Around Here


I can’t believe how quickly this week slipped away. I had planned to share a few posts here, but I was busier than usual with work, plus I have been doing some home repairs, which always end up being more complicated than I think, thanks to owning a 104-year-old home! I have been updating a room in our house that really needed some extra love: two fresh coats of paint, ceiling repairs, wall repairs, new ceiling paint, and painting trim (my least favorite thing), plus a new light fixture and a few other small changes. I can’t wait to show it to you once it’s complete.

We’ve been battling illnesses left and right. Last Friday, on my birthday, we had to cancel dinner plans because Oliver was so sick (but we’re planning to go out tomorrow to make up for it — it’s been waaaaay too long). Last week, even though Oliver had a high fever and felt just terrible, he insisted that he needed to go with Andrew to buy me a birthday cupcake with his own money! Poor, sweet little thing! He is all better now.

I hope you and your family are doing well; it sure seems like there are a lot of germs floating around out there!



I snapped this shot of Oliver in his classroom last week, working away in  his own little corner. I was there to document the Chinese New Year party, which was a really cool celebration. But what I was reminded of, and am reminded of time and time again, is how my middle child is thriving in the Montessori environment.

He comes home from school full. The best way to describe it is that he is full of some kind of richness, like his spirit is being nourished. I see some part of this with my other two children, but am most moved by it with Oliver. I think the reason for this is that he is a different learner, and the kind of child who could easily fall through the cracks in a traditional setting.

This observation comes from the deep understanding of who he is as a person, not from observation of him in a traditional setting (which he has never been part of), so it may be wrong. He could have been fine in a regular classroom. But he could also not have been. Who really knows.

What I do know is that he really struggled with reading for awhile, that I was worried about it, that he compared himself to his peers and more directly, to his older brother, for whom reading came early and fast, setting in just before his sixth birthday. For Oliver, an entire school year passed without evidence that he was making a lot of headway; and yet, his directress, who knows him so very, very well (and sees progress since she has him for 3 years in a row), assured us that it would come, that there was another window at 7 years that was a reading-sensitive time (and a reason many Waldorf schools don’t even start reading until that age). Sure enough, Oliver is reading fluidly, out loud, and really enjoying it.

It’s so wonderful to see your child thriving, whatever the subject or situation. To see him enjoy and seek out learning, to see him inspired and happy, and to feel the contagion of curiosity and knowledge.

Emil at 5 1/2


Oh, this little guy. He has become quite the handful, as evidenced by the meeting we had to have with his teacher regarding his classroom shenanigans.

But he is still the sweetest, most nurturing, and funny little guy. He loves to play with Legos and Magnatiles, he draws and paints constantly, still nurtures his baby doll Baby Tommy and dotes over the neighborhood babies, and is trying to learn how to read. He is also getting into plenty of mischief at home. If anyone caught my post on Instagram about it, you’ll know we have our hands full; he made a teacher’s aide cry, ruined Milo’s 3-year-old pencil lead collection, dumped brand new batteries into a glass of water, ripped a wooden shutter off the backyard playhouse, and stuck a pea-sized wad of paper so far down his ear canal, we almost had to go to the ER to retrieve it (luckily I was able to very carefully remove it with tweezers while Oliver held a flashlight and Emil lay completely still on our couch Thursday evening)… all over the course of three days.

Oh, Emil, who had basically no tantrums when he was two, or three, or even four, is now more emotionally volatile, which we think is related to an emotional growth spurt, because he is still so sweet and healthy and developing everywhere else. He is suddenly afraid of the dark all over again and refuses to sleep alone in his room, instead taking turns sleeping with one of his brothers.


And yet, this phase is not at all bad. He is so, so funny, I can’t even do him justice. He makes up funny songs and sings them all day long, dances constantly, farts on command, builds surprisingly effective booby traps, and has a wickedly mischievous laugh. He is the first to set the table every night without being asked. He offers to help, he is kind to his brothers and friends, he is imaginative and creative and just plain awesome.


And for some reason always does this pose, even when I tell him, “Don’t pose, just do what you’re doing and ignore me!”


We love you so much, little buddy. You are the most cuddly little impish boy, even when you’re naughty.

The Green Winter


All around our house there are shades of green. In every room, ferns, succulents, dried eucalyptus bunches, lichens collected from hikes near and far, fiddle leaf figs, and delicate maidenhair fronds line the window sills, the mantles, the kitchen counter, nearly every flat surface. Andrew must think I’ve gone a bit nutty, my wife is that crazy plant lady… but green is my medicine. It calms my mind, soothes my nerves, bring brightness to dark grey days. It’s getting me through the horror of last week… at least that’s what I tell myself.

I don’t know what to say…

After hearing fireworks go off on Saturday night for the Chinese New Year, my eyes welled up with tears at the recognition. At first I couldn’t place the celebration, even having spent hours only the previous day celebrating with the elementary students at my boys’ school. It seemed cruel to celebrate when so many refugees, so many Green Card holders who live and work and have families, friends, and lives in this country were unfairly denied access back into it. When innocent people seeking better lives are completely denied access to the freedoms of safety and basic human needs we so often take for granted simply because of their religion or even the majority religion of their countries of origin! It dumbfounds me.

This is NOT OKAY. This is not normal. This is not who America is.

I just don’t even know what to say anymore.

I started to plan this post last week as a tour focusing on the green in our home, but now I realize that all my focusing inward, all the art I’ve been creating, all the cleaning and re-organizing, tending to plants and children and photography and making things and staying inside our home more than usual, it’s all just a coping mechanism, and maybe not a good one. Not a useful one. I am burying my head in the sand because I feel helpless and distraught. Because every day brings more unbelievably bad news and it is so hurtful. I am speaking out whenever I get the chance, but what else can I do other than call my representatives, send money to causes, protest?

This is a heartbreaking time. And I realize that some of the head-burying has to do with maintaining my mental health. We still have children to raise and jobs to perform and daily responsibilities to uphold. It’s impossible to know how to deal with this, how to balance this.


We are all immigrants, for God’s sake! We have all come to America seeking something; our great grandparents, our ancestors, are no different from the immigrants and refugees of today.






Some of our dearest friends brought their third baby into the world early Saturday morning. He is beautiful and wonderful and a beacon of hope, and I can only dream and hope that this world will be better by the time he is old enough to really see it. I hope for him, and for all of our children, that they absolutely will not have to deal with this insanity.