350/365: Her Skills Are Complete

IMG_2088Iris is a stacking jedi.

A few days ago, I came downstairs to find her beloved stacking cups organized by color (an orange tower and a blue tower, to be precise), and today she pulled out a bunch of canisters from the baking cabinet and stacked them while I made cookies. (She wanted me to join her part way through, so I helped her with the stacking cup towers on the left, but the right two are 100% hers).

My work output is slightly less distinguished these days, although I did mop the kitchen and pack my bag for the hospital today. My more experienced friends tell me it’s normal to have a lot more warm-up contractions the second time around, but that doesn’t make it suck less. I feel like I’m living in some sort of early labor twilight zone. I have lots of little contractions all the time—a couple every hour—and then a few times every day I get the really serious, painful ones too. Fantastic.

The energy bubble has also burst.

We’ve been watching a lot of Curious George cartoons and hanging out in our fan fort. (Best Pinterest pin ever BTW: I bring the fan to our bed and hold one side of the top sheet over it so the sheet bubbles right up and creates the perfect, sheety hideout. Iris LOVES it. She loves playing inside the fort, and she loves jumping on it from the outside too. And I get to just lay on the bed with a fan blowing on me, so basically the best game ever).

I guess there are worse ways to spend the last days of August.



347/365: Building Blocks

IMG_2019We are finally, two years after moving in, finding a decorative scheme for our bedroom. Carl put up two shelves last week (our first anything on the walls in there), and when we were in GR visiting family over the hols we spent an afternoon doing some serious antiquing to see if we could find just the right pieces to fill in the gaps on the shelves. Carl found a 1950s camera, and I fell in love with this block.

It’s funny the things you love at first sight.

I love the way the paint has worn off all the edges. I love the scars and nicks. I love that it’s a C (there were no other blocks from the set for sale. Just the C). And I love the color.

I also bought a set of four bowls, bright yellow with just a hint of orange for depth. And suddenly I have the whole color scheme for the room finalized in my mind. We knew we needed an accent color. Something bold (because everything we buy is straight and understated and most of the walls are gray). Yellow is perfect. Now all we need are throw pillows with a punchy yellow somewhere in the pattern and some sort of art print for the remaining wall.

Feels good to finally have a plan.

And an outlet for all this nesting energy. Yesterday I spent the afternoon scrubbing all the grout in the bathroom tile with a toothbrush. I would take a shopping project over a toothbrush project ANY DAY.

(Finally, because she’s cute:)

IMG_2036It kind of blows me away that there is going to be a day when I think there’s another face JUST AS CUTE as this one, but I hear that happens when #2 actually appears. Life be cray.

345/365: Selfie Reflection

IMG_2005Been feeling the pull of these last days of August… last days of summer, last days of pregnancy, and—perhaps least momentously (but I am a junkie and will reflect on almost anything)—the last days of my 365 project.

I’ve always loved having a birthday in September. The start of school was exciting to me—learning was one of the few things I felt really good at as a kid, and there was the novelty of new workbooks and new pencils. (Never underestimate the cheering power of new writing supplies.) It’s been a long time since I started a new grade or academic program, but September 3rd is still my birthday and still the start of a new year and a new season to me. I got started on my 365 project a little late last year, but it’s given a special shape to this first year of my 30s, and I’m so glad I (mostly/kinda) stuck with it.

I’ve learned a little bit about our camera, about composition and lighting, and about our photo editing programs over the year, but I’ve learned about myself too. It’s been a busy year, and it kind of freaks me to realize that it’s only been twelve months I had a six-month-old baby who routinely woke up 4+ times a night, the remnants of some scary-bad depression, and a husband who had just graduated from using crutches. Now we have a bona fide toddler (who regularly sleeps through the night, thank God), Carl does home repair projects and chases Iris around the park without the trace of a limp, we’re days away from being a family of four, and I feel good.

When I first noticed the end of this project looming, it was tempting to see more of the negatives to be honest. I missed a lot of days everywhere, but I lost whole weeks in the winter when my first trimester hit and in the summer when I started writing fiction again. Not really a 365 project anymore, I thought. I had meant to be more creative too—to take photos that captured all the facets of our experience, private and public and out in nature. Of course, my creativity wavered even on the days I was disciplined enough to pull out the camera, so mostly I have a lot of snapshots of Iris, a running catalogue of her life from six to eighteen months. And I’d meant to be more disciplined about learning our camera and the editing software, but I still have to squint to remember what ISO means, and Lightroom still overwhelms me.

Eh. The self-criticism can go.

I’m so glad I did it. I know these pictures so well now, and what other year of my life can I remember in so much detail? The days and moments and snack time messiness all worked together to give special shape to my 30th year. I’ll remember this year.

And I DID learn a lot. I learned what kinds of pictures I like and why I like pictures to begin with (memory and reflection, but if you know me then you probably knew that). I learned the bare bones of color correction and a few things about composition and the euphoria of seeing a great picture emerge out of a hundred indifferent ones.

It was fun.

Kind of addicting, actually… I’m already brainstorming a year long project to commemorate my 31st year. Something new, something creative, something to keep the mind and heart engaged and playing. We’ll see.

338/365: Vacation Begins!

Aug13 copyThe first day of our summer vacation, and we see no reason to break with a perfectly good Sunday morning tradition: egg sandwiches for us, double/double coffees, and a box of Timbits to share (Iris is iffy on the sharing).

We found out Carl would be getting an extra week of vacation every year this past July (his PTO schedule rolls over in July) and immediately decided to take a random week off in August—our first official staycation—for very important reasons like:

  1. It’s still summer
  2. To enjoy these last few days as a family of three
  3. We have a ton of little home projects we’ve been wanting to do
  4. We all sleep better in our own beds
  5. Travel is expensive and (with a toddler) kind of exhausting
  6. Family naps!
  7. To explore our own part of the world
  8. We had an untapped season of Parks and Rec for after Iris went to bed

It was a great week, so successful we’re pretty sure it will be a regular feature in the yearly calendar. We had amazing Cuban food in Ann Arbor one night while Iris stayed home with our favorite sitter; we went antiquing; Carl put up some new shelves in our bedroom; we cleaned and reorganized the house; we checked out a local water park; we spent time with family; we took a lot of naps and did a lot of talking.

It was a great week.

But I didn’t take a single picture after that first day. Here are a few snaps Carl took:


Fries and shake, Cuban-style! (The shake was coconut—and the best I’ve ever had. They also make them with a splash of rum for those not pregnant. Maybe next time)

IMG_1923Swimming at Grandpa and Grandma’s in GR

Aug17Loving the bounce castle at her cousins’ birthday party

Aug19Daddy/daughter outing to Petsmart

Hope you’re able to find a little space to soak up the end of summer too, whatever you may be doing and wherever you may be.

331/365: Summertime

Aug6The living’s not bad when you’re a year and a half old. True, you have several meltdowns over the limited number of helpings of whipped topping per pancake. But your days are not all thorns and thistles. There are a lot of perks too, like strolling down to the gas station for slushies and M&Ms on hot afternoons and getting to drift off to sleep whenever the mood strikes.

There are pros and cons to every job.

Iris seems to be doing ok with hers.



329/365: Flour Feet

Aug4 copyIris continues to work on her cooking skills. We stopped using pancake mix recently and have been experimenting with a couple of different recipes—buttermilk and non—in our attempt to find the perfect, easy, fast pancake batter.

She likes to help dump the ingredients into the bowl.

… And on herself. Sometimes it’s just easier to take her outside and brush the flour off there. This cute little footprint stayed on our back porch for a couple of days until the rain washed it away.