Monday, October 31, 2005

To Hazel on her 3rd Birthday

Dear Hazel,

You turned 3 years old at 8:09 on Saturday night. Three! It's hard to believe that three long and three short years ago, you were born. You are the greatest joy, and the biggest challenge, in our lives. You inspire us, you defy us, you keep us humble. You are our little firecracker, our golden girl.

We talked a lot this weekend about the night you were born - how you came out at night time, how you looked at us quietly the next morning with your big eyes, so wise and new and other-worldly. You seemed to hold the key to the universe. Your dada and I could not believe that we made you, that you were ours to love and protect and guide through this life. It doesn't seem like enough time has passed since then for you to be a walking, talking person with opinions and ideas, but here we are, three years later, and it's amazing to us that you were ever really that small, that new, that fresh.

You have grown into a beautiful, charismatic, idiosyncratic, hilarious, imaginative and charming little girl. We love your little voice, your big ideas and your giant personality. You are a maze of both endearing and infuriating qualities, and navigating you is something that we have to keep learning and relearning, day after day. You are a masterpiece.

The last year was a big one for you. We moved into a new house, you became a big sister and you started preschool. Each transition was really hard for you, but you made your own way and took your own time, and came out the other side of each tunnel a little older, a little stronger. You have a big, booming inner voice, Hazel, and it guides you unfailingly. I so admire that about you. You listen, really listen to yourself, and for better or worse, that is a rare and admirable attribute that you brought with you to this life. Your bottomless reserves of tenacity and self-awareness will allow you keep listening to yourself, now and forever. You have your own sense of time and your own ideas about how things should, and will, unfold in your life, and while your timetable and mine do not often sync up, I secretly admire your fierce adherence to it.

You have made dear friends this year and are trying hard to figure out your place among them. You used to be the timid one. Now you're the bossy one. Which one will you be next? Watching you and your girlfriends love, pester, tease, hug and excite each other has been one of the highlights of my life with you so far. It is amazing to me that you have such a tight circle of friends at such a young age - not only do you have a little sister at home who loves, idolizes and adores you, you have sisters who live in other houses, with other parents who you also love, and that community of wonderful people is something we hope to preserve for you for a long, long time. Nothing else in this life will compare to relationships like these. How fortunate we are to be learning that all together.

You have always been an exceptional kid, Hazel. Never one to follow the crowd, you said your first word at the age of seven months. By ten months you were walking and by one, you had a bigger vocabulary than most two year olds. Today, you use words like "actually" and "character" and "independent" - and you use them properly! You like to dress yourself and are only concerned with what feels and looks good to you, social propriety and weather be damned! You are in no hurry to poop in the potty, though you know that I am lobbying hard for it (perhaps this is why, Mary Contrary?). You are learning how to love your sister by sharing with her and teaching her how to use toys and read books not because I encourage you to, but because you are actually beginning to enjoy it, to enjoy her. You look forward to your time at school and are forming relationshiops there completely on your own, guiding yourself and choosing your own activities, and learning that the world expands beyond your family and friends and your comfort zone. Life keeps changing and getting better for you, and it is a joy to for us to be a part of it.

Everyone who has ever met you has commented on how beautiful you are, with your curly golden hair and your big, brown eyes. You are a total knockout. When the four of us are laying in bed after you come in and wake us up in the morning, your dada and I look at you and your sister, and we just can't imagine two more knock down, drag out gorgeous girls. You two are already heartbreakers; you're going to be big trouble.

Happy Birthday to you Hazel, as you begin your third year of life, and many happy returns. You are our best big girl, our little Hoo, and we are forever in your debt for coming along and starting our family. Dada, Violet and I love you so very, very much.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Attention Target Shoppers:

Friends, I have made a deliberate and concerted effort to keep politics off of this blog. However, as a mother and a woman, I am deeply angered by what is becoming routine discrimination against women by large chains such as Safeway, Walmart and now, Target.

For those of you who have not yet read about, or experienced this, Safeway, Walmart, Target and a few others, have been allowing the pharmacists working within their stores to refuse to fill birth control prescriptions to anyone they don't see fit to give them to. These phamracists, motivated by their own personal, nonprofessional beliefs, are refusing to fill legal and legitimate doctor's prescriptions for birth control pills and/or emergency contraception pills, because they do not personally believe in preventing unwanted pregnancies.

Regardless of what your stance on birth control or emergency contraception is, please think about what this kind of discrimination can mean for you. What if, the next time you go to fill your prescription for your cholesterol pills, you pharmacist just flat out refuses, because, say, you look to young to need such a thing? Or because it's Wednesday. What if your pharmacist just said "Nope, sorry, not at this pharmacy, pal!" when you went to fill your Prozac prescription, on the grounds that s/he doesn't "believe" in depression?

This is descrimination, plain and simple. And it is unacceptable. Please visit Fill My Pills Now! to protest this practice. And while you're at it, you can fire off an angry letter to Target, letting them know what you think of them, for allowing this to happen in their stores here.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Time to call the therapist?

Me: Whatcha doin' Haze?
Haze: Playing with my dollhouse! Wanna play, Mama?

Me: Umm, sure. So... what is the dollhouse family up to today?
Haze: They're eating dinner! See? Mama, Dada, Hazel and Molly:

Me: Cool! It looks like they're having fun. Is that our whole family?
Haze: Yeah!
Me: It is? Hmm... where's Violet?
Haze: In the closet.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Daisy Head Hazy

Hazel has decided that she wants to be Daisy Head Mayzie, the title character of Dr. Seuss book, for Halloween. We went out yesterday and bought a pink dress and white tights for her costume. I figure I can rig up a craft-store fake daisy to a head band easy enough. Perhaps we'll carry a copy of the book for clarification when trick-or-treating?

Can I just say, I love that Hazel wants to be a character from a book? I think it's awesome that she came up with it totally on her own, too. I wouldn't be able to think of a costume that better suits her if I had to.

Violet is going to be a baby chick, coming out of it's egg, for her first Halloween, like her big sister was before her.

The photo opps are going to be off the hook. We gots mad Halloween skillz!

Thursday, October 13, 2005

A Whole Post About Violet

I've noticed that I write a lot more about Hazel than I do about Violet on this blog. Which is natural, I suppose, since Hazel actually, you know, does stuff. Hazel is always front and center, while little Vi is most often on the fringes. But not for long...

At five months old, our little Violet is in a big hurry to grow up. She rolls all over the house, belly to back and back to belly, looking for nothing but a good time. Lately, she's been contemplating the mechanics of scooting, and is starting to get the hang of it. She gets an object or destination in mind, and she digs her toes into the carpet and stretches, scooching her whole trunk, inch by inch, just using her tiny little toes, and she doesn't stop until she gets where she's trying to go. Her steely determination wavers only occasionally... if there's a really interesting piece of carpet schmutz in her path, for instance. Or if she starts up a conversation with her own hand.

Violet is endlessly entertained by the loud, kissy, slightly overbearing girl that is her big sister. She absolutely lights up when she sees Hazel; just beams at her, like she cannot believe her good fortune at having run into her. She screeches and laughs at her, and doesn't mind the weird, sing-songy way in which Hazel addresses her. She thinks the big, upright kid is awesome and if she knows that Hazel is in the room somewhere, she watches her intently, craning her neck and contorting her body to get the best view, and squawks and coos until Hazel notices her, too. Vi's desire to be loved by Haze is palpable, and a little bit heartbreaking in it's naked sincerety.

We call Violet The Ham. We mean it in a good way, because babies are supposed to be fat and pink and creased, much like an actual ham. We also call her the Chunkmaster, Chubs, Fatty, Plumpy Plumpster and The Fat One. We joke about her having a complex later in life, but I think she knows it's all in good fun. We tell her that curves are in this season, anyway. She has been eating rice cereal for about a month now, and she loves it - loves the whole process of it: spoon in cereal, spoon in mouth, swallow, repeat. Last night, for the first time, she sat at the table with us in the little mini-highchair thingy that straps onto a regular chair. She was a little floppy, as she hasn't quite mastered the fine art of sitting up yet, but she liked being there, eating her slop, with the rest of the family. It's nice having a kid who already enjoys food so much. Violet, in fact, demanded that we feed her, and she launched a day-long nursing strike to really drive her point home a few weeks ago. When I finally caught on to what she was asking for, and offered her a little cereal on a little spoon, she was in ecstasy. She ate two bowls full and after every spoonful, she sighed "mmmmmmmmmmm". It's a much different experience than we had with Hazel, who resisted solids until about 9 months, strongly preferring nursing, and who still has little to no interest in anything that is not macaroni and cheese. Vi will be cleaning Hazel's plate before long.

Where Hazel was our sensitive Mama's girl, Violet is Captain Easygoing. You're gonna put me back in that exersaucer thing, again, Mama? Okay. You're gonna just plop me on the carpet and let me roll myself into a corner? No sweat! She doesn't mind being wedged between the couch and the coffee table for 15 minutes at a time because, apparently, she and the couch have a lot to talk about. She loves to look at the baby staring back at her in the full-legnth closet door mirrors and she can lay on her back, opening and closing her hands, or sucking on her toes, for a good half an hour before she gets bored. You're gonna neglect me in favor of the computer some more, Mama? That's cool... I'm gonna work on dragging myself across the room to that hilarious dog over there, who's waiting for you to turn away for two seconds, so she can french me.

We've recently started putting Violet down at a regular bedtime, in her own bed. After one night of protesting, she figured out that being put down for bed meant she was supposed to go to sleep, so she did. She carried that nononsense attitude over into naptime, too, and has been napping for at least an hour and a half, twice a day (a far cry from 20 minutes here, 40 minutes there, which was her previous schedule). She comes into bed with Mike and I sometime after midnight and wakes up around 7, cooing, smiling, stretching and farting. She wakes up in the best mood, so happy to see Mama and Dada, so ready for Hazel to come in and smother her with kisses. This is a kid who just loves her life. Our little Buddha.

When I was pregnant with Violet, I would try to imagine myself in various everyday situations my two girls: The Whole Foods scenario, in which the screaming baby would be in the sling, needing to nurse, and Hazel careening dangerously through the store with her little mini-cart, giving innocent passersby bruised ankles. The airport scenario, in which the screaming baby is in the sling, diaper full of poop, and Hazel is in the red stroller, whining and complaining and being bribed to stay quiet through the security lines with lollipops. I must say, it's not really as hard as I daydreamed it would be with two kids to manage; or rather, Violet's mellow and happy personality makes it easier than it could be. The screaming doesn't really happen much (the pooping is another story). I know that all this could change in a heartbeat, so right now, I'm really appreciative of the fact that she's happy just being awake, being alive, being around us. She's our little flower, our Happy Ham, and we are thrilled to bits by every little thing she does.

Monday, October 10, 2005


Kicking off the holiday travel season, Violet and I just spent three days visiting our friends in Portland. I love Portland. We really should live there. Why don't we live there?! It's green, gorgeous, hippie, progressive, kid-friendly and practically overrun with young families. It is so my kind of town. We stayed in our friends'new house, which is really nice, and met some of their local friends, including the gorgeous CityMama, and her gorgeous family, and the sweet and lovely AfrindieMum and her lovely ones. We ate indulgently and drank to excess, and Violet rewarded me with a late morning sleep both Saturday and Sunday mornings. We spent some time at Powell's, the best bookstore on the planet. We did some shopping (I got a kick-ass pair of black and red Converse). We napped. It was so nice to spend some downtime with Violet, just two of us. We've never done that before; not since we left the hospital following her birth, anyway. I came back home feeling rested and happy.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

The Pumpkin Patch

Today Violet and I accompanied Hazel on her first ever field trip, to Arata's Pumpkin Farm in Half Moon Bay. Hazel has talked of little else for days, and I'm pleased to say that the excursion met her high expectations. We went with Hazel's whole preschool class, including teachers, kids, moms, siblings and one dad (go, Shane!). Here's how it all went down:

Everyone chose their very own pumpkins. Ever the hooligan, Hazel preferred knocking the pumpkins on the bordering hay bales over to actually selecting one for herself.

A real, old fashioned hayride, complete with a rusty, old tractor spewing carbon monoxide directly into my children's faces.

Hey, there, partner. Pull up a pumpkin and paste on a smile: it's class picture time!

Hazel, Molly and Maddy go for a roll in the hay.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Tuned Out: Week 1

It's been exactly one week since the cable was cut off and the TV banished to the garage, and I've been pleasantly surprised by our collective ability to go without. Honestly? It's been really easy. I wish we'd done it sooner.

Even Hazel, who was enjoying quite the full Noggin schedule, had not one melt down, freak out or other such drama. She now gets one hour of DVD time in the evening only, while I'm making dinner, and that suits her just fine. She spends her whole day painting, playing with her stuffed animals, listening to music and whatever else she can think of... and she's accepted the new no-TV rule with nary a whine, whimper or wheedle. Mike has been experiencing a little TWS (Television Withdrawl Syndrome) - he's jonesing bigtime for ESPN. Me? Not so much. I do miss my daily dose of Jon Stewart, though.

I read two books in the last week, one excellent, one pretty good (to find out more about them, see left). It had been a while since I had had the pleasure of reading a book that I just couldn't put down (since I read "Wicked"a few months ago) and I just could not put "The Time Traveller's Wife", by Audrey Niffenegger, down for a minute. Please go put it on your library list right now. It's so good. You could also check out the other book I read,"Little Children", by Tom Perotta - it was good, too, although not great. A solid story, but it climaxed in a made-for-the-movies scene that annoyed me. We've also been listening to a lot more NPR and music, and have been helping Hazel learn how to play "Memory". Remember Memory, the card matching game? I used to love playing this game, as a kid. I still do, as it turns out. Even Violet has spent her downtime more creatively since the TV's been tossed: she cut her first tooth last week.

I actually feel pretty virtuous in not watching TV. It feels good to do something in the evenings - even if it's just reading or writing or listening to short stories on the radio. I'm rather proud of us.