Friday, October 28, 2016

Letter to Greta: 5 Years Old

Baby Grets,

Happy happy birthday!! Five is HUGE. A game changer. You've already changed so much in the past couple of months, and so much more will come this year.

Though no one can match the birthday excitement of your sister, you were pretty excited about your big day. I had balloons for you in the morning, and you opened two presents--a Pusheen plush eating a donut, and an Applejack Equestria Girl. You requested chocolate croissants for breakfast (Pillsbury croissants baked with chocolate hazlenut spread). Then you went off to school, where the kids sang Happy Birthday and shared the treat you brought in--vampire donuts.

After school, you had a playdate here with a friend whose parents needed some last-minute help. (A hilarious comment I overheard you make as you showed her around your room: "Would you like to see some of my magical things from Disney World?") When Lucia got home, you finally got to open the rest of your presents. You were thrilled with them all, declaring at the end that you'd gotten everything you'd wanted. (Whew.) Then we had some of the delicious rainbow-sprinkle cake Daddy had made, after being inspired by an article this week in the New York Times. Your favorite presents were a Woodzeez bakery and ice cream shop.

By that point you'd been birthday-d out, and you and Lucia watched an Equestria Girls movie before we all had waffles for dinner.

Your birthday celebration will continue tomorrow, Friday, when all your pre-K friends come over for a party. You asked for one, and since Lucia had a party for her fifth birthday, it seemed fair. The fact that it's cold and wet outside is making me rue this decision just a tiny bit...but I'm sure it'll be fine.

Anyway: At five, you are as cute and funny and cuddly as ever. I wonder if you'll ever not want to cuddle so much--Lucia will agree for a few seconds, then off she runs to something else. You love being read to, and you so desperately want to read--I feel confident you'll pick it up quickly when it's time.

You love playing with tiny things, the tinier the better, and your new Woodzeez things, as well as Shopkins, are your focus. You get so wrapped up in your imaginary play--the rest of us, and the world, disappear while you set up your little spaces and play with them.

You love your pre-K class and have really grown since the start of the school year. You eat lunch at school four of the five days, and every day you join your class line without a backward glance. Not even one tear at dropoff this year. That's amazing to me. You've made many new friends but, as expected, you're still on the quiet side--steering clear of crowds and chaos. (This is right, because you're mine.) But you've also become much more independent and less clingy--you don't have any issue now going off to your swimming or gymnastics classes. And oh, what a struggle both of those were at first.

You love animals; you love horses and ponies. You love learning to draw new things. (Ghosts and candles are your current favorite discoveries.)

So: happy fifth birthday, Miss Miss. It'll be an incredible year.

Favorite books: Big Pumpkin, Pumpkin Town, Crows of Pear Blossom (gag), Little Witch's Big Night, 10 Trick or Treaters, Five Little Pumpkins

Favorite toys/activities: Shopkins, Shopkins, Shopkins, tiny foods, Woodzeez sets, Pusheen, My Little Ponies (less now, sob), Legos

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Post-Birthday Fun

One of my least favorite things is when Andrew is away for the weekend. Being alone with the kids during the week has gotten easier--we're so busy with school and activities--but the weekends just feel so isolating. Sigh. Fortunately, Lucia and Greta had lots and lots of things to do today, and we were busy all day long as they played with gifts from yesterday's birthday celebration. Both of them are wild about the Legos we bought at the Lego Store, and we spent most of today working on their sets. Lucia is so good at it--has been for a while but it's always fun to watch her build. The set she chose is the biggest and most challenging she's had yet, and she didn't come anywhere close to finishing it. It's a multi-day set for sure. She loved building it and she also loved just playing with the little characters that came with it.

Greta is starting to come into her own with Lego building too--today she worked on the Friends hot dog stand, and she was doing it on her own by the end: looking at the instructions, finding the right pieces, positioning them to match the illustrations. She was so pleased with herself.

Besides the Legos, Lucia played with her bakery a lot today, and both girls love the balloons (which are still keeping their helium). Birthday fun.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Letter to Lucia: 7 Years Old

Dear Lucia,

Happy happy 7th birthday, little love.

You were so excited about your birthday this year. Every year you're excited--but more so this year than any other so far. You couldn't wait to turn seven (and have stated definitively that you now, in fact, feel seven). You counted down the days till your birthday for weeks; and you were just beside yourself with excitement as the big day approached.

So much excitement is adorable, and touching--but it also puts a lot of pressure on me, as your mother, to make sure you have a day that lives up to your expectations. When I remarked to your daddy this week that I was feeling overwhelmed with birthday preparations in the midst of an already crazy week, he suggested I cut some things out--like not bother getting you helium balloons to greet you in the morning, which you had specifically requested. Would you have withered in despair without balloons? No. But I went to the Dollar Tree at 9pm last night to get them anyway. And you were so happy to see them this morning. One was in your room when you woke up. The rest were tied to chairs at the table downstairs. You loved them.

You got to celebrate your birthday at school yesterday: I dropped off cupcakes with Halloween frosting and picks (store-bought, of course), your class sang Happy Birthday, your teacher had everyone write a birthday message and picture which she put into a little book, and I went in to volunteer at lunchtime. All fun.

And finally--October 15. Your birthday. You had some very specific requests for how you wanted the morning to go, which we did our best to follow. First: have balloons greet you (done). Next: open two of your presents. Finally: have scrambled eggs and chocolate chip pancakes for breakfast. After that, you and Greta had your gymnastics class, and then we set out on our birthday adventure: a day in the city.

You didn't want a party this year--I floated the idea, but you were quite clear about not wanting one--and after a lot of debate a city adventure is what you chose. You decided the itinerary: Lego store, candy store, pizza lunch, playground. We drove in, parked near Madison Square Park, and began our (wallet-draining) quest for birthday excitement.

I think I can safely say the day exceeded all of our expectations. You and Greta were both soooo excited about getting to pick out new Legos; you chose a gigantic dragon castle from the Elves line, and Greta chose two smaller Lego Friends sets (hot dog cart and supermarket). The cashier threw in a ridiculous number of free items as well--two knight Lego figures, a Lego City fountain set, and a holiday set.

Excited beyond description, we emerged from the Lego store and walked to lunch--a little restaurant where your daddy and I used to eat all the time when we worked as editors together. We even walked past our old workplace. It was more than a little strange to be back in that exact spot, where--in 2003--we met; and where, in 2016, we were strolling with you and Greta. Time! Life choices! Luck! (But you're seven. You won't understand those wonders for a long while.)

Next up: some bank-breaking candy-shopping fun at Dylan's Candy Bar. You get your love of candy from your dad. (I don't much care for anything but chocolate.) You and Greta filled your bags with all manner of gummies and licorice.

And then--some candy eating and playing at the playground in Union Square Park. You had so much fun on all the slides and climbing equipment. It was hard keeping you both in sight at all times, especially when we walked back out through the Greenmarket, and when you were both skipping and running down the city streets, reminding me (again) why--despite perfect city excursions like today's--I'm so glad we don't live there anymore. (Meanwhile, your dad started perusing NYC real estate listings as soon as we got home.)

On the way back to the car, a cashmere-sweater store was handing out free cotton candy. You were meh; Greta declared that SHE NOW LOVES COTTON CANDY. You were so happy with the entire day, and so ready to go home to open the rest of your presents. We left on a high note.

Back home, you got to open the rest of your presents (a Woodzeez bakery was your top favorite birthday gift), and we sang happy birthday with a lovely cake your daddy made (which I adorned with Shopkins). Then--some playing, and bedtime.

Your dad left for Germany after he read you a story, which was a sad end to an otherwise perfect birthday. Nonetheless, you told me it was the best birthday ever--thanking us for all your presents and for letting you get the BIGGEST Lego set--which makes all the crazy planning worthwhile. Whew.

It was a fun birthday for all of us, lovey. Now onward with your seven-year-old fabulousness.

Favorite books: Elephant and Piggie, Never Girls, Stella Batts

Favorite toys/activities: Shopkins (top favorite toy right now), ponies (less now; sigh), Uno, other games

Sunday, October 02, 2016

Fall in NH

Ah, fall in New Hampshire. We love coming up here so much in the summer, and usually only make it once or twice in the fall, but somehow our fall visits are among my favorites. We still get outside, but not as much in the cold and damp, so we spend much of the days just here inside, the four of us, enjoying the quiet and stillness.

Well, Andrew and I enjoy the quiet and stillness. The girls keep themselves as busy as anywhere else. A rundown of our days so far:

Friday, Sept. 30

We drove to NH after Lucia got home from school--a long, endless drive with lots of traffic.

Saturday, Oct. 1

L&G started off our weekend with their go-to NH activity: playing doctor with antique kitchen gadgets. Then on to hide and seek. We also played Candyland and Memory.

Wary of a rainy weekend, we seized the afternoon to go apple picking at our favorite spot, Riverview Farm. We picked apples, went on a hayride through the orchard and blueberry fields, ate maple ice cream, took pictures by pumpkins. It was a ridiculously nice fall afternoon.

Bonus: On our way to the farm, we drove past a rummage sale in its final hour, where they were giving everything away by donation. We never know exactly when this rummage sale is, but we've stumbled upon it now for three years in a row, and we never lack for treasures. An unopened off-brand Rainbow Loom thingy, a big jar of play money, puzzles, vintage Chutes and Ladders, and two never-used zippered Clinique pouches to store Shopkins. Also a creepy hand-drawn portrait of a baby. Score.

Then we went grocery shopping and then went home. We had hot dogs and ribs for dinner. Andrew threw the Frisbee around with the girls while he grilled. Greta declared herself a "fan" of ribs and we had to stop her from eating the entire rack. Lucia nibbled one and gave it a thumb's down.

Also notable is Greta's new expression: "as well." "Can I have water, as well?" She must have picked that up at school. So polite.

Sunday, Oct. 2

We finally made it out for a nature walk today and went into our favorite part of the woods, to the place the girls call the "fairy forest." Greta became so focused on collecting sticks that, after our walk, she and Andrew returned to the woods with a wheelbarrow to collect more officially.

After lunch, we did some indoor things--puzzles from the rummage sale, lots of loomed bracelets, Shopkins fun.

We went out to dinner at the Weathervane. Also, we saw a huge fox strolling down the road this morning. I've never gotten so long a look at one. We've also seen lots of turkeys and deer. Fall!