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.
    garage
  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.
    tp
  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.
    banner
  4. The day I actually got Maya to daycare ON TIME and she threw up all over me in the parking lot.
    puke
  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.
    picnic
  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.
    maglight
  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.
    menorah
  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.
    floor
  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.

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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.

[wail]

I bit my tongue.

[wail]

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.

 

 

Maya at Four Months

Maya, you are four months old and an absolute delight.

I write lots of posts about you in my head, day after day, but getting them out and published has been tougher (time is a sparse commodity these days).

You are just the sweetest baby. You are so happy and content – I’ve never seen anything like it. You have a calm and joyful nature, full of smiles and rarely ever crying or upset. Even when you do cry to momentarily alert us that you’re done napping, or would like some attention, as soon as we smile at you and greet you, you give us a huge smile as if to say, “Just kidding guys! All good here!”

Your teachers have told me verbatim, “We love her. She’s the kind of baby we all dream of taking care of.”

You maintain some strange eating habits. Sometimes you only want to eat a few times a day, and are easily distracted or disinterested in nursing or bottles, yet you’re healthy and growing so quickly! At your four-month well check you were in the 80th percentile for weight (15.12), 89th percentile for height, and your head was in the 93rd percentile.

You can roll onto your side and are much more interested in tummy time now that you can lift your noggin up and look around. You discovered your toes this week and now we can find you peacefully holding onto them while observing the world around you.

You love to snuggle and nuzzle in my neck which is my favorite right before your bedtime. You like the bath, your carseat and being worn.

You are endlessly patient with your big sister’s efforts to play with you and feed you, and seem to enjoy watching her. You are chattering, cooing and shrieking all the time, and finally getting into a good sleeping routine. Your bedtime is 7 p.m., and after a dreamfeed around 10, you’re typically only up once more to eat before waking for the day around 6:30 or 7 a.m.

We love you so much and how you have completed our family.

 

Lila is 3!

It is absolutely surreal to consider the fact that we have a three year old. I know it’s real life, and that you are ours, yet you are so profoundly amazing I can’t help but question how it’s possible.

Three years ago you arrived and life has never been the same. You bring a little magic wherever you go.

You are bold and kind, determined and loving. You have strong opinions and a completely joyful and silly nature. When you are angry, you are REALLY angry, but as quickly as the storm clouds roll in, they dissipate into sweetness and giggles again.

You fascinate me with your attention to detail and your memory. Your teachers constantly comment on how in touch you are with other people’s feelings. There is such a sweet innocence to your enthusiasm for just about everything, and the way you exclaim different things with emphatic joy.
“Mommy, maybe sister can take a bath too, and then WE’LL ALL BE SO CLEAN TOGETHER!”
“Mommy, you didn’t take a bath yet. You smel like a hot dog.”

“I can listen to music? YAYYYYY!!!

You can entertain yourself for hours in the back yard. Picking up seeds, running through the grass talking to yourself.

You are obsessed with the Lion King, and haven’t grasped the fact that there are other lions that exist in the world besides Simba and his family. Every lion we see – anywhere – is automatically Simba. That’s adorable and hysterical.

You love to listen to music and have an unbelievable ability to memorize song lyrics. You are very clear though that no one else can sing with you. Ever.

You were very concerned with when your birthday started and ended. When your party ended, you asked, “I’m not three anymore?” And when you woke up the day after your birthday, you demanded to know whether your happy birthday banner was still hanging up, because if not, your birthday would be over.

Sometimes you drive us crazy with endless questions and demands, and an inability to sit still, but mostly we find ourselves staring at each other incredulously, or laughing out loud, speechless with our awe and love for whatever you just said or did.

You are a sweet helper with your sister and I can’t wait to see you two grow together. You are the least picky eater EVER. You don’t like having your hair touched or going to bed. You love books and are a whiz at puzzles.

There are times I’m short with you, or unfair, and I know I screw up all the time. There are moments I cry when I think back on how I could have done better, and wonder if I let you down. Because you are my world, and every day I want to be better, and do more, for you. You have my whole heart.

You are our everything. Happy third birthday, Lila Bear.

I’m in a glass case of emotion!

Next week Lila will enter her next room at our wonderful preschool, and these transitions only seem to get harder. Each year we grow more attached to our teachers, and more grateful for the role they play in our daughter’s growth. But most poignantly, we grow more aware of how quickly time is passing. How many stages are flying by before our eyes. How we’re still needed every day, but not the same way we were even a few months ago.

There may or may not have been a gaggle of crying moms in the classroom this morning. Lots of feelings going on. And I’m particularly “feely” right now. Preschool transitions, going back to work, post-partum hormones up the wazoo. Not bad feelings, just lots of them, enough to make me quote Ron Burgundy a few times a day.

glass

While it’s personal, I’m sharing what I wrote to Lila’s teachers this week, mostly so that she can read this in 30 years and recognize that there were some pretty special people in her life from years she may not even remember. These teachers are incredible.

*****

It’s hard to believe Lila’s year in this class is ending, and even harder to explain to all of you how incredibly grateful we are for your love, nurturing, patience and support. There are honestly no words to appropriately thank you for the pivotal role you’ve played in the development of our daughter, and we will always be thankful to you and think of you like family.

When Lila started in this room, she wasn’t even two yet, and the youngest one out of the whole group. The first few weeks were rough – lots of crying (Lila in the room, then usually me in the hallway walking away), but even on the most dramatic drop-offs, I always knew she would be just fine moments after I left. Whoever was there would scoop her up and hug and love on her, which was so comforting. No one told her to stop crying – you validated her feelings and helped her work through them. You got her into a great routine of feeding the fish or the chickens each day as a distraction, and then helped her stay involved in the process by learning to open the door for me as I left.

Those small efforts meant so much, because they transformed emotional mornings into triumphant ones. Now, a year later, Lila sprints to her classroom, opens the door herself, and when I pick her up I most often hear, “NO MOMMY, I WANT TO STAY HERE.” I love how confident she has become, and that is a credit to you.

Being a working parent is hard, and I won’t disguise the fact that I believe it’s hardest for moms. Even when we love our careers and feel school is the best choice for our little ones, it’s never easy to leave them all day. Especially during sensitive times, or when we’re going through transitions. We worry. We feel guilty. A lot. And I know at times we were probably overbearing or downright clueless with our question and requests, but you were always patient and understanding. We always can tell how genuinely you love every child in the room, and that is such a gift to us as parents.

I’ve probably said 100 times that I don’t know how you do what you do, because this age is so hard. Not only were you helping 24 kids potty train, a good portion of them also became older siblings this year. How you all handled this with such grace (and smiles, no less) will always amaze me. Please know that we recognize how hard your job is, and appreciate your role in all of it. We probably didn’t thank you enough, but we always felt gratitude, especially when Lila became a big sister – you were a consistent source of support for our entire family and made the transition so much easier for us by keeping her happy and engaged with lots of attention.

Lila would not be who she is today – as confident, articulate, loving and happy – without each of you. You’ve nurtured her in a deeply personal way, and it’s been so beautiful to watch her blossom under your care. My shy almost-two-year-old has become a bubbly and self-assured almost-three-year-old, and while she may not always remember the ins and outs of her preschool days, we sure will, and we will always remember this year fondly.

Thank you so very much. Your work changes lives for the better.