Traveling Light

Posted July 27th, 2014 in Uncategorized by Mitsy

Truthfully, I’m not the best traveler in the world.

I know this because I’ve traveled a lot and I’ve met people who are great at it. Real naturals. I’ve met travelers who are so physically sturdy they could drink a shoebox of water from a Calcutta gutter and never get sick. People who can pick up new languages where others of us might only pick up infectious diseases.

— Elizabeth Gilbert in Eat, Pray, Love

While Drex took the girls to jiu jitsu, I had a quiet house to pack and focus. We decided to “travel light”, which now means: two carry-on suitcases, one activity tote bag, one checked suitcase (to transport large-fluid-ounces of sunscreen, bug spray, and kaopectate), along with my backpack, Drex’s backpack, and a travel-size guitar. Oh, and two booster seats. And two umbrella strollers. (Last time Drex and I went to Southeast Asia, before we were married or had any kids, we just brought along two backpacks— but now there are two more Adventure Buddies, and this is their first really big adventure like nothing they’ve done before, and so we want to create a precedent of joy to inspire a lifetime of travel).

I’ve been planning different super-secret “busy craft” activities (with things like peel-and-stick gems and washi tape— materials the girls don’t normally use) and building up anticipation around all the fun we’ll have on the plane! Meanwhile, Drex has been acquiring and loading apps onto their iPads for what I’m hoping will be Total Entertainment Zone Out, at least for some portion of our Chicago to Tokyo leg of infinity hours.

Apart from the super-secret activities, I’m very proud of my “snack kits.” For example, we have Goldfish crackers, a squeezie apple pouch, and five M&Ms. Then we have a tuna-and-cracker box, another squeezie apple pouch, and five more M&Ms. Okay, not the most healthy (or creative)—I also regret the massive packaging waste in the name of Convenience— but well-fed girls are happy girls in my experience.

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Honey Harvest

Posted July 27th, 2014 in Uncategorized by Mitsy

We went with some friends to La Ferme Quinn to learn about a “modern” working hive and how the honey gets harvested from these screens called “supers.” The most stunning bits of trivia I learned today was that honeybees need two MILLION flowers to produce one POUND of honey. And in her entire lifetime, a worker bee gathers less than a TEASPOON of honey. In the future, I’m going to lick every fallen drop of honey off my plate— it’s some bee’s life work!

We tasted the raw honey, ate a packed lunch, and then got busy picking blueberries (which we’ll eat or freeze before our trip— but my bet is on EAT).

Today’s fun and games means tomorrow is all about SERIOUS packing, cleaning, and getting ready for the great ADVENTURE!

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Ruthsteam Adventure Buddies!

Posted July 21st, 2014 in Uncategorized by Mitsy

It all began in early July when I discovered an amazingly talented freelance graphic designer on Pinterest named Brian Steely. So I e-mailed him and asked if he’d be interested in a small project to design a family seal for us. He said yes. So we brainstormed, and Derek came up with an idea:

… some sort of campfire. A campfire is made during an outdoor adventure— it’s a place where adventurers come together, share stories, make plans, rest, and prepare themselves for the adventures ahead. The act of building and maintaining a campfire is also a very communal activity— gathering wood, building the fire, and tending the flames. Finally, a campfire really only happens out away from the comforts of home— those who share a campfire are sharing in a commitment to venture into the unknown in some significant way.

I knew he’d hit upon the perfect image. So I shared this vague concept and some info about our family with Brian and he e-mailed me his first version (posted here). We gave our feedback and on his second try (posted here), Brian just absolutely nailed the design with a circular badge rich with symbolism.

We got the family seal files yesterday. Over the weekend, I found an absolutely highly-recommended Montreal vinyl T-shirt printing service— Black Alien run out of Mohammed’s apartment on Sherbrooke. We got to bring in our own T-shirts, so the girls have sizes that fit them perfectly and I have a maternity top! Mohammed provided same-day service on a small batch order and produced really fantastic T-shirts for our trip next week. Here we are in our travel adventure outfits for the trans-Pacific flight (we can do!).

The girls love the design SO much. Sonya’s giving it a big hug on the grass. This summer, on a family walk, she came up with our motto: “We can do.” And she feels a sense of pride and ownership over the design. But of course, credit goes to Brian for his amazing talent, creativity, and workmanship! It was such a pleasure to work with him! So happy with this amazing design!

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Sonya’s Birthday Day

Posted July 16th, 2014 in Uncategorized by Mitsy

After the weekend festivities, we kept Sonya’s actual birthday day simple and family focused. She woke up to find a package from Dida and the first clue of a scavenger hunt that led to some special birthday stickers which the girls immediately used for some multimedia art (scanned below: Sonya singing, Leena standing next to a table of treats).

And there’s a picture of me and my girls and my baby boy bump in the kitchen. 23 weeks & stretching out my regular tops over maternity bottoms.

So many fun little memories I wish I had more time to write about:

  • going to the girls’ daycare to help with an electronics activity (started off as a metal brad & paper clip circuit to light up an LED and ended up being a tape an LED around a small round battery when the kids’ fifteen minute attention span maxed out, but they all seemed happy taping the glowing LEDs to their t-shirts and pretending to be robots)
  • grabbing a quick bite with D at Wilensky’s lunch counter, serving their special since 1932 (when it cost a nickel)
  • making progress on my work projects— I want to make sure everything is ready for hand-off when I go on mat leave at the end of October
  • squeezing in a few hours to write— even if most of that time was spent staring off into space trying to come up with good character names
  • receiving a special balloon delivery from Uncle J and Auntie M
  • remembering to take the roasted sweet potatoes out of the oven before the smoke detector went off (after they’d been in there over an hour at 400 degrees)
  • hearing D and L chat while melon balling two halves of a watermelon— so sweet; wish I could remember every word, but all I’m left with is an image and a feeling of wholesome contentment
  • having Sonya’s requested birthday dinner: baked salmon, carrots, and celery with hummus, brown rice, and those sweet potatoes (sprinkled with fresh windowsill rosemary and oregano) with ice cream smoothies!
  • eating cupcakes!
  • opening another package from Grandmama, Grandpapa, and Uncle W
  • FaceTiming with family
  • getting a lower back massage with three pairs of hands
  • Candle Time
  • quiet evening, talking with my D— now each of us at our computers and me soon to go to sleep :)

D just updated his blog: here and here — he is such a keenly observant writer and he captures a different dimension of the girls’ life and our life. I enjoy hearing his viewpoint and figuring out what happens on my Monday nights out.

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Posted July 15th, 2014 in Uncategorized by Mitsy

She loves the color purple, My Little Pony, Star Wars, and The Lego Movie. She knows how to write her name and her sister’s name. She can climb anything, including No Parking sign poles, and slide down them like a firefighter. She knows all the lyrics to the soundtrack for Frozen as well as far too many Katy Perry songs. She loves going to Yeh, this frozen yogurt bar where she gets to add toppings. Her favorite flavors are “original” and chocolate. Sometimes when she wants attention or affection, she turns into a cat. She refuses to cut her bangs. I put a clip in her hair before daycare, but I know she takes it out right after drop-off and lets her hair hang in her eyes, because she doesn’t mind it hanging in her eyes, and in fact, that’s the way she prefers it.

She can peel and stick on her own Band Aids. We go through a lot of Band Aids. Which comes with being adventurous, daring, and carefree. She eats mint leaves out of the neighbor’s garden and rubs her hands on the rosemary on our kitchen windowsill. Her favorite chore is helping me set the table. Her least favorite chore is picking up her Legos from the living room floor. She can eat as many berries as I’m willing to put in front of her. She could probably eat Cheerios for every meal.

She observes so many things about the world and people and events around her. She wants to play the cello in school since she can’t play tuba yet. She likes to sleep belly down with her head right against the fan. Every morning I have to remind her “Quiet feet! Quiet feet!” because of the downstairs neighbors. When she runs, she says, “I’m the fastest! You can’t catch me!”

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Hard to believe…

Posted July 14th, 2014 in Uncategorized by Mitsy

… but Sonya is almost five and we had her birthday party today with balloons, chocolate waffles, maple syrup, blueberries, sausages, bacon, hardboiled eggs, fresh bagels, cream cheese, orange juice, homemade chocolate cupcakes, a soldered LED number 5 topper, handmade artisanal popsicles, My Little Pony plates/cups/napkins/streamers/rings/hair clips/goodie bags, and lots of good friends crammed into our home because of the rain foiling our sunny park plans.

These milestone events help me take stock. How can it be that this little baby will be starting school at the end of the summer? How can it be that this little baby is now wearing that purple dress?

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Three little things that amused me

Posted July 9th, 2014 in Uncategorized by Mitsy

(1) The girls made swings for their new stuffed cats from Dida. It’s now become a semi-permanent exhibit in the puppet theater.

(2) When I have to enter or exit the kitchen, I often need to crawl through a Sonya/Leena tunnel. Sometimes I lie on my back and scoot myself through to save my knees and get a lovely view of those grinning faces.

(3) Sonya’s marker drawing (in July) of her and Leena sleeping in bunk beds on Christmas Eve while Santa brings them presents. Ho ho ho!

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Baby Carriers

Posted July 8th, 2014 in Uncategorized by Mitsy

The girls’ reward for (1) Leena becoming fully potty trained and (2) Sonya coaching her through the one-month process was each of them getting (1) an umbrella doll stroller and (2) a baby doll that opens and closes its eyes (which, by the way, I find creepy). The girls are such attentive caretakers, practicing for baby brother’s arrival in November. They nurse, they burp, and they vaccinate their dolls frequently each day.

They also “remember” how I wore them in front carriers and have been asking and asking for doll carriers of their own. I found a sweet pattern. The girls chose their scraps of fabric. Then weeks rolled by. Summer is not a crafty time for me.

Saturday night, before his flight to California, Drex “volunteered” to be my ironing guy, which made sewing carriers fun and fast. I finished them this morning between breakfast and going to work, and the girls were giddy with joy.

According to the afternoon Molly Ann report, Leena even apparently slept with her doll & carrier during naptime. I’ve just been reflecting on how different it’s going to be this third time around with our new baby. Two devoted helpers! An established family routine! But no less exciting, no less incredible, no less strangely mystical, slightly terrifying, and suddenly life-shifting.

We’re all anticipating “our baby” being born in less than sixteen weeks, which seems far and soon at the same time. This past week my belly “popped” and Sonya said, “You look like you ate a kettlebell.” On the plus side, when I ride the bus, people automatically stand up to give me a seat now, which is especially nice during rush hour at the end of a workday.

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Our Family

Posted June 28th, 2014 in Uncategorized by Mitsy

From right to left, in order of decreasing size, we have: Daddy, Mommy, Sonya, Leena, and Baby to Come (who is already a cherished member of the family), marker on paper by Miss Leena, age 3.

And not to forget the feline member of our family: here is Skywalker, marker on paper by Miss Sonya, age nearly 5.

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Saving Ducks

Posted June 24th, 2014 in Uncategorized by Mitsy

Drex, Sonya, and Leena helped save a mama duck and her cute little ducklings by shepherding them across the park to the mountain. The poor Duck Family was lost in the city and needed to be led back to water, shelter, and safety.

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