Monday, April 30, 2012

for the love of caterpillars

While I was away, my very brave husband took both kids camping. Pictured: A caterpillar hunt that resulted in B temporarily adopting a large caterpillar and naming her Ella.

Ella somehow survived two days of nurturing by my children. At one point, she crawled up B's sleeve and into her shirt...which didn't at all concern my girl. She just calmly undressed to find the wayward bug. I love this about her, this fearlessness around bugs.

Before breaking down camp and heading home, the kids built Ella a new house in the woods and helped her get settled with the promise to return and visit again real soon.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

temporarily away

I'm off* to New York to speak at the 2012 ASJA Conference about photography and writing. If you're a writer in the area, I hope you'll come by and say hello.

I'll be back on the blog next week.


*ps. This is not an open invitation to invade my house while I'm away. If you do, two toddlers will kick you in the knees while my husband calls the cops...or carries out his own vigilante justice.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

the most magical age yet (I think)

Today, I took a trip back in time.
You, four.
Me, four (nine times over).
Up and dressed at 7:00.
I shadowed you, followed your agenda with wonder as you animated toy ponies elbow-deep in a tub of water.
At 9:30, you swung on the wooden swing from our oldest tree, pumping your legs, giggling because you just learned how. 
Look how I go! 

I wanted to say “yes” today more than “no.”
So when you requested hot cocoa at 3:00, after playing outside in 104-degree heat, I poured an extra large mug.
You said, I want to build a puppet theater with clowns 
and silly pigs and puppies.
I said sure, why not?
We did the best we could with pink construction paper, 
duct tape and scissors. 
You took a picture.

You swam in the pool and ate salty chips and watermelon, licking salt off your chlorine-wrinkled fingertips.
Let’s play music and dance, Mommy, you said.
I envied the way you twirl, so light and free, your body unencumbered 
by self-consciousness that I know someday will come.

Can I whisper something in your ear, you ask.
Of course, I say.
Are you happy, Mommy?
Yes, very.
You know if you ever get angry and lose your temperature, 
I’ll glue it back on for you.
Thanks. Where does it go?
Right there, on your neck.
Alright. Yep. Still there.

I can’t help but think this is the most magical age, you wading ankle-deep in the waters of your life. Neither here nor there. Not toddler or child. You know more, you see more, you FEEL more than ever. Your confidence is bursting one moment, scarce the next.

Of course, I thought this before about every age, declaring it the most fun, the most special so far. I look at your brother, two years behind you and I remember the magic of two-and-a-half.  

Adult me is utterly exhausted sometimes, overwhelmed with this task, being mama. Four-year-old me is so completely grateful to hold your hand, to have a front row seat to your happy childhood.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

a little update

It's been a hectic few weeks. I try to keep this blog as a living scrapbook, a place to log our stories and photographs and chronicle the happenings of life with two toddlers. But the reality is that much happens behind the scenes that I just can't write about. You scan a blog or a Facebook timeline of someone's life and you know you're only skimming the surface of them. You can't answer the question "how are you?" or "who are you?" with a 140-character tweet. As much as I adore this blog, I can't put all the pieces of me, of us, here.

This is why I love photography. It speaks when words can't. It cracks the window open a little wider.

I want you to meet our neighbors.

Our neighborhood is zoned for horses, which means anytime my kids need a horsey fix, we walk one street over and say hello through the fence. Occasionally, we'll come across someone casually walking their horse just like you'd walk your dog. We live in the city limits, so it's always a wonderful, surprising sight.

I'm not much of a horse person. I have friends who are and they talk about the healing energy, the profound intuition of these animals. I watch the way my kids settle in their presence, and I believe it. When my kids are grumpy, often a trip to see the horses is the perfect cure.

We've been visiting the horses a lot lately...and then, when Kris gets home from work, we pile the kids into the bike trailer and pedal to the local pizza shop or playground. We're playing outside and just relishing the almost-too-hot weather. Summer is nipping at our heels. We need to savor our time outdoors before it gets unbearable. 

Last week, B and I escaped to the mountains for a bit of spring skiing. It was slushy and cold-but-not-too-cold. We met up with three other moms and their 4-yr-olds. After a rough first day on the slopes, B got the hang of it. She rode the lift and skied the longest green run top-to-bottom four times. She would have gone a fifth round, but we ran out of time (and energy...snowplowing with toddlers is serious work on your quads).

Next week I'm leaving the wild west, traveling to New York to speak at a conference for journalists and authors. I'll be giving advice to other professional writers about how to use photography to complement their stories. I'm looking forward to connecting with some former magazine colleagues and making new connections with various writers, editors and agents. (Kris is hanging back with the kids and the horses.)

And remember that article I wrote about body image? It's getting a lot of attention, which makes me proud and hopeful that there might also be a sea change in the world of body envy toward body acceptance and gratitude. I was interviewed for a podcast on the topic. You can listen here.

I'll update more soon. xo

Sunday, April 15, 2012

spring skiing


Miss B rocked some spring skiing this past weekend. Makes a mountain-loving mama proud. We recorded some video for her Dad, but thought you might enjoy too.


Sunday, April 8, 2012

a sense of peace

"Draw a truck is happy, Mama."

"You and me and sunshine."

falling asleep mid-conversation

Easter parade

Saturday, April 7, 2012

how can something so small eat so much?

Miles is going through what I can only guess is a growth spurt.

He's hungry all day long, and he never knows exactly what he wants to eat. He's like a teenager, standing absentmindedly in front of the open refrigerator and wandering in circles around the pantry.

I want….ummmmm
I want…..ummmmm
What do you want for snack, Miles? Want me to make you some popcorn?
No. No ot-corn.
I want….ummmmm
I want…..ummmm.
I want….
Would you like a carrot? Apple slices? Banana? Crackers? Almonds? Raisins?
No, buddy, you can’t have sprinkles for a snack. How about some popcorn?
I want….ummmm
I want….ummmm
Miles, I’m not going to stand here in the pantry with you all day. You decide what you want and let me know.
I want….ummm
Sorry, bub, candy is not a snack. You can have apples, a carrot, banana, yogurt, raisins, popcorn….
I want….ummmm
I want…..ummmmm
I want…..I don’t want ot-corn….ummmm
I want…..ummmm
I want OT-CORN!
You want popcorn?

So I make popcorn and the cycle begins all over again. 

Thursday, April 5, 2012

happiness vs. joy

This, to me, is a picture of joy. Unbridled. Fearless. It's an ordinary day, my college roommate and her daughters sharing a mug of tea.

I've been thinking a lot about happiness, what it means, how each of us strives for it in different ways... how some avoid it because once we have it, we fear too much losing it. Happiness is too brittle for those who wait, wait, wait for the ax to fall.

But what about joy? Joy to me is something different. It's a happiness that doesn't pretend. It's the opposite side of the coin from pain; it's the gracious, authentic happiness you feel because you've also felt anguish. The happiness you savor all the more, the happiness that is sometimes tear-filled, that aches. You don't expect joy to evaporate.

The sweet to life's salty. That thing that pinches your throat when you watch your kids doing something new and amazing, like pedaling a bicycle or rescuing a ladybug from certain death on a sidewalk, or saying "I love you" to the brother who just stole your favorite crayon.

Joy is not ignoring the pain or whitewashing it. It's not a trite, glass-half-full sentiment. It's not sealing yourself in a bubble so that you never have to touch your mistakes or your losses or grief.

It's not perfection. Far from it. Joy is the freedom you feel to be imperfect. Life is a broken, messy thing and yet I'm going to feel joy in this moment, the sun shining on my skin, the sound of my daughter giggling, the whiff of downy hair when my son snuggles under my chin, the cup of tea shared with a dear old friend.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

things we talk about on the way to school

The walk from our house to Bronwynn's preschool is only about two blocks, but we take our time. I think it might be my favorite part of the day. As soon as we step out, she starts talking and doesn't stop:

"Mommy, why is that garden dog barking so much?" (guard dog)
"Mommy, when we have vegetables at dinner, I just give it a tongue test and see if I'm allergic."
"Mommy, today after school I think we should get married."
"I love Ollie SO SO much. I want him to live with us forever and ever."
"Mommy, I want to grow just a little bit bigger so I can ride my rollerskates. But not too big, because I don't ever want to grow up."
 "Mommy, when I go swimming, I am a mermaid. Not for pretend, but I really am one."
"Can you take a picture of me with this rock? It's so beautiful I want to see it forever."

This is one of the greatest gifts my daughter gives to me. Her words are full of magic and possibility and innocence, and through them she allows me to reclaim my own spirit--the one that's buried beneath decades of living life in a broken world. To a 4-year-old, everything is raw and fresh and showered in beams of light. Anything is possible.
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