Sunday, 26 July 2015

The Squawk Box

Dear Pia and Rafa,

You guys are going a mile a minute. Neither one of you ever stops talking. I love it. Though I'm the first to admit it's boarder-line insanity in this house because we all talk, all the time, and none of us is in conversation with another.

Well, that's not fair. Pia, you have entire two-sided conversations complete with changing position on the floor to speak for the other 'person'... but they certainly don't involve Rafa and I.

And Rafa, since dropping you in the infant room at church generally doesn't go very well, you've grown accustomed to 'answering' the Reverend during his silences in his sermon each week. (Good thing there are a lot of older members of the congregation that appreciate and adore your youthful opinions on the matter.)

So I guess everyone talks to someone. Sort of. And I, well, I have you two (who I'm sure are always listening to me) so... I'm safe from the nut house.

Pia, you have become Peter Pan. You have your own house in the North Pole, where Milan (the Chinese Disney heroin, obviously) and Santa are your neighbours. Your husband, Rafa, teaches you everything you know. In fact, I can't tell you or show you anything at all because you've already seen/done/tasted/heard/touched/experienced it with your husband, Rafa.

I have never cooked you guys anything other than what we're all eating together. Some days you like it some days you don't, but you always try it. Lately, Pia, you have gotten picky about your food intake in a way only a three year old could muster. It's now become a game of who will win the dinner battle. You win = you go to bed empty stomach. We win = you had 5 parent-counted and massively-over-praised bites of food. I guess the reality is that no one wins unless you get the food you want. Today when we sat down to eat breakfast (a plain bagel with butter and a yogurt), you scowled at your plate and looked up at me to scold, "Mama! This yogurt is OFFLINE. This bagel is the only thing ONLINE." Yes, your eating habits are trying at best, but... you are unbelievably adorable.

You're so much fun outside of mealtime. You're always asking questions about space and astronauts, because you're going to be one some day. When you see something about the solar system, you say, "I can see that some day when I'm an astronaut" or "I'm going to teach people about that when I grow up and am an astronaut". When something goes wrong, you shout, "oh craters!", because your favourite tv show character Miles of Miles From Tomorrowland does that. You're also constantly looking things up on your 'watch' just like Mile's sister does on that show. If it were up to you, you'd stay home all day with Miles from Tomorrowland, but sometimes, I have to drag you into the sweltering sunshine.

Rafa, you like Miles From Tomorrowland too, I guess. If I can pull you down from whatever monstrosity you've decided to climb up this time. Usually, you work your way onto the table by climbing the chairs, or the sink by climbing the stool, and god-forbid I should leave the stair gate unlocked.

But, thankfully, mostly you just like whatever your sister likes. You only want to be awake when she is, you only want to play where she plays, and you only want to eat when she eats. I can't get you into the bath without a fight if Pia isn't in already and you'll raise a cacophony while refusing to eat until she joins you at the table.  I think it's safe to say you love each other. Very much.

And so do I.

I love you,


Saturday, 18 July 2015

It all started with a skateboard to the face

Dear Pia,

It all started with a skateboard to the face.

No, before that even. We didn't wake up right. We were all tired. Rafa couldn't stop moaning, and Pia, you were dragging your feet. I was doing both internally. Externally, I was pounding a cup of coffee and trying to pull us together to get out for bootcamp. The park always helps us set even our funniest days straight.

Somewhere in between getting out the door and getting out the gate... everything changed. We had made our very own skateboard swing in the front yard and while I was bringing in the bins blocking the car's path, you were getting whacked in the face with the skateboard.

You screamed. I screamed. We all screamed.

Then we went back inside to ice, sing to soothe (or soothe to sing, I can never really tell). So no bootcamp. Ok. How about ice cream at the Ritz? It wasn't looking too bad and you had recovered so bravely you deserved an extra fancy treat.

We took a lot of stares going into the Ritz, but you were happy with chocolate ice cream and m&ms.
Rafa was finally sleeping (briefly). We swam and played and ordered lunch. Then mid-way through lunch it happened: the lady next to you asked you what happened to your eye (with a gasp).

You broke.

Rafa broke out of sympathy to you (and lack of a proper nap).

I had to fight to take you home because you wanted to stay and play but you couldn't control your tears. Everyone needed sleep. And so we left: single mum with bashed up toddler and baby both hollering the place down. I wanted to join. I

At home we watched Miles from Tomorrowland on loop. With ice. All afternoon. But your eye was looking worse. Much worse.
I texted Auntie Ali for reassurance (I had already called the doctor) and we ended the day with pizza. I gave Papa some warning before he came home to this:

I think I fell asleep before you did.

I checked on you all through the night. Partially because I was worried, and partially because your baby brother woke screaming at least 5 times, giving me ample opportunity to lay awake in panic.

In the morning it had spread to your upper eye. The red lines had become a giant swell of bruise and your eye (though barely open at all) was filling with blood. Fast. I took you into the doctor as fast as I could without alarming you. You weren't phased and were so brave. Perhaps it was because you are Peter Pan today.

Rafa cried for you. First at the sight of the place, then at the sight of the doctor, then during your check up. Turns out he suffers from phantom skateboard bashing.

The doctor said you looked ok, but it was pretty severe and wanted a second opinion. He sent us to an eye specialist's ER. The number one in the nation. That ought to do it.

You went in there SO brave. I couldn't believe it. You answered questions, smiled, didn't even moan when they looked in your eyes. You shyly called out the pictures on the eye exam and beamed when you got them all right.

Rafa cried for you. First when we got there. Then when he saw the nurse. Then when he saw the doctor. Then when the other doctors came in... And through the entire exam.

You got to look through all the fancy machines ("Peter Pan's flying machine") and follow the lights ("Tinkerbelle"). And when all that was over and the doctors were talking, you ceased to be Peter Pan and were the kind and loving big sister I know you to be.

Even though Rafa was wailing so much out of sympathy I couldn't hold your hand through the second screening, you didn't mind. You followed the doctors and helped me sing Twinkle Twinkle to calm Rafa's nerves. Then you made up your own song for him. Because black eye or not, your beauty always shines through.

The doctors declared you perfect (as we know you are) and you asked if we could please go home and play now. 

So we did. 

I love you more than you could ever know.


Tuesday, 7 July 2015

One the eve of your 1st birthday

Dear Rafa,

Tomorrow you will turn one. I don't know how you did it, but I blinked and you grew from a tiny bundle to the grinning boy you are today. When you become a parent, everyone warns you that this will happen. I've started saying, "they grow so fast" for people I meet on the street just so I don't have to hear it again. But I never really understood it... Until now.

You grew so fast.
While I was sleeping*...
You learned, mastered, and ruled the thumb holding walk.
You learned to stand in surfer position all on your own.
You started repeating words after we say them. "Niy niy" very clearly, sometimes it almost sounds like you say "light", "hot" and "up" too
You grew four teeth across the top of your mouth and two more at the bottom. 
You became a meat-atarian who plows through his bowl of food looking for scraps of meat, polishing them first before squealing for more despite there still being a bowl of (meatless) food in front of you.
You discovered that pointing will get you taken to where you want to be and fed what you want to jam into your mouth next.
You've taken the opposite path as your sister-in-flux and chosen to require stability and routine in your life (read: naps and FOOD).
You've weaned from breast-feeding to bottles of formula, though you're still not convinced about cows milk.
You learned to pre-empt the silly things we do with a fit of giggles, like before my raspberries even reach your belly.
You discovered the stairs and have made it your life goal to get up them all the time, anytime...and if that fails, sticking your hands in the loo is a close second.
You've mastered spontaneous cuddles that make the receiver melt on impact.
And you've realised how amazing your sister is, how amazing all her toys are and how you need whatever it is she has.

It has been an amazing ride with you Rafa. You are so loving and happy and inquisitive and I can't wait to watch you grow. 

From now on I'm sleeping with my eyes open.

I love you,

(*otherwise known as cooking or cleaning or answering to one of your sisters' countless requests)

Happy Fourth of July!

Dear Pia and Rafa,

Can you believe that this time last year you were days from becoming the family we are today? 
I am so thankful to share this world with you both. I love that with Rafa, we get to experience everything for the first time... Again.
And also with you.
Though, Rafa, you may need a second take on the fireworks. You were perplexed. Your big sister on the other hand...
Happy Fourth of July (round two in America)! 

I love you,


Tuesday, 30 June 2015


Dear Pia and Rafa, 

We had a very exciting visitor the past few weeks and you could not have been happier. Neither could I. Finally someone would tip the vote to the beach!! Lily arrived early one Sunday. Rafa, you and I met her at the airport while Pia and Papa went to church. We met Lily with a big hug. And as usual, Lily returned the love all day long. 
We tried to hit the beach everyday, but morning were usually slow going. Mostly because we learned that you are a much happier baby when you've had a proper morning nap Rafa. (Poor bootcamp!) But I don't think anyone was complaining. Pia, you played happily with Lilers for a few minutes before ending up in the pool. 
We made it our mission to discover all the beaches of Miami that we'd yet to explore. South Point is a definite favourite. (The jetski handles and blower are from a little girl's picnic, not litter from the beach, I promise.)
I read about a pop up drive in cinema right here in the grove and convinced Lily to come with me. They were playing the original Jurassic Park, which she'd never had the pleasure of seeing. We stuffed our faces with sour gummies and watched from the boot of the volvo, and try as I might, I couldn't spook Lily into screaming even when the velociraptors were in the kitchen. All this while you both slept safely, dinosaur free, at home. 
Papa was babysitting... maybe the sleeping part didn't go quite so well.  But you were definitely dinosaur free.
Later we practiced re-use, by making good use of the left over candy. By making nerd-pretzels. Obviously.
 And you both followed the game by pulling rafa's old moses basket out of the garage.

 In that same spirit, Pia, you were finding good uses for everything. The world is your jungle gym, the stairs your climbing wall, the table your bouldering field, and Rafa's chair your pull up bar.
 Fathers day was fast approaching so we took Lily out to South Miami. The same place you decorated a very special box we picked up to surprise Papa. You wanted to ensure it was filled with chocolate coins for him. So it was. Magic.
 On Fathers Day, we took papa on a walk through the grove collecting coffee along the way and ending up at Cars and Cigars, the annual event at the Barnacle. Papa was excited to see all the classics and we were excited by the craft table. Rafa, you drooled along with Papa while he walked the rows of showpieces. We all thought Opa would have fit in well here. We were missing him!
 Pia, you wrote Apple all by yourself as I spelled it for you and it made me proud. You are getting to be such a big girl.
 We surprised Papa with a hand rolled cigar for the walk home. I think he liked it, and I know he deserved it.
 Then, thinking of Opa, we tried to face time him. We didn't get him that time, but your excitement to talk to him is amazing. This is just you waiting...
 We put Papa to work after all that fun and he manned the BBQ. Rafa, you ate all your food and then, as is your new hobby, you reached over and stole everything you could from your sister's plate before we stopped you. Then you grabbed a brat from the middle of the table and used it to hold us off while you jammed more food in your mouth.
 Then, things got back to business. Lily and I got creative with the rest of the candy while you two were sleeping. We made ice cream sausages that were delicious.
 And gummy sausages that were... um... like this:
 We pulled out your old playhouse and Rafa loves it as much as you do Pia. When you let him in it that is.
 When Papa had another weekend off, we dragged him to Jungle Island to watch Rafa while Lily and I took you to the giant floating water park. It was a lot of fun and I'm only a little embarrassed that an 8 year old had to show me how to jump off the 50ft iceberg. Papa and Rafa held up a shady spot on the beach.
 And then raised the white flag when it was time for naps. I guess you were ready too.
This is what Lily's showing in that picture... slightly photoshopped, but only because we were much too busy for real pictures. 
 We explored Lincoln road one day. Because I'd read there was a Paul there... PAUL!! Our favourite french coffee shop/boulangerie. It wasn't quite the same as I remember, but you both enjoyed the mini croissants and Rafa, you couldn't take your eyes off the waiter with the row of gold teeth. And he couldn't stop talking to you. So there's that.
 It's ok, we made up for it by hitting up The Frieze. An ice cream shop off Lincoln Road I've heard loads about. For good reason it turns out. It also offered a nice air conditioned nap for Rafa. (That's my excuse.)
After all the swimming we'd been doing (you are sometimes in the pool by 8am and always by 10), Pia, you started complaining that your ear was hurting you, so we took you in to see the doc. You have good and bad days at the doctor. Sometimes you're brave the whole go and sometimes you cry at the sight of the patients room. This wasn't one of your best days and because your baby brother does everything you do, he cried his head off right along with you.
 Doctor said you had a little infection, but it wasn't bad and so suggested we wait it out. We did. And that just meant we could wait it out a bit in the sand instead of the waves. That's ok too.

 I love all these guys.
Back at home, we made new use of Pia's old scooter, which Rafa loves and Pia, you allow... barely.
 Then we finally brought Lilers to the ice cream place we'd been going on about all week long. It's called Whip n' Dip and it's amazing. Not just because there's fish while you wait.
 Not just because they have rainbow snowdrops and blue ice cream, but becuase they also have peanut butter cookie ice cream. That's right.
 Rafa, you're too young for ice cream, so I didn't get you one. You didn't like that plan and so decided to take matters into your own hands. You tickled your sister until she relented.
 Then stole her ice cream.
 And refused to let go until she gave it up.
 We all dropped Lilers at the airport together. We already miss her. Obviously.
I love you,