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.

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.

 

 

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.

Sunset Magic

October is one of my favorite months of the year because it is the start of the holiday season (for me), and it’s a time for believing in magic. Whether you love the magic of multiple aisles of candy at the stores, costumes from fantasy worlds afar, or the every day magic of the changing season, it’s a time of year that everyone can enjoy.

To celebrate, I thought I would share with you not only our favorite memory from our recent trip to Portland, but our own glimpse of magic… the perfect sunset!

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We had decided to take our first Saturday in Portland and drive out to Cannon Beach. The drive itself was unbelievable. Leaving Portland, it starts out with open meadows, and farmland nestled in between tree-clad hillsides. The contrast in colors of the straw-yellow, harvested fields, to the bright red barns, to the dark evergreen of the pines was gorgeous. Then of course you’ll also see hidden gems of golds and ruby reds peaking out from behind the giant evergreens. I literally spent the whole of the drive on the very edge of my seat, craning my neck all around trying to see it all.

As we got closer to the coast, we saw less open areas, and less deciduous trees of color, but much more coniferous. Indeed it felt very much like we were driving deep into a dense, dark, haunted forest. And we were! Until all of a sudden the coastline appears before you. I was completely taken by surprise.

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Here in North Carolina the landscape tends to get more sparse as you head towards the coast. The trees get shorter, are farther apart, and things look more, well, beachy. In Oregon the forest backs right up to the sea. It is the most amazing thing in the world. If you stand with your side towards the ocean, you can look straight down the beach and see mountains on one side, and ocean on the other.

By the time we had finished exploring Cannon Beach, and a little ways south down the coast, I told Emile that it looked like we might be able to see the sunset on the beach. He argued that the view would be better from atop a hill. I said no I think it would be much better to be at sea level, and he still insisted otherwise. I acquiesced.

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Esmé was happy because she got to run around in the grass. Mama and Papa were happy that it wasn’t the beach, where she would be eating, throwing, and smearing sand everywhere. She tried her darndest to channel Taylor Swift, but I told her no one was going to remember her staring at the sunset because she wasn’t standing. The song says nothing about running, it’s standing. Sheesh. Well I guess she wasn’t wearing a nice dress either. I digress.

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The evening looked promising. There was just enough cloud cover to display an array of colors, but not so much that it would block out the sun completely.

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Then the sun got lower, and more clouds rolled in. Now there was only a tiny gap in the clouds. We waited and waited, until I was sure that we had missed it because the sun had already missed the gap.

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All of a sudden the gap began to glow with a pale yellow light.

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It got brighter and brighter…

IMG_5419until the sun burst through the clouds in golden brilliance. I screamed over my shoulder ‘Husband! Husband! It’s here! We didn’t miss it!!’ and then just continued to say ‘wow’ over and over again, while taking as many pictures and snapchats as I could. I honestly have never witnessed a more spectacular sunset. Just behind those trees was a cliff that led down to the sea. The gap between those trees closer to us, and those farther away to the left was filled with mist from the waves rolling in, and the sunset actually lit the mist up in this soft orange glow, making it look like there was a fire.

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It illuminated the entire landscape with a rosy glow, so the grass looked greener, the mountains looked more purple, and Esmé looked like a magical fairy stuffed in a fleece jacket.

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Ok, ok. I know she doesn’t look that magical in this picture, but she did when she was running around, and the sunlight turned her hair into spun rose-gold curls. Emile caught a little bit of it on video here.

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Just as suddenly as the sun appeared, it tucked itself back into the clouds once more and disappeared for the evening, leaving the mountains (and us) to be enveloped by the evening mist. A truly magical, very October-ish, end to our perfect day.

Barcelona Beaches

A little while ago a couple from Canada asked me to take their picture at one of the tourist attractions here in Barcelona. Initially she asked using very basic English with lots of hand gestures.

I laughed a bit, because she thought I was from here, and obviously didn’t speak English. I don’t blame her. Not many people here do, so I actually sound like she did most of the time. The only difference is I’m speaking broken Spanish to the people I’m gesturing at.

I told her sure I’d be happy to take their picture, and she carried on with the gesturing of what she wanted, still not realizing that I’d responded to her in English.

After a few sentences, it dawned on her that I was speaking the same language she was, and she started making small talk asking how long we were staying. When she found out that we had in fact been here for a little over a month for work, she wanted to pick our brains for the best things to see and do.

I was so excited! We were actually helping tourists, because we were (kind of) locals! We were able to give them a ton of tips until they asked about where the best spots were for nightlife. Uh…bars? Clubs? Dancing? What are these things you speak of? We have a toddling tyrant who requires us to be home in the evenings. Therefore we are completely useless in that category.

The one thing that they were most interested in were the best beaches to see. I figured since I have also had requests from friends, who will be visiting in the near future, on where to go and what to see, that I should do a beach roundup of our favorites. Here is my inordinately detailed list of the best beaches in and around Barcelona:

Barcelona

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If you are looking for a beach with all the action, Barcelona is the place to be. There are literally stretches of semicircle beaches as far as the eye can see, jam-packed with people looking to have some fun. There’s beach volleyball, soccer, tons of restaurants and bars (huge plus for Americans like us, who generally bring coolers with our own libations to enjoy), and, if you’re brave enough, there are nude beaches for those hoping to get rid of tan lines. Or maybe they just like to strut their stuff? Flaunt it if you’ve got it? I don’t know. I’m certainly not that brave. Working in a dermatology office makes you afraid of the sun.

These beaches are also very easy to get to if you’re only staying in Barcelona for a short while and don’t have the time to drive an hour away to the other beaches listed here. You can also rent umbrellas and lounge chairs, which is handy as I don’t think many people travel with one.

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The beaches in Barcelona are also very kid-friendly. People who have strollers to worry about needn’t worry too much because there is a wide, paved area for pedestrians and bicyclists the whole way down the beach. The sand is also a little bit finer, similar to that on the coasts in the States, so if your toddler is into eating sand/dirt and sand immersion (see above), it’s easier to digest than beaches I’ll talk about in a moment.

The thing that we didn’t like about the beaches here were that they were very crowded. It kind of feels like people soup when you go to take a dip in the ocean, and the water is a little murky because there are so many people there kicking up the sand. We like to have a little bit of breathing room, particularly when swimming with our little one.

Sitges

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I love love love this city! I think it may partly be due to the fact that it was the first smaller ‘Europeanish’ town that I saw, but I absolutely fell in love with it. This place is a little over half an hour away south from Barcelona, and the drive can be quite lovely if you take the highway near the coast. The beaches here are still busy, but the one we saw was smaller, so it wasn’t the huge crowds that you would see in Barcelona.

The thing that I love most is that there are all these white-washed homes with bright colored doors and windows that lead up to the beach. I haven’t been to Greece yet, but that’s kind of the feeling I got. Lots of narrow, winding streets, where you’ll turn a corner and be completely surprised by some new charming detail.

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This is also a very good place to go if you are looking to do some shopping. While Barcelona does have limitless opportunities for shopping, it is still a little expensive, particularly if you are visiting when they aren’t having sales. Sitges offers numerous little shops tucked away in between restaurants and homes that are much more affordable. So if you’re going for a beach day, be sure and check out the shops while you’re there, as you’re bound to find something you’ll love.

Lloret De Mar

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The beaches here are an hours drive north from Barcelona. They are near the beginning of Costa Brava, as such is quite a sight to see. It’s a rocky coastline that has several beach areas to choose from. If you bring your snorkeling gear you can swim out among the rocks shown above to see the brilliant colors of the water. We did a beach day here and my husband did just that, and he absolutely loved it.

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If you decide to make this location your destination for a beach day, you have to check out the ‘Jardins De Santa Clotilde.’ Even if you are not a beach person and you’re visiting Barcelona, it’s worth the drive just to see the gardens. The fact that it is #2 on Tripadvisor of things to do in this city should tell you something.

Finding the gardens was a little tricky for us because if you search for it on google maps, it will route you to an Oficine de Turisme, which is not close to where the gardens are. I would use Apple maps if you have it( it took us to the right place), or look for Avinguda Santa Clotilde, which will become Passeig Jardins. The entrance to the gardens is at the front of the traffic circle, where Av. Santa Clotilde becomes Passeig Jardins, and there are signs that show you where to go.

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We also thought that you could get to the gardens from the beach, or vice versa, because some of the photos on Tripadvisor appear as though it leads out to the sea, but it does not. It does offer you amazing views of the sea, and you can see a smaller beach that’s tucked away behind the gardens (in picture above), which was the beach we chose for our beach day!

This beach does not have the fine, Barcelona sand though. Instead it is lots of very small pebbles, so when your toddler tries to eat it, be prepared to hear a much more pronounced crunching sound. There is also little shade available, so if you are sun-phobic, or have a fair-skinned child as I do, you should bring an umbrella, or sun-tent if you plan to be there all day.

This is also the place to be if you are looking for fun-filled night life. Driving around the city we saw countless clubs, bars, and casinos everywhere. You could drink, lay out at the beach day all day (please use sunscreen), walk back to your hotel, have a nice little siesta, and then boom! Ready to party! Again, not really our thing, so can’t recommend specific places, but there were many, many young people wandering around the streets there, so that tells me that’s where the parties at. I can’t believe I just said young people. Now I feel and sound old.

What we didn’t like, again, was the fact that there were so many people in the water with us. If you go to the smaller beach near the gardens like us, there are less people than over on the main beaches, but it does mean that everyone there is squashed into a much smaller area of water. Also for families traveling to this beach, it is a bit of a hike to get to the one behind the gardens, so it is a little cumbersome with all the baby things.

Tossa De Mar

IMG_3842We thought that Lloret De Mar was pretty amazing, until we saw this place. I mean who doesn’t want to see a castle on the beach? Tossa De Mar is only 20 minutes north of Lloret De Mar, so it’s an hour and 20 minutes north from Barcelona. If I had to choose between the two of them I would choose this one. I felt like it was a little less party-central than Lloret De Mar.

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The castle is actually called Vila Vella and the original structure dates all the way back to the 13th century! Inside the walls there is what they call the Old Town, which is a village where all the buildings and streets are cobbled. It is such a charming place to see.

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If you walk all the way up the hill inside Vila Vella, you will not only get gorgeous views of Costa Brava, but also see the remains of a late Gothic church that was built during the 15th century. I think that may be one of the reasons why I prefer this beach to Lloret De Mar. There’s a little more history and personality to this location… lots of places that make you stop and wonder what life was like for people when all of this was built.

History aside, there are also more shops and restaurants to wander around and peruse as opposed to Lloret, which was focused more on bars and clubs. It’s a really great place for families with young children, or anyone looking for a more peaceful retreat.

The only downside was getting around Vila Vella with a stroller. You either need one that is pretty good for off-roading with all the cobblestones, or one that is light enough (like an umbrella stroller) to carry around. Ours was the latter, so Daddy carried around the baby, and Mommy carried the stroller. Totally worth it.

Camino De Ronda- S’Agaro

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If you can only choose one of the places I’ve mentioned so far for your beach day, this is it. It’s only an hour and 15 minutes north from Barcelona and is a must see. I have never in my life been to a place that just keeps unfolding into postcard perfect views. I felt like I was walking through someone’s Pinterest travel board.

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Camino De Ronda is a path that runs right along the coastline of Costa Brava. It offers view, after view of sparkling clear water in rich blues that blend into bright greens. As you walk along the path, you will notice stairs that lead down to the sea nestled in the rocks.

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If you find that you are perspiring from walking too vigorously, fear not! Simply take one of the many paths down to the sea, enjoy a quick dip, carry on with your walk, and repeat as necessary.

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There is also a nice wide stretch of beach towards the end that actually has a little bit of shade! We were very excited. As you can see, even though it was busy, the water is not overcrowded as it was in some of the other beaches, and we were there on a Saturday. You definitely have plenty of room to stretch out and relax.

The only bad thing about this place is that it was a little difficult with a stroller. The worst part was getting down to, and up from the beach. There were many, many stairs. Once you make it to the Camino De Ronda, you’ll find that it alternates between stretches of path and 3-4 stairs up or down; so you definitely need to prepare yourself for carrying the stroller around. It really was a mission, but we are already planning our next trip here because it’s absolutely the prettiest beach that we have ever seen.

 

We Officially Have A Toddler

 

FullSizeRender (2)This has been something that we have been waiting and waiting and WAITING to happen. Everywhere we go people are always asking if she’s walking yet, and we always see toddlers that are half her size running around, (she is pretty tall), but right after it happened I turned to my husband incredulously and said ‘How did this happen??’

She was just so fast and happy about crawling I kind of thought maybe she would just carry on that way forever. I realize that this is a good thing, and all part of growing up, but I honestly feel a little sad. My heart feels full with pride, but oh so ache-y and like it’s being squeezed at the same time.

We used our last milestone card, I filled in the last blank space in her ‘So Many Firsts’ section of her baby book, and I’m in a little bit of shock about it.

Baby books are kind of evil by the way. Sure it’s cute, and such a nice way to keep all your baby firsts organized, but it requires you to look through all the old pictures and mementos every time you need to add something. You start feeling all nostalgic, and pretty soon you’re wishing you had another small, squishy baby to snuggle and smell.

I’m onto you baby paraphernalia makers. I’m onto you.

In going back through all of her stuff I realized that this time last year we were celebrating our ability to roll. I’ll say it again…How did this happen??? I mean really, because I swear that rolling thing happened just yesterday.

Today was just like any other day: her pounding crawl following me all over the apartment until she found an object to pull herself up on; vehemently refusing to walk unless she had both my hands to hold on to; proud to stand up on her own (she applauds herself), but firmly shakes her head ‘no’ when you ask her to step-step. Then Daddy came home, and we were all sitting in the living room chatting, when she decided she was ready to walk! Apparently she was just waiting for Daddy to show off her skills. Emile quickly ran to get a phone to record it, and we enjoyed several repeat performances ;).

We are so, so proud of our little monkey.

And time? You can slow down now. Really. That would be super.