Learning gratitude

by Beth Shepherd
( November 26th, 2015 )

I want some milk.

Sweetheart—May I have some milk…

May I have some milk please, Mama.

Here you go. What do you say?

Thank you, Mama.

Kid art for Thanksgiving

Like most small children, my daughter knows the right words. We do our best to teach her manners, and one day I hope she’ll understand why her mama and papa made such a big deal about learning to say ‘please’ and  ‘thank you.’ But learning gratitude is something else entirely.

I know she is only a preschooler and kids don’t begin to really grasp the notion of genuine gratitude until they are in grade school, but I still try to lay the groundwork. We talk about emotions, how we feel and how other people feel, what those emotions look like on someone’s face or what those emotions feel like in our own bodies. Preschoolers know just how it feels to be happy, sad, and angry, and more importantly, they know how to name these emotions.

We also talk about appreciation. She will rattle off the things she appreciates, most of them things she’s heard me say or that she knows will be met with a positive reaction: our home, her kitties, Bunny, Mama and Dada, her relatives and caregivers—tangibles, what she can see and touch, people she knows.

I often ask her about “the best thing in her day,” so she can begin to identify good things that happened to her, things that made her happy and maybe even connect the dots to the source of her happiness. It’s a good habit to get into. Every night—for years now—before we go to sleep, Big Papa and I talk about what made us happy during the day. We also share a few things we appreciate about each other. I’m not a glass half-full sort of person, though I wish I was, and saying our ‘Happy Things’ helps remind me there are little things, every day, I’m grateful for.

Then the other day, when I picked her up from school, completely out of the blue, my daughter said: I’m glad you adopted me. I wanted to cry.

I’ve never heard her say this or anything close to it before. And, to be honest, adoption is not something I expect—or even necessarily want—her to be grateful for. She doesn’t owe me anything because I adopted her. Adoption was a decision made for her, by other adults, when she couldn’t make decisions for herself. Plus I know she doesn’t fully comprehend what adoption is or why she was adopted (even though we talk about it). Adoption is a fairly abstract and complex concept for a child of 4-1/2.

Which is why I wanted to cry. Being a mom is a pretty thankless job most of the time. I realize it’s what I signed up for and, as an adult, I need to expect my kid isn’t going to notice, care or feel appreciative of all the things I do to make her world go around. There are plenty of times when I know she doesn’t like me, or when I feel like a meany, a drill sergeant instead of a loving mother.

But when she said those words, I thought: Wow, sometimes she actually feels good inside that I’m her mom. And I am grateful for that.

paper art painting and feathers of turkey

Happy Thanksgiving. May a day of gratitude be yours.

Take the road less traveled, Beth

And if you want to read more about all things Pampers, follow me on Facebook, Twitter or RSS/email.

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Dormez-vous? Sleeping Lady Resort in Leavenworth

by Beth Shepherd
( November 19th, 2015 )

Sleep may be last on your list at Sleeping Lady Resort. Not that the beds aren’t uber comfy. They are. And once my head hit the pillow, I was easily lulled to sleep. But—fair warning—you might find it hard to pull yourself away from the myriad adventures that await if you book a visit to this bucolic mountain resort in Leavenworth, Washington.

Sleeping Lady Resort in Leavenworth

First—location, location, location. Leavenworth, a Bavarian village, is tucked into the Cascade Mountains. For the active vacationer, opportunities for white-water rafting, biking, climbing, hiking and downhill and Nordic skiing abound. Looking for a gentler getaway? Seek out the local wineries and breweries or check out the schedule at Icicle Creek Center for the Arts where you can watch a movie, listen to opera, jazz and  chamber music, or enjoy local theater. I was lucky enough to catch a mind-blowing performance by Flamenco Vivo, a world-class flamenco group from New York City, at the Snowy Owl Theater.

Bavarian Leavenworth

Then again, if you never want to leave the resort during your stay, you don’t have to because Sleeping Lady offers everything you need to have a stellar vacation. Right there.

Lodge at Sleeping Lady Resort

The resort is situated on Icicle Road just a few miles outside Leavenworth, not far from the Wenatchee River. Its name comes from the mountain profile that rises above the narrow valley. Sleeping Lady has a long history, beginning in the 1930s to 1940s when the site was known as Camp Icicle and home to the 983rd company of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) with barracks and buildings housing 200 men.

Wenatchee River in Leavenworth

In the 1940s to 1950s, the cabins and land were sold and became a private ranch called Icicle River Ranch where “summer ranchers” stayed, until it went up for sale again in 1957. The new owner was the Yakima Diocese of the Roman Catholic Church. Renamed Camp Field and run by the much beloved Father O’Grady Camp Field, a camp for young people ages eight and up, thrived for nearly thirty years. When Father O’Grady died in 1983 and the property was sold once again, Harriet Bullit, who had been a longtime neighbor, became the new owner. She created the environmentally friendly resort Sleeping Lady is today. More recent restoration and renovation of the property and buildings took place in the mid-late 1990s.

Sleeping Lady mountain profile

What you’ll find when you visit is a montage of elegantly rustic guestrooms nestled throughout the grounds, interspersed with buildings and outdoor facilities that include: a sauna, woodland rock pool, library, fitness room, play barn (with a fantastic puppet theater and woodland animal puppets!), chapel, gift shop, mercantile, coffee shop, bar, organic garden and the Aspen Leaf Day Spa.

leeping Lady Mountain Resort map

Sleeping Lady also offers all manner of packages from yoga to birding, fly-fishing to sleigh-riding. That’s right—Over the river and through the woods, a sleigh ride package. For the young, or young at heart, there’s onsite volleyball and horseshoes, pool, foosball, table tennis…and don’t forget the puppet theater I mentioned for the wee ones.

Cabin cluster at Sleeping Lady

Several options for lodging are available. We stayed in a loft room, but could have chosen an alcove room (great for families), the Rookery with double-decker bunk beds, or romantic and private stand alone Eyrie cabin. There are even six Canine Companion rooms (just don’t tell my cats).

Loft cottage at Sleeping Lady

Ladder to loft

Then there’s the food. Ah, the food. If all the activities mentioned above pique your hunger, you have several choices for places to quell the rumbling in your belly and quench your thirst. We ate our dinner and breakfast at Kingfisher, a lodge-style restaurant and wine bar with exposed wood beams, river rock, and spectacular views of Icicle Canyon. The Grotto was hopping until late in the evening and guests were ordering up wine, beer and spirits, and O’Grady’s is where you’ll want to grab your morning espresso or hang out and dine al fresco when the weather warms up.

Dining room at the resort

How does Snake River Farms Wagyu top sirloin sound? Or maybe grilled swordfish with braising greens, rainbow carrot, coconut milk and lime? Locally farm-sourced organic fruit? Mixed greens? Couscous? Curried winter squash and root vegetable soup? And don’t even get me started on dessert. Lemon posset, key lime tarts, vegan vanilla cake. Each of the locations offer an delectable selection along with gluten-free and vegetarian options too.

Dessert tray

And art! Awesome art. Like the Chihuly Icicles straight out of Frozen, an Evil Eye Tree, Soul salmon who “swim” along the periphery of the resort, the Tsutakawa fountains and so much more. My travel companion and I brought one of the ‘Self-guided Art Walk’ brochures along with us and took a leisurely post-breakfast stroll to discover art tucked into woodland corners and log buildings all around the resort.

Art fish by the Wenatchee River

Chihuly Icicles

Evil Eye Tree

Are you sleepy now? When the time comes a hand-hewn log bed, with sumptuous sheets and a cozy down comforter, will call your name. Which—after a long and lovely day—is exactly what happened to me!

Sleeping Lady Resort perfect for special weekends, honeymoons, anniversaries, girlfriend getaways, family gatherings, weddings and corporate retreats. Book online here or call  (509) 548-6344.

Take the road less traveled, Beth

And if you want to read more about all things Pampers, follow me on Facebook, Twitter or RSS/email.

My stay was provided by Sleeping Lady Resort, but all opinions expressed are my own.

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Paris, je t’aime

by Beth Shepherd
( November 17th, 2015 )

Paris, je t’aime. I love sitting at your sidewalk cafes, sipping espresso, dining on French omelets and Salad Nicoise.

Omelet in Paris

I love strolling along the Seine at sunset and amid your beautiful gardens on a sunny afternoon, the Tuileries, Jardin du Luxembourg.

Along the Seine

I love climbing the hills of Montmartre to look out over the spectacular city you are. I love your grand boulevards and tiny side streets, your elegant architecture and stately statuary. I will never tire of your vibrant markets, trendy shops, the lilt of the French language, your je ne sais quois.

Narrow street in Paris

I have been so fortunate to have had opportunities to get to know Paris. During the mid 1980s, when I was an international student studying in Amsterdam, I made several journeys by train to Paris.

Market store in Paris

On various trips to Armenia, Paris was our preferred stopover. We’d spend several days on the front end of each trip—joie de vivre—before continuing on to Yerevan and several days again on the tail end before heading home to Seattle. And this past May I visited Paris solo—seven glorious days all to myself soaking in everything Paris has to offer, exploring new neighborhoods and revisiting old favorites.

Paris from Montmartre

Four months had passed since the Charlie Hebdo shootings. I’ll be honest, I thought about it as my flight took off and headed overseas, and I thought about it as I wove my way through the city. At first, I walked and walked for miles, reluctant to ride the Metro. I kept my distance from large crowds. I took measures—so I thought—to be safe. But that didn’t last for very long, and I’m grateful I didn’t let my fear get the best of me, the best of my visit to one of the most beautiful cities in the world.

Jardin du Luxembourg

As horrific as the attacks in Paris and Beirut last week are, I am reminded that the only way I can ensure my safety is to avoid getting on a plane, never sit at a sidewalk cafe, maybe never leave my house. And while I can’t say I live without fear, I know I don’t want to let fear be my guide. Because if I do, I will never be able to enjoy the adventures one experiences only if you leave the protection of your nest.

I love you Paris. One day I will see you again. For me you will always be the City of Light.

Eiffel Tower at night

Take the road less traveled, Beth

And if you want to read more about all things Pampers, follow me on Facebook, Twitter or RSS/email.

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