Friday, September 27, 2013

An Anniversary Story (A Few Days Early)

One night when I was 24, I heard my roommate come home after a night out with co-workers. I was already in bed but wanted to hear about her night. She mentioned everyone who was there, including this one “weird” guy who didn't talk much and kept to himself. Sweet but a bit gawky, he was more apt to pine over someone than to date them. He was tall and skinny with a face that said “character actor” instead of leading man.

“I love him,” I thought, rolling over and nestling into my pillow. The thought came instantly and involuntarily—about a guy I had never met, about a guy who was “no one’s” type. My roommate continued to tell her story, but I just heard white noise and saw her lips move. My heart felt like it was expanding to fill every corner of my body. It was completely irrational; completely unlike me and my usual level-headed self. I laughed it off and went to sleep, but some time later I discovered this gut reaction was true. I guess you could say my soul knew waaaaay before my head knew that I loved JAR.

Truth be told, this kind of “involuntary” love can be a very challenging love. While there are things you like and admire about this person—like their kindness, their wit—you don’t necessarily love them for their personality or their values or their ambitions. It’s not about common ground or money or great abs. Simply put, you are deeply and undeniably drawn to this person and can’t imagine your world without them. You don’t discuss kids, goals, or long-term plans (though it's probably not a bad idea). You just take a deep breath, close your eyes, and let it unfold.

There are fights and disillusionment and cultural differences and communication breakdowns. But there are also moments of magic when you realize that this is the exact person you needed in order to grow in a specific area; to shine a light on the dark spots and reveal the real you. This is the person you were built for.

And so, you say THANK YOU—laying in bed, riding the bus, shopping for groceries—you say it multiple times in a row, before slipping back into everyday concerns. “Thank you,” you repeat, pushing it out from your core, into the ether.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Three and a Half

Lately you’ve been asking if you’re 4 yet, and now I can tide you over by saying you’re halfway there! Tomorrow’s 3 ½ birthday plans include going to the beach if the weather holds out, and giving you your first “big girl” bike after daddy puts it together. You rode it so proudly when we tested it out at Toys R Us the other day, sitting tall and rounding the aisles on the store model’s wobbly training wheels. “Look, mommy…look, daddy…I’m doing it!” you said.

You are growing into such a poised and assured little girl, understanding the world a little more each day. Recently I took you for your first pedicure and you sat in the chair with your back perfectly straight, body perfectly still, as you took everything in. You didn’t say a word the whole time but you kept glancing back and forth between my feet and yours as they were being pampered, big brown eyes glowing with wonder, a subtle smile on your lips.

You are understated for the most part, but sometimes you have moments of pure theatricality that come out of nowhere and make us do a double take. Picture yourself standing in front of your musical princess castle in your room, belting out a soulful rendition of Princess Tiana’s “Almost There,” with a hip jutted out and a hand towards the heavens like a mini gospel singer. 

You love to sing, and I know I’m biased as your mommy, but I think you’re a natural. Sometimes you switch up the melody of popular songs to create pleasing variations, and when I ask you where that came from you say, “I’m just doing it in my own voice.” Your favorites are Disney princess songs, but you also like to sit at your small piano and work on “originals,” closing your eyes and feeling the music.

While you’re looking and acting more like a big girl every day, certain little moments remind me that you still possess shades of “baby”—like when you refuse to sleep in your own bed or give up your nightly milk. Or when you cling to my leg at parties and turn mute in front of strangers. Or when we enrolled you in soccer and you preferred to sit on my lap sipping juice instead of kicking the ball down the field, drill style. (Let’s never speak of it again and just stick with swimming and gymnastics, shall we?)

My favorite moments with you are the little ones. “Get in your spot, mommy,” you say, “and I’ll get in my spot.” We sit side by side on my bed, and look for games and YouTube videos on my laptop. You put your head on my shoulder and I notice that your hair feels kind of like YOU – half smooth and polished, half rough and wild. “I love you, mommy,” you say. “I love you, too, best friend,” I say. And I mean it.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

And then there was THREE!

Two was a banner year, my girl.
We said goodbye to diapers, and hello to “big girl” life.
And despite the fact that I thought you wouldn’t be a girly-girl,
we found ourselves surrounded by all things PINK and PRINCESS-Y
(shows how much I know).
Me: “What do you want to be when you get big?”
You: “Ummm...a PINK princess in a big PINK dress with PINK shoes and a PINK wand!!”
Who is this girl? I’m thinking.
But I love this girl so much.
I love that you are willful and headstrong,
clear on what you want
nurturing to your dolls
and super goofy to boot.
You are wiry and strong
And the wheels of your mind never stop turning.
Here’s to another year
of cutting your cheddar cheese into little cubes
chasing you around with vitamins and a toothbrush
sweeping your hair into twirly pigtails
hearing you belt out showtunes
and watching you draw exuberant little stick people
in every color of the rainbow.
Thankful doesn’t begin to describe how I feel about watching you grow.
And I can’t wait to see what three will bring.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Two and a Half!

Dear G,

Today you turn 2½, and since you’re a Christmastime baby, we’ll always make it a point to celebrate your half birthday. We’re heading to the toy store to pick out something special, and tonight we’re going to a mini prom with your school friends!

You are (literally) climbing on me at the moment, so I’ll make this quick. Here’s a synopsis of you at 2½!

Favorite color: Pink (a testament to your girly girl side)

Best friends: Simona, Maggie, Jaycie, Tiz

Favorite teacher: Ms. Sergina

Early talent: Singing!

Favorite foods: Blueberries, mac & cheese, scrambled eggs, pizza

Favorite drink: Milk

Favorite toy: Plush IKEA doll that looks like Bill Clinton

Favorite shows: Dora and Mickey Mouse Clubhouse

Favorite book: Once Upon a Potty

Cool things you do: Count to 20 (and to 10 in Spanish), recite the ABCs, recognize numbers and letters, sing “Jesus Christ Superstar” (complete with hand motions)  

Obsessed with:  Water. You love taking baths, washing your hands, going to swim lessons, sitting in your kiddie pool, playing with your splash table, and filling up toys with water and carrying them to your play kitchen (which we could do without)

Also love: Bubbles, your swing set, putting your dolls down for naps throughout the house using dish towels as blankets

Random factoids: You’re a leftie, you’re a picky eater, you often look serious in pictures even though you’re goofy, and you’re a mama’s girl…yay!
You fit so seamlessly into our little family and make us SO happy—but even more, you make us better.  Happy 2½!

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Just the Highlights, M'am!

Dear Gilly,

I haven’t written here since you were 14 months old. FOURTEEN MONTHS! Today you turn 26 months old, so I figured it was high time for a new post. Since I have been SUCH a bad blogger, let’s just hit the highlights, shall we?

15 Months

You got your first haircut (pictured below) and you moved into a big girl bed. That’s a very early transition but you cracked the code on climbing out of your crib by hoisting your little leg up over the side, and it made us nervous. I slept on the floor next to you the first night because I thought you would fall out!

17 Months

You became a Jersey girl! After years as city folk, Mommy and Daddy found a town that instantly felt like home and we bought a house for you to grow up in. It isn’t big or fancy but it has character and feels like “us.” We are fixing it up little by little and doing most things ourselves (with assistance from Papa Jim!).

18 Months

We celebrated the Fourth of July in our new area by taking you to your very first fireworks display. We had a picnic on the grass while a band played, then you sat on daddy’s shoulders to watch the sky light up in colors. You were mesmerized, though in this photo you look way bored. :)

21 Months

We went to the Medieval Festival in Fort Tryon Park, where my very favorite picture of you was taken. It got chilly by the water so we pulled the hood up on your poncho and Phil snapped a photo. I love that it’s candid and un-posed, but I also love that it captures who you are. You are nobody’s princess! Sure, you love your dolls and the color pink and you have a girly side, but this picture depicts your strength and your cleverness, and I love that. How can someone get all that from one photo? Trust me…mommies can!

22 Months

You dressed as a chicken for Halloween! Mommy took you to your parade and party at school, and Daddy took you trick or treating after work. You were definitely a hit with the neighbors and were very good about keeping your chicken suit on.

24 Months

You had two Elmo parties for your 2nd birthday: one at school and one at home. For your home party Aunt Lisa made awesome Elmo cupcakes, and Uncle Joe performed his hit song “Pizza Party.” You got really cool presents and had a ball running around with your friends. Your friend Simona's dad took this lovely picture of you.

26 Months…Also Known as Now

You are moving up to the next class level at school a bit earlier than expected and will soon be starting a Kumon curriculum. Go you! This Saturday your swim class begins at the Y, and we suspect you will live up to your "Gilly" nickname since you love the water so much. Many more adventures await us, my love!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Lately (14 Months)

Gilly has turned into a sweet little chatterbox, with her vocabulary doubling in the past couple weeks. Her favorite words/phrases are “Mama” (yay!), “Baby” (pronounced “Bay – Beeeee!!!”) and “Me Me Me” (when she wants something). She shouts “Whoa!” when her tower of blocks falls down, “Whee!” when she’s on a swing or ride-on toy, “Pretty” when she spots cute clothes and “Nah nah nah” (translation: “no”) when we try to pull her away from danger.

I said goodbye to my last remaining grandparent—my mother’s mother— a strong, salty lady with a two-pack-a-day habit, a flair for storytelling, a legendary sharp tongue and a true blue heart. Gilly was in my arms as Nan took her last breath, which is pretty big stuff for such a little thing. I’m glad these two were able to meet, if only for a short time. It’s good to know that Gilly has someone so loyal looking over her.

Gilly is becoming even more of a daredevil, standing on top of end tables, coffee tables, TV stands…basically any dangerous piece of furniture you can think of. Despite diligent baby proofing, we are constantly amazed by how she finds new ways to make our hearts skip a beat with her acrobatic ways. She’s also begun to show a flair for music and loves to sing and dance along with The Fresh Beat Band. Call me crazy, but I swear she repeats notes with surprisingly accurate pitch!

Jar ushered in his 40th birthday with friends, family…and karaoke! I surprised him with a poster (signed by all the guests) outlining 40 cool things he’s done in his life thus far, along with pics to match. We realized that night that we’d met *exactly* 10 years before, doing karaoke. How apropos!

We’ve started the very exciting yet very stressful process of looking for a house in the burbs, because isn’t that what all urban professional couples do when they have a baby? ;-) Truth be told, I’ve been ready for more green space and a slower pace for the past few years, even before getting pregnant. And Jar is ready to put his handiness—and newfound driving skills—to use. Wish us luck. Change is scary but exhilarating!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Favorite Things

Oprah has a list of favorite things, so why not Gilly? Here’s what Little Miss Thang is currently digging, circa her 13-month birthday:
  1. Ride-on toys. Today at Toys R Us she took the above set of wheels for a test drive, and she seemed pretty smitten. At home, she has a pink ride on-bus and a blue mini ride-on car, both of which she loves to share with her friend TZ. Which brings us to #2!

  2. Her friend TZ. If it’s possible for a 1-year-old to have a BFF, little blonde-haired, blue-eyed TZ would be it! These two are together 5 days a week ALL DAY since they share a nanny, so it’s a good thing they get along. Born just 4 days apart, Gilly tends to be more physically adventurous and TZ tends to be more verbal, so they complement each other’s skills perfectly. Plus, they squeal when they see each other in the morning, which is pretty freaking adorable.

  3. My winter scarf. She likes to wrap it loosely around her neck and twirl around the living room, like some sort of miniature Stevie Nicks. I wish she’d learn “Silver Springs!”

  4. Independent eating. If I try to take her toddler fork away, I’m met with a death grip. Enough said.

  5. Cell phones. Every time I make a call, there goes that cute little outstretched arm, trying to grab my phone away. And when she doesn’t get it? Whine central. We’ve tried to distract her with a toy phone, but the kid is totally on to us.

  6. Books, books and more books. Gilly loves all types of books, but especially ones with fuzzy textures, pull tabs, sounds, or anything interactive. In fact, she’ll often ignore a room full of toys just to thumb through her book collection. She’s now starting to carry books over to me when she wants me to read them, which warms my bookworm heart.

  7. Dancing. I’m not sure what the deal is, but at least 75 percent of Gilly’s toys play some sort of musical tune. Not that I’m complaining (ahem), but the upside is that I get to watch her cute little booty bop to the beat. She also likes to groove out to Yo Gabba Gabba, which has to be my least favorite Nick Jr. show, mostly because it’s creepy.

  8. Her “G” chair. We sprung for one of those child-size club chairs from Pottery Barn Kids for Gilly’s 1st birthday, complete with embroidered name and cover that matches her nursery d├ęcor. While she uses it equally for climbing and sitting, it was definitely a good get and GREAT for watching Nick Jr. with a fuzzy blanket (but preferably not Yo Gabba Gabba. See above.)

  9. Mommy. It’s official. This former daddy’s girl is all about mommy these days, literally running to me with open arms and big wide eyes when I walk through the door after work. I walk to the kitchen? Gilly’s there. The bathroom? Right behind me. She still won’t call me mama, though!

  10. Saying “pee pee.” It started innocently enough, when we were changing her diaper. “Did you do pee pee?” we asked. Intense stare and furrowed brow. “Pee peeeee,” she says. “Pee pee, pee pee, pee pee.” We laughed, of course, which just encouraged her more. And now it’s her favorite word. Parent of the Year award? Oh yeah, right over here please.