After a whirlwind month*, we spend the final weekend of your summer in Chicago. It's the city your mama and Papa met in and it still holds all the romance and charm it once did. I think you'd agree because our friends Cat Monkey, Uncle Lamby and Bennett were amazing hosts. They made sure we'd all enjoy ourselves so we couldn't wait to come back. I think they may live to regret being SO accommodating. I won't!
After a late night flight made even later with delays, we were very excited to wake up in their lovely new apartment. (Though the plane cud-pud wasn't bad either.)
We took off first thing for the newest family park in Chicago- Maggie Daley Park. Basically Disneyland sans the empty wallet and licensing and right in the middle of downtown Chicago. We had so much fun running up and down the hills and through the mazes and around the jungle gyms. Mostly it was Pia as Rafa, you slept soundly in your stroller as Lupe, Bennett's nanny who joined us with her son for the excursion, kindly pushed you along.
After all that playing, we took the token photo at the bean on our way to meet Uncle Lamby for lunch at the Park City Grill. (You were all on your best behaviour despite the fancy white table cloths.)
Bennett is on a solid schedule for naptime, which meant we would book home for naps after lunch each day. Due to hefty travel through August, the two of you are far from scheduled... on anything. Rather than fight it, we decided to roll with it. Rafa, you took your naps as and when needed by pram and Pia, you went down when you were tired and didn't if we had better things to do... like eat really good ice cream.
And after Bennett woke up, we went right back to playing. Yes this happened:
And thankfully some of this:
We explored the Lakeview parks and are feeling pretty jealous of their water features and a little less jealous of their crowdedness.
After all, we're the kind of people that just like to lay low sometimes.
But we're also the kind of people that are always up for a visit to the zoo, especially when you can see Cat Monkeys with THE Cat Monkey there. Pia, you were so excited to see a real live Cat Monkey that we had to do it twice. (It was my fault. I was so confused when I didn't see a sign that said 'cat monkey' that I didn't make a big enough deal about it. See, I remembered there to be an actual sign that said Cat Monkey the way I remembered the catamaran holiday-someday mama will fill you in-but the zoo was so clueless of the priceless treasure they had, they didnt even have that sign. Next time I think we will make it for them.)
We even played at being adults for awhile with a lovely dinner with Cat Chris and Nana while you both slept soundly with Lupe watching over you. And the very next day, we met Monkey and her friends for appetisers on her birthday. Which meant I got to see a few old friends of my own!
On the way home, Papa and I had two different flights leaving just a few minutes apart. Or so it seemed. Pia, you and I had the same ticket so we let Papa take Rafa on his flight. Papa and Rafa took off while you and I waited and waited for our flight to be delayed again and again. Well, sort of we waited, but mostly we just played in the Children's Museum at O'hare airport. Even I had fun. You were elated.
Reason number 562 why we love Chicago and everyone there. I know I miss them already, and I'm pretty sure you both do too.
You both have had major mile stones this week. Pia, you have learned to swim. You started going in without the floaties at Sanny's house, and this week, you made it all the way across our pool (granted it's more like hot tub size), all by yourself.
Rafa, you took your very first step this week. We were all playing in the library and you were standing next to me. Pia was playing on the ride-on truck, which was just out of reach for cruising. So you stepped forward all on your own. As soon as it happened, you looked around a little bit confused and dropped down to the floor. I squealed with delight, which Pia soon joined in after learning that you were walking to her in your very first step!
Since then, you've not bothered at all and then yesterday, without thinking, you took two steps. Again, once you realised you were walking without holding on and dropped to the ground looking confused. I'm excited to see you walking, but I don't mind if you want to take your time. I love you just the way you are and (let me say this clearly so you don't forget) there is no rush on growing.
The rest of this week, we just goofed around. Rafa, you tried on Papa's new hotel gear and approved.
Pia, you tried on the puppy-dog costume your Auntie Ali sent over after you saw your black eye in the mirror and declared, "I look like a puppy dog!"
Then my little puppy dog got fancy for church as usual and posed for a beautiful photo (not-so-usual).
Rafa, you climbed new things... as usual.
Pia, you usually tell your brother off, when he's not doing what he's supposed to. Sometimes you even tell me off, like the other day; it went something like this: "is that flower on your back a tattoo?" "urm, yes." "uh oh." (a nervous giggle from me. contemplative silence from you.) "does it come off when it dries?" "no." "papa is going to be so cross. You better not tell papa it's there."
And sometimes, you even tell Rafa off when he's not doing anything wrong at all. "Rafa is my husband. Now get over here and clean up!"
We laughed (how can we not?). We played, we beached,
and once we drank coconuts... because we can.
On Friday, we had an extra special visit from Mama's old Chicago friend. We hung with her at the pool for a bit before taking her back to our place for pizza. It was so nice to see an old friend and it was pretty good to eat that HUGE pizza.
On the morning of your first birthday, we lifted you out of your crib with a song. You just stared at us, but the moment we walked downstairs into Sanny's kitchen, you abandoned any eye contact with us for the giant Spiderman piñata. Your big sister found it in Target the week before and insisted you have a Spiderman birthday...despite neither one of you knowing who Spiderman is. Being the good host that she is, Sanny jumped right on board with the theme adding balloons, color-coordinated wrapping, and a giant stuffed 'spidey' to the mix. (Who you unfortunately loved as much if not more than the piñata.)
You were well chuffed with your balloons too.
Something your sister and you have in common I guess. You may remember this from 9 months ago:
We slowly made our way through the presents. You opened this ride-on truck first and were so excited to help your Papa make it. You wanted to be right on top of the action.
Finally, you were.
You were pretty good scooting around on your own, but your Big Sister was a very good helper too. You guys make a great team.
We spent the day in Sanny and Pop Pop's brand new lanai. It is amazing. And with Sanny and Gram there with us, we didn't even mind when the skies opened up to pour buckets down on the swimming pool. We just watched from our seats under the roof...outside. By dinner time, we finished off the presents and opened up an extra fancy bottle of champagne to celebrate. (That's playing it down a bit, the bottle was SO fancy, and I was beside myself at my luck of getting to share it with Sanny... for days.)
Pia helped present the cake she made you.
Sanny and I put down our very fancy glasses of champagne to show you how to blow the candle out.
Despite it's colour and fancy shape (that is really just a sure sign this cake has been touched a lot prior to decorating), I think you enjoyed yourself on your birthday.
I definitely did.
We arrived at Sanny's house the night prior to your birthday and departed just a few days later completely relaxed. It felt like we'd just gone on a proper holiday even though it was only a short drive across Alligator alley. Maybe it was the luxury surrounds, the good company, the relaxed atmosphere of retirees... maybe it was that fancy bottle of champagne. Probably it had something to do with Sanny taking such good care of us, and most likely a mix of all of it. However it happened, we left Sanny's feeling like we just spent the weekend in a five star resort in the tropics and it was exactly what we all needed: sun, fun and a loving family.
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.
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).
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.