glutenfreegirl glutenfreegirl

5,706 posts   28,384 followers   884 followings

Shauna M. Ahern  welcome to our table

Happiness is the first half flat of local strawberries of the season, sitting on the seat next to me as I drive home. #littlemomentsoflight

I came inside from the office to find that Danny had picked lilacs and set them in the sun to dry. “These will smell incredible this winter, when I put them in the kettle on the wood stove.”
.
Reason 7816 I married this man.

Danny is home — thank goodness — and we had a day in the city while the kids were in school. Seattle has bulged with people in the past few years, growing bigger by the day, and those roads and freeways were built for a sleepy little city. Every part of the day is rush hour now, it seems. Seattle now feels more like New York than it did in the 1980s, when I first moved to the area. .
Everything changes. Sometimes that change means sitting in a line of cars waiting to merge onto Mercer for a long time. We talked and tried to be patient.
.
Still, when we reached @dukesseafoodandchowder on Lake Union for our lunch with @waeschleamy, we were so happy to be on the edge of blue water, eating seafood and gluten-free carrot cake, talking in happy quiet tones about recipes and possibilities. After all that stop and start on crowded streets, it was joy to have a good conversation in a calm, sunny space.

In January, most play happens indoors. The rain slams down on the sides of our faces — that makes it a little hard to do cartwheels for too long. Lucy still tries, but eventually she runs inside. Our house is small. We all feel cooped up. And especially this winter.
.
In May, this space is their playroom. Go kids, go. Ahhhhhh...

I remember that feeling of flying around the bases after hitting a triple up the third base line. (I never did learn to hit to the other side.) The strength in my legs when I climbed a tree, the feeling of power in my hands when I threw a dodgeball, the rush of wind past my head when I ran — these are the memories that remain from my childhood sports experiences.
.
I wasn’t allowed to play in Little League when I was 10, because that was 1976 and girls weren’t allowed into the league yet. But I never lost my love of the game. I switched to softball and played in high school and college until today. (This summer, I’m still recovering from the long winter of surgeries, so I can’t play. Dang it.)
.
Danny and I both want our kids to have that feeling of freedom in their bodies. And oh my, do my kids love to move. So Desmond is in dance class and tee-ball. Lucy is very serious about ballet, baseball, and now running, thanks to @girlsontheruninternational. She ran her first 5k yesterday, thanks to a wonderful event in a stadium filled with nearly 2000 girls. It was astonishing to watch. And the joy on her face when she crossed the finish line? That’s all I want for her in sports — to love being in her body.
.
Lucy can hit a ball with ease. Desmond is already a natural runner, so I can see track in his future. But I don’t give a damn if my kids are ever good at their sports. It pains me to hear parents on the sideline yelling out hitting tips when their kids are in the box, trying to swing. And there’s something wonderfully humbling about being a parent of a kid playing tee-ball. This little guy is far more interested in making dirt angels than another kid hitting.
.
Who they are now matters more to me than who they might become.
.
And right now, I want them to enjoy their lives. And learn to play on a team, to take turns, to pay attention, to accept loss, and to cheer on other people and not merely themselves. So even though our springtime schedule feels a little nuts with all the drop offs and practices, sign me up, coach. I want my kids to play.

There’s a morning full of baseball team photo session, game, then an afternoon of tee-ball game and birthday party ahead of us. Then we come home and wait for Danny to come home this evening. It will be a busy day, full of community and chauffeuring. That’s our family right now: lots of activities we love, every day, a riot of spring.
.
And a riot of lilacs, a new bouquet from our tree every day. .
Before it all began, I watched clips of the royal wedding. Her dress! The gospel choir! And the most beautiful sermon by Michael Curry, about the power of love.
.
“Imagine our world when love is the way. No child would go hungry in such a world as that.” .
It was the most marvelous speech. (Direct link in my profile.) “imagine our neighborhoods and communities when love is the way.”
.
And that is what thrums through every activity and drive and solving bickering fights and feeding cranky children and coming up with more solutions to feed people beyond my kids and in my day but yours as well, I hope — love.
.
Let’s practice it today.

Happiness is a spontaneous dinner invitation from the next-door neighbors, who are very much loved, and you walk in to find homemade fries, cooked in bacon fat from the pig your food scraps fed all winter long.

I took a ferry to Vashon for an interview for a teaching job I didn’t think would work. It was a half-time position and I needed full-time work. But I thought the interview might be good practice, since I was just out of graduate school. I stood on the front of the boat, looking at the island I already liked. And I swear, no kidding, a baby orca whale jumped out of the water and dove back under, ahead of the boat. I took it as a sign.
.
The interview went so well — mutual love — that they somehow figured out how to make it a full-time job. And that’s how I taught high school on Vashon for 5 years.
.
This place has always been magic island for me. I was 30 and single when I left teaching to live in New York for 4 years. I knew I wanted to return someday. I had to leave it to come back. The first time I took Danny to the island, it took about 5 minutes of driving off the ferry for him to turn to me and say, “Have you ever thought of living here again?” Yes I have. Yes.
.
We moved here the next year.
.
And now, we’re raising our kids here. There is something about an island childhood. So many of the students I taught in the early 90s are now in their late 30s/early 40s. Many of them left and came back. It is such joy to know them now, as adults, to know their children as my children’s friends.
.
And we drive 5 minutes to take our kids hiking in a place like this. They thrive in it. I like to imagine they will always love being outdoors, investigating the sunlight through trees, because they grew up here.
.
I don’t think Vashon is better than anywhere else. For us, quite simply, it’s home.

When Lucy was a baby, and I would imagine what she might look like when she was older, I imagined this image.
.
Last night, I looked over, and there she was. Here she is.

I rarely look at our website anymore. The recipes and stories remain. People still find them. One day, if time permits, I have plans to clean it all up and make it more useful. In the meantime, it sits there, a little distant now. Funny how something that could feel like an urgent driving force could now feel dormant.
.
What feels gentler, and more interesting to me now, is the dailyness of glimpses of lives here. Sure, sometimes I share a recipe. And before my surgery in January, we offered one every day for quite awhile. It liberated us, not waiting for cookbooks to publish 2 years later to share something that inspires us. Something new was born of that practice. All the best food happens in the moment.
.
Every day, thanks to an app called Timehop, I can see what we have been eating and living, on this date, back to the year Lu was born. Each glimpse appears in the same cast of light out my window today. And I’m struck, every time, by the way the food we eat is wonderfully predictable. January? Braised meats and potatoes. August? So many watermelon and peaches and tomatoes that my children’s chests have a perpetual sheen of juice before we hit the pool. And May? Every meal outside on the deck, our bodies stretching into sudden sunlight, eager for green and blue and bright bright bright after a long grey winter.
.
This one is a salad Lucy made on her own, four years ago. Sliced snap peas, red pepper, fresh mint, and a lemon vinaigrette. It is, of course, exactly what I want for dinner tonight.
.
I kept journals for decades, joyfully documenting. Gluten-free girl, the website, was an extension of that practice, at first, then the joy was replaced by duty. And now, it’s only the daily, the living of it most of all, that inspires me.

I generally stay off social media on Sundays now — it’s my reset day — but especially yesterday. This week, Danny is in Arizona with his siblings for a week, helping his parents move to their new home in Colorado. And so, on this Mother’s Day, I made my own pancakes, did two loads of dishes, and two loads of laundry, and wrangled two kids who were restless from the hot day and missing their dad into bed by myself by 9.
.
Let me tell you — single mothers are the most powerful force in the world. I have a week. There’s no pity here. But the women who do this, day after day, no reprieve in sight? I salute you.
.
Overwhelmingly, exhaustedly, being a mother is by far the best choice I have ever made. I am daily grateful for the chance to know these kids. They teach me. They crack me up. (Wow, I’m glad they’re going back to school today!) I love being their mama.
.
Yesterday, when the kids were a little stir crazy, I took them out for a hike. There’s a walk near us, a little over a mile, which we try to walk every Sunday. As soon as we hit the big open field, Desmond starts complaining that he’s tired. But I point out the first ripening salmonberry of the season, or the hill covered in so many ants that’s it’s practically vibrating, and he’s excited again. Lucy floats and twirls, imagining she has superpowers to clear paths and offer cooling ice near us, always a woodland sprite. All winter, we have been walking by the little opening where water rushes over a crumbling moss-covered log. Yesterday, it was warm enough for them to take off their shoes and walk the log to the sliver of beach on the opposite bank. And so they played for 30 minutes, no rush, nowhere to be. I sat on a log and listened. I watched the sun dapple. I saw the surge of green on trees fill up the water in reflection. And everything, everywhere was birdsong.
.
And in those moments, I remembered again: some of the best, most powerful moments of parenting happen in silence, when I can simply let them be.

May can be a riot in this area. A riot of birdsong, lilacs bursting forth, wisteria and azalea, blue skies that seem to have grown miles higher, and a feeling of warmth on the face for the first time in long cold months.
.
And every child I know is bonkers right now because of it.
.
I remember this eruption of emotional volatility when I was a teacher. “Can we have class outside?” It was always a mistake when I said yes. This time of year is a big transition, and with the light lingering in the sky until after 9, everyone is sleep-deprived and wondering why.
.
It usually takes me a few days to remember this in the midst of these transition times, but it clicks in soon enough. The answer is to cinch in on routines and structure. Strict bedtime. Every 30 minutes a different activity, with a schedule posted on the wall, so the kiddos feel secure again. They think they don’t like it but they do.
.
That’s why we brought back table time after breakfast and before brushing teeth time before the windup to school. Painting and drawing one day. Math games the next. Science experiments. Blocks. And Fridays, game time. We found this one — Cooking Up Sentences —at our local thrift store. D wanted to line up all the colors of his cards. Lucy reached for conjunction and adverb cards. Yes, I make my kids play a parts of speech board game with me. They resist for the first few minutes and then suddenly it’s 8:30 🕣, time to go.
.
And then we saunter to the car, the smell of lilacs surrounding us.

Most Popular Instagram Hashtags