Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Happy Birthday to You: Everley Edition: 1 Year Old

[Author's note: This post was written in real time using my iPhone note pad on Sept. 20, 2013, a few minutes before Everley's first birthday and my 38th. I don't know why it's taken me so long to post it other than for a long time I wanted to write something different. Something longer maybe? More thought out? But in the end I like the spontaneity of this letter. To me it says everything that needs to be said.] 

Dear Everley, 

It's 11:40pm and you should be sound asleep but instead -- despite my best efforts to comfort you for the last 45 minutes -- you've been tossing around and crying out. In pain? In fear? From pure exhaustion? I don't know. I don't know why but I do know this, exactly one year ago today I was doing the exact same thing. In pain, in fear, from pure exhaustion. But in my case also with excitement and with joy. 

Because you were on your way.

At 12:35am you arrived. And the relief I felt was instantaneous (at least until the stitching began). You were here. You were safe. You were beautiful. You were mine.


365 days later and I know I'm utterly blessed to be able to say the same. You are here, you are safe, you are beautiful, you are mine. And I am yours. Completely.

Please let me never forget these tiny toes.

I want to talk about this year. This crazy year we have had, you and I, but as I sit awake in my bed and listen to you cry from two rooms away, I just can't seem to find the words. Because what are the words that you use to describe the type of connection that you have with someone you have fed, nurtured, rocked, taught, played with, cried with, cleaned, soothed, held, moulded, laughed with, screamed at, snuggled, warmed, cooled, rocked, kissed and hugged and kissed some more? Every day. Every single day, 24 hours a day, for 365 days. How do you describe that with words? You don't.

So I won't try. Instead I'll say this. Happy birthday Everley Read, my soul sister, sharer of birthdays and bringer of joy. I wish you would stop crying now. But if you can't, you know I will come to you, as I have every day for the past 365 days, and do my best to make it right.

Sharers of birthdays.
No matter what and forever and ever.

I love you,


Friday, September 20, 2013

Happy Birthday to You: Everley Edition: 11 Months Old

Dear Everley,

You'll be 11 months old for about, oh, three more hours. I'm squeaking this one in just under the wire and as such we're going to let the photos do the talking. I will just say this, we spent a lot of your 11th month in Ipperwash, basking in the sunshine with family and friends. It was a glorious month. The kind of summer that in my dreams we would enjoy every year. It was so special and so precious to me. I hope that you'll remember it just as fondly when you look back at this one day.

We also monkeyed around on the swings.

And took a speed boat ride around Lake Rosseau. 
But mostly we lazed on the beach and took in the view.
Did some digging with Uncle Matt.
And explored the sand (and ate the sand).
And also, there were naps. Such glorious, warm, summertime naps.

 I love you,


Happy Birthday to You: Everley Edition: 10 Months Old

Dear Everley,

On July 21 you turned 10 months old. I haven't been keeping up with these monthly posts. Obviously you've got the big bday fast approaching (omg tomorrow!) and I'm almost three months behind and that sucks the big one but here's the truth of it - it's not because we've been too busy, though we have been making the most of our precious summer together. And it's not that I am just lazy, though I've definitely put off writing these in favour of simply lying with you on the living room floor and watching you grow and learn and well, just be your beautiful baby self.

No, the truth of it is this - I just have not been able to face it, this passing of time. Though I love and cherish these monthly letters - and I WILL complete them all because you deserve to have this record of your infancy and of our magical year together - they are such a physical and emotional reminder of the damned ticking clock. TICK, TICK, tick, tick... SHUT UP CLOCK. (ticktickticktick)

I want to be witty and funny and clever with these letters to you so you'll look back one day and be all, "Wow, Mom wasn't always such a washed up emotional disaster after all. She was kind of cool and hilarious..." but Everley Read YOU HAVE STOLEN ALL OF MY FUNNY. Seriously. YOU are funny. You are such a clown and so delightful but I'm pretty, pretty certain you got it all from me. And left me with NO MORE FUNNINESS.

Here you are being hilarious. Also, STANDING UP!
 I sit down to write to you and all I want to do is get weepy and philosophical about how special our bond is (very, very) and how much you've changed my life (beyond what words can describe) and how our family - immediate and extended - are so bloody in love with you (read: obsessed) and while it's all true, every word of it, it's not exactly going to illicit a chuckle in 20 years time is it?

So instead, I haven't been writing. And that's not fair. Now I have to catch up and I promise I'm going to do it. All you need to do in return is promise that in 20 years you'll at least pretend that you think I'm cool and hilarious.

Daddy is also cool and hilarious.

Here's a speed round up of the incredible things you mastered between nine and 10 months:

You gave up your arm-pull-toe-push military drag in favour of a classic hands and knees crawl, which you can do at super turbo speed. You started pulled yourself up to standing and within days were cruising around furniture like it ain't no thang.You started clapping and other cute mimicking behaviours. You got your first professional haircut, survived your first heatwave, enjoyed your first shoulder ride (on daddy) and had your first full day at the beach in Ipperwash complete with swimming. You finally cut that top tooth, which was a pain in both your butt and mine and your little three toothed smile was hilarious and infectious.

Beach, bucket, boat, baby.

I love you,


Saturday, July 27, 2013

Happy Birthday to You: Everley Edition: 9 Months Old

Dear Everley,

I've been thinking a lot about how quickly you are growing. It all seems to be happening so fast now. On June 21 you turned nine months old.  I always feel that nine months is a particularly significant age for a baby because it's when you have been on the outside for as long as you were on the inside. It will never ever cease to amaze me that you once fit so perfectly inside my body. INSIDE. MY. BODY. You fit. It's remarkable. And what's even more remarkable than how you once fit IN me, is how you now fit so perfectly OUT of me.


There's something so special about the way your little body fits right onto mine like jigsaw puzzle. When you were a newborn your head would rest in the palm of my hand while your tiny feet curled up in the crook of my elbow. Or you would lie on your tummy across my lap while I gently rocked you back and forth, the fit so perfect that there was no fear that you could fall.


Before long you were able to lie lengthwise in my lap, little smiling face beaming up at me from my knees while your scrumptious feet would gently knead my soft postpartum belly. Before I knew it you were sitting on my hip. Is there anything better? Anything in the world better than a baby on your hip? I still get an absolute surge of joy when I pick you up and you snap right onto me with your chubby legs around my waste and sausage arms tight around my neck.


And how is possible that when you were one hour old, one month old, half a year, nine months -- you always fit just perfectly against my body when you nurse? Head tucked into the crook of my arm, back snug against my inner forearm and little diapered bum tucked perfectly into my hand. It's almost as if I'm growing right along with you. And there it is, isn't it? Because of course, the truth is, I am. We all are - your dad and sister and me. Not only are you the perfect fit physically, but metaphysically as well.

You fit us, Everley Read. You're a perfect fit.

I love you,


Monday, June 24, 2013

Pictures by Bella: Mexico Edition

For Bella's fifth birthday Cairn and I decided to buy her a digital camera. I researched a bunch of "kid" versions at first because I was worried that buying a "real" camera for a five year old was certifiably insane because let's face it she's going to drop it out the car window; however, the kid versions of digital cameras are THE WORST. I knew that this kid, after being exposed since birth to a lot of photography both on our good camera and our iPhones, would scoff with all the eye-rolling indignation she could muster (a lot) at these horrible low rez atrocities. Instead, I researched kid-friendlyish (determined by me) grown up cameras instead.

End of the day I settled on a Nikon CoolPix S30, which is geared towards use for the whole family and you know what? It's awesome. It's waterproof, shock proof and has fun features like borders and filters that are appealing to kids. It's also takes really great video. It's as kid-proof as a 'real' camera can be and I got it on sale so the entire gift - camera, memory card and case - was around $100. Quite proud of myself, can you tell?

My point? BEST GIFT EVER. I wanted her to have it mainly because we were headed off to Mexico with extended fam and all of us are photo-takers. I didn't want her asking to use our good camera or my iPhone - because clearly they'd end up buried in the sand - but figured that it would be fun to see our trip through her lens as well as my own.

OMG. I was so right, you guys! She doesn't pick up the camera that often, but when she does the results are pure gold. I recently downloaded her photos onto my computer and the idea for this series was born. I just have to share these pictures.

In this first installment in 'Pictures by Bella', all photos are from our vacation in Mexico this February. They are in chronological order. Almost all of the photos were taken by Bella herself, but a select few were only art-directed by her - mainly because her arms were too short for selfies. Or because she wanted a few photos of herself that featured more than just a close-up of half her squinting face. I haven't edited them in any way other than cropping a few to save space or remove the odd unsuspecting tourist from the shots. Hope you'll find them as entertaing as I do - enjoy!

Clearly not my best angle but still a sweet shot of a tired Mommy and adorable Ever on the plane.
Happy Nana on the plane.
Ever testing out the sleeping arrangements upon arrival. She took about 400 in this series but I love the lighting and composition of this one.  She's so artsy.
A classic back-lit silhouette I like to call, 'Happy Mommy in Hat'.

Dad in his happy place.

Shots of feet is a recurring theme in her work.
Shots of herself in reflection is another recurring theme. This one is complex.
I call this one, 'Poor Sofie'.
This begins a selfie series: Photo taken by me, art directed by Bella, starring Dad and Bella.
Amazing family selfie: Photo taken by Cairn, Art Directed by Bella, photo-bombed by that kid drowning his brother in the background.
Mom + Bella selfie on the ferry to Cozumel: Photo taken by me, Art Directed by Bella, Photo-Bombed by the really angry dude behind me.
Shadow selfie: Another recurring theme.
Bella taking a photo of Papa's viewfinder displaying Bella displaying her own viewfinder. Existentialism.

Amazing photo of Papa. Also that guy's shirt in the background. 
Yes I drank the whole thing.
Leaving Cozumel on the scariest ferry ever. Fear significantly dulled by giant margaritas (mine not Bella's).
Another in the feet series. This time, mine and hers in Tulum.
Everley cuteness in Tulum.
Sandcastles in Tulum: Photo taken by me, Art Directed by Bella.

Okay this one is actually just taken by me. But HOT DAD!

Sometimes the artists signature "blur" works in the subjects favour. As in this shot, where it is masking a multitude of post-partum imperfections.
Underwater feet!

Unabashed poor parenting and less than desirable water safety.

Greatest photo of all time.

There's a less blurry version of this adorbs shot, but it features my bosom in an not-safe-for-work way.