Thursday, October 27, 2016

Gratitude 7

64. Book club night
65. Bright white cloud mountains in a fierce blue autumn sky
66. Playtime with Pippin
67. Baby laughter
68. Pippin's singing
69. Gleaning details about the school day from Merry. I was asking him what happened in math that day, and when he told me "we read a book" I was grateful for the reply but slightly skeptical of its accuracy. But that just happened to be the day of curriculum night, and the teacher specifically mentioned the book that she'd used during the math segment that day. Presume competence!
70. Sweet baby smell
71. Merry snuggles after school
72. Family hikes (Wallace Falls State Park!)
73. Morning nature walks in the crisp air
74. Dahlias
75. Good decaf coffee. I realize this is an oxymoron to many, but when I suspect another cup of the real thing will throw off Bella's sleeping, it takes the edge off nicely.
76. Every single dry day as the late autumn rains loom closer
77. The golden glory of Pippin's hair catching the sunlight
78. Bella giggles
79. A month into kindergarten, it's going almost too smoothly to believe (I had so much kindergarten anxiety, and I'm still surfing the wave)
80. Quiet babbles in the backseat as Bella joins the car conversations
81. Bedtime snuggles with Pippin
82. Bedtime snuggles with Merry
83. Merry's first attempt at writing a sentence
84. Morning snuggles with Merry (rare these days!)
85. The breathtaking beauty of a tree on the way to the bus stop: green, yellow, and crimson at the same time.
86. A visit from my amazing sister!
87. Pippin trying (and liking!) new foods at a sushi lunch with Auntie
88. Pippin attempting to eat seaweed salad with chopsticks

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Beautiful Northwest

When we moved to Seattle I was super excited about being in range to go see the Olympic National Forest and Mount Rainier, but after two years we haven't made it to either one. Every now and then I feel guilty about this, like I'm wasting our time up here. Then I take the boys to a morning at a local park and realize that it doesn't really matter.

When you've got beauty like this 10 minutes away and kiddos under 5, they don't see any difference. Give Merry plenty of rocks and a body of water to throw them in and he's the happiest boy in the world. And Pippin? Mama's there and big brother is doing something interesting, he's good. 

Merry requested a "picture of the water"

The boys are happy, the scenery is lovely and those big fancy national parks aren't going anywhere. At least, they'd better not be going anywhere. Any imminent mega-tsunamis or volcanic explosions can just wait another decade or so, ok?

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Gratitude 6: Anniversary and Kindergarten Edition

46. Nine years of marriage!
47. The wonderful man I've been married to all of those 9 years
48. Pippin's dimple
49. First day of kindergarten!
50. Ice cream consolation prize with the little brother who didn't get to go on the school bus
51. Email from Merry's new teacher saying he had a great first day
52. The goregous, almost unnatural contrast between a bright yellow tree behind purple black trees on the drive home
53. Picking fresh blueberries literally right outside our front door
54. Merry's excitement: "I have school on Friday! And today!"
55. The taste of the air on crisp autumn days
56. Surprise hugs from Merry
57. The elaborate dramas that Pippin plays out with his Mario figurines
58. That moment when you look past a sleep-deprived grumpy haze and realize that these crazy up-all-night children are actually being adorable and amazing
59. Weekend walks with my boys
60. Golden autumn walks to the bus stop
61. Four uninterrupted hours of sleep!
62. A bus stop right next to a playground
63. Pippin's naps. They make scheduling complicated, but so worth it.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Words are funny

My morning Facebook scroll turned up the following comic from The Oatmeal:

I won't post the whole thing because it's really long and I don't know the etiquette for sharing an entire comic from someone else. Just click through. It's excellent, like almost everything from The Oatmeal, but it almost made me laugh because it highlights just how imprecise the word "happy" can be.

Mr. Oatmeal's definition of happiness is almost unrecognizable--some pinnacle of comfort and triumph from which you look down on the unhappy masses? Some cheerful bubbly personality type or mood that he himself has observed but never felt, so therefore by default he is unhappy? I suspect we're confusing 'happy' with 'comfortable' or 'having fun'.
The world offers you comfort. But you were not made for comfort. You were made for greatness. -- Pope Benedict XVI
We are meant to strive, to extend ourselves. With very little tweaking he could have titled it "How to be imperfectly happy" and it would have meant almost exactly the same thing.

In the midst of creating three new people, things get pretty miserable around here. I haven't had a full night's sleep in the 6 months since Bella has been born and I'm not expecting to for at least another 6. This puts me in zombie mode a lot of the time; I can almost feel the brain cells dying. I spend a large amount of time dealing with various bodily fluids, and my normal lack of concern for my appearance has dipped to such a low bar that I probably look like the absolute stereotype of the drab boring SAHM.

But I'm happy. In the midst of the fog, one of these kids will turn around and do something awesome or adorable or hilarious and it's all worth it. Or I'll read an excellent book, discover a perfect sunset or beautiful forest trail. A deep happiness exists underneath the grouchiness, the stress, the exhaustion and constant feeling of failure. I'm doing something worthwhile, meaningful, and it's making me better every day. And if I'm reading him correctly, Mr. Oatmeal is saying the same thing with the opposite words.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Gratitude 5

35. Coffee
36. Pippin's bouncy adorable 2 year old run
37. Discovering Merry combing his sister's near-nonexistent hair while she gazes at him with adoration
38. A bus stop that turns out to be closer than I thought
39. An understanding gymnastics coach, willing to let Merry stay in a younger class that fits his current ability and joy
40. Mom's night out at the new game cafe
41. 2 year old friends playing together
42. Faint strains of high school band practice as school starts up
43. Gigantic Bella smiles just for Merry
44. The sound of rain
45. A dark purple petunia that survived my black thumb all summer

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

This play was pretty much what I wanted and expected it to be. One of my friends worried that it would feel like fanfiction, and it did, but like a really good fanfiction. I laughed, I cried, I rolled my eyes a bit, and I mourned the near impossibility of seeing it on stage any time in the foreseeable future.

That's the extent of my spoiler free review, no promises from here on out.

I'm not sure what everyone expected from the story, the most common critique I've heard seems to be that it recycles Voldemort as the old villain. But were Rowling and her co-authors supposed to introduce, develop, and then defeat an entirely new villain in the course of four acts? Not to mention that a Harry Potter story without his nemesis in some form or fashion would seem . . . anticlimactic.

I loved the depiction of our older heroes--not unscarred by their earlier adventures, but absolutely building their lives and as happy as anyone can expect to be. Despite a bit of slash fic wariness at first, I loved Albus and Scorpius as the new heroes; they were absolutely adorable. The format of reading as a stage script instead of a novel was less unsettling than I expected, although I'm fairly certain that the stage directions were embellished for the reading public.

Yes, it fails in many respects. There's plenty of cringe-worthy moments, characters nothing is fleshed out very well because stage play, and Harry seemed even more emotionally volatile than when he was a teenager. I can't decide if this last is a result of the writers being painfully overdramatic or an attempt to portray PTSD.

I didn't love the time travel in principle because it's a cheap and messy plot trick, but I loved the exploration of the alternate histories that it allowed. There's a reason it's such a popular cheap plot trick. Specifically the scenes with Snape; I lost it a full half page before Scorpius' revelation of the existence of one Albus Severus Potter, I could just see it coming.

But on the whole I didn't feel disappointed, possibly because I had low expectations? There were many moments and quotes that I loved:

ROSE: The rumor is that he's Voldemort's son, Albus
A horrible, uncomfortable silence.
It's probably rubbish. I mean . . . look, you've got a nose.

Slightly ashamed to admit that I laughed. Suspect I have a terrible sense of humor.

And now before I hit publish, I have to mention a point that the brilliant Haley at Carrots for Michaelmas raised in her review. (I was slightly terrified to read said review because she didn't like it and I was afraid that I'd be convinced. Her literary analyses are that good, but I escaped with warm feelings intact this time.)

Huge plot flaw: Voldemort as Delphi's father. Voldemort as anyone's father. Lets skip the thinking about Voldy's sex life (ew) and think about the whole generating life thing. By Deathly Hallows, Voldemort has shredded his soul beyond recognition, been killed once, and undergone some serious physical changes. Death does not beget life; participating in the creation of a child should have been far beyond him at that point. Now obviously its Rowling's world, but it just doesn't seem to fit with the themes of death and love that run so deeply and beautifully throughout the rest of the series. 

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Gratitude 4: Birch Bay Edition

24. Road trip!
25. Evening ice cream with the family
26. Sunset walks by the beach. I am amazed by the color hot pink, it looks so unnaturally gaudy on clothes but then you turn around and it's blazing across the evening sky. And once isn't enough; visit Texas in the spring and it's blushing across the fields as Indian Paintbrush.
27. Meriadoc the Brave facing fear of water in his hair and potential "things in the water that will bite me" to gradually wade into the gentle waves up to his shoulders. Made me so proud and he loved it!
28. Itty bitty crabs all over the place! *skitter skitter*
29. Pippin's "baby dance"
30. Quiet time at the pool with Merry
31. Beach walks with Bella
32. Coffee and cinnamon rolls on the balcony, shared with baby bird Pippin.
33. Return road trip, now with even more autumn color and cooler weather to match.
34. Pippin singing along with the music, at least half a song behind.