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To Evelyn, Who is Three

These are the kinds of posts that I both love writing, and have been avoiding sharing in this space. But I’ve decided that  I’m going to share what’s in my brain right now, and that happens to be a lot of stuff about this child, the child on the way, life right now and all the changes on the horizon.  

rainywondergirl

You are three. You are spunky. Funny. Smart. Thoughtful. Bold. Stubborn. Laughing. Screaming. Running. Concentrating.

You make me better, you frustrate me, you make me laugh, you inspire me, you drive me bonkers, you fill me with love.

Your favorite things to do: sing, play in the dirt, read books, draw, paint, talk, dance. You are very serious about and committed to your favorite color, which has been blue since you knew what a favorite color was. (I admit: I enjoy the times when we have to correct someone who assumes you want the pink version of whatever they’re offering.)

You could listen to Fleetwood Mac’s Secondhand News on repeat all day. You tell people that your favorite songs are Fleetwood Mac, Lucius, and Hey Lolly (yes, two of those are bands and not songs. You’re figuring it out.).

You are fiercely independent when you want to be. And other times, you just need mommy or daddy.

This morning you told me that when you are a grown up you want to be a mommy. And a doctor. And maybe a lion (because you already have a lion costume).

You are full of love. You already love your new sibling, and talk about how you’ll take care of the baby, and tell us how the baby is part of our nightly family hug. Today you told me that there are four people in our family: mommy, daddy, Evy, and the new baby. You may reject that notion at some point, but right now I’m pretty amazed at your open heart.

You are happiest when you are around people, watching people, hugging people.  Earlier this spring we tried to take you to a planetarium show. When the lights started to go down you got upset- not because you were afraid of the dark, but because “I can’t see the people! When it’s dark I can’t see the people!”  When we took the train to New York City in November your favorite part wasn’t watching the Hudson River as we traveled south, it was watching everyone else on the train. You want to embrace the world in a giant bear hug (and we’ve been working on asking people before doling out hugs – not everyone is ready for your affection just yet).

paintA few months ago you moved from the toddler room to the preschool class at daycare, where you have soaked up everything. We love your teacher, who focuses on creating a community of “peace, love, and friendship.”  You have learned how to write your name and you love to sign it on everything you can. At school you have grown flowers, watched caterpillars become butterflies, and helped take care of the class frogs and turtle. You are the littlest one right now, and that can be tough. But your teachers help you and the others, and you’ve made new friends and found your place, all while marching to the beat of your own drum.

You are so grown up and still so little.  Sometimes we forget that you are still so little, and expect too much. But you remind us. You are three. You will be a messy eater, you will cry and throw tantrums, you will beg for dessert, you will take an hour to get dressed, you will not be rushed, you will experience everything in a big way.

I love watching you play, and seeing the places your imagination takes you. In the morning, we turn on the television while I brush your hair, and that 15 minutes of Daniel Tiger or Super Why is usually the only TV time of the day.  Your imagination is so much better than anything you’d stare at on the screen. You play doctor, mommy, daycare, work, mail, superhero and restaurant. You put on shows. You take trips to Florida, you ride the train and the bus around town. You make cakes and dinners in the sandbox. You have a class of imaginary children that you are oh so in charge of.

My wish for you is that you always have the sense of self that you have right now. Hold on to your creativity, your independence, your spark. Your eyes actually shine with that Evy energy.  I promise you, Daddy and I will do everything we can to protect that spunky spark that lights you up.

As with every stage and every age, I try to soak up every bit of You at Three. It feels even more amplified right now, though. Because soon my attention will be divided between you and your sibling. Our family is growing, our love will grow, there will be even more life and energy and chaos in our house.  So, right now, I am doing my best to be present with you, to focus on what you’re like right now, to spend time being together. Things are going to change, and it will be both awesome and hard. But I know that both of our hearts will grow, that we both have so much love to give to our family.

swinging

 

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the questions we ask our daughters

snowWe go to the dentist office, and she’s asked who her favorite princess is.

At a visit to the pediatrician, the doctor looks in her ear and asks if Cinderella is in there.

At another appointment, a doctor tells her that all of the stickers left are “boy stickers” and that she’ll go get “some princess and Barbie stickers.” (Both of these doctors were women.)

She’s asked if her favorite color is pink, they are sure she must love pink.  (“No, blue. Blue is my favorite!” she says.)

It’s not that I think princesses or pink are bad, and I know that plenty of little girls love them – there’s a good chance she will one of these days, too.

It’s just that my daughter is so much more.

She loves being read to – Madeline, Harold & the Purple Crayon, The Snowy Day,  Pete the Cat, Olivia, Lowly Worm.

She loves painting and drawing and building tall towers out of blocks and Legos.

She loves playing with her dolls, taking care of her “teeny tiny babies”  and “cooking” in her play kitchen.

She loves dancing, throwing balls, playing train, helping me bake, telling stories, and dancing.

But not many people ask her about what she likes. (And believe me, she’d tell them. She has so much to talk about.) They just take a guess -and that guess usually has to do with princesses or Barbie.  What message is she hearing?

I know that it can be hard and weird to make conversation with a toddler.

But I think we can all ask the children around us better questions, boys and girls. When you do, you’ll hear all kinds of awesome things come out of their mouths.

Ask them what books they like.

What do they like to play with at home? What do they play with at school?

What do they like to do in the snow?

Have they drawn any pictures lately? What colors did they use?

Our children are people, and they all like different things. They have stories to tell, things to share. I would never assume I know what an adult likes just because of their gender – our kids deserve the same respect.

(And, for the record, she took a Spiderman sticker that day at the doctor’s office, and wouldn’t take it off all day. She thinks spider man catches spiders…)

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here & now….. and in about 5 months

It would be funny if I followed up that last post  – about enjoying the moment we’re in  – with a post about a big change coming to our family, wouldn’t it?

We’re expecting baby #2 in late July.

I thought a change like this would throw me into a spin about things we need and don’t have. But I’ve managed to stay firmly in this spot, this here and now. I’m happy to enjoy the time and place we’re in, to make space for a new member of our family within the home and life that we have. 

I know that, just like the first time around, things will change in ways we can’t anticipate- in hard ways and awesome ways.

And, while we wait, we get the pleasure of our almost-3-year-old’s commentary on the whole “baby in mommy’s belly” business. Some recent gems:

  • “Is that lump right there the baby?” (pointing to my expanding midsection)
  • “I can help with a lot of things, but I can’t help get that baby out of you.”
  • “I’ll take care of the baby when mommy and daddy go out. I’ll give her a bottle and put her to bed.”

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here & now

In a few weeks, I turn 33. It feels, well, mostly the same at this point. But also, it feels solid and settled (in a good way), most of the time.

My late 20s were marked by planning and looking ahead: moving, job changes, engagement, planning a wedding, starting a marriage, house hunting, buying a house, moving again, more new jobs, thinking about babies, pregnancy. From 27 to 28 to 29 it was one big step after another. I got used to that pace, to big changes and decisions.

So here I am, a couple weeks away from 33. And it’s so tempting to focus on the next thing. I try to resist searching Zillow for homes we could buy, and Pinterest for $20,000 kitchen renovation projects.

Instead, I want to plant my feet firmly and look around at where I am, where my family is, right now. Let’s just be here, together, a place we’ve worked hard to get to.

We’ve been making some changes to our home and living space so that it better suits our needs right now, and thinking creatively about the space. It feels good. It’s always been easy to find the flaws in our home, to think ahead to our next house, to put off making even small improvements because “how much longer will we be here?” But we’re going to be here awhile longer and it’s been satisfying to embrace our home, give it some love, and make it into the space we want. Financially, it’s comforting to not have a giant purchase looming, to take time to save and build up a little bit of a nest egg.

We have just these few short years of parenting young children. And there will be changes and transitions, sure, but it feels good to just make space for the magic of early childhood. If ever there is a time to just be here, now, this is it.

“Children think not of what is past, nor what is to come, but enjoy the present time, which few of us do.” – Jean de La Bruyère

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DIY Photo Advent Calendar

I spent a few minutes being crafty last week, in the name of a meaningful (and sugar-free) advent calendar. I always loved the chocolate advent calendars growing up, and Evy will too in a few years, but this year I wanted to try something different.

I printed 25 photos of our loved ones (and realized that I need to take more photos of the grownups in our life). I had some kraft paper envelopes that I numbered and decorated with stamps. Each envelope got a photo, and I pinned them to a ribbon with mini clothes pins.

Every day we open an envelope and Evy gets excited to see who’s photo is in there. The photos get pinned to the ribbon, so we’re building a photo display as we go. My plan is to put the photos in an album for her at the end.

At this age she loves opening envelopes as much as she enjoys opening presents. The only challenge is that she wants to walk off with the envelopes or photos, or that she’ll occasionally take everything off the ribbon. Not really a big deal, but I’ve had to repin things more than expected.

This project was simple, inexpensive, and consistent with the type of holiday season we want to create, with a focus on the people we love.

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Giving thanks, daily

The moments before dinnertime in our house can be chaotic, especially during the week. The sprint to get dinner made by 6:30, convincing the toddler to step away from her blocks and come to the table, getting all parts of the meal on the table (and still warm) as we’re finally ready to sit – it’s a rush of activity that sometimes involves tantrums and cold food, I’ll be honest.

It seemed a little nuts, but a couple months ago I decided to add another step to the dinner routine: saying grace, followed by each of us naming something we’re thankful for.

It’s one of my favorite parts of our day.

The two-year old leads us in grace as we hold hands, a little prayer of thanks that came from my family, who adopted it from dear friends:
God is good, God is great
We thank him for our food, family, and friends.
Amen.

Simple and sweet, it gives us that moment to come together and give thanks.

And then we go around and each say something specific we’re thankful for. Hearing a two-year-old’s gratitude is funny and sometimes poignant. Some days it’s simple: she’s thankful for burritos and her toys or chairs and plates.

Other days, she gets a little deeper. “I’m thankful I’m in my house with my mommy and daddy.” or “I’m thankful for all my family: Gramma and Vou and Nonni and Papa and Uncle Michael and Aunt Katie and Uncle Dean and my cousins.” Or “I’m thankful I had a fun day at daycare and that we’re home together now.”

And at just two-and-a-half, she’s learning gratitude and appreciation- she gets it, as much as she can. I’m amazed at what she understands at this age. Last night, Pat went to the grocery store. He came home, and E said: “Thank you, daddy, for going to the store in the cold to get us food.” Nearly every time I serve her a snack or a meal she thanks me – beyond just “thank you,” she’ll say things like “thank you, mommy, for making me this yummy food.” Teaching gratitude is one of my big parenting missions, so I’m proud of her making it a habit so early. Maybe she doesn’t fully understand it yet (it’s a lifelong lesson, isn’t it?), but it’s part of her daily routine.

It’s been popular recently to give public daily thanks in November. I know that every day I have so much to be grateful for, and that sometimes I forget that. Nightly grace and gratitude has given our family a moment to acknowledge what we have, together.

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40 Things the Internet Has Told Me to Be Afraid Of

The internet makes it hard not to be a nervous person – and especially impossible to not be a nervous mom. This is a list of all the things I’ve recently been warned about via links, articles, and blog posts. I started linking to the source of each of these warnings but decided that I’d refrain from being part of the problem. If you’re really interested in what to be afraid of with each of these things, do a quick Google search. You’ll find more than you ever wanted to know. Or email me, I’ll fill you in.

I think many of these are overblown, and/or I’ve chosen not to worry about those. Some of them relate to things I don’t eat/drink/buy/do. A few of them I do worry about. But seriously, let’s just take a step back and take a page from my favorite parenting trend of all.

Things the Internet Has Told Me to Be Afraid Of:

  1. Food that isn’t organic
  2. Food that says it is organic but maybe isn’t
  3. Brown rice
  4. White rice
  5. Baby monitors
  6. Dressers
  7. Sandy beaches
  8. Olive oil
  9. Processed food
  10. Cow’s milk
  11. Carrageenan – and, ice cream
  12. Sunblock
  13. Skin cancer
  14. Co-sleeping
  15. Not co-sleeping
  16. Babywearing
  17. Not babywearing
  18. High fructose corn syrup
  19. White bread
  20. Wheat
  21. Soy
  22. Food dyes
  23. Not eating enough vegetables
  24. Eating vegetables soaked in chlorine/chemicals/dirt
  25. Causing an eating disorder in my kid because I’m too worried about food
  26. Children’s vitamins
  27. Shampoo
  28. Swimming pools
  29. Sandbox sand 
  30. Vaccinations
  31. Declining vaccination rates and a rise in disease
  32. Trader Joe’s
  33. My pots and pans
  34. Too much screen time
  35. White noise for sleeping
  36. Sleep deprivation
  37. Lack of bacteria in my gut
  38. Too much bacteria in my reusable shopping bags
  39. Laundry detergent packets
  40. Damaging my children by being a nervous parent

What did I miss? I’m sure there are dozens of additional things I should be afraid of that I don’t even know about yet.

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