Spreading their wings

My summer is coming to an end as I find myself back at work, beginning to prepare for the upcoming school year. Reflecting on this past month, I can’t help but think that this summer marked something special on my journey as a mother. It was one of those barely perceivable shifts, the kind that…

My summer is coming to an end as I find myself back at work, beginning to prepare for the upcoming school year. Reflecting on this past month, I can’t help but think that this summer marked something special on my journey as a mother. It was one of those barely perceivable shifts, the kind that can pass you right by while your busy driving the kids to soccer, making school lunches and trying to get everyone out the door in the morning. Perhaps that’s why it took a break to notice what was happening all around us. July in Northern Michigan offers that break. There is no where to be, no schedule, no busy calendar of events. The days role out with a gentle rhythm of play, whether it be board games, boat rides or backyard badminton. The shift that I noticed is one that has left me incredibly emotional, prone to pouring over family photo albums and remembering when my boys were just wee babies. This summer was the summer they spread their wings. They have a newfound independence and confidence that comes from a combination of age and an incredible year of school under their belts. I watched my son ride his two-wheel bike down the lane by himself. I said goodbye as the boys ran out of the house and over to their friend’s house. I buckled them in and waved goodbye as they drove away, off for a day’s adventure with my younger brother. I beamed with pride as they explored new hobbies with passion, Vik falling especially hard for the sport of golf and Vijay displaying bravery with his tubing skills. My boys still need me, of course. There are meals to make, and scraped knees to bandage, clothes to wash and sandy bodies to scrub clean. And luckily each night they still love nothing more than snuggling close together while we read. But things are changing, as they do every single day in this journey we call motherhood. I remember when I used to long for a moment when a little body wasn’t needing my attention, and now I find myself practically tackling them with hugs and cuddles at every turn. I also remember feeling particularly crabby when older mother’s told me wistfully how fast the time flies (this was when the days seemed to drag and the nights were sleepless and there were endless diapers to change). And yet they were right. They were so very right.  Vik turned five while we were in Michigan and we celebrated with a big party, attended by all of the friends my boys have grown up with in the summers. I am so incredibly thankful for the gift of Northern Michigan, and for our time there every summer. I find it hard to put into words how restful, restorative and magical our time at the lake is for our whole family. It is a chance for my children to grow closer to their grandparents, aunts and uncles. It is a time for us all to have a break from work, camp, school and the general busyness of our “real life.” Mostly it is a chance to be together, in a setting that is too beautiful for words. And for those of you that have followed this unfolding story I wanted to let you know that my mom is doing so well. She is back to having a sparkle in her eye and a spring in her step. She is back to gardening and drawing, hiking and biking, and generally living her life with joy. It is nothing short of a miracle, friends. This coming year promises so much more growth. There will be a busy school year with new teachers and friends. There’s always so much to learn, and such room to grow. I plan to head into this year with the intention of enjoying it all; the busy moments, and the quiet ones. I plan to hold tight to my dear, sweet boys while at the same time watching with awe as they spread their wings.

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.

Baa-ble Hat

I’m preparing a wonderfully rich post about writing a book proposal but despite my best efforts, I just couldn’t finish it this week. So instead I present you the cutest hat, modeled by the cutest boy. The Baa-ble hat knits up super quickly and is great for using up scrap yarn. As an added bonus-…

baa-ble hat1I’m preparing a wonderfully rich post about writing a book proposal but despite my best efforts, I just couldn’t finish it this week. So instead I present you the cutest hat, modeled by the cutest boy. The Baa-ble hat knits up super quickly and is great for using up scrap yarn. As an added bonus- the pattern is free! It’s funny; as the boys become more aware of my knitting and sewing projects, they are beginning to choose items that they’d like me to knit. Vik saw me eyeing this hat on Ravelry and said “I’d like that hat, mama, with green and blue.” Well alrighty then! He knows exactly what he likes. And when I finished it he wore it for the next three days straight, even to bed at night! I’m loving the ability to knit for my boys and actually have them excited about wearing the finished product.

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A Style All His Own

We’re having a gorgeous fall here in Providence.  Every street is breathtakingly beautiful, full of fiery red and golden yellow trees.  It is a magical time, and now that we’ve figured out our schedule in a way that makes everyone happy, we’re sinking in and enjoying the ride.  I was thrilled to finish Vik’s first…

_MG_9771We’re having a gorgeous fall here in Providence.  Every street is breathtakingly beautiful, full of fiery red and golden yellow trees.  It is a magical time, and now that we’ve figured out our schedule in a way that makes everyone happy, we’re sinking in and enjoying the ride.  I was thrilled to finish Vik’s first sweater a few weeks ago in time for fall, and even more thrilled that he’s wanted to wear it.  I think I made the mistake of lumping Vik’s style preferences in with Vijays; comfy pants, t-shirts, loose, easy clothing.  It turns out Vik has a style all his own.  He LOVED wearing a tux and shiny patent leather shoes for my brother’s wedding (pictures to come). In fact he loved it so much he wore the full ensemble the day after the wedding to the casual brunch.  My favorite Vik story from that weekend was when he was getting ready for the wedding with my mom- they were in her bathroom brushing their teeth and he said, “I’m going to have shiny shoes and shiny teeth, Grammy!”  Imagine that said with the cutest little 3-year-old lisp. Ohhh, he slays me.

_MG_9788And in preparation for the beach wedding we went to last weekend he came with me to the store and personally picked out outfits for him and Vijay to wear- crisp navy shorts and collared dress shirts.  They looked quite dapper.  And so that brings us to this sweater: Vik has been growing more and more curious about my knitting, always asking who I’m knitting for and wondering when I’ll knit him a sweater.  And so I decided it was time to give it a whirl, starting with a very simple crewneck sweater.  He loves it and wears it with pride.  Makes my heart happy!  You can check out the details on my Ravelry page.  It looks like I finally get to start knitting for at least one of my boys!

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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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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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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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Little Bites Trailer

I am thrilled to share with you the trailer for Little Bites.  We had so much fun making this video, though I will admit that with four little guys on set it was a bit chaotic!  But that is life, and that is the reality of our time spent in the kitchen.  It’s messy, and…

I am thrilled to share with you the trailer for Little Bites.  We had so much fun making this video, though I will admit that with four little guys on set it was a bit chaotic!  But that is life, and that is the reality of our time spent in the kitchen.  It’s messy, and real, and wonderful.  I hope you enjoy this glimpse into Little Bites.  I’d certainly love to hear your thoughts!

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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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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