Friday, March 21

a conversation about princesses.

"How about scrambled eggs and applesauce for breakfast?"

"Yum yum yummy in my tum tum tummy! Can I have my princess plate just like my princess jammies?"

"Well, yes... why do you like princesses so much all of a sudden?"

"Because Belle goes in the snow and her Papa has a horse. Snow White runs away from big rawrs. Princesses dance! This one on my dress wears a crown and somebody DIES."

Wednesday, February 19

our favorite shows for babies and preschoolers.

Around the time Iris was born, Marius and I made a decision to cancel our cable and basic television subscriptions. We switched to streaming from Netflix and buying any of the other shows we wanted to watch. Part of our reasoning for this was because in our opinion, much of what is on tv these days is junk. It's loaded with commercials, so even watching a good show or two at night was tedious for us.

Like most parents, we are choosy about what shows we allow Iris to watch. The lack of regular tv has allowed us to research and choose exactly what media Iris ingests. Below is a list of  the shows we feel are the most educational and emotionally intelligent shows for kids to learn from and enjoy.

Harold and the Purple Crayon was Iris' first television show when she was a baby. The main character, Harold, is easy for small children to relate to. Harold is a young boy who imagines "what if..." scenarios and draws them out with his purple crayon. Each short episode is full of fun and song, while still being unflashy and simple to understand. The show teaches that it's a good thing to ask questions, and that exploring the world is a wonderful experience. Harold creates his own adventures while learning about life - just as we all do!

Based on the books by Maurice Sendak, Little Bear follows the simple and heartwarming experiences of the main character, Little Bear. The show focuses on Little Bear's personal relationships with his family and friends, each of whom has a unique personality.  Iris has always gravitated to Little Bear's soft music and gentle way of walking through emotions and situations. Serene, is the best word for this show. Little Bear is actually more like reading a book, than watching a tv show.

Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood intends to continue the legacy of the beloved Fred Rogers. Daniel is the son of characters in Mr. Roger's Neighborhood, and the show takes places in The Land of Make Believe. Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood continues to spread the messages that Fred Rogers is so well loved for. Iris has learned all the little "jingles" each episode provides to explain feelings and ideas to children. For example, "when we do something new, let's talk about what we'll do!"  This show encompasses a great deal of the gentle, honest way of life taught by Fred Rogers.

The Magic School Bus, paves the way to a love of science. An eccentric teacher called Ms. Frizzle takes her fourth grade class on field trips to explore the world in depth. Each episode focuses on a new aspect of science, during which the kids are learning by experience. I'd say the show targets age 5 and up, though Iris still loves this show and she grasps a basic understanding. From tide pools to outer space, to the digestive system - the magic school bus can go anywhere! It's never too early to start learning!

Wednesday, December 4

choosing to be tattooed, revisited.

I find it fascinating that in over two years of blogging, primarily about my small daughter, my third most popular post of all time is "On Choosing to be Tattooed." My guess is that a great number of people are curious about my choice to become heavily tattooed and are interested in my reasons for doing so. Tattoos are far more widely accepted in our society than ever before. No longer only for bikers, sailors and carnival attractions; statistics state that currently, one in five Americans has a tattoo. A meaningful phrase on the wrist, or a symbol on the ankle are widely worn by modern women. However, a woman with a large tattoos is still very rare and most often still viewed as taboo.

I had expected to receive numerous glares or comments such as "how could you do that to your body?" I can't even count how many people have come up to me asking who made my tattoos and proclaiming how beautiful and detailed they are. I will never forget the first comment that a stranger made to me in public. On a day trip into Luxembourg City, Marius, Iris and I were sitting on a patio with some friends, having a beer and chatting. An older woman, dressed very well  with white hair and easily in her 70's, passed close by and said directed to me, "votre décoration est très chic. (Your decoration is very chic.)" Caught by surprise, I mumbled a, "merci madame," and proceeded to blush furiously with unexpected delight.

To share a bit more about why my tattoos are so meaningful to me, I'll share the symbolism behind one of them - the one which is yet unfinished and needs color. This piece is a reference to a Cherokee story called The Wolves Within, first shared with me by my grandmother when I was a teenager.

My unfinished thigh piece by artist Sebastian Brade - Germany.
The old wolf on my leg symbolizes the angry wolf, a part of my life full of pain and rage. He wears an eyepiece to symbolize that his way of thinking is flawed. The woman represents the positive wolf of benevolence and empathy. She has grown in character to take human form. She silences the old wolf with her hand as he glares up at her, just as I silence the negativity in my past. However, the woman also wears a sheep's head, or "sheep's clothing." This is a purposeful symbol for questioning and examining my own behavior, motivations and choices. The tattoo represents that idea that I must remember to consider what emotions and pathways I give power to in my life.

While I have received only positive feedback from strangers and friends, I know that many members of my family do not understand why I would ever be tattooed and may even resent me for doing so. In fact, the only negativity I have received was during a recent phone call with my aunt, who told me I was "going to regret doing that when I'm older." Since I respect my aunt, regardless of her occasionally contrasting opinions, I merely responded with "mmhm" and waited for her to move on.

While her comments were a bit hurtful, unsolicited as they were, they certainly do nothing to sway my appreciation for tattooing. After spending countless years hating my body and doing irreparable damage to it, I can say that I find my body beautiful. I am proud of the fact that I am no longer afraid to be myself.  I put the things that I love on my body, and each piece has very deep personal meaning. The ink may fade and distort with age, but the representation of important things in my life will always remain. 

Monday, December 2

a little taste of summer.

Summer in Germany is punctuated by an abundance of fresh fruit. I don't mean to say that the markets are stocked with fruit (although that is usually the case.) The fruit relevant to this post is grown right in our own backyard. Most yards and other open grassy areas boast at least one fruit tree. 

Our home has three fruit trees growing out front - yellow plum, apple and cherry. It's really quite a wonderful feeling to pick fruit that grows right outside your door. The convenience of supermarkets has taken that simple pleasure away from many of us and it feels good to get back in touch with nature. It was especially nice to show Iris exactly where fruit comes from - she loved this experience!

We even picked these on the side of a back road in our town!

Wednesday, November 13


Marius and Iris at the Frankenstein Castle Halloween family day!
Enjoying - the cooler weather which has now fully settled into the bones of Germany. We're certainly missing our sunny days; autumn, winter and spring are known to be vastly occupied by unbroken cloud cover. However, there's something magical to me about this season. I love that first hot cloud of my own breath in the air as I step outside. The coziness of a mug of hot tea whilst cocooning myself in blankets and snuggling with my dearest ones will win over sweating in the sun any day!

Reading - rather, rereading the book 1-2-3 Magic. If you have children, this book is an absolute must in my opinion. When Iris was a baby, I thought I was above the idea of giving time-outs. For many years now, Marius and I have both been implementing the ideas found in the book P.E.T (which I also highly recommend as a form of learning how to better communicate.) While these methods have helped her grow into an enormously empathetic, intelligent and logical person, it just hasn't been enough to handle the often irrational toddler brain. 1-2-3 Magic really does work and I recommend it to all of those who give childcare!

Watching - a lot of Mulan, which is Iris' most favorite movie right now. I also just finished Season 2 of Once Upon a Time and Marius and I have just started watching Season 1 so he can catch up on the story too. I can hardly wait until the third season of Game of Thrones comes out on blu-ray! We've also been completely obsessed with The Big Bang Theory and Iris often asks, "are we going to watch Sheldon??"

Planning - for Christmas! I've already bought all of the presents for extended family and will be working on wrapping and packaging next week! It feels nice to get everything finished and not have to worry about rushing to get things shipped out at the last minute.

Anticipating - the Christmas Markets here in Europe! The larger markets typically begin running in mid to late November and go through Christmas. Most of the small towns here have weekend events during which entire town centers are shut down and dedicated to enjoying the Christmas spirit and shopping for locally made goods. The gluwein is boiling hot to stave off the freezing wind, the sugary scent of hot Belgian waffles and melty crepes fills the air, and that special Christmas warmth of everyone around is enough to make anyone smile (even if you are freezing half to death.)

I've missed blogging and I know many of you have missed the posts of photos and stories about Iris. Feel free to comment with what you have been up to lately and let's get back in touch!

Monday, June 10

my water baby.

When Iris was about six months old, I started a little photo project which resulted in some of my favorite photos I've ever taken of my daughter. Every few months, I photograph her in the bath and the progression of pictures over time is amazing to me.

Her uninterrupted details capture my heart. As a baby, her hair lay wet and flat against her head, ending above her neck in a little "ducktail" as tiny, dimpled hands grasped at the tub, with a little tongue poking out.

Now she is almost three years old and her hands are no longer dimpled as she scrubs the tub with a washcloth. Her hair has grown into fine little ringlets that bounce happily near her once plump apple cheeks.

I request a smile for the camera - I sing to her, tell her funny stories, make funny noises - she is unamused. "No, I'm cleaning with you, Mama."

See some more of my water baby pictures right here.