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!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Better Late than Never: A Letter to my Princess Monkey

Dear Daisy, 

The other afternoon I went to get started cleaning up and prepping for dinner while you and your sister played dress up in the family room. You acted out the story from Tangled and then added a few of your quirky twists, and soon the two of you were giggling and laughing and having so much fun. 

One day we will live under different roofs. One day life will take you both away from here, expose you to fantastic new ideas, tug you in exciting new directions and these days will be distant memories. So while I soak up these moments, I find myself hoping that they are enough to build you a strong foundation of love, respect and sisterhood between the two of you. May you always delight in one anothers company. May you always appreciate making each other laugh. 

May you always be the very best of friends.
Besides spending half our day engaged in imaginative play, your literacy development has really started to take off. Most notably your recognition of words and vowels and a sight words. You love to trace and sound out letters, but your favorite is to play rhyming games. I love watching you learn. I love fostering your passion for language. A few months ago we picked up the Draw Write Now book and you ended up spending almost two hours look at the instructions and trying to mimic the illustrations. 

While your language and physical development is crucial, I find your kindness and ability to love even more amazing. Mother Teresa once said, “We can do no great things, only small things with great love.” And to me, this quote perfectly describes you. You constantly want to help those who need helping, and do so with a smile on your face and a light from your heart. You love to teach and encourage your sister. You two sit at the breakfast table while you quiz her on colors; when she gets them wrong you gently explain why. When she gets them right, you praise and cheer her on. And this encouragement extends beyond your family and friends, but to those around you. Last week while at the playground a little girl had fallen and scraped her knee and was crying. You stopped playing, walked over and and put your arm around her shoulders and asked if you could help. You have such an ability for compassion and innate skill for making others feel connected and cared for. It astonishes me each and every day. 

When you are struggling with something - anything from fighting with your sister to asking for a big brother - you have started praying. And sweetheart, I cannot tell you how proud this makes me. I love watching you develop a relationship with Jesus and learning to trust him first with your prayers. For me, this is something I work on every day and I hope, nay pray, that you continue to walk in faith. A few months ago, you asked me what the meaning of grace was, we talked about the two different meanings, both secular and related to theology. You have been obsessed with understanding God’s grace, and honey, after nearly 34 years I can barely comprehend it myself. 

I know that we tell you this ALL. THE. TIME., but your father and I love you, darling girl. We love you with a thousand beating hearts and you are such a light in our world. We love watching you grow, we love watching your spread your wings, and we love watching you fly.