A Year of Change And Possibilities: May, June, July, August 2014

Oh, the spring and summer months, so simultaneously anticipated and dreaded. Months and years of preparation came to a head, as my children and I were thrust into turbulent change.

Lily turned 18 and graduated from high school; we saw joyful high school traditions and the rewards of hard work on the snow and the pole vault.

Senior Ball
Senior Ball
L pole vault
Lily setting her high school record in women’s pole vaulting.
Lily's graduation
Lily’s graduation

At the shore, we celebrated endings and beginnings of next chapters.

Cameron at Santa Cruz
Cameron at Santa Cruz
Santa Cruz beach
Lily at Santa Cruz beach.

I experienced a true ’empty nest’ that terrified me. So I traveled – without kids.

Bend, Oregon
Bend, Oregon
Deschutes River
Deschutes River

And in one of the most spectacularly horrible Augusts in recent memory, life turned completely and inexplicably upside down as dreams were dashed for one, opened for another.

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broken leg in Oregon
Moving Lily into her Salt Lake City dorm room
Moving Lily into her Salt Lake City dorm room

This quote, by William Stafford, reflected this tumultuous time precisely:

“There’s a thread you follow. It goes among things that change. But it doesn’t change. People wonder about what you are pursuing. You have to explain about the thread. But it is hard for others to see. While you hold it you can’t get lost. Tragedies happen; people get hurt or die; and you suffer and get old. Nothing you do can stop time’s unfolding. You don’t ever let go of the thread.”

Through it all, I tried to keep writing, to reflect the upheaval; as my posts were sporadic and at times, many far too difficult to write in the moment. Some of my favorite pieces from May, June, July and August were:

 Every Day Is Mother’s Day For Me

Past And Present

A Month of Quiet

Letter To My College Bound Daughter

Today, I Love You

The theme of change and possibilities culminated in the fall and winter…more in my next post.

Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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Travel with mamawolfe: Bend, Oregon for Rivers, Books, Coffee and Consignment Stores

I just got back from a quick road trip to Bend, Oregon; we try to have a family reunion there every year, but with growing families and adventurous kids, it’s hard to bring everyone together in one place at one time. I managed three days and nights of rivers, books, coffee and consignment stores-not to mention some great family time and outrageous sunsets!

Deschutes River, watching the swimmers.
Deschutes River, watching the swimmers.

For the kids, the big draw in Bend is swimming and floating in the Deschutes River-of which I did neither. I think I was the only one besides the grandmas who stayed dry – guess I’m officially OLD!

She was much braver than I!
She was much braver than I!
Bridge near Old Mill District in Bend, Oregon
Bridge near Old Mill District in Bend, Oregon

There’s lots of cool shopping in Bend – we started off in the Old Mill District. The teens loved the clothing, but I loved the Savory Spice Shoppe. I can’t wait to try out my Thai Green Curry and Ghost Pepper Salt!

Spices from Savory Spice Shoppe in Bend, Oregon

Next, the search was on for used books and clothes. We found huge amounts of both at two adjacent shops: The Open Book and City Thrift. Shopping for resale winter clothes makes much more sense in a mountain town! Did you know that many thrift/consignment stores sell used books at low, low prices?

City Thrift in Bend, Oregon
City Thrift in Bend, Oregon

We could hardly wait for coffee…and there are many choices in Bend! We headed for a favorite, Lone Pine Coffee downtown.

Cool outdoor seating at Lone Pine Coffee, Bend, Oregon
Cool outdoor seating at Lone Pine Coffee, Bend, Oregon

Next stop was Dudley’s Bookshope Cafe in downtown Bend. This place was that delicious combination of used books, big comfy chairs, delicious pastries and coffee…I never wanted to leave!

Dudley's Bookshop Cafe in Bend, Oregon
Dudley’s Bookshop Cafe in Bend, Oregon

Ju-bee-lee is a tiny gem tucked in amongst clothing stores and cafes. The shop offers gorgeous vintage-type clothing, soaps, lotions, artisan jewelry, cards, candles…it’s my ultimate kind of gift shop.

LOVED this store - ju-bee-lee in Bend, Oregon
LOVED this store – ju-bee-lee in Bend, Oregon

This cute quote caught my eye:

at ju-bee-lee in Bend, Oregon

Next, we found more gems at Rescue Consignment Shop; such fun to try on vintage/new dresses!

Rescue Consignment in Bend, Oregon
Rescue Consignment in Bend, Oregon

I love downtowns that invest in beauty.

Love the flowers in Downtown Bend, Oregon
Love the flowers in Downtown Bend, Oregon

Didn’t have time to stop here, but definitely would love to spend a hot afternoon at one of Bend’s microbreweries.

Deschutes Brewery and Public House in Downtown Bend, Oregon
Deschutes Brewery and Public House in Downtown Bend, Oregon

Can  you believe my morning view? Not a bad place to sip coffee!

morning meadow view near Bend, Oregon
morning meadow view near Bend, Oregon

On my last day, I took a walk alone back to the Deschutes River-not to swim, but just to take in the glory of the high desert.

near the Deschutes River, Oregon
near the Deschutes River, Oregon

Can you spot the desert flower?

near the Deschutes River, Oregon

river view of swimming hole, Deschutes River, Oregon
river view of swimming hole, Deschutes River, Oregon
They jumped off this?! Deschute River, Oregon
They jumped off this?! Deschute River, Oregon

On the way to the airport, a quick stop at Dutch Bros-one of my favorite West Coast chain coffee shops.

Central Oregon is home to Dutch Bros!
Central Oregon is home to Dutch Bros!

Just couldn’t resist one last sunset photo; this one of my niece sums up the beauty of my road trip to Bend, Oregon. Sunsets, rivers, shopping, coffee, books and family. It was a good, good time.

Sadie at sunset in Bend, Oregon
Sadie at sunset in Bend, Oregon

Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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Pondering Independence Day

The 4th of July, for me, isn’t the kind of holiday I really look forward to. I live in a small town. We have the parades, the pancake breakasts, the picnics, the gathering-together-in-the-park kind of celebrations. We have the swimming pools, the BBQs, the kids riding decorated bikes through town.

It just doesn’t speak to my independent spirit.

squirrel solitude

I’m not a big crowd kind of person. I love the quiet, I love small gatherings, I love solitude. I love home.

I’m not anti-social, really. I like people; well, some people. I don’t like stepping over sweaty bodies laying all over the grass. I always got nervous when my kids were little and it got dark and I couldn’t see where they were. Now that they’re teens, I get nervous because they’re too big to cling to, and too old to stay by my side. Independence turned against me, I suppose.

We’ve celebrated Independence Day lots of different ways. Sometimes we’ve gone to the foothills to hang out with just one other family. We sat on their deck, the kids rode their horses and let off LOTS of fireworks. We’ve spent the 4th at the lake, riding bikes from home to Squaw Valley and back, then battling the crowds for blanket space and then sat in traffic after the last sparkler burned out. We’ve stayed at a bed and breakfast, just the two of us, and rode bikes around the Gold Country. One year , on a trip out of state, we danced around fireworks that seemed more like hand grenades being flung by passers-by. That didn’t speak to my spirit at all.

When I was little, the 4th often meant trips to my grandparent’s house in the Bay Area. Grandpa would have brought home ‘illegal’ fireworks from Chinatown, and the cousins would light up the long, covered porch with sparklers and those snake-like ones that left an enticing trail of ash as proof that we really lit it. Lighting anything was a true sign of independence.

This Independence Day morning, I ponder the day ahead. My girl is long gone, skiing for the summer on top of a glacier in Oregon. No picnics with her today – she’s enjoying her own independent spirit. My boy is planning teenage shenanigans and reliably unreliable for family time, but horribly independent. My husband is working; I guess it’s just me and my dog. Maybe I’ll take a walk and watch the parade from a distance.  I’m sure I could dig up a few glow sticks tonigh – no sparklers, though. Light a BBQ, sit under the trees on my patio, listening to the festivities going on down the block. Independent.

I think I’ll just listen to my own spirit, and ponder the real meaning of Independence Day.

 

Dear reader, how do you celebrate Independence Day? Do you listen to your own spirit, and do what you want to do?

This post was inspired by today’s prompt |ponder| from writealm.com.

 

Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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Where Did The Summer Go?

summer zinnias

Where did the summer go?

It went home

Where tottering stacks of ironing lay neglected

To cluttered cupboards that needed organizing

And dark, dreary closets that screamed to be thinned.

It went to the garden

Where stubborn weeds towered over rosebushes

To brilliant pink cosmos borders that needed deadheading

And hummingbird feeders, parched and waiting.

It went to the kitchen

Where warm blueberry scones burst from the oven

To freshly shucked white corn and barbecue any night

And sugary peaches, plums and dark chocolate at my fingertips.

It went to sleep

In between well worn cotton sheets

Early or late, it didn’t matter

And it woke me without an alarm.

It went to friends

On early morning walks to the Arboretum

Restaurants, cafes and bars for celebration

And long chats on the couch because we could.

It went to my children

Similing in the back of a pickup truck

Laying bricks and eating gallo pinto

And making memories to last forever.

It went to colleges

Searching for that perfect place for her

Soaking in the moments, the emotions

And feeling conflicted about her leaving.

It went to my students

Scouring the internet for the latest teaching trends

Reading, writing, planning, dreaming

And creating exciting new experiences.

It went to writing

Time to journal, to think, to center

Allowing myself time to feel the words through my fingertips

And share my life with you.

It went to books

Written by powerful, thoughtful women

Dawn Wink, Kristiana Kahakauwila, Elizabeth Silver, Lee Woodruff, Ann Patchett,

And Toni Morrison.

It went traveling

By plane, by car, by foot and by pick up truck

To Washington D.C., Newport Beach, Healdsburg, Lake Tahoe, Oregon, Washington

And beautiful, strong, glorious Nicaragua.

Where did the summer go, you ask?

It went inside my heart, stilled my breath, helped me grow

Paused my mind, made me think, cry, laugh, smile

And nurtured my soul.

Happiness in Nicaragua
Happiness in Nicaragua
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Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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College Tours of Oregon and Washington: Visiting So. Oregon, Willamette, Lewis and Clark, Western Washington, Puget Sound and U of O

I know many people look towards their child’s college years with a frightening mix of sheer terror and nervousness that as parents, we might not have done everything we can to prepare them to fly out of our nest into the world. I’m right with you. This summer I could no longer put off the inevitable, and decided to face that which scares me: the college tour. A week prior to our departure we quickly went online and scheduled campus tours, admissions meetings, interviews, and appointments to meet track coaches at six universities in Oregon and Washington.

With a tight schedule, a few hotel reservations and a love of adventure, we set off for our first stop: Ashland, Oregon.

Fueled by Dutch Bros

We certainly saw some majestic scenery along the way!

Mt. Shasta, California
Mt. Shasta, California

It was refreshing to see Shasta without being in the middle of a snowstorm….

Lithia Park, Ashland, Oregon
Lithia Park, Ashland, Oregon

One of the goals of this trip was to see not only the university campuses, but to also get a feel for what the communities are like: location, location, location. Ashland’s Lithia Park is a mile off campus, and looks like a great place to hang out.

Paddington Station, Ashland, Oregon
Paddington Station, Ashland, Oregon

Ashland, Oregon is known for its Shakespeare Festival, but for me, the dozens of restaurants, coffee shops, and cute boutiques like Paddington Station would be reason enough to live here!

Southern Oregon University
Southern Oregon University

Our first official campus visit was to Southern Oregon University in Ashland, Oregon. It’s a public school of about 6,000 students.

 

Southern Oregon University
Southern Oregon University

We even stopped by on the way home to check out the track – wouldn’t you love working out if you had this view?

Southern Oregon University track
Southern Oregon University track

Day two took us north to Salem, Oregon to visit Willamette University.

Willamette University in Salem, Oregon
Willamette University in Salem, Oregon

Willamette is a small private liberal arts college located in the capitol city of Oregon. The campus houses about 2,000 students.

Willamette University
Willamette University

They have a grove of trees on campus that is supposed to form a star shape in the sky…I can almost see it.

Willamette University
Willamette University

The capitol is right across the street – great for internships.

Willamette University
Willamette University

A river runs right through the small campus – it covers approximately one square block.

Willamette flowers
Willamette flowers

I started thinking maybe one criteria she should use is how beautiful the flowers are on each campus.

Willamette University flowers
Willamette University flowers
Willamette University
Willamette University

She was a bit nervous in her admissions interview…and then had a good meeting with the track coach.

Next stop: Portland, Oregon for Lewis and Clark University. We were a bit intimidated by the formality of the admissions building!

Lewis and Clark University in Portland, Oregon
Lewis and Clark University in Portland, Oregon

Lewis and Clark is another small, liberal arts college. She wanted to visit Lewis and  Clark due to the proximity to one of her favorite places: Mt. Hood.

20130816-155251.jpg
The best part of Lewis and Clark University – Mt. Hood far in the distance.

I’m not sure she could really concentrate with this view every day – of course, it rains a lot there…

Lewis and Clark University campus
Lewis and Clark University campus

This campus was hilly and green; the tour guide says it is on park land. It felt like we were in the redwoods.

Learning to Snapchat
Learning to Snapchat

I learned on this trip that smart phones are a critical part of a teenager’s social life…so I bought her a lemonade and made her teach me how to Snapchat. I don’t really see the appeal – I found it frustrating to learn!

The next morning we drove up to Tacoma, Washington to see the University of Puget Sound.

University of Puget Sound
University of Puget Sound

Like many of the schools we visited, UPS is located in the middle of a residential neighborhood. It’s slightly bigger than the Oregon liberal arts colleges we visited – around 2,900 students.

University of Puget Sound
University of Puget Sound

The campus was beautiful and green…they say it mists here-not hard rain. It reminded us a lot of Stanford, just a smaller scale.

University of Puget Sound flowers

Their flowers were gorgeous, too!

University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington
University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington

By the time she interviewed, here, she was a pro. She loved the campus, the people, and the track program. Pole vaulting in the rain will take some getting used to!

20130816-155338.jpg
University of Puget Sound
University of Puget Sound view of Tacoma
University of Puget Sound view of Tacoma

A fast exit from UPS put us on the road to Bellingham, Washington – very close to the Canadian border. Lots of miles, but we’re still smiling!

20130816-155400.jpg
Western Washington University

Western Washington is a public university with approximately 15,000 students. The campus is nestled right next to a forest. It rained.

Western Washington University in Bellingham, Washington
Western Washington University in Bellingham, Washington

It actually never stopped raining the whole time we were in Bellingham…in August. Noted.

 Bellingham, Washington
Bellingham, Washington

Our next road trip day was the one we were sort of dreading – over 500 miles to drive before 1:00 to make it to the University of Oregon in Eugene.

20130816-155527.jpg

In case you’re wondering, we smiled when we saw this bike because it had a ski strap attached to the frame…made her feel right at home.

Friendly Hall at the University of Oregon in Eugene, Oregon
Friendly Hall at the University of Oregon in Eugene, Oregon

What else can I say about U of O? Everyone was nice and friendly here!

University of Oregon flowers
University of Oregon flowers

The flowers were pretty, too. Oh – and they have a pretty nice track.

20130816-155546.jpg
University of Oregon track

We spent our last night visiting family in Grants Pass, Oregon. Southern Oregon is simply beautiful.

Outside Circle J in Grants Pass, Oregon
Outside Circle J in Grants Pass, Oregon

I have to say that after our 1,800 mile college tour, not only was I glad to be home, but also we both felt a little less terrified about the college experience. I think she’s actually ready to fill out some applications, and even write the essays. She’s got a lot to consider: location, weather, food, community, flowers, ski teams, track teams, family, mascot, school colors…and cute tour guides. That’s what matters when choosing a college, right?

grateful to be home
grateful to be home
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Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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