Spreading their wings

My summer is coming to an end as I find myself back at work, beginning to prepare for the upcoming school year. Reflecting on this past month, I can’t help but think that this summer marked something special on my journey as a mother. It was one of those barely perceivable shifts, the kind that…

My summer is coming to an end as I find myself back at work, beginning to prepare for the upcoming school year. Reflecting on this past month, I can’t help but think that this summer marked something special on my journey as a mother. It was one of those barely perceivable shifts, the kind that can pass you right by while your busy driving the kids to soccer, making school lunches and trying to get everyone out the door in the morning. Perhaps that’s why it took a break to notice what was happening all around us. July in Northern Michigan offers that break. There is no where to be, no schedule, no busy calendar of events. The days role out with a gentle rhythm of play, whether it be board games, boat rides or backyard badminton. The shift that I noticed is one that has left me incredibly emotional, prone to pouring over family photo albums and remembering when my boys were just wee babies. This summer was the summer they spread their wings. They have a newfound independence and confidence that comes from a combination of age and an incredible year of school under their belts. I watched my son ride his two-wheel bike down the lane by himself. I said goodbye as the boys ran out of the house and over to their friend’s house. I buckled them in and waved goodbye as they drove away, off for a day’s adventure with my younger brother. I beamed with pride as they explored new hobbies with passion, Vik falling especially hard for the sport of golf and Vijay displaying bravery with his tubing skills. My boys still need me, of course. There are meals to make, and scraped knees to bandage, clothes to wash and sandy bodies to scrub clean. And luckily each night they still love nothing more than snuggling close together while we read. But things are changing, as they do every single day in this journey we call motherhood. I remember when I used to long for a moment when a little body wasn’t needing my attention, and now I find myself practically tackling them with hugs and cuddles at every turn. I also remember feeling particularly crabby when older mother’s told me wistfully how fast the time flies (this was when the days seemed to drag and the nights were sleepless and there were endless diapers to change). And yet they were right. They were so very right.  Vik turned five while we were in Michigan and we celebrated with a big party, attended by all of the friends my boys have grown up with in the summers. I am so incredibly thankful for the gift of Northern Michigan, and for our time there every summer. I find it hard to put into words how restful, restorative and magical our time at the lake is for our whole family. It is a chance for my children to grow closer to their grandparents, aunts and uncles. It is a time for us all to have a break from work, camp, school and the general busyness of our “real life.” Mostly it is a chance to be together, in a setting that is too beautiful for words. And for those of you that have followed this unfolding story I wanted to let you know that my mom is doing so well. She is back to having a sparkle in her eye and a spring in her step. She is back to gardening and drawing, hiking and biking, and generally living her life with joy. It is nothing short of a miracle, friends. This coming year promises so much more growth. There will be a busy school year with new teachers and friends. There’s always so much to learn, and such room to grow. I plan to head into this year with the intention of enjoying it all; the busy moments, and the quiet ones. I plan to hold tight to my dear, sweet boys while at the same time watching with awe as they spread their wings.

First Day of School

It kinda blows my mind how much my boys have grown and changed over the past year.  They are like these little men, tan and lanky, full of mischief, brimming with confidence.  Vijay is starting preschool today, and he’ll be attending three mornings a week.  He’s pumped to be back in school!  Today was his…

_MG_8089It kinda blows my mind how much my boys have grown and changed over the past year.  They are like these little men, tan and lanky, full of mischief, brimming with confidence.  Vijay is starting preschool today, and he’ll be attending three mornings a week.  He’s pumped to be back in school!  Today was his first day and he was all, “Let’s DO this!”  Vik will officially start next week, though he had his orientation yesterday and loved it.  He’ll be attending two mornings a week.  I am looking forward to having one-on-one time with both of them this year while the other is in school.  In the afternoons, I will go to work and my husband will take over.  It is going to be a juggling act to be sure, but we’re both excited to spend lots of quality time with the boys.  These years are flying by so quickly, and we want to be home together as much as possible while we can.

Just for reference, below is the picture from last year- all nervous smiles from Vijay and relative clueless smiles from Vik!  I swear they have both grown about 5 feet since last year (check out their heads in relation to the mail slot!)…how I’ll keep enough food in the house come their teenage years, I have no clue 😉

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Vik Turns 3!

My baby turned three this past week.  WHAT?  Three years old, I can hardly believe it.  He is such a little man, probably due to the fact that he is constantly trying to keep up with his older brother.  He is such an incredibly calm spirit with a determination and grit that is well beyond…

_MG_7204My baby turned three this past week.  WHAT?  Three years old, I can hardly believe it.  He is such a little man, probably due to the fact that he is constantly trying to keep up with his older brother.  He is such an incredibly calm spirit with a determination and grit that is well beyond his years, and for such a young boy he is so very self assured.  He amazes me every single day and it is a privilege to be his mama.  It was such a joy to shower him with love for his birthday!

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_MG_6978I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating…we are so lucky to spend out summers on this little lane of ours.  We’ve known all the families on the lane for twenty years now, and many of them have been here for generations before us.  They all look forward to Vik’s party every summer, and I love knowing that he’ll grow up celebrating with this wonderful group of people.  We kept the party centered around old-fashion fun: sack races, pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey, Simon Says, clothespin in the bottle drop, face painting and of course, a pinata.  We made finger sandwiches, cut up a few big watermelons, and made mini-chocolate cupcakes.  Everyone had a blast, Vik especially.  Happy birthday my sweet boy…we love you so!

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Brothers

Two weeks ago we moved Vik’s crib into Vijay’s room.  The boys have been asking to share a room for the past few months, and with everyone having established solid sleep habits, we decided to give it a shot.  It has been one of the sweetest things I have witnessed as a mother.  Once I…

brothersTwo weeks ago we moved Vik’s crib into Vijay’s room.  The boys have been asking to share a room for the past few months, and with everyone having established solid sleep habits, we decided to give it a shot.  It has been one of the sweetest things I have witnessed as a mother.  Once I tuck them both in, I often stand outside their door for a few minutes and listen to their conversations, which mostly revolve around potty humor.  It usually takes at least two or three warnings before they finally settle in and fall asleep- first they have to chat, then they toss things from the bed to the crib, occasionally we hear the patter of little feet as Vijay sneaks out of bed to grab more books or retrieve a pillow he tossed at Vik.  When they hear us coming up the stairs to tell them to quiet down, they dive under their covers and hide, giggling non-stop.

The truth is that these boys have a special relationship.  It’s as close-knit as I’ve seen between siblings, and I think that is due to two things: being so close in age and always being together.  It’s also due to their personalities; Vijay loves being a big brother and has never, not even once, displayed signs of jealousy towards Vik.  He seemed to understand as soon as Vik was born that his job was to be an older brother, and take care of him.  He takes that job seriously.  Vijay started school this past fall, and only attends two mornings a week.  So other than that, the boys are always, always together and have been since the moment Vik was born.  I’m not great at organizing playdates or meeting up with other moms- we kind of make our days up as we go.  We are always out and about, at the children’s museum, library or gymnastics, but it’s always the three of us, which means the boys have become their own best friends.  Things will be changing soon enough as Vijay’s school days ramp up next year, and Vik starts preschool.  My emotions are running high these days as it feels like we are nearing the end of an era.  I’ve been at home with the boys for over four years now and that might be changing in the near future as well.  Things are shifting- it is all good- but I’m holding on to this time we have together, appreciative of every moment, even the frustrating and tiring moments.

The boy’s room is a work in progress- it’s very simple, just Vijay’s bed, Vik’s crib, a small shared dresser, and a bookshelf.  I’d love to get bunk beds once they are big enough- I know they’d have a blast with that.  But for now…it is perfect.

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P.S. For those of you in other parts of the country flaunting pictures of blooming trees and bright sunny skies, I’m going to need you to cut that out.  Here’s a little snapshot of what we’re enjoying here on the East Coast.  I know….life isn’t fair, but do you have to rub it in?  🙂  We had another epic snowstorm last week, though this weekend the sun peeked through and started melting the snow.  Though we’ve got a long way to go until spring.

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2014: A Look Back

Happy New Year!  I hope you welcomed 2015 in style.  I was in bed, wearing a ratty bathrobe and sound asleep by midnight but we did enjoy a big family dinner where we all got dressed up and ate some fabulous food.  All in all, it was perfect.  I hadn’t planned on looking back at…

_MG_6077Happy New Year!  I hope you welcomed 2015 in style.  I was in bed, wearing a ratty bathrobe and sound asleep by midnight but we did enjoy a big family dinner where we all got dressed up and ate some fabulous food.  All in all, it was perfect.  I hadn’t planned on looking back at the year that was…but I thought that such a year required a bit of reflection and as I scrolled back through my posts, month by month, it occurred to me that 2014 was quite a year.  Settle in…this is a length one!

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Screen Shot 2014-01-24 at 1.59.02 PMJanuary: We kicked off the year by spending a month in India and Bhutan.  It was truly the trip of a lifetime and remains my most cherished memory of the year.  When I returned home, I launched my first pop-up shop, which was super fun.  That led to selling my wares at Squam and another pop-up shop later in the year.  I’d love to do more of these in 2015!

_MG_7396February: We renovated our cold, dark attic and turned it into a light-filled studio where I spend my working hours writing, photographing, sewing and knitting.  This place is my sanctuary.

_MG_8010March: I finished my first real sweater, Antler, with short rows and shaping and all those knitterly things that I have come to know and love through the course of this year.  This sweater remains my greatest knitting achievement and my most worn handmade piece.

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_MG_9210April: We spent the most heavenly ten days in Dominican Republic with my parents and younger brother.  It was the perfect break from the freezing spring that we were experiencing back in Rhode Island.  Luckily, we made it home in time to catch the blossoms.  The weeks where our beautiful town is in bloom are always some of my favorite of the year.

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PROMO-IMAGE-PITCH-PERFECT-THE-ART-WIDE-700-WEBMay: I made my yearly pilgrimage to Brimfield Antique Show.  I think I bought $2 worth of quilt scraps, but my favorite part is taking pictures of all the interesting things you find at the show.  It is always sensory overload, but I can’t help being pulled back year after year.  I also kept busy teaching Pitch Perfect, which was such an amazing experience.  I will be teaching the course again this year, online through Squam.  I can’t wait to tell you more about it soon!

_MG_0210June: Ahhh, June.  The weather is finally warm, and I take my yearly getaway to Squam.  I always look forward to my time here, and every year I am so grateful that I get to be a part of this amazing community of makers.

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_MG_2646July: My most favorite month of the year!  Every year we spend the entire month in Northern Michigan with my family (I even wrote a guide to the area here).  It is a true old-fashioned summer; swimming in the lake, playing on the beach, visiting the dunes, riding bikes into town for ice cream, spending time in nature, watching my boys running wild and free with the kids along our dirt lane, learning to water ski, eating our weight in cherries….the stuff of life.  Northern Michigan, specifically our family cottage on Torch Lake, is my happy place.  And how lucky is Vik that he gets to celebrate his birthday “Up North?”  It is my most favorite place in the whole world and we are so darn lucky to spend our summers there.

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_MG_3163August: It is all about the garden in August.  All the good stuff is ready to harvest, including cherry tomatoes, my favorite.  You can feel summer beginning to wane in August, and that is always bittersweet, but August holds such beauty that it is worth staying in the moment.

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_MG_5473September: What a busy month, full of new experiences.  Vijay started school, which was very tough emotionally for both of us but has turned out to be the best thing we could have ever hoped for.  I started contributing to Gardenista, which has been such a privilege and has given me the chance to explore some amazing gardens and shops.  My husband and I went on an overnight trip to Vermont, our first time as a couple ever away from the kids for a night.  And I made a quick trip to Squam, arriving just in time for the fair and a day of relaxing.  Yes, we were on the move in September! I also made reading a priority again, and you all chimed in with amazing suggestions.  I’ve been making my way through the list and have yet to be disappointed.  Expect plenty more book reviews in 2015.

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_MG_7267October: As we settled into our new school routine, which consists of preschool on Tuesday and Thursday morning, we also celebrated Vijay’s fourth birthday with all of his sweet classmates, and the local fire station.  It was a PARTY!

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_MG_8634November: What a gorgeous fall we were blessed with in Rhode Island.  It was sunny and sparkling almost every day, and the leaves were absolutely riotous.  I paid a visit to Tower Hill Botanic Garden for Gardenista and had the most amazing time wondering around their fall gardens.  I also finished my favorite sewn wardrobe addition…this quilted vest from The Purl Bee.

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_MG_0093December: Here I thought December was such a slow and peaceful month, but we traveled to Chicago for Thanksgiving (returning the 1st of December), then I took off for Martha’s Vineyard to finish up a few book details, and after decking out our own small tree, we packed up and headed to Michigan for Christmas and the New Year.

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sewnAll in all, it was an amazing year.  In addition to all of our travels and all the excitement, it was the year that I felt my work life finally dropped into place.  I was hard at work on my second book, which is so near and dear to my heart, I contributed regularly to Edible Rhody and Gardenista, I taught Pitch Perfect, and launched a few pop-up shops.  2015 is going to be filled with even greater accomplishments…I can feel it and it makes me so very excited.  2014 was also the year of making…between sewing and knitting I pretty much have made a complete wardrobe, and with each piece I gain a better understanding of my fit and personal style.  Above are just a few of my favorite makes of 2014.

I try to keep this a place of positivity and beauty, so it is interesting to scroll through these posts and see so many of the harder emotional things missing.  But it is also a beautiful reminder of how much we have to be thankful for and how unbelievably blessed we are as a family.  If 2015 is half as gorgeous, we’re in for a great year!  And after that look back, I’m excited to move forward.

Vijay’s Birthday Bash

There is nothing cuter than a four year old boy…and nothing more exhausting!  In case you didn’t know, four year olds are the smartest people in the world, and can do everything themselves!  Although he tests our patience daily, Vijay is still the light of our lives, and it was our greatest pleasure to throw…

_MG_7267There is nothing cuter than a four year old boy…and nothing more exhausting!  In case you didn’t know, four year olds are the smartest people in the world, and can do everything themselves!  Although he tests our patience daily, Vijay is still the light of our lives, and it was our greatest pleasure to throw him a big bash over the weekend to celebrate his fourth birthday.  After a week of dreariness and rain, the clouds parted, the sun shown down, and we were gifted the most beautiful day.  The pictures don’t do it justice- the sunlight was gorgeous and dappled, and I only managed a few snaps during the party, but I simply had to share.  My baby’s four…and that is something!

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IMG_3449What started out as a small party- you know, let’s just invite preschool friends and neighbors- blossomed to quite a crowd.  Luckily we had a firetruck, a cappella group, balloon artist, pinata and face painter, not to mention a full catered Indian lunch, 100 mini cupcakes, and the coolest cake ever (yup, I made that sucker!) to keep everyone entertained.  It was a great day, and it was the first year that Vijay understood that a birthday party equals presents and sweets, so he was totally pumped.

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_MG_7278The funniest moment of the party had to have been rounding the corner to find my dad fully decked out in the fireman’s gear.  He was so excited.  “Take my picture.  This one’s going in the office.”  I guess you never grow out of the fireman fantasy!  As we were snapping pictures, their unit got a call.  The firemen quickly rustled my dad out of their uniform, jumped onto the truck, flicked on the sirens and peeled out of the party.  The kids went nuts.  We couldn’t have planned it any better!

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First Day of School

Oh my goodness you guys, this picture is everything.  My heart bursts open in a million pieces when I see it.  A million, trillion pieces. This is my boys to a T.  That is Vijay’s nervous smile, while Vik is just super excited thinking he is going to school along with his brother.  The socks…

_MG_4597Oh my goodness you guys, this picture is everything.  My heart bursts open in a million pieces when I see it.  A million, trillion pieces.

This is my boys to a T.  That is Vijay’s nervous smile, while Vik is just super excited thinking he is going to school along with his brother.  The socks and Crocs look is 100% my boys- nothing but high fashion around these parts.  Vijay loves shirts with construction and the phrase couldn’t be more fitting- “One Man Wrecking Crew.”  I wish I could tell you every detail of his first day of preschool- it was one part tragedy, one part comedy.  But we all made it through mostly unscathed, and I have to say, Vik and I had the best little mama/son date during the time Vij was at school, though he kept asking about Vijay.  “Vijay crying?” he kept wondering.  He was very worried about his brother.  Today was the second day of school, and my husband rode with him to school.  They made it halfway, then I had to pick them up because Vijay was tired and needed a snack.  Oh these boys…they are too much.  I’m sorry if this post is a jumble of thoughts- I am running to pick up Vijay from school, and packing for Squam (I leave later today), and I am still processing all my mother emotions.  But I wanted to stop in and wish everyone a wonderful weekend.  I hope the first week back to school was smooth for everyone, or at least a bit smoother than ours.  We’re getting there, though!  It’s a process, right!?  Right??

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Vik Turns 2!

Here’s the thing about Vik- we could have simply given him a lollypop and called it a day, and he would have been pleased as punch (I mean, do you see that smile?).  But really, where’s the fun in that!?  This past week we threw a blow-out birthday bash here at the cottage in what…

_MG_2646Here’s the thing about Vik- we could have simply given him a lollypop and called it a day, and he would have been pleased as punch (I mean, do you see that smile?).  But really, where’s the fun in that!?  This past week we threw a blow-out birthday bash here at the cottage in what is now becoming an annual event.  The neighborhood kids began asking us about the party the very first week we arrived- I guess it made quite an impression last time around!

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_MG_2617And so we made sure to really outdo ourselves this time around- with a big ole’ monkey pinata, finger sandwiches, lots of tiny homemade chocolate cupcakes, party games, and face painting.  Our poor kids- one day when they are forced to have a small, reserved party they are going to be all, “Is this what you call a party?”  Indeed, we have spoiled them rotten.  But you only turn two once, so why not live it up!

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_MG_2573In addition to the splendor of Northern Michigan that I am always raving about, we are so blessed to have grown up spending summers on this particular lane in this particular small lake town.  Our lane is a tiny unpaved road, with about 12 cottages- and up until a couple years ago when a new family bought a place here- we were still considered the “new kids on the block.”  And that’s after 20 years of having a place here!!  Most of the cottages on our lane have been in the same family for three- four generations.  That means that everyone here grew up spending summers together, as did their parents, and grandparents.  I get a bit misty eyed when I see the new generation of kids- mine included- running wild through the yards, popping into different houses to play, sharing snacks, and learning to water ski.  It’s my greatest hope that they all grow up together- spending summers at their grandparents, and year after year, helping my precious little Vik ring in a new year in style.

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Grass River Nature Preserve

On good boating days there is nothing we love more than piling in the ski boat and making the short, 15 minute ride to Grass River.  We kill the wake and drift slowly down the river, keeping our eyes peeled for all the creatures that call this magical place home.  On our first trip to…

_MG_1759On good boating days there is nothing we love more than piling in the ski boat and making the short, 15 minute ride to Grass River.  We kill the wake and drift slowly down the river, keeping our eyes peeled for all the creatures that call this magical place home.  On our first trip to the nature preserve we saw two loons no more than 15 feet from the boat, a pair of swans with a trail of fluffy little babes, and a turtle sunning himself on a log.  My dad bought the boys little fishing nets and they troll off the bow of the boat for minnows, surprising us all by catching a few every now and then.  Blind luck, I suppose!

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_MG_1766Spending our summers in Northern Michigan is one of the biggest gifts I am able to give my children.  It is that quintessential summer of running wild and free, catching frogs and minnows, biking up and down the dirt road with a whole pack of kids, coming home only for a quick bite to eat then back out to play and explore.  My kids get “unsupervised” play here, and by that I mean I don’t have to watch their every move.  On the rare occasion a car comes down, it is traveling no more than 5 miles an hour, and from the kitchen, I can look out and see them at play.  Every now and then I have to intervene and wipe away a tear, or mediate a dispute over scooters, but other than that, the kids get to PLAY and learn to work things out with both older and younger playmates.  I think it is the best thing ever.

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_MG_1763On rainy days, we can still head to Grass River and spend time in the nature center visiting the rescue snake, and playing around with the pelts and bones they have collected over time.  It is a very cool place, and if you’re in the area with young kids who are nature lovers, it is an absolute must.  As we’re here enjoying all of this I can’t help but wonder if I would be as enamored with the area if we lived here year round.  I wonder what the winters would be like, and if eventually, it would feel just like any other place.  Would it lose its summertime magic?  I’d love to hear from any Northern Michigan readers- what is year-round life like here?  I’m really feeling a pull.

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Vijay’s Third Birthday

This past weekend we celebrated Vijay’s third birthday with a bash for around 100 of our friends and family.  We just can’t help ourselves…we love a good party.  Vijay’s birthday falls at the perfect time of year to throw a big outdoor party that not only celebrated his birthday, but allows us to see all…

_MG_1829This past weekend we celebrated Vijay’s third birthday with a bash for around 100 of our friends and family.  We just can’t help ourselves…we love a good party.  Vijay’s birthday falls at the perfect time of year to throw a big outdoor party that not only celebrated his birthday, but allows us to see all of our friends and family that we missed over the busy summer months.  It was a great mix of people- neighbors, Vijay and Vik’s little friends, college kids, our colleagues, friends with older kids….pretty much everyone we know and love!

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_MG_1818Of course no party is complete without a few party tricks- mainly face painting, balloon animals, entertainment by the Brown’s Tones (Brown’s fierce all- female a capella group), a pinata, Indian food and over 150 mini cupcakes.

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_MG_1813Every year we count our blessings.  To have so many wonderful people help us celebrate our little guy is an amazing thing.  And to our sweet boy…happy birthday to the light of our lives.  We love you bunny.

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