Thoughtful

We feel fortunate to have family members who love us. We don’t need or deserve anything. So when my mom showed up yesterday with the generous gift of a lego table for my children we were in awe.

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My grandparents were the type of people who knew your favorite drink and snack to have available when you visited. They were the kind of people who knew what you needed. Just the other day we were remembering when they visited Joe and I as newlyweds years ago in SF and brought us a grocery cart. It was the kind of gift we didn’t even know we needed until we had one and grocery shopping on the bus became exponentially easier.

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These types of memories came flooding back when my mom handed us this gift.

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Some dear family members noticed my kids like legos and bought them this table. They have no idea that we have started to really struggle to keep these lego creations contained and this table is perfect. They can all fit around it. There is a drawer under it to store legos.

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It was incredibly generous and made us feel loved.

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Thank you Kimura Family. Our hearts are full of thanks.

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It’s perfect.

Stars Wars

This movie themed party came up right after seeing this trilogy for the first time ever. And so there was plenty to take in. The birthday boy was dressed like a jedi and had pool noodles turned light sabers to share with guests.

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Bigger kids were running around and having a blast. I kept trying to offer some “Yoda Soda” or “Vader-ade.”

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We convinced Olivine to be an ewok for a short period in the backyard.

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And baby Yoda was all smiles, chewing on pizza crust or blueberries.

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My kids had to correct me when I called the pinata a moon, it was really the Death Star.

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Someone ate cake by diving in, abandoning forks and napkins.

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We even brought home some souvenir balloons that Paul gathered into his corner of the backseat.

DSC_8417I love birthday parties that are themed and casual and involve kids running around wild.

Sometimes

The winds blow through and make the sky so blue. We look out toward Catalina and see the island in full view.

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The youngest gets to pick out her very own outfit in the hussle bussle of school. She looks crazy to me.

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I sneak off to see a friend and when I come home I discover boys have been rolling their own gnocchi for dinner.

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We take walks and find new open spaces in a landscape that feels crowded. Without much talking, we hold hands and take deep breaths.

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Sometimes we get exactly what we asked for and we are left in awe of the circumstance. Like finding out that Joe will be starting student teaching in the special ed. department of the same school our boys go to.

Lately

Henry practicing his chopping skills, learning to be careful with a knife. We love fresh Cilantro!

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Walks at sunset, with glassy ocean waters and golden glowing clouds. Yum!

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Joe trying a new recipe of Eggplant Parmesan and loving the opportunity to reap the benefits of his hard work.

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Rainy days beckon rain boots.

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Cozied up to read stories to a little one who has pain in her ears. But somehow a good book is just the distraction she craves.

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The indoor drying laundry makes me think of living in France. That seems like another lifetime ago. I can stand in the kitchen and start daydreaming about that time in my life, thankful to Joe for having made me go, all those years ago.

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I have been able to enjoy this season of calm. Joe starts student teaching next week, the kids will be in childcare more, and I will soon after start teaching at the college for spring semester. But until then, we have a few more days, even an upcoming Monday off, to be together at a slower pace.

Grateful Hearts

One of the hopes I have for my children is they will cultivate attitudes of appreciation. After a season of giving and receiving, sitting down to express our genuine thanks is truly important.
DSC_8272With a stack of envelopes, pens, stamps, and blank cards Paul I spent a chunk of time crafting our words. As a second grade teacher I know writing becomes easy when developed around conversation and used as a medium to put the great ideas of our heart on to paper.

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I have been an avid pen pal, journal keeper, postcard sender, and mail art fan for years. So, to sit with my son and share such a meaningful piece of who I am, and watch him grow in his own craft is such a gift.

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The rest of our family would say our kitchen writing session gave them a gift as well.

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Their naps gave us just the space we needed to talk and write slowly without interruption.

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A lovely way to spend the afternoon.

Lego Marathon

The boys were given a shared Lego box that was so big. They kept asking to build it and I kept giving excuses.Then today we woke up to a rainy day. I promised that after breakfast they could dig in.
DSC_8251Then I insisted on some toothbrushing and changing of clothes.

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They stuck to it and kept working through lunch. I had to keep saying “eat your sandwich.”

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Seriously, hours later they finished.

DSC_8259They played with it the rest of the day. Again, I never played legos so I am confused by the fascination. But these boys were as happy as clams. In total, it was 7 hours or more. That seems crazy!

Fine Motor

Olivine has loved watching her brother’s “do homework” and so we bought her a thick book of skills to practice. This morning she dressed herself in a bathing suit with pants. She took out markers and started writing letters (lots of H’s like Henry).
DSC_8242Not long after, she was asking for “homework.”
DSC_8248 She can trace and matchDSC_8244with such concentration.
DSC_8241She resists having my camera in her face.DSC_8245She sometimes talks or sings to herself.DSC_8249She even cheers herself on.
DSC_8236I love when learning is fun.DSC_8250And I love watching this little girl learn.

Clarity

Henry is far-sighted and the longer he is in school the more he is straining his eyes. He picked them out and they were ready yesterday.

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At the eye exam he was reading the numbers fine until he started to say “zero, zero, zero.” These will help in school as he looks at the board and then back down at his work. He is so far being careful with them.

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They definitely make him look older. He looks even more like his father, who had glasses at this age.

Rewind

The last few days have been extremely low key and wonderful.
We decorated cookies and played with a new puppy at Grandma Cheryl’s.DSC_8173We explored El Dorado Park in the crisp air
DSC03654and ran into friends who had the same idea.DSC03678Joe loaded up the Christmas Tree to take over to the park and we packed up our decorations.
DSC03682Last night, after the kids went to sleep, Joe made us dinner.
DSC_8201 I am aware that break is winding down, so I am going extra slow and cautious. The luxury of such a season has kept my heart full of thanks.

Happy 2015!

I am hopeful about so many changes in this upcoming year. Joe will finish school and look for a job. We will most likely move in the summer because our apartment building has been sold. These are the bigger changes we are preparing ourselves for, and we know there will be plenty we can’t even imagine.

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I have chosen a word to focus on that is a daily challenge with my family, my job, and my heart. “Listen” without interruption or defense or a preoccupation. I want to make eye contact, speak less, and be quick to forgive. These aren’t really resolutions because I have never been good at those. But just a word to focus on seems manageable for the upcoming year.

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This is also a time of reflection on the year gone by. We have a little girl talking so much more, potty trained, and with ears pierced. A boy who started school, joined a soccer team, and learned how to swim. A big brother who is growing in independence, lost two teeth, and has built more lego creations than I can count. Joe earned his B.A. this past spring (Whoo-whoo!) and is well on his way to being done. I traveled to Portland (miss you Hedstrom Household), started my tenth year in Compton, and have continued to find joy in teaching at the community college. As a family we went camping, swimming, hiking, exploring, and traveled all the way to SF together. It’s been a jam packed year when I genuinely reflect. We have also had sadness. Moments of missing my Jich and saying goodbye to my grandmother. Gaining new friends but knowing we have lost touch with others.

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I can only wonder what will be in store for 2015. Happy New Year!

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