Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Big Moon, Little Star

The universe gives us many challenges, but I think it tries to balance them with blessings- if only we can take the time to notice. Tonight as I left work I was amazed by how warm it was for January 31st. Ella B was also amazed and began running around the driveway the second we arrived home. We spent a solid hour swinging, spinning ("dizzy mommy"), racing ("ready, set, go!"), and making leaf piles.

We were having so much fun that we didn't realize it was getting dark. Soon, the sun had settled far beyond the houses and all that remained was a ribbon of pink and blue. Ella looked up and noticed the moon. I looked too and saw the first star of the night.

"Look El, a star," I said, pointing at the sky.
"Yeah, a star. Way up in the sky."
She looked up and reached her little arms into the air.
"Big Moon. Little Star," she said.
"That's right, buddy."

It quickly grew darker and we watched as more stars appeared.

"Notha one mommy. Notha one."

I sat down on the driveway and Ella followed suit. At some point, we found ourselves lying on the driveway, hand in hand, watching the sky fill up with sparkles. We sang "Twinkle Twinkle" a few times until the night was illuminated with more than just stars.

And there we were, Big Moon and Little Star, counting our blessings.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Does this tutu make my butt look big?

It's official. She's my daughter. I realized this on Sunday when my parents came over to watch the football game and Ella didn't understand why everyone was paying more attention to the silly men pummeling each other on T.V. than to her (don't worry El, I don't get it either). So, she pulled out all of her toddler tricks to get some attention. These included: wearing a tutu (not really out of the ordinary), wearing a bowl on her head (okay, definitely cute, but kind of cliche), carrying a bowl full of shredded cheese (that didn't end well), and finally just running into the room and yelling "Everybody look!" until she had all eyes on her.

It got me thinking about how I was just the same at her age, a "ham" my mother would say. At family parties, my cousin Sara and I would spend hours developing skits and dance routines to showcase after dinner. I would parade around in costume and pretend to be a rude New York waitress taking everyone's orders. If there was a camera rolling, I would instantly hold up one hand like a microphone, put the other behind my back, and find the nearest person to interview. I was full of accents, jokes, routines, and couldn't wait for the opportunity to have everyone's complete attention.

Then, of course, adolescence hits and having everyone's eyes on you seems like a fate worse than hell. But when exactly does that happen? When do we go from, "Look at me in my tutu!" to, "Does this tutu make me look fat?". I was talking with Christina the other day about raising our daughters and all the drama and heartache and sensitivity it will entail. She worries that Loreli will be picked on for being too tall as a kid. We decided that if current personality is any indication of the future then we won't have to worry about Ella B. She seems like the spunkiest most confident girl on the block right now, but will that last? Will she wake up one day wishing she were blonde? Will she try to hide her adorable round booty with strategically tied sweatshirts? I'd love to say that we have a good ten years before we have to worry about these things, but unfortunately, I think that is merely wishful thinking. I look at this little girl now who has no idea that she will one day hate her thighs or her big brown eyes or whatever. But one day it will happen. It is inevitable.

As a society I think we hope for attractive children because we know the world is kinder to the better looking, but when it comes to teenage confidence, it doesn't really matter how attractive you are. For me it was always about being thin, but if weight hadn't been an issue, I would have spent more time worrying about my crooked teeth or my beauty marks. I recently learned that my best friend, one of the most beautiful women I've ever known in real life, hates her elbow skin. Really, her elbow skin.

So what can I do? How can I as a mother shield Ella B from the self-loathing? The truth is that I can't. Somebody in third grade is going to tell her she has a funny nose or a silly name or an ugly coat and she's going to feel bad about it. What I hope I do have some control over is whether or not she lets it define her. I think I do that by encouraging her and reminding her of all the things that make her who she is that no one can take away from her. I think I do it by reminding her how beautiful she is, but also how smart, and funny, and strong, and fearless. I will tell her that it feels good to look pretty, but that there is a lot more to life than how you look in a tutu.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Sick Day, Schmick Day

I got a call from daycare today at around 9:45 that Ella had thrown up during circle time. She didn't have a fever or any other symptoms, but just to be safe they wanted me to pick her up. When I got there, the kids were listening as Shauna read a story and Ella looked over at me with this "what the heck are you doing here so early? I'm playing with my friends" kind of look. It was such a nice day and she was in such a good mood that we decided to stop by the pond near our house to scope out some fish. We didn't find any, but we had a great time collecting acorns, throwing leaves in the stream and watching them drift away, and hiding from each other behind the big bushes. We stayed for a while and then headed home for lunch and a solid nap. Later on, we had some relaxing T.V. time, did some cooking in her kitchen, and drew a few cats.

At some point, she found her new backpack and decided to fill it with Wonder Pets and put it on. She found her new sunglasses and put those on too. I began snapping pictures, sure that she would take everything off as quickly as she'd put it on. Instead, she began posing and even turned around so I could take a picture of the backpack. When Michael got home, we told her she could wear her backpack and sunglasses to school tomorrow if she would take them off for her bath. She finally relented.

All in all, it was a pretty nice sick day.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Freshy Fresh to the max

Don't let these adorable pictures fool you. What you see here is not an innocent angel child relaxing with a few stuffed pals. Oh no. It is a tiny demon child, a tiny wolf in tiny sheep's clothing just waiting for the right time to strike. Okay, I might be exaggerating a little, but recently it seems we are headed closer and closer to the dreaded terrible two's.

Now, my perspective on these things is a little different than that of other parents. My baby, for all intents and purposes, was born evil. So, for us, we really had nowhere to go but up. Nothing she does could really be as bad as the incessant crying and lack of sleep of those first six months. The nipple pain alone is enough to give me nightmares. So, a little attitude, a few sessions of foot stomping, a thrown plate here and there are nothing compared to twelve hours a day of nursing and not sleeping for nine months.

But, I admit, we are seeing a new side of this girl. Even my mother agreed that she is even feistier than usual. She has an opinion about everything: what shoes she'll wear, which sweater, how she wants her strawberries (cut or uncut), which side of the bed she will lay on when Mike gives her a bottle, what I need to draw (a cat), where I need to draw it (there- with pointed finger), and how big it needs to be (big, big mommy, no little!). She wants to eat all food in the living room and refuses to sit in the highchair so we have compromised by letting her eat at her drawing table in the dining room. She spends a lot of time trying to sneak things like Play-Doh and markers into the living room and even drew all over the couch cushions on New Year's Eve.
Her main goal seems to be to test every possible boundary and watch our reactions, which I'm sure is totally normal, but is also highly frustrating.

And then, of course, things like this happen: I went to the grocery store this afternoon and was totally exhausted when I got back. When I walked in, she was wearing her little Elmo slippers which couldn't possible be any cuter and then she started doing this dance she does- knees bent, arms flailing from side to side like a monkey and began singing. At first I thought it was just gibberish and then I realized she was trying to sing the song at the end of the show Olivia. ("Gnight Livia") and I totally melted.

I can't stay mad at you Beezer. You're just too damn cute.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year

Like everything else, holidays like New Year's Eve are a little different once you have kids. The days of all night parties and drunken debauchery have been replaced by quiet nights at home with good food and good friends, and I couldn't be happier about it. Sure, it would be fun to get all gussied up and actually get to linger over a meal without wondering who's drawing on the couch (it was Ella B in case you were wondering), but honestly, wouldn't you rather enjoy that food in your sweatpants and slippers?

This year, we rang in the new year with a few of our favorite peeps: Christina, Jeremy, and Loreli from love.reverie.life and our neighbors turned BFF's Andrea, Steve, Arlo, and Violet. We made some awesome (and gluten free!) food, tried to force our children to eat it, and finally gave up and stuffed our own faces instead. At around 6:30, we donned some party hats, pulled out the noise makers, and did a traditional new year's countdown before all the kiddies were reluctantly hauled off to bed. As with every other holiday this year, Ella watched our countdown with both amusement and trepidation, like we were some primitive culture in the African bush. Sometimes she even seems to be taking mental notes: (Okay, so on the eve of the new year, you are supposed to eat and drink so much that you feel sick the next day, wear stupid hats, count backwards from ten, and make resolutions for the coming year that you will give up on in two weeks. Got it.)

Perhaps my New Year's resolution should be to try to make it to midnight next year, not because I really care, but because my husband was pretty annoyed with me (i.e. really pissed and trying to force me to stay awake) that I fell asleep watching Fringe at around 11:00. The upside to falling asleep early and sober is that you have enough energy the next day to go for a nice hike with your cousins. So, we spent our New Year's Day on top of the world with Tom, Sam, Nate, and Jacob and it only required a little bit of huffing and puffing and complaining, the former mostly from Michael who was carrying Ella on his back, and the latter from Nate who apparently doesn't really like hiking all that much.

Overall, it was a lovely New Year's Eve and Day spent with people who make us really happy. So, I resolve to keep doing a whole lot of that in 2012.

PS- Ella B said "Happy New Year!" too.