this makes my heart sing

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"I am 4 and 4-year-olds do not nap!" she says in a huff. This is a hand-on-the-hip, head-tilted, eyes squinting proclamation that makes me fearful of her teenage years.

"You will rest," I say. "We all need rest."

And so she sighs, "fine!" and asks, "can I rest in your room, Mommy?" And I hear her in there, talking softly and playing. She has pulled many of my books off my nightstand, fanned them across her lap, and is pretending to read them. She looks for the letter "Bs" and the word "the" and the word "mommy." These are what she knows. And, then, twenty minutes later, the room falls quiet.


I sneak in to watch her. The sight of my sleeping child is intoxicating. I look at her face, and it's the same exact face I've known since she was first laid new and bare upon my chest. Her bow-tie lips and button nose and the shape of her eyelids have not changed since that day she took her first breath. 


"I am an artist," she says, "and these are my super match pencils!"

"What are 'super match' pencils?" I ask.

"They are magic. I can draw anything. I can draw mermaids and dinosaurs and the oceans and a hundred rainbows. I can draw the whole world. These pencils work only for me."

She says these things, and I wonder if she can see my chest swelling. It feels like it might explode.

"Artists need rest too," I say.

"Drawing the whole world takes a lot of energy."

ready for summer

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The kids will be dressed like this for the next several weeks (if they are clothed at all).

no-nap guy

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No longer confined to his crib, the Bub resists napping. It's not uncommon these days to stumble upon scenes like this one.

teacher gift idea: the goody jar

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How is it already the end of May?? I wanted to create a fun end-of-the-year teacher gift for all B's preschool teachers (she has 4), but didn't have time to sew something like I did last year. 

B wanted to give the teachers treats, but I didn't want to do a food gift, so we compromised. We found these fun jars at Target and filled them will all sorts of "goodies." Some candy, sure... but mostly we packed them with colorful paperclips, note cards, markers, glue sticks, binder clips, magnets and other useful things for their classroom. B had a great time choosing different items and stuffing the jars.

I thought it'd look nice to layer everything neatly, but B had different ideas. She shook each jar to mix everything up. :)

What do you think? Will they like it?


this is what I woke up to at 6 AM

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video

Miles is enjoying the freedom of his toddler bed. He gets up whenever he wants and helps himself to breakfast. Who needs parents?

how to potty train your toddler

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I've been reluctant to say anything about this because it seems too good to be true. And, by writing about it, I might actually make it TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE. I might be cosmically punished for bragging. But, I'm happy, and I want to share, so here goes:

The title of my post is misleading. In reality, I cannot take any credit for what just happened. I had no plans to potty train Miles until the fall (when he is starting preschool).

Miles woke up two Fridays ago and said "I want to wear panties." And by "panties" he meant underwear, of course. But sister calls them panties.

So we rifled through his closet and I found a pair of hand-me-down underwear that have Disney Cars plastered all over the butt. I showed them to Miles, and he said "WOWWOW" with his little pink lips making a perfect "o"

I said, "you can wear these, but you have to keep Tow Mater dry. Mater doesn't like to get wet. Ok?"

He nodded in agreement, and so we put them on. And about an hour later he peed on Mater. So, I found another pair of underwear, this time with Elmo, and he said (with renewed conviction) he would keep Elmo dry...and he did. Miraculously. The rest of the day, he used the potty.

That was two weeks ago, and he has not worn a diaper since. He's had a few accidents, but nothing like I was expecting. When I had first imagined potty training Miles, I wondered if it'd be too weird if I covered all our furniture in plastic. (What would the neighbors say? Would they understand what it is to have a naked 2-yr-old boy on the loose?)

Let me tell you, after nearly 5 years of diapering (which is nothing compared to some of you parents, I know), the idea that I will never have to wrangle another squirmy child, pin him down with one arm while I attempt to wipe his bottom with the other? That I will no longer face the horror of him jumping up and running away mid diaper change, covered in poo?

It's one of those things you don't realize is a burden until it is lifted. And suddenly you feel so much lighter. You've been given a little injection of hope that there will be a day, someday, when you don't have to deal with other people's poop AT ALL.

Add to that: He has been waking up dry in the morning, so we converted his crib to a toddler bed. We wanted him to be able to get out of bed to use the potty as soon as he wakes up.

Instead, he's been waking in the middle of the night and getting lost inside his little bedroom. Kris found him laying on the floor and whimpering at 3 AM. I found him in the closet at nap time. He has wedged himself under his rocking chair.

So, we've taken this tremendous leap forward with using the potty and a giant leap backward in sleep.

All bittersweet reminders that my baby is no longer a baby. He's a kid. An adorable, sometimes devilish little kid who yells, "MOMMY YOU GO INTO A CACTUS!" when he's really angry. My southwestern boy.

where 2-yr-olds and technology collide

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video

my favorite photo editing tool is on sale

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If you're a longtime reader of this blog, you know I don't often promote products or services. The rare times I do, it's something I've personally tried and love and really think you'll love it too.

Several people have asked me what sort of tools/software I use to edit my images. I do a lot of my photo editing manually in Photoshop CS3, but when I'm in a hurry, I love using Totally Rad's RadLab plugin, which works with Photoshop or Photoshop Elements. They also sell actions and presets for use in Lightroom.

I like my images to look authentic and untouched, and I've found that RadLab's settings are easily customized and don't leave your pictures looking too processed.

For Mother's Day, they're offering $50 off any product worth $99 or more. Just click on the banner above and use the code: MOMSDAY 

I bought RadLab last year at full price and I can tell you it's totally worth it, especially at $50 off.  

Here are a couple examples images I edited with RadLab. For each, the top image is straight out of my camera. The bottom is the "after."



Of course, if you do want to edit more dramatically, RadLab has plenty of options for adding vintage color, saturation, edge blurs, and several flavors of black & white. There are 78 stylets included.

What do you think? Are you drawn more to artsy, dramatic photos? Or do you like to keep it real?

unintended side effects

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B and I recently started reading one of my favorite childhood books, Madeline. We have the whole series: Madeline, Madeline's Rescue, Madeline and the Bad Hat, etc. Aside from the gorgeous illustrations and storytelling, I love that the Madeline is a strong, spunky little girl. She's not afraid of mice. She speaks her mind. Stands up to bullies. She's adventurous (and learns natural consequences when she takes her adventures too far).

That's my assessment. But it's been interesting to see what tidbits Bronwynn gleans from the stories. We've been talking a LOT lately about her appendix. Recently, she asked "Do butterflies have an appendix?" and once, as we stood in a crowded checkout line at Trader Joe's, she complimented me, "Mom, I really like your appendix!"

She wants to know what exactly surgery entails and how doctors put people to sleep for surgery. She cornered Miles and pretended to take out his appendix. She recently told a boy at school he was being a Bad Hat.

Also, she is quite fond of Miss Clavel and her attentiveness to the children in the middle of the night. I think she's been testing whether I will be as responsive as Miss Clavel. Last night, B woke up 4 times crying. The first time, she said her appendix hurts. The second two times, she needed water. Last time (naturally), she had to use the potty. We had a little talk about that this morning...

Do books influence your kids like this? I'd love to hear your stories in the comments.

it's not about the camera

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I hear it all the time. "Wow, those are great photos! What kind of camera do you use?"

Call me selfish, but I don't like my camera taking all the credit for my photography. Which is why I LOVED LOVED LOVED this experiment. Check it out. This photographer shot an entire wedding with his iPhone 4. Not too shabby, eh?
 See more here.


contrary to popular belief...

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...in their spare time, firemen do enjoy baking gluten-free walnut chocolate chunk cookies. (As do firewomen.)

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