Thursday, July 30, 2015

The Threenager


You've been three years old for a while now, in my mind.  Maybe it's your long limbs, ever-expanding feet, the gradual disappearance of your round toddler belly. Perhaps it's the complexity of your emotions and the way you articulate your needs.  It's probably due to you eating without your high chair tray, using the potty, dressing yourself, and doing an increasing number of "big girl" things every day.  You are growing up beautifully, my love.

We celebrated your birthday with two parties this weekend, one for your friends and another for the family.  I've spent a year attending parties where the birthday-kid bursts into tears under the weight of all those eyes and voices, but you didn't do that.  You looked forward to the song for months, and when the time came, you hesitated for a moment, and then broke into the biggest grin and basked under all the attention.  Interesting behavior, for a child whose teachers ask me if she talks much at home, because you are so quiet in class. They do tell me that you're one of the most musical kids they've ever had.  You won't speak up in class, but you have no trouble singing songs on the playground and dancing in the center of the circle.  You are not shy by any stretch, just discerning, careful, guarded... but when your trust is earned, you open up and your big personality shines through. 

You've been reserved and polite since birth, choosing to watch and listen in new situations rather than speak up and be met with an unpleasant consequence.  It's only with those of us in your inner circle that you feel free to push boundaries and, oh, do you push them. You are sassy and silly, with very selective hearing and an inclination to follow instructions but only in your own way, in your own good time.  You mostly go with the flow, and for that I am grateful - you cope well with surprises, upheavals, and sudden changes to your schedule.  If you are upset, you tell me or show me clearly with your actions, and we talk it through until you feel better.

You are more physical now, jumping, climbing, and running more than ever.   You are still not one of those crazy active kids, and I doubt you ever will be.  You love your books and, more recently, puzzles.  You can spend hours at a time on the floor with your puzzles and can put together 30 pieces by yourself (though you prefer to have "help..." and by help, I mean crying until I sit down beside you and then yelling at me any time I touch a piece).  You are going through what I think are typical only-child struggles - how and why to share, the necessity of taking turns, and the difficulties in relating with other kids who do not exhibit calm, adult behaviors.  You light up when talking to grown-ups, but are startled and confused when approached by other semi-verbal, rough-and-tumble children.

You love belly snuggles, kisses, and at least three "biggest, biggest hugs in the whole world" before bed every night.

You are so sensitive and perceptive, and seem to feel everything very deeply.  A slightly raised voice leads to tears; even the threat of me counting to three makes you panic and leap into action (I have no idea what I'd do if I actually counted to three and you still weren't obeying, but you don't seem eager to find out, so I won't worry about it); the very few times that we've spanked you have led to hysterics and serious grudge-holding, with days of you constantly telling me, "you hurt me, Mama!" and bursting into tears about it.  We don't spank anymore, unless your behavior endangers your life and needs to cease immediately.

You are such an enlightened being, Amaliya.  Such an old soul.  From the moment you were born, I never really felt like I had a baby.  I didn't see you as an infant, but as a fully-formed person who happened to inhabit a tiny body.  Parenting you is not at all what I thought it would be - I anticipated leading, enforcing, instructing, but instead?  Instead I am gently guiding while you, incredibly, absorb all this new information about the world and march onward, without me. I never could have anticipated learning so much from you, or needing to follow your lead lest I risk being left behind. Parenting you is not about dictating, it is about listening, engaging, and opening up.

Sharing an ice cream bar with Daddy on her real birthday

Parenting a three-year-old requires you to become a three-year-old - wildly curious, totally candid, purely creative, and utterly free. I am your Mama, always, but I am hopeful that as time goes on I will also be your friend, partner, confidant, and fellow explorer journeying through this life hand in hand with you.

Happy 3rd birthday, sweet girl.

Love, Mama

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Random notes on life, June 2015

I don't write much these days (for fun, anyway), but every once in a while I'd like to stop by this space and drop a snapshot of life in the moment.  I feel like I will regret it if I don't - life is passing at lightning speed, kids are growing, wrinkles are appearing, (no gray hairs yet, but I'm waiting for it), and the pace of change is merciless.  But here's where we are right now.

- Amaliya has a whole slew of imaginary friends right now.  Pluto, her fishy (she calls dogs "fishies" for some reason. Pluto is the stuffed dog lovey that she sleeps with), Crab (an imaginary crab that is "super cute" and who likes to perch on our bellies while we watch TV), and Macho (not sure what Macho is, but he's an A-hole with a capital 'A' and is blamed for all the messes and disobedience taking place in our house these days).  She refers to them all as her best friends. 

- Her other best friend is.... my feet.  She talks to my toes.  She occasionally tells ME to be quiet so she can talk to Toes.  She's much nicer to Toes, anyway.  She confides in them, tells them about her favorite things and what makes her sad.  She insists that toes give her hugs and kisses at night (note: I shower a lot more often these days).  Is this weird?  I mean, by the standards of preschoolers, where does it fall on the spectrum of "strange?"  I'm going with it.  It's adorable.

- I was wrong to expect peace during this stage of our lives.  Careers need to be grown, families are destined to expand, our responsibilities seem to increase by the day. I feel like a walking circus act - the lady with a dozen plates spinning on delicate poles, who looks masterful from a distance but is always in danger of dropping one and ruining the whole illusion of ease and perfection.  Just when you get comfortable, feel like everything is stable and balanced, someone throws a new plate at you.  But can I confess something?...

- ... I love it.  I do much better with too much responsibility than I do with not enough.  It's my Type A side, I suppose.  The more control I have, the more decisions I need to make, the more people relying on me, the more content I feel with my life.  I feel so good about where we stand right now - parenting is joyful, marriage is edifying, our material well-being is stable, and we are SO close to making some of our long-term dreams a reality.  I know there will be ups and downs in our future, but I think the greatest feeling is knowing, deep in your soul, that you will be able to weather any storms that may come.

- Now let's bring it back to Earth for a second, because life is never 100% perfect.  My primary struggle at the moment is with my physical health.  I'm trying to be transparent about our plans for a second baby, and the first step in those plans was for me to come off of hormonal birth control and return my body to a healthy, natural state.  It's been a rocky 6 weeks, in that respect. I've felt terrible most of the time, physically and mentally - I can sense my body struggling to find equilibrium, to restore it's natural rhythms after being chemically disrupted for so long.  I've been experimenting with essential oils and a few herbal supplements (maca root, etc), and hopefully in the next month or so I will begin to notice a change.

- In the meantime, I've been trying to make the most of this stage in our lives, with only one child who is at a perfect age for sleepovers with her grandparents and adventurous day trips.  I hope to have a few nights away with my husband this year.  There are a couple work trips coming up that I am looking forward to.  We have tickets to see The Lion King in October, from the front section of the orchestra (a dream come true).

This is where we are right now.  Busy, but at peace. Challenged, but content.  In a frenzy, but enjoying the moments of stillness.  All in all, deeply satisfied in life and love and ourselves.

I hope you can say the same, friends.  I really do.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Letters to Amaliya - Two and Three Quarters

My love,

This letter is almost a month late, because I've been having too much fun with you to stop and write about you.  Toddlers change at lightspeed, and I see you becoming more and more of a big kid every day.  So much has happened in the past three months - I'll never capture it all, but here are some notes.

Your ability to pretend has flourished, and your fantasy worlds grow more elaborate by the day.  You play "Daycare" constantly, which involves lining all your stuffed animals up and changing their diapers, one by one, and then grouping them all together while you climb into the rocking chair and read them stories.  Your pause every few seconds to remind someone to be quiet, and then you dole out imaginary treats afterwards, but only to the ones who behaved themselves.

I can't help but wonder (a wonder fuel partly by mom-guilt but mostly by objective fascination) how this early experience with institutionalized education will impact you later in life.  Some kids play "house" and call themselves "mommy," but you call yourself "teacher" and play "daycare."  You are kind to your stuffed animals, praising them and caring for their imaginary physical needs, but you don't snuggle them or carry them around in a nurturing way like a mother would.  I am almost positive this will change when you have a sibling (oh, what a shock that will be), but for now, it's very interesting to see how your play manifests.  I am always happy to sit with your class and hear you tell stories, or to receive checkups when you switch gears and want to play doctor (which melts my heart, hearing you ask me to "take a deep breath.  Okay great!  Now it's time for your shot.  See, that didn't hurt a bit!")

You are smart, Amaliya. So smart, it befuddles me most of the time.  You can spell your name and are beginning to recognize words on a page (you can point out 'baby,' 'moo,' and 'Dr. Seuss').  You point at words and ask what they say, and you want me to spell words for you using our fridge magnets. You read along with me now, repeating the words immediately after I say them (you do this even with brand new books that you haven't memorized), forming a perfect echo to my voice; Occasionally you look up from the page and exclaim, "I'm learning to read!"  I can't tell you how proud this makes me.  Words have long been my joy and refuge, so to see you taking such an interest in the written word makes my heart happy.

There are a few Spanish words that are ingrained in your vocabulary now (Empujen!  Abajo!  And the numbers uno through diez; Thank you Dora.), and wait, can we talk about your vocabulary?  You knew 100 words long before your second birthday, so I shouldn't be surprised, and yet.... you are so verbose now.  Your sentences are long and complicated.  You  use words like "proper" and "carbohydrate" and "bacteria" and "stethoscope" frequently and in context.

I am not ready to pigeonhole you yet, but my suspicion is that you will be a verbal or aural learner, much like your dad is.  For me, kinesthetic to the core and unable to absorb a thing unless my physical body is somehow involved, it is strange and impressive to watch you absorb so much through spoken words.  I am in awe of you the way I am in awe of your father, with your brain's ability to take words and make a million far-reaching connections.

You are smart, yes, and I am impressed by you daily, by my admiration goes far beyond what you do and encompasses all of who you are, who you are becoming.  I am still learning you every day, and will for the rest of my life I'm sure.  So many of your inherent personality traits, the nature and not the nurture, have been consistent since the day you were born.  You are still a listener, an observer, a people-pleaser, a law abiding citizen, and you think carefully before any action you take.  You don't like taking risks, and don't appreciate being pushed to try new things before you are ready.  Other kids might climb up the biggest rock at the park and throw themselves off with reckless abandon, causing many booboos and giving their parents gray hairs, but not you.  You want to talk about the rock, ask why the rock is there, have me help you climb up the rock (even though you don't need help), stand on top for a while, discuss how and why you plan to jump off the rock, do a dozen practice flexes, and then finally take an extremely cautious hop onto the ground (while holding hands, of course).

The most amazing thing happened about a month ago.  You - my shy girl who never speaks a word at daycare and clams up under the attention of strangers - woke up one morning and decided that you were a frog.  You insisted that I call you Mr. Frog, and you hopped everywhere you went that week.  As Mr. Frog, oddly enough, you blossomed.  As a frog, you spoke to your teachers (primarily to correct them when they called you Amaliya), you felt free to be loud and silly in public, and you thought nothing of being the center of attention while hopping around on the playground.  Mr. Frog lasted a week - then you woke up asking to be called Apple, and that one has stuck.  Apple has the same silly, charming, brash personality as Mr. Frog (and, of course, as the Amaliya I've always known).  This is the beginning of social awareness for you, and seeing you start to interact with the larger world is thrilling. 

This is long, baby girl, but there's one more thing I have to mention, and that is how happy it makes me when you take interest in the things I do.  The saying, "imitation is the sincerest form of flattery" is spot-on.  I love when you sit on the counter with me for hours while I cook, asking questions about each step and wanting tastes of each ingredient.  I love when you ask questions about my painting, and want to sit in my lap and tell me which colors to mix and where I should touch up the canvas.  I love when you put on my badge, break out your pink toy laptop, and tell me to be quiet because you are working like Mama and need to make some money.  I love most of all when you ask me to go for a run, and we do laps on the sidewalk in front of the house until you are sweaty and out of breath.  Yes, I feel proud and flattered and validated, but most of all, I hope you genuinely learn to love the things I love, and that it fires you up to learn and explore and fall in love with things that are far beyond my own reach.  Life is short indeed, but not that short, and there is plenty of time to do a million amazing things with it.

You're on your way, my love.  But I'll always be there to hold your hand when you jump.


Tuesday, April 21, 2015


On my 20th birthday, my college roommates took me to the Hard Rock Cafe in downtown San Diego, a hookah bar, and then back to our apartment where they bought me copious amounts of alcohol. I felt good about life - I had just started changing my habits and had lost about 20lbs. I was awaiting my acceptance letter from USIU-Africa. Life was on the upswing, but little did I know what was to come.  In the 10 years since then, I...

...moved to Kenya.
Met a boy.
Swam naked in the Indian Ocean.
Experienced intense culture shock.
Lived with the boy.
Learned to love weightlifting.
Earned a B.A. in International Relations.
Muddled through an 11-month-long immigration process.
Landed my first full-time job.
Married the boy.
Experienced intense culture shock again, through the eyes of someone else.
Doubted that the marriage would survive.
Cried, raged, and gradually learned to communicate better.
Doubted myself every day.
Received a diagnosis of Celiac Disease, and changed my diet forever.
Lost a total of 90lbs
Started running, and joined a running group.
Ran a 5K...
a 10K...
Six half-marathons...
and a full marathon.
Experienced the joy of a healthy pregnancy, a peaceful natural birth, and the addition of a daughter to our family.
Learned the true meaning of tired.
Breastfed for 13 months.
Earned my MBA.
Moved to a job in a field that I love.
Have surrounded myself with a loving community of truly phenomenal people.

I had one of those "pinch me" moments the other morning.  I was walked out of Starbucks in the morning, looking forward to the work day ahead, reflecting on my daughter's happy smile when I woke her up, feeling healthy and confident.  The "me" of 10 years ago used to think a lot about the future, what it would look like what I would be doing... but that "me" could not have imagined my reality.  A life so simple, that doesn't look incredibly impressive on paper, but brims with joy and love.

I have no sense of dread over getting older, because I can look back and see that every single year of my life has been better than the last. I saw the world in my 20s, but more importantly, I came to know myself.  I am entering my 30s with so much yet unknown, so much wisdom left to gain, but comfortable in my own skin, and what more can you really ask for?

I have been blessed, and I am grateful.  The next 10 years will hold many challenges, I think.  Grief, loss, various pains that I cannot guess at and have been spared thus far.  Life is short, yes, but it is also long, and lots of things can happen, both good and bad.  I can't say I am prepared for the bad - is anyone, really? - but I am confident that, whatever happens, I can face it.  I have my family, my friends, my tribe, my community at my back, to buoy me up and carry me through.  I can only hope for more joy than sadness, and to be able to share that joy with those around me every single day.

That's enough rambling for now.  Thanks for reading, friends.  Onward!

Monday, February 23, 2015


Amaliya plays hide and seek now.  Kind of.  When it's her turn to seek, she will hide her face but sneak glances at me the entire time.  When she's done counting, she runs directly to my hiding place and busts up laughing.  When it's her turn to hide, she stands right behind me as I count and absolutely falls out with giggles when I turn around to see her.

Her turn to count!

That, friends, basically sums up the last couple weekends around here.  I've been able to work a little less and have had more help around the house, which means more time to do sweet, sweet nothing.  I'm hormonally balanced (for the moment) and Amaliya seems to be through her mental growth spurt and is back to being my sweetheart again. Life feels really good right now.

Amaliya's never been the most energetic kid.  She couldn't do more than 3 hours of being awake until she was practically a year old, showed minimal interest in any physical activity, and liked best to snuggle up in front of a movie or play on the floor with her babies.  That has changed quite a bit in the past few months - she is a legit toddler now, into everything and bursting with crazed energy.  It took me a while to catch on, but in the last week I think I found a method to deal with her madness.  She kept screaming in the house or in the car, for no reason, and when I'd tell her to be quiet she'd say "No!  I have to be loud!" and get very upset.  This weekend we told her that, if she needs to scream, she can tell someone and we'll take her outside so she can be loud.  There are no limits to loudness outside, but she cannot scream in the house or car (especially in the car - I have not-great hearing, so extremely loud noises sound like static in my head and are painful).  It worked like a charm!  All weekend she'd come over and tell me, "I want to scream," or "I need to be loud now," and we would calmly go outside, scream our heads off and run around for a minute, and then come back in and play quietly.

Being silly.

We also solved the getting-dressed problem, wherein she would wiggle, flail, run, kick, and do basically everything to prevent me from getting clothes on her body (which, yes, resulted in a smack on the bottom a couple times on daycare mornings because Mama don't play when we're running late).  That one was simple.  Get naked, run one lap around the room.  Put on diaper, run another lap.  Pants, lap.  And so on, until fully clothed. She has fun, it takes a long but predictable time to get dressed, and we're both happy at the end.

A moment with her Great Aunt

It's amazing how figuring out these little things can totally change the family dynamic and make everything work so much better.  Kids change so fast.  I may think I'm listening to Amaliya, but in reality, she's gone through a big mental leap and is communicating with me in different, more complex ways.  I'm listening to the person she was yesterday, not the person standing in front of me.  Wouldn't that piss anyone off?

A moment with her Nanny

Back to her ridiculous toddler energy.  It's become clear that spending the day at home is a recipe for disaster.  Much like her Mama, Amaliya goes stir crazy at home and is a beast to live with if she can't get outside and play.  We hear that, so we're trying to spend more time out on the town exploring new places.  Last Sunday morning, President's Day weekend, we went out to the Living Desert out near Palm Springs. It seemed like the perfect compromise - not too expensive, plenty of beautiful trails and animals to see, sparse crowds and only 45 minutes from home. Timing was everything - we were up and out early in the morning after a quick breakfast, and arrived at the park at 9:30 (my girl may be energetic, but she's still a thorough introvert; two hours in a new, stimulating environment is about all she can handle before totally melting down).

It turned out to be a lot of fun!  Amaliya loved the model train village and was interested in the animals this time (not like our last zoo experience).  She named the giraffe "Gerald" after a character in her favorite book, and thought the zebra was pretty cool (I did too).  When she asked to touch the jaguars I said, "no, they'll bite your little booty," which she found fascinating, and kept asking throughout the trip if various animals were going to bite her booty. Ha!  After a quick stop at the petting zoo (she is still not keen to touch goats, though when I asked her later, she said the goats were her favorite part of the trip!) and the playground (throwing dirt around is the highlight of any outing), we ate a quick picnic lunch in the shade, and packed up.  We were back in the car by 11:45. A quick trip, but so refreshing.  The desert is my happy place.

This past weekend, we took a long walk, cooked a bit, went to the park, played tennis in the front yard (her new favorite thing to do), and enjoyed each other.  Sunday was Geography Day here in Redlands, and the world's largest map of Africa was being hosted at our local library.  We ventured out in the rain to run around on a giant map and beat some drums.  I am so blissed out right now - I love babies, don't get me wrong, but I am thrilled that Amaliya is getting to the age when she really gets excited about seeing/doing things and participating in activities.  I feel like a kid again, experiencing all these things through her eyes.

 My last post was a bit of a venting/therapy session, so I'm happy to be back with more positivity this week.  Life really is a rollercoaster - you have to ride out the bad times with as much honesty and grace as you can, but also give yourself permission to own and revel in the happy moments.

Have a great week, friends.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Getting through it.

5:15 alarm. Downstairs before my husband to pack his lunch and make his coffee. Make my coffee, see him off.  Workout video, or kitchen-cleaning, or laptop open to start on some work.  Make and eat breakfast. Dress, wake and dress kid, multivitamins for all, grab a half-dozen bags of random stuff, and we're out!

Daycare drop off, then work. Desk, meeting, desk, meeting, coffee, coffee, COFFEE.  Eat lunch at my desk, quick gym session in the afternoon, desk, meeting, LEAVE.  Daycare pickup, and we're home.

Doc McStuffins on, and I'm in the kitchen. Dinner prepped, cooked, she and I eat together. Couch snuggles until daddy comes home, he eats and I clean the kitchen. Bedtime routine underway, "two short books," two songs, light off.  8pm. Laptop or phone on, work 'til 9pm, finish tidying the kitchen and prep coffee pot for the next day. Melatonin popped, read in bed until it starts working. Lights out. 9:45pm. Seven-point-five hours later, begin again.

Domesticity's such a drag, isn't it?

I've been struggling lately.  Partly due to this new routine, which makes 4-5 days per week look exactly like the above (with the swapping of the gym session for a run some days).  The weekends are a frenzy of cleaning and cooking so as to make the week as streamlined as possible.  Throw in meal planning (with a spreadsheet), grocery shopping (with an app), and budgeting (yet another spreadsheet), and I truly feel more Roomba than human most of the day. I usually rock a good routine, and gain immense satisfaction from efficiency.  I suppose I'm burning out a bit.

A larger part of the problem, I know, is this Nexplanon in my arm pumping a constant flow of crazy-making hormones through my body.  I didn't mind this thing at first, because the physical side effects were mild and the mental ones virtually nonexistent.  At first.  I'm not sure if something's changed, or if this is just an inevitable side effect of a full year-and-a-half of altered hormones, but yikes.  I feel like I did when I was on the pill, arguably one of the lowest times in my life for no good reason beyond chemically-induced depression (not to talk about the physical side-effects - suffice to say, those have ramped up as well).  I have little patience for things that negatively impact my quality of life for too long, so I'm going to have to do something soon.  I'm just not quite ready for the obvious solution, you know what I'm saying?

I'm venting, but most of you reading are females, and you understand.  Sometimes, it feels like the responsibility for birth control on top of all the other roles and duties is just too much.  Especially when the "best" solution makes you feel like total crap all the time. 

I chose mindfulness as my theme and mantra for the year, and it is resonating with me right now in a big way.  I feel the weight lift when I make the extra effort to be present in the moment.  Observing my daughter, marveling at how small and warm she is, how intelligent and silly, taking the time to sit on the couch with her and just watch her, it helps. Being present at work, throwing my whole mind into various tasks and problems, that helps too. Consistent exercise is somewhat of a challenge right now with how my body is reacting, but I still run 20ish miles per week, and during weeks I feel good, I ramp up my other workouts for balance.  None of it makes much of a difference in how I physically feel, but it relieves the crazy and brings me peace.  Life is truly, thoroughly good. Mundane, routine-driven, semi-robotic much of the time, but beautiful nonetheless. And though I'm pissed that I am not able to fully feel and enjoy it right now, it will be okay.  I know what's causing it, and I know it won't last forever. I can stand through this season. The next will be better.

So there you have it.  I've decided to revert this back to more of a personal journal-type blog, instead of trying to generate "content" on lifestyle/social issues, etc.  It remains a life goal, but right now I just do not have the mind space and time to devote to it. I want to write for me, for the therapeutic effect of processing feelings through the written word, and embracing vulnerability by putting it out there in the universe.

There you have it.  If you read all that, and if you chose to keep reading... you are my tribe, and I am thankful for you.

Just me.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Letters to Amaliya - Two and a half


We celebrated your half birthday with a treat of your choice.  You chose candy, so we ventured downtown after daycare, in the rain, to visit a candy store and then over to the crepe place (because Mama needed a crepe).  You danced through the shops and ran down the sidewalk screaming whenever a rain drop touched your head. It was so good to see you silly and full of energy, after a long week of being down with a cold.

It's been a time of change, for all of us.  Your daddy started working full time, and you now go to daycare for four full days per week.  It's a new daycare, slightly more affordable for us, and though I worried about springing both of these changes on you at once, I shouldn't have.  You are thriving in your new environment - you are fond of your teachers, enjoy the structure of a classroom environment, and are sometimes reluctant to leave at the end of the day (especially when I have to tear you away from painting "beautiful things," as you say).

Also known as painting holes in the tablecloth. Hey, if it's beautiful to you, who am I to judge?

Two is a challenging age, but less challenging and more fun as the days go by. The older I get, the more of myself I see reflected in your developing personality.  You are assertive (I will not say bossy) and curious (I will not say nosy).  I can't so much as flip a light switch without you coming over and informing me that in fact, I did it wrong, and you need to show me how to do it "correctly." You test and defy and push boundaries all the time now, but not nearly as much as other kids your age might.  I see you blossom when you receive praise from adults, but you take criticism and correction very hard.  In some ways you are very easygoing - we rarely fight over what you will wear, or bedtime - but when you do not want to do something you will not do it (eating certain foods, using the potty, or taking pictures when you do not want your picture taken).  For the most part, we know better than to force you into something you don't want to do.  You have the memory of an elephant, and can whine about the same injustice for hours, refusing to be distracted from it.  So much your mama's child.

We can't eat anything without you trying to climb into the bowl.
Trying to take a nice family selfie, but nope, "No pictures today, Mama!"
You are demanding of our time and attention, never content to play on your own or venture off without companionship.  If given the choice to run around and explore by yourself, or sit with me and be involved in whatever I am doing, you will always choose to be near me. One-on-one conversations are your specialty. You've been surrounded by adults your whole life, adults who spend a lot of time working and talking, so I understand why your preferred forms of play involve lots of structure and discussion.

As serious as you are, as you have always been, you are still a silly goose and radiate such innocent joy.  You love...

... your Dora bathrobe and mittens...

... selfies....
And I love your big, beautiful eyeballs.
...Riding your tricycle...

... mama's belly...  

... Doc McStuffins (and by "love" I mean you harass me about watching it 24/7 and know all the songs by heart)...

...climbing on Daddy...

... and playing pretend.  Seeing your imagination bloom is, by far, the best part of parenting for me.  My best memories from childhood involve the elaborate fantasy worlds my brother and I created, and seeing you unleash your wild imagination takes me right back to those carefree times.

You're fond of treats and extremely fond of eating.  You drink your tea tepid but love spicy food.  You're not psyched about cooked vegetables but will happily snack on raw mushrooms, zucchini, carrots, and (weirdest of all) frozen bell pepper strips. 

We started another semester of Music Together and you're already learning so many new songs.  You are much less inhibited this semester, dancing freely around the room and joining in with your instruments.  You can hit a drum and clap on beat, and are starting to get a handle on your vocal range (though you still shout songs in a tuneless baby voice, which I am in no hurry for you to lose thankyouverymuch).

You have a great many likes and dislikes, but your favorite thing on earth right now is.... me.  I wish that were ego talking, but alas, you really are a mama-obsessed little girl.  You won't let me out of your sight when I'm home, ask about me constantly while I'm gone, and won't let anyone else do a thing for you (the exception being my mom, your Nanny, who occasionally usurps me from the #1 spot in your heart).  It's a little overwhelming for me, to be honest.  I'm an independent sort and very high energy, used to jumping around from room to room and project to project on a whim.  You've put the kibosh on that - you are very communicative with your emotions, and let me know when I haven't paid enough attention to you or haven't engaged with you enough.  I'm very proud of you for that, now that you mention it.  It takes courage to be so open about your needs and expectations.  

So nowadays I may not be as productive as I once was when I'm home, but I spend a lot of time snuggled on the couch with you or outside horsing around... and that's better than domestic efficiency any day.

You always pull my shirt up and burrow into my belly.  You love the skin-to-skin contact while you're flopped on me watching TV.  I love that you're so snuggly, sweet, and affectionate.

You are so special, little girl.  So smart it leaves me speechless, sometimes.  You speak like a much older kid - full sentences, proper pronouns, funny little expressions (you've started addressing your daddy and I as "hey, guys!" and the other day you fell, reached up for me, and asked, "Can I get some help down here?"  I DIED.)  You've started asking "what's that?" about everything you see, and my answer is always met with an innocent, "why?"  You've recently gained an understanding of differences and opposites, and love pointing them out whenever you come across them ("that light switch is OFF, and that one is ON!"  "It's dark outside!  Not light!" and my personal favorite, "My (stuffed) puppy does NOT have a penis!")

You moved to a big girl bed last month, and though I was concerned about how you'd take the change along with all the other changes we've put you through lately, you are over the moon for that bed.  You haven't fallen out once!  And you probably sleep better now than you did in your crib. It makes you so proud to be a "big girl," except of course if I mention that big girls use the potty, in which case you insist that you're "still a baby."  Sigh. You still let me hold you, rock you, and sing you songs before bed though, so in that respect, I am very glad you're content to stay little for a while longer.

I'm trying harder these days to stay in the moment with you, to be present and put down my phone and soak you up.  It's hitting me hard now, how fleeting these stages are.  I love seeing you grow more independent and opinionated every day, but man... you're so utterly sweet at this age, so innocent and trusting and silly.  We, your dad and I and your grandparents, are literally your whole world right now.  I'm going to be a little bit sad when you realize that the world is much larger than you and me.  Larger, and not always nice.

May the world always be as light and good as you are, baby girl.


First time seeing snow!