Tuesday, April 30, 2013

spring awakenings and brotherly sweetness

The weather has yo-yo'd back and forth between warm and cold the past several weeks, but it feels like we've finally perhaps settled on warmer weather to stay (at least for a while). And it looks like the local flora is taking the same bet that spring is here to stay, as everywhere I look I'm seeing little green buds of leaves emerging and even a few trees already exploding in blossoms. Spring promises to be pretty amazing.

Sweet little church I drive past every day. Hello, beautiful blooms. Love.

Unfortunately, my guys haven't been feeling all that well so we didn't get to enjoy the gorgeous weather today. Driving home after getting D from school today I eyed the playground enviously, while steering my droopy-eyed boys home where they spent the rest of the afternoon snuggled up on the couch, resting up watching a movie. D had laid himself all the way across the couch, then Q came up and laid himself alongside him (and nearly on top of him, as there isn't that much space even for such little guys). I thought Q was bothering D so I was trying to get them to negotiate how to share the space, when D said, "It's ok Mom, I don't mind him lying down with me." They stayed like that for a while, and it was such a sweet sight, especially after the weekend. I'm grateful for my boys, and despite the occasional squabbles I know they're grateful for each other.

My poor guys, not feeling well, snuggling on the couch watching a movie.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

like a dagger through the heart

Today was, by most accounts, a pretty great day. It was sunny and warm- I wore a skirt for the first time this season (Quinn seemed confused by this, came up to me and asked "What's on your legs??" I guess it's rare to see me not wearing jeans). I dried Q's diapers out in the sun beside of our house (conserving energy and classy-ing up the neighborhood at the same time, y'all). D and I had a mini picnic lunch and snuggled in the sunshine out front before going to one of the two birthday parties of the afternoon. It was his first "drop-off" party, which itself feels like a bit of a milestone, and while the house was a bit of a drive away the drive was gorgeously scenic and left me falling in love with New Hampshire all over again.

Oh you know, just another little farmhouse with a vintage tractor sitting out front. NBD.
Seriously, how adorably rustic is this?
I love these cute little New England homes.

It was a day filled with friends and sun and good times, and yet even these great days can be exhausting. And so by bedtime we were all fairly worn out and on short fuses (or at least the boys and I were, Zach seemed fine). There was a fight to get D in the tub, and of course once in he remembered that baths are awesome, and then Q screamed and cried and it took several minutes to realize he just wanted his truck (the one very specific truck, of course) because when he's upset he loses all ability to speak coherently and resorts to hysterical, high-pitched screeching.

It was about then that D informed me that it had been a bad idea to have two kids, two kids is too hard and we should have just had one kid because that's easier and then he'd have plenty of time to spend with just me, and two kids was just a bad idea. And, well, I guess I've been wondering when this would show up. D has been so amazingly patient with Q and the way his world got turned completely upside down when Q entered the picture, and I've wondered if, when, and how that resentment would surface. He didn't seem that upset when he said it tonight, but he did say it and I know he honestly feels it, at least some of the time. Which is entirely fair on his part, really-- having a younger sibling can be a total pain in the ass sometimes. One of the hardest things for me about having two kids is constantly feeling torn between their different needs, different stages of development and independence that call for such different things sometimes (and oh so often at the same exact time), feeling like I'm often neglecting one for the sake of the other.  That's gotten so much better as they've both gotten older and thus more independent, and slightly better able to wait for things...but it's still there and I guess to some degree it may always be.

They were also much more interested in tackling each other than kicking the ball....
Tackling each other while watching the soccer games yesterday.
Pausing for a snack while digging for worms.
Digging for worms (and snacks)
When we sit down to eat D almost always asks me to sit down right next to him. A couple weeks ago he again requested I sit with him at lunch, and then he said to me, "Mom, the reason I like you to sit with me at dinner, breakfast, and lunch is because I get to spend time with you, because I don't get much time with just me and you." Oh ouch.

I know that D loves his brother. I know how much they enjoy playing together. I know (or at least hope) that they will grow up to have the sort of relationship and appreciation for each other that Zach and I enjoy with our own siblings. And yes, I even know that my standards for parenting in this modern age are higher than those for almost every other generation before us, that I probably spend more "quality time" with each of my boys than has been the "norm" for most families over time and so I shouldn't feel guilty, etc etc etc.

I know all of that, and yet it still feels like a dagger through the heart when I hear my son say those things.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

budding, 2.0

We have these bushes that surround our porch that are, well, ok I'll just say it, they're ugly. They'll get better as they get some green on them, but for now they're still mostly just brown and dried out and blah. So it's pretty cool to find a way to get some pretty pictures out of them.  

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I really like this last one...

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

just playing...

Just some more recent photos with my macro lens (I sneaked these in while the boys were busy playing with their cars one morning last week).  I realize composition and focus on these are far from great, but I liked the shapes in them anyway and then I played around with saturation, white balance, and split toning and I really love the end effect.

(this first one is sooc, as a comparison. it was really pretty early morning light)
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With these I took the white balance sliders made the images much cooler, adding in some split toning on the darks and a vignette... and came out with these gorgeous violet-y tones that I can't quite get over. 
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I think this one's my favorite of the bunch:

Monday, April 22, 2013

lecture link, spring break, and asw

Remember how I mentioned going to that lecture by Anne-Marie Slaughter a couple weeks ago? I finally wrote about it, over at the Tuck blog. So feel free to go read my post, or just skip on over to YouTube and watch the lecture in its entirety (about 1hour).

In other news, last week was kind of a big one. D was home on spring break all week, and I kinda feared it would be like how his winter break week went (where he and Q spent most of the week fighting at home bc it was too cold to go outside and the other indoor playspaces in the area were overrun with other kids also home from school). Thankfully, the weather cooperated and so we spent lots of time playing outside, and playing with friends both indoors and out, and having a pretty nice time of it all. Zach was also home thanks to a temporarily light class schedule, so that was an additional bonus.

And then came the weekend, which was this year's Admitted Students Weekend here at Tuck. Zach and I came for our ASW last year and it was kind of huge for me. That trip was a turning point, where I went from feeling mostly anxiety and dread over the whole going-back-to-school thing to feeling genuinely excited about this next chapter of our lives. This year we're on the other side of things, and I wanted to help out however I could. Zach and I attended the Diversity Breakfast Saturday morning, I helped out a little in one of the Partner panels (our panel for families got canceled, which was a bit of a bummer), and in the afternoon I lead a tour of our graduate student housing community and helped answer some questions. It was a long day, but fun and exciting.

It's a little weird to see the Class of 2015 banner up already...

Picked up my TP shirt & button for #TuckASW2013 this weekend. Woot!
We got t-shirts! =)

After a full week and weekend, it felt a little odd to get back to our usual routine this morning, of having to wake up and get D ready for school, and drop him and Zach off, etc. But, it's also nice to get back to "normal."

Sunday, April 21, 2013

six word sunday: melting into those big brown eyes.


Over the years people have often commented on Donovan's eyes-- what big brown eyes he has, how they're just like mine. Which I take as a big compliment. I never used to think much of my eyes, I thought brown eyes were boring and not nearly as pretty or interesting as grey or green or blue ones. But then D was born, and I've been enchanted by his eyes ever since. 

One incredibly fascinating part of having children is seeing your traits passed on to them (both physical and personality quirks/habits). I feel like it is such an honor to see some of my features manifested in my kids, and I know it's just genetics but it feels almost as if these certain aspects of myself were chosen as worthy to be passed onto these incredible and amazing beings, which itself feels pretty incredible (it's also really interesting to see aspects of my personality emerge in D as he gets older, though my feelings about that are a bit more mixed...). I never expected that having children and falling so deeply in love with them and their features, would lead me to appreciate some of my own traits more.

Friday, April 19, 2013


The planets aligned the other day when Zach came home from school just in time for me to run out and snap a few photos of the tiny buds emerging on plants and trees around the neighborhood while the light was really gorgeous. It's been a while since I played around much with macros, I'd forgotten how fun that can be (even with the wind messing with me). 

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Thursday, April 18, 2013

triumphs and failures in feminist parenting

I've been feeling like a bit of a failure as a feminist parent lately. Over the past few weeks Donovan has been expressing some fairly sexist gender stereotypes. I know this is an age at which many kids become more aware of gender norms, and it feels like he's kind of "trying them on for size" and experimenting with these ideas, but even if I don't think he fully believes them yet it's still difficult to see him be so aware of them and scary to think of how strongly these messages are felt at such an early age.

A week or two ago he came home from school and told me about how he was playing this game with two other girls at school, where the girls were princesses and another kid was an evil king trying to attack them, so D became their "protector" and would fight off the king to keep the princesses safe. When I asked him about how maybe the princesses could also help fight off the king and protect themselves, he insisted that they couldn't, they needed him to save them, and they couldn't have the same sorts of superpowers he (as the protector) had. I don't know who decided on those "rules," if it was him or the girls or someone else, or if that was even how they played the game. In a way it's sweet that he wanted to help his friends, but this game also sounds like a perfect example of benevolent sexism.

He's also been saying things like that he doesn't like "pretty things" because he's a boy, and that when he grows up and has babies I will have to take care of them for him because he'll be too busy and taking care of babies is too boring or something. It's interesting to hear him say these things, since they don't actually reflect his behavior-- he has a favorite pair of pink pants, the snow boots he picked out himself (and loved wearing all winter) have pink and purple flowers all over them, and just yesterday we needed a bookmark for his robot book and he picked one that is sparkly, glittery, and pastel-colored (and very pretty). As for babies, he loves hanging out with the babies we know and often tells me how good he is at taking care of them and wants to help babysit them. So it does feel like more than anything, he's hearing these things and experimenting with what they mean and how they feel to him but hasn't internalized them (...yet).

The one that really shook me was this morning, when he was telling me about his Lego monster trucks and he said that no women can drive his trucks because the trucks are too rough, only men can drive them. He really argued back with me on it, too, which is what got to me-- he sounded pretty adamant about this.  A few minutes after our conversation (while I feeling like total crap for failing to shield my 5yo from such sexist notions) I suddenly remembered about Madusa, a female monster truck driver, so I called him over to the computer and showed him pictures and a video of her. We also looked up a list on wikipedia of women nascar drivers, and later on watched this video on women truckers (thanks, Melanie!). He conceded that yes, there are some tough women drivers and they would be allowed to drive his lego trucks.

This whole thing really highlighted for me the importance of having deliberate and specific conversations about gender norms and stereotypes (and about race, and class issues, and sexual preference, and gender identity, and fatphobia, etc etc etc). And they need to start early, and be ongoing. He sees these prejudiced messages from friends at school, from TV shows (as even the "good ones" have problematic images and assumptions), from posters and magazine covers in the grocery stores, messages that most of us as adults are so used to that we don't even notice them but they're there and influencing our kids. I'm guessing D got this idea about only men being "tough enough" to drive his trucks from the fact that the shows he watches featuring big trucks and fancy cars all have only men in them. It's my job to help him become aware of those biases, to question them and realize how unfair they are, before they take root in his mind. It feels like an uphill battle, my influence feeling small and insignificant against all these other sources. Honestly, I felt pretty defeated this morning. But I also feel like I broadened his view a bit, which felt like a small triumph.  I'm trying to keep my eye on the forrest and not get bogged down by a few trees, and hope that my efforts will make a difference in the long run.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

I don't understand New England weather

Today we were outside playing with snow in short-sleeve t-shirts.  The forecast says we might get more snow showers tonight and tomorrow.  I... yeah I don't know. I thought Texas had ridiculous weather fluctuations, but I think this takes the cake.

And now they're playing with snow while wearing t-shirts. I don't understand this weather at all. #newenglandisweird "And the snowman went KABLOOIE!"
Even the (rapidly-melting) snowman his arms up in confusion.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Aaaaand then this.

The view outside my window. That sound you hear is me quietly weeping.

The weather just a few days ago-- warm, sunny, amazing.  Today: well, I walked outside this morning to take the trash out and nearly slipped on the ice at the edge of our porch. Then it sleeted all afternoon, enough to accumulate into a good inch or two of slushy ice on the ground. 

Whatever. The sun and warmth will return soon enough. Despite the miserable weather, we had a pretty good day-- Zach took the boys this morning, dropping D off at school and taking Q to gymnastics class so I had a couple hours to myself to waste online do a few chores and catch up on some stuff. In the afternoon we had a fairly successful playdate with couple  of our neighbors.  D's going through this thing where sometimes when he plays with his friends he'll get really amped up and then get into this obstinate, rebellious mood where he pushes back on anything I say and will refuse to even stop and look at/listen to me if I try to tell him something. Yesterday he was playing with a few buddies after school and this mood hit and meant we had to leave early. Today it started up when his friend got here, but I pulled him aside and we talked for a minute in a different room (I think the privacy helped) and thankfully he was able to calm down and have a great time playing after that. It's a little disarming to see just how ANGRY he can get at me over seemingly little things (which are, of course, not at all little to him). But, also encouraging to find ways to work through it without digging ourselves into an un-win-able power struggle (at least, that worked this one time).

On an almost-completely unrelated note, David Vienna (one of my favorite internet dads) wrote a guest post on How To Be A Dad about his experience of not falling head-over-heels for his twin boys right when they were born, which is I think a pretty common thing but one that's not talked about openly very much.  I had pretty much the same experience when D was born-- I felt an immediate and fierce need to protect him and take care of him as best I could, but that overwhelming mama-bear LOVE that everyone talks about didn't come till he was a few months old.  So, for other parents who may have experienced something similar, it's worth a read to remind you you're not alone. 

Also, there's a picture at the end of David sleeping snuggled with his newborn boys which is quite swoon-worthy. (I'm sure this is an evolutionary thing related to wanting to propagate the species and all, but pictures of guys snuggling their baby/ies = totally irresistible. Just saying)

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

seize the sunshine

People say that living in a climate like this one makes you appreciate warm weather that much more. Honestly, I'm not sure how true that is-- I really appreciated our near-perfect weather in California, too. HOWEVER, what IS true is that in CA you know you'll have many days of amazing weather so if you let a few slip by without spending time outside it's not that big a deal. Here, I definitely feel much more of an urgency to sieze the sunshine and get out when it's nice.  And so, we spent much of the past 2 afternoons outside, enjoying the sunshine and that incredible feeling of being able to step outside without a jacket and not immediately freeze to death.

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(what these pictures don't show-- the bazillion other kids who were also outside playing at the playground or riding their bikes, etc. Everyone's coming out of hibernation)

Sunday, April 07, 2013

six word sunday: Hanging out with the four amigos.


Solo parenting weekend went smoothly, in part thanks to spending a good bit of time hanging out with these guys. Favorite tidbit: apparently Ethan & Donovan hatched a plan that when they're older they'll get married and be ninjas together. Awesome.

Thursday, April 04, 2013

feminists and bike rides

One of the cool things about being involved (if by proxy/marriage) to a prominent college is getting to take advantage of some of the events that happen on campus. Last fall I took D with me to see Vice-President Joe Biden speak at Dartmouth, and yesterday Tuck's Women in Business club hosted Anne-Marie Slaughter (author of this now imfamous article, among many other things) for a public lecture followed by a private reception for just Tuck students, faculty, and staff. Getting there was a bit of an ordeal-- Zach realized two days prior that he had a class that conflicted with the lecture, and the irony of the situation was not lost on me as I scrambled trying to find childcare so I could attend a lecture on mothers/families trying to "have it all.") But, help came through and I managed to wedge a tiny spot for myself in that packed auditorium, and even be there for the Q&A during the reception afterwards. It was a pretty neat experience and I have as lot of thoughts about what she said, and I'm letting them marinate for a bit before deciding what and how I may want to write about them.

Private reception for Tuck students/faculty/staff.

Yesterday was a day of running around and stressing a bit and trying to make sure to fit everything in. Today, in contrast, was really chill. Zach didn't have classes today, so he was home all morning and part of the afternoon (before leaving town for a school project). I had a slowish morning to myself while he took over parenting duties for a bit. The boys and I spent most of the afternoon outdoors, enjoying the sunshine and very welcome milder weather. My good friend Jeremy came over and we went for a nice stroll outside with our younger kiddoes -- Quinn has made another developmental leap and has mostly figured out how to ride D's old 12" bike (with training wheels-- poor kid is the only toddler here who doesn't have his own Strider) so we mainly followed him along as he rode. Then Q and I dashed to pick D up from school, and spent the next couple hours playing out front with Ren next door. They had a grand time getting back into doing dirt races with their cars under their favorite tree and playing with sticks and twigs.

Little dude on the move It's this time of year again... Three boys and their sticks.

I've got a few days of solo parenting ahead so here's hoping the nice weather sticks around so we can spend a lot of our time outdoors...

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

interesting perspectives

So I joined a photography blog circle. The way it works is once a month we all post a photo on a pre-chosen theme, and link up to each other. This month's theme was "interesting perspectives." I don't think I did it justice at all, but no matter. My cats get very little photo love these days so I suppose in a way it's only fair to feature them every once in a blue moon.

By the way Nev lost her collar yesterday (again). I keep having to do triple- and double-takes to make sure it really is her rather than the other black cat in the neighborhood. And then I feel like a crap pet owner for having such a hard time recognizing my own cat.  Nev has been much happier lately, now that it's warming up and she's able to spend more than 2 minutes outside without freezing her little paws off. And Sierra is happy because Nev doesn't beat up on her as much when she gets to spend time outside.


Now if you have a moment go check out Terin, the next lovely photographer/blogger in the circle.


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