Within the course of 10 days, Lilly turned one, I got to spend time in Mum and Dad’s new house in DC with the entire Stephens Family, Jim and I went to Italy, we celebrated 3 years of marriage and I turned 29! A pretty exciting 10 days. Italy deserves its own entry so I won’t talk about that here. But here’s a glimpse at the days pre-Italy (correct usage Joseph?) Lilly’s birthday kicked it all off on April 11th. The Wednesday after her birthday, we packed up the car and drove down to DC—to Columbia Heights to be exact. We arrived at the house that Mum and Dad just moved into, a little more than a week before. Already, this house looks like a home. Buddha has his place, candles and flowers are present and the dining room table, where we tend to spend hours every night, is set up. Ellie arrived that night and Joseph and Edward arrived Thursday morning. Within minutes of everyone’s arrival, it was like it always is when we’re all together. We were sitting around laughing, having a few beers, catching up while ragging on each other…and now that we’ve added Lilly to the mix, there’s a whole new dynamic. She wants to play with everyone, all the time. She wants to be a part of whatever anyone is doing. She was running back and forth between her uncles and aunt, laughing and falling down, and then getting back up and doing it all over again. We had some fantastic family dinners that seem to involve endless glasses of wine and discussions that last until midnight. Our dinners are probably what I look forward to the most when I come home.
I got to see Joseph again the way that he was when Ellie and Edward were little. When Lilly was sitting in her high chair and having something to eat, Joseph would go and get one of her toys and play with it right in front of her, just waiting for a reaction and usually ended up getting a shriek or a scream; exactly what he wanted! Lilly learned to scowl at Joseph, Joseph kept trying to make her scowl, and so the games continued. Edward watched Lilly walking around and spent a lot of his time cringing at how unrelaxing her walking is. Between Lilly’s inability to turn corners and her lack of interest in looking down to make sure she had a clear path on which to walk, Edward had his work cut out for him as he tried to keep her out of harm’s way. Edward gave Lilly a UT dress, which she seemed to be very excited over. I tried to tell her that burnt orange is not necessary a girl’s best friend when it comes to choosing dress colors, but Lilly didn’t seem to mind. She can wear it when we’re down in Austin in a few weeks; she’ll fit right in. As soon as Ellie arrived, she stepped right back into her godmother role. Within minutes, Lilly was running over to Ellie, or holding out her arms to go over to her. Ellie picked out Lilly’s outfits, danced and sang songs to make her laugh, carried her around like a little princess and even gave her a princess mirror (much to Jim’s dismay). Lilly adores looking at herself in this mirror. Every time I see Lilly and Ellie together, I think that they have more and more in common. If indeed that is the case, then I’m in for some trouble.
One of my favorite things about being home with everyone since Lilly was born is that I get to see Mum and Dad as grandparents. When they are with Lilly, it is the most natural thing in the world. You wouldn’t know it has been 22 years since they have had a baby in the house. I feel like we get a snapshot into what Mum and Dad were like when we were babies. Dad just wants to play! He loves chasing Lilly around, tickling her, looking at her over the table, then under the table, then over the table…or putting something on the table for Lilly to throw off, picking it up and putting back until she throws it off…the games are never ending. Sometimes, Dad gives up first, but surprisingly, on occasion, Lilly will go and do something else before Dad gives in. Their games usually end in both of them taking naps--actually, when Lilly is napping, everyone seems to nap. I think most Stephens' family members are not used to getting up at 7am (see the picture below for evidence!) I remember all the games we would play with Dad growing up, and now Lilly gets to play them all over again.
Mum is my inspiration when it comes to being a mother. She walks around the house chatting away to Lilly, singing songs, playing games and making it all look so easy! And, to top it all off, Lilly listens to Mum. They’re both stubborn, but I think in Lilly’s first year of life, she has realized that Mum is more stubborn, so it’s easier to give in. Without saying no all the time, Mum manages to get Lilly away from the stairs…or out of the cabinets…or away from cords and chargers (typically, Lilly’s favorite toys). When I left for Italy, I was sad saying goodbye to Lilly, but knew that she was going to have the time of her life. Jim and I had a list of things that we wanted Mum to “fix.” Like, getting Lilly to sit in her high chair for extended periods of time…and putting the pieces in a puzzle instead of always throwing them out. I don’t know if those things are “fixable” at this point in time. But, we came back to our happy little daughter who now holds her sippy cup out to “cheers” before she takes a sip and says “mmmm” after every bite of food. She babbles away constantly and likes carrying around her little “Lilly” tote bag full of toys, until she gets sick of it and throws them all on the ground. Lilly had a week filled with mangoes and grapes and every other fruit imaginable, as well as pink rice, beef ragout, chicken casseroles…basically, she spent the week at Baby Disneyland. What more could she want?
Throw Tess in to top it all off, and I don’t think Lilly could have been any happier. Poor Tess, especially now that Lilly is walking. Lilly used to follow her around but now that she can walk, she’s literally an inch behind her at all times. She likes to touch Tess’ nose, pat her head, and occasionally, much to Tess’ dismay, she likes to grab her ears. I think that Tess will spend this entire week sleeping and recovering from Lilly’s visit. After all, she just turned 13, and 13-year-old dogs aren’t supposed to put up with this!
So that is how Lilly spent her week. Next up, Jim and my week in Italy!