Thursday, September 13, 2012

Dreams of joy and perfection

My mom and I are going to start  little school time sessions for Eloise.  She is so incredibly curious these days that it's enjoyable to daydream of activities and school goals for her. 
Kaleidoscope is a local parent/teacher store that is jam-packed floor to ceiling with gadgets, books, art supplies, puzzles, toys, etc.  I've been imagining a careful, thoughtful trip to Kaleidoscope with a well-researched list of age appropriate items to acquire. 
Instead, I got there with 9 minutes before closing, having spent about 2 minutes brainstorming in the car en route.  Poster paints and some kid-sized insect dominoes were my acquisition.  Eloise won't know the difference between how I imagined and what transpired.  But I will. 

As a teacher and a parent I imagine I should be well-equipped to teach and raise her in a wise path.  But, dirty floors, traffic, and schedules minimize my success, my self-judged success. 

Thinking about this incident makes me realize two things.  God is my Daddy and he is far better equipped to teach and raise me than anyone else.  If I spend my time joyfully imagining Eloise learning and playing with a perfectly age-appropriate toy or learning gadget, how much more time does the Creator spend doing the same for me and you and all of his kids? What if there was a cosmic Kaleidoscope store just for God to peruse and select life circumstances and friendships and sunsets and outdoor adventures for us kids to encounter in well-timed Life School!  I believe it is really something like that.  He knows how to love us and teach us in exactly the right way because he knows our love languages and our learning styles.

There's a verse in the Bible that says, "I know the plans I have in mind for you, declares the Lord; they are plans for peace, not disaster, to give you a future filled with hope."  And the good thing is his plans don't ever get interrupted by traffic or procrastination.  

I think Eloise will enjoy her finger paints and her dominoes but I wonder what plans God has for her!  I'm looking forward to finding out and being a part of them.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Back on the Wagon

Wow, I can't believe it's been so long since my last post.  However, in that time I took an intensive 8-week online course.  Now I'm certified to be an online teacher!  I don't have any online courses to teach currently but I am hoping that this will open doors for me so I can be more flexible with my teaching schedule.  The ultimate goal is to continue to stay home with Eloise as many hours a week as possible while still helping pay some bills.  During that 8-week course, I created, close captioned, and posted my very first YouTube video EVER.  Very exciting.  The video isn't exciting but the process and the accomplishment is.

Since my last visit to this blog, Eloise turned 2!  When asked how old she is she always answers, "Ten!" with a smile that shows she knows just how cheeky her answer is.  Some accomplishments are that she graduated to a toddler bed, sleeps through the night (most nights), and jumps on the neighbor's trampoline all by herself.        Currently we are in Kansas with Grandma, Grandad, Aunt, Uncle, and three cousins.  Other than the over 100 degree heat, we are enjoying seeing family we haven't seen in a long time.

I'm enjoying all of the grownup sounding words Eloise is wielding..."earlier" "maybe" "yesterday" and her delightful counting, "49, 3, 2"  when there's a lot of something.  She frequently wants to know what people are doing and where they are going.

Along with this curiousness came our first mildly embarrassing question.  Recently, we walked past a woman smoking.  About two feet away from the woman, Eloise looked at her and then looked at me, "lady doing?"  How do I explain smoking to a two year old?  Do I tell her that it's a burning piece of paper people like to put in their mouths because it makes them feel good?  No. All I said is, 'it's called smoking.' and left the subject alone.  This is just the beginning of difficult questions.  Hopefully, wisdom will arrive as needed.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Garden Notes

Unwilling to use a Monsanto product on our property, I googled ways to kill poison oak without Roundup. One suggestion was to spray vinegar on it. Another suggestion, from my gardener sister-in-law was to pour boiling water on it. Both strategies have worked! The boiling water provides immediate gratification as I watch small young specimens droop in seconds. However, it would be impractical for a large, well-established stand of the vile plants. Pouring white vinegar on the leaves of some largish plants 4-5 days in a row has had great results, though not immediate. Arugula (aka 'rocket' in New Zealand) is growing like a thick carpet. Remember, Eloise sowed those seeds and they are one thick mat. I cannot pick it fast enough. Fortunately, I found a recipe for Arugula-Cilantro Pesto in my Vegetarian Planet cookbook. If I go heavy on the cilantro (also growing profusely in my garden) the pesto is quite yummy. Eloise is growing too! She speaks whole sentences about many many topics. She happily reports on events around her, and small changes in her daily scenery. A first time babysitter reported to me this week, "she has a lot to say." Yes she does. Her current favorite song is, "Jesus loves the little chickens, all the chickens of the world. Red and yellow, black and white...." Sung to the tune of "Jesus Loves the Little Children". Nomad...hmm. I don't know if he is really a garden specimen but he probably has algae growing in the dips of the non-skid. He is sitting on stands in a marina in Kona Hawaii. All I can hope is that he isn't also harboring large colonies of Kona Cruisers. Ugg. We had hoped to sail him to the West Coast this summer but since we'll be both teaching summer school, there won't be time to do that. This means a whole year sitting by himself on the hard. It's a strange feeling to have him abandoned and far away after so much time aboard.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Gamma and Dad

Damma (Grandma) and andad (Granddad) have been here for the past 10 days. She got to be pulled around in a red wagon, picked up, read to, and generally been the main focus of attention for the entire time. Damma sewed a curtain for Eloise's room and played the piano for/with her. Unfortunately, I've now got a fractured metatarsal in my right foot....acquired while walking and carrying my sturdy little lady. It seems like it's going to be a long 4-6 weeks, especially as we're starting a road trip with Ama tomorrow to visit cousins and aunt and uncle in Portland. I'm sure it will all figure itself out, one day at a time. It's been interesting to be back in the U.S. Six months now for Eloise and me. I find myself getting caught up in the comparison game already. When we were in Fiji sitting on handwoven pandanu mats on cement block floors gritty with ant highways and years of cooking smoke, I didn't look around at what our hosts did or didn't have. But when I look around our little dome (enormous in comparison to every single house we entered in the South Pacific), I criticize the old upholstery on the couch or cringe that I don't have a matching set of dishes. Luckily I got a nice reminder of what is really important the other day while reading 1 John 2: 15-16 "15 Don’t love the world or anything that belongs to the world. If you love the world, you cannot love the Father. 16 Our foolish pride comes from this world, and so do our selfish desires and our desire to have everything we see. None of this comes from the Father." Once again, re-focused on the plethora of things/relationships for which I am thankful. I have far more stuff than I really need. Far more stuff than most of the people I met on our voyage. What's going to really matter when I'm dead and gone is relationships and my choices to love the folks in my world.

Sunday, April 15, 2012


Eloise said, "Why?" for the first time this past week. 
A banana slug was in the cat food dish.  She has seen them before and still remembers the first time she ever saw one.  BUT this time she took a step back and looked at me, "hab it?" she asked.  "No," I said, "but you can touch it.  It's sticky." And then the why!  It surprised me. Did she really want to know why the slug was sticky?  So I asked her if that's what she meant.  "Yes." she said.  Ok.  I stammered around and said something about how the sticky stuff protects it.  I don't even know if that's true.  I've got to be more prepared next time.  I don't mind saying, " I don't know." but in my head while I was trying to answer Eloise's first Why, I was already grieving the passing of this first milestone.  I certainly didn't want her first ever Why to to be given an I don't know. 

Wednesday, March 28, 2012


She also likes rocking in her own chair, eating whipped cream (that was her first time ever!), and going to the Long Marine Lab.

Home to the Dome

So, the Thom family is making its home in a dome. Eloise knows the word 'dome' means home. I was showing her a picture of a spider web and telling her that was the spider's house. She pointed to the picture and said, "dome". The days when her home was a boat seem a long time ago. Five months of being a landlubber has flown by for Eloise and me. We still shake our heads at the length of Brian’s trip and all of the acts of providence that helped him along his way. There were plenty of challenges but every single time something went awry, Brian had what he needed, or he was provided for. For example, Brian and crew set out on the last leg of the trip, from Christmas Island to Kona, Hawaii. Within an hour, a turnbuckle on the bobstay broke. This required them to turn back. There are no turnbuckles for sale on Christmas Island. Where was he to get one? Timei (our local friend) mentioned that he had some customers arriving in a few days and he had their phone number. Brian called them and they were willing to courier a new turnbuckle down to him without too much delay. And the stories like that are endless. A stranger in the Kona marina got to talking to Brian and then offered him the use of his scooter to get around for a week. Friends of a friend put Brian up in their house for the two nights before he flew out, AND they did all of his laundry for him! It’s been one month of being a two parent family again. Brian, Jeff #2, and Krista arrived in Kona, Hawaii on the 12th of February. Brian, with the help of many strangers and friends of friends, got the boat cleaned, organized, packed up, and hauled out of the water for storage in dry dock. He’s been back in California a little over one month. He had one week to hang out with Eloise, sleep, and try to adjust to life on land before it was time for him to take over teaching independent studies for the Santa Cruz county office of education. I’d been taking his place for one month so he wouldn’t lose the job. Eloise stayed with Ama (my mom) during the day, for that month while I worked. Then, Eloise had the delight of cousin Julia (4 years old) and Auntie Erica from Kansas coming to play with her for one week. It worked out perfectly. Brian flew in two days before Erica and Julia had to return home. We had the benefit of their nanny service AND Brian got to see his sister for the first time in a year and a half. I transitioned from 5 days a week to two and am enjoying meeting students. However, I couldn’t imagine missing more than two days a week with Eloise. Other than getting Brian back safely, another dream has come true. While we were away in Tonga, I longed to plant a garden again. So, with Eloise’s help, there are seeds sleeping in the soil of our raised bed. She helped me place them in their holes and told them, “night night” when I covered them with their blankets of dirt. Chard, cilantro, tomatoes, peppers, and more. AAAAH. What a good feeling it is to have a garden. Above ground, right now there are only a couple stray sunflowers that reseeded from last year. But in my mind’s eye, I am harvesting, processing, freezing, and cooking food that I get to pick myself. And then there’s those practical flowers zinnias, yarrow, and more sunflowers that I ONLY plant because they attract good bugs…. I might just accidentally pick and enjoy one or two in a vase this summer. I laugh and smile many times a day, thanks to Eloise, our sweet, humorous, social tomboy. I still find it ironic that in my teens and twenties I was adamant that I did not want to have a baby. I was even more adamant that I would never stay home and be a “housewife”. I seemed oppressive. But I feel so alive, playing games of chase with Eloise in between all the daily chores that keep a home enjoyable. And I’m not a “house” wife. I have an outdoors, indoors, library, park, Ama’s house, kitchen, grocery store occupation. It’s varied and not lonely. It’s social (making time for play dates!) and independent. I am very fortunate to have this job. Eloise has quite a job description, too. She enjoys almost everything…taking baths, taking walks, playing chase, jumping on our neighbor’s trampoline with daddy, hiding, carrying arms full of dolls around the house, making towers, talking (LOTS of language. We stopped counting how many words she uses), going for walks riding in the backpack on mommy’s back. Feeding and petting the kitties. Eloise enjoys living. It means we have lots of smiles.

Saturday, February 4, 2012


The first thing  I did when I got back to my mom's house from Christmas Island was to walk in to Ruthie's room to see if it was true.  She really was gone.  When I left we had just found out she had severe artery blockages which were predicted to slowly allow her feet and legs to die, leading to gangrene and then a slow painful death.  But, one week later she was gone.  I heard the news by satellite phone.  My brother was with my mom in the early morning when Ruthie went to be with her "Mommy, Daddy, Brandy, Whitepaws, and Cat Cat." Ruthie has been telling us for years, "me ready go up to heaven."  The previous list is who she knew she would see when she got there. It's strange to have her gone.  I miss her tight, long, snuggly hugs.  Ruthie hugged like a child, head tucked into my chest, exuding gratitude and pleasure, fully present and accepting the hug as if it were a gift. 
The suddenness of her departure made us wonder what happened.  Then Janet, Ruthie's friend, and ours said, "maybe God just took her."  That seems right.  Ruthie was in a lot of pain for the last few months and it looked to be a long haul ahead but instead she got to skip all the dire predictions and head straight to the arms of Jesus and mommy, daddy and all those pets that have gone on ahead.
This past weekend was spent with my sister and mom organizing for the services.  My favorite thing we did was to bake cookies for the reception that followed Ruthie's memorial services.  Mom asked me to bake a few dozen so I asked her to help me think of what Ruthie's favorite cookies were.  "Lots of frosting and sprinkles" was Mom's immediate response.  That sounded exactly right.  So, we made frosted sugar cookies topped with rainbow colors of sprinkles in shapes of dolphins, fish, bears, cows, stars and moons.  My last gift to Ruthie.  Her many gifts to me were colored pages, Bible verses, hugs, smiles, dances together, prayers, and a model of faith like a child.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Christmas in January

Well, here Eloise and I are aboard Nomad. Brian and I decided that two months apart was far too long so I booked flights from California to Portland to Honolulu to Christmas Island, Kiribati. The 3 day journey was long but I felt taken care of by family and strangers alike. Only one flight per week arrives and one flight per week departs from the airport here. The customs and immigration officers get most of their work processing the paperwork of the large Ecuadorian purseiner fishing ships that base themselves off the island. This is a very very fishy place. "World class bone-fishing" I've been told and read many times. The handful of other gringos that debarked with me here were all arriving to either fish or surf. In fact, there is a law that locals aren't allowed to fish for bonefish in order to leave them for the tourists.
Brian greeted us through the chain link fence next to the runway as we walked to the tiny wooden one-roomed building to get stamped in. He'd caught a ride with the immigration lady that processed his boat paperwork that morning.

We've been here one week. It feels as if we just arrived and yet we only have one week left. Yesterday was a really fun and full day. We hitched a ride to a surf break with an Australian man staying at a surf camp. The ride consisted of a car and then a local wooden boat. Approximately 25 feet long, the yellow and red canoes are all made here on the island. It's a canoe with a platform with benches across the top and an outrigger off of one side. Powered by a 40hp outboard motor, they handle chop and waves quite smoothly because of their construction. We were dropped off at the east side of the strip of land surrounding the world's largest atoll lagoon, and walked five minutes to the West side-the ocean side. Coral sand here is, white, soft and almost fluffy when dry. Eloise and I played on the beach while the guys went surfing. Brian cut his surf session short so he could have more time with us. Our time together is precious after having been apart for so long. Eloise became very agitated whenever she thought we might be taking her away from her boogey board. In fact, she didn't want to ride on in very long with daddy dragging her along the shallow waters like in the past. Instead she wanted to stand on in on the beach and wiggle around like a surfer surfing. That and collecting sea shells occupied most of our time at the beach.

We didn't get back to Nomad until 2:00. Then a batch of cookies and lunch and a little bit of clean up brought us to 5:00. time to go ashore to the Rainbow Lodge. This is the property of Simi and Sima. Jeff is staying ashore there until he flies out tomorrow. They have two tidy cottages for rent to tourists. The cottages are made almost entirely out of coconut tree products. Simi and Sima had invited us to dinner and so we arrived, took showers in Jeff's cottage and then relaxed in the shade around a table wondering what the protocol was. Soon Sima and her daughters started carrying out dishes and covered bowls of food. The table was covered. But there weren't enough chairs for all. Simi informed us that their tradition is to let the guests eat first. And then the whole family disappeared into their house, leaving us to eat by ourselves! The youngest daughter appeared at one point to play with Eloise while I kept eating.

And there are more fun times since...

radio email processed by SailMail
for information see: