If you’ve been reading this blog, you know I love novelty. I love exploring the world through the eyes of my daughter, who’s experiencing everything for the first time. Her awe and wonder is contagious—and also, I realize, I’m experiencing many things for the first time, as well, which totally satisfies my constant craving for novelty. It’s safe to say I haven’t lost the childlike tendency to experiment and be surprised with the results.

Sometimes I write about family activities and trips, like our unforgettable adventure in El Salvador. Other times I document life with a papoose. And then I revel in my solo adventures. The thread throughout is, “If I can do it, so can you.” I’m all about conquering fears, getting out of one’s comfort zone, keeping stimulated, and finding beauty in ordinary encounters.

The following photo essay may make some people uncomfortable. I posted one pic on Facebook and heard “Why are you taking her there?” THAT tells me I’m doing something right. Just like I have pregnancy pics of myself on a ladder hammering nails when I was ready to pop, these photos juxtapose elements you wouldn’t normally see together: the child and the tombstone. (I think this essay was inspired more than two years ago, when I set Adela’s car seat beside her namesake’s tombstone and snapped a pic. That was admittedly eerie.)

A child in a cemetery for the first time doesn’t know what she’s looking at. To her, it’s an exploration of obelisks; a nature path through a grove of flat stones; a new place with new shapes and textures. Noticing the age of the stones was, of course, sublime for me. Many were so worn that the dates weren’t visible, but, as you can see below, they’re almost 200 years old. There were many children’s tombstones, which counted the age of the child to the day. This cemetery is by our house. Is there any scene near your home that you’ve passed numerous times and been curious to explore? This is me saying, “Go ahead and take a look around. Satisfy your curiosity.”


Spending 11 hours a day most days of the week with a toddler, while enjoyable, can be mentally dulling. I find it increasingly important for my sanity and creativity to attend the occasional lecture, film, or, in this case, art class. (Special thanks to my hubby and his mom for enabling me to get away for the day.)

On Sunday I attended a 3-hour workshop on urban terrarium art, in a really cool neighborhood called Gowanus, Brooklyn. We all brought in bric-a-brac to include in our art, and the amazing instructor, Kim Holleman, provided unique glass vessels, live plants, and more treasures to design with. It’s a shame I didn’t bring my good camera. The following photo essay was shot on my iPhone.

Something I didn’t know going in: Photos, paper, coins, and other materials won’t do well in the terrarium. You really want to display items that won’t decay, while the plant grows in the biosphere.

Watching it evolve will be totally cool. It has a living plant in it, that I guess I’ll have to water.

Arranging the minutiae into a balanced ecosystem challenged, frustrated, and satisfied my perfectionist tendency. Having seen one or two students scrap their projects and start over, I was afraid to make the next move sometimes. Then there were these moments of surrender where I just had to drop the next element into my very vertical vessel, and sighs of relief when I didn’t fuck the whole thing up.

I’ve always dug miniature and microscopic worlds. I was really into macro photography for a while.

Having a new skill—and a finished product—at the end is rewarding. I hope you like what I made! I’m now on the lookout for another unique glass vessel so I can try my hand at terrarium building again.

Traveling to a new neighborhood is always stimulating.

Do you get updates about lectures, classes, continuing education, or side trips that you’ve wanted to try? Go ahead and do a one-day seminar! It’s low commitment and the ROI is high.

About MommyTheorist

Editor, writer, photographer, and new mom
This entry was posted in New York, Parenting, Photography, Travel and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to WITH… AND WITHOUT

  1. Pingback: Summer Highlights « Mommy Theorist

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