Wednesday, May 17, 2017


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

Matteo: Working hard on process art on a rainy afternoon.
Lilah: Your first pastel/watercolor and your first lollipop.


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

Matteo and Lilah: Enthusiastically exploring the many treasures of an antique store on Mother's Day (in Lilah's case, a little too enthusiastically, as she had to be carried out in the midst of a tantrum because she couldn't touch everything).


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

Matteo: It suddenly started snowing one day and you said it looked like "a thousand feathers falling from the sky."

Lilah: You love watching the "No! No! No!" ("Snow! Snow! Snow!") with Brother through the big window in Mama's bedroom.


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

Matteo: Happy 5th birthday, my love!  We had a little celebration at home with a Hot Wheels theme and a rainbow cake that Mama spent the morning attempting to make (it was pretty messy, but when we sliced into it, there were six colored layers, which you loved).  You got some new tools, a vice, magnetic building blocks, solar cars and a science kit and experiment book.  These gifts represent this stage of your life so well, as you love to build, take things apart and experiment with "potions."  I can't wait to see what you will create.

Lilah: Your favorite parts of Teo's birthday were definitely the balloons--which you shook like crazy and dragged around the living room--and the singing.  You have been singing "Ap bee-day a Deo!" ("Happy Birthday to Teo!") several times a day since you first heard the tune.  Your other favorite song is still "Silent Night," which you happily sing all day long: "O ee ee my myl" ("Holy Infant So Tender and Mild").  Sometimes, it's the only thing that calms you down when you're upset, so you've gotten used to listening to it on my phone.  Lately, you will go as far as to put the phone in my hand with a slightly bossy "O ee ee my myl" request to play it for you.  Your singing repertoire is really limited to "Happy Birthday" and "Silent Night" right now, but you are definitely a music lover.


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

Matteo: Today is your last day to be four.  I have been thinking a lot about how to prolong the day, to make it count.  I let you dig around in the spice cupboard for ingredients to add to your increasingly complex “potions.”  I didn’t stop you from filling the sink with water until it overflowed and made a huge mess on the floor.  I even helped you use the hair dryer to dry the coins you had “washed” from your coin collection, because I could see that it was important to your four year old self.  Life with you is always fast, but I wish I could slow these memories down, crystallize their process somehow.  Last week, you broke open an unremarkable looking geode and were thrilled by the sparking crystals hiding inside.  I tried to explain the process, how it happens slowly over time, but you were already filling the pool with water and excited about splashing through the mud.  Slow is just not in your vocabulary as you jump, yell, climb, invent and experiment your way through life.  You have always been a rocket, the word we chose a couple years back to explain how different children have different temperaments.  “Some kids are trees and some are rockets,” I tried to simplify.  You still use this metaphor when you tell me about a new friend you’ve made at preschool or at the park: “He’s a rocket, Mama!”  I haven’t felt this panic before, this need to keep you little.  I was always excited to watch you grow and develop, hoping that new transitions would ease some of your unbridled energy and intensity.  Suddenly, I find myself here.  Tomorrow, you will be five, and this year will be a significant one, as you transition into school age.  “Wait, slow down, you are too big now,” I want to say, and I feel for the first time that ache of motherhood, brought on by the realization that childhood is both fragile and fleeting.  I suspect that you will always move quickly, burning energy like rocket fuel.  You will probably always prefer to run than to walk.  Someday, though, I hope you will remember that your Mama tried to make your childhood at least a little like those slow-forming crystals: grown with love and patience over time to reveal something beautiful. 

Lilah:  Your brother broke open some little geodes today and you happily scooped them up and carried them around for the rest of the afternoon.  You used your "I'm trying to show you something really important" face, as you held up your treasures and proudly repeated "rwot rwot rwot." (rock rock rock.)


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

Matteo and Lilah: Lilah's first time dyeing Easter eggs.  It didn't hold her attention for long, but it was a pretty special collaboration for a few minutes.


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

Matteo and Lilah: Mama has been experimenting with prisms this week.  This seems like an appropriate metaphor, since sometimes it feels like there are actually four of you.


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

Matteo: You shareth and you taketh away...depending on how the toy she wants fits into your master Lego building plans.

Lilah: It seems like there are doggies everywhere and you squeal with renewed delight each and every time you see one: "Hiiiiiiiiiiiii do-ggie!  Do-ggie, hiiiiiiiiiiiiii!"


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

Matteo and Lilah: Things have felt a little crazy around the house lately.  Sometimes I feel overwhelmed trying to keep up with all the chaos.  Lilah, you have become fiercely independent, wanting to do everything you see Brother doing.  Your body is still small, but you are suddenly capable of so much.  Those little muscles want to move and climb and dance.  My attention is divided as the two of you run in different directions.  One kid is climbing on the table while the other is dismantling the pantry.  Matteo, you have become fascinated by the inner workings of machines and are always taking everything apart that is held together by screws.  Your toys lie in heaps of parts all over your room.  “They grow up fast,” we are constantly reminded by strangers at the grocery store.  “Enjoy this time,” they always seem to say.  So I am trying.  I am trying to embrace the chaos and appreciate the everyday details: the messes, the spills, the boo boos, the broken toys.  I try to think about what these things reveal about our lives.  Those messes were left by children making mud puddles, spraying water, having fun.  Spills happened because Brother wanted to pour a glass of milk or open a container of applesauce for his baby sister.  The boo boos were kissed away with love and the broken toys reveal the curiosity and determination of a growing mind.  Perhaps there is a little space to enjoy the chaos and not always resist it. 


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

Matteo: Your newest hobby is disassembly.  Any toy held together by screws is currently lying in pieces on your bedroom floor.  I am torn between nodding and smiling to encourage your curiosity about the way things work, and wincing as you leave a scrapyard of expensive toys in your wake.

Lilah: I moved the dining table into the kitchen the other night to give you kids a place to have a dance party.  In the mornings, I've been taking advantage of this new space to let you run around, chase the dog and dump toys out of baskets, while I attempt to finish my reheated coffee.  You are getting to be a very fast moving little toddler!

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.