3.boys.at boys.playing boys.side.by lenox.sucks holding.ontomaking orlisorlis.lovessewing.w:.orlis




tree try twinkle.L's twinkle.o's


Hi.  I’ve missed you.  Happy New Year!  I’m so happy it’s January.  I like the twinkly, food-and-wine heavy, long (short) days of December but, for me, they don’t hold a candle to the fresh, buzzy days of early January.  In December we made gnocchi, we played instruments, we took walks, we lit lots of candles.  It was lovely.  But, ahhhh….January.  A new year.  A new list.  A few resolutions.  A bustling energy for cleaning out drawers and amping up the old morning jog.  Ah yes, this is much more my speed.

I feel that I owe you an explanation for my relative absence in this space the last several months.  Of course, I’m sure you’ve guessed that I’m just busy now with 2 kids — and that is, indeed, mostly why I haven’t been checking in as often.  I only have about a total of 3 hours a week of “me time” (on the mornings when Orlis goes to preschool and Lenox is taking a nap) and truth be told, usually I’d rather be sewing or reading than going anywhere near my computer during those cherished 3 hours.  So, I’ve been sewing a LOT and I’m so sorry…not showing you ANYTHING!  (shame!).  But, the other issue is, I just haven’t been taking that many pictures.  Oh, please help me with this!  I find my hands are occupied and still-lifes are a thing of the past, but even sweet, real-life moments are so much harder to capture these days.  I find myself reaching for the camera on two consistent occasions: 1. when Lenox is being especially cute, I think to myself, “don’t be lame and not take pictures of your 2nd child!” so I try to capture some of that stuff for posterity, and 2. when the boys are loving on each other (or more rare, playing easily alongside each other), and I’m think to myself, “Oh!  They do like each other!  This is going to be okay!  I’d better take a picture so I can remember this peaceful, loving, gentle moment!”  …….and that’s about it, my friends.  The rest of the time, I have no idea where my camera is.  And what’s a blog without photos?

One of my resolutions for the New Year is to answer my phone more often and also to be better about flossing.  Whenever I read those articles about people who are on their deathbeds saying what they regret about their lives, both “neglecting one’s dental health” and “not staying in closer contact with those they love” always rank really high.  In this I see that my bad habits are somewhat universal.  So, those two things for sure are at the top of my fresh start list this year, along with at least a once-a-month blog to check in with you fine people.  I also made a commitment to use gentler words and tones with my kids….especially the one that pushes my buttons (who shall remain nameless).  I also plan to amp up the craft nights, game days, playdates, and dinner parties around these parts, and to put half of our toys/stuff/crap in storage.  Who knows — maybe a garage sale is in my future.  I think it’s safe to say that the theme of my year will be about simplicity and connection.  At the very top of my “to-do” list (is it a To-Do list when you can’t really ever check it off??) is to help my boys become great brothers.  And by “help,” I think what I mean is “watch and trust.”    My instincts say that all the ingredients for solid brotherhood are there, they just need to simmer.  Finding my best, most useful role in this is the task of the year, indeed.  And who to listen to most closely about this very close-to-my-heart topic?  My mom or my brother?  My friends who are parents of two or more?  My myriad of parenting books?  My kids? ….my heart?


these days (october)




These days we’ve been….

*not blogging much.  I find my hands are often occupied and my mind is nowhere to be found, but I very much appreciate all the gentle nudges I’ve been receiving to get back in this savored space.  We are still here — alive and kicking!  Thank you for your loyalty.

*loving the changing colors and the fact that Portlanders treat October like they do December — a whole month of decorating in anticipation of one spooky day upcoming.

*sewing, sewing, sewing.  My mom’s visit last month reignited my fire, and in my few spare moments you can almost always find me sitting on my studio floor cutting fabric and making my way through some new fun patterns.  Orlis, too, has taken to some sewing of his own, and lately has been accompanying me into my studio to “make blankets.”

*doing a whole lot of cuddling (as you can see in these pictures).  Oh, these quilt-loving, snuggle loving boys.

*having many-a-spontaneous music party, usually in our pajamas

*teasing out a stubborn (breastmilk-born) food allergy in Lenox.  So far, we haven’t been able to figure out what it is that he’s allergic to.  The process of pinpointing it (and helping him be more comfortable) is taking nearly all of my energy, not to mention slowly dwindling my food options.  Luckily he’s a pretty happy little guy, hives notwithstanding.  Cross your fingers that we’ll get it sorted out soon.

*loving the particular rhythms and rituals that accompany this time of year — pumpkin patch, pumpkin carving, bulb planting, leaf raking, art walks, and crunchy bicycle rides — all the glory of a bright and glorious fall.


same shirt, different day

august 2012

august 2012


august 2013

Recently, as I was looking through some photos, I found pictures from a trip to the Oregon coast we took last August.  The photo of Orlis at the top of this post caught my eye.  I remembered publishing the beach diaries shortly thereafter, and moreover, I remember those moments on the beach, snapping away at the beautiful landscape as my little almost-2-year-old ran along the beach, giggling.  I remember the chill in the air and that his too-big pants started to gather large amounts of wet sand at the cuffs, the weight of which was dragging him down.  I remember holding the simultaneous thoughts of he’s so big, and he’s so little, and wondering which of those thoughts felt most true to me.  I know those moments in the mist and the wind undoubtedly brought some tears to my eyes, as the beauty of the beach so often does.  There are truths revealed on the coast that are almost overwhelming in their clarity.

Without thinking, I snapped a similar photo during our vacation at the coast a couple of weeks ago — almost exactly a year later than the original photo.  There I was (this time, with a new baby asleep on my chest), snapping away, while my almost-3-year-old ran along the beach, giggling.  Same coast, same beautiful landscape, same chill in the air, and ha! same sweatshirt on this boy.  It’s a little smaller on him, but not much, actually.  You only really notice it in where the sleeves fall.  I noticed, in comparing the photos, that this year his feet are in the water when he’s running — just an inch or less, but the water instead of the sand.  I notice a confidence, certainly a briskness in his stride, and a determined look on his face that, now that I see it, I recognize has replaced his wide-eyed naivete.  I know that gaze.  I see, too, that he’s shucked his pants in favor of bare legs for a fuller submersion in, not only the water, but the full experience.  And I’m struck, with all that I see in these two photos of this dear, sweet boy how many ways there are to grow.  He fits into his old clothes, sure, and into his old habits too.  And yet, time passes and as his arms curl up into a running position and his legs take a stronger, braver stance in the world, I marvel at how little I have to do with any of it, and what a privilege it is to witness.  Against any landscape, we do come into our own.


oregon coast


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The oregon coast.  There’s just nothing quite like it.  The forested walks that lead down to the beach, the miles of soft sand flanked by cresting sea on one side and creviced mountains on the other, the bending caves and nature-made kiddie pools and the thick, steamy fog that sits just overhead making a glimpse at the ocean never a sure thing.  This was our vacation week, and it was glorious.  Orlis leaped from every fallen branch, made sand castles, and ran (always giggling) ankle deep through the water.  And dear little Lenox slumbered, snoozed, and napped away to the epitome of white noise.  And we, family of four, (still getting our feet wet with this two-kid business), enjoyed small town pies and ice creams and the novelty of a woodsy cabin.  We marveled at how wonderfully relaxing (and cleansing) this kind of computer-free week can be, and also how, even on vacation, you never do get to sleep late with these munchkins.   Bleary, but still wide-eyed, we thanked our lucky stars for this magnificent setting, for the wonders of the woods, and for the endless gifts of the natural world.













Sometimes things happen a little differently than we plan and other times things happen just the opposite in every which way.  One of my coaching mentors from years ago used to say, “if you want to make god laugh, tell her your plans.”  Oh, the infuriating truth in that statement.

And so it was, with the birth of this tiny treasure who now makes us a family of four — he arrived in a fashion absolutely nothing like what I had prepared myself for or what I had hoped for.  I’ve noticed, some folks are quick to say, “all that matters in the end is a healthy baby and a healthy mama.”  And while I get what these folks mean and I am, of course, enormously grateful to have a healthy babe and to be a healthy mama, I hold a different view.  Birth matters too.  How we birth our babies and the unprecedented rite of passage for women that birth is matters too.   To me, it matters a whole lot.  It would be easier, for certain, to tell you here today, “the babe is here!  nothing else matters!”  But, I believe that you, dear readers, deserve a fuller story.  This blog is about process and transition and rites of passage, so as difficult as it is to share vulnerable details I will likely be processing for a good long while, I would be remiss in sharing only the joy that I now feel with this babe in my arms.  I feel much joy, but I don’t only feel joy — I feel many things.  It is with this in mind that I share this story.

For the four weeks before Lenox Bear’s birth I did little more than hope and yearn for things to get rolling.  Three weeks out, contractions constituting pre-labor began and happened sometimes all day every day and sometimes just in the evenings.  I tried, but didn’t sleep much.  And as I bypassed his due date by days and then a week and then two weeks plus, in deep and almost constant discomfort, I began to lose my sense of humor about all of it.  I dodged neighbors and phone calls.  It became so that I couldn’t stand another well-intentioned person saying, “are you STILL pregnant?!”

And then, as somewhere deep in my gut I knew it would, it began, late on a Sunday night.  At first, it was the same contractions I had felt for weeks, but they fell into a rhythm and I found, after 45 minutes or so, that I could no longer be alone.  Fast and furious they came — we tucked Orlis securely in bed with his grandma and called the midwives.  They took one listen over the phone and arrived within minutes of each other, just a half hour later.  Now I knew we were in business.  Feeling what seemed like an unmistakeable (and early!) urge to push, I was reminded by these amazing women baby-catchers to listen to my body.  Upon checking, they confirmed, “just a bit of a push past the pubic bone and we’ll go upstairs so you can have your baby on your bed.”  This sounded like a simple, easy task.  I remember thinking to myself, “after the longest drum-roll ever, this might be the easiest, fastest birth.”

Five long, extremely difficult hours later, I was still, in every position imaginable, trying to do just that — push that baby past my pubic bone  We had gotten exactly no where — not one millimeter closer.

While the baby was doing just fine, I wasn’t.  It was then that I knew I needed to get some medical help, and as much as it was the last thing I wanted to admit to myself, my exhaustion had overcome me, and my belief that this passage could happen in the comfort of my home by the sole efforts of my own muscles and the encouragement and expertise of the midwives and Rob deflated.  We drove to the hospital.

And there, with the delayed but most welcome relief of an epidural, I entered into another matrix entirely.  It was, just as I had read about so many times, a domino effect of interventions — first an epidural, then the worried looks on the nurses’ faces as they saw the effect take the baby’s heart-rate down, then an oxygen mask, then pitocin, some more pushing (and no budging) and finally, the dreaded moment when the doctor said, “I hate to skip to the end of the story here, but we are looking at a c-section.”  How could this be? I wondered.

And then, we decided to make one final attempt using forceps — a tool whose use is accompanied by laundry list of possible scary side effects for me and for baby that left me trembling.  But it was my last chance at a vaginal birth.  With a crowd of 12 people (3 nurses, 2 doctors, 2 extra medical personnel in case of emergency, 3 midwives, 1 grandmother, and 1 loving partner) all around me chanting and smiling and coaxing me along, I closed my eyes and gave all I had and then…a baby boy.  ”Thank you,” I said to the doctor over and over again.  Thank you.


That’s the story.  And the week that has passed by since then has been a beautiful, challenging, tearful, painful, joyful, busy, sore, and heartwarming one.  Neighbors and friends have come by with watermelons and flower bouquets from their gardens and whole, delicious, colorful meals.  There have been visits from midwives, and calls from the doctors and a whole lot of advil coursing through my veins.  There has been daily diaper laundry and other laundry and cookies and muffins to eat, and the amazing help of one wonderful grandma.  And there’s been baby feet to hold, and the ups and downs of new nursing, and one bright sweet and appropriately confused and cuddly big brother just getting a handle on things in the ways a 2-year-old knows how, with challenging and tears, and moments of utter, heart-wrenching kindness.  ”Are you okay, mama?”  ”Why is baby Lenox sad?”  And there’s been the tender and tricky navigation of new roles and new chores for both mama and papa as we navigate a shifting center of gravity with as much tired grace as we can muster.  And there’s been, of course, a sweet little babe to love and hold and to remind us, that loving and holding is about all there is to do right now.



things to do on one’s due date besides have a baby


A few years ago, I got into the practice of keeping a gratitude journal.  Have you heard of such a thing?  I think there’s no real “right” way to keep a gratitude journal.  Here’s how I did it:  I decided it should be the last thing I do before I go to sleep, so as to flood my consciousness with positive images and memories and to allow my brain to purge whatever was lingering before I shut off for the night.  I did this gratitude journaling just listy style for a good while, and I have to say, it was a wonderful ritual.  It served me in thousands of ways.

As much as I loved (and reaped enormous benefits from) gratitude journaling, it fell by the wayside, as things tend to, when I had a baby.  I think nursing or trying-to-keep-my-wits-about-me replaced journaling as my final to-do before bed.

Over this past weekend, as I faced my still-pregnant body in the mirror and thought to myself, “what should I do?” — gratitude journaling came to mind.  Perhaps some gratitude for this 40+ week state I’m in could do this gal some good.  I won’t lie to you — this waiting game is torturing me in some ways. But, when I really look at it, I must admit, there are some sweet things arising in these un-planned-for-still-pregnant-days.

So, I pulled out a notebook, and got some ideas down in my gratitude journal yesterday. I was not surprised to see that a few things were obvious (1. more time with just Orlis,  2. the opportunity to teach myself how to crochet a granny square,  3. getting a head start on May’s book club book,  and 4. indulging in a few more episodes of Breaking Bad after Orlis goes to bed than I thought I’d have time for).  Those rolled right off the pen as I perused my week in review.

But then, I noticed a few more ideas flowing onto the journal pages that sunk a little deeper in my heart, as yet another reminder that things happen in their own good time.

1. I do love the feeling of being “held” so closely in the thoughts of so many people I love and who love me.  I’m reminded of this via text, voicemail, email, and phone call by many good people each day.  There’s a lift I feel in this, like being suspended in the air on a big balloon.  This feeling is so so very rich.  I wish I could bottle it.

2. I am grateful for the opportunity to feel more empathy for the way this end-of-pregnancy period affects, I would guess, most women both physically and mentally.  Having had Orlis at 38 weeks, I didn’t go through this last time, and I am appreciative of the experience this time around — specifically being with the not knowing; being so physically uncomfortable and also being with the gradual nature of birth; feeling pressure of all kinds.  It’s its own special psychology, and knowing how universal it is makes me feel bonded, in some small way, to women everywhere, and from the beginning of time.

3. I’m glad to be learning, by happenstance, the way I think the other half lives.  Which is to say — without so many simultaneous projects and lists and to-dos going all of the time.  A week with not much planned at all and few goals — this is foreign to me.  I wouldn’t want it all the time, but I’ll admit, I like it right now.





these days (waiting)

These days…oh, these days.  I am waking early and noticing, “hmmm…still pregnant.”  These days are those strange and sacred ones during which I inch so humbly close to an elusive “due date” knowing, at any moment we’ll begin.  It’s these days that are, I think universally, a challenge for many of us going through this rite of passage.  The psychology is odd — yearning for something that we know is likely to be a bigger challenge and also a bigger joy than any we’ve known and not knowing how or when it will start, but knowing it will…it will…at just the time it should.  It’s a peculiar place to sit for days on end.

Dearest friends and family are checking in, daily some of them, wondering if I feel anything.  (ha!  ”yes.”  I tell them.  ”I’m feeling every move my body makes with the most acute awareness.  Who needs meditation practice when I have this waiting game on which to feast my every sense?”)  Other dearest are, I think, deliberately not checking in, but I know the pins and needles on which they sit.  There is just nothing quite like this anticipation.

Well, what are we doing with ourselves while we wait, you might be wondering?


*Playing with the neighbors.  The youngest among us donning our bicycle helmets and going belly-forth on the skateboard.  (The maternal among us holding her heart and breath with every such endeavor.)


*Checking and double checking the birth supplies we’ve organized.  Appreciating how many of the things that are gathered in these baskets are homemade and handed-down and otherwise used and loved so well already.  What better to wrap up a new baby in than an already beloved blanket that holds some legacy and embedded warmth?


*Making birth art.  Toddler-style and mama-style.  Loving the way watercolors work and move together.


*Fixing, fixing, fixing.  Using our tools as much as we can.


*Ah!  Enjoying bringing in the bits of spring that so abundantly grace our out-of-doors.  And loving the streaming sunlight too.




*Beginning, at friends’ insistence, some sewing projects that I know won’t get finished for awhile.  Being okay with the idea of a long, unfinished project.  Loving the challenge of sewing projects that are well beyond my skill level (and the knowledge, too, that my mama is coming soon and will know how to help me).


*Appreciating the thoughtful things I was mandated to include in the Mama Birth Supply Basket by the midwives.  Oh, those midwives have mamas in mind all the time.  I am so grateful for that.


*Staring dumbfounded by the amazing versatility of sticks.  All day long we pick up sticks.  I had no idea they were so very much fun.


*Applying bandaids where we have no ouchies and wearing them like costumes.  Because what is more fun than bandaids to a 2.5 year old?  (And what is a better lesson for this mama than embracing and loving our scratches, bruises, and scars?)


*Employing every natural induction method I can think of ….acupuncture, pineapple, wild dance parties.  And doing as I’m told and making my way to Portland’s Mount Tabor Park (affectionately nicknamed Mount Labor Park to those in my situation) to walk the stairs.


*Bringing my sidekick with me.statues

*Imitating statues together and having a good giggle.


*And doing my very best to cherish this precious table for three — with hearty meals and silly moments and a bushel of lilac from our generous yard out back.  We are in the business of falling in love here, I remind myself.  And we don’t ever really get to know the precise moment that will happen.











This baby-in-utero has not, as of yet, sprung forth, but in the meanwhile, spring has.  And oh, in such glorious ways.  I’ll take it — all of it.

I’ll take these friendly and most perfect blossoms outside my window in the morning, and I welcome, wholeheartedly, the sun, yes Oregon sun, that pours in, rendering my own home almost unrecognizable.  (Did someone accidentally leave the lights on last night?  Oh, no, that’s the morning sun.)

I’ll certainly take the blue skies that beckon us, Orlis and I, outdoors to sit quietly together and make tools with sticks and rocks and mud and fallen dead blossoms.  We can spend hours “fixing” the steps to our driveway and “washing” them with rock “soap” and brown, wilting petal “washcloths” and I’m floored by the way this enchants him.   I see the imagination of my 2 and 1/2 year old exploding with the simplest of found-object “toys” and I’m so grateful to have stood my ground about keeping things relatively spare and simple in the toy department, even when it makes me unpopular with some well-intentioned gift-givers in our lives.  Because nothing, truly, could be more engaging and engrossing than the mud on our shoes and the way spring, in particular, has offered us a little something new each day with which to make our world.  I don’t always love getting my hands dirty but I adore seeing a little brain believe so wholeheartedly in the stories he creates.

And, I see nature offering me some very timely reminders that good things do happen in their own, sweet time.  The faces of flowers emerge just when they are ready, and then, I notice, open so very wide I am amazed by their vulnerability; their unabashed showing of their true natures.  These things, these offerings are not only metaphors for what’s to happen in our home in the coming hours, days, maybe weeks…but also simple gifts in their own right.  Nature knows just what to do.


mama-made quilt for baby #2

Oh, baby baby baby #2 — we are ready now!  Your very own, mama-made quilt awaits you. (It’s not true.  We aren’t ready. We have birth supplies to gather, lasagnas to make, and cupboards to organize.  Not to mention, you have some more cookin’ to do….) But in the your-quilt-is-ready-for-you way, we are ready.  Oh, and not to brag, but I’m just thrilled with how this one turned out and I had so much fun making it.

It all starts with some piles…like these…

…that get honed down and organized and cut up into this…

and then a most beloved Aunt comes for a visit and late into the night she eats all your chocolate-pecan turtles and drinks all the wine you aren’t allowed to have and sits and talks to you.  And while you cut and iron and make crucial color decisions, the two of you dissect all the important topics — death and dying, and parenting, and being easy on ourselves as women and as moms, and how to keep kids off drugs, and good books, and the intricacies of family, until eventually, those piles of fabric becomes this:

and this….

Oh, homemade quilts.  Their very time and cost ineffectiveness is part of what I love most about making them — they can only be a labor of love.  I do believe some things should always remain only a labor a love.  And love indeed — right here in every stitch of these lovely fabrics.  Love in the color hues and love in the mistakes (please don’t study this quilt with a magnifying glass.)  I can’t wait to get a baby on there — preferably mine!

For those of you who are interested in the details, I hunted around on Pinterest for months, searching for the right quilt pattern for this baby — something that said, “I’m numero dos and look what a cool quilt I got.”  (there are some benefits to being 2nd born.)  Finally I found this fun Sparkle Quilt quilt-along and knew it was the one.  Even more fun — I got to decide everything about it — the size, the colors, the number of blocks, and whether or not to include some “negative space” — which you can see in the photo at the top, I did.  Not to mention, I did something I had never tried before — I totally winged it on the backside, starting with one sparkle block and then building around it with scraps I had laying around, just like in the olden days, until it was the right size.  It’s make-shift and haphazard and full of pieces that might not exactly go together, just like parenting.

Front and back and imperfectly aligned, I love it.  Just like I love this growing babe.  Upon receiving the quilt back from my right-hand quilting gal in Colorado, I sewed up the binding and brought her outside last week for a dose of fresh air on the front porch.  I like to think she received a dose of good energy from the spring greenery just starting to show itself, and also, perhaps, a sense of her true purpose — to keep the most important people warm and cozy — with every stitch of her being.  Come to think of it, that might be my true purpose too.



other people’s knits

At least once a week a stranger or even a friend asks me, “did you knit that?” about some item of clothing or accessory wrapped around me or my child.  And the answer I give is always the same, “no.  I don’t knit.”  I don’t knit, and that seems to surprise everyone who knows me. It even surprises me.  I love yarn, I love yarn stores, and I LOVE knitted things, but I don’t knit.

Of late I have been mindful of how very much I adore and appreciate other people’s knitting.  At any given moment, especially in this season, I find that both Orlis and I are both sufficiently decked out in 2 or three knitted gifts from beloved folks.  We have both been the lucky recipients of many-a-knitted gift and they are, most often, among my most favored possessions, from washcloths to diaper covers to arm and leg warmers.  The image of two needles busily clacking away to make something warm for one to wear and wear out is so very sweet to me, and my sense of these gifts is that they keep you warmer than anything ever could that was made by a machine.  So it is, with the heat created by two loving, working hands.

Several months ago, we had the delicious good fortune of happening upon a cardboard box of knitted baby and toddler things made lovingly by hand by the late Diana Spinelli — the woman who would be Orlis’ Great step-grandmother.  Diana was such a prolific knitter in her day that she toiled away on sweaters, hats, and full layettes for grandchildren and great-grandchildren she knew she’d never live to see.  Alas, the homemade “look” (and perhaps bright pastels) are not everyone’s favorite, so when Orlis and I found a whole box of these never-claimed and never-worn items, we had our pick-of-the-litter.

While anything hand-knit is a delight for me to receive, I do have a particular penchant towards those things made with 100% wool.  I know enough to know that most seasoned knitters prefer working with wool, and as a mom, I am a complete convert to this lustrous, magical texture.  It’s temperature-regulating capabilities are, indeed, mysteriously supernatural, and the feel and look is especially alluring.  But, what turns many people off to the good wooly stuff is exactly what I’ve come to love most about it — the need to hand wash.

Using a small amount our special soap, this once-a-month-or-so ritual has become a very favorite in our house.  The simple delights of gathering the woolen things from around the house into a basket, the warm soapy water, and working away gently at these items one at a time, before squeezing out the moisture and hanging them over the bathtub to dry — they feed our senses and our needs for both slowness and anything that resembles a nice, warm bath on a chilly afternoon.

Oh, I am so happy that other people knit.

P.s.  I updated the books on the sidebar.  Lots of new word-and-picture inspiration swimming around this house.  Check ‘em out.