Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween 2009!

Halloween, start to finish:

selecting the perfect pumpkin from the patch

pulling out the "goopy stuff" and toasting pumpkin seeds

pumpkin head (literally, after Maddie put the pumpkin top on his head for a bit)

somebody got boo'ed and included were these amazing glasses

the most beautiful Snow White you've ever seen

Happy Halloween! family shot

dinner with the Holbrooks: Tyler, Nicole & Maddie

Snow White and Dopey

the whole gang: Nicole, Maddie, Tyler, Kate, Sam & Claire
aka Cinderella, Snow White, Anakin Skywalker, Ladybug, Dopey and Bee

Daddy's Halloween masterpiece

just two girls

I don't have a sister. I didn't have a lot of girl friends growing up, either. Having two brothers, I always seemed to relate better to boys. But it never stopped me from wondering what it would be like to have a sister, to grow up with another girl as my friend and playmate.

In my late twenties I met Kelly. Over the course of many months, she became one of my dearest friends. Then one day I had Maddie. Seven months later came Nicole. We couldn't wait for them to be friends. And now, the two are like sisters. They love each other and delight in spending time together. Also, neither girl is afraid to let go and just be herself in the other's presence (aka fighting like siblings).

And so it is with great joy that I watch these two, blue eyes and brown, as they experience life side-by-side.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Oregon! In October!

Well, someone who is very lame forgot to take her camera to Oregon. So we have just a few pictures to share, all taken with Ben's phone. We spent a lot of time hanging with the fam, playing outside, and even got in a trip to the Pumpkin Patch! Maddie and Sam were great little travelers, but not so great at sleeping through the night. All in all, a fun and memorable trip.

splashing in the mud

two smiley guys

the "cow ride"

two little pumpkins

How about this one?
(never mind that it is totally rotten)

Found one! Sure is heavy!

Talking with the piggies

Maddie and her cousin Lizzie

leaf jumping is fun!

We spent a long weekend hanging out with Grammy, Papa, Uncle Joe, Uncle Ben, Aunt Michele, cousins Grace, Lizzie and Elijah, plus a bunch of extended family and friends who came to visit. Hooray for Oregon in the Fall!

Saturday, October 17, 2009


She watches them across the plaza from behind her lens.

They sit side-by-side and turned in, knees touching, shoulders hunched over a cup of gelato. Her chocolatey lips spread into a broad smile as she gazes up at her Daddy. He returns the smile with an affectionate gaze and knowing nod. She is her Daddy's heart.

The baby boy sits astride his Daddy's knee, his eyes wide but glassy; he's tired. The fountain spouts water again and again and the boy is mesmerized. The Daddy gives the boy a kiss on the top of his mowhawked head. He is the apple of his Daddy's eye.

Together they sit, not for long, but enough to cement in the watcher's eye a sense of love, a feeling of wonder, and heartsickness at the babies becoming children before her eyes. These three, they are her world.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Maddie: 33 Months

My Sweet Madeleine,

How quickly the months fly by! Your 3rd birthday looms in the not-so-distant future. At least once a day you remark, "My birthday is in January, Mom? I'm going to be 3 years old." You've already started making birthday requests such as a rainbow cake--no rainbow sprinkles, lots of frosting, and ice cream, too. Good to know you're planning ahead.

You amaze and delight me each day with your insatiable energy and curiosity that just won't quit. As a result of your inquisitive nature, you have an incredible vocabulary and knack for remembering little details. One day as we took our friend home from school, the two of you looked at an illustrated Bible. He said, "Look, a parrot!," to which you remarked, "No, silly, that's a Scarlet Macaw, and that's a water dragon, and that other one, that's a giant anteater." Thank you to Diego and many animal books for those references.

You are a sheer delight. Everyone who meets you falls in love with your amiable character, your ability to remember their names with incredible accuracy (as well as other small details from conversations), and the way you just befriend each person you meet. At our neighborhood barbecues, old and young alike are mesmerized by your charm and soon following you around on little adventures. You are quite the assertive one, not afraid to approach groups of much older children and then lead them around as they follow your directions.

Your imagination has come alive in the past few months, and you spend the majority of each day engaged in pretend play with your dolls, food, hair bows, spoons, or whatever else happens to make its way into your hands. You are constantly naming said items with these fancy, flourishing names that get more complicated as the list grows: NeeNee, NooNoo, Adella, Alina, Aloolina, Nanoonina, etc, etc.

I love to peek in on you as you engage in your own play, as you are so creative and funny. I also love to hear you reenact moments from our day, showing mastery over situations in which you were frustrated, confused, sad or angry. I hear you telling your dolls to "go to timeout" or "hands are for being nice, not for hurting," or my personal favorite, "you're making ME frustrated!" Oops!

You love, love, LOVE your little brother. He is under your ever-watchful eye most of the day. You know what he is doing, with which of your toys he is playing, and what he wants and needs in any given moment. Sam scans the room for you whenever we return, and upon seeing your face, he lights up, smiles, coos and calls out to you. As he grows you are more and more excited about what he can do, and now that he can follow you, it is especially fun. The getting into your toys, drooling all over them, banging them on the floor--not so much fun.

One day you were in one of your moods and you said to him as he approached, "There is NO room on this rug for you, Sam." You pantomimed a large rectangle with your hands as you stated this emphatically, as if to erect an invisible fence. I told you, "There is ALWAYS room for Sam. He's your brother and you've always got to look out for him." Now I frequently hear you say to him, "There's always room for you, brother."

One day you woke up from your nap, dressed yourself in this pink party dress and heels, and came downstairs to show me your "beautiful outfit." I think my jaw might have dropped after taking this picture. You are effortlessly beautiful. Your golden curls, smiling brown eyes and soft skin made you appear as an angel in my camera viewer window. I thought to myself how much older you looked in that moment, as if I was peering into the adolescent future. Then I gulped.

The good news is, as we often tell you, your beauty resonates from the inside out. You are a good, sweet, kind girl. Your heart is loving and compassionate. You show incredible concern for your family, friends, and even strangers. You can light up a barbecue with your singing, dancing, and ongoing monologue.

We are so grateful to have you in our lives.



Friday, October 09, 2009

October: A Retrospective

October 2007, 9 months

October 2008, 21 months

October 2009, 32 months

Happy Fall!

Thursday, October 08, 2009

the hazards of self-sufficiency

Exhibit A: Self-Dressing
Notice the clever and unusual use of socks, blocks, and tights

Exhibit B: Self-Feeding
Sorry for the blurry shot. While taking the photo I got a little freaked out
about the pea moving further inside his ear.

Exhibit C: Self-Dressing
You send up a two year-old, she comes down an adolescent

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

seven months

Dear Bubbaloo,

Welcome to seven months, sweet boy! What a joy you are, so smiley and grunty and curious and mobile. Hoo boy, are you mobile! One of the biggest and most obvious changes in the past month is that you have started *ahem* crawling, and life as I know it is undergoing some major changes. No cord, open cabinet, unattended water glass, snack, or piece of trash is safe from your inquisitive little hands. With Maddie I had to do very little in the way of baby-proofing, but with you I sense that things are going to be different. You are on the move, and everybody better just look out!

The sound constantly escaping your lips these days is a big ole' grunt. You see the dog, you grunt, your sister holds out a toy, you grunt, you start crawling, again--the grunt. It is excitement, curiosity, happiness, anticipation, all rolled up into one big enthusiastic "nnnnggghh!," and it makes us very happy indeed. You also love to slap and bang things with your hands, arrange your body into a very flexible downward-facing dog, chase Maddie, and spit up on the carpet in ever-exciting arrays of orange, purple and green.

You are getting so big, so fast. I had one of those "oh my" moments the other day as I carried you, asleep, in my arms upstairs to your bed. I passed our reflection in the bathroom mirror and it looked like I was carrying someone else's child. But, wait! That enormous creature in my arms was my very own flesh and blood, my teeny tiny little baby boy, but instead of seeing a snuggly, scrunched up little baby there was this long-limbed, big-headed, fuzzy-haired, dirty-kneed boy! Who are you? Where has the baby gone?

Mealtimes continue to be a big hit at our house. Boppa jokes that for you there is no joy like seeing your Mama, in the kitchen, whipping up a bowl of food. Get used to it, honey. The boys I know never tire of a home-cooked meal from the woman they love most. :) You are incredibly enthusiastic and very serious about food. Keep it coming, and the smiles, "mmms" and grunts never quit. Stop for a minute to do something else--sheer chaos, pandemonium, frustration, "MAMA! Feed me NOW!" To look at your thighs is to understand the seriousness with which you approach nursing, breakfast, nursing, lunch, nursing, nursing, dinner and nursing (in that exact order).

Some of my favorite moments each day are those times we get to snuggle close, just you and I, as you nurse off to sleep. When I got pregnant with Maddie, I started growing my hair out because of this strange ideal I had of myself as a Mama, and it included long hair. These days as your sweet and soft little hand begins its journey upward, caressing and snuggling and patting along, until it at last gently grabs a handful of hair, twirling and swirling and curling it around your fingers, I get it. Many nights you will fall asleep, your hand still holding my hair, and I have to unravel the strands from your fingers after laying you in your crib.

There is a part of me that will always want to hold onto you, to keep you close, to grasp onto the babyhood you are rapidly leaving behind. At the end of the day, it's kind of nice to know you want to hold onto me, as well.

I love you, my darling boy.



Saturday, October 03, 2009

Further Madventures: in the Fall, in the City

Ben has Fridays off. Every once in a while, we wake up feeling ready for an adventure. It was supposed to be a marvelous day, so we headed to the City. San Fran, baby!

Are you ready, Maddie?

Hmm, not so sure? What if we get some lunch first? Yeah!

After Vietnamese hoagies and fruit in da Square, she was feeling much more adventurous.

She explored all the square had to offer and made friends with
an extraordinarily fastidious homeless man.
"How did you get here?" "A bus." "We came in our car. It is black. Are you cleaning?" "Yes. I sprayed ammonia and now I'm cleaning up this space." "Okay. Bye!"
We hit a few stores and then...

...feeling especially adventurous, we took two kids and a behemoth of a jogger stroller to Hardly Strictly Bluegrass in Golden Gate Park where we danced and sang...

...and danced and clapped, and made friends with all our neighbors.
"Do you want to share your snack with me?"
"Can I dance on your mat with you?"
"Your feet are brown? Look at mine!"

And then there was this guy, who managed to get by on a handful of
cat naps and still be the smiliest, easiest-going, loviest baby ever.

After three awesome sets, we decided it was time to catch some dinner. Other highlights of the festival included the roving braless woman, a lot of ganja smoke, crowds, a whole lotta f-bombs (Kelly or Melissa, if Maddie drops the phrase "Jump the *&$# up!" after circle time in Sunday School, blame it on hippie Tom Morello and the "secret" verses of "This Land was Made for You and Me.") Yikes.

Boppa met up with us for Lyle Lovett and his Large Band (awesome backup vocalist with a basso voice that sounds like there's distortion, but it's just his awesome gravelly deepness), then we headed to Japantown to Rassela's for some injera, lentils, beef, lamb, cabbage--yum-a-licious! We started dinner just before 8 (note: one hour past the kids' bedtime) and the restaurant was mostly empty. It was super late for us suburbanites, but the city operates on a different schedule. Maddie tried everything and liked most of it, even some of the spiciest dishes.

We took Boppa back to his car, changed the kiddos into jammies, and headed home just before 9. Add in an accident on the Bay Bridge...well, it was definitely an adventure! Hooray for our kids who did awesome and enjoyed themselves and even were enjoyable despite the busy day and lack of sleep.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

two little monkeys

petite prayers

The other night Maddie said to Dada after dinner, "Let's go to Old MacDonald's for ice cream!" We thought it a fine idea and hopped in the car in our jammies and comfy clothes, as the drive thru has no dress code. Over the course of the five minute drive, Maddie proceeded to grow more and more excited over the prospect of her "great idea" and mentioned no fewer than a dozen times, "We're going to Old MacDonald's! We're going to get ice cream!"

About a block before the restaurant, she folded her hands, closed her eyes, and prayed, "Dear Jesus. Thank you for Old MacDonald's. Thank you soooo much for ice cream. It is delicious. AAAAMEN!"

How can you say no to that?!