Happy 12th Birthday, Evelyn!

Dear Evelyn,

Today, the day before your twelfth birthday, I was shopping at the grocery store for a few odds and ends, and I suddenly heard the screams of an unhappy toddler. I spotted his young mom; she was deploying all the old tricks to get her son to calm down. Nothing was working, even scooping him up and cuddling him close against her, all while she pushed the cart further past the cereals and canned goods. As she got closer to where I stood, considering chocolate chip options, we made eye contact. She grimaced and said, “I just can’t win.”

In that moment, seeing this young mom with her first child, barely hanging on during an interminable-though-as-fast-as-she-could-accomplish-it grocery trip, I felt transported back to when you were that tiny. And although it’s a cliche, I felt like it was just last week….

I remember shopping in Pathmark in Newark, pushing a cart full of food and just praying that you’d hold it together until I could check out and get you home. There were more than a few times that I wrapped up shopping while you squawked and screeched and screamed your way through the aisles.


Swimming on the Routeburn Track with Dad in January 2016.


My beautiful girl on the Routeburn Track, January 2016.

The last few days leading up to your twelfth birthday I saw babies everywhere. At cafes, in parks, at the grocery store, in prams and carriers and held, in carseats and bouncy seats and bike seats. I spotted nursing babies and crying babies, toddling babies and grinning babies, babies in various states of meltdown and curiosity and delightfulness.

When I see these random babies who I’ll probably never see again, I see you. I see your beautiful eyes as they are now, smaller but just as expressive, but in your baby face. I see your dark brown fuzzy hair, long before it was thick and long enough to give us both headaches. These babies are snapshots of the shortest, fastest (and slowest) days of my life, when nursing, changing diapers, kissing toes, doing endless laundry, singing silly songs, soothing midnight crying jags, and feeling amazing love for another tiny person filled my whole existence.

bowl hat

A bowl hat, early 2005.

Never have I felt prouder than I do at who you are, who you’re becoming. Your sincerity as a child has blossomed into a deep, abiding integrity. Your concern for others enriches our family and your friendships. And while I sometimes still wish you’d fall in line and go along with things more easily, your intelligent, creative approach to life is serving you well and I trust will continue to do so as you grow up even more.

Charlotte and Calvin both look up to you, and in the past year in New Zealand, you’ve totally stepped up and become a mature help to your dad and I. Not everyone may “get” your personality, but the people–teachers, friends, neighbors, family–who do “get” you adore you.


At a family wedding, October 2014.

DSC07320 - Edited

Walking Calvin to his first school disco, April 2016.

I admire so many things about you and feel incredibly thankful that you joined our family in 2004; it is truly a gift to get to walk alongside you as you continue to grow and learn and inhabit the world. Happy 12th birthday, my compassionate, vegetarian, tall, brilliant, socially-conscious, funny, and slightly irreverent Evelyn.



me and Ev

Morning Tea Cookies

After visiting an early childhood center in New Zealand, where we’re living for the next 8 months, I asked Calvin if he’s excited about the presence of LEGOs in the preschool room.

Calvin: “Yes! Very excited.”

Me: “Why might little LEGOs have to stay in the big kids’ room?”

Calvin: “Because little kids and babies might put them in my mouth.”

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Burger by Charlotte

8.5 years old, done in art class

8.5 years old, done in art class

Artist’s statement: The assignment was to make a burger. I wanted it to be different from the other artists’ because everyone else was doing a hamburger or chicken nuggets. So I decided to do a tofu-burger with salad, cheese, ketchup, mustard, and a bun. I am proud of this piece of art because the colors and the why of how I did it–I want to be different.

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Familyship: A new blog about our family’s move to New Zealand

In less than two weeks we are moving to New Zealand for a year’s academic sabbatical. We will be on the South Island for 7 months and on the North Island for about 1 month before returning to the states in spring 2016.

While I plan on maintaining this blog with quotes from the kids, most of the new content will appear on our new family blog: Familyship, another wordpress site. Feel free to check things out over there and follow along if you like!

Summer’s Here

Blowing bubbles

Blowing bubbles

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Use Your Noisemaker

Calvin (4.5yo), hand on his throat: “You know we have a noisemaker inside our throats. That makes messages to help us talk.”

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Charlotte (8yo): “I didn’t *throw* it. I dropped it with FORCE.”

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