this morning

But today is not a day for picnics.  The new grass pokes out from the snow.  My Pompie used to say that it always snows once on the robin’s back.  That’s what I am told.  I don’t remember.

It is oatmeal for breakfast, still (often followed by eggs).  Reed out-eats me every morning.  This morning he has my phone beside him to listen to a Harry Potter audiobook while he eats.  He is always listening to something.  And Helen is wearing an over-sized dish towel on her back.  A super-hero.  She has a scrape on her nose from falling on the sidewalk.  It kind of suits her.

limitation as inspiration

impromptu parkway breakfast picnic
We don’t have much of a yard, and I don’t love everything about that.   But I do like that having little gives you an opportunity to use what you have, really use it.  I find that I do*.  It’s like, if you need soil and are given a field to dig it from, you don’t think much about it.  But if you just have a little 2×2 plot?  You dig deep.

Limitation forces you to dig deep.

Anyway, on warm mornings, we find ourselves bringing our oatmeal to the parkway for a little breakfast picnic.  And I want to remember those mornings.


*Note: I wish I were so good at using every inch of a small house well, but that is another post.

our spring

a nice stick


helen followed suitWe had an honest Wisconsin winter, and now it looks like we will have an honest spring to follow.  Springs are brief, here, a sliver between the cold and the heat.  But it is a good sliver, like a sliver of cake after a long meal.

There are fair days behind and fair days ahead, and after breakfast, we can wrap some sandwiches in a kitchen towel, set off on foot, and not return home until mid-afternoon naps.  The banks are low at the river, perfect for climbing down and throwing sticks.  The ground is dry enough for picnics.  Our legs are eager to walk and walk and walk.

That is how spring looks best to me: walking, food eaten outdoors, plants and plants and plants.

The house is slowly shifting.  I am eager to put the tub of hats, scarves, mittens, snow boots out of sight, replace it with baseball caps, umbrellas, and picnic blankets.  But this is Wisconsin, and I can count on a few days of cold ahead.  Ditto to the wool blankets (I would love to get a good spring blanket like this).

Meanwhile we throw our sticks in the river.  We walk.  We practice our manners.  While I put Margot down to nap, Reed borrows my phone to listen to The Sorcerer’s stone.  Helen watches the record player spin and sings along.  We eat and eat.

I have three young kids.  Even the smallest cracks in my day are filled.  And I do wish I had time for the things I don’t make time for.  Organizing (never my strong suit).  Correspondences (grandparents, old friends).  Sewing (an aspiration, not a skill).  But another way of saying that my days are filled up is to say that I have a full life.  And I do.  I’ve made a full life for myself.  I’m proud of that.  I’m proud to spend my days walking with my children, reading Stuart Little, answering questions like “Cat or kangaroo?”  I’m proud to fry eggs and swing Helen onto my back.  I’m proud to write and do database homework and dishes.

It’s a full life and it will be a full spring.  Let me know what your spring is full of.  I’d love to hear it.


to Margot, on her first birthday

Margot Louise Whitlock
MargotThe night you were born, I wasn’t ready.  “Not tonight,” I thought as I lay down to sleep.  “Not tonight.”  There was so much I wanted to do before you came.

But then you did come.  And it was just right.  Of course it was.  You know what you were about, Margot.  I like that about you.

The thing they don’t tell you about babies is how they change before your eyes.  For months you will have a newborn and then (so quickly! maybe over the course of a week) the newness of the baby fades and they grow into something new right in front of you.  These last few days have been one of those shifts.  Suddenly you are older, always exploring, always playing, and always talking and dancing and building.  You’ve got spark.

Thanks for this year, Margot.  We have all loved sharing it with you.

You are going to love being a one-year-old.



Weekend Breakfast

Margot has been crawling for a couple months, but today was the first day she got speed enough to follow me around the house. She is delighted with herself, and spends most of her time crawling after me with a hammy smile. Like it’s what she has been wanting to do this whole time.  I think it probably is.

Margot is a mover and a thinker.  She likes to be in on the fun.  She is almost one now, and it is beginning to feel like it.  It’s a good feeling.  Celebratory.  That second year is such a big one and such a favorite.

I know birthdays are supposed to be bittersweet for mothers.  I’m sure someday they will be.  But for now, I love them.  I love watching my kids grow older, and I like growing older myself.  It’s more life, right?  And I’m always ready for it.

Margot the one-year-old.  I’m ready.


late winter light

We brought two prisms and hung them- one in the kitchen for morning light, one upstairs for afternoon.  We catch the rainbows in our hands, make them dance.  Reed says we need one for every room, and I agree.  I agree heartily.

Enjoyment, fun, beauty: we over-complicate them.  Balls and blocks are the best toys, and yardless, my kids are happy to circle the house again and again, hunting bugs, jumping in puddles.  And me, I like prisms that make tiny rainbows on my kitchen walls.  Playing records.

Enjoyment, fun, beauty: I forget to find these things and try to buy them.  I forget to light the candles.  I never forget to check my e-mail.

Maybe someday the wind will blow the other direction.  Today I will order seeds.  I will remember to buy snapdragons in every color.