Best of October

fullsizerenderI thought last years’ October was fun, with our first trip to the pumpkin patch with Esmé, but this year was even better. In fact this past one was probably my favorite one ever.

This year we went to a pumpkin patch where you actually got to pick your pumpkins off the vine yourself. I was telling a friend that even though they didn’t have all the rides and attractions as the one we went to last year (it really was like a mini fair), we all liked it a lot better. It helped that we went during the week, but it was far less busy, and we really got to enjoy it much more.

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Esmé’s favorite thing was the corn playpen. When we first put her in it she kind of freaked out, and refused to walk around in it unless she was holding one of our hands. But after some time sitting and running her hands through it, and especially once Papa climbed in, she got used to it. Then she really started to have fun…rolling around in it, burrowing in it, and, as you can see in the picture above, stuffing allll the corn into her clothes!

They also had a corn maze that all three of us got to enjoy. My husband would run up ahead and hide, then pop out to scare Esmé as she tried to find him. She had so much fun that she didn’t want him to stop. Anytime he tried walking with us, she would tell him ‘Go hide Papa! Go hide!’ She’s very demanding these days.

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For our costumes this year, I decided to have Esmé be an angel because she has this crown of cherubic curls right now. Initially I was thinking that Emile and I could be a Christmas tree, so she would be the angel atop our tree, but Emile said he didn’t feel like dressing up. So I was like, I guess I’ll be her cloud then.

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Esmé had a blast trick-or-treating with her bestie Luigi (Carson), just like last year. Last year she didn’t know what people were putting into her bucket, but this year she figured out what candy was. She was SO excited about all the chocolate. She actually made it around the whole neighborhood without being carried, (quick run home for a potty break excluded), so I was very impressed.

As much fun as all of those things were, my personal favorite thing from the month was a conversation I had with Esmé about my cloud costume that I made. Once I finished making it, I set it on a chair downstairs in the basement. She could see it in the mirror whenever she walked down the steps, so this is what she said when she first saw it:

Esmé coming down the stairs seeing my ‘cloud’ on the chair: What you make Mama? What you have?!

Me: It’s Mama’s cloud costume for Halloween!

Esmé: You take it from the sky?

Me: No, I didn’t take it from the sky.

Esmé: You take it from the ground?

Me: No, lovey Mama made her costume.

Esmé, a little disappointed and confused: Oh.

–A few hours later—

Esmé coming down the stairs seeing my ‘cloud’ on the chair: Mama what you have? What’s on the chair?

Me: It’s Mama’s cloud costume.

Esmé: You take it from the sky??

Me, giving up on trying to explain: Yes. Mama took it from the sky.

Esmé: Mama tooked it from the sky!!

Me: Yes. Yes I did.

Esmé: I want to touch it!

Me: Ok. What does it feel like?

Esmé: ooOOOOOooo. It’s soft Mama.

Me:Is it fluffy?

Esmé: Yes. Soft and fluffy. I want to sit on it Mama. I sit in chair.

Me: No love, you’ll squish the cloud if you sit on it. Let’s go.

Esmé: Ok, I sit on it later.

She still thinks that we have a legit cloud in our house. Anytime I point out that we’re having a pretty sunset, or that the clouds look nice in the sky. She says ‘Mama has a cloud. Mama has a cloud at home from the sky.’

Best October ever.

 

Dependently-Independent

 

We recently started looking at preschools for Esmé for next year, thinking she would be ready by the fall. I’ve been doing research and arranging tours to find the one that’s right for us.

Last week we went to look at a school and Esmé just jumped right in with the other kids in the classroom without so much as a backward glance at me. Then my heart exploded and I decided then and there, that home-schooling would suit us just fine. I mean she has me, the cat, and sometimes my husband works from home, so she’s set.

Just kidding! Kind of.

We are only going to be doing a few days a week, so it’s not like I won’t get to see her at all. Plus, I’ve been dreaming about having a little free time, especially lately with her being so needy.

You remember how a couple posts back I was all ‘I have a much more predictable nap time…blah, blah, blah…or I can catch up on my reading?’ Yeah, that’s gone.

I now have a toddler that is choosing to defy nap and bed time, all the while needing to ‘Hole my haaaaaaan (hold my hand)!’ It might be due to the fact that she is nearly two and a half, and could very well be outgrowing her nap time. Or maybe it’s because she’s potty trained now and uses having to go to the bathroom as an excuse to get up out of bed.  But I have a sneaky suspicion that it’s because I made a boo boo on our most recent trip out to Portland…I let her sleep in our bed for naps.

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I know I know. Insert shocked and appalled emoji here. Did it make sharing a hotel room with a toddler while trying to undo bad sleep habits a nightmare the following weekend? Yes. Did my husband make me swear to make her sleep in her own bed for the remainder of the trip after said nightmarish weekend? Yes. Was it worth it? Absolutely.

Every time that I have a phone call or tour with a potential school, I have a huge wave of anxiety hit me. My chest burns, my heart starts racing, and my throat hurts. I literally have to give myself pep-talks in the car because I think about this,

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and worry that my snuggle time is going to disappear, and she’s not going to want to ‘hole my han’ anymore. Particularly when my husband tells me she’s going to love school so much she’s not going to want to come home.

The funny thing is that when I started this post, I picked the title as a description for my daughter, because that’s, infuriatingly, how she has been lately. In writing the post, I have come to realize that it actually describes me as well. I want my free time, but I don’t want to share her either.

I’m just going to say it…I’m not ready. My child might be ready, but I still need her. A lot.

 

Reflections on Motherhood

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I wanted to write a post about motherhood that talked about how full a heart being a mother has made me, and how much joy it has brought to my life, but then I thought it would sound too cliché, too mushy-gushy. Then I thought maybe I should share about how I struggled as a mom in the beginning, but I thought too dark and depressing for what is supposed to be a happy holiday in celebration of mothers.

In truth, motherhood is a little bit of both. It is wonderful and exhausting. It is the most difficult job ever, but also the most rewarding.

Being a mother is hard.

Being a mother means not getting more than 3 consecutive hours of sleep for, at minimum, the first 3 months of your child’s life.

Being a mother means finding spit-up/baby poop or pee/ smeared food/ or boogers stuck on your clothing a day or two after you’ve been wearing it, causing an ‘a-ha’ moment for all the funny looks you’ve been getting outside of the house.

Being a mother means learning to function with one hand, or one leg, so that you may either hold your child, or they can cling to you for hours at a time.

Being a mother means catching vomit in your hands because they couldn’t make it to the toilet in time.

Being a mother is sitting on your hands, to let them figure things out for themselves.

Being a mother is being judged/chastised more severely than you have ever been in your whole life.

Being a mother is questioning yourself a hundred times a day ‘Am I doing this right?’

Being a mother means getting pushed past your breaking point so you realize that you are stronger than you thought you were.

Being a mother is to have your heart broken over and over again as your baby grows bigger, and needs/wants you less and less.

Being a mother is endless worry and fear.

Being a mother is having your toddler say ‘oOOOOOohh! Pretty!’ after you’re done getting ready for date night, then having them pick their nose, smear it on your cheek, and say ‘Boogah Mama!!’

Being a mother is being touched and grabbed by little hands a million times in a day.

Being a mother is experiencing pure joy that starts at your center and radiates out to the tips of your fingers, warming your entire body.

Being a mother is a chance to see the world as you’ve never seen it before.

Being a mother is love to the power of infinity.

Thank you Mom for being all these things, and more to the three of us.

Thank you Essie love, for being the greatest gift I have ever received.

For Shame

Today I was shamed in public for my parenting skills, or rather lack thereof.

Esmé and I went to meet up a friend of mine and her daughter for dinner. We decided to eat at a place called Guasaca, which is similar to Chipotle, just a different style of food. Very kid-friendly and a back patio area where you can sit outside.

We got there just before my friend and her daughter did, so we got our food and waited while they worked their way through the line. Esmé was suuuuper excited to see her friend Charlotte, but was even more excited when she saw an older boy swinging on the line-dividing-bar-thing. This she had to try for herself.

She has had several opportunities to hang from uneven bars in her Little Gym classes, but today was the day that she decided she could do it on her own. I was so proud of her. She was swinging (barely) back and forth, but her feet were off the ground!

I think she got so proud of herself she let out a shriek of joy. A couple people laughed and smiled, and I said sorry to the people in front of her, and reminded her that we save our shrieks for when we’re outside. I asked if she wanted to go outside and she said no, and carried on playing.

She shrieked once more, not nearly as loud, and as I bent down to speak to her a loud voice behind me interrupted:

‘Ma’am? MA’AM??? Could you PLEASE CONTROL YOUR CHILD???! There are OTHER PEOPLE here TRYING TO EAT.’

The restaurant went quiet.

My face got hot (and I’m sure red), my arms went numb, my heart started racing, and my hands were shaking.

My wonderful friend stuck up for me saying ‘ Sir this is a family restaurant and if you’re trying to have a meeting or something, you picked the wrong place.’

But I was tongue-tied. I couldn’t think of a single thing to say because I couldn’t believe someone would actually say something like that out loud.

I took my daughter by the hand and went to sit outside, which was where we were going to go anyway, and managed to keep it together until I got home.

The whole way home, I kept beating myself up for not standing up for myself.

I should have smacked him.

I should have called him an old, crabby, insensitive sh*thead who doesn’t deserve the air my daughter sneezed into.

I should have given him the finger as I walked out the door.

But after I got home, put Esmé to bed, did a lot of crying, called some mama friends for support, drank some wine, and did some reflection I realized some things:

1. As good as it would have felt, I would have been no better than him if I had hit/called him names/ flipped him off. Also not the best example to set for my daughter, and the other children in the restaurant.

2. Shame on him. Who the hell are you to tell me how to parent my child?! She was happy. She wasn’t throwing a tantrum. The people closest to her when she was playing did not even notice she was there, yet you critize me from across the room?? Wtf.

3. Shame on me. How dare you let some complete idiot, stranger make you second guess yourself. I can’t believe you started wondering if you were at fault in this situation.

4. I believe that happy little girls should be able to express themselves so they don’t grow up to be suppressed, subservient, obedient little women who don’t know how to respond to asshole old men that critique their parenting skills.

 

 

This entry was posted in Life.

A Toddler/ English Dictionary

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One of my very favorite things to watch has been my daughter’s communication development. Nearly a year ago she had just mastered signing for things she wanted. I was ecstatic at the time because for so long, I felt like I was talking to a wall. For all I knew she was thinking ‘how unfortunate to have been born to a mother who just keeps making crazy hand gestures at me like an idiot.’

What was a huge parenting victory to me then, seems somewhat insignificant now that she is talking in (very short) sentences. My husband and I are amazed at how much she loves to copy what we say now. Her words are getting clearer and clearer every day, so before they’re gone, and I forget, I wanted to write down some of her favorite words.

Iss/ yaaaAAASSSSSS/ Yahhh/ mmHM/ ohyea – affirmative. A month or two ago she only said “is” for yes, but, as you can see her vocabulary is rapidly developing. The last one she picked up from her little activity table. It spouts off “Oh Yeah!” after a certain song, but Esmé can’t quite say it the way they do with equal emphasis on the two separate words, so hers is an “Ohyea.” One word, emphasis on the “oh.” The “Yahhh” only started this past week, and we have no idea where it came from, but it cracks us up every time she says it.

Ickoo– Thank you. This is generally followed by Papa, so it’s “Ickoo Papa!” It doesn’t matter if it’s something I’ve given her or not, she just likes to thank her Papa.

Heego! – Here you go. This is always said with much animation, hence the exclamation point.

Cayfo! – Careful. One of our FAVORITE words. I never knew that I needed to be so careful. Nor did Emile. Nor did Esmé’s milk sippy cup. Nor did her babies know. As you can see she tells everyone and everything “Cayfo!!” just to be sure.

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Kiki – Kitty. Also known as our cat. It is always followed by a scream of delight and enthusiasm, which causes Kiki to seek shelter until terror child is sleeping.

Bassoo – Bless you. Said after any sneeze, and often times a cough, just because we like to say it.

Moona Book – the “Goodnight Moon” book, which is her absolute favorite at the moment. Don’t say this out loud unless you want to read this story to her at least 10 times in a row. She basically has it memorized already.

Seff – I want to do it by myself/ I want to take a selfie. Homegirl loves to look at herself on snapchat, or Instagram, or, well, anywhere. So long as she can see herself in the camera she’s happy.

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cahSINNNN!– our bff Carson, who lives down the street. Again always said with much excitement, hence the exclamation point, and emphasis on the second syllable.

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Fok – Fox. And yes I’m sure she was not repeating a bad word she heard me say. We have a fox that appears sometimes in our backyard, and it happened to be sunning itself one day when Esmé was around. Now when she looks out the back window she asks “Fok?? Fok??” and we have to look to make sure he’s not there.

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Tucka – Truck. Our favorite kinds are garbage and recycling ones. It’s why we live for Tuesdays.

Sickle – Tricycle. Grandpa got us this for Christmas, and we love cruising around the neighborhood with it.

Daw – Draw. Currently our favorite activity.

Ahfoh – Fire. I have no idea how she came up with this one, but she sure lets us know when she wants the fireplace turned on.

Pano! Pano! Pano! – Piano. I wish that she were actually requesting the real deal, but sadly she is requesting to play a piano puzzle game on the iPad, that she is obsessed with.

Tigoh! Tigoh! – Daniel Tiger, the children’s show. She LOVES this show so much, she has to say tiger (“Tigoh”) at least twice in an elevated desperate shout in order to make her demands known. Mama loves it because it has a tranquilizing effect on her. It’s amazing. She sits (or lies on the couch) completely transfixed as soon as it comes on.

Lahler/ Lahloo – water. Sadly I think this word will soon be lost as she said “wahler” the other day.

Meenu – humidifier. Something we have been running in her room this whole winter as she has been sick since about Christmas. She loves to help me put it together and show me exactly where it should go on her dresser.

She is our tiny little sponge and it is so amazing to see how much she loves learning about the world around her.

 

Reflections

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As a parent you get to experience two different time phenomena, often times simultaneously. One is where time seems to be moving so slowly you’d swear it was actually going backwards. The other is when it zooms past so quickly, if you blink, you’ll miss it.

So I find myself facing a new year, fully aware of how much we packed into it, but still wondering where the time went.

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There were many firsts: Esmé meeting family and friends for the first time; Esmé riding on a plane, train, bus, and boat for the first time; Esmé’s first birthday; Esmé’s first Valentine’s Day, and Easter; Esmé’s first baseball game; Esmé’s first time getting sick; Our first time seeing Europe!

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There was much travel: We got to visit 6 different states, and 6 different countries this year. We saw beaches, mountains, rivers, and lakes. There were castles, cathedrals, ancient ruins, and tiny villages tucked away in the hillsides.

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It was filled with family and friends: We got to spend some serious quality time with so many family and friends: Most of my family flew in for Esme’s first birthday; Esmé got to meet almost all of my husband’s family when we were abroad; and then when we came home, we got to see my family and friends again.

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It was also a year of learning lessons the hard way: Learning what our limits are as a family; learning my limits as a mother; learning Esmé’s limits as a growing toddler; learning that I’m stronger than I thought I was, both as an individual, and as a family; learning that even though change is hard and frustrating, you adapt quicker than you think you could; learning to be present in the moment.

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As I reflect back on everything that happened this year, I find myself overwhelmed with gratitude.  I have so very much to be grateful for… For the amazing moments, the boring ones, the happy ones, but also the moments when I wanted to pull my hair out, scream at the top of my lungs, and then curl in a ball and cry.

With so much to be thankful for this year, I find that I am a little reluctant to let it go. I find myself questioning what if next year isn’t as good as this one was?

When I really sit down and think about it though, the things that I loved most about this year were not the big things that happened to us- the number of trips we got to take, or fancy places we got to see. It was the connections I had with those near and dear to me that I loved most. It was the moments that made me laugh, or cry, or made me feel like I mattered.

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It was staying up until 1:00 in the morning with my sisters-in-law drinking wine and laughing until my face hurt.

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It was spending a quiet evening outside with my husband after putting the baby down, listening to the sounds of the night in the countryside.

It was spending a rainy day cooped up in a hotel room with my sick daughter, my body half curled around hers on the bed while she slept.

That is what I have to remind myself as I face the New Year. I have to remind myself that even though my heart aches a little to say good-bye to another year, there are a great many more memories to be made, more time with family and friends to be cherished.

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Happy New Year everyone! May you find health, happiness, and a full heart in 2016.

 

 

Fifth Time’s a Charm

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Thanksgiving is one of my absolute favorite holidays because it is all about food. This year, for the first time in a long time, we will be spending Thanksgiving with family from my husband’s side of the family. I volunteered to bring stuffing (or dressing, whichever you like to call it), and a dessert. For me, those two things are what I look forward to eating the most, so I wanted to make sure that they would be there.

I usually bake my desserts 2-3 days in advance, so I’m not having to do a bunch of cooking either the day before, or the day of Thanksgiving. I decided make pumpkin cheesecake, with a bourbon butterscotch sauce for the dessert this year. I made it last year and both my husband and I loved it. I decided to get even more ahead of the game this year and make the butterscotch sauce the weekend before hand, since it lasts a couple weeks in the fridge.

Now I should probably explain that even though I made this last year, I did not remember to write down my recipe, or even bookmark the websites that inspired it, so I had to figure it out all over again.  I attempted to make a butterscotch sauce the way you make caramel. Meaning you bring the sugar to a boil for awhile, then add the cream. I like the flavor of brown sugar more, but wanted that thick caramel texture, which was something I managed to achieve last year.

I should also point out that I am not someone who can make things up on the fly and have it end up being the best thing you’ve ever tasted. I’m a rule-follower. I like recipes.

So, Esmé went down for her nap and I set myself up. Sugar can burn quickly, so you have to have everything ready, and so I thought I was…

Attempt #1: My first attempt didn’t quite boil up and thicken like I remembered from last year. It was very runny, and the flavor wasn’t as ‘wow’ as last year either. I poured it into a jar anyway to see if it would thicken up after a few hours.  It did not. It also seemed to be separating as well. FAIL.

Attempt #2: As I was standing over it waiting for something to appear different than the first batch, I started to smell burned sugar. ‘Sh*t!’ I said. ‘Sh*t, sh*t, sh*t!’ (Yes Esmé was sleeping, so she wasn’t picking up my bad habits). Not wanting to pour boiling hot syrup liquid into the sink, I poured cool water from the tap into my pot of hot syrup, and the entire thing seized into a crazy sculpture figure inside my pot, with the whisk stuck to it. Brilliant. I thought, just brilliant. Now I have sugar cement in my pot to contend with. I’m pretty sure there were some more choice words muttered as I pried the whisk free, and stuck the pot back onto the heat so I could melt this rock-hard, solid mass off my pot. FAIL.

Attempt #3: This time I got nervous because I was afraid I was going to burn it and have a repeat of attempt #2. I added the cream way too soon, so it didn’t boil up at all. It was even runnier than attempt #1, so instead of wasting more ingredients, I just poured it down the drain. FAIL.

At this point in time I was feeling so horrible about myself and my ability to cook, I felt I simply could not carry on anymore.

‘Husband,’ I said, ‘I just can’t face cooking dinner tonight. You’ll have to figure something out.’ Being the amazing man that he is, he not only threw together dinner, but tried his best to buoy my spirits. Pep talks from him and my sister gave me a tiny little bit of courage to try again.

After we picked up more butter, whipping cream, and brown sugar from the store, I was ready to go again…

Attempt #4: You are going to laugh, but I actually prayed before I started this time, and then I repeated a mantra of ‘please work, please work, please work,’ throughout the entire process. By some miracle of miracles I did not give in to my urge to pour the cream in early so that it wouldn’t burn. The timer went off…I added the cream….and it still did not bubble up furiously. GAH!!!! What the heck?! (Not actually what I said) How did I do this last year with only two tries? I poured it down the drain, again. FAIL.

Attempt #5: My sister had suggested I try adding a little cornstarch to thicken it, so I thought I’ll give it one last shot. But this is seriously the last time that I am going to try this. Again… boil sugar, then add cream…not so much bubbling, but add the rest of the ingredients anyway. It was a little thicker than attempt#1, but the flavor was perfect. I poured it into a jar, because a runny jar of heaven, is better than none. Lo and behold after a few hours in the fridge, it was the perfect consistency! And it did not separate! SUCCESS!!

I don’t know about anyone else, but I have had several ‘aha’ moments reading parenting books, because I recognize myself in their descriptions of what not to do. I think it’s so ironic that reading these books about children, and understanding their behavior actually causes me to recognize more of my flaws than my child’s.

I’ve been reading a book recommended by my pediatrician called ‘Positive Discipline,’ in attempts to figure out how best to discipline our child. I’m not very far along, but something that really struck a chord with me was their discussion about making mistakes, or failures. They say that when your child messes up, or fails at something, you should not humiliate them further by trying to assign blame. Instead have a more positive response, and recognize it as an opportunity to learn.

This past weekend really helped me to see just how far I have to go in bettering myself. Instead of seeing my four failures as opportunities to learn, I got angry and lashed out with profanity. In fact after only three tries I decided that I was going to give up, since I couldn’t make the perfect sauce. It was only after some coaching from my husband and sister, that I remembered what I had read before, and worked up the courage to try again.

So what did I learn from all this nonsense? First of all, do not pour cold water into a pan of boiling hot syrup. You will be cursing yourself for a long time as you wait to melt the mangled, solid mass off your pot.

Secondly, and more importantly, it’s ok to fail. This is really something that parents should tell themselves on a daily basis, but I really struggle with it. I want to be the perfect mom/wife/sister/daughter/cook, so I really feel defeated when I fail at any of those. This is when it helps to have a support team on hand, a.k.a- husband, sister, mom, dad, friend, etc. They can help shake you out of your funk, bring you back to your senses, and remind you that no one is perfect.

This Thanksgiving Eve marks the one year anniversary of my blog. In addition to being thankful for all of my family and friends, this year I am so grateful to all of you who take the time to read my blog. It really means the world to me.

I wish you all a very happy Thanksgiving, and hope that your cooking goes smoother than mine!

 

 

Now and Then

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I had quite a few requests for pictures of Esmé in her Halloween costume this year. My sister suggested I do a picture comparison of last year vs. this year. When I went back to look at last years picture, I realized how much she had grown, and knew that I had to do more than just post a picture comparison. I had to write about a little bit of now and a little bit of then.

Last year for Halloween Esmé was the cutest little pumpkin you ever saw, but we didn’t really get to enjoy the holiday. She was still taking several naps a day, so making a long drive to the pumpkin patch was not an option. No one, besides us, got to see her in her costume because she was far too young to go trick-or-treating, and she was sound asleep for the night by the time trick-or-treaters came to our door.

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This year was completely different. The week before Halloween we decided to take her to a pumpkin patch that had all these different animals and activities for kids to see. We thought it would be perfect for Esmé because she loves to walk around and explore. Lo and behold she did not feel like walking, or standing at all while we were there (we found out later that she had a sprained ankle). Any time we put her down she immediately sat down, stretched her arms up and said ‘up?’ She was not impressed by all the activities.

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She was, however, very excited about the pumpkins, as you can see from the picture above. ‘MUNGIEEEE!!!’ She shouted, (that’s how she says pumpkin by the way). She wasted no time picking out her own little pumpkin and promptly sat down on it. She’s like me when I pick out my Christmas tree…once I’ve got it I’m standing next to it until we carry it out because no one is going to take my tree.

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This year for Halloween, we dressed her up as a monkey to go trick-or-treating with our neighborhood friends. She loves to copy her Papa when he does the Tarzan call, so it seemed very appropriate.

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She and Carson (Darth Vader) were the perfect pair for trick-or-treating. He would take the candy from the bowl that was offered and then Esmé tried to give it back (as she is trying to do in the photo above). If it wasn’t for Carson’s excellent bucket-filling skills I don’t think we would have ended up with much candy. Ha!

In truth she was much more obsessed with everyone’s pumpkins, or ‘mungie’s’ as she calls them. She loved her little pumpkin bucket so much that she walked around the house with it like a purse until I packed it away for the season, (you can see it here).

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Esmé was such a happy little monkey to be climbing stairs, knocking on doors, taking candy, and giving it back with her friend. They really had the best time together, it was so cute to watch.

We did take a video of Esmé before we left for trick-or-treating if you’d like to see (here), and one of her and her partner in crime after they were done trick-or-treating (here).

In short, last year was sweet because it was our first autumn together, but this year was perfect. We had such an amazing time with friends, and an even better time experiencing so many firsts for Esmé as a family, that my heart was full of warm fuzzies by the end of the day. It was one of those days where you wish you could do it over again, just to relive all the fun happy memories.

Growing Pains

I was talking to an old college friend, Dala, after Halloween this year about how this was Esmé’s first year Trick-or-Treating and how she brought in quite the haul.

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I sent her a picture of all of the candy she got, with it all organized into groups of what they were, and all the labels facing up. I mean, isn’t that what everyone does after they go trick-or-treating? Organize their candy so they know what they have?? No?

Before I go on, I have to give you a little backstory… Last month, we went to Arizona so I could visit with my family and friends, and so Esmé could meet several people that she had never met before. While we were there, we stayed with the afore mentioned friend of mine, who happens to be an amazing Interior Designer. As such, her house is spectacular. If West Elm and Restoration Hardware had a baby, it would look like her house.

While Dala showed me her lovely new fridge, she made the mistake of pointing out how every bottle, carton, and container was arranged with labels facing out. I told her ‘OOoooooo! So pretty and organized!!’ but in my head I knew that I now had a secret mission to rearrange them while I was there. And so, while she was doing something on her laptop when Esmé was down for her nap, I turned every single container (yes even the ones in the doors) backwards.

I’m literally shaking with silent (Esmé is sleeping) laughter as I write this, because I still think it’s hilarious. (Sorry not sorry Dali!)

Anyway, it took a long time for her to notice. I actually thought I was going to miss seeing her reaction, but finally I heard an ‘Oh. My. God.’

Ahahahaha!!! I started laughing out loud as she said to me ‘Did you really turn all of these around??!’ She shook her head and repeatedly said ‘That is messed up. That is just so messed up.’ while putting them back in place.

Once she was reminded of the mischievous, conniving person I am, she gave me explicit instructions not to touch her very nice, glass ingredient containers that were all arranged (of course) face forward on her open shelves. Being the good friend that I am, I listened. Then I turned all her spice jars around before we headed down to Tucson.

-End of backstory-

When I sent her a picture of Esmé’s perfectly arranged candy, she responded ‘How would you like it if I came over and mixed it all up, then turned them label faced-down.’ I laughed heartily for two reasons. The first, obviously, because I got to relive my hilarious pranks. The second was that even if she were here to try and get me back for my shenanigans, she needn’t lift a finger. I have a small tornado living with me who does that to me every. single. day.

Esmé actually spent the entirety of last week putting me through the paces, and I failed miserably. She was crankier and needier than usual. I was short on patience and empathy, and we both were missing Daddy, who was out of town.

I screamed and yelled and she gave it right back. I was tired, fighting through a migraine, and frustrated to have such a willful child who wouldn’t listen. Talking to the wall would have yielded better results than I had with her. There were so many times when I wished I could just disappear and have someone else do my job.

I was angry, and frustrated. I felt isolated to be spending the entire week alone with this tiny tyrant. I felt like a failure for not being able to finish anything on my to-do list, and I felt guilty for losing my sh*t for the umpteenth time with my toddler. I thought to myself parenting is ridiculously hard, and I don’t know how I’m going to do this.

It was during this wallowing in misery of the hardship of being a parent that I remembered my talk with Dala. Just a week earlier, I explained to her why it wouldn’t matter to me in the slightest if she came over and messed up our candy. I told her because becoming a parent changes you, and changes your priorities.

It means letting go of so many things that you are OCD about…

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like clean houses, tables, and chairs, because children have to learn how to do things for themselves, and it’s going to be messy. If you don’t, you end up yelling a lot, and then hating yourself afterwards. I told her that it’s the hardest thing in the world, but it makes you the best version of yourself that you never thought you could be.

Parenting is hard work. It is character building, and that comes with growing pains. Literally. You have to think about the kind of person you want your child to be, and try your best to act that way, even when they’re crying/screaming/ whining at you, so they learn from you. You have to be bigger and better than your character flaws. You have to be a grown up, but maintain a sense of humor, and try to see things from a child’s point of view.

When all of that threatens to overwhelm you when you are feeling lowest of the low, remember your own advice and just let it go. Remember that tomorrow is a new day, with a fresh start to do better.

Remember that it’s worth it. For every ‘no’ and/or swath of smeared food on your table, there is a big wet kiss and/or monster hug that will make your heart feel like it can’t possibly fit inside your chest.

Most importantly, remember to be careful showing off carefully organized things if I happen to be your house guest.

Home

A few weeks ago we got the news that we were going to go home earlier than we expected. The project that my husband was working on changed direction, and so there was no need for us to be on-location anymore.

You might think that we were really bummed, because it meant the end of our European weekend adventures, and we were a little bit. Truthfully we were elated!

I touched on how difficult living in Barcelona was in the beginning here, but even after we worked out all the kinks and settled in a bit, we were living in a state of limbo. We had no idea how long we were going to stay, and no time estimate of when we would know. We couldn’t buy basic things that make day-to-day life easier like, mixing bowls, chopping knives, or interactive toys for Esmé because if we were only going to be there short-term, we wouldn’t be able to take them back with us. It would be a waste of money, so we waited, and waited, and waited. We worked with what we had, and tried to make the best of a very difficult, frustrating situation.

When you add the stress of always wondering what’s going to happen, to the frustration of struggles you face on a regular basis trying to assimilate to a new country, the romantic notion of living abroad gets squashed very quickly. We were more than ready to come home.

Everything about our journey home was easy, almost effortless. I say almost because everyone who has kids knows that traveling with children is never effortless.

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They didn’t hassle us with anything when we were checking in. The plane was nearly empty for our international flight, so we were able to take our car seat on board. That meant we had a place to strap in Esmé so we could eat our dinner in peace and watch two whole movies! It also meant that Daddy got to go lay down and take a nap in the row behind us.

There was a little delay for our final flight from Charlotte to Raleigh, and we had a delay in getting one of our bags back, but other than that everything went smoothly. There were no meltdowns from Esmé (or mommy!) and, best of all, when we got home everything was just as we left it. Our house was clean! There was a crib all set up for our daughter to sleep in, in her beautiful nursery! There was a clean bathtub to bathe her in that had a non-skid fishy mat so she didn’t nearly drown while bathing! More importantly there was hot water ;)!

Coming home was a breath of fresh air. It was like peeling myself out of pants that don’t breathe, and are too tight, at the end of a very long day, and climbing into my pajamas.

We are so grateful that we were given such an amazing opportunity to experience Europe, but we are even more grateful to have a comfortable home to come home to when the adventuring is through.