Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Happy Birthday, Uncle Tim!

We love you!

O Sweet, Miraculous Sticker Chart

Since we transitioned Hazel to a big girl bed a few weeks ago, we've had some pretty hairy nights. Mike and I reached the end of our joint rope last week, when Hazel had us both up from 2 to 5:30 a.m. On a whim, I introduced the concept of the sticker chart: stay in your bed all night, no funny business, and you put a sticker on the chart in the morning; five stickers, and you get to choose something really special to do. Hazel chose a visit to Chuck E. Cheese. This was five days ago, and we've all slept soundly since, so today's the big day. Congratulations, Hazel!

Tuesday, August 23, 2005


We've got two sick girls over here. Hazel started feeling bad on Saturday, and has had a low grade fever, no appetite and cranky pants since Sunday morning. Last night she had Mike up from 2:30 to 5. Violet woke up from her nap this afternoon screaming uncontrollably, then projectile vomited all over our bedroom. She seems O.K. now, but I've learned the hard way that where there's barf, there's... more barf. Yep, I called the doctor. She can't see us until tomorrow.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Movin' On Up - Lynch Style

Our dear, sweet, wonderful friends, the Lynchs, moved from San Mateo to Portland one week ago, today. They had been in the process of moving (packing, having goodbye dinners and parties, giving away their liquor and condiments, saying goodbyes) for a long time, but a week ago today, they finally, actually left.

Like so many before them, our friends are clearing out of Cali and moving up to where the land is cheap and the houses are big. I certainly don't begrudge them the golden opportunity to buy themselves a house - it is becoming increasingly ridiculous to even think about buying one here - but I wish they hadn't gone so far. These friends, this adorable family, were the warm, gooey center of our little tribe of friends. They've only been gone one week, and I know that all of us already feel their absence acutely. We'll survive without them, yes, but it won't be the same. And not just because we have to start organizing, hosting, baking, shopping and entertaining for ourselves now that Megan isn't here to do it all for us. :)

The Lynch family has played a huge part in our lives this last year. This family saved Mike and I from a boring, friendless life in the suburbs. Thanks to them, we have become part of a tribe of moms, dads and little girls that we love and value and consider our local family. They gave that to us; they invited us in and for that, and for a million other reasons, we love them.

I'm thinking of the Lynch family a lot these days. I'm thinking of how excited Starry and Charley will be to paint their new bedroom. I'm thinking of how much Starry is going to love preschool, and how well she'll adjust to it. I'm thinking of how Charley's vocabulary is going to explode this fall, and that the next time I see her, she'll be talking up a storm. I'm thinking of how well Chris will do at his new job, and the new friends everyone will make, and the new parks and museums and restaurants they'll explore. I'm thinking of how exciting it is to make a new house into a home, and how warm and welcoming Megan will make theirs.

Congratulations, Lynch family! We are so excited and happy for you. We can't wait to come and trash the new place. We love you guys so much.

A Tale of Two Three Month Olds

So different, and yet so much the same. That's Hazel on top, Violet on the bottom. The chubby cheeks and luscious lips are the same, but notice the differences in head shape, eye shape and noses. Genetics are a trip.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Milestone Alert!!

Violet rolled over today!

I put her on her belly on a blanket on the floor, and not only did she prop up on her elbows and hold her head and shoulders waaaaay high up, she then nonchalantly pushed off her right arm and just rolled right over to her back. It was so effortless, she made it look like she'd been doing it forever.

Go Violet! Go Violet! You rolled over! A'right!

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

The Cutest Nudist: A Lesson in Fashion

Hazel has reached the age at which what she's wearing is of maximum importance to her. Just look at her in that photo, so proud of the jim-jam shirt she's wearing with size 12 month shorts, Mickey Mouse socks and sandals. When she's not insisting on wearing her birthday suit, she has some pretty strong opinions about her clothing options, and voices them as such. She wanted to pick just the right thing to wear to help her Dada mow the lawn. I'm sure it goes without saying that, most of the time (again, take a look at the photo), she looks like a total dork. Super cute, but a dork nonetheless.

Why? Well, for one thing, she likes to wear Violet's clothes. Who knew that size 0-3 months pants could double as bike shorts for an almost 3 year old? Or that a size 3-6 months onesie could look so... interesting, layered over a bathing suit and paired with two different rainboots? Haze gets supremely pissed off when she can't wedge herself into Vi's newborn-sized dresses and tiny socks, yelling, wiggling and exhibiting distressing, supermodel-like behavior; suddenly I'm the mother of Naomi Campbell over here. She's much happier now that Violet's getting so chunky that she's moved up a couple sizes. The seasons are of little importance to Haze, so naturally, she has no sense of seasonal style, and doesn't understand why it's unwise to wear her 2 pound, fuzzy Winnie The Pooh costume on a 90 degree afternoon. Or why socks and sandals don't go really go together. She's cool with that, though - she thinks she's blazing a trail, and she grinned appreciatively when Patti complimented (wink, wink) her on her socks/sandals/sundress ensemble at the pool last week.

Pretty typical for Hazel's age group, I think, is the hard-edged insistance to have things a certain way that she's developed. There are some non-negotiable points of wardrobe etiquette that must be adhered to at all times, which are:

1. Socks must be worn with sandals, otherwise sandals are "sticky." Socks must also be worn at bedtime, no exceptions.
2. Socks must be kneesocks, no exceptions. If ankle socks are presented, they will be stretched way the hell up to her knees, so you better just give her the kneesocks, despite what the weather and common sense dictate.
3. Pants and/or shorts must be worn commando. Pants/shorts will be hiked up high and tight, past the bellybutton, ensuring lots of complaining about pants/shorts being in Hazel's crack. When underwear are suggested as a solution to the problem, Hazel will remind you of non-negotiable point number four:
4. Underwear are only for under dresses.
5. Above all else, except at bedtime/naptime, is the preference to be naked as the day she was born.

I estimate that Hazel is naked about 95% of the day, rain or shine, and 100% of the day if we aren't going anywhere. I think she thinks that clothes are just one big game and not, I don't know, things you actually need, like, in everyday life. Mike and I joke about sending her to a hippie nudist preschool in Santa Cruz, but being naked makes her so happy and puts her in such a good mood, that if such a thing existed, I'd really, honestly consider it. She is such a lovely shade of golden brown thanks to our vacation, and our two trips to the toddler pool last week. It would be such a shame to mar her lovely complexion with bathing suit lines or an icky farmer's tan. It really would.

Most of the time, I don't really care one way or the other - if Hazel wants to dress herself, fine. If she just wants to skip the clothes all together - fine. Of course there are those times when I must insist that she wear clothes. She likes to choose them, naturally, and I enjoy the completely crazy combinations she comes up with. To her credit, she does let me choose the outfits sometimes, too, and is really very congenial about it. She seems to instinctivly know that sometimes, a tutu over PJ pants, paired with Violet's cardigan and orange Mary Janes just isn't going to fly. But she also knows that when we get to our destination (if we're on a playdate that day), or when we get home (if we're just running errands), she can strip it all off and relax, as is her custom, au natural.

I wonder what age Hazel will be when this becomes faux pas? I can't even imagine a time when Hazel, the Cutest Nudist, will accept the fact that clothing can be a good, if not necessary, thing. Or any of the little girls in Hazel's group of best friends, for that matter. Will there really, truly, come a day when these girls outgrow running around naked, coloring on each other with markers and squealing with joy and mischief? Or when they'll want to go shopping for clothes that they 'have to have' because 'everyone has a (insert brand name article of clothing here)but me!'?? Are these girls going to be those girls?


Saturday, August 13, 2005

Misery Loves Company

Commiserating with my friends this week has been really theraputic for me. We are all pretty much at the end of our ropes with our toddler girls, all of whom, with one exception, are the same age. I'd been feeling really down on my parenting skills since I last posted, because I thought, really, musn't I be doing something wrong, if Hazel is so grouchy, grumpy and on edge all the time? But, in talking to my friends, all of whom I know to be excellent, patient, caring, attentive moms, I have found some much needed solace in the fact it's not just Hazel being a little monster; all of these girls are reaching the age and stage of testing boundries, pushing limits, and growing up.

I've been trying to put myself in Hazel's shoes this week. Imagine being old enough to know that you're not a baby anymore, but small enough to feel vulnerable in a world of grown ups and big kids. Imagine becoming conscience of the fact that you have free will, but unable to understand why you can't exercise it whenever you want to. Imagine being smart enough to know the rules, but not yet able to grasp why you have to follow them. It must be really hard, living in the grey area. No patience (or very little), no concept of time, no impluse control. I think Hazel's existential dilemma is compounded by the fact that there is a new baby in the house - a little interloper, in her eyes, here to impose herself on her parents limited supply on generosity and good humor. I am trying to be sympathetic to her plight, even when I think she's being unreasonable. It helps when I think about the fact that sometimes, especially when I'm frustrated, hungry, or tired, I can be unreasonable, too.

The other day at the toddler pool, my friend Sarah said that she'd read that the Terrible Twos actually start at 2 1/2 and last until 3 1/2. That sounds right on target to me. Countdown to 3 1/2: Nine months, and counting.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

2 year olds suck my wang.

That's what my friend Patti would say. I couldn't agree more.

Hazel wakes up whining. She has thrown at least one major tantrum, over something completely ridiculous, by noon, almost every day. Naptime, which became "rest" time thanks to the new big-girl bed that she knows I have no way of physically keeping her in, is a cruel joke. Throw in one or two more huge (we're talking 20 or 30 minutes) tantrums after "rest" time, constant and unapologetic rule breaking and whining, and you've just described my day.

People we know with three year olds swear that three is even worse than two. Honestly? I don't think that's possible. If it is, I don't think I'm going to make it.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Super Dada - Addendum

It occured to me that in acknowleging what a great dad Mike is, I have to acknowlege all the great dads we know. So here's a shout out to Shane, Chris, Dug, Juan, Dan G., Steve L., and all the dadas out there helping each other, loving their kids, and supporting their wives. You ALL rock!

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Super Dada

Mike comes home from his first job at 6:00, give or take a few minutes. At 6:01, give or take a few minutes, his second job begins - no downtime, no smooth transition, no bathroom break. The moment his car rolls into the driveway, The Hazel and Violet Show begins. Executive Producer: Mike Griffin.

Picture this: Hazel has no clothes on, naturally, and is likely covered in markers, stickers or paint, or a combination of all three; Violet is awake and has remembered that it's fussy time, formerly known as cocktail hour; it's hot; everyone is hungry, but no one wants to cook dinner; the house looks like a bomb went off and I look like crap because... well, because of the scenario I've layed out for you above. I immediately hand Violet over to Mike and start trolling for something to make for dinner, Zoe comes out of her afternoon hibernation spot to jump and bark and get rowdy now that the big dog's home, and Hazel is grasping and needy and hyper about something. In short, it's f***ing chaos.

And do you know what Mike does? He smiles. He kisses all of us! He's actually happy to be home, and his happiness immediately, blessedly, diffuses the tension hanging over the room full of girls who've been in each other's business since (on a good day) 7 o'clock that morning.

I don't say it often enough: Mike is an awesome dad. He's really come into his own since Violet was born, and handles his role of dad-to-two-girls like a natural. He and Hazel have grown much closer in the last 6 months; they've had to help each other out a lot since Violet's arrival, and I've really enjoyed watching them negotiate the terms of their dealings. They wrestle and spin and jump and laugh a lot. They sing and play guitar a lot. They play ball and frisbee and hide and seek. Hazel runs out to meet Mike's car in the driveway almost every night shrieking "Dada! Dada!" with a joy so sudden and heartfelt that it makes all of us laugh.

By dinner time, Violet is tired of me and Hazel, and is looking forward to drooling all over someone new. She's much more aware of who she's keeping company with these days, and is keen to voice her opinion of who should hold her next. She wants nothing more to do with me once she hears Mike's voice. It's really sweet and endearing to us both that she wants so much time with her dad. Hazel, as an infant, was what we liked to call high maintnance - she was colicky, and she always wanted to be held, always wanted to be nursing, and always wanted her mama - she is still a Mama's girl, through and through. I got so used to doing everything for Hazel when she was a baby that I just went ahead and did everything for her until... well, until I was physically incapable of doing so, which was about 7 months into my pregnancy with Violet. Violet, though (and you have to wonder how much of this is nature and how much is nurture - the question that comes up most with a second baby) is happiest with her Dada. Sure, she wants me to hold and feed her - but when she's feeling really wiped out, or really cranky, she wants her Dada to scoop her up, lay her flat on his forarm, belly down, and gently pat her butt. That's their thing, their special cuddle, and it works like nothing else. It seems so fitting that Violet needs her Dada so much; it sort of balances things out around here. And of course, it makes Mike feel like his dad skillz are pretty awesome, which they absolutely are.

Personally, I think there is nothing hotter than a man who is a good dad. And yes, I know that I am slightly biased, but by that rationale, Mike is the hottest guy I know. He takes great joy in running around the park at full speed with Hazel and her friends tailing after him like miniature groupies. He is the dad who, at playgroup BBQs, is roughhousing in the grass with six little girls clinging to him like laughing, screaming red ants. He'll grab each of them by the hands and spin them around and around until everyone is ready to barf. He has achieved rock star status in the eyes of little Molly, and little Charley recently identified his photo in the SF Weekly all by herself (actually, it was a photo of a rather large, bleached blonde woman with chunky glasses, chest tattoos and a double masectomy who looked nothing like Mike, but it was so sweet that Charley was thinking of him, don't you think?) I think he's especially hot when he's wearing Violet in the Bjorn, or when he's carrying Hazel on his shoulders. I try to take mental snapshots of those little moments, and remember them when I'm pissed off that he didn't put his dishes in the dishwasher, or forgot to pick up the bathmat after his shower.

The fact that Mike takes such great joy in, and responsibility for, his kids, is something that I try not to take for granted. Ours is really the first generation to demand that dads step up to the plate and do their fair share of the child minding, and thankfully so. Our girls will reap the benefits of Mike's easygoing personality, and hopefully his low-key and thoughtful approach to life will leave a great impression on them. I hope that his intelligence and his genuine desire to be kind to people is something that Hazel and Violet aspire to develop. These are the qualities that I fell in love with when I met Mike, and I could never have guessed how important, how necessary they would be, when the cute guy who became my husband became the father of our children. You are an awesome husband, and an awesome dad and I love you so much. I feel blessed that you come home every evening to rescue me from the constant demands of our young, even when you're exhausted and would rather be enjoying a post work cocktail in peace. Seeing you so clearly smitten with our girls gives me a feeling of peace that I can't quite describe. You, in a word, rock.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Vacation: All I Ever Wanted

We've just returned from a week-long roadtrip through California and boy, do we need a vacation. Sadly, with this trip, great though it was at times, we've come to realize that the term "vacation" will not apply to the trips we take for many years - at least until we're done travelling with the little hobos who tag along with us and call us Mama and Dada.

The first leg of our "working vacation" was a trip to Somis, on the So. Cal. coast, where my mom and stepdad live. We arrived at 10:30 p.m. after a 7 hour drive, crashed out at 11. We were rudely awakened the next morning by Hazel, who realized where we were, and demanded to be led to her grandparents, then be taken out for a swim in the pool. At 6:30 a.m. After a big family breakfast, we hit the road for leg two of our journey - a two hour drive to Redlands for a family reunion with my dad's side of the family. Hazel swam and played with her big girl cousins, Violet sweat profusely, then threw a huge tantrum, and it was 99 degrees in the shade, but there was a lot of laughing and everyone was really happy to be there. We crashed out early again that night, and Hazel had us up and running at 7 the next morning. We had a greasy breakfast, then struck out for San Diego, to visit Mike's mom and brother. An hour and a half later we were there and for the next two and a half days, we actually relaxed. As much as we could anyway, with a baby who was beginning to resent spending so much time in the carseat she loathes, and a toddler who was jacked up beyond belief on DVDs and lollipops (anything to keep the tantrums to a minimum in the car). We lolled on the beach everyday. We wrote our names in the sand, watched them get washed away, and started over. We took long walks and naps. We ate fan-freaking-tastic sea food that Uncle Tim grilled. We drank gin and tonics on the deck. It was lovely, and Mike and I vowed that the next time we move, we are moving to the beach - everything else is just a waste of time. We headed back to Somis for a day and a half (more swimming, more good food), then back home on Friday. The drive home was one of the hairiest ever - Hazel and Violet were setting each other off with the crying and the screaming, we were all exhausted and anxious to get home already, and by the time we got to San Jose (so close to home, yet so far away), Mike and I swore to each other that we wouldn't put ourselves through this again for a long, long time. We love visiting our families, but when the shit hits the fan, ain't no Subaru in the world big enough for the four of us. Next time, we're flying.