26 January 2015

Kiddo Art

[Easel Painting: neon dot splatters on paper]

[Mixed Media // "The City At Night." Sharpie and watercolor buildings cut & pasted onto black paper. Tinfoil and star stickers represent light]

[Cozy Winter Hats: cardstock, patterned craft tape, felt, pompoms, glue, scissors]

 [Snow People Collage: doilies, construction paper, felt, foam shapes, buttons, clear glue, scissors]

 [Melted Snowman: tempera paint in "hot colors," homemade white puffy paint and assorted collage materials]

["Inside My Imagination" // Pastels & Liquid Watercolor]
 "It's a magical bridge stretching over a giant machine that makes candy. I'm on top of the bridge trying to catch the candy that's flying through the air. My family is at the bottom because I love them."

...A small assortment of recently produced artwork by the creative kiddos in my Pre-K classroom. 

24 January 2015

For Saturday Couch Potato-ing

Thought I'd share a few of the many tabs I currently have open on my desktop...

Parents Talking to Their Kids About Sex For the First Time. Tiho and I were laughing out loud watching this. So awkward, adorable and hilarious.

I know this is everywhere, but I adore it: To Fall in Love With Anyone, Do This. (A thought-provoking article from the NY Times Modern Love column). And then, the The New Yorker's awesome response: To Fall OUT of Love, Do This.

The Science of Simplicity: Why Successful People Wear the Same Thing Everyday. It seems like the term capsule wardrobe is everywhere lately. I'm not entirely convinced the concept is for me, but this article provides an interesting argument for drastically simplifying your wardrobe.

I've heard that the wedding footage from Maroon 5's latest music video is at least partially "faked," but I still think it's fabulous. The song is exceptionally catchy, too. I've played it no less than 97 times in the past week.

Why do we put ourselves in [proverbial] boxes? Kate's recent post on the repercussions of labeling really hit home for me. A quality read.

On a related note, I can't get enough of my sister's recently published piece about The Masks We Wear in Crowded Places. (Go Emma!)

The Delightfully Short Guide to Reading More Books. True, all of it. (It also helps when you finally embrace the e-reader and your techie husband happily loads up your iPad with all of your book requests).

19 January 2015

Family Session At Home in Soho

Oh, gosh. I remember leaving this session and thinking "that was totally awesome." Their vision was completely compatible with my shooting style. They wanted me to capture candid "everyday" moments in their home and around their neighborhood in West Soho, and we did just that. It doesn't hurt that they also happen to be ridiculously gorgeous (and nice!) people. :)

11 January 2015

2015 // Love Well

Oh, hey. Happy New Year! I hope you've got your feet curled up under something nice and cozy. I'm trudging along in my usual January slump. I know everyone is all "Rock on, January!  Resolutions! Fresh starts!"

I'm side-eyeing those people something fierce. This month is most definitely not my fave.

Anyway, now that you've been sufficiently greeted by grumpy mcgrumperston, how about a little fun?

Pictured above (next to the gratuitous self-portrait) is this year's happy-maker, presented to Tiho on Christmas day. I planned a year of dates, one for each month of 2015. We're pretty good about romancing each other, but we're also pretty good at being complete homebodies and never leaving our couch. I'm super stoked to bring back date night and celebrate our love all year long.

I tried to plan seasonal dates based on our individual and common interests. Tiho is a total adrenaline junkie and loves outdoorsy and sporty activities, so the rock climbing, trapeze class, kayaking and pro-football game were specifically picked for him (I'm pumped too!). A hot air balloon ride has been on my bucket list forever, so I figured that will be the splurge for our 4-year wedding anniversary in September. We just booked the "sexy" cooking class for Valentine's Day (woop woop!) and will kick off this whole shebang with a jazz show & dinner at the end of the month. We may choose to amend a plan or two depending on our interests and circumstances each month, but we're both fully committed to following through with twelve monthly dates.

"Loving well" in 2015. That's my only resolution this year.

27 December 2014

A Paris Daydream

The annual photo-sorting event where I reminisce about the passing of yet another year and scramble to share memories that never made it to the ole' blog.

Paris was certainly a highlight. Here's to more adventuring in 2015. (And maybe more blogging? I think I forgot how to blog).

[Photos: June 2014 // Paris, France]

15 December 2014

Repeat the Sounding Joy

2014, in many ways, has been both the hardest and most beautiful of my life. I don't know if I've ever recognized the passing of time as much as I have these last twelve months. When you long for something, time is confusing; both fickle and precious.

This weekend was the first in months that felt the way a weekend ought to feel. It involved the holiday tents and ice skaters in Central Park. Long walks with cold puffs of air every time I opened my mouth. Hot chocolate to temper the chill. The aroma of gingerbread cookies fresh from the oven on Sunday morning. The indulgence of a single pink peony for $13. Naps, reading, slippers and pizza for dinner.

I haven't personally thanked everyone who's reached out the past several weeks. I hope you know how much I appreciate your kindness.

To you and everyone:

"For each new morning with its light,
For rest and shelter of the night,
For health and food, for love and friends,
For everything this goodness sends."
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

P.S. A few things I'm loving lately:

This perfect gift for the pint-sized chef in your life;
My beautiful new watch (an early Christmas present from Tiho);
These stunning pour over coffee stands;
This important reminder;
Timely words about holiday traditions;

30 November 2014

A New England Thanksgiving

Just a few iPhone snapshots from our Thanksgiving holiday at home on Cape Cod. We feasted, we lounged, we strolled and we laughed. The laughter felt really, really good.

Items of note:

Touring the Gardens Aglow at Heritage Plantation;

Staying at the 1750 Inn Bed & Breakfast and basically becoming best friends with the innkeepers (Whuddup Jan & Charlie!);

Playing Heads Up! after dinner one night and falling over in hysterics (I totally peed my pants).

Photos: November 2014 // iPhone 5 
Follow along on instagram: @exquisitebanana

23 November 2014

Hope Is Grief's Best Music

It's a peculiar thing to share sad news on social media. A part of me just wants to disappear or post frivolity until I feel whole again, because that feels easiest. But, it doesn't feel honest, and I need to be honest in the acknowledgment of my own grief right now.

I don't know how else to broach the topic aside from the truth: we lost our baby.

We conceived mere days after I published this post, which feels ironic in itself.  I couldn't believe it when two pink lines showed up on the home pregnancy test (and then again, darker, on two more over the next several days). Once the shock subsided, elation set in. I scheduled my first prenatal appointment, ordered the pregnancy books I'd been bookmarking for nearly a year and quietly began sharing the happy news with our families and close friends. We were so thrilled.

Then, two Fridays ago, I started to feel mild cramping while teaching. I wasn't too concerned by it, because everything I read suggested it was normal, especially at six weeks, and that I only needed to worry if the cramping was accompanied by bleeding. By Saturday, I began spotting lightly. My worry increased, but I didn't want to let myself crumble into full-on anxiety unless I had a valid reason, so I moved my doctor's appointment up to earlier in the week to help alleviate my fears. I happened to have two photo shoots that day which kept me busy and distracted. Sunday passed uneventfully, but I still went to sleep feeling unsettled.

When I woke up on Monday morning, I knew from excruciating physical evidence and a hollow feeling deep in my gut that a miscarriage was underway. Two blood tests and one ultrasound later, my worst fear was confirmed: I wasn't pregnant anymore.

The emotional anguish is unlike anything I've ever experienced. My little world came to a screeching halt while the rest of the world continues to spin. It feels particularly unfair because of how long we waited for this baby. I experienced a dark moment right after it happened where I wished we hadn't ever found out we were expecting, because to be given a gift as sweet as that after months of praying for it--only to have it ripped away shortly thereafter--feels especially cruel. I also have this overwhelming sense of guilt that because this all unfolded in a matter of weeks, we didn't have the opportunity to tell everyone we were planning on telling, and now they're finding out about both the pregnancy and the miscarriage here. I know that worry seems insignificant and ridiculous, but it matters to me.

Due to the unfortunate physical repercussions of miscarriage, I was at home on doctor-ordered bed rest for a whole week. Now that I've been back at work for several days and am slowly catching up on answering client emails & editing photo sessions, I feel a little bit lost. Reinstating a "normal" routine is both restorative and heart-breaking.

I've found some solace in reading other people's stories about pregnancy loss while curled up in bed, although it makes me ache to know that so many women have these stories to share. 1 in 5. Twenty percent. That's a sobering statistic, and one that keeps flashing through my brain over and over again. 

How can something so common be so painful?

Do you believe in signs? I do. Some of you may remember that I lost my maternal grandmother on my birthday two years ago. She was a woman I resemble in a lot of eerily similar ways, and when I noted the date once it was confirmed we lost this baby, it didn't surprise me that it was her birthday: November 11th (11:11). I cried and cried and cried because of the significance. You see, my nana experienced two or three miscarriages in between the births of her three children. My sister, who rushed to meet me and Tiho after my initial doctor's appointment, tenderly pointed out that maybe the timing of this was nana conveying that she is here with me, holding my hand and letting me know that it is going to be okay. 

I wrestled for a while in deciding whether or not to post this. I considered waiting until we had happy news to share, but you know what? Sometimes life is sad and uncertain, and there's nothing wrong with that. I'm human, you're human and we all go through tough shit. It's confusing, because while I certainly don't want this struggle to define me, it is a part of me now. I share because it's all I know how to do. I don't believe human beings are meant to suffer alone: by writing this down, I hope that somebody, somewhere, feels even the smallest sense of comfort, solidarity, connection or understanding.

I know we will heal and move forward from this and eventually conceive another baby. If there is any shred of goodness to be found in this experience, it is the knowledge that my body is capable of getting pregnant on its own. I strongly feel the presence of a tiny soul close by who is fighting hard to find us, too (maybe that makes me sound nutty, but so be it). I am equally excited and terrified by the prospect of trying again. In the end though, isn't that what parenthood is all about? Beauty and terror? Loving your child(ren) so fiercely that absolutely nothing trumps their wellbeing? Feeling your heart lurch outside of your body in the wake of their harm?

I came across these words in a children's book at exactly the right time. They perfectly convey my emotions surrounding this neverborn child: 

"I wanted you more than you ever will know...
So I sent love to follow wherever you go.
In the green of the grass...in the smell of the sea...
In the clouds floating by...at the top of a tree...
At the sound crickets make at the end of the day...
You are loved, you are loved, you are loved...they all say."

*Painting by Beth Allen. It makes me feel connected, and for that, I am grateful. Despite how profoundly sucky this whole situation has been, I am still grateful. Grateful for my ability to feel things intensely, grateful for unfettered trust in the universe, and, more than anything, grateful for hope.

P.S. Below, some additional reading if you're interested (it helps to know we aren't alone when navigating the complexity of this poignant heartbreak):

Suite 994 (I've followed this blog for years. I returned the other day and re-read her entire archive).

06 November 2014

At This Point In Early November

It's raining today and the trees outside the window are the richest hues of copper and gold. I feel more attuned right now, noticing the sound of my shoes crunching over the leaves on the street, or how my living room currently smells like the coziest combination of evergreen and cloves, or how the kiddos on the city sidewalks are pink-cheeked and wearing tiny wool hats.

I love this time of year; the transition of the harvest season towards the holidays. I love curling up under my cream-colored cable knit throw on the couch in the evenings and feeling sleepy only minutes after dinner and not caring if everything on my list gets accomplished each day. I love sipping hot soup from a mug and hatching plans to make a wreath from red berries & twisted eucalyptus and the way the late afternoon light bathes everything in the softest, warmest glow.

I love moments that make me startlingly aware that a memory is being made; for example, when Tiho picks me up and twirls me in the kitchen in the middle of chopping onions to put on our pizza.

At this point in early November, I am gratified by the bountiful gifts surrounding me and the unbridled appreciation I have for them. We, as humans, all too frequently forget these gifts; the gifts derived from nature, from kindness, from interconnectedness.

As the season of giving commences, let us all strive towards a little more intentionality.

03 November 2014

Sunday Routine

"It's not that we spend five days looking forward to just two. It's that most people do what they enjoy most on those two days. Imagine living a life where everyday are your Saturdays and Sundays.  Make everyday your weekend. Make everyday a play day." 
-James A. Murphy

6:54 AM: I lazily glance at my phone and wonder why on earth I feel awake and rested before 7 AM on a Sunday. I then realize that daylight savings happened during the wee hours of the morning, so my body feels like it is 8 AM.

7:25 AM: I decide I'm no longer sleepy, so I slide my feet into too-big-but-perfectly-broken-in slippers (Tiho's old pair) and pad into the kitchen to brew some coffee. While there, I spontaneously decide to bake something because I feel like I should take advantage of this extra hour. Fifteen minutes later, I slide pumpkin bread into the oven, turn on the dishwasher and wait for the kettle to whistle. 

8:10 AM: I sauté a bowl of spinach and fry some eggs to put on toast. Tiho sleepily wanders into the kitchen looking bewildered as to why his wife is awake before him (and already cooking!) on a weekend morning. 

8:30 AM: We eat breakfast together at the table listening to Frank Sinatra on Pandora because we are cliché. 

9:15 AM - 12:15 PM: I work on the computer for a while (edit photos, write a handful of student reports for parent/teacher conferences this week, etc.). I pause around 11 AM to snack on a slice of fresh pumpkin bread and a clementine.

12:30 PM: I get dressed, throw on a little make-up and try to tame the bed head. I have an afternoon photo session, so I gather camera equipment and pack up my bag.

1:30 PM: I eat a quick lunch and dig a wool hat out of the closet because the weather app (and the window) warn me that it's blustery and cold.

2:00 PM: I hop into the car and drive to the session location (a state park), about 35 minutes away.

3:00-4:30 PM: Happy to wear my photographer cap for a bit and catch up with clients during our session (we discover a sheep pasture!).

5:15 PM: I arrive back home and immediately change into sweats before unwinding for an hour on my laptop.

6:15 PM: Tiho presents dinner (honey glazed chicken wings, roasted squash & rice pilaf) and we eat it together on the couch while watching the Patriot's game.

7:00 - 9:00 PM: I finish up work (emails, conference reports, draft a to-do list for the upcoming week, etc.).

9:00 PM: Time for a quick shower and general nighttime routine. 

9:30 PM: I organize my desk,  choose tomorrow's outfit and check to make sure all of Monday's essentials are in my tote.

10:00 PM: I crawl into bed and spend a few minutes writing some thoughts in my journal.

10:30 PM: Good night!