Choosing happiness

How is it possible that an entire month has passed us by already? Really, December 2? That pretty much blows my mind. This fall has been a whirlwind in the best way possible and it feels that we are all wholeheartedly embracing this new season of life. I greatly enjoy my job and especially after…

cchitnis-bviHow is it possible that an entire month has passed us by already? Really, December 2? That pretty much blows my mind. This fall has been a whirlwind in the best way possible and it feels that we are all wholeheartedly embracing this new season of life. I greatly enjoy my job and especially after the election, I feel like the work I am doing at our school is all the more important. In fact, I can’t think of anything more important than working at a school that is shaping young minds to be empathetic, inclusive and non-biased learners. The boys absolutely love their school- they run down the walkway every single day, eager to get to their classrooms, give their teachers a hug and greet their friends. Every morning I wonder how we got so lucky. We are a mixed race family, my husband is an immigrant, and yet everyday my children go to school they feel safe and known. How incredible.

In between my work at the school, I am still taking on writing and photography jobs. I haven’t quite figured out the whole work/life balance thing, but I am happy (albeit exhausted) and I keep repeating to myself “this is just a season of life, remember to be grateful.” A few things have fallen by the wayside including working out, seeing friends, and unplanned time in my studio to create, knit and sew. The most I manage right now is a few rows of knitting before I fall into bed each night. Good enough for now.

Here is what this year has taught me. Happiness does not equal perfection. It is messy and sometimes exhausting but mostly, it is a choice. Events may happen that leave us feeling scared, vulnerable, worn out, and hopeless. And yet happiness is still there for the taking. For me, my purest moments of happiness occur around 6:30am when my two boys wake up and find their way into my bed where they wrap their sleepy limbs around me and cuddle until our alarm clock rings. I kiss their sweet brown cheeks, and run my hands over their little shaved heads, and marvel that I’ve been given the honor of mothering them.

As we enter into this holiday season I wish you happiness. I can’t think of a better gift.

*the above picture was taken during a recent work trip to the British Virgin Islands.

Cottage Living

This past month has been one of healing and rest, family-time, quiet moments and great adventures. There is no place in the world like Northern Michigan. We are so blessed to spend the month of July with my parents at our cottage. My husband comes for the first week, heads off to India for work,…

Northern Michigan, C. Chitnis18 This past month has been one of healing and rest, family-time, quiet moments and great adventures. There is no place in the world like Northern Michigan. We are so blessed to spend the month of July with my parents at our cottage. My husband comes for the first week, heads off to India for work, and then returns for the last week. It’s a pretty sweet deal. I’d love to share with you some of the beautiful moments that unfolded over the past month. Northern Michigan, C. Chitnis Northern Michigan, C. Chitnis14Northern Michigan, C. Chitnis8 Northern Michigan, C. Chitnis10 Northern Michigan, C. Chitnis17 Our cottage sits on the shore of Torch Lake, on an unpaved road near the teeny town of Alden. We’ve been lucky enough to call this ours for the past 25 years, and most of the families on our lane have had their cottages for generations. A few of our neighbors are now on their fourth generation of ownership. It is extraordinary to watch our children now play together as we once did- picking wild black raspberries, running down the lane from house to house, whooping wildly while playing king-of-the-raft, sunset games of badminton and late night s’more roasting. Northern Michigan, C. Chitnis7 Northern Michigan, C. Chitnis15 Northern Michigan, C. Chitnis4 In all honesty, I hardly took any pictures this year. I was too busy sailing, paddle boarding, reading, boating, hiking and enjoying the time with my kiddos. I wish I had captured the joy on Vijay’s face the first time he popped up on water skis. And I wish I had a picture of Vik, sound asleep on a windy sail across the lake, the waves soothing him to sleep. I especially wished I had captured the many moments my boys shared with their grandparents, uncles, aunts and friends. These precious moments will have to live in my memory.Northern Michigan, C. Chitnis27 Northern Michigan, C. Chitnis12 Northern Michigan, C. Chitnis22 Northern Michigan, C. Chitnis23 Northern Michigan, C. Chitnis24 Northern Michigan, C. Chitnis25 Northern Michigan, C. Chitnis26 I did take quite a few pictures on the roadtrip my mom and I took one day through Old Mission Peninsula. It was a bright sunny day, perfect for exploring all the little farmstands and antique shops that dot the peninsula. We stumbled upon a lavender farm, a u-pick flower farm, countless gorgeous barns, adorable farmstands, a stunning field of sunflowers, and off-the-beaten path antique shops. I came home with a stunning bouquet of snapdragon and a few new graniteware items to add to my prop collection. And the prices (especially compared to Brimfield)- SUCH a steal!!thrifted finds Northern Michigan, thrifting Northern Michigan, u-pick We ended our day in Traverse City, grabbing a late coffee at the new and incredibly hip BLK \ MRKT and savoring one of the best meals I’ve ever had at Alliance. We also popped into Wood + Cloth and Darling Botanical, all housed under one roof in the Warehouse District of Traverse City. I also made a stop into my all-time favorite antique shop, Wilson Antiques. Wood + Cloth Darling Botanical Darling Botanical1 Darling Botanical3 Darling Botanical2 MRKTAlliance, Traverse CityIn all, a gorgeous roadtrip and the icing on the cake of a gorgeous month. Well, to be honest, the real icing was celebrating Vik’s FOURTH birthday (my baby is four, what happened??!!). It’s really the highlight of the summer- a celebration with friends and plenty of old-fashioned games (pin the tail on the donkey, drop the cloths pin in the bottle, sack races, face painting and hot potato). Vik's 4 birthdayVik's 4 birthday1Vik's 4 birthday2 I’ll leave you with a few pictures of the sun setting over a vast field of sunflowers, and our nightly sunset show…because, you know, Michigan likes to show-off every now and then! Sunflower fields, C Chitnis1 Sunflower fields, C Chitnis Sunflower fields, C Chitnis2 Northern Michigan, C. Chitnis9

Decisions (and celebrations!)

It’s funny…by now you’d think I would realize that I am a writer.  After so many years of keeping this space, and writing for pleasure and work, it is in my bones.  Writing helps me to bring clarity and intention into my life, and yet when things get hectic, my writing often falls to the…

birthday6It’s funny…by now you’d think I would realize that I am a writer.  After so many years of keeping this space, and writing for pleasure and work, it is in my bones.  Writing helps me to bring clarity and intention into my life, and yet when things get hectic, my writing often falls to the wayside.  Writing down my thoughts last week helped to bring such clarity to our current situation…well that, and the wonderfully supportive comments and emails I received.  Several readers asked the question, “Is there something that you could do to ease your schedule?”  When I sat with that question, I realized that the answer was a huge, resounding “YES!”

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birthday5Vik started preschool this year and it has been a difficult transition.  He is only 3 years old, yet he is an independent, mature child.  He attended summer camp this past summer and absolutely loved it.  So we figured he was ready for school, although we didn’t start his brother until he was almost 4.  It turned out to be a situation that wasn’t a good fit for Vik.  Vik is extremely chill, and the wild class environment wasn’t at all suited to his personality.  He would begin crying the night before school, and wake up in tears.  And this is a child that isn’t prone to crying.  Coupled with the fact that I work on Tuesday and Thursday, the two days that Vik is in school, which meant that I didn’t see him for the entire day, it was clear that the school situation was causing undue stress.  And so we pulled him out last week.  The decision was so clear, and the relief was so instantaneous.  Now, two mornings a week we have nowhere to be and the three of us- myself, Vijay and Vik- have unstructured time together before I go to work at noon.  It has been the biggest blessing.

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birthday8Thank you for being here…and thank you for gently voicing your support and asking the tough questions.  Isn’t it funny that sometimes a very obvious solution might be hiding in plain sight?  We are still adjusting to this new schedule, and there will still be moments of stress, but gaining those precious hours with my boys gave me renewed energy to tackle this season with positivity and thankfulness, starting with a huge 5th birthday celebration this past weekend!!

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Where I Stand

It’s been hard to find the right words to describe this season of our lives and all the changes that we’ve experienced.  It is tempting to sum it up into one word- busy- and leave it at that.  But really it feels much more complex.  There is a certain amount of guilt- I am away…

15628151567_4a5affe490_oIt’s been hard to find the right words to describe this season of our lives and all the changes that we’ve experienced.  It is tempting to sum it up into one word- busy- and leave it at that.  But really it feels much more complex.  There is a certain amount of guilt- I am away from home and the boys much more than I’d like to be.  Just the other day my son cried as I left for work, “You are too busy for me, mama.”  My heart shattered.  There is a certain amount of loneliness- I dearly miss our sitter, whose presence was a bright spot in my week.  There is a certain amount of excitement- weddings and birthday parties to attend- along with the inevitable letdown that comes afterward.  There is a large amount of mourning: the loss of free time, time to cook, knit, sew, create.

It’s funny, when my boys were babies I spent most of my days trying to pass the time.  There were hours spent pushing the stroller aimlessly around town, attending story hour at the library and wiling away the afternoon at the park.  There were long afternoons when the boys were napping and I was stuck at home in a quiet house.  Life felt busy, but the busyness was all due to motherhood, and really, our time was our own to spend how we wanted.  I loved it, but at the same time struggled against the monotony.  Now when you add in school and working outside of the home, there is this feeling that our days are not our own anymore.  Free time is precious and dwindling.  I can only imagine how it will feel once the boys are involved in sports and after-school activities.  There is this part of me that wants desperately to go back to those slow days of new motherhood.  I wish someone had told me how fast it goes.  And I wish that I would have listened.

I feel a bit lost right now, if I’m to be honest.  I speed through the week- working Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday- rushing between school drop-off and work, then back home to throw together a lame excuse for dinner.  I drop into bed exhausted, with no will to craft or read.  Without my creative pursuits I am adrift, an anchor-less boat bobbing in a rough sea.  This space may be quiet for a bit as I figure out my way, but I hope to see you here on the other side.  I’m not sure what blogging will look like moving forward.  Maybe once a week, maybe once a month.  I hope when the dust settles, you’ll be here.  I do so cherish this space, and the conversations that we have.  Life is beautiful, and hard, and then beautiful all over again.

xo

First Day of School

It kinda blows my mind how much my boys have grown and changed over the past year.  They are like these little men, tan and lanky, full of mischief, brimming with confidence.  Vijay is starting preschool today, and he’ll be attending three mornings a week.  He’s pumped to be back in school!  Today was his…

_MG_8089It kinda blows my mind how much my boys have grown and changed over the past year.  They are like these little men, tan and lanky, full of mischief, brimming with confidence.  Vijay is starting preschool today, and he’ll be attending three mornings a week.  He’s pumped to be back in school!  Today was his first day and he was all, “Let’s DO this!”  Vik will officially start next week, though he had his orientation yesterday and loved it.  He’ll be attending two mornings a week.  I am looking forward to having one-on-one time with both of them this year while the other is in school.  In the afternoons, I will go to work and my husband will take over.  It is going to be a juggling act to be sure, but we’re both excited to spend lots of quality time with the boys.  These years are flying by so quickly, and we want to be home together as much as possible while we can.

Just for reference, below is the picture from last year- all nervous smiles from Vijay and relative clueless smiles from Vik!  I swear they have both grown about 5 feet since last year (check out their heads in relation to the mail slot!)…how I’ll keep enough food in the house come their teenage years, I have no clue 😉

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Time

Sometimes I wish I had less interests, which sounds like an odd thing to say I’m sure.  The problem is that there is SO much I want to do everyday and there’s limited time to do it.  I want to work on sewing and knitting project, as well as home projects.  I want to visit…

_MG_7986Sometimes I wish I had less interests, which sounds like an odd thing to say I’m sure.  The problem is that there is SO much I want to do everyday and there’s limited time to do it.  I want to work on sewing and knitting project, as well as home projects.  I want to visit my garden and spend time watering, harvesting and weeding.  I want to sneak in a work out (I am currently obsessed with boxing!). I long to catch up with friends over coffee.  I enjoy being in the kitchen trying new recipes along with old favorites.  I love reading.  I yearn to wander around town with my camera.  And that doesn’t even touch on larger interests that I’d love to pursue with abandon, such as travel. But most of my time at home goes into mothering and running a household- and I feel privileged to spend my days doing this, don’t get me wrong.  But you know how it goes….  Sometimes I even wonder if I should try to shift my mindset: less hobbies, less doing and more being.  Yet these things bring me great joy, and each one brings a different sort of joy.  Gardening invigorates me, knitting relaxes me, photography engages me…  This has all been on my mind lately as the busyness of fall begins and I find myself trying to carve out a minute here or there.  It has also been on my mind ever since I read Felicia’s post on “Craft in the Middle of Motherhood.”  There are weeks, and months, and even years where these “hobbies” have been my lifeline, drawing me back to my whole self when I was lost in the fog of new motherhood.

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_MG_7964As mother’s we are hardwired to feel guilt, I suppose.  Are we doing enough?  Are we giving enough?  Are we providing enough?  There are times when my guilt wells up- when I lose my patience and snap at the boys for something silly, or when I’m knitting on the couch and they ask me to play.  Often it is evening time, and I’ve been caring for them all day, cooking for them, swimming with them, reading to them, and I just need a minute to unwind.  But I feel guilty because I know they would love for me to play, and I know this time is fleeting and there will be a day when they want nothing to do with me.  But where is that line between preserving one’s sanity, and cherishing every moment with your children?  I don’t know the answer to this question, though it is one that I frequently ask myself.  For now all I know is this- the vines were heavy with tomatoes, and the kale was overgrown, and the garden called for my attention, and I spent the evening hours there and it felt so good.  That will have to be enough for now.

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Vik Turns 3!

My baby turned three this past week.  WHAT?  Three years old, I can hardly believe it.  He is such a little man, probably due to the fact that he is constantly trying to keep up with his older brother.  He is such an incredibly calm spirit with a determination and grit that is well beyond…

_MG_7204My baby turned three this past week.  WHAT?  Three years old, I can hardly believe it.  He is such a little man, probably due to the fact that he is constantly trying to keep up with his older brother.  He is such an incredibly calm spirit with a determination and grit that is well beyond his years, and for such a young boy he is so very self assured.  He amazes me every single day and it is a privilege to be his mama.  It was such a joy to shower him with love for his birthday!

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_MG_6978I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating…we are so lucky to spend out summers on this little lane of ours.  We’ve known all the families on the lane for twenty years now, and many of them have been here for generations before us.  They all look forward to Vik’s party every summer, and I love knowing that he’ll grow up celebrating with this wonderful group of people.  We kept the party centered around old-fashion fun: sack races, pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey, Simon Says, clothespin in the bottle drop, face painting and of course, a pinata.  We made finger sandwiches, cut up a few big watermelons, and made mini-chocolate cupcakes.  Everyone had a blast, Vik especially.  Happy birthday my sweet boy…we love you so!

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This Mothering Gig

This past weekend was Mother’s Day and it was lovely.  But let me back up.  The week before Mother’s Day my husband was out of town once again and it felt like all the treading in the world could not keep my head above water.  Nothing huge happened, just the small day-to-day trials that can…

_MG_3361This past weekend was Mother’s Day and it was lovely.  But let me back up.  The week before Mother’s Day my husband was out of town once again and it felt like all the treading in the world could not keep my head above water.  Nothing huge happened, just the small day-to-day trials that can slowly drive you mad when you are going at it alone.  And for the record, my husband has been out of town for 25 days over the past month.  So there’s that.  The hardest thing about mothering, for me personally, is the loss of order and calm.  Two rambunctious boys = all out wildness for most waking hours.  I like a clean house and quiet hours to write/sew/photograph/knit. I like to wake up slowly and settle gently into the day.  Not going to happen when two active, energetic boys share your home.

This past Friday around 5pm, after an especially long week alone, a sense of calm came over the house.  Dinner was made, the house was tidy, the laundry was folded, and the boys were playing nicely outside.  I settled onto our front stoop with my knitting to enjoy the unfolding evening, when out of nowhere Vijay decided to use his baseball bat as a spear and it goes sailing through the basement window.  Glass shattered everywhere, covering the basement (which is the playroom) with a fine sprinkling of glass.  The window must have broken into 2 million pieces, I kid you not.  I pretty much lost it.  Not at Vijay (although he did earn himself a time out for being ridiculous and chucking his bat through the window) but just at everything.  I felt every ounce of energy drain out of my body, and I decided that I wasn’t going to do a damn thing to rectify the situation.  I poured myself a large glass of wine (and I pretty much never drink, like ever) and closed the basement door, and then sat down and wrote out a to-do list for my husband.  #1: Clean up the basement.  #2: Replace the window.  And so on.  Sometimes, you just have to know when to hand off the baton (and when to call the kind, and very handy next-door neighbor to cover your window with plywood).

But now my husband is home, and all is right with the world.  It is spring and the neighborhood is dripping in blossoms.  Vijay made me a crown for Mother’s Day (“because crowns make you feel special”) and I received gorgeous bouquets of flowers.  I slept in and watched Game of Thrones and knit in bed, and I puttered around the garden.  We walked to Three Sisters for ice cream and played in the park until dark.  It was lovely.  My boys gave me good snuggles and told me they loved me at least 100 times.  It’s not easy, this mothering gig, and there are moments that call for large glasses of wine and the admission of defeat, but I certainly wouldn’t trade it for all the gold in the world.  Without the difficult moments, the ones that test our patience to the limit, there wouldn’t be such moments of joy: heart-stopping moments when a little being looks up at you with all the love in his heart, and all the trust in his world.  I hope you had a lovely weekend celebrating the mothers in your life!  xo

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Lately

I’ve been single parenting for the past ten days.  To say I’m a little burnt out would be an understatement.  My husband arrived home Wednesday evening after the kids had already gone to bed.  They were ecstatic when they woke up to discover that their dad was home.  I slept in a bit and then…

benchI’ve been single parenting for the past ten days.  To say I’m a little burnt out would be an understatement.  My husband arrived home Wednesday evening after the kids had already gone to bed.  They were ecstatic when they woke up to discover that their dad was home.  I slept in a bit and then came downstairs to get Vijay ready for school, and upon seeing me coming downstairs, he said to me rather casually, “I wish you weren’t home, mama.”  My heart broke.

I know what he meant- in his 4 year old way he was trying to tell me that he wanted to be with his dad all day.  He wanted to be in “dad zone” where there are no rules, and meals don’t include vegetables, and the day is made up of “special treats.”  But after ten days of nothing but home cooking, snuggling under blankets to read books, epic cookie baking, trips to gymnastics, the library and the children’s museum, and countless hours playing trains in the playroom, I felt like I deserved more.  This is the hard thing about motherhood- it is often thankless.  Do I know that my kids adore me?  Yes, of course.  I have two very affectionate, sweet boys who are usually wonderful about showering me with love, but they are also toddlers, and they often don’t know how to properly voice their feelings and frustrations.  Many times, their frustrations get aimed at good ole’ mom.

I am hoping to reboot this weekend, perhaps visit the farmer’s market and take a Bikrim yoga class or two.  My husband has a babysitter lined up for tonight so I’m looking forward to date night.  I’m also finishing up my latest home project, which you can see taking shape above.  Since the boys are now sharing a room, I’m turning Vik’s old room into an office for my husband (mainly to get his damn computer off the kitchen table, which drives me crazy).  I was so pumped to find that beautiful, six-foot bench for sale on craigslist for $100.  What a steal!  The rest of the room came together with things we had laying around the house including pillows and rugs from our travels abroad.  I’m planning on sneaking in a few hours to watch Fixer Upper, my new obsession, and work on my latest knitting project.  As much as I love my boys, I need a break.  And perhaps they feel the same.  A weekend spent in the “dad zone” might just be the very thing we all need to reboot and refresh.  See you on the flip side!

Brothers

Two weeks ago we moved Vik’s crib into Vijay’s room.  The boys have been asking to share a room for the past few months, and with everyone having established solid sleep habits, we decided to give it a shot.  It has been one of the sweetest things I have witnessed as a mother.  Once I…

brothersTwo weeks ago we moved Vik’s crib into Vijay’s room.  The boys have been asking to share a room for the past few months, and with everyone having established solid sleep habits, we decided to give it a shot.  It has been one of the sweetest things I have witnessed as a mother.  Once I tuck them both in, I often stand outside their door for a few minutes and listen to their conversations, which mostly revolve around potty humor.  It usually takes at least two or three warnings before they finally settle in and fall asleep- first they have to chat, then they toss things from the bed to the crib, occasionally we hear the patter of little feet as Vijay sneaks out of bed to grab more books or retrieve a pillow he tossed at Vik.  When they hear us coming up the stairs to tell them to quiet down, they dive under their covers and hide, giggling non-stop.

The truth is that these boys have a special relationship.  It’s as close-knit as I’ve seen between siblings, and I think that is due to two things: being so close in age and always being together.  It’s also due to their personalities; Vijay loves being a big brother and has never, not even once, displayed signs of jealousy towards Vik.  He seemed to understand as soon as Vik was born that his job was to be an older brother, and take care of him.  He takes that job seriously.  Vijay started school this past fall, and only attends two mornings a week.  So other than that, the boys are always, always together and have been since the moment Vik was born.  I’m not great at organizing playdates or meeting up with other moms- we kind of make our days up as we go.  We are always out and about, at the children’s museum, library or gymnastics, but it’s always the three of us, which means the boys have become their own best friends.  Things will be changing soon enough as Vijay’s school days ramp up next year, and Vik starts preschool.  My emotions are running high these days as it feels like we are nearing the end of an era.  I’ve been at home with the boys for over four years now and that might be changing in the near future as well.  Things are shifting- it is all good- but I’m holding on to this time we have together, appreciative of every moment, even the frustrating and tiring moments.

The boy’s room is a work in progress- it’s very simple, just Vijay’s bed, Vik’s crib, a small shared dresser, and a bookshelf.  I’d love to get bunk beds once they are big enough- I know they’d have a blast with that.  But for now…it is perfect.

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P.S. For those of you in other parts of the country flaunting pictures of blooming trees and bright sunny skies, I’m going to need you to cut that out.  Here’s a little snapshot of what we’re enjoying here on the East Coast.  I know….life isn’t fair, but do you have to rub it in?  🙂  We had another epic snowstorm last week, though this weekend the sun peeked through and started melting the snow.  Though we’ve got a long way to go until spring.

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