February 28, 2013

inspired :: artist georgia dunn

I am so, so excited to kick off a new series here today. As someone immersed in the creative field, and someday hoping to be able to form my own full time business, it's easy to romanticize the life of an artist... working in a well lit space with a cup of good homebrewed coffee, taking a long lunch and meeting a client at a coffee shop...taking a mental health day if I need it to spend the day in the city seeking out inspiration...In fact, the day to day work to make a living as an artist is hard. Rewarding, but damn hard. I have a fierce admiration for artists who are making it work, and making the world a better place by sharing pieces of themselves and inspiring others. So I am excited to start off this series featuring Georgia Dunn, an illustrator and watercolor artist based in Washington.

Monster Parade by Georgia Dunn
I was first introduced to her work by my friend Katie when we were both pregnant and in the midst of dreaming up nursery decor. Katie and Georgia had gone to school together in Rhode Island, and I immediately fell in love with her style and all of her cute characters. Many of them pulled at my nerd-loving heartstrings, and I had the hardest time picking out what I wanted to display in Lily's room. Each piece I clicked on I loved more and more. I finally decided on her Monster Parade of Cute Fuzzy Monsters. It fits perfectly with our "imagination and adventure" theme, and it's now hung over our reading and snuggle chair.

So without further ado...

Octopus Drinking Tea, by Georgia Dunn
Artist: Georgia Dunn
Location: Washington State
Medium: Illustration and Watercolor

Describe a typical day in the life of Georgia Dunn.
I start the day by feeding our many fuzzy creatures, making breakfast, and brewing some tea. I usually spend the morning listening to the news, checking/restocking my Etsy shop, and working on a sketch (or continuing a painting, if I have one started). I try to have a sketch ready for inking and painting after lunch. When business is booming in the shop, I spend about three days a week painting in the afternoon, and two days painting, printing, and packaging Etsy sales. If it's a slow week, I just try to get a lot of painting in. There are days when painting stretches into the evening, (or very late evening, depending on how excited I get about a project) but I really try to stop myself around 5 or 6 to avoid getting burnt out.

Penguin and a Red Balloon, by Georgia Dunn
How long have you been painting and illustrating?
I've been drawing since I was a kid. I knew early on I wanted to be an illustrator, and followed that path all through school and onto college. When I was 19, my Dad suggested I learn watercolors, and it turned out to be a perfect fit for my illustrating style.

Who or what inspires you and your characters?
I'm really inspired by Jim Henson, and artists like Tony DiTerlizzi, Sam Kieth, and Beatrix Potter. I enjoy children's books very much, especially old fairy tales and fables. Surrounding myself with art and illustrations I love seem to really keep me focused on creating my own. When it comes to characters, they often seem to appear without warning and sometimes nearly draw themselves. Right now I have a picture of 3-4 lumberjack beavers developing in the back of my mind from a joke my husband and I share that an old logging town near us was originally settled in the 1800s by beavers. When we drive through that town we take turns telling the history of the imaginary original beaver settlers, like we're filming a documentary. In that case, the illustration becomes a way to record a ridiculous idea or memory that otherwise would just drift away. My hope is that whatever I enjoy about the painting I create, the viewer will feel it too and I can share whatever silly thing I'm seeing inside my head with them.

Knitting Narwhals, by Georgia Dunn
What is the most challenging aspect of being an artist for you right now?
Staying in a creative mode. I'm expecting a baby in April, and that typical day I described above has been thrown off the track lately whenever morning sickness or fatigue have shown up to hang out with me in the studio. Before I was able to create 1-2 full illustrations a week, and that pace has slowed considerably the past few months. Finding the balance between work and motherhood will be my biggest challenge going forward, I think, like many Moms.

What's next for your studio?
My ultimate goal is to illustrate a children's book. I'm working toward making that a reality sometime in the next 3-5 years.

What's your favorite color?
I'm a big fan of light blues!

What is your favorite dessert?

A banana split, I love those.
A Friendly Snow Monster, by Georgia Dunn


Georgia is sweet enough to offer one lucky reader a free 8x10 print of one of her pieces from her Etsy shop! To enter, simply visit her shop, pick out a couple of your favorites (because let's face it, you just can't pick one), and leave a comment here telling me which ones you love! The winner will be chosen at random and announced next Friday, March 8. All entries must be made by 11:59pm EST March 7, 2013.

Also, feel free to show your support by becoming a fan on Facebook, following her on Twitter, and reading her blog as she eagerly gets ready to welcome her sweet baby into the world!

Georgia, thank you so much for giving us a peek into your world! I can't wait to "meet" your little one!

February 25, 2013

oh baby :: practical newborn necessities

Hello, my name is Shannon and I survived having a newborn.

Now that I am feeling consistently well-rested and can look back on the early days, I thought it might be fun to document some baby items that helped us get through our most sleep-deprived, spit up covered, nipple leaking, coffee demanding, hair in a messy bun and just-not-giving-a-shit stage. Let's be honest here for like, 5 minutes. I painted a very pretty, puppies and rainbows picture of those early days. I was hormonal (and still am) and in complete wonder of this little person (I still am), but if I'm being honest, didn't really get into any of the nitty gritty. So I'm just going to say it:

Motherhood is the most amazing and beautiful yet disgusting and hilarious thing in the world.

The newborn stage is tough. When you're up at 3am wondering if you will ever sleep again, know that yes, you will sleep again. You will shower and get dressed like a normal person again. You will have sex again. You will live to tell the tale, and in 5 months or a year, you won't even remember how crazy it was, and you might start thinking about wanting to do it all over again....what?? Ha.....ha....No, I'm not pregnant. But I am at that point where I am thinking that if we did this once, we can do it again.

Just not quite yet.

Everyone will tell you that all you really need is a place for the baby to sleep, clothes, and food. And that is true. That's all any of us need, right? But I'd be a big old liar if I said that we didn't need or use anything else. So I'd like to share some things that we found very useful in those first few weeks, many of which we are still using at 5 months. I do not claim these things to be the be all and end all of surviving the newborn phase, but they worked well for us.

1. SwaddleMe - Great for anyone with poor blanket-swaddling skills. Easy velcro will keep even the most Incredible Hulk-like baby contained. They come in cotton and fleece, in various sizes, to suit your growing baby and the seasons.
2. Aden and Anais Swaddle Blankets - We use these all day, every day. We gave up quickly on burp cloths, nursing covers, bibs, and stroller blankets, and used these instead. They're very light and soft, and can be used for pretty much anything. I tie two corners around my neck or simply drape it over Lily for a nursing cover. Tuck it under her chin for feedings and over my shoulder for burping. Tuck her into her carseat or swing for a light blanket, or drape over the carseat on a rainy day to run into the store. They come in a pack of four and we just rotate two in use while two are in the wash.
3. Sleepers - Forget onesies. Whoever decided that it would be fun and easy to try to wrangle a onesie over a soft, wobbly, tiny skull clearly had not had a baby. Lily lived in sleepers for the first 2 months. They are warm and easy. We stocked up on cotton, terry and fleece sleepers and we'd put her in cotton or terry during the day and fleece at night. They're easy to just snap or zip up, and you can usually catch a good sale at Carter's or The Children's Place.
4. Multi-Use Disposable Pads - Newborns seem to spew poop and pee like it's going out of style, so we use these on our changing pad. If we happened to have some "overspill" during a diaper change, it was a lot easier to toss one of these in the trash and put down a new one than to be constantly running the changing cover through the wash.
5. Oso Cozy Prefold Diapers - There are many good reasons to go cloth, so I encourage you to do some research if you're interested, but prefolds were very easy to use in the newborn stage. We'd easily go through 10-12 diapers a day, and it was easier to toss a load in the wash on a sanitize cycle than to be constantly running out to the store to grab more "sposies". You can also use them as burp cloths and to clean up messes, as they're super absorbent.
6. Thirsties diaper covers - These are the "containment" outer layer for cloth diapering with prefolds. We got six of these and it was always enough in rotation with the 2 dozen prefolds. This saved us a lot of money early on, and we never "ran out" of diapers. We can also use the same cloth diapers for future children. So we spent ~$500 total up front instead of ~$3000 per child for newborn through potty training. We do use disposables that were gifted to us when we're traveling for a weekend away, though.

1. Fisher Price Space Saver Swing - This is a great space-saving swing. It is small and lightweight and easy to move from room to room (not with the baby in it) so Lily could enjoy it anytime, anywhere. There are a lot of swings, rockers and bouncy seats out there, and this one was perfect for us for the first couple months. No bells or whistles. It just held, rocked and soothed her when we needed a break from holding her. We used it every day.
2. Moby Wrap - It's basically a long, strong but stretchy piece of thick jersey that you wrap (it comes with directions) and place your baby in. Lily loved being carried in it, close to me, and it helped us bond, while giving me the opportunity to carry her and still have both my hands free. The newborn positioning keeps them snuggled up close to your chest, and they can smell you and hear your heartbeat. There are different types of carriers, so do some research if baby-wearing is something you're interested in.
3. Chicco Cortina Travel System - I knew I wanted a travel system that would be easy to transport Lily around. This came with a carseat, carseat base, and stroller. They all click into place easily, the stroller is lightweight and easy to set up and collapse one handed. We went on as many walks as possible early on to take advantage of the nicer days and fresh air. Every day that we got out and went for a walk was a good day. Everyone's needs are different, so do your research, but a great carseat and stroller will be probably the biggest "gear" investment you make. 
4. Nuk Pacifiers - These just happen to be Lily's "favorite" in that they stay in her mouth easiest. We weren't sure how soon we'd give her a pacifier, but after a few days at home, she had some fussy nights, and the pacifier soothed her more than any amount of shushing, breastfeeding, or rocking. We keep about 10 of these in various places around the house, in the car, in her bouncy seat, in my purse, at day care...
5. Euro Bath - There are so many tubs out there. I love this because it has a newborn side where the baby is reclined and supported, and then an infant side where the baby can sit up. There's a "stopper" in the middle that keeps her from sliding down onto her back. We got a foam insert to soften the recline against the plastic. It's durable and can be stored wherever you have space. We just leave it in our spare bath.
6. Motorola Video Monitor - This was gifted to us on our registry and I'm so glad we got a video monitor. We didn't use it much the first 6 weeks, because she either napped in our arms, or we just stayed close if she was in the swing or crib in her room. There are times, though, when you need to be in another room, and it gives me peace of mind to not only hear her, but see her. Our apartment is small, so we mostly just use it at night when she's sleeping in her crib, but again, research different monitors according to your needs.

1. Motherlove Nipple Cream - I liked this stuff a lot better than the Lansinoh cream. It wasn't as thick and sticky. I just put it on after each nursing session and it helps heal some pretty beaten up nipples. And a little goes a long way. I also put it on before pumping to prevent chaffing.
2. Nursing tanks - I lived in these at the hospital and then around the apartment for the entirety of my maternity leave. They were soft and comfortable and easy to just unlatch a strap for a feeding. If we had company over, I'd just throw another shirt, cardigan or sweatshirt over it. They're great for layering if you're going out, so if you're nursing in public, your stomach won't show when you lift up your top shirt.
3. Nursing pads - If you choose to breastfeed, you will experience what I lovingly call "sprinkler syndrome". I used the Avent washable pads, and they worked well for me. I did have days where I leaked through them, but I was home, so I didn't care. I kept some disposables on hand for whenever I was running out.
4. Wrap-style nursing bras - I liked these instead of the ones that unlatch from the strap. It was easier to wear these under a shirt and just pop a boob out than to be wrestling with layers and latches and a squirmy baby and a nursing cover. They were also really comfortable for sleeping in.
5. Medela Pump-In-Style Advanced Pump - This is a fantastic pump. I got the one with the backpack case because I would be bring it to work and traveling and it's much easier to transport as a backpack when I already have my purse and a diaper bag to lug around. I liked being able to pump because it allowed Sean to do some feedings and bond with Lily.
6. Nipple shield - By 6 weeks into breastfeeding, I was able to go without it, but it's good to have on hand in case you have flat or inverted nipples, or you want a little protection from getting cracked nipples (although that is not a guarantee). You may not need one, so I recommend consulting with a lactation consultant first.

1. Dark beer - Especially if you're breastfeeding, a good dark beer after dinner a couple nights a week may help maintain or boost your supply. Or, you might just want to have a beer. I recommend Guinness Foreign Extra or Mother's Milk Stout (hints of oatmeal, chocolate and milk), both of which I have gotten from Whole Foods.
2. Ipad - Many hours of the day and night spent sitting on the couch, in bed or in her nursery, nursing or holding her while she sleeps, it was really, really, really awesome to have my iPad handy. I could browse Facebook, watch tv shows, play Bejeweled Blitz, and Facetime with my mom. If I had an random weird question about babies or boobs, I had the internet.
3. Mommy's Time Out Wine - Go ahead and have a drink. You'll find that you probably only need 1/2 a glass to get buzzed now. Congratulations, you're officially a cheap date!
4. Water - If you're breastfeeding, it's so important to drink a ton of water. I liked having one of these plastic cups with a straw by my side all day. For every nursing session, drink a glass of water. Then drink some more. I prefer one of these or a water bottle because it was very likely that either me or the cat would knock it over at some point during the day or night.
5. Instagram - IG has been a great way to snap and share pictures every day. I can share as little or as much as I want on Facebook and Twitter. Don't worry, if you're annoying someone with all your pictures, they can just block you. ;)
6. Hulu - You might have the best intentions of being up and active and out and about as soon as possible, but there will be many days when you are home and glued to the couch with your baby. It's just the way it is. We have Hulu Plus, Netflix Streaming, and HBO Go, and I made good use of all of them during my maternity leave.

So there you have it. That's what I would consider practical necessities for the first few weeks. If you have any questions or suggestions of things you'd consider to be helpful, let's hear them in the comments!

I am hoping to start sharing more tips and ideas for parenting as we go. If there's anything you'd like to know more about, just let me know!

February 21, 2013

yummy :: peanut butter banana oatmeal breakfast cookies

Who doesn't love cookies for breakfast? I have been known to eat some of my favorite oatmeal cookies around Christmas time, because, well, they have oatmeal! Why not? Well, I found a recipe on Pinterest for "breakfast cookies" and knew they'd be right up my alley. And what I love about these is you can try any number of combined flavors and mix ins.

I originally followed this recipe from Watching What I Eat (found via Pinterest), but it wouldn't let me link up on Facebook. So here's the recipe as I made them (since I did make a few adjustments). Sean wasn't a fan (he said there were too many flavors) so that just means there are more for me!

Peanut Butter and Banana Oatmeal Breakfast Cookies

Dairy, egg, flour, and gluten free.

2 small bananas, mashed
1/3 c peanut butter (I used creamy unsalted Stop and Shop brand))
2/3 c unsweetened applesauce (Stop and Shop brand)
1 tbsp Ghiradelli dark chocolate cocoa powder
1 1/2 c Bob's Red Mill gluten free oats
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 c milk chocolate chips

Preheat your oven to 350. Combine mashed banana and peanut butter in mixing bowl and blend well. Add in applesauce, vanilla, and cocoa powder; mix well. Add in oats and finally chocolate chips and mix. Allow "dough" to sit for 10 minutes. Then drop heaping teaspoons of mixture on baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Cook for approximately 25 minutes until cookies are well browned. Cool and store in a sealed contained and enjoy for breakfast or for a pick-me-up snack.

I plugged the recipe into My Fitness Pal and it came out to about 120 calories per cookie if you make 16-20 cookies from this recipe, give or take some measurements.

Mix and Match

Tailor the recipe to your flavor preferences, or how protein packed you'd like it. Other options that I will be trying:

  • Skip the chocolate chips. Add in raisins, almonds, or dried cranberries.  
  • Swap the cocoa powder for a scoop of vanilla or chocolate protein powder. 
  • Try apple or almond butter instead of peanut butter.
  • Try cinnamon applesauce.
  • Cut the applesauce in half and add a tablespoon of agave nectar. 
  • Try a little coconut flour.

This recipe as made above makes cookies that are very moist and chewy. The balance of wet to dry ingredients, if you try different combinations and amounts of ingredients, may give you more moist or dry cookies. Trial and error. I highly recommend you give them a try, and enjoy!

Lily :: 5 Months

Lately, life can be summed up in the smiles we get from this little gift of a person.

Nicknames: Little Miss, Peanut, Lil, Boo

This month, you experienced your first trip to the ER. Let's not do that again, ok?

We got snowed in last weekend. We didn't go take pictures out in the snow because I was lazy and wanted to just snuggle and stay warm. But there was a lot of snow. Daddy had to work 36 hours, so we stayed in our pjs and snuggled in bed. We had a slumber party and shared lots of giggles.

We watched the Superbowl and you continue to wear your little Patriot socks every Sunday. It doesn't quite feel right to pack them away yet.

You've had you first oatmeal, and I think you're going to be a very good eater. You grab the spoon from my hands and shove it in your mouth. You love touching the oatmeal and smearing it just about everywhere except your mouth. We have also tried sweet potatoes, bananas (nanners) and carrots.

You celebrated Valentine's Day at daycare with all your little friends. Daddy picked out your outfit and you loved it so much you wanted to eat it. You got a lot of valentines from your playmates, and I decorated your room with some folded hearts.

You are discovering things so rapidly. You are constantly watching, looking, touching, tasting, feeling...the world is your oyster. It's incredible to watch.

You try so hard to sit up. When you're nursing, you take breaks to try to sit up, which I help you with, and as soon as you're upright, you are happy and lie back to nurse again. Feeding you takes a while, but I don't mind. This past weekend, actually, you've started taking longer stretches sitting up on your own. I still can't believe how quickly you learn, develop and grow.

You stayed with us in our room for two weeks while you were sick. You slept in the nook of my arm, our noses touching. Hearing and feeling your little breaths gave me more peace than a hundred rosaries ever could.

Your eyes. They just stop me in my tracks. They stop strangers in their tracks. There's something about you, kid.

You love sticking your feet in the air and then kicking your legs out. You are so strong. You will stand up with our assistance (you've been doing this for a while) and are happiest in your exersaucer, bouncing around, laughing and playing with all the little bells and whistles.

You love....LOVE....Loki. I ask you "Where's the kitty?" and your eyes go right to him and you smile your biggest of big smiles.

You love being held, and you will smile at us and then bury your face in our necks or shoulders.

You smile with your whole face.

It's still a constant inner battle of feeling joy watching you grow and feeling sadness that it's going too fast. We are doing everything in our power to soak it all up, every last sweet drop. There is no such thing as "enough" or "too much".

Our Lil Love. 

February 14, 2013

My Funny Valentine

Red is one of my favorite colors, but I like the idea of mixing it up every now and then. I just threw these cute little ones together with some sentiments I'd like to express to Sean. No need for fancy poetry. Just honesty and a little humor. :)

February 13, 2013


When I was in college in Boston, Lent was my favorite time of year. It was a time I reconnected with my faith, and really tried to take the time to center myself each day and be mindful of the goodness there is in my life and our world. 

Lent is a time of sacrifice, of giving up things that distract us from our faith, to remind us of what sacrifices have been made for us so that we might live with peaceful hearts. In past years, I've given up coffee, alcohol, attempted meat, and made promises to
 spend time every day in meditation. It felt easier in college, being in a community of faithful students, wonderful nuns and faculty that daily encouraged spiritual and personal growth. Now as adults, it feels like it takes a lot more effort to make sacrifices.

But does it? Why does it seem harder to live more simply?

We are a generation of instant gratification, impatience, go go go and connecting with strangers. We are plugged in, turned on and virtually reachable at a moment's notice. We have news, information, and the lives of family, friends, acquaintances and a world of strangers at our fingertips.

So why do so many people seem so unhappy?

We fill our lives with shallow relationships, yearning for internet strangers to see us as important and witty and talented, but don't do much to strengthen the bonds with the very people we call family. 

At least, that's what I think. I know that I daily fall into the mindset of wanting to write something interesting or so heartwrenching that maybe my post will get pinned all over the internet and I'll get my .10 seconds of internet fame. 

But it isn't worth a damn thing if it's taking away from time I can be spending with my family. 

So here's my thing. I haven't been a practicing Catholic for about 3 years. I have been exploring my faith and spirituality in different ways, although I do still identify with being Catholic. I feel constant pressure to know what's going on in the world, on Facebook, on Twitter. My world has been spinning too fast, and I feel like I've been drowning trying to keep up with it. 

So I'm unplugging. Every night when I go home, that will be time for my family. Not to sit on the couch staring at my phone or iPad at the latest photos of what my cousin's girlfriend's mother ate for dinner. Time for us. Time for me. Time to slow down, step back, and remember what it is to be present in this world. 

We are given one precious life. It's time to stop wasting it on anything that doesn't really matter.

February 8, 2013

hopin' and dreamin' and wishin'

This is the year I turn 30. I haven't really seen this as too big a deal, after all, "it's just a number", and people keep telling me that 30 is the new 20. Really? I'm not quite sure how they mean that. I am no longer in college and drinking shots of peppermint schnapps drizzled with chocolate sauce, that's for sure! But if it means that people who are 30(ish) are having fun with their lives the way people who were ~20ish used to, well, I can dig that.

I am a different person than I was at 20, and am certainly enjoying my life. I am confident in who I am, I have a beautiful family, and I keep dreaming up these things I'd like to accomplish. I feel like this year is catapulting me forward in a new and sort of scary and ultimately awesome way. I don't want to settle. I don't want to work a job that I hate just to pay the bills. This life isn't worth anything if we spend more than half of it doing something unworthy of our time.

So in dreaming up all the amazing ways I plan to spend my time in the near and distant future, I thought, maybe I should come up with 30 things I'd like to do before I'm 30. This is a no pressure list, my friends, as I am not a fan of putting unrealistic expectations on myself. I might not do all these things, and that's ok. I'm a dreamer. Some of these are not likely to happen. Some of them are silly. Some are serious. But what's the point of dreams and goals if you don't put them out into the world in hopes that maybe the mere fact that someone is now aware of your dream, it might just come to life.

So here are some ideas, wishes, goals, and dreams that I'll be thinking of for the next 9 months until October 3, at which point, I plan on throwing myself a party.

1. Get my nose pierced (this is instead of a tattoo)
2. Go camping with my family and my siblings' families
3. Go to a Red Sox game
4. Do a photography project once a month just for me
5. Have my photography published
6. Illustrate, draw, paint
7. Open an Etsy shop
8. Take a 1 week staycation, discover little places local to me that I never bother to look for
9. Take a dance class
10. Start playing the piano again
11. Read all the magazines I have piled up in my room
12. Simplify. This goes for my closet, my schedule, and my way of life.
13. Spend more quality time with friends. Go out for coffee or a cocktail and catch up. Leave the cell phones at home.
14. Go on a Swan Boat ride in Boston
15. Photograph my family more (my parents, siblings, their kids)
16. Go to the beach this summer. Read books and eat popsicles. Build sandcastles and dip Lily's toes in the ocean.
17. Do some traveling. Within the US. I want to see something new.
18. Plant a garden. This will require moving somewhere where we can have a garden, or renting some yardspace at my parents' house.
19. Do a cartwheel
20. Learn some basic sign language
21. Print some photos and make a couple photo gallery walls
22. Make my own ice cream
23. Go saltwater fishing
24. Play the flute again
25. Make snow angels
26. Go on lots of dates with Sean
27. Write more
28. Hope more
29. Love more
30. Don't settle for anything that doesn't bring me joy

So I'm putting it out there, if for no other reason than to get these things out of my head to make room for whatever's next.

Let's do this.

February 4, 2013

Faking Bravery

I suppose there comes a time in everyone's life where they have to fake bravery, put on a strong face and pretend that we are confident that everything will be ok. I felt it on Saturday when we ended up in the ER. This has been a tough winter, ya'll. It seems like people are dropping like flies to the flu and no one is really "safe" from germs and illness lately. We had a tough week fighting conjunctivitis and a cold, and Saturday, my girl woke up miserable. Moaning with every breath, lethargic, not even the slightest bit interested in eating. It was scary. Sean was at work, and a brief trip to the pediatrician resulted in a nebulizer to help her breath, a 104.3 fever, some Tylenol, and then we were en route to the ER.

For an hour, they poked and prodded her, putting in an IV, attempting a catheter, and swabbing up her nose to collect everything they needed to run tests. And for that hour, she screamed and cried, because what else was she supposed to do. It was the worst thing I've ever witnessed. Tears in her eyes and her poor, raw throat from coughing and screaming and crying...Ugh, it just turned me inside out and upside down. We waited about 5 hours for all the results. It all ended up fine. No flu, no RSV (respiratory syncytial virus), no UTI, no ear infection or bronchialitis. She had a slightly elevated white blood cell count, and what appeared to be a bacterial infection, so they ran a round of antibiotics to blast it out, and we went home to rest and snuggle.

But really sucked. The thoughts that ran through my head as she was breathing so sadly were not the kind of thoughts I ever want to have in my head. It felt like an out of body experience seeing her sick and not being able to ask her what was wrong. She was just this tiny, sad person. She wasn't my happy Lily. It broke my heart. I just wanted to cry, but I couldn't. I had to put my brave face on. I needed to hold her hand and make sure she knew I was there. I needed to stroke her peachfuzz hair and even if she didn't understand the words, tell her that she would be ok.

I was the brave mama, because I had no other choice but to be the brave mama. I wanted my hand to be held, for someone to stroke my hair, to take a nap and wake up to everything being ok. I stayed awake and held her hand. I stroked her hair and sang her a song. I wrote over the summer when Loki was sick about how you become ready to take care of someone when you have no other choice. Their pain and health become more important than your own and you'll do anything for them to feel better. And you grow up a little more. You think you're faking brave, when in fact, you become transformed. You are brave. There's grossness and scary breathing and fear and worry and you look in their sad eyes and fight back tears because you don't want to be seen as weak. You want your girl to know that you're her mama and she can rely on you to learn to be tough and brave because you are tough and brave.

Until this weekend, I'm not sure it really hit me that I'm a mama. Anytime we go out, I always wonder, 'Do I look like a mom, or do I look like someone who just happens to have a baby with her?' There are women I see at the grocery store with babies or kids and there's no doubt that there the mom. The Mom. We drop off and pick up at daycare, but it still feels like a dream sometimes.

But it's real. I know it. I am The Mom - I know it in my heart, whether I look like one or not. I am hers, and she is mine. I would walk through hell and back for her. I know she'll get sick again, I know she'll fall down and get hurt and cry and be sad and scared and have her heart broken many times over. And I'll hold her hand, and stroke her hair, and tell her that it will be ok. And hopefully she'll believe me. Because I am tough. Because I am brave. Because I'm The Mom.

February 1, 2013

100 Years :: Grand Central Station

February 2, 2013 marks the 100th anniversary of the opening of Grand Central Station in New York City. A place that sees 700,000 faces daily, coming and going, working and dreaming...It's a place that, for me, has always felt a bit magical, and more than a bit romantic. Pieces of it change over time, but like us human-folk, at the heart, it's the same it has always been. A little more worn, a little beaten down, well loved, and beautiful.

For some beautiful and interesting photos of GCS over the past 100 years, I encourage you to visit The Atlantic.

To celebrate 100 years of Grand Central Station, I will be giving away three 8x10 prints of my own Grand Central Station photo that you see here in this post. I took it in July 2011 on my way home from an engagement shoot in the city. To enter to win, simply leave a comment below telling me about a place that holds great nostalgia and romance for you. Three commenters will be chosen at random and announced next Friday, February 8, 2013 here on the blog.

WINNERS! Ok, so I just can't pick 3 out of the 4 comments. You ladies all have wonderful places in your lives and I thank you for sharing them with me here. Please email me at shannonlsorensen at gmail dot com to claim your prints!

Have a great weekend, loves. We'll be chowing on hot wings and taking bets on whether or not Beyonce lip syncs her halftime show.