Friday, April 29, 2011

Philly, DC and back to CT

We're back into the swing of things after being away from home for awhile. It definitely took the full week for Lilly to get used to playing by herself again, but by this morning, she had returned to her busy little self. Lilly spent the week talking even more than when we left, if that is possible. Sometimes it's talking; sometimes it's singing; it's always some constant chatter to fill the silence. But without everyone around to talk to, all her talking this week was directed at me. I wish I could record a day and all that she says, because unless you're around her, you wouldn't believe that this amount of non-stop talking is possible. Last night, when Jim and I went in and checked on her before we went to bed--our nightly routine that we both love so much--we were struck by how totally peaceful she is when she sleeps; and consequently, how totally not peaceful she is when she's awake!

Lilly revved her chatter up a notch while we were in Philadelphia and DC. She had lots more people to talk to and names to say and songs to sing. We arrived at Villanova on Thursday. Lilly spent that afternoon at Jim's parents' house, running around outside with AJ and Lauren, both of whom she adores.

She finished off the day with another birthday celebration, complete with ice cream cake. This time, she learned how to blow out the candles by herself, the result of which is that she now leaves no candles near her lit. Every time she sees a candle, she sings "Happy Birthday to Lilly" and blows it out.

Everything about Carolyn and Jeremy's wedding was gorgeous. The ceremony, the reception, and of course, Carolyn, herself. Despite the pouring rain--I actually don't think I've ever seen it rain harder--things worked out perfectly. Lil had a great time! She loved the bus rides to and from the church (and has since asked to go on a bus almost every day). While everyone else found sitting on the bus in traffic and incessant rain pretty tedious, Lilly thought the bus experience couldn't have been better. She was good during the ceremony too. It was difficult because Jim was up on the alter the whole time, so once she accepted that, with a brief "hi Daddy" early on in the ceremony, Lil was (pretty) quiet. Except for one little (actually, rather loud) outburst. Carolyn and Jeremy were exchanging rings, and I was whispering in Lil's ear what was going on in the hope that it would help her stay quiet. So I told her that Jeremy was giving Carolyn a ring, to which she said quietly to me,"I want a ring, Mummy." I told her that she could tell Daddy that later, but this is where the miscommunication took place. Instead of waiting to tell Jim later, she belted out, in the silence of the church, "Daddy...I want a ring!" I was mortified; everyone was laughing; and then things went back to normal. Lilly wants a ring and is barely two. We're going to have some interesting years ahead. I have almost no pictures from the wedding--during the ceremony, I was looking after Lilly and then at the reception, Jim and I were too busy dancing to take pictures, but we had an amazing time. We danced the night away, and ended it with Philly Cheesesteaks back at the hotel before calling it a night.

The next day, Lil and I continued down to DC, and Jim came back up to CT for a few days of work. Throughout this entire trip, to Philly, then to DC, then on the 6 hour drive back from DC, Lilly had NO accidents! I think that means she's officially potty trained. She sleeps without a diaper during her naps now, and only wears one at night--which is often dry in the morning. She's amazing! I have no idea how she wakes up with a dry diaper after 13 hours of sleep. And I promise-I'm not dehydrating her before bed either. She continues to have her milk and usual drinks around dinner time. She just caught on quickly. Granted, waking up from naps isn't as relaxing as it used to be. Instead of usual playing and singing, Lilly has started going straight to her expression for "I have to go to the bathroom," which comes out as, "No pee pee in undies!!" She starts quietly and then yells, and you have approximately 2 minutes to get to her and get her on the toilet before an accident results. As Dad says, it's hard to refute that expression. Lilly's got a point!

We spent the first few days in DC spending time at home with Mum and Dad. We found a new little park that Lilly loves, where she'll spend 45 minutes going down the slide, running around, climbing up the stairs and going down the slide again. I met up with my friend Meg, who has triplets that are just a few months older than Lil. Just one Lilly keeps me busy so I can't imagine having three of them, but Meg's amazing and does a wonderful job. It's always hard to find a time and place to meet up but we had a gorgeous morning so met up and let the little ones run around at a park. They're very cute together.

Then, on the Friday before Easter, Edward, Joseph and Liana flew up to DC. We were all really excited to meet Liana--Joseph's girlfriend--who we'd been hearing so much about. Before even meeting her, it was clear that Joseph cares about her a great deal, so I was looking forward to meeting the girl that is making my brother happier than I can ever remember seeing him. They are wonderful together! And while we all loved Liana, Lilly absolutely adored her. She even called her, "Liana"--with an "L". Sometimes we'd hear a "Wiana" in there, but Jim and I were pretty excited to hear an L come out of her mouth. Lilly followed Liana around and wanted to sit next to her. She spent her time looking for Liana and asking her to come out and play. She even helped Liana take her vitamins. So Liana can rest assured--she is well liked, by all big and little family members.

Just checking Liana's ears with her new doctor's kit!

Lilly has such a great time being with her uncles, and Edward and Joseph give her every reason to love them. They showed up with an endless supply of birthday and Easter presents. These presents included Lulu, the "fur real" cat that meows and purrs and even sheds like a real cat (thank you Edward). I find Lulu to be a bit creepy but Lilly carts this cat around with her everywhere. As a result, we now have fake cat hair in our car. What an amazing gift! I'm saving this toy, so that one day, I can return the favor and send it back to Edward. But they didn't stop with Lulu. Joseph brought a lawn mower that blows bubbles, they brought a set of golf clubs, a talking Elmo phone, some sidewalk I forgetting anything?? They covered all the bases. Large, noisy and messy toys. What are uncles for?

In addition to the toys, Joseph and Edward provide constant entertainment for Lil. One morning, when it was almost 9:00 and Lilly still wasn't awake, Edward told me that I could thank him for the 14-hour sleep of Lil's, as he was doing wind sprints with her in the back yard the afternoon before. Whenever Lilly wanted someone to run around outside with, or when she wanted to play golf, or go outside and draw with chalk, or get up to any sort of mischief, she'd find Edward. The two of them would disappear for ages and both come back exhausted.

Watching videos of lion cubs before our trip to the zoo

Lilly told Edward to listen to his own Edward did.

Joseph was also up for playing games. But more importantly, in Lilly's mind, Joseph can fix anything. It all started back in Florida when he was the only one that would put Lilly's little dump trucks back together, that she would purposely pull apart. Yesterday morning, Lilly asked me to fix an animal cracker whose leg had come off. When I told her it was broken and wouldn't go back together, she replied, "oh no...ask Joef." Joseph and Lilly have a special relationship.

Recently, Joseph wrote a very sweet blog about Lil, which you can find
here. I love watching Lilly's relationships with everyone develop and take their own unique shapes. In one moment which caught Lilly (and I think the rest of us as well) off guard, Lilly went upstairs to get ready for bed and came back downstairs to find Joseph in these:

I'm not sure whose love for Elmo is stronger. Joseph certainly seems to be a pretty big fan.

Then of course, there's time with Gigi and Papa. Gigi is always the calm presence. She's there for hugs and reading stories and watering plants and cuddling. She has endless patience and finds a way to let Lilly "help" her with everything.

Listening to sirens (or hiwens, as Lilly calls them)

Hiding. Lilly's new favorite expression is, "no pictures of Lilly, Mummy." Just like the celebrities...

No ones ears were safe.

Papa, on the other hand, has convinced Lilly that everything is his. Even her blanket,
one. So she'll ask Dad if she can have, "Papa's one" or be eating dinner and tell Papa that she's eating "Papa's peas." This, along with Dad's constant questions regarding camel sightings (Dad was trying to convince Lilly that there were camels roaming around Independence Hall in Philadelphia), have trained Lilly to reply, "Noooooo...Papa's being siwwy." It didn't take very long for her to figure that out!

Jim took the train down on Thursday afternoon, and we enjoyed a nice dinner out at Lebanese Taverna (my favorite!) to celebrate our four year wedding anniversary and my 30th birthday! For my birthday, Jim gave me a new lens for my camera (woohoo!!) and Mum and Dad gave me photography lessons so I'm pretty excited. Top those off with a couple of (very generous) Amazon gift cards from the boys, and I'd say I got everything I could want and more. I'm one happy 30 year old!

Lilly was so excited to see Jim when she woke up on Friday morning. Her real live toy was back, and she didn't waste any time. Lilly jumped right into her "Dad obsession" and followed Jim around, talking to him, jumping on him, and trying to interrupt him when he was talking to me.

Just doing a little gardening.

We had such a nice Easter weekend and as always, it's hard when these weeks come to an end. Hopefully we'll all see each other in June, when Ellie's home from Guatemala.

Happy Easter!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

The Zoo

Lilly and I were in DC this week, after spending last weekend in Philadelphia at Carolyn and Jeremy's wedding. Jim took the train down on Thursday afternoon and then Edward, Joseph and Liana flew up yesterday morning so the family is almost all here. We're all missing Ellie this weekend, but we had a great chat with her on skype last night, over a few glasses of champagne, and for awhile, it felt like she was here. I'll post some pictures and stories at the end of the weekend, because as always, we're having a great time being together.

This morning, Mum went off to yoga, Dad was riding his bike, Joseph and Liana went into DC to do some exploring, Edward enjoyed the peace and quiet of an empty house and Jim, Lilly and I ventured off out to the zoo. Lilly was so excited to go. When Joseph and Liana left before we did, Lilly stood at the door saying, "Wiwwy, come...zoo...zooooooo" and was sure that they were going to the zoo without her. Jim and I convinced her that she wasn't being left behind and a few minutes later, we were in the car heading to Woodley Park Zoo.

It wasn't the nicest morning but the rain had stopped and it seemed to be warming up so we spent a couple of hours walking (well, if you're Lilly, running) through the zoo. It's not an amazing zoo, by any means. But seeing the zoo through the eyes of a two-year-old makes it the best zoo we've been to. Her eyes opened wider every time she saw a new animal. It reminded me of when we went to the circus. There was the same level of excitement, and the same amount of innocence. In the reptile house, we were looking for some sort of lizard who seemed to be hiding in his tank. I found it, and pointed it out to Lilly, who promptly pointed it out to Jim, repeating what I said. "Daddy, see lizard? On rock...soooo cute!" Well, it was a rendition of what I said, anyway. The highlight of the trip for Lilly were the Lions. She called them all "wion kings," apparently assuming that all lions are named after the movie. She was mesmerized by the lion cubs, tackling each other and jumping on their dad. She loved the "huge lion" and the "mummy lion". She would have been happy watching these lions all day.

Watching the Lions

After the lions, we saw the elephants, panda, gorillas, alligators, and turtles, just to name a few, but although she enjoyed them all, after each animal, she turned to us and said, "wion king again, peese?" The lions were definitely her favorite animal.

A crocodile, staring back at Lilly.

Lilly loved watching the elephant throw dirt on himself. In the words of Lilly, "eye-fant all dirty."

On our way out, Lilly picked out a "lion king" stuffed animal to bring home, which she promptly named, "Nala". It's a little bit confusing since the stuffed animal is clearly a male lion, but she refused to change his name to Simba so she has her new Nala, which she adores. When I tucked her in for her nap this afternoon, I had to tuck Nala in too. The two of them were all snuggled up ready to sleep. Before she went to bed, Papa told her that if Latoof and Nala didn't get along, then Nala would have to go. Lilly didn't seem too concerned. Papa did.

Papa added Latoof to the picture, and Lilly said an expression that has quickly become one of her favorites, "Papa's being siwwy!" (Papa's being silly...yes, Papa's always being silly).

Sunday, April 10, 2011

April 10, 2009

The morning: getting a manicure/pedicure

This time two years ago:
  • It was Good Friday, and my due date. For nine months, we had been counting down to this day. Was an "Easter Baby" in the cards for us?
  • Jim and I were sitting on the couch, enjoying dinner, a glass of wine and a movie, wondering when our little one would be making his or her appearance in the world.
  • We were both ready, but didn't mind if the baby decided to wait until after the weekend--we decided that we would enjoy one last weekend to ourselves (that didn't happen!)
  • I went to the doctor at 3:00 in the afternoon, who told me that things hadn't really progressed since the week before, so we should start thinking about an induction the following week, which I did not want.
  • We felt prepared! Well, as prepared as you can feel when you've never been through this experience before. We loved our childbirth class and had a clear picture of how we hoped the birth would go. Looking back, aside from the unexpected speed with which everything happened, it went exactly how we wanted it to.
  • I hadn't had my first contractions yet. They didn't start until around 11:30pm.

From 11:30 on, our night/morning went something like:
  • a few more contractions (well, actually, a lot more...)
  • some timing and writing down of the duration and length between contractions, until I threw away the watch and Jim's sheet with the times on it after he said something like, "that one wasn't even 45 seconds. We're not ready to go to the hospital yet." Wasn't EVEN 45 seconds? Never say that to a woman in labor.
  • a shower and a haircut for Jim--yes, the infamous haircut that Jim asked for in between contractions. Jim was in no rush to get to the hospital; he was just following what we learned in our birth class... "stay home as long as you can."
  • the eternal drive to the hospital at 5:15am, which will go down for me as the most uncomfortable car ride of my life.
  • arriving at the hospital at 5:30; Lilly was born at 5:52am.
Very early the next morning!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

My Favorite "Lilly" Things

It's April 6th, which means that in less than a week, I'll be the mother of a two year old. I can't believe it! The past two years have been full of so many stand-out moments, which as significant and memorable as they were, seemed to fly by. I feel like Lilly was just born, and I blinked, and here we are today. As we're approaching Lilly's second birthday, I wanted to write down some things that I love about Lilly. When you love someone so much, and love everything about that person, it's hard to put into words what makes you love them. But here are a few of my favorite "Lilly" things.

Her helpfulness.

Lilly wants to do everything that I'm doing, all the time. If I'm unpacking the dishwasher, she's next to me tossing the silverware into the drawer. If I'm writing an email, she's standing by the computer trying to type. When I'm cooking or baking something in the kitchen, she says, "big chair, mummy" so that I'll bring a big chair into the kitchen for her to stand on and see what's going on and "help." She loves moving furniture. Dad calls her a "furniture removalist," as she seems to move an awful lot of furniture in her free time. She likes putting clean clothes away, usually unfolding them first and then squashing them into a drawer. She loves sitting on the washing machine when I'm putting clothes in. If she's there, I hand her the clothes and she tells me, item by item, what's going in. "Daddy's t-shirt, mummy, daddy's t-shirt...daddy's sock, mummy...another one, daddy's's sock, mummy...another one, lilly's sock..."

Her non-stop activity.

From her earliest days, she's been a mover. When she was only weeks old, she would lie on our bed and kick her legs and wave her arms for a solid 30 minutes, which is a lot of movement for such a little person. She was crawling before she was 7 months old, and then took her first steps around 11 months, before launching into her run/walk confidently on her first birthday. And she's never looked back. Now, she dances and skips and runs and jumps around the house. She loves going out for walks. When I'm holding her hand, I've had multiple people stop me and say, "Oh, she's such a little thing. Her legs have to move a lot faster than yours to keep up with you..." I know that they're implying that I'm pulling her along, when in fact, the opposite is true. She tends to run everywhere, pulling me along to keep up.

She's cheeky. And she knows it.

She calls Jim, "Dim," and me some version of Amelia, "a-me-wia," if we don't respond to her "Mummy...Daddy" calls fast enough. She climbs up on the changing table, and sits there with a triumphant smile on her face. If she wants us to come and pick her up after a nap, she'll yell out that she has a "yucky diaper," knowing that will get an immediate response. If she wants to watch another episode of Olivia or wants another lollipop, she'll tilt her head to the side, hold up her pointer finger and say, "one more, peeese..." which takes a lot of strength to say no to. But her cheekiness is not destructive. It's not dangerous (aside from the changing table incident, which thankfully hasn't happened again). It's playfully cheeky, and she knows exactly what she's doing.

Her snuggling.

As such a wriggly little person from a young age, I've come to really appreciate her snuggles. She snuggled as a newborn, of course, but as soon as she was a few months old, her snuggling lessoned and her independence grew. Once she started crawling and walking, she wanted no part in sitting still. Now that she's bigger, she's growing into a snugly little girl. She loves lying on the couch on Jim's lap, watching a "moomie" or reading a book and drinking her milk. She'll happily lie in our bed before her nap, reading books, pretending to be asleep. Granted, you have to catch her at the right moment; usually just after she wakes up or when she's getting tired, but these are times that Jim and I cherish.

She's a genuinely kind little girl.

She kisses everything (which is cute for the time being, anyway!) If she likes something, she kisses it. Today, we were out for a walk and she kissed a stick. Lilly adores sticks! She finds one every time we go out and uses it as her walking stick. She kisses all her stuffed animals. She kisses us. She kisses her harmonica, which is currently her favorite toy. She loves babies and helping with babies. A lot of our friends have younger babies, and from their earliest days, Lilly was hugging and kissing them, and forcing their pacifiers into her mouths. She brings them diapers and wipes when they're being changed. She walks up to them and tells them to, "shhhhhh," if they're crying. She brings them toys to play with and tries to hug them so often that she tends to knock them over. She loves holding her friends' hands. She has a kind little heart and that makes me happy.

Her singing and dancing.

We signed Lilly up for her first class--a music class--that started in January. Lilly and I go every Wednesday afternoon (and Jim was able to take her one weekend) and it has quickly become an integral part of Lilly's life. She knows all the songs that we sing in the class and walks around singing them during the day. She wakes up in the morning and starts singing, "Hello, everybody..." to her animals. When we were talking to Joseph and Edward on skype the other day, she sang them the goodbye song. While dancing, she sang, "Goodbye to Joef, goodbye to Eye-ward, goodbye, so long, farewell..." and she pulled out her harmonica when she was singing to Gigi on skype. Last week at dinner, she turned to Jim and said, "hold hands and rock, daddy," which is how the goodbye song starts. So we were holding hands, singing this song at dinner, wishing someone could record it so that we can show it to Lilly when she's 16. Jim's words were something like, "I can't wait to tell her one day that she wanted to hold hands and sing at the dinner table." She had a huge smile on her face and has since asked to, "hold hands and rock" during a meal almost daily. Along with "Hello, Everybody," and "If You're Happy and You Know it," one of Lilly's favorite songs is still, "
Forget You," by Cee-lo Green. I've included a link to the youtube video of the song, which I've never watched, but gives you an idea if you've never heard the song. It's the censored version of one of the rudest songs, probably of all time. Not at all an age appropriate song, but she adores it, and sings along, and tells us when her favorite part is coming up. She yells out the, "whyyyyyyy? whyyyyyyy?" part every time. We've tried to record it and I'll have to check and see if we have a good video of her singing it because it really is priceless. Maybe Jim's dream will come true and we'll see Lilly on American Idol in 14 years.

Her constant chatter.

I couldn't find a picture to epitomize chatter; only a video would do it justice. So I chose one of my favorite Lilly pictures. Most of the time, I love her chatter. Sometimes, I just wish for a minute of peace and quiet. But at the end of the day, Jim and I are always left smiling. The chatter does. not. stop. Unless Lilly is asleep. And the second she's awake, you know because she's chatting again. I thought it would get easier to understand her, but it's actually getting harder, as she's adding more and more words to her vocabulary. She's getting good at helping us figure out what she's saying though. Over the weekend, she kept saying, "hiwen, daddy, hiwen..." over and over and over again. Both Jim and I took our guesses at what she was saying, only to hear a little, "no, daddy..." from the stroller. Finally, she started saying, "hiwen, daddy...eeeee awwwww" and making siren noises. That's all it took. We figured out she was saying siren (even though there were none around...she must have been reminiscing about her days staying with Mum and Dad in Columbia Heights).

Her ability to sleep.

Everybody hopes that their children are good sleepers, and it's safe to say that we got our wish. Call it genes, call it luck, call it perseverance, call it whatever you want, we have a good little sleeper on our hands. She has been from her earliest days, and we appreciate it every single day. She loves her crib--yes, it's full of books and stuffed animals, so I'd love it too. But when we put her in there, whether it's for a nap or at bedtime, she lies down, lets us tuck her in, and after some chatter or a song or two, falls asleep. Her sleep is like my sleep. Once she's out, she's out. And she needs her sleep. People think we're crazy for putting her to bed at 6:30 or 7 at night, but after her days of constant movement and chatter, she loves climbing into bed. And we don't hear from her until anywhere between 7:30 and 8:30 the next day. Of course, we have the occasional earlier or later wake up, but for the majority of days, she wakes up just in time to see Jim before he leaves for work, around 8. When she's sick, she sleeps. When she's teething, she sleeps. Seriously, she's my daughter. Let's hope these genes keep passing along.

Her girliness.

Spell check is telling me that girliness is not a word. Well, I have to disagree. Lilly is most definitely, a little girl, exhibiting many of my favorite "girly" characteristics. I put a dress on her the other day, which she called a "tutu", and she loved it. You can imagine the immense enjoyment that I got the next day, when she asked to wear a "tutu" again. Jim came home to a very excited wife--my daughter wants to wear dresses! She's choosing to wear them! For the time being, anyway. And I'll take it. I just happen to have a few spring and summer dresses ready, so all we need is the nice weather to start pulling them out. Combine the dresses with wanting to wear clips and ribbons in her hair, and you've got yourself a little girl. She has a necklace that she loves, that she would sleep in if she could. For the first week that she had it, we had to sneak it off her before she went to bed. Yep, she's a girl alright. And, although it's not causing us too much worry (yet), the only colors that Lilly can correctly identify confidently are pink and green. I'm guessing that's partly my fault, since those are the colors that have made up almost every outfit that she's worn over the past two years. I'm hoping that she starts to recognize other colors, but for now, I'll chalk it up to her being a real little girl.

Her smile.

Lilly smiles at everyone (after an initial scowl or two if she doesn't know you), and as a result, everyone smiles at Lilly. She goes through life seeing nothing but smiles. From us, from friends and family on skype, from people walking down the street. So why wouldn't you smile? I'd smile all the time if everyone kept coming up to me telling me how cute I was! She's such an innocent little person with a genuine love of life. And it's the simple things. Whether it's a poodle at the circus, making a tent with her Dad, a ridiculous celebratory dance by me when she's gone to the bathroom (which I've done a lot of over the past ten days), chasing her shadow, or putting in extra bubble bath to make, "sooooo many bubbles", Lilly's face lights up. She laughs watching Edward dancing with her over skype or the video of Joseph listening to the "eye-fant song" or Ellie showing her a flower that wilts and then springs back to life from her desk at work or Papa, changing the background of iChat every time that she claps, so it looks like he and mum are on a roller coaster or in the ocean. As everyone tells us, she's got the littlest face, with the biggest smile.

My favorite picture, that captures what I love about Lilly.