Saturday, August 28, 2010

Ah completion.

This post comes at reader-request.


For much of Henry and Sophia's life, their playroom looked like this:
(And yes, in case you were wondering that is a piece of gutter in the background.)

NB that was the 'playful' side of the playroom. The other side had the air-of-industrial and looked like this:

Charming, I know. HG TV was calling me up asking me to be on Design Star. I just *had* to turn them down - the children must come before my budding interior design career.

Admittedly, I didn't always have a room which looked so in-process. My blank canvas of a house is rather small (but we're happy in it).

Its more sketchbook size (our house is about 900 square feet for those who haven't been here).

So we *used* to have a dining room. It was nice - it had a table, chairs, a cabinet to keep my aunt's 1950s China.

AND it had a cute chandelier-in-miniature as well as nice prints on the wall (printed by our friend Mary-Kate):

But somewhere along the don't know, when we found out we were having twins, Tony and I decided the dining room was no longer a responsible choice.

What we needed was space.


And as this room was not suited for being a bedroom (I am not the type of person who could have a baby in a room with a sliding glass door...sorry!) It became designated as the playroom.

And Henry and Sophia share a bedroom.

Which is just fine.

But they have this space to play in:

Tony installed a ceiling fan and the faux-chandelier went away. We set up the pack-n-play as an alternative nap space, I hung up my collection of Dutch prints (and framed the postcards) on the wall, we re-purposed the bureau (filled with kids clothes, extra bibs, their Bjorn, sneakers for when they are 2) and put out their mini-wagon and handmade bears my friend Teri knitted...

...we bought a new carpet.

I primed-and-painted the walls.  (Um...applause? No easy feat - but totally doable thanks to nap-time).

[The color, in case you were wondering is called Sky-Blue-Sky (available at Land of Nod) its on alternating walls. I am not a firm believer in four-walls=same-color.]

Oh yes, and we filled it with their toys.

I bought these fabulous canvas bins, marked them 'Toys' (I have a way with titles, I know) and put everything in them.

We filled the shelves with their beautiful books (from our mothers!), the handmade 'stuffed letters' from my friend Dianne (who hand-sewed all the letters of their name and stuffed them with batting), a handmade cloth number book (and several quilts) from our friend Mrs. Wilson:

The bookcase is one Tony made from the old cellar stars (and then he painted them Pollock-style with primary colors).

I put up the shelf we bought at the farmer's market by Rustic Wood Creations, the clothespin bag my friend Amanda made, their two hats, the French toy from Mary Kate and the solar (and crank) powered L.L. Bean radio:

And we made sure they'd have easy access to the kitchen:

The finishing touch? I know, this whole thing has been remarkably moving. Would you guess I don't give a damn about decorating? The other 800 square feet is very uninspiring; maybe I'll post pictures someday...

Anyway, I had some extra paint and so painted up some canvases to match the walls.

And just this week had time to work on them.
And so I painted the moon -
the stars -
and the clouds for the twins to look up.

And for anyone who knows me, that was my favorite part.

That and being able to have a spot filled with so many wonderful homemade items for them.

My babies truly are blessed.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

the new camera, exposed

So I bought a new camera; its the digital version of my 35mm Canon Rebel. *sigh* I forgot how much I missed my rebel. This camera's got so much power, I find myself saying "whoaaaa...boy" when I'm previewing the pics.

And so, with my new camera in hand, I've been doing the mom-paparazzi thing. Positioning fans around the house, saying things like "you want the blackberry, make a face like you want the blackberry. You can't have the blackberry!"

I'm enjoying the camera so much I could eat it.

Which would, no doubt, void the warranty.

My mission with the camera? I insist on trying to get this portraiture thing right. Or at least under control. Or at least get better at it. So if you have any tips, I'd love to hear 'em.

Henry and Sophia seem to be suspicious of the newest addition. The same way, I think, Italians were of the eggplant.

You have no idea how long it took me to take these two pictures which look like I took them with a *bad* camera. One is over-exposed, the other, under.

One thing is pretty certain - I have such good little subjects.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

its like a whole roll of pennies

Okay, except maybe some are Tudricks, Amidons and Merrills; but once upon a time we were all Pennys. 

Except then I was a Donovan. 

Oh, never mind.

What a fun day though - all of the cousins (and second cousins) got a chance to meet! 

Friday, August 20, 2010

the wind chime

The twins have a new stylishly imperative toy which is a must to use whenever we…er…turn the corner and see it.

It’s a solar powered wind chime.

I know what you are thinking. Er….Jackie – you mean wind powered.

To you I say, where is your multi-renewable-energy-powered sense of urgency?

Alas, it is solar powered as well. It lights up in four colors at night.

One of our neighbors bought it for the twins.

And it is being used. A lot.

No doubt, she's now thinking "why in the name of all that is holy did I buy *twin* babies a wind chime."

You will notice that it is missing its essential center “tube” which did most of the chiming.

This is due to the fact that my gentle son ripped it off and tried to eat it.

Their current world is all about exploring. With their mouths.

Or, as their newest toy says laissez nous etudier.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

shadow journal

Have you ever loved a song, album or musician so badly that you couldn't wait to share it with your children?

Where anytime you listen to the music you rush to them, scoop them up and hold them so tight you can feel their hearts beating through their chests and you are unsure if its because they feel the thrill of the sound or are just excited because you are?

One of my favorite musicians Max Richter came out with an album several weeks ago entitled Infra. I downloaded it and on a Monday morning the three of us listened to it. Each for the first time.

Truth be told, I don’t think they really cared, but for me it was one of those moments. When art picks you up, beats you briefly and then recedes. And when its gone the direction of the wind has changed.

Moments like that remind me that the world is full of so many little-big lessons to teach them. And moments of restraint. {For instance, the other day we looked at a fountain and I nearly waded in with them, one tucked under each arm. But I didn’t.}

Like the other day, a song came on the radio - the new Eminem. I reached for the knob to change it as Henry and Sophia were in the back faux-talking quietly and chewing a teething ring. Squeak. Squeak.

I stopped.

And decided to leave the station on.

Sacrilegious I know! Call the mothering police! To allow my children to listen to such controversial lyrics?! Space where expletives used to be?! What’s wrong with me!

But I just couldn’t change it.

In that moment, I decided I couldn't, in good faith, shield them from music. I have to let things happen. I do believe it is okay for them to know that there are different conversations going on in the world. Different levels of sadness,
     Of knowing
          Of aching.

Like the story of the ‘Cellist of Sarajevo’ - where do the stories stop that I can share with them? The powerful ones that break hearts and sparkle like embers?

In other news, the other day Henry learned about shadows.

Now that’s a way to mess with your infant’s developing sense of object permanence.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Yes, I have a new favorite picture...

...or two.

I bet you can't guess why.


a lot happens fast

Henry's busting out.

Or should I say 'busted' - he has completed his time with the cranial brace (aka the helmet). And looks like a new man.

And seems...well, not celebratory.

Honestly, he doesn't seem to care one way or the other.

He had become somewhat of a daredevil with it on, so now is adjusting to things like head pain (when he leans backwards on the floor he used to have padding, now he just has and his hair. He keeps running his fingers through it (honestly, who wouldn't? I have to refrain).

When he hits his head now, he gives me this look something akin to, 
"Wh...what the heck! [pout; sometimes tears]"
And I'm like "dude, I'm really sorry; it'll get easier...[pout back; empathy]"
But he's adjusting well. Very well. Just look at him!

What a ham.

Miss Sophia has not one - but two teeth! I was surprised by how little fanfare there was. Even though many, *many* people said the first teeth would be horrific.
Ah well.

This picture doesn't do them (the teeth) justice. Sophia is quite shy to show them, but when I asked "So...did it hurt?" She said "Um, nope. Should they?"

We'll see how Henry does when its his turn.

And they are both creeping-crawling.

Sophia can make it from one end of the house to the other; and then back again.

She has this ultra-adorable habit of looking up every few feet and smiling with her two newest gems as if to say 'look at me!' - I caught her near the fridge the other day. Obviously in need of a snack; sustenance Sophia, sustenance.

And you'll notice I redesigned the blog a bit. I was getting requests to email people when I put up new posts; I hope some of you will find the 'subscribe' feature a bit easier (and I won't feel guilty when I forget to email...). Plus I got a chance to redo the masthead with a recent pic.


Sunday, August 15, 2010

I want to draw them the world

Lately we've been spending a lot of time outside. Listening to the acorns fall. 

I have another illustrator who I love. Randy Cecil. His work is lovely. 

I have much to report. Like teeth and creeping and helmets and first trips to the beach - but you will have to wait. 

Until then, little sketches, done in oil pastel:

Monday, August 9, 2010

first bites

At first glance, it looks like my kids will be pros at food. Right? Look at this snap of Henry with Uncle Christopher in the twins’ first-ever trip to a restaurant. They didn’t eat anything, but they seem to have their culinary-ese down pat. I can almost see Henry looking up and saying, “I’ll take a piece of chocolate cheesecake please, no whipped cream. Thank-you.”

This food finesse was short lived. Trying to encourage early table manners fell apart as soon as the spoon was in reach – with the rice cereal which was *extra* watered down because I confused “tablespoons” with “ounces.” An honest mistake, if you think about it.

And, as the old adage says – now, there are green beans everywhere. 

I feel somewhat to blame – seeing that I didn’t follow any book. The babies’ ped said basically – “no honey, no milk, no peanut butter until their first birthday.”

I was expecting more explicit instructions. And elaborate pictograms which would make Ikea direction writers proud. No such luck. And so, Tony and I were on our own.

With limitless freedom we inaugurated the great-American-food show. Thank goodness Gordon Ramsay wasn’t around. I bought a baby food processor/steamer/defroster combo (which works out well seeing that we do not have a microwave). A few baby freezer trays and an express pass to the farmers market. NB – the food maker is French. El processor is mon amour. *sigh*. I prepared beautiful food – selected the best, peeled it, arranged it, sliced it diagonally.

Then pureed it into near-oblivion. 

So far we’ve had green beans, carrots, sweet potato, a bite of blueberry and loads of summer squash.

Oh yes, and Sophia had half a sheet of paper. But we won’t discuss that.

Book or no book, rules or no rules, we have had loads of fun so far. We eat the wrong end of the spoon. We eat the bowl. We demonstrate. We wear the food. We mix up bibs.

And, naturally, we always end with a bath.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

a heavy tale

Admission #1: I am not a good storyteller. I leave out parts. I get distracted. I start in the middle. I start too close to the end. Get shy. I give little context. Not enough background. Have too many comma splices.

This is one of my many flaws which I hope was not passed onto the next generation. The bad-storytelling-chromosomal-defect. Which probably occurs on number 22. Mine likely forgot to pair up with its other half, which is probably roaming around on number 14 or something.

I feel that if Henry and Sophia are able to convey a tale more powerfully than their mother, with more expression and a stronger hold on the language they speak then, like chromosomes, each story they tell will be a little package of unlocked meanings that can ripple through their lives. This is a blessing I have for them.

Every day with them is a story – a rich, disorganized, rolling one which could leave even the slimmest among us heavy with contentment.

Speaking of overweight, I have a funny story to tell:

I recently bought a digital scale, two weeks after an enlightening (ha ha) physical. Like many other moms on the planet I’ve been combating the post-baby weight. No big deal I thought. I’ll lose it at my own pace.

So I’ve been doing the calorie-counting and more-exercise bit. And didn’t really care what the number was going to be when I stepped on the scale. But I was totally shocked when I stepped on the digital meter.

I picked it up. I shook it. I put it in another corner of the room. In the sunlight. On carpet. Nothing. It still said the same stubborn stupid number. Fifteen pounds over. Fifteen pounds?!

“Tony, I’ve been trying to lose weight. How did I gain 15 pounds?!”

Tony looked at me. And smile. Okay laughed.

“I don’t know how to say this.”

“Just say it. I know. I’ll never lose it…” I said dramatically.

Admission #2: I don’t always notice my children. They are such a part of me that I’m not aware when I’m carrying them. Including in the simplest of daily activities. I see them but am not conscious of them.

Perhaps its because they can’t speak yet.

For now they talk to me through their photographs, and I am happy to watch and share. Its more than the way they pose or smile or stare or turn or amaze. More than the way my little point-and-shoot is able to capture them. For now, this is their forum, their beginner lessons in storytelling. I would have liked a stronger candidate for their apprenticeship, but I will be content to teach them the little that I know.

And in the meantime, I will sit and listen.

Oh yes, back to the scale story:

With a twinkle in his eye, Tony said, “Well, maybe you’ll weigh less if you took his helmet off.”

I looked at him, then looked at my squirming son.

I had been holding Henry the entire time.

And he weighs 15 pounds.