...is the process by which we create, discover, learn and grow with those we cherish most.


the art of being... present


Every day after lunch, with remnants of food still dabbled on her face, Ava asks for one thing:

"Mom, can we do an art project please?"

I hesitate. Because I know the right thing would be to first have her clean up the dishes with me... then put away leftovers... and her tricycle before Aaron trips over it again... pickup her Scholastic DVD's before Noah sticks them into the VCR... or the Mrs. Potato Head pieces before they are thrown into the abyss of the air vents on the floor.... I know I should stack her library books before another late fine accrues... or get a load of laundry done so their pajama tops match their bottoms...

But the hesitation gets deflected for some reason, and I find myself squirting her tempera paints into an egg carton.

In every color.


I find myself pulling up a child's chair - and watching her... create something so sporadic with colors in every direction. Suddenly a tree appears in emerald green... then with a wash of purple paint, a bicycle seat appears instead... We make small talk until Noah finds us at the art table. I pull off his sweater and give him a paintbrush. He dips it into a puddle of yellow and them stamps his white space... as if playing the drums.


He wants a different color for his second paint brush in his other hand - and starts to pull the carton towards him. Ava shrieks, and Noah threatens her with his brush by holding it like a spear. She doesn't give in - she's in the process of mixing more colors and needs close access. They play tug of war until finally, I intervene and remind them about the "middle" of the table.


But to Noah, the "middle" appears misleading at his height... so he climbs to the top of the table and discovers a more unconventional way to paint - like using his bare feet.


I picked up Noah in full fledged giggles [he knows not to stand on tables!] and carried him to the bathroom. He laughed when I washed the bottom of his feet. So I pretended they were still dirty so I could hear him laugh even more. We changed his clothes quickly so we could check back with Ava... Too late. She painted both of her palms. Second amateur painter whisked into the bathroom - now flooding a new room with their paint...

In every color.

Their clothes eventually made it through with the loads of laundry later that night... the art table and bathroom counter tops were wiped clean, and their toys once again reunited with their boxes. Stains, clothes, missing pieces of toys... are replaceable. But what can't be is our time with our children. By doing so, we're teaching them the importance of embracing the present, and living passionately.

They do this so naturally, and I remind myself how to do so by following their lead.

Even if they have to go to bed with mis-matched pj's...


  1. The easiest way to cure someone from having obsessive compulsive disorder is to give them kids. I remember not to long ago ordering the kids paints by the color of the rainbow, making sure all puzzles (and each and every last piece of them) were put away before another was taken out, wiping the kids faces after each sip of milk or each bite of food, ensuring the sock drawer was completely stocked with matching socks, and not allowing the kids to have more than 1 toy out at a time because I was afraid we might do something like lose the little Dalmatian that came with out firehouse.

    Well guess what.... we can't find the Dalmation anymore and I haven't lost any sleep over it. Neither have the kids.

  2. Absolutely LOVE this "present" post!!! Thank you for sharing with me such a delightful part of parenthood...how fun!!! You and Aaron are so creative with the kids...if/when Corb and I have
    kid(s) we'll definitely follow in your footsteps, hope we can do as excellent a job as you and Aaron do ;) (and I laughed out loud at the photo of Noah on the table, it makes me want to try painting with my feet!!!)

    Thank you so much,

  3. lovely. again, like i had told you before, you are a brave woman. i am learning from you to let go. i love art and my house is surrounded by it,there is not a day we do not work on a project, but my problem is control! i want it all clean, matching and organized! my hubby calls me anal, i think i am, but after reading your blog months back, the one were you let Noah paint in the bathtub (it still makes me smile to think of it), i have learned to let go, and let my little ones be more...messy! like you said, other chores can wait, but time with my little ones are precious and before we know it they will have past by. i often need to remind myself of that. so here it is to letting those mismatched p.j.s be worn!!!

  4. what a wonderful blessing it was to stumble upon your blog. I'm not sure exactly now the path that lead me here, but I had marked it so I could go back and read it when I had more time. I had children in my 20's and rushed through so much of the precious moments trying to get it all done. Now I've been given a second chance in my 40's with a new "little man" to remind me of how it's the little things that really matter most in the end. My big kids still tell me that I am the best mom ever, but deep down I think I could have done better by slowing down. Now is all we've got. It's not merely a means to the next moment, it's meant to be enjoyed. Thanks for your sharing your precious family.

  5. The Angels do not care about matching PJs as they watch over our little ones as they slumber. What matters most are the precious moments like this and that you have recognized and taken the time to share with us all...THANK YOU.

  6. What a reminder of times past for me. My kids are in college now and the youngest of 4 is almost 17. I made smores, and finger and toe painted too. Your words and passion for family is a bright light in the world... Precious kids, creative photography, Cute husband too. Enjoy every minute, before long you will just be reading about it and not living it!
    Sherry Patrizi
    (friend of Deb did it)

  7. Dear Dave - for you guys to recognize this as blissful parenting, just makes my heart melt. We are so honored - and look forward to the day when we will say the same about you guys. My love to you both.

    Dear Lisa - so proud of you for letting go. It's scary I know - and wonder, will the chores ever get done? But who am I kidding, chores, schmores - these children's smiles are the only memory I need. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts... and remembering the unforgettable bathroom scene with Noah!

    Dear Staci - wow! Welcome and I'm so glad you found me. It sounds like you are an amazing mother - and have been given another chance BECAUSE you are amazing. I know what you mean about those past reflections... but the way I see it, you're soo lucky to have the two parenting experiences to compare, learn and draw from. I love your website and optimism for life and the clear message that "life's too short to be anyone else" - oh how true....

    Dear Deb - my dear friend, since we've met, I've been floating. Your wonderful words raise my spirits and on this post, I actually pictured angels watching over the kids and smiling at their PJ's ;) Thank you for coming into my life...

    Dear Sherry - I have to admit, I actually found you first through Deb's site and it put a smile on my face to see your love of family and photography shine through. And I am very preciously fond of these things to in my life. I wondered if I'll ever get around to making this hobby into a profession myself... or if I even have what it takes. I also wondered if I'd have to wait until the "kids are gone" to pursue it as a career - If I do, then that's great too. At least I have this time now to capture these moment from my lens, so I can look back at yesterday and remember how great they are... and how much they've already changed.

    Oh why do they have to grow up? This has got to be the hardest aspect of parenting... Thank you so much for sharing. Oh, and Aaron *blushed* when he read your comment... thank you!

  8. I struggle every day, every HOUR with being present. My kids are little, too, and I have a really hard time letting them make a mess, sitting there and watching them play instead of cleaning something else up while they're occupied, etc. This post is a lovely reminder that these moments are precious. Thank you.

  9. As I am reading this post - I am asking myself why is Zarlacht writing every single detail of the children painting - and then it hits me - you are sharing what you observed from your children moment by moment - something our children deserves from us but as parents always seem to busy to give. I left my home this morning with my son looking up at me crying "mommy" - thanks to your post I will make sure to give him what he deserves as soon as I am with him again - which is "us toghether in the present"

  10. Dear KTP - oh how familiar that sounds... it only took me two years! to figure out. I think it was the internal tugging and finally something had to give. I'm so glad it was the cleaning [smile].

    The way I see it, there's a time for everything. And our kids are small now for a reason. When they are in their teens, and would rather be out with friends - then I'll have more time to organize and clean [laughing..] than I'll know what to do with.

    Thanks for sharing today!

    Dear Wagma,
    Oh my heart pangs for your desire to be with Humzah all day, every day. But time with Grandma during the day is a sweet deal. And even sweeter when you get to pick him up and observe all of his "moments" he's been waiting to show you [smile].

    My love to you always big sis... now bring the kids over so I can love on them too!


Thanks for sharing - I will respond to your comment here as well so check back! xo


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