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Clearly, these blog posts are very sporadic.  I’ve long since given up the idea that I would try to use each post to catch up on what has transpired since the last.  There’s just too much.  Instead, I like to think of each post as a screenshot, a way to capture a moment in time.

In many ways, the more things change the more they remain the same.  Lorelei remains in perpetual motion.  It’s difficult, if not impossible, for Steve and I to converse at all during meals. Lorelei often inquires, “Are you talking about me?” and shows her displeasure when the answer is ‘no’.

Erin has been extra awesome lately, involving the kids in all sorts of interactive learning activities.  The latest has them taking on the role of junior paleontologists and learning about dinosaurs.  Lorelei is particularly fond of Pterodactyls.  Today, they went to the Academy of Natural Sciences to top off their dinosaur lesson.  We feel really fortunate to have Erin.  She’s been a gem every step of the way.  She’s planning to get some eggs to hatch in the spring.  I can’t wait.  Loli will lose her mind.  (Edit:  Chicken eggs… not dinosaur, in case there was any confusion.)

I measured L against her bedroom wall today.  It’s been just about three months to the day since I last measured her.  I’d say she’s grown about half an inch in that time.  Not surprising, as I notice how long she’s gotten… particularly when she stretches out on the floor like she did today after her nap.  The last bits of baby-ness are definitely waning. Her long limbs and sturdy body drape beyond the confines of my lap as we sit together in the rocking chair.   She still lets me cuddle her though, so I’ll take it.

Sometimes after dinner, we watch something on the computer.  L and I have taken to watching Ronja, The Robber’s Daughter, on Amazon.  We both like it.  Its a Japanime cartoon about a young girl, Ronja, who is the only child of a robber.  She lives with her mother, Lovis, and father, Mathis, and his band of robbers in a castle set deep in a forest.  Ronja sets out on various adventures in the forest where she is required to be brave and learn new things on her own.  Ronja also just gets sheer joy out of discovering the world around her.  Obviously, I see parallels between Lorelei and Ronja.  Mostly, I love that she stays mostly still, nestled in the crook of my arm for 23 minutes per pop.

And with that, I’ll end with just some random things that L is into these days:

Still on a Dorothy kick

For a while, she was really into King Midas

“Credit cards” that come for her in the mail

Making bread like Mommy does

Owl Hoot, Owl Hoot (aka Hoot, Own, Hoot)

Blue has surpassed orange as her favorite color (thanks to Dorothy’s dress being blue)

Still likes to be tickled and have her back scratched

I’m sure there’s more, but it’s late (for me) and there’s bread to bake in the morning.

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Transitioning

About two and a half year ago, I went to Italy for a week – leaving my newly 1-year-old daughter and exploring the countryside of Puglia.  There wasn’t much time or opportunity for souvenir shopping (just the kind of trip I like), but there was no way I was leaving Italy without *something* for my baby girl.  There was a nice gift shop in the Bari airport and I found a really cute little girl’s dress.  It was perfectly Euro-bohemian.  But the smallest size they had was a size 5.  It would be an eternity before she’d fit it.  Still a mauschen (German for “little mouse”), I couldn’t imagine a day when she’d fit into that dress.  Well… today was that day.

It’s Friday… our Mommy-Loli day and, to be honest, I hadn’t started the day with the highest hopes for how it would go.  Lorelei was a bit of a pill during breakfast – not unusual, but still trying.  I wasn’t feeling particularly long on patience either.  Not a good combination.  Thankfully, Steve had a bit of a lax morning (thanks to the fact that he’s been burning the midnight oil for the past few weeks to get a grant proposal in – which he submitted Thursday morning… Yay Seebo!).    He was able to help out as I got my act together so L and I could begin our day.  In fact, Seebo was the one who dressed her in the Italy dress.  Not aware of it’s significance, Seebo was just tired of looking at the things in her closet that she never seems to wear.  My heart swelled and melted simultaneously when I saw her in it.

We headed to Produce Junction to see what I could pick up to add to our plain-looking boxwood wreath.  I found a few things, but decided we needed something more, so we headed to Michael’s craft store to see what we could find.  I knew I wasn’t getting out of there without some sort of thing for Lorelei.  I successfully navigated her around and away from anything resembling a stuffed animal (I like my marriage) and we settled on a pre-fab gingerbread house kit.  Two birds – one stone:  Loli got something she liked AND we had our activity for the day.

Every once in a while, I am smacked in the face with the reality of how quickly time is passing.  The first instance today was with the dress and the second came when I realized that she is now old enough that we can do craft projects together like this.  Pretty exciting!  No… really exciting!!!!  This feels like what I’ve been waiting for!  And she did great!  Of course, she wanted to eat all the sugary things (and many sugary things she did eat), but she was also really actually helpful in putting the thing together!  (She was also really helpful in getting the sourdough bread loaves into the fridge for their long, 16-hour cold proof as well).  I can sense that a transition is happening which is, of course, bittersweet.

Intermixed with all of this awesomeness, Lorelei has also become more snuggly and initiates more affection… which you KNOW just makes my whole life a zillion times more rich.  She knows that the currency of Loli cuddles is quite highly valued and, of course, uses that to her advantage.  But there’s also been a notable uptick in her spontaneous and not-for-an-ulterior-motive displays of affection, which is very endearing.  This extends to the cats too, particularly Ernie.  She’s learned just the right way to scratch him under the chin and I’ve overheard her professing her love to him when he sidles up beside her.   But she also gives me spontaneous hugs and says sweet things to me and in each of those moments, I just want to bronze it, distill it, freeze it so I can live there forever.

So while there are very real (VERY REAL) aspects to the whole threenager thing, there are also immeasurably wonderful aspects to this age that just have my jaw dropping on a regular basis.  For example, while driving around today we were talking about what you can or should and should not do when you are angry, sad, happy, etc.  We talked about how when you are angry, it’s okay to stomp and maybe yell a bit, but that it’s not okay to hit anybody.  And that when you’re sad, it’s okay to cry and it’s good to talk to Mommy, Daddy, or Grammie about why you’re sad.  When talking about how to cope with feeling sad, Lorelei also suggested that one could sing and/or hug yourself.  And with that I was a puddle… a completely overwrought mom-puddle of pride.

I’m all yours, Mommy

I’ve always been a morning person.  I exercise in the morning.  I tend to be most productive in the mornings, in general.  These days, I’m more inclined to stay in bed.  It’s not because I’ve suddenly become lazy, unmotivated, or extra sleepy.  In fact, I’m wide awake and trying my darnedest to soak up all the adorableness of my daughter and the extra cuddle time I’ve been getting lately.  I know it could vanish any day and never return.  But, for now, I’m loving these mornings.  She pitter-patters down the hall, climbs into our bed, and cuddles with me.   Like actual not-too-much-squirming cuddling.  She’ll tuck her arm under/around my neck, play with my Mommy-orange-hair, and hug me close.  Sometimes she will even fall back to sleep for a few minutes.  It is heavenly.  And more often than not she’ll tell me, “I’m all yours, Mommy.”  Daddy sometimes pouts a bit at this and sometimes, if she is feeling benevolent, she will say to us, “I’m all yours AND I’m all yours.”  We get to share her.  But some mornings, she holds fast that she’s all mine…. and you’ll hear no complaints from me.

It’s all happening so fast

The day is all but done.  L is in bed and I had designs on doing what I can to pick up the place before the chaos begins anew tomorrow morning.  But my heart is full and heavy.  I’m watching my little girl grow up at what seems like lightening speed and, in that process, I am seeing her struggle with some difficult things.

Steve has been away for the past week and is due to be away for about two more weeks.  It’s been an adjustment for both of us.  Of course, I’m a bit better equipped to handle it.  I know what three weeks means and I know that he will eventually return home.  That stretch of time is harder for a three year old mind to wrap around.  Knowing that she has no concept of time, I have just been telling her that Daddy is away on a trip and that he will come home, but not for awhile.

As the days pass, she asks less and less, but I know she still thinks of him, as he comes up in conversation here and there.  Today, Erin told me that L was acting a bit different.  She was yelling a lot, not really at anyone in particular, but just yelling.  Erin asked her if she was ok and if she needed a hug.  With that, Lorelei started sobbing and let Erin hold her as she cried for about five minutes.  While I can’t know for sure, I imagine she is missing Steve and doesn’t necessarily have the words to talk about it directly.  Indirectly, though, a lot of her spontaneous chatter involves people dying or leaving in some way or another and how that makes her very sad.  It’s fascinating to hear her try to work through this confusing time.  I’m impressed by what she can articulate, though at the same time, I know there is still much that she feels that she can not yet put to language.  And with all of this, I’m gobsmacked at how quickly my little girl has become so complex.

I try to be a comfort to her but I know that this is just the beginning of her wrestling with different thoughts and emotions, many of which she will have to figure out on her own.  In the meantime, I’m trying to find that impossible balance between loving her and reassuring her extra extra in her Daddy’s absence and not getting totally walked all over and manipulated by a savvy three year old with an unquenchable thirst for orange popsicles.

Three

The days pass quickly. There is not always time to stop and reflect on all that transpires.  There are moments where I think to myself, “Remember this… you don’t want to forget.”  Sometimes I reach for my phone to try to snap a pic or capture on video what is happening.  But, of course, that spoils it.  Lorelei has been showing less and less tolerance for the camera.  The other day she told me, “Mommy… put your phone away.”  She’s right.  I know she’s right.  I am trying.

I just want to preserve some of this…. because it’s really good stuff!!!  I could, and will, write in flowery superlatives about her wit, her charm, how clever she is (a smart cookie some days, a smart pretzel on others), her kindness, her social savvy, and her empathy…. oh! her empathy.  How does a not-even-three-year-old come to be such an empathic child?  Without batting an eye, she will give you the band-aid off of her freshly boo-booed thumb should you bump your head (right Daddy?).   She will pull into the fold those on the periphery.  She just seems to get it in ways that many adults do not.  It’s not something you can teach.

So… today, being her third birthday, invites even more than the typical amount of reflection on the time passing and, of course, projection for what lies in the year ahead.  As is expected in the third year of life, there has been a language explosion!  I knew it would happen, but it really is incredible to bear witness and participate in it.  Of course, there are still lots of words and linguistic skills to learn and abstract thought is still a ways a way, but I’m in no hurry to get there.  I admit to being slow to correct adorable misspeaks – like when she says ‘bignormous’ or when she refers to her purse as her person.  She will learn soon enough.

Others have warned about the ‘threenage’ year as being the real struggle (as opposed to the terrible-twos).  I can see that we are in for some challenges.  Lorelei, or as we sometimes call her – Hector the Director, can have very specific ideas on how she wants things done.  She’ll tell you exactly where to stand, what to do, what to say.  And, of course, she is learning that she has some power and control over when and how things happen.  She is developing a keen sense on just how she can derail even the best laid plans of Mommy and Daddy.   We will adapt.

Looking ahead, it’s really hard to imagine her turning four next year… because, well, that’s too close to five, which means kindergarten and I’m just not ready for that yet.  I know, I know… I still have over two years.  But the time goes fast.  Lorelei will be the first to tell you that she is not a baby anymore.  “I’m big!” she says.  And, she’s right, compared to where she started (3lbs, 14oz)… she is big… bignormous, even.  But she’ll always be my baby.  And if I catch her in the right moment, I can still get her to promise me that she’ll always be my baby no matter how many years pass.

 

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Bouncing on a trampoline

It’s remarkable how quiet the house can be after Lorelei goes to sleep.   She’s a tornado, but a mostly happy one.

Today is Friday and I am grateful for every Friday that I get to spend with her.  I know these Mommy-Loli Fridays won’t last forever.  She had her first “tumbling class” at a South Philly kids gym.  Even before the class started, Lorelei was bouncing up and down saying, “I love my new gym class!”  When Iris, Teka, Lily, Erin, and Baby Kai showed up, I thought she might lose her mind.  To call it a class is a bit of a stretch.  The young lady in charge did what she could to corral the kids in to circle-time and a few other semi-structured activities, but, of course, all they wanted to do was play.  Not surprisingly, Lorelei spent most of her time on the trampoline.  The girl can bounce!

Chatting with Erin and Teka, we talked about how different the kids are in terms of their dispositions.  We joked that dare-devil Iris would be on America Ninja Warriors or would end up as an Army Ranger.  Erin remarked that Lorelei would likely end up helping people.  In all of her years of working with children, Erin said that she had never met a child so innately caring of others as Lorelei.  Of course, hearing this did not surprise me.  And yes, I am proud of her empathic nature.  Lorelei often asks, “Are you happy?” and is genuinely upset if the answer she gets back is ‘no’.  Still, I can’t help but think that at two years, going on three, it is unusual that she is not more ego-centric (as is age appropriate).  I worry as she gets older, she may value other’s happiness over her own.  But those are worries for another time.  Right now, her attunement to others makes her a good friend, a champion sharer, and a loving ‘big-sister’ to Baby Kai and all the other babies in her life.

Steve and I tag-teamed putting Lorelei to bed tonight.  He took the first shift and I took over just as he was finishing the first book.  We had some silly moments when she was singing non-sense words to well-worn tunes (think ABCs and Twinkle Twinkle… yes, I know they’re the same tune) and just giggling like mad.  I was pretending to get mad/frustrated at her singing the wrong words and tickling her.  The twinkle in her eye and the sound of her belly laugh…. man, I wish I could bottle that stuff.  It’s gold.  I realize it’s not forever and knowing that she’s my one and only, I drink in every last bit of it.  Sometimes the morbid thoughts creep in… the ones that remind me that any day, any second she could be gone forever.  And while I work to keep those thoughts at bay (mostly successfully), they do serve to reinforce my desire to appreciate what I have right now.

 

I’m so grateful for this life

I’m so grateful for this time

I’m so grateful for this love

I’m so grateful for this breath

That little star and all the rest

I’m so grateful for these dreams

Thank God for trampolines.

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Happy 2016/TMI

Yeah… so .. We were in bed before 11pm last night… but it was a busy night before then!  We had the Brims over for a casual fondue feast, cheese and chocolate… you know, the usual.  It’s nice that now the girls are old enough to play together without (much) supervision.  Baby Kai was rockin’ out too, chasing the girls and the cats around while the adults ate and drank too much.  At this age, it’s fun to watch the girls interact.  Their language is advanced enough to where they can bargain with each other, explain their rationale for stealing a toy from the other, but there are still significant communication barriers.  It’s entertaining to watch and (even better) it affords the grown ups some down time.

Tonight, we spent a good chunk of time over at the Mandell’s house.  They host a New Years Day open house every year and we, more often than not, have gone.  This year was different.  This year… I sat around with grown ups and drank wine and laughed.  Lorelei was drawn to the basement where the older kids hangout.  I was, at first, reluctant to leave her down there without parental supervision for fear that she would break a cherished toy or choke on something or who-knows-what.  But much to my delight, the older kids, especially David and Jamie’s daughter, Ari, looked after Lorelei in expert fashion.  Of course, neurotic mother that I am, I peeked in on her every 10-15 minutes.  And when I did everything was fine…. more than fine… like Hallmark card fine.   During one peek, Lorelei was sitting in Ari’s lap and they were watching the Muppet Show and Kermit the Frog was singing Time in a Bottle.  Yeah… really.  It was awesome.

Ok… so I have no good way to segue into the TMI section of this post.  It’s not really even all that necessary that I write about it, but it’s one of those things that I don’t want to forget about 10+ years from now.  So… I’ll just get to it.  A few weeks ago, Lorelei pooped in the little potty.  No… that’s not news… she’s been doing that for a while now.  How such gigantic turds come out of such a little body, I’ll never know.  Anyway…. a few weeks ago, after laying some impressive cable, she took a look at it and exclaimed, “It’s a snowman!”  Since then, she has proclaimed that most of her sizable poop-a-doos (as she calls them) are snowmen.  The lesser ones, she calls ladybugs.  But today, while I was out at the gym, she apparently took it to another level… This one… today….. this one, she decided, was a whale.  Of course, Steve promptly named him Fudgy.

And with that… 2016 is off to a great start!  Can’t wait to see what the year has in store!