Archive for the ‘parenting’ Category

Winter Fun

March 3, 2012

We haven’t had much of a winter (NO COMPLAINTS), but I do savor the wackiness of indoor play in wintertime!



And then, since we haven’t had winter weather, the outdoor stuff continues as well. We’ve been tracking Sunny the Seal, a harbor seal hanging out off the coast of Stonington boro, and while we wait, plenty of winter beachcombing is available!

Tiny seal head–Sunny was feeling shy.

Experimenting with a new photoshop script for collage-ing for the new blog coming next month. (Finally!) Sorry for all the weird sizes!

That’s Sunny on the rock. (The one without the blue hoodie and sneaks!)

(Thanks for tipping us off to our seal friend, Chelle!)


After this, I looked away…

October 12, 2010

It actually worked out just fine–no one broke a leg or a neck, and we came home with more than eight different kinds of apples.

What are you making with YOUR 48 pounds of apples this week?

The big yellow school bus!

August 30, 2010

I love the one where he rolls his eyes. Of course I would commemorate this with a sign!

So it came, and, well, he got on!

A little anxious at the bus stop.

Off he goes!

He paused for a minute while the rest of the kids got on, then after I encouraged him and moved him forward a little…he climbed on.

Thank you to the bus driver who said, “Turn around your so mom can take a picture!”

And thank you to his older friend Olivia who saw him looking for a seat on the mostly full bus, and who walked up front and gently led him back to where she was sitting.

I think he’s going to have a great day.

Not possible

August 29, 2010

Will, age 13 months, August 2005

Seems like a big yellow school bus is coming down our street tomorrow morning with plans to pick up this little fella for the first time ever.


I say not possible.

And pass the tissues.

For those of you that know him, look how clean and new his thisy is!

Still sleeping with it right now, though it lacks a certain freshness these days.

All photos by Nicki Pardo.

We interrupt your summer to post…

August 3, 2010

A little adventure on Cape Cod last week resulted in more iphone photos than real photos, but I just loved this one.

More to come.

Hope you are also going crabbing barefoot on a regular basis. Safely.

Baby love, times two

April 23, 2010

Jack (left) and Caroline (right). Born at 33 1/2 weeks, photographed at home at 40 weeks gestation.

Squeezed for time, yet not wanting to make this family wait even one more minute for these photos, I’m scanning through images to show them the ONE that will represent our shoot as a sneak peek, and I think well, THIS must be it.

Or this one.

Then I keep looking, and I think, THIS must be the one, the one that shows how happy their parents are to have these two home.

…and how much they were anticipated, cherished and loved so long before they arrived.

And then I found this one, which would make the most stoic person ANYWHERE spring a tear or two, and realized I couldn’t possibly limit this sneak peek to just one.

So I didn’t.

Caroline and Jack and their parents shared the same two NICUs that we did nearly four years ago, and we are in full agreement about the amazing teams our babies had, and how grateful we will always be for their expert and loving  care.

And how glad we were to take those babies home.

Congratulation, Erika and Bill! They are delightful!



Four hours old

December 30, 2009


Born December 30, 2009 at 8:12 a.m. Photographed at 12:15 p.m.

7 pounds, 13.8 ounces

19 inches

Dear Grace,

After all these months, what a joy it was to meet you today!

You are as beautiful as I suspected you would be, and so advanced, too. I can hardly believe the gorgeous eyelashes you are already sporting, and you actually found your thumb and put it in your mouth when you were just a few hours old! (You’ll be dining out on that story for YEARS, kid.)

Your loving family was agog with your beauty and brilliance and the amazing miracle of new life, right there in their arms. You are awfully lucky to have them all around, as your brother Tommy already knows.  I heard some future adventures being planned when you were nestled in your auntie’s arms—stick with her, kid, and you will be outfitted in STYLE and have fun doing it.

Your loving and eager grandparents passed you around the room while your proud and exhausted parents beamed. Your mom and dad—well, they are both pretty much dynamos.

You may have trouble keeping up with them, but you’ll have youth on your side. Use it to your advantage, but remember, your mom will always be able to survive on fewer hours of sleep than you.

And you didn’t hear it from me, but I think you’ve already got your father weak in the knees. I’m just saying.

And as for me, sorry about the big black thing. It’s called a camera, and I wish I could tell you I won’t have it the next time I see you but, well, you probably just ought to get used to it. Because if it isn’t me, it will be your mom and your dad, and your grandparents—I am pretty sure you will be a heavily photographed young lady. There are worse things.

I also apologize for the long and chatty phone calls I will have with your mother while you cling to her ankles, citing Important Needs.

Instead of trying to get her attention while she is on the phone, use that time wisely—she’ll be distracted, so it would be a perfect time to try unrolling some toilet paper all over the house or something equally interesting. Check with your brother on this one—he may have some ideas.

Sweet baby Grace, I hope you are sleeping soundly right now while your mom and dad hold you and gaze at the absolute wonder of you. Welcome to this world–we’re so glad you’re here.



Something as simple as breathing

November 17, 2009

Breathing—we do it all day and all night, and almost never think a thing about it, until we’re knocked out with a nuisance of a cold once or twice a year. And having giant healthy lungs, which most of us are blessed with, means that we never really give any thought to tiny premature baby lungs, the size of our thumbs, struggling to fill with air.

But then, this morning I read Julie’s post this morning and thought to myself, “Once again, she says it better than anyone.”  While we mothers of NICU warriors might have healthy children today, with just the faintest of scars to show for that time, we carry our own deep scars, etched on our hearts. Perhaps the only way to heal those is to do some small thing in hopes that another baby and another parent won’t have to live through the time we did.

And what seems crazy to me now is that I really didn’t know how sick he was.  It wasn’t until a doctor said, “This is really tough…but we think he’ll go home with you,” that I understood he still might not…

I breathed for Charlie that night, sitting by his bed, crying, eyeballs so swollen that it hurt to move them in my head, nostrils scrubbed raw by hospital paper towels.  Every gurgle of his CPAP happened, it seemed, because we willed it.  His breaths, when they resumed, were only because we worked for them when he couldn’t. Which isn’t true, of course.  The tickle of the feet and the rubbing of the belly helped, but it was the drip of caffeine, the caustic burst of antibiotic, and the transfusion that eventually brought him around.  It was the science: serendipity and inspiration tempered by years of research and refinement, the careful observation and adjustment, a dedication that awes me.  My deep gulps of air did nothing, practically speaking, for Charlie.  All they did was keep me upright, somehow, next to the isolette.

Like many preterm babies, when Charlie was born, his lungs were immature.  They lacked surfactant, a substance that keeps the lungs from closing and collapsing upon exhalation, and couldn’t stay open on their own.  The development of artificial surfactant therapy, funded by the March of Dimes in the 1980s, ushered in a tenfold decrease in the number of babies who die from RDS (respiratory distress syndrome).  Three doses of surfactant and five years later, Charlie’s not only alive but thriving, the only artifact of  his prematurity an occasional touch of asthma.

Julie, at A Little Pregnant

I could have written it, but she does it better, and I hope you’ll take a moment to read her entire post and take her up on her offer to donate for each story you share in the comments.

I can’t write it like Julie does, I but I join her today in her offer—in honor of our Henry, and Julie’s son Charlie and my beautiful niece and nephew Isabella and Andrew, born at 30 weeks, I will donate a dollar to the March of Dimes for every story you share about prematurity touching your life. One per reader, please.

And thank you to longtime Hank & Willie readers who have so kindly donated to the March of Dimes at my urging in the past.

And as I have said before,

if you’ve known a preemie,

if your child was a preemie,

if you were a preemie,

if you’re grateful that you didn’t have a preemie,

if you might someday have a preemie,

if you’d like to honor the medical professionals that cared for Henry or a preemie in your life,

or if you just think my Henry is a tough guy,

you even can make your own donation here.

I bet I can even find a few more embarrassing photos of myself to post if the March of Dimes gets some H & W donations this year!

Thank you.

More firsts

September 14, 2009

September seems to have more firsts than Playmobil parts on my floor and THAT, my friends, is saying something. (As you well know, Katy and Kate, my two primary sources.)


Henry, age three. First day of nursery school with his nursery-school bag. I think he would fit inside.

Today’s first brought to you by a happy nursery school boy who climbed into my arms this morning and said, “Today? Is today nurfree school?”

He might as well have tacked a FINALLY, FOR THE LOVE OF PETE on the end there, because after a home visit from two of his three wonderful teachers last week and the delivery of his special school-assigned bag, each day has started with a request to go to “nurfree school, today!”


Yes, sweet Henry, today is the day. He sauntered into school with his bag over his shoulder, and completed the details of arrival (fresh fruit in the bowl there, bag on the hook there, name in the box there, washing hands there) like an old pro. (Which he kind of is, having observed it for the last two years with Will.)


However, it is all his today, and he couldn’t be more excited to get started. He kissed me, waved goodbye with a smile, and got back to playdough and observing the classroom’s two feathered friends, Abbott & Costello.


Can’t wait to go pick him up and hear all about it!

1001 Reasons Why I Am Still Awake and Coming Downstairs, by Henry

September 11, 2009


Henry, age three.

Watch Hill, RI      September 7, 2009

Oh, Henry.

He’s reached that magical age where he can’t QUITE make it without a nap, but when he does nap, he can’t fall asleep before 8:30 or 9, sometimes more than 1.5 hours after his dog-tired brother.

So we go about our evening business, while pretending not to hear Henry repeatedly skulking down the stairs before we quietly carry him back up again. Over and over.

But tonight I realized how exceptional and sincere he is about this bedtime game, and I would wager that Henry can beat ANYONE’s kid in the “1001 Reasons Why I Am Still Awake and Coming Downstairs” contest.


Tonight’s surprise entry: “Dad, I need to make popsicles. And my knee is bleeding.”

A few other recent entries:

1. “I need water. I am SO SO SO SO SO SO SO SO thirsty.” (I do not exaggerate even a single SO.)

2. (Teary, lower lip trembling.) “Mommy, I can’t find the other tank for my Playmobil scuba diver.”

3.  ((Teary, lower lip trembling.) “I can feel my knee bleeding on the inside.”

4. “I need to go potty. And I have to come downstairs to do it.”

5. “I’m afraid of the dark. I’m just so afraid.” (The 75-watt hall light seems to have gone unnoticed here.)

6. “What’s for dinner tomorrow?”

7.  “William hit me.” (William, who has been asleep for more than an hour.)

8.  “The hall light is too bright.”

9. “I have a headache.”

10. “I’m SO SO SO SO SO SO SO SO SO SO SO SO SO hungry.”

11. “I can’t see my books, it’s too dark.”

12. “I have a bloody toe.” (Not so.)

13. “Dad, look, I found an astronaut in this book!”

14. “Mom, it’s raining. It’s raining TOO HARD.”

15. (Teary, lower lip trembling.) “Daddy, there are monsters upstairs, I can hear them.”

16. “Mom, what’s that sound?”

17. “(Teary, lower lip trembling.) “I found my crane parts and not my CRAAAAAAAAANE!”

Next time I’m videotaping it.

I think he’s finally asleep.

Thinking you can’t possibly be three

June 18, 2009

Uh, wrote most of this on his birthday last week, but now he is three and one week, just for those of you keeping track.



Dear Henry,

Today you are three, and all day long I was shocked when I saw you. Tall, lanky and so darn THREE, and I just have no idea how we got here so quickly.


Henry with at least three pairs of underwear and one pair of shorts, donned Henry-style.

I do get it, you really are a three-year-old now. You dressed and undressed yourself today more times than I can count, and you sometimes put on up to five pairs of underwear at once, “Just in CASE, mama!” You would think by now I wouldn’t be surprised when I look up and see your naked bottom streaking by, AGAIN. You’ve inspired statements I never envisioned saying, like, “We don’t sit naked at the table, Henry.”  Or “We put on underpants to eat snack at the kitchen table.”  (To which he sings out, “No WE don’t, Mama!” And giggles.) You took yourself to the potty more than once, without even letting me know you had to go. (Now entering week three of potty training and on the upswing.)

You asserted yourself the way you never did when you were two, announcing exactly what you wanted your cake to be (a fire truck) and what you wanted to today (pick strawberries).


The firetruck cake. Saved by a fellow nursery school mom who had the FIRE TRUCK PAN. Good friends to have.

You sang happy birthday to yourself over and over, you made yourself a birthday card and you insisted on the crowd favorite, THE BLUE CUP, for lunch and dinner. You have a true passion for animals, all animals, and need to be restrained around ones we don’t know, because you want to hold them and love them and cuddle them, unlike your brother who was fearful of most most four-legged creatures at your age.



You would have been inside the pen, hugging and kissing that cow if I had let you, Henry!

But, for all your three-year-old bravado, you are still my sweet baby Henry. You like to play cat, and one of your favorite versions of the game is to curl up in my lap, meowing, and say, “I love you, mama cat!” To which I, of course, answer, “I love YOU, baby cat!” You are the kissiest and snuggliest thing on two legs—your lower lip trembles in the morning if you haven’t properly kissed the departing parent goodbye (“But I need to KISS YOOOOU!”). In the morning you come sleepily staggering into our room before 6 a.m. most days, but then snuggle up and promptly fall asleep, managing with the sprawl of one small body to exile both of your parents to the very edges of the bed while still lying on top of one of them and poking a finger in my eye or my ear.

You love reading book after book some mornings, but you LOVE YOUR FOOD and, unlike your brother who would only stop reading for a waffle with lots and lots of syrup, you’ll interrupt a book to ask, “What’s for breakfast?” And your favorite conversation starter, heard easily three times a day, is the casual, “What’s for supper tomorrow, mama?” Always endearing, but slightly less so when I am hastily trying to figure out what to put on the table for dinner TONIGHT.


Ice cream birthday cone at the farm after a morning of strawberry picking.

Unlike your outgoing brother, sometimes the world is just too much for you, especially in the form of circle time at various toddler groups and classes. You might just die if you couldn’t cling to me like a monkey during those times (and when you can’t, you sob your heart out), and I never once had to chase you around music class like I did with Will. Your shy streak is deeply embedded, but when you decide to emerge from that cocoon, you embrace the world and new opportunities whole-heartedly. You’ve watched your brother spend two years at his beloved nursery school, and now you are eagerly anticipating your own nursery school days coming this fall—we can’t wait to see the different ways that you’ll take on your wonderful new school and new teachers.

What creative being you are! You love to color and cut and glue like your brother, and the two of you can spend hours lost in the tiny world of Playmobil. Your mechanically-inclined self would rather take a battery-operated toy apart to see the inside than actually play with it. You are the prankster and the giggler, and your father and I usually have to turn away so you can’t see us laughing when we try to be stern with you.

You are so incredibly inquisitive and observant, noticing the smallest details that Will might never have seen. (Me either–you get your powers of observation from your daddy, even if you look like a carbon copy of me at your age.) You’ve never been partial to one “thisy” like Will, but instead have a menagerie of blankets and baby animals that all need your tender loving care (and drinks of water), usually when you should be in bed falling asleep.

Which brings me to bedtime. You are newly transitioned to your big boy bed, and love it—no surprise, since we’ve been treating your crib like a daybed since about October. This spring you’ve decided that days with naps mean bedtime past 9 p.m., much to our chagrin. And when you’re still awake at 9 p.m., you fight the good fight, trying to negotiate one more back rub or suggest that you ought to be allowed to “play quietly” in your room. With your battery-powered drill. At 9 p.m.  Nice try, Henry.


I look at you sprawled upside in your big boy bed, and wonder how any part of your sturdy, nearly stocky, body could ever have been small, sick and delicate. You startle me every day with how physically capable you are, and you warm my heart every morning and night with your sweet snuggle hugs and marvelous kisses.

We love you, sweet baby Henry! More and more each day. Happy birthday, and we’re so ready to take on THREE with you!




Henry, hours after birth, June 2006


Henry, six months old, December 2006


Henry, 12 months old, June 2007 (Photo by Nicki Pardo)


Henry, age sixteen months, October 2007. School photo timed perfectly to capture shiner in full bloom.


Henry, age two, June 2008


Henry, age 2 1/2, January 2009 (Explanation of shiner here. More black eye photos here.)


Henry, age three and one day, with Will age 4 3/4 and friend Tommy, age 2 1/4

June 2009

Why I didn’t cry this morning

June 8, 2009

Today is the last day of Will’s nursery school, a day to be topped on the emotional Richter scale of parenting only by the actual nursery school closing ceremonies later this week. (For example, they’ve been raising caterpillars who have JUST emerged as butterflies from their cocoons this morning and will be ready to fly free at the closing ceremony. Cue tears.)

I was fully prepared to be a weepy mess today, observing ONE LAST TIME the glorious traditions we have treasured for two years—morning play, then “time to ring the bell”  and finally their wild sprint (or for calmer types, a stroll) across the courtyard into the classroom. I came with camera in hand, trying to nail the perfect amount of blur in a shot of them running across the stone courtyard. I’ve tried a few times for the past two years to get it. This morning? Failed SPECTACULARLY.

It wasn’t all me. I’ve had some great coaching from this amazing photographer who is also a friend and nursery school mom, so I know what to do, and I was completely ready and in position. But some days they walk, and some days they run, and only a few ran today, and the rest of them strolled–not so good for the blur. And then, to top it all off, while the crowd dispersed around him, Will’s teacher noticed his shoe was untied, and stopped him to tie his shoe for him. (Have I mentioned I can’t stand these sneakers? OF COURSE they foiled me on my last day. And I see no reason why I should be washing socks in June when this child has more pairs of Crocs and sandals than any three kids need. NO MORE SNEAKERS TIL FALL!)

Anyway, so laugh with me when you see just how awful these photos are.




(Will’s in the blue tee and jeans, getting his SHOE tied.)

And realize if I wasn’t laughing at them, I’d be absolutely sobbing at the end of what has been a wonderful, magical, amazing school experience for two heavenly years. I am so grateful to the entire CNS community–parents, teachers, board members and Will’s classmates for making the experience as beautiful as it was. I can’t dream of a better start to a school career for any child, and I know he will carry the lessons he has learned there with him forever.

Excuse me while I go find a tissue.