Today, Fiona is five. We wish her happy, peaceful days. We wish her new discoveries and exciting adventures. We wish her hours and hours of drawing and dreaming. Most of all, we wish her to know how deeply loved and cherished she is. Happy Birthday, Fiona.
Sweet Elsa, my baby, turned two last weekend. I love two. There is nothing like the experience of watching a human being unfold before your eyes. At two, that unfolding seems to ramp up. Every moment reveals something new. Oh, so this is what you're like! I find myself thinking daily, hourly even.
What are you like, Elsa? Well, you are very silly. You make the craziest, most exaggerated expressions, sending your family into hysterical laughter many times every day. You know how funny you are. When you smile, your mouth takes up your entire face. It is the best. We have long and complex conversations. You can be very serious when you are explaining something, furrowing your brow and responding with a clipped, "yup" when I show that I understand. You love to help. You are the first to jump up and sweep or put toys away, singing our clean up song while you work. Tick tock goes the clock, what does it have to say?
I often watch while you play quietly and am so comforted by what I see: Your dollhouse Mama is so tender with her dollhouse baby, you love to carry your baby dolls around (up, up) and make them their favorite meal of cookies and grapes, you even take your stuffed animals for long walks around the house. To see this beautiful world expressed through your play fills up my heart and reminds me that this life we share is deeply good, and full of so much love.
Happy birthday, Elsa. You make us all so happy. We love you.
I'm a little late posting this, but what's new? Elijah turned nine on Halloween. We had a small gathering of friends at our house for pizza, cake, and trick or treating. Each year on his birthday, Elijah brings together both sets of parents, three little sisters and friends from school with such grace; One moment joking with a boy his age, the next picking up his baby sister.
Loving, funny, smart, and gloriously silly. We love you, Eli. Next year, double digits. Oh my.
I have spent the last few days settling in after what must have been a dream: A Taproot Gathering at Squam. Did that happen? Yes. There are pictures to prove it.
The retreat was so much more than the sum of it's parts. It was more than interesting classes, beautiful scenery and a break from daily stresses. It was calm, quiet and gentle. It was fun and exhilarating. I had the pleasure to meet some beautiful people who I had previously only known through a screen. I took sweet Phoebe's class, A Return to Play. I made a little doll, but took away so much more. Sitting around a table chatting and laughing with these lovely women, while hand stitching little dolls and creatures without judgement was the perfect way to spend a day.
I do think the most meaningful moments happened outside the structure of the retreat, during passing conversations, shared meals and in cabins by the fire. My roommate, Shannon, was a perfect companion during the days I was there. She was thoughtful, funny and kind. I do think I've made a new forever friend. Everyone I spent time with was clearly there to connect. The conversations were real and meaningful. I even had a few conversations with Amanda. I've followed her since I became a mother and meeting her was so special. She was just as lovely as you would expect. A calm and gentle presence. Our other host, Elizabeth, was warm, welcoming and exuberant.
I have always been a grounded person, not easily swept up into the feeling of a place, especially if it's a 'zen' feeling. I wondered whether that quality would stand in the way of fully experiencing a retreat like this. Would everyone else 'get it', and I'd be left out? Would it be magical to others, but simply a change of scenery and some fun classes to me? Well, I am here to say that there was something magical happening there. There was a kindredness I felt very much a part of. It was simple and special and just what I needed.
And after all that, I am so very happy to be home with my people, with a renewed sense of peace and purpose and connectedness. The world is a wondrous place and I feel so lucky to have experienced one more magical piece of it.
Next, I'll have to share with you a bit about the Squam Art Fair. I was a vendor (for the first time)!
Today is your first day of school. I sent you off into a new world to create a life in which I am not front and center. You will build close relationships with your teachers and new friends. You are joyful and carefree and ready for new adventures. You ran ahead of me through the hall and I walked behind you and watched. When Daddy, Elsa and I arrived in your classroom, you had already put on your apron and started shaping dough into balls. Your class will have the rolls for snack this morning. I came in and knelt next to you and asked you some questions then helped you wash your hands and get your hat on to go join the other kids outside. You were so ready for your school day to begin, but didn't rush me out. I think, in your wise, young heart, you knew your Mama needed to linger a bit.
Since your birth, you have been my constant companion and my partner in life. We have spent most of our time together doing everyday kinds of things. Taking walks, getting coffee, preparing and eating meals, straightening the house, talking and playing. We will still do all of that together, but not quite as much. You are branching out and your world is getting larger. While I know this is a natural and beautiful part of life, it is still hard. There is a part of me that wants you to never leave my side. A part of me that mourns your babyhood when you were in my arms more hours than not. A part of me that knows that I can only revisit those times in my own mind, because while that experience lives through you in your joy and confidence, the memories will fade for you. You will grow up and make new memories and new relationships. You will build a life, and one day build a family of your own. But for me, being a Mama to you and your brother and sister will continue to be the single greatest joy of my life and the greatest gift I've ever been given. Becoming a mother, in so many ways, is when my life began.
You won't read this until you are much older and you may not fully understand it until you have your own children. My sincerest wish is that we give you the love and support you need to build a joyful life that fulfills you deeply. I hope to keep you close while not holding on too tight. Just know that I am here. I will always be here, cheering you on with pride, joy and a little bit of an ache in my heart. You are everything to me Fiona. I love you so very much. I hope you have fun at school today.
This summer will be one I remember. The earth is shifting under my feet and I alternate between wishing it would stop for a moment and being ready for the next phase already. As a family, we've made some big changes in course and I'm still adjusting to our new path.
The biggest shift, and the one on my mind most these days, is that Fiona will be starting school in the Fall. I am excited and terrified at once, and I'm not sure I can articulate my thoughts on this well. We planned to homeschool for a long time, but have changed our minds. When Sheldon and I added up the pieces of our life–who we are, who our children are, where we live, what we do–then added a bit of what's your gut telling you? to the mix, the answer came back clear. We will be sending Fiona to The Waldorf School of Baltimore three days a week in the Fall, along with Elijah. They are both so, so thrilled. I feel that this will be a beautiful thing for our family and is the right path for us. That said, I know the adjustment won't be easy and I fully expect to be holding back tears when I drop her off that first day. My girl is growing up. Our family is growing up.
Change is not my most comfortable state, being the grounded, practical person that I am, but when I look into the eyes of my children, or watch them play or draw or learn to ride a bike, time really does stand still for a moment. I will find my peace there.
The other night before bed, Fiona dictated her list of life plans to Sheldon. Her list is so, so beautiful.
- Grow up
- Get married
- Have a baby
- Be a designer
- Be so happy
- Go to sleep
- Wake up
Oh, my heart. All your dreams will come true, baby girl, but do your Mama a favor and don't grow up quite yet. Let's just dance here for a while.
Now please excuse me while I post seven thousand pictures of my children.
Reading all the truly kind comments on the House Love giveaway post blew me away. Trying new things and putting myself out there isn't always easy, but it's so incredibly worth it. I feel proud of what House Love has become, and to see that all of you are proud of me, too... well, my heart is swelling and I feel so incredibly grateful for your support. That post will be bookmarked for a long time. For moments when I feel discouraged or overwhelmed, your thoughts will remind me that what I have going is pretty great. To be able to contribute to my family financially while staying home with my children, doing something I enjoy, something that means something to people, well, I can't really ask for more. Thank you, thank you, thank you. You all are a big part of why my world really is a lovely place to be.