birthday number 2, take two

Someone was quite eager to get started. Before daddy even lit the birthday candles, Rivers was rehearsing for his shining moment. Having waited patiently for over a week to devour his birthday tart, until his cold disappeared, he was certainly practiced in the art of extinguishing a flame with the first breath. Too perfected for his mama to capture the reflected glow of the candlelight and his efforts without a relight.

Maybe we’ll do trick candles next year to slow him down a bit.
Daddy allowed Rivers the honor to (attempt to) cut his birthday dessert. And with the pie cutter in hand, he created a smiley face instead. “Eyyyyyeeee. Heaaaa.”

A few weeks prior to Rivers’ birthday I was racking my brain with what to do for his cake. His daddy’s birthday is not even a full month prior. Two winter birthdays can put a bit of a damper on creativity, especially since there is relatively no fresh (local) fruit, and this season they both needed to be gluten-free.  Good thing I have two chocoholics in the family!

Sometimes I don’t know if Rivers fully understands me when I speak to him, but during a brainstorming moment I asked if he would like a peanut butter-chocolate tart. His entire face lit up, eyes widened. He nodded steadily and calmly, letting the weight of my question sink. That settled that.

 

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birthday blues and summer days

Our poor kiddo has been under the weather this week. The worst of it perfectly corresponded with his birthday, and as an added bonus he shared it with me.  Plenty of rest, vitamins and elderberry syrup and we are already on the road to recovery.

To put some sunshine back into our healing bodies, I began looking through photos from the summer and came across this Making-of a Hashtache Breakfast. Sometime last year we began project of creating food faces with hash mustaches and presenting them to Rivers for his Monday breakfast.  Just a once a week creative game. To see more, search #hashtachemonday on Instagram.

The best part of the hashtache breakfast is listening to this guy talk to me about what’s on his plate and then watching him destroy and/or eat it. 

{2014} looking back

After quite an unexpectedly long hiatus from blogging (and almost all internet in general), it’s difficult to know just where to pick up again. The last three and a half months were blissfully spent enjoying one another and our final days in New York before the move to the midwest. We toured the south, visited with each set of grandparents at least twice, traveled to seven different cities, spent quality time with great grandparents, ran a half marathon, had our first weekend away (sans baby), packed a moving van, unpacked a moving van, celebrated a birthday, then jumped right into holiday mode and made feast after feast for family get-togethers.

I wish I could have juggled blogging too, but I didn’t have internet half the time and I didn’t really care. My 2014 resolution was a one word mantra (actually two words), Mindfulness and Presence. In the midst of the bustling journey it felt best to honor the mantra. I immersed myself in our move and our adventures and feel more alive because of it.

I chose a new word for 2015, but first things first. It is the season for reflection, and now that the stream of life has slowed its pace somewhat, I shall take the time to do just that.

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Since his birth we’ve been writing anecdotes about our trips and sending Rivers a postcard from just about every city he’s ever called home for the night. In early September, Jonathan surprised us with a trip to Cape Cod to see the cranberry harvest. It was one of those trips that is planned out just right, but in practice does not unfold at all the way it’s expected. The cranberry harvest turned out to be mostly baby wrangling in a sandpit, and thoughts of whale watching were dashed when we realized that more baby wrangling (on a boat for four hours!) might actually kill us. We opted for ice cream instead.

The trip didn’t unfold the way it was expected, but the way it should. We hiked, dipped our toes in the ocean, met a drag queen mermaid, climbed the pilgrim tower, learned some Spanish lingo from toddlers, adopted grandparents and saw an old narwhal tusk.

I’d return in a second!

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Gray cedar siding. Cape Cod could be described by this photo alone.
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 The very last day I used the baby carrier, on the cranberry tour. See how well that went? Rivers nabbed a friendly, sharing child’s camera and was off like a true tourist.

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The final blooms of fall, captured by Jonathan’s eye.
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Trying to figure out how to get the the beach.
(Check out the family in the background with the amazing, inflated beach wheelchair.)

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It took this kid about two seconds to persuade his adopted grandfather, Mr. Robert, to escort him to the beach. He ran right up to inspect the wheel then raised his arms for a “pick up.” Jonathan and I were flabbergasted. Mr. Robert’s family happily snapped about six photos before we managed one. capecod4

Just as quickly as he befriended his way into a ride, he waved goodbye and raced off. capecod11

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The obligatory family photo on the beach, the effort before the perfect edit.

{food face photography} green goop

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I’m really enjoying this little series of Food Face Photography with Rivers. He is a bit pickier during mealtime, showing me exactly what he doesn’t want by swatting it to the floor in the most serene, carefree manner. I can’t even get upset, because he looks up at me in such a matter-of-fact way, as if to say, “I’m sorry, was that wrong?”

This is when I cook his absolute favorite, sweet potato, and any additions that usually hit the hardwood. I blend them so that they can’t be separated.

He takes a bite.

From his expression I can tell that he recognizes the flavor of the sweet potato, his reliable friend. But wait, there is something more to it. I haven’t tricked him. I tell him the truth. Though in his eyes, my matter-of-fact blah blah blah must sound something like, “I’m sorry, was that wrong?”

the little space captain

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He’s totally outgrown his spaceman phase, so finding these on my computer this evening made my heart melt. No one ever showed him how to do this, just one day he started marching around the house with blurry bag vision. We called it his ‘space helmet.’ No worries, it’s not plastic, but a stiff vinyl, and he was never unsupervised. And now it’s back to holding toys.
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food face photography: first pb & j

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“Hey go.”

He’s so good at sharing food. Should you decline he’ll gobble up the entire piece as quickly as possible to show you what you’re missing, or fling it to the floor without batting an eye. Ah, life with a toddler. There is nothing else like it, except maybe life with a puppy. Because, let’s be real, if I don’t clean up the floor before he gets down, he will. Nom nom.

 

austin texas t’s {family portrait}

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Remember that trip to Austin we took back in October? Remember that awesome friend who wrote this heartfelt poem about our visit? She is reason enough to move to the great city and now we look the part with Austin t-shirts.

What better motive for a family portrait than gift like this? Not that we need an excuse, but taking a family photo requires some planning.  …cuz one of us doesn’t always like to look directly at the camera.

So thank you, Meredith for this challenge.

austinfamily3Hi Dog.austinfamily4See the camera?austinfamily5It’s right there.austinfamily6See?austinfamily7Dog’s back.austinfamily2Oh hey.

cheers to a first birthday

bearmountain1-2bearmountain6tassajara-bananabreadbearmountain3 bearmountain2bearmountain7One year olds, they have no concept of birthdays. What do you do? High-five your partner, pop open the champagne and toast your mimosa glasses to a job well done, I guess. We have a party planned next week, so for the actual day we decided to celebrate quietly.

Flurries fell, then rain, then flurries again. Following my cookbook challenge, I baked banana bread in an effort to warm up the kitchen. Just as we retrieved our sweet treat, the sun broke through the pale sky and we high-tailed it outdoors before the weather changed its mind again. The bread was still steaming as I sliced and packed.

About an hour outside of New York City, the mountains are in reach and there isn’t a skyscraper as far as the eye can see. We took a little walk, spied ice blocks moving along the river, crinkled forgotten leaves and breathed the frigid fresh air until our noses turned red, indicating it was time to return indoors.

full circle: happy one year

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One year ago today I started this blog and wrote about my little Dragon. It was the only pre-baby post. I was feeling huge at nine months, counting down the days, wholly anticipating the introduction to my baby and ready to have my body back. (Though do I really even now, still breastfeeding?)

When we nicknamed our baby Dragon he was developmentally at the stage where he resembled a lizard-like specie, caught between embryo and human. Well, that and we’re Chinese zodiac nerds who figured we could dub our lizard-looking fetus after the current animal. As time moved along he continued to live up to his name.  I blamed my heartburn on his fiery breath and kickboxing moves on the probability that he was practicing his destruction of unsuspecting villages. Maybe most of that “living up to his name” was made up in my head. Maybe it still is.

A year later he has a new name. Rivers.

Still always on the flow, yearning to touch everything and everyone. He flows with direction with a cool demeanor. His presence is calming. I love my little water dragon so much. He’s the happiest person I’ve ever met and I’m grateful everyday to share my life with him.

Here’s to another year in the blogosphere!

manicured man

©fourwoodthinking

©fourwoodthinking

©fourwoodthinking

©fourwoodthinking

©fourwoodthinking

The job of nail clipping the baby has fallen to me, since his papa is deathly afraid of clipping more than just a nail. When Rivers was an itty bitty newborn Jonathan would file his nails very delicately. That’s when Rivers stayed put. Now he has places to go and “kiti-kats” to torment. There’s no time for the file.  Considering the way little one’s nails grow, we’re clipping every couple of days. I’m so used to the routine, the grumpy faces, the wiggles, the stretches and the moaning, I didn’t even notice Jonathan was taking photos one morning. What a pleasant surprise when I unloaded my camera card to find these.