April 15, 2014

Extreme Waterfront

We enjoyed a little last minute family vacation over the weekend and got our first taste of the ocean for the season. Our friends generously offered their waterfront cottage on the south shore, and I think we were all amazed by just how close we actually were to that water! It really felt as though we were out to sea, inspiring a game that had Little Smith spinning in circles giggling, 'I've been swept out to sea!' for the better part of an afternoon.

It finally has been feeling like spring here (I am not discussing the forecast for the rest of this week though), and I think the taste of warm weather got to my head because I somehow entirely overlooked a coat for Little Smith. He weathered the very windy and occasionally rainy trip in doubled up hoodies and his trusty hat, and despite an accidental beach soaking, I think he managed to stay warm enough.

I always prefer being anywhere in the off season, probably owing to my hermit tendencies, but I can't understand why anyone likes a crowd. Strolling around the sleepy streets and beaches and hearing little beyond the roar of the ocean was my perfect idea of a weekend.

This was also our first attempt at letting Little Smith sleep in a regular bed (aside from his big boy bed at home) and he did beautifully, but poor baby Roo was a mess in her travel crib and despite that amazing ocean lullaby, none of us got much sleep. The silver lining was a truly glorious sunrise, who knew that having children would give me 'the opportunity' to appreciate so many sunrises (ahem, yeah... trying to find the positive in a life wherein sleeping until 6AM feels indulgent).

The best part of the trip, aside from getting to stay closer to the ocean than I ever dreamed possible, was that it only took an hour to get home. I sometimes wonder why we have chosen this city to raise our family, it's so expensive, the winters are brutal, the people aren't always the warmest and it can be difficult to make friends... but then I drive up to New Hampshire and enjoy a great hike or sneak in a quick trip like this one to the ocean and remember how rare it is to get the benefits of city life with such proximity to nature's wonders. It's probably just the promise of spring talking, but I am feeling very lucky to be right where I am.

*and since we were in a super photogenic place, of course our camera battery died before we could get a single shot. Thank you iPhones, for always bailing out our flaky selves!

April 11, 2014

Play Porch

I used to have this recurring dream, back when we lived in a 500 square foot apartment (filled to the brim with snowboards, skis, skateboards, home canned jellies and relishes, home brewed beer, potted vegetable gardens, art and drafting supplies, a cat plus litter box, and a fish tank!). The dream was that I discovered some hidden room or extra space, it had been there the whole time but somehow I'd just never realized it was right under my nose. 

That's pretty much how I feel about our new little 'play porch', it's like magic extra space that we discovered overnight. I always knew I wanted to use this porch as a play area, but the floors were covered in moldy AstroTurf with various layers of asphalt and waterproofing paper and I just imagined whatever was under there was unusable and we'd need to put in some kind of new flooring. The access door was also in Little Smith's original nursery, and when I was pregnant with him and feeling overwhelmed with the idea of getting it together before he was born, I sealed up the door so that it would be less drafty and put the project on hold. 

Once we converted the nursery to an office last fall, I wasn't so paranoid about opening up the porch can of worms, and of course the second baby increased our need for space as well. I patiently waited for some reasonable weather to get going on this project and when I finally tore up everything that was nailed down to the floors, I was very pleasantly surprised that the original subfloor was in great condition and totally usable. We just sanded the floorboards lightly, filled some of the nail holes, and painted them with a high gloss exterior floor paint which instantly transformed the whole space.

We had a very tight budget and spent less than $250 for everything, start to finish. Much of the furniture is from Ikea, because that's what we had laying around for repurposing and what was affordable. The bench is a 'vintage' Ikea Lack shelving unit that we put on wheels (you can't see them in any of these pictures but trust me they are there, because we really do think everything is better with some wheels!). It was such a tight fit that we had to assemble it in place, stressful for a minute but it worked out perfectly. 

Little Smith is completely in love with this space. He was so excited through the whole process and really helped quite a bit. It was his idea to get all the hanging cups under the windows for him to stash his various collections (acorns, pine cones, and pumpkin stems to name a few) and he has been out there bird watching or scooting / crashing into the bean bag every morning this week. Baby Roo is pretty much happy anywhere, but she certainly enjoys watching her big brother keep busy and I'm sure in no time she will be tearing this place apart. It just makes me smile every time I come out here, and we are looking forward to doing a few planting projects on the windowsills as well. After a long and dark winter, a bright and fresh space was just what we all needed. I can already feel that this is going to be a very good summer!

April 8, 2014

13/52 +14/52


This week he: finally started feeling better and eating up a storm / was super excited about his new play porch and rode his scooter back and forth more times than we could count / brought his ski map to school to share with all of his friends / splashed in the stream and decided maybe it was okay that the snow has disappeared / told mama she looked 'bootiful' on her way out to class (made my night!) / pushed his baby sister all around in her stroller, such a sweet big brother.

This week she: worked at trying to crawl, it's slow going / enjoyed rolling around and watching her brother skoot on the new play porch / got very frustrated whenever a toy was taken away with the saddest little cry in history / had her first nap in the crib, it was only 15 minutes but still note worthy!.

Last week he: survived the tail end of his flu and ate nothing but avocado maki rolls / insisted on helping pull up carpet and asphalt, among other layers, from the porch (hoping there's no long term effects!) / went to see the muppet movie with mama and kept asking, 'what that frog doing?' / was too tired to run and play, it was rough.

Last week she: started saying dada (at least we think that's what she's saying, James is particularly certain!) / put up with a lot of crying and tantrums from her sick big brother, she is such a sport / started doing a lot of poking with her index finger and eating smaller finger foods / was the only tough cookie who never got sick (wood is being knocked).

*Lots of eye candy in the form of sunny play porches and cute babies coming as soon as I can sort through pictures, we are officially out of the dark and in shiny happy mode over here... hurray! (And yes, these are separate weeks despite the redundant baby sweater. What can I say, I like it and she'll be wearing it daily while it fits :)

April 6, 2014

Porch and Puke

Last week I was stuck in traffic, pushing back waves of nausea and alternating between pissed and panicked. It was midterm reviews for my evening studio, and it's very bad form for the teacher not to show. 

Little Smith had been sick for weeks, waking all hours of the night with violent screams and puking whatever little food was left in his exhausted belly. I was growing acclimated to the lightest form of sleeping, allowing myself to drift just enough to keep the body from failing, but at constant alert to run to his sick bed or nurse the startled baby.

James was working a million hours again, and fighting his own version of the flu as I resisted resenting him for not helping more with the kids, knowing that working 14 hour days and then pitching in with laundry and dishes isn't slacking. Still, serving as the sole emotional anchor for a distraught and ill little boy as well as a baby with her own case of separation anxiety was completely depleting.

And as I was reaching that breaking point, I found myself in traffic; frustrated and frantic, worried about having left my sick child and coming down with what would become my own flu a few hours later. All entirely trivial problems to suffer in a supremely fortunate life, yet however insignificant... it was starting to feel very dark. I was out of control, a state of being that gnaws at the most tender edges of my insecurities.

As we entered the third week of the stomach bug, I became obsessed with tackling a small project that I had planned for the screened porch, turning it into a play space for the summer. I ripped up the carpet and asphalt flooring in a predawn frenzy, I yanked out stray nails and bullied James to help trim back old roof flashing in his few free hours of down time. I couldn't get my kid well, every holistic remedy researched and implemented, disappointing doctors visits that made me sorry I'd bothered, careful diets and persistent hydration, and still he was sick.

So I primed the porch floor in the dark of night with the light from my headlamp, pausing to run to my son and hold him with paint covered hands as he threw up the last of his dinner. I was near tears, splattered with both paint and vomit, but determined to make that floor white before dawn... because this I could control, I could will this space into being, and I would.

The next morning, Little Smith woke up miraculously better. It wasn't gradual, he didn't start with rice or crackers and slowly work his way to holding down food, he was just suddenly and entirely well. James made him pancakes, and as the sun rose I took him out to see his new playspace. He ran in circles and laughed, simple things I had missed for so many weeks that I'd almost forgot how effortless they could be. I sat on the floor, bright white and cool with morning air, baby balanced between my legs and camera in my hands... just watching all my light come back. 

March 30, 2014



This week he: found a little red ball in the sandbox at school and later discovered it was magnetic, he is quite attached / realized he wasn't done with the never-ending tummy bug / spent a lot of time resting, reading, and watching 'thomas the tank engine' while we all dealt with sickness / still wanted his sister to sleep in his room each night despite being sick

This week she: was the only member of the family not to get sick (fingers crossed, she's got some magic) / got much better at eating solid foods, pretty funny since the rest of us have been struggling with food / got very used to moving into mommy and daddy's bed in the middle of the night- sigh / slept very very little, but was still always happy... the rest of us are exhausted, but she's happy!

*So yeah, it's been a bit rough here. Little Smith has a bizarre stomach virus that came and went and came again and both James and I had a turn suffering with a more mild dose of the same monstrous bug. Poor guy has had two weeks of on and off limited diet and it's definitely started to affect his spirits. I think we're out of the woods finally, cautiously optimistic.

March 23, 2014


This hasn't been the easiest week. Sometimes you just need to sleep it off, everything seems a little brighter with some rest. And as it turns out, the silver lining to a baby that will only nap while being held, is napping while holding that baby. Lucky baby, and very lucky pop.

March 20, 2014



This week he: used a fork on several occasions (this could be a turn away from barbarian!) / helped do everything around the house, from chopping and mixing in the kitchen to putting away clothes and linens / enjoyed a giant chocolate cookie all to himself (thanks Linda!) / went skiing again and pushed beyond the art of falling / was a little under the weather, but handled it like a champ / woke up in the middle of the night looking for 'woobie', his baby sister, whom he loves having in his room at night (even when she cries- sigh).

This week she: coped with some sniffles / was very good for grandma and even napped / really struggled with sleep (this girl sleeps fewer hours total than her three year old brother, and she's still happy so I'm starting to worry she just doesn't need much shut-eye... ahhh!) / starting having some separation anxiety and wanting only mama or her brother (poor daddy, he's a good sport) / enjoyed sitting upright more than ever, she's officially a pro.

And check out that evening light. Thank you daylight savings time!