Wednesday, 17 December 2014

From Papa

To Pia & Rafa,

As I sit here in the sunshine having my coffee reflecting on the past six months. Pia, you are currently having your first taste of Montessori school, while Rafa is with mama in boot camp.

I can't even begin to describe the emotional roller coaster that I have felt with relocating here, welcoming Rafa into the world and opening another hotel.

The only thing that I can wholeheartedly say is that your mama is the glue and foundation of this family and I am so in awe of what she does and how she does things.

As you both grow older you will see what I am talking about.

Love the three of you.


Sunday, 14 December 2014

My Big Girl

Dear Pia,

Sometimes, I wonder who is the teacher and who is the pupil amongst us. You grow wiser everyday. And it seems, at least by your words, I grow crazier. 

When you want to do something you know you shouldn't...
"I'm going to do this... And you have to be calm ok mama?"

In a tickle fest...
"Be careful with me, I'm only a little girl!"

When I try to get baby brother to roll over...
"Oh mama, he's only a baby!"

And you're wise. We were watching a cooking show together when you suddenly exclaimed...

"Mama! They're eating chicken feet!l "Yes?" "That's gross!!"

Now how do you know that's gross? Especially considering from your intonation you'd clearly never seen or contemplated such a thing before. I had to go into lengthy explanation of how in some parts of the world, chicken feet is like...chicken nuggets (I left the bit out that your chicken nuggets probably contain chicken feet in this part of the world too-well save that for later in life.).

You're getting clever. I hope you don't grow out my silly. 

Nope, we're good.

I love you,


Christmas Poms

Dear Pia,

I had other things in mind for these pom Poms, but your plan is much more fun.

 I love you,


Saturday, 6 December 2014

5 Months

Dear Rafa,

You turn five months in a couple days. I'm having a hard time grasping that so much time has gone by. You've grown miles in the past few weeks. With all the chaos of family visits and the holidays, I sometimes fail to stop and contemplate the changes happening in you. But every few days, when I'm holding you close, it bewilders me how you've grown.

You're smiling all the time, you giggle, you grab toys (so you can shove them in your mouth), and you're even grabbing at the food I'm trying to shove in my own mouth. I guess we'll have to start feeding you soon. But not too soon. You seem to be doing just fine one breastmilk, because the doctor weighed you in at a whopping 16 lbs 18 oz and measured you at 26.5 inches. You're huge in my book, but you're still following that 50th and 75th percentile respectively. You're filling every inch of your 6-9 month clothes, which is crazy, because your big sister wore them until she was 2. Amazing what an American diet of candy corn and mountain dew can do for, I mean, greens and protein.

You're interacting all the time. You catch yourself in the mirror of the lift and open your mouth wide for a huge smile, which is always infectious. You still aren't the biggest fan of tummy time, but you're lasting longer and longer now that you've figured out how to worm your way this way and that. I saw you pick your whole tummy off the ground a few times and you definitely like to roll to your sides. It's your sleeping position. Side + thumb and your good to go. We haven't used the swing or pacifier in awhile and they might just be over.

You are most temperamental about your sleep. If you are not in your own bed, we already have issues. Travelling is not your forte as you're a schedule kind of guy. I nearly went out of my head after waking every hour of the night while we were at Sanny's house. A breakdown later and we ran home, where you slept fine. Since then, we've gotten smarter. And then I had to learn that you like your own bed all over again when I tried to keep you in mine while OpaGigi were here the past week.  (Old dog to tricks and all that.) I eventually kicked them out of your room so you could have your bed back. Two sleepless nights make Mama crazy-and you too. Back in your own bed- you've slept through the night ever since. You're also starting to take regular LONG naps in the afternoon, which is a life changer. What a few hours and a nights rest will do for the soul!

But my favourite thing of all, is when your big sister makes you giggle out loud. Which happens almost every day. We are blessed.

I love you,


The Grinch's Friendly Manner

Dear Pia,

It all started with the Grinch. We were reading the book and as usual these days you interrupted my reading to tell me your own story. Yours involved "a selfish man talking in a friendly manner". Despite that being adorable, it was clearly time to take a break from our stories and talk about what it means to be selfish and what it means to talk in a friendly manner. I won't give you the whole discussion (because, let's face it, it's hard to track a discussion between myself and a three year old), but after awhile, we got on the subject of being happy.

"What makes you happy?" I asked. You laid next to me with a contemplative look, but remained silent. "How about Mama, Papa and Rafa? Do we make you happy?" I fished. At first you didn't respond. Then...

You turned to me with a face bright as the sun in the sky and exclaimed, "opa gigi! They make me happy!"

And so clearly we had a good week with OpaGigi. You were Opa's girl going to meetings and generally wherever Opa was going.

You were Gigi's girl in play and rest.

As always, they are sorely missed!

I love you,


Friday, 5 December 2014

With Love from OpaGigi

Dear Pia and Rafa,

We just spent 5 lovely days with the two of you in your home in Coral Gables. You both have grown so much since the last time we were together which was only a couple of months ago. Pia, you are now potty trained which allows you to participate in some big sister activities like your gym class.

Rafa is certainly not potty trained and had at least one experience which would have made your Uncle Jack proud while Gigi had to give you a bath afterwards. And you like your cousin, Bryn, you seemed to grow while we were there. And lots of smiles

One evening we took you, Pia to a meeting and you were the perfect lady playing with the artsy stuff your thoughtful mom always has ready for you to keep you engaged. At the end of the meeting when we all abruptly stood to close with the Lord's prayer you piped up immediately thinking we were getting up to go; "Don't forget to grab my stuff".

It happens the next day Opa said to Gigi he was going to a meeting to which you volunteered, " I can go to a meeting and I'm fun" while running to your room to get your shoes. So cute.  You sat on my lap on a couch laying back drawing when you whispered "Opa" to which I said "yes" and you said "I love you".

You are such a giving person which is really evident with your little brother and when you are around smaller children at the playground. We think that with all the love directed your way, starting with your parents, that you feel it and can give it back to those around you. It's one of the things that makes you so special.

You had your routine with Gigi and her make up which you have enjoyed since you were only one. Gigi likes it for all the obvious reasons plus it reminds her of when she was a little girl and she did the same with her aunt.

And you got your nails done red with sparkles.

And of course there is the silliness in you... you and I were in Winn Dixie the last night (which when I asked if you wanted to go you told me it was your favorite store) looking for some Pelligrino. We were searching for the right department when we came upon what I thought was a good prospect only to discover it was all wine and beer. I said it's only boozy booze and turned the cart to continue our search. You thought that was the funniest thing. Full out laughter ensued to ours and other shoppers delight as you repeated it and kept asking what's that word again.

We love you all and can't wait until Christmas to see you in Charleston.



Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Visiting Tara

Dear Pia,

This morning when you woke me up (cos that's how we do), I asked you, "guess what today is?" And without skipping a beat, you exclaimed: "we're going to see Tara!" 

Actually I was going to tell you it was the second day of December and show you the second prize in the advent calendar we set up yesterday, but you're right, this is better.

After Gymboree we jumped in the car for the "40 minute" drive to "have lunch with Tara". An hour and a half later we all got out of the car with hearts racing and hair on end. Rafa screamed his heart out nearly the last hour of that drive. It was horrible. Ask any of us.

Somewhere in there we gave up on a chance at a normal lunch and settled for a pizza at Tara's apartment. Rafa calmed down once we were out of the babies do. For the record, neither of you can ever claim to be good car travelers... But we'll get you there.

After we all calmed down a bit, we walked. General consensus was that we weren't getting back in that car until all kids were safely sleeping-even if all Pia did was sing to her disgruntled baby brother when his screaming woke her from her nap. 

Tara showed us the Christmas tree carved out of sand in downtown WPB. Some debate and it turns out it really is just made of sand and water.

Really soft white sand. The kind of sand that makes a three year old command four adults to stand inside a giant stick-drawn circle to watch a show of running in circles...and they do it.
After a bit of running (ok a lot of running in circles), we broke for ice cream at a really cool parlour where the loos have magic smokey doors. But even that didn't top the peanut butter swirl with chocolate covered pretzel ice cream.
It was so good, it put this guy out like a light.

And yes, we grabbed dinner and killed hours until it was bedtime and safe to drive again. So far so good, and I think it's worth it all for this:

I love you both,


Monday, 1 December 2014

Home Again and the Miami Book Fair

Dear Pia & Rafa,

It was pretty good to be home again after all that time away, even though we missed your Sanny, Auntie Ali and Cousin Bryn. We definitely were thankful for sleep again. Rafa went right to bed and has slept the night through. He wakes just once a night now and it's AMAZING. Refreshed and revived, we got to business making this place a home again. First stop the grocery store, which Pia insisted in bringing her own trolley to.

Then we went about keeping ourselves busy so we wouldn't miss all the fun we were having with our family too much. That started with the Science Museum.
 Rafa fell asleep somwhere around the carbon molecule building station...
 And didn't even wake up when these giant pythons were in his midst...Which actually made for a fun visit because Pia and I got to play the day away. We learned all about fossils by looking at them in the light machine and even making them ourselves in playdough.
 But it's always best to have Rafa awake and home with us too.
 Especially now that he's growing up. He reads his touch and feel book on my lap and even finds the textures sometimes, though he's always a bit disgruntled when they don't end up in his mouth.
 Since Papa was still working long hours, we started getting all ready for bed prior to dinner in hopes we could share a dinner date with him. It works and Pia is becoming a very good table setter, always with beautiful candles special for Papa.
 In the morning we headed out early for the Miami International Book Fair. Pia walked and Rafa rode along in his Roo Pouch-both excited for the day ahead.

 And it was exciting. When we found the kids corner, we got a bookmark passport with six spaces for a sticker. Each tent had differnt activities from crafts to painting to story telling to plays to music to science experiments to hands on learning. It was the first time Pia was old enough to actually enjoy this kind of thing and we made it to all six tents and then some!

 In the middle we stopped for a snack near the park and the stage. Pia was feeling pretty adventurous because she went right over to have her face painted...for the very first time!

 And then she showed the college students what a good tooth brusher she was for a free toothbrush!
 Rafu played his part too when he squawked his way through the music tent.
 Some characters were more exciting than others...
 With six tents of activities, Pia won two free books and called it quits.
 Besides, she couldnt wait to get hoe and tell this guy all about it:

I love you guys,


Sunday, 30 November 2014


Dear Pia and Rafa, 

We made sure to have lots of ice cream from the Royal Scoop while in Naples with Auntie Ali and Bryn. Pia was getting pretty clever with her choices by the end of the week. The green one with sprinkle dipped ice cream cone was the biggest hit... especially to her t-shirt. 

 Towards the end of the week, Rafa stopped sleeping very well and it was starting to take its toll on  me. Still, we always knew that Papa was up and kicking at 5:30 am so we tried unsuccessfully to do the FaceTime thing.

 Pia was getting very comfortable with her cousin and focused her smothering, I mean attention, elsewhere. Rafa thanks you Bryn.

Auntie Ali worked on and off which meant that the three kids, Sanny and I had our own adventures. Though sometimes Pia had adventures all her own.

Pia started a photo wish list of all the things she wants from Santa. Chocolate coins was pretty high on that list.
 And then Auntie Ali left for a work trip and Uncle Crunchy celebrated his birthday with us. Pia was good enough to pick out a special package of stickers for him, just like she did for Sanny.
 Bryner got him some bank schwag from the conference at the Ritz the week before. Clearly taking after her Opa at a young age. Though I think you'll let him down if you dont put a box of Russell Stover under the tree at Christmas, Bryn.
 While Uncle Crunchy went golfing for his birthday, we celebrated with pizza and Gram.
 It was a hectic day with Rafa crying his eyes out all morning long and Mama exhausted from lack of sleep so we were thankful to make it home at all much less in time for dinner with the boys. That meant that instead of the special dinner Sanny had planned for Uncle Crunchy's birthday, we were happy to get away with Indian take away. After all the rice had been consumed, Pia turned to me at the table and exclaimed in a wide-eyed-desperate whisper:

"Mama! We forgot the CAKE!!"

Of course she was right, so we scooped her up and ran to the kitchen to prepare a doughnut with a candle inside for him. Phew.

Because, let's face it, we were never short of doughnuts that week.

I think it was the very next day (after yet another sleepless night) that I threw my hands up and cried Uncle. Papa had finally checked out of the hotel and headed home and we needed his cuddles, and some sleep, to get us back to normal. I think he needed us too. We drove home at nap time. Rafa cried most of the way. I felt like joining him, but we made it. And Miami never felt so good.

 I love you guys,