From the bottom of my heart, thank you for contributing to my brother’s classroom book fund. I was absolutely overwhelmed by the kind outpouring and donations. We had filled up his asking donation by 9:30 that morning. You guys made me cry happy tears which are so much better than the exhausted tears I’ve been shedding with the double whammy stomach flu that has run circles around my house the past two weeks.
You’ve given beautiful gifts to those young children. Thank you so much.
There is tremendous power in a book and it’s so wonderful for a child’s imagination. If I had the space, I would create a book nook for my girls. Here are some inspirational spaces…
I’d also then take over their book nook with a cup of hot tea, an oversized wool sweater and a good old fashioned paper back novel.
Without a doubt, my favorite moments of mothering come with a picture book, a well worn blanket, and both girls sitting on my lap. A part of the personal joy comes with my secret love of reading aloud. It’s as if I take to the theatre, and at times, the girls are my most captive audience. I whizz and I clang, I crash and I bang, I moo and I baa with the best of them.
Josie is at the age where she can really take in a story now. She wants to know where Miss Rumphius is going; she wants to hear why Mosquitoes buzz in your ear. Gracie, being so young, is eager to touch the pages of a book, interact with the binding and point at any dog on any page. When my girls are engaged in a book, so am I. In those moments, motherhood is everything that i dreamt for it to be. Our collective imaginations have taken flight thanks to the power of a book.
You see, I dreamt of motherhood involving loads of reading because that’s so much of what I was raised on. My older brother and I were a team: the munchkins. As wee little ones, my mom would habitually grab her munchkins, take us upon her lap and read to us for what felt like hours. Physically we were in Los Altos, California. Mentally, we were on the shores of Ireland, in the desert of the Middle East, or hiking the Himalayas. Our world opened thanks to our mom and the books she would read to us. And while we were mentally traveling the world, we were actually in what felt like the safest place in the universe: our mother’s lap.
My brother, my fellow munchkin, opens the minds and spirits of little kids every day, teaching 2nd grade in West Oakland – a highly impoverished area. For many of these children, through the power of the reading, this is their first flight around the world. And for some, school is the place equivalent to my mom’s lap: it is their safe haven.
Being the caring, sensitive man who my brother is, he wants nothing else than to help his students open their minds at the foundation of their youth and to help them to succeed in this mind boggling thing called life. My brother is succeeding because he’s an excellent teacher.
However, he could use our help. He recently opened a Donors Choose page requesting more books for his classroom. He has no idea that I’m writing this post. But I thought we could help a brother out. Joe gives his students three opportunities every day to choose a book from their classroom library to read by themselves or with a partner. At the back of each student’s chair is a sack containing five books that they have each picked out at their own level. Just imagine how they must cherish picking those books out. Joe and the kids switch out their books twice a week.
The catch is that they’ve read through all of their books. And while reading a book time and again has it’s comforting quality, there is nothing quite like reading a new book and sparking a new wondrous adventure.
So, dear lovely readers, I turn to you. I’d ask that you consider giving a little to my brother’s fund here so he can fill up every corner of his classroom with books for his kids.
You can donate here.
As I mentioned in this post, we had my playgroup over to our house for dinner without any children. Since we do meet once a week with seven kids, ages two and under, everything is always baby proofed, kid friendly, battery operated and plastic; I thought the dinner should be the antithesis of all of that. I went white, lace, candles and centerpiece flowers called “Love Lies Bleeding” – the most kid unfriendly table I could come up with.
I went with a white linen tablecloth (from Ikea). I got three yards of lace from JoAnne’s fabrics on top of that, then I added our wedding china and Moscow Mule cups. The silver is actually gold plated that I scored at a pac heights thrift shop years ago; the napkins are from Cost Plus but no longer sold there. The candelabras were a treasured wedding gift. Down the center was eucalyptus garlands and a vase with “lies bleeding” flowers with pillar candles mixed in.
A pulled back pick from our house so you can see Graham’s bench in with the table.
The night was a blast. We pushed to the max of babysitters’ deadlines and got after it. Every candle was burned down to its end so I think that’s a sign of a night well lived.
I came across a Tumblr feed where practically every image spoke to me. I thought I’d share some of my favorite photos here for some visual delight for your Friday.
Gary McBournie Design
I mean talk about design inspiration! It’s as if this tumbler feed: Decor Design Review, popped into my head and brought everything I would ever want to real life. Each image is better than the next. If you like updated traditional with touches of whimsy you can get lost on this feed, here. It’s good.
Sorry for the premature post yesterday for those who receive my blog via e-mail. A little child crawled over and hit ‘publish’
This Friday night we are having my playgroup over for dinner. We meet once a week, rain or shine, exhausted or semi-awake, unshowered or put together, good mood or bad. Thursday mornings mean caffeine, seven kids under the age of three and plenty of stories to gab about. I look forward to Thursday mornings every week. It’s my lifeline.
We’ve been discussing the notion of meeting outside the realm of kid crying, toy inundated, mornings. The thought came across of adults only dinner with husbands and wine. Imagine that.
So, I’m thinking for the tablescape, to get as far away from kiddie as possible, go with an all white table, laden with candles. Because what says ‘no kids allowed’ more than white and fire?
I’m currently thinking: lace runner, eucalyptus centerpiece and maybe even black candles. Black is so not my color of choice ever and I’m not a big lace girl but I’m feeling like changing things up.
Here’s some inspiration:
These images are most likely all from weddings so imagine a much more toned down version. But, I’m excited to get to work on my next tablescape.
Labor Day marks the end of routine free mornings transcending into wishy washy afternoons meandering into evenings that stir well beyond bed time.
As if in utter protest to the packed fall and strict schedules ahead, Graham joined us for the final two weeks of summer in which we stuck strictly to leisure.
We took to the road, rolling past vineyard after vineyard down south to Santa Ynez valley for a family vacation. Here we joined Graham’s parents, sister, brother-in-law and their two kids for five days of “ranching it”.
Mornings did come sooner than they should have with Grace waking before the sun rose. However her parents were in action protestation and so we stuck to the bed for morning family cuddles and coos. Once the sun began to rise through the misty morning we got up to a feast of fresh baked cinnamon rolls and piping hot corned beef hash.
With full bellies our little family meandered through the wheat colored grasslands of the valley; Graham and I watching as our girls interacted with the wonders of nature.
We returned to a better rested Belchers crew where we would discuss our options for the day – be it horse back riding, tennis playing or a light swim. All was done in a lackadaisical manner, thus fulfilling our motto of slow and easy does it.
Evenings were meant for freshening up into classy frocks to sip cocktails while watching the horses feed and the sun retire.
The trip was a glorious rotation of adventures all with proper respites in between.
We returned home for a few days to be spent in the comfort of our own cocoons. The girls embraced the familiarity of their room and rewarded us with sleeping in mighty late (7:30). Graham and I snuck away for a day date, took to hiking in the hills near the Pachetti Winery and then went wine tasting, of course. We hosted my mom before she jetted off to Europe with a carefree backyard dinner.
After four days at home, the pull of adventure got us up and moving again…albeit, slowly. We returned to the car for another trip this time way up north to Mount Shasta.
Some believe there are lemurians in Mount Shasta. After five days of complete bliss up there, I can’t help but wonder that they’re right. Or perhaps all the collective crystal shops pulled on my inner chakras. Whatever nonsense the hippies believe, they may just be onto something; Shasta begs for complete and total exhales.
We were quickly known by name at the local coffee shop, welcoming us in with sweet warm mochas. Once charged by caffeine, we’d take to the mountain where we’d either find new paths to follow or recommit to the old faithful hikes that have nurtured our entire relationship.
That may read a hyperbole – hikes nurturing our relationship. But there is one spot Graham and I have hiked since the beginning. We came just as wee ones dating and sharing our separate dreams of the future that were beginning to collide into one. We hiked there desperate for a child, discussing, praying and debating our options. We hiked there with Josie as a beautiful nine month old, passing her from one doting parent to the other. We hiked again this year as a family of four. Grace strapped to my chest with Graham following behind my footsteps, Josie strapped to his back. When we arrived to the top of our hike, there was a native american shaman singing. The girls sat and listened, intuitively quiet. It was a moving moment where I took the time to be thankful for all I have; my precious girls; my supportive husband.
The after hike glow lead to food comas and then leisurely naps. The house would fall silent and still as can be from 2:00 to 4:00. Restful peace. Then it was time for one last outing, usually blackberry picking and rock skipping on the sacramento river. Evenings brought on dinner out at easy restaurants in town then a walk home. Baths for the girls, followed by peaceful reading of books which lent to shut eye much sooner than at home.
The past 14 days have splendidly collided into one another and drifted us along to today. Schedules, work, school, business, volunteering, cleaning, decorating all calls louder than we can ignore. So, I say farewell to you dog days of summer. Thanks for being so damn rad.
After I hit publish on my last post, a wave of inspiration took over me. I reached deep into the dark, cobwebby depths of my closet to the tiny crevice of non-wrinkled, non-stained clothes; I went beyond a shower to the land of personal care involving make up and blow dry. Then, I fled from a teething toddler and another independent toddler, leaving them behind with their “vacationing” daddy. I sped on up to the land of ikats, silks, cottons and brocade: the san francisco design center. A spot where people watching is almost as good as the textiles themselves. An oasis from the t-shirt wearing techies, where we discuss the ancient art of textiles, jotting down patterns with a pleasingly archaic pencil.
A woman on a mission, knowing the family left behind had an expiration time and that I would miss them dearly, I hit up my favorite spots: schumacher, quadrille, lewis and sharon and madeline weinrib.
And now I present to you: a decorator confused. The land of options:
My ode to Josie’s outfit with Peter Dunham’s Starstruck as the main fabric, pillows in coral piped in a rope like piping.
My blue, cream and brown moment with Quadrille New Batik as the big cushion fabric and then ikat and stiped as pillows.
My blue, cream and poppy moment with Madeline Weinrib as the big cushion fabric and then striped and poppy welt as accent.
I took all the scheme photos outside so we could see how things read outside in the bright daylight sun. I believe we have actually decided on a fabric. I’ll let you know as soon as it’s ordered.