2017 Stories – 12 – Nathaniel’s Valentine Too

A few weeks ago I posted the Valentine Nathaniel made for Paige, I wanted to make sure to also post the Valentine he received from his friend Emerson. It says: Dear Nathaniel, you are a sweet, awesome, fantastic friend. I like it when you smile because it makes me feel happy when you do it. I like your creative imagination because you can figure things out easily. From, Emerson.

Gotta love second graders. 

Stories from 2017 is a year-long project for 2017. You can read more about my projects for 2017 here.

2017 Stories – 11 – Inspiration Board

The March prompt for One Little Word 2017 was to put together an inspiration board. This is one of my favorite projects each year and this year was no exception. I love love love looking at this board. I love how shiny, mindful, love-filled, bold and open it feels to me. 

I use these boards as my computer background, i glue them to my notebooks, and i even use them as a wallpaper on my phone. A constant reminder of my inspiration for 2017.

Stories from 2017 is a year-long project for 2017. You can read more about my projects for 2017 here.

2017 Stories – 10 – Two Days in Los Angeles

Up until last week, my kids had never been to Disneyland. Or Disney-anything. When I was in sixth grade, my family went on this wonderful trip from Paris to New York to Orlando to Miami. It was a once-in-a-lifetime trip and I still remember it vividly. It was my first time in the United States. My first time in Disney World. And I loved every moment of it.

My parents did a similar trip with my sister’s kids a few years ago but Nathaniel had just been born so I couldn’t join. Almost eight years later, I still hadn’t taken either kid to a Disney Park and I really wanted to change that. I really wanted to go myself. I still find it all magical.

So I decided we would spend part of our Winter Break there. We drove down to Los Angeles and spent one day in Disneyland and one day at Universal Studios. It was an insane amount of walking and standing and just a lot of chaos in 48 hours but we did it!

David liked parts of Disneyland but on the whole preferred Universal. Nathaniel liked Harry Potterland and some of the rides at Universal but on the whole liked Disneyland better because it had a lot more rides. So I feel it was worth going to both (for our family.)

I wish I’d gone when the kids were a bit younger and might have found it a bit more magical. I will say that the highlight for both of the kids was the Electric Light Parade at the end of the Disneyland day. So there’s some magic left in both of them after all.

Here are some other photos from our adventure:

Stories from 2017 is a year-long project for 2017. You can read more about my projects for 2017 here.

2017 Stories – 09 – Nathaniel’s Valentine

Nathaniel’s class only did one valentine per kid this year. (woohooo!) which gave each kid time to personalize his valentines. Nathaniel got Paige. The night before, it was clear that he lost the one he’d been working on so we sat together and did an impromptu one! Here’s the cute little card he did. And I love what he wrote in the back.

Stories from 2017 is a year-long project for 2017. You can read more about my projects for 2017 here.

2017 Stories – 08 – 100 Equations that equal 100

Two weeks ago, Nathaniel’s class celebrated 100th day of school.

In preparation for this, each student was told to bring 100 of an item and then sort/group them in a way they chose. A few days before the assignment was due, Nathaniel asked me if I could email his teacher and ask if it would be ok for him to do something different. I asked him what he wanted to do and he said he’d like to do 100 equations that equal to a 100.

Teachers said it was ok (after they talked to him about how he planned to group it.) So this little boy and I wrote down 100 formulas which he grouped and put on a lovely poster.

I love my boy so much!

Stories from 2017 is a year-long project for 2017. You can read more about my projects for 2017?here.

2017 Stories – 07 – White Ribbon

Even though David stopped a while ago, Nathaniel is still continuing to go to swimming class. Despite a long lull last year, he’s been excitedly earning his ribbons. He earned his freestyle one just a few months ago and then the backstroke one just last week. My little boy is happy, joyous and now learning how to swim breast stroke.

I love you my sunshine.

Stories from 2017 is a year-long project for 2017. You can read more about my projects for 2017 here.

2017 Stories – 06 – Working on Lunch

For the last five years, my kids have been bringing lunch to school every day. My kids are picky with what they eat so our lunch was the exact same thing every day:

  • A danimal yogurt
  • A cheese stick (mozzarella for N and cheddar for D)
  • a few ritz or graham crackers
  • Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwich on white bread for D and just a jelly one for N
  • a banana for N and an apple for D
I know that doesn’t sound super-terrible but now that i’ve been reading up on food, here’s how I am breaking this down:
  • danimals has no actual yogurt in it, mostly chemicals
  • cheese stick is ok
  • ritz or graham crackers have no nutritional value and likely make my kids hungrier
  • PB&J – white bread I use has pretty much no nutritional value and a lot of scary stuff in it, both the PB and J is similar with tons of added sugar.
  • fruit is ok 🙂
They used to eat oatmeal (packaged) for breakfast and sandwiches and fruit for dinner.
Sooooo… as part of the work I started last summer, I’ve been working with my kids to eat better and more variety of foods. When the school year started we did a big makeover and bought some salad containers and my kids began eating salads. After reading Michael Pollan’s book last week, I decided that wasn’t enough and did an overhaul of all of their lunches. They still need a bit of work but I think we’re in a much better place. Here’s what they have now:
  • for main lunch:
    • spinach salad + shredded carrots
    • corn for N and goat cheese for D
    • strawberries+raspberries+black berries – i buy these at the farmer’s market weekly
    • organic turkey deli meat  – likely not good enough but not sure what else i can do at the moment
    • jelly sandwich on Dave’s Killer Bread – 21 Grains Thin Sliced
  •  for snacks:
    • grapes
    • cheese stick
    • an egg and peanuts for N
    • raisins for D (his school is nut free)
We’ve also changed up dinner to be broccoli, fruit, chicken, and then they can have their favorite dessert.  Breakfast is yogurt and bananas and granola for N.
This is not perfect in any way. Here are some issues I see with it:
  • it lacks variety. I have signed up for CSA and I will slowly introduce different things.
  • it’s high on fruits. this is not ideal but i’ve replaced all simple carbs with fruits. i think it’s ok for now. slowly we can increase the veggie to fruit ratio.
  • the deli meat is not ideal, i’d rather they have chicken or fish or some other protein (we already have a lot of dairy so i’d rather not add that.) they are still a bit too prickly with meat/fish so i am taking my time on that.
  • i’d like to find at least one more snack for David
  • i’m not fond of the jelly. it has a ton of added sugar, i’d like to find an alternative that’s healthier even if it’s still jelly.
These are the core things I’d like to work on at the moment. If we can increase the veggie variety to 5-6 instead of just spinach, carrots and broccoli (and corn for N), I’d be happier. I’d like to add zucchini, squash, green beans to the list at a minimum. I’d also like to do better on protein. Just those two would already make me happier.
Considering the fact that I don’t cook at all, I think this isn’t terrible. For every meal now, my kids are eating some fruit and they have dairy at breakfast and lunch and veggies at lunch and dinner. A marked improvement from last year.

Stories from 2017 is a year-long project for 2017. You can read more about my projects for 2017 here.

2017 Stories – 05 – Skiing for Two Days

I learned how to ski when I was 3 years old. I was never super-good at it and still am not. But I am comfortable skiing. I don’t overthink it, I don’t worry about it constantly like I do with most other things and it’s one of the few sports I know how to do. Even though it’s expensive, hard-work, and mostly a PITA, I want to make sure my kids get enough exposure to skiing at a young age that they can choose whether they want to continue or not. In the last few years, the snow here has been pretty bad so we haven’t been able to ski much. But this year the snow is wonderful. So this past weekend, when David’s school was closed for conferences, we decided to get in the car and drive to Reno so we could go skiing at Diamond Peak. It’s a smallish resort and if you’re a serious skier you’d probably not like it.

But for us, it’s just fine. The kids took day-long classes both days and Jake and I skied together. Even though both of the kids didn’t really want to go to school on the second day, they each made a lot of progress and have gotten closer to being better skiers. I usually tire by the second day and don’t feel like going the whole day, but I was ok this time an skied pretty much two full days. (Though we did take long lunches.)

All in all, it was a great two days where we each made some lovely progress. We also got to exercise all day, get some wonderful fresh air and sunshine and spend a lot of family time together. All in all, a lovely two days. Here’s to more skiing in 2017!

Stories from 2017 is a year-long project for 2017. You can read more about my projects for 2017 here.

2017 Stories – 04 – Makey Makey

One of the Christmas presents we got for Nathaniel was the awesome Makey Makey. He likes the idea of learning more about computer programming and is interested in hardware and software and we thought he’d like this simple but awesome one.

And he did.

We did the “play drums with the banana” and then the two of them did a big black button and played cookie game of some kind. Nathaniel even did the playdo challenge. This little thing is magic.

2017 Stories – 03 – Puzzles

I think I originally saw puzzles on Ali’s blog or instagram. I know she’s posted them before and for some reason this past October, I just decided I wanted to try them too. The last time I made a puzzle, I was around sixteen. All my puzzles were in Turkey and I didn’t even know how to buy one, where to buy one, which one to buy.

As it worked out, the week I was thinking about all this, my kids and I went to the local bookstore and found this wonderful puzzle on the Transit theme. Since I work on Google Transit, I decided it was serendipity. During Thanksgiving, I spent most of my moments working on that puzzle. And then I was hooked. Since then, I’ve done around ten puzzles.

The worst part of doing puzzles has definitely been the ache in my neck, arms, and back from all the bending over. At first, I was making them on the couch, which was likely the very worst position I could make them in and now I do them at the kitchen table but I still have quite a bit of pain after hours of sitting and leaning over.

On the up side, the best thing about them has been the sheer number of books I can listen to while I make puzzles. I love sitting at the table, drinking my tea and listening to a great book. I love the peace, the serenity. It’s become the thing I most look forward to in my weekend days. Certainly beats Candy Crush.

2017 Stories – 02 – Teaching Each Other

My boys each play an instrument. David started learning the guitar in the summer of second (or maybe third) grade. And Nathaniel started the piano just this past summer. Even though they wanted to play these instruments, I am constantly having to remind them to practice. It’s always met with much whining. But we still keep at it. And I absolutely adore the way in which my children can create music. It’s such a joy.

One of the greatest moments of the holiday break, for me, came when I told the kids they had to practice and after the whining and moaning, I joked that they were welcome to play each other’s instruments. Next thing I know, that’s exactly what they did! Nathaniel taught David how to play his song on the piano and David taught Nathaniel how to play the guitar (or tried to.)

It was the best moment, ever.

2017 Stories – 01 – One Little Word Class


I take a lot of classes each year. I take classes on self-reflection, classes about drawing, literature, mixed media, and whatever else I can get my hands on. I have found over the years that taking classes is a way for me to take the time to do the things I already want to do. If I decide I want to learn to sketch on my own, I might never make the time for it, but if I take a sketching class, I will take the time to do my homework, to listen to the lectures, and to practice. I am a dutiful student which means that taking classes is a good strategy for me to encourage myself to move in the direction I want.

Ali’s One Little Word is one of my very favorites. I’ve taken this course since she’s started offering it. Initially at Big Picture Scrapbooking and then on her own site. It has the magical combination of reflection, art, mixed media and scrapbooking. This is one of those classes where I might not learn a new skill each month, but I am learning how to live my life more intentionally. I am learning more about myself. I am learning more about how I want to live my life. I am learning to pause and reflect on my life while I am living it.

This class has never let me down. Here’s to starting the year intentionally.

Stories from 2017 is a year-long project for 2017. You can read more about my projects for 2017 here.