Family Fun


Chris and I find traditions very important.  There are just certain things you do at certain times.  We are not dogmatic or regimented about them – we simply love traditions because they are fun and provide a fantastic excuse to take a break and go do something together as a family. 


Last Saturday we packed up Benjamin and headed over to Craven Farm in our beloved Snohomish so that Benjamin could having his first experience with picking out the all-important Halloween pumpkin. 


We had no illusions that he would actually know what Halloween was, or care about a pumpkin as anything more than one of about a billion toys covering the whole festival area, but we knew the experience itself would be great fun for him, and memorable at the very least for us.  We were not disappointed.  Mums2.10-08

Craven Farm is nestled in Snohomish’s farmlands (being a farm, this of course makes sense), and with the day being right in line with most of this fall so far (weather-wise), the place absolutely sparkled.  You walk into a clean open area surrounded by various barn-like outbuildings, with wood chips underfoot, and pumpkins and gourds of every size, shape, and color strewn all about the yard, along with chrysanthemums, a couple fair-food stands, and plenty of contraptions for kids to crawl into and over while parents snap endless photos.  We of course were among them.  


I think at first when we put down, he was incredulous that he could run free, relatively uninhibited, and was shy at first. 


That lasted about five minutes.  And then he was everywhere, which was Ok because they place is extremely kid friendly. 



They even have a little petting zoo, so Ben got to see kittens, bunnies, goats, geese, chickens, and ducks, all of which he joyfully named “wa-wa’s”.  (That’s Ben-ese for cat, and really any other pet-like animal).




We never did get a pumpkin, which we expected – by the time Ben had enjoyed every toy there, he was exhausted and never would have lasted in the line, even though it moved pretty quickly.  We packed him back up in the car and he was asleep inside two minutes.  We picked up a pumpkin at the local farm stand by our house, and he just slept.



A very good recipe for a successful nap, if you ask me!

No, It Isn’t Chocolate Cake

We had a lovely few days down at my mom’s house in the Hood Canal area.  One of those fun little towns that has a post office, general store, and zip code, and that’s IT, literally.  It isn’t too far from where I grew up, but feels totally different.  The trees, the birds, the bugs, even the dirt is all just a bit different.  So I don’t get this nostalgic feeling of remembering my childhood when I go there, but I do feel like I’m building new wonderful fun memories.  I have mixed feelings about this one.

I stopped mid-sentence while talking with my mom when I realized my son had been way too quiet for way too long.


This isn’t chocolate cake crumbs.  It looks like it, but isn’t.  Unfortunately.


What’s worse is that he didn’t even make a face, like it was completely gross that he was eating dirt.  He didn’t even spit it out, I had to scoop it out with my finger.


He sure was awfully cute, though.

E is for Entertaining


Christmas tends to be party time, doesn’t it?  Christmas and summer, both big on parties.  I suspect that the Christmas party idea extended at least back to pioneer days, when neighbors got together for one last hurrah before the winter weather had them all penned in at home. 

I can’t imagine Christmastime without the people I love the most.  I love to entertain, although entertaining need not be fancy.  A mug of hot chocolate and storebought cookies with a friend can be just as wonderful as a full meal with appetizer and dessert with the full extended family.


I like to try at least one new recipe each year, as something special for my friends and/or family to try.  So far so good!  We haven’t had a dud yet.  Last year we made these little savory thumbprint cookies that were almost like little egg and cheese souffles.  They were SO good – I got the recipe out of a Martha Stewart magazine, I sure wish I could remember which one.

My most important "entertaining" of Christmastime is a special dinner just for Chris and I.  It’s pretty simple, and usually enjoyed for Christmas eve.  In my house, we called it "bits and pieces."  We go to some fancy grocery store we don’t normally shop at, like Central Market, and wander the isles picking out "fancy" finger foods to enjoy.  Usually this consists of a couple cheeses, fresh bread, flavored olive oil, a selection of choices from the olive bar, dried figs and dates, nuts, a pomegranate, salami, turkey breast, and I don’t even know what else.  All I can say is yum. 


Some of our best moments together are spent over food.  Did you ever notice that?  We’re intoxicated by the yummy flavors, tantilizing smells, the pretty table set before us, and we’re all seated, facing each other, giving our full attention to one another, rather than TV or radio.  We just get along better.  Shortly after I started college, I got really into formal entertaining, specifically tea parties.  Throughout the years I’ve learned more and more about the balance between making the event extra special for my guests so that they feel pampered, and spending less time in the kitchen and more time at the table.  I enjoy cooking so much, and I also enjoy expressing to my loved ones how important they are to me, but I also want to actually spend the evening with them too.

I’m not sure what we’ll do this year, now that we have Ben.  I imagine a lot of entertaining will be involved, whether it be at our home, or at someone else’s.  As this is a time of celebration to us, we find it best to spend with others.  We want Ben to be able to spend time with people that love him, and for those people to get to hold him and love on him.

Its been a while since we posted a photo.  Here is one of him last night.  Daddy put a toy on his head. 


Silly daddy.

B is for Ball, Birthday, and Benjamin

This has been a pleasant week so far – a good mix of productivity at home and at the store, one-on-one time with Ben, some visits with friends, and some artsy stuff done too. I always forget day to day what I’ve done, and thus can’t recall what progress I’ve made on my to do list, so consequently I’ve started keeping a weekly to do list – each weekend I write up a list of things to complete during the following week. Sometimes in the morning each day I’ll highlight what I’d like to get done that day, to help keep me focused, but I mostly like to keep things open because with the store, a baby, and the nature of life in general, you never know what kind of a schedule you’ll have.
I love lists. I love to cross things off a list, even if it is "take a shower." The list for this week had a little bit of everything, like take a walk, vacuum, enter products onto The Weed Patch’s website, crochet some flowers, play with Ben, cook dinner, etc. B is for Ball, because I crocheted Ben a ball to play with (see photo above). It is just plain Red Heart verigated rainbow yarn I have leftover with something else, but it crocheted up into a really nice big ball. It has a bell inside to give a little jingle, and I didn’t fill it too full, so then he can grasp it. Earlier this week I had picked up the unfinished project to move it out of my way, when I noticed his eyes following it. He really stared at it! So, I finished it right then and there and gave it to him to play with. He grabbed it and put it in his mouth (well, not the WHOLE thing, as it is the size of a pummelo).
B is also for Benjamin, of course. I couldn’t possibly do a B entry without including him. What kind of mom would I be?
This is Ben having a bath in our kitchen sink, about a week ago or so. I think these are all a week or two old.
This is him chillin’ with Grandma at the family reunion two weeks ago. He does that a lot. Just chillin’.
He attended his first birthday party this last Saturday. Our goddaughter Elise turned two this last Friday, and there was a big fat party for her – with a Curious George Theme. Andy describes the party rather accurately and amusingly, so I’ll let him tell the tale.
It occurred to me at the party that within a few years, if things go on as currently planned, our casual get-togethers with our two best friends are going to be just like that – a dozen children running around to keep track of. As there were about that many children at this party, and all under kindergarden age, it gave me a little taste of reality. I liked it, fortunately, but whew! Am I going to be tired. And BUFF.
But happy. 🙂

Back again


We are back from the family reunion. It was an extremely pleasant time, as usual, and thankfully not too hot this year. It seems that people tend to dread their family reunions (at least that is what I hear most often from folks), but we look forward to our annual get-together with great anticipation. Although my family is rather large (extended family in the 3 digits somewhere), there weren't as many people in attendance this year. Sadly, this is due to a number of health issues. I hadn't realized just how many of my family are down for one reason or another. An aunt is likely soon to pass away due to complications from failed kidneys, a young cousin is fighting a brain tumor for I think the third time, and another cousin currently occupying a nursing home bed for 6 weeks awaiting a second hip replacement. Last year one of my sweet uncles, the first of his generation, passed away from Alzheimer's (and now an aunt is showing signs of it also), and the year before that a cousin lost her battle with lung cancer. Another aunt is currently dealing with a body that won't process any nutrients from the food she eats and is thus very very weak and frail.

I always thought of us as such healthy folk, with little to no complaints or major stresses in our lives. Now, as I tally them up, it hits me that we are going through a lot right now. Family is so important to me – I can't imagine not having all my aunts and uncles and cousins. I often lament the fact that I was born the last of my generation, and thus came in to things with everyone already advanced in age. I won't get to enjoy them as long, and my children may or may not remember most of them. And they have so much to teach us.

I have been asked on many occasions, since I had Ben, how many children we plan on having. A rather person question, but I haven't minded answering. We always said we'd start with one and see how that went, then go from there. We've never been parents before, we had no idea what it was like, so how would we know how many kids we'd want to have? Now that we have Ben, Chris' answer to that question has lately been 12. Of course I have no intention of bearing that many children, but I most definitely want more than one. I love the idea of being surrounded with family – I'd like my kids to experience what its been like for me to enjoy such a large extended family. So, God willing, if we are able to (physically, financially, and of course mentally!), we'd like several. Although, I've never had to care for more than one child at a time, so I guess we'll move on to two, and again go from there. 🙂

So, not that anyone is really interested in that much detail about how many kids I want to have, but that's just part of what I got to thinking about when musing over my weekend. I really just intended to pop in for a quick hello before heading off to bed. My brother and sister-in-law are watching Ben for the day tomorrow, so I'll have several hours to myself to get our house back in order, and hopefully get a few more things in my shop.

Nighty night for now…


Happy at Home

My time at home on maternity leave has whizzed by so far. Today Benjamin is 10 weeks old, so I’m halfway through my leave time. It is interesting how different I am at home than I am at work (at least, how different I feel). I’ve been puzzled by this for the five years since I first noticed it. It occurred to me the other day when I was taking a walk outside how good I feel when I’m not indoors. Everything about me inside brightens up, my brain is more awake, and I think and see things more, and…I’m just…happier! Maybe that is what is effecting me at work? Until I got my job at the hospital, I had spent every day of my life with a significant portion of my time spent outside. In every school I’ve been to, I had to go outside to walk from class to class – elementery school, high school, and college. We lived about 12 miles outside of town on 10 acres in the country, so there was always stuff we had or wanted to do outside.

Once I started working at the hospital seven years, I spent every day all day indoors. Being inside all day long, especially when I can’t even see through a window, makes me feel like I’m very slowly dying – kind of like a flower wilting due to insufficient water and sunshine intake. Whenever I feel down, I always feel significantly better almost immediately upon walking out the door, no matter the weather. It just feels right.

I must admit that the thought of going back to work really does not thrill me. It’s not the work, or the people – I do enjoy it, for what it is – but the whole corporate life, being inside all day, looking at numbers and figures, just does not appeal to me. It is not my passion. It makes me feel like I am missing life instead of living it. It is interesting to me how much women have shunned, some quite emphatically, the stay-at-home lifestyle. Our mothers worked so hard to make it into the "man’s" corportate world, to be considered as equals in all ways including the workplace, to be seen as more than "just" a housewife and mother. This subject comes back relatively often in my conversations with my great friend Holly. We love being mothers, wives, and homemakers. I love to spend time with my family, care for my son, be helpmate to my husband, clean the house, cook delicious meals (or try), create beautiful things for the home or as gifts for loved ones, and everything that goes along with all this. I even enjoy laundering and folding my son’s little outfits. We eat healthy homecooked meals, spend more time with our family and friends, get more exercise and fresh air, and are more involved in each other’s lives. I love this. It makes me feel alive. Now, why haven’t I felt this way for the last 7 years in my job? Do I have a bad attitude about my job? Do I need to make better use of my time, be more organized, work harder, or make better choices day-to-day? Or was this job really only meant to be temporary?

All people are made deliciously different. Which is wonderful. It is the spice of life. Some people want to work full-time in a job and setting like mine. But right now, I just can’t imagine wanting to do that. And I guess that makes me feel guilty sometimes, like "not everyone gets the priviledge of staying at home to work as a wife and mom, somebody has to work at these places so they can run properly and provide the services the community needs, so I should just work and be grateful about it." But then I think that perhaps some people do not find what I do all day very appealing either. Let’s see, today I have done several loads of laundry, washed our dishes, fed and changed my son multiple times, cooked dinner, picked up the house, wrote thank you notes, fed the cat, said hello to a neighbor, taken Ben for a walk outside, and a number of other related tasks. I was on my feet for probably 11 out of the 12 hours of the day. My own meals, personal hygene, and other needs went on hold, as my son’s came first. Many folks might find this to be a completely dull life. But I absolutely love it. It makes me happy. It makes me feel at home, that I’m doing what I was made to do. Home, God, family, and creating are my passion. So why do I feel so guilty about it? Its like if I’m happy, then I must be not be doing what I should be doing, because toiling to earn a living shouldn’t be fun – treating myself, playing, is fun. Not being productive. Work and fun are mutually exclusive, right?

My heart knows this is emphatically untrue, but my head is having a hard time with it. I seem to be one of those people that is only happy when they are miserable, because I tend to make things so darn difficult. Silly me! I see this is something I’ll have to think and write on more over time.

Enter the strawberry. Don’t ask me why in the world a jar shaped like a strawberry the size of a soccer ball appeals to me, but when I saw it, I knew it belonged in my kitchen. I don’t collect strawberries, and didn’t particulally need a cookie jar. But the thing just makes me happy. Every time I see it in my kitchen, it makes me smile. Happily, the price was within my budget, so I purchaed it. And now it is in my kitchen and makes me smile every day. That’s all. And I’ll just leave it at that!

Except of course for the usual photo of Ben.

Sigh. I am happy.

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Rainy Day

Ahhhh…it is raining. We here at the Tindall home love the rain – especially after all this hot, humid, muggy weather. I never used to love rain until I met Chris, who REALLY loves it. There’s just something about it. All my senses seem to be heighted during and after a rainfall – all the smells seem more fragrant, all the colors seem brighter, that sort of thing. Its like the rain washes all the dust off everything and leaves it glistening. And since no one likes to be out in the rain, it is always so still, with the just the pleasant white noise of the drops saying "pitter patter, pitter patter" (except a lot faster than that). We like to get in our car and take a drive with Loreena McKennitt playing, and talk about our dreams and the things we love.

I’m sitting here at the computer with Ben on my lap and the cat at my feet. One thing I’m discovering about being a wife and a mom is how much demand is placed on my attention. In the last year I’ve gone from one person (husband), to three people (husband, baby, psycho-cat) needing me to pay attention to them. Someone always needs or wants something. Now I am not complaining at all, as I love the fact that I have three different personalities that love me and want to be around me and need things from me – some people don’t have anyone. I just find it interesting how different my life is – how I think, what I do, my priorities, even how I talk have all changed, and are all geared around the juggling of priorities: baby, husband, cat, self. I’m starting to believe that to be a wife and mom you need a degree in office coordination, time management, housekeeping, counseling, event planning, cooking, and multitasking to name a few. Not to mention a boat load of patience! Every day is an adventure. It is challenging at times, but I am taking such joy in my son. It is so important to have an attitude of joy, or you miss out on so much in life. I may be juggling 50 things at once, Ben may be sitting in my lap filling his pants, but when he look up at me and gives me his big toothless grin and a gurgly giggle, everything is perfect.

A Day with Ben

So today was my first day home alone with Ben, just the two of us all morning and afternoon. A successful day, I think – I managed to get dressed and washed before he woke up. Unfortunately, I only got so far as thinking about my breakfast when he was ready for his, but oh well. An hour of feeding, dressing, changing, playing, changing, and feeding later, he was down for a nap. The photo is of His Cuteness sometime between a feeding and changing. I tried to get a shot of his smile, but each time I gave up and snapped a photo, he’d smile, only to stop when I tried to take another shot. Take my word for it, he smiles and is adorable.

It was an interesting day. See, I’m not quite sure how much around the house one can get done during the day when caring for an infant, especially one pretty much too young to entertain itself. It’s amazing all the different ways you can multitask, like pumping breastmilk while mixing up a cake, that sort of thing. All Ben has done today is eat! I don’t know if it’s the heat or he’s hitting a growth spurt, but it has been "food – food NOW" all day long.

However, I still managed to get a bunch of this pig sty cleaned up. I have a half finished project started in every room of the house, but hey, at least they’re started! I also was able to cook a whole meal for dinner – I made a chicken pita sandwich from this month’s issue of Cooking Light, which was very good but you might find a little dry if you are used to mayo on your sandwiches (Chris doesn’t bother to eat a sandwich without a inch or two of miracle whip, but he loved this sandwich, so I guess it isn’t missing anything). Made the roasted corn relish off the cover of the June magazine too, although I didn’t have a grill at the time so I just pan fried the corn, roasted the Anaheim chile on the broiler, then added the tomato, lime juice, cilantro, etc. Very yummy, but Chris thought was a little too spicy for him. We topped it off with fresh peaches and raspberry, and a good ‘ol Betty Crocker yellow cake with chocolate frosting. I think I could have made leather sandwiches and cardboard cake and it would have tasted good to us, as we’re so desperate for home cooking after being on the road for 4 weeks.

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He’s arrived!

Pictures are up!

A friend just shared this quote with me. Normally I think such quotes and sayings are sweet, but a little too sugary for my tastes. However, now that I have a child of my own, I see that these aren’t romantic exaggerations made to help us feel all warm and squishy inside, but exact representations of the experience of new parenthood.

"I loved him intimately, sight unseen. Yet when he lay on my chest for the first time, part of me felt as if someone had given me a Martian baby to raise, or a Martian puppy. And I had no owner’s manual, no energy, no clue as to what I was supposed to do.

The other part of me felt as though I were holding my own soul.

Now, all these years later, this pretty much says it."

–Ann Lamott