Monday, July 30, 2012

Half a year

Dear Lily,

Over the weekend we gave you your first bite of solid food: freshly steamed and pureed carrots. Carrots that your sister and I picked out from the farmer’s market. You eyed those orange babies while I peeled them. You drooled while you sat on my hip watching while I whirled them in the food processor. You smacked your lips while I spooned them into a bowl. We sat down to eat dinner, baby spoon in hand. Ready to feed you your first bite. Instead, you yanked the spoon from my fingers and jammed it in your mouth on your own.

That, my love, basically sums up your first six months of life: Independence. When I carry you in the Ergo, you squirm and contort your body so that you can face outward. You love to be outside, watching the world go by. Sitting among the other children, watching them play.

photo (7)

I have loved watching your personality develop over these last few months. Driven by this independent spirit, your father and I now fear for your teenage days. Most people, grandparents, aunties, friends and strangers alike, exclaim at what a happy and personable baby you are, constantly smiling, laughing and gurgling. This is all true, but darling, they are not around when your wrath is unleashed. You can scream and cry and carry on with the best of them, complete with huge dramatic sighs, shudders and crocodile-sized tears. My parents tell stories that I was the best door slammer to walk the earth. I suspect you may take over my title.


While you are only six month old, you are roughly 18 pounds, and nearly 28 inches long. Your giant baby genes astound much of the population. Most people are amazed when I claim you are a wee six months old. In fact, last week a young lady told me to “shut the front door” when I said that you were not quite six months yet. So, I did. But, these thunder thighs come in handy when you play in your jumper. You can get some solid air bouncing, belly-laughing and having so much fun. You like to listen to the music, spin the ducks, but what you really like is to jump. The higher, the faster, the better.

photo (9)

As your first half year of life comes to a close, I have been spending a lot of time thinking about how to tell you just how loved and adored you are. I cannot think of just the right words, though, and then last week while we laid in the grass soaking up some vitamin D, the words flew off the page of Wherever You Are by Nancy Tillman. They sum up perfectly just how I feel:

I wanted you more than you will ever know, so I sent love to follow wherever you go. In the green of the grass. In the smell of the sea. In the clouds floating by. At the top of a tree. In the sound crickets make at the end of the day. You are loved. You are loved. You are loved. They all say.”

Little bumblebee, you are so loved, loved more than all the stars in the sky and the waters in the ocean.



Monday, July 23, 2012

Love stinks

The other day I met one of my closest friends in Berkeley; we met for a girl’s night out: dinner and drinks and pedicures. We had a blast talking about our girls, swapping stories, and general catching up. I treated myself to a pair of cute dragonfly earrings when I went into a shop to make change. I picked out a bright, teal-colored toenail polish. I listened to Bob Dylan and Tom Petty on my 40-minute drive. I loved the few hours break from nursing and potty-training, trading it for drinking beer, laughing, a foot massage, and… the smell of Indian food. 

I stood waiting a few minutes standing in front of the restaurant, with the aromatic smell of garlic and burnt oil mixing in the air, and something about it stirred in me a longing for the times that Andy and I went out for Indian food. The buttery naan, the faint fragrance of coconut married with coriander. The memory dropped on me like a ton of bricks: the night in London, after one too many beers, laughing way too hard, and tracking down the best place for Chicken Tikka Masala in all of Britain. I could almost see the street; almost remember the conversation, the view hazy from the years of separation.

Smell is such a powerful sense. Sometimes I’ll be running in the early morning and I’ll catch the faint scent of dirt and the hot air and suddenly I’m 18 again, running along the American River Trail, chatting with my teammates. Coppertone sunscreen equals days on end at Lake Mead. The aroma of freshly cut grass reminds me of my Dad, working in the yard every Saturday morning. Freshly baked bread will forever remind me of my mother. And, now the smell of curry mingled with paprika reminds me of Andy. 

Ahh, love really does stink.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

A generally boring life update

Internet, it’s been a month since my last post. I want to tell you that I’ve been busy reading War & Peace and curing cancer or at least tell you that I finally found the perfect shade of lip gloss. Instead I’ve been voraciously devouring The Hunger Games, editing soon-to-be-high school senior’s college application essays, and organizing my photos from 2011. Last week, the girls and I were visiting my parents so of course, I also spent copious amounts of time with a wine glass in hand sitting on the front porch. Instead of boring you with all the details, I thought I’d give a general update on the going-ons in the Chez Stars household:

Jumping! Jumping! Jumping! Daisy finally knows how to jump! Let me tell you about this!

At Daisy’s two year appointment, the pediatrician asked me if Daisy knew how to jump. “Jump, I asked?” Yes, she replied, and then I got up and jumped. Yes, you just read that correctly, I demonstrated jumping for the doctor. I never realized that was a developmental milestone. In the subsequent months I have been bunny hopping around our backyard, the park, the sidewalk, so often that my quads practically scream just thinking about it. We practiced being frogs, rabbits and Tigger. We hopped through Trader Joe’s. And finally a few weeks ago, Daisy really put together how to jump. Like, with both feet leaving the ground. Simultaneously. And, hovering above ground for a fraction of a second. And then coming back down at the same time. ISH. And she says “JUMP” Every. Single. Time. I love it. So, now, of course, her favorite mode getting from point A to point B is to jump.


French! French! Let me tell you about the miniscule progress I am making in learning and teaching French!

I have always loved French: the language, the culture, the history. I studied it (read: loosely, very loosely) in high school. A little bit more in college, and then completely abandoned it until I was pregnant with Daisy. Part of it was because I had to complete so many hours of foreign language learning for my master’s degree. Part of it was my newfound interest in linguistics and language acquisition. Part of it was a rekindling of my passion for all things French. But, I started slowly incorporating the French language around our household. It was hard, I had trouble remembering the words and tunes to nursery rhymes I’d never heard before. My reading was very slow, my vocabulary very limited, and my accent dreadful. Honestly, when I speak French I feel like a Texan with a swollen tongue. I worried that I was pursuing this all in vain. That Daisy (and now Lily) thought I was crazy, speaking jibberish to them. But, I still spent early mornings studying French grammar and naptimes watching French cartoons and car-trips listening to French songs and stories. And finally, a year into this journey, Daisy is finally using French words that we read in books, singing French songs, and correcting my pronunciation. Yes, my nearly two and half year old daughter corrects my pronunciation in French. I have never been so proud.

I am becoming more of a hippy. Let me tell you how my republican background is cringing at the thought!

I cloth diaper, I nurse my babies, and I shop farmer’s markets. I make all my own baby food. I use bio-degradable dish soap and stainless steel sippy cups. I loathe Wal-Mart and love Etsy. But, lately my hippie characteristics are becoming more evident. We have recently cancelled cable and are now are officially a television-free household. I have been purging our plastic, electronic toys in favor of wood blocks, puppets and natural paints. And, last weekend I nursed Lily in the Ergo waiting in line for The Jungle Cruise at Disneyland. My transition started out innocently enough, I was wearing Lily at our local (completely empty) park and there wasn’t a dry place to sit and Daisy didn't want to stop and I didn’t bring my cover. So, I loosened the straps, lowered my tank, and snapped on the hood. And then, a few weeks later we were walking around Fisherman’s Wharf, heading back to our car parked blocks away rushing in order beat the traffic coming home. And then, on last Saturday I nursed my girl among throngs of people, my mom, my dad, and had not a care in the world. At least I haven’t started wearing tie-dye yet.

Oh shoot, I’m already there:


And today we're playing with cloud dough, reading stories, and building block castles. Sometimes boring is good.