November 26, 2013

The Haircut

The night before Little Smith's third birthday, I lay next to him in the dark and we whispered about the possibility of a haircut. Whenever I had asked him in the past he would say 'no' reflexively, but this time I told him it could be fun, and with very little coaxing he seemed open to the idea. I told him he could choose between going to the barber like daddy or having mama cut his hair, and he was very clear that he wanted mama to do it. 

The next morning I almost forgot that we had planned on a haircut, and then without thinking too much about it (or even mentioning it to James), I just decided to go for it. Armed with an irresistible movie (Cars!) and a package of M&M's left over from Halloween, I grabbed our kitchen scissors and started to snip. 

I was filled with a complex brew of emotions, sadness at letting go of the baby, focus and nerves at attempting any haircut (which is not a skill of mine!), excitement and heartswells for my little man's fresh new look... he is just so darn cute.

When we were all finished, I lifted him up so he could see himself in the mirror and his face lit up with the biggest smile. It was a huge relief that he liked it and I imagine it will be nice for him not to have hair hanging in his face all the time, as much as I do miss those baby locks. It might be wishful thinking, but I swear he even has an extra confidence about him, a brand new three year old swagger.

Little boy, you wear it well... pulling off a mama's clueless haircut like nobody's business!

more about struggling to cut those hairs here.

November 25, 2013

Now We are Three

Three years old, and I am just stunned that we're here. I am so proud of this little man, he has grown and changed so much, even in the last few months since becoming a big brother. I can't believe how lucky I am to have been home with him each day of these last three years. He started preschool a few months ago, and while it's only two mornings, I can feel this new phase of school and life away from our little home beginning. All of that is making this milestone feel like extra big boy territory. 

This morning he awoke to three giant red balloons (The Red Balloon was actually the first movie he ever saw and remains a favorite), and a modest collection of gifts. He's had several friends celebrate birthdays in the last few weeks, and he seemed genuinely surprised and excited that it was finally his turn.

With Christmas right around the corner, we really wanted to keep the gifts to a minimum, so I selected a stuffed animal fox and some wooden acorns and James picked out a few matchbox cars. We were starting to worry that we'd underplayed the event too much when a giant firetruck arrived at our doorstep from our dear friend Linda (who is also one of the few people in our 'real' life aware of this blog, so thank you Linda!). We quickly wrapped it up and obviously that was the highlight of the day, as only a large truck can be.

We were busy with several parties and events this week-end, so we kept things simple and just invited our friends and their son over for brunch and cake. Little Smith is really very shy, so it was actually perfect for him. He loved having just one buddy to share his new toys with and chase around all morning.

As I was leaving him for his nap, he whispered thoughtfully, 'thank you for my birthday presents mama', and I was struck by the fact that he really is his own person now. My earliest memories begin around three, and I am feeling a heavier burden and privilege in the idea that he might actually remember some of these moments that we are sharing. He really is a special kid. 

Happy Birthday buggy. You changed my whole life, and I can never thank you enough.

two / one ... sigh...

November 24, 2013


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

The amazing flying baby!

It's his birthday tomorrow, and we are indulging in presents and balloons to celebrate. He's 'teee'!!

*part of Jodi's 52 project

It has been quieter than quiet here, I know. We all took a turn being sick last week (of course I was hit the worst), and we're now thrown into the fun and frantic season of parties and holidays. This weekend we juggled a few toddler birthday parties and are out the door for a little "Friendsgiving" celebration in just moments, then it's off to New York this week to enjoy lots of festivities with family... but I will be back tomorrow with a little birthday post. That's a milestone I just can't reschedule!

November 14, 2013

Details B11.01

family breakfast mit baby play nap time post-vacuum roll harvard heart to heart quiet morning the favorite door cranberry pumpkin bread

We had our first snowfall this week. It didn't stick, but Little Smith spent the morning with his face pressed against the glass, so excited to put on his boots and get out in those flakes. When we finally bundled up and made our way out, he complained it was too cold... so we'll see how this long winter ahead treats us. I'm having a few pangs of anxiety as the days grow shorter. The sky is dim by 4PM, and it seems there is so little time to get anything done.

I'm trying to take comfort in the thought of a winter without first trimester nausea. There will be time for cooking and toddler friendly craft projects, and hopefully our sweet baby will stay sweet enough to let all of that happen. I'll get to go snowboarding, we'll try to get Little Smith more comfortable on skis, there is a lot of good in a New England winter. It's a long dark season though, and I already miss our evening walks and trips to the park after dinner.

We're spending more time loafing around the house, and the kids are becoming a real pair. Our baby girl watches her brother and laughs and laughs while he jumps around like a bunny rabbit. It really is amazing to get to be here everyday to see that relationship grow. It's going to be fun when she gets moving, but I'm also holding on tight to this baby stage.

James has been working long hours plus the occasional week-end, and I actually feel like I'm managing everything pretty well. I'm certainly tired, but my insomnia just never quits. I think I must have been graced with decent sleepers (so far!) to offset my inability to ever go to sleep before midnight. Part of the issue is that the evenings are the only time I have to myself so I never want to relinquish those hours. I'm long overdue to carve out some more space for myself, but it isn't easy. Looking forward to a low key week-end, and maybe a nap!

November 13, 2013


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

Oh goodness, this boy is more wonderful and more frustrating every single day. We really make each other laugh, it's good times.

It looks like her eyes just might stay the same gray blue color as her big brother (although it's early to know for sure!). We have no idea where these kids got those mesmerizing eyes, but we sure do love 'em.

*part of Jodi's 52 project

November 8, 2013


A few months ago, I came across an article mentioning the traditional Jewish custom of waiting until a boy's third birthday to cut his hair, Upsherin. I often field questions on why we haven't yet given our son a haircut. My stock answer is, 'We like it. When we don't like it or he doesn't like it, we'll cut it'. This usually accomplishes the desired goal of ending the conversation, but the truth is that there's something more in this choice, and I don't actually have words for what that more is. I'm not Jewish, but I was taken with this reference to a ritual first haircut. I suppose I was looking for some insight into my own subliminal motives.

My very limited research on Upsherin described the tradition of waiting three years to harvest fruit from a newly planted tree. In those first three years the tree is not yet ready to produce and the fruit is forbidden. Similarly in the first three years of a child's life, 'the child absorbs the surrounding sights and sounds and the parents' loving care. The child is a receiver, not yet ready to give. At the age of three, children's education takes a leap. They are now ready to produce and share their unique gifts.' I read those words and instantly burst into tears. It's a custom completely outside my own culture or tradition, but this summary struck at the heart of my unconscious intentions. I just wanted to let my child be.

I've brushed up against this related theme repeatedly in my short time as a mother. There are always experts waiting; if a child is late to crawl, or a little small, or still toothless at his first birthday... there are programs and specialists and exercises to correct every anomaly. And while I am a mother who is full of worries, I also know instinctively that what is right for our family is to let my child be. He will be fine, he will be perfect. He is exactly who he is meant to be. 

With this anthem beating in by heart, I have gently guided my son for the last three years. I have tried not to interfere, but to provide love and encouragement in an effort to facilitate his independent goals. Yet as his third birthday draws near, I am feeling the shift. His little circle is opening up. He is looking to form relationships of his own, without me as the constant mediator. He is playing with friends and not just beside them. He is laughing, screaming, babbling and running away from me and towards the unknown world, but he is also struggling to communicate with language.

It isn't a limitation of words, he has them. He has effortless stories and observations spilling in a constant stream, and with the right context I can gather nearly every one. But when he is away from me, returning from a few hours of preschool and ready to share the excitement of the day, I listen to him straining to make out the details. Grasshopper and chocolate bar sound identical, and since I wasn't at his side to unearth that tiny grasshopper hidden beneath the pine needles, I have no frame of reference to follow along. His friends and teachers pick up even less. He is still so young that he's largely amenable to not being understood, but I am seeing glimpses of frustration stirring. 

Coordinating the movement of his little mouth and tongue to produce each sound seems to be the issue, and for the last year I've watched and waited for it all to click. I've had faith that eventually he would work it out, in his own time. I have let my child be

Suddenly and unexpectedly, that path feels wrong. We've arrived at the place where consulting those experts seems natural, because while I do believe he would discover his voice in time, a few simple exercises might make that journey so much easier for him. I would never want to deprive him of that help. I still resist the endless charts and checklists looming over a baby's first few years, every pound and step measured against an approved schedule. I was confident in my strategy for parenting a baby, and now I find myself with a boy. Intervention looks less like meddling and more like education, and that transition has been abrupt for me. 

My son is nearly three. He is ready to engage with the world beyond my arm's protective length, to 'produce and share his unique gifts'. This last month has been a slow celebration of his transition out of babyhood. A gradual Upsherin of our own making, without the haircut... for now. 

*I'm very conscious of how much I share about Little Smith here. It is my journal, but I'm aware that it is also an indelible space and I never want to transgress his future privacy. I've tried to be sensitive to this and not to betray anything that he would prefer private. This issue with articulation is a minor one in truth, but as a mother every difficulty is amplified, and my own thoughts and emotions are my focus here.

November 7, 2013


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

It's a moment like this that I dreamed about when I imagined becoming a mother. There's all the work and worry and sleeplessness too, but this is the stuff that I'll remember when I'm old and gray.

*part of Jodi's 52 project. 

ps / so this picture is from my phone! i finally replaced my ancient iphone with a shiny new one and i'm pretty obsessed. the camera is even better than i'd hoped. up to this point i would never use a camera pic in this series because my goal is to print them all in the end, and i didn't think the quality was there. i was working on another post (for tomorrow) and wanted to include this picture, and i just decided it was too sweet not to bump into the 52 project. the quality actually looks pretty good, even at a large scale, and the phone is so light that i was able to get directly over them (which i failed at with my big slr). obviously there's not a ton of control, but i'm pretty excited to have the option of a decent snapshot at all times!

pps / i know posts have been limited. what can i say? i have lots and lots of content, and too little energy to sift through my thoughts and images. working on it.

November 3, 2013

Cranberry Ricotta Pizza

This sweet and tart pizza is a fun twist on our favorite flavors for the season. Most of the credit goes to James, who requested a cranberry pizza when I was brainstorming on fall meals. We considered a dried cranberry and squash version for a minute, but fresh cranberries are a big New England perk. I'm always looking for vehicles for cranberry sauce (since I don't eat turkey)... and everything is delicious on pizza dough!

Cranberry Ricotta Pizza: 

for the cranberry sauce:
  • 6oz fresh cranberries
  • 1/3c sugar
  • 1/2c orange juice
for the pizza:
  • your favorite pizza dough (this is mine- fool proof and tasty)
  • 1c ricotta cheese
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2c chopped walnuts
  • 1tbs (plus more for baking sheet) olive oil
  • pepper to taste

Place the cranberries, sugar, and orange juice in a medium sauce pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until berries have burst and very soft, about 10 minutes. Pour into a bowl and cool until slightly set up (or thickened) before using.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Spread your pizza crust onto an oiled baking sheet. Prick all over with a fork, and bake for 10 minutes. 

Brush about 1tbs of olive oil over crust to thinly cover. Spread cranberry sauce onto crust. 

Mix nutmeg with ricotta cheese and spoon in dollops onto pizza. Top with chopped nuts.

Bake for about 15 minutes, until crust is just browned. 

We all loved this as the dessert course for a pizza themed dinner, but it would be wonderful for brunch as well. Little Smith had never tried cranberry sauce and I worried it might be too tart, but he was an instant fan. We will be sharing the leftovers for breakfast if James doesn't steel them as a midnight snack!


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

She started laughing this week and we all just stand around and listen and smile. We need to record it so we don't forget the sound of pure joy.

The reluctant trick-or-treater. When he realized that other kids were already going door to door in costume he begged me to put on his costume as fast as I could. Then he sat on the porch and hid whenever anyone approached and refused to venture out. I love this crazy kid. And he has been wearing his tie (part of his costume but not pictured) all week-end.

*part of Jodi's 52 project