Tuesday, March 7, 2017


* A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2017*


Favorite Song:     "Turn Down for What" (Alvin and the Chipmunks edition).
Favorite Animal:     Snakes.  No, Bears.  Because they have big teeth.
Favorite Dessert:     Ice cream sundae.
Favorite Activity:     Going on field trips.
Favorite Person:     Mama.
Favorite Place:     Vacation.
Favorite Color:     Like, red and orange and silver and gold.
Favorite Toy:     Washers.
Favorite Holiday:     Christmas.
Favorite Food:     Um, ummmm, um, um, um, um, ummm.  Pizza.  And hamburgers.
Favorite Letter:     M because it starts with my name.
 Favorite Game:     That "Goodnight, Moon" game.
 Favorite Word:    Oooohlas.
 Favorite TV Show:     "How It's Made."
 Favorite Book:     Probably that one with the farmers.
 Favorite Restaurant:     Olive Garden and Chili's.
 Favorite Stuffed Animal:     Snowball.
 Favorite Place You've Never Been:     Hawaii!!!
 Favorite Fruit:     Fresh pineapple from Hawaii.
 Favorite Vegetable:     Carrots. 
Favorite Time of Day:     Night, because I get to sing "Aaaand the cha cha tonight!"
Favorite Thing to Pretend:     Laundry.
Favorite Dance Move:     Juicy Wiggle!


Favorite Song:     "Silent Night"
Favorite Animal:     Doggies
Favorite Dessert:     Ice cream bars
Favorite Activity:     Feeding the doggie
Favorite Person:     Brother (Bubba)
Favorite Toy:     Whatever brother is playing with.
Favorite Food:     Pasta
 Favorite Game:    Feeding the doggie
 Favorite Word:   Baby and doggie
 Favorite Book:    Anything with babies and doggies.
 Favorite Fruit:    Grapes
Favorite Vegetable:     Green beans and zucchini
Favorite Time of Day:     When Bubba gets home from school.
Favorite Thing to Pretend:     Dress-up
Favorite Dance Move:     Juicy Wiggle


* A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2017*
Matteo: When Mama was still pregnant with Sissy, we used to read you this old Mercer Mayer book that belonged to Papa when he was a little boy.  It’s about how everything Little Critter wants to do, his baby sister wants to do, too.  She follows him around, yelling “Me too!” while he’s riding his skateboard, flying a kite and going on big kid adventures with his friends.  He endures most of this with patience, helping his sister climb a snowy hill, balance on her ice skates and even begrudgingly cutting his slice of cake into two pieces.  At the end of the book, little sister has a candy cane and, with the tables turned, she shares it with her brother when it’s his turn to ask “Me too?”  You used to love that book.  We must have read it dozens of times during those months when we were all still wondering and dreaming about what it would be like to add another person to our family.  I realized the other day that this book has really come true in the last few weeks.  Everything you do, Sissy immediately wants to do, too.  When you play with Legos, she wants to play with Legos.  When you feel like dancing, she feels like dancing.  I tried to feed her some watermelon yesterday and she refused to take even one bite until you came over to the table with your own big bowl and suddenly it turned into a watermelon party.  When you snuck Mama’s phone away and crawled up on the bed to listen to a Mike Birbiglia track (which you find hilarious because it’s mildly inappropriate), suddenly she wanted nothing more than to hold that phone, too.  Sometimes this “Me too!” is inconvenient for you, but you have been amazingly patient.  You usually go out of your way to make sure that when you get a treat, she gets one, too.  It genuinely makes you happy to include her.  The lesson of the book seems to have made a lasting impression on your little heart, and I’m so proud of you.

Lilah: Bubba helping you fit your whole foot in your mouth, because that's what brothers are for.


* A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2017*

Matteo: Jumping through life, in search of the highest ladders, the twistiest slides and  the joy of freedom found at the playground.

Lilah: A windy but sunny evening at a new park just discovered near our home.  You look so cute in your little fur-lined bonnet.  I want to scoop you up, but you insist on walking.


* A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2017*

Matteo and Lilah: Happy hearts day, to my sweet little valentines.  I hope you will always care for each other and be there to guide one another with love and compassion in your hearts.


* A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2017*

Matteo: Jumping down a flight of stairs, as per your usual routine.

Lilah:  You love to "help" with the laundry by bringing me small articles of clothing from the big laundry pile.  You are also very interested in picking out clothes for yourself, especially shoes.  You bring me your selections and gesture emphatically until I understand that you want me to dress you.  Whenever I put shoes on you, you happily stomp, tap and dance around in them, smiling and beaming with pride.


* A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2017*

Matteo:  Recently Overheard Things:

Just a minute!  I'm trying to fix my unstable tower.

Do you like my invention?  It smashes washing machines, then travels cars to a cooling machine then to a smasher that breaks the mirror then puts it back together for forty hours then voila'!

You're beautifuler than any mama! 

It's not bad.  It's actually pretty good.  I like the cheese and the bread, I just wish you had cut the ham smaller (after obviously watching too many cooking competition shows).

I really like jumping with my eyes closed, riding bikes, cooking on the stove and snuggling with Mama.  Maybe I could jump off the bed while cooking on the stove!

Hmmm.  I can draw a scribble dog, a scribbly castle or a scribbly baby.

If I ate five dump trucks full of carrots, would I turn green?

Lilah, you're the bestest sister in the whole world.  Bester than all the other babies!

This feather ears potion makes feathers grow out of your ears!  Try some!

I wanna be a space man!

I'm going to call my sissy "cutie eyes."  That's her new name.

(Singing) Where pom poms play.  It's going to be a chocolate day!

When is Santa thirty?  I mean, when is 10:30?

Do NOT go near the haunted kitchen!

Mama, if my tooth falls out, then I'll have Dracula teeth.

You are a cuddly buttercup!  I want to kiss your cheek!

(Mad) You are NOT sunshine!  You're just a storm, raining thunder!

Look, Mama, I can make my own Whoopie cushion!  (Fills cheeks with air and uses fists to push it out.)
Mama, you can get anything you want in downtown.  Necklaces, rings, diamond flowers.  It's super super pretty.  You can get them all at the downtown stores.

I'll have a double cappu-juice-ccino, please!

Lilah:  Recently Overheard Things:

Wawa (water)
Num (yummy)
Mamina (Mama)
Ooooooh (when something is new)
Whoa whoa whoa! (when something is loud or interesting)
Bubba (brother)
Oof oof (when asked what the doggie says)
Owww owww (when asked what the kitty says)
Oooo oooo (when asked what the owl says)
Nene (when wanting to nurse)
Aaaaah (when wanting to brush teeth)
Dowwwn (when wanting down)
Mo mo (more)
Ewww (when something is yucky)
Bay-beee (when upset, as if to remind us that you are a baby; also, when there is a baby)
Dat (that)
Mo-ney (money; brother taught you this one)
Uh oh! (when you drop something accidentally on purpose) 
Lllo?  llo? (hello?) (when talking to the phone)


* A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2017*

Matteo: When you come home from school, Lilah is always so happy.  Sometimes the two of you have a dance party and sometimes you like to sit at the table for a snack.  Lilah usually runs around trying to get your attention, bringing you cars or climbing onto the chair next to you.  Here, she is trying to sneak a few of those delicious chips she saw you eating, while you practice your letters.  It's really sweet the way she loves your company so much.  Take good care of her, and I know you will have a best friend for life.

Lilah: When your brother comes home from school in the afternoon, you are so happy.  You run around excitedly, not sure what to do first.  Dance parties have become a regular ritual between you.  If brother sits at the table for a snack, you play around him, sometimes offering little gifts.  When he shares a toy with you, you run away happily with your new treasure, all smiles and excitement.  These moments have become some of my happiest parenting memories.


* A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2017*

Matteo:  No unguarded tractor is ever left unscaled in our neighborhood.

Lilah:  Wandering around the suddenly empty house after Matteo and Papa have left.  I love these quiet mornings with you.  I am so lucky to have you all to myself for a few hours each day.


*A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2017*

Matteo:  You are always building towers to add to your little "cities" or "parking garages," which are proudly displayed on every available surface throughout the house.

Lilah:  You like to pull that little doggie toy around with you, mostly dragging or carrying it, as you go for a walk around the house.

Saturday, February 11, 2017


* A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2017*

Matteo: Jumping into the new year.  Your resolutions involve eating lots of candy and staying in as many hotels as possible.

Lilah: The sweet little face of someone who is constantly surprised and delighted by new discoveries. 


* A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2016*

Matteo: At the end of 2016, you are as adventurous as ever.  If I were speaking in metaphors, I would say that you live life at 110 miles an hour.  While standing on the back of a moving truck.  Balancing on stilts.  You are loud and fast and your curiosity often leads to complete chaos in the house.  Some days we don't feel like we will make it to bedtime.  As a balance to your loud and fast side, you are also sweet and tender at the most unexpected times.  You love your family and you take care of us in little ways without being asked.  You are a snuggle bug and you give hugs freely.  It can be a roller coaster at times, but I am so proud to be your Mama.

Lilah: Last winter, you were only a few months old so you didn’t get to play in the snow.  This year, we stuffed you into some oversized mittens and a hat and watched you wobble around like a penguin.  The mittens fell off constantly and you got cold, but you were elated to have some freedom outside.  “Dow dow dow!” (Down) is one of the few words you possess and it has become an important tool as you seek more independence.  Every instinct tells me to scoop you up and hold on to your baby days a little longer.  I remind myself to let you explore the world.  I’m proud of your curiosity and newfound determination.  You are a toddler now, my little penguin.  May your toddles lead you to many beautiful discoveries.

Thursday, January 26, 2017


* A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2016*

Matteo: You have had many obsessions hobbies since you were a little boy, including CDs, records, toy blenders, suitcases and washing machines.  When you fall in love with something, you commit yourself fully.  Every day becomes a mission in acquiring new pieces for your collection, or in finding as many ways to use them around the house as possible.  The newest trend to find its way into your case history of beloved objects is Hot Wheels.  These tiny, metal, colorful cars have taken over the house completely, as well as over your imagination and admiration.  Every question I ask you ends with "Hot Wheels."  Every trip to the grocery store ends with Hot Wheels.  Every pocket and bucket and bin are filled with Hot Wheels.  I find them in the laundry, in the pantry, in my bed, in the bathtub as I attempt to to take a bath.  I feel like Mrs. Hannigan in "Annie," except instead of "little girls," there are "little cars" everywhere I turn.  They are quickly multiplying.  You have cleverly managed to convince your sister that they are awesome so that you can manipulate your parents into buying one "for her," too: "What about Sissy?  She wants a Hot Wheel.  I think she would like this one."  So, now two Hot Wheels come home with us from the store.  Your collection is expanding, like a shiny chrome-plated army.  You also taught your sister how to "vroom vroom" them around the house.  It's pretty darn adorable to watch you two playing cars together.  When she's crying, you bring her a car and it usually makes her happy again.  When Mama was sick, you brought me some of your favorite cars to keep next to me in bed.  Hot Wheels are your love language right now, so Hot Wheels it will be.

Lilah: Your obsession passion this Christmas was ornaments.  You completely ignored the shiny, bow-covered boxes under the tree, and opted immediately for whichever ornaments haden't yet been moved to higher ground.  At Nana Toni and Papa Dean's house, you were particularly committed to the shiny, delicate, highly-breakable ornaments that covered the tree, calling to you from across the room.  You managed to find a way through every furniture barrier we constructed, no matter its complexity, immediately plucking ornaments from the low branches of the tree again.  You screeched like a pterodactyl whenever we tried to take them away.  There were a few ornament casualties.  Maybe next year we will be able decorate the lower half of our tree again.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016


* A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2016*

Matteo: The great Christmas tree hunt, 2016.  You wore your 3D glasses from the movie theater and had a ball running around pointing to every tree and saying "this one!  this one!"  You helped entertain Lilah, by clapping along with her, one of your favorite games to play together (while singing "clap hands, here comes Lilah!").  When we finally found our tree, we all "clapped hands" to celebrate.

Lilah: Your first time picking out a Christmas tree!  You have really started to walk all over the place in the last couple of weeks, and you relish your newfound independence.  When we let you down out of the cart, you were beaming with pride as you toddled around inspecting the trees.  It's going to be a very busy Christmas this year, as we chase you around the house and attempt to keep you away from the ornaments!


* A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2016*

Matteo: That time you drew on your sister's face with a pen.

Lilah: That time your brother drew on your face with a pen.


* A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2016*

Dear Matteo and Lilah: With the heartbreaking results of this election, I fear that our generation has left you a terrible legacy.  You are inheriting a moral debt of overwhelming proportions.  Your Papa and I work very hard everyday to teach you the values of love, of inclusion, of respect and of kindness.  We will always try to model the importance of standing up against injustice, of being kind in the face of hate, of loving yourselves for the unique perspective and beauty that you alone can offer this world.  I hope you will never doubt the potential for greatness that exists in humanity; that you will never let those who would threaten your voice shout louder than your heart can sing.  We have just elected a president who demonstrates values of greed, exclusion, and disrespect for the earth and for the range of human diversity.  I know that your generation will work harder than ever to let your beauty shine.  This gives me hope in a moment where it would otherwise be difficult to find any.  I believe in you.


* A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2016*

Matteo and Lilah: Papa and I took you to the courthouse this week to teach you about American democracy.  You watched as we put our ballots into a locked metal box attended by two volunteers.  As we dropped the hopes for our country into that little square box, I felt nervous excitement for the future you both might have.  When I was in college, my friend and I were in Eastern Oregon for the weekend.  When we heard that Hillary Clinton would be speaking at our college, we drove all night to make it back to campus in time to see her.  The car broke down somewhere near Sisters, around sunrise, and the waitress of an all-night diner had to call her sleeping husband to come jump the battery.  Despite the obstacles, we did make it back in time for Hillary's speech.  I don't know if it was the anticipation created by that dramatic road trip, but it turned out to be one of the most powerful and inspiring rallies I have ever attended.  There was something about Hillary's presence and the power of her convictions that spoke to me very deeply.  In that moment, I trusted her with the future of women in America.  Now, almost twenty years later, I am trusting in her again.  I believe that she will work to make a country that you can be proud of, and that she will be the kind of leader that you can look up to.  I wish this for you, my children.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016


* A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2016*

Matteo: A few months ago, you said "Mama, are you sure Halloween will happen again this year?"  You fell in love with this wonderful, spooky, candy-filled holiday last year and have probably been dreaming of its return ever since.  We finally made it to the great pumpkin patch, one day before Halloween.  The place was deserted, so we got to run up and down the long orange-lined avenue looking for our perfect pumpkin.  When we got home, you and Papa carved one and now it's sitting proudly by the front door, waiting for the first trick-or-treaters to arrive.

Lilah: You're not too sure what all the Halloween fuss is about, but you had a lot of fun riding in the wagon and digging around in the dirt in that big orange field we visited.


* A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2016*

Matteo: The weekend before Halloween, we went to a fall festival with a giant pumpkin weighing contest and a kids costume contest.  You were very interested in the giant forklift contraption they used to move the heavy pumpkins onto the scale.  You wore your washing machine costume and nearly every person we passed commented on how fantastic you looked.  I felt like I was with a celebrity!  You got very quiet and I worried that you didn't like all the attention.  When I asked you about it later, you said you loved it.  I think you were very proud to be a washing machine.  You ended up winning the kids costume contest, too!  The prizes were a toy robot and a chocolate-dipped marshmallow from the local chocolate company.  It was a very exciting day!

Lilah: I made you a laundry basket costume to go with your brother's washing machine, but you really hated wearing it.  Plan B was "Little Miss Sunshine," which you preferred because it didn't restrict your movement.  You wore a sash that said "Little Miss" and I glued a felt sun onto your yellow dress.  We figured you still matched your brother, since the sun is kind of an eco-friendly dryer.  Plus, this costume really matches your sunny little personality.  Your favorite part of the Halloween festivities at the zoo was crawling around in the crunchy leaves on the grass.  You have been standing a lot and taking a few tentative steps at a time this week, but you still prefer to crawl on uneven surfaces.  It's very exciting that you are so close to being able to walk and keep up with brother (or maybe he'll be keeping up with you!)

P.S. Your brother is making funny noises to try to attract your attention in this photo.

Monday, November 7, 2016


* A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2016*

Matteo: Recently Overheard Things:

"What if I could jump all the way to the top of the building and climb around the ceiling?  Wouldn't that be cool?"

"Well, 'funny meow' means you laugh so hard and you can't stop laughing!" (When asked what 'funny meow' means)

"I named my sister 'Somanyhair' because she has so many hairs!"

(At Target) "Mama, I'm in the sponge aisle!"

(After Mama put on perfume) "You smell like my grandma!"

"I want to brush my teeth with my own self!"

"Look, Mama, I'm doin' my work job." (While "cleaning" the house with the mop)

(When asked what a bus is made of) "Motor, tires, steering wheel, tire pump, ice cream, gas pedal (a little one and a big one), horn."

"I'm a hungry tiger!"

"Whales are bumpy and swumpy.  Papa, what does 'swumpy' mean?"

"Mama, you're a noodle head!  A noodle head is someone who eats noodles."

"When I'm bigger, I'll send you some sunglasses and one vacuum and a giant house!"

"Guess what, Mama!  I saw a TV in that garage!  It was a real working TV!  Call Papa and tell him the football game is on!"

"Google if potato bugs have teeth.  Google it, Mama!"

First thing in the morning:
"I wear underoos!"
"Open your eyes, Mama!"
"I really love suitcases!"
"Can I play with my sister?"
"Where are we going today?"

(Singing) "I want to yell and help tonight!"

"You look like a hair princess!" (to Lilah)

"Pumpkins are orange because they were grown in the hospital and they have been painted orange just like oranges.  Oranges are orange because they are orange."

"Mama, this is your dancin' rug and this is my dancin' rug, ok?"

(Telling me about your dream) "I had a dream about a shark and it was trying to eat me!  I was so frightened I hid under the covers.  But the second one was a nice one.  It was me and Mama hugging each other and floating above the sky."

(Another dream) "Mama and Matteo were flying to the moon on a canoe with Papa and Lilah.  Then we ate a popsicle on the moon, all of our family."

"I want to keep Mommy and Daddy forever!  All the way until Christmas!'

Lilah: The cupboard toy bandit strikes again.