25 December 2010

christmas present, 2010

It is mid December – the most wonderful time of the year. Anticipation is rising and carols ride the waves. The true meaning of the season is being preached from pulpits as malls and schedules swell. Scrooges, Fezziwigs and Cratchits alike are drunk on holiday cheer, and the pressure to purchase and to process is mounting. Yet there are no presents under our tree (we don’t actually have a tree yet), and I’m struggling to write this letter.

In Christmases past, I reveled in the sights, sounds and smells of the season. I sang the songs, spent the cash (and credit), and I was surrounded by people I adore. Only time will tell what will be of Christmases to come, but this is the reality of Christmas present: I am finding the holidays increasingly difficult to “do.”

“Give good gifts,” I implored in the last letter I wrote, and then well-meaning loved ones lavished towers of bright paper packages tied up with the string upon us… not exactly what I had in mind. Since then, Paul, Maya, Cole and I have scaled back, dared to believe, taken some risks and by way of grace, we are living a rich life in the woods. We are experiencing so much more with so much less. Even still, I haven’t figured out how this life fits in at this time of year. I’m not sure where to put more stuff we don’t need or how to live simply when packages arrive and my kiddos are thinking, “Screw simplicity, and bring on those presents!”

I thought this was a Christmas letter, you may be wondering. What about the highlights and syrupy updates? Well, in a nutshell: we sold our house and much of our stuff, chased some dreams, and on our way to Texas, we moved to an island in Washington (I’m serious). Maya (6) learned to read, lost some teeth and found her style. Cole (5) wore a cape (everyday… for a year), discovered Legos and started kindergarten. Paul sold a business, bought a boat (which is now for sale… interested?) and for fun, rides atop waves he splashed in as a child (pulled by a kite). As for me, I cut my hair (on a whim… with kitchen shears), found my way – fueled by love, Hope, Joy… and Zumba – to the bright side of a dark depression, and now, between cleaning and writing days, I teach 6-8 classes each week clad in neon and dancing to Latin music until I am all giddy and drenched.

As you can imagine, far more has happened since I wrote last. Honestly, to attempt to condense this beautiful story of the last two years – with its chapters of challenge, triumph and amazing grace – into a page would be a profound disservice. Let me say, however, that we are each becoming ourselves. We are home, we are loved and we are doing well – better than we’ve ever been – as individuals and as a family.

And yet, the space between us and many persons whom we love has increased. Wouldn’t it be nice to wake up Christmas morning to discover it was all a dream? But the bittersweet reality is my pop princess and I don’t always (i.e. this morning) see eye-to-eye on hair, accessories or the appropriate attire for school. My superhero – who’s fighting crime and a bug – just vomited all over the floor (thank God for hardwood!). And we will spend this Christmas away from people we love – some by choice, others by chance and circumstance.

But in this space and the time that has passed between Christmases past and this one, reside a good gift. And as I look to the future, I see potential (and tinsel). I feel gratitude for this wonderful and difficult and beautiful life. I have known the greatest gift of unconditional love. In my children’s eyes, I see health and hope, promise and possibility. In my husband’s arms I find strength, adventure, confidence and companionship. Thankfully, I stand beside a willing partner in this dance.

I have been given dear friends who have become family and dear family who have become friends. I’ve witnessed miracles that can come when competition gives way to cooperation. And although this letter has reached its conclusion with neither a tree, nor a bright red bow of resolution, I know that God has blessed us indeed. To Him and to you we say thanks… and Merry Christmas.

~Abi, Paul, Maya and Cole

03 December 2010

conversations, cont'd

In and out of thoughts and daydreams, as I drove my children to school yesterday morning, I tuned in and back out of a conversation they were having...

COLE: If Maya wasn't your name, what name would you want to have?

My curious ears perked up...

MAYA: Umm... Nashiko.

Nashiko. Mmmm hmmm, that's EXACTLY what I was thinking.

13 November 2010


There are SO many wonderful stories to be told and even more pictures sitting on my camera right now... SIGH.

11 August 2010


We were pulling weeds in the garden yesterday when Maya asked me a question I didn't expect to hear for another decade.

"Momma, when can I date?" she asked with a giggle, a shoulder-shrug and a well-rehearsed bat of her lashes.

At first, I thought she said rake, but after inquiring further, I confirmed that my SIX-YEAR OLD did indeed ask me when she can date.

The background blurred, time slowed to molasses, I think I went numb, mumbled something about being sixteen, stammered about not dating until I was well into college (a slight exaggeration); then I resolved to just shut my mouth and play it cool. I don't recall how the conversation ended (perhaps it's because I passed out, bumped my head and blocked the whole thing out).

OK, that last part's not true either, but it happened in my imagination when the conversation played over again in my mind last night.

Sixteen hours later, I'm watching my little girl spring about the house with her mermaid Barbie and wondering: Excuse me, whah?!? What WAS that? The dating things is bound to come up again before 2020, so what do I do?

I think I might need a strong drink and a sedative.

02 June 2010

ritz crackers

thank you.

28 May 2010

25 May 2010

reaping and sewing

Four years have passed since I first (and last) used needle and thread.
Three days remain until preschool breaks for the summer.
Two Tschetter tschildren came armed with stuffed animals,

exceptionally long hand-me-downs
and big dreams
to One mom with
a freshly dusted sewing machine and time...

(oh the possibilities)

Bear-Bear (before)

... and after!

O'Neil (before)

... and after!

20 May 2010


05 May 2010

wonder and saving grace

Today, I've set aside some time to attend to my camera.

It's amazing to me how quickly old photos pile up and get stuck there or deleted or banished to nameless files on my computer. Today, I found two pictures from the 14th of April worthy of saving -- not because of their quality, but because of their content: another day in the life of...

These photos mark a moment in a day that could have so easily slipped away save the wonder of digits and markers and paper and imagination. Thank you for all of the above and both of the below.

Late that afternoon, as my kiddos busily attended to the fantastical world that rests in the space between school bus and bed time, they ascended the stairs in search of supplies -- scissors... pencils... staples... tape...

Rapt in smiles and secrecy, they hurriedly descended the stairs to that particular afternoon's project. At one point I heard more laughter and Maya say something about removing her shirt (?!?). A few minutes later the dynamic duo returned to receive some final assistance and to share the fruits of their labor.

They absolutely floored me that day, and nearly three weeks later, I'm still smiling as I remember my august, mid-April encounter with two superheroes.

The accessories have varied, the Velcro has vanished, but come rain or shine, daytime or nighttime, school pictures or... Easter, Cole is still wearing the cape he made over SIX months ago. And when equipped with space and colors and
an infinite supply of paper, the measure of Maya, my wonder woman, never ceases to amaze.

"The more I wonder, the more I love," Alice Walker once wrote, and I re-read this morning. Mmm hmm. I keep hearing and reading that these wonderful moments will pass me by. Savor, they say. Wonder, she says.

Today, my home is quiet, and I am here with silence and time and words and photos on my camera. My house is momentarily empty, yet wonder and gifts abound. Grace has granted two more reasons to love my life, to mark its moments, to rejoice and to say thank you.

Thank you

a wooden anniversary

We were a stop on Ray and Perla's anniversary trip up to Vancouver. Thankfully. We got to spend a few days of good weather, good conversation, good wine and good food with dear friends.

Here in the woods on this island, I'm learning that distance and time don't matter as much as I once thought, where
love and friendship dwell. Nearly a year has passed, yet we picked up where we left off. Our present time spent together was comfortable-- canorous -- even sweeter than past times I recall.

Five years later, they have become family.

Perla, Ray, many thank yous, and happy Fifth.

12 April 2010

a strong finish

Spring Break Staycation.
Day Seven.

Oak Harbor, WA

La Conner, WA

Skagit Valley, WA

thank you for WA.

08 April 2010

rhyme and reason

Spring Break Staycation.
Day Four.

Stop, bad guys!
Please move out of the way
'Cause Batman saves the day.
Happy Birthday, Batman, Hooray!

Please be kind if you want to come to the party.


05 April 2010

i spy...

Spring Break Staycation.
Day One.

(thanks again for the puzzle, Grandma).