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Category: Addison

III

Hi, Mom.

Sunny has finally agreed, however begrudgingly, to wearing a swim cap during swim practice. Success! Finally! I know that you and I both pushed her on this last year during swim season – and she finally acquiesced now that she’s swimming on the team.

I have a much better understanding of how you must have felt during the peak of my competitive swimming years. Consumed and forever frustrated with the state of my chlorine-saturated hair. Sunny, like me, has unbelievably porous hair, so it turns that awful shade of green and gets all coarse and tinsley thanks to so much chlorine exposure. No amount of pre-swim rinse and conditioner followed by post-swim, anti-chlorine shampoo treatments has made much of a dent. When Sunny protests about the cumbersome, lengthy process to prep for swim practice, I’m reminded of my own annoyances with you when you’d insist that I step in a cold, fresh water shower before diving into the pool. It all comes full circle.

I caught a glimpse of her from across the pool at practice last week, standing in her racing suit, goggles on over her new blue cap, tall and lean, long-legged and lanky, and I reflected that you must have beheld a very comparable sight with me.  She shares my love of the life aquatic, and is such a strong, confident swimmer for her age. It’s clear that she is one of the strongest and fastest in her group. Her strokes are coming together beautifully, and holy shit, the girl can already nail an unbelievable racing dive. The team was practicing starts the other night, and when Sunny came off the block, both her coach and myself audibly gasped. Neither of us were expecting her to get such distance (and her coach actually thought she might land on the kid in front of her!). I wish you were around so I could brag about this to you, because who else but with my child’s grandmother can I be so over-the-top proud of a seven year old’s swim habits and not sound utterly ridiculous? I love watching her grow in this way, and, more importantly, I love seeing how much she has taken to this sport, how much she loves the water, the discipline, the practice. How happy it makes her to be in the pool. You and dad always called me your fish, and apparently it’s genetic.

143 Your Ashley

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

Sunny: A portrait of friendship. She’s had a wonderful time reconnecting with friends from preschool at her new elementary school. And making some new buddies along the way.
Kaki: Diving into Kindergarten like the bold, brave kid that she is.
Sander: Our final dip in the pool this past weekend with our waterbaby.

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

Second Grade

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And like that, she’s got her first week of 2nd grade under her belt. (My mom’s childhood bestie has been equipping our kids with the sweetest gifts in Momar’s absence. The bee backpack to match Sunny’s bee lunchpack is just one of many thoughtful gestures from Mich!)

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

Sunny: Our second grader. For James’ birthday, she took him camping on a beautiful hill overlooking the mountains near our new home. The two of them had such a wonderful evening together – James is just happy to have a female in his life who is willing to sleep in a tent (a camper I am not!). And despite some nerves on Monday night, she has had a wonderful start to her new school. So much change. I am endlessly proud of and inspired by this girl.
Kaki: On the brink of Kindergarten. She is so ready. The Kindergarteners start a week later than the rest of the school, so she’s been hanging with me this week. For someone who thrives on routine, we are all looking forward to the steadiness and calm that the beginning of the school year schedule will bring.
Sander: Sitting up on his own. Eating solid food. And thanks to group think and the whisperings of his infant room teachers, napping like a champ. 

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

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Kaki, Sander and I surprised James and Sunny with coffee and hot cocoa on James’ birthday morning atop Stone Hill.

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

Sunny: Looking like such a moody teenager at our local Memorial Day parade. She enjoyed it, I swear. And she’s rocking a festive star tee from my childhood.
Kaki: I adore that American Flag dress, also an Ulmer sister childhood ensemble. My mother was a sucker for anything patriotically spangled.
Sander: Baby’s first parade, wearing a hand-me-down from my boss and his four sons. 

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

Our Aquamarine

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This weekend was Sunny’s end-of-year dance recital. Each dance represented a different jewel, and she was an Aquamarine. It felt like a particularly fitting role given that aquamarine is Sander’s birthstone and that it’s said to be the treasure of mermaids, a creature that I associate so closely with my mother. I wore all of her vintage aquamarine jewelry (it was her grandmother’s, my great-grandmother, and Sunny’s great, great-grandmother), complete with necklace, earrings and ring, to bring a piece of her with me to the performance. It was so strange and sad to watch Sunny dance without my mom’s presence in the audience with us, saddled up next to my father, beaming with grandmotherly joy. I’m so proud of Sunny and how she’s managed all the upheaval and heartbreak of this year. Momar would be so proud of her, too. And I just love these post-performance photos.

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

Sunny: Our seven year old. She wanted a pool party for her birthday, but our local pool doesn’t open for the season until early June. So instead, we’re taking a family trip to an indoor water park near Lake George. And all spending the night in a hotel room together. Here’s hoping Sander keeps up his awesome sleep habits – or it may be a very drowsy day at the park! Wish us luck!
Kaki: Changing a diaper, tongue out for concentration. The girls are so eager to help us care for their brother, and it’s a reminder of just how lucky we all are to have one another as family.
Sander: Tummy time champ. Enjoying those bugs as much as both of his big sisters did. That play mat was gift from Momar, of course, when Sunny was a baby.

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

84 Months

Dearest Sunny,

Today you are seven. And it is my first time celebrating the day that turned me into a mother without my own. You shared such a special bond with your Momar. You are her namesake and the person who made her a grandmother, the greatest role she ever played.

You asked if Doda could make you a robot Momar for your birthday, and it makes my heartache with both sorrow and gratitude that you loved her equally as much as she adored you. While nothing will ever replace her, you are a living embodiment of so many of her best qualities. That button nose. That gorgeous hair. But more importantly than the physical embodiment, the way you say I LOVE YOU to your family with abandon, just as she did. The way you surprise us with special notes and drawings and gifts, the way she always showered those she loved with affection and over-the-top giving. Your bookwormy nature (you now stay up reading chapter books by the light of a book lamp, and we have to ask you to put the book away to actually get you to go to sleep, you adore late-night reading so much). Momar had a similar predilection. Your disdain for the morning is also a shared personality trait, though that extends to your mother as well. Most notably, your tenderness with and caretaking of your siblings and pets resembles a gentleness with animals and babies that was such a core part of your Momar. How fortunate I am to have a living glimpse of her before me each day in the hearts and bodies of my children.

I am awestruck that I have been your mother for seven years. But yesterday morning, as you held your baby brother in your bed and cooed and kissed and snuggled, I gazed down upon you and beheld a child who has had to grow up so much in just one year. Who has faced the loss of her great-grandfather, and then cherished grandmother, while navigating huge changes and advancements in school, both academically and socially. Not to mention that you’ve had to watch your mother experience immense grief while our whole household shifted into a family of five. With all these upheavals and heartaches, you have become more vulnerable but also far tougher than the little girl who turned six last year. You are very much a seven year old. And I am endlessly proud of your kindness, your intellect, your creativity, and your gentleness with the world around you. As I looked into your eyes yesterday morning, there was such grace, such elegance. You are growing up beautifully my darling, and I mean that well beyond the physical.

I love you, my precious first born. Thank you for all that you’ve done for your mama, particularly these past three months.

And Happiest Seventh Birthday.
143 Mama

Pictured here with your Momar the last time we saw her, Christmas 2015. Showered with gifts, just as she would have done for you today were she still with us.

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

Sunny: So proud of her new pair of TIE sneakers. While it makes getting out the door a considerably longer process, she is so dang thrilled to be able to tie her own laces.
Kaki: THE HILL ARE ALIVE… with the sound of Kaki. (Hot dang we live in a beautiful place. So grateful to have this in our backyard, especially these last few months. Walks among this scenery have been therapeutic for all of us).
Sander: Not at all aligned with his sisters’ portraits, but an adorable snap that features his budding mohawk and the fact that he is already busting out of 6 month clothing at the age of 8 weeks. 

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

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

Sunny: On a sunny Saturday stroll before a week of rain and grey and yuck.
Kaki: Not thrilled at the prospect of a long walk, but she quickly turned around that pout after a few minutes of running in the sunshine. “Mama, this WAS actually a fun walk with our WHOLE family!”
Sander: Looking very very milk drunk, but showcasing a hat from my knitting extravaganza before he was born.

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