Dear Honey Collins,
I saw your photo spread in Design New England and though I imagine I’m not the first to drool over those photos, I may offer a unique and challenging opportunity. I noticed that you did not feature any “before” photos. Perhaps they were not dramatic enough. Let me offer this.
Imagine the accolades you could receive for overhauling my 4-year-old’s designs!
Is this what Saturday morning looks like in all parent’s homes?
When you learn you’re pregnant, you’re excited. (Well, except if I learned that I’m pregnant now, in which case I would shriek in horror. But back to the good stuff.) When you learn some of your favorite people will have a baby around the same time, you’re ecstatic! Five years ago before Ally was born, I dreamed of the day when she would play with Mark and Emily’s son and how we would have so much fun together. But of course our early visits involved less play and more forced space sharing– look! Babies in side-by-side bumbo seats!–and later, lots of toy grabbing and shrieking. It was hard to imagine a moment when Ally and Efram would enjoy each other’s company.
Not only do Efram and Ally apparently adore each other’s company, but he likes Mandy, too. We enjoyed a weekend filled with giggles and playing and it was wonderful.
As different as they are, they genuinely enjoyed each other’s company– and two active preschoolers happy to play together means time for their parents to also enjoy each other’s company, and that’s wonderful too. We enjoyed a trip to Port Discovery and unhealthy carryout and video games and a drink or two, and Emily and I may have succumbed to watching a certain favorite movie. A great weekend for all of us!
You have just turned two years old, and I have to tell you that you have our family and likely this world wrapped around those bouncing curls. Your smile lights our home and my world and I’m embarrassed of what I will do to inspire it. Especially if pictures are involved! I am stunned by your gentleness, by the way you shower people with affection. A trip to the grocery store with you involves sharing your “pageant wave” with all the other people. Church service means hugging strangers. And a trip to the doctor’s transforms into an opportunity to crawl into the doctor’s lap. One of your personality traits that continues to surprise me is your ability to play independently and your interest in toys. You happily entertain yourself in a way I didn’t think was possible. I’m not sure if this trait is related to your personality or birth order but, really, it’s quite pleasant. Your favorite toys are the climber/slide in our basement, play doh, and a new weeble wooble set you received on your birthday. You love to take showers and to chase and run with your sister, especially if balloons are involved. And of course you adore our cats, for whom you reserve a special ear-piercing squeal that causes them to flee as quickly as they can.
Your second year has brought big changes in your eating habits and, at last, you’re eating a normal diet with us. Sure, you don’t like bread. Or vegetables or fruit or cheese. But you will sit at the table and eat pizza or spaghetti or chicken (that’s not in nugget form! Hallelujah!) and there are times when your palate is easier to please than your sister’s, so we don’t really think of you as a picky eater any longer. You have a real sweet tooth and love chocolate and sweet things of pretty much any type. A few weeks ago you left bottles behind, and though we miss our morning snuggle it is wonderful to see you graduate beyond that last vestige of babyhood.
Of course you are two, so you can say no as well as your peers. I’m not sure why it bothers me so little– perhaps because, when placed in comparison to the defiance of a preschooler we know, your no seems laughable and easily overcome. More interesting are the words you’re stringing together, phrases like Mommy go hide and I want cupcake. Talking with you is novel and sweet, if at times rather cryptic!
Your Gram asked me if your birthday was bittersweet. And I responded with a confident, unequivocal no. I love this moment with you and each month that passes seems to make us happier as a family– more relaxed now that the baby days have passed and you are sturdier. In the coming months we’ll move you out of your crib, bid a fond farewell to your pacifier, and even leave diapers behind. No bitterness at all– just our sweet Mandy.
Bellyaching aside, when the snow finally did appear last week in its two to three inches of white glory, the girls were ecstatic! Ally couldn’t wait to play outside and Mandy, who was so hesitant about snow just a few weeks ago, couldn’t wait to jump into her inflatable froggie sled. She still refuses to walk in the snow, but she can bark a good “Mommy!! Pull sled!!” command!
For the first time Ally was able to go down a hill on her own, though a good push at the top sure did help.
I really hope we get a little more snow this winter. But just a little, no more repeats of last year’s February, please!
Today the forecast called for a whopping 2 inches of snow that was expected to begin around 4:00.
So schools closed two hours early… and, as things turned out, a good six hours before the first flake fell.
This past Monday there was a forecast for flurries in the morning.
So schools opened two hours early.
There was no snow.
I understand that schools don’t exist for the convenience of parents. And I understand that the safety of students is important. But these closings feel like predictions of our future that make my stomach sink and my ire rise. Juggling work schedules and school commitments and sick days and check ups and weird school holidays and then snow days too– phew! Ally’s preschool and our day care do not follow the public school schedule, so we have been shielded from the more ridiculous weather-related closings so far. Next year, not so much.
Nevertheless the girls were in a snowy sort of mood, so we pulled our inflatable sled around the carpet, the pile of which is, notably, deeper than the snow. The snow that caused schools to close.
You can also see here Mandy’s post-haircut ‘do (there ya go, Mark!). I know, it doesn’t look that different with the sprout. But really it is a lot shorter!
How to excite two girls to speechlessness? Promise them a trip to Chuck E Cheese! Ally selected a special ensemble for the occasion.
That’s the carrot, or course. The stick? Mandy’s first hair cut. Though we always restrain her hair in one way or another, its crazy uneven curls needed some taming, so we headed to a special kid-focused salon for a trim. This place was great! The waiting areas were large, spacious, and stocked with lots of quality toys.
Instead of traditional chairs, the salon has little rocket ships and cars. Mandy was very happy to strap in and start driving her fire truck.
The salon also paints nails, so Ally was able to participate in the fun since her hair received a trim recently.
And then, Chuck E Cheese! Even if it’s not my favorite place in the world, it was so much fun to bask in their excitement. They were both so happy. I love reaching the point when Mandy can enjoy these activities as much as Ally.
In the past month, Ally has at long last stopped napping regularly. She will still take one or two each week, but during our time at home between Christmas and New Year’s she spent the hours between 1 and 3 doing crafts, cooking with me, or amusing herself. She loved doing experiments in her new science kit.
When bedtime rolled around she was so tired that she was asleep immediately! After a summer of bedtime battles I can’t say how exciting it is to say ‘good night’ and then hear… well… nothing.
And then, today… my baby, my BABY, she slept on a nap mat at day care!
Look at her little head on the little pillow! And the way her sprout curls on top! And her itty bitty little fingers! Mandy has been going through a lot of changes lately. She’s stringing more words together into sentences like “No Mommy I don’t want that” and has developed a charming shriek reserved for our cats. Her second birthday is right around the corner and I want to hold her just a moment longer right here, at this moment when her greatest joy is a piggy back ride.