Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Unexpected Gravy


We were in Indiana over Ginger's birthday, and I never really got to blog about my feelings on her reaching a year. I posted that video (which I made before we left on vacation)- but of course it doesn't have words...and I find myself feeling so different at the close of Ginger's first year than I ever expected I would feel.

The first year of Ginger's life was very different for me compared to the first year of Paprika's. I'm not talking about being a parent "the second time around" (as people like to say) or being more relaxed, or feeling more comfortable. No, not that.

I'm talking about how different it is to fall in love after horrible and tragic loss. What it feels like to love someone so much but be scared that it could all end at any moment. The only thing I can really compare it to is having your heart broken and learning to love again. But it's a thousand (a million?) times stronger than that.

Before Ginger was born, the only hope I had for her was that she would be born alive. That's it. I wanted to meet her and watch her take a breath, and I never really thought past that point. I wanted her to be healthy, sure...but I knew that even if she had health problems, it would be okay as long as she was alive when she was born. I just wanted to stare into her eyes for a moment and have her stare back at me and smell her sweet breath. It was a dream I had with our twins...but of course they had passed away by the time I gave birth to them, and although I got to hold them, I really wanted see them alive.

So, in the few moments after Ginger was born she had already fulfilled all of my parental expectations for her. It sounds funny to say that, but it's true. Everything since that point has been gravy...unexpected, glorious, and sweet gravy.

One of the hardest parts about being a parent "this time around" is opening my heart and letting myself love with every corner of my being: risking that, of course, it could all end tomorrow. It is so hard sometimes. But I find Ginger is patient with me in ways that I never could have imagined. Each day her smile breaks my weary heart into a million pieces, wrapping herself around its very core. She has intertwined herself into my soul, and it's just...oh, I don't know...too powerful for words.

With Paprika, I expected to love her with every fiber of my being. I expected to be enamoured by each milestone, each new expression. With her, my love was so new. I had never experienced the heartache of saying goodbye for a lifetime, and I never thought I would.

With Ginger it's different, but it's also the same. Each day as I watch Ginger grow, I can't help but think of Vivian and Annemarie, and what they would be like now. Each day I watch Ginger grow I feel my grief opening up, and I feel myself healing in all of my broken places. When she takes my face in her hands and pulls herself up to kiss me on the lips over and over again (this is her new trick), I think to myself, "How could I have ever known that she would be so sweet, so pure, so innocent, so magical?"

So, this first year of Ginger's's really been a love story. About how a broken heart can heal in the broken places. Not ever fully, of course. But how a soul can learn to laugh again, and sometimes even cry...knowing that there still is joy in the world.

She gave me hope. She gave us all hope. And to think all I ever wanted was for her to be born alive. I would say that she's gone pretty far and above that. Each day...each moment with her, is an unexpected blessing that I cherish in the root of my soul and never, ever (not even for a second) take for granted.


Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Inside The Lines


Here are a few of Paprika's recent drawings. The first one is of her with three of her friends at school. The second drawing is of her dancing with two of her friends in ballet class.


A little thing I've been mulling over lately is (and I know this sounds silly)- is coloring inside the lines. You know, coloring. Like in coloring books.

It seems like everyone Paprika's age now is coloring. But we don't color in our house. I give her white paper and crayons, and she draws. We have coloring books, but I have never told Paprika to color inside the lines. And it's never occured to her to do so. She draws on top of the drawings in the coloring books.

I know she could color inside the lines if she wanted to. But part of me feels like it's going to stifle her know, to color in someone else's drawing instead of making her own.

But then she'll probably go to school and the other kids will be coloring inside the lines, and someone will make fun of her for "scribbling on the page" and I'll feel terrible for not preparing her to conform.

Either way, I can't win!

It's not just about coloring, of course. It's about a lot of the things I do as her parent, and the ways that I shield her from "the real world." Part of me wants to grow her creativity, and let her imagine her own world, full of possibility and wonder. The other part wants to shield her from pain, from being ridiculed, from being different than other kids.

I value difference, but I know other kids are not so forgiving. So, this morning, I am mulling over...should I teach her to color, but let her know that drawing is better? Should I just let her draw and forget to mention about coloring inside the lines?

I keep telling myself, she is only three. Let her be three. Let her enjoy making her own drawings and composing her own music. Let her listen to the creative force inside herself and feel the joy of self-expression. Let her enjoy the process of creating from her own imagination, and hopefully she will never let that go...even IF she does eventually learn to color inside the lines.


Monday, June 28, 2010

Breakfast Together!


Making pancakes together in the morning (Mr. Mustard's specialty) is one of my favorite parts of this summer. Mr. Mustard starts a new show this evening (The Amazing Race)- so our little month long vay-kay is coming to a close. Back to reality. Literally! ;-)

In other news, I am still on my quest to give up Coke. Ann got me hooked on Starbucks Iced Mochas when I was in Indiana...but going to Starbucks and spending $5/day on a drink is not something I really want to get in the habit of doing. So, I ordered an espresso maker (from Newegg for 75% off) - it should be here I am going to start making the drinks at home. Sounds like something fun to try for the summer. Now that I am going to be drinking coffee, I finally feel like a real grown-up. Haha. :-)

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Lazy Beach Days!


We've been doing a lot of catching up on stuff from vacation, but somehow we always end up at the beach. We get some sandwiches, go down and walk on the path...hang out in the sand, build sandcastles and just enjoy the sounds of the waves.

Paprika is still Butterfly Girl wherever we go. I think it's safe to say that she gets her inspiration from Ladybug Girl...her new favorite book series.


Needless to say, she's become quite the beach babe! I can remember when she wouldn't set foot on the sand...but all that has really changed!


Ginger loves the beach, too. I am starting to see so much of her personality emerge. She is quite inquisitive, and super sweet...and really daring. Paprika loves to say about her, "Here comes the troublemaker!"


Thankfully, she still likes to cuddle.


But even so, she's always hatching her next plan. We're going to have to keep an eye on this one ;-)


Thursday, June 24, 2010

First Day Of School!


Today Paprika started at a new preschool. As of yesterday at 4pm, we were still waitlisted...but a spot opened up, and next thing you know, we were enrolled! Getting into a good preschool in Los Angeles is kinda like applying to college...and we made it! Haha. ;-)

This is such a relief. I love having Paprika at home with me, and kinda wanted her here with me...well, forever. But as she is just about the most social person on planet Earth and loves, loves all other kids...well, it just didn't seem fair to her. She was sooooo excited when I told her she got to go this morning!

One of the hardest things about moving here from Pasadena was leaving Paprika's old school, which we also loved. So finding a good place here...well, it's just awesome!


It's a co-op preschool that meets three mornings/week for the summer. I will be working in the classroom one morning/week. Today was my first day of "teaching"- and it was so much fun. It was really such a gift to see her interacting with the other kids and learning.

It turns out a spot also opened up for next school year (we're in the summer session now)- so...starting in Fall, she will be in Pre-K five days/week. It's the same co-op environment, with lots of parent participation. Mr. Mustard's schedule this summer and next year should work out so he can be home with Ginger while I'm working at the school. How great would that be?

It's really a transition seieng my baby go from well, a a preschooler. Where is the time going?

We got home from school today and the first thing Paprika wanted to do was put on her butterfly wings and do a dance performance for me. She is now "Butterfly Girl"- which is a superhero she made up!

So, as long as she's having fun with it and enjoying the interaction, we'll keep it up. As we were leaving school today all she wanted to know was when we could come back again to play with her new friends. I'd say that's a good sign!


Wednesday, June 23, 2010

We're Back, Baby!


We are back in Los Angeles. Our little month-long tour of the USA (well, not really...just Maine and Indiana) has come to a close. After six flights with our babies, I can say that I am ready not to fly again for a little while. Paprika, on the other hand was asking me just as soon the wheels touched down at LAX, "When can we go on another airplane, Mommy?" They really both were soooo good on all the flights...but even so, I am ready to have my feet on the ground for moment or two. ;-)

I feel like every day that we were gone we lived a lifetime. We didn't have computer or internet access in Indy (I know I said that before). It was actually pretty nice to be "un-plugged" for the last 11 days. But now I am playing catch-up...and that is fun, too! I've missed reading all my favorite blogs and of course, updating this one!

So back to that "every day we lived a lifetime." Seriously. We did. And while we were running around doing a gazillion things each day, I would think, "Man, I want to blog about this!" So I will. In time. Maybe. I need to catch my breath. And sort through a mountain (oh yes), a mountain of mail.

I just uploaded all the photos to our computer (everyone else is sleeping after a very. long. day, and here I am uploading photos). We took 1512 photos and a bunch of videos. Just looking through all that is gonna take a little while. ;-) We definitely got some fun photos this trip!


So, what did we do in Indiana? We spent a lot of time with family. Went to the Zoo on Ginger's birthday (for 6 hours in the heat!) Went swimming at the pool almost every day. Had a little birthday party for Ginger and Paprika (even though Paprika's b-day isn't til August, we wanted to celebrate with my side of the family). Had a playdate with Indy friends. Got Paprika's hair cut for the first time ever. Cruised around the lake at my mom's house. Took long walks in the evening. Caught lightning bugs just about every night (and let them go, of course!)

Just a lot of fun stuff like that.

Now I am back in LA and experiencing some pretty strong culture shock. Have there always been so many people in this town, or did they all move here when we were gone?! ;-)

Adventures In Babywearing!

I am trying out a bunch of new baby carriers. I still love my three Ergo baby carriers, don't get me wrong...I'm just mixing it up, trying some new things. My friend Jen loaned me her Beco Butterfly II Carrier. I know, she is VERY good to me!!! She let me borrow it while I decided whether or not I wanted to take the plunge and buy one. I was a little hesitant because I had heard that it was difficult to nurse in the Beco, and if so, I knew that wouldn't work for me...

I also ordered a BabyHawk Oh Snap and a Boba baby carrier. I figured I'd try them for a few weeks, and if I didn't like them, I would re-sell them on Ebay or on The Baby Wearer forums for most of what I paid.

I bought the Boba carrier from Pax Baby, and the owner Jillian was really nice and communicative with me. She's not paying me to say that or anything...promise! ;-) I emailed back and forth with her a bunch, and it was just like talking to an old friend. Definitely recommend her, and you can't beat free priority shipping- yea!

This is me wearing the Boba at the park. It has a much longer body than the Ergo and has little detachable stirrups for toddlers. I love it! It's definitely not as cute as the Beco Butterfly (what is?) or even the BabyHawk Oh Snap...but I like that it's a bigger carrier, since Ginger is now 21 pounds and she is super tall.


The Boba is great because it gives so much head support and it is super comfortable to wear (I would say on par or even more comfy than the Ergo). The only downsides to the Boba is the lack of cute patterns, and the name. They really should have thought of something better because hello...that is the name of a tasty beverage, isn't it?!

Also, a lot of people probably won't buy the Boba because it's made for especially for toddlers, so it's not a carrier you can use from birth, which is what a lot of people are looking for, I imagine...

I had high hopes for the BabyHawk Oh Snap after our friend Corey told me that she had been wanting one. She is the one who said I should have bought a Beco years ago, and she has great taste!

The back carry on the Oh Snap is perfect, and Ginger fell asleep moments after she nestled in, and she slept the whole time I did laundry and made lunch on Saturday. It was perfect. But in the front carry, it was kind of disappointing. The straps are too short to make it comfortable to cross them in the back, like the instructions tell you to do.

Me In The BabyHawk Oh Snap!:


The other downside to the Oh Snap is that the body is a little short, and the base (where the baby sits) is extra wide. Ginger wasn't quite as comfortable in it as she was in the Boba or the Ergos. And I wasn't as comfortable either (at least in the front carry). Maybe it just needs to be broken in? Time will tell! But it's a cool looking carier, and that's something, right?


I got my Babyhawk Oh Snap from Sprout Soup, since they were the only ones that had the exclusive pattern I was looking for (yea Owls!) The carrier was on my doorstep lightning quick, and overall, I am super happy with them, too. I called up the morning after I ordered online and spoke with the husband/wife duo who owns the shop on the phone. A real live mom and pop store- that's something you don't see too often anymore! It was a real, personal experience, and it made me glad to be buying from a small store and supporting them. I felt so warm and fuzzy inside. the Beco Butterfly II, which Jen so graciously lent me for the past few weeks! I really liked many aspects of it- but I just couldn't get comfortable nursing in it. I love that it has the infant insert built in, but since Ginger is already past that stage, I don't need that. But now I wish I'd had it when she was first-born, since the Ergo Infant Insert did not work for us. Overall, the patterns of the Beco are adorable, and it is as comfortable as the Ergo to wear (and a little less bulky), but the fabric in between the baby and mom just kinda got in the way for me.

Here is a photo of me wearing the Beco Butterfly II:


I am very grateful to Jen for letting me borrow hers before I made a decision. If I could rewind a year and buy this carrier when Ginger was a newborn, I would. But since she's so big now, the Boba seems to fit her body better...

I figure that after wearing my Ergos 24/7 for the past year, I could stand to mix things up a little and break out of my shell. What can I say, it's been fun. And goodness knows, as much as Ginger loves to be carried, whatever carriers I have are gonna see some serious action! ;-)

Friday, June 18, 2010

Happy Birthday, Sweet Baby!

Happy Birthday, Sweet Ginger! The past year of having you in our lives has been more beautiful than I ever could have imagined...

Thursday, June 17, 2010

On The Road Again!


A year ago today I looked like this and was in labor with Ginger! What a difference a year makes! Tomorrow she turns ONE year old! Wowza....

We are in Indiana right now visiting my side of the family. We spent four days in Lafayette with Ann, and now we're down in Indy visiting everyone else! We have very limited internet access (just when we swing by Panera or Starbucks)- so I haven't been able to update the blog, or really even check email!

We have been soooooo busy, though! I have been taking pictures all along the way and will have lots to post when we get back to California! Our little vacation is turning into an almost month-long event. Ginger and Paprika are both doing great adapting to all the different places we've stayed!

I could really get used to travelling with them- it's definitely been an adventure, but so much fun, too...and just getting to spend so much time with Mr. Mustard (because he's had this whole month off work) has just been awesome!

Tomorrow we have a big day planned for Ginger's birthday! I am feeling a little sad about my littlest baby turning one already! Time has flown by too quickly, and of course, it makes me think of Vivian and Annemarie, who I wish I could have seen turn one year old. But I'm trying not to dwell on that and just focus on how amazing and wonderful it is to wake up to Ginger's smiling face every morning. Ginger and Paprika make me feel like the luckiest mama on Earth. Truly! I am so grateful for them each and every day!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

We're Already Regulars


We've been in Maine long enough that we're starting to repeat ourselves. Yesterday we went back to the Lobster Shack for lunch. We went with Pat (Mr. Mustard's mom), and had a great time. Just as we were finishing lunch, the sky opened up and a huge downpour of rain hit us. Everyone at the restaurant ran for their cars (everyone seated outside, that is)...we ran for the gift shop, and about 5 minutes later, the sky looked like this:


Then we headed over to show Paprika and Ginger their Grandma Pat's childhood home. It turned out to be great timing. The house is in escrow at the moment with a new owner, and we got to walk around the house and talk to the new was just so cool. Pat hasn't lived in that house for 50 years, but it was still so familiar to her.

After we were done looking at the house, we walked down the street (a stroll down memory lane, for sure)...and went to the little beach right by the house where Pat spent her summers lounging by the sea! As we were walking back, the sky opened again and all of a sudden a hail storm hit us. Pieces of hail the size of dimes where pouring down and we had to hide out in a friendly neighbor's garage until it passed.

Today we went back to Mackworth Island and had a great hike. We went to the beach there and Paprika took a swim in the icy waters. We went back to the "fairy village" and made a new house for the fairies.


Then Mr. Mustard and I went out on a verrrrry quick date (only about an hour)- we had dinner in town while Pat babysat. It was great just to sneak away for a few moments to ourselves!

I guess we've been here long enough that we're starting to do the same stuff over again...and Paprika has made friends with a lot of kids in the neighborhood. We've definitely made ourselves at home and we're already feeling like regulars in this beautiful little community. :-)

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Wide Open Spaces


Can't believe we've been here in Maine for a week already. I think it does take some time to decompress, so being here for awhile has been good.

Yesterday we went to the Audubon Society Nature Preserve. We had a great hike, and then went to the Nature Center and just hung out for awhile. Then we had a picnic in a big, open field and watched the birds, squirrels, and chipmunks, and looked for more caterpillars (of course!) Days here are lazy, and lazy days are good!


After this hike, we toured Haven's Candy Factory in Portland, and bought the girls freshly made chocolates.

I know I keep talking about the food, and the truth is that when we get home, I am going to have to exercise some restraint in that department. But for now, I will enjoy the whoopie pies and lobster rolls, and hope that all the hiking we are doing will somehow balance it out! :-)


Monday, June 7, 2010

Dancing In The Rain


Yesterday it rained so hard again. We don't get a lot of weather in Los Angeles (unless you count 70 degrees and sunny as weather)...but here in Maine, we have been getting our fair share! Ginger is fascinated by the rain. Paprika wants to jump in the puddles and play outside even when it's pouring!

We spent the morning indoors just hanging out, and I got to sleep in (because I have been staying up too late, mostly taking care of Ginger, but also reading some books, which I hardly ever get to do at home!)


Mid-day we got out and went to The Stonyfield Cafe for lunch. Yum! It is a restaurant owned by the same people who own Stonyfield Farms (the yogurt), and it is so good and organic. I had to ask them if they have Coke (ha!), and of course they didn't and the waitress looked at me like I had two heads. So, I had iced tea. I am still working on letting go of Coke. One thing at a time, I guess.

After lunch we went to a children's consignment store and bought a bunch of stuff...I went a little crazy! I got lots of dresses for Ginger, and a dress for Paprika. All the dresses cost about $3/piece, so I felt justified! And Grandma Pat bought Paprika rain boots and a raincoat. She was so excited and had to wear those right away, of course!


After that Mr. Mustard and I went on a walk with Ginger while Paprika stayed home with Grandma and made lobster rolls for dinner. Everything was soooo wet from the rain, and we came back pretty soaked...but Ginger had a great nap in the Ergo while we walked.

Came home, had dinner, and watched Glee on Hulu. Ginger and Paprika even went to bed at a reasonable hour! Doesn't get any better than that! :-)

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Butterflies Are Free


The first thing we did yesterday was go to the Railroad Museum and ride a train from the early 1900s. The train goes up the coast along Casco Bay, and then half-way through the ride the train stops so you can get out and look around.

The girls had a grand time on the train ride. Ginger was even more excited by it than Paprika, and she kept trying to put her head out the window as we went zooming by the Bay!

Here is a pic of me, Paprika, and Ginger as we were about to board the train:


After our big adventure with the trains, we went for a long walk, and caught a bunch of butterflies.


We would catch them, look at them in the net (carefully), and then release them to go fly and be free. Paprika wanted to take each and every one of them home, but we didn't.

We did find another caterpillar for her to take home and put in her jar, and she keeps asking (every other minute), "When are my caterpillars going to change into butterflies?" The second night we were here, she stayed up all night watching her caterpillars, waiting for them to change into butterflies.


I don't think our walks together will ever grow old. Mr. Mustard and I used to walk these fields when we were engaged, and then when we were newlyweds. Such great memories! It's amazing being able to bring the kids here and have them enjoy such a wonderful place.


After our walk, we went back home and helped Grandma Pat cook dinner. Paprika had been looking forward all day to helping Grandma cook fresh lobster. One of Pat's friends has 30 lobster traps, and he gave us 6 lobsters to eat. Oh my!


The irony is not lost on me that we released all our butterflies, but we boiled lobsters for dinner. I don't quite know how to reconcile that, but I'm not gonna lie...the lobsters tasted really good!


Even Ginger had a bite! She is such an adventurous eater. Her first taste of lobster. Verdict? Dee-licious!