Friday, June 26, 2015


Ah geez. I've already fallen into the third-child-trap-of-neglect. Here she is, 2 delicious months old, and there's been no blog. Not even a measly birth story. Rest assured there is one written, in the pen ink of yore, in a baby book... so there's that. But I really need to get to documenting some things of the past few months, so let's get after it.
Abby, oh sweet sweet edible Abby! I could write for days about how you smell. Is it a last-baby thing? Because I truly do not remember getting high off your siblings' baby smell. Maybe this is why I do love to babywear you, putting the top of your sweet-smelling head right by me, to take hits from every 5 or so seconds. It's just this very distinct smell of I don't even know. Love? Joy? Life? You have considerably less hair than your bro and sis, especially on top (however, the back of your head is full of hair - baby-mullet in the making, I'm excited) so perhaps this lends to the smell being more potent? Less obstacles? Whatever it is, I soak it up all day, whiffing that head like it's my job. And the hair thing, it's funny. I had many ultrasounds with you (dilated kidneys they wanted to monitor monthly) and each and every time they commented on ALL that HAIR! Never once did a tech comment on your brother or sister's hair, and let me tell you, they had some hair. And you do not. Weird ultrasound conspiracies!
Lately, you've been smiling. And it is GRAND, oh my gosh. I don't think you can see very far still (I could easily google this baby factoid).. but when I come into your frame, like 18 inches from your face, you absolutely light up. You smile SO big and gummy and your start pumping your legs and oh my gosh it makes my insides hurt in the best way. You smile when Andrew or Avery comes over and talks to you, too. And now, at almost 3 months old, you belly laugh. Oh my. It's very very selective with when it happens, but almost always in the bathtub. When you're probably at your happiest. We finally got smart and had our recording device ready last night and I'm so glad. A little baby laughing is delicious.. but a naked fat baby laughing is just indescribable. I truly don't recall your siblings laughing this early--I think it was more like 4 months old... but you also do not laugh in response to the same ways we got them to laugh. We kiss your belly (the way we got them to laugh) and you look off into the distance with total boredom and a little confusion. But if we talk to you a certain way, man you double over. You laugh so hard and just like the last two first-laugh experiences, it's just the greatest. Does not get better.
By the by, I had saved the above few paragraphs in draft for a month, and you're 3 months old now. Yes I know. This is life with three, though. Things get saved in draft for a month. I'm watching you on the baby monitor right now actually, it's 6:40a, and you're swaddled in your Miracle Blanket, but kicking your legs up as high as they'll go and slamming them down. We call this sumo kick. Andrew & Avery just die laughing when I animate it as it's happening, as we all watch you draw up both your legs as I say SUUUUUMOOOO! And then as you slam them down, KICK!
What is there to say though? You're the best baby. Just, the greatest. The sweetest, most go-with-the-flowest baby there is. You have had some medical.. things. Not ISSUES, but just little blips. First was your lip & tongue tie. Which both of your siblings probably had as well, but I never was educated enough to do anything about it. Yer momma dun got smarter! And also, nursing you for the first 5 weeks of your life was like experiencing full body electric shocks of pain that made me curl all my toes each and every time, so there was a fair amount of motivation to get the problem sorted.
Then around 2 months old, we noticed a bit of flatness to the right side of your head. This sent me into red-alert full-throttle mode of MUST EVALUATE and get a gameplan because I did not want you to end up in a head-reshaping helmet. Yep. That is where my brain goes to automatically. Worst case scenarios. So we had to do a few things to get that sorted out, but it turned out to be a non-issue, thank goodness. Then around 2.5 months old, you had some blood in your poop. The pediatrician said it was textbook dairy allergy so I cut out all dairy. I consumed almond milk for you, child. Do you know what that is? Almonds. And SADNESS. These are all little things, but ya know, part of your baby history, so they should be noted somewhere.
As of right now, 3.5 months old, you are sleeping from 8pm usually until 6:30am when I come in to get you. Not because you're crying or anything, but I can see you on the monitor whipping your head around, still swaddled and immobile, but doing some hardcore sumo kicks nonetheless. I typically get Andrew up right beforehand because it's around his wakeup time and he loves to see you first thing in the morning. We both peer over, and you're the smiliest.
I just love you, my little chunk of love. We say you have some pretty nice marbling... your thighs being as dimply as they are, and I hope you remember that always, when you're a teenager and showing way more leg than you should. Once you were just a big ball of round delicious chubby baby, and life was so very good.
I hold you up by the armpits, up high in the air, and your shoulders are all smushed up into your neck and you couldn't possibly look rounder, and you laugh so HARD. You smile this huge gummy grin when I do this, and it's grand. Please give me fat grandbabies, someday. You needn't do anything else, but this. Because losing you, slowly, to the toddler-frame then to the trim little kid-frame I know is coming, is just too hard. I need a chubby again, and I'm depending on you. :)

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

home stretch


Kids, I am set to deliver your baby sister next month. Next month I SAID. That is just crazy. Crazy nuts, because Andrew, weren't you just lodged in my pelvis for 3 hours?? I swear you were. But that's been almost 7 years ago. And if you are a teenager or young adult reading this, I hope you never forget that yes indeed, you WERE lodged in my pelvis for over 3 hours. Never forget. I should make you a rubber bracelet to wear that says that. I was a fabled legend in the post-partum area, nurses came from all over the land to see me, I promise you this. I hope your giant head is serving you well in a lucrative and philanthropic profession. In that specific order, because good deeds do not pay the electric bill. Where was I? Oh yes. So much catching up. I love being pregnant, you guys, I really do. I want you to know that. I know I complain hither and dither, but I don't ever want you two to focus on that. I want you to remember that God I feel/felt so lucky period to be able to get pregnant with you two, so effortlessly. Daddy just looked at me funny, I swear! That was it. To be able to grow you all in my body for the right amount of time is also a gift that is not lost on me. So remember that. I'll remember, Andrew, how you asked me what WAS all that on my belly, earlier this month... and I said they are marks of stretching! For I carried all 3 of you in there, and it'll never be the same, and how amazing the human body is. You didn't say ew or gross or anything, but wooooow. You compared it to your little (perfect) belly and was just wowed. I hope there is always thoughts of wow, because it is definitely just that.
Avery, you love playing little mommy. And this is not something I ever formally taught you, which is the kind of weird part... because it's like it's physically or emotionally ingrained. Science! You ask me to cry, so I screech WAAAHHH as annoyingly as possible (training for next month you guys, you'll thank me) and you cup my chin and get super close and say 'baby baby it's ok, mommy is here..' And then you give me a pretend bottle and go grocery shopping. I'm just waiting on you to go do pretend dishes and laundry, because OH I totally know you two think that's all I do. I'm not offended, really.
Andrew, you are equally as doting. You kiss my belly at every opportunity - so many many times a day. It helps that it's comically large and right at eye level for you. You probably feel like you don't have a choice- it's there! No escape! Kiss it! But you are so gentle and helpful when I need help. Lately I've used your size and strength to my advantage while Daddy is at work, to hoist me up from sitting positions. Avery tries to help, too, but I kindly tell her to clear on out cuz Momma's coming up!! Best to not injure herself as a bystander. How embarrassing. You asked a question the other day, Andrew, while we were laying in bed resting. You very simply asked 'why did you and Daddy decide to have another baby?' Always caught off guard at these heavy questions, I hope I answered in a suitable way. Despite the fact that I wanted to say how your father LOVES the smell of fresh clean baby diapers, way more than is normal...  seriously. It's the closest to a crack-addiction your saintly father will ever achieve. We might have to buy diapers a decade from now just to get him a whiff. I said first how awesome and kind and special you two kids are, why on earth would we NOT want another?! I hope you didn't interpret that on the other side of when you two are being destructive spawns that I would have paused before leaping on the 3rd baby boat....but we'll cross our fingers that you didn't dissect it as such. I then said how giving your kid or kids a sibling is one of the greatest gifts you could ever give them. I know how either of you might not choose to have kids, or might choose or only be able to have 1 kid, and that is of course ok! But, in our family, in our lives right here right now, we believe that with everything. That this is the best gift we can ever ever give to you two. I think you then asked about the weather tomorrow or Kwanzaa or something, so the moment was over quicker than it began... but I hope something stuck. Especially in moments of her screaming without any end in sight. She's a gift, dammit!
You both think I am extra smart right now because unlike anyone else in this house, I have TWO BRAINS. And I also have super-stellar vision because I have 4 eyeballs. I think you both already consider us separate entities, because you address the baby very separately. For instance, if you were in a race with me up the stairs (always comical because no. I do not race, but I make very authentic noises to pretend that I am SO in that race) you would say 'I beat you... and I beat the baby, too!!' Andrew, you are extra helpful, and that is saying a lot because you have always been really helpful. You pick things up for me A LOT. And always with no hesitation or complaint..  but with an extra helping of love, saying how you really have to do these things because I have a baby in my belly and how it makes you love me more. I can't even make this up. It sounds like I am, I know. I had a hunch you'd be this way, before I was even pregnant, but you've really lived up to it and then some. Avery, bless you, you still ask me to do physical things that I am simply not up to... but I try not to pin it on the baby. I say how Daddy is so much better at that, and that we should just wait til he gets home. (because when he gets home, you BOTH get your physical workout for the day) This seems to pacify you most times. I then suggest you brush my hair, because you LOVE doing this and I absolutely love having my hair brushed. For a tired mom who skimps on regular hair appointments, this is very much my at-home indulgence. Double win. You brush and brush and fiddle with it, saying you're gonna give me a 'brave' (braid) and when you tire, you tell me to go pick out a treasure from the box (just like at your haircut place). I pick something random and pretend like it's the greatest toy ever and I shower you with thanks and ask to kiss you, but you say 'ya don't kiss your haircut people!'...  So very true. Must remember. Really a great lesson to apply in life...
Andrew, you are such a reader. You have to read quite a bit for school - these handful of readers every week, and they ask that you read them 3 times, but we don't exactly follow that rule. Those suckers are LONG! And there's usually only a few words per reader you struggle with, so meh. Who has the time?! The last one was all about Asthma. As you read it (having just come off a cold the last few days), you got to the symptoms and started identifying with each one..  'can experience wheezing... YUP that's ME!''... 'can experience breathing difficulties.. ME AGAIN!'.. 'Asthma attacks can rarely result in death... WHAT' You looked at me like AM I GOING TO DIE? And I had to reassure you for the 5th time in one minute that you do NOT have asthma. Merely asthmatic symptoms when you occasionally get sick. Another current read is The Princess Bride. Daddy reads this aloud at bedtime and you love it. You know it's a movie, so you're excited to see it when you're done with the book. You've taken to saying 'as you wish' to me, so it has positive side effects. We're thinking of starting the Harry Potter series with you soon, which really excites us.  Andrew, recently you wrote this little book for your new sister. It's small--handbook size--and it's held together by lots of colorful washi tape you got from Santa (a hit!! as Santa knew it would be!) It's sort of a 'you're new here, let me explain things' type of read. The pages range from basic introductions of who you are and what you're good at and not good at (keeping your hands out of your mouth) to holidays and what happens on each holiday (New Years Eve is 'when you get to stay up late and do whatever you want! but not until you're a lot older..') to basic body parts--wherein you traced your hand. It's pretty much to-die-for cute. So as soon as it got left on the kitchen counter, abandoned, I snatched it up and put it in your memory-bin in my closet--because THAT is something that gets saved forever, hands down. I promised you that when she has questions, we will reference the handbook.
Avery, I had planned to keep you out of spring baseball, simply to make things easier for me. A couple less outdoors evening practices to contend with.. less equipment to keep up with.. one less Saturday game to juggle.. all while adjusting to newborn-life again, and ya know, letting my vag heal. I told myself YOU'RE THREE it doesn't matter! (it would matter if I had to explain keeping your bro out of baseball) I had planned to wait til summer to enroll you in a dance class, and that would be just fine. Your father is not going to coach at the t-ball level this season (just brother's team), and who can blame him SHIT that was stressful, so I also knew there'd be less dedicated eyes watching out for you on the field. But yesterday, on an unseasonably beautiful 67 degree afternoon, you practiced baseball with Daddy in the yard. You lined it up, you spread your feet, you had that little elbow up, and you made contact, hitting it to the fence.. almost every single time. Minimal prompting needed. And you ran SO fast to that base..  Even pitching! You had the point-step-throw DOWN. So naturally, I'm sure I'll sign you up. Who needs easy schedules and giving myself grace, you looked great out there so we gotta make it work. PLUS your grandparents got you a pink helmet that's the cutest thing ever, so it'd be a shame to collect dust.
You ALSO are very into 'magical' things right now..  and imaginary play, OH MY GOSH. Your bro was really never into that, no matter my insistence and failed attempts to play that way with him, so this is new territory. If I call you by your God-given name, you'll very often correct me, saying 'No, I am Queen Elsa, and you are not Mommy, you are Anna. And we need to go see the mystical mountain trolls right now!' (*this usually is said as I'm trying to get us out the door) Recently, you spontaneously decided to re-enact what apparently is a favorite scene from Frozen, at Elsa's coronation ceremony. You'll find two socks (always in high supply in the laundry basket in the living room or laundry room) which will be your gloves. Then you'll come to me and say 'give me the King's things!' (the scepter/wand whatever it is).. so you'll then take your socks (gloves) off, then I'll pretend to hand you the scepter, and you'll gasp (as your Elsa-hands begin to turn them into ice, I'm assuming) and rush back to your socks (gloves) and put them on. This can happen up to 10 times in one day. Your imaginative play really gets a workout when Daddy comes home, because he's just so much better at it than I am. We all have our strengths. I crack up, listening to him go full-on-crazy, quoting every movie he knows as he battles you two.. mostly Star-Wars, natch. Avery, your go-to defense when things get really heated is to scream 'Magical! Blow away!' (as you either use your wand or grand hand gesture) Or you'll scream 'Magical! Freeze for 10 seconds!' or 'Magical! Turn into sand!' He always obliges these.. and sometimes I see in your eyes, how you are utterly convinced of your powers.
Kids, big changes are a-coming.. BIG. But you know, I'm good. I'm just so dang grateful we waited and I got to have such special one-on-one time with each of you. It was (is) so precious to me, that I'll hold tight to those memories for sure. We're a lucky bunch, and you both might not realize it at all right now, but you will someday I hope. Sure, I worry. I worry that I'll put you, Andrew, on this sky-high pedestal of ridiculous responsibility as the firstborn, and I'll forever scar you when you let me down by acting like a human child. I know some of this is inevitable, and maybe I'll pick up a book or something about not screwing up your firstborn..  I promise I'll try. I worry that you, Avery, will shrink into the shadows as a people-pleasing middle-child. But I don't think you'll ever spend a collective 5 minutes in the shadows. Your light burns way too bright. I think we'll be ok, kids. More than ok. And if things get tough, just go sniff a fresh clean diaper.. Daddy swears that'll make it all better.

Friday, June 20, 2014


There's always some cute things happening around here..  and some challenges, too, of course. Cuteness and challenges alike, I want to remember it all, so I feel like a documenting is long overdue!

* Avery, for a long time now, you've been giving us "stickers". I put this word in strong quotation marks because they are imaginary stickers. Your bedtime routine, after I help you dress & dry your hair, is to run to Daddy in the hallway (as he's waiting on Andrew in the shower, to tuck him in) and you cuddle him, then kiss each hand and make a little reaching-into-your-pocket motion and put a "sticker" on each kissed hand. You'll name them, giving a kiss then placing a 'princess sticka', or lately it's been one 'jedi sticker' and one 'darth maul sticker' (thanks Disney Land!). And you'll trot off, yelling back 'don't let your stickers fall off!' I will sincerely be depressed when you stop giving us these stickers.

* Andrew, you went to Victoria today, and you gave me about 30 kisses before you left, and said you loved me a dozen times. And according to your father, you said you already missed me before you guys made it out of the neighborhood. Sigh. Lately, you've been saying how you can't wait to be a Daddy. The reasons range from your confidence that being a Daddy will secure you more chips/snacks, or that you think being a Daddy means you won't have to clean as much. I laughed at that one. I asked if you thought Daddy's didn't clean, to which you replied that KIDS cleaned the most, and I asked well what if your kids did not clean?! And you said you'd let your wife do it. So kind of you. We had a sort of gender-role-expectation conversation following that.

* You both are in swim lessons, and I couldn't be prouder. Not just that you've learned the skills (swim-float-swim) but that you are always in such good spirits. Andrew, you only had to take a week (4 days, 10 minute lessons) and you were good to go, as you retained so much from prior lessons.. so now, you get to just play around in the deep end while Avery has her lessons. You LOVE this freedom, just swimming from bank to bank, jumping in --crazy high/far jumping too that makes me freak a little -- and going down the slide. And of course floating, you could float for days. Avery, you listen to your teacher so well and try so so hard at everything. You are so eager and ready to please. I'm so grateful for these life-saving lessons, and how receptive you two have been. I've never put floaties on either of you, and now thankfully I won't ever have to! So proud.

* Andrew, a couple of weeks ago you broke the iPad. You were closing it in the case, flipping it a little too playfully than you should have, and it slipped out of your hands on the wood floor and shattered. I didn't react too harshly, because the damage was done and I could tell you felt badly. But we did have some conversations about it.. about how it was not just a toy, and how it cost big money, and you were immediately ready to empty out your piggy bank. We did count it all out ($89!) and I think you thought it was all going towards a new one, but we never took it. You learned, and at the end of the first week of swim lessons when you tested out super early, the first thing you said was 'I'm glad I finished quickly so I could save you guys money'..  

* Avery, you sit and read books for veeeeery long periods of time. You love big thick books - oftentimes MY books (always always removing my bookmark first thing) obviously with no pictures. You just make things up, random strings of nonsensical sentences, and I could watch you 'read' for days. It tickles me so much. You sometimes do BIG hand motions, theatrically describing some imaginary plot that makes no sense whatsoever, but obviously demands a big hand motion and sound effect. Andrew loves this too. At first, a long time ago when you started doing it, it bothered him. He'd say 'you know, you're not REALLY reading....' but now, as he's evolved into a chiller brother, he smiles so big and just chuckles alongside me.

* You two have been playing so well lately, it's been NICE. I can get a lot done, when I hear you two happily playing...and I even keep getting stuff done when I inevitably hear Avery squawk about something, because Andrew, you play the deal-maker. You problem solve and console when necessary and sometimes I am rendered obsolete for long periods of time. It's nice!

* Avery, you love helping me shave my legs. Sometimes, during the day, I'll just roll my shorts up and sit on the edge of the tub, with you there. You help me dump bowls of water on my legs when I need to.. but other than that, you just watch. You love it, for some reason. And you'll talk to yourself .. 'I'll shave my legs when I'm a mommy..' ha! I tell you it'll be before you're a mommy, but you'll figure that one out for yourself. And the best part is the end, when you get huge globs of lotion and rub them on my legs -- your sensory-loving self LOVES this part and thinks it's a special treat. I just close my eyes and pretend I'm getting a pedicure by someone with really small hands.

* Andrew, since you no longer nap (maybe once a week still, on big baseball game days!) you have to come up with things to occupy your time during Avery's naptime. Screentime is limited, and you know you can play some on your iPod and then later you can watch something on Netflix, but other than that, it's on you to come up with things to do. I'll have things sometimes, but mostly I encourage you to figure it out. You love it when I read out of your new chapter books (Magic Treehouse) and you really love your special ice-cream time. I'll make you a cone of sherbet, and you'll take it to the back porch and eat it by yourself... you look like a little grandpa out there, eating sherbet, enjoying the noonday weather.. it tickles me.

* Avery, you slay us with how you NEVER know what mealtime it is. At breakfast, you'll say 'that was a good dinner!' and before dinner you'll say 'is it breakfast yet?' I really need to google a trick to teaching you when we eat what meal, but whenever you get it right and we make a big deal that YES, YES YOU'RE RIGHT! THAT WAS DINNER!.. then 5 seconds later you'll say 'Oh I meant breakfast.' There's just no point, you know? Your quirks make our days brighter.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

wrote in December. saved in draft since then. ON THE BALL.

It's just awful that so long has passed since I've documented our little world. Back when Andrew was a baby, I kept post-it notes (how quaint, before your father turned me towards the dark side/technology) around the house and jotted down notable things as I went about my day. The things were sometimes basic and sometimes pretty amazing (one in the same to a mom), but the fact was, I forced myself to remember them with those little square of.. what is that stuff again.. OH YES, paper. I am so glad I did that. Because Andrew's babyhood seems like a damn decade ago, even though it was just half that. I now look at videos of him (grainy unfocused ones taken by our overwhelmed shaky hands on a cheap camera), and I am confused. About the passing of time and reconciling this baby to that kid. He is you? You is him? I do regret not documenting more things for you guys, I really really do. If I had more focus, I would definitely do something more regular for you guys, so that you could be 30 someday and laugh about how you were once terrified of your own diarrhea. These are memories meant to be preserved! But enough guilt-mongering, let's get to it.
Andrew, this update unfortunately begins the day after a pretty rough afternoon of sass. Coupled with it being a Friday, when my bottomless well of maternal love & patience shows that it does indeed have a bottom. HOOBOY! And it is dry as a bone in a desert. Coupled ALSO with it being the end of a particularly trying week of mostly solo parenting, because your father is making some seriously important bacon at work? It was not a good evening for your mother. No, it wasn't just you, your sister was definitely doing her good work as a 2-year-old, but wow! You and your sweet little sassy mouth. I can't be stunned here. I was (am) a serious smart-ass in my day. I don't even remember a time that I didn't feel compelled to smart-talk my parents. I was a decent kid.. but so much sass. It's all full circle, round here. At dinnertime last night, you were doing your best to rile Avery up, over anything and nothing at all.. which doesn't take much. You were pretty much finished eating, but staying the course at the table to fully taunt her. I told you that could go ahead and wash your hands and clear your spot because you were clearly done. To which you halfway mumbled "Sure, good thing I'm already done anyways." But since my sass-radar is fully honed and professional grade, I heard this and whipped around with a "what was that??" You timidly repeated yourself and I not-timidly told you that that was disrespectful and NO.
(*I actually started writing the above paragraph weeks ago, saved in draft, and have totally forgotten how the rest played out. Oops. Fact is, you have a mouth kid. One you will use against me many times over, I am sure. So, my parents' revenge. It is real and alive and thriving in my home. Good to know.)
Andrew, despite your taunting, you continue to be a prize-winningly awesome big bro. You have pretty endless patience - honestly, much more than I do. I think (I know) this is your father's genes at work. He has to be prettttttty patient with me, and I am so glad you got this part of him. Even when Avery is squawking about something on repeat, you more often than not maintain composure. You help her out of her coat and shoes when we all come inside, and I need to put groceries away or what-have-you. You assist her with whatever task she screams that she needs help with. Last night while she was still eating her dinner and we had all finished, you stayed standing by her highchair, helping her with her popsicle pouch thing... we told you we had it, and you could go on and play but you told us no, that you were her big brother and you were there to show her stuff...  so we let you, watching your patient way with her, even praising her when she did something herself that you showed her. You teach her things. All the time. It's a nice balance between the not-as-nice things you do or say. Just earlier, she was flipping through one of your Berenstain Bear books on your bed, as you did something at your desk. She flips the pages and just talks, as her own little 2.5 year old way of reading. A lot of it doesn't relate to the pictures on the pages, but some of it does, regardless it's all pretty damn cute and a gigantic blessing when I'm on the phone shooting the bull with Auntie Kelly. You shook your head condescendingly and matter-of-factedly said 'you know Avery, that's not reading.' And I quickly corrected you that indeed it was, it was perfect reading for a 2.5 year old. You definitely assert your physical edge over her, all in playful ways, especially when I'm not looking.. which.. has lead to injuries. To be discussed below in her wrap-up. For insurance purposes.
You have become quite the sporty little dude, too. Not that you haven't always loved to toss a ball around, but recently it's been with undeniable accuracy. And all the time. You work up a sweat quickly, but you really enjoy to.. I think the quicker you start to sweat, the more successful you feel, it seems. You go outside and just are NON STOP. It's exhausting to watch, must less participate in. But I do anyways, in between catering to Avery's whims, which are aplenty. At night, when we would go turn our Christmas lights on outside, I let you race a few houses down and back, to burn energy... as it's been too cold for our usual after-school-outside play. You run CRAZY fast, your jacket flapping in the wind. I don't put shoes on Avery, and choose to hold her so that she won't get in your way for these little sprints, because I can tell you like to push yourself, how fast you can go. I love watching you be a little kid. Sometimes I think back to you as a 16 month old, not walking so much just yet, and how I literally cried over this. Oh I was something special, first-timer that I was. So very worried about my first, this new living extension of my soul, and if this minuscule delay meant anything more serious. Let's not even regard the fact that I had no idea how full-on-walking/movement signaled a whole new world of pain for me (and you), but I really just was a giant walking ball of nerves. Of course, I still sort of am, in ways. But my point is, I remember a time when you didn't want to walk. And the here and now couldn't be more different and beautiful..  because kid, you never stop. It's just fun.
You ask such questions - yesterday's big one was 'why do I have brown eyes, and you have green eyes?' And my failed attempts at explaining dominant/recessive genes to you ended in me yelling for your father to come take a stab at it.. and even he was a little overwhelmed. In the end, you now think my green eyes - or anyone with non-brown eyes - is very very fragile and weak.
You are also a whirlwind of paper and pencil lately, son. It's funny, again - nostalgia warning red alert!! - I remember when I was teaching you to write, maybe 3 years old? Maybe 2.5? Maybe younger? I really can't recall.. should've written it down on a damn post-it... but I do remember being overwhelmed, simply because it's such a PROCESS. The right grip. The patience. The stamina. The line formations. The letter formations. Which morphed into words.. which morphed into sentences, and here we are - you just going off and writing stuff. Whatever you want to tell us, in written word form. And it's just.. yeah, amazing. That word is so overused in parenting, because everything is NOT amazing.. there's so much about it that is not amazing by any means. So much poop. But seeing your kid write pages of letters, expressing his feelings and wishes and questions.. there's no denying that amazingness. You are so into writing and creating and drawing that I have to give you a daily stipend of paper, lest you go through a ream without much thought or care. We've had talks of tree-conservation, which led to how money to buy said paper doesn't grow on trees..  but wait, it technically does... oh geez, yes fine, you can have your iPod for 10 minutes. Save the trees!
AVERY LOU. My girl. My nugs. I can't call you these things though - oh no. If anyone calls you anything - anything at all - you say 'NO, I a big girl.' Doesn't matter. One recent time we were over at Grandpa's house, Mamaw arrived and you went running into her open arms, and she said 'there's my little girl!' And you stopped dead in your tracks to immediately correct her - 'NO Mamaw, I a big girl.' And indeed you are. You're pretty hot and cold with how self-sufficient you want to be though. Typical for your age, so we never really know. Say you have a cold, or general toddler runny nose, and your nose is a virtual faucet of fluid. You'll scream 'I HAVE SNOTS!' (or you'll simply yell 'SNOTTERS!' - a takeaway from your father, I'm positive)... which will either be resolved by us bowing to blow your precious schnozz with a name-brand tissue, if you request it so... OR you will insist that you know where the rags are (for baths, in Andrew's dresser drawer) and you can manage this sitch yourself just fine, so check yo'self before you wreck yo'self. We never know, so it's a lot of rolling with the punches. If you are in a Daddy-phase, I am dead to you. Same for vice versa. And we really never know why or when the phases will present themselves...  Sometimes I think they correlate to if he's missing a lot of bath/bedtimes in a row from working late, which I can rationalize. But then sometimes it's all normal round here, no temporary parental absences to explain away a preference, and you show such a fierce allegiance to one of us, it cuts. I know it means nothing right now.. it's just you being two. But I see the you 15 years from now, and THAT cuts. I just am flat-out not looking forward to you disliking me. Something I know is inevitable and unchangeable and something I just need to be ready for and get over. Still.. It's going to go a lot deeper than you rejecting me over him to take you potty. It's probably going to involve mean girls and...boys. Smelly ones.
You love to count - and very accurately so. But forget about colors, for the moment. It actually really tickles me, how I'll hold up say, a banana, and ask you what color it is... you'll tap your own chin with your long little index finger a few times, deep in thought, and then proudly shout - BLUE! If you were my firstborn, I'd have you armpit deep in color-flash-cards by this point, but no. It actually makes me laugh when you mix up your colors... with such confidence. You'll get there. Yellow bananas are lame.
I caved and painted your nails recently, too. Your Auntie bought you some special just-for-kids nontoxic if accidentally ingested stuff, a year or so ago, when you were decades from being ready. I was on the floor doing puzzles or something with you one day recently, noting how much attention-span you had (weird!), and just asked you if you wanted me to paint your nails... you lit up and screamed YES! You probably had no idea what I was talking about. But we went to the bathroom, I sat on the ledge of the tub with a paper towel over my legs,  and explained how you had to be VERY very still. You had big understanding eyes, and I man-gripped your wiggle-prone little hands, splaying your fingers, and went to work. I did one hand and blew on it for a good minute or two before going to the next, you helping me with the blowing. CHILD. You have never sat more still for such an amount of time, like ever. Once I was done with everything, you couldn't stop looking at your fingers, just oohing and aahing and saying how we HAD to show Daddy. And after a few days passed and some fingers polish was chipped off, you gasped and ran to me, saying 'we gotta paint my nails again!!!' What a girl.
You need a lot of love, Nugget. Like, more than average...certainly more needy of physical love than your bro ever was. If you're having a tough time with something - be it a task or just in the midst of a meltdown over something ridiculous - your go-to is to stop and scream I! NEED! SOME! LOVE! And well... we always comply. I mean, really, how could we not? I never think about 'oh, we're reinforcing bad things by this!' or anything, even when you're crying over being disciplined over something.. we always give you love. And 9 times out of 10, after a few seconds of a full body hug, you'll top the cuteness by sniffling 'I feel much much better now.' It's serious cuteness right now. Even Andrew knows to give you love when it's requested.. if he's pissed you off somehow, or done something out of turn, all I have to do is say 'CONSOLE.' And he kneels down and let's you hang on to him, squeezing the love for as long as you need. He does a lot of consoling. It's good life training.
You call me 'ol Mommy'. You yell 'come 'ere ol mommy!' And I do. You give a perfect thumbs up, when the situation calls for it - sometimes you prefer to give a solid thumbs up as an affirmation instead of a verbal yes. You say hello to everyone and anyone within 5 feet of you, out in public. The best is when they stop to strike up a conversation with you, because you melt and I instantly want to give the stranger whatever cash I have on me. Would that be weird? You let me dry your hair every night that it's washed, like a pro. There's unintentional yanking, but you're too busy making weird faces at yourself in the mirror to care, while knawing on a wet toothbrush. You still sometimes praise yourself as you run to the potty - even though this has been solid since August. You'll be walking to it, mumbling 'I keep my unnerwears keen and dry!' You're very consoling, to us and inanimate objects alike..  if a teddy bear gets stuck somewhere, you'll rescue it and cuddle it, whispering in it's ear - 'it's's's ok..' Kissing it all over. And you still love to paint, as you know it'll turn out the same every time, despite my warnings to keep it on the paper...full-on body painting.. your own personal heaven..
You are obsessed with cupcakes - pretend play food. Anyone who crosses our front door will very quickly hear 'wanna go play cupcakes?'. And if you do go play cupcakes, you win in my book of awesome people.

I love both your little biscuitheads and hearts.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

late summer..early fall

Dear Kids,
Summer is pretty much over by now. We had a fairly glorious summer. We were in our new house, that we love. Every square inch of. The weather was not like it was the last summer or two (Satan's den of pain), we had short bouts of mild weather in the 80's! It was heaven. We went on our first family-of-4 vacation, to Grand Cayman and ok yes, we all were struck down like helpless moths to a severe Rotavirus, but we still made memories dammit. The Caribbean waters were still surreal, and we saw/held turtles, we stayed in a gorgeous condo (that we later desecrated with said Rotavirus), ate at beautiful restaurants, saw a sunset or two.. let's just leave it at that. And Pablo was attacked by a bird while he barfed in some bushes... ok NOW we can leave it at that.
Let's start with you, Andrew. I know I said I'd not discuss that trip - but something struck me about the whole experience. A few weeks after being back home, you started saying you missed Grand Cayman. And how you want to go back someday, very badly. We flat-out told you no, we would never go back, sorry kiddo. We left too much of ourselves there. Too much trauma! The HOA pool is nice though, right? It struck me that amidst that awful indescribable few days there, you still clung to the good memories. The ones of us swimming in perfect waters, together. You somehow indubitably blocked out the hours you spent sobbing between your father and I, both hooked up to IVs and worthless to hold you in our arms
, getting poked over and over and over for a successful IV in your tiny arm. Barfing and soiling your pants, in a foreign country. You only remembered the good. I cannot even put into words how that impresses me. I hope you can keep that selective positive memory as long as possible.

I started this summer with very ambitious plans to spend more quality time with you than normal. Which, really isn't THAT ambitious, given that most time I do spend with you, is quality! You get me ALL the livelong day long. So, regardless of what we're doing.. laundry, reading, eating, playing, arguing over your tone and attitude - I call it quality. Parenting experts probably wouldn't, but you see, I do not care about those people. But this summer, what I really wanted to happen was for ME to be more in-the-moment. To really soak up your boyhood, and make some pre-Kindergarten memories of my own. KINDERGARTEN. It was quickly approaching on the horizon, and sort of dictated a lot of decisions I made. Should we go out for cupcakes, just because? Did you earn that cupcake? Nope, not really, doesn't matter, you're starting Kindergarten and the march to total-independence is now upon us, so please, here, take all the cupcakes. Just take it, while I watch you eat it and imagine how you once fit on my arm - fingertips to inner-elbow. (*Your father haaaates it when I say things like that, he really doesn't like being reminded about the passing of time.) It's not that I'm sad about Kindergarten. What's there to be sad about? It's Kindergarten - unarguably your most fun year of school you will ever have. And if your Senior year is the most fun evar, then you're probably not getting into your first pick of colleges, so we'll have that conversation another time. So yes, Kindergarten.. it's just heavy, is all. Your grandmother kept your father out of Kindergarten (did not affect earning potential or social skills, thankfully!) and when I first heard that, years ago, I thought that was nuts. Just absolutely crazy. But you know, I get it. If I was a little more accepting and open with my neuroses, I might consider the same. It would be easier..  to keep you home. Tucked in the nest. To pretend that you're not growing up and out. Denial is not just a river in Egypt, my son. But, there you go. It's just hard. It's a milestone, and all milestones are hard.. and equal parts great.. and some parts sad. I think it's a lot to do with 'the bubble'. Since the day you were born, it's been our job to keep you bubbled. And I think we've done a pretty decent job with not keeping you so bubbled that you were aware of it. Or strange from it. You get little new freedoms all the time, as you grow, and it's really fun to watch... but you've never seen a movie with major violence or questionable language. We just don't see the point, given your age. We don't let you play with toy guns, because we don't want you to ever think guns are toys, even when they're packaged to be. We don't let you ride your bike, for any amount of time, without a helmet because SERIOUSLY SON IT'S YOUR HEAD. We don't tolerate, for one second, the notion of teasing or putdowns, in real-life or on TV. The word 'stupid' is punishable more than any other word. And I know, without a doubt, that you will soon become friends, by Kindergarten default, with children who have questionable language (by our standards, at least), watch violent movies, play with toy guns, tease other kids (possibly you), and ride barefoot and helmet-less on their bikes. And really, if we're being honest, that's what I kind of dread. The others. The not being able to keep you bubbled anymore because of this fact. You're a smart kid, and you very openly question others who choose to not wear helmets (let's pretend this is a metaphor for all questionable things in life), and so I have this comfort to help me through this phase..  knowing that you're a smart kid, and you continue to make smart choices, and we'll continue to raise you up to make them. What else can we do, really? And hopefully if you see a kid eating his own boogers you'll just walk away. That's just beyond help or reason.
But Andrew, you haven't given me an easy time this summer, behaviorally speaking (it seems to be the odd-years, 1..3..5..there HAS to be scientific backing for this, I'd really love to read something). You discovered, somehow (because I've become VERY conscious of not doing it myself) to roll your eyes, as a sarcastic way of receiving useless information. You know, like pick up those dirty socks and lean over your plate. Things that you know to do, but when you are told to do them get translated as an assault that is not worthy of your time. Major eye-rolling happening lately. And major 'tude, too. You furrow your brow (which is quite substantial, thanks to your father) and stare me down with SUCH a mad look, it cuts! Over nothing, and everything sometimes. And your tone would make any hormonal teen quiver in fear. It got to the point, where I felt like I was reprimanding you more than I was actually having any kind of fun with you, during the days. And I couldn't wait to get some separation from you and your furrowed brow at the end of the day. It made my time with AVERY seem easy. Does that tell you anything?! I sit at the kitchen table at night with you father, after you two are in bed, and as I was rehashing the difficult day one night, he came up with a plan. That turned out to be the solution (so far!). Because he's the better parent sometimes, who thinks logical effective thoughts. He suggested I make it a game of some sort, wherein you earn points for making good choices, and having a positive attitude. And if you reached some arbitrary number (we picked 30) by the day's end, you received a reward. The next day I told you about this new game, and you were ALL about it. You were rushing to do things to earn points - picking up socks left on the floor, opening the stair-gate for me as I went up or down..  you got insanely excited when you earned a point. The day was awesome. You would start to give me attitude and then I'd witness you stop yourself dead in your tracks, remembering that you would soooo not earn a point for THAT malarkey. The first day, you earned those 30 points by the end of the day, and you got your special-treat, which turned out to be playing Fruit Ninja alone with Daddy (no Avery interruptions, I do not blame you for seeing value in this!)..your pick!  however, after the bonding time was over, you resumed the entitled-ness that prompted us to start this point-system in the first place. Same thing happened on Day 2. A great day altogether, but once you reached your goal, you lost sight of how you earned them in the first place. After Day 2, we sort of slacked off with the end-of-day reward..  you earned the points throughout the day, but the busyness of the evening sort of made everyone forget about an actual treat to be had. You never said anything about it, so we didn't either. And after about a week, week and a half, you said - 100% unprompted - 'I don't need to write points down anymore, I'll just keep them in my brain. Because I know how to have a good attitude. And the points helped me remember this.' HOLY SELF-EFFICACY BATMAN! Works for us.
You also started Kindergarten this week. I did not cry. Well, let me specify, I did not cry when we dropped you off at school. Ask your Auntie Kelly what I was doing around noon the day before, when she called me with perfect timing as I made the stupid decision to read a poignant article about raising children. Who better to hyperventilate to than one's own sister?! (You'll know what I mean someday, I hope) You were dressed so sweetly, in a little striped blue and green top and khaki shorts and cute new shoes that I knew you liked. Your lunch was packed and heavy with my overcompensating anxieties that you wouldn't eat enough. We took a great many pics, which you smiled for, some genuine, some forced and trying your best to be patient. Your father made sure he had the first day of school on his work calendar, ohhhh, about a year in advance? He wouldn't have missed walking you in. In hindsight, I think he had more nerves than all of us combined. We navigated you through the throngs of kids/parents/grandparents to the gym, where we found your teacher and the line for your class. You were first in line, because of course. No child of mine is not going to be insanely early on such an important day! We said our goodbyes, but we lingered in the back.. you saw us as you looked up every few minutes, smiled and waved. So I'm sure you were confused with why we had not left. And then we didn't want you to look up and us not be there.. and then I remembered your teacher said us parents could walk to class that first day, so there ya go! Our anxieties were appeased and we got to stick around longer. We walked with you to class, and you put your backpack up and Miss Buchanan said to find a play-doh (set at each spot) and start playing. You found a blue one, of course, opened it and that was that. I leaned down and kissed your head and waited in the hallway (where Avery was getting very vocal in her stroller with her impatience).. and then your father went in and leaned in and kissed you and whispered something in your ear. He was decidedly misty when he returned to me. We walked home, the day flew by, I picked you up and you said Kindergarten was awesome but that you were very tired. By Friday (when you bought your lunch for the first time and said it was the best food ever), on the walk home from school, you said it had been a good week but you were ready to not have to work on the weekend. I hear that.
(*It's now over a month past that first day - I am awful about clicking publish, I know this - and you are still in love with Kindergarten. I think you love how strict it is, honestly. You're always talking about the rules and who broke what rule and just general dismay that anyone would break a rule. You are obsessed with their 'Honorable Character' system, and tell me how you earn whichever ones you earn with such pride. You earn 3-4 in a day sometimes, which I hear is pretty amazing, considering earning just one is the daily goal. All the things you're learning interest you, and I love that you come home with factoids for me. You said that the 4th graders come to read to you Kindergarteners, and you love having a big reading buddy. You wave and say your goodbyes to a half dozen kids just navigating the maze when school lets out, such a social guy. I'm so glad you're thriving there, because this is the next 13 years buddy! It doesn't get easier than this..  so I hope you soak up every second.)

Avery. My Lou! You are something else. In italics and all caps. You dance as you walk, arms swaying, singing some song that makes only sense to you. Something, something.. in da sky!!! Arm gestured out and up. You are throwing us all you got these days. Trying to redefine our definition of toddler-raising, and the easy peaceful path your brother paved for us. Mealtimes are... loud. It's a complete yin-yang experience, to look to my left and gaze upon Andrew, quietly devouring his meal, stopping to thank me for said meal.. and then fearfully glance to my right, where you reside in your throne, asking for NOT THIS! THAT! I WANT THAT! I WANT THAAAAT! Pease. And then you whack the sides of your throne with whatever utensil we gave you in naive good intentions that they would get used for strictly bringing food to mouth. We warn you that we will take your __ away if you play with it. We warn you, then we have to take it away (you never heed our warnings). You screech. We ignore. 10 seconds later and you're on to whatever else. We'll give you a second chance (as life is all about this concept), and it's hit or miss. Sometimes you'll be a classic 2-yr old and resort back to the misbehavior and other times a lightbulb will go off and the meal ends in peace.
You are a smart little toot. You recently have LOVED to count. Anything. And usually at bedtime when I am quite honestly dying to leave you for my end of the day solitude.. you'll count out ALL the animals on ALL the pages of whatever book you pick. And damn if you aren't accurate. It'd be one thing if you were all '1..10..9..yay!' but you count as accurately as Andrew, so I have to let you do it! I can't just glaze over and say good try! I'll be popping my eyeballs open with toothpicks, but so so proud of your accurate counting skills. You get all the way to 12.. skip a few..15,16,17, then say 19 about seven or so times.. then 20. But that 1-12 stretch is always 100% spot on. Most impressive, my 2 year old gal. You see no value in keeping clean hands when given the smallest most unassuming snack ever, but obviously your brain is just working overtime to count objects at the moment. Explains a lot, really.
Potty training? Still peeing/poopin' in the potty like a boss..  no news. Moving along.
Preschool! You love it. Even on the first day, there was no anxiety (on your part, at least).. you walked in, said hello to your teachers, and hunkered down at the puzzles table. I had to call you back over to give me and Daddy a kiss goodbye. You had no cares. You told them when you had to pee. You laid in your nap-mat (which you are obsessed with) but did not sleep, nor did the rest of the class, I later found out. You did nap the next time though, sawing logs with an arm splayed to your side, while the rest of the class played and yelled around you. I took a bajillion pics outside in the hall while trying to put my dropped jaw back in place. You LOVE the kids. You are drawn to other small people like a toddler moth to a baby flame. No personal space is given or requested. You love your teachers. We practiced their names for a couple weeks beforehand, several dozen times a day. Now, whenever I namedrop Andrew's teacher, you'll very loudly volunteer YOUR teacher's names too.. just making sure we don't forget that you are a schoolchild, too.
At nighttime, you have really started to give it your all with trying to say our prayers along with me. It's a doozy of a prayer, for a 2 year old, but we started it with your brother, who was old enough to quickly memorize it and actually understand the sentiment. We say it also with you, forgoing an age-approp one because we are 100% lazy. I'll just go ahead and quote it all here, lest 20 years from now when you read it, it's a distant memory to the 'thanks for not letting me die on my boyfriends Harley tonight' quickie thanks you send up nightly..... 'Father we thank thee for the night, and for the pleasant morning light. For rest and food and loving care, and all that makes the day so fair. Help us to do the things we should. To be kind and good. In all we do in work or play, to grow more loving everyday.' It's pretty cute watching you squint your eyes as tightly shut as you can, clasp your pudgy hands together, and garble out whatever words you can..  you really love the last 'grow more loving everyday, AMEN' part - because you get all of it, and you shout it proudly to overcompensate for the nonsensical rest of the prayers you are still learning. I lay you down, you grab your hippo and begin assaulting it, I tuck George in, cover you up. And then I sing a current fave song from a current fave show - Daniel Tiger (best show of all time to teach valuable lessons and catchy song diddys to accommodate them!) - I sing a very sappy.. 'I like you.. I like you.. I like you.. Just..the way.. you are!' And I tickle your cheek and say goodnight. You yell it back about 3 times before I can make my way to the door, I close the door and that's that. You wake up every morning somewhere between 6:30 and 7:30 yelling, I HAVE TO GO POTTY. Over and over and over, until we come in to retrieve you.
You still have the uncanny knack of making maximum mess out of minimum supplies. We played in the back yesterday afternoon, and I gave you & Andrew one cookie each, and as he neatly scarfed his, you licked yours. Then you licked your entire hand, and as your ONE cookie became a soggy licked cookie-shaped mound, crumbs forming a perfect circle around your happy little mouth, I thought to myself that this is how it's just supposed to be. You're not wrong for making such messes all the time. You're just you. You're not your brother, you're not the kid next door, you're perfectly messily you. Underneath all those crumbs, there you are, my sweet sweet girl, my nugs. I love you, crumbs and all. Both you kids are just so perfectly yourselves, confident in who you are, it just makes me so damn proud. One just has more crumbs than the other.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013


Preschool just let out for the summer. I had thought you would be sad and slightly out of sorts, what with the change in weekly routine and seeing some of your friends, but you were actually excited. I asked you why, and you stated simply that you liked spending time with me more. Can that never change???! Ever?! It's really and truly the only payment I need, you actually wanting to be with me. Last summer was... brutal. Just, not good. The temps were triple digits for several months straight, and your sister was at maximum-handful stage, needing very very regular naptimes to keep an even keel. You needed a nap still too, no doubt. So going out in the mornings (the only time of day that was remotely bearable) and being back by naptime was difficult at best. I swore on a thousand bibles that I wouldn't go down like that, this summer. I swore that I would enroll you two in class after class, activities galore, just to keep everyone occupied. Ask me if that has happened yet. Nope! Activities cost actual money, did you know this?! You will know this, when dance class for your future child costs several thousand dollars per semester. And the free stuff, like Vacation Bible School, only start for graduating Kindergarteners. But, I am optimistic. While your sister still plots my doom on a daily basis, it's getting way more manageable. And you, you are simply amazing. You have discovered Legos. And I mean the small stuff that breaks the skin when stepped on. No Duplos for you! The kind that breaks a mothers' weak nails, when you inevitably need help prying a minuscule headlight from another minuscule block. You want to build things, but in privacy, so that Avery doesn't destroy. You very politely tell me you'll be in your room, with the door closed, if I need you. Some days I don't even see your face for an hour.. you're just building away, in peaceful serene quiet! Selfishly, if I need to accomplish important things, I'll ask you to put the Legos on hold for a bit, because when you're off doing that, Avery is ALL up on me. I cannot do a thing. So I once more abuse your responsible age and nature to get things done around the house. 
Recently, on weekends, your Daddy takes you out to practice 2-wheel bike riding. You have totally mastered it in general, but the starting off on your own/stopping on your own needs some practice. This past weekend, you guys were out for a long time, during Avery's naptime, and your father called me, saying you fell and it was pretty bad, and you'd need washing up when ya'll got home. I was mentally prepped for gore. When you got home, you were sweating buckets, and I lifted up your shorts leg and saw the cutest, most unassuming scrapes and cuts ever.. despite your sobbing. I couldn't even stop myself from giggling, given how your father described it. I calmed you down, cleaned you up, and told you that getting skinned knees was a sign that you were trying new things, and that's always good! And that it's a sign you're being the way a big kid should be! And you gave me this totally condescending look, and said 'I was a big kid before I skinned my knees, Mommy.' True, and point taken. To further push my point, when we were doing our highs-and-lows later that day, I said my high was seeing those skinned knees because it meant you were trying your best and that you got back on the bike afterwards, which was the greatest thing...   yet another condescending glare, 'That was not your high, you are definitely kidding me.'
You call Avery 'baby'. Like, all the time, as if it were her God-given name. Your Grandpa noticed this, last time we saw him, and he asked about it.. if you call her that ALL the time, and it was kind of the first time I noticed myself. I have never thought to correct it, because it's pretty damn cute. You are constantly redirecting her, so I hear 'Baby! Baby! Baby, come over here...' all day long. Or rather, a lot of 'No Baby! Baby! No!!' 
She just loves you, she gets THE most excited to see you in the mornings. I am chump change, basically. I'll come in to her room, and she won't even stand up in her crib. She'll be wide awake, talking, but NOT getting up. I'll ask her if she wants to get up and go eat and she'll yell NO! But as soon as you walk in, she absolutely scrambles to her feet, screaming HI BROTHER!, wanting a hug on either side of the crib.. resting her bedhead on your shoulder, you patting her back til she pulls away. When you're both watching sometime on TV, you always ask her if she wants to lay on you, she always says yes. You'll pull a blanket up on your lap, and she'll lay sideways on it. You always help her with taking her shoes off, when we come from outside. You help hoist her onto things she's too short to reach, if she's struggling, asking her 'Do ya need help, baby?' You help her find objects she's looking for and having no luck finding. You're awesome.

**** It is now over a month later, I wrote all of the above and saved it in draft. Why can't I just finish a simple post?! SINCE THEN, we have sold our house and moved. (perhaps that is why I cannot finish a simple post) It was really a process for the record books. We had been casually looking for a new house for well over a year..  we had VERY narrow criteria, given that we wanted to stay within a mile or so of where we were. It's a densely populated area though, so maybe it wasn't TOO narrow a criteria. We loved our school we were zoned to, so that was never an issue. And we knew the schools around us were excellent, too. We just knew we had outgrown this house. A few houses popped up, but none really tugged at us. And yes, we were doing it completely ass-backwards, buying before selling because we were blessed to be able to do so, financially.. and because of our very particular criteria for a new house (not a good thing if you've sold your house and waiting around in an apartment!).. and because we flat-out did not want to have to rent anything in the interim for any period of time. The dense fog of curry that engulfed me when living in college-campus apartments still haunts me to this day. We also knew how incredibly hot the market was, and given the small area we were looking in, didn't want to have to settle on something just because it was there. We wanted to have the chance to jump on the perfect house when we saw it, and luckily that is exactly what happened.  Anyways. Interest rates were hitting alltime record lows, the market was really hopping, Andrew was yet to start Kindergarten, we knew the time was nigh! We saw 2 listings pop up and we scheduled viewings with our realtor. Actually - backtrack - ONE listing caught my eye (not this house) and I scheduled the viewing. THIS house listing caught Pablo's eye but I didn't give it a second look because it was above our price bracket..  I simply never looked at things I thought we couldn't have. Why get our hopes up?! Pablo requested that we view this house and I remember whining, asking whhhhy... but we went anyway. We went to the first house... and CURRY. Everywhere. The location was awesome, I loved how it was situated on the street and I loved the actual street (it was one of my favorites from day one).. but CURRY. That shit does not come out. Other things were not ideal about it either. Plus the neighbors were probably certifiable, so. That's something that can never be changed! We went on to THIS house.. and.. love. Head over heels love. Loooooove. We kind of knew the instant we went in. It was love. Our house. All those sappy annoying things. Put in an offer the day after and they accepted. Fast forward...  put OUR house for sale on the market 2 weeks later (after putting my blood, sweat, and tears into staging that sucker) and it sold in 1 day. Was not prepared for on onslaught of showings, so thankfully a friend let us bum at her house with 2 cranky kids while the house kept getting shown. 13 showings on Day 1 alone. 7 offers, 3 of which were straight cash. Took the safest bet of them all, and that was that. Had the showing service decline showings after Day 2, because we were done and the showings continued to pour in. We were shell-shocked. Our realtor didn't seem to be though, saying if a home is priced appropriately, this is what happens. I tend to agree, but I'm also giving due props to this crazy house market and my ridiculous staging efforts. (no one would know I returned 95% of those ridiculous things! kids would break them anyway) In a nutshell, though I know it's too late for nutshells at this point, it was an amazingly smooth process. Not without stress, oh no. Buying/selling with 2 small kids could never be without stress, regardless of how quick it happens. But damn. The whole process was one for the books. We are beyond grateful.

Now that that has been documented! Back to you two little stinkers.
Avery, you are my first ever two year old!!!! Oh sure, your brother was once two. But he was a 70 year old man, trapped in a 2 year olds body. Full of wisdom and respect for nature and other elderly and always showing a soothing calm tone. I never really understood the phrase 'terrible twos'. I was bewildered. (but well, the 3's came and that pretty much kicked my ass and is not relevant to this two-year-old tangent) You have shown me, Avery! You have taken my bewilderment and squeezed it in your strong sticky hands and smashed it against a freshly mopped kitchen floor.
Example, the first: Lollipops. They are your drug of choice. Given only on rare occasions, lest the obsession manifest itself further. They are rationed with the best of intentions. You see one, you want, you rage. It's amusing, I won't lie. You'll have just sat down in your highchair for a meal, pushing food around, not eating what is before you, and you'll request 'Lollipop peeeease!' as if it was the most normal, most standard thing to receive after having rejected your meal. And I very calmly, very neutrally say 'No.' And then you wail. And loudly request again, IT'S SO CUTE that your mind thinks I will have just changed my decision just now. I can't get over it. I say no again, telling you that you have food on your tray. More wailing, more kicking, more unrest over what surely seems like the worst injustice ever to you. It is hard not to laugh right in front of you.
Example, the second: Public Outings. Sure, we don't have to take you anywhere. But, life. It must happen. And much of that is outside of our home. One of which, recently, was the pit of parental despair called furniture shopping. Thankfully, the good people at the furniture knew my face since I had been in browsing so many times over the past 6 months... so decisions were made fairly quickly. But mercy. You were not keen to eat a snack in your stroller. Or to not yell so loud we had to check our ears for trickles of blood. Restaurants are also fun. You are either in performing mode, meaning you acknowledge every person within spitting distance, loudly, until they (loudly) acknowledge you back. Which is cute, the first 30 times. This mode isn't SO bad.. but it's usually quickly followed by impatient non-hungry table-crawler toddler beast mode. No amount of pre-restaurant starvation could cajole you into eating what is put in front of you. No amount of handheld device distractions could tempt you to not want to exit your highchair and run across the street for a 6-pack. This sitting and eating and being civilized thing is simply not yet formed in your being yet. So we do a lot of curbside pickup. And our grocery bill is astronomical.
Example, the third: Curiosity. Did you not hear about what it did to the cat? I know I know. I shouldn't complain about this one. It's a good thing, a great thing.. a thing that I was very very grateful was somewhat stunted in your brother for a long while. If you see a hole, some part of your body goes into it. No matter how bacteria-infested or pungent or sharp that hole is. You go to it. When you are redirected from curiosity that might have dangerous consequences, you mostly are receptive, for 10 seconds. You say 'ooooooohh! ok!' So nice! So obedient! So short-lived. You have quite the short-term memory, so unless that thing you just did ACTUALLY caused you pain (to remember it by), you go there again. I don't ever let you walk independently on bridges with room to fall off of, no matter the height. Because no. You are not trusted! I'm not sure when this trust will come, but I'll be carrying/strapping in your curious behind for a while, I'm thinking.
Example, the fourth: Independence. Your brother had the true spirit of a seasoned adult, when it came to independence. Why put your own shoes on if someone is offering to do it for you? Why button your own shirt if there's a shirt-buttoner available? Makes perfect sense. Not to you, however. You are adamant on scaling your highchair and seating yourself. If I so much as touch you during this process of grunting and maneuvering, you scream NO I GOT IT!!! And go back to the floor to start from scratch, so it can be all you. If I help you on your changing pad, you scream NO I GOT IT and get down (even if you are 99% on the pad) and start from square one. If I were to calculate time-lost to actually helping you and you starting over and watching you struggle your way through it all yourself, it's probably just the slightest bit more time-efficient to watch you struggle. I'm slowly learning to absorb this memo, be patient with me.
You scream 'I'm thirsty!!! I'm thiiiirstyyyy!!!!' And ask me where your water is. Ask me. Do it. It's inches from your person. Every. Time. We'll tell you to drink something if you are thirsty, but each time we say this, it only furthers your rage.
You see me give your brother a piece of bread at a meal, so you naturally ask for some too. I give you a piece, because I live to meet your needs. You shove it back at me, screaming 'I DON'T WANT IT!' So I take it. Calmly. I know this routine. I know what will come next... you screaming 'I WANT BREAD!!!' at the top of your strong pink lungs. I do not give you the bread. I go into the pantry to breathe deeply.
I'm recording these things because it is true, how easily we forget. I won't remember these things years from now, unless I read this. I'll yearn so hard for these toddler-years, I totally know this. So really, it's to make me laugh. To remember the day to day frustrations and how it really was.
These toddler things are countered by all the cute, believe it or not. So much of it. Even when you are dishing out the sass at warp speed, it is pretty damn cute. You recently have taken to thumping your chest like a misguided gorilla child when you say something that requires emphasis. I asked you to pick up some socks the other day that you dumped out everywhere, before you went along to something else. And you thumped your chest, pursed your lips and said, very sassily 'Don't say that to me!' Just over and over, thumping that chest. Do you see? Frustratingly cute. It sustains us all.

All in all, this summer if shaping up gloriously. New house, new memories, new hurdles of toddler rage and big kid deep conversations. It's pretty nice.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013


Dearest Avery,
Today you are two (or, you were when I started this, who knows when I'll be done with it)! When you are reading this someday, probably in your twenties, possibly even with children of your own, I want you to keep in mind that I'd take a bullet for you. I'd throw myself in front of a moving vehicle to save you. I'd wrassle a bear or a pack of hungry meerkats. And all similar acts of mother love. I want you to know this and keep this in the front of your mind, because this recap? Might not be pretty. It's going to be chock-full of real life scenarios, and how you were, at age almost two. What's the point in sugar-coating, and tricking my memory? Memories do that on their own anyways. It's going to sound like you've driven me to the official brink, and it might not translate as love. But just know that it's all love. Insane unexplainable love. Capisce?
You talk. A lot. Dear God in Heaven. It's very sweet, your voice. For the first half hour of the day. Your voice, child! It's so high-pitched!!! I didn't know nature/God made voices this high. Truly. I'm waiting for some toddler-stage change to take place, because I remember your brother's voice was so sweetly high pitched in the beginning, and the older he got, the deeper it sounded. I don't think this is going to happen to you. Compound this incredibly high-pitched sweet voice with the desire, no, the demand, to be heard all day... and there you have it. Oftentimes unintelligible words and phrases, said at top decibel, over and over. And. Over. You sometimes throw in a outstretched hand, like a politician making a grand point, for good measure. As if this hand motion will help me to better understand you. You also sometimes get very very close to me, and whisper this word or phrase that I'm too dumb to understand. That's pretty much the cutest ever, though. My impatience is crumbled when you do that, because it's indescribably cute. Imagine a deliciously cute little girl, getting mere centimeters from your face, whispering the word 'tassle'... and this look of 'you understand now, don't you?!'.... Yes, I melt from that.
You love to say 'come on Mommy'.. When you want to show me something, you say it, as you do your politicians hand gesture. You also say come on (10 times in a row) when I am driving. And you're in the back-seat, wanting to show me something in a book you're reading. Oh your backseat requests and demands, it's endlessly entertaining. You'll say GO with increasing anger, at any stop sign or red light. I remember your brother went through this stage, but with much less rage. I somewhat recall it being as simple as me explaining 'red means stop. green means go. we have to wait for green.' or something like that. It was a non-issue, like most things. You either have already grasped this concept and are now just toying with my sanity (my hunch), or you just haven't had it click yet (not likely, you're smart. like a velociraptor). Backseat stress is actually in full throttle, currently. Well. Probably not. This is probably just the tipping point, I know. But you and Andrew have started to .. squabble. It's hard to say who's doing more antagonizing. Because you both have your own little tics and quirks. If Andrew wiggles his fingers anywhere near you, like he's about to tickle you (but still far away), you get VERY pissed. You scream 'NO! STOP!' And he hasn't even touched you. I taught him the meaning of the word 'antagonize', and I use it frequently. I warn him to not antagonize you. But of course, he does. And then sometimes it is ALL you doing the instigating. Even when you don't really plan to. Once recently, I honked at a car, and you perked up and yelled TRAIN! (around 40 times in a row).. then after that period of fun, you wildly pointed in random places, desperately looking for the train (that was my car-honk), yelling 'here it comes! here it comes! train! here it comes!'... Andrew tries so hard to kindly redirect you, because oh my gosh. Just do that, right now. Say TRAIN! and HERE IT COMES! in a very high voice, 30-40 times in a row. (*there is no train. ever.) You kind of loathe yourself now right? It's hard, redirecting you sometimes, when your reset button needs pushed. Without sounding like a horrible person (too late, I know. I'm human). It's a lot for a 5 year old to be around sometimes, especially one as mild as your bro. If he was more of well.. a total spazz? I think you two would be more on the same page. But you know, you are both perfectly you. He's truly the yin to your yang, as much as I really dislike that cliche. If there was a time to use it, it would be referencing the two of you. I'm lucky that I get a front row seat, watching your sweet little relationship bloom.
You are very very sweet at heart, as much as I give you a hard time for your constant spunkiness and rage..  We were just earlier reading books, me reading to you and Andrew, and you were ALL up in my grill, trying to turn the pages before it was time, blocking Andrew's view of the book, and just the normal chaos...  I told you to sit on the couch with him, and you very loudly said NO! with an angry finger pointing in my face. I didn't blink, just held my 'I mean bidness, child' stare.. and within 5 seconds, no joke, you said 'I sorry!' and gently patted my shoulder with your sweet pudgy little hand. We just never know what we're going to get with you. Sometimes a situation like that would have escalated into a ridiculous boneless heap on the ground, other times it ends in an apology that melts my weary mother heart. It's fun, the not knowing.
I do sense the slow uprising of drama, though. Whenever you are touched when you ought not be touched (watching your stories, mostly), you yell OWWW! I know a simple nudge or touch doesn't hurt you, because you are a bull in a china shop. You faceplant ALL the time, almost never cry, slam into things as a daily routine with nary the tear. You simply like to say OWWW! dramatically as a way to assert yourself. One of the many ways you assert yourself, of course. It's cute, for now. Aside from a firm grabbing if you're bailing towards the street area, you never feel physical pain from us, as we aren't a spanking family. Or a swatting one, something I can't wrap my head around. You're welcome for that! I imagine I'd be hearing a chorus of OWWWS all day long if we punished opposed to disciplined.
You love love love to sing your ABCs. I have been singing you the ABCs since you popped out of the womb, basically. I did the same with your brother. And he was singing the ABCs just like you are, at around the same age. I think he sang it with a bit more efficiency, but you're in it for the theatrics, obviously. You say about every 5th letter with proficiency, but your really move & shake and sway while you do it. And at the end, there's a very emphatic 'sing wif MEEEEE!'.. big outstretched arms, etc. Other current favorite songs include Mickey. No, not as in Mouse, as in the 1982 hit by Tony Basil. You request it at bedtime when I'm singing you any song you want, while putting on your diaper/lotion/pjs. I don't know all the words, so it's a lot of made up gibberish, but I hold the beat fairly well and you get positively giddy. You love Tainted Love as much as your brother. You know what songs your father and I respectively prefer. Say, if a Coldplay song comes on, you'll say 'Daddy song'.. and if anything by Eddie Vedder comes on, it's 'Mommy song'...
You have developed sort of an evil-villain/genius laugh. This surprises no one. It's very drawn out and exaggerated, and I think it scares new friends we make at the park.
You love to be chased. You'll run off screaming 'I get you Mommy!' (yes despite the fact that I'm the one getting you). Recently, as you run, you grab at your rear end, and say 'Git the booty!' Because you positively LIVE for me say 'I'm gonna get that booty!' and I give it a little pinch. You squeal at the top of your lungs.
In similar fashion, you love to run, away from me. This is a work in progress, because obviously it's not ideal to have you run from me in any place other than home/a contained area. I say STOP but you just keep on. Yesterday, this happened, I said stop, and you STOPPED. I instantly poured on the reinforcement, saying how that was great stopping and great listening and that it made me so happy. You seriously melted, smiling and cuddling into me, just lavishing in the praise. It was pretty cute.
You are a momma's girl, through and through. You cling to me, something fierce. Even your father confirms that he too never recalls a phase/time when Andrew so distinctly preferred one of us over the other. It tickles us, how you choose me, over and over, without fail. It's just the beginning of the beautiful co-dependent mother/daughter relationship. It's too complex for words and too complex for this here blog, just yet. For now, it's just sweet and cute and yes, tiring.
At bedtime, I read you a quick book, and if I'm lucky I get about 30 seconds to just hold you before you tell me 'GO! BED!' before I put you in your crib. I tell you how much I love you, and I always say 'do you know you're my best girl?' and you always say 'yeeeeah...' and smile and nod and just eat it up.
I'm so lucky to have a daughter. I'm even luckier to have you. Happy 2nd birthday, Nugs.