Tag Archives: toddler

Part Two

Standard

Image

You are two.

You are wild with long hair that sweeps across your forehead and curls up along the nape of your neck and around your ears, signaling most people on the street to think you’re a girl.

She’s so cute,” they comment.

I don’t mind. It’s sort of fun to pretend for a few seconds I have a daughter. But you are all boy.

You like to say “hit” and “kick” and you want to “hit” and “kick” bugs and your brothers and even the new stuffed baby you like to carry around by the neck in a chokehold. 

You are two and this past year went by faster than I would have liked it to, just like it did last year and the year before, as I’m always wishing to slow down time with you and your brothers, to breathe in your babyhood just a little bit longer. Weren’t we just at your first birthday party hanging big white moon lanterns on tree branches and eating the man in the moon’s face off a vanilla cake?

You are such a joy. Such a stubborn little joy as your forceful personality blooms. You are still easy going and independent but you can also be feisty and need to get your way these days. As the baby, I’m sure you’ve acquired this skill so you’ll be heard, with two big, loud brothers trying to constantly overshadow you. You have learned to stand strong, to not give in, to scream louder when you need us all to listen. To pinch harder, to throw things with a vengeance across the room, screech so the neighbors three doors down can hear you. You also hit with a passion that gets your big brothers to back off when wrestling. Yep, we’re seeing the start of the terrible twos.

Image

Your language is clearer now. We can understand all your wants and desires. I’m a little sad about your language becoming more accurate, in ways. It was so adorable and charming when you used to say “Thank um,” instead of “Thank you,” each time we handed you the object of your affection. If we handed you a bite of food, you quickly said “Thank um!” It was both sweet and hilarious.

Now you say “Thank you,” and it’s a reminder that you’re growing up, commanding your developmental stages with accuracy and precision. And it sort of makes me yearn for those days when you were a clumsy little bumbling infant, still figuring it all out. A helpless little fleshy bundle all wide eyed and searching for the answers. Today you don’t need help with much. In fact, your favorite phrase is: “No! I do it!” And you sure do little one. You sure do.

I feel like you’re still a baby but I don’t call you “the baby” anymore like I used to. I call you by your name. Baby doesn’t sound right, because you don’t look so much like a baby anymore. Your body has shot up this summer with a growth spurt that has you almost passing for your middle brother’s twin. People on the street have even asked if that was the case. A few times, out of the corner of my eye while seeing you whiz by, I’ve had to look twice, thinking I saw your brother when it was you. 

You are sweet and helpful, always wanting to lend a hand with anything. “Here, mama” you say, trying to hand me clean dishes from the dishwasher when I’m emptying it. Or handing me half-chomped food off your plate. “Here, mama,” you offer. 

Something about knowing you’re most likely the last baby makes my heart ache when I really sit and think about it. I watch you and know there are so many “last moments” I won’t experience again and even though I feel I have savored them as much as I possibly could, to know they’ll never happen again is something I’ve been struggling with lately. It all feels so final. You’re not even in “diapers” anymore. You’re in “training pants” now and although that’s really good news, meaning we’re that much closer to potty training, I can’t help but think that the last time I stretched those sticky tabs across your waist to fasten a diaper, I wasn’t even aware that it was the last time. The last time for so many seemingly incidental moments like changing a diaper, that really aren’t incidental at all. They are the end of mini eras I wish I could cling to. Or relive. But life moves forward not backward and you are two years old. You are two years old and you are starting to want to use the potty. And you don’t want to wear diapers anymore. And that’s a wonderful thing.

Image

Image

We’re probably still nursing for this reason too. You don’t want to leave that stage completely yet and I’m sure I don’t either. Maybe I’m afraid you’ll stop running to me, wanting to snuggle up in bed, drifting off to sleep, content after nursing. It’s comforting to you and familiar to us both. A predictable ritual that relaxes us both and lulls us into quietness. But sometimes it’s also inconvenient for me and on certain days, disruptive and a little intrusive and when you’re extra forceful and demanding when I really don’t feel like “night night” (as you call it), it can almost be a burden. And I get frustrated and think about ending our nursing. “At two,” I used to say, “we’ll stop at two.” And here we are, you are two now and I am having a hard time completely weaning you. Even when on many occasions I’m more than ready to stop. “I’m done,” I’ll say in frustration, even when I know you aren’t. And so the delicate dance continues.

The plan was never for me to be home with you and your brothers for an extended period of time. A temporary hiatus from my career to be able to focus full-time on parenting you and your brothers was what was somewhat planned and unplanned at the same time. As you get older and more independent, I’m aware this ride is slowly coming to an end. That my days at home with you are numbered. That soon you’ll be in school and I’ll need to go back to “work,” though this has been some of the hardest most rewarding work I’ve ever done. Because even when the days are long, when I am up against a battle of the wills and I’m tired of fighting, when I just want to crash into a soft bed, but there is still an endless list of things that need to get done for the night, I am thankful. So thankful that I have been able to be home with you and your brothers while I can, going on adventures on Monday afternoons, exploring new places and having the time to look for dragonflies with you in the front yard, in the heat of the summer. It’s a gift that on some days doesn’t always feel like one when I’m tired, or the day has been challenging or even mundane and bedtime can’t come quickly enough.  It’s a gift I’ll reflect on when I look back one day.

The type of gift you often appreciate more, years after it was given.

Image

Image

You are two. And I feel grateful. I have spent the past 730 days with you, the past two years, from slippery hours-old newborn placed on my chest in the dark hours of the early morning, to the wild, preferring to be naked, long haired boy you are today. It both sped by and stretched out at the same time. It was and is a ride I will never forget.

Happy Second Birthday, Moon. I am so happy you chose me to be your mama.

Image

Advertisements

Eighteen Months

Standard


IMG_7920

Eighteen months ago, I was uncomfortably waddling around my neighborhood on a warm September evening with my family, attempting to induce labor by walking, my giant, overdue belly leading the way and carrying him safely inside.

We were all bathed in pink moonlight from that night’s Harvest Moon, which glowed brighter than the rows of streetlights illuminating our path. The moon was so bright, I could see the faces of my children distinctly in the dark, making out the detail of their profiles, their fluttering eyelashes, their pouty mouths, while at the same time wondering who this new life might resemble. I remember all of us looking upward, noticing that enormous round lamp hanging in the sky, my husband and the kids pointing out its size and pinkish-orange hue.

Later that evening, I went into labor.

I remember nurses telling me how crowded L&D was that evening and how on full moons, they staff up with extra hands on deck because so many women go into labor. I remember thinking that couldn’t be true, until I heard the almost simultaneous wails of newborns throughout the night, minutes old, a choir of new life.

Of course his middle name had to be Moon. And now, that’s what we call him.

Today my little moon shadow, my little lunar eclipse is 18 months.

He’s undoubtedly a toddler, quickly escaping babyhood, graduating into that stage where he’s fiercely claiming his independence, where “no” is the word of the day, all day, every day. He wants to do everything himself and he wants to do it his way. He wants to eat with a particular fork, drink from his favorite Nemo (“Momo”) cup, read a specific book and wear shoes only he chooses.

Aside from “no,” “mine” is another word we hear a lot from him.

On walks, he refuses to follow the leader and forges his own path, going against the grain and veering away from us, an adorable stray sheep. We are constantly having to herd him back to us and of course, every time, we’re met with a hearty “No.”

Aside from his favorite word, he’s added lots of new words to his vocabulary lately: “poo” and “pee” (he’ll point and tell you when he’s done either)”hey,” “bye-bye,” “night-night,” “oh boy,” “apple,” “cheese,” “coo-coo” (for cookie), “please,” “dog,” “ball,” “up,” “down,” (while pointing in both directions) just to name a few. He’s starting to put two words together like “bye-bye mama,” but he’s still struggling a bit with the concept.

IMG_6297

IMG_6296

IMG_7200

IMG_7215

IMG_7223

His personality hasn’t changed much from the day he was born, or from five months, seven months, eight months, nine months, ten months, or a year.

He’s still sweet and gentle and shy at first when meeting new friends. He plays coy and offers a bashful smile, but he’ll warm up quickly. He’s relaxed and mellow and overall just a quiet, easygoing, confident spirit who doesn’t want or need to take center stage like his brothers, or compete for attention. He’s perfectly happy hanging out on the sidelines, watching the show from the front row, doing his own thing on his own time, dancing to his own beat, exploring his surroundings his way.

He is without a doubt our guiding light, our moonbeam, illuminating the way, lighting up our world, just like that Harvest Moon eighteen months ago.

IMG_6876

IMG_7357

Let it Snow!

Standard

IMG_2828

IMG_2810

I’ll start by saying I’m typically a weather wimp.

When the temperature heads south of sixty degrees, which is rare where I live, except late at night, I start fantasizing about tropical white sand beaches and a fruity drink with a swizzle stick. As a native Californian, the most severe weather I’ve ever experienced (at least in my region) is a heavy downpour. Every so often, you may need an umbrella, but I honestly can’t remember the last time I used one. I’m a warm weather gal to the core, who doesn’t even mind a steamy 110 degrees in the desert, smack in the middle of August, as long as I’m sitting poolside.

But this winter had me seeking out a different kind of “white.” Not the white sands of a balmy beach, but the white, icy variety that’s only found in cold climates. Seeking out snow isn’t usually at the top of my list of winter adventures and even as a child when my family took a few weekend ski trips, you could find me alone in the lodge sipping hot chocolate, warming my hands by the fireplace while the rest of the family zipped up and down on those chilly slopes, freezing their butts off.

Thanks, but no thanks.

Lately, I’ve been craving a real winter – especially for my boys to experience. Maybe it’s seeing all those quaint photos on Instagram this past month, where friends in the Nordic region are posting beautiful photos of their blustery winter wonderlands, blankets of white snow covering wide open spaces and clinging to tall pines like powdered sugar.

IMG_2851

IMG_2846

IMG_2840

IMG_2797

It got me yearning for some snow this time of year, when the holidays in so many other parts of the world are synonymous with sweaters and mittens, frosty white landscapes, hot chocolate and roaring fireplaces. Here in my part of California, you could easily spend Christmas on a beach in a bikini.

What I love most about this state, though, is that in less than a couple hours drive in the middle of winter, you can either be on a beach or on a ski slope.

I wanted the boys to experience snow and go wild in it, so we packed up our car with puffy jackets, ski bibs, scarves, warm socks (we even brought the puppy in his own little sweater) and headed up to our local mountains last weekend to play in the snow. And it was perfect.

It started snowing the minute we made our way up to about 4,000 feet, delicate flurries dotting our windshield, the boys squealing with delight, and it didn’t stop until we inched our way back down the mountain.

“Look! It’s snowing, mama!” screamed the three-year-old, the entire way up.

At about 35 degrees, it was cold enough to need all our layers, but not too cold where we were uncomfortable outside for a few hours. The boys made snowballs and slid down slopes on a bright orange plastic sled, their giggles echoing through rows of pine trees.

IMG_2826

IMG_2845

I worried a bit about the baby being out that long in the cold, so I bundled him up to the point where he toppled over when he walked and couldn’t quite stand back up alone, so I carried him snugly on my back in a carrier much of the time, until he fell fast asleep, soft snow flurries melting onto his rosy cheeks. He was easily the warmest of the bunch.

My three-year-old cried when it was time to pack up and head back down the mountain. He wanted more. He begged daddy to let him go up the “mountain” just one more time to slide down on his little sled. And so daddy carried him up the steep incline one more time, only to launch him right back down again.

IMG_2822

IMG_2829

IMG_2607

IMG_2596

IMG_2849

IMG_2821

It was the perfect finish to 2012. There is something about a fresh snowfall and all that untouched white that can’t help but resemble a clean slate. I’m looking forward to 2013 and all the possibility it brings. It’s a new chance, an unwritten page, an unmarked path open to new plans and new adventures. I’m excited to get started.

I’m wishing you the Happiest of New Years. I hope 2013 brings you love, peace, health, happiness and everything you could possibly wish for.

IMG_2838

Scenes from the Seashore

Standard

The Sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever. ~ Jacques Cousteau

Summer, we’re not quite done with you yet. When you give us 102 degree heat waves in September, we head to the beach, where it’s a comfortable, breezy 82 degrees.

The truth is, I’m more than ready for Fall weather. But my two youngest are perfectly happy in the sunshine, splashing in the ocean, making mud sandcastles and collecting tiny seashells along the shoreline. If these photos and words had audio, you’d hear squeals of delight coming from these boys, who are happiest when sinking their feet into sand.

There is nothing better than the sound of your children’s laughter and this mama was content just listening to those squeals compete with the cries of gulls, while holding onto the sunshine and the salty air just a little bit longer.

A Week in Photos

Standard

I vowed we’d spend more time at the beach this summer, but so far, we’ve only spent a single day. And of course it was a day that brought a mild storm, with gray clouds, rain and a chill in the air in the middle of July, despite the weather report swearing it would be 80 degrees and sunny.

Luckily, the boys didn’t mind, they frolicked as usual, ignoring the raindrops turning powdery sand wet and sludgy. By the time we started collecting our belongings to sprint back to our car under the pressure of an expiring meter (no easy feat with a double stroller, three rambunctious children and endless bags of wet food, umbrellas and beach toys), we were caught in the middle of a bona fide downpour.

So much for planning a perfect day at the beach. I doubt we’ll be going back for awhile. And to top it off, we were greeted with a big, fat parking ticket for an expired meter.

Earlier in the week, I spent a wonderful evening one-one-one with my oldest, something we’ve done only a handful of times since his younger brothers were born. We went to dinner and a movie, where the focus was solely on him and it was much-needed and lovely. Between the chaos of a toddler bulldozing his belongings and the cries of his baby brother whose needs are often more immediate, he’s learned to be patient. But I realize it’s unfair for him to always be the one to wait in line while his smaller brothers’ demands are louder, making their presence and need for attention more known.

It’s something I find difficult to navigate at times.

I wanted to take a night to make him feel extra special and attended to, like he was when he was an only child, where I could savor his words and stories with fully open ears. Without multi-tasking and asking him to re-tell them because I only heard snippets of what he was saying as I’m calming the baby down and making sure the toddler doesn’t run into the middle of traffic.

I’m going to make an attempt to do these “date nights” with him more often. It was a really sweet time for both of us.

Yesterday, we visited a place I’ve been wanting to visit since it was re-modeled and re-opened to the public a few years ago. It did not disappoint. Billionaires live pretty well, I’d say. The boys had fun exploring the hallways that seemed to run on forever and the toddler loved roaming the gorgeous fountains. If I didn’t know better, with the balmy ocean breeze whispering through our hair, we could have easily been along the Mediterranean, admiring ancient greek artifacts. It was a fantastic day.

Peppered in between mini-excursions, are those days at home that would otherwise seem mundane, ordinary, uneventful. But these are the days I want to capture most: a sleeping baby who finally gave in after fighting sleep for hours, a chubby thigh glimpsed from the corner of my eye — a thigh that will surely melt away soon into a long, sinewy limb.

These are the moments I cherish. Juxtaposed against the staggering beauty of the majestic Pacific Ocean, or the stunning architecture of a billionaire’s villa, these images trump everything.

They are everyday images and they are fleeting — a wisp of baby hair curling up like a vine around the edge of a tiny earlobe, my oldest son’s animated expressions through my rearview mirror as he tells me a story from the backseat after camp.

They are the moments I cling to.