February 28, 2014

Six Months Ago


Ten years ago, when I was in graduate school for architecture, one of my classmates and his wife had a baby. Throughout the pregnancy, she would stop by studio while we worked late into the night. We all swooned over her growing belly and I wondered how he could concentrate on cutting cardboard at 2AM with fatherhood looming. When the baby did arrive, it was the start of the spring semester. The new family made a first visit to school only a few weeks after the delivery. It had been some time since I'd been so close to a newborn, and I remember the shock of how tiny he was: aimless searching eyes, hands batting into space. He was more of a creature than a baby, awe inspiring but also slightly frightening. 

That same semester was my first true creative dry spell, a rare struggle for me as a student. Frustration drove me to work from home more often than in the communal studio, hiding from my failures, withdrawing from my friends, and procrastinating with crap television. After months of false starts and abandoned ideas, I found myself back in the studio space, scrambling to pull a project out of thin air. I had decided to invest all my efforts into a model built entirely out of plexiglass, probably hoping that if my work was transparent, it and I could both be invisible. 

The night before the final review, my friend brought his now six month old baby around for a visit. In the midst of my own narcissistic narrative and tearfully assembling a pile of sanded plastic, I was confounded by this chubby smiling boy. Rolls of chins and arms and thighs, sitting on his own, locking with my gaze and grabbing for tubes of drawings... seriously?! How was this the same child that could barely blink a few months ago? How had he accomplished becoming an entire person in the short time that I had burned binging on old seasons of Dawson's Creak? Humbling and humiliating.

I keep saying it and writing it, but can't ever really digest how fast life is going. I've come to realize that there's no option for losing track of time when your work is balancing a baby on one hip, and I find comfort in that. Of course she deserves all the credit for pulling off the simple miracle of growth, but I'm proud of my assisting role. A half a year will never feel the same once you start measuring the months against a developing child. 

February 25, 2014


It has become a February ritual for us to make a trip to the local plant nursery, breathe in some moist warm air, poke a few orchids, and do a little planting project. This year I decided that it would be fun for Little Smith to plant some seeds of his own; not particularly destined for our garden, no rules, just totally let him run the show. He was thrilled to study each of the seed packets and unsurprisingly, he selected beans (he eats them at nearly every meal), as well as marigolds for a little color. 

We filled an old egg carton with soil, opened the packages, and then I just let him do his thing. I tried to explain that each pocket only needed a seed or two, but he went to town and packed them in. I wasn't actually certain if anything would grow and then...

Just as with Jack's stalk, these beans have been growing like magic. They seem to double in size by the day and Little Smith has been beyond delighted to water them and watch their progress. There is nothing like green leaves unfurling to carry us all through these final winter weeks, the best kind of therapy.

*remember this? kills me every time. growing and growing...

February 24, 2014



This week he: made pancakes with daddy twice (his fingers are permanently stained from blueberry duty) / went on a date to the movie theater with mama, it was so much fun that we'll have to do it again / finally kicked that winter cold (now just don't let it come back!) / struggled with the dreaded potty, I don't want to talk about it / played in the snow and went for lots of walks and adventures

This week she: struggled even more with sleep... debating what our next move is here / fed herself, banana is the easiest at the moment / was such a sweet trouper when her brother was feeling like less of a trouper / grabbed hold of these flowers and spilled the water all over herself seconds after this picture, whoops! 

February 21, 2014

The Heart Has Its Seasons

There's talk of a new storm before we've finished shoveling out from the last. I'm keeping score in this season long battle of the driveway versus James. Now an obstacle course of frozen humps and mounds that sends one of us flying with every attempt at the car, the driveway is certainly winning. I've resolved that we are being punished for an extra week-end away, the endless cycle of snow, rain, flood and freeze must have seized that moment to run wild without chaperon. Poor James, chipping and shoveling and dragging around buckets of salt,  no match for a shady driveway and a relentless winter. 

A loner by both nature and nurture, I actually welcome an icy front stoop. Clearly it mandates another day indoors for us; decline invitations for play-dates, take baths at noon, bake and eat and bake again, a fire, a puzzle, a project... punctuated by the occasional roll in the snow. I do know how to pass the time in some unforgiving weather.

Breaking with tradition, my little boy loves being surrounded by people. He thrives with browsing shops and always prefers eating out. 'Can we go down town?', he'll ask, though he's never certain where that might be... 

So when it hit 48 degrees on a Thursday and the skies were clear and blue, I broke out the double stroller and remembered that I live in a city. Even for an introvert, that can be a good thing. There is joy to be found amongst the energy of people, even strangers. Especially strangers. Debating options for lunch, browsing through a bookstore, stumbling into a museum, these are true luxuries in the depths of winter.

This season has a lot of cold and dark left. Every melted puddle our sunny day granted will undoubtedly revert to ice, and I will find more excuses to close the doors and hide beneath wool blankets. Still, I'm grateful our hibernation comes by choice. Staying in feels all the sweeter when I can see the path out, buffered by a good coat of ice and a slippery stoop.

February 18, 2014



This week he: was so excited about valentine's day and kept wishing us all a happy one all through the weekend / was pleased to get his very own flowers and said they smelled 'delicious' / dug a tunnel through the snow with pop at grandma's house / linked a few turns on his skis / peed in the potty (after sitting there, happily, for 6 hours. no joke. i might give up)

This week she: tried apple sauce, banana, and squash... still not the food enthusiast her brother was / woke up crying while mom and pop were out on our date night and slept in grandma's bed until we got home (that never happened before with either of these babes) / sat in a high chair out for a restaurant for a little while, it was so wild to see her looking so big

It's been an even busier than usual week, but we are hanging in there and shoveling our way out of yet more snow... I'm not sure whether to be happy it's going to hit 40 degrees tomorrow or to dread seeing what happens when all this snow gets rained on!

February 14, 2014


It's my very favorite holiday, and yes a deep love for chocolate may contribute to this affection. Valentine's Day came out of nowhere this year. I usually find myself counting down the days but today I woke up thinking, 'already!?'. I keep saying that I'm not overwhelmed and I have everything running along smoothly... and then I realize another month has slid right on by and the sheets still haven't been washed and I have no clean socks and we had hard boiled eggs for dinner (again) and oh wow, it's already Valentine's Day and we didn't do any baking or projects and crap!

But it's okay, because this day is really all about showing the people that are important to you some good old sappy love, and I am pretty sure I nail that one on a daily basis. So we celebrated with brownies (store bought- gasp!), a new teether for a teething baby, red lipstick for mama, and Little Smith's watercolor Valentines. I just think his paintings are amazing. I am turning into that mother that thinks my kid is a genius, supposedly he's behind on the so and so progression of drawing development whereby he should be producing half-baked stick figures... but man I could just watch him paint these beauties all day; announcing one is 'all finished' after only a few splashes and overworking another to a murky brown disaster that miraculously dries to reveal tones and layers... nothing short of inspired. You might just see smeared paint, but I guess I love this kid.

And now our Valentine's Day is drawing to a close, it's snowy and dark outside and we are waiting for James to get home so we can tell him we love him too, light a fire, perhaps some champagne for the adults once the kids are tucked in tight, with a side of chocolate, if you please.

*Happy Love Day*

February 13, 2014



This week he: was so excited to have mama in school with him and help make snack / intuitively slid to a parallel stop on his skis, and also had his first real wipe out / switched from diapers to 'training pants' and even got some real underwear... still not feeling the potty though / did every nap in his bed, the transition seems to be complete, at home at least / made the loveliest valentine paintings

This week she: started sitting pretty well (still topples over suddenly but it's there) / ate some solid food, she's nowhere near as excited as her brother was about it though / was such a trouper in the carrier while we helped her brother out skiing in the cold, seriously the sweetest baby / was the hit of the preschool sing-a-long, dazzling everyone by munching on her feet

February 10, 2014


There is much discussion about the difficulties of breastfeeding; latches, cracks, weight gain, food allergies, oversupply, under-supply... I often get compliments on how great it is that I've lasted a full six months. I received similar praise when Little Smith was a baby, but those same well meaning mom's were less impressed when I continued to nurse him past the one year mark. The most common perception was that it must be exhausting, and so much work to be saddled with this obligation. 

There are obviously many options for nourishing a healthy baby, circumstances all vary and I have complete respect for every family to make their own choices. What seems to be unknown to those who skipped or struggled with nursing though, is that breastfeeding isn't always tough, in fact it can be a gift to the lazy. Sure the bonding and connection is a plus, but the truth is that part of the draw is that it's just so flipping easy. 

Whenever I get a pat on the back for my 'sacrifice', I want to reply that I'm honestly not deserving... I have just been lucky that nursing has gone so smoothly (more so this time around) and I'm also very fortunate to be able to spend my days with my baby and feed her on demand without much pumping (the pump is my personal torture device). I never have to think about buying or packing formula, cleaning bottles or pumps, how much was consumed or even when. If she looks hungry, I feed her. It's fast, always available, and I can be on the go with my baby in a front carrier and no one is even the wiser. It couldn't be easier, and it feels like the last aspect of my parenting that deserves any particular applause.

So when our baby girl passed her six month mark, it wasn't just those tugs at my heart that she's growing so quickly causing me to sigh about introducing some solid foods... but also the end of the most insanely convenient diet a busy mama could dream up.

Alas there comes a time when, into every baby's mouth, a little food must fall. On the plus side, watching this girl coat herself in mashed sweet potato, cheered on by her big bother, just might be the cutest thing ever...

It's tough to complain about a mess when it looks this good. Congratulations little girl, you were hesitant at first, but I think you are going to be a natural. You wear it well.

*And here was Little Smith's first meal; same chair, same menu. He was almost a month younger though.  Now that was a kid that loved his food, not so much as a wince from him!