Before I moved to Bainbridge Island, I lived a mere five minutes from Target.Daily, if I wanted or needed, I could cruise the aisles for diapers, wipes, laundry detergent, Pottery Barn knock-offs, or dig through the clearance end-caps.

From Bainbridge Island, the closest and easiest Target to get to is in Silverdale, which is thirty plus minutes away. Therefore, now trips to Target require planning, making a list and waiting until you have time to commit at least two hours (counting drive time and shopping time) to a shopping trip.

When I shared this fact about Target being thirty or more minutes away with my friends back in California, they would gasp, not being able to imagine being cut off from quick trip to Target for cheaper paper towels or a last minute birthday present. And for a while, I shared their horror and wasn’t sure if my household would make it financially, logistically or emotionally. But, what I have come to realize, and have to remind myself of, is that this lack of commercialism is really what we were looking for when we moved to Bainbridge Island.

I admit, I do miss my Target, but I don’t miss the busy streets and intersections that came with Target. I don’t miss the fact that Target was becoming the only option for shopping in my old neighborhood, because they, like many big box stores, run the small businesses out of the community.

I love supporting the small businesses like Calico Cat and Eagle Harbor Books on the island. My worry was that I was not going to be able to afford supporting them because, you do pay more at the register for the items. Now, when you factor in drive time and gas, to a bigger city like Silverdale, the price gap narrows, but the real savings, I have found comes from not being in Target three times a week. Because, yes, I would go to Target to buy paper towels and laundry soap, and perhaps that birthday gift, but while there, I would buy some note cards that were on clearance and maybe some frames I didn’t really need, but looked so cute on display. I was spending more money each time they got me through their red doors. Well, now that my trips are limited, I am buying less C-R-A-P and if I am paying more on Winslow Way, (our main street downtown) it is balancing out nicely because, I am buying less overall.

It goes along with the theory of a smaller, bigger life. I don’t really want to support stores that import goods from countries who pay their employees, pennies per hour, but the price is tempting when you see it on the shelf. Here on Bainbridge Island, I am supporting the independent bookstore when I buy a birthday gift at Eagle Harbor Books and I am buying high quality wooden toys, made here in the USA with stricter standards when I shop at Calico Cat.I am buying less junk to fill up my home and in the end a landfill, something I think more about the older I get.

So, Target is still there and I will probably still shop there once a month, but I am enjoying the small town, chain free Winslow Way for the majority of the things I need and not really missing, anymore, the things I don’t.

On January 25, 2008, in Community, Personal, by

Cute Zoe in our kitchen (before we remodeled) on Bainbridge Island

My husband bought me Jessica Seinfeld’s (Jerry’s wife) new book Deceptively Delicious for Christmas.The book is attractive and well put together and has many clever ideas about how to sneak healthy food into popular kid’s meals.Most commonly, it uses the concept of pureed vegetable or fruits mixed into batters or toppings.For example, butternut squash puree is mixed into the ever popular kid’s meal, macaroni and cheese.

After receiving the book, I parked myself on the couch and read through it tagging pages with recipes I thought I could trick my kids into eating.With a half dozen chosen, I later headed to the store and found it quite easy to pick up a few more carrots, squash, and zucchini, nothing too weird or out of the ordinary.

The first recipe I tried was the famous mac and cheese, Macaroni and Cheese 1, to quote the book exactly. Now, I must pause to say that my children are typical kid eaters. My four year old is more open to a variety of flavors, but has her favorites and those favorites look a lot like fast food and sweets. Although she likes Pad Thai and salad, she will clean up the entire playroom for a bowl of ice cream from Mora, the popular decadent ice cream shop in Bainbridge Island, where we live. My eight year old, eats like she is training for a marathon. Her preferred meal is plain buttered pasta with buttered bread and milk. She is my beige eater and is much less open to trying new foods. The real kicker is that she has heavy influence over my four year old, so when I prepared the mac and cheese and put it on the table, to my delight, my four year old took a bite and said “mmmm, yummy.” My eight year old looked at her suspiciously and took a bite herself, and first said “mmm,” to my surprise, then the “I don’t know, I don’t think I like this” followed. With that said, my four year old willingly jumped on the band wagon and put down her fork in agreement. This type of team playing on their part makes me just crazy. So, the rest of the meal was like many others, with pleading and begging on my part, with a touch of bribery tossed in to get them to finish their bowls of Macaroni and Cheese 1. Now, I must add that I loved the mac and cheese myself. Made with Tillamook Cheddar, butter and milk, there wasn’t much to not love, except the butternut squash puree, that was mixed in. However, it could not be detected once it was mixed in with the rich cheddar and butter.

My kids just do not like change when it comes to food. If I threw away all the boxed mac and cheese and spent a grueling month converting them, it probably could be done. But, this book as supposed to help me dodge that ball. Now, to Jessica’s defense, she says that she purees all of the vegetables on Sunday nights while her and Jerry talk in the kitchen (what a cute image). I am going to safely guess that Jessica and Jerry’s house is larger than mine (didn’t they buy Billy Joel’s house in the Hamptons?), so running the food processor after the kids go to bed isn’t a real problem at their house. However, at my house, one of my kitchen walls partly backs up to my kid’s bedroom, so the pureeing after bed isn’t really an option for me. So, the pureeing of the veggies was done in plain site of my kids, however, they were not sure exactly what I was doing or what I was doing it for, but they were a bit suspicious.

So, I will march on, with my food processor in hand, trying to be more deceptive next time, to boldly attempt what moms around the world try every day, to feed their children healthy food.

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On January 21, 2008, in Community, Personal, by

A few weeks ago, my friend and I visited another Episcopal Church on Bainbridge Island, Grace Episcopal. From the moment we drove up, we were both smitten by the lovely architecture of the church. The modern feel of the architecture with the richness of real wood and loads of windows, made this an inspirational setting. The church was full of people and had a lively feel. There was a great mix of young and old and just a general warm feel.

The order of the service followed much the same as St. Barnabas, which we had visited earlier, with a sermon on the topic of community and our connectedness to one another, and a good amount of music, which was a bit more jazzy than traditional, and the reading of scripture. After the sermon and before communion, the children, who were at children’s church, joined the group and then commenced in communion. The communion took a while because the church is large and the vast majority participated. The communion was in a circle fashion, as was the seating in the church and, overall, had a more up-to-date feel than I was used to. After communion, at the end of the service, the congregation celebrated birthdays and anniversaries, again in a circle in them middle of the church. Children, adults and couples, shared their celebrations with the congregation and you could tell it was a special moment for young and old. This was something I could see my kids getting excited about when it came time for their birthday.

After church, a wall was removed and there was a post-church gathering of cookies, juice and coffee, time to socialize, which spilled onto a patio, with a great view of the surrounding woods. The calendar of the church was filled with other groups on a variety of topics, leaving many options for where and when you night attend.

This is a beautiful church, full of light and sun, with a great blend of tradition and modern flair. The sermon was contemporary and the congregation diverse. It had a good, warm feel. Services were at 8 or 9:30.

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On January 20, 2008, in Activities, Community, Moving, Personal, by

My search started on Christmas Eve of last year. I am searching for a space to reflect on my life and my week, get inspiration, and to get a Bible Study program for my four year old and seven year old. I am looking for a church with traditional elements, but also a church with contemporary sermons, and a church with young families.

So, on Christmas Eve, my family and my friend’s family attended St. Barnabas Episcopal Church on Bainbridge Island. The children of the church performed a short a sweet pageant and the sermon was very brief. This is a beautiful old world church with wonderful woodwork and it has the quaint New England old church feel. I spent part of my childhood attending an Episcopal Church and was baptized in one as well. So, I have fond memories and the church here on the island reminds me a lot of the church I attended in the SF Bay Area as a child.

Since there was not Bible Study for the kids on Christmas Eve, the kids were quite fidgety, to say the least. The service lasted not much longer than 45 minutes, but with a wiggly four year old on your lap, that can feel like four hours. This church is full of the tradition I grew up with. Hymmns, scripture, standing and sitting, greeting your neighbors with peace, a brief sermon and communion. The tradition is beautiful and inspiring in and of itself. A wonderful environment for reflection and meditation. Services as 8:00 or 10:00.

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On January 20, 2008, in Activities, Community, Moving, Personal, by

Relocating from California to Bainbridge Island

Scrolling through a “What If”writing exercise I did years ago,I read down the list of things I had written:“What if I had joined the peace corps?  What if I had gone into marketing?What if I had three kids?” . . .  and so on until I read down to the last one, “What if I moved to Bainbridge Island?”I was taken aback because that last one actually did happen since I made that list years ago.Last year (2007), we moved two states away, leaving our home, family, jobs, and friends to start anew on Bainbridge Island.

While traveling through Washington state several years ago, our family stumbled upon this quaint little island with no freeways, 35 minute ferry access to Seattle, old fashioned downtown parades, great little schools; the ideal small town to raise a family. After leaving, my husband latched onto the romantic notion of taking the ferry to work and I was smitten with the top ranked school system and warm community.

So, fast forward several years and the “what if” is now reality, and from my experience this is what I now know about relocating a family.

Every City Has Positives and Negatives

Make your list and give things weight. Does restaurant quality weigh the same as school quality? Look at the positives and negatives as they apply to your life now and in the next five years. Living in an urban environment may appeal to you when the kids are gone, but the suburbs may be the way to go when the kids are home and in school.

Find a Community

When you do land in your new spot, get out and look around. Do not stay in and wait for a community to come knocking at your door. Do things you really like to do and use being in a new city as an excuse to do them. If you haven’t been able to justify taking that art class lately, now is the time. Join the gym, get in a knitting circle, join a book club or mom’s group. Online groups are a great way to start. For example Bainbridge Island has a group called IslandMoms that gives advice on topics from parenting to remodeling and alerts the community to family centered events.

Put on Your Oxygen Mask First

Or don’t forget to arrange your life so that you are happy, while you are arranging the lives of children and husband. For the moms out there, remember yourself. When we got here I busied myself signing the kids up for camps and lessons, arranging play dates, setting up new dentists and doctors for everyone, but for a while neglected myself and my personal needs. I was lucky enough to meet people and start feeling at home along the way, but it took me a few too many months to start signing myself up for lessons and finding groups I was interested in. Only when I did, did feel like I was putting down roots in my new community.

Damned if You Do, Damned if You Don’t

Don’t play that game. When my husband got a job offer that looked like it was going to be all that we wanted it to be, we were somewhat torn because we were not unhappy living where we were, but we knew living the next five years in a city, with kids, would bring changes we didn’t want.Very quickly we decided we had to make the move, knowing we would always regret it if we didn’t.Only later did I realize that regret can go both ways.If we had stayed we could have blamed everything that went wrong in our lives on that fact that we did not make the move.After moving however, I started blaming all the hiccups on the fact that we moved, determined that we would have been happier if we would have just stayed.That was a game we quickly had to stop playing.Every place and situation can lead to good or bad, I have learned perspective and attitude play a bigger role when handling life’s hiccups, wherever they may be.

What You Left Were Things and Relationships

The good thing is, you take the memories with you. I was very sad to leave my garden and all the roses I had gotten from my husband and kids over the eight years we lived in our house. I was sad to leave the kids’ playhouse behind and the great kitchen we had remodeled. I have realized now that even the testaments of love, the roses left behind, mean the same and hold the same value in my heart as they would if I looked at them daily. I have the memory and often cherish the kindness and love that they symbolize. I am lucky because those same acts of love continue to show themselves in my life. Relationships are harder to continue long distance, we all know that. And we all know that often after someone moves the relationship ends all together. That can also lead to a feeling of loss and sadness. That is ok, a wise friend taught me that it was ok and actually good to be sad about leaving people. That means, she said, that the times and relationships I had made had value and weight, were real and worthwhile. That, was a good thing. It would be “sad,” she said if I could just pack my bags, head out of town and not think twice about the people and memories in my current community. I had lived my life and that was a good thing.

Memories Can be Made in Your New Place, Keep the Good Traditions, Fold in the New

Right away start looking at ways to build family traditions and look to your new surroundings for inspiration. In our old city, on weekends, we would take long walks and end up at a coffee shop, talk to neighbors, pet dogs. Now, we are not really in walking distance to a coffee shop, but we have beaches only minutes away where the kids can gather sticks and chase crabs, good times. We used to go out as a family every Friday night, enjoying time together as a family. Our restaurant choices aren’t as wide here, so we still go out, but it is more like every other week, so instead we have pizza and watch a movie on the Fridays we don’t go out.

Change is Not Easy, But It Gets Easier the More You Do It

I can get comfy pretty fast. After changing schools, then districts as a teacher, then grades, I was warming up to change. Later, I changed careers altogether and went into real estate. That was a big change and kind of scary at first. But, as they say, nothing worth doing is ever easy. All this change, prepared me for the big change of relocating my family. It was not easy, but now that we are on the other side, I can say it was well worth doing.

On January 20, 2008, in Community, Moving, Personal, Real Estate Business, by