Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Merry Christmas!

Wow! Here we are. Our third Christmas together as a family. Quinn's third Christmas as a living human.  For the last two years, I can't even count the number of times someone would say, "Enjoy it while you can! They grow so fast. She will be 20 before you know it." I felt myself smiling and nodding, more often than not shrugging off that cliche' statement that I've heard a thousand times. It didn't quite have the same relavance then as it suddenly had as of yesterday.

This Christmas was the first time it REALLY hit us. Quinn IS getting older and wiser. It is happening so quickly and I didn't fully realize how far she had come until last night when everyone had left our house and Mike and I were laying in bed, retracing the day and suddenly pinpointing all of the huge developments that Quinn has so subtly made right under our noses.

We often joke about how Quinn has a secret life that we don't know about. She goes to school every day during the week and for a full nine hours does activities, plays with class mates, learns new things...and we are not there to experience it with her. And when she gets home, we see little traces of the things she has learned throughout the week. One evening, she came up to me out of the blue and said "Mommy, you count, I hide..." and she proceeded to hide under the coffee table until I found her. Once I did, she squealed with excitement and shouted  "I count, now YOU hide!" She ran to the corner, covered her eyes and said, "One, two, ee, ahh, five, six, seben, eight, nine, ten, eleben....Ready I come!!" I was hiding in the pantry in shock, SHE CAN COUNT PAST THREE?!... blurry eyed and giggling, trying to hold back crying/laughing. The last thing I wanted to do was jump out of a dark closet with raccoon eyes, choking back crying and heaving like a lunatic... so I just played it off and hugged her once she found me. When I pick her up from school each day, I'll ask her how her day was and she will give me a laundry list of answers, "It was good. I play outside with my fwends. I color. I cried because i was vewy vewy sad. I drank milk. I build a robot wif my legos...ummmm...hmmm." These days when Quinn takes a bath, each of her little toys have a voice and make conversation with eachother. "Ohh, horsie, you so sad?" ::in a tiny high pitched voice::"yes i am! I miss my mommy!" "Oh! Do you need a baby blanket and hafta lay in you bed?" "Yes I do! and I want milk too!" "Ok! Here you go! Now stay in your bed and go to sweep!" I sit on the bath mat, just watching her, not wanting to laugh too loudly because I don't want her to feel embarassed about using her imagination once she watches me creepily staring at her, with big blurry eyes, grinning.

On Christmas Eve/Christmas, Mike and I had our first glimpse into the secret life of Quinn. She had asked us if we could walk down the street to watch our neighbors ride their dirtbikes in the field in front of our house. One thing led to another and we wound up hanging out with their family all night and the following day, standing in front of their firepit telling parenting stories as we watched our kids play. They have a little four year old named Holt who Quinn clicked with instantly. She was jumping off of dirt piles with him, exploring the grass, climbing trees. She even picked up a worm and wasn't scared at all, she was just too excited to show him her discovery. As much as we wanted to help her climb, or run over every time she looked unsteady, we just uneasily let her do her thing....and she was just fine. More than just fine. She was able to hold her own without mommy and daddy hovering over her. Mike and I would both look at eachother from across the fire and just smile... our little girl was keeping up with a little boy twice her age and she was absolutely loving it, and she didn't need our help.

On Christmas morning, Holt showed up at our house in his two-seater Gator that he got for Christmas and asked if he could drive Quinn around. She hopped right in the passenger seat, leopard pajamas and a head full of messy hair and we watched the two of them drive down the sidewalk, into the sunrise (haha!). Quinn would crack up laughing every time Holt went fast or drove down a tiny hill. It was the kind of belly laugh that makes everyone around you start laughing too. They would whisper things in eachother's ears and hold hands when she needed his help climbing something or if she got scared. Mike and I probably had gooney smiles ear to ear, our eyes were tearing up as we huddled together in the cold, watching our little girl play and be a kid. Ahh, I can barely write about how sweet and endearing it was to watch without welling up.

This morning, I took a few moments to scroll back through the entries in my blog where I oogled over every little thing she did as a baby. The first time she cooed, the first time she rolled over, her first steps, our aventures in walking and falling, dancing to her favorite you tube videos....there were so many that I documented and I am so grateful because those first moments that meant so much as a baby are getting burried underneathe all of the many new feats and memories that occur so rapidly now. I envision The Princess and the Pea, but instead of the princess, it's Quinn sitting atop all of her baby-hood memories, piling up on eachother as the years go by.

As we approach pottytraining, the excitement of no longer dealing with diapers is coupled with the extreme sadness that our last tie to her babyhood will officially be gone. The times during the day when I am able to get Quinn to settle down enough to let me quickly change her diaper have always been some of my favorite times with her. They are little bonding moments for me, ones that we've shared with her since she was born. Her diapers are the last small tie to the day when she was born and everything that has come after it. The moment she puts on those Minnie Mouse panties (and actually keeps them on all day) will be a bittersweet day for me.

We are down to only a few words that Quinn still pronounces funny...she has learned how to say most of the other ones correctly now. She no longer says "howareya" when she tries to say Olivia. Ah, that one was the best. I guess I'll just have to hang onto her calling escalators "alligators" until she soon grows out of that one as well.

So, here is to paying attention to all of the little things in life and reflecting on them frequently, focusing and encouraging positive behavior in ourselves and in our children, and to giving our kiddos every opportunity to be innocent, happy children while they are still able.

Merry Christmas and wishing everyone the best in 2013!!


Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The perils of night time have begun!

The process of putting Quinn to sleep was once so very simple. Our scenario after 7:00pm was what every parent wished for and we clearly took it for granted. I would scoff at the poor, desperate, exhausted parents on Supernanny and thank God that I was lucky enough to have a scenario nothing of the sort. Our night time routine began with a bottle of milk, a warm bath, the pressing of the "on" button on the music machine (how has it not run out of batteries yet!?) We would lay our bundle of toddler joy in her crib, give her a kiss goodnight and it was smooth sailing until six or 7:30 the next morning. Some nights we would drink beer on the porch, others we would fall asleep on the couch watching Community or Hell's Kitchen. Oh, the good old days....


Screaming, crying, yelling, random's what our household consists of when the sun goes down and when the adult time is supposed to begin. There are rules to getting her to stay in that tiny, good for nothing bed and they go a little something like this.

Step 1: Brush her teeth. HAHA! We'll be lucky if this kid even HAS teeth in a year or two. Usually brushing her teeth requires some creative bargaining. "Who do you want to brush your teeth? Thumper or your cat? Daddy? You want him to do it? Wait, you're not pointing at Daddy. Oh, you want the pillow to brush your teeth? Uhh...okay...let's...uh...figure this out..I think I can make this happen ::insert visual of mom using an adult sized pillow to brush a toddler's teeth here:::" Desperate times call for desperate measures that require inanimate objects to do the job, however, our meager attempts often result in WWF inpsired maneuvers; one parent bear hugging her to keep her tiny, hulk like arms from flailing around while the other one frantically shoves the tooth brush inside of her miniature mouth and vigorously tries to get the job done in 30 seconds or less. How can such little teeth be so hard to brush quickly!?!? The more she yells the easier it is to get the molars. Oh shit, NO! SHE IS CLENCHING HER TEETH DOWN. NO! Someone bring the jaws of life to get the tooth brush out of there! NOOOOOOOOOOO. NOOO WE ARE LOSING IT!!!!!!!!!!! ITS GONE!!! THE BRUSH IS GONE!!!!!!!!!!!

Once the "teeth brushing" ends, we move onto..

Step 2: Passy treasure hunting. In the beginning, I was a bit hesitant about letting her use passies. I heard stories from my mom about how I wouldn't give them up until I was four. But eventually we caved in. What was the big deal? They are comforting to her and provide a feeling of saftey and security. She likes them! Hmm, wait...."like" probably isn't the right word. OBSESSED, COMPULSIVE, PASSY HOARDER are more appropriate adjectives. Quinn needs to be holding like 17 passies at all times. And as much as she pretends that every number is the number "two" when we are trying to teach her to count, I know she is just playing dumb. You know that I have more than two fingers, Quinn. You're LYING! We know you can secretly count because if ONE of those passies is missing, all hell breaks loose. She knows where they are at all times! She has specific spots in her bed where the passies live and procreate. Where are all of these coming from!?! I don't even remember buying all of these!! She keeps one in her mouth, one in each hand, three under her pillow, two in the crevices where the bed siding meets the mattress. It's calculated madness! In order for the steps to get her to sleep continue, all passies must be in their correct places, and if they aren't, hahahhaha good luck!!!!!!!!!!!

Step 3: Thumper. She loves Thumper. She can't go anywhere without it. What started as an random purchase at the Disney store in Dallas now turns our lives upside down and inside out. Quinn loves that bunny so much. She NEEDS that bunny. It does everything with her and we can never let anything happen to it! We were so paranoid about something happening to Thumper that we decided to buy her a backup Thumper. BAD IDEA. Now we have to worry about two of these dolls one day getting eaten by a dog, left at a restaurant (Thumper spent the night at Which Which once,) getting stolen by another rabid toddler, the detrimental possibilities are endless! Sometimes I lay in bed at night, anxiety ridden obsessively thinking about what life would be like without Thumper(s). At night time, one thumper needs to be placed in front of her in bed while the other one lays behind her in a spooning position. The patchwork blanket must cover all of them while only one of them can share the pillow with her. Their feet must not be covered either. You should see us trying to get these stuffed animals and child in the right positions. It's madness. It's stressful. Panic attacks are sometimes involved. Mike will leave the room dripping with sweat, his hair disheveled, a 5 o'clock shadow looming atop his sullen face, bags under his eyes...

Step 4: Turn the lights off, tell her good night, pray that she says "night night" back because that usually means she will go to sleep right away. But if she DOESN'T say goodnight right away, GET READY FOR A NIGHT OF HELL! Who needs to work out three times a week when you can run up and down two flights of stairs and wrestle a 30lb toddler into her bed twenty times a night??? THIS GUY!! The excuses that she comes up with are exausting yet hysterical. Sometimes we have to shield our faces and hide our laughter. Here are some of the things that she comes out of her room at night to tell us:

"Mommy, where are passies!?!" (god forbid one of them isn't in the correct location!)
"Mommy, MONSTERS!! Over der!!" (How do you even know what monsters are!?)
"Mommy, I see a window!" (She is very observant!)
"Mommy, I'm a girl!" (Again, very observant!)
"Mommy, I love daddy" (I love daddy too but you are making it difficult for us to uphold a normal relationship which may have long term effects. Just kidding. I didn't really tell her that. Yet.)
"Mommy, I have friends." (No one wants to be friends with someone who is nocturnal, Quinn.)
"Mommy, I pooped." ( took it out of your diaper and smeared it into your hair. Wonderful. Just great.)

After this two or three hour process, eventually she wears herself out enough to pass out in a sweet, angelic state, holding her thumpers and her loads of passies while her tiny strands of perfect hair flutter in the cool breeze of the fan. And any hope of spending time with my handsome man has been flushed down the toilet, as by this point, one of us has passed out on the couch, mouth wide open, drooling and snoring.

And although this process is draining, it will result in great stories one day when she has kids who do the same thing. We love her, she keeps us on our toes. Our tired, tired toes.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Things that made me smile this week

Finding my yearbook from 6th grade. Look at how cuteeee Mike was. You can see why I had a crush on him back then. My picture is below. Haha!

 Quinn's first wedgie. We're trying out the whole potty training thing...
 Day trips to IKEA!
 Rupert, enjoying a mid-day nap in freshly folded laundry. Grr...
 Playing with Barbies.
 Playing with Play-doh and watching Quinn hulk smash my animal creations. The white play-doh was once a bunny. RIP.
 Our garden experiments! We stole this shipping crate from our neighbor's yard (thanks Sonja!) On the very top is lettuce, middle are tomatoes and cucumbers and the bottom are cucumbers as well. Yum!
 Top view of our indoor hydroponic setup. Lettuce on the left, tomatoes and basil on the right.
 Here is a side view looking at their little roots dangling in the water. Keep growin' guys!
 Quinn hanging out with her Thumpers on the stairs. These little guys go everywhere with her.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

My last day at Betsey

Today was my last day working at my little Betsey Johnson store.

I spent the last few days reminiscing, organizing and having allergy attacks from dust that had settled in that shop for almost six years. I dug through old file folders containing store goals and employee evaluations that I focused so much attention on, motivational staff meeting notes that were carefully crafted... how do I motivate these girls and still keep them laughing in the process? I was never the micromanaging type. There were so many pictures on the computer of ones who I've loved, some who have moved away and one special picture of a dear friend who we all lost years ago. Oh, and the ones of me standing puffy and pregnant, measuring my protruding stomach as the months went on. God, that poor computer. It was littered with fortune cookie stickers and years of Ramen and Chinese food crumbs, it barely worked but it held on until the end. I spent time flipping through the pages and pages of client information that I had accumulated through the years in Austin and NYC. Wow, did I really have the producer of 60 minutes' credit card number on hand in case her daughter had a last minute gala to go to? What about that one lady Shirley who always wore the crazy hats that came in every Sunday to say hello. She was obsessed with that lobster necklace that I somehow managed to track down in a far away state. Gosh, so many names, so many stories. I can remember what dress you bought, the year it came out in and some of its special features. But somehow I can't remember where I keep misplacing my travel coffee mug. There are so many people who I connected with, who I learned about and shared their lives with. My dear dear customers. Last week I found an un-sent postcard to Brenda and Rachel, an older couple from San Antonio that would drive all the way to Austin to say hello to me because I helped them buy two pairs of socks years ago. We just...connected. I never sent that postcard, because the day after I wrote it, Brenda called me to tell me that Rachel had been killed in a car accident. She never talked to me again after that call, she said she couldn't come in anymore, the store reminded her too much of Rachel. 

I started working at Betsey when I was 21 but I had loved her long before that. I bought my first pair of purple sunglasses at a BJ store in Tyson's Virginia during an 8th grade field trip to DC. They came in a black velvet bag with a silver drawstring and her name was printed across the front. I used to trace over her name with my fingers and for some reason, I felt connected to her. I just dug through an old pink tin box from middle school that sits above our TV and found that little black bag. It is 13 years old. The letters are faded but it carefully holds those gaudy purple glasses. My favorite purple glasses. The ones I will hang on to forever until Quinn probably breaks them, not knowing how much they mean to me.

As I watched our liquidator Jim wipe out all of our computer's hard drives today, haul off fixtures and sell our lights, leaving us in a dark, low lit, dusty pink box, I couldn't help but think of how much of an impact the store has had on me over the last few years and how ready I am to move on from it. There are just so many memories there, ones that I think have swaddled and comforted me for too long, they've held me back. I've been grasping on to them for dear life, too scared to move on and challenge myself. I've been a "Betsey girl" for years, many of us have been...but why haven't I been a Tara girl this whole time instead? I started to define everything I was by a lady who I never really knew. No matter how many times I saw her in NYC, no matter how many times she came into my store to say hi, give me a hug and shop, she could never remember my name. She would stumble and call us all Betsey girls. All I ever wanted at the time was for her to remember that my name was Tara and that I was one of the many working so hard for her.  But she never did, and that is when I should have moved on a long time ago.

So now it's time to work hard for myself. It is time for ALL of us to work hard for ourselves and to not be defined by a culture that has long since dwindled away. It was an experience that allowed me to meet amazing friends who I will be connected with forever and most importantly, it helped me realize what I was really great at, and I will carry that secret with me forever.

It is time to pack away those crazy dresses and enjoy my nights, my weekends, my holidays, my Sundays... smokin' BBQ ribs with my man and watching my little girl dance in circles on the drive way and bring me tiny white flowers that she picked from our front yard.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Finding time.

It has been forever since I have written in this poor blog. I have really missed documenting all of my adventures! Life has been passing us by so quickly. Taking off over 6 months from writing is a sign that my life has changed so much as Quinn has continued to grow. I forget how much time I had to spare when she was a baby (even though I felt like I was ALWAYS swamped with too much to do and not enough time!) Ah, but life was peaceful, sleep deprived but still very productive. Q took a few naps a day, couldn't move around much so she spent most of her time in a stationary position in a gated off area. She didn't have any opinions and was mesmerized by teething rings, rattles and sometimes even rolling tumbleweeds of lint that accumulated behind the couch. It gave me the opportunity to spend my free time doing productive things like writing, sewing, cleaning, LAUNDRY. These days, our life is a whirlwind of Quinn's cuteness and eagerness to be a part of everything at all times. I watch her run around our house with her shopping cart, adding miscelaneous stuffed animals and blocks to the basket while the blonde curly bits of her hair flop around and her bangs get in her eyes. Her bangs, they're just like mine. Her cowlicks make it impossible to figure out where her bangs begin and end, where to part them and how to trim them. Her hairdo is pretty much a giant headful of bangs. Unfortunately, I have passed on the Tara legacy of having bangs that resemble Rapunzel. Where they end, no one knows! Sorry, babe. C'est la vie.

She says "house" like "Houth" and calls any light a "christmath tree!" Quinn is so warm and loving. She goes into hug-mode often. She gets on this adorable hugging kick where she says "HUG" over and over and goes from item to item around the house, wrapping her arms tightly around everything from Rigby, to the side of the couch, to a spoon or even a tiny lego. It is the cutest thing. She also has developed a little bit of bossiness (well, let's call it sassiness!) She pats the ground and says "Here!!" until you sit where she wants. If you don't move fast enough, she will hit you with a "Pweeeeeez!!!" It's her secret weapon to make you do whatever she can you resist a pweez?? Sometimes she wants you to do a puzzle with her, sometimes she wants you to color. Sometimes she wants Mike to crawl inside of her crib and lay down with her... and he does. In a fetal position. Next to Thumper and Winnie the Pooh. Because that's the only way that he can fit. Haha. Speaking of Winnie the Pooh. She had started to use the potty a ton a couple of months ago and was so proud to wear her big girl undies. She would sit on the potty and play on the iPad or read a book like a tiny old man in the morning after drinking a lot of coffee. She loved the potty. But...that was until POOH arrived. Instantly, Pooh was her BFF. She loved him, hugged him, kissed him, put clothes on him. BUT there was a bit of confusion because she began to think that the name Pooh meant "poo poo". Now, only Winnie can sit on her potty. And she will make him hold the iPad when he is doing his business. Or sometimes she wants to wipe Pooh's bottom with a diaper wipe because he "poo poo'd" Dangit! FAIL! Oh well, we'll try potty training her again some other day. Until then, we will continue to giggle while she potty trains her Disney animals.

It has been so heartwarming to watch Quinn turn into the little lady that she is today. She soaks up anything we tell her and is so independent. She has the softest, sweetest little voice. Even when it is 6am and I am awoken from much needed sleep, I love hearing her tiny voice yell "Mooooooommmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmy......daaaaaaadddddddddddddyyyyyyyyyy. Hereeeeee!!" from her bedroom. I'll be so sad the day that ends.

Today she is home sick, cuddling with me and Thumper as I sit here and type this. Even when she is having such an awful day, she still wants to hug, cuddle, and tell me that Thumper poo poo'd and needs a diaper change. You're such a sweet little thing Quinn. I love you, my little bear!

Here's to 2012 and me always making time to document our fantastic journey.

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