Wednesday, September 03, 2014

A letter to my monkey girl

To live. To live would be an awfully big adventure.
Dear Daisy,

Nearly three weeks ago, Robin Williams, an iconic comedian and prolific actor, took his own life. For some reason, his death resonated with me. Maybe it’s because I’m still hormonal and sensitive after the birth of your baby sister, or perhaps it is because I remember falling in love with Walt Whitman’s poetry after watching his rendition of John Keating in Dead Poets Society. Or maybe it’s just because it reminded me of a simple lesson. We never know what battles others are fighting, so we must be kind to everyone we met. 

I’ve been thinking lately of my reasons for writing to you and your sisters: what is my purpose, what do I hope you take away from my messages. Sure, I want a place to record your stats and achievements, our family adventures (since I have failed miserably with all three of your baby books. Well, to be honest, I’m not even going to attempt one for Violet), but also to pass on nuggets of wisdom that you three have taught me.

One of these lessons is your ability to find beauty in the world around you. You look for more than just aesthetic beauty, but beauty from inside. You love smelling the wildflowers on our daily walks because their smell is beautiful. You love to say your baby sister’s name because you believe it to sound beautiful. You want to be an astronaut and astronomer because the earth must be so beautiful from space, and the stars shine so brilliantly. You love for me to read from our book of poems because you think the prose is so beautiful.
In Dead Poets Society Williams plays a teacher at an all-boys prep school, in one scene he tells his students “But poetry, beauty, romance and love; these are what we stay alive for.”  You, my petite chou, look for the beauty, you look for the love, you find joy, and you remind me to savor and enjoy the beauty in my everyday world.

At four and a half years old, your imagination has taken off, reaching new levels. You love to pretend our backyard is the moon, exploring the valleys and crevices on your lunar rover (i.e.: your old tricycle) while wearing your gravity boots (i.e.: your rain boots). You, your sisters (well, technically Lily. Violet’s just along for the ride in Daddy’s arms) and father play pirates. You have your “secret” hideout and search for treasures, coming up with elaborate play scenes. Sometimes I peek out at you four from the kitchen sink and I think that these moments are the reason I became a parent.
While you do look for beauty, you are also oh so very cautious and organized. These are traits that I see in myself, that I work so very hard at overcoming. For example, you are terrified of riding your bike (with training wheels) and worry constantly about going too fast. You have a hard time dealing with spontaneity, worry about the rules and being messy. While there is something to be said about approaching life in an orderly fashion, assessing risk before each new move; we need to learn to sometimes just jump: Without thinking. We need to feel more, and think less. “You’re only given one little spark of madness,” Robin Williams once said. “You mustn’t lose it.” This is the spark of impulse, insight, enthusiasm and inspiration that is essential in life. This is what makes life messy. This is what inspires us to take risks. And then I think about how messy life can be, I think about how your future glimmers with possibility.

One of William’s most famous lines is when he jumps onto a classroom desk in Dead Poets Society and tells his students “Carpe, carpe. Carpe diem. Seize the day. Make your lives extraordinary.” And this, my love, is perhaps the most poignant reminder to make the most of our days. Go and lead an extraordinary, beautiful and messy life.
I love you more than all the stars in the sky and the water in the oceans.



Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Letter to my Hazelnut

Dear Violet, 

Two weeks ago, you joined our family in a whirlwind. One minute I was reading in bed at home, trying to maintain a positive attitude in dealing with prodromal labor five days post-due date, and the next minute (or six hours later, whatever), you were laying on my chest, skin-to-skin, and I was falling irrevocably in love. 

I’ll be honest, my love, our first 24 hours were a bit rough around the edges. Perhaps it was me, finding my ground as a new mother all over again, or perhaps it was you, not exactly ready for the chaos of life, the florescent lights of the hospital, and the insane hosptial roommates we had, but they included plenty of tears and plenty of screaming. However, in the past two weeks you have essentially just slipped into our family like you have always been here. You sleep in four to six hour stretches at night. You take several solid naps throughout the day. You hardly ever fuss, you are a nursing champ, and seem to have a knack for tummy time.

At two weeks of age, you are already way too cute for your own good. I love how perfectly pouty your lips get when your diaper isn't changed fast enough, the brightness of your blue-gray eyes, the suckling noises you make when your nursing, and the sweet baby rolls. Speaking of baby rolls, at eighteen days you are 9 pounds, 9 ounces, 21 inches in length and 100% perfect. 
One day when you are older and you have a chance to read this, I want you to know that you have been a magnificent surprise. Your father, your sisters and I are all absolutely head over heels for you. We love (particularly Daisy) gazing into your eyes and smothering you with kisses (Lily is the kissing queen!). We love marveling at how tiny your fingers are and how your left ear folds over at the top, and we love seeing that milk-drunk grin. 
We love you more than all the stars in the sky and the water in the oceans.



Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Letter to my firecracker: 2.5 years

Darling Lily, 

If I had to sum up these last six months in a single sentence, I would have to tell you how immensely proud of you I am. It seems like seemingly overnight you went from my baby to this amazingly independent, opinionated little girl. 

I sometimes feel that your toddlerhood is slipping through my fingers, but then we cuddle up on our rocking chair with a stack of books by our side and your little white lovey clutched against your chest. I soak of these moments with you, memorizing every inch of you, trying hard to hold on to your babbling sounds and sweet, sloppy kisses. 

The last six months have brought so many wonderful changes for our family, with more still to come in the coming week while we wait for your baby sister to make her (late!) appearance. Your maternal grandmother has been staying with us for the past two weeks while we anxiously await for our newest family member and you love every minute that you get to spend with her. Watching you and Daisy develop a relationship with your grandparents has meant the world to me. While I am uncomfortable and moody and so over being pregnant, I am thankful that you get this special time with Grandma and I just know that it is the beginning of something extraordinary. 
 Your outfit of choice when picking Grandma up from the airport. 

Today you are officially 30 months, and I can barely believe it. In the past six months you have learned how to use the potty (personally, I think I am more excited about this than you are!) and your language has completely exploded. This particular phenomenon happened in the past three weeks - every day you astound me with another half-dozen new words. You still of course have your made up language, and you have the rest of your family using this language. For example, you call yourself Na, and these days we refer to you as Na. Also, every night your father asks you if you want “Da Da Hi do doot and Bubba Hi do doot” which clearly means “Would you like me to turn on Mickey and Lullaby music on the iPod? But, finally you can name all the colors, call your grandparents by name, and label desserts including your new favorite, “Cookie!,” spoken like cookie monster with your hand outstretched waiting for your treat. Additionally, you have also started sleeping in a toddler bed, however, you actually prefer to sleep on the floor and your love-affair with all things Minnie Mouse (or Mamma HI as you prefer to call her) has reached new obsession levels. 

You, my love, are such a firecracker - always pulling some sort of antic and running around like a wild animal. You constantly make me laugh. You are an artist. You will spend hours coloring in all sorts of coloring books or drawing on blank sheets of paper with whatever writing utensil you have. The magna-doodle is a must have anytime we are in the car. You love to sing like Ariel from The Little Mermaid and it’s the CUTEST THING EVER. And let’s not forget your love of dancing - anytime we hear music you MUST stop what you are doing and start dancing, even if it means we are in the aisle ways of Trader Joe’s. 
You are silly and clever and wonderful and I love you more than all the stars in the sky and the water in the ocean. 



Thursday, July 10, 2014

Baby Talk: Part Trois

Dear Baby Girl, 

You and I will only share my body for less than three weeks. Half the time, I think “Wow! Time flies!” And I think how much I’ll miss feeling your kicks and flutters.

However, more often then not, I reflect upon this and think: “My back hurts. My hands and feet are swollen. I’m hot. I just want to go on a long sweaty run and be sore from a hard Pilates class and not feel breathless after walking up a flight of stairs. I'm never comfortable, I hate having dealt with an on-again-off-again battle with insomnia for the past nine months. Oh, and I am constantly cranky.” Then I think: Please please please please do not stay in there for three more weeks. 

What can I say? Pregnancy makes me temperamental.  
I can say though, there there have been some really fun things going on around here lately in preparation for you. 

First of all, we moved into a new house. Our very own forever home, complete with a lovely backyard and an entire room dedicated to laundry. While your arrival wasn’t the sole reason for our purchase, you definitely helped speed the process up. Your father has been tirelessly painting your room a beautiful lavender and pale pink color, installing closet shelves and sliding baskets, and putting together your crib. We’ve been finishing the unpacking, tidying the house and (my favorite) organizing. I’ve washed your diapers, set them in your dresser and am currently sorting and washing the mounds of pink baby clothes ready for you to wear. (I hope you like pink kid, we have a lot of it around here), and filling your bookcase with board books, receiving blankets and handmade burb rags. In an ideal world, I will have a chance to prepare food for the first couple of postpartum weeks so that my time can be spent recovering and snuggling and loving on you and your big sisters. Basically, we are trying to make as much headway as possible before your arrival. Nothing makes your momma feel more prepared for a baby than a clean and organized home, a full fridge and no loose ends to worry about. Or at least as few loose ends as possible to worry about. 

Second, we bought a new car, a minivan to be exact. Now, not only do we now have a safe, reliable form of transportation, but we have room for all three car seats. And as a bonus, we can listen to music from my phone instead of our old scratched CD’s. Plus, the doors automatically open. You might not think it’s so cool right away, but trust me; it is. 

Lastly, besides your father consantly giving you SF Giant updates, your sisters have started reading and talking to you. Your oldest sister, Daisy, has decided to call you Elsa. This is a much improved name after her earlier insistence of naming you Thomas George. (Don't worry, while your father and I  haven't agreed decided upon a name for you, neither of these are in the running.) Daisy has also started narrating our day to you - plus, she is very patient to explain the rules of pretend. She explains the roles, she is Momma and Lily, your middle sister, always plays Daddy. While you, sweet little babe, will get to play the dog. Speaking of Lily, she loves to cover my stomach in kisses and hugs and babbles directly to my belly button. You constantly squirm in response and Lily laughs every time she feels your kicks. I cannot wait to see the shenanigans you three sisters will come up with in a few years.  

In pregnancy news, you are growing perfectly. You are positioned well and have been slowly dropping over the past week. Your sisters and I love listening to your heartbeat each week. They think it sounds like a unicorn. (And I'll be honest, I think they also really like the animal crackers doled out at the start of the appointment and the princess stickers given at the end.)  I am craving hamburgers, sweet corn on the cob, ice water (well, mostly just ice) and big leafy salads. I have always preferred salads to heavy meals, but this pregnancy with a summer due date has been a completely new ball game. Lets just say I eat ice chips like nobody’s business. In fact, my favorite way to end the day is to sit down with a giant mason jar full of partially melted ice. Heaven on earth I tell you. 

I look forward to meeting you, my littlest Rossini. I can’t wait to hold you and snuggle you and memorize your every feature. In the meantime, please do not rush to grow too quickly. There are only three more week of this time together alone. Let’s savor them: you and me. 


Thursday, July 03, 2014

Summer Days

We've been filling our summer with unpacking, organizing, purging and nesting. It feels productive. We've been filling our summer checking off to-do lists It feels rewarding. We've been filling our summer planting herbs and pulling weeds; our hands buried in dirt. It feels gratifying. We've been filling our summer with cold popsicles and fresh fruit. It feels delicious.
We've been filling our summer with adventure days: exploring local museums and new parks and u-pick orchards. It feels satisfying. We've been filling our summer with swimming lessons and lazy afternoon with friends by the pool. It feels happy. We've been filling our summer with bubbles and bug hunts and chalk drawings scribbled across the back patio and hours spent squishing homemade playdough. It feels relaxing.
We've been filling our summer with library trips, nursery rhymes and lots of poetry. We spent long mornings laying in bed reading book after book after book until our tummies rumble. It feels lazy. We've been filling our summer with friends: talking, laughing and playing together. It feels fun. We've been filling our summer with paint: colors swirling and brushes splotching. Messy hands and masterpieces hanging on the entry way walls. It feels just about perfect.

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Scenes from lately

We went on a family Caribbean cruise with my parents and brother. We basically sat in the Houston port for five of the seven days. However, the girls LOVED the daily after nap ice cream snack, unlimited supply of french rolls at dinner and evening dancing. So, they really didn't care if we left Houston or not.
I can never get enough of my babies loving on each other. 
An Easter egg hunt at the local park with friends. (Photo Credit: My awesomely talented photographer neighbor/friend and mother of the two other darling children!) 
Nothing says "Happy Easter, He is risen indeed" like silly faces. 
Hand-me-down-dresses. Simply the best. 
We bought a house! While we are all very excited to finally be in our own permanent space with an actual backyard and a room entirely dedicated to laundry (well, I think I'm the only one excited about the latter), we are a tad overwhelmed at the packing.  The girls, however, are decorating the boxes with markers and storing all sorts of treasures in each box. I'm not exactly sure what we'll find when we open them up on the other side. 
 J and his baby girls. Oh my heart!
 After waking up to some disappointing news on Saturday morning, and then looking around at all the packing still left to do, we decided on an impromptu day trip to Point Reyes where we stuffed ourselves silly with pastries from Bovine Bakery and hiked ridicously slow and enjoyed a picnic lunch among California Poppies. Basically it was the perfect day.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Once Upon a Time

Tuesday marked our nine year anniversary and this image is from our honeymoon in Costa Rica. I don't remember much about where we were in Costa Rica, or what we had been doing that particular day, or even what meal we had (except that it was probably delicious as 99% of all our meals were!) But, I remember thinking, at that moment, I could not be more insanely happier that I was in that moment with J.

Now, nine years later, as I sit across the dinner table with two crazy (and messy!) daughters sitting beside us I look at the life we created together, and I realized that I could not be more insanely happier than I am in that moment.
The best part is that I know it will just keep getting better. Here's to another 99 years!