Saturday, June 30, 2007

Gettin' a little artsy...

One of our favorite summer time activities in Iowa is the annual Des Moines Arts Festival. The festival is a wonderful celebration of art and community. In addition to artist booths, there are a variety of stages with entertainment, and lots of family/kid focused activities that you get involved in the art making process of the weekend. This year was especially fun as the weather was beautiful, we arrived early to beat the crowds, and Lexi is now old enough to appreciate the experience deeper than the fun music and yummy food. Even Brea was able to contribute to a fabric mural in one of the kid booths.

One of this year's activities was a huge interactive mural. Individuals, or in our case Lexi and I working together, could "color" a 12x12 inch tile that would be joined with others to create a billboard sized mural. We worked on a tile that will help make Vincent van Gogh's The Starry Night (1889). Our section of the picture was just one of thousands needed to create the entire image. It was a fun collaboration.

In addition to contributing to a HUGE work of art, we got the chance at our 30 seconds of fame. Check out our short YouTube video on why we like living in the Greater Des Moines area. (A bit of a stretch since we live a full hour away!) You can view the Mavin family strutting our stuff here.

One of the other aspects of going to the Arts Festival that I enjoy, is it gives us a chance to be in downtown Des Moines, walking the streets and discovering places and things that you miss driving. One of our first finds, a great little coffee place called Ritual Cafe
. It's the type of place that makes me feel at home immediately when you enter the door. From the subtle hint of incense when you walk in the door, to the Tibetan prayer flags hanging over the counter, it's the type of place where I would find myself hanging out if I was a city dweller. While walking past artists booths in the festival area, we also discovered this huge old warehouse that now sales salvaged architectural items. Some of the items were in their original state, doors, windows, fireplace mantels and some items, I'm guessing those not in good enough shape to use as originally intended, had been made into to "new" items such as planters, coffee tables, and candle holders. Over all, one of those cluttered, winding collections where you could spend hours searching for just the right treasure for your home.

At the art festival there is of course food vendors. But as with many of these type of events the lines were long, in the sun, and the food greasy. We got the girls a couple pieces of cheese pizza to satisfy their hungry little bellies at noon, but Scott and I decided to wait and grab something after we left the festival. We figured we'd hit some place where we could sit down, at a table, maybe in the cool, and enjoy our lunch. As we were walking back to the parking garage we passed a place Scott had eaten at a couple times when he worked in Des Moines, South Union Bread Company. Yummy! It was well worth the wait and a great way to end a fabulous trip downtown.


Sunday, June 17, 2007

Today's post brought to you by the letter T...

It's been a busy couple of weeks at our house. As I was thinking of all the photos and stories I'd like to post about, I realized they all had something in common, the letter T. So I decided just to lump them all together into one big post or who knows when/if I'd ever get it done as individual entries! So here goes...

A Trip
Friday the 8th the girls and I headed to Ord, NE to spend a weekend with the Bengston family. In addition to our visit, which allowed me to see their newly built house, Jen hosted a The Body Shop spa event for me. It was a great weekend. As always, we (Jen and I) stayed up way too late chatting, we ate great food, the girls had a ton of fun playing, and before we knew it, was time for the Mavin ladies to head back to Iowa. It was a great time. Thanks Bengstons for your hospitality!

A Turtle and a Tortoise
First, the Turtle. Archie, a Western Painted Turtle has come to live with us. Our beloved friend Marie has moved away from Grinnell and for several reasons didn't want to drag Archie along with her. So he's come to live her in our office. It may be temporary, it may be permanent, we're not sure yet. Having Archie here is pretty cool actually. He's fun to watch and today we took him out for a romp in the yard. Lexi has done a great job feeding him every day and making sure his light gets turned on in the morning and off at night. We'll see if I'm as excited to have him here once I do a tank cleaning...a task that has to be done monthly to avoid nasty bacteria.

Now, the Tortoise. Friday night we decided to break Scott out of work early and head to Des Moines for Family Fun night at the Blank Park Zoo. Once a month the zoo stays open late and has special family focused activities and zoo keeper chats. It's a great zoo for small kids as it's easily walked in a little over an hour and there are lots of exhibits that little kids can easily see into. One of my favorites is the giant tortoise exhibit. Let me tell you, after our experience on Friday night I don't know that I'll ever be able to look at those tortoises without laughing! As we neared their area we noticed there were lots of people gathered. It didn't take long for us to realize why. Barnabus (a 90 year old tortoise who has been at the zoo since it opened in the 60s) was mounting Flap-Jack (a 60 year old female.) What we learned from this experience...
1. Tortoises can be rather quick when they put their mind to something.
2. They can be pretty loud!
Yes, there was moaning...a fact that probably made the whole experience funnier than one would expect because who knew that tortoises made noise period! One of the zoo keepers came out to feed them and was telling a little about the tortoises (hence how we know names and ages) and unfortunately there won't be any little Barney's running around from their efforts because of how fertility in tortoises work. But you've gotta give props to Barnabus for his zealous attempt at his age!

The Teeth
If you follow my blog you know that we've been dealing with the drama of loosing teeth in our house. I'm happy to report that since Thursday we have lost not one, but two teeth. The first on Thursday night was still a big ordeal with plenty of tears, but today Lexi herself extracted the first top tooth that has come out without hardly any fuss. She's so proud of herself, and we are so proud of her for taking that step. She looks so different with a gigantic gap where her little tooth used to be.


Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Back to the mat...

Last Friday I has surgery to repair an umbilical hernia. I checked in at 8 and was home by noon with an inch long incision just above my belly button and tender abs. Since I've of course been taking it easy, NOT teaching, and lifting no more than my 20 pound one-year-old as I heal.

This morning I decided while Brea was taking her morning nap, I was going to start to ease back into some yoga. Though sore and bruised, I'm happy to report my abdominal muscles still work! Following about 20 minutes of gentle moving and stretching, my whole body is feeling better. I'm already looking forward to some time back on the mat again tomorrow!


Monday, June 4, 2007

Finding our way...

"Things happen for a reason."

We hear this all the time, but not always are we in a state of awareness that allows us to discover that reason. I haven't always been the most patient, when it comes to letting things happen when they is right. I've always wanted to rush things along to fit the schedule I thought life should follow. But over the past few years, maybe it's the intelligence of age and experience finally showing through, I've tried to be more mindful and allow the lessons and coincidences in life to develop as organically as possible.

Lately those little coincidences have left me in moments of awe. This fall it was a comment from my daughter several weeks after stepping away from a full time job to be more of a full time mommy that confirmed I had made the right decision. It's been things like the gift of a book from a friend with a very pointed story about one woman's spiritual quest. It's been running across a blog by Sean Corn (internationally known yoga teacher who does work with YouthAIDS) about using her vocation in India to positively affect a terribly negative situation. Or this week it was my brother asking me to edit/read an article that he's writing for work and the sentence "
I live in a system created to consume, not conserve, and that troubles me." that summed up so many of the same thoughts/questions/struggles I've been pondering as of late.

I tend to live in my head. More than I think those who know me realize. I mull things over. I soak in as much information as I can, think through all the possible scenarios, and let my heart get a good feel for the situation before coming to a decision/opinion. Then, if you're lucky, I'll share those thoughts with you when and IF the right moment presents itself. It's this final step, the getting things out of my head that seems to present me with a challenge. Whether it's because I'm afraid of not getting acceptance for my thoughts and beliefs, or if it's because I just don't necessarily see th importance of letting that information be known as long as I've reached a place of peace within myself, I'm not sure why this is such a hard step for me. Whatever the reason, I know it ultimately stifles growth.

Recently, meaning over the past few years, I've noticed the need to discover and define more who I am. Not who I am Jenn, married with 2 kids, a dog, and a house, who enjoys yoga, coffee, and gardening. But a much deeper sense of who I am in relationship to the greater universe around me. I mean, don't get me wrong, those other titles are important to me. I love my family and friends dearly. My favorite titles in life are "mommy", "sister", "daughter", "friend", and "wife" just to name a few. I'm blessed to have what I have in life. But I've notice over the past several years a shift in focus/topic of my inner dialog when I think about who I am and why I exist on this Earth in this place and time.

Interestingly enough, while this inner thought process has been going on for years in my head, an external dialog with others in my life to parallel this process hasn't always been happening. Heaven knows if people understood where my thoughts were sometimes it might make some of the more tense relationships/topics in my life a little less so. Such as why I choose to NOT shop at Wal-mart and promote wasteful consumerism. Or why I have a problem with individuals showering my girls with THINGS as a show of their love rather than other gifts such as time or experiences.

So I find myself at this point where I have developed thoughts and feelings about topics such as my spiritual beliefs, feelings about my role in caring for our environment, passions concerning what I feel is my vocation and dreams about how I'd like to use that calling to bring more good into the world, and I suddenly am starting to feel the need to share these things with loved ones in my life, to allow for continued growth. And I am lost.

How do you begin that type of conversation?

"Well today I going to the grocery store, I need to mail a few items at the post office, and then I was wondering if you'd like to have dinner with me and discuss my passions about my vocation and where I'd like to focus my future efforts in relationship to those passions." Ok, that's not a bad one, but you get the point. I mean anytime you put yourself out there like that there is the risk of forever upsetting the balance of a relationship in your life. I think we'd all agree that it's a fact of life that as you grow and develop as an individual you're going to gain and lose people along the way. Hopefully you are lucky enough to have people come into your life who can help to nurture the individual you are becoming. At times you need to let go of relationships that hold you back from that development. But the most scary of all, at least in my opinion, are those relationship which you don't expect (or want) to change, but do for one reason or another. Essentially, this fear is probably the number one reason I don't often share my deepest thoughts and feelings with those in my life...even those closest to me.

It's interesting finding our way in life. The different paths we travel which we may never expect to explore. The people we meet along the way. The pains and the joys that are experienced. I think you'd agree with me it's not always an easy journey, especially for those of us who feel the need to actively engage in the journey, rather than just coast along on a joy ride. But it's also reassuring to know that we're not alone on our journey. That more likely than not there's at least one person out there who has felt the same way you have, who has experienced the same internal and external struggles. And if were lucky, we'll meet a few of those people along the way...when the time is ready. After all, everything happens for a reason.