Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Hispanic Heritage Festival

Dear Pia,

You may remember the day you got Rafa ready to go all on your own. Well that day we went to the library and ended up passing another festival (there are a lot of festivals in this city-which is another reason why we love it). So the day that started like this....

Ended like this...

When we saw Coral Way was blocked off with tents everywhere we headed in. I packed Rafa up in the sling as he likes to see what's going on around him more and more. I don't blame him.

Pia saw the bouncy slide and ran for it. You followed the other kids and took off your shoes at the base and just barreled up. That's you climbing on the right.

You'd never done anything like that befor and even has a tendency to shy away from bouncy houses, so I was so proud to see you so brave. When you got to the top you waited patiently to come down, but the big kids were monopolizing the slide by refusing to use the stairs to come back up. So you waited. There was one boy in particular who was really rough and was clearly scaring you. You hugged the back wall, moved forward when he went away, and ran back to the wall when he climbed back up. I was doing my best to let you work it out, because all in all I think you really wanted to try it for yourself. Eventually another father screamed at the boy until he and his friends were pulled off the slide. Then you were kinda frozen but two girls held your hands and slid down with you.

I thought that kind of bravery deserved a special treat. Your fav.
Rafa, who was screaming while you were on top of the slide (he has impeccable timing), was all cheered up by the shade of the tree under which you devoured roasted corn.
 And after, you wanted to run right back up the slide. You got there and then saw all the big kids there again, to which you hopped right back off and asked to go home. Ok with me.

I love you,


Monkey Big Monkey Small

Dear Pia,

Monkey and Bennett arrived just a day after Uncle Pumpkin and Cousin Zac-y left. By this time you were in full visitor mode and couldn't wait to welcome your new friends. You adopted Bennett as your own with kisses and head cuddles. 

We got Monkey and Bennett right into our regular schedule of daily ice creams. 

But managed some solid food at times too. You guys needed it after all that running back and forth. Bennett is such a big baby in comparison to Rafa (5 months will do that!) that couldn't help but squeal at the sight of him on two legs. 

Big baby or not, this guy is the cutest sleeper ever.

We headed to the beach again. This time we didn't have any boys to schlepp our big pram on the sand, but we managed it. Rafa was much calmer this round and everyone had a good time while it lasted. (Which is never very long)

We headed out for some Cuban food, which means all different things to each of us. A normal cuban would eat meaty greasy mess. I get fried bananas and creole with cheese.
To you, Cuban food is rice. Sans pinto negro. (We learned that the hard way.)

One morning we went out for a walk to have a coffee with one of Monkey's friends that lives local and happened upon an International Film Festival for kids. 

You got your very first 'face painting' ...on your arm.
Then, in desperate need of a nap, you stood comatose watching the singing and dancing. Even you knew you were due a nap, but you couldn't peel your eyes away. Eventually the performers dragged you into the show, but still you stood and stared; No reaction when the songs were sung to "pia" and the dancers swung you round.
The next day you and Papa went back for a special father-daughter date. You watched the Kids Mix movie, a mix of short international films for kids. It was your first movie in a movie theatre and Papa knew how to do it right...con pop corn.

The weekend was a lot of fun. Three kids under three is quite the party wherever you go. Make way!! And I thought I had my hands full...

I'm so happy you will all grow up together and be a part of each other's lives. Your Auntie Monkey has been an amazing friend to me and we're pretty lucky to have her around. My guess is with those genes, we'll be pretty lucky to have Bennett around too. 

And finally, somewhere in there Monkey snapped this. I like this photo because I think it was the last day off Papa had, or will have, for a long time. 

We love him loads.


I love you,


The Pumpkins-extended edition

You Dear Pia and Rafa,

You guys had a lovely weekend with Uncle Pumpkin and Cousin "Zac-y". Of course, it was weeks ago by now, but this Mama has been chasing her tail the best I can for the past month while Papa opens his next hotel. And so, here you have it:

We picked the Pumpkins up at Fort Lauderdale airport. When the 11 year old entered the car with a venti "coffee" in hand, we knew we were in for it. You both, of course, loved him from the minute you set your eyes on him. 

And who wouldn't?

Somewhere in the flurry of the day, Pia's dress up wardrobe and my china cabinet were both raided for one very entertaining tea party. I did my part.
"Zac-y" did his.

And Pia... was utterly confused but wasn't going to say no to free reign on a platter of cookies

We made it to the beach day two. It was long enough to hire a tent, have Rafa scream the place down and get in and out of the ocean in two quick dips. Then we cooled off in Starbucks before heading out to try "Sugar" at Cousin Lily's recommendation. 
Zac and I ordered a fishbowl with sharks swimming in unidentified blue sugary liquid that was oozing smoke onto the table. It was delightful, but Pia wasn't having any part in it. Thankfully, Rafa got his share later on in his milk. We wouldn't want him to miss out.

When Papa joined us at the music-bumping, high-back-leather-sofa-hosting venue, he and Uncle Pumpkin pulled the plug. They dragged us to the more refined mid-beach where we had pop overs and Uncle Pumpkin displayed his true age.

Somewhere in between more tea parties, some home redecoration (Zac is brilliant at interior design), and the incessant squawking about Kim Kardashian's life in my ear (Zac'a less favourable characteristic...not that Pia minded as long as he made you pretty in the pink dress first) we made it to the Cuban bakery we've heard so much about. Rafa cuddled Uncle Pumpkin while we were in charge of ordering. Of course with my sweet tooth leading the way we came out with all sugar bombs (not one of them good) and none of the actual Cuban delicacies a normal person would order at such a place. But all were happy anyway.

And we ensured there was ice cream every day. Half to celebrate poppers to ensure Lily wasn't feeling left out back in CT and half because, well, that's just the way we do. 

And when the final evening came and Zac had converted the kitchen to a creative workshop for Pia's new "window treatments", Rafa just got on with things. He even managed to find his thumb. 

Zac-y managed to take this:
And make this:
All for $30 at Party City. This kid's got talent. I think you're going to continue to have lots of fun with him as you all grow.

I love you,


Saturday, 25 October 2014

Ready steady go

Dear Rafa,

Today your sister got you ready to go.

There are hidden necklaces dangling under the boa. Your face says it all.

I love you,


Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Good Morning Pia

Dear Pia, 

You may not get to see much of your Papa these days, but he definitely loves you.

I love you,


Thursday, 16 October 2014

Uncle Pumpkin and Cousin Zac

Dear Pia and Rafa,

We had an amazing time with Uncle Pumpkin and Cousin Zac. Everyone is exhausted and our next round of visitors come today (I know that because Pia woke up this morning and shouted, "mama!! Today is the day Monkey and Bennett come!") so this sampling of the past long weekend wil have to do for now.

Just know you both enjoyed yourselves and have been sleeping ever since.

I love you,

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Your Minutes in Seconds

Dear Pia and Rafa,

In the event that you should one day look back upon these letters thinking, "what on earth was I doing all those free minutes?" and then wonder, "what would it look like all sped up?"... I have the answer.

60 seconds of Rafa at 3 months

60 seconds of Pia at 3 years (except this is actually your normal speed)

I love you,


Monday, 6 October 2014

Weekend ... Finally!

Dear Pia & Rafa,

After Pia's birthday, we took Sanny & Pop Pop to look at a home in Coral Gables. While we toured about, you entertained each other.

After deciding it wasn't right for us (or more like, that we didn't want the headache of moving again after just getting here!), we headed back home. You guys all piled in on your Sanny for some love.
Then Rafa went down for a nap and woke up a bit grumbly. Pia cured him of his grumbles with her magical hair.
Later, Sanny and PopPop went off to the airport for their next stop on the Autumn world tour, this time to Argentina. Pia waited for Papa to come home while practicing her snipping skills. Since getting these slippers from Alabama for her birthday, she hasn't taken them off. Apparently they even trump the princess costumes.
Since it was the weekend, we started a new tradition of film night. Papa set up the movie on our wall and we all jumped onto our king size (this is America, we can do that) bed for a bedtime movie. Really that means Mama and Rafa fell asleep before they movie started, and Pia and Papa watched Tinkerbelle.
On Saturday, papa worked in the morning, but we decided to meet him in the afternoon for an adventure. Pia insisted on wearing her "fairy dress" to Jungle Island. And since she dressed herself and it was actually prefecly adorable, I agreed.
By the time we got to jungle Island, you were both asleep, so we packed you into the pram anyway and went exploring. We nearly walked the whole park before you both started to stir. And even then, it was partially due to us stopping for a wild adventure show. Pia and Rafa both got their moment of stardom when Dr Wasabbi singled them out in the audience for being cute, duh.

Later, Pia spotted this Flamingo and exclaimed, "we're both wearing pink!"

When we got home, we put Pia's birthday present of cooking stuff from Wisco to work. M&M cookie cups.
And after a full day around the house (we thought we'd give Rafa a break from the heat for once since there seems to be a correlation between his grumbly moods and time spent outdoors). Rafa and Papa caught up on some cuddles on the sofa. 

And after late nights with movies twice in a row, Pia called it quits right in my arms. I didn't complain. Lord knows I love a good old fashioned cud pud.

But clearly, you guys do it best of all.

I love you,

Aurora and the Playground Bully

Dear Pia,

Today you were Aurora even out of the house. It made it very easy to get you to run errands with me. You have successfully learned to use the big potty while we're out and about, so we spent an extended day discovering the Coral Gables Youth Centre. Everyone has been telling us about this place since we got here, so we were long overdue a checkout. It was pretty cool. 

There is a whole gymnastics studio, gym for every type of sport, cooking studio, dance studio, even a crafts workshop... And you know how mummy feels about that!

After we'd finished touring about the kids rooms and soft play zones, we headed outside to the playground. The local prep academy had just dropped a group of after school kids and they were running around the playground happily when we got there. You joined right in despite them being twice your age. I was trying to play it cool and let you do your thing, so Rafa and I hung out in the shade.

I heard you telling a boy, "I'm just Aurora!" And then sulking a bit as he ran off. I thought you were just being silly, but then to each child that came near, you said, "I'm just Aurora" both shy and brave all at the same time. None of the older kids responded to you. But one ran off and told his friends, "that little girl in the princess dress is Aurora."

I chuckled at the stimulating conversations you were stirring up and carried on minding Rafa in the shade. When he started to fuss, I went to tell you it was time to go. It was weird that you came right away (your normal reaction would be to run the opposite way) when I said we were going home. You came down the stairs and said, "Mama, the boy called me 'ugly girl'".

And then it all made sense. He must have done it early on and all that time you were trying to tell them you were Aurora, it was to correct him. You are Aurora, not ugly. You are not so young that you didn't understand what he said and it clearly hurt your feelings. When you told me in all your stunned innocence about the boy on the playground, I wanted to cry. That horrible rotten child picking on my sweet little princess. But I managed to choke back a tear and tell you not to mind the little boy, he was probably feeling ugly inside and that made him act that way. Then I followed you with Rafa as you walked the kerb all the way back to the car. I held on a little extra before putting you in your car seat. 

You told me all about how the boy at the playground called you ugly on the way home. He made you feel bad, you said. I told you again and again never to mind such silly boys and that you are beautiful inside and out. But the truth is that he hurt my feelings too. I know I have to teach you to fight your own battles on the playground, but I wanted so much to scoop you up and whisk you away to safety. Those words hurt because they were like a symbol of what's to come. An innocence I'm not ready to loose. Now that you're three, you're showing your independence more and more each day. There will always be playground bullies, and I won't ways be right there to tell you you're beautiful. But you are. No matter what they say or do-you are my little angel and I will be here for you when you chin up and walk away.

I love you,


Sunday, 5 October 2014


Dear Rafa,

We decided today that it would be highly unlikely you will grow up to speak like an average american. We think it much more likely you will only ever be able to respond to people with your own special language that will go something like this:

(Any unsuspecting) Person: how are you Rafa?
Rafa: ah-doobie-doo-doo-woo
Person: um, are you ok?
Rafa: ah-loo-loo-wee-la-woo

And so on.

You can thank your sister for this fine lingual-expertise later. She, who has already dubbed you "rafuuuuu", works hard to teach you this fine art of speaking day and night by shoving her puckered lips into your cheek and making the sounds noted above.

Somehow it always gets a smile out of you. And me, because though my mind tells me the whole thing is rather odd, I can't help my gut from chuckling.

Despite all of this, you are thriving. You rolled over from your front to back this week and when I chucked it off as a freak incident, you did it again and again to prove me wrong.

You are so content and happy; even now I am amazed at how you are just happy to sit in the swing and watch us cook or happily listen to the very long stories your sister and I read to you. This week, SkipHop sent an activity gym, which is another favourite spot to hang already. Unfortunately your sister is loving it too, which makes the whole experience a little less calm, but I'm sure this will pass. When she's not in your face, you definitely prefer the elephant and stare at him for minutes on end. If I move him, you find him. You're a clever clogs like that. 

Your big sister just turned 3, but you're turning 3 months soon. A milestone for you both. I can already feel that my little smush is growing into a real live baby.  I have no idea where the past three months have gone-the idea of you being so old overwhelms me. I want to reach out and hold back the clock hands from moving so this moment stays long enough for me to just get my head around it and yet the hours, days, weeks just keep running loops around us. I wonder if I'll ever catch up. 

Just know, that no matter how fast you grow, I will always be loving you from the top of my head to the tips of my toes. And know that I'm doing the best that I can to show you that every single day.

I love you,


Saturday, 4 October 2014

Pia's Magic Kingdom Day 2

Dear Pia,

Magic Kingdom started day two just like this. Perfection.
Which must have been what we needed to get our heads screwed on straight and learn how to "follow the signs" because day 2 we parked like the rest of the world and took the ferry to the park.

We got in early and didnt have fast pass bookings till the afternoon so we strolled through bits of the park that weren't part of Fantasyland for once. I showed you the Tikki Tikki Tikki Tikki Tikki Room,
And you met Aladdin and Princess Jasmine (though not very willingly, you wanted to wait for them, but once they showed up and you were first in the queue, you declared you wouldn't be seeing them)...

Then Rapunzel spotted her tower and we knew things were looking up in the world.

When we met Rapunzel, she was perfect. You guys jabbered on the way girls do, touching on all the important subjects: hair
And boys... Oops! Sorry papa!