Wednesday, 28 August 2013

on the cusp of 3.

Toddlerhood. We are in it. I find it simultaneously (sometimes in the span of 5 minutes) incredible and excruciating. One minute I'm near tears, fighting back anger and my mind frustratedly racing, the next I'm melting at something so kind, so thoughtful or funny. The whole thing has me reeling. At the end of the day I'm exhausted. At the beginning of the day I'm exhausted! Some days you wake me with your arms outstretched, hair matted and wild (one big bird's nest really!) and you excitedly tell me how you dreamed of me. Other days you awake me with yelling and screaming that you want go in the living room, or you're upset about why I didn't come sooner (good morning to you too!). The tender parts outweigh the bad. Even on our toughest days when we just don't seem to be in sync (or we're so much in sync that we're driving each other crazy, know what I mean? We are so very much alike.), not more than an hour passes after you're in bed and I want to run in, hold you close, and cover your sleeping head with kisses. Kisses for days.

Spicy moments: your sarcasm. Already! I have a 15 year old here! The other day I was getting lunch on the table and you started "Mama, I want some water please. Mama. Mama! MAMA! Why aren't you getting me water? Is that water? Noooo."

Sweet moments: You are so wonderful with your sister. I am so very grateful for that, every day. Sometimes I'll be in the thick of getting dinner ready and you, so in tune to her, will without a word come into the kitchen to get her a spoon (Dani loves spoons, the colder the better), or to ask for a pacifier from the freezer on her behalf. The other day I walked in to find you gently burping her as you sat together on the floor (and darling Mila, Dani has not needed to be burped for awhile now but of course I didn't have the heart to tell you that. Burp away!). When Dani starts crying in the car, you'll immediately launch into Mockingbird or a soothing Daaaaaaaannniii, baby Daaaaannnniii, and you always rush to do that laugh. You know the one. She loves it--AHAHAHAHA with your throat and it pleases her every time. I know that you're starting to realize you two are going to be lifelong, built-in friends, and I know you're getting excited at all the future holds in store (I know I am). Room sharing. Campouts. Fort making under the table. Already it's becoming a 'thing' for you two to get in her crib together and bounce at the railing. Thank you for holding back and not all-out jumping when she's in it, like I've asked you to do.

Other things that make my heart catch in my throat: you asking for a hug every time you get angry lately. You ask almost immediately, and through tears, half-shouting it: CAN I HAVE A HUG? or CAN YOU HOLD MY HAND? and it breaks my heart, it does. And sometimes it reminds me of angry psych patients in some of the places I used to work. Who knew my OT psych background would prove to be most useful in motherhood? But I love that you're usually so quick to regain control of your emotions, I love that you usually recognize that in times of frustration it's a GENTLE touch that will calm you (rather than hitting/throwing etc.), but most of all I love how it brings ME back to the bigger picture--go easy on you. It's hard being 2 almost 3. Yes, I may be frustrated that you're doing X, but when you ask me for a hug I remember to tune into your emotions, and really, one of my big jobs as your parent is to equip you with coping skills for life. So thank YOU, Wugs.

Sweet...and spicy too. How else would I characterize you right now? I know you're nervous when your fingers or sometimes whole hand goes in your mouth, like when you're meeting new people. It's your telltale sign. If I'm being completely honest I have to say that lately I see a mirror image of myself in you. Not so much physically, although there are glimpses, but so many of your emotions, your sensitivities, your frustrations...they hit very close to home. It's daunting at times, seeing that. You have a front-row seat to my weaknesses and shortcomings. And every day is a new day to lead by example, lead as the woman I hope you'll be someday.

What captivates you? Your imagination is your favorite plaything. Honest. These are your standby imaginary friends: Dindi, Niddy, Duo, and Pineapple. Also lately it's been Dora and Boots and we all know where that comes from. We only recently found out that Dindi is 3 (although this is fluid and very subject to change as it constantly seems to be her birthday), Pineapple is her baby sister, Niddy is the mama and she stays at home and makes things for Dindi and Pineapple, and Duo is the Papa and he works as a nurse. Well. Wow. The Weibels have an alter ego at last. I'm flattered, Wugs. Since you saw the movie Annie and it's become like your favorite favorite thing, Molly and Annie (but especially Molly) also seem to go everywhere with you. (so if we're counting that's six extra people living in this apartment. Whew!) I love love LOVE the fact that you have imaginary friends, I think it speaks volumes to your creativity, your sensitivity, and your maternal instincts...but! Sometimes you use this little motley crew in the most frustrating ways. Arguing with me in the parking lot about how Niddy doesn't make Dindi hold her hand in the parking lot so why should Mila? Or Niddy lets Dindi sleep in her Mama and Papa's bed EVERY NIGHT so Mama you are horrible to not let me do the same. Basically I'm seeing my inadequacies and shortcomings here. Sometimes I'll whisper to Steve I HATE DINDI! to which he'll reply I F*@@**ing HATE DINDI TOO! And the other night at the dinner table I respectfully asked Dindi to leave since she apparently was throwing food at the table. When she wouldn't go I escorted her out the front door and in my mind I knew how ridiculous it all looked. I had to laugh. I did.

A few weeks ago on our Destin trip one of our waitresses commented that Mila seems "very okay with herself." Maybe she meant that as a dig (I like to think she only said it with kind undertones), but I took it as a HUGE compliment. I've struggled with shyness and confidence issues for a big part of my life and not that I don't think there will inevitably be those issues in the teen years...but for now it brings me great happiness to know we're instilling confidence and happiness in our daughter. No, I don't think I can tell you too many times that you're amazing or that you're my everything. I could tell you all day long and it still wouldn't be enough. Confidence is huge. It needs to go hand in hand with empathy, of course, but it's a key part of the equation in terms of navigating life.

Other favorite things. Did I mention Annie. Especially the song 'Maybe', even though you do a mean It's a Hard-Knock Life interpretation (you're also on a Little Bunny Foo Foo kick lately and ask me to sing it over and over again. Make it stop!). Let's talk about who's a girl--and then you'll rattle off the list of lady people in your life. For some reason you love doing that. Your books. There's so many. My friend Karrie pointed out that you're going to be our bookworm and inside I leaped for joy. You'll go on a rampage of wanting the same book for days and days on end (or your High Five magazine. You love that magazine!), then it will disappear and won't resurface until months later. You also love my cookbooks lately? You'll sit and pour over the recipes and plan out what we're going to make, what we need to make. You're getting a cookbook of your own for your birthday, I'm excited, it's going to be great. Aside from the seasonal books I keep all our books pretty accessible on the bookshelf, you have run of the mill of the bottom two rows. I used to try to rotate them more but out of sheer laziness haven't been great at doing that--I thought this would be a hindrance and stop you from accessing them, but no, you're doing just fine. You're not overwhelmed. You make more messes, this way, but oh well. Lately you've actually been pretty awesome about cleaning up. Minimal reminders. Did I just say that out loud...jinxed. But back to what you love. You love hearing stories "about the little girl"...I'll make up characters with crazy names and usually the heroine is a girl with some offshoot of the name Mila. Weewa. Milangawawaboo. The crazier the better. I'll tell you a story, then you'll tell me one (yours usually involve swimming), and on and on. And Papa's stories "about the little girl" are always with our names spelled backwards. Alim and her sister Inad, the mama Ainat and papa Apap. I wonder when you'll figure that out. And yes, Papa still doesn't want you knowing that his real name is Steve in a very Rumpelstiltskin move but shhhhhhh you know. Teve. Teve! Happy birthday Teve. It makes me laugh so hard.

Through swimming stickers you started liking Dora the Explorer and I try to use it to my advantage, letting you watch one of the shows while I'm trying to nurse Dani down for one of her naps. Your latest thing is to take pictures yourself using my phone. I love seeing your perspective on things. You're still not really into art or 'messy' projects. Maybe you never will be. You don't like getting your hands dirty or sticky and barely tolerate it when we're baking or cooking together (there's taste testing involved so that's why you do tolerate it). And when we go to the beach now, there's only a little bit of a struggle between your I HATE SAND ON MY FEET! self and BUT I HAVE TO GO ON THE SAND TO GET TO THE FUN WATER PART! self. We've been working on it. I remember hating the sticky sand part too. Part of me still does. If you live in Florida, though, you have to make peace with it. You know all your letters, uppercase and lowercase. Numbers are a different bag (1, 2, 3, 4, 9!) but we're working on it. 

It's been a big summer for you, Wugs. You learned to swim. You learned this whole peeing and pooping thing on the potty isn't so bad--huge milestone which I NEVER thought was going to happen (cue the dramatics), but now you're in underwear all day and night. It took awhile and much more than the stinking 4 days that the internet seemed to proclaim, but once it clicked, it clicked and there was no turning back. You're a rockstar. But you know what? Part of me misses you coming to me for a diaper change. I know, isn't that crazy? But I remember the way you used to throw yourself down on the ground and then on cue just splay out your limbs. I realized a few weeks ago that I'll never see you do that again and it made me sad. More sad than I realized I would be. And this was the summer that you started going to the movies! To date you've seen The Smurfs, Annie, and Hotel Translyvania.

You still constantly surprise me, just like your father does which I guess is the mark of a fabulous relationship. When we decided to ditch the diapers at nighttime too, following your lead, I scrambled and ran to Home Goods for a simple set of white cotton sheets as a backup. I thought you would be disappointed that they weren't fun, you know, like your gold polka-dotted sheets or like the flashy stickers you're always drawn to. But you loved those plain sheets. These are just like mama's sheets! you said. Thank you for getting me sheets like yours Mama! It nearly brought me to tears.

Funny things you say. (Pinch me. I couldn't wait for you to talk and this is a big reason why.):

Soon Dani will be walking, but we'll still call her Dani!

We're not going to share a boyfriend Dani, and I don't know what that means.

Mama's always going to be my mama. Me's not gonna have any other mamas. I don't want any other mama.

I don't want the mermaid doll because then I can't change her diaper.

Baa has a penis!
(his tail)

Mama you're so sweet.

Can I eat these kiwi seeds? Because they're delicious!

Papa I have to tell you something. Don't eat babies.

Steve: Mila why are you screaming?
Mila: There's something wrong with me!

When I get a little bigger, me's gonna be awesome.

Me: I like french fries a little bit. Not too much.
Mila: I like them too much.

Wakomo mama. That's what Dora says. (vamonos)

My baby daughter Dani.

You can keep rubbing my back, Mama. I think this will be one of your highs, isn't it?

Papa your beard feels like needles.

Me: You're my boo.
Mila: I is.

Me: Mila, it's impolite to pick your nose in front of people. she covered her eyes with one hand and kept right on picking.

Papa you don't have hair because you're a boy. 

I already have a baby in my belly. My husband is in town.

Her email address is dot com. 

I pooped! It looks like a banana. A dirty banana.

The way you say didaffe (giraffe)
                              dazoo (zoo)
                              eephant (elephant)
                             kank you (thank you)

Me: I don't want you to turn 3. I want you to stay little.
Mila: I need to turn 3. I have to grow up.

...Isn't she wise?

 I love you, sweet Mila. I could not ask for more. Happy birthday.

p.s. I'll be sure to put more Mila pictures on this post tomorrow. Right now I've got a very awake Dani looking for her 2 am snack :)

Friday, 23 August 2013


To start, this trip would never have happened, Destin would not have popped into my mind, had our dear friend Megan casually mentioned last year that her 2013 family reunion was happening there. To which I excitedly replied, "Wow! Well if we're back in Florida by then, I'll come meet you there!" It was a hope, and, well, fast forward a year with lots I'm talking lots 'o changes...and there we were. Crashing poor Megan's family reunion. There are not many friends I would drive 17 hours round-trip for with a toddler and 9-month old in tow; Ruengie is without a doubt one of them. We met in Alaska (in a supply closet at the hospital we were both working at) and together Steve, Megan and I rafted the Colorado River in 2007 and again in '08. We love her. Ask me in 30 years how she's doing and I'll have an answer for you. She is for certain a lifelong friend.

My high of the trip: seeing Ruengie for the first time in the parking lot as she came in from the beach to meet us--and just like that, it was as though I had seen her yesterday. Those are the best friendships, the ones that pick up right where you left off. Mila's high of the trip: holding Ruengie's daughter Gabriella's hand while they walked. Side note, sweet Gabriella has been relegated to hero status at our house. And scroll down to see the pic of the two of them side by side on the lounge chairs. Ain't life grand when you're almost 2 and almost 3?!

 And is it just me, or is Mila suddenly all leggy now that the bulky swim diaper isn't in the equation?! My God, a teenager! She still has the toddler belly, though. I will hold onto that toddler belly like a shipwreck survivor clinging to a raft. My last bastion.

During the day we were beach bums as lazily and unrelaxed as we could afford to be. We pretty much parked it on the beach in front of Megan's condo. Dani Dee Lu napped (or didn't nap, but held up amazingly well) on the go. Goodness she is SO patient with us. Unfortunately the water was really only swimmable with the babies one day--one stinkin' day, can you believe that? That's one point for the Atlantic coast, if you're keeping score. Luckily we hung out poolside at Megan's condo another day and another was spent at the Gulfarium...which I didn't think Mila was wild about at the time but the entire drive home she could talk about nothing else. Clutching the folded-up Gulfarium map and anxiously pointing out that we hadn't seen the birds there, and clearly she could see on this map that there were parrots, and we needed to go back. We need to, you guys.

There were things we would do differently. We had the bright idea to forego the house/apartment/condo rental this time around and just get a suite, so that we'd have a separate area in the evenings but would all end up in one king-sized bed at night. Um, no. Not because of space, but at the girls' bedtime Mila would turn into this shouty wildwoman (big-time bucket-dipping going on) and keep Dani from being able to stay asleep. It was frustrating and got to the point where we wouldn't let Mila nap just so she'd be sufficiently easier to wind down at the end of a long, full day. And naps whilst on vacation are pretty much the best thing ever, no? Oh well. I wouldn't trade any of it. 

Once the kiddos were in bed each night we would do crazy and wild things Shark Week shows, watch a zebra send police on a wild goose chase on Cops, eat key lime pie that I had dropped on the ground TWICE and Steve *said* he scraped off the bits that touched the ground and I ate it anyway (desperate). Aaaaannnnd room service, watered-down complimentary hotel drinks (I say watered down because by the time I got to them after babies were tucked in all the ice had melted and it was, well...sad. but sad in a yummy way.) And not working out like I had planned. There was lots of not exercising, not even looking once at my sneakers I had brought along. Sorry sneakers!

And not that eating was a huge focus of our trip, but you know it's never far from our mind. Here were some standouts:

Louis Louis in Santa Rosa Beach for a nicer dinner with kiddos. They only make like six things here but they make them really well. Steve loved his blackened grouper and my crab cakes were perfection.

Graffiti & Funky Blues Shack in Destin..Steve picked up food to go and we ate it back at our hotel. Lobster ravioli. It was delicious.

Donut Hole for breakfast/brunch. Worth the wait snaking out the door and down the steps. This was the key lime pie that I dropped on the ground and still ate! And you know what...worth it! Steve rated his breakfast here in his top 5 of all-time favorite breakfasts. Just sayin'. 

Aaaaand, if you happen to be celebrating a birthday while in Destin (or while you're driving the 8 1/2 hours to Destin, sorry Steve!) I highly recommend the yummy ones that Bon Appetit in Fort Walton Beach will customize for you. They were very gracious and patient with me and for that I thank them. 


Also. See that sign picture up above? Steve whined and whined when I hauled us all out of the car and into the 4:00 blazing afternoon sun to take it, but I had a vision, see. Someday when grown-up Mila and Dani are in Destin with their families, their little babies in the car napping and snacking and playing I Spy, they'll make their husbands find the sign so that they can recreate this exact picture. And they'll hang it up next to this one in their home. It will be such a sweet suspension of time. I can't even. Complete sentences are just lost on me when I think about such sentimentality.

I was going to do a separate post about road trips with littles; I had packed 'special' snacks with a little more intention and effort and a little basket of books/toys to be distributed one per hour (and really that part worked out great). Honestly though, it boils down to snacks, lots of snacks, the books/toys that are different from the ones they see every day, boobs (if you're a Dani), the occasional surrender of the iphone (Mila's favorite app right now is Peekaboo Forest), and did I mention snacks. Also don't be afraid to stop in creepy one-road towns to use their playground. You know, to "get the wiggles out." Yes, Steve and I say that phrase in public now. My how the times have changed. 

Thank you, Ruengie, for letting us tag along on the beach with you and your wonderful, wonderful family's reunion. It was such a lift. Destin, we'll be back! And Ruengie, girls' rafting trip 2025! Dani, Gabriella, and Mila will be 12, 13, and 14 respectively and I'll spare you the deets on mine and Ruengie's ages by then but who cares! We'll be rafting at the bottom of the Grand Canyon! Steve says he'll be a stowaway on the groover boat ;)

p.s. Those last 4 photos were taken by Megan...and I so appreciate with all my heart anyone who will take pictures of us with our littles. No small task when it's just the 4 of us. Thank you!

Thursday, 22 August 2013

This past Tuesday was such a hard day for me. I can't even pinpoint what it was that made it so tough. It was as though all 3 of us, Mila, Dani, and I--woke up on the wrong side of the bed. I was giving Mila the never yell at the chef! line while trying to eek some raisin bran into her bowl (yes! chefs serve cereal!). There were meltdowns hourly, many times involving just one nearly-3 year old (is this a preview of the tyrannical 3's or whatever they call it? Noooo! Someone invent a time machine!). Sometimes Dani would join in, and let's be honest, I'm not one to shy away from a good cry from time to time. 

I hate days like this. That goes without saying. It's the days where we seem to be locked on a hamster wheel and no one can break the cycle of bad attitudes, of sighs and deep breaths, a trillion deep breaths, of how-many-hours-till-Papa-gets-home and oh my gosh I need a break I need a break so bad. I think I'm pretty lousy at 'faking it' so when I'm tired and resentful the girls are going to pick up on it. Therefore I take a big part of the blame. And while happily these low-energy days don't happen very often, I can almost always link them to (duh) poor sleep, lack of exercise, and just all-around running ragged, trying to squeeze in a million things during those precious evening hours. It leaves Steve baffled, he would be fine with going to bed at 8 and not waking up until morning. Me, while I know my body needs it, I have this yearning to be productive tied into just enjoying the quiet, the stillness. 

But anyways,I'm going off on a huge tangent and not saying anything anyone already knows. Sleep is important blah blah blah. My rally cry is still I'll sleep when I die and I will probably always fight the act of going to sleep. Steve came home Tuesday, I told him I needed a break and he happily said he'd take the girls out for a few hours on Thursday, his next day off. 

Then Wednesday dawned bright with my early Dani bird who sleeps next to me. She grinds her teeth and drools but otherwise nuzzles into the crook of my arm so perfectly. No complaints here! Bleary-eyed I read on my instagram feed exactly what I needed to read. God works through social media these days (well He does!) and certainly these words rang very true for me, from the marvelous @joyprouty:

"...the thing that creates the most bitterness in my heart is my feelings of entitlement towards things...such as a full night's rest, or a bed/room/space/time of my own. somewhere in the back of my mind I harbor bitterness for the lack of sleep/neediness of children/the daily grind but it is just because I somewhere along the line decided I was entitled to the nature of my life as it was previously and then I grow bitter because the two lives don't match up. trying to learn to be more grateful these days. choosing continually to let the expectations go. even if it means I don't sleep. because that just means I have a baby in my arms healthy enough to cry to express her needs. I trust God will give me the strength to serve my family tomorrow because he trusted me enough to make me a mother."

Goodness. God will give me the strength to serve my family tomorrow because He trusted me enough to make me a mother. This was my mantra as I set out to do my mothering Wednesday. When Mila yelled at me for standing on *her* footstool, when Dani kept bursting into tears every time I'd attempt to lay her down in her crib after she would nurse to sleep, when tantrums occurred in the publix parking lot and Dani was startled awake from the screams. I prepared the entirety of dinner with Dani on my back in the ergo, because it was the only way she was going to stay happy, in the warmth and security of her mama. And in spite of all those jagged moments (because of it?), it was a great day. There were perfect moments. Some only lasted 5 seconds but I was grateful for all of it. My attitude was changed. I felt lighter, no longer dragging the heavy weight of resentment and fatigue. Let it go.

Steve still took the girls out this morning. I still needed and wanted some time alone, necessary for everyone, I think. There is no perfect attendance reward for this motherhood gig. I don't think the stuff of my daughters' reminiscing will be Mom! You were there every single second! but rather, Mom! You took us kite flying, and camping. We played I spy in the car. You listened to us when we were scared of the dark and empowered us with magic wands and fairy dust sprinkled on our sheets. You read out loud "just one more" chapter when the book was getting really good, and always let us lick the cake batter.

Steve leaves tomorrow for a weekend away, his time for a break. It is well deserved. I'm going to do my best to sing these words in my heart and mind as I face any challenges that may come (bedtime I'm talking to you!).

p.s. Destin pictures are being posted tomorrow! I already scheduled it and everything!

Saturday, 3 August 2013

This week.

Oh, this week. This week I tried to sign a credit card receipt with a straw (ironically it was while buying an iced coffee) and sprayed bathroom cleaner on the stain of my skirt. Yeah, I've been tired some. And on Thursday I had the bright idea to attempt going to the beach with the kiddos and roped my poor pregnant girlfriend and HER toddler son into it. It was not our finest hour. And we fired our realtor, which did not go over well as those things tend not to do. But there have been a lot of wonderful moments. I got to nap with Dani almost every day this week (I *think* I finally have the girls napping at the same time in the afternoons! And with that, Mila is going to promptly drop her nap. That's how it goes.) Mila and I got to go on not one but two dates. Oh, and little Dani is crawling now! AND

...the very next day she pulled up to stand (stop it. stop it right now.). I'm kind of loving those pictures of her using her sister as a foot- and handhold. It represents the turning of the tide--all along I've been telling Mila how she would be getting mobile, getting into everything, and to get ready. And now it's happening. 

 And today Dani and I went to the Big Latch On for Breastfeeding Week. Happy world breastfeeding week! I don't talk about it enough (or maybe to some people I talk about it too much!?! Ha!) but breastfeeding is one of my proudest achievements as a mother. At the end of this month I'll have been nursing for three straight years. It's all a post for another day (maybe when I'm not so tired and it's not nearing midnight), but for now to quote a pamphlet I saw today...celebrate, educate, and (my favorite) normalize.


The best thing I made in our kitchen this week.

Steve and I are watching this movie right now (it takes us three nights to watch a movie these days. Life right now.) I read the book when we were on the Vietnam leg of our SE Asia trip and it's bringing back so many wonderful memories.

Jimmy Fallon and The Roots singing Blurred Lines with Robin Thicke. Love it. Can't get enough. Also I need a banana maraca.