21!

To say Molly had some major transitions last month is a gross understatement.  Not only did we move to a new house, complete with a new schedule, activities, and an overwhelming amount of things to do both inside and outside (a whole playroom to herself! A back yard to run around in!) but she also got a brand new baby sister, amid and followed by a constant stream of family members. Suffice it to say, all of these changes, combined with my not being very available or accessible for about a week after Lucy was born, have given Molly a bit of trouble adjusting. This trouble has manifested itself in two fevers, some serious nap/sleep regression, and general defiance/boundary pushing (yesterday Josi and I were talking about starting her on time-outs. Our rationale is that while on the one hand she’s a little young to understand cause-and-effect, we’re always talking about how advanced she is). I honestly can’t blame her for having some trouble – a move and a new baby are huge transitions for me, and I’m decidedly older than 21 months. And 98% of the time, Molly is her usual charming, amazing, hilarious self – but that 2%, man.  That 2% (okay, combined with some post-partum hormones) can be seriously trying.

Let’s focus on the positive, because although these are big changes they are all, in the long term, very positive. Molly loves our new house. She loves her playroom and will spend many happy hours playing in her new kitchen or at her table, coloring, painting (she especially loves having her face painted), and playing with play doh and stickers.  She also loves our backyard, playing with “outside paint” (chalk), kicking a ball around with her dad, and asking for rides on her trike and in her Molly-sized car.  She can identify a bunch of letters (she especially amazed me when she differentiated “Big O” from “Baby O”, can now count to ten in English and Spanish, and continues to string words together into short sentences. Even when she’s misbehaving, it can take a lot for me not to show her that I’m impressed by how smart she is – yesterday, for example, I went up to get her after her “nap” (when she doesn’t nap, she’ll at least hang in her room and quietly look at books or play for an hour or two) and she had pulled out a bunch of clothes and put on a bathing suit. When I opened the door, she looked up at me with a huge grin and said, “Swim?” So, I did what came to me first – ran a bath and let her “swim” in her bathing suit in the bathtub.

Molly is also *amazing* with Lucy. She is so gentle and does not like it one bit when Lucy cries.  The other day Lucy started fussing in her chair and when I came out from folding laundry, Molly was crouched down next to her, patting her gently and saying “Lucy no cry.” And then my heart burst into a million pieces (postpartum…). She’s also thankfully moved on from everything being “no no no” to “okay” – so when we say, Molly do you want dinner? Her response is now “Dinner? Okay!” which is a nice change.  Right now, I’m trying to focus on the “quality, not quantity” time with Molly with so much of my time, attention, and energy going towards feeding Lucy. Often, our special time together is just before dinner or bedtime, where we play together or sing or read stories. Tonight, our special time consisted of her hugging me for 15 minutes while I sang Bright Eyes songs and rocked her and wept tears of happiness because I love her so damn much. And then we went and played in her kitchen until dinner. Like I said, 98% of the time our girl is nothing short of amazing. I’ll take the 2%, because it’s all Molly, after all.

Some snaps from the past month:

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What a clown!

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Best big sister ever <3

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Molly and Mama

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Tolerating the crying, for now.

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Making new friends

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New wheels (thanks to Uncle Dan for building, and to Nana and Papa for buying!)

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Morning snuggles with Papa

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Ulisses came to visit his girls!

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Helping Dad with yard work

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Future rocket scientist.

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This is the 98%.

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Play-doh time

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Starry night

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Sometimes you just need to take a lie down on the playground.

 

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Lucy’s Birth Story

We make plans, and God laughs. I was so worried that Lucy was going to be born before we moved, and then once we moved there was so much to do that I didn’t sleep at all the first week; up all night running lists through my head. Then Molly had a fever and bad cough that called my attention and before I knew it, my due date had come and gone. We had planned the baby’s naming for the Sunday after Thanksgiving and I was starting to think she wouldn’t be here by then. At some point it struck me – of course she was coming on her own timeline. This whole pregnancy was a fluke; this miraculous little life growing inside me that we weren’t planning for, who I could feel kicking confidently well past her expected due date – why would she come on our timeline, in time for plans we had made without her in mind? From conception, her life wasn’t about our plans – and neither, it turns out, was her birth.

Eight days after my due date, we had a meeting with my midwife and doula. I talked about how I was having a rough day; how I had thought maybe there was a block, something preventing my body from being ready to give birth. I thought I needed to get out of my head in order to get past whatever was holding me back. We discussed different options of how to “induce” labor – none of which (castor oil, enema, breaking my water bag) sounded like anything even remotely appealing. My midwife Kristen suggested that we could try herbs to stimulate my uterus, and we decided that was the most appealing of the options and to give it a try. We got started around 2pm with Kristen giving me several doses of herbs and then left Lee and me to, ahem, have some alone time together (not at all awkward with my mom, doula, and midwife kicking it in the living room). Then we went for a walk, and I generally tried to think labor-y thoughts. In the meantime, my sister, who was in town for Thanksgiving, assured me that she could take Molly for the night and knowing that she was in good hands took a huge weight off. There was no way I could focus on labor when I was worried about Molly, and when my sister got here we joked, “maybe the baby is waiting for you!” Well, maybe the baby wasn’t, but I seemed to have been.  So, once Molly was with Jodie, we ate supper and I went to bed early, listening to my hypnobirth app and hoping that the mild but consistent contractions I was feeling meant something was actually happening.

Around 1:30AM, I woke up quite uncomfortable, but also really tired. I went and got Shannon, who was sleeping on the couch, and told her I was having contractions. She pretty much put me back to bed and I spent the next three hours listening to music and breathing through the sensations. I sang along in my head to First Day of My Life, Gospel, I Need my Girl, 10,000 Weight in Gold, Lost in my Mind, Grace Cathedral Hill, and other favorite songs. By 5AM, I needed to get up, and I spent the next hour or so pacing the hallway until I woke Shannon up and told her I didn’t think I could labor on my own anymore. At that point Lee and my mom got up and I asked Shannon when she thought we should call Kristen. She said she wanted to see me through some contractions but after only a few, decided that she needed to get Kristen over sooner rather than later. Kristen got to our house by 7:30AM and I was already pretty close to transition. I spent another hour or so pacing my hallway, trying to breathe, reminding myself to keep my shoulders down and stay grounded, and vocalizing through contractions, and then lay down for awhile and managed to doze off as they got even stronger. I was trying to figure out how to get through the sensations, and at one point remembered a video that Josi had sent us of Molly in a toddler class. In the video she is under a color parachute and as the class leader asked the kids to point out a color, Molly would point and say, “Purple! Green! Yellow! Orange!” The thought of her made me smile and actually did make it a little easier, as I thought about how when labor was all over Molly would both have and be a sister.

Kristen told me that I was in transition but I didn’t feel ready to push yet so I decided to take a shower. That helped as much as anything could have at that point, but I was still impatient to push (Kristen said the theme of my labor was trying to speed things up). I was so uncomfortable, tired, and grouchy, and I kept telling Lee, “I just don’t remember it being this bad with Molly!” He kept assuring me that it was exactly as bad the first time around. IMG_0532

Finally, it was time to push. I tried a bunch of positions but ended up in bed, on my side. Pushing was all-consuming. It was almost out-of-body for how much force my body was capable of, without me thinking or trying or doing anything but pushing. Pushing felt like running full speed at a brick wall with enough force to break right through it.  After a few pushes, during one body-wrenching contraction, I felt a distinct “pop” and my water bag broke with so much force that I swore it hit the wall across the room. My water went everywhere – all over Lucy’s medical chart, all over the bed, and ALL over Lee, who had the unfortunate timing of taking a look to see if he could spot the baby’s head. I looked over and he was literally covered – his hair, his glasses, his shirt. I apologized to him but honestly, it was so funny. After Lucy was born I kept thinking about it and trying not to giggle since laughing hurt! Anyway, after my water bag broke I pushed another 8 or 9 times and with every push, the baby descended further and further down. Pushing was excruciating and overwhelming but it was also really, really effective. In just half an hour, and in one contraction, Lucy’s head was born and then the rest of her!  I was instantly ecstatic – and Lucy was decidedly less so. There is a video of her crying (she cried for about 10 minutes straight) and me saying, “You’re so mad at me! And I don’t care!” I was so, so happy to meet her, after 41 weeks and one day, and I was immediately and absolutely in love.

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Lee introduced Lucy to the room and we lay with her for a few minutes, full of joy and gratitude. The midwives helped me deliver my placenta and then got Lee and I up and showered (they also changed our sheets, because, water everywhere!), and then we got back in bed. Lucy and I practiced nursing, we counted fingers and toes, and Lee and I marveled once again at this perfect little person whom we had made, whom I had grown and birthed and was now a part of our family.

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Molly came home a few hours later to meet her little sister and our our family of three is now a family of four. And in the end, it doesn’t matter that our timing was off and that our plans changed. It doesn’t matter that Lucy decided to wait eight days past her due date. It doesn’t matter that we had moved only a few weeks before she was born. Our sweet girl is here, and she is healthy and beautiful and absolutely perfect, and we are so blessed, and somewhere up there someone is chuckling and saying, See? I told you it would all work out!

The Springer Quartet!

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Déjà vu, some serious events have transpired… again. We sold a house! We bought a house! We moved! And sometime back in February we conceived another baby! 41 weeks and 1 day later on November 26th, 2014, Lucy Elizabeth Springer was born, weighing 7 pounds, 14 ounces and 20 inches long. Team Springer is now a trio quartet and ready for our next adventure (which seem to come in no short supply)!

Moving on up, to the East Side (of the Bay)

A few months ago, and about four months into the house sale/purchase drama we’ve been dealing with essentially since I found out I was pregnant, we found out that our buyer had been declined for her second loan application. Upon hearing the news that our sale was delayed again, Lee turned to me and said, “This isn’t how things work for the Springers, Leah! We make rash decisions without thinking them through and everything falls into place nicely!” He’s so right. And yet, it took two buyers, three loan applications, and four months to close on our house sale. We made offers on five houses before we had one accepted (actually, we had two counters, one outright rejection, and two accepted, but we walked away from the first house after the inspection). Our (adjusted) goal was to be settled into a new home by 11/11, when I’ll be 39 weeks pregnant. We’re moving tomorrow. That’s 11/10. Which, technically, is right on time, and in the end it all worked out, except, wow. Now I know why they say buying a house can be one of the most stressful experiences in your life (along with, you know, having a baby). And the whole time, with every hiccup we encountered, I just kept trying to tell myself, “everything happens for a reason, everything happens for a reason…” as if that mantra would help it all make more sense than it did in those moments, when it felt like the universe was just not aligning for us in the way that it usually does.

First, I said “I’ll never leave San Francisco! I didn’t move from Connecticut to California to live in the East Bay.” Then, when we quickly discovered that a 3/2 in SF really means a 2/1 with an illegal in-law (and that it also meant a million $ + listing for a fixer-upper), I said, “Fine…but I don’t want to live in Oakland. They can’t even afford police in Oakland (true story)!” Then, when the house we made an offer on in Oakland, for one hundred thousand dollars over asking, countered asking for $50k more, I said, “Fine, but I don’t want to live further out than Oakland. I’ve never even heard of Castro Valley!” Then, when we realized we were also priced out of El Cerrito (one counter and one outright rejection later), we took a weekend to look in Castro Valley and saw four houses within our budget. We were pulling up to one of them when Lee said, “I think I’d like to live in a Mediterranean” and lo and behold, there it was in front of us! A huge, sprawling Mediterranean with a stucco roof, lovely tiling, and olive trees in the front yard. It was perfect! It was our dream home, and our offer was accepted! Until we realized that what we had signed up for was terracing a backyard that was essentially an enormous hill…and a kitchen that needed gutting…and black mold in the walls. So, back to square one. Again.

In the end, our house sale took so long that we ended up finding the perfect (really, this time) house for us – a four bedroom, three bath Cape Cod with enough space for a playroom, family room, guest room, and home office; with a flat, spacious backyard full of fruit trees and a vegetable garden; with a bedroom for each of the girls where they can set up reading nooks near the windows; within walking distance from the neighborhood elementary school and a 2-mile bike ride from BART. We finally found our dream home, after the most stressful back and forth, selling and buying and loan approval process I for one have ever experienced (okay, I only have an N of 2 in terms of home buyership, but still). I am so excited for when the movers come tomorrow (in part because we were supposed to move last Thursday but got delayed again, so we’ve been living among packed boxes for five days) because it means that finally, finally, we will be in our new home, the home where baby #2 will be born and where we’ll raise our kids and grow old(er) together and where we’ll sit in the backyard on warm nights sipping wine and talking about how effing lucky we are that it all eventually worked out just the way it was supposed to.

Moving to the East Bay was not something I expected to be amenable to, let alone excited for. San Francisco is such a transient city that I never thought about leaving unless we were leaving-leaving; really leaving, leaving for somewhere outside the Bay. Instead, we’re moving to the suburbs, and if you had told me two years ago that this is where my life would take me I would have been so surprised (we’re becoming bridge and tunnel, really?).  But the more Lee and I talked about the way we grew up, the more we realized what we want for our daughters. Molly and her sister are going to grow up in a safe space with great schools and still have all the access to what makes the Bay Area so amazing that we have enjoyed for the past ten years. They’ll get to play outside and we won’t have to worry about their safety. We can take BART to the city on the weekends, and tour the museums and the parks and everything we love about San Francisco. And then we can go home, to a place that reminds me very much of the town where I grew up, and we can live our lives in our quiet, safe, sleepy little town, and maybe, just maybe, this whole stressful, dramatic, drawn-out, down-to-the-wire experience, has shown us that everything really does work out the way it’s meant to, in the end.

 

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The XX

I was going to start this post in usual fashion with some exclamation of how this month has been crazier than every month before it but I realized doing so has become incredibly repetitive. So instead a large gallery of photos with captions to capture the fun of Molly’s 20th month.

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An impromptu trip up to Fort Bragg and the historic Skunk Train. For being roughly 4 hours of pretty slow train riding, she enjoyed herself.

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Halloween happened, which means you take your toddler to a pumpkin patch and of course you rock your sunnies.

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Selfies on the hay ride through Spina Farms pumpkin patch, grumpy cat came begrudgingly.

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You like selfies dad? Let me show you how it’s done!

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A moment of interest while most likely watching a video rendition of “Wheels on the Bus”, which Molly now knows pretty much all the lyrics to including British stanzas I have never heard.

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Playing on Glass Beach in Fort Bragg. Of particular fascination…. mussel shells.

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I get a text from Leah, “Took Molly to the Childrens’ Museum,” followed by, “Started at the bubble station…rookie mistake.” Molly left the museum with a new outfit.

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Halloween! Rocking matching Waldo outfits with Josi. Molly quickly learned the arts of Trick O’ Treating and made out like a bandit with roughly her weight in lollipops.

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Costume check. Cuteness confirmed.

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A tail!?!!?!

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Taking a break from singing “ABCs” to practice new form of pouting.

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Given a huge playground, of course our little one scales the 3 story slide complex designed for much older children.

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Checking out our new suburban digs. We’re moving to a single family palace!

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Sticker love!!!! Put them on things, take them off things, put them back on things!!!! All day long!!!!

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After many warnings about jumping on the couch, we went flying off the couch and earned a new badge.

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Taking Stuart Little out for a drive!

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20 months old and happier than ever!

19 Months!

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Oh man, where do I even start?! This past month has been epic. Epic! The most amazing parts, off the top of my head:

Singing! So much singing. Molly can sing along with the Alphabet song (“ABC’s”); Wheels on the Bus (“Da Bus!”) Itsy Bitsy Spider (“Isy Bisy”); Head, Shoulder, Knees and Toes (She’s got all those words down pat); Twinkle Twinkle Little Star (“Star”); and Old MacDonald (“EIEIO”). Like, actual words peppered throughout the song – in tune! We know what she wants to sing and act out because she makes requests. My personal favorite is watching her make the signs and sing along to Itsy Bitsy Spider, but it really blows my mind when she sings the alphabet.

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“Mama’s hat”

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What a ham!

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Happy girl

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Ice cream

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Hummus. Her father’s daughter.

Bed! Okay, so, I read an article about how switching to a “big kid bed” could be a huge transition for kids, and with allll the other changes coming up shortly (future blog post coming, when details have settled a bit) I was in no hurry to transition her. But, our girl decided differently. Ever since we got home from our trip back east, she has basically been putting herself to bed – no crying, no fussing – and started trying to climb into bed at night. She would also get upset if one of her animals had fallen out or was in the crib and she couldn’t get to it, so we decided to give the toddler bed a try and see how it went. Well, the very first night, Molly climbed right in, and thunk – asleep! Not a peep. It’s been about a week now and the new routine is PJs, brush teeth, stories, and then, okay, Molly, bedtime! As long as she has all the right animals and a cup of water, she literally puts herself to bed (burrowed in a multitude of stuffed animals). It is amazing. And the best part is, when she wakes up from a nap or in the morning, we’ve started leaving her door open and she comes right out and greets us, a cat tucked under each arm, saying, Hello Mama! Hello Dada! Seriously awesome.

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Toddler bed: night 1

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She woke up happy!

Cats! Speaking of cats (of the non-stuffed variety), after four months of keeping a loving and watchful eye on them, our friends Sophia and Jon left for a 3-week trip and we all decided it was best to bring our cats home. Again, I was worried about transitions, and knowing cats are creatures of habit, was thinking that it would be a lot for them to move home and then move again (also, this whole moving process was not supposed to take this long – but that’s another post for another day). Anyway, the cats came home, and are completely happy to be here (I mean, as happy as cats ever are about anything – content, at least) – but Molly is so happy they’re home. Every single time she sees one she runs, arms outstretched, chasing them around the house, saying, “Niiiiice, kitty.” They are not her biggest fans and Molly gets her feelings hurt once in awhile, but I keep telling them all that in another year or two they’re all going to be best of friends. Anyway, it’s nice to have the furbabies back home and it’s hilarious watching Molly chase after them.

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“Mama’s shoes”

Partys! My Nana (Molly’s G’Nana) turned 95 on September 30th and last weekend, my mom and stepdad hosted a big party for her. It’s always amazing to see Molly interact with my Nana, and every time they’re together I think how lucky we all are that they have met. Nana currently has four great grandchildren and another on the way, which is just incredible. My sister and mom changed the words of the song “When I’m 64″ to “When I’m 95″ and my stepdad, Simon, Lee, Dan, and our cousin Noah had a band set up with the whole room singing to her (followed by Wheels on the Bus because, of course), and it was so sweet. The party was super fun (although Molly was a little overwhelmed by all the people and kept searching out familiar faces) and Molly got a chance to hang out with her cousin Justin, who is just about exactly a year older than her. I don’t often get a chance to watch her around other kids so it was really fun to see them interact.

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Four generations of crazy bananas

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My ladies

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Our family, coming soon to a holiday card near you.

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Me and my girl, and her cat.

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Molly loves her Aunt Cheese

And speaking of cousins, Molly has a brand new one! Kayden Bernie, born on 9/10. I can’t believe Molly was ever that small…

At Molly’s 18-month appointment last week (she was technically 18 months and 30 days, so we were sort of almost on time!) her pediatrician said she was developmentally off-the-charts, which, I mean, yes. Apparently 18 month olds are supposed to have like 10 words? Lee thinks she has close to 100. She knows all her major body parts, animals, colors, a bunch of prepositions (our favorite is “outside!), verbs (“hop hop hop”), food, and on and on, including some randoms (moustache! applesauce!) and a bunch of Portuguese thrown in for good measure. Of course, as her pediatrician was telling us that she’s advanced, Molly was climbing backwards up the exam table like a little monkey and flinging herself down, prompting me to say, if she falls and breaks a bone at your office, does it count? She is a little parrot, repeating everything we say (swear jar has been started), or at least trying to. It’s like all of a sudden she’s gone from a cute, funny toddler to a person. This age is so fascinating and exciting and I’m trying to simultaneously encourage her and capture every moment, because it’s right, what they say about parenthood – it just goes by too fast.

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“Moustache!”

(Just a few) other snaps from the month:

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I kiss her cheeks a lot

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New books…she can say “big sister”

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Not in the mood, Mama.

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Pumpkin picking with Josi

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Two pumpkins in a pod (patch?)

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Family trip to Yosemite! Forgot to write about this…oh well.

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Molly was unimpressed when we told her we had hiked Half Dome.

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“Big tree!”

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Hiking in Yosemite

18 Month Post

18 months! I know I say this every month but this past one has really been my favorite stage. Molly is on the brink of some major cognitive development because she comes up with 2-3 new words every day, tiptoes forwards and backwards, hops like a bunny, counts 1-2-3 and knows a mind-blowing number of letters. She has also started stringing words together to make simple sentences (“Up, Mama,” “round and round,” “all through the town,” and the particularly cringe-worthy – yet impressive – “No Book! Watch Elmo!”), makes up games to play (tonight it was 1-2-3, fling yourself onto a pile of pillows), and she sings! She sings la-la-la-la-la and looks to me and I put words to the la-la-la’s and the two of us are just a regular jam band. I am constantly singing to myself so the fact that she has picked up this trait is beyond delightful to me (I’m sure Lee feels just as happy to have two crazies singing to themselves all the time). She says “I love you tooooooo” and when I say, Molly, who loves you? She whispers “Mama” and gives me a big grin. How right you are, my sweet girl. How right you are.

Another interesting and timely development this month has been Molly’s sudden affinity for all things baby.  She now owns more stuffed animals than I can count, including four dolls (and one pink penguin…not my doing, but you can’t win them all), one of which she has named Mimi (short for Menina, which is Portuguese for girl), and at least two of which are tucked under her arm at any given moment. After she pointed to the printed sonogram photo on our fridge and asked “this?” I told her, “That’s going to be your baby sister. She’s growing in my belly.” Molly responded by patting my belly and saying “baby!” I don’t think she can fully comprehend pregnancy (I mean, I don’t even fully comprehend pregnancy, and I’m almost 32) but she is (not always, but) often a bit cautious of my belly, these days. I think suddenly wanting baby dolls is more of a developmental stage than anticipation of the baby coming, but it’s still nice to see her be gentle and give her baby dolls hugs and kisses.

We have packed so much into this month, including a visit with cousins Linda, Nina, Zach, and Kyle, a trip to see Nana Sandy, Grand-Nana Ruth, and Grandpa Erling, and our annual, epic, whirlwind of a college reunion trip back east, where we even got to see Susie & Rich, Tyler, Liz, and Sebastian on a last-minute detour. This year we rented two houses in upstate New York, since we decided that it wasn’t really fair of us to pack 14 adults and 7 children into Kristin and Mike’s house. The houses were right next to each other and had a huge yard, tennis court, and a pool, which was perfect for all the kids and adults. Every year there are more and more kids and every year Labor Day is one of my best weekends. There is just something so special about spending time doing nothing except for laughing, eating, and catching up with old friends – and watching our kids run around together makes me feel all the feels. Old friends really are the best friends.

We also currently have Papa Marc and Nana Laurie (formerly known as Glamma before Molly decided no, she is in fact Nana) in town, where they are acting as our nannies du jour while Josi is away on vacation for the week. Today is day four of their visit but day two of being full-time caregivers and as much fun as everyone is having, they did seem a bit tired tonight…perhaps a vacation from this vacation is in order!

Snaps from this month:

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Toddlerhood is exhausting.

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Air travel is also exhausting.

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Storytime with Auntie Mattea

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Driving in cars with boys

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Lobster!

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Pool time!

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Lee looks *very* comfortable with two girls :)

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Looks like someone has a case of the Mondays.

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Saying, “Whee!”

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I feel you, girl.

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Petting a starfish!

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Epic fish impersonation.

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Party time

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Fun with cousin Zach

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Chooch and Mooch

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All the babies!

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Molly and Connor comparing the terroir of their milk

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Best friends. Babies. Babies of best friends. Best.

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Sian’s boys love Molly and she loves them right back!

Cousins!

17 months

Welp, we have a toddler on our hands – and let me tell you, there are no emotions like those of a 17-month old. The other night Lee took grumpy cat away from Molly so she wouldn’t get dinner on him and the look of combined rage and anguish on her face is not one I’ll soon forget.  In what was not my proudest moment of parenting, I giggled at her for about ten minutes as she wailed, tears running down her face, even after Lee gave her back grumpy cat; even after he explained why he had taken him away in the first place; even after he picked her up, put her down, and picked her back up again; even as I held her and rocked her to calm us both down. Sometimes, when your 17-month old is screaming bloody murder and can’t communicate why exactly she’s so upset, you just have to laugh.

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So many emotions!

Even if she is getting slightly more, shall we say, expressive, Molly continues to be the funniest, sweetest, smartest and most interesting little girl I’ve ever met. She is super affectionate, giving big hugs and kisses and very fondly calling her Aunt Jodie “Cheese!” with a big smile on her face. She’s added about a dozen new words to her repertoire (hands, toes, knees, belly, whale, blue, bow, bowl, ball, bubble, Bibi, purple, shoes, I could go on) in the past few weeks alone, and now says “bye bye” in addition to “hello!” She’s so smart. She blows my mind every day with how smart she is. And so strong. She swings from the monkey bars, climbs up and down stairs, and has a leech-like grip when she’s giving you a hug. And so stubborn. Even now, Lee is in her room with her because she knows that if she says “Dada” in her most pitiful voice he’ll go snuggle her until she falls asleep (Aunt Jodie may have spoiled her there).

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Books. So many books.

 

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My strong girl

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“Bow!”

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Who needs a safety swing?

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True story!

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Food shopping, as one does.

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Party girl

Speaking of Aunt Jodie, this month she and Molly got to spend some extra special time together! I had to go to LA for work during the same week that Jodie was planning a visit, so the two of us flew her down to LA while Lee drove (and drove, and drove) our car to meet us there. The two of them spent lots of time at the pool, went to the zoo, the children’s museum, and got lots (emphasis on LOTS) of new clothes (for Molly, that is. Jodie just bought about 13 pairs of sunglasses over the course of the trip).

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Selfie on the plane

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At the zoo

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Pool time

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Young Hollywood

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I mean, Molly’s face kind of makes this picture.

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I don’t see it often, but she’s my spitting image when she makes this face.

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Reading

After a few days, we left LA and drove up to SLO for more family time with Nana, Grandpa, and Grand-Nana.  There was piano playing, park time, neighborhood walks, mahjong, tomatoes picked fresh from the garden, and family story time. Molly had such a fun vacation and is a very lucky girl to have so many people in her life who love her so (and may spoil her just a little)!

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On a walk with Nana and Grandpa. Molly saw a “beware of mountain lion” sign and immediately got her field guide from the zoo.

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Tomatoes picked fresh from the garden!

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Story time with Aunt Cheese! and G’Nana

Mahjong. Starting her young.

Mahjong. Starting her young.

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Her first concerto

When it comes down to it, toddlerhood may be a little more challenging than infancy, but every day, we get hugs and kisses, we get belly laughs, we get so much love, and these moments make up for all of the thrown cups, the tears, the NO NO NO (“não não não”, in Portuguese) – they make up for anything, really. These moments are what makes Molly her brilliant, strong, beautiful self, and what make Lee and I the two luckiest people in the world to be her parents.

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Dezesseis Meses

World Cup fever has come and gone in our household as Molly became Brazil’s biggest fan (after Josie, and after Ulisses, and after a whole bunch of people in Brazil). She was great luck until Brazil had its epic meltdown during Molly’s nap, a clear sign that she was having a bad dream.

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Much like Molly Ringwald in “Sixteen Candles,”* our Molly at Sixteen Months is experiencing a new found sea of emotions around growing up. We’ve seen her have attachments.

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We’ve seen her get emotional and well up with tears over random things such as “Twinkle Star & Owl” (thanks for finding that out Leah). We’ve seen her showcase her will, usually defiantly.

It’s really amazing to see how much changes in a short month. Between garbled sentences of gibberish there are clear enunciations of HAT, HEAD, TOES, CAT, and BALL. This along with previously mastered HELLO, UP, and APPLE and we’ve got a good communication framework going here, even to the point that we talk about our wishes together.

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There have been epic “Flashdance“** parties.

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There has been some pretty serious coffee talk.

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Even though Molly seems to be entering (e.g. already in) a full-on Mama phase, it’s amazing to watch how fast things change in 4 weeks. I’m expecting a thesis by month 18.

* I fully pat myself on the back for the Molly -> Molly and 16 Candles -> 16 Months reference here. If I’ve learned anything it’s that I can apply the 80s to everything.

** 80s again!

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“She wept when they gave birth to daughters, knowing that to be born a woman meant a life of humble hardship.”

-Betty Smith, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

Bullshit, I thought, the first and second and seventeenth and thirtieth time I read the above passage. There’s nothing humble about being a woman. Women are fierce and strong and powerful and can do anything men can do. My parents raised my sister and me to believe this truth, and we married men who believe this truth, and there’s nothing harder or more humbling about being a woman than a man. Maybe in the past; maybe in turn-of-the-20th-century Brooklyn, but not in my lifetime. There’s nothing to fear, having daughters, today.

And yet.

When the ultrasound tech said “it’s a girl” and I said out loud “I KNEW it!” and Lee and I smiled at each other with joy in our eyes, a very quiet voice in my head said to a very small ear tucked into the corner of my heart, “oh.” And that oh bore all of the weight of the universe, contained in the knowledge that I was going to have another girl, and no matter how far we’ve come in equality and feminism and fairness, this girl, this some-day woman, is still going to be born female, and we’ll have not just one but two daughters, and this knowledge puts a weight on my heart that I need to write about.

The honest to God truth is, we live in a world full of men who hate women; of men who think that women are theirs to possess and own and do with what they please, and yes, this happens in America too. We live in a country where Molly and her sister are going to be (and Molly is already) faced with an onslaught of messaging about their looks and their bodies and their weight that can lead even the most confident girls down a path of at best self-doubt and at worst self-harm. We live in a city that is better than most in terms of equality and equity, but where there is still overt sexism allowed, all the time, even here.

Sian says from the day your baby is born a piece of your heart lives outside of your body forever. And now there will be another one – another girl – another daughter – and a part of me thinks, well, if Lee and I and do our job right maybe they’ll band together to create a protective shell around themselves so that all the messaging out there will deflect off of them and they’ll grow into adulthood unscathed, and meet the right kind of partners, and have babies of their own and if those babies are girls then maybe, just maybe, they’ll worry a little less than I do.

And yet.

I walk down the toy aisles at Target and I can’t understand why the girl toys are all pink and the boy toys are all blue. I resisted telling people the gender the first time around because I was wary of the pink clothes, the “Daddy’s Little Princess,” the “Math is Hard“, the multitude of dolls (however, to give credit to the amazing people in our and her lives, we have gotten exactly zero gifts that have made me think, oh no, I won’t be giving her that). I automatically respond with “and smart and strong” when a stranger tells me how beautiful Molly is. She is beautiful, without a doubt. She is so beautiful that sometimes looking at her makes my breath catch in my throat. I so want her to know that she’s beautiful, to instill in her the confidence to look all those negative messages out there about women and girls in the face and, like her mama does, call Bullshit. I just don’t want her to believe that her beauty is where her value lies; and I fear her growing up to believe that her beauty overshadows, or should overshadow, her other qualities.

So there will be two. And Lee and I, and our friends and our families, will try our very best to create safety nets for our girls, to instill in them the belief that they can do anything, be anything; that there are no limits as long as they are willing to work hard enough. We’ll read them stories about strong girls and amazing women and tell them cool things about math and science and engineering. We’ll let them play with dolls and trucks and draw and paint and cook and climb trees and learn about whatever they are interested in. We’ll tell them that they can love whomever they love as long as that person treats them with respect and kindness. We’ll let them know that the only types of princesses we expect them to be are warrior princesses. We’ll tell them they’re beautiful and smart and strong every day. We’ll try our hardest to pick them up when they fall; to cast away the shadows of self-doubt and insecurity and hurt, and if we try really, really hard, maybe they’ll grow up believing in themselves; believing that women are equal; calling bullshit on all the media and the misogyny and the messaging because they know what’s what.

And yet.

My heart. A piece of it lives outside of me now, and in 5 months another piece of it is going to leave my body, and I worry. I worry for my girls. I worry for my daughters. I worry for the women they’ll be, some day. My heart aches and I’m burdened with the weight of it – this humbling hardship of womanhood.

 

 

The Post About Gender (*Spoiler Alert*)

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