i almost called it off a hundred times. but i didn't. friday i hugged and kissed the kids goodbye, hopped on a plane and, 23 hours later, stepped into suvarnabhumi airport, bangkok, thailand. chip is here for a commercial shoot at the end of this week and i'm here because i needed a stamp in my passport. we've ridden on boats, subway, sky train, tuk tuks, motocycle taxis and elephants. we've eaten from the vendors and shopped the markets. we've inhaled the pollution and scents of unfamiliar spices. we've wandered a bit, gotten lost some and we have smiled a lot and been smiled at a lot.

tomorrow we head for the central plains, toward the end of the week i may take a solo day trip to an island just south and the weekend may take me up north. i love the flexibility of our days and the fact that we're still adjusting to the time, so that by 9am we've done a day's worth of adventuring.

i miss the kids. especially when i see entire families packed onto a scooter- toddlers squished between parents and bigger kids. but they are all in great hands.. and flying by myself was amazing. a good amount of sleeping and an embarassing amount of movies, none of which would have entertained the girls.


the ghosts of '09

just moments after pulling off their bat costumes last year, the girls decided that for the next halloween they wanted to be ghosts.. or witches.. or mermaids. when october rolled around there were several rounds of deliberation, but they finally, officially, decided on being ghosts. because in addition to being the one and only day of the year that the girls like the color black, it is also the one day they like to be "just a liiiittle tiny bit scary." i love their choices- so traditional, so simple, and so reminiscent of my own childhood. 

old sheets were pulled from the give-away pile, the edges cut and ripped, a hood made from excess sheeting was attached and a slit cut for the head to pop through. layer the hooded sheet over white shoes, white tights, white leotard, some sticky paint on their faces and we were ready to go. charlie's ghost costume was even simpler, taking no more than three minutes to put together. white leggings, white hooded sweatshirt, black circles around the eyes and a squarish piece of fabric with a hole cut out to put over his head.

watching the girls float among the brownstones, shouting a giddy "boo" at many fellow trick-or-treaters, and smiling in wonder as their buckets filled was wonderful. and watching charlie walk the streets with them, in his little ghost costume, getting ready to play peek-a-boo each time the girls tried to surprise with their shouts was insanely adorable. barely taller than people's knees, the little ghost smiled and laughed as he toddled alongside the adults and big kids. candy in hand and a dribble of chocolate running down his chin, he was so happy and so awesome.

after a few exciting blocks we made our way home, past the plaza, past the library, through the few drops of rain and into our little apartment where we washed faces, chose two (more) candies to eat, cozied together to watch a show and called it a good halloween night. 

the girls have been having some discussions about next year's costumes. a witch is the top of eve's list, but ruth is pulling hard for gingerbread (not a gingerbread man, or girl, just gingerbread..). they've got a year to hash it out. either way, i think we're starting in a good place.


++photos will (hopefully) be added/changed later today. after downloading all our pictures halloween night. i checked them, looked through them with the girls and went to sleep. next day i went to the computer and, poof! most of the pictures were gone forever. only a few remain that i downloaded. and, of course, since it seemed the download was successful, i wiped my memory card clean. bummer. here's hoping image recovery from the memory card works!


happy halloween

after a full school day of parading and partying on friday, our little ghosts are ready for another round. very very soon we will hit the streets of brooklyn, pumpkin buckets in hand, to load up on an obscene amount of candy that will be divvied up over the next six months.. or just tossed when no one's looking. the girls have been practicing their trick-or-treating approach and they've got it down. eve, taking her costume seriously, has very specific plans of how to startle and scare and surprise as many of the good people of brooklyn as she possibly can. a test round on a group of 5th graders hanging out on the street on our way home yesterday went very well. giggles trailed after her floating figure all the way to our building. ruth has no interest in scaring others, but she doesn't mind showing her ghost shoes. they may say "BOO" but when said in fancy gold metallic iron-on dots, well that's only going to make people happy, especially those little girls of the just days away from four-years-old variety. 

happy halloween!


dots from here. the service was so fast and, come on. iron-on metallic dots? too cool. any residual 10-year-old envy of my friend and her BeDazzler has been washed away. 

gymnast shoes from pearl river. a few reinforcing rounds through the sewing machine fixed eve's ripped seam and she was ready to go for a night on the town. also, be warned; they are slippers and and slippers aren't water proof. our ghosts had soggy feet at the end of the night. but throw enough candy at them and they don't even notice.




we cowered in the cold wind on the way home from school today. fall is here and winter is right around the corner. the coats will come out of storage this weekend and the shorts and sandals will be put back in their place. we will run outside for a bit and do some special preparations for upcoming programs and assignments. we will see where the wild things are. we will go to church and we will make soup (because soup makes the girls' hair golden.. a lie i told long ago to get them to eat up. a lie eve has never forgotten and a lie both she and ruth fully believe. i plan on a deathbed confession..). but mostly we will just be. at home, cozy on a blustery fall weekend. changing out our closets for the season, picking up toys, resting, snacking, looking and listening. 

+listening to this american life. honestly, does it get any better than this program? after years of listening, i just don't know how it could. the moth is pretty great too (if you live in new york, please go to a story slam at some point. really worth waiting in line for. some people have stories to share and share them very well. hey, wait! i went to link and found: chicago! detroit! you can go to story slams too! and LA, you've been able to for awhile!). 

+looking at this. have you seen this? after looking at the pictures watch the video linked under the article. beautiful and moving. people and the things they do are incredible. i want the royal de luxe to come to new york. i want to watch the big giant rise out of the east river and i want to, somehow, be one of those people grabbing the ropes to make that little giantess move. 

+listening to animal noises. anywhere we can find them. over and over and over and guessing who they belong to. the kids love it. charlie loves anything that sounds dangerous. and cows.  

+looking over and backing up our summer photos. this summer was lovely and i miss it. i normally don't say that about summer, but i'm saying it now. i miss the textures and colors and sounds of coastal oregon mornings, and i miss being the masters of our own schedules. but more i miss seeing little sandaled feet. even when, or maybe especially when, they're popping up during dinner. luckily, little feet in little boots kicking crunchy leaves on the way home from school are a pretty great replacement for now. 

here's to the weekend.




my 50mm lens broke. then one phone died while the other disappeared. two days later a water balloon burst all over (and killed) my one-month-old laptop. a water balloon. inside my home. i can really only blame myself, but still, there were a few days these past two weeks where i was pretty sure that life was against me. 

then the crisp fall wind came and blew in the anniversary of our wedding. nine years. (high-five, chip). last tuesday rolled around, chip surprise-took the day off work and pushed me out of the door to have a day of wandering all to myself. the city was wonderful and strange without my squad. i hardly knew what to do or how to interact with the city without kids.. or at the very least without the threat of an outrageous babysitting bill or looming pick-up time. but, i eventually figured it out. i wandered in soho and central park, i saw a movie at 5pm at the Paris (i was the youngest by 35 years, at least. maybe my favorite NY movie viewing experience to date.), i wandered down 5th avenue and grew even firmer in my deep love of brooklyn. chip and i met at balthazar for dinner, wandered to the east village for ice cream and another movie, then took a cab to the west village to stay the night at the jane*. all by ourselves. no kids calling our names in the night or "whispering" in our faces in the morning. it was a first ever and it was nice. and chip did it all. (big-time high-five, chip). the next morning i watched the hudson from our window and after leaving the hotel, chip took off to work while i slowly wandered home.

for a life that has seemed anything but carefree lately, it was the perfect gift. the break from everything, the time alone with chip and the happy reunion with the kids.. just right. 

and now we are back. back to schedules and volunteering and lunch-packing and scrambling to find the missing shoe and fundraising and playing and eating and meetings and eating (charlie is beastly hungry all the time lately) and trying our best to wrap it all up in pajamas, brushed teeth and a cup full of water before 8pm every night.. and i'm trying my best to approach all we have going on with the same happy attitude i approached my day of wandering. 



so it seemed right that when reuniting with my lonely sewing machine i turn to one of my favorite japanese craft books newly translated into english (hooray!); carefree clothes for girls. the japanese version made me want to dye the girls' hair red and move to the country, and the new english version does the same.. but since that doesn't make any sense (yet) i'm happy that it also makes me want to sew up a ton of these adorable clothes for eve and ruth's life in the city.



i skipped on the lovely handwork the book instructs for the apron (i get impatient for a final product when i haven't sewn in awhile.. but really, the detailed handwork in the book is insanely charming). and i went for strips of bias tape along the pant leg rather than the wide lace in the instructions- no lace on hand and i find stripes+cropped pant+little girl to be an irresistible combination (and who really has the power to resist the sailor trend, especially after just lodging in the "captain's quarters" at a hotel that was originally built to lodge sailors in port and was actually home to the survivors of the titanic while that sad mess was sorted out? not me). i love it. simple and darling and so easy to sew. eve's feelings about the outfit? she can put "special secret and even super secret messages and things in the gigantic pocket without anyone knowing" all while practicing moves for ballet class, so she's a fan. even ruth, while in her cave (laundry hamper turned on its side with blanket over it), rotating between her bat costume and skirted lime green swimsuit and shouting "pumpkin pie!" every thirty seconds gives it a very enthusiastic thumbs up. so, even with 80% of technology dead in our home, and charlie throwing everything he can find to the ground, it isn't so hard to feel carefree with images of life on the sea, super secret messages and pumpkin pie on the brain. 



* for those who follow the link to the jane, know that chip didn't surprise me with a tiny room with bunk beds (although that would have been ridiculous and hysterical.. and a revisit to our past- on a maiden scouting voyage to new york nearly 9 years ago we visited the jane when it was gritty and cheap and a friend was lodging in one of those tiny tiny rooms until he found an apartment).. we stayed in one of the captain's rooms which was cool and fun, but not without some mysterious weirdness.. 


storm king


our year isn't complete without a visit to storm king. this is one of the places that make me love living in new york, even when i hate it. breathtakingly beautiful and so incredibly cool. sculpture in (sculpted) nature. after every visit i leave inspired and awed. and exhausted.. it's big. 


i cried, they didn't

they did it. last wednesday both girls got up, got dressed, ate breakfast, posed for pictures and ran to school where they joined their classmates as members of the new york city public school system. eve is a big time kindergartener and ruthie is a big time pre-k-er. things didn't seem to go as smoothly as last year, which i suppose is natural now that there are two. especially when one of them is ruth, who is going through a real phase right now, the kind of phase that i would think was so crazy and entertaining and absolutely endearing (if slightly alarming) were i an observer.. but as her mother, my head explodes about fifteen times a day..  still, even though ruth is awesomely unpredictable and even though it was completely different than last year, this year's first day was a great day.


after our run to school chip took ruth to register and i jogged hand in hand with eve to kindergarten. the room was hot and crowded. eve was a little nervous, but amazing. no nail biting, no tearing up. a tighter grip on my hand and a shoulder pressed into my leg for a moment and she was off.. cautiously and quietly, but she was off. after all, she is in kindergarten now. "did you like how i listened to you right away and didn't scream when ruth drew all over my arm with marker? it's because i'm in kindergarten." "did you see how i didn't throw a fit when ruth pulled my hair even though it hurt super bad? it's because i'm in kindergarten now." 


ruthie got into eve's old class, which we were thrilled about. ecstatic about. especially after the months-long battle i've had with the nyc department of ed just to get her into our zoned school. on day two she got pulled out and put into another class. i wasn't happy (enter: break down in the principal's office) but have since gotten over and embraced the change. ruth was sold the second she got to dress up like a "super cool princess" with the new friend that has her exact same shoes.

midnight the night before school rolled around and i couldn't not make them something for this big day. the stripes were pulled out and i sewed into the wee hours of the morning. their response when i presented the shirts? "do i have to? really? i kind of don't want to." eve took pity on me and my blank stare and after some coercion, ruthie did too (although she will never ever wear the tunic with jeans again, only tights because [exaggerated sigh and attempted eyeroll] "this is a dress mom, not a shirt. look!").

and, off they go. one resolved, the other mostly oblivious, both happy and good and ready to take on the world. as long as you don't make ruthie eat pickles or make eve take more than three bites of chicken (even though she's five). 


a sprinkler suit

watching those sesame street kids play on their sad playgrounds always puzzled me. as a girl growing up on acres of land in northern california, it just didn't make sense. there had to be some kind of joke that i just wasn't getting, because i didn't believe it.. a couple lousy swings, a handball wall, maybe a sand pit, some sprinklers and a sad set of monkey bars and i was supposed to be convinced that it was real? that anyone would ever do that to a kid; build a playground on blacktop without any kind of grass anywhere? it wasn't real, but if it was, i felt sorry and confused for those kids. 

today i watch my children play on those playgrounds. i watch them run on the blacktop and swing on the swings and stomp their feet in frustration at not being able to get the monkey bars right. those kids i pitied are now my own and those sad playgrounds i didn't believe in are theirs. they are theirs and they are amazing. the girls will run and charlie will walk, so slowly and carefully, all over that black rubber matting and asphalt for hours. every season of the year we are there, never noticing or thinking about the missing grass. we run,we draw with chalk, we blow bubbles and swing, slide and chase. but during the summer, while charlie searches for the nearest ball, the girls are concerned with one thing on their lovely little playground; the water. no matter what they are wearing, eve and ruth drench themselves in the geysers that pop up when the weather turns hot. more often than not, on those summer days we spend in brooklyn, the girls walk home, leaving a trail of little puddles behind them.


for those days of sprinkler bliss, a sprinkler suit was made. now that the very last day of our summer vacation is here it seems a little late to be sharing this, something made back in june, but here it is anyway. eve and ruth both balked when i tried to present it as a swim suit. "but it's just a shirt and underwear!" they cried. they were right, and we have used each piece separately as such, but when the two pieces are put together it becomes eve's "sprinkler suit", a term they were both willing to fully embrace (ruth didn't want one for herself unless it had a big hole in the back of it and neither of us were fans of the prototypes i came up with.. next summer). with her sprinkler suit on eve can run and play in the water and dry off in record time and i can watch as she scootches and spins on the ground and throws her little body around without once thinking about how much damage she is doing to her suit or clothes. after all, it is a sprinkler suit, and sprinkler suits are made for summer and all that comes with it on these new york playgrounds we happily call our own. 


also, this is my favorite sesame street song. ever. there are funnier and cleverer songs, which are awesome, but this was my favorite as a child and is even more so now that the girls request to watch it over and over and charlie rocks along to the beat. 


wear sunscreen

because, seriously, this is ridiculous. this is the picture chip sent me last week while in LA on business. the story goes that he was "on a conference call laying by the pool and kind of fell asleep". (i know, nice job, right?).. when he woke up and made his way inside, he found he had turned a shade of red rarely seen in the natural world.

i lost all sympathy for him years ago, after about the 13th time he "accidentally" got burnt out of his gourd. but i'm putting his current truly sad state to good use (a stiff neck is now topping off the blisters and red, peeling skin); eve and ruth are more sure than ever about the importance of sunscreen. ruth has even taken to educating charlie about it. "it's so so easy and funny to spray it on. but not in your nose. and not just where your shorts are, 'cause then you look like daddy. like a lobster. or a really red crayon." 


edit: ruthie states she never said daddy looks like a lobster ('cause lobsters are black). she said he looks like a monster or "a blood guy". my mistake.


home again

we're back in brooklyn and now have even more to share, and i will. but first there are two little girls demanding a day full of making cookies with marshmallows, art projects directed by the soon-to-be kindergardener, sprinklers at the playground, ringlet-inducing buns (again), and band practice (these two have big plans for our family)..