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Month: May, 2013



Today is Ursa’s Ampuversary.


It has been exactly one year since she had her front left leg amputated due to cancer.


I am so grateful, relieved, awestruck, thrilled (glass cage of emotion!) that she is still here and doing so wonderfully (despite our tough news nearly four weeks ago). I didn’t think she’d make it to this milestone, and yet, she’s lying beside me, thumping her tail merrily whenever I give those silky ears a pat.


I have so many thoughts I want to share about how she is doing (beautifully!), what this past year has meant to us (talk about perspective!), and provide some details about her diagnosis, how we decided on amputation and our thoughts now a year later, her treatment plan, both immediately following the amputation and since the tumor’s reappearance nearly four weeks ago, particularly because I know many people have found their way to this space because they too have been faced with the devastation of this kind of news.


But right now, James is sound asleep in a still soggy bathing suit to my right, and I feel about how he looks. So all of those reflections will have to wait until a more rested moment in time (ha!).


For now, we’re celebrating this anniversary with photos by the talented, kind, delightful Amanda Jones. She’s a renowned pet photographer who just so happens to live in Williamstown and keep a studio at MassMoCA. We brought Ursa in for a shoot following the weekend when her tumor had grown so large that it had completely split open and she was not eating or drinking or even lifting her eyes to the thud of the tennis ball. We thought that that was going to be her final day with us, so James and I wanted to do something meaningful for the three of us, so into Amanda’s studio we went.


It was during our photo session that bits of Ursa’s personality began to come back. She was eating treats. Seeking out every ball in every nook and cranny of that space. Wagging her tail. Perking her ears. We had a glimmer of hope that perhaps she still had some happy, good times ahead of her. It was an afternoon that I know James and I will cherish forever.


And since then, she’s only gotten stronger. The tumor wound is now completely healed and the mass has disappeared with it. We’ll know more about what’s happening internally next week, and I’ll talk about some of the more experimental treatments we’ve been doing that may have led us to a less dire place in a future post. I’m trying not to get my hopes up, or over think, or look too far ahead.


All I know is that my Inky Stinky Black Bear is thriving. And for now, that’s all I need to know.


Photos: Courtesy of Amanda Jones

My Mother’s Attic // 5

It’s time for May’s My Mother’s Attic over on New Dress A Day. I just can’t get enough of paisley prints and dress pockets.

Full post here. Featuring my killer new bag from the ever-talented Maja of Pinellapi (and my Swedish adventures).

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The Best Form of Flattery

As I mentioned, Kaki insisted on donning a tutu and lying in the grass for her close-up like big sister. She was a bit skeptical of the whole ordeal, particularly the wet grass, but that just made for some pretty priceless facial expressions.

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Looking back at that photo shoot of Sunny I’m struck by how eerie and almost uncomfortable or “off” I find some of those images. Particularly the ones of her lying in the grass, with her face concealed. I was talking it through with James last night as I think it touches on an internal discomfort, unease, and conflict I have with the whole fairy/princess culture as they relate to my girls and girls/women at large. I love the idea of exploring this further, as I seem to have unconsciously started to do with that first series, through photography and my own daughters’ world of make believe. I am already dreaming of an exhibition of this work. More to come soon. I hope!

In the meantime, enjoy our wacky Kaki. Lordy, this kid cracks me up!



Boom! Whew! Yahoo! Sob! Holy shit!

I did it, y’all!

13.1 miles. All at once. All under my belt.


I started training in January for this past Sunday’s half marathon and, at the time, couldn’t even run one straight mile without needing to stop and walk.

My how the human body is an adaptable, incredible thing.

I know that’s a complete cliché, but it doesn’t make it any less awesome and inspiring.


The race was on the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend. The runners above are from Team Red White & Blue that proudly ran with flags flying. The woman in the middle of the picture is a childhood friend of James’ and she ran with her fiancé and his friends from Westpoint. It was fun to have a familiar face on the course and they provided some company around mile 9 when I needed some serious distraction. And, most importantly, they provided much inspiration and patriotism and were a reminder of my own gratitude for the service and sacrifice of our military. An essential presence on Memorial Day weekend.

The weather was, well, shitty. Snow (yes, snow) was predicted. Given that I trained for this thing during a Vermont winter, I was actually relieved by the predicted May flurries. I am completely debilitated by heat and humidity. I would have been crushed by a typical 80 degree holiday weekend, and despite the soggy conditions, much preferred this cold, dank, dreary weather. 40 degrees with a wintry mix? That shit’s my jam.

The first three miles flew by. It helped to have all the excitement and people watching of our fellow runners, and James, Sunny, Courtland, Ursa and Laura’s husband Andrew cheered us on at mile 3. Hooray for soggy spectators (thanks, babe, for braving the elements, band of dependents in tow).

At mile 3.5, this furry fella raced across our path.


Hey yo, running in the Berkshires! It took my brain a moment or two to register what was happening.

Hey, look at that big old Newfoundland. What a huge, majestic, black beast. I wonder why that big dog is loose… gosh, he’s enormous…

Before I began moronically shrieking, “BEAR! Bear bear BEAR!” while continuing to run straight toward him.

He darted across the road, never even glancing our way. But man, did it make for a good story. Every few miles I’d chant, “BEAR! Bear bear BEAR!” because, well, BEAR! Bear bear BEAR!

Everyone had warned us about how crazy hilly this course was, but given that we’d been training in the area, hills were pretty par for the course. Running without a hill in the Berkshires? That’s like asking for a salt-free sail across the Atlantic. So that mile 8 hill that was consistently mentioned whenever I’d tell people which half I was doing? Ain’t no thang! Laura and I chugged on up, very much accustomed to the grueling death that those vertical slopes imply. I was feeling great.

And then I hit mile 9. Which is apparently my proverbially wall.

I wanted to die. This was no fun. Why the fuck was I running around soaking wet in 40 degree weather? I PAID TO DO THIS SHIT?! WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH ME?! I would rather sit in a bathtub of ice cubes ripping out hang nails than take one more step with that throbbing blister between my toes.

Laura kept spirits up. We jogged with Team RWB. We walked at water stations and stretched. I was still putting one foot in front of the other. This wasn’t nearly as bad as childbirth, I perpetually reminded myself. And honestly, that physical memory helped put some shit in perspective. At mile 10, Laura reminded me that every step I took past that was the farthest I’d ever run.

I could do this. Just don’t stop. Just don’t stop. Trot trot trot.

Then mile 11.5 climbed straight uphill and it took every ounce of willpower to not lie down in the middle of the road and wave my white shirt in defeat.

I fell in line directly behind Laura, stared the shit out of her ass, and, step over step, pulled myself uphill as Laura shouted words of encouragement. I must have looked like a possessed robot, never blinking, never talking, never stopping, as I forced those 10,000 pound boulders masquerading as my legs up that damn hill.

NOW I understand why everyone warned about the hills.

The mile 12 water station was at the crest of that sucker, and Laura asked if I wanted to pause and stretch as we’d done at every previous station.

No. I want this to be OVER!

One mile to go, and we slogged through it. And the relief and euphoria that I felt when I heard the music at the finish line and saw my family standing along the road gave me an irrational sense of strength and energy. I felt the weight of all those miles fall off my shoulders, as Sunny ran out into the course, grabbed my hand, and we laughed and smiled and stumbled our way through the finish line.


Ursa was one of our spectators, inspiring many a runner as they processed her missing leg and darted off the course for a pat before continuing on their way. It was particularly meaningful for me to have her stand watch. Motivation and perspective and encouragement. All wrapped up in my best friend. I am so grateful that she was present.


I have the camaraderie, encouragement, and accountability of my now dear friend, Laura, to thank for this accomplishment. This was her fourth half, and she gave me the nudge I needed to get into a decent training routine. While we went to college together, she graduating one year before me and James, we really didn’t know one another while in school, and yet now I count her among one of my most favorite people in the Universe.

We have spent many an hour together, at times when I wanted to quit and cry and generally roll around in the fetal position, and she was by my side the whole time, cheering me on, belting out the words to “Living on a Prayer,” and burping like a midwestern trucker drunk on soda pop. Now if that isn’t the platform for building a lasting friendship, I don’t know what is. We spent the past four months, six days a week, working toward this goal. And I’m not going to pretend like it doesn’t feel unbelievably awesome to say we did it. We fucking did it.



I was skeptical of this whole endurance running thing when I started, but I get it. I totally and completely get it now that I’m on the other side. Sure, my toes are black and blue and I have a blister the size of my eyeball on my left foot. Sure, my right knee imitates a bowl of popping corn when I walk up the stairs, and if stationary for too long, I extricate myself from a chair like a person three times my age.

But that high I’m feeling? That stupid smile I can’t seem to wipe from my face when people ask me about it? That sense of accomplishment and pride? That self-esteem boost that comes from setting a goal for yourself and seeing it through, and from knowing that my now 30-year old body that’s birthed and fed two children just accomplished something that my 20-year old self couldn’t even fathom? That excitement I feel when I talk about the experience? Yeah, THAT, that is why people hit the road for miles and hours at a time in 40 degree weather while it rains sideways. For the process. For the friendship. For the collective of all those other runners and their varied and comparable reasons why. For the aftermath. For that relief and joy that comes when you cross that line that reads “FINISH.” For the childlike euphoria of holding your own child’s hand as you race the final 100m. And people cheer and smile, and you know that lessons are being learned, and life is being lived, and you’re teaching your child and she is teaching you and it is all just … this. Yes.


We did it.




“A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2013.”

Sunny: The Lilac Fairy.
Kaki: Looks up to her big sister. So very much. Insisted that she lie down in the grass wearing a tutu, just like Sunny. Imitation is the best form of flattery, no?

More details about The 52 Project here. To view all the portraits in the series visit here.

Memorial Day 2013

Today was full of “abundant sunshine” (Weather Channel’s words, not mine). But they more than adequately describe every bit of our day.

Hope yours was equally meaningful.

Our Lilac Fairy








Sunny’s birthday present from me and James was this breathtaking fairy costume handmade by the talented Richelle of Ella Dynae Designs. We’ve been fairly rigid about keeping anything princess, fairy, fairy princess, princess fairy or any other combination you want to throw at the genre out of our home. Lord knows the external world shoves all of that at our girls (our collective girls, not just mine and James’) on a daily basis without our home needing to incubate the trend.

(Let me once again stress the importance of all parents, particularly parents of daughters, reading this book).

This year, however, we had noticed that every time we visited our friends’ homes, Sunny gravitated to their costume trunks of frilly, puffy skirts and velour leotards and wands and crowns and oh my goodness, SPARKLE! MAGIC! GLITTER! My goal as a parent is not to keep princesses out of my daughters’ wheelhouse, but to ensure that my girls have a broad and flexible notion of identity and play. It was clear that Sunny was craving her own fairy make believe, and why shouldn’t that be incorporated into her playroom of cardboard houses, and miniature grocery carts, and tonka trucks, and drawing tables, and blocks, and baby dolls, and Play Doh?

We reconciled the purchase by buying the gift from Etsy, handmade with love by a fellow parent without all the branding and marketing and HOO-RAH Disney, Capitalism, AMERICA! And my god, it is positively, absolutely gorgeous. An heirloom piece that will be passed from Sunny to Kaki and on to the next generation (male or female – as why on Earth wouldn’t any preschooler want to rock the shit out of such awesomeness?! Just pause a moment and imagine how that skirt TWIRLS?! A four-year old’s gold standard. And this one? Well, it twirls with the best of ’em).


I about fell over when she put it on and completely transformed into a magical Lilac fairy.

She gave herself the name, as she immediately noticed that her new ensemble matched the abundant array of purple blossoms tucked in practically every inch of our home (gotta enjoy these flowers while they last! Every vase is being put to good work this time of year).

Mama, my costume matches the lilacs! I must be The Lilac Fairy! 

And indeed, she is.

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And the Blower-of-Dandelion-Fluff Fairy.


After picking this basket full of lilacs for the pictures, Sunny requested that I bury her in lilacs.

She is truly her Momar’s girl.




She even insisted upon the eye-covering.


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It was a magical afternoon together, and I envision many many more.



I introduce the Brangelina of Sweden, friends, LasseMaja.


I just adore these Scandinavian beauties. Maja and Lars. So very Swedish with their blonde hair, pale complexion, obsession with the sun, and black attire.




It was such a pleasure staying with them in their beautiful apartment for one whole week. I had never met Lars prior to this trip, though Maja had met him over my wedding weekend nearly five years ago. She had flown into New York City from Sweden, and James and I flew in from Los Angeles and picked her up to drive out to Williamstown for the festivities. She was in New York for a few days before James and I arrived, and at a bar one evening was introduced to Lars, a fellow Swed on a work trip in the city. The rest, as they say, is history. Pretty cool, eh?

They’re celebrating their five year “meeting” anniversary with a trip to the U.S. as James and I celebrate our 5 year wedding slash 10 year meeting anniversary this September. We have a barn dance party planned to properly mark the milestones.






While visiting this April, we took a lazy Sunday trip out to the Artipelag – an insanely cool modern museum built into the landscape of the Swedish archipelago just 30 minutes outside the city. We gazed at the water, soaked in the sun, and snapped many a photo.








We explored the interior as well, which was quite striking and outfitted in very stereotypical Scandinavian design.





It was a pleasure being able to capture such an incredible pair. What a gift to call them friends.




We spent the weekend in Davidson, North Carolina, celebrating Sunny’ 4th birthday, Uncle Ben’s graduation from college, and Uncle Ted’s birthday. SO MANY CELEBRATIONS!

We began the festivities in birthday crowns and party dresses.



We migrated to a restaurant aptly named “Tenders” that served just that, fried chicken tenders. And French fries. And milkshakes. Essentially a 4-year old’s dream dinner. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, SUNNY! She was gifted sparkly stickers which were immediately used to accessorize while waiting for our baskets of fried food to arrive.


Uncle Ted found the proceedings comical. Or sinister. Unclear.


Courtland pooped her pants. And the back of the car filled in as a changing table for the umpteenth time.



Then we frolicked around the Davidson campus and drank beer and blew Dandelion fluff.







We posed for some Mommy & Me shots. It was our birth day, after all.




We headed to bed relatively early so that we could rise and witness Ben’s moment in the spotlight. Uncle Ted and Courtland documented the occasion and reviewed the results.



We tried to figure out a better white balance on the camera for the hideous fluorescent lighting in the gym, but with little success. So we made funny faces to distract from the purple hues of our skin.


We wore our socks as gloves. And found ourselves hysterical for such brilliance.



We cheered and applauded Uncle Ben’s waltz across stage.

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And then we ate cake to celebrate Uncle Ted’s birthday. Nom nom nom.


All in all, a whirlwind weekend of celebration. Whew. I need a nap.

Currently Reading

I adore Jenny’s take on the “new” Merida Disney nonsense. If you don’t know The Bloggess, she’s hilarious and weird and off-color and really really smart in a very unassuming and hysterical way. Definitely give the full post a read:

I showed the new Merida to my eight-year-old and she assumed that it was Merida’s evil twin.  Which actually would make an awesome story, and personally I plan to tell stray children I see buying backpacks with the new Merida on them that the original Merida was eaten by the new Evil Merida because she was so hungry.  And they will probably believe it because seriously, look at her waist…the girl needs a damn sandwich.