Truly, we live with mysteries too marvelous to be understood. Let me keep my distance, always, from those who think they have the answers. Let me keep company always with those who say “Look!” and laugh in astonishment, and bow their heads.

—from “Mysteries, Yes” by Mary Oliver

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Lillia 18 of 52 (2016)
Lillia 19 of 52 (2016)
Lillia 20 and 21 of 52 (2016)
Zane 18 of 52 (2016)
Zane 19 of 52 (2016)
Zane 20 of 52 (2016)
Zane 21 of 52 (2016)

“A portrait of my children every week in 2016.”

Lillia: You made it through your sixth grade year! While it was certainly a big adjustment from fifth to sixth grade, you were determined to step it up and work to your ability. I appreciate so much that you basically did this on your own, with very minimal pressure from us. And, you had a GREAT year. You got all A’s in your second AND third term, and your final grades for the year were all A’s as well—this qualified you for the high honor roll! This year you also ran for student council and were elected Member at Large, you starred in your school play, and you aced your spring dance performance. Words can’t describe how proud I am of all you’ve accomplished, and how wonderful it is to have you as a daughter. I love you so much, Lillia!

Zane: You have officially “graduated” from preschool, which puts you on track for kindergarten in the fall. This year you learned all of your letters and numbers, and how to write your name. You developed a real enjoyment for doodling, and you’re still enamored with babies and birds. You made lots of friends, and had your first real playdate this month. While it seems incomprehensible that you’ll be going to “real school” in the fall, I know that your kindergarten teachers are going to love having you in their class—your cheerful personality and natural curiosity will take you far. I love you, Zane-a-roo!

[Note: It’s been very hard to get photos of Lillia this year—she’s been very busy and I just haven’t been taking as many pictures lately, which makes me sad. Regardless, the picture of Lillia backstage at her dance performance was taken by Sarah Manning.]
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garden 2016 the beginning 1

I can’t tell you how excited I am to be writing my first garden post of the year! We’re doing things a little differently this summer. The big change is a new half-size (4 ft x 4 ft) raised bed just for the little guy (you can see him working on building it with Papa, above). After reading in several sources about the value of having a “children’s garden,” I thought there must be some way we could make it happen for Zane. Our back yard is framed by massive, old oak trees which are beautiful and give us much-needed summer shade—the downside is that their umbrella of leaves covers the entirety of the plant-able space and limits our ability to grow sun-loving vegetables behind the house. So…side-yard it is, and the new box fits just fine. Zane would like to grow tomatoes, radishes, flowers, and…eggplants! He’s a funny little fellow.

My parents have a great setup for starting seeds indoors, and they graciously gifted us many tomato and kale seedlings to get us started. Zane chose a cherry tomato and a kale plant for his garden. We still have room for some additional plants, so we’ll be acquiring those this weekend. I’d really like to do zucchini this year (we skipped it last year and regretted it). I’d also like to do some pickling cucumbers. We did beets and carrots last year, but they take so.long.to.grow. I’d rather focus on something else this summer. We also didn’t bring back the pea teepee, since the peas did really poorly last year, and it’s already pretty late in the season for peas. I think I might still try to do some bush-type peas in one of the raised beds, just to see what happens.

The last change is swapping out the unwieldy (but effective) cat-deterring chicken wire for more convenient (but expensive) deer fencing, also donated by my parents—it’s what they have been using in their beds for the past couple of years and it seems to work. I think it’s a much safer solution, especially for the kids.

What are you planting this summer? I’d love to hear about your gardening adventures!

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garden 2016 the beginning collage
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Zane 16 of 52 (2016)
Lillia 16 of 52 (2016)
Zane 17 of 52 (2016)
Lillia 17 of 52 (2016)

“A portrait of my children every week in 2016.”

I’m really far behind on publishing the posts for my 52 week portrait project, so I’m just going to give you the pictures from weeks sixteen and seventeen, and let you write your own captions!

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today is my birthday // i'm 35

All night the dark buds of dreams open richly. In the center of every petal is a letter, and you imagine if you could only remember and string them all together they would spell the answer. It is a long night, and not an easy one—you have so many branches, and there are diversions— birds that come and go, the black fox that lies down to sleep beneath you, the moon staring with her bone-white eye. Finally you have spent all the energy you can and you drag from the ground the muddy skirt of your roots and leap awake with two or three syllables like water in your mouth and a sense of loss—a memory not yet of a word, certainly not yet the answer—only how it feels when deep in the tree all the locks click open, and the fire surges through the wood, and the blossoms blossom. — “Dreams” by Mary Oliver

This morning I was looking back at my birthday post from last year, written by a thirty-four-year old me who was obviously feeling very vulnerable and uncertain. I was confused, the future completely opaque, and I was worried about where I might be in a year or two when both kids were in school and didn’t need a full-time mother—I didn’t have a career to return to, and the idea of starting from scratch was completely overwhelming.

Things have changed.

In the past year I got a part-time job, doing something I really enjoy. I did some professional photography work and realized that I never, ever want to take pictures as a career—what a relief to be certain of that! I finally launched, and have been pouring myself into, a new creative endeavor called around the year. I was confirmed into the Episcopal Church.

I feel like myself, now more than ever, and yet I feel a lot like the person I was as a child.

Thirty-five feels like possibilities.

It feels like standing in a beautiful forest, with the early morning sunlight touching down on my skin, like golden petals, as it passes through the leaves and branches—ahead of me are many paths, all of them inviting, all of them drawing me closer to myself. God willing, there will be time to explore each one, and that’s just what I plan to do this year.

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Lillia 15 of 52 (2016)
Zane 15 of 52 (2016)

“A portrait of my children every week in 2016.”

Lillia: This week was the big performance! The night before the show you were a nervous wreck. We were trying to run lines, and you couldn’t remember some of them. I am no help in this sort of situation, as I just feed off your emotions and get myself all stressed out, which just makes things exponentially worse. Luckily, Dad took over and the two of you worked through the script—by the end you were laughing. As I expected, you did fantastically well at the performance. I spoke to the Drama Club teacher afterward, and she said you were a “natural” which, of course, we already knew. Bravo, Lillia!

Zane: This week you ran in your first race—the Sports Medicine Fun Run! The track is about four-tenths of a mile, so definitely manageable for little people. You took off sprinting, which gave you a sidestitch later on, but you did finish. You seem to enjoy running and are a pretty active kid, in general. Next year we’ll probably do some practicing beforehand, just so you can pace yourself a little better. You were very proud of yourself, and we’re proud of you, too.

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Lillia 14 of 52 (2016)
Zane 14 of 52 (2016)

“A portrait of my children every week in 2016.”

Well, folks, I messed up and wrote this week’s summaries on last week’s post—that’s what happens when I get behind on blogging and can’t tell one week from another. To make up for it, please enjoy these photos of my adorable, wonderful children!

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Lillia 13 of 52 (2016)
Zane 13 of 52 (2016)

“A portrait of my children every week in 2016.”

Lillia: This week is your last of play rehearsals before performance week. On the way to ballet class on Thursday you were going over your script and counting how many lines you had compared to the other characters. You were thoroughly impressed that you had 153, which was way more than even the supposed “lead” character. I haven’t seen you express much nervousness about the upcoming performance—you actually seem pretty calm and confident. You said everything will go fine as long as the fifth graders can learn their lines. We’ll find out for sure next week!

Zane: This week you’ve really been enjoying reading with me. While you still have a nice collection of board books in your room, it’s clear that you’re ready to move on to “big kid” picture books. In fact, several times this week you’ve requested “the book with the cyclopes” (pronounced sy-clope-ees), which is D’Aulaire’s Book of Greek Myths that we bought for Lillia way back when we were homeschooling. You really seem to enjoy these myths, even though they are quite strange! I’ll attribute your affinity to your 1/8 Greek heritage.

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Lillia 12 of 52 (2016)
Zane 12 of 52 (2016)

“A portrait of my children every week in 2016.”

Lillia: This week you desperately wanted to take a “mental health day” (staying home from school even though you are not sick). I thought about giving in—mental health is important!—but, in the end I was worried that you would miss too much school work (and a play rehearsal) and you wouldn’t be able to catch up easily. You have a full week of vacation coming up in April, so hopefully you will get some needed respite. ‘Til then, we’ll take it day by day.

Zane: This week you are very excited that Spring has arrived—in this picture you are wearing your amusing “King of Spring” costume. I made the flower crown, but you insisted that it needed to have glasses attached. Not pictured: your “cane” that you made out of an old stick decorated with more daffodils and some construction paper leaves. I really enjoy your ability to add your own quirky twist to everything we do.

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Lillia 11 of 52 (2016)
Zane 11 of 52 (2016)

“A portrait of my children every week in 2016.”

Lillia: This week was the home stretch for the second school term, and I am pleased to report to our faithful readers that you did, indeed, bring your math grade up to a 90, which means…YOU GOT ALL A’s!!! I am so, so proud of you, not so much because of the straight A’s (although that’s great) but because of how hard you worked to make that happen. You really put your all into it, and you were rewarded for your efforts. I hope you are proud of yourself—you should be!

Zane: This week you have been mama’s little helper! I’ve been trying to keep the house tidier because it has been a bit of wreck since I started working outside the home (it’s not an easy job with four humans and a cat living in 960 sq. feet). Perhaps you’ve enjoyed having more places to play and less clutter to trip over but, whatever the cause, you’ve definitely caught the cleaning bug. It’s certainly nice to have some help picking up! I had already been considering offering you the chance to take on some tasks around the house, so that you can earn a little money like your sister does. But, it’s hard to know what is an appropriate “chore” for little ones—any suggestions readers?

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