Two-year-old Clive is like a human Divining Rod. He has a radar that picks up any water within a certain radius. It’s his element of choice. Just like Ephraim automatically heads for any available dirt for digging, Clive longs to be near water. Or in water, more specifically. Up to his neck, if possible–though he will settle for at least getting his hands wet.

Every store we visit that has a display of fountains, every home we visit that has a pool (whether we’re intending to swim or not), every creek we walk by or lake we drive over, it’s the same: “My Water? My Water? I have My Water please??”

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grapes & toothpicks & bandwagons & things

Let the record show that today we made Toothpick-Grape-Sculpture-Thingies.

I may as well confess: I am a Pinterest snob. I don’t typically search the site for kids things. I just don’t. It’s mostly because I don’t really like kids crafts–an opinion birthed partially out of practicality and partially out of laziness. It is also the result of a dissenter’s spirit (I despise The Bandwagon, and go to great length to avoid it if possible. I know. It’s silly.)

That said, I have no idea why this particular craft caught my attention, the concept of making sculptures-thingies out of grapes and toothpicks, but I remembered it suddenly while walking through the grocery store yesterday and decided to give it a go. Maybe it was because I secretly wanted to do it myself (and I did make a couple of things, including a “horse”, that I didn’t take pictures of.) Maybe it’s because you eat it when you’re all done (rather than displaying it for a while before packing it away and then agonizing over whether to toss it after you find it again five years from now.) Who knows?

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Ephraim really liked it. He was quite deliberate, his creations heavy on the toothpicks, and bearing the image of things like porcupines and suns.

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I can’t get over how much he looks like a boy and not a baby.

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This one was a sun.

He then had to take a picture of his creation:

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Clive was the more abstract of the pair. He mostly employed his time with eating the medium, though occasionally he would stick a toothpick in a grape and announce, “I made a potato*!” or “I made a monster truck!”

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He’s so deep, man.

Then of course, he had to take a break from eating…I mean, creating…for some additional refreshment:

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Have you ever noticed how “eating” is hidden in the word “creating”? I didn’t until just now.

And then: “Look! I’m a cake!”

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Oh Clive, I love you.

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*He has been talking a lot about potatoes lately. I think it’s because we’ve been reading Vachel Lindsay’s The Potatoes’ Dance before bed.

grapes & toothpicks & bandwagons & things

fourteen months

Anselm turned Fourteen Months on May the seventh. My camera was in the shop, and I entertained the idea of just using phone pictures for his post, but in the end I decided to just wait until the camera was back in my hands and I could take “real pictures.”

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His hair is getting longer, longer, and flippier and flippier. It doesn’t really seem to actually curl, but I keep letting it grow in the hopes that someday it will magically turn into ringlets. (It does, at least, have substantial wave to it, which means 1) he doesn’t have my hair at all, and 2) his Baby Mullet doesn’t really look like a mullet at all. He is, however, frequently mistaken for a girl because he does not have the same haircut as the other boys.

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He is really coming into his own Look, which still doesn’t look like much of anyone to us, although he does have a lot of Ephraim’s mannerisms, and a lot of Clive’s reluctances. His will and his personality are shining through that baby sweetness, and we have begun to have our first real clashes of will. I am happy to report that they were not as difficult as my first power struggles with Clive.

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He has five teeth, almost six–he gets around by slithering about on his belly (army crawling) and by whining until someone gives him their hands and helps him wobbly-walk around. I had really, really hoped that he wouldn’t be a really late walker like Clive, but it looks like I’m out of luck. I’m just glad Ephraim came first and was “normal”, so I wouldn’t wonder that I’m doing something terribly wrong.

The other day I had him on my lap while I called to Clive: “Clive, Clive!” And he echoed, to himself, each of my calls, “Kye, Kye…” I managed to get him to repeat Mama, Daddy, Kitty, and Ephraim as well before he caught on to what I was doing and clammed up. He really abhors doing things on command. Even though he is perfectly capable of telling everyone goodnight, he won’t do it until we’ve all given up and I’ve walked him out of the room. Likewise, when I make him laugh by kissing the teddy bear, then hold the bear for him to kiss (which he does,) then try to kiss him myself, he promptly turns his head and won’t do it.

I think he’s an Evil Genius and he’s probably totally faking not being able to walk.

We should call him Dr. Mo instead of Mr. Mo.

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He still prefers his loopy, squealy sounds to most words, and will occasionally “repeat” something you’ve said in his own noodley vernacular, grinning to himself like he’s made a secret joke.

He loves his books, and has learned not to grab them out of my hands until the story is done. He sits quietly for longer books than I remember Clive doing at this age. But really, I’m a little sad to say that I don’t remember much about Clive at this age as I was too sick with Anselm. That is something I am determined to appreciate about this age with Anselm–it’s been the first time I’ve had a fourteen-month-old and haven’t been preparing for another baby.

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For about ten days of the last month he initiated a new bedtime routine where I would turn on his noise machine, and he would immediately lie against me, cuddling his blanket and sucking his thumb. He would sit like that for a long time, until I got him up or he sat up himself and was ready to go to bed. It was very sweet while it lasted. Then one day, a few days ago, he just stopped. Who knows?

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He is a stinker. He’s my stinker. Happy Fourteen Months, Dr. Mo.

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wilderness apparel

Little known fact: it was on a camping trip that Jeremy first confessed his love for me.

Probably more known fact: that was the last camping trip I have been on. (It’s been eleven years!)

Thus I hold great affection for camping trips, but not enough to actually, you know. Go  camping.

These shirts from Etsy seller Wilderness Apparel are technically for people who are outdoorsy types, so I feel a little dishonest buying them–though they were seriously too great to pass up. I had been searching the site for hand-drawn designs (also lovely, non-snarky designs…is it just me, or is it really difficult to find a graphic tee that’s not snarky or in a foreign language?) The tees in this shop were just perfect. I wanted to get almost all of them. Not to mention the great quality of the shirts themselves (very soft!) and the super-fast shipping. Oh, and did I mention they’re currently Buy Three, Get One Free?


“life is a beautiful ride” tee by wilderness apparel


“morning coffee & the mountain air” tee by wilderness apparel
(This one is my favorite, I think.)


“momma bear” tee by wilderness apparel

So there you go. If you’re looking for happy, good quality, lovely graphic shirts that aren’t snarky or pretentious, go pay a visit to this shop!

wilderness apparel

changed, unchanged

disclaimer: This post was originally written about three weeks ago during a trip to florida. There are no seagulls in Marietta, but there are ferns, with fairies in them.

It’s late afternoon on a Sunday; the shadows are long and cooling, and the breeze coming through the backyard makes you forget how hot it was only an hour or two ago. This moment is the perfect climate for me. The brilliant blue of the sky and the yellow-green of newly sprung leaves, the strange mix of the calls of seagulls and songbirds, the shady mystery of the mass of ferns at the edge the yard all too easily tip towards the ethereal. There are probably fairies in those ferns.

With me here are three boys all devoted to their particular interests: the oldest is engaged in repeatedly pouring sand onto the concrete patio and smoothing it with a steamroller to make a road; the middle son has stripped off all his clothes and is sitting quietly in a wading pool filled with water that is probably too cold even for me to brave; the youngest is sitting next to a container of small toys which he pulls out one at a time, inspects, tastes, then throws aside before moving on the next. As he works, he squeals quietly to himself—it’s his way of carrying on a conversation. He’s the first of the boys to do that.

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 I’ve devoted a lot of time this year to reading more fairy tales, finding they balance a personality that’s too given to cynicism. I’ve been eschewing music that’s intentionally pessimistic and sardonic. This has been out of sheer necessity. You never really think about the worldview behind a particular lyric until you hear your small child sing it to himself. Then you realize the fire you’re playing with in their lives and yours, and you find suddenly that you just don’t have the stomach for it anymore, even when they’re not around.

I recently rambled on the phone to a good friend that I felt like things in my life were becoming “more green and blue”. This doesn’t really make sense, and I realized it after I said it but then couldn’t really articulate what on Earth I meant by it. I’m not a synesthete (though I probably could be if I tried hard enough; F# major is burgundy.) but the Myers-Briggs says I’m intuitive and I suppose that means I occasionally feel things that can’t really be described in words. My favorite colors are blues and greens and have been all my life (except for a brief obsession with pink) so the association is one of returning to beauty, loveliness, and a sense of innocent wonder. I attribute this partially to the fairy tales and partially to the sublime music of a friend, and partially again to the much-needed arrival of Spring and the climate of perfection I described earlier.

I have a board on Pinterest that is titled, simply, “LOVE”. It’s for things that—wait for it—I love. Like really, really love. I have strict rules of admission: I have to literally gasp or hold my breath (I do that sometimes) when I see the image for it to be included on the board. It’s been interesting to see what has been gathered there. There are more bees that I thought, not as many owls as I thought, and lots and lots of greens and blues. And a little bit of pink. Some things don’t really change, I guess.

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I wrote this poem twelve years ago this month. Isn’t that interesting? I had forgotten about it until I saw a link to it suggested under a recent blog post of mine. It’s quite unpolished–I hadn’t ever tried a pantoum before, and the whole thing feels rather rusty (I also messed with the format). Plus I was eighteen. That accounts for a lot.

I climb a winding stair of green
to reach the dome of brightest blue
of all I see below, I’m queen
although I’m only passing through

I reach the dome of brightest blue
and gaze upon the sight below
although I’m only passing through
a sense of longing in me grows

I gaze upon the sight below
the world’s alive, and all is green
a sense of longing in me grows
a song I feel I need to sing

the world’s alive, and all is green
the winding path, the sunlit lake
a song I feel I need to sing
the sun its leave begins to take

the winding path, the sunlit lake
to them, at last, I say farewell
the sun its leave begins to take
as down the mountain path I steal.

to them, at last, I say farewell
and notice where the green things grew
as down the mountain path I steal
what once was green is now grey-blue.

I notice, where the green things grew
as stars come out, the sun is gone
what once was green is now grey-blue
as twilight’s shroud is coming down.

the stars come out, the sun is gone
I think upon the greyish hue
as twilight’s shroud is coming down
I dwell in realms of green and blue

I think upon the greyish hue
that overtook the stair of green
I dwell in realms of green and blue
and of all I see–I’m queen.

changed, unchanged


There’s been very little variance in the weather since we’ve returned home; every day has greeted us with the same grey, dismal, rainy, slightly clammy climate. I’ve been gone for the majority of the past six weeks in some sort of never-ending road trip (and I’m sort of wishing I were headed off someplace again.) Sometimes I have to remind myself that the weather here is not always like this.

The lovely part of the dismal days is how the greyness pairs with the newly-sprung-green of the leaves. The dreary weather can’t mute that shade of green. It only augments it.

If the month of April has made a ritual of endless rain (April showers and all) then my answer has been this: to come down the stairs to a darkened room, to light a candle, to turn on Timbre’s Moon disc to the first track (listen to it here), to turn on the water for coffee, and to just dwell on the windowpane-framed view of the backyard, overcast, the deep browns and greys overcome by almost flourescent green.

Maybe there should be more to a post than this. Frequently I err on the side of “no one cares to know” concerning these small moments in the day. They are more felt than factual; they are difficult to describe. But today, I shrugged off the misgivings and took pictures instead. It’s my ritual.


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the sea and we

Is anyone not fascinated by the ocean? Our oldest boys have both adored the water from infancy. (Anselm is not impressed, but he’ll come around.)

I chose to bring my Lensbaby Composer (which permanently has the star aperture disc in it) knowing it would make beautiful use of the sun glinting off the water. I truly believe that lens (and aperture disc) was created expressly for the purpose of photographing children; everything is magical for them, and nothing so magical as the ocean. The stars are extremely appropriate. It’s like getting a little photographic glimpse into their worldview.

I’ve been having lots of thoughts about the ocean lately–ones that deserve a whole (lengthy, wordy) post of their own–and so watching my children interact with the sea has been a very reflective exercise for me. It’s also why I am always compelled to photograph them there.

But back to the Lensbaby: the lens really frustrated me when I first got it, because getting things truly in focus is just difficult. This perplexed and irritated my perfectionist side (which is always hyper-aware of critiques from the types I like to call the Photography Elite, whose habits I don’t have to go into detail about.) It took me a while to get over that and realize that its imperfection (if you can call it that) is kind of the point. I love it now for the dreamy, unfocused quality it brings. There is such thing as too much realism.

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the sea and we

thirteen months

Anselm Ioan turned thirteen months yesterday, and I did something I have never done before in my entire career as a mother…


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I mean I actually just remembered. He’s thirteen months! It happened yesterday. Fortunately I did take pictures of him yesterday–and except for my compulsive desire to be honest, I could have completely pretended that they were intentionally his thirteen-month-pictures. But now you know the truth.

Knowledge is power.

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Our Mr. Mo is thirteen months. He’s getting around pretty well by army crawling, which means all of his clothes bear the tell-tale signs of a scooter: great long smears of grime across his belly and his forearms. It’s been a difficult transition for me; having late movers lulls you into this false state of confidence at being able to sit your baby down and come back several minutes later to find them in exactly the same spot. It’s as if you convince yourself that you have trained them that way. It is most unsettling, therefore, to have to wonder to yourself where on earth that baby is that you just set down next to an inviting pile of toys. Add to that the fact that’s very, very quiet…! The fact is that he’s gone from being an oversized paperweight to a baby ninja.  He is very pleased with himself for being able to covertly clamber across a room and disappear before you know he’s gone.

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He is pleased with himself for a great many things, actually. Being charming is certainly high on the list. He seems to be hyper-aware of the fact and uses it to his great advantage, like disarming grown-ups who are irritated at him for throwing his milk cup off the high chair again. I can’t quite get it across to him that that does not work. Much.

He also takes great pride in his conversational squealy-sounds that he makes in lieu of babbling. Oh, he does babble–and says a few words, when he wants to–but most of the time he resorts to just making those loopy, noodle-y, wheeling squeals that don’t seem to serve much purpose except to express a sort of delirious pleasure at whatever is capturing his attention.

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He is unfortunately following Ephraim’s habits in regards to eating, which meant he loved to eat anything and everything until the one day that he didn’t like anything anymore. He does, however, like to suck the milk out of mini-wheats and is a pretty big fan of ham and beans (!?!) but I seem to have managed to birth a child that doesn’t like fruit AT ALL, and if not for the fact that he had those unmistakeable stork bites as a baby I might be concerned that the hospital switched babies on us.

anselm 13 months-10Just kidding. Sort of.

We’re coming to the end of the adorable one-tooth-wonder era. (Well, one tooth on the top.) Three more top teeth are poking through as we speak. Er, read?

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Happy Thirteen Months, Mr. Mo.

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