Sunday, August 22, 2010

Disturbing image

Normally I make it a policy not to post pictures of other people's kids without permission, but as I was going through the pictures from Cadence's birthday for a post I'm working on, I stumbled across this image and was disturbed enough to post it despite not knowing the folks involved. These lads walked into the frame as I was attempting to capture a butterfly (which I clearly missed) and, well...

So whaddya think, y'all?

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Dear Hazel: Month 4

Dear Hazel

Well, it seems that we have another wonderfully precocious kid on our hands! You know, before you were born I was bound and determined not to judge you based on what your sister was like, or what she had done...I didn't want to be left thinking less of you if you ended up not being as quick on the uptake, or as sweet, or as full of life...because lets face it, some people have much more personality and just somehow pop in the world, and it is hardly fair to deem someone else not as good for simply failing to be extraordinary. But really, my Hazel Amazel my dear, I needn't have worried so. You are, 100% truthfully, every bit as devastatingly incredible and awe-inspiring as your sister was, but in a completely independent, unique way that I can only describe by saying "well yeah, it's Hazel!" You totally rock my world, Hazelnut, in the best possible way, and I just love you to itty bitty pieces and right back together again. Such. An Amazing. Kid.

Anyway, where can I possibly begin? I'll never get it all down...but here's to trying!

We started off this month down in Phoenix for Danial and Poonam's wedding. You were SUCH a little trooper, little nut, and you did remarkably well with being away from home - and in the midst of crazy festivities and exuberant love - for such an extended period of time. I was truly impressed with how well you adapted, and how well you seemed to, dare I say it, actually enjoy the trip!?

You totally took to just trusting that we would be with you and not leave you behind or let you be in a situation that made you feel unsafe or scared, and it made everything so much easier. You also discovered that you could scoot all over our hotel room on your back...and so you did. I'd set you down on the changing mat, and after 5 minutes, tops, you'd be clear on the other side of the room and I'd have to be chasing after you trying to keep you from hitting your head in the corner when you ran out of space. Where's the baby? oh, under the desk.

Oh goodness, little one, you did such an amazing job at the wedding(s), was several days worth of ceremonies and running around, and you never melted down, never lost it, never caused anyone to miss out on anything or disrupted anything...I didn't even have to step out more than once. You are such a good little baby. Totally awesome!

Though, socially speaking, once the ceremonies were over, you certainly did create quite a fuss...everyone loved you (what's not to love!?) and wanted to hold you and play with tolerated all the attention superbly, and let me know when you'd had enough with plenty of warning, and good spirits never had to be broken by our tiny little baby feeling overwhelmed. You were totally amazing.

We also discovered on this trip that you are a water baby fo suah! You LOVED splashing around in the pool, you'd even try to lean forward to give yourself a better doggie paddle stance, and you'd hold you head back above the water and smiiiiile as you tried to swim away! You just got SO excited every time you encountered water. It was totally awesome, and makes me realize how important it is going to be that we continue to give you opportunities to swim, lest you lose your comfort and eagerness, and we accidentally deprive you of one of your earliest passions.

But yeah, if you haven't already guessed based on the fact that you could hold your own head out of the water, you are now very successfully holding up your own head & chest when you're on your tummy - something you still don't really enjoy, but you seem to be abel to appreciate the novelty of it at the very least, for a couple minutes before the screaming sets in.

You TERRIFIED me early this month, actually, when you proved just how true it is that, no matter how 'helpless' a kid your age may seem, you CANNOT leave them (YOU) alone for even a split second...I was changing your diaper, so you, naturally, were on the changing table, which had railings along all four sides to prevent falls. While I was getting out the fresh diaper, you, very suddenly and adeptly, as if you knew precisely what you were doing, reached out, grabbed the railing, and rolled over as you pulled yourself to it...thereby flipping half your body (lengthwise, we're not even talking divisions at the hips here, this is straight down the midline...) right over the railing before I was able to grab you and roll you back to your place int he middle of the table...honestly, had I not been standing right there, I don't know that I would have been able to catch you. So there you go, it IS true that a 3 month old who can't independently get to sitting can go around almost flipping off of changing tables and getting into all sorts of unexpected mischief.

And I suppose it is a little bit of a misnomer to claim that you can't sit on your own...while it is true that you can't get there on your own, once you are there - either because we stuck you in a sitting position or because you were bouncing with us and landed sitting - you can stay that way on your own, completely unsupported, for a decent length of time.

Your physical prowess is indeed quite impressive. August 12 marked the official End to Our Control over your sleeping avoid unecessary risk of SIDS, we have always made sure that, among other things, we always put you down to sleep on your back, never your tummy...well, that AM, I awoke to find that you had rolled onto your belly all on your own.

You also put this skill to good use when we were in the park the other day; we'd settled for a rather impromptu mini picnic in the park after seeing my friend Blake's street performance routine (he's a clown and a contact juggler), and you kept rolling clear off the pad I had you on and trying to eat the grass.

And oh, how you yearn for solid food. You seem to want to eat SO! BAD! It's gotten to the point that I can't even eat while holding you, you'll grab whatever I've got well before it gets to my mouth, and no amount of contortion on my part seems to be able to compensate. You physically struggle to reach any dishes that catch your eye, you study your sister with utter scrutiny whenever she has food, and you'll often yell and fuss at us for not sharing.

Oh that's another good thing to mention this month: You've discovered your 'loud' voice. and I do mean LOUD. You and Cadie have a game now where she'll sit next you you and you'll grab her face (if you can get it!) and yell so loud you knock her right over! Then you'll both laugh and repeat the whole thing, ad naseum, except that it's so cute even the noise doesn't seem quite as painful as it easily could. You've got some serious lungs, kid!

I also think that you try to have conversations with us now, by yelling. You'll shout and use loud, emotional, well supported yelling noises often when you don't seem otherwise upset, and you seem excited when we respond to this communication with our own words, and spaces for you to talk.

You seem to be particularly into toys these days, and you will actively try to get them, and when you do you play HARD. And eventually the novelty of each thing will wear off and you'll be bored. BORED! BORED! with everythign and will actively search out new things, usually somewhat fruitlessly since you've been through most of the stuff in the house. Unless we go out and about, in which case there is plenty to take in and you seem to just drink it all in from your contented cuddle in the wrap.

And OH how you adore you some CRINKLES!! Plastic bags, potato chip bags, tissue paper...whatever you can find that crinkles just absorbs every fiber of your attention. You get almost frantic with excitement and will use all your energy trying to get and then figure out those crinkles.

The last thing I'll take the time to mention is not something you do often, but it's so classically 'baby' I can't help but mention how you recently discovered that you have the ability to suck on your toes, and sometimes I feel like you do it just to show off, you little sweetheart you!

I love you so overwhelmingly much, little nutter, my sweetheart honeynut! Thank you for being such an amazing babidy one, an awesome personality blossoming in that itty bitty little body of yours, with so much awesomeness all about you...thank you for making life so great, sweet girl.

Love always,

{NOTE: I usually write these letters and then go through and add the pictures and publish them when I have time...due to the break in we had, I don't have access to our pictures, and it looks like it'll be a while before I can get everything in order, so I decided to go ahead and publish this sans photos, but rest assured I will revisit and add the pics in as soon as I can. I will let everyone know when this is done. Sorry for the disappointment!}

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Dear Cadence, Month 37

Dear Cadence,

While I was in the kitchen cutting up a watermelon shortly after your birthday, you came into the kitchen, watched me for a moment, and then said: "Don't cut yourself, or I won't have a mommy to keep me safe!" I assured you that I was being careful, but even if I happened to cut myself I probably wouldn't die. While my heart melted a little.

You said that well before the major medical event we had this month actually took place, but I think it sets the mental scene well. We all worry about each other, and often take it to unnecessary extremes, but in the end we're all taking care of each other and doing a pretty fine job of it.

Alas, accidents can happen no matter how careful you are, and ultimately that is also just part of growing up. It was bedtime, you were lying on our bed in front of me, and it was time for your goodnight kiss. You put out your arm and I took your hand to help you up, but just as I did you flung yourself over and off the bed, jokingly running away from the took us quite a while to parse what had happened since you have a stoically high pain tolerance, but as best we can figure, you got hit with Nursemaid's Elbow...the ligaments in your arm slipped out of place, as is common in kids your age when they get yanked around. It's not particularly serious if dealt with right away, but it is extremely painful and should be set by someone who knows what they're doing, so off you and Baba went to make your first ever ER visit.

I of course felt AWFUL, and while I know it was an accident and no one is truly at fault, I can't help feeling immensely guilty at having played any role at all in such an unpleasant experience. I wanted to take you in myself, but Hazel is too young to go into an ER if she doesn't need to, too many potentially dangerous germs, and since she refuses a bottle I couldn't leave her home with anyone else, so I stayed home with her while Baba stuck you in your mayawrap with the platiduck under your good arm, and lovingly carried his baby girl to get the help she needed.

Thankfully all the drama cleared up relatively quickly. Evidently things slipped back into place on their own while you were waiting to see the doctor, because all of a sudden you perked up and said it didn't hurt anymore. The triage nurse had already confirmed that nursemaids was the most likely culprit, and when Baba updated her about your sudden improvement, she said that it often does fix itself on its own that way. And it's one of those merciful problems that actually does feel completely better within a few minutes of the fix. So, they let Baba take you home without waiting around anymore (it was like 2am already by the time it clicked back to normal) and called a few days later to check in and make sure it had stayed fixed without any problems, which it had, so that was that.

You are growing up so fast, and you can just taste it...the day after your birthday you started talking about how you're almost 4, you're 3 but you're going to be four...and now when we suggest that we do something -anything, really - you'll respond with some variation of "that's a good idea. let's do that when I'm 4."

One of your absolutely favorite things to do these days is to take hazel walking, holding hands. Obviously, she can't walk on her own yet, but in large part due to your influence she is gaining skills like nobody's business. You'll hold her hand, and I'll offer support around her ribcage, and the two of you will walk all over the apartment..up and down the hall, around the living room...step step seem so proud of your little protege, and you offer her words of encouragement and praise, and you incorporate it into your games, and sometimes you even offer her tips, showing her where to put her feet or how to move her leg into the proper alignment. She bears weight and does all the stepping on her own, and she's getting quite good at it. You seem to be a very positive influence on her, Cadie B, your a gentle, kind, understanding teacher and that is very awesome. I'm so proud of my little bitty big girl awesome big sister Cadie B lady!!!

It is, in large part, due to the connection and closeness you have with your sister that you were able to facilitate (read: guilt me into) all four of us taking a more expensive than we can truly afford trip to Phoenix for Dan & Poonam's wedding. You were their flower girl, and once we realized how expensive it would be, we opted to send you and Baba alone. It was a tough and unlikeable decision, so it wasn't that hard to push me over the edge, but when you got sad and teary and I finally got the reason out of you, and that reason was "it just makes me really sad that my sister won't get to see me be a flower girl!" heart kinda shattered and that was that. And it ended up being an AWESOME trip, and so beneficial to all of us, we're all so grateful that we had that thank you for that, my lady.

That trip is a beast and a half to talk about though, because it was so rich and rife with awesome adventures and little tidbits that are impossibly to adequately summarize. Since you guys had tickets already and I just got the cheapest deal I could find, we flew separately, which was actually kind of nice, I think, because you got to have some serious quality Baba time that you've been craving lately. You've traveled a number of times with just me, but this was the first time you got to travel with just Baba. It sounds like you guys had a really fun journey.

The day after we all arrived, Poonam invited us to come hang out with her family at her brother Jeet's house. He and his wife, Kelly, have two boys, Aidan and Kyle, and evidently (I was unable to join you because the airline lost my luggage and I had to spend the day at the mall trying to find clothes that would work for black tie and nursing at the last minute...oi) you took to them very quickly, and made fast friends. By the time I joined up with you all for the rehearsal that evening, you couldn't have cared less about us being around. And thus the overall theme of the week was set: Good Friends.

There was also one other kid in your little pack, a younger boy also named Aidan, and the four of you ran pretty loose throughout the events. I have to say it was kind of amazing to be at these big functions, but, given that they were attended only by trusted family and friends, and most of the time we were actually in Jeet and Kelly's house, we didn't have to worry much about you at all - saftey wise (Big Aidan seemed quite the valiant protector, and you were in a clean, safe environment with tons of good people about), or entertainment wise. You are SUCH a good girl, cadence, you'd check in with us, quite briefly, every 20 minutes or so, and then head right back to your playing, for hours on end. I was so pleased; you seemed to be loving it, and it meant that baba and I were more able to hang out with our friends, too, instead of chaperoning you in the playroom...which we certainly wouldn't have begrudged, but it was gratifying to see you playing with other kids.

I think you miss those kids quite a bit...whenever you hear someone say "boo" you get really excited and cry "that's Little Aidan's word! Little Aidan says boo!" and you talk about them all the time. You came away from this trip with so much...great friends, wonderful new stories, an a new understanding of what it means to be part of a pack. I love it.

And oh, Cadie B can I just say...what an AMAZING flower girl you were?? Seriously, you did it SO well... You walked slowly and didn't panic, even though the crowd was all staring, ooing, ahhing and taking pictures, you dropped petals in an even way, and behaved in a calm, mature (but classically little girl!) manner, and you even went up and handed the officiant a petal before returning to your seat (though, you still had some petals in your basket and wanted to walk back up the aisle and drop them all, but you were so good and returned to your seat next to Baba...and then, after the ceremony, once everyone left, you got back up and dropped them as you walked bak up the aisle, emptying the basket right at the end. LOVE). It was SO impressive.

Oh, and a cute little anecdote worth mentioning: when you were still a little baby, when you'd get upset you'd bend over and put the top of your head on the floor while keeping your legs straight. Because of the proportion of your limbs and torso at the time, you formed a perfect triangle with both your feet and hands flat on the floor and your arms and legs straight up and down, top of your head perfectly touching the floor. We dubbed this "pentapodding" because you looked like a tripod, but with five 'legs'...anyway, you have grown quite a bit since then and your proportion no longer allows for such theatrics. While we were at Jeet & Kelly's place, though, you were attempting to revisit it, and discovered that while you can no longer pentapod, trying to do so was a perfect lead in for a forward roll...and thus you invented what you happily declared to be "tumblepodding!"

I wasn't with you on the flights home, either, but I wanted to share with you a little blurb that Baba wrote about your trip. He writes:

"Cadence was asleep as we landed for our layover in Atlanta. We were staying on the same plane, but had a couple hours before the next flight, so I figured I'd just let her keep sleeping since we'd had to get up so early that morning. The crew was actually changing for the next flight, so we weren't technically supposed to remain on board, but a flight attendant offered to stay on until the next crew came so that Cadie could keep sleeping. Eventually, though, I decided that we should get off the plane and get some food, so I gently woke Cadence up.

"Cadence, do you want to go and get something to eat?"

*groggily* "yeah…"

"Okay, well let's get off the airplane then."

"NO! If we get off the airplane we'll have to jump and we'll fall through the air!!!"

"Oh, it's okay honey! We've already landed, we're on the ground, you were asleep."

"Oh, okay."


You know what has shocked and amazed us the most this month? Your vocabulary. Your words have simply exploded this month in a way I didn't think was possibly anymore, given how much you talk and how wide your vocabulary already was. But I have plenty of quotes to help me show how mind-blowing your articulation has become in the past few weeks:

For context, you'll need to know that another favorite game you have is being a thief. Not of things, but of vegetables. Particularly leafy greens. Whatever we've prepared for the meal - arugula, spinach, lettuce, kale, beet greens,'ll warn us that "there's a spinach thief about!" and then while we're eating you'll 'sneak' around to our plates and eat the greens off of them! If you're feeling particularly bold, you'll snatch it right off the fork before we can get it to our mouths! And of course, this is all in good fun, we play along and play it up because, let's face it, you're having fun and eating really healthy foods, so why knock it? If you take it too far or if for some other reason it's inappropriate, we let you know and you reign it in, albeit somewhat dejectedly, so for the most part, we let you have at it.

Here's where I finally get around to that vocabulary I was talking about: Early on this month, we were sitting down to dinner and you began to warn us about the potential thievery by saying, quite slyly: "I have a tendency to steal things."

While we were in phoenix, there was one day where we were in the car on the way to Aidan and Kyle's house, and Jeet asked who was hungry...Baba and I responded with simple answers along the line of "oo, me!" or "I am, I am!" but then here comes little 3 year old Cadence, who says with a grin "oh, I'm particularly hungry!"

Or the time I was trying to get my socks on while holding Hazel, and you sidled up next to me, pointed at them, and said: "you know, sometimes I steal things, and those are potentially my gloves."

Sometimes, though, I fear that your vocabulary is a bit of a barrier to you...not with adults, certainly, but with other the other day, when I took you to the playground, and you were trying to play with the big kids by going up to them and saying "how do you do?" and trying to hold adult conversations with them...and my lovely, as amazing as that is, it just doesn't serve you much when you're standing in the midst of a somewhat run-down inner city playground. That place is a beast unto itself...these kids are not bad kids, certainly, but there is a certain cutthroat mentality and pattern of behavior they have - and need to have, really - which I don't know how to prepare you for, and without which you will be nearly literally doomed while off in the wilds of it. You need to learn to stand up for yourself (you cannot fathom taking your own turn on the slide. You will ALWAYS get up and let someone else go before you. Which is totally sweet, except that you will do this no matter how many times the other kids go by you, and suddenly you've spent your entire playtime letting other people take your turn and you're still at the top being quietly patient. Seriously kid, sometimes we even have to yell at you to take your own turn and play. it's infuriating) but I don't think hurling you unarmed into the pit is the best way to do so.

It's times like that day, when it was just one thing after another in terms of kids choking each other, torturing one another, creating surprisingly dangerous conditions for each other, and I had to bite my tongue to keep from getting into a major spat with another mom, and then to top it all off, after you had agreed to stay on the 'baby' side of the playground which you are too big for just to avoid the brutality of the older kids, and even then you ended up with a split lip...those are the times I feel the most guilty for taking you away from your friends and family in Kentucky.

Actually, no. Those are the times I'm most aware of the differences between NYC and KY. The times I feel most guilty are the times you say things like: "mama, I miss my nana and papa and kelly...I want to see them again. When are we going to live closer so we can see them?"
way to break my heart, kid.

But then I think of all the amazing things that you do get to experience living here, and I think of the school you'll be starting soon (SO! AWESOME!) and all the wonderful opportunities being here is going to provide our whole family, and it eases the pain, just a little, and reaffirms our decision to do our best to find a way to spend summers elsewhere, or something along those lines, for the good of us all.

And then conversations like the following happen, and I think we must be doing something right, and I just get so overwhelmed with love for you...I think life is pretty derned grand, overall, my little lovebug.

Baba: "Oo, look at that cloud, Cadence! isn't it puffy?"
Cadence: "yeah, but it's in the sky, so we can't sit on it."

Love Always,