Thursday, January 27, 2011

A full plate... in Italy?

I've never been good at not-multi-tasking, if that makes sense. Never is there a time where I can just sit and relax. In fact, I think it relaxes me just a bit to be amidst the chaos. Organized, obsessive compulsive controlled chaos.

Like, we're moving. In less than 6 months. Packing up all our temporary "stuff" in NYC and somehow getting rid of it all, as it's more expensive to move stuff in NYC than it is to ship it on to the next destination. So we'll move with what we came with: 10 boxes and 5 suitcases and 2 strollers. Actually, it might even be just 4 suitcases. And a box or two less, as my work computer and printer will no longer be part of the shipment. But anyway...

And Jon has his contract signed, so we're definitely in the DC area, and based on the wonderful schools we saw last weekend, I think we're moving to the Montgomery County area of Maryland. While we loved one school in particular and the principal said she'd "make sure there's room for Lilly" I still want to officially be accepted so that we have that nailed down as another thing to check off our list. And, we're debating whether or not Lilly should go into Kindergarten or Pre-K (she's a summer birthday so we might hold her back - especailly if we see ourselves with this school for the next 10 years - it'll be easier on her to delay kindergarten now, instead of having her separated from friends later, if necessary). So those decisions are on our plate. And then there's the question in the next month of buy versus rent (I think we'll rent, considering how outrageous house prices are in the area), what particular neighborhood, etc. And the logistics of actually getting out of NY at the end of June and getting settled in our house in July.

On top of all that we had a snow day today. I knew it snowed last night; but last week when we got a little under a foot school wasn't canceled; but this morning school was cancelled. But I didn't realize until tonite that we actually got 19 inches in Manhattan. Crazy. Apparently we didn't leave the apartment today. :) But we kept ourselves busy with puzzles, shape/color Bingo, Shoots and Ladders (kind of - first time for a little lady to play it), books on tape, dancing with Curious George, and generally keeping busy and out of trouble - for both of us.

Apparently Lilly stayed out of trouble more than me. Amidst the chaos of a stay-at-home snow day, and planning our future, Jon and I did something just a little ridiculous. I mean, if you know us and you know Lilly, it makes total sense. But still I'll acknowledge to a normal person it's ridiculous.

We booked a cruise to Europe. A 10 night Disney Mediterranean cruise in July. Total insanity, right? Who takes a 4 year old - actually, she'll be 5 by then - to Italy? Who plans a European vacation right around the same time they're moving?

The Shermans, I guess, that's who.

It wasn't exactly impulsive. We've been talking about this for at least a year. And Lilly is just such-a-good-traveler, as I've said once or twice, and handles international traveling like a pro. And I've always wanted to go to Italy, and this cruise has such great cities that Jon hasn't been to either. And Lilly has never been to Italy. (What 4 year old has, right?) And she loves pizza. (What 4 year old doesn't, right?) And Jon's starting his new job a few weeks later, and it's the only time he'll have a couple weeks off for a really long time, if ever; and he's worked so hard for the past 8 years of training to get where he is professionally. And we're celebrating him starting a new job, and our big move, and Lilly's 5th birthday (which we could in theory celebrate at a Little Gym, but you know) and... somebody else has a birthday... right in the middle of the cruise...

I'll turn 30 on July 27. And I'm not exactly having a midlife crisis yet - trust me, I love my age and am actually surprised most days that my years are younger than I feel - it's been a busy 29 years. I've accomplished a lot, and I'm proud of who I am and where I am in my life and in the world. But, gosh, I met Jon at 18, finished college at 20, went straight to law school, married Jon at 22, graduated law school at 23, had Lilly at 24, and have been working hard at my career and as a wife and mom for the past 5 years, which has included big moves almost every year. I'm exhausted. And while turning "30" isn't such a big deal... it represents a new phase of my life a little bit - entering a new decade, Lilly starting real school, Jon settling into his new job, and our family beginning our new lives "permanently" in a new city.

So today we did the only logical thing we could do. We booked our cruise, and look forward to exploring a little more of the world together as a family. And I think it'll be amazing, and I think we'll see some incredible sights and have memories that will last a lifetime. But mostly I can't wait to take a break from moving and our hectic lives and spend some much needed quality time with my two favorite people. And a Mouse.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


We spent the weekend in the car. Literally. Which is unusual because, being Manhattanites this year, we don't own a car.

But as my husband accepted a job in Washington DC (did I mention that on here yet?) that will start this summer, we need to start looking at where to live and schools for Miss Lilly.

So we rented a car for the weekend, which is almost as expensive (in NYC) as flying to DC. But, it was so nice to be in a car. At first.

I was so overwhelmed with decisions last week that for hotels we it. We needed to stay in Northern VA Friday night, Charlottesville VA Saturday night, and Montgomery County Sunday night, and had no real need to be anywhere particular within those areas. I have to say, hotwire picked nice hotels, for lower cost than we would have picked if we knew the names ahead of purchase, although it still makes me nervous generally not being able to obsessively compulsively chose what we're doing and how we're doing it. So hotwire did save me time that would otherwise have been spent mentally preparing for the trip.

We drove two hours after leaving our apartment in the Upper East Side on Friday afternoon before finally making it out of Manhattan. Traffic, even at 3 pm, was nuts. Plus the Garmin wasn't aware that a building had been put up near an entrance to a tunnel so we had to drive around it twice before figuring out an alternative.

Anyways, the drive down was easy, the Westin in Falls Church was nice (especially the hot apple cider waiting for us as we checked in), and Mamma Mia was on TBS right as we got in our room (how lucky is Lilly!). The next morning we drove around Virginia and Maryland for 3 hours with a real estate agent, looking at neighborhoods and trying to figure out what part of town we want to be in (and what we can reasonably afford, which is not much). Lilly was a good sport in the back seat with her dvd player.

We then drove 2 hours down to Charlottesville so Lilly could meet her old best friend from school for a playdate, and her boyfriend and his family for Mexican. It was nice to be back in town, and Lilly got so excited when we drove past her old school. That night as Jon and Lilly settled into the Holiday Inn (which was much nicer inside than we expected from the outside appearance) and discovered that Mamma Mia was on for the second night in a row on TBS (how lucky are we!), I went for a ride to my old stomping ground... Target... and rediscovered the joy of $10 items adding up to much more than I originally wanted to spend.

The next morning we drove back up to Virginia to look at a school we didn't like very much. Disappointed, we then went on a play date with Lilly's new friend Samantha, and they had a wonderful time together. They are just a few weeks apart in age, are both only children, and are so very similar. I really enjoyed watching the girls so appropriately play with each other and enjoy each other's company. Afterwards we drove to Jon's cousin's beautiful house for a very lovely dinner, while Lilly vegged and watched (anticipate this) Mamma Mia on her portable dvd player.

We got to the Hilton in Silver Springs Maryland around 10 pm and Lilly had a late bedtime of 11! Yesterday, Monday, we looked at 4 different Catholic schools that were all so wonderful it made me grateful that we were led in this direction. We think we've decided on one in particular but I don't think we could go wrong with any of the schools, and I'm happy that they are all so enthusiastic about Lilly being part of their community, and have the resources to support such positive inclusion programs that are proven successful by current kids with DS in the schools. As we left the DC area, my heart felt so much lighter and I began to really get excited about this next phase in our lives.

So it was a whirlwind weekend. In the car most of 3 1/2 days, dragged around from houses to schools to hotels. But it was a good weekend. And Lilly and I both cried when she got on the bus this morning. :(

It sounds like I might need to plan our next family trip somewhere...

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Our weekend, in pictures

A laid back, relaxing weekend with family in New Jersey. Lilly was so excited to go, as we got ready first thing Saturday morning.... until she threw up on her bed after inhaling a bagel too quickly. We weren't sure if it was the bagel or if she was sick (she hasn't thrown up in 2 years) so we waited a few hours to make sure she was 100%.

Finally, at 3 pm, we were rushing out the door. Here's miss Lulu in the elevator of our building...

We hopped in a taxi, and arrived at Penn Station with perfect timing - 5 minutes later and we would have to wait an hour for the next train. We settled in happily. What an easy trip so far!

In Seacaucus we had to transfer to another train, which showed up perfectly on time. We again sat down and sang songs and settled in for another 30 minutes on the train, until we would arrive at our destination.

Except... 20 minutes went by and we hadn't moved very far, we just arrived at the first station since leaving the original one. And the train smelled like fire. And they evacuated everyone to the first car of the train. And then they evacuated everyone off the train onto the grass by the side of the train tracks. And then we waited... and waited... and waited... with police cars, firefighters, smoke clouds... yup, our train was on fire. Nice.

So we waited outside in the freezing 20 degree weather. No trains would come by to rescue us, because our train was blocking the track. And we were literally in the middle of nowhere.

After 45 minutes of waiting outside, Jon talked to the police and convinced them to let us sit in their police car. And that's Lilly's first (and hopefully only!) experience sitting in a cop car. Luckily she was in the front seat, not the back, on my lap; but unluckily there was lots of police equipment to keep her grubby little hands off of! No pictures - I wasn't sure the police wanted me to document random people sitting in their car.

We finally arrived at my sister's house and had a great weekend! Sunday we decided to take my other sister's kids to the Princess on Ice show with Lilly. Lilly loves her cousins so much!

You got it dude!

Lilly also loves mommy and daddy.
And MLK Monday, Lilly decided to start the day by running away to "go see daddy" because "he working."

Friday, January 14, 2011


I think anyone who reads my words regularly can anticipate my thoughts on this.

But I can't not address this one more time.

It's a tricky line. I'm not going to tell you I'm pro-choice or pro-life. As a woman it's hard to say that I would want other people to decide what is right for something having to do with my body, my privacy. Yet as a Catholic, I highly respect the right for life. For myself, me personally, my body, I would not be able to ever make a decision that would end the life of a baby growing within me.

I'd like to say that each person is capable of making their own decisions. I'd like to say that if it doesn't personally affect me, a decision should be one's own private thoughts, to live with and deal with on one's own.

And yet it completely totally affects me, and Lilly, whether it wants to or not. The implications of the media and medical community highly promoting abortion for a child who is exactly like my own, using old data, misinformation, fear tactics - this is not "make your own decision." This is not "choice." This is persuasion of having medical tests to make sure nothing is "wrong" with your fetus/baby (depending on how you look at it) and encouraging terminating a pregnancy. Or ending a beautiful person's potential and future - depending on how you look at it.

I can tell you: there is nothing wrong with my baby, my little girl. Oh my God, there is so much right with her I can't even use the word amazing enough. I can't even say enough thankful prayers, I can't even imagine a world, and especially my life, without her beautiful presence. Lord, she heals me and makes everything right.

And that is my life, my decisions, that brought me to this place. It was God's hand, surely, giving me such a precious gift, but we accepted it with such a faith in the bigger picture, that there was a greater purposeful reason that our lives headed in this direction. Lilly is not an accident.

So the thing that gets me - is that I have my views on my life. And I have respect, as a woman, as an American, that those who don't share my views should be free to do as they wish, within legal boundaries.

However - this is where I get upset. Because the doctors are so one-sided. Because they are pushing negativity over potential. They are handing out lists of possible medical complications over showing parents a video of a four year old at her ballet recital. They are disclosing so much bad stuff and not giving a full picture of how this "situation" has so much beauty.

I agree with Becca - and honestly, if we - as parents - don't stick up for our kids, who will? I can't imagine being uninformed and being swayed by perception.

And furthermore - it affects my Lilly directly. If the media is putting out this type of news story - and the world is casually taking it in - then how do these people feel when they pass my child on the street. Sorry for me? Glad it's not their child? And when Lilly goes to school, when she gets a job, when she's out in the community as she grows up - will people limit her potential before they even get to know her?

This is why we fight. Not to necessarily change minds - but fight to get people the proper information. Unbiased accounts. This is why so many people blog about how their own child is making the world a better place, making people laugh, making us love stronger and live better.

A couple years ago I was passionately having a discussion similar to this. And a friend said: it sounds like Down syndrome needs a PR campaign, because it's really not so bad. And it does. And in the past year, our community has acquired a talented person to do just that, through the birth of her little angel and their family's story: I am loving Kelle Hampton's photography and words that make a person feel just a little more grateful for all the blessings in life.

So I don't know if I have a point, really, just my rambling thoughts. If nothing else, I agree that we need to encourage informed decisions. And wish that Down syndrome, generally, didn't have such a target on its back.

And hoping I haven't offended anyone. Like I said... these are just my thoughts.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

This Morning

So all week we've known that Tuesday night we're getting a lot of snow. On Monday I stocked up on groceries (like a good Southerner, even in New York City). I prepared for the worst, as last year in Charlottesville when we were snowed in for 5 different snow storms, for days and days and days, all I knew to buy were frozen pizzas and Us Weekly. This time I have the bread, the milk, the water, the canned soups... and just one celebrity magazine.

Last night, it started snowing. The weather guy predicted 6 inches, then 8, then 10... it was going to be a good snowstorm. Not an outrageous blizzard, but definitely respectable.

All night, we heard snow plows hitting the streets. We're in Upper East Side of Manhattan, so being in the city it is high priority I think to make sure the city can still run properly. I think the goal was, every time a snowflake fell, to swiftly sweep it away.

I mentally came up with a list of things Lilly and I could do today on our snow day. I didn't make her lunch. And this morning I turned on the TV and...

9 inches of snow.

And New York City schools are open on a normal schedule. Seriously?

My friends and family in Atlanta have been snowed in for 3+ days for 6 inches. We were snowed in so many times in Charlottesville last year, I get cabin fever just thinking about snow.

And in New York City, 9 inches is barely a cause for concern.

It's not because it's nothing, but because they are so prepared. They have the snow plows ready, they have plans to get this under control. Before it even started snowing last night, the city was officially in a state of emergency, in preparation for the snow.

So this morning... I quickly made Lilly's lunch. I started feeding her breakfast. And with 30 minutes before her bus comes, I started to get her clothes ready for school.

And here's where disaster (or humor?) happens. Lilly's bus driver calls. They're downstairs waiting.

My girl is still in her PJ's, I hadn't anticipated that she'd be going to school this morning, and the bus is a half hour early?

So, I did what any respectable mom would do. I kept Lilly in her pink zebra pajama's, threw on yellow socks and her fancy black shoes (they were the closest ones I could find), put on her scarf, hat, and jacket, and we ran to the elevator. (Sorry Lil.)

When we got to the bus driver she explained that Lilly was the only child going to school today, for some reason. (?) Maybe everyone else wanted a snow day? Maybe other parents were snowed in so didn't have their kids go to school? Not really sure, but there was my daughter, the only child on her school bus, in her pajama's and a "what the heck is going on" look on her face.

Just when I thought my NYC experience couldn't get more bizarre...

Monday, January 10, 2011

Gushing, a little

I've said it before, in some way or another. I've spelled it out, ranted it, insisted it, used the word "amazing" so much that it's almost losing it's "amazingness"... but it's true.

I am so thankful for Lilly. Not despite of her Down syndrome. Not making "the best of a hard situation." But - I am so so so grateful - to the point of tears as I type this - that my daughter is exactly who she is and that she was made as she is to be a part of our family.

I am so bott0m-of-my-soul grateful that God gave me my little girl who has Down syndrome. Who has her minor struggles and minor delays but who mostly is just the funniest, loveliest, most beautiful - inside and out - person that I know.

I can't imagine someone as... purposeful, I think is the right word - as Lilly. (Perhaps this is part of what gets in the way of me wanting to have another child. Or maybe it's because I really want to take Lilly to Italy... and we can't do that easily with another child... and yet we can't afford it with the house and car and furniture we'll need to buy in July... yes, that too... so we'll put that random kid on hold for awhile longer... at least until Princess Lilly gets to visit Rome...)

But regardless, our lives, my life with little Lilly, is just about perfect. Even with its hecticness and its sacrifices and its exhaustiveness (and most of that derives from Jon and I, not Lilly!) I am just about the most content person when it comes to my daughter.

So in love with her. I said it when she was just a few days old. And still, today. The way she's happy about whatever she eats for dinner, as long as includes "dip" (chicken or fish with ketchup; Mexican with salsa; pasta with marinara). The way, when she sees dancing, she frantically says "Where's my monkey?!" and then holds him with perfect Dancing with the Stars posture and waltzes him around the room. The way she tells me "Love you too, mommy" even if she's the first one to say it. (Because she knows it's an absolute given that I'm head over heels for her.) The way she gets so completely excited when I hand her a magazine when she's on the potty - "People!" she exclaims, even though she can't read but she can sure recognize that word on the front cover, and can distinguish her favorite from my favorite, Us Weekly. The way she can lick every single bit of frosting off a cupcake without inhaling a calorie of the actual "cake" portion. The way she negotiates and filibusters her way into getting exactly what she wants - even letting me think that I've "won" by getting her to wear her mittens, even though she's been promised a cupcake, watching Dirty Dancing, and staying up late in the process. The way she has such a passion for not only learning but showing me what she knows - how bright her mind is - as she recognizes every letter in the alphabet and knows words that starts with each letter, or is learning to sight read "flash cards" that I make for her. The way she always tries to hail a taxi, even if we're walking, and usually can get their attention. And when she's so disappointed when we take her to church or to the circus, because she thought she was going to Broadway to see Lion King or Mamma Mia, or watch an episode of Glee. (I misled her on Sunday by telling her there was a choir at church... and she was NOT happy when she found out it wasn't the Glee choir... whoops!) The way, hardened New Yorkers turn and look at us for just a few seconds longer, breaking into a smile, for a mamma and her little girl, so happy and in love, bopping down the street.

I love my daughter. Our lives may be somewhat nuts at times due to so many circumstances, but I wouldn't change a thing. I wouldn't laugh as hard or love as deeply if it wasn't for my little Lulu.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

A Nothing Saturday

In theory, we did nothing today. Lilly and I literally didn't even leave the apartment until 5pm, and that was for a walk around the block (pushing her monkey in the stroller of course). Jon was on-call today, and was at the hospital for a good part of the day. And in New York City in well-below-freezing weather with nowhere really to go, and no way to easily get anywhere (it's not like we have a car here, or a Target either), so it's not like we can just bundle up and go somewhere to kill time. And I've had a little cold, so I didn't feel very adventurous. So we stayed inside. Really, it should have been a boring day.


I am so loving the new mommying that I am doing in our family. Amidst the usual watching of Broadway clips on youtube, and Lilly reinacting parts of Sound of Music, and ending the day with a little Full House (love hearing Lilly's "You got it, dude!"); we had a great do-nothing day. For example: we made homemade pizza for lunch. Rolling out the dough, putting on the sauce and cheese, being directed by my 4 year old to "take pictures" through the process... I love the "moments" we have, and through it all, Lilly learning while kneading the dough, following directions, remembering how we did it last time. And creating such good memories of being 4 years old and making pizza with mommy and daddy, that we will all treasure.

Daddy helping...

Mommy helping... (disregard the no-makeup no-shower look)

And the pictures are actually loaded correctly in chronological order - despite what the sauce on the pizza may allude to. Because we actually split the dough in two to make two small pizza's. That way, Lilly can make one, and we put it in the oven, and she can work on the second while we wait for the first to cook. And, add veggies to the second one for the grown-ups.

And a little tasting... (her favorite part!)

It was so nice, that during the window that she might be inclined to take a nap (if she doesn't take a nap around 1pm, she's unlikely to fall asleep at all), I decided instead to have her make cupcakes with me. From scratch. (First time not even using mix for the "cake" part!) And Lilly enthusiastically helped, not even an hour after making the pizza's.

Tasting again... having picked pink of course for the homemade buttercream frosting. Note that the pink on her nails is old nail polish, not icing. And did I mention? We don't have beaters or mixers or anything in NYC this year (it's all packed away) so we mix everything by hand - with a old wooden spoon or literally with our hands. But, for the icing, we used a miniature food processor, and it didn't do a half bad job (see in the background):

And a little more tasting...

Happiness is being four years old and eating pink icing.

The result:

And another project: my ladybug now loves to cut. And cut and cut and cut. (And demands that there be picture-taking while she cuts.) She's been interested in scissors for awhile, but I realized recently if I drew lines on paper, then she would cut right on the lines. And would be oh-so-proud of herself. So I drew fringe lines...

And longer lines across full sheets of paper...

The paper I used isn't regular paper; it's actually old wide envelopes - which works better because it's thicker and better for a novice cutter. For some reason Lilly was cutting right handed yesterday although she's traditionally left handed.
And, as we struggled to think of more things to do today, creativity took over. We are always looking for ways to incorporate colors into our lives. So, today I took sheets of construction paper in 5 different colors (two of each) and laid them out on the floor. Then I told Lilly that we'd dance until I said stop and then sit on the color I said (so that she'd have to correctly identify which one to sit on: but it was slightly easier because I was playing too so she'd see which one I sat on first if she needed to - the goal is always to make it fun before I frustrate her). We've never played this type of game before, but Lilly made it even better by suggesting we dance "fast" and then "slow" and then stop and pick a color. So we did. And she got every single color perfectly. We switched it up a little by kicking fast and slow, or hopping, or clapping, etc. Later on we showed daddy the game, and only Lilly played by herself, as we shouted out colors when she finished dancing fast and slow, and with no mommy hints, she again got each one right. Love when playing and fun and learning mix.
Another thing we thought of today was using a small notebook that Lilly doodles in. It's smaller than an index card, and I decided to write each letter of the alphabet really big on each page of the notebook. As I wrote each letter in upper case, Lilly told me which one I was writing. She got all 26 correct. Then I wrote each lower case letter, and she knew most of them. So proud! Then she practiced by herself flipping through the notebook and looking at random letters and telling me what they were. And before bed tonite, Lilly showed her daddy what she could do, and went through all 26 both upper and lower case getting every single one perfectly. Proud proud proud.
And, while we were randomly coloring, Lilly drew a C and said "C" and a "J" and said "J" (completely unassistated with no prompting from me). (She knows how to draw the letters in her name - L, I, and Y - and O of course because it's a circle - but no my knowledge didn't know how to actually write other letters by herself.) Then we worked together and she wrote D, M, T, and a few others. Proud!
And not as proud, but still a little... Lilly drew so many happy faces today. Of course, most of them were on her legs and my tummy... in red permanent marker... but nice nonetheless.
And while we got ready for bed tonite, Lilly and I again had a "moment" singing "Slipping through my fingers" to each other (see the Wanderlust post a couple days ago) a dozen times. Cutest girl ever.
So, a Saturday without plans in bad weather can still be a whole lot of fun - if you're with the right person. :)

Friday, January 7, 2011

Grocery Shopping

New York City is nuts. Oh it's also great in some ways but you can definitely see some craziness. Literally.

Like the lady at Whole Foods a few months ago, who was waiting in line. (Our Whole Foods has a weird line thing where there are three lines but like 30 cash registers so you have to look at a TV screen to know where you're supposed to go.) Anyways the lady didn't know to go at her turn. And another lady near her said "You should go to register 9." And the first lady said "Don't tell me what to do! I'm going to F%(# you up, B$#(%!" Huh.

Or during holiday grocery shopping at Food Emporium. And a lady walked down the aisle and gently brushed the cart of another lady while going by. (The aisles in NYC grocery stores aren't very wide.) And the second lady said "Don't bump into me!" and totally hit her upside the head. Huh.

Or yesterday. I was on my way to Trader Joe's in Union Square. And at a light waiting to cross the street, a guy about my age had his dog on a leash, and a nice looking lady in her 50's was standing next to them. The conversation began just like it might in Charlottesville, or Atlanta... "How old is your dog?" she asked. And the guy said "Two and a half." And the lady said "What are you doing to him? He looks awful." And the guy said "What about you? You look f*#$ing awful, b*#$h!" And the conversation continued in that regard as quickly walked a distance away... Huh.

Forget the movies. I'm avoiding taking Lilly to the grocery store here until she's 17, so she won't witness violence or hear foul language.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011


Lately, I just want to go. Someplace. Anyplace. Just get up and get on a plane or in a car or on a boat and travel and explore and just go do something, see something, experience something.

And I'm lying when I say lately. It's been like years that I've been bitten with this bug of wanting to get up and go.

It hit me hard in New Zealand. Because when you're living in a random foreign country, you want to see all of it. Because when you're slightly uncomfortable in your new surroundings, why not just go for it? Drive hours in any direction, eat in off the beaten path cafes, see things that you wouldn't see anywhere else. And goodness, does it help when your little angel is just as excited as you are to experience everything life has to offer. And living on an oversized island for a year, we constantly felt the urge to run away. So we took further trips, plane rides to the South Island, Australia, Fiji, even back to America. Because being transient makes one feel the need to be even more transient, I guess.

And as we tried to settle back into Charlottesville life, we were still bitten with the get-up-and-go-bug. I was constantly trying to go anywhere, ready to go explore whatever there was at any moment.

And now, living in New York City, we feel probably the most displaced -as this new lifestyle is by far the most different that we've lived as a young family - and wow do I just want to leave. Not to escape New York - we are settled in now for our year and there are parts to this life that I love. But it's more like - I really want to take the opportunity at every chance I get to just leave - vacation - holiday - escape.

Apparently we're not the only people to ever feel this way, because there's actually a word for it: wanderlust. And I actually didn't even know what it meant, besides reading a Danielle Steel book by that name a number of years back. But I ran across the word today and looked it up and - voila:

Wanderlust: a strong desire for or impulse to wander or travel and explore the world.

I think I've caught that bug. Seriously.

It helps (hurts?) that I love researching travel. Like, obsessively. It may appear that I travel a good bit - (we went to Atlanta and Disney World in June; Atlanta and Jamaica in September; Disney World and New Orleans in October; and Atlanta for both Thanksgiving and Christmas - plus I went to Charlottesville for work and Jon went to Canada, California, DC, and St Louis for work) - but for each actual vacation there are like 37 that I've thoroughly researched and planned out as options. Like, when Jon and I went to Jamaica a couple months ago I also had Bermuda, Vegas, Canada, Napa Valley, St. Lucia, and Ireland on the back-burner. And I could easily give you price quotes off the top of my head for current airfares to 20 cities, plus costs for every Disney Cruise and Disney hotel. And a day doesn't go by without me checking prices on a potential trip to Italy. (Because if the cost goes down perhaps I could maybe, potentially, afford it? And Lulu would SO love the pasta...) I can't help it. It just makes me happy. Or something.

And travel is one of the things I supposedly gave up when I gave up my job in November. Like, we have savings but we're not dipping in there, and we have a budget for regular life: so there isn't random travel money that we can spend at the moment. And yet the urge to go somewhere, do something, is stronger than ever.

Maybe it's because we're into January and we don't know where we're moving in less than 6 months; although that should be resolved in the next few weeks. Maybe it's because we're in New York for just more 6 months and haven't planted roots and aren't planning to at this point, so I just want to do something memorable with my year. Maybe it's because it's winter and I just really want to migrate to warmer weather like the birds. Maybe it is in fact because Lilly is such a great little traveler that I want to make the most of every single experience in life. Lord, if I acted upon "she's only this age once" every time, I would so be broke.

And it doesn't help at all that Lilly, in her extreme Mamma Mia phase, loves having a "moment" with me (yes she calls it a "moment" too - not just my words) - when Slipping Through My Fingers comes on. We hold each other and sing to each other and of course I cry and Lilly does her best Meryl Streep impersonation:
"Sleep in our eyes
Her and me at the breakfast table
Barely awake
I let precious time go by
Then when she's gone
There's that odd melancholy feeling
And a sense of guilt
I can't deny
What happened to the wonderful adventures
The places I had planned for us to go
Well some of that we did
But most we didn't
And why I just don't know

Slipping through my fingers all the time
I try to capture every minute
The feeling in it
Slipping through my fingers all the time
Do I really see what's in her mind
Each time I think I'm close to knowing
She keeps on growing
Slipping through my fingers all the time

Sometimes I wish that I could freeze the picture
And save it from
the funny tricks of time
Slipping through my fingers..."

I kid you not: when Lilly and I watched that part of the movie last year, especially right before her heart surgery, it was 100% responsible for me booking the Disney Cruise last winter...

Anyway, the point is: life is short. We're such nomads, not staying in the same place for more than a year at a time. We don't know where we'll be in 6 months. Lilly is growing way too fast.

What is my point? A random post about the random urge to travel? Not entirely. Because this is Lilly's World, this is actually about her. My little four year old so has wonderlust too.

We arrived home from Atlanta on Friday. By Saturday, I was already itching to think about our next vacation, what could we possibly plan. And on Sunday night, it hit Lilly too. We were watching video clips on youtube, as we occasionally do (mostly Broadway) but I had wandered over to a couple videos of Disney rides and rollar coasters. And as my girl sat and watched Big Thunder Mountain and Splash Mountain rides (which she hasn't been on yet - she's just about tall enough now though!) and It's a Small World and Buzz Lightyear and Goofy's Barnstormer - she suddenly put her arm in the air and exclaimed: "Me!" and jumped up, ran to Jon, said, "C'mon!" and put on her coat and hat, grabbed her purse (of course) and walked out the door. Dude, my girl is ready to go.

We convinced her to come back inside - yes, Lilly, we will go back to Disney World for sure - but not tonight!

And then... the next day... she woke up and said "Airplane! Me?" Sorry Lilly, no airplane today, just school. For now.
I remember when we first heard the possible diagnosis of Down syndrome when Lulu was just 3 months along in my belly, and not knowing any real information about what it truly meant - limits, possibilities, etc, and my very first thought about Lilly's future was this: That's ok. When Lilly grows up, we can just travel together. She'll be my little companion. A random thought, not knowing what my tiny baby would be like when she grew up - but turns out, my belly heard me and decided to start young.

Maybe, once we move for the (hopefully) last time this summer, and settle in, and start our "real" lives, we won't feel such an urge to go someplace. Or maybe it's just who we are.

The last two weeks: in pictures.

Lilly doing a couple last minute Christmas crafts on Christmas-Eve-Eve. Macaroni Christmas tree...

And a puzzle wreath. (Thanks Grandma for the materials!)

A sleepy little girl with bedhead. But still adorable!
Here is proof. It's not just me saying my girl is a fantastic traveler. Here she is in the super long security line on the way to Atlanta on Christmas Eve. She is a pro! Look how happy she is to be flying!

Merry Christmas, y'all, from Atlanta. Here Lilly is on Christmas morning after going to mass with Grandma and Paw Paw, in front of the Christmas tree, ready to open presents.

And Happy New York City New Year! Here's Lilly at 10:30 pm with her non-alcoholic (obviously) sparkling apple cider. And her daddy.

Now time for bed!

Lilly is learning some photography skills after getting her own camera for the holidays. However, this shot was with my camera. (I haven't sorted through hers yet - there are 1200+ pictures she took!) But this is typical of her shots - at the floor. Of her feet. :)

Missy moo woke up the other night at 10pm just in time for a little cup of hot cocoa. And she sure does love it! Especially the part about drinking from a grown up mug, sitting with her daddy, and of course... the chocolate!

Happy hot chocolate, everybody!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011


On Sunday, Jon took Lilly to the circus. Because it was either the circus or the Nutcracker, and we thought she'd like the circus better (she's been to the circus in New Zealand twice, but hasn't been to one since). (The Nutcracker was only on the radar because Suri Cruise went last week, and the girls are just a month apart, and have so much in common so you know...) Anyways, Lilly liked the circus, but was actually disappointed a little because she had anticipated going to Broadway (as all 4 year olds do on their Sundays out with daddy?). At the house before they left, I told her she was going to see the lions. She said "Lion King? Yay!!!" And during the actual show, she got up from her seat and started to walk out. Jon said "Where are you going, Lilly?" She replied "Mamma Mia." *Sigh* I guess we have refined her taste just a little too much.

In other news, Lilly is a teenager. She went to bed at 7 pm last night, and was still sleeping in at 7:30 this morning when I had to drag her out of bed. She would sleep well past 8 if I let her, as she did every day of her winter vacation. (Not that 8 is super late, but in 4 year old land it really is; she's been a chronic 7 am wakeup little girl since she was a baby. Plus, the school bus comes at 8-8:15ish so it really is too late!) But the funny thing about her sleeping in is that, she doesn't hop out of bed ready for the day. She lounges around, sticks her head under the covers, tries desperately for those few extra moments of shut eye. Meanwhile, every weekend day she is up at 6:30 popping out of bed like popcorn, ready to enthusiastically start her day.

And not Lilly related: I have become a chef at Casa de Sherman. In other words, I am cooking every night, and it is really inexpensive (especially compared to our standard NYC takeout and restaurant eating that we were formerly used to), nutritious, and has actually gotten us out of a food rut. Being a vegetarian, we were used to just a few things that I'd cook every day. But lately I've been cooking so much variety and even the non-veggies in the house (Jon and Lilly) are happy. Miss Lilly is actually eating veggies and trying new things each day, which makes mommy happy. Saturday night we had Shepherd's Pie, Sunday night we had veggie Sloppy Joe's, and last night we had a fantastic salad and chunky tomato soup.

Finally, for those of you anxiously on the edge of your seats waiting for us to make a decision on The Next Move: July 2011: I think it will be announceable by January 17, so mark your calendars. As for any hints: we still have 5 places up in the air as possibilities - each time we're about to rule one out, it comes back as a better option, and vice versa. (I've compared it to a Whodunit murder mystery on a soap opera - when everyone knows that Erica Kane has most likely pulled the trigger in the end, they go back and forth about it a million times with false leads, new evidence....) But anyway, it will be nice to finally "know" for all of us so that we can start planning the next phase of our lives. In the meantime, I will be daydreaming about another Disney vacation...

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy first day of 2011

Lilly got to stay up late last night - until almost 11! We did a "countdown" to "midnight" at 10:30, and Lilly, Jon and I all had sparkling cider in champagne glasses. Lilly was so excited to be a "grown up."

Today, Lilly and I celebrated the first day of 2011 by... doing absolutely nothing. Jon's on call all weekend, and he had do operate most of the day today. So Lilly and I just hung out. She didn't even leave the house. But it was so nice to just spend time together, me and my girl. Mostly she wanted to watch Muppets Take Manhattan. She loves "the pig." And I absolutely love her rendition of "Somebody's Getting Married."

But in between the playing and hanging out and doing nothing-ness, I got to actually think of ways to teach my girl. The issue is, Lilly hates feeling like someone is "teaching" her. Because it means that she doesn't know something, and she doesn't want to feel like that. (She's a teenager, at the age of 4 - she knows everything.) So I have to get creative when teaching her new things.

We were coloring, and I decided to make new flashcards for her - which I do often for various things she needs to learn. We've made a gazillion color cards by now, and she's finally learning them! And we focus on the ABC's a ton as well, and she knows all her upper cases almost perfectly. But today, I made shape cards. I haven't really focused a lot on shapes - except she knows circles really well and can draw them. Lilly loves playing with all kinds of "cards" but the problem with ones we buy (although she loves them) are that they are too distracting. For example, we have shape cards where the circle is blue, the square is orange, etc. Or Elmo is holding the circle, Grover is holding the square, etc. The issue is that there are too many things to identify - I can show her the circle and she will want to tell me it's blue or tell me Elmo is on the card. But, today with the cards I made myself, I did every shape in the same color. That way, all she has to do is look at the shape itself. I also write the shape name under the shape itself - Lilly is getting good at sight reading/identification, and it's an extra help to teach her what she's looking at. Finally, I make two of every card - because when we're doing something for the first time, it's easier to match than to just identify it (and it takes the pressure off Lilly a little, which makes her want to do the activity more). Even as she matches them, I say the name and she repeats it so that she's getting it somehow and it becomes more familiar.

So I made cards for circle, square, diamond, oval, triangle, rectangle, and star. She actually did these really well, so she must have picked these up when we've done other shape things along the way. I was actually surprised when I was organizing the cards and she picked up the oval and said "oval." And knew the others easily as well.

Then when we went through all the cards for awhile, I made number cards, 1 through 10. Again, she knows these kind-of, but not totally accurately so it was nice to have duplicate cards for matching, and she can definitely count to 10 (actually, 20 now). She is so good at her alphabet letters, so it's good for her to focus on recognizing the numbers as well.

Anyways, that's probably all boring for anyone who is not directly interested but I'm definitely proud of Lilly and I for putting our day to good use for some learning, and glad now that I actually have time to think about more ways to encourage and motivate her. I'm always so impressed by how she picks up things.

And along the lines of kind-of-boring-but-I'm-proud-of-myself-ness, I made vegetarian Shepherd's pie tonight from scratch. It was so super delicious, even though I used every pot and pan we own, and it took 2 hours. Timing actually worked out because Lilly went to bed before it was ready (after eating her own dinner of organic fish nuggets, actually - not from scratch - but proud again because it's only her second time ever eating fish) because she hadn't napped, so Jon and I actually got to enjoy a meal without Muppets or Princess Tiana (not that I'm complaining...).

And, I'm really impressed that when cooking from scratch I save so much money in groceries, I know exactly what is in the food we're eating, and it's all (relatively) healthy.

Happy first day of 2011. I think this is going to be a good year for us.