Saturday, February 11, 2017

1/52

* A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2017*

Matteo: Jumping into the new year.  Your resolutions involve eating lots of candy and staying in as many hotels as possible.

Lilah: The sweet little face of someone who is constantly surprised and delighted by new discoveries. 

52/52

* A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2016*

Matteo: At the end of 2016, you are as adventurous as ever.  If I were speaking in metaphors, I would say that you live life at 110 miles an hour.  While standing on the back of a moving truck.  Balancing on stilts.  You are loud and fast and your curiosity often leads to complete chaos in the house.  Some days we don't feel like we will make it to bedtime.  As a balance to your loud and fast side, you are also sweet and tender at the most unexpected times.  You love your family and you take care of us in little ways without being asked.  You are a snuggle bug and you give hugs freely.  It can be a roller coaster at times, but I am so proud to be your Mama.

Lilah: Last winter, you were only a few months old so you didn’t get to play in the snow.  This year, we stuffed you into some oversized mittens and a hat and watched you wobble around like a penguin.  The mittens fell off constantly and you got cold, but you were elated to have some freedom outside.  “Dow dow dow!” (Down) is one of the few words you possess and it has become an important tool as you seek more independence.  Every instinct tells me to scoop you up and hold on to your baby days a little longer.  I remind myself to let you explore the world.  I’m proud of your curiosity and newfound determination.  You are a toddler now, my little penguin.  May your toddles lead you to many beautiful discoveries.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

51/52

* A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2016*

Matteo: You have had many obsessions hobbies since you were a little boy, including CDs, records, toy blenders, suitcases and washing machines.  When you fall in love with something, you commit yourself fully.  Every day becomes a mission in acquiring new pieces for your collection, or in finding as many ways to use them around the house as possible.  The newest trend to find its way into your case history of beloved objects is Hot Wheels.  These tiny, metal, colorful cars have taken over the house completely, as well as over your imagination and admiration.  Every question I ask you ends with "Hot Wheels."  Every trip to the grocery store ends with Hot Wheels.  Every pocket and bucket and bin are filled with Hot Wheels.  I find them in the laundry, in the pantry, in my bed, in the bathtub as I attempt to to take a bath.  I feel like Mrs. Hannigan in "Annie," except instead of "little girls," there are "little cars" everywhere I turn.  They are quickly multiplying.  You have cleverly managed to convince your sister that they are awesome so that you can manipulate your parents into buying one "for her," too: "What about Sissy?  She wants a Hot Wheel.  I think she would like this one."  So, now two Hot Wheels come home with us from the store.  Your collection is expanding, like a shiny chrome-plated army.  You also taught your sister how to "vroom vroom" them around the house.  It's pretty darn adorable to watch you two playing cars together.  When she's crying, you bring her a car and it usually makes her happy again.  When Mama was sick, you brought me some of your favorite cars to keep next to me in bed.  Hot Wheels are your love language right now, so Hot Wheels it will be.

Lilah: Your obsession passion this Christmas was ornaments.  You completely ignored the shiny, bow-covered boxes under the tree, and opted immediately for whichever ornaments haden't yet been moved to higher ground.  At Nana Toni and Papa Dean's house, you were particularly committed to the shiny, delicate, highly-breakable ornaments that covered the tree, calling to you from across the room.  You managed to find a way through every furniture barrier we constructed, no matter its complexity, immediately plucking ornaments from the low branches of the tree again.  You screeched like a pterodactyl whenever we tried to take them away.  There were a few ornament casualties.  Maybe next year we will be able decorate the lower half of our tree again.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

50/52

* A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2016*

Matteo: The great Christmas tree hunt, 2016.  You wore your 3D glasses from the movie theater and had a ball running around pointing to every tree and saying "this one!  this one!"  You helped entertain Lilah, by clapping along with her, one of your favorite games to play together (while singing "clap hands, here comes Lilah!").  When we finally found our tree, we all "clapped hands" to celebrate.

Lilah: Your first time picking out a Christmas tree!  You have really started to walk all over the place in the last couple of weeks, and you relish your newfound independence.  When we let you down out of the cart, you were beaming with pride as you toddled around inspecting the trees.  It's going to be a very busy Christmas this year, as we chase you around the house and attempt to keep you away from the ornaments!

49/52

* A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2016*

Matteo: That time you drew on your sister's face with a pen.

Lilah: That time your brother drew on your face with a pen.

48/52

* A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2016*

Dear Matteo and Lilah: With the heartbreaking results of this election, I fear that our generation has left you a terrible legacy.  You are inheriting a moral debt of overwhelming proportions.  Your Papa and I work very hard everyday to teach you the values of love, of inclusion, of respect and of kindness.  We will always try to model the importance of standing up against injustice, of being kind in the face of hate, of loving yourselves for the unique perspective and beauty that you alone can offer this world.  I hope you will never doubt the potential for greatness that exists in humanity; that you will never let those who would threaten your voice shout louder than your heart can sing.  We have just elected a president who demonstrates values of greed, exclusion, and disrespect for the earth and for the range of human diversity.  I know that your generation will work harder than ever to let your beauty shine.  This gives me hope in a moment where it would otherwise be difficult to find any.  I believe in you.

47/52

* A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2016*

Matteo and Lilah: Papa and I took you to the courthouse this week to teach you about American democracy.  You watched as we put our ballots into a locked metal box attended by two volunteers.  As we dropped the hopes for our country into that little square box, I felt nervous excitement for the future you both might have.  When I was in college, my friend and I were in Eastern Oregon for the weekend.  When we heard that Hillary Clinton would be speaking at our college, we drove all night to make it back to campus in time to see her.  The car broke down somewhere near Sisters, around sunrise, and the waitress of an all-night diner had to call her sleeping husband to come jump the battery.  Despite the obstacles, we did make it back in time for Hillary's speech.  I don't know if it was the anticipation created by that dramatic road trip, but it turned out to be one of the most powerful and inspiring rallies I have ever attended.  There was something about Hillary's presence and the power of her convictions that spoke to me very deeply.  In that moment, I trusted her with the future of women in America.  Now, almost twenty years later, I am trusting in her again.  I believe that she will work to make a country that you can be proud of, and that she will be the kind of leader that you can look up to.  I wish this for you, my children.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

46/52

* A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2016*

Matteo: A few months ago, you said "Mama, are you sure Halloween will happen again this year?"  You fell in love with this wonderful, spooky, candy-filled holiday last year and have probably been dreaming of its return ever since.  We finally made it to the great pumpkin patch, one day before Halloween.  The place was deserted, so we got to run up and down the long orange-lined avenue looking for our perfect pumpkin.  When we got home, you and Papa carved one and now it's sitting proudly by the front door, waiting for the first trick-or-treaters to arrive.

Lilah: You're not too sure what all the Halloween fuss is about, but you had a lot of fun riding in the wagon and digging around in the dirt in that big orange field we visited.

45/52

* A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2016*

Matteo: The weekend before Halloween, we went to a fall festival with a giant pumpkin weighing contest and a kids costume contest.  You were very interested in the giant forklift contraption they used to move the heavy pumpkins onto the scale.  You wore your washing machine costume and nearly every person we passed commented on how fantastic you looked.  I felt like I was with a celebrity!  You got very quiet and I worried that you didn't like all the attention.  When I asked you about it later, you said you loved it.  I think you were very proud to be a washing machine.  You ended up winning the kids costume contest, too!  The prizes were a toy robot and a chocolate-dipped marshmallow from the local chocolate company.  It was a very exciting day!

Lilah: I made you a laundry basket costume to go with your brother's washing machine, but you really hated wearing it.  Plan B was "Little Miss Sunshine," which you preferred because it didn't restrict your movement.  You wore a sash that said "Little Miss" and I glued a felt sun onto your yellow dress.  We figured you still matched your brother, since the sun is kind of an eco-friendly dryer.  Plus, this costume really matches your sunny little personality.  Your favorite part of the Halloween festivities at the zoo was crawling around in the crunchy leaves on the grass.  You have been standing a lot and taking a few tentative steps at a time this week, but you still prefer to crawl on uneven surfaces.  It's very exciting that you are so close to being able to walk and keep up with brother (or maybe he'll be keeping up with you!)

P.S. Your brother is making funny noises to try to attract your attention in this photo.

Monday, November 7, 2016

44/52

* A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2016*

Matteo: Recently Overheard Things:

"What if I could jump all the way to the top of the building and climb around the ceiling?  Wouldn't that be cool?"

"Well, 'funny meow' means you laugh so hard and you can't stop laughing!" (When asked what 'funny meow' means)

"I named my sister 'Somanyhair' because she has so many hairs!"

(At Target) "Mama, I'm in the sponge aisle!"

(After Mama put on perfume) "You smell like my grandma!"

"I want to brush my teeth with my own self!"

"Look, Mama, I'm doin' my work job." (While "cleaning" the house with the mop)

(When asked what a bus is made of) "Motor, tires, steering wheel, tire pump, ice cream, gas pedal (a little one and a big one), horn."

"I'm a hungry tiger!"

"Whales are bumpy and swumpy.  Papa, what does 'swumpy' mean?"

"Mama, you're a noodle head!  A noodle head is someone who eats noodles."

"When I'm bigger, I'll send you some sunglasses and one vacuum and a giant house!"

"Guess what, Mama!  I saw a TV in that garage!  It was a real working TV!  Call Papa and tell him the football game is on!"

"Google if potato bugs have teeth.  Google it, Mama!"

First thing in the morning:
"I wear underoos!"
"Open your eyes, Mama!"
"I really love suitcases!"
"Can I play with my sister?"
"Where are we going today?"

(Singing) "I want to yell and help tonight!"

"You look like a hair princess!" (to Lilah)

"Pumpkins are orange because they were grown in the hospital and they have been painted orange just like oranges.  Oranges are orange because they are orange."

"Mama, this is your dancin' rug and this is my dancin' rug, ok?"

(Telling me about your dream) "I had a dream about a shark and it was trying to eat me!  I was so frightened I hid under the covers.  But the second one was a nice one.  It was me and Mama hugging each other and floating above the sky."

(Another dream) "Mama and Matteo were flying to the moon on a canoe with Papa and Lilah.  Then we ate a popsicle on the moon, all of our family."

"I want to keep Mommy and Daddy forever!  All the way until Christmas!'

Lilah: The cupboard toy bandit strikes again.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

43/52

 *A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2016*

Matteo: Fall is a beautiful time of year as the aspens begin to turn striking palettes of rich yellow.  We went for a drive this weekend to do some tree spotting and family bonding.  During the trip, we started talking about potato bugs and you asked me if they eat potatoes.  You also asked me why fast water has a current and which kinds of trees don't turn yellow ("Evergreens?" I guessed, to which you replied: "No, I mean the tropical ones.")  You are getting too smart.  Thank goodness for Google.

Lilah: Your first drawing in pink marker!  Most of it ended up on the paper.




42/52

*A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2016*

Matteo: The hamburger dance.  We all managed to sit at the table for lunch together on this sunny afternoon.  We even used a nice tablecloth (with an Easter pattern...in October...but it still felt special to all be together).

Lilah: This morning you laid next to me sleeping so sweetly with the late morning light on your face, snoring just the teensiest bit.  As I made a move to get my camera, you immediately started to wake up, stretching your arms lazily over your head.  When you opened your eyes, you noticed the little dog that Matteo brought to you before you fell asleep and you smiled so happily, remembering its existence.

41/52

*A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2016*

Matteo and Lilah: The two of you fall so naturally into your own rhythm of play, creating what feel like conspiratorial little worlds.  Today, I watched you tuck yourselves away behind the curtains and pick leaves together through the open window.  This is what I always hoped having a sibling would look like.  Makes this only child Mama's heart swell.

40/52

 *A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2016*

Matteo: The face of someone who takes watering his pumpkin patch very seriously.  It's coming along nicely--I think there are five little pumpkins and one big one at the moment (that giant one in the middle is a transplant from the grocery store).

Lilah: The face of someone who is so very proud of her new skill.  You have started standing up on your own, and we're all pretty proud and excited, too!




39/52

*A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2016*

Matteo: Pushing Snowball on the swings.  "He wants to go high-errr!"

Lilah: Taking in the tall trees and pretty light as it filters through the forest canopies.

38/52

*A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2016*

Matteo: "Mama, this is a potion for bugs and slugs.  I'm going to pour it on all the plants."  In case you're wondering, the ingredients for a very fine bugs and slugs potion are: water, dish soap, marigold petals, leaves, a pinch of dirt and determination.

Lilah: Happy birthday, my sweet baby girl!  I can't believe how quickly it has gone.  One year ago, Matteo and I made a pumpkin cheesecake in the afternoon to welcome the month of September.  Little did we know that it would actually be your birthday cake!  That night, my water broke as I stood up from tucking Matteo into his little toddler bed and off we all went to the hospital.  The next morning, you were here and a cold pumpkin cheesecake was waiting for us in the refrigerator when we got home.  Since then, Matteo has outgrown that little toddler bed and you have outgrown three sizes of clothing.  You have brought so much joy to our family.  Your smile is generous and your love is, too.  You are sweet and curious and happy and bright.  Even on the most challenging days (like when both kids cry in unison and I don't know where to begin between you), I have felt like you fit perfectly into that Lilah-sized space that was waiting to make our family puzzle complete.  Thank you for such a perfect gift.  We love you, little one.

Below: What a difference a year makes!