On Being A Mom

A cloudy day in the Spanish countryside, about 30 years ago, with little Laurel.

Hi all — I read once, that when a child is born, so is a mother…  It all begins in a haze of long nights, and a steep learning curve that includes diapers, feedings and the most delicious tender snuggles.

Then one day you realize, they’ve turned from toddlers to small kids, with long legs and minds of their own.  And for the next few years, the joy is in watching them grow and learn and stretch into the people they will become.

And finally, one day you shuttle them off to college.  But you can’t help but still be a mom, with care packages and talks about new horizons.  And when they come home to visit, it’s the best to have them at arm’s length again.

The truth is, you never stop being a mom.  My mother is 85 and I still depend on her for a listening ear and her long life perspective.  I still need her near.

With Micah and Aaron on the beach, the year we live in Costa Rica

So for Mothers’ Day, I’m thinking through my “TEN BESTS OF BEING A MOM.”  Here they are:

#1.  Can I start with reading with kids??  In the dim light of bedtime, on road trips as we roll along, snuggled on the couch–sharing a story, talking it through…

#2. Of course, I love cooking together– decorating Christmas cookies or mixing up brownies with a little kitchen dancing thrown in.

#3. Vacations!  Hiking in Sequoia, studying our way through British museums, intrepid touristing from San Francisco to New York– the most vivid memories are of times away together.

#4. Quiet bedtime talks and prayers and songs– sweet times that fill a mother’s heart.

#5. Sitting around the table, talking through the day, insisting kids eat their peas!  (would skip the eating peas part if I were starting over).

#6. Sitting in church together, singing, praying, worshipping.

#7. Walking & talking–  through the park in Seville, along the beach in So Cal, across town to Yogurtland, along the trail at Land’s End– everyday conversations.

#8. And then –there’s a special joy in watching your children become parents to children of their own, with aplomb and grace.  I marvel at what tender, smart, generous, inventive parents they’ve turned out to be!

#9.  Plus grand-kids!!  So much happiness and wonder filling up days spent with those little people.

#10. I’ll end with grown kids coming in the door for a stay–the noise, the hugs, the breakfasts at the kitchen table.   That’s happening here in a couple weeks for some bridal showers and I can’t wait to see their pretty faces!

So that’s it.  Being a Mom– I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

With Ani on her high school graduation trip to NYC.

Christmas Together 2016

Hello there– Hoping you had a sweet Christmas time with people you love–hugs and talks and good meals together.  We started off with a quick trip up the coast for Christmas with kids and then came home for more Christmas with kids here.

San Francisco Christmas with old AA, Jessica, Mae & Eero.

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photos: By the Christmas trees, always reading, walk to Blue Bottle for coffee.

Then home for 10 days o Christmas with family.

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photos:  Christmas cooking decorating, art projects and Christmas books.

It was a chance for cousins & grand grandparents to meet new little Lois.

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photos: Maryann gets to know her new cousin, Four generation photo with Great Grandma Lo, Great Grandma Helen cuddles Lois, Little Lo sleeping on Grandma’s lap.

My favorite times were sitting down together around the table.

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photos: Great Grandparents, Helen, Stu & Lorraine after Christmas Eve lunch,  cooking in the kitchen with Jodi, my second-sis Jenon on Christmas Eve, Christmas breakfast, Christmas night supper–tapas by the fire.

And there was some gift opening on Christmas morning after Grandpa Larry read the Christmas story.

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And a last few photos to remember the days together.

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photos: Micah, Jodi & 3 girls off to have family portrait taken, Ani & Brian (with little Lois) on a post Christmas hike, Laurel-the ever ready baby holder, family together on Christmas Eve.

Sorry for the photo overload!!  It was a fine full couple weeks.
Hope your Christmas was a sweet one and that you are hopeful for all that the New Year holds ahead…

Anticipating Christmas!

Hi friends– I don’t know about you, but I’m an big anticipator.  I get a whole lot of joy imagining all the “Christmas” coming up this month.  Here’s what’s on my mind and heart:

#1. Today, I’m picking up my sis to Christmas shop.  We’ve been Christmas shopping together since we were 8 years old, pooling our $6 to buy all the family gifts!  We talk and shop and eat our way across town! The best.

#2. Bringing home the Christmas tree that Larry’s strapped to the top of the car.  I love that bit of piney green in the house with all the well worn ornaments.

#3. Listening to Christmas music, cranking up the Messiah while I put cookies into the oven.

#4. Evenings celebrating with dear friends, hearing Christmas plans and hopes…

#5. Hugging all our kids as they come in the door to stay.  They come from far and wide–so we have people piled high sleeping in every room of our small house.

#6. Decorating cookies with the grand-girls, sprinkles flying in every direction.

#7. Christmas Eve lunch with our parents, kids and grandkids, sitting down to share a big meal with the people we love most.

#8. Our big crazy Christmas Eve supper at my bother Mark’s house. Fifty of us all catching up, giving hugs, taking pictures…

#9. Christmas night tapas (thanks to our years in Spain) by the fireplace with the kids, a quiet end to Christmas.

#10. Tranquil moments through these weeks ahead, to thank God for his son come to show us his great love, to sing, to pray, to rest in Him.  God is good.

Thank you margaretbergart.com for the reindeer.

Bittersweet Thanksgiving


Hello friends– I’m wondering about your Thanksgiving.  Was the turkey tender, the cranberries tart?  Did you eat too much pie and was there a baby or two to pass from lap to lap?

We had a sweet day with our kids in San Francisco and all our son-in-law’s extended family –with a new baby, some memorable pecan pie and an after dinner walk up the hill to see the sunset over the ocean.

But this week we also had an alarming health scare in the family.  Hospital stays, anxious nights and prayers for God’s love and mercy.  The difficult side of life.  I’m hopeful for a good recovery and thankful to be back home with my mom tonight.

Here’s a few of my favorite memories of the week up north (grand-kids, grandparents and that pie!) :

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Thankful Ani & Brian for the days with you and that baby Lois.

Early Thanksgiving


Hello all– Of course I have my share of cranky wake ups, but like Emerson, I woke this morning full of thanksgiving.  This past week has been one of the sweetest– the safe arrival of little baby Lois, days caring for her with Ani & Brian.  And it’s been made all the more sweet sharing the joy with family and friends, old and new.  So any notes, happy phone calls, texts, encouraging words…  Joy passed all around.

So I thank God for this new little soul–so much ahead for her.  It makes me happy to imagine her years to come ( I told her about reading books together and going to the zoo).  And I am utterly thankful for Larry (my co-grandparent), for family who’ve called and texted and (kindly) demanded daily photos!  For friends with beautiful thoughts and words of love.  And the happiness of watching Ani & Brian step into parenthood so deftly.  My heart is full.  I am thankful.

Here’s Ani & Brian with little Lois at the Apple store (Thanks Bri for helping get my laptop fixed!)

thanks anchor-imparo for the Emerson quote.

Farmers Market –One Morning in Madison


Hello all– On our trip to Wisconsin last month we spent a sunny morning strolling through the beautiful bountiful Madison Farmers Market.  It makes a complete circle in the park surrounding the State Capitol Building, among trees and green lawn.  We have nothing like this in my little California suburb.  I’ll tell you those Wisconsin farmers produce gorgeous things to eat!

Here’s three of the enthusiastic shoppers

Brilliant bouquets of flowers and shiny Chinese eggplant
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The Capitol building shining in the sunlight with a few shoppers resting on the lawn

My favorite stop was the bakery booth–beautiful bread– one loaf even sporting a stenciled copy of the Capitol Building!
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Crowds of shoppers strolled past flowers and fruit…

Peppers of all shapes and sizes, red onions glistening in the sun
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After all that browsing, we ambled down to sit and enjoy the view across Lake Monona.  A fine morning in Madison!

Wisconsin Part #2- Off to the North Woods!

Hey there– Here’s part #2 of our trip to Wisconsin.  Once the family all rolled into Madison, we touristed about a bit and then headed up to the North Woods–  lakes, trails and blue skies…  It was tons of fun!  (Warning: this post may contain excessive photos.  I’m trying to cut it down. I just can’t help myself!)

We started out our Madison tour at the grand Farmers Market nestled in the park around the State Capitol.  Veggies, flowers galore, and beautiful bread!  And people, lots of people!

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Photos above:  Four Farmers Market shoppers, zinnias and pretty squash

After a quick pizza lunch, we strolled back to the State Capitol building for docent tour, informative fun.

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Above photos:  Charlotte and the Forward (Wisconsin state motto!) Statue in front of the Capitol building, 2 girls on the mezzanine,  our docent in a legislative salon, looking up!

Then we shopped our way down State Street to the University of Wisconsin to sit on the lake terrace for brats, beer and their famous ice cream (made by the dairy science department!)  And after dinner, ambled down along the lake as the sun set.

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Above photos: Relaxing on the lake terrace at U of W, Micah and Jodi enjoying their ice cream, sailboats put up for the night,  sun setting on Lake Mendota.

Finally, we set forth North!  First stop was Wausau, Wisconsin to meet John’s family (he’s our Laurel’s finance). John’s mom Deb (5th from the left) cooked up a great backyard meal and the next day we explored (i.e. ate & shopped) our way through downtown Wausau.  Thanks for your warm & wonderful welcome Deb!!

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Above photos: Family portrait in Deb’s backyard, Jobay having great fun in the bookstore, Larry’s version of shopping (sitting in a coffee shop),  Shop street in Wausau. (thanks John for including a could shopping trips in the schedule.)

Next we were off to scale the peak of Rib Mountain, the tallest mountain in Wisconsin (but actually kind of hill-ish by California scale). The green, gorgeous deciduous forest was enchanting.  Simply beautiful.


Above photos:  Trekking through the forest, rocking climbing girls, lichen encrusted stump.

Continuing “Up North,” we stopped at a farm to buy sweet corn for the week ahead in the cabin, and met up with some curious baby cows.

Above photos:  meeting the calves, a friendly (cow) face

At last, we made our up to the cabin on Lake Minocqua, our home for the week.  And the next morning set out for a day on the lake, cruising, swimming, picnicking along the way.

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Above Photos:  Home Sweet Home for a few days, bringing in the boat, the grand-girls all suited up for our day on the water, local boathouse.

There was a morning visit to the Northwoods Historical Museum (featuring the world’s first snowmobile!)

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Above photos: Vintage old kitchen, local wildlife (Go Cal Bears!!),  snow mobile collection.

One day we passed a grand afternoon canoeing and splashing in Johnson Lake at John’s family cabin.  And let me say, canoeing is scarier than it looks!!

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Above photos:  Hanging out on the dock,  Brian in front of the cabin, Maryann the fisher-girl, canoe paddlers across the lake.

And here’s just a few more miscellaneous very favorite pics that I can’t possibly leave out!  (are you even still watching??   thanks for sticking with me!!)

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Above photos:  Hike around Star Lake (loved it!), Jobay enjoying sweet corn, 3 girls walking with John on our way to Lazy Jane’s Bakery Cafe for breakfast,  our “tour director” John pointing out the sights from Rib Mountain, Jodi & Jobay on Jobay’s #5 birthday in the cabin, boathouse and dock on Lake Minocqua.

So thankful for the days with the family in such a beautiful place– Thanks Laurel & John for inviting, planning, organizing, and herding us across the fine state of Wisconsin.  It was grand!