Wednesday, November 14, 2012

To Etta, at 10 months

November 5, 2012
Dear Etta,

Happy 10 months, Little One!  You are growing up so quickly.  Just the other day, I was talking with Tye about Big Girls and Little Girls and babies.  I started to say that you are a baby, and as I did, I realized that you are almost into the realm of Little Girl.  I'm having trouble wrapping my head around that, but it's true.  After all, you're now taking steps.  I wouldn't say you're walking, but you are certainly taking steps.  All this time, we've been wondering if you would be walking by Christmas or by your birthday, and here you are, walking by Tye's birthday.  You'll be running by your first birthday!

You've learned the power of communication.  You use signs, including rough approximations of "more," "milk," and "all done."  You also have this way of holding out upturned hands that seems to mean "I want you," as in "Pick me up."  You've also learned how to play games with us, including chase, keep away from the laptop, and tug of war.  Playing with you is pure joy.

These days, you eat pretty much everything we eat, too.  Some of your favorites are black beans, broccoli, celery, and any type of cracker.  Watching you move the food to the front of your mouth to chew with your four front teeth is entertaining, especially when you have a good mouthful, but somehow you make it work, even with crunchy and chewy foods.  Your appetite is already rivaling that of your sister.  As she told me the other day, "Etta is always hungry."

Sometimes when I see you crawling towards me, I see how tiny you are and take a moment to appreciate you as a little baby.  These moments are flying by all too quickly, and I want to cling to them while I can.  I want to always be able to revisit you with your sideways crawl, your Chiclet teeth, and your bald head.  You bring me so much joy, Etta.  I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you.


Sunday, November 11, 2012

Well, hello!

So, I took some time away while my computer wasn't working.  Yes, my new one.  When I finally took it in to the 5th Avenue Apple Store, I asked the tech fixing it if the store was ever not crowded.  He joked that the store may be at it's emptiest in a few days if the predicted hurricane actually hit the city.  I think we all know how that turned out.
Photo by jaycorcoran,
So much has happened since I updated last.  A quick catch-up...

We went apple and pumpkin picking.  

 We learned where corn grows.
Tye couldn't have been more excited.  She said proudly, over and over again, "I picked my own apple with my own hands!"  
And wouldn't you know- we traveled an hour and a half outside the city, and all Tye wanted was to play in the wood chip pile.  But what a view.
We celebrated Halloween, dressing up as Tye's favorite cartoon characters, Kipper, Tiger, Pig, and Arnold from the Kipper books and cartoon series.  Tye wore her costume for two days straight.  

On a more daily basis, we've been spending lots of time at the local parks and playgrounds.

Oh, and we survived our first hurricane.  But more on that later.  The big news in our home- Etta is walking! She now takes one or two steps frequently throughout the day.
My baby is walking and my oldest is turning 3 this week. 
Time, slow down.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Baby Big Girl

I've learned that I'm a very visual person.  When I travel anywhere, near or far, I rely on landmarks.  When I studied for exams, I often relied on remembering what the textbook page or my flashcard looked like in order to recall a term or definition, utilizing my brain like the screen shot feature on my  iPhone.  My memories are very visual too- glimpses of life, stored like photos stacked in the shoebox of my mind.  

Perhaps it's for this reason that I'm having a really, really hard time dressing Etta each morning.  Last week, I pulled out all the 12-18 month winter clothes we saved from Tye.  Every time I see each handed-down outfit, my mind flips through those photos of Tye wearing it- who gave us the outfit, what we did each time she wore it, where we went in it, how it fit her, even packing the clothes away for Baby Girl 2.  After all, it was just one year ago, after we found out we were having another girl, that I sorted through all these clothes that Etta is now wearing.  

Partly what's causing me so much heartache is that when Tye wore these clothes, I thought she was so big.  One outfit, in particular, I remember Tye wearing one day as we shopped at Costco. (It was this one- a gift from my aunt and cousin.)  
She looked so big that day in her jeans and her coat and her little pink Converse AllStars, sitting on her own in the shopping cart.  I remember thinking she was my little buddy, like my shopping sidekick.  Now, when I see Etta wearing it, I want to cry out, No! You aren't old enough to be my little buddy! You're my little baby!!!  And my heart just aches to slow down time.  

I realize that my new perspective of age and time is also playing a role in these feelings.  When Tye was nine months old, I really did believe she was getting to be "so old" already.  After all, she was eating solid food and crawling and babbling and showing off all her play skills.  We were rounding the curve into toddlerhood.  Now, I see Etta and think she is still so young.  And compared to Tye now, at 2 1/2, she is.  But Etta is also doing all those almost-toddler things Tye was at this age. While I once thought almost-toddlerhood was quite grown up, my current perspective sees it as oh-so-young.  I'm finally understanding how parents unknowingly baby their youngest child.  It truly is unintentional.  (Well, mostly.)

And so, on a daily basis, I deal with this disconnect between my visual memories of Tye the Big Girl and Etta my Baby wearing these same clothes.  I've tied memories to these clothes, and I'm looking forward to adding more photos to the mental stock I've acquired, of course.  I'm finding myself grateful to have a family member to hand these clothes down to when we're done.  The promise of seeing my niece wearing them some day will make parting with them significantly easier.  Otherwise, I don't know how I could part with clothes that are tied to so many memories.  They feel like the link between my Baby Big Girl and what will one day, all too soon, be only memories.  

Friday, October 5, 2012

To Etta, at 9 months

Dear Etta,
Happy Nine Month birthday!  I can't help but think of pregnancy when I hear that length of time- my mommy brain automatically relates anything to gestational duration as a frame of reference, I guess.  While I am amazed that you, my baby, are already nine months old, I have such a difficult time remembering life before your birth that I have a hard time believing you've been here only nine months.  My pregnancy with you flew by in just a few blinks of an eye, but these first nine months with you out here have been so full that they feel like an even longer period of time. You're a part of our family, but also a part of us as individuals- you've shaped each of us to the extent that I wouldn't recognize myself, or Tye or Daddy, without you.

You are very aware of your surroundings these days.  As we walk down the street, you in the carrier on my chest facing me, you love to lean as far to the side as you possibly can so you can see more of the world, especially when we see dogs or people.  When we attend our weekly Music Together classes, you watch the teacher and other participants with a very serious expression on your tiny face.  You recognize people we see often, like Tye's friends' and their younger siblings, but you are also deep in the throes of stranger and separation anxiety.

In fact, I think your separation anxiety has encouraged you to pick up your crawling pace.  You can cross a room quickly now, especially if it is to reach one of us.  Your crawl is an adorable hand-hand-knee-foot, with your left leg raised to propel you as quickly as you can.  You're still doing a lot of cruising, though, and you will pull yourself up to standing on any item possible- a parent's pant legs, the decorative fireplace cover, Mico's body.  You're certainly motivated to move.

You've begun talking much more over the past month, babbling with a new range of consonants.  You babble so much that it's hard for us to know when you're intentionally speaking versus just exploring your sounds.  So far, we know we've heard Mama, and you once said "HiTye" (merged as one word) three times in a row, looking right at Tye as you stood up and saw her over the coffee table.  We know you understand what we're saying to you, because when we say certain words- like people's names- you'll look right at the subject.  Knowing you're participating in the conversations makes them that much more fun.

Nine months.  You've forever changed our lives in such a relatively short amount of time.  The emotional portion of your nine month birthday, for me, is knowing you've grown been outside of me as long as you grew inside of me.  No matter where you're growing, Etta, you'll always be my baby.  I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you.



Monday, September 24, 2012


We spent the weekend with our dear friends Alison and John and their daughters Charlotte and Lillian, who live outside of Boston.  Alison's family grows cranberries, and this weekend happened to include the first day of harvest.  Their family was kind enough to invite us to watch and even get our feet wet (or dry in waders).

In a few days, the berries will be collected and driven to this Ocean Spray facility, where they're weighed, sorted, and sent on their way to become Craisins and juice.  

Oh, and speaking of juice, if you pick up a bottle anytime soon, look for the one with our friends' picture on the back label.  How cool is that?
We spent all day at the bogs, watching as the pickers drove through flooded bogs, releasing the berries from the underwater vines.  The girls played chase, rode bikes, and explored the grass.  Tye went barefoot all day long.  We even ate our fair share of cranberries straight out of the bogs.  

I needed this trip desperately.  I needed to get away from the city to place with open views of the sky, pockets of dense green woods, truly fresh air, and open space.  This weekend, I felt like I could actually breathe again.  I also needed to connect face-to-face with a close mama friend, and Alison is just that.  To top it all off, Alison and John watched our girls for us so we could attend a wedding reception Saturday night- our first time out together not just since Etta was born, but since we moved to New York almost  year ago (and my first time in heels in even longer).  Seriously, words just don't express how much I needed that!  

Coming home, I feel refreshed in a way I thought would have required a weeklong vacation.  My city-induced claustrophobia has been eased by acres of open space and my loneliness soothed with hugs and mama therapy.   Amazing what a weekend can do.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Smiling Faces! Sometimes...

Good news!  We finally had faces free of bruising long enough to make it to a photo studio!  Not-so-good-news- most of our portraits turned out something like this:
 The really kind woman working at the studio just wasn't a natural with kids.  She kept scaring Etta by yelling "Boo!" really loudly in her face, causing Etta to scrunch up her brow in concern.  And rather than making Tye smile, she asked Tye to say "Cheese."  Which resulted in this.
It could be worse, but when I look at this shot all I see is a girl being coached- like Honey Boo Boo and little pageant girls.  Not what I was going for.  Still, some of the shots turned out well.

In the end, I'm just glad we made it to the studio to record Etta at this age, whether the photos are stellar or not.  These portraits look even worse after revisiting Tye's here

The very next day, as we were walking through Brooklyn, strong winds blew a tree branch down and it landed on our heads.  As I was leaning over Etta, making faces at her, the branch hit the back of my head and broke into two pieces, scratching Etta's head as it fell to the ground.  I'm fine, but Etta started crying deep, choking sobs immediately, a cry I haven't heard since she was an infant.  She was terrified and hurt, but fortunately not seriously. She has a few light scratches on her cheek and a deeper one, with a bruise below, on her temple (left through her hat even).

It was a really scary experience for me, too- to suddenly have something huge hit me, then Etta, and then hear Etta cry like she did.  Wow.  Once Etta and I both calmed down, I started thinking of all the what-ifs.  What if I hadn't been leaning over Etta and the branch had hit her tiny head straight on?   What if it had been bigger?  I decided to just be grateful for our safety.  And grateful that we had already had portraits taken.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Butterflies and Roses

My favorite aspect of toddlerhood is getting to know my daughter as a person.  I learn something new about her almost daily.  Yesterday, I let Tye pick out fresh flowers at a neighborhood bodega.  As she carried home a bouquet of hot pink roses, she proclaimed, "These are my favorite flowers I've ever seen."  (Boys, take note.)  Once we arrived at home, she allowed me to put all of them into a vase except for one, which she broke off near the bloom and carried around with her the rest of the evening.

This morning, when Tye woke, I reminded her that today was our first day of fall music class.  She was so excited that she sang and danced all around the apartment, carrying with her the single rose, as if it was her dance partner.  When it was time to get dressed, she specifically requested the yellow dress with butterflies that GG gave her.  This is the longest dress in her wardrobe, which in her eyes, makes it the most princess-y.  Once it was on, she twirled about as she sang.  As we left for class, Tye insisted we bring the rose so she could dance with it.

To anyone on the street, Tye was a toddler carrying a broken rose.  The toddler I see and know, however, was a princess wearing her finest dress, who brought her favorite dance partner she's ever seen, all so that she could be prepared for her first day of music class.

I'm already looking forward to next week's special preparations.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Another lesson in flexibility

I planned to take the girls for studio portraits yesterday. I really want to have them done before Etta's teeth start to show in her smile so we can capture her gummy grin. But then she wiped out while cruising around the coffee table and hit her nose on the leg of the couch (seriously, how do you baby proof for that?!?). Oh, the perils of cruising. Hopefully next week's tumbles won't leave any marks on faces.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

To Etta, at 8 Months

Dear Etta,

Happy 8 months, my sweet baby!  In the past month, you've become much more mobile.  You aren't crawling yet, but you are scooting around enough that you often end up in a very different place than where you were set down.  Not only are you pulling yourself up to standing now using anything near you, but you're now cruising, walking along the edge of the coffee table and couch as you stand.  To go long with your first tooth, you've begun eating more food- not just tasting it, but actually eating it.  Sweet potato and frozen banana are your favorites so far, though you've only tasted a few foods.  Your hair is becoming blonder, and I don't think it's from the sun, as you wear a sunhat everywhere we go.  I think you just may be a blondie after all.

The biggest change I've noticed in the past month is that you're making your needs known and vocalizing more often.  Today, when Tye let you lick her ice cube and then took it back to lick it herself  again, you screeched.  She offered you another lick, and again, when it left your mouth, you screeched.  You really wanted that ice cube, and you let us know!  You also yell when you see but can't access something you want- a toy across the room, or food on our plates.  My favorite is your new, happily excited "Ahh! Ahhh! Ahhh! Ahhh!" sound when you know you're about to nurse.  I love knowing you're looking forward to your meal from me as much as you love table food.  Even with all your new vocalizing, you're maintaining your easy-going ways. When we're out and about with you riding in the carrier, you couldn't be happier, no matter where we are.

And I'm doing my best to soak up every minute of it.  You'll only be this cuddly in the carrier this often until you start walking.  I'm also making a conscious effort to pause and appreciate each time you excitedly grab on to me and bury your head in my shoulder or arm, as if you're just so excited you can't handle yourself.  Oh, how I love that.  I'm loving seeing so much of your personality and getting to know more about you as an individual.  I already love you so much, dear Etta Maeve.  I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you.


Tuesday, September 4, 2012


Welcome to...
...our new favorite hideout in Brooklyn, the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens.  
The Children's Garden has a selection of hands-on activities, like a stream, a water pump, a water table with floating aquatic plants, and a compost pile with worms and shovels for digging, plus fragrant plants, butterfly plants, and flowers that tower over even me.
Exploring the rest of the gardens provides an escape from city living as we walk among tall trees and through open spaces.  Our favorite places so far include the Japanese Gardens for the koi and turtles swimming in the pond, the Native Species Garden for the ten foot tall walls of thick prairie flowers, and a little tree cave that covers a portion of a stream running through the middle of the gardens.  
One of the things I love most about our neighborhood in Brooklyn is that we're surrounded by playgrounds.  We have more than I can count within a one mile radius of our home- at least 10 or 12.  We can stop for a quick climb on the way home from running errands or have Tye ride her scooter to one without worrying about her tiring out on the way home.  We could easily visit a new one each day of the week.  The playgrounds provide Tye with a great opportunity to climb, run, jump, hang, and usually interact with other kids.  
Recently, though, I've begun to feel playground overload hitting.  Maybe it's just the end of summer, or maybe we need to walk further and explore some new locations.  Maybe we really have spent too much time in the chaos of kids running, screaming, tumbling everywhere we look.  Whatever it is, I feel like the BBG provides exactly the opposite- peace, greenery, quiet, opportunity to explore- while also outdoors.  
The Gardens have boulders for Tye to climb and jump from, open spaces for running, and stairs to tromp up and down.  I can put Etta down in the grass.  We can all engage our senses smelling flowers, leaves, and dirt, looking at the colors and shapes and light and space, feeling the water and plants, and listening to the sounds of nature- which Tye points out by saying, "Do you know what I hear, Mommy?  A jungle!"  

Do you know what I hear? Imagination growing.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Look out, world!

This smile is now equipped with a tooth!

I'd like to thank amber teething necklaces, drool bibs, raw carrots and frozen mango slices for their contributions towards this new achievement. No matter how much they were gummed, no woven wraps or fingers were harmed in the making of this milestone.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Things I've Learned This Summer- A Summer Summary

We're back!  I'm typing to you from my new laptop- a tiny little 11" beauty that will soon be outfitted with covers and protectors on almost every inch, and will never, ever, ever be placed on the same table as a glass of water.  

After a few weeks of being unintentionally unplugged, and with Labor Day approaching, I thought a list of things I've learned this summer felt really appropriate.  Hope you enjoy catching up with our new knowledge as much as we've enjoyed our summer. 

This summer, I learned...

How to carry Etta in a woven wrap on my back.

Younger siblings really do reach some milestones more quickly than their older siblings- like pulling up to standing.  Wow, Etta.

When fishing in Prospect Park, you're more likely to catch turtles than fish.

Target is always hot.  The local grocery store is always cold.  I should dress us appropriately.

Although it may sound counterintuitive, the more people who share an air mattress, the easier it is to sleep.

Real men wear non-toxic blue toe nail polish.

Each adult entering a NYC public pool is required to have a padlock, and all children under 4 need to wear a swim diaper.

This recipe for coconut flour zucchini bread is just as good as regular zucchini bread.  Really!  (Cook's note: drain the shredded zucchini first and add a generous amount of dark chocolate chips.)

Tye thinks I look like this- and, apparently, that I have a mustache.

Any chux absorbable pads left over from a home birth make easy toddler mattress protectors.

Cheap travel spray bottles from Target make awesome replacements for water guns.

Breastfed baby sweat smells strikingly similar to breastfed baby poop (at least, Etta's does- do I just have a stinky baby?).

The Bronx Zoo's Asia Monorail ride provides the perfect opportunity for a 20 minute nap.

BabyLegs makes mesh versions with SPF to keep baby's legs cool and protected.  Genius!

No matter how many flavors of ice cream she tries, Tye's favorite is always "white."

Hot dogs are delicious- when they come from our CSA and are made from local 100% grass-fed beef.

It wasn't that Etta didn't like baths or water.  She just didn't have the right company until recently.

Stonyfield Farms Yogurt Squeezers, those plastic tubes of yogurt marketed to kids, can be frozen to make super easy frozen yogurt popsicles that happen to be Tye's favorite food right now.

Cornstarch and water, combined to form that solid/liquid goo, keeps Tye entertained for literally hours- but some will always end up in her mouth, so spending money on organic is justified.

The wine fridge makes a great overflow storage option for farm share vegetables that won't fit in our compact kitchen refrigerator.

Sometimes the hardest part of toilet training a toddler is convincing her wiping is an important step.

This tree is called a Rose of Sharon and is a type of hibiscus tree that thrives in urban (read: poor) environmental conditions.  We have four in our backyard and they are blooming all over Brooklyn.

During early summer, Rose of Sharon trees attract aphids, which attract ladybugs.  Ladybug larvae do not survive in bug jars, even when supplied with aphids.

Lightning bugs do survive in bug jars, for over 24 hours if supplied with a variety of leafy herbs from the garden.

Tye's favorite playground doesn't have a slide or swings.  Just bars to climb.

And, I saved the best for last---  I'm going to have a niece!  And Tye and Etta are going to have a cousin!!!  Tyler's sister is due with a girl in December.  This little girl is already a member of our family and we can't wait to meet her.  I'll finally be Auntie Em!


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