Friday, July 31, 2009

Cooling down

Finally the heat wave that had Seattle in its grips has abated. Good thing too, since the boys were too hot to sleep in their upstairs bedroom and crawled into bed with me the last two nights. It is one thing to co-share a bed with toddlers, quite another with tweens. They are all arms and legs, and with two sets of limbs thrashing about all night, well, let's just say I'm behind on my sleep. With the temperature returning to more normal levels, I can send them back to their bed. I'm a total sleepasaurus and if I don't get at least eight hours a night, then I don't run on all cylinders. For instance, yesterday I meant to walk down to the Olympic Sculpture Park and after figuring out my route, I totally went the wrong way and added an additional mile or so to my walk. When I finally realized that the street numbers were going up, rather than down, I knew I needed either an espresso or a nap. I opted for the former.
Besides being sleepless in Seattle (I knew I jinxed myself after the last blog post,) life is peachy here with the boys. After reading an article yesterday on the newly coined "staycation" I realized that the only staycation I can take is one away from home. Being in Seattle, in someone else's home for a few weeks is my idea of a staycation. The only people who must actually succeed at staying home for a vacation, either a.) live in a condo with maid service and have no children or b.) have the will power of a monk. If I were actually to attempt a staycation in my own home, I would fail miserably. Are you kidding me? With all the undone projects, weeding, organizing, cleaning, rearranging that need to get done. I'm sorry, I really love my home and all, but staying at home and pretending to vacate is a total oxymoron, no matter how many mai-tais I drink or leis I wear around my neck. I'm all for the idea, but I know myself all too well. I relax most when I can't do and do and do and right now at home there is lots to get done, done, and done. Maybe when Jim and I are done building our new office and green house out back, then I can totally chill out at home, but right now that is just one, big undone project looming over our heads, reminding us daily that every time we are not wearing our grungy work clothes, pounding nails, or measuring for trim, is one more day that the office isn't getting done. So tired of we of projects, in fact, that we have made a vow that the next time either one of us suggests building something new or remodeling this or that, we can either stuff a sock in that person's mouth or go to therapy. I'm pretty sure there is a classified psychological disorder that describes our continuous engagement in tearing things down and building new things. I think it's called the MikeandLoriJones syndrome, named appropriately after my own parents who also can't let anything just be. Talk about a mirror. Yikes. So after the office (oh yeah, and that chicken coop) we are done. DONE. Next up, is chilling out and kicking back in our own yard, where maybe, just maybe, we can finally staycate.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Sleeping just fine in Seattle

I'm on vacation. Sort of. As readers of this blog know, Quinn and Logan are in Seattle for five weeks studying at Pacific Northwest Ballet. Being that it isn't feasible for Jim or me to take five weeks off from work, we've had dear friends of ours and my parents come and live with the boys for a few of the weeks. It is now my turn and I'm lucky to have two full weeks with them.
 This works on many fronts: one of my dearest friends lives here, I get my city fix, I'm not at work or home, I get to read all day. Did I mention that my dear friend lives here, and that I get to read all day? Just making sure you caught that. Actually, it has taken me a few days to "settle in" and learn how to chill out. Monday was a bit of a stir for me as I kept thinking I needed to be doing something productive in order to what? Justify my existence? Assuage my guilt for not working? It's the inner neurotic in me that sometimes makes her appearance to the outer world. I'm working on letting go and am happy to report that as of today, I've been successful. Goodbye manic lady, hello zen-master goat. This is what I've done today: wake up, go back to sleep, wake up again, stumble into the kitchen to make breakfast for the boychicks, go on a run. To top off a day of doing nothing much, we will head to a park later on to swim and frolic. How's that for learning to let go. 
I think my deeper fear regarding unstructured time is the philosophical wrestling I tend to do. You know, trying to answer such heavy questions as, what is life all about anyway? Is this a need or a want or am I just bored? How am I making the world a better place? As much as I'd like to think that I can approach such questions with all the quiet contemplation of a philosopher, I'm more like a bikini-wearing bimbo in an oil-wrestling match. There's hair pulling, biting, pinching, and all sorts of underhanded tricks to make it seem like I'm coming out the winner, when really all I'm doing is looking like a moron. Sometimes it's better to stay busy than look foolish. So having this forced down time is a good thing, and also very hard. I'm forcing myself to just sit. No agenda, no distractions, just uncluttered time to let my thoughts wander. I can't say I've had any epiphanies or ah-ha moments, but what is starting to happen is my perceptions are awakening. I'm noticing the small miracles of spider webs, I'm soaking in the laughter of the kids, I'm not ten steps ahead of myself. I'm more in the moment and and I'm noticing more. I'm happy, I'm at peace, and I'm sleeping just fine in Seattle. 

Sunday, July 12, 2009

What I know so far

It has been a week since leaving the boys behind in Seattle with our dear friends Doug and Linda. This is what I know so far: the boys are exhausted, but having fun; they ride the bus to and from PNB every day by themselves; Doug and Linda love our children as if they were their own; and some days I miss the boys so much that I physically ache. 

We've talked to Q & L twice since their classes started and their reports have been the same: amazing instruction, very personalized attention, exhausting. Q & L are the youngest boys there, so I'm sure they are working extra hard to keep up. What we didn't know prior to them going to PNB was that the boys would be instructed separately from the girls. This means that for five weeks they are taking classes with seven other boys from around the country and Canada and as you can imagine, are getting some very individualized instruction. They take up to four different classes a day, most days from 10 am to 5 pm. The classes are comprehensive and varied ranging from technique, to music, to modern. Having studied at The Rock ballet school in Philadelphia last summer, they knew that the first week would be the hardest as their bodies had to adjust to dancing all day, every day. It may take more time for their bodies to settle in this year, as they are dancing longer and more days. 

As for Jim and me, we are doing just fine, too! Being that the boys have gone away every summer for a few weeks, we easily shed our parental skins. It feels so indulgent to live our lives without the the hub of children to orbit. Suddenly we are just the two of us. We eat dinner late, we sip cocktails on the patio, we take long walks and runs, we catch up, we watch movies, and we do other sorts of fun "adult" activities...We will go up this next week for a few days to be with the boys. While we love our time alone, we also miss them tremendously and look forward to seeing them and breathing them in.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Settled in Seattle

Quick post to say the Quinn and Logan are settled in and have just completed their first day at PNB. They're sore and tired but very excited. Will keep you posted...

Friday, July 3, 2009

Five weeks of hurt & bliss

Tomorrow I take Quinn and Logan to Seattle and dump them on the doorsteps of Pacific Northwest Ballet school, where they will turn their 12-year old lives over to the rigor and demands of a five-week summer intensive. The boys are excited and ready and I just look on with wonder. As a kid, summer break for me meant endless days of roaming the neighborhood with Simone pretending to be native americans or bat hunters. Quinn and Logan have a very different idea of the the idyllic summer. They instead prefer to dance six hours a day, six days a week. Fun. I wonder if they ever pretend to be native american dancers, or bat hunters while they're working on their turn out? Doubt it. These two are so serious and focused. When they're dancing, that's all they think about. Fortunately, they are not totally myopic and when they aren't at a ballet studio, they are like most other 12-year olds: They read and wrestle and make goofy jokes and whine and want to read comic books for hours on end. I'm excited for them and continually marvel at their drive and dedication. They certainly didn't pick that up from Jim or me. We are more like frantic butterflies, fluttering about wondering where our next nectar hit will come from. Ooh, look over here. No wait, maybe here is better. Umm, here? Right now I'm being kept on task as I have elastic to sew on ballet slippers, tights to mend, and of course, needing to make sure that the boys get all the appropriate gear packed away for five weeks of hurt and bliss.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Basil vodka gimlets aka best cocktail EVER

I am sharing a recipe for the BEST summer cocktail I have ever enjoyed. If this doesn't epitomize summer, I don't know what would. 

First make a Basil Lemon Simple Syrup, which will yield enough to make numerous gimlets.
4 c. packed fresh basil sprigs
4 c. water
1 1/2 c. sugar
zest of one lemon

Bring all ingredients to a boil, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Let stand at room temperature, covered, then transfer to airtight container and chill until cold. Strain syrup through a sieve, then discard basil sprigs.

Basil Vodka (or gin) Gimlets (recipe for 6 drinks)

1 c. basil lemon syrup
3/4 c. vodka (I used a citron vodka, and have also made it with gin--both equally delicious)
3/4 c. fresh lemon juice
1 c. ice cubes

stir together in pitcher, or if making a smaller batch, shake it up in a shaker. Garnish with a basil sprig and enjoy.