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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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.

52 Rivers: a weekly photography project

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After our baby shower, which seems like forever ago now, I was determined to put every gift to good use. Even an overstuffed fuzzy pillow with beady eyes and sad slump that inspired us to deem him “drunk teddy.” Teddy became Rivers’ weekly companion and growth comparison for this 52 weeks photo project.

What began as a whim, developed into unyielding dedication and ended with smiles. We thought we were just charting his growth, little did we know so much of his personality would shine through, until we started comparing the photos week by week. Of course it would! We just didn’t think about that when we started with a limp, confused newborn.

This project reminds us of when he started crawling, when the first teeth arrived (the amber necklace appears) and when the second set of chompers followed (causing the necklace to disappear), when we needed props to keep him still for the two seconds it takes to snap a photo and when Teddy became more like a friend than a cushion.

 

the purple apron

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“Somehow I know we’ll meet again. Not sure quite where and I don’t know just when. You’re in my heart, so until then it’s time for saying goodbye.”
– Muppets Take Manhattan

We said goodbye this week, somewhat reluctantly, to good friends who are moving out of the concrete jungle, in pursuit of a green yard and closer proximity to family. I’ll admit I’m a bit envious

Ok, completely.

It’s tough raising a kid in a one bedroom with no yard and a 30 to 40 minute commute to the nearest patch of grass. I wish them the best and will miss them terribly. There is no other person on the planet with whom I can say our kids shared their first lunch date en utero. Silly, I know. But that mama would agree. My one-year-old, on the other hand, may have no clue that his friend is even gone. Coincidently they moved closer to my in-laws, so play dates will ensue, albeit rarely. It may take Rivers years to figure it out.

His best buddy left just a few weeks short of her birthday, so I scrambled to make an early gift. Coming down with stomach flu didn’t help, but Jonathan came to the rescue and gave me a sewing lesson as we created this little purple apron. (Glad one of us knows how to sew!) It’s incredible how tiny kids really are at this age. A couple feet of scrap fabric, a good guide and an evening was all I needed. It’s probably the nicest thing I’ve ever completed with a sewing machine, which has greatly inspired me. I started a list of projects. Perhaps I can create something other than faulty baby hats this year.

I asked Jonathan to snap a couple photos for my records, to keep myself motivated. I expected a few flat images, maybe some details. Nope. I got my own little chef modeling the apron. Kid approved.

©fourwoodthinkingapron2 Such seriousness. Already has a top chef attitude.

and one to grow on

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Everyone warned us  how children “grow up so quickly.” Jonathan swears they were right, that it feels like yesterday when I was laboring our son into the world. For me that is not at all the case, or it hadn’t been until this week. The in-between birthday parties week. The week that started on his actual birthday, back when he was still a baby, before he learned to toddle to our outstretched arms, or throw up his hands and say “ahhhh-done” at the end of a meal.

Uh, what?

What happened to my baby and who is this new kid?

I’m pleased we decided to throw a party the weekend after his birthday.  We went back and forth for the longest time, but in the end we realize our son is a social butterfly. He vies for the attention wherever he can get it, from our friends to strangers on the subway. If only I carried a cup, I’m sure his college would be paid already.  The extra week between celebrations gave him a grace period to learn a few steps to impress his guests. A crowded room full of adults cheering him along as he walked and no camera out to catch the moment. I don’t know which part of that is more impressive. First steps certainly, but twelve smartphones all tucked away is also surprising. Talk about living in the present moment! I was so engaged in conversations, catching up with friends, that I didn’t even think to photograph the cake with the birthday boy before it disappeared! Not that it would have mattered. I think he took one bite from someone’s plate before he darted off to play with (another baby) his buddy.

I’d been looking forward to the first cake smash since day one. Luckily I had a couple test cakes stored in the freezer. I cut the size slightly and frosted it for a photo op the following day. Unlike the snowstorm that dumped all over us during the party, the sun beamed through the kitchen and granted a pleasant glow to the morning. Like it was meant to be.

It’s almost impossible to take photos of this guy nowadays. Everything is a blur unless he’s eating. The one activity where he sits and focuses. Funny though how perplexed and grumpy he appears when he’s focused. ©fourwoodthinking ©fourwoodthinking ©fourwoodthinking ©fourwoodthinking

©fourwoodthinkingRecipe coming soon!

 

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!

nothing like the present

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“The greatest gift we can offer anyone is our true presence.” – Thich Nhat Hanh 

Our true presence is a gift we try to offer one another each and every day. It seems easy enough, but somehow it can be difficult. There are numerous distractions in our lives that make it easy to forget. They pacify us in times of worry or stress and we procrastinate working out those feelings instead of simply facing them head-on.

As the year winds down we’ve struggled a bit more with being truly present. Or I should say, I have. The holiday season brought the usual hustle and bustle, but also some interesting news that required big decisions. I was stuck in dream-land as we waited to hear news about these decisions and… well, they fell through.

Lesson learned. Live in the present moment. Plan for the future, but don’t live in a bubble of daydreams, otherwise I may miss out on the beauty and blessings that are right in front of me.

Following fellow mama and blogger, Lyssa, I chose a word words for 2014. Mindfulness and presence are our mantras for the coming year. Reminders to turn off the screens, breathe away stresses, thoughts of work, chores etc. and instead offer ourselves to the present moment. To focus our full attention on …

the smile of our child

hearing his concerns and joys

looking each other in the eyes

sharing a full embrace

facing our burdens with right thinking

cultivating love and celebrating all aspects of our lives

As with a list of resolutions, this will be an exercise in focus and self-discipline.  I can’t just dream my life will move forward, I must be an active participant. All these things I think I knew. May I actually apply them this new year!

“Don’t just hope for the shore to come to you. If you want to cross over to there other shore, the shore of safety, well-being, non-fear and non-anger, you have to swim or row across. You have to make an effort.” -Buddha

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Thank you all so much for sharing in our first blog year. We have appreciated so dearly all of the comments we’ve received and the connections we’ve made. May you all have a joyful time celebrating the new year! See you in 2014!

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whole-grain chunky chocolate bars

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As if I don’t bake enough at work, I’m in my kitchen calculating ingredients and whipping up recipes on days off. This was not the case when I was home full-time, but the projects I do at the bakery inspired me to dust off my old recipe books. I noticed that my old notes are stained and, in some cases, the pen ink is fading. It’s time to get organized, rewrite (or type) recipes and re-test a few to make sure they’re worth keeping.

First one down.
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WholeGrain-Chunky-Bar

Whole-Grain Chunky Chocolate Bars (Vegan)
Yields 16 squares from an 8×8 inch pan

2 Tablespoons freshly ground flax seed
6 Tablespoons warm water
1 1/4 cup rolled oats
1 cup whole-wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup canola oil, or melted coconut oil
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 ounces melted semi-sweet chocolate
5.5 ounces semi-sweet chocolate bar, roughly chopped (about 1 cup)
3/4 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
4-5 ounces chocolate for dipping (optional)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line an 8×8 inch square pan with parchment.

Whisk together ground flaxseed and water in a small bowl. Set aside.

In a blender or food processor, blend oats until they become a flour. Place in a medium bowl and whisk in whole wheat flour, salt and baking powder.

In another bowl, mix together oil and sugars, then flax mixture, vanilla and melted chocolate until thick and sticky. Fold in dry ingredients slowly until just fully incorporated. Fold in chocolate pieces and nuts.

Press into parchment lined pan. Bake about 30 minutes.

Allow time to cool. Pull whole cookie out of the pan by the parchment. Cut into 16 squares. Once all the squares have fully cooled, melt the chocolate and dip the tops.

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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.

a winter’s day

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It’s taking a bit of time for us to adjust to the new family schedule, juggling work and baby care between the two of us. The shift in habits sent all three of us our first colds of the season. We didn’t let it stop us from enjoying the first real-ish snow this winter. I say real-ish, because it was very wet and promptly melted after we photographed. Never-the-less, after a little snooze in the car, Rivers was way excited about the weird substance.