Liz Stockwell

Liz Stockwell has a PhD in zoology from the University of Washington and lives in Burnaby, British Colombia. After experiencing the hectic pace of combined teaching, parenting, and academic life, she decided to be home with her two young children full-time. In her off-hours, she squeezes in writing projects (occasionally!) and enjoys exploring the forest and seashore with her family.

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Most Recent Articles

November 10, 2010
A recent Saturday morning with my son was a treasure: he invited me to play Lego with him. I made a pot of tea and brought it over to the living room rug to join him in the middle of the Lego piles. He was nice enough not to say anything about my violation of our house rule forbidding food or drink in the living room. I dug through the plastic tote full of parts to pick out the pieces that looked interesting to me. Instead of picking out his own blocks, my son watched me intently. As I started to put the plastic bricks and tubes together I felt nervous under his scrutiny.
October 20, 2010
Here’s the scene: my kids are preparing to head out the door for school. I take a moment to look at my beautiful children, filled with enthusiasm to start the day, and dressed in their clothing choices. My daughter’s outfit for her morning of kindergarten really gets me. She’s wearing a deep purple taffeta dress with a velvet bodice and rhinestone-studded sash. To match her school “gown”, she’s chosen navy and maroon striped tights, a sparkly fuchsia headband, and her favorite ratty pink and blue sneakers. Before I’m aware of my reaction, my daughter looks at me and says, “Oh, Mama!
September 29, 2010
I’ve been thinking about a different sort of gap year lately. Not the year full of promise, excitement and life experience that some graduating high school seniors plan before starting college (and mentioned in recent Mama PhD blogs), but instead the gap years in my life, where I’ve been a stay-at-home mom. These years are also filled with promise, excitement, life experiences, and learning how to parent my children.
September 15, 2010
Sometimes it seems like the first days of school go on and on. Last week was the official first day of school, but only for an hour and not for my kindergartener. She dressed up anyway to celebrate her brother’s first day. Her first "day" in the classroom was a twenty-minute parent-child meeting with the teacher. And nearly a week after everyone else started school, the kindergarteners spent two one-hour mornings in the classroom before finally attending for the full three hours.
August 18, 2010
I’ve come to the end of a three-week writing retreat. My husband and I have both been working on writing projects as visiting scholars at the Whiteley Center at the Friday Harbor Labs on San Juan Island, Washington. Over the years the labs have become more than an academic setting for us; it’s a second home for our family. Although we’re only seasonal and short-term residents, we’ve come to know people at the labs and in the community with whom we renew ties every year.
August 4, 2010
This summer I thought I’d teach my daughter to read. I’m not sure why I had in mind that we’d just sit down everyday for reading lessons. This approach didn’t work with my son, but some of my daughter’s friends have learned to read this way, so I thought we’d try. After the first couple of short lessons I realized it wasn’t going to work. We both got frustrated, and my daughter told me it was boring. She was eager to get to the good parts in the stories without having to work hard. I don’t blame her. I can’t stick with a book either if it’s too much work and little reward.
July 21, 2010
About a month ago the choir I sing with had the chance to be accompanied by a jazz quartet. We sang one of the choir’s standards, William Byrd’s Mass for Four Voices, but instead of our usual a cappella version, the quartet improvised beneath us as we sang our usual parts. It was late Renaissance/early Baroque meets 20th Century jazz. Although it seems strange, it sounded absolutely glorious!
July 6, 2010
This week I'm reporting from Edmonton, Alberta, at the half-way point of our family vacation. With our car looking like something out of the Beverly Hillbillies, we took off for our first ever family road trip. Now, a car trip with kids ages 5 and 9 might not seem like such a big deal, and some of you (those with particularly calm, easy-going children, perhaps?) might be wondering why we've never done this before. My husband and I both remember fondly long drives to see relatives throughout Canada and the U.S.
June 23, 2010
When my son was in kindergarten his teacher gave the class an exercise designed to help the children define what was important in their lives. They were asked to draw a series of concentric circles, with room within each circle to add drawings. In the center circle, the children drew the people or things that were most important to them, while the outer circles contained things of decreasing importance. When my son showed me his drawing, I saw that he’d made several perfect circles, but his only drawings, at the very center, were of our two cats.
June 2, 2010
It’s damp. It’s dreary. As I write this, I look out my window and fog obscures the mid-morning light. After a teasing May taste of summer, the sun seems to have disappeared and with it my get-up-and-go. Why should I be in such a slump when I’m thankful for so much in my life? It’s after days like these that my brain thinks the middle of the night is the best time to stir the stew of worries in my head. No concern is too trivial—“The basil plants I paid $1.25 for are shrivelling up! What’s happened to my career? Those wrong notes I sang in choir last night were so embarrassing!

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