Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Time in Cafe

Thanks for a good morning with Mei and Kelly. Here are some highlights before Morgan got jumped by a 18 month year old boy. She is fine.

Disappointing Reply

I woke upo to Jon's kind very very short email
"very lovely note, Jon"

Well I think that is the end to my fan mail for awhile. But the letter made me feel good to write.
Scout told me it was a bad idea anyway, I will listen next time.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

An Open Letter to Jon Katz


Until recently, I have never been a blog follower of anyone I did not
personally know, I have never written a letter to someone who did not
know me (but Santa). Yet I have been thinking about writing you for
some time. I was moved when you wrote that you would read all the mail
that came your way. And so I hope my words find you well.

Your name first entered my home in Bellingham, Washington when The
Dogs of Bedland Farm was given to my then one and half year old twin
daughters Morgan and Addy Baye. It was the first book they had with
photographs rather than illustrations and instantly became a family
favorite. We have all the read the book so many times the binding is
bent and the pages have been taped together—several times.

At the time our family had two dogs Laverne and Scout. Laverne was my
fourteen year old Springer Spaniel. I had gotten her when I was twenty
and my husband and I know her age had caught up with her. There is so
much I could tell you about Vern (if you are truly interested her
eulogy is on my blog
but all you really need to know is that she was my first dog and my
best friend.

On November 9th Vern died. Her death was quick, but not unexpected.
None-the-less it was so hard.  My husband and I had rushed her to the
vet when her body opened up. We left our girls with a friend and with
the heaviest hearts we returned to the enviably questioning of two
year olds “Vern home?.”
How was I going to explain to two year olds what I did not understand
myself? How was I to hide the stabbing pain I felt? How was I going to
tell them my closest friend of fourteen years was gone? Yet, how could
I hide my hurt? I could not and if I tried they would see right
through me. So I held them and cried reading All Dogs go to Heaven (a
book my thoughtful Mother had hid in the closet, knowing I would need
it sooner than later). “Vernie has gone to play with friends in
heaven” was the explanation I offered them, and the one I hoped was
true. “Play with Rose?” Morgan asked. And without thinking I answered

A few days after Vern died I left on a trip for work with a library
edition of your recent book in my carry on. As I traveled from one
coast to another I read it cover to cover through my tears. I am a
university professor often writing and reading thick theory but the
simplicity of your type and depth of your teaching nurtured my heart.
Through your words I believe I understand Vern’s purpose and will
always be grateful for her gifts.

To this day the questions of my twin two year olds keep coming “Vernie
home?” “Vern play?” “ I draw Vern?” and the my mantra continues “Vern
is in heaven playing with Rose.” Yesterday I heard the girls
whispering to one another in the early dawn. Addy Baye asked Morgan
“Vernie home?” “No” Morgie replied “Vern run and play with Rose. .
.Vern in heaven.”

I am sorry for your recent lose, thankful for your words, and hopeful
Rose and Vern find one another on their journey.

Rae Lynn Schwartz-DuPre
Bellingham, WA

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Swiming in the Winter!!

How about a fish

Morgan, Addy, and Justin seem sold. I am more hesitant.

Breakfast with the crew

Monday, December 26, 2011

Vacation Time

Here are some of the things we have done:

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Getting Lighter

My title is both literal and figurative. Today Bellingham had three more minutes of daylight then it did last night on the solstice. Twenty-one minutes a week is alot to gain.

I am going to resist apologizing for not posting, although I want to.  More than anything I want to apologize to my future self for leaving big gaps. Really I have not posted before now because the act of writing this blog, as I see it, is not present. Rather it is about recalling for friends, family, but mostly my future self what was. The journey I am on is so amazing I do not want to miss anything. So readers missed the girls second birthday, great family visits from Grandmothers, Papa, Granddaddy, Diane, Mica and Rich. In the time that I have not written the girls have started preschool, developed a vocabulary, been potty trained, stopped sleeping in cribs, stared drinking from cups, feel in love with Elmo, smoothies, animals, and in general have grown up. While they have a ways to go, not documenting these mile stones is what has kept me from writing. I feel so bad to have missed writing about them I think, how I can write about today when I missed last week. Yet in retrospect I did not write because I was living them. I know from my yoga practice, one I have just started revisiting (a big thanks to Sara Greenwood), that I should focus on the present. So I will.

Scout and I took a big walk yesterday (ok maybe not exactly present but close). It was the first long walk we have had in a while. The girls where with Nancy (our beloved Nanny sent by angles), Justin was at work, and I left the office to spend some time with Scout. I had no guilt for not doing work, caring for the girls, cook dinner, I was free to be in the woods with Scout and it felt so good. We hiked off to find a geocaching sight (which we did not find do to extensive leaf cover) and I realized how much I missed just walking the dogs. Not that I would trade it for time with the girls or Justin but that life has changed so much. Scout is such a quite simple guy, much like Justin (before kids). I felt good about bonding with Scout because I had never really spent time along with him. It was always the three, four or six of us. 

I miss Vern everyday but I am proud to say that I have come to peace with her death. Much credit goes to the writing of Jon Katz. If you have ever lost a friend like Vern I truly recommend his book Coming Home. In his book and his blog ,which I am now a religious follower of,  he talks about animals as service. They pay service to individuals in ways we might not understand while they are there. In exchange for their service we give them a good life of love and care and a good just death. I am at peace with Vern because I now know the service she paid to me and I know I did my best (as did Justin) to give her a good life and just death. 

Vern took me from 20 to 34. In that chapter she helped me find my family.—first, just the two of us, then Justin, Scout, and then Morgie and Addy Baye. And when our family was solid, secure and full of love she felt her job was done and we let her go. The house is so quite without her tipping around. Scout is a quite sole and many have asked about him. He is well, we are all well. And I know where every she is Vern is well. The girls still ask about her. “Vern home?” It is hard to teach them what I do not understand. When one asks, usually Addy, before I can answer Morgan reminds her she is playing ball in heaven with her friend Rose (a dog they read about in Jon Katz’s children book The Dogs of Bedland Farm)

With are all on vacation now. We are gearing up to cook a big dinner for friends. We miss family but are content to be with family as well. Morgan and Addy are such a gift. Most of you know getting pregnant was not easy for me. I like to be open about that because so many people struggle with infertility and fell as though it should be a secret. But Justin and I are proof that if you want children you can have them. They may come from your body, your biology, or neither. But when they are the people your life revolves around, they are your children. My thoughts are with Kim and her family as they return from China having officially adopted their two year old son Kai and a case of the chicken pox. You can follow their blog at

As I type the girls are upstairs sleeping, the Beatles lullaby plays throughout the house and sound of rain taps. The Hanukah candles are flickering in the kitchen, the Christmas tree lights in the living room and I am in the rocking chair near the fire. Scout is dreaming on the couch and Justin in finishing making dinner (poor guy I am not a great cook and do not eat meat). Morgan and I are fighting the never ending cold, I and all is quite. I know I will miss the girls at this age. They amaze me everyday.

Last night Justin and I laid them to sleep at 7:30 and at 8:15 when I could still him them chatting I went to up to encourage them to rest and found them both naked and giggling. Addy was quick to tell me it was Morgan’s idea and Morgan proud to report that her bed was dry. There is little more I want in life them for them to be at peace and comfortable with themselves. A few months ago Justin and I were asked by the girl’s teacher to pick three things we want for the girls. As always I took our homework very seriously. Justin and I word shopped, sought suggestions, and final came up with three wishes. We wish them to be compassionate, honest, and courageous.

We get a lot more sleep them we did last year and as the New Year approaches I have a few goals in mind but one overarching challenge to myself. I want to be present without guilt. When I am playing with the girls, I do not want to think about work, when I am at yoga or running I want to be in my body, when I am working I want to be focused on teaching and writing a career I really love, and when I am with friends and family I want to enjoy every moment rather this wish Bellingham was closer to them.

Below are some pictures from the last two months. I hope to keep you updated but make no promises and have no guilt. Happy holidays and thank you for reading.

 Learning how to make meatballs with Papa 

 A visit to san fran to see Aunt Sara

 The Greenwood and DuPre Mama's and Kids

 Aunt Mica (baby in belly), Rae, and Addy at the beach

 Mica and Morgan

 Mica, Rich, and baby in belly

 A ride on the bus

 Grandmothers and girls picking wild berries

 September 17th, Morgan and Addy's second birthday trying out their first bikes

 Nana and Morgie

 The girls and Grandma

 Morgan, Freyja and Addy
 Rae running the Bellingham marathon

The next few images where all taken on Taylor dock with Bellingham bay in the background

 Addy is hiding

 Morgan hiding

 Pumpkin picking at Stoneybrook farm

 A visit from Granddaddy John

 Halloween goes great with Hawaii

 Good friends and a last bit of fun in the cribs before turning them into beds