The Whirlwind of Fall

After such a leisurely summer, fall has taken us by storm.  We are adjusting to a new school schedule, a new job that takes me out of the home for 15-20 hours a week, a traveling husband and a calendar filled to the brim.  In the coming weeks we’re celebrating the wedding of my brother,…

_MG_9066After such a leisurely summer, fall has taken us by storm.  We are adjusting to a new school schedule, a new job that takes me out of the home for 15-20 hours a week, a traveling husband and a calendar filled to the brim.  In the coming weeks we’re celebrating the wedding of my brother, along with Vijay’s 5th birthday, and the wedding of one of my best girlfriends.  Whew.  And that’s just October!   Busyness has been on my mind, and I am really pondering how best to strike a new rhythm to our days now that I am working out of the home.  This has meant crock-pot recipes galore, asking for help when I need it, and trying to accept that there will not be as much time in my week for creative endeavors.  Everything in life has its season and I think we are heading into a busy season, one that will stretch us to new heights, and teach us to appreciate our quiet moments together when they come.  I’m learning to embrace the new challenges and rise to the occasion.  In the midst of all this newness, I headed to Martha’s Vineyard this past weekend to celebrate an old friendship.  Her wedding is coming up in a few weeks, and I planned a girls’ weekend away so that we could all celebrate the bride.  The weather was exquisite, the meals delicious, and the company even better.  I should have snapped a million more pictures, but as part of this new phase I’m learning that sometimes it is just as important to be in the moment and allow the beauty to exist in the mind’s eye alone.  Here are a few snippets to share…  Fall is most definitely in the air.

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Our Lizzie

It is an emotional time for our family as we prepare to say goodbye to our beloved sitter, Liz.  Truth be told, I’ve been in a state of mourning as we get closer to her departure.  I simply can’t image our lives without her.  She has been with us for over three years, starting just…

IMG_1096It is an emotional time for our family as we prepare to say goodbye to our beloved sitter, Liz.  Truth be told, I’ve been in a state of mourning as we get closer to her departure.  I simply can’t image our lives without her.  She has been with us for over three years, starting just a few months before Vik was born.  During that time she has become so, so much more than a babysitter- she is a huge presence in our lives.  New motherhood is difficult.  It is lonely and isolating and overwhelming. But when Liz would come through the door, I always felt this huge wave of relief knowing that with her help, everything would be okay.  Over the years Liz has traveled with us to India, Northern Michigan and Tortola.  She has watched the boys on our first overnight away from them.  She has cooked them countless meals, read them thousands of stories and passed endless hours at the libraries and parks around town.  She is truly one-of-a-kind, with a heart of gold and she has showered our boys with love.  She graduated in May of this year, and is now leaving to teach in Europe.  I hope she has the adventure of a lifetime.  I was joking with her yesterday that no one must ever leave Rhode Island because I have never seen quite the fuss over a person going away.  There have been parties, friends demanding goodbye dinners, brunches and drinks, and parades in her honor (okay, maybe not parades, but close enough!).  But really, all the fuss is just a testament to how deeply this girl is loved.

It’s funny…you never know who is going to come into your life and change it for the better.  When shy little Liz walked through our door over three years ago I could have never guessed what she would come to mean to our family.  I’m hoping ours is a connection we can maintain for a lifetime.  She better make room in her little apartment, because the boys and I are going to crash her party…I can guarantee that.  We just can’t go that long without our Lizzie.

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Country Living, September Issue

It’s always thrilling to see your name in print, and when it is attached to an article as lovely as this one, the thrill is over the top.  I pitched this story to Country Living well over a year ago, and through many staff changes and lapses of communication I stuck to this story like…

_MG_7627It’s always thrilling to see your name in print, and when it is attached to an article as lovely as this one, the thrill is over the top.  I pitched this story to Country Living well over a year ago, and through many staff changes and lapses of communication I stuck to this story like a dog with a bone.  It isn’t always easy being a freelancer, throwing your ideas to the wind and hoping they find a place to land.  And sometimes even when they do land, you have to fight for the right to actually write them!  I know…  But the article is gorgeous, the pictures by Stephanie Rausser are stunning and it was such a pleasure getting to know Erin of Floret Flower Farm.  All in all, a great win!  I hope you’ll grab a copy of the September issue (on stands now) and take a peek.

_MG_7631Anyway, this year there are going to be some big changes.  I am going to work part-time at the school where we will be sending the boys once they start kindergarten.  I’m excited and nervous, wondering how I am going to juggle it all.  The boys will still attend their sweet little preschool just a few mornings a week, so my husband and I are going to be switching on and off for childcare, as we’re also losing our amazing sitter this year.  I’m ready to be back in the workforce, working with a great team and being a part of something bigger than myself.  I am also thrilled with the idea of being a part of my kid’s school in such an official capacity.  It feels so right!  That being said I still have my third book launching in April, as well as talks of a fourth, but we’ll just have to see about that!  I’ll always keep writing and photography as part of my life, and I hope to keep this space lively for years to come as I so enjoy it!  But life is shifting, as it tends to do, and I couldn’t be more excited for the new direction.

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Thelma and Louise

Years ago when I was living in Chicago my mom came to visit for the weekend.  Because I lived in the tiniest studio apartment, she stayed in a nearby hotel.  On the last day of her visit I was in her hotel room watching her pack.  I was sitting on the bed chatting away when…

8303883355_2eddd51333_oYears ago when I was living in Chicago my mom came to visit for the weekend.  Because I lived in the tiniest studio apartment, she stayed in a nearby hotel.  On the last day of her visit I was in her hotel room watching her pack.  I was sitting on the bed chatting away when she suddenly grew serious.  I remember her saying something along the lines of, “I have to tell you something.”  And I knew at that moment, because of the look on her face and the tone of her voice, it wouldn’t be good news, and my eyes instantly filled with tears.  My mom was and continues to be my best friend in the whole world (aside from my husband I suppose, but that is a different type of friendship).  We genuinely enjoy each others company and have so many interests and hobbies in common.  In fact, there is no one I enjoy road tripping and traveling with more than my mom.  We love checking out new places and stopping for pictures, and we can hardly contain our excitement when we come across a roadside flower stand, or a sweet little shop or an interesting old barn.  With a house full of boys, I appreciate our shared interests more than ever now.

IMG_4119But back to that hotel room in Chicago. “I’ve been diagnosed with early-onset Parkinson’s disease.”  And there it was: the explanation as to why she had been tripping and falling so often, and why she had such trouble navigating her arms to put on her coat, and why she’d get a tremor in her lip that wouldn’t cease.  At the time, she was in her mid-forties with a young child at home (my little brother)- a picture of health and vibrancy.  I was angry- that is often my go-to initial emotion- it just seemed so unfair.  So unbelievably unfair.

IMG_0322As I’ve watched my mother deal with this disease over the past decade, my love for her has only deepened.  She is the bravest, most optimistic person I have ever met, and continues to live life to the very fullest, doing so much for others and never letting her decreased mobility or pain get in the way.  In fact, I don’t think we will ever know the real toll of the disease, because she is not one for self-pity or dwelling on her pain.  She takes medication every morning, and the disease is progressing, though if you were to meet her, there is a good chance you wouldn’t know that Parkinson’s was at play.

IMG_7274Who knows what the future looks like at this point- she could live to be 100, or the disease could progress more rapidly.  We don’t know.  But what we do know, and what a diagnosis like this brings into focus is that NOW is the time…  The time to travel, to be together, to make memories…because really, in the end, what else matters?  It is in this vein that we planned a road trip of a lifetime.  Beginning in Savannah, Georgia, where we’ll kick around for a few days, my mom and I will drive through the Blue Ridge Mountains, ultimately arriving at Blackberry Farm for a weekend workshop with the one-and-only Natalie Chanin.  It’s a “girls only” trip, as my boys would say.  Once the trip is over, we’ll all meet back in Northern Michigan to spend the summer together at my parent’s home. We’re planning on lots of late nights, rooftop cocktails, photo excursions, fried chicken, ice cream, Southern roses, and inspiration enough to last us for years (I can’t wait to share!).  We’re packing our bags for take-off on Sunday.

FullSizeRender-1Now, let’s go see about getting our Thelma and Louis on…!

p.s. If you have any recommendations to share (Savannah or anywhere along our route) please do!

p.s.s. This was shared with the full support of my mom, it is really her story to tell, though it is a part of all our stories…xoxo.  And the gorgeous flower photos you see here were all taken by my mom…my artistic, beautiful mama.

Because it’s my Birthday

I turn 32 today…and what better way to celebrate than a throwback pic to the 80’s.  Man…the 80’s were hilarious.  Candy cigarettes from the corner store and fake balloon breasts.  Those candy cigarettes actually puffed plumes of powdered sugar “smoke.”  Can you imagine getting away with that today?  I’m on the right and my older…

8303876461_06fd140682_oI turn 32 today…and what better way to celebrate than a throwback pic to the 80’s.  Man…the 80’s were hilarious.  Candy cigarettes from the corner store and fake balloon breasts.  Those candy cigarettes actually puffed plumes of powdered sugar “smoke.”  Can you imagine getting away with that today?  I’m on the right and my older (much cooler) cousin is on the left.  Has she got the pose down, or what?!  I’m trying my best to keep up, but I look hilariously awkward.  At the risk of sounding like a little old lady…where does the time go?  And come to think of it… after nursing two babies, I might take another whirl with those balloons.

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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Counting Our Blessings

My husband has been out of town for the past two weeks, 15 days to be exact.  He was in Nepal in fact, right in Kathmandu where a massive, magnitude 7.8 earthquake has killed thousands and destroyed great swaths the city.  The destruction, pain and loss is unimaginable.  I was making breakfast when my husband…

_MG_3061My husband has been out of town for the past two weeks, 15 days to be exact.  He was in Nepal in fact, right in Kathmandu where a massive, magnitude 7.8 earthquake has killed thousands and destroyed great swaths the city.  The destruction, pain and loss is unimaginable.  I was making breakfast when my husband called and up until that point I was completely unaware of the earthquake.  I never have time to check the news or learn of world events while juggling the morning routine.  “I wanted to let you know that I am safe,” he started by saying.  Safe from what?  And that is when I learned that a last minute meeting in Delhi had changed his plans and taken him out of Nepal just hours before the earthquake struck.  He felt the earthquake in his hotel in Delhi.  The hotel shook for an entire minute.  It is hard to process this information, to try to come to grips with what we could have lost, while at the same time mourning what so many others have lost.  I vacillate between feeling lucky and terrified.  Terrified that every time he travels I will live with this pit of fear in my stomach.  On Saturday I asked a friend to watch the boys for a few hours so that I could plant my garden.  I needed to get outside of my head, dig in the dirt and work out my thoughts.  I ended up going on a long walk afterward, capturing the blooms around town.  Sometimes you have to seek out the small joys and remind yourself that life is such a gift, not to be taken for granted.  My husband comes home tonight.

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New Habits

I have never had a skincare routine.  I guess I’ve always been lucky that I didn’t need one.  But aging is no joke, and for a while now I’ve noticed the signs of aging when I look closely at my face.  So when I was in NYC a few weeks back, I decided to seek…

_MG_2887I have never had a skincare routine.  I guess I’ve always been lucky that I didn’t need one.  But aging is no joke, and for a while now I’ve noticed the signs of aging when I look closely at my face.  So when I was in NYC a few weeks back, I decided to seek out a bit of help in this area.  I looked up independently owned beauty stores that specialized in eco-friendly products and stumbled upon Space NK, a UK-based apothecary with an outpost in SoHo.  These kind of places always scare me, to be honest.  The women are all flawlessly made up, dressed in sleek black and the products are lined up precisely on spotless floating shelves, and just peeking in the window makes me feel unworthy of such a highbrow shopping experience.  But I forced myself to go in, and I was amazed by the level of service.  The women were so friendly, and quite frankly, I think they took pity on me after hearing my “beauty routine” (which consists of washing my face with whatever is in the shower!).  No seriously- if low-maintenance is at the bottom, I’m below that…somewhere in the realm of straight up lazy!  I told them I was ready to commit to a skin care routine but that I wanted products that were free of all the toxic junk.  They suggested the Goldfaden MD line of products, and proceeded to give me a mini-facial using the products.  When they turned me around to see myself in the mirror after scrubbing and moisturizing my skin, I swear I looked ten years younger.  SOLD!  I bought the moisturizer, eye cream and sunscreen, and was given generous test samples of the oil and scrub.  I also expressed my wish to look pulled-together when I’m dressing up; for business meetings or date night.  I haven’t purchased make-up since my wedding (almost 8 years ago) so I guess it was time for an update 🙂  The women at the shop were so patient as I squirmed around in the chair- I’m not a fan of make-up, it always feels so heavy on my face.  I told them I wanted a 2-minute routine and wouldn’t you know…they delivered.  Laura Mercier tinted moisturizer to even out my skin tone (miracle product!) and cake liner to line the top of my eyelids (never knew that…always thought you lined the bottom!).  It’s been two weeks now and I have faithfully been following my new routine.  My skin is definitely responding, and when I take the time to do my little make-up routine I feel so pulled together.  As mothers we so often put our own needs last- the kids get the organic, expensive bubble bath, and we use whatever old bar soap we find laying around the bathroom!  It feels pretty amazing to splurge on myself and invest in preserving my skin…and I’m curious…does everyone out there have a skincare routine (was I the last one to the party here)?  Are there products you swear by?  Have you found any miracle products that help with the signs of aging?  If you are a mother with young kids how do you find the time to pull yourself together in the morning (I’m still figuring this out)?

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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