Blog a la Cart

Month: January, 2016




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

Sunny: Her hair has grown out enough that she’s back to being my living doll. Only so many more years (months?) when she’ll tolerate (dare I say enjoy?) having her hair styled by her mama. We got in the Valentine’s spirit before prepping this year’s cards for our friends at school. Also, this photo hides the raging case of pink eye that she contracted from her little sister. It just won’t quit. Courtland was hardly affected by it, whereas Sunny’s eyes are weeping yucky, gross awfulness that seals them shut multiple times an evening. We’re going on day five of this filth despite a regimented dose of antibiotics.
Kaki: Meanwhile, this kid’s winter seal bark is back thanks to a cold so it’s next to impossible for her to sleep at night. Most of yesterday evening was spent lathering Vicks on her chest and feet and turning the house into a tropical rainforest to try to give her some relief. Her very sour mood is the unfortunate result of this cough.

We’re all feeling sleep-deprived and disgusting. And, I am feeling so dang grateful that we cancelled our trip to California, given that we would have been managing all this illness from a hotel across the country. Sometimes things happen for a reason. We’ve been able to spend the past two weekends hunkered down at home, napping, watching movies, reading stories, knitting, and prepping the house for baby. We’re too gross and cranky for public consumption, and what better time than cold January days to be forced to stayed holed up at home.

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

The Health Benefits of Knitting


I’ve been saying for years that it’s my way to de-stress and unwind…

“The repetitive action of needlework can induce a relaxed state like that associated with meditation and yoga. Once you get beyond the initial learning curve, knitting and crocheting can lower heart rate and blood pressure and reduce harmful blood levels of the stress hormone cortisol.”


Often people ask “Where do I find the time?” And the reality is, unlike sewing or baking or other tactile crafts, knitting is very portable. I knit when waiting at the pharmacy for a prescription to be filled, or at the bus stop for the kids, or in the waiting room at a doctor’s office. I pull out my needles while sitting in the pool bleachers during Sunny’s swim practice, in the waiting room at the girls’ dance classes. I have a project in my purse at all times so whenever I have a few free minutes, I can crank out a row or two. And I usually carve out 20-30 minutes every evening to listen to an audiobook or watch an episode of a TV show while knitting as my way to shut down before bed.

When all put together, it’s amazing how productive I can make those otherwise lost minutes that I would spend aimlessly scrolling through my phone. I also like to knit during long meetings, lectures or presentations. I always have to gauge my audience as I think people assume that I’m not paying attention if I’m embroiled in twiddling needles, but in actuality, I listen better and absorb more if my hands are engaged in activity. It’s actually an awesome way to process information and stay focused in the present.

Sunny has asked to learn to knit, so we picked out yarn for her inaugural scarf (a rainbow assortment, naturally) and we’ll see how she takes to it. Given how much she’s enjoyed Cat’s Cradle, I have a feeling it will be a successful match. I’m happy to extend a love my grandmother taught me when I was young to another generation, especially given all the benefits.

And here’s the latest little sweater for our Gummy Bear. A simple and practical kimono design. More details on my Ravelry.




The Whaley Carts


Their relationship in an image.

The way her world and her happiness is wrapped up in this person who has the patience and tenderness to crawl into a tiny floor bed night after night when she stumbles in to our room and simply says, “I need my Daddy.” He is always there for her, and it is one of the greatest gifts she’ll ever receive in this life, a person who models such unconditional love, comfort, and patience for her.

And while he complains about the near nightly midnight disruptions, he hasn’t made a strong effort to curb this behavior. Likely because he knows, as all parents do, that this time shall pass, far faster and sooner than we’d like. And while she’ll always need her father, her limbs will grow and spread and she won’t seek his guidance, and comfort, and love in the same way. And oh how he’ll miss that need while championing her growth and independence. And we’ll lie in bed whispering about “those nights” and “that time,” and envelope ourselves in nostalgia for the disruptions and inconveniences of early parenthood – the greatest paradox of this whole wild experiment we call raising a family.

Knits for Baby Cart #3


Given how uncomfortable I find life vertical (not that seated or horizontal is discomfort-free, but it’s a vast improvement), I spend much of my free-time, particularly these cold winter weekends, curled up on the couch knitting for this little one while listening to audiobooks or podcasts (I highly recommend experiencing The Red Tent as an audiobook, btdubs).

It’s only been since the New Year that I’ve turned focus to knitting for “our baby” (as Courtland refers to her/him). I finished up this romper for our Year of the Monkey babe, and well, for the newest addition to Cartwheel Farm, I couldn’t resist creating this rooster cardigan. Can you tell that I’m a sucker for animal buttons?

I’ve completed a blanket, hand mitts, ribbed pants, and two hats (those are trickier to photograph well and may just need to wait for our babe’s arrival to properly model their cuteness), and have booties, socks, a vest, and two more sweaters in my queue. We’ll see how much is accomplished in these final six weeks (assuming s/he stays put until D day).

Oh, I am so looking forward to infant snugs in these cozy knits.




Knit romper details in my Ravelry projects.



Rooster Cardigan details in my Ravelry projects.

Jonas FOMO


We did not receive a flake of snow in VT, and I found myself looking wistfully at pictures of friends frolicking in NYC and DC and Boston amongst all that snowy white goodness. We have yet to have a decent snow fall this winter, and we’re all feeling exceedingly ready for some snow bank leaping (okay, maybe not the nearly 9 month pregnant Cart, but I would love to observe and document the fun). Alas, slipping and sliding on our neighbor’s pond had to suffice as our winter weekend adventure. The kids and pups had a ball regardless.

And James and I managed to find, sort, launder, and ready all of our 0-3 month baby gear. With a heavy pink-lean, this baby, regardless of genitalia, has more than enough clothes for his or her welcome (and let’s be honest folks, a newborn cares not what his/her clothes look like as long as s/he’s warm and fed and dry). So bring on an infant in sweet pink nightgowns that had me aching with nostalgia as I pictured both Sunny and Kaki’s babyhoods. I have to admit, I am feeling over-the-moon excited to meet this little one. I can’t believe I ever doubted that we’d welcome another child into our lives.










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

Sunny: Blocks and building and master planning have been a fixation of late. On Saturday, the girls spent all morning filling our living room with an epic block city. And on Sunday, marble maze construction (courtesy of Sunny’s FGPs on her 2nd Christmas – gosh where has the time gone!) was all the rage. I love seeing where their minds take them and how their make-believe unfolds. We have blocks from my father’s childhood mixed in with more recent sets, and it’s clear to see why it’s such a timeless toy.
Kaki: She got sent home from school on Friday afternoon because preschoolers are gross and pink eye is crazy contagious. While at the pediatrician’s to get eye drops, the doctor discovered a small rock lodged in her ear. The four year old had no awareness of this obstacle, and claimed that it was not her doing. Regardless, it took six adults to restrain her and flush out said rock thanks to the resulting hysteria and fear of the water pick. Both mom and preschooler were equally traumatized from the scene that unfolded. And then she slipped on some ice on Saturday and now has an enormous goose egg on her left temple. Kid can’t catch a break. But we managed to get some pretty wonderful smiles and giggles from her this weekend despite all the physical maladies.

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

Portrait of Life with a Third Pregnancy

James slides into bed after an evening of scraping and sanding and painting, and aligns himself along the curve of my back. His hands find my belly, home to the moving and shaking and rumbling of our furtive, energetic youngest.

Always wide awake and busy at midnight, huh?

Yup. Like clockwork. This does not bode well for when s/he’s on the outside. At least now I’m the only one disrupted by her evening exercise.

It’s pretty amazing. I know it’s a pain, but it’s one of my favorite parts of the day. 

We lie in silence, focused intently on the waves and ripples and jolts. The few moments of our day where our attention is ever fully fixed on this newest life.

S/he’ll be here in 7 weeks. We really need to find that bin of baby clothes. Though, I fear its contents are only appropriate for LA or summer-born infants. We should probably buy some stuff.

Yeah, and we need to launder them right? Dreft. We should buy some Dreft. And where is all the cloth diapering stuff. Are we cloth diapering this time?

I dunno. I hadn’t even thought about it. Sure. Yes. If we find the stuff… but we’re stopping after we go back to work and this kid goes to daycare.

Another solid jab. A reminder that yes, there is a human being in there. And yes, s/he will be entering our family very soon. And yes, we are sending her to daycare at 6 months unlike either of her siblings.

Gosh, when we were seven weeks from Addison’s arrival her entire nursery was completely finished

We scraped wallpaper, installed molding, and painted WALL MURALS for that kid. Not to mention fully stocked her closet with an unnecessary amount of Dreft-laundered clothing. The changing table was already brimming with diapers at the ready. And that ridiculous round crib. All assembled, with an array of blankets and stuffed animals and mobiles.

This kid gets a closet, with no crib. But let’s be honest. S/he’ll sleep in our bed for awhile. And we now have an Amazon Prime account.

Thank the sweet baby Cheez-Its for free 2-day shipping.

We can let this child know that mere weeks prior to her arrival, we invested all of our time and energy in redesigning our living room. Sunny got cow-themed wall murals, this kid got freshly painted window sills and a sectional sofa. You’re welcome, Third Child.

Thud! Thud! Thump!

Well, it’s clear s/he won’t let us entirely forget about her. I’ll find that bin of clothes tomorrow.

And I’ll finally order that infant car seat…

While this baby may not have the newest clothes or the most fashionable and expertly designed nursery, s/he will be so very loved, by her parents who fully understand how fleeting and precious those early stages of life really are and siblings who already bestow kisses and hugs and “gentle high fives” ubiquitously and unprompted. A home that is busy and loud and filled with dog hair and laughter and (occasional) Cheerios for dinner and dance parties and love. While we have prepared next to nothing for his/her arrival, we’re ready.

Disney on Ice


A few more snaps of our weekend excursion – complete with light-up wands, overpriced concessions, and happy kids. We capped off the evening with Japanese Hibachi, a first for the girls. They found all of the chef’s tricks and pyrotechnics awesome. It was no trip to California, but it was a dang good day.







Sunny, The Bookworm


In proper proud parent fashion (alliterative to boot!), I am simply awed by Sunny’s reading ability at this early stage in her life. The fact that she adores it, and chooses this activity over other forms of play or entertainment with much frequency is icing on the cake. She now visits one of the second grade classrooms during Reading period, with her BFF and fellow first-grader who is similarly ready for greater reading challenges, to help keep up this love and progress.

She whizzes through books that I assume will be way beyond her ability or patience. She’ll stumble over a word here or there, asking for clarification of pronunciation and meaning, but never with frustration or resentment. In the evening, she selects one book to read herself and one book for me or James to read to her, and Courtland selects a book of her choosing. Of late, Sunny has opted to read her book selection and Courtland’s, before they both curl up in bed and James and I cap off the evening. We’re re-reading The Box Car Children series, and I’ve ordered the Ramona collection as she is clearly ready and interested in chapter books, without need for much illustration. Both girls have expressed interest in learning more about mythology, so I dug out a Greek and Roman mythology series from my childhood that should also be a great addition to our evening ritual.

I know they’ll come a day where 45 minutes spent curled up next to her parents reading books is the last thing she’ll want to do, so I’m savoring this time (as is Gladdy, Sunny’s ever-constant companion) and delighting in our growing bibliophile, and the positive impact it’s having on her little sister. (Also? How fortunate is this little babe in utero!? So much more language exposure to a variety of voices than either of the girls experienced.)

Book suggestions welcome for growing elementary schoolers, as we continue to explore and expand our household’s collection…



^^A cute snap of James and Gladden during storytime. A sweet affair for all.^^

My Worrier. My Thinker.

The room is quiet save the burble and hum of the nearby humidifier. I’m idly listening to an audiobook while methodically, mindlessly rubbing my second born’s back. From the still of her body and the heaviness of her breath, I assume she’s fallen asleep. I ready myself to lurch and pull my heavy body from the floor, grateful that she’s resting and thus I too in return.

But I should know better. She who has had fitful sleep since the eve of her birth does not readily, easily, or willingly drift to slumber.



I pull the ear plugs from my ears and glance down at her, feeling the twinge of frustration that comes from craving time to oneself while facing the demands of more pressing responsibility.

I have to tell you something so important… I don’t know what I am going to do when I grow up. I don’t know what I want. I won’t know where to drive. I won’t know what to do. How am I going to know?

This four-year old who dwells in the mind of an adult. She who lies awake with thoughts reeling, considering the gnawing worries and concerns of a soul much older than her own. The thing is, I’m 28 years older than her, and I have no idea either.

You don’t have to know, my love. You’re a kid. Let yourself be a kid. Go to sleep now. You don’t need to worry about that. Just close your eyes and rest and let mommy and daddy worry about being grown-ups right now.

I wish it were as simple as words. She is my thinker. My child wrapped up in her head, considering the world around her in ways far more complex and complicated than belies her age.

She has always been complicated. Fierce and strong one minute, and tender and fragile the next. Defiant and questioning. Never-taking our word at face value. Making her parents work for every request, every action, every gesture. She sees and questions the world around her in a way that makes parenting utterly maddening yet her character and the woman whom she will become powerful and wondrous.

While her older sister is undoubtedly a clever and smart child, I see in my second-born a depth of thought, a processing of the world, far more complex and challenging. I see the way she struggles to communicate the way that she feels and takes in all the information around her, and I know that is why she has always been our more “difficult” child. She carries the weight of the world far more heavily than her sister, and my heart aches to make her load lighter, yet I cannot control or change her thoughts. I can only try to alleviate her fears with comfort, and understanding, and if not understanding, openness. I can give her language and space to share and process.

Mommy, who will take care of the baby when you and daddy go to work? The baby can’t be all alone. She will be too little to be without her mommy and daddy.

When you have the baby, I want to go with you, because what if Momar and Doda, or Sharifa, or Justine, or Kimmy don’t know how to find you in the hospital? I have to make sure that you and the baby are okay.

I have something sad to tell you. I dreamed that Sunny died. And in my dream, I wasn’t sad. And that is terrible. Because I would be so sad if Sunny died. But in my dream I didn’t even cry. Why didn’t I cry?

When I die, just leave my body. I don’t want to be burned like T. And I don’t want to be buried like Zizi will. That is too scary. Just leave my body where it is. (This particular exchange left me in a puddle of tears, envisioning my 4-year old’s dead body and horrified that she thinks and worries about the state of her body when she dies. The death of her great-grandfather and the subsequent spreading of his ashes, and requests to understand what the ashes were, etc., etc. were undoubtedly a trigger for this line thinking, but her sister has never expressed similar depth of processing that renders fear in this way).

Are you sure you should be drinking that coffee? Because kids can’t have coffee and the baby is a kid, and the baby eats what you eat, and so I don’t think the baby should have coffee, which means you shouldn’t have coffee.

It’s exhausting. And overwhelming. For all of us. And yet I am awed to see the world through her eyes. And I know that if we can help her continue to process, and communicate, and share, she will be able to use that lens to have her own distinct impact on the world.

It’s what all parents are trying to do for their children.

While she demands it from me most acutely, it’s what I aim to do for all of my children; help them be both child and champion of their own unique minds.