Wednesday, December 19, 2012


Someday my children will be able to brave Big, Scary Santa without me, right?

Monday, November 5, 2012


Time for the quarterly blog post, I guess. I do wish I kept up with this space better, because now that the big kids are growing, they (and we) love going back and being reminded of their antics. With that in mind, here's a little slice of life that was nothing unusual, but special just the same—a little alone time with Nora, during which I just admired her quirky little personality, her exaggerated facial expressions, her sweet voice, her inimitable fashion sense.

I'm going to post a few more catch-up posts in the coming days, just so the changes of the past few months don't go undocumented. Especially for poor Elliott, who, as the third child, will just have to trust us when we tell him that during babyhood was as adorable, brilliant, and lovable as his older siblings. At least as far as we can recall.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Fisher boy

Camping, for Sidamo, is fishing. He spent most of the weekend either fishing or asking to fish. When he's actually fishing, he's not nearly as peaceful as he looks here: His line tangles, his hook snags, he catches nothing but the bottom of the river. In short, he's frustrated. And yet he is desperate to do it more. It's not really a mindset I understand, as someone who avoids frustration and discomfort at all costs, but it's pretty typical of how Sidamo navigates his world.

(I should say here and now that all photo credit goes to Greg. Except the crappy pictures: When you see those, you can be sure they belong to me.)

Sidamo's second-favorite activity: Scrambling up rocks—especially if those rocks meet water. At Rocky Mountain National Park, there is an awesome alluvial fan, which is the technical name for the strewing of rock that occurs when a body of water floods. Or something like that. What do I look like, a guide book? Anyway, the end result is something it would take 23 playground designers 23 years and $23 krillion to build. It kept our entire crew of 4- and 6-year-olds (we were camping with friends) busy and happy for hours despite the record-breaking heat.

These pictures, for example, were all taken by Greg. I was busy sitting in that teensy bit of shade you can see way off in the distance if you squint, with a hot little baby on my chest, scoping out where I'd install the air conditioner if it took them any longer to get back down. (Mama gets cranky when temperatures break 80; see note above about frustration and discomfort.)

Sidamo is getting to a very fun age for outdoor adventures. He can hold his own and is motivated to explore and try new things. The trick is just getting his needs met while also attending to the littles (and the cranky mama), who have a little less tolerance and endurance than he has. I see some solo dad-Damo excursions in our future.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Dirty girl

Here's Nora within 15 minutes of arriving (clean) at the campsite.

This is why, when she tells me she's going to be an archaeologist, I believe her. She is happiest when she's eyeball deep in dirt.

We have another camping trip planned about a month, but we're hoping we can get back up there again sooner than that. The kids are in heaven when surrounded by dirt, sunshine, and water.

Unfortunately, our state is on fire right now. It's scary and awful, and absolutely heartbreaking for everyone affected. Please send your love and good thoughts toward the foothills and mountains. We, being in the city, are just fine, but our hearts go out to those who are not.

The High Park fire, seen from Estes Park

Monday, June 25, 2012

Elliott's first camping trip

I'd say he enjoyed it.

Recap to come, but I thought everyone's Monday could benefit from a little happy baby.

Family portrait

Our family, according to Nora. I think the conehead is Puddle. The biggest one is Sidamo, and the others vary every time you ask. The upside-down, hemorrhaging one is usually, but not always, Elliott.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Norasaur is fourasaur!

Can you believe little Norasora is foura? Because I sure can't.

We had a lovely day today celebrating this incredible little being. It started with balloons, pancakes, and pink champagne (a.k.a. lemonade).

Then some gifts, including a super pink scooter and a pooping pig (see the video), and a trip to the zoo with some family and friends to see the new elephant exhibit. We topped it all off with dinner at her favorite restaurant, and silly stories (mostly involving poop) on the car ride home.

What a wonderful day of celebrating a wonderful little person. It's really hard to put into words just how much I love Nora. Of course she's my daughter, and I can't help but love her like I love my lungs, but it's more than just that primal attachment—I love the person she is. If I could design a 4-year-old girl, she'd be it. She's so, so very funny; quirky as they come; unswayed by the opinions of others; fiercely determined; sweet, but not overly so; and just 100% herself. If she can hang onto even half of the good traits she's got now, she'll do pretty well in life. And she'll have a hell of a good time doing it.

Future Nora, if you're ever reading this, I want you to know just how much joy you bring to my life, and how incredibly, indescribably lucky I am to be your mother.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

What a difference a year makes

Nora's birthday is tomorrow. Last year, my friend Jess and I spent an entire day making these little lovelies for the "chicken cake" Nora requested:

This year, Sidamo is making cupcakes out of a box while the baby naps and I pump. It's all about shifting expectations. Just keep that in mind next time I tell you having a third is a breeze.

Monday, June 11, 2012

My dad

My dad died last week. It was awful and horrible and so, so very sad. And at the same time, it was a blessing in that my sisters and I, as well as two of my father's siblings, and several other people who loved him dearly, were all by his side as he left. That both of my parents died with all of their kids by their sides telling them how much they loved them is a gift I just can't describe. Greg said he hopes to be as lucky when it's his turn. I guess we all do.

Watching a loved one die, as you know if you've ever done it, is one of the most raw and transformative experiences we face as humans. It reminds me of giving birth in a lot of ways. It's a messy, painful process. It happens in its own time, and there's nothing we can do for the person going through it other than offer our hand, our love, and our support, and hope that the journey is as painless as it can be. That they have what they need—whatever that may be—to find peace, let go, and follow the process where it leads them.

Elliott was with me as I sat by my dad's side for the two days before he died. My father was mostly unconscious, but he'd rouse from time to time, look at his grandson and smile: "Beautiful baby boy," he'd say. There was something poetic about seeing them together—Elliott pure, bright, innocent, and joyful as he begins to figure out his place in this world, and my father—frail, tired, but, I hope, fulfilled as he relinquished his.

Another day I'll start to share the stories about my dad. And there were lots. Everyone who knew him had at least a handful of stories about him: about his generosity; his kindness; his incredibly short memory, which, while frustrating at times, gave him an incomparable ability to forgive. People remember his songs; he was always singing or whistling a tune—usually an Irish one, often with comically confused lyrics. They remember his easy laugh. How much he loved his family, his friends, and his community.

My sister, in her beautiful eulogy, discussed the fact every stage in our father's life was his happiest stage. What a wonderful and admirable trait—to see your life, flaws and all, and understand just how incredibly lucky you are to have it.

So today, even amidst the grief at having lost both of my parents at a sort of young age (bite your tongues), I need to look at what life gave me—two loving, smart, funny, unwaveringly supportive parents—and realize what a lucky, lucky woman I am.

Me, circa a thousand years ago, with the greatest dad a girl could ask for.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

The annual hair inquiry

Also known as our Referraversary. Also known as April 18th. Also known as more than a month ago. Man, this blog really is neglected. But more importantly, can you believe it's been five years since we saw this beautiful face for the first time?

Previous years: Year 4, year 3, year 2, year 1. Still don't know how we got so lucky.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012


Here's a pet peeve: People who come to their neglected blogs to blog about how guilty they feel for neglecting their blogs.

Here's a confession: I feel kinda guilty for neglecting my blog.

There's no shortage of hilarity here to blog about, so why the silence? Honestly, here's a part of it: I'm not great at writing about the non-hilarity, so when my thoughts are consumed by something other than oh-my-god-my-kids-are-freaking-hilarious, I tend to sit on my hands. And so it has been since the Trayvon Martin homicide. So, so, so many other people have expressed my worries so much better than I can. But here's the short of it: It sucks—absolutely sucks—that my 6-year-old son needs to learn that he cannot behave in the same ways as his white friends and siblings if he wants to stay alive and out of jail. That he needs to know that even though we know what a good, smart, freaking hilarious kid he is, others might look at him and see a threat. That his jokes might not be seen as jokes because people will distrust him. That my sweet little boy, who agonizes with guilt when he steps on ants, will be seen as dangerous because of his beautiful brown skin.

I can't even begin to express the anger, the outrage, the sadness, and the despair that this realization causes me. And what's worse is that I didn't know it, didn't truly believe it, until I was the one with blood on the line. Sure I knew, intellectually, that there was disparity and that it sucked and that someone sure oughta do something about it. But until it was my very own child—my imperfect yet perfect love—whose humanity people would be doubting, I didn't really feel it. I consider myself an empathetic person, but my heart just never quite understood. Not until it split in two five years ago and half of it started walking around in a tiny brown body.

We live in a pretty diverse little neighborhood, by choice. We love it. But not too far away is a new-urbanism neighborhood in which I have lots of friends. It has oodles of lovely qualities, but diversity is not among them. I'm a part of the moms' online forum for that neighborhood, mostly because it's a great place to look when I need to buy used kids' gear. In the past two years, I have seen numerous messages on the group that are straight-up racial profiling broadcasts (eg, "Suspicious man walking down my block! Lock your doors!"). When the poster is questioned (if it even takes that—sometimes it's right there in the original message), that "suspicious man" is always a person of color. A few times the wives of these "suspicious men" have sent messages to the group expressing their outrage, their humiliation, their sadness over the fact that their husbands have been harassed—sometimes even detained by police and questioned for hours without the courtesy of a phone call home—because some lily white family in this lily white neighborhood has seen them not as neighbors and fellow parents, but as outsiders, threats.

Usually these outraged emails are met with disgust from other community members and calls for action, tolerance, understanding. But there also usually the "better safe than sorry!" contingent who feels racial profiling is a small price to pay if it might, by chance, prevent a crime.

Easy to say when you're not the one being detained for four hours. When you're not the one calling all the local hospitals to find out if your husband has been hit by a car, since he never came home from walking the dog after work.

It's this, these thousands of tiny cuts, that attack black men's humanity every single day. Not in ways that make the news, not in ways that generate millions of petition signatures, not in ways that land them in morgues. But it's this that skews our society and creates two completely different sets of rules, realities, and possibilites: one for the privileged, and one for everyone else.

And it haunts me that it took this

for me to truly see it.

Thursday, March 1, 2012


I have screwed this kid up. I tried to raise him vegetarian, but once he made the meat-animal connection, I let him make his own choices about meat eating. His choice was an enthusiastic, "More, please." The result is the worst of both worlds: He can't stand the taste or texture of meat, but he desperately wants to be a meat eater.

Enter processed meat.

This child has a passion for unidentifiable meat products that makes me fear for his future. We never serve them at home, but if you invite Sidamo to a party, you might want to put the Li'l Smokies on a high shelf.

The other day our organic grocery delivery service was having a sale on relatively un-gross bacon, so I thought I'd get some for Sidamo as a treat. We had breakfast for dinner, and he enthusiastically ate all the bacon he was served. And then had seconds and begged for thirds (I drew the line). We didn't realize it, but there was one piece of bacon left when he started his dessert—a chocolate brownie. I was talking to Greg and we didn't notice what was happening until this was already well underway:

A bacon-brownie sandwich.

Please pray for his arteries.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

An outsider's perspective

We've just hired a wonderful nanny, Mary Beth. Today is her second day, and I'm enjoying overhearing her and Nora's interactions. As I've noted, Nora sometimes throws people for a loop.

Somehow, Nora got it in her head this morning that she needs to earn $4 to buy a gumdrop, so I gave her some chores to do. She has been chattering about the gumdrop, and the money she's going to earn, as she's doing all this. I just overheard her say (again), "Yeah, and I'm going to earn FOUR DOLLARS! And I will buy a GUMDROP!" Mary Beth said, "You're pretty excited. Do you like gumdrops?" Nora: "No."

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Fort Bunk

Over the summer, we did a relatively minor basement renovation to accommodate the baby then known as Filbert. We transformed what was a pass-through/office into a proper bedroom for the big kids, and what was Sidamo's room became the baby's room. It required moving some walls, installing new flooring, adding closets, etc. Oh, and 19 trips to Ikea. I exaggerate, but not by much.

The kids love, love, love their new room. They had both been sharing Nora's old room on the main level, which is now my office, because Sidamo didn't want to be downstairs by himself. We put a lot of effort into making their new room fun, to make up for the fact that it's in the dungeon. One of their favorite features is the bunkbed fort we made for them.

We made the curtains out of plain white sheets, which we tie-dyed. Using about a million rubber bands and as many marbles.

While we were at it, we also dyed their duvet covers and all their stained white shirts.

The kids love the results, as you can see.

Their favorite thing to do is hide in their forts with piles of books and read with the illusion of privacy.

The curtains are attached—Nora's to the bed itself, Sidamo's to the ceiling—using the Kvartal system from Ikea. Total cost for the project was some where in the $60 range.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Like, for instance

This photo from the gathering this summer at the lovely Cathy's house (photo credit: Jayme) pretty much sums Nora up. After eating an entire bowl of watermelon slices that had been put out for a group of a dozen or so adult humans, Nora got to thisclose to finishing the watermelon slice she's holding in this picture before handing it to me, loudly declaring, "Eck, I don't like watermelon."

Hair products used in this photo: dirt, sweat, watermelon juice

Thursday, February 16, 2012


Oh Nora. She is, as everyone who meets her points out, quite a character. I do sometimes joke that her incessant, stream-of-consciousness, often nonsensical chatter drives me to drink (umm, it's a joke. really.), but it's such an integral part of her hilarious personality that I wouldn't have it any other way. This girl really and truly is hilarious. I love trying to imagine what she'll be like as a teenager, college student, adult, but it's a little hard to picture. 

Totally easy to picture, though, is what she'll be like as a crazy old lady. Because she kind of is one already. 

Sunday, February 12, 2012


It's mid-February, and I am already so, so very over winter germs. The big kids, being at two different schools, have brought home approximately a kazillion bugs over the past couple of months (none of the nasty stomach stuff, luckily, knock on wood). I don't think there's been a single week since maybe October when we've all been healthy. The baby has been spared so far, but now he's sick too. I don't know if our pediatrician is especially cautious or if this is protocol with young babies, but the after-hours on-call nurse had me bring him into the ER last night because he had a fever of 100.5. He and I were there until 5 a.m., he was diagnosed with a cold, and we were sent home. On the way to the ER my mama instincts were telling me to just turn around and go home, thinking that what he really needed was rest and not tests (ooh, I'm gonna have to write that one down). But I didn't, because of course if something went wrong and I hadn't followed medical advice, I would have felt awful. And better safe than sorry and all that.

But we're both still exhausted, even after getting in a good nap this afternoon. He's doing fine, other than wanting to pummel me with his tiny little fists 10 times a day when I need to do the nasal saline/suction routine. Poor guy. He's sleeping a ton, and of course I just want to sit next to him with a mirror under his nose to make sure he keeps breathing. Mamahood.

Oh, and he pooped on my hand while I was taking his temperature. So yeah, I'm ready for the germs to get on out of here. Anyone else?

Sunday, January 22, 2012

He smiles!

I dare you not to eat him.

He gave us his first smile the day after his one-month birthday, but he's still very stingy with them. I finally caught one on camera phone today. How stinking cute is this guy? Ayayay I just can't stand it sometimes.

Friday, January 13, 2012

One month

He celebrated with a raucous all-nighter. It was awesome.

Now, for some random and unrelated observations on Elliott's first month ex utero:

  • He's generally a decent sleeper, just as long as he's in full-body contact with me. I realize I'm setting the stage for misery by allowing it, but in the middle of the night there's just about no trade I wouldn't make to just get back to sleep. Try me.
  • I should know better than to ever write about a child's sleep habits, because children, even as young as one month, read their moms' blogs and respond by making liars of them.
  • Scratch everything I just wrote. He's a terrible sleeper.
  • Children don't fall for reverse psychology. I'm screwed. 
  • He doesn't look like me or Greg, as far as we can tell. Still, he's pretty cute. 
  • When he was first born, I said to Greg, "Weird, he doesn't have any teeth. Do you think we should call a dentist?" Greg said, "I don't know, I guess maybe? I can't remember: How many teeth did Nora have when she was born?" He was serious.
  • Nursing has been really, really hard this time around. Another thing I thought would be a breeze with number two, especially since it was so easy with Nora. But it's been painful, and now I have mastitis, which is basically like the flu with the added bonus of boobs that feel like they're about to self-destruct. Fun times. 
  • Elliott is a pretty serious little kid. He furrows his brow so intently sometimes that it turns completely white. I'm looking forward to the smiley stage, but enjoying this scornful phase as well.
  • Time is passing quickly, as it always does when you're watching your babies grow. It's different this time than last, though. I think with the first I often wanted time to accelerate so we could get through the difficult aspects of whatever phase we were in. With the second, I realized how wasteful it is to wish away even a minute, given how precious each minute is. The passage of time seriously depressed me with Nora. This time around, I'm prematurely nostalgic and look back wistfully on photos from two days ago, but at the same time I know that each of the next stages holds its own beauty. And so I'm slightly more at peace with Elliott's rapid growth. 
  • Speaking of rapid growth: He was 8 lbs. 2 oz. when he was born. In the hospital he dropped down to 7 lbs. 9 oz. On day three he was 7 lbs. 15 oz. At one week he was 8 lbs. 14 oz. At two weeks he was 9 lbs. 11 oz. (I realize this is interesting to no one but his parents, but since I have never done a baby book, this is where I record such things.)
  • His first month birthday falls on a Friday the 13th. Spooky! Do you think it's too early for his first horror movie marathon? 
The all-nighters are catching up with him.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Sibling love

The big kids' first meeting with their little bro:

All in all, the big ones have adjusted very well to their new sibling. In fact, I think it's brought them closer together, as they're forced to find fun and companionship in each other when mom and dad are busy. Their interest in the baby comes and goes; most mornings Nora comes into our bed to hold the baby for about four seconds, and then she forgets about him for the day. Sidamo is interested in him when he does something interesting, like poop audibly.

We are careful not to let Nora alone with the baby unattended, as her affection can sometimes get a little too, umm, assertive (as we've learned with the chickens). His second night home, Nora asked, "Why does Elliott need to have a sleepover with us?" Greg answered, "Well, he's our baby, so he's going to be having quite a lot of sleepovers with us." She asked, "Why did we need a baby?"

A little later, I saw her walking toward Elliott with a pillow in her outstretched hands: "He's cold, so I'm just going to warm him up."


But fears for Elliott's survival aside, I'd say life is going pretty well so far with three. It has helped that Greg has taken off work, so he has been on big kid duty while I've tended to the baby. The timing is quite lucky, actually: Elliott was born just before the kids' schools closed for two-and-a-half weeks, and I shudder to think what I would have done if I'd been thrown into full-time care of three kids without Greg's (enormous, indescribable, superhuman …) help.