Saturday, August 31, 2013

Them - Right Now

It is amazing what good sleep can do for a girl (me).  Mia seems to have gotten over the hump of bad sleep, and thus, we are all sleeping better.  After an amazing work win at the beginning of the month, I enjoyed a couple of weeks of being mostly at home, and it was awesome.  I cannot tell you how many times this month (or how many times a day) I look at one of my girls and think, "I want to memorize every single thing about her.  About us.  About this.  About our right now."  I do.  I want to drink them up and memorize everything about them, just as they are right now.  So perfectly right now. 
Sammie is still (as she has been for over a year now) obsessed with princesses.  Every single day, at some point, she requests to dress like a princess.  And we let her.  Any time she earns a reward for something, and gets to pick, she generally requests a new princess dress.  She wears one every day, and most days, there are costume changes.  She is in costume about 80% of the time.  And I absolutely love that about her.  At therapy, at home, out shopping, sleeping, it doesn't matter.  The girl likes to be in costume.  I've written before about how Sammie B is shy, and how we often feel like lack of confidence holds her back,  . . . but we notice when she's in costume, she's bolder, louder, more confident.  I adore her imagination.  I adore that even though 70% of the time she insists on a princess or fairy costume, she also loves the doctor, vet, police officer, and chef costumes we've bought, and once dressed up, immediately goes into role (as a doctor, "What seems to be the problem?" she asks. Oh Sammie!).  When we went to Disneyland, she asked to take her entire trunk full of princess dress-up clothes because she knew the princesses there would like to see them.  We let her take two and she had a tough time choosing (ultimately, Minnie and Cinderella).  

When not wearing a costume, she wants to be wearing a dress. Every day.  And, she wants Mia wearing a dress.  And me.  And if I pick out shorts for Sammie but a dress for Mia?  Or shorts for her and a dress for me?  Much disappointment ("But I really, really want to wear a dress too!")  I've gotten good at finding leggings and shorts to go under dresses so that we can still go to PT in attire she approves of and feels good in.  She's my girl, there's no question. Mia is not yet into playing dress up, and Sammie so, so wants her to be.  She was so disappointed when Mia refused to wear her Minnie dress to Disneyland.  When we buy new princess dresses, she always picks one for Mia but we can rarely get Mia to wear one, so Sammie usually ends up with both of the new dresses (and as I type this, I'm thinking . . . hmmmmmmm . . . . well executed, Sammie B!).  

Sammie is also obsessed with happy meals.  "Plain hamburger, nothing on it, nothing in it!"  She answers "hamburger happy meal" absolutely any time we ask her what she wants for a meal, and I'm ashamed to say, we probably give in far more than we should.  But whatever.  We've amassed an insane amount of the smurfs they are giving out with happy meals in the last month, and Sam loves them (she also loved the movie).  She sleeps with about 12 of them every night, and as she's falling asleep, she makes them talk to each other. (Prior to the smurf collection, she made her two Doras and Diego talk, and every night before bed, she said, "I'm going to make "Dora, Dora and Diego talk!")  B and I often sit with the monitor, listening at night, and just laugh and laugh.  The other night, this is what we heard the smurfs say:

I have a great idea!!
What's your idea?!
Maybe tomorrow we can all go on a picnic!
Yes, that would be very, very fun!
And maybe we could swim in a river!
That is a very fun idea!
I want to go on a boat ride. 
Maybe we can find a boat.  That is a very, very fun idea!

The thing is, during the day, Sammie will NOT make the smurfs or any of her other characters talk to each other in front of us -- other than maybe saying hi, but she demands that we make the characters talk (all day).  At night though, in the dark of her room, she makes them talk and talk and talk, and we fall in love with her over and over and over again listening to the conversations and her ideas.  

We've gotten to spend several full days together this month, just me and Sammie.  We've mostly been running from appointment to appointment, but I've been amazed by how grown up she suddenly is. She tells me she "really, really" wants things and how she's going to do something "forever and ever and ever" and she makes "promises" and the other day even used the word "otherwise" correctly.  She asked me for permission to do something one afternoon and I said no, and then she waited and asked B later when I wasn't around and he said yes, and she immediately said, "yay!  dada said 'yes' and I cannot wait to tell mama!"  When she's happy, the joy spreads throughout her entire body.  She radiates with a joyful glee that I cannot get enough of.  As our conversations become more and more grown up, I am so keenly aware that time is passing too quickly, and those are the moments I really, really wish I could just bottle it all up. Memorize every detail. 

I am completely and totally in awe of Sammie B.  Everything about her.  I was born to be her mother. 

So very, very Sammie.  

Radiating Joy. 

Her happiest of places.  

Fearless Sammie B after just (literally) marching across this river/falls with her daddy's help.  Sometimes, it takes two.  Screaming with joy and glee all the way across.  
And then there's my littlest girl.  I wrote to Mia after her first birthday describing how Mia just did everything big, and she still is. Doing life in big, big Mia way.  She's got big personality, gives big loves, throws big fits. She has blessed us and challenged us in so many new and funny ways.  She loves Dora and Strawberry Shortcake ("Berry cake!") and her big sister.  She repeats after Sammie all the time, and when Sammie wakes up in the morning after Mia or after nap, Mia greets her with such enthusiasm it is as if they've been apart for weeks ("Nammie! Nammie!" Nammie!  Mantha! Nammie B!" all while running to her sister to hug her.  Truly, the best).  She's the most independent little thing I've ever seen and loses her cool if we dare do something for her that she'd wanted to do for herself.  Getting her into the car seat each morning is always a challenge ("my do it! my do it!") and I try, try, try to be patient while waiting for her to buckle herself in her car seat.  Because if I don't let her . . . well then there's a big Mia fit to contend with.  And if I do let her buckle herself, she does (eventually) and then her proud smile and "I do it!" most definitely make it worth the wait.  

With all her independence, she has this delightfully timid side too. The second we go some place new or a new person approaches her, she slows down, reaches for mine or B's hand, and proceeds with caution.  I love that about her.  Love it.  I also love that she's started calling B by his first name, and the look of defeat on his face when she does so is equally endearing.

Mia's love for our dog ("Dude") knows no bounds.  If he's in the room, she wants to be with him, even though he'd prefer that not to be the case.  We are trying so hard to help her understand that Dude doesn't want to be touched all the time, and it breaks her heart when he doesn't want her love.  When he "warns" her (as we say) with a little grumpy growl, she starts patting him and saying "it's okay Dude buddy, it's okay."  She wants him to follow her everywhere, and is always saying "Come on, buddy!" When she has something she's proud of, she always shows each one of us, including Dude.  ("Look, Mama, it's a ____.  Look, Dada (or B-------), it's a ____! Look Nammie, it's a ____!  Look, Dude, it's a _____.")   Poor Dude has been a fabulous sport, even though he's getting older and would rather be left alone most of the time (though he gets paid for his patience in dropped food and little faces to lick).   

In an absolutely classic Mia story, last week, we were outside on the patio eating dinner, with the back door open.  Mia walked into the house, and I followed.  But just as I was about to walk in, she turned around, slammed the door, and locked it.  And then, did this:

I looked at B and said, "she just locked the door."  Somehow, I stayed calm, while B tried to talk her into unlocking the door (she tried, but said, "it's stuck!" (it was not)).  Fortunately, she stayed in the den where we could see her, and she stayed calm (she started getting out toys and sat down and played).  I called a locksmith while B went to work trying to get in a window . . . locksmith was only 15 minutes away so we weren't too freaked out, then B managed to get in a window so the entire crisis lasted under 20 minutes . . . and provided us with a funny story we'll remember forever.  The entire time, Sammie was laughing and asking "whose going to get us in the house?!"  When I told the story a few days later, Sammie chimed in "you were freaking out!" . . . and to add insult to injury, Mia pooped in her pants while we were outside, so when we came in, we also had to change her.  Good story.  

Mia is an amazing little sister to Sammie, an amazing little girl to have as our littlest.  She has charisma and charm and so much more. She too is growing up way too fast and even though it just keeps getting more and more fun, I wish I could stop time just for a little while and memorize every detail of her right now. Everything about her.  

I am completely and totally in awe of my Mia.  Everything about her.  I was born to be her mother.  
Possibly the cover of her first album?  Funny hair day at day care; she was not thrilled with her pink hair nor amused by me with the camera.  This is Mia doing "irritated" in her big, big Mia way.  

This is at my dear friend Melissa's birthday party.  Mia doing party girl in her big, big Mia way.  

Little timid at the beach.  The closest we could get her to go to the water was about 15 feet away . . . 

Mia's famous messy tresses.  We do brush her hair.  Almost every day.  
We aren't great about taking videos.  We take tons of pictures, but rarely print them.  I have loads of pictures on my phone, on the computer and even more etched in my mind.  I want to memorize them.  Fifty years from now, I want to be able to recall their voices, their giggles, their mannerisms.  Just as they are right now.

I am in awe of them.  I was born to be their mother. 

Sammie B-approved outfits for all of us!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Our Nights

Just as work finally eased up and I was looking so, so forward to catching up on sleep, sleep "issues" fell upon us.  I don't know what's going on, really, but Mia is having a hard time going to sleep at night and is waking up at least once a night screaming and the only thing that soothes her is laying with me or B.  We've been playing a lot of musical beds around here. 

This is all complicated by the fact that when we moved into our new house, we decided to let the girls share a room (at Sammie B's request).  All was sweet and cute with the shared pink & purple room (also Sammie's request) for months . . . . we would listen over the monitor to Sammie tell her sister what to do at bed time with such authority ("Do NOT stand up in your bed.  Lay down.  Right now! Right Now Mia!") and we'd giggle . . . but then sleep issues.  Suddenly, the shared room seemed like not such a perfect idea.  

There were a couple of nights where Mia was screaming until 10 pm and then screaming again at 4 am and Sammie would yell "NO crying Mia, NO CRYING!" with such tired desperation (I felt her pain!) that I felt terrible for her.  I talked to Sammie about showing compassion and not getting so mad because something was bothering Mia, and the next time Mia woke screaming, I laid in bed and listened over the monitor as Sammie whispered to her sister, "it's okay, Mia.  I'm right here.  It's okay."   Often, one of us would go in and get Mia, and the other one of us would lay with Sam in her bed.  But then . . . Sammie B was waking up in the mornings with dark circles under her eyes.  Because of all the wake ups, she wasn't getting enough sleep, and she often has therapies in the mornings.  So, for now, we have a certain almost-five-year-old sleeping in our bed, which allows her to get the zzzzzs she needs, and allows me to go to Mia during the night when she gets up without Sammie waking (or B, seems like everyone is winning here except mama!).   

On top of these sleep issues, I'm finding myself falling into a tailspin of anxiety lately . . . . for many reasons, some little, some not so little.  Thinking about this coming school year, hoping we've made the best decision for Sammie's school (disappointed neither of the charter schools happened for us), anxious about some new "experts" we hope to add to Team Sammie B this year to help us figure out how to best set her up for success in school (more on all of this to come), anxiety about whether I'm giving each girl enough of me, always wishing there was more of me, more patience, more time, more everything.  Feeling like life is whizzing by at warp speed, and that there's all these things we should be doing now (or yesterday or last month) (like potty training).  I just wish that life would slow down.  I wish I could catch my breath.  I wish there were less things to feel like we "should" be doing that we just aren't getting to, or that we aren't getting to give "enough" to.    

In the midst of all this craziness, the sleep issues, the anxiety -- there are actually moments when both of the girls are sleeping, moments I peek in at them and watch them breathe . . . and suddenly all feels right with my world.  As if time is standing still, and the world (and my heart) is overcome with nothing but calm and peace. 

Oh these two.  They own my heart in a way I never knew possible.  They are my heart.   

Sunday, August 11, 2013

The Most Magical Place . . .

Work has been . . . intense this summer, to say the least.  I've worked (much, much) more than part-time, but I've now finally got a reprieve.  Finally, finally.   Time to breathe, blog, and just be . . . 

Remember how I promised Sammie B we'd take her to Disneyland after her intensive therapy?  Well, we did.  And, I booked the trip sometime after being stuck in a conference room for 20 hours straight working on a motion.  What better time to book a trip than when you are working on zero sleep, missing your family like crazy, and dreaming of a little mini-vacay?  I knew I had to have something big to look forward to, and I knew my girl deserved a big weekend after her three weeks of intensive therapy.  So, I booked a weekend I might not have otherwise booked, and we went big.  It was so, so worth it.  We stayed in one of the Disney resort hotels, we did the two-day two park hopper passes, and we had an absolute blast.   It was so, so nice to sneak back to the hotel each afternoon for a family nap, to wake up and say "Who wants to go back to Disney?" and have two little girls squealing "Me me me!"  It was  

It was a full weekend of celebrating and family and it was everything, everything we all needed.  

At California Adventure
Meeting Merida -- one of my favorite parts of this trip is that while Sammie B has long been character and princess-obsessed, this time, Mia was really into it -- both LOVED seeing the princesses, Minnie, Mickey, and all the characters.  (Sammie was so disappointed that Mia refused to wear her Minnie costume).   
Hotel pool/splash pad
Water show at California Adventure while we waited for lunch with the princesses
Downtown Disney - Classic Mia face
One of the 40 inches and up rides :o) she was too short for this one in December.  They also rode the really fast Cars ride and Sam loved it.  After they got off, B said, "that was so fast!  It was like a roller coaster, and Sammie said, "no, it was just a ride."   
She didn't pick the ride, and didn't want to ride it (Mia picked) so we told her you don't have to look then, so she didn't.  (Except check out that peep hole!).   
Mesmerized during the parade
Best part about mini-vacations?  Snuggling with my girls till 10 am! 
So much fun!
There's no one on earth I'd rather spend a weekend with than these three . . . . no one.   Just tonight, after B spent the day out with Sammie B (a date to see a princess puppet show) and I spent the day with just Mia (something we are still trying to do nearly every weekend, giving each girl one-on-one time with one of us; Mia and I went to the park and out to lunch), I told B, "I love my one-on-one time with each of them, but there's something about the four of us coming back together at the end of the day that just feels perfect."  And it did.  As I scrambled in the kitchen to throw dinner together (with Mia whining at my legs saying "hold you hold you hold you") and B out at the grill on the patio, with Sammie B scootching around, collecting rocks (her favorite thing these days), everything felt so blissfully chaotic and wonderful.   I love a weekend.  Love it. Especially the non-office kind.   

And of all the weekends this summer, our Disney weekend was definitely my favorite.   We didn't get to take a "real" vacation away this summer, but have had a few little weekend trips (and a time still for maybe one more before Sammie B starts back to school on September 9!).    

Time seems to be moving at warp speed, and I want to soak in these amazing family moments.  If there was a way to memorize every second of these days, every moment with my two littles, I would. They are both magical.