Monday, September 24, 2012

Who's Next?

This is Isabel seven and a half years ago. This picture was taken by our beloved and amazing photographer friend, Jason Schmidt. Only a few days old, it was Isabel's first official portrait. I remember Mike and I gazing at Isabel with our best friends, Cory and Jason- in awe and puzzlement,. There was an overall WOW-ness about the arrival of this new tiny person into our lives. Swaddled tightly like a little burrito, sleeping in the window-seat on 10th St. next to all the pretty flowers from well wishers. It is a timeless image. Beautiful and slightly eerie in its stillness. It's an image of real-life pause. Without totally understanding how such a little being could already be such a force, we all knew we were embarking on a new chapter. A chapter involving us and kids. Little people we create, that turn out to be really interesting people, who wield the strongest love we have ever known.  The craziest thing I realize now, is that they really do come out their own people from the minute they are born.  After only a few days of knowing her, I didn't really get that Isabel was Isabel already. But now, seven years later, I do. Below, is another beautiful portrait of Isabel taken earlier this year. Again, by her "official photographer", Jason. (Lucky girl, right?!)

No longer a tiny person, or anything even close to a baby, she is a big girl now with stories to tell and memories ingrained. Isabel came out a mellow observer, an old soul that is open to the world around her with a loving and sensitive (and willful) heart.  Her eyes are deep and empathetic, and her edge is humorous and goofy. I love who she is, and yet, am amazed at who she continues to become.  It's an evolution like time-lapse photography that unfolds before your eyes. So quickly at times, it's easy to miss and certainly hard to understand and guide.  But, as parents, we try to do our best to keep up and let our little people BE who they already are. All while giving them the boundaries and tools they need to feel safe as they navigate a path to realize their best selves.  It's never exactly easy to do, but so incredibly important to have this be the general goal.
So? Well. Any day now, we are going to have another baby. Another girl.  WHO on earth is THIS girl going to BE??! I wonder. I am beyond curious. No doubt very different than Isabel. Will she have red hair and pale skin? Wouldn't that be funny? Hard to imagine this new love of ours, but how cool to now have the reference of Isabel to know it will be amazing all over again. Judging by the way this baby is kicking me now, it's possible we'll have a real firecracker on our hands. Maybe a little devil child. Whatever the case, we are very excited to meet her. I trust we're better equipped to roll with the punches the second time around. And thankfully, big sister Isabel will be another set of very capable hands on deck to help.

Here, Isabel leans on my big belly, aka, her future little sister. 
May The Force be with us.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Just the Three of Us

It's been several months since my last post, so this one is a bit of a ramble. My early excuse for the delay was that I wasn't feeling so great because I found out I was pregnant. (Yup). Then, I got really busy. And then, I have simply been processing the fact that very soon,  it won't be Just the Three of Us anymore.
For almost eight years, it has been just US. The dynamic trio. A universe focused on and around Isabel becoming part of, and then seamlessly fitting into our lives. I always thought I would have more than one kid, three actually-used to be my ideal number.  But alas, the ebb and flow of life-tides trump any girlish ideals.  Life happens and when it does, it's complicated. Way harder than we ever believe it will be, and just different in many ways. Often these different ways are surprisingly good eye-openers for getting to know what you REALLY want, and what makes most sense for You and the path you are on, whether you devised the path or not. In short, I originally thought we would have another kid before now. But in reality, I wasn't feeling ready for another one until Isabel was about 5, and then when I was ready, my husband and I were not. The timing was completely off. Flash forward through a couple of rough but necessary years, and here we are: on the other side of all that. About to welcome another little girl into our world. Another girly! Ebb and flow.
When I was pregnant the first time, every kick was a bit alien-esque.  W.T.F? There was no reference point yet. Now that I know the force that is Isabel- how she came into this world her very own person the minute she was born, there is NOTHING ABSTRACT about this second time. It's not a question-mark alien kicking me. This squirmy passenger is a little girl we are going to be hanging out with a lot.  A little girl with her distinct look and tastes and laugh and walk.  A little girl with little fingers and toes and knees I will memorize just as I have every inch of her big sister. Who is she?!?
One of the sweetest parts of all of this is sharing it with Isabel.  When I was feeling nauseous, she would offer me my favorite comfort cereal (LIFE or RICE CHEX) and rub my feet.  As my body has been changing, she has been fascinated at every new development.  Boobies! Boobs that will make milk! She thinks that's kind of hilarious, but mostly amazing. And yes, she assures me that my bigger than usual butt is not fat, "you're making a baby, mommy!". Bless her heart. We relish in the weekly baby center emails that tell us what size our baby is now: A blueberry! A kiwi!  A tomato, a red cabbage! The first time she felt the baby kick, her face exploded with disbelief. "It's like jaws!". Laughing together at the craziness of it all, has already been fun in a different way. Just thinking of all the cute baby noises: the squeaks and farts and burps and coos, will be beyond funny. As a family, we tend to lean on the Skat-meter when it comes to humor, so I have no doubt the three of us have lots of comedy ahead.
Isabel has been mostly generous and excited about the idea sharing things with her future sister. "she can sleep in my bed!". Or, when cleaning out her closet, "I'll save these pants for my sister. She's gonna LOVE these!"  Recently, however- we have experienced little glimmers of her maybe not loving the idea of sharing her universe with someone else. For instance, she has been taking weekly polaroids of me to document my belly progress and we have been putting them in a little book to welcome the baby. One day, I decorated a page with some glitter, and Isabel freaked out.  "You never made a special glitter page for me. Why!!??". I told her simply that before she was born, glitter didn't really exist in my life.  That she is the magic that made glitter readily accessible in our home.  And besides, I put together a waaaay more involved (and cooler) book of photographs preparing to welcome her into the world- our first born. FYI, without glitter = not special. We talked about how yes, at times, it's going to be frustrating, and annoying to have the family dynamic suddenly different, and possibly slowed down  by a little baby or a drooling spazz of a toddler. But we will embrace this cute new person and take her along with us wherever we go. She will just have to learn to roll as we do!  And when she simply can't- because it's inappropriate or too late, yes, we can hire a sitter and have special nights- just the three of us.  Daddy's late concert? Of course.  A friday night Dodger game and stay late for the fireworks? Sure thing. We have had seven years of just the three of us. Before these seven years, Mike and I both had a lifetime of rich years, but somehow, once Isabel entered the picture, it's hard to think back to a world before these last seven. It's just the way it is. A world without your children is impossible to imagine once they are here.
I have made yearly photo books dedicated solely to Isabel.  And, yes-there's this blog! Realistically, there will never be photo books soley dedicated this new little girl or a blog dedicated to just her and me. She will of course, squeeze in and find a spot in all but most likely, she will be gazing starry-eyed at her Big sister in in every frame. The only world she will know will be one she shares with Isabel. I'm sure she will find her own way to shout out loud and shine, but- it will always be in a shared spotlight. Which may be easy- if that's all you know. Perhaps a bit tougher if you've had the lead, and now have to step aside and learn to duet. We will stay open to these thoughts and emotions and learn to deal with them one by one. After talking this through a few times, Isabel took a deep breath and started to smile, and sniffle, realizing how good she has actually had it. We agreed that this goodness is not coming to an end, it's just approaching a turning point. And while I will probably miss the easy groove the three of us have naturally established, I do have faith that once we get through this growth spurt of a family, it will be hard for any of us to imagine a time when it wasn't Just the Four of Us.

Monday, March 26, 2012

She's a Lady

Isabel has a playlist on her itouch thanks to her dad. It's a pretty cool mix of old and new: Madonna, Cyndi Lauper, Stevie Wonder, Songs from Grease, Nicki Minaj, Robyn, Rhianna, etc. She loves listening and dancing around the house, and singing along- as best she can. Here we captured a taste of her love for the always classy Mr. Tom Jones.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

What 7 Year Olds do

The past few months have been a blur. Before we had a chance to take the tree down, 2012 was off and running. Everyone is good and busy and suddenly summer camp sign-up is on the horizon. Really? One big event that anchors the beginning of each year is Isabel's birthday. This year was a special one because after much negotiation and many months of countdown calendars, Isabel was turning Seven. What's the big deal? Well, we agreed to let her get her ears pierced (!) when she turned seven. A little young? Perhaps for some. But we figured our seven year old was up for handling the responsibility, and sure enough she has. Each time she cleans her ears and twists the little gold studs, her face beams and flirts with pride in the mirror. And it hasn't worn off. A couple months in, and she is still pinching herself. I can SO remember that it was a dream every night that didn't come true until I was 12! The latest negotiation on the table is long dangly earrings- which I am putting my foot down about. Not appropriate. Down-right strange, I think, on little ears-unless for dress-up, and none of them are real gold or silver, so NO- not for a while. She did manage to get 10 minutes around the house with long feather earrings mIke bought at some hippie street fair. They sure did look cute, but her ears paid the price with instant soreness. I think she understands a bit now.
SO, the ears have been pierced and the birthday party was a smaller hit this year. A more sophisticated, intimate girly affair. I don't think the annual disco bash is totally a thing of the past, but for this year- a little sleep over with a few friends felt just right. Girly primping at the local echo park salons, pizza, ice cream, outfit changes, a hilarious jam session, and a movie was just what the BIG girls ordered.
Isabel seems to be embracing her seven year old maturity well. She talks and thinks a little differently. The hang with her has turned a corner, one that digs in bit deeper. Conversations are complex and her observations can be poetic and dreamy. She is thoughtful in a grander way- thinking ahead and thinking of others. At times this includes concern and emotions that create worry. Like thoughts I should totally record such as, "I don't ever want to leave this house- I want to live with you guys forever". But mostly we can talk through these fleeting weight-of-the-world woes and put her mind at ease. Going through her closet recently, she made a few different piles: 1 for "Good will- like Haiti or Japan, or maybe the homeless Grandaddy helps", 1 for "Anabel" and 1 for "my daughter". When I suggested we toss a pair of old 3T raggedy old pj bottoms, Isabel quickly responded "Mom, these pjs are like A STORY to me". Sniff. Enough said.