more than motherhood

download-9
They are my world but there is more.

We will celebrate our oldest daughter’s fifth (!!!) birthday this Saturday. I’ve been planning since January. You did read that right…January. And in truth, it has probably been longer. It is not because I am a planner (I love to plan!). It is not because I want every detail just right (I’m mildly obsessed with details!). No, it is because I have two children under the age of five (that is until Saturday!) to parent full-time. I knew it would take at least four months to prepare for a party I hope my daughter won’t soon forget.

I’m not a buy your party-in-a-box kind of person. I look forward to stuff like this. Some may call it the Martha Stewart syndrome but I like to think of it in more palatable terms; it’s a way to channel my desire to be creative. Most of the time this creative outlet easily marries into a kid-friendly craft project but sometimes I want the production of something all to myself.

You see, I am happy to be a stay-at-home mother, although I’m not completely fond of that term. I do not fail to recognize how fortunate we, as a family, are to have me in the full-time position of motherhood. But like many, the “9 to 5” is just not enough. We need hobbies. We need outlets that make us feel whole.  Something to feel passionate about even if we only get a few hours, twenty, or five minutes out of a week to fulfill it.

I write this post to remind myself that full-time child rearing is a type of job. I’m with my daughters everyday to teach them how to communicate, interact, understand and live in this world. It is a job with a huge responsibility and it is a rewarding one. I’m lucky to have it, but it won’t keep me from that need to do more in my life.

Saturday will be the culmination of months of planning and creating and the fruition of it will be documented here. I am anxious, overworked, tired, and busy parenting and creating, but I am fulfilled.

1374804_10151908076338467_1842421816_n
Making Halloween costumes has become a yearly tradition. Halloween 2013.
1394160_10151922062078467_792925165_n
I’m a complete novice when it comes to the sewing machine but she didn’t mind the crooked lines of her custom cowgirl vest. Halloween 2013.
10403616_10152783855643467_2319140670481247642_n
Every holiday we make cards together to keep in touch with loved ones. Thanksgiving, 2014.
1012952_10152784164123467_2620320717908172290_n
With the best of intentions to work on my own projects, I usually have a little helper. She often has her own creative ideas toward making the project uniquely hers. Christmas, 2014.
download-10
Crafting prep for Saturday’s party.
download-7
Mushrooms are the underlying theme of the party.

neither home nor daughter

image

This post marks my attempt at maintaining a blog of our family which I affectionately call Daugthers Barrow.  I share it with all that come across it but it is mostly for friends and family curious to know more than I share in those Insta-moment squares. Most important, it provides a creative outlet for myself, of which I can document my daughters’ childhood and our family as we live it, in Hudson Valley, New York.

With all that said, I write my first post neither of home nor daughter but of travel.  In particular, travel with your partner. My husband and I travel quite a bit, but rarely do we travel just for us.  With family scattered across North America, we almost always plan big ticket trips to see our loved ones.  These trips are time well spent and so important to us as we hope to create lasting bonds with our family as our daughters grow.  We don’t take these trips for granted but when an opportunity arose to take a trip abroad as a couple this time last year, we took it.

My husband was needed in Venice, Italy for work.  With some planning we made arrangements to extend the trip and turn it into a mini-holiday of sorts sans daughter (I was six months pregnant with our second daughter at the time).  We ended up spending a few days in Florence and the remainder of the stay in Venice.  I choose Florence because I had lived in the beautiful and manageable city for a semester during university.  I had always hoped to return and I wanted to show my husband, who had never been to Italy before, the city I had quickly grown to love.  I also wanted to see if my memories of eighteen years ago had held up.  Of course they had!

The following photos are highlights from a most delightful trip of just the two of us. Because it was just us, we were not beholden to anyone.  No one pulling my apron strings. We could sleep in if we wanted to. We could pop into a museum just before closing and not worry about checking strollers and making loo breaks before we proceeded. We could wonder the city for hours on end shopping, eating and drinking with no schedule at all.

It goes without saying that Italy is a country perfect for a holiday with your love.  The people are gracious. Both city and countryside are true marvels of old world beauty.  The country moves at a pace just perfect for foreign travelers. I would visit again and again and I hope to do so one day with both of my daughters.  But last spring, was for my husband and I.  I’m not sure when we will travel again without children in-tow or to a place other than the well-trodden homes of our dear family, but we will always have Italy.

Make the time to travel for yourself and with someone you love.  There is great joy and romance of stepping out of the everyday–to discover not only this big and beautiful world, but the connection you have in it together.

image

A Room With A View. We choose to stay in an Airbnb rental flat for our stay in Florence.

image

My first glimpse of the River Arno in 18 years.

image

Tourist watch.  His first look at the Duomo in Florence city center.

image

The amazing selection of delicacies at Gastronomia Perini inside Mercato Centrale in Florence.

image

Mercato Centrale Florence.

image

The Casual Observer.  A must see for art lovers and travelers alike. Botticelli’s Primavera at the Uffizi Gallery.

image

The starter course of one of the best meals we’ve ever had at Il Cibreo Ristorante in Florence.

image

La Dolce Vita.  Singularly, the best unplanned activity we did on our trip.  An afternoon drive in the classic Fiat 500 through the Tuscan hills.

image

On to Venice.

image

While my husband spent a few days working, I stole away to every nook, bend and canal alleyway in the city.

image

Italy in April is a perfect time to go.  There are less crowds, the Wisteria is blooming over every edifice and the air is warm but not too humid.

image

Another dinner destination must, Al Covo Ristorante. The menu is seasonal and locally sourced which means an abundance of fresh seafood unique to the Venetian Lagoon.

image

A delightful surprise for me was to come upon the doors to the Peggy Guggenheim Collection by artist Claire Falkenstein.  Falkenstein is a favorite of mine. I took dozens of photos that day of these doors, documenting every detail.

image

Italy you were so good to us.