Kokoshnik

Dear Mia,

I don’t know what time you woke up this morning. I do know that as my eyes fluttered open at 6:30 to the sounds of your brothers’ voices coming through the monitor, you were sitting next to me in bed, reading a book. Have I told you lately how much I adore you?

Reading picture books

Not too long ago you held a paperback book in your hands. “Mommy, I love this sound,” you said, bending the pages so they crackled, making them speak.

We decided recently that one of our favorite words is kokoshnik. We talked about the way the front end pops (ko-ko) and the back end sizzles (shhh…nik). Sometimes you will recite a word or a sentence over and over just to hear the way it knocks against the roof of your mouth or rolls to the front of your tongue. You count syllables and compare rhyming words. Yesterday — for fun and just because — you made a list of “H brother” words, separated into different categories: ch, th, wh, sh, etc. You wouldn’t let me help you, wanting to come up with the words all on your own. You were going to turn those words into a book, you said, and I have no doubt you will. My files are already filling with your books.

When your dad was a little boy, he would ball his hands into fists and smell them. It’s still a quirk of his, this movement so repetitive and quick that it’s become subconscious. You? You smell books. You smell a lot of other things too (you two share this keen olfactory sense that’s so foreign to me), but always you crack the spine of a book and bury your nose in those pages.

There’s something about the beauty of a book, isn’t there, in its tangibility and also in its inventiveness and its truths among fairy tales? In its subjectivity according to the perspective of its reader. The way lives and worlds are born in the space of words. The way we can come to the same book and take from it different interpretations. There’s something about the way letters connect to form words that string together sentences to build paragraphs that construct a story. And within that story, characters and places both real and make-believe that have the power to transport us. Reading is an escape but also a way to connect to something within us that we can’t necessarily name.

But I don’t have to tell you this, Mia. You already know.

If you’re on Instagram you know about Throwback Thursday (#tbt). Consider this my #tbt video: a 3-year-old Mia “reading”. (One of the books we read so much that she memorized it.) Also, she’s totally speaking Turkish.

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J.Crew, Tabitha Simmons and “shiny ponies” envy

We took the kids down to my in-laws yesterday. They live about an hour and a half away so I took advantage of this time to catch up on magazine/catalog reading. I came across the CFDA/Vogue winner and runners-up in the newest J.Crew catalog and fell in love with Tabitha Simmons’ shoe line for J.Crew.

Ms. Simmons says, “When I design, I always have a certain woman in mind–she’s elegant, a touch whimsical, a touch romantic and also practical.”

Which is exactly how I would describe my sense of style. When I’m not chasing toddlers, or wiping up spilled orange juice on my hands and knees, or wearing shorts artistically styled with paint and marker streaks because I haven’t had time to do my own laundry. Which is to say, the only time I embody Ms. Simmons’ aesthetic is in my dreams. Still. I can dream, and that I will.

Tabitha Simmons CFDA / Vogue J.Crew

Shop the collection here.

In my eyes, J.Crew can do no wrong when it comes to shoes. (Okay, in my eyes, J.Crew can do no wrong PERIOD.) If you’re still not convinced, watch this video of J.Crew’s creative director, Jenna Lyons, on her “shiny ponies”.

Also, check out CFDA/Vogue winner the elder statesman and runner-up Jennifer Meyer (yes, that Jennifer Meyer).

Happy Monday!

 

Once upon a time, I was punch drunk on the magic of mothering

There are phases in my life where I feel restless, like something is afoot on the horizon just out of my sight. I call them seasonal phases because they seem to coincide with the changing of seasons. (Today is the last day of school for us, which I consider the official kick-start of summer.) Whatever it is, this feeling is something I can’t name and have a difficult time describing. Somber would be one way. The prevalent feeling of yearning for movement another. A keen awareness of where I’ve been, where I’m headed, and the passing of time yet another. In other words, the present is slipping through my fingers and I’m not even trying that hard to hold on.

hold on

I have never known depression on a personal level (well, there was that antepartum depression setback). I consciously make an effort to focus on the beauty of my life, the shots of pure happiness amidst the maddest of days. Life with three small children (yes, I consider 6 still small) is hectic and busy and I spend a lot of my energy trying to embrace this chapter of my life. It can be complicated and frustrating and never easy, but it can also be beautiful and humbling and energizing. But when I’m not caught in the whirlwind of the physical act of mothering, I find that I’m rather lonely. In the absence of the buoy of motherhood, I’m just treading water.

Once upon a time, I was punch drunk on the magic of mothering. It was all I could see, all I wanted to see. Now, I wake under a haze and walk with my eyes pointed toward that horizon, willing whatever it is to come forth. This isn’t to say that I’m no longer under the spell of my children, but what I once saw through tunnel vision I’m now seeing as the whole picture. And I’m seeing myself as stagnant. Is this, after all, the curse of the stay-at-home mom? Do we need to work more on personal growth than career-driven ones? Or maybe it is the fact that I’m also trying to make a career from home, which means that I am either mothering or working with little room for anything else. (I suspect I’m not the only one who feels that their days are split in equal parts mothering and working.)

I try to bury myself in the good and magical moments of my days. I smell the tops of my kids’ heads and breathe in their kisses like oxygen, but it could be in the next moment that I need to come up for air, I need space. I convince myself that this is normal, healthy even, that I need to pause, to reset and readjust, but there is always that voice lurking somewhere, pleading, “They won’t be little forever. You have today, this moment — soak it up, relish it — who knows what tomorrow holds.” 

morning hang out

It is a graceful balance I have to learn and maybe I never will. Maybe this is exactly where I’m supposed to be, stagnant or not, and it will be a while before whatever is on that horizon reaches me. Maybe I need to learn to be okay with that.

My heart, her skin

“Mommy, are birthmarks pieces of a mommy’s heart?”

We had just read books and said prayers after a conversation about beauty marks and freckles and moles. (“I’m going to count your freckles, Mommy. Wait, no, you have way too many.” This is true. I have A LOT of freckles.)

Her question made me pause for a second, knowing this sentiment sounded familiar — I just needed a moment to place it. And then I remembered.

Mia has a birthmark on the inside of her ankle. The technical term for this type of birthmark is called a cafe au lait spot, and for good reason. It looks like a coffee stain. (“Cafe au lait” is French for “coffee with milk”.)

In an instant, I remembered a conversation Mia and I had a couple of years ago regarding her birthmark. She wanted to know where it came from. How did it get there? I told her that when she was in my belly, she reached up at the last second with her tiny baby hands and ripped off a piece of my heart with her tiny baby fingernails to carry with her for always.

“But how did it get on my ankle?” she wanted to know.

“I guess because you didn’t have pockets on you at the time. You were in a hurry because you knew how excited I was to meet you and so you pressed it to your skin like a sticker and went on your way.”

I don’t recall ever revisiting this story until last night when I told her the same version. Considering that it’s scientifically unclear what causes birthmarks, is it really so far-fetched?

Hello Monday

Wow. When I said posting would be light for a bit I had no idea it would be that light. My goal is to start posting Monday-Friday. Hold me to it?

I recently came across Lisa Leonard and her fabulous Hello Monday series. Check it out and play along!

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Hello Monday.

Hello to the last week of school.

Hello to jackets in June. (Hey, summer, you’re up.)

Hello to partners in crime, best buddies and big sisters.

Hello to a project I’ll revisit this week and hopefully more to come.

Hello to Kindergarten graduation and my newly minted first grader. (Goodbye to a teacher who fostered my child’s learning and cultivated a safe haven for growing; a teacher Mia is heartbroken to leave.)

Hello to lazy mornings and uncharted days, sun-kissed skin and starry nights, melting ice cream cones and sticky fingers.

Hello to libraries and museums and the pool. Always the pool.

Hello to anxiety and hearts that need tending to and struggles that bubble within us even as we try to pop them one by one.

Hello to skinned knees and tantrums and cuddles and laughter and dishes and laundry and the list goes on and on.

Hello to running and yoga and a renewed determination to fill our bellies with fresh, wholesome foods. Hello, farmer’s market.

Hello to new words, new adventures, new focus.

MondayCollage

Recent Instagram photos

What are you saying hello to this week?