...random experiences, observations and thoughts of my daily life as mommy...past journeys and dreams of journeys yet to be taken creating my life story as i go...

Sunday, July 22, 2012

reflections on art, research, mommyhood and individuals

it is 6:30 a.m. on a sunday. i should not be up. i did not want to be up. but we co-sleep and my children and dog and cat were all competing for who went where and i found myself unable to go back to sleep. maybe it is because i have a lot on my mind. have had a lot on my mind. things i'm working through and trying to figure out...about myself, my family, my place in my world. i don't think my blog concept is that unique and wish i had a better blog title but really "mommy's journey" pretty well describes what this blog is about. when i started thinking about blogging i was really conflicted about my role as a stay-at-home mom. i didn't know any role models, felt part of my identity was tied up to making a difference as a teacher and was worried i would miss the process of learning and keeping my mind engaged with adults at the college level. really i think one of the bigger issues (perhaps a life long issue for me) was balancing dependence and independence. i've always prided myself in being so independent and not "needing" others yet i am so social and enjoy people...on my depressive down days i wish i didn't push myself away and could allow myself more dependence...in fact, i didn't even see the value of dependence until i met my husband...and then again when i had children i was glad they wanted to be dependent on me more than i wanted to foster independence in them (which i think comes naturally when you feel secure)...

anyway, i digress...i really wanted to write about art...so i'll start with a photo from last year's art show at sea's school. i led the "famous artist" lesson and chose monet's sailboats for at least a few reasons 1) my dad loved sailboats and they remind me of him 2) monet was one of my favorite artists as a child 3) sea loves the water and i wanted to see her paint a sailboat

most of the children in her class went with the traditional blues/greens/turquoise with white accents for their primary colors but true to sea's individual nature (and love for the color) she went with an orange sky and an orange sailboat. i love this about her. she can trust herself and go with what she sees or imagines without following the masses (at least artistically!)

this next picture was taken at last year's family art night at sea's school. i have taken over the art corps coordinator position for the school so i will be in charge of this event next year...here is sea giving a "thumb's up" which also reminds me of my dad (he used to do this both to encourage us growing up and also to say "right on!" when he was happy like sea is doing here)...

i met with one of the co-founders of the art corps program (they are professional artists who come to sea's school and lead workshops to teach parents age appropriate art lessons that build on one another...they teach a concept about art and tie it into famous art work so the children are learning both and then get to try to concept on their own art once a month...the parents take the workshop and then teach the lesson in their child's classroom...i taught most of the kindergarten and 1st grade lessons in sea's class and loved it!). i'm really excited to be the face of this program on campus. it will be my job to  get families excited about art at the school...i will do this with a booth at the ice cream social before school, the 1st day of school, the first open house and then have an art corps orientation where people can learn more about art. then i need to be sure there are enough parent volunteers both to lead and assist all the lessons in all the classes...advertise and sign people up for two family art nights sponsored by the PTA, and organize matting of one piece of art per 500+ children in the school for the art show at the end of the year. this is a very parent involved school which is good in many senses but difficult when they have competing agendas for what is most important. i'm hoping to convince them art should be one of the top priorities at the school...one way i am hoping to go about this is to look up research showing how art helps children in school...both academically (they care about things like test scores and grades that are not high priorities to me) and psychologically and personally just how art enriches people's lives (more important to me).

i came from a very academic background growing up (there was a well known medical school, dental school, physical therapy, nursing, etc. in our community where many of the parents worked and these occupations were definitely encouraged over anything artistic). i've always loved art. even when i got a "c" in it in 3rd grade and decided i wasn't very "good" at art i still loved it. i remember taking some personality test in middle school where they asked what type of people you would most want to hang out with at a party and i always chose artistic types as my number one choice even though most of my friends were social people types (my 2nd choice) and i fancied myself a nerdy analytical thinking type (3rd choice).

it is hard to balance the contrasting sides of myself...i love the author anne lamott both because she is really funny and an awesome writer, but more importantly for me because i can relate with her feeling drawn to very liberal and out of the box things yet feeling God and spirituality are equally important (there aren't too many of my hippy type friends who embrace the importance of God in their life...most of them are atheists)...she writes a lot of autobiographical material i can also relate with on her own journeys as a mother...she has a attachment parenting style like mine that i can also relate with...

wow, this post is all over the place. i originally felt motivated by writing about art...yesterday i attended a baby shower for a mom of one of sea's "students"...we became friends last year...she was always really involved at the school and showing up with personalized artistic gifts and homemade cupcakes for various holidays throughout the year. on top of our personal connection of caring about our children and both being involved in the classroom, she is an accomplished artist. our children have the same birthday. i'm not sure how much astrology weighs into everything but they are both leos (july 23rd birthday) close to the watery sign of cancer so they have a strong willed side but are also artistic...

anyway, i met one of her friends who is also an accomplished artist and we were talking about the difficulties with being a mommy and balancing this with other things we are passionate about or just wanting to get away sometimes. i totally get that! i've been reflecting on that idea since i spoke with her. i think i have finally come to a place in my life where i can give up parts of myself to embrace other parts. and i don't feel like i have to give them up forever. my children are 4 and 7. my youngest only has one year left with me before he is off to school and i will have a lot more free time. i want to embrace these unscheduled days of playing with blocks, reading books, making "maps" (he just recently got into making his own art), riding bikes, running in the grass and chasing and/or trying to fly kites. i have a lot of analytical and "deeper" ideas inside of me but right now, at this place in my life, i need to embrace the simpler experiential "moments" of my life...

this rambling is bordering on incoherent so i will end this post shortly and head back to my mommy duties including cleaning out the car of all sandy beach gear, making breakfast, wrapping birthday presents and packing to head out of town to a cousin's party...

but i wanted to include the idea of research (this idea isn't as out of the blue as it sounds...i was reading about research on education on a homeschool group e-mail this morning in bed)...looking at who you influence...groups or individuals...i studied psychology in college and graduate school...pre-kids i loved research and wanted to read and conduct my own to try and "prove" or at least show the probabilities for various things. when i was a teacher i liked that i was influencing many people every semester and i imagined life on a more global scale and how i could influence groups of people. now that i am a stay-at-home mom, my life is much simpler and my world is much smaller. but this is a good thing. i am more concerned with how i influence my children and the impact on the individual (myself and my family) versus groups.

in a different time and place my focus may be elsewhere (though i doubt i will ever give up the importance of my influence on my children...and their influence on me)...but for now i am happy where i am, doing what i am on this mommy journey...

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

i *heart* tanya

my really good friend tanya awarded me "the fabulous blog ribbon award" which was so sweet of her but really i am undeserving and unable to accept the award...so though i am gracefully declining it (mostly because i haven't been a "good" blogger and kept up with/commented on other's blogs so i can't meet the criteria of awarding this award to 5 other bloggers)...i WILL write a quick post about how much i adore tanya, include my own 5 fabulous moments and 5+ things i love and hate (and visit the 5 bloggers she awarded the award to) with a few photos sprinkled in between :)

i have better photos of tanya but i chose this one because it was taken at my 40th birthday party and i was so blessed to have her there...she came with homemade cake from her Chamorro heritage and this peace sign is also emblematic of her easy going and fun loving nature. tanya is one of those friends who just always come through...as a best friend, as a mom, at home, in school, volunteering, helping friends and strangers alike. she is amazing. her help with various projects in school and more importantly in my personal life have been invaluable.
our eldest children, sea, and her son elijah were in the same kindergarten class and though they were in different 1st grade classrooms, they maintained a close friendship this past year. in fact, they have plans to marry one another (after they turn 30)...here is a little essay sea wrote about elijah in school:
i'm not sure if you can read this essay but i add it because some of the qualities my daughter appreciates in tanya's son could also be said of her: "he is a good book maker...good other (author)...alwas helps me with stof...he has a kind heart...he is respectful because he alwas helps me...my buddy has a buotifal smile". tanya is an accomplished author who has published her works in various places (visit her website linked above for more details). she has honored me by allowing me to read unpublished works in the making and given me a signed copy of another. we both love to write and read and she inspires me to someday try and get some of my writing published! if not i appreciate that she reads my blog and we can share this passion together.

she is very generous in both physical gifts (random homemade food, extra snacks from the islands, handwritten birthday card and gifts) and even more importantly to me, the gift of her time, friendship and support. she is a wonderful listener and can offer advice or just be there in silence when needed. she is tender and sensitive, yet strong and independent at the same time. i appreciate all of these qualities and she is intuitive to boot, so she knows what is needed at any given moment. she has adopted my family as her own and i feel like we are related! or sisters at least. there are a lot of stories that go along to support that idea but i think the concept of sisters and depth of that support should suffice for now.

i'm having a "yearbook" moment writing this blog post...what i mean is i don't think i ever wrote in any of my best friends' yearbooks because there was just too much i wanted to say and i didn't think i would do a good enough job so instead i wrote nothing :( appropriately timed since we both just celebrated our 20th reunion from high school within the past couple years...anyway, i'm glad i have gotten secure enough to be able to write something instead of becoming handicapped with fear i didn't write enough or left out something important...i can always write more posts about tanya, right?

so maybe i will edit this post in the next few days and add more but for now, here were the rules for the award tanya attempted to award me:

"In order to receive this award you have to follow a few rules:


here are 5 of my most fabulous moments along with photos:

1. realizing i was in love with my best friend:
2. our wedding day (no photos scanned so here is one from our honeymoon in the cook islands):
3. birth of sea:
4. birth of story:
5. turning 40 and being ok with who i am (i've had a lifetime of feeling misunderstood and trying to figure out who i was):

5 things i love:

1. my husband, daughter and son
2. writing
3. taking photos
4. the beach
5. music
6. traveling
7. food/eating/cooking/health

(i have trouble following instructions and/or committing to just 5)

5 thing i hate:

1. lack of integrity
2. stupidity
3. not going through my garage (accumulated stuff physical and psychological)
4. not knowing where i stand with people
5. feeling misunderstood

i was just re-reading tanya's answers to these questions and i could have written many of these same things (see the award link above to read it yourself)...i so appreciate that she understands me, i know where i stand with her, she has integrity and she is quite bright both in knowledge and the intuitive abilities necessary for a variety of social situations :)

thank you tanya for (trying to) award me this award and for giving me the opportunity to write some of the things i appreciate about you and about my life. i am so sad that you are moving to washington this fall but i have met a couple people from everett recently who are hopeful you will want to move back :) if not, you are definitely one of those friends i will travel to see and will keep in touch with wherever our paths take us. thank you for being you and thank you for your friendship.

Monday, July 9, 2012

san diego county fair

initially i was just going to post photos of our day...until i realized i had "narrowed them down" to over 60! so i guess i'll try to choose about 10 and include a short caption for each and leave the flickr link to get the experience of the full day...while i'm waiting for these to upload, i'll add that we've gone to the beach probably 6 times since i've been back from my mom's...three days last weekend, fourth of july, and the past couple days...

(i was having trouble accessing my photos on my external hard drive...)

in other important news for our family (and facing my issues with procrastination and need to take responsibility for difficult issues), my husband and i pulled everything out of our disorganized garage (my stuff, not his that needs tending to) and painted the dingy yellowy creamy disgusting walls a bright white! very rewarding...two days of work later we have some of the items back in but i have a lot of things to go through (read: "get rid of") in the coming days...so i thought i'd get in a post while my family is sound asleep after 9 HOURS at the beach today...literally 11 something until after 8 and after sunset!

i really want to post a reply to my friend tanya's most recent post but also want to include photos from said inaccessible hard drive so that post will wait for morning, too...so here are 12 memorable photos from the fair...we went there over a week ago...you can tell i love the ferris wheel as it is in most of the shots :)

before i forget some of the details of the day...we started by visiting the various animals...petting zoo...searched for various baby animals...then we headed over to the children's rides...we asked if there was a larger ferris wheel and were sent back on the other side...
 view headed to the top of the ferris wheel:
 looking up from the bottom of the ferris wheel:
 ferris wheel and del mar beach in the background of our ride on the swings...my husband took this shot of sea and me (bottom right corner) from his vantage point with story in the swing behind us:
next we ate some vegetarian burritos and grilled corn on the cob (there was a lot of unhealthy food to choose from...we had a giant serving of garlic fries to supplement)...ate giant chocolate dipped ice cream cones and went to look for some more rides...
 love the shadows and contrast of light this time of day...
sea and story had fun sliding down a giant slide just to the left of this photo...
 sea watching someone bungy jump...i catch the action of her glee and the ferris wheel at once :)

 the bumper cars were probably sea and story's favorite since they both got to drive...i was extra happy with this ride because the ticket collector let the children go in free "as long as they can drive"...
 the fair at night...our whole family walked through a house of mirrors (ferris wheel in the background):
 sea going on a crazy upside down spinny ride with her dad (they were both super excited...she barely made the height requirement)...
welp, here is the flickr link if you want to see the full day...

i'm off to bed...hoping i can be productive enough tomorrow to get to the post in reply to my friend tanya...she is a dear friend!