Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Great Weekend

What a wonderful, perfectly relaxing weekend this was.

Saturday my friend, Debbie, picked me up at 8:00 am for some garage sale-ing. We went and got a coffee and were planning on just going around for a couple of hours. A couple of hours turned into the entire day! In the process we ended up with Martin in the backseat, after he decided to take the afternoon off, and my sister and niece also after picking them up on the way to a garage sale by their house. We had lunch at our favorite coffee shop, Vagabond Blues, and got a ton of "treasures". It was a successful day of garage sale-ing! Even Calista scored with a few sweaters and shirts, some jewelry, seashell collection, and an authentic mancala game from Guam.

Martin had watched Emeril Live on Friday night and decided to try out the recipe on everyone Saturday night. So everyone convened at our house Saturday night for an awesome mushroom fettucine, greek salad, and bread from Vagabond Blues. It was gone with everyone's first serving!! We all voted on Martin cooking for everyone EVERY Saturday night through the summer :) All the teens crashed at our house for the night, girls went home around midnight.

Sunday was a quiet day. We hung out and got a few things done around the house. Martin spent most of the afternoon doing mending (don't tell his friends ;) . I painted some old folding chairs to spiff them up a little and did a little cleaning.

Monday we had a barbeque with my sister's family and my dad and his wife over at my sister's house. Did a little shopping with my sister in the evening. The teens crashed at our house again. I love that they like to hang out here and am working on a little "snack room" with a microwave and refrigerator and I will stock up with a bunch of junk food for them. They will all be driving in another year and I want this to be "central station".

Friday, May 25, 2007

My Good Friends

In follow up to yesterday's blog...............................Kind of ironic, well not really because these moments happen every day in my life, but after I blogged yesterday Calista wanted to go to the lake to run Dina around and just enjoy the sunshine. Tristan was happily playing Runescape with one of his good friends so he didn't want to go. Kev was just hanging out, and he has been so busy lately that we haven't really sat down and chit chatted for a couple of weeks ,so I asked if he wanted to go to the lake with us.

It was such a lovely time! Calista ran back and forth with Dina and made some new friends at the lake. Of course, everyone thinks Dina is so cute that she meets all kinds of people coming up to her and asking about her puppy. Kev and I sat on a bench in the sun and had a wonderful conversation. We talked about religion, politics, tattoos, computers, people. We talked about how parents treat their children and how sad some of their tactics are and how lucky we are that we live outside of that norm. I was talking with one of my very best friends!! I just enjoyed our afternoon and was thankful that my children really are my very good friends!

After we got home we made dinner and ate and headed into Anchorage for the premier of Pirates. We met a bunch of his friends and their mom's at the mall and then went to the theatre from there. It was 10:00 when the movie started, it's a three hour movie, and we were in Anchorage (45 min. from home) so you can imagine what time we got home - oh, about 2:20am. It was a good time but I think I missed a bit of the last half because I kept falling asleep.

I just love hanging out with my kids and I really do love my life!!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Respectful Parenting

I've just been noticing lately how unconventional we really are. We have chosen our life, rather than let society choose it for us and I'm noticing more and more how different it really is. On the surface we don't look that different but if you do even shallow digging you will see!

As Kev gets more into his teen years and I hear the clucking around me from other parents with teens I really notice. It amazes me the methods of punishment and coercion that adults use to control their kids. They expect their kids to act like grown ups without treating them like grown ups. Because we hear the voices of society around us that tell us how awful teens are we begin to believe it..............SADLY! Our society really doesn't respect children in general, sometimes it is very subtle but sometimes it is very obvious.

I like to treat my relationship with my children the same I treat any relationship in my life. I wouldn't dream of trying to control my husband and make him into something I want him to be (okay not entirely true, sometimes I am guilty of this :)). The same applies to my children, I let them be who they are, when they need my help I'm ready and willing to give it and when they don't ask for it I try to stay backed off. I'm here to help them work through their own decision making, giving them full control over their bodies and lives. I will step in if it is a safety issue, which usually applies to sibling rivalry and in our house this is definitely an issue. When I feel anger or frustration rising up I try to stop and ask myself, "If this were my husband how would I treat this situation?" If I wouldn't say it or do it to my husband or best friend than I better darn not do it to my children.

If they are behaving in a way that is disrespectful, anger filled, etc. I really TRY to find out what is behind that behavior because there is always a reason, sometimes hidden, for behaving the way they do. Kids don't behave badly just to behave badly, there is something they need that they aren't getting and it is our job as parents to find out what that is. I hate it when I hear parents say that you can't be your children's best friend- that is hogwash!! My whole entire goal is to be my children's best friend, to be their soft place to land, to be the person that they can totally, unbashedly trust.

Are we the perfect family? Absolutely not! Do situations rise up where I don't handle things like I preach? Absolutely! There are times when that voice in my head, from my own childhood, rises up and gets really loud. There are times when I am frustrated with the sibling rivalry and I yank out those tools that were given to me by my own parents. There are times when I am certainly not very respectful towards them. But I am CONSTANTLY doing a check and balance to see where my relationship stands with my children and how I can make it better. So far, so good. Sure we have moments and days that I would like to do over, days where I'm ready to throw in the towel, so to speak, but I always catch my breath and back up - the same way I would if it were my husband or my best friend having a little trouble.

My kids enjoy being around me, they like the person I am and we like to spend time together. Kev doesn't have a problem sharing his life with me and he isn't ashamed of me because I have never given him a reason to. He doesn't rebel because he doesn't have anything to rebel against. Teens rebel because control of their bodies and lives have been stripped from them. If something comes up that I have a concern about we sit and talk about it like civilized adults and share each others opinions on the subject. If I do something that seems arbitrary and unfair I expect the kids to say, "That doesn't make sense to me, can we talk about it?", the same way that they and I would do with any relationship. I don't want my children to blindly obey- that doesn't allow them to learn to think for themselves. I expect them to question, question, question.

It is so sad to me when the kids' friends share things with me and then tell me what they can't tell their mom and dad about it because they would freak out. When they are bringing boyfriends over to meet me because they are too ashamed for them to meet their parents. When they are asking me to do things for them that their parents wouldn't do. I wish that their parents could share those things with them and they didn't feel the need to only share them with me. That their parents could trust them. That they could allow them to BE without judgement or pushing their own agenda on their children.

I think it is really important to support the things they are interested in, passionate about or just plain curious about without any judgement placed. There are things that Kev is interested in, things he does and places he goes that I would not choose for myself but he will figure those things out for himself - that is what childhood is about. I don't expect him to be just like me or have the same belief system that I have. That is not to say that I don't tell him how I feel about certain things but he chooses on his own. But I try to be there with them, walk beside them, lend a helping hand when they need it, and let them be.

Being a mom is awesome, rewarding, and so much fun!!! I wish every parent could have the kind of experience with their child where instead of feeling like, "I can't wait until they start school, etc!!", that they would be saying, "I'm NOT looking forward to the day when they aren't around as much." Kev has decided to go to school full-time this year and I'm sad that I won't see him and be around him every day. I love to hang out with him!! I also realize that this is his life, he is growing into a man, and there might be a day when I hardly see him at all- which is the exact reason that I want to enjoy, REALLY ENJOY, every little moment that I have with them. They are amazing human beings and I have learned WAY more from them than they have from me. They have and are making me a better person.

Anne Ohman said that her son, Jake, demanded that she be the kind of mom that he needed her to be and that she listened. I told her that certainly Tristan was demanding that from me but that I maybe didn't listen as well as she did with Jake. It is my intention to REALLY and TRULY listen to what my kids are telling me, with their words and actions, even sometimes the thoughts that they share with me, and to be the kind of mom that they NEED me to be.

Friday, May 18, 2007


I know I already blogged a long blog about how much I miss my mom but I just had to add this, as it was posted by my son, Kev, who was EXTREMELY close to my mom. It made me cry and it is just too sweet to not post and it captures the kind of relationship she had with the kids all too well. And notice, she is reading to him, something she did a LOT of.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Beautiful Day

Regardless of the fact that it was a cloudy, rainy day yesterday it was still a beautiful day!! We did our first Butte hike of the season with my good friend, Tanya, and her daughter, Sarah. It was extremely windy at the top and on the way back down it started raining. We made it to the bottom just before it started pouring. Something we sometimes take for granted here is the incredible beauty that surrounds us. This isn't a perfect place to live but it sure is pretty, even when it is raining!
After the Butte hike we went into Palmer for a coffee at our favorite coffee shop, Vagabond Blues.
Tanya and I have decided that we are going to try out or go somewhere new every week this summer. I've lived in Wasilla for five years and have yet to see and do so much. I drive by places that I want to go to and never do, so this is the summer for trying new things! One of the things we are going to do is fossil hunting, I'm really looking forward to that.
I've officially signed up for the 60 day challenge at the yoga studio that I go to. To fulfill the challenge I must go to five classes a week for six weeks. I'm on my second week, with one more class to go to this week. I'm feeling so many changes happening to not only my body, but in every area of my life, including my spirituality. I really look forward to my classes every day and my family is being incredibly supportive of my being gone for two hours every day. My kids see how important it is and they sometimes even remind me about yoga class.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Dear Mom

Dear Mom,

Today is Mothers Day. It's tough to watch people buying cards for their mom's, taking their mom's out to lunch, and just generally having a special day with the woman that brought them into this life. I ache because I would give anything to be able to buy you a card today or take you out to a nice lunch, or just be able to give you a hug today. Days like today bring the grief to the surface once again and oh, how it makes me miss you.

The things I miss about you..............................the list is long. Probably the thing I miss the most is the relationship you had with my kids. The storytelling - no one can tell a story quite like you can, especially The Wide Mouth Frog; just seeing your mouth opening wide, singing away "Oh, I'm a wide mouth frog, I'm a wide mouth frog" and hearing the fits of giggles from the kids. The rain walks- it was much too cold for me to go on those rain walks but not for you. On went the boots and coats and off you would go hand-in-hand with the kids and, despite the boots and coats, you would come back soaking wet, the joy just dripping off of you. The holidays- every holiday was worth celebrating big. Don't you know I just can't live up to that? And it was just so much fun for you. Every holiday the kids still tell me, "It just isn't the same without Grandma Cheryl."

I miss that you loved the kids unconditionally, just as they are- perfectly imperfect. You didn't place judgement, rather, you just loved them, really loved them. You lived for those moments you could spend with them. You saw them every day yet every day it seemed like it was the first day you had seen them for months. They felt SUPER special in your presence, something that no one else has quite been able to do. I miss you driving into the driveway, yelling out your window, "Who wants to come to Fred Meyers with me?" Not because you needed us to come with you but just because you liked to be with us. And, I hated it then, but I miss having you beg me not to move because you just couldn't live without the kids- "It's what keeps me living" you would say. It made me feel guilty for wanting to move back then but I would love to hear you say that now.

I miss our trips to Hawaii- those trips will never be quite the same. I miss going out to Busby with you, having the kids snuggle in your arms to the rocking of the boat, walking around the island and finding all kinds of treasures. I miss going into the library and seeing your happy, smiling face as you took the kids by the hand and trapsed all over the offices "showing off" your grandkids, as if they were the only ones in the world.

I sometimes will hear people complain about their moms and think, "Don't they know that today is all they have, that they might not have tomorrow?" What I would do for a little more time with you. I haven't always liked you, you weren't always a good mom. But I loved the woman that you grew to be; teaching me to let go of things that just really aren't important, to stop and smell the roses (literally), to really live life as if it is our last day. And I LOVED the kind of grandmother you were - it has left a huge void that we cannot quite figure out how to fill.

I REALLY miss YOU mom!! Happy Mothers Day!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ For those of you who did not know my Mother, I am leaving you with this article that was printed in the Fairbanks Daily News one week after her death. I think it gives you a glimpse of what kind of woman my mother was and the magic she left behind. The man who wrote this knew my mother and his children were some of the many children that were touched by her magic. So here it is:

Librarian who died after long cancer battle never lost childlike awe
Published February 10, 2002 Article ID: 1355209 Section: Unknown
By Dermot Cole

IT JUST SO HAPPENED that I found myself seated next to a young family of four Saturday afternoon during the memorial service for Cheryl Bidwell at the Princess Hotel. The dad, wearing an Air Force uniform, kept watch over a squirming toddler while the mom held an active baby who repeatedly arched his back and appeared to be on the verge of walking.

I noticed the dad's black dress shoes captivated the toddler, who was seated on the floor between his dad's knees, a position in which he could vigorously push his dad's shoes back and forth, perhaps controlling an imaginary airplane. The boy may not have had any toys at that moment, but he had shoes to play with.

This played out near the back of the Edgewater Room in a crowd of about 375. I mention this only because something was said during the service that made me think Cheryl would have appreciated what the little boy was doing with his dad's shoes on this occasion.

After learning a lot from her six children, Cheryl enrolled in college when she was 40 to earn a degree in early childhood development. Among the many quotes and favorite sayings of hers that were repeated Saturday, one of the best was from an essay Cheryl had written for her freshman English 111 class about boredom, enthusiasm and happiness.

"Awareness is a unique vision, a peculiar elephant-in-the-clouds way of looking at things that small children possess," she said.

"My young son continually finds some treasure others have missed, a beautiful shell, a novel rock or lost dimes."

"'Tim, how do you always find such neat things?' I inquired once. His cryptic reply was, 'I look."'

"How many of us adults really look at and appreciate the marvels all around us? How many of us really notice sunshine on the kitchen floor, the rainbow on a puddle, the cockiness of a little bird on the lawn or beauty in rich, shiny brown mud? Part of this ability to really see and be aware of life comes from children's relationship to the present--it's all they have. In their minds, yesterday ceases to be important when gone and tomorrow can seem as far away as forever. Today is unparalleled. Adults who retain this way of perceiving life find in each day some discovery or blessing."

Those who knew Cheryl Bidwell will tell you that she found some discovery or blessing each day, even while she struggled for 12 years with cancer. She once said that if she had to do it all over again, she would accept the cancer because of what it taught her.

Before her death, 32 family members gathered in her hospital room and she had a message for them as she gripped each one's hand in turn. Her brother Dan said she was concerned not for herself, but for her loved ones because she had to leave them behind.

Cheryl was among those people who grow up and manage to hold onto that childlike enthusiasm, always seeing that elephant in the clouds. I think that's one of the reasons she was a wonderful children's librarian. Cheryl kept going in spite of her illness, continuing a job she loved because she loved people and books.

She worked in the Berry Room at the Noel Wien Library for the last 11 years. There are hundreds or even thousands of young families who benefited from her encyclopedic knowledge of children's literature and her ability to tell a tale.

If you walked in there, the chances of seeing her smiling were about the same as the chances of seeing books.

She would sing with gusto with the 3-year-olds and more than a few people thought she was the "Mother Moose" of storytime.

She was a valuable actress in the library's "Mystery Night" productions, even when she had to do it in a wheelchair.

One of the last projects Cheryl worked on at the library was the proposal for a Story Garden to be built outside the windows of the Berry Room.

A lot of people have suggested that it should be the "Cheryl Bidwell Memorial Story Garden," because it was her idea.

I hope Cheryl's garden is a place where people can see the rainbow in the puddle, the cockiness of a little bird on the lawn and the beauty of rich, shiny, brown mud.

A few months ago, when Sue Sherif retired from the library after 20 years of service to the children of Fairbanks to take a job in Anchorage, members of the library staff prepared a book for her filled with remembrances and good wishes.

The page that Cheryl included featured a quotation from "Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher," a book by Bruce Coville. I see now that she meant the quotation to apply not only to her friend's move to Anchorage, but also to Cheryl's own leave-taking, because she knew it was going to happen before long.

The book is about Jeremy, the smallest kid in the sixth grade, who ends up caring for a dragon named Tiamat for a little while. When it comes time for the dragon to return to the dragon world, Jeremy tells Miss Priest, the children's librarian, that he loves Tiamat and doesn't want her to leave. He can't stand the idea of losing her.

The quote Cheryl placed in the book for Sue continued:

"Miss Priest reached out and took his chin in her hand. She looked into his eyes. 'You silly boy,' she said. 'Nothing you love is lost. Not really. Things, people--they always go away, sooner or later. You can't hold them, any more than you can hold moonlight. But if they've touched you, it they're inside you, then they're still yours. The only things you ever really have are the ones you hold inside your heart."

© Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. All rights reserved. Reproduced with the permission of Fairbanks Daily News-Miner by NewsBank, Inc.

The Cheryl Bidwell Story Garden

And some of the pictures of the garden that did get built and was named in honor of my mother. This was her vision and I think she would be very happy with how it turned out. To me, it looks just like what I heard her talk about when she first dreamed it up. The wheel looking thing is actually a pizza garden but was not yet in full bloom. This is a place where kids can hang out, climb, read books and dream. There are other things in the garden that I did not get pictures of.
The last two pictures are of my mothers grave. I love the saying on the gravestone - one of her favorites.


Calista and Rylee wore themselves out this week and decided to take a little rest, after I first went through a meditation with them. I have these children meditation books that Calista loves to do while she is settling down for bed at night. I could tell that Rylee was just wore out on Tues. so I asked her if she would like to do one of the meditations. She was asleep before I even finished and Dina (our new puppy)curled up with them and took a nap too. I love watching sleeping children! Dina looks bigger in the picture but she is actually only 11 lbs and she won't get much bigger than that, probably around 15 lbs.


Kevin sings in a wonderful choir concert last night. 2 1/2 hours of singing. It amazes me what these kids memorize and they are unbelievable! What a fun concert this was. If you are wondering what they are doing with their hands, they did a song in sign language. My camera doesn't do very well with the lighting...oh well.


Calista and her friend Haley have Ogres on their minds, with the new Shrek movie just coming out.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

I'm having trouble blogging the last couple of weeks because it just seems there is not a lot to share lately. We are just going about our daily business as usual, nothing too profound or exciting.

I have been going to yoga every week day and am getting to the point where I crave it every day. I've mostly been doing Bikraam, which is done in a heated room - usually around 105 degrees. My skin has really opened up and I really sweat during class. I sweat so much that it certainly doesn't seem like it is that hot most of the time. My Friday class was 114 degrees and that was hot! I made it through the entire class though - 1 1/2 hours. I'm definitely toning up, feel a LOT more energetic, and am feeling myself coming into alignment. I have had trouble with my hip/shoulder alignment for quite a few years and I am finally starting to feel a difference.

Kevin is into the spring choir performances, so for the next week and a half he has two school tours (down to one now because we did one yesterday), two dress rehearsals, and three concerts. They may do a tour up to Fairbanks in a few weeks too and then he will be done for the summer. Him and his friend, Sara, are starting to do lap swimming at the pool to get back in shape for this fall. He has decided to swim competitively again. We are excited about that because he was pretty good and somewhere along the line lost his passion for it. We really enjoyed watching him so it will be fun to see how he does with it now, especially since his body has gone through so many changes in the last two years.

Tristan started the second puppy class with Dante. Since Dante is a little "ADD" we decided to just put him in the class and apply what we learn with the other dogs, at home.

The weather is ever so slowly warming up. We have had a few days at 60 degrees but nothing warmer than that yet. The last few days have been filled with rain and hail but the sun is trying to peak through today. The kids enjoy being outdoors, even if it isn't real warm. Just to have no snow is a big deal for them. I'm looking forward to a little warmer weather so I can go hiking. I have some good hikes planned for this summer and I am ready to get started. If all works out Martin and I will hike Pioneers Peak this fall; a very long, challenging hike for us. I don't know if Martin's hip is going to hold up though. He has arthritis in his hip, which is degenerating and giving him fits lately. We are looking at a hip replacement within the next few years but are trying to wait it out, as the technology is getting better and better.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Regular Joker

Tristan was cracking me up tonight. We were at my sister's having dinner and we looked out the window and Tristan was laying down beside the road, like he was hit by a car or something. He would wait until a car would pull up to see if something was wrong and then jump up and say "Rah!". It seems most people had a good sense of humor and got a good laugh out of it.

Next I know he is waving cars down and asking them if they wanted to donate to the "Tristan wants a PSP3 foundation". I thought he was crossing the line there and asked him to stop but, again, it seems everyone but me had a good sense of humor because they were all laughing.

Every time a car would continue on Tristan was rolling on the ground laughing hysterically. The things they will do to entertain themselves. Apparently, strolling Rylee down the street didn't sound like fun tonight and he let the girls do there thing and he did his, lol.

Friday, May 04, 2007

16 Years!!

Yesterday was our 16 year anniversary! Hard to believe it's been 16 years already, 16 pretty good years too!! In a little less than three years I will have been a Snavley longer than I was a Bidwell.

I haven't been blogging too much lately. I go through spurts and have been more busy than usual these last few weeks. I have been keeping it all balanced with an extra dose of yoga. I committed to doing yoga every day in the month of May, and it even rhymes! The yoga studio is closed on Sunday so I won't be doing that day and when we volunteer at the Dog Rescue I can't do Saturday but Mon-Fri I will be going every day. It really energizes me and helps me stay in that Zen mode, it's quite addicting really. It is also helping my alignment quite a bit and hopefully it will eventually take away some of my TMJ pain.

This was from Scott Noelles Daily Groove the other day and I think it is well worth passing on:

:: The Trickle-Down Theory of Human Kindness ::

In peaceful "primitive" cultures, kindness is sustained from generation to generation by a kind of "trickle-down" effect. At its core is the commonly held value of serving and delighting younger people, especially babies.

Adults appreciate and support the delight of adolescents, who delight in the joy of prepubescents, who enjoy entertaining younger children, who love to carry babies and play with toddlers.

The elegance of this top-down, pleasure-oriented value system is that the youngest people receive the most (and give the least) at the developmental stage when they're naturally narcissistic, while those who give more are more adept at deriving joy from giving.

In contrast...

Adults in our culture often *fear* adolescents, who call prepubescents "dweebs," who disparagingly call younger children "babies," who compete with real babies for scarce love and attention. When your children behave unkindly, remember that you can't enforce authentic kindness. Instead, let it trickle down by *modeling* unconditional generosity.Using your creativity, find a way to serve and delight both "aggressor" and "victim" ...and yourself, too!