mother and child by samantha spigos
pink and red playsilks valentines gift for baby by samantha spigos

You know how certain things need defending? Like ice cubes in a glass of milk, Shania Twain, and socks with sandals? For the record, I do and will uphold all of the above. It’s due time to stand in defense of lowly, overlooked Valentine’s Day. It was in middle school that I started wearing pink pants and decorating homemade valentines for friends to mark the occasion, but really it was childhood that fortified my deep love of the day. My mom was working by the time I can remember the holiday, leaving well before any of us were awake. Being a household of seven, a lot of things get lost in translation, such as getting picked up from school (only once or twice did this happen, but I did have to lift my feet so the janitor could vacuum around me, and you don’t forget a thing like that), having lunches packed (we did the packing; I’m sorry, dad, for the time I packed you nothing but a piece of cake), etc.

For the things that occasionally got overlooked (and understandably, I might add), it seems to me that my mom never let Valentine’s Day go uncelebrated. One year when I went downstairs, long after she had gone to work, there they were: boxes of sugary, name brand cereal. One for each sibling, with a note featuring her iconic lipstick kiss next to a heart with the word MAMA. Another year there was a heart-shaped box of chocolates, a treasure to be savored and hidden from all of my fiendish siblings. And every year of elementary school, when kids could still design and bring in their own valentine boxes, she would help me craft something magnificent. No straightforward boxes for the Jacksons. In first grade she made me a butterfly out of a barrel shaped plastic pretzel tub and cardboard wings. Fourth grade? A life-sized vacuum. I pushed it the whole way to my grandma’s house on the walk home from school, and with pride. In fifth grade we made a large house, complete with a front door and a bedroom window featuring the school photo of your’s truly. I come by my love of Valentine’s Day naturally.

And then there’s the pink and red color story. Warm, loving, inviting colors to punctuate a wet, drizzly, cold month. Right in the middle of February we are offered a chance to feel embraced, if by the colors alone. Mark and I love to host a Valentine’s supper for friends or family, because if there’s one thing I know for sure, it is that a day of love needn’t be relegated to romantic love. Love is for everyone, and so is February 14th. Unclear on what to do this year, and suspecting that it might be a normal hamburger and rice sort of evening (we have a one year old, after all), I have taken to celebrating in little ways. Red and pink clothes, handwritten notes and homemade valentines, a cup of rosy black tea each afternoon, a little extra baking, you get it.

Why not write a note to your love? Or bake some cookies with your kids? Or go for a walk and tell the ground you love it, tell the sky you love it, tell your lungs and legs you love them? For the diehards out there who cannot and will not give it a chance, I surely have not convinced you. But if perhaps you love a reason to make an otherwise ordinary day a little extra, I think Valentine’s is for you.

P.S. Pictured above are the two playsilks I picked out from Ginny’s shop to give Rosemary, despite her not being old enough to remember. In the future she’s getting cereal, but only the good stuff.




There is simply no way to put into words the all-consuming sensation of looking at your baby. Your baby. Someone you made; someone who did not exist before. There is no work of art more beautiful than the face of your baby, and I understand now that all parents are actually artists. Life is a paradox, where newborn days are mundane and monotonous and magnificent and magical, proving to have no discernible beginning or end. Nurse, poop, cry, sleep, nurse, poop, cry, sleep. Bounce, bounce, bounce, rock, bounce, never stop bouncing. We've danced this new reality for three weeks, which is simultaneously an absolute eternity and no time at all, a flit. Our baby is ancient but impossibly fresh to the world; she is tiny but two whole pounds bigger than when she arrived. She is our baby, our baby, our baby. We are merely shepherds to this little lamb named Rosemary, and we do our best.


I took the photos of our bedroom when she was still in utero. Things are decidedly less tidy and there are a few telltale signs of new parenthood now: a stool next to the bed covered with salves and balms and breast pads, a pillow on the rocker for extra lumbar support, an unending supply of to-be-washed cloth diapers on the changing table, an exercise ball for the aforementioned bouncing, a heap of Mark's and my clothes in a pile, and our beautiful linen sheets have been temporarily replaced with trusty flannels. I am particularly glad for the sheets decision, as she has had a blowout while nursing on our bed every day this week. During the final weeks of nesting, I knit Rosemary a humble little stack of sweaters, diaper covers, hats and bonnets — even a little stuffed bunny — only to find that we hate dressing our child and can hardly bear to put anything on her precious, perfect skin. It's enough to put her little tush in a cloth diaper. So the woolens will dutifully remain in their drawer. On this side of love, mama, dad, and their little Rosie valentine learn as they go, and boy are they ever glad for it. 




This summer; trimming the hooves of our favorite beast, Tyrandelion. Clad in coveralls because sometimes you want to hug your favorite buck but you don't want to smell like him. Miss you, Ty. We hope you always get hugged while your hooves are being trimmed! 

This summer; trimming the hooves of our favorite beast, Tyrandelion. Clad in coveralls because sometimes you want to hug your favorite buck but you don't want to smell like him. Miss you, Ty. We hope you always get hugged while your hooves are being trimmed! 

Two years married. Six years together. Baby coming any day. Working hard to start our own farm. Unsure of where we'll live or what we'll be doing in a year's time. That's the pulse. Tonight we'll feast on a roast from a goat we raised ourselves. Mark will surely crack one of his few remaining tart cherry saisons, and Sam will opt for a cup of tart cherry juice. We will toast to this life we have cultivated in marriage; the mystery and the magnitude and the magic of it all more real than it's ever been. I suspect our baby will spend the evening dancing around and teasing us from in utero.

We could wax poetic on how totally wonderful marriage is, but we'd rather just let the year keep moving and be along for the ride. Maybe in fifty years we will have sage advice or wisdom to drop, but for now it's just coffee in bed every morning and laughing at how unpredictable and fun our life is together. Thanks be to God for a beautiful two years! 




When it comes to being in love, words have never done my heart much justice. It almost seems a disservice to attempt any sort of quantification of what position love assumes. Still, I feel drawn to marking special occasions with some amount of written word. Love letters, I guess. For all that I have yet to understand about marriage, or the incredible chaos of love, I do know that I'm thick in it. So when I sound maddeningly like mush, as I am oft to do, let us blame Mark. As it were, in a couple days he will have been rounding the sun for a quarter-century. 25 on the 29th. Without further rambling, here's a "happy almost birthday" commentary on my best ever life accomplice.

If you know him, you love him. Affable, gentle, with a touch of grandiosity in his storytelling. Smarter than most of us, but brilliant because he doesn't care for being smart so much as he simply loves to learn. Always saying he knows nothing about music because he "does not know music theory", yet he constantly fills our house with melodies from his piano, ukulele, percussion instruments, and a soon-to-arrive violin bass guitar. Skims every page of the newspaper before throwing it into the fire (a similarity to my grandpa that I am convinced is not coincidental). Will happily talk sports for hours with anyone interested, but just as easily discuss the merits of linen versus cotton with his wife. Will make you feel there has never been a better cook than you, and he means it. A real slam dunk of a human being. 

Thanks for building every fire and for keeping our house — literally and proverbially — warm.
(P.S. Can't wait to have your babies.)

All of these images are from our journey to Greece in May 2016.
Photos 1 & 3 were taken by Mark, and are two of my all-time favorite images. Though none so good as photo 4.