Monday, July 22, 2013

Alexandria Afternoon

Back in June, we spent a wonderful day as a family in Alexandria. We drank coffee, shopped and lunched. For more images from our day check out my blog at

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

These are the moments, that bubble up like pure, fresh, springs into the sometimes barren deserts of parenthood that make me think, "Damn girl (and boy) we are certainly doing something right."

Raise the good you want to see in the world.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Don't Talk to Strangers

With Elise and the kids visiting her parents in Cheney, I have pull myself out of bed at 5:00 a.m. to go running. The summer solstice, the longest day of the year, has passed, and though it was just a week or two ago, the mornings are already growing darker. Still, it is my favorite part of the day. The hardest part isn't getting out of bed. The hardest part is making myself stop running and get back in time to get ready to go to work.

There are a fair number of people on the trail at this time of morning. Not nearly as many as in the cars heading into work on 66 eastbound, a virtual river of tail lights three lanes wide, flowing slowly to its confluence with the Potomac. Usually there are more cyclists than runners. They make there presence known with a short bleat of their bell or an "On your left!" as they whiz by.

I say good morning to most everyone I pass. Sometimes, but not all the time, they will say good morning back and never initiate the greeting on their own. You couldn't run five feet in Brasilia without someone shouting "Bom dia!" at you, but in Northern Virginia such pleasantries are ignored, have been forgotten, or perhaps repressed at childhood.

I know this is not a universal truth, but the lot I run with seems less friendly than most. Many avoid direct eye contact as though I were Medusa and to meet my gaze meant an eternity cast in stone. The only thing I can think of is they took their parents' warning not to talk to strangers too literally.

I agree a certain amount of caution is wise, but there about a trillion times more strangers in the world than I have friends. If I don't take a chance a talk to a stranger every once in awhile--especially when Elise and the kids are not around--who am I going to talk to?

It makes me glad Sam is as friendly as he is. I haven't known him to talk to anyone he shouldn't, but the politeness and pleasantness he has shown to adults he does not know--on the playground of our apartment building, for example--does not go unnoticed. Though it is in our nature to be guarded, and many times with good reason, I hope he does not lose this affinity to smile and greet with ease. Someday, perhaps when he is on his morning jog, someone will notice and appreciate it.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Coming Home

I always found myself a bit of an outsider growing up here, because I thought differently than others. Had answers that didn't fit into the multiple choice circles "A, B, C D or E " in a town that didn't think outside of the Scantron form. I arrived with 6B pencils to tests that were unreadable without a No 2.

Now I find myself climbing into exactly where I want to be by thinking even more differently. Waving my 6B's like flying flags and creeping into new and overlooked niches that hold the possibility for success and professional development. Meeting and connecting, with friends because of who I am and because I finally dare to shout my differences from the roof top. I raise my hand in the proverbial classroom of life and am proud that I don't have the right answer. That I have a new answer, one that instead of blushing from embarrassment and snickers of classmates, I am instead being met with applause from friends that are finally raising their hands, too.  Getting the answers, to which there are no questions and the questions to which there are no answers, wrong. All wrong. And in that, all right.


It always takes coming back home for me. Being all grown up in my childhood home. Alice in Wonderland. One leg hanging out of my old bedroom window and the other out of the basement door I snuck boys into and out of as a teen. Head still stuck out of the roof and into the clouds.  I'm reminded of what I always wanted out of life and now I've not only got it, but I've brought most of it home with me.


I'm spending two weeks at my parents house in my childhood home in Cheney, Washington.

I've brought the kids and my cameras. I had to leave Paul at home to work.

I miss him more when I am here than nearly anywhere I am without him.

I never felt I belonged here until I first brought him home with me seven years after I'd been gone, and come home, and gone again. Like we all do looking for answers we think we left behind. Then Cheney with Paul all made sense, and it becomes clearer each time.

Our childhoods are meant to mold us, to torment us and to drive us in and out of places that are too small and into places that are too big until we find just the right chair or bed or meal, like Goldilocks. Only to be awoken to find out it isn't our chair and we move on again. Only we know how to move on now.

These are the worlds created for us by our parents, the very parents we are now. Ourselves, on vacations just like this. Dragging our children to our old haunts, our old homes and Zips, of course Zips. Winding us all up like kitties with strings throughout the world so that they can follow their paths later to rewind the skein. Remember the twists and turns, the slips under the fence, the jumps over the fountains and spins on tilt-a-whirls that shook us all up to nausea, only to leave us to settle back in those same places.

As I wandered through Riverpark square this morning taking pictures of the kids marveling at the obedience of baby ducks, being handed balloon swords by a homeless clown and resting in the shade at during the off-hours of a carnival, just beside an out-of-service tilt-a-whirl, I rolled more of my yarn about the rest of the loosly rewound skeine and the kids unwound some more of theirs.

As I photograph my kids in the same places I frequented in my youth, there is a great clarity to the head spinning fog of my memories here. Greater understanding of my years spent here in perpetual disconnect, seem to connect now. This place was never worth a snapshot as a kid, now it is a very important chapter in the story of my life.

I hope that even thought the fuzzy memories of spinning dizzily on the carousel will bring my kids back here some day, wether or not they have family here to visit. I hope they come in search of answers in their life and realize the importance of the path that was laid for them here.

 For more snapshots from our days, follow me on Instagram here. For images in film from our adventures, check back here and on my website here.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Lonely Days, Lonelier Nights, and the Loneliest Mornings of All

Saturday morning I drove Elise and the kids to BWI to put them on a plane for Washington State. They will be there for two weeks while I stay in Virginia to work. Alone.

Two weeks may not seem like a long time, but it has been over a year since I've been away from them for any extended period of time. When you are used to having someone around, their absence can be jarring. Some people don't have as strong presence as others, and their absence is not felt as acutely as the absence of others. Needless to say, three children under five create a pretty strong presence.

To some, the prospect of not having to wait on three tiny people may seem appealing. I would be lying if I said this time didn't afford me the opportunity to do things I normally can't seem to find the time to do, such as write, run, and go rock climbing. But for the past five years, 98% of my time and energy, nearly every iota of my being, has been committed to either working or parenting. It's all I know. So I feel lost. I feel somewhat without identity when my wife and kids are not around, a little purposeless.

After I got home after having driven back from Baltimore, I decided to go running even though it was already 9:00 a.m. The following forty-five minutes were some of the hottest, most miserable of my life, and the resulting "run" more resembled a pathetic stagger. Wasted, I passed out on the couch for nearly two hours. When I woke, I resolved to run every day first thing in the morning and that I would not nap again.

Before they left, Elise asked me what I was going to do with all my free time. I couldn't answer her, because I honestly didn't know. I joked I might play Legos, build a train set, and go to the playground. Sam suggested I build all the Legos. See, currently, though we have many sets, all the sets are disassembled and mixed together in one large bin. Whenever we want to build a set--the fire boat or the airplane--we spend most of our time sifting through 10,000 Lego bricks looking for the specific piece we need to complete the set. Saturday afternoon, I dumped all the Legos on the floor and began doing exactly as Sam suggested. I'm building all the sets so when the boys come home from Washington, I will have done the one thing they have always wanted me to do but that I never had time to do or was never able to do because I was trying to keep baby Clementine from eating the Lego pieces at the same time.

Yesterday afternoon, I went to the rock gym and took a beginning rock climbing class. I had been rock climbing before, but I never knew how to tie into the top rope or clip in to belay. Now I do. I am not unfamiliar to physical challenges. I spent many years in an almost obsessive pursuit of a faster 10k run, 20 k bike split, or 200 yard fly. I like rock climbing because it is a completely different physical challenge than anything else I had done before. Unfortunately, I only got to actually get on the wall twice.

Unbeknownest to me when I registered online, I took the ninth spot in a nine-person class. The other eight people were members of an extended Indian family who were celebrating a birthday at the gym. When it was finally my turn to belay, I kept a woman three times my size from plummeting to certain........if not death, then definite injury. If nothing else, it tested my belaying metal right of the bat.

The weekend was long. Too long, and when I finally showed up for Tamil class on Monday morning, my mind was complete mush. I couldn't recall even the simplest of vocabulary. I forgot the Tamil word for "or".

The days are lonely. I fill my time with errands, silly little tasks I do mostly to stay busy. The nights, the time I am used to spending with Elise on the couch or in bed, talking, reading or watching TV, are even lonelier without her. The only good thing on is still on HGTV, but it's just not the same watching it alone. The insane curiosity I have knowing whether a couple will love their home makeover or list the home they've outgrown to buy a new one is gone.

The mornings, however, are the loneliest.

The first hour of every normal day is complete pandemonium as I try to get three breakfasts on the table, empty the dishwasher, wash dishes, make coffee, change diapers, get kids dressed, start laundry and somehow get myself off to work and out the door by 7:00. Very literally, Clementine pulls my underwear down to my knees as I make breakfast, and I step over and around three bodies curled into pupae-like cocoons on the kitchen floor as I make breakfast. Not quite awake enough to respond to verbal commands, but awake enough to know they needs something, they are like newborn birds chirping into the air while their eyes are still glued shut. And yet, somehow I miss the cacophony of their demands.

Though they ask me for yogurt, juice, to read a story, giant bowls of cereal, pancakes, french toast, waffles, sausage in both links and patties, water, cookies, to build a Lego, to watch TV, to wipe their tizu when they are done pooping, to find their blankets, to find their Chick Hick matchbox car, to find the orange plane toy, and Lucky Charms, they also say goodbye as I leave for work. They give me hugs and kisses and tell me they love me, and when they are not there, they can't. And for that reason, I don't mind chasing Peter through the apartment to get him to finish his breakfast, or run from one bathroom to wipe Sam's tizu to the other bathroom to pull an entire roll of toliet paper out of the toliet, or do the hundred other things they ask me to do in that first hour if it means they will be there to see me off to work.

Friday, July 5, 2013

The Fourth of July 2013

We had a wonderful day yesterday. My Uncle Robert was in town on business and stopped over for the festivities. We hung out here in Oakwood,  Paul grilled and we picnicked on the lawn telling our favorite Fourth of July stories. We raised our glasses proudly to the USA, for we have seen and see all the things from both the inside and the outside that make this land such a great one. 

The kids swam and we treated the boys to sparklers on the patio very well past bed time. 

We blew out giant candles (read: sparklers) today for The United States of America, on her birthday and our wish for her was....

Wednesday, July 3, 2013


Sam is very visual like his mama. Often he can't remember the name of something, but can describe it to you in perfect detail. Guess the names of the following restaurants he begs us to go to:

1. The square, tipped on its end with the palm tree.

2. The lady hugging the bread.