Never a breath you can afford to waste

On our honeymoon on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, 2007

Don’t the hours grow shorter as the days go by
We never get to stop and open our eyes
One minute you’re waiting for the sky to fall
The next you’re dazzled by the beauty of it all -Bruce Cockburn, Lovers in a Dangerous Time


Thirteen years ago I met a Canadian in New York who would become my soul mate. A few days ago we celebrated his newest role in life as a father and at week’s end we will celebrate our role together as a married couple.

It goes without saying that my husband is a great father to our daughters. His homecomings at days’ end are greeted with jumps, smiles and “Daddy!” squeals from the girls. The unconditional love he has for (and is reciprocated by) our daughters is apparent in the hundred dozen pictures I have taken of them.

He encourages them when they are afraid to take that first step. He teaches them table manners and the polite way to ask for something. He gives pointers on knife skills in the kitchen and how to do the back float in the pool. He shows them the joy of a walk in the woods. He makes dad jokes. He is a present and mindful father.


As we celebrate our anniversary this weekend, I’d like to think we have lived a present life together.  But of course, the doldrums of life take a hold of us from time to time. Even if the day-to-day lacks luster, moments of spectacular happen in our lives.

Spectacular days, like your wedding day, make you nostalgic. But instead of reminiscing on days gone by, I’d like to think we are encouraged by this nostalgia. In so far, as we seek out opportunities for more felicitous moments to grab, capture and tuck away for safe keeping until we are old and grey and can reflect back on a life well-lived.


And so this week, my soul mate is six years a father to my daughters and nine years my husband. For me, these once-a-year-holidays are a gentle reminder to immerse yourself in the present. Monikers like father and husband, mother and wife don’t quite suffice as a definition of us but those moments that he and I have lived together do.


worlds of color: book picks for the littles

Detail of two rainbows on a stormy day. drawing by my five-year-old daughter, May 2016

My oldest daughter is really into drawing rainbows right now. She seeks color in everything. Clothes must be bright and if it sparkles, it’s a bonus. The best flowers in her opinion are ones saturated in the colors of pink, yellow, or purple. Her drawings must contain a minimum of three colors but more is always better. And lately, the pages of her library finds must be filled with a riot of color.


Snow White and the 77 Dwarfs by Davide Cali and illustrated by Raphaëlle Barbanégre is a retooling of the classic fairy tale we all know.  An evil witch, a forest, and dwarfs. This time around there are a whole lot more dwarfs, seventy-seven.  They are willing to protect Snow White from the witch but there is a catch. Chores, chores and more chores! Things pile up fast with so many dwarfs to tend to. By the end, Snow White is left wondering if she was better off with the witch.


The pages are end to end with rainbow-ordered color. My daughter’s favorite part of the story is when Snow White contemplates life with seventy-seven dwarfs:

“Snow White could see right away that life with the dwarfs might be difficult. For starters, how was she going to learn all their names?—Rufus, Kerfuffle, Dudley, Popsicle, Poodle, Bacon, Kiki, Blorp….”

Well, you get the idea.

When I read this page I recite each and every name of the dwarf in an increasingly exasperated voice for full effect. Snow White’ face is equally exasperated by story’s end.


Our next pick, Maybe Something Beautiful: How Art Transformed a Neighborhood by F. Isabel Campy and Theresa Howell and illustrated by Rafael López, is a book that swirls with color and inspiration. The book is about a young girl who loved to draw and paint. She fills her room with color but her world outside is dull and gray.  One day a muralist arrives and together the young girl and the artist paint the walls of her neighborhood and transform it into something beautiful.

Mira, the young girl reminds me so much of my own daughter. I will often catch my daughter in a quiet moment to herself with her blank piece of paper, markers, pencils and crayons creating.

“In the heart of a gray city, there lived a girl who loved to doodle, draw, color and paint. Every time she saw a blank piece of paper, Mira thought to herself, Hmm, maybe…And because of this, her room was filled with color and her heart was filled with joy.”


The fluidity of colors will inspire young artists. Maybe Something Beautiful is based on a true story of how Rafael López, the illustrator of the book, and his wife brought together a community in San Diego, California and transformed their mundane neighborhood into a bright, bold and beautiful place filled with large-scale murals.

Snow White and the 77 Dwarfs and Maybe Something Beautiful are full of vivid imagery that excite the reader’s imagination. The former offers a story with lots of chuckles from rainbow-colored, mischievous dwarfs and the latter encourages a young girl to turn her colorful dreams into a reality.

Now off to make my own rainbows with my daughter.


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