The Middle Bear

He is the one who makes up games on the spot to keep Olivine entertained for countless hours while I cook dinner, finish homework, etc. Paul meanwhile may be reading, sleeping, or homework (lately that’s all it feels like-which sounds like a teenager).DSC02870On this occasion he was playing dolls with her. They were putting all the dolls to bed in the box so that the Tooth Fairy could come visit them all.DSC02869These aren’t my favorite dolls but they were from Grammy and they are loved by these two. So for now they stay.

Henry had this fairy fly all around the house with Olivine following as he gave her directions about items to grab that the tooth fairy would deliver to the other dolls when they woke up (a.k.a. the box was opened).

Currently, Henry’s words take precedent with most issues involving Olivine, meaning his word is truth to her. We can tell her the tooth fairy and Santa are not real. And then I will later hear Henry remind her how crazy of a story that is, while Paul insists his parents only tell the truth. Henry points out how little money we have, that we aren’t able to gather all those items for the stockings, consider the rest of the kids getting presents, this can’t be some universal conspiracy. She listens and inevitably takes Henry’s side.

The latest stories surround his confessions to her about how to get off the nap list at preschool. He is full of detail about laying on the mat with his eyes open for days at a time, telling her it worked for him, he eventually was moved off the nap list due to never sleeping. The problem is Olivine loves his idea but still falls asleep. So when she seeks his advice he has all sorts of tips and as much as I hate their conspiracy being built against naps, I also love hearing their schemes.

I won’t lie. The time for just this middle bear gets shaved off all the time. But he doesn’t seem to mind. It’s more an issue in my own mind. As far as he knows, being a big brother and a little brother are the coolest roles around and he wouldn’t trade them for anything.


My cousin is taking full advantage of the girls who have birthdays less than a week apart. I love that! Right now, there is a mutual love of mermaids and like every party, they went ALL OUT.

I didn’t charge my batteries for the camera. I mostly took pictures with my phone. (Now that I am on instagram with my cell phone – this is my life now! Tt makes my camera feel like the forgotten and outdated item in my bag)

Here was the double cake:DSC02887with cutout silhouettes, names, and numbers:DSC02888I was a big fan of the white chocolate shells. I might have eaten three or four! So good. And I opted for cookies over cupcakes at this event.DSC02886The other highlights of the party included a time lapse video of the entire party from a Go-Pro stuck to the window, a bubble lady who had bubbles big enough to stick children in, watching others watch Joe play with a singing bubble wand, face painting, mermaid bubbles, and family.


I am not Catholic but I love the symbolism that permeates the practice. At this recent baptism I heard about the water symbolizing life, the candle carries on the “light,” and the white clothing marks new life. I loved it. I sat in awe and wonder of this sacrament.DSC02898And afterwards, the celebrating and joining together of family and friends felt like such a moment of making memories. I was full of hope watching the play of these small children, knowing they will grow up and we will reminisce about this more innocent period of parenting. But that we will be able to lean on each other and our faith to carry us through the harder times. This is a comfort.DSC02899I look across the yard and see this one. Full of imitating the play of a mother. She wants to run around and play, but also loves sitting at the sidelines watching as she tenderly cares for a baby doll.DSC02902There are these two. With the long hair in their eyes and the funny grins on their faces. They are jumping on top of the play house to escape the dragon that is flying nearby. Ahhh…the imagination.DSC02908When the crowd has died down and it is almost time for a bath. The one who was baptized warms up and cozies next to me. We make a sound of surprise as she over and over opens the cash register. I can hang with toddlers all day.

Financial Literacy

This may just be a fancy phrase for describing the learning about money and spending, but it is a priority for me and Joe. We agree we don’t want to give allowance. But what else?? We recently set up (in 2016-yes!) savings accounts for the kids and tossed those ceramic pigs taking up space and haunting my memories. Yes. My house was broken into in first grade and I may have never fully recovered from seeing my smashed piggie bank-completely robbed at such a young age may leave scars.

Anyway, fast forward to being a parent of three and expecting my kids to help with the dishes and their room not because they are paid but because we are a family  and this is what people do…work together. So my kids rarely have their own money and this creates a dilemma in teaching them the price and the cost and the choices that surround money. So when this year at Christmas they were sent cards with money and at Easter grammy might have given them money, we let them save some in their new bank accounts (half) and then keep some.

Paul and Olivine are true to their age and circumstance. They willing will raid the Dollar Tree or 7-11 with their father cheering them on. They are sad to realize their new toys have broken or how expensive candy and slurpees are.

But Henry is another story. He offered to give me the money to help pay for gas or laundry when he has overheard us budgeting. (yeah we are also having money meetings where we try to use cash after our identities were stolen twice in the last six months) He has also saved and spent sparingly. He recently counted up his 11 dollars and boasted to his siblings that he was rich (compared to them). They shrugged and he insisted on taking it all to baseball to buy treats that he promised to share from the snack shack. Except that is a crazy amount of money to spend when most candy costs a quarter. So I set a limit of two dollars. You should have seen his eyes when one dollar bought for boxes. That he quickly gave away and then Grammy insisted she give him a dollar for sharing. I had to try hard to deny him that money because he has years before moving out. I sometimes loose track of time and it feels like I have to teach him all the lessons in one setting.

Later that same day he had tucked his money into his shirt pocket and forgot until he saw the man selling cotton candy on a stick. He was over the moon to realize he had permission to leave the gate of the playground, go ask how much it was, and buy the candy if he could afford it. This is his face upon returning: pleased with his purchase and ready to share with those around him.
DSC02883Yes he still has money in his sock drawer that this sister always wants him to bring on errands as she tries to convince him to spend it. She wants toys and treats all the time, but he is saving up. For what? He has yet to decide as he constantly asks about how much things cost. Lego Sets are $40 – what? bikes cost $100? Our car costs thousands of dollars? What in the world? His mind is being blown on a daily basis when he tallies up the cost.

Don’t hate me but I might have charged him $5 for loosing his water bottle last week. I went and bought a new one after looking high and low. As soon as I took his $5 the bottle was found the very next day. Was money part of the motivation? Maybe. I am still debating about paying him back. He’s asked. Thoughts?

One Year Done!

I really can’t believe that the first year of classes is done. Our program is designed extremely well and skills continuously build on one another. This past semester I worked on a mini-study of my choice and the culmination was a poster project we displayed this past Saturday.

The boys had baseball and so I brought along my twin and yes…we dressed like twins. I was super nervous but it was low key and fun to see everyone’s hard work. DSC02839These are K-12 folks I sit with late on Wednesday nights with in my cohort (A principal, high school counselor, and Latin teacher). We cheer each other on through a new baby (little Frank) and an upcoming wedding (Miss Maria) and all the assignments that come our way.DSC02841A couple weeks to breathe until summer starts before June first. I am so grateful for this opportunity and I really love being in school.image1Last night’s class…Willard Elementary School library and then drinks at Dr. Slater’s. Go us!

Twice :: Mother’s Day

I celebrated with my mom on Friday.DSC02833Olivine came along while the boys were at schoolDSC02835We sipped mimosas and enjoyed the rainy weather outside.DSC02837My mom surprised me with this:DSC02866On Sunday we made a trip to Little Tokyo with friends.DSC02843For a special lunch at my favorite vegan sushi spot: Shojin.DSC02844We ate until our tummies were fullDSC02850and the day was full of smiles.DSC02851We like to call Olivine our “cherry on top” and so had to take a picture in the doorway of this yogurt shop with the same name.DSC02852Happy Mother’s you and yours!

Teacher Appreciation

We spent time this week thinking about all the good teachers bring to our lives (yes, Joe and I are biased). With three little ones, the care they are given by people we trust means so much. DSC02827It is important to take the time to say thank you for a job that is often underpaid and under-recognized.

Paul was quick to add stickers and think about each one of his teachers in after school care.DSC02826Henry’s sentences included special moments as well, but he opted to draw pictures. That made the cards colorful and unique.DSC02825While Olivine has many more teachers than either of the boys. Plus, she is younger, so she really worked hard on writing their names.DSC02822And Olivine has a favorite teacher who she imitates the mismatch style of DSC02783so we framed this photo and shared the love. DSC02819We also bought plants for some head teachers and then wrote some special letters to other head teachers and tucked them in the water bottles. Last week, I volunteered at the teacher dinner which is always a big hit. There is always plenty of food and a chance to say thanks over and over. We try to do this more than once a year. I want my kids to share the big hearts that they naturally have.

Story Telling

We went to Olivine’s final conference on the Blue Side of the Child Development Center. She will be there next year, but leaving a group of teachers she has been with for more than a year. A lot of growing up has happened in this time and her teachers have been with Paul, Henry, and so saying good-bye feels so final.DSC00020The head teacher (who I adore and lives across the street) complimented her increased social skills, willingness to help others, active participation, and her imaginary play. She likes to play mom, baby, kitties, super heroes, and a whole bunch of other games that are made up with minimal props.DSC02828Of course, this is related to her love of the felt board. She spent over an hour this morning setting it up and taking it apart with a continued story along the way. She insisted I “play” which is more of me listening to her tell stories. Here we are at the Pet Shop (she set up) and we are both buying kitties. Not the doggie. And we are also buying some “madageenes” to read about our pets. No fish and no birds. Empty cage. Wow. Our kitties are so cute. What will you name yours?
And she can wait for an answer or not. She is just so excited to dress the girls, add hair, and move the animals around.DSC02830I am unable to fully attend or sit for very long (I am working on it) so as I wash dishes, make a snack, and tidy up she has taken the Pet Shop apart and set up the cafe. Insisting I come back over to see: Mommy, we are the cafe now. We brought books to read and kitties too. I ordered beers for you on the table (what??) but you are just going to start with lemonade like me. This is so fun. Oh it’s hot (she adds an umbrella) and look we are in the cafe with no shoes (adds shoes). At one point she even changes the outfit and says that’s okay mommy because these ladies only look straight ahead. They don’t turn their heads so you didn’t really see me. Plus, if you did, you would just see my bra!

Of course I am rolling over in laughter and snapping photos and she doesn’t understand any of this. She just wants me to play along. Add to the story. So I tell her the food is really slow in this cafe. Which gets her digging around for sandwiches or any food props.DSC02831In the hunt, she does find drinks for the kitties who are also hot. She gives her kitty lemonade while making a lapping noise with her tongue and insists my kitty have the “bottle” because it looks like a baby. So I meow along and find myself impressed with her imagination.DSC02832The last scene, she changed out, was us going camping. We are having a busy day or a busy summer, which I never quite figured out. But we have our kitties. I no longer have hair so a kitty sleeping on my head will have to do. She points out we have cozy slippers (those look like fins for the divers) since we are in the woods. It is night time and there isn’t enough room in the tent so you (me) are sleeping outside. I insist that I am fine outside as long as I have some tea and am promptly given a cup. She tells stories about how her kitty likes to dig for and find bones now, kind of like a dog but in the woods. Look the bone is in the tent! She propped the felt board up and even snuck the clouds and sun in the back, she whispered about how she had tucked them behind, because they go away at night.

Can I snap enough photos or invest in an audio recorder to possibly capture this all?

No but this blog is my spot to remember and smile and brag and record all these moments that make my life feel magical.

A year ago I was barely able to leave to teach. I had started packing up the room, not knowing if I would even return. I remember feeling so incredibly uncertain about where I would be. And yet Here I am: Home-with the gift of time and a little girl and a felt board. I feel so grateful for this space.


Tiara Talk

Olivine was wearing a tiara on Tuesday to school, when Henry noticed in the car and asked if her jewels were real?

DSC02817She said yes only to be argued with..

H: No they can’t be real. that is too expensive!

O: Yes they are (pointing)…Look, they are real. They are plastic.

H: Oh, that is what I meant. They are plastic. That is not real. Real jewels are expensive, like your earrings. (Then he is suddenly distracted) Mom when did you have enough money to buy those real jewel earrings? I don’t remember you having a lot of money.

O: (Before I can answer) Henry, how do they make real jewels?

P: Henry doesn’t know (that is how big brothers talk sometimes).

H: Yes I do (pausing and then declaring). They are made from water.

O: Ohhh.. wow! (Big eyes and a perfect ‘o’ of a mouth)

H: (continuing with long pauses, with the dramatic effect he makes it sounds like magic or a very clear explanation for a toddler). The dirt hardens the water and then people find those and make things out of the jewels

O: Well, then how do they get the color?

P: Yeah, how Henry?

H: They paint them on. Like your jewel earrings. They painted them purple.

P: Okay (sounds believable)..but don’t they also add air?

H: Yeah I just didn’t say that because air is everywhere (quick recovery)

O: Is air the sky? Where does the sky end? (always more questions)

H: The sky doesn’t end. Does it mommy? (I am the expert- often called on to take sides, but I am intentionally remaining quiet)

P: The sky is all around, even in this car, right now.

O: What? We are in the sky? The sky is here! (looking around confused)

H: Yeah, Paul is right. That is how we can breathe Ollie, even though the doors are closed and the windows are up. Feel it (Deep breath)

She nods

I smile, listening and occasionally looking at the three of them buckled in a row, side by side, in the backseat of my car. questions out loud on our way to school.

I love it!




My memories begin with afternoons in high school: in front of cutting boards and large quantities of produce and the weekly creation of batches of soup for Food Not Bombs. The pick ups, the washing and sorting, the chopping and simmering, would lead to this fantastic surprise in the end. Surprise! Like pulling a rabbit out of hat, but better and edible.DSC02814Cooking every night often feels like a chore. A cycling through of pasta, stir fry, tacos, or curry. We rotate through the dishes again and again. But then there are nights like last night. I come across a recipe I have wanted to try and feel a bit gutsy. After looking  around and seeing I am only missing two ingredients I take it as a sign from the heavens. I reread the steps and measure carefully, at each step thinking it might all go wrong in which case, at the last minute, I will order a pizza (my least favorite food). Even as a I pop it into the oven I  want to cover my eyes, unsure about what will transpire.DSC02816The pot pie takes my breath away. People are cooking dinner all the time, and yet it feels like magic. It feeds my entire family, it took less than an hour, and I am thrilled by the way it turns out. I savor each bite and almost regret not doubling the recipe so I could freeze one. My mind begins churning out variations and smaller portions and I am so grateful for time in the kitchen to cook.