Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Fun in Seattle on Sunday

We had planned to head to the Woodland Park Zoo on Sunday, but then we discovered how much the zoo charges in the summer. Even with our reciprocal zoo memberships, it would have cost us nearly $40 as a family (half of the usual $80 price). During the summer months (after May 1), they charge $17.75 for adults and teenagers and $11.50 for kids. They also do not sell family memberships (only individual memberships). It wasn't even the money so much as our disgust at the high prices! These prices completely exclude lower-income families. It's galling.

We ended up at Greenlake Park, where it started out cold but gradually warmed up and the sun came out. The kids had a fun time, and we didn't need the zoo!
My daredevil

And my teen
As we got ready to walk around the lake, I spied the paddle boats and expressed my desire to go out on the water. My dear husband is not inclined toward water unless he is swimming in it, but Nadine was game. We rented a boat for an hour and took turns taking the kids out into the lake. They loved it! Next time we might have to get two boats so they can each be out for an hour.
Nadine and Kieran in the back row

Me and Daniel in the front
The lake

Sun came out!

Second round of boaters

Then we went back to the playground for a bit more playtime.
Time for sunglasses!

Our sweet  boys

With my honey
Then we drove up to Woodinville to spend a wonderful evening with my dear friend Nancie and her talented husband Dave. It had been far too long since we'd seen them, and we had a fabulous time catching up and eating dinner.
Dave is one of those naturally gifted pianists who doesn't read music

Dancing to the Beatles
Dave was a complete idol in the boys' eyes...not only did he play baseball for the Huskies, but he also can play the piano with his nose (or his fingers!) and is studying martial arts. He is a ROCK STAR.
Daniel playing one of his compositions

Nancie relaxing
Nick and Kieran performing, as usual

Nick doing a play


With my beloved friend and birthday sister Nancie
So much fun! Thanks, Nancie and Dave, for letting us descend on you with SIX BOYS (well, eight including the men)!

Fun with cousins and sisters in Puyallup

We headed up to Puyallup for Memorial Day weekend. We hadn't visited my sister and her family for several months, so we figured a visit was long overdue!

Saturday we got to see our nephew Ryan play baseball
Mike and Nadine in the stands

Kieran and Garrett
After the game we headed to the Puyallup library and farmers market.
All six boys in the lobby of the library

Shave ice at the market--
it was a beautiful day!
David and Nadine

Me and Mike
All weekend the boys were desperate to try out Nadine and David's big jacuzzi fact, they even cleaned it first! They didn't get to try it out until the final day of our visit. 
Fun in the bath

Bubbles made it really exciting!

Five boys in a bathtub!
Nicholas in particular was terribly sad when we left on Monday. It's always a shame to part...the kids always have such a fantastic time together. They are all best buddies.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Remembering my favorite nun

Mike's aunt Mary Gilmartin, otherwise known as Sister Genevieve or "Aunty Gena," as she was known by her nieces and nephews and their families, died today at the young age of 75. She had been failing for some time, with both dementia and heart problems, so it wasn't a particular surprise...but that makes it no less easy to bear.

When we first got married in 1990, it took me some time to feel comfortable as part of Mike's family. His Aunty Anne (who married a Canadian) came to our wedding and I think was quite delighted that Mike met an American, because it meant he would be living closer to her. His aunties in Britain, though, didn't know what to make of me and didn't seem too crazy about my appearance in his life, for the following reasons: 
  • I dashed all their last hopes for Mike to become a priest
  • I was American, which also meant that Mike would be less likely to live in the UK
  • I didn't change my name when we got married (yikes! a feminist!)
  • I was...gasp! A protestant!
However upset they might have been at our match (Mike's most critical aunt was extremely unkind to me the first time we met but softened after I produced a male heir to carry on the name!), Aunty Gena was never anything but gracious, loving, and accepting of me. I loved her fun spirit, sense of humor, and love of life. She was a true kick in the pants!  

She loved children--
here she is playing "Ring around the rosy" with great nieces and nephews

Circa 1993

Sisters Helen and Gena with their grand nieces Emily and Jenna
She dearly loved her family!

As a member of the Little Sisters of the Poor, she dedicated her life to taking care of the aged. I remember how delighted she was by: 
  • Buying perfume, lotion, and other luxuries for her little old ladies
  • Driving FAST! (and bragging about this!)
  • Whistling to a parakeet, who would sing back at her
  • A nice beef roast! (when we would go visit, the convent would put on traditional English dinners for her guests...and she would always enjoy eating special foods with us)
  • Introducing us to all of the other sisters and the elderly residents she took care of
  • Seeing women dress up (she told me she liked it when I wore a skirt or dress when we visited, because she lived vicariously through other women dolling themselves up)
  • Spending time with her family
  • Laughter and teasing
  • God, her order, and her calling
Visiting with Chris (age 3?)

Looks like I disobeyed her request to wear a skirt!

With Mike's mum and Chris

Aunty Gena moved around to various cities--when we first got married she was in Liverpool, then in Preston (near Blackpool), and at the end of her life in Scotland (where she grew up). Sadly, the last time we were in the UK we didn't see her because she was so much farther away. The last time we saw her was her 50th jubilee (50 years as a nun). It was also the last time we saw Mike's Aunty Helen (who died a few years ago), Aunty Kath, who is one of the two last survivors of the siblings, and his cousin's daughter Jenna (who tragically died three years ago). The one saving grace about this is that they all seemed healthy and happy at the time--as you can see in the photo below--and we can treasure those memories. They loved to laugh and joke!
Mike's mum, Aunty Helen, Aunty Gena, and Aunty Kath
With baby Kieran and my sister-in-law Shemara at the Jubilee

Our family with Aunties Gena and Helen
Aunty Gena shattered any illusions I had of nuns being serious, staid, or uptight. She is the reason I get agitated to hear about the Vatican's attacks on women religious. She gave up her own life and personal freedom to service to God and the aged.

We feel very sad at her passing and will miss her presence dearly. I will always be grateful for her embrace of this American Lutheran feminist agitator.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Looking for a way to show NC pastor Worley that God means love, not hate?

If you are anything like me, you are feeling righteous indignation about that North Carolina pastor's rant about wanting to put gays and lesbians behind electric fences. You are embarassed to call yourself a Christian because of the hateful words of the likes of Pastor Worley and his uneducated, ignorant flock at the Providence Road Baptist Church in Maiden, North Carolina.

How does one even begin to respond to this hate, ignorance, and twisted words in the name of God? Well, here's your answer:

A North Carolina pastor suggests on the that we make a donation to a local or global GLBT group in Pastor Worley's name.
"Not only will it be a wonderful opposing response to Pastor Worley, but it does several other wickedly beautiful things. One, it helps fund organizations who are actively working against this kind of exclusion and bullying. Two, it puts Pastor Worley on their mailing lists!!! And, three, it can really show Pastor Worley and others what creative, nonviolent resistance looks like–and that's biblical."

The site lists a bunch of suggestions--we just made a donation to Believe Out Loud. (Commenters have added suggestions such as PFLAAG, Barack Obama's campaign, the Southern Poverty Law Center, etc.). After you make the donation, send a postcard to Mr. Worley, telling him what you have done.

This kind of activism is pure brilliance, and I'm going to look for other opportunities to employ it in the future!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Movin' on up (preschool promotion)

Yesterday Nicholas had his preschool promotion ceremony, bringing to an end the six years Mike and I have had children in preschool. Overall, it's been an excellent experience for both us and our kids.

Chris attended the wonderful Multnomah Playschool and had two outstanding teachers. We switched to Small Friends for Kieran because as we were getting ready to enroll we found out I was pregnant with Nicholas...and we needed something with less of a parent commitment. We made wonderful friends at Multnomah Playschool and got to know the other families really well...we made long-lasting friendships. That didn't happen at Small Friends; it was much less of a community feeling, and more of a place where the kids went to school.

However, Small Friends worked perfectly for our growing family because it wasn't a full coop experience, and it was easier with three children. (Some call it "coop light.") We volunteered regularly in the classroom and had a small job, but no parent meetings, fundraising, or auction commitments. Kieran and Nicholas both got to be in class with Teachers Sydney and Marah, both gifted teachers.

Both schools shared a heavy emphasis on play being the work of small children, which we fully supported and wanted for our children. Each worked well at different stages of our lives.

The kids did a little program for us. Nicholas has loved the music at Small Friends.
Nicholas was the only boy in a tie!
(He insisted.)

This boy has ALWAYS loved to sing!

They showed off a lot of advanced sign language!
 Here are some videos of two of their songs..."Popcorn Tree" and "If You Don't Want to Say Goodbye," which was Nick's favorite, and we heard it at home constantly! Watch how he's swaying back and forth during the song.

Nick with his grandparents

With Teacher Sydney

And Teacher Marah

And with best buddy Connor
After the promotion, Nick's special treat was a kids' meal and vanilla (or valilla, as he calls it!) milkshake at Burgerville!
With my big kindergartener!!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Mother's Day weekend, 2012

I'm still not quite back on blogging track because I've not been very timely in my posts. Life continues to be a bit overwhelming, with many family and friends going through tough times. Mother's Day weekend was hard in some ways--I was feeling down, and the kids squabbled every time I got in a vehicle with them, prompting me to shout and then feel guilty. I confessed this to a friend at church on Mother's Day, and she gave me a hug (relieved that she's not the only one who loses her cool occasionally!!). We grumpy moms have to stick together! :)

Fortunately, Mom, Nadine, and I had planned for a dinner out on Saturday night, and that was wonderful! We went to Isabel's Cantina in the Pearl, where we drank pear margaritas and each had the same meal (wild salmon), then shared a coconut flan for dessert. It was a lovely evening, with even lovelier company!!

Nadine and Mom

My gorgeous salmon before I devoured it
(the restaurant was open to the outdoors behind me)
The next morning at church was emotional, because our whole community has been reeling after our pastor's breast cancer diagnosis. I had been assigned to do the children's homily, and I had the children read a prayer our steering team had written for Pastor Laurie. They did an amazing job.

After church we had a nice lunch at my parents' house, prepared by the men. Fortunately that weekend was beautiful, so we were able to sit outside!

Mom, Nadine, me, and Trisha (my brother's girlfriend)
Stephen and Trisha
 The boys were very excited to give me their cards and presents.

Card from Chris
"After nearly 16 years, it's been a hell of a ride, but somehow we made it..."

Outside of Kieran's letter
"Warning: Live birds may fly out from packet"

"I love you more" is an inside joke...
Kieran always says that when I say goodnight to him,
as a sort of competition

Plate from Nick (that's our baby elephant Samudra taking a bath)
and birdhouse from Kieran

With my gorgeous sister

After lunch we raced off to the Jenkins Estate for the Barefoot Quilt Show. Clara Barefoot Sehorn is a family friend--she taught my parents to quilt after they retired, and the quilt festival is named in her honor. Clara moved to Olympia several years ago to be near family, so I hadn't seen her in several years. She celebrated 95 this year!

Clara with the boys
  The whole barn was brimming with gorgeous quilts, but I've included only a few here.
The barn full of quilts
Japanese motif


Another Japanese theme

This one made me think of our dear pastor and friend!

Me and Mom with Clara
I would have loved to stay a bit and walk around the Jenkins Estate grounds--it's where we had our wedding reception--but the boys raced back to the car. It's a good thing we headed back to my parents' house, because my sister and her family were still there (we thought they would have left while we were gone).
Annual Mother's Day portrait
A friend from Arizona was visiting for a few days, so the next day we met her and Mom and Dad in a park for a picnic.

Love this photo of my parents!

Chris and Mike

Me with Kathy
Happy Mother's Day a bit late!