letters to my sons : april 2014

This is the sixth in a year long series of letters to my sons. Next in the group is Courtney Karban — please visit her site after mine to travel along the full circle.


N, we just celebrated your fifth birthday. In so many ways you’ve been acting 5 (or 7, or 15) for a very long time. But in other ways, I can’t believe you’re actually five. You’ll play t-ball this Summer. And start Kindergarten this Fall. You’re reading bits to your little brother. You actually wanted to go to the kids area at Ikea this weekend, even though you would be all on your own. And you enjoyed it. (That’s a very, very big deal for you.) For the first time, you’re acknowledging that you’re “too big” for this, or that. You’re limbs are growing longer by the minute, and your knees are always banged up from your many, many adventures.

This is such a fun time to watch – you’re taking on new things, naturally learning and exploring, testing everything (ok, so that part is not always fun). It’s a time I want to savor. Last year I was actually a bit anxious about your summer off of preschool. I was still learning the balancing act of two kids, and you were in a fairly challenging phase. This summer I look forward to soaking up my time with you – before you are away from me 5 days a week.

You had a wonderful birthday. We had so much fun as a family on the actual day, and followed it up with a pretty big party the next weekend. I was surprised you wanted to invite so many kids, and worried your naturally shy tendencies. I didn’t have to worry. You played and laughed and celebrated and it was pretty much perfect.

You make a fantastic 5-year-old :)

Up next, read what the very talented Courtney Karban has to say to her son.

letters to my sons : march 2014

This is the fifth in a year long series of letters to my sons. Next in the circle is Dana Lauder — please visit her site after mine to travel along the full circle.


Boys, I’ll be honest, I had hoped the images that went along with this month’s post wouldn’t involve snow. But I’m glad my wish didn’t come true, because this “last hurrah” (I hope), was so much fun. It’s been a tough week. Between lots of travel and lots of sickness, we’re all pretty thrown off. You’ve been cranky. I’ve been cranky. We’re all ready to get outside and play. So when several inches fell right on the heels of a lovely 50-degree day, we didn’t complain. We threw on the snow pants one more time and had a blast.


You played in the snow. You splashed in the ice cold puddles. You tackled each other and smiled the whole time. And so did I. It could have been 5 degrees outside, and I suspect I still would have had to drag you back in to the warmth of the house. (The promise of hot cider eventually did the trick.) I love seeing you both like this – absolutely vibrant and full of fun – each of you in your purest form.

That said, um, no more snow. We’re ready to start playing in the mud :)

Up next, read what the very talented Dana Lauder has to say to her son.

letters to my sons : february 2014

This is the fourth in a year long series of letters to my sons. Next in the circle is Sarah Davis — please visit her site after mine to travel along the full circle.


Oh what a winter this has been! Record breaking snow (which we love), record breaking cold temperatures (which we do NOT love). There is a major case of cabin fever in the James house! We’ve broken out the snow gear whenever we can, but it’s tough to get out there and enjoy -5 degree temperatures. I’m afraid you both just think this is what winter is always like, though I keep assuring you this is not normal.


We’ve made the best of it though, keeping busy with swimming in the very heated pool, trips to the children’s museum, and finally taking you to your first movie, N (Frozen – how appropriate). You were a big fan.

Overall though, I think we’re all ready for the thaw. And for more adventures, inside and out.

There’s one more thing… all of the images in my letter to you this month were taken using a phone. And most aren’t even composed very well. I really miss photographing the two of you — but I’ve had a good excuse. Mama was pretty sick. Very sick, actually. And my energy level wasn’t quite been where it usually is. However, I’m finally feeling a lot better, and all of that sickness was for a very exciting reason. Despite initially thinking our little family was complete, life had other plans. If everything goes as hoped, there will be a new son (or daughter?) to write letters to in August.

We just told you both, and you’re pretty thrilled. In fact, we’re all pretty thrilled.

Like I said, bring on the new adventures!

Up next, read what the very talented Sarah Davis has to say to her son.

letters to my sons : december 2013

This is the third in a year long series of letters to my sons. Next in the circle is Sarah Davis — please visit her site after mine to travel along the full circle.



Before I was pregnant with G, I was a little concerned about the increasing gap between your ages. As the months went on, and so many of my friends were having children very close together, your dad and I wondered if the two of you would be close. Looking back, our concerns were so silly. Even at 4.5 and 17 months, you’re already the most hilarious duo.

N, you are such an amazing big brother. You take such great care of G, you goof around with him, you’re trying to teach him everything you know. You even wake him from naps sometimes just so you can play (despite the fact that you lose your precious mom / N time by doing that). Sometimes he can be a little annoying as he gets in to *everything,* but even then you almost always shrug it off and call him “destructo,” or say “oh, toddlers” with a friendly laugh. Admittedly your play gets a little rough now and then, but you always kiss and hug him and make sure he’s ok. I melt every time I see the two of you just being awesome together.

G, your world pretty much revolves around N. You do every single thing he does, even if it makes no sense at all. If N does it, you’re game. You love to tackle him. He will just be sitting somewhere and you suddenly appear, throwing all of your 22 pounds at him. It’s quite the sight. You’re rough and tumble, but a lover, too. For every tackle, you share a big bear hug. At night you try to snuggle up in bed with him, and I have to pluck you out and put you in your crib. N wants you to stay, but I’ve told him you’re too young. Once you’re out of your crib, I suspect I’ll find the two you curled up together regularly.

As an only child until the age of 21, I never anticipated how amazing your relationship would be. As much as I love being mom to each of you, I love being mom to both of you the very most.

Up next, read what the very talented Sarah Davis has to say to her son.

letters to my sons : november 2013

This is the second in a year long series of letters to my sons. Next in the circle is Jill Cassara — please visit her site after mine to travel along the full circle.


G, it’s your turn.

You are 16 months old now. I still think of you as a baby, even though you’re firmly in toddler territory. I’m just not willing to call you anything other than my baby.

You’re a charmer. I get stopped daily (seriously, daily) by people commenting on your personality. It shines. You give out smiles freely and will flirt with anyone who stops long enough to say hello. Or goodbye. You very enthusiastically say, “bye!” and wave with your whole body when anyone turns the other way. It’s hard to leave a farewell like that.

You’re very opinionated, just like your brother, but you’re so different, too. Where he is cautious and focused, you’re rambunctious and adventurous. If there’s something that can be climbed, you’re on it. When you hear a beat, you dance. It doesn’t matter if it’s coming from a commercial, an elevator, or even someone humming, if you hear music, you dance. You’re independent. If I don’t lock our front door, you’ll push it open and head out on your own. One time, N and I decided to let you go, just to see what would happen. We followed you all the way to the park – you didn’t look back until you made it there. Then you turned around, gave us one of your scrunched up smiles, and ran off to the swings.

There’s so much to love about you, but one thing I don’t love quite as much – you’re an awful sleeper. I know someday you’ll be a teenager, and I’ll struggle to get you out of bed at a reasonable hour. I cling to that thought every morning as we’re playing together at 5:15 am. Just now, as I was typing this at midnight, you woke up and decided you wanted to have a party.

We are not having a party. (Though your smile almost convinced me.)

There are still many days that I’m amazed that that you’re here. There was a period of time when I thought maybe a second child wasn’t meant to be. You didn’t come easily to us. But you were worth every shot, every tear, every rough day, because out of those tough times came your infectious smile.

I am so incredibly thankful that you’re a part of our family.

Up next, read what the very talented Jill Cassara has to say to her son.

letters to my sons : october 2013

This is the first in a year long series of letters to my sons. This is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time, and I’m so thankful to join a beautiful group of amazingly talented photographers in this endeavor. Next in the circle is the very talented Laurie Yuenger, please visit her site after mine to travel along the full circle.

N, I’m going to start with you, as you were the one that made me a mother.

You’re 4.5 years old now. Your belly is no longer rounded. Your limbs are increasingly long and lanky. You smell like boy. I refuse to cut your floppy hair, it’s all I have left of your toddlerhood.

You’re an amazing brother. Your little brother clearly thinks you’re the best thing, well, ever, and I’m pretty sure you think the same of him. (Even when he’s being pesky.) You take such good care of him, and I can tell you’re so happy that he joined our family. He’s a very lucky boy to have you in his life.

I often describe you as complicated. You are. You’re so very shy to the outside world, but incredibly talkative and affectionate to those in your inner circle. You can light up a room or empty it, depending on your mood. You are, as they say, “spirited.” You love fiercely and are absolutely determined when you set your mind to something. You’ve been a cautious kid so far, but that’s starting to change. It’s hard to see you struggle with some of these new experiences, but exciting to watch you bravely take on new challenges.

We’re a lot alike. See the photo below? I have many childhood photos of me making that exact expression. I showed you one a while back, and you thought it was an image of you. So, I suppose I deserve that strong will of yours :)

You have a heart of gold and give amazing hugs. You’re full of silliness and adventure and boundless energy. You love to make up the most amazing stories, explore new parts of the city, wrestle with your brother, and then snuggle up on the couch with your lucky, lucky mama. (Did I mention the hugs? Seriously, they’re the best.)

N, I am so proud of you and the boy I’m watching you become. I love you with every bit of my heart. Thank you for being you.

Up next, read what the amazing Laurie Yuenger has to say to her boys.

one month with the gopro

One month — and many weekend adventures — in three minutes. I love this little camera.

sneaky stair climber

sneaky stair climber

bedtime fun

reading time with aunt sam

making shadow puppets with his aunt. they have such a special relationship.

boy genius

G, I hope you never, ever change.

go blue

go blue!

same shirt, same date, same place, different boy

same shirt, same date, same place, different boy

lake huron : sunrise, after sunset

lake huron at sunrise

lake huron at night

watering… help?

watering the plants


amazing bubbles

little brother has always though big brother is pretty amazing. but this skill? blew his mind.