Sunday, July 27, 2014

Jack is TWO!

Dear Quackers,

Happy birthday! You are two years old today.

Every year (ok, both years so far) as your birthday approaches, I think back to that awesome day when your mom and dad told us that they were going to have a baby. I know just where I was standing in the living room at your house, and just the way your dad laughed when I couldn’t figure out what they were talking about.

It’s hard to believe that it’s been more than two years since that day, but—just like I wrote to you last year—I don’t remember life without you. 

The funniest thing ever is watching you play the guitar. At first your eyes are wide open and then the minute your finger hits the strings, you screw your face up into a perfect mock grimace, and roll your head all around, just feeling the music. Then when you’re done, you open up your eyes and act all normal, as though you weren’t just channeling some long gone rock god.

You love music class and your teacher, Lenka. I have seen countless videos of you sitting on Lenka’s lap during a song. Always you, even though there are many other kids in the class. Lenka tells me that you two have a thing for each other. This much is evident. And the best part is that after you beeline for her and settle in, you stare at everyone else impassively and barely react to the actual song. But when it’s time to dance with scarves or other props, you bring out your finest moves.

I love when you come to our house for family dinner or any other visit. You bounce up and down and smile like crazy, wave your arms, laugh, and say hi in your throaty little voice. “Hi, Dout! Hi Ra Ra! Hi Rob!” It is impossible not to smile when you’re around. You are very independent and good at entertaining yourself, and you're not afraid to stick up for yourself if Scout is giving you a hard time. Sometimes the two of you just play quietly in her room with puzzles or books or cook together in the kitchen. 

You will still walk up to any strange man and raise your arms to be held. I’ve seen it again and again. I had a friend over recently, a guy you’ve never met before. You ran into my house for a visit, went straight past me and directly into his arms. Of course, he was utterly charmed. 

There is so much sweetness in you, always. But you are obviously a toddler, quite expressive and opinionated. You revel in telling us all NO, or giving us a withering look to show that you are the one in charge and we are tiresome. A quick game of peekaboo often has you smiling again.

You are really super coordinated and love to throw or kick a ball, and to ride your scooter. It's so much fun to see you run and jump, and to think about the very recent days when you couldn’t get both feet all the way off the ground. Now you can do so many things.

Sometimes you will climb up and ride around on my wheelchair with me. I hold you tight and we zoom around while you wave to everybody. And I sneak lots of kisses from your chubby cheeks, because you are my very favorite boy.

Ra Ra

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Friday, June 20, 2014

Grandi Girl

Dear Scarlett,
Yesterday was your last day of school. You were in the Grandi class at La Scuola this year, the second year of preschool. In August, you will be in Grandissimi. We keep talking about "next year" at school, as though it isn't a mere two months away. And you will be attending two different camps this summer, two weeks at Children's Day School, where they have a little farm with chickens, and four weeks back at La Scuola, where they will focus on music, science, art and cooking.

When we said goodbye to the teachers at school, some of them were sad (Suela and Betta, specifically, because they won't be back next year.) Some of the parents were sad, too, since they feel like their kids are growing so fast. It's hard for us all to believe that you will be the big kids next year, when we still see you as our babies.

You have been cracking me up lately. Pops was here this week and he was determined to play catch with you, even though you have zero interest in that activity. We went to the park and you two tossed a tennis ball around for approximately 38 seconds, after which Pops came up to me and said, "Catch is over, because she's taken the ball over to those trees to find it some more magic powers." Yes, that sounds about right.

Even if catch is not your thing at the moment, you are a physical kid. You've started taking Hapkido classes, and I basically laugh the whole time as you and your squat little friends yell, "Yes sir! Thank you sir!" at your teacher, while wearing fabulous white uniforms.

You've also become quite the chef. Your specialty is spinach quiche, a recipe that you have adjusted slightly each time, not--I don't think--in an effort to improve the result, but because it is so much fun to crack eggs and add cheese to things (like your mouth.) Despite this culinary development, your favorite food still seems to be chicken nuggets. Or maybe it's ketchup, but either way, nuggets are involved.

You and I read James and the Giant Peach last month, which was really fun. I thought it might be kind of scary and/or boring for a 4-year-old, but we read 40+ pages at a time, and you never wanted to stop. We then read Henry and Ribsy, and we're overdue to get to the library for some more chapter books. Your love of books seems to equal your love of TV (Team Umizoomi and Octonauts) and movies (Frozen, Alice in Wonderland, Up, and Tinkerbell.)

It is your opinion that you should get to watch videos every day. Dad was in France all week, and we were so happy to see him when he got home yesterday afternoon. You hugged him tightly, then turned to me and said, "Time for videos?"

We've been in our new house for 4 months, and it is truly awesome. I love waking up here, love spending my days looking at the ocean and listening to music outside with you. The only problem is that we've had mosquitoes, and they have brutally attacked your cheeks in the night. I think we've figured out some solutions, but you might want to consider taking your face into the woods to get it some magic powers.


Friday, May 9, 2014

May Updates

Dear Scarlett,
Last weekend we were in Los Angeles to hear Uncle Rob's band ScreamCreature open for O.A.R at The Troubadour. It was amazing, and I wish that you could have been there to see your "Runcle" on stage in front of hundreds of people, rocking like the rockstar that he is. Instead you were at the hotel, trying to convince the babysitter that it was ok for you and Jack to watch a TV show. Dubious about your claims, she texted Shishie, who told her that no, it was not ok. NICE TRY.

We had a great time on our trip, going out for brunch and hanging poolside during the day. I was not a big fan of LA when I first traveled there for work, but when Rob and Shishie moved there, I started to like it a lot more. It was fun to be back, even for a quick trip, especially because the plane ride was so short and manageable. It was the first time I'd ever traveled with a wheelchair and I was a little nervous about how everything would work out. But it turns out that the airport people are way better at handling a woman in a wheelchair than they ever were at figuring out how to deal with me and my walker. Sometimes they treated me like they thought I was practicing for a part in a play instead of actually struggling with mobility. So it ended up being a very successful trip on all counts, as I'm sure you agreed from your window seat, where you watched Dora and ate snacks.

This month you started taking a martial arts class called Hapkido with a group of boys from your class. "Is me going to be the only girl again?" you asked yesterday as we rolled from school down the street to the studio. You've become very aware of dynamics like this, and have been refusing to get in the pool at swim class, because the other girls haven't been showing up, leaving you the only swimmer. This bothers you immensely, my little social butterfly.

Hanging out with my friend Sarah last night, I had an epiphany that someday you're going to need to write a memoir to try to work out everything you went through with your sick mom who shared a ton of personal information about you on the Internet. And that memoir will be called "Watch Out for the Wine Glass." It's not the sentence you necessarily hear the most in our house (I'm thinking "I love you" or "Why aren't you wearing pants" are uttered at slightly higher frequency), but I'd be lying if I said you didn't hear that one quite a bit. So, there you go. I've titled your memoir. Be kind to me in it.

I love you,

Monday, May 5, 2014

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

London Bridge

Dear Scarlett,
At some point early in the year, we were reading one of your National Geographic Kids books (thanks, John Lalor!), and you discovered the fun fact that the London Bridge of falling down fame is now located in Arizona. This prompted a short discussion of the location of the United States in relation to England, and a much, much longer discussion of whether or not the London Bridge actually fell down.

It did not. We looked it up on Wikipedia (source of all truths) and discovered that the bridge was taken down when it looked like it was not going to hold up to all that traffic in the 1800s. This, in turn, sparked an art project.

And a continuing obsession with EVERY VERSION of EVERY SONG containing the words London Bridge. This includes many lullabies and nursery rhymes, but does not stop there. Fergie has a song called London Bridge. It contains a parental advisory warning. A band called Mindless Self Indulgence has a song called London Bridge. It contains a parental advisory warning. You refuse to heed these warnings.

I do realize, given that they are parental warnings, that I am the one who's supposed to enforce them. But I figure this is a decent lesson in music genres. You also like a country version, a "Dora" version, and a really lovely one by the Slovak pop singer Miro Zbirka.

Last week, we took a spring break road trip to Indian Wells, California. During one leg of our car ride, you sang London Bridge so loudly that Dad and I could do nothing but look at each other and laugh. You had a fabulous time going down the water slide at our hotel, and screamed random words as you came down each time. "DORA THE EXPLORAH!" seemed to be your favorite. "I love how much fun she's having," one lifeguard observed.

You were on a fry and ice cream diet by the pool, which was fine with me and Dad, because we were on a margarita diet. A good time was had by all, but we also all discussed how excited we were to get home and be in our new house.

"I miss my bed," you said.

"I miss the deck," I said.

"I miss the floor," you said.

Vacation seemed to continue when we got home, since the weather in SF has been awesome. The grill is set up, and Dad has immediately taken to his new role of Grillmaster. Last night over burgers, you requested background music. Guess what it was?


Thursday, March 27, 2014

Birthday Girl

Thanks to Darren for the amazing photos!