Our Em

At this moment, Em is 16 months + 1 week old.  Jax will be 3 in just seven short weeks. To my immense disbelief and dismay, my babies are no longer babies.  They are little people, whose needs are still met by me but not in the same way.  Not in a nourishing her from my own body kind of way.  Not in a only-have-eyes-for-me kind of way.  I am here but so is the big, wide word.  I am their mama and they love me, but it is clear sometimes that this is their world and I am just existing in their universe.  They are in the driver’s seat.

Look at my Em.

I wish I wasn’t neurotic about potential baby kidnappers so I could share with you her full name in all its magnificent glory.  It’s so her; she embodies it and wears it well.  A good friend of mine is knee-deep in the baby name quagmire and I am envious.  I used to play the board game of “Life” just so I could fill up my cars with little peg people and give them the most awesome names I could think of like Tiffany and Stephanie.  Miss Em has such a wonderful name that if I were ever lucky enough to have another girl, I think I’d be stressed that I wouldn’t like her name as much.  Or maybe it’s just that this little girl seems to be incomparable.

Em is in that amazing stage where connections are being made daily.  New words are flying out of her mouth, like “bus” and “Papa.”  She nods instead of just trying to convey her desires with her eyes.  She not only signs “more” but also says it (in her own garbled way).  She wants to read all day, whereas six months ago it was a battle.  She worships her brother but can also hold her own against him now.  She’s becoming her own person, and watching her grow is a pleasure.

She’s all girl, but at the same time, so not.  She is braver than me in some ways: saddling right up to a toad and poking it with interest.  Digging around in the shallow ocean water for periwinkles and minnows and God knows what else.  Fascinated by all creatures, especially the caterpillars, in Maine.  She belongs in the outdoors, and I’m just going to have to learn to keep up with her.  She’s already beyond me.

Another thing she picked up in Maine: the perfect goodnight snuggle.  She slept in a room with a big full-sized bed; every night when I put her to bed, I’d bring four of five books in and we’d lay side-by-side with our heads on the pillow, reading whichever book she chose.  Sometimes she chose one and then pointed to her pack ‘n play, telling me she’d had enough and it was time for bed.  She’d toss the remainders in her crib for later and then I’d stand at the foot of the big bed, and she’d pad over in her pajamas and “jump” up for me to hold her.  Immediately, she’d put her head right in the special nook of my collar bone, putting her Blankie between her cheek and my shirt, and close her eyes.  I would rock her and sing her anything that popped in my head, with my hands cradling her diapered baby butt and my cheek against her still-wet hair.  And when I’d put her down, not once did she cry.  She just looked at me, sucked on her Binkie, and watched me walk out the door.  Trusting me to come back.  To be there if she needed me.  And I always was.  We all were and are.

She’s darling.  She’s amazing and perfect.  She’s a little like each of us, her brother, her daddy, and me.  Yet, she’s herself.  She’s perfectly her.

She heard me when I said the shell wasn’t for eating.  But she had to give it a try anyway.  Just to be sure.

She’s perfect and caring and bright.  She’s clingy and loving and stubborn.  She is a delight, in all her complexity.  She’s an excellent sharer and lives to make her brother happy.  Her kindness gets me every time.

We didn’t know how much we need her until she was here.

Our beautiful, amazing Em.

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Would you believe that we’re back in our home?  Tomorrow I will tell you the story, but for now, here is a photo of the aftermath of Hurricane/Tropical Storm Irene on the covered bridge in Quechee, Vermont.

Now, up to sleep in my own bed.  More than I could have hoped for.

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We’re In Love. Get Over It.

Friday was JDubbs’s and my fourth wedding anniversary.  We didn’t do anything elaborate, but when you have two kids under three and the younger littlin’ just got three teeth at the same time (including one molar), getting out to dinner a mile and a half away is a blessing and as much a present as we could ask for.

I didn’t bring my camera.  We turned our phones to vibrate and didn’t ask the waiter to take our picture.  So on the way out, wearing my brand new big city jeans and over-the-top high heels (because where the hell else am I going to wear them?), we took a few photos to someday remind our kids that both of their parents were once attractive and that their mother did not, in fact, always wear capri sweatpants and actually did take the time to flat-iron her hair.  Rarely.  JDubbs was thrilled.

As annoying as my shutterbug-ness may be, I want to capture the physical us at this age and this stage, when our kids are too young to remember but we’re young and vibrant and energized and happy.  I know that they will know that we love them and each other more than anything in the world, but you know those pictures of your parents from when they were young and in love?  You know you love ’em, and I want to make sure we take them, just in case our kids love ’em, too.

We ate dinner at a spot we always mean to go to but always overlook, even though we could have literally walked home (though definitely not in those shoes!).  The food was fine and the wine was great, but the brilliance was in the details.  The perfect summer temperature–not too hot, not too cool, with a slight breeze and ceiling fans as we sat on the porch outside.  The perfect time of day–the sunset reflecting off people’s wine glasses and the way it cast a golden halo around the diners’ heads made me itch to capture it with a camera.  Twilight as it fell.  More wine.  Great conversation.  Laughing.

What set the evening apart from other dinners out was a little book that I thought we had lost; it would have been catastrophic had that been the case (and not only because our passports were tucked inside).  We couldn’t find it for three years, and then I stumbled upon it in a place where I had looked a dozen times.  The travel journal we kept while on our honeymoon.  The one that catalogs every day, meal, adventure, disaster, discovery, serendipitous left turn or fortuitos right that made our honeymoon cruise of the Greek Isles, Croatia, Turkey, and Italy the unbelievable and ideal honeymoon.  We didn’t write it in religiously every day; just when we had a moment before dinner, after drinks, by the pool, on the airplane home.  The Acropolis in Athens.  The guided tour of the walls of Dubrovnik.  Taking the bus and finding the perfect beach in Mykonos.  The private boat we rented around Capri, from which we leapt and swam through the Green Grotto.  The name of the serenader in our gondola in Venice.  The details, all there.  In our words.  Irreplaceable.

At first we weren’t going to read it, but it was a delightful way to pass the evening.  We read some with cocktails, some after our salads.  Some after our entrees and while we were considering dessert.  Some with our last drink before they started shutting off the lights.

Being the English major, I was the one who did the lion’s share of the writing, although I let him do Turkey because I just didn’t love it and didn’t have much to say other than “went to Turkey.”  But on my pages JDubbs commented on almost every one, leaving a detail I forgot or a smart-ass remark or just his two cents that yes, the gyro he got for less than two euros from a street vendor in Santorini really was the best meal of the trip.  And what was funny was that I would be reading it aloud to him, and he would interject with a comment or remark, and I would look down and the same words were written by him four years ago in the margin.  The trip was that amazing.   Completely imprinted on our brains.

The best part of my evening was when, similarly, I was making fun of something he wrote to find the same comment, written verbatim by me, on the opposite page.  It was so funny that I bust out laughing and yes, maybe I was kind of loud.  It was the way that he said it which was so him, plus the way I critiqued it which was so me, and just the hilarity of reading it again four years later that got me going.  Yes, I was loud.  Yes, this was a swanky place, made obvious by the fact that there was a retired member of the New England Patriots sitting directly behind me, and I got a few disgruntled looks from a grumpy table across from us.

I stifled my laugh and held up the journal and said, “It’s our anniversary,” by way of explanation.  I received no knowing looks of, “Oh, well, then. By all means, carry on.”  Nope, still glaring, so I continued,  “We’re reading our journal from our honeymoon.”  Me, gesturing with the journal.  Still nothing from the peanut gallery.   I continue.  “It’s hilarious.  We’re—” And I just cut off because it was obvious that they were neither amused nor forgiving.  And to that I said to JDubbs, “It’s our anniversary. We’re in love.  Get over it.”  So we carried on and they continued to grumble and we toasted to our happiness and didn’t give them a second thought.

Happy Anniversary, JDubbs!  I hope we are still as much in love and embarrassing ourselves in public for years to come!

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