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.

Thursday, April 25

two and a half.

How shall I begin to describe the tremendous growth of your spirit? I ask myself if one blog post even begins to encompass the depth of your nature. Words flow from myself to paint the soft colors of your temperate nature, but to see you in the flesh of your young veracity is another thing in itself. 

While you've always been very observant, now you are asking all sorts of questions and sharing your thoughts about the world. You favor the phrase, "what's that?" We've tried to raise you to question things, and now the inclination is starting to display itself. For example if you hear the kitty making noise you'll say, "what's that kitty doing?? Maaaybe he's pushing his food bowls around." Then you'll run off to see whether your prediction was correct. You rarely assume anything, especially where the emotions of others are concerned; a true show of your intuitiveness.

Complex pretend-play takes place in your dollhouse as you very emotionally recreate scenarios of your own life. You have made up your first imaginary friend who is, according to you, "purple, with big sharp teeth and named Big-Rawr." You very much enjoy and have almost instantly mastered six different age 3+ puzzles we purchased for you. Your favorite toys are ever still your stuffed animals and animal figurines. You are absolutely obsessed with the movie Alice in Wonderland. You love being physical now more than ever before and thus very much at home in gymnastics and Kinderturn.

Recently, you have learned to put yourself to sleep completely without my assistance, though I often sit by your door to wait a few minutes for you to fall asleep. You are also learning to recognize when you become overwhelmed. When you do realize that you've lost control of processing stimuli, you tell me, "I need a break!" You still adore the tattoo I got to represent you, and you occasionally ask to pet Baby's Bunny. You've had a couple of temporary tattoos that you received at a birthday party, and it's adorable to hear you call them "tat-toons!" 

You've also become a wonderful eater and with a little coaxing, will try anything offered to you. Things I never thought I'd see you eat - salad, olives, mustard, fish - are now gobbled up. You've taken to repeating key phrases we use at the dinner table such as, "it's good for my body!" It would be difficult to list your favorite foods now, as you really do enjoy most everything.

You've become in integral part of the kitchen during meal times. You pour oatmeal and water for your breakfast, help me hold a knife to chop vegetables, beat eggs and add ingredients into a bowl or pan. Not only do you help me cook, but you are also learning how to set the table! You get napkins, forks, and spoons all by yourself and you know where to arrange them on the table. You even push your chair in after meals.

With the realization of yourself has also come the gnashing fury against anything which you feel threatens your independence and desires. There is no mindlessness to be found between your carefully enunciated rationals, though you are full of fierce conviction. How dare anyone think to question that which you have deemed true and acceptable? If you have not reasoned within yourself the actions we take, your beautiful and maddening will lashes out in defense. 

The surge of your growth is truly difficult to grasp. Not only do you possess your father's agile intellect, but also my intrinsic sensitivity.  You are a creature of passionate intelligence, with the strongest will balanced by the softest compassion. You are simply, quietly magnificent. 

Tuesday, April 23

springtime in germany.

After weeks of what was considered the coldest spring in the last decade, spring has finally arrived in Germany! After Iris' gymnastics class, we took a trip to one of the many parks on base and brought a picnic lunch of grilled subs. Iris was was so excited to eat outside and play! She climbed all the ladders herself and even went down the big slides on her own! Here's to many more days in the sun and trips to the park! 

Rocking on the fishy.

Spinning us all around!

On the seesaw! 

Papa enjoys the park too!

Mastering the rope ladder.

This slide was like a rocket launcher for small children.

Watch me!

She got spun around and bonked on this big slide, but kept on going!

Cool wheels.

This is the only motorcycle Marius gets until he retires. 

A snuggle on the swing.

My big girl.

Thursday, April 18

gymnastics girl.

Iris has been participating in the base-run gymnastics program for a couple of months now. She has come a long way in terms of being physical with her environment. A few weeks in gymnastics has her running, hopping, tiptoeing, rolling, balancing and more. The class is just 30 minutes once a week, but it's been precious to her. She absolutely adores it, as you can see by the joy and confidence in her face!

Stretching time - touch your toes!

Doing her "Table" pose.

Doing the Bear Crawl.



I did it!

Balancing Bear Crawl.


Straddle walk.

Balancing on the bar.

Hanging onto the bar for as long as she can.
Balance beam with Papa!

Feet in the circle for stamps and stickers at the end of class!

Wednesday, April 17

milk and cookies.

Iris' current favorite book is one called, The Baby Blue Cat and the Whole Batch of Cookies. It was also my favorite at her age, and this is even my original copy which is at least two decades old! Sadly the book is out of print now, so I'm especially glad that my mother saved many of my childhood stories. 

This Baby Blue Cat tale is about a Mama Cat and her Baby Cats who love cookies. One day she bakes a whole batch of cookies. While she and the other cats are busy playing, Baby Blue Cat makes a few mistakes and ends up eating the whole batch! I love the soft, compassionate way the Mama cat responds to her baby making a mistake, and it's even Iris' favorite part, especially when Baby Blue cat falls asleep on her lap at the end.

So yesterday, she read the story to me and afterwards, we baked a whole batch of cookies together! She helped me pour in the ingredients and turn the mixer on. This was her very first time having milk and cookies - she loved it!