December 31, 2013

1913 - 2013

On this final day of 2013, I am remembering my grandma, Alice. She passed away last month, four days before her 100th birthday. Our baby girl, R. Alice, enters this world in the same year her namesake leaves it, one hundred years stretched between them. May she live as long and as fiercely.

Happy New Year friends.

December 30, 2013

Groggy and Merry

There is a trend in our house that has been ramping up steadily since the summer; we are getting up very very early. Painfully, hours before the sun rises, no cars on the road kind of early. I am naturally a true night owl, and I also can't stand coffee (I know, you no longer trust me), but somehow I am surviving on sheer will and the occasional nap. 

In the days leading up to Christmas, Little Smith got crazy excited. This is the first year that he has had any real awareness, and it was certainly adorable. He started to piece together all of the ingredients; trees, decorations, Santa, reindeer, milk and cookies, and oh yes presents! Of course we talked about other aspects of Christmas too, charity and family and the seasons... he was very sweet and respectful, but also totally ecstatic for Santa's visit. 

On Christmas Eve James had to work, so we spent the day drying orange slices and making gingerbread cookies as last minute decorations for our very bare tree. Once daddy came home we laid out milk and cookies, along with a carrot for the reindeer, and for the first time in his life, Little Smith asked if he could 'go night night now'. I took one look at his sparkling eyes and knew we were in for a wildly early Christmas morning, and of course I was right.

Adorably, once he was faced with a pile of presents under the tree, he seemed sort of confused. He spent the first few hours playing with a large truck that had been unwrapped, and when we paused for breakfast it was obvious we all needed an early and long nap. We are typically traveling all over the northeast to see family and opening many generous gifts on this holiday, and while we missed everyone, it was actually a welcome change of pace to take the whole day (from pre-dawn to dusk!) to savor each treasure and enjoy our own little family of four.

Our Christmas baby had a good day too, lots of lights to gaze at and a few giggle fests with her big brother. It was all sort of lazily perfect, the best Christmas yet. And now we are looking ahead to the new year. I'm hoping 2014 has a few late mornings in store for me (7AM is all I'm asking people!), but otherwise, I'd just like a whole lot more of what we've had going on lately. It's pretty sweet.

December 29, 2013


a portrait of my children once a week, every week, in 2013

At the window in the afternoon light. One year later, and still his favorite spot on earth.

Sun in her eyes, even light is puzzling and new... there is nothing like rediscovering the world through a baby.

*part of Jodi's 52 project.

There we have it, the end of this year's 52 project! There were times when I slid behind, and even times when I flip-flopped the sequence, but overall it's so much fun to look back and see how much these little people have changed and grown in 52 weeks. I deliberately chose to take a very literal approach to the idea of 'portrait', and the face was the primary subject of each one of my images. I think the furthest I diverged might have been here, when I was just so happy to finally get outside! My thinking was that I already take so many pictures, I wanted these to be very focused. I love that I can truly see those features maturing at warp speed, but I also found the restriction insanely limiting, and I think if I continue this project next year I will probably loosen up a bit.

I am planning to make a printed album with all of the images, and I'm still contemplating the format since obviously our baby girl only started appearing from August forward. I will let you know how it turns out, crossing my fingers that nothing is disastrously out of focus!

Happy final days of 2013.


a portrait of my children once a week, every week, in 2013

Entertained in bed, watching her brother (and the cat). I sometimes beg him to go play in front of her when I have to set her down for a few minutes... she loves nothing more!

The miracle of snow, very wet snow. He is loving it this year.

*part of Jodi's 52 project


a portrait of my children once a week, every week, in 2013

Getting anything close to a focused image is becoming impossible with this kid. He doesn't like pictures, and doesn't stay still... a tricky combination!

She is almost always smiling, and yet I can't stop selecting pictures of her pout. It's just too cute!

*part of Jodi's 52 project

December 18, 2013

Busy Hands

For many months my parenting dial has been set to survival mode. All the twists and turns of pregnancy, then life with a new baby, has consumed a lot of the space previously devoted to planning activities and crafts with my toddler (as well as updating this space- hello there!). There was a time when I would set up projects for Little Smith at least three times a week, and even lay out a schedule, balancing activities. Now I often can't account for what we did in a given day, or month even.

Initially the guilt and frustration with all that I can't seem to make happen was dragging me down, but lately I've been able to change my attitude and give myself a big break. With a new unburdened perspective, I'm making note of all the little toddler friendly activities that we actually do pull off. There are the usual puzzles and drawings and block building, but more often it's just the mundane tasks that seem to challenge and stretch Little Smith's skill-set..

Taking the time to involve him in basic chores (baking, sweeping, feeding the cat) can actually be plenty engaging. Everything does take longer with a three year old's help, but it's also more fun and I don't have to exhaust myself constantly trying to be creative. I have found that my motivation for creativity is greatly diminished with months of sleep deprivation!

I am still holding my breath for new bursts of energy and organization, visions of a grand vegetable garden are already keeping me warm in this early winter. In the meantime, this week we've been eating our home fries with chopsticks and sorting darks from lights. That's quite a full plate for us, and I am beginning to accept 'good enough' as 'plenty good' for now.

December 11, 2013

All Four of Us and a Christmas Tree

Now that we have two little ones, there is often a temptation to divide and conquer on the week-ends. James is a big fan of this technique, which basically means that each one of us takes a kid and plans a fun little outing or tackles some chores separately... it's easier to pack more in that way and there is something to be said for one-on-one time with each of our children.

But as I pull my head out of newbabyland (that is a thing, I am certain of it), I am trying to insist that we do more as a family of four. We already get lots of family quality time lounging around the house, but I also think it's important to get out in the world and see and do things all together. So we are working on that.

Selecting a Christmas tree is an activity that demands every one's participation, so although we were all overtired (especially Little Smith), we made a morning of it and had our first taste of holiday spirit- and cold air too, that baby tongue was out the whole time. We found the perfect fraser fir; small enough to maintain some daylight from our corner windows, large enough to delight a three year old.

Naturally I also felt the need to document this outing. It's really challenging to get pictures while toting an infant around, so there's little evidence of my mid-week adventures with the kids. These are the first outdoor pictures where our baby is more than a hat peeping out over a sling, and in looking at them I am struck that a family of four is pretty big!

I know two children is actually fairly conservative, but having grown up in a house where it was often just me and my mother, this is a big crew. It's fun... and a little scary. All these people depend on me?! I'm feeling very grateful this Christmas. Very grateful and very much an adult, I guess it's about time.

December 9, 2013


a portrait of my children once a week, every week, in 2013

The sweet ecstasy of the first snow of the season.

She isn't sure what to make of the colder weather. I'm don't think she's a fan just yet, but she will grow into it!

*part of Jodi's 52 series


a portrait of my children once a week, every week, in 2013

She has gotten so vocal. She sings and coos, sometimes really loudly... it's pretty funny.

He has doubled down on his distaste for pictures. 'Don't take picture of me mama'... not a chance buggy. I accept the challenge ;)

*part of Jodi's 52 series. i think i can, i think i can... catch up!

December 6, 2013

A Shared Room

When we decided that it was time for our family to grow, one thing I knew for sure was that I wanted our kids to share a room. Of course our home is so small that there really isn't another option, but I also do believe that it's important for siblings to share their space (and hopefully a few late night whispers). I realize that as an only child, I'm likely romanticizing the reality of sharing. I will let you know how it all really goes down once our three year old finally moves out of the crib and our baby leaves the comfort of our room. For now, we have worked to create a space that we hope will be fun for both of them in the next few years, and the rest is up to them!

I wasn't particularly daunted by trying to accommodate a boy and a girl in one room. I like to think of my own style as playful, strong enough for a boy with a few sweet feminine touches. I think that we were able to strike a good balance and create a space that's cohesive rather than two colliding themes. I am certain that this is easier with younger children, and likely it will change as the pink sparkly toys start drifting in (I am not ready!).

I spent a lot of time collecting (and pinning) images of children's rooms that appealed to me, and most of them were very white and minimal. We debated keeping everything subdued, but I just love color, so we used a geometric stencil on the common wall in a bright rainbow of colors (very, very time consuming to paint those 5 colors!), and kept the rest of the walls and furniture white. The color gets pulled through the room with the toys and clothes, and I'm really pleased that the space is both restful and fun. I loved lying in there during my final days of pregnancy.

We decided that Little Smith's 'big boy bed' should be a twin size, rather than a toddler, so that we could all climb in and read or snuggle. After considering tons of options, we DIY'd this simple frame on giant industrial casters. The wheels are definitely a toddler selling point, and doing it ourselves allowed us to keep the bed low to the ground, but still work with a few old soda crates that we had collected for underbed storage. 

Little Smith loves his books, so we gave him lots of options for stashing them; ledges over the bed, those crates on casters under the bed, and the cubby we DIY'd using skateboard wheels from his former nursery. I often find him sprawled out, thumbing through a book on his own (although it's sometimes upside down!).

We purchased a simple wardrobe from Ikea to add closet space and attached a magnet board for favorite notes and stickers. We also painted a dresser (a craigslist find- see the before here) and built custom shelves in the small closet. Actually we currently have way more space for clothing than we can fill, I know that will quickly change as we accumulate more irresistible girl clothes. 

I wanted to keep our baby girl's corner fairly simple. The crib is a hand-me-down and was reused from Little Smith's nursery, as was the shiny blue rocker. I was thrilled to give her our Henry Evans floral prints (always dreamed of hanging those over a crib!), and believe it or not, we already had the clock. It was in our kitchen and once I painted that wall, it clearly was just meant to live there. I had the quilt made from a shop on Etsy, and it also feels like it was destined for this space.

We hung simple floor to ceiling shelving (brackets from Ikea with wooden shelves) to showcase toys and collectibles. Little Smith is obsessive about putting his things away perfectly, we will see what he thinks of his sister moving treasures about in a few short months!

At the moment this is less of a shared room than a palace for a certain three year old. The floor is often covered in train tracks and he has full use of both the bed and the crib. I'm actually looking forward to working with him to share, and at least in theory he is excited about the company.

The are a few details that I would still like to add, a rug and some kind of ottoman mainly, but for now we are happy with the space. I'll update once there are reports on actual shared sleep and some decent summer light (it was such a struggle to photograph this time of year).

*all the posts on this project here


Most of the sources are peppered in the various posts, but since I've received several email requests, I wanted to share a little about the stencil. 

I purchased it on Etsy, but because I wanted each square to be a different color, I used all brushes and no rollers. It did mean a lot of saran wrap over brushes and paint plates to prevent them from drying out when I switched colors, as well as many laps on a step stool with a very pregnant belly!

The colors are all Benjamin Moore; lightening bug 340, rhythm and blues 758, party peach 139, petunia pink 1276, nova scotia blue 796

December 3, 2013

Many Thanks

It was a whirlwind of family fun for us this Thanksgiving. My aunt and uncle were incredibly gracious hosts, as always, and I think we counted 32 at dinner so it was no small gathering. Little Smith started off shy and withdrawn (which is more and more his way lately), but by day two he warmed up to the giggling feisty boy we love. He was so excited to hang out with his cousins (which is what we call my cousins' children), and I was ever more grateful that we were able to have two kids... I can just imagine how much fun is in store for those two.

Everyone agreed that our baby girl is just about the sweetest infant ever created. I don't think she cried once in four days and she was passed around like a sack of potatoes, just smiling and munching on her hands the whole time. 

Typically I am outside for the bulk of these trips, but somehow this time I became the designated kiddo wrangler and there was lots of indoor play. I was kind of bummed not to get a good walk in the woods, but I actually didn't even think about it until we were loading up to head home (a three hour drive turned seven hour courtesy of the holiday traffic). The important thing was to get quality time with family that I just don't see often enough.

We also were able to sneak in some grown up time in the evenings, lots of chats, wine, a very tricky puzzle, and a screener of the movie Gravity (better than I expected actually!) to round the week-end out. We won't be traveling for Christmas, so we made sure to really soak it all up. When we finally made it home, Little Smith whined, 'I want to go back!", and that pretty much summed it up for all of us. A very happy holiday.

*these photos are all from my phone. they weren't the greatest and i had the added challenge of trying to select ones that respect the privacy of family members (who might not want their likenesses featured)... so i just made them black and white and somehow it works :)