Lila is three and a half

Dear Lila,

You are three-and-a-half and one amazing little human. When I try to find the right words to describe you, I immediately come up with: exuberant, thoughtful, intentional, determined, creative, silly and affectionate.

You are a super big sister to Maya. You engage with her, talk in a silly “baby” voice on her behalf, and are always looking out for her. On any given morning we might hear a frantic, “Mom! Sister’s escaping her room! She’s crawling away down the hallway!” And when she tries to grab your things, chew on your toys or simply requires our attention when you also need us, you’re exceedingly patient. You’ve never once asked us to leave her to tend to you, or complained about the fact that you’re usually forced to share our attention. You celebrate her milestones and play nicely with her, although we continue to work on what gentle feels like. You take the responsibility of keeping small toys (choking hazards) away from her with an unexpected sense of maturity, offer to share your food with her, and give her “kissing hands” when you leave for school.

You love the outdoors. You will spend hours outside entertaining yourself. You collect rocks and seeds, build houses for bugs, construct obstacle courses using miscellaneous things you find, and chat with your friend Everett over the wall about any range of amusing topics. You have no issue running around without shoes, and certainly are not intimidated by getting dirty.

Favorite activities:

  • Drawing, especially pictures of our family or your friends.
  • Playing with the excessive menagerie of plastic animals you’ve acquired (making them play-doh “pajamas,” building schools and stables for them out of magnet tiles and bringing them into your bath).
  • Making “surprises” and presenting them to everyone in the house. A surprise is one of your toys hidden inside a Russian nesting doll, given as a present.
  • Reading books
  • Watching clips of your favorite movies or shows. Screen time is limited to weekends, and it’s definitely a top choice when presented. Right now your obsession has taken a dramatic shift from The Lion King to The Land Before Time.
  • Talking about volcanoes and lava and molten rock, following a lengthy study of this in school.
  • Getting and opening the mail, and also making your own packages, taping them shut, and giving them to us.

When asked what you want to be when you grow up: “A tooth fairy. Or a lion or a dinosaur.”

Things you dislike:

  • Having your hair brushed
  • Going to bed
  • Mosquitos

Fun Facts:

  • You eat pretty much everything, even things that are spicy, or just not typical fare for children, like…chicken wings, raw broccoli, seafood, nuts, etc. The only things you tend to refuse are squash (that is, if you know it’s squash) and bell peppers.
  • You’ve been able to recognize and write your letters and numbers for a while, and now have started to identify letters in the environment, like a logo on a shirt, or a stop sign.
  • You have a very specific way we’re required to arrange your blankets to “make them peaceful” before bed each night. You also insist that your entire room is picked up before you go to bed.
  • You have insane memorization capabilities – your teachers comment on this as well. You hear a story once and can immediately recite parts of it, and are constantly memorizing movie lines and song lyrics and entire books.
  • You are a master negotiator. If we tell you three more minutes, you’ll ask for four. If we offer two strawberries, we’ll hear, “Welllll, how about just three?”

You’re simply a delight to be with and endlessly amusing. We love your spirit and energy and are constantly in awe of you.


About Last Night: A Tale of Poop and Parenthood

No matter how exhausted I am, I procrastinate going to sleep. Life is chaos these days, and I crave the semi-quiet hours after the kids go to bed. So after dinner and dishes and laundry and lunches I like to read or write or contemplate putting the clean laundry away before realizing that’s a terrible use of time. I also like to completely zone out and stare at my phone. The night hours are sacred.

But last night? Last night I went to bed early. EARLY!

I’ve been working out at 5:30 a.m. for the past few weeks, and with intermittently sick kids, sleep has been an endangered commodity in our home. I was giddy with the idea of turning in early and getting some quality rest.

But you know that saying, “[Wo]man plans and God laughs?” Well, let’s talk about how I got that reminder last night.

Here’s my timeline:

9:45 p.m. – I get in bed. Stretched, tossed my hair like a Disney princess, smiled, exhaled deeply and turned on white noise. I triumphantly passed out in 14 seconds from sheer exhaustion.

2:09 a.m. – Jolted awake when Maya wakes up screaming. Enter stage one of denial. Pretend it’s a dream.

2:26 a.m. – Maya continues to scream. I place a pillow over my head and aggressively start willing her to sleep in my mind. This can work, I know it can.

2:34 a.m. – I admit to myself she is not going back to bed, and since she’s been sick, and Jim is sick, I go to check on her. She needs snuggles and Tylenol. I trudge to the kitchen with her.

2:35 a.m. – I near the kitchen and smell something. I can’t quite place it, but it’s bad. Smell Maya’s bum…nope, not the source.

2:35 a.m. – Oh. Oh no. NO NO NO NO. Discover my dog had diarrhea in about 16 spots – all carpeted. Start to gag. Still holding crying baby. Question whether to put baby down to clean up poop, or desert the poop minefield to get the baby to sleep. Baby wins.

2:50 a.m. – Finally get Maya back to bed. Spend 20 minutes cleaning up dog poop, questioning my existence and true purpose in life. Lots of swearing. Gagging. Mild rage.

3 a.m. – Go back to bed. Too mad to sleep. Then even madder I’m wasting precious sleep time being mad about dog shit.

5 a.m. – Alarm goes off to work out. NO NO NO NO. Too early. Snooze.

5:10 a.m. – Re-awaken to a strange noise. It’s Lila singing “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” at the top of her lungs, two hours before she usually wakes up. Again question my existence.

5:11 a.m. – Enter Lila’s room to discover every single toy and book strewn about. It’s basically like her room was struck by a violent toy tornado. The damage is impressive and terrifying all at once. I tell her to go back to bed and she launches into a most insane tantrum. This kid wakes up happy every single day. Why today was the once-in-a-lifetime anomaly I have no idea.

5:30 a.m. – Get Lila calm and settled through a series of positive reinforcement, hugs and shameless bribes. YES YOU CAN HAVE SPRINKLES FOR BREAKFAST. Eat my pre-workout meal. Curse my dog a few more times.

5:40: a.m. – Start workout. Initially feel like an uncoordinated donkey. End up feeling like a majestic unicorn gladiator.

6:30 a.m. – About to finish workout, feeling slightly redeemed about my life. Maya starts crying. I pause my workout to go and get her. She immediately poops. NOOOO I HAVE ONE MORE SET OF EXERCISES LEFT. Again the quandary of trying to finish something but needing to clean up poop. My OCD tendencies are having a ball with this one. Alas, the poop must wait as I finish the last few minutes of my workout.

6:40 a.m. – Change poopy diaper, get ready for work. Vow to go to bed early again tonight.


Maya at 8.5 months

Maya, you are such a sweet and happy baby. You continue to love snuggling, especially as separation anxiety starts to set in. You have two teeth, are attempting to crawl and can pull up to your knees.

You enjoy jumping in your bouncer and playing with your sister’s toys. You love solid food and have yet to refuse anything.

You are fascinated by the dogs and electric toothbrushes and put everything in your mouth.

We love your peaceful disposition and inquisitive nature, and watching your personality really develop as you become more interactive and curious.


10 times I won at life and/or parenting

Ever scroll through your iPhone camera roll and pause to scrutinize an image, to try to figure out what the heck it is, and why you took a picture of it?

It seems I have a lot of those images.

I never realized how often I did it, but apparently I’ve been compiling a whole collection of photos of awkward moments in my life. I’m not a hoarder, but I think I’m an over-documenter.

I hope this array of photos and (memorable?) moments makes you laugh, because each one of them may have made me cry at the point it was taken, but now, in retrospect, is kind of hysterical.

At the very least, I hope this gives you a “me too” sigh of relief and some extra reassurance that no one’s life is as peaceful or organized as their instagram feed may portray.

  1. That time I backed out of the garage before the door was fully up. Because it’s tricky, you know, to wait the full 10 seconds it takes for it to open. This may shed light on how smoothly getting out of the house with two kids goes for us on weekdays.
  2. When you wake up and realize there is no toilet paper. Like, none. So you say a prayer of thanks for Amazon Prime Now.
  3. Ever put up a Happy Birthday banner in August, and get around to taking it down in December? Truth be told, the pink butterflies grew on us.
  4. The day I actually got Maya to daycare ON TIME and she threw up all over me in the parking lot.
  5. Last month we went on a family picnic (my idea) and right after this picture was taken it started pouring and everything got soaked.
  6. When your toddler drops a hair tie in the toilet (before flushing) and you have to fish it out so it doesn’t “go into the ocean like Nemo.”
    hair tie
  7. Why is there a Maglite in my bathroom, you may ask. Well, sometimes when a toddler chews a piece of her Lion King book into a spit wad, and shoves it up her nose at 10 p.m. and tells us – through hysterical sobs – that “SIMBA IS IN MY NOSE,” a Maglite, tweezers and strategic nose blowing come in handy. Note: it was successfully dislodged, and she no longer sleeps with books in bed.
  8. The same toddler who dropped the hair tie in the potty and and put the King of Beasts up her nose also managed to lean forward into the menorah on the first night of Hanukkah this year, and singed a few hairs off the top of her head.
  9. We’ve had the winter crud in our house for three weeks. This is a snapshot into what it’s been like to keep two sick kiddos entertained while they feel awful.
  10. And here’s our latest family photo, which I adore. But this image came after Lila got dog poop on her pants (outside bottom of her right leg – squint and you’ll see it), and had to be bribed with a lollipop to cooperate. Maya wasn’t feeling well, so the world’s happiest baby refused to crack a smile for a single photo. Jim and I had slept a combined six hours the night prior, and everyone was in a fabulous mood.
    pro photo

I like real life. I like oversharing. I love when things get messy and gnarly and hilarious. Each of these moments was HARD at the time, but I love looking back at how they weave together to tell our story in this season.


Maya at 7 Months

Dear Maya,

You are seven months old and a true light in our lives. You are the happiest, most calm and content baby, with a truly sweet nature.

You weighed 19.4 last week and are wearing mostly 6-9 month or 9 month clothes. You love solid foods and have been interested in everything we’ve offered. You still are sporadic in your interest for bottles, but you’re growing like a weed so we let you tell us when you’re actually hungry.

You love your bouncer, looking at yourself in the mirror, and when mommy or daddy hops or runs back and forth to and from where you’re sitting. You are drooling and chewing, but no teeth yet. You are generally a great napper and have slowly gotten better at night.

The only things you really don’t like are having your nose wiped or being over tired (don’t blame you on either).

You like to scratch different surfaces, which seems like a soothing habit because you do it kind of rhythmically, like you’re strumming a guitar.

You made your first trip to Tucson around Thanksgiving and handled it like a champ.

Your giggles light up the room, and you give the best smiles and snuggles. Even when you aren’t feeling well, you’re still so happy and easygoing.

We adore you.


This season of life

This season of life is amazing and exhausting and rewarding and frustrating.

There are moments each day so bursting with love they feel holy. Moments where I could simultaneously laugh and burst into tears. Moments where the most intense joy is paired with a bittersweet awareness of how quickly time is passing.

In this season of life, there are slow walks up and down the street, collecting rocks and pondering lost pet signs. There are daily battles to put in ponytails. There are endless questions.

There are car seat buckles, bedtime stories and missing shoes.

And laundry. There is so much laundry. Clean laundry and dirty laundry and folded laundry we will never put away.

In this season there are picnics at the park, silly voices and the best giggles.

There are squeals of joy and so many firsts. What a thing – to have a life so full of firsts.

There are two full-time jobs and two morning drop offs and diapers and baths and bottles and water bottles. There is sheer exhaustion.

There is not a lot of rest, but a great deal of joy. There is fear and guilt and anxiety. There is a running to do list in my phone and countless emails to myself with reminders.

There is endless wonder and awe. There is more love than you felt you ever deserved.

And an awareness that you are doing it. You’re really doing it. One crazy, magical, maddening moment at a time.


Tiny human, huge heart

Lila knows that when I’m putting Maya to bed, it’s ‘quiet time’ in sister’s room. She can come in and out and play quietly with books or puzzles, but there’s no talking or loud noises.

For a three-year-old, she’s surprisingly respectful of this rule. Honoring it with an air of self-importance — as if she’s in on a special secret or privilege. She must be able to recognize that by 7 p.m., mom’s hanging on by a thread, and it’s all hands on deck to get the wee one to sleep.

Usually she plays by herself in the living room, since it’s not all that entertaining to sit quietly in a dark room, but one night last week she hung out with me while I fed Maya. She has this enthralling way of playing right now — whispering to herself and darting around, making up silly voices and acting out stories only she understands.

At one point, she was standing on a short stool, when it tipped backward and her chin hit the edge of Maya’s dresser. I froze during the following three-second window. The window every parent knows. The one that determines whether the next moment will contain an oblivious bounce right back to playing, or, a slowly escalating scream.

It was dark, but I could see that she had bitten her tongue, and her eyes started filling with tears. She was silent though, so I was thrown as to how badly she was actually hurt. What happened next made my heart nearly explore.

She stepped down off the stool, and very slowly walked out of Maya’s room into the hallway, hands on her mouth, clearly holding back sobs. It wasn’t until she was halfway down the hallway that she burst into tears.

I got up and walked out to her, and through her cries she managed to get a few words out,

It really hurt.


I bit my tongue.


Didn’t. Want. To wake. Sister.

[snotty sobs]

And it’s moments like this one that make every single difficult one fade into non-existence, a thousand times over.

To see a little one demonstrate such restraint. To see her love for her sister materialize.

To know that you’re raising a tiny human with a huge, huge heart.