this is three

by Suzanne on August 8, 2014

in heart

“Mama,” she shout-whispers in the dark, “scratch my belly.”

It’s been a bad day.

She was three in all her glory today. Attitude, tantrums, stubbornness, poop in her panties mere minutes after I’d tried desperately to get her to use the potty.

I yelled. She cried.

And then no nap.

By 4 o’clock, I was ready to walk out of the house. I threw my hands up, let her out of her bed (where of course she was playing on the stuffed-animal mountain she had busily constructed while she should have been sleeping) and tried my best to calm down. It took a while.

I had grand ambitions for this Friday. I’d work while she slept. Transcribe an interview recording for a story assignment. Start packing for the beach. Vacuum the drifts of dog hair covering every single inch of our house.

That was my mistake. Setting unreasonable goals, then beating myself up when I don’t reach any of them. And I am terrible at letting go of expectations.

Three-year-olds are unpredictable little tornadoes. I do, she undoes. I clean, she dirties. I ask, she ignores.

And then she poops her pants.

But tonight, as we lie in bed and her breathing deepens into sweet little toddler snores, I finally let go.

I listen to the cicadas and other night-bugs making music in the trees. I hear the air conditioning click on and feel the cool air wash over us. Inhale her hair and kiss the top of her head.

And I keep scratching her belly.

She is mine, and I am hers.

No matter how crazy we make each other.


because I’m feeling random

by Suzanne on July 10, 2014

in just because

Bright Bazaar book

Laura gave me this book today, and I absolutely can’t wait to dive into it. Bright Bazaar is one of my favorite websites (thanks to Laura for introducing me to it) because I, too, am obsessed with color, so Mr. Bazaar and I are basically best internet friends forever.

I constantly want to redecorate, paint, move furniture around, add a pillow here and there. I have a feeling this book (and all of the gorgeous color palettes in it) will help guide my wayward design sensibilities. Also? Hooray for surprise gifts. Lucky me.


I’m driving to Ohio tomorrow. With the girls. By myself. All the way to Ohio. Just me and the girls. I’m equally filled with excitement (Julie! Baby Levi!) and terror (how will I ever keep my kids entertained for all those hours?). Wish me luck.


My new favorite breakfast is plain oatmeal with fresh peaches. Marc makes it for us every morning, simmering it on the stove with milk. I could swim in that bowl. And the whole delicious thing has fewer than 300 calories. Just thought you should know.

Also, my obsession with smoothies continues. I heard someone call them “salad milkshakes” and this is so very true. How can something that has spinach and chia seeds taste so good? It’s a marvelous little miracle.


Have you noticed this little downsizing movement on social media lately? I can’t help but be curious about people on Facebook and Instagram trying to make their internet worlds smaller by disconnecting from friends/fans/followers. And this whole business of Instagram closing the accounts of mothers posting pictures of their children that others consider to be indecent has me wondering if I should be showing my kids at all. I mean, who really is out there looking at my feed?

Here we go again.

Every six months or so, I get scared of social media and crawl up into a little virtual ball of worry and indecision. Should I keep blogging pictures and stories of my girls? Should I post anything about them on any form of social media? My typical response is to take a vacation from blogging and social media, but I feel like I need to make some sort of real decision soon. Do I stay or do I go? And if I stay, should I change what I put out there? What’s more fun to photograph than my kids? Not a whole lot. Why do I crave this space? What am I hoping to accomplish here?

Perhaps I’ll ponder these things all the way to Ohio (while simultaneously breaking up fights and slinging juice boxes to the back seat).

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because this is really neat

by Suzanne on July 1, 2014

in just because


It’s impossible to choose just one image to represent all of the awesome of Humans of New York.

Have you seen this site?

I’m late to the party (shocker). But I’m so in love.

Photographer Brandon Stanton approaches total strangers in the streets of New York City and asks to take their pictures and hear their stories. It’s fascinating. And beautiful. And sometimes heart-breaking.

He says on his site: “I photograph everything that makes me happy, and it turns out it makes other people happy too.”

Happy, indeed.


little dancer ready for the next big thing

by Suzanne on June 25, 2014

in heart


Of all her dance costumes over the last few years, this one is Lily’s favorite. The skirt’s twirl factor alone gave it instant cred.

Little sister took notice pretty quickly and demanded that she get to try on the dress the minute we got home from the recital. Now Sophie wears it over her clothes almost every single day. With her plastic fancy shoes of course.


Lily wants to take gymnastics instead of dance next year, the result of a super-fun time in the foam pit at a birthday party and the first time she’s really taken the lead on trying a new activity.

It was Marc’s (wonderful) idea to see if Lily might like dance when she was three years old. She wiggled around all the time and loved any type of music. He took her to check out a Saturday class at a studio near our neighborhood, and she jumped right in.

Three years later, she’s ready to try something new. I have a feeling it won’t be long before we’re shuttling both girls to all sorts of practices, games, meets, you name it.

For now, though, I’m going to enjoy the relative peace of just one extracurricular activity. There will be no pushing. No forcing my daughters to take up anything other than what their hearts call them to try.

I imagine it’s a fine line to walk (I can hear you more seasoned parents chuckling at me). We all want well-rounded kids. And I’m especially hopeful that both of my girls will become involved in team sports (because I truly believe that is one of the biggest reasons I survived middle school). But I’m not going to force an activity because it will beef up a college resume or keep my kid in close competition with her peers.

My parents guided and encouraged me, but when it became clear that I was not cut out for ballet or piano lessons, that was that. At the same time, when I discovered a passion for photography at a young age, they put a little snap-and-wind camera in my hands and kept me well supplied with film and flash bulbs (how I loved the smell when they popped). When basketball became my favorite thing ever, they drove me to countless practices and tournaments, cheering me along every step of the way.

I’m grateful to have been given that freedom, and I want to do the same for my kids.

I want Lily and Sophie to be active, curious, healthy and involved. To care about their communities and have lots of different life experiences.

But, most of all, happy. In whatever form that may take.

recital3 recital4 recital5 recital6 recital7 recital8 recital9


notes from the other side (of kindergarten)

by Suzanne on June 12, 2014

in heart

We survived kindergarten.

And I’m here to tell you that you will too. I promise.

I’ve been reading lots of anxious-mama posts on Facebook lately about preschool graduations and kindergarten looming at the end of summer, and it’s inspired me to share a few thoughts from my experience during the last year. I was in your shoes not long ago, and I remember how it feels. In fact, I’m currently drowning in “my baby finished kindergarten and she’s so big and capable and she doesn’t need me any more” self-pity right now. Solidarity, folks.

Making lists is how I cope with emotion.

So here you have it. A few tips from me to you on how to rock kindergarten.

>> Say yes. Our kids’ social lives — at least while they’re this young — are in our hands. During the first few weeks of school, you’re likely to field invitations for play dates on early release days or get-to-know-your-classmate gatherings at the room mother’s house. I turned these down initially — graciously, of course — mostly because we had legit plans on those days. But also because of my intense fear of small talk with strangers. As the year progressed, though, I began to realize how important these little dates are to Lily’s social development, so I started saying yes. We’ve been on a few outings, and I happily made awkward small talk while watching my daughter flourish.

>> Get involved. One of my all-time favorite things to do is volunteer in Lily’s classroom. I’ve done everything from helping students with reading and math to drawing faces on construction paper turtles. It’s especially fun to be a fly on the wall in Lily’s classroom and get to see what it is she does every day. And, of course, I love the little sideways glances and secret smiles she throws my way. Even if you can only go an hour a month (like me), you’ll be happy you did. So will your kid.

>> Give what you can. Be prepared to be asked for money. Often. Our schools are hurting for funds, so we always try to give what we can. Even if that means tossing in an extra $5 for field trip registration to help another kid participate. Every little bit counts.

>> Go to as many events as possible. My favorites were the Mother’s Day Tea and the Positive Behavior Awards, at which kids are recognized for everything from friendship to creativity.

>> Read the daily folder. This is going to be your primary means of communication with the school, so empty it every day and take note of the important stuff. On any given day, it’ll have a newsletter, announcements, your kid’s projects, permission slips, book fair forms, and sometimes coupons for free fun stuff, like bowling or ice cream. I loved that folder because I’m a paper nerd. But you’ll need to make it your best friend, too.

>>Wear your pride: Marc and I bought school t-shirts at the spring carnival, and whenever I wear mine, Lily announces with a huge grin, “That’s my school!” Best $10 I ever spent.

>>Ask questions, even if you think they’re stupid. Don’t be afraid to email your kid’s teacher, call the school, talk to the principal, etc. I once wrote Lily’s teacher because I didn’t understand how to fill out the book fair form. She answered quickly, Lily got books. Boom.

>> Follow your school’s (or school system’s) social media feeds. They’re informative, current and, as is the case with the Wake County School System’s Twitter feed, can be highly entertaining.

>> Make friends with the school secretary. If you’re like our family and had sick children for 80 percent of the winter, you’ll see a lot of the school secretary. She’s the face of the place and she deals with everything … late kids, sick kids, head lice, you name it. Not to mention trying to work at her desk with a million little interruptions a day. Throw her a smile or thank her with a little treat every now and then. It will make a difference.

>> Thank your kids’ teachers. We can’t afford elaborate gifts, but I found creative ways throughout the year to say thank you, with homemade cookies, small gift cards and personal notes. They’re doing wonderful things for our kids for VERY LITTLE money. Reward them when you’re able.

>> And don’t forget everyone else who helps the school thrive. When Lily and I approached the crossing guard this morning, she started to put up her sign. Then she realized we were actually there to see her. Lily handed her a thank you note (with a small gift card tucked inside) and gave her a hug. The smile on Miss Lottie’s face could have lit the planet. We also delivered homemade gifts to the principal and front office staff, as well as the after-school care director. They’ve all made a difference in Lily’s life this year, in ways both big and small.

>> Most of all: SOAK IT IN. I can’t believe our first year of elementary school is over. I’m sad to “lose” Lily’s teachers, and in a weird way, I’m bummed that I won’t have an excuse to drive over to the school again until August. It’s been incredible to witness Lily’s growth this year — physical, emotional, intellectual, social — and hold in my arms a very confident, smart, happy little girl.

Kindergarten will do wonders for your babies. And at the end, I say you’re still allowed to call them that. Just be prepared for an eye-roll.



guinea pigs

by Suzanne on June 9, 2014

in heart

Ann Tyer Photography family session

When my good friend Ann asked us to be test clients for her new photography business, I didn’t hesitate to punch YES!!!! into my phone. I’m not going to say much about these photos except that they’re glorious and I’m considering papering my living room walls with every single shot.

These images speak for themselves. And for Ann’s immense talent.

How lucky we are to have the gift of these photos that capture our little family (and two little personalities in particular) so beautifully.

Happy guinea pigs, indeed.

Ann Tyer Photography family session

Ann Tyer Photography family session

Ann Tyer Photography family session

Ann Tyer Photography family session

Ann Tyer Photography family session

Ann Tyer Photography family session

Ann Tyer Photography family session

Ann Tyer Photography family session

Ann Tyer Photography family session

Ann Tyer Photography family session

>>> Ann Tyer Photography on Facebook <<<


little big girl gets her first haircut

June 5, 2014

We walked into the kiddie salon and her eyes got wide. Bright colors, loud music, toys everywhere. I reached for her hand and led her over to the stylist, who hoisted her into the big blue chair, draped a smock over her shoulders and handed her a cup of animal crackers. They became fast friends […]

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Etsy favorites: rainy day

May 29, 2014

 coin purse // paper garland // necklace // print This is my version of a rain dance. I love a good storm, and I’m ready for one. Dark sky, wind, thunder, the works. Just not so violent that anyone or anything gets hurt. This might sound weird, but as much as I love summer, I […]

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May 14, 2014

“Mommy, will you play with me?” I can’t tell you how many times in a single day at home with the girls I field that question. And, unfortunately, I also can’t say how many times the answer is, “In just a minute. Mama’s busy washing dishes/folding laundry/(insert chore here).” It really does hurt my heart […]

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May 7, 2014

Likes to wear her shoes on the wrong feet. Calls ants “little fellas.” Hugs me and cheers after I successfully use the toilet. Must do a few jumps and twirls after putting on a dress or skirt. Wakes up in the morning shouting “MA MAAAAA! COME GET ME. I READY.” Twirls her hair in her […]

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