Your mommy and daddy already love you very much.

We love you so much, in fact, we want to share our journey and the beginning of your amazing life with you, our friends, our families and any strangers who happen upon this blog.

Hi strangers, it's weird that you're reading this.

We have so much to learn from each other and we're so proud to be your parents. We have a lot of ground to cover, so let's get going littlest Chew...

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Eighteen (and a half) months of Mabel

At this point anyone who has ever read anything I have written knows there isn't much rhyme or reason behind what ends up on whatever sort of page I'm writing on.

Today I found myself with a free hour and I thought I'd try to get some Mabel blogging in. Jenna did a fantastic job recapping the 17 months and who Mabel has become as a little individual. Rereading her last letter to Mabel reminded me of how lucky we are to have such a great connection with our little bean. Everything Jenna wrote last month is still true, only some of it is bigger, brighter, louder and even more clear.

No two days with Mabel are ever the same. No matter how hard we try, she just constantly decides she's going to adjust on a day to day basis. One day she loves bananas and can neatly and cleanly carry it around and mow down the entire thing. The next day, bananas happen to be the most disgusting thing in the world, which needs to be proven by rubbing them all over anything and everything within reach.

The most helpful advancement in response to this is her massively accelerated communication style. Two word indications are still around, but more and more each day she's adding full phrases with proper emphasis and even opinion added in. Somethings saying things are "ew" is just funny for her, but she's rarely joking when she says "no fanks" or "no please" (she's sorta very polite). When she's in a good mood she's very articulate and will tell you exactly what she wants to do, where she wants to play, what she wants to eat and drink, or how involved she wants you to be in her activities. Sometimes she'll go full whine. When she goes full whine, she embraces it. She does this fake cry that is so forced it's almost funny. It's actually really funny until it gets frustrating because we know she can tell us what she wants and she just chooses not to. That mind of hers gets made up and it's not easy to change it.

These are the things I'm most thankful for. I  know it sounds crazy, but I am. She's becoming her own little
person. She knows what she likes and what she doesn't. She goes to the bookshelf and brings back the exact book she wants you to read. She fills in the blanks at her favorite parts and sings along with her favorite songs. Seeing her become comfortable in her environment is heart-breakingly joyful. I jealously love when she gets shy around new people. She nuzzles in as close as she ever gets and has a secret little smile while she's deciding if she is going to like this new friend. It's only a matter of time before she warms up to most people, but in the meantime Jenna and I get to be her safe spot. She knows she's safe and she knows love. Hearing her little voice say "I love you" is the best thing that's ever happened to anyone. Ever.

So, between almost 17 and 18 1/2 months not a ton has changed, but everything seems to be on overdrive. It's moving so fast and each day is something completely new and exciting. It just happens to be a new and exciting version of something that happened in the last few days. She keeps us guessing and keeps us on our toes because even though she's done it before, we never know when she's going to do what and what she's going to add to her little toddling toddler equation. I think she likes it that way. That sweet nuzzle and that secret smile warms your heart. It makes her feel protected and free to blow our minds in a new way each and every day. I think that's her plan to begin with. She's a sneaky little fox.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Seventeen months of Mabel

Dear Mabel,

It has been way too long since your Dad or I have sat down to write to you, telling you what you’re up to at this stage of your busy little life. Since it’s a rainy early afternoon and I can’t spend your nap time out in the gardens (or cleaning up the remnants of your Dad’s HUGE surprise garage tear down project…I hope you know that you have an amazing Father!), I decided it would be a good day to catch up on the neglected blog. I spent much of this morning observing you with the intent of capturing your personality and our day-to-day life with words in this entry. I know its not going to be easy because you are a complicated and busy little being, but I will try my best because I have a feeling that you’ll enjoy reading about your toddler self years from now.

At the tender age of (almost) 17 months, you are bursting with personality. Let me use some adjectives to explain this to you.


Curious. You’re so interested in the world around you. You are constantly on the go…playing, discovering, learning, fixing, doing, running, searching, digging, scooping, dumping, pretending, dismantling, locking,  building, putting, climbing, dancing, singing, stacking, noticing, drawing, looking, listening and chatting…constantly chatting! Which brings me to…

Communicative. In all my years of early childhood education, I’ve never seen a toddler as talkative as you. It’s frighteningly impressive and as much as your parents would like to take sole credit for teaching you and working with you every single day, I think so much of it comes from your personality. You have so much to say and you want to be heard. You understand the world and you love to share your new connections with us. Your communication has allowed us to understand each other so much better. You narrate your day for us, giving us glimpses into your thoughts. You’re now able to tell us your needs; when you’re hungry you say “eat”, when you’re thirsty, you tell us “wa-wa”, when you want to be picked up you say “hold you”, when you’re frustrated with something you say “help you” and when you’ve had enough you say “all done”.  You being able to tell us your needs has transformed our job as parents. Of course we still play the “What does Mabel want” guessing game but you’re so capable of identifying and relaying your needs that that game has become much simpler. We can ask you complex questions and we can feel pretty confident that your response aligns with what you truly want. We can have REAL dialog that helps us navigate our days better than ever before.  But don’t let me mislead you; even though you have so many words to tell us what you need, want and how you feel, you can still be very…

Whiney. In my years as a nanny, I was warned by parents that I would one day experience the torture that is toddler whining. When parents would lovingly complain about their whiney child(ren), I would look at them in disbelief. Their children were always sweet little angels for me, never irrationally whiney like they claimed they witnessed. But boy, am I relating now! I can only hope that you save all of your whining for your parents because you know that we will love you unconditionally regardless of the unnecessary bellyaching. You also say “no” a lot. Even when you mean “yeah”.  Sometimes its cute, other times its not so cute. I am a very patient parent, Mabel, but I hope this whiney, “no” phase ends soon because it sure is testing!   But enough about your less than redeeming qualities …Because there are so many other characteristics that describe you more fully.  Like that you are so…

Thoughtful.  I could think of so many examples of caring things that you do but a few in particular come to mind. On our recent trip to see our Arago friends (Jess, Robby and Gabriella) in Orlando, you developed an adorable friendship with 18 month old Ella. Every morning when you woke up, the first thing you said was “Eh-yah!”… then you followed with “Chess!” “Ya-beee!” and doggy “Mo-gan!”. You were genuinely excited to wake up and see them and would get the biggest smile when you did! And any time you saw Ella’s favorite blanket laying alone, you would bring it to her because you knew she loved it. When you did, she would reply “take-you!” and you would say “fanks!” back to her. Actually, you’re very great at delivering items to their owners. If your Dad’s shoes are by the door instead of on his feet, you are sure to bring them to him (and demand he wears them) because you’re sure that he’s missing out by only wearing socks! And when we checked our bag at the airport, it made you so upset to watch the man wheel away our luggage. How dare he take our belongings! It’s these little actions that show me how much you understand and are taking in, all the time. You’re always watching and you’re already learning and understanding what makes others’ happy. That type of awareness is going to be useful throughout your life. Going along with your thoughtfulness is your ability to be very…

Sweet. I say “ability” because you aren’t pure sugar. But you have many, many moments that could make even the hardest of people melt. Like yesterday morning, when your Dad left for work and you yelled through the window “mich you! (miss you)” over and over until I had to take you outside to say goodbye again. Or when your Dad comes home at the end of the day and you run to him with a huge smile and give him a hug. Or when I ask you for a snuggle and you say “nuggle” and rest your head on my shoulder. Or when I get you out of bed in the morning and you say “Hiiii, Mama!” or when  we tell you we love you and you say “yav ya” back to us and tell us “nigh’, nigh’” at bedtime. All the whining in the world could never take away how happy it makes us to see the sweet person you are growing to be.  Speaking of growing, you’re also becoming incredibly…

Independent. You love to do things your self. We try to encourage and foster your independence as much as possible, …because we are realists and know that we’re not always going to be there to help you. We take the approach “If she’s going to keep doing (this unsafe thing), let’s teach her the safe way to do it.” So, you now can walk down stairs alone. It’s scary, I know.  But we taught you to hold the railing and go slowly. You listened and watched while we showed you and then you practiced until you mastered it. The same happened with climbing on to and off of the couch.  You’re beginning to develop a cautionary fear of heights, which has thankfully made you much more careful in your independence. You’re also a master utensil user. You poke single black beans and have picked up single grains of rice with chopsticks. You should be proud because I didn’t learn to use chopsticks until I met your Dad! You love to feed yourself and we can see a sense of accomplishment when you scoop a big mouthful of food. It’s quite adorable. You also love independent reading time. One of my favorite times is when you’re in another room and the house goes quiet and when I go to check on you, you’re sitting next to the bookcase reading.  It’s so precious to see and I hope you continue to love your books. While on the topic of reading, I should add that your attention span when it comes to listening to stories has increased drastically. Our 3 books bedtime routine takes much longer now that you’re demanding full length Dr. Seuss books and boycotting the short Sandra Boynton board books! But the day you become too independent to enjoy listening to us read to you will be a sad day and I must admit, as much as we love your independence, it sometimes leads you to being a bit…

Naughty. You’re mischievous! Sometimes in a very funny way. For example, you love keys (did I say love? …LOVE!) and you’re pretty good at spotting them out (hanging up or in the diaper bag). And when you get your hands on some, you almost instantly go for the lock buttons, which makes the car beep over and over. When you do this, I feel compelled to take them from you as a way of sparing our neighbors and neighborhood dogs from the noise. But you’ve figured this out and you know that when the beeping starts, I’m going to be in the room within seconds. So what do you do when you hear me? You RUN! And laugh and laugh. Because you’re actually pretty fast and it usually takes me a few seconds to do a lap around the house to catch you!... Other times you do purposefully naughty tricks, like feed Daisy your dinner over your highchair. (Daisy and you have become BEST friends!) Or sometimes you ask for a specific food (that you typically love) just to chew it up and spit it out in hopes of catching my attention. And when I calmly tell you that what you’re doing is a little naughty you say “Naunny Mama!”  (Naughty Mama!) and laugh! And sometimes we laugh too because at the end of the day, you are a toddler…a little unpredictable person who learns more in a day than I do in a week. You are wild, dramatic, silly, free-spirited, loveable and carefree and you are…



Ten Months of Mabel

...And what a month it has been.

So, currently, at this very moment, on the 10 month anniversary of her birth, our little bean has a fever and is cuddling with her Momma. It's awful. She also almost definitely got whatever she has from me, since I'm trying to get over a cold myself, so that makes me feel even worse. Long story short, sick baby is the saddest thing in the history of history, but she's still adorable.

This last month has been all about leaps and bounds. Sometimes literally. She is getting very brave with her standing. She is always up and about and has taken to letting go and just standing there and hanging out. When she is particularly brave she not only lets go, but throws herself toward wherever she is going. We're going to have a walker on our hands before we know it.

The biggest leap has been with language. She has been mimicking sounds and responding to certain cues for a while (Cow says... mmmmmm, doggies pant and grunt, froggies open their mouth over and over), but her first confirmed word is also her new favorite toy. She recognizes, says, and has so much fun with the word "ball". This happens to have been her cousin Elijah's first word four and a half years ago as well.

Signing has come a long way too. Milk (milky as we say) and please are regulars. A lot of her new language comes from a new adoration with books. She used to just rip them off the shelves because it was fun, but now she rips them off the shelves, brings them over to us and makes us read the same books over and over again. It's the best. She tries to turn the pages sometimes, but just as often that turns into trying to rip the pages out.

The balance hasn't been easy this last month. Jenna is insanely busy with school and work combo and I seem to never stop being busy at work. They're great problems to have, we know. It's moving so quickly and she's getting so big. She's the best baby and I think she knows it. She always seems to smile and get excited at just the right time. She really loves us... which I know isn't a big deal, it's our baby and we give her so much love, so of course she will love us back, but it feels like a big deal. She is this little thing and she is excited about seeing us and about new experiences and about life. She loves her friends (she plays with the baby Jenna nannies for and gives him kisses), she loves her family, and gets so excited to see people.

Two more months until the big birthday... we'll be doing something, but who knows what that is. We'll keep you posted.