On Teaching and Motherhood

I work with kids–I have been working with kids since I was one, first babysitting family friends, then providing childcare for church services and functions, then nannying, volunteering in schools, and finally teaching.

I enjoy spending my days surrounded by young children.  They love you instantly and genuinely.  They get unbelievably excited by things like worms and garbage trucks.  They pull you over to see bugs which are sometimes really cool and usually ants.  Working day in and day out with kids has taught me two things:  There is no better feeling in the world than a loving hug from a child and I do not want kids of my own.  Kids give lots of obligatory hugs throughout the day–when they’re going home for the night, or when they pass you in the hall and halfheartedly hug you before running off to play with trains, but these are not the hugs I’m talking about.  I’m talking about when they see you across the playground and their whole face lights up and they run into your arms and just collapse into you with all their weight and maybe even lay their head on your shoulder and you just never want to let go.  But you do because kidnapping is frowned upon and it is more developmentally beneficial for them to run and play with their peers than to stay in your arms all day.  I know that the love between a parent and a child is unmatched–but really the love between a preschool teacher and their students is probably up there in the scheme of things.

I love the kids I work with, I really do.  But I also love quiet Saturday mornings and being able to leave the house whenever I feel like it and not having to fight against foot traffic at the fireworks show because little Timmy decided that he desperately needs to go potty right in the middle of the finale.  I live my life for no one else and I like it that way.  I don’t want kids and really don’t see myself changing my mind.

My own Mom was amazing-she made Halloween costumes and prom dresses.  She stayed up late to help us with our homework.  She read each one of the Harry Potter books out loud to us–and we begged her for “just one more chapter” each time she got to the end of one.  She made my childhood magical and did so with great pride even when we were less than grateful.  The past few years our relationship has shifted and evolved–she will always be my Mom and I will of course always be her child, but our adult relationship feels more reciprocal and I think I cherish it more than all the childhood memories because I am able to understand it’s value.

It is this that causes me to waver in my statement of “never wanting kids” usually when I am in the midst of one of those hugs with a child’s head resting against my neck, and in that fleeting moment  I think, “Maybe I do want to be somebody’s mother” and then the kid runs off and another kid sneezes in my face or bursts into tears because somebody took their woodchip and then I am reminded that I am perfectly happy to go on being a teacher, and the daughter of an amazing mother.

 

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We drove 6 Hours for Vegan Pizza and I’m not sorry.

Seattle is perfectly situated for taking day trips. 3 hours or less and you can be on the coast, in Canada or in Portland. It is one of the things I love about living here. So last weekend we braved the heat in Portland and attempted to eat our way through all the vegan food in the city. We started at Back to Eden Bakery for their breakfast sandwich. It was tempeh sausage and tofu egg with tomato jam and a sharp cheddar sauce on like a corn bread type biscuit. All in all it was a little on the sweet side for me but it was tasty. They messed up our order somehow and I didn’t receive my sandwich until after everyone else was finished, so they threw in a donut free of charge. While a nice gesture, I’m not a fan of floral flavors and it tasted really strongly of rose. So all in all, I’m not sure I’ll be coming back. I will continue searching for an excellent vegan brunch spot elsewhere. 

After brunch we headed to Blue Star. This is where I’m told locals go for good donuts in Portland. Only tourists go to Voodoo. They always have a selection of vegan donuts, with rotating flavors. I’ve had the matcha green tea one, a blueberry glazed one, and a powdered sugar orange olive oil one and they’ve all been amazing! I’ve had their non vegan ones as well before I went vegan, and the vegan ones taste the same to me. Honestly they’re the best vegan donuts hands down of all the ones I’ve tried. I forgot however to take a picture of it this time around. 

Next up we headed to Pip’s Original Doughnuts (sensing a theme here?)  Which unfortunately does not offer vegan donuts but does offer a wide variety of plant milks and the best almond milk latte I’ve had to date. This time we went for the chai flight which was a super fun, very Portlandy thing to do. I was not a fan of the Emmy Lou or the Smoky Robinson, but the King and I, and the Ginger Rodgers were delicious. I want to go back when it’s cold out and try them all hot. 

While waiting for our food to digest we walked along Hawthorne and did some shopping, which is another quintessentially Portland experience and an awesome place to people watch. We then walked around down by the water front before the real attraction which was of course the vegan pizza. 

Virtuous Pie! You guys this place is amazing. We had two vegans, a vegetarian, a lactose intolerant carnivore, and an omnivore with us and everyone was thrilled. The interior is super cool and the pizza is delicious. They make all their own nut-based cheeses in house. Their Portland location is just as awesome as their Vancouver BC location where I first fell in love. 

I thought their Superfunghi was the best, but then I tried the Ultraviolet and OMGyouguys! This pizza!! Sun dried tomatoes, pine nuts, carmalized onions, cashew mozzarella and pesto! So freaking delicious. This pizza was so worth the drive to and from Seattle. 

Looking Back: Summer 2017

This summer has been filled with ups and downs.  It started on a plane to Colorado because my Grandma was dying.  It was painful and sad but at the same time it gave me a new appreciation for my family and I’m so grateful that I got to be there with everyone else at the end of her life. 20170613_110132Summer also brought more hiking opportunities though not nearly as many as I would have liked.  By far the most memorable was our sunset hike to Oyster Dome.  There are few things more beautiful than that golden light bathing the trees and rock.  21363400_10214135811818977_475418516_o21362057_10214135812178986_1216612696_o21390350_10214135811578971_1771596230_o21389182_10214135811738975_1046380714_oThere were 4th of July celebrations and visits from family and friends.  When it got unbearably hot we headed to Lake Sammamish and hid from the sun under beach umbrellas or swam in the water and floated on our new inflatable island.  20170704_18440120170624_160325We moved to a new apartment and I finally feel like I like everything I own and get such pleasure out of being at home.  21329670_10214135811898979_1336105201_oI flew to my parent’s house for one night to help my Dad and his parents through the airport on our way to Colorado for my Grandma’s memorial service. It was an opportunity to spend some quality time with my Dad that I appreciated–even if I didn’t appreciate how long it took us to get from Denver to Ft. Collins with his penchant for back-roads and speed limits under 40.    20170728_080944I can’t get enough of how beautiful Mt. Rainier looks from the sky towering over everything else.21362414_10214135812618997_1872306342_oPeople always used to say that my Mom and I looked alike, but neither of us ever thought it was true until a few years ago.  It seems to get more and more apparent with each photo we take standing side by side.  21362119_10214135811978981_217554368_oSmoke from wildfires in British Columbia choked the Seattle-area for days.  21329777_10214135812058983_478580624_oWhile the summer may have started with a funeral it ended with a wedding of my friend and coworker on a farm in Eastern Washington. received_10214303260039660received_10214303259959658

White Privilege Kills

A few weeks ago a Seattle-area woman by the name of Charleena Lyles was shot and killed by police in her own home.  She was Black, a mother of three, pregnant with a fourth, and struggled with mental illness.  She called in a burglary, and two police officers who were already aware of her mental illness responded to the call.  They claim Lyles pulled a knife on them, and then they fatally shot her in her own home in the presence of her three children.  This shooting caused shock and outrage for obvious reasons.  Here is yet another example of a racially motivated shooting by police and a failure to de-escalate a situation involving a mentally ill individual without resorting to violent and fatal means.  The shooting of this woman raises a whole bunch of questions.  Where was the taser?  If police were aware of her mental illness why did they resort to lethal force?  Would this shooting have taken place if she were white?

No.  It absolutely would not have.  I understand the desire that white people have to trust the police.  We were raised to believe that the police are there to serve the community and keep us safe–and in our experience that has been true.  To us police officers are the friendly guys in uniform that show up at school assemblies and teach us about gun safety.  They pass out stickers to kids and stop traffic during parades and marathons.  None of us would hesitate to call the police if we came home to find that our house had been broken into or felt otherwise threatened by a situation while out and about.  We like to believe that the police are the good guys–and that is because for us they always have been.  But people within the Black community and other communities of color in this country have a very different experience with those very same police.

A few Saturdays ago a coworker posted a link to this interview with Ijeoma Oluo and Eula Scott Bynoe titled The Seattle moms whose children don’t get to be children.  I listened to all twenty minutes of it while laying in bed and I encourage all of you reading this right now to go listen to it as well.  They detail their experiences dealing with police–how they hesitate to call police officers when their white neighbors do not, how she watched police officers care for a white woman, clearly mentally ill who was waving a sword around.  They gently escorted her into her home and even gave her back her sword.  That outcome likely would have ended very differently had the woman been Black.

Now that Saturday I listened to the interview, thanked my coworker for posting it and went about my day.  I had a friend visiting from Portland and we had a day at the lake planned as it was too hot to be indoors without air conditioning.  We stopped at the store for food and supplies–I put a pair of sunglasses on my head that I intended to buy–but completely forgot they were there.  I purchased my food and walked out of the store setting off the alarm.  “Oh!  I forgot to pay for these!” I exclaimed–ran back in and bought them.  Nobody gave me a hard time at all.  Now had I not listened to that interview that morning I may not have even thought about it–but that was an excellent example I realized of my own white privilege at play.  No one doubted that I’d unintentionally walked out of the store without paying for that pair of sunglasses.  My best friend of Hawaiian and Filipino descent however?  He and his sister have been stopped by store security and even had the police called on them because they were convinced that they must have stolen the cell phone case they were looking at earlier.

So, we went to the lake, had a picnic, swam for a bit, hid under an umbrella to avoid being fried to a crisp and then proceeded to make our way home.  I’m not the one who normally drives, and I wasn’t paying attention to my speed.  I didn’t even realize I was driving too fast until I noticed flashing lights in my rear-view mirror.  I pulled over–but I wasn’t even scared that I’d get a ticket.  In fact I clearly remember thinking “They’re not going to ticket me.”  Why?  Because whenever my white, female friends get pulled over for speeding they get away with a warning.  I apologized, explained I didn’t even know what the speed limit was, he seemed annoyed, but I continued to maintain that I hadn’t intended to speed, etc. etc.  When the police officer asked to see my drivers license I hauled my huge beach bag out of the backseat began rummaging around in it for my tiny wallet, finally found it and handed it over.  By that point he didn’t seem to want to wait for me to find my insurance information–told me to drive safe and waved me on.  No ticket.  Now I was just annoyed that I had to drive 35 when I had been going 50 and everyone behind me was tailgating me because it is one of those roads where no one actually follows the speed limit.  But my friend–the one from above–he had just had a much different experience.  He’d wanted to help me find my wallet–but he had been scared to reach his hand into a bag in case the police officer thought he was reaching for a weapon–so he sat still, said nothing and kept his hands visible.  Now it didn’t even occur to me that me looking for my drivers license might look like I was going for a weapon–that very same encounter where I got off with nothing but a warning may have ended differently if my skin was a different color.  White privilege moment number two.

My white privilege meant I didn’t get harassed at the store and I didn’t get a speeding ticket for going almost 20 miles over the speed limit while I know Black men that have been pulled over and ticketed for driving too slow.   It means mentally-ill white women get tucked into bed while mentally-ill Black women get killed in front of their children.  So please, to the white people I hope are reading this–we have to listen and honor those experiences even though they are different from ours and often painful to admit to.  Now I’m not saying that all police are the bad guys or that it is okay to kill police officers–but I am saying that for many people in this country police definitely aren’t the good guys.  So we need to ask ourselves why and listen to what we are being told.  Instead of getting angry when Black athletes don’t put their hand on their heart during the national anthem, or when Black artists write lyrics like “Fuck tha Police” let’s get angry that our Black friends and neighbors, American citizens are not only being harassed but killed in their own homes for no apparent reason other than the color of their skin.

Ethel Mae Maxwell: a Truly Remarkable Woman and other Thoughts from the Hospital 

I got word from my Mom on Monday that my Grandma was dying–she’d fallen a few weeks earlier and broken her pelvis and she wasn’t getting better–all I could think about was flying to my Mom. So I immediately got plane tickets, booked a shuttle, found rides to the airport, and it was this that I focused on until I walked into her hospital room and saw her lying there in the hospital bed and my Grandpa sitting bedside her holding her hand. 

We then entered into this surreal reality that you really only experience when you watch a loved one slowly fade away in front of you. There are a surprising amount of practical details–much of our time was spent figuring out meals, working out schedules for hospital shifts, and making sure that everyone had enough cars to get where they needed to be. When you only sleep a few hours throughout the day and night it becomes hard to keep track of time. I think I went almost 24 hours without brushing my teeth because I never actually went to bed. But then there were the quiet moments while I sat there just listening to my Grandmother’s labored breathing, when I found myself very clearly noticing small things and filing them away in my brain like snapshots.

Some of these thoughts are random and unimportant like, “I wonder if I’ll ever be able to drink mandarin spice tea again,” or “Why can they make airports so easy to navigate but hospitals are still so confusing?” Other snapshots are incredibly sad like noticing how her feet made the blanket poke up and she looked so small in that bed. “She’ll never need that again,” I thought with gut wrenching finality when I saw her walker and its decorative fabric basket leaning against the wall. Some things are so sweet they’re almost heartbreaking, like watching my Grandpa scoot around her bedside in his rolling chair with his suspenders and his velcro shoes. They were married just shy of 63 years and whenever we would walk anywhere the two of them would be holding hands.

At one point I sat in the hospital room with my grandma, my mom, my aunt, and my cousin and we talked about things that our mothers used to say to us as kids. We were three generations of strong women. My Grandma raised my Mom, and my Mom raised me in much the same way. In the end, her family flocked to her from all over the West. She was surrounded by all four of her kids from various places in Colorado, Arizona, and Utah–all four of her grandkids came from Colorado, Utah, and Washington to be with her in those final days. We sat up in the middle of the night thinking she would be going soon having a sort of 3 a.m. vigil beside her, laughing and crying, and sharing memories of her. I remember waiting excitedly for their motor home to show up to see what little presents Grandma had brought me from their travels throughout the U.S. I remember the pink card with kittens on it that she sent me when I jammed my finger sliding down the stairs in a sleeping bag at a sleepover. It essentially read, “Feel better soon and don’t be so silly in the future.” She grew up in small mountain towns in Colorado during the Great Depression. She was practical to the core my Grandmother, and she raised all of us to be as caring and hard-working as she was. She has proudly displayed photos of every awkward stage of my childhood from my thirteenth birthday, to my first flute recital, to my graduation. Every time the family gathered we took family pictures around the couch in their living room in front of the orange curtains that have hung in the window for as long as I can remember. Grandma and Grandpa always sat right in the middle. Ethel Mae Maxwell was a truly remarkable woman, and it is this thought that sticks with me the most from those final days. She passed away yesterday evening with my Grandpa and the little stuffed dog he bought for her by her side.

First Vegan Food Review!

I had success this weekend when I tried Tofurky’s Pepp’roni Mushroom pizza and it didn’t suck. It kind of tasted like Little Tony’s pizza-the kind you used to get at school with the square pepperoni. So it was good in a kind of artificial non-gourmet nostalgic kind of way! That made me curious to try more vegan cheese products, so I picked up some Follow Your Heart mozzarella. I cut off a small piece to taste and I almost spit it out the flavor was not exactly what I was expecting and the texture was weird. I made it into a caprese salad with tomatoes, basil, and a balsamic reduction and it was pretty good! But I think that may have been because the vinegar masked the flavor of the cheese…

My take away? I’d give it maybe 2.5 stars out of 5. I can eat it, but I probably won’t repurchase. It just didn’t really add anything for me, and I think it would have been better with salted tofu or just avocado. Maybe it’s better melted?