Sunday, November 17, 2013

1-Year Old Barrow

Birthday Boy

Dear Barrow,

Happy first birthday, my sweet love! It's hard to believe that just a year ago your daddy and I were on our way to the hospital, debating whether you would be born on the 16th or 17th (naturally you arrived within minutes of getting to the hospital, joining us on the 16th with time to spare). And now, here it is, November 2013 and we have a 1-year old on our hands!

You are such a joy, Bear! You laugh easily and often, showing off your dimple and beautiful blue eyes. You squint with your nose when you really want to show how happy you are, and throw your body up and down. You love giving high 5s, playing peekaboo, and food. Your sister is your favorite person in the whole universe. She dotes on you endlessly, holding your hand as we walk, bringing you toys to stop you from crying, and huging you as hard and frequently as we let her.

You sleep twice a day, for about two hours in the morning and three in the afternoon. You love being held by your mamma, and laugh joyfully whenever your dad gives you kisses with his beard. You are fairly consistently sleeping through the night, and when you wake up it takes a while to settle back to sleep. You took your first steps a couple of weeks ago, but still prefer to hold on and cruise around the apartment rather than risk falling down. But you can't wait to run.

You don't yet have any words, though I'm fairly sure you make a "mmmmm" sound when you want to say "mamma." You have just started to discover the joys of reading (including 'Peek-a-Who?' and 'Global Babies'), and your soothie and lovie. After we eat dinner, before bath, you and Alice play under the dinning room table while Dad and I clean up.

We are thrilled to get rid of your bottles and expensive formula, and just feed you what we eat. We call you Bear, and Bear-Bear. Alice calls you Cheeky.

We love you so, so much, sweet Bear. You bring such balance to our home. Your charming blue eyes, gorgeous dimple, and endearingly bright smile add a lightness to our family, and we're so grateful for it.

I love you, your sister and your daddy more than anything ever.


Saturday, October 12, 2013


Tonight, I was stroking Alice's hair, arms and chest as she lay in bed -- the last step in our bedtime routine. Just as I was about to leave, she asked if I would continue for one more minute. 

A: "Mom, will you rub my heart for one more minute?"

M: "Sure Goose."

A: "G'G lives there. In my heart. Because she died. I miss her."

M: "I miss her too."

A: "She was nice. Why did she die?"

M: "Well, her body was old and she was sicky."

A: "Wouldn't it be sad if Angie and Stephen died?"

M: "Yes. But Angie and Stephen are young and healthy and they probably won't die soon."

A: Seemingly happy with this. "When we get old and sicky, we are going to die."

M: "......"

A: "Remember how G'G got me my pink phone and keys? That was nice."

M: "I love you, Alice."

A: "I love you, Mommy."

Wednesday, October 2, 2013


I'm laying on the floor in the apartment, listening to the kids make noise in their room while catching up on Momastery. I'm realizing how peaceful and grounding this is. And feeling a little silly for it. 

But peace and relative quiet is a rare blessing. And I'll take it in whatever form it comes. 

As if to prove my point, Barrow is now crying...

Tuesday, October 1, 2013


When Alice was a baby, she wanted me to sing "Goodnight sweetheart" on repeat.  

Barrow's favorite song is "The Itsy Bitsy Spider." Calms him down immediately. 

Saturday, September 21, 2013


Things I Miss About Me

... so, as a follow-up to this "I like my kids" thing...

Here are some elements of my life that I hope I'll recover as the kids grow up:
* Quiet. I've been thinking a lot about this, as Michael and I debate whether or not to leave our apartment. It feels so loud where we live, right near a train. But, also, isn't life with young kids just inherently loud? I mean, Alice talks constantly. Barrow is laughing or crying a lot of the time. Their toys make SO MUCH NOISE. I'm looking forward to quiet, still mornings (if they ever exist again).

* Time for reflection. I found a journal of mine that I kept in my early 20s, where I wrote down quotes from books I had read, clips from magazines or newspapers, art. Flipping through those pages placed me back to my time in Greece in almost an instant. A time machine. I don't long for that stage in life, but I do hope one day there will be time for that level of commitment to inspiration, wherever it strikes.

* WORKING OUT. Nothing more to say about that, other than dear God I miss it.

* Romance. I miss that. Michael and I are really good CEOs of our household, and I couldn't ask for a better partner. I think we both long for more date nights, more time out with just the two of us, more time to talk about life beyond our apartment walls.

Some elements of life now for which I know I'll ache as they age:
* Alice insisting on closing the door for me every morning as I leave for work, yelling "LOVE YOU!" as I march down the stairs.

* Alice wanting to lay on the couch with me while I rub her hair and her back in the peace and quiet of the early morning.

* Barrow beaming when I go pick him up from his crib, thrilled to see me.

* Barrow, figuring out how one step goes in front of the other, how limbs work and why they are miraculous. Barrow being carefree and eager.

I Like My Kids

This week, I feel like I've been reminded just how much I actually like my kids. 

Since, during the work week, we're often dealing with them during their worst part of the day -- just before bed -- it can be easy to forget how much fun they can be. We're often just trying to shuttle them from the dinner table to bed, fighting the clock to make sure they are at least in their bedrooms before the epic meltdowns begin. But this week, we were together during other portions of the day -- our nanny called out sick on Tuesday, so I spent most of the day with them. We had a blast -- shopping for new clothes at Old Navy, buying Alice new shoes at our local kids shoe store, and spending the afternoon at the playground. And, Michael has been out of town at a conference for work since Wednesday, so it's just been our little trio since then. 

Both kids are really just lovely. Of course, they have their... challenging times. Alice has been mean to me from bathtime on every night this week. Barrow was up from 4 to 5:15 am crying relentlessly for no explicable reason ("I MISS MY DADDY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"). But, overall, they are just very happy, sweet little people. 

Alice is so curious and funny. The other night, she was telling me how one girl in her old playgroup was "a little rude, you know?" (with eyebrows crunched together). And so she just didn't like hanging out with her, "because we don't act that way." Barrow is just a happy-go-lucky kid, easy to make smile and laugh. He figured out how to clap yesterday, and is just SO PROUD of himself. It's adorable and such a reflection of his personality - awestruck by it all. I love it.

So, that's the beautiful news from the week: I like my kids.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013


Today, I'm in Bethesda for a conference. Last night I put the kids to bed, kissed Michael goodbye and boarded a train. We do this train ride often - from New York to DC. But this time was different.
It was quiet.
I love being a mamma. It's just the best thing ever. I love the hugs and kisses and, in all honesty, the neediness. I love being loved. I love caring for my family. I love giving to A, B and M, anticipating their needs and creating a happy home for them. That doesn't mean it isn't exhausting, and difficult, and hard. But it's the best.
That said, I guess I didn't realize how badly I needed this time alone. I have spent the entire day avoiding my work and spending as much time sitting quietly, taking care of myself, as possible. I went for a walk during our morning break. I walked around a strip mall during lunch, then sat with the Wall Street Journal and a sandwich before our next session began. As soon as the last session ended, I bolted for a yoga studio 15 minutes from the hotel and took a 90-minute hot, sweaty yoga class.
And it has been so, so good.
As soon as I entered the yoga studio, I felt myself ask, "Why is it so hard to find the time for this?" Why is it so hard for us to eek out time for ourselves, away from the family, without rushing from one thing to the next? The demands on our time these days far surpass the number of hours in a day. But that can't be an excuse. Because nothing in our situation is going to change in the next few years. We won't all the sudden have 30 hours in a day, or have a baby who can entertain himself. There is nothing in the equation of our demanding lives that will offer up a few hours a week to listen to our bodies and minds to give us the space to care for who we are.
I've had - and continue to have - all kinds of strategies and dreams in my head about how to make this happen. Michael and I could each have one night a week when we don't have to be home for dinner. We could trade off early mornings in the office, or at the gym. I could find some sort of Alice-and-me yoga class.
All these options are viable, but so hard to manage in the chaos of our lives. But I'm holding on to these resolutions, praying that we can find some time for both of us to have this space. I know Michael needs it as much as I do.

Friday, August 2, 2013


Minnie, Michael's grandmother, died this week. She was 86, and had been in poor health for a while. It was expected, and remains insanely sad. We are experiencing her death as a loss - not necessarily unjust, as she had lived a long and meaningful life, but her absence will be profound.

(Will be. I'm not yet willing to admit that it already is.)

Minnie and I clicked immediately. I've been thinking about why that was, why she was so good to me and why I loved her dearly. Why we were connected almost instantly? I think, above all, it was because she knew how much I loved her grandson.

Minnie loved to tell me about how, when Michael was little, he had beautiful, long eyelashes (which thankfully Alice inherited) and sweet blonde ringlets; how, at parties when other people wanted to hold him, she refused to share him. She loved him intensely and immediately.

We had a special goodbye. Michael and I were visiting with her. She, laying in her bed, was not completely coherent. She was saying something about our family, listing our names in a type of mantra. And then, as we were about to say goodbye, she had a moment of clarity and said to me, "It's been fun. Thank you. I love you." I gave her a series of kisses, because I didn't have it in me to say goodbye. And then I told her we loved her so much. And we left.

Since she's left us, I've been saying to her, "I'll take care of him. I'll take care of him. I'll take care of him."

I'll take care of him, Minnie. We love you. It has been fun.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Where We Are

Oh my little loves! My sweet Bear Bear, my sweet Goose! We had an amazing weekend - our first hiking trip as a family to Bear Mountain, sponsored in part by Grandma and Grandpa who are lending us their car for the month. We've been taking advantage - a trip to Bethlehem, to Bear Mountain, and next weekend to Rehoboth. It's been great having a so much quality family time, and we've all been happy about it.

Some things we want to remember about this time in our lives:

Alice, on our hike yesterday, Daddy taught you how to read the trail blazes. You immediately took charge. You said, "I'll be the leader, Daddy, and you can be the Helper Leader." You love to be a Baby Elephant. This can be exhausting, but it's important and healthy and all that goodness. You're still so good at being complementary, telling people how they have a pretty shirt or nice shoes. Today you told me, "Shoes don't make me beautiful. I make me beautiful." You adore merry-go-rounds.

Barrow, you are all smiles. All smiles. You are just a totally happy little man. You love your sweet sister, and can't stand to be alone. You are as happy as happy can be. You don't get nearly enough sleep, and can never get enough food. You literally jump up and down at the chance to eat something. Alice loves to make you laugh -- tonight at bedtime she rubbed her head into your belly to make you laugh over and over and over.

We love you both more than anything every!!


Friday, June 21, 2013

The Village

Here is what it is taking us to make it through this week:
- Michael
- Me
- Our Nanny
- My Mom
- Our Cleaning Lady
- Our Babysitter

The demands on our time are insane this week. Thankfully, we have a village of loved ones who can help. 

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Straight from Facebook

Today we went to the Bertrand Delacroix Gallery in Chelsea to see Frederico Infante's work, "Little Girl Red," inspired by our muse Alice. We had the good fortune of running into the artist himself, and he and the gallery staff were incredible. The painting is already sold and I'm so thankful we had the chance to see our girl immortalized in this way --- it was a really moving experience. What a life. 

Wednesday, June 5, 2013


Wake up at 5:30 because Barrow needs a new diaper and a snack. Cuddle and put the little one back in bed. Work until 7:15. Hop into the shower and clean myself up. Finish in the bathroom and discover Alice on the couch, waiting patiently to read a book, or have a snack, or cuddle. Prepare and serve breakfast for us. Barrow wakes and joins us, usually sitting on the kitchen floor. Michael usually gets ready as we dine. Pack up lunches and get dressed for work. Realize I played with the kids too long and stress about getting out the door. Kiss Barrow, Alice and Michael goodbye. Tell everyone to have a good day. Walk out the door, hearing Alice yell, "Have a good day, Mamma! Love you!"

Sunday, May 5, 2013


Last week, I decided to wean Barrow. I'm still tormented by this decision - Barrow seems to be allergic to something I've been eating, and since eliminating milk, soy and eggs didn't make his symptoms disappear, the doctors said it was time to let go. I question this decision at every feeding, and likely won't ever make peace with it. But one thing happened this week to help me begin to let go: I gifted my stockpile of frozen breast milk.

After experiencing the challenge of working with Alice and nursing her for a year, I was pretty aggressive at building up a store of frozen milk for Barrow before I went back to work. Consequently I had about 300 oz. frozen in our fridge.

All of which the doctor said I couldn't use for Barrow.

I couldn't bear to see that "liquid gold" go to waste, so I sent a post on one of our parent listserves offering up the supply to anyone who needed it. I doubted I would have any takers, but I was wrong. A woman who had a double mastectomy and is expecting a baby girl in June took my offer.

She came to our house on Tuesday night, excited to be picking up one of her first supplies for the baby. We were both nervous, not really sure of the protocol for this kind of exchange. And then, almost from out of nowhere, it was emotional and meaningful beyond words. She said thank you. I didn't know what to say. We hugged. She told us she would tell us when her baby arrives. I offered more, as I have more as we wean. And then - in a flurry - she left.

I've been so moved by this experience. The community of women. That this is how it should be - women helping women. The idea that another baby will be nourished from my body. That there are women who love their babies as much as I do who never have the chance to nurse. That I've been so lucky to take this for granted. That, in this day when charity is almost always removed from the people you want to help, to be in touch with someone so deeply. That, in a situation where you often feel so utterly helpless, you can actually help. It's been profound.

I'm so grateful.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Favorite Books

For a Newborn
  • Anything by Sandra Boynton
  • International Babies
  • Peek-a-Who?
For a 1-Year Old
  • Llama Llama, Red Pajama
  • Little Blue Truck
  • Bear Wants More
  • The Polar Express
For a 2-Year Old
  • Any Berenstein Bears
  • The House in the Night
  • Angelina Ballerina & the Princess
  • Miss Lina's Ballerinas

Monday, April 22, 2013

Decisions & Turmoil

Dear Sweet Barrow,
Oh my little man! Oh my big boy! How I love you!
You are five months old already. How does this happen so quickly? You have big, beautiful eyes - bright, steely blue, a color that is here to stay. You look like neither your father or me, but I often see your Uncle Henry. You've got a dimple on your left check. Genetic jackpot --- blue eyes and a lopsided dimple. You'll be irresistible. You already are.
You love your bouncy chair. You jump and screech and make happy sounds.
We're trying to make decisions about what to feed you, my little man. I want to keep breastfeeding, but it seems like you might be slightly allergic to something in my diet. Something that isn't milk or eggs or soy. We might keep heading down elimination diet alley, but the next steps seem very hard. No dairy, no eggs, no soy, no gluten. What's left?
But to switch to formula marks the end of something meaningful -- though, if I'm honest with myself -- something meaningful to me and not to you. Because we don't know if we will have another baby, if we stop breastfeeding now, it may mean my body is no longer meant to help my family grow. It may never have the chance to grow and feed a child again. And I'm surprised by how much that rocks me.
And the joy breastfeeding brings now... well, it's pretty big. I didn't love it at first, but now that it is not the one and only way you eat, now that I only nurse when I'm around -- it's a special time for you and me, when we get to be together.
But I don't want you to be uncomfortable or to suffer if there is something I can do to help you feel better. If formula will keep your tummy happier, shouldn't I just let it go?
We love you, sweet boy. Tonight, while I was cooking dinner, your sister was making crazy faces at you. She gives you big, silly smiles and ridiculous laughs. And you were laughing at her!! It was the first time that you've been driven to giggles without tickles. It felt like a family forming. Such joy.
I love you and your sister and your father more than anything ever.
Love you, my sweet Bear-Bear!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

I'm Sorry

... to my boss, for never being able to turn anything around as quickly as I would like. my employee, in whose honor I have not yet had time to organize a happy hour. my husband, who has seen me incredibly short-tempered these days. my daughter, for not getting more of my undivided attention, for putting her in front of the television much too often, for not being more patient and kind. my son, for eating some strange food that is making him gassy and intestinal, for letting him see a television before his first birthday, for not reading to him as much as I should or want. my friends, whom I haven't seen in ages, because I still feel so tied to the baby that I can't let anyone else do bedtime with him, and for being terribly self-centered, and for being totally delinquent. my mother, father, brother for not being in touch, really ever. myself, for continuing to be so critical, for not allowing myself to have some space, for never going to the gym or doing yoga or doing any of the fundamentals to keep me sane...

Tuesday, April 9, 2013


It was a big weekend for our little family. Alice celebrated her third birthday (!!!) and Barrow was baptized! Michael's parents and sister came up to visit, as did my mom and dad. We enjoyed the first real spring weekend of the season as a big family, savoring time with our sweet kids.
I took Friday off to spend the day with the kids, and my mom came up early to be with us. We went to the Bronx Botanical Gardens to see the Orchid Show and ride the tram around the gardens, which Alice loves to do. Then Dana, Marty, Kelsey, my dad, John & Naomi came to eat Chipotle and birthday cake and ice cream and open presents and watch a three year old go a little crazy with love.

On Saturday, Barrow was baptized at the Catholic Church on Morningside Drive near Columbia. It was a lovely day - sunny blue skies, highs in the 60s. The service was simple and kind - about loving, teaching and ... well, some other lesson I can't quite remember. But it was inclusive and exciting and even gave me chills when the priest lead our little community in a blessing for me. Friends and family came to our apartment after to enjoy some food and quality time together. It was one of those occasions when you take off your shoes the second you walk in the door, so comfortable are you with the people there to spend time together.

The weekend felt like a true embarrassment of riches. I am too blessed. My life is too full. My cup runneth over.