Monday, August 29, 2011

The 18-month love letter

Dear Daisy,

18 mo5

On Sunday you turned eighteen months old. At your 18-month doctor’s appointment you measured 32”, but are still a tiny 21 pounds. This puts you in the solidly in the 60th percentile for height, and the 10th percentile for weight. The past six months have been a whirlwind of activity: cross-country airplane rides, weddings, the stomach bug, summer colds, morning sickness, summer school, Momma/Daughter Adventure days, and the list just keeps on going. I feel almost a little silly saying that because I’m pretty certain that it is common knowledge that the word BUSY is actually the definition of TODDLER, and you my sweet little monkey have taken it all in stride. In fact, you are an extremely mellow toddler. You follow directions, you listen to my commands, you never stray too far from my sight, and my favorite of all, you still take a solid 2 ½ to 3 hour nap – Every. Single. Day.

18 mo2

When I started to reflect back on all that has happened in your life in the past six months, I realized there is simply not enough space in my little corner of the blogosphere to write it all down. And because I am a veritable prodigy in the field of list-making, I thought a list of eighteen things I love about you might be appropriate to celebrate this toddler milestone:

1. You constantly teach me how to find the beauty in the ordinary. One of the greatest gifts you have given me is to remind me to slow down and enjoy life’s simple treasures – whether a pebble from our morning walk or the taste of a perfectly ripe strawberry from the Farmer’s Market.

2. When you are eating a food that you are particularly enjoying or especially love, you do this little wiggle and squirm as soon as the flavor hits your mouth and let out a giant “MMMMMM…”

3. You have the most incredible belly laugh. I spend my entire day figuring out the many ways I can get you to laugh out loud.

4. You adore the sunshine. Being outside in the sun and fresh air always brightens your mood.

5. Oh, how you love your father. It warms may heart to see you hugging him, chasing him around the yard, giving him kisses or saying “HI!” to him when he steps through the door after a long day at work.

6. Sometimes when I ask for hugs, you will run at me from wherever you are and squeeze me tight and not let go for several minutes before patting me on the back. Sometimes you just shake your head and say “NO”, and that’s okay too because it’s always with a smile. And sometimes, you just run at me unprompted to cuddle, hug, and kiss. It is the very best part of my day.

7. You swim like a fish in the bathtub.

8. You have completely changed the way that your father and I view the world. You inspire us to be better, challenge us to be stronger, and remind us to fall more in love every day.

9. Your favorite color is red. However, you love all bright colors, slides, Fancy Nancy, puzzles, jewelry, swings and above all…swimming. There is something unspeakably brilliant about watching your personality grow.

10. You absolutely LOVE the beach and the ocean. You laugh and squeal and wriggle with delight at the crashing of the waves, running fearlessly right towards them causing me heart palpitations.

11. Every week you learn a few new words: “”Uh-oh,” “Thank you” and “Hot” being your current favorites. Mom and Dad’s favorite: “WOW”

12. There are no words to adequately describe your love of music. Children’s music, Bearnaked Ladies, The Beatles or P!nk – you love it all. And, listening to music with you, turning on the tunes on our walks, or having a boogie-fest in the living room, is quickly becoming one of my very favorite parts of every day.

13. You are growing into a very independent little girl. You feed yourself at nearly every meal, and although you make a beautiful mess, it’s nothing compared with some of the masterpiece of the past.

14. Playing ball in the afternoon is one of your favorite things to do.

15. You love to wave hello and say “HI” and “BYE-BYE” and lean in for a kiss when people leave. Even the sweet nurse who gave you your 18-month vaccinations.

16. When you roll a truck on the ground you say “vroom-vroom” really fast. When you play with your little musical table, you always turn it to the Spanish ABC’s.

17. You say “Good girl, Momma” after I give you your milk in the morning. Like you are so proud of all that I accomplished.

18. Upon lifting you from your crib each morning, you insist I give your stuffed elephant a kiss and a hug and a kiss for your green blanket before you climb into my arms for a morning snuggle.

18 mo3

I cannot imagine life without you. I cannot imagine missing our morning story time. I cannot imagine taking our walks without conducting a thorough examination of every sprinkler head in the greater Los Angeles area. I cannot imagine going a single day without you turning to me, arms outstretched, lips pursed, to give me big hugs and kisses. Above all, I cannot imagine going through life the way I once did, without you there to brighten the days. I love you more than the moon, the sun, and all the water in the oceans.

Happy eighteen months my love.

Love, Momma.

Friday, August 12, 2011

A quiet day

Today is a much-needed quiet and lazy day in the Chez Stars home. Every since my summer break started we’ve been running around with errands, and appointments, cleaning, and lots of play dates. Breakfast today was Greek yogurt mixed with peaches, fresh from the farmers market and homemade oatmeal bread slathered with leftover raspberry honey butter. After a bit of futzing around the house, watering the plants, folding a light load of laundry, wiping down the kitchen counters, starting the bread machine, I took Daisy and Casey on a long walk through the neighborhood while we listened to our mix of Italian kids music coupled with a bit Butterfly Fish Band and Justin Roberts. We ended at the nearby park where the girls spent time running around while we munched on our morning snack of pineapple spears. At the park, Daisy pushed her stroller while Casey’s engaged in a serious squirrel hunt. Tired and worn and the sun starting to break through the haze, we headed home, and while we drank ice water we played with puzzles and looked at a few books.


Lunch today was leftover soup: creamy roasted chicken noodle soup which was painstakingly made yesterday afternoon after the pediatrician said that Daisy’s immune system is run-down. After we got cleaned up, we read a couple of stories before naptime. Daisy picked Blueberries for Sal and three readings of How to Throw a Pig a Party. Now, it’s naptime! NAPTIME IS MY FAVORITE. (I love naptime). (Naptime is amazing). I might try to finish my book with a cup of tea, or maybe try my hand at making blueberry hand pies with the crate of blueberries sitting in my fridge. Really, the choices are endless, but whatever I do, it will be quiet and relaxing. When Daisy wakes, we’ll head outside to play catch and chase with the ball. We’ll bring out a few books, probably about the ocean. Lately, Daisy has been on a kick about anything involving the oceans and sea life. We’ll read shaded by the palm tree and eat our afternoon snack of Trader Joe’s Honey Gouda cheese, snap peas and cherry tomatoes.

When the afternoon heat gets to be too much we’ll come inside and build tall towers with the wooden blocks, probably have a make-believe tea party, and will burn off some late afternoon energy with a dance party in our office. Then, I’ll slip her into the sling and she’ll “help” me make the tomato sauce for dinner tonight. While we work we’ll drink water with orange slices.

Dinner tonight is homemade pepperoni pizza with tomato sauce made from the tomatoes and basil in our small garden, nitrate-free pepperoni and buffalo mozzarella balls. We have a sweet-smelling cantaloupe we’ll eat on the side. Daisy will probably have bits of pizza along with some yogurt and a few bites of applesauce, and melon. After dinner, she’ll wave “bye-bye” to me while she and her Daddy go and splash in the tub, singing silly songs in funny voices or telling made-up stores about her bath time friends. Then she’ll crawl into her father’s lap, nice and clean, and read a few more books before reaching for her crib, clutching her blanket; ready to fall asleep dreaming beautiful dreams.

Tomorrow, we’ll do something more exciting and more productive: laundry, errands, a 14-mile walk, syllabus planning. But, today, it’s just me and my girl – no play dates, no classes, no driving – walking and lounging and having fun: Together.

Friday, August 05, 2011

Scenes of Summer


pool parties. bernstein bear books. cherry tomatoes. finger paint. sunscreen. shaded parks. zucchini. summer squash. eggplant. early morning long walks. the beach. waves. Minnesota. lesson planning. heirloom tomato caprese sandwiches. a birthday. grading papers. oven baked ratatouille. Monterey. pilates. fresh basil. afternoon naps. Giant’s baseball. air-conditioning. warm sand. dance parties. Saturday morning marathon training workouts. cabin camping. running through sprinklers. ice cubes. line dried laundry. fancy nancy books. bridal showers. grilled pizza. homegrown produce. sunglasses. orange julius. water slides. picnics. hot pavement. Italian ice. sundresses. old friends and new babies. The Golden Gate Bridge. flip-flops. sloppy kisses. smiles. San Diego. road trips. cheese burgers. cherries. ballet classes. strawberries. swimming. corn on the cob. bachelorette parties. family visits. white peaches.   



Just a snapshot of my favorite season.