inside one American mother's mind, while her children are young

Halloween 2015, I Did Not Forget You…

Well Thanksgiving is here so I think its time to post about Halloween!


Iris was a rainbow! I saw a costume on Pottery Barn Kids and decided to whip up my own version. In ancient mythology Iris was Goddess of the Rainbow, so it just felt perfect. The gold sequin booty shorts and rainbow leg warmers were the icing on the cake.


Roman rejected all of his costumes. First, his superhero cape was “too tight” around his neck. Second was my disastrous attempt to make him the moon. He cried and cried as we struggled to put the giant moon pillow creation over his head. Lastly, I found a leather cowboy outfit at the local consignment store and decided with a few accessories he could be a wandering folk singer of sorts. I thought the stick and the musical instruments would be enough to distract him from the vest. It sort of worked. I think mostly the excitement of “trick-or-treating” saved the day. Also the fact that both his parents wore some silly cowboy clothes too.


We read him The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown dozens of times leading up to Halloween, it became a quick favorite. He still quotes, “I got… a ROCK!” on the regular. (To which we must reply, “NOT AGAIN!”) So he had an idea of what Halloween and trick-or-treating was all about, but this was his first experience with it.


We walked to Old Town to trick-or-treat with the “bootiques” on our way to Lee St. There were a few shops handing out candy, but the first house he trick-or-treated at was the Historic Carlyle Mansion, or “spooky haunted house” as we referred to it (another one of his books.) Lee St was the real highlight. The street was blocked off and  gradually flooded with families. Everyone’s homes were decorated, there was great Halloween energy. It all got me very excited for years to come, when the kids have ideas about what they want to be and we all dress up as a family.

Roman timidly approached each door. Peered into each bowl of candy a tad bewildered. Picked something and began unwrapping it immediately. He ate almost every candy at once. As far as I know it was his first time eating candy so I found his instincts about it quite adorable. As it started to get crowded it became a little challenging for him to make his way to the candy bowls, and with all the candy he was eating we decided it was a good time to head back. He requested his “trick-or-treats” for days and seemed a bit confused about why we weren’t doing that every night.

The weather was perfect that night, we couldn’t have asked for a lovelier place to spend that holiday. Our first night in our new home, it was quite a treat😉

How We Celebrated Iris’s First Birthday


We decided not to celebrate Iris’s birthday with a big party, but to spend the day celebrating here in Northern Virginia, just the four of us. All of our family and friends live in NJ and we had just moved to a new apartment one week before. The idea of traveling away for the weekend sounded stressful and stressed was the opposite of the way we wanted to feel on Iris’s birthday this year. Judging from her usual behavior in groups of people I imagined a big party would have been stressful for her too.

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I come from a big extended family and celebrated every birthday and holiday with lots of people. Big parties were my idea of celebration. I distinctly remember feeling sorry for friends with small families, not understanding what made Christmas or Thanksgiving so special. Roman had two big 1st Birthday parties so I was feeling a little guilty that poor Iris the second child wasn’t getting any. But now I get it. There are lots of ways to mark a special occasion and bring a different level of enchantment to the day.

I made decorations and set up the apartment the night before so that as soon as the kids woke up they would see something new and special to mark the occasion. I was quite surprised by how interested Iris was in her birthday banner! She honestly woke up in this mood like she knew exactly what was going on. It was as if she remembered Roman’s 2nd birthday celebration and had been waiting all this time for it to be her turn. She kept looking up at the window and admiring the letters that hung there to wish her a happy birthday.

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She was born (via emergency c-section) at 8:05am so I decided this year at 8:05am she could eat cake! We found the cutest little mini “birthday cake” at a local market and bakery Society Fair. She picked the whole thing right up and made a picture perfect mess devouring it! It is really a lot of fun watching a baby react to being allowed to make a mess with cake. Her brother surprised us with his enthusiasm. He sang “Happy Birthday” over and over again with the help of some musical instruments. He kept saying “happy birthday again?! happy birthday again?!” I had bought him a “cake push pop” but he never even asked for cake for himself, he seemed to understand that it was his sister’s birthday. He jumped all around her high chair, banging on his tambourine, singing happy birthday again and again. We ate donuts from our favorite local spot. I think for us, doing all this in the comfort of our home without a big audience allowed them to be themselves and have the most fun with it.



After the “cake for breakfast” kickoff we took a leisurely walk along the river. There’s a beautiful path we can now reach by foot and it was our first time wandering it. The babies fell asleep and it made for a nice calm pause in the day. The path changes from well manicured park grounds to the wild woods all around. Its the kind of walk that could probably bring on a dramatic shift in our well being if we made a habit of walking it everyday. We could use more nature in our lives. After the walk and their naps we grabbed a quick lunch and drove out to Frying Pan Farm Park. I’d been meaning to take a trip there all summer but as it turned out it was an ideal Fall activity on what turned out to be the most beautiful Fall day. November 6th was 79 degrees here this year, Iris didn’t even need the sweater and tights I picked out to match her birthday dress!

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The 1920’s fully functioning farm had a little antique carousel and mini tractors to play on along with all its happy farm animals. Roman even got to milk a cow! He loved the whole thing so much we left feeling guilty that we do not actually live on a farm ourselves. He ran free in all its wide open space, jetting from animal field to field and cage to cage, stopping to chat with a goat, laying on the ground, head resting on his hands he said, “Hi goat! yea! okay!” Down the gravel road from where we parked our car to the farm he ran and hopped with such excitement. They love the breeze on their faces. They loved climbing the tractors, spinning the steering wheels. They loved spinning round and round and up and down on the carousel. Roman held is head back, face to the sky, smiling. Iris held on to the pole and watched the world go round.

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As my husband commented at one point, it was really nice to have an excuse to just have fun all day. There was nothing to get done except whatever made everyone the most happy, like spontaneous dance parties with Roman playing DJ on our record player, because he is currently obsessed with it! It was like a little gift of time. A whole day just to put life on pause and celebrate Iris as a family. We didn’t need a lot of hoopla and presents, just some shiny decorations, cake and happy spirits!

Iris: The One Year Update

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Somewhere in the midst of all the constant adjusting that goes on in my head for how old Iris is versus how old she is supposed to be her first birthday snuck right up on me.

She is one year old.

She has 2 bottom teeth and many more that seem to be about to come in.

She took her first official steps the day after her birthday and keeps on taking them!

She likes to steal things from her brother and jet to me for protection.

She hangs on him and pulls on him and swats at him and laughs when she makes him cry, my mischievous girl.

She scavenges for food, puts everything in her mouth, and is making progress with eating off a spoon and feeding herself solids, but she still gets basically all her real food from breastfeeding.

She likes to feed me, reaching her food out to my mouth with her little hand.

She goes to bed at 7 every night, and wakes up around 7/ 7:30 every morning, feeding a few times a night in between.

She has trouble napping during the day. She’s a light sleeper and gets her best naps on walks in the stroller or while I wear her and Roman is napping so there is no noise or excitement to stay awake for.

She babbles and sings and claps and dances.’

She is never still.

She loves music. She loves when I sing to her and she loves beating on the drums and shaking the maracas and tambourines. She gets so excited whenever a song is playing.

Her brother gets the best giggles out of her.

She loves to swing.

She gets “happy feet” rapidly kicking them around.

She knows her way around a playground. Climbing. Sliding. Eating wood chips. Finding things to push around and walk along.

She is very much into peek-a-boo, everything she gets her hands on she raises up to hide her face. She peeks herself out of funny places, smiling.

She likes to reach out her hand to show you whatever it is she has just found.

She likes to climb into small spaces, the cubes in the shelving unit, the shelf under the kitchen island.

Sometimes while I watch her nurse I’m reminded for a moment, how big her eyes were on her tiny face, how small she was, just 2 1/2 lbs sleeping on my chest, rooting for milk she wasn’t ready to drink. Her nurses said she was feisty. I thought they must have said that to all the parents, to make us feel good. Either way, a year later, it is clear they were right.

She is my fierce and wild, sweet smiling child. There is a strength in her that shines so bright. A twinkle in those big blue eyes that seems to scream, “Get ready for me world!”

Roman and The Record Player

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Roman has taken a liking to our record player. “Play music!” he says as he fishes through the pile of records on the shelf beneath it. He sets it on and asks for help. He likes to move the needle around, to slow the song down or speed it up. He doesn’t mind the scratching, and neither do I because most of these records cost me a dollar at some thrift store back in California. His new favorite song is Frank Sinatra’s “Fly Me To The Moon.” We have an “in concert at The Sands” version. He stands at the table, arms folded resting on its edge, head hung over the record player watching closely as it “goes round and round.” He taps his feet to the beat, he gently claps to the rhythm, careful to keep time, the tips of his fingers touching down quietly on his curved palm. When the song reaches its last notes he says, “oh no, the end! Again? Play it again?!” and I pick the needle up and move it back to the beginning as he resumes position.

Sometimes he’ll place a toy on top, his little helicopter or a block, and he’ll watch it spin and take great joy in pointing out that its “going round and round.” He plays the Beach Boys and Elvis, the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. He says “Rock and Roll Baby! Rock and Roll!”

Thanks to YouTube his sense of music involves an accompanying visual. If we play iTunes or Spotify he stares at the screen with expectations. The record player has met them in its simple soothing way.

With our move to a smaller apartment I imagined the record player and its accompanying stack of records might not make the cut of what my husband deems “useful” and “necessary” things. Just in time, Roman took notice and saved it. I’m quite charmed by its new place in our daily routine, and glad it has moved with us once again to another new home.

Things He Says…

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“Okay” and “Alright” he says this all the time now, sometimes with a sigh of resignation. He’ll ask eagerly, “Kipper? Watch Kipper?” and when I respond, “Sure you want to watch Kipper now? Would you like me to put it on for you?” he’ll say, “okay,” in a way that makes it sound as if it had been my idea.

“I got an idea!” he says this with a finger pointed up high in the air. Sometimes he says, “I have a BIG idea!”

“Daddy” we were referring to Mike as “Papa” and his grandfathers as “Poppop” which started getting a little mixed up. All of the sudden with no prompt from us he started referring to Mike as “daddy”. Something I’m sure he picked up from his books and shows. He says, “daddy go to work” and “daddy’s work clothes” quite a lot now that he’s starting to understand that routine.

“Mamma’s phone” “Mamma’s backpack” “Mamma’s (fill in the blank) He is very interested in possession at the moment. He does not like other people using my things. He likes certain stories to be read by me and others to be read by his father. He refers to his things as “Roman’s dinosaurs” “Roman’s water bottle” and is not keen on sharing. This does not work out well for me when someone else is kindly carrying my diaper bag and he insists on taking it from them and returning it to me to wear myself!

“I don’t know” his expression and inflection when he says this is jut the best. Sometimes he raises his palms up and shrugs his shoulders and shakes his head.

“Goodnight Sister, I love you” only after being prompted by me before I take Iris up for bed, but the sound of his sweet voice uttering those five words pierces me right through the heart every time❤





Iris: The 11 Month Update

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This girl.

Not only is she walking along furniture, she’s walking with a push toy and she’s walking while holding onto her poor brothers shirt as he tries to run away from her.

She’s climbing all the steps she can find.

She’s standing on her own for up to about 5 seconds at a time.

She’s clapping! (Sometimes drumming and clapping as if to a song in her heart.)

She’s constantly scavenging for food.

She LOVES to swing, (Especially when her brother’s pushing her.)

She does this new thing where she rapidly wiggles her legs and kicks her feet.

She still smiles and babbles at strangers. She loves to have everyones attention.

She can scream, so very loudly. She knows just how to get what she wants.

She screams every time I change her clothing and wiggles her way out of every diaper change.

Suddenly she loves the bath! For awhile I had to get in the tub with her and nurse her to keep her calm. And now, out of nowhere, she’s a fearless water bug!

She wants all the the things. Especially the things her brother is using at any given moment.

Some nights she wakes up every thirty minutes. I put her to sleep at 7:30 and roughly every thirty minutes I am back upstairs putting her back to sleep!

She is so very MISCHIEVOUS! She gives us this knowing grin before every forbidden endeavor she undertakes. She is basically only interested in causing trouble🙂

She climbs slides. Usually without getting very far, but she is able to climb all the way to the top of the little slide in the playhouse in our yard, without any help (just my hands spotting her, not touching!)

She gives big wet open mouth kisses.

She is quite excellent at going along for the ride. Napping whenever, wherever, no schedule, maintaining a pleasant demeanor, going to sleep and waking in the morning at the same consistent time every day.

We are amazed by her development these days, its all happening so quickly, our last baby, almost a toddler❤

Roman’s Montessori Room

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I’d been putting off sharing the end result of Roman’s first children’s room in hopes that I’d eventually finish decorating with all the little touches I originally dreamt up. Alas, with us moving to a new apartment a month from now, this is as good as its going to get! When we first moved from our one bedroom apartment to our first two bedroom home I was pretty excited to decorate Roman’s first official bedroom. When our daughter was born unexpectedly at 30 weeks exactly one week after we moved in, those interior decorating dreams no longer felt so important or interesting. Trips to Ikea, however, did have a magical way of making me feel in control of something. And we made a lot of them.

As I wrote about awhile back, we planned to set up Roman’s room Montessori style with his own floor bed since he had been co-sleeping with us on a floor bed up to that point. We focused on making the room safe for him to play in independently since he would be free to get up and explore at his will. He’s a climber and a jumper so we thought through every little thing that could be potentially dangerous. More recently we even decided to get rid of his dresser. My husband read something about the risks involving kids and dressers and we have caught Roman on more than one occasion trying to climb up it, so that was that! He moves around so much in his sleep we even padded the walls!

Since Roman has a long history of being sleep averse I also tried to create the room as a sleep space as opposed to a play space. It is a haven for all of his stuffed animals and many of his books, but no toys, which would inevitably distract him at bedtime while we lie on his floor bed trying to read stories and sing songs until he cuddles up and falls asleep. I think the teepee and stuffed animals have offered enough to amuse himself with when he wakes up and scoots out of bed! I did of course want to make it a whimsical, fun feeling space that he’d be drawn to, that would feel like his own.

In his room:

DIY Wall Padding: For a quick renter-friendly DIY headboard we made a trip to Home Depot and bought some affordable sheets of plywood, they cut them to size for us there. I ordered upholstery foam on amazon and used an old sheet for the fabric (for our next apartment I fully intend to pick out some fun fabric!). I am not an experienced DIY guru, but I simply cut the foam to fit the boards, glued it down with some gorilla glue, let it dry, laid out the fabric, placed the foam boards on top, cut the fabric, wrapped it around the boards and stapled it on tight with a staple gun! Thicker fabric would have done a better job, but this worked and has held up without a problem all year. I stuck the “headboard/ wall padding” to his walls with heavy duty mounting tape.

Ikea Wall Stickers: I loved the wild look of the leaves and the birds, unfortunately I couldn’t find the birds still available online, but I think they have a really fun selection.

Ikea Closet Organizer: We just use those simple tiered baskets in his closet for his clothes now that he doesn’t have a dresser.

Ikea Picture Ledge/Book Shelves: I love that these make his books easily visible and accessible! Admittedly, we have a problem with over stuffing them, in which case they fall off and end up piled up all over the floor!

Ikea block out shades: A nap time necessity!

Tuft and Needle Mattress: We went with a full size since we lay with him until he falls asleep (and often end up sleeping with him). We also went with the 5″ thick version, better for a floor mattress since thicker mattresses need room to breathe. It seems they may no longer offer this, and their prices seem higher, but we love these mattresses!

DIY Paper Source Letters

House Inhabit Teepee: A very sturdy indoor/ outdoor teepee! The perfect home for all of his stuffed animals!

DIY Teepee Art: I bought this sticker on Etsy and stuck it to some beautiful paper from Paper Source and framed it in a little bamboo frame!

The giant bear was a handmade gift from my aunt, we thought it was crazy at first, with us living in such a small apartment, but he LOVES it. He hugs it, cuddles it, wrestles it, and now I find myself having to resist buying even MORE giant stuffed animals.

And last, that little ikea owl watches over him (along with our baby monitor!)

3 Smart Lovely Children’s Book Discoveries



Patrick Mcdonnell is one of my favorite children’s book authors. Hug Time was my favorite book to read to Roman when he was a baby. Art is my new favorite. When I saw it this past week at our favorite local toy store “Why Not?” I couldn’t resist. He’s at an age where he’s starting to really enjoy drawing, coloring and painting. Mostly he makes circles and curly cues. I bought him a little notepad and a set of chunky toddler crayons that I keep in the diaper bag, now he loves to color while he sits in his stroller on our walks about town. The story is simple, sweet and clever, just as a children’s book should be! He asks us to read it to him, picking it off the shelf he says “art!”


On a Beam of Light

On that same trip to the toy store I spotted this beautifully written story of Albert Einstein for children. I had first heard of it in this review on Brain Pickings. Not quite age appropriate for Roman just yet so I managed to resist for now, but I cannot wait to add it to his library in a year or so. Its a lovely story for supporting and inspiring creativity and wonder! (Also for parents who love Einstein and theoretical physics and are excited to share that love with their children!)


A Strange Place To Call Home

Also found at “Why Not?” and also still a little over Roman’s head was this gorgeous book of poetry about animals that evolved to live in strange places. Another one I cannot wait to add to his future library. So clever and educational, a great way to begin teaching the evolutionary magic of life! Also great for introducing the beauty of poetry!

My Fall Wardrobe

Allow me to introduce you to The Estes Button Down:


I had some money left on an Anthropologie gift card that I’ve been saving for my Fall wardrobe. As we were passing by on our way from the toy store to the grocery store this wednesday I decided to pop in and see if my children would allow me a few moments to browse. They did!

My thought walking in was, “Okay, what do I want to live in this Fall?” At first I picked up a jumper. A slightly risky purchase without trying it on, and with both babies in the double stroller and the dressing room upstairs I felt certain returning something would be the easier option. Then I saw this button down by Cloth & Stone and said (to myself, in my head), “DONE!”

It is the softest thing I’ve ever owned. You feel as if you’re wearing pajamas outside in the real world. Its a nice neutral color, a great length for pairing with leggings or jeans, and it has a nice fit/ hang, oversized without looking frumpy. It went perfectly with my super comfy chambray sneakers and will work just as nicely with my favorite boots. So easy to wear.

I tried to take a picture of myself in it… and this is what happened:


So fashion blogging is not my calling. But I had to share anyway.

Because I am in love with this shirt.

And this weather.

Fall wins.

Currently Obsessed: BluePrint Cold Pressed Cashew Coffee


So I was strolling through Whole Foods on my way to the register, passing by the cold drinks I thought, “yes, I’m thirsty,” and I spotted a bottle of BluePrint that read “coffee cashew cinnamon vanilla agave”. I thought, “yes, that sounds good.”

I drank it on my way home, pushing my babies in their stroller, I thought to myself, “THIS IS THE BEST STUFF EVER. I’M GOING TO DRINK THIS EVERYDAY”

A few days later I was strolling through Whole Foods again, this time I had it in my head from the moment I decided to go grocery shopping that I was going to drink this raw cold pressed cold brew coffee. I had thought about it all morning.

When I got to the cold drinks I scanned for the bottle, there it was, one left. I looked down to check the price out of curiosity. $12.99. I knew it was an extravagance, I suspected maybe $8. I hesitated, it was too much. Then I told myself it was okay, I thought about it all day, this would be my last one.

I drank half and saved half for the next day, I’m drinking it as I write this, obviously.

My husband had a sip and a similar reaction. We decided we’ll just have to try to replicate it at home.

Apparently this person did and she claims its just as “divine!”


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