Thursday, April 30, 2009

Okagesama de Joyce

1. For a somewhat newly discovered obsession hobby, that brings me joy.

2. For a life so blessed that my sleepless nights were spent stressing over whether I had enough yarn to finish the sweater.

3. For an outlet and distraction in the moments when life doesn’t feel so blessed.

4. For an internet community that came through when I indeed ran out of yarn.

5. For friends to sit and chat and knit and vent with.

6. For being in the position to knit this sweater in the first place. This sweater was made for Warm Woolies, an organization that provides warm clothing for children living in orphanages in (among other places) Russia, Mongolia, China and Reservations in the United States.

7. For beautiful daughters who are (mostly) willing to model my creations.

8. For Someone who, despite my incompleteness and flaws (like that sweater) thinks I’m ok anyway.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Okagesama de Mollie

Top left:
I, Husband scraped and painted this old iron glider that we inherited from my great-great-aunt. Once it was white, then teal, then red. Now its a perfect glossy grey. I love it.
More things I'm grateful for: red shoes, red helmets, warm weather to rock outside, and a sibling to lean against.

Top Right:
I am grateful for this tree that is on my route to Target and Barbara's house. It surprises me every time I come over the hill.

Bottom left:
Behind our house is a weird array of power lines and tree branches and it causes me constant worry. I feel bad for the trees that are groomed every year to make way for our I feel guilty in the backyard then come inside and turn on my computer that's connected to the Internet and blog about it? I've got some issues to work out.
In the picture, this chunk of tree got caught in the mix and has been suspended there for the 2 years we've lived in this house. It makes me tilt my head in surprise every time I notice it.

Bottom right:
Tulips. Of course I'm grateful for tulips. Even if I did end up with 80 bulbs from the preschool fundraiser I should have never committed to in the first place.

1. Kids and Glider,
2. Favorite Tree,
3. Balancing Log,
4. Tulips

Okagesama de Megan

In Kansas, the sunrises and sunsets are breathtaking. One of the photos capture an early sunrise - the colors drew my attention. Spring storms provide a dramatic backdrop to normally boring objects, and after one particularly violent morning, the sky opened up and my son and I went on a walk. There are two photos that show this adventure.

We have a fish pond and a boat that floats on top. The frogs have come out and dutifully perch in the boat. I call them "captain frogs."

I also attached 2 other photos, one of spring flowers and the other of a mother goose setting on her eggs. I found her in the parking lot of my bank nesting in a landscape island. As she settles down, she looks right at me.

I am thankful for the beauty of life. I am moved by nature and her power.

1. Early Sunrise,
2. Tress After Storm,
3. Field After Storm,
4. O Captain, My Captain,
5. Goose,
6. Spring Flowers

Okagesama de Mary

1. Colors,
When I was a little girl it seemed we were always in a place called
Huntsville Decorating. This pic is in Cabiness in Tuscaloosa - also a
small sort of local paint type place. I just love all the colors, and I
love that you can't seem to select, or choose, or really control much in
life, but by gosh thankfully one can pick one's own wall color!

2. Coffee Maker,
This is my new coffeemaker - it is more than any normal person would
ever want or need, but I am not normal when it comes to coffee. I look
forward to my morning coffee a little too much! This maker has a burr
grinder and a bean hopper! I need all the help I can get in the
mornings. So, I would say "thanks to you, o great coffeemaker, I'm

3. No H,
This is my gym - I had no idea I'd be thankful for a gym membership
one day, but I am. Long story. It's a super-friendly place and I just
love it there. I like this shot because the "H" just fell off. I also
like the old truck that happened to be in the pic. They don't make any
automobiles in that color anymore for sure!

4. Irises
Finally, I thank God for irises. To me they seem both delicate and
strong. I love them.


I've been thinking about conjuring a little gratitude in my daily life.
In thinking about it (which is typically a long process before actually doing it), I came across the Japanese word Okagesama (sometimes Okagesama de) which translates into several phrases expressing gratitude in English.

A simple google will teach you that Okagesama can mean one of the following:

Thanks to...
Thanks to the shadow of...
I'm fine, thanks.
I'm fine, thanks to you.
I am what I am because of you.
Thanks to you, I'm fine.
Thanks to God (of whatever powers that be).
Thankfully/Thanks to God, I'm fine.

A few friends and I spent a week taking pictures that met one or more of these translations. Within this simple exercise in awareness, we found a great deal of gratitude and connection.

The following posts will be what we noticed, experienced and photographed.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Nine Reasons You Should Have Dinner With Us

I am convinced that every human being, no matter the age, has a witching hour at some point in the day.

Since my two have given up their naps, the witching hour of 5p-7p has returned from the infant days. Here are some of the things we have been crying real tears about and yelling during that time frame:

1. I want to fly! (real tears on that one)

2. My hair hurts.

3. I can't walk anymore.

4. You are not my best friend.

5. I'm not inviting you to my birthday party.

6. Mom, you are giving me SUCH a headache. (for real?)

7. Go back to Time Out! (Svea, speaking to the kitchen towels as she shoves them back and forth on the towel rack)

8. I don't ever want to grow up because I love this Alabama football jersey! (Thank you, Anil, for the #8 Julio jersey)

9. I can't eat this because you put it on my plate upside down.

Seriously, people.

So here are some Easter pictures I just got developed from the film camera, in attempt to redeem ourselves.
These were taken NOT during the Witching Hour but during the sweet Before Chapel Hour when donuts are imminent:

Happy Season of Easter, people.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Does The Tooth Fairy Bite?

Last night Henry went to bed with a very wobbly tooth and asked me if the Tooth Fairy was coming tonight.
I said No, not tonight.
So he said he didn't want her to come in his room because she was going to bite him.
Made sense to me.

Then this morning, it was even more wobbly and while eating his cereal, I heard him make a spitting noise then the tinkle of his tooth hitting the floor.

I'm not sure I had imagined that he would lose his first tooth by spitting it out.

He was so excited though and got a special certificate at school and everything.

Svea, for her part, threw up in the kitchen before breakfast and then wanted a quesadilla.

Big day in our house.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

And He's Off!

Henry decided the other day that he wanted to take the training wheels off of his bike.
When this kid decides he's going to do something athletic, dude, he just DOES IT.
It's unbelievable.

After 30 minutes, he was all on his own. A bit wobbly, but doing it.

Then he was starting and stopping on his own and turning like a pro.

He had so much fun and was so proud of himself that he was unbelievably nice to everyone the rest of the night. He didn't even hit his sister in the bathtub. Or steal her toys. What the what? All we need to do is hit a major milestone each day to keep this kid being nice to others.

And the stickers 81 are ones he put on his helmet to make it more like a race car driver. I think I, Husband found the stickers in an old CD labeling kit.

Hooray for Henry!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Three Bats in a Cave

Henry drew three bats in a cave this morning. He named them Honey, Shoco and Inn.

Maybe I, Husband and I should have a talk about appropriate pet options before we ask Henry and Svea what they would like...

All I Need... this Spiderman surf board, this dining room chair, this ottoman, this knight's helmet, these safety goggles, and this red blanket to have my race.

It's the little things, isn't it?

Robin Hood Henry

Can't watch a movie without dressing up like the main character. Duh, Mom.

Just a Watch, Not a Warning

So it was snowing, maybe some mixed in slushy rain, and a possible tornado on the way, But Henry had just picked out his very own umbrella at the store and had to try it out. With no jacket or socks on, of course


Tuesday, April 07, 2009


Last week, I got to to spend a day in Chicago visiting with my brother and some of his colleagues and students. A group of students in the school where he teaches in Singapore, SOTA, came to visit and collaborate with students at The Chicago Academy for the Arts.

Thursday night, some teachers at CAA and my brother and I enjoyed dinner together, then went to the top of the Hancock building so we could get a glimpse of the layout of downtown and see shadows of all the amazing arhitecture in that city. It did not even matter that it was raining with harsh, abusive winds. It was still amazing.
Here are our silhouettes:

We spent the next morning going through the Buckminster Fuller exhibit at the Museum of Contemporary Art, oogling over Alexander Calder's mobiles and sculptures, then turning circles through the Fuller exhibit. I thought I was going to explode with inspiration.
That man was not only a genius in his integration of arts, science, technology, engineering, design, etc., he remembered to take his ideas a step further and require an investment in community by his community. He made his purpose about helping others, empowering humanity while honoring the environment.
The final paragraph on the wall of the exhibit was a reminder that Fuller brought us the vision, and now it was up to us to carry out his plan. What a calling.

And it was only 11:00 am.

We had lunch back at CAA and then I went to observe a ballet class while my brother help the Visual Arts students complete and hang their final exhibition.

I need to explain the next few hours very delicately...
Basically, American student etiquette is very different from Singapore student etiquette.
The differences between the two student styles was so apparent that there was no way teachers and staff and students couldn't talk about it. It was a great place for dialogue to begin.

Before the ballet class, I sat and watched the uniformed Singapore girls cackle, tease and gossip in the mirror as they applied fistfuls of hair gel to their hair and did then re-did their buns to be tighter, smoother. At the same time, the Americans were dressed in layers with holes and tears, ipod earphones in, doing sit ups next to each other, not speaking.

The teacher came in and shuffled the students so Sing and Americans were dispersed around the room. It was an Advanced Barre class which not only shows physical skill and mental agility, but exposes the various levels of respect students display. Not once was a Sing student disrespectful...

I left that class, sweaty from watching and went to check on the Visual Arts Department.
They had broken up in to 5 groups, mixed half Sing and half Americans, and they were hanging their projects from the previous 4 days. All of the images had to do with the similarities between Singapore and Chicago, between CAA and SOTA, between the two cultures. They wrote, drew, shaded and painted the tension between forced respect and freedom of expression, between various outlets of creativity and knowledge. There was a good bit of teasing about gum-chewing rules in Singapore and the general filth in the city of Chicago.
They were drawing and joking about all of the obvious differences and similarities that in general, no one knows how to bring up. It was beautiful to watch.

I was teary and inspired by the presentation the theater students did, by the Visual Arts exhibition, by the Chinese Dance the Sing dancers performed, etc. I was exhausted from the dynamics in every department. I can't imagine how tired my brother was after a week of creative diplomacy with teenagers.

While we were eating dinner that night, my brother and I watched his students dare each other to each a whole bowl of chili salsa. Then we watched one boy try on all his new purchases from Michigan Avenue, watched the girls shy away from eating too much in front of everyone - I was about to turn to my brother and comment on how teenagers are so similar no matter where you are in the world when one girl slumped down and exclaimed, "I miss Facebook!"


We just looked at each other and nodded. As it usually goes with my brother, words seemed superfluous.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

When We Can't Play Sports Outside...

...Henry has taken to drawing them. These are cracking me up.

Here's the football game ( I presume AL v AU):

And two baseball players getting ready for their championship game: