Letters To My Sons | October

Hey Hey Hey...

What's up strong and tall little boy! The three year old wearing 5T clothing (Cash's clothes from just last year!). The fearless one who chases after the ball for his older brother after it's rolled into the dark room at the end of the hallway. And the tough cookie who bangs his head on concrete and bounces back quicker than you can say, "What happened?". Although you may not be all that interested in looking at books or being read to, are quite likely to leave an activity unfinished and are known to walk out of a movie before it's over, you are boundless in your physicality. You, G Money, are our bruiser for sure. 

You are also lavish with opinions. Such strong likes and dislikes you aren't afraid to share with us. Who cares about that yellow caution line? I wanna look for the oncoming train!! And oh yeah, I want to sit with my face in the seat and my butt in the air while I plow my weight against you. You and Cash are squishing the stranger next to you? Oh well, it's fun for me. No doubt you've got an entertainer streak and will do just about anything to get a laugh. Every day you manage to create nonsensical rap songs with accompanying booty dances to crack us up. Then if you are trying to smooth things over, you've got that down too. You bat your eyes, tilt your head and open up your arms for a hug. "I luh you mommy," you say with the execution of a skilled manipulator. A sweet college girl actually told me the other day that with those green eyes of yours, you're gonna get your way a lot. Mmm-hmmm.... 

She said this as she walked by us taking pictures. Not really one for posing, you decided that on THIS day you were going to do so and meticulously scouted each location along our walk to Cash's school. There is a little doorway you like to stand against and I have to say, it does create some dreamy open shade. I was able to capture those eyes that young lady was talking about. 

Next you wanted to sit on the bench in front of the crepería where I caught you mid-laugh. That's the mischief we know. The big personality who loves dancing and pretending to be shot down in combat with your brother. Your dramatics are just that. Dramatic. And your independence is thriving. Each morning on our way to school you ask Cash and I to meet you at the bottom of the stairs while you take the elevator by yourself. Oh yeah, that "By Yourself" bit is huuuuge these days.  

Sheesh. You even potty trained yourself this past month. One day you just decided you were done with diapers (much to my delight since I was really lagging on this). Second child syndrome? It's quite possible. I was just hoping that either Cash would show you how or you would just figure it out on your own. Which you did! And have managed to only have two accidents since then. The first was when you went number two at the same time I was. There we were in the bathroom, both of us pants down trying to clean up the mess that was all over you and the floor while Cash stood by hysterically laughing. 


And the other time was at the playground when you soaked through your sweatpants. You seemed totally cool with it and wanted to keep playing but we decided it was best for us to leave in order to avoid the gasps and eye rolls from other parents - and any possible chafing. We walked home the ten blocks rather than wet some cabbie's backseat and as Daddy said, "It was good to air you out!"  Again, you didn't seem to mind at all. It was just another example of your "Don't Give A  ----" personality, which of course, drives me crazy a great deal of the time, but I know will serve you well in life. And yes, I STILL want to eat that cute face of yours. Those cheeks so irresistible, those McDonald's arch eyebrows and that pipsqueak voice.

My little Harlem boy ~ I want to thank you for finding this perfect doorway. We got some of your best portraits here. May you continue to be that warrior whose greatest superpower will ALWAYS be those devilish green eyes. 

I love you Grey Bear.

Always & forever, Mom

The Gold Standard

At least in my eyes they are. The Gold Standard of LOVE. Growing up as kids in the same neighborhood in a small Ohio town, my dad asked my mom out on a date when she was 15 and he was 16. They were sweeties throughout high school and college and on her 21st birthday, which happens to be New Year's Eve, he proposed. As Dad likes to say, "The rest is history." Indeed. Sixty years of history!

So on this New Year's Eve Mom, I would like to wish you the happiest birthday! You are 81 and so much fun! Your joy and compassion for others is such an inspiration and whether you believe it or not, you touch so many lives, namely mine, in extraordinary ways.

This day is for you!

I love you.  

Letters To My Sons | September

Happy birthday my love. Five years ago today you came into this world and changed our lives for the better. What a cliché thing to say, but it's entirely true. The enthusiasm you have for life and for sharing it is beyond compare, that sometimes all I can do is look into those twinkly brown eyes and thank God for you.

The other night I sat at the edge of your bed and we talked about what you wanted to do on your birthday, what you hoped you'd be getting. Of course it was ALL about Power Rangers - Megazords, Vivixes, Sledge and anything Dino Charge -- complete crazy talk to me. But it's what you're into right now, and you're always so excited to describe the different characters and fighting scenarios. Just to let you know though, I secretly recorded our talk. I had to preserve that sweet little voice of yours -- what you'd call a "sound snapshot" -- from a year so great I often wish I could freeze time. 

A couple of days ago while we were walking home from school, I realized that I almost never ask you to hold my hand. You do it automatically and all the time. But in my heart I know these days are numbered and it makes me a teensy bit sad. When I asked you later if you'll still hold my hand when you're Five, you laughed and said, "Yes, Mommy!", then pinky promised to hold my hand when you when you are 10, 18, 25 and even 50 years old!  "FIFTY!!??" I said, "That means I'll be 86! How awesome will that be??!!"  

I know I've said this before, but you have grown into a loving, caring and confident older brother. Grey absolutely adores you and follows you everywhere. Even when he's in preschool (which he just started this year), he'll point to the door and say "Cash" to let his teachers know he wants to go to your classroom. The other day both of your classes were outside at the same time and you guys ran over to hug each other through the fence. Every grownup watching had a hand on their heart because it was so sweet, while one of the teachers ran to open the gate so you guys could give each other a real embrace.   


First steps


Sweet Cash, I know it's inevitable that each year you will add another number to your age. You'll grow taller and bigger, until one day you're looking down at me, forearm resting on my shoulder. You'll be a grown man with so much going on in your life that it will be hard to remember a time when you were so small and in need of guidance. But for now, I love that I can pick you up and tickle you silly, that your small hand is still cocooned in mine and that you pinky promised to hold it even when you are fifty years old.

So my love, I joyfully wish you happy birthday and pray for a fantabulous year ahead. Just so you know though, I'm going to hold you to that pinky promise we made the other night. Cause I've got it all on tape. :)

I love you son.

Always & forever,


Letters To My Sons | August

Dear boys,

As summer comes to a close, I could talk about how fun it was going to the beach, or the Saturdays mornings we got up early with Daddy to play basketball or the day at the farm when you guys rode in the wooden firetruck. But that's not what I loved most. What I loved most of all was watching your brotherhood grow. You see, this time last year Grey wasn't walking and of course wasn't talking, and I remember looking ahead to the time when you boys could run around together, when we could ditch the stroller and go have some fun. And, well, this summer was it! 

[Click each image to view full scale]

When talking about your brotherhood I'm including all of the hi's and the lo's, all of the growing pains involved with such a bond. One of the sweeter moments this past month was when I peeked around the bedroom door to find Cash reading one of Grey's animal picture books to him, and Grey trying to repeat the words back. Everyone in the house can't help but laugh when Grey says things like, "Doo Doo" (thank you) or "Boons" (balloons) or "Mo Mo" (Elmo) or when he says "Hi Dash!" (Cash).

That's all pretty darn cute and balances out those other moments when you guys mush against each other like feral rams fighting for my attention, or a certain toy or the window seat on the subway. Or the times when you guys chase each other around the house until someone inevitably falls on the floor, off the bed or couch, then cries and points a finger at the other one. Today it happened on the trampoline and Grey ended up with a bloody nose. It was the first bloody nose of this brotherhood so good for you Grey, you won that one! 

That's life and often times I'll just let you guys work it out yourselves, knowing that part of what bonds you now and forevermore will be these experiences. But I would like to thank you for those contagious fits of laughter, those squeals of joy during our "nae nae" dance parties and games of hide and seek, the tears of pain and frustration and the many smiles that brightened my summer. And most of all, I am thankful for zero trips to the emergency room.

Always & forever,


World Class Sunset

A recent date night took my husband and me on a 47-second rocket ride into the sky.  Inside the elevator at One World Trade, whose doors are a slick three-dimensional time-lapse panorama of over 500 years of downtown Manhattan, we soared 102 stories with hardly an ear pop. 

Needless to say it was a pretty spectacular 360° sunset.   

102 stories above

102 stories below

Letters To My Sons | July

Dear sons,

I must say we've been busy this summer doing all sorts of things, going all sorts of places, and yet there is one recent morning that stands out. We were getting ready to hit the playground early before it got too hot or crowded when Cash, you came out of your room to show me you had on your red rain boots and had dressed Grey in your favorite hat and sunglasses. I couldn't help but laugh because many times in the past I had tried (unsuccessfully!) to get Grey to wear them - but since he loves YOU so much, he was happy to put on whatever you picked out. I was dying too because you guys looked like the Blues Brothers. You're too young to know who they are, so just google it and you'll see. 

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Most of the time you spent going down the big slide over and over again. Grey, you were so happy to chase behind and up the steps to the top and Cash, you were so sweet with him, giving an extra boost of encouragement, a gentle push or a playful idea: "Put your hands up Grey! Close your eyes this time!" Sometimes he'd just sit in between your legs while you slid down with your arms wrapped tightly around him. 

We left with one of you riding piggy back to the nearest Duane Reade for band-aids - yes, those rain boots made for some gnarly blisters. Heading home, well Grey, that's when you managed to throw yourself into a state. It started from something small - I think some lady had bumped you accidentally when she walked past - and within moments you were inconsolable. But it was nothing Cash and I aren't used to. Actually it was fun for us to watch all the people walk by and try to get you to stop crying. We'd just look at each other like, "Yeah okay, nice try but we know how this goes." We patiently let you wail, wait for the next bus to go by and then shout, "Grey, Look! There's a bus!!"  Bingo. 

The other day I ran into the girl who works at the liquor store who saw this all go down. And you know what she said to me?  She said we did everything right, and most of all, what a great big brother.  

You Davis Brothers who look like the Blues Brothers, who play hard and love hard and cry hard, are growing up before my eyes. 

Cash, this past year especially, I have watched you become such a helper with Grey. Whether or not he is willing to receive the help, that's another story. But one day he will discover with great certainty that you always have his back. Even nowadays when he's having a tantrum on the street you'll say to me, "I'm not leaving my brother." 

Daddy tells you guys to "look out for each other no matter what." His mother said that to him and his brothers all the time when they were growing up and you know what, they did. They held each other up in the best and worst of times. And I have no doubt you will too.

Always & forever, 

Mom, Mama, Ma-mee

Letters To My Sons | June

Dear Cash,

I remember clearly those first weeks after you were born. As a new mother I'd often start crying whenever I'd look at you, shaken by how much love I felt. I heard such emotions were typical, but I also knew it was more than that -- it was you. Over the past four and a half years, I have had these feelings wash over me time and again. When you are sleeping I'll sometimes sit beside you for a bit, kissing you softly on your forehead and repeatedly thanking God for such a loving little boy.  

"Cash, I wish you could stay four forever," I once said to you, "I wish you would always want to cuddle and hold hands like this...You'll grow into a teenager and then a young man who will have his own family...but I'll always remember you as my sweet little boy." To which you replied, "It's okay Mom, that's a long way from now. And I promise I'll come back for Thanksgiving.

I guess you're what people call a Momma's Boy and that's cool. No, that's GREAT!  'Cause even though your "grown-up-ness" is a long way away like you said, these wonder years are still going to pass far too quickly. Starting with that first photo we had taken of us together (you were six months old) with your little balled up hand resting on my collarbone, to a recent one of us on vacation where you instantly placed your hand over my heart, your tenderness is without question. Then there's the moment you reach for my hand through the fence (one of my all time favorite photos!) just before going up to bat at one of your little league games and said, "Mommy, hold hands."  That was when my heart exploded.    


"There is an enduring tenderness in the love of a mother to a son that transcends all other affections of the heart."

~ Washington Irving  

Your last day of preschool was a week ago. As I sat through the closing ceremony, what struck me most was how loving you also are toward others. After getting your diploma, you hugged each of your three teachers one by one. When your head teacher, Lisa, started crying while saying good-bye and thanking the parents, you walked over and gave her another embrace. "Don't worry Teacher Lisa, whenever you feel sad you can look at this picture and then you won't be sad anymore."  What your teachers talked about most this year was your developing sensitivity toward your peers, how you learned to use words rather than behavior to communicate your emotions (not always easy for a 4 year-old!) and how loving you can be in your ways. Heck, sometimes you help me work through my feelings ("Just take a deep breath Mommy.... S-L-O-W-L-Y ... now breathe in and out"...) which never ceases to amaze me. 

Cashew, it's been a real joy to watch you evolve past your challenging year three. The arrival of your baby brother rocked your idyllic "only child" universe and we had to chug through some pretty rough patches that year.  "Mommy when I was three it was really hard for me, and I wasn't good a lot of the time. But now that I'm four, almost five, I'm being good....I'm not mean to my brother anymore. I just had to learn.

Oh baby, the way you process life is remarkable. I am awestruck. You are the apple of my eye, bring tears to my eyes and fill all of our hearts with love.   

Always my sweet boy,


One of the flowers you picked for me during our recent vacation to the Dominican Republic. Each day when I came to get you from camp you'd come running. "Mommy, Look! This flower is so beautiful. I picked it for you. Put it behind your ear and you'll be so pretty." By the end of the week I had a glorious bouquet.  


Letters To My Sons | May

Dear Grey Grey,

Today is your birthday! You are two years old now and there are three people who couldn't be more thrilled. It seems you're finally starting to move out of your dramatic phase, which, might I add, went on for a solid year. This photo is one of my favorites because it's real life ... it's our life -- it's classic Grey.  Sorry boo, it's the truth. But don't be mad, we love you dearly and ALWAYS have your back even when we're laughing through one of your oscar-winning meltdowns, with those heavy arms and Charlie Brown frown. It's just part of our humorous and tactical approach to your mood swings. We even created a couple of nicknames for you: Psychobaby, Mister Moody Rollercoaster, Grumpy Gus and of course, Drama King.  "There goes the Drama King" we'll say, as you fall to the floor in agonizing defeat over something minor, "that's just Grey being Grey.

The upside down toy truck only adds to the histrionics of the moment, which was like so many over the past year. We have endured thrown toys, thrown food, furrowed brows and scowls. We've been the target of the evil side-eye and witnessed countless crocodile tears. We've watched you fight mercilessly to do things yourself even when it's not safe. And because you want to do everything your older brother does, when things don't go your way you turn on the dramatics. But thankfully it seems the tide is turning and instead of always waking up in a state, you'll chatter playfully in your room until someone comes in. You are smiling and laughing so much more and have started galloping throughout the house. When I see you after being away, you'll run into my arms, squealing "Mommy!!!!".

I cannot tell you what a pleasure it is to watch your personality developing in full bloom this spring. Maybe it's because you've finally hit the two year old mark - who knows, but whatever the case may be, I'm relieved to have made it through your first phase of growing pains.

So happy birthday little Grey Grey and welcome to the two's. We'll be sure to have lots of cake and ice-cream while we're here with Grandma and Pow-Pow. Just don't be mad if we end up using this as our Christmas card. 

I love you, always & forever.


Photo 52: Pespectives | Fresh

We are reigniting the shooting portion of our yearly project with a fresh start: P52.3: Perspectives. Each week, we will post a mosaic and an adjective - individual voices, unified around a common theme. Simple, streamlined and back to basics - our audience of ourselves is off to reclaim the joy behind the camera. We hope you enjoy this next step in our journey.

This week our adjective is Fresh. The photo below was taken this past Saturday at my son's very first Little League tee ball game. At the age of four he's a fresh faced recruit to the world of team sports. Although his Daddy has been playing with him since he was in diapers, working on his catching and hitting skills, when it comes to hitting the ball in front of a crowd of people and running the bases -- well, that's a whole different ballgame.  Being the youngest on the team, a pep talk from his coach gives just the right boost.  

Click HERE to visit our collective site, Who We Become, and see more FRESH images from this week.

Pep Talk

Elevated Dreams

These last weeks of winter, shooting for myself has mostly been about capturing our travels on the subway. Sometimes I'm inspired by the bright morning light that comes through the doors as they open, or the way it hits the floor just before the turnstiles at certain stations. But in this case it was my son looking out the window of the 1 train while it was elevated near 125th street. I look forward to that stop because there are always fantastic shadows, leading lines and cityscapes to capture; but the moment is brief and you've got to be quick with the shutter before the train goes back underground. 

Elevated Dreams