Saturday, January 24, 2015

Hello Bobby

They say you know that baby is bound to arrive any day when you feel a strong nesting impulse kick in. Perhaps because I neglected the urge to bake nut rolls, cook piles of freezer bound goulash, and clean the house from top to bottom this week, I had no sense of when baby #2 would actually make his appearance.

The efforts I did make were less focused on the place we live, but on the people who live it. I made sure Mommy and Daddy got enough sleep. And I took a stab at transitioning big sister from a toddler to a little girl. We tried out her big girl bed, we've been attempting the potty, and I've been bartering away the bottle. She's learned the words patient, and frustration, and gentle, gentle, GENTLE! But unfortunately, she's still sleeping in baby's crib, drinking milk out of baby's bottle, and cramping the space in baby's diaper drawer with her own.

Regardless, when you surprised us by coming into the world yesterday, we were ready for you. 100%. Our loving embrace couldn't have been more eager to snuggle you away from the cold Chicago winter. And along with the camera, which was packed in my hospital bag for the past couple days, I brought a placeholder bedtime book to help reinterpret your birth story.

Good Afternoon Bobby
Loosely based on Goodnight Moon 

In Mommy and Daddy's blue room.
At 1:30 AM, Mommy broke her tummy's water balloon.
And she woke up Daddy to go vroom vroom!
And your sister was sleeping, sound in her bed.
And Mimi was on her way to watch her in our stead.

At the hospital, I was introduced to the delivery room
Where there was a nurse named Martha
And a Dr. named Schied.
And sweet thoughts of your welcome to the world cries.
I laid there waiting for the regular pains to commence.
Schied said we'd be there all day, so they gave me 'pid' to hop the fence.
And then they came. Oh, how they came fast.
And Mommy called for them to bring her relief at last.
Dr. Johnson took his merry old time. But at last he made it.
A prod and pinch later, labor became easy with his cool kit.
I still shivered. I still grasped the bed in pain.
But in comparison to your sister, I stayed perfectly sane.
Before long, it was time to push.
Dr. Halperin told me to do it from my tush.

You were born at lunchtime. 12:41 PM to be exact.
Weighing a whopping 6 pounds, 7 ounces.
Measuring 20.5 inches long.
The sun is coming out. It's a chilly, Chicago day.
So I won't say goodnight, I'll say hello if I may.
Hello Mommy.
Hello Daddy.
Hello Drs. and Nurses.
Hello food. And warm bed.
Hello to TWO Opas.
Hello Mimi and Nana.
Hello Eva.
And Mary.
Hello possibilities, hopes and dreams.
Hello World.
Meet my little Bobby.
I couldn't love you anymore, sweet little boy.

Lo /  Mommy.

Friday, January 16, 2015


The other day, Peter, Mary and I were walking to the park. The top of a pine cone was sticking out of the snow. Peter picked it up and gave it to Mary.
"Do you know what this is?" Peter asked.
"Yeah!" (Her typical confident response.)
"It's a pine cone."
"Yeah. Mine cone."
"No, PINE cone. With a P."
"Mine cone."
She grabbed it and walked on.

In relatively recent news, Mary learned the word mine. Over the past couple months, she has been polishing an understanding of the possessive and with it commenced bold negotiations to claim everything in sight.

On a daily basis, Mary takes pride defining just what is Mary's.
Mary's boots. 
Mary's bed. 
Mary's book. 
Mary's potty.

And in contrast, what is Mommy's. Or Daddy's. Or Goofy's for that matter.
Mommy's boots. 
Mommy's bed.
Mommy's book.   
Mommy's potty. 

But sometimes she oversteps her bounds. Say, when I bring home presents for Bobby from my co-workers.
My piggy. 
No, that's Bobby's piggy bank. 
No mine. I hold it. 
No honey, you can't. It's breakable. 
Piggy needs to go back in the box. 
No mine. 
Bye bye, Piggy. 

Or say, when Peter comes home, looking for a kiss from his obliging wife, and Mary runs over to break up the embrace.
"No mine," she says.
"Yours?," I say taken aback. "I'm not yours, honey ... I'm Daddy's too." 

As any parent of a toddler can attest, delivering an education on yours, mine and ours can be challenging. And if you're like me, you dread the first time your child uses the word 'mine' in front of her peers, pushing another little boy away from the monkey on the mural at the public library, laying claim to the place she likes to sit and read. I'm told it's a phase and part of her development and it takes time; that talking through the concept of sharing and taking turns and other kids getting in your space will eventually make the over aggressive possessive disappear. But I'm getting a little anxious.

The problem is, it's crunch time in our household. In just a couple weeks, Mary will need to take turns in a way that she has never experienced before. And I don't mean with her toys; I mean with me. Sure, she's familiar sharing me with work, and the stove, and the running trail, but generally speaking when I'm home, I'm hers. And I have to say, I'm already starting to feel bad; I already feel like there won't be enough of me to go around.

I'm afraid that I'm going to have to postpone doughnut dates, that Minnie and Goofy will go mute, that snowmen won't get built in a timely fashion, and that I won't be there in time to give a hug or dry a tear.
Mary at BBs
Mary and snowman
So we've been practicing: the word patient, the concept of frustration, and other people jumping in when a very pregnant Mommy needs a break. At this point, I'm telling myself that it will all work out, and that my big baby will quickly mature into my little helper, eager to share her world with her little brother. But nonetheless, I want her to know that even though at first it might feel like Mommy is a shared commodity, my heart and my calendar will always have a special place just for Mary. I want her to know that my love for her is endless. And I want her to know that she will always be mine as I will always be hers.


Monday, January 5, 2015

Back to Work

This morning, Mary came downstairs, peaked into the sun room and said with alarm, 'party all gone!' After I started explaining that our Christmas Tree had to return to the North Pole, I realized she was talking about her new tea party set, which I had packed up and put in her room last night. I told her that she could go have her party upstairs and up she went.

Her omen was true though; the party had ended as of this morning. When I woke up, the house seemed quieter, cleaner, and colder than it's been in a while. Partially, because last night another arctic blast descended on Chicagoland and our prewar insulation doesn't fare well against temperatures hovering in the negative digits. But mostly, because the soft glow and verdant warmth from our Christmas tree are gone, along with all the other Christmas decorations, music, books, cookies, and parties.

Looking out the window, I could see it was a sad morning across the neighborhood. Trees once loved and trimmed with shiny ornaments, twinkling lights, and cascading amounts of presents under them were at the curb. Bare, chilled, and alone. It inevitably made me a little teary.

Beyond just a religious celebration, Christmas and all that it brings to a household seem to symbolize the culmination of one year and the transition to another. You blow out one and ring in the other gilded in grandeur.

My grandma used to say that whatever you do in the New Year, will follow you through the remainder of it. So naturally, I took her counsel to heart, and put my best foot forward. I cooked and baked. I nearly reached senior status with the amount of times I went to Church. I read and relaxed and answered the call to 'Mommy, play' as much as possible. I celebrated with family. Again and again. I welcomed friends to partake in a hunk of good luck twisted into the shape of a pretzel. We took Mary to museums, went sledding, dressed up, danced, and found one more reason to throw a party with Christmas as the backdrop.
New Years Pretzel Inside
Mary at the Art Institute

Mary Sledding
The one thing I didn't do throughout my holiday staycation, was think about work. Until last night as I tried to ease the transition back to burger land by getting my creative juices flowing on the griddle once again. I smashed chuck; cooked it on steel; stacked it up per Jamie Oliver's recipe; and bit into one of the reasons I love my job.
After my somber parade of abandoned Christmas Trees / commute to work, it took me all of one hour to get out of my seasonal fog and back into business today. And it completed my stellar start to 2015, affirming my resolution or rather ongoing solution for finding happiness in life: balance - between work, play, parties, and being the best mom and wife I can be.  


Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Top Ten 2014

Yesterday, Mary and I were recounting our trip to the Museum of Science and Industry last weekend. We had seen the trains and the planes, we saw the submarine, we saw Mickey and Minnie.
'Baby. Chickens.'
'Baby. Chickens.'
'You're right! We saw chicks.'
'Yes, they were sleeping, honey.'

I couldn't believe it. She had an unprompted five-day old memory. Honestly, I don't know why I was surprised. Of course, her mind has been busy collecting and storing memories for a while now, but I guess I didn't realize that life was making individual impressions on Mary, untracked by my archives.

As I look back on another wonderful year this evening, I'm realizing that the moments, vacations, celebrations, meals, and events that made 2014 so special for our family, might not touch on Mary's top ten. Surely, she would identify the beaches and pools; first steps and first words; Eva; and a week of back to back Christmas parties. But I think she also would have included our local library and parks. Play dates with Grant, Audrey and Lillian. Somersaults, hula hoops, chalk, bubbles, songs and dances with Eva. Trains. And planes. And bike rides. Chocolate and gold fishes. The Wheels on the Bus. Gia, Miranda, Corduroy, Goofy, and all her furry friends. Stories, bottles, and getting extra hours of TLC from Mommy and Daddy no matter what the hour of the day (or night.)

There is no doubt that Mary and her first memories defined much of our year. The past 12 months have been cuter and sweeter, but also more challenging and exhausting because of it. And while Mary's favorite moments are likely wrapped up as proof points in mine, here is the more traditional top ten of the year, in no particular order.

10. I do's said by four beautiful, blushing brides.
Aug to Nov 2014 176
Bill and Tiere.6
9. Pool days. Followed by ice cream treats.
8. The Atlantic.
7. The Pacific.
6. A new job. And lots of fast(er) food.
5. Parties. And the visitors that they brought.
IMG_0429 4. Christmas through the eyes of a toddler.
3. The arrival of Mary Poppins and all of her magic.
2. Mary walking, talking, making life more beautiful ...
1. And learning that she'll soon be a big sister.
I'm feeling nothing but blessed as I sign off for the last time in 2014. And I'm feeling ready for all that 2015 will bring.