Read Lately

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I recently crossed these two stories off my must-read list, and, as they both are stories about France during WWII, I thought I would review them together.

Let’s start with ‘All The Light We Cannot See,’ by Anthony Doerr. This book not only offers a unique perspective on what life might have been like during the war, as one of the main characters is blind, it also includes a treasure hunt of sorts. It was action packed right from the start, so you really want to finish and find out what happens to the characters.

I liked that this was half told from the perspective of a blind girl, Marie-Laure. For me, it made me think how much scarier it must have been to not be able to see what was happening around you, and also how much more heightened the sounds and the smells must have been. It is also interesting, as a parent, to read about what her father does and does not do, or says or does not say to try and shield her from as much as she can.

It was also interesting reading from the perspective of the boy prodigy, Werner, who goes to an elite German school to become a soldier. I was both sickened and saddened by the process of making the boys into soldiers. I know it is a work of fiction, but I’m sure it was based on research of what they were actually like, and it was truly horrific the things taught to them.

As thrilling and compelling as the story was, I felt like the ending just kind of ended, if that makes any sense. I don’t want to give anything away, but I just felt that compared to the rest of the story it could have been better.

I really liked this book, and I thought I loved it. But then I read the next book…

The Nightingale,’ by Kristin Hannah. Do not read this book unless you have 24–48 hours free time! I read this book in two days. It would have been one if I was toddler free. I took it with me in the car to read on the way to the grocery store and the park, I brought it to the dinner table, I took it everywhere with me until I was finished. It’s that good.

The first sentence says ‘If I have learned anything in this long life of mine, it is this: In love we find out who we want to be; in war we find out who we are.’ That is the essence of this story. It is two young women fighting their own battles, the best that they can.

Initially I felt drawn more to the younger character Isabelle. She is passionate about making a difference and she isn’t going to let anything get in her way of helping…not her age, the fact that she’s a woman, or the fact that no one seems to want her around. She fights for a vital role in helping the Allies, wins respect, and gains a sense of belonging that she has yearned for.

In the beginning, I thought that her older sister, Vianne, was weak and cowardly. I didn’t like that she didn’t stand up for herself, and was too self-absorbed to see the good in her sister. As the story progresses, she gets pushed farther and farther out of her comfort zone. With her husband away at the front, she has no choice but to swallow her fears and become strong enough to get her family through this war.

This book has you asking yourself all kinds of questions: How much would you be willing to endure, just to survive? What would you do to protect your own children? How much would you risk to protect your friends and their children? Would you have the courage to fight back against a force that seems so much bigger and stronger than you are?

Most importantly, this book makes you realize that heroes are found in unlikely places, and that we have far more courage than we think we do.

Both of these stories are very good reads, and I would recommend both of them, especially if you love books about WWII like I do. But if you have to pick just one, make it ‘The Nightingale.’

 

Charleston for the Fourth

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When we found out that my husbands parents were coming to town, my husband started thinking of fun things to do with  them. We love Charleston, and his Mom has always wanted to see it, so we booked ourselves a trip for the Fourth of July. As excited as we were to be traveling again, I really had some hesitations about our trip.

First I was worried about two other people being trapped in a car for 4 hours with our toddler. My husband and I are professionals at ignoring Esmé screaming her feelings at the top of her lungs until she feels better, but wasn’t sure how my in-laws would handle it.

Second, we had decided to go to a fireworks show all together, toddler included. This I had all sorts of issues with…It was going to be the first time for her staying up way past her bedtime, and I am super strict about her being in bed by 7:30 every night, so who knows what kind of meltdowns we were looking at; Some kids hate fireworks because they are so loud, they just cry the whole time. Also major meltdown potential; Lastly I hate big crowds, but I hate them even more when I have to navigate them with my child. It just brings out all kinds of paranoia.

Third, Esmé had recently outgrown her pack’n’play, so we were forced to get her a toddler-sized air mattress for our upcoming trips. At home she does a phenomenal job of staying in her toddler bed once we’ve put her down for nap, or the night. She will get up to get a few books for herself, but she climbs right back in bed and ‘reads’ herself to sleep. But an air mattress? Where there were no rails on any sides, so she could get up any time she felt like? I was not looking forward to finding out the answers to these questions.

As it turns out, things went a lot more smoothly than I had imagined they would.

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In the car the grandparents and Esmé were a match made in heaven. They played hard together counting fingers and toes, listened to Oupa’s special bird app that had all different bird calls, read books, talked about cars, traffic lights, and stop signs until they had nothing left. Then they all conked out together.

IMG_6871It was scorching hot while we were there, so much so that my clothing got soaked with sweat, and Esmé had a grand time touching it to make it stick to my body.

We kept Esmé cool by taking her to the fountains at the Waterfront Park. We tried the one where all the jets of water meet in the middle first, and she did not like it! There were actually a bunch of bigger kids who were going around to where the water came out, and putting their hands over it, causing it to spray all over the place (if you look closely in the picture below, you can actually see someone doing it behind us to the left). Which was totally fine! I think if Esmé were 7 or 8 she would be doing the same thing, but as she is a touchy toddler at the moment, she did not appreciate being splashed so much.

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The pineapple fountain on the other hand, she LOVED. She probably would have stayed there all day if we let her. I think this is a much more toddler-friendly fountain. The fountain itself is surrounded by steps that are the highest at the perimeter, then descend lower and lower to the center of the fountain. Basically it created the perfect baby pool for Esmé to lay, sit, kick, and splash in.

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She LOVED the fireworks show. I honestly think that, unless you have a very sensitive toddler, it’s one of the best experiences you can give them, as there is endless entertainment…Lots of people and kids everywhere to watch, lots of pets, lots of different food vendors were there as well, and then there’s the fireworks themselves!

The place where we saw them was one of those situations where you park somewhere and then they shuttle you to the actual place. In our case they used school buses, and Esmé was thrilled. She still talks about taking the bus to the fireworks whenever she sees a school bus.

Once the fireworks started, she was mesmerized. It was the cutest thing. She watched every single one, only taking breaks to tell us they were ‘so pretty’ or ‘vewy, VEWY loud!’

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There was a ton of people there, but it didn’t get crazy busy until after the show when everyone was leaving, which was also the time that Esmé passed out in her stroller, so she didn’t mind one bit.

I would say that the fireworks were her favorite part of the trip, but I know that she loved swimming with her Papa at the hotel pool the most. She asked to do it every day and would swim until her lips were blue and her little body was shaking.

IMG_6868How did the sleeping go? Well, that first night there was not fun. She took full advantage of the fact that she could just say ‘No!’ when we told her to go to sleep and then come over to see what we were doing. She finally crashed close to 11pm or so, but the next three nights went a lot better. I was actually really impressed with how well she did, and it was entertaining to see all the funny positions she fell asleep in.

We did have some meltdowns, but they were more to do with the fact that Esmé is a growing toddler learning to assert her will, more than being out of her normal routine. We also learned some things the hard way, because traveling as a family of five is different than traveling as a family of three. But that’s the thing about travel, the more you do it, the easier it gets, because you learn from your past mistakes.

Even though there were tantrums, and mommy hangry moments, and things forgotten, we still created some pretty magical memories.

Read Lately

 

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Before I had Esmé, I read through about 3 books a month, sometimes more. Then I had a newborn to look after and reading, at least anything that didn’t cover how to get your baby to sleep through the night, went out the window. TV shows that were 40 mins or less that I could watch while breastfeeding took over.

Now that she is older, I have a much more predictable nap time/ schedule that allows me to either binge watch 2-3 episodes of something (is 2-3 episodes of something even considered binge watching? ), or I can catch up on my reading.

I have numerous bookmarked links of ‘must reads’ that I have been saving the past couple years in hopes of some day being able to read them. Now that I have a little extra time I have begun working my way through them, and thought I would share the latest with you.

This particular book is not a new-release, but it’s been on my list, and I absolutely loved it. I’m not going to give you a book summary, because you can get that from googling it, or looking it up on Amazon. Instead, I’m going to tell you what I loved most about ‘The Crowning Glory of Calla Lily Ponder.’

This book had me hooked from the beginning with the dreamy intro from the Moon Lady. The writing is beautifully descriptive and sets up the story perfectly.

I love the way that Calla Lily is written into the story. Her voice is refreshingly simple, honest, but also sensitive. She loves her family, she loves her friends, and she has respect for others regardless of where they came from, or what they look like (this story takes place when segregation was still around). She knows what she wants and she pursues her goals with her whole heart. She is also incredibly funny and kind. In short, it’s very hard to dislike her character.

I also love the imagery that this book evokes. A lot of stories that I have read develop really good story lines, and good characters, but you rush through it to find out what’s going to happen next. This one makes you stop and savor every single step along her journey. You can feel the oppressive heat and humidity of a Louisiana summer. You can taste the richness of the warm butter melting off of freshly baked bread. Your heart will break at least twice, and you will ache with how slow it is to heal.

Lastly I love Calla’s resilience. She faces serious amounts of ugly, life-shattering tragedy. Yes, she breaks-down. Yes, she loses herself a little bit. Yes, she questions ‘why me?’ But once she gets down to rock bottom she slowly, and with help from her family and friends, works her way back.

For me this was a perfect summer novel. I laughed. I cried. I wanted the book to keep going so I could see Calla Lily live out all her dreams. It was an extremely easy book to read. I never got tired, or bored, or overwhelmed. At times it was a bit predictable, but it’s nice to have some predictability when you spend most your days in toddler-induced whirlwinds.

If you are looking for a summer read that is dark, fast-paced, or going to challenge the way you think, this is not the book for you.

However, if you are looking for a story that will take you away from all the craziness of real-life, and deposit you in a vibrant southern dream that leaves you feeling like you just had the best girls-weekend ever, this is the book for you.

 

 

Milestones and Memories: Esmé Turns 2

This is a little late in coming, a few weeks actually, but we blinked and somehow we have a two-year-old!

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We threw her a “Little Blue Truck” party because that was her absolute favorite book in the months leading up to her special day, and the difference between this years’ party and last years’ was incredible.

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For starters, last year she had a whole lot less hair, obviously, but she was also cautious about everything. She was hesitant to try the cake, she wasn’t sure how she felt about everyone singing to her, and she wasn’t crazy about having lots of people over to her house. Basically she could have cared less about having a birthday party.

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This year she woke up asking for ‘chock-oh-lot!’ because she had seen the frosting and the cake layers being made the night before, and she wanted to make sure we knew she had not forgotten. In fact, I had little fingers trying to steal my cookie-crumble ‘dirt’ from around the edges of the cake as I was finishing decorating the morning of. As people began to arrive, she was a little shy at first, but warmed up quickly, and was soon herself shrieking with delight and running laps around everyone.

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Perhaps the biggest change of all came when it was time for cake and singing. First she pointed out that we were ‘making fire,’ then when everyone began to sing she got such a huge grin on her face that split wide open into the biggest smile you have ever seen once she realized everyone was singing to her. We took a video, and it absolutely melts my mama heart to watch it every time.

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Basically it ended up being the best day ever for her.

For those of you who couldn’t be here in person to celebrate with us, here’s a little update on what she has been up to lately:

-At her 24 month checkup she measured 80% for height, 55% for weight, and 90% for head circumference.

-She has all 20 teeth now and has been to see a dentist for the first time! I was very nervous to see how this would go as she can be a little reluctant to open her mouth for brushing teeth sometimes, but she did so great. There were no cavities, and she didn’t cry or fuss one bit when the hygienist cleaned or teeth, nor when the dentist was looking at them. SO proud of my brave girl.

-She is fully communicative and speaks in 4-5 word sentences now, so there’s no more special words or phrases for things anymore. It may take her a couple tries to get it, but she copies everything we say now. This is one of the things that blows my mind on a daily basis. She wakes up talking and doesn’t stop until she is asleep. She is starting to say things without needing to be reminded, and she’s thinking ahead as well. I’ve always heard that kids are sponges, but now I totally get why people say it. She literally picks up every small nuance about us!

-She still loves to help out around the house, and is trying to take on a little bit more here and there… she likes to carry her plate/cup/silverware to the table to eat, and she also likes to take it back to the sink to wash it off when she’s done. She still loves to help out with the laundry, but folding is still overrated for her. She understands that when mama is cleaning with the ‘chembubbles’ (chemicals) she can’t help, and has also developed a new love for vacuuming. If I can just get her to take on the dusting and the ironing, I’ll be set.

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-She is absolutely OBSESSED with swimming. I can’t think of any other way to describe it. She talks about it all week long, and then as soon as we leave she starts up again with everything that she wants to do…’Go under water Mama,’ ‘Get rings Mama,’ ‘Climb up ladder Mama,’ ‘Go down slide Mama,’ and on and on. She loves her coach, and she loves all her friends in her class. My husband and I are big water people, so it has been so fun to watch her develop a love for something we both enjoy.

-She also really loves her Kindermusik class. This has been much more of a slow-to-love growth, but still fun to watch her learn and grow. Another exciting thing about this class is that Esmé has gotten really comfortable with her instructor to the point where she’ll let her hold her and do activities with her. It gives me hope that we might be able to leave her with a babysitter some day.

-She still loves her reading, although she is starting to have a preference for books that either rhyme of have some sort of a plot to them. Besides “Little Blue Truck,” a few of our favorites are “Llama Llama Red Pajama,” “The Three Bears,” “The Wonderful Things You Will Be,” “A Potty For Me,” “Goodnight Moon,” and “The Giving Tree,” which she calls the apple book.

-She has decided that she is ready to be potty trained! I say she has decided because I had heard from so many people that it really doesn’t click until they’re about 3, and I am still working through some other parenting books, so I thought I’ll just wait to buy the potty training one until she’s three. Nope. She comes out to me and says ‘Mama, have go potty. Have go pee-pee.’ Well ok then.

I went ahead and bought the book, which I have yet to open, but Esmé is continuing on with her self-taught-potty-going-method. She hasn’t gone poop in the potty yet because she realizes it too late. She’ll look at me and say ‘Poop!’ and then I’ll say ‘You want to go poop on the potty?’ and she says ‘No. Change you,’ which means she needs her diaper changed. But she goes pee before her bathtime, bedtime, and naptime. She’s so excited about going on the potty she even cheers me on… She follows me into the bathroom, watches as I go, then says ‘Yaaaay Mommy!’ while clapping her hands, ‘You pee-pee on potty! I so proud you!’ No joke.

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If you had told me a little over two years ago that this tiny little baby would become a cherubic, strong-willed, tender-hearted, fire-cracker of a soul with curls to rival Shirley Temple, and eyes that match all the colors of the sea I would have laughed until I peed my pants.

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This year I felt the same sense of dread and reluctance to accept the fact that my baby was another year older as last year, all the while feeling intense joy and pride for all my little girl has accomplished this past year. I think I feel this reluctance to let her grow-up because with each year she gains, it’s one year lost for me, and one year closer to when I’ll have to let her go for good.

Don’t get me wrong. I can not wait to see the wonderful things my daughter will do when she grows up, and the wonderful person she will be, but I don’t think I will ever be willing to part with the piece of my heart and soul she has become.

 

*Photo cred. for all Esmé’s 2nd birthday photos and swimming photo: Alma Alvarado

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.

An Igloo Adventure

When I heard that we were going to get to have lunch in an igloo for our trip to Switzerland, I was pretty excited. That’s like a bucket list thing to do, right?? The husband was more excited about the fact that it was in Davos, which is apparently where all the movers and shakers of the world get together once a year, and going snowboarding, but not me.

Years ago, when Seal proposed to Heidi Klum in an igloo, I thought how cool is that?! Ever since then, I have had it in my mind that visiting an igloo would be this life-changing, amazing experience. Basically I could not wait.

The igloo village was in the Alps, at the top near the ski lodge. I had visions of walking up to the igloo village and strolling around with Esmé in hand. They were promptly shattered almost as soon as we got to the ski lodge, and saw what we were dealing with.

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In the photo above, (which I got from their website) you see what appear to be flat-ish snow hills in the middle of the picture? That’s the igloo village. And those tiny dots that are next to them? Those are people. Skiers to be exact. Skiers who are skiing past on the ski slope to be super exact.

My sister-in-law, Rene, and I stood in the exact same spot as this photographer, atop this hill, wondering how the hell we were supposed to get down there without actually skiing. We had a toddler. We could not ski. Therefore it seemed impossible that we were going to get to check this thing off my bucket list.

We decided to call it off after someone skied over to us, and pointed out that standing on a ski slope without skis is very dangerous, and we should move. So we trudged back up the small bit of hill we had hiked down, back into the lodge to come up with a plan.

First we tried calling the the restaurant in the igloo, where nobody answered. We had no choice but to call our better halves, who were out skiing and snowboarding, to let them know that we couldn’t go. They were just finishing their run anyway, so were headed back to meet up with us.

While we stood in the hall waiting for them, an employee (who spoke excellent English!!) happened to walk past. He took Rene outside and showed her exactly where we needed to walk to get to the igloo village. By the time she returned, husband and his sister were back, so we were back in the game, and ready for our adventure!

Essentially we had to start up at the top of the hill where you see in the picture, but we went in a wider, more roundabout way. (Note: it was not necessarily an easier route, it was just people-without-skiis/snowboard friendly.) We had to walk on part of the ski run, twice actually, and there was a monster hill we had to walk down to get there, but we made it!

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Was it every bit as amazing as I thought it would be?

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Heck yes!! Esmé, as you can see, was not the biggest fan, but I was blown away. The walls literally sparkled. Each room had it’s own artwork carved into the walls. In the picture above, we were sitting on one of the beds that they have for guests who stay overnight.

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The room numbers for the bedrooms were carved ice, lit up at the back so it glowed bright blue.

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As for lunch? You just can’t go wrong with a melted pot of cheese, bread, and wine. It was absolute heaven. At least until little E decided she had had enough. We trudged back across the ski slope to the monster hill, screaming toddler in tow, and began the hectic hike back up to the lodge.

About halfway up the hill, the Swiss Aunties and I noticed that it got very quiet all of a sudden. We turned around to see that Papa had shifted his hold on the little monkey and she had passed out in his arms. Ha! So from then on Emile and I took turns carrying her, like you would carry a baby (only she’s not a baby, she’s a 27 lb toddler)…

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allllllll the way back up to the lodge. You can see me in the photo above, literally grinning and bearing it, as my arms were about to fall off. I don’t know how Heidi and Seal got to/ from their igloo, but I feel like it was probably a lot less schlepping.

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It’s funny because all of us on the way to the igloo and on the way back from the igloo were saying, ‘No way. This is not worth the effort.’ But now looking back on it? I’d do it again in a heartbeat. The almost getting run over by skiers and snowboarders, the hiking up and down steep, slippery, snowy slopes whilst holding a toddler, the carrying a passed out munchky until I collapsed on the cafeteria bench, it was all worth the adventure that we got to have together as a family.

 

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.

 

Milestones and Memories: 20 Months

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I always look back at the last Milestones and Memories post to see what I wrote about, not only to remind myself of what I’ve been writing about, but also to see what Esmé was doing several months back. This time I feel like there has been a huge leap in her development, though that could just be due to the fact that it’s nearly 4 months past the last one I wrote. In any case, here is what she’s been up to lately:

-At her 19 month checkup she measured 92% for height, 77% for weight, and 91% for head measurement.

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-She has 18 teeth now!! See this is what I’m talking about with huge leaps. In her last post she only had 13, so she has grown 5 teeth in less than four months. No wonder we had to start putting bibs on her again because she was such a drool monster! She is more than happy to show them to you if you ask her for a smile.

-She isn’t really signing for anything anymore as she can tell us what she wants. The one thing that she still is kind of working on, is ‘Thank you.’ She can’t quite say it, and especially when she is in a hurry to do something she just signs it hastily instead of trying.

-She is talking up a storm. She loves to copy what we’re saying, or words from songs that she recognizes, and she loves copying animal sounds when she hears them. She is stringing together a lot more words like ‘I take,’ ‘Me see,’ ‘Yes please,’ ‘Papa work,’ ‘Mama cook,’ and saying ‘hi’ and ‘bye’ to various objects/people/animals when entering and leaving a room.

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-She is learning to be a good helper with all sorts of things because she loves to copy mama and papa. She puts her dirty clothes in her laundry basket; she puts her dirty diapers in her diaper bin; she pulls out/ puts away her changing mat; she loads laundry (with a little assistance) into the washing machine, helps take it out of the washing machine to put it into the dryer, and then helps take it out of the dryer once it’s done; she can’t really fold anything, but loves to take everything out of the basket for me; she loves to sweep the kitchen for papa; and most of all she LOVES to help me cook/ bake ( she is perusing my Smitten Kitchen recipe book in the photo above).

-She adores her swimming lessons. She likes her music class, and loves the bubbles at the library’s story time, but far and away swimming is her favorite. In fact we can not talk about swimming lessons out loud in front of her or she gets very upset and starts saying ‘Go poo! Go poo!’ which is how she says ‘go to the pool.’ We have to explain that it’s not swimming day, and we have a big cry about it. So we call it ‘SL,’ or spell it out. She hasn’t figured those out yet.

-She is still an avid climber, but has now added running and jumping to her list of favorite things to do. Technically her ‘jump’ is more of a skip/one-footed-hop, but she’s almost got both feet off the ground!

-She still loves her reading, and is starting to have favorite books, which is fun to see. Her favorites currently are (still) her little Highlights magazines, but she loves ‘Goodnight Moon (Nigh Moo),’ and ‘Rainbow Fish (May-mo Pish).’ She loves the part where it rhymes brush, and mush in ‘Goodnight Moon,’ and is fascinated by the pretty scales on the fish in ‘Rainbow Fish.’

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-We took her to see Santa last month and she HATED it! She started crying before I even let go of her. Oddly enough, she now claims ‘Santa fun! Santa funnn!!’ So she likes pictures of him, but is not a fan of him in person.

-She loves to be outside. She loves digging in sand and dirt, she loves kicking a ball, she loves running around with her bucket like it’s a purse, and she loves all the things that she can see outside: birds, planes (a favorite of hers), clouds, sky, trees, leaves, etc.! We have a park that’s near us where they have a train and it has quickly become a favorite place. She’s gotten a lot better at climbing on playgrounds by herself, and the swings aren’t her favorite anymore. At least not at this park…she is all about the train, or choo choo, as she would call it.

IMG_5711One of my favorite things to see, has been how much her love grows for her Papa. Even though this last picture is blurry, I had to share it because it shows how much she adores him. She lights up whenever she hears his office door open, and hears him coming down the stairs. She loves to have tea parties with him, and loves that he takes her flying (Fy Papa fy!!). Best of all, no one can get her to laugh like Papa does. As you can see in the picture, she is mid-full-body-crumple-belly-laugh and it gets me every time.

 

 

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.