Monday’s Moment

A single moment captured in a photograph. Candid and fleeting, this will always be a special moment in time…

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Reed_Galveston2013.1There is nothing so glorious as a day at the seaside! The smell of the salty air, the waves lapping against the shore, and the uproarious laughter that erupts each time you skim a wave. Last Monday on Galveston Island, located in the immense Gulf of Mexico, I dare say that there were no happier children than our own. Alina and Finnlagh spent hours digging, gathering water, splashing in the surf and absolutely screeching with sheer delight. Reed practiced standing and taking steps on his own, all the while making miniature footprints at the water’s edge, caught by surprise on more than one occasion by a miscalculated wave. It appears that making sense of powdery sand is as challenging as ever to a young baby, and feathery tufts of wet baby hair standing straight up is still precious beyond words, at least to us.

I was quite fortunate to grow up surrounded by water, with the Long Island Sound and Atlantic Ocean a mere stone’s throw away – Coney Island, Jones Beach…summer’s daily ritual involved intensely hot beaches, sleepy sun-soaked car rides in our bathing suits and terry cloth robes along with a host of surf accoutrements, coolers, sunscreen and flip flops dangling off our feet. Even now as an adult, I’d turn down months on end at the pool for a day at the beach, anytime. When we came home to Austin, I asked the older children if they wanted to go for a swim (our complex has a lovely outdoor pool) and they looked down at the floor and shrugged. “I guess,” Alina said. “It’s not the same,” added Finnlagh. All the more reason to create more childhood memories at the seashore, n’est-ce pas?

*A special note: Today we are celebrating Memorial Day in the United States. While it always seems to mark the unofficial start of summer – a long week-end of bbq cookouts, swimming and get togethers, it is a day devoted to honouring those who fought for our country and lost their lives. Let us say ‘thank-you’ to those who bravely defended this land, and all the freedoms and landscapes in it.

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Travel blog: Postcards from Marfa

The achingly rich, take-your-breath-away desert sunset had followed us from Marathon, to Alpine and into the sleepy, seemingly abandoned streets of Marfa, TX. We arrived on a dark and crystal clear evening, the kind of quiet stillness in the air you would expect in the high desert. It’s all too convenient to dismiss Marfa as yet another desolate West Texas town with only one stoplight and a Dairy Queen, inching its way to extinction. Most would probably just see it as a pit stop and thus another point closer to Big Bend. But for those familiar with its artistic and cultural significance, Marfa is a virutal art oasis in the middle of the desert, drawing art-loving pilgrims and patrons from around the world.

Postcards from Marfa

Minimalist Donald Judd (he strongly objected to that term) uprooted from NYC in the late 1970s and from then on, made Marfa his home and artistic community, putting it on the map as a destination and welcoming environment for creatives. Strongly drawn to the relationship between how landscape contributes to art and its reception, he believed that artists should be able to create permanent exhibitions and installations of their art. In his many years in Marfa he founded the superb Chinati Foundation contemporary art museum, in addition to acquiring an army base; in his lifetime, he filled the base with light installations and art, including his most famous concrete boxes.

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While out in Marfa, we stayed at the Thunderbird, which we would highly recommend. Stark white walls along with paintings and photographs by local Marfa artists, pecan wood furniture, stained concrete floors, cowhide rugs and bath products by Malin + Goetz (a New York favourite). For the uber cool, there is El Cosmico, a communal outpost comprised of airstream vintage trailers, safari tents and teepees, as conceived by Austin design guru Liz Lambert and her company, Bunkhouse. Liz is responsible for the design of Austin landmarks like Jo’s on South Congress (I love you so much), as well as the Hotel Saint Cecilia and Hotel San Jose.

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Thunderbird // Orange honeysuckle vines by the pool //Paisano Hotel housed Elizabeth Taylor, James Dean and Rock Hudson while filming “Giant” in the Marfa desert

As do most folks who go to Marfa, we desperately wanted to visit the PRADA desert installation, which is actually out towards Valentine, TX. While driving there, a dust storm started kicking up, and tumbleweed began making their way across the fences. Unfamiliar with tumbleweed, we had a hearty chuckle, thinking how adorable they looked hopping down the road. Until finally, there were so many of them (we estimated a couple of hundred) all crossing the road with us oncoming…in short, our minivan being pelted by tumbleweed -we had to turn back. PRADA MARFA derailed by TUMBLEWEEDS. We couldn’t believe we’d driven clear across the state, only to be turned around with only a few miles to go. Created by artists Elmgreen and Dragset, Prada Marfa is a permanent sculpture/land art that will be left to be weathered by the elements, broken down by the desert winds and hot sun, only to finally decay away over the years into the dusty Texas soil.

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//PRADA Marfa photo courtesy of Wiki

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Rusty barbed wire + tumbleweed close ups // Impending tumbleweed dust storm

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And finally…there are the Marfa ghost lights. These lights are probably the most famous of the mystery lights in America. There have been many theories to explain the odd phenomenon, from reflections of brush fires to seismic events, copper mining and even the spirits of Cherokee and Catawba warriors slain there in an epic battle more than eight centuries ago. A little ways east of Marfa on Route 67 you will find the McDonald Observatory, the perfect viewing area to spot these eerily unexplained flashes of light. We did see some flashes of light flicker and dance in the distance. Strange, yes. Difficult to explain, absolutely, which I suppose is kind of like Marfa itself: artfully unique and worth braving tumbleweeds for.

XO,

N&N

10 months

Reed_10mos.5bw10 months old. We are in double-digits now. The splendid face of the baby boy who has captured my heart. He’s stolen it and run away with it you see…

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Eyeglasses peeled off faces, smudged back on with warm, pudgy hands.

Squeals of delight, to say

I am very proud, I am.

Such moments. Time-telling moments, marching one, then two…

Tiny trouble-seeking fingers, dewey-eyed hazel boy,

Nothing can be kept from him, removed from view.

Hidden away or not, he will find it, knowingly discover it–

He is so familiar now with sounds and things.

Gestures.

Picked up, raised to our shoulders, cuddled and cradled in our arms…

A kiss.

One purposeful kiss – or many,

To adorn these shoulders that hold him in place to preside over his world,

Arms to shelter, voices to calm him.

He steals it again and again with every roguish glance and sweetest coo.

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Monday’s Moment

A single moment captured in a photograph. Candid and fleeting, this will always be a special moment in time…

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What a joy it is to have siblings! Always someone to play with, to hug, to snuggle and to protect…an ally with whom you whisper secrets, share funny faces, laughs and a plethora of inside jokes and codes that only your brother or sister could crack.

As our two eldest children, Alina and Finnlagh (or 6 and 4, as we like to call them), do nearly everything together. On warm, bright mornings such as these, being 6 and 4 can work very well to their advantage. There is visiting the many birds and turtles on the lake, picking up special breakfast at the market with Papa (while Mama stays back to care for baby Reed) and impromptu stops such as this one– time to hold each other close, to beam and to radiate with affection for one another as only siblings can.

First steps

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I’m posting from my phone tonight. My wonderful baby boy is asleep. I’ve just nursed him down and he is lying here, as he so often does, his body across my lap and a soft little hand over my heart. I cannot bear to put him down and so I sit here, staring at him in great awe, kissing him ever so gently so as not to wake him.

Baby Reed took his first steps today! Incredible. I feel the need to be precise here because more than just writing into the blogosphere, so much of this blog has become about documenting our lives together as a family, as well as recording the goings on in the Niko & Nonnie shop. 6.55pm on Friday, May 3rd. Two independent steps. 9 months & 25 days old. Reed pushed his wooden cart (the one you often see him pictured with) up to the coffee table, parked it, let go, looked me straight in the eye and walked towards me. He managed two steps and nearly a wobbly third until he dropped down onto his bum. He truly was grinning from ear to ear (as the old and very appropriate saying goes!) Precocious, extraordinary, lovely little guy – oh we have so many more moments to look forward to with you!

Wishing all our readers a gorgeous end to the week. We’ve got a busy week-end planned with Kentucky Derby, Cinco de Mayo and Greek Easter all rolled into one.

XO,
N&N

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May Day

HotAirMobile.1Happy May Day everyone! We were supposed to do a lovely little celebration with treat baskets and sing-songs, but baby boy has been sick all week and we’re all just feeling a bit off-kilter. I have been working on orders (yes – that means that the shop has re-opened after a mini-hiatus), and sewing decorative pieces for our new house as well as for little babes that are arriving this summer. Exciting!

Homeschooling has been chugging along at its usual tempo and Alina has been working more and more independently. This week in particular has been filled with many books (of course) as well as sewing template projects, loads of math games and even a little astronomy. I am on the lookout for a reliable, updated solar system encyclopedia – what now qualifies as a proper planet has changed so much since we were little and at times I’d rather just consult a book and re-learn along with them. How have your weeks been so far? Please feel free to leave links to your blogs/weekly pics – I’d love to see them!

ps: Just a note – the wonderful ocean blue teether and tutti necklace you see pictured are from KOUKKU, Anna Koukku’s beautiful Etsy shop. Anna makes crochet+wooden teething rings, toys and necklaces that are natural and safe for babies. They come from Finland and are offered in a variety of hues. If you order now, you will receive a free tutti necklace with your purchase. I asked Anna to surprise me and she picked purple – my favourite colour! Thank-you so much again, Koukku!

XO,

N&N

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