Merry Christmas!

img_9497

It’s a sunny, mild, Spring-like day here in the Northeast and a very happy Christmas. What a joy it was to see our sweet girl unwrap her new dollhouse!

img_9519

Here she is, busy and content.

img_9520

And these are the mugs Chris and I got each other for Christmas, which suit us to a T. The perfect mugs to toast this good life.

Merry Christmas, dear friends! May your hearts and bellies be full, and may love surround you.

(Post 341 of 365)

Advertisements

Changes and Traditions

These last couple of months leading up to age three are all rapid change and growth. Increased vocabulary and refined pronunciation. Heightened awareness and comprehension. Assertiveness, a strong will. There’s a lot more resistance, a lot more “no!” She will hold up her hand and say, “No, mommy, leave me be!”

She still has an ethereal essence, a sweet and gentle soul. It shines through her big brown eyes even during crabby moments. But a fierce will is emerging, and though it sometimes wears me out, I’m glad for it. I want her to claim her space, raise her voice, stand her ground. She is an incredible combination of peace and strength and silliness, teaching me all the time.

If you ask her what she wants for Christmas, she will answer, “A present!” There is no material good she longs for, except perhaps another book to add to her collection. She is still blissfully unaware of our consumer-driven culture. I know it won’t be long before this changes, and I’ve been thinking of little traditions that focus on what truly matters. I love the tradition of decorating a tree in the yard with edible ornaments for the animals, detailed over at Wilder Child. It’s a simple craft project, an experience, and an act of giving. It turns our attention to the creatures we share space with and instills a sense of responsibility to wildlife. And it looks so lovely, the cranberry strands and orange cups of birdseed hanging from the tree. We’ve been reading Jan Brett’s The Mitten every night and thinking about all the creatures in our backyard.

If I had any talent for sewing, I’d quilt an Advent calendar. My favorites are the fabric ones with pockets for little felted ornaments and candy canes. This year we have a beautiful paper one from my sister. Perhaps next year I’ll craft one from fabric…

How are your little ones changing? How do you celebrate the season?

(Post 316 of 365)

Molasses Cookies

img_8792

We began baking at 6:00 this morning. A double-batch of chocolate chip cookies, and then molasses cookies. The molasses are tricky. The recipe is from my grandmother’s original handwritten recipe, an ingredient list with measurements and oven temp. No instructions. But bright memories. She would always let me lick the molasses-coated spoon. The recipe is so sensitive, you have only to be in an off mood to botch the batch. So this morning’s achievement, that perfect crackle, the smell of cinnamon and ginger and cloves, was like my grandmother arriving in my kitchen. Her calm-busy-gentle essence filling the room as I roll the dough into little balls and cover them in sugar.

For the first time in years, we’re spending Thanksgiving at home. The week is bookended with travel–our trip on Monday, and then my husband’s trip to London on Sunday–so we decided to stay local. It feels so peaceful and relaxing to be home for the holiday. Tomorrow we’ll wake up with a morning fire, watch the Macy’s Day Parade, and bake the apple pie. Maybe I’ll even get some writing done.

fullsizerender-7

(Post 308 of 365)

Cathedral Maple

IMG_6555

On Saturday night at the barbecue, everyone gathered around the picnic table eating, drinking, toasting, laughing. We were serenaded by a live band playing at another party a few houses away. The air was breezy and mild. And upstairs the little toddler slept soundly.

As the night went on, people gravitated toward our old maple tree, the heart of our backyard. At one point, I found my brother-in-law and a friend gazing up into the branches, remarking on the maple’s tremendous height, the careful pruning, its possible age. I told them the story about the open house last year when we first saw the property. I loved the house, but I felt drawn to the backyard. I went out to wander more than once, placed my hand on the old maple’s trunk and promised I would return.

We all sat around the fire sharing conversation beneath the cathedral branches. We hadn’t thought about where to set up the fire, we just ended up there, drawn to the maple’s presence.

(Post 160 of 365)

Summer Solstice

IMG_6505
7:00 pm sunlight on the solstice

Sweet Summer Solstice. I went down to the water alone tonight to take in the warm breeze and late light. Listened to the grass whisper and the birds call. A birder shared his telescope with me and I watched a baby tree swallow waiting open-mouthed for his mama, who returned without food, and the baby’s brow furrowed in frustration. Oystercatchers were perched in the distance.

Later, Chris and I went outside to look for the Strawberry Moon and found the first fireflies glowing in the backyard.

FullSizeRender-2

P1160300

(Post 153 of 365)

Bright Green Warm Happy


Mid-May sunshine day, green leaf trees, lilacs in full bloom. At least five projects begun but not finished. A small pocket of time spent editing when I should’ve been writing. Toddlers at the water table. Little birds everywhere. And a robin nesting in our cedar tree.

Some days success is measured simply by how patient and present I am with my little one. Bright green warm happy.

(Post 114 of 365)

Digging in the Dirt: 83/365

We wake in the dark at 5:00 am and my head is still heavy with migraine. Toward breakfast the day reveals itself as grey gloom. This is how April always feels, like a big grey headache. Stark branches waiting for green. Strained sun. Mud.

But later on we find organic potting soil and compost on sale and walk out of the store into a bright afternoon.

At home we gather garden tools and I hack at the dirt, clearing old roots and tilling the soil while Isabella digs with her shovel. We leave the back door open. Two cats in the yard, life used to be so hard. They chase birds and squirrels and crouch beneath the arborvitaes and roll in the grass.

It’s not warm out, but Isabella is barefoot, pressing down the dirt with tiny toes. I mix the wildflower seeds with dry compost and rake them into the bed. There are hummus sandwiches, cat chases, a rest on the rock. Dirt on our cheeks and noses and under our fingernails. I find the watering can and fill it. Dig up another bed, plant sunflower seeds, the Mammoth Russian variety, along the side of the house.

Isabella blows bubbles, hair falling across her face, sun streaming through the maple branches, cats leaping after bubbles. She says, “come sit with me, mama” and “I love helping you, mama.” I sit down next to her and she leans against me and we smile into each other’s eyes.

On the back steps, inside this April afternoon, we are tucked in the space of dreams, a flash forward I conjured three years ago in wishes and prayers and daydreams, wondering if it would ever come true. Here we are, together, as if by magic, caked with dirt, smiling. The spectacular ordinariness of us.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Change of Season: 64/365

When the season changes, I start to rearrange little things around the house. Yesterday I took down all the wall art in the living room. Ahhh, goodbye visual noise. I swept almost everything from the mantel. And during dinner, I began to impulsively paint a mirror frame white.

I can’t wait for open windows, daffodils, and leaves on the trees.

The Joy of Age 2: 59/365

IMG_4562IMG_4471IMG_4733IMG_4671IMG_4604IMG_4003

FullSizeRender (5)

I love age 2. Exactly where we are right now at 26 months old.

I love my daughter’s laugh, when her heart-shaped mouth blooms into a smile and her head tilts back and she laughs so hard I can see every bright white tooth, rosy apple cheeks pushing her eyes into happy crescents.

I love that she’s able to repeat any word I say: triceratops, guacamole, spectacular. I am in awe of the way she strings words into sentences. I love our conversations.

I love watching her deftly manage a spoon. The way she requests cinnamon for her yogurt. The way she calls it yogurk.

I love watching her climb and navigate obstacles. I love watching her play. Scooping up dirt with her shovel and dumping it into the bucket, and then dumping the bucket out and beginning again. Discovering an old board in the yard that bounces, and balancing her way across.

I love the way she cajoles and charms, especially for breastmilk. She knows that things are changing and I’m not always up for nursing, so she smiles irresistibly and makes an “L” shape with her finger and thumb and says, “Lil bit more milka.”

I love to listen to her count and recite the alphabet.

I love the way she will sometimes call to us the way she hears us call to each other, “Sarah! Chris!” and “hey, babe!”

I love the way she cares for her cats and notices the birds, squirrels, deer, and turkeys. The way she says, “shhh” when we walk by the spot in the woods where the owl lives. The way she shouts, “bald eagle!” The way she collects stones and puts them in her pockets.

I love the way she pretends her doll is crying, and then holds the doll to her chest and sways back and forth humming, hmmm hmmm hmmm. I love the way she makes up stories with her dollhouse people just like I did.

I love that she loves dinosaurs and knows nothing of princesses.

I love watching her delight in a St. Patrick’s Day parade. Waving, clapping, running across the green, making friends, holding hands, dancing.

I love the process of learning to sing. The way she asks me to pick her up, hold her hand like a dance partner and twirl around. Then commands, “Sing Down by the Bay, mama!” The way she sometimes repeats the lines and other times sings along with me. The way she tests her voice as it moves from speech to song. It’s one of those unanticipated miracles you stumble upon during parenthood.

There are so many of these little miracles unfolding every instant. I wish I could cast a net big enough to catch them all. I’m sure I will wake up tomorrow with a fresh list.

 

 

 

Natural Rhythms: 49/365

This morning Isabella woke early. I reached for my phone and turned it on to check the time. She began to nurse and I instantly succumb to scrolling, first the weather, then I’ll move on to pages of unread articles. Except this morning our internet was down. So I put my phone down. I basked in the quiet and looked at my little girl’s face.

Soon we were bouncing out of bed and starting the coffee and scooping plain yogurt and frozen blueberries onto a plate, sprinkling cinnamon on her yogurt. Sentences are already springing from my brain. I silently repeat a couple of ideas like mini mantras in an effort not to forget them. Normally I would steal a few minutes at the computer while she eats her breakfast, the two of us occupying the same table, together but apart.

Today the computer wasn’t an option. So I got my mug of coffee and sat down next to her while she ate, watched her pinch fat blueberries between her tiny fingers and deftly spoon yogurt into her little heart-shaped mouth. We chatted contentedly. She fed me blueberries, saying, “here you go, honey, you eat it.” Amidst the chatting and blueberry-sharing I reached for a pen and managed to fill up one page, catching the ideas I didn’t want to lose.

Technology runs insidious interference on our lives, seeps into every quiet gap creating a low and steady buzz. White noise, like the whir of a fan. I have a thing about white noise, especially the sound of a fan. It makes me tense and itchy. If a fan’s been running and then finally turned off, it’s the biggest relief. That’s how this morning felt. No interference. I was able to hear the natural rhythm of the morning and we moved to it in sync. I even got a little writing done.