Pack-kudge from Miss Lisa!

Posted April 30th, 2011 in inspiration by Mitsy

Sonya, Leena, and I looked out at the muddy park from our living room window. The early morning rain had stopped. We saw the mail truck drive up our street. Immediately, Sonya got excited. “Pack-kudge!” she said, her first use of that word, pointing as the mailman got out with a brown box.

“That’s right! Package” I said, as she excitedly jumped off the windowsill and headed for the front door.”But it’s not for us, Sonya,” I added, hoping she wouldn’t be overly disappointed when she realized that not every package in the mail was sent for us.

But, as you can see from Sonya’s smile, I was wrong. The pack-kudge was for us!

Turns out, Sonya knows all kinds of vocabulary surrounding packages. “Shurrs,” Sonya said as we brought the box into the living room. I went to the kitchen and got the scissors. “Cammer,” Sonya said. I got the camera and adjusted the settings. “Tep,” Sonya pointed as I cut into the tape. “O-pen!” she announced clearly as she started pulling tissue paper out of the box.

“Ball!” Sonya said, carefully inspecting it. “Vee!” she said proudly, pointing at the embroidered letter.

From the way she had the ball oriented, it wasn’t a bad guess, but I I told her it was actually a letter L for Leena.

“NeeNee,” Sonya said, nodding. Then she decided to see what else was in the box.

“Ess!” Sonya said when she unwrapped her special handmade ball. She knows that S is for Sonya.

These are lovely. One-of-a-kind. A beautiful surprise. Thank you, Lisa. They will be squeezed and thrown and kicked.

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Return of the Flower Bear

Posted April 27th, 2011 in inspiration, montreal by Mitsy

“Hey, tith-ter,” Sonya says in the morning, climbing up the side of the crib. Leena turns toward her big sister’s voice.

And there it is— a poignant daily ritual that Sonya created. One of the purest, tenderest moments that can take place between two human beings.

Let’s go back to when Drex and I were new parents. This is Christmas 2009 with Sonya in her Flower Bear outfit— which we found both absurd and adorable. She was five months old when Jaylene took this picture.

Fast forward sixteen quick months. And it’s Return of the Flower Bear.

The outfit still has some room to grow, but NeeNee is only six weeks old and already wearing hand-me-down six-month clothes! She is definitely drinking plenty of Mommy’s milk!

She spent most of Writing Wednesday cheerfully on my lap. For the past six weeks, she’s been listening to me reading aloud what I type over a soft background of classical music. I’ve mostly been working on freelance articles and a short story for a contest.

Meanwhile, Sonya got moved into The Big Kid Room at daycare today. Wow. They’re just growing up so fast.

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Easter eggs

Posted April 24th, 2011 in adventures, inspiration by Mitsy

Last night, we dyed Easter eggs. I didn’t realize how much Sonya would enjoy it. Ever since she came across the egg coloring kit, she’s begged us to open it, excitedly pointing to the colored eggs on the cardboard box.

She attentively followed our advice for handling the eggs— which actually surprised me, even though I know she’s an exceptionally trustworthy toddler. Sonya gently lowered the eggs into the cups, waited patiently while the shells got dyed, and then carefully got them out and placed them on the kit box, which has punch-out holes to become an egg drying rack.

Then Sonya went to sleep as usual, though she had a restless, feverish night. We think she caught yet another virus at daycare. She woke up groggy in the morning, and didn’t notice anything unusual at first.

She came to visit Leena and me in the living room. Then she saw something on the chair next to the sofa— a shiny egg left by the Easter Bunny. As she inspected the egg and rattled it and twisted it to try and get it open, she spied another, smaller egg by the fireplace. Whoa. What was going on? Why were these eggs in the living room? Were there more? Sonya somehow figured out that she should go looking. So Drex and I went and changed the girls into their Easter egg-hunting outfits and we went around the house.

Sonya was so excited, scurrying from place to place, looking for hidden eggs. The Easter Bunny underestimated how easily she would find them. A few of the eggs were left in tricky places out of sight, like inside a cabinet, or not at Sonya’s eye level, like balanced on a radiator pipe, but she easily discovered all but a few eggs in about fifteen minutes.

Then Sonya very responsibly allowed us to help her open the eggs. She kept all the stickers and an “amethyst” necklace from her loot and put all the candy treats (like M&M’s, gummy fruits, and chocolate covered berries) into a container so that she could enjoy them a few at a time over the next several days. This year, NeeNee just watched big sister to figure out how an egg hunt was done.

These girls look so pretty in pink, I couldn’t help but feel tickled seeing them look like cupcake toppers. Titi Ivy sent Leena’s outfit in the box with her amazing dolls. And Grandmama sent us Sonya’s outfit in a package, too. Thank you, guys!

Today also happens to be my mom’s birthday. Her special request was a picture of her granddaughters together. So here it is. Happy birthday, Dida!

I love this picture of my two daughters. Sometimes, when I say that word— daughters— I get choked up and I have to pause, because it still seems fairly recent and absolutely awesome that I became a mom. I love these two.

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Revision of expectations

Posted April 23rd, 2011 in Uncategorized by Mitsy

To highlight Drex’s past week of research efforts, I made an xkcd-inspired comic strip using the nifty online stripgenerator.

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Easter Package

Posted April 20th, 2011 in inspiration by Mitsy

Yet another package arrived from Uncle Justin and Auntie Melissa in time for Easter. This time, I’ll just let the pictures speak for themselves.

What I cherish most about these photos is the largeness of spirit Sonya shows in sharing her new treasures with Leena. After getting an item out of the box, brushing off the shiny sparkly Easter grass, and examining the object, Sonya immediately took it over so that NeeNee could look at it, too. That was an idea that came from her mind. I didn’t teach her or tell her to share with her younger sister. It just happened naturally, showing all the tenderness and affection that I hope will bind these two girls together for the rest of their lives.

For my own little sister Lily, I didn’t have the instinct to share with you from the beginning, as you may remember from my toy hoarding, but I love you all the same. Seeing my own daughters together reminds me that I am so glad that I have a sister, too. Otherwise, growing up in this lonely world would have been much less fun. Women with sisters are lucky. Women with daughters are blessed. I am lucky and blessed.

Thank you, as always, Justin and Melissa!

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Things Revisited

Posted April 18th, 2011 in adventures, inspiration by Mitsy

Seeing Leena wear Sonya’s baby outfits definitely plays tricks on the mind, and I get lost in those beautiful eyes. Time bends, and hours of my day slip away.

Leena’s eyes changed color today. I’d been startled by the dark, deep blueness when she opened them after being born. I had a feeling they’d transition, though. I know geneticists don’t fully understand the inheritance of eye color, but I’ve got brown eyes, so I figured both my girls would, too. Early this morning, Leena went to sleep with those blue eyes, but when she opened them again, they were different, streaked with brown. I imagined submarines full of melanin surfacing from her pupil and propelling out to the edge of each round blue ocean. Of course, I think my baby’s eyes are mesmerizing in any color.

The darker eyes make Leena look more like her sister. That’s Sonya in the picture above in the minty green romper. She’s about three months old, learning to grasp objects in the Ocean Play Center.

And here’s Leena, the same size as Sonya was at three months. Leena’s completely outgrown her newborn clothes. I’m definitely producing more milk this time around, and I firmly believe this has to do with the fact that I’m totally relaxed. I’ve got very little stress, and life has a nice, steady flow.

Both Drex and I are trying to soak up each of these precious, exhausting moments. Because little girls grow up way too fast.

I created this space just before we moved to Canada so that family and friends could share our everyday adventures. Gradually, it has evolved into a creative outlet, a mothering journal, and a time capsule. I was recently nominated for a 2011 Canadian Weblog Award in the categories of Best Written and Ex-Pat blog. That’s groovy, eh? (The winners will be decided by a jury, so you don’t have to vote or anything— just thank you for reading!)

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Morning Builder & The Man-Man Club

Posted April 16th, 2011 in inspiration by Mitsy

NeeNee and I sleep in the living room, so our little girls don’t wake each other up. On Friday when I heard sounds filtering from the kitchen, I went to say good morning while NeeNee continued to snooze in her crib. There was Sonya, standing in a mystical beam. I mean, the sunlight literally formed a cone around her. It was something absolutely remarkable to see.

She’d just woken up. Her hair was ruffled in the back like feathers on a duck.

And she was rummaging through the toolbox trying to find the right screwdriver to help Drex build shelves from IKEA.

Sonya’s look of concentration was absolutely adorable. Twenty one months old, and so many ideas and observations whirring through her mind.

Seeing these two in action, fresh out of bed, already building something together, made me instantly happy and ready to start my day, even after yet another night of interrupted sleep.

And I have watched daughters talk to fathers. When you come in the room, they change. Everything about them changes: their eyes, their mouths, their gestures, their body language. Daughters are never lukewarm in the presence of their fathers. They may take their mothers for granted, but not you. They light up— or they cry. They watch you intensely. They hang on your words… When she’s in your company, your daughter tries harder to excel. When you teach her, she learns more rapidly. When you guide her, she gains confidence.

— Meg Meeker, M.D.
Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters

Drex and Sonya have a special bond. I’m not jealous, but I did want to belong to their exclusive “Man-Man” Club.

Man-Man means Iron Man. When Drex puts on his favorite superhero T-shirt, Sonya has to wear hers, too. This happens once or twice a week. On Man-Man days, Sonya sometimes looks down, stops whatever she’s doing, pats her chest and says, “Man-Man. Daddy. Man-Man.” I take this to mean, with my own fanciful embellishment, “I’m wearing my Iron Man T-shirt. Daddy is wearing his Iron Man T-shirt today, too. I’m just like him. We’re connected. ”

Sometimes Sonya points at me and asks, “Mommy Man-Man?” as if to say, “Where’s your Iron Man? Why aren’t you like Daddy and me?”

Well, after a few months of being left out, and feeling worried that Sonya might soon outgrow her Iron Man T-shirt, I took the girls shopping at Old Navy, home of screen-printed Marvel superhero T-shirts. I found a boys’ XL that fits me.

Here I am. The newest, proud member of the Man-Man Club. This photo was taken by my friend Carey, who came over just after breakfast so we could take a ladies’ walk of the mountain. (We made it as far as the playground).

Now Sonya points at Leena and says, “NeeNee? Man-Man?”

Here is a tired SonyaManMan asleep in her Toy Pit, snuggled amidst her soft plushy toys. We’re in the process of rearranging the kids’ room and spring cleaning. Hopefully, in the upcoming weeks, I can show you corners of our home as they get completed.

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At the Playground

Posted April 15th, 2011 in Uncategorized by Mitsy

With Leena’s arrival, I’ve started seeing Sonya in a different light. Her clothes look bigger when I fold them on the bed. And I realize how much she’s grown.

I feel astonished as Sonya picks up a new skill, communicates a new idea, and bravely tries a new thing— all on her own. Her determination and confidence inspire me.

Now that the snow has melted, Sonya wants to go to the playground at least twice a day. Right after breakfast, she prances into the living room, points out the window across the park and shouts: PAY! (which means “play”— Sonya’s way of saying playground).

She got a haircut this morning. We ran some errands downtown. Leena was still snug, warm, and asleep inside my down coat, so on the way back, we stopped at the playground.

Sonya decides how long we stay. When she’s done playing, she says HUM— Sonya’s way of saying home. And if it’s in sight, she knows how to get there, too. All on her own. And I follow her, making sure she stays safe.

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Miss Kelli’s Headband

Posted April 12th, 2011 in crafts by Mitsy

Happy First Month of Life, Miss Leena Maple! Has it really been a month since you joined our little family?

On one hand, it seems that you just entered the world yesterday, but on the other hand, I’m already having difficulty imagining a time without you here.

As a present for the occasion, a package arrived from my friend Kelli. Her family lived right around the corner from mine, so we went to the same schools since John F. Ward Elementary. I’m lucky that Kelli and I’ve been able to keep in touch after all these years, and that we can share our journeys as moms.

Kelli sent two adorable and clever headbands. The flower is actually a clip that can be taken off from the band, so Sonya could wear one of them in her hair, too. Thank you so much, Kelli! Even the most ordinary onesie can be made fancy now.

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Researching Women

Posted April 11th, 2011 in inspiration by Mitsy

After an appearance on a local radio program to talk about women’s progress in the five decades since Betty Friedan’s book The Feminine Mystique got published, I was hired to write a series of freelance articles from the perspective of a modern young mother. Since I’m up at all hours nursing and changing diapers again, I’ve been managing to do a lot of background reading, even though my mental focus for writing is non-exsistent.

Breast-feeding does not belong in the realm of facts and hard numbers; it is much too intimate and elemental. It contains all of my awe about motherhood, and also my ambivalence. Right now, even part-time, it’s a strain. But I also know that this is probably my last chance to feel warm baby skin up against mine, and one day I will miss it.

—Hanna Rosin
The Case Against Breastfeeding
The Atlantic Magazine

While I didn’t completely enjoy breastfeeding Sonya, I’m glad I did it, and this second time around, it’s been far easier right from the beginning. Every few hours, I get to bond with both my daughters— unbelievably special time.

Sonya likes to sit beside NeeNee while she drinks her “mulk.” Usually, we sing the alphabet song, identify body parts, or I make up a story and knit while Sonya listens and fidgets with her toes.

In fact, the only thing I really dislike about breastfeeding Leena is having to wear nursing-friendly attire like button-down shirts while I want to be in springtime dresses that zip in the back. It just seems cruel after months of drab maternity clothes and snow boots. I only had a very brief window of normalcy (about three months) between nursing Sonya and being visibly pregnant with Leena. And before that, for an entire year, I dressed mostly in scrubs.

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