34 is completely strange

It struck me the other day that there’s not a lot to be said about being 34. It’s a nondescript age planted solidly in mid-thirties ambiguity.

College feels like it was a lifetime ago, but I still like to have dance parties and shop in the junior’s section at Marshall’s.

I have life insurance and a will (F…a will?), and most of the same insecurities I did at 14.

I have friends getting married and friends getting divorced. Friends having babies and friends having an awful time with infertility.

I worry about climate change and societal unrest and also my pores and the onset of gray hair.

I listen to the same explicit hip hop I did in 1998, sandwiched between podcasts about religion and the gender pay gap.

I catch myself full of judgmental opinions when I see teenagers wearing revealing clothes, overlooking the fact that teenage me did the exact. same. thing.

I went to a rock concert this weekend. I wore ripped jeans. And when it was over, my back ached from standing all night. I drove home singing at the top of my lungs with two empty car seats as an audience.

It’s a comical juxtaposition to feel so young and so old. And it’s not that I actually feel old (despite the dreadful noises my hips make when I sit cross-legged), but a lot of life and living has happened, providing a vantage point where the past and the future are equally lovely and blurry.

34 isn’t bad. It’s just fine. A bit remarkable and sort of awkward and I’ll take it.

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Maya at 10 Months  

You are a calm, content baby with a truly happy demeanor. Your smile lights up a whole room with dimples just like your big sis.

You started crawling and pulling yourself up about a month ago, and can get around the house in no time, even crawling up the step from the living room. You’re still rocking just two bottom teeth, but are getting longer hair with the sweetest baby curls.

You say mama and dada and something resembling “ya.” You wave at everyone and immediately start splashing your hand in the bathtub water when we say the word. Recently you’ve begun to play with us more actively, knocking down block towers and putting objects in and out of cups we hold.

You love food and have eaten everything we’ve given you, although you didn’t seem to enjoy mango too much. You sleep through the night fairly well when you’re healthy, but have been plagued with colds and stomach bugs and pesky ear infections for the past few months.

You’re fascinated with your big sister and light up when she’s around. You tolerate her somewhat overzealous hugs without batting an eye and follow her wherever she goes, letting out excited huffs and grunts.

You love to snuggle. When we hold you before bed and you’re sleepy, you’ll kind of burrow your hands underneath you and push your head into our necks, and it’s the best feeling on the planet.

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.

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.
    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.

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.