May 30, 2012

My little girl

See that little girl toddling around in the ladybug bathing suit?

She's getting to be pretty definitively a little girl these days, but kissable hints of babyishness still remain; those (long!) chubby legs, the cuddly way she lays her head in my lap when she's tired, her enduring love for her "ba ba." But she can say "ba ba" now, when she wants one. That's new.

She has an all-encompassing passion for cats. She chases her cat friends around and around the house, grabbing onto their tails with a little vise grip. She has learned to make the "tsk tsk" sound to call them over to her. She greets them when she sees them: "Hi, Cat!"

She can identify every cat in every one of her books. She has also learned the sound a pig makes and tries to imitate it, making a kind of coughing sound because she doesn't know yet how to snort the way mama does. She loves books with peekaboo flaps and lifts them so enthusiastically that she accidentally tears them off and we find them stuck to our feet days later.

She waves wildly to everybody she meets and isn't content if they don't wave back. I have a secret love in my heart for everybody who does. She has learned about babies, and she loves to see them. "Bee bee!" she cries, when she sees one in its mother's arms at the splashground, or in a picture, or on TV.

She loves to watch videos of herself as a baby on the laptop. She kneels and puts her face close to the screen to watch, scrutinizing every detail, as though there is going to be a test.

She is good at giving kisses. Sometimes she will lay them on thick in a string of five or six open-mouthed busses: "A-WAH! A-WAH! A-WAH!" Sometimes she shakes her head no, smiling because she knows she's teasing and she likes being in on the joke. Some people only warrant a blown kiss, a little chubby hand that flies to her mouth and lingers there, because, yes, hands are still delicious.

She's a funny little girl, who loves to laugh, who gets angry because the ice cubes from my drink are too cold to hold but she doesn't want to put them down, who finds a soft pillow on the floor and lays down to drink her bottle in peace and comfort. She points to things that she finds novel or interesting, and the list grows longer every day. Every day she takes a few more steps on her own...but she still looks back over her should to break into a grin when she sees we're watching.

She's my little girl, and I love her so.

May 29, 2012


I think the process of moving, if you were to plot it on a graph, would be as spiky up and down as the heart monitor of a tachycardia patient. You have the task of looking for a new home, which is full of peaks and valleys as you search for the right place for your family, find it, fall in love with it, and then find out it's off the market or has been whisked away for some reason or another. There's a big spike up when you finally find the right place and get it. Then you ride that wave for a couple of days, a week, as you plan out all the fabulous summer barbecues, the birthday parties, the cozy winter nights by the fire. (Your "Pin it" button gets a lot of use in these times.)

But then you start the process of packing, of actually dismantling your life in the place you're leaving, and slide down into a kind of valley. Not only because packing in itself sucks major ass, brings about the desultory realization that you have accumulated SO MUCH CRAP you don't need, but because you start to realize that despite the crappy neighbor, the lack of yard, the lack of are going to miss this place, the place you have lived, the place you live now.

I will never forget the day, four years ago, that James and I visited our condo for the first time with our realtor. It was a sunny day, light streaming into the windows, and I walked around the living area, imaging our furniture in it.  I closed my eyes, and placed the couch along the long wall in the back, really seeing it. It was a perfect fit. I thought, someday I'll bring my newborn baby home from the hospital and sit with her on that couch, right here in this room. 

And it happened just like I thought it would. 

There are so many memories I will have of our first home together. Soaking in the bathtub with my Federal Courts casebook propped on the edge, turning the pages with wrinkled fingertips. So many poker nights with friends, the slap and zip of cards being shuffled, laughter filling the air. Under one of the tiles on the kitchen floor, Baby Lulu's name is written in Sharpie, along with the names (and cartoon faces) of each of the cats; we wrote her name there the day we found out she was a girl and finally decided it for certain, which just happened to coincide with a frenzied, nesting-based kitchen remodel.

And then there's the first night we brought Lu home from the NICU, when J. and I lay in the bed with her, too amped and afraid to drift off to sleep. Her first Christmas, with the tree wedged in the corner. Her first birthday party, with zig-zag banners and overflow guests sitting cross-legged on our sisal rug. And all the little quiet moments in between.

My parents moved from my first home to the house I grew up in when I was four, and I remember it, vaguely, my old house, my birth house. Laying in a slant of light in the sunroom, sitting against the olive-green refrigerator in the kitchen. Lulu's too young to remember her first place. And that makes me sad. Because for all of its paint-peelingness, too-smalledness, was a good place for us. It deserves to be remembered. There's been a lot of happiness here.

We'll have to be sure to tell her all about it. So that we don't forget, ourselves.