Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Dear Hazel: Month 3

Dear Hazel,

Time is just zipping by, it's moving so ridiculously fast I feel like I've been sucked up by a twister or something. Seriously. I don't remember time disappearing out from under me like this with Cadence...but I wouldn't change anything about it if it meant giving up the progress our family has made over the past few years. Time is moving quickly, but we're also in a position to truly enjoy every busy little moment of it. And you, my dear, are a huge joy.

This month got off to an awesome start with you truly smiling at your sister on the first day. You'd just turn and look at her and break out into this huuuuuuuuuuuuge smile, just pure glee, and it would make me sooooo giddy that I couldn't sit still, squirming with delight or dancing about, which alternately amused and worried you, I think.

You also started smiling those huge big grins at Nana and Papa and Kelly, when we'd talk to them via videochat. I wasn't sure you'd be able to discern what was happening or differentiate it from TV, but you stared SO HARD at that screen, way more interest than you've ever showed any other form of 2d electronically generated image, and as soon as you heard the familiar voices you broke out into HUGE AWESOME BABY SMILES and began bouncing up and down with glee. I'd say it's a hit.

Add it to the list of amazing things that have occurred this month. Like how you've already managed to pull down the porcupine on the gym mat enough times that is bores you, or how you can grab the wooden ball thingy that my grandpa Ed gave kelly when she was a baby, and successfully bite it without any assistance. Many objects meet this fate now, we've begun the phase of needing to be extremely careful about what's within your reach.

You've got some awesome abs, and if I've got you in a reclined position, you will work them hard to get up to sitting, and then standing, in any way that you can...if this is any indication, you're gonna be quite an athlete...seriously, baby, a 2 month old is not expected to be able to sit and stand. If it brings you joy, power to you, but otherwise...give yourself a break!

Not that you seem to want to. You get SO FRUSTRATED if you're trying to do something and it isn't working. I can see in you already a hard working, focused perfectionist, who will work to get it right but may suffer some serious angst in the process if it takes too long. We'll see how this turns out, but I see a fierce determination in you that could be either an asset or a fault depending on how its applied. I have a feeling you're going to be amazing, little one. You already are.

Especially because you are open to new ideas. One day your attempts to stand unaided didn't work, but you noticed the slight movement you got from sticking your feet on the floor anyway. You played with that for a bit...and now you're the most mobile 'non-mobile' baby I've ever encountered. You scoot around everywhere on your back...this is a problem during diaper changes, when you consistently scoot away from the diaper before I can get it fastened, and you also have a tendency to crash into the safety rail at the top...our choices are kind of spend all day relocating the baby into the diaper in a futile effort to get it on, or to let you experience the anger and frustration that you go through when you're trapped with your head against that rail for the few seconds it takes to get the diaper on...

You scoot right off the play gym almost anytime we put you on it. You spin around and around and then shoot off in whatever direction you happen to be facing. This, of course, assuming you aren't in the mood to hang out in your favorite little yoga-pose...You've certainly found your toes, and seem perfectly comfortable to spend your time with your lower half turned to the left so that hand can grab and explore those awesome toes, while your upper body turns to the right with your right arm outstretched, playing with the crinkly ladybug on the mat, or trying to grab something else, or just watching whatever else is going on in the room.

You really discovered toys in earnest the day before your sister's birthday, suddenly realizing that objects could be interesting, and manipulated. You had of course explored things prior to this, but this was the first day where I could see the gears really turning in your head-you'd set your sights on something, and actively try to get it, and you seemed remarkably focused on trying to figure out what each thing was all about.

This was just one day after you'd rolled onto your tummy for the first time. I was so proud of you, my little two month old rolling prodigy, even though I think that first time was cheating slightly, since you were holding my hand and pulling in such a way that your arm was held out so you wouldn't get stuck on it - but I didn't help with the rolling part at all, you did that all on your own. And you did manage to do it completely unassisted...on the 16th, not even two weeks later. We had a green vinyl tablecloth on the coffee table in the living room for your sister's birthday party, and we left it up for a few days afterwards in part because you LOVED that thing. You would wiggle off your mat and over to where it hung almost to the floor, and lay there batting and pulling at it until we separated you from it because it was getting too dangerous. It was during one of your forays into the land of crinkly tablecloth that you rolled all the way over without anyone touching you in any way. You didn't quite manage to get your arm out from underneath you once all was said and done, but you were solidly on your tummy, and had your head up, looking around, with this face that betrayed a giddy mix of excitement, accomplishment, surprise, frustration, bemusement, and uncertainty. After a minute of struggling with that silly stuck arm, you growled at me and rolled right back onto your back and went about your business as if that little adventure had been all in a day's work.

With all of these huge accomplishments, and the amount of work and play you pack into a day, I really shouldn't be surprised that your sleeping habits seem so grown up. You are now sleeping allll night at a stretch...You kinda doze here and there throughout the evening, and then go down around 11:00 for good, and wake up around 6:30am...and at that point my chest is so heavy I'm relieved that you're awake. Plus, those smiles you greet me with...oooo, girl you have no idea how powerful those
ginormous itty bitty baby smiles are. They are magic, and they melt away any shred of annoyance I may have about being up early. You seem to be a morning person...I am not, but you're helping me learn how to be. You're amazing, little lady.

You definitely have a unique personality, my dear. It's amazing how distinct your babyhood is from your sister's, even though you share so very many traits and features. Like Cadie, you are an unbelievably sweet baby with a truly rosy disposition...but unlike her, you are a bit of a homebody.

I joke that it's a side effect of you having been a homebirth, that you're my homebody crunchy granola baby; you are a good traveler but you are clearly much more comfortable at home and get really fussy if we're away from home for too long. You also don't like having visitors in our home past around 8:00pm. You grant a bit of a grace period until around 9, but then you just get really angry and stay pissed until our guests depart, at which point you calm down as if nothing had ever been wrong.

You also DESPISE having anything plastic in your mouth. NO pacifiers for you, thank you very much. Bottle? thank you. You reject these items with your tongue and a look of befuddled disgust. These are all points in stark contrast to your sister at this age...she was a lot more fussy because she battled acid reflux as the result of a soy intolerance we didn't know about right away, but otherwise she was pretty cool with being anywhere at anytime with anyone, as long as she was with me. She was never particularly keen on the bottle, either, and generally refused to take it BUT she was pretty addicted to that pacifier of hers. So much so that we just sort of assumed you'd require one, too...but that is just one obvious example of our folly when it comes to assuming anything. You are your own person already, Hazel, and I am totally in awe and in love with you. Keep teaching us, we are here to learn as much as to teach. So far, you've been a brilliant teacher.

Speaking of your sister, you are totally enamored of her. You want to do everything she does...which is how we got you to take a couple sips from a bottle one day, she was pretending to be a baby and using a bottle-like sippy cup, and you kept trying to get it, so I pumped some milk and put it in a bottle, and baba gave it to were SO excited for a few seconds as you watched Cadence drink and then got that nipple in your mouth...but that excitement quickly turned to disgust and that was that. But you do love to play with her however you can, in your somewhat limited capacity.

Take, for instance, your walks...she'll hold your hand while I support you by the ribs, and you two will walk down the hall together that's remarkably endearing, and you seem to absolutely adore it. I mean, you will walk like that on your own whenever I let you, and to have her involved just seems to totally make your day. And this walking? it's kinda genuine. Like, you support your weight, and put one foot in front of the other and usually don't get your legs tangled or step on yourself. I have been quite impressed.

Cadence hurt her arm last week, and Baba ended up taking her to the ER just to make sure it wasn't serious. It was the first time you had ever had to do bedtime alone, and ho boy did you not like it. You could feel the worried energy in the room and the absence of half the family, and despite your exhaustion you would not let me put you down, not for a moment. You'd sleep in my arms or cuddled into me as I laid beside you, but you would wake up terrified if I tried to put you in your crib or got up myself. I can't really blame you, either, lovely. If I were in your shoes, I wouldn't want to be alone, either. As it was, I think I needed your cuddles as much as you needed mine.

I admit, I was a little worried before you were born, since Cadence and I are such good buddies, and have been through so much together...I was afraid that you wouldn't get to have that experience of being so close on an individual level, and being such a strong team. But I'm happy to report that my worry was unwarranted, and you and I have forged a really awesome relationship that develops new nuances daily. Now that I'm in it I realize that the relationship I have with you and the relationship I have with your sister are like puzzle pieces in a way...separate, unique, but they fit together, compliment and complete each other in a dynamic but solid way, and really I guess that's what all family is - a complex series of intertwined interpersonal relationships that bind everyone together. By extension, that's what a community should be as well, but that doesn't always translate from the theory to practicality these days where anonymous contribution - positive or negative - is a ready option, and it becomes many individual personas operating in a void. I hope that changes before you're old enough to get caught up in it, little one, because it can be a lonely and vicious world sometimes. Which is why I find it so important to have good strong familial relationships now, so you'll always have that to hold on to. I love you SO much, little Hazelnutter.

You and your pretty little silly eyelashes...Your eyelashes are taking the whole "half mom/half dad" thing seriously...the outer half of your lashes curls like mine, but the inner half are very straight, just like your Baba...this what seems to have settled after you had one eye full of curly lashes and one eye full of straight lashes for a while. The nuances I never would have thought to expect!

You seem to have a thing for your Baba's hair, actually. You LOVE to grab it, and I often discover you with itty bitty fists clasped around pieces of his hair even when he's not home. I swear you save them for when he's at work and you miss him. I'll find you with strands of Baba hair at all hours of the day, no matter how long it's been since you've seen him.

Yesterday marked another huge first in your life, little lady, as you took your very first (and then second) airplane flight! I was very nervous beforehand, especially because it wasn't a direct flight, but you did an excellent job, my dear, and I was SO proud of you.

We're in Phoenix, AZ now, here for a four day long wedding extravaganza for our dear friends Danial and Poonam. Its kind of strange to me that you haven't yet met them, they've been living in Spain for the past year and came straight here upon their return. Anyway, it'd been a crazy couple days...we'd decided it was too expensive for all four of us to come, but your sister is their flower girl and so you and I were planning on staying home while Baba took Cadence on this adventure...but we were all somewhat saddened by that decision...and when Cadence told me, tearfully, that it made her very sad that you wouldn't get to see her be a flower girl, well it shook my resolve to the core and I ended up getting a relatively good deal from, which is why your adventure yesterday consisted of multiple flights and was with just Mama.

We had a really good day, all in all. You were a perfect little traveller, happy to play with me through whatever was thrown at us, flight delays, lost baggage (even your carseat...we still don't have it back, hopefully it'll be arriving soon...), extreme temperatures...the only time you got fussy at all was during our first descent, you weren't interested in nursing and I couldn't get you to suck on anything else, and there was a lot of pressure building up in your ears as a result. It'd build up, you'd get upset and start to cry, which would make you open your mouth wide and salivate, so you'd swallow, and then upon feel the pop of equalizing pressure, you'd stop crying abruptly, like, oh, that's better, ok now! but would of course get upset again a few minutes later when pressure would again mount...

Thankfully, you nursed for both takeoff and landing during the second leg of our flight, and you made friends with the folks sitting next to us on both flights. You even lasted for more than half the trip from the airport to the hotel strapped into the dreaded (loaner) car seat before you began screaming your little head off. We're going to be doing a decent amount of driving while we're here, so I hope you'll adjust and get used to's torture for all involved when we have to put you in a seat right makes my heart hurt and you just seem SO betrayed...oh I hate it!

Anyway, this letter has gotten away from me now, and we have plenty to do and lots of smiles and games to were remarkably happy this morning to see your sister and baba here, and I think we're in for a great weekend, delayed luggage or no.

Thank you so much for sharing this adventure with me, Hazelnut, and thank you so much for being you: an awesome, sweet, wonderful little child that I am nothing short of blessed to have in my life, as part of our kick-ass family, and as a wise old teacher with endless heart.

Love Always,

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Dear Cadence: Month 36

Dear Cadence

Another birthday? I am so not prepared for this! HOW ARE YOU GROWING SO MUCH?????

Well, my dear, however you're doing it, you're doing it quite well. Happy 3rd birthday, my love!

The most consistent theme of the past month has been a continued and increased sense of commraderie with your sister. You're looking forward to sharing a room with her, and as I left the room with her after putting you to bed the other night, instead of your usual protests you called after me: "Sweet dreams, Hazel!" Of course, you would rather that I'd left her there, since a big thing for you has been wanting hazel to stay with you at night. You're super proud of her, and still tell absolutely everyone your encounter, whether you know them or not, that you just had a new baby sister! Then you introduce her and talk at length about how you take care of's really sweet and remarkable...though it does have a tendency to slow us down a bit. It takes a long time to have that conversation with so many people in the course of a single commute!

Our journey to go walk Charlie begins each day with these introductions to anyone else who happens to be waiting for the bus with us in the shade of the little tree down on the corner. These conversations exhausted, your attention usually turns to the Dunkin' Donuts that sits on the corner across the street. I think because it's got funky bubble letters in cute colors, and you can see it while sitting on the steps of the apartment building by the bus stop, usually without leaving the shade, that you've latched on to this one particular sign, but each day we'll look at it and you'll read out each letter; first the orange word, then the pink one, spelling out D-U-N-K-I-N' only have trouble with the 'K', because in its bubble-font form it looks a bit too much like an 'x' for your taste, but even that doesn't really trip you up much anymore. I've been doing my darndest lately to try to get you to take it the next step and sound out the letters to figure out what they spell, alas, you inevitably get about halfway through one word (whichever you've chosen to start with) and decide you're "tired" of reading and want to do something else. Which is fine, I'd rather keep it lighthearted for now, I know that if I persist without pushing you will eventually figure it all out. I just hope you enjoy the journey.

And you have certainly been learning! You've been practicing your writing a lot lately, and are learning how to spell very simple words. Especially your know how to spell it, though you usually get coy when we ask you or point out that you know. You can write very recognizable letters, when you're in the mood...A is one of your favorites to write, your 'c's are coming along nicely, and D, H, V, E, F are all decent, but you claim your favorite is W. (Your M's aren't bad either...O and P...basically most of your letters are there, to varying degrees of execution, but I'm plenty proud regardless. You only just turned 3. You're doing just fine.

Your precociousness is growing with your age, too, in ways that are often at once heartwarming and certainly keep us on our toes, kiddo. Like how you have taken to tricking me into letting you wake Baba up when he's sleeping but you want to play with him. You'll know that you're supposed to let him sleep, but you also know that sometimes I will give you permission to wake him up - though usually I only do that if it's a certain time, like after 9am, for example, but I guess you wouldn't really know that outright...but anyway, you'll do things to get me to say something that you can them creatively interpret as permission to wake him up. For instance, the other day you found his goggles, brought them to me and, knowing full well who's they were, asked me who they belonged to. I told you they were Baba's and you said that you would give them to him. I thought you meant you'd give them to him when he got up, so I said ok...but instead you ran into the bedroom and woke him up to give him the goggles. Smart kid.

That said, you are generally a remarkably considerate kid. You think of others before yourself more often than not, and statements like this one are commonplace: After I poured you some orange juice, you berated me for giving you too much, and said: "I only wanted a little 'cause if I drank it all up there wouldn't be any for you and baba, and I want you guys to have some, too."

You also do a remarkable job of explaining yourself to us...the best example I have of this is a bit odd, but it certainly and baba were playing some game and you wanted him to ride a broomstick like a witch. He was pretending not to know how as part of the game, and so you were trying to give him very clear instructions. It was a difficult task, it is kind of a strange thing to describe, and after a couple of less than successful attempts, you thought about it for a moment before very authoritatively telling him: "You put it under your penis," and then, as you demonstrated stepping onto the broomstick to prepare to ride, you thought to clarify, adding "I'm a girl, so I put it under my vulva." and then off you went, leaving your parents in awe of your blunt truth.

Your play has certainly evolved into a very complicated have characters, stories, costumes, settings, very varied have some consistent rules, like how you use the term "honey" to refer to a child ("this is my honey!" you'll say, or "no, that one's the mama, and this is her honey.") and the term "love" to refer to a spouse ("that one is her love, and this is their honey.") But some rules only apply to some games...and sometimes its more of a class of games, if that makes sense. You have a class of games revolving around "the cake making show" (Food Network Challenge). You have a recurring character that is the Princess of Cakes, and sometimes I hear you declaring "3-2-1 stop your work!" Sometimes you'll be building with your blocks and I will ask you what you're working on and you'll tell me "it's a cake that looks like a building!" You certainly seem to enjoy that one. I always find it endearing when you turn to me and ask "is the cake making show on?"

I predict a lot of fancy cakes in our future. Probably not this year, though...your Nai nai is very excited to make you your birthday cake this year (your party isn't until the 11th). As per your very specific request, it's going to be a chocolate cake with GREEN frosting. We didn't have cake today, but we didn't need it...we've had QUITE the adventure today already. After walkin' charlie (and having a great day in general) we headed to the Museum of Natural History so that you could see the 'dead dinosaurs'. You were SO excited, and it was wonderful to get to experience it with you, little lady. I have to admit, I've always been a bit creeped out by the fossils, and have never spent much time in that room or enjoyed the experience of seeing fossilized skeletons before, but getting to see it through your eyes, it was fascinating and SO MUCH FUN...I genuinely enjoyed my time there, and you certainly enjoyed yours...thank you for that gift Cadie B...that was a truly unique experience that was totally something you taught to me. Beautiful.

We had such a great time that day, starting off with the folks at the bus stop giving you your own dollar for your birthday, and then at the museum (which you oh so cutely pronounce "muse-EE-ya-yum") the first security guard we met was so kind and played with you, the second let us in for free since it was your birthday, the third picked you up after you fell and broke the bucket (full of plastic sea creatures) that you'd picked out from the gift shop as your birthday gift, and raced through the closing museum, cinematically radioing other gurads to open locked doors and winding through off-limits exhibits, just to get you a new was truly amazing and such a great show of good humanity. And then at shack shake (uptown) after that, they gave you a free custard without even knowing it was your are a special lady honeybug, and everyone can see it.

Baba had to work that day, but your sister and I LOVED getting to hang out and celebrate with you all day long. watching you chase pigeons in the park afterwards, and play with other kids there...what a great day.

and ending it all in song...oh Cadence I can't describe how much it means to me that you have started wanting me to sing to you every night again. I spent so much (all) of your babyhood singing to you constantly, it has been a little sad in this interim time when you refused to let me sing, but I respected your wishes and let you we're building music back into our daily routine and it just feels very right. Thank you for this gift, too.

Oh, and it's also very gratifying to hear you belting Moonshadow at the top of your lungs. I have very distinct memories of what if felt like and the images in my head when my dad would sing me that song when I was little, and for whatever reason I couldn't wait to sing that particular song to you when you were born...I expected it to feel somehow different, to be on the other side of it, but instead I quickly found that I got the same comfort and feelings from singing it to you as I did from hearing my dad sing it to me. It has kind of been 'our song' ever since, too.

Thank you, also, for that gift, my amazing, 3 year old girl.

I love you SOOOOOOOOOOOO much, my ladybug.

Here's to many more amazing years.

Love Always,