Saturday, December 24, 2011

The Chicken Pox Debate

This is NOT a post to debate the relative merits and risks of vaccines.

This is NOT a post to judge others based on their beliefs about the relative merits and risks of vaccines.

This is simply a post about my experiences over the past few days. After extensive research and discussions with Ilya's doctor, Adam and I decided not to give Ilya the Chicken Pox vaccine. I'm not here to justify that decision. It is a personal decision. Its the decision we made.

A girl in our community came down with a case of chicken pox and we figured this would be a great time to expose Ilya. Being responsible parents we informed the community that we were exposing Ilya and that we would keep her separate from the other kids until the risk of contagion had passed.

This started a slew of emails from concerned parents who informed me they did NOT want their children exposed (well, duh. I was planning on having Ilya stick her fingers in their mouths, but now that you have expressed this desire, I guess I wont). That's fine. Whatever. Parents are worried about their children. I get that.

What I don't get is what happened next.

Chicken Pox will take AT LEAST 7 days after exposure to become contagious, but I was informed in no uncertain terms that Ilya was NOT invited into common spaces starting immediately. I was sent links about how irresponsible it was for parents to expose their children to chicken pox. I was refused entry into my friend's homes because "I might be a carrier" (not possible, by the way). This is a culture of fear. This is what happens when people allow fear and conjecture to run their lives rather than research and reason. This is a SCARY place to be.

If communities are little peep holes into the world, I worry about the human race.

Friday, December 23, 2011


Perk #239 of living in co-housing: Group Projects

I love the idea of doing elaborate holiday projects with my child, but when it comes time to actually DO the project, I begin to feel completely overwhelmed. There is so much planning and preping and cleaning involved its enough to drive anyone to put on a holiday movie and call it a day.

This is why I love my co-housing friends. We decided that we were going to make ornaments together. So, early one morning we gathered in the common house (4 mothers and 7 kids) and together tackled the messy fun project of making dough ornaments. It was great. While I gathered the materials, my friends herded the kids. Then we all moved from child to child helping them roll the dough and punch out the designs. When the kids were done and wanted to play, I was able to take them outside while my friends cleaned up.

I think they turned out really nice.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Which ones are for me?

Ilya is not the only one interested in Solstice.

Here is Milo looking innocent. Don't let him fool you.

"Hmmm. I wonder what's in there?"

"I don't care if it's not for me. I'm opening it!"

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Solstice Eve

We had a tradition growing up in my house that every Christmas eve we'd get to open one present. I remember being so excited watching the pile of gifts grow throughout the month of December, carefully shaking and prodding each gift to figure out which one would the "the one."

Now we celebrate Solstice so it made sense that Ilya would get to open one gift on Solstice eve. Being a child that lives firmly in the moment, I don't even think she remembered that there were presents under the tree for her. She immediately became fixated on the gift that she had just received in the mail. When we told her she could open one present, she grabbed it and started digging in.

The gift was from my father and all it took was one glimpse of that soft purple fabric to win her over.

Happy Solstice Eve!

Saturday, December 17, 2011


Tuesday, December 13, 2011


There is nothing scarier to me than self-portraits. I'm completely at ease behind the camera focusing on others, but when that camera is turned around, a fear and discomfort rise up inside of me unlike anything I have ever experienced. In an effort to constantly better myself both as a person and as a photographer, I decided to dip my toes into the waters of self portraiture today. I took these in my bathroom, using my 50mm lens at 1.8

DPP Challenge

There is something completely terrifying about taking my own picture. I can't describe it, but I feel it deep inside of me. Today, I took the first step towards fighting this problem. Here is my very first self-portrait. Don't judge. Baby steps.

Sunday, December 11, 2011


Living in a co-housing community has many benefits from shared resources ("hey, can I get a ride to the airport?") to connection with all 60 of your neighbors. One of my favorite parts about it, though, is co-parenting.

My friend, Rachel, and her family live two doors over from me and every week we swap childcare so that twice a month we get a date! While this in itself is not that unusual - lots of people do date night swaps - there is a way of relating to the kids in a co-housing community that is deeper and more meaningful than the way you relate with even your close friend's kids.

For example, tonight was Rachel and Jonathan's turn to have a date night so Adam and I took care of their children, Ethan and Eliana. We decided to go to a chorus concert and invited our other friends in the community, Mhari her husband Craig and their two children, to join us. So, between us there were four adults (Adam, myself, Mhari, and Craig) and five children (Ilya, Ethan, Ethan, Eliana, and Leila). While we watched the concert, Adam ended up holding Leila most of the time while Ethan and Eliana cuddled up next to me. Mhari and Craig took turns sitting next to the other Ethan and Ilya...but it was a very fluid thing. Kids moving from one parent to another as the four of us worked to keep them quiet and entertained. It was co-parenting at its best.

Here is the love of my life, looking a bit tired, but handsome as ever.

This is Rachel's son, Ethan.

This is Rachel's daughter, Eliana. She really is one of the cutest kids I've ever seen. Look at those curls!
Ilya and Ethan really love each other, and they play together so nicely.

Ilya: I'm a princess
Ethan: I want to be a princess
Ilya: You can't. Only girls can be princesses!
Ethan: But, I want to be a princess, too.
Ilya: OK, fine. You can be a boy princess. The green princess

I love the way preschoolers talk and work things out!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Photography Challenge day 5

Sunset on the beach in Seattle.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Photography Challenge day 4

This is Eliana, possibly one of the cutest little girls ever. I love her curls and enormous smile, and you should hear her talk. It is so cute, it will make you melt.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Photography Challenge day 3

This is one of my favorite people in the world and her family. They asked me to take their photo for holiday cards and in 500 shots this was the only one where they were all smiling at the same time. Phew. Who knew this photography thing would be so difficult?

Friday, December 2, 2011

Photography Challenge

December Photo Project

A blog that I enjoy reading has challenged its readers to post a new picture everyday in December and, in an effort to take even more pictures, I've accepted. In all fairness, I didn't read about the challenge until today (the 2nd) so I will have no picture on the 1st, but here is today's photo. This is my little girl swinging on her swing in 30 degree weather with no coat and a Hawaiian lei. Just because.

Saturday, November 26, 2011


When Ilya was born, Adam and I joined a PEPS group - a parent support group. Ilya was just a few weeks old when we attended our first meeting and we met fairly regularly for the first year.
After that, people started to move away and it got harder to find a time when we were all available. We have, however, managed to meet once a year for the past three years, and every time we meet, we take a picture of all the kidos. We had our annual reunion last weekend and here is what you missed:

This is Ilya's best friend, Eleanor. We did date night swaps with her family for years until they moved away last summer. Once Ilya saw Eleanore she never left her side, and Ilya, I'm afraid to say, was not the greatest influence. Observe my child encouraging her friend to climb around the OUTSIDE of the play structure.Eleanor had a new baby sister, Ingrid. Have I mentioned how much I love babies right now?

Meet Hazel. Hazel was the baby that took the longest to sleep through the night, and she is still taking it to extremes.
This next one is Maddy. Maddy is 10 days younger than Ilya, but she is 3 going on 13.And last, but not least, is Zach. The token boy who is so sweet and shy I just want to give him a big hug.I wish I had the digital images of these kids sitting on the couch. It would be so much fun to create a montage showing their development, but I don't, so here it is!

Thursday, October 27, 2011


I have a really good excuse for not updating regularly this time! I have found my passion in life - something which excites me. Something I want to spend every free minute on: Photography. So, I've started a photography blog and I really hope you will all go look at it and leave me comments. I love comments. Every time I see I have a comment, my heart just lights up. Please light up my heart. I post pictures there regularly (about once a week), and to prove it, here is a sneak peek at what I am going to be posting on Monday or Tuesday.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Torrential Threes

I never thought that I would say this, but what happened to my sweet little two year old and who replaced her with this bi-polar screeching child?

One moment we are sitting on the couch cuddling and the next she is screaming in my ear at the top of her lungs to get up and make her food NOW!!! When I ask her to use kind words, I am rewarded with a burst of fury and flailing limbs that would make the Tasmanian devil proud. This interaction usually leads to a time out with banging and massive destruction. When she calms down and the door is opened, she flings herself in my arms as if she hadn't seen me in months, cries for a minutes, and then calmly gets up to start playing with a toy she noticed in the middle of her floor. The entire interaction couldn't have taken more than five minutes, but I am completely exhausted by it. If this is what it is like to parent a teen with their violent mood swings, I honestly don't think that I'm going to make it.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

First Day Of School

Today was Ilya's first day of school. Kinda. It was the official first day of school for the classroom, but new students were only supposed to go to an open house in the afternoon rather than start with the regular class in the morning. Whatever. It still counts. She got nervous. I got nervous. We brushed her hair (probably should do that more often), washed her face (ditto), and showed up right on time. I'm not going to spend time describing how wonderful I think her classroom is or how great the teachers seam to be. Rather, I'd like to talk about what it is like being a parent on the first day of school.

Having taught for so many years, I have had more first days than I can remember. I'd get nervous at every one of them. The same kind of nervous I'd get when I interview. I have this weird perception that parents were looking for reasons to dislike me and it was my job to prove to them how likable and competent I am. I still feel that way sometimes when I tutor. While its true that I walked into Ilya's classroom looking for the signs of bad teaching (TVs in the corner, hypodermic needles on the shelves), I was much more concerned about whether or not the teachers liked my child. I'm pleased to announced that they all passed the test (really, who wouldn't like Ilya?) and so did their teaching - no TVs or needles in sight.

I guess my point is that while it is a pain as a teacher to have a parent who is constantly looking over your shoulder, it is absolutely terrifying as a parent to leave your child in the hands of someone you've just met. I truly believe that teaching is a partnership and that parents and teachers MUST work together, not just so that the child can be successful, but so that trust can exist and both the parent and teacher can feel supported and safe.

Speaking of something that has absolutely nothing to do with what I've just been talking about - I am now a photographer. Truly. I've made money. Some. But I really love it. I'm making a website to showcase my work and I'll post the link for you once its ready.

Also, its 6:30 and my child has not woken up from her nap yet. This is probably a bad thing. Or, it could be a really good thing. Regardless, I'm going to let her sleep because I am just that (lazy) caring.