Saturday, May 30, 2009

Blueberries of Bluest Blue

Last year we discovered a charming and family-friendly u-pick blueberry farm down a hidden dirt path, tucked away from the bustle of Temecula. What a local treasure! Kate was seven months old when my mom and I picked a few pints last year and she spent most of the time snoozing in her stroller. This year, however, she was able to join us with her own bucket. Watching her delight made my heart soar! I love pure activities like this: family, sunshine, productivity, and fun all at once. We picked three pints and my mom picked four pints, and we have yet to decide what to do with them. My mom suggested a blueberry crumble; I am thinking of some muffins. My favorite treat in all the world this time of year is a handful of those fresh blueberries over vanilla frozen yogurt Hagen Dazs, topped with blueberry pollinated honey from the local bees. Sticky, sweet, blue, yummy cold clumps of heaven...

Blueberry Girl is ready with her bucket...

Walking toward the blueberry bushes...

Down the first row...

Learning the fruits of diligence

We will find and pick the blue ones...

There's some!

Precision with her little fingers...

Blueberry love

Picking with Amie.

I love you, little Blueberry Girl!

Friday, May 29, 2009

A Mother's Chorus

Last night during bathtime, as the sounds of the sprinklers pshh pshhed on the evening air and The Little Mermaid soundtrack was joyful noise in the playroom, Kate and I were having a conversation and playing when she said very clearly in reference to herself, "Not a baby."

She has been fascinated with the parent/baby relationship for about a month and a half, assigning her toys roles. She has two similar blue balls, one big and one small. She has been calling the bigger one the "mommy ball" and the smaller one the "baby ball." This analogy for size has been a useful teaching tool for her alphabetical letters, i.e. "Mommy 'B' and Baby 'b'. Lately she has assigned roles to the Hundred Acre Wood characters: Piglet is Mommy, Pooh is Daddy, and Tigger is Baby.

We have been reading older and older books which feature little girls, and often, their younger baby siblings. We read the Eloise Wilkin classic "Baby Dear" a few days ago, and then during her overnight with Amie, Kate and my mom read a story about a little girl who was going into her little girl bed. I know the baby vs. little girl concept has been on her mind...

So last night, Katie said, "Not a baby."

I responded (after repeating her words back to her, which I usually do both for clarity and so she can hear the sounds again) "Not a baby. Are you a baby?"

Kate replied, "No."

I asked, "Are you a little girl?"

Kate said, "Yes!"

I said, "That's right, you are a little girl now. You know how to do lots of things that babies can't do. I am proud of you, my little girl." Then we listed many "little girl" things Katie knows how to do.

All the while I was thinking, You will always be my baby no matter how old you get.

Watching Kate define herself and mark this physical and psychological moment in her life is fascinating. She knows at 19 months that she is not a baby anymore and she wants a label that celebrates her feeling of being bigger and more capable. Before I know it, she will be defining herself in ways that make her more and more independent...until one day, she has defined her life such that I will really only be a supportive and loving friend and spectator.

But she will always be my Baby Kate, if only in my own head and heart. And that I think, is the beautiful and difficult part of being a mother.

Baby Kate, a few weeks old

Little Girl Kate, yesterday morning

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Strawberry Creek Inn, 2009

Bill and I have just returned from our Anniversarymoon. Although it was a short getaway, the past 24 hours were exactly what we needed to rejuvenate and reaffirm our love for each other and the bond we will have forever in marriage. I am so glad Bill suggested it, especially since we missed going last year. As usual, Bill had ordered flowers and chocolates for our cozy room. Our romantic night included our yearly tradition of watching our entire wedding DVD, crying through our ceremony again, laughing at certain moments of the reception, etc. We still absolutely love our wedding---we think it was so "us." Every year, it seems more and more that way. I can't believe three years have passed. I couldn't help being a little maudlin about all of the sad family losses we have had in those years, but Bill put up with me. ;-) There have also been indescribably joys, too: Kate and our new house and lots of simple beauties.

This morning we enjoyed a breakfast made with eggs from Rodney and Ian's (the innkeepers) new chickens! I love that they have added chickens... Everything about our inn felt familiar and homey. I can't wait to take Kate up there someday. Technically, she was there inside me on our 1st anniversarymoon, but I want her to see it. I still remember figuring out boy and girl name choices with Bill in the inn's garden...

In our special clearing by the creek, where we always walk after breakfast and reflect on our love and its timelessness while looking up at fir trees so much older than we are

A view of Strawberry Creek, by which wild strawberry plants grow

By the creek

On our Strawberry Creek trail

It was a perfect Anniversarymoon, and I am so grateful to my husband for planning it and putting it all together. I love you!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Happy Anniversary!

I am overjoyed about my new home with Bill and Kate (before and after pics to come soon), and overjoyed about our anniversary tomorrow! Three years! Though it is not without a tinge of irony that I write about loving our marriage on the very day that the California Supreme Court voted to ban gay marriage... I am disappointed, but also hopeful that one day, love will prevail... My concept of a Life Force/God in the universe is one that is all-loving... So I have a big, big problem with gays and lebsians being denied the right to marry... The good news, according to my Aunt Jenny (who is a lawyer and married to my Aunt Anna) is that there was some legal precedent set within the case that could allow the class of gays and lesbians to sue the state as they now have recognizable rights without equality.

The good news is that my aunts' marriage is still legally recognized in California...otherwise, I don't think I would have the heart to post today about how much I love my marriage and how grateful I am to be married to my life partner. Our anniversary is tomorrow, but we're making a quick overnight to our honeymoon destination and I don't think I will be able to post from there. Kate and I going to make our yearly "Anniversary Cake" tonight to celebrate, and we might watch some of our wedding footage (put together by the incredible Kevin Longrie), as we do every year.

In the meantime, here are a few pictures from three years ago tomorrow:

Angie and me during rehearsal, walking the aisle

Unchained Melody

Kissing my love after the ceremony

Under our marriage arch

With all of our guests

Cutting our cake with our sparkling apple cider

On the hammock at Strawberry Creek Inn on our honeymoon

Special honeymoon dinner: I love you!

Our inn

I am looking forward to our one night romantic getaway tomorrow! We are going to stay in our same honeymoon room and everything. Bill is so sweet. Tonight we had a little special dinner celebration with Kate. I make a replica of our chocolate-raspberry-filled cake with white frosting, and Katie helped me tonight after her nap. I also made some tortellinis and filet mignon. I am still so grateful for my marriage to Bill, and I love him so much...and the family we have together.
Happy Anniversary, my One!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Last Night in Our First Home

This is it. Our last night at Azalea House. Tomorrow, everything changes. Life moves forward beyond these walls. As we move our home, so too we move onto a new path, one with new possibilities: who will we meet and what relationships will we form? We were admittedly fairly insular here in our current neighborhood; yet, I already know many families around us in our new neighborhood. I would also like to start a Mommy and Me class and reinvolve myself more in the Temecula community.
Tomorrow marks a homecoming for me, of sorts. I am excited, yet I also need and want to honor this home tonight. So much love and so many memories in this home... Azalea House has been good to us and was just right for the first phase of our life together and then with Kate. My eyes are looking their last, and I want to celebrate our time here with some pictures. I selected most of these pictures for the ways in which the physical properties of the house gladdened my heart---not necessarily for the purpose of chronicling every significant event that has happened.
(Also, these are not in order):

Dad helps me to plant a small garden, March 2007

Katie's snowflakes hang above her bed for the first time, Christmas 2007

Hammock spot in the backyard, Summer 2008

Our backyard bubble and play spot, Summer 2008

Kate's bathroom, our happy singing place

Pregnant with my baby girl, 2007, in front of my beloved yellow rose trees

Mom and Dad come for dinner in 2006. See Dad's fountain.

I will always remember reading with her in her room, just like this. We spent a lot of time in that spot, from that point of view (Summer 2008).

The sunflower that kept me company during hours and hours and hours and many books worth of reading in the summer of 2005.

Coming home from our honeymoon... May 2006.

Bathing my little girl. Besides sponge baths on our bed everyday since we were home, we took a bath nightly right in this spot. Little Katie....

Watering all the front plants one more time before heading off to a week-long AP conference at Stanford, followed by almost a week at Berkeley to visit David during summer session. The longest I have ever been away from this home with Bill... (Summer 2005).

Rosa came over to play... Such a fun memory with her. Fall 2005.

Bill came upon me one night with the camera unexpectedly, but now I am glad I have this. I love love love to read, and here I am in the Cozy Chair. This must have been in 2005, early 2006 (before Kate was conceived or born).

When I came back from Berkeley/Stanford that summer, Bill had my Piglet and books awaiting me (2005).

My very first walk in the stroller with Katie, Nov. 2007

My first moments with Kate in her nursery (October 31, 2007).

I have loved our annual McGaugh Christmas Party (2006).

A pic from the early days...with some of our roommate's furniture. Everything has changed so much... (Summer 2004).

Our first family room has evolved, for sure. My tastes were still a little young here. 2004.

Kate and I have spent hours playing chase around the house. I will miss our current layout and where we hide. This was October 2008, during a chase/"Where's Mommy?" session.

One of my favorite pictures ever. Kate had just solidified her walking and was starting to go faster. I love the morning glories here, her dress, the lush lawn, the memory of the air, everything. Sept. 2008.

The day it snowed in Temecula. Nov. 2004. Bill came and woke me up and we delighted in the magic...then drove all over and looked for snow patches. This is the front of Azalea House.

First Christmas here.... 2004.

Home from work for the day (the day my classroom was taped for NBC news), and anticipating the birth of Kate. I loved her room at the time, but as she has developed her own personality, I realize that it isn't quite "her." So now she is going to have an old-fashioned, very pink, very girly room. I never would have guessed I would have a girly-girl, but I love that I do and I am tapping into my inner girliness, too. I am just following her lead here... Indeed, she already loves her new room and always wants to go say "hi" to her wallpaper first thing...

Our cozy bedroom with our marriage quilt (a king on a queen bed---we later got a king). I am so excited to resurrect this bed, though, in our guest room. I love four posters. I remember how much I loved redoing our bed with all of our marriage linens. 2006.

More of our bedroom in 2006.

First Christmas with my baby girl, 2007.

Halloween. We have a special Halloween dinner every year, and now Kate's birthday is so close to Halloween, the whole month is more magical. I dressed up as Hermione in 2006---my 9th graders got a kick out of it.

I plant mums every fall...

I hosted the family Thanksgiving the first year that I was in Azalea House, 2004. This was the first and only time Grandpa Don was able to see my home. Now we are moving away to a place he's never been...that is hard for me.

First Thanksgiving at Azalea House with all the Matics cousins. Five years, and so many changes: two of us married and one with a baby, one engaged for marriage this coming December, one headed off to Seattle in fall, two (soon to be three) in college at the same time, one Berkeley grad, and one award-winning dancer.

In the summer of 2005, frogs came to the slider to say hello every night. Enchanting.

Christmas Eve, 2008. Probably the coziest day I ever spent in Azalea House. And these are the two loves of my life. I loved this day... It was cold out, so Kate and I drew on the foggy windows, and even now, I can see "I *heart* Kate" still there on the window. It will be hard to leave that behind. This was a magical day and night...And I love how cheerful my kitchen looks behind them here.

I will miss my morning glories, but plan to grow more. I brought them back from the horrible night frosts a few years ago, and they are just blooming right now. That tugs at my heart. I will miss them in their abundance and glory this year, right at their peak. I took this picture in 2005.

One of our many Saturday Dinners, a Chinese meal here (2006). I love to cook with my mom...Saturday Dinners have been on hiatus because we got so busy, but now that we'll be living a few houses away, we're bringing them back!

Kate's first birthday, 2008. Our family room is decorated with toys!

Decorating for Kate's first birthday.

My birthday in 2006. I have always loved my formal table and dining room. I am taking my chandelier with me, actually, and replacing it here with something else.

Saturday Dinner 2006: berrycake for dessert! I have so many wonderful cooking memories in this kitchen...

The dining room, for Amanda's wedding shower. 2006. I have loved my dining room here...

Housewarming/high school friend reunion 2004. Again, so many life changes and milestones in 5 years for all of us...

Friends, 2004.

Tea with my womenfolk, Summer 2006. I love LOVE to bake/cook tea foods. My favorite!

Mom and I made mosaic tables one weekend. 2006 I think.

So many memories....Goodbye, little Azalea House. Life has been beautiful here with you.