Saturday, May 20, 2017

Suddenly One-derful

Asha Likes: Playing silly games (pretending to sleep, being chased, throwing balls, putting everything on her head), taking baths, being outside, her dinosaur bike and her walker, all loud and beepy toys, dancing to music, digging through my bag, HER DADDY, and bread.

Asha Dislikes:  Getting her diaper or clothes changed, getting out of the bath, too much "hands on" love from her sister, and strangers.

Soon after Asha clocked 9 months, I left town for a 4-day work trip.  I pumped diligently in airplanes and public restrooms, but still my supply suffered.  We probably could have bounced back from it, but right afterward, Asha came down with a cold and fought nursing for almost a week.  My supply was not going to recover, and rather than stress out about it, I accepted reality and took the opportunity to stop pumping at work.  I wanted to keep nursing 2-3x a day for as long as possible, but Asha always was a very distracted and unenthusiastic nurser, and to make a point she started biting me. I realized I was starting to dread nursing, tensing up and cringing with every latch, anticipating a bite. It was no longer a pleasant experience for either of us, so on April 3 I made the difficult but ultimately right decision to nurse Asha for the last time. I had enough frozen breastmilk to give her some every day until her first birthday, which means I technically made my goal of nursing for a year. Now she mostly drinks cow's milk with a little toddler formula to supplement.

At 10 months, Asha finally started crawling on her knees and mastered it immediately; she is SO fast now. Around the same time, she suddenly started sleeping through the night (not-so-coincidentally, this lined up with me ceasing to pump at work and starting to give her formula during the day).  We immediately moved her crib into the bedroom with her sister, and suddenly, we have our grownup bedroom back.  They've done really well sharing a room, and Amaliya loves having someone else in there with her. Sleep has been great since then, which is an incredible relief but also sad, in a way. The long nights with a baby are hard, but they're also some of the best nights of my life, spent in peaceful silence with a little one curled into my body.  I'll miss it.  Also note that "great" sleep means that Asha is in bed around 7 or 7:30 and falls asleep before 8, but is still awake at 6am most of the time.  Her day napping has always been sporadic, but I think she's finally down to one 2-3 hour nap per day now.  So different from her sister, who was sleeping 15-16 hours a day until she got closer to 18 months.

My sweet baby Ash is growing into her own person, with such a special and unique personality. If I had to sum her up in 3 words, they would be: curious, silly, loving. (In case you're wondering, Amaliya in 3 words: careful, analytical, sassy). She loves music, especially blowing whistles and hearing daddy play, and does a little booty dance with one hand in the air whenever she hears a song. She's really into toys, the squeakier and beepier the better, and she laughs her face off when chasing a ball around (she's basically a puppy). She's the most loving baby, always wanting to snuggle, and will crawl across the room just to put her head in my lap and recharge for a moment before she's off to destroy the next thing.  She's not talking yet but her babble is nuanced and conversational, and she enjoys imitating her sister's screams and shrieks.

It's been the fastest, most blissful year since Asha came into our lives. Happy Birthday, lovely girl.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Asha Moremi - 7, 8, 9 months

The day began at 5am, with Asha shouting at me from her crib on the other side of the room. I wasn't thrilled about the hour, but her happy sounds and smiling face are always nice to wake up to.  We headed downstairs where I tried to clean while she played on the floor (a short-lived attempt - after gagging herself on a toy kitchen knife and trying to climb into the dishwasher, she gave up and demanded to be held). After devouring a scrambled egg, half an avocado, some cereal, nursing, and being violently hugged by her sister, I thought for sure she would be ready for a nap. I put her upstairs, where she spends 20 minutes doing "laps" in her crib - crawling to one end, turning, crawling to the other end, repeat.  No nap for Asha.

She was a ball of energy all day - scurrying all over the house, pulling up on anything she could reach, sometimes following me from room to room and sometimes flying in the opposite direction, making me chase her. We made up a new game, which involves me holding her upside down by her ankles and kissing her face (so many giggles). By the end of the day she was tired, wanting to snuggle, but still unwilling to put her head down or close her eyes for a second.  Always afraid she'll miss something. We gave her the name Asha because it means "full of life," and I'll pat myself on the back for a second, because we nailed it. Her energy and sunny nature can't but make you smile.

At 9 months, Asha loves crawling over to where I'm sitting on the floor, using my leg to pull herself to her knees, and then grabbing my two fingers to pull up to a stand.  She grins and laughs every single time, so proud of her accomplishment. She's spending more and more time on her knees, but will only shuffle a few inches before she flops back on her belly in order to get where she's going faster. Patience is not a virtue this daughter of mine possesses. We had to lower the crib, because she can pull up to stand now and is starting to cruise. She'll be walking before her first birthday, I know it, and I am SO not ready.

She loves her sister and wants to touch everything she touches, and I'm seeing the first sign of many MANY fights to come. But when Asha is exhausted, worn out after a long day of daycare, clingy and moody, her sister can still make her laugh when no one else can. Seeing their relationship blossom is a joy like no other.


Asha likes: Exploring the bathrooms, chewing on the remote controls, giving high-fives and kisses, shredding paper, playing Garage Band on my iPhone, trying to climb on things, giggling at her sister, singing, being thrown up in the air, and almost all food but especially avocados, sweet potatoes, and teething biscuits.

Asha dislikes: Being tired, nursing (hopefully its a phase, but maybe not?), being told "no," rice cereal, formula, having objects of interest taken away from her.

Sleeping: Right after she turned 8 months old, we did some sleep training with Asha.  It wasn't so much a "decision" as it was me, lying in bed at 1am, listening to a crying baby and thinking that I just... can't.  While I was trying to work up the will and energy to get out of bed, she wailed and wailed and... stopped, and went back to sleep.  I decided then to stop feeding her at night. Now, that hasn't gone exactly as planned.  At first I said that I wouldn't feed her before 5am, which quickly became 4am, and the other night I fed her at 11:30pm because I wasn't thinking clearly, so who knows?  Bottom line, she's still up 2-3 times a night, and usually gets up for the day between 4:30 and 5:30 which is killing me.  This too shall pass. (I wrote this a week ago - suddenly, she's sleeping in until past 6 again.  Hallelujah. 

Eating: If it's edible, Asha eats it (if it's NOT edible, Asha eats it, but that's another story). She eats a lot of purees because they're easier, but I'm trying to prep other stuff that she can eat during the week.  She likes small pieces of food and is shockingly neat when it comes to getting it into her mouth.  She shrieks like a banshee if she sees someone else eating in front of her, and will demand more food by banging her tray and yelling.  Her breakfast is usually a scrambled egg and half an avocado, lunch is some cheerios, a banana, and some random pre-prepped veggies, and dinner is whatever we're eating - veggies, meat, potatoes, pasta, etc. - mashed or chopped up small. After going through the maelstrom of toddler and preschooler food rebellions, it is SO NICE to have a child who eats what is put in front of her without complaint.

I wish I was better about writing these monthly updates on Asha. I have enjoyed her babyhood immensely, and if I haven't been writing it's because I'm taking extra time to snuggle her and smell her head (and chase her around to keep her from destroying things). 

Oh Asha.  It's been the shortest, sweetest 9 months of my life, since you came into the world.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Finally, already, 2017


The years go by faster and faster as you get older, don't you think? I feel like 2015 was a second ago; yet, it's also hard to believe I started the year pregnant, since I feel so far from that now. 

I began 2016 at 24 weeks pregnant with a 3.5 year old who was just coming out of the toddler crazies and blossoming into a somewhat reasonable (albeit unnecessarily mouthy) preschooler. The busy season at work was upon me, my husband was gone from 5:50am - 6:30pm every day, and I was exhausted.  Beyond exhausted.

And then everything changed in May.  We welcomed Asha into the world, and just a week later, my husband got an offer for a phenomenal new job (though still requiring 2 hours of driving every day). He took almost a month off of work. We vacationed briefly in San Diego with a 6-week-old baby. I spend a few months cycling between peace, elation, and depression thanks to wonderful postpartum hormones. We found a new daycare for the kids, I started back to work, and we settled into a new routine. The holidays came and went. Now 2017 is looming.

My themes for 2016 were confidence and grace, and I reflected on those words often. Confidence came easy - when you have so many plates spinning, so many decisions to make every day, who has room for self-doubt? Grace was harder, but there was not a day that didn't demand it. For me, grace was the ability to laugh when pregnancy rendered me unable to run, when my husband missed the birth of our daughter by 5 minutes, when the baby allowed me 2 hours of sleep the day before an important meeting.  It was the ability to let go of my own needs - for space, for solitude, for creativity - in order to meet the needs of my family first. I did not excel at grace this year, but I focused on the concept more than ever, and I do feel that I was able to smile more through the struggle and find joy in moments that would have otherwise been stressful.

I always love goals, and set a few for 2016:
  • To go into childbirth well prepared, physically and mentally. I was as prepared as I could be, considering that I had a very uncomfortable pregnancy. By the end, I struggled - up 60lbs, unable to sleep, prodromal labor starting 5 weeks before Asha was born, it all ate away at my sanity a bit.  But everything turned out fine, and I was as prepared as I needed to be.
  • Become certified in CPR.  Done!
  • Establish a fitness routine postpartum.  Not done, and I'm okay with it. Sporadic baby schedules, a husband who commutes, a demanding job, and spending more than 2 hours every day either nursing or pumping, all have made it difficult to be consistent.  Of course I could get up earlier, stay up later, try harder to carve out time on my lunch break... but I haven't wanted to.  I am unwilling to sacrifice any more of the little sleep I get, and honestly I just haven't had the passion for physical activity that I used to.  It will come back, I know it will.  In the meantime I really focused on my nutrition in the last half of 2016, and can say that I am eating better than I ever have in my life.

  • Take Amaliya on monthly (ideally semimonthly) dates.  She and I are very good about spending time together. She's my grocery-shopping companion, restaurant connoisseur, and a lover of clothing stores and coffee shops. I love that she's at an age where I can easily take her out-and-about with me, enjoying her energy and constant chatter the whole way.
  • Tell my husband that I love him every day.  Yeah.... no. I'm sure I started the year with the best of intentions, but ya'll, babies are hard on marriage.  I think as a woman, you go through so many very unique experiences - pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding - that the gap in understanding between spouses will necessarily widen. The physical strain of nourishing a baby, the long and lonely nights in the rocking chair, the fact that  your spouse gets into bed and then doesn't have to get OUT of bed for 8 hours, while you're up 1-4x every single night for months and months.... the immense and complicated sense of joy that you feel for doing these hard things, at war with the stress and frustration and desperate need for self-care.... all of it is so very hard to articulate, and must be very hard to appreciate from the outside looking in. Our marriage is the foundation of our family and I'm happy to still be in it, but no lie - it's been a challenging year.

6.  Learn one new thing.  Thanks to a complete overhaul of everything at work this last year, I did pick up some new software skills! I also learned quite a lot about myself, and that counts, I think.

2016 changed everything for us, and I'm still struggling to process it all. Knowing that our family is likely complete fills me with excitement and satisfaction along with a deep sadness that I'm not sure how to overcome. A better financial situation means finally being able to make concrete plans for our future, but the looming increase in responsibility and commitment is daunting.  2016 was a watershed year for me personally, I think. I've experienced earthquakes (epiphanies; revelations) that have rocked my foundation, and the dust still hasn't settled. What that means - where I'm going, what I want - remains to be seen. But I have never felt so strongly in possession of myself, so confident about my place in the world. So mortal, yet so purposeful. This year has changed me, possibly more than any other.

My themes for 2017 will be FORWARD and COMMUNITY. 

If there's one thing the past year has emphasized to me, it's the need to not put all your emotional eggs in one basket. The older I get, the more I lean on my friends and the exceptional community that surrounds me for support, encouragement, love, laughter, and security. I have made more of an effort this last year to carve out time for friendship, and am happier than I've ever been because of it. I want 2017 to be a year of community. That means making time to visit friends near and far, reaching out to connect with new friends, and giving back to the community we live in as well.  I grew up insulated and rather pessimistic about the world, and it's taken me until now to shake off that baggage and open myself up to all the wonders and energy and joy that others - strangers and friends alike - can bring to my life. I want to model an open, generous, connected way of being for my daughters, so that they will grow up knowing that we are never alone, that they only get what they give, and that our strength lies in togetherness.

"Forward" comes from really feeling, for the first time, how quickly life moves on whether or not I'm ready for it. My kids will grow, my body will change, my family will get older... all of that is out of my control. What is under my control is how I respond. Do I let myself be dragged, kicking and screaming, by the inevitable passing of time? Or do I embrace it, and move confidently forward on the path of my choosing? I'm choosing forward motion this year.  Embracing each new phase as it comes and pushing forward to the next, proactively, striving to be the best version of myself that I can be. Forward means asking for what I want. Forward means seeking new experiences. Forward means saying yes when no would be easier. Forward means letting go of the past and keeping my eyes trained on the future.

Goals for 2017:

  •  A monthly outing with friends. Breakfast, lunch, dinner or drinks; your place or mine; kids or no kids. I am going to spend as much time as possible with the ones outside my family who keep my cup full, which of course will enable me to give more of my best self to my husband and kids.
  • Throw two kick-ass birthday parties.  We have two milestones coming up this year - Asha will be 1, and Amaliya will be 5. I usually keep parties cheap and easy, but this year I'd really like to live it up and celebrate with both kids and our friends. 
  • Volunteer.  At least once, but I'd like to find an ongoing opportunity. Ideally with my family. Suggestions are welcome!

  • Smile through the transitions. Asha will be entering toddlerhood (NOT my favorite stage, to say the least) and Amaliya will be heading to Kindergarten in August.  I have no idea what will happen to us personally and professionally before the end of the year. Even outside of our family, the world is in transition - administrations are changing, values are shifting and colliding, emotions are running high. Change is inevitable, but never easy.  This year I endeavor to find ways to make the most of every change we go through and to maintain my balance and sanity, so that I can help my kids weather the transitions as smoothly as possible.

  • Find physical and creative outlets. My inner life has been very narrow since Asha was born.  I don't have the time to sit and write for long stretches, I don't have the space to set up and paint, and I've been either too physically limited to run or too stressed out and tired to commit to a schedule.  I feel slightly less sane because of it. At the very least I need to get back into a fitness routine in 2017, and hopefully I will be able to fit in some more creative pursuits as well.

I have some work-related goals as well, but this is not the place to go into those.

Every year builds on the last. I am growing, my family is thriving, and despite the challenges I am beyond grateful for all that came our way in 2016.  We have much to look forward to.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Asha Moremi, 6 months

While pregnant, I would alternate between excitement and moments of sheet terror at the thought of growing our family.  The dread surfaced when I imagined what our daily routine would look like. At the time, pregnant and exhausted, working full time with a husband who was gone 13+ hours every day, I didn't know how I would do it.  One child was pushing me past my limits, how would I cope with two? Then came Asha, and you know what? She appears to be exactly the balancing force our family needed.

Each baby changes you, forces you to grow instantly in very specific, totally unplanned ways.  Amaliya made me a tougher, calmer, less emotionally driven person. She grew me up. I'm still figuring out how to define the impact Asha has made on me, but for now I’ll say, she has woken me up to my own mortality. I feel as though I’ve been snatched out of orbit, snapped into my own body and mind for the first time… ever, really. I feel each moment in a way that I never did before, with the full knowledge that I’m experiencing time that I will never get back, and that every lapsed second leads me closer to the end. Of my life, of the lives of those I love.  The human experience is all so finite, and it always has been of course, but I’m feeling it in a new and profound way since Asha came along.

That all sounds terribly morbid. There are times, certainly, where I am overwhelmed with sadness at the fragility of life.  Mostly, I just feel gratitude, and a pure sort of joy that can only be experienced when you are fully at peace in the present moment.  There’s something about Asha that puts me at ease – her sunny nature, her sweet and gentle demeanor, perhaps. I also think she was my personal tipping point.  The last four years have been a struggle to maintain my identity outside of motherhood. To be the best mom I could be as well as the best ME I could be, and there was a constant push-pull for time and emotional space, all while simultaneously experiencing the most intense and all-consuming love possible. I sought it and fought it in equal measure, because I wasn’t ready to give myself over totally to the new identity that comes with motherhood.  When Asha came, I surrendered, and with that surrender came the peace and balance and sense of purpose I needed.

But enough about me! This is about Asha, who is wonderful in the way that all babies are, and wonderful in all the ways that she is uniquely herself. In the last month she has learned to sit up by herself for short periods of time. She can scoot around on her belly, slowly, but her dexterity increases every day (babyproofing is on the horizon). She looks me in the eye, makes a squawking bird sound, waits, and gets SO excited when I make the same sound back at her.  She cries if I move too far away from her and cries if she sees me and I’m not holding her. No matter how fussy or tired she is, she instantly quiets whenever she hears my singing or her daddy playing the guitar. She gets the biggest kick out of watching her sister perform for her, though is a little overwhelmed by some of the “violent” love her sibling doles out.  She prefers to explore rather than observe, and she’s going to be hard to keep up with when she finally masters movement. Her two bottom teeth are in. She laughs easily, cries rarely, snuggles often, and lights up my days and nights with her delicious bubbly babyness.

Asha Likes:  Her changing pad (so many smiles and giggles with every change), music (she's very responsive to it, in all forms), playing on the floor, her toys (especially soft books that crinkle), being outside, avocados, tickles, and “talking” to us.

Asha Dislikes: Her sister squishing her cheeks, me having a body separate from hers, not being held when she’s tired, being tired in general, and she’s rather apathetic about the baby carrier again.

Sleeping:  Terrible. So terrible.  She's up every 1.5-2 hours all night long, and starts her day between 4-5:30am on the regular. Sleep has been on a downhill slide for the last couple months, but the past two weeks have been especially rough.  She seems to sleep best when she's at home all day and can take long, frequent naps. Fine, except, she goes to daycare - her morning nap is delayed because she's ready at 7, which is right as we're getting packed up to go, and her afternoon nap is around 4pm, which is right when I pick her up.  By Thursday or Friday every week, I am so tired that I'm practically hallucinating.  I know it won't last forever, and because of that knowledge I'm not too upset about the current state of things, but it's still hard. Trying to function at work, get some exercise (ha), take care of the family/house, and maintain stable moods and a positive outlook on 4-6 non-consecutive hours of sleep a night is tough. But we'll get through it.

Eating:  We started solids, and she’s taken to food like she’s been eating it for months. So far she’s had avocado, green beans, butternut squash, pumpkin, and coconut milk.  She still nurses multiple times per day (and night) and actually seems to nurse easier (screams/bites/grabs less) now, probably because she's not so hangry.

We love you, Asha, and we love how you've transformed our family in the last 6 months.You are the sugar to your sister's spice, and you make every day so much more meaningful for all of us.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Asha Moremi, 5 months

Oh, my Asha.  She rolls, she screeches, she grabs, she laughs, she does all the things 5-month-old babies do, but with a style all her own. 

Asha is a hard one to put into words. Some babies (not naming names here, ahem) bowl you over with their obtrusive personalities. They're picky, particular, intense, the givers of grey hairs from the get-go, but that is not Asha. There's something about her that's mysterious yet unaffected. She's gentle in all things - even when she wakes me up 3+ times per night, her squawks are less, "damn you woman, come get me!" and more "hey mama, I miss you, can we snuggle for 20 minutes while I kick-box your boob and eventually pass out? Thanks."

Yes, you are gentle. Subtle. Sunny and sweet. You smile and giggle all the time, never frantically, but  with a slow and genuine delight. You are neither reserved nor suspicious, but open and curious about others and the world. You love to move around by rolling and scooting, making your way over to something new you can explore with your hands and mouth. You can sit up with assistance for short periods of time, and I can tell it's opening up new worlds for you.  Your dad and big sister earn your easy smiles, but it's still my left shoulder that calms you when you're tired or upset.

Speaking of your sister, she is over the moon for you still. She loved you from the beginning, but I'm continually amazed at how maternal she feels toward you.  The jealousy has been minimal, and she's quick to defend you and tell me to, "be nice to Asha mom!  She's just a baby, she can't help it!" any time I grimace at a dirty diaper or express disdain at an aborted nap. If I could have one wish in this life, it's that the two of you always love and defend each other so fiercely. 

Asha Likes: Riding around in the baby carrier, being talked to and tickled, sitting and standing with assistance, playing with my necklaces, chewing on her hands, walking around outside, watching sister dance and sing, lavender oil massages before bed, getting her diaper changed.

Asha Dislikes: You really only cry when you are tired. Everything else you don't like (being left on your playmat, for example) is often a direct result of needing a nap.  You are not particularly fond of hats or anything on your head, and you still seem rather sensitive to being cold. Baths are still not your favorite, though you don't cry any more, you just look very serious the whole time.


Eating: You are becoming very interested in food now, following every bite we take at meal time and enthusiastically reaching for our forks.  One more month, and you'll be joining us for dinner.  As for now, you're doing just fine switching between breast and bottle and, though you are tiny, you're growing just fine on breastmilk alone.

A typical feeding schedule:

6am - Breastfeed in bed before we get up for the day
9am - Breastfeed or 5oz bottle
12pm - Breastfeed or 5oz bottle
3pm-4pm - Breastfeed or 5oz bottle
6:30 - Breastfeed in the rocking chair before bed
1-3am - Breastfeed, then back to bed

Sleeping: You've more or less regulated your daytime sleep and are a great napper.  You need your first nap about 2 hours after waking in the morning, another short nap 2 hours after that, and then will take an epic 3-hour or longer nap in the afternoon.  Bedtime is between 6:30 and 7, and you don't put up any fight. I've been trying to create a ritual around bedtime, so usually you eat, I change your diaper and massage you with lavender oil, put on your jammies, read a short book, sing a song, turn on your white noise, and lay you in your crib.  You find your thumb and fall asleep immediately.  After that, though, it really depends.  Some nights you only wake up once to eat, around 2am, and then go back to sleep until 6.  There have been a couple nights were you wake up at 10:30 and won't settle down until 1 or 2am.  You've slept all night but then woken up at 4am ready to start your day. You're transitioning into big-kid sleep patterns and it's exhausting and unpredictable, but I know it will pass. You'll eventually sleep through the night, and then in a weird way I'll miss the sleepless nights and that quiet time we spend together.

Asha is our joy and our balance, and I couldn't imagine our family without her.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Asha Moremi, 3-4 months

My sweet Asha. She's entered into what I think is the "golden age" of babyness.  4-7 months is epic. They learn so much, and change so much - rolling, sitting, eating, babbling.... all of it is just on the horizon, and I want to capture as much as I can in words before this wonderful phase passes me by.

Babies make time go so fast.  Especially second babies.  I am feeling, for lack of a better word, utterly blessed to have Asha in our lives. I knew that all babies were different, because of course they are unique people from the start, but it still floors me how different my girls are in personality already.  Amaliya was sassy from the start, serious and discerning, very particular about everything and every one.  She rarely laughed, didn't roll or crawl until she was almost a year old, and was a generally intense personality from the start.  The old soul inhabiting her body made her seem more like an adult in a tiny body than a baby.

That's not Asha.  Asha is easygoing, innocent, joyful, a baby through and through. She buzzes with a quiet but constant energy. She does all the baby things - wiggles and coos and blows epic spit bubbles, those little actions that are so monumental in a mama's eye, because they are all one step closer to the end of babyness. Asha is a snuggler and not a crier, she loves her people but also loves to explore the world on her own. I can't wait to see what the next few months will bring, when she's mobile and ever more engaged in the world around her.

Asha Likes:  Just about everything.  She really only fusses when she's tired. She especially loves tummy time while batting at toys, "standing" on her legs, sitting on laps and observing the world, being talked or sung to, being changed, walking around outside, and watching her sister's shenanigans.

Asha Dislikes:  Being fed when she's not interested, baths (though she doesn't cry any more - just shoots me dirty looks), teething (SO early.  Why, nature?) and being in the house when she's bored or tired.  There's not much this girl doesn't like. She is a very chillaxed baby.

Eating:  There's not  much to say here.  She eats well, 4-6 times a day and usually 1-2 times overnight. She takes the bottle with no fuss at all, almost never nurses for comfort.... that's about it.  She does tend to spit up fairly often, but she's allowed :-). 

Sleeping:  I still can't believe the jackpot I hit with this baby girl. She sleeps like an absolute pro, and has twice now slept 12 hours through the night. The 4 month sleep regression shook things up for a bit - she was up 2-3 times a night, mostly because she was rolling herself over and getting stuck. I started swaddling her legs for sleep, and it seems to help. Right now she goes to bed between 6:30 and 7pm most nights, wakes up once or twice to eat (15 minutes), and wakes up around 6:30am.  There's no rhyme or reason to her naps yet.  She generally needs a short one early in the morning, then is up for a 4-5 hour stretch, takes a 3ish hour nap, and then is up until bedtime.

Nicknames: Ash, Asha-basha, Ash-ers, Awesome Asha (at daycare), squeakers, puddles, juicy fruit

We love you, my Asha <3 br="">

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

To Amaliya, on your 4th birthday


What a year you've had, my girl. A year of growth, transition, and huge upheavals. When you turned 3 you were my only baby, mature beyond your years, physically restrained and emotionally reserved, the quietest kid in your class. Now? Now you scale all the playground equipment. You make friends with strangers everywhere you go. You sing and dance your way through every situation. And you are a big sister now, a role that suits you more perfectly than I could have imagined.

Your 3rd year was overshadowed a bit by the impending arrival of your sister. I felt bad when it took me away from you - when I was too sick to take you places, too big to run around the park with you, and unable to do much of anything for a few weeks when Asha was born. We did make the most of our time together, though. We had Sunday morning dates at Barnes and Noble, where we hit up Starbucks and then read books for an hour. Every other Friday, we skipped the daycare breakfast and went to Denny's where I watched agog as you polished off an entire Gram Slam breakfast. There were frozen yogurt dates and the occasional trip to the library. You've always been my sidekick, my companion, willing to go with the flow and accompany me on any whim or errand. You're not the kid that throws tantrums in public, melts down in the checkout line, complains about having to do things. Whether its standing in line at the bank or hitting up 3 grocery stores in an afternoon, you enthusiastically kept me company - always with a smile and a song. I appreciated your easygoing nature and maturity so much this year. Because of you, we were able to make the most of our last months together as mama and only daughter.

You found out about the new baby back in August, and dealt with it in your characteristic fashion:  by asking a million questions. You studied the stages of fetal development in a magazine. You asked a million more questions, and you fell in love.  You were so, so excited for your baby sister Moon Cheese (you chose the name) to be born. You covered my belly in kisses, asked me every day if we can keep her, and promised to protect her and change all the diapers. You suddenly had a baby in YOUR belly named Pela, who is a boy and apparently very mean.  For a while there you were bodyslamming your teacher and friends at daycare and blaming it on Pela's kicking!

You've had some anxiety about your transition from toddler to big kid, as all kids do. You've struggled to express yourself; you've raged, you've melted down, and you've taken out a lot of it on me. I don't mind - in fact, I welcome it.  I am privileged to be your safe place, the one to whom you can express the sadness and anger and confusion that overwhelms you sometimes while you learn to deal with the frustrations of life. 

You are so much like your dad: analytical, observant, talkative, cerebral. You are like me, too, in your pragmatic nature, your love of the spotlight, and your stubborn temper. I've come down hard on you in the past year, and then paused to realize that you were only reflecting my own behaviors back on me. That's the terrible and wonderful thing about parenting. It's not all wonderment and misty eyes and reliving the freedom of youth.  It's also a lot of watching the unsavory parts of yourself manifested in an innocent little person, and realizing that if you want to stop them from self-destructing one day, you need to first fix what's broken in yourself.

The hard moments, the growing moments, fade to the background when I think of all the good you've brought to our family this year. You are silly and bouncy, you love to roughhouse, to chase and be chased.   You love to use your imagination, but if I get too far into the fantasy, you are quick to remind me that "it's just pretend, mama."  You're always questioning why I do thing the way I do, and suggesting ways to make my life more efficient.  What's impressive about that is that, many times, you're absolutely correct!

You are starting to sound out words.  You can count to one hundred and ten. You draw pictures that actually look like what you intend.  You are utterly obsessed with Daniel Tiger and have all the songs memorized.
You enjoy art projects and helping me in the kitchen. You're happy to help me with anything, in fact, and are always fetching me things and offering your assistance. You still love your Music Together classes, and you are enthusiastically delving into ballet.  I'm so happy to see you finally finding confidence in your physical body.  You who never crawled, who has always been so cautious, unwilling to move and try new things, now you splash freely in the pool and tear up the sidewalk on your balance bike.  You are interested in all things related to the human body - we have books on skeletons and germs and babies that you've asked me to read you dozens of times.  

You challenge me and make me proud every day, Amaliya.  I've done my best as your mom, but I always want to do better by you: be more patient, more gentle, more empathetic, more generous with my time. You deserve all of that and more, and yet, even when I fall short, I know that you and I will be okay. We've been figuring this mama-and-daughter thing out together from the beginning, guiding and correcting each other. Even though the twists and turns of the past year have changed our dynamic, the bond between a mom and her first daughter is unique and unwavering. 

You are exquisite, baby girl. I can't wait to see how you shine this year.

Mama <3 br="">