Thursday, February 10, 2011


I had never taught Lilly "duck duck goose." We sing a whole lot of songs, play lots of games, find lots of creative ways to fill our time; but the only "circle" game we play is "ring around the rosy."

I think they must be playing "duck duck goose" regularly at school though, as Lilly has been coming home for the past week or two begging to play it with us. The first time I was shocked that she knew exactly how to play it - she set me and Jon on the carpet, with her monkey and a baby in between us, and started patting our heads as she walked around the circle: "Duck, duck, duck, duck, GOOSE!" Then she would pick up the monkey and have him chase her around the circle as she shouted: "Gemegemegemegemegeme!" ("Get me get me get me"... but really fast.)

My mom said she's played it with Lilly in the past, so she's learned it there, but she definitely has perfected it at school as she's been obsessed with playing it all the time now. And it's so cute as we run around chasing each other, laughing and smiling. And it's a game she's definitely good at.

Yesterday when she came home from school, I showed her a bag of old "My Little Pony's" that were handed down from her cousin. It was her first time really playing with them, and she was excited. She pulled each one out of the bag, and named it. Their names were, in order: "Mom, Mom, Mommy, Mommy, Lilly, Daddy, Lilly, Lilly, and Mommy." She lined them all up as she told them their names. And then she moved the line of ponies into a circle. And she took one from the end and said "Duck, duck..." and started the ponies with playing "duck duck goose." And when the "pony" finally said "goose," she had the two ponies chase each other around the "circle" and she shouted "gemegemegemegemegeme!" Love it.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Catching up with pictures

Busy times around here; but I finally uploaded the past few weeks of pictures. Enjoy!

Here's Lilly in Charlottesville with her old best friend and her best friend's sister, from our visit a few weeks ago:
Lilly making pizza with her cousins:

And my favorite: Lilly's new hip hop dance class. So proud of my girl; she did great! First class was Friday, and I was so nervous. She took ballet last year and loved it, but it was slower paced. But this dance class was perfect for her. She had such a good time! Can't wait for next week.

Lilly's first booty-shorts!

My little teenager, on the computer:

Lilly's swimming lessons. Or as she says, "The pool with 'the man.'"

A good weekend!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The Bucket List

The bucket list. Things we want to accomplish in our lives.

Lilly on a boat in Puerto Rico

Lots of things have been on my general bucket list. Things I had always planned to do: get married, go to law school, have a little girl I'd name after my grandmother.

Lilly at a beach in Puerto Rico

And then the things that I hadn't planned but sound even cooler: marry a neurosurgeon, have a beautiful daughter who has Down syndrome (in retrospect I SO wish I had originally had this on my bucket list because what an amazing journey!), and live in New Zealand for a year.
Lilly has her own little bucket list, which is incredible. The things she's done, the adventures she's had, the experiences we've witnessed - wow.

At the Sydney zoo with the harbour and skyline behind us

At an Australian cultural show

For all that we lack in stability of living in one place for more than a year and having "normalcy," we've instead been able to provide her with many once-in-a-lifetime experiences. Like living in New York City for a year and having Central Park and Broadway shows be her playground and normal entertainment. Bizarre. And helicopter rides in the Bay of Islands in New Zealand, and weekly horsebackriding in Virginia, and constantly living in places with amazing views - whether it's a water view with Waiheke Island, the Blue Ridge Mountains, or New York skyscrapers. Really insane, this little girl's childhood. And she's only 4.

Waiheke Island winetasting (water for Lulu)

Ferry to Waiheke

Botanical Gardens in Wellington, New Zealand

The joke when we lived in New Zealand is that we were experiencing the world, one playground at a time. Because we literally were traveling all over, and amidst our experiences we would always seem to find a swing with an amazing backdrop in a unique location. And that is the stuff in which memories are made from. Seeing Lilly swing in Sydney Australia, St Heliers Auckland, Queenstown on the South Island, throughout all over Manhattan.

Swinging in Wellington

Jon and I have been talking a lot about Europe recently, since we've booked our cruise. In our little family of 3, he is the most-traveled, and spent a good amount of time overseas. I asked him, from his summer abroad, what did he most remember? What was the most meaningful? What was his greatest impression of the cities he visited?

Sheep World, an hour outside of Auckland

The funniest and fun-est (not a word, but seriously was) time of my life - a giant hamster wheel. I gotta get me one of these!

Swinging in Coromandel Peninsula

And he answered: he was sightseeing with big tour groups. They moved quickly from one museum, monument, sculpture, exhibit, to the other. They checked things off their list, learned a few facts, and kept moving. He had been in Barcelona once before, and said he never saw the city; the tour moved too fast and there wasn't time to really explore, and appreciate what he was seeing. It was great to see, but he missed out on a lot of special "moments" that way.


Lilly with the locals in Fiji

Now, with a 4 year old (who will be 5 at the time of our trip), I don't count on doing too many sight seeing tours. And while I find the history of these cities fascinating, especially how old and intact so much is in Europe. How cool would it be to see Pompeii, or visit the museums in Florence? But I don't think this particular visit will be that kind of trip.

Playground in Waiheke

Playground in St Heliers

Helicopter over the Bay of Islands (coolest thing ever)

I'm actually much more interested, this time, in the people. In the way of life. In each city's uniqueness. In each playground we can find, and have Lilly play next to the local children. In each off the beaten path restaurant. I mean, the history is cool, no doubt: but from the way we've traveled with Lilly during our New Zealand year, the coolest part is the experience, how each place makes you feel, not exactly what you did or saw. That's not to take away at all from the traditional "excursions" - but moreso how can we best explore these Mediterranean cities in a way that checks things off our bucket list? Lilly on a beach in Corsica? check. Lilly on a playground in Malta? check. Lilly eating traditional pizza near Naples? check. Lilly on a local train to explore a small town near La Spezia? check. Lilly on a camel in Tunisia? check.

Lilly at a vineyard at the North part of the North Island, NZ

Lilly on a ferry to Devonport

I do have two places on my own personal bucket list though that I want to experience, which are worth forcing a little girl to sit through a boring tour, and they both exist in Rome. It's the Vatican, and the Coliseum. I can skip some of the other things in favor of a more well-rounded kid-friendly experience, but not the Vatican and Coliseum. It doesn't matter who you are, those are on the bucket list. Hoping they are on Lilly's as well, because we're planning an all day excursion to see them, plus Villa Borghese (which from what I can tell sounds a lot like the "Central Park" of Rome), and a traditional meal at a restaurant in Rome, which I'm hoping will contain pasta comparable to what Julia Roberts was eating in Eat Pray Love.

Lilly and I on swing in Queenstown, South Island, NZ

I feel like this trip-of-a-lifetime will be filled with fantastic memories and a little bit of sensory overload, but perhaps in mostly keeping with the "tour a playground in each city" experience that we maintained during our New Zealand year, Lilly will have a fabulous and fun trip as well. And there will be nothing cooler than sitting on a beach in Corsica on my 30th birthday... check!

Lilly in NYC

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Another weekend. Without pictures.

If I wait to upload pictures, you'll never get a new blog post. Jon took some cutie pictures of Lilly from her weekend, but I'm just too lazy (busy?) to get them on here. But I don't want to keep you waiting on what we've been up to, so I'll write anyways.

It's kind of like running. Last time I ran regularly, it was September 1. I remember because it was the day before Lilly was choked by that awful little boy at school, the day before her last day of her old school. I was training for my 5K so I was running every day up until then; but after that I just couldn't. Part of me subconsciously felt that if I hadn't been running, if I hadn't been working, if I hadn't been distracted, I would have picked up on the fact that Lilly was so unhappy because she was being bullied every day at school, until finally she was physically attacked.

So I stopped running. And I haven't been able to run since. And then I got out of shape, somewhat. And I couldn't make myself run, then, because I knew I wouldn't be "good" at running. So I didn't even try. Until this past week. When I said, I'll just run a mile. Because if I said I'd try to run 2 or 3 miles, I wouldn't even put on my running shoes. But 1 mile is do-able. It takes 10 minutes. I can commit to 10 minutes of something. So every day for the past few days I've been running a mile. It's not huge, but it's more than nothing.

So that's what you get on the blog today. No pictures, but a few stories of our weekend - because it's more than nothing.

Really, Jon should be writing this. Not that he particularly likes writing on the blog - although he's done in a couple times - or that he has the time - but because he and Lilly had a great weekend together. He said he woke up yesterday - Monday morning - feeling so sad that he had to work because he had such a good weekend with our girl. And that's saying something, because Jon loves work.

Saturday morning was the first day of Lilly's swimming lessons. She's taking the class with her best friend in our neighborhood, a little 5 year old girl. We were nervous because it was Lilly's first swimming class that wasn't a "parent-child" class, and Lilly is just 4, so it's hard to imagine her swimming by herself.

But she did great. Jon said Lilly was so excited once she saw the pool (it was at a fancy hotel - NYC is so funny), and she jumped in the water. The swimming instructor was great, and she was very comfortable with him. (Later when she recounted the story to us - she said she went swimming with "the man".) Jon said she was so confident in the water, and really enjoyed herself. And there's a maximum of 3 kids for the 1 instructor, but only she and her friend were there that day so it was almost like a personal lesson. If you really want to see cute pictures, and are facebook friends with me, check them out on my wall. (Is there a way to link FB pics on a blog?) Then Lilly and her friend and the dads hung out for the afternoon, and Lilly had a great play date.

After that it was time for Lilly to see her cousins! Lyn and Jules came over and made fresh pizza with Whole Foods pizza dough. They had a blast. Lilly was an expert at saucing up the pizzas (her favorite part - although she mostly eats all the sauce - but I can't complain because she enjoys it so much!) And the girls had a good time making the dough into pizza shape (we made 6 personal size pizzas), putting on their own toppings, etc. It was a lot of fun, and Lilly loves being with her older cousins.

The next day, Lilly got to go sledding with her cousins in Central Park! She again had the best time ever. Jon said she was the happiest she's ever been. They went sledding down big hills, and had a snowball fight. Jon said Lilly picked a fight with a tree, and threw lots of snow at it. Another successful afternoon! (Again: if you want pictures, see FB.)

I love spending time with Lilly, but I love even more (in some ways) hearing about Lilly and Jon's adventures. Even though the 3 of us have a great time, it's so great to hear about the bonding Lilly and Jon have when they're together, building wonderful memories. It's amazing to think about what 4 year olds retain in their memories. Lilly still talks almost daily about the time she and Jon went to see Lion King on Broadway - it certainly made an impression even though it was 6 months ago. ("Lion King show with daddy" she says often, sometimes adding: "Not mommy. Daddy.")

The best part of being a parent is building memories with our girl. And I'm so excited as we start planning our Mediterranean adventure less than 6 months away! (Hint: the key for a successful trip will be finding a playground in each port city...)