Friday, May 26, 2017

Haiku #26 A little walk to the library...

When I was a kid, I remember going to the Bookmobile.  What was the Bookmobile?  It was this weird carpeted van/camper that was filled with books parked in the grocery store parking lot and my mom used to take me over there often to pick out library books.

My mom and dad read like CRAZY.  I remember always seeing stacks of books by my mom and dad's side of the bed.  From mysteries to Lord of the Rings, to anything by Ray Bradbury.  Then, when the diabetes made my dad's eyes too blind to read well, he switched to listening to books on tape.  The Library for the Blind would send us green box after box, filled with tapes and tapes and tapes of books. My mom even volunteered for the library reading books so once in a while my dad could hear her reading to him.  For Christmas a few years before my dad passed away, I recorded one of his favorite books,  The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury and gave it to him to be put on his ipod.

The truth about me is that while I liked reading, I was a SLOW reader.  I read things and then got stuck on a phrase or image and re-read it over and over...trying to truly picture it in my mind.  I loved books enough that I did become an English major, but I found my nitch in poetry. I was encouraged to read and digest poems slowly!!! It was heaven on earth for me.

Now, that I have my own kids, my 6 yr old is diving into books herself and though it has been slow, she is doing great.  But, I LOVE that my girls love going to the library.  We spend at least one day a week walking the aisles of books and picking out anything we can find, including DVDs the girls have never seen.  It is a serious haunt for moms with young kids.

Since it is easy for me to put off reading for other things, I started a goal of reading a book a month. I know that sounds so lame, but for me and my life, that is reasonable. Currently I am walking the aisles of Children's paperback books.  I can't swallow badly written young adult fiction anymore and adult fiction these days is either too depressing, explicit, or too ridiculous.  So, I tend to live in the good stories written for 10-12 year olds.

We hit the library today and left with fistfuls of books and a copy of Reading Rainbow from 1982 that my 6 yr old picked out. I distinctly remember watching this episode on PBS when I was 4.  Classics never die. You have to love the library!

The Library
by Kate Cowan

Colored, inscribed spines,
leaning right collectively-
each a bright new door.


Thursday, May 25, 2017

Haiku #25 I want to get away...

Everyone was a little grumpy today.  My 6 yr old got new ear molds for her hearing aids (which were in desperate need of being replaced).  But like shoes, breaking them in today has been less than comfortable.  At one point she announced to everyone after she took her hearing aids out that she was grumpy because she couldn't hear and her ears really hurt!

The baby has not been happy with her new ear molds either and my 3 yr old has been pretty mad at me since at breakfast I blindly tried to put the baby's hearing aids in her ears because I wasn't paying attention.  Plus, being a 3 yr old can always mean the grumps.  It stinks to be in the middle, not have as much freedom, and be made to take a bite of dinner to get dessert. My 3 yr old has just had a rough time being 3 today.

It is days like this that I stand and stare at this sign in my kitchen.  Maybe it is the warm weather or maybe it is the fact that I have been researching ukuleles (because I am getting a nice one for my birthday). Or maybe I just want to go on a vacation (longer than one night) to a place I have always wanted to see.

My husband and I are saving up for our first trip to Hawaii and  I put this sign in the kitchen as a little reminder of our goal.  I love goals and do well with them, but this one seems so far away.  It was this time of year 9 years ago that my husband I talked about marriage and decided to move ahead.  Marrying my best friend has been the greatest decision I have ever made.  Each phase in our life together has felt like a new room to get used to.  We stay there and then keep learning and doing until the next room is ready.

It really has been such a blessing to have someone who knows me just about as well as I know myself, sometimes even better.  But the greatest thing about our chaos is that even if we never make it to our island getaway someday, I know we've been able to make our home a little piece of tropical serenity and I love that we will always have each other.

Our Island
by Kate Cowan

We stay by the sea,
our blue-green pocket of pearls,
quiet tide singing.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Haiku #24 Twirling the afternoon away, or living in an all-girl world

My husband was supposed to be home by now and I'm praying he will be home sometime tonight, if the weather agrees and lets him land.  He had a business trip and this was the first time I was left with just the girls.  It was my single-parenting days and there have been plenty of eating out, mommy playdates, fast food, ice cream trips sitting in the back seat with my girls while the baby slept, dress ups, movie time, stories out loud, manicures/pedicures with the neighbor girls, and even a dance party.

My two oldest girls do not always get along very well. They can be down right cruel to each other and it is mostly because they are very much alike.  Two strong personalities with plenty of interest in the same things means there must be a fight over a dress, or a movie, or a mermaid.  But, since naptime was abolished late November 2016, I decided to start "quiet time."  Usually it was a fight to get them to relax and read or play quietly until the last two months when my girls asked to play together and I warily agreed. But, surprise... no blood was shed (as of yet) and it seemed like things were going ok.

Today, they asked for a cd of music we often listen to in the car that has songs by David Bowie, Shiny Toy Guns, Misterwives, and Dom La Nena.  The girls had me come in and they performed a moving interpretive dance to Space Oddity by David Bowie.  Not only am I glad that I have influenced my kids with some cool music (like my own parents did introducing me to Motown at the age of 3) but I was excited to catch some cool pics and video of them twirling.  I have the same types of video of me doing the same thing at the same age.  I guess this whole "dancing in the living room convinced you are the next self-taught world renowned ballerina" thing is a REAL thing.

Even so, it was fun to see them get their groove on and know they will always be able to beat me in a dance off.

(ps-the above picture is my daughter twirling while wearing a sparkling tutu as a veil (very Sia like).  Maybe an odd choice, but it was a costume that I believe the late Mr. Bowie would have approved of.)

by Kate Cowan

Sequins and blue lace,
these girls embrace the glitter,
flourishing through dance.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Haiku #23 Another Language

As many friends and family know, two of our three daughters were born with hearing loss.  They are not completely deaf and since they had family all around them who spoke English as a first language, we encouraged the English first and ASL (American Sign Language) second.  We spend so much time going to the audiologist and tweaking hearing aids, and seeing genetic doctors, it is usually my middle girl who patiently goes along or goes to grandma's when we are stuck figuring out all these loose ends. She often asks us when she gets to pick out her own hearing aids.

I talked to a friend about how bad I felt for my middle girl.  I didn't want her to feel left out and sad.  She reminded me that hearing loss would be the other girls' thing, but ASL would be OUR thing. Our family thing.

From the beginning, ASL has become our thing.  We have done baby sign language with all our girls and today, I started to see my third daughter very clearly sign "milk" as I fed her a bottle, or clap her hands together to ask for "more" instead of the fingertips touching.  I learned just this week that babies babble signs with their hands just like babies babble sounds for their first words. My youngest is getting it!

 It just boggles my mind how amazing sign language is.  My oldest still knows oodles of signs and when I have seen her get upset or angry and she refuses to talk to me, I sign and her heart melts a little and we can connect.  My middle girl is also the one who loves watching Signing Time DVDS the most and walks away knowing all the obscure signs for "closet" or the phrase "Nice to meet you!"

We never really know what might happen with the girls' hearing and there is a definite chance that it might get worse and they lose it all together.  That is why ASL has been such a sweet gift for us.  I really became aware today of how many signs I use on a day to day basis and though they are small, they help me be better.  When I'm signing, I tend to not yell as much! But, at least, at night I can simply sign, "I love you" and my girls understand me no matter what their hearing is like.

I Love You
by Kate Cowan

My ears might fail me
but your sweet little hands, won't.
We can always speak.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Haiku #22 Trip to Tatooine with some good lyrics..

It was a long day and writing something of worth tonight has been fairly difficult.  Then I opened my itunes and picked a favorite artist and clicked play.  It still amazes me how music can shift the mood in a room.

So, it is no surprise to my family and friends that I am a huge folk fan.  It can be anything with a good guitar and good lyrics that tugs at something thoughtful.

My brother is a sucker for a good beat and my husband values a good melody with proper complex backing.  Maybe it is because I am a writer, but lyrics are my priority.  How many songs do we listen to that have plain mush for lyrics?  It doesn't have to be mind-blowing.  In fact some of the most simple lyrics are the ones that cut right to the heart. But, one must go hand in hand with the other, or the music can feel too shallow.  Now don't get me wrong...I love a good pop song here and there, but a song with good lyrics draws me in and gets me thinking.

Teaching the lyrics is my favorite part of teaching voice.  We always study the music first. Then we read the lyrics and before putting them together, we deconstruct. We find meaning and look at the song in context and figure out what should be taken out of the song.  Sometimes, there is a vague context and that is when I tell my students to make up their own story which helps them apply emotion.  It is a joyful process!

One of my favorite artists is Jeremy Messersmith.  I discovered him over 6 years ago when someone on social media posted his song, Tatooine.  It was sweet and simple and I fell in love.  The guy is nerdy and awkward, but his lyrics are great. (note: We saw him in concert a while back too as he was giving a potluck concert tour out of people's living rooms.  It was called the Supper Club Tour and it was the best way to do a concert in my opinion.) Anyway, this guy will walk you along with his lyrics, making you think you know what is happening and then things change into some dramatic irony.  (if you want an example listen to the song, It's Only Dancing).

I am really looking forward to someday writing my own song.  It is on my bucket list of things to do before I die. And, maybe if I'm better than I thought, I will come up with an amazing hit that will fund us and our children for years to come.  Or maybe I just saw that in a movie.....

Hand in Hand
by Kate Cowan

Outward and dashing,
the music draws me in here.
Words convince me, "Stay."

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Haiku #21 Living Out of My Comfort Zone

I believe everyone should have an "out of country" experience.  My husband served an LDS mission in Brazil and for two years he moved city to city, teaching people about God and living in a new culture. It was eye opening and life changing for him.  Our nephew is going to the same country for his mission and tonight we had an exceptional dinner of Brazilian food.  I beamed as I saw my husband talk all about his experience abroad.

I did not serve an LDS mission, but I chose to leave my home at age 21 and travel to New Zealand to live and go to school.  My best friend and I both went on this study abroad and when got there, everyone kept telling us to be prepared for culture shock.

In New Zealand everything  was different.  It was like Europe but not. The driving, the food, the clothes, the weather, and even the sky at night was different.  But, that is what I fell in love with. I craved the diversity, the different accents and skin tones.  I loved it.  There were times I felt frustrated.  Like when I took a New Zealand history class and the professor kept teaching us all like we already knew these stories or famous names.  I kept thinking, "wait, who??"  Or when my British Literature professor had me read an excerpt out loud and then made fun of me for pronouncing things like an "Yankee."

Plus, I had never lived away from home.  I chose to attend a commuter school and therefore was never responsible to grocery shop or pay bills or find my own transportation...until now.  Living somewhere new was what I needed to change and grow.  But it was scary. However, one things remained, I had a family there.  I was a member of the church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (mormon) and I had a ward family that loved me and welcomed me.  My friend and I sang in the choir and took classes at the Institute of Religion near the university.  I never felt alone. We were invited to dinner and taken into loving arms.  Just like my husband's mission, that connection is what made the hard times and the new times,  the best times.

I often think of it there and miss the way things were.  I miss my friends and family there, but I have grown so much.  I wear this ring on my left hand and I have since I was 21.  It is a Maori symbol (indigenous people of New Zealand) called the Koru. It comes from the unfurling of a silver fern which is found in New Zealand.  It was EVERYWHERE when I was there and it stands for a new beginning. It is so bent and scratched up now, but it reminds me of where I have been and where I am going, and that there will always be another day to start over and do my best.

Thank goodness for the chance I had to leave my home and learn more about who I truly am.

By Kate Cowan

Silver ends open,
unfold across the ocean,
stretch under new stars.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Haiku #20 I think it is time for dessert...

My husband and I just got back from a very lovely night away. With having three young kids, our couple vacations are only a night here and there, but they are worth it.

Well, as we rounded up a good day of running together, shopping, and vietnamese for lunch, we decided to stop at one of our favorite places for gelato.  I have ALWAYS loved gelato.  It seems more creamy and more fully flavored and I live for the experience of eating it with a little tiny spoon. Please forgive the car shot above, I like eating ice cream in the sun-warmed car.

We stopped at a favorite little place called, Sweetaly and chose an amazing trio of Almond gelato, Frallino (like shortbread) gelato and dark chocolate gelato to share.  I was in heaven.  But, what made it heaven for me was the creamy flavors mixed with dark chocolate.

 I LOVE  dark chocolate. In fact I was that weird kid who used to go through the hershey bag of miniatures and pick out all the special dark bars.  No one liked them but I did.  I loved the bitter flavor mixed with the initial sweet taste.  It was a miracle.

I got hooked on darker chocolate choices after college when I began buying Guittard chocolate bars from my favorite hot chocolate shop Hatch Family Chocolate Company.  I also quickly became obsessed with their vegan hot chocolate.  It became clear to me the darker the better.  Which meant more cacao.  I loved anything from 60-75%.  Then I tried some chocolate that was like 90% and it tasted like soil.  Now, I practice balance. But, dark chocolate happens to still be my go-to when things are rough.

Just for fun, here are some of my favorite store bought chocolate choices...

-Lindt Truffles, blue or black wrapper
-Ghirardelli squares dark chocolate 60% or chocolate with sea salt
-Cadbury dark chocolate bar (my usual choice)
-Dove's Dark chocolate bar is fairly good too
-Dreyers Slow Churned Double Fudge Brownie Chocolate ice cream (not too bad for you but super rich in chocolate flavor!)

All of the above are perfect for a chocolate craving or they provide a reasonable way to de-stress after a really stressful day. If this goes well, maybe I will blog about my marshmallow obsession!

Dark Chocolate
by Kate Cowan

Dark, soft, and melting-
the day's sharp edges are smoothed
by the bittersweet.