Ah, summer.

Q and her speech therapist

When we started speech therapy, it seemed like a weekly chore...something else to add to the busy schedule of our lives. It seemed a little intrusive, and a little intimidating. It was daunting to think of this being a part of our lives for possibly years to come.
But it quickly became a welcome part of our lives. Our therapist became more familiar, and all of us more comfortable around eachother. And QQ enjoys it!
It's fun to watch her eager for each new game that comes out of the therapists' bag of tricks, fun to see what she'll come up with next that's new.
Sam likes to sit in on the action. Sometimes a little too close.
I've found that the best part - at least for me - is when we get homework, something to find or work on or practice for the following week. It's fun because it always produces results. Always. So we always have something new to present when the therapist comes back. Sometimes it's a pinwheel, a dandelion, or a ball of cotton...a cup, a straw, a mirror.
QQ enjoys it, and we enjoy it.
In the end, like so many other surprises since QQ came home, the therapy sessions have enhanced our lives, rather than being a burden.


A few shots from an afternoon stroll through old North Denver...

These parts of town make me feel like I could be back in the Gatsby era, like somewhere in a more affluent part of town, people might be having parties on expansive lawns, fairy light flickering in the manicured hedges, lounging around in drop-waist dresses and cloche hats.

Just for pretty

I think Yoli was asking about "that chair"...well, I hate to admit it but it's been buried under drawing pads, palette pages, discarded sweaters and various other studio detritus for the past few months. Now that the weather has finally decided to turn nice? I've unburied it.
The vine-shaded porch seemed like just the spot for it. Plus, as much energy as Q has right now, it's hard to get a shot of her when she's not just a speed-blur of motion. Since "the chair" is too high for her to climb off of, it's basically a little island of photo-captivity ;)
Oh, and the lovely linen pants she's wearing here are a new (and rare) purchase from L'atelier de Marie et Rose-Alice in the North of France, where Valérie makes the most beautiful and unique French-style garments for children. Limited quantities...I got a couple of the last from the early summer collection. The linen is so fine and the craftsmanship so exquisite, and they come in the cutest little linen drawstring pouch with the definition of "bonbon" written on it in that gorgeous french longhand. That, and she turned around my order in under 48 hours (in spite of some custom tailoring which she herself suggested on the basis of having seen my blogs) and express-mailed it at no extra cost. I'm telling you, this is how all business should be carried out. I miss the days of real craftsmanship (wait....what am I talking about? I wasn't even alive in those days! I miss them retroactively). Maybe this economic shakedown will create a renewed respect for craftsmanship and customer service. You think? Ah, well, I'm an eternal optimist. At least there are still people like Valérie in this world. (You should check out her blog, by the way. It's full of beautiful photos of the countryside and gardens, and of her lovely children).


Are you kidding me????

I can't stand it. I really can't. How is it that this bird has better rhythm than me?

Little QQ in the garden

Just a note to say that you can find QQ and her lettuce on Mindful Mama today, illustrating a story about kids, kitchen gardens, and the pleasure of vegetables, written by Melissa B. Williams. Go see! It's a great story (and a great magazine!).

Little Green Thumbs


little yogi

I first learned of QQ's propensity for yoga when I glanced at her monitor one day during a nap and saw her doing this. I immediate tiptoed across the house to see in person, and found her just on the point of lifting her feet off the ground. She can only get them up a few inches - not all the way into a headstand - but this was entirely on her own. She'd never seen it done. This has turned into a pre or post-naptime ritual for her, and I've found her doing other yoga poses as well (the half-moon, for instance). I find this exciting, not only because she came up with this on her own, but because it makes me feel like yoga is even more intuitive and integral to the human condition than I ever imagined. Don't get me wrong - I've only ever been a yoga diletente (though it shames me to say so) but QQ is encouraging me to branch out a bit. So I bought this lovely deck of yoga cards for her and me to experiment with. It's hilarious, because the first time I did the downward-facing dogs, she lay down, rolled underneath me, and struck the same pose directly between my limbs. I wish I had a video of that!
Flowers in the Seattle-like weather we've been having for the past week or two.
Daddy helping QQ with her exercises.

Daddy has added a little tumbling routine to QQ's headstand time, and she loves it! We're hoping to get her into gymnastics one of these days soon....just...so....busy......!


Full disclosure (as usual).

Today I feel the need to send a shout-out to single mothers everywhere. Can you say "superwomen?" (Sarah-the-fantastic comes to mind here, again, along with many of the brave women in my local adoption group).

Here's the thing: we have pretty much the most ideal family situation I can imagine. Sure, it would help if we had a few extra k in our bank accounts (haha!). But I have no desire to be fabulously wealthy, and the fact is, people raise families with a lot less than we have. What we do have? A lovely, comfortable, soothing, airy, modest home. A daughter who causes us very little trouble, and adds joy to our lives in such gargantuan proportions that we feel bowled over by the sheer force of her happiness. The rare and invaluable gift of a wonderful, trusting, peaceful, supportive, joy-filled and loving marital relationship.

So, as you can see, there are few ways in which we could have it much better.

That said: it isn't easy to maintain a balance in a family. We do our best, and we are both willing and diligent contributors to the effort (which is crucial). The trouble is, if you are just two people in this economy, with a child to watch, a house to clean, a garden to tend, two careers to maintain, insurance to hold up, and no daycare, no housekeeper, no nanny...it's not easy.

The majority of the time, we maintain the balance in a way that seems nearly effortless. As long as each of us is able to take our turn, and pull our weight equally with chores, errands and childcare, it works like a dream. No one gets overly tired, no one gets overly stressed, and everyone is happy.

However, there are always those times when things get out of balance. Someone gets sick. Someone has an extra workload to knock out. Someone looses an insurance policy, or accumulates an extra debt. And the world suddenly tilts off its axis.

That's where we're at this month. For one thing, M is one of the few people that have not been fired in his workplace. This is both a blessing and a curse. He still has a job, but he now does the work previously done by four men. Because he's tough, and stoic, and a diligent worker, he is able to do this without complaint. But he is also in his last six months of graduate school in hopes of obtaining his MBA. His chosen school has very high standards, and thus far his academic performance has been exceptional - even through the adoption, and QQ's surgeries, and the transition to parenthood. The real problems come when he is in final exams at the end of each semester. And that's where we are right now.

What this means is that he is under extraordinary pressure to perform both at work and at school. He gets home from work close to midnight, and goes straight into studying for exams and papers. He is not getting enough sleep. Not nearly enough. This makes it difficult for him to wake with QQ on the alternate mornings when he usually takes her. For my part, I can survive alright on a little less sleep, and am able to take some extra mornings without suffering a great deal. But what this also means for me is that I am deprived of those days on which I have mornings free to do my own work. Already scrambling to keep up with freelance jobs, with a waiting list that I have not even begun to tackle, this puts me even farther behind.

The other factor involved is more nebulous, and it has to do with how much "personal time" a person needs in order to stay sane, level-headed, and rational. Both of us love and treasure our time with the QQ above and beyond any other pleasure in life. But the fact is that everyone (or most of us mortals) needs a bit of time to themselves - alone time, time to let the mind wander, time to indulge in personal meditative rituals, time to listen to silence, to contemplate the world around us without being attentive to another human being. No matter how much I adore my time with the Q, if I have no time to myself, I start to change. My temper grows short and my nerves raw. I lose my sense of proportion and perspective. Lack of sleep starts to catch up with me in ways that it normally doesn't, and small tasks begin to feel overwhelming.

All I'm saying, really, is that it's a very delicate balance. We are extremely fortunate in that we are both willing and determined to shoulder the duties of life in equal proportion, to "have eachother's back", to be there for one another when support is most needed. But we are both also human. We are not supermen. And sometimes life takes the reins and runs amok.

Like I said, it's not easy. It's a constant balancing act. So I send out props to all those single mothers (you are my heroes) and to all those couples struggling to make a go of it in tough times, to all those families who have lost jobs, insurance policies, homes...and are still forging ahead, making it work, loving their families and knowing that that is enough. You are, actually, all my heroes. I wish you strength and peace.

Do you love ranunculus like I love ranunculus?

I ask you, did you ever see anything as beautiful as this flower?


The man who hung the moon...or everything but.

You know what they say about little girls and their daddies: that they think that daddy hung the moon? Well, QQ has plenty of evidence to back up this "illusion". She may not have seen him - not with her own eyes - hang the moon. Not yet, anyway.
But she has seen plenty else that is wondrous.

On some mornings, Daddy brings her the still-warm milk of twelve virgin yaks that roam the flower-strewn fields of the highest mountain in the world.
On some afternoons, she wakes from the drowsy slumber of a summer nap to find him hammering together the wings of 132 platinum-winged butterflies, crafting a most delicate fan to cool her heat-dampened brow on the hottest of days.
On a chill evening, she sometimes hears a clackety-clack, and peeks round the corner to find him working the shuttle that spins the wool of 12 cashmere goats, each fed on a pure diet of creme fraiche and wild strawberries, in order to weave a fragrant blanket that will keep her warm and dry on even the most blustery of nights.
Q has seen her daddy wrestle an angry bullock for her. She has watched him catch a bonefish in the salt flats of the Bahamas with only his bare hands and a pair of cheap sunglasses, just to hear the rusty tinkle of her laugh. She has seen him swordfight with a pirate king on the high seas to defend her honour, and riddle the Sphinx in the Egyptian desert to ensure her safe passage.
Her daddy has carried her through the darkest corridors of a stormy night on his broad shoulders, singing the whole way. He has swum through tunnels of obsidian to find her an ounce of fresh water from a subterranean well. He has charmed the sirens themselves with his confounding lyrics, and turned the tide back on itself so that she might walk without fear on dry sand.
And then, the other night, he hung - well, not the moon - but the earth and stars and the four corners of the compass for her. He hung them himself, with his bare hands (in spite of the searing heat) and now it hangs high above her head when she lies in her bed, twinkling and generating sweet, fragrant breezes to caress her skin as she sleeps.

So, maybe he didn't hang the moon...not yet. But that could happen any day now.

A little fantasy

Someone on another blog of mine read my previous post about QQ's legendary charm, and was curious to know what happens when she gets angry. So I wrote this little story for her (thought I'd post it here as well): Lorna has requested that I write about what happens when the Q gets angry...and, oh yes, I can comply.

When the Q gets angry, the dark clouds gather and roil in the brilliant blue of the Colorado sky. The rivers run from south to north, and threaten their banks.
When the Q is angry, her eyebrows gather close and threatening over the black pools of her eyes, and the rose-tint of her cheeks turns to deep magenta.
When the Q is angry, she calls up the mice from the basement, and orders them into service to pull her chariot.
The orderly and peaceable books fly from the shelves, their pages trembling in apprehension. The cans of food jostle restively against their cabinet doors, ready to jump. Porcelain saucers rattle against one another with the nervous chatter of chandeliers in a windstorm.
Flash floods gather and roil through the slot canyons in the desert, and the ravens rise cawing from their cedars.
When the Q is angry, she fills the drains with angel hair pasta, and pours extra-virgin olive oil into the heating vents.
Clouds of gadflys darken the sky, and the imperturbable daisies droop where they stand.
When the Q grows angry, leopards change their spots, and giraffes tie nervous top knots in their hair....

OK, all of this happens (well, most of it), but only in the space of 1.25 seconds, because once that time has elapsed, the Q has forgotten why she is angry. Her eyebrows un-knit, and the roseat glow returns to her cheeks like a sunrise in the desert.

The Q, in fact, is a creature of joy. She is, as far as we can tell, spun together from the laughter of a thousand butterflies. A dark day does not dawn in the Q's world. When she cries (which is very rarely) it passes like a summer squall, followed almost instantly by sunshine. The broad and mirthful smile returns to her lips even before the tiny glass drops of tears can dry from her inky lashes. In spite of what many might consider a rough beginning to her life, this is a child born to happiness, and she isn't stingy with it! She fills every room in the house with it, as well as the vases, the flowerpots, the tea cannisters, and the rainspouts when it isn't raining. We have happiness stored up against a rainy day here, happiness in spades and bushels and fathoms. So if you happen to ever be in need of some, just ask! We can surely spare a cup.

holiday weekend

It was a social weekend for Q and I, and I hadn't even realized how much I needed it. Too much time in the studio has left me largely friendless, and it was nice to spend some time just chatting aimlessly with friends I hadn't seen in quite a while. On Sunday, we joined J and her kids, B & Z, for some indoor playtime, while the deluge and lightening storms raged on outside. We had tried for a run to a local park during a break in the storms, but ended up racing for cover through fast-flooding streets and a rather impressive electrical display. We made it inside the garage just a few feet ahead of a very close lightening strike.B & Z had lots to show QQ, including this go-fish game, which fascinated her. B (who, I am lead to understand, is sometimes a little prickly with his own baby sister) was incredible with QQ. He showed her around the house, brought out toys he thought would be her speed, offered her food and drink when he thought she might be hungry, and even explained most of the plot of Star Wars to her in great detail ;)
It was really sweet to watch them interact.
While Mommy (who doesn't get as much time out-of-doors these days as she would like) would have appreciated some time at the park, Q thoroughly enjoyed playing indoors with the kids.
Especially when she discovered that they have a very similar "big-green-ball" to the one she is fond of at home.
She and Z, who are a few months apart, were able to play quite well together.
This is Z and Q with a play-food set...
...with which they ended up "feeding" one another. Quite the act of trust for two kids who barely know one another, don't you think?.... Even if this does seem to be a bottle of mustard that they're sucking on (I can see QQ trying it with the real thing next time she sees one).
Reading together.
On Monday, a friend of mine from my Vail years brought her daughter down from the mountains just to spend the day with us! It's been a loooong time, and L and I had a great deal to catch up on. Still raining, though not as heavily as the day before....we had the chance to walk down our local "main street" for some Thai food, and then do a little ambling around the neighborhood, which is very pretty after all this unusual moisture.
Q running to catch up with us...
...and running!
After lunch, we hoped to stop by the local vintage amusement park. We put Q in the stroller since she had missed naptime and was getting wiggly. L's daughter T very much enjoyed pushing QQ around in the stroller, with QQ looking back and waving at her happily from time to time.
A beautiful blue door with a lovely tree...anyone know what kind of tree this is? I want one!

This is where we had hoped to spend the rest of the afternoon...but bad weather early in the day had closed them down shortly after opening.
So we spent the afternoon at home instead. Once Q went down for her belated nap, hilarity ensued with our sunglass collection.

We've got some wacky ones, no doubt about it!
After that, T sat down with a copy of the book I illustrated, and read it aloud to us...
...which was lovely!

More dress-up antics...
...and still more. You may recognize this collander - it's popularity as headgear around our house has surprised us all.
Looking like a little Road Warrior.
The kid is a ham! And she has a talent for costuming.
One all combinations were exhausted, she decided to try them on Q's dinosaur.
We had a blast, and I feel rejuvenated, re-socialized, and ready to face another week of solitary work (well, solitary if you don't count the Q, who is usually company enough for anyone!)