Sunday, September 30, 2007


I saw a number of old friends this weekend (and went out on the town until the whopping late hour of midnight!) As I was leaving our old hangout, the Kettle of Fish, Mark Manne told me that ever since he met Clio when she was about 3 months old and had the habit of kicking her legs like a clog dancer, he's been calling her Crazy Legs Peterson.

Is that offensive? He asked.

Actually, we've coined worse in the past 14 months. A partial list includes:

The Stinkster
Clio Grace McFunny Face
Stinky McGillicutty
Miss Lady Baby
A Joy and a Pleasure (sarcastically)

I know there are more, but out of context I'm forgetting. I just asked Dave for his favorite Clio nickname and he said Stinky. Do you see a theme here?

How to get what you want and influence people

Yesterday on the playground, all the kids were smitten with a fancy push-trike, which had a basket, a bell, and a horn. It was unclear who it actually belonged to, but in the space of an hour, Clio, Charlie, Rylen, and Riley all hovered, grabbing the horn, shaking the basket, and pushing the thing to make it go.
The parents all used the word "share" a lot, but ultimately we agreed that these kids are just too young to get the concept, and it's such a civil thing to impose on toddlers, whose worlds revolve only around what they want.

In Minnesota last weekend, Clio got not one, but TWO stuffed dinosaurs at Kohls because the merchandisers are smart enough to put them at the checkout, at toddler eye level, and to understand that toddlers don't understand ownership. Parents (or in this case grandparents) are helpless and money gets spent. Could you resist this?:

As an aside, we also got Clio a drum. Not, in this case, because she spotted one and thought it belonged to her, but because she bangs on things and it seemed productive to channel that. Plus, I oringally edited these photos in a "new toys" folder and am lazily including them here, even though the subject changed with my musing about sharing.

The "it's mine because I want it" mentality extends to food. At the zoo, (more on that later), Clio had her snack of cheerios, but decided she would also like some of Finn and Lucia's lunch. So she got it, just by pointing. Yummy.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Things Clio Learned in Minnesota

1. When you accomplish something, clap and say "yay!"
2. When over-tired and trying to get a parent's attention, hit them repeatedly in the face
3. How to scream

Fortunately, she practiced the latter two on the plane on the way home.
I'm trying out this new use of fortunately: I overheard the guy right across the aisle onhis cell phone, saying "fortunately, I have a little person sitting next to me."

But realy actually fortunately, we had lovely neighbors who traded seats so Clio and I could be on the aisle, who admired Clio's "spirit" and "energy" and who shared their magazines and tray table with Clio.

In the end, Clio did very, very well.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007


While we were in Minnesota, we had the opportunity to meet Rory and Nicole's new kitten, Milo.
Clio is really into animals, and recently mastered the "meow" sound (she used to say "Mao"), so this was truly exciting.

Upon closer contact, Clio was a little less sure.

In the end, she decided that Milo's toys were perhaps more interesting than Milo himself. But really, who could resist a full-size scratch pad with a dangling fuzzy toy?

Monday, September 24, 2007

Vow renewal

Funny, I just re-read the readings we chose for our wedding, and the choices underscore what I was just writing- that Dave and I have a practical understanding of love and marriage. At the time, we wondered if this excerpt from A Gift From the Sea was too dark, but ultimately felt it best reflected our feelings on the subject, for better or for worse. Here it is, and here we are on the altar:

When you love someone, you do not love them all the time, in exactly the same way, from moment to moment. It is an impossibility. It is even a lie to pretend to. And yet this is exactly what most of us demand. We have so little faith in the ebb and flow of life, of love, of relationships. We leap at the flow of the tide and resist in terror its ebb. We are afraid it will never return. We insist on permanency, on duration, on continuity; when the only continuity possible, in life as in love, is in growth, in fluidity - in freedom, in the sense that the dancers are free, barely touching as they pass, but partners in the same pattern.

The only real security is not in owning or possessing, not in demanding or expecting, not in hoping, even. Security in a relationship lies neither in looking back to what was in nostalgia, nor forward to what it might be in dread or anticipation, but living in the present relationship and accepting it as it is now. Relationships must be like islands, one must accept them for what they are here and now, within their limits - islands, surrounded and interrupted by the sea, and continually visited and abandoned by the tides.

On this day... in 2005

Today is the two-year anniversary of Dave and my wedding. This is the first time we've passed this milestone with a place to publicly celebrate, so I figured I'd remember the blessed event with a few photo highlights. Scrolling through the thousand or so pictures, it was fun to have a million different moments come back to me; I was just telling Marni that I made a list after the wedding called "Things I want to remember"; I wish I could remember where I put it, because the photos put me in the mood.

It's amazing how many different stories a group of photographs can tell- I'm aware of this every time I share an anecdote from Clio's world and choose the pictures that will illustrate it; surely I take liberties as the narrator, but this is not a fiction, it's a life. I worry, sometimes, about the changing nature of modern memory, and the fact that I am documenting enough of my daughter's life that some confusion between what she actually remembers and what she has seen and read on her blog is inevitable. It's funny to think how much meaning I am making just by the way I edit the pictures.

In terms of our wedding, perhaps each year on our anniversary I can go back to the photo archive and represent the day based on how I'm feeling at the time. The pictures above are two of the ones I already consider the "classic" or "signature" wedding pictures. I love these because they best represent what I remember feeling during the event: thrilled, giddy, a little bit out-of-body.

But looking at the lot of them two years later, and from this new position of wife and mother, I see something else: committing your life to someone is no small thing, and doing it in front of everyone you know ratchets up the pressure; it is nerve-wracking, it is stressful, and it is hugely anxiety-producing. Can you see it?

In a way, I'm glad to look back and realize that some part of me knew it was not all going to be a walk in the park. I'm glad we were scared and worried, but had enough belief in ourselves and our relationship to get into this thing anyway. It's worth it, every day. I think we knew that, too. Check us out:

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Italy Redux

I'm at my parents house and got my hands on more pictures from our trip to Italy. Here we are on the waterbus, on our way to the Biennale. There are some less-familiar faces here, so, from left: Mommy, Nonny, Aunt Nicole, Papa, Clio in stroller, then, back to front, First-cousin-once-removed Ryan, Daddy, first-cousin-once-removed Connor, and Great Aunt Molly.

Here is that Canadian pavilion we all loved:

The giant mirror-man:

Clio exploring contemporary art:

And, another day, a view from one of Venice's many bridges.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Take Your Daughter to Work Day

A few weeks ago, the day care closed for renovation, right after we returned form Italy. Unable to take additional vacation days, we tried a little experiment instead: Dave and I each took Clio to the office for a day. Everyone at Creative Time has been asking for a visit from Clio FOREVER, so it was a happy accident to find myself forced to bring her along.

First thing, she unpacked her bag (in the front hall.)

One of my young and very-childless co-workers was nice enough to ask, pityingly, if this is what my house looks like. (Sadly the answer is yes, at least during the day.)

Next, we took a little field trip down to the Essex Street Market, where our latest project was in its final stage of installation (you can read some of the fabulous press, including the New York Times, here). At the time, the place was an unfinished labyrinth in a building that likely has lead paint, with enclosed hallways covered in fresh paint. In a word, the perfect environment for a child. Needless to say, I did not let her out of the front pack.

Back at the office, Clio tried out the working life.

(Okay, really she just loves to sit in big people chairs. But that includes Task chairs! And also, I realize Clio spends a lot of time in this outfit.)

Mostly, she crawled up and down the long hallway and spent a lot of time being loved and adored. My photos are limited as I did not have my own camera, but here she is with my friend Yael, and to the right is the mysterious Douglas, our financial manager with whom I spend most of my Thursdays, and who once had a dog named Cleo. (In the background is Jessica, one of the latest hires at Creative Time, and the subject of the most unprofessional job offer I have ever made. Let's just say I was in a car on the way to the airport, and Clio was wailing in her carseat.)

Douglas's pug was actually named for Cleopatra, but he tells me it's good to have another Clio in his life.

Finally, Clio was reunited with Anne, who has loved her from afar all these months as I "refuse" to bring Clio to the office so they can see each other.

Here they are at their first meeting, when Clio was one day old:

Ultimately, Clio decided that the Mommy is where it's at. But she's looking forward to Auntie Anne babysitting while the Parents go see Superbad! (at Anne's insistence. Gotta love a boss like that!)

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Biking! (we're regular athletes around here)

As if the walking was not enough excitement, Clio also had her first bike ride (outside of a burly). The trip to the bike store was, well, quite a trip, but let's just say Clio picked out the most expensive bike seat, wanted nothing more than to sit in it at the store, and wanted nothing to do with it once we got home. (She also terrorized a little girl in a stroller- a stroller Clio very much wanted to push).

But worse than that was the helmet. She thought it was HILARIOUS when the lady tried them on her at the store, but as you'll see, there were tears when it came time to wear it for real.

We got her secured (stopping short at strapping the foot-straps, which would have been like touching behind the retarded brother's ears in There's Something About Mary), and we were off.

We made it around the block. It's a start.


After 6 months of cruising, 2 months of assisted walking, and 2 weeks of tentative steps, Clio has figured it out.

That's right, she's WALKING!

And, not to brag (I mean hey, walking at 14 months? Not actually so impressive), but she took it one step further and added in a little game of catch. In fact, the girl's got quite an arm.

The catalyst for all of this activity (finally)? A baby stroller. Starting in Italy, Clio became very interested in pushing her own stroller, a tricky maneuver that involves holding her up at waist height AND steering the stroller- a bit of a workout for the parent helping her. Back in Brooklyn, we discovered that the 18th street playground seems to have two abandoned doll strollers; it was there that I first discovered Clio could walk- if there was something out of reach that she really wanted, like a filthy abandoned doll stroller. Oh, and where crawling was also not so fun (the playground is sort of rough asphalt), necessitating another means of getting to the object of her desire.

After a few weeks of insisting to Dave (the non-believer) that a little stroller would make a perfect walker, I finally picked one up at the made-in-china store down the street (you know, like a dollar store where lots costs more than a dollar but everything is worth less) and Clio has happily been wheeling her baby around ever since.

Hey, now that I see it on the screen, I realize that Clio's pajamas kind of match the stroller fabric. This could be an outfit of the week, no?

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Venice Biennale

The inspiration for spending a few days in Venice before our stay in Lake Como was to check out the Biennale, one of the foremost international festivals of contemporary art. As it happens every other year, it was great luck that it was on this year, and we figured we couldn't pass it up.

With limited time, we could not take it all in, so chose to focus on the Giardini, where many countries have their permanent pavilions. Clio particularly loved the Canadian pavilion, where artist David Altmejt used mirrors, taxidermied birds, and a good dose of fantasy to create a sort of enchanted wonderland.
(My mom and I loved it, too.)

Here's Clio at one of the outdoor installations.

I love the use of inexpensive bricks to create this city on a hillside- reminded me of the hillside slums in Mexico, just over the border and towards Tijuana.

At the American pavilion, she was really into the low, shallow fountains out front (all things water, you know.)

And here she is with my cousin Connor, who was enthralled by the Felix Gonzales-Torres installation within the pavilion.

This is why I pack extra clothes....
she got VERY wet, but had a whole lot of fun.

After spending much of the day confined to her stroller or someone's arms, we finally set her free in the Italian pavilion, the largest and most museum-like of the spaces in the Giardini. She crawled all over the place, did some assisted walking, and talked A LOT (maybe she'll be an art critic!) I was just glad no one threw us out....

On our way back to the water bus, we stopped at a playground. Swings are the same in every language.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

9-11 / 9-11

I had a work event tonight, a screening of an animated film that finds connections between two tragedies that occurred on September 11th, one in Santiago, Chile in 1973, and one in New York City in 2001.
Watching the film, which is ultimately about love, I felt my own two 9/11s, the one I am experiencing now, in the present, and the one the nation, or the world, experienced six years ago. Honestly, I haven't thought too much about the events of that day in some years; but tonight I was aware of how much my life has changed since then. The theater where we held the screening is quite far south, and when I left the reception I found myself very close to Tribute in Light, and was surprised to find myself also very close to tears. Partly, I think I'm just so viscerally proud to be a part of the organization that brought that memorial to life (and that paid another kind of tribute tonight with Mel Chin's film); but mostly I think I'm extremely grateful for how things have turned out in my own life.
Many of the people who shared that day with me are no longer really in my life, and there will always be a sense of loss there; Dave and Clio were just a dream for the future, unnamed, but specifically desired.
I got home sad, aware that I did not make it home to kiss my husband and daughter good night two days in a row. And realized how little I know about what Dave experienced on this day six years ago, and how unknowable another person's life really is. It is comforting to know how much of our lives will be shared from now.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Happy Grandparents Day!

Apparently, today is grandparents day. While Clio can not be with her 4 grandparents or 4 great-grandparents today, she sends Big Hugs and neck zerberts, and hopes you all treat yourselves to a little something special.

A photo gallery of the eight greats:





Great Granddad (my Mom's Dad)

Great Grandpa Peterson (Dave's Dad's Dad)

MaMa (Dave's Mom's Mom)

PaPa (Dave's Mom's Dad)

And a special remembrance of LaVella Peterson, Betty O'Shaughnessy, and Mary and William Duggan, the 4 great-grandparents Clio will never know, but whose memory we will share with her throughout her life.