Wednesday, November 22, 2017


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

Matteo:  You take your backpack with you everywhere you go.  It's packed full of "treasures," including toy cars, old batteries, flashlights, miscellaneous keys, stuffed animals, extra clothes and a fuzzy blue blanket.  You pack it fastidiously every morning with whatever treasures are most valuable to you in that moment and then you promptly hide it away where Sissy won't be able to find it.  You are very concerned that she will get into your backpack, which, of course, makes her want to get into your backpack.

Lilah: You want to like the giant cloud of smoke billowing from Grandpa's burn pile; Matteo seems very interested in it, after all.  But you don't.  Every time you attempt to get within five feet of it, you turn around and start screaming "fossa!  fossa!" and run back to Mama.

Friday, September 22, 2017


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

Matteo:  Every summer since you started walking, I have photographed you in front of this giant wood pile at your grandparent's house in Oregon.  It's like a yardstick of your incredible growth each year.  This is our last summer before you start kindergarten.  I know that school will bring both good days and hard ones.  I am excited to celebrate your accomplishments but also worried that I won't be able to shield you from the growing pains that come with being school aged.  Like stacking wood for the winter, it will be a hard job that requires patience.  Papa and I will always be here to help you.  We will celebrate your good days and hug you closer on the not so good ones.  Before you know it, you will have stacks of memories and new skills stored away for the future.

Lilah:  You don't like to be more than a few feet away from your Mama.  The anxiety this causes seems to be increasing, working its way more frequently into your little heart.  We took you to daycare for the first time during the month of May, while Daddy and I taught summer school.  Your teachers said you cried a lot or just sat quietly on your own for several days.  It broke my heart to think of you, in tiny pigtails with yellow rubber bands, trying to make sense of this unfamiliar new space.  Summer school has ended and we have been in Oregon for a week of our vacation already, but those days of separation seem to be affecting you more than I realized.  You cry if I leave the room, even for a moment.  My sudden absence floods you with emotions too big for you to yet understand.  I wish you could see that no wall or window can diminish how much you are loved.  I will always want to come back to you, to hear your "hiiiiiiiiiiiiii, mama!" as I scoop you up and lay your eager head against my chest.  The sound of my heart soothes you, one beat at a time, until your courage is restored.  You are still small and the world is very big, it's true, but Mama's love for you is much much bigger.


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

Matteo:  Making faces at your puddle self.

Lilah:  When you thought you were clear about wanting ALL the water bottles.


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

Matteo:  You love riding your tricycle more than all other activities right now.  It turns around 360 degrees, so you zoom and spin and slide to your heart's content.  This big empty parking lot was the perfect place to let you loose and watch you (safely) practice your stunts.

Lilah:  When your big brother has a stunt trike and you don't.


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

Matteo:  It rained this afternoon, so there were lots of puddle-stomping opportunities.  Splashing is one of your many talents.

 Lilah:  You climbed up to the top of the play structure all by yourself this afternoon.  You were so proud.  Someone scratched "I am here" onto the surface of the vinyl just to the left of your feet.  There is also a little arrow, pointing right to where you were standing.  This seems like such an appropriate expression of your growing sense of independence.  You are here, my love, and we are proud of you, too.


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

Matteo:  This is what happens when Mama tries to fold towels while you are in the bath.  On the plus side, my floor has never been so clean!

Lilah:  Your first day of "school."  You were not excited.  You stopped just in front of the "Go" sign, watching Matteo run ahead.  This pretty well sums up the difference between you two.  It was very cute to see you holding your first little backpack, trying to keep it up on your tiny shoulders.  It kept sliding down.  You are such a big girl now, but still a baby in so many ways.  You cried when we left you.  I cried, too.  I hoped you would adjust after a couple of days, but the whole week went like this.  It's only temporary, while Papa and I teach summer school, and then we'll be off to Oregon for summer vacation!

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)