Saturday, May 4, 2019

Dear Lukey

Hello, Monkey. Or my Luke-A-Doo. Or, if dad is talking to you, Luke the Duke of Spitstown. And finally, at times, Lukey Dukey Oh So Pukey.

You go by a lot of names around here - though never, ever Lucas unless you want to see dad shoot me that look that screams “That’s NOT his name!” for the thousandth time in your one year on this earth. I know, I know. We wanted something simple for you, and given my love of three Lukes throughout my life - Skywalker, Perry (RIP) and Danes - it was an easy choice.

So you’ve got the no muss, no fuss name. You had an easy, very little muss birth.

And that’s about where the notion of “simple” ends with you, bud.

I’ll preface this by saying you have amplified my heart’s capacity for love in a way I never expected, certainly not after having my first kid and thinking, “Huh. Well, that’s the most I’ll ever be capable of love in my life.” You came out, settled into my chest, knocked that theory right out of the room and continue to do so every single second I spend with you.

That being said.

Man alive, have you given me and dad a run for our money. They say second kids are always tougher than their siblings because the first one creates the illusion that this parenting business is a breeze and continuing to populate the earth is the best idea ever. Lib did a bang up job of this. From the minute she came home, she loved her sleep and wanted to be left alone in the comfort of her crib to get it.

You refused to sleep anywhere other than your baby swing, so that meant four months of me sleeping next to you on the couch, waking up every three hours to feed you and countless times in between to make sure you were still breathing. (If any other parents or pediatricians are reading this, yes, I know, letting your baby sleep in a swing is about the worst thing you can possibly do, on par with turning their crib into a giant ball pit and just hoping they can occasionally claw their way to the surface. But it was the only way he would sleep. So it was either the swing with my fear of him suffocating waking me every 10-15 minutes or no sleep for anyone in the house ever. I opted for swing.)

Proof that I did eventually get you to sleep in a crib so no one calls protective services on me. And I know - the blanket. It's crocheted so there are holes should he pull it over his face. Ok? Ok. 

So those first few months were a little rough. I’m not saying you were a bad baby, you were just...let’s go with “not low-maintenance.” You refused to adapt to any kind of routine I tried to force upon you, so I could never bank on a window of Luke-free time. You whined a lot. You demanded my full attention a lot. You spit up A LOT.

But in between all that, boy, did you ever find your own little ways to inject joy into every single day. From the instant you came home, you became enamored with your sister and have worshiped her every moment since.

That's Lib singing in the car and you acting like you're at a concert for the most revered diva in the music biz. 

All she has to do is glance your way and your face twinkles like a firework. She, in turn, treated you with general indifference for the first few months. Really, up until about now. Because now, you are no longer just some chubby lump whose main functions include stealing focus and caterwauling.

Now, you can booty scoot.

That is your main mode of transportation. You’ve clearly decided crawling is not enough of an upper body workout and you’ve taken to dragging yourself from point A to point B. I absolutely love this. Your doctor does not. But listen, you’re also pulling yourself up to stand so I know one day, I’m going to do something like reach for the TV remote and turn around to see your confidently striding up to me. I can just about guarantee it.

I can also guarantee the reason I’ll be reaching for the remote is because you are screeching at me to put on your favorite show. Because you love - no that’s too weak a word - you exist for “Little Baby Bum.” It’s a British cartoon on Netflix in which children and various animals including a cow, pig, sheep and spider (who is, terrifyingly, the same size as the barnyard animals) sing nursery rhymes. That’s it. No plot. No narrator. No nothing other than singing in adorable British accents for hours on end. You would watch this from the minute you wake up until the minute you go to sleep if I let you. And trust me. It’s tempting to let you. It puts you into some kind of trance and allows me to actually get a few things done. Or just sit and breathe. Or calm my mind until all I’m capable of is singing along to the mindless lyrics. Because these aren’t all winners, bud. “Ice cream, ice cream, chocolate ice cream. Ice cream, ice cream, chocolate chip. Ice cream, ice cream, strawberry ice cream.” You get the idea.

Now what else did I want to tell you? Why can’t I think?

“Ice cream, ice cream on a hot day. Ice cream in the month of May!”

Damn you, Baby Bum!

OK, I digress. Listen, you’re incredibly cute. You have giant blue eyes, wispy blonde hair, and THE CHUNKIEST THIGHS OMG on any baby ever. You also have this sausage thing happening where you don’t have a wrist, just arm chunk then chubby hands. I love it so much. I tickle you and pinch you and kiss you and just generally love on you every minute I’m with you.

I mean.

Which might explain why you are the biggest Mummy Sucker on the planet. That’s the term our family uses for babies who cannot function without their mother’s undivided attention and you, my friend, are their king. You are constantly either in my arms or in my lap or pulling at my legs or nuzzled into my chest. You don’t like me to do much of anything other than snuggle you, play with you, and just be all about you you you.

It’s exhausting.

Also, I love it and please never stop. If you love me half as much when you’re grown as you do at this stage of your life, I will consider myself the luckiest mom on the planet.

Because, you know what, bud? The feeling is completely mutual.



Friday, February 8, 2019

Dear Libby 4

I know I say this every year but how - how???? - can you be another year older? Didn't we just have Elsa from "Frozen" here for your third birthday? Now, another one has come and gone - this year with Ariel from "The Little Mermaid" as your requested guest (you made your Mom so proud with that one!) - and you are 4.

You're rapidly leaving your toddler days behind and moving into full Kid status. And, man, do you let me know it. You insist on doing everything on your own, to varying degrees of success. Getting shoes and socks on you can handle. I just make sure I give you a 20-minute heads up before we're leaving and you're typically ready to rock by the time I'm heading out the door. Dressing yourself is still dicey - pants are easy. Shirts - especially hoodies - tend to trap you and you end up with your head encased in the inside-out garment with your arms straight up in the air and belly exposed, traipsing blindly about in search of rescue. Not gonna lie, sometimes I let this go on for a minute until I can compose myself enough to intervene.

You love to help me cook dinner, you set the table, you help with sweeping and dusting, you feed the dog - I've got it made until the day you start demanding allowance.

Hoodie removal aside, you're pretty good at just about anything you try. You love letters and words and are actually pretty skilled at coming up with your own. You still call yourself (and me and dad) Sassabroni daily. You also have a way of mashing up words in a way that totally make sense. If you find something "yummy" and "delicious," you'll call it "yumlicious." Exciting and incredible becomes something like "excredibling." At first, I discouraged this by saying, "That's not a word," until I realized neither were Quidditch or horcrux until J.K. Rowling created them for "Harry Potter," so as far as I'm concerned, go for it.

In all seriousness, everyone you meet tells me how advanced your language skills are. I know it's because you love to read and you listen to everything everyone says. You're at that age where I can't gossip about anyone behind closed doors because I know you will repeat exactly what I said word for word the next time we're around the subject of my dishing.

This photo, to me, sums up your "I got this" attitude. Just try messing with that.

The last year has been a huge one for you. You started swimming on your own (with the help of a life vest but still), you started preschool (which, shockingly, you LOVE), you had your first sleepovers, you got your first bike, you had your first school recital, you went to your first Disney on Ice show (the first of many, based on how much we both loved it), you went to your first amusement park, you started dance class. But the biggest change, I think we'd agree, was the beginning of your life as a Big Sister. This little guy has been around for about nine months now, and it's taken some getting used to on your part.

Luke is unabashedly enamored with you. Do not mistake the photo - he is not pulling your hair to hurt you. He's pulling your hair to bring you in closer to him. He gazes at you all day, panics when you're not in sight, laughs at everything you say and do, squeals with glee when you so much as glance at him and just generally believes the sun and moon rise and set with you.

You reciprocate his affection with an attitude most people reserve for filing their taxes.

Don't get me wrong - you're really good at helping me care for him. Need someone to fetch a diaper? You're on it. Help with a bath? Just hand you a washcloth. Hunt down a binky that went missing? No problem. But when it comes to showing him any kind of emotion beyond general indifference, you're just not there yet. Maybe once he starts walking and talking and can actually play with you rather than just steal focus when you're trying to hold my and Dad's full attention. Here's hoping. Otherwise, that boy is in for an early life lesson on the pains of rejection.

Outside of how you treat Luke, you are incredibly kind, thoughtful, empathetic, caring and attentive.You pay attention and you know when someone needs a hug or a smile. You relish the opportunity to help someone in need. You're eager to brighten anyone's day, even if it's with a friendly wave to an unfamiliar face in the mall (we'll work on Stranger Danger later). In those moments, I'm most proud to be your mom. That kindness is not something you can teach. It's innate, and I know in many ways it's your Grandma shining through in you. She always said, "Above all else, value kindness," and Kid, you give that stuff away all day every day. You remind me to be kind even when I'm not in the mood to be, and I appreciate that beyond words. Being your Mom has made me a better person than I ever thought I could be and I love you beyond words for that.

Everyone always tells me you're my Mini-Me, and I take that as the biggest compliment of my life.

You're the best, Crunch (yes, we still call you that). Here's to another fantabulous year.



Saturday, February 3, 2018

Dear Libby

Wait. Didn't I just write you a Happy 2nd Birthday love letter like, one viewing of "Frozen" ago? What on earth happened to the last 12 months? I remember hanging out with you a lot doing some of our favorite things (walks in the park, trips to the library, watching the same movies 1,000 times). I remember dealing with the occasional (daily) tantrum and cleaning up the occasional (hourly) mess or two, but other than that, I can't tell you where this year went.

A few things stick out. You got really into the holidays this year and asked everyone you saw every time you saw them one of the following questions for months:

1. What are you gonna be for Halloween?
2. What am I gonna be for Halloween?
3. What do you want for Christmas? 
4. What do I want for Christmas?

It was super cute...the first 8 million times. After that...well, let's just say I was okay with New Years finally rolling around. It's now February and you still manage to work all four questions into regular conversation. Only eight more months until they become relevant again! 

You also had an incredible vocabulary explosion this year and have been known to call me:

1. Gullible (sometimes appropriately)
2. Complicated (also appropriately)
3. Your best friend (swoon!)
4. Your true love (mega swoon!)

I hang on to the moments when you call me those last two because I am painfully aware of the day in the not so distant future when getting you to spend time with me will take some kind of hypnosis like the kind Ursula uses on Prince Eric when she's disguised as Vanessa and using Ariel's voice (hopefully, you still love "The Little Mermaid" as much as you do now and get that reference).

You also make up words. I have a (probably not great) tendency to call you a jabroni when you're acting like a goofball. I also call you out on your frequent sass about 800 times a day. You opted to save time by combining the two, and call yourself a "Sassabroni." The first time you said it, your father and I looked at each other in disbelief and laughed for an hour. Now, we use it daily. 

Sidenote: We do still call you Crunch, and we still don't know why. I think you're stuck with this one for life, kid. Apologies. 

Oh, Crunch, that I could hit a pause button and just freeze time where we are right now, because let me tell you, now is pretty great. Here are a few more highlights: 

Wheel-san (as you call him): Your best friend in life is super hairy, sometimes smelly, and stalks your every move. Wilson, our beloved border collie/lab mix who we brought home around your birthday last year, has imprinted on you in the most adorable way. You reward him for such devotion by treating him basically like you do all your stuffed animals. You tug at him, pull at him, jump on him, smash your face into him. If you could, you'd probably pick him up and toss him around a little. I regularly remind you that Wilson is indeed a living being with actual feelings, emotional and physical, but you prefer to see him as a lifeform whose sole existence is for your personal amusement. You do tell him often how much you love him and that he is your best friend. It's just enough to keep him coming back for more day after day after day. God bless this creature and all he tolerates in the name of loving you.

You Really Do Love All Animals: I mean, Wils gets top billing, but if there's a petting zoo within sight, a neighbor walking his dog, or a feral raccoon scrounging around a nearby Dumpster, WATCH OUT. You will do anything to pet them, snuggle them, name them, and pretty much claim them as your own. You've ridden a pony exactly twice in your life. The first time you did it, you hopped on the saddle like you'd been winning rodeo competitions your entire childhood. Sometimes, though, this love gets you into the occasional sticky situation. Once, we were in a very crowded petting zoo and I was holding your hand, guiding you through it. I stopped short when I felt you lagging behind and, still pressing forward, I gave your arm a yank and said, "Come on, Lib!" only to turn around and realize a cow had walked between us and I was smacking you into its backside over and over. The mom next to me LOST HER MIND and I couldn't help but join her in her laughter. I mean, some days are good days. Some days, you hurl your kid into the backside of a cow. It happens. 

"Friends": You started going to daycare this year at the church, and you LOVE it. You must turn on that signature Libby Charm when you're there because everyone who runs it LOVES you right back. (Did I mention you're super charming? I know all parents probably say that about their kids, but I don't know many others who, on two separate occasions, have had complete strangers walk up to them and  HAND THEM  MONEY simply because they are far too cute to go unpaid for being that damn adorable in public. Your father keeps trying to get me to take you on auditions for commercials. I mean, you've already pulled in $4 doing exactly nothing, so he might be on to something there).

I mean, come on. Whatever you're selling, I'm buying. 

I digress. You call daycare "Friends" and you get so excited when it's time to go. Before we started taking you there, I was sick, panicking about how much you'd miss me when I dropped you off. The first time, I only left you there for an hour and sat at the library across the street in case they called me back to reclaim my hysterical, homesick child. You have never, ever cared for one minute about me not being there. In fact, I don't know that my existence even registers to you once we enter the daycare room. At first, I'd wait awkwardly by the front desk, calling your name and waving like a passenger on the Titanic as you bolted off to grab a toy or join another toddler already playing. Now, I just sign you in and know I won't talk to you again until you're back in the car nagging me for a snack on the way home.

Hold On!: Sometimes, for reasons neither Daddy nor I can discern, you talk in this super nasally, borderline creaky weird whine/talk thing that we can only describe as Kardashian Voice. You don't do it super often, but it comes out most when you're playing a game with Dad you've dubbed Hold On! We'll all be sitting around, and suddenly, Kim Kardashian is in our living room telling Dad to "hold aaaaaaan," and you'll jump on his back and demand that he piggyback you around the room. It's super cute and we laugh every time. I just hope that laughter isn't reinforcing the idea that that voice is OK to use anywhere but in the privacy of your own home.

Big Sister: This is probably the biggest thing going on in your life right now, and honestly, I'm not 100 percent sure you even know it's happening. In about two months, you're going to become a big sister. You know something's up. You see my belly getting bigger, and you know that sometimes the baby kicks in my tummy. You'll say, "I'm the big sister!" every once in a while. Still, I'm not entirely convinced you know what that means. But the good news is this: I know in my heart of hearts you are going to be the most amazing big sister any little brother could ever ask for. I know you're going to love this baby more than you'll be able to tell us, and I know you're going to teach him how to be just the best kid God ever put on this earth. You'll show him how to be fun, sweet, caring, goofy, smart, and, more important than all those other things, kind. Because you are all of that. He will watch you and learn from your extraordinary example, and I feel so blessed every day that Dad and I have you around to help him learn and grow.

Our family is growing, and as it does, so will my already-consuming love for you. I can't wait to see where this journey takes us. Just know that wherever it leads, we're going together.



Thursday, October 26, 2017

Oh boy!

I was busy making googly eyes at the little creature on the computer screen in front of me when the ultrasound technician furrowed her brow and shook her head. 

"You're how far along?" she asked, peering closer as the image swam in and out of view.

"Twelve weeks," I said not taking my eyes off it as to not miss a single movement. 

"'re at least 15. Probably closer to 16," she said.

Huh. "OK," I said, thinking that made no difference to me. I soon learned that was not entirely true. 

"Because you're further along, I can tell you the sex," she said grinning. 

Well, that changed things. "TELL ME!" I said. 

"Are you sure?" she asked.

"TELL ME!" I repeated. 

"Well, see those?" she said, pointing to two long lines on the screen. "Those are legs. And that in the middle..."

"A boy!" I said, a shocked smile overtaking my face. 

"A boy," she nodded. 

It's official - Justin, Libby, Wilson and I will be welcoming a baby boy into our family on or around April 19. We're excited and overjoyed and nervous and happy and just feeling really lucky that we get to do this again. 

I'm not entirely surprised at the sex as this pregnancy has been so completely opposite of what I experienced with Lib. When I was pregnant with her, I felt so Earth Mother goddess glowy, I remember thinking, "What's the big fuss about? This is awesome! Look at my nails! Look at my boobs! I've never had either before! This rocks!"

This time, on my best days, I look recently exhumed. On the bad days, I avoid reflective surfaces altogether. I feel like I've been hit by a garbage truck, then scooped up by said truck, taken to the dump, and am barreling toward the fiery incineration pit, Toy Story 3-style. Like the characters, I've accepted my fate, only I'm actually kind of looking forward to my imminent demise. 

Every single person I told this prior to knowing the sex responded with, "Oooo! I bet it's a boy!"* Based on the way I feel, I just hope it's human and not something sent from an evil realm to destroy all mankind. 

*I guess boys make you sick? Well, technically, a boy did do this to me, so it's not completely wrong. 

I'm told this phase will pass, and I'm already starting to feel a little better. What won't pass, I'm coming to realize, is the incessant reminder that I really should not have even considered conceiving again in my decrepit state. "Advanced Maternal Age" is a term I'm becoming quite familiar with, as every time I do anything at the doctor's office - go in for a routine check-up, have any test done, blink - I'm reminded that I am SO OLD OMG and probably should have thrown in the towel on this whole motherhood business the instant I became legally able to drink. 

I'm 36. I had Libby when I was 33. Apparently, those three years mean the difference between super-normal-nothing-to-worry-about pregnancy and EVERYTHING YOU DO WILL RESULT IN DISASTER pregnancy. I get it. I do. And of course, better safe than sorry, but the whole thing just gets a little old (ha!) after a while. 

We have told Libby she's getting a sibling, but she's 2, so her understanding of what's happening is pretty much limited to "Mama's tummy hurts." One night, we were cuddling on the couch when a giant wave of nausea hit me. I knew I was going to hurl and didn't want to scare her, so I told her, in the calmest voice I could muster, to go get daddy, who was downstairs. She tore off, barreling through the house, screeching, "DADDY!!!!! SHE'S HURT!!!!!" at the top of her little lungs. Justin bolted upstairs, thinking I had been violently murdered only to find me green-faced and clawing my way to the bathroom. I felt terrible for having upset her, but at least I know the kid can hold her own in emergencies. 

So yes, this time is around is different in many ways from the first, but despite the entire preceding, I'm not really complaining. I'm so excited and happy to get to do this again, and I can't wait to see what this child is like. Super outgoing and life-of-the-party like Lib (and her dad)? More reserved and quiet (like me)? Horned and fanged, as to better annihilate all who stand in the path of its demonic rage (as I suspect)? Kidding! Regardless of all of it, I just can't wait to meet him. Because if how I feel about this one is any indication, we have a love like I've never known in our future.

Monday, March 13, 2017

I Think They Like Each Other...

For some time, I'd been thinking it was bordering on child abuse that Justin and I had not gotten Libby a dog yet. She's slightly in love with puppies. All of them. As some of you may remember, her first word was "puppy," and she stills talks about them nonstop. It was time.

So a few weeks ago, we grew our little family by one when we brought home Wilson, a border collie lab mix who we met thanks to the great folks at Pet Search. He's a total love bug, super affectionate and cuddly, playful, friendly and just overall a really great dog.

And as anticipated, Libby kind of likes him.

I think he likes her too. Mission accomplished.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

It's the Oscars! And we're here to talk fashion and politics. Except, forget politics! 

A h, awards season. It never disappoints, even when the red carpet styles...well, disappoint. That's part of the fun! My bestie Jason and I let you all into our awards show viewing circle with the Grammys a few weeks back. You seemed to like it, so come along with us as we recap the most important awards show of the season, complete with our most important comments! It's the 2017 Academy Awards!   

Jason on Octavia Spencer: Look how awesome she looks!...(camera pans down)...Oh. How many Muppets had to die for that?"

Jason on Brie Larson: That. That's architecture.

Jason: Jessica Biel looks like someone took an Oscar, kicked it down the stairs and made a dress. (For what it's worth, Rachel: YOU ARE SO RIGHT.)

Red carpet interviewer on Casey Affleck: Look who I found on the stairs! 
Rachel: On the stairs? Or under them? 

Rachel: Keith Urban's hair never changes. And I don't mean he never changes styles. I mean his individual hairs NEVER EVER move. EVER.

Rachel: I feel like Janelle Monae's stylist is playing a practical joke on all of us.

Jason: What is that, Leslie Mann?
Rachel: Asked and answered.

 An aside, by both of us, as The Rock comes on stage: Velour. *GIANT SIGH* OK Fine.

Another aside, as Lin-Manuel Miranda comes out to rap-speak about "Moana": We love Lin. EVERYONE LOVES LIN. But does this feel a smidge like a push for him to get a PEGOT. Yes, of course, he deserves it but...OK fine.

 All of us, as they played Viola Davis off: Was that.... "The Heat Is On." I mean, Sure!

General observation: What is up with the wrist-to-wrist clap all the A-listers are doing? And why?

Becca, Jason's wife, as they announce the nominees for Best Animated Film: I feel like a turtle is nominated every year.

General impressions:

Dakota Johnson: Horrid

Nicole Kidman: Perfection, finally.

Taraji P. Henson: SO GOOD. Also, finally.

Emma Stone: Neck up, flawless. Neck to waist, boring. Waist to floor, LOVE.

Last Word:

Jason's Fav: Brie Larson (see above). "I like the architecture of that dress. I thought it was classically different. In that it was classic, but something we haven't seen before."

Rachel's Fav: Shockingly, for the first time ever because usually I can't stand any of her red carpet looks: Nicole Kidman!

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Hello from the outside. It's the 59th annual Grammys! And we have tulle! 

My bestie Jason and I love awards shows. LOVE them. We watch every single one, even the less watercooler fodder-worthy ones (I'm looking at you, Tonys and SAG awards) and seriously look forward to every minute. Our favorite thing to do is to watch them together, then call each other the next day and recap, complete with our own best and worst dressed list and a thorough analysis of each acceptance speech, red carpet interview gaffes and everything in between. 

I decided this time, we'd keep track of our more noteworthy observations and share them here because honestly, what we think really matters and we're very important, informed people. Also, SIKE! I decided to do it because...funsies! 

So, have some fun with us, understand we take this entire thing with the world's largest grain of salt and let's get to werk, werk, werk, werr werr! 

After James Corden's raptastic opening, Rachel: "I hope Lin Manuel-Miranda made royalties off that."

Jason, on JLo's dress: "Do you think the designer just said, 'So I have this leftover tulle....(crumples it up and chucks it at the shoulder). That'll do.'"

Rachel" "Even Carrie Underwood can't stop this Keith Urban song from sounding like every Keith Urban song."

Rachel: "Is Seacrest wearing an outfit I don't like for the first time ever?" Jason: "(Significant pause) Taupe velour. That's rough."

Rachel on Tina Knowles' intro of Beyonce: "I am blessed to have daughter. DAUGHTERS! Daughters."

Rachel, after five minutes of Beyonce's epic ode to motherhood intro: "How hard would you die if she came out and sang 'Single Ladies' right now?"

Jason, on Beyonce: "So, we have this tulle...."

Rachel on Maren Morris' dress: "I would love that dress if it was more...dress. More dress." Jason: "She clearly won't be wearing that dress to her church."

Jason, watching the Bruno Mars performance: "This song makes me want to go shake my ass at the club. WE SHOULD DO THAT! We should go be those people at the club this summer." Rachel: "We are 35 years old. NO WE SHOULD NOT."

Rachel: "I would buy an entire album of Little Big Town covering Katy Perry songs." *I really would. Let's make this happen, people!*

Jason: "3M stock just went up with the amount of double-sided tape that's holding these girls into their outfits."

Jason on Adele: "You have to love her. She is the most flawed flawless vocalist out there." #truth

Jason on Taraji P. Henson's dress: "What. Why? She has thunderbolts coming out of her tits."

During the Bee Gees tribute, Rachel: "How hard do you want Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake to come out right now and do 'The Barry Gibb Talk Show?'"

As Celine comes out to "My Hear Will Go On," both of us, in unison: "Really? Still??!?"

Jason, upon seeing Solange: "So we have this tulle...."

After we both looked up info on The Time during the Prince tribute, Jason: "It says here they produced all of Janet Jackson's successful albums." Rachel: "Did they really have to throw 'successful' in there. I mean, burn."

Rachel: "Oh, hey, Rihanna. So we have this tulle."