It's Greta!

Oh, hello there! It's been a while. Quite a lot has happened since the last time I posted. First, let me introduce you to my beautiful baby daughter, Greta Rose! (Though, I'm betting many of you have met her over on Instagram already!) She is a happy, smiley little thing and we are all enjoying getting to know her. There is nothing like a brand new baby, is there? So cozy and sweet. I just love her.

Shortly after welcoming Greta into our not-so-little-anymore family, we began another new chapter. We started homeschooling this Fall and the girl gang (yes, I have a gang of them now) and I have spent most of our days outside, which has been wonderful. We're doing 'yoga' here... ;)

Thanks for checking in, friends! Wishing you a peaceful week.

Why We Stay

Since we announced that we are expecting our 4th child, we have been asked (and have asked ourselves) many times whether we plan to stay in the city. I would never presume to know what is right for another family, or for our own family many years from now, but right now, we know Fell's Point is our place, tiny rowhouse and all. It seemed like an apt time to re-read, and re-post, my piece from 2012, which was originally published on the DBFA Blog.

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Every morning, I pack up my children, Elsa on my back and Fiona in the stroller. We take a long, wandering walk through our little corner of the big city. A few blocks to the coffee shop and another few to the harbor, we stop every couple steps to chat with our fellow early risers. We pick up some groceries, stop by a neighborhood shop and catch up with the owner, then head back to our two hundred year old row house, where Polish immigrants lived before us with their five children, two in the attic and three in the bedroom. We know this because one of those grown children knocked on our door the week we moved in. He wanted to say hello and take a look around. The whole kitchen used to be Pepto-Bismol pink, even the damn cabinet doors, he told us.

In the afternoon, we venture out again to drop in the bar where my husband and I met one tipsy night many years ago. Today, my stepson, Elijah, performs magic tricks in front of that same bar with a little hat and collects money from passersby, fifty cents a trick. Fiona is greeted with hoots and hollers from the regulars as she skips in. Captain Kai beckons her to pull his white beard and Gaz starts a debate about the proper name for crisps. They’re called po-ta-to chips, Fiona insists. Bernard makes a joke from behind the bar about kids not being allowed in this establishment and naughty grins spread across the children’s faces.

We live in Fell’s Point, an old waterfront town founded by ship builders, home for centuries to the tobacco, flour, and coffee trades and miraculously avoided by the Baltimore Fire of 1904. Over 200 years, scores of immigrants have built a life here and have come together to create a community rich with culture and diversity. In the 70s, we almost lost Fell’s Point to a highway, but locals rose up and fought for years to save this magical place. And they won. I hadn’t even been born then, but the men and women who spearheaded that revolt still live here. We know them, hang out with them, and are grateful beyond words for their efforts. We just celebrated Bob’s 83rd birthday at Tony and Laura’s house. Fiona wore a fancy dress for the occasion.

But this place we love, that they fought for, isn’t perfect. I know a day will come when we’ll have to explain to our children why one of our neighbors acts differently from one day to the next. Substance abuse, we’ll explain, changes a person. A homeless man rants at his station outside of the coffee shop, scaring the tourists, but we know better. His name is Mike and he wouldn’t hurt a fly. He suffers from mental illness, we’ll tell the kids, and he deserves our kindness. These lessons are real and raw and they are right in front of us.

These people who have become ingrained in the fiber of our everyday, the shop owners, the men selling roses, the homeless, they aren’t people we see at natural parenting playgroups or soccer practice. We don’t meet at 4pm on Tuesday. We live our lives alongside each other, with each other. We don’t share a background, political ideology or age. We share something much deeper and more permanent. We share a place.

We don’t choose who we run into on the way to pick up groceries, who moves in next door, or which children happen to be at the park in the afternoon. But it’s in the not choosing that we find something beautiful. This city, our home, has created a tapestry richer with community and history than one we could have ever woven on our own. And for that, we do choose to stay.

My Children's Art Prints at aMuse!

I am so excited to announce that my children's art prints are now available at my favorite (and local!) toy store, aMuse! They are currently carrying my Transportation Series and we have big plans to expand the line to other prints and products. Oh, the possibilities! I love that my prints are alongside so many of our favorite picture books. It bordered on embarrassing how many times Fiona exclaimed, "We have this book!" (I can't help myself!)

The girls and I stopped by the Quarry Lake location today to visit and check out the display (and the toys, obviously!) and we arrived just in time for Story Time! The girls were excited and we will definitely attend again. It is held every Tuesday at 11am if your kids love books as much as mine do.

I think Fiona and Elsa would agree that there are some major perks to having a Mama working with aMuse!

Fiona's Comic

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I just posted this to Instagram, but the small image really didn't do it justice. Fiona and I worked on creating some comics a bit today after she's shown an interest in Toon Books, even asking, Mama, can I have a million comics? Can I have all the comics in the world? Being the sucker that I am (with a very weak spot for books, and a very very week spot for books with pictures...), I said of course, and now comics are the new thing around here.

All I did was create the comic storyboard template and let her go to town. She came up with the story, images and words, just asking for help with spelling. When she finished drawing and writing, she asked me to color it in for her and I obliged. As usual, I am blown away by Fiona's work. I am so amazed that this tiny person has such big ideas.

(The comic goes like this: First, a mama fairy and her daughters are hanging out, then an evil witch zaps the mama. The daughters say, "Oh no!" and, "She's hurt!" Then the mama feels better and the daughters say, "Mommy! You're better!" and the mama says "Oh thank you, kids!" And the evil witch says "Hmph!")

My Print Included in Oh Joy for Nod!

Photo by Sasha Gulish for The Land of Nod

I am so excited to share with all of you a project that I've been looking forward to for some time. The Oh Joy for Nod kids' bedding and decor collection was released last week and included is my very own illustration, Car Love. See it up there, directly above the yellow bed and below the adorable collection of moths? I can hardly believe it. To have a piece of mine selected by Joy and carried by The Land of Nod is huge!

Head over to The Land of Nod to explore the whole collection, or learn more about the inspiration for the collection on Oh Joy!

Fiona's Art Shop

We invited family over this weekend to celebrate Fiona's birthday with a morning of food and art. Fiona has been planning and dreaming for months about selling her artwork at an art fair, so for her birthday, we made it happen.

I bought some blank cards and envelopes, set out our usual art supplies of graphite pencils, colored pencils, beeswax crayons and watercolors, then Fiona, along with her siblings and cousins, created designs on the blank cards. When they were finished with their cards, we tied a little string with a tag with the artist's name on each. After cake and singing, the adults were invited to purchase cards for a quarter each.

Fiona loved it. I have a feeling this isn't her last fair.

Family, food and art. Ah yes, good stuff.