Monday, September 24, 2012


We spent the weekend with our dear friends Alison and John and their daughters Charlotte and Lillian, who live outside of Boston.  Alison's family grows cranberries, and this weekend happened to include the first day of harvest.  Their family was kind enough to invite us to watch and even get our feet wet (or dry in waders).

In a few days, the berries will be collected and driven to this Ocean Spray facility, where they're weighed, sorted, and sent on their way to become Craisins and juice.  

Oh, and speaking of juice, if you pick up a bottle anytime soon, look for the one with our friends' picture on the back label.  How cool is that?
We spent all day at the bogs, watching as the pickers drove through flooded bogs, releasing the berries from the underwater vines.  The girls played chase, rode bikes, and explored the grass.  Tye went barefoot all day long.  We even ate our fair share of cranberries straight out of the bogs.  

I needed this trip desperately.  I needed to get away from the city to place with open views of the sky, pockets of dense green woods, truly fresh air, and open space.  This weekend, I felt like I could actually breathe again.  I also needed to connect face-to-face with a close mama friend, and Alison is just that.  To top it all off, Alison and John watched our girls for us so we could attend a wedding reception Saturday night- our first time out together not just since Etta was born, but since we moved to New York almost  year ago (and my first time in heels in even longer).  Seriously, words just don't express how much I needed that!  

Coming home, I feel refreshed in a way I thought would have required a weeklong vacation.  My city-induced claustrophobia has been eased by acres of open space and my loneliness soothed with hugs and mama therapy.   Amazing what a weekend can do.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Smiling Faces! Sometimes...

Good news!  We finally had faces free of bruising long enough to make it to a photo studio!  Not-so-good-news- most of our portraits turned out something like this:
 The really kind woman working at the studio just wasn't a natural with kids.  She kept scaring Etta by yelling "Boo!" really loudly in her face, causing Etta to scrunch up her brow in concern.  And rather than making Tye smile, she asked Tye to say "Cheese."  Which resulted in this.
It could be worse, but when I look at this shot all I see is a girl being coached- like Honey Boo Boo and little pageant girls.  Not what I was going for.  Still, some of the shots turned out well.

In the end, I'm just glad we made it to the studio to record Etta at this age, whether the photos are stellar or not.  These portraits look even worse after revisiting Tye's here

The very next day, as we were walking through Brooklyn, strong winds blew a tree branch down and it landed on our heads.  As I was leaning over Etta, making faces at her, the branch hit the back of my head and broke into two pieces, scratching Etta's head as it fell to the ground.  I'm fine, but Etta started crying deep, choking sobs immediately, a cry I haven't heard since she was an infant.  She was terrified and hurt, but fortunately not seriously. She has a few light scratches on her cheek and a deeper one, with a bruise below, on her temple (left through her hat even).

It was a really scary experience for me, too- to suddenly have something huge hit me, then Etta, and then hear Etta cry like she did.  Wow.  Once Etta and I both calmed down, I started thinking of all the what-ifs.  What if I hadn't been leaning over Etta and the branch had hit her tiny head straight on?   What if it had been bigger?  I decided to just be grateful for our safety.  And grateful that we had already had portraits taken.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Butterflies and Roses

My favorite aspect of toddlerhood is getting to know my daughter as a person.  I learn something new about her almost daily.  Yesterday, I let Tye pick out fresh flowers at a neighborhood bodega.  As she carried home a bouquet of hot pink roses, she proclaimed, "These are my favorite flowers I've ever seen."  (Boys, take note.)  Once we arrived at home, she allowed me to put all of them into a vase except for one, which she broke off near the bloom and carried around with her the rest of the evening.

This morning, when Tye woke, I reminded her that today was our first day of fall music class.  She was so excited that she sang and danced all around the apartment, carrying with her the single rose, as if it was her dance partner.  When it was time to get dressed, she specifically requested the yellow dress with butterflies that GG gave her.  This is the longest dress in her wardrobe, which in her eyes, makes it the most princess-y.  Once it was on, she twirled about as she sang.  As we left for class, Tye insisted we bring the rose so she could dance with it.

To anyone on the street, Tye was a toddler carrying a broken rose.  The toddler I see and know, however, was a princess wearing her finest dress, who brought her favorite dance partner she's ever seen, all so that she could be prepared for her first day of music class.

I'm already looking forward to next week's special preparations.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Another lesson in flexibility

I planned to take the girls for studio portraits yesterday. I really want to have them done before Etta's teeth start to show in her smile so we can capture her gummy grin. But then she wiped out while cruising around the coffee table and hit her nose on the leg of the couch (seriously, how do you baby proof for that?!?). Oh, the perils of cruising. Hopefully next week's tumbles won't leave any marks on faces.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

To Etta, at 8 Months

Dear Etta,

Happy 8 months, my sweet baby!  In the past month, you've become much more mobile.  You aren't crawling yet, but you are scooting around enough that you often end up in a very different place than where you were set down.  Not only are you pulling yourself up to standing now using anything near you, but you're now cruising, walking along the edge of the coffee table and couch as you stand.  To go long with your first tooth, you've begun eating more food- not just tasting it, but actually eating it.  Sweet potato and frozen banana are your favorites so far, though you've only tasted a few foods.  Your hair is becoming blonder, and I don't think it's from the sun, as you wear a sunhat everywhere we go.  I think you just may be a blondie after all.

The biggest change I've noticed in the past month is that you're making your needs known and vocalizing more often.  Today, when Tye let you lick her ice cube and then took it back to lick it herself  again, you screeched.  She offered you another lick, and again, when it left your mouth, you screeched.  You really wanted that ice cube, and you let us know!  You also yell when you see but can't access something you want- a toy across the room, or food on our plates.  My favorite is your new, happily excited "Ahh! Ahhh! Ahhh! Ahhh!" sound when you know you're about to nurse.  I love knowing you're looking forward to your meal from me as much as you love table food.  Even with all your new vocalizing, you're maintaining your easy-going ways. When we're out and about with you riding in the carrier, you couldn't be happier, no matter where we are.

And I'm doing my best to soak up every minute of it.  You'll only be this cuddly in the carrier this often until you start walking.  I'm also making a conscious effort to pause and appreciate each time you excitedly grab on to me and bury your head in my shoulder or arm, as if you're just so excited you can't handle yourself.  Oh, how I love that.  I'm loving seeing so much of your personality and getting to know more about you as an individual.  I already love you so much, dear Etta Maeve.  I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you.


Tuesday, September 4, 2012


Welcome to...
...our new favorite hideout in Brooklyn, the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens.  
The Children's Garden has a selection of hands-on activities, like a stream, a water pump, a water table with floating aquatic plants, and a compost pile with worms and shovels for digging, plus fragrant plants, butterfly plants, and flowers that tower over even me.
Exploring the rest of the gardens provides an escape from city living as we walk among tall trees and through open spaces.  Our favorite places so far include the Japanese Gardens for the koi and turtles swimming in the pond, the Native Species Garden for the ten foot tall walls of thick prairie flowers, and a little tree cave that covers a portion of a stream running through the middle of the gardens.  
One of the things I love most about our neighborhood in Brooklyn is that we're surrounded by playgrounds.  We have more than I can count within a one mile radius of our home- at least 10 or 12.  We can stop for a quick climb on the way home from running errands or have Tye ride her scooter to one without worrying about her tiring out on the way home.  We could easily visit a new one each day of the week.  The playgrounds provide Tye with a great opportunity to climb, run, jump, hang, and usually interact with other kids.  
Recently, though, I've begun to feel playground overload hitting.  Maybe it's just the end of summer, or maybe we need to walk further and explore some new locations.  Maybe we really have spent too much time in the chaos of kids running, screaming, tumbling everywhere we look.  Whatever it is, I feel like the BBG provides exactly the opposite- peace, greenery, quiet, opportunity to explore- while also outdoors.  
The Gardens have boulders for Tye to climb and jump from, open spaces for running, and stairs to tromp up and down.  I can put Etta down in the grass.  We can all engage our senses smelling flowers, leaves, and dirt, looking at the colors and shapes and light and space, feeling the water and plants, and listening to the sounds of nature- which Tye points out by saying, "Do you know what I hear, Mommy?  A jungle!"  

Do you know what I hear? Imagination growing.


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