Monday, May 31, 2010

Girl Cousins

My mother's father had six children, who had ten children, who have had six children (and counting: the next is on his way this August). Five of the six got together for a rare visit this weekend. Dave and I flew in to Minneapolis Friday afternoon with our girls, and my cousin Jesse was leaving Saturday morning with his, back to his current home in Boston.

Jesse's daughter Mira is six months younger than Clio, and his younger daughter Saya is one month older than Eleri; I've been hoping to get them together for ages.

It was such a simple pleasure to see them all play in my mom's yard, with my six-year-old niece, Lucia, as ringleader (her brother Finn was home, sick.)

I couldn't edit the photos any further than this.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Order in the Art

It's always fun to watch the progression in Clio's artwork. Right now, she has a particular bent towards order and graphic pattern. She also loves stamps, and I love the way she has been using them with watercolors and incorporating them into larger compositions.

Here, she used the stamp images or shapes as "flowers" and then painted the stems.

A detail.
She also created this grid with flower stamps, then carefully painted each flower in different colors.

This was a picture for my friend Amanda, who apparently made quite an impression on Clio when we all hung out at the office. Clio asked me to write a note on it, and to sign her name.
The other day, she took all the refrigerator magnets and lined them up into a grid over the information sheet for her outdoor adventure at school (a future post).

I'm guessing she got this sense of order (which I could call many other things with slightly less positive contexts), from me.

Design Notes: Resin Planter

This weekend I made a side trip to Home Depot when I was at Staples having copies made of our organization's strategic plan. Clio had picked out a potted flower at the grocery store the week before, and it was sitting on the dining room table, slowly shriveling in its plastic, temporary home. We had a pot from the aloe that drove with us all the way to Boulder from New York, only to be left on the deck all winter in some kind of sick botanical experiment about succulents and the high desert climes. (The climes won.) But we did not have dirt. We also do not have fresh herbs, something we had become very used to in Brooklyn, where we had a little container garden outside our kitchen door, and rosemary and sage plants that had survived many a New York winter (take that, aloe.) So I picked up dirt and threw in Rosemary, Sage, and Thyme (just short Parley for a trip to Scarborough Fair), and realized I would need a pot for this bounty.

Enter these resin pots in the most amazing hues: marigold, teal, raspberry, some of my favorites. It was hard to choose between the larger, ridged tubs (very modern!) and the softer-edged bowls. In the end, I went for scale and got the slightly smaller bowl, in this fabulous yellow.

Clio and Eleri helped repot the flowers and the herbs, though Eleri, surprisingly, was a little squeamish about the dirt (that and the wind, of which we have had plenty this past week). Now they love to water this tiny little "garden," and I love to look at the combination of color and textures (yellow resin! turquoise terra cotta! purple petals!) in this corner of the deck.

Plus: bonus! The ever photo-shy Clio thought it was just dandy to pose (and demonstrate her dance moves) with the new pots.

Sunday, May 23, 2010


We did something rash.

Eleri's hair has been a total rats nest ever since it passed the one inch mark, and lately she has often been seen pushing her bangs out of her face. So we decided to cut it.

There's a bit of a history with the salon. The first time I took her she had such a strong reaction (it was a busy day and I think she just got overwhelmed), we couldn't even stay. The second time I used every trick in the book to get a successful haircut, which I reported on here. It worked, but we were modest about the whole thing, just having them clean up the edges rather than going for the pixie cut we had discussed at home.

So today I took a picture of the rats nest

But also the lovely curls

Before heading off to the kiddie salon to take it short.

I didn't expect her to freak out in the salon, since it was very quiet there today and since the last visit went well. She did, though. She did freak out. So I let her have the lollipop during the haircut, and she sat in my lap. But still there were tears and struggles and a lot of resting her head on my shoulder- not the ideal conditions for a new do. And you know what? Fearing a bigger meltdown, I rushed the whole thing. I said lets go short, and the moment the stylist made the first snip, on the TOP OF HER HEAD, I knew it was going to be terrible and that it was too late. And there is nothing worse than sitting there and watching those lovely curls fall to the floor when you know suddenly and very clearly that it is a mistake.

The result is too short. It makes me think of this other freakout when we took Clio short, and how she looked like such a different kid to me. In the end, that haircut suited Clio, and we have maintained it since. Eleri's short hair makes her look boyish, and baldish, and makes her cheeks look big. Not biggish, but huge! I've been wondering if I should admit how I really feel about it. What I will say is that I have a sinking feeling in my stomach, knots, butterflies, whatever, and that I keep replaying the morning with different results. I've been talking lately about how cute she is now, how I want to pause her right here, so you would think that aharicut that makes her look like her baby-self again would somehow be a god thing, but it's not. It feels like a weird step backward, like she looks like the person she was, not the person she is.

Even the stylist knew it was bad: she told be in a compensatory tone that SHE had haircuts like this all through HER childhood (she now has long hair), then suggested--almost insisted--that we put a bow in it. Nope, I said. She won't wear bows or barrettes or anything. That's why we wanted to cut it short in the first place. She seemed surprised when I paid and told her to keep the change- amounting to more than a 20% tip. I just needed to get out of there.

Here's the thing, though: Eleri doesn't seem to care. And it will be much easier for her- no hair in her face, no rats nest for me to comb through in the bath each night. In about a month, I bet it will be grown out just enough to have some softness back, and maybe the curls will start to reemerge. For now, I'm kind of glad it's sunhat season. And I have a feeling that, as I did with myself after shaving my head in college, I will be compensating by putting Eleri in dresses and frilly shirts and sweet patterns every single day. I love that she's a little tomboy, but I'm not sure I need to correct people when they think she is an ACTUAL boy.

And caring about this makes me feel like a bad mommy.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Recent Events

Digging through our photos, I realize that I never mentioned two lovely events that I got to enjoy with Clio.

Way back in march, we went to the musical version of Mary Poppins, in Denver. My friend Lizzie took her daughter Laila when it was in Minneapolis, and they had a delightful time. I was inspired to check it out--but it was Dakota's dad who actually pushed to make it happen, and we made a date of it.

Clio and Dakota are a little small for the seats, and the Denver Center kindly obliges with boosters, which look kind of like those foamy lunchboxes. Clio and Dakota spent a lot of time getting on and off and on and off those things. We were in the front row of the balcony so they wouldn't have any tall grownups to block their 3-year old view. Most of the grown-ups around us were very nice about the presence of small children (I thought they would all be as sour as our neighbors immediately to the left), and we struck up a conversation with the people behind us. Here's a funny thing: if your party consists of one man, one woman, and various children, people will assume you are a family. Imagine the surprise of our new friends when they asked about Clio and Dakota's ages and we said they were "about 6 months apart." Oh, the confusion! Oh, the math that got done! We never did get to fill them in on the secret: act 2 began just then. Clio was completely enchanted by the whole production (Dakota was particularly interested in the dancing statues, who appeared to be naked save for silver paint), but even she threw in the towel middway through the second act. Our sourpuss neighbors did not love it when we climbed over them at the tail end of the biggest dance number of the show. but what can you do? Clio conked out in the car on the wa back to Boulder, but Dakota held on till the very end, which was at least 11 o'clock. He waved dazedly when we dropped him off at his house.

Much more recently, Clio invited me to a special Mother's Day tea at her school. All the mothers showed up around noon and spread blankets out on the lawn, only to have the wind whip up at the very last minute, sending us all indoors. We made a picnic ground of the classroom, and the children came out and recited a special mother's day wish, which I was too busy taking pictures to fully remember, but it was along the lines of "Happy mother's day."

I happened to lay out our blanket around the corner in the classroom, and Clio was worried at first when she didn't see me (seeing that searching look on her face was enough to make me resolve to always show up if I say I'm going to, always), but we settled into a lovely lunch of roast pork, french bread, fruit yogurt, olives, and the tea and scones her class had made for the occasion. They also made us giant silhouettes, and I can't wait to frame Clio's and find a place to hang it.

Because my writing class is still going, I am very aware as I write this that it is incredibly boring for a couple of reasons: because of all the telling (instead of any showing) and because of the utter lack of a "universal truth" that everyone can relate to (except, I guess, that thing about the look on a child's face when they thing you aren't going to show. But that was more of an aside than anything, certainly not the heart of the post.)

All of which makes me remember that this blog is still for the girls, too (as much as my own wants and needs have taken over), and it's okay to simply record every once in a while.

If I had more energy and creativity at this moment, this post would have been framed around Clio's current strep throat, and about the time I've gotten to spend with her and just her lately-- I would have talked about our day today, at the doctors and picking up her prescription, and the little moments we had that made me feel like a good mom (e.g. she pointed at a woman with a metal leg, as kids will do, and I took it as an opportunity, asking the woman if it would be okay for Clio to ask her about her leg. They had an excellent conversation--the woman works in a daycare where the kids call it her "robot leg"--and I got to teach a lesson). I would have referred back to these other events. I would have drawn some conclusions that would, no doubt, have been heartwarming and universal. If only I had stopped to think it through in the first place. I fonly I wasn't too lazy and tired to redo the whole damn post.

Nighty Night

Lately, it seems like everyone but Clio has take a liking to Clio's bed.

We found Eleri there

And a bunch of animals

But Clio kept getting caught up in the "princess" netting, and decided, against the odds, the the princess bed should just become a regular old bed.

And now she prefers to nap and watch movies in ours. The other day, while she was doing this, I considered curling up for a little nap in hers.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Helmet Head

Unlike many kids, who are NOT interested in wearing things on their head, Eleri is way into her helmet. She calls it "Eleri's Helmie" and she requests to wear it all the time. Often just around the house. I captured her this weekend post-ride, having lost the pants but kept the helmie. She continued to hang out like this for quite some time.

The no-pants thing is fast becoming a THING:

While I was uploading photos, I also found this, which qualifies as an Outfit of the Week, and goes along nicely with the funny headgear theme, only because the way she is wearing this hat is not a fluke: she props it up on her head like that every single time.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Forever Young?

Today I did something that no self respecting 35-year-old mother should do: I shopped at Forever 21.

Now, in my defense, I will say that forces conspired against me. I stopped at Flatirons Crossing on my home from work to return a few things I recently bought at Old Navy to fill the gap looming ahead of me for summer clothes (that was back when it looked like summer might someday arrive)only to discover in the comfort of my own home that the items in question made me look fat. Seriously. I'm wondering if Old Navy has installed trick "skinny" mirrors--a smart plan for a store that carries short-shorts in size 20. But I digress. I get to the mall and park by Old Navy and head for the closest entrance, which, as it turns out, is not a general mall entrance but takes me directly into Forever 21. Which begs the question: when did this teeny bopper store get big enough to ANCHOR a mall? And how did it happen in Colorado, home of too much fleece? And when did they start a children's line? Because that's what confronts me as soon as I enter the store: the cutest kids clothes this side of Zara. So naturally I remember that I have a store credit here. Seems impossible, I know, but in fact I have shopped at a Forever 21 once before, when Clio was a baby and I got skinny and must have had this crazy notion that I should try to look young again, being a new mother and all. Plus, my friend Liza made me do it.

I shook myself from the grips of little Clio dresses and made my way to Old Navy and took care of business, all the while trying to convince myself that I was going to go back to Forever 21 to use my credit on Clio (I had to go back through the store to get to my car, after all). But still looming ahead of me is that gap in my summer wardrobe! And while there is snow on the ground, buying summer clothes is aspirational! Upon re-entering the store (which I will mention is about the size of a Target and all decorated with white lacquer walls and floors), I threw my delusions to the wind and started picking things off the miles of racks. Come to think of it, that is probably when my delusions began. 90% of the merchandise can immediately be ruled out for obvious reasons of inappropriateness, but even with the 10% remaining there are some important things to remember if, like me, you are a child of the 70s (or prior) and have a child or two of your own. Just in case you fall prey to the initial delusion that you can shop at this store (or Strawberry, or Hot Topic, etc.), I will share the guidelines that I wrote in my head during my 20-minute shopping excursion. You can thank me later.

1) You wear a size large here. What's that? You normally wear a small? Not at Forever 21, you don't.
2) You can not pull off a skirt that short
3) Or a neckline that low
4) Okay, maybe if you were in the early stages of breastfeeding you could wear a neckline that low, but would you want to?
5) Polyester is not a natural fiber
6) Neither is acrylic. Or elastene. Or rayon, or acetate
7) Breathable fabric is good, right?
8) That rise is waaaaaay too low
9) And that one is way too high
10) Sequins? In Denver? With Children?
11) Okay, you can have sequins
12) I draw the line at sequins on animal print silk (yet: fabulous!)
13) You still wear the large, even in tops with a "loose" cut- get over it
14) It is impossible to distinguish the teens who work here from the teens who shop here, and none of them is interested, so give up on that awesome top hanging out of your reach
15) Stop looking wistfully at that top hanging out of your reach! No one cares that you want it
16) Is the "XXL" line their plus size? Then why is the Large still too small?
17) 8 items is plenty for the humiliation that awaits in the fitting room
18) Beeline to the fitting room! Do not stop at the prom dresses you are forced to walk through!
19) Prom dresses are way cuter now than they were in the early 90s
20) And way shorter. Keep walking, old lady
21) Forever?
22) You are twice the age of the girl in the next fitting room stall. At least. Wait- there are two of them telling each other the small fits! You are their COMBINED age. At least.
23) Speed round: the babydoll style makes you look pregnant, that tunic is supposed to be a mini dress, I said no sequins on animal print silk!
24) Wait. What's this? This little jackety sweater is cute. It fits! It looks GOOD!
25) It's $19.90
26) It's a MEDIUM!!!
27) When the girl at the checkout (half your age) asks for your ID,you may initially panic, but don't worry: she's just doing her job (you didn't sign your credit card)
28) You don't ACTUALLY have to be 21 to shop here.
28) But that would be probably be best. For everyone involved.

OH, one lat thing. I used up my credit, so I never need to subject myself to Forever 21 again.
And, I'm wearing my new sweatery jacket, TOMORROW!

Oh, yeah.

Sunday, May 9, 2010


I've been staring at a blank post for a while now, checking my email, reading other mother's day blogposts, both by friends and strangers out in the blogosphere. I sit here, tired, selfish, happy. I want to share it with the rest of you even as I want to keep it all for myself. At yoga last weekend, we were asked to set an intention for the class, and before I could even pause to consider, a word popped into my head, both spoken and written (in gold sparkly letters, if you must know):


Many years ago I spent some time in New Mexico, on my own, before heading off to graduate school. I did a lot of hiking in that time, often alone on the winding trails through the sandstone landscape, and I remember finding peace in those walks, whether from the exertion or the solitude or the vast magnificence of the sky or the particular combination of all three is hard to know. When Dave asked me what I wanted to do for mother's day, it came to me as clearly, if not as quickly, as the gold-spangled PEACE: I wanted to go hiking in El Dorado Canyon, probably my favorite place that I have encountered since arriving in Colorado last August. I thought about requesting a solo hike, seeking the solace of those New Mexican days, but of course the life I led then does not exist, and what I wanted today was a family hike. Clio wore a velvet and taffeta Christmas dress and stopped every few feet to collect rocks and chattered for every single second and she was just perfection. Eleri eventually wanted out of the backpack so Dave took her back to a less rocky trail and by the time we caught up again she came running for me, like first thing this morning when she let herself into my room and woke me from my mother's day slumber and in both moments she shrieked "Mommy!" with all the delight it takes for a person to forget to be mad that the sleep-in has been cut short at 8am.

Sitting by the creek after our walk eating fruit roll-ups with the girls and throwing rocks into the water to watch them go PLONK I thought I was experiencing the best Mother's day yet, and I realized that the last three years I craved escape from my life as a mom: a day of shopping, a trip to the movies, a break from the very reason that I am celebrated on this day. Today, at lunch with my husband and girls in a restaurant where good music is in abundance and yahtzee is always possible, I found myself so happy to escape WITH these people I love so much, or, even better yet, to not escape from anything at all, but to be in my life and to be at peace.

The afternoon of three surprise spa treatments, a return to a clean house, and a dinner comprised of all my special requests was just gravy.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Performance Art

While I was capturing the girls' decorating handiwork in the kitchen, Clio thought it was hilarious to run through the frame of the picture. What she didn't seem to realize was that I could actually catch her--our camera is FAST--and it's so rare that she will agree to a picture, I kind of had fun with it. After half a dozen runs, I told her we were finished and she suggested "only five more, mommy!" Thank goodness for digital!

Then it all turned into a kind of performance art.

I have to say, I'm so glad to have these pictures (and many more in the series) that capture Clio's silly personality. Without moments like these, we might look back someday and think Clio was a grumpy kind of a kid based on the photographic evidence.

Creativity Abounds

The girls have been decorating again.