : how the wind catches our laughter and pulls it from our throats : sticks dark and soggy : damp, cold fingers : the velvet undersides of Black Oak leaves : sweet lure of autumn :

17 October 2007


I'm having a bad mother day.

It's like this: I've been writing notes back and forth with my oldest son's teacher, figuring out what happened with a particular assignment. We (meaning I) thought he did it correctly, but she meant for something different to occur. She's been generous enough to still award him the credit, and I am incredibly thankful for that.


It hit me about an hour ago that none of this would have happened if I would just listen to my son, credit him with a little more competence, consider his reckoning over my own every once in a while.

Last week, he had started to say that he didn't think what I told him about the assignment was right, but I cut him off like I tend to do, in that impatient, condescending tone that I'm rarely even conscious of. "Yes," I said to him, "it's right here on the list. This is one of the books."

And he nailed his role, the dutiful, obedient, unquestioning son who believes I know what I'm talking about. Who assumes that if we disagree, he must be the one who's wrong. Or maybe even worse--who, even when he suspects he's right, goes along with my way because he withers under my disapproval.

I feel wretched.

It's true that what I told him to do was exactly what the assignment stated, but he'd suspected that it wasn't what his teacher actually meant. So he read the wrong book, completed the wrong quiz. And here we are. Sigh.

And if that weren't enough, Elle has a gash on the back of her head that I'm hoping doesn't need stitches. She was balancing on a mountain of couch cushions piled too close to the cement slab of our fireplace hearth. One moment she's giggling, the next there's this alarming red soaking the back of her shirt in large splotches, this fluid warm and wet on my arms as I'm holding her and she's screaming and I can't figure out where all the blood is coming from.

She's fine now; she was actually back to bouncing on her toes and talking to her dolls in that sing-songy voice within fifteen minutes or so. But I'm still shaken, thinking why wasn't I paying closer attention, and why do I even let them pile those cushions up, and what kind of mother am I anyway?

So I'm having a bad mother day. I'm very thankful that children are so resilient, and that mine have survived thus far in spite of my inadequacies. But it's unnerving, isn't it?--to be humming along, thinking I'm a good parent, only to realize just how flagrant my failures can be.

14 October 2007

more on the updates

-I'm learning what it means to truly rest, and what a sheer relief it is to live in cycles of work and respite (vs non-stop overdrive).

-Being a mother means uttering things you never imagined you'd say. Like "No honey, we do not glue paper to the wall" and "Just because it fits up your nose doesn't mean it belongs there."

-In spite of my thirty-ness, if you send me to a women's retreat, I'll still happily consume middle-of-the-night-cold-pizza and stay up till 4:20 AM whispering and giggling in the dark. I guess it takes some of us a while to outgrow these things.

-I'm fairly certain that Twix ice cream arrives in my local grocer's freezer aisle through an invisible chute directly feeding from some creamery in heaven. Same with orange cream slushie.

-My friend Kimmy is superb. Even her non-posts are deliciously funny.

-I am hereby revoking my online privileges for a little while so I can get my kiddos a snack and attempt to squeeze a bit of sewing in. Happy Monday!

10 October 2007

this post brought to you by the letters WI-FI

I'm in the middle of another out-of-townish week, but thanks to the marvel of wireless internet, I can still give y'all a few updates on my life.

-The quilt: yeah, not so much.

-We spent most of the weekend with temps in the 90's and a beating-down sun, and today is supposed to be mostly 40's and wet. Anyone else vote for happy medium?

-I'm most of the way through the first volume of The Lord of the Rings. The book, thus far, is heavy on place; about 90% of the text is devoted to setting. Still, I'd rather walk with Tolkien through 400 pages of cloven valleys and blood-stained peaks than wade through 40 pages of almost anything else by someone who is not Tolkien.

-So back to the quilt: I did dedicate most of my free minutes to sewing, but it turns out I have more of a life than I'd anticipated. And in one of my (rare) wiser moments, I decided to focus on the things that mattered most to Elle: the making of hats, the reading of books, the dancing of birthday dances, the dousing of sprinkles on frosted cupcakes.

-Loren, whom I have currently christened The Un-uncle, brought me this bit of gorgeousness that I mentioned a little while back. Knitting lessons are definitely in my future. And in case you're wondering, I'm calling him The Un-uncle because he is so much more of a comrade than an uncle. And also because how much fun is it to say un-uncle? Seriously brightens up my day.

I'm certain there is more breaking news to share, but I need to get off my duff and head to the next session. More later. Maybe.

07 October 2007


in a nutshell: domineering, inquisitive, endearing, determined, loquacious, exuberant, beloved.

04 October 2007

impending psychosis

A certain little someone is celebrating her third birthday this Sunday.

A certain big someone still hasn't finished her present. That'd be me.

I've been wanting to make something for Elle, and seeing as how I'm short on money and long on fabric, I thought this would be the perfect occasion.

Contrary to my normal habit, I really haven't been procrastinating. I just wanted to complete all of my customers' orders first, before beginning a personal project. And I shipped the last set off this morninghallelujah, so here we are. T minus 3 days and counting.


The birthday-project plans are, in descending order:

Plan A. Make a twin-sized quilt. (I've sorted through fabric, ironed, and am now in the process of cutting random-sized strips for the top.)(How long could it take, really?)(Right.)

Plan B. Make a lap quilt.

C. Sew her a top and/or a dress and/or a purse.

Z. Zip over to Target and buy the first Dora-emblazoned item in sight.

So. We shall see how it goes. And if you find that I'm scarce these next few days, please aim a few Godspeed-your-quilting thoughts in my general direction. Grazie and see you on the other side.